Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Hardest Thing by James Lear A great mystery, action, suspense, and graphic unrestrained sex!

The Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg MysteryThe Hardest Thing: A Dan Stagg Mystery by James Lear

My rating: 4 of 5 stars


Killing Is Easy. Love Is…


Once a major in the U.S. Army, Dan Stagg fell afoul of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. In his late 30s, tall, and muscular, Dan is prone to violence, always upholding what he views as justice. He’s offered a great deal of money to protect the young male “secretary” of a powerful real estate broker. The vain, shallow—but most of all hot—young man’s idea of protection includes sex. Dan quickly realizes something strange is going on: he’s being used as a shield for a much more sinister operation and must choose between easy money and sex or the ideals that he embodied in the Army. Why should he do the right thing—particularly when the army betrayed him? The Hardest Thing is a sexy gay mystery filled with lots of gay sexual encounters, romance, sweat, violence, and conspiracy.


The Hardest Thing is the first book I’ve read by James Lear. And I quite enjoyed it. The story’s subplots add such insightful musing, producing a richer story. As the scheme intensifies, unraveling truth from lies becomes increasingly more difficult. Especially pertaining to the puzzling pieces that encompass the young protégé/secretary Dan is hired to protect. Secondary characters, both good and bad, are essential in a good story. Lear doesn’t disappoint in this area. They are all well-defined and instrumentally placed at the right moments within the story. Frequently leading in ways just enough that have you query their motives.

From the beginning of the story the main character Dan Stagg has continued flashbacks into his past. These flashbacks are as integral to the story in as much as making Dan actions and personality perfect for the main character, seamlessly adding a twofold depth to his character--in so much that it binds all the forces within this story, hurling the reader toward its pinnacle finale.

When the young secretary adds sex to mix, Dan takes full advantage of what the young man offers him, over and over again. Instead of the heat burning itself out it grows to a full-out firestorm. Soon Dan can’t decipher if the feelings he has for this man are because of the explosively brute sex they share, or something more. Dan’s emotion stability is becoming more and more difficult to define the longer the two are together.

While together, the secretary divulges his past to Dan and a spiral of trepidation and conflict about this whole setup worsens. Soon an ominous series of events begin to commence, adding more fuel to Dan’s suspicions about this charade even more. When suddenly the young man disappears, Dan realizes he’s being played. The nagging question in Dan’s mind is what part the secretary ultimately played. With Dan, the last time he didn’t have a choice in the matter of his fate. This time, he’s not going out without a fight!

If you’re looking for a great mystery, with a lot of action and suspense, together with graphic and unrestrained sex, then I highly recommend you read Lear’s, The Hardest Thing!

Title: The Hardest Thing - A Dan Stagg Mystery
Author: James Lear
Release Date: August 11, 2013
Genre: GLBT (m/m)/Mystery
Pages: 264
Publisher: Cleis Press
ISBN: 978-1-57344-929-8
Reviewer: Barb
Rating: 4 Stars

Heat Level: III ~ Requires a Diagram: Love scenes are frequent, extremely detailed and very explicit. The storyline pushes the envelope, as do the sex scenes and may involve multiple partners, partner swapping. The story may also contain controversial subject matter not for the faint of heart.

Warning: Rape Scene

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Up Close and Personal with Author & Artist Cinsearae S.

Cinsearae Santiago's love of the supernatural, odd, and bizarre, including gothic 'darkly beautiful', brings inspiration in her work as an author. And also helps with her artistic side too. With all of these abstract combinations of concepts to draw on for Muses, each working collectively with Cinsearae’s free spirited personality, help aid Cinsearae in her drive to create.  

I should mention, this isn’t the first time I’ve had the pleasure of interviewing Cinsearae. The first time was on September 11, 2012. She and I were joined by some of the characters from her book Dairy of a Vampire Stripper And it was a blast! (Cinsearae S...Author/Character Interview)

When Cinsearae agreed to do a one on one interview for me I was thrilled. Because I was sure Cinsearae’s fabulously spirited personality would shine throughout this interview.  I was right!!

Welcome Back Cinsearae! I’m so excited to have this opportunity to interview you, and this time with no interruptions…*grin*

Shall we begin?

Q. What is the most important attributes to remaining sane as a writer?

Good question, lol! Although I know most authors keep to a strict daily writing routine, I don’t. There are other creative facets to my life that I put time into, so for me, the drive to write comes in ‘waves’. If I feel that my muse is about to take a vacay, I’ll simply stop and work on something else. I don’t sweat it; I know she’ll come back when she’s good and ready, lol!

Also, remember to breathe. If you’re feeling stressed, just stop and take two or three deep breaths. You’d be surprised how such a small thing helps a lot.

Definitely take time to unwind. Unplug yourself from social media, your phone, and the senseless chatter of TV and take a walk in nature. It’s so grounding and helps to clear your head, and oftentimes I much prefer nature over technology. There has been quite a few times when I did not touch my laptop for days….and it didn’t bother me a bit.

Q. How difficult is it to separate the author from the person?

I stay true to myself. Being an author IS a part of me, no separation (or masks) needed *grin*.

