3.5 Stars, Eli Easton, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Jules, Self-Published

Review: Midwinter Night’s Dream by Eli Easton

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Midwinter Night’s Dream

Author: Eli Easton

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 121 Pages

At a GlanceI’m a massive Eli Easton fangirl, she knocks so many things out of the park, but this one left me wanting.

Reviewed By: Jules

Blurb: Micah is the hippest, most chill guy on campus. But when he gets the hottest kiss of his life from a cute guy during a game of ‘spin the bottle’, Micah’s cool turns into a puddle of anxious goo. Sure, Micah’s always been a little bi-curious, but he never thought he’d pursue a guy, much less a guy who doesn’t seem to be interested in getting caught.

Leo is passionate about two things: gay rights activism and acting. He stays focused and in control, and he never, ever, dates straight guys. When a chance spin of a bottle at a party has him locking lips with Micah Springfield, president of the Delts, dread-headed, serial-dating, straight Micah, Leo is determined to forget about it, no matter how incendiary the sparks or how gorgeous Micah may be.

Leo has bigger problems. His senior project is directing Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream just before the Christmas break. When his venue cancels at the last minute, Micah offers the use of his parent’s barn in rural Pennsylvania. Leo’s play may be saved, but what about his heart? Between Micah’s sweet lips, his family’s welcoming arms, and a devious bulldog who is determined to play Puck, Leo may find himself falling under the spell of Christmas magic.

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Review: Eli Easton’s Midwinter Night’s Dream was one of my most anticipated holiday reads this year. After falling in love with the Springfields in last year’s Unwrapping Hank, I couldn’t wait for Micah’s story. Smooth, mellow, cooler than the other side of the pillow Micah. Who would he be paired with? How would it all play out? Would we get to see much of Hank and Sloan? For the most part I was happy with the story, but I have to admit that this one had a few misses for me also.

The characters were a hit. I really do love Micah. I actually had a very dear friend in school who was (and still is) just like Micah. Got along with everyone, great to hang out with, gorgeous – the whole package. And, I thought Leo was a good match for Micah. The early spin-the-bottle scene, where the guys kiss for the first time, was super fun and smokin’ hot. These guys definitely had great chemistry! In fact, I loved Micah’s whole overall reaction to Leo. His fondness and admiration for him felt so genuine and really shone through. He was completely smitten with Leo; it was adorable.

The setting was another hit.  I love reading NA books, and always think the college settings are fun…but, in this case I’m talking about when the storyline takes us to Micah’s parents’ home. The Springfield farm at Christmas is so magical in my mind. I absolutely ate up Eli Easton’s descriptions of the barn, and the snowy fields, trees, etc., during the snow shoeing scene. I can so clearly picture the beauty. I also thought all of the play stuff was fun – the idea for Leo’s senior project was fantastic, and it was the perfect catalyst for bringing everything together.

There were absolutely many things to be enjoyed in this book, but, unfortunately, it’s time to talk about the misses, the biggest one being the ‘extra’ storyline with Leo’s best friend, Helen, and Micah’s almost-girlfriend, Yasmine. First of all, I have no issue whatsoever with F/F stories. If the addition of this bit into the book was a device for Eli to introduce Helen and Yas because she intends to write a lesbian story, that’s fine. I could see that intention. Furthermore, this has NOTHING to do with “not wanting girl-bits in my M/M books.” I simply thought it didn’t work here. It felt forced, or thrown in. Yas gave me whiplash with how quickly she goes from not quite getting that Micah doesn’t like her like that, to making out with Helen.

And, directly related to the above is the fact that I would have much rather had more page time with Micah and Leo. We simply just didn’t have enough of them together. The times that they were together were fantastic – Spin-the-bottle…fabulous snow-shoeing scene…hot barn sex – I wish there had been more. There were also two quick mentions of Micah having a possible submissive streak – when he melted into their first kiss, and then Leo later muses about it as well – that I SOOO wish would have been further explored.

I’m a massive Eli Easton fangirl, she knocks so many things out of the park, but this one left me wanting. Wanting more Micah and Leo time…more holiday time…definitely more out of the epilogue. It just felt like it wrapped up too darn quickly for how long it took them to get together. Do I still recommend it? Of course. I mean, Christmas novella! Awesome glimpses of Sloane and Hank! There’s still plenty of charm – it just wasn’t my favorite one of her stories.

TNA_Signature_Jules

 

 

 

 

You can buy Midwinter Night’s Dream here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

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4.5 Stars, Annabelle Jacobs, Holiday Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Release Day Review: Magic & Mistletoe

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Magic & Mistletoe

Author: Annabelle Jacobs

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 114 Pages

At a Glance: Annabelle Jacobs has the recipe for holiday magic and romance all sewn up in a sweet little package in Magic & Mistletoe.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Christmas is Harry’s favourite time of the year, but it looks like he’ll be spending it alone. When it comes to the men he fancies, his luck is non-existent. Harry’s nerves always get the better of him—especially when he tries to talk to Andrew, the hot guy downstairs.

Everything changes when Harry meets a mysterious girl in the woods who professes to be a witch. He dismisses her claims, but when odd things start happening to him, he has to reconsider.

Andrew was attracted to Harry from the start, but their awkward encounters put him off. All goes well until Harry opens his mouth—and ruins it with his stupidity and silly comments. When Harry suddenly becomes more relaxed and they have a proper conversation, Andrew realises his first impression was wrong. As the days count down to December 25, they get swept up in the Christmas spirit and their relationship moves faster than either expected.

A little winter magic might have been the push they needed, but Harry worries that when it wears off, he’ll no longer be the man Andrew wants.

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Review: Harry has a problem with overstating the obvious. He gets tongue tied and has a tendency to blurt out the first thing that comes to mind—even if that thing makes him look like a bit of a git for pointing out stuff that doesn’t need pointing out. He’s gotten so tongue-tied around his sexy neighbor, and has managed a near perfect record of saying the wrong thing at the right time, that Andrew thinks Harry’s nothing but a big jerk. Which sucks for Harry because Andrew is a guy he’d really love to know better.

Annabelle Jacobs has the recipe for holiday magic and romance all sewn up in a sweet little package in Magic & Mistletoe, a title I couldn’t resist any more than I could its adorable cover. A walk through the woods with his friends brings Harry face to face with a woodland nymph who decides to take matters into her own hands where Harry’s concerned, and gives him the gift that keeps on giving—namely, the ability to keep his gob shut when he’s about to put his foot in it again.

Little coincidences, surprise favors, helpful nudges (a fortuitously placed mistletoe here and there) all serve to bring Harry and Andrew together. And then, of course, the magic isn’t only of the supernatural variety, if you catch my drift. It turns out that these two guys are pretty great together. But… is that because of Harry’s interfering helper? And if so, what possible hope does Harry have of keeping Andrew once the spell wears off and Harry goes back to being his usual tongue-tied self? This is where we get a little bit of angst in this otherwise feel-good holiday romance, just enough to give us a reason to cheer for the story’s happy ending.

It’s a good thing Christmas comes but once a year because I don’t think my heart could take being warmed so thoroughly the other twelve months. Magic & Mistletoe is another check mark in the winter romance win column, and a book that’s sure to bring you a little holiday cheer.

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You can buy Magic & Mistletoe here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Amazon UK

Amazon CA

Amazon CA

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5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Karen, Rhys Ford

Release Day Review: Fish Stick Fridays by Rhys Ford

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Amazon

Amazon

TitleFish Stick Fridays (Half Moon Bay: Book One)

Author:  Rhys Ford

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Page/Word Count:  200 Pages

At a Glance:  As much as I love all of Rhys series, and I’m sad some are coming to an end, I’m thrilled at such an awesome beginning to a new one.

Reviewed By:  Karen

Blurb: Deacon Reid was born bad to the bone with no intention of changing. A lifetime of law-bending and living on the edge suited him just fine—until his baby sister died and he found himself raising her little girl.

Staring down a family history of bad decisions and reaped consequences, Deacon cashes in everything he owns, purchases an auto shop in Half Moon Bay, and takes his niece, Zig, far away from the drug dens and murderous streets they grew up on. Zig deserves a better life than what he had, and Deacon is determined to give it to her.

Lang Harris is stunned when Zig, a little girl in combat boots and a purple tutu blows into his bookstore, and then he’s left speechless when her uncle, Deacon Reid walks in, hot on her heels. Lang always played it safe but Deacon tempts him to step over the line… just a little bit.

More than a little bit. And Lang is willing to be tempted.

Unfortunately, Zig isn’t the only bit of chaos dropped into Half Moon Bay. Violence and death strikes leaving Deacon scrambling to fight off a killer before he loses not only Zig but Lang too.

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Review: I always forget, until I read Rhys Ford, how much the little details in a book can help paint the picture and add to the experience of reading. And yes, reading one of Rhys Ford’s books is an experience.

In Fish Stick Fridays (along with every other book I’ve read by this author), she does an amazing job with the details. While reading, you can almost see, feel, smell, hear and touch what’s happening around the characters you’re reading about, and she does it without being wordy or drawn out. Such talent.  I’ve decided that I can no longer say every one of her books is my new favorite. I think they are all amazing, and this is another to add to the list.

I wasn’t even a quarter of the way into the book and was already head over heels for Deacon; how he is with Zig, still on edge, bad ass, protective, patient, and she pretty much has him wrapped around her little finger. I mean, really, how can you not love him when he is willing to put on a tutu for her? I loved it!

Zig was probably my favorite character in the book. If I were ever to have a kid, I would almost hope they would be as awesome as Zig. Well, no, but I wouldn’t mind having a niece or nephew that awesome.

The relationship between Deacon and Lang is sweet and chaotic, but I thoroughly enjoyed watching them figure it all out one day at a time, amongst all the craziness happening around them.  As much as I love all of Rhys Ford’s series, and I’m sad some are coming to an end, I’m thrilled at such an awesome beginning to a new one.

TNA_Signature_Karen

 

 

 

 

You can buy Fish Stick Fridays here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

All Romance eBooks

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The Prose Speak

The Prose Speak: Building a Better Website by Lynley Wayne

Author Website pt3

In this post I’m going to talk about all the things an author website should have. These are all pretty obvious and yet I see authors in all stages of their careers that are missing one or more of these things.

You should have a BOOKS tab; someplace where you have a list of all your books. For each book you need to have the cover, the blurb, and buy links. Those are absolute musts. If you’ve won any awards or been nominated for any awards for a book, then be sure to add that as well. An excerpt from the book is optional, but I would suggest adding one because it allows people to see a sample of your writing. Another thing to consider would be quotes from reviews, along with a link to that review.

You should also have an ABOUT ME or BIO page. On it you should have two versions of your bio; the long one you use in the back of your books, and a shorter version. If you use an author photo, I would suggest having it on your bio pages, along with all social media links, and your email address.

When it comes to social media links, make sure they are sites you actually use. If you have ten different social media accounts, but you only use two, then there’s no sense in listing the others. The point of having a list of social media accounts is so readers can find you.

Speaking of finding you… I suggest having a CONTACT page. This will allow for readers to easily ask you questions or rave about how much they love your work. Most templates have a premade form for that kind of thing. If your website template doesn’t, then on your contact page it should have a way for readers to get in touch with you. I suggest writing out your email address. email(at)mail(dot)com

If you have a blog, then make sure it’s easy to find, and updated on a regular basis—even if that means once a month. The same applies for anyone who has a FAQ page as well. I check my FAQ page every few months to make sure nothing has changed.

Newsletters are something a lot of authors use. If you have a newsletter, then be sure there is a sign up sheet on your website, or a link to your sign up sheet.

For authors who do a lot of public appearances, like book signings or conventions, then make sure you have a designated place on your website to list all the places you’re going to be appearing.

The main thing to keep in mind when designing a website is this; readers are going to visit your website to find information about your and your books. Make it as easy on them as possible. If they have to go hunting through pages and pages in order to find the information they’re looking for, odds are they’re going to leave without finding it. All information should be able to be found within a maximum of three clicks. Things should be clearly labeled and easy to read.

Your website doesn’t have to be fancy, but it must be functional. Otherwise, what’s the point of having one?

And the last piece of advice I can give you is to do routine maintenance on your site. Check for things like broken links and that all your information is current.

If you have an questions about designing your website or how to improve your website, please feel free to email me at lynleywayne(at)gmail(dot)com, use the contact form on my website www.lynleywayne.com, or leave a comment on this post.

Banner_LynleyWayne.com

 

Lynley WayneLynley was a 2014 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. She published her first book in September of 2012 and hasn’t looked back. When not writing she can found reading or coming up with creative ways to avoid housework. While Lynley Wayne may be a pen name, the woman behind it is very real and believes everyone is entitled to their own version of happiness. She looks forward to the day when who, or how, we love is no longer an issue.

Website || Twitter: @LynleyWayne || Facebook || Facebook Page

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Damon Suede, Giveaways, Karen Stivali, Santino Hassell

Excerpts and Giveaway: The #NYCDreamer Blog Tour with Karen Stivali, Santino Hassell, and Damon Suede

NYC Dreamer BAnner

We’re so pleased to be hosting authors Karen Stivali, Santino Hassell, and Damon Suede on the #NYCDreamer blog tour today. Enjoy the exclusive excerpts from each of books, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an autographed paperback copy of each book.

Good luck!

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MomentofSilenceBlurb – Moment of Silence: Growing up, Jason Stern led a charmed life complete with devoted sisters, a father who was one of Brooklyn’s most respected rabbis, and a mother who made the world’s best babka. He headed to NYU ready for anything—except falling for the wrong guy, coming out, and getting disowned by his once-loving family. In spite of that, Jason managed to graduate with honors. He’s got friends who treat him like family, and he’s proudly running the largest LGBTQ teen shelter in Manhattan. Life is good, but he’s still falling for the wrong men.

When charming, sexy Quinn Fitzpatrick begins work at the shelter, Jason falls hard and fast. Quinn is tall, blond, funny—damn near perfect. Only if Quinn’s gay, even he doesn’t seem to know it. If he does, he’s not telling anyone. And he’s about one ceremony away from becoming a Catholic priest.

Long hours of work turn to long nights of talking and laughter, and Jason dares to hope this time he’s falling for the right guy. But Quinn’s got a past to deal with and major decisions to make about his future. When Quinn leaves for a silent retreat, Jason knows the silence may change everything.

Pre-Order Link: Dreamspinner Press

Other books in the Moments In Time seriesMOMENT OF IMPACT (Book 1) || MOMENT OF TRUTH (Book 2) || MOMENT OF CLARITY (Book 3) || MOMENTS IN TIME (a compilation of Books 1-3)

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Excerpt(In this scene Jason and Quinn have gone out to grab a bite to eat together and Jason is teaching Quinn the joys of all the ethnic foods that are so readily available in the area of the East Village where they’re working together to expand the local LGBTQ Teen Shelter.)

Pierogi were just what the evening required. We got two orders, potato with fried onions and cheese, doused in butter. To round things out, we added a gigantic link of kielbasa and finished it all off with blueberry blintzes. By the time we were done eating, I was so full I could barely move.

“This was awesome.” Quinn licked a purple streak of blueberry off his fork before setting it down and pushing his plate away.

I was too mesmerized by the sight of his tongue to speak right away.

The waitress stopped at our booth. “All set?”

“Yeah, thanks.”

She placed the paper check between us, and Quinn reached for it, but I grabbed it first. “I’ve got this one. Make up for the popcorn you gave away.”

“You don’t have to do that.” He pulled out his wallet and put a twenty on the table.

“You can’t let anyone do anything for you, can you?”

Quinn’s eyes bugged, then softened. “Yeah, I guess I do have a problem with that sometimes.”

“Sometimes?”

“Okay, most of the time.”

“You know what they say. The first step is admitting you have a problem. And the second is letting me pay for dinner.” I stuck the check and enough money for the meal and tip under the glass sugar shaker, then grabbed Quinn’s twenty, folded it in half, leaned over, and tucked it into his shirt pocket.

My fingers were in the pocket before I fully realized what I was doing. Then the whole universe condensed into the drag of my fingers on that two-inch-square area of his chest. His rock-solid chest that tightened the instant I made contact. My own chest froze, devoid of air. I’d forgotten how to breathe. All I could do was think about the fact that I had my hand on this man who’d consumed my waking and sleeping hours for weeks. And I had to let go. Literally.

