A Jeri Review: Saving Sebastian (Custos Securities, #3) by Luna David


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

This is book three in the series but can be read as a stand alone. Tons of character cross over, but really the story lines are completely separate.

While I did enjoy this book more than the first two, it is plagued with many of the same issues. Way, WAY too wordy- too much irrelevant information and too much repetition. So once again there was quite a bit of skimming. We are also led to believe that Sebastian’s health problems are a port wine stain on his face and neck and although we find out it is much more than that, it wasn’t like a big aha moment at all.

That being said, I really did like the story.  This book really deals with BDSM in a way the first two didn’t. Again though, the contract between them and how often they saw each other for scenes was a bit similar to a well know mainstream BDSM novel. At least in this one they both really stuck to the contract to keep it impersonal.

I did love watching Sebastian’s growth from complete loner to accepting that he does have friends and people who genuinely cared for him. It was really sweet when he allowed himself to be loved, helped and cared for by other people.

Gideon’s switch flipped too quickly for me. From “omg I am a horrible person who did horrible things and don’t deserve love” to “omg I love him so much” really fast. A bit too fast.

Overall it is a good story. I think you will enjoy it if you enjoy BDSM stories. What they ultimately give each other as far as love and confidence was beautiful.

Cover art works great for the storyline and characters.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 525 pages
Published July 6th 2017
SeriesCustos Securities #3

A Jeri Review: Protecting Braden (Custos Securities #2) by Luna David


Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This next book picks up right where the first left off. The cliffhanger is tied up fairly quickly and then the story continues as Cade and Braden continue their smooshy love fest while he has a stalker on the loose.

Honestly, this book didn’t offer much more than the first did. More of the same but different circumstances really. We get more of Cade’s family- I really liked all of them.

In the first book there is the small issue of Cade living in and owning a business in Denver and Braden living and owning a business in San Francisco. Well that is fixed quite tidily by just moving Cade’s business to SF. Uhm, ok. What about ALL the other employees? Details like this make me crazy.

And as Cade is renovating a huge warehouse to use as his businesses new headquarters, Braden is tasked with designing the top floor for them to live in together. On Cade’s dime. No expense spared. Again, this just harkens back to bodice ripping romance novels to me.

As with the first, there is SO MUCH DETAIL. Way, way too much. I was skimming pages and pages after a while. And it wasn’t just the detail, but the stories that didn’t add anything to the main story. While I appreciate that Cade was finally opening up to Braden about some of his time in the military, we didn’t need to hear all of the stories he was telling Braden.

The epilogue was nice, but a bit tidy. That isn’t going to happen in real life. But that is why we read books, right? To escape real life.

Nice cover with tie in to the characters.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

328 pages
Published July 6th 2016
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCustos Securities #2

A Jeri Review: Trusting Cade (Custos Securities #1) by Luna David


Rating: 3 Stars out of 5

This was the debut book by Luna David. And for that, well done. But… edit. Edit some more. And then edit again. Then send it to an editor to edit.

For the most part, it was a good story. Cade fell WAY too fast for Braden and jumped in head first. Now, I am hardly a personal security expert, but I am guessing that you shouldn’t be emotionally involved with the person you are trying to protect.  But, I am just a reviewer not a body guard.

From that point, most of the story was about Cade and Braden falling more in love with each other. Which was sweet and cute, but just too much. Something was bugging me about the cadence of the book as I was reading. And then it hit me. Swap out some pronouns and switch up the sex scenes and this could easily have been a “traditional” romance story when the big alpha guy comes swooping in to save the weak woman who needs help. There was a lot of talk about how Braden WASN’T weak, but the way that Cade coddled Braden constantly was cringe worthy at times. Like this guy has lived with diabetes for a long time. He doesn’t need to be reminded to check his blood sugar constantly. It just rubbed me the wrong way.

As for the stalker part of the story, that wasn’t a big shock at all. We pretty much knew who it was from the beginning so when it was revealed it was a bit ho hum. There was a bit of a twist in how the stalker came face to face with Braden again and I did like that.

