A MelanieM Review: Velvet by Xavier Axelson

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

When an irresistible discovery unravels the forbidden secrets of a man’s heart, the very fabric of his existence is threatened.

Virago is the royal tailor of a corrupt prince. Left to care for his blind brother, Virago devotes himself to his trade until an unexpected delivery changes his life, and a wandering minstrel knocks on his door. What he discovers will test the bonds of brotherhood and unravel the forbidden secrets of his heart.

Loosely based on the 14th Century Laws of Sumptuary, Velvet takes readers to a land where cruelty is disguised as allegiance, loyalty is masked by obligation, and the laws of sumptuary govern the people. But nothing is more dangerous than Velvet.

Velvet by Xavier Axelson has all the elements I’ve come to expect from an Xavier Axelson story.  The language is lyrical, hints of the mystical float through the narrative, and the overhaul effect is just plain haunting as a whole.

From the start, the tone is set as Virago is on board a ship.   Virago stands next to a heavily pregnant woman who’s unborn child is a seer interested in Virago.  From there, Virago recounts the journey that has led to this voyage and his strange circumstances.

From happy child with a famous, loving tailor father in a kingdom ruled by a benevolent king to a man living under the rule of a unhinged cruel despot, Virago and his brother undergo so many changes here.  Primarily Virago because he is the character who has had blinders on about so much for most of his life.  About his sexuality, about the prince and his true characters, and about those the prince has “considered his true friends and brothers”.  Things his blind brother has been aware of for far too long.

All changes  when a new fabric comes into Virago’s hands…something called velvet.  Soon an obsession and more is born just as a musician, Seton, arrives for the King’s coronation.  A sexuality awakens, forbidden by law and punishable by death.  So too does a sickness arrive in the city.

Axelson weaves a tale of revenge, cruelty, discovery, passion, and love in Velvet.  You’re never sure if this is an historical novel or if dragons will soon appear because there is an air of heavy mysticism about it that bespeaks of darkness and otherness.

As with most of Axelson’s romances, Virago and Seton find love rather quickly but here it feels natural or rather that fact is subdued under all the  other  elements here.  Perhaps it’s that all the threads are equal, the velvet vest, Virago’s feelings, the whore’s revenge, the peacocks, the court, and more.  It all builds to an uneasy crescendo.

Never was I so happy for that beginning.

Velvet will haunt you.  It leaves you with questions that will never be answered, and scenes that linger on in your mind.  That’s why I read this author.  And you should too.  I absolutely recommend Velvet as a lovely starting place.

Cover art: Winterheart Ink Designs.  Haunting, beautiful cover that is perfect for the story.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 161 pages
Published March 24th 2018 by JMS Books LLC (first published October 25th 2012)
Original TitleVelvet
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An Alisa Review: The Officer and the Vampire Chef (A Loving Nip #16) by Charlie Richards

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Rating:  3.25 stars out of 5

Just a little Love Bite: When a vampire chef meets his soul mate, he must discover if the way to a man’s heart really is through his stomach.

Patrick Brown knows he’s a little odd for a vampire, enjoying cooking and dancing. It works for him, though, since he’s his vampire coven’s chef, and he loves spending hours doing both as he shimmies around his kitchen. On a routine food run he stops a robbery at his local grocer’s. To Patrick’s surprise, the blood of one of the officers calls to him like nothing ever has. He realizes the human policeman is his beloved, his soul mate. While Patrick easily scents the human’s arousal, betraying his interest, Officer Allen Robinson barely gives him the time of day. Undeterred, Patrick begins a quest to learn everything about the human, and with the help of friends, he sees him again…and again. Can Patrick figure out a way to woo his closeted cop, or will fears and prejudice destroy their chance at a future?

This was a sweet short story.  Patrick enjoys his life but desires to have to have a soul mate like many around him have found.  Allen has kept his sexuality a secret forever and his strong attraction to Patrick sends him running even farther in the closet.

Patrick tries to woo Allen but it didn’t seem to do much.  Allen knows he’s running but can’t help himself and when he sees Patrick out with some friends.  I could feel Patrick’s desire for Allen and what seemed acceptance of his fate when Allen didn’t come back after his first visit.  I was able to see Allen’s fear of coming out but didn’t really connect with him.  As expected in a short story it seemed to be tied up in a bow much faster than I would have liked but I still enjoyed this story.

