A MelanieM Review: On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd

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Rating:  4.75 stars out of 5

They’ll do anything to save their children’s lives, even if it means working together.

Kera Montgomery is still mourning the sudden death of her husband, Morpheus, when her youngest son falls victim to a mysterious plague. With no medicinal cure, Kera must travel to the Long Lakes, where magical griffons capable of healing any ailment reside.

As an heiress unused to grueling travel, Kera struggles with the immense emotional and physical strain of her journey—one made more complex when she crosses paths with her husband’s former mistress, Aurora. Aurora’s daughter is afflicted with the same plague as Kera’s son, so despite their incendiary history, the two women agree to set aside their differences and travel together.

The road is fraught with dangers, both living and dead. Each night, old battlegrounds reanimate with ghosts who don’t know they’ve died, and murderous wraiths hunt for stray travelers caught out after dark. If Kera, Aurora, and their children are going to survive, they’ll need to confront the past that’s been haunting them since their journey began. And perhaps in the process, discover that old friends may not be as trustworthy as they once thought—and old enemies may become so much more.

On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd is such an unexpectedly deep, and emotionally rich journey.  Not of one woman, although Kera Montgomery is the main character who undergoes the most personal growth and development.  So too does the woman who starts out as her adversary and the source of so much of her pain,Aurora., Kera’s deceased husband’s’ ex-mistress.

The writing and characterizations in this story are simply brilliant. Told from the perspective of the “Widow Montgomery”, she is at moments controlled, raw, open, distraught, and as the story moves forward comes a woman of strength, determination, and incredible bravery.  Someone able to go forward and love again, building a future for herself, others and more. But when it starts out she is a woman overwhelmed by the deceit of her husband, buried in grief by his loss, mired down by the weight of responsibility for the huge brood of children she has and and lack of control over his   own future which seems lay in the hands of her father and the bankers of the town which want to pressure her into selling them her home, Ivory Gates.  She’s barely  coping and we are made to feel every tear, every throbbing pressure headache, every lost to depression episode Keri is feeling.

Then the deadly sickness that is sweeping the town invaded her home and her smallest child falls critically ill.  And again, we are in Kera’s heart and head that just as we don’t believe this  woman can stand any further pain, humiliation, or despair, now her youngest child is going to die.  And we are weeping with her.   And raging with her over her feelings of inadequacy and helplessness and the anticipation of yet another crushing deep loss.

It’s rare that I get pulled so fully and deeply into such a character as Kera Montgomery because of, I suppose, her state and, like all others, outward impression of her at the beginning.  Kera inhabits a rigid society that gives women little choice as to their roles in life.  Nice women in society are wives and mothers.  The men manage things, money, estages, society,  and wars. When Kera’s husband, Mori dies in a duel disgraced, he leaves her a widow of 7 children and a large estate she never wanted, Ivory Gates, teetering with looming debts and no pension of her husband’s to use as income.  Bankers are at her door and no one is asking her what she wants to do but her father instead.    She’s feeling invisible, emotionally battered, once more in mourning and feeling betrayed by a husband she loved who never seemed to think about the consequences of his actions.

Grief, helplessness and depression have mired this woman down until her youngest son is struck down and will soon die if nothing is done. It’s that desperation that is the impetus for Kera to finally act, against society and for herself and her son.

To save him she must find a Griffin’s feather and they exist only in one part of the territory.  In the cruelest of ironies, the first person she encounters on the road is her husband’s mistress who’s daughter is critically ill with the same sickness.

The journey then becomes this incredible saga  of multiple complex story threads, magic, and redemption.  Kera must learn to get past her hatred of Aurora, her pain and need for understanding about the affair, there’s forgiveness and personal growth, and so much more than this review can begin to describe.  Really, these women are beyond amazing as is their road to saving their children and finding a new future together.

It is labeled as F/F but the heat level is low, limited to kissing and off scene sex that is not described.

If I had any issues its that it ended a little too pat but what came before was just too magnificent for me to really quibble about that.  The writing and characterizations are just that outstanding.

Honestly, if you love fantasy and some of the best womens characterizations I’ve read this year, pick up On the Subject of Griffons by Lindsey Byrd.  I highly recommend it.  It’s just a stunner of a story!

Cover art: L.C. Chase.  The cover is a little dark and it does fit parts of the story but it could easily be a contemporary fantasy which this is not.