The supporting characters were great. I loved Braden’s best friend Zoe, Cade’s best friend Cooper and I adored Nana. They added a lot to the story that helped the pages keep turning.

The book is left with a bit of a cliff hanger…. Review for that book next

Cover art is hot and steamy.  Definitely eye-catching.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 380 pages
Published February 13th 2016
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesCustos Securities #1

A MelanieM Release Day Review: You Never Know by Mary Calmes


Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Hagen Wylie has it all figured out. He’s going to live in his hometown, be everybody’s friend, explore new relationships, and rebuild his life after the horrors of war. No muss, no fuss is the plan. He’s well on his way—until he finds out his first love has come home too. Hagen says it’s no big deal, but a chance encounter with Mitch Thayer’s two cute sons puts him directly in the path of the only guy he’s never gotten out of his head.

Mitch returned for three reasons: to raise his sons where he grew up, to move his furniture business and encourage it to thrive, and to win Hagen back. Years away made it perfectly clear the young man he loved in high school is the only one for him. The problem? He left town and they have not talked since.

If Hagen’s going to trust him again, Mitch needs to show him how he’s grown up and isn’t going to let go. They could have a new chance at love… but Hagen is insistent he’s not reviving a relationship with Mitch. Then again, you never know.

Wellllllll……huh.  Normally, Mary Calmes can do no wrong for me.  I gobble up her stories like mad, doesn’t matter whether they are supernatural love stories or contemporary romances.  I just love them.  But every now and again, a book like You Never Know comes around that remind me that authors are human and aren’t made to churn out amazing stories like machines.  And perhaps we shouldn’t expect them to.  But whatever the case, You Never Know just didn’t do it for me for a number of reasons.

It does have that second chance at love element that has served the author so well in her other novels, but not really here.  I love this trope, it’s one of my favorites.  But you have to feel that the couple is now right for each other, has made amends or grown substantially or done whatever it takes to have their reunion and new relationship make sense once more.  And I’m not one hundred percent Calmes makes that argument here.  One Hagen Wylie is back after an unrecounted horror of a tour during war time.  He was captured, tortured, and the implication is, something heinous happened during his confinement.  But it’s never directly spelled out.  The reader, however, can read from his reactions to certain things and make their own conclusions.  Its  pretty obvious with his interactions with Mitch and the things he says what happened to him.  But that compounds one of the problem I have with this story.  The implication that love can fix anything including deep emotional trauma including PTSD and worse with one leap into bed.  Uh no. So strike one.

Two, Hagen already has a love interest.  It’s not Mitch, it’s an actor named Ash. So there’s time taken away from the  main couple to dwell on this segment. It really doesn’t help that the pictures you get of Mitch make him unattractive in the cowardly personal sense either.  Like the kids, not so the man he used to be. Or even the man he is now.  He’s still seems to be all about what he wants and needs, not about what is in the best interests of Hagen or anyone else for that matter.  Does he press Hagen for what happened to him?  No.  It’s lets have sex…that will fix it.  As you can see, I never warmed up to this character or the pairing.  This time unrealistic didn’t do it for me.

If you know Mary Calmes’  writing and characters, then you know how the townspeople feel about Hagen or Hag as they call him.  He can do no wrong.  They all adore him.  They rallied around him when he was hurt and in the hospital, etc. He’s beloved by the community which he serves in a number of ways. Honestly, it’s a character type I have always loved from this author and have never gotten tired of.  I love Hagen.  I just never felt that any of the men in this story felt right for him.  How about that?  Loved the kids though.

Anyhow, I’m going to be nice and give it three stars because I loved Hagen and the kids.  The townspeople too.  Nobody does a warm town and community like that like Mary Calmes.  Love infused!  So I’m waiting on the next one to come out.  Those Mary Calmes fans have already read this. Those of you new to Mary Calme, find Frog or her superlative supernatural series A Change of Heart or the contemporary Timing series. So many to choose from. But I really don’t think I’d start here.

