A MelanieM Release Day Review: Late in the Day (The Vault #2) by Mary Calmes

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Second from The Vault

Terrence Moss. Conrad Harris. Gold Team Leader. Darius Hawthorne. The Vault. Juggling all these names would bother some, but for Darius, it’s business as usual. When he closes a chapter in his life, he leaves a name—and the people associated with it—behind. He’s managed to keep a few colleagues, even fewer friends, and no companionship through his forty-plus years… but that’s now changing.

The newest chapter of his life is bringing serious change: a stable home, a recovered identity, an unlikely family, and now a chance encounter with the one man Darius ever loved: Efrem Lahm. The reasons they parted are still valid, and there’s no way they can trust each other. But Efrem has already decided he won’t let Darius go… and Darius will have to decide if he wants to take a chance with his heart this late in the day.

I loved the first story in The Vault series, A Day Makes, so I couldn’t wait to see what the sequel would bring.  Late in the Day brings into focus a character we’ve met before in other stories,  not just A Day Makes. Terrence Moss. Conrad Harris. Gold Team Leader. Darius Hawthorne, these are all names that Darius Hawthorne has gone by at one stage of his life or another.  In a series of flashbacks throughout the story, much like the first novel, we see the progression of events that lead up to the man Darius is when the story opens.

It’s an effective format and one that pulled me in immediately.

Mary Calmes engages her reader on many levels from the opening scene.  We’re let into a moment fraught with danger, we understand the personalities of the men involved, and the author sets out an explosive start for her tale that pulls us in emotionally and intellectually.  And then starts to explore why this event has so much impact to Darius and his future.

This author also does lovers reunited like nobody’s business.  That would include Efrem Lahm, the one man that Darius fell deeply in love with and never got over.  The  effect on the reader of these two men meeting again is so strong, so vivid it’s almost gut wrenching. I love it when an author can pull that sort of emotional response from me, making me aware of how powerful a ground shift it would be for a character to see this man again. Mary Calmes does it here…over and over.  And not just from Darius.

Along with the romance, there’s suspense, action, and, yes, humor albeit on the darkish side.  Yes, I think this book and series really has it all going for it with fascinating characters, a complicated series foundation, and outstanding cast of characters.  What this book is not is a standalone novel.  Late in the Day exists within a specific universe, that has its own framework of morality, carefully interlocking family of characters, and even other stories that can be joined to this by weaponry.  Don’t miss out on the note at the end for other stories by Mary Calmes that will connect with this one.

At the end of the novel, I was so happy that I was ready to go back to the beginning of the series and read through the two books all over again.  I can’t wait to see where the author is taking this series next.  Until then, I highly recommend you read Late in the Day if you’ve read A Day Makes, and both books if you are new to the series.  If you are a Mary Calmes fan, you are already ahead of me.

Cover art by Reese Dante is perfect for the character and makes a stunning cover.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: October 30th 2017 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781635339802
Edition LanguageEnglish

Series The Vault :

A Day Makes (The Vault, #1)
Late in the Day (The Vault, #2) 

A Free Dreamer Review: A Question of Counsel (The Republic #1) by Archer Kay Leah

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Life hasn’t been easy for Aeley since she arrested her brother, and her role as a political leader leaves her feeling isolated and lonely. Days before her brother’s trial, she meets Lira, a quiet and modest scribe who makes Aeley want more than just a professional relationship. When she attends the trial and leaves with a marriage contract, Aeley doesn’t know what to do. She must choose one of two brothers, marrying into a family she doesn’t know.

Then she discovers that Lira is part of the same family-a sister to Aeley’s suitors and the family’s disgrace. And not at all opposed to an intimate relationship. Except random acts of violence against her people test Aeley’s ability as a leader, and a web of lies and deceit threaten not only her chance at happiness, but her life…

A Question of Counsel is one of my very first F/F books. I’ve never really liked books with female leads, no matter the genre, so I never thought to read a story with a lesbian couple. But my reading tastes have evolved over the years and the blurb sounded so tempting, I just had to give it a shot. And I’m glad I did.

I quite liked Aeley from the beginning. She’s a tough woman and definitely no damsel in distress, but she’s not perfect either. She drinks too much and can be a little grumpy at times. And she’s apparently not very good at flirting and courting women. She made me laugh a lot.

I loved the flirtations and courtship between Aeley and Lira. Loved the sexual tension as well. And the one explicit sex scene we get was absolutely scorching hot.

