A MelanieM Review: Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

No indiscriminate killing. No collateral damage. No unvetted targets.

These are the rules Hawes Madigan lives by. Rules that make being Fog City’s Prince of Killers bearable. Soon, he’ll be king—of an organization of assassins—and the crown has never felt heavier. Until the mysterious Dante Perry swaggers into his life.

Dante looks like a rock god and carries himself like one too, all loose-limbed and casually confident. He also carries a concealed weapon, a private investigator’s license, and a message for the prince. Someone inside Hawes’s organization is out to kill the future king.

In the chaos that follows the timely warning, Hawes comes to depend on Dante. On his skills as an investigator, on the steadiness he offers, and on their moments alone when Hawes lets Dante take control. As alliances are tested and traitors exposed, Hawes needs Dante at his back and in his bed. But if the PI ever learns Hawes’s darkest secret, Hawes is sure to get a knife to the heart—and a bullet to the brain—instead.

There’s no shortage of twists and turns in this new romantic suspense trilogy from Layla Reyne. Prince of Killers is book one of three. Fair warning: buckle up, cliffhangers ahead!

 

Layla Reyne is still an author that I haven’t explored a lot, so when her new release popped up about the king of assassins  and a new series, I grabbed it.  I’m very glad I did because Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne is a fast-paced, highly suspenseful, terrific piece of  contemporary romance.  She gives us high action, crime, revenge, mystery, explosions, hot sex, and even a certain amount of angst, all mixed together.

There is an intriguing family at the heart of Fog City.  The Madigan crime family now in the midst of significant changes.  Their patriarch is dying, their organization is changing direction under the hands of Hawes Madigan, the Prince of Killers and the one taking over the operation from his grandfather.  The members, all distinct and imminently curious personalities, are entwined with Hawes, either because he’s their sibling or in law,  Its ibe tight knit group and you get to know them all well, and want to know them more.  As I said , an intriguing bunch.

There are so many layers of deceit and a main mystery at hand involving a death of an innocent woman years prior that all the events start forming around.

The entrance of Dante Perry sets off more internal reverberations within the family and within Hawes himself.  Can he trust Dante?  Who exactly is Dante?

More mysteries keep unfolding all the way to the way last sentence of the book which is of course a cliffhanger.  One I will say I totally expected which is why I dropped the rating a bit.  The reveal you expect.  How it will end  will have to wait until the next story.  I’m hoping for more twists, turns, and complications there.

What I did love what that the reveal prior to this one was absolutely unexpected.  So the author hits us with several reveals in a row.  Great job.

I even get the feeling there might be even more twists and turns to come in the books ahead.  This series seems to be about hidden secrets, layers and layers of identities, and things are never as them seem.  Oh the joy of uncovering them and the investigations!  Really, this was a popcorn munching, quick page turning blast of a book!

Yes, I can’t wait for the next one to roll out to see how that last scene ends.

If you like crime mysteries and contemporary romance mixed together, pick up Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne.  It’s looking to be just the first in a great series.

Cover Design works to capture your eye.

Sales Links:  Amazon |  buy links : http://getbook.at/PrinceOfKillers

Book Details:

ebook
Published June 10th 2019 by Layla Reyne
ISBN139781732088368
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesFog City #1

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Fire on Ice by Deirdre O’Dare

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 Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Bard has been the Captain of the Unit for the last two years. Gordon has become his de facto second in command, even though there seems to be no such designation in this military. The Universal Council is constantly conquering other worlds for their galaxy spanning empire. With the men on an ice planet where electro-magnetic-based technology doesn’t work, one has to wonder why they even care about taking this planet inhabited by an insectiod population with primitive weapons.