Cover Artist: Reese Dante.  It’s a gorgeous cover. But again, does it really connect me to the story?

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 212 pages
Expected publication: July 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

An Ali Audiobook Review: The Innocent Auction (Innocent #1) by Victoria Sue and Joel Leslie (Narrator)

Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
London 1810.

Their love was a death sentence.

Deacon, Viscount Carlisle, was aware of the slums and gin-lanes of London. Just as he was aware of the underground traffic that furnished the brothels and bath houses with human innocents. He was also aware that the so-called justice system would hang the accused without much of an attempt at a defense, unless the unfortunate had deep pockets to pay for it.

He just hadn’t expected to be directly involved in any of it.

It started with a plea for help and ended with forbidden love, the love between a Viscount and a stable-boy. An impossible love and a guarantee of the hangman’s noose.

Will Deacon fight for Tom? Will he risk the death sentence and take that fight from the stately halls of his English mansion to the horrors of Newgate Prison and the slums of London?

Or will he realize that if he doesn’t, death will be a welcome end to the loneliness of the sentence he is already living?
This story was a mixed bag for me.  I liked Deacon a lot and I enjoyed the overall plot of him inheriting his father’s responsibilities, while trying to fix the horrendous mess he had made.  I found Deacon’s struggle to do right by his employees and township entertaining and I was eager to see how things worked out.  I especially liked the side story revolving around Deacon’s cousin/best friend Beau.  That more than anything, kept me on the edge of my seat.  I loved the relationship between Deacon and Beau.  It was both beautiful and bittersweet and I found myself teary-eyed at one point.
The part of the story that didn’t really work for me was the relationship between Deacon and Tom.  They had an interesting set up and meeting and I liked that part.  Unfortunately when they meet again it’s a total insta-love.  I had a very hard time buying that they would risk all that they had to risk after only meeting a couple of times.  It didn’t seem realistic to me at all.  I wish the author would have spent more time letting us see their relationship develop.  This had the potential to be an excellent book.  That being said, the epilogue was sweet and I was happy to see them get their happily ever after.
This audiobook was narrated by Joel Leslie and I thought he did a very good job.  I listen to this narrator a lot and his English accent books are my favorites of his.  (I’m American and I have no idea if they’re authentic or not though.)  He did a good job with all of the characters and I never struggled to figure out who was speaking.  He also put the appropriate amount of emotion in to the scenes.  
Overall I enjoyed this and would recommend it to others.  I had the above mentioned complaint but I would try this author again and I will probably read the next book in the series.  If you enjoy audiobooks I would also recommend the audio version.
Cover:  I liked this cover but didn’t love it.  It’s a good representation of the beginning of the book but it’s a little too monochromatic for my liking.  It also sets a dark feel for the book which put me off of it for a long time.  I thought it was going to be a very dark, gritty read which it wasn’t.


Sales Links:  Amazon

Audiobook Details:

Kindle Edition, 183 pages
Published May 31st 2017 by Victoria Sue (first published December 27th 2015)
Original TitleThe Innocent Auction
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesInnocent #1

Lynn Lorenz on Writing, Influences and her latest New Orleans story, New Orleans Second Lines (author interview)


New Orleans Second Lines by Lynn Lorenz
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: AngstyG

Available at Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Lynn Lorenz here today answering questions and talking about writing and her influences…welcome, Lynn!


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Lynn Lorenz

Thanks to STRW for letting me blog today about my new release from Dreamspinner Press, New Orleans Second Lines!

I’m going to answer a few questions about reading and writing…here goes!

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?  Did you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

            I’m probably one of those few romance writers who didn’t really grow up reading romance. In fact, I didn’t start reading romance until I started writing it.

            As a young teen, I lived in my local library (Nix Library in New Orleans). Because it was small, I’d read through the “kiddie” book section about the age of 12-13. My mother had to give permission for me to take out books in the adult fiction section—books by writers like Mary Stewart, Shirley Jackson, and Daphne Du Maurier. I suppose these fell sort of in the romance genre, but back in those days, the most anyone got was a kiss. All the doors were shut and we could only imagine what happened behind them.

