An Ali Audiobook Review: Empty Net (Scoring Chances #4) by Avon Gale and Scott R. Smith (Narrator)

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Rating 4.5  out of 5 stars
empty-net-audioSpartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.
Two of my favorite things in the world are hockey and books. When you combine them together I’m in heaven. This was the fourth book in my favorite hockey romance series. At the end of the last book there was a pretty ugly game between two rival teams and goalie Laurent St, Savoy crosses the line in a big way. The beginning of this story starts with Laurent being traded to the Spitfires and being expected to play with a bunch of guys (& coaches) who hate him. 

Laurent is aware is behavior was deplorable but he has some serious issues and desperation made him act like he did. Issac Drake wants to ignore Laurent all season and just play the game but as team captain that’s kind of hard to do. When circumstances bring Laurent’s issues to Issac’s attention he finds he can’t turn his back on his new teammate. 

Issac and Laurent become friends and Issac slowly convinces his other teammates and coaches to give Laurent a second chance. Much of the story is about Laurent learning to deal with his issues and stand up for himself. Over the course of the story the two young men fall in love and develop a relationship.

I really enjoyed this book. It’s my second favorite of the series. It tackles some pretty serious issues in a well thought out manner. The progression of Issac and Laurent’s relationship was realistic and I really loved them together. In addition to their relationship there were also some very touching moments between Issac and his coach/mentor Misha. Those ended up being some of my favorite scenes in the entire book.

As usual this author writes great hockey scenes and it’s apparent that she not only knows the rules and regulations of the game but her love for it jumps off every page at you. As a fellow hockey lover that means a lot to me. There’s nothing as exciting as the big games and/or the big wins in sports stories. 
The three previous books in the series can be read as standalones and technically this one could too but I think you would get more out of this story if you read the previous book first. There is a lot of back story on Issac and his coaches that you should know. 
This story was narrated by Scott R. Smith.  I thought he did a good job with both of the MC’s as well as all of the side characters.  I find that this narrator is consistently good with his books.

Again, I love this series and this was another great installment. This is a definite recommend from me and may be one of my most enjoyed audiobooks of the year.
 
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson:  I really like this cover.  It’s a great cover for a story about two goalies. 
Sales Links:
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Audiobook Details:
6 hrs 38 mins
Audible Audio, 7 pages
Published January 10th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published September 2nd 2016)
Original TitleEmpty Net
ASINB01N31AV7C
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesScoring Chances #4

A Lila Release Day Review: Jerricho’s Freedom by Jake C. Wallace

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

jerrichos-freedom-dspAs prince of the Anzuni demon clan, Jerricho’s entire life has been planned for him. At twenty-five, he will become the crown prince of the Anzuni, marry a man chosen by his parents, and bear his husband’s children all without choice. If that wasn’t enough, he must remain a virgin until his wedding night. To do otherwise would spark an unimaginable scandal.

With only ten months until his twenty-fifth birthday, the walls close in on Jerry, and the realization that he will lose his small apartment, his job at the library, and his freedom hits hard. But that’s nothing compared to losing the man he loves. Rex is a smart and sexy construction foreman with a keen interest in demon “mythology.” When Jerry and Rex give in to spending one night together, their indiscretion can’t be kept secret for long. But that’s only the beginning of their problems.

Someone wants to harness the power of Jerry’s bloodline and his ability to conceive—someone with designs on horrifying experiments, sex slavery, and murder. Jerry and Rex are at the mercy of power-hungry sadists. With no one left to trust, they must fight for each other, their freedom—and their unborn child.

Jerricho’s Freedom is more than I expected and perhaps the reason I didn’t give this story a higher rating. When I say that everything happens, I mean everything. There’s not a simple plot twist missing here, and the author added events and crossroads until the very end. There’s a lot happening and it can be overwhelming at times.

That said, the amount of world build and characters in the story is impressive. There’s a reason behind a reason for things to happen, but the author did an excellent job adding everything together and making sure the reader didn’t have any unanswered question by the end of the story.

There’s a strong case of insta-love but is mostly because Jerry’s and Rex’s friendship happens off-page. Everything we know about how they met and fell in love is told to the reader after they become a couple. I do think the mating part helps relief the impact, allowing the reader to see them as an established couple.