While I liked both protagonists and the romance between them, the rest of the plot fell a bit short. The beginning starts right in the middle of things and I felt like I missed a prequel or something. I’d hoped there would be more explanations as the plot moves on, but I always felt a little lost. So much happened before the beginning of the book, it just left me with a big fat question mark.

Another issue I had with this book was the world building, or rather the lack thereof. Throughout the book, I was left wondering just what genre this book was trying to be. A sort of historical AU? Fantasy? Or something completely different? It had a historical feel to it, but there’s four Goddesses and homosexual relationships are perfectly normal. It just had me completely puzzled.

So while I enjoyed the romance part of the book, the rest was just confusing. Still, I did quite enjoy the book for the most part and there’s definitely potential for an interesting sequel.

While the cover by Natasha Snow looks pretty cool, it might give the wrong impression. There is no BDSM in this book.  As long as you don’t take the blindfold too literally, it does fit the book, though.

Sales Links:  Less Than Three Press | Amazon

Book details: ebook, 184 pages

Published May 27th 2015 by Less Than Three Pres

A MelanieM Review: Lavender Fields by Natalina Reis

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

 

Sky Heavensent, an angel of death, is charged with the collection of souls of the recently departed. Known to his peers and immediate supervisor, the archangel Gabriel, as the liability, Sky puts his heart and soul into everything he does.

When he meets Caleb Pierce, Sky is immediately smitten. The problem is Caleb is the soul he came to earth to harvest, and saving him means breaking one of the most sacred angelic directives.

Already in too deep, Sky pushes aside the consequences and follows his heart. Danger and mayhem follow, but he will do everything in his power to protect his lavender-eyed man.

Lavender Fields by Natalina Reis is one of those stories readers are going to be effusive in their praise after reading it or like me, sit back, reflecting on the jarring issues that left the story a bit well, earthbound.

It does  have some promising characters that pulled me initially into the story.   Sky Heavensent is a angel of death, but every bit of a uncoordinated, klutzy mess.  He means well but somehow he ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and causes Heaven and his superiors no end of trouble.  He wanted to be a Guardian Angel but his actions forced him into the position of Angel of Death, a nice touch.

When he goes to collect his next soul, of course,  Sky does the opposite of his chosen duty and all sorts of unfortunate things start to happen.

There is a great promise here.  Reis has something endearing characters with Sky, Caleb and his sister.  She almost makes the instant love thing work  here with the angels can fall in love with a glance explanation.  The follow up storyline with the charm of the human characters and their interaction with Sky was thoroughly enjoyable.  Even that bit with Gabriel, Sky’s frustrated and irritated superior.

However, there is another entire side plot that for me took away from the sweetness and lovely details the author had been laying out.  In this section, it’s as though Natalina Reis wasn’t sure how to handle parts of her story. We have a villain that’s weak for all the intended repercussions.  Certainly Heaven is more on top of things than this? Huge holes abound here. Plus instead of a resolution or explanations that would give the reader some form of satisfaction at the end about what happens to certain characters, we are given a “they were dealt with”.  Not once but two or three times.  That’s well, insert your adjective.  How do you not tell us  what happened to the villains here?  What were their punishments?  Nope, nada.  Only the charm of the characters saved this story from falling farther under a 3 star rating because there more even more narrative holes with that ending as well.

If you are a true lover of angels and romance, then I expect you will need to add this one to your collection.  The same goes if you are a fan of Natalina Reis.  Lavender Fields is a sweet romance if you can overlook some issues with the story and the writing and unfortunately for me, towards the end I just couldn’t.

Cover art is your typical angel sort of thing, doesn’t really stand out in the angel field.

Sales Links:   Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Published July 15th 2017 by Hot Tree Publishing
ISBN139781925448986

An Ali Review: The Family Eternal (Deputy Joe #5) by James Buchanan

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When the body of a young woman is found in a burning rental cabin, Deputy Joe Peterson and newly minted Fire Inspector Kabe Varghese must learn to work together to find out who she is and why she died.

Folks will tell you that family is second only to God in Utah. But what brings strength to some can sow sorrow with others.

On a bleak winter morning, a young woman’s corpse smolders in the remains of a burned rental cabin. Clues to her identity are rarer than frozen choke-cherries in the Utah backcountry. Deputy Joe Peterson, assisted by Kabe Varghese in his first case as a fire inspector trainee, doggedly hunts for who she is and why she died. As they sink deeper into the investigation, Joe struggles with how his life is now personally and professionally intertwined with Kabe’s.

