In the Contemporary Spotlight : When He Was Bad (Coconut Cove #3) by Poppy Dennison (author interview )


When He Was Bad (Coconut Cove #3) by Poppy Dennison

Dreamspinner Press

Cover Art: Reese Dante

Sales Links:

Dreamspinner Press |  Amazon   |   Kobo 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Poppy Dennison here today on tour for her new story When He Was Bad.  Welcome, Poppy.




Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Poppy Dennison

How much of yourself goes into a character?

PD: I think quite a bit of the author goes into the character. I know that for me, I tend to feel the emotions my characters are feeling. When Levi was worried, I was worried. When he was happy, I was happy! It’s really hard for me to write a happy scene when I’m in a bad mood. It’s makes diving into the worlds I create even more amazing because I really do lose myself in my imagination. I have such a cool job. 🙂

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

PD: I do think there’s a fine line when using my personal experiences as an author. Authenticity for characters is really important. I always have to remember that I’m telling someone else’s story. I love to pull from things that have happened to me and think about how my character would have reacted. It makes me really think more in depth about a character. How would Whitney react to someone cutting in line at the coffee shop? I made a snarky comment, but Whit probably would have found a way to “accidentally” spill his coffee on them later!

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing?

PD: You know, that’s a bit of a tricky question. I’ve been reading romance for years, so in that way, yes. But I used to love reading romantic suspense and mystery stories (Mary Higgins Clark jumps to mind!). I’ve never written in that subgenre though and have no plans to. Never really thought about it until you asked!

Have you ever had to put an ‘in progress’ story aside because of the emotional ties with it?  You were hurting with the characters or didn’t know how to proceed?

PD: Absolutely. Sometimes it’s just not the right moment for the story. Or should that be “write” moment? I have quite a few stories that I’ve put aside as I wasn’t in the headspace to get the tone right. I’ve pulled out old stories sometimes years later and finished them.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

PD: HEA all the way! The only sort of exception is an ongoing series, but I still prefer an ending that is much closer to HEA than HFN.

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

PD: Absolutely! I’ve read romance since I was a teenager and as an adult it’s about the only fiction I read. (I read a lot of history, mythology, biography, etc too.)

How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

PD: I’m a huge fan of ebooks. I love the instant gratification of it. (I’m spoiled, I’ll admit it.) I also love the option to get books in paperback when I really love them. One of my favorite things to do at events is get authors to sign their books that I’ve really loved. I have an entire bookcase full of them. That said, since I do have a  limited amount of space (like everyone else) I like being able to get the book in ebook first. I don’t see ebooks going away anytime soon.

How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

This is actually a bit funny. Usually, I work with an artist I’m close to (A.J. Corza or Reese Dante) and they’re amazing artists who who work with me to get the right look for a title. I also have a couple author friends who give “final” approval for my covers because sometimes I’m not the best judge. Reese Dante did the covers for Coconut Cove and she was so great taking some generic notes from M.J. O’Shea and I and making them into a cohesive cover. I absolutely love her work.

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I think Mind Magic, my first published novel, will always be my favorite for sentimental reasons. I didn’t know I could be a published author, so going through the process with that book and watching its success was a life changing event for me.

What’s next for you as an author?

Next up for me is Growing Pains, the next title in my Bartlett Boys series. It’s the story of cousin Kale and the cop he falls in love with.

What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

PD: Almost every story I’ve written has started with a wild scene that I’ve imagined and that scene is always in the story! I have really crazy dreams and a wicked imagination so it helps. I have an entire folder full of “story starters” that are just random bits of scenes that pop into my head. I don’t know where they live, but a lot of times they find a home in an upcoming project.

Ever drunk written a chapter and then read it the next day and still been happy with it?  Trust me there’s a whole world of us drunk writers dying to know.

PD: Alas, no. I’m a morning person and do most of my writing before most people get up for the day. Now, I have written a story that, as Amy Lane says, had me “riding the dragon”. That’s when your fingers are flying on the keyboard and the words are just coming out of you with no thought, no plan, just writing. You just hold on and try to keep up. Those have been some of my favorite scenes, and one of them appeared in a book with absolutely no edits needed. (Okay, a couple commas because commas….why?But no words were changed. LOL )

If you could imagine the best possible place for you to write, where would that be and why?

