BLOG POST Two-Man Advantage by Leigh Carman (exclusive excerpt)

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Two-Man Advantage (Players of LA #3) by Leigh Carman
Dreamspinner Press

Available for Purchase at

Amazon

iBooks

Kobo

B&N-

Dreamspinner

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to  host Leigh Carman today on her Two-Man Advantage tour.  She’s brought along an exclusive excerpt for everyone to enjoy!

 

Blurb

A hockey star skating on the edge of a catastrophe.

A PR specialist so adept, he’s called “the Fixer.”

Working together will be the biggest challenge of both their careers.

The LA Vikings hockey team is fed up the violent outbursts of its huge, intimidating enforcer, Viktor Novak. Hounded by a homophobic and domineering father, Viktor takes out his frustrations by spilling blood—on and off the ice. Now he has one last chance to clean up his image, or his career is over.

That’s where Bowen Miller comes in.

Bo has taken on the hardest cases and succeeded—by micromanaging every aspect of a client’s life—at the expense of his own happiness. But in the stubborn, hot mess that is Viktor, Bo might have met his match—both in and out of the bedroom. One man is out of control, and one controls everything. But when sex and attraction come into play, those roles are open to negotiation.

Exclusive Excerpt

Vik and Bo’s first encounter

Bo

When Vik doesn’t move, I take a closer look. I know what I’m seeing; I just don’t believe it. No fucking way. His lightly stubbled face is flushed, nostrils flaring wide. His light blue irises are nearly gone, eclipsed by enormous dark pupils. Vik’s full red lips are slick, and I can see the restraint in his clenched jaw, his twitching muscles, all of them jumping as he fights his primal urges.

He wants me. Viktor Novak wants me.

“That picture in your office,” Vik says, his voice a low, seductive rumble that vibrates straight to my cock. “The one of the football player, Van Archer.”

Wait, what?

Now I’m the one who tenses up, once again ready for a fight with the exhausting Viktor Novak. Maybe what I’m reading as desire on Vik’s face is actually hostility. Maybe I’m only seeing what I want to see when in reality, there’s nothing there.

“What about it?”

“He’s gay.”

“He is,” I answer, bracing myself for an almighty argument.

Vik nods. He begins to say something, and then his mouth snaps shut as he hesitates. More curious than cautious, Vik presses on. “Are you?”

“Does it matter?” I snap, every one of my defenses at the ready. It’s no secret I’m gay. I don’t hide my sexuality, but I don’t announce it when I meet people either. If Vik wants to come at me, he’s going to get a knockdown, drag-out fight.

Vik shifts closer, splaying an immense hand on the stone countertop on either side of my waist. Intimidated by his sheer size and proximity, the fight drains out of me, and I lean back, the unforgiving granite pressing painfully into the base of my spine, making me acutely aware that this man has the ability to hurt me quite seriously any time he chooses. The fact that he could so easily dominate me physically unexpectedly turns me on so much my dick is suddenly harder than the granite surface I’m trapped against.

What the hell? I dominate, I don’t submit. So why am I rock hard and leaking like a faucet at the thought of Vik overpowering me?

“It matters to me,” Vik murmurs, his gaze dropping to my mouth before returning to my eyes.

The way Vik answers allows me to exhale, letting go of some of my fear. My initial assumption was correct. The man before me isn’t angry, he’s… hopeful.

I inhale a shaky breath and swallow. “Yes. I’m gay.”

For the briefest of seconds, Vik’s gaze widens, and a spark of desire flashes in his bright blue eyes. Then so many things happen at once, I have no time to process it all. Vik’s heavy lids drop to half-mast and he closes the remaining space between us, pressing the hot, hard length of his body against mine. Two strong, masculine hands grip either side of my head, fingers long enough to curl around the base of my skull, and Viktor Novak, star hockey player and noted brawler, lowers his face to mine and kisses me.

Sensory overload hits, and I’m frozen in place. Hot skin covered in tattoos, the faint taste of mint toothpaste, the warm scent of Viktor, the feel of his rough hands on my clean-shaven face—all of it combines to render me completely useless as his lips move over mine. It’s only when Viktor boldly thrusts his stiff cock against my groin, grinding it against my own rigid length as he simultaneously swipes his tongue across my mouth, that I wake up and get with the program.