            But what I really liked in all of those stories was the edge of mystery in them. So I moved on to full bore mystery—classics writers like Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Elizabeth George, and Dorothy Sayers. I still love watching those British mystery series on Netflix.

            In my college years, I devoured horror, Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Robin Cook, to name a few.

(Notice: No Barbara Cartland or Nora Roberts. In fact, to this day, I’ve never read one of their novels and please don’t ask me about major authors, I don’t really know any.)

            Then I had kids, and couldn’t read horror anymore, so I started on a few true crime stories, and more of the detective novels. I loved police procedural writers like Tony Hillerman, James Dos, and Faye Kellerman, mostly because they delved into cultures not my own.

            I really didn’t read much fantasy, although I did read some paranormal like Interview with a Vampire when it came out, mostly because…New Orleans. Of course, during high school, I read classics like Frankenstein and Dracula, but perhaps I was too young to fully appreciate them.

            My mother turned me onto Robert Benchley’s humor, which was so like her own. I read Fannie Flagg, of Fried Green Tomatoes fame. Love her southern humor!

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

           I wrote a lot as a teen and in college. English was my minor and I also wrote poetry, angsty stuff about boyfriends, etc. I think what influenced me the most is a mix of elements like mystery, detective stories, humor and gothic romance.

             I learned how to write men by reading James Dos’s Charlie Moon, Hillerman’s Jim Chee and Joe Leaphorn, Kellerman’s Peter Decker, and a few other writers who got it right. But mostly by being around men my entire life. I worked in my father’s construction and electrical company, had jobs on worksites, wore a hard hat and listened to the guys and how they talked to each other.

           What was missing was…the sex.

           When I was about 40-45, I got bored reading what I’d been reading. Maybe it was a mid-life crisis, but I wanted books with sex. I remember asking my hubs if he had any sci-fi or fantasy books (he reads them exclusively) that had sex. He just laughed. “Nerdy scientists write these books. There’s no sex. Why don’t you write your own story?”

            So I did. The very first novel I wrote was what became The Avalon Patrol, and later became Majik Reborn, Majik Betrayed, and Majik Redeemed. I created a world where majik existed, and so did a police force (inspectors) who used majik to fight crime. It sprawled. I had no idea what I was doing. When it hit 250k I broke Word. Hubs finally told me I was writing a trilogy. So I found where the story broke and divided it up. But this story was a het romance, because…sex. My protags had sex; no closed doors for me! I wrote about six novels, all het romance, sort of thinking about publication.

            When I discovered gay romance something clicked. Suddenly, I realized why my male characters had so much..er…sexual tension between them. They were always one move from kissing or killing each other. My heroines weren’t exactly Mary Sues—I had to learn to write strong females and once I did, I started publishing those stories.

            So I took all of the elements I love to read, and rolled them up into what I call my style. Humor for sure. Mystery. Perhaps some crime. But mostly hot as hell men who love each other and will do anything to get to their HEA.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

            HEA—it’s the only thing I write, especially when I’m writing gay romance. For my het stuff, which I write under Theodora Lane for anyone who wants to check them out, I’ll occasionally go for a HFN.

           When my kids asked me why I write gay romance I told them, because everyone deserves to have a happily ever after. I told them about friends I had when I was in high school and college, wonderful people whom I loved, but who didn’t see a HEA in their futures. I explained no one should be denied it because of who they love. To me, writing gay romance is a way to reach hearts and minds. If I can open one person’s heart and mind to love with no boundaries, I’ve done my job.

            My two tag lines for Lynn Lorenz are Everyone Deserves a Happily Ever After and Open Your Heart and Open Your Mind.

            For Theodora Lane, it’s Step Into Her Worlds.

            I hope readers who haven’t read my writing will take a chance and try something new. And this book, New Orleans Second Line, is a great place to start! For readers who know me, I hope you enjoy something familiar, second time around.