Outed, excommunicated and disciplined because of the man he found love with; the last year of Joe’s life has careened like an avalanche toward an abyss. Is doom inevitable? Or is the best chance to live surrendering to the fall?
This is a series I wish more people read.  Joe is one of the most complex and well written characters in this genre in my opinion.  This installment was another really good one.  We start it by seeing the two men working a case together.  It was great to see Kabe now in a career and doing really well for himself.  The course of this series has shown Kabe grow and come into himself and I was proud of Kabe (like he’s a real person). 
There are two aspects to the book.  There is the murder case which was super interesting.  We learned a lot about the difference between the mainstream Mormon church and the polygamist offshoots.  On a personal note, I did a lot of traveling in Utah last year and I went through the area that this series is set in.  It’s a beautiful area with really interesting people.  It made the setting of this book so much more real to me.  I could picture it all perfectly.  I felt this aspect of the book was well developed and it kept me interested from beginning till end.
The other aspect of the story is the growth of Joe and Kabe’s relationship.  I marvel at how far they’ve come over the years.  There are two aspects that I’d like to note.  One being the bdsm part.  There aren’t a lot of sex scenes but the ones that are there are intense.  I love that the author clearly shows that Kabe is a sub by choice and only in the bedroom.  In the earlier books he wasn’t submissive out of the bedroom per se but his overall life situation made for a power imbalance.  Over time and life changes the men are  now equal in power in their day to day.  I love how the author has shown the reader the development of this dynamic from book to book.
The other aspect I find interesting is Joe’s faith and how he has come to be able to have both it and his relationship with Kabe.  I’m personally not a big fan of organized religion and I don’t often read books with religious characters because in inevitably goes wrong for me.  This series is a major exception.  Joe lives by his faith and he’s a believer.  He lives it by example.  As readers we’ve watched Joe struggle with being gay in a religion that tells him it’s a sin.  He’s struggled hard over the years but it’s just lovely to watch him now.  He’s solid in not only his faith but his love for Kabe.  He sees their relationship as a the beautiful gift it is. It’s also been touching to watch Kabe, who is also against organized religion, learn to respect it’s importance to Joe.  Some of my favorite romantic scenes in the entire series happen in this book.
This book could be read as a standalone but I don’t recommend it.  The mystery works fine and you could follow the romance parts too without reading the previous books.  You would miss out on a lot of the emotion though.  If you’re already a fan of this series I think you’ll really like this one.  If you’re not, I recommend going back and starting with book one.
Cover art by
Sales Links:   MLR Books | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 262 pages
Published August 18th 2017 by MLRPress (first published August 15th 2017)
Original Title The Family Eternal
ISBN13MLR1020170783
Edition Language English
Series Deputy Joe #5

Dirk Greyson on Turning Personal Experience into Characters and his latest novel ‘Hell and Back’

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Hell and Back by Dirk Greyson
Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Book Links

Amazon

Barnes and Noble

Dreamspinner Press

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Dirk Greyson here on his Hell  and Back tour. Welcome, Dirk.

 

I often get asked how much of myself I put into my stories and sometimes I’m not really sure.  I’m not a lawyer and I’m not ex-military turned detective, but I do like to think that I have a big heart and I think that’s where I insert myself most often into the stories I write.  Okay, I’m going to tell you something that I rarely go into online.  My school years weren’t happy ones. I was alone much of the time.  The kids at school picked on me and that made those years really tough.  As a reaction, I turned quiet in introspective.  I stayed away from others and didn’t open play with them because I never knew when the next trick or insult was coming.  It was a pretty miserable existence.  But I think that period of my life also helped me develop a real heart felt understanding for the underdog and those that are having a difficult time with life because I’d been through it.  I really feel for my characters and throw my heart into them, quite literally.  I really hope that comes through to you as well.

 

Blurb/Synopsis

Seventeen years ago, Forge Reynolds fell in love… and had his heart broken.  When Gage Livingston was brought into Forge’s Army field hospital, temporarily paralyzed, Forge sat with him, read his letters, answered his mail, and formed a connection he thought would last. But Gage was sent home, Forge transferred to a new post, and Forge’s letters to Gage went unanswered.

Now, in the middle of a bitter divorce, Forge is sick and tired of his husband’s manipulation and is almost ready to make any sacrifice to get closure, and then he finds Granger murdered execution-style in their home. Forge had no idea about Granger’s illicit activities, but the killers don’t believe that. They think Forge has something they want, and they’re coming after him.