Vik slides that wet tongue over my lips again, more insistent this time, and I can’t help but groan, opening my mouth as heat builds at the base of my spine. Vik takes advantage of my parted lips, immediately plunging his velvet tongue deep into my mouth. I release the countertop and wrap my hands around his backside, grabbing two big handfuls of those spectacular, rock-hard glutes, and tug him closer, smashing our erections together.

“Oh fuck,” Vik breathes against my lips. Those two little words nearly have me coming in my pants. I’ve never been so out of control in my life. The threads of reality unravel around me, spinning away as raw instinct takes over my conscious behavior. No twink hookup has ever incited this type of reaction from me. I’m wanton, willing, and completely uninhibited. Out of control. It’s frightening yet… freeing.

Viktor’s hands leave my skin, and I whimper from the loss of contact, leaning forward to chase that delicious mouth. When Vik’s thick fingers begin pawing desperately at my clothes, shoving the custom-fitted jacket down my arms to land on the floor then moving to unbutton my shirt, I realize his intentions. In a flash, I begin to eagerly assist Vik in shedding my clothes, yanking my silk tie loose and sliding it off my neck.

Halfway through undoing my dress shirt, Vik growls and loses patience with the dozen tiny pearl buttons. With one swift tug, he tears open the front of my shirt, buttons pinging off the kitchen cabinets and skittering across the hardwood floors. My cuffs are still fastened by a pair of platinum cuff links, so now my shirt is inside out, hanging from my wrists, and I can’t get my hands free. Vik either doesn’t notice or could care less. In the blink of an eye, he has my slacks unzipped, shoves his hand in, and takes my aching cock in his scorching hot palm.

“Jesus, Vik,” I rasp, my chest heaving. The touch of his hand on my dick is blistering hot and so fucking good, but much too brief. Vik lets go of my cock, and I panic. “What? Why are you—?”

My question dies in a strangled moan as I watch Vik shove down his own sweats and underwear, not even bothering to pull them all the way off. Instead he hooks them under his huge, tight sac, lines up our cocks, and wraps a calloused hand around both of our rigid lengths. Vik squeezes them together and my eyes roll back in my head. I struggle to free my arms, desperate to touch this man and his gorgeous, thick cock. Vik lets out a low growl when I fight the fabric binding my hands. His eyes flash, and quick as a whip, he reaches behind me, grabs the remains of my shirt, and twists it around his free hand until my wrists are tightly bound at the base of my spine, trapped by a pair of cuff links.

I want to struggle, to shout and kick until I can get my hands free. To demand my freedom so I can take charge of the encounter. But Vik ignores any effort I make to unbind my hands. He gives me a dark, lust-filled look and waits until I stop fighting and calm down. Once I’m still, Vik keeps his eyes locked on mine and spits obscenely into his palm before lowering it to stroke our cocks in tandem. At that moment, any fight left in me dies, superseded by the unbelievable pleasure of Viktor’s talented hand and the feel of his sculpted body against mine. It’s uncomfortable to give in to someone, to willingly let Vik overpower me, and part of me is still freaking out. My sexual partners are always smaller than me for a reason. I just can’t let go of that damn need to control everything and everyone. It’s my experience that when you have no power, you get hurt.

“Let it go,” Vik whispers as if reading my mind, all the while continuing to stare into my eyes as his hand speeds up between us. The friction of Vik’s slick, rough palm, the sensation of his smooth cock rubbing against mine, is sublime. But with the nagging need to free my hands still plaguing me, I can’t enjoy his talented touch to the fullest.

“I see your brain working to figure out how to take charge,” Vik says. He gives me a dark look, those sensual lips curling into a wicked smirk. “You can’t take control here, Bowen. I won’t let you. You can’t get away either. I have you at my mercy.” He leans in to growl in my ear. “I can do anything I want to you.” Vik’s husky, dominating voice reverberates through my body, making my cock impossibly harder. “Let go and enjoy the ride, Bowen, because I plan on blowing your goddamn mind.”

To find out what happens next, check out Two-Man Advantage

About the Author

Leigh Carman is the pen name for the M/M romances written by bestselling Contemporary romance writer, Heather C. Leigh.

She lived outside Atlanta for 15 years and recently moved to Houston with her husband, 2 kids, and French bulldog.

