Kate McMurray, Loose Id

Across the East River Bridge by Kate McMurray

“Indeed, history is nothing more than a tableau of crimes and misfortunes.” – Voltaire

Brooklyn, New York, 1878—it was an exceedingly dangerous time to be a gay man. In fact, for Theodore Cummings Brill and George Washington Cutler it was downright deadly. A crime that held all the earmarks of a double homicide was dismissed by the police as a murder/suicide when it was discovered that Teddy and Wash were so much more than simply dear friends. For more than a century, it was believed the men died as a result of a lovers’ quarrel, just punishment for their perversions according to the moral judgments of the time—but their tormented spirits have clung to the physical plane, languishing in a purgatory of history’s making, just waiting for their moment of truth to see the light and to set them free.

When Christopher Finnegan shows up at the now historic Brill House on a research mission for his boss, the last person he expected to meet with was his arch-nemesis Troy Rafferty, the home’s curator. Finn and Troy share a past layered, in turns, by competition, acrimony, and uncontrolled lust…always followed by anger and regret on Finn’s part. It’s a history that, for Finn, has constructed a wall, brick by contempt filled brick, between them, and has shaped his perception of their shared past, making Troy the scapegoat for Finn’s academic failures; not that Troy is entirely innocent, but he’s certainly not entirely to blame either. It’s been a decade and a half of antagonism and contention between the two men, but circumstances never cease to keep throwing them together. Now it seems more paranormal intervention than serendipity that has put them on a path toward reconciliation. The big question, however, is whether the feelings they have for each other are their own, or merely the ephemeral strains of the love Teddy and Wash felt for each other. When Troy and Finn begin digging into Wash and Teddy’s private journals, begin to piece together the circumstances of their deaths, it opens a hole between the physical and metaphysical realms, and becomes exceedingly clear that the ghosts of a long ago past will not allow Troy and Finn to rest until a name is given to their killer.

Across the East River Bridge is a seamless merging of the past and the present, of two distinctly different romances separated by more than a century, wrapped within a mystery that ties them all together in the present. The story is a careful unraveling of secrets and clues that push Troy and Finn in the direction of a future that can hold together only if they can find a killer who’s been dead for more than a hundred years, then come to trust that what they feel for each other is real. This is one of those books that not only entertained but also informed, which resulted in a really lovely read for me.

Kate McMurray is a GayRomLit participating author. You can check out Kate’s blog HERE.

Buy Across the East River Bridge HERE.

Daniel A. Kaine, Self-Published, Smashwords

Dawn of Darkness (Daeva #1) by Daniel A. Kaine

“Hell is empty and all the devils are here.” – William Shakespeare

Nearly a century ago, humans and vampires lived together peacefully, even amidst the religious prophesying that their integration would most certainly bring about Armageddon one day. When a great plague swept across the globe and decimated nearly all the world’s population, it appeared the prophets were right and the vampires were indeed a scourge, and the resulting demise of the human race. It’s now the year 2105, vampires and humans are once again predator and prey, but within the dystopian landscape of what had once been France, one civilized community still exists among the ruins, Rachat, a stronghold in which an army of young men and women with supernatural abilities become lethal weapons in the fight against the vampiric enemy.

Mikhail Hart and Ashley White are two newly minted soldiers in the Silver Dawn Battalion, two young men with powers that give them an advantage in this war against the undead. They, along with their preternatural comrades, have been spoon-fed from the propaganda vessel, taught to believe that the course of their history was directed and dictated by the nightdwellers who have the power to control their thoughts and feed on them like human cattle. But the truth is that the truth is still out there waiting to be discovered. And when Mik gets a little too close to those truths, life as he knows it becomes something more like a small corner of hell, where the devil he knows is every bit as dangerous and the devil he doesn’t, and some of the worst lies are the lies he tells himself, for those are the lies that convince him the one person in the world he loves is lost to him forever.

The battle lines are drawn, and Mik has chosen sides. It’s the invisible line of warring ideology that has separated him from Ash, and now they’re on opposing ends of the personal and political agenda that has sprung from the deception and manipulation of the puppet regime. It is the fine line they both toe but cannot cross until they learn to trust that their love is the most powerful weapon they have in this battle between good and evil, and that survival can mean the difference between living or merely existing.

If you’ve read any small amount of paranormal fantasy over the past few years, you might feel, like me, that vampires have been done to death. After reading everything from Bram Stoker’s original to those of the sparkling variety, I feel like I’ve seen every possible permutation of the bloodsucker theme in between, but I have to say I was very pleased with Dawn of the Darkness, Daniel A. Kaine’s self-published debut. Mr. Kaine’s vampires are a mixed bag of daywalkers, nightdwellers, those who have striven to hang on to a bit of their humanity and to prove they’re not all the soulless monsters they’ve been made out to be, as well as those who are very much the monsters vampires have always been. There’s no attempt to bend or break the roles and rules, no sensationalizing for the sake of introducing something different. These vamps are sometimes horrific, sometimes entirely humane, and I liked the contrasts.

This novel is introspective speculative fiction, a blend of horror and young adult romance. It’s a story of betrayal and of healing and forgiveness, at once altogether gory, then utterly poignant in its portrayal of the broken pasts that have shaped who Mik and Ash have become. Though the going was a bit slow at times, and there were some rough edges to this gem, I was thoroughly invested in the journey and am looking forward to its continuation in Origin of Darkness, book #2 in the Daeva series.

Daniel A. Kaine is a GayRomLit participating author. Find out a bit more about Daniel HERE.

Buy Dawn of Darkness HERE.

Dreamspinner Press, Rhys Ford

Rhys Ford Is Here Today To Let You In On A Dirty Secret

Okay, maybe it’s not such a big secret that Rhys’s second book in the “Cole McGinnis Mysteries” series is out today. It’s also not that big of a secret that Rhys is giving one lucky reader the chance to win both books in the series HERE. It’s also not a secret that I have an excerpt of Dirty Secret to tease you with. Hm, I guess keeping secrets is not my forte. Sh, don’t tell anyone. :)


Dirty Secret:

Kim Jae-Min was nothing I ever wanted in my life, nothing I ever expected. He was beautiful and enigmatic, a gorgeous Korean man trapped between his sexuality and his family’s traditional expectations. He shouldn’t have caught my attention. I’d never looked at an Asian man. Never imagined sharing a bed with one, much less having another man after Rick died. Once I’d found him, I didn’t want anything… anyone else.

Jae was a loose-hipped, sensual creature, a little shorter than me, but with long, lean legs I couldn’t get enough of. His mouth was kissably full, and his dark-brown eyes were hard to see through the fall of black hair framing his face, but I knew there were light honey specks in them that caught gold when he was out in the sun. He dressed with little care to how he looked, preferring low-slung threadbare jeans or drawstring cotton pants that hung low on his narrow hips. His feet were always bare when he was home, long toes that bore more than a few scratches from his cat’s vicious playing. He preferred T-shirts, usually mine when he slept over, and tank tops that left his muscular arms free. They were nice arms. They went with his broad shoulders, built up from lugging photography equipment around.