When Forge’s lawyer arranges for professional protection, the last face Forge expects to see is Gage’s. Can he even contemplate a second chance for them after almost two decades or will hoping only lead to more heartache? Before they can explore the possibilities, they must figure out what information Granger had—and others are willing to kill for—or that possible heartache could become a certainty

Excerpt

Gage went through the house to turn out the interior lights before settling in the family room in front of the television with the volume on low, listening for anything out of the ordinary. One thing the Army had done a good job of training into him was patience. He could sit in a mostly empty house and listen for nothing for hours.

A lot of his jobs were hurry up and wait. This one had seemed like it would be more active. When the call had come in to the office, he’d been about to go off duty. Margie, his receptionist, had relayed who was calling and what they needed.  That woman never seemed to sleep and had forwarded the office phone to her cell..  There had been no one else available, so he’d sprung into action and hurried home to get a bag together. It wasn’t until he’d been driving and Margie called to give him the particulars that he’d heard the name and nearly run off the road.

After all these years, to run into Forge again, and under these circumstances….

He turned toward the stairs and got up to make a round through the house, then checked outside just to ensure everything was quiet.

Forge Reynolds. Gage sat down, turned off the television, and retrieved his bag to pull out his iPad so he could read for a while. After a few minutes of reading the same page over and over, he set it aside, leaned back, and closed his eyes. Concentration wasn’t something he had at the moment.

Almost instantly he was lying in a hospital bed.

He’d been hit with shrapnel, a ton of it if what he’d been told was true, and a piece had nicked his upper spine. He couldn’t walk or use his arms at first. And he’d never forget the day a man, about his own age, sat in the chair next to his bed and picked up the pile of letters on his tray. They hadn’t wanted to transport him in case it caused more damage, and his family couldn’t visit him where he was, so old-fashioned communication was the best way.

“Would you like me to read them to you?” The man’s voice had been mellow and gentle, at odds with most things in the Army.

“Please,” he’d said softly. At least he’d been able to talk.

Forge had opened the first envelope and read Gage the letter from his mother, then a second one. The third envelope contained one from his mother and one from his dad, and Forge read both. Gage had been tired and fallen asleep, but when he woke, the man was still there. He picked up a pen and paper and asked if he wanted to write a letter. “My name’s Specialist Forge Reynolds, by the way. I never did tell you.”

“Gage Staff Sergeant Livingston. Gage,” he’d croaked, hating the way his voice sounded. He remembered feeling useless, helpless, and wanting to die. And when he’d dictated that first letter, all of it had come out in a burst of self-pity and loathing that Forge had faithfully written down, showed to him, and then ripped to shreds.

About the Author

Dirk is very much an outside kind of man.  He loves travel and seeing new things.  Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades.  He has a Master’s Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job.  But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he’s built.  Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends. 

Author Links

Other Works by Dirk Greyson

Yellowstone Wolves Series

Challenge the Darkness

Darkness Threatening

Darkness Rising

Day and Knight Series

Day and Knight

Sun and Shadow

Dawn and Dusk

Standalone Titles

An Assassin’s Holiday

Flight or Fight

Playing With Fire

Lost Mate

Hell and Back

Release Blitz for Sweet William by Diane Hartsock (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Sweet William

Author: Dianne Hartsock

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: October 30, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 15800

Genre: Historical, student, dub con/non con, historical, abduction, romance, gay

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

William Wilkerson leads the life of the privileged rich. Head of his father’s shipping business, he indulges to his heart’s content in the pleasures of the flesh with Boston’s finest young men.

That is, until he reunites with Fredrick: his former tutor and the one man who captured his heart. But William’s father has declared Fredrick off limits. And Fredrick, himself, believes he’s beneath the attention of the Wilkerson heir.

After having lost his current pupil to graduation, and with no prospects of a replacement, Frederick is homeless, hungry, and easy pickings for the men on the docks. When Frederick is shanghaied into service on William’s own merchant ship, will William discover his plight in time to rescue him?

Excerpt

Sweet William
Dianne Hartsock © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Fredrick held up his glass and stared at the candle’s flame through the amber liquid. He took a sip and savored the rich, biting taste on his tongue, welcoming the burn down his throat. This was the very last drink he could afford, and he had to enjoy it.

A giggle erupted from someone out of sight on the back staircase, and a smile tugged his lips, despite the dire state of his wallet. The laugh had been carefree, joyous, naughty. Fredrick shifted on the cushioned bench. The lunch hour had passed, and he was the only customer in the dining room. He wondered if the innkeeper up front would notice if he adjusted his cramped cock as it throbbed in sympathy with the bright laughter that reminded him of his own ardent affair.

Rather than risk it, he watched the fruit vender outside the window beguile a customer. Another giggle and stifled moan floated down to him and he grinned, even though the laughter emphasized his own loneliness. It had been far too long since he’d had someone in his bed.