This is a short read about two military men who have feelings for each other, but neither knows until one of them is injured. The reader gets both points of view, glimpsing their respect and longing for each other. While there seem to be no regulations against fraternization, anyone caught doing it disappears. In fact, none of the men seem to be allowed to be friends. They are not encouraged to forge ties, making their whole service seem senseless. I have decided to give the author the benefit of the doubt that this was the point of the story–endless war is pointless and institutionalization is demoralizing. There were two love scenes, neither of which were particularly sexy or emotionally moving. I think this is because the reader doesn’t get to see their two years serving together. There is only a sentence that even alludes to Bard showing an interest in Gordon as a person with small kindnesses. A short story can be captivating and pack an emotional wallop–so it’s not the length I am critiquing, just the execution.

The cover design was done by Written Ink Designs. I think it is actually very fitting, showing the only love and color in their lives happened in that tent. It’s the start of a new dawn for them.

Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 11th 2019 by JMS Books LLC
ASIN B07RH7NMKC

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Arctic Wild (Frozen Hearts #2) by Annabeth Albert

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh, my! This book has so many of my favorite tropes that I really enjoyed it immensely. I’d tag it age gap, May-December, slow burn, men with children, family drama, Alaska, hurt-comfort, and second chances. Plus, it had a sneak peek at past characters Griff and River to let us know how they are doing.

As the story opens, Reuben is irritated when he learns his friends aren’t going to make the flight to Alaska to begin the vacation they’d insisted he take to destress from his high-powered corporate law office. Add to his irritation the fact that his ex-wife needs an immediate answer about buying out his share in their law firm and he’s not a happy man when he boards the tiny plane in Alaska to begin a solo tour with a chatty tour operator named Toby.

Toby has been providing for his ailing father and younger sister for years so he’s no stranger to responsibility. And he’s flown this trip many, many times over his favorite areas in Alaska and is happy to give personal attention to his solo traveler. Too bad the silver fox is grumpy and straight, or so he thinks. But halfway through the trip, a sudden storm causes them to crash, and it’s Reuben who rescues Toby before their plane catches fire. 

I loved the way the author took both men out of their comfort zones and allowed them to have new experiences and new perspectives—aha moments, so to speak. One of my favorites came at the end of the book when both men acknowledge that the summer they spent together has been all about second chances and what they plan to do with those chances. I’m glad the author didn’t make the crash site the entire setting of the story and, instead, gave them the perfect excuse to spend a few months together and infuse a few other interesting characters into the mix.

Both characters are well-developed and engaging, and added to the chemistry between Reuben and Toby, we have a 14-year-old teen daughter for Reuben who was a spot-on perfect example of an annoying teen girl of that age. (Been there. Had that!) Watching her slowly gravitate toward her father, and he to her, was heartwarming. Meanwhile, Toby had to learn to rely on help from others, giving him a new perspective on how his father has felt for years. Both men changed over the time they spent together during Toby’s recuperation, and the changes had a ripple effect on their families.

When they allowed themselves to live their dreams, the impossible became possible. Set against the background of the most majestic state I’ve ever visited, how could I not love this story? I highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially those who love the tags I mention at the beginning of this review.

The cover predominantly features glorious Alaska scenery with a top pane that holds a partial shot of the MCs’ faces.

Sales Links: Kobo | Barnes & NobleAmazon

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: June 3rd 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 1488051275 (ISBN13: 9781488051272)
Edition Language English
Series Frozen Hearts :

Arctic Sun

Arctic Wild

Arctic Heat coming soon

Z.A. Maxfield on Writing, Childhood Dreams and the new release Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) (author guest blog and giveaway)

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Three Vlog Night (Plummet to Soar #3) by Z.A. Maxfield

Dreamspinner Press
Published June 4th 2019
Cover Art; L.C. Chase

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Z.A. Maxfield here today to talk about the new novel Three Vlog Night! Welcome, ZAM!

✒︎

Hello, and thanks so much for allowing me to be here with you at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words. It’s a privilege to share my new book, Three Vlog Night with your readers. I’m really proud of this one.  I hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.

So… Here we are again. I think this is something like the thirty-seventh novel I’ve written! I can’t believe it! When I was a kid, if you’d told me I’d get to do this, I think I would have been even more impatient to grow up than I was. I’ve got my dream job, an awesome family, and a truly blessed life… I feel like I should pinch myself!

