Book Review - Ruthless Sinner (The Zeta Cartel Series: Book 6) by A J Adams

Genre: M/F bad boy thriller/romance with sex, violence and drug references

I've thoroughly enjoyed the Zeta Cartel series, and was looking forward to this latest novel from A J Adams. Each book is completely different and can be read as a standalone story, but my advice is to immerse yourself in the dirty goings-on right from the start. The characters in each story are woven into the stories of other characters, so there is a theme running right through the series. 
Each book focusses on a tough but ultimately good-hearted woman and the career-criminal she meets at a low point in her life. The men are not pussycats. They are killers who make their money from crime and drugs, but the series is up-front about that from the start. If it isn't your thing, avoid. If you love a bad boy who will kill to keep his lady from harm, fill your boots. 

In this, the sixth book, Spirit is a stripper, a former sex worker working all the hours, doing a job she hates so she can afford to keep her sick mother in a comfortable nursing home. She's great at teasing, dancing, giving the punters what they want, but the sex part just isn't for her. Her attempts to go legit hit a brick wall about the time she meets Coop, the newest member of the Zeta Cartel. Then her life becomes even more turbulent than ever. Despised in the English town where she lives, her reputation in tatters, she turns to her lethal lover for protection. 

Coop is on a mission; to avenge the murder of his childhood friend. A former slave in South Africa who used lethal force to free himself and his fellow prisoners, he now has a murderous skillset. He's also skilled at inventing and cooking drugs, and begins work for the Zetas, believing one of them might have killed his friend. In the meantime, a serial killer is inconveniently dumping local girls' bodies in the woods outside Coop's chop shop. To complicate things further, Coop has growing feelings for Spirit, the stripper who rejected his advances, but has now become a friend. 

This is a tightly woven tale. I honestly think A J Adam's writing improves with every novel, and it was pretty good to start with. There is less emphasis on sex (although it's hot!) and more emphasis than ever on scene-setting and plot. The opening pages are dynamite, and the whole book carries on in that vein. The violence is there, but not hideously graphic. It's more suggested. And the language is fruity, with lots of reference to sluts, tarts and whores. Obviously, the drug theme runs throughout, though the Zetas don't use their product, so no one can accuse this series of glamorising drug use.

This has been an awesome series, written with great heart and an enormous amount of forensic research into the cartel lifestyle. I don't know if it's over, but I hope not. If it is, it wraps things up very neatly. My summers won't be the same without a new Zeta Cartel book so I guess I'll be reading them all again!

BLURB

Determined to get her mother the healthcare she needs, drop dead gorgeous Spirit Westcott works as a stripper, not caring a jot that it cements her reputation as the village bad girl. But when Spirit falls foul of John Cooper, the newest member of the notorious Zeta Cartel, she loses her job. Furious, Spirit confronts Coop–only to discover his secret drug lab. When Coop decides to save her, by disappearing her and keeping her captive, Spirit is less than impressed. However, she quickly learns that Coop has an even deadlier secret, and one that may drag her into the abyss.

When dangerous, single-minded John Cooper learns his best friend was murdered, he resolves to exact bloody vengeance. The knowledge that his prey is a Zeta, one of Mexico's most dangerous cartels, doesn’t stop him. Coop joins the organisation, only to discover that finding his prey won't be easy. To his annoyance, sexy Spirit Westcott is also a spanner in the works. After embarrassing him in public, Coop suddenly finds himself saddled with an unwanted captive, and her cat. Then, just as things couldn't get worse, a killer takes aim at the village girls. As Coop is drawn further into the cartel, he is forced to make decisions that may cost him his life–and that of his love.

Ruthless Sinner is a gripping tale of vengeance, murder, cartel violence and finding love in the darkest of times.

Warning: This bad boy romance contains explicit adult themes and graphic violence. It is for adults only.

Book Review - A Little Chatter by Terry Connell

This is the review I wrote for WROTE Podcast. A fascinating book. Not one of my favourites, but no denying the skill of the writer and their powers of observation. A great collection of vignettes.


A Little ChatterA Little Chatter by Terry Connell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I was gifted a copy of this ARC in return for an honest and fair review.

