Saturday, June 29, 2013

Review: Bolt-Hole by Amy Lane 4/5 Stars

Bolt-HoleBolt-Hole by Amy Lane
My rating: 4 of 5 stars 

ebook, 246 pages
Published March 27th 2013 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1623805384 (ISBN13: 9781623805388)
edition language English

~ ~ ~

Terrell?” Colby muttered, rubbing the sweat falling off his forehead onto Terrell’s back.
“I hope you know… you know it’s not like this with just anyone, right?”
“It’s special to me,” he said honestly. “That’s all the fuck I know.”

So there’s this first kiss in this story that get’s interrupted and it just crushed me. There was something about the description of that kiss that had me right there, right in the moment. I think I became Terrell. Literally the interruption made me gasp.


The past half an hour, laughing, eating, talking – it was like it had never existed, and in its place was Terrell’s driving need not to be gay

Terrell Washington - He grew up poor, black and gay. He’s still trying to come to terms with some of those things. He admits he’s angry, but he’s not a drag. He just needs to find some hope.

Or was that just maybe Colby’s magical superpower – he made guys who weren’t supposed to be gay want him.

Worst. Superpower. Ever.

Colby Meyers - Colby is everyone’s dream guy. Golden and shining and honorable and beautiful. I thought I wasn’t going to see what Colby saw in Terrell (you know how that is sometimes? How you get one characters attraction, but not the others?), especially with this being from Terrell’s POV. But that wasn’t the case at all. I saw Colby falling in love with Terrell all the way through this book. Maybe because I was falling in love with him too.


Bolt-Hole is about two men who have become close friends over the past year. Luckily for Terrell, Colby is a planner and has been planning to get even closer to Terrell. A murder occurs at their workplace and I was expecting that to be the “hook” for this story. It’s not really, or it wasn’t for me. For me it was about prejudice and differences and similarities and finding a way to love and be loved.

Told from Terrell’s perspective you might expect this to be a bit of a downer, but it isn’t at all. He’s got baggage, but he’s finally got someone who lifts some of the weight.


I’ve come to really enjoy Amy Lane’s writing. It isn’t spectacular or earth shattering, but it’s solid every time and it has the ability to draw me in, make me care about the characters and deliver a dependable, enjoyable romance.

This isn’t to say that there aren’t some tummy clenching moments and tingle-inducing scenes. There are. It’s just that the writing is so easy, the poignant moments so fluid, that you don’t get too bogged down in the dramatics.

~ ~ ~

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Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interview with Author of Chance Assassin - Nicole Castle

It's true, I may have chosen to read this book because of it's cover...shhhh!

Interview with M/M Romance Author Nicole Castle

Lisa - Hi Nicole and welcome to Attention Is Arbitrary. I’m so glad that you have agreed to this interview. I know this is your first published novel and you’ve said that you aren’t really big on social media yet, but after reading and loving Chance Assassin I just had to get to know more about you. I think your readers will really appreciate getting to know you, your motivations and your upcoming plans too. So, let’s get to it.

First, will you tell us a little about who you are, if writing is all you do (lucky) or if you have to address real life now and again?

Nicole - Thank you so much for inviting me, Lisa!  Hopefully this doesn’t sound too much like an online dating profile.  I live in Oregon with my beastly little dog.  I’m a vegetarian, believe it or not considering the amount of bloodshed in my book.  And I do have a “normal” job at a bank (don’t hold it against me) which enables me to pay the bills.  I’ve always been a big reader, and I knew that I wanted to do something creative in my life rather than a 9 to 5 type of job.  With writing I feel like I finally found my outlet, and I consider that my real job.  

L - Chance Assassin is your first published novel. Has it been everything you dreamed, stranger than fiction or a never again experience?

N - I’ve honestly been completely blown away by the response to Chance Assassin.  These are characters that I lived and breathed with for so long, and to have people love them like I do is not only surreal but incredibly rewarding.  I didn’t have very high hopes about ever finding an audience for Chance Assassin, but I was very fortunate to have some great reviews on Goodreads and Amazon within the first few weeks of publication.  Word of mouth is absolutely vital for new authors, especially self-published authors.

L - What was your motivation for this book?

N - I first started writing Chance Assassin while staying with my family in a hotel in New Jersey.  We were there for a funeral.  I was having trouble sleeping one night and I ended up sitting on the bathroom floor with the door closed so I wouldn’t wake anyone, writing the first few pages of what would become Chance Assassin.

The concept of murder for money is fascinating to me, the sort of twisted morality that comes with having pride in your work even while your job is something terrible.  Most of what I wrote ended up having very little to do with the events of Chance Assassin, but borderline disreputable hotel rooms were a part of the story from the very beginning.

L - Ah yes, that is a recurring theme isn’t it? I found Chance Assassin to have excellent flow. Was it easy to tell Frank and Vincent’s story or were there sticky spots?

