Almost Paradise by Caitlin Ricci w/bonus author chat

Don’t forget to scroll down and check out Pixie’s interview with Caitlin.

Title:  Almost Paradise

Series:  Pine Hollow Wolves 01

Author:  Caitlin Ricci

Genre:   Paranormal

Length:  Novel

Publisher:  Silver Publishing (June 16th, 2012)

Heat Level:  Moderate

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥4Hearts                                                                             

Blurb:   Travis will do anything to keep his daughter safe, now that he finally has custody. Financially ruined, he cannot even afford food for himself most days. Could a stranger’s offer to dogsit be the solution Travis has been hoping for?

Travis has done everything to keep his daughter safe. He’s fought a long, hard battle with the courts to gain full custody and has finally found some breathing room. But that security comes at a heavy price.

Staying in a motel and living off his quickly dwindling savings is no way to raise a toddler, so when Liam steps into his life and offers him hundreds of dollars just to watch his dogs for a weekend, it almost seems too good to be true.

But when he finds out there is more to Liam than he ever thought, he has a hard decision to make. Can he and his daughter stay and be safe or will he need to leave?

Product Link:

Reviewer:   Portia

Review:  Liam is running an errand for his Alpha when the scent of a man gets his attention.  Even without his shifter senses, he can tell the other man is down on his luck.  But, being a shifter he is keenly aware that the other man is just as attracted, if not a tad leery of Liam.  But attraction isn’t enough to make Travis accept Liam’s invitation to lunch.  Fortunately, Travis’s daughter, Hannah, has no reservation about getting to know Liam better.

I’m not sure how Almost Paradise is going to be received.  I personally loved it.  There was enough of a break from the same ole same ole paranormal shifter stories that flow through my inbox that I was hooked from the beginning.  There’s enough back-story to hook me, but enough left unsaid for me to look forward to the next book.  And as I know that Book 2 is about the Alpha, who came off like Don Corleone, I can’t wait to see how he redeems himself.  Not to mention the Alpha’s sister, who is a rather scary woman.

Anyway, back to this book. We are introduced to Liam first and I wasn’t sure if I was even going to like him.  I got that his position was similar to a traditional pack’s beta, but because of the dynamics, he came off as more of a mob errand boy.  But, as he interacted with Travis and Hannah, he shifted, in my mind, from paid lacky to more like Tony Soprano.  And not just his character, but all the shifters.  They have a clannish elitism that just reminded me of New York mafia family.  Which might not mean anything to you, but I’ve always found authoritative men with an air of mystery uber hot. The fact that he’s all about the pack and family only made him that much sexier.

And as much as I loved Liam, I loved Travis more.  He’s been through hell, trying to retain custody of his daughter.  Now that everything is pretty much settled, he’s broke and unemployed, yet trying to maintain some level of normalcy for his child.  Sue me, but I’m a sucker for real daddies.  And, as much as he wants Liam, he is no pushover.  He makes Liam work for their mating bond, like a first-rate trial attorney.

I really applaud Ms. Ricci for creating a shifter world that is both interesting and different.   I look forward to reading Samson’s story and getting to know Liam, Travis and Hannah more in the future.  I’m recommending this title to readers who believe that men can handle a bit of courtship, patient shifters and far-sighted little girls.

Caitlin stopped by the MM Good Book Reviews interview room, yes we have one and agreed to be interogated…I, mean interviewed by Pixie. 😉

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Hey Caitlin, how you doing today?

Caitlin Ricci I’m good. Just woke up and had some breakfast. How’s your afternoon?

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews It’s wonderful. Kids not back from school yet, so a bit of peace and quiet.

Caitlin Ricci That’s got to be nice. No kids here (yet), but planning on at least three.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. I have three, makes me crazy sometimes. Well, Caitlin, I have looked around a bit and you are an honest to god brand new writer. So tell us a bit about yourself

Caitlin Ricci Yep, I am completely brand new. I’ve been writing for years, ever since middle school, so around the age of twelve. I don’t know what middle school is called there (England), since I know you have primary and then secondary, but for some reason, I thought secondary was for older kids. I never really felt like my stuff might be good enough to publish though until I wrote a short a while back and submitted it. It got rejected but after that I realized that the sting wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be so I got on this path with the Pine Hollow Wolves and Almost Paradise was born. I’m 27, live in Colorado, have a dog, a fiancée and a Blue Tongue Skink which is honestly the coolest reptile people can have as a pet. I’m in college for my bachelor’s in Human Services with a concentration in Domestic Violence and then I’ll be getting my master’s in either Social Work or Child Psychology. I want to be a school counselor with a primary focus on GBLTQ kids and their issues of bullying, acceptance, coming out, dating and suicide.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Wow. So you want to help all those poor kids who are having a hard time in school or at home. I think that is admirable.  I hope you get your qualifications for that. And as for the Blue Tongue Skink, I’ll take your word for it. Lol. I know you got knocked back a few times by publishers before Silver Publishing snatched you up, so can you tell us a little about your experience with that and what would you say to someone going through the same situation now?

Oh, and secondary school is for ages 11-16, then they can go onto college and then university.

Caitlin Ricci Good to know if I ever have a book set in the UK 🙂

As to your question, mostly I’d say…just keep writing. I love a quote that NaNoWriMo sent me once that said that you can’t edit a blank page. Yeah, it hurts to be rejected, especially when you love the story and the characters, but it’s gonna hurt when someone gives you a less than stellar review or a good friend says that they didn’t like your book or any number or other things. You can’t please everybody and if your story is good someone will publish it.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. So, you are my first Silver author interview.  Can you walk us through their process and how much support you get ;-)?