I was a little hesitant about reading this book at first. The cover doesn’t invite one in, with a barrage of repeated words that made my eyes go funny. It had a bit of a “try hard” feel about it, and the title seemed to suggest something frivolous, a trifling matter to pass the time if one had nothing else to do. It was an inauspicious start, and a shame because the stories themselves are startling, poignant, sometimes desperately sad, but always entertaining and well-written.

A frivolous read, this certainly is not. It is a truly diverse collection of vignettes than actual stories; snapshots of people’s lives and experiences, each one very different from the last. The author uses dialogue, prose, sections as if taken from official reports, and weaves all those things in to a highly readable package with some intriguing characters.

These stories feel more personal than ones written with fictional characters. These tales read like people who have really existed, people from the author’s past, or echoes of people he has encountered, however briefly. There are exquisite observations of everyday life, perfectly preserved. I can imagine the author sitting in a diner with his notepad, quietly taking in all the tiny dramas around him, then weaving them with words drawn from his imagination. It is a true piece of literary work, crafted with skill and a keen eye.

Standouts for me are the first story, Goodbye, Willow Grove, where two people have very different memories of the same, sun-drenched day. The Tire Swing, where an elderly man reminisces over his life. It is written from a second person aspect, which isn’t for everyone, but there was a poetic rhythm about it that I loved. Finally, Thursday Night at Niko’s Italian Restaurant, which sounds like a Billy Joel song and is a slice of life from the underbelly of old-school Americana.

There’s a theme of savagery running through a lot of the stories, a cynicism as well as rose-tinted sentimentality. Just like any good conversation, there is something for everyone. The book isn’t always a comfortable read. I didn’t warm to some of the stories, but that’s like any collection, as well as being human. And everyone in this book is achingly human; flawed, honourable, selfish, angry, loving. This is definitely a short story collection to check out if you want human stories to make you think

View all my reviews

Book Review - Far Away by Bryan T Clark

Genre: MM Romance

This was truly a gorgeous book, at a time when I was in the mood for a wallow into escapism. During the UK lockdown, there seems to be a lot of that. Books I might have found a little cloying, now just hit the spot.

Because this is a truly romantic story. And yes, the premise is a little far-fetched. Boy meets boy, they are torn apart, boy spends 12 years judging every relationship by the boy he met on a summer fling, boy goes to find boy and finds the attraction is still mutual.

But you know what? I think this year so far (2020) has taught us that life can be far-fetched. In January, we didn't know Covid-19 would have a such a major impact on all our lives, but it has. Therefore, it's churlish to be sniffy over the overtly romantic nature of a love story.

Basically, I loved it, and I hope you do too. Noah travels half way round the world to track down Spiro, the boy he could never forget. The book is drenched in faded summer memories, like an old photograph of when we were all young, smiling and innocent. The period setting, the extreme views of the parents, the secret meetings, it all felt very real.

Then move forward 12 years, and Noah has gone to Greece to find Spiro. Again, the reader can almost smell the hot earth, the olive trees, feel the heat of the sun prickling their skin.

This is a divine story, one to wallow in, one to enjoy when we can't travel ourselves. Find a sunny spot, mix up some sangria and lose yourself in this book. It will be worth it, I swear to you.

And the sex is off the scale too. Very hot, very sweaty, very real. Noah and Spiro make a very credible couple. I would love this to be made into a movie, for the romance, for the sex, for the awkward re-igniting of their relationship. It's all kinds of wonderful.

Definitely a fun read for the summer.

BLURB

First love can save you … and ruin you …

Eighteen-year-old Noah Rothenberg spent the perfect summer with his first love, the charming and

seductive Spiro. He fell head over heels in love from what started as a clumsy crush. But that was twelve years ago. His relationships since have been spectacular failures because of how things ended with Spiro. If he has any hope of moving forward, he needs to find Spiro and get some closure … even if he has to fly halfway around the world to do it. Too bad he instead finds himself falling—again—for the man who ruined him for all other men.


Love isn’t an emotion Spiro Papadopoulos entirely trusts anymore. He’s far too pragmatic for that. His focus these days has to be on his art and caring for his ailing mother. Being with Noah again is easy and feels so right … but is it love? Spiro isn’t sure. Besides, with his entire life being tied to Greece and Noah’s to New York, love might just be a luxury neither of them can afford.


Can Spiro and Noah overcome the oceans and years between them—or will their second chance at love end as badly as their first?



