Release Blitz: “Apple Boy” by Isobel Starling

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1)

Author: Isobel Starling

Publisher: Decent Fellows Press

Cover Artist: Valentine Pascadian (Lennel)

Genre/s: Fantasy, M/M Romance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length:103 600 words/ 556 pages

Release Date: February 15, 2019

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Blurb

After a traumatic event, Winter Aeling finds himself destitute and penniless in the backwater town of Mallowick. He needs to travel to the city of Serein and impart grave news that will bring war to the Empire, but without a horse, money, and with not a soul willing to help him, he has no choice but to line up with the common folk seeking paid work on the harvest.

As wagons roll into the market square and farmers choose day laborers, Winter is singled out for abuse by a brute of a farmer. The only man who stands up for him is the farmer’s beguiling son, Adam, and on locking eyes with the swarthy young man Winter feels the immediate spark of attraction.

Winter soon realizes there is a reason he has been drawn to Blackdown Farm. The farmer possesses a precious item that was stolen long ago from Winter’s family, and he determines to retrieve it. He also cannot take his eyes off the farmer’s son, and as the young man opens up Winter can’t help wondering if Adam is just kind or his kind!

Excerpt

“Apple Boy” by Isobel Starling

CHAPTER 1

MARKET SQUARE

“You boy, aye, YOU. Ain’t never seen ye round ‘ere before,” The farmer directed his bellow at me.

It was sunrise, and at last, I’d found the courage to step out of my hiding place and join the common laborers who gathered in Mallowick market square. We were waiting for the farmers’ carts to come by and choose their day workers. I’d watched this ritual each morning for the past three days, peeking out from shadowed doorways, or while crouching behind barrels.

It was harvest time, and it appeared to be routine for peasants to walk from the surrounding hamlets before dawn and assemble in the square to seek work on the farms. There was wheat, barley, root vegetables, and tree fruits to be gathered before the weather turned. I was informed by a ruddy looking fellow in the tavern that anyone could get work on the harvest, and so, with my pride cut to ribbons and my pockets empty, I’d stepped out of the safety of my hiding place and joined the commoners.

“Does ye wants work or no’? Look at me when I’m talkin’ to ye. What’s yer name?” The burley farmer roared. I looked up, stunned to be singled out from among all of these strapping men and hardy looking women, for I felt invisible. Four carts had already passed and taken their pick of the young, strong peasants, but none of those farmers gave me a second glance. I should have known something was afoot, for when this particular wagon turned up the women in the square shrank back into doorways, and men sidled away to lean against buildings. On the side of the wagon, writ-large in bold off-white letters were the words BLACKDOWN FARM. There were around thirty of us left on view, like cattle.

I had never partaken in manual labor or any kind of work before. I was a gentleman and far more familiar with spending my days relaxing, reading, attending social events in the city, or taking a horse for a gallop in the country. But my life had changed since I’d become stranded here in the Pasturelands provincial town of Mallowick two weeks earlier. Now I was living on my wits. Each day was a fight for my life, and I’d sold all of my fine belongings, intending to pay for passage on the stagecoach from Mallowick to the city of Serein. But I had not thought things through, and it did not happen that way. My body’s needs took precedent. I’d become so ravenous, and therefore the meager coin I’d gathered from selling my finery was spent on what I could afford—basic rough barley bread and ale, just enough to stave off the gnawing pangs of hunger in my belly each day. Now, I had no belongings, and the money was all but gone. I was no thief, and the only thing I had left to sell was my body. Looking like a wretch, I did not believe I could earn even a copper that way! Before I left on my travels, I was warned that the province of Erias had strict rules about men bedding other men and I did not want to tempt fate. I was at a loss—hard labor or starvation were the only choices available to me. Gods, if my father could see how far I’d fallen in such a short time, he would be thoroughly ashamed. I was living hand-to-mouth, and if I dared to seek out my reflection and observe my disreputable state of dress, I was sure I would see I was no longer a gentleman at all.

I assured myself that all would be well as soon as I could get to the city of Serein. There I would attend my father’s depository and obtain funds from his account—as had been arranged, and then, I could find my way to my uncle’s residence and attend to a much grimmer business.

So, with no other choice, I was here, standing in Mallowick market square with a bunch of rough-looking fellows and ruddy-faced women with just the ragged clothes I stood in to my name. I wondered if my visage had taken on the same gaunt, starved, haunted look some of them wore.

“WELL?” The farmer roared.

“Leave him be Pa; I think he’s a mute. P… p… please don’t—” A swarthy young man urged, stepping to the farmers’ side. The man appeared to be in his early twenties, with broad angular shoulders, slim hips, and wavy jaw-length hair that longingly reminded me of Montestein tea. When the morning sunlight broke through the clouds and caressed him, the strands of his hair revealed all the shades of autumn. It was beautiful. His eyes were bright emerald green, and his skin bore the wind-burned tan of a man who spent his days working the land. I met his gaze for a second that seemed to stop time, and I felt a flutter of longing erupt in my gut. I found myself mesmerized by him. He appeared a little embarrassed, for himself or for me, I wasn’t quite sure. The farmer turned to his son.

“Shut that filthy mouth o’ yours, apple boy!” he spat. His large meaty hands twitched. He sneered and glared at his son in such a wicked way I knew it should have been followed up by a sharp slap. I worried that the young man would endure further public humiliation at the hands of his father, but the farmer moved his disdainful glare back to me. I shuddered with fear. I had a feeling that he was saving his son’s punishment for later—away from the prying eyes of the townsfolk. I did not like that thought, not one bit. I did not know why the farmer was drawn to me, but he sized me up with a sweeping glance of consideration, then wrinkled his nose as if he’d sniffed a revolting stench—I hadn’t bathed in two weeks, so maybe I did smell a tad ripe!

“Is ye a mute?”

I shook my head. I would say, if anything, I was deeply traumatized by the unfortunate circumstance I’d found myself in, but no, I was certainly not a mute. I just wasn’t used to a lowly man speaking to me so roughly. Generally, men who dared to address me knew their betters and behaved appropriately. But here in Mallowick, in the province of Erias, I was no better than a beggar on the street. There was no one I could call on for favors, no one who, on hearing my family name, would loan me coin for the stagecoach or a horse to ride to the city and send word to my father.

When I’d first arrived in Mallowick, telling the truth of my station had gotten me dragged down an alley where my finger and earrings were stolen, and I’d received a beating. This farmer from Blackdown Farm had no idea who I was, and I would not make the same mistake again.

I took a breath and stepped out of line. “Master Irwin Harding, sir. You may call me Win.” I winced at hearing my own soft, well-spoken voice, with my accent, the clipped tongue of Thorn. I had not used my real name and wished I had not used my true voice either. The fact that I was the son of the Duke of Thorn meant nothing here. Thorn was west of Erias, on the other side of the Silua Montis Mountain range, and I doubted any of these illiterate souls in Mallowick knew anything other than that folklore passed around by storytellers.

The farmer stepped to stand in front of me. He was a big, bulky bastard of a man and stank of stale sweat and baccy. He had a grizzled podgy face and thick dark hair shot with strands of silver pulled into an untidy tail. The tension grew between us, and I worried I’d spoken out of turn. I looked down and watched my bare, filthy feet as if they held endless fascination. I’d seen men like him before. He had hands like shovels, and I’m sure they’d done damage in their time. My father would have used a man like him well, probably as muscle to intimidate the city folk while the Royal Chancellor did the rounds collecting taxes.

Afraid and sweating with anxiety, I glanced up and away, unable to look at the farmer directly and meet his fierce piggy eyes. Instead, I looked left and caught the eye of his son. I felt another flutter of attraction. I was grateful for it because it dampened my fear a little. The glance the farmers’ son sent me back was sheepish, apologetic. He shrugged and put a finger to his lips, signaling for me to hush. I’m sure now he knew what was coming.