The cover art by Angela Waters is nice and I love the visual of Patrick in his kitchen.

Sales Links: eXtasy Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 94 pages

Published: March 2, 2018 by eXtasy Books

ISBN13: 9781487418878

Edition Language: English

Series: A Loving Nip #16

Release Blitz and Giveaway: Robbie Riverton: Mail Order Bride by Eli Easton

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Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design
 
Length: 65,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Being a fugitive in the old west shouldn’t be this much fun.


The year is 1860. Robby Riverton is a rising star on the New York stage. But he witnesses a murder by a famous crime boss and is forced to go on the run–all the way to Santa Fe. When he still hasn’t ditched his pursuers, he disguises himself as a mail order bride he meets on the wagon train. Caught between gangsters that want to kill him, and the crazy, uncouth family of his “intended”, Robby’s only ally is a lazy sheriff who sees exactly who Robby is — and can’t resist him.


Trace Crabtree took the job as sheriff of Flat Bottom because there was never a thing going on. And then Robby Riverton showed up. Disguised as a woman. And betrothed to Trace’s brother. If that wasn’t complication enough, Trace had to find the man as appealing as blueberry pie. He urges Robby to stay undercover until the danger has passed. But a few weeks of having Robby-Rowena at the ranch, and the Crabtree family will never be the same again.

 

About Eli


Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.


Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.


In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.


In 2018 Eli hopes to do more of the same, assuming they reschedule the apocalypse.


Her website is www.elieaston.com
You can email her at eli@elieaston.com

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Release Blitz for The Perfect Whore by Josephine Myles (excerpt and giveaway)

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Cover Design: Lou Harper
 
Length: 58,000 words approx
 
Blurb
 

Being the object of everyone’s sexual fantasies ain’t all it’s cracked up to be…

On a mining colony planet a long way from Earth, bandit Jedd Lightning dreams of making enough money to get his ship spaceworthy again. During a robbery at a high-class brothel, he meets gorgeous alien rentboy Storm and is instantly smitten—but the heist goes south and Jedd has to high-tail it out of there with only half the loot.

Enslaved by a fierce Madam, Storm’s shapeshifting talents make him the most sought after whore on Talmak. He literally can’t stop himself becoming his client’s fantasy lover. Sick of enforced transformations, he wants to escape, but he’s closely guarded and has no experience of the unfamiliar city outside the brothel.

Storm is willing—and eager—to do anything to persuade Jedd to break him out of his gilded prison. Lucky for him the arrogant outlaw needs Storm’s help to free his crewmate, held as hostage by a vicious mob boss who wants Jedd to complete the theft he was hired for. Storm keeps blowing away Jedd’s expectations—but with both the law and the mob against them, they could end up with nowhere left to run.

Excerpt

“Stick ’em up, people. This is a raid. I want all your valuables, right now…” The last words trailed away as Jedd took a really good look at the naked, sweaty couple on the bed. His target, the Right Honorable Senator Artaxico Thrublet, was on his knees behind one of the most gorgeous bodies Jedd had ever clapped eyes on. A body on hands and knees. A most decidedly human and male body…

Shit, had he gotten the wrong room? Jedd squinted at the client, trying to work out if it really was the senator. ’He was definitely Talmaki, with his lizard-like body, orange, hairless skin and bulging eyes . But no, he’d studied footage of Artaxico and recognized his large nose and the ridiculous looking rows of diamond studs up both his pointed ears.

“Hold on, just let me finish. Uh!” Artaxico shuddered to a stop, his belly wobbling as he panted obscenely. Jedd winced at the sight. He knew interspecies mating went on—everyone had heard the tales—but intellectual knowledge wasn’t the same thing as having it thrust in your face. Talmaki just weren’t his idea of sexy. Okay, there had been that one time he’d got drunk enough for a fumble in an alleyway, but the alien’s cock had been kind of scary, and things hadn’t got very far. But maybe the gorgeous young whore was used to those luminous, scaly shafts of meat. Maybe he even enjoyed them. Was he enjoying Talmaki cock right now? He was certainly hard enough.

Right now Jedd couldn’t see the expression on the whore’s face as it was buried in the mattress, but maybe that was for the best. There was no way he could be handsome enough to do that incredible body justice. No wonder the senator had decided to try him as a change from the celebrated Divine. The rentboy moaned through his own orgasm, just moments after the senator, and drenched the sheets below him in spunk.