Sales Links: Riptide Publishing | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 316 pages
Published May 27th 2019 by Riptide Publishing
Original Title On the Subject of Griffons
ISBN 139781626498822
Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: The Little Things by Jay Northcote and Matthew Lloyd Davies (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

A different sort of story from Jay Northcote than I am used to, the early parts of this book deal with the relationship between Joel and his three-year-old daughter, Evie, and her mother Clare. Clare and Joel were friends when younger, and when one drunken experiment too many led to pregnancy, Joel agreed to joint custody. There was no need to discuss marriage because Joel is gay and not interested in more with Clare. In fact, as the story opens, he and his young boyfriend Dan are the primary focus when Evie is not around. It’s evident that Dan is not the love of Joel’s life, as Joel is undisturbed by Dan’s side sexual encounters, but quite a bit of page time is devoted to the period in which they are together. Eventually, Joel and Dan lose interest in each other and the relationship fades.

I really thought we’d never get to a point where Joel gets involved with the second MC of the story—Liam, a nurse at the hospital where Clare is taken after a tragic accident leaves Joel with permanent custody of his daughter. Though they met the night of the accident, it’s ages before the two start dating, and well past the time Joel breaks up with Dan. The latter segment of the story involves not only dealing with Joel’s grief but also being with Liam, flirting, dating, breaking up, and then finally finding something more lasting. It may have been because I listened via audio, but I never really got invested in Joel, never mind in both of the men he dates in the story. This felt like more of a family drama with his parental relationship with Evie as the primary focus and much less about romance.

This is an audio review so a word about the narration: I generally enjoy this narrator, Matthew Lloyd Davies, but this time his reading was a bit stilted and made the story sound like he was reading from a children’s book. Granted, it’s possible it was the way the book was written, but in either event, it was not an exciting audio so I don’t recommend the story in audio format.

The cover by Garrett Leigh @Black Jazz Design is a black, white, and gray photo of a young man in a thinking pose, his head in his hand. It’s okay, but the dull tone is not something that would attract viewers.

Sales Links:  Amazon Audible

Audio Book Details:

Length: 7 hours and 30 minutes
Narrator: Matthew Lloyd Davies

Audible Audio
Published April 17th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press (first published November 21st 2013)
Original TitleThe Little Things
ASINB00WA8Q55E
Edition Language English

A VVivacious Review: Want Me (Extracurricular Activities #5) by Neve Wilder

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Rating: 4.5 Stars out of 5

Nate gets caught in the act by his roommate, Eric and things become really awkward because not only does Eric catch him in the act, Nate proceeds to blow his load shortly after. Now, Nate is terrified of what Eric might think of him because as he comes to realise he doesn’t really know Eric all that well. But when Eric shrugs it off and offers to help Nate on his Calculus test, Nate has no idea what his assent is about to start.

This story was brilliant. It was so amazing. I really loved it. The writing is so good. If I had to describe any writing as poetic this would be it for me. Some of the words that were written were so visceral.

“He occasionally came out with all of us, but I didn’t know a lot about him beyond that he was majoring in structural engineering. And currently minoring in confusing my dick.”

Nate is an amazing narrator. His vulnerabilities are so raw that you can feel them to the extent that you can experience them. The writing was just that good. Nate is like flayed open in front of our eyes and to take this journey with him was an experience unlike any other.

“Four whole days of Eric. Boy if that didn’t feel like some test sprung last second by the universe. It made the calculus exam I’d just completed feel like a joke in comparison. Formulas and theorems I could memorize. But Eric, he was a philosophy all his own, and there were no shortcuts to solving the riddle of him.”

Eric was an amazing counter to Nate. While Nate is an open book, we know next to nothing about Eric but what I loved about this story was that the author showed us who Eric was as a person even with first-person blinders on. At the end of the story, I was not left frustrated in my want to know Eric.

““Nate.”
There was something so finite about the way he said my name. Crazy how he could give something I’d heard all my life new worlds of meaning just by his inflection.”

Eric and Nate together are explosive. These to come together suddenly almost violently and it’s so bright it is almost like an explosion. I loved these two together and who they become when they are with each other. The sex that these two have is hot and despite the fact that these two have a lot of sex somehow it was never boring. It felt like every moment that these two spent together was building towards something.

