A MelanieM Review:The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The brilliant but brooding new doctor encounters Copper Point’s sunny nurse-next-door… and nothing can stand in the way of this romance.

Dr. Hong-Wei Wu has come to Copper Point, Wisconsin, after the pressures of a high-powered residency burned him out of his career before he started. Ashamed of letting his family down after all they’ve done for him, he plans to live a quiet life as a simple surgeon in this tiny northern town. His plans, however, don’t include his outgoing, kind, and attractive surgical nurse, Simon Lane.

Simon wasn’t ready for the new surgeon to be a handsome charmer who keeps asking him for help getting settled and who woos him with amazing Taiwanese dishes. There’s no question—Dr. Wu is flirting with him, and Simon is flirting back. The problem is, St. Ann’s has a strict no-dating policy between staff, which means their romance is off the table… unless they bend the rules.

But a romance that keeps them—literally—in the closet can’t lead to happy ever after. Simon doesn’t want to stay a secret, and Hong-Wei doesn’t want to keep himself removed from life, not anymore. To secure their happiness, they’ll have to change the administration’s mind. But what other secrets will they uncover along the way, about Copper Point… and about each other?

 

I found The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) by Heidi Cullinan a very sweet, heartwarming new contemporary romance and a wonderful start to a new series. As a long time fan of Cullinan’s stories and characters, I have enjoyed the many nuanced and layered portraits she’s delivered over the years.   With the start of this series and The Doctor’s Secret, I found in Hong-Wei another such fascinating and indelible character. Hong-Wei or  “Jack” has so many facets to him.  Driven perfectionist, competitor, humble and guilt ridden son and man in search of himself and a new future.  Also someone proud of his past and his culture as well as his talents as an exceptional doctor.  All of which comes through beautifully in Hong Wei the man and and the story.

The story is at its strongest when dealing with the medical aspects through Hong-Wei and the hospital.  Whether it’s through his dealings with the staff, his setting up his surgical team, his expectations, and finally all the events that occur that showcase exactly how brilliant Hong Wei truly is….these scenes and sections are a highlight and revelation into part of the hospital drama most people never see.  It felt real, unbelievably stressful, and heart pounding.

Also fascinating, Hong-Wei’s attachment to a local Chinese Restaurant, its owners (even though Hong Wei is from Taiwan) and the information about how the workers are shuffled from restaurant to restaurant, their isolation, etc.  Sometime else I was unfamiliar with.

As strong a character as Hong-Wei Wu was, the other half ot the main couple, Simon Lane, came across, imo, as the weak link here.  Yes, he was sweet, He loves his Asian romances, and is a great nurse.  But, he says he loves his town.  That’s the reason he never left yet you never get why he loves it.  Sure his parents and friends are there.  But I never got a real passion for the place out of Simon.  Funnily enough, that came from Hong-Wei.  He grows to feel grounded there, and the feeling of true love for St. Ann’s, what it could be, all the new friends he’s made, the very town itself?  All that passion and love for a location comes from Hong-Wei and not Simon, the very person glued to this town.  He also seems to lack the ability to stand up for himself for most of the story, being agreeable when Hong-Wei declares that he will make sure Simon is ‘safe”.  I never found his total passivity attractive.  Especially next to the character with so much depth and nuance that is Hong-Wei.

It’s even worse when Simon’s friends Owen and Jared have better chemistry with Hong-Wei as well.  I suspect those two (separately) wil each have their own romances in the series.  I   am looking forward to Owen’s especially.

It wrapped up perhaps a little too neatly and quickly for me with the hospital drama although the romance side was a nice touch.  I anticipate seeing more of the board drama play out in the future novels in this series.  I can’t wait to see which romance comes next in the series.  And perhaps more of this couple as well.  If you love Heidi Cullinan and contemporary romance, this is a story you will want to have on your list to read.