Master, is it?” The farmer gave a raspy malevolent chuckle. “Well, well, well aren’t ye an uppity little scrote. Such a pretty voice an’ all. Have your balls dropped yet, lad?”

The townsmen men standing around me shuffled on their feet and snickered uncomfortably. I could tell from the tentative laughter they were afraid of this man too. My chest tightened with fury, and I felt the flare of heat rush to color my cheeks. If in Thorn I would have put this fellow in his place, but as directed by the farmers’ handsome son, I held my tongue.

I dared to look up as the farmer scratched his grizzled chin and consider me. It was then I saw it. A chill iced my bones. On his chubby right index finger, he wore a gold ring set with a large red gemstone that I was aghast to see held the intaglio engraving of a rose thorn—my family’s seal. How had this disgusting Pasturelands farmer come upon my family’s ring? Anger curdled my gut, but I forced myself to focus and fixed my features so as not to alert the man to what I was looking at. That ring was more precious than I could say. It was not set with any common gemstone, oh no, the setting was Star-fall. The legend was that mortal tools could not cut the rich-red Star-fall stone. The gemstone was shaped by sorcery, and the power that carved into the gem was stored inside it as if the Star-fall was a reservoir for the magic. It was illegal for any other than the Twin Kings of Osia to own Star-fall. The king’s men had scoured the Empire to remove all traces of the priceless gem from common and aristocratic hands and possessing it was a death sentence. Did this ruffian have any idea what he wore?

Not getting a rise from me, the farmer stepped yet closer and found out for himself if my balls had dropped. He reached for my privates and squeezed.

Ahh, ye got some big stones de’re al’right, boy,” he said with a filthy sneer.

“Done any labourin’ before, lad?” My eyes watered. I shook my head and winced as the pressure on my most sensitive parts rose. I wanted to shout and push him away, punch him in that bristly pug face. I’d trained in hand-to-hand combat and swordplay, but that was of little use to me now that I had no sword and was cast as naught but a commoner myself. I stood frozen to the spot with fear, my cock, and balls in the hand of this brutish man. I was sure that clutching my nethers was not the best way to test if I would be a good apple picker.

The farmer let go, stepped back, and looked me over again like he was sizing up a prize pig. I wanted to keel over, hold my sensitive parts and howl, but, with my eyes watering, I kept my back ramrod straight and looked past the farmer, using his son’s regretful, pretty green eyes as my focus.

I appeared to be a boy, but I am nineteen and about to make my majority. I have a tall, willowy frame, and little muscle to show for my near twenty summers. Weeks before, I was clothed in the silken garb of a lordling, but all I wore now were my stinky silk britches and a once-white linen shirt. I’d even had to sell my fine leather boots. My flaxen hair hung loosely to my shoulders and was bedraggled. My mother had always told me my hair shone like a golden halo. I guessed that was no longer the case. I had not seen my reflection in two weeks so I could only imagine how frightful I appeared to onlookers. My circumstance was terrible, but I refused to let it defeat me. I was a son of Thorn, I was a gentleman, damn it, and I was prepared to do whatever it took to do to find my way to my destination and seek justice for all the ill-luck that had befallen me.

“Right, scrote, up on the wagon,” the farmer declared. “We can always do wit a few extra scurrier’s fer the windfalls.”

I had no idea what that actually meant, but strangely relieved to be selected, I nodded subserviently and then, ducking my head to avoid the farmers’ glare, I scurried to the wagon where I surreptitiously gave my aching intimate parts a gentle rub.

I’d heard from a fellow in the tavern that harvesting wheat at Robinswood Farm was backbreaking, as was digging root vegetables at Windy Oakes Farm. He advised that apple picking was easy work and if I could get employment at Weatherby’s or Blackdown Farm, they paid good coin. He said the mistress at Blackdown was particularly well-liked and always gave laborers a bread and cheese luncheon with last season’s cider. I was so hungry that bread and cheese sounded like a banquet. The fellow had neglected to tell me that the farmer was a brute!

The farmers’ son met me by the wagon and offered to help me aboard. For a moment, from the look of consideration in his eyes, I thought he could see past the disheveled state of me to the gentleman I’d once been. But that was ridiculous. The farmers’ son hopped up onto the back of the wagon with dexterous athleticism, and then offered me his hands. I took them without a thought. His warm touch and the strength in those work-roughened fingers twisted my gut into uncomfortable knots. He fixed my gaze as he gripped both of my hands and tugged me up as easily as if he were lifting feather down. He pulled me closed and pressed me to his hard chest.

“Don’t back chat him or it’ll be the worst fer you,” he whispered the warning to my ear. Alarmed, I eased back from him and cautiously met his eye for a split second. In the look he gave me I saw that the warning was well-meant. Bewildered, I nodded in thanks and understanding. I had no idea why this stranger was looking out for me, but the fact he was warmed my heart. I choked back a tear. No one had looked out for me over these past weeks, and I had been so terribly lonely. I’d learned some hard life lessons on this leg of my journey, and I’d come to understand that here my title was irrelevant, and without money I was suddenly invisible; therefore small kindnesses meant more than I could say.

My adventure into the provinces had been made to appease my father for my supposed ‘lack of direction.’ I’d become bored with my easy life in Thorn, and not intending to marry; I’d told my father that in-light of my upcoming twentieth Bloomsday I wanted to tour the Empire. If I were to one-day become Duke of Thorn, I needed to know a little of the politics of each province and so, pleased with my initiative and happy to be rid of me for a while, he’d set me on my way. I’d toured the provinces of Terria, Corvay, and Reuss and then continued to the province of Osia, spending time in the capital city Altea, at the court of the Twin Kings, Kristoff, and Fabian Von Harte. With this journey to Erias, I was to have the full set of provinces under my belt. But fate was not on my side.

On benches affixed to either side of the farmers’ wagon sat fourteen men morosely staring at their bare, filthy feet, not a word of chatter between them. They each owned a small pack of belongings and a wrapped blanket that each had stowed beneath the bench. At this moment they were better-off than me, for I did not even have a blanket to my name. There was space for me and five more, totaling twenty men. The farmer chose from the remaining laborers with less consideration than I had been afforded.

“Right… I’ll take Allin, Jed, Arthur, Bartram, and Matty, that’ll do me fer the week,” he hollered decisively.

The week? I thought I’d promised myself for a hard day’s labor? But then again, I considered the harvesters who were sitting in the wagon, and yes, they appeared to have prepared for an overnight stay. Confused, I sat down as the other laborers were pulled up onto the wagon by their comrades, and then we shuffled along the benches until we were all seated. I noticed the shoulders of the remaining men in the market square sag a little in apparent relief as if some mighty weight had lifted from them. I didn’t understand it. I thought they’d wanted to work?

The farmers’ son clambered over into the front of the wagon. His father climbed on, the man’s bulk shaking the timbers of the rickety wagon as he settled on the bench beside him. The son handed his father the ribbons, which the farmer greedily snatched up, and then with a fearsome bellow of “Geddup” and a thunderous whip crack, the large mottled grey workhorse began its cumbersome trot down the main street and onto the dusty road to Blackdown Farm.

About the Author

Isobel Starling spent most of her twenty-year professional career making art in Ireland. She relocated to the UK and, faced with the dreaded artist’s creative block, Isobel started to write and found she loved writing more than making art.

Isobel is currently working on her nineteenth book.

“As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond#1) narrated by Gary Furlong won the Audiobook Reviewer Award for Romance 2018. It is the first M/M Romance audiobook to win a mainstream audiobook award.

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Release Blitz: “In Case You Missed it” by S. M. James. Rafflecopter Giveaway Included.

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: In Case You Missed It

Author: S. M. James

Publisher: May Books

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA LGBT romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Length: 98 000 words/400 pages

It is a standalone story.

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy.

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret.

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment.

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable.

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?



All books in the #lovehim series are stand alones. The series number is the recommended reading order.

Excerpt

We cross the front of the school, head past the football field, and into the courtyard. It’s eerily quiet, with filtered sunlight and a soft breeze breaching the concrete quad.