I realise that this book is a series of shorts that were realised as a serial on the author’s website with each short serving as an episode. I feel like the format really worked for the story because these episodes made for some dense story-telling that was fulfilling but still left you wanting more and I can see the appeal of having these delicious morsels being consumed slowly with great delight but I am so happy I got to read them in one go because the wait might also have turned out to be unbearable. The reason why the origin is of significance is that the story really feels like it’s over with the sixth episode and hence the seventh “bonus” episode felt a tad repetitive. I can see the appeal it would hold for people who were getting starved for Nate and Eric after finishing the six episodes but as you read them in one go you can’t help feeling that the story was getting stretched out a little, but I do realise that the bonus would be truly special for people who have followed Nate and Eric’s story every step of the way.

We get a lot of side characters and I definitely know that there is some story between Jesse and Mark that we might get to see in the future. Fingers crossed.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I loved Nate and Eric so much that I literally couldn’t stop reading and I was feeling very naughty when I was ignoring certain important work to get my fill of these two but it was so worth it.

In the scheme of a lifetime, maybe it’d be a small thing. It should be a small thing. In a lifetime, there’d be other triumphs, other regrets, other inevitabilities. My parents aging and dying, career pitfalls and upswings. That moment in the chapter room tonight should’ve been a blip, but it felt huge.

Let me just repeat what I said – I loved it!

Cover Art by Neve Wilder, the author itself. The cover is amazing, I love the rather unique combination of the violets with the indigos and the almost sea-green of the title text.

Sales Links:

Amazon US: http://bit.ly/WantMeNeveWilder

Amazon UK: http://bit.ly/WantMeNeveWilder_UK

Book Details:

ebook
Published February 23rd 2019
Original TitleWant Me
Edition Language English
Series Extracurricular Activities #5

 

A Lucy Review: Third Time’s the Charm (Boston Seasons #1) by K. Evan Coles

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Sometimes you have to start over to get love right.

Luke Ryan’s life is too chaotic for romance, what with running his business and being the legal guardian to his ten-year-old niece, but he’s hopeful he’ll find the right man.

Trauma surgeon Finn Thomason recently relocated from Chicago to Boston, where his focus on medicine leaves him little space for a personal life. Making a commitment to find a better work-life balance, Finn hopes he’ll also find a relationship.

Caught in an evening rainstorm, Luke shelters under a sidewalk awning…and encounters a handsome stranger. The two strike up a conversation and Finn offers to walk Luke under his oversized umbrella. Charmed, Luke accepts and asks Finn out for coffee in thanks.

Luke and Finn quickly grow close, but, as the summer draws to an end, Luke struggles to keep his connection with Finn while Finn tries to come to terms with caring for a man whose attention is pulled in many directions. Both men are scrambling to get it right, but only time will tell if they’ll learn there is more than enough room in their hearts to go around.

This is definitely a character driven story.  There is no great misunderstanding that could have been solved with a short conversation between the two MC, no angst for angst sake, no random plot lines to make the story move.  Instead, what we get is Luke and Finn, two adult men who have busy schedules and busy lives who interact as, well, adult men.  Add in that Luke is raising his ten-year-old niece, Ella, and it’s even more real life complicated.  Finn’s job as a trauma surgeon leaves little time for a social life and a lot of that limited time he’s tired.  These two are facing a lot of the issues most of us face in the real world.

I have to take a minute to talk about Ella.  She’s been abandoned by her mother and moved from her hometown to live with uncle Luke and her dad.  Since dad is in the military and is deployed for long stretches, she has uncle Luke.  Ellie talks and thinks like a ten-year-old, not like a mini-adult.  Her fears about being forgotten or overlooked felt true and her bad jokes did as well.  I liked Ellie very much.

I really appreciated how they wanted to make sure of themselves before getting Ella involved. “I’ve never dated a man with a child before, and I’m not exactly sure how.  I’d really love to get to know you, Luke, before we start pulling in family.”  That seemed such a mature thing and so often we don’t get that in books.  I did roll my eyes that Finn felt all put out that Luke hadn’t yet told him about Ella on their first real date.  They shared one face to face conversation under an umbrella, how much time was there!   

We also get to meet some awesome side characters.  Simon and Gillie, Luke’s business partners, are great friends (Pickle, adorable) and they have his back.  Same goes for Paul and Mick with Finn. 

These guys have to work for their relationship and how to make everything fit.  There is a little bit of an issue towards the end but this also is solved with maturity.  I liked this a lot as a well written story that could happen to anyone.

Cover art showing Finn and Luke in the rain under the umbrella is absolutely adorable and perfectly fits this book.