Since you were kind enough to provide me with some interview questions, I thought I’d pick the ones I don’t remember answering before. I love the chance to talk about the work, my past, and my process!

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

Oh, absolutely. I was in about the seventh grade when I discovered a little thing called “Romance.” My mother was a mystery reader, and my older sister was into Sci-Fi and Fantasy. And there I was, looking longingly at all the books which, in those days, often featured a half-naked woman running away from the ruins of a castle. The first two books I remember checking out over and over, were The Pink Dress, by Anne Alexander, and The Innocent Wayfaring, by Marchette Chute. The Pink Dress was a contemporary, and The Innocent Wayfaring was a medieval historical, I think. I read the covers off those books! They really set me on a course as far as my reading preferences, forever.

Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

Of course! Without an HFN or HEA, no book can be called a “romance”. Every writer in romance has made an unconscious pact with the reader: I’ll take you on an awful journey where you’ll, and cry, and kiss your hard-earned bucks goodbye, but don’t despair! Everything will come out right in the end. Romance writers who think they can let the reader down at the end of a book, beware the coming apocalypse. Or just label it literature, because the romance genre reader believes in you, and once you betray their trust, you will never earn it back. 

Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Oddly enough, I think my major influences were not genre fiction writers, but playwrights and screen writers. It was the poignant moments in plays like Harvey and The Children’s Hour, and films like Casablanca and When Harry Met Sally that generated those highly charged emotional moments which made me want to write. Script writers taught me how to leverage conflict, create strong internal and external character arcs, and use the “less is more” concept that makes tight writing work. 

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

I love ebooks. The fact that I can carry a couple hundred of my favorite novels in one slim tablet to read on a plane is amazing to me. Also, as I get older, that being able to change the size of the type has value. My arms are definitely not long enough for me to read trade paperbacks without reading glasses, which I always seem to misplace or forget! Ebooks, for all their flaws, like piracy, easily plagiarizable formats, and sheer ease of dreck production, are spilled wine–no one can put them back into the bottle.

What’s next for you as an author?

After a couple of tough years, I now have the opportunity to set a brand new course for myself. I’ll be finishing up The Brothers Grime Series, and starting a series of cozy mystery novellas. I see myself straddling the line between mystery and romance, and writing more of the quirky characters, highly emotional, and sweet stories I’m known for. I see myself slowing down, and finding my stride, without outside influences. Stay tuned! You have no idea what I’ve got in store for you!

 

As for Three Vlog Night, here’s a blurb:

Ajax Fairchild’s online alter ego has caused him trouble before, but never like this. After multiple death threats, his loaded parents decide he needs an enforced digital vacation and the best bodyguard money can buy.

That would be Dmytro Kolisnychenko, former soldier, former hired muscle for the Ukrainian mob—until he lost his happy home life to an enemy with a homemade bomb. Now he wants only two things: to spend every precious second he can with his daughters, and to provide for them by protecting people who can’t protect themselves—even entitled little asshats like Ajax Fairchild.

But Ajax doesn’t fit into the spoiled little rich kid box as neatly as Dmytro would like. Dmytro doesn’t have time for a romantic dalliance, and Ajax is a client, albeit one with unexpected depths. With one coincidence after another driving them to the sleepy seaside town of St. Nacho’s and away from their planned safe house, they grow to trust each other and find that love follows trust. Now they must learn where the threat to Ajax is coming from and neutralize it… before it’s too late for their happily ever after.

Here’s an excerpt:

Chapter 1

Ajax Freedom. Your time on this earth is at an end. Prepare to meet the God you denigrate. Prepare to pay for your sins. Prepare for the coming bloodbath.

Death threats came hourly to Ajax Freedom via his website, but you wouldn’t know it from the slow, deliberate way he dressed. Like a stripper in reverse, he smirked at Dmytro, daring him to react to the bulge in the boxer briefs he wore beneath loose, soft jeans that hung open while he pulled a Henley on over his pale, well-muscled body. While he donned and zipped up a hooded sweatshirt.

