1 Week Tour for At Attention by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  AT ATTENTION

Series: Out of Uniform, book 2 (but stands alone well–different couple for each book)

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Carina Press

Release Date: April 10, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 73,000

Genre: Romance, Military romance, contemporary, age difference, may/december, SEALS

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Annabeth Albert here today.  Welcome, Annabeth. Tell us more about your new release!

✒︎

Thank you so much for having me today! I’m so excited to be celebrating the release of AT ATTENTION which stars a widowed navy SEAL dad and his best-friend’s little brother who’s staying with him for the summer to help with the kids. Music is a huge part of my creative process, and I knew going into this that the playlist for these two was going to be a challenge.

Apollo is dealing with a lot of grief and the pain of moving on after losing his husband, so his songs to start with were sad and slow, while Dylan is sunnier, younger, and more upbeat. I’d go from bombastic TV show soundtracks for Apollo to fun pop for Dylan and back again, trying to find the musical profile for this book.

Sam Smith was an obvious choice, but other notable additions to the playlist were revelations—lesser known artists who became intertwined with the writing of this book.  You can find the full playlist on spotify, but I wanted to talk about a few songs and why they were so key to the book.

  • James Blunt, “When I Find Love Again.” I’d never heard of James before starting this book, but when I found this song, I knew I’d found Apollo’s path forward. It’s joyous and upbeat and everything missing from Apollo’s life at the start of the book. But by the end, this song really has become the embodiment of the book’s message about being brave enough to try again.
  • Tenth Avenue North, “Worn.” This song more than any other on the playlist really encapsulated who Apollo is at the book’s opening—he’s tired of struggling, tired of being alone, but he’s not sure he believes in a different future for himself. He’s waiting for something like Dylan in his life, even if he can’t admit it yet.
  • Angus and Julia Stone, “Stay with Me.” The thing about Sam Smith being on repeat for two months is that eventually one finds their way to Sam Smith covers. And this one is particularly gorgeous, and really spoke to the black moment for me, for both men, how much they need each other.
  • Haley Reinhart, “Can’t Help Falling In Love.” I listened to a lot of covers of this song, as it was such a perfect song for Apollo who really, really does not want to fall in love with Dylan, but does anyway, but this version of the song really spoke to me with her heartbreaking delivery.
  • Rebecca Ferguson, “Nothing’s Real but Love.”  Another artist I discovered while searching sad song playlists, her voice really spoke to Apollo’s resilience and how much he needs love back in his life.
  • Kina Grannis/Gardiner Sisters, “I was Made for Loving You.” This is one of Dylan’s songs—hopeful, and full of love, but wary.
  • Jewel, “Near Me Always.” I put a little piece of myself in every book, but in this case, I gave them a song from my past, one that always makes me relive a little heartbreak to hear because I needed to channel that sadness, and a funny thing happened—over the course of listening to my playlist, this song became much less about my own past and more about Dylan and Apollo’s future.

Thank you so much for having me! If you’re curious to learn more about Dylan and Apollo’s journey, I hope you’ll check out AT ATTENTION. And if you have a good earworm for me, I love hearing of new artists and songs!

Synopsis

Lieutenant Apollo Floros can ace tactical training missions, but being a single dad to his twin daughters is more than he can handle. He needs live-in help, and he’s lucky a friend’s younger brother needs a place to stay. He’s surprised to see Dylan all grown up with a college degree…and a college athlete’s body. Apollo’s widowed heart may still be broken, but Dylan has his blood heating up.

It’s been eight years since the teenage Dylan followed Apollo around like a lovesick puppy, and it’s time he showed Lieutenant Hard-to-Please that he’s all man now—an adult who’s fully capable of choosing responsibility over lust. He can handle Apollo’s muscular sex appeal, but Apollo the caring father? Dylan can’t afford to fall for that guy. He’s determined to hold out for someone who’s able to love him back, not someone who only sees him as a kid brother.