She is leaving explicit directions in her will for her friends to discreetly scatter her ashes around Fenway Park. Then they are to sit back, watch a game with a beer and a Fenway frank and have a wicked good time.

Twitter- @heatherleighauthor

Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/LeighCarmanAuthor/

Website – http://heathercleighauthor.com/leigh-carman-novels/

An Ali Audiobook Review: A Second Harvest (Men of Lancaster County #1) by Eli Easton and narrator Will Tulin

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
David Fisher has lived by the rules all his life. Born to a Mennonite family, he obeyed his father and took over the family farm, married, and had two children. Now with both his kids in college and his wife deceased, he runs his farm alone and without joy, counting off the days of a life half-lived.

Christie Landon, graphic designer, Manhattanite, and fierce gay party boy, needs a change. Now thirty, he figures it’s time to grow up and think about his future. When his best friend overdoses, Christie resolves to take a break from the city. He heads to a small house in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, to rest, recoup, and reflect.

But life in the country is boring despite glimpses of the hunky silver fox next door. When Christie’s creativity latches on to cooking, he decides to approach his widower neighbor with a plan to share meals and grocery expenses. David agrees, and soon the odd couple finds they really enjoy spending time together.

Christie challenges the boundaries of David’s closed world and brings out feelings he buried long ago. If he can break free of the past, he might find a second chance at happiness.
This was a really lovely stories about second chances and the fact that you’re never too old to reinvent yourself.  These two men, who on the surface had nothing in common, actually found they had a lot of the same hopes and dreams.  What starts as a friendship turns in to a really sweet romance.  I really liked both of their characters and I found their romance to be realistic and believable. I loved watching the two of them fall in love.
While I liked Christie a lot, David is who stole the story for me.  I could totally relate to him as I grew up in a similar environment and I know first hand how stifling and oppressing it can be.  The scenes of him with his National Geographic magazines, always dreaming of other things, made my heart hurt for him.  I was so happy for him when he made up his mind to break free and make huge changes in his life.
The writing was engaging and drew me in from the very first chapter.  As I’ve said, really enjoyed both of the MC’s and I found their romance to be super sweet and touching. I didn’t have any complaints about the book and I went through the entire audio in one day as I cleaned and did yard work.
The book was narrated by Will Tulin and I liked him a lot.  He is a new to me narrator but one I will definitely listen to again.  He get a great job on both of the MC’s as well as all of the side characters.  I think his narration really added to the overall story and I would recommend this.
Cover by Bree Archer:  The cover was done by Bree Archer and I like it a lot.  I think it is eye catching and really beautiful.  It is also a great representation of the story.
Audiobook Details:
Listening Time: 7 hrs 40 min
Audiobook
Published June 7th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press LLC (first published July 1st 2016)
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesMen of Lancaster County #1

A Kai Review: Misdemeanor (Responsible Adult #1) by C.F. White

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

 

After his mother tragically dies and his deadbeat father goes off the rails, nineteen-year-old Micky is left to care for his disabled little brother, Flynn.
Juggling college, a dead-end job and Flynn’s special needs means Micky has to put his bad-boy past behind him and be the responsible adult to keep his brother out of care. He doesn’t have time for anything else in his life.
Until he meets Dan…

This story took me by surprise. I didn’t think I would like it as much as I did. So I’m so glad I read it and I can’t wait for book two.

The story was well written and involved me at the beginning to the end. It was really angsty, anyone who knows me know I avoid much angst like a plague, but I couldn’t be bothered this time since the story brought important and hard subjects. And although the dark part of this book, it moved me and made me smile sometimes.

The characters were great. Flynn was my favorite! With Willian’s Syndrome and eight years old, he was just so cute and sweet. I wanted to hug tight and protect him. I was so glad Micky was there for his little brother and it was one of the things that I loved about him. He was a good character. And even though he pissed me off a little, when he pushed Dan away, he felt human and real.

Dan was just an amazing guy. He was supportive and kind. I really loved him. And he and Micky together was so great for each other. I also loved the interaction between Flynn and Dan. But Well, Flynn interaction with anyone was just lovely.

The three of them, Dan, Micky, and Flynn, was really good as a family and I was cheering so much for them.

The story also brings great support characters. Like Jason, Micky’s best friend and Doug, Micky’s co-worker. I absolutely want to see more about them in book two.