Dmytro frowned into his phone. This was 2018. Did Ajax expect him to blush with maidenly modesty? Or offer some threat because despite the Ajax Freedom persona, the man behind the cavalierly bourgeois playboy was gay? The client was apparently dim.

That didn’t stop the shockwave of intense physical attraction Dmytro experienced when he first saw him. Dmytro hid his grimace and said, “It’s 7:57 p.m. Be ready to leave in three minutes.”

“All right.”

“All right,” Dmytro echoed uselessly. If Ajax was waiting for a single sign of disapproval or homophobia or whatever—nope. Ajax had been walking around in a state of undress since they’d finally lured him out of his room, and if Dmytro were going to react, he’d have done it by now. He had years of practice hiding his emotions from the most dangerous men in the world. This pampered boy-man should be no problem. Probably.

The two people Dmytro cared about most texted him bright messages of love and wonder and wished him safe travels, and if he messed up on the job, those two people didn’t eat.

Dmytro had to keep Ajax Freedom alive, so that made Ajax number three on his list of people to care about, if only until the job ended. Freedom could stay naked and swing from the chandeliers, flaunt himself in front of the men who protected him, or make crank calls to the White House for all Dmytro cared, so long as Dmytro got back to his girls intact.

He hid his smirk behind an impassive face to show that the display of pale, freckled skin wasn’t getting Ajax anywhere, even though it was extremely creamy and looked velvety soft. Plus… freckles. A particular kink, but nothing he couldn’t handle.

Ajax fussed noisily in the closet for a few seconds before turning to say, “Well? Are we going?”

Dmytro briefly lifted his gaze. “Has three minutes passed?”

With a huff, Ajax fussed in the closet some more. He muttered, “Suitcase, suitcase, sports bag, garment bag, messenger bag, backpack, laptop bag.”

“Nuh-uh,” Dmytro reminded him. “Laptop stays here.”

Ajax appeared aghast. “I thought you were just saying that to jerk me around.”

“When I jerk you around, it will be unmistakable. Leave the laptop.” Dmytro had cloned Ajax’s phone and pulled the batteries from it, disabled his desktop, and confiscated batteries for his laptop, his fitness tracker—anything that could be traced. They allowed the boy to keep his fancy dive watch but disabled its GPS. The rest of his many devices had been secured or would be stored. They’d checked his bags. “You’re on an enforced digital time-out. Think of it as chance to go old-school and read a physical book.”

Ajax frowned. “When was the last time you read a physical book?”

“None of your beeswax.”

“Fine.” Ajax handed over the bag.

“Please double-check you have everything.” Dmytro scrolled through the drawing his daughter Sasha sent of Mrs. Whatsit. It was wonderful, although he could hardly stand to look at it. She’d made Whatsit’s eyes glisten, and they seemed to follow him, no matter how he held his phone. He didn’t know about art. Something about shading and negative space? She was going to be a real artist someday, sophisticated and subtle.

With a sigh, Dmytro texted that yes, he’d watch A Wrinkle in Time with Sasha and Pen again when he returned, although children’s movies were going to destroy humanity. So much music and magic and mystery. You are more than you believe. Everyone hoped that was true, but no one actually was.

He eyed his client.

There was something intrinsically wrong with a job that took him away from his children to protect someone else’s. He was good at what he did, but his method never deviated. Get in, protect the client long enough to keep him alive while Iphicles neutralized any threats, and get home.

Pen’s drawing showed her love of geometric shapes and primary colors. There was nothing nuanced about Pen. He liked her drawings as much as her sister’s. They both showed promise, to him. With that his after supper three-minute check-in came to a close.

He immersed himself fully in the job when he put his phone away and checked the peephole. Peter stood by the elevators, keeping watch on the hall.