The cover by Kanaxa is eye catching. The model absolutely works for the character of Hong Wei and the design is simple yet elegant.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press | AmazonBarnes & Noble |

Book Details:

ebook, 250 pages
Expected publication: April 23rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
Original Title The Doctor’s Secret
ISBN 139781640808546
Edition Language English
Series Copper Point Medical #1
setting Wisconsin (United States)

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Dangerous Times by Isobelle Winter

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Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

This book starts out with a civil war started by King Taen by appropriating the lands of Lord Mavren, making him an enemy. Really there are huge ideological differences between the two and Mavren speaking out against what they see as issues in their society has lead to this. Lord General Aiomonni is the head of King Taen’s military and Lord Mavren’s previous lover. Mavren becomes King of their own rebel Catalyst forces. The reader is thrown into the mind of a Soldiercaste of the Augment Empire during a battle in which they are captured by the enemy. The Augment are a cybernetic species that need organic tissue for digestion, or a host body to assimilate. They are bipedal, yet insectile. This soldier becomes Nact of Quen and the reader will follow them as they raise up in the Catalyst army after their defection. When Nact and Aiomonni engage in battle beyond the charted galaxy to land on a hostile planet, their only hope of survival lies in cooperation, and maybe more.

I would recommend reading an excerpt to see if this book appeals to you. It is written with agender pronouns (ne/nem/nemself/nir). What makes this so compelling is that Nact’s POV shows what freedom and choice look like to someone who’s never had it. It takes six years for Nact to become a general, due to their skills, not because they were born into it. They channel their anger for how their caste was deprived and ill treated into battling King Taen’s forces. By the time they are sent to capture Aiomonni, my sympathies were engaged with them. But for all their privilege, Aiomonni is as much a captive of the system, of convention, as Nact was. The crash shows Aiomonni that their crew have skills beyond their caste. Alive on a populated planet named Colti, being Augment seems more important than their civil war. Showing Aiomonni’s POV makes them extremely sympathetic. At one point they have a common enemy, Plackart, who the author gives a moment of his own: a chance for the reason to see and understand who he is. (I used the he pronoun here although I have no idea if this species is agender also.) This would have been more poignant and heartbreaking than it is, if it had been explored more so my sympathies lay with him also, but that opportunity passes–it is an intellectual scene showing the psychology of his character rather than an emotional scene where I felt his pain and loss.

I feel like the whole book takes the first 25 percent to set-up until they crash land. Then, it gets really interesting. There are so many ethical issues raised throughout the book: the caste system, ruling by fear, being a parasitic race, acceptable behavior during war, what makes a person a person, the parameters of loyalty, etc. This is obviously not a traditional romance. Intimacy is earned by respect or allegiance, but there are layers to the intimacies they grant and even having larvae together doesn’t guarantee anything approximating love. There is never any doubt that these are alien creatures. The sex is completely alien. The sex scenes show aspects of their culture and personal characters as a normal part of life, however, at least for me, they weren’t terribly erotic. This book captures that forbidden feeling of wanting your political enemy whilst being stuck by duty of birth, oaths, and family obligations. This book is so intriguing because the characters are acting honorably–in their own fashion. Their temporary alliance for the greater good allows them to live in a bubble and indulge themselves, but it is temporary and the vanities of others await–continued war still awaits.

I would have liked to get to know some of the other passing characters more. At first I was not sure about the purpose of the character of Feylc, but they become a good foil and I realized it is something I’ve missed in other books as it’s an underutilized tool these days. Still, they are the only other Augment with a real personality here.

I’m not going to say this wasn’t sometimes a little difficult to fully picture, because it was. I’m not going to say the non-binary language wasn’t sometimes confusing (even having read many non-binary characters previously), because it did get awkward in places since the author still uses we and they. What I will say is that for me the effort was worth it. I liked that the world building was character focused and driven without all the extraneous descriptions of things that have no real bearing on the story. There is little attention placed on the various home worlds, which may annoy readers who expect and enjoy that type of detail. While there is tech involved, this is not hard science fiction in any way. The reader is told that things work, not how they work. The end wraps up in a satisfactory way with a (mostly) HEA, although it was startling to be narratively told, like a voice over, after living in the character’s heads for so long. I have to say I really enjoyed this book. If you like things that are different from the norm, give this a try.

The cover was designed by Aisha Akeju. I suppose it shows the ship going through the wormhole. It really isn’t intriguing enough for this book.

Book Details:
ebook, 214 pages
Published February 15th 2017 by Less Than Three Press
Original Title Dangerous Times
ISBN 1620049554 (ISBN13: 9781620049556)
Edition Language English
Literary Awards Rainbow Award for Best Transgender Debut & for Best Transgender – Sci-Fi / Futuristic, Paranormal Romance, Fantasy & Fantasy Romance (2017)

An Ali Release Day Review: Covet Thy Neighbor (Tucker Springs #4) by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

Welcome to Tucker Springs, Colorado, where sparks fly when opposites attract—but are some obstacles too great to overcome?