It was a shame we had issues. I was having a hard time getting over my dead lover, and he wrestled with being gay and coming from a culture where being homosexual would get a man excised from his family. I was never certain if he understood his beauty, or even was aware of the attention he attracted when he came into a room. It was a pity he couldn’t stay mine.

I was working on that.

“Nuna is here.” The kiss he gave me was light, a brushing of our mouths, but it was enough to short circuit my brain the rest of the way.

I wasn’t paying attention to what he was saying. Not when his arms slid around my waist and his body fit up into mine. My hands slid down, cupping his ass, and I ran my fingers along the rise of his rear, filling my palms with the feel of him. Since there was company in the living room, the couches were off-limits. Heading upstairs was also out. She’d hear our feet on the steps and would wonder why we’d left her alone downstairs. The laundry room was looking good. I could see Jae balanced on the washer, his pants pulled down just enough for me to spread him apart and work myself into his warmth.

“Cole-ah, listen,” Jae slid, flicking me on the end of my nose with his fingers. The -ah at the end of my name was a term of affection, but the flick stung. He’d let go of my waist, and pushed me away gently. I reluctantly let go, telling myself I was too tired for a romp on the washing machine anyway. “I said, nuna is here.”

“I know. I saw the kim chee mafia outside,” I replied, leaning over to bite his neck gently before he could pull away further. He let me, and I briefly worried at the skin before letting him go. “Is she okay?”

“She wants to talk to you. She brought someone for you to meet. They want to hire you for something,” Jae murmured. His high cheekbones went pink, a blush over his skin, and he rubbed at the spot where I could still see the dimples left by my teeth. “What took you so long to get home?”

“I had to go watch a doctor pick glass out of some guy’s dick.” I shrugged. “Is there coffee I can warm up in the microwave? I’ll need something to keep me awake for a little bit.”

“I’m not enough?” His smile was brief, a flirtatious smirk that left me no doubt I could have dragged him away to the laundry room if I’d tried hard enough.

“Jae, you aren’t something to get me into the living room to talk,” I murmured, hooking my hand behind his neck and pulling him into another kiss. “You’re inspiration for me to head upstairs and see if we can make enough noise to get the cops called on us.”

“Aish.” It was a guttural sound, a rasp of a rattle in his throat. “There’s coffee. I’ll get you a cup. And something to eat. Go talk to nuna so she can go home and we can get some… sleep.”

Dreamspinner Press, Rhys Ford

Welcome To Dorthi Ki Seu, The Gentlemen’s Club Where The Kisses Are Hot, The Secrets Are Hotter, And The Books Are FREE!!

Cole McGinnis is an ex-cop turned PI. Kim Jae-Min is a man with a dirty little secret, one shared by his cousin – past tense – because now Jae’s cousin is dead, and it’s beginning to look a little less like suicide and a lot more like murder.

Enter the down and dirty world of Dorthi Ki Seu (Dirty Kiss), a sex club where the men are hot and Scarlet reigns supreme over her kingdom. It’s a place where mystery and murder go hand-in-hand with sex and secrets, and this is the place where you could win TWO FREE BOOKS from their author, Rhys Ford: Dirty Kiss, and the sequel (due from Dreamspinner Press on September 28, 2012), Dirty Secret.

Check out the blurbs for both books!

Dirty KissCole Kenjiro McGinnis, ex-cop and PI, is trying to get over the shooting death of his lover when a supposedly routine investigation lands in his lap. Investigating the apparent suicide of a prominent Korean businessman’s son proves to be anything but ordinary, especially when it introduces Cole to the dead man’s handsome cousin, Kim Jae-Min.Jae-Min’s cousin had a dirty little secret, the kind that Cole has been familiar with all his life and that Jae-Min is still hiding from his family. The investigation leads Cole from tasteful mansions to seedy lover’s trysts to Dirty Kiss, the place where the rich and discreet go to indulge in desires their traditional-minded families would rather know nothing about. It also leads Cole McGinnis into Jae-Min’s arms, and that could be a problem. Jae’s cousin’s death is looking less and less like a suicide, and Jae-Min is looking more and more like a target. Cole has already lost one lover to violence-he’s not about to lose Jae-Min too.

Dirty SecretLoving Kim Jae-Min isn’t always easy: Jae is gun-shy about being openly homosexual. Ex-cop turned private investigator Cole McGinnis doesn’t know any other way to be. Still, he understands where Jae is coming from. Traditional Korean men aren’t gay—at least not usually where people can see them.

But Cole can’t spend too much time unraveling his boyfriend’s issues. He has a job to do. When a singer named Scarlet asks him to help find Park Dae-Hoon, a gay Korean man who disappeared nearly two decades ago, Cole finds himself submerged in the tangled world of rich Korean families, where obligation and politics mean sacrificing happiness to preserve corporate empires. Soon the bodies start piling up without rhyme or reason. With every step Cole takes toward locating Park Dae-Hoon, another person meets their demise—and someone Cole loves could be next on the murderer’s list.

One lucky person will win a copy of both Dirty Kiss and Dirty Secret. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment on this post, and you’re automatically entered. Please be sure to include your email address in your comment so we know how to contact you. Good Luck!

**One winner will be chosen at random and contacted by Rhys Ford. Entry deadline for this contest is 11:59pm Pacific (2:59am Eastern), Sunday, September 30, 2012**

Amber Allure, Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press, Eden Winters, Less Than Three Press, P.D. Singer, Piper Vaughn, Rhys Ford, Xara X. Xanakas

Here’s What’s Coming Up In My GayRomLit 2012 Countdown!

The excitement continues, as give-away after give-away leads up to October 18th’s “Desire in the Desert”. Here’s a rundown of what you can expect to see in the coming weeks.

Eden Winters’ Diversion contest ends tonight at 11:59pm Pacific time (2:59am Eastern), so if you haven’t entered to win, hurry and do it before it’s too late!

Beginning tomorrow, Wednesday, September 26th, Rhys Ford will be bringing her Cole McGinnis Mystery series to the show, where sex and murder are intimate acquaintances. Rhys will be offering one lucky reader the chance to win both books in the series, Dirty Kiss and the upcoming Dirty Secret. You won’t want to miss it!

On October 1st, it’s all Amy Lane, folks, and she’ll be here to offer up the chance to win two books to one lucky contestant–Chase in Shadow, as well as the newly released (10/1/12) Dex in Blue, starring Dex and Kane, two characters who were introduced in Chase and Tommy’s book. Click HERE to see what Amy had to say about her boys and their story on Mary Calmes’ blog. And make sure to stay tuned!

Piper Vaughn & Xara X. Xanakas have a new release coming on October 10, 2012 from Less Than Three Press, called The Party Boy’s Guide to Dating a Geek, the first book in a news series, the “Clumsy Cupid Guidebooks”. Beginning on October 6th, you’ll have the opportunity to register to win a FREE copy of the book, which will be awarded to one lucky reader. Be sure to watch for it!