Apollo is shocked by the intensity of his attraction to Dylan. Maybe some no-strings summer fun will bring this former SEAL back to life. But the combination of scorching desire and warm affection is more than he’d expected, and the emotion between them scares him senseless. No fling lasts forever, and Apollo will need to decide what’s more important—his past or his future—if he wants to keep Dylan in his life.

Book Two of the Out of Uniform series

This book is approximately 73,000 words

Excerpt

**This is from the first chapter**

Hamburger. Onions. Pickles. Ketchup. Buns. Buns.

Well, hello, there. Possibly the most perfect specimen Apollo had ever seen was bent over in the bakery aisle at Sprouts, looking at a rack of organic cookies. High. Tight. Round. Attached to muscular legs poking out of board shorts, the kind of legs that suggested a serious investment in a sport or fitness. He wasn’t going to do more than look, but even when he’d been with Neal, he hadn’t been blind, and it was nice to know perfection like this guy existed in the world.

It was like swimming by a perfect coral reef on a dive or the blue of a cloudless sky right before a jump—

Wink. Fuck. The guy straightened before Apollo could look away and caught Apollo staring, and instead of blushing or serving him with the angry glare he deserved, he gave Apollo a saucy wink. It was the sort of wink that a decade ago would have had Apollo crossing the shiny linoleum and getting the guy’s number, but those days were long gone.

Instead he grabbed the closest twelve pack of hamburger buns and one of hot dog buns and headed to the next aisle. Those were the only kind of buns he had any business letting himself be distracted by. He was a father for crying out loud, not some single guy out treating the natural grocery store like his own personal pickup joint. Reflexively, he rubbed his ring with the side of his pinky, making it spin on his ring finger. Yeah. No more looking.

“Apollo! How are you?” Bridget from down the street almost ran her cart into his as he navigated the aisles. Her red-haired toddler waved at him from the basket.

Hell. He knew he should have brought at least one of the girls shopping. Then Bridget could have focused on the kids, and not his least favorite question in the universe.

“Hanging in there.” Apollo gave her a practiced a smile. “Good” would be a lie and no one wanted to hear “same as yesterday,” which was closer to the truth. But what the Bridgets of the world all wanted to hear was that Apollo was moving on—like time was the magic cure for the hole in his heart. “Having some people over for a barbecue later. Apologies if anyone parks in front of your place.”

“Oh, no worries.” Bridget patted his arm. “Having friends is so important.”

“Yeah, it is,” Apollo agreed because Bridget was a nice person, but inwardly his teeth gnashed together. He was so tired of well-meaning people telling him what was good for him when not a damn one of their suggestions would bring Neal back. “I better get on with my list.”

“You do that. And be sure and let us know if you need anything.

Apollo nodded. Two years. It had been two years of neighbors and friends stopping him like this, making kind offers, but none of them able to do the one thing he wanted more than anything.

Fuck. Snap out of it, Lieutenant. No one wants your mopey ass around on this sunny May weekend. And it was an absolutely gorgeous day, perfect for playing with the girls outside and kicking back a few beers with his friends. He wasn’t on duty and had three consecutive days off for the first time in a long time. No sense dwelling on sad shit. Time to get stuff done.

Find something else to focus on.

Like that perfect ass?

No. Absolutely not that. Like…pickles. Lots and lots of pickles.

He saw Mr. Perfect Butt again in the juice aisle, and it was damn hard to keep his resolution to stick to shopping. The guy was model cute—curly hair falling just so over his forehead, sparkling eyes, chiseled jaw, and a tight T-shirt advertising a British soccer team showing off a defined chest and tight stomach. The guy smiled at him again and looked like he might want to speak, so Apollo grabbed the juice boxes for the girls and got out of there like he’d just launched a flash bang in the guy’s direction.

At the checkout, Mr. Perfect Butt was ahead of him in the only line that seemed to be moving. Apollo very carefully did not look at his butt again and busied himself grabbing some gum and trying to give off “don’t talk to me” vibes.

But those vibes seemed to be an utter failure as the guy turned, offering another movie-star-worthy grin. “You want to go first?” His voice was husky, like every word was a secret.

“I’m good,” Apollo said.