Buy Links

Pride Publishing

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Book Details:

ebook, 262 pages
Published May 28th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN139781786517494
Edition LanguageEnglish
URLhttps://www.pride-publishing.com/book/third-times-the-charm
SeriesBoston Seasons #1

Jeff Adams on Writing a Teen on the Run in “Netminder (Codename: Winger #4)” (guest post, excerpt and giveaway)

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Netminder (Codename: Winger #4) by Jeff Adams

Harmony Ink Press
Published May 28th 2019
Cover Artist: Aaron Anderson

Buy Links:

Harmony Ink Press |  Amazon |  Barnes & Noble |  Google Play  | iBooks  |  Kobo 

Jeff Adams on Writing a Teen on the Run in “Netminder (Codename: Winger #4)”

High school hockey player/computer genius/covert agent Theo Reese has been through a lot in the Codename: Winger series—from going on his first field mission, being injured in the line of duty and wondering who he can trust. In Netminder, the final book in the series, he’s forced to institute emergency protocols that he and his parents never thought they’d use.

He ends up on the run and cutoff.

Writing Theo on the run was interesting. He’s an agent with limited experience who has to be careful with every move because he has no idea what might happen. At the same time, he’s needs to find shelter for the night where he can try to figure out his next move. Of course he’s also a teenager without all the experience of an adult agent so he must work to keep his emotions in check.

The on-the-run element makes Netminder the most action packed installment of the series. Theo’s on a mission from the very start of the book—even if he doesn’t realize immediately what that mission actually is.

If you’ve been reading the series, I hope you find the conclusion satisfying. If you’re considering starting the series it’s a great time because Tracker Hacker, which is book one, is on sale during June 2019 for 99cents for the ebook. You’ll find that deal at all ebook outlets.

Meanwhile, here’s an excerpt that features Theo attempting to get a hotel room just a few hours after he took off from home on his bike.

Excerpt

The hotel looked decent. Surprisingly, it had a bike rack near the front door, which was even under an overhang. Now I wouldn’t have to talk them into allowing me to bring the bike to the room, so it didn’t get further soaked.

I took off the helmet and hung it off the handlebars. Looking around, I tried to take in everything as I ran my hand through my hair to dry it out as best I could. I pulled the lock from my pack and secured the bike.

Putting on my best confident look, I slung the pack over one shoulder, took my helmet in hand, and went for the door. The lobby was warm and made me shudder. I hadn’t realized how cold I’d become.

“Good evening, how can I—” The woman at the front desk stopped short as she looked up and saw my disheveled state. “Goodness. You got caught out in it. How can I help you? Checking in?”

She looked unsure, but at least she wasn’t telling me to get out as I dripped on the tiled floor. “I hope you’ve got a room. I was out cycling, trying to beat the storm and failed.”

I tried not to let my teeth chatter and sound like it was normal for someone to be on a bike on a night like this as if they were headed somewhere even farther away. It didn’t help that I looked my age. Some of my classmates could easily pass as college age, but I looked like a high schooler. Usually I didn’t care, but tonight I needed to sell being older.

“I have some rooms available, yes.” She continued to sound unsure. “I’m sorry, but I have to ask, are you over eighteen? I can’t give a room to a minor.”

I smiled, wanting it to look like I got this all the time. “Oh, yes, of course. Let me get you my ID and credit card.”

Dropping my backpack to the floor so it would only add water to the existing puddle, I retrieved the wallet with my fake driver’s license and the cards. The Massachusetts driver’s license identified me as Jason Robert Karr, age eighteen, along with a MasterCard that would get me through this transaction. Before I stood I slipped my regular wallet into the pack since I didn’t know when I’d be Theo Reese again.

I handed over the cards.

She studied them and then smiled apologetically as if sorry for doubting. “Do you have any room preferences, Mr. Karr?”

“Anything with a hot shower is fine.”

She nodded and clicked away on her keyboard. “Checking out in the morning?”

I hadn’t considered that. If I stayed here, I’d have a base of operations and Wi-Fi. If I wanted to get farther from Boston, I should arrange a new ID. Renting a car was tough if you were under twenty-five. I had to figure that out tonight.

“Two days, please.”

She studied her screen. “We can accommodate that.” She typed more, talking as she went. “Are you on a bike trip or something? I saw you ride up.” She gestured at the doors where my bike was visible.

“Yeah.” I wasn’t going to debate the cover she created for me. “It’s been great. Until tonight.”