And finally, capping off the celebration, P.D. Singer will lead things into the homestretch with a two book give-away to one lucky contestant, Fire on the Mountain and Snow on the Mountain, the first two books in her series “The Mountains”, starring Jake Landon and Kurt Carlson, two fire rangers whose passion ignites one hot summer in the mountains, and carries on to the snowy slopes of Wapiti Creek Ski Resort. You won’t want to miss this contest, coming on October 11th!

It’s a hellagood time to be a fan of M/M romance!

Dreamspinner Press, Eric Arvin

Subsurdity: Vignettes From Jasper Lane by Eric Arvin

“Suburbs are incubators of apathy and delirium.” – Cyril Connolly

Getting a glimpse at the residents of Jasper Lane was a bit like peeking into the windows of a museum for the artfully deranged, and the scrim of Eric Arvin’s screwball suburbia is in the curb appeal that has nothing to do with manicured lawns and gingerbread trim, and everything to do with the mad-scape of the people whose secrets and lies and wondrous proclivities make me want to settle there and fill my lawn with pink flamingoes and ceramic gnomes, and host my own parties that will become legendary in the annals of debauchery and depravity.

Subsurdity is a block-party sitcom where the morality is policed by Melinda Gold and her mother, a harpy of an old woman whose only redeeming feature is the comedic gas-mine of her chronic fart problem. Eric Arvin skewers the illusion of the perfect suburban neighborhood with a voyeur’s eye view of exactly what goes on behind closed doors on Jasper Lane, where Cassie Bloom holds court and hosts gay porn parties, where out of work husband and expectant father, Steve Jones, becomes a gay-for-pay porn star—and suddenly keeping-up-with-the-Joneses takes on a whole new meaning. It’s the place Gayhound the homosexual dog calls home; where “Better Homes & Gardens” meets “Murder Most Likely”; where “good Christian” is an oxymoron of biblical proportions that threatens to strangle the very life out of seventeen-year-old Patrick Gold; where nothing spells humiliation like your tongue stud getting stuck in the UPS guy’s Prince Albert—for all your neighbors to witness—and where, amidst all the absurdity, a lovely little romance blooms between Rick Cooper and James Tucker. That is, if James can find the strength to come out of the closet.

Folks, Subsurdity ain’t your mama’s daytime soap opera, that’s for sure. It takes the monochromatic suburban life and transforms it into an in-living-color satire where the characters put the “fun” in dys-fun-ctional, and I’d gladly turn off my Kindle and tune into that fun, if only to gawk and wonder why my life is such an utter snooze.

Eric Arvin is a GayRomLit participant (and fellow Hoosier. :-D). You can visit Eric’s blog HERE.

Buy Subsurdity HERE.

Dreamspinner Press, M.J. O'Shea

Letting Go by M.J. O’Shea

“All the art of living lies in a fine mingling of letting go and holding on.” – Havelock Ellis

Drew MacAuliffe knows there’s a fine line between courage and cowardice: the courage in giving rise to a strength you didn’t know you possessed, in spite of your fears; the cowardice in the submission to those fears and the surrender of your Self in order to conform rather than risk being exposed by the one whose words hold the power to dismantle everything you’ve worked so hard to build. Drew has toed that line since the day he was gut-checked by his attraction to Tallis Carrington, so he knows all too well that there’s far more to fear than just fear itself. Say, for example, being held hostage because of who you are and what you desire.

Drew stepped a toe over that line from cowardice to courage when Tally finally had had enough of Brock Peterson’s ignorance. Drew then left that line in the dust when he finally found someone worth risking everything for. Mason Anderson is that someone for Drew, but the problem with living a lie for so long is in discovering the courage to let go of the deception and to hold on to the one who makes you want to embrace the truth. The difficult part comes in the convincing that certain someone of your sincerity and your worth, especially when you do and say the wrong things, but for all the right reasons; when you must prove that there’s a difference between blatant manipulation and a random act of kindness for which you expect nothing in return.

Letting Go is a May/December romance between two men who feel the quicksilver frisson of attraction and of what it all means; for Mason, who isn’t looking for any sort of romantic entanglements, and for Drew, who is still very much the terrified teenager trapped in the body of a man who wants so much more than he’s ever allowed himself to give or receive.

Their beginning is burdened by miscues which are overcome, only to fall into a series of missed clues that there are far too many past issues and outside interferences they’re permitting to shape the course of their future together. It’s a story about honesty, about not only being true to the person you love, but also being true to yourself and, in the process, breaking free of all the things that have been a burden on your very existence.

Though Letting Go is the second book in the “Rock Bay” series, I’m tempted to say it can be read as a standalone—not at all saying you should skip Coming Home, Lex and Tally’s story, though, because it’s well worth the reading—just saying I think you could, as there’s enough background given to complete a clear picture of where the series began.

Drew and Mason are another lovely addition to Rock Bay’s landscape, and unless I’m reading something into this book that wasn’t there, I’m hoping Logan, Mason’s best friend, will be up next and will discover that an as-yet-to-arrive new resident to the town will be rocking his foundation. Soon, I hope!

M.J. O’Shea is a GayRomLit participating author. To learn more about M.J., visit her blog HERE.

Buy Letting Go HERE.

Eden Winters

GayRomLit Contest Kick-Off – Win a copy of Diversion by Eden Winters!!!

It’s FREE FICTION FRIDAY, which means that one lucky person is going to be eligible to win Diversion, the story of an ex-con who chooses the right side of the law over eight more years in prison. Check out the blurb:

Drug dealers aren’t always on the streets; sometimes they sit in offices and board rooms, selling merchandise in official looking bottles instead of little cellophane bags.

When given a choice between eight more years in prison or using his “expertise” to assist the Southeastern Narcotics Bureau’s Department of Diversion Prevention and Control, convicted drug trafficker Richmond “Lucky” Lucklighter takes the sentence with the illusion of freedom. Cynical and unwilling to admit he’s begun to care about his job, he counts the days until his debt is paid. His sole obstacle to getting his life back is the rookie he’s assigned to train before he leaves; a rookie who quotes pharmacy texts, hasn’t paid his dues, and has the obnoxious tendency of seeing the good in everyone – including the target of their investigation.

Former Marine Bo Schollenberger dreamed of becoming a pharmacist and watched the dream turn into a nightmare of PTSD-fueled prescription drug abuse. Battling his demons daily, he wakes up every morning, wondering, “Will this be the day I give in?” To keep his license, he must now put his skills to use for a diversion control task force, deal with a crude partner with too much attitude and no brain-to-mouth filter, and take down a drug lord who reminds him of his favorite cooking show hostess.

The bad guys don’t stand a chance — if Lucky and Bo don’t strangle each other first…

Now, all you need to do for a chance to win your choice of a print or e-copy of the book is leave a comment on this post; it’s that easy. Please be sure to include your email address in your comment so we know how to reach you!

And be sure to watch for the sequel, Collusion, coming in the Spring of 2013!