The man nodded, shy smile teasing the edges of his mouth, making his blue eyes dance. “You know—”

“ID please.” The cashier interrupted whatever flirtation the guy had planned as his six pack of beer went across the scanner.

“Oh, yeah.” A faint red flush spread up the guy’s neck. Oh hell. He wasn’t just younger than Apollo. He was a kid. A kid who still got carded, and rightfully so with that baby face. What the hell had Apollo been thinking, admiring his body?

Apollo focused on unloading his own groceries, making neat rows for the cashier, and making sure the buns wouldn’t get squished.

Buns. Nope. Not going there. The kid hung around after paying for his groceries, mouth moving as if he were debating speaking, but Apollo kept his attention squarely on the cashier.

No more looking. Remember who—what—you are now. When he finally looked up, perfect butt guy was gone, and if Apollo felt a twinge of regret for being a bit on the rude side, he squashed it quickly. Wasn’t like he’d ever see the guy again anyway.

****

What will Apollo do when he discovers that Perfect Butt guy is his best friend’s little brother? Find out in AT ATTENTION!

Purchase

Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Sign Up for Annabeth’s Newsletter!

Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter | Goodreads

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: Mild to Wild in Massachusetts by Paul Walkingsky

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Brett has spent twenty-seven years trying to be perfect for the Mormon grandparents who raised him. Unfortunately, doing so has meant missing out on lots of life experiences—and denying a major part of who he is. Now that his grandparents are gone, Brett is ready to make up for lost time, break out of the sedate façade he’s always presented, and do something he would have never considered before: attend a gay men’s spiritual retreat in rural Massachusetts.

While trying to infuse some spice into his life with workshops like Erotic Massage, Body Painting, and Drag 101, Brett meets Boston nurse Karl, and it’s hard to deny the connection between them. But will Brett’s lack of experience and Karl’s insecurities end their romance before it can really begin?

It might be a spiritual retreat, but Brett must learn to embrace his physical reality if he’s going to grab on to his chance at love.

Mild to Wild in Massachusetts introduced me to author Paul Walkingsky.  After finishing this story, I want to know more about this author and read more of his writings.  From the little I could find, this might be his first story.  If so, its a good one.

I’m unfamiliar with growing up Mormon or life in Utah,  or gay Mormon in Utah so when I say that Brett came off as a much older person at first, I’m not sure if that’s due to his religious upbringing or his mental framework but I was surprised to find out that he was only 27  not say 47 from the manner in which he was talking about himself, his clothing, and his lack of sex life.  There was a slight disconnect at first from his character and I’m at a loss to say why.  But then all of a sudden the story snaps together when Brett comes into some money and makes a decision to go to a gay men’s retreat in Massachusetts.  For Brett, that’s like going to Oz….plane ride, exotic place…its so far out of his comfort zone..its truly the land of Dorothy.

But what pours out of this story is so much kindness and heart.  To Brett from strangers on the plane as they see his rawness and apprehension even while appreciating his humor and intelligence.  And from Brett as he widens his outlook on people and starts realizing that maybe he had been more judgmental about himself and his life than he had thought.  Then he lands in the retreat and really begins a journey of exploration.  From erotic massage to Drag Queen 101 to art therapy, we take the journey with Brett, meet all the instructors and fellow explorers and potential love interest Karl.  Its slow, lovely,  and so heartwarming that you melt as Brett finds himself opening up, expanding as a person, finding acceptance as a gay man within himself.  Ah, lightning bugs always you bring magic!

There is a romantic component to this story but its not exactly a romance, unless its getting Brett to love himself and accept who he is, something he is unable to do at the beginning of the story.

Yes, there is Karl and at the end there’s a wonderful moment there for them.  But this story ends before Brett leaves the retreat.  It marks the end of just one section of an important path but just the beginning of his long journey.  I really hope that Paul Walkingsky picks up Brett’s story and takes it forward.  I want to know what happens next.  And how about his uncle?  There are so many wonderful characters here to pull from for more future stories. I’d like this author to tell them all.