The story is dark and has some dub-con/non-con scenes. There are gritty scenes, lots of painful passages, and violence. I wanted a little more about the arranged marriage and more time for the MCs to connect to each other, but in the end, everything worked, giving the couple their HEA.

The world build is done well and it’s easy to see where the author adjusted reality to create a believable environment. I like most of the secondary characters and the settings were interesting. Even when the majority of the story takes place in California, it’s easy to forget the connection with reality.

Overall, it’s an interesting take on mpreg stories. It’s actually much more than a simple romance story. The author packed a turn for every corner and keeps the reader guessing continuously. A nice story for fans of dark fantasy.

The cover by AngstyG is a bit generic but goes well with Jerry’s description and the paranormal aspects of the story.

Sale Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon | Nook

ebook, 334 pages
Published: February 13, 2017 (second edition)Dreamspinner Press
ISBN: 1635333083 (ISBN13: 9781635333084)
Edition Language: English

A VVivacious Review: The Start of Something New (Daniel and Ryan #2 ) by Tamryn Eradani

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Rating: 3 Stars out of 5
 
the-start-of-something-newAfter spending a great night together, Daniel is looking forward to the possibility of turning this into a long term arrangement. But he is apprehensive of Ryan’s behaviour towards him at work because Daniel likes to keep his work and personal life completely separated. As things settle Daniel and Ryan discuss the possibility of more scenes and their personal likes and dislikes.
 
If this story wasn’t part of a series I would have probably given it four stars. Unfortunately this is the second in a series and it feels like a reiteration of events in the first story and thus, the three stars.
 
This story offers very little in the form of new material, it just establishes things that we have already learnt in the first book. All new information that was offered in this book feels like it could be of use later in the series but it doesn’t help further the plot in this one.
 
I like the main characters of this series, Daniel and Ryan. Daniel being the eccentric control-freak he is and Ryan who feels like a cute, loveable geek with his messy table that drives Daniel insane. These two characters have a lot of chemistry and I really want to see their relationship progress.
 
While this story offers everything its predecessor does, the one thing this story lacks is growth. Neither does the story progress, nor is there much in the way of character development. This story picks up right where the previous one ends and I felt like this story should have marked a milestone in Daniel and Ryan’s relationship but it wasn’t so. Truthfully you really can’t expect much since this story is actually just a continuation of their first scene, so while realistically I can appreciate that these events depict these characters as they should be I still can’t help looking for that something extra.
 
I will definitely continue this series because as far as I can tell from the excerpt of the next book, it looks like the milestone I was looking for in this book might be present in the next one.
 
Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I like the cover. It is pretty similar to that of the first book. I can’t help comparing the two covers and I feel like the green background of the first book offered a better contrast than the purple background of this one.
Sales Links
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Book Details:
ebook, 26 pages
Expected publication: February 13th 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781945952593
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesDaniel and Ryan #2

In the Spotlight: The Start of Something New (Daniel & Ryan, Book 2) by Tamryn Eradani (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Start of Something New

Series: Daniel & Ryan, Book 2

Author: Tamryn Eradani

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 13th

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 13100

Genre: Erotica, BDSM, businessmen, contemporary, friends to lovers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

After a successful first scene together, Daniel and Ryan explore the possibility of continuing their relationship. Negotiating likes and dislikes in BDSM play is one thing, but can Daniel, who likes to keep his life ordered and free of mess, loosen up enough to let the relaxed and uninhibited Ryan deeper into his life?

Excerpt

The Start of Something New
Tamryn Eradani © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

Daniel wakes up to the first chime of his alarm, and he gets it turned off and his feet swung over the side of his bed before he realizes something isn’t quite right. The mattress is too soft to be his, and the walls are the wrong color. There’s a half glass of orange juice on the bedside table, and that’s what gets last night trickling back to him in bits and pieces.

He’s in Ryan’s apartment. Ryan-from-work’s apartment.

At least he’s not in Ryan-from-work’s bed.

Daniel eases out of the guest bed, glad that he’s not in yesterday’s work clothes, but he frowns when he sees them strewn haphazardly on the floor. He picks up his slacks and shakes them out, even though getting rid of wrinkles isn’t that easy. He’s going to have to take them to the dry cleaner.