When tattoo artist Seth Wheeler meets his new neighbor, it’s like a revelation. Darren Romero is everything Seth wants in a man: hot, clever, single, and interested. For a minute he seems perfect. Then Darren drops the bomb: he moved to Tucker Springs to be a pastor at the New Light Church.

As a gay man whose parents threw him out, Seth has a strict policy of keeping believers at arm’s length for self-preservation. But Darren’s perseverance and the chemistry bubbling between them steadily wear down his defenses.

In a small town like Tucker Springs, Seth can’t avoid Darren—or how much he wants him. Which means he needs to decide what’s more important: protecting himself, or his feelings for his neighbor.

I’m not generally a fan of religion in my books but I am a fan of opposites attract so I thought I’d give this one a try. I generally enjoy this author’s book but this story ended up not really working for me.  
 
The two men have an immediate attraction and Darren is an aggressive pursuer. I struggled with finding this believable. Premarital sex is something that is a no-no for most religions and while I’m sure many religious people do not hold to this I felt like someone in the ministry would at least wait till they got to know their partner a bit. While I may be wrong in my ideas it was something I struggled to get past.  I also couldn’t buy that Darren didn’t have an issue with Seth not believing the same things as he did. The whole point of being in the ministry is to get others to believe what you do. I realize that my interactions with religion and religious people color my views of how they act but Darren was so far outside what I felt is realistic that I just could not get on board with his character.  I didn’t really warm up to either character. While I mentioned my issues with Darren above, I also found myself not really connecting with Seth either. 
 
I would have liked to see less sex and more relationship development. There were a lot of sex scenes and more than once I found myself skimming them. It was very insta-love which rarely works for me. 
 
Overall this was just ok for me. I think that I’m not the right audience for this story and it may work better for other readers.
 
Cover art;  The new updated cover is done by Reese Dante. I like the new cover well enough but honestly, I liked the old cover better. While it may be a bit outdated in style, I thought the models on the front did a great job representing the two mc’s.
Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon
Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 154 pages
Expected publication: May 3rd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press (first published March 23rd 2013)
ASINB07PPDB1MR
SeriesTucker Springs #4
Characters Seth Wheeler, Darren Romero
setting Tucker Springs, Colorado (United States)
Colorado (United States)

Literary Awards Lambda Literary Award Nominee for Gay Romance (2014)

An Alisa Review: Unimaginable by Iyana Jenna

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Callum Saxon wakes up to a totally different universe where all around him is water. Strangely he can breathe it as if it’s air. The bad thing is he can’t remember how he got there. He can’t remember himself, either.

Ainsley Carlisle is more than a man with long blond hair. He’s a unicorn shifter with secrets as widely stretched as the rainbow supposedly coming out of his rear. Ainsley won’t help Callum uncover who he is because Ainsley wants him to remember it himself.

In this new universe, Callum has to survive the creatures that live there, such as vampires, shifters, werewolves, you name it. But there’s more to Callum than meets the eye.

This book had so much potential but left me wanting.  There was not much explanation and what there was ended up being told to you not shown so there isn’t any connection to the story.  Callum is trying to understand this new world with Ainsley as his guide but all it does is confuse things more as we learn about how Callum came to be where he was.

I never really get how Callum & Ainsley ended up coming together other than Ainsley once again rescues Callum and apparently takes him back to earth.  And I was once again lost about why Ainsley was going back by himself.  I think this story really needed more fleshing out and length added to it in order to make sense.

I think the cover art by Written Ink Designs works okay for the story but while the unicorn is majectic on the cover we are led to believe that they are lower class in the story.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 14,675 words

Published: March 23, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781634868808

Edition Language: English

Heidi Cullinan on Writing Medical Romances and her new novel “The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) (guest post and excerpt)

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The Doctor’s Secret (Copper Point Medical #1) by Heidi Cullinan

Dreamspinner Press
Published April 23rd 2019
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Sales Links: Goodreads • Publisher • Audbile • Ripped Bodice • Barnes & Noble • Google Play Ebook • Google Play Audio • iTunes • Kobo (US) • Kobo (Canada) • Amazon (US) • Amazon (Canada) • Amazon (UK) • Powells

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Heidi Cullinan here today talking about writing medical romances, and her latest novel, The Doctor’s Secret! Welcome, Heidi!

