Tuesday, March 31, 2020

Review Tuesday: The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews #ReviewTuesday #Literature #Family

The Flying Troutmans by Miriam Toews
Random House Canada, 2008

Sane families are all alike; every crazy family is crazy in its own way.

With apologies to Leo Tolstoy, this could well be the tag line for Miriam Toews’ original and moving novel, The Flying Troutmans.

Hattie Troutman is living in Paris, trying to adjust to being dumped by her boyfriend, when she gets a long-distance call from her eleven year old niece Thebes (short for Theodora) in Manitoba. Hattie’s older sister Min has, once again, descended into severe depression, leaving Thebes and her brother Logan to cope alone. In fact Hattie has fled to France to escape from her apparent inability to help her brilliant and disturbed sibling. However, she can’t leave the two kids without supervision, despite the fact at twenty six she’s aimless, confused and hardly feels like an adult herself.

She arrives to find everything including the house falling apart. Min had been hospitalized and won’t speak to Hattie or the children. Logan’s about to be expelled from school. Thebes hasn’t taken a shower in a week.

Desperate to do something, Hattie piles the kids into their aging Aerostar van along with a slew of music CDs, a box of art supplies and a cooler of soda. They hit the road to look for the kids’ long-lost father Cherkis, who disappeared into the vast U.S. after Min kicked him out. Following rumor and instinct, the Troutmans zigzag through the American heartland – South Dakota, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, finally making it to the Mexican border – in a quest that doesn’t really bring them any closer to solutions, but does help them understand how much they love and need one another.

The description above doesn’t really do this book justice, though. All the characters are bizarre, quirky, and extreme. Thebes and Logan (who’s a moody, hormonal fifteen year old) have a precocious intelligence and unfettered creativity that make their conversations a gift. Hattie has no control over them – indeed, very little over herself – as she stumbles along, trying without much success to play the role of competent guardian. The shadow of Min hangs over them all: Min who has tried to kill herself so many times that she’s bound to get it right eventually.

I thought about pulling some quotes into this review, but discovered that the stream-of-consciousness flow of the novel doesn’t lend itself to carving out snippets. Suffice to say that this book is a joy, even when the themes are dark and the times apparently desperate. The Flying Troutmans provides grace and humor on every page. The kids are annoying, sometimes even disgusting, yet you cannot help but adore them. And maybe, as I did, you’ll feel a sense of kinship, a familiarity that reminds you’ve experienced some of this sort of insanity in your own family.

I highly recommend The Flying Troutmans. It might well bring tears to your eyesit did to mine - but it will also leave you smiling.

Monday, March 30, 2020

He’s the man she’s been waiting for - #RomanticSuspense #PhoenixAgency @TinaDonahue

Deadly Diagnosis cover


A lifesaving gift…a plan for domination and death.

Within her unique DNA, Kimana holds the means to cure any illness permanently, a talent she’s used on those in her Shoshone community. When the billionaire owner of a pharmaceutical concern accidentally discovers what she can do, he fears the end to disease and his profits, and wants her dead.

As a member of the Phoenix Agency, Lucas arrives to protect Kimana from those set on her destruction. Ex-military intelligence, he’s seen a lot but no one like her, a woman seemingly born for him, her presence needed in his life, her gift as unique as his paranormal talent. To Kimana, he’s the man she’s been waiting for.

Together, they battle an adversary driven by insatiable greed who’ll stop at nothing to take what he wants. When her and Lucas’s lives are at risk, her gift can only save one before draining her life force and threatening her existence.

A sacrifice she’s willing to make for Lucas.


A distressed or weary sigh wafted into this room from the kitchen.

The narrow doorway leading into it didn’t allow much view, simply a counter and low cabinets painted a sunny yellow, long female legs dangling over them.

Lucas dipped to the side to see more.

Kaku slipped her arm through his. “My granddaughter’s in the kitchen. We’ll talk there.” She pulled him toward it and leaned close, her mouth near his ear. “I’m afraid she was against you coming today, but I insisted.” Her voice lowered to a whisper. “You’ll have to win her over, though I’m sure you will.”

