Friday, October 3, 2014

Project X Blog Tour

Morgan Bentley is a bastard. Always was and always will be.

At least that’s what Matthew Hopkins thinks. Unfortunately, Morgan is also a brilliant law student, and easily eclipses Matthew, academically and socially.

Matthew insists he hates Morgan. According to Matthew’s best friend, Cory, perhaps he doth protest a bit too much.

Cory has received the chance of a lifetime in the form of an internship with ITM—Information Technology and Medicine—the prestigious research company where Morgan’s father is the CEO. Too inquisitive for his own good, the naturally curious Cory stumbles on a deadly secret inside of ITM. What he has learned will tip the balance of everything, but for good or bad?

Just what is the mysterious Project X?

What is Morgan’s involvement?

Matthew has to sort fact from fiction, friend from foe, as his world is turned upside down and inside out, and nothing can be the way it was.

Buy Links
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A chat with the Project X characters

Question: So tell me, Matthew. You didn’t have the best impression of

Morgan at first. What…led you to that?

Matthew: (gives a nervous glance to Morgan, who shrugs) Um. Well. The first time we met was when me and Cory were visiting the university for the first time. To be honest I didn’t really want to go there. I thought the place would be full of snobs. Then I see Morgan with these three nobs, complaining about the gravel ruining their designer shoes, and I thought they were pretty much the worst people I could hope to meet.

Cory: It didn’t help that Morgan had this gorgeous, shiny, sports car, and parked it next to our piece of crap.

Matthew: Hey, don’t talk about Ellie like that.

Question: Ellie?

Matthew: That’s what we called the car.

Question: Why Ellie?

Cory: Because it looked like a herd of elephants had gone over it.

(Morgan sniggers)

Matthew: It’s alright for you! We saved up for almost a year to afford that car. It was our most prized possession, and the way you looked at it on that day made me want to smash your face in.

Morgan: Glad you didn’t try. I would hate to have scuffed my shoes.

Matthew: See? That’s one of the reasons I thought he was a complete bastard.

Question: Because of his shoes?

Matthew: No, because he’s a sarcastic son of a bitch.

Morgan: Guilty as charged.

Question: What about you, Cory? What did you think about Morgan?

Cory: (looks uncomfortable) I kind of knew from the very first day that he liked Matthew. There was just something in the look he gave him. Then I watched them. Matthew kept saying what a bastard Morgan was, but he kind of lit up whenever Morgan was in the room. He said he hated the way everyone ran around Morgan, and he would never do it himself, but he never took his eyes off him. By the middle of the first year I knew they were falling for each other bad.

Matthew: Now, hang on a minute. I SO did not fall for Morgan in the first year. It wasn’t until he started acting like kind of a human being I started having feelings for him.

Morgan: And I certainly wasn’t falling for Matthew. I wanted him, but I wasn’t falling for him. Until then, I got whoever I wanted. I was looking for someone with some brains in their head, and a real personality. And yes, I wanted someone who would piss my father off, but I wasn’t falling for him.

Cory: They were crazy about each other by the end of the first year.

Morgan and Matthew That’s not true.

Cory: Whatever.

Question: How did you feel about that, Cory?

Cory: (flashes a quick, sad glance at Matthew) Terrible. The worst thing was I knew I couldn’t stop it. Matthew was always so sure he wasn’t gay. He told me that if he ever thought he might be, or was just…curious, he’d come to me first. (Flashes another look) It isn’t that I was pissed he didn’t come to me first, it was just…. I’ve had a crush on Matthew since I was about eight years old. It was okay when I thought he was straight. I couldn’t have him. End of. It wasn’t about me. Then, when I saw him start to fall for Morgan, and he was so blind about, I started to wonder. Maybe, if he was gay, I’d have a chance. If he was looking at Morgan like that I might be able to make him look at me like that.

Question: Did you do anything about it? Anything to try to make Matthew look at me like that?

Cory: (shakes his head) No

Question: Why not?

Cory: It was already too late. He was already in love with Morgan. He didn’t have eyes for anyone else.

Matthew: I was not in love with Morgan. I was never in love with Morgan.

Morgan: Really? It kind of felt like that to me by the end. I mean…you did say it.

Matthew: (blushes) That was different. Of course I was in love with you by the end. We’d been through so much.

Morgan: Yeah.

Question: Do you want to tell us a bit about what happened?

Matthew and Morgan: No

Question: Is it too hard to talk about.

Morgan: Well, it’s not easy, but the main reason is that if we talk about it and give away too much of the plot and no one will read our book.

Question: Ah yes, the book. Project X. What do you have to say about that?