Darien heads for a bench that runs along the base of an enormous tree and flops down onto it. I sit next to him and silence settles gently over my shoulders. The courtyard is surrounded by buildings on three sides, and I vaguely remember one of them as the science wing.

“So this is where you’d eat at breaks on a nice day. Cameron and Chels sit there, and some of the others here, and over there.” He points to an opposite bench. “We’d sit right here, of course. Since you’d be in all the nerd classes, we’d be inseparable over break.” He grips the back of the bench and leans into his hands, grinning over at me.

I swing a leg over the back of the bench so I’m facing him. “And you’d be such a shameless flirt, I’d have to find new friends to save you the embarrassment.”

“No point.” He shrugs. “I’d just follow you there too.”

The thing is, I believe him. I don’t know how anyone can be so effortless about how they feel. He doesn’t try to hide it, but he doesn’t push me either, and the fact he can be so unashamedly into me, makes me want to give him more.

But he’ll get over it. And I have to help him.

I lean away from him a little. “So, is there anyone here who’s caught your eye?”

“There’s this one guy …”

His tone makes me arch my eyebrow. “He wouldn’t be me, would he?”

“See? You’re too damn smart.”

I duck my head as I hold back a laugh. “Seriously though. Nothing is going to happen between us, so it’s okay if you find someone else.”

“Yeah, we’re not doing this.”

I frown. “What do you mean?”

“We’ve been over this, like, a thousand times. Jesus, Brooks, I get it. I just want to spend time with you, as friends, and I don’t need you trying to push me onto someone else.”

“Darien …” I reach for his arm and he shrugs me away. “I’m sorry.”

“Good. Now no more mentioning that shit, okay? My memory is fine, I can make my own damn decisions.”

“You’re right.” But how does he make the right decision when I’m keeping a huge part of myself from him? I take a couple of short breaths, the very real possibility of telling him, looming at the front of my thoughts.

“Here.” Darien finally takes off his backpack and unzips it. He’s packed a heap of food, some I haven’t seen before, and he slides away from me on the bench to set it out between us. “Dig in.”

Lunch is delicious, and I try some of everything. Darien talks me through some of the foods his mom made, like zelnik and tulumba, and it’s so damn good, I’d hang out with him just for the food. After a week of barely eating I don’t hold back, but I didn’t bring my enzyme tablets with me, so it’s close to pointless.

Darien takes some more photos after lunch as we explore the school. He fills me in on little bits and pieces about his first two weeks, and we wind up under the bleachers. He dives into his bag again and pulls out two cigarettes.

I give him a flat look. “Fuck no.”

He smirks. “Goodie two shoes.”

“Nope.” I shake my head, trying to think of how I can get him to put those freaking things away. “I just don’t see the point in sucking on something that can fucking kill you.” My words come out way harsher than I mean, but if he starts on one of those things, I’m leaving him here.

His dark eyebrows furrow, and something goes on behind his eyes that I can’t quite make out, but he just shrugs and grinds the smokes into the ground. “Thank the lord. Don’t think I could have stomached it, even for you.”

I relax a little, though I’m not sure I really believe the words.

He steps closer. “You know, there are other things people do under the bleachers …”

It takes me a second to catch up, and my focus automatically drops to his lips. My stomach is a riot as I try not to focus on how good our first kiss was, all those months ago.

Darien smirks and steps back, breaking my runaway thoughts. He pulls a marker from his bag. “We have to mark we were here, otherwise it doesn’t count.”

“That, I can do.” I take the marker from him and uncap it with a click. Reaching above my head, I hesitate a second, trying to figure out what to write. In the end, I go simple.

BL + DM.

“Those letters look good together,” Darien says. His voice is low and warm and reminds me of summer. His fingers slide down mine as he takes the marker from me.

He reaches up and his shirt pulls higher on his back, leaving this smooth strip of brown skin exposed. The pull to touch him is so strong. I need to feel his skin under my fingertips. It’s a physical battle to hold back, and just as I’m about to fold,

To reach,

To touch,

To give in to him, Darien finishes up, and steps back to survey his work. I blink a few times to try and lessen the fog in my head, then turn my focus up.

He’s drawn a heart around our initials.

About the Author

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, SM is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

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Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of the following:

$30 Amazon gift card (AU or US only)

2 x paperbacks (That Feeling When or To Be Honest) (International)

3 x eBooks (That Feeling When or To Be Honest) (International)

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Release Blitz: “Damaged” by Tricia Owens

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Book Title: Damaged

Author: Tricia Owens

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Tricia Owens

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M romance, BDSM

Heat Rating: 5 flames (Graphic scenes of rough sex, BDSM)

Length: 44 000 words

This is a standalone story

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Blurb

After Detective Jack Beckam’s partner is killed during the line of duty, Jack retreats to a small Indian casino in the Colorado mountains to deal with his guilt. There, he encounters the mysteriously hostile casino manager, Taylor Brant.

Jack is on a downward spiral. Unfortunately for him, the strange forest surrounding the casino only increases his desire to do something reckless. Something desperate. Taylor Brant is not only dangerous, he’s damaged. He’s someone Jack should steer clear of. Yet Jack, hurting and needing to pay penance, tumbles into a series of dark, highly charged encounters with Brant which threaten to shatter them both.

Excerpt

Amusement briefly lit Brant’s gray gaze. “You’re an interesting man, Jack. Under other circumstances I’d enjoy feeling you out.”

“I thought you hate cops. Sounds to me like you’re flirting with one.”

He was immediately embarrassed for having said it. Taylor Brant was one of the most attractive men he’d ever seen, much less had dinner with—but Jack recognized the nugget of fear rolling around in his own gut. He was in foreign territory, literally and figuratively. All his experience as a detective, all his street smarts, meant next to nothing when it came to his occasional and unwanted attraction to specific men. It was like a flare-up of a rash—unpredictable, unwelcome, and woefully incurable.

“I’d be reckless, wouldn’t I,” Brant said, “to flirt with a detective?” Brant’s gaze grew intent. “I’m not reckless.”

“Sounds to me like you’re a masochist.”

“Would it take one to know one?”

The restaurant was emptying out. Jack wished it were busier. Louder. He wished that the waiter was intrusive. He could feel himself sweating and felt ridiculous; he was only sitting there eating dinner.

Brant didn’t appear to be all that relaxed, either. The casino manager was tense. Nervous. Jack was too experienced in studying people to miss the signs. Was Brant regretting his boldness? Maybe they were both stumbling around in the dark in their own ways. It was strange to look at Taylor Brant and consider him anything other than one hundred percent sure of himself.

Or was it? He was well groomed and sophisticated, yet the broken nose hinted at his past experience with abuse. The book, too, suggested deep waters and a hint of vulnerability.

But Jack wasn’t completely sold on Brant being a man you could easily take advantage of. Maybe back then, back when Brant had dated those cops, he had been a man like that. But not any longer. The man sitting across from Jack had been honed by pain, anger, and disappointment. Brant had gone through hell and come out the other side as a more powerful man. It was there in those steely eyes, a hint of the danger he presented: he needed to control every situation he entered because he would never allow himself to be at anyone’s mercy again. He was using his fear to become something—someone—unbreakable.

Jack’s cock pulsed at the prospect of being under Brant’s control, even for an hour. It wasn’t something he’d ever experienced, and the fantasy of it was probably better than the reality. Hell, he didn’t know how he’d react to someone attempting to take the upper hand with him. There was a good chance he’d throw a punch.

About the Author

Tricia Owens has been writing m/m fiction since 2000, after stumbling onto the term ‘slash’ and thinking it referred to horror stories. She is the author of the Sin City, A Pirate’s Life for Me, and Juxtapose City series, among several others. She lives in Las Vegas.

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Blog Tour for “Darkness Dawns” by Zakarrie Clarke. Rafflecopter Contest Giveaway included.

