S.A. McAuley

Guest Post and Exclusive Excerpt: The Borders War Series by S.A. McAuley

Borders War Banner

Have you ever read a book and thought, Wow! This would be really great if only [insert MAJOR PLOT-SHIFTING idea here].

Well, that was me—except this time, it was my own book I wanted to change.

When I wrote the first edition of One Breath, One Bullet I knew exactly how and where Merq and Armise would eventually end up, but I didn’t officially have plans to turn it into a series. After a discussion with my editor and publisher, we collectively decided to pursue the full five book Border War series. But One Breath, One Bullet was already well on its way to being finalized. So we went ahead with publication of the first book. I wrote the second book—Dominant Predator—and it was published too. Then as I began to write the third book—Powerless—I realized exactly what I should’ve done different in the first book to make the entire series flow better.

Hindsight is a vindictive asshat.

Writing a series was a new endeavor for me at the time. I learned a lot in the year between the first book and the third. I started making lists of all the things I’d change if I ever got the chance. Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait long. That opportunity came when Pride Publishing was created as a sister company to Totally Bound. Immediately we started talking about doing re-issues of The Borders War series.

I channeled my inner infomercial host, gleefully categorizing all the improvements I could make on these *Bigger! Better! And more efficient!* versions.

The edition of One Breath, One Bullet that releases on January 5, 2016 is a completely different book. It’s gone from 30,000 words to 50,000 words (*now with 60% more violence and enemies to lovers action!*), the flashbacks have been removed in favor of a continual timeline (*that’s right, no more mess and inconvenience!*), and you finally get to hear a bit of what Armise has to say (*warning: this product may have unintended consequences if used against manufacturer’s recommendations*).

If you haven’t read any of The Borders War books, now is a great time to start. As an author, I’m really happy with how the series overall has turned out. More importantly, as a fellow reader who goes way over budget on books, I’m ecstatic to share that Pride Publishing is offering One Breath, One Bullet for FREE and Dominant Predator for 99 cents from now until the end of January. (*Yes, that’s right! Order now and we’ll throw the first book in for free!*)

Even if you’ve already read the first book, read the new version of One Breath, One Bullet. It’s free, get it. Please. I can’t be any clearer on that without giving away major spoilers.

(*ahem*)

Anyway…

What hasn’t changed in the reissues of the first three books is Merq and Armise’s inescapable draw to each other despite being enemies. Or that the world around them is falling apart. Or that they’re going to have to fight through a whole hell of a lot to begin to get a glimpse of the HEA that may or may not be in their future.

The Borders War series is violent. It’s dark. It takes place in a brutal time—five hundred years in the future—that is inhabited by some coldhearted people.

But above all that desolation, there is the hope Merq and Armise carry for their lives to mean something. For each other.

Their story starts with the release of One Breath, One Bullet and Dominant Predator on January 5, continues in Powerless (out January 12) and will end when the last two books of the series—Falling, One by One and Strength of the Rising Sun—go live on January 19 and 26.

(*Don’t hesitate! Act now!*)

A massive thank you to all the readers who’ve stuck with me through the years it’s taken to get to this point.

I can’t wait to share the rest of their journey with you.

divider

onebreathonebullet_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – One Breath, One Bullet (The Borders War #1)Face to face, and rifle to rifle. The time and location change, but never the circumstance. Merq Grayson and Armise Darcan are enemies. And neither will be considered successful until the other is dead.

It is the year 2558. A mere decade has passed since the signing of the treaty which ended the three hundred year long Borders War. In the midst of an uneasy peace, the world gathers for the first Olympic games since the war began.

The Rifle competition showcases the very soldiers who fought in the war, pitting former enemies against one another again. Continental States Peacemaker Merq Grayson will once again battle the Dark Ops officer from the People’s Republic of Singapore, Armise Darcan, this time under the flag of their own uneasy truce. The relationship between Merq and Armise is one of violence, secrecy, and a growing intimacy that could have them both branded as traitors.

But there is more at stake than pride or medals in these games. And neither Merq nor Armise may be able to make it out alive before the fires of revolution are set ablaze again.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 5th January 2016

Reserve your free copy at Pride Publishing

divider

dominantpredatort_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – Dominant Predator (The Borders War #2)A relationship is the least of Merq and Armise’s concerns…

With one bullet Merq Grayson set the wealthiest citizens of the world on a collision course with the poorest—with those fighting for their freedom. As the Borders War reignites, the Revolution faces heavy losses. They scramble to maintain their advantage, to strike at the Opposition and crumble their power structure before they are able to rally.

But Merq is in the midst of an internal battle that shakes him to the core. For the first time in his life Merq will have to reconcile the inherent tragedy of war and decide just how much vengeance can be justified by spilt blood. How much can he trust the men and women around him? The President, Neveed, his former soldiers, his parents…and Armise.

Merq and Armise find themselves off grid and on the hunt for Committee members. Merq is just as unsettled with Armise at his side as he was with Armise as an enemy, but they will have to learn how to fight together—or they may just die together.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of violence.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 5th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing

divider

powerless_revamp_exlarge_PNG-180x288Blurb – Powerless (The Borders War #3)He was built to be invincible.

Merq and Armise return to the States after their mission to assassinate the remaining Committee members only to find the leadership of the Revolution isn’t as stable as they had thought.

Outside forces come crashing down on a Revolution stronghold, leaving two of their soldiers gravely wounded. Merq’s history with his brothers in arms Simion and Neveed forces him into making decisions that will impact his future with the Revolution.

Merq has always identified as a soldier first. Always known who deserved his loyalty and who didn’t. But with the uncertainty surrounding the leadership of the Revolution, the mysterious disappearance of the jacquerie and increased activity with the PsychHAgs, Merq knows there are few people he can trust.

The only man Merq wants or needs at his side is Armise Darcan. But his reliance on his former enemy may be a miscalculation that will threaten everything Merq stands for.

Reader Advisory: This book contains reference to genetic experimentation on children.

Publisher’s Note: This book has previously been released under the same title. It has been revised and re-edited for re-release with Pride Publishing.

General Release Date: 12th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing

divider

Falling, One by OneBlurb – Falling, One by One (The Borders War #4)Whether Armise lived or died was never supposed to matter to Merq.

As the fight for the kids of the jacquerie begins and the war between Opposition and Revolution heightens, Merq discovers that he may not have as much control over his actions as he thought he did. Further complicating their tangled relationship, Armise may be just as compromised.

Desperate to learn the truth, Merq and Armise put themselves directly in the path of a powerful enemy. They’ve spent fifteen years of their lives on the knife’s edge of trust and loyalty. What they learn about each other’s pasts—and what it means for their future—will bring them together or definitively tear them apart.

Merq’s life has always been at risk—one bullet away from death in sacrifice of his mission. As his focus begins to shift, Merq may be too late to understand what, and who, is most important in his life.

Reader Advisory: This book contains scenes of graphic violence, forced genetic modification, genetic experimentation, genetic experimentation on children and torture.

General Release Date: 19th January 2016

Pre-order your copy at Pride Publishing

divider

Strength of the Rising Sun (The Borders War #5)

Blurb coming soon!

divider

Excerpt – One Breath, One Bullet: “I don’t want your eyes to close. Not even to blink,” Jegs said over the comm.

“Yes, Major,” I replied, with Lark’s and Pax’s affirmative responses following mine.

I shifted my elbow off the rusted nail that was digging into my skin and kept my eye locked to the scope. I was stationed on a hill, my body covered in order to blend in to my surroundings, and not on the top level of a crumbling skyscraper in the American Federation, but otherwise, this setup was eerily similar to the first time I’d encountered Armise.

I couldn’t shake the unease that crawled down my spine as I peered at the building where Armise was supposedly holed up. This entire town, in the virtually unpopulated Western Territories, was long abandoned. Fighting between the States and the AmFed was heavy hundreds of miles away from where we were. But not here. Mostly because there was nothing here to defend. Nothing to protect. There were no other people besides Jegs, Lark and Pax, me and, reportedly, Armise. There was no way the coveted infochip was here. So there was no reason for a Dark Ops soldier to be here at all.

I frowned. “How much longer are we expected to keep this up, Major?”

“Until we kill him.”

“I have to see him to do that.”

She hesitated. “He’ll come out when he has reason to.”

I listened between her words, to what she wasn’t saying. “You know him?”

“I know enough.”

I scowled. “And you don’t think he’s here for the infochip.”

“I know he’s not.”

“Then why—”

Jegs cut me off. “Keep your eyes locked to that building, Grayson. You’ll only have one shot at him, maybe not even that.”

In my peripheral vision a wall of clouds gathered in the distance. Dark brown and rounded. A dust storm frothing on the horizon, gaining in strength as it whipped toward us.

Candlelight flickered in one of the upper rooms but I couldn’t see any other movement. The analysts had told us exactly where Armise would be and he hadn’t changed his location in days since we’d arrived, but none of us could site him in any of the places he should have been. Regardless, I was sure that he was here. Hiding. Watching. Assessing us and our actions for some ulterior motive we weren’t privy to.

I couldn’t see him but I could feel him watching. I didn’t have a name for the bristling of the hairs at the back of my neck. Or the flush of my skin that was like my blood rising to the surface where it felt like his gaze landed on me. Which was ridiculous because it was unlikely he even knew we were here.

But no matter what logically made sense, I couldn’t shake the unrest that crawled through me because of Armise.

I wanted to end this foreign sensation, needed to kill him in order to regain my equilibrium. From the little Jegs had shared with me though, Armise wasn’t the type to hand us that chance. From what I’d witnessed myself in the days we’d been watching him, I knew he wouldn’t be seen until he wanted to be. He was a ghost, setting the shredded curtains into movement but never revealing himself.

I spent hours with my eye glued to that scope, the dust storm barreling forward with each minute that passed. We would have an hour max before it hit us and there would be no chance of seeing my hand in front of my face, let alone keeping sites on the building. My patience threatened to break.

The outside edges of the dust storm kicked up around me, warning me that I had been wrong. We had half an hour, maybe less, before unpredictable air currents would hamper any shot from my rifle. I gritted my teeth. We weren’t accomplishing anything here.

Particles of dust tickled at my nose and eyes, but I held steady even as the wind picked up. I focused on the sway of the abandoned building as it tried to hold against the first onslaught of wind. It was as if the walls were breathing. Waiting and expectant. Just as much as I was.

The Borders War was swiftly approaching three centuries of active fighting, and we were still no closer to resolution than we’d been before it had started. I was set to be the impetus for change—the edges of a front, where warm air met cold and the sky swirled into chaos, emptying a rain onto the world that could wipe away the scars we’d left on this planet and ourselves. Allow us, as a global society, to start new. Rebuilding would take time, as would the reorganization of country borders, solidified down to only five in a mass consolidation of power. How that restructuring happened when the Borders War ended, at what pace, and who ended up in power wasn’t up to me. Strategy wasn’t my strength.

Killing men was.

I was tasked with a much larger end goal than killing one Dark Ops solider. But Armise was a threat. We couldn’t allow Singapore to gain the infochip. Every moment we sat here, waiting for Armise to take action, was another moment where we were being used as bait, or worse, a distraction. I closed my eyes and took in one long breath.

Although I’d been a Peacemaker for less than a year, and she was my senior in rank and age, it wasn’t Major Jegs I was beholden to. Not Brigadier Blanc. The dictatorial President Wensen Kersch of the Continental States couldn’t intimidate me either. I wouldn’t allow one Singaporean shit to tear away at my confidence by the act of doing nothing.

“He’s taunting us.” I sat up, pushing the camouflage off me and exposing my position.

Jegs’ voice went low and dangerous in my ear. “What the fuck are you doing, Captain?”

Before she could finish challenging me, both Lark and Pax had revealed their positions to my north and south.

Lark’s voice crackled over the comm receiver, gone staticky from the approaching storm. “Grayson’s got the right idea. We can’t try to wait him out anymore with that storm heading our way. He’s waiting for us to make a move, let’s do it.”

“I don’t give a shit if he is baiting us,” Pax added. “We have minutes until the dust hits and we’re out of commission for an unknown length of time. We can end this now.”

“Pax, cover Lark,” Jegs ordered. “Grayson, cover both of them.”

Lark slung his sonicrifle over his shoulder and took off running for the door while Pax covered him with shots aimed at that empty, but lit up, top floor window. Lark made it to the front door and I followed Lark’s trajectory through my sites, ready to take a shot if the opportunity came. The door swung open just as Lark went for it, and a man with his mouth, ears and nose covered with cloth, eyes masked by goggles, slammed the door into Lark’s face and sent him hurtling backward from the force. There was no way I could attempt a shot with the wind barreling down on us and the swiftness of Armise’s movements.

I took off at a dead sprint, bringing my sonicrifle up to attempt a shot while I ran. Armise was just as big as I remembered, just as powerful. I couldn’t run fast enough or get the right angle, Armise was already on the move, stomping his heel into Lark’s windpipe, crushing it with his boot and plunging a thick knife into his sternum. He spun, facing Pax, and popped off a shot from his rifle that had Pax slumping to the ground dead.

Jegs’ orders for me to stand down were background to the unceremonious decimation in front of me.

The cloth around Armise’s face had come lose in the whipping wind, and when he faced me there was a maliciousness to his sneer that spoke of certain victory. The satisfied swell of a man who had sent more than his share of souls into darkness but wouldn’t be truly satisfied until he had mine.

He lifted his sonicpistol, put finger to the trigger, and there was hesitation on his part— only half a heartbeat, barely perceptible, but there nonetheless—and the dust storm hit with a ferocity that sent me tumbling to the ground and filled the space between Armise and me with an impenetrable, stinging wall. I wrapped myself up in a ball, pulling my hood over my head and affixing my respirator.

“We ride this out,” Jegs said through my comm. “Try and make it into the building if you can. We’ll recover Lark’s and Pax’s bodies when it’s clear. Darcan is already gone.”

I hadn’t taken out Armise. He’d failed again to kill me and had taken out two of my fellow Peacemakers. I seethed, my pride stinging much more than the dust that abraded my skin. I didn’t care how long it took, I would be the one to end this, with me taking his life.

divider

S.A. McAuleyAbout S.A. McAuley: I sleep little, read a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. My name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. I’m a pretty dark/cynical/jaded person, but I hide that darkness well behind my obsession(s) for shiny objects. I’m the macabre wrapped in irresistible bubble wrap and a glittery pink bow, I suppose.

I have a never-ending-abyss-like secret love for poetry. Especially Rumi, Hafiz, and Neruda. You can predict (as well as change) my moods and my writing schedule by my playlists.

Insomnia is my greatest ally and my nemesis. I like cheese and bourbon—not necessarily in that order, I’m flexible.

If you’re in any fandom, then I’m probably already in love with you. I’m not joking.

I like my tv shows marathoned and I have to use internet blocking software to be productive. I have software called Producteev that I loaded onto my laptop and proceeded to fill out in detail and now I haven’t touched it in a year.

I enjoy normalized chaos.

Hit me up! I love to hear from readers. xx

-Sam

Standard
A.V. Sanders, Giveaways

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas Blog Tour with A.V. Sanders

WHACTourBannerTNAFinal

Please join us in welcoming author A.V. Sanders to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for her new holiday novelette Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas. Enjoy A.V.’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widgets for the chance to win some great prizes (**details below**).

Good luck!

Dividers

I’m thrilled to be here for the release of “Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas”! The Novel Approach has been gracious enough to host this first day in the “7 HOT Days of Christmas Blog Tour”, and is the Partridge in a White Fir Tree! 

To help celebrate, I’d like to share an exclusive excerpt from my new holiday novelette. In this scene, we learn about how our two main characters, Graham and Reid, had first met. The ‘drums’ being mentioned are drums with baited hooks floating in the ocean, designed to catch large sharks off Australia’s west coast. Both Graham and Reid were on a boat together, and a covert mission, to unbait the hooks. I hope you all enjoy the excerpt, and have a wonderful holiday!

xo, A.V.

Dividers

Excerpt: Meeting someone had been the thing furthest from his mind. But when Reid had first laid eyes on Graham, the quintessential Australian surfer, it had been hard to get them off again. Reid had been coursing with adrenaline while they’d skated across the water towards the first drum and had found himself squeezed onto a seat next to Graham. Even though there were six other people on the boat, Reid’s focus had been on the warmth from Graham’s body pressed against his. He remembered finding the scent of Graham’s aftershave or cologne particularly enticing, and with each swell in the water, Reid had leaned in, breathing the rich, woodsy scent.

They’d struck up a short conversation, centering on the sharks and the circumstances that found them both on that boat and breaking the law. Graham had seemed enchanted by Reid’s American accent, asking what part of the United States he was from, making Reid laugh. To him, growing-up in a suburb of Chicago, there was nothing special about his accent, or lack thereof. He’d told Graham, however, that he could listen to his manipulations of vowels all night long.

It was after that compliment that Reid had felt the first definitive spark of mutual attraction. Graham, a bit shy, had smiled in response. His eyes had cast down, then met Reid’s when he said thank you. During the drum line operation, Reid’s intrigue had grown. While he’d been focused on their mission, he’d made a point of getting Graham’s last name. In the wee hours later that night, Reid had friended him and sent him a message on Facebook. The conversation Reid had started with Graham that night had never stopped.

Dividers

WHAC-fTitle: Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas
Author: A.V. Sanders
Page/Word Count: 39 pages/11,500 words
Release Date: December 16, 2015
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Genre: Holiday Themed Contemporary Gay M/M Romance
Blurb: Reid, an American shark research scientist, is in Perth, Australia working to develop a mobile app that may revolutionize shark safety practices. But even the company of his boyfriend, Graham, isn’t enough to stave off homesickness as Christmas approaches, and a missing shark and Graham’s struggling business seem set to ruin the holiday for good.

Buy Links: *~Less Than Three Press~* // Amazon // All Romance ebooks // Smashwords // BookStrand.com // Kobo 

Dividers

WinterAvi2About the Author: A.V. Sanders loves and lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. She shares her home with her husband, two cats, and tropical aquarium fish. She is an avid hoarder of Halloween decorations and inconsequential information. When writing science fiction, mystery, horror and romance with LGBTQ main characters, she can be found staying up all hours of the night listening to endless sets of EDM music. She is an advocate of love, art, animals and frivolous acts of beauty. She also has a growing suspicion that not causing harm to one another is what matters in the end.

Connect With A.V. Sanders Online Website // Twitter // Facebook // Tumblr // Goodreads

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAYS

Giveaway #1: Click on the image below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas (or, if already owned, any LT3 e-title of equal or lesser value)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Grand Prize Giveaway: Click on the image below to enter for the chance to win a Handmade, Genuine Shark Tooth Necklace + FREE ebook of Wet, Hot, Australian Christmas (or, if already owned, any LT3 e-title of equal or lesser value)

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

CLICK HERE TO ENTER

Dividers

Tour Stops and Dates:

12. 16Wednesday – THE NOVEL APPROACHA Partridge in a White Fir Tree: Exclusive Excerpt + Giveaways
12. 17 – Thursday CARLY’S BOOK REVIEWSTwo Sea Turtles: ‘Christmas Memories’ with A.V. and Carly + Giveaways
12. 18 Friday PRISM BOOK ALLIANCEThree French Men: ‘Let’s Talk About: Sharks!’ + Giveaways
12. 19 Saturday BAYOU BOOK JUNKIEFour Sea Birds: ‘On Location: Inspiration for the Story’ + Giveaways
20 Sunday, Double Day! AUTHOR RJ JONES’ WEBSITE + BECAUSE TWO MEN ARE BETTER THAN ONE BOOK REVIEWSFive Engagement Rings: ‘Marriage Equality in Australia’ with A.V. + RJ Jones, Review at BTM, Giveaways at both!
21 Monday ON TOP DOWN UNDER BOOK REVIEWS Six Blokes a-Layin’…Out: Review + Story Playlist + Giveaways
12. 22 Tuesday HEARTS ON FIRE REVIEWS – Seven Sharks a-Swimmin’: Character Interview + Giveaways

Dividers

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

Standard
N.R. Walker

Book Blitz: Red Dirt Christmas by N.R. Walker

Red Dirt Christmas Banner

ReddirtheartChristmas1500Title: Red Dirt Christmas (Red Dirt Heart 3.5)
Author: N.R. Walker
Publisher: BlueHeart Press
Length: 54 Pages
Categories: Holiday Romance, Contemporary Romance
Buy Links: Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Smashwords

Blurb: Travis had been here for just over a year. We were technically engaged, not that we’d told anyone. He was happy just knowin’ I’d said yes, and I had some head-clearin’ stuff to work through. Knowing I was good enough for Trav was one thing, but knowing if I was good enough to be a husband and father was somethin’ else entirely.

Life at Sutton Station had never been better. Business was strong, Trudy and Bacon’s little baby, Gracie, was a few weeks old now and as cute as a button, Ma’s health was good, and my relationship with Laura and Sam was in a pretty good place. And Travis? Well, life with him was still all kinds of perfect.

But, to Travis’s dismay, Christmas at the Station was just another day. Another day of getting up before the sun, feeding animals, fixin’ what needed fixin’, and checking water troughs all while tryin’ to keep out of the blistering heat.