PD: Someplace quiet (as I’m typing this, there is someone using a leaf blower outside my window. The dirty looks I’m sending his way are EPIC.) But seriously, I’m not one of those writers who listens to music when they write or whatever. I like me, my computer, and silence. I don’t want any distractions. I sometimes wear noise cancelling headphones with ambient noise to help. So whatever place looks like that. 🙂

With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To wide our knowledge?  Why do you write?

PD: I’d love to have a noble reason for writing, but the truth of the matter is, I write because I have to. I don’t have a choice. When I don’t write, I get really out of sorts: sad, mad, cranky, the works. When I’m not actually writing, I’m world building. There’s always some sort of creative work going on in my imagination. That said, it is really good for me to write happy ever afters when there’s so much stress and anxiety in the world around me. I’m really thankful when I can lose myself in my worlds and make people happy. It’s an amazing feeling.


Coconut Cove: Book Three

Lights, camera… wardrobe?

Coconut Cove is television’s newest hot sensation. The glitzy teen drama set in the beach lover’s paradise of Key West is the talk of every gossip rag eager for dirt and hookup news on the hot young actors—like Levi Phillips, who plays the show’s resident bad boy.

Levi’s attraction to costume designer Whit heads into high romance when Whit orders Levi out of his clothes—in an attempt to save Levi from heat exhaustion, of course.

Sassy Whit knows just how to dress, and undress, Levi, and soon the sexy duo are steaming it up offscreen, which is no surprise to their friends and castmates.

But love in the public eye is complicated, and rumors pose challenges that can threaten careers and love….

About the Author:

Add two parts sass and one part sweet and you have Poppy Dennison to a T—sweet tea that is. Raised by a gaggle of Southern women who love reading and have backbones of steel, Poppy was brought up to see the best in people but always speak her mind. Mix it all together, like Grandma’s famous cobbler, and you get a sassy, Southern lady with a quick wit and loads of charm, who will soften any blow with “Bless your heart.”

Her books reflect her small town roots, are filled with all the comforts of home, and come with side dish of spicy, because that’s the way she likes it.

A MelanieM Review: Lucky Days (Boystown, #9) by Marshall Thornton


Rating: 5 stars out of 5

In the ninth book of the bestselling mystery series, a young man wakes up covered in blood and no memory of the previous night. When hypnotism doesn’t help, he turns to private investigator Nick Nowak. Meanwhile, the trial of Outfit kingpin Jimmy English begins.

Quickly the case begins to unravel when an important witness goes missing and Nick must put his other cases, and his home life, on hold while he goes to Las Vegas to find him. (

You know things aren’t going to go well in a book titled Lucky Days when the story involves Nick Nowak.  And it doesn’t.

Lucky for Nick and the people he comes in contact with never has the outcome anyone expects.  And the factor of luck?  Well, if luck is involved, then the twist maybe one best looked at out of a carnival mirror.

Nick is still on the case of Jimmy English as its heading towards trial but in the meantime he gets another one.  A young black gay male wakes up with no memory of the night before but with blood on his clothes.  Too much blood that he cant’ explain. And he wants Nick to investigate what’s happened.  Even if he’s guilty of a crime of not, he wants to know.

That’s small time compared to Jimmy English’s case because a major witness has  just disappeared, and that sends Nick on his first plane trip to Vegas in the 80’s (an eye opener for him and us) in search of Micky T.  This section of the story proves to be exciting, suspenseful, bittersweet, and, as always, incredibly complex due to the emotions it pulls on and the plots threads its weaving.  Plus the character of Mickey who has  been a continuing element throughout the series becomes even more real here in his hopes and his true love, and failures.  How you end up feeling for this guy.

And while Nick is juggling both the Jimmy English case, Mickey,  there is the poor guy with short term amnesia to figure out.  Without police help because of their attitude toward poor blacks who also happen to be gay in Chicago in the 80’s.  Thornton realistically leads us through what it would feel like to live in those times and what those attitudes felt like reflected back at you off of a badge.

The courtroom drama was amazing.  Pants glued to the chair,  on tenterhooks waiting the next development, full of twists I didn’t see coming and neither did Nick.  The Jimmy English case finally comes to a close here with one might say is a “lucky” conclusion.  But really its all in the perception as Nick would tell you.