**One winner will be chosen at random and contacted by Eden Winters. Contest Deadline is 11:59pm Pacific/2:59am Eastern, Tuesday, September 25, 2012**

Brita Addams, Dreamspinner Press

For Men Like Us by Brita Addams

“’Tis very true, my grief lies all within;
And these external manners of laments
Are merely shadows to the unseen grief
That swells with silence in the tortured soul.”
– William Shakespeare

The casualties of war are not only the poor and unfortunate souls whose lives bleed out on the battlefield. There are times that death would seem a welcome peace when compared to the far more insidious torment of the memories that can bury a man under the weight of his conscience until there is nothing left for him to do but to try to atone for the sin of his self-preservation.

Benjamin Wilmot paid a horrific price in battle, not for the cause of King and country but for the cause of his feelings for another man. He was offered the choice between two savage evils, and the course he chose was one for which he suffers the travelling, both body and soul. It is a path that now has led him to the back alleys of Cheapside, where Preston Meacham sells himself for the sake of survival. It is the place that for Ben, who had no intention of engaging in anything but honesty and penance with Pres, falls in love with the man for whom Ben can mean nothing but sorrow and condemnation.

They say confession is good for the soul, but how can it be good when the confessor and the crime are mutually exclusive? How can a man be absolved of his sins when the sin is not a mark upon his own soul, but another’s? Those are the questions at the heart of Ben and Pres’s conflict, and they were, at times, a moving and motivating factor in my love for this book, a story about repairing the past and reclaiming the truth.

Brita Addams’ Regency romance, For Men Like Us, is an erotic journey of pleasure and punishment, of hurt and healing. It is the story of two men whose lives are entangled by horror and secrets and lust and passion, and whose bond is tested by suffering and sacrifice.

Desire and despair, damnation and deliverance set the perfect tone for the novel, in a time when, for men like Ben and Pres, love held the very real threat of death. It is where condemnation ends and compassion begins, where mercy and forgiveness transform, and a happy ending is the reward to the reader who can endure the pain along the way.

Brita Addams is a GayRomLit participating author. To learn more about Brita, visit her blog HERE.

Buy For Men Like Us HERE.

Charlie Cochet, Torquere Press

Small Gems – In His Corner by Charlie Cochet

“You cannot love a thing without wanting to fight for it. You cannot fight without something to fight for.” – Gilbert K. Chesterton

Five years ago, Eli Mayhew’s heart was broken by Jessie “The Demon” Dalton, former Heavyweight Boxing Champion, and the older man Eli loved…still loves, if the truth be told. But things were not meant to be at a time when Jessie was at the lowest point of his life and his career in the ring was going down for the count. Jessie made sure Eli left “for his own” good, but what’s good is entirely questionable when what’s worse is the misery of being apart.

Eli’s Uncle Jasper is looking for a new cornerman for Jessie, whose career is little more than a pale shadow of his former glory days. Jessie hasn’t had much worth fighting for since Eli left, but Eli’s back and has jumped at the chance to become the man Jessie needs, and still wants, in his corner. Jessie merely needs to found the courage and confidence to reach out and take what he wants.

In His Corner is Charlie Cochet’s contribution to Torquere Press’s Charity Sip Blitz. It is a supremely sweet short story of faith, hope, and a second chance at love, set in the 1920s. The setting and language reflect the decade perfectly, and the storytelling is dependably charming, as I’ve come to expect from this author, whose heroes are always men I want to spend more time with.

Charlie Cochet is a GayRomLit participant. If you’d like to get to know Charlie better, you can find out more about her HERE.

Buy In His Corner HERE.

Amy Lane, Eden Winters, Piper Vaughn, Ramblings, Rhys Ford, Xara X. Xanakas

Countdown To GayRomLit 2012

In exactly one month from today, I’ll be heading to the Indianapolis airport at the bootie-crack of dawn to catch a flight to Albuquerque for the second annual GayRomLit convention, Desire in the Desert. I’ll be showing up at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino with my roomie, Rhys Ford, and a heaping helping of fangirl squee to be spread around equally, guaranteed. I can’t even begin to tell you how excited I am to be going—check out the list of attendees HERE, and you’ll see why.

Between now and the time I leave on October 18th, I’m going to concentrate all my efforts on reading books written by the authors who’ll be attending the retreat. I wish I could say that I was going to read at least one book by every author showing up this year, but that’d be humanly impossible. In spite of my mad reading obsession, I do need some sleep in order to function. But in celebration, I’m going to be hosting some GREAT GIVEAWAYS from some of the authors who’ll be there, including Rhys Ford, Piper Vaughn & Xara X. Xanakas, Amy Lane, and Eden Winters just to name a few, so make sure to stay tuned in.

Trust me when I tell you that for me, this is like the holy grail of fandom. I am going to make every effort to conduct myself with at least a modicum of dignity, but I’m making no promises. As long as I don’t get maced or no one calls hotel security on me, it’ll all be good.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

Loose Id, Z.A. Maxfield

The Book of Daniel (St. Nacho’s #4) by Z.A. Maxfield

“Those things which are precious are saved only by sacrifice.” – David Kenyon Webster

Daniel Livingston has become comfortably numb.

The remnants of childhood abuse, a lifetime of denial, a marriage that was more contract than communion, an accident that left his right arm mangled beyond use, and ultimately, a divorce that didn’t set him free as much as it sent him freefalling into the alcohol soaked end of the male flesh-pool—because the faith end of that pool was all dried up—have all served to turn Daniel into a cleverly crafted facsimile of a happy man.

But the truth is that Daniel has always been more comfortable living the lie, so much so that he’s built his entire adult life upon the foundation of artifice and has become aggressively removed from his feelings because emotions have no place in a life in which business is business and money is the illusion of contentment. Daniel’s faith is the currency he’s forfeited because he won’t gamble on the belief that there’s such a thing as happily-ever-after. And he certainly doesn’t believe he’s worthy of an honorable and decent man like Cameron Rooney.

For Daniel to be the sort of man Cam could love, he would have to grow a conscience, but that’s easier said than done when the landscape of your life has wasted under the drought of trust and the emptiness in the expectation that if you throw enough money at people you can buy your way around having to live up—or down—to their belief of who you are. That still small voice of Daniel’s has been buried six-feet under for an awfully long time, and to exhume it means to make something entirely different of himself within the place he’s been grounded for so long. The first step in cultivating this new life is honesty, and honesty begins and ends with the sacrifice of his own future in order to spare the future of the man he loves.

Santo Ignacio is the sort of place that embraces you if it wants to keep you, sometimes in spite of whether or not that person wants to be kept, but in Daniel’s case, St. Nacho’s has about as much use for him as he has for St. Nacho’s—which is very little. There was a time when a goldmine of real estate opportunity like this sleepy seaside community would have sent the dollar signs of potential spinning in the empty vault of Daniel’s ethics, but that was before Cam, and before Daniel came to the realization that Cam’s happiness is all he needs to make himself happy. It’s the jumping off point for Daniel to prove to Cam and the entire town that the truth has set him free, and that compassion and doing what’s right can be rewarded tenfold in the end.

The St. Nacho’s series isn’t a paper world and cardboard cut-out characters. Z.A. Maxfield has dreamt of and shared with her readers the sort of place you wish truly existed, a place where you’d want nothing more than to buy a little beachfront bungalow and embrace the bold and colorful palette of people you’d be glad to call friends and neighbors. That element of connection elevated these books to something more for me than a simple way to pass the time.