And this year weren’t much different. Only that it was Travis’s first Sutton Station Christmas. The fact we didn’t go all out with decorations and celebrations baffled him, and if I was bein’ truthful, it disappointed him too.

Which was why I had to make it a special kind of Christmas…

dividers

Excerpt: Chapter One

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas.

I was muckin’ out the stables with Billy when he stopped and leaned on his shovel. He was lookin’ out to the paddock and grinned his half-a-face smile. “Ah, boss. You might wanna take a look.”

I followed his line of sight and let out a long sufferin’ sigh. “Jesus.”

Billy laughed and I shook my head. We could see Trav smilin’ as he rode the dirt bike into the yard. Strapped onto the seat behind him was a six foot pine tree. He pulled the bike to a stop, and his grin got even wider.

I stared at him. “Trav, what’s that?”

“What does it look like?” he asked, his eyebrows knitting together. “It’s a tree.”

“I can see that.”

“Mr Travis,” Billy said, all concerned-like. “You can’t be cuttin’ them trees down. They special to the Aboriginal people’s culture. Mr Travis, you disrespectin’ our people.”

Travis’s face was priceless. He paled, his eyes went wide, and his mouth fell open. He looked at me for some kind of guidance, and I just shook my head and clicked my tongue. Travis turned back to Billy, close to panicking. “Oh. I didn’t know. Oh my God. I just thought it looked like a Christmas tree and there were plenty of them. Billy, I’m so sorry. I can take it back. I mean, I can’t replant it ‘cause you know.” He looked at the tree on the back of the bike and cringed. “Well, I hacked it off at the ground. God, I’m so sorry. Is there something I should do?”

Billy looked at the tree. “Well, there’s a spirit dance from the Dreamtime. The person who takes the tree needs to do it.”

Travis nodded seriously. “A spirit dance?”

Trav stared at Billy, and I stared at Billy. A spirit dance? I had to give it to Billy. He held it together for about five seconds of absolute silence before he lost it. He burst out laughing, which made me laugh too. “I’m just pullin’ your leg, Travis. There’s no spirit dance,” Billy said, holding his sides as he laughed. His smile was so contagious.

Apparently Travis was immune. He glared at us. “Oh, you sons of bitches. You had me going.” He put his hand to his heart. “Jesus Billy, you scared the crap outta me. I thought I’d broken some traditional Aboriginal code or something!”

Billy just laughed some more. “The look on your face was so funny.”

“I hate the both of you,” Trav said, but he was smiling.

“These trees are like a weed,” Billy said. “Introduced by the white fellas two hundred years ago. They grow fast, but they’re not native.”

“I didn’t think they were.” Travis ran his hand along the fronds of the tethered tree. “But it’s the closest thing to a Christmas tree out here.”

“Christmas tree?” Billy asked. “Not too old for that? Still think Santa Claus climbs down chimneys?”

Travis frowned. He looked at his feet and shifted his weight. His voice was quiet. “No. It was just a tradition in my family. My grandfather would cut down a tree and we’d decorate it as a family. We had special ornaments and there would be a huge dinner and it was kind of a big deal. I just thought maybe… You know what? Never mind.”

Billy knew Travis’s grandfather had died not long ago. “Oh Mr Travis, I didn’t mean anything. I was just jokin’ with ya. Here, let me help you get it off the bike.”

Travis sighed and his frowned deepened, and Billy quickly undid the straps and lifted the tree by himself. “Where do you want it, Mr Travis?”

Trav was lookin’ down at the dirt, and Billy stared at me with wide eyes. “Boss? I didn’t mean nothin’ by it,” he whispered.
I saw the corner of Travis’s lip curl up and I rolled my eyes. “Oh, for shit’s sake. He’s joking, Billy.”

Billy’s eyes shot to Travis, and Travis’s frown became a slow spreading grin. “I’m just pullin’ your leg,” he said with a laugh. “You’re not the only one who can spin one, Billy.”

“Your grandfather never cut down a Christmas tree?”

Travis shook his head, still grinning. “My grandfather would tell everyone we were going to pick a perfect tree, but he’d take me fishing instead and we’d just buy some random tree from a lot on the way home.”

Billy dropped the tree into the dirt and pushed Travis’s shoulder, which of course led to them trying to put each other in a headlock, which was only made more difficult because they were both laughin’ so hard. I looked at Texas, Trav’s horse. Even he didn’t look impressed. He just twitched his ears and swished his tail in a yep-they’re-idiots kind of way. “I know,” I told him. “You have no idea what I have to put up with.”

“Who are you talking to, Charlie?” Travis asked. They’d apparently stopped wrestling and were lookin’ at me.

“Your horse,” I answered seriously. “He thinks you’re both dickheads.”

Travis brushed himself down, though why, I’ll never know. Red dust got into everything here; there weren’t no escapin’ it. “I’ll never get used to the Australian display of affection of calling the people you’re supposed to like horrible names.”

I snorted out a laugh. “You’d think after a year you’d be used to it.”

Billy picked up his shovel and offered it to Trav. “Wanna shovel shit?”

“Um, gee, thanks, but no,” Trav replied, with an I-ain’t-stupid look on his face. “I have a Christmas tree to put up. Considering Christmas is three days away and no one seems to give a shit.”

I lifted up the horseshit covered shovel. “Texas does. Bags of it.”

He rolled his eyes at me and wiped the sweat from his brow with the back of his hand. “Tell me, how damn hot is it? You know, Christmas should be cold, not one hundred and thirty freakin’ degrees.” Without waitin’ for an answer, he reached behind his head and pulled his T-shirt off. It was one of my old shirts, kinda threadbare, but I didn’t mind him wearin’ it. It clung to his body when he got all sweaty… Nah, I didn’t mind him wearin’ it at all. I minded even less when he took it off. Wearing just his jeans, boots and hat, he wrapped the shirt around the tree and lifted it easily onto one shoulder. I watched as the muscles in his back and arms flexed, all shiny with sweat, the way the red dirt smeared on his skin, and a lucky drop of sweat as it ran from the back of his hair, right down his spine and disappeared where his jeans slung low on his arse.

Jesus.

Billy snapped his fingers in my face. “You in there, boss?”
Travis turned around and, realising I’d been busted totally checkin’ him out, he grinned. And seeing that Billy wasn’t lookin’ at him, Travis licked his lips all suggestive like, and ran his free hand over his abs as he turned to walk out.

I flung horseshit at him.

He didn’t even turn around. He just laughed. As he walked away, he asked, “I can put this in the living room, right?”

“Would it matter what I said?” I called out after him.

His reply was distant as he reached the house. “Nope.”

Billy laughed, and I grumbled as we went back to shovelling shit. When we’d heard the screen door shut, Billy looked up to make sure Travis was gone. “He got no idea what you plannin’, does he, boss?”

I smiled as I kept on shovelin’. “None.”

dividers

N.R. WalkerAbout the Author: N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.
She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

N.R. Walker’s Internet Linksnrwalker2103@gmail.com || Facebook timeline || Facebook Page || Twitter: @NR_Walker

Standard
RJ Scott

Guest Post and Exclusive Excerpt: The Love’s Design Blog Tour with RJ Scott

Love's Design Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author RJ Scott today on the tour for the latest book in her Bodyguards Inc. series, Love’s Design. Enjoy RJ’s guest post and the exclusive excerpt she’s shared.

Enjoy!

Dividers

Christmas food

I love Christmas. Not so much the actual day itself, weirdly enough, but the buildup… Buying presents for people, planning what we’re going to eat, organising meeting up with friends for Christmas events, that kind of thing. When I knew I was due to write blogs for the release of ‘Love’s Design’ I knew that I wanted to try and write about things that make me want to write Christmas stories; to capture the excitement of Christmas.

Okay, so I like food. A lot. All kinds of food, but particularly Christmas food. I think it goes back to my childhood where Christmas meant food that was special. We certainly didn’t eat as many sweets during the year as we did at Christmas. Not as much turkey, sausages, bacon, etc. You see what I mean!

But what I have fondest memories of is grapes. And yes, that ends weird I know. On Christmas Day, huddled around the TV watching the Morecambe and Wise Christmas special, we would have a bowl of grapes. Now grapes were a luxury, something special that was ‘just for Christmas’. I would sit next to my gran, who was really old (60 – which is only 12 years older that I am now, lol) and who spoiled my sister and me rotten… We would eat so many grapes I that I would burst. Only I didn’t, and there was always room for more crackers and cheese with home bottled pickled onions for supper.

Are there any foods for you that sum up Christmas?

Dividers

Bodyguards 5Blurb: Can Christmas be the time when Kirby finally stops running and allows himself to fall in love with the man who saves his life?

CIA Agent Stefan Mortimer is cooling his heels in the UK until he can go home. Taking on easy assignments with Bodyguards Inc. seems like a good solution to keep him sane. He’s used to life throwing him curveballs, and it’s just another day at the office when he rescues Kirby Devlin and his niece and nephew. Now he has to keep Kirby and the kids alive and stay professional.

Kirby Devlin has one priority; keeping his small family safe. On the run, and facing danger at every turn, Kirby finally runs out of places to hide on a snowy December day at Edinburgh airport. Stefan comes to the rescue, saves him and the children. Is it possible that Kirby finally has someone to trust?

Buy Links: RJ’s Blog

Bodyguard Inc. Series

Book 1 – Bodyguard to a Sex God

Book 2 – The Ex Factor

Book 3 – Max and the Prince

Book 4 – Undercover Lovers

Book 5 – Love’s Design

Dividers

Excerpt: Stefan checked him all over, encouraging him to lean forward and to stretch. The pain was manageable, and there was no blood or deep cuts on his skin.

“They went for your face and ribs, right?”

Kirby wasn’t going to share with anyone what Tommy had said when he pulled a knife. Carve you up good, pretty boy. Instead, he just nodded.

Stefan scooted back and tossed him some antiseptic cream and ibuprofen. “Get a shower, take some painkillers, and put that on the cuts.”

Stefan reached for a bandage wrapped in plastic and pulled it out, and with deft movements, he managed to get it wrapped around his own wrist.

“Do you need some help?” Kirby asked.

“Get a shower, Kirby.”

Evidently, that was a no. Kirby made his way to the bathroom; he stripped and left the door open so he could watch Andy and Louise in the mirror. He ran the shower warm but not hot, liking the press of it against his skin and at the tension of pain that banded his head. Pain meant he was alive, meant that somehow he’d managed to get Andy and Louise out of harm’s way. He took two tablets and hoped they worked magic on the aches he had everywhere. Being beaten up was a different kind of a pain to anything he’d felt before.

He didn’t know what the fuck he was going to do next. He wrapped a towel around his waist, toweled himself as dry as he could, and pulled his underwear and jeans back on. All the time he watched Andy and Louise in the bed, and Stefan, who hadn’t moved from his spot on that stool. His back was to Kirby.

When Kirby had left home, he hadn’t taken a scrap of clothing. Not the shit stuff or the tops he wore for work, not the leather wristbands, or a coat, or anything. He wrapped another towel around his shoulder, for warmth and to stop Stefan looking too closely at other marks that would soon become obvious as way older than the ones he’d gotten tonight.

As soon as he walked out, with his shoulders back, he discovered Stefan had been holding back.

Stefan had moved to stand at the window, looking down at the parking lot. “Now let’s talk about that bullshit that Andy fell. You know he didn’t fall, I know that, and fuck it all, Andy knows he has to lie. Those were grip marks on his wrist, and he said his dad did it.”

“It’s not what you think.”

“It’s part of the story you’ll be telling me, Kirby, along with who McLeod is and what happened to the kid’s dad?”

And, just like that, Kirby knew he was fucked.

Dividers

RJ ScottAbout the Author: RJ Scott has been writing since age six, when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies. She was told to write a story and two sides of paper about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born.

As an avid reader herself, she can be found reading anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror. However, her first real true love will always be the world of romance where she takes cowboys, bodyguards, firemen and billionaires (to name a few) and writes dramatic and romantic stories of love and passion between these men.

With over seventy titles to her name and counting, she is the author of the award winning book, The Christmas Throwaway. She is also known for the Texas series charting the lives of Riley and Jack, and the Sanctuary series following the work of the Sanctuary Foundation and the people it protects.

Her goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

Email || Website || Twitter || Facebook || Library Thing || Tumblr (some NSFW) || Pinterest

Standard
Lissa Kasey

Guest Post and Excerpt: Thankfully a Great Year by Lissa Kasey

Cardinal Sins Banner

It’s almost Thanksgiving. Can you believe it? This year has gone so fast! I’m so thankful for all the amazing things that have happened this year. We could all use a little positive, right?

Two years ago I completed my first novel after a year long dry spell. It was a new dystopian sort of novel called Hidden Gem. There was a lot of dark angst in that book because I was in a dark time with my writing, and as a person I’m sort of dark and agnsty. I was not confident in the book because it was different than my normal quirky first person flawed character. But Hidden Gem sold remarkably well. Reviews were mostly good and people wanted more. So last year at this time, sales report in hand, I decided to begin the sequel.

Life often gets in the way, but after all of Jan and most of Feb this year sprinting with Lexi Ander, Cardinal Sins was finished at a whopping 105k. My longest book ever. I was feeling pretty good. Confident of the story, loving the characters, knowing where the next book would go. But my editor said, why not write the next one, already? I don’t usually, as my projects are fueled by the sales that give me time away from overtime and part time jobs to write the next book. And I’d just decided I’d be re-editing the Dominion series and self-publishing to make some changes that I’d wanted to for a while.

But I after finishing the edits on the first two Dominion novels, I did begin the new novel. In fact, just finished it in late Sept. Candy Land, a story about Candy, Jack, and Ivy in the Hidden Gem world tops out at just under 99K. Not as long as CS, but just as action packed. In the meantime, I also released Dominion book 3.

I’ve had an amazing year. Two brand new, super long novels, and three rereleased novels with at least 20k apiece added. And I’ve recently gotten sales reports for my first contemporary mystery, and the news is good. So I’m working on the next Model book, and editing Dominion 4 for release in late Jan.

Winter slows me down. I admit I’d much rather lay on the couch under a blanket when the days get short and cold. I’ve not done so hot for NaNo so far this year. And that’s okay.

The holidays are just a week or so away, and we all need to stop and look back. Why? Because it’s the only way to know if the direction we’ve been heading is the one we want to keep going. I’ve come to terms of late with the fact that I will never be as fast or prolific as some of my favorite authors. I just don’t write that fast. And that’s okay. It’s not a contest. The prize for being at the top is not a lifetime of paid bills (not in this genre). It’s about writing what’s true to me and pushing myself to the next challenge. I want people to read my novels and think “Wow, that was more than just fluff.”

That being said, if you’re looking for sunshine and rainbows it’s probably better to try another writer. While there is always a HFN ending to my books, there is often a lot of angst. I realized this year while I was at GRL battling a persistent migraine while trying to be cute and perky for everyone to like me that it’s just a lie. Nothing about me is cute or perky. That’s okay. I’m thankful to be who I am. Even if it doesn’t make me the center of the crowd or most favorite person in the world. We can’t all be the monkey in the middle.

So looking back over this amazing year, with the ups and downs and stress of real life thrown in, I’m so thankful to still be here. To be fighting another day, writing and reading another day. Not everyone gets that chance. Not everyone is as free as I am to make decisions like if I will write or share the next book. Or if I am even allowed to read something just for the sake of escape. I’m thankful for the readers, the fellow authors, editors, and publishing company who’ve helped support me. Thankful to my best friend and her unwavering support, and my mother and sister for letting me bake cookies for them on the weekends to help ease the anxiety.

I am hopeful for another year of success in writing, publishing, sales, stress management, and self-confidence. I will work harder at the last one as it’s the one I’m the worst at.

What about all of you? What are you thankful for? Take a moment before the madness of the holidays begin and think about it. Hug your family. Send your best friend/husband/lover/online pal a note of appreciation. Sometimes just hearing someone else is thankful for you is enough to brighten someone’s day.

Dividers

CardinalSins_FBprofile_OptizimedForFeedCheck out Cardinal Sins: Paris Hansworth, star whore turned senator and the most powerful man in City M, has been hiding his terminal illness for years. Searching for a way to reverse the toxic environment that’s killing him, Paris stumbles upon a lost research facility, and a merman named Rain.

Years alone have made Rain long for companionship, and the beautiful man on the other side of the glass intrigues him. But Rain speaks the wrong language, and is decades out of touch. He isn’t quite sure what to think of the new environment he’s been thrust into.

As a virus spreads through the city targeting City M’s most private residents—A-Ms—Paris realizes he’s out of time. He’s willing to sacrifice everything, even his own life, to stop it. But Rain might just be the missing DNA link to explain the mutations created in the last plague, maybe even the cure.

Watching Paris race to save his friends, Rain knows he’s found someone special and will do anything to stay by his side. But the past Paris thought he’d escaped is seeking revenge, and he’s forced to adapt yet again, possibly even becoming a monster. He only hopes Rain will still want him.

Buy Now linkDSP || Amazon || BN || All Romance Ebooks

Dividers

Since Cardinal Sins has just been released how about a sneak peek at Candy Land? (Please note Candy Land has not been professionally edited yet)

“Try to focus on control,” Paris told Aki.

Aki sighed, hating these lessons more and more every time. They sat in Aki and Shane’s living room practicing how to control the change. Paris had arrived that evening, after Aki had put him off for the tenth time, with an arm full of painter’s cloths, and a stern determination. Every object in the room that could be covered was covered to protect it from blood splatter. The last thing Aki wanted to do was change.

“I think if you can control it, you won’t bleed so much when it happens, and it won’t hurt,” Paris assured him.

If Aki had known that afternoon Paris planned to corner him, he would have insisted on accompanying Shane on errands in town despite the blowing snow and cold weather unseasonable for this time in March. Of course if Just Shoes updated their stock on Tuesdays instead of Fridays he’d have gone out anyway and perhaps missed his old master. He didn’t think he’d ever obtain the ease between his two forms that Paris or even Shane could. Something was just wrong with him. Maybe because he’d been made an AP instead of just evolving like the others had.

“Candy’s coming over tonight,” Aki protested. It was the first time in months they were getting a movie night together. Candy was overworked, and Aki had begged until he finally gave in. The many video chats they had each week just weren’t cutting it anymore. He needed his best friend, and he was looking forward to the quiet time. He suspected Ivy partially guilted Candy into the break as he seemed to have Candy wrapped around his fingers.

Paris tugged at Aki’s shirt. “Off, so it doesn’t get ruined. You might as well just strip.”

“But…”

“Strip,” Paris demanded in that no nonsense voice that was so ingrained in Aki’s head he couldn’t help but comply. He left on only his lacy undies. It was a nice pair, but not priceless. He tucked his shoes under a cushion beneath the tarp just in case and stood in apprehension waiting for his next order.

“We have plenty of time before Candy is done with a client.” Paris rubbed his hands together like this was going to be the easiest thing in the world. “We’ll work through the change once or twice, and get things cleaned up.”

If there was one thing Aki hated, it was pain. He’d spent years tortured in a psi concentration camp before finally escaping and finding his way North to the relative freedom he had now. He still feared that someday the ISS would show up on his doorstep to drag him off for more tests since he wasn’t exactly a normal psi. The years of torture, experimentation, and imprisonment had changed him. Left him with an ability to change. To become something not human. Was he really ever human? Shane assured him he was, but Aki didn’t know if his lover was just offering sweet lies or truly believed his insane DNA was just the normal evolution of nature.

Aki had wings—and claws. But he suspected it was the wings that Paris most wanted him to control. Releasing his wings always caused Aki pain. Usually so much so that he lost consciousness and often his memory for at least several hours afterward. And then there was his other self’s inclination toward violence. “Maybe we should wait for Shane. What if I hurt you?”

Paris held up his hands, which instantly turned to claws. “I’ll take the chance.” His control, as always, was perfect. “Now stop making excuses and concentrate. I want you to focus on each part of the change. Do one at a time and draw them back. We’ll work on the wings last. So focus on your hands first.

Aki sighed again. He’d just gotten a manicure yesterday and loved the sparkling blue gems pasted to his nails. Changing was sure to ruin them. Not that Paris cared. He wouldn’t care if Aki was a disheveled mess by the time Shane got home. Though Shane wasn’t usually put off by that either. He sort of liked seeing Aki mussed, debauched, and dirty. Well Aki could give him the first and the last. Shane would have to help with the second one.

He shut his eyes and tried to focus on his hands. Imagined they were claws, willed the sharp obsidian ends to do their thing and tear apart the delicate flesh of his fingers and reveal his ugly talons. Nothing happened. No pain, no feeling at all, and no change. He opened his eyes and frowned at his hands. “It’s not working. I think I have to be angry. Or at least have someone I care about in danger.” He could sometimes hold back the change if it started, but he’d never started a change without being really angry.

“Yeah, no. We’re not going that extreme. Last time you thought I hurt Shane you almost eviscerated me and half my guard and called a horde of shifted A-Ms to your side as soldiers. Try again. Focus on freeing yourself. Sort of like casting off the restraints. Let the other out, but with control.” Paris’ fangs appeared, large and terrifying with his eyes glowing luminescent green. “You work so hard to keep yourself closed off from everyone. How do you release your psi power? Can you do the same thing with the change?”