I haven’t mentioned much about Nick’s home life with Joseph.  It’s there.  Stymied a bit.  There’s a storm brewing and a heck of a cliffhanger in a most perfect of Marshall Thornton way’s.

What an incredible book.  I know, I know.  But it’s true and it earns it.  Heart worn, heart sore, and still Nick Nowak continues on.  I can’t get enough of this man and his stories.  The Sisyphus of Chicago mysteries and he has me hooked good.

Yes, I recommend Lucky Days but if you’re a newb, head to the first story and start there.  Don’t miss out on any part of the journey in front of you.  Read them in the order they are written.  Then Lucky Days.  Now onto the next one.

Cover art: Marshall Thornton

Sales Link:  Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 207 pages
Published January 13th 2017 by Kenmore Books
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesBoystown #9


Boystown Bundle 1 – 3 – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 A Time For Secrets – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 Murder Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 From The Ashes – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 Bloodlines – Amazon US | Amazon UK (ON SALE for 99c)
Book #8 The Lies That Bind – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #9 Lucky Days – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #10 Gifts Given – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #11 Hearts Desire – Amazon US | Amazon UK (PREORDER

A MelanieM Review: Smoke in the Mirror (Road to Blissville #5) by Aimee Nicole Walker


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Memphis Sullivan thought he was coming to Blissville to help his cousin out, but instead, he gained three meddlesome females, a tribe, and a permanent home. More than a year later, he owns a popular comic book and vinyl record store and doesn’t think his life could get any better. That all changes when the star of his favorite television show and bad-boy fantasies rides into town and spices up his vanilla world.

Lyric Willows’ decision to visit an old friend in Blissville will change his life in ways he never dreamed possible. The paranormal investigator is immediately drawn to the mysterious disappearance of the town’s founder in 1850 and rumors that his former home is haunted. More alluring to Lyric than the history of Bliss House is the immediate connection he feels to the adorably geeky owner of Vinyl and Villains, who also happens to be his friend’s cousin.

Lyric becomes Memphis’s houseguest when he decides to stay in town to conduct a paranormal investigation. Tight spaces lead to sexy encounters, and before long, ghosts aren’t the only things that go bump in the night. The more they unravel about Anthony Bliss’s disappearance, the more tangled in one another they become. How is it possible for two virtual strangers to feel like they’ve known each other for their entire lives? Was their love written in the stars, or is it nothing more than an illusion?

Smoke in the Mirror is the fifth book in the Road to Blissville series. Each book can be read as a standalone book or part of the series. This book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for adults 18 and older.

Smoke in the Mirror is a wonderful addition to the  Road to Blissville series by Aimee Nicole Walker.  Even if you haven’t been following the series, you get a real understanding of the town and the couples from the previous stories so you don’t feel as though you’re lost by not reading them.  But the warmth and joy that seems to lightly layer over the town and its inhabitants will surely send a “series newby” running back to pick up the books they’ve missed.

This is certainly a wonderful  romance story.  Not a slow burn by any means as the attraction between Lyric and Memphis flares red hot from the moment they meet, something that was forecast as being written in the stars.   Even though both  men have foresworn off love and relationships, the pull between them is tighter then the words that comes out of their lips after each encounter.  Its more about  what their bodies and hearts are doing and less what they are saying to each other.

If they would only listen to their dogs…

That would be adorable chihuahua and Great Dane Daisy who immediately got on like gang busters.  Yes, cute dogs too. Eventually, they talk.  After much incendiary sex.  And we and these oh so adorable men get the relationship and ending we have we waiting for.

There is a mystery involving two ghosts that gets settled quite happily and a wonderful HEA.

I wanted to know about about the mystery.  I didn’t get as much information there considering the big buildup but was fairly satisfied that we got some conclusion for the ghost at the end.

Yes, I just loved it.  The writing is sparkling, some of the scenes are laugh out loud hilarious (cue Big Bob), some of the baking made my mouth water, and Blisswille as always made me wish it was actually a place I could visit.  So if you are looking for a new romance, here is one I definitely recommend.

Cover art: Jay Aheer.  I love this cover.  That is Lyric Willows exactly.  Sexy, compelling, it pulled me right in.

Sales Links:     Amazon  |     Universal link:

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 214 pages
Published July 12th 2018 by Chasing Rainbows Press LLC
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesRoad to Blissville #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Blyd and Pearce by Kim Fielding


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I loved this fantasy adventure from the very creative mind of Kim Fielding and found it very difficult to put down once I became swept up into the adventures of this very unlikely—yet ultimately perfect for each other—couple.