This series has been yet another addiction, and another addition to the long list of books that leave me in awe of the ability to write and create. They are stories of broken men who are healed by love, kindness, and patience. They are stories of atonement and redemption, trust and faith, truth and healing. They are eminently romantic and utterly readable, in an I-couldn’t-put-them-down kind of way.

I’m not sure if this is the end or not. There isn’t a clear set-up that there’ll be more St. Nacho’s books looming on the horizon, but I sure hope there are. I’d hate to see it end so soon.

Buy The Book of Daniel HERE.

Loose Id, Z.A. Maxfield

Jacob’s Ladder (St. Nacho’s #3) by Z.A. Maxfield

“Sex is full of lies. The body tries to tell the truth, but it’s usually too battered with rules to be heard, and bound with pretenses so it can hardly move. We cripple ourselves with lies.” – Jim Morrison

Sometimes the most destructive lies are the lies we try to convince ourselves are true. It’s emotionally crippling when we try to sell those lies to the world, to make people believe we’re someone we aren’t, feel things we don’t, don’t feel things we do. Jason “JT” Lents is a liar of the highest order because JT is in denial of who he is, how he feels; depriving himself of the right to his own truths, believing he can choose to resist and ignore the way his body craves something more, and dragging along into the mire a harem of women who will never make him yearn the way Jacob Livingston does.

JT is a man whose spirituality is waging war with his most fundamental desires. In this war there is only one campaign being fought, in which there will be only one casualty—JT’s own happiness. JT Lents is a fine example of a man whose heart and soul has been taught that the way he was made was a mistake and that the way he wants is wrong, when, in fact, the only wrong lies in the way JT believes. JT is living, breathing proof that somewhere between his God and his rule book something was lost in the translation by man.

JT has thrown himself fully into the breach of self-deception, and Jacob is the man who will be the ladder that connects him to a heaven he needs only to find the courage to reach out and embrace.

Jacob’s arrival in Santo Ignacio wasn’t exactly done on his terms, nor was it under the most ideal of circumstances, but he’s nothing if not a survivor, though the need for surviving comes in large part due to his profoundly awful taste in men. The final straw that sets his life on a new but equally thorny path is the beating he suffers at the hands of his lover, a beating that forces Jacob to understand there is something fundamentally broken inside him that he has carried with him from his childhood, a cycle of abuse he must crawl out from under if he is to find his peace.

As Santo Ignacio welcomes him, creeps into his being and wraps itself around him, as Jacob debates the wisdom and examines the enigma that is his connection with JT, he must choose to remain true to himself rather than to settle for being someone’s dirty little secret. But that choice is made ever more impossible by the fact that for Jacob, JT feels like home in a world within which they are both living in exile—JT from the truth and Jacob from the stillness that will come if he can find the place where he belongs.

For JT, the right thing to do is made clearer by the fact that the choice, and Jacob, were nearly taken from him. And sometimes it takes nearly losing someone to make you understand that you don’t want to live without him. It is the one sure thing that will help these two men bridge the gap between their desire and denial.

Jacob’s Ladder is the third book in the “St. Nacho’s” series, and undeniably has a very different feel to it than the first two installments. As narrator, it felt as though Jacob was overshadowed at times by the myriad characters that peopled his story, but it worked for me in a big way because sometimes in the telling of other people’s stories, it reveals more about the person telling the story than if he were to use the “I” to speak entirely of himself. I was left feeling frustrated and heartsick along the way in my longing for JT to finally come to the realization that he was living in a hell of his own making and that the only way to be delivered would be to follow Jacob into temptation. It was good to watch them finally succumb.

Buy Jacob’s Ladder HERE.

Loose Id, Z.A. Maxfield

Physical Therapy (St. Nacho’s #2) by Z.A. Maxfield

“When I stand before thee at the day’s end, thou shalt see my scars and know that I had my wounds and also my healing.” – Rabindranath Tagore

Jordan Jensen is responsible for the death of a three-year-old child. It took some time to reconcile himself to the role he played in that tragic and life altering event, and to accept responsibility for his part in that death, which was fueled by a fatal combination of drugs, alcohol, and utter arrogance. Prison, rehab, and leaving River Falls, Wisconsin were all part of the healing process in Jordan’s self-destruction. But that doesn’t mean Jordan is at all well. He fully understands that the key to redemption is not in forgetting the past, but in remembering it, wearing it like a scar on his soul so that he will never succumb to the temptation of his own weaknesses again. Jordan has worked hard to recreate himself, is now the sort of man who works to heal others, but he’s also a man who will never look for absolution from anyone because, at the end of the day, there’s no way he could ever forgive himself for his insolence.

Jordan lands himself in Santo Ignacio, California—a place that until then had been nothing more than a point on the map where Jordan’s best friend, Cooper Wyatt, had found his peace with his lover, Shawn Fielding. St. Nacho’s is the sort of place that seems to welcome the lost and broken, even when the lost and broken are not sure they’re welcome anywhere. All it takes is finding the right someplace and the right someone for Jordan to understand it’s the somewhere he could maybe call home.

Jordan is a massage therapist who specializes in athletic rehabilitation, and it’s those skills that land him a job at Day-Use Ex Machina, the local fitness center where a whole lot of divine intervention and a compassionate owner, Isabelle Atherton, could go a long way to helping him find his place in the world. What he never expected was for the hands of fate and the whims of irony to intervene so completely in the form of injured athlete, Ken Ashton, a man whose life, dreams, and hopes for a future in professional baseball were destroyed by a drunk driver.

The choice to get behind the wheel of Cooper’s truck and the aftermath of that choice is one that Jordan has relived a thousand times over in his memories. The horror of the accident that killed his best friend and left him both physically and emotionally crippled is one that Ken is still living as a waking nightmare. Both men serve as little more than a reminder to the other of the horror and destruction that can happen in a matter of moments; the past and the present are tangled up in a tumult of anger and resentment, pain and perdition, but it will take something as simple as the power of touch to open them both to the headlong fall into want and need and the agony of permission be together and to make each other whole again.

It takes no small amount of strength and courage for Ken to finally admit he isn’t the man everyone believed him to be. It also takes more than a few missteps on his part to finally get right with his feelings for Jordan and to claim him in the way Jordan needs to be claimed, and to convince Jordan that a future together is worth fighting the past for. Both men learn that healing doesn’t mean a return to the way things were before, but is a process of re-becoming the someone who is more than worthy of love.

I have to confess that I was a little nervous about moving straight on to Physical Therapy because I was afraid it wouldn’t be able to live up to my love of St. Nacho’s, but once again, Z.A. Maxfield made me fall truly, madly, and deeply in love with her broken heroes. This was an un-put-downable read, and I think I fell a little more in love with St. Nacho’s too, a town that’s every bit as important a character in this series as the people who inhabit it.

Buy Physical Therapy HERE.