Cover Artist: Maria Fanning.  I think its cute and appropriate for the characters.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 74 pages
Expected publication: April 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635333962 (ISBN13: 9781635333961)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesStates of Love settingMassachusetts (United States)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Runaway (World of Love) by Nic Starr

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.

When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.

Runaway is a short wonderful story of personal exploration and acceptance by Nic Starr.  Dr. Nathan Powell had his high school first love and steps out of the closet crushed by a bigot.  Years later he returns home, ready to settle into a practice and reunite with his sister and her family.  But that comes with all the old feelings he still hasn’t dealt with all these years and the man he never forgot.

I thought the author brought this stunted man to life. Perhaps not stunted but halted in some way.  He pushed parts of his past below the surface the better to cope and the author lets the reader see the whole picture of what that option has done to his life and his family’s.  Several believable elements start to break up Nathan’s emotional blockades.  One is his reuniting with Damien and Damien’s fresh outlook on their past together.  The second is Nathan’s nephew.

Runaway could easily have been enlarged.  The characters are wonderful, from the main couple to the secondary ones like Nathan’s sister and children.  Sydney and its memorable stopping points also acts  as another main character here as well.  It colors the story with its  own unique vibe and energy.  It certainly made me want to pack up and head out to visit as well.

Love to read romances with a special location in mind?  Here’s one with a down under heart I absolutely recommend!

Cover art by L.C. Chase is perfect.  I love this cover.  It works for the characters and storyline.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 86 pages
Expected publication: April 12th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN 1635334101 (ISBN13: 9781635334104)
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/runaway-by-nic-starr-8358-b
SeriesWorld of Love settingNew South Wales (Australia)

A Julia Release Day Review: New Lease by B. G. Thomas

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wade Porter spent his whole life in the shadow of a lover who doled out snippets of love and time as he saw fit—and who insisted that love stay deep in the closet. But now that man is gone, and Wade finds the oceanside cottage where they spent so many weekends together in the Florida Keys cold and empty. He has come one last time, not even sure he wants to keep living.

To his surprise, the house next door is occupied by another bereaved and lonely man. Kent Walker is an artist of romantic gay paintings who is open to the future—and determinedly interested in Wade. Kent wants to show Wade the beauty in being an openly gay man and the possibilities for a real relationship.

Maybe Kent can help Wade let go of the past and discover a better way to live—and love.

After finishing New Lease by B. G. Thomas, the first thought that came to mind was “short and sweet” – but after taking some time to reflect on what I had just read, I realized that there is so much more to it. The writing is fluid and to the point with no piece of information feeling superfluous or unnecessary. The location was well-chosen and I liked how the author used the environment to incite thoughts and memories within Wade, from whose point of view the story is told. After having lost the only lover he has ever known, he is struggling to find a way back into a regulated life. The author did a good job at leading us through his head and you really get a sense of how the character feels almost stranded (emphasized by his surroundings) because of his inability to let go of the past. I was also quite surprised to hear that Wade is already fifty-one years old. His shyness and inexperience, especially when it comes to relationships, led me to expect a much younger man.

Wade forms an apt contrast to the natural and dynamic Kent, whom I took an immediate liking to. It is especially encouraging to read how comfortable and self-confident he feels with his homosexuality – something that Wade is only slowly allowing himself to do. I admired Kent for his positive outlook on life and how he deals with his own sadness. I only wished you could have learned a bit more about his past life and relationships. Through Wade’s flashbacks and explanations, you also learn quite a bit about Gene, Wade’s former lover, whom I found to be a rather intriguing character as well. It almost makes me wish the author would write a sort of prequel to this story, in which the reader gets to experience Wade’s and Gene’s relationship first-hand.

Despite its length, the story addresses a variety of complex, personal issues: losing a loved one, facing an uncertain future and coming to terms with one’s own wishes and desires. It made me think and genuinely sympathize with the characters and their situation. After all is said and done, this story left a pleasantly hopeful taste in my mouth and I quite enjoyed reading it.

The cover art by Bree Archer may seem simple at first but fits the story quite well and takes on a different layer of meaning once you’ve read it.