Caitlin Ricci Wow. That’s kind of awesome. Yay, team SP! The process is actually really simple. They’ve got a form on the website that you just fill out so no query letter stress there and you don’t have to try to sell yourself or your book. Just be honest, sound a little interesting and put in the info that they want. I submitted Almost Paradise the day before the deadline for the father’s day submission call. You get an automatic response saying that they got it and then a week later Alison sent me an email saying that it was accepted. It was 5 am when I read it and I was getting ready to go into work. I was bouncing around the room trying not to wake Scott (my fiancé) up.

I signed the contract, did the pre-edits, sent it back, talked to my cover artist, and did some more edits, talked to the cover artist again, a few more edits and then boom! Everything was done. The process is actually very easy, the editors are there to help and my cover artist is an awesome person who I would gladly work with again.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I am glad Silver looks after you so well. So have you had support from other m/m authors? I know Dreamspinner has an author forum, does Silver have something similar?

Caitlin Ricci They do and we’re all very friendly over there. I’ve connected with a lot of SP authors here on FB as well. And I belong to a group that is just for MM authors in Colorado which is fun since we’re hoping to do some in person events pretty soon and our Out in the Rockies blog hop is going on right now. Networking is just as important as an author, as it is in any other arena. Although writing is often a lonely solo type of excursion it’s great to have other people around to bounce ideas off of, get help when you’re feeling unmotivated or jazz over a new cover.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews That’s great, I also heard that you are quite new to reading m/m as well, tell the readers how that came about.

Caitlin Ricci I am actually, which is pretty crazy that my first book published is MM. I’ve been reading erotica for a while including Lauren Dane and Maya Banks so the idea of MMF or MMMF wasn’t new to me. Then a friend told me to try out Kim Dare. I read her free shorts and then read Duck!. I fell in love with the characters and decided to start writing MM. The idea of two guys in love though wasn’t completely new to me. In high school I was reading Yaoi and Shonen-Ai, watched Queer as Folk and loved Will and Grace.

I still write other pairings including MF and FF and MFF, but my guys have sort of taken over WIPs.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Well at least you’re on the right track now. Lol.

Caitlin Ricci Yep :). I like it a lot and thankfully I’ve got friends and a fiancée who support me.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, your guys are kinda wonderful. Just in case none of you readers know Caitlin’s new book is Almost Paradise which is the first in the Pine Hollow Wolves series. Can you tell everyone about your book?

Caitlin Ricci Thanks for saying that they’re wonderful :). Alright, so what few people know is that Almost Paradise was actually the second book that I wrote in the series. The sequel (working title Man’s Best Friend) is about the alpha and his love interest. Travis (from Almost Paradise) was mentioned in it and I liked him instantly, had to know more about him and after I finished Samson’s story I wrote Almost Paradise. Luckily it came together in time for the submission call. AP is about Travis, a single father who has worked his butt off to keep his little girl. Liam sees him when he’s trying to get a job and invites him to lunch, knowing that he’s got to do something to make this guy’s day just a little better. While they’re there Liam gets a call from his boss, Samson, telling him that he’s got to go out-of-town. With no time to get a sitter for his two dogs he asks Travis to do it and things just sort of fall in place from there.

And Hannah is freaking awesome. She’s the little girl and she’s adorable.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah I know, me and Portia had a cat fight over who was doing your review… I got to interview you Lol. *mean boss* Not that it isn’t lovely to be chatting to you!! Now I also heard that there is a Nap sized story about Travis and Liam, will that be published at all?

Caitlin Ricci Nap sized?

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, a really short one. It’s like the smallest short story that doesn’t take long to read… Nap sized.

Caitlin Ricci Ah okay. Sorry, wasn’t familiar with the term. *blush* wow so I’m a noob. There is a short with Travis and Liam that I’m hoping silver will accept for their Christmas line. In it they’re off on vacation with Hannah and they’ve been together for seven years now and they’re visiting Ireland. Some interesting things happen in that story that set up Hannah’s YA series later on when she’s 15.

I love this couple and couldn’t just let either them or Hannah go by the wayside.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Oh. that’s so cool. They are in it for the long game whoot!

Caitlin Ricci Total long game. They’ve been married for years at that point, Hannah loves having two dads and in her series her best friend is a younger Shifter named Ippy (Phillip) so she’s all for having a Shifter father and belonging to the pack.

I like HEA and for me that’s when they’re old they’re still sitting on the back deck, drinking sweet tea and watching their grand kids run around with more giant dogs.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews And as for the Nap thing I think it all depends who you talk to. Some would class it as a day-dream. Whatever floats your boat…for me its nap sized. Anyhoo, tell us more about your book, was it a conscious decision to not have any sex or was that how the characters wanted it.

Caitlin Ricci I put myself in Travis’s shoes. He’s not having hook-up. His daughter is right there in the next room and he’s trying to do what’s best for her. He’s a father first and always has been. That lessens in later stories when he realizes that he doesn’t have to be the only one there for Hannah and that she’s actually got an entire pack right there waiting for her if she ever needs anything, but right now his primary concern is making sure that she’s taken care of. For me having sex in there felt like it wouldn’t be doing that side of him justice. There’s one point when he’s angry, but Liam doesn’t want it to be like that with him. When they come together it’s because the time is right for both of them and Travis is willing to let Liam into their lives fully and let him be Hannah’s dad as well. The later stories are all explicit, including theirs.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Oh, you authors are always teasing me with future books, damn. So, where did the idea originate from? And although there are shifters we don’t see a change and it seems like you have put a lot of thought into what your shifters will be like… you know not instant mates and changing at the drop of a hat.