“Time to go.” When Dmytro moved, he moved quickly. He could spring from a twenty-minute power nap into a melee with no ramp-up time at all.

But now Ajax hesitated.

How Dmytro wished people wouldn’t dither. He picked up Ajax’s duffel and looped the shoulder straps over his neck. Next came the messenger bag, and finally the backpack and one of the suitcases. There was no point in arguing about the amount of luggage a client had. One simply found a way to carry it. Sometimes, if one had to, one carried the client as well.

“You take the wheeled Pullman. I’ve got the rest.”

Ajax dropped a hand on the handle as if he didn’t know how to work it. This man—this rather young man—seemed to be incapable of following basic commands.

He’d texted with his sister-in-law earlier. It’s a shame for his parents. There is nothing to do here but squat in the safe house and keep him from doing something stupid until Peter tracks down each of the threats. He has a bag of toys, I think.

Peter? she’d asked, but he was sure she meant it as a joke.

The boy.

Mitya. She could lecture him about anything. You must treat even a stupid client with respect and kindness.

Of course, he’d replied with some asperity. When have you known me to be unkind?

“I’ll take the Pullman too.” Dmytro took its handle. “When we leave the room, stay behind me.”

“Won’t it be easier if they just kill me now so you won’t bore me to death?”

“Don’t say that.” Dmytro concealed his irritation. “I’ll keep you safe.”

Freedom didn’t look reassured. “Who’ll keep you safe?”

“I keep myself safe.” He pocketed his phone and glanced both ways before turning to Ajax. “We’re going to pretend we’re mice. Be quiet as you can.”

“Okay.” Ajax held up a “wait” finger. “Just a sec.”

With a deep sigh, Dmytro closed and locked the door again. “This might be what I meant by do you have everything?”

“I have everything. I just need these too.” At the coat closet, Ajax wrapped a soft-looking scarf around his neck, tugged a slouchy beanie over his hair, and slid on a pair of sunglasses. With his trademark dark curly hair hidden and his face obscured, he didn’t look like the internet It Kid anymore. In spite of himself, Dmytro nodded his satisfaction.

“Better.” He checked his weapon, returned it to his holster, and gripped the door handle. Once he wrenched it open, he checked the hallway again. All clear. He moved with Ajax toward the elevators and Peter. The three got in together.

When the doors closed, he and Peter stepped in front of Ajax, keeping their bodies between him and the lobby. When they opened again, a reassuring nothing happened. Dmytro and Peter swept their client out the revolving door and to the curb, where Bartlomiej waited with the town car.

After suffering a head injury and seizure a few months before, Dmytro bitterly resented being unable to drive. He left the luggage for Peter and settled Ajax into the back seat. Then he got into the front on the passenger side with a huff.

“All right?” Dmytro greeted his colleague.

“All set.” Bartlomiej, whom everyone called Bartosz, sat behind the wheel with the engine running. “Don’t pout. You’ll be driving soon enough. In the meantime, you’ve got me. Enjoy.”

A few more months without a seizure and he could regain privileges. Until then, he did what he was told.

He rolled the window down and called to Peter. “Be well, brother.”

Peter waved before melting into the night.

“He left?” Ajax asked. “Why’d he leave? Where’d he go?”

Dmytro closed his window. “We’re a team. We split up when we need to. Peter’s going to neutralize your admirers, and I will go to the safe house with you.”

“Lucky me.” He didn’t sound like he felt lucky.

“Drive, Bartosz.”

“Bartosz,” Ajax addressed him. “Any chance we could hit a drive-through? I need something to drink. Which, I’ve gotta warn you now, will probably come right back up, because I get really carsick.”

“Perfect.” Could their day get worse? “Do you need to sit up front?”

“It won’t matter, unfortunately.”

“All right.” Bartosz nodded and said in Ukrainian, “He’s like you, my very special snowflake. Did you bring a patch?”

“Not this time.” When Bartosz started to snicker, Dmytro gave him a warning grunt. To Ajax he said, “