He has his overnight bag from the car so he changes into his running clothes. Ryan’s bedroom door is closed, and Daniel doesn’t hear any signs that he’s awake, so Daniel doesn’t feel bad for going for a run. He does leave a note saying where he’s gone in case Ryan wakes up and is alarmed to find either his houseguest or his keys missing.

When Daniel comes back from his run there are still no signs that Ryan’s awake so Daniel takes him time in the shower. It’s more difficult to luxuriate in the shower than in a bath, but Daniel makes do, lathering up with the soap from his toiletry bag until he smells like sandalwood rather than sweat.

His cock, half-hard since he woke up this morning, takes interest in in the smooth slide of skin against skin as he washes his calves and then his thighs. His scene with Ryan ended last night. Daniel’s body is fully his again. If he wanted to knock out a quick one, or even take his time, he could.

He doesn’t want to, though.

Either he and Ryan will do something before Daniel leaves this morning or he’s going to go home and think about last night. In either case, it’s too early for anything.

He finishes his shower and changes into the pajamas from his overnight bag for lack of anything else better to wear. Then he goes to make breakfast.

It figures that it’s the brewing coffee that finally lures Ryan from his room.

He stumbles into the kitchen, covering a yawn with one hand and scratching his belly with the other. His hair is sleep tousled and his cheeks are pink from being under all his blankets. Daniel has a hard time reconciling this image with the man that put Daniel on his knees last night.

“Breakfast?” Ryan asks, coming over to peer over Daniel’s shoulder. “What’s wrong with the eggs?”

“I took out the yolks,” Daniel says. “Healthier for you that way.”

He moves the eggs to one unused burner to cool and Ryan takes that as his cue to wrap an arm around Daniel’s waist and pulls him in for a brief hug. Well, a hug and—

“Did you just sniff my hair?” Daniel asks.

“Did you bring your own shampoo?” Ryan counters.

“It was in my bag.” Daniel leans back into Ryan’s embrace, then adds, “If you want me to smell like you then you need to get better shampoo.”

Ryan’s arm tightens briefly across Daniel’s waist, and Daniel allows himself a brief, triumphant smile.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Tamryn studied English and Creative Writing in school but has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. Recently, she’s turned her focus towards writing erotica. She enjoys writing stories where sex comes first, then feelings, because doing things out of order can be fun.

Tamryn has spent the past few months writing the Daniel and Ryan series with a lovely view of mountains out her window, and she’s now searching for a new mountain range to serve as her backdrop as she begins her next project.

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Its Tara Lain on Inspiration and her novel, Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain (guest post)

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Fire Balls (Balls to the Wall #2) by Tara Lain
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reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Available for Purchase at

       

Plus iBooks

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 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Tara Lain here today.  Welcome, Tara.  Tell us more about Fire Balls and your series!

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Book Ideas are a Ball!

Hi everyone. I am so happy to be visiting Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words and celebrating the re-release of my book, Fire Balls. Where do the stories come from? That’s one of the questions all writers get asked a lot. I used to wonder that too. I’m a non-fiction writer by long-time profession and for years people would say I should write a book. That sounded like work!  LOL. Then I discovered LGBT romance and loved it so much I wrote my first novel, a book called Genetic Attraction, based on the genetic research of a company I knew from my day job.

What I discovered writing that first book is that creating fiction is like sex. The more you have the more you want! Once I turned on the story spigot it just kept running and everything I see and person I meet has book potential (yes, be afraid!). For example, I have lived in or near a beautiful beach town in California. It’s famous for its art festivals. Bingo. What if my hero was one of the people who poses as a nude statue in the famous Pageant of the Masters? And what if my other hero was a hunky alpha male who’s gay but in the closet. That’s was the idea for the best-selling summer romance, Volley Balls.

In Volley Balls, I created a memorable character named Rodney who was my hero’s best friend. He was an unlikely hero himself–short and flamboyant —  but he wanted his own book. That’s how I got to bring you my beach romance, Fire Balls. Actually, the title came first. People told me they loved the title Volley Balls and I was thinking of “Balls” titles. When I thought of the name Fire Balls a whole story started to form. What if my hero, Rodney, was a great artist who has a passion for a firefighter but can’t imagine that the man could ever care for him, the short and weird? So when his good friend, the handsome surfer Jerry, develops an unexpected crush on the firefighter, Rodney helps Jerry woo the guy, breaking his own heart. The story is loosely based on the famous book, Cyrano de Bergerac. Very loosely!