Caitlin Ricci There is a change :). I don’t like instant mates because it seems to be forcing the other person into a relationship. Arranged marriages are fun and I may do a story about one someday but forced forever binding relationships are not something I find sexy. The idea started with Samson. In his story (Pine Hollow Wolves #2) he rescues a child from a fire, finds himself overcome with smoke and passes out. He finds himself in an animal shelter and can’t get out without exposing himself since there’s cameras in the shelter. I like magic based Shifters as opposed to traditional werewolves where the bones break, there’s lots of pain, they end up naked, etc. I thought about having them naked but with Hannah around that wasn’t going to happen. They can choose clothes or not though. They’re no larger as dogs than they are as humans, which is still really big. But there’s no sudden change of mass to try to explain.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, but that change doesn’t count *raspberry*, Ha Hannah is a proper cutie and I loved how you worked her into the book without it getting to silly… got to say though that I admired Travis’ patience. I so wouldn’t have been able to stop myself from hauling off and giving someone a beat-down!!

So tell us about your hobbies or what you do in your spare time.

Caitlin Ricci Me neither. I think the only reason he didn’t was because he knew that Hannah was there and no good parent wants their child to see that. It was a hard line though deciding how much Liam would do, since he’s far more into justice and making sure that his new little family is safe than worrying about what people think.

Classes take up a lot of my spare time when I’m not writing. I’m also a nurse aid and I work with Alzheimer’s patients and other forms of dementia. I have a dog that I love that I try to take on a walk every day. I enjoy movies, listen to loads of different music and do a ton of laundry. Ideally, though, I’d like to cut that back to writing most of the day, walk with the dog and a movie at night. I enjoy horseback riding. I used to write poetry, but I haven’t in years, camping, fishing, shooting at the range, painting and cooking.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Damn! When do you have time to breathe!!

Caitlin Ricci Lol. Most of that I do on my minimal vacations. Generally, my life is writing, school, work, fiancée, dog. I work part-time so that makes the rest of it fit in nicely. Shooting is done on the weekends, same with fishing generally since we like to go early in the morning. Writing I can do whenever I want to though since I take a pen, paper and my tablet with me everywhere. A few hundred words is still writing and when people get nosy I get to tell them that I’m working on my next novel. They either get curious or give me the “you’re crazy” look and go away.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. So you said Scott (the fiancé) is supportive. What did he first think when you started writing m/m?

Caitlin Ricci He said the same thing that he says now- that he’s happy for me, but wants me to go back to writing my YA MF series that he told his family about, so he can share it with them. They are supportive of that I write, but they don’t know what. Same with my family. He stopped caring that I watch gay porn and call it research though which is a nice plus. Really though, he’s supportive no matter what I choose to write, because it makes me happy and my eventual goal is to live off writing. If I can support us both with something that I love to do and he can take care of the house and the kids while I play with beautiful men in my head that would be awesomeness rolled in chocolate and dusted with glitter.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Aww. That’s so lovely. I must admit I have heard some horror stories from other authors about how their family’s reacted badly or someone leaked it and they lost their jobs *shakes head* some people are just stupid. Right, so any secrets you want to share? *raises eyebrow*

Caitlin Ricci I write under a pen name, so that I don’t lose my job or my future career. Not many people would be okay with their child’s counselor writing MM erotic romance, or any erotica actually. I’m still debating on whether or not to keep the name for my YA stuff or not.

Caitlin Ricci Hmmmm…. secrets…. I worry that I bother the SP staff too much and that they’ll realize I’m not worth the trouble :).

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews ‎*Laughed myself silly* Damn girl, I read your book they won’t be letting go any time soon.

Caitlin Ricci Thank you darling 🙂 With my book coming out the day after tomorrow I realize that’s not likely, but it’s still hard to believe that my story got turned into a book which people have read and will be reading and that people will hopefully like and that my second book, Taming the Lion Tamer, was accepted as well, but there’s no release out on that yet.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Ohhhh new book *stars in eyes as gazes off into a dream world*. ~shakes head~ Okay, I was about to ask if there was anything else in the pipeline other that Pine Hollow Wolves. Will Taming the Lion Tamer be a series or a stand alone?

Caitlin Ricci And, if anyone is wondering if they’ll like my writing or not they can always pick up the Silver Shorts which are available for free off the SP website. I’ve got shorts in most of the ones from week 20 on.

Caitlin Ricci Right now it’s a standalone, but there is a sequel that might happen. Taming is about Quinn and Charlie. Charlie has a sister who has been divorced for about 2 years now, but she will get back together with her ex in her own book.

Blurb for Taming the Lion Tamer- Charlie thought it would be like any other Friday working as an animator. Then in walked Quinn and his rescued Asiatic Lion. For years Quinn has devoted his life to rescuing big cats so when an animation company offers him a donation in exchange for bringing one of the cats in to model he jumps on it.
Charlie’s so nervous that he can barely look at Quinn, much less talk to him. Quinn is confident, friendly and too handsome for words. Charlie can’t believe it when Quinn notices him, and then invites him up to the sanctuary for the weekend. He’s enthralled and finds himself falling hard for the man his sister calls Sex God Quinn Fitzgerald.

Draft blurb…so it won’t be the final, but it’s a sneak peek.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Hmmm. looks interesting… we will all keep our fingers crossed for you. **whispers* You are supposed to push books at the end so you can put up all the links *wink**

Caitlin Ricci and that’s a link to see the inspiration for Charlie, in case anyone is interested…. I just think he’s pretty to look at

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews ‎*cough* Yeah he is all right I suppose * drool*

Caitlin Ricci There’s no link though yet: P. I will follow the rules next time!

Hmmm, more new stuff…… working on Pine Hollow Wolves 2 and 3.

Book 3 being with Samson’s sister, Evangeline.