Daveth Blyd has lived on the streets in the section of town known as the Low for most of his life. Poverty is a step up for Daveth and others in the Low. When he had a chance, he managed to earn a place in the Tangye city guard, though it wasn’t long before an accusation of theft cost him his job and his reputation. He’s now a PI, searching for missing children and wayward spouses.

Blyd meets Jory Pearce when he’s hired by Lord Uren to locate a family heirloom ring that Jory apparently stole. Jory is an entertainer—of various sorts. He’s a singer, an actor, and a whore. He’s also a thief, as he does indeed have the ring, but he’s got a story to tell that turns the whole search for the truth upside down. The good guys aren’t so good and the bad guys aren’t so bad. The story is an amazing, complex, entertaining adventure that I highly recommend.

One of my favorite scenes in the story took place in a very serious moment, when the men were attempting to warn Prince Clesek about a plot to assassinate him. Ms. Fielding added a scene outside the castle that completely cracked me up. Was her subtle message to not take life too seriously? I don’t know, but I do know it’s one of the reasons I love her work. She does inject humor in situations where characters are starting to get full of themselves, or at times when readers need a break from the tension. In this case, the timing was perfect.

The main reason this didn’t hit five stars for me is that I didn’t enjoy the dynamic between Blyd and Pearce, at first, as much as I did between some of her other fantasy characters like Ennek and Miner. I went into this story with high expectations—and that’s the author’s fault because she is so highly talented and has already given us memorable fantasies—including the Ennek Trilogy and Brute. There’s not as much romance—one on one couple time—in this as I thought there’d be. But it’s a slow-build, forever MM partnership that ends on a note that leads me to believe we will see more of these men in the future. And if or when we do, I will be first in line to read more of their adventures.


The cover by Tiferet Design captures the spirit of the story perfectly. It’s done in black and white and depicts a caped man, with a knife in each hand, standing in front of a tunnel in a dark rundown area. On the other side of the tunnel is bright light and beautiful castle-like buildings. The man’s knives have left a few splotches of blood on the ground – the only color to the cover. Very well nicely done, it’s great to see a cover that matches details of a story so well.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published July 24th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
Edition LanguageEnglish

AUDIO Blog Tour for The Eagle and the Fox (A Snowy Range Mystery) by Nya Rawlyns and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)



Book Title: The Eagle and the Fox (A Snowy Range Mystery)

Author: Nya Rawlyns

Publisher: Jade Horse Publishing

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Cover Artist: Dreams2Media

Add on Goodreads

Genre/s: Contemporary western, M/M romance, romantic suspense

Length: 8 hours and 39 mins/274 pages/93300 words

It is a standalone story.


Josiah Foxglove is given a second chance when he takes over his family’s spread in the shadow of the Snowy Range. A veteran of the Gulf War, he came back broken in body and spirit.

Marcus Colton buried his long-time lover and best friend three years ago. Lonely and still grieving, Marcus finds solace in protecting Petilune, a pretty girl with learning difficulties, who will surely become a victim of abuse and neglect without his help. But that doesn’t help him get through the long, dark nights.

When violence wracks the small community of Centurion, WY, it’s easy to place blame on Petilune’s mysterious new boyfriend, Ojibwe teen Kit Golden Eagle. It looks open and shut, but for Josiah and Marcus the facts simply don’t add up.

Something’s rotten in Centurion, something that smacks of a hate crime…

Buy Links

Audible US 

Audible UK 

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 


About the Author

Nya Rawlyns writes a variety of genres – suspense/mystery, contemporary western, romance, romantic comedy, women’s fiction, literary fiction and contemporary young adult fantasy.

A lifelong equestrienne, she has competed in dressage and distance riding. She lives in rural Pennsylvania with her daughter, horses, cats, and the hens from hell. She has a family of friends and supporters who provide not just inspiration but absolute belief in her characters and stories.

Social Media Links









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Release Blitz – Finding My Way Home ( Doyle Global Securities #2 ) by Kendel Duncan (excerpt)



Book Title: Finding My Way Home – Doyle Global Securities #2

Author:  Kendel Duncan 

Publisher: Dare Publishing & Design

Cover Artist:  Dara Nelson & Dan Skinner

Release Date: July 25, 2018

Genre/s:  Gay Romance, MM

Length: 53 000 words/230 pages

It is the second book in the series but can be read as a standalone.