Fredrick looked up at the clatter of footsteps, distracted from his memory of lush lips, white skin, and wide hazel eyes. He caught a glimpse of red hair and an embarrassed cheek before the gentleman crammed a hat on his head.

“Damned Wilkerson,” the man muttered as he passed him, face averted.

With conscious effort, Fredrick loosened his hold on his glass, but he had no way to stop the wild hammering of his heart. Wilkerson? Could it really be…? Perhaps not, but the Wilkerson family he knew had strong ties to Boston. At least, the father often traveled there. But did William come now? He had to know. Before he lost his courage, he stood and swallowed the last of the brandy and then crossed the room to the staircase.

He shook his head at his eagerness. It had been three years, after all, and they’d parted in anger. Would William acknowledge him? A man stepped onto the landing and Fredrick allowed his gaze to travel up the white spats and checkered trousers. Blood heated his face when he found the silk vest and shirt open at the throat to expose soft white skin.

A sigh brought his gaze up to the attractive face that stirred his dreams. Rich brown curls surrounded lovely hazel eyes and full, pouting lips. Panic swept the pretty face, and then a delighted smile revealed the even white teeth that had nipped his collarbone on more than one glorious occasion.

“Freddie, is it you?”

He hasn’t forgotten! Fredrick stored away the joy to visit later. God knew his pleasures were few and far between these days. “How are you, William? I had no idea you came to Boston.”

“On occasion.” William stepped off the landing, only a slight sway in his lean body betraying his inebriation. Fredrick’s heart skipped. The top of William’s head barely reached his shoulders—perfect for Fredrick to rest his chin on if he gathered him close. To his surprise, William didn’t hesitate, clasping Fredrick in his arms and stretching for a light kiss. Fredrick’s hold tightened instinctively, but William didn’t seem to mind, winding his arms around Fredrick’s neck. He licked Fredrick’s lips, his sweet tongue seeking entrance.

Fredrick laughed, breathless with the need that swept him, but moved his head back, denying the kisses sure to topple the defenses he’d built against this man.

He chuckled wryly at William’s delicious pout. “You promised not to tease me.”

“That was years ago. I made no promises today.” William nibbled at Fredrick’s lips, but eased away when he resisted.

Fredrick glanced over his shoulder at the innkeeper watching them. “William, what are you about? Anyone could have seen you. This is dangerous—”

“It was only a few kisses, but perhaps you’re right.” A scowl darkened William’s face. “The proprietor is paid handsomely for his discretion, but it’s possible I’m growing careless.”

Distracted by William’s open shirt, Fredrick closed his hands into fists to resist the urge to embrace him again. Memories stirred of the slide of fabric under his fingers: images of cool sheets and creamy skin. He longed to run his tongue down the exposed flesh of William’s neck and revisit the delights he’d enjoyed, once upon a time.

“How is Lord Wilkerson these days?” he asked instead, throwing that barrier between them. A shutter seemed to close on William’s eyes, his gaze becoming less warm. In sudden panic, Fredrick touched his arm, afraid William would walk away. “Forgive me. This is hard for me.”

He trembled when William put a hand over his. “For me, as well, darling. I had no idea you lived in Boston.”

“Or you would have stayed away?” Fredrick regretted the jealous words the instant they left his lips and looked aside to hide the blush he knew reddened his face. He always played the fool with William.

“My father’s been ill for some time. I’ve taken control of the shipping portion of the estate and come to Boston from time to time to check the wares from the Orient. We managed without incident these past ten years, since eighteen seventy-four, but recently we’ve had an increase in damaged goods. My presence at the docks seems to deter clumsiness.”

“Of course.” Fredrick chewed his lips as he searched for something to say, his heart heavy.

“And what is my former teacher doing in this wild town?” William asked, his voice kind.

Fredrick shrugged, not about to tell him he’d run as far from William as he could when Lord Wilkerson had humiliated and dismissed him. “I’ve been tutoring Lord Anadaile’s daughter.”

“For truth? That must be hell on earth. A more spoiled child I’ve yet to meet.”

“She has a good heart, but this position is soon over, anyway. Miss Cynthia comes of age next month, with her debutant party in June. No need for me after that.”

A cough from the innkeeper at the far end of the room caught their attention. As if recalling his state of undress, William buttoned his shirt and did up his vest. Fredrick groaned inwardly as he remembered doing similar service for William after an afternoon spent undressing him.

William gave a brilliant smile as if sharing the memory and took Fredrick’s hand. “Will you have a drink with me at the club?”