I have another MM planned called The Runaway. I also have two MM stories (a 5k short and something over 20k) awaiting acceptance at Silver Publishing

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So, there will be a lot of scope for you to play with and a lot to choose from.

Caitlin Ricci The 5k short is a St Patty’s Day fun little thing and the 20k is (working title) Marked by Grief which I’m pretty proud of. It made a beta reader cry so at least the emotion is strong in it 🙂

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Wow, busy bee. Yip.

Caitlin Ricci totally busy but that’s how I like it. Oh! And I forgot to mention the MMM story that is my current WIP PITA. I say that lovingly, of course. It’s my first time writing MMM, so getting the dynamics right is like playing with lit matches and trying to juggle them all at once.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews MMM is a hard one to do. But, if you have the right balance between the characters it should work well. Looks like you will be keeping Silver busy for some time 😉 and we will have lots to look forward to *g* lucky readers.

Caitlin Ricci ‎:) I certainly hope so. It’s a lot of fun to write about guys and before trying it I had no idea how enjoyable it could really be. I still like writing about women, but there’s something different and fun and OMG sexy about two guys who happen to fall in love.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews There is and you also have more diversity with the characters as well. Okay, so I am getting dirty looks off my starving kids so just a few more questions. This is the most important one… if the world were to change into a magical world what magical or mythical creature would you be?

Caitlin Ricci Hmmm…. gah hard one. And I thought this would be easy :P. Okay… thinking…. thinking… thinking… A shifter absolutely. But something that could fly…. so probably a dragon. Something fierce, protective, could still go bounding around the countryside with my dragon friends, but wouldn’t be nearly helpless like a unicorn or Selkie.

And flight would be important, although I’d be large so staying hidden would be an issue. And eating knights would be a pain. But, being a griffon wouldn’t be that much fun either and there’s no way I’d be a basilisk. So yep, a dragon.

Western, not eastern.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lol. You wouldn’t go back in time. *snigger* Hell Hound beats all of them hands down… that’s what I’d be.

Caitlin Ricci A hell-hound would be an awesome choice, especially considering all of their powers. It’s the imminent death thing that I wouldn’t like though. Sounds lonely when if someone sees you, they know they’re going to die.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yeah, but remember they guard the gates of hell, which means they would have loads of friends on tap. 😉

Okay. So, before I choke to death laughing, tell all the readers who will become your fans *scowl* they will!! Where they can find you, so they can tell you how awesome you are.

Caitlin Ricci Lol. True. I’ve wondered what it would be like to be Ammut, too. Same idea, only not nearly as cool looking. And she just eats the hearts so only sort of the same.

Lol. Fans would be awesome and comments are always appreciated! They can contact me here on FB or on my blog at And Silver Publishing is giving away a copy of Almost Paradise tomorrow so make sure to enter if you haven’t already. My blog is also a great place to find good music and sexy pictures of guys.

Author Caitlin Ricci

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews And don’t forget Facebook where we can stalk you and you would never know!

Caitlin Ricci

Stalkers are welcome, too. Since it’s a public profile :P.

Gah Hannah is so freaking cute on that cover!

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yep. So, I have to bring this interview to a close (why do we call it an interview when it’s a chat and free for all?) and I have to thank you for being gracious enough to join us here at MM Good Book Reviews and thank you for being a good sport and putting up with me;-)

Caitlin Ricci Seriously, the pleasure was all mine and I had a great time. Thanks for inviting me over and it was great talking with you.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Great talking to you to, and we will do something in the future when you are an old hand at being an author. Thanks again Caitlin… Bye.

Caitlin Ricci Sounds great. Have an excellent evening and thanks again for your time. Bye!

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Enjoy the rest of your day *waves* bye.

Caitlin Ricci thanks, you too.



The Cool Part of His Pillow by Rodney Ross with Author Chat

Title: The Cool Part of His Pillow

Author: Rodney Ross

Genre: Contemporary

Length: Super Novel (336pgs)

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press (14th May 2012)

Heat Level: Low

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥4 ½Hearts

Reviewer: Pixie

Blurb: The midforties are that time in a gay man’s life when his major paradigm shifts from sexy to sensible. But when Barry Grooms’s partner of twenty years is killed on Barry’s forty-fifth birthday, his world doesn’t so much evolve as it does explode.

After navigating through the surreal conveyor belt of friends and family, he can’t eat another casserole or swallow much more advice, and so, still numb, he escapes to Key West, then New York. He embraces a new mantra: Why the hell not? He becomes so spontaneous he’s ready to combust. First, he gets a thankless new job working for a crazy lady in a poncho, and then has too many drinks with a narcissistic Broadway actor. Next, it’s a nude exercise class that redefines flop sweat, and from there he’s on to a relationship with a man twenty years his junior, so youthfully oblivious he thinks Karen Carpenter is a lesbian woodworker.

Yet no matter how great the retreat from the man he used to be, life’s gravity spins Barry back to the town where he grew up for one more ironic twist that teaches him how to say good-bye with grace.

Purchase Link:

Review: Barry and Andy have been together for 23 years. It is Barry’s 45th birthday and tragedy strikes. As Barry struggles with the minefield of life, his friends and family look on helplessly, as he tries to find his path as just Barry.

This is a touching story of love, loss, anger, grief, new beginnings and trudging on with your life in the face of a terrible tragedy. It isn’t so much of a romance, it has romance, but it is not the focus, and there will be no dancing off under the moonlight with a new love. In this story we come across Barry the night before his birthday as he celebrates with his husband Andy. We stay with him through the next year as we see his loss, his new beginning, further loss and where he begins to heal.