Sales Links

Book Details:

ebook, 46 pages

Published April 12, 2017

by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN-13 978-1-63533-428-9

Edition Language: English

The Necromancer’s Dance by S J Himes Audiobook (Narrator Joel Leslie) Tour and Giveaway

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Title: The Necromancer’s Dance
Author: S J Himes
Series: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #1
Narrated by: Joel Leslie
Length: 8 Hours 8 minutes
Release Date: 21st March 2017
Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy, MM Romance

1 Necromancer's Dance Audio Cover

BLURB

In a world where magic is real and evil walks amongst humanity, a young sorcerer is beset by enemies, both old and new.

Angelus Salvatore is the only necromancer in all of Boston, and his name is whispered warily by the undead and fellow sorcerers alike. He and his brother Isaac are the lone survivors of an attack by an army of the undead, in which Angel used a spell so powerful it forever marked his place in history. Now, years later, Angel struggles to balance his career as a teacher of the higher magical arts, his role as big brother, and a tenuous relationship with an Elder vampire from the local clan. When his brother’s boyfriend is used as a pawn in a mysterious plot to draw Angel out, Angel is once again drawn back into the old hostilities that fueled the Blood Wars and led to his family’s death.

Leaning on others for help is something Angel cannot do, and while he searches for clues as to who may be targeting him and his brother, Angel finds his heart steadily growing occupied with Simeon, Elder and vampire. Dealing with death magic and vampires on a daily basis may leave Angel jaded when it comes to life and staying that way, but the more time he spends fending off the ancient vampire’s attention and affections, the more he realizes he wants to give in.

Can Angel find out who wants him dead, and keep his heart safe in the process? How can he fall for a vampire, when his whole family was torn apart by an army of the undead? Death stalks the streets of Boston’s historic Beacon Hill…and there is no one more suited to battle against death than a necromancer.

Purchase: Audible US | Audible UK | Amazon US | Amazon UK I iTunes

Listen to an audio teaser from The Necromancer’s Dance at Soundcloud.

S J Himes and Joel Leslie will BOTH be at GRL in October 2017! Find out more information on the website.

EXCERPT

“Simeon. Care to share? Wanna tell me why I was dragged outta bed and driven across town to find my brother’s boyfriend locked in your storage room?” Angel growled at the old vamp, and Simeon’s lip twitched again.

Angel had something of a temper problem. Just a bit. And Simeon loved to poke at it, like a fool hunter nagging at a bear with a stick after a long cold winter. “And if anyone says Isaac was involved with this stupid endeavor I’m about to hear, I am gonna start handing out hexes indiscriminately.”

“Mr. Doyle,” Simeon said, tilting his head at the man cowering at the table, “decided he was going to take a job to burglarize the place of business of our Master. He was caught,” Simeon continued, a calm veneer over a well of tension. Simeon’s voice was accented faintly, and had a lilt to it that could seduce the clothes off a nun— which Angel was certain Simeon had done at some point in his long life. Simeon was one slick bastard. “He refuses to tell us who hired him. As per the arrangement you have with our master, we did not get the information from him as we usually would. That is why you are here, Sorcerer Salvatore.”

GIVEAWAY: Win The Necromancer’s Dance Audiobook

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About the Author

I’m a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I’m at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with ocasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that’s perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), and The Wolfkin Saga. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.

I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on…. I’m a nomad, and I’ve yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

Links: Website | Blog | Facebook | Facebook Fan Group | Twitter | Amazon

About the Narrator

web version joel arm

Joel Leslie is a UK transplant, growing up with American parents in a British commonwealth. A classically trained actor with an MFA in theatre from USC, he is often cast for his unique ability to deliver native, authentic combinations of American and British sounds. His great range and ability to bring characters to life with honesty, wit and versatility delights producers and listeners alike.

He is proud to have a strong following with m/m listeners and an ongoing relationship with some of the finest writers in the genre. He loves that every day he gets to share these beautiful, inspirational and empowering GLBT characters with the world. When not in the booth he spends his time chasing after two loquacious wiener dogs.