Longing almost overcame discretion, but the barrier of their positions couldn’t be ignored, by either side. “Forgive me. I’m not dressed appropriately for your friends.”

William’s beautiful eyes widened as if seeing the frayed brown suit for the first time. Fredrick’s heart warmed. William had the fine trait of seeing a man behind his outward trappings. Rank held little interest for him. For an instant, the ugly thought that William could well afford the fine principle pricked him, but he knew it was his own poverty that prompted the emotion. William had a true heart.

He watched in fascination as a blush tinted William’s porcelain cheeks. William kept his gaze on their clasped hands, and his words started an ache in Fredrick’s chest. “Damn convention and society can go to hell. I’ve missed you, Freddie. I want to see you. Not at the club, and not here.” A flirtatious glance. “I wouldn’t want to bring scandal to my favorite tutor.”

“It’s better we don’t—”

“Probably.”

William leaned up and kissed Fredrick full on the mouth. A sweet tongue slid passed his lips to tangle with his, tasting and teasing. Caught unawares, Fredrick opened to him, drowned in memories of sultry afternoons, bodies entwined. William’s scent surrounded him, spiced with tobacco and whiskey and expensive cologne. Underneath, there was the heady fragrance of heated skin.

Fredrick groaned as lust swamped his defenses. His cock swelled to life for its lover, ached for the touch it had missed for far too many lonely nights. He returned William’s kiss with fervor, forgetting where they were, his position, everything but the need to taste again this man he loved with all his being.

William broke off their kiss and leaned against the wall, his chest heaving. They stared at one another and Fredrick bit hard on his lip. Dearest Lord! William stood before him, everything he desired in life, intelligent and beautiful. Mine! Fredrick’s heart broke, while agony twisted in his gut. He had nothing to offer the eldest son of one of New England’s finest families. He’d known that three years ago. Nothing had changed his circumstances.

William had always been able to read him, and he set his pretty lips in a firm line. “I’m in Boston through the week. I want to see you, Freddie. Please don’t be cruel. Meet me at the pier in two hours.”

“But—”

His protest went unheard. With a flash of anger in his eyes, William strode past him without another word.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |  Instagram | Pinterest

 

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Release Blitz for The Jackal’s House (Lancaster’s Luck #2) by Anna Butler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 114,000 words approx. 
 
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante 
 
Lancaster’s Luck Series
 
The Gilded Scarab (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
About The Series


Lancaster’s Luck is set in a steampunk world where, at the turn of the 20th century, the eight powerful Convocation Houses are the de facto rulers of the Britannic Imperium. In this world of politics and assassins, a world powered by luminiferous aether and phlogiston and where aeroships fill the skies, Captain Rafe Lancaster, late of Her Majesty’s Imperial Aero Corps, buys a coffee house in one of the little streets near the Britannic Museum in Bloomsbury.


So begins the romantic steampunk adventures which have Rafe, a member of Minor House Stravaigor, scrambling over Londinium’s rooftops on a sultry summer night or facing dire peril in the pitch dark of an Aegyptian night. And all the while, sharing the danger is the man he loves: Ned Winter, First Heir of Convocation House Gallowglass, the most powerful House in the entire Imperium



Blurb

Something is stalking the Aegyptian night and endangering the archaeologists excavating the mysterious temple ruins in Abydos. But is it a vengeful ancient spirit or a very modern conspiracy….


Rafe Lancaster’s relationship with Gallowglass First Heir, Ned Winter, flourishes over the summer of 1900, and when Rafe’s House encourages him to join Ned’s next archaeological expedition, he sees a chance for it to deepen further. Since all the Houses of the Britannic Imperium, Rafe’s included, view assassination as a convenient solution to most problems, he packs his aether pistol—just in case. 


Trouble finds them in Abydos. Rafe and Ned begin to wonder if they’re facing opposition to the Temple of Seti being disturbed. What begins as tricks and pranks escalates to attacks and death, while the figure of the Dog—the jackal-headed god, Anubis, ruler of death—casts a long shadow over the desert sands. Destruction follows in his wake as he returns to reclaim his place in Abydos. Can Rafe and Ned stand against both the god and House plots when the life of Ned’s son is on the line?




 

Excerpt

I like kissing.


Like Ned, I’d spent years in hiding. His constraint had been matrimony and the sense of honor and duty that would never have allowed him to be unfaithful to the mother of his sons. Only her untimely death had released those bonds. Mine had been less noble: I had no desire for a court-martial and a dishonorable discharge from Her Imperial Majesty’s Aero Corps. Most of my encounters over the years had been quick and furtive, but I’d taken every chance I could to practice my technique.


