Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Unapologetic Romance: Flames, Flirts & Festivals

Each story within Flames, Flirts & Festivals features a special event during the year. While A.M. Roark’s short highlights a modern-day Hogmanay and Up Helly Aa, Alexa Santi’s tale “Masquerade” invites readers to a ball on Halloween night in 1812 where a lost love may not be truly lost.

I started this reading experience with “Can’t Help Falling … in Edinburgh” by A.M. Roark.


Women of a certain age run out of fucks. A.M. Roark’s story “Can’t Help Falling … in Edinburgh” takes place post-divorce for the main character Natalie. She travels to Scotland to fulfill dreams and experience new adventures. Of course, she also runs into a hottie Scotsman, Graeme, to help light the fire.


An engaging wit runs through Roark’s tale, especially for some parts that feel like inside jokes. She had me at Nakatomi Plaza. (If you get it, you get it.)


“No, Graeme. I think you’re pretty close to perfect.” My voice drops, wavering slightly as I look up into his eyes, “Don’t fuck it up, okay?”


The novella is satisfying and filled with emotion, and the unapologetic tone is refreshing. If you have the pleasure of knowing Roark in real life, you can hear her through these words. As Roark writes, “pretty close to perfect.”


I haven’t yet had the pleasure of finishing all the stories, but I have high expectations.




Flames, Flirts & Festivals: A Diverse Short Story Romance Anthology


Authors:  Everleigh Allen, A.R. Bell, Brianne Gillen, Milly Gray, Allegra Johnson, Chele MacCabe, Maida Malby, A.M. Roark, Saharra K. Sandhu, Alexa Santi, Heather Scarlett, Catherine Stein


Flirting always gets me into trouble. Flaming hot trouble ...

From Samhain to Up Helly Aa, these sizzling stories by award-winning and bestselling authors will whisk you away to celebrations around the globe. Featuring spectacular locations, diverse characters, and rich storytelling, you're sure to find something to love.

Come join the fun as we eat, drink, and live happily ever after. 


Available via Amazon, Barnes & Noble and other e-retailers.



Friday, July 8, 2022

The Sexuality of Valkyrie (spoilers Thor: Love and Thunder)

 This blog contains potential spoilers for Thor: Love and Thunder, in particular concerning the character of Valkyrie. If you don’t want to know, please don’t read on.

Before the release of Thor: Love and Thunder, there was speculations and discussions on how the movie might address the sexuality of the warrior Valkyrie, played by Tessa Thompson. In Thor: Love and Thunder, now King Valkyrie now watches over New Asgard. 


In an interview with “Behind the Movie” on Fandango, Thompson was asked what the vibe was with Natalie Portman, and if there was any connection there between the characters. 


“Valkyrie is someone who is deeply steeped in her love of sisterhood.” Thompson responded. “I think also it’s delicious that she is another version of Thor.”


In fact, during the filming of the movie, shots of Thompson getting close with Taika Waititi and Rita Ora, and the idea of a real-life threesome made the possibility even more delicious – to borrow a word from Thompson. (If you want to see them, do a search for their names on Twitter … circa May 2021).


With Valkyrie, there are three (maybe four) references that address her love of women.


1) After ribbing Thor about what’s happening with Jane, Valkyrie says that she’s on the same “team” as Thor, aka Team Jane. 


2) Korg draws Valkyrie out about her lost love, referencing the death of her lover of another Valkyrie warrior on the battlefield. Valkyrie brushes him off that she’s better off not thinking about it. 


3) Brief flirtation with one of Zeus’ fair maidens. 


4) Gorr uses the loss of Valkyrie’s sisterhood as proof that the gods do not listen for cries for help (not as directly related; however, in light of the conversation with Korg, we’re drawn back to the idea of her lost love.)


Thor: Love and Thunder shows a fair representation of LGBTQ+ characters organically. There’s not much to draw a conclusion of bisexuality. The only reference to male appreciation is when Zeus strips a chained Thor, and viewers get a flash of golden buns. I mean, who wouldn’t appreciate!


If Marvel is thinking about an origin film for Valkyrie, I’m down for it. If it’s just going to focus on the love she’s already lost, please don’t. It kinda feels like finally get a Black Widow film, well, after the events of Endgame. 

Until next time, 

Louisa Bacio

The teens and I, Thursday night showing of Thor: Love and Thunder.




Monday, July 4, 2022

A Wicked Paranormal Romance by Luna Joya

Wicked Crown (Wicked Book 1)

By Luna Joya

When a blood vow comes due, a supermodel/goblin princess must team up with a bad boy witch to collect seven cursed jewels and stop a supernatural killer from destroying the world in DISCOVERY OF WITCHES meets SUICIDE SQUAD.


She’s not who—or what—she appears to be. Neither is he.


Supermodel Vori would be happy to stay in the human world, blissfully ignoring her true nature. But no. The blood vow she once made requires her to return to the Goblin Court. And since going alone would mean consenting to an arranged marriage, she needs a fake husband. Someone no one would miss if there was an unfortunate…accident. Vori knows the perfect man for the job.