Add on Goodreads    

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US   

Amazon UK 


“Have you ever been so lost that you couldn’t remember what home looked like, what it felt like?

So lost that home was a distant memory – a place that you never had hope of finding it again?

That’s how I felt, how I’d felt for years, for longer than I could remember.

Until I found you, Bas.

I just wish I could tell you that….

I’m coming.  I’m coming for you, Bas.  And I’m going to do my best to try….for you.”


For longer than he could remember Tenley ‘Ten’ Pinkerton had been lost.  Wandering this earth with no hope, no soul, no heart, no purpose.  The day the love of his life, Sawyer, had been brutally murdered was the day that everything beyond the basic elements of survival – like breathing and a beating heart – had been shut down.

Until him.

Sebastian ‘Bas’ Monroe.

Fucking Bas Monroe.

Somehow the man had wormed his way past Ten’s defenses, past the armor plates surrounding his heart, past the pain.  Somehow he’d gotten inside.

Ten wasn’t really sure how he felt about that.

But the day that Bas went missing?

Ten knew that he would die if he that’s what it came to in order to find Bas, in order to save him.

The question that remained:

Was he going to be saving Bas Monroe?  Or was he going to be saving himself?


Tenley ‘Ten’ Pinkerton stepped out onto the balcony of the hotel room.  For a brief moment, he glanced down at the pool twelve stories below and thought, I could make that.  I could jump, land in the pool and just fucking disappear. Leave my job, leave my home and leave this pull that fucking Bas has on me.

Just thinking Sebastian’s name brought a growl from his chest.  He hated thinking about the man, even though he couldn’t help doing it almost every moment of every day.  

Sebastian ‘Bas’ Monroe.

The asset that that Ten had been assigned to protect on his last assignment.

The lawyer who was assigned to help out the prosecution in the case against Jacob Knight.

The lawyer who had coached and guided Jacob’s two victims, Noah Pierce and Jesse Miller, so well that it was their testimony that sent the man to prison for life, where he belonged.

Bas Monroe….the man who had somehow, for a brief second, made Ten forget all about the man who owned his heart, who would always own his heart, his murdered boyfriend Sawyer.  

Sawyer would always be the love of Ten’s life, always.

Oh, he knew he’d have hook ups from time to time, he’d have to slake that itch.  But those would be with no-named men in the bathrooms and alleys behind clubs – blowjobs and hand jobs with random strangers when his own hand wasn’t enough.  But they would never, ever involve kissing.  And he would never lust after the person, never want them again. He would only need a willing hole.

But Bas, fucking Bas Monroe had to come along and somehow, someway, weave his way past Ten’s defenses.  He’d found a small crack in Ten’s armor, pulled it open and he’d snuck inside.

But it wasn’t their brief moment of passion that had Ten so pissed off.


It was the fact that Ten had wanted it.  Fuck, he’d desperately wanted it. He’d wanted it so bad that he couldn’t control himself.  And he’d kissed Bas.  No, that’s not exactly true. He’d devoured Bas’s mouth with his own.

And he’d liked it.  Even worse, he wanted it to happen again.  Sure, he’d pushed Bas away the second it had happened.  He’d turned, with the evidence of what they’d done covering his stomach, and he’d ran away.  

But he was honest enough, and angry enough, to know that running had been the last thing he’d wanted to do.  What he’d wanted to do was melt into Bas’s strong embrace and never leave.

Fucking Bas Monroe.

With a sigh, he forced his focus back to the task at hand.  He glanced to his left and right, noting that both balconies were a good fifteen feet away, not a jump that most people could make. And there weren’t balconies on the rooms above or below him.  He turned and walked back into the room, “We’re good,” he said with a nod to his partner on this protection detail, Dante.

About the Author

I was born and raised in the Bay Area of Northern California but have made my home in the Pacific Northwest for the last two decades.  My husband & I live on a small farm surrounded by chickens, goats, rabbits, a turkey, 5 dogs and a cat, in the shadow of stunning Mt Rainier.

With my grown children and grandchildren nearby, my life is always busy, happy and full of laughter.