Aki thought for a moment about what it felt like to open himself to his power. He was post-cognizant. Had spent most of his life trying to avoid touching other people because his ability was amplified by touch. Using that power was a lot like breathing. He kept a leash on it, which muted the world around him of the colors and history that snaked from fading memories. The strongest memories were always the most painful, and of course the ones Aki wanted to see least.

He sucked in a deep breath and started with the release of his power. He blinked away the barriers and vivid brilliance erupted around him in their stark living room. There was almost a ghost version of Aki and Shane making love on the couch, and dancing green lights hovering around the kitchen counter where they often cooked together.

Along the wall near the door was a hook of just Shane’s things. There was darkness there. Like a shadow. Bad thoughts, memories, fear maybe. Aki never touched those things. Instead he stuck to the left of the door where the shoe rack was overflowing with bejeweled heels and glistening flats. The twenty-four cubed shelf only held the most commonly used of Aki’s shoes. Or the ones Shane preferred to see on him.

“Stop dreaming of shoes and change,” Paris ordered, somehow knowing Aki’s exact thoughts.

Aki groaned as the command broke through his calm, disrupting his control. The claws slid from his fingertips with a painful slow glide of hot pokers being shoved through his flesh. “Ah,” Aki cried, blood pouring over his hands.

“Try to control it. Pull them back,” Paris instructed. “Rain says it’s just a matter of will. Intense emotion can cause me to change, but I can control it. So can you.”

Rain was a merman. He could shift back and forth from a half-fish half-man thing to a full man with a speed and ease that Aki could never imagine attaining. But Rain had also been born what he was, not made. He’d had an entire lifetime to master the change.

Aki didn’t think he’d ever be that at ease. He clutched his hands into fists as much as his claws would allow. The pain a hot white stabbing through each finger, and every bone in his hand as they reshaped themselves.

“Candy is here,” Miles the computer system informed them.

“Send him up,” Paris told the computer.

Maybe Candy could put a stop to this, Aki hoped. No wonder he blacked out when he changed. It hurt. And the only thing that had changed was his hands. He wanted to cry.

“Reverse it, Aki. You can do it,” Paris assured him.

Only he couldn’t. The fire spread like acid had been released into his bloodstream, pouring from his hands into his arm, racing toward his back where the worst of the pain was yet to come. Aki gulped and struggled to mentally stop the change, shut down his power, anything.

“Whoa, are you two fighting again?” Candy’s asked as he stepped into the room.

“What the hell is going on?” Shane’s deep voice suddenly slammed through the pain and Aki shuddered. Shane was right behind Candy, his expression a mask of anger and worry. “Aki, stop!”

Only there was no stopping. Fire erupted down Aki’s back in a spider web of pain, and though he grappled with the idea of pulling them back, his wings flapped free in the usual flourish of gore and ripping agony. “Fuck!” Shane swore, but he was still across the room.

Aki dropped to one knee. The sudden weight of his wings was almost worse than the tearing of flesh that had freed them. How was he ever able to fly with these? Crap, he was still conscious too. Like him, not the other who liked to tear everyone apart. He sucked in large breaths hoping the pain would ease, but spots were beginning to dot out his sight. His temple gave a warning throb of the headache to come. That couldn’t be good.

“What are you doing?” Shane demanded of Paris.

“Aki?” Candy whispered. He was close now. “Can you hear me?”

Aki nodded. “Sorry, hurts,” he slurred.

“Paris shouldn’t be pushing you this hard. You’d probably learn better from Rain. It’s like pushing a baby bird off a high rise and assuming it will fly.” He glared at Paris who was arguing with Shane.

Aki dropped to his other knee. Goddess, the wings were so heavy like this. They stretched and he teetered. How did he control them? Every movement of his back made them twitch and pull, tearing at the barely healing skin around where his spine met the boney arch of his wings. He ground his teeth together trying to hold on to consciousness despite the pain. Shane was strong. He could hold Aki back if the other awoke. Paris probably could too, but Aki didn’t want to lose more hours.

Candy gripped his arm, steadying him but also plunging him into a vision of Candy gasping for breath while blood filled his lungs. Aki screamed as Candy’s horrific death played out before his eyes. He saw claws jutting from Candy’s chest, blood pouring from his lips, eyes wide with shock. He was reaching for someone. And then he was suddenly on a hospital bed with Paris standing over him, a grim look on his face. Paris raised his own razor-sharp claws, covered in blood. Aki struggled to stamp down the power, step free of it as Dr. Vitoric had taught him. Breathe, he reprimanded himself. He’d never seen so deeply in Candy’s head before. Always before there had been a barrier. Why now? And why this?

His sight cleared to little more than a foggy, red-filled haze. Aki was breathing fast, but couldn’t seem to catch a full breath. “Shh,” Candy told him. “It’s okay.” Candy’s arms wrapped around him, careful of the wings. He probably thought he was bringing Aki the familiar peace of candy-colored clouds, only instead of calm there was horror. Aki could see Paris across the room, and Shane now beside him.

“You killed Candy!” Aki accused Paris, the memory vivid in his head.

Shane took Candy’s place and yanked Aki into his strong embrace of warmth and the scent of peppermint. “Candy’s fine. He’s right here.” He pulled a handkerchief out of his pocket and held it to Aki’s nose. Of course he was bleeding again. Always with the nightmares came a rain of blood. “Candy is right here.”

And he was. For now. Aki’s wings vanished leaving a bloody splash of stained feathers, and toppling him forward when the weight disappeared. Shane held and rocked him as Aki cried. Blood trickled from his nose, slowing. He looked over Candy, who had changed so much since Bart’s death. The dyed dark hair, suits, and added height wasn’t exactly what Aki had seen in the vision. Candy’s hair had been colored, clothes brighter, but he didn’t look all that different. Aki was sure it wasn’t the past. What he had seen was the very near future.

He reached for Candy and when Candy was close enough, pulled him into his arms as tightly as he could. Across the room Paris stood with his arms across his chest, expression thoughtful, but worried. He should be worried. If he hurt Candy, Aki would kill him. Even if Paris was a good friend and his former master. Aki could only hope he was wrong. After all, how often did he see the future?

Standard
Cecilia Tan

Guest Post: The Daron’s Guitar Chronicles (Volume Eight) Tour with Cecilia Tan

Daron

Today I’m so pleased to welcome Cecilia Tan and the Daron’s Guitar Chronicles blog tour to The Novel Approach. Daron and this series have quickly become an all-time fave of mine, so enjoy Cecilia’s post and the excerpt too!

Dividers

Not-So-Historical Romance: Writing the 1980s

by Cecilia Tan

My long-running series Daron’s Guitar Chronicles carries the tag line “coming out and coming of age in the 1980s.” We joke that it’s “historical romance,” but actually it’s sometimes as more challenging to get the settings and details right in a 1980s romance as it is in the Regency.

For one thing, it’s challenging because a lot of us are still alive to remember it, so if I get something wrong, someone is bound to call me on it! I use many real venues and locations in the book, from Madison Square Garden to small underground clubs, restaurants, bookstores, in cities like Boston, New York, and San Francisco. The difficulty is upped by the fact that Daron’s Guitar Chronicles, following the life and times of a rock musician, sometimes changes setting every chapter. When Daron is on tour, it’s a new city and new venue every day. A huge number of the arenas and music venues that stood in the 1980s are gone now and sometimes Wikipedia is the only trace online I can find of them.

Another thing that’s tricky to handle is technology. The current book, volume eight, takes place in 1991. Some of the characters have pagers and one or two have “car phones” but no one has a mobile phone like we’re used to today. Most of them don’t have email yet.

And the music industry is quite different. MTV is still playing music videos at that point. There are dozens of music magazines in the US and the UK that are gone now. We still have Spin and Rolling Stone, but gone are Musician, Blender, Standing Ovation, BuZZ, The Face, Melody Maker, and many others. The only path to fame was through the major labels and radio stations were owned and operated locally, instead of being run by giant national conglomerates. Same for concert venues.

It was, in short, a different world. The biggest thing that has changed, though, that is really central to the story, is LGBT rights and the visibility of openly gay celebrities. The environment in which Daron is trying to succeed as a rock musician and come to terms with his own sexuality is drastically different. Hysteria and paranoia over AIDS are peaking during the years the story takes place. Volume Eight, which released this week, takes place in 1991, two years before Tom Hanks starred in the movie Philadelphia, five years before the musical Rent reached Broadway, and six years before Ellen came out.

The other big challenge for me as I write the volumes is that time in the series moves forward. What started in 1986 in Volume One is now in 1991 in Volume Eight and I have to keep track of all kinds of news events and societal changes that will impact Daron. 1991 is a crucial year in which the music industry has hit a particularly stagnant period and US politics are in the 10th consecutive year of Republican presidency (two terms of Reagan, and then Bush the First). Freddie Mercury is still alive (but not for long) and Nirvana and the rest of the grunge scene are still unknown (but not for long). Both those events will be noted in Daron’s world.

I’m sure there are things I missed, too, but I hope when people read the books they feel immersed in Daron’s life, not only the tour buses and backstage green rooms, but the closet and Daron’s struggle to kick open the closet door. Fortunately, nothing can keep love down forever, not in my books, anyway!

Dividers

Daron's Guitar Chronicles 8Blurb: Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Coming out and coming of age in the days of AIDS, MTV, Reaganomics, and Just Say No.  Winner of the Rose and Bay Award for Crowdfunded Fiction!

Daron Marks is a young guitar player with a dream, make it big like the guys he grew up idolizing in New Jersey–or at least escape his dysfunctional family. He makes it as far as music school in Rhode Island, and the rock clubs of Boston beckon him. But it’s hard to succeed from the closet.  A story of how finding one’s self is key to finding love, and loving one’s self is key to loving another.

Buy LinksAmazon (Kindle) || B&N || KOBO

Dividers

ExcerptIn this excerpt, Daron’s in a hotel in New York City. It’s Christmas time, and Daron knows Ziggy’s in New York, too. They had a brief encounter the night before and Ziggy slipped his pager number into Daron’s pocket. It’s almost six in the morning and Daron’s been awake all night when he gives in and pages Ziggy:

The phone rang gratifyingly quickly. “Hey. I guess you’re not sleeping either.”

“I’m on West Coast time,” Ziggy said. “Where it’s only three in the morning.”

“Uh huh,” I said, unconvinced.

We sat there in uncomfortable silence for a few minutes. I was the one who had paged him, so was it on me to say something? But he was the one who put the “call me” message into my pocket, so….

“Maybe we should get together to talk,” I finally said.

“Can you get away from your family?” he asked.

“For a couple of hours, no one’ll miss me,” I said. “But I wanted to ask what you’re doing for the holiday tonight. Tomorrow. No pressure, but you could join us here.”

“Daron, how should I put this…” He breathed, and I imagined him sighing with his eyes closed. “Your group there is kind of overwhelming. I’m not good with crowds.”

“I never thought I’d hear you say that.”

“You know what I mean.”

“Actually, I don’t. Explain it? I’m listening.” I lay back to listen.

“I mean, I’m fine with crowds if I’m the center of attention. But I don’t want to be—and shouldn’t be—the center of attention at your chosen family’s gathering.”

“Why shouldn’t you be? You outshine everyone in any room you walk into.” This room felt like it was spinning slightly. I had definitely drunk more than usual.

“Like there’s a spotlight on me?”

“Like you’re a star that fell out of heaven. Ziggy, you’re the most gorgeous human being I’ve ever laid eyes on, and that’s as true today as it was that day in the park.”

“You’re drunk.”

“I’m telling the truth.”

“Because you’re drunk.”

“Because I’ve been to therapy. And I’ve realized there are a lot of things I could have been saying that I haven’t been.” I thought about what Bart had said, that maybe me being forthright and truthful about my feelings was actually scary to Ziggy. If so, I was probably freaking him out completely right now. “Am I freaking you out? I’m not trying to. I just… have this thing about the truth.”

“Uh huh,” he said cautiously. “And if the truth is… it’s too late?”

“Then tell me to go fuck myself: break my heart and send me on my fucking way.”

“Whoa. Whoa.” There was a kind of long silence while I guess he tried to figure out what to say to that. Or got himself together. I don’t know which. “I didn’t mean it like that.”

“It’s worth asking, isn’t it? Is it too late, Zig?” It felt crazy-good that I could send him spinning by speaking so baldly. Of course, the only reason it didn’t hurt like fuck to say was because alcohol had numbed me so much at that point. “Did I wait too long to tell you I loved you? Is it just fucking tragic when I say it?”

“Okay, you know what? I want to make a rule. No saying ‘I love you’ over the phone.”

“You don’t want me to tell you I love you?”

“On the phone. Seriously. I’m coming over there and then you can say it to my face.”

Dividers

Cecilia TanAbout the Author: Cecilia Tan is “simply one of the most important writers, editors, and innovators in contemporary American erotic literature,” according to Susie Bright. RT Magazine awarded her Career Achievement in Erotic Romance in 2015 and their prestigious Pioneer Award. Tan’s BDSM romance novel Slow Surrender (Hachette/Forever, 2013) also won the RT Reviewers Choice Award in Erotic Romance and the Maggie Award for Excellence from the Georgia Romance Writers chapter of RWA. She lives in the Boston area with her lifelong partner corwin and three cats.

Website || Facebook || Twitter

 

Standard
Nicole Colville

Excerpt: Dominique by Nicole Colville

Dominque Tour Banner

1 Dominque E-Book Cover

Dominque: Knights to Remember

Cover Designer: Kellie Dennis from Book Cover by Design

Model: David Lurs

Photographer: Sasha Kosmos

Release Date: October 23, 2015

Purchase Link: Amazon

BlurbWhat does it cost to sell yourself? Your body? Your heart? Your soul?

At eighteen, with no job, no money, and a young sister to care for, becoming an escort seemed the perfect answer, but by the age of twenty four, Dominque is left wondering how he can break free of his ‘short term’ solution.

Jacob is at the top of his profession, leaving him with no time or desire for a relationship. Caring for another person full time isn’t on his agenda, but that soon changes when fate steps in and offers him the chance of something more.

Unable to forget the intriguing brunette after their first date, Jacob is enticed to spend more time with Dominque, seeking to put the pain of the past behind them, and bring peace to the wounded bird who captivated him so easily.

It’s not just the clients who pay

fucking nto tomorrow

EXCERPT: Jacob pressed his face into the messy tumble of hair in front of him, smelling the unique sensual scent of Dominque, trying to ignore the need inside him to pull him backwards and cage him in his arms while he ground his cock into those firm cheeks.

“Jacob.” Dominque’s silken voice purred into the otherwise silent room.

“Dominque.” Jacob smiled.

“I missed you last night.”

Jacob moved closer, draping an arm over Dominque’s stomach and splaying his fingers out over the taut, smooth flesh beneath them. “Well, that makes being apart from you much more bearable. To be missed by you, to know you lay here thinking of me, wanting me to be with you, it makes the unpleasant act of not being beside you more tolerable.”

He placed a soft, barely there kiss on the flawlessly smooth flesh found just under Dominque’s ear. “Would it make you happy if I told you all I could think about was you, about returning to this room and taking you into my arms, holding you while I kissed every inch of this marvellous body of yours until you were lying limp and breathless in my arms, unable to voice how much you needed me to stop?”

He placed a deeper kiss in the same spot, this time licking the sweet skin before continuing. “How every breath I took was wasted because you weren’t there to share it. How every beat of my heart only reminded me how useless it was to continue without having you beside me.”

“Jacob…” Dominque glanced over his shoulder, heavy lids half covering the seductive wide brown eyes beneath them, black lashes curling, tickling his skin as he blinked, centering his alluring gaze on Jacob. “You’re making it difficult to keep to our no sex rule.”

“I’ll think you’ll find—” He placed an open-mouthed kiss to the same spot under Dominque’s ear. “—it’s you who is making things very hard to ignore that particular rule.” His cock was rigid and aching, pulsing against Dominque’s cheeks. “I hurt I want you that much. It physically pains me to be this close to you and not have you.”

“Then take me,” Dominque breathed out. “Please. I want you too, Jacob.” He pressed backwards, rocking onto Jacob’s cock, making him groan deep and long against his supple skin.

Jacob moved his hand lower, finding the band of Dominque’s shorts and toying with them before he worked his palm further, finding his cock was just as stiff as his. “Dominque… Jesus.”

“I need you. Please.”

Jacob couldn’t stop years of lust from filling him up. The man he’d been waiting for all his adult life was laid beside him, begging him to touch him. How could he refuse such sweet words?

Dividers

Author BioABOUT THE AUTHORWelcome to the home of bittersweet M/M romances which will leave you craving more

Nicole Colville was born and currently lives in Leeds, England. She is a wife to her very understanding hubby and mother of two young girls who somehow manages to fit in being a full time author of m/m romance and erotica into her busy home life. She loves writing complex characters in bittersweet romances which will leave you addicted and craving more from her men. Although best known for her popular series, Hidden and Knights to Remember, she also enjoys writing with friend, and fellow author, E.M. Leya. Together they have published two books in their Sinful Temptation Collection with more planned. Her new ménage collection based in the popular city of Manchester, England is her first solo full length novel outside of The Hidden Series and has three books planned for release in 2015 & 2016.

Facebook || Amazon || Twitter || Goodreads ||  Contact

Dividers

The Hidden Series:

Hidden Truths: The Hidden Series – Book 1

Amazon.Com Link || Amazon UK Link

Hidden Pasts: The Hidden Series – Book 2

Amazon.Com Link || Amazon UK Link

Hidden Passion: The Hidden Series – Book 3

Amazon.Com Link || Amazon UK Link

Hidden Love: The Hidden Series – Book 4

Amazon.Com Link || Amazon UK Link

Hidden No More: The Hidden Series – Book 5

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Pain: The Hidden Series – Book 6

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Child: The Hidden Series – Book 6.5

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Beginnings: The Hidden Series – Book 7

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Away: 2013 Christmas novella – Book 7.5

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Deceit: The Hidden Series – Book 8

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Trust: The Hidden Series – Book 9

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Monster: Halloween 2014 Novella – Book 9.5

Amazon.Com Link || Amazon UK Link

Hidden Need: The Hidden Series – Book 10

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Secrets: The Hidden Series – Book 10.5

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Hidden Strength: The Hidden Series – Book 11: COMING SOON

 

Knights to Remember

Sebastian: Knights to Remember – Book 1

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember – Book 2

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember Book 3

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember – Book 4

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember – Book 5

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember – Book 6

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember – Book 7

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Knights to Remember – Book 8

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

 

Manchester Ménage Collection

Saving Samuel – Book 1

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Discovering Dalton – Book 2

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Believing Blue: COMING MARCH 2016

 

The Sinful Temptation Collection: Nicole Colville & E.M. Leya

Horizontal Analysis: The Sinful Temptation Collection – Book 1

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Absolution: The Sinful Temptation Collection – Book 2

Amazon.Com || Amazon UK

Dividers 

BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE

NOVEMBER 1

Country Gals Sexy Reads

Jackies’s Book Reviews

Book Crazy Friends

KathyMac Reviews

Trulee V’s Spot Book Blog
NOVEMBER 2

Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

A Book Lover’s Emporium

BFD Book Blog

Ramblings From Beneath The Sheets

Southern Vixens Book Obsessions
NOVEMBER 3

QUEERcentric Books

Fictional Rendezvous Book Blog

LBM Book Blog

Lovetiggi’s I Love My Authors
NOVEMBER 4

Who picked This?

Foxylutely Books!

Lily G Blunt

Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews

Those Crazy Book Chicks
NOVEMBER 5

Jazzy Book Reviews

Radical Reads

J&J’s Southern Spice Blog

The Novel Approach Reviews
NOVEMBER 6

Three Books over the Rainbow

Love Bytes

MJ’s Book Blog and Reviews

Whatever Floats Your Boat

NOVEMBER 7

Abibliophobia Anonymous Book Reviews

Bayou Book Junkie

Gay Media Reviews

My Book Filled Life

Words Turn Me On
NOVEMBER 8

Readers Heaven

Evermore Books

Jade’s reads

JB’s Book Obsession

Mikky’s World Of Books

Naughty Book Eden

Nerdy Dirty & Flirty

Reel Ladys Love Smut
NOVEMBER 9

Diverse Reader

Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

The Pleasure of Reading Today

Book Lovers Down Under
NOVEMBER 10

Cat’s Guilty Pleasure

Sinfully Sweet Promotions

Ab Fab Book Blog

Alpha Book Club

Book Loving Pixies

Carol Pedroso – Author

G & T’s Indie Café

Inked Rainbow Reads

Rainbow Gold Reviews

The British book addict

Standard
Giveaways, Santino Hassell

Guest Post and Giveaway: The Stygian Blog Tour with Santino Hassell

Stygian blog tour banner - short

Hi, everyone! Give us a hand in welcoming author Santino Hassell to TNA today, on the kickoff for the Stygian blog tour. Enjoy Santino’s guest post, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance at some great prizes, including:

*A queer paranormal book pack
*A “gothic” tote bag
*A Stygian t-shirt
*A signed copy of Stygian

Good luck!

Dividers

I’m With the Band

When I was in high school, I was very briefly in a band. I wasn’t patient enough to learn how to play an instrument on my own and my parents were definitely not about to shell out the duckets to put me in lessons, so I sang. I’m not saying I sang well, but I tried my best and my bandmates only heckled me… a little.