Witch Perry used to be a hotshot lawyer. But that was before he made all the wrong choices, wound up in league with a demon, and was left to rot in prison. Now, he has a second chance. He can finally earn his redemption. Too bad his last hope is the woman he ghosted two years ago.


It’s not long before Vori and Perry realize they aren’t as different as they thought—and that the line between enemies and lovers can be razor thin. But if they want their happily ever after, they’ll first have to stop a supernatural killer and survive a royal smackdown. Should be easy for a goblin princess and her dashing antihero, right?


If only.

Available via Amazon


Fake marriage/Fake fiancé


Bad boy/Villain/Antihero

One bed (because I can’t help myself)

Second Chance with a dash of enemies to lovers snark

Beauty and the Beast (But she’s both. Or maybe he is.)


“Hello, Perry.” 


He opened his eyes, sure he’d imagined her. But no. She walked out of the shadows, tall, ethereal, and pissed off judging by the glare.

She was here. 

He stood too fast. His head spun like a demon-summing circle. “Vori?”

“You’re a hard man to find. You took off on me two years ago without a word. I understand you’ve been preoccupied—joining a demon-led cult, almost killing witch Senate heirs, prison, jailbreak, being locked up again. You could’ve just said you weren’t interested.” 

“I shouldn’t have left you that night.” The truth he’d waited so long to tell her rushed out.

“But you did.” She twisted her mouth into a mockery of the supermodel smile that flashed from magazine covers. “How was your time in witch jail? Not so good, it seems.”

“I…” He couldn’t admit it. Not to her. Not the horrible crimes he’d committed. The witch world would never forgive him. Hell, he didn’t blame them.

“I know what you’ve done.” Her condemning tone made it sound like he was being sentenced for his crimes. 

“Then why are you here? How?” Maybe that was the better question. “I didn’t hear you come in. Not your footsteps outside. Not the door opening. Not your breathing. Nothing.” He inhaled. “Wildflowers and rain.” The same scent he remembered from when they’d met, the scent he’d had to lean close to breathe in over the smoke and booze and sweat of the nightclub. “I couldn’t smell your perfume a minute ago. How’d you get in?”

“Getting in is the easy part. It’s the getting out that seems to be difficult for you. I let you out once, and here you are locked up again.” She sounded as if his being recaptured was an inconvenience.

“Why did you help me?”

“Were you faking the speechless act at the prison? So I wouldn’t know who you were?”

“No.” Although he should have. Running into a love interest while not looking your best was one thing but seeing a crush while imprisoned took it to a whole other level.

She lifted her chin. He’d seen her strike that pose on a fashion runway. “The night we met, you told me you’re a survivor above all else. Were you lying?”

“I never lied to you.” He hadn’t.

“You didn’t die in the demon’s Revelare, and you made it through whatever torture the witch Senate dished out. So I’m assuming you possess some self-preservation skills even if you were a witch out on Halloween.” She huffed a disapproving noise. “Not a wise choice.”

No, it hadn’t been, but not for the reasons she might think. He’d been tricked into going to the club for information about his sister Lili’s murder. How could he have known the woman who’d walked into the club looking exactly like his dead sister was a demon-summoned succubus wearing her skin? He’d followed the creature out of the club and into the ranks of the Revelare. 

Vori flicked an Arctic gaze over him, one so unlike the looks she’d given him that first night. “I have a proposition for you.”

“Yes?” Despite the way she wielded her proposition like a death sentence, the promises and possibilities of that word had the electricity under his skin jumping toward her. He slammed what little of a lockdown he could on his powers, but not before sparks danced across his fingertips. 

She gestured toward the magic as if it hadn’t surprised her. Or scared her. “We can deal with that as well.”

“Stolen magic that’s devouring me from the inside out isn’t something you deal with. It’ll kill me if the Senate or Revelare can’t finish me off first.” 

“Don’t be so dramatic, Sparky.” She laughed. Not a polished giggle. No, this was more of a snort. It should’ve been annoying, off-putting, anything but attractive. Why did everything about her have to be so sexy? “I’ll figure out a fix for your demon powers.”

“Male witches don’t have active powers.” He recited the universal truth.

“Yes, I know the rule. Everyone knows the rule. But here you are with powers. That magic should’ve killed you when the demon put it inside you. Or scorched through you the first time you invoked it. Yet, you live. I’m counting on your ability to survive. Or that you’re so very expendable if something unfortunate were to happen.”

Her last words had all his internal alarms screaming danger, danger, but he couldn’t seem to worry when she was here. With him. Again. “What do you need?”

“I need you for a job. A five-day, make it out alive and you walk away with your freedom gig.”

“Doing what?”

“I need a husband. You in?”

About Luna Joya

Award-winning author Luna Joya writes steamy witch romances with mysteries, strong heroines, and the heroes who love them.


Fluent in sarcasm and penal code, Luna prosecutes crimes by day and writes at night. A survivor of traumatic brain injury with steel body parts, she lives in SoCal with her combat veteran husband and their two-pound terror of a rescue pup.