I am an active Blogger, having created Love Unchained Book Reviews out of my love for all things MM books.

Owner of Dare Press – Offering quality, affordable services for indie authors, including:

Editing, Publishing, Book Cover Design

NY Literary Magazine Best Story Award 2017 Nominee

When I’m not on the phone with my best friend (which is at least once every day) – I am an avid, addicted reader.  It is my passion, my escape, my joy.
And I am most definitely a writer. The characters in my head are constantly demanding that their story be told.
But above all that – I am a human being. My passion for people is unparalleled, my firm belief in Love is Love unwavering, my hope that all can be accepted, undying. I do not write because I want to, I do it because I have to.  I write because these voices, these beautiful men, have chosen me to tell their stories – and how damn lucky am I for that?

As an author, I write under both my name and a pen name, with total transparency and honesty:

Dara Nelson is the author of:

Author of the wildly popular ‘Healing Hearts’ series (Love in the Aftermath, Love After Chaos, Love Worth Fighting For – and more to come soon)

“5 stars 5 stars  Amazing!!”

“Highly recommended”

“This is not your average romance story. It is so much more. A book that touched my heart.”

“OMG!!! This was probably one of the best books I’ve ever read.”

“This is the first time I’ve read anything from Dara Nelson, but it won’t be the last. I need more of her writing!”

Under the pen name Kendel Duncan:                                                                                         

Author of the popular & critically acclaimed ‘Black Ops Heroes’ series and the new top-selling ‘Doyle Global Securities’ series

“I can’t recommend Kendel Duncan or Black Ops Heroes ENOUGH!!!! OMG, everyone who likes strong vulnerable men will love these stories!!!”


“I love how you keep the story going and keep all the characters interesting. Can’t wait for the next book!”

“The emotions are so raw and just I don’t have the right words to express how amazing the books are. You have to read them to understand. I can’t wait for the next installment!!”

Social Media Links





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Release Blitz with Serving Him (The Retreat #1) by L.M. Somerton (excerpt)



Book Title: Serving Him – The Retreat #1

Author: L M Somerton

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Cover Artist: Cherith Vaughan

Genre/s: MM BDSM

Length: 57,670 words/151 pages

It is a standalone story 

Add on Goodreads 

Buy Links

Pride Publishing

Global Amazon link

Amazon US

Amazon UK


An escape from the real world can only ever be temporary.

Rowan Stanton knows he is submissive. He loves to look after people but the country hotel he works at can’t quite fulfill his need to serve. When he succeeds at getting a new role as houseboy at The Retreat, an exclusive BDSM hideaway in the New Forest, he believes it’s his dream job. Inexperienced in many ways, he soon realizes he’s not as prepared as he thought for the demands placed upon him.

Lorcan Wilder is young, rich and successful. He’s also haunted by nightmares and has sacrificed a decade to his business. Selling it gives him the freedom to explore his Dominant side and four weeks at The Retreat are the start of a new life. He doesn’t expect the young submissive employed to serve him will have such a profound effect on him. Exploring and pushing Rowan’s boundaries is exactly what Lorcan needs to separate himself from his past.

Lorcan makes full use of The Retreat’s facilities, from the genuine dungeon to the secret toys concealed in every room. He rediscovers his energy for life and gradually re-engages with the world. However, his efforts to compartmentalize the past ultimately fail and he comes to realize what he’s always known—that true submissives have an inner strength he can only envy.

By the end of his stay, Lorcan can’t let Rowan go, though he thinks he must. What will convince him that he’s allowed a happy ever after, and will he find the courage to accept it?


“Who’d have thought there would be so many applicants for a role where the job description includes nudity and a willingness to get your arse whipped?” Carey Hoffman leafed through the pile of paperwork in front of him. “This is a lot harder than recruiting for club servers.”

“Relax, Sir. It’s important we find the right people. The more applicants we get, the better chance we have of finding someone perfect.” Alistair Easton, Carey’s submissive, kneaded his Master’s shoulders. “Our first paying client deserves the best.”

“That’s so good.” The tension melted from Carey’s shoulders as Alistair loosened knotted muscles. “Maybe we should go upstairs for an hour so that you can relieve other parts of my anatomy.”

Alistair giggled. “Not a good idea if you want to invite people in for interviews this week. We have work to do.”