Far Away by Bryan T Clark - Exclusive Excerpt and Competition

I am absolutely delighted to take part in Bryan T. Clark's blog tour for his new book, Far Away, a lush romance which I will review in my next post. My review will be in the very next post after this one.

Not only that, but scroll down for an EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT of Far Away, which ends with a delicious kiss...

Finally, feast your eyes on these two lovelies, and be in with a chance to win a juicy $25 Amazon voucher!

Far Away

Bryan T. Clark has a new contemporary MM romance out: Far Away. And there's a giveaway!

BLURB

First love can save you … and ruin you …

Eighteen-year-old Noah Rothenberg spent the perfect summer with his first love, the charming and seductive Spiro. He fell head over heels in love from what started as a clumsy crush.

But that was twelve years ago. His relationships since have been spectacular failures because of how things ended with Spiro. If he has any hope of moving forward, he needs to find Spiro and get some closure … even if he has to fly halfway around the world to do it. Too bad he instead finds himself falling—again—for the man who ruined him for all other men.

Love isn’t an emotion Spiro Papadopoulos entirely trusts anymore. He’s far too pragmatic for that. His focus these days has to be on his art and caring for his ailing mother. Being with Noah again is easy and feels so right … but is it love? Spiro isn’t sure. Besides, with his entire life being tied to Greece and Noah’s to New York, love might just be a luxury neither of them can afford.

Can Spiro and Noah overcome the oceans and years between them—or will their second chance at love end as badly as their first?


Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink




Giveaway

Bryan is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card with this tour - enter via Rafflecopter for a chance to win:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47119/?




Excerpt

Far Away meme


Exclusive excerpt # 4

“You know, you are as handsome as you were years ago.” Spiro held up a finger. “I saw this before I drank the ouzo!” The corner of Spiro’s mouth curved into a slight smile as the gold flakes in his eyes danced in the light. 

Noah winced at the thought of how gangly he was growing up. Perhaps Spiro only thought he was cute back then because he was drinking that ouzo stuff. Spiro was still as sweet and adorable as he was when they were kids... but now, that adorable and sweet Spiro was eye fucking him. He saw the same look in Spiro’s eyes earlier, when they were sitting on the pier. That same smile now, the deep stare: he was a hundred percent sure he was being eye fucked right now. 

Noah’s arousing thoughts caused his cheeks to blush as a flutter ran from his chest to his head. The rush of oxygen caused him to feel lightheaded for a second. Without shame, Noah knew he would give himself to Spiro tonight without hesitation if that was what Spiro wanted. Perhaps one should always have a hesitation, but this was not the case. 

Noah wanted nothing more than to be possessed by the person in front of him. He wanted to be naked, lying beside this man, on the beach, in the boathouse, in the barn, right here, if that was what Spiro wanted. Are there no limits tonight? Have I gone mad?

That hot summer day in the boathouse, the moment Spiro pushed deep inside him, their souls had connected forever. Noah knew little about the grown man in front of him, yet it was as if they’d been together forever. If Spiro asked, he would sleep with him tonight. All he had to do was ask. 

Over the years, Noah had never been opposed to just having sex with someone if he was into them. He wasn’t a slut, and it was never ideal. But sometimes, a person needed to satisfy an itch. It was one of the perks of being a gay man... Anonymous, cheap sex was somehow acceptable.

But this wasn’t what he was feeling tonight. What was going through his heart was something deeper, a longing to be consumed by Spiro. It was the same as years ago, and again this afternoon when Spiro recognized him—and now. Years of therapy told him to slow down. Be careful. Don’t be stupid.

When their dinner was served, they continued talking as they ate. Noah was a master at appearing that he was eating, nibbling on bits of food. Keeping it light, he shared a little about his job, his friend Rodney, and the passing of his grandmother that led to the selling of the lake house. He held back his depressing track record with men.

It was approaching midnight when the two left the restaurant and emerged onto the dark narrow street. All the stores were closed for the night, and the street had been abandoned hours ago. It was only the two of them. Goosebumps rose on Noah’s arms as the chilled air attacked his skin through his shirt. 

“Are you cold?” Spiro asked. Illuminated by a thin slice of the moon, his eyes revealed his concern for Noah’s comfort.

Noah tried to play it off. “I’m okay.” 