The only thing I didn’t like was the end. It was because the story ends with a kind of cliffhanger. Be warned! I felt like the author could have finished the story in one book or at least without that cliff. I really didn’t like that.

The cover art by Posh Gosh is ok. Not great, but seems to fit the story somehow if you think the boy on the cover is our Micky.

Sales Links:  Pride Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 1st edition, 226 pages
Published June 6th 2017 by Pride Publishing
ISBN13 9781786515667
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Black Magic Glitterbomb by Sage C. Holloway

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

 

Benji Seung is not one of the good guys. He commands dark magic; he looks out for himself before all else; he kills rival mages and steals their coffee makers. Life is good–or at least as good as it’s going to get for a guy whose soul grows more tainted with every passing day.

 

Everything changes when he accidentally rescues Kit, a wide-eyed young man down on his luck and living on the streets. With serious reservations but no better options than to leave Kit at the mercy of the elements, Benji takes him in and then can only watch as ominous events around them gain traction.

 

With an unknown adversary gunning for him, and Kit in the line of fire, the last thing Benji should be thinking about is romance, but he finds it impossible to resist the carefree troublemaker. Together, these two fight for their lives against black magic, diabolical schemes, and evil cupcakes.

 

This was a good story.  Benji is just a mess of contradictions, he practices black magic but refuses to do blood magic which is the worst of all and from the beginning he will do anything to protect Kit from other magic users.  Kit is quite innocent and accepting but will stand his ground on what he wants.

 

We see this story from Benji’s point of view, so we can see how he struggles to accept help let alone allow Kit a place in his life.  He was hurt when his ex, the man who got him into magic, left him with no word.  We see as his walls begin to breakdown and accept Kit into his world but he is lucky that Kit is so open and accepting because he still isn’t quite sure what to do about it.  For the “seriousness” of the threat against Benji (and now Kit) this story was quite light hearted, which was just the kind of thing I was looking for when I read this.

 

Cover art by Natasha Snow is beautiful and gives a great picture of Benji.

 

Sales Links: Loose Id | Amazon | B&N

 

Book Details:

ebook, 91 pages

Published: May 29, 2017 by Loose Id

ISBN: 9781682523438

Edition Language: English

In Our Romance Spotlight: Love and Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft (giveaway)

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Love and Other Hot Beverages by Laurie Loft
Riptide Publishing

Cover art by L.C. Chase
Available for Purchase at Riptide Publishing

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Laurie Loft here today on her Love and Other Hot Beverages tour.  Welcome, Laurie!

✒︎

 

I’m Laurie Loft, author of Love and Other Hot Beverages. Welcome to my blog tour, and thanks for being here! I’m excited to give out super cool prizes to two people who make thoughtful comments to any of my blog posts: one French press (an item which features prominently in my novel), and a $15.00 Starbucks gift card. Either way, you’ll enjoy plenty of hot beverages!

There’ll be seven posts in which I’ll discuss my book as well as unrelated items. Comment, and we can get to know each other a little better.

About Love and Other Hot Beverages

After a rough breakup, Todd Addison wants time alone to grieve. While still dreaming of winning back his ex’s love, he moves across the country and finds work with a construction company. The last thing he needs is the cute office boy developing a crush on him, especially since he’s back in the closet.

Sebastián Nye can’t help feeling sorry for the obviously brokenhearted Todd. Though rebuffed repeatedly, Sebby chisels away at Todd’s resistance, determined to help him forget—a task potentially beyond anyone’s capabilities. He never meant to fall for the poor guy, but he does. Hard.

Desperate to hold on to Todd, Sebby hatches a sneaky plot guaranteed to end Todd’s heartbreak—if Todd doesn’t bail and ruin everything. Just when things can’t get more complicated, Todd’s ex wants him back. And Sebby’s abusive ex is just waiting to catch Sebby alone. Todd and Sebby must decide what’s worth fighting for, what’s worth sacrifice, and what’s worth compromise, or their relationship will begin and end with a broken heart.

Love and Other Hot Beverages is now available from Riptide Publishing.

About Laurie Loft

Laurie Loft lives in Iowa, endeavoring to write stories to give you that rush. Her husband, cat, and dogs kindly tolerate this odd activity. Her first M/M novel came about because of a minor character in a straight romance who just took over and demanded his own book. Laurie enjoys NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and other forms of writerly torture. She finds inspiration in her NaNo friends and her fellow Riptide authors. When not writing or working at her mysterious day job, she can often be found screaming at tangled cross stitch threads.