This is not a book that you can put down easily once you get into it. As a matter of fact. I couldn’t even tell you where or how I became ensnared in Barry’s life. The characters that are described in this book start to become real to you.  Their characteristics come to life and you begin to feel like you get to know Andy, Barry and all their friends. When tragedy strikes you can feel their horror and pain.  You understand their reactions to everything and the need for levity at the funeral. And. you also understand that life still moves on, as their lives start to pull them back to reality.

We join Barry on his journey as he tries to find his life without Andy; dealing with avoidance, both physically, emotionally and mentally, with friends and with acquaintances who don’t know of Andy’s death, on the pitfalls of far-flung friends as having to explain again and again of his loss. Of beginning anew, making new friends and taking a new lover. This is about a man who has been set adrift from his rock and is trying to find a raft to stabilize him… so please don’t expect him to be having loads of sex and finding new love. Although Barry does have a new brief relationship we don’t get to see the sex, it is inferred.

I really wasn’t sure about this book when I first cracked it open, as the prologue seemed a little spacey to me. But then, I got into the first chapter and somewhere along the way I became enthralled with all the characters and their lives, their interactions and their friendships. There are some humorous parts and some tear making parts, some regretful parts and some angry parts. And watch as he steps into the dating pool again and fights a quagmire of online profiles.

I really do have to recommend that everyone give this one a try, it might not be dripping in sex and happy ever afters into the sunset but it is a great book and a touching read.

Pixie made contact with Rodney while he was vacationing in sunny Palm Springs, CA.  He was gracious enough to take a break from sunbathing on clothing optional beaches to grant MM Good Book Reviews and interview.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Hello Rodney, are you in the land of the living now?

Rodney Ross Here I am. Yes…just some suck-ass Wi-Fi here at the resort.

Rodney Ross From sunny Palm Springs, good morning, hon. May I call you hon?

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yes that’s fine with me, do you prefer Rodney or Rod?

Rodney Ross Rodney.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Okay, so let’s begin. Rodney you have just released your first book, how does it feel?

Rodney Ross Hon, my apologies…I am having erratic Wi-Fi…as opposed to erotic.

I am hoping that by signing off, then returning (I’d get better reception.)  I am now with you.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Yep. Seems that way. 😉

Rodney Ross  So far, so good. To answer your question: it’s gratifying, of course, to see my work unleashed upon the world. But, until I hold the paperback version in my little palsied claws, it won’t quite feel real.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I can see how that would work.  Like when you finally get a printed copy, it makes it more real.

Rodney Ross It does. I’m a very tactile person — not a hoarder, but my bookshelves groan under the weight of the works I REFUSE to part with.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So, The Cool Part of His Pillow is not the typical romance, but I found it to be a compelling read.  Tell the readers a little about it please.

Rodney Ross My getaway to Palm Springs has at least given me some breathing room, time to focus on promotion…I have made the rounds of the few LGBT bookstores here and thankfully found DSP product…so I immediately set upon charming the owner or manager into ordering THE COOL PART OF HIS PILLOW.

Rodney Ross Thanks, hon, for the compliment. I know it doesn’t conform to the norm. Frankly, I was a little surprised Dreamspinner was keen on it. It is almost anti-romance, in that romance is almost completely subtracted from the main character’s life, with a very good chance he may never recreate happiness again. So, actually, it’s about finding new bliss, repurposing and reformatting and reinventing.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I must admit to being fascinated by Barry. How did you come up with his character?

Rodney Ross Well, writing it as I did in first person, he surely embodies a lot of my views, politically, etc., but anyone who would consider it memoir is mistaken. I really wanted to address a certain age in the LGBT community, when a certain invisibility descends, and what happens then when the certainty of your life also vanishes. That Barry is successful, has money, all of his hair and teeth and a sense of humor means little when the touchstone of his life, his partner Andy, is whisked away in one horrendous moment.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I have got to say, what a way for it to vanish, when I was reading it my heart was in my throat. You showed complete destruction of a person’s life in brilliant detail.

Rodney Ross His thought processes become a little skewed, his innate skepticism multiplies, he doesn’t trust much of anything, and then realizes that there has to be a sunset for him to dream on, somewhere. And so begins his journey…not exactly EAT, PRAY, LOVE, more (like) DRINK, SULK, BITCH for a time, but he works his way through. It was difficult to write. Having a partner of many years myself, it was difficult to conceive of such apocalyptic horror, and the ongoing trauma of the legal system, the viral video of the accident itself.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I think it was brilliantly written. You grasped his stages of grief really well. It came across the page and let us join him and mourn with him.

Rodney Ross That was my goal. Grief is such a process, and to share it so publicly is additional torment. It redefines you. It becomes The New Normal.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Don’t give it away.  I was imagine all sorts of accidents, especially with Andy racing a train earlier in the book.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews And the actual shock of what really happened. wow.

Rodney Ross And without going into Spoilers, my hope is that the novel also demonstrates that, yes, sometimes the shit continues to hit the proverbial fan, and you have to don a bigger rain bonnet. It’s an unthinkable exit, that’s for sure. Yet, I also wanted to couch this in humor.

Without mumbling the trite “My favorite emotion is laughter through tears” stuff from STEEL MAGNOLIAS, indeed, I felt the circumstances needed a light touch. I have always been, and continue to be, a hopeful person, so that informs my writing. That tears are being shed does not preclude the possibility that a smile can be found in the darkness. You have to give the reader breathing humor.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews You did. It was exceptionally well done. Okay, less me gushing and more about you. As you said you have a long-term partner/husband and I read that it was your 30 year anniversary this year. How’s Greg been in the support and encouragement?