Scowling, Carey turned to his friend and bar manager Harry Croft. “What’s a Dom to do, Harry, when his sub takes charge?”

“Generally,” Harry replied, “I find it’s best to do what I’m told.” He ruffled his sub’s hair. Kai Smithson was seated on the floor between Harry’s legs. “You can always spank him later, but for now, Alistair is right. We have to get through all these applications this evening. We only have one post left to fill, don’t we?”

Alistair knelt at Carey’s side, hands folded in his lap, his serenity in complete contrast to the noise and activity going on all around them. The Underground was always busy, but Friday nights tended to be hectic. Carey had sequestered a quiet corner for their discussion. A low table held paperwork and drinks, and cushions softened the floor for Alistair’s knees and Kai’s backside. Carey still found it hard to concentrate. He blamed Alistair for looking so tempting in leather trousers and a sheer silk shirt. He imagined removing the shirt, exposing Alistair’s smooth skin inch by inch, then watching his lover wriggle out of the trousers…

“Carey?” Harry brought him out of his daydream.

“Sorry, I got a bit distracted. Where were we?”

“The last vacancy—if you can keep your mind on recruitment and off whatever it is you’re planning to do to Alistair?” He shared a conspiratorial grin.

“Oh, yes. Right. Well, I’m thankful Mr. Wilder’s requirements are not too onerous. Tor Halvorsen will act as executive chef. He cooked for Joe and Heath when they had their taster weekend with Olly and Aiden and their reviews of his cooking were first rate. Olly said, and I’m quoting here, that Tor’s double chocolate brownies were better than an orgasm after two days in chastity.”

Alistair and Kai both burst out laughing.

Harry rolled his eyes. “Olly would be proud. He can create chaos even when he’s hundreds of miles away. That’s two extra strokes for you tonight, young man.” He gave Kai’s hair a gentle tug. Kai sucked on his lower lip but his eyes sparkled and he rubbed his cheek against Harry’s thigh.

“Tor has recruited two kitchen assistants, both, I might add, stolen from here at The Underground,” Carey said. “As Mr. Wilder is traveling alone, Tor says that will be more than adequate to cover his stay and allow for days off for each of them. Tor intends to work through and take some time off in between clients. He’ll also take on training Benjy and Frank. Going forward, I think we should consider rotating the junior kitchen staff through The Retreat. Then they’ll all get experience of different kinds of catering.”

“That’s a great idea. At least they won’t be shocked by anything they see at The Retreat.” Harry grinned. “Right. Goran has sorted all the drink supplies, so Mr. Wilder won’t starve or go thirsty.” Goran was Harry’s very capable deputy bar manager. “He can always take a quick trip down there if Tor needs him for anything. It’s always possible that the client will want to throw a party while he’s staying. Goran’s already offered to run the bar for events like that.”

Carey nodded. “Excellent. Then we have Luke Redding as general manager. He’s ex-forces, like Tor.”

“The Retreat is going to be run like a military campaign,” Harry said. “Tell me about Luke. I know he’s a member here but not much else.”

“He’s a well-respected Dom. Kept up his membership even when he was overseas on active duty.”

“Well, you do give service personnel an excellent discount.”

“I do, and they deserve it. Whereas Tor was in the army, Luke is ex-Navy. Served fifteen years then took an honorable discharge to care for his father who died last year. Mother passed when he was a child so his dad brought him up. He told me at the interview that he gave himself to his career, then to his father, now it’s his time. He was very open. He doesn’t have to work for the money but needs a purpose. He’s a very experienced manager and won’t take shit from anyone. He’ll be perfect for mentoring the young men that will be working at The Retreat, as well as the contractors. Management of the house and garden staff as well as all the arrangements related to housekeeping and maintenance will sit with him, and if our guests want any training in a particular technique, Luke can either handle it himself or bring someone in from the club if he doesn’t feel qualified. He knows the area well too—he was based at Portsmouth for many years and the New Forest was a favorite daytrip destination.”

“I hope I’ll get to meet him one day,” Harry said. “I’m surprised I’ve never come across him here.”

“I’m sure you will. I intend to have post-stay debriefings with The Retreat’s management team here at the club.”

“Good idea. So, when you Skyped with Mr. Wilder…”

 “Lorcan. He prefers to be called Lorcan.”

“When you Skyped with Lorcan, did he have any special requirements for other staff?”