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Karen StivaliAbout the Author: Karen Stivali is a prolific writer, compulsive baker and chocoholic with a penchant for books, movies, and fictional British men. She’s also the multiple award-winning author of contemporary and erotic romances. She writes novels about love…like real life, only hotter.

Karen’s lifelong fascination with people has led her to careers ranging from hand-drawn animator, to party planner, to marriage and family counselor, but writing has always been her passion. Karen enjoys nothing more than following her characters on their journey toward love. Whether the couples are m/f or m/m, it’s guaranteed that Karen’s novels are filled with food, friendship, love, and smoking hot sex—all the best things in life.

When Karen isn’t writing (and often when she is), she can be found on Twitter attempting witty banter and detailing the antics of her fruit-loving cat, BadKitteh. She loves to hear from readers (and other writers), so don’t hesitate to contact/follow/like her at:

Twitter || Facebook || Website || Pinterest || Goodreads || E-mail

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SunsetParkFSBlurb – Sunset Park (A Five Boroughs Story): Raymond Rodriguez’s days of shoving responsibility to the wayside are over. His older brother wants to live with his boyfriend, so Raymond has to get his act together and find a place of his own. But when out-and-proud David Butler offers to be his roommate, Raymond agrees for reasons other than needing a place to crash.

David is Raymond’s opposite in almost every way—he’s Connecticut prim and proper while Raymond is a sarcastic longshoreman from Queens—but their friendship is solid. Their closeness surprises everyone as does their not-so-playful flirtation, since Raymond has always kept his bicurious side a secret.

Once they’re under the same roof, flirting turns physical, and soon their easy camaraderie is in danger of being lost to frustrating sexual tension and the stark cultural differences that set them apart. Now Raymond not only has to commit to his new independence—he has to commit to his feelings for David or risk losing him for good.

Pre-Order Link: Dreamspinner Press

Other Books in the Five Boroughs SeriesSUTPHIN BOULEVARD || Book 2: FIRST AND FIRST coming in April 2016

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Excerpt: St. Mark’s Place was crowded with the usual blend of posers, hipsters, and NYU students. I only knew the place had once been a haven for punks and alternative rocker kids because Oli got all woe is me about it, even though he’d transformed himself from a teen who had used safety pins instead of zippers to a guy who wouldn’t go anywhere without a shiny, wingtip shoe. The only surviving relics of that era seemed to be the street vendors selling pipes and bongs, a thrift shop that catered to the eccentric, and an overpriced punk rock boutique that I could not step in without feeling like an intruder.

“I used to cut school down here when I was a kid,” Raymond noted as we bypassed the new high-rise buildings that were being constructed along St. Mark’s Place.

“Haven’t been back in a minute.”

“What did you do down here?”

Raymond gave a rolling shrug, eyes flicking over cramped doorways leading to narrow gift shops and eateries. “It didn’t used to be tourist central. There was a tattoo and piercing shop down those stairs that didn’t card me,” he said, jerking his chin across the street. The place he was talking about was almost hidden by a staircase leading up to a brownstone, and more stalls with snarky tourist gifts. One vendor was selling an array of neon wigs. “And The Continental was a venue for indie bands. Now it’s just some bar.”

“I didn’t take you for the indie band type,” I said. “Or I wouldn’t have before I scoped out your Spotify playlists.”

“You really do be snooping, don’t you?”

“I’m a curious person.”

“You’re a creeper.”

If only he knew just how creepy I could be. Like watching him sleep for a few minutes before waking him up in the morning (Raymond almost always hit snooze on his alarm enough times to actually be late), or wearing his hoodies or sweaters not just because the excess fabric was cozy, but because they smelled like him. But he hadn’t yet caught on to those things, and I wasn’t going to tell him.

We walked to the end of the block before veering down a short staircase to the Afghan restaurant. It was mostly empty except for a few couples sitting at the tables around the perimeter of the dim space, so I pleaded with the hostess to seat us at the elevated table by the window with the masses of cushions in lieu of chairs. It was swathed in gold and maroon, overly decadent, but it made me want to squish in next to Raymond instead of sitting across from him. I lingered by the side of the table until he rolled his eyes and scooted over to make room for me. Us sitting next to each other looked exceptionally gay, but Raymond either didn’t notice or didn’t care.

We ordered mantoo and ashe soup, two different kebabs, and a quorma dish to share. I also pointedly ignored Raymond’s snickers as I ordered peach flavored hookah. The hookah went mostly ignored while we sampled the food, primarily because eating off the same plate as Raymond in public was making me conscious of details I would have otherwise ignored. How his body was half turned to me, our knees pressed together, the way he leaned in to reach something and did not shy away when I automatically pushed back his hair. Many simple, easy moments that added up to a degree of implied intimacy only seen with couples.

“These people probably think we’re on a date,” I said once the plates were cleared. “We look like we’re together.”

Raymond looked at me as he exhaled a cloud of peach-scented smoke. “Your point being?”

“These people don’t care. It’s, like, queer central down here.”

I wrapped my lips around the mouthpiece, enjoying the dampness from his mouth. The taste washed over me, and the inhaling and exhaling soothed me.

I blew smoke into his face. He didn’t fan it away, and I thought he looked even more attractive in the dim, golden light with wisps of smoke hanging between us.

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Santino Hassell image

About the Author: Santino is a writer of queer romance heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Find Santino: Website || Facebook || Newsletter || Twitter || Goodreads || Amazon

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Pent UpBlurb – PENT UP: Mix business with pleasure and take cover.

Ruben Oso moves to Manhattan to start his life over as a low-rent bodyguard and stumbles into a gig in a swanky Park Avenue penthouse. What begins as executive protection turns personal working for a debonair zillionaire who makes Ruben question everything about himself.

Watching over financial hotshot Andy Bauer puts Ruben in an impossible position. He knows zero about shady trading and his cocky boss lives barricaded in a glass tower with wall-to-wall secrets and hot-and-cold-running paranoia. Can the danger be real? Is Andy for real?

What’s a bullet catcher to do? Ruben knows his emotions are out of control even as he races to untangle a high-priced conspiracy and his crazy feelings before somebody gets dead. If his suspicions are right, Andy will pay a price neither can afford, and Ruben may discover there’s no way to guard a heart.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt (Chapter Four): Sometimes a plan is just a list of things that don’t happen.

Ruben talked Andy into working out and some basic self-defense training. In exchange, Ruben consented to hit the paths in Central Park three mornings a week at dawn. He refused to sleep over, but the tradeoff seemed fair.

Ruben made it downtown half-awake, freshly rinsed and wearing old soccer shorts and duct-taped Nikes. The Iris doormen watched them leave with undisguised pity. What did they know about staying in shape at forty?

Madness.

The first time they met in the Iris lobby at 6:00 a.m., Andy chided, “The early bird catches the worm.”

“Sure.” Ruben raised one grumpy brow. “But the early worm gets eaten by the bird.”

What he learned is that jogging is legalized suicide.

Ruben, a few steps behind for much of the trek to the park, watched the sweat spread across Andy’s back like faint wings and then creep toward his waistband before they’d even started in earnest. He’d forgotten that it was almost July.

They ran.

Andy, for his part, led the way silently, allowing Ruben to follow the subtle cues of his body. No need to speak really. Together, they fell into a lope that Ruben hoped he could sustain without puking, pissing his shorts, or passing out.

Central Park was shaded but the morning sun still drizzled over them like hot grease. Humidity made breathing slow and arduous as they pounded the concrete paths under the trees. His quads burned and after ten minutes he could feel sweat glinting off him with every step.

Andy obviously knew how to pace himself, matching Ruben tread for tread. He was slippery with perspiration but looked relaxed and happy for some horrible reason. His corded legs took the terrain effortlessly.

Ruben focused on keeping his breath steady. He’d been cooped up indoors for too many weeks. He hadn’t realized just how much he missed sun, trees, sky. On the other hand, his thighs and calves felt flayed raw.

Without thinking Ruben took off his T-shirt and wrapped it around his fist. Too hot to feel self-conscious. Besides, he’d been in New York long enough to start losing the Florida color, his brown skin dulling to a fishbelly-beige. Sunlight slid over his shoulders like a heavy robe.

Andy looked him up and down but said nothing.

Suddenly jogging seemed like a great idea.

After fifteen minutes, the air didn’t even feel hot anymore and Ruben could feel his thirsty skin drinking the crazy green light that snuck through the trees. Sweat slid down his ribs, staining his waistband dark.

Andy gave what sounded like a big, satisfied sigh and Ruben realized he could hear it as if Andy had exhaled right into his ear because the city was so far away.

Quiet.

Aside from the scuff of their shoes on the path, the noises of Manhattan waking up had all but vanished. No cars yet. A dozy scent of bark and fresh grass hung in the air and the skyscrapers rose like geometric cliffs too distant to deserve caution. He snuck a look at Andy and caught him looking back.

Andy nodded and raised his eyebrows, some secret arcing between them.

Not that Central Park was a secret, but that it hid one: this mild dappled glow that filtered out the city. Strange, but somehow familiar.

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Damon SuedeAbout the Author: Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Having lived all over, he’s earned his crust as a model, a messenger, a promoter, a programmer, a sculptor, a singer, a stripper, a bookkeeper, a bartender, a techie, a teacher, a director… but writing has ever been his bread and butter.

Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been a full-time writer for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He has won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year. Get in touch with him at DamonSuede.com.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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Tour Dates and Stops:

30 November: Prism Book Alliance
30 November: The Novel Approach
1 December: FB Party (with 8 authors)
3 December: Guilty Pleasures?
4 December: Love Bytes Reviews
9 December: Joyfully Jay
11 December: Ever After
14 December: Heroes & Heartbreakers
17 December: FB NYC party
21 December: Scandalicious Book Blog
28 December: Sinfully Sexy…

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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Uncategorized

Audio Book Blast and Giveaway: In Your Eyes by Cardeno C.

Banner - In Your Eyes copy

 

Cover - In your Eyes AudioIn Your Eyes: Mates Collection

Written by: Cardeno C.

Narrated by: Charlie David

Length: 5 hrs and 59 mins

Unabridged Audiobook

Release Date:10-26-15

Publisher: The Romance Authors, LLC

Blurb: Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past their society’s rules to realize they are destined for one another.

Raised to become alpha of the Yafenack pack, Samuel Goodwin dedicates his life to studying shifter laws, strengthening his body, and learning from his father. But despite his best efforts, Samuel can’t relate to people, including those he’s supposed to lead.

When Samuel meets Korban Keller, the son of a neighboring pack’s alpha, he reacts with emotion instead of intellect for the first time in his life. Resenting the other shifter for throwing him off-balance, Samuel first tries to intimidate Korban and then desperately avoids him. What he can’t do is forget Korban’s warm eyes, easy smile, and happy personality.

When a battle between their fathers ends tragically, Samuel struggles to lead his pack while Korban works to break through Samuel’s emotional barriers.

©2014 Cardeno C. (P)2015 Cardeno C.

DividersYou can buy In Your Eyes here:

AUDIBLE US

Audible UK

Ebook Links

Amazon UK / B&N / iBooks / Kobo / Oyster / Smashwords
Smashwords Coupon: JE52B

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About the Author: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

WLK Giveaway

Audible copy of In Your Eyes by Cardeno C.

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presented by:

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Here’s a Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Cheers, fellow fictionistas, and welcome back to another look at what we have coming in the week ahead! We’ve got a busy one coming up, with lots of great guests, giveaways, and reviews in store, so here’s what you’ll see in the upcoming seven days!

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Monday – We’re kicking off this week with authors Santino Hassell, Damon Suede, and Karen Stivali on their #NYCDreamer tour to talk about their new and upcoming novels: Sunset Park, Pent Up, and Moment of Silence

We’ll also have author Cardeno C. with us on a book blast promo tour for the re-release of In Your Eyes

Finally, author Lynley Wayne will be back with the final installment of her three part column on creating a more effective website

Tuesday – Stopping in today we have author Lynn Lorenz touring the interwebs on a Backlist Book Tour

We’ll also have author Scarlet Blackwell with us on the tour for her new book Forbidden

Wednesday – Today we’ll have author April Kelley joining us on the tour for her new book Leave It All

We’ll also have author Talia Carmichael back with a guest post for The Prose Speak

Thursday – Author Keira Andrews joins us today on the tour for her new holiday book If Only in My Dreams

We’ll also be hosting author Max Vos on the tour for his new novel My Hero: The Olympian

Friday – Today we’ll have author RJ Scott with us on the tour for her novel Love’s Design

We’ll also have a new installment of DSP Publications’ “Genre Talk” with authors Carole Cummings and BA Brock

Saturday – Author Rhys Ford stops by today to close out the tour of her new novel Fish Stick Fridays

Sunday – And finally, closing out the week we’ll have author Christina Lee joining us on the tour for her new novel The Deepest Blue

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

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Elizabeth Wilde, Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Defiant Loyalties Blog Tour with Elizabeth Wilde

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Today we’re so pleased to welcome author Elizabeth Wilde on the Defiant Loyalties blog tour. Enjoy Elizabeth’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card and a credit for a free book from the NineStar Press website.

Good luck!

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When I was a little girl, I used to write.

Books, plays, interactive mystery whodunits. I used to make board games, record radio shows, and film homemade movies. I once wrote an entire play and made some of my friends act it out at my house. I based it on the sinking of the Titanic, because I was a bit morbid like that, but it had a touch of South Park, too, since I thought it was hilarious to “kill” one of my friends over and over again à la Kenny.

I had big dreams as a kid of a career in writing but, like most childhood dreams, reality hit and that dream was shelved. I figured it was not only shelved but impossible, absolutely unheard of. I hadn’t written a thing in fifteen years. In fact, I’d forgotten entirely that I ever loved it in the first place.

Opening up a word processor again three years ago to put fingers to keys, writing and writing until something stuck. It felt like a liberation, like it was meant to be. I shared stories with close friends to much enthusiasm and encouragement, found other friends in the writing community who were equally as supportive, and now here I am, sharing a weird story from my warped little youth during a blog tour for my debut novel. Every day I’m struck over and over again by how life can change in the blink of an eye, from the most unexpected places.

This opportunity means the world to me. Despite my hours/days/weeks/months grappling with it, whipping its stubborn self into shape, this book also means the world to me.

Defiant Loyalties is a story about love against the backdrop of corruption; about two people on seemingly opposite sides coming together to defy every authority. It’s a tale of trust, of loyalty in adversity, and I hope it excites you to read as much as it excited me to write!

The adult in me may be worrying about every leg of this journey, but that little dreamer is having the time of her life right now.

~Elizabeth Wilde

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defiantloyaltiesBlurb: All Jack Preston has ever wanted is freedom: from his father’s oppressive political reign, from his mother’s dying memory, from his own guilt in the part he’s played to get George Preston to the top. When an assassination attempt is made on his father’s life, Jack is thrown into a dangerous game of lies and espionage, and as his whole world destabilizes, he finds himself turning to the most unlikely person for help.

Alex—the assassin who started it all; the man whose face haunts Jack’s dreams—becomes his only ally. As they come together to fight a bigger enemy, Jack’s attraction becomes a risk too large to take and too powerful not to. Will falling in love with a dangerous killer play right into his enemy’s hands? Or will Alex risk everything to protect the son of the man he was sent to murder? Loyalties will be tested and sacrifices made, but Jack will learn that some things are truly worth fighting for.

Buy Link: NineStar Press

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Excerpt: He approaches the thoroughfare in a daze, drugged off the powerful sensation of gravity tugging him home, and the shadowy figure he spots halfway down doesn’t concern him for half a minute or so while he happily indulges himself.

Until suddenly it does.

His steps falter but don’t stop, axis of gravity abruptly shifted, and now Jack’s walking toward the figure instead, in the grip of some terrible, warped sense of inevitability with his heart rate kicking up.

His boots against the ground feel like a march, and he finds he’s angry. Fraught with fear, yeah, but angry nonetheless. Worse, it’s a petty anger, a kind of outrage that’s got him thinking how dare you even though he’s almost positive he brought this one on himself.