My experience being in a band, and being around other garage bands, was that it can be extremely dysfunctional. Don’t get me wrong, we had a great time together, but it was often an intense situation. Five guys with big personalities in one room trying to make a coherent piece of music sounds like a setup for shenanigans. And it was. Constant bickering, nitpicking of each other’s parts and contributions, lateness, imbibing, irresponsibility, and then the slow build of resentment.

I’m not saying ALL bands experience these things but mine certainly did, and I poured some of that into STYGIAN.

STYGIAN is a book about four disaffected queer guys in their twenties who haven’t had a lot of luck in life, and are trying hard to make their band work. The trouble is, the collective chips on their shoulders breeds discontent and most dangerous of all—distrust. However, the feelings shared by these bandmates are so intense that there’s hope for them to overcome their past trauma. They just have to deal with pissing matches, jealousy, and the often frustrating reality of unresolved sexual tension in the process. Oh, and there’s also that whole paranormal element…

Dividers

StygianFSBlurb: Jeremy has been isolated and adrift since the death of his brother. Most people just see him as the skinny emo kid who wears eyeliner and plays drums. No one gets him. Nobody tries. He thought the indie rock band Stygian would become his anchor, but—lost in their own problems—they’re far from the family he sought.

Still, hoping to get close to Kennedy, the band’s enigmatic guitarist, he follows Stygian to northern Louisiana for a summer retreat. They had planned to spend six weeks focusing on new music, but things go awry as soon as they arrive at the long-deserted Caroway mansion. Tempers flare, sexual tension boils over into frustration, and Jeremy turns away from the band to find a friend in his eerily beautiful landlord Hunter Caroway.

Kennedy suspects there’s something off about the creepy mansion and its mysterious owners, but Jeremy thinks he’s finally found somewhere he fits. It isn’t until Kennedy forces the Caroways’ secrets into the light that Jeremy realizes belonging sometimes comes with a price.

Buy Links: Dreamspinner Press || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Barnes & Noble

Add Stygian to Your Goodreads Shelf

Dividers

Excerpt: “What the hell is wrong with you?” Kennedy exuded the type of impatience he usually saved for packed all-ages clubs that required wounding and maiming to reach an exit. “You’re cultivating your own brand of bitterness at a breakneck speed, and it’s a little fucking irritating.”

Jeremy’s face warmed but he didn’t deny it. It was why he typically sucked up insults and snide comments— his own comebacks made it clear he was more hurt than angry. Which was so much worse.

“I don’t know. I’m just… something.”

“Enlightening.”

Jeremy groaned, covering his face with his hand. “I’m sorry, okay? Just tell me what you wanted to tell me, and I’ll stop being a brat.”

The mattress sank under the weight of Kennedy’s muscular frame. They were close—a little too close—and Jeremy swallowed heavily. Proximity to Kennedy was always a distraction, but with them alone in the house, with their bodies tucked close enough for Jeremy to smell the cigarette smoke and clean sweat clinging to Kennedy’s skin, it was also too intimate. Too easy to remember the night on the porch and all of the things that could have happened if Kennedy had been serious. If he’d opened his mouth a bit more. Let Jeremy taste the hot wetness inside.

Realizing he’d been staring, and imagining, Jeremy shifted his weight and tried to roll away. Kennedy held him in place.

“You’re not a brat.”

“Yeah, I know. I’m just a kid.”

“Jesus Christ.” Kennedy’s breath gusted out. “It’s not an insult. What do you want me to call you? Baby? Darling?”

Jeremy’s face went from warm to burning. “You could just call me Jeremy. Believe it or not, I’m not in fucking love with you like everyone claims,” he lied. “I don’t need terms of endearment when the three syllables in my name work just fine.” Kennedy said nothing, and Jeremy pushed on with a burst of bravado. “And the only time I let a guy call me baby is when he’s in my ass.”

Peripheral vision gave a clear view of Kennedy’s mouth falling open as he did a slow circuit of Jeremy’s sprawled body. “And when’s the last time that happened?”

“The bathroom of that club in Galveston. When we opened up for the Party Kills.”

Kennedy’s gaze sharpened. “Are you kidding me?”

“No.”

“Who?”

“The drummer.”

“You—” Kennedy caught Jeremy’s chin between his thumb and index finger. “You let that monkey-sticking kandi kid nail you?”

“He’s hot,” Jeremy said defensively. “Tall. Hard body. Who cares if he used to cover himself in beaded bracelets in, like, the ’90s?”

Disapproval radiated from Kennedy. And something that sent his lip sloping in a mean curve. “You sure know how to pick them. What’s next? That creepy bastard who owns this hellhole?”

“Hunter isn’t creepy. He’s nice. He even showed me how to get to his house in case I need him for anything.”

“Oh, I bet he fucking did.”

“Dude, what is your problem? Why do you even care whose dick I ride? It’s not like you want me to touch yours.” Jeremy rolled onto his side. Attempts at being brash kept leading to embarrassment, and he really needed to quit while he was ahead.

Dividers

Santino HassellAuthor Bio: Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of queer fiction that is 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 at: Website || Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

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

Standard
Giveaways, Perie Wolford

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Lights by Perie Wolford

Lights_Banner

Help us welcome author Perie Wolford to The Novel Approach today, as he tour in promotion of his latest novel, Lights. Enjoy the excerpt and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win one of five e-copies of the book.

Good luck!

Dividers

Lights NEW1Blurb: In the dead darkness of the underwater there were lights.

Coming home for summer break, two film school students, Bradley and Tag, decide to shoot a staged UFO encounter video, one that could potentially generate a lot of attention and a lot of clicks on YouTube. Unexpectedly for both of them, during the filming they accidentally discover a real alien presence in the dark waters near their coastal home town.

Buy Link: Amazon || Add it on Goodreads: Lights

Dividers

Watch the Trailer:

Dividers

Excerpt: Bradley rolled his eyes. Cooper only called him Bradley, and not Brad, when he was challenging him. Meanwhile, Cooper bared his beautiful chest and that seemed to attract attention. Now that neither of the guys felt like a five-year-old, a man’s muscular torso became a subject of leering.

“Anyone?” Cooper asked, looking at guys, expecting them to start taking their clothes off too. He couldn’t believe they were being such stiffs all of a sudden.

“Come on, Cooper, the water is cold. You’ll freeze your balls off,” Veronica began but he interrupted her.

“Ah-ah-ah!” he uttered, holding a finger to her mouth. She grimaced.

“If you squares are too afraid of some mildly cool water, I’m not even gonna bother trying to persuade you,” he simpered and without missing a beat pulled his shorts down.

He was not wearing any underwear under his shorts and his 6-inch flaccid dick pretty much tumbled out of there and hung for everyone to observe. He knew they would stare so he allowed a moment for them to fully take it in, not feeling even a bit embarrassed about his nudity. His dick was cut and perfectly shaped, dangling between his legs like a thick appetizing sausage. And as if that wasn’t enough, Cooper ran his hand across his torso, in a slow erotic way. His dick reacted to this, perking up a little.

They watched, enchanted.

Cooper licked his lip and bit it, his dick assuming a fully horizontal position at that.  Then, he looked at his penis, as if commanding it to rise. And it did, obediently. In a matter of seconds, like in some twisted magic show, Cooper’s dick rose to its full length of 8.5 inches, eliciting a gasp from the audience. No wonder Cooper was so cocky.

He crossed his hands and wiggled his eyebrow.

“You know guys, if any of you get an erection, I hear some cool water is pretty good at bringing it down,” he quipped. Bradley and Danny exchanged looks. They both slipped off their clothes briskly and plumped into the water. Veronica approached Cooper leisurely. He gave her a sly look and smiled, proud of himself, for several reasons.

“Okay, you got me,” she admitted. “Now get in the water, I’ll be right behind you.”

He approached the rail and stepped up onto the bench, allowing himself a peek from the corner of his eye at Veronica taking her clothes off, and then he jumped, splashes of water showering Bradley’s and Danny’s heads.

The water was freezing at first. Scream-like laughter escaped guys’ mouths as they shivered and shook, flailing their limbs, working their muscles, trying to get warm. In about five minutes it worked, and the water seemed to get a lot warmer. They swam around the yacht for a while, underwater floodlights making the water transparent, and their naked bodies luminous, almost fluorescent in it. They fooled around and splashed each other, giggling. Cooper climbed aboard several times to make somersaults and jump-dives, his flaccid dick dangling between his muscular legs teasingly. Then, bored with that, he ventured off into the dark, swimming far outside the reach of the floodlights, and Veronica followed him.

Danny swam closer to Bradley, closing the distance between them, translucent seawater allowing him to see Bradley’s private parts almost clearly and vice versa.

“I’ve never swum in the ocean at night before,” Danny said, drawing short gasps of air, his lips quivering from cold.

“It’s pretty cool, right?” Bradley breathed out, restraining himself from looking at Danny below the water level. This was the first time Danny took his shorts off and bared his slender beautiful body completely. That was exciting.

“Yeah, it’s pretty amazing,” Danny said. “Also it’s so fucking cold.”

Bradley laughed. “You wanna get out? There’s a big blanket in the cabin.”

“Hell yeah,” Danny said and began rowing towards the small ladder in the back of the yacht. Bradley followed him, allowing himself at last to glance at Danny’s naked butt. As the two climbed aboard, making a conscious effort not to stare at each other, just peek once or twice maybe, just from the corner of the eye, Bradley and Danny slipped into their shorts energetically. Bradley was about to go into the cabin to bring that blanket as he heard Veronica scream.

“What the fuck is that? What is that?” she shrilled.

Danny and Bradley rushed to the rail and what they saw in the water stunned them.

“Veronica?” Cooper shouted concerned.

“Do you see this? Can you fucking see this?” she screamed the way she would if she had suddenly noticed a snake twining around her ankle. But it wasn’t a snake. Below Veronica’s feet, deep underwater there was a light glowing. It was a brightly red sphere of light, shimmering in the current, its incandescent rays reaching out towards the surface, licking Veronica’s and Cooper’s toes.

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

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

Standard
Jo Ramsey

Guest Post and Excerpt: Work Boots and Tees by Jo Ramsey

Jo Ramsey Banner

Today we’re pleased to have author Jo Ramsey here to talk a bit about her new Harmony Ink Press novel Work Boots and Tees, book five in the Dark Secrets and Hope series.

For those readers who may be sensitive to the topic, please be advised that Jo’s blog post broaches the subject of sexual assault in a non-explicit manner.

Dividers

When I started writing Work Boots and Tees, book five in my Deep Secrets and Hope series from Harmony Ink Press, I heard some very negative feedback about the idea from other authors. Especially those who had experienced sexual assault or other trauma.

I understand their point of view. I’m a sexual assault survivor myself. And Jim Frankel, the main character of Work Boots and Tees… well, if you’ve read the rest of the series, you know who he is. The bully who sent Evan Granger to the emergency room in Nail Polish and Feathers. The mastermind behind the plan to out Guillermo Garcia in Shoulder Pads and Flannel. And, worst of all, the guy who, as revealed at the end of Shoulder Pads and Flannel, sexually assaulted Chastaine Rollo and another girl, each of whom he was dating at the time. Both times, it was a case of Jim believing he had the girl’s consent because she hadn’t said no; both times, the girl went along with it because she was afraid of what Jim might do if she said no. And that means that both times, Jim committed a crime.

Jim has definitely done some seriously horrible things. No question about that. His bullying of Evan—and others—went on for years before he attacked Evan so severely. And there is never an excuse not to seek consent from a sexual partner. In Work Boots and Tees, I make no attempt to excuse anything Jim has done, but I do show reasons. And I do show Jim trying to start his life over in a new state, living with a cousin he didn’t know existed, after serving time for what he did to Chastaine and Maryellen, while coping with the belief that because of what he did to the girls, he is no better than the man who repeatedly molested him as a child.

Jim is sixteen and for ten years has been dealing with the aftermath of abuse that he hasn’t told anyone about, and the realization that he’s gay has caused him to question, and feel guilty about, whether he enjoyed the abuse. Again, his past trauma does not excuse what he’s done to others, and Jim would be the first to say so. On the other hand, he has a lot of life ahead of him. He knows what he’s done, and he wants to pay for it. Having worked with boys like Jim during my time as a teacher, I have a hard time denying the possibility of redemption for someone who desperately wants it and strives for it.

And that’s why I wrote this book.

Dividers

Work Boots and Tees-200Work Boots and Tees Blurb: When Jim Frankel looks in the mirror, he doesn’t see a sixteen-year-old boy. He sees a monster.

Weeks after being released from a month in juvenile detention, Jim is still trying to come to terms with the realization that he sexually assaulted two girls. He believed everything was consensual—until the day he was arrested. Now he’s served his time as far as the law is concerned, but nothing will erase Jim’s knowledge that he’s no better than the man who molested him at age six.

With his parents unwilling to take him in, Jim moves from Massachusetts to Michigan to live with Delia, his father’s cousin. She offers him a home, a job, and a chance at a new start. Jim spends his time helping Delia at her art supply shop and trying to avoid anyone who might have somehow learned of his crime. When Jim meets Man-Shik Park, he can’t accept Manny’s friendship. But Jim’s attempt to push Manny away might lead to the end of his new life before it’s even begun.

Work Boots and Tees is now available from Harmony Ink Press and through third-party retail sites in both print and e-book formats.

Dividers

Excerpt: One of the guys who remained came over to the counter carrying a sketchbook and a package of charcoal sticks. He was skinny and a lot shorter than me, with black hair and brown eyes. He looked Asian, but I couldn’t guess which country.

“Hello.” He put down the book and package and studied me.

I looked down at the stuff. “Is this all today?”

“I ordered some sketching pencils last week.” He smiled. “Manny Park. Delia said she’d hold them for me when they came in.”

“She’s out back.” I hesitated. With him standing right there, I couldn’t exactly walk away from the register. Not without pissing Delia off again. “Um….”

Delia came out of the back room, saving me from having to figure out what to do. “Hi, Manny. Your pencils were supposed to be in yesterday’s shipment, but I didn’t see them. I’ll contact the company and find out if they’re on back order.”

“Thank you. No hurry.” Manny looked at me again. “You’re new?”

“This is my nephew Jim.” Delia walked over to me. “He’s living with me now, so I put him to work. Jim, this is Manny Park, one of the town’s best artists.”

Manny’s cheeks reddened. “I just enjoy drawing. Jim, it’s nice to meet you. I haven’t seen you at school, have I?”

“I don’t go to school,” I mumbled, staring at the sketchbook cover. “Nice to meet you too.”

“I’ll ring up Manny’s stuff,” Delia said. “Go ahead out back.”

I walked away feeling like an idiot. Manny wasn’t even close to intimidating, but something about him made me nervous as hell.

Maybe it was the fact that I’d noticed he was good-looking. Kind of cute in a geeky way. I refused to think that way about any guy, which meant I probably shouldn’t be around Manny too much.

I didn’t have anything to do in the back room, so I sat at Delia’s desk and stared at the wall. I really wanted to figure out how to get a tablet or smartphone so I’d have something to do at the shop. Being with Delia was better than sitting alone in the trailer with only the TV for company, but when I had nothing to keep me busy, my brain started going off.

Between the whole thing with the pencils that morning and the stuff I’d brought up with Terry, I had to have a way to shut down my thoughts so I wouldn’t completely lose it.

“Are you okay?” Delia said from the doorway.

Heart racing, I jumped. I should have seen her walk into the room. I was facing the damn curtain. But until she spoke, I hadn’t even noticed her. “Don’t sneak up on me. Um, please.”

“Sorry.” She walked over to the desk. “You were pretty shaky earlier. Did something happen?”

“I had therapy.” If she assumed I was upset about what I’d said to Terry, she might not try to make me talk.

“I’m aware.” She paused. “How did it go?”

“I had a different therapist this time. I like her better than the guy. I actually talked to her, so I guess that’s good, right?”

“Yes, it is. You must have gotten into some tough subjects?”

“My life is a tough subject,” I muttered. “I don’t want to talk about it. I’m in therapy so you don’t have to listen to all my crap, right?”

Dividers

Author BioAbout the Author: Jo Ramsey is a former special education teacher who now writes full time. She firmly believes that everyone has it in them to be a hero, whether to others or in their own lives, and she tries to write books that encourage teens to be themselves and make a difference. Jo has been writing since age five and has been writing young adult fiction since she was a teen herself; her first YA book was published in 2010. She lives in Massachusetts with her two daughters, her husband, and two cats, one of whom likes to read over her shoulder.

To find out more about Jo Ramsey and her books, please visit her website, joramsey.com.

Standard
Annabelle Jacobs, Giveaways

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Altered 3 by Annabelle Jacobs

11064757_608274829275075_5914564914841837166_n

Today we’re so pleased to welcome author Annabelle Jacobs to share a bit of her new book The Altered 3 with us. Enjoy Annabelle’s post and excerpt, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of a book from her BACKLIST (excl. The Altered 3).

Good luck!

Dividers

Firstly, thanks, Lisa, for having me on your blog today.

My latest book, The Altered 3, was released on October 1st and is the final instalment in the Lycanaeris series.  Each of the three books focuses on a different character pairing, and this story is about Matt and the newest addition to the group, Thomas.

The majority of The Altered 3 is set in Cornwall, which has some of the most beautiful countryside and beaches.  I was lucky enough to go on holiday there in August this year, to the same place mentioned in this book.  The car park at the top of the hill gives you a great view of the sea and the beach, and the surrounding countryside, but is not so much fun when you have to walk back up after a day of swimming and running around.

When I describe Matt’s home in my book, this is what I’m picturing, (with a few less houses)

pic 1

And this is the beach below it.

pic 2 

Dividers

The Altered 3Blurb: Matt is a single shifter living in a house full of couples. It’s not that he begrudges his friends their happiness—especially after everything they’ve been through—but he wants someone for himself. He wants a mate. Living out in the Cornish countryside there seems little chance of him finding one.

Thomas’s life has recently been changed for ever. Newly altered, he finds himself in danger as his mother, a prominent politician, works to put a stop to the mistreatment of altereds and bring those responsible to justice.

To keep him safe, Thomas is sent to Cornwall where Matt and his friends offer him refuge until he can return to his home in London. Despite the circumstances surrounding his arrival, Thomas and Matt bond in a way neither of them were expecting. They struggle to come to terms with what this might mean for their future once the threat is eliminated.

Dividers

Excerpt: “Daniel?” He strained to hear anything but the whole farmhouse seemed quiet. His senses were a little overwhelmed after being effectively dampened for the last three hours, but after thirty seconds or so he could hear the tread of footsteps outside and a car approaching the farmhouse.

Jordan’s black Volkswagen T5 pulled up onto the gravel drive at the same time as Matt opened the kitchen door. Daniel walked over to meet him as he got out of the van, holding his phone out for Jordan to see. Whatever was on there had Jordan tensing up immediately.

“What’s wrong?” Matt called out, making Daniel jump, but Jordan didn’t even flinch already fully aware of his presence. He walked over to them, and looked pointedly at Daniel.

Daniel motioned for Jordan to give him his phone back and handed it straight over to Matt. “I got an email from Shaw.”

It took Matt a good few seconds to recognise the name. And when he did, his chest tightened at the memories it invoked. It wasn’t that anyone had forgotten what happened at the facility, but it wasn’t exactly a popular topic of conversation either. Shaw, along with Ash and a Dr Adams, had been injected with the serum by Chambers and had ended up a partial altered. Whatever he had to say, Matt doubted it would be anything good.

The email was short and to the point. Shaw hadn’t bothered with pleasantries, and Matt felt oddly pleased by that. They weren’t friends, and he was glad no one pretended otherwise. He read it again to make sure he hadn’t missed anything and handed the phone back to Daniel.

“So.” Matt glanced up at the sky, knowing their peaceful existence was about to change. But he asked the question anyway. “Are we going to take them?”

Buy links: Amazon US || Amazon UK || All Romance ebooks || Smashwords

Dividers

Annabelle_Jacobs_logoAuthor Bio: Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats.

An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

Author Links: Twitter || Website || Email || Facebook

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

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

Standard
Giveaways, Lexi Ander

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Dragon’s Eye Blog Tour with Lexi Ander

Dragon's Eye Banner

Please join us in welcoming author Lexi Ander to The Novel Approach today, on the tour for the latest installment in the Sumeria’s Sons series, Dragon’s Eye. Enjoy Lexi’s guest post and the excerpt she’s selected to share, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win some great prizes. Details are below.

Good luck!

Dividers

What did you say? Utnap-blah—who? I can’t even guess how to say that.

Utnapishtim is the Sumerian equivalent to Noah. You say his name like [oo t-nuhpish-tim]

When I started Sumeria’s Son, the platform I built the series on was the Epic of Gilgamesh. I built the origins and motivations from the ancient story. I know, like that was a shock. ^_^ Utnapishtim was one of the few humans who was offered immortality and a place in Dilmun.

To give you a bit of background Utnapishtim, here’s the down and dirty on the Sumerian deluge myth. King Enlil is fed up with all the noise of humanity and decided to get rid of them. If you have already read the blog post on Abzu and the Igigi War, I’m sure you recognize the common theme between the two stories.