 

 

Writing Medical Romances

Thanks so much for having me today! I’m here to talk about my latest novel and first installment in the Copper Point: Medical series, The Doctor’s Secret, available now from Dreamspinner Press.

I’ve always wanted to write a medical romance series. My husband has been a clinical pharmacist for years, and I know simply from dinner table conversation that hospital workplaces are full of enough conflict and drama to fill a publishing house. But my husband also started out at a small community hospital, a critical access hospital in fact, which meant there were some quirky things from his experience I was dying to include, at least in spirit.

It’s an interesting thing to be married to a hospital pharmacist. The most notable is that every time I’ve had medical care—childbirth, gallbladder surgery, emergency care, hysterectomy—I’ve done so at my husband’s place of work, meaning he knew everyone and exactly how to navigate the system to ensure I had the best care. Whenever I’ve needed a specialist, I simply turned to him and asked who was the one he trusted the most. When our daughter was born at the aforementioned critical access hospital, I was one of four mothers delivering—meaning they were full up—and because Anna’s labor was so long, everyone was curious about “Dan’s baby” and her birth was announced over the PA. But that also meant they gossiped when Anna was off the chart for height and not on it for weight as a nine-month-old, and our doctor got a lot of nosey people asking if “that Cullinan baby is okay.”

My daughter has no fear of hospitals—it’s the place where she went until her teen years meeting her father for dinner when he worked evenings or where we had to go to drop off something he needed or give him a ride home. The hospital also takes Dan away for many holidays—sick people need care every day of the year—and which frequently asks him to work overnights.

The greatest problem with writing medical romances was getting the medical details right, and for that I had the best beta reader in the world. Especially in this book I needed to ask him so many questions I started to feel like he needed a byline. The drawback of a pharmacist husband is knowing I wouldn’t be allowed to fudge anything. Watching medical shows with him can be aggravating: “That drug is only available IV, where are they getting a pill.” “That’s something they would have picked up right away.” “Completely implausible.” You get used to it. But I didn’t want to hear that about my own work, which meant we had a lot of conversations about illnesses and how to make them severe enough to be dramatic but not so much that the scene would be impacted. Gruelling stuff!

I always knew the first book would be doctor-nurse. But I also knew I wanted to include a doctor not born in the United States, because even in remote areas of the country, many doctors are not white and are naturalized citizens, especially from Asia. In my husband’s first place of employment, a GP and one of the surgeons were both originally from mainland China.  In fact, the ER doctor the night my one-year-old daughter got scratched by a cat near her eye and on her forehead was Dr. Lin, and that was when I learned he’d previously been a plastic surgeon. She barely has a scar, thanks to him.

I made Hong-Wei Taiwanese, though, because I wanted someone local to interview, and a woman my husband works with is a first-generation Taiwanese-American. Tracy decidedly affected this book and the depiction of Hong-Wei in a huge way, and I will be forever grateful to her. I learned so much more from talking with her than I did from any book, website, or even interviews with people online. There’s just nothing like listening to someone’s story face-to-face.

I hope you enjoy The Doctor’s Secret and the rest of the Copper Point books! Enjoy your stay at St. Ann’s Medical Center. The doctors will be sure to treat you right.

Blurb

The brilliant but brooding new doctor encounters Copper Point’s sunny nurse-next-door… and nothing can stand in the way of this romance.

Dr. Hong-Wei Wu has come to Copper Point, Wisconsin, after the pressures of a high-powered residency burned him out of his career before he started. Ashamed of letting his family down after all they’ve done for him, he plans to live a quiet life as a simple surgeon in this tiny northern town. His plans, however, don’t include his outgoing, kind, and attractive surgical nurse, Simon Lane.

Simon wasn’t ready for the new surgeon to be a handsome charmer who keeps asking him for help getting settled and who woos him with amazing Taiwanese dishes. There’s no question—Dr. Wu is flirting with him, and Simon is flirting back. The problem is, St. Ann’s has a strict no-dating policy between staff, which means their romance is off the table… unless they bend the rules.

But a romance that keeps them—literally—in the closet can’t lead to happy ever after. Simon doesn’t want to stay a secret, and Hong-Wei doesn’t want to keep himself removed from life, not anymore. To secure their happiness, they’ll have to change the administration’s mind. But what other secrets will they uncover along the way, about Copper Point… and about each other?