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Darkness Dawns

Author: Zakarrie Clarke

Publisher: MLR Press

Genre/s: Contemporary/Humour/MM/Disability (Blindness)

Length: 65 000 words/150 PDF pages

Release Date: February 1, 2019

It’s a novel with a sequel. The first 43 chapters form Darkness Dawns; it concludes on a HFN and the sequel completes the novel.

I’ve written both, but thought it best to split it, or it would be over 140 000 words long.

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Blurb

Darkness Dawns is a love story. It also tells the tale of one man’s war with himself, brought onto the battlefield of his blindness. Leo Ferrar suffers from diabetic retinopathy and lost his sight two years ago. Unable to bear the scrutiny of strangers or the impact of his blindness on those he loves, Leo has determined on shutting the world out ever since. This is the man Ben meets on his first day at work as Mr Ferrar’s care assistant.

A former heroin addict, Ben was sentenced to six months community service as punishment for his crimes by a judge entitled to condemn him to a seven-year stretch. Far too charming for his own welfare, Ben proves unaccountably brilliant at ‘bulldozing the blind’.

When fate sees fit to dispatch Ben to the home of the man he has dubbed Mr Ferrarcious; it is with the words of the last five unfortunates who’d dared darken Leo’s doorway ringing in his ears. A door that is opened by a man who might be Lord Byron himself. Drop dead gorgeous and as hot as hell, Leo Ferrar has the most beautiful eyes Ben has ever seen.

Never has an irony seemed so cruel. Nor fate so fortuitous.

Buy Links

Publisher – MLR

Amazon US Author Page

Amazon UK Author Page

Excerpt

Leo knew he should have opted to use the cane, instead of the arm Ben offered him for their unexpected walk. Should. Every time that word left someone’s lips, Leo wanted to scream; fists clenched in a screech of hopeless, helpless rage. The fact that everything he should do was For-His-Own-Benefit, made it so much worse, which was as ludicrous as it was true. Independence was the only thing he had left to aspire to. So, why the fuck did should rub Leo so raw it obliterated any inclination he may have had to do whatever it prefaced? He ought to want to do the things he should. But what if he tried…and failed? What if Leo couldn’t master any of them? Then he would lose even the hope that he might, one day, be able to. Even more galling, that loss would be down to him, because he was so bloody useless. He did want to show Ben that he was quite capable of managing…didn’t he? Very much, although why that mattered, Leo had no idea.

Why care what this latest in a long line of functioning eyeballs thought of him? It was probably more politic to say, ‘visually unimpaired’. Visually Impaired. Leo had to stifle the urge to punch people who described him thus. Impaired? Adj: weakened or damaged. Weak. Weakened. F’fucksakes. He was still chewing that particular wasp when Ben asked for his wrist.

Does he intend to lead me by it, as if I’m a toddler?

Leo found himself holding it out anyway. Christ knows why he was going along with all this. It was just that…being in Ben’s company was rather like sitting in the passenger seat of a snow plough driven by a drunk. Far preferable to standing in its path…and yet, somehow more appealing than staying behind, wherever the hell it was off to.

Nevertheless, he was still relieved when Ben clasped the proffered wrist—not to cart Leo off as he’d feared—but to plant his hand on top of Ben’s head. The fact that Leo could have changed the lightbulb without stretching a whole lot further, did seem to suggest he’d been addressing Ben’s nipples for the last half hour.

Quite how Ben then contrived to claim fault for something that was Leo’s mistake was less clear, but this was pulled off with such disarming charm, it would’ve been churlish to argue otherwise. Why the hell did the notion of calling Ben’s bluff feel as brutal a prospect as drowning his cat? If he had one, of course. Cat? More to the point…nipples?

“Thank you,” Leo managed to mumble, which was something of a result itself. Half an hour with Ben and he’d started to feel several sandwiches short of the proverbial picnic. He’d also begun to suspect that Violet had been a sweet little old lady—and quite sane—when she’d met Ben.

So off they went. The blindingly daft leading the blind off on a stroll around Camden.

In a bid to distract himself from well, pretty much everything he’d thought for the last five minutes, Leo decided to ask Ben to describe himself. For some reason he was intrigued, not only to know what Ben looked like, but to hear the picture he drew. Leo had an inkling this would prove more unmissable than an aural tour around the National Portrait Gallery. Unmissable? It was a bloody masterpiece. There most definitely were not any renderings of Steptoe’s six-four daughter there. The last two years might have felt a damn sight less soul-destroying if Ben had voiced Leo’s DVD visual descriptions.

Walking outside had lost all its appeal when the world became a giant landmine lying in wait to blow up in Leo’s face; every step into the unknown, a potential public humiliation. Despite this, and Ben’s partiality to lamp posts, they somehow arrived in Gloucester Crescent, alive and well. Even more shocking, was that Leo hadn’t fretted about…anything really, along the way. He’d just drifted along, listening to Ben weave words too beguiling to question where embellishment waved farewell to the truth. But who the fuck would want to, when that would feel as blasphemous as punching a fist through a Picasso?

About the Author

When Zakarrie was little and dreamed big, she wanted to be a writer. Just like Enid Blyton. Or p’raps not…having been most remiss on the lashings of ginger beer front. After moving to London at eighteen and flitting about for far too long, she finally settled, as blissy as can be, by the sea. When her castaway dreams resurfaced, they were believed into being by the warm words of friends who breathed life into her own. Her one wish now is that someone, somewhere, might enjoy the misadventures of her miscreants as much as she adores writing them.

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Series Review Tour: Blood Sealed, Books 1 & 2, “Nasu & Enrai” by Jet Lupin

SERIES REVIEW TOUR

BOOK 1

Book Title: Nasu (Blood Sealed Book 1)

Author: Jet Lupin

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre/s: M/M Paranormal Romance

Length: 83 000 words/ 156 pages

Release Date: November 25, 2017

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This story can technically be read alone, though there are unsolved things that are further explored in the next book

Blurb

Go to work. Come home. Repeat. Phil’s life is boring and he loves every second of it. No excitement, no boyfriends breaking up with him over cereal in his underwear. When everything’s predictable, nothing bad happens. But nothing good does, either.

One night, when his best friend forces him to step outside of his comfort zone, he meets Shige who’s too enigmatic to really be interested in him. He’s trouble, but Phil can’t help ignoring his own advice.

Decades have gone by while Shige’s kept himself locked away. He’s tired of the world, of humans and vampires. He was happy collecting dust until one day he wasn’t. On a whim, he ventures out and meets Phil, setting them on a path that’ll change them both.

Whatever this is between them, it won’t come easy. Plagued by distrust and danger from within and without, but if they survive, it just might be worth it

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Excerpt

From Chapter 1

Phil Torres sat in Mercer General’s basement level breakroom for the first time that shift. With a sports drink in one hand and a protein bar in the other, he worked to cram both things into his mouth. He couldn’t remember what he’d eaten last or when. Even so, he had no appetite. Other nurses came and went through the breakroom offering looks of sympathy and pity. He was on the ass end of a 16-hour shift no sane person would envy.

It had been a trial of will. He’d seen some terrible things in the three years he’d been a fully licensed nurse but during this one shift, he’d beheld some of the worst things he’d ever seen, things that would haunt his dreams and hang on during his waking hours. A savage gunshot wound, a leg so badly broken the bone slashed through the skin, a pair of asthma attacks that left the patients blue in the face, gasping, and a stomach bug so virulent, puke covered the floors of two of their closet sized exam rooms. The cleaning staff was going to love this evening’s cleaning detail, but it was just another night at Mercer General.

“What’re you still doing here?” Yolanda came into the breakroom, looking every bit as tired as Phil felt. Her sneakers, damp from the storm she’d weathered out on the floor squelched with every step as she made her way to the lockers. “Didn’t your vacation start an hour ago?”

Phil took a swallow of sports drink to help keep his meager meal down. “Jackie was running late, so I filled in for her, then Shelly needed help tapping a vein… I got trapped.”