Connect with Laurie:

Website

Blog

Twitter: @Laurie_Loft

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Love and Other Hot Beverages, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Starbucks gift card and a French press from Laurie! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 8, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Release Blitz for Meg Harding’s Finding Home (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 68,000 words
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Jaden Matthews has never known his father or his father’s family, but he’s about to get a crash course on having siblings. With the recent passing of his grandmother, he’s discovered he has three half-brothers and part ownership of a gym. In Serenity, Florida. His life in New York has hit a rocky road, so maybe this is the vacation he needs to get things back on track.

Chase Michaels lost his future in a car crash almost ten years ago, and he’s made a new one for himself in Serenity. One that doesn’t include getting emotionally involved with people who are just passing through. But Jaden makes his common sense flee and his gut react. He’s got one month with the man who made him believe in taking a chance.

Excerpt

“Is everything all right?” asked a warm, very male voice from behind him. It sent a shiver racing down Jaden’s spine. Huh. That was weird.

He turned.

Standing on the shoulder of the road was a Calvin Klein model. He was taller than Jaden, probably some insanely genetically gifted six foot something, and his legs…. Jaden’s mouth might have watered a little. They were really long and very shapely. His jeans were molded to his thighs. His big, muscular thighs. Jaden swallowed heavily. His plain white shirt clung to an equally wonderful chest, outlining defined pecs and hinting at the type of abdomen Jaden watched porn to see normally. He was tan, with a chiseled jaw and high cheekbones, big, luscious pink lips. His eyes were hidden by his sunglasses, Ray Bans, and his hair was a silky ear length fall of chestnut.

Jaden had to wonder if he’d passed out in his car from the heat and this was all a fantastic hallucination. If the guy took his shirt off, that’d answer the question. 

Maybe he should cut back on the porn….

“You okay?”

He blinked. The guy’s shirt was still on. So this god was actually here to be his knight in shining armor. Wow. Too bad he was about to make himself look like a giant dumbass. “My car is out of gas,” he said. “And I don’t know where I am.”

The man smiled. He had dimples. Two of them. One in each cheek.

Jaden’s knees felt weak. Man, the heat was really getting to him. He leaned against his car for stability. Sweat was trickling down his neck, under his collar, and over his spine. When he licked his lips, Jaden tasted salt. So he was lost and grossly sweaty on the side of the road. Definitely the picture one wanted to present to the hottest man he’d ever seen in person.

“You’re on State Road 22, about ten miles outside of Serenity.”

Jaden’s jaw dropped. “You’re kidding me, right? Ten miles? All this car needed to make it was ten more miles?” If he had a junk car like Mr. Hottie, he’d kick it in frustration, but he drove an Audi so he settled for stomping his foot. Unreal. He was so close to his destination.

“I’m gonna go out on a limb and say you’re headed to Serenity, then?” asked the man, and he may have been beyond sexy, but the smirk on his face was starting to irritate Jaden. Jaden’s frustration wasn’t amusing, damnit.

“I am,” he said.

This got him a thorough head to toe evaluation from his potential rescuer. He straightened, trying to make his shoulders look broader. He ran a hand through his hair, trying to fix the sweat dampened mess. He felt like he had to be coming up wanting in this man’s judgment. In his ear, the operator asked, “Can I let you go now, or would you like me to keep wasting my time?”

He hung up on her. If he ended up dead, his ghost could haunt her.

“I can give you and your small horse there a lift to the gas station and back,” he offered, holding out his hand to Magneto, who cautiously walked toward him, black and white ears slicked to his skull and nose twitching. He’d never been a fan of strangers. It’d taken him weeks to get used to Drew, simply because Jaden had been the one to pick him up as a puppy from the shelter. Originally, Magneto was an intended birthday gift for Drew. Jaden’s plan backfired, but he couldn’t say he was sorry about it. As Jaden watched, Magneto tentatively sniffed the proffered hand and then his large tongue flicked out and left slobber in its wake. The man smiled and laughed, crouching to put himself face to face with Magneto. The next kiss landed on his cheek.