“I think he’s going to be a low maintenance client—he was reserved, but friendly. The stay is a personal reward for selling his business. From what I could make out, he’s done little else but work for many years. He’s had some training as a Dominant and has excellent references from a couple of clubs I know in the U.S. He wants to see whether immersion in the lifestyle is what he wants because, as he said, he thinks it is but he’s never had time to prove it to himself.”

“Sounds like he has his head in the right place.”

Nodding, Carey flicked through a few applications. “I’ve done a full background check. There was an incident in his late teens, which I won’t go into here because it shouldn’t cause any issues. It marks him as a survivor. He plays hard when he has the time but that isn’t often. He admits to a preference for blonds. Smaller than him and not too muscled.”

“How tall is he?” Harry asked.

“Six feet one.”

“That rules out three of these—all within an inch of that height. There are also several brunets and one redhead in here so I’ll put them aside. That still leaves six possibles.”

“Whoever we choose has to be prepared to be very flexible.” At Harry’s feet, Kai giggled. “Not that kind of flexible, brat,” Carey chided. “Lorcan wants one man to be his personal assistant, valet and submissive. He doesn’t want a lot of people around the place because his break is about getting some breathing space, so this man will be at his beck and call twenty-four seven. Experience isn’t needed. I think Lorcan wants someone he can mold to his requirements, so we’re looking for a relative innocent—but one who knows what he’s getting into.”

“And who understands the difference between furniture wax and candle wax.” Harry rolled his eyes. “Talk about mission impossible.”

“The housework will be light, just Lorcan’s bedroom and bathroom. The contracted cleaning service will handle the rest. We’ll need someone bright enough to be an effective assistant…”

“And who doesn’t mind taking notes naked, with a plug up his arse.” Harry laughed. “Sorry, I’m being facetious.”

“You may not be that far off the mark. Nudity and minimal dress are non-negotiable.”

“Well, that helps us narrow the field a bit more. Two of these applicants are house subs here. I know them both and I don’t think either of them could be called sweet and innocent—they’re a pair of brats. Of the remaining four, two have university degrees and one went to work straight from school but got very good grades at A level. The last one seems to have drifted from job to job but does have waiting experience.”

“Drop him for now and ask the other three to come in. When we have time, I want to see all the applicants we’ve rejected for this job in case they’d like us to hold their details for future opportunities. It would be nice to be able to offer clients a portfolio of staff to choose from rather than having to go through this process all the time. That way we can also broach the subject when we recruit staff for The Underground. Whoever we choose this time will be permanently employed, but The Retreat is fully booked for months. We’ll need to alternate between clients so that the houseboys can take some time off and that means we need to line up someone else for the next booking after Mr. Wilder. We can cover unexpected illness or, God forbid, walk-outs, with staff from the club in the meantime.” Carey caught Alistair’s eye. “What do you think, love?”

“The catalogue is a brilliant idea. I’d be happy to take pictures for it, but maybe you should ask some of the members what they think, too? You have an instant audience for research here.”

“You’re right, of course.” Carey surveyed his club. The Underground was his pride and joy and he fully intended to make The Retreat just as perfect. “I’ll leave the interview arrangements to you, Harry. Time for me to make sure my members are happy. I think the boss giving his sub a public spanking might go down well tonight, don’t you?”

“You know it will.”

At Carey’s side, Alistair shivered. Carey stroked his hair. “Would you like that, sweetheart?”

“If it makes you happy, Sir.” Alistair kept his eyes downcast but Carey could see he was smiling.

“Oh, it will, you can be sure of that and if you’re very, very good you might even get to come. Emphasis on the might.” Carey raised his glass. “A toast. Here’s to finding someone for Lorcan Wilder who lives up to our exacting standards.”

Harry pulled Kai onto his lap. He clinked his glass against Carey’s. “Bottoms up!” He avoided spilling his drink by the narrowest margin as Kai shook with laughter.

“They soon will be.” Carey chuckled while Alistair tried, unsuccessfully, to conceal a groan.

About the Author

LM lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.

She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.

LM is winner of the National Leather Association’s Pauline Reage Award for best novel and the 2016 Golden Flogger Award for best BDSM novel in the LGBT category. She has received multiple Honorable Mentions in the Rainbow Awards and won the Action and Adventure category of Divine Magazine’s Book Awards in 2015.

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