Artaxico withdrew, revealing an intimidating length of glowing scarlet cock, then collapsed back onto the bed. He reached out to pat a perfectly formed buttock. “Run along now, sthweetie. I wouldn’t want you to get caught up in any of this nasty business.” The lad scooted down to the end of the bed facing Jedd, exposing an equally impressive prick which was filling up again in what must be a record-breaking time.

And as for his face… Suns above! Those were lips Jedd would give anything to see stretched around his dick. But no, he had a job to do, and he wasn’t about to get sidetracked by some hyper-sexed rentboy, no matter how astoundingly gorgeous he was.

“The boy stays,” Jedd ordered. Artaxico gave him a puzzled look, but Jedd pressed on. “I want your datapod and passcode, now!”

“Not a chance in hell. That passcode is top level sthecurity,” Artaxico lisped. “I really don’t imagine there’s anything an ignorant monkey like you could do that could force me to sthpeak.”

Okay, just as he’d feared, but Jedd had his back-up plan. “Oh yeah?” Jedd strode over to the bed and grabbed the lithe young man under the arm. There was a brief moment where he was distracted by the sensation of naked skin against his own, but he couldn’t afford to lose any time so he pulled the whore upright, holding the charge gun to his temple. “Your strumpet gets it if you don’t talk. And don’t think this is a bluff. I never bluff.” He pulled the lad tighter to him for emphasis, but this had the unfortunate effect of bringing more of his own body in contact with those taut muscles, and his face even closer to the thatch of chestnut curls. His nose was on a level with the top of the whore’s head, and he pulled in a lungful of the most divine, arousing musk. Feeling a familiar tightening in his pants where he brushed up against those pert buttocks, Jedd cursed his over-active libido. “I’m warning you! The code, now!”

Artaxico just laughed, a mocking bray that wound Jedd up worse than finding a firebug had crawled into his beer. “Utter nonsense! I’ve stheen killers before – by the sthuns, I employ enough of them, and you really don’t have that look in your eyes. You’re just an overgrown wassat, aren’t you?” The senator twitched his nose in a near perfect imitation of one of the pesky rodents.

Jedd fumed. First a monkey, now a wassat. He turned the gun on the senator. “Okay then, if you don’t give me that passcode this instant, you get it. I mean it!”

“Like you’ll ever be able to get it off me if I’m dead. Does that antique piece of crap even have the power to kill? Looks more like something my wife would carry to stun any overconfident admirers.”

Goddammit, how could the man tell? Jedd waved the gun as threateningly as he could. “You willing to take that risk?”

Artaxico laughed again, getting up to his feet. “What risk? There’s security everywhere in this place, you know? I’m just going to stroll out of here and call the guards, and you’re not going to do a thing to stop me.”

Oh, wasn’t he? Jedd aimed at Artaxico’s head and pulled the trigger. “Ha! Not so clever now, are you?”

“Is he going to be all right? That was just a stun, wasn’t it? “ The godlike young man had a voice to match his physique—a rich and sultry baritone that rumbled against Jedd’s breastbone.

The senator snored before Jedd had a chance to answer, and the lad melted back against him, sighing with what sounded like relief. Their close contact made a certain part of Jedd’s body grow stiffer while the rest seemed to want to melt into a puddle.

Would the rentboy mind sneaking in a quickie? Jedd would even pay if he had to, the lad was that gorgeous. Or would the stun charge have set off the internal alarm system? Probably best not to risk dawdling too long.

Still, seemed a shame to waste a moment like this now that Artaxico was unable to interfere. Jedd loosened his hold and let the young man turn in his arms. Holy fuck, Jedd could feel the whore’s massive erection prodding his thigh.

He took a deep breath, forced it out. Focus. Not here. Not now. Just gather information. “Captain Jedd Lightning, at your service. And who might you be, gorgeous creature?”

The man chuckled, stepping away from him and turning to fix him with a pair of intensely soulful deep green eyes. “My working name’s Divine, but you can call me Storm.”

“Divine? But… You’re meant to be a girl!” Jedd spluttered.

The young man gave a maddening, secretive smile. “Divine can be whoever you want, Captain. Divine is simply the title of your ideal lover.”