The figure stands with his stance wide and easy and his hands in the pockets of his leather jacket, casual as anything. He’s wearing All Stars and Jack has to be fucking hallucinating right now, spent too long obsessing over this with no exposure to the outside world to ground him.

The figure tells Jack, “Hey,” thoroughly doing away with that notion.

“Hey?”

The Goddamn assassin raises his eyebrows. “It’s a term of greeting.”

“Yeah, thanks,” Jack snaps. “Gotta say, it’s a massive improvement from your first one.”

The guy shrugs a shoulder, mouth quirking up at one corner, and fuck, Jack had somehow forgotten how striking he was. Under the sodium lampposts, standing against the gray-shaded sugar maples, he’s almost otherworldly—or maybe that’s just Jack’s abused brain whirring, fever-pitched imagination running wild with him like a kid let out for the first time on its own.

“Is this it, then?” Jack goes on, still dripping in sarcasm. “Time to say my prayers?”

“Walk with me?”

Jack does an honest-to-God spit-take, levelling a glare. “Walk with you.”

“You can keep repeating what I say if you like.”

Jack does, thanks. “Walk with you?”

“You haven’t gone running to your armed guard for help,” he points out and then, with a quiet weight, “It’s important.”

I’m sorry about this. Jack hears it over and over, a litany always inhabiting him, and this man had stood in his father’s study with a gun, apologizing for a murder he was a split-second away from committing. Two days ago he’d handed Jack a threatening note, flirting with him while he did it.

Jack shakes his head. He wrenches himself away, one, two steps, turning his back on the face that’s been dogging him for a week now because if he doesn’t—

“Jack.”

If he doesn’t, Jack’s going to do something like fucking walk with him.

Back still turned, Jack states the very obvious. “You know my name.”

“Lotta people know your name. Your real one, anyway.”

He spins at that. “How did you—”

“This is important,” the man repeats gravely, but there’s still an easiness to his stance, a kind of open appeal. He’s drawing Jack in just like the flirting; good at his job, Jack thinks dizzily.

“Tell me your name, first.”

He doesn’t answer right away, sound of nothing but the trees swaying while he looks up at Jack with his head tipped down—really good at his job, then. There’s a definite reluctance there, but beyond that, Jack really can’t guess what he’s thinking; maybe games of chess in his head, working out moves and countermoves, assessing Jack for danger.

“Alex.”

Jack tries it out in his mouth—“Alex”—and finds it suits him whether it’s real or not. “Fine, Alex, let’s walk.”

Alex cocks his head, gesturing to the end of the thoroughfare so Jack supposes they’re heading away from the house and out into the city. A small mercy, at least.

They fall into step, Alex tossing Jack curious little sideways glances but otherwise staying perfectly quiet, until they come out onto the boulevard and under the open night sky, clear except for the spotty clouds moving time-lapse fast in the lower atmosphere.

There, Alex belatedly speaks. “You’ve been drawing attention to yourself.”

“That an art pun?”

Another curious glance and Jack stays looking resolutely forward; he’s really not sure indulging himself or this guy is the right thing to do.

“Maybe. Thanks for the sketch, by the way.”

“Oddly polite for someone who handed me a threat in return.”

“Which you didn’t take seriously.”

“So that is why you’re here, because I googled some asshole judge?”

“Look, Jack—”

Jack immediately bristles. “Why am I drawing attention to myself? What’s so important that you gotta follow me around town and spirit me away into the night like this, after you—after you tried to fucking—”

“I was sent to give you the note,” Alex interrupts, carefully placing every syllable like they’re practiced. “I wasn’t sent tonight.”

Jack turns his head, trying to get some sort of equal footing here. “And what does that mean?”

“I’m trying to help you.”

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Author BioAbout the Author: Elizabeth is a debut author from the north of England. With a long-time passion for writing, at eight years old she attempted to write and illustrated her very own Goosebumps books, as well as an ongoing series of solve-it-yourself mysteries, and several stories about a single lady living her life with an unfortunate perm. One day she hopes that practice will pay off, but until then she’s been recently adopted by two cats and gets by working for the government.

Email || Website || Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Love Lane Books, Reviewed by Taz, RJ Scott

Review: Max and the Prince by RJ Scott

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Max and the Prince (Bodyguards Inc.: Book Three)

Author: RJ Scott

Publisher: Love Lane Books

Pages/Word Count: 131 Pages

At a Glance: To read one of RJ Scott’s books is like stepping into a perfectly crafted world.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: Bodyguard Max Connery is used to being mistaken for being younger than he is.

Being carded every time he buys a beer is usual. Even though he’s just turned twenty eight and has two tours in Afghanistan as a pilot under his belt.

When a threat is made on the life of a prince attending University in the UK, Max is the perfect choice to blend in with students and to keep Prince Lucien safe. Even if it means joining the swim team to be by his side.

But, when death visits the University, abruptly this job is a long way past keeping the prince happy and safe. Instead Max has to keep Lucien alive.

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Review: Ah, to read one of RJ Scott’s books is like stepping into a perfectly crafted world where you know you’ll meet rich characters and experience a satisfying plotline and well-developed emotions. And this book did not disappoint.

Max is a bodyguard, and everything about him goes along with the images you’d expect for such a beefy hunka deliciousness. The prince, Lucien, is truly a prince, strong, a swimmer, along with all of the images you’d expect to go along with that.

As would be expected, the two get off to a rocky start, Max believing Lucien is a spoiled heir to wealthy parents. Of course, that’s far too simple a story for someone like RJ Scott. No, Lucien may be innocent and somewhat inexperienced (especially when it comes to sex), but he’s no pushover and definitely not spoiled. I will say that Lucien’s lack of sexual experience makes for some really hot scenes.

As the story unfolds and max digs deeper and deeper into the mystery of a stalker whose set Lucien in his sights, feelings of love and connection ignite, and the gravitational pull of the attraction between these two men is unmistakable.

Since this isn’t a long story, I don’t want to give away too much, but each chapter drove the story forward, and I couldn’t wait to find out how the mystery unfolded.

TNA_Signature_Taz

 

 

 

 

You can buy Max and the Prince here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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2.5 Stars, BDSM/Kink/Erotica, Dawn Flemington, Loose Id, Reviewed by Jennifer

Review: Naked Mailman by Dawn Flemington

Amazon

Amazon

TitleNaked Mailman

Author: Dawn Flemington

Publisher: Loose Id

Pages/Word Count: 121 Pages

At a Glance: Interesting concept, but too much packed into a novella.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Mailman Ken Lane is bored with his life. Nothing exciting ever happens to him. That is, until a nude man attacks him and leaves him bound and naked in the back of his mail truck. After all the excitement, Ken can’t stop thinking about the man, especially when he ends back up in Ken’s life and turns it upside down.

Correctional Officer Devon McLaren is a BDSM Dom non-shifting werewolf whose personal life has gone abruptly to hell. The subject of a non-consensual drug experiment, Devon is trying to get to the FBI with information regarding a drug cartel that would really rather he didn’t. On top of that, he’s consumed with lustful thoughts of the mailman he attacked and longs to do many kinky things to him.

Despite the danger, Devon takes Ken on the run with him, hoping that a trusted friend will help them out (and give them a place to do some of those kinky things). But when said friend proves to be a part of the problem, they’ve got to get out of the jam together, before Devon’s pack is destroyed. But can they, or will their obsession with each other get in the way?

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Review: The title alone of this book intrigued me, and I knew I had to read it. It has BDSM, shifters; I mean, really what more could I want?

Ken Lane, mailman, thinks nothing exciting ever happens in his life, but this all changes one day when out on a routine route, he is attacked, his clothes stolen, and he is left naked in the back of his mail truck. After several days of the news turning him into the Naked Mailman, he tries to resume his normal life only to find Devon, the man who stole his clothing, has broken into his apartment. What follows is an interesting adventure where Ken is dragged around the state, and he learns that werewolves exist. Throw in tarot reading coworkers with completely accurate horoscopes, and drug cartels, and you’re in for a ride.

While the beginning of the book was interesting and left me amused, I started to struggle by the time I got about halfway. Not only is there a lot going on in this story, there’s just not enough room for it. You have werewolves, BDSM, illegal drug experimentation, the FBI… the list goes on. Ken is dragged through it all, his world turned upside down, and he just goes along for the ride. Why? Because Devon is good looking and turns his submissive side on.

It seemed a stretch for me, and the issues started early. For example, I understand that Ken is a submissive, but to have your life threatened while at work and being forced to strip? I can see how it’s a fantasy for some, but this just didn’t feel right. Fast forward a few scenes and let’s talk about the blowjob Devon demands in a public restroom while they’re both wearing clothes they bought off homeless men. I had to cringe just at the thought of the smell of the dirty clothes. But that wasn’t even what bothered me the most. Once they meet Sir Gary—Devon’s Dom human friend—they’re offered the use of his playroom. Ken has never been involved in BDSM. He just knows about it, knows he’s a submissive, and that’s pretty much it. But they engage in a scene.

Without a safe word.

So despite Ken saying no, Devon doesn’t stop, and then Ken soars and floats and he’s happy. But the lack of the safe word while Ken was saying no bothered me. Because it seemed to me like he did want Devon to stop, and because there was no communication beforehand, he had no real way of telling Devon to stop if he really wanted him to.

Some of the dialogue is awkward, such as Devon and Gary referring to each other as Sir Gary and Sir Devon. I get that they’re Doms, but it just felt forced for these characters.

There’s more involved in the book such as the fact that Devon is a shifter who can’t shift—it’s described at one point as a handicap—but there’s just too much to mention in the review.

If you enjoy shifter books with BDSM themes, you may be interested in this book, but as for me, while enjoyable at first, I struggled to finish this one.

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You can buy Naked Mailman here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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4.5 Stars, Historical Romance, Joanna Chambers, Reviewed by Lisa, Samhain Publishing

Review: Unnatural by Joanna Chambers

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Unnatural (An Enlightenment Story)

Author: Joanna Chambers

Publisher: Samhain Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 230 Pages

At a Glance: Unnatural is a beautifully written friends-to-lovers romance.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: The heart breaks but does not change.

Captain Iain Sinclair. Perfect son, perfect soldier, hero of Waterloo. A man living a lie. The only person who really knows him is his childhood friend, scientist James Hart. But they’ve been estranged since Iain brutally destroyed their friendship following a passionate encounter.

Iain is poised to leave the King’s service to become an undercover agent in India. Before he leaves his old life behind, he’s determined to reconcile with James. An invitation to a country house party from James’s sister provides the perfect opportunity to pin the man down.

James has loved Iain all his life, but his years of accepting crumbs from Iain’s table are over. Forgiving Iain is one thing—restoring their friendship is quite another.

In the face of James’s determined resistance, Iain is forced to confront his reasons for mending the wounds between them. And accept the possibility that James holds the key to his heart’s desire—if only he has the courage to reach for it.

Warning: Contains a dashing military hero with one weakness—a scientist who feels their chemistry in every cell of his body. Kissing in the rain, skinny dipping, and emotional flashbacks. Huzzah!

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Review: Joanna Chambers’ Unnatural is a beautiful love story between two friends, a friendship that began long ago when James Hart, a then nine-year-old boy, was saved from drowning by thirteen-year-old Iain Sinclair. Or, at least Iain thought he was saving James from drowning. That not being the case, however, James took great offense at Iain babying him. But that all changed slowly as their first awkward encounter blossomed into a years long friendship, one in which James fell madly in love with Iain, and Iain dutifully ignored those feelings as well as his own.

Chambers has such a lovely writing style which plants you directly into the atmosphere of this novel of manners and its early 19th Century setting. Iain is by far the more complex of the two men—a painful family history; a father whom Iain is ever doomed to disappoint, regardless of his heroism; his eye toward duty meaning he must keep James always at arm’s length. James, meanwhile, as the younger and less worldly of the two, may be the more innocent but is also the far more pragmatic of the two men. As a scientist, James sees his surroundings with a more studious eye and therefore, he understands his feelings for Iain as a simple part of his nature. It’s Iain for whom this book is titled, no doubt about it.

At the outset of the novel, James and Iain have gone through a situation so troubling that it’s caused them to part ways on the worst of terms, and then it’s through flashbacks that Chambers unravels their story. James never strayed far from his family home, while Iain had joined the army with dreams of his heroism perhaps helping to earn his father’s regard and respect. Upon his leaving the army, Iain is determined to make things right between himself and James before he leaves for India and a new mission. This is where the story sets about resolving the conflict that presents itself through the flashbacks, and it’s perhaps one of the hardest battles Iain has ever fought—both with himself and against his feelings for James, as well as with James, as James has no desire to open himself up to being hurt by Iain ever again. There was a good bit of struggling on Iain’s part to come to terms with his feelings, his own happiness, and the danger of loving James, and the journey to their reconciliation was well worth the trip.

If you love a good historical romance with all the built-in turmoil the time period presented for the men who loved the love that dare not speak its name, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Unnatural to you.

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You can buy Unnatural here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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A.T. Weaver, Giveaways

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Old Spark Blog Tour with AT Weaver

Old Spark

We’re so pleased to welcome author AT Weaver on the Old Spark blog tour today. Enjoy the exclusive excerpt we have for you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

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Blurb: When Kevin loses his job and boyfriend, he has no option but to return home for the first time in over ten years.  He packs up his cat, Josie, and heads for Kansas City.  Once home he learns the subject of a teenage crush is single. Can a chance encounter in a bar ignite an old spark inside Kevin into a new flame between the two?

Buy Links: Amazon || CoolDudes Publishing || Gumroad

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Excerpt: …He drove around town for about an hour looking at the changes made in the last ten years. There was the new Kauffman Center. Beautiful in a weird sort of way. He drove through the Power and Light District which was lit up for Christmas. The lights of the Marriot Hotel on 12th Street changed and rotated in various patterns. His stomach reminded him he hadn’t eaten lunch and he went to a restaurant on Broadway that he remembered as having good home-style food. He ordered a hamburger from the waiter and caught the eye of another diner. Maybe that’s what I need. Maybe I need to get laid.

He left the restaurant, drove around the Plaza, and watched the shoppers. Closer to Westport, he pulled into a parking lot next to a building with a rainbow flag. Inside, he walked to the bar, sat down, and ordered a beer. He turned with his back to the bar and looked around. A small dance floor occupied one end of the room with tables on two sides of it. About twenty men and women sat with drinks and cigarettes. An aroma of food and stale smoke hung heavy in the air. Another room held a pool table and two manly dressed women played. A sign on the wall advertised a drag show later that night.

A man rose from one of the tables, walked up to the bar and patted Kevin’s shoulder. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t little Kevin.”

Kevin grinned. “Watch it with the ‘little’. I’m not a kid anymore. How are you Chris? Would you believe we were just talking about you the other night?”

“That must have been why my ears were burning.” Chris motioned to the bartender. “Bring me another beer and one for my friend, Kevin, here.”

“Probably better not,” Kevin said.

“What? Are you too good to drink with me?” Chris raised an eyebrow.

“It isn’t that.” Kevin shrugged. “It’s just that my limit is one when I’m driving. If you insist, how about a Coke?”

Chris nodded. “Good rule.” He ordered the Coke. “I don’t have far to go to get home. In fact, I could walk if I had to.”

The bartender set the bottle of beer and glass of Coke on the bar.

Chris took a drink of his beer. “So what are you doing in here?”

Kevin grinned. “Probably the same thing you are.”

Chris tilted his head and raised an eyebrow. “And that is?”

“Having a beer and checking out the scenery.” Kevin let his gaze roam down Chris’ body and back up. “I must say, the scenery just got a lot better.”

Chris raised his eyebrow. “Careful there, Kid. I’m a bit old for you.”

“You’re closer to my age than Mark was to yours.” He grinned. His heart pounded at his not-so-subtle flirting. I can’t believe I’m talking to Chris like this. He probably thinks I’m crazy.

Chris shook his head. “Are you home for Christmas?”

“Not really. I’ve moved back temporarily.”

“Last I heard, you were in San Francisco working for some big interior design company.”

“Yeah. They went bankrupt due to the economy.”

“That sucks. No one to help you out out there?”

“No. When I lost my job, my boyfriend bailed also.” Kevin rubbed the back of his neck. “He went crying home to his mother.”