Q. Is writing your full time livelihood?

I wish I was up to that point, lol. But no, I’m also busy creating creepy dolls, unique jewelry pieces, and anthropomorphic oddities for my Etsy shop, Mistress Rae’s Decadent Designs. I also love taking my shop out on the road and vending at horror/steampunk-themed conventions. You might also catch me in the middle of designing book covers for Damnation Books and indie authors, too, and of course, I have Dark Gothic Resurrected Magazine that I put out three times a year, that I put a lot of TLC into. :) 

Example of Items from Mistress Rae’s Decadent Designs
All photographs (c) by Cinsearae Santiago. Copying prohibited.

Q.  Do you still have the first story you wrote?

I had it for quite some time, or at least my mother kept it until the paper it was written on fell apart, lol. I had written my very first story back in 3rd grade, and by the time I was about to hit high school, the paper was pretty much done for.

Q.  Where is the best place to go to if you're in need of inspiration?

I’m pretty much a house mouse, and I have plenty of movies, books, music and projects to the point where I can stay in the comfy confines of home for that, lol! Every now and then I’ll check out the craziness of the outside world for the heck of it, though *grin*.

 Q. Do you believe a good life is attainable? Or is it something that is out of our control i.e. subject to luck etc?

I feel that for the majority of us, we have to work for that ‘good life’. Your life is what you make it, and like attracts like. If you keep yourself in a mentally negative state and constantly miserable, then that’s all you’ll keep drawing to yourself. As for luck, it’s such a strange thing; some say you have to make your own luck, while for others; it seems to fall right into their lap. I’m definitely part of the majority when it comes to ‘making it’, but I’m also a firm believer in counting my blessings. Things could be so much worse—for any of us—that we should be thankful for the things we do have.

Q. Are you a plotter or a pantser?

When I first start out, I have about half of the plot in the beginning. Then afterwards, it's like I'm completely pantsing, following whatever my characters are doing, and I'm just there for the ride writing down whatever's going on!

Q. How do you come up with the names for your leading characters?

Thankfully, my characters come to me already made up, lol. Name, features, personality, you name it. The only time I have to think up names for characters is when I'm writing short stories. Kinda weird, lol.

Q. How do you cope emotionally with reviewers who seemed to have missed the point of your story completely?

I’ll rant a bit in the privacy of my own home for a couple days. I’d never blast something like that via social media, however. I have come across a review that was so inaccurate and biased, it seemed silly. But readers are savvy, and will hopefully notice that the review is in total contrast to the rest. When the majority say similar positive things, and ONE sounds completely opposite, that one is bound to be disregarded. 

Q. Do you like writing in series, or single?

As much as I love writing in a series, they’re also the hardest for me to complete. I have two others I have yet to finish! Single books are so much easier, lol.

Q. Tell us about Cinsearae the Artist?

·    Which came first your art or writing?
I think they went hand-in-hand, lol. Whenever I wrote stories as a child, I was always drawing pictures to go along with them. I loved art class as much as my English class, lol. That never changed during the course of junior high throughout college.

·    When did you begin your love with the camera?
My camera started becoming a staple back in mid 2000, around ’05-’06, and I became more ‘serious’ with it around ‘07. I love road trips, so to prevent myself from always saying, “Damn it! I wish I had my camera!” every time I saw something that piqued my interest, I started bringing it with me everywhere. There’s always something odd or a fleeting moment that will never repeat itself, so what better way to immortalize it than by taking a photo of it? *grin*

·    What do you prefer black and white or color photographing?
When taking shots of cemeteries or places in nature, I keep them in black and white. Depending on the subject/scene, B&W has a special aesthetic you can’t get using color. If it’s a single subject, and/or a close-up, I’ll keep it in color (again, sometimes…it really depends on certain things.) My biggest challenge is photographing single subjects, like insects and birds; they won’t sit still for you, lol! I did luck-out on a couple of subjects that were kind enough not to jump/fly/run away, though! *grin* I still can’t believe how lucky I was to have snapped a photo of a grasshopper on a crocus!

All photographs (c) by Cinsearae Santiago. Copying prohibited.

All photographs (c) by Cinsearae Santiago. Copying prohibited.

·    I just loved the photographs I saw on your website. And wondered if there are any stories behind any of them?
Thank you so much Barbara! The majority don’t have any stories behind them, really, they were just subjects that caught my eye and I just *had* to photograph them…although most of them are from frequent haunts of mine. Every time I go to those places, there’s always something different to take a picture of!

A picture says a thousand words...

Just For Fun…
What Makes You Laugh?

People who blatantly fart loudly in public and act like they didn’t do a thing…

“America’s Funniest Videos” or any similar type shows…..enough said. J (Sometimes I feel like they should rename them, “Darwin’s Best of the Worst”!)

My dog Hades, when she’s trying to catch a fly…she’ll do the most craziest-looking acrobatics while snapping at the darned thing! (She also does NOT like dolls that talk and move, so watching her reactions to them are a hoot.)

Then there’s lots of random, spur-of-the-moment stuff that has made me laugh, too. 

Thank you Cinsearae for sharing your time with us. And also for sharing those great pictures of your art and photography work!

And for those who stopped by today I would also like to say thank you and hope you enjoy yourselves. Cinsearae and I would love to hear from you. So don’t be shy, leave a comment and say Hi!!

Catch up with Cinsearae at her website

And also at this Additional Links: 

Signing Out,