The Doctor’s Secret Excerpt :

WuHong-Wei.

The surgeon’s name rang in Simon’s head as he drove home after dropping Hong-Wei off at his condo. Wu Hong-Wei.All night Hong-Wei had spoken perfect English, but when he said his Taiwanese name, his accent came through, and Simon got a ridiculous thrill.

Which Simon reminded himself he shouldn’t have. Setting aside the fact that Dr. Wu—Hong-Wei—the new surgeon—was practically his boss, there was the new policy to bear in mind. Even so, Simon still floated as he parked the car and drifted up the path into the house. He shouldn’t think about the man that way, but for tonight at least, he would allow himself to dream.

Of course, he needed to be careful how he fantasized. Simon had two roommates, Owen Gagnon and Jared Kumpel, his friends from childhood who were also doctors at the hospital. They were also two of the biggest gossips in Copper Point.

Owen and Jared were home, Jared in the kitchen washing dishes, Owen sprawled in the overstuffed chair with one foot on the ottoman and one on the floor as he surfed his laptop. Owen glanced up over the top of his glasses as Simon came in.

“The prodigal returns.” Owen removed his glasses and shut his computer. “So, what’s the verdict on the new surgeon?”

Jared wiped his hands on a towel and waved Simon over. “Come get your dinner first. I held it in the oven for you.”

“Oh, sorry, I already ate.” Simon toed off his shoes and hung up his jacket, determined not to show any signs of embarrassment. If they saw weakness, they would have no mercy. “I took Dr. Wu somewhere because he was hungry.”

Owen rubbed his hands together. “Excellent. This means you got moredish on him. Come on. Spill. Is he an arrogant asshole? I mean, to a degree it’s a given. He’s a surgeon.”

Jared pulled Simon’s plate out of the oven and put the food into a storage container. “I’ve met decent surgeons.”

“Your definition of decent doesn’t count. Youare an arrogant asshole.” Owen gestured impatiently at Simon. “Out with it. What’s he like?”

Simon sat in the corner of the couch and drew his favorite afghan over his legs. How could he describe Hong-Wei without sounding ridiculous? “He’s a little reserved, though he warmed up after I talked to him for a bit.” Though he was slightly aloof in a way Simon hadn’t expected to be so tantalizing. “He didn’t want to go to a fancy restaurant. He wanted to go to a pub-style place.” Simon searched his brain for more information. “He has a sister. He just finished his residency.”

He told me his real name.

Jared glanced at Simon, glass and towel in his hand. “I still don’t know why someone would come to Copper Point from Baylor St. Luke’s. Either he’s terrible, or he’s crazy.”

“Not a chance he’s terrible.” Owen rested his elbow on the armrest and leaned on his hand. “Beckert has been running around bragging about his catch ever since the hire was official.”

Jared snorted. “He might have seen Bayloron the app and lost his common sense.”

Simon thought of Hong-Wei, of the cool, confident way he’d handled himself at the airport, how graceful his hands were when doing something as simple as navigating a fork. “I don’t think Dr. Wu is incompetent.”

“He’s crazy, then.” Jared turned back to the sink. “I guess I don’t care, as long as he gets his work done.”

“You haven’t told us much about what you thought of him, Simon.” Owen pushed his glasses higher and raised his eyebrows at Simon. “You’re being quite cagey, in fact.”

Simon deliberately didn’t meet Owen’s gaze. “I think he’s nice. I mean, obviously I don’t know him well. All I did was have dinner with him and drive him home. He was quiet in the car. He was on his phone for a while, and he slept a little.”

He’d seemed to flirt a few times, but Simon had probably imagined things. At any rate, he wasn’t sharing that.

About the Author

Author of over thirty novels, Midwest-native Heidi Cullinan writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. Heidi is a two-time RITA® finalist and her books have been recommended by Library Journal, USA Today, RT Magazine, and Publisher’s Weekly. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading novels and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more at heidicullinan.com.

Release Blitz for Match Grade (Criminal Delights: Assassins) by GB Gordon (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 156 pages
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Blurb
 

SOME MATCHES SPARK AN INFERNO


Eirik Haldurson is a hitman. Kidnapped at age five and cruelly trained by his captor, he is today one of the most sought-after contract killers alive. Emotional distance from his targets, brutally beaten into him until it became second nature, is now the only way he can function. Lately though, that distance has started to elude him.
And when a Colombian drug cartel contracts Eirik to take out ex-soldier-turned-vigilante, Matt Moreno, distance is suddenly as close as heat to fire. And all hell breaks loose.