Chris frowned. “Must have been ‘true love’.”

Kevin chuckled. “Yeah. He was in love with my paycheck.”

“Didn’t he work?”

“Only part-time jobs. He was too busy with his ‘music career’ to work full-time.” Kevin formed air quotes.

“Ouch. So you were supporting you both?”

“Pretty much.”

“Did you love him?”

“I thought I did. In fact when the Supreme Court legalized marriage equality in all fifty states, I almost asked him to marry me.” Kevin ran his fingers through the heavy, blond bangs and pushed them off his forehead. “I’m glad now I didn’t. Toward the end, I was beginning to see how egotistical and self-centered he is.” He chewed on his bottom lip. “He didn’t like to go places with me because his mother, who was also his ‘manager’, thought it would hurt his career if his few fans knew he’s gay.”

“That sucks.”

“Forget about me. I was sorry to hear about Mark. I didn’t know until Dad said something the other evening. It’s been several years since I’ve been home. I just assumed you still lived next door.”

“Yeah.” Chris rubbed the back of his neck. “It hurt like hell, but the pain is easing.”

A loud blast of music signaled the start of the drag show. A woman came out on the dance floor/stage and announced the first act.

Chris took the last drink of his beer. “How about we get out of here?”

“What do you have in mind?”

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Author BioAbout the Author: A.T. Weaver is the pen name of a grandmother of eleven, great-grandmother of one. She lives with her cat, Cleopatra, in downtown Kansas City, MO.

When she was growing up, the word gay meant happy and carefree and homosexuals were called queer or ‘one-of-those’. However, she never heard those terms until she was married and a mother.

In 2003, through a TV show called Boy Meets Boy, A.T ‘met’ over 3,000 gay men in a Yahoo group. These men educated her as to the inequalities suffered by the LGBT community and she became a staunch ally. She visited one of the men in San Francisco who lived just up the street from the Castro. As he showed her around, they stopped in front of what was once Harvey Milk’s camera store. Her question, “Who was Harvey Milk?” started her education into Gay history.

A. T.’s aim is to move you in some way. Whether you laugh or cry, love it or hate it, she welcomes all comments, whether good or bad.

Links: Email || Blog 

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Must be 18 years old or older to qualify
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach is not responsible for prize delivery unless noted otherwise
*Void where prohibited by law

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5 Stars, Andrew Grey, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Angel

Review: Love Comes Unheard by Andrew Grey

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Love Comes Unheard (Senses: Book Five)

Author: Andrew Grey

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a GlanceA sweet addition to a wonderfully rounded series.

Review By: Angel

Blurb: Garrett Bowman is shocked that fate has brought him to a family who can sign. He’s spent much of his life on the outside looking in, even within his biological family, and to be accepted and employed is more than he could have hoped for. With Connor, who’s included him in his family, Garrett has found a true friend, but with the distant Brit Wilson Haskins, Garrett may have found something more. In no time, Garrett gets under Wilson’s skin and finds his way into Wilson’s heart, and over shared turbulent family histories, Wilson and Garrett form a strong bond.

Wilson’s especially impressed with the way Garrett’s so helpful to Janey, Connor and Dan’s daughter, who is also deaf. When Wilson’s past shows up in the form of his brother Reggie, bringing unscrupulous people to whom Reggie owes money, life begins to unravel. These thugs don’t care how they get their money, what they have to do, or who they might hurt. Without the strength of love and the bonds of family and friends, Garrett and Wilson could pay the ultimate price.

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Review: Any Andrew Grey book is an instant read for me now, as I just love my feel good happy endings with a bit of reality. Love Comes Unheard is the fifth book in the Senses series. The Senses series involves many couples, several characters with disabilities, and how they go about their individual lives. The characters from previous books in the series make an appearance in the follow-ups, so I don’t think this can be read as a standalone. I really recommend that you start from the beginning with Love Comes Silently.

I really enjoyed seeing disabled characters as the stars, so to speak, in this series. Most times the MCs are often hale, whole and practically perfect, so it was a good change of pace. Each disability is treated with respect and understanding, and really made this series for me. Grey doesn’t disappoint with his happy endings either, in spite of the subject matter.

For this particular book, the disability is deafness, and while this has been touched on in a previous book, I liked that Grey went more in depth with these particular characters. Wilson and Garrett were fun to watch as they built their relationship. In addition to the disability aspect of the story, there was also an age disparity issue and one of homophobia, all of which was handled just as delicately as the disability.

I also loved seeing Connor, Dan, and their family again, and how this couple’s relationship had progressed. Garrett meshed so well with the family that it was hard to believe he hadn’t been there from the beginning. Getting Wilson’s background story was just fantastic for me, as I adored his character when he was introduced in the last book. Love Comes Unheard is a sweet and wonderful addition to this already delightful series of hope and love.

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2 Stars, Abraham Steele, Paranormal Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Hidden Shifter by Abraham Steele

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Hidden Shifter (Fated Date Agency: Book Seven)

Author: Abraham Steele

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 249 Pages

At a Glance: Hidden Shifter is one of those books where I loved the premise but the follow-through suffered under a lack of backstory and knowledge of the -verse.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: “I’m sorry, Mr. Hillwell. Your fated mate is dead.”

Samuel Hillwell is in mourning for a man he’s never met. The handsome alpha waited too long to contact the Fated Date Agency. There was always a stock trade or a trip to Europe that seemed more important. His mate passed away just days before he reached out. As he goes into a downward spiral, questioning everything he’s based his life on, he can only wish he’d had one night with his deceased omega.

Caden Grey is on the run. After surgically altering his face and travelling across the country, the former kindergarten teacher still can’t stop looking over his shoulder for the people who want him dead. Now that he’s arrived in Clover Grove, he should finally be able to take a breath. But he’s just starting to get settled there when a dazzling man runs up to him. A man who knows Caden’s previous name.

Will Samuel figure out the truth about the tormented omega? And if he gets into Caden’s heart, will either of them be safe?

Hidden Shifter is Book 7 of the Fated Date Agency series. It also stands alone as a complete 200-page gay shifter romance novel with steamy content and male pregnancy.

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Review: Abraham Steele’s Hidden Shifter, book seven in the Fated Date Agency series, is billed as a standalone novel, and I accepted it to read/review under that assumption, so I’ll start by saying that even though this particular installment may feature a new couple in the series, I do feel like I must have missed out on some world-building by starting seven books in. Which, ultimately, was a real detriment to me as there were some things that just didn’t work because I didn’t have enough info going in.

The beginning of the story is great, filled with a lot of emotion and suspense, and I was completely invested in where the author was going with it—Samuel Hillwell finally carving out a niche of time in his otherwise work-aholic schedule to call the Fated Date Agency and find his true mate… Only to discover that the man who would have been his perfect other half had just died in a car crash. I empathized immediately with Samuel at being so close to opening a new chapter in his life, only to have it cruelly taken away, and I liked the emotional connection the author built there.

When we’re introduced to Caden Grey, a few things are obvious, not the least of which is that he’s not who we think he is, but that he’s also fleeing in terror from an unknown but credible threat. And I don’t think it’s revealing too much here, as the blurb does state that Caden Grey isn’t his real name, to say that fate is indeed playing a role in Caden’s life, as his cross-country exodus, with no fixed destination in mind, lands him practically on Samuel’s doorstep. And, even after plastic surgery, Caden can’t hide who he is from Samuel.

Unfortunately, this is also where the plot began to lose traction for me. The one true soul mate trope is a tried and true one, but sometimes it works for me, sometimes it doesn’t. Where it didn’t work for me here, overall, isn’t in the speed with which Sam and Caden came together (I actually was dying for them to meet and then liked that the author kept us in a little bit of suspense once they did), but in that once they did get together, there wasn’t any significant amount of word count spent on making their relationship solid enough for me to invest in. There were some sexy moment, some sweet domestic moments, but overall there was so much outside angst going on in Caden’s life that him giving in to his and Samuel’s connection didn’t happen until circumstances forced him to commit to the idea of Sam as a full-fledged mate. Reading a romance and then not being able to invest in the romance part of it is a bit of a buzzkill, to say the least.

But where I felt my experience with this book suffered most, as I said at the outset, is in the world-building. There’s no background story here, so we don’t know anything at all about these shifters, their origins, their mythology, or why the gay omega shifters are the only males who can get pregnant and give birth. I honestly was at a loss here, and will say this—on a personal level, a dripping, self-lubricating anus didn’t conjure up any sort of appealing mental images for me. Juicy wet underwear calls to mind an inherently female eroticism, and while this anatomical detail may or may not be canon in the mpreg lexicon, readers do deserve some foundation to make this aspect of the story even slightly more palatable.

By the time the final deus ex machina is pulled out of the pocket of miracles in an effort to save Caden’s life, I was so distracted by all my unanswered questions that I think any resolution to the story would have been less than satisfying to me. The Alphas didn’t act all that alpha-like, and Caden, the Omega, wasn’t as submissive as one would expect an omega to be. In the end, the motivation for Caden’s flight wasn’t thoroughly fleshed out—we’re told why he ran but get no supporting details about why his wolf misbehaved; we’re told that humans are a factor, but there’s technically only one significant human in the entire storyline; and when the danger does arrive at Samuel’s doorstep, the motivation was not only a bit flimsy but the antagonist doesn’t come off as dangerous as much as he does spoiled and juvenile.

Hidden Shifter is one of those books where I loved the premise but the follow-through suffered under a lack of backstory and knowledge of the -verse. Your mileage, of course, may vary if you’re already familiar with the series.

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Cardeno C., Giveaways

Book Blast and Giveaway: The Family Series Blog Tour with Cardeno C.

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 Strong Enough


Cover - strongenough
When a casual hookup turns into the potential for love, staid Spencer realizes he wants to build a life with vibrant Emilio.

When twenty-two-year-old Emilio Sanchez sees handsome Spencer Derdinger walking by his construction site, Emilio makes it his goal to seduce the shy professor. Getting Spencer into bed isn’t difficult, but Emilio soon learns that earning the trust of a man deeply hurt will take time and patience. With a prize like brilliant, sweet Spencer on the line, Emilio decides he is strong enough to face the challenge.

Spencer is surprised when he’s approached by the gorgeous construction worker he’s admired from the safety of his office window. Acting spontaneously for the first time in his thirty-eight years, Spencer takes Emilio home. When the casual hookup turns into the potential for love, Spencer realizes that if he wants to build a life with Emilio, he’ll need to be strong enough to slay his personal demons and learn to trust again.

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Something in the Way He Needs

 

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Controlled Asher didn’t expect to fall for free-spirited Daniel, but they’ll find what they desperately need in one another.

Police captain Asher Penaz’s staunch professionalism bleeds into his home life, down to his neatly pressed attire and spartan apartment. He enjoys being in charge and in control, so his sudden and powerful attraction to the lighthearted, free-spirited Daniel Tover throws him for a loop. In his entire life, Daniel has never gotten what he needs, so he moves to the next place, the next job, the next attempt to find something worth staying for, always landing at the top of his game, but never feeling like he belongs.

The chemistry between Asher and Daniel sizzles, but with all that fire comes the risk of getting burned. As both men struggle to learn themselves while getting to know each other, the lines of desire and control blur. If Daniel and Asher can walk through the flames together, they might find what they desperately need.

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Dividers More Than Everything

 

Cover - morethaneverythingTime might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

As a teenager, Charlie “Chase” Rhodes meets Scott Boone and falls head over heels in love with the popular, athletic boy next door. Charlie thinks he’s living the dream when Scott says he feels the same way. But his dreams are dashed when Scott unexpectedly moves away.

Years later, Charlie meets brash and confident Adan Navarro, who claims all he wants is a round between the sheets. After eight months together, Charlie is convinced Adan returns his love. But when the opportunity comes to be open about their relationship, Adan walks away.

Time passes and life moves on, but when Charlie learns the only two men he’s ever loved are now in love with each other, his heart breaks all over again. Scott and Adan tell Charlie they want him back, but Charlie doesn’t know if he can trust two people who have hurt him so deeply. Time might not heal all wounds, but with two motivated and strong-willed men on a campaign to win him back, Charlie will get more than he ever thought possible.

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The Half of Us

 

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If short-tempered Jason can open his heart and life to optimistic Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.

Short-tempered, arrogant heart surgeon Jason Garcia grew up wanting a close-knit family, but believes he ruined those dreams when he broke up his marriage. The benefit of divorce is having as much random sex as he wants, and it’s a benefit Jason is exploiting when he meets a sweet, shy man at a bar and convinces him to go home for a no-strings-attached night of fun.

Eight years living in Las Vegas hasn’t dimmed Abe Green’s optimism, earnestness, or desire to find the one. When a sexy man with lonely eyes propositions him, Abe decides to give himself a birthday present—one night of spontaneous fun with no thoughts of the future. But one night turns into two and then three, and Abe realizes his heart is involved.

For the first time, Abe feels safe enough with someone he respects and adores to let go of his inhibitions in the bedroom. If Jason can get past his own inhibitions and open his heart and his life to Abe, he might finally find the family he craves.

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Cardeno C.ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

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Mary Calmes, Self-Published, Short Story

Hannah’s Big Night (A Jory and Sam Thanksgiving Ficlet) by Mary Calmes

Hannah's Big Night

Hannah’s Big Night

© Mary Calmes 2015

“Where are you going?” I asked my older brother as I walked into his room.

“You’re not supposed to just come in here,” he snapped at me.

“Yeah—yeah,” I said dismissively. “Where are you going?”

He sighed irritably, which was my cue to leave it alone, leave him alone, but he was climbing out his bedroom window onto the roof above the porch, so I had to know.

“Go to sleep.”

I scowled at him. “It’s ten o’clock at night; in what realm of your dodgy imagination am I going to bed this early?”

“Stop,” he groaned. “You’re not British.”

“Are you sure, guvnor?”

He rolled his eyes. “You’re especially not Eliza Doolittle. Being her in one play does not make it so.”

I shot him a look, one he knew, and took a deep breath. I was tired of the run around from my brother, Kola Kage, so I filled my lungs to make sure the yell would carry when I let it out.

“No—no—no,” he gasped, darting across the room, grabbing my hand and pulling me down beside him on his bed. “C’mon, B, you gotta let me go out and check on Anthony.”

“Who?”

“Anthony Mascaro.”

“Oh, that’s your friend who borrows your bike.”

His scowl was back. “What?”

“Ugh, really? This is me you’re talking to.”

He considered his audience for a moment, but come on…

“How do you know he borrows my bike?”

“’Cause every morning at around four, he parks your bike behind the house so you have it to ride to school with me and Pa.”

He grunted.

“And last night it wasn’t there, and that was a whopper of a lie you told Pa about leaving it at the park last night.”

Kola squirmed. “I feel bad.”

“You should feel bad ‘cause Pa’s not getting you a new one ‘til after Christmas, and now you look like a scrub walking while we’re both riding.”

His face scrunched up. “A scrub?”

“Just—that’s what Melody Thompson said.”

He thought a second. “How come Melody Thompson already wears make-up?”

“I wear make-up,” I said, sticking up for my friend.

“Only when you’re in a show,” he reminded me.

I nodded. “She wants to be pretty.”

“Well, you don’t have to worry about that.”

I dropped my chin and then looked at him because really, we both knew he was full of poop. “Really?”

He groaned.

“Just tell me what happened already,” I pressed him. He was my brother, he couldn’t keep anything from me, I could always get it out of him. “The bike’s gone and you think something happened to Anthony?”

“Yeah.”

“Then tell Daddy,” I told him.

“No,” he said, looking scared. “Anthony said if he gets in trouble, he’ll get taken away from his Mom and she’ll have to go back to where she lived before and he’ll have to go to Foster Care.”

“What’s that?”

“If you don’t have any family, that’s where you go?”

“Who doesn’t have a family?”

“Lots of people.”

“Yeah but,” I was trying to figure it out. “If you don’t have a family, where do you go on Thanksgiving?”

“Anthony says they eat at a shelter.”

“Oh,” I said, nodding, finally something I understood. Last Thanksgiving, me and Kola, Daddy and Pa had all gone to a shelter and served food for the homeless people. “I didn’t know they let kids go to the shelter.”