She smiled and nodded as she ran the card key over the device that coded it for my room.

“You’re all set. Second floor, room two twenty-five. Elevators are just down the hall on your right. We have a continental breakfast served from six to nine. If you need anything tonight, there are vending machines on each floor and there are a couple of places that deliver as well. Can I do anything else for you?”

“Is there a laundry room? It’d be great to dry these things out.” I gestured at my wet clothes.

“Oh yes, of course. On the third floor in the corner.” She pointed. “If you’ve got some cash, I’ll give you some quarters.”

I dug five dollars out of my wallet and traded it.

“Thank you. I wouldn’t have thought of that right off.” She smiled again. I guess somehow I’d charmed her. “Thanks so much for your help.”

Blurb

After a summer that was nothing like he’d planned, teenage secret agent Theo Reese is back to school and to work with Tactical Operational Support’s IT department. His world turns upside down arriving home from hockey practice to a major security breach.

On the run, he soon discovers the TOS network is down and he’s cut off.

As he uses his unique skills to find out what’s happened, Theo discovers the evil agency Blackbird is responsible. A nemesis from Theo’s first field mission is out for him and will stop at nothing to force Theo to help Blackbird realize their goal of taking global control of the internet.

Getting help from some unexpected sources, Theo must stop the internet takeover while trying to keep those closest to him safe.

Author Bio:

Jeff Adams has written stories since he was in middle school and became a published author in 2009 when his first short stories were published. He writes both gay romance and LGBTQ young adult fiction…and there’s usually a hockey player at the center of the story.

Jeff lives in northern California with his husband of more than twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance.

He also loves to read, but there isn’t enough space to list out his favorite books.

Jeff is the co-host of the Big Gay Fiction Podcast, a weekly show devoted to gay romance as well as pop culture. New episodes come out every Monday at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.

Learn more about jeff at JeffAdamsWrites.com.

Giveaway

Tell me your favorite book or movie featuring an extraordinary teenager? Leave a comment before end of the day on June 5. Two commenters, picked from random, will win an ebook copy of a Codename: Winger book of their choice.

 

Its Meet Cute and True Love on the Blog Tour for Third Time’s the Charm (Boston Seasons #1) by K. Evan Coles (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Third Time’s the Charm (Boston Seasons, Book 1)

Author: K. Evan Coles

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Erotic Romance

Trope/s: Hurt/Comfort, KidFic, True Love, Meet Cute

Themes: Family/Parenting. Friendship, Child Abandonment

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 68,000 words

Release Date: May 28, 2019      

This is book number one in a series. It can also stand as its own story.

Add on Goodreads 

 

 

Blurb

Luke Ryan’s life is too chaotic for romance, what with running his business and being the legal guardian to his ten-year-old niece, but he’s hopeful he’ll find the right man.

Trauma surgeon Finn Thomason recently relocated from Chicago to Boston, where his focus on medicine leaves him little space for a personal life. Making a commitment to find a better work-life balance, Finn hopes he’ll also find a relationship.

Caught in an evening rainstorm, Luke shelters under a sidewalk awning…and encounters a handsome stranger. The two strike up a conversation and Finn offers to walk Luke under his oversized umbrella. Charmed, Luke accepts and asks Finn out for coffee in thanks.

Luke and Finn quickly grow close, but, as the summer draws to an end, Luke struggles to keep his connection with Finn while Finn tries to come to terms with caring for a man whose attention is pulled in many directions. Both men are scrambling to get it right, but only time will tell if they’ll learn there is more than enough room in their hearts to go around.

 

Buy Links

Pride Publishing

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

 

Excerpt

“Hey, Luke, I’m going to Starbucks to buy coffee for everyone. You want?”

Luke Ryan stared at the code on his computer monitors and nodded absently. “Sure.”

“Okay. Grab your stuff and come with me.”

Luke blinked. “What do you need me for?” He turned away from the monitors and faced his best friend and business partner, Simon Martin.

Simon stood and eyed Luke across their shared office. “To help me schlep back the orders.”

“Ugh.” It was nearly two p.m. and Luke’s concentration was flagging. As much as he wanted to keep working, fresh coffee sounded wonderful. The idea of going to fetch it, however, not so much. He stood and picked up his wallet and phone from his desk. “We wouldn’t be having this conversation if you’d let me buy a new coffeemaker.”

“I said I’d buy it, didn’t I?”

“Yes, you said that two weeks ago. And here we are, making the trek to Starbucks once again.”