This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.


Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

 
Excerpt
 

Match Grade — high precision firearms, ammunition, or other devices suitable for a competitive match

CHAPTER ONE
 

 

If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

 

 
-Sun Tzu





Eirik had been ready to close the contract yesterday, but no one should have to die in the rain. Today the sky was a bright blue, so the last thing the target would feel would be the sun on her face. Irrelevant.


He quickly checked his wardrobe in the mirror to make sure nothing was out of place. He’d picked the navy blue suit and coat. They were perfect to blend in with the hundreds of business people attending the conference. Or the thousands milling about on the plaza of the office building across the road. Ants. Point was, he would be neither well-dressed, nor shabby enough to be remembered by any one of them. Not to be remembered was the goal.


He pulled his shirt cuffs out below the hem of his jacket sleeves, then slipped his coat on and pocketed the micro syringe he’d filled earlier. The target would be walking across the plaza at 12:15. She was always on time. He liked that about her. There wasn’t much else he’d learned to like in the week he’d been studying her movements. She was pissy with baristas and servers, and never had the time of day for the porter in her building.


Focus. This wasn’t about likes; it was a contract, nothing personal.


Not liking her made it easier, though. Don’t think about targets as people. Gunnar’s cardinal rule. How was his brain always forgetting that?


He went over the plan in the elevator. Not because it was complicated or involved in any way, but simply because that was what he did. Good planning made for a smooth contract solution, and he liked smooth. Smooth kept him alive and out of prison.


As the doors opened, he assumed the slightly hunched posture that made his height less conspicuous, then melted into the crowd.


The lobby was packed with a busload of tourists hovering on small islands of luggage he maneuvered around, giving everyone as wide a berth as possible.


“Mr. Kennedy! Good morning! Mr. Kennedy?”


He was almost at the door before a tiny alarm went off in his brain and he remembered that he was Paul Kennedy this weekend, a trader from Butt-fuck, Indiana. Get with the program already, brain.
He turned back toward the reception desk with an apologetic smile and a tap against his temple. “Sorry, my mind was elsewhere.”


“No worries.” The receptionist handed him a note. “Your office called, Sir. They’re asking for a call back.”


“Thank you.” The office meant the client. And the client was not supposed to call the hotel unless it was an emergency. Eirik crumpled up the note and dropped it in his pocket as he got his phone out. There was a corner behind a planter, away from the tourists, that promised a little more quiet, and he made his way over as he dialled the number he’d memorized.


“Where the fuck are you?” the voice with the heavy Spanish accent said without greeting. “Is it done? What’s keeping you?”


“Having to call you back is keeping me,” he said quietly. “What’s the emergency?”


“Mierda. Call me immediately when you’re done.” The line went dead.


He inhaled a long breath, counted to ten, then slowly let it out. People who couldn’t stick to the plan were top of his shit-list. It doesn’t matter. It doesn’t change anything. Don’t get riled up. You have a job to do.


He checked his watch. 12:07. Eight minutes to rendezvous. He needed to get a move on. He wanted to be in place and have ample time to identify the target. There was a sweet spot just to the left of the plaza’s center where the stream of people was thickest between the planted area on the edge and the fountain in the middle. That was where he needed to be.


#


The sunshine was a welcome change from the raw, grey week that had led into October. And for once the Windy City was pleasantly calm. It meant he could choose his position without having to stay out of water spray. People would notice a man oblivious of getting soaked by a fountain. To be noticed meant to be remembered. You’re walking too tall, boy. An assassin has to be like a ghost–unseen and unheard.


Well, Gunnar was a ghost now. Eirik just wished his voice had died with the man. But it was always there, still as commanding now as it had been in life. Eirik was used to it reminding him of the technicalities of his job: trajectories, method, weather… Though lately it was displaying a disturbing fixation with Eirik’s frame of mind.


He kept his eyes on the entrance of the building over the rim of his phone. Standing with nothing to do would attract attention.


12:14–if she didn’t show today, he would try again tomorrow. Nope, there she was, hurrying across the plaza to the little cafe where she ate her lunch. Eirik kept the phone up and started walking.