He nodded. “They do.”

I took a breath. “Yeah, but how come this is about your bike?”

“Well, at night Anthony rides around his neighborhood on my bike and watches for police cars. If he sees one, he makes a call on his cell phone.”

“He has a cell phone?” I was so jealous. “How come?”

My brother shrugged.

“How come he doesn’t use his own bike?”

“It got stolen.”

“Oh, that’s sad.”

“Yeah so now they told him if he doesn’t watch out for police, he has to deliver stuff to people.”

“That doesn’t sound so bad. It’s better than riding a bike in the middle of the night.”

“Yeah, but he’ll have to make his deliveries during the day.”

“And then he’d miss school.” I said, putting it all together. “I see.”

“So, could you please help me?”

“How?”

“Just stay here and if Riley comes upstairs, you––”

“Nuh-uh,” I said, shooting him down. “I go with you.”

“But I gotta find Anthony and the bike.”

“I can help you; I’m good at finding stuff.”

“B––”

I took a deep breath again.

He shoved me over on the bed. “Fine, whatever, just don’t yell.”

“Okay,” I said, so happy he was letting me help him. “Where does he live?”

He made a face. “Kinda far.”

“How far?”

“Like we need to take Pa’s bike.”

“Okay,” I agreed. “Just let me change.”

“B,” he whined. “Come on, we gotta go before Daddy and Pa get home from dinner.”

I snorted. “They went to that awful place with the real napkins; they’ll be gone for hours.”

“But you don’t need to––”

“Silence,” I commanded before telling him to go downstairs and tell our cousin Riley that we were going to watch a movie. Not that she cared; she’d be talking to her boyfriend all night, but it was always better just to say something. Misdirection was key. Daddy said that’s what you did when you were undercover, which, technically, we were.

“Oh God,” Kola groaned when I got back to his room.

“What?”

“Why are you wearing that?”

“Why wouldn’t I wear this?”

“We’re not stealing the bike from anyone.”

“How do you know? Maybe somebody stole it and we’ll have to steal it back.”

“Yeah, but you know that cat burglars don’t actually wear cat ears,” he said snidely. “And there’s still glitter on them from Halloween.”

“Shhhh,” I ordered before climbing out the window.

He was right behind me. “Be careful,” he said, and his voice went up high because it was crackling lately.

Downstairs, we darted around the house, got Pa’s beach cruiser out of the garage—it had fat wheels but still wouldn’t make it too much longer with the snow—and Kola got on before I got on the handlebars. We weren’t supposed to ride like that, Pa didn’t like it, and I couldn’t wear my helmet because of the cat ears, and Kola’s had reflectors on his that he didn’t want to attract attention… so we were both without them. We were double in trouble if we got caught but if Pa caught us, the helmet situation was the least of our problems.

We rode down Harlem Avenue for a while, and then Kola turned off on one side street, and then another, and another, until the street lights weren’t bright white anymore and instead, a sort of dull yellow. There was a ginormous vacant lot we had to go around, and then dark alleys that were creepy that we rode by, and finally Kola announced that we’d reached Anthony’s building. It took more than an hour to get there, and it was really cold. My nose felt like it was going to freeze off.

“Where are you gonna hide Pa’s bike?” I asked my brother.

We looked around for a few minutes, and Kola found a tarp in one of the alleys, and we put it behind a dumpster. Inside the building, we found Anthony’s last name and went up three flights to his apartment.

It was loud inside and a lot of people were arguing in the halls, and there was graffiti but not the pretty kind I liked. When we got to where Anthony lived, the door was open, which wasn’t safe, and Kola called his name.

“Now who the hell is that?!”

We both peered around the corner and there was a lady on the floor, bleeding from her nose and lip, and a man was holding her hair in his fist. There was blood on his other hand, probably from where he’d hit her—it was easy to tell, I watched a lot of TV, so I knew these things—and she was crying.

“Please, Luis,” she begged him.

“What are you doing?!” I shrieked at him.

He let her hair go when he reached for me, and she scrambled to her feet, grabbed me and Kola, and ran us into a bedroom and locked the door.

“Kola?”

We both turned and there was Anthony, on the bed. When he sat up, I saw that one of his eyes was big and puffy and couldn’t open, and he was bleeding like the lady.

“Is she your Mommy?” I asked him.

He nodded and then looked back at my brother. “You guys gotta get outta here before Luis hits you too.”

“Help me!” Mrs. Mascaro rasped, trying to push a really heavy chest of drawers in front of the door.

Me, Kola and Anthony all rushed to help her, and then once we moved it, we all got on Anthony’s bed. His mom stared at me and my brother, touching both our faces.

“He would’ve…he was going to…and then Anthony… and now I don’t have a choice and…who are you?”

She was kind of out of it, and crying, but she was bleeding and she had a really big bump on her head, so it made sense.

“This is Kola and his sister B,” Anthony told his mom, crawling over to sit by her, and taking her hand.

“Where’s your phone,” I asked him. “Kola said you have a cell phone.”

He reached under the mattress and passed it to me as somebody started banging on the door.

Mrs. Mascaro screamed, which scared me, but I only dialed faster. After a second, he answered.

“Who’s this?”

He sounded growly but that was because he didn’t know it was me yet. “Daddy!”

“B?” He sounded confused which made sense since this wasn’t our phone at home. “Who’s phone is this?”

He had Riley’s phone number programmed into his so again, the question made sense. “Daddy, there’s a man trying to hurt Anthony and his mom, and we’re in their house, and he’s trying to break into the room.”

Anthony’s mom screamed again.

“B,” he said, and it was like he didn’t have any air. “Where are you?”

I passed the phone to Kola because I didn’t know, and he gave Daddy the address as he listened a moment before moving the phone away from his ear and putting it on speakerphone.

“Keep the phone on,” he directed us. “And talk to Pa.”

“Pa,” I whimpered.

“Hi, B,” he said, his voice shaking. “Tell me what’s happening now?”

“The bad man is trying to get in, but the dresser is super heavy.”

“Okay,” he said as there was a huge bang and the chest of drawers moved a little.

“Pa, it’s moving,” I said, getting really scared.

“Don’t worry, B,” Kola told me, and then he got off the bed, and even though Mrs. Mascaro yelled at him to get back, he walked over to the door at the same time it sort of blew up.

The dresser got thrown sideways and the door flew open, and there wasn’t just Luis anymore, there were two other guys with him, standing there. Kola was so brave, facing them, and even when one of the men made like he was going to hit him, he didn’t move.

“You better leave us alone,” he told them. “My Daddy’s coming and he’s a marshal.”

“He’ll kill you if you hurt us,” I screamed at them.

Luis grabbed Kola by the throat, and I got up and ran to him. I didn’t know what I was going to do, but I didn’t want him to hit my brother like he hit Anthony and his mom. But when I reached them something weird happened, and he looked at me and then he looked again like I surprised him. I lifted the phone to my ear to tell Pa what was happening, but he took it from me, hurling it into a wall, then shoved Kola down and grabbed me.

I tried to use my Tae Kwon Do moves on him, but I was only a yellow belt, Kola was blue, but one of the men had a gun. Daddy had told us not to try and hit someone if they had a gun.

One of the men picked me up and carried me out of the room, and when Kola tried to run after me, Luis slammed the door in his face.

I got slung over the guy’s shoulder and when I tried kicking and punching, he put me down on one of the landings, I wasn’t sure which one, and Luis slapped me really hard across the face. It hurt bad and I started crying, even though I knew it was weenie. Luis grabbed my arm tight and dragged me down the stairs and outside, and then he put me in the backseat of a car. Luis got in the back with me, and the other two got in the front and the tires made the whiny noise when we drove away.

It was weird to be in a car with strangers, and I tried to think of how long I was going to be grounded when I got home.

“I need you to call your Daddy,” Luis told me, shoving a phone at me.

I was confused. “I already called my Daddy, he was coming.”

He shook his head. “Don’t play dumb with me, I know who you are little girl, I’ve seen your picture in the paper.”

I wasn’t sure what he meant.

“You’re Aaron Sutter’s kid.”

What? “Nuh-uh.”

“Yes, you are,” he snarled at me like a dog, “I saw you in the paper just this morning.”

And I got it. “Oh, that’s because I went to the Aquarium with him last night,” I explained. “My Uncle Duncan had to work, so I went with Uncle Aaron to the fundraiser gala.” I loved going with him, and sometimes I even got to go when Uncle Duncan was there. But I always got a new dress, and I had a white princess coat I got to wear that had crystals for buttons that I wore with my white gloves. Sometimes I even got new shoes, but Pa told Uncle Aaron I couldn’t have new ones every time. But last night was special because I even wore my tiara. “But he’s not my Daddy, he’s my Uncle.”

“Uncle my ass—that’s your father, so you better get him on the phone because if he wants you back in one piece, he’s going to pay.”

He had the guy in the passenger seat pass him a phone from the glove compartment and it was really old, one of the flippy kind that I knew was a burner because Daddy said that’s the kind crooks used, and he shoved it into my hands and told me to call my Dad.

It was lucky for me that I had four numbers memorized and they were Daddy’s, Pa’s, Auntie Aja’s, and Uncle Aaron’s. So I dialed and it rang a lot of times before he answered.

“Who is this and how did you get this number?”

“Uncle Aaron,” I said and sniffled a little ‘cause I was a bit scared. “I need some money.”

“What?”

Maybe he couldn’t hear me. “I’m in trouble and I need some money.”

The phone was muffled for a minute. “B?”

“Yeah.”

“You need money?”

“Uh-huh.”

He chuckled. “Honey, does your father know you’re calling me?”

“No.”

“And why not?”

“Because I got taken.”

“Wait, what?” He said, and now he sounded like he couldn’t breathe just like had happened to Daddy. “Honey, where are you?”

“A man has me.”

“What man?”

I put the phone on my chest. “Can I tell him who you are?”

Luis shook his head and I put the phone back to my ear. “He said I can’t tell you.”

He took a breath. “Ask him how much money he needs to bring you to me.”

I looked up at the Luis. “How much money do you want?”

He snatched the phone from me. “Sutter, if you ever want to see your little girl again, you need to deliver ten million dollars to Navy Pier by midnight.” He listened then. “I’ll call you back with the details.”

Ten million dollars was a lot of money. I wasn’t sure I was worth that much. “Can I talk to him?” I asked Luis.

“No,” he snapped and hit the END button.

I started to cry because I really wanted to talk to Uncle Aaron, but then I remembered what Pa said about getting kidnapped. He said that you had to always try and get away. You never had to stop. And Pa knew a lot about being kidnapped—he was kind of an expert since it happened to him more than once. Daddy always said it was ‘cause he was a trouble magnet, but Pa said that was nonsense. My Uncle Dane said the magnet stuff was true too, but Uncle Dane thought I was one too, and that was just bananas. So I wiped my face on my sleeve—which Pa didn’t like, but I didn’t see me asking Luis for a Kleenex—and I checked to see if the door was locked.

Our van at home locked automatically. As soon as Pa moved the stick thing to the D, you could hear the doors lock, but this car was old, there weren’t even shoulder seatbelts in the backseat where I was, and so the door wasn’t locked since I could see the button thing was up.

When we stopped at a light, I pretended like I was gonna barf, and Luis told me to roll the window down. But I pulled the door handle and opened it instead.

“Kid!”

I fell into the street, and there were a lot of cars, but I ran fast and they missed me, and when I got to the sidewalk, I ran some more.

I got kinda turned around, but then I saw The Flamingo and I knew where I was. Sometimes I got mixed up—did Daddy work in the U.S. Courthouse building or the Federal building?—but last time we went there, Kola said it was the thirty story one and not the forty-two story one, so I ran to the right one and pounded on the door a second before I saw the two men walking up the street. Both of them had the same star as Daddy hanging around their necks, so I got to them as quick as I could. As soon as I reached them, one of them knelt down to talk to me.

“Sweetheart, what are you doing out here so late?”

It was kind of hard to breathe because I ran so far. “I’m––”

“You’re Hannah, aren’t you?” The other man said. “I’ve seen your picture.”

It was neat how big the man’s eyes got. “You’re Sam Kage’s daughter?”

I nodded.

He picked me up, which normally, since I was ten now, I didn’t like, but I was tired and getting cold, so it was okay.

“What happened, honey,” the marshal who wasn’t holding me asked. “Why’re you here?”

So I told him about Anthony and his Mom and Kola, and me and Pa’s bike—because that was important—and Kola being brave, and Luis hitting me, and the other two men and how I had to call Uncle Aaron, and how much ten million was, and how come Luis thought I was Uncle Aaron’s daughter, and how silly that was, and how far I’d run.

“Okay,” he said as he used his card to make the door open, and pulled his gun out at the same time.

Once the three of us were inside, he put his gun back in the holster before we all went up in the elevator.

“You can call me B,” I told the man who was holding me.

He smiled at me. “Well, you can call me Ian, and this is Miro.”

They were nice, and I wasn’t scared one bit, and when we got to the office, they took me to the breakroom and put ice on my face and gave me a juice box to drink. I didn’t really like grape, apple was my favorite, but I didn’t want to make them think I wasn’t appreciative. Pa always said you had to be nice even if you didn’t get exactly what you wanted.

After a few minutes, Miro passed me his phone.

“Hello?”

“B?” Daddy sounded funny, like he’d run far too.

“Hi, Daddy, are you mad at me?”

He coughed. “No, baby, I’m not mad at you.”

“Is Kola okay?”

“Yes, love, Kola’s fine.”

“Is Anthony okay?”

“Yes.”

“And his mommy?”

“Everybody’s fine, sweetie. What’d—did those men hurt you?”

“Luis hit me on the face,” I told him. “Miro gave me ice to put on my cheek.”

He coughed again. “But that’s all?”

“Mmmmm-hmmm.”

I heard him take a breath. “

“Daddy, you can’t let Anthony get taken away from his Mommy, okay?”

“I won’t.”

“Promise?”

“I promise.”

“Do they have to go back to his Mommy’s country?”

“No, B.”

“You promise?”

“I promise.”

“And could they come and have Thanksgiving with us at Nana’s?”

“They’re not going to be here tomorrow, B, so no.”

I knew Daddy made people safe by moving them far away and giving them new names. I didn’t know how he did that, but Pa had explained that much to me. “Okay, so long as they’re together that’s all that matters, right?”

“That’s right.”

“Oh, Dad, did you get Pa’s bike?”

“Kola made sure I got it, yes.”

Such a relief. “Are you coming to get me now?”

“Yes, honey, I’m on my way.”

“Will you call Uncle Aaron and tell him I don’t need the money?”

There was a long silence before he said, “I’m sorry, what?”

So I told him about calling Uncle Aaron, and then he had to get off the phone and I gave Miro back his. “I wonder why Daddy didn’t want to talk to me anymore.”

“It ain’t like that,” the other marshal, Ian, told me. “He wants to talk to you, but he’s gotta call your uncle and tell him everything’s all right, and then he’s gonna go pick that guy up and feed him his teeth.”

“Ian,” Miro whispered.

“What?” He gave Miro the look Kola gave me when he thought I said something dumb. “He is.”

“It’s okay,” I told Miro, patting his hand. “Daddy always says that if anybody hurts me or Pa or Kola that he’ll kill them, so, you know, he might shoot Luis in the head.”

They were both staring at me like I was an alien or something.

“What?”

Miro cleared his throat and took my hand in his. “Sweetie, your Daddy doesn’t go around shooting people, but that man that took you is in a lot of trouble. Your Daddy has to alert Chicago PD and tell them that he kidnapped you and asked for a ransom. Before, we weren’t sure why he took you or even if he did it on accident, but now we know he had a plan. That changes things. That’s a federal offense.”

“Does that mean super in trouble?”

“That’s exactly what that means,” Ian said, smiling at me.

I smiled back because sitting at the table with them, I knew nothing else bad was going to happen to me.

A while later, I was sitting at Miro’s desk helping him look for his mouse that other people liked to take, and watching Ian smell a mango that he took out of the fruit basket.

“That’s a huge basket,” I told him.

He grunted.

“A nice lady sends it to us once a month,” Miro told me. “We helped her kids out when we were in Phoenix.”

“May I have one of the apples?”

“Go for it.”