More About New Orleans Second Lines

Matt and Lane grew up together, best friends, sharing almost all their secrets. But on the last day of college, those secrets spilled in one night of passion and tore them apart, sending Matt to the West Coast and Lane home to New Orleans.

Now, Hurricane Katrina is set to destroy New Orleans. This might be the worst time to try for a second chance, but nothing can keep Matt from Lane. The man he let get away.

For Lane, no hurricane can pry him from the city, especially without Sebastian. The older man has been a dear friend and his landlord since Lane returned from college. Sebastian refuses to flee, preferring to stay in his Creole cottage in the French Quarter and ride out the storm.

Sebastian’s life becomes intertwined with Lane’s, as Matt finds out when he’s drawn into capturing Sebastian’s memoirs of being gay in New Orleans. The elder gentleman’s stories are full of surprises and lessons for the young men.

The most important ones Sebastian teaches them—and himself—are that second chances don’t come along often, and you’re never too old to fall in love.


About the Author

Lynn Lorenz is an award-winning and best-selling author who grew up in New Orleans but currently lives in Texas, where she’s a fan of all things Texan, like Longhorns, big hair, and cowboys in tight jeans. She’s never met a comma she didn’t like, and enjoys editing and brainstorming with other writers. Lynn spends most of her time writing about hot sex with even hotter heroes, plot twists, werewolves, and medieval swashbucklers. She’s currently at work on her latest book, making herself giggle and blush, and avoiding all the housework.


Also by Lynn Lorenz:

David’s Dilemma by Lynn Lorenz

When is it the wrong time to find Mr. Right? For David, that time is now. He’s caring for his homophobic father, who has Alzheimer’s, and his personal life is the last thing he has time to focus on. But when his father wanders off, David is forced to reach out to the police, in the person of Detective Travis Hart. Travis is gay, tired of the club life and twinks he can’t keep up with, and longs for a real relationship with a man who wants the same—maybe someone remarkable like David. In fact, David is exactly who he has been looking for, but Travis isn’t sure he can be the man David needs during this difficult time.

Because as David’s father sinks deeper into the disease that’s robbing him of his memories, David really needs a friend, not a lover. Though Travis is determined to support David in whatever way he can, David’s decision could lead both men into a situation with no possibility of a happy resolution.



Review Tour for Luna David’s Saving Sebastian (giveaway)



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Cover: Kellie Dennis @ Book Cover By Design


Gideon McCade—weighed down by memories of his previous life as a Navy SEAL and a CIA agent—has blood on his hands. He turns to his BDSM club, Catharsis, and Dominating submissives to get him through the daily grind of civilian life. Knowing his past is too much to inflict on a life partner, he keeps his connections brief and superficial. When his former life comes back to haunt him, his desire for revenge pulls him back into the shadows, darkening his hopes for a future in the light.

Temporarily sidelining his career as a tattoo artist, Sebastian Phillips works as a composite artist for the local police department. To alleviate the inescapable burden of a congenital medical condition, he immerses himself in his art and seeks the catharsis of submission. But with life weighing heavily on his shoulders and darkness encroaching, he yearns for a contract with a Dominant that sees past the protective barriers he’s erected to the vulnerable submissive within.

When happenstance brings Gideon and Sebastian together, their connection is undeniable. The knowledge that they are both too damaged to form permanent bonds of love causes them to rely on an impersonal contract to fulfil their physical needs. But staying emotionally detached becomes impossible, and breaking their contract seems the only option. Will Gideon’s need for vengeance and Sebastian’s declining health destroy what’s grown between them, or will they help each other find their way back into the light?

July 17 – Gay Media Reviews
July 21 – Making It Happen, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words
July 24 – Diverse Reader
July 26 – MM Book Escape, Jessie G Books, Bayou Book Junkie, Sarandipity 

Author Bio
Once upon a timeÖ deep in the shadows of the infamous BDSM club Catharsis, Luna David, future Authoress Extraordinaire, dreamed of crafting epic gay romance novels to the chorus of whips, chains, and riding crops.