Jaden guessed that answered the question of if he could trust this guy. Obviously his dog did, and that probably meant something. “I’d appreciate it. Thank you,” he said. He shifted awkwardly. Should he offer to pay him for the assistance? Maye once they were at the station. Caution urged him to wait to reveal his wallet.

Just on the off chance Magneto was displaying poor judgment.

“You’re welcome.” He directed his blinding smile at Jaden, scratching behind Magneto’s big, floppy ears all the while. “I’m Chase Michaels. What’s this guy’s name?”

“Magneto.” Chase Michaels…. Why did the name sound vaguely familiar? Jaden couldn’t place it. He shook his head. It was probably nothing. “Like the X-Man.” He tacked the line on automatically now, to beat the other person to the inevitable question. Magneto trotted over at his name, abandoning Chase’s attention for Jaden. He rewarded him with an under the chin scratch. “And I’m Jaden. Matthews.”

Chase wiped his slobber coated hands down his jeans as he stood. Jaden winced. “Nice to meet you. Want to get going or do you need to get anything from the car first?”

“Let me grab his leash.” While he picked the leash up, he slipped his wallet into his pocket. He remembered at the last second to take his keys. Locking himself out would be the cherry on top of his day. He didn’t like cherries.

The first thing Magneto did when he jumped in the backseat of Chase’s car was drool all over the far window. Jaden stared at the smears in dismay. “I’m sorry,” he said, trying to head off any unpleasant attitude. “I’ll pay for you to get your car cleaned.” Drew had refused to allow Magneto in his car, and he’d always thrown hissy fits when Magneto smudged all the house windows trying to watch the squirrels outside play.

Jaden was a master window cleaner now. Maybe if he couldn’t get another accounting job, he’d switch to that. He could run his own company and do the the books for it.

But Chase laughed, not looking at all disgusted by the mess it had taken Magneto all of two seconds to create. “It’s fine,” he said. “I’ll roll them down for him.”

His car smelled like apples, and a discreet glance around found the culprit to be a smoothie sitting in the middle cup holder. It was a not so appetizing oatmeal color. He expected country music to come over the speakers, so he was pleasantly surprised to hear something else. Indie rock maybe? He’d never heard this song before, but the beat was good and the singer had a clear voice.

Should he make small talk and ask who this was?

“What brings you to Serenity?”

Author Bio

Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF, and recently completed a masters program for Publishing in the UK. For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything. She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next. She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

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Giveaway

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Release Blitz for Force of Nature (Coming About #4) by J.K. Hogan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Force of Nature

Series: Coming About, #4

Author: J.K. Hogan

Publisher:  Euphoria Press (self)

Release Date: 7/4/17

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, adventure

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Everyone knows that bonds formed under extreme circumstances never last.

Harbor Patrol officer Neal Hesse has had his life turned upside down by a sudden break-up with his partner of ten years. After sleeping his way through Seattle failed to take his mind off his broken heart, he decides to take a leave of absence from work to find himself again. He hires a professional wilderness guide to take him up into the mountains, so he can get away from everything and live off the grid for a few days.

Travis “Rock” McCreary, ex-Army Ranger turned survivalist, hates doing guided excursions, but it’s his primary source of income while he’s working towards getting his own survival show. Working in such a testosterone-fueled profession has forced him so deep into the closet, he feels like he might never see the light of day again, which makes it even harder to put on a friendly face for his happy, normal clients.

When Rock is hired by clumsy city-boy Neal to take him up into the North Cascades for a survival adventure, his patience and his resolve are tested at every turn. He has to teach Neal to survive in the wilderness while fighting an attraction he can’t allow himself to act on. When their trip doesn’t go as planned, Neal’s getaway turns into a true survival situation, and he and Rock are forced to rely on each other to stay alive. If they make it out of the wilderness, can their newfound connection survive in the real world?

Excerpt

Neal didn’t see how this was supposed to help take his mind off his ex because, as they trudged up the trail mostly in silence, he had nothing but time to think. Time to think about how he’d fallen for and spent years with a wolf in sheep’s clothing. He thought he’d been settled, that Tony was The One, that they had been on their way to growing old together. How wrong he’d been.

When the party reached an overlook at the highest point on the trail, they stopped for a panoramic view of the waterfall. Even Neal had to admit, with the sun streaming into the gorge and casting rainbows from the mist, it was a beautiful sight. It was still hard to drag himself out of his head, though. He knew his friends meant well, and they were right, of course. He needed to get up, get out, get back on the proverbial horse of life. But he didn’t wanna. He wanted to be at home on the couch moping, damn it.