Anyway, he sends out plagues, and famine, and drought which destroyed the world three times and yet the human race persevered. Little did Enlil know (until it was too late) that the humans had help from Enki. The humans procreated quickly and soon they were just as noisy as they were before. In a fit of frustration, Enlil calls a meeting of the gods and makes them vow not to help the humans. To get around that decree, Enki didn’t speak to Utnapishtim directly but spoke into a bed of reeds. What an old trick to tell someone without actually telling them. What do you mean? Utnapishtim over heard me musing aloud?

Utnapishtim followed the instructions and built a boat, loading his family, the village craftsmen, baby animals, and grains. The storm that Enlil caused was so awesome in power that the gods fled to Dilmun. The description of how Utnapishtim tested the lowering of the waters was very similar to that of Noah’s with the releasing of the dove, the swallow, and the raven. They left the boat and had a great party, making a sacrifice to the gods. When the gods cautiously ventured from Dilmun, they were chagrinned at Utnapishtim undying loyalty and faith in the gods and they granted him and his wife immortality and a place among the gods.

After Enkidu died, Gilgamesh went a little insane in his grief and keenly feeling his mortality he searched for his ancestor, Utnapishtim. Even though Gilgamesh was a demigod and long lived, he could die. Just as the gods Humbaba and Gugalanna had died, and his beloved Enkidu. He entered the gates of the Sun Road guarded by the scorpion men and traveled to Dilmun. Utnapishtim cautioned him to abandon his quest but still told him how to gather the plant from the riverbed. It didn’tdo  Gilgamesh any good because a sneaky snake came by while he rested and ate the plant. (Must’ve been a vegetarian snake.)

If you’re wondering if I brought Utnapishtim in as character, the answer would be no. But the story of Gilgamesh’s search is important. The story of the deluge was just for fun but gives you an idea of how the gods sometimes viewed humanity.

A huge thank you for allowing me to be a guest on the blog today! Throughout the blog tour for Dragon’s Eye, I hope you enjoy the behind the scenes look at the gods and mythos, and how they play a part in Sumeria’s Sons. For a visual representation, please visit my Pinterest page. During the tour I discuss the Sumerian pantheon, about who and what the Gods/Goddess are, and how I use them. Make sure you stop by the other blogs to get a complete look at the Gods and Goddess the Lycan’s follow.

Also, Less Than Three Press is running a special sale on Sumeria’s Sons from September 23rd  through October 7th (dates inclusive).

Twin Flames is $0.99: Amazon || LT3 Press ||

25% off Songs of the Earth: Amazon || LT3 Press

25% off Dreams of the ForgottenAmazon || LT3 Press

25% off Surrounded by CrimsonAmazon || LT3 Press

Thank you for stopping by and reading!

Dividers

Dragon's Eye CoverBlurb: In the wake of birth and betrayal, Ushna takes the God Ashur to Tristan in a last desperate bid to save Tristan’s life—and is helpless to do anything but watch as Ashur instead buries him in a grave. Though he has no desire to go on living, having now lost Brian and Tristan, Ushna has no choice. Not only do their children need him, the mysterious Simurgh has come out of hiding and forces him to continue on—for there is much to do and little time to do it, especially with treachery and danger closing in on them from every side.

Dividers

Excerpt: The other vehicles parked behind us. Corey spoke to my parents but I couldn’t hear what he said. My father nodded and headed towards the last vehicle, where the wounded had been loaded. Warriors surrounded our SUV before Corey opened my door. I didn’t want to leave the vehicle. If I did, then Tristan’s fate would be set in stone. Illogical, I knew, but the thought of stepping foot in that house without him was the point of no return. I’d never be able to undo anything that transpired today, as if I even had the power to accomplish something like that. Part of me knew I didn’t want to answer the questions that would eventually come.

What Saéna said kept returning to the forefront of my thoughts. Why was this not a time to grieve? The only reason could be that Tristan wasn’t lost, wasn’t dead. But I saw him buried and Ashur held onto me until there was no hope of saving Tristan from suffocating. My blood boiled at the memory and I breathed around the anger. She is tending him now. What did that mean? Who? Who was tending Tristan? How was I to look past my pain when I’d lost the brightest point in my life? When Brian was killed, even though we wouldn’t have bonded for years, I still felt the absence of his Flame. Tristan and I had bonded last night and… and… wait.

Dividers

Lexi Ander Bio PicAbout the Author: Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.

Where to find Lexi Ander:

Website: http://www.lexiander.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lexi.ander.9

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/LexiAnder1

Blog: http://lexiander.blogspot.com/

E-mail: lexi.ander.author@gmail.com

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

  1. $20 Amazon Gift Card, $20 All Romance Gift Card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  2. $20 All Romance Gift card, hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  3. Hard copy of Dragon’s Eye, swag (pens, bookmarks)
  4. E-book copy of Dragon’s Eye
  5. E-book copy of Dragon’s Eye

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

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

Dividers

Tour Dates & Stops:

Standard
Giveaways, Therese Woodson

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Betrothed: A Faery Tale Blog Tour with Therese Woodson

Betrothed Banner

Today we’re so pleased to welcome author Therese Woodson on the Betrothed: A Faery Tale blog tour. Enjoy the excerpt Therese has chosen to share, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

Dividers

BetrothedFSBlurb: Faery royalty have always married for duty rather than love. Prince Chrysanths should be no different – except with a human for a father, the prince known as Puck already is different. When he is betrothed against his will to Prince Sky, Puck flees to his father in the human world, only to have Sky follow.

Prince Sky Song of the Clouds isn’t thrilled with the prospect of marriage either, but is bound by duty to follow through. If he can’t win Puck over, the faery realm might very well dissolve into utter chaos. Too busy arguing, Puck and Sky are unaware there are others with a vested interest in seeing the betrothal fail. In a bid for Puck’s crown, they’ll seek to keep them apart, even as Puck and Sky realize that duty and love don’t always have to be mutually exclusive.

Buy the book at Dreamspinner Press: Paperback || Ebook

Dividers

A Note from Therese: Hi and welcome to the BETROTHED: A FAERY TALE blog tour.

The lovely folks at The Novel Approach were kind enough to host me on the fourth day of my tour.

Please follow me around and get to know the faery princes Puck and Sky and how their world changes due to one (annoying) law. (Schedule Here)

The excerpt I’m sharing today is Sky finding out that his betrothed has fled from the Feary realm to the human world.

The Excerpt: “What do you mean you can’t find him?”

Sky flinched from Queen Bellis’s severe tone and fleetingly felt bad for the unlucky servant. Standing in front of the Earth Kingdom throne, having been presented to the court as Prince Sky Song of the Clouds, Sky clasped his hands behind him and rocked back on his heels. His entourage gathered nervously around him, exchanging looks, as the queen glared down at the messenger in front of her.

The messenger bowed low. “He’s not in his rooms and not in the garden.”

“Then keep looking,” she ground out. “And when you find him, tell him his betrothed has arrived and I will not tolerate his rudeness.”

The poor faery gulped. “Yes, Your Majesty.” At his slight pause, the queen narrowed her eyes, and the messenger made a terrified noise. He straightened and scurried away.

Queen Bellis relaxed back into her throne and sighed wearily, putting a hand to her head.
“Children,” she said. “They can be difficult, especially the willful ones.”

Sky didn’t respond, merely stood tall and silent, wings folded behind him. He glanced around the court, taking everything in. They had arrived a few moments before, and after being offered refreshments, were ushered into the throne room. Sky didn’t have much of a chance to look over his surroundings until the lull while he waited to meet the prince.

The Earth court was much different from his home. Where the Cloud Castle was open and airy, placed amid the clouds, the Oak Palace sat at the base of an ancient tree. Composed of wood and earth, Sky could feel the pulse of life in the walls around him, the living roots twisting and twining into the structure. He scrunched his nose at the smell of damp soil, so unlike the wild, fresh air he was used to. Scant light shone within the interior instead of bright rays, but it was beautiful all the same, decorated with vibrant flowers, green plants, and glossy wood. It hadn’t changed much since the last time Sky had visited, but it remained foreign all the same.

“Now,” Queen Bellis said, leveling her gaze at Sky from her throne. Her eyes were a deep brown, as was her hair, which tumbled over her shoulders and down to her hips. Her wings twitched behind her, wide and yellow, more decorative than functional, unlike the sleek wings of Sky and his Air counterparts. Her markings, a mixture of green and brown, coiled down her arms and over her shoulders like vines. “Tell me, how is Queen Wind Song? Is she well?”

Sky nodded. “Yes, she is well, Your Majesty.”

“Splendid. I’ve often felt a kinship with your mother, especially after your father died of withering. I know what it is like to not be able to be with the one you love.”

Sky spoke around a tight throat. “Your sympathy is appreciated.”

“You look like him, you know.” She gestured toward the inky color of Sky’s hair and the dark blue markings that swept down his arms. “It’s the water sprite in your line from the last generation that tied the kingdoms. It was so long ago, and now they are soon to be gone, and it is your generation who has the burden of adhering to the faery law. I’m sorry it fell to you and my son.”

“It’s my duty,” Sky answered.

Dividers

Therese Woodson AvatarAbout the Author: Therese Woodson is a writer, a wife, a mother of three, a pet-owner, and a long-time member of her college’s sci-fi club. She is a fan of watching bad television shows, superhero movies, and anything involving mythology. She loves creating interesting characters, universes, and stories with happy endings.

Find news and more information about Therese on her blog at Therese Writes Things

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
Giveaways, Kage Alan

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Falling Awake Blog Tour with Kage Alan

Falling Awake Banner

Today we’re pleased to welcome author Kage Alan to The Novel Approach, on the Falling Awake blog tour. Enjoy Kage’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win a signed print (US Residents Only) OR e-copy of the book.

Good luck!

Dividers

Asian Flavor

Konnichiwa! That means “Hello and welcome to most esteemed author Kage Alan’s Day 7 post for the Falling Awake blog tour!” If you ever happen to visit Japan, or have already visited Japan, you’ve undoubtedly heard this word. Now you know how popular I am in Japan. It’s a burden, but one I gladly live with. I also don’t do too badly in China or Vietnam, probably because I tend to feature Asian characters in my stories. We’re not just talking secondary characters either, but leads and folks who play important roles in the overall arc of a story. Why do I do this? I think, probably, because my husband is half Chinese, and he isn’t exactly being represented in literature. Heck, he’s not being represented in movies for that matter either.

Being part of a minority can be a truly bizarre feeling. Yes, I’m white and I’m not what some refer to as stereotypically gay, so I tend to blend in. However, I’ve gone overseas with my husband to Japan, mainland China, and Hong Kong before. It’s there I stick out like a sore thumb. Young children have stared at me and some people have even avoided sitting next to me on the bus or subway from time to time, which really contributes to the minority feeling. But I’ve also come to appreciate these experiences.

We’ve all felt like outsiders. Sometimes a movie or book comes along that speaks to us and seamlessly blends minorities into their fabric. When it comes to featuring characters who happen to be Asian, there are cultural differences and those can’t always be ignored, nor should they. Sometimes it’s better to just explore them. I did this in Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, only that one was a comedy. Falling Awake is anything but. It’s my first full-fledged non-comedy, so I knew it had to be special. The story needed to be intriguing, the characters had to feel real, and it had to unfold in a very real way.

I think one of the important elements I added in this particular story is that in the grand scheme of life, the idea of having lived before, and maybe living again, is that we could be Asian in one existence, white in another, black in another, etc. I didn’t get into whether or not we could be heterosexual in one and homosexual in another, or male in one and female in another, but those are certainly things that could be tackled. I’m just not about to take them on at this time. Falling Awake is a novella, so there’s only so much I can squeeze in.

The characters in this story are diverse as are their backgrounds, ethnicities, and role they play in what could be life or death beyond where they currently are. As for where they are, you’ll have to read to find out. So please check out the blurb and excerpt and see if you’d fancy giving Falling Awake a read.

And I’ll see you on Day 8 of the blog tour!

Dividers

falling-awake-finalBlurb: Imagine waking up in a place you can’t remember, with a face you don’t recognize, and a name that may not be your own printed on a ticket in your back pocket. And of the five people you meet during the next few hours, four of them hold clues to your past, present, and two possible futures.

The outcome of the encounter will determine your soul’s fate, and the only way out of the nightmare may be through falling awake.

Buy Links: Amazon e-book || Amazon paperback || Barnes and Noble || Kobo || Smashwords

Dividers

Excerpt: Daniel studied the latest addition to the group. The man stood around five foot four, was probably in his mid-twenties, and had short cropped dark hair that was even shorter on the sides. He wore a blue and yellow striped shirt, blue jeans, and gray tennis shoes. He was, for all intents and purposes, very attractive.

The man chose to sit next to Daniel, despite Tam pointing to the seat next to himself.

“I’m Eddie,” he introduced himself while Daniel scooted over. “And there’s only one Asian here,” Eddie corrected Larenz. “I’m Chinese. He’s Vietnamese. He doesn’t count.”

“Eddie is our resident—”

“Slut,” Larenz cut Tam off.

“Keep it up,” Eddie warned, “and I’m going to come back as one of your future son’s best friends and you’re going to catch us in bed together.”

“Why should it be any different than how I found out about you the last time?”

“You had that one coming.”

Dividers

Kage Alan Author PicAuthor Bio: Non-award winning and utterly non-famous LGBT author Kage Alan lives in a suburb of Detroit, MI with his husband, who answers to “His Majesty,” and their fish and shrimp, who answer to “fish” or “shrimp.” He enjoys attending Sci-Fi and horror conventions, adding to his tiny Blu-Ray library, and fibbing about buying Blu-Rays on New Release Tuesday from the US, UK, Germany, and/or Japan. Kage also lives in fear of His Majesty’s Hong Kong Grandmonster, who God apparently doesn’t want to spend time with.

Website | Facebook |Twitter |Goodreads

Dividers

GIVEAWAY DETAILS: 

1 Signed Paperback copy (US Residents Only)

1 eBook copy

Start Date: Sept 6, 2015

End Date: Oct 1, 2015

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

Tour Schedule:

Sept 7 – Dirk Greyson

Sept 9 – My Fiction Nook

Sept 11 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sept 15 – World of Diversity Fiction

Sept 17 – Bike Book Reviews

Sept 21 – Dawn’s Reading Nook

Sept 23 – The Novel Approach

Sept 25 – LoveBytes Reviews

Sept 28 – Prism Book Alliance

Sept 30 – JP Barnaby

Dividers

The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*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

Standard
Giveaways, Jeff Adams

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot by Jeff Adams

HT3-Tour

Today we’re so please to welcome author Jeff Adams back to The Novel Approach for a visit on his HT3: Penalty Shot Blog Tour. Enjoy Jeff’s guest post, the excerpt he brought along to share with you, and then be sure to leave a comment right here for the chance to win an e-book in the Hat Trick series.

Read on for all the details, and good luck!

Dividers

It’s great to be back at The Novel Approach today! Many thanks to Lisa for hosting me so I can talk about my latest novel, Hat Trick 3: Penalty Shot.

Hat Trick 3 is the final novel in the Hat Trick trilogy. Simon and Alex are in the senior year at the University of Michigan, playing hockey and planning their future. They also pay it forward in this installment as they take on coaching a youth hockey team so that a talented goalie, along with some other players, can play on an LGBT friendly team.

What surprises them as they start working with the youth team is the level of harassment that’s still out there four years after they came out, even in the era of You Can Play and more athletes coming out all the time. In fact, the way they end up working with the team is because the goalie, a young man who is on the flamboyant side, isn’t picked up for a team. Scottie, therefore, decides to form his own team and recruits Simon and Alex to coach it. As Simon and Alex see how good Scottie is, they can’t believe a coach would pass up his talent.

Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing they come up against. Once they’re a team, the other teams that are already in their division aren’t very welcoming. Even having two Michigan players as coaches doesn’t shield them from a couple incidents of unsportsmanlike conduct.

This theme of homophobia and harassment has cropped up in each of the three Hat Trick novels in different ways. I’m hopeful that this theme one day makes the trilogy a bit dated and people will read in disbelief that such a thing could happen. Sadly, it doesn’t look like that will be the case any day soon. You Can Play came about as I was putting the finishing touches on the first novel back in 2012-13. Yet, even now you hear too many stories about student athletes getting harassed for their sexual orientation. In Hat Trick 3, Simon and Alex have to approach it differently because they aren’t the ones being harassed, instead they’ve got to help their team deal with it.

It’s not all confrontation for the youth team though, there’s a lot of fun times there too as the team goes from a bunch of teens brought together at the last minute to a team that finds its groove. There’s even a bit of deja vu for Simon and Alex as a romance starts to blossom on the team, too.

If you’ve read other books in the Hat Trick series, I hope you’ll pick this one up to see how things go for the team as well as checking out everything else going on with Simon and Alex as they work towards their happily ever after.

I do have a giveaway to celebrate this release. One lucky commenter will receive their choice of one ebook from the Hat Trick series. So leave a comment or a question by 11:59pm Pacific Time on Monday, September 21, 2015. I’ll definitely come by to see what you’re saying and one of you will walk away with a free ebook.

Dividers

For this excerpt I’m offering up a little taste of what the youth team faces as they begin their season. I love how Scottie stands up to it, and how help comes in from an ally, too.

Dividers

Excerpt: The first Rainbow High game arrived way too fast. The team seemed ready, at least in spirit. There wasn’t nearly enough practice, but everyone said they were excited following yesterday’s session. Scottie looked great, and I looked forward to seeing him in a real game. We had some good shooters, especially Walt and Bryan. Based on the competition Walt told us to expect, we still needed work. The best practice in the world though was playing a real game.

Considering everything, Alex and I couldn’t have been happier with how the team had gelled in the past two weeks. They had a good time on ice and seemed to be bonding off ice, too, as much as their individual schedules would allow.

The parking lot of the rink was jammed as Alex, Hillary, Danny, Trent and I arrived, nearly an hour early. We wanted to recon some of the other teams in our division, and be here as our guys arrived. At least for this first game, all the coaches were present.

Two of our division’s games were already in progress, so Trent and Danny went to check those out as Hillary, Alex, and I took over a table to watch for our team to start trickling in.

“Excuse me,” said a guy in a Chargers jersey, as he came up to our group. I recognized the team name as one in our division. “I was wondering if I could get you guys’ autograph. It’s not every day you see the Wolverines’ captains just hanging out here.”

“Sure,” I said. Behind the autograph seeker I saw Scottie come in, rolling his huge gear bag behind him. “We’d be happy to.” The guy gave me a piece of paper, which looked torn from a spiral notebook, and a pen. “What’s your name?”

“Griffin,” he said. “What’s got you guys out here?”

“Hey, Simon, Alex, Hillary,” Scottie said, bumping fists with everyone. He sorta bounced between the three of us. “Great to see you.”

“Scottie, you’re here early,” Alex said.

“Yeah, I wanted to be here when the rest of the team showed. Be a good captain and all.”

“You guys know this sissy boy?” Griffin asked, his mouth hanging open.

I stood, and had a couple inches on the guy, even though he was in skates. Alex and Hillary circled around.

“We coach Scottie’s team,” I said. “That kind of talk isn’t very sportsmanlike. Not only have you insulted him, you’re not exactly making friends with us either.” I took Alex’s hand for extra emphasis. “Since you asked for our autograph, I assume you know that we’re a couple, right?”

“Well, yeah,” Griffin stumbled over his words, “but you guys don’t prance around. How’s he supposed to stop a puck? He’ll probably hide in the net when he sees what’s coming towards him.”

Scottie spoke up while remaining all smiles. “Do we get to play you today?”

“No. Unfortunately we don’t get the honor of wiping the rink with your…” Griffin stopped, considering his words further. Danny and Trent joined us as well. “…team. We see you in two weeks.”

“I can assure you I won’t be hiding in the net. I’ll be out front, waiting to knock down anything you send my way.”

“And I suggest your team take a good look at league rules,” I said, “which covers in detail that there’s no unsportsmanlike conduct tolerated.”

The guy looked dumbfounded. He searched the rink, maybe looking for some of his teammates to back him up, or for a way to get himself out of this situation. “You can’t tell me,” he said, finding a defiant streak, “that if you two acted like fairies that the Wolverines would’ve given you a look.”

“Given how good they play, I wouldn’t hesitate to recruit them.”

Whoa. Coach Rapp, decked out in his Wolverines jacket that clearly said who he was, managed to come in from nowhere. Griffin turned, seemingly ready to say something, but stopped when he saw who it was.

“And I’ve seen Scottie between the pipes,” Coach continued. “He’s good. Someone I’ll be keeping tabs on. Now, young man, who’s your coach?”

The guy turned white as a ghost. I thought he might pass out.

Dividers

Penalty_Shot_400x600Blurb: Life has a sneaky way of checking you into the boards.

The relationship that began when Simon Roberts and Alex Miller were in high school is about to cross another milestone as they begin their final year at the University of Michigan. It’s been four amazing years of love, friends and hockey.

Now it’s time to help pay it forward.

When a talented sixteen-year-old goalie is denied placement on a youth league roster, he asks Simon and Alex to coach a team of LGBT youth and allies. With the determination, hard work, and help of an amazing group of friends, they rally the team towards a winning season.