Another matter Dan had failed to mention.

Considering Poca followed them, Lucas spoke as quietly as she had. “Are she and the officer married?”

Heavens no. I’m not certain they’re even friends any longer.” She pulled him inside the kitchen. “Kimana, please get down and greet our guest.”

Lucas hoped she would since every word he’d known had drifted away. His pulse ticked up, and his cock thickened.

Given her long legs, he guessed her to be five-eight or so standing. A good height to match a tall man. Youth blessed her pretty features, telling him she was, at most, late twenties. She’d worked her glossy black hair into a long braid that hung over her narrow shoulder. The script on her T-shirt read: Bossy Jerk Meet A PO’D Feminist — Let’s See Who Wins.

Little wonder she and Poca weren’t buddies any longer.

Lucas fought a pleased smile at her fire and tightened nipples. Those babies poked her smooth cotton top, the fabric hugging her like skin. The same for her fashionably ragged jeans.

He liked her cowboy boots. Referring to them as cowgirl wouldn’t have been right for such a spirited woman. One he was eager to meet and win over, as Kaku had said. “Hi.” He held out his hand. “I’m Lucas Byrne from the Phoenix Agency.”

She frowned at him then gave it to Poca.

He pushed past Lucas, knocking his shoulder to reach her side. “I’ll get rid of him. He and that damn agency won’t bother you—”

Why are you still here?” Her scowl worsened. “No.” She lifted her hand before he could answer, protest, or draw his gun. “Why did you bother coming over? Kaku didn’t send for you and I sure as fuck didn’t.”

Kimana.” The old woman sagged. “Must you use such language?”

At the admonition, regret rose in her dark-brown eyes, love and respect quickly replacing the first emotion.

Lucas’s dick hardened further. A curious though reasonable response. Her gutsy side was something, the feminine part even better. There weren’t many men he knew who could resist her soulful gaze, Poca included.

The poor guy edged toward her.

Her hard look not only stopped Poca but encouraged him to retreat to a far corner where he stayed. For the moment.

She gave Kaku a remorseful smile. “Sorry. I’ll be better. Mr. Byrne.” She didn’t come down from the counter, join him, or shake his hand. “You shouldn’t have come. I don’t need your help.”

He kept his manner non-threatening and gracious. “That isn’t what I heard.”

About the Author

Tina is an Amazon and international bestselling novelist who writes romance for every taste – ‘heat with heart’ – for traditional publishers and indie. Booklist, Publisher’s Weekly, Romantic Times and numerous online sites have praised her work. Three of her erotic novels were Readers' Choice Award winners. Another three were named finalists in the EPIC competition. One of her erotic contemporary romances was chosen Book of the Year at the French review site Blue Moon reviews. The Golden Nib Award at Miz Love Loves Books was created specifically for one of her erotic romances. Two of her titles received an Award of Merit in the RWA Holt Medallion competition. Another two won second place in the NEC RWA contest (different years). Tina is featured in the Novel & Short Story Writer’s Market. Before penning romances, she worked at a major Hollywood production company in Story Direction.

Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/1ChWFkO

My page at TRR: http://bit.ly/1vb7eEc

Sweet ‘n Sexy Divas: http://bit.ly/1ChWN3K

Romance Books 4 US: http://bit.ly/1JPtfeS

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Saturday Spanks: Routine Maintenance - #AuthorsGiveBack #FreeReading #SaturdaySpanks

Saturday Spanks banner

I know you’ve been good all week – staying at home, taking care of business, resisting the impulse to throw caution to the winds and break out of lockdown.

Now it’s the weekend, and it’s time to get, at least vicariously, naughty!

For today’s Saturday Spanks, here’s a bit from “Routine Maintenance”, one of the stories in my Hearts & Handcuffs collection.

And in case you’ve forgotten, this book is now totally free on Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/635210

Master? Here I am.”

Carlos whirled around. There was girl in the room, on her knees just inside the doorway. No, not a girl, a woman. Her delicate build made her seem young and vulnerable, but when Carlos looked more closely, he noted her small but well-rounded breasts and hips that swelled in an inviting way from her tiny waist.