Rodney Ross Greg is the ultimate support system, which makes him sound like some space-age ventilator. As a writer himself — plays — he knows too well the angst and torment and anxiety and heavy lifting of writing. I mean: it’s not so easy. Digging ditches is hard labor, but constructing a plot and dialogue is itself a lot of sweat.

And Greg appreciates the fact that I will often disappear, when the muse hits, for hours in my office, tapping away, living other people’s lives. He’ll come in with a drinkie, or a reminder that dinner has gone cold, or laments that maybe pretty please could we go somewhere and look at real people and not just the ones I’m inhabiting?

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Sounds like he keeps you on track.  ;-).

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Well, do you have a certain process or is it something less structured, when you sit down to write?

Rodney Ross   A hybrid of both. I knew the first sentence of TCPohP when I sat down to write, and I knew the last, so I had an endgame, but I was always open to exploring how much I could get away with…several characters evolved radically, but they were always in the outline. I work from copious note-taking. I rarely share what I do with Greg, or anyone. I might run a concept by him and if he makes a squichface at me, I know maybe I am on the wrong track.

Key West, as literary-minded as it is, doesn’t have many reader groups, or author get-togethers, so I really don’t have a lot of interaction in that way…which can be a help or a hindrance, as it is.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Has Dreamspinner helped with their authors’ forum? Putting you in touch with other authors and the like?

Rodney Ross A bit. Again, I don’t really seek or need help with the craft…it’s really the promotion aspect that I have sought input on…book signings, the practicality of how to take a credit card, how big should the posters be, beer and wine versus soft drinks, all of those basic things that are unfamiliar terrain to me.

I worked in Advertising for over two decades, but I never promoted ME. Now, I — and the novel, of course — are the product, and it’s still a little off-putting. I am by nature talkative and friendly, but shaking the hands of strangers is surreal. So those are the things I have asked about, and gotten both good and not-

As bookstores vanish, there is less opportunity for those venues, so you have to explore the idea of LGBT centers, LGBT coffee shops, bars, lounges…I mean, if I could sing, I’d probably write a Karaoke blurb and perform the goddamn thing.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So you had a lot of experience, you learn as you go along I suppose.  Well, after this you’ll soon be an old pro. I gotta ask how it was for you when you first started submitting your book to publishers.

Rodney Ross  Hateful.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews  Lol.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Ooohhh is that gossip I hear, come on spill.

Rodney Ross I felt like I had missed on some quota.”Oh, we already an LGBT author.” Or, “We have a book about The Gay coming out in 2013.”

I was surprised how closed the market is — mainstream publishers, I mean. If you aren’t Sedaris or Burroughs or Cunningham — all of whom I love — it becomes difficult to avoid the gay ghettoization.

My people is about people, not political concepts, it’s about pain, which is universal. But I think what most Literary managers and Editors saw was, “Oh boy, another one about a lonely gay man.” If, of course, they responded at all, which many do not. Silence. I heard crickets. My own labored breathing. But nothing for weeks.

I also think gay sensibility informs so much now, the industry has become a little blasé about it. Gay characters abound, sassy trannies show up on Page 83.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Well you have Dreamspinner now who know a good book when they see one. *g*

Rodney Ross Indeed. I was elated that they found worth in my work because, as I said, it doesn’t really conform to certain strictures they indicate in their Submission requests. So I felt they appreciated the writing…and their Editorial Staff is without peer, lauding what they felt was good and gracefully indicating where I’d made a misstep, overstated something or needed clarification.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So you found Dreamspinner Press is breaking newish ground in the M/M genre, does this mean you have another book in the works?

Rodney Ross I do indeed, and it does an LGBT component, but isn’t driven by it, so I don’t know where it will find a nice home. But yes, I DO think Dreamspinner took a bit of a gamble on me; I hope readers do, as well. If people are seeking hot sex scenes, they won’t find them, but they will find a whirling dervish of a plot, some twists and, I hope, a sense of fulfillment for my character by the final page.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews I think people who read M/M are now opening up to more versatile story-lines and we appreciate the authors who take a chance on us. 😉

Rodney Ross I hope you are right. I am a bit apprehensive. I myself like to read explicit sex passages, but it didn’t feel right for this particular tale…since its first-person, it would have come across as a bit more salacious, like a lovemaking narrative.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So, after the experience that you have had, what would you recommend to someone else who is thinking of submitting their work?

Rodney Ross I didn’t even THINK about this as M/M, frankly; I just thought it about one gay man and his survival.

DSP has been so kind. Their responses to inquiries are lightning-fast. I just E-mailed this AM to lightly grouse about it not being on Amazon or Barnes & Noble yet, and I had a response within 30 minutes. The answer: big e-tailers will go “live” with it when they damn well choose, but the detail has been furnished to them.

Of course, fiscally-speaking, I would much prefer people buy from DSP directly, or request it at their local bookstore, but I also know people tote around gift cards, and there are those are NOT comfortable registering at an LGBT website, whether because they are closeted or just don’t like to “register” anywhere.

Elizabeth North has assembled a dazzling and capable staff that truly appreciate the writer and their voice; I never once felt at all they were trying to cookie-cutter me into anything.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Hmmm, we always try to post the direct link to the publishers when we do a review as it shows support to the author and the publishers… and I think I read somewhere that authors get a better percentage from a publishers sale. Okay, you spoke about publicity earlier so I have Got to ask, where the hell is your website?

Rodney Ross I don’t have one, nor will I. Knowing my own OCD characteristics, it would consume too much time, administering, blogging, updating, and I wouldn’t get any writing done. I know, I KNOW, this does not particularly endear me to those who want access to their author’s site, but I will direct people to FB, or Twitter. I’m savvy enough to know my own weaknesses, and I would be so engaged with the site, decades would pass and my novel-in-progress would languish.