“So they swap you around depending on what the johns want? There are other Divines?”

“Something like that. But please, call me Storm.” A plaintive note sounded in his voice and his lower lip jutted in an almost-pout. “No one ever does these days.”

Storm. It suited him, as there was a wildness in those eyes that Jedd thought he recognized, something he glimpsed in his own reflection every morning. Focusing on Storm’s eyes proved a challenge, though, when there was all that naked flesh to feast his gaze on. Smooth, bronzed skin, with just enough hair between those dark nipples to make him want to run his fingers through it. Jedd’s gaze followed the trail down all the way to the most majestic cock he’d ever seen. It reached up invitingly, as if seeking Jedd’s hand.

“You have quite an imagination, don’t you?” Storm said, staring down at himself as if in fascination.

English through and through, Josephine Myles is addicted to tea and busy cultivating a reputation for eccentricity. She writes gay erotica and romance, but finds the erotica keeps cuddling up to the romance, and the romance keeps corrupting the erotica. Jo blames her rebellious muse but he never listens to her anyway, no matter how much she threatens him with a big stick. Sheís beginning to suspect he enjoys it.

Joís novel Stuff won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Bisexual Romance, and her novella Merry Gentlemen won the 2014 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Romantic Comedy. She loves to be busy, and is currently having fun trying to work out how she is going to fit in her love of writing, dressmaking and attending cabaret shows in fabulous clothing around the demands of a preteen with special needs, an incessantly curious pre-schooler, and a bun in the oven!

Website and blog: josephinemyles.com/
Facebook: facebook.com/josephine.myles.author
Twitter: @JosephineMyles
Newsletter: eepurl.com/hrQ4s
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/bePatron?u=8383406

 

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Release Day Blitz for Love in Spades by Charlie Cochet (excerpt and giveaway)

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 Love In Spades RDB Banner

LOVE IN SPADES

CHARLIE COCHET

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 04.24.18

 LoveInSpades-300x600

COVER DESIGN: REESE DANTE

getBook.at/LoveInSpades

 

BLURB

Ex-Special Forces soldier Anston “Ace” Sharpe is fighting a different battle these days—one involving the world of private security across the state of Florida. As part owner of Four Kings Security, Ace and his fellow Kings tackle everything from armed transport and investigations to cyber intelligence and executive protection. Cocky, fearless, and brash, Ace isn’t afraid to take risks.

After years of working alongside his father, Colton Connolly is ready to take the helm at Connolly Maritime, but his father’s retirement is put on hold when Colton begins receiving death threats. If that isn’t bad enough, his father signs a contract with Four Kings Security to provide Colton with round-the-clock protection, despite his adamant refusal. Colton’s life has been turned upside down, the last thing he needs is a shadow, especially in the form of infuriating, sexy-as-sin Ace Sharpe, who seems to be on a mission to drive Colton mad.

Sparks fly the moment Colton and Ace meet on a sultry night club dance floor. But getting involved with a client, even one as fiery and beautiful as Colton Connolly, is a line Ace is unwilling to cross. Colton might be attracted to Ace, but he’d been burned before. He might be willing to put his life in Ace’s hands, but not his heart.

As the Florida nights heat up, so does their passion, and Ace and Colton are faced with a difficult choice—take the plunge and risk it all, or play it safe and walk away?

If Ace can keep a deadly threat from robbing Colton of a future….

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EXCERPT

“Do I get a gun?” Colton asked.

“Have you ever fired a gun?”

“No. I’m not really a fan.”

“It’s amazing how many clients believe we’re going to arm them. Even if you were an expert marksman, you wouldn’t get a gun. You get a pen.”

Wait…. “A pen?”

“Yep. Titanium.” Ace handed Colton a silver pen, and Colton hesitantly took it from him. He held it up in front of him and peered at it.

“I’m supposed to fend off an attacker with a pen?” Was it a Bond pen? If he clicked the end or twisted it, would it release a toxic gas or set off an explosive? He clicked the end, and the ink nib popped out. Nope. It was just a pen.

“It’s a tactical weapon,” Ace assured him. “With the right amount of force in the right place, it can cause some serious damage.”

Colton eyed him skeptically. “You’re messing with me.”

“No.”

“What if they have a gun?”

“That’s a different lesson.”

Colton sighed. “Okay, show me.”