Loose Id, Z.A. Maxfield

St. Nacho’s (St. Nacho’s #1) by Z.A. Maxfield

“Guilt is the source of sorrow; ’tis the fiend, the avenging fiend, that follows us behind with whips and stings.” – Nicholas Rowe

A guilty conscience provides the currency for emotional blackmail, a fair price to pay according to Cooper Wyatt, who, if guilt were gold, would be the wealthiest man on the planet. Cooper is still paying the emotional toll for an accident that took the life of a little boy, an accident that happened when he was too wasted to drive and handed over his keys to his then lover Jordan Jensen, who was in no better shape. A little boy lost his life that day, and in the aftermath, Cooper Wyatt lost his soul to the demons of shame.

Jordan went to prison, Cooper went to rehab, and now Cooper’s sober and running from those demons, the still small voices of blame that have gnawed away at him ever since. Cooper’s life reads like a tragedy in many ways: at one time, drugs and alcohol informed his self-destructive choices and brought a quick and decisive end to his time at the Julliard School, derailing a once promising career; now that he’s sober, the memories of the drug and alcohol abuse inform his choices of self-denial, namely the right to settle down and to find some sort of peace. Cooper’s life is spare and has been whittled down to his bike, his violin, and whatever pieces of his existence will fit into a duffle bag.

Three years of using his conscience as a compass was three years of directionless wandering, until Cooper rolled into the sleepy, seaside town of Santo Ignacio, happened upon a bar called Nacho’s, and met his future in the form of the beautiful Shawn Fielding, a man whose deafness is not a handicap to his ability to hear the sounds of Cooper’s pain exhaling from every part of himself.

St. Nacho’s is a story of running away, first from the past, then from the future. It’s a story of running toward something you didn’t know you could have, then turning away and running toward someone you feel you owe, regardless of it meaning you’re running away from the someone who could finally set you free. It’s about taking responsibility for your actions, but also about allowing yourself to forgive and realizing that, at some point, redemption can’t happen until you stop the self-flagellation long enough to let it set you free.

As the saying goes, “you can’t go home again,” and in Cooper’s case it’s true because home means living in a past with Jordan that will keep them both from moving on, and will keep Cooper from Shawn and the future they’re meant to share. But it’s also true that home isn’t a someplace but a someone, and wherever that someone is, is the place you’ll find your peace, and it’s the truth that is the light to welcome you there. It’s about hearing not with your ears but with your heart, and not speaking with your voice but with your Self, allowing your body language to cry out for what your very being needs but can’t say with words.

Z.A. Maxfield wrote the hell out of this book, which isn’t particularly eloquent but is true nonetheless. When an author can make me feel the agony of a man’s conviction to do what’s right as opposed to what’s easy, all at the cost of his own happiness as well as my own anxiety, I think that author has done the job of putting a small part of herself into the writing, which, for me, elevated St. Nacho’s to my list of all-time favorite reads.

Buy St. Nacho’s HERE.

Amy Lane, Dreamspinner Press

Mourning Heaven by Amy Lane

“Being deeply loved by someone gives you strength, while loving someone deeply gives you courage.” – Lao Tzu

Mourning Heaven is a story of bigotry in a small California town, where three boys will come of age but only two will survive the burning animosity aimed at them for their sins. It is a story that personifies the best and worst parts of the human condition, a story in which there are those who would eulogize self-righteousness. It’s a story that illuminates the sort of dogma that stirs hatred, flaunts the acrimony and sanctimony of those who believe themselves to be the good and the just, but who so conveniently forget the best parts of their faith, the parts that, if they were to abide, would expose their hypocrisy. The story is a prologue of grief but becomes an epilogue of belief born in the promise that love holds the ultimate authority over all things.

Mourning Heaven is the story of Bodi Kovacs, Michael Hickman and his cousin Peter Armbruster, three young men who are irrevocably bonded by love, guilt, anger, and the crushing grief of losing someone long before he was ever stolen by death.

It is the story of a boy who was idolized and beloved, a boy so full of spirit and courage and conviction that Peter believed he could never approach the bar of perfection Michael had set so high, when, in truth, Peter did the most important thing far better than Michael ever did—Peter loved Bodi with a passion so strong that when Bodi fell to pieces, felt shattered beyond all hope of salvation, it was Peter who was there to put Bodi together again and show him that loving and living sometimes means embracing the power of truth and thriving on the freedom that comes from relinquishing your heart to the one who will reassemble its remains into something new.

There is a Michael Hickman shaped hole in this book—a void that is the haunting likeness of a man whose burden of guilt and shame nearly crushed the two people who’d loved him most in the world, but who now must reconcile their loss and anger and betrayal with grief and forgiveness and a future that will mean something more because it’s built on the remains of a past that has shaped, for better and worse, who Peter and Bodi have become.

There are some books that you know are going to be emotionally eloquent before you ever read the first sentence. Amy Lane’s Mourning Heaven is one of those books. It is a story that is articulate in a way only the best dramatic stories can be, tugging at the heart while also burrowing into the conscience, and giving the reader the ammunition to soldier through it because s/he knows that the long-suffering souls of its characters will be redeemed in the end by the strength and healing that can only be found in the kind of love that is patient and kind and dares to hope and persevere.

Buy Mourning Heaven HERE.

Ethan Day, Resplendence Publishing

Love in La Terraza by Ethan Day

“A very small degree of hope is sufficient to cause the birth of love.” – Stendhal

Cain Elliott has exhausted his hope to its very dregs, scraping through his reserves to come out at rock bottom with the certainty that he’s going to lose not only his home but the homes of his colorful and quirky tenants as well. La Terraza is the majestic old apartment building he inherited from his grandmother, the kind of place where, if walls could talk, you can be certain the stories you’d hear would be ones that would make you sit up and listen.

La Terraza has slowly been falling into a state of disrepair, a condition that Cain can’t keep up with financially because he’s the sort of landlord who cares more about the people who are a kind of surrogate family to each other than he does about the fact that he could raise their rents to cover the expense of the upkeep on his architectural masterpiece. Cain is between the proverbial rock and hard place because a corporation wants to buy his property, but to sell would mean to give up on his grandmother’s dream. To sell would mean to sell out and to surrender, and that’s not how Cain Elliott is made. Not to sell, though, means he and his tenants lose their homes anyway, which leaves Cain with little more to choose from than the lesser of two evils. It’s a hard position to be in when losing the place you’ve come to love means losing a part of who you are in the process.

Meeting the new man in town, Henry Abrams, doesn’t really untangle all the snags in Cain’s life, a life that’s as spare and stripped down as it could possibly be, yet is entirely complicated in spite of that simplicity. Cain’s designs on the architect, in fact, add yet another layer to the already complex set of issues he’s facing, especially when Cain discovers that Henry is working for “the enemy”, the architectural firm that is working to facilitate the sale of La Terraza to a real estate developer, not to preserve the classic building, but to tear it down. It’s the sort of maneuver that helps one to clearly understand that corporations are not people, which becomes even clearer when it’s revealed who is behind the manipulation and foul play. Business is business, and the corporate manipulator behind this deal is entirely without conscience.