Her head was bowed and her sun-streaked hair fell over her eyes, so he couldn't see her face. She kneeled with her thighs apart. It was clear that she was naked underneath her black miniskirt. She kept her hands clasped at the small of her back, in a position Carlos recognized from all his BDSM videos. The humble attitude of a slave.

What—who are you?”

I'm sorry, Master. Mistress Liza sent me to you for a spanking. She said that she was at her wit's end with me, but that you'd know how to punish me as I deserve.” The woman dared a quick look at him through her bangs. “Didn't she call you, sir?”

I, um, I don't remember hearing anything from her.”

Oh, I’m sorry, sir! Please excuse me for intruding. If you'd like me to come back at a more convenient time...”

No, no, never mind.” Carlos' thoughts stumbled over themselves. He didn't want the girl to leave. But what was he supposed to do with her? Should he tell her that she'd made a mistake? “What did your mistress say about me?”

Ah, well, she said that you were stronger and stricter than she is, cruel and without mercy. That you'd tan my bottom crimson and make me beg you to stop. That you'd spank me so hard that I truly wouldn't be able to bear it. That it would be a week before I could sit down.”

Carlos' cock twitched at her graphic description. She sounded suspiciously enthusiastic, not frightened the way she should be, if he really were the fearsome Dom that she took him for.

She was offering herself to him. She wanted him to spank her.

How could he turn down this opportunity?

But she was so petite. She looked so fragile. Sure, he knew the basics, but he'd never actually practiced any of the techniques that he studied every night on the Internet. What if he hurt her, really damaged her, not just spanked her butt raw that way he imagined?

What did you do, slave, to deserve this punishment?” He tried to make himself sound gruff and severe, to disguise his own excitement. To hear the word “slave” coming from his own lips sent a hot sizzle down his spine.

I—um—I came without the Mistress' permission. While she was paddling me.”

I see. You're an undisciplined slut, are you?”

Yes, sir. I couldn't help myself.”

Well, I know how to teach you a lesson.” He only hoped that he did. He settled himself in the armchair. “Crawl to me, slave. Now.”

She was kneeling at his feet before he could count to three, once more in position, eyes on the gap between her thighs.

Look at me,” Carlos ordered. She had violet eyes and a ripe mouth that cried out for kisses— or bruises. Her flushed cheeks and quick breathing told him that she was aroused already.

On my lap. And no wiggling or rubbing against me. If you come while I spank you, I'll hang you up on the cross for the rest of the day.”

Holy mother, he was scaring himself! She scrambled up and flopped onto his knees. She was obviously familiar with this position as well. She parted her legs and pressed her toes against the floor to stabilize her body. Her pelvis rested on his right thigh, her chest on his left. Her arms dangled awkwardly. She didn't dare touch him without permission.

Hands at the back of your neck. Arch your back.” The shift pressed her cushiony tits against his leg. He wished that she was naked, that they both were, so he could feel her pebbly nipples against his bare skin. But he didn't want to break the momentum by telling her to strip. Instead, he peeled her tight little skirt back towards her waist to expose her ass.

Two half-moons, pale and creamy, with a shadowed crevice between them. Perfect. Unblemished. If she was accustomed to being spanked, there was certainly no sign on those virginal buttocks. Her scent rose from the half-hidden pocket of her sex, musky and feral, much darker than he would have expected. She's a slut, Carlos thought, a pain slut who gets off on being beaten.

He raised his arm and brought his open palm down hard on that milky flesh. Her gasp sent a bolt of electricity straight to his groin.

Nasty little whore! No underwear, and with such a short skirt.” He slapped her again. “You like pain? I'll give you real pain.”

His palm stung as he smacked her butt as hard as he could, first one cheek and then the other. Each stroke kindled a pink bloom on the woman's bottom, with rosy streaks marking the path of his fingers. Each stroke made her whimper and writhe against him. He hardened in response, unable to control his reactions.

He spanked her harder, aiming for the sensitive spot at the crease where her bottom and thighs met.
She yelped at the sudden increment in pain. “Be still! I told you, none of your tricks. If you come, believe me, I'll make you sorry.”