See, stories do come from everywhere. I have a whole series called The Pennymaker Tales that pay homage to fairy tales. The third book in the Balls to the Wall series, Beach Balls, is based on an actual environmental dispute that took place a few years ago in Newport Beach California. When a friend told me about it I thought what if two guys fell in love and then found themselves on opposite sides of that case. I also included in the story the passion for rebreather diving of one of my best friends. The story of Knight of Ocean Avenue, my most popular novel, came from me watching the construction workers renovating my house and wondering if any of them were gay. LOL. The stories are all around us – we only have to pay attention and take notes!

I hope you enjoy Fire Balls!

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Excerpt: FIRE BALLS by Tara Lain; The Artist and the Firefighter

Renowned artist Rodney Mansfield stands five foot six, has pink hair, six earrings, a black belt in karate—and a desperate yearning for firefighter Hunter Fallon. But Rod, the Runtback of Notre Dame, knows he’ll never land the beautiful “straight gay” guy, so Rod musters his altruism and helps his more masculine friend Jerry attract Hunter. As if a broken heart wasn’t enough, Rod saves Hunter from a firehouse homophobe—humiliating Hunter in front of his dad!

Hunter lives a dream life—his father’s dream. While he’d like to teach literature in college, read poetry in the sun, and find a strong guy to top him, he fights fires for his dad. Hunter hates flamboyant guys like Rodney. So why can’t he resist him? Maybe it’s time to admit this is one flame he has no desire to put out.

He leaned back on the couch. “Anyway, he’s dreamy, straight-up divine. Sweet and nice and smart. Shit, man, have you ever seen anything so beautiful?”

Too much. Rod got up and went back to the easel. At least he didn’t have to stare into Jerry’s smitten face. Crap, he wanted to be happy for the guy. He really did. “He’s beautiful, all right.”

“And guess what? He asked about you.”

No breath. “He, uh, did?”

“Yeah. Said you were so talented. See, I told you not to leave.”

“Didn’t want to be a third wheel.”

“Hey, my man, you’re my brother from another mother. What I got, you got. So I’m going on another date with him, and he loves to read and shit. Could you tell me some stuff to talk about?”

Oh dear God. “So what have you read, Jerry?”

He looked at his hands. “I, uh, read a few romance novels.”

“I think it’s okay to talk about those, but you have to know some other writers too. So think. What did you read in high school?”

“Comic books.”

“Graphic novels?”

“Yeah. Man, I love Watchmen and X-Men and Batman.”

“Comic books.” He walked over to a bookshelf he kept tucked away in the corner of the studio. When he rested on the couch, he loved to read himself to sleep. “Have you ever heard of Lord Byron?”

Jerry shook his head. “Sounds like a rock star.”

“He kind of was for his time. He was a poet.” He took out a slim volume and began to read from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage. “Roll on, thou deep and dark blue ocean—roll! Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain; man marks the earth with ruin—his control stops with the shore.” When he got to “unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown” he looked up.

Jerry’s big blue eyes shone with tears. “Hey, man, that’s awesome. Probably not a surfer, I guess. All the ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ sound kind of old. But that dude knew what a surfer feels, man. We ride on top of the—what did he call it?—deep and dark blue ocean. And we know we can sink and never be heard from again, man. Axed. It’s how we want to go if we gotta.”

He had to stop underestimating this man. Rod walked over to the couch and handed the book to Jerry. “Just be yourself. He’s got to love you.”

“Wow, thanks. But I’ll read this, man. Every word, or at least the words I understand, okay?”

He smiled. “Okay.”

“I sure do like the way you read it, though.”

Rod laughed, took back the book, and began to read.

_____________________________________________________________________________

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About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 35. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!

Website:              http://www.taralain.com

Blog: http://www.taralain.com/blog

Goodreads:        http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4541791.Tara_Lain

Twitter:               http://twitter.com/taralain

FB Page: http://www.facebook.com/taralain

Its Writing, Research and Their Latest Release ‘Letters from Cupid’ by Ari McKay (author interview)

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Letters from Cupid by Ari McKay
D
reamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer

Available for Purchase at

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host McKay of the writing duo known as Ari McKay here today to talk about their latest release Letters from Cupid.  Welcome, McKay!