Yolanda rolled her eyes as she shut the door to her locker. “More like you let yourself get­ trapped.”

She was right, of course.

During his time here, the older nurse had taken him under her wing, brought him into the fold. They’d become as close as cousins. It helped Phil feel at home out here on the West Coast where he had no family and few friends, but as a side effect, lying to her was now next to impossible.

Yolanda perched on the plastic chair next him. She bumped him with her shoulder. “I’ll never understand why you always drag your feet when it comes time to get out of here. You’ve got an OK place—by yourself—in a decent neighborhood. You know how many people would kill for that set up­? What’s the issue?”

Yolanda couldn’t understand it. She had a home waiting for her. A husband and kids who kept her busy. She might not admit it but they filled her life with joy. All Phil had waiting in at home was a dog bent on systematically destroying anything he could get his mouth on.

“I like keeping busy,” he said. “It’s not a crime.”

“Neither is taking time off once in a while.” Yolanda quickly wiped her sneakers down with a paper towel and threw it into the trash. “Since you got here, you’ve never taken more than three days off at a time. You need this break. You’re gonna burn out if you don’t take it easy.”

There was truth to Yolanda’s words, but to hear her tell it, Phil was a workaholic, little more than a care dispensing robot. He knew how to relax. He just didn’t enjoy it.

Work kept him too busy to worry about the lacking areas of his life. He liked helping people and Mercer’s shortage of staff guaranteed any offers to come in on his days off were never turned down. Without work, as rough as it could be on a good day, he’d be left alone. He didn’t know what to do with alone.

“Why can’t it be a week? Or two! I’d gladly do that much!”

Yolanda clucked her tongue in disgust. “I wish they’d let your ungrateful ass give me the two months since you so obviously don’t want it. I don’t see how you let it rack up.”

“Same,” Phil said. “Same.”

Yolanda stood, ready to go back out onto the floor, but she stopped in the doorway. She rested a small hand on Phil’s shoulder. “Your body remembers how to relax, even if you don’t. But you’ve got to get out of here first.”

Read more here: https://jetlupin.me/nasu-excerpt/

BOOK 2

Book Title: Enrai (Blood Sealed Book 2)

Author: Jet Lupin

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre/s: M/M Paranormal Romance

Length: 54 000 words/ 111 pages

Release Date: February 8, 2019

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Is it a standalone story? No

Blurb

Phil has a problem.

It’s not his job or the fact that his maybe boyfriend, Shige, is a vampire. He’s a sensitive– an ability he’s had since he was small that lets him peek into people’s minds— and it’s gotten out of control. He can’t turn it on and off like he used to. He needs help, and he has to fly to the other side of the world to get it. The catch? Shige’s the only one who can take him there, but things with him haven’t been great. Their relationship is in tatters, and he doesn’t know how to fix it or if it’s even up to him. This is so not what he needs right now.

But Phil’s not the only one with issues. Shige’s got a territory to maintain and a mystery to solve all while worrying about Phil. He takes all this in stride, but when things take a turn for the worst, can he get them both home in one piece?

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Excerpt

From Chapter 1

PHIL

“Earth to Phil!”

Phil blinked at the sudden snap inches from his nose. He shook himself as the world rushed up to meet him. He’d been adrift in a sea of consciousness surrounding them. There were 30 other people in this restaurant, and at any given time, Phil heard the thoughts of the closest 15 or so, everything from the mundane to the raunchy. None of it was his business, but his instinct was to latch onto every granule of information as he noticed it. Giving in was very easy and very satisfying.

Sorry. I’m here.” But he hadn’t been. Thoughts continued to float in and out of his mind, not all of them his own. Today was particularly bad. It kept getting harder to focus on the things he needed to live his life.

Before, he needed to concentrate to hear other people’s minds, like eavesdropping. Now it was like everyone spontaneously broke into fits of reciting their inner monologues. There was no way to tell when it would start, but nine times out of ten, it was when he needed all his mental faculties.

He’d taken more breaks at work than what his job owed him, just to get away from the noise. People had started to notice. He’d been lucky enough not to hurt anyone yet, but it was only a matter of time.

“You sure?” Jerome said with no small amount of skepticism threading through his words. “You’re a little spacey.”

“I got distracted by a work thing, but I heard every word.”

Jerome cut his eyes at him. “What’s the last thing I said?” He smirked.

“You asked how things are with Shige.”

Jerome sucked his teeth. “Lucky guess.”

The question from his brain reached Phil before Jerome put it into words. It got mixed in the deluge of their fellow diners’ minds, but he remembered because it concerned him directly and hadn’t been about the food. He focused on Jerome, and the feedback lowered to a dull hum, blending with the audible background noise of the restaurant.

“So you got an answer for me? Hurry up, while it’s just us.”

“We’re good. Why would I go on this trip with him if we weren’t getting along?”

The short answer was what Phil told him; things between him and Shige were fine. The truth, as always, was more complex. He didn’t know what they were or where they stood.

Read more here https://jetlupin.me/enrai-excerpt/

About the Author

Stories longing to have words put to them were in Jet’s heart from an early age. Jet enjoys exploring the connections and similarities between people whether they be shifters, vampires, or aliens, rendering the unknowable very knowable indeed.

Jet’s days are spent toiling away at a keyboard, slumped over a pen and paper hunting for those words, or playing around on twitter with a partner, and two rambunctious cats for company in the temperamental North Eastern US.

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Book Blast: “The Selkie Prince’s Forbidden Mate” by J.J. Masters

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: The Selkie Prince’s Forbidden Mate

Series: The Royal Alphas, Book 4

Author: J.J. Masters

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Megan Parker of EmCat Designs

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance (PNR/Gay/mpreg)

Length: 60,400 words / 236 pages

A standalone book within a series

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Blurb

Secrets, lies and a forbidden bond that could change the fate of a kingdom.

Marlin, Selkie prince and fourth alpha-born son of the King of the North, desires someone he shouldn’t. While taking a human lover is not quite forbidden, the one who caught his eye happens to be his brother’s scorned former lover. Nevertheless, every time Marlin’s around the man, he finds Nic hard to resist, even though his attitude can be frustrating. However, Marlin likes a challenge, and Nic’s a challenge he’s willing to tackle.

Nic has been bitter ever since the firstborn prince, Kai, broke off their affair abruptly years ago. To become involved with Kai’s younger brother could be just as heartbreaking because Marlin, like Kai, is obligated to find his fated mate and produce heirs. Something Nic can’t do. However, neither can fight their mutual attraction.

When a traitor escapes, Marlin’s skin is stolen, and danger ensues, it’s Nic who becomes the prince’s hero. And it’s at that very moment that Marlin can’t deny their fate, whether it’s forbidden or not.

Note: A 60k-plus word m/m shifter mpreg story, this is the fourth book in the Royal Alpha series. Due to the “knotty” times in this book, it is recommended for mature readers only. While it can be read as a standalone, it’s recommended to read the series in order. And, like all of my books, it has an HEA.

Excerpt

Marlin, Selkie prince and fourth alpha-born son of King Solomon, and, not to mention, complete utter fool, stood staring up at the little cabin in the woods.

He closed his eyes for a moment and inhaled the aroma of the forest surrounding him. That didn’t slow the runaway train that was his heartbeat.

Nor did it help his cock that flexed in his pants at the anticipation of doing something so wrong, but also so… desired.

It wasn’t necessarily wrong for a Selkie to find pleasure with a human… as long as that human was willing. But what made this feel iniquitous was that the man who lived in that little cabin in the woods was the former lover of his oldest brother, Kai.

His heartbeat went from racing to thumping loudly in his ears as the front screen door opened and the subject of his recent inappropriate dreams stood staring back at him while leaning against the door frame.

Dominic. Nic for short.

He was long and lean, his body built like a normal human. His shoulders were broad, his hips narrow. Even from where Marlin stood, he could see Nic’s dark hair appeared to be a ruffled mess, which made him even more attractive.