Find a list of Joel’s books on Audible

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Release Blitz: Starting From Scratch (Housemates #5) by Jay Northcote

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 


Cover: Garrett Leigh


Length: 57,000 words


The Housemates Series is a collection of standalone stories set around a student house in Britain. Each book focuses on new characters, with themes of self-discovery and sexual awakening.



Helping Hand (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Like A Lover (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Practice Makes Perfect (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Watching and Wanting (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Starting over isn’t easy, but Ben is ready to live his life as the man he was always meant to be.

Ben is transgender and back at university after hormone treatment and chest surgery. His new housemates have no idea about his history and Ben would prefer to keep it that way. He’s starting from scratch and his life is finally on track, except in the romance department. The idea of dating guys as a guy is exhilarating but terrifying, because if Ben wants a boyfriend he’ll have to disclose his secret.

Sid is drawn to Ben from the moment they meet. He normally gets what he wants—in the short term at least. Ben’s guarded at first, and Sid’s not used to guys rejecting his advances. He eventually charms his way through Ben’s defences and helps Ben on his journey of sexual awakening.

It doesn’t matter to Sid that Ben is trans. He’s attracted to the whole person, and isn’t worried about what is—or isn’t—in Ben’s pants. They’re good together, and both of them are falling hard and fast, but Ben’s insecurities keep getting in the way. If Sid can convince Ben he’s committed, will Ben finally be able to put his heart on the line?

Although this book is part of the Housemates series, it has new main characters, a satisfying happy ending, and can be read as a standalone.

Author Bio
 

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

www.jaynorthcote.com
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Release Blitz Tour and Giveaway – Moments by RJ Scott (excerpt)

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2nD5vcE

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2nDg1k2


Cover: Meredith Russell


Length: 54,000 words

An actor on possession charges, hell bent on destroying his own life meets a man who quietly works to make the world a better place.

Jacob Riley is a typical Hollywood former child star with issues. He has already done prison time and at the age of twenty-six has been arrested again.

Ethan Myers is the owner and manager of Macs, an education center providing teaching and learning to local low income families. Losing his partner to cancer leaves him lost and alone and he buries himself in his work to start to mend his broken heart.

Sparks fly when Jacob has to complete his community service at Macs. Their relationship grows against a background of disenfranchised street gang members, arson, the Oscars, and despite their prejudices.

Can Jacob Riley be saved?

Chapter One

Jacob Riley slammed the door to the small conference room and stomped to the window to stare moodily at the bright, sunshine-filled day outside. He twisted both hands tight into his hair in frustration, wondering how the fuck this day had all gone to hell. His lawyers—his fucking well-paid lawyers—had said they’d get him off, not land him with some lame-ass probation, community service crap.

Four months, in some lame ass community program. Jeez, like he was going to be taught anything by cleaning streets or dealing with people’s trash.

The TV in the corner showed some trashy entertainment show, where a smug presenter was reporting the latest news on his case, live, embellished with words that made Jacob cringe. There were even experts on there talking about the child star gone bad. Experts in what? Character assassination, apparently. He tried his hardest to tune it out but it was nigh on impossible—it must have been the tenth time the clip of the sentence being handed out had been played.

The reporter continued, “The news of B-list actor Jacob Riley’s arrest boosted the audience figures for the half season’s finale of his show, End Game, to their highest point in eight months.”

Jacob huffed a sigh, he guessed that was one piece of good news to come out of this whole mess.

Then expert one repeated what he’d said already, “He’s been offered a lifeline in a county rehab program. He showed a lot of promise, and I think this could be a good thing for him.”

Jacob briefly thought of throwing his cell phone at the TV.

“Well you may be right there; his spokesperson said he’s concentrating on work and himself. What that means, we don’t know.”

“We wish him luck.”

The anchor turned to face the camera, that smug fucking smile back again. “Well, folks, here’s hoping Jacob Riley, one of TV’s highest earning actors, proves to be a recovering addict who actually turns their life around.”

Jesus Christ, talk about dramatic.