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Hi, I’m the McKay half of Ari McKay! I’d like to thank Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for giving me the opportunity to be a guest blogger today. Ari and I are currently celebrating the release of our Valentine’s Day story, Letters from Cupid, from Dreamspinner Press.

I loved the questions that Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words provided, so I’m going to answer some of those!

How much of yourself goes into a character?

I think it’s safe to say there’s always a little bit of Ari and me in the characters we write. In Letters from Cupid, I wrote Macon, who is a tenured professor in creative writing. I was going to say that Macon isn’t the character who is closest to me out of all our books, but now that I’m thinking about it, he’s pretty close! We’re both academics and creative writers who are introverted, single, and over forty. There’s one scene in which I shamelessly channeled my own opinion through him, and that’s when I let Macon go on a little rant about administration bloat. I could have easily let that rant go on for a good page or more because I have Opinions. I will say his view on faculty meetings and departmental parties isn’t that far from mine either. 😉

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Not really. I think what makes a character a Mary Sue/Gary Stu is their lack of flaws. Everyone loves them, and every obstacle is easily overcome because of their intelligence/super powers/whatever. There’s no real character growth because the character is already “perfect”, and there’s no real conflict.

To me, that’s very different from using your own experiences to create a character. For example, I used a lot of my experiences in academia to create Macon, but I wouldn’t consider him a Gary Stu because he’s an imperfect character, and forcing himself to emerge from his introvert bubble in order to help Derek changes him over the course of the story.

Does research play a role into choosing which genre you write?  Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

Ari and I both enjoy doing research. We’re both history buffs, and when we write historical books, we like to make sure we’re getting the details right. So having to do research doesn’t deter us from writing in a particular genre. We enjoy world-building as well, so for us, it comes down to asking “How hard is this plot bunny gnawing on our ankles?” rather than “Do we want to tackle research/world-building?”. If we feel strongly enough about a particular story, we’ll write it, regardless of genre.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

HEA! I think Ari would agree with me when I say we have enough problems, stress, and things out of our control in our real lives that we like being able to fix things for our characters. Writing HEA romances is a form of escapism for us. We may put our characters through the angst mill, but we’ll make it up to them by the end every time.

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I know there are a lot of print purists, and I like the weight of a real book in my hand as much as the next bookworm, but I think ebooks have their advantages as well. I like that I’ve got an extensive library on my phone as well as on my bookshelves. I used to carry a book everywhere, but now I whip out my phone to read while I’m waiting at the doctor’s office.

I think, too, that the rise of ebooks has been beneficial to writers. There are now other avenues for getting published than the traditional publishing houses, and I think having those choices is beneficial for the authors and readers.

There are drawbacks as well. We’ve seen some indie publishers go under in the last year, but I’m inclined to attribute some of that to less than stellar management. Amazon has the potential to saturate the market with self-published works that haven’t known the touch of an editor’s hand.

I think overall, the ebooks market is going to thrive, and it’s not going to spell the end of the print book market because there are plenty of people – myself included – who like reading words on a page instead of a screen sometimes. I think there’s room in the world for both.

What’s next for you as an author?

Right now, we’re finishing up a revision of Fortune’s Slings and Cupid’s Arrows, which is a 2nd edition story that will be released by Dreamspinner Press in September. After that, we’ve got a to-do list lined up: the first book in a new light contemporary series, a new Herc’s Mercs book, and another book for Dreamspinner’s Dreamspun line. We’re never at a loss for something to write! Our main problem is time. Too many plot bunnies, too little time.

Thanks again to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for hosting us on our blog tour!

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About Letters from Cupid

After breaking up with his partner, English professor Dr. Derek Chandler feels like a failure who will never win at romance. His aloof colleague, Dr. Macon Pinney, disagrees and pens an anonymous note of encouragement to Derek, which he signs “Cupid.” Thus begins an exchange of correspondence, a courtship through words where the two men find out they have a great deal in common. Meanwhile, Derek reaches out to Macon, not knowing Macon is his anonymous pen pal. Derek reveals through his letters that someone close by has piqued his interest. Could he mean Macon—or has Macon missed his opportunity and lost Derek to another man?

Perhaps the time has come for Cupid to put in an appearance, and when better to do so than Valentine’s Day?

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About the Authors

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

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