I was picking one when I heard my Daddy.

“B!”

When I turned around there he was, and I ran to him as fast as I could.  It didn’t take long since he was running too, and when he reached me, he scooped me up and hugged me.

He held me super tight, and I wiggled so I could get my arms around his neck. I kissed his cheek and held on and even though I was okay, I started to cry.

“It’s okay, B, I’ll always find you.”

“I know,” I told him.

He gave me one last squeeze, and then there was a noise by the elevator and there were more marshals, and Luis and the two other guys all in handcuffs.

Luis looked like Anthony and his mom now, all bloody and bruised. I watched him walk by and he almost stopped to look at me. His mouth dropped open, and I was going to say, “See, I told you,” but it was bad manners to gloat. Uncle Dane always said so.

“Daddy,” I whispered up at him. “Did you feed Luis his teeth?”

He glanced over at Ian, who only smiled before he knelt down next to me. “I just had a quick word with him about taking children who don’t belong to him.”

I nodded. “I understand, it’s ‘cause you love me.”

“I do indeed.”

As Daddy and I went down in the elevator, I asked him how come Pa and Kola didn’t come up.

“I didn’t want Luis or those guys to see Kola again, and I didn’t want them to see Pa.”

“In case they come back for revenge,” I said, getting it. “Good call.”

He squinted at me. “You know what’s going on, right, because you watch a lot of television?”

I nodded.

“Of course you do,” he sighed. “We’re going to the emergency room after this, you know.”

“Ugh.”

“You and Pa sure do like that place.”

“We don’t like it,” I promised him. “Sometimes it just happens.”

He made a noise like I was full of it.

“You know,” I said, squeezing his hand as he looked at my cheek. “I know what I’m gonna say this year when we go around the table and say what we’re thankful for.”

“Oh?”

“Uh-huh.”

“And what is that?”

“My family and Miro and Ian.”

“Miro and Ian, huh?”

“Yeah.” And then I thought of something. “Maybe you should invite them to Thanksgiving dinner at Nana’s.”

“They’re good,” he said in that way he had where it sounded like the sound was coming out of his chest.

He picked me up as the elevator doors whooshed open, and I saw Pa and Kola on the other side of the room by the doors. They both came running.

“I can’t wait to get home,” I told Daddy before they reached me.

“That’s good,” he said, “because you and your brother are going to be grounded until the end of time.”

I really didn’t mind. It was home after all.

 

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Giveaways, Liam Livings

Interview and Giveaway: The Guardian Angel Blog Tour with Liam Livings

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Today we’re pleased to welcome author Liam Livings on The Guardian Angel blog tour. Enjoy Liam’s interview, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $15 Gift Card from Amazon or ARe, plus 2 further prizes of an ebook from Liam’s catalogue. Competition closes 11th December – midnight GMT.

Good luck!

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What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Life a life you will remember.

Fear always comes along for the ride, and that’s fine – but that doesn’t mean you need to let it anywhere near the steering wheel.

Fear is a natural response. It’s what makes humans a successful species; if we didn’t fear things we’d have all been eaten by sabre tooth tigers. But it’s important not to be paralysed by fear. Fearing something means you care about it, means it’s new, a challenge, and those things are good for us. I particularly like the advice about the steering wheel; it’s good to bear in mind fear, to not do asinine, reckless things, but if you only ever stick with safe and known things nothing will change, you won’t stretch yourself. I imagine having fear in the back seat, making odd comments, noting pedestrians about to cross the road, but it’s me who’s steering the car and ultimately in charge.

Richard and Amy have known one another since university and are going through that classic not long out of university angst about work along the lines of, ‘I didn’t go to uni for three years and get in x thousand pounds of debt to do this’. It’s easy to stay with what they both know, but it takes guts to break out and make the change they both need and want.

What would a perfect day for you consist of?

Breakfast in bed, then a few hours of writing while Himself potters in the garden, then baking a cake or two in the kitchen, then a walk along the coast with Himself, reading by a pool, a light swim, followed by having friends round for a meal, lots of wine, laughs and gossip. And then, once the friends have either gone home, or exhausted their conversation, a film by the fire with a box of chocolates. Having just re-read that, I realise that would involve at least 3 different seasons because a seaside walk a fire and reading by a pool do not happen in the same day, but it’s a fantasy perfect day, so there!

Richard’s ideal day would probably involve morning sex with his boyfriend, some breakfast with Amy to catch up on their latest dramas, a bit of site-seeing with the boyfriend– a trip to a new city- a night in a hotel with more sex, a finally a little bit of work because once he’s found a job he enjoys he’s all in with it – much like he is with everything: friendships, relationships.

What’s the last album you bought?

It was probably something by Kylie, from her back catalogue. Enjoy Yourself, or Kylie probably. I went to a Kylie concert and, struck by how a-ma-zing she was, promptly bought all the albums she’d done I didn’t yet own. I’m like that with an artist.

I did the same with Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark (OMD) as I discovered them on an eighties electro pop album in the nineties (way before electro pop was cool again). I bought their greatest hits album and then, because, this is what I’m like, bought their whole back catalogue at the time, and then every subsequent new album they released.

Richard’s boss asks him his favourite album to check if he wants to offer him the job. OMD stands on that strange hinterland between popular and cool music, and Richard takes a chance with it. I suppose you could see it like a shortened version of psychometric testing, or something…

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Liam LivingsBlurb: What happens when a man falls in love with his guardian angel?

Richard Sullivan is plagued by white feathers turning up at the oddest moments. Amy, his best friend, suggests his guardian angel is trying to contact him, but he dismisses the idea out of hand as nonsense.

Until, that is, he meets Sky. Six feet of muscle in a man skirt with white feather wings.

What exactly is a guardian angel? And what happens when your guardian angel takes leave and sends in a temp to cover? Do you wait for a perfect boyfriend on the off chance you may be able to touch him, to be with him, or do you grab happiness with another human? And, why the hell has Richard’s life suddenly become so complicated?

Buy Links: Love Lane Books

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Excerpt: It all started on my way back from the wrong job. I’d just turned it down because I couldn’t stand to listen to that lot going on about sustainability this and putting bees on the roofs of houses that. I just wanted them all to fuck off. I didn’t need their job offer. I had a good feeling the law firm application would get me onto their graduate scheme. I knew it. I could feel it in my water.

The law firm sent me a letter thanking me for the application. And good luck with my other job searching.

Fuck it.

I returned to the office just west of Liverpool Street station to do my last week of temping—my last week temping there, after a long series of temping jobs, some of which had made me want to jump under the train some mornings, others I could just sail through with my brain in neutral. And now this one. Well, this one was fine.

It had been fine. At first I thought it was quite interesting to try to do what New York City had done with its unloved, unknown areas, and name them. Like their SoHo was the area south of Houston Street. TriBeCa was the Triangle Below Canal Street. All this was interesting and news to me when I’d started at the Between Town Partnership. They were trying to make the area between the City of London, Liverpool Street, and the West End, happen. At the moment it was a sort of nowhere between the proper shopping of the West End and the financial district—a sort of no man’s land. No one had reason to go there specifically, unless they worked there, as I had for a variable three months.

I turned on my PC, went to the kitchen to make myself an instant coffee, but not Nescafé because they were doing something nasty about bottle-feeding in Third World countries. I had listened at the time, a bit, but had just internally rolled my eyes. No, this was all free-range, organic, preloved coffee. Shame it still tasted of shit, though.

I sat at my PC and noticed a white feather next to the mouse. I picked it up, looked at it closely, noticing it was pretty perfect as far as feathers went, and then threw it in the bin.

The morning passed without incident: spreadsheets about the CO2 output of various buildings, some brainstorming for this new area, and another offer of an extension to my contract.

“I’ll think about it, thanks,” I said, folding the offer letter into my bag and leaving for lunch.

I sat on a bench in a little park. The grass was covered in office workers, each eating their lunch and grabbing some air and sun for a moment in their day. I pulled out the offer letter from my bag, and another perfect white feather fell into my lap. This one was a bit larger—as big as my index finger—and still perfectly white, still not bent or dirty. I folded it back with the offer letter, then rang Amy at work. She’d know what to do.

“Good morning, The Music and Video Shop, how can I help you?”

“It’s me. How’s your morning?”

She swapped her phone voice for her proper, slightly Welsh accent. “Busy as it goes. I can’t believe people still actually come into a shop to buy this stuff.”

“Just be thankful they’re trying to close down Pirate Cove. And there’s plenty of people who don’t know how to use it anyway, playing it safe, buying DVDs and CDs from you lot.” I paused, thinking about my morning, my situation, and the feathers; she’d want to hear about those. “So, white feathers, what do they mean?”

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Author BioAbout the Author: Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He escapes from real life with a guilty pleasure book, cries at a sad, funny and camp film – and he’s been known to watch an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

He has written since he was a teenager, started writing with the hope of publication in 2011. His writing focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle.

 You can connect with Liam

Twitter @LiamLivings || Facebook || Blog || Website

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The Fine Print:

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Jocelyn Drake, Mystery/Suspense/Action Thriller, Reviewed by Maryann, Rinda Elliott, Self-Published

Review: Shiver by Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott

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Amazon

Amazon

Title: Shiver (Unbreakable Bonds: Book One)

Authors: Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 301 Pages

At a Glance: I seriously think this will be an exciting series. It left me hungry for more!

Reviewed By: Maryann

Blurb: Lucas Vallois is always in control. He’s building an empire in the glittering city of Cincinnati and created his own family from his three close friends. The self-made millionaire has everything he wants within his tight grasp. But his world starts to crumble after he’s jumped by a trio of thugs late one night after leaving a club. The warning is clear—give up his new property venture or end up dead.

Caving to the demands of his friends, Lucas accepts the help of bodyguard, Andrei Hadeon, as he hunts for the source of this new threat. But as Lucas gets closer to uncovering the danger, he realizes the sexy Romanian bodyguard poses an even bigger risk to his carefully constructed world. Trapped by a need he never expected, Lucas must find a way to deny the shiver of longing he cannot control.

His brother. His warrior. His heart. Four friends. Unbreakable bonds.

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Review: In Shiver, we meet four interesting and somewhat mysterious men:  Lucas Vallois, businessman; Dr. Ashton “Snow” Frost; Ian Pierce, chef; and Rowe, security. Lucas and these men have a very unique bond, and they are all the family he has. We find that Lucas is the strength and the glue that holds them all together, and with these men he can let his guard down. He also has a dark dangerous side that no one can control.  Lucas is willing to invest his money in giving back to the run down parts of Cincinnati, but someone is making a great effort to stop him.

Rowe steps in and demands Lucas have a bodyguard, Andrei Hadeon, former professional martial arts fighter. Lucas is by no means happy with the bodyguard situation, or with Andrei. He doesn’t do dating, repeats, or straight men, but he does know that he wants Andrei. Andrei has some things to figure out about himself, and I thought the conversation that he and Ian had made him look at things more clearly. The chemistry between Lucas and Andrei leaps off the pages, not just physically but emotionally. They both struggle with whether they are right for each other. Their story doesn’t seem to end with a HEA, but they do agree to work on it.

And I can’t forget to mention Detective Hollis Banner. He’s a thorn in everyone’s side, especially Lucas’. He’s going to be one character who will rock the boat.

Shiver was a surprise, a fast paced page turner filled with danger, suspense, wild fight scenes, and a crazy descriptive car chase. And, was not without humor. Oh, and the passion will tug at your heart strings. Jocelyn Drake and Rinda Elliott are just amazing with the written word. I seriously think this will be an exciting series. It left me hungry for more!

TNA_Signature_Maryann

 

 

 

 

You can buy Shiver here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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3.5 Stars, Dreamspinner Press, Genre Romance, Mary Calmes, Reviewed by Sammy, Short Story

Review: Easy Evenings by Mary Calmes

Amazon

Amazon

Title: Easy Evenings (Mangrove: Book Four)

Author: Mary Calmes

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 77 Pages

At a Glance: Several huge plot holes turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story.

Reviewed By: Sammy

Blurb: Lazlo Maguire doesn’t do relationships—he does transactions. Six months of the year, he’s an expensive rent boy in Manhattan, and he moves so fast that settling down could not, would not, ever enter his mind… except for once. Britton Lassiter he meets man to man, not as hustler and mark, and it’s too good to be true when the lawyer wants to keep Lazlo even if he has to share him with the job.

But Lazlo has his reasons to walk away from the man he’s grown to love. The other six months of the year, he is laid-back Laz, a shopkeeper in the sleepy coastal town of Mangrove, Florida, where the artist he never allows himself to be in the Big Apple shines through. He lives for his time by the ocean, the place he hides his secrets and nurses his broken heart.

Then fate intervenes, and Laz gets the surprise of his life when he spies Britton in Mangrove—but it’s not meant to be… not until Britton sees the change in him and wants to be a part of Laz’s new life so that every evening can be easy… together. Hopefully the secrets that tore them apart won’t come back to haunt them.

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Review: Let me begin by saying that author Mary Calmes writes very sweet and lovely romance stories. This is an author I go to when I really want a bit of escapism. Her stories are most notable in that any great conflict is usually quickly resolved, her people are beautiful, angst is minimal, and there is always a swift and loving happy ever after. So, it’s safe for me to say that when I choose to review one of her stories, I look at them in this light, with an eye more toward fantasy than realistic m/m relationships. Her latest installment in the Mangrove series, Easy Evenings, is no exception.

Lazlo Maguire is a rent boy. He divides his year between time in Manhattan, where he provides sexual hookups for a variety of clientele, to the quiet town of Mangrove, Florida, leading a quiet life as a shop keeper and creating sculpted wind chimes and various other things out of metals. When he meets Britton Lassiter, his world is turned upside down. Britton makes him want things that he can’t possibly have, and feel things that he’s never felt before. For the first time, here is someone who could possibly make Laz walk away from his rent boy existence. But Lazlo’s life is not his own and despite how much he would like to have that happy ever after with Britton, the responsibilities he has will never allow him to give up the empty life that holds him prisoner.

The story picks up when Laz return for his six month stint at home in Mangrove, and discovers that Britton has moved his law practice to the same town. Without much of a clue as to the why and how, we discover Britton has taken out a restraining order against Laz, and one can only assume that is because Laz has been attempting to reestablish their relationship. This would be the same relationship that Laz walked away from after realizing that Britton was worthy of much more than a rent boy for a life partner. All of this is done in flashback style, narrated by Laz himself—so it is sketchy at best. Then there is a sudden twist in the story when a little three-year-old girl is unceremoniously dumped on Lazlo’s front porch, and he is informed that he is the father. Suddenly everything changes, including his relationship with Britton.

Laz is one of the sweetest characters I’ve ever read about. The reasons behind his being a rent boy almost broke my heart. The sweet little girl that he is left with is quite precocious. While she seems a bit too old in her outlook for the age of three, and her dialogue is way too sophisticated for that age as well, I was able to overlook that as the way in which she was written made her truly delightful. These two really captured my heart in a big way—I wanted them to be happy in every way possible.

Britton was a real study in contrasts. Needing to submit to Laz in the bedroom while, at the same time, so fiercely eager to take care of Laz outside of it, I felt I knew so little about him. This was really Laz’s story from beginning to end, and I felt that Britton was a bit underdeveloped as a main character. However, the two made a fiery match and were very well suited to each other. Unfortunately, this was a swiftly moving story and as a result, I felt like major chunks of the story were left untold. For instance the reasons for the restraining order were never really discussed. And just as quickly as it was mentioned, Britton was dropping it in order to be with Laz.

Also, the declaration that he had never had unprotected sex other than with Britton was a blatant lie, particularly since earlier in the story he relates how one evening he had sex with a trick’s wife which apparently produced the little girl Katie. Then again, we are told in the story that he never gives out his real name while turning tricks in Manhattan, except to Britton, yet three years after that one evening, the stepfather currently stuck with Katie after her mother had died is able to track Laz down without knowing his real name. There is a hint that Lazlo knew more about Katie’s mother, but it was never explained so it left me unsure as to how Katie even came to exist.

Ultimately, it was these huge plot holes that turned this novella from a sweet little romance into a rather confusing story. Every time one of these inconsistencies ripped me from the pages, I had to make a concerted effort to put my head back in the game and continue the story. I have read other short stories by this author and found them to be quite lovely. Unfortunately, Easy Evenings had too many troublesome and conflicting details to make this a romance I could recommend.