“With the breeze coming off the ocean at night, the nights are cooler. We’ve been waiting all summer for this breeze. I’m sorry it’s not warmer for you.”

“Is it always like this, this time of year?”

“Yes.” Spiro stepped in a little closer. “The best time to be here if you like warm weather is around your birthday.” 

Noah’s brows rose. “How do you know my birthday?” The warmth of Spiro’s breath caused him to inhale. 

“It’s June tenth, right?”

“Yeah! How do you know that?”

“Really? I’ll never forget your birthday. It was the day you arrived at the house.” Spiro’s hand lightly touched Noah’s arm.


His touch made Noah draw a breath. “Oh! That’s right! Trust me, I remember.” Noah smiled at the thought of that day. It was the beginning of the best summer of his life.

There was a moment of silence as the two stood on the narrow sidewalk. Noah looked at the moon, trying to fill the space with something. As he looked down, Spiro came in and kissed him. Startled, it took a half a second for it to register and their mouths to sync. 

Their kiss deepened as Spiro backed him against the building. Savagely, they kissed for several minutes before Spiro pulled back. “You are handsome. I’ve wanted to kiss you since this afternoon.” Spiro’s penetrating stare kept Noah pinned to the wall. 

The cool nighttime temperature had vanished. Noah’s body was on fire, heat rising from his chest, extending all the way to the tips of his fingers and toes. He could feel heat on his cheeks as well. There were no words to come close to how Noah was feeling. Instead, he leaned in as their heads closed the gap between them. 

Spiro gripped the back of Noah’s head and pulled him in, deepening their kiss again. The taste of ouzo engaged Noah’s taste buds as he recalled how magnificent Spiro was at kissing. This kiss was anything but gentle as Spiro’s warm tongue invaded Noah’s mouth.


Noah’s eyes drifted to Spiro’s bow-shaped lips before moving up to his eyes. Their eyes met, causing Noah’s heart to skip a beat. Noah had no idea what he saw in those cat eyes that were staring intensely back at him and caused his heart to flutter. It wasn’t disdain, dominance, or dismissal, the usual looks his peers gave him upon meeting him for the first time. It was... he’s really looking at me.

Everything about Spiro enthralled him. No longer wishing away the next two months before he could escape to Harvard, he was cautiously excited about the summer.

“Hi, I’m Noah.” He felt the heat of a blush on his cheeks as he extended his hand. Spiro looked directly at him; his deep stare instantly pinned Noah. His dark locks of hair, jet black, ran the length of his neck and curled at the nape of his neck. Noah tried to release a breath quietly. Adrenaline pumped through his veins like the multiple streams that fed into Lake Winnipesaukee. He’d never acted this boldly when it came to meeting someone. The way Spiro looked at him gave him the boost of confidence that he could actually stand here and talk to him. This was a first, and it surprised him.

Spiro shook Noah’s hand. “Um, my English is not so good. My name is Spiro.” A deep voice cast from his full lips. Spiro saying his own name sounded more exotic than when Noah’s grandmother said it.

Geeze Louise, his teeth are perfect, too. They’re so freaking white. Noah stumbled over his own words as he searched for something to say. Spiro’s gaze kept Noah from looking for more than a second before lowering his head.




Author Bio

Bryan T. Clark

Bryan T. Clark is a multi-published award-winning author of gay romance, and contemporary books.

In his early in life, Bryan learned that he was different from everyone else in his world. As a young African American boy, he was the second to the youngest of seven children. Long before hormones kicked in and the realization of same sex attraction, it was his light skin and blond hair that made him different from those around him. Teased within his own race for being lighter than everyone else, the kids on the playground called him “Cornbread”.

As a writer, Bryan has taken back the power once given up to those schoolyard bullies. He is committed to bringing his readers stories of real life, with multicultural characters, riveting plots, and where the underdog always wins. He is the founder of Cornbread Publishing: the name empowers him and is a constant reminder that life can have a Happily-Ever-After.

Born in Boston, Massachusetts, Bryan and his husband of thirty-six years have made their home and life in the Central Valley of California.

Author Website: https://www.btclark.com
Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/btclarkauthor
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/BryanTClarkx2
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/romanceauthor/
Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7875459.Bryan_T_Clark
Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/bryan-t-clark/
Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Bryan-Clark/e/B00INKEVWM


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