In the final installment of the best selling Hat Trick trilogy, Simon and Alex find everything they’ve worked so hard for is in jeopardy. When they’re thrown a devastating curve ball, the far-reaching implications put their entire future together on the line.

Buy Links: JMS Books || Amazon || Smashwords

Dividers

Jeff_headshot-400x600Author Bio: Jeff’s written stories since he was in middle school and became a gay romance writer in 2009 when his first short stories were published. Since then he’s written several more shorts and novels, including some in the young adult genre, and he plans to keep writing as long as wonderful readers keeping picking up his books.

Jeff lives in rural Northern California with his husband of twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance. If forced to pick his favorite book it would be a tie between Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and David Levithan’s Every Day.

Learn more at jeffadamswrites.com

Dividers

The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify

*No residency restrictions apply

*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)

*Comments posted after the contest deadline will not be eligible in the draw

*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

Standard
Giveaways, Maggie Kavanagh

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Inner Sanctum Blog Tour with Maggie Kavanagh

Inner Sanctum Banner

Today we’re so pleased to have Maggie Kavanagh with us to introduce her new novel, Inner Sanctum, the sequel to Double Indemnity and book two of the Stonebridge Mysteries. Enjoy Maggie’s guest post and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of Double Indemnity or Inner Sanctum, winner’s choice.

Good luck!

Dividers

On Writing Sequels and Romance

(This post includes minor spoilers for the first book in the series, Double Indemnity.)

As a new author, especially in the romance genre, writing a series is not always advisable. People read romance mostly for the completion of the romance arc. Once a couple is together, whether it is HFN or HEA, there needs to be investment to keep the reader interested. When I finished writing Double Indemnity, however, I knew I wanted to continue with Sam and Nathan’s story. I knew this mainly because the characters kept talking to me. As every writer knows, you need to listen when this happens: otherwise they never shut up.

We leave Sam and Nathan at the end of Double Indemnity in a happy for now situation, and I wanted to continue to develop their relationship, which is very complex. There is of course the element of power dynamics both inside and outside of the bedroom. While Nathan might be read as the more dominant character, he is also an incredibly caring and attentive partner; Sam is independent and headstrong as well as submissive. I wanted to see how they would continue to negotiate their relationship as it deepened from attraction to love: how do these two men build trust and intimacy when they have both had difficulty with these things in the past?

Another thing I wanted to continue exploring was Sam’s personal development. In many ways, this series is Sam’s story first, since it is told through his point of view. Though he has come a long way by the start of Inner Sanctum from where he began in Double Indemnity, he still has many hurdles to face. In the first book, he is learning to be an investigative journalist while battling with some pretty heavy personal demons; in this book, he takes a much more proactive role as he becomes more serious about his political blog. The mystery (and his handling of it) forces him to confront some things about himself he doesn’t particularly want to admit, but the crisis is itself an opportunity for growth. He becomes a better person, writer, and partner.

Still, we’re not quite done yet! There will be one last installation in Sam and Nathan’s story, Blind Spot, which will be out this winter. I hope you enjoy Inner Sanctum and stay tuned for the final chapter in their story.

Dividers

InnerSanctumCoverTitle: Inner Sanctum

Author: Maggie Kavanagh

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pub date: September 14, 2015

Pages: 204

Blurb: Six months into a relationship, things have heated up between political blogger Sam Flynn and FBI special agent Nathan Walker. Though Sam is happy with Nathan and proud of his own sobriety, he’s anxious about what their future holds. Things are also heating up in Stonebridge, Connecticut, as a series of deadly fires puts the community on edge and eventually threatens Sam’s comatose brother. As Halloween approaches, fears rise that the arsonist will strike again.

When Sam encounters the main suspect, seventeen-year-old orphan Damon Blake, Sam’s not sure what to do. He knows obstruction might land him in jail, but he finds himself increasingly skeptical of Damon’s guilt. He takes matters into his own hands and investigates, but doing so means keeping Damon’s whereabouts a secret from Nathan and the police. Meanwhile, Nathan wonders what Sam is hiding and grapples with insecurities of his own. Sam wants to confide in Nathan, and Nathan wants to trust Sam, but they discover negotiating new love can be as dangerous as solving crime.

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

Dividers

Excerpt: Nathan rested his head in Sam’s lap, and Sam dragged his hands through Nathan’s soft, almost black hair, which was subtly peppered with premature gray. Nathan closed his eyes and nearly purred when Sam rubbed his scalp. Sam chuckled.

“What’s so funny?” Nathan murmured.

“I was thinking. It’s no wonder you like cats so much. You practically are one.”

Nathan opened one eye. “Then I hope you like cats more than you pretend to.”

“I like this one.” He scritched again, and Nathan sighed and nestled closer. His long body took up the entire sofa.

After a few minutes, Nathan said, “My mother used to massage my scalp when I was sick.” The show they’d been half watching ended, and Sam flicked off the TV. It was nice being alone and quiet with Nathan. He could smell Nathan’s aftershave and his sandalwood-scented shampoo as he scratched.

“Were you sick a lot?”

“Not really. But some of my favorite memories are of being sick. Like the time I had chicken pox, and I had to stay home from school for a week. I don’t remember how awful it felt, but I do remember my mother singing to me in Italian and stroking my hair. Isn’t that strange?”

Sam held his breath. Nathan rarely spoke about his childhood. “No. I don’t think it’s strange. You never told me you were Italian.” He had often suspected it, though, in spite of Nathan’s English-sounding last name.

Nathan nodded. “My mother is Italian and Lebanese. She lived in Rome until she was fifteen.”

“That’s awesome. Have you ever been?”

“A few times. My grandmother lives in Switzerland, but she has a house in Rome.” Nathan wrinkled his nose like he expected Sam to chastise him for coming from a wealthy family. Sam’s family hadn’t exactly been poor, but there was no denying the difference in their backgrounds. And Nathan wasn’t one to flaunt his money—much.

“Any time you want to whisk me away to a sunny Roman villa, I’m A-OK with it,” Sam joked.

Nathan turned to look up at him. His content expression softened his patrician features, making him seem vulnerable. Sam’s heart swelled again, thinking how lucky he was that Nathan trusted him. He figured he might as well ask another question while he had the chance.

“What was it like growing up in California? I’ve never been.”

Nathan seemed to weigh his answer. A line formed between his dark eyebrows. “It was always perfect. The weather, the people. At least on the outside. I grew up thinking everyone had a comfortable life.”

Sam remembered the boy with the sad eyes in the few photographs Nathan kept from the country house he shared with Emma. There was definitely more to his story than he’d admitted.

Dividers

Maggie KavanaghAuthor Bio: Maggie Kavanagh writes gay romances that explore flawed, human characters finding love. She went to graduate school for English literature and reads and writes voraciously, whenever she can get a moment alone. You can find her in the wee morning hours typing away with coffee at hand and cat in lap, happily embodying the romance writer cliché.

While she focuses mainly on contemporary romance, don’t be surprised if a historical or supernatural tale slips into the mix, as she’s always eager to discover different genres. More fiction is forthcoming soon, so stay tuned!

Author Social Media Links: Twitter || Facebook || Goodreads 

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

Join Maggie during her Inner Sanctum Blog Tour at the following stops:

Carly’s Book Reviews—Monday, September 14

The Novel Approach—Wednesday, September 16

Diverse Reader—Friday, September 18

Prism Book Alliance—Monday, September 21

MM Good Book Reviews—Tuesday, September 22

Keysmash Blog—Wednesday, September 23

Joyfully Jay—Thursday, September 24

Sinfully Sexy—Friday, September 25

Standard
Giveaways, Keira Andrews

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Valor on the Move Blog Tour with Keira Andrews

Valor on the Move Banner

Please help us welcome author Keira Andrews today, on the Valor on the Move blog tour. Enjoy Keira’s guest post, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-book from her BACKLIST (**Excl. Valor on the Move**)

Good luck!

Dividers

Thanks so much to The Novel Approach for having me today to talk about my new m/m contemporary romance: Valor on the Move. 

For this tale of a Secret Service agent falling for the president’s son, I did a lot of research on the Secret Service, the White House, and first families. One of the most interesting aspects of the Secret Service’s operations is the use of Belgian Malinois dogs.

These dogs are fiercely loyal and smart, and have a gentle nature. But when they’re working, watch out! They can run 30 miles per hour and take down any intruders. Malinois look similar to German shepherds, but are smaller and have shorter hair and a 270-degree field of vision—very handy when hunting down intruders on the White House lawn!

This is Jordan and Hurricane, who stopped a White House fence jumper in 2014:

Secret Service dogs

This video on how the dogs are trained is quite very interesting. I don’t know about you, but I’m definitely going to stay on the right side of the fence next time I visit the White House! ;)

DividersPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000039_00009]Blurb: He’d give his life to protect the president’s son. But he never expected to risk his heart.

Growing up gay in the White House hasn’t been easy for Rafael Castillo. Codenamed “Valor” by the Secret Service, Rafa feels anything but brave as he hides in the closet and tries to stay below the radar in his last year of college. His father’s presidency is almost over, and he just needs to stick to his carefully crafted plan. Once his family’s out of the spotlight, he can be honest with his conservative parents about his sexuality and his dream of being a chef.

It’s definitely not part of Rafa’s plan to get a new Secret Service agent who’s a walking wet dream, but he’s made it this long keeping his desires to himself. Besides, it’s not like Shane Kendrick would even look at him twice if it wasn’t his job.

Shane’s worked his way up through the Secret Service ranks, and while protecting the president’s shy, boring son isn’t his dream White House assignment, it’s an easy enough task since no one pays Rafa much attention. He discovers there’s a vibrant young man beneath the timid public shell, and while he knows Rafa has a crush on him, he assures himself it’s harmless. Shane’s never had room for romance in his life, and he’d certainly never cross that line with a protectee. Keeping Rafa safe at any cost is Shane’s mission.

But as Rafa gets under his skin, will they both put their hearts on the line?

Read now: Amazon || All  Romance || B&N || iTunes || Kobo || Smashwords

Dividers

Read an excerpt: “Valor on the move.”

As the new agent—Shane, the walking wet dream—murmured into his wrist radio, Rafa resisted the urge to snort. He climbed into the back of the Suburban as the name echoed through his mind.

Valor.

If ever there was a codename that didn’t fit, it was his. Courage and bravery were not exactly the first, or second (or third or fourth or fifth) attributes anyone would give him. Each family being protected by the service had codenames starting with the same letter, and he wondered what other names they’d considered for him. Vegan. Vomit. Vagina.

Virgin.

Squirming in the backseat as they drove away from downtown, Rafa ran a hand over his hair and tried to banish the nervous energy jangling through him. He detested public speaking, a fact of which his mother was naturally well aware. His stomach roiled with acid. He knew she thought it was good for him to get over his fear—that it would help his future career. But in a kitchen, he wouldn’t have to give speeches. He exhaled slowly and reminded himself that either way, it would be over in an hour. Even if he blew it and made a fool of himself, it would be done.

He’d scribbled notes on old-fashioned note cards, and now he pulled them out of the pocket of his navy sport coat. He repeated the words in his head, not really hearing them. His mind ping-ponged from subject to subject, and he tapped his foot on the rubber mat as he whipped through the cards one by one. He wished Ashleigh was there to tell him to chill the fuck out, as she’d surely put it. He had to focus. Healthy kids. Community support. Leading by example.

With a sigh, he stared out the window. Shit, he was horny. Should have jerked off this morning in the shower. He watched the back of Shane’s head as the agents quietly discussed the advance security report for the park. Shane was scrolling through the document on his agent phone—black, of course—as Alan drove. They were both handsome, but Rafa wondered what it would feel like to run his hand over Shane’s nearly shaved head. Wondered if Shane had hair on his chest and powerful body.

Rafa had fantasized about hairy men—not too hairy, but not too smooth either—since about the time he’d moved into the White House. Even in high school, he’d never paid much attention to the other guys. Why look at boys when he had all those men in suits around?

As they neared the site of the future playground, Rafa forced his mind back on his speech. He scanned the fake-sounding words one last time, cringing already without even having said them. Adriana and Matthew had never had to do much of this since Christian had been so good at it. Rafa had almost made it through two terms without having to do much more than smile and wave behind his parents at events. Now he was suddenly expected to give speeches on his own? Of course he’d tried to argue with his mother, but that never got anyone anywhere, and he was no exception.

“Um, can I ask what you guys think about this?”

The agents went silent in the front of the vehicle. Alan glanced at him in the rearview. “Of course. About what in particular?”

“Oh.” Rafa’s cheeks got hot. “The speech. It’s, um…hold on.” He cleared his throat and gave his little spiel about the importance of community spaces in helping promote active lifestyles. “Does that last part sound too…I don’t know. Lame?”

“No, I think it sounds good,” Alan answered. “You’re getting the message across clearly.”

“It’s not fake sounding?”

“Of course not,” Alan said.

Shane opened his mouth to speak, and Rafa’s heart skipped. It was dumb to care more about what Shane thought because he was hot. But Shane only directed Alan to take a right turn. They quietly began discussing tactics again, and Rafa didn’t want to interrupt.

Although he was used to the agents and their constant presence, it was always weird with new people. They weren’t supposed to talk to him about anything not related to protection, and they weren’t allowed to ever comment on anything they overheard from their protectees. Naturally they heard a million conversations when they were driving his family around or flying with his father, but they were only supposed to respond if the protectee initiated the conversation. But even then, he didn’t think they would ever actually tell him what they thought if it was negative.

When he’d first started college, some of the other kids thought the agents would narc on them for underage drinking, but the Secret Service genuinely didn’t care about that. It had taken a while before his dorm mates had realized the agents weren’t there to tell Rafa what to do, or to be his parents. They only cared about keeping him safe. Stuart had helped Rafa haul Ashleigh up three flights before Christmas break when she’d had one—or five—too many spiked eggnogs, and had been so nice about it.

Rafa tried to focus on his notes, but his mind wandered. He wondered how Stuart and Joanna liked the Livingstons. He wished he could at least text them to say thanks for everything they’d done to take care of him, but of course he didn’t have their numbers. Not that anyone would try to kidnap him of all the presidential children, and he knew the agents were just doing their jobs. It didn’t mean they liked him. They weren’t friends.

He pulled out his phone, making sure his panic button that sent an alarm to his detail and Secret Service headquarters was still safely tucked in his pocket. He’d never had to use the little black rectangle yet, but his parents had drilled into him the importance of never leaving home without it. Rafa quickly typed out a message to Ashleigh, hoping he’d get a comforting response before his speech. But the message remained stubbornly delivered and not read.

Then they were arriving, and he had to put on his best smile and shake hands as the foundation director, Marissa, met him by the Suburban and shepherded him to the makeshift stage set up in the corner of the new park. Marissa was a tiny redhead with a bob cut and black rectangular glasses. She was barely thirty, but ran his mother’s foundation and handled her demands, so Rafa reflected that Marissa must be a marvel of both effectiveness and patience.

The grass was still seeding in cordoned-off areas, and young trees dotted the space. A jungle gym gleamed by swing sets and a teeter-totter. He smiled and thought of a humid August day years ago when he and Matthew had tried to break the world record and failed miserably, giving up after only an hour that had felt like ten.

When he went up to make his little speech, the gathered community applauded like they were genuinely excited to have him there, which was sweet. Of course he’d done absolutely nothing to assist with funding for the park or building it, but he smiled and waved as he took the microphone. Oh God, I’m so bad at this. Why isn’t Chris here? Why does he have to live in New York? Why couldn’t Mom do this damn speech herself? Why is this my life?

As the people waited, he blinked against the glare of the morning sun, and sweat dripped down his spine. He spotted Shane at the edge of the crowd, looking every inch the stereotypical Secret Service agent with his dark suit, ear piece, and sunglasses. Alan was likely positioned somewhere behind Rafa.

He cleared his throat, and the mic buzzed with static. “Hello. I’m Rafael Castillo, and it’s my honor to be here today to celebrate the opening of this beautiful park.” His note cards were in his pocket, and he realized he should have taken them out before he started talking. Heart pounding, he smiled awkwardly as he reached for them. “Um, I…” He fumbled the cards, spilling them at his feet.

Shoot me now. Well, not literally.

He scooped them up as a murmur went through the couple hundred people gathered. “Um, sorry. As I was saying…” He gripped the cards, which of course were now out of order. His eyes scanned the words, but nothing penetrated the buzzing in his head. “I…this park is great. Obviously.” Nervous laughter tittered from the audience. “I know you’ve all worked hard, and…to make kids healthy a park helps, because they can do things here. Health things.”

Oh my God. Abort, abort, abort!

His head spun, and his breath came short. “And I…uh…” Rafa blew out a long exhalation. “I am really bad at public speaking, but you already know that.”

Genuine laughter rang out, and when he focused on people in the crowd, they were smiling at him. Then everyone applauded encouragingly, and his tongue became a little looser. Screw it. “Um, when I arrived and I saw that awesome new playground over there, I remembered this time my brother Matthew and I tried to break the world record for teeter-tottering. Now, the world record is completely insane. Seventy-five hours.” The crowd murmured. “Yeah, crazy, huh? But Matty and I were convinced we could do it. Our dad gave us a little pep talk that morning about reaching for our dreams, and I’m sure you know he gives pretty good pep talks. I was seven, and my brother was nine, and our sister Adriana came with us to supervise—which meant texting her friends and working on her tan.”

The crowd laughed again, and Rafa barreled on. “Well, I’d love to tell you that we made a good run at the record, but we didn’t even come close. That hour felt like forever, especially since I already had to pee.” I’m talking about urination. Mom is going to kill me. But the crowd laughed harder. Bring it back to the point. Get the message out. “Even though we didn’t break a record that day, we still had fun and got active. That park near our house was like our second backyard, and I know this wonderful new space will be home to countless activities and memories for your community. Hey, maybe two of you can take a run at that teeter-totter record.”

Then Marissa was at his elbow, taking the mic with a smile. “What a great idea! How about it, kids?”

The rest of the event was a blur of more hand shaking and picture taking, with people lining up for their turn as Alan and Shane kept a close watch and asked people to take their hands out of their pockets. Rafa’s cheeks hurt from smiling, and he was just glad it was over without too much humiliation.

Usted ha crecido mucho,” a tiny gray-haired woman exclaimed as she shook his hand.

Gracias.” He smiled and nodded. She’d said something about him being bigger or taller, but the truth was that Rafa and his siblings were the whitest Hispanics ever and could barely speak a word of Spanish. His father was born in Miami to Puerto Rican immigrant parents, and his mother in Mexico before her parents moved to Chicago, so they were both fluent. But they’d been hell bent on assimilation and filing off their accents the way a criminal would a serial number on a gun. It had only ever been English at home.

His throat was dry by the time Marissa walked him back to the Suburban with Shane and Alan close by. She pressed a bottle of water into Rafa’s hand.

“Good work. You had me worried there, but you saved it. People like genuine. It worked well. Just go with it straight away next time. As long as you still get in the talking points. Okay?”

“Next time?” Rafa’s heart sank.

Marissa smiled sympathetically. “Your mother’s idea. I’ll try to convince her she still needs to be the primary spokesperson. It is her foundation, after all.”

“Thanks.” Rafa took a gulp of water.

As he suddenly smacked the concrete of the sidewalk, he registered the bang that filled the air. He choked, spitting water, the plastic bottle spinning out of his grasp as someone heavy landed on top of him, further pushing the air from his lungs. Hot breath hit the back of his neck, and Shane’s low command filled his ear. “Stay down!” His hand pressed Rafa’s head to the sidewalk, and pebbles dug into Rafa’s cheek. Adrenaline and terror roared through him. Oh my fucking God. Is this actually happening?

Shouts and a buzz of exclamations filled the air, and Rafa heard someone—Alan—call, “Clear!”

Then there were more shouts, and Shane was hauling him into the back of the Suburban, crawling on top of him as the door slammed and they zoomed away. Rafa couldn’t breathe. His head was jammed into the side door, and now there was leather beneath his cheek. His long legs were scrunched up and tangled with Shane’s, and Shane’s hand was still palming Rafa’s skull. His heart was close to exploding.

Alan was saying something, and Shane answered. But they sounded like the grownups on old Charlie Brown cartoons, their voices making noise with no discernible words. Rafa tried to speak. “Wha…” His throat was like sandpaper.

The vehicle slowed and came to a stop. The engine was still running. For a moment, no one moved or said a word.

Then Shane was gently pulling Rafa up to sitting. Their legs were still tangled, but Shane was focused on Rafa’s face, peering at him intently. “Are you all right?” He squeezed Rafa’s shoulders.

“Uh…uh-huh.” Rafa blinked. It was dark now, and he looked out the windows at what seemed to be an underground parking garage. Alan was on his phone, speaking quietly. Rafa focused on Shane, who was sitting so close to him and seemed to take up most of the room in the backseat. His eyes look like they might be blue up close, and when he sighed, his breath ghosted across Rafa’s face. Rafa’s pulse thundered.

“Backfire?” he asked.

“Huh?” Rafa blinked.

But Alan answered. “I think so. They’re on their way to the scene now to make sure.”

Then Shane was letting go of Rafa, and their legs were untangled. Shane leaned back against the seat, his cheeks puffing out. “Jesus. First day too.”