Working for the man by day, and playing caped crusader by night, she fell in love with a superhero whose alter-ego was a mild-mannered financial analyst. With the combined strength of their Evasion Superpowers, theyíre able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and escape the horrifying drudgery of peopling and adulting as often as humanly possible.

Once upon a time… deep in the shadows of the infamous BDSM club Catharsis, Luna David, future Authoress Extraordinaire, dreamed of crafting epic gay romance novels to the chorus of whips, chains, and riding crops.

Working for the man by day, and playing caped crusader by night, she fell in love with a superhero whose alter-ego was a mild-mannered financial analyst. With the combined strength of their Evasion Superpowers, they’re able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, and escape the horrifying drudgery of peopling and adulting as often as humanly possible.

Luna fiercely devotes herself to her amazing family and friends, drinks coffee like the life-giving ambrosia that it is, and reads gay romance novels voraciously. And while watching a movie and cuddling is still the perfect date night for her and her superhero hubby, her favorite moments are when he makes her laugh until she cries and can’t help but fall in love with him over and over again.

Life for the superhero duo seemed perfect until the birth of twins threw their world into delightful and exhausting chaos, proving perfection always has room for improvement. Leaving big business behind, The Adorables became her full-time job. But eventually Luna realized it was the perfect time to follow her dreams, so she hung up her cape, donned her rainbow slippers and Wonder Woman pajamas, and dove into her fictional world. When not saving her little monsters from themselves or overseeing the Dungeon, Luna slays fictitious evildoers between the pages of her manuscripts.

Her books feature strong dominant males and the men they would die protecting. With love, her hero, and their monsters in her corner, Luna spends her free time writing sweet and kinky, sensual and erotic gay romance. Love has no gender and no boundaries—and Luna loves nothing more than giving her heroes the same HEA she’s been lucky enough to enjoy every day.

Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Luna-David/e/B01BR4HXQQ/
Webpage: www.lunadavid.com
FB Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/authorlunadavid/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorLunaDavid


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Cover Reveal Blitz : Fool of Main Beach by Tara Lain (excerpt)

 the fifth book in the Love In Laguna Series arrives 
August 21, 2017! The unlikeliest of lovers. The sweetest of loves.


Fool of Main Beach
(Love of Laguna Series, Bk #5)
by Tara Lain
Merle Justice wants to reach for the stars, but it’s tough to get respect when playing a teenybopper vampire on TV. Then he meets a famous director anxious to give him all he thinks he wants—and maybe a bit more. Everything’s looking up until a life-threatening encounter with some homophobes on Main Beach puts Merle face-to-face with a Sasquatch-sized hero in a pink puffer coat.
Tom Henry defies description. As unsophisticated and simple as an angel, he walks through life content with who he is and asking for very little except to care for his sister, Lily, and the dogs he loves. Then he meets Merle, the embodiment of dreams he barely knows he has. Merle knows the people who hold his future in their hands might love Tom—but they’ll never understand Merle and Tom together. Tom knows it too. With lives this far apart, who’s really the fool of Main Beach?
Pre-Order your copy now at
Also available to pre-order in paperback
Release Date: 
August 21, 2017

Excerpt  – Fool of Main Beach by Tara Lain (Sandwiches)

Merle stretched out the measuring tape and got the dimensions of the huge family space, then paced it off into dining and living areas. Once he had enough measurements to buy rugs, he wandered past the big island into the kitchen and opened each cabinet. His mind filled in the spaces with dishes and pots and pans—yeah, a lot of stuff he didn’t have. His current apartment in Santa Monica was still a transition space from starving-actor digs to TV-star quarters. TV star? He snorted softly. More like vampire of the month. Of course, he’d been lucky enough to be vampire of the month for two years.

I’m killing time. Go down to Ru’s studio and take him to lunch.

“Want part of my sandwich, Merle?”

He looked up into the truly pretty face smiling at him from the other side of the island. “I don’t want to take your lunch, Tom. I’ll go get some.”

“It’s okay. I made two sandwiches, so there’s lots.”