Maybe Marlin had disturbed the man’s afternoon nap.

“You just going to stand there? Like a stalker?”

His voice was deep, smooth, and all that delicious goodness swirled around Marlin, pulling him forward like he was a marlin being reeled in on a fisherman’s line. He wanted to fight it, but he couldn’t.

He couldn’t because he was exhausted from doing just that… resisting his desires. There was something about Nic…

Maybe it was his expressive brown eyes, and his attitude. Strong-willed, sometimes crass, but definitely sensual at other times.

Like that little bit of time Marlin spent with him the last time he was here. When his brother Zale was searching for his omega, when Nic had hid Finn in his home. While Zale was sneaking around inside the cabin searching for his mate, Marlin had kept the human occupied.

And it was then that he knew he was doomed. Knew he’d eventually show back up on the man’s doorstep no matter how many times he told himself it was wrong.

Plenty of other humans or betas were willing to take care of Marlin’s needs. But he didn’t want any of them.

He wanted Nic.

Even if it was just once. Just a simple taste. Maybe them spending a night together would exorcise the man from his system.

For the last few weeks, he couldn’t sleep through the night. No, he’d wake up in a sweat after dreaming about taking Nic, pleasuring him, making him come, then giving the human his knot.

Which never should happen.

Human males weren’t physically built to take Selkie knots. Not like an omega.

So, giving Nic his knot would only ever remain a fantasy. One that—when Marlin would wake up with a raging erection—would fuel his own release so he could go back to sleep.

But now it was happening every night. And, even worse, during the daylight hours thoughts of Nic would drift through his mind.

These thoughts of the male, the one standing on his porch and watching him intently, were interrupting his life and Marlin needed to get them to stop. Out of his brothers, he was the next prince in line to find his omega. His fated mate. Though he was in no rush, he knew the Presentation Ceremonies might begin at any time. Or at least as soon as the Selkie Seekers could find six appropriate omegas to present to him. So, he needed to concentrate on doing his duty and finding the right mate to produce pups, he should not give in to his base desires.

While Nic could never be Marlin’s mate, nor become pregnant with his heirs, he could be simply a temporary detour.

And the man did seem to show some interest the last time they were face to face.

“Marlin,” Nic called from the porch. “Why are you here? Is something wrong? Did you royals lose another omega?”

About the Author

J.J. Masters is the alter-ego of a USA Today bestselling author who writes hot, gay romance filled with heart, humor and heat. J.J. became fascinated with mpreg romance as soon as she figured out what mpreg stood for. She loves to write about “knotty” men!

You can join JJ’s FB Group here: https://www.facebook.com/JJMastersAuthor/ or her newsletter here: https://bit.ly/2E2zcaB to keep up with exclusive content and news.

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Book Blast: “Bad Deal” by Faith Ryan & Ember-Raine Winters

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Bad Deal (Belikov Crime Family 1)

Author: Ember-Raine Winters & Faith Ryan

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Always Inked

Genre/s: Dark Erotic Romance, Mafia/MC

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 40 000 words

It’s the first in a series but stands alone

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Blurb He’s a Russian devil and he owns me. JR Richards What’s worse than wanting the one person you can never have? How about finally getting them. Don’t get me wrong the sex was great, but everything that came after? Yeah, it’s like they say, be careful what you wish for. Ruslan Belikov My brother made a deal that didn’t go as planned. Now I have to get back what’s ours and pretty boy Jacoby is the tool to make that happen. I’ll torture and use him until I get what I want, then I’ll toss him aside like the rest. A motorcycle club and a Mafia family shouldn’t make deals. Someone’s bound to lose. Family, friends and hearts, nothing’s safe in a world fueled by drugs, money and sex. WARNING: Ruslan Belikov and Jacoby Richards may not be for everyone. They are two dominant men thrown into an impossible situation. Some readers may find their story makes them uncomfortable. If you don’t like dark and dirty mafia bosses who use torture and sex to get their way turn back now. You have been warned.

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Excerpt I follow behind them quietly as Demitri shoves him toward the bathroom. I notice Jacoby wince as Demitri squeezes his shoulder. I file that information away for later when the fun really begins. As I enter the bathroom, I remove my suit jacket folding it over the counter and rolling my sleeves up to my elbows. I see Jacoby shiver as Demitri blasts the cold water on him not bothering to let him remove his underwear. “Leave us.” I bark. Demitri jumps as if I’ve startled him, but does as told and scurries from the bathroom shutting the door firmly behind him. Jacoby’s eyes watch me as I move closer. I’m not sure if it’s fear or something else in his eyes as he glares at me. There was no heat behind it. “You like this, don’t you?” I wave a hand over my body. Jacoby nods. Good, no point in lying to me when I could see it written all over his face. My cock is painfully hard and I decide it’s time for some relief. “On your knees.” My thick accent becomes even thicker the more aroused I become. When he does nothing but drop to his knees and await my instructions, my hands go to my belt unbuckling it and pulling the leather slowly from my slacks. His breath catches in his throat when I pull myself out stroking once, twice before stepping forward and grabbing a fistful of his hair. “Open,” I growl shoving myself down his throat. He gags and his eyes water as I start my punishing pace. Both my hands are in his hair pulling it roughly as I piston my hips. It only takes him a second to acclimate and stop gagging. I push harder and move faster. The feel of absolute control feels like heaven and has me coming like a river down his throat. This kid is the perfect submissive. Too bad I can’t keep him. As soon as I find my drugs, I’ll have to get rid of him. The thought has me pausing momentarily. No matter, I’ll enjoy it while it lasts. Once my cock is sated, I close up my pants and walk out of the bathroom without a word. Demitri gives me an odd look as I exit the room and make my way down the hall. “Hang him up by the hook for the night, Demitri.” I never turn as I give the order. I hear Demitri’s grunt of understanding and continue to my apartment above the club.

About the Authors

Ember-Raine Winters

Ember-Raine Winters lives in sunny California with her two beautiful kids and a wolf. Also known as Apache her pure white Siberian Husky. She loves writing romance and reading just about anything she can get her hands on. And, football! She loves watching football and going to games. It’s one of her favorite ways to unwind. She dislikes the super-hot temperatures in her city and exercise. She hates to exercise but somehow her sister still gets her to do it every day. She also thinks it’s completely awkward talking about herself in third person. Ember loves connecting with readers so don’t be afraid to stalk her and drop her a line on social media.

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Faith Ryan

Faith Ryan is wife to a handsome bearded man and mother to three, yes three, teenage girls. She lives in a small town in Ohio and is an avid reader of romance and frequently finishes several books in one day. A coworker once told her that people who read romance are considered smarter than others, Faith totally agrees and thinks this doubly applies to romance authors. Everyone needs a little bit (or a lot) of romance in their life!

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Blog Tour: “Loving Again Series” by Mel Gough

LOVING AGAIN SERIES BLOG TOUR

January 25, 2019 – A World Apart

February 22, 2019 – A New Life

March 22, 2019 – A Broken Promise

NEW RELEASE

Book Title: A World Apart (Loving Again Series, Book 1)

Author: Mel Gough

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design

Genre/s: Contemporary romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 51 000 words/197 pages

Release Date: January 25, 2019

The first book in a series of three, but can be read as standalone.