TNA_Signature_Sammy

 

 

 

 

You can buy Easy Evenings here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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All Romance eBooks

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Cardeno C., Giveaways

Book Blast and Giveaway: Jesse’s Diner by Cardeno C.

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Blurb: Two men with a shared history and a mutual attraction must be honest with themselves and each other so both their dreams come true.

Quiet, unassuming Tanner Sellers spends his time running a diner in Hope, Arizona. Not particularly social, twenty-two-year-old Tanner keeps to himself and enjoys his simple life, but he longs for someone to call his own. In his most secret fantasy, that someone is sexy Steve Faus. But Steve is his friend’s father and mentor’s widower and therefore off-limits.

Despite some challenges, thirty-nine-year-old Steve Faus has had a good life. He’s extremely successful at work, has a great relationship with his college-age son, and lives in a wonderful town. Eighteen months after losing his partner, the one thing Steve lacks is someone to share his life. If Steve is honest with himself, that someone is the young man he has known and cared about for years. Steve and Tanner want one another, all they need is a little push in the right direction to make both their dreams come true.

 

BUY LINKS

All Romance eBooks / Amazon / Amazon UK / Barnes & Noble

iBooks / Kobo / Smashwords
Smashwords Coupon: YT92Dgoodreads-smallDividers

EXCERPT:

Chapter 1

“Tanner, Mike’s on the phone for you.”

“Thanks, Miranda.” I set down the knife I was using to julienne peeled broccoli stems, wiped my hands on my apron as I walked into the tiny office off the kitchen, and then picked up the phone handset. “Hi, Mikey.”

“Hey, Tanner. Did I catch you at an okay time?”

“Yeah.” I dropped into the beat-up leather chair. “Lunch crowd is gone and the dinner rush won’t start for another couple hours yet.”

“What’s for dinner?”

“Your pop’s broccoli coleslaw. Jared McFarland had a great crop this season so he gave us a bunch.”

“Still using Pop’s recipes at the diner, huh? You know you don’t have to.” He paused and lowered his voice. “Same with his name.”

Mike’s father had opened Jesse’s Diner thirty years earlier and everyone in our small town of Hope, Arizona had loved the food almost as much as they’d loved the man. Jesse had been a father figure to half the town, myself included, and a year and a half after he died, we all still acutely felt his loss.

“This will always be Jesse’s Diner,” I said firmly. “I’m just taking care of it for him.”

“He left the diner to you, Tanner. No conditions or strings. He wanted you to run it, not turn it into a mausoleum.”

Unsure of how to respond to the reminder that Mike’s father had left his business to an employee instead of his son, I cleared my throat and wriggled uncomfortably.

“I’ve told you a million times that I have no issue with it. My pop knew I’d never move back to Hope to run the diner and my dad has more than enough money to put me through school.”

Both true statements. Shortly after high school graduation, Mike had moved to Las Vegas for college and immediately proclaimed Sin City as his forever home. His fathers weren’t surprised because Mike had always wanted to live in a big city, and frankly, they were just thankful his new home was only a three and a half hour car ride away. Plus, while the diner had brought in enough money for Jesse to get by, his partner Steve Faus had been the primary bread winner in their family.

“Don’t go silent on me, Tanner. The whole town knows you love that diner as much as my pop did and they’re glad he left it in your hands. Quit feeling guilty about it and doing everything exactly like he did. He would have wanted you to make it your own.”

“I, uh, changed the way we deliver the checks,” I admitted quietly.

After a pause, Mike asked, “The way you deliver the checks?”

“Yeah. You know how we had those black plastic trays?” I rubbed my lips together.

“Uh-huh.”

“I replaced them with old books.”

“Books?”

“Old books.” I nodded even though Mike couldn’t see me. “I picked a couple dozen of them up at Second Hand. Now we tuck the check into the book, bring it over with a pen, and encourage the customers to write a note inside. Everyone’s been having fun sharing comments and reading what other people wrote. It’ll get even better as the years pass and the pages get filled. People can see what they said when they were younger. Kids can see what their parents wrote, someday even their grandparents.”

I loved the idea of ongoing connections through generations. It was something I’d missed in my own life, that sense of being part of something. Living in Hope helped because the community was exceptionally tightknit, but I’d moved there as a teenager so I didn’t have the same ties as many others.

“That’s a…charming idea. Very Hope.”

Exactly. “Thanks.”

“What else do you have planned?”

“What do you mean?” I clenched my jaw.

“Come on, Tanner. I’ve known you since you were sixteen. You have other ideas for the place.”

Intentionally misunderstanding, I said, “Your pop was a great cook. His recipes are perfect.”

“Yes, he was.” Mike sighed wistfully. “And you make them really well. But I meant the diner itself. You can’t let all those hours you spend watching HGTV go to waste.”

“I don’t—”

“Six years, Tanner. We’ve been friends for six years.”

Which meant he knew me better than anyone. I’d met Mike in high school when I was a scrawny junior trying to get away from a couple of seniors who loved to tease and torment me, and Mike was a giant freshman who had no trouble stepping in front of them and putting a stop to the problem. I had been equal parts grateful and surprised. Grateful because nobody had ever stood up for me before then. Surprised because Mike nonchalantly told me he had two dads and anyone who had a problem with gay people would have a problem from him.

I knew I was gay before I reached my teens, and the school bullies probably picked on me because they suspected it, but nobody had ever said it out loud until that moment. And I’d reacted to Mike’s casual proclamation with the same knee-jerk, shame-fueled fear as I did to his observation that I enjoyed decorating shows.

“Fine. I like remodeling shows. So what?” I said defensively.

Admitting I watched television programs marketed toward women played into a stereotype I wasn’t quite willing to embrace and yet couldn’t escape. My mannerisms were too effeminate, my voice too soft, and my body too underdeveloped. Jesse had always said men came in all shapes and sizes and there was nothing wrong with how I looked, but that was hard to believe when I was attracted to guys with larger, hairier bodies, deeper voices, and more rugged features. For that matter, so was Jesse if his partner was any indication. I had nearly swallowed my tongue the first time I’d seen six foot, five inch, two hundred twenty pound former college football player Steve Faus, and six years later, my reaction to the older man was only slightly less humiliating. Thankfully, Steve either didn’t notice my obsession with him or he was too polite to mention it.

“So nothing,” Mike said. “Watch whatever TV shows you like, man. I’m just pointing out that the diner walls probably haven’t been painted in thirty years and the booths are just as old. Don’t pretend you’re fine with the duct tape holding the tears in the vinyl together. You keep that tiny guesthouse you rent from the sheriff shiny enough to do surgery on the floor so I know you’re itching to update the diner and I say go for it.”

I squirmed again, this time because he was right—I wanted to fix those problems and more. “I might freshen a few things up. We’ll see how the money pans out at the end of the year.” And if I had the nerve to push aside Jesse’s memory and truly take his place. “Anyway, I doubt you called me to talk decorating tips. What’s up?”

“My dick,” Mike said and then immediately snorted and giggled.

“That joke wasn’t funny when you were fourteen, and it’s gotten progressively less funny over the years,” I said dryly.

“I think it’s hilarious.”

“That makes one of us.”

“Whatever, dude. You’re too uptight. You need to get laid.”

“I can’t believe girls are actually willing to go out with you when you talk like that.”

“I’m hot.” He lowered his voice and suggestively said, “Besides, I do other things with my mouth they really enjoy. Like Naomi, this girl I’m seeing now, she goes wild when I—”

“Don’t tell me about your sex life, Mikey. I don’t want to know.” It was the truth. Mike was the closest thing I had to a brother, so I’d never had so much as an ounce of attraction to him. Or maybe that was because I’d used up all my attraction tickets on my unhealthy obsession with his dad.

“Hey, man, I’m doing you a favor. Hearing about my action is as close as you are to getting any.”

“For all you know, I’m getting plenty of action but I’m too much of a gentleman to talk about it.” Lies. My sex life was embarrassingly non-existent and my personal life was just as lonely.

Mike scoffed disbelievingly.

I didn’t bother to push the point because, frankly, there was no way he’d buy it. “What do you want, Mikey?”

“I need you to do me a favor and check in on my dad.”

“Your dad?” I squeaked. Lovely. Now Mike would either think I was going through a second puberty or notice my inappropriate reaction to the mention of his dad. Hoping he hadn’t been paying close attention, I cleared my throat and spoke again. “What’s, uh, going on with your dad?”

“The vice president of his company called me. She said he isn’t himself and they’re making him take time off.”

Jesse’s death had come as a shock to all of us—pancreatic cancer that hadn’t been detected until Jesse lay in the hospital unconscious. Two days later, he was dead at the age of sixty-seven.

“He’s mourning the death of his partner. Of course he isn’t his old self,” I said defensively. “And by the way, calling someone’s kid to talk about his job issues is completely unprofessional.”

“My dad’s worked for that company forever and they’re worried about him. His boss and I get along. She didn’t have anyone else to call.”

When Mike still lived in town, I hadn’t known Steve as well as I’d known Jesse. Some of that was because of how frequently he traveled for work—the man was an unrepentant workaholic. But I’d also limited our interactions because I’d been uncomfortable with my reaction to him. After all, it takes a special kind of pathetic sleaze to not only lust after a friend’s father, but also the partner of a man who had taken me under his wing. But now that Mike had moved away and Jesse had died, Steve lived alone, so when he wasn’t traveling, he stopped by the diner for dinner and I always made sure to say hi to him and chat for a little while. That meant I now knew Steve well enough to realize how much he enjoyed his work.

“If they’re so worried, they should talk to him, not you. And your dad loves his job! Why would they take that from him when he already lost…” I didn’t need to finish that sentence because Mike knew exactly what his dad had lost. The whole town mourned Jesse’s passing but only Steve had shared his home and his bed for decades. I couldn’t begin to imagine his pain.

“Arguing with me won’t change anything, Tanner. I’m not his boss.”

Realizing my reaction was over the top, I drew in a deep breath and said, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay, but a company doesn’t bench its star sales guy and lose tons of money unless something’s wrong. I have classes and tests, but I’ll drive down there if you can’t help my dad.”

“Of course I’ll help him,” I snapped. After everything Jesse and Mike had done for me, I’d never turn my back on their family. Even if this particular family member had fueled countless inappropriate fantasies and guilt-inducing dreams.

“Cool. Call me after you see him and let me know what’s up. If he needs me, I’m there.”

Seeing Steve Faus meant I’d be up. That much was certain. I mentally smacked myself for using Mike’s bad humor. “I have to go, Mikey.”

“Later, Tanner.”

***

After getting through the bulk of the dinner rush, I filled takeout containers with the daily special, broccoli coleslaw, and a wedge of chocolate cake, and left the diner in Miranda’s and Joe’s capable hands. Founded in the late 1800s, Hope was a mix of new and old construction sprinkled in an area just under eight square miles in size and, as always, I enjoyed strolling through town. I used the quiet time to remind myself that I was doing my friend a favor by helping my mentor’s partner; I was not going to ogle a hot guy.

Unfortunately, the half-mile walk from Main Street to Steve’s mint green Victorian didn’t take long enough to accomplish what six years of the same internal lecture had failed to do. So with a resigned sigh, I adjusted my dick in a way I hoped would hide my inevitable arousal, held the bag of food in front of myself for the same reason, and rang the bell.

The house was two levels, each a decent size, so I patiently waited for Steve to answer the door, but as the minutes ticked by, I began to wonder if Mike was wrong about his father being on a break from work. I walked across the wraparound porch and peeked into the windows, not quite sure what I was looking for, but unwilling to abandon Steve if he needed help. Everything looked the same as it had when I’d last been there, which was before Jesse’s death. No lights were on, no shoes or jacket left out, nothing to indicate someone was home.

I stepped off the porch, walked backward across the lawn, and peered at the upstairs windows. The drawn curtains prevented me from seeing much, but the master bedroom light was on and I caught a flash of a silhouette through the glass. If Steve was home, why wasn’t he answering the door? A pang of worry hit me. Maybe Mike was right to be concerned. With a deep breath, I squared my shoulders and marched back up the porch steps.

“Steve,” I said in a volume I hoped could be heard through the wood door but not by the neighbors. “It’s Tanner Sellers.” I rang the bell and knocked. “I brought dinner.” After waiting for a full minute, I knocked again. “Steve, I know you’re there. Can you open the door?” I swallowed thickly. “Please?”

A few beats later, the lock clicked and the door swung open, revealing a disheveled, but still gorgeous, Steve Faus. “Hi, Tanner.” He sighed and dragged his fingers through his thick, black, and currently unruly hair. “Sorry. I was on a work call. What’s going on?”

A string of thoughts raced through my mind.

How do you always manage to look so damn hot?

I know you’re not working right now, so you couldn’t have been on a call for work.

Do you bite your lips or are they naturally full like that?

What happened at work?

Can I bite your lips?

Are you wearing underwear under those sweats?

Mike’s worried about you.

Please don’t be wearing underwear.

Thankfully, I had years of experience curbing my brain-to-mouth reflex when it came to Mike’s dad so instead of any of those things, I said, “I brought dinner,” and pushed the bag forward.

“Dinner?”

“Lasagna.” I bobbed my head. “It was today’s special. Broccoli coleslaw too.”

“Thanks, but I have a ton of work so—”

Not wanting him to brush me off, I said, “And chocolate cake. You love chocolate cake.” Which I knew because it had been served at Mike’s fifteenth birthday party, and when Steve had taken a bite, closed his eyes in bliss, and moaned, I had nearly ejaculated in my pants.

“Chocolate cake?” Steve flicked his gaze to the bag.

“Uh-huh. Just made it this morning so it’s still fresh.” I glanced down to make sure the bag still blocked my groin, the memory of those moans and that expression still affecting me five years later. “Do you have milk? I forgot to pack some but I can run over to Smitty’s and—”

“You don’t need to go to the store. My fridge may be bare, but I keep the essentials on hand.” Steve reached for the bag and then stepped to the side to make room for me to enter. “That pretty much consists of salt and vinegar chips, coffee, and because I can’t drink my coffee black, milk.”

I blinked, my surprise over that statement eclipsing my concern about having a noticeable hard-on. “That can’t be enough for a guy your size.” I cringed at my own comment, bit my lip, and hoped the heat in my cheeks wasn’t visible. “It’s a, uh, good thing I brought you dinner.”

“That was nice of you.” Steve put his hand on my back, urged me forward, and then closed the door.

The touch was simple, casual, fleeting, but it still set me on fire. Being around Steve without Jesse, Mike, or a diner full of people as a buffer gave me nowhere to escape. I closed my eyes and breathed in deeply, willing myself to calm down. So what if Steve Faus tripped every single one of my buttons? I was twenty-two, not sixteen, and a hot guy shouldn’t scramble my brain into oblivion. Not even a guy with a tall, muscular body, thick black hair, piercing blue eyes, and a deep soothing voice.

Oh, who was I kidding? I was sunk.

“Do you want to eat in the kitchen or the dining room?” Steve asked.

Bedroom, I thought. God, I was incorrigible. “Either one’s fine by me. Wherever you’re most comfortable.”

“I’ve been working so much lately that I’m almost never here, but when I am, I tend to eat on the couch or over the kitchen sink.” Steve smiled softly, his expression at once self-deprecating and endearing. “It’d be nice to sit down for a real dinner.”

My heart ached. “Dining room it is then.”

“Thanks, Tanner.”

I nodded, my throat too thick to speak. Resisting Steve was a challenge in any setting, but seeing the normally strong man vulnerable without reaching out to touch him was unbearable.

“I’ll get the plates.”

“Okay,” I croaked. I swallowed hard and walked into the dining room as Steve went to the kitchen.

Closing my eyes, I took deep breaths to calm down. I could do this. I could be Steve’s friend. We’d both lost someone important to us when Jesse passed and we both missed Mike since he’d moved away. There was no reason we couldn’t be there for each other. I was an adult now, a business owner. I was mature and responsible and perfectly able to keep my libido in check.

“Is everything okay?” Steve’s deep rich voice was tinged with worry.

