Today I am so pleased to welcome Tal Bauer to Joyfully Jay. Tal has come to talk to us about her latest release, A Time to Rise (Book 1 in the Apocalypse of the Angels series). Please join me in giving her a big welcome!

Why I Love My Three-Star Review

I know. I’m sure you’re thinking this is going to be sarcastic. Or that I am crazy. Don’t I know about Amazon algorithms? Shouldn’t I be shooting for five-star reviews?

Of course; I love the rave reviews. A Time to Rise has already received several, and I am over the moon about them. I’m delighted that people are enjoying my new novel.

But it’s my first three-star review that I like the most so far.

It’s completely honest. It speaks to the reader’s personal preferences. It says what worked for her as a reader, and what she could have used less of. Yeah, I’m sure you’re saying. Duh. That’s called a review.

I call it a wonderful look into the heart and mind of one of my readers, and a true gift. A learning experience. Amazing feedback.

If you haven’t read my other book, Enemies of the State, you might not know that I’m a slightly different kind of MM writer. I’m actually not trying to write a “traditional” romance. I’m straddling a sometimes somewhat-blurry line between gay fiction and romance. I told one of my readers that I struggled to find deep, authentic LGBT* leads in the thrillers, mysteries, adventures, and mysteries that I was reading, and so I decided to write my own.

I want to tell all sorts of stories – action, adventure, intrigue, thriller, mystery, fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, etc., with gay and trans leads. (Trans stories coming soon!) I want to bring romance and romantic tension into these stories, too. Some people say that isn’t a pure romance, and that’s not what they’re looking for. Others want to read stories with genre plots, or with an additional tension above the romantic tension. (Not that romantic tension and romance stories are tension-less by any stretch!)

So, that’s what you’ll (hopefully!) get with my stories. Something else in addition to the romance.

In A Time to Rise, the “something else” comes in the form of a paranormal-horror-conspiracy theory story. Set in the Vatican in the present-day, our main character, Sergeant Alain Autenburg, serves in the Pontifical Swiss Guard, and leads a double life as a hunter, a member of a secret brotherhood within the Vatican, committed to fighting evils and the dark forces of the world. His life is a lonely one, isolated and separate from the rest of humanity, until a new recruit to the Swiss Guard – Cris Haase – is thrust into his path.

Alain – practiced in his isolation and determined to be a loner – rejects his slowly-softening heart and his burgeoning attraction to Cris. Cris – frustrated with the trajectory of his life, standoffish, and ready to run – find himself drawn toward Alain… the only man who has had the patience to put up with him and his sullen attitude.

The two stumble and fumble through a push-pull attraction. Alain vowed to never love again after his first lover was ripped from him. If Cris didn’t have bad luck – and people giving him the shaft – he’d have no luck at all. They want more, but can’t manage to get over their own internal hesitations and frustrations to figure out what to do next.

And Alain is lying to Cris every day, keeping the secret of his double life far, far away from whatever-they-have-together.

Until everything falls apart in a catastrophic vampire hunt, one that is eerily similar to the same vampire hunt that stole Alain’s lover from him, years ago. Will he give in to his heart’s desire and reach out for Cris? Will he let himself love and be loved, when he thought he never would?

Will Alain risk everything – his life and his heart – when the vampires rise again?

So there’s the story.

Only you will know if this works for you. Only you know what you want most out of your reading. I hope you would enjoy it! But, I know it’s not for everyone.

Here is an excerpt of what the reviewer had to say:

Bauer writes really well. I’ll say that for sure. It was smooth and gripping. A little over-descriptive at times, but never a dull moment. But with SO much emphasis on the paranormal instead of the relationship, I felt jipped. Additionally, this was paranormal on steroids. The blood, gore, and injuries were A LOT in this book. Not for the faint of heart at all.

We get a big mystery with a few side plot mysteries in this one too. Which also kept me on the edge of my seat guessing. So it was definitely a STRONG book. I just don’t know if I enjoyed it or not. Still. After thinking on it for 24 hours.

For those who are wondering, there was only ONE smexy scene in the whole book. Sigh. Frowns.

Overall, this was a strong story with gripping plot lines. The world building was amazing, and I flew through the book. But the romance is really pushed to the back burner. If you don’t mind a strong paranormal story with minimal romance, then I’d recommend.*

She’s right – it’s not a traditional romance. She’s right again – there’s only one explicit sex scene (but quite a lot of build up!)… and there are several erotic dreams.

Other readers have said that the book was very deeply romantic for them, and that the paranormal and the romantic plots were interwoven to their very-happy satisfaction. Only you will know what you want in your reading.

Another thing to note. Based on this review, and a few other comments with some ARC readers, I slid the story over into the horror category as well as the paranormal category. These are not your cuddly vampires. I reach back to the horror genre and vampire mythos with this novel. Additionally, Alain, Cris, and others are warriors against the darkness, and my goal was to write them as such.

Only you will know what you want to read, and what you will enjoy reading. I hope that you give it a chance, and that you’ll enjoy the story. At the end of the day, I want all readers to be happy with what they’re reading. If this isn’t it for you, I understand! 🙂

Hopefully this can help readers go into my story (stories!) with eyes wide open.

Thank you for reading!

* Review from Renee at GBR


A Time to RiseHistory says the Knights Templar were destroyed in 1307.

History is wrong.

Vampires haunt the sewers beneath Rome, revenants desecrate graveyards, ghouls devour helpless passersby, and incubi stalk dark alleys and seedy nightclubs in Italy’s capital. Deep in the Vatican, a brotherhood exists, sworn protectors of the earth, and they stand firm against monsters from the dark depths. Operating in secret and silence, they protect our world from the sinister, the etheric, and from the evils that exist beyond the Veil.

But it’s a lonely life, and Alain Autenberg knows that more than most. His lover was ripped from him years ago and he vowed never to get close to another soul again. Even when the loneliness presses down on him, and his empty heart cries out for something more.

Something more comes in Cristoph Hasse, a new soldier arriving in Rome to serve in the Pontifical Swiss Guard. Young, brash, and fitting in a right angles everywhere he goes, Cris struggles in the murky, deceptive labyrinth of the Vatican. Propelled forward by a past he can’t understand, Cris collides with Alain, and both men crash headfirst into the darkest secret of the Vatican… and of the world.


Tal Bauer writes LGBT fiction and romance, bringing together a career in law enforcement, trauma medicine, and international humanitarian and disaster relief work to create dynamic, strong characters, intriguing plots, and unique, exotic locations. Tal’s stories weave together pulse-pounding adventure, cunning intrigue, and sweeping romance. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.

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