I should go, but—“Sure, I’d love half of your sandwich. What kind is it?”

“I’ve got peanut butter and I’ve got avocado and cheese.”

“Which kind do you like best?”

“I like them both.”

“I’ll take avocado.” He looked around the big room still covered in drywall dust, nails, and wood shavings. “Where shall we sit?”

Tom made a waggling motion with his finger.

Merle cocked his head and walked around the island to where Tom stood, towering over him. Suddenly he was flying through the air and made a little gasping sound as Tom sat him on top of the island, then grinned and easily hopped up beside him. Merle laughed. “No fair.”

“Oh, didn’t you like it?” Tom looked serious.

“I’m teasing you. I just meant it’s funny that you’re so much bigger than me.”

He shrugged. “I’m much bigger than anybody—except Billy. I’m just a little bigger than him.” He handed over his half sandwich. It was on some kind of multigrain bread and appeared to have cheese that wasn’t American.

“This looks delicious.”

“Mrs. Allison taught me to make it.”

“Who’s that?” He took a bite and was very happy he did.

“The lady I live with.”

“Oh, you live with a lady?” Duh, Merle.

“She owns the house, and I rent a room from her.” He chewed his peanut butter, which also looked like it might have some organic roots. “I help her with stuff, and she helps me too. Like teaching me about food and water and how to feed the boys.”


“My dogs.”

“How many dogs?”

“Two. Fluffy and Tigger. I got them from the shelter where I work sometimes.”

“Most landladies don’t let you have dogs.”

“Mrs. A. is really nice. She doesn’t want me to have big dogs, though. Wish I could.” He chewed thoughtfully.

“You could probably get an apartment or house with enough space for bigger dogs if you want them.”

He shook his head matter-of-factly. “No. Can’t afford it.”

“I guess rentals in Laguna are pretty high.”

“Yeah, but Billy pays me good. I just need the money for my folks to take care of Lily.”

“Your sister.”

“Right.” He grinned like he was happy Merle knew her name. They chewed companionably. “You’re on TV, right?”


“I don’t see TV much, but I’m going to watch this week. Mrs. Allison said I can.”

Why did his saying things like that wring Merle’s heart? “Do you like movies?”

“Oh yes. I go to movies sometimes.”

“What kind do you like?”

“All kinds. Except the ones with the words. I’m not so good at that.”

Merle’s glance snapped to Tom’s face, but Tom didn’t seem to be complaining or confessing. Just stating a fact. “Do you have trouble reading?” He tried to ask it with great nonchalance.

“Yes. That’s how Billy and I got to be friends. He doesn’t read so good either.” He grinned. “But we’re better now.”

“May I ask you a personal question? You don’t have to tell me.”

“Sure, Merle. You’re my friend.”

Again, that thump on his heart. “I know you passed the electrician’s exam. Billy tells me that’s really hard. If you have trouble reading, how were you able to do it?”

“Mrs. A. read it to me.”

He looked up from licking his fingers clean of avocado. “What?”

“I gave her the tests that were like samples, and she read them to me. And she read all the handbooks too. Then a nice guy named Burt read me the questions on the test, and I said the answers out loud.”

“So you learned everything when Mrs., uh, A. read it to you?”

“Um-hm. I remember really good.” He finished the last bite of his avocado. “Most people don’t, you know?”

Merle grinned. “Yes, I do know.”

“Do you like being on TV?”

“Yes. It’s a good job. Long hours, but I get time off sometimes. Like now.” Funny. He wanted to tell Tom. “I might have a chance to make a movie.”

Tom’s whole face lit up. “That would be really good, right? Would you like that?”

“Yes, it’d be a step up in my career. And the guy directing the movie is very well-known and respected.” He glanced over. Did Tom have the slightest idea what he just said?

“Do you like him?”

Merle smiled. Leave it to Tom to get to the heart of the matter.


Love in Laguna Series
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About the Author


Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in gay romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 40. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, Best Romantic Suspense, and more. 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”!


You can find Tara at Lain
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