Alan shrugged in the driver’s seat. “Better safe than sorry. We followed protocol. It was a good dry run. Escape route was effective.” He turned around and smiled crookedly at Rafa. “Sorry about that, kid. Can’t be too cautious.”

“It’s okay. I…thank you. I’m glad no one was shooting at me.”

Alan chuckled. “That makes three of us.” He turned and put the vehicle in drive. “Let’s head back to Castle.”

As they returned to the White House, Rafa stared at his left palm, poking the new cuts there. He didn’t remember feeling it, but he must have scraped his hand when Shane pushed him to the sidewalk.

“Did I hurt you?”

Rafa looked up to find Shane frowning beside him. “It’s nothing. Don’t worry about it.”

But Shane was sliding closer and reaching for his hand, taking it in his own. As he lightly brushed his fingertips over the scrapes, dislodging a few little pebbles, Rafa shivered. Shane’s hands were callused and thick, but he examined Rafa’s hand as if it was made of glass. As the Suburban bumped over something, their knees touched.

The adrenaline rushing through him made an abrupt left turn into arousal, and Rafa yanked his hand back. “I’m fine. Thank you.” His voice was little more than a squeak, and his face blazed. His clothes had been disheveled, and he prayed the sport coat was covering his crotch. His groin was tight, and he knew an erection wasn’t far behind. He didn’t dare look down to check.

“Sorry if I was overzealous.”

Rafa forced himself to meet Shane’s gaze with a smile. “Don’t be. I really appreciate everything you guys do. Honestly.”

Shane nodded, and then they were at the gates, and Rafa turned to look out the window. He thought of seeing his mother any minute. There was nothing better to kill a potential hard-on.

Will Shane and Rafa’s secret attraction bloom into love?

Dividers

About the Author:

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, paranormal and fantasy fiction, and—although she loves delicious angst along the way—Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said, “The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

Where you can find Keira:

Website: http://www.keiraandrews.com

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/2Z-G5

Twitter: twitter.com/keiraandrews

Facebook: facebook.com/keira.andrews.author

Goodreads: goodreads.com/author/show/1366040.Keira_Andrews

Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/author/keiraandrews

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions 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

Standard
Giveaways, Indra Vaughn, Leta Blake

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Vespertine Blog Tour with Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn

Vespertine Banner

Please join us in welcoming authors Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn today on their Vespertine blog tour. They’ve brought along a little tease from the book for your reading pleasure, and are also giving one lucky reader the chance to win an e-copy of a book from either of their backlists (**EXCLUDES Vespertine**). Just click on the Rafflecopter widget to enter.

Good luck!

Dividers

So, an out gay priest, huh? Isn’t that impossible? While it isn’t common, it definitely happens and the Pope himself has said “Who am I to judge?” For example, a Catholic priest in Ireland came out to his congregation to a standing ovation (Source: Huffington Post), and others are following his example. The key, apparently, to remaining a priest is, as with a heterosexual priest, celibacy.

Researching the limits of priestly celibacy for this book was interesting. We discovered that, due to the correlation between good prostate health and the male orgasm, some priests are prescribed masturbation by their physicians (up to three times a week), and thus by-pass the edicts against so-called self-abuse. They are able to orgasm in the name of health and not have to confess it as a sin.

This discovery inspired the following excerpt. We believed that our Catholic priest, Jasper, would not ascribe to ‘orgasms by prescription’ mainly because he would see it as a box of worms that, once opened, would be hard for him to close again. He’s maintained his celibacy mainly by cutting off his desire at the source. But the return of a certain Nicholas Blumfeld, childhood best friend and first love, has awakened parts of Jasper (*cough*) that have been asleep for a long time. 

Dividers

Excerpt: “Jazz? You okay?” Nicky’s voice came from the other side of the guest bedroom door.

“Yes. No. I’m…I don’t know.”

He heard the rustle of fabric and he wondered what Nicky was wearing. Just boxer shorts? Or did he cover up his tattoos even when alone in bed? Jasper closed his eyes and breathed.

“Come on,” Nicky said softly. “Talk to me, Jazz.”

“Nicky, it’s…” He covered his eyes. “We’re friends, right? I can talk to you about this? I don’t know who else—”

“Of course you can. What’s going on? You’re freaking me out, man.”

“I’m having—ever since you showed up—I’m having trouble sleeping.”

A gentle swishy noise filled the silence and Jasper imagined Nicky rubbing at the door between them. When Nicky spoke his voice sounded different, more intimate. “I think that’s totally normal, Jazz. It’s like we were talking about earlier tonight. Being around me makes you think of things you haven’t had to think about in a long time. What we did back then, it’s not…I could never say it was wrong from my point of view, but I understand if you’re having trouble dealing with it. I’d like to help you. Even if it means keeping my distance. I’m…I don’t want to hurt you.”

“I know that, it’s not…that’s not the issue. I never felt what we did was wrong, Nicky. Not then and not now. But it’s like something woke up and it won’t go back to sleep.”

“Oh.” Nicky fell silent for a moment. “Oh!” He laughed softly and Jasper cringed, shoulders rounding as he hid his face in the cup of his hands.

“Don’t laugh at me.”

“I’m not. I’m not. I’m sorry. So what are we talking about here? Are you getting, you know, boners? That won’t go down?”

Jasper appreciated Nicky trying to keep the amusement out of his voice, but he could imagine all too easily how wide Nicky’s grin would be. “That,” he whispered. “And I woke up half an hour ago, and I’d…” He trailed off.

“Shit, man. Are you having wet dreams? About me?” Nicky’s grin was so smug that Jasper could hear it through the door. “I’m not laughing, I promise. Because that’s not funny.” He let out a strangled laugh. “I’m not laughing. Okay listen, hold on. There’s this article I remember reading. I mean it could be a drug-infused hallucination but lemme look.”

Jasper listened to Nicky walk away, and his shoulders relaxed a little. He glanced down. His cock had abated a little, but not enough.  He made a frustrated noise and pressed the towel down hard into his groin. Not that it helped. Quick footsteps approached, and part of Jasper wanted to throw open the door and just get it over with.

“Found it on my phone! See? I knew I’d read it. Okay, you listening?”

“Apprehensively,” Jasper said, and Nicky laughed.

“No, man, this is super-important and it will change your life. So, it says that men, especially as they get older, should orgasm one to three times a week as a preventative measure toward avoiding prostate cancer. So there you go. You and your hand should get seriously reacquainted, because otherwise you might die, and I’m sure that’s not what God intended.”

Jasper laughed even though he tried not to. “I don’t think that’s how that works, Nicky.” He sighed and softly said, “Why is this happening to me?”

Nicky was quiet for a minute. He moved around a little, the fabric of whatever he was wearing shifting against the door. “You horny right now, Jazz?”

Pure hot want zinged up Jasper’s spine, and he pressed his fingertips to the door until they went white. “Don’t, Nicky.”

Again, silence but for Nicky’s breath. “You are, aren’t you? I bet you’ve been standing there talking to me with a boner that won’t go down. How long?”

“I’m not talking about this.”

“Just tell me. How long have you been hard?”

“The cold shower didn’t help.”

“Shit, man. This won’t take you any time at all. Just do it, okay? Why are you standing there suffering? For what? Just get it over with. You heard what the article said. You can do it in the name of medical necessity.”

Jasper laughed again but his eyes stung. “I don’t think I can.”

“You want me to come in?” Nicky whispered. His voice trembled a little and Jasper swallowed hard.

“I’m not…It’d be too much. I can’t.”

“Okay. I understand. I’m gonna go, and you do what you need to do. But let me tell you, talking to you has given me the biggest fucking hard-on. And I’m going to go back to my room, stick my hands down my pants, and think of you.”

Dividers

vespertine high res-2Blurb: Can a priest and a rock star obey love’s call?

Seventeen years ago, Jasper Hendricks and Nicholas Blumfeld’s childhood friendship turned into a secret, blissful love affair. They spent several idyllic months together until Jasper’s calling to the Catholic priesthood became impossible to ignore. Left floundering, Nicky followed his own trajectory into rock stardom, but he never stopped looking back.

Today, Jasper pushes boundaries as an out, gay priest, working hard to help vulnerable LGBTQ youth. He’s determined to bring change to the church and the world. Respected, admired, and settled in his skin, Jasper has long ignored his loneliness.

As Nico Blue, guitarist and songwriter for the band Vespertine, Nicky owns the hearts of millions. He and his bandmates have toured the world, lighting their fans on fire with their music. Numbed by drugs and fueled by simmering anger, Nicky feels completely alone. When Vespertine is forced to get sober, Nicky returns home to where it all started.

Jasper and Nicky’s careers have ruled their lives since they parted as teens. When they come face to face again, they must choose between the past’s lingering ghosts or the promise of a new future.

Available at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited

Dividers

About the Authors:

LETA BLAKE

Author of the bestselling book Smoky Mountain Dreams and the fan favorite Training Season, Leta Blake’s educational and professional background is in psychology and finance, respectively. However, her passion has always been for writing. She enjoys crafting romance stories and exploring the psyches of made up people. At home in the Southern U.S., Leta works hard at achieving balance between her day job, her writing, and her family.

You can find out more about her by following her online:

Dividers

INDRA VAUGHN

In 2008 Indra Vaughn packed up everything but the kitchen sink… no, that’s a lie. She left everything behind apart from her books and moved from Belgium to Michigan. Then in 2015 she packed up nothing but a toddler and left far too many of her books behind to move from Michigan back to Belgium. Indra’s professional background is in Nursing and Chinese Medicine, but in the midst of the madness, she prefers to spend time making up stories about mysterious men and their unrequited love.

You can find out more about her by following her online:

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Leta Blake’s Backlist || Indra Vaughn’s Backlist

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions 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

Standard
JC Wallace

Exclusive Excerpt: Apple Bites Anthology — Edited by Julie Lynn Hayes and Denise L. Wyant

Apple_Bites_Cover_FinalTitle:  Apple Bites: A Romance Anthology

Editors:  Julie Lynn Hayes and Denise L. Wyant

Release Date:  August 25, 2015  

Genre:  Contemporary Romance (both M/M and M/F)

Heat Levels:  Gala to Red Delicious (sweet to spicy)

Blurb:  Back to school takes on new meaning in this collection of eight mini-stories which run the gamut from sweet to spicy! No children in these tales, they’re for adults only! And each one features an apple in some way.

In this mixed bag of apple bites, you’ll find seasoned authors as well as newcomers. Teachers and students. M/M as well as M/F.  There’s something for everyone’s taste.

Going back to school has never been so naughty!

M/M STORIES

JC Wallace – An Officer and a Gentleman (and an Apple)

Holden isn’t sure how much longer he can survive without the man he loves, whose return from a six month deployment has been delayed. On the first day of classes, Professor Holden finds a shiny, red apple on his desk, mocking him. A cruel joke? Or something much more shocking…

Carol Pedroso – Have a Break, Have a…

Kevin is acting principal of another troubled school filled with idiotic teachers. His new husband had been sent half way round the world. Kevin is lonely, hungry, horny, and pissed off at life.

A surprise visitor at lunch time offers Kevin the break he so desperately needs…

Rivals – Julie Lynn Hayes

John and Bryce are heads of competing fraternities at upscale Westover College, as well as fierce rivals. On rush night, John finds Bryce has crashed his soiree, seeking recruits. Verbal swords are thrust. When Bryce pushes John’s buttons, the challenge is on—and winner takes all.

Nephy Hart – Apple for the Teacher

Going back to school is difficult for Rage. He has no reason to think this year won’t be filled with more marginalization and abuse. When his boyfriend gives him an apple for the teacher, Rage has no idea what difference an art project will make, or who will get the apple. 

Perry’s Cherry – Avery Dawes

An unfortunate earthquake shakes Perry from a freshman room to sharing with a grumpy senior. Too bad Nick is so sexy… and sullen. Labor Day finds them both on campus. Nick suggests a trip to a private club. Perry is about to get a college education of another kind…

M/F STORIES 

Elyzabeth M. VaLey – Good Teacher, pet

Ready to start the new school year, Anais’ boyfriend and Dom, Ian, plants the seeds of doubt in her mind. He tells her she’s forgetting something that only the best teachers receive. Ian gives her a lesson and shows how to earn herself a juicy treat.

Cynthia Dawn Griffin – Gatekeeper

Kate loves her job as Head Secretary. The students adore her, calling her Gatekeeper. Kate’s job may be in jeopardy because of her passionate affair with one of the staff, who acts as though it never happened.

Will she be able to focus on her job and win her man back?

Renee Rose – Hot for Teacher

Lucy’s nerves have her wound up for her first Biochemistry 101 lecture. Fiancé Dr. Todd gives his T.A. a wicked distraction. While he tortures Lucy with edging and public arousal, she must somehow get through her class without losing all control.

Amazon Buy Links: Amazon US || Amazon UK || Amazon DE || Amazon CA || Amazon AU

Dividers

Excerpt from An Officer and a Gentleman (and an Apple) by JC Wallace

“Welcome back everyone,” I said, laying my papers on the table.

When I looked up, the room was empty. I frowned and checked my watch. Nine AM on the dot. I pulled out my phone to check my schedule. That’s when something red caught my eye.

An apple.

A red apple on the center desk in the front row.

My vision narrowed on the fruit, my pulse raced, my palms sweated, and I couldn’t draw in any air. Was this some kind of sick joke? Most everyone I worked with knew about the “apple story”, as did many of the ROTC soldiers from Jeremy’s base who were currently taking my class. Jeremy would tell that story to anyone who would listen. Could someone from one of my classes have left the apple on purpose?

Who would be so cruel?

A bitter taste filled my mouth as I approached the red symbol of our relationship. From the start, Jeremy had been the consummate future officer, and nothing short of a gentleman. He’d insisted on wooing me properly, and shit if we hadn’t followed the rules of dating step by step. On our first date, we did nothing more than hold hands, the night ending with a brief goodnight kiss. On our second date, we made out on the beach, his hands never straying below my waist—much to my frustration. On our third date, we lay on a blanket beneath the stars, hands exploring, our groins rubbing through our clothes. On our fourth date, we made out on my couch during a hockey game. Shirts removed, shorts shucked to the knees, the blissful heat of my soldier’s mouth had gotten me off within minutes. By the time we’d consummated our relationship (after two whole months!), I’d fallen hopelessly in love with him.

Tears threatened my eyes as the anger drained away. I was overreacting. The apple could have been accidentally left behind by a student in the class before mine. I realized just how tired I was. The excitement of seeing my man at the six month mark had turned to frustration and want and loneliness when his return had been delayed. My hand just wasn’t cutting it anymore. Closing my eyes, I fought to recall the whisper of Jeremy’s fingers over my skin, his breath across my neck, his whispers in my ear, but only my sadness came through.

Dividers

Author BioAbout the Author: JC Wallace started writing from a young age, but took a break for marriage, kids, and college (in that order). He recently rediscovered his passion and ventured out into the brave new world of publishing with his short, Waiting for Snow, and his first novel,Curiosity Killed Shaney. At night and on the weekends, JC writes about all things men, believing there is nothing hotter than two men finding and loving one another, whether for a night or forever. An avid reader of M/M romance, JC loves a good twist of a plot, HEA, HFN, or tragic ending. He also writes what his bestie calls HUNK (Happy Until the Next Kidnapping).

In his daytime hours, JC works with individuals with autism and behavior problems. He is owned by a beautiful partner, Speed Demon, three kids, two grandchildren, two dogs and one cat. He lives in the beautiful Adirondack Mountains in Northern NY.

Author Links: Website || Facebook || Twitter

Standard
Giveaways, Hayden Thorne

Excerpt and Giveaway: Desmond and Garrick (Book Two) by Hayden Thorne

DandG Banner

We’re so pleased to have author Hayden Thorne back today with an excerpt and giveaway of her Young Adult Historical Fantasy Desmond and Garrick (Books One and Two). To enter for the chance to win an e-copy of BOTH books, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below after reading this little teaser.

Good luck!

divider

from Chapter 11

He’d walked a short distance, pausing under the shadows of a small cluster of trees, when movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he turned to find Desmond scrambling up the hill – appearing desperate to get back to the picnic area. Garrick narrowed his eyes as he watched the boy. The way Desmond practically flailed his arms in order to keep his balance, the way he almost stumbled a few times in his haste to get up the hill, the way his clothes looked suspiciously crumpled and his hair windblown and wild and his face taking on a decidedly unhealthy red hue for a vampire…

Garrick sighed, shaking his head, his gaze still fixed on the frantic figure. “Good heavens, Master Desmond,” he muttered, that familiar feeling of helplessness creeping up his spine. “What have you done this time?”

He shrugged things off and carried on, awash in contentment for another pleasant moment, this time humming to himself.

More movement caught his attention and, and this time he saw Phillip Priestley making his way up the hill as well, his appearance no less wild than Desmond’s. But while Desmond appeared to be fleeing the area and half-killing himself to reach the hill’s crest in the shortest time possible, Mr. Priestley appeared to march stiffly uphill, his disheveled appearance highlighting the anger that set his face in a rigid mask. Arms swinging stiffly at his sides, eyes fixed directly ahead, mouth pressed into a tight line, the young fellow was in grave danger of swelling up with all that collected rage before exploding in a dreadfully untidy way that only vampires could appreciate. The sinking feeling gave way to another familiar sensation: a dreadful chill that could only mean one thing…

Any mortal tutor who takes on Desmond and Lavinia for his pupil will need all the luck in the world.

Any mortal tutor who takes on Desmond and Lavinia for his pupil will need all the luck in the world.

“Ah, Mr. Mortimer,” a voice hailed him.

Garrick turned and found Mr. Sherbourne approaching, his hands clasped behind him, his hat still on his head, his clothes still pristine. He inclined his head at Garrick once he was near enough.

“Mr. Sherbourne,” Garrick said after a moment’s hesitation.

The gentleman flashed an engaging smile, his manner calm and casual. “Sir, I apologize for pressing you with such a remarkable request, but I’d be honored if you would come with me tomorrow morning and be my second.”

Garrick stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“I’ve been challenged to a duel, you see, and I’m afraid it’s simply beyond my control to walk away from it. Honor is honor, after all.” When Garrick remained mute, he added, “Pistols at dawn. You know what that’s about.”

Garrick continued to stare at him. “I beg your pardon?”

Mr. Sherbourne sighed, though his manner stayed calm. Almost indifferent. “I’m compelled to defend Desmond Hathaway’s honor, sir. While in the course of dispensing a duty that was entrusted to me by the good Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway, I chanced upon a scene of a – well – rather sensitive nature, and I took umbrage at the gentleman’s treatment at the hands of a scoundrel. I certainly would have challenged Mr. Priestley to a duel myself, had he not leapt upon the chance first and challenged me. Can you imagine the cheek, sir? He’s the villain, and he thought to challenge me.”

Garrick stared. Still. Somehow, some time ago, his brain had ceased its functions, and he felt as though he were standing before its sad remains, watching it slowly dissolve with every word Mr. Sherbourne uttered.

Pistols at dawn - not exactly an ideal thing for mortal and vampire teenagers caught in a love triangle.

Pistols at dawn – not exactly an ideal thing for mortal and vampire teenagers caught in a love triangle.

“Would you mind explaining yourself, sir?” he said after about twenty attempts at speaking something that sounded halfway coherent.

“My dear Mr. Mortimer, I don’t see how I can make myself any clearer,” Mr. Sherbourne said, looking tired and faintly irritated. Yet he stood before Garrick, hands still clasped at his back, posture straight, appearance very striking and handsome as only vampires could be striking and handsome. “I need you to be my second, sir, for dawn tomorrow. While I’d be quite happy simply giving Mr. Priestley a damned good thrashing, I’m afraid I’m rather stuck resorting to a duel and perhaps bloody murder to set things right.”

“Mr. Sherbourne, you do realize your challenger is sixteen years old and is quite incapable of sound thought – especially if he’s been sent down from Wyndham.”

“Seventeen and four months.” Mr. Sherbourne paused, looking sincerely surprised. “I took care to ask, Mr. Mortimer. Not that it made much of a difference, anyway, since a scoundrel is a scoundrel at any age, and if Mr. Priestley forced my hand into a duel, I’m not one to back away from it. If his age worries you, perhaps you ought to raise the matter with him, not me.”

“Are you drunk, sir?”

“Indeed, no. But I’ve never been to a duel before, let alone been challenged to one. I’m afraid my ignorance shows, though I do hope I’m still capable of defending Desmond’s honor when required.”

divider

Desmond and Garrick Book TwoBlurb: As the vain and self-absorbed poets continue their campaign of destruction in Dryden Abbey, Garrick finds himself struggling in the classroom, with increasingly distracted pupils eroding all of his hard work and reducing him to using all things dead and decaying in order to keep Desmond and Lavinia’s minds on their lessons.

Meanwhile, with Phillip Priestley’s unexpected appearance, Desmond’s world unravels as infatuation, lust, confusion, and revulsion drive him into wilder mood swings. Mr. Sherbourne’s coldly distant yet attractive presence in Dryden Abbey further complicates things, prompting Desmond to do something he never thought he’d ever do: reach out to unlikely allies for help.

In the midst of the wild goings on around them, Garrick and Desmond will realize that the chasm separating them as distinct species will not only teach them important lessons of understanding and acceptance, but also forge a stronger bond of friendship than they expected.