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BlurbBen’s life appears perfect. He has a career to shine in and a beautiful family. But his marriage has broken down, and being a small-town cop is turning into a dead-end job.Hot-headed troublemaker Donnie is used to being side-eyed by the fuzz. Getting dragged into the station for a crime he didn’t commit is no big surprise – but a cop who gives a damn sure is.Ben has no clue how much a second encounter with the secretive redneck will shake up his life. Donnie’s sullen vulnerability arouses a passion Ben hasn’t felt for a long time. Soon, nothing matters but helping Donnie fight his demons. Can they carve a new life together out of the ashes?Buy LinksUniversal Amazon LinkAmazon US Amazon UK

Excerpt From Chapter One“WHAT HAVE WE got, Lou?” Ben asked the gray-haired desk clerk at Corinth Police Department. He glanced at a handcuffed man who sat on a nearby bench, staring down at the scuffed linoleum floor. The man’s dark hair was disheveled, falling low over his forehead and brushing his long eyelashes as his eyes flicked up at Ben. He looked to be in his mid-twenties. One knee jiggled with nerves, and his jaw worked as if he was biting the inside of his mouth over and over. His dark blue eyes were mistrustful, almost pained.“That guy was driving the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run yesterday,” Lou said. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the captain.” Just that moment, the door to the inner sanctum of the station opened, and Jason Browne strode out of Captain Buckley’s office. The sleeves of his uniform were rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms. “How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his gray eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school, that was never a good combination. Ben gave Jason a long look, then shrugged. “As expected.” He didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect Mr. Abbott’s words had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou. “You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured toward the handcuffed man, who had his gazed directed at the floor again. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he was none too happy to accompany us, neither.” “Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked, his tone dry.Jason nodded, smirking.“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” Saunders muttered, his dark voice shaking with suppressed anger. “Told y’all I wasn’t in town.”Jason sighed, folding his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?” Ben frowned at his partner. They had been in the radio car on their usual route the day before when the call about a hit-and-run near Corinth High had come over dispatch. O’Donnell and Myers, the department’s other two sergeants, had been closest and responded to the call. Last night, back at the station, O’Donnell had told them that the boy had a broken leg from being flung off his bike, but that he would undoubtedly survive. There really was no need for Jason to be so aggressive about the issue. Saunders sat up straight on the bench, glaring at Jason. “It wasn’t me! Why’re you not listening?” His eyes were wide with fury. Ben, knowing Jason’s thought processes and impulses almost as well as his own, stepped in his partner’s way. Gaze fixed on his friend, he said loud enough for Lou and any bystanders to hear, “Why don’t you and I take Mr. Saunders through to the interrogation room for a statement?” He put special emphasis on the last words, hoping Jason would get his meaning: Anything other than a polite request for an official statement from the suspect would be out of order at this point. Taking Jason’s reluctant jerk of the head as assent, Ben turned around, intending to escort Saunders to the interrogation room. But as soon as his back was turned, Jason stepped nimbly around him and grabbed the man hard by the upper arm. Saunders flinched, but Jason’s grip on him was like a vise. Saunders’s eyes met Ben’s, and there was pure animal fear in them, as well as something Ben couldn’t quite place. Anguish, perhaps? He stepped up close behind Jason. “If you dislocate his shoulder there’ll be an awful lot of paperwork to fill in for both of us, brother.” Ben kept his voice quiet and even, but Jason knew him well enough to detect the steely undertone. After a moment, Jason huffed, then let go of Saunders and took a step back. There were finger-shaped marks on Saunders’s bicep, just below the rolled-up sleeve. Now Ben stepped forward, and Saunders looked at him. His breath still came fast, but the fear began to fade from the indigo blue eyes. Ben motioned at Saunders to stand, then pointed down the corridor. “Would you come this way, please?” Good cop, bad cop. Ben hated playing this game, but Jason had left him no choice. Saunders got up. He was no taller than Ben, who just about scraped five foot nine. Jason towered over them both, still glowering. Saunders gave him a quick, disgusted look, then preceded Ben down the dreary-gray hallway, handcuffed arms held stiffly behind him. His narrow back was tense, the shoulders hunched. At the door to the interrogation room, Ben let Jason draw ahead. He followed the two men inside and closed the door. Jason approached Saunders, who had backed up against the one-way mirror. “Turn around,” Jason growled. Saunders ignored him and stared straight at the bottle-green linoleum floor. Ben spoke before Jason could get angry again. “Sir, the sergeant will move the handcuffs to the front so you can sit down more comfortably.” The eyes that met Ben’s were still full of mistrust, but after a moment, they softened and Saunders turned around. “Sit,” Jason said when he had shackled Saunders’s arms again in the front. Saunders flopped into the single chair on one side of the square floor-bolted table. Ben and Jason took the two chairs opposite. Leaning forward, Ben waited until he had the suspect’s attention. “Do you mind if we record this conversation?” “You’re arresting me?” The narrow blue eyes were suspicious again, but Saunders sounded more wary than belligerent. And he ignored Jason, his gaze never wavering from Ben. “No, we’re not,” Ben said in an even tone. “But having a record of what we talk about will aid your cause.” Saunders chewed this over, trying to decide whether Ben told the truth. Eventually he gave a small shrug. “Sir,” Ben said. “Please state for the protocol: Do you mind if we record this conversation?” Forcing the police procedural on this man was distressing. The tension vibrating off him made Ben wince. Saunders gave him a pained look. “Go ahead.” Jason pressed the digital recorder button on the small panel in the tabletop to his right. But it was Ben who spoke again. When they interrogated a suspect together, Ben usually started off the interview. His milder, calmer demeanor tended to relax the atmosphere better than Jason’s hot temper. For now, Jason seemed to have gotten all his anger out by playing scary cop in front of Lou and sat back in his chair without interrupting. “Statement protocol, September twenty-second, eleven forty-five a.m. Officers present: Sergeant Ben Griers and Sergeant Jason Browne.” Ben nodded at the suspect. “Please state your full name for the record, sir.” “Donnie Saunders.” The man’s voice was quiet, and he sounded tired. Ben waited for Saunders to look at him again, and nodded his thanks. Then he glanced at Jason, eyebrows raised, reminding his partner with his most level stare to act appropriately. “Officer Browne will now ask you a few questions.” “All right,” Jason said. Ben took this as the opening of the interview and an affirmation that he would stay calm. “Mr. Saunders, your pickup truck was seen driving away after hitting Dennis Mallory on his bike while he was riding home after school yesterday afternoon at about three thirty p.m.” “I told y’all three times now, it wasn’t me. Why is it that you can’t hear me?” Saunders’s voice had risen again in volume, but there was a strange quiver in it, too. He leaned back in his chair as far as he could, regarding Jason from eyes narrowed in anger. Before Jason, who looked ready to explode again, could respond, Ben said, “Let’s rephrase the question: Sir, where were you yesterday at three thirty p.m.?” Saunders didn’t immediately reply. His eyes darted around the room, never meeting Ben’s, and still ignoring Jason. Then they settled on the shackled, tightly folded hands in his lap. Is he trying to come up with a lie?At last, Saunders said, “Was in Atlanta. Had an appointment at the DFCS.” His voice was very quiet, and he didn’t look up. It didn’t sound like a lie, but a truth the man was reluctant to share. Ben decided not to press for details. It was none of his business why the guy had been summoned to the Division of Family and Children Services. As long as he could determine that Saunders had been forty miles away from the scene of the hit-and-run, he had done his job. “I need to know who you were there to see,” Ben said just as quietly, and wasn’t surprised when his gaze was met with one of suspicion again. He added in explanation, “A phone call to the person you had the appointment with will clear you.”Saunders gave a small jerk of the head in understanding. “Stacy Miller.”“Thank you.” Ben looked at Jason, considering his options. Could he leave these two alone for a few minutes? His partner’s steel gaze never wavered from Saunders, and Ben could feel Jason’s tension. But if he told Jason to make the phone call, would he try very hard to get at the truth? No, Ben would have to call the DFCS himself. He’d just had to be quick. “Jason, stay with Mr. Saunders. I’m going to call Ms. Miller.” Not waiting for Jason’s acknowledgment, or asking permission from Saunders to make the call on his behalf, Ben got up and left the room. He went back to the front desk. “Lou, find me the number for Atlanta DFCS.” The desk clerk looked grumpy for a moment but then started hacking away at his keyboard without a word. Finally he picked up the phone, dialed a number, and held the receiver out to Ben. “DFCS switchboard,” a tinny voice announced in Ben’s ear. ���How can I help?” “Stacy Miller, please,” Ben said, ignoring Lou, who tried hard to look like he wasn’t listening in. “Hold the line.” Ben half turned away while he listened to the annoying phone queue music. After a few moments, there was a click and a crisp voice said, “Medicaid assessment team. How can I help you?” About the Author

Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.In her day job, Mel works as PA and office manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

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Release Blitz: “I Wished For You” by Collette Davidson

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: I Wished For You

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Designs by Dana

Genre/s: mmm contemporary romance

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Heat Rating: 4 flames

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Buy Link – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Blurb

Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.