Matthew: I think it’s pretty good. It tells the story well, but if you ask me, it shows Morgan in too good a light, especially at the beginning. It just doesn’t show what a compete and utter bastard he was.

Morgan: I beg to differ. The very first like is ‘Morgan Bentley is a bastard’ You can’t really get clearer than that. Besides, I never was that much of a bastard. Not really. I had my own issues. And I did try to be friendly.

Matthew: That’s your interpretation of ‘friendly’ is it?

Morgan: (with the sexiest smirk ever) What can I say. I guess I am a bit of a sarcastic bastard, but I’m a very sexy one.

Matthew: I can’t argue with that, and to be fair, I never said you weren’t sexy.

Morgan: True.

Question: So, back to the book.

Morgan: Sure, but just so we don’t give away too much, let’s just leave it to the general promo huh? If you want to get to know us better, and hear our crazy story, you’ll just have to read the book. It’s worth it, I promise, if only to find out how devastatingly gorgeous I am.

Matthew: And I can’t even argue about that.

Trix's Review:
3.25 stars

There is so much going on here--m/m romance, sci-fi epic, medical thriller, family drama, Christmas tale--that I don't really know where to begin. Many times, I felt that the story would have flowed better if it were much longer or much shorter. Most of the first third is devoted to Matthew's hatred of Morgan, which gets repetitive quickly. (A "Morgan Bentley Is A Bastard" drinking game would send readers to the hospital before the 40% mark.) For the most part, the admittedly annoying Morgan doesn't seem as bad as most high school "mean girls," but Matthew is so vitriolic towards him that I could immediately tell that true love (or at least spirited hate sex) was on the horizon. Matthew's eventual realization of his true feelings seems a little bit sudden, though it does propel the story along. I think a third-person narration might have helped, since Matthew's narrow focus seemed limiting.

The variable here is Cory, Matthew's long-suffering best friend. He has a rather thankless role here, the sidekick nursing an unrequited crush on his buddy whoends up having to help the very man he resents. While Cory is described as awkward and has his milquetoasty moments in the beginning, there is some intriguing ambiguity in his character. He can't resist hacking into the ITM mainframes, and his flashes of jealousy make him seem more realistic than some of the other characters. I would have loved more development of his story, and would read a book devoted to his character.

The second half shifts into thriller territory as Project X makes its presence known. While the explanations for the project's existence are glossed over, its effects are explained very thoroughly and convincingly. The story gets complicated quickly, as Cory and his professor work to counteract Project X and Morgan's father establishes his own evil presence. While the outcome is in doubt until the very end, I often wished for better exposition. Haltingly phrased emotional moments alternate with many lengthy speeches in which characters explain their motivations (I call it Bond Villain Syndrome). I usually welcome lighter tales, so I was surprised to find myself thinking that this would have worked better for me without the romance. The transitions between the darkness and the more tender moments didn't resonate fully with me, though I think it's because so much is shoehorned into one story.

In spite of these issues, PROJECT X did hold my attention all the way through. I usually would not be eager to read such a dark story (let alone think it should be darker), which in its way is a tribute to Nephylim's storytelling. Often, my frustration was kind of a compliment: the author kept bringing up intriguing story threads that kept getting tamped down due to lack of time. (The law school moot court sounded fascinating, for example, and I would have liked to see that play out.) I will keep an eye out for her future work, especially if it resolves Cory's character arc!

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About the Author:
Nephylim was born into a poor mining family in the South Wales Valleys. Until she was 16, the toilet was at the bottom of the garden and the bath hung on the wall. Her refrigerator was a stone slab in the pantry and there was a black lead fireplace in the kitchen. They look lovely in a museum but aren’t so much fun to clean.

Nephylim has always been a storyteller. As a child, she’d make up stories for her nieces, nephews and cousin and they’d explore the imaginary worlds she created, in play.

Later in life, Nephylim became the storyteller for a re enactment group who travelled widely, giving a taste of life in the Iron Age. As well as having an opportunity to run around hitting people with a sword, she had an opportunity to tell stories of all kinds, sometimes of her own making, to all kinds of people. The criticism was sometimes harsh, especially from the children, but the reward enormous.

It was here she began to appreciate the power of stories and the primal need to hear them. In ancient times, the wandering bard was the only source of news, and the storyteller the heart of the village, keeping the lore and the magic alive. Although much of the magic has been lost, the stories still provide a link to the part of us that still wants to believe that it’s still there, somewhere.

In present times, Nephylim lives in a terraced house in the valleys with her son and her two cats. Her daughter has deserted her for the big city, but they’re still close. The part of her that needs to earn money is a lawyer, but the deepest, and most important part of her is a storyteller and artist, and always will be.

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