Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Tarnished by Erica Chilson Blog Tour

Royce Kennedy believes he has the town of Rusty Knob and its citizens in the palm of his hand. For altruistic reasons, of course. A real man takes care of his land and the people on it, whether they want to accept the help or not.

After fostering an orphan, adopting underprivileged kids, creating businesses to bring jobs back to the area, donating his time, energy, and money by founding the Community Growth: Life Skills Center, people are beginning to wonder if the man is running a campaign to earn the status of a saint.

Royce’s family is getting frustrated by idly watching their patriarch spread himself too thin, because he won’t allow them to shoulder his burdens or their own. Drastic measures are taken before the man can see reason. When the dust finally settles, Royce realizes he’s been taking care of everyone but himself.

But there’s a problem with sorting out your issues, with the clarity of mind, you can’t hide from the good, bad, and downright filthy secrets buried in the depths of your past.

With dark, violent, depraved skeletons, Rusty Knob’s patriarch isn’t as pure of soul as he appears to be. Will he finally surrender and accept the help to buff the tarnish away?

Just because it’s the moral thing to do, doesn’t mean it’s the right thing for you.

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Book 2
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Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

“Our very own Wynn Gillette has prepared a speech for us today. Rusty Knob’s valedictorian, 2015 Basketball State Champion, and recipient of a basketball scholarship to West Virginia University.” Miriam gestures to the podium, and then takes a seat on stage.

“My God, Wynn’s glowing like a supernova.” Mesmerized, Kade’s pupils are blown. “I will not be held accountable for my actions after graduation.”

Striding across the stage like he owns the place, Wynn turns on a dime to face the auditorium with a huge grin stretching across his face. He clears his throat twice, lifts his index cards, and memorizes a few lines. His lips twist into an expression I’ve never seen grace my son’s face before. A warped mix of excitement and fury, tarnishing what should have been a proud moment.

“I prepared a speech for today,” Wynn begins in a defiant tone. “It was going to be poignant, proving how eloquent of a speaker I am after growing up in the hollers. I was going to hit on how isolation breeds ignorance, not a lack of intelligence. I was going to put a voice to my struggles, being the youngest of poor white, abusive, drunk trash. How I was adopted at seventeen. How through all of that, I maintained a high GPA and led our basketball team to victory.”

Wynn raises the cards in his hands, and tears them down the center while wearing a rebellious smirk– the microphone picks up the audible ripping sound, causing it to echo around the auditorium. Speech fluttering to the ground, he releases all of the pent-up rage he’s held on to for far too long.

Hands gripping the edge of the podium, Wynn leans into the microphone with eyes blazing fury. “I agree with Francis Parker. Fuck you, Rusty Knob!” Slowly enunciating, words quiet, they hit their intended targets like ammunition fired from a gun. “Fuck! You!”

Deafening silence rings throughout the auditorium, and I have no idea where Wynn is leading with this, and no one else does either. I crank my head around wildly, trying to gauge the reaction from the crowd.

“Rusty Knob?” Wynn cups a hand to his ear. “Can you hear me now? You’ve been mighty deaf lately. For the past seven months, I’ve either been called a faggot or patted on the back for being courageous. Both reactions were insulting– both insinuating something is wrong with me. Whether we’re at fault or not, it doesn’t change the fact that this school fired my boyfriend because we’re gay. So fuck you!”

Kade leans forward, releasing a noise I hope to never hear again. I yank the idiot back by the collar before he crawls on stage.

“But I owe you a thank you,” Wynn circles back, finally having our undivided attention. “Thank you for the education, for allowing me to make the most of it. I hope your eyes and ears are now open to the sources of education all around you. I’m no longer ignorant, so thank you.”

Wynn reclaims his seat while whispers roll through the auditorium, all versions of ‘what the fuck was that?’ Miriam has everything under control. Whatever speeches and events planned for the ceremony are cut in the wake of the chaos weaving its way through the auditorium.

Miriam walks to the farthest part of the stage near the steps. One of her helper monkeys on the school board hands her rolled up fake diplomas from a woven basket. Child after child crosses the stage, exiting down the stairs to join their family members as a high school graduate– an adult.


Once again, in the interest of full disclosure I will begin my review of Tarnished by letting you know that I was one of the beta readers for this book. Yes, despite the fact that I got so sucked into Rusty Knob that I missed errors (I know this because of comparing notes with the betas), Ms. Chilson graciously allowed me to take part in the beta read for Tarnished. Needless to say, I was beside myself with glee because upon finishing Wynn’s story, I was dying to learn Royce’s. Again, I got sucked into the story so fully that despite reading it twice, I’m sure that I missed errors that the other betas caught. But let me tell you folks, I blame Ms. Chilson for writing a tale that is so engaging that I forgot my duty and immersed myself once again in the town of Rusty Knob.