Love in La Terraza is the story of two men who meet by chance but begin to build a relationship with clear intent, a relationship based on an undeniable chemistry and a bond that seems to run much deeper than the all-consuming sexual connection they’ve made. It’s a bond built on hopes and desires too, and it’s that need for each other that changes priorities and overcomes obstacles.

This is romantic Ethan Day, with all the charm and wit and brightly animated characters I’ve come to expect in his books.

Buy Love in La Terraza HERE.

Carina Press, L.B. Gregg

Mistletoe at Midnight by L.B. Gregg

“‘Maybe Christmas,’ he thought, ‘doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more!’” – Dr. Seuss

I know it’s a little early to be pushing holiday books. Or maybe, in this case, I’m a little late, seeing as how this book came out in December of 2010. Well, better late than never, as the saying goes, which is pretty much what this lovely little Christmas romance is all about. It’s about the one that got away; it’s about second chances and the fact that it’s better to be fifteen years late reconnecting with your first love than never to have reconnected with him at all. It’s about having everything to gain and nothing to lose and stripping away all the boundaries you’ve built around yourself and embracing the one from your past who will, from this day forward, be your future.

Caleb Black left Owen McKenzie when they were both just eighteen-years-old, but not by his own choice. Caleb was the kid whose father couldn’t stand the thought of having a gay son, so he sent Caleb away to military school to rid himself of the daily reminder of his son’s perceived shortcomings. Caleb couldn’t find it in himself to say goodbye to Owen, and as the weeks turned into months, the months to years, enough time passed that Caleb began to believe in the suggestion that maybe what he and Owen had shared was more fiction than fact in Caleb’s mind, and it was best to leave the past buried in the past.

Enter one meddlesome brother and a best friend who both know neither Owen nor Caleb have ever truly gotten over each other; mix that with an ex who shows up at a decidedly inopportune time, a huge measure of serendipity, a snowstorm, as well as a sprig of mistletoe, and you’ve got the makings of a full-circle romance between two men who’re meant to be, though it took some help to connect the dots, and a long time for them to come together and close that circle.

Mistletoe at Midnight is a story about a first love that’s ingrained so deeply inside that it feels as though it’s always been a part of you, a feeling that never faded but was there all along, and all it needed was for a spark to be lit in order for it to burn again. It’s that love that’s the true gift and the miracle that makes this novella a pretty wonderful and very feel-good sort of read.

Buy Mistletoe at Midnight in .ePub HERE, and .mobi HERE.

JMS Books LLC, Paul Alan Fahey

Small Gems – When the Right One Comes Along by Paul Alan Fahey

“It’s so easy to fall in love but hard to find someone who will catch you.” – Unknown

When the Right One Comes Along is a short story that begins in the mid-80s, when AIDS was just starting to make the transition from obscure illness to public health crisis, when a young boy named Ryan White was fighting for the right to attend public school, and Rock Hudson became the first celebrity to succumb to the disease. It was a time when fear of all the unknowns of the virus and how it was transmitted caused a backlash of panic and extreme measures to attempt to slow down the spread of the illness. It was a time when it was believed a mere kiss could be potentially fatal.

This is the story of Philip Noland, who loses his best friend Jonathan, then begins to fear he too might have AIDS when the night sweats and trembling of his stress and anxiety put the fear in him because they so closely resemble symptoms of the disease. But in spite of that fear, Philip is also a man who is still very much looking for love and someone to share his life with, though looking and finding leads Philip into a relationship that ends in a heartbreaking way but ultimately leads him to The One who will stand beside him for many years to come.

Orson Welles once said, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.” Had When the Right One Comes Along ended any sooner, it would have been regarded as a tragic romance, but Paul Alan Fahey kept Philip’s story going just long enough to give him his happily-ever-after, which, in the end, is the best we can ever hope for.

Buy When the Right One Comes Along HERE.

Dreamspinner Press, Mary Calmes

Steamroller by Mary Calmes

“Love is not finding someone you can live with; it’s finding someone you can’t live without.” – Unknown

Carson Cress is the most invisible man on the Everson University campus. That’s not to say everyone doesn’t see the gorgeous star quarterback destined for the NFL, though. It’s to say that no one sees Carson as anything but the gorgeous star quarterback destined for the NFL. Carson Cress is the young man who fell asleep inside himself, and Carson-The-Jock is the façade he shows to the world because that seems to be all the world is interested in seeing. It’s not until a kiss awakens the Carson who is meant to be that he can become the Carson who is loved for someone other than who he seemed destined to become.

Being courted by the media, adored by the sycophants, catered to by the awe struck who hope for nothing more than a little bit of Carson’s cachet to trickle down to them, underestimated in his intellect, and living a life that’s been expected of him, a life he’s been groomed for rather than the life he expects to live for himself, hasn’t accustomed Carson to hearing the word “no” very often…if ever. The one sure thing this semi-charmed kind of life has prepared him for, though, is to take risks because taking risks means being in charge, although sometimes those risks aren’t for the better but the worse.

Carson Cress is a force with which to be reckoned, in his own subdued way. He is a fury like a force of nature when he homes in on what it is he truly desires; he is the calm in the eye of the storm; he is the passionate storm in the eye of his beholder, Vincent Wade, the one who dared to tell Carson “no”, the one who dared to challenge Carson to wake up and live rather than merely to exist, the one who is overwhelmed by the intensity with which Carson Cress wants and needs, the one who is loved breathtakingly when Carson refuses to take that “no” for an answer. Vince is the one who touches Carson and makes him feel—everything, everywhere, in every way—for the first time in his life.

Vince is the dreamer who dreams of things bigger than himself. But he is also the young man who has a difficult time dreaming of and believing in a reality in which the kind of love Carson shows him is a kind of love on which he can build a future, because it’s the kind of love that, once you’ve experienced it, you know you’ll never be able to live without. It is a defining kind of love that changes the rules, the kind of love that makes you want things you never imagined wanting before, the kind of love that makes you more because it’s the kind of love that makes you whole.

Steamroller is a gorgeous story about not letting life happen to you but reaching out and grabbing hold if what it is that will make your life happen for you.

It is a story told in Vincent Wade’s voice, but that voice is the architect of Carson Cress, it is the voice that allows the reader to see Carson for who he is when Carson isn’t so sure himself. Vince becomes the compass by which Carson sets his course, especially when the course of the journey changes, a journey that seems guaranteed a long and passionate life. This is a consummate romance, the sort of love about which Shakespeare wrote when he said, “Love is a smoke raised with the fume of sighs.” And when the smoke clears, it’s a fire that burns hot and bright and leaves something new for the two men in its wake.

Buy Steamroller HERE.

Carina Press, L.B. Gregg, Uncategorized

Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn by L.B. Gregg

“At the first kiss I felt something melt inside me that hurt in an exquisite way.” – Hermann Hesse

Michael Finnegan has been called a lot of things in his life: unorthodox, lax, a slutty nonconformist, which, when you’re standing in a man’s office with your fly unzipped and your naughty bits exposed after you’ve just thrown yourself at him and he’s just taken you over his desk…then fired you… Yeah, those are difficult character definitions to overcome. But Maxwell Douglas does something to Finn, makes him feel things he’s never felt before—namely, Max makes Finn feel humiliation and regret, more than anything at times, for his attraction to the cold and imposing Marine-turned-security-specialist. But Max also makes Finn feel alive in a way he’s never felt before, and Finn will stay alive if Max has anything to say about it.