N - There were definitely some sticky spots.  Chance Assassin is vastly different today than it was when I began writing it, and for some time I struggled with having any sort of plotline whatsoever.

BLURB: Vincent Sullivan is down on his luck. When a chance encounter generates a job prospect he’s too desperate to decline, Vincent is well on his way to a career in crime. But after the job goes wrong and he’s gravely injured in the process, things couldn’t get much worse. Except that he may have just killed a man.

With the entrance of a mysterious stranger, life is finally starting to look up. Unless his luck is about to run out for good.

The relationship between Vincent and Frank was one of the first things I ever wrote, and it developed through a series of short stories, mostly as various hits.  It turned out that the basic structure of the story that originally inspired me took place during the middle of their relationship after Vincent was already working alongside Frank, and Chance Assassin was obviously the beginning.

Some of the hits I’d written over the years ended up being changed around and made into the final cut, and other scenes actually show up in the sequel, but I am considering putting a few other hits together and publishing it separately as a companion piece to Chance Assassin.

L - Do you have anything in common with Vincent or Frank? Do tell.

N - I would say a little bit of both, but I’m more similar to Frank than Vincent.  There’s the overflowing bookshelves and closet filled with black clothes, and I can be a bit reclusive.  Then again, I do love Snickers bars.

L - Don’t we all. Frank and Vincent’s tender moments aren’t always tender, but this isn’t BDSM either. Is there a term for their special brand of physical love making?

N - There are aspects of their relationship that borrow from different disciplines (no pun intended) but it doesn’t completely fit into any term.  At least not one that I’ve heard defined.  They do whatever feels right at the moment, whether it’s taking inspiration from their most recent hit and incorporating tools from their trade, or just winding up naked whenever and wherever the impulse strikes them.

L - Ah yes, and thank you for that! There is a lot of death in Chance Assassin. Do you like killing off characters or do you just have fun thinking of all the different ways it can be accomplished?

N - I think death goes with the territory, but it can definitely be a good form of stress relief to kill someone with your pen (in the written sense, of course.)  One thing that I am firmly against is death within the relationship.  Romeo and Juliet may be a classic, but when I read—or write—a love story I want a happy ending.

L - Uh, make sure I don't tick you off. Chance Assassin ends with a HFN, but definitely hints at more to come. Is that something you can share with us? Do you have a working title? A blurb? More AMAZING cover art? Release date? Anything to help my desperate need for more Frank and Vincent?

N - The sequel takes place a few years later, with Frank and Vincent living in France.  Retirement has naturally taken some getting used to, but things take a turn for the worse when Bella shows up with a new assignment that hits a little too close to home.  It’s called Les Recidivists, and will be in multiple points of view.  I’m hoping to have it out in spring of 2014.

L - That's fantastic news, I can't wait. Both Frank and Vincent have some pretty odd behavior. That’s putting it mildly, isn’t it? Their quirky natures are pretty refreshing for an assassin story. Huh, that’s not a question, just something I had to mention.

N - They’re weird characters for sure, but it works for them and it adds a sense of levity to a pretty grim occupation.

L - Last, but not least, I am just crazy for Casey. His smile, pigtails and artistic innocence just beg for more page time. Is this something we can look forward to?

N - Definitely.  Casey is extremely important to Frank, and he plays an integral part in the sequel. 

Thank you again Nicole, it’s been a pleasure getting to know you and I wish you every success with your writing.

You’re very welcome!  Thank you for the interview!  

READERS: Please feel free to ask questions or comment. I hope you're looking forward to Nicole's next book as much as I am. I feel very fortunate that there will be more "hits" to read about with Frank and Vincent. That sounds like kind of a weird thing to want more of doesn't it?

My 4.75 star review of this fun, weird and sexy novel is here: Lisa's Review of Chance Assassin

Chance Assassin by Nicole Castle is available at:
Amazon and Barnes and Noble


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Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Chance Assassin by Nicole Castle 4.75 Stars

Chance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and MurderChance Assassin: A Story of Love, Luck, and Murder by Nicole Castle

Kindle Edition, 340 pages
File Size: 599 Kb
Print Length: 337 pages
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
    ~ ~ ~

    • Quirky
    • Weird
    • Twisted
    • Eccentric
    • Murder
    • Death
    • Blood
    • Off-beat humor

    Confession: I love assassin books.

    It feels so wrong, doesn’t it? How could I cheer for the killers, crave to know more about them. Feel sorry for them. Find them Sexy? Maybe it’s that they’re those – oh, so broken, need to be fixed, hate that this is their life characters – that the good girl in me needs to help to... WAIT

    [insert record needle scraaaatch here]

    That’s not what it is about the Chance Assassin boys that I adore so much. It’s that they’re just so, strange. I mean, really strange. These guys aren’t like anyone else you’ve read about. Sure, they’re broken and I do sort of want to understand them. But, they love what they do. It’s their given talent and what the hell, this is what society made them so this is what you’re gonna get. Guilt free is a very good way to approach this kind of book.