“The show is on a filming hiatus,” Samantha, his PA, replied carefully from just inside the door. “I’ve just got off the phone with your agent and the Network will delay your return to Game until you’re free to come back. Remember, with Christmas soon the way; we have some room to move here.”

Jacob spun on his heel. His quiet, calm assistant stood holding a clipboard, a cellphone balanced on top of it.

“Of course they’ll delay my return,” he summarized. The Network would be stupid to lose him; he was convinced of it. End Game was his show. Jacob’s character was pivotal, the star of the whole goddamned series.

“There was some talk of replacing you.”

“They wouldn’t fucking dare.”

Samantha smiled at him, but it was insincere and didn’t reach her eyes. She used to smile all the time, but for some reason, she’d stopped now. Then she pulled back her shoulders. “Your agent says you’re lucky you play a drug-taking manic depressive. Otherwise he swears they would have canned you today, no hesitation.”

Was she trying to make him feel better? “Sam, do I look like I give a fuck what my shit agent says?”

“You need—”

“I don’t need him to tell me I’m lucky; it’s the Network that is lucky. They push me off the show, and they’ll see their ratings drop overnight. No one loses Jacob Riley and sees their show survive.”

Resentment bubbled up inside him.

Samantha cleared her throat. “Look, Jacob, we have four months to get you into a program and complete your work through the community service,” she continued. Her patient tone measuring every word, talking to him as if he were a small child—he hated every syllable.

“No,” Jacob snapped, balling his temper and his dismissal of her into that one word. She stepped away from him to stand against the door. “Jacob—”

“I’m not cleaning streets; I’m not searching for rubbish or any of the usual crap they put celebrities through to humiliate us.”

“It’s not meant to be a humiliation. But it is a punishment,” Sam said, raising her free hand in an attempt to placate him. Her cell phone slid off the clipboard and tumbled to the floor.

Jacob listened, but what she’d said only served to increase his temper. He could feel the itch of addiction under his skin, and it terrified him. Although he would never admit it, he was out of control, and it was eating away at him.

In over a year, he hadn’t wanted a hit as badly as he did at this moment. Frustration and anger burst out of him with uncontrolled force. He crowded her against the door. “I don’t pay you to get up in my face, Sam,” he snarled.

“You’re scaring me, Jacob,” Samantha said firmly, backing as close to the wood as she could.

“You don’t know what this is like,” he shouted.

“Jacob. Please…” There were tears in her eyes, pain and real fear in her voice. Something in the simple “please” reached through his anger. What was he doing?

“Fuck,” he said tiredly. Half closing his eyes, he took a deep breath. It was the first time in their relationship he’d seen fear in Sam’s eyes, and it scared the hell out of him. Was she afraid of him? What should he say? How the hell could he—?

“Your father is waiting for you in the next room,” Sam said, but wouldn’t look him in the eyes.

Jacob went from guilt straight back to feeling aggrieved.

“Great,” Jacob stepped back, watching as Samantha edged away from him.

“Your dad just wants to help. He knows of this place you can go for the next—”

“He’s the one who turned me in!”

“He’s waiting, and there’s something else,” she said, this time with steel in her words. “I was going to leave this until after Christmas when filming ended, but there is no point now. You’re an asshole, and I quit.” Quietly, she turned her back and left the room, and he felt a moment of shock.

“What?” she didn’t stop. “Don’t come running back begging for your fucking job!” he shouted after her.

She didn’t even look at him, but he heard her words.

“I won’t come back.”

Her loss.

Frustrated, angry, and looking for someone to blame was not how Jacob should have gone to a meeting with his father, but he didn’t have a choice. The whole freaking world was against him, and none of this was his fault.

“I’ve pulled strings, son, and arranged to get you into a new type of program, something different. It has an original approach, and it’s very exclusive.” Joe Riley stood stiff and straight in front of Jacob.

Jacob slouched, arms across his chest, unwilling to show even the slightest interest.

“Yeah,” he said when his dad remained quiet.

“I’ve made a hefty donation to get you accepted. The only stipulation was that you are clean.”