I opened my eyes, ignored my uncooperative libido, and forced a smile onto my face. “Yes, fine. Sorry. I was, uh…”

“Daydreaming?” Steve grinned. “You’ve always done that.”

“I have?” I blinked in surprise.

“Uh-huh.” Steve nodded and set the plates and silverware on the table. “I remember when Mike first brought you around, you used to get this far away look on your face all the time, and when you saw us notice, you’d get embarrassed and blush.”

My cheeks heated. I knew exactly what Steve was describing and they weren’t daydreams. Well, maybe they were, but they were very specific daydreams, the kind people categorized as fantasies, and they were always about Steve.

Needing a change of topic, I said, “Do you want me to dish the food out?”

“Sure. I’ll get placemats.” Steve stepped over to the antique buffet. “Too fancy?” he asked, holding up placemats and cloth napkins.

“No, that’s nice. I can’t remember the last time I used a real napkin.” I opened the bags of food and dished portions onto each of the plates. “It was probably Christmas dinner when my grandmother was still alive.” Which was over three years earlier.

“Same here.” Steve put the placemats down across from each other on the long wood table and then ran his hands over them, making sure they were straight. “Jesse had so many people over for the holidays that we used paper plates and plastic forks. I bought these placemats at least five years ago, but I don’t think we ever used them.”

“I remember those dinners.” I had been one of the many guests at their Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter meals. “Jesse was good about giving us strays somewhere to be.”

“He was.” Steve sighed sadly. “I’ll go get drinks. I have coffee, milk, water, and beer. Pick your poison.”

On the one hand, beer usually helped me relax. On the other hand, I barely held myself in check sober, so combining alcohol and Steve was probably a recipe for disaster.

“I’m good with water.”

Quickly dipping his chin in acknowledgement, Steve left the room. When he returned a couple of minutes later, he had a glass of water in each hand and a Heineken tucked under his arm.

“It won’t bother you if I have a beer with dinner, right?” he asked as he set my water glass down.

He was leaning over my shoulder, his body heat warming my back and his breath ghosting across my cheek. If we had been naked, the scene would have been straight out of my fantasies.

“Not a bother,” I rasped. I bit my lip and held my breath, waiting for Steve to move to his side of the table. Looking at the square-jawed face and crystal blue eyes all night without leaping across the table would be an exercise in restraint, but if I had to inhale Steve’s scent and stay close enough to touch him, I’d pass out from sheer desire.

“The food smells great.” Steve straightened and inhaled deeply. “Did you hear that growl?” He patted his stomach as he walked to his chair. “I must be hungrier than I realized.”

“No, uh, I didn’t hear.” The sound of my heart pounding in my ears had drowned out everything else. “But I brought plenty of food.”

“Thanks.” Steve sat down, picked up his silverware, and arched his eyebrows. “You’re eating too, right?”

I glanced down at my plate and then picked up my fork. “Yes.”

“Good.” He ate a bite of coleslaw and then raised his beer bottle to his mouth. “When I’m traveling, I either eat alone in my hotel room or with a bunch of clients so I’m on all night. One of the things I liked best about being home was having a quiet dinner and just talking. But now…” He loudly breathed out, shook his head, and then took another bite. “Thanks for coming tonight, Tanner. This was just what I needed.”

Right then and there, I made a silent promise to bring Steve dinner the following night. And the night after that. And the night after that too. I couldn’t do much to make up for what he had lost, but a hot meal and company I could provide. And I’d find a way to keep my leering and drooling to a bare minimum.

 

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Cardeno C.Author Bio: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever- after sunset.

Cardeno’s Home, Family, and Mates series have received awards from Love Romances and More Golden Roses, Rainbow Awards, the Goodreads M/M Romance Group, and various reviewers. But even more special to CC are heartfelt reactions from readers, like, “You bring joy and love and make it part of the every day.”

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Cafe Risqué ~ SharedBlog | Pintrest | Google+ | Youtube

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Cardeno C., Giveaways

Guest Post and Giveaway: “Home” for the Holidays with Cardeno C.

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I love the holiday season – cool weather, glowing fires, hot beverages, and most of all, enjoying time with friends and family. To celebrate this season, I’m offering the box set of all seven of my Home eBooks for a sale price of $9.99. The special offer will begin on Thanksgiving, November 26 and expire on December 2nd.

The Home Collection: finding love brings you home. 7 full-length, free-standing, feel good, gay romance novels. Amazon buy link || All Romance ebooks buy link || B&N buy link || Kobo buy link.

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Where He Ends & I Begin: For best friends Jake & Nate the question isn’t how they ended up in bed together but how they stay there.

Walk With Me: Serious, responsible Seth longs for sexy, outspoken Eli but must decide if he’s willing to veer from his safe life-plan.

The One Who Saves Me: Boyfriends come & go but best friends are forever has always been Andrew & Caleb’s mantra. Can they be both?

Love at First Sight: David must find the courage to share himself & Jonathan must find the strength to tell the truth.

Home Again: Two men whose love has never faltered relive their most treasured moments in order to secure their future.

Just What the Truth Is: If Ben wants to find love with Micah, he’ll have to own up to the truth of who he is.

He Completes Me: Aaron has waited years for a man who can share his heart and he insists it’s party boy Zach.

I wish you happy reading this holiday season and all year long!

CC

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As a special gift to readers, Cardeno C. is offering the chance for one lucky reader to win the Home Collection box set in E-Format of the winner’s choice. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter for a chance to win.

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5 Stars, Boroughs Publishing Group, Genre Romance, Susan Mac Nicol

Review: Cross to Bare by Susan Mac Nicol

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Title: Cross To Bare (Men of London: Book Five)

Author: Susan Mac Nicol

Publisher: Boroughs Publishing Group

Pages/Word Count: 197 Pages

At a Glance: OMG, she has done it again! Warning, I could get gushy…

Reviewed By: Carrie

Blurb: Tough in business but romantic at heart, fashion designer Lenny James isn’t hiding his masculinity behind his super successful female alter ego, but a vulnerability that only handsome financier Brook Hunter will be man enough to reveal…and worship.

TWO OF A KIND

It’s amazing what a little mascara and lipstick, a blonde wig, false boobs, and top-notch female fashion can hide. Not that Lenny James is hiding his masculinity. He uses his normal voice when he’s Laverne, and he’s not particularly camp as a man. His reasons for creating his alter ego are locked deep in his past. He is who he is: tough in business, and a romantic at heart. What he’s hiding is vulnerability. He wants a man to accept both sides of him.

Gorgeous, commanding, and dark as sin, Brook Hunter meets Lenny and knows nothing about Laverne until fate pushes her into his path. Cross-dressing is as far from Brook’s reality as fashion is from his world of diplomacy and high finance. Understanding and truth take time, and trust doesn’t come easy. But Brook is about to show Lenny that there are no sides to true love, just the place where they meet in the middle.

Cross to Bare is book five in the Men of London Series, and each can be read as a standalone.

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Review: I cannot say enough about Susan Mac Nicol.  When I am in a reading slump, I go and pull out a Men of London book from my archives, and suddenly my world is okay again. You would think that with each new book in the series, the author would have to finally hit one that just didn’t work – but NOPE!  This book is just as amazing as the rest of the ones in this series. Each book is so unique – yes, they have crossover characters, and the cameos these secondary characters play in the other books is like cinnamon sugar on your oatmeal: sweet with a hint of spice. (Yes, Leslie, you are still amazing!) Cross to Bare is a brilliant read with tight writing and a sharp dialogue that catches you from page one and doesn’t let you go until the HEA.

Lenny James bucks the stereotypes.  By day, at work, he is Laverne Debussy-Smith, a noted fashion designer of men’s and ladies’ furnishings. A transvestite, for sure, Lenny is very happy as a gay man and is one of the most secure people inside his own skin I have ever read about. He is who he is, and he came to terms with it years ago. He isn’t flamboyant and uses his own voice and mannerisms when dressed as Laverne. Unfortunately, finding your true love when dressed as a woman can be problematic… but that doesn’t stop the romantic inside him from wishing it could happen. I had to throw out all my drag queen stereotypes when relating to Laverne, and the author does a bang up job of breaking through them anyway. Lenny is a man. A gay man, but a man. Make no mistake. Susan Mac Nicol breaks it down to a romance between two very strong gay men, each with a commanding personality.

Brook Hunter works in high finance. The son of diplomats, he is a conservative in his beliefs and actions. As a highly reserved man, he fits in well at state dinners and knows which fork to use for each course served. He thought he met the man of his dreams when he fell for Lenny James, and doesn’t understand when Lenny breaks things off without a word as to why.  Then fate steps in, and Brook takes a meeting with Laverne, who is applying for a business loan, and Brook gets the shock of his life. Here is where we see the first hint that things are going to be okay with these two, as Brook is mad that Lenny didn’t trust him, not because he is dressed as a woman. Brook looks past the façade to the man beneath, and challenges Lenny to make him understand. It is not an easy journey for either man, Susan Mac Nicol has a challenge putting these two men together, but she accepted that challenge and writes it in a believable way that makes these characters come alive and off the page. There is a lot of acceptance on both sides of the fence for these men to overcome, and the author tackles it head on with her wit and clever writing style. The pacing of this book is spot on.

“I love you, you know that?” Brook whispered in his ear as he held Lenny’s face in between wet hands and gazed at him with such tenderness Lenny almost blubbered. “Every facet of you. Every sexy, manly, wig-wearing, dress-clad facet of you. I am so proud of you, being who you want to be. One day I hope to grow up and be like you.”

This is a story filled with humor, love, acceptance, hot sex, intrigue and twists. In short, you will not be bored. Read this book, read all the Men of London books, read all Susan Mac Nicol books… I know I warned you about the gushy, but you will not be disappointed!

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4 Stars, Amber Allure, Reviewed by Taz, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Vivien Dean

Review: Savage Estate by Vivien Dean

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Title: Savage Estate

Author: Vivien Dean

Publisher: Amber Allure

Pages/Word Count:  272 Pages

At a Glance: I would recommend this book without reservation. It kept me on my toes, and I stayed up later than I probably should have to find out how the book ended.

Reviewed By: Taz

Blurb: For his twenty-fifth birthday, Alec Savage gets the gift of a lifetime—the chance to meet his father for the very first time. What he finds upon his arrival in Washington, DC, however, is a smashed window, an empty house, and a scrawled note with only his name and a phone number on it. Panicked, he dials the number and talks to an uncle he never knew he had, one who insists Alec is in danger if he stays in the house. That’s when everything starts to get really weird.

Within minutes, he’s teleported all the way to nowhere Montana, in the company of the most gorgeous guy he’s ever seen, hearing about how he’s the latest mage in the Savage line. Alec doesn’t want to believe Rowan Bouchard, but it’s hard to argue with the reality of his new snowbound location or the confirmation from the uncle who greets him. He even thinks staying on the estate while they hunt for his father won’t be so bad if he has Rowan as eye candy.

Except Rowan is more than that. He’s a shifter, the most beautiful black panther Alec could imagine. And according to his Uncle Martin, he’s now Alec’s familiar, too…

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Review: Savage Estate has so many of the things I love: familiars, mages, magic, action. One character discovering he likes guys. All-in-all, a very satisfying read. For the most part, this story follows timid Alec, someone who’s kind of lost until he meets Rowan, right at a crucial turning point in his life. He’s about to come into his powers and, therefore, come under direct threat by those who would rid the world of mages. Rowan, a stoic and dutiful man, arrives on scene to save belligerent Alex, and the story rolls on from there.

Alec and Rowan start a little like oil and water, but feelings quickly develop. While Rowan is supposedly “straight,” or at least had been up until he met Rowan, the instant bonding of mage and familiar unlocked something in him that he’d not known existed. Once the plotline began to unfold, the story took wings. Dirty politics, not knowing who to trust, estranged father reconnected with abandoned son.

While the book was an enjoyable read, and I became more and more engrossed in the story as it unfolded, there were still certain aspects of the storyline which seemed a bit too convenient for my tastes. Primarily it seemed a bit of a cop-out to have Rowan become gay once he connected with Alec. People don’t become gay, they either are or aren’t…or they’re bisexual or asexual, or some other combination of the many identifications out there. I would have preferred that Rowan had discovered his true nature as a gay man, even if his attraction was only, and would always be, for one man. Also, I wish a bigger deal had been made of Alec coming into his powers. The fact he was about to receive his powers at the onset of the book created the conflict necessary for the plot to move forward, and we do get a taste of his powers, but in the end, his magic isn’t what brings us to the climax and ending.

With all that said, I would recommend this book without reservation. It kept me on my toes, and I stayed up later than I probably should have to find out how the book ended.

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4.5 Stars, Avery Cockburn, Genre Romance, Reviewed by Lisa, Self-Published

Review: Play It Safe by Avery Cockburn

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Title: Play It Safe: A Glasgow Lads Story

Author: Avery Cockburn

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 65 Pages

At a Glance: I just keep loving on these boys so hard.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: In this followup story to Playing for Keeps, Fergus and John must overcome bad advice, broken headboards, and the Doppelgänger from Hell to find their forever bliss. A must-read for Glasgow Lads fans—and for new readers, a short ’n’ sweet intro to this hot new Scottish gay-romance series!

“Fancy a game of hide-and-seek?”

After living together for three months, Fergus Taylor and John Burns have come to love each other’s quirks, and the bond between them is starting to look permanent. But when John wants to take things to the next level, Fergus balks, haunted by the betrayals in his own past.

To overcome these fears, Fergus and John must embark on an epic journey, one that tests their faith, their trust, and their ability to keep a cool head in a hot, hot place.

Note: Like all Glasgow Lads books, Play It Safe may be read as a stand-alone story.

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Review: It’s no big secret how much love I have for Avery Cockburn’s Glasgow Lads. John and Fergus, Colin and Andrew (I have yet to read the prequel, Play On), both couples stole my heart in their respective books and never even tried to give it back. And I love that sometimes when that happens, when I get the couple’s HEA but wish there could still be just a wee bit more to the story, the author goes and gives me exactly what I want. That’s what Cockburn’s done for John and Fergus in Play It Safe.

First let me say that though this novella is billed as a standalone, I don’t feel as though I’d have experienced the fullest depth of love for it had I not had the boys’ backstory. Or, the likelihood is that I’d have liked it on a different level, because there’s no disputing it’s still heartwarming and sexy. John and Fergus’s beginning in Playing for Keeps hinged a good bit on trust issues—Fergus was short on trust because of a bad breakup; John didn’t do much to foster it because of a rather volatile secret he was keeping. The inability for Fergus to give of himself fully becomes the cornerstone upon which the author builds Play It Safe. Does Fergus trust John enough to take their relationship to the next level—a level that requires complete faith in a place where Fergus has been burned before? I thought they were there, but I was wrong, so that’s my roundabout way of saying that had I not had all the puzzle pieces in place, the story would have been perfectly lovely but maybe not as emotionally engaging as it was.

That said, I adore this little vignette. This is the true beginning to John and Fergus’s happily-ever-after, as they work through one final obstacle so they can start their future together. And I must say, they got a little creative in a fun and seductively suggestive way; playful, but there was also a good bit of tension of the non-sexual variety that gave the story an edge too, which does nothing but make the sweet part that much more gratifying once we get there.

If you haven’t read this series yet but are planning to, please don’t read this first. Read Playing for Keeps first. It’s so worth it, and then you can slip right into Play It Safe without a hiccup. Again, it’s so worth it and I’d bet you’ll want to anyway. I can say this with almost no reservations because Avery Cockburn has created all these new adult characters you can’t help but love, with all their charm and charisma just oozing off the pages. That’s how they get under your skin and worm their way into your heart, they’re just that loveable.

The conflict in this story is so real for Fergus, and John just keeps going on to prove how utterly wonderful he is. Fergus was afraid he may have given John enough rope to hang himself. John didn’t tighten the noose, though. He didn’t even come close. He just left the rope behind as a trail to lead Fergus back to him. And it was priceless.

I’m head over heels for this series and its characters. It’s one of my best discoveries of 2015, no question about it, and I’m hoping like crazy to hear more from Colin and Andrew, sooner rather than later.

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You can buy Play It Safe here:

Amazon US

Amazon US

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