He wished for that even harder when he saw the so-called trail that descended from the overlook to the foot of the falls where hikers could walk around or swim on warm-enough days. This trail was also steps, but natural ones of smooth, flat rock. It was narrow. Very narrow, and the lower part had a thin coat of slime from the water spray and mud. So it was fucking slippery.

When he’d almost made it to the flat riverbed, Neal lost his footing on a slick rock. He barely avoided taking a tumble—probably would’ve cracked his skull open—but he gained his balance again at the last moment. He breathed a sigh of relief when he stepped off that part of the trail. The falls dumped into a wide open part of the gorge, forming a broad pool that was bordered by a large, semicircular bank of river rock. There, day-hikers and tourists spread out on the rocks, picnicking, sunning themselves, or generally just taking in the scenery. Neal’s friends spread out to do their own thing.

Addison stalked off to the tree line with her cell phone, probably trying to get a signal so she could call her girlfriend. Bennett led Rory around the edge of the pond so they could get close to the actual waterfall. He was wearing a chest harness that held his Go-Pro, the action camera he usually kept on his boat. Rich and Paddy sat down on some large rocks and got out their trail snacks. And Nic Valentine, the crazy fucker, was wading in the frigid pool while Justice looked on, shaking his damn head.

Neal shivered just thinking about it. It was the tail-end of summer, so it was still quite warm, but these high lakes and rivers were always brisk, even on the hottest days. He’d been trained to withstand cold water temperatures for marine rescues, but that didn’t mean he had to like it, and he certainly didn’t do it for fun. Turning away from the splashing idiot, Neal looked around at all of the tourists and vacationers. Everyone had phones out, taking pictures, and he was sure they were tweeting and Instagramming like mad whenever they could find a bar or two.

He shook his head, then smirked and took his own phone out. “When in Rome,” he muttered. First, he snapped a picture with the reverse camera of himself with the waterfall in the background. Then he flipped the view so he could get a shot of the gorge. His frame wasn’t wide enough, so he took a few steps back, mindful of the rocks that became more slippery the closer he got to the falls.

His foot slipped and plopped down into water still cold enough to make him gasp, and right at the same time, he backed into something hard. Solid. Something alive. Neal winced when he heard an outraged cry and a splash behind him. Oh, fuck. Had he just…knocked someone into the water? He knew he needed to make sure they weren’t hurt or anything, but damn, he was afraid to turn around…because that had not felt like a small person.

Cautiously, he turned around and looked down, where he saw a man flailing around in the shallows of the pool. Once he got control of his feet, the man sprang up in the perfect kip-up. Neal cringed when he saw that his clothes and trail pack were completely soaking wet. And when he looked at the man’s face, he froze. His brain registered three things almost simultaneously: he looked vaguely familiar, he was very attractive, and he was really fucking mad.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” the stranger shouted.

He stepped forward so aggressively that Neal backed up, and his right hand went instinctively to his hip, where he would’ve put his hand on the stock of his service weapon—only there was nothing there because he was off duty.

Not wanting to seem like an equal aggressor, he covered the move by sticking his hand in his pocket, hoping to appear non-threatening. This guy was about his age and shorter by a few inches, but he was ripped. He looked rugged and whipcord strong and looked ready to kick some ass in a heartbeat. Neal might’ve been able to take him—he had him on height and weight, but the guy looked like he might be stronger…and a lot meaner. Neal really didn’t want to fight. That was a helluva lot of paperwork.

He held his arms out in front of him, both as a gesture of peace and to stave off an attack if that were to happen. “Man, I am so sorry. I didn’t realize anyone was behind me.”

“Clearly,” he growled, shrugging out of his pack. He unzipped it and started digging through it.

“Again, really sorry. If anything in your pack got damaged, I’ll reimburse you.”

He scowled at me. “This is a waterfall hike. I’m not an idiot. Anything of value is inside a dry bag.”

Neal bristled because the guy was basically calling him and everyone with him an idiot because they hadn’t brought dry bags. They’d just figured they could avoid, you know, falling in the water. Probably should’ve planned better, because if Neal hadn’t knocked into this guy, it would’ve been him in the water. But Neal had been the one to cause the fall, so he tried not to let his attitude get to him. “If you need a towel, I think one of my friends might’ve brought one.”