Jacob looked into his father’s gray-blue eyes then shrugged. He’d heard all too clearly the question under Joe Riley’s statement, and hated him for it. A year—a damn year.

Joe closed his eyes and sighed. “Isn’t there something dramatic you feel you have to say at this point, Jacob?”

“If I thought you would actually listen to me—just once—maybe I would have something to say,” Jacob said.

“Are you?”

“Am I what?”

“Jacob, are you clean?” Joe asked.

“Fuck you, Dad,” Jacob snapped, “I’ve been clean for a year, and you damn well know it.”

His dad crossed his arms and shook his head. “No, I don’t know that. I know what you told your mother and me, and then I find you mixing with the same lowlifes you knew six years ago. What was I supposed to think? What was I supposed to do? Tell me, son?”

“Call the cops on me, obviously.” Jacob clenched his hands into tight fists at his sides.

“Do you think it was easy for me to do this, Jacob? Call the police on my son?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I do.” He’d long ago convinced himself that his dad had perversely enjoyed turning him in, and he chose to ignore the pained expression that crossed his dad’s face. “It kinda solves all those issues around having to maybe—I don’t know—talk to me instead?”

“You don’t listen.”

“No, Dad, you’re the one who doesn’t listen.”

Joe inhaled sharply as if he had been physically hit, and Jacob wondered how his dad was going to defend his parenting skills this time. “Think about your mother in this. What if you died? Can you picture her visiting a morgue, identifying your body, and seeing track marks on your arms? She cried so much over you last time and refused to let me get involved. But this time, hell Jacob we had to do something, had to stop you from self-destructing.”

Jacob tugged self-consciously at his sleeves, anger building inside him. He had been clean for well over a year. Why didn’t anyone trust him? He felt vulnerable for a moment, like a small child, and then he pushed that weakness to one side, resumed the role of aggrieved man he was playing today, and rolled his eyes.

“Now who’s being dramatic?” he spat. “I had the stuff in my car for a friend, didn’t mean I was using.”

“You know how it looks, and the police agreed.”

“You could have tried asking me why I had it on me.”

“And you wouldn’t have lied to us?” Joe asked simply, his voice calm. Jacob didn’t answer. He wasn’t going to rise to the bait. “This is your last chance. Take it. You could make something of yourself if you tried.”

Jacob inhaled sharply.

“So what the hell do you call two movies and a successful TV series? Nothing?” His parents had never liked that he had decided to pursue acting. They’d always made it very clear that they expected him to join the family construction firm. He’d endured several wearying years of forcing and badgering, but always knew what he wanted to do. He didn’t want to build skyscrapers and shopping malls; he wanted to act.

“It isn’t even about what you do anymore. You’re killing yourself. And I swear, Jacob, if you ruin this last chance, I will hold back every penny of your inheritance.”

“Not that shit again.”

“I mean it—”

“I make three million a movie, and ninety thousand for every episode of End Game. Seriously—you really think your money matters to me?”

“I swear every penny will go to your brother,” Joe continued, but Jacob had heard that threat before too, and it had the same impact as always—no impact at all.

“That loser?”

“Tell me, why is Micah the loser? He has a career, a wife, a great kid—your nephew. He has a life.”

“I’ve got a freaking career, Dad, and let’s face it—kids? That isn’t going to happen. I’m gay!” Frustrated, Jacob pushed his fingers through his hair and closed his eyes.

“I’m not arguing. This isn’t about some petty brotherly feud, or who is happy and who isn’t. You had every advantage—everything money could buy, every ounce of love your mother and I had in us. Son, please. This is your life, and your mom and I are desperate for you to see that! But you don’t seem to give a damn about it.”

“Well, maybe I don’t.”

“For God’s sake, stop being so damn melodramatic. As far as I’m concerned, we’re done talking. Go home and get some clothing together. Benjamin is outside. He’ll take you home, and then he’ll drive you down tomorrow.”

“And if I say no?”

“You can’t. I’ve pulled strings, but at the end of the day, it’s either this or you’re back in prison. This program is the only reason you’re not back there now.”

Shit.

 

 

 

Author Bio

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.



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