Buy Links: JMS Books || Amazon || Smashwords

divider

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
Bold Strokes Books, Charlie Cochrane, Genre Romance

Guest Post and Excerpt: Don’t Kiss the Vicar by Charlie Cochrane

Charlie Cochrane Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author Charlie Cochrane to The Novel Approach today to chat about her new novella from Bold Strokes Books, Don’t Kiss the Vicar

Welcome, Charlie!

Dividers

How and where does a story and its characters start?

I know that some authors get an idea then plan their novel/novella down to the nth degree, and more power to their elbows if that helps them to craft a really good story. I honestly believe this is something there are no hard and fast rules for; so long as a tale gets out of the author’s head and onto the page or screen then it matters not how it gets there. Which is just as well, because I’m a total pantser; if I try to write to a plan I find it’s like wearing shackles.

I usually begin stories with two characters and a conversation, then maybe construct several different key scenes and conversations which eventually go into the whole, finding their natural place in the action. It’s similar to doing a jigsaw, although you don’t know the picture on the box until you’ve completed it (which sometimes means going back and changing some of those original pieces!)

In the case of “Don’t Kiss the Vicar” I had the character of Dan Miller (said vicar) spring pretty well fully formed from my imagination right at the start of the creative process. A man of the cloth in a sprawling village parish not unlike the one I live in, a man of great integrity who finds himself having to hide his true nature from his flock. I have to admit that I’ve put several snippets of local geography into the tale, to form the backdrop I wanted to set the action against, although I haven’t included any of my fellow parishioners.

The other main characters in “Don’t Kiss the Vicar” appeared one by one in my head – and on the page – rather like in a Shakespeare play where the key players gradually emerge. I based them on the sort of people I’ve known in the various churches I’ve been a member of, snatching little bits of personality here and there then amalgamating them into something new. So Margaret, Sylvia and Harry are as real as I can make them without being vaguely libellous; although the interesting thing is that I had to curb some of their characteristics as they were getting a bit too “BBC sitcom” to be convincing, even though they are based firmly in reality.

Dan’s love interest, Steve, was the biggest challenge. He had to be likeable, but still believably prickly with Dan. These two men had to be in the classic romantic situation of feeling attraction for each other but not daring to show it. Very Beatrice and Benedict! It’s a widely used trope, so the author has to attempt to keep the pairing fresh while treading a well worn path.

I hope I succeeded…

Dividers

Dont Kiss the VicarBlurb: Vicar Dan Miller is firmly in the closet in his new parish. Could the inhabitants of a sedate Hampshire village ever accept a gay priest? Trickier than that, how can he hide his attraction for one of his flock, Steve Dexter?

Encouraged by his ex-partner to seize the day, Dan determines to tell Steve how he feels, only to discover that Steve’s been getting poison pen letters and suspicion falls on his fellow parishioners. When compassion leads to passion, they have to conceal their budding relationship, but the arrival of more letters sends Dan scuttling back into the closet.

Can they run the letter writer to ground? More importantly, can they patch up their romance and will Steve ever get to kiss the vicar again?

Buy Links: Bold Strokes Books || Amazon || Barnes & Noble

Dividers

Excerpt: “Vicar!” The shout, the almost friendly wave meant the decision to veer off was taken too late.

“Steve!” A cordial wave back as the distance between them narrowed. “Didn’t think you frequented this place.”

“Is that why you come here, then? To get away from the parishioners you like least?”

Dan tried to find an answer, but somehow the connection between his brain and mouth had become severed. Helpless, he could feel the flush rushing up his neck, and could see—without looking at the bloke—that Steve was less than amused. What the hell else was he going to think other than that he’d hit the nail on the head, and Dan was too dumb to cover the fact up?

“Rex!” A high pitched, agitated female voice broke the awkward moment, as did a huge Great Dane, about the size of a rhinoceros, which came haring out of the woods, onto the path and straight into Steve’s leg.

“Shit!” Steve staggered, arms flailing in a futile effort to keep himself upright. Dan’s attempt to reach out and catch him before he hit the stony path was equally ineffective, but at least he could keep the nasty, snarling brute at bay with the aid of the stick he habitually took when he walked. Jimmy had said it gave him gravitas, now it provided the ideal weapon.

“You should keep that thing under control,” he said, as the woman came up and made a lunge for the Great Dane. “What if it had gone for a child?”

“He’s just nervous,” she said, flustered. “Here, Rex. Here boy.” The dog stood off. “He’s a rescue dog. Doesn’t like men.”

“Then take him somewhere he won’t have to see them. Are you all right?” Dan tried to focus his anger into something useful, rummaging in his pocket for a clean hankie. “You need something on that hand.”

“I’m fine,” Steve said, trying to hide the bleeding while keeping a nervous eye on the dog. “Can somebody not take that bloody thing away?”

“There’s no need for that sort of language,” the woman said, at last managing to get a lead onto the dog’s collar.

“I think there’s every need for it. And worse,” Dan said. “You’d better take him off if you don’t want the air turning blue.”

“Well, really! Come on boy.” She hauled the dog away at last.

“Right. Show me that hand.”

“I’m fine.” Steve got to his feet, brushing the dirt off his trousers and managing to get blood on them.

“That hand’s a mess.” Dan grabbed it, none too gently, which made Steve wince, but it served him right for faffing. “This cut’s full of crap. You need to have it cleaned out and a steri-strip put on. Might even need a stitch or two.”

“I’ve had worse,” Steve said, trying to free his paw.

Yes, you have. There’s that intriguing scar on the back of your hand and the one above your left eyebrow. Don’t think I haven’t noticed. Don’t think I don’t imagine tasting them.

Dan became aware of the strange look he was getting and ploughed on. “So have I. Come on, the vicarage is closer than your house. We can dress this there.”

“Oh, for fu…goodness sake. I can sort it out myself. I’m not a child.” Steve tugged his hand away, clearly avoiding Dan’s gaze.

“Will you not let somebody help you? Must you always be so bloody stubborn?”

Dividers

Charlie CochraneAuthor Bio and Links: As Charlie Cochrane couldn’t be trusted to do any of her jobs of choice—like managing a rugby team—she writes. Her favourite genre is gay fiction, predominantly historical romances/mysteries.

She’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, Mystery People, and International Thriller Writers Inc., with titles published by Carina, Samhain, Bold Strokes Books, MLR, and Riptide.

To sign up for her newsletter, email her at cochrane.charlie2@googlemail.com, or catch her at: Facebook || Twitter || Goodreads || Blog || Website

Standard
Alicia Cameron, Fantastic Fiction Publishing, Giveaways

Excerpt and Giveaway: Sedition by Alicia Cameron

Sedition Banner

Today we’re so pleased to offer you an exclusive excerpt from Alicia Cameron’s new novel Sedition, Book Two in the Demoted series from Fantastic Fiction Publishing. FFP is also offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book. You can enter by clicking on the Rafflecopter widget below.

Good luck!

Dividers

Excerpt: He’s mine, and I want to make him feel good again. I missed touching him, and if the way he thrusts himself against me is any sign, he misses being touched. I tease him, working his body to relax and open for me, flicking my tongue out and over his cock, biting gently at the insides of his legs. Everything is calm for once, and I want to take my time with him.

Sascha tries to keep speaking, but he quickly loses the ability. I keep touching him, feeling him yield to me. For once, there are no immediate threats hanging over either of our heads, and I let myself relax, feeling myself grow hard and excited as I do. I slide up, kissing Sascha deeply, pressing against his body with mine. After I’ve taken all I can handle, I slide him down the pillows, arranging him on the mattress exactly where I want him. He looks up at me with excitement and a little fear, and I love that I inspire that in him. He leans up to kiss me and I push him back down, holding him there. I like his input, but I have my own ideas of what I want to do with him tonight. When he acquiesces, lying still for me, I climb on top of him, framing his body with my own, lining my cock up, ready to take him. I pause, admiring him below me.

He shudders, just slightly, and he smiles up at me. I keep pinning him there, even as he tries to move. He wiggles his ass against my cock a tiny bit until I push a little harder, forcing him to stay still.

“You’re mine,” I remind him, pressing him hard into the mattress with my hands and my hips.

Sascha nods, and I can feel his cock growing harder between us. “Prove it,” he challenges me, although his tone is barely different from begging.

I don’t deny him. I prove just how much he is mine, and I do so slowly, holding him down when he even tries to move. He tries to take me into him faster, meeting my thrusts, but I won’t have it. I force him to wait, to feel me sliding in and out of him slowly, sensually. I feel his arms twitch; he’s trying to grab me and pull me closer, but I trap him and keep him pinned to the bed. I make my way inside of him as slowly as I can tolerate, and when I finish, I continue to hold him in place. I smile at him feeling like I’ve won the challenge.

Dividers

Blurbs

SubjectionSubjection (Demoted: Book One): In a world where intellect and achievement are valued above all else, a young man risks everything to save his brother from a life of slavery. Thrown into a harsh, unyielding world where slaves are treated as less than animals, Sascha struggles to come to terms with everything he knows being ripped away from him, but a life of success could never prepare him for his life as one of the Demoted. Sinking lower and lower, Sascha begins to lose hope, but the whim of a mysterious, wealthy man has the potential to change all that.

Cashiel has a dark history that he guards carefully. Between family and business and politics, he rarely has time for a slave, much less a lover. But when he sees a young man who reminds him of the very history he is trying to escape, he makes an impulse decision that he’s not sure whether to regret or not. The slave could expose everything, or he could be the most valuable asset that Cashiel has ever acquired.

Cashiel and Sascha share desires, hopes, and a home. Each man is limited by status, hindered by history, and desperate to succeed. The question is, will that be enough?

Buy Links: Fantastic Fiction Publishing || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble

Dividers

SeditionSedition (Demoted: Book Two): Sascha’s world changed when Cashiel Michaud bought him, rescuing him from a brothel and a life of torture. They developed a sexual relationship, but can their relationship amount to more than that? Deceit, lies, and political scandal color not only their world, but their relationship, and dark figures from both men’s pasts threaten to intrude on the few moments of peace they have. A slave is never safe from harm, nor is an outcast family member. In the end, are Sascha and Cash strong enough to face the challenges, or will they be torn apart forever?

Buy Links: Fantastic Fiction Publishing || Amazon || All Romance eBooks || Smashwords || Barnes & Noble

Dividers

Author BioAbout the Author: Alicia Cameron has been making up stories since before she can remember. After discovering erotica during a high school banned books project, she never really turned back. She lives in Denver, Colorado with a tiny dog and rabbit who conspire regularly to distract her from doing anything productive. By day she works in the mental health field and is passionate about youth rights and welfare. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, glitter, and punk rock concerts.

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard
Giveaways, RJ Jones

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Black and Blühe Blog Tour with RJ Jones

Banner

Today we’re pleased to welcome author RJ Jones back to TNA. Enjoy the excerpt from her new book Black and Blühe (Out of the Blue: Book Two) that she’s selected to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

Good luck!

Dividers

Black and BluheBlurb: Grayson Black has never forgiven himself for not saving his identical twin brother, Jet, from a savage beating at their father’s hands ten years ago. Jet’s near-death never would have happened if Gray hadn’t been so focused on his boyfriend at the time. He has sworn to take care of his brother ever since. Gray can’t afford a distraction from his self-imposed mission, the type of distraction presented by the gorgeous blond showing up at their gigs.

Kris Larson is a firefighter with the San Francisco Fire Department. Since splitting from his girlfriend, his favorite way to spend nights off is watching the Black Brothers play in the bars of the Bay Area, especially the guitarist. But it’s not until the brothers are left homeless after a fire at their apartment building that Kris has the opportunity to know the real person behind the brooding façade.

Gray fights his attraction to Kris, but with a meddlesome twin who just wants him to be happy, it’s a losing battle. Before Gray and Kris can have a lasting relationship, though, Gray must learn to forgive himself, let go of the past, and lay more than one demon to rest.

Buy Links: Amazon | All Romance eBooks | Smashwords

Dividers

Excerpt: I WOKE the next morning to the smell of coffee and it took me a minute to realize I wasn’t in my own bed. I presumed it was Kris’s arms that were wrapped around me. I was in his bed and there was a semihard cock nestled against my ass. It must’ve been Jet who put the coffee on, and my mind was eased knowing he’d stayed the night too.

The memory of yesterday’s events flooded my brain and bile rose in my stomach. I was such an idiot and the embarrassment was mortifying. Kris probably thought I was a right nut job.

If he thought that, why is he wrapped around you like a lover right now?

I had no idea. I knew I didn’t want to move. Ever. I wished time would stop and I could stay here with Kris’s arms around me, feeling safe and loved. Nothing could harm me here. No thoughts, memories, or people could get to me in this perfect little bubble.

I didn’t want to move, but I wanted to see what Kris looked like in his sleep. Did he wear that little smile that seemed permanently etched on his features?

I rolled over, ensuring Kris’s arms never left my body, and was met by an icy blue stare, a small smile making his eyes gleam. My own smile made his get bigger in return.

Neither of us spoke. We lay facing each other in complete silence. Kris’s hand moved hesitantly under my shirt and rubbed gentle circles at the small of my back and his smile grew wider as I melted into the pillow, savoring his touch on my skin.

Placing my hand on his cheek, I leaned in and pressed my lips to his. There was no heat, no pressure, just a gentle coming together.

I pulled back and Kris’s eyes remained closed for a long second afterward, like he was memorizing the feel of our lips together.

“Hey,” I whispered.

Kris’s smile seemed never-ending. “Hey.”

Dividers

RJ JonesAbout the Author:

RJ started as a reader and eventually made the progression to reviewing. It wasn’t until two men popped into her thoughts, insisting on telling her their story that she started to write. It started with one scene. A hot and dirty one in the shower.

RJ’s initial thought was if she could write their scene then they’d shut up and allow her to concentrate on other aspects of the day. That shower scene was 3000 words long and three hours of work.  But they didn’t shut up.  They told her their entire story and she didn’t sleep for days.  Sometimes she couldn’t keep up with what they were telling her and she had to keep a notebook by the bed.

Whilst RJ was writing their story a side character decided he needed his story told too. Then other characters followed suit.

You see the problem? If RJ ever wants to sleep again then she needs to write.

RJ is a wife and a mother to two boys. Even her dog is a boy.

She is surrounded by males.

RJ writes emotionally charged, character driven romances. Her guys will always get their HEA, but it will never be easy.

Find RJ At: Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest | Blog | Email

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Dividers

TOUR DATES:

Standard
Giveaways, Self-Published, Varian Krylov

Excerpt and Giveaway: Trasmundo: Escape by Varian Krylov

Varian Krylov Banner

We’re so pleased to welcome author Varian Krylov today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her upcoming novel Trasmundo: Escape. Varian’s offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an e-copy of the book. Just click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

Dividers

Blurb: Strange, quiet Luka doesn’t live in this world; long ago he took refuge in his art, escaping into surreal mindscapes inspired by his favorite painters. In the beautifully monstrous realms of his imagination, he is safe from the pain of his losses: his family, his friends, his hope.

Until war breaks out, and he is forced to flee the only home he’s known since he was thirteen.

Captured by an enemy soldier, young Luka is marched across brutal terrain, toward a fate known only by the bearded menace holding him prisoner. Quick with a knife, tireless and strong, Tarik guards the purpose of his mission as he takes Luka deeper and deeper into enemy territory.

When the soldier discovers the painful secret he has been hiding since childhood, Luka fears he is about to endure a new kind of cruelty, worse than being abandoned, ostracized or beaten. Or is it possible the soldier holding Luka prisoner is the one person who isn’t afraid of the truth behind Luka’s silence and lies?

Dividers

Photo Courtesy of Varian Krylov

Photo Courtesy of Varian Krylov

Excerpt: “I…” After a few silent seconds Luka finally raised his head and met Tarik’s gaze. “Today, you were the same as yesterday. I thought you wanted to forget it.”

A haze of sadness dimmed Tarik’s eyes. “When I got into your sleeping bag with you, it wasn’t to fool around. I just wanted to take care of you. Keep you warm. Help you feel safe.”

The murky deep swallowed up the faint light in Luka’s eyes.

“Wait.” Tarik touched Luka’s chin and made him face him again. “I wasn’t planning on trying to fool around, because of everything that’s happened to you. I didn’t think you’d want that, last night. But when I realized you were… excited, I got excited, too. Got carried away. All day today I’ve been worried I pushed you too hard. That maybe you didn’t even want me to do that to you last night.”

Luka barely gasped out a desperate little, “No.”

Tarik smiled. “But you didn’t touch me. You didn’t let me kiss you.”

Blushing. Quiet. “Did you want to kiss me?”

“Yes.”

“I was nervous. I was…”

Tarik remembered Luka hiding his face, hiding his tears, hiding his embarrassment at being hard, at being so desperately aroused. And he had the feeling, even now, Luka wanted to bow his head, hide his burning face against Tarik’s chest, that Luka was forcing himself to keep his chin lifted, to keep meeting Tarik’s eyes. Tarik waited, then finally asked in a quiet voice, “What?”

“Scared.”

Luka’s quiet confession made Tarik’s throat go tight. “I’m sorry I scared you. After what those assholes did to you—”

“I wasn’t afraid of you like that.”

“Why were you scared, then?” When Luka didn’t answer, Tarik lifted his hand, hesitated, then caressed his cheek. “Are you scared now?”

“No.”

“But last night…why?”

“Because when…when that happens, people always get angry.”

“When what happens?”

It was agony, looking into the collapsing darkness of Luka’s eyes. “When you first got in the bag with me, I didn’t mean to… Sometimes I can’t help it.”

“You were afraid I’d be angry that you were hard?”

As if he’d wanted to say something, Luka’s lips parted. But before a single syllable emerged, his eyes flooded with tears and he bit down on his lips.

“Couldn’t you tell from the way I was touching you, I wouldn’t be mad? Couldn’t you tell I wanted you, but I was holding back?”

“That never happened before. I didn’t know how to be.”

“Never?” Tarik was speaking softly, but beyond his control, his question spiked with surprise. “Hasn’t anyone ever touched you? Kissed you?”

For some reason, Luka looked surprised by Tarik’s surprise.

A flood of diaphanous ephemera: Luka skulking off when Tarik had forced him to bathe. A dozen flashes of shy eyes turned away whenever Tarik blithely stripped to change clothes or wash himself. “And all this time…” Tarik sighed. God, he’d been obtuse. “Is that why you’ve been so skittish every time you needed to bathe? Or change clothes? Every time I got undressed? You were afraid I’d get angry if you…”

“If I stay away, no one can accuse me of doing dirty things.”

Heat flamed through Tarik, a chemical fire of anger, not at Luka, but at whatever had filled him up with so much doubt and shame. “Do you think what we did last night was dirty?”

“I guess I feel dirty when someone feels disgusted by me, afraid of me.”

Tarik smiled through the sadness pressing down on his chest. “I wasn’t disgusted or afraid. I wanted you hard for me.” A twinge squeezed his heart, seeing Luka startle and blush. “I wanted to touch you. I wanted to kiss you, Luka.”

Brave Luka, fighting himself, holding Tarik’s gaze. “I didn’t know you’re…” His blush darkening second by second. “I never would have guessed that you’re…”

Tarik’s grin was a dare. “What am I?”

“You like men.”

“I like you.”

Luka went stark still, eyes wide and bright, fixed on Tarik in incomprehension or incredulity. His lips parted, and maybe he said, “I…” or “I’ll…” before his pink cheeks went crimson.

Tarik leaned in an inch or two closer. “Will you let me— Do you want me to kiss you now?”

For a few seconds, Luka didn’t answer. It didn’t even look like he was breathing. Then his lips parted. Tarik could hear him suck in a breath. Then, barely audible, “Yes.”

A wild, startling thrill tore through Tarik in the wake of that single, fragile syllable.

Holding himself in check, Tarik went slowly. Brought his hands to Luka’s flushed face, soft skin hot under his fingertips. Luka’s eyes big and watchful and frantic and intense, hopefully with anticipation, with want, something close to the dizzying desire Tarik was feeling, and not fear. Luka’s warm breath on his lips. A brief caress, almost as light as the sigh that came after. Sweet soft press, lingering. Slow rising hunger, like nursing. Wondrous, thrilling touch, soft wet tip of tongue pleading for the parting of Luka’s lips. Luka yielding, whimpering against the tongue touching his tongue.

Dividers

Varian KrylovAbout the Author: Growing up near Los Angeles, I spent much of my time frolicking in the Pacific Ocean and penning angst-twisted poetry. Now I’m living in sunny Spain writing pathos-riddled fiction.

I’ve always loved the music and substance of words, always loved writing in well-worn notebooks by hand, tapping at the keys of the computer, and, of course, conjuring up stories.

And from my earliest memories, I’ve always been fascinated–maybe obsessed?–with sex and sexuality.

In my writing, I poke at social issues, but more than anything, I dig into the psyches of my characters. Sex is the medium, the expression, and the tool of discovery for their insecurities, the needs that drive them, the comfort they can’t live without, the joy and relish of life that makes each of them intense, strange, and alluring.

Like most writers, I love hearing what you think of the stories I’ve written. All honest feedback is truly appreciated.

Facebook | Twitter

Dividers

THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

Standard