Simon sighed at Luke’s grumbling. “Oh, goodness. I’ll buy one this weekend, I promise. In the meantime, you could stand to go outside for a few minutes. Your ass has been bolted to that chair all day. You didn’t even break for lunch.”

“Yes, I did.”

“You ate a plastic squeeze tube filled with something green.”

“It was yogurt,” Luke said. “I bought a box of mixed flavor tubes but Ella doesn’t like lime, so they’re all mine.”

Simon grimaced. “That sounds appalling. Serves you right for feeding that girl junk.”

Luke chuckled as they started for the door. His niece, Ella, was ten years old and particular about what she ate. Luke had been stuck eating food she’d rejected before, but he didn’t mind—weird foods came with the territory of raising children. Or helping to raise them, anyway, as Luke had been helping his brother, Peter, do for the past several years, ever since Peter’s wife had walked out on her family and Peter had moved Ella from the Marine base in Virginia back to Boston and into Luke’s Back Bay apartment.

Once outside, Luke and Simon walked a block and a half to Winter Street, navigating around shoppers and tourists. The line at Starbucks stretched nearly out of the door, and they stepped up to its end while Luke read over the orders his coworkers had scribbled on a scrap of paper.

“I don’t know what this says.” He pointed at one messy line. “This looks like Klingon.”

Simon squinted. “You would know, I suppose. I’m fairly sure everyone ordered cold brew, by the way. That’s all those hipster punks drink anyway.”

Luke laughed. “Good point. Gillian wants an almond milk Macchiato, though.” Gillian Vasquez was the third partner in their software development business. Petite, red-haired and whip-smart, her easygoing personality provided an excellent foil for Simon’s brashness and Luke’s hyperfocus. Gillian kept Simon and Luke in line and they knew it.

“Is she still doing the dairy-free thing?” Simon asked.

“I’m not sure. I think she just likes almond milk, to be honest. Ella’s the same.”

“That doesn’t make those bowls of sugar cereal you feed her any healthier, you know.”

Luke rolled his eyes. He’d never understood why kids’ cereals got such a bad rap. Beyond the high sugar content and their dubious nutritional value, that was.

“I found a recipe for Cap’n Crunch cookies,” he said. “I was thinking Ella and I could make them over the weekend.” He snorted with laughter at Simon’s obvious disgust.

“Where on earth would you find such a thing?”

“Pinterest. It’s loaded with all kinds of questionable recipes.”

“Oh, Pickle.” Simon made a sympathetic noise. “This only underscores what I’ve been telling you for months—you need to get out more.”

Luke winced. “Please don’t call me Pickle in public.” He glanced around, hoping no one had overheard the ridiculous nickname, and met the gaze of a dark-haired guy standing behind them.

Well, hello there.

Luke flashed a grin and the guy blinked, clearly surprised. He offered Luke a shy half-smile of his own just before the line shifted.

Luke faced forward. “You know I don’t have time to go out,” he said to Simon. “Even if I did, the men I’d meet would take one look at Ella and run for the hills.”

“Surely not every man you meet is averse to the idea of family.” Simon frowned. “I like children. Or Ella, at least.”

“Yes, but you and I are not dating.”

“Not since I kicked you to the curb a decade ago, true.” He smiled at Luke’s laughter. “Still, I can’t imagine anyone you meet not being charmed by Ella. She’s loveable even when she’s being difficult.”

They stepped forward as the line moved again. Luke hazarded another glance back and felt a pang of disappointment to find the cute guy talking on his phone. He met Luke’s eyes again, however, and Luke smothered a curse when Simon nudged him with his elbow.

“Ella likes you, so of course you think she’s fun,” Luke said. “Not everyone thinks the way you do or wants to stick around while I fill in for her dad, though.”

“Are you so sure?” Simon asked.

“I’m still single, am I not?”

“Yes, though I confess I don’t know why. It’s not because you’re lacking in looks and your personality is certainly adequate.”

“Nice.” Luke shrugged off both the compliment and the tease. He knew he was easy to look at. He was tall and fit with a heart-shaped face and gray-green eyes, and his friends joked he couldn’t take a bad photo. Luke didn’t suffer for lack of attention from men. Keeping a man’s interest presented the real challenge these days, and that had a lot to do with the fact that he was taking care of a young child.

“I’m thirty-two years old,” he said. “The men I meet who want children are either already parents or in committed relationships and headed in that direction.”