Hemmi Sparks is one of Finn’s privileged students at a tony prep school in Smithfield, who, it appears, might be in some danger from a fan who’s been creeping on Hemmi’s celebrity father. Enter Max, who has been hired to make like Hemmi’s shadow at school, and what you get is a fair amount of friction between two men that seem determined to be little more than the thorns in each other’s sides. That is, if they could keep their hands and lips to themselves long enough to discover there’s something more going on between them than just sex and conflict.

There’s also much more going on at Dalton Prep High School than a celebrity stalker, and it soon becomes evident that the threat to Hemmingway Sparks may be a home-grown kind of danger that’s targeted at someone other than just Hemmi. It’s a danger that will drive the typically unshakable Max Douglas to distraction, and is a danger that’s so impossible for Finn to imagine that he makes the near-fatal error of underestimating the power of crazy. But, as they say, that’s show biz.

Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn is dependably good entertainment from L.B. Gregg. 99% of the fun of this author’s books is the witty banter, the comedic internal dialogue of her first person narrators, the frequently hysterical situations her characters find themselves in (everyone knows the toaster is the kitchen’s bravest appliance, after all), not to mention the sizzling sexual chemistry between her heroes. The other 1% is just everything else a great read can and should be, and those are the things that make me burn through her books, while, at the same time, wishing they’d never end.

Buy Men of Smithfield: Max and Finn in EPUB format HERE, MOBI/PRC HERE.

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC

Small Gems – Singing Alone by Jennifer Cierra

“This hole in my heart is in the shape of you and no one else can fit.” – Jeanette Winterson

Cole Grayson’s life is a lie: the celebrity, the wife, the unborn child. All of these things are the pretense of perfection, the façade that reflects to the world a distorted reality and misrepresents the truth that five years earlier, Cole’s true dreams and desires went up in smoke, and his existence is now merely an inadequate substitute for living.

Five years earlier, two seventeen-year-old boys, Cole and Jake Walker, fell in love not only with each other but with a dream of pop-stardom, a dream of making it together to the big time. It was a dream cut short when Jake went missing and is presumed dead after a house fire from which Cole was told there was no hope Jake might’ve escaped.

It’s now five years later and Cole Grayson’s voice and music have brought him everything he and Jake had ever wanted—everything except the truth and the joy that ought to have come along with it, everything that ought to have belonged to Jake because these were Jake’s dreams. The wealth and fame are nothing more than a sorry substitute and pretense for the happiness that only Jake could give Cole. But sometimes the substitute for the real thing is the best you can hope for when everything else can only pale in comparison.

And sometimes finding that substitute is less coincidence than it is synchronicity because that person exists for a very specific reason, and that person is the one who will bring order from the chaos that fate sometimes sees fit to make you suffer through in order for you to recognize the miracle of the second chance you’ve been given.

Singing Alone is a story of redemption and of survival. It is a story of the strength and courage to survive in spite of the pain that living means. I loved it, plain and simple; so much so that I read it twice because the emotional pull was strong enough, and the characters and writing seductive enough that I wasn’t ready for the story to end. I’d have loved to have seen this one expanded a bit to show some of the events of the in between years, but that didn’t diminish how much I loved what I got.

Buy Singing Alone HERE.

Jennifer Cierra, JMS Books LLC

Small Gems – Melting Wax and Burning Feathers by Jennifer Cierra

“Never regret thy fall, O Icarus of the fearless flight
For the greatest tragedy of them all
Is never to feel the burning light.”
– Oscar Wilde

Jennifer Cierra’s Melting Wax and Burning Feathers is a short, beautifully written story that I found myself wishing had gone on for much longer than it did, but only because I was so invested in what would become of the characters, not because I felt cheated by the story in any way.

This is a tale of dreamers and of dreams, of unfulfilled hopes and of desires not yet realized. It’s the story of Gregory Daniels, a man who’d at one time dreamt of reaching for the stars but came crashing back to earth when he lost his partner, Carl, to the lure of the needle from which false, fluid promises flow. Now Gregory is grounded in the reality of a job he hates, though it pays the bills, and he lives with a talent he’s buried in the past, knowing he could still fly but lacks the courage to take the risk.

It is the story of Paul Ashton, an aspiring young musician freshly arrived in the City of Angels, busking for odd change and dreaming of the day his music will send him soaring toward the sun. Paul catches Gregory’s ear with his raw talent and soulful sound, inspiring both admiration and jealousy of the newly minted possibilities, all those possibilities Gregory himself couldn’t realize.

Someone falls into your life by chance, stays for a short time, but in that time reminds you that it’s never too late to dream; then he flies away to follow his own dreams—it’s a lovely way for a man to come to terms with the fact that he’s sold out and it’s now time to grab hold of the life he’s meant to live.

Melting Wax and Burning Feathers may offer only a happy-for-now ending, but it was pretty easy to imagine that the future was going to be a place where Gregory and Paul would make some sweet music together for a long time to come.

Buy Melting Wax and Burning Feathers HERE.

Evernight Publishing, James Cox

The Outlaw’s Lover by James Cox

“Love is the ultimate outlaw. It just won’t adhere to any rules. The most any of us can do is to sign on as its accomplice.” – Tom Robbins

The Outlaw’s Lover is the third installment in James Cox’s erotic “Manlove at the End of the World” series, a series that takes place in a post-apocalyptic America after a deadly virus has diminished the country’s population and left its survivors vulnerable to a now lawless nation, where vigilante justice, zealotry, and sanctimony threaten to bring an end to practical freedoms.

Eighteen months after the virus, Rian Ampledorf is alone, hungry and fighting to fend off the predators and scavengers who do nothing more than take advantage of the new world order, choosing to prey on the seemingly weak and defenseless, becoming the disease for which there is no cure. But Rian is a survivor, a self-described geeky coward who proves that a healthy dose of fear and pragmatism means he’ll live to see another day.

Adopted by members of a new colony that is more cult than community, a place that’s been dubbed Heaven but is more like Hell on Earth, Rian believes for a moment that he’s found a safe haven from a man its citizens call the Outlaw, but soon discovers it’s a place where you either embrace the crazy, drink the Kool-Aid, or you’ll find yourself the sacrificial lamb to the Almighty as penance for being unable and unwilling to be fruitful and multiply.

Enter Drake, the Aussie Outlaw, a man to whom Rian is immediately attracted, but a man Rian isn’t sure he can or should trust; until, that is, Rian witnesses firsthand that the patients are in charge of the asylum; then he must choose survival or surrender, and Drake is the key.

If you’ve read The Last Cowboy and The Three Hour Man, you’ll recognize The Outlaw’s Lover faithfully follows the blueprint for the series—stories of men who love love and lust and sex and manage to go about the business of living after the business of dying has left them lonely and looking for connection.

Buy The Outlaw’s Lover HERE.