I not only liked kissing, I was good at it.


Fast little kisses to start with, kisses that barely made contact with the skin of Ned’s throat, kisses meant to tease. He tilted his head back to let me in, closing his eyes. His mouth opened on a soft sigh. I hoped he was giving himself up to the pleasure, losing himself in it, that nothing mattered to him at that moment except the feel of my mouth on his throat and lips. I hoped so. I wanted to please him.


I kissed and licked the delicate skin under his ear until he choked with laughter at the tickling. He tightened his grip on my hands and tugged at them until I raised my head. Ha! He’d lulled me into trusting him there and took full advantage of it. He swooped to capture my mouth with his, cutting off breath and thought, bringing a dizzying warmth with his hot tongue, and making me moan.


Of course, they were very manly moans.

Anna was a communications specialist for many years, working in various UK government departments on everything from marketing employment schemes to organizing conferences for 10,000 civil servants to running an internal TV service. These days, though, she is writing full time. She recently moved out of the ethnic and cultural melting pot of East London to the rather slower environs of a quiet village tucked deep in the Nottinghamshire countryside, where she lives with her husband and the Deputy Editor, aka Molly the cockerpoo. 



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Giveaway

Cover Reveal for Welcome Home, Soldier by Deanna Wadsworth (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Welcome Home Soldier 
Author: Deanna Wadsworth
Genre: M/M Romance
Publisher: Dreamspinner

Release Date: December 2017 


Clay and Daniel fell in love as enlisted men during Desert Shield, but Don’t Ask Don’t Tell meant they had to keep it secret. After Clay’s convoy was ambushed, PTSD changed him, and their relationship ended in a horrible fight on Christmas Eve.

Twenty-five years later, they’ve reconnected on Facebook, and Clay finds out Daniel will be alone on Christmas Eve. Impulsively, he sets out for Daniel’s hometown of Gilead, Ohio—where Daniel is now the mayor—to surprise him with a visit. But a blizzard strikes and Clay wrecks his car. All hope of seeing Daniel is lost—until a mysterious old man named Nick offers Clay a ride. The weight of past wounds and the scars of war might make their reunion awkward, but Clay is willing to take the risk to win back his lost love. Despite a lifetime of disappointing holidays, Clay hopes that this soldier is finally coming home for Christmas.
“You sure we’re gonna fit over that bridge?” Clay asked when a rickety-looking bridge appeared up ahead on the edge of the headlights’ range. The one-lane bridge didn’t look wide enough to fit the big vehicle.

“Oh, I can make it,” Nick assured him.

A soldier’s sixth sense kept him alive, and it was a trait very few lost. Though Clay trusted Nick knew what he was doing—he was probably a local—Clay held his breath as they squeezed over the old structure, the curved metal support less than a hand’s width away from Clay’s door.

“Told ya we would make it,” Nick said merrily as they bounced around a bit when the truck was back on the road.

“I can’t believe your boss has you delivering packages this late on Christmas Eve.”

“I work for a real stickler,” Nick said, chuckling. “Gotta make sure that everyone in Gilead gets their Christmas present.”

“You with the post office?” He’d been so anxious to get out of the weather that he hadn’t noticed any badging on the vehicle.

Nick chuckled again. “Something like that. I always spend Christmas Eve delivering packages. It’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Giving everyone their Christmas miracle?”

“I could use a Christmas miracle.”

“Not dying on the side of the road is pretty miraculous.”

After a begrudging nod, Clay let his vision get lost in the warp speed. “Yeah, I guess so.”

Today would be one of his better Christmases. At least Clay wasn’t dead and he would get to see Daniel again.

With his track record, Clay should hate the holidays, but he just couldn’t bring himself to. Christmas was a joyful time of year, one of hope and miracles. Of course, wanting a perfect holiday and having it always fall short used to throw Clay into a tailspin of depression, drugs, and drinking. It was still the hardest day of his sobriety. Last year he did all right, however. He saw three movies on Christmas Day, one was a good, one was lousy, and he fell asleep during the third. The only places usually open were movie theaters and bars, and Clay had no business in a bar. No sense tempting Fate.

The soft refrains of “I’ll Be Home for Christmas” filled the cab.

A sudden, sickening sense of dread filled his chest.

Did he think Daniel would be thrilled to see him after the way Clay ended things? What if Daniel rejected him?

Then what?