Gunnar clutching at his throat with both hands as the blood spurted through his fingers.


The memory shockingly unexpected, and vivid enough to blind him. He shook his head like a man emerging from water to get rid of it.


Five steps to target. His free hand dove into his pocket and closed around the syringe, thumb on the shortened plunger. The micro needle barely registered with most people. She wouldn’t know anything was wrong until she was already sitting at her table, eating her lunch. And then it would be too late.


He walked straight into her. “Oh Jesus, I’m so sorry.” Both arms out to catch her, needle into the meaty part of the arm.


The boy losing his grip on the grocery bag when the shot rang out, oranges rolling everywhere. The father dropping to his knees, a red mark like a third eye between his brows, the back of the head disintegrating in a spray of debris.


“…you’re going, you dumb ox!” Her shrill insult brought him back. Shit, he couldn’t deal with memory flashes now. He needed his eyes and ears in the present, not the past.


“Sorry again. That was entirely my fault.”


You have to pay more attention, Rikki. Don’t read and walk at the same time.


Eirik barely stopped himself from clapping his hands over his ears to keep his mother’s voice out. More ghosts. But this one was more recent. And much more distracting. He didn’t have to fake his confusion, or how shaken he was.


“You’re darn right it was.” She shrugged his hands off and took a step away. “One of these days those stupid phones are going to kill someone.”


One of these days? He didn’t say that, though. Stood there, contrite without commenting. Without looking back at her. Trying to will his brain into compliance.


Finally she turned away. She would remember him, but it didn’t matter. She wouldn’t be around to answer questions.


He watched her enter the cafe, then pocketed his phone and the tiny syringe that was perfectly invisible in his palm.


His hand was shaking.


Why the fuck was his hand shaking?


With a glance around he assured himself that no one else was watching, then strode to the other end of the plaza. And further. He couldn’t remember where he’d planned to go after. All he could do was walk, walk away from the ghosts of the past, the shaking hands. Like a wounded animal, he was looking for a cave to hide out in until he was better. Because he would get better. Right?

 

G.B.Gordon worked as a packer, landscaper, waiter, and coach before going back to school to major in linguistics and, at 35, switch to less backbreaking monetary pursuits like translating, editing, and writing.


Having lived in various parts of the world, Gordon is now happily ensconced in suburban Ontario with the best of all husbands.

 

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Love Fantasy? Check out the Blog Tour for Unimaginable by Iyana Jenna (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: Unimaginable

Author: Iyana Jenna

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Genre/s: Fantasy, M/M Romance

Trope/s: shifters, vampire

Themes: drama

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length: 14 675 words/ 52 pages

The book is planned as part of a series but can be read as a standalone.

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Blurb

Callum Saxon wakes up to a totally different universe where all around him is water. Strangely he can breathe it as if it’s air. The bad thing is he can’t remember how he got there. He can’t remember himself, either.

Ainsley Carlisle is more than a man with long blond hair. He’s a unicorn shifter with secrets as widely stretched as the rainbow supposedly coming out of his rear. Ainsley won’t help Callum uncover who he is because Ainsley wants him to remember it himself.

In this new universe, Callum has to survive the creatures that live there, such as vampires, shifters, werewolves, you name it. But there’s more to Callum than meets the eye.

 

Buy Links

JMS Books

Amazon US

Amazon UK

BookStrand

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Excerpt

Callum wasn’t completely unaware of where he was going. He recognized the place as the kind of pub Ainsley had showed him earlier. He wasn’t sure how he was going to pay for his drinks but the thought of losing himself in alcohol was as big of enticement as his desire to erase his mind completely — if there was any to erase.

Callum blinked his eyes, adjusting to the dim light inside. The place was quiet, practically empty. Perhaps it was still quite early. It wasn’t unlike other pubs he frequented — ha, he remembered that piece of information. The only thing keeping this one apart from the ones he knew was the slow moving thick water around him. Callum just hoped he wouldn’t get sick like some time ago when he first shoveled food down into his stomach. He gazed straight at the bartender. Now what could he say to get a free drink …

“Hello, gorgeous.”

He looked up. A literal tall, dark, and handsome was looming over him. Callum wouldn’t call himself short but compared to this man? He was a midget.

“What are you doing alone in this place, baby doll? Where is your, ah, partner?”

“What do you mean?”

The stranger waved his hand. “You know, that blond bastard?”