And yes, I DO get a better percentage from a direct sale from DSP…but I still have friends, family and others who do the Amazon thang, and they are growing impatient with me. But hell, yes, hon, put up those Direct LINKIES!

I am a slow methodical writer who polishes as he goes along, and my output is probably not as prodigious or as swift as many others….hence, the limitations I place on myself when it comes to Internet visibility.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews LOL, I know what you mean, sometimes you can lose yourself in trying to keep on top of everything and then fall behind *sigh* I do that with writing reviews. So stick a profile up on Goodreads chick, I did a web search for you and ended up with a Rodney Ross who writes articles for Bass Fishing, Gah.

Please tell me that wasn’t you!!

Rodney Ross Uhm, no, that wasn’t me, and yes, I will take your counsel and update my GOODREADS Profile; I am pretty sure I have one, but it may need more detail re: the novel and such.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews The novel is on there just no personal information or contact details 😉 so this is where I get personal… does you have an all over tan? *snigger*

Rodney Ross Currently, yes. I and my traveling companions spent a little time at a clothing-optional resort where we exercised our option.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Okay I am really jealous… I have grey skies and rain and hail. *sigh*

Rodney Ross As I mentioned, I am in Palm Springs CA this week, where it has been a hellish 107 the other day….but, of course, it’s a “dry heat,” whatever the fuck that means.  It’s been a good trip. They — a couple such cuties — actually went hiking today to Joshua Tree.

I said, “See ‘ya” and eyed a breakfast burrito. I haven’t yet let them read the book; they want to discover it at my book signing in Key West mid-June.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Lucky you.  I am going to be sick with jealousy. Okay back on track, what hobbies do you have, when you have the time?

Rodney Ross I garden, tend my three glorious cats, give my husband unsolicited advice, judge strangers, pass gas and blame others, travel.

Pixie MmgoodbookreviewsPortia will make sure we are coherent… I think.

Rodney Ross We’re both theatre buffs, so we do NYC a coupla times yearly, just returned from there weeks ago, a friend is managing EVITA so I had to check out the Ricky Martin mojo.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews So honest answer here, you and hubby have been together for thirty years… did you start dating when you were ten?, because you so don’t look over forty in your pictures.

Rodney Ross We really are so fortunate to have retired early enough to still be vital and run around and enjoy stuff, before health makes its inevitable decisions for us.

We courted in college and were living together by our senior year, true story, and yes, I have availed myself of coupla surgical procedures, so thank you making me feel my money was well-spent.

I am 50. This, when I type it, makes me go into a light convulsion. I may have to take to the bed with a cold compress and gin through a bendy straw.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Wow. hope my hubby looks that good at fifty, but I doubt it. Lol  Hmmm Gin.

Rodney Ross Botox, laser resurfacing and some light lipo under the chin, that’s the key. Better living Through Sutures.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews An honest man, if it makes you happy do it, that’s my motto. So a few more rambles, Let everyone know where they can find you so they can let you know how much they love The Cool Part Of His Pillow.

Rodney Ross People can join me on Facebook, or they can search for THE COOL PART OF HIS PILLOW Page on FB, they can access my gasbag Twitter thoughts @RodTRoss, or they can E-mail me at

And if they ever visit Key West, just look in the gutter.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews God, you had me snorting tea out my nose then. That burned.

Rodney Ross I will never deny that I favor a drink or 12.

Sorry. Now how would I know you were sipping something as sophisticated as tea when I am actually staring at a bottle of Grey Goose on our bar and wondering: is it too early?

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Because I am English and a proper lady *stop that sniggering Portia*

Rodney Ross My friends will return and I’ll be half-blotto in my shorty robe, showing a shiny nut and babbling about someone named Pixie and Portia.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews They will call the men in the white coats. Lol

Rodney Ross If they’re cute and hung, let ’em in.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Okay, the most important question of the interview… ~drum roll~ If the world became a magical place tomorrow, what magical or mythical creature would you be?

Rodney Ross Probably a fire-breathing dragon, so I could hunt down those who wronged me and char their ass.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews  Yeah. A kindred soul, although I’d be a hell-hound.

Rodney Ross I have recurring dreams of flying, as it is, and God knows I get the heartburn after Mexican, so I am actually halfway to dragon status. And wearing these sandals out here has given me a scaly hoof, too.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Oh god, Portia will kill us when she reads this, but what a way to go, I’ve had loads of fun Rodney, but I will have to draw the interview to a close, otherwise were gunna delve into the unknown. So, Rodney it has been a pleasure to have you here on MM Good Book Reviews and I have had a ton of fun, any last words to your new fans?

Rodney Ross Buy my damn book.

I thank you so much for hostessing me. Sorry for the singed nostrils, but if you had unfortunate hairs that probably took care of them.

Well, I guess if they are NEW fans they did buy my damn book, so let me amend that: thank you for buying my book. To those who haven’t: buy my damn book.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews God I love you, you’re brilliant, and we will have to do this again when you release your next one.

Rodney Ross Yes, please, ma’am, I’ll take another! My best wishes to you and yours. Grey Goose is calling me.

Pixie Mmgoodbookreviews Bye Rodney thanks again for the interview.

Rodney Ross  Bye!

The Beast Within by Edward Kendrick

Title:  The Beast Within

Author:   Edward Kendrick

Genre: Romantic Suspense

Length: Novel

Publisher: Silver Publishing

Heat Level: Mild/Moderate

Heart Rating:  ♥♥♥♥♥5Hearts

BlurbA serial killer targeting gay men results in four men’s lives intertwining–Devin and Gary, ex-lovers–Vanni, gay-club habitué–and Hollis, the case detective. Can they stop the killer, finding love in the process? Or will tragedy destroy their connection?