Carlos laid into her, doubling the speed and force of his blows. He wasn't exactly angry, but he was determined to give the girl the walloping that she deserved. She was a minx, no question. He could understand why Mistress Liza was so annoyed.

Friday, March 27, 2020

What would you do for success? @thomwolf #MMRomance #Contemporary

Never Too Famous cover

They’ll do anything for fame, whatever the cost.

Harry Alexander and Grant Hunter are big names in reality TV, but they couldn’t be more different. For Harry, fame happened by chance. He was working as a marine engineer on a cruise ship when the liner became the subject of a fly-on-the-wall documentary series. Harry’s good looks and charming personality made him an immediate hit with viewers, and he became the break-out star of the show.

Grant Hunter took no chances in his pursuit of fame. Having starred in the outrageous reality show Sexy Northerners, he grabbed success with both hands and didn’t let go. Grant is prepared to do whatever it takes to stay at the top—red-carpet appearances, parties, high-profile romances and X-rated videos. He’ll do anything in the name of self-promotion to maintain his notorious reputation.

When Harry arrives in Grant’s home city of Manchester, they have preconceived ideas about each other. As they realize they have more in common than they ever thought, they must overcome prejudice, rivalry and the social and professional barriers placed before them, if they’re ever to get together

Success Series Blurb

Fame, money, power. Some men will do anything for them. In every field, it’s a cut-throat race to the top, littered with deceit, passion and love. For those strong enough to get what they want, maintaining it is never easy.

Reality TV stars, footballers, lawyers, singers and movies stars—join them as they discover what they’re each prepared to pay to preserve their success.

Buy Links

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/gb/en/ebook/never-too-famous


The bars along the canal were busy for a Sunday evening. People sat at the outside tables, laughing and drinking. From the corner of his eye, he clocked that someone had recognized him and was moving in his direction. Harry tucked his chin and kept walking. He wanted to reach his room, lock the door and spend some quality time alone.

When a hand touched his shoulder, he expected it to be a fan, eager for a photograph. He turned, hoping to make it quick, and was surprised to recognize the smiling face that greeted him.

Grant Hunter.

My God, he’s handsome. Up close, his chiseled features and warm brown eyes were exquisite. His smile grew wider and his eyes sparkled with amusement.

I thought it was you,” Grant said, thrusting a hand forward. “Nice to meet you at last.”

You too,” Harry said, accepting the firm handshake.

I wanted to say hello last night, but you left the club before I got the chance.”

Sorry.” Harry shrugged, unable to tear his eyes from Grant’s hypnotic gaze. Dark and moody, like a film star from a different era, a 1950s matinee idol who’d stepped straight off the screen and been transported to modern-day Manchester.

You could cut yourself on his cheekbones, they’re so sharp. And that jawline…

It wasn’t really your scene, was it?” Grant asked.

I guess not. But sorry, again, I should have come over before I left. It was rude not to.”

Why don’t you make it up to me now?” Grant said, gesturing to the bar where they had stopped. “A drink. I’ve got nothing else to do right now. How about you?”

The man was a natural flirt. That was obvious. But he had an undefinable and powerful charisma. Harry’s heart beat faster. Grant had an instant effect on him. “Why not?”

About the Author

Thom Collins is the author of Closer by Morning, Gods of Vengeance, Silent Voices and the Anthem Trilogy. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.

He is currently working on a new novel.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonk-busters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes.

Social Links

Twitter: @thomwolf

Instagram: ThomCollinsAuthor

Email: thomcollinsauthor [at] aol [dot] com

Release blitz organised by Writer Marketing Services.

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Yet more free reading to distract you... #FreeReading #TotallyBound #StrongerTogether


In a world where it seems nothing is safe – reading is. That’s especially true if you’re tacking an electronic book – no musty old covers or germ-infested pages to be concerned about!

Meanwhile, there are few things that offer a better distraction from the worries of the reality than curling up with a good book.

Recognizing these truths, some of the authors at Totally Bound and Pride Publishing have voluntarily set the price of our most popular books to zero during this epidemic crisis.

I have two books at TB that are currently free for download, and have asked for a third to be added.