Matt wants to find ‘the one.’

Connor wants them.

 

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

 

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

 

 

Excerpt

Matt adjusted his jogging bottoms and leaned back against the sofa. The next words popped out of his mouth unfiltered. “I could do with a blow job.”

Seb snorted out a loud laugh. “Too much information.” He patted Matt’s shoulder. “But hey, if you’re desperate, I don’t mind obliging.” Seb’s laughter trailed off into a nervous chuckle. “Umm… that was a joke.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Matt couldn’t look at Seb. A week ago, he’d have taken a comment like that and ribbed his friend with it mercilessly. Now, he wasn’t sure at all that it had been meant in jest. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted it to be a joke. He rubbed his jaw, clearing his throat again. “What would you do if I said yes?”

Seb twisted on the sofa so he was facing Matt. “You’re not going to say yes.”

“What if I did?” Matt kept his stare on the ceiling, but he was still able to see Seb shrug out of the corner of his eye.

“I’d give you one.”

Seb’s reply was so matter-of-fact that it sent a chill running up Matt’s spine. It did nothing to ease the pressure in his cock. If anything, blood pumped to it faster.

“Really?” Matt asked. Why the hell was he still talking? It was like he was engaged in a game of chicken with Seb, trying to see which one of them would back down first. He had no idea how far his head, or his cock, was willing to take it.

“Sure, why not? It’s just a blow job, right? It wouldn’t mean anything.”

“But we’re friends,” Matt stuttered.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve sucked off a friend.”

 

About the Author

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

 

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Cover Reveal: “In Case You Missed It” by S. M. James

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: In Case You Missed It

Author: S. M. James

Cover Artist: Story Styling Cover Designs

Genre/s: YA LGBTQ romance

Heat Rating: 1-2 flames

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Tagline

Brooks measured his life in breaths, until Darien took his breath away.

Blurb

Brooks is convinced his life is totally, one hundred percent happy.

Until Darien tracks him down.

Darien was supposed to be the guy he kissed once and remembered forever, but now he’s back in Brooks’s life, with easy smiles and big ideas.

The first of which … show the homeschooled Brooks everything he’s missed out on. But as the pair work through a spring of playing catch up on life, it becomes obvious to Darien that Brooks has a secret.

And as things heat up between them, Brooks’s secret might just be Darien’s worst fear.

Because Darien has always lived in the moment.

But Brooks has always lived for the future he knows is inevitable.

When life is set to tear them apart, will love be enough to keep them together?

Excerpt

“Yo, Dare!” Cameron shouts.

Darien turns toward us in the bleachers and throws up a little wave. From the corner of my eye, I notice Chelsea pointing at me, and Darien double takes. His expression is almost comical.

Darien tosses his lacrosse stick to the side and jogs over to where we’re sitting. His eyes and smile are so wide he looks deranged, but the happiness radiating from him bathes me in warmth.

When he doesn’t say anything, I step in to fill the awkwardness. “Careful. People might think you’re happy to see me.”

He huffs a laugh, slightly out of breath. “Damn, Brooks. You could have given me some warning.”

I stand up and make my way down the few rows until I’m on the one right above him. The others are watching us creepily and it’s weird to have an audience when he’s looking at me like that. I should keep my distance. I can’t. “Are you surprised?”

“Very. You realize this is something you’ve been missing right? Checking out hot guys at practice. We can theoretically check that off your list.”

I pretend to scan the rest of the team. “Mmm … jocks in their natural habitat. My favorite.”

He whacks me in the stomach. “Mean.”

“You said it.”

“Yeah but you were supposed to say, ‘there’s just one guy I’m here for’.”

“I didn’t realize this thing was scripted,” I say, gripping the metal barrier and leaning down a little.

“Don’t be embarrassed. You’re clearly not as well versed in flirting as I am.”

Finallyyour ego makes sense. Too much flirting, not enough criticism.”

He holds his arms out. “What’s there to critique?”

And with that view of his body—his lean legs and loose shorts and tight t-shirt—I have to agree. Damn … the list of reasons why I should give him up melts away. There’s no walking away from this pull between us.

“Mitreski!” his coach calls, snapping me from my thoughts.

Darien ignores him as he drops his arms and steps closer to me. He reaches up to wrap one of his hands over mine. “Wait for me after practice?”

My mind gets loud with warning. What if he’s sick?

What if I catch it again?

What if I end up in hospital this time?

What if.

What if.

What if … he’s perfect for me? Hope surges in my chest.

What if I tell him everything and he doesn’t walk away? What if I get better? It’s an impossible thought, but when I’m with Darien, he makes me want to entertain infinite impossibilities.

“Mitreski, now!”

“Yes,” I whisper. “I’ll be here.”

Darien’s hand tightens around mine. “I don’t want to let go,” he admits.

“There are some thoughts you’re meant to keep to yourself.” But as he goes to pull away, I catch his fingers between my own. Just for a second. Just long enough to show that while I’ll keep the thought to myself, I don’t want to let go either.

As soon as I release him, he jogs back to his team, and I walk back up the three rows to where the others are sitting.

Heat has surged to my face, my ears, my neck. I’m sure I must be embarrassingly red but no one says a thing about it.

Cameron smiles at me, blue eyes twinkling, and it hits me just how much I love my cousin. He’s always been there for me, looking out for me. He knew I needed this.

I nudge him as Darien and the team set up a practice game. “Thank you.”

Cameron shrugs. “I overhead you two today. It was sickening. Really sappy. I had to get you together again, because no one needs to hear that.”

If Cameron told me why he wanted me to pick him up, I probably wouldn’t have come. I would have used the excuse of Darien being sick, and stayed away, intimidated by the thought of showing up—especially with Chelsea here too.

But as I watch Darien run back and forth, with no clue what the rules are, I feel like I’m lit up from the inside. He scores at one point and I’m practically bursting with pride as we cheer and stomp our feet, making as much noise as possible.

Instead of getting embarrassed, he mock bows, loving the attention.

I lean over to Cameron. “I’m going to tell him.”

He jerks around to look at me, all humor gone. “For real? Brooks, are you sure?”

“You’re the one who said I have to.”

He shrugs. “It’s really not up to me.”

“I know.” I hesitate before letting out a sigh. “But it’s not up to me either. I really like him, but he has the right to know what he’s getting into, before anything happens.”

“I hate to agree with you … but it’s true.”

“I’m a lot to take on.”

No, you’re not. You need to stop seeing yourself as a burden. Fuck, Brooks. You’re always going on about wanting to be treated the same as anyone else, but you need to start treating yourself that way too.”

Cameron’s right. It pisses me off that he’s right so I’m definitely not going to agree, but I note his words. Let them sit, percolate. Soak them into my subconscious. “I have to tell him.” I push as much emphasis as I can into the words, trying to convince myself as much as him. “But I have no clue how.”

“Hey, don’t overthink it. The right moment will come up, and whatever happens from there, happens.”

I watch Darien, wishing the world could just slow and give me endless days of school, and watching practice, and making friends, as I plunge into a world of incomprehensible feelings.

“It’s the ‘whatever’ part I’m afraid of.”

But facing it is inevitable.

About the Author

S. M. James writes books for teens about squishy sweet characters.

While not writing, S. M. is a readaholic and Netflix addict who regularly lives on a sustainable diet of chocolate and coffee.

Member of SCBWI.

Unapologetically dishing out HEAs for LGBTQ characters.

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