A cannibalistic serial killer targeting gay men is on the loose.

Devin, who has become increasingly erratic in the last two months, just split up with Gary, his lover of three years. Vanni, a habitué of the gay clubs, makes extra spending money on his knees in the club johns. Is one of these men the killer? Or will one of them instead become the killer’s next target?

Detective Hollis Robbins is in charge of the case. He intends to stop the killer, if he can.

When the killer strikes again, the four men’s lives intertwine as the search for the murderer intensifies. Will the attraction that two of them begin to feel for each other survive the hunt? Do they have the strength to continue on after tragedy strikes and teaches them that love can be bittersweet?

CONTENT ADVISORY: This title involves a “happily for now” conclusion.

Reviewer: Enigma

Review:  This was an absolutely fabulous read.  It starts by following three gay men who awaken after a night of clubbing not being able to remember details of their night befores.  Intermingled is a police investigation, where gay men are turning up dead.  It was very Agatha Christie and I loved it.  I HAD to move to the next chapter to see who might have gone missing next.

In my mind, this book could be divided into three parts.  Unfortunately, I can’t put labels on those parts or I’d have to give away the whole story.  Suffice it to say, Edward Kendrick has penned a tale that is equal parts romance and suspense.  There is grittiness in this book that I think he was going for in some of his other work but didn’t quite achieve.

I’d also like to note that I really appreciated the inclusion of an HIV positive character, albeit one of the secondary characters.  Don’t worry, the guy doesn’t die or anything, but it was nice to see an author addressing the issue without getting all angsty.

I will say this:  The Beast Within is not a quick paranormal read.  There are no sexy werewolves or shifters coming to save the day.  The Beast could dwell in anyone.

If you are up for a well-written tale of intrigue, broken men coming to terms with life and death and more than one beautiful love story…this is a definite must read.

Chat with Edward Kendrick

Edward and I had an opportunity to chat over the weekend.  Below is the cleaned up version.  Please leave a comment about The Beast Within or any of Edward’s books.  He’d love to hear from you and is giving away a free copy of The Beast Within to one lucky commenter…might as well be you. 😉

Portia de Moncur Anyway, (actually questioned omitted to not give away plot)? How could you do it?  Not the normal happenings for your stand MM romance novel.

Edward Kendrick Humm. Because it had to happen?
For the drama? Because it felt right for the story?  I’m a pantser when I write. It just…happened.

Portia de Moncur I neared to have a heart attack and almost threw my Kindle. I think I’ve read all but one of your books. Is it me, or did you lean more towards suspense with this one? I have to admit the first third of the book had me on pins and needles.

Edward Kendrick I like writing suspense/mysteries. *smile* and no throwing Kindles. It tends to damage them *G*

Portia de Moncur Did you mean to have so little sex? I seem to remember you being pretty good with a love scene.

Edward Kendrick For me this was more about the relationships than the sex per se. And about the suspense too…

Portia de Moncur I loved the whole book and gave it a top review (to be published later this afternoon.) I liked the fact that the romance just kinda evolved along with the mystery. Which character popped into your head first?

Edward Kendrick Thank you….Now that’s a good question as to who was first. In my head it began as a mystery and evolved into being Vanni’s story somewhere along the line.  The three club men were the beginning, as in ‘who done it or who might be a victim’. Then there had to be the cop of course. But the more I wrote of Vanni, the more I saw him as the central character because he was ‘angsty’ for lack of a better word.

Portia de Moncur My only complaint would be that you didn’t really address Vanni’s tricking. It’s not like he needed the money.

Edward Kendrick And good point about why he tricked.

Portia de Moncur I think I liked Beast because it was different. Do you find MM romance churning out lots of sameness…or is it just me?

Edward Kendrick What I find is there seems to be an emphasis on ‘it’s not good if it doesn’t have lots of sex’ in the minds of some people. So I think, and it could be just me, that sex is thrown in so a book will sell.  Which makes for ‘sameness’.  And honestly at this point I don’t read too many, primarily because I don’t want to be influenced by them.  If that makes sense?

Portia de Moncur That makes a lot of sense. I write erotica and love steamy romance, but I also like stories that have more of a build up to the “good stuff”. I particularly take offense to the books that make all gay men seem like bed hoppers.

Edward Kendrick Boy so do I.

Portia de Moncur So what’s next?

Edward Kendrick I have one coming out in January from Silver. It’s my first stab at fantasy. It’s M/M too, titled ‘Mage of Silence’; Action, adventure, etc, etc.

Portia de Moncur Man you are really churning them out. And I for one love watching you grow as an artist.

Edward Kendrick Thank you. I really hope I am growing.

Portia de Moncur Last question. What is the Beast Within?

Edward Kendrick Oh boy. Good question. The inability to understand the other person and where they’re coming from. The inability to say what you’re really feeling. The inability to be honest with yourself and others. And of course the craziness in the killer.

Portia de Moncur Nice…

Portia de Moncur Thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me today. I’m not just blowing smoke when I say I really enjoy your work. As an aspiring writer, I take courage in the fact that publishing houses will take a chance of writers who push the boundaries of the known literary universe.

Edward Kendrick Thank you very much for having me, and for the compliment. As for publishing houses, I was very lucky to find Silver because I think they’re excellent at doing that.

Portia de Moncur Thanks again and now go get your coffee. 😉

Edward Kendrick LMAO. I will. And you do a very good interview. Not the usual ‘how did you get started’ kind. I like.  Again, thank you so much. It was fun.

Portia de Moncur Ditto…

Edward Kendrick And now………coffeeeeeee.  Laters