“This is why you need to meet new men,” Simon replied. “Ella isn’t your daughter, Luke. Pete’ll be back from deployment in a couple of months and that’ll take some of the pressure off you. There’s no reason for you to be celibate until then, either.”

“I’m hardly celibate,” Luke muttered, his cheeks hot. “And please keep your voice down.”

He paused as they approached the counter. Simon placed the order and Luke glanced at the guy behind them again. Thankfully, he was still on his phone instead of being forced to eavesdrop on the saga of Luke’s sad single life.

“I know I haven’t had a boyfriend since Ella moved in with me,” Luke continued while Simon paid for the order. “Taking care of her complicates my life, but it’s nothing compared to Pete’s wife taking off on them. And I do go out on occasion, Simon. I date.”

Simon cocked a well-groomed eyebrow at him. “Okay, and when exactly? Because we both know you don’t have time to yourself anymore.”

Despite Simon’s gentle tone, Luke winced. Even with help from his parents and his babysitter, Melissa, he rarely had a minute to himself outside his own bathroom. Even then, odds were Ella would knock on the door and blithely ask questions while Luke showered or shaved.

“In all seriousness, when did you last go out with a man?” Simon asked. They moved aside so the baristas could mix up their magic, and he patted Luke’s arm. “Hell, when did you last pick someone up?”

“I met someone while I was grocery shopping last week, believe it or not,” Luke replied. “We emailed a couple of times, but he dropped off the map. I picked someone up a couple of months ago, the last time Pete came home on leave.” He grinned at Simon. “You and I went out for dinner and drinks, then over to that bar in Back Bay named after Oscar Wilde. Remember?”

“That’s the bar with the boozy milkshakes?”

“Yes! I met Jeremy that night.”

Realization flashed in Simon’s eyes. “I’d forgotten that’s where you met. Where was I?”

“Sucking face with some bartender, I think.” Luke smirked at Simon’s raucous laughter.

“Oh, God, that’s right. Those milkshakes are lethal!”

“Believe me, I remember.” Luke reached up and ruffled Simon’s hair. “Anyway, I didn’t take Jeremy home that night, but we exchanged numbers and spent time together for a couple of weeks.”

“What happened between you two, anyway? I don’t think you ever said.”

“There was nothing to tell. Pete’s leave ended and I canceled a couple of dates because Melissa was busy and I couldn’t find a sitter. Jeremy just faded out.” Despite his careless tone, Luke’s heart twinged a little. He’d enjoyed spending time with Jeremy and watching him withdraw had stung.

Simon clasped Luke’s shoulder with one strong hand. “I’m sorry. It doesn’t have to be that way all the time, you know. I can watch Ella for you if Melissa is busy—I just need some notice. Gillian will, too. Hell, ask around the office if you need someone for a couple of hours. I’m sure at least one of the kids on staff is the babysitting type.”

“I know, and thanks. It doesn’t matter, though. The reality is I’m with Ella a lot because I want to be and guys usually bolt after they figure that out.”

Simon’s gentle scowl warmed Luke’s heart. He loved that his friend cared enough to listen. Then Luke saw the cute guy with the dark hair pay for his single coffee and leave. Damn. Once upon a time, Luke would have struck up a conversation with him instead of watching the opportunity slip away. Maybe Simon had a point.

“It’s fine,” he said. “And you’re right. I should make an effort to get out there and meet new men. Especially since things will go back to normal after Pete gets home. For a while, anyway.”

“That ‘for a while’ is kind of a problem.” Simon’s expression sobered. “Your brother will still be at Quantico more rather than less. I don’t even mean that in a bad way because I know you love having her here.”

Luke nodded. He’d never thought twice about welcoming his niece into his home. “I do. All the more reason to find someone who’s okay with Ella being in my life.”

Is that such a bad thing to want? Luke didn’t think so.

The barista called their order and Luke handed Simon the bags he’d been holding. “At any rate, it’ll be great having Pete back, even if he’s not in Boston. Ella hasn’t been the same since her dad was deployed.” Carefully, he collected the trays of cups.

Simon led the way out, talking over his shoulder as he held the door for Luke. “You think so?”

“Oh, yeah.” Luke sighed. “She really misses him, and it’s not like we can visit. She worries about his safety, just like my parents worry, and I do, too. Life will be a hundred times easier for all of us with Pete on US soil, whether he’s at the Marine base or not.”