“Not if you’re going to give me attitude.”

“I’m not giving you attitude.”

Ace held his hand out. “Give me the pen.”

“No. It’s my pen.” Colton clutched it to his chest.  “You gave it to me.”

“Seriously?”

“Yes. This is the only defense I have. You’re not taking it from me.”

“Colton, you do realize I could take it from you without you even realizing.”

“Oh yeah, Mr. Hot-Shot-Green-Beret? Then do it.”

“Colton,” Ace warned.

“Come on. I want to see your super-secret moves.”

“I don’t even know what to say to you right now, other than you’re being ridiculous. And I have your pen.” Ace held up a silver pen.

“What the hell?” Colton gaped at his empty hands before his head shot up. “How’d you do that?”

“With years of practice. Now, are you going to pay attention?”

“Yes.”

“Good.”

“Can I have my pen back?”

Ace pressed his lips together like he was trying to keep from laughing. The guy was so fucking sexy. Colton wanted to climb him and do terrible things to his body. Instead he took the pen Ace handed him.

“Thank you.”

“Okay, put that in your pocket. First I’m going to demonstrate the moves.” Ace pulled his own pen from his pocket.”

“Ooh, yours is black. It looks very serious.”

“It’s the same as yours, but black.”

“It camouflages with your clothes.”

“Yes.”

“Does it come in different colors?”

“You should know that I’m two seconds away from putting you in a sleeper hold.”

CharlieLogo2018Website

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.

Website: http://www.charliecochet.com

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

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/charliecochet

Facebook Author Page: http://facebook.com/authorcharliecochet

Tumblr: http://charliecochet.tumblr.com

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/charliecochet/

Twitter: @charliecochet

Instagram: http://instagram.com/charliecochet

Goodreads: http://goodreads.com/charliecochet

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Release Blitz for Orderly Affair (Hearts & Health #6) by DJ Jamison (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 75,000 words approx.
 
Hearts & Health Series
 
 
Blurb
 

A hospital orderly explores his bisexuality with an adorably geeky lab tech, but can their sparks lead to love outside the closet?

When Ian Connolly installs a hookup app to explore his long-suppressed attraction to men, he doesn’t expect to connect with anyone he knows, especially not lab tech Callum Price. But from their first scorching encounter, he’s hooked.

Callum hasn’t had the best luck with love, and he’s suffocating under a pile of responsibilities. But when he sees an opportunity to blow off steam with Ian, he takes it. The man is smoking hot, big all over, and sweet as pie.

Their chemistry is off the charts, but a relationship is more challenging. Callum remains stubbornly self-reliant, while Ian tries too hard to be his rock. But if Ian can be honest with his family about loving a man, maybe Callum can admit his own truth: He wants a man he can count on, a man just like Ian.

 

Here’s an excerpt of an app hookup that serves as the catalyst for Ian and Callum’s relationship. Enjoy!

Excerpt


Callum Price swallowed hard, staring at Ian Connolly’s massive … everything.
The orderly was six-foot-four, compared with Callum’s modest five-foot-eight height. Broad and muscled, Ian could toss Callum across the room with very little effort. That sent a thrill of fear through his body and a frisson of excitement straight to his cock.You are one screwed up puppy.Callum knew the guy from the app might be someone he knew, but he never would have guessed him to be Ian “straight guy” Connolly.

He licked his lips and raked his eyes over Ian’s chest and stomach, too obscured by the loose scrub top to hint at the goodies beneath. “I didn’t know you were …”

“Me either,” Ian said. Then coughed with embarrassment. “I mean, I’m bi and just now exploring my … curiosity.”

“Bi or bi-curious? They’re not the same.”

“Are we really going to have a serious talk about sexuality in the john?”

Ian had a point. Callum’s pulse raced, sending all his blood south and muddying his thoughts, as he stared at BigBiGuy. Ian. He knew the hospital orderly only through a loosely organized group of hospital staffers who played basketball every now and then. They nodded and smiled hello in the halls, but their paths didn’t cross all that much.

Yet, here they were.

Callum had noticed Ian was a big guy; it would have been impossible to miss. But he’d filed him into the unavailable category with all the other straight men, and as a result, hadn’t fully appreciated the man’s body.

He wasn’t about to miss an opportunity to correct that mistake.

“Take off your shirt.”

 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.

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