    So, like I said, you have these two bad boys, who turn out to be damn good assassins. They’re completely mental and they’re sexy as hell together. Once they finally get together anyway. Plus, Vincent’s cheeky humor surprised the hell out of me. He may know his young life was unfortunate, but he goes with it. Uses it. Survives it. And, he has no shame in using his twinky, good looks to survive. Then there’s shy, reclusive Frank and he is, well…could he just be my assassin? He could shoot me from afar, stab me from behind, strangle me….uh, yeah, just read the book.


    I got hit on a lot. What could I say? I had a prettier face than most women, and an ass that had turned so many heads I deserved a chiropractic commission.

    Vincent - Poor beautiful baby. He’s lost his family, been used, abused, homeless and yet, he has a hilarious sense of humor and self-confidence to spare. The story is told from his POV in a sort of, light-hearted, film noir tone.

    Frank had officially passed from the realm of sexy and slightly dangerous to cute and crazy. For a moment I wanted to hide from him, just so I would never again have to see the sociopathic glint in his pretty green eyes.

    Frank - To be a great assassin one should be cold, removed, emotionless. Well, that’s the persona Frank tries to convey. But I think he feels too much, cares too much and he really takes care of those he cares about. That is until they piss him off.

    We also have a bitch assassin who can completely hold her own, a handler who needs to be handled, and a sweet, innocent, artistic boy in pigtails. Every character was very visual and identifiable.


    Frank and Vincent are brought together by a job gone wrong. From there on out they’re sort of stuck together. With hit jobs being the mechanism for carrying the story forward, it’s the quirky, kinky and weird relationship between Frank and V that will keep you hooked. There was a bit of Bonnie and Clyde styling going on here and it worked. The edginess of the each looming assignment had me slightly concerned, but I was just having too much fun to slow down.


    Character development is what it’s all about with Nicole Castle. I found Frank and Vincent completely engrossing. Their bizarre weirdness and perfect blend of opposite natures make them a couple that excited me no end. I can’t wait to read more about them and follow along on more assignments. They’re just too good at this to stop now.

    I loved being in Frank's arms. It felt special, being that the only other people he ever picked up were dead.

    ~ ~ ~

    I want to thank Nicole Castle for providing me with a copy of this novel in exchange for my honest review.

    ~ ~ ~

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    Monday, June 17, 2013

    Moro's Price by M.C. Hana 4/5 Stars

    Moro's PriceMoro's Price by M.C. Hana

    ebook, 353 pages
    Published July 24th 2012 by Loose Id, LLC
    ISBN13 9781611189452
    edition language English
    Available at: and Amazon

    ~ ~ ~

    This is one wild and very deep ride. I love a good sci-fi and this delivered, but I have to say it was almost a physical workout to read. It kept me on my toes and surprised me every time I thought things would settle a bit. The enormous multi-universe and it’s intertwined political entities was fascinating. How the author saw through it all, to bring it together in the end, is astounding.

    Within you’ll find vast political intrigue, manipulations everywhere and a tender, gentle and ruthlessly sexy love story.


    Moro Dalgleish - Raised in a orphanage, bonded slave, and a total wild-card. He’s been betrayed at almost every turn, but finds he has advocates he never knew of.

    "No, damn you,” hissed Val, lifting the remote from Moro’s limp hand. “Look at me while I kill you.”
    The command shocked Moro out of numb acceptance. He couldn’t look away from Val’s wild, tear-hazed eyes.

    Val Antonin ne’CAma - Heir to the Camalian throne, Crown Prince of the Commonweath he marries Moro in a rash, juvenile moment.


    Moro is a bonded slave fighting to earn his freedom. When he learns that he will be returning to his former master instead of gaining his freeman status he chooses suicide. During his initial attempt he comes across Val who has been pursued by assassins. Moro and Val aid each other in an escape attempt and find they have more to offer each other.

    There are some pretty big leaps to some pretty strong emotions in the romance, but later the connection and reason become more clear. I felt I had to go with it for a bit, but it works ultimately.

    The race to outrun multiple entities; enemy and ally both, allows Moro and Val to begin a relationship just in time to be pulled apart by much bigger threats. It’s a crazy, twisted, deep, intense read with love at it’s core.


    I don’t think I can even begin to describe the hugeness of the universe MC Hana has created here. The visual descriptions of some of the planetary and universe forms is gorgeous. The creative characters are quite unique. The world building is very clear, but the character vastness is mind-boggling. Everyone seems to have two or more identities, nicknames or racial connection. Which was really tough for me to keep straight. In fact, I didn’t keep it straight, but in the end it did seem to work it self out well enough that I’d like to see the story continue.

    I would suggest clearing your head, paying attention to details and hanging on for the ride.

    ~ ~ ~

    I would like to thank M.C. Hana and Loose Id, LLC for providing me with an ARC in exchange for my honest review.

    ~ ~ ~

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