The Eyes of Bast
Paranormal erotic romance

Trust your heart. Follow your dreams.

Shaina Williams’ grandmother bequeathed her that wisdom, along with an old pendant from the Islands, carved from an ocelot’s tooth. When instinct tells Shaina to visit the feral cat trap she’s set in Central Park, she listens to that inner voice. She discovers she’s caged a magnificent black tom, but the cat inexplicably vanishes after she tends to his wounds. Seeking the errant feline, Shaina encounters instead a handsome stranger whose slightest touch sets her body on fire. As the day dawns after a night of ferocious passion, her mysterious lover is forced back into his true shape—the tomcat she rescued.

Born a cat, Tom was transformed into an unwilling shape shifter by a sorceress who craved a human plaything to satisfy her perverse lusts. Centuries old and irresistibly powerful, Delphine Montserrat will stop at nothing to find her runaway familiar. Shaina vows to do whatever is necessary to defeat the vicious but seductive witch and save the man she believes is her soul mate—even though it might mean losing him forever. 

Bodies of Light
Science fiction ménage erotic romance

Love travels faster than light

Physicist Dr Christine Monroe has devoted her lonely life to research on hyper-space travel. Her continued failure leads her to sign on to the Archimedes, a sub-light-speed mission aimed at establishing a colony in the Sirius B system.

Waking from suspended animation, she discovers that the ship is wildly off course and the rest of the crew are dead due to equipment failure. At first she thinks the two handsome strangers who show up on the ship are figments of her imagination - erotic hallucinations created by isolation and stress.

However, Alyn and Zed are solid, real, and ready to sacrifice their lives for the strong woman they've found stranded in deep space. As her ship begins to disintegrate, Christine must choose between the planet she was sent to save and the two alien beings she's come to cherish.

Note that Totally Bound can send books directly to your Kindle, just like Amazon. You can also choose epub or pdf formats.

Here’s a bit from Bodies of Light to tempt you. You can read a snippet from The Eyes of Bast in my Book Hooks post last week.

* * * * * *

The airlock exit was located on the backward-facing surface of the disk. The breach to be fixed was on the forward surface. Christine clambered over the edge of the disk and on to the front, towards the location pinpointed by the repair simulation. The tether snaked behind her like a kilometre-long tail.

The tear in the hull was small but obvious. Traces of escaping gas had tarnished the normally silvery metal. Christine retrieved the foil and tore off one pre-perforated sheet. Clumsy in her bulky gloves, she smoothed the ultra-thin material over the rift, then extruded the high-voltage electrodes. Fierce sparks ripped through the blackness as she sealed the foil to the hull. After-images swam in her vision while she waited the necessary three minutes before applying the second layer.

The second stage of the process posed no problem either. The carbon sheets were fused to the hull, closing the gap and rescuing her precious oxygen. The repaired section was probably stronger than the original material.

Letting out the breath she hadn’t realised she’d been holding, Christine allowed herself a moment of self-congratulation. She turned away from the ship to appreciate the emptiness around her. Her eyes had adapted. Now she could see the twinkle of distant stars, like gems studding the velvet blackness, the pale blurs that were galaxies. No one has ever travelled this far from home, she thought. Rather than fear, she felt a strange sense of exhilaration, akin to the excitement that gripped her when she resolved some knotty mathematical issue or confirmed the validity of a proof.

A memory from her childhood popped into her mind—sitting in the backyard with her grandma, peering into the glittering night sky. “I saw the first American go into space,” Nana had said. “Alan Shepard. I was in fourth grade. The whole school piled into the cafeteria to watch the launch on television. Black and white television,” she added with a laugh. “I was so excited I could hardly breathe. I decided that day that I wanted to be an astronaut. I had to see those wonders for myself.”

Of course, Nana hadn’t lived that dream. She’d become a teacher instead. Now, though, Christine was making that old fantasy real, floating free, embraced by the stars. It was amazing—awe-inspiring.

Then a delicate sadness crept over her. She’d never be able to share this feeling.

A red symbol flashed in the periphery of her vision, a routine warning that the suit oxygen supplies had reached seventy-five percent. That was enough for another four hours of EVA, but still, since her work was complete, she’d better get back inside.