A few things you need to know about Tarnished. Unlike Rusty Knob and the remaining books of the series, it is an M/F romance. Before the strictly M/M readers ick out and bail ship, you should know that first and foremost, Tarnished is a romantic suspense novel. This means the focus is on the secrets from Royce’s past and the suspense that accompanies their revelations. Yes, there is a romantic element and there are sex scenes – and they are seriously hot – but you can skim past them if you’re a strict M/M reader because this is NOT a book to be missed. While Royce’s romantic parts are M/F, the LGBTQ theme is continued in this installment as we get to see Wynn and Kade’s relationship continue to develop as well as learn of what they have endured since their “coming out” to the town’s residents. And let me tell you that Wynn’s valedictorian speech is not to be missed, but make sure you have your tissues handy when you hit the graduation scene because I bawled both times. The author also gives us more insight into Bren as she lays the foundation for his book in such a way that I was left with my mouth hanging open. Literally. Thank goodness there were no flies around.

Next, Royce’s story is a darker read than Wynn’s. If you picked up on Royce’s reactions and statements in book one, you would expect it to be so this shouldn’t be a surprise. It was clear in Rusty Knob that Royce loves his sons fully whether they are his by blood, adoption, or foster care and their sexuality is not an issue for him nor does it diminish his love for them whatsoever. This point is made even clearer in Tarnished even as the author reveals the events from Royce’s past that could have easily made him feel differently. To be clear, while this book certainly has darker tones to it, the author reveals the incidents via memories and therapy sessions in such a way that the reader knows what happened without having to relive every horrific detail with Royce. So while I know what happened to Royce and how it has affected him, Ms. Chilson didn’t subject me to graphic and grisly details of his past simply to shock me as the reader – which considering the tone set by Wynn’s story – would have been a serious case of whiplash.

And speaking of Wynn, Tarnished reveals that there is so much more going on in the lives of the people of Rusty Knob than Wynn knew. In blog and Facebook posts, Chilson has reiterated time and time again that books written in the first person (her style of writing) are meant to suffer from the faulty narrator, meaning that you can only know what the narrator knows. Despite having read almost every book she’s published, I never appreciated this concept as fully as I did once I finished reading Tarnished. If you read my review of Rusty Knob you know that I despised, hated, loathed, and detested Wynn’s parents. Yet by the end of Tarnished I had not only changed my opinion of Wynn’s father, but I actually cried for Corbin. Granted, Wynn was 16 year-old kid who couldn’t possibly know everything about the adults in his life, but as memories are revisited and facts are unveiled, we learn that there was more going on in Rusty Knob than even Royce knew and my entire viewpoint of Corbin Gillette has changed, which makes me rabid for more of the series to find out who else has me and the narrators fooled. Willa definitely fell into this category as well because there was so much more going on in her life that Wynn wasn’t privy to and rightly shouldn’t have been in the know about.

The hardest part about writing my review for Tarnished is not spilling the beans because there are a LOT of secrets revealed in this installment. I found myself shocked, dismayed, angered, flabbergasted, relieved, devastated, and over-the-moon happy as I read this book. I laughed, I cried, I squirmed, I groaned, and I fell in love once again with the characters as well as the author’s writing. I’ve said it before and I’m sure I will say it again, Ms. Chilson writes the first person point of view beautifully and her skill improves with each book she writes. I don’t feel as though I’m being told a story, but rather that I am living the character’s life in that moment. Tarnished was no exception as I got to experience Royce’s fear, hate, happiness, passion, and love as it occurred. This is yet another of the author’s books to be added to my reread shelf and I’m looking forward to reading Rusty Knob and Tarnished back-to-back and can only hope that the West Virginia muse comes a-knockin’ on the author’s door sooner rather than later so I can get my hands on the next book in the series, Stainless.

Also Available in the Rusty Knob Series

Book 1
Buy Links

Amazon US  ~  Amazon UK  ~  Amazon Au  ~  Amazon Ca

Erica Chilson does not write in the 3rd person, wanting her readers to be her characters. Therefore, writing a bio about herself, is uncomfortable in the extreme.

Born, raised, and here to stay, the Wicked Writer is a stump-jumper, a ridge-runner. Hailing from North Central Pennsylvania, directly on the New York State border; she loves the changes in seasons, the humid air, all the mountainous forest, and the gloomy atmosphere.

Introverted, but not socially awkward, Erica prides herself on thinking first and filtering her speech. There are days she doesn’t speak at all. If it wasn’t for the fact that she lives with her parents, giving her a sense of reality, she would be a hermit, where the delivery man finds her months after expiration.

Reading was an escape, a way to leave a not-so pleasant reality behind. Reading lent Erica the courage she gathered from the characters between the pages to long for a different life. Writing was an instrument of change, evolving Erica into the woman she is today- a better, more mature, more at peace thinker.

Erica has a wicked mind, one she pours out into her creations. Her filter doesn’t allow all of it to erupt, much to her relief. Sarcastic, with a very dark, perverse sense of humor, Erica puts a bit of herself into every character she writes.

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I was provided a free copy of Tarnished (Rusty Knob #2) by Erica Chilson to read and review.


  1. (((hugs))) Spank you! Spank you! Spank you!

    Thanks for the awesome reviews, all the hard work on the tour, the amazing teasers, and for being the best dang beta on the planet.