“I understand,” Simon replied. “I’m just sorry I can’t do more than listen.”

Luke smiled. “Don’t be. I’d have gone bananas a long time ago without you and Gillian around to listen and keep me sane.”

“Girl, you’ve always been bananas,” Simon said, his tone airy. “But we’re used to it and don’t love you any less.” He shot Luke a wink and they headed for the office.

 

About the Author

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

 

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Check Out the Release Blitz for Adam Only by Roe Horvat (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 39,000 words
 
Cover Design: Roe Horvat
 
Publisher: Beaten Track Publishing
 
Those Other Books
 
The Other Book – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
 
Blurb
 

On stage, Adam lets his passion drive him. All his secret desires, everything nasty, dirty, and beautiful flows freely through him, for once in harmony. His soul thrives when his body moves, but only on stage. Adam’s passionate nature makes him a great dancer…and a failure at life. He’s a lonely, emotional mess. Going home with a man far out of his reach is the last thing Adam should do. Christoffer represents everything Adam isn’t: strong, independent, educated, and rich. His kind eyes, at odds with his brutish form, make Adam’s knees and restraint buckle.


Once Christoffer sees Adam dancing, he’s lost. The young man is mesmerizing, otherworldly, and unpredictable. Whatever might happen between them, it will be transient, and Christoffer will most likely get hurt. The temptation is too great, however, and the sex explosive. He might as well enjoy every moment he’s given, even if it’s just one day, maybe two. If Christoffer treads carefully, Adam might stay until Monday.

 
Excerpt
 

He didn’t have a clue what he was doing. Why was he still here? He should leave. Now.


The house was far away from any main roads, but he could walk for a bit and then get a taxi to the nearest train station back to the city. Maybe there was a bus stop somewhere close. His thoughts sharpened—the jerking off, swim, and caffeine had cleared his brain. Determined not to waste more time daydreaming about wealthy bears who never gave a damn, he finished his coffee. He’d need to sneak back to the bathroom to get his clothes. And his phone. He shouldn’t have lingered.


He found which cabinet door in the kitchen hid the built-in dishwasher and placed the cup inside. Then he climbed the stairs on tiptoes and peeked into the bedroom. Christoffer slept on his back, snoring softly.


Adam spotted his phone on the nightstand. Christoffer must have put it on charge after Adam had fallen asleep. He wouldn’t dwell on how considerate that was. He snatched up the phone and closed himself in the bathroom.


Eying the red thong with disgust, he threw it in the trash. What had he been thinking? He dragged the jeans up his naked body, pulled on his socks and slid into the T-shirt. His jacket was downstairs. He opened the door carefully, ready to bolt without looking at the sleeping man.


Except Christoffer was now sitting on the edge of the bed, naked, staring up at Adam with sleepy eyes.


Shit.


“Hi,” Christoffer murmured. His eyes slid up and down Adam’s body, noticing the clothes. His smile turned cautious.


“Hi.” Adam shifted from foot to foot. What now?


The moment dragged on until Adam’s heart was pounding. He needed to say something, quick, and get out of there before it could get any more awkward.


“I…” he began but closed his mouth again. He couldn’t decipher Christoffer’s expression. And all that skin on display was distracting.


Christoffer braced his hands on his knees and inhaled deeply, his Goliathan shoulders lifting. “You like eggs?”


“What?”


“For breakfast.”


“Yeah,” Adam blurted before he thought of the implications. He was staying for breakfast? He wanted to. Stupid! He absolutely shouldn’t! Seeing Christoffer now, those gentle gray eyes such a contrast to his brutish form, Adam ached to stay. You stupid, horny, clingy asshole. Get out of here!


He opened his mouth to say something else, to apologize and whisper goodbye, but Christoffer was faster.


“Good. Wait for me in the kitchen. I just need to…” He gestured to the bathroom door behind Adam’s back.


“Oh. Sure.”


Adam stepped aside, quivering, and the big man stood in all his naked glory. He bent down and kissed Adam’s cheek, lingering, his breath hot by Adam’s ear. Then he disappeared into the bathroom. “I’ll be just a minute,” he threw over his shoulder before the door snapped shut.


Adam stood there, stunned, and touched his tingling cheek.

 
About the Author
 

Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, pale ale, and daiquiri, with equal passion. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.


More about the author:
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/roe.horvat.98
Twitter: @roehorvat
Website: roehorvat.com
Publisher: http://www.beatentrackpublishing.com/?n1=authors&id=107

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