So he knew he’d been going about with Ainsley.

“Come on,” the man said dismissively. “Two pretty creatures like you? You were both strolling around the town like the happiest couple in the realm, making everyone jealous.”

Callum sputtered. “Jealous? We’re not a couple and I’m not sure about the pretty creatures …” Talking about pretty, he himself couldn’t tear his gaze away from … what was his name?

“Who are you?” Callum’s voice was as weak as he was feeling at the moment.

The man closed the distance between them and Callum sniffed his cologne. It was a scent he’d never smelled before. It was a mix of their surroundings, like ocean breeze as well as the old woods, added with citrus aromas and a trace of musk underlying all of those. It was strong but not too overpoweringly so or suffocating. It was more like the flow of the ocean water, soothing and lulling, spellbinding.

“Is a name that important to you?”

Callum felt like he was coming back from a long slumber. He looked up from the man’s strong, sculpted jaw, which sat at his eye level.

“Uh …”

“What’s yours, l’ange?”

It took a beat and Callum realized the man just called him angel in French. So they spoke French here, too, Callum mused. He wondered what other languages they spoke.

“Callum. Callum Saxon.”

“Your name is as pretty as its owner.” He practically purred.

“How about you?”

To Callum’s surprise, the man withdrew a little to make a deep bow with one leg pulled back and a hand waving low.

“I am usually called Patrice Deniau. I believe that’s my real name though it’s been centuries and I honestly can’t remember in which period of time I was named that.”

Callum felt as if all the air in his lungs was sucked out. Centuries. Period of time. What was this man whose name sounded French, too — Patrice Deniau? A vampire?

A shudder ran down his spine. Patrice did look like a vampire with his tall, slender figure, sharp chin, dark hair, and a pair of intense blue eyes that easily bewitched Callum.

“I, uh, it’s a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Deniau.”

“Mister?” Patrice’s laughter was soft and lilting. “Unless you are to call me Sir or Master, Patrice will suffice.” He stroked Callum’s jaw with his long fingers.

Callum let out an involuntary moan. He knew he had to pull back, move away. But he couldn’t. Instead, he leaned in and his eyes shuttered closed. He practically purred.

“Yes, all right, Patrice.” It was Patrice for now. Later, he decided, he might change to Sir, even Master.

“Very well. Good Lord, you’re so gorgeous. Has anyone told you that?”

“Oh, yeah, I guess.” Amidst his foggy mind, Callum heard himself replying, not that he knew exactly what he had been asked.

“Really? Who was that, someone special?”

Callum nodded. “Yes.”

“Someone you loved or someone who loved you?”

“Both. Love.” Why past tense? “He still loves me.”

“As you deserve, someone as captivating as you. May I know — I believe it’s that Carlisle boy? Ainsley?”

Ainsley. Callum’s cheeks heated up as the name was mentioned. He’d definitely developed a certain infatuation with the man. But love? They had not even declared their feelings to each other. Declare, because Callum was certain their feelings were mutual. He shook his head slowly.

“No?” Patrice sounded surprised. “You’ve only been here for, what, two days, three days at the most. I can’t believe you’ve been fooling around, let alone falling in love.”

But of course he’d not been fooling around. He’d barely met other people aside from Ainsley and his mother. Yet it was neither of the two who he had on his mind.

Kevin Travers.

Callum blinked as a name suddenly flashed across his mind. He shook himself inwardly and took a deep breath. The name sounded familiar. It had to be familiar. Otherwise, why would it turn up out of the blue?

“What is it, my dear? You look ashen.”

Callum was suddenly out of breath, near hyperventilating. “He was … he is …”

“Yes?” Patrice’s hand crept up at the back of his head.

“I don’t remember but … but he was important to me. I just know it.” Patrice stroked his scalp with knowing fingers and it was all Callum could do to stop himself from moaning.

“Is he still important now?”

 

About the Author

I’m Iyana Jenna and you can call me Iyana. I like writing, romance, and man-love, so you’re mostly going to find my stories as m/m whether they are for adults or young adults. They are not going to be too heavy on explicit sex, though, as many say that my stories are considered sweet romance.

When I don’t write, I teach English to children, teens, and adults. I also work in the curriculum and materials department in a language institution. Among my responsibilities are writing books and tests.

 

Author Links

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of three ebooks from Iyana Jenna’s backlist.

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