He had no car, no phone. He glanced at Nick, humming along to the radio. Maybe he would let Clay ride along on his deliveries… and suddenly Clay was that scared little boy in the church again. Not knowing where he would stay for the night, abandoned and alone. The memory hit him hard, stealing his breath.
The Christmas lights blinked from the greenery on the pew in front of me. Maybe Mama will get us a tree so Santa can find me this year. Laughter caught my ear, and I turned. The family behind us was leaving. I looked around.

 


Everyone was leaving.

My tummy began to hurt. Mama said she was going potty, but she’s been gone a long time.

Where is she?

“You all right?” Nick asked.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine.” Clay blinked hard and rubbed his chest, forcing the old memory back into the box where he locked away things he couldn’t face.

With a bitter sniff, he realized that box had been too damn full for too damn long.

Staring out into the snow steadied his racing heart. He wasn’t that frightened kid anymore, hadn’t been for a long time.

The song on the radio repeated the refrain about being home, taunting Clay with promises of mistletoe and presents under the tree. And where the lovelight gleams?
Whatever that meant.

“There’s the mayor’s place,” Nick announced. “You ready, Clay?”

He shot the man a look, startled by the serious note in his voice.

Didn’t have a choice at this point. “Yeah, sure,” Clay managed as Nick turned into a plowed driveway lined by snow-covered trees that faded into the blowing white.

 

I could wander off into the night and freeze to death.

“It’s going to be just fine,” Nick assured him.

Clay flinched once more.

Nick wore the expression of someone who knew more than they should or perhaps had seen more than they wished. Or maybe Clay was imagining this entire thing and he was actually dead on the side of the road. He’d learned long ago the mind could create some powerful illusions.

At the end of the driveway, a gleaming light filled the white expanse, a golden beacon of home to match the song still playing. Clay didn’t know what he expected Daniel’s house to look like, but he should’ve known it would be a log cabin A-frame with a big deck drenched in snow. Daniel always dreamed of building a log cabin.

 

Looks like he got his wish.
Clay’s heart skipped as the song continued to play, and for an instant, Clay felt like a soldier coming home for Christmas after a long and weary tour.

 

If only in your dreams, Fisher.

“This is where you get off, soldier,” Nick announced.

Clearing his throat when the truck stopped, he offered, “Listen, Nick, I don’t know how to repay—”

Nick raised a hand. “No need. Just go in and make up with your friend.”

Clay studied the cabin, hunkered in between tall pines on one side and a barn on the other, bundled up against the elements. Smoke spiraled from the stone chimney, quickly captured in the storm and whisked away. Golden light spilled from the large windows and onto the white snow. Even through the storm, Clay could make out the colorful twinkling of a Christmas tree inside.

 

I don’t know if I can do this.

He looked at Nick. “Are you sure you shouldn’t come in? I don’t think Daniel would mind. The roads are getting dangerous.” It was ballsy to invite a stranger into Daniel’s house, but basic human decency wouldn’t allow Nick to go back out into the storm, right?

“No, no,” Nick assured him. “I’ve done this a time or two. I got it all under control.”

Clay nodded but didn’t move.

“Go on,” Nick encouraged. “I have more gifts to deliver tonight than just you.”

Chest aching, Clay let out a weary sigh and zipped his jacket. Then he shook Nick’s hand, engulfing it in both of his own. “Thank you again. And please be safe out there.”

Nick gave a rumbling, deep-belly laugh. “Oh, ho-ho! I’ll be fine. Don’t you worry.”

Hesitating for another moment, Clay said farewell, then climbed from the truck and shut the door. He waved goodbye and hunched into the weather. Leaving fresh tracks, he hurried toward Daniel’s porch. The wind swallowed the sounds of the truck engine, and when he glanced over his shoulder, Nick had already disappeared into the storm.

Godspeed, friend, he thought, grateful for his guardian angel tonight.

He hoped that same good fortune would stay with Nick on his route.

Clay stared at the ominous green door—Daniel’s favorite color. With a fortifying breath, he pushed the doorbell. When he didn’t hear anything, he knocked on the door with a fist. On the other side, a dog barked.

His heart gave a pang at the sound. His white German Shepard Lola had died too young, only seven. Damn, I miss her.

Clay raised his hand to knock again, but the rumble of a man’s voice followed by the switch of a deadbolt stopped him. His heart skipped. This is it.

The door opened.

“Clay?” Hazel eyes met Clay’s, wide with shock.

 

At least he recognizes me. That’s a start. Shoving his hands into his jacket pockets, Clay offered, “Merry Christmas, Daniel.”
Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and is the current President 2017 for Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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