She needed to reverse her orientation in order to climb back over the edge of the disk. Grasping a bracket with one hand, she gestured with the other to temporarily turn off the magnets in her boots. It was a gesture she’d practised a hundred times during training, but something went wrong. She must have put too much force into the arm movement. The reaction tore her other hand from its grip and drove her body away from the ship.

The distance between her and the Archimedes grew wider by the second. Christine cursed her carelessness. She knew that one had to move slowly and deliberately at all times when performing EVA. Newton’s third law, that every action has an equal and opposite reaction, applied in space just as it did everywhere else. In space, though, there was no friction to slow objects down.

Christine was more annoyed than concerned. She knew she could pull herself back to the airlock using the tether. That’s what it was for. She reached behind her to grasp it, where it clipped to her belt. Only then did she feel fear. Her lifeline was gone.

Get your free books today! You’ve got nothing to lose except a few hours of worry.

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Review Tuesday: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom - #ScienceFiction #ReviewTuesday #FreeReading

Magic Kingdom cover

Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow
Tor Reprint, 2018 – Original publication date, 2004

What if you were effectively immortal? If, in the event of a fatal accident or disease (or murder), your backed-up consciousness could simply be reloaded into a young, cloned body? You’d have centuries to create new things, to learn new skills, to explore – or to get permanently bored and choose voluntary death.

What if money had disappeared, and instead, the world ran on a currency of reputation? If your wealth was measured in the number of likes you got, the number of shares, claps, stars and badges allocated to you by other members of society? The shy and retiring among us would be penniless, the smartest, most creative, most altruistic or most outrageous people, billionaires.

What if you’d dreamed your entire life of living and working in Disney World, and finally managed to make that dream real?

All stories have their genesis in speculation, but science fiction, especially, is driven by “what ifs”. Every scifi tale postulates an alternative reality – future, present or past – which differs from everyday experience in some fundamental ways. The best science fiction chooses questions that are both intriguing and have some moral importance. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, by Cory Doctorow, falls into this category.

Jules, the protagonist, is a mere century old. Though he has been rebooted four times, he still remembers the world before the genesis of the Bitchun Society. And although he now lives in a world where your level of Whuffie determines both your influence and your quality of life, he’s old-fashioned in some ways. He sticks with his friend Dan through highs and lows of reputation. He’s squeamish about the notion of deadheading – abandoning your body and bottling up your consciousness for a few centuries or millennia, when things start to get boring. And he’s sentimental about the primitive but emotionally compelling attractions of twentieth century Disney World. He cares enough about the legendary Haunted Mansion that he’ll go to war and lose everything, trying to save it from being modernized and virtualized.

I don’t want to spoil your experience of Down and Out Etc. by telling you much more about the plot. Doctorow’s alternative, Whuffie-driven, world is eerily familiar in some ways, though the book predated the social media tsunami by more than a decade. The book considers whether electronically mediated experience can ever have the same value as direct interaction with the environment – and leaves that question open for the reader to decide.

We haven’t gotten to the point of backing ourselves up for future download, though the confluence of brain science and artificial intelligence might be moving in that direction. Doctorow explores some peculiar consequences of such technology, were it to emerge. For instance, the longer you go between backups, the more of your memories you’ll lose if you have to do a restore. Meanwhile, someone can perpetrate a horrific crime, then restore from a backup made before the deed, and literally have no memory of the event.

Down and Out Etc. isn’t perfect. It relies too much on a familiarity with Disney World and its attractions, which I don’t possess. Its economic model may be a bit too optimistic, as well. I think the economy posited in Doctorow’s more recent novel Walkaway, in which the zotta-wealthy cling jealously to the world’s resources, seems more plausible. On the other hand, the characters in this novel are much more vivid, believable and flawed than those in the later book. Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, like all my favorite science fiction, is a book about ideas, but it’s also about human beings, love, fantasy and friendship.

And by the way – the author, who is a strong proponent of Open Source, has made the book available for free via Project Gutenberg. You can download it, in several different ebook formats, from here.