He sat down on a large, flat rock and pulled off his hiking shoes, probably to let them dry a little in the sun. His socks looked dry, so Neal assumed his footwear was waterproof. That also would’ve been a good idea, since Neal’s right sneaker was soggy as hell from stepping in the water.

The guy shook his head and didn’t make eye contact. “I’ve got more hiking to do. I’ll air-dry. Just try not to drown anyone, will ya?”

Neal’s eyes narrowed, and he fought a valiant battle not to tell the guy to fuck off. Instead, he fell back on his usual façade of charm and reached out a hand. “I’m Neal. Wish it had been under better circumstances, but it’s nice to meet you.”

His mega-watt smile, the one that had gotten him laid all the time when he was with Tony and before, bounced off this angry stranger like he had some kind of nice-guy force field. He glared at the proffered hand until Neal got the hint and put it back in his pocket. Just when he was about to say ‘fuck it’ and walk away, the guy mumbled, “Travis.”

“Pardon?” Neal asked, raising his eyebrows.

“Name’s Travis.”

“Well…Travis. It’s been a pleasure. I’ll get out of your hair.” About maxed out on politeness, Neal turned on his heel and started walking, stumbling slightly on the wet stones.

“Hey, Neal?”

He turned and looked at Travis. “Yeah?”

“You should stick to walking in the park or going to the gym. You don’t belong out here.”

Rage burned in Neal’s gut. He’d apologized profusely, and this guy just wouldn’t let it go. Where the hell did he get off? “The fuck did you say to me? I’ll have you know, I’m a police officer.”

Bennett had obviously picked up on the tone because Neal sensed his partner and Paddy creeping up on his flanks.

Travis’s eyes flicked back and forth between the three men, then he shook his head with a scoffing sound. “I’m just trying to give you some advice. It’s guys like you who come out here and fall down into the ravine because you don’t have the instincts to pay the fuck attention to where you put your feet.”

Neal lunged forward, but Bennett stopped him with a hand on his shoulder. “Nuh-uh. Walk away, Hesse.”

“But—”

“Nope.” Paddy started pulling him backward.

Travis spoke again, and the sound of his voice grated over Neal’s nerves like sandpaper. “I’m not just trying to be an asshole, although I’d be justified, considering.” He gestured down at his wet clothes. “But seriously, if you want to be all outdoorsy and shit? Get yourself some survival training, because you seem pretty fucking hopeless.”

Neal growled and lunged again, but was stopped by his two strong friends.

“Aaaand we’re done here,” Bennett said, as he and Patrick hauled Neal to the other side of the river where the rest of their group was waiting.

“Come on, just one swing!” Neal shouted over his shoulder. It was just for show because his pride was more bruised than he wanted to let on, but the boys kept a firm grip on him just in case.

Why the fuck did it matter that some asshole stranger thought he was incompetent? But Neal knew the answer to that—because his own boyfriend had as well. Tony had basically unmanned him by suggesting Neal’s career and choices didn’t matter, and now some random guy was telling him he couldn’t even wipe his own ass without help.

Neal seethed quietly all the way back down the trail. He’d never see that crazy fucknut again, but he’d be damned if he’d let the guy be right. So as soon as he got back, he booked himself on a survival excursion with a professional wilderness guide. That’d show that asshole. The one he would never see again.

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Meet the Author

J.K. Hogan has been telling stories for as long as she can remember, beginning with writing cast lists and storylines for her toys growing up. When she finally decided to put pen to paper, magic happened. She is greatly inspired by all kinds of music and often creates a “soundtrack” for her stories as she writes them. J.K. is hoping to one day have a little something for everyone, so she’s branched out from m/f paranormal romance and added m/m contemporary romance. Who knows what’s next?

J.K. resides in North Carolina, where she was born and raised. A true southern girl at heart, she lives in the country with her husband and two sons, a cat, and two champion agility dogs. If she isn’t on the agility field, J.K. can often be found chasing waterfalls in the mountains with her husband, or down in front at a blues concert. In addition to writing, she enjoys training and competing in dog sports, spending time with her large southern family, camping, boating and, of course, reading! For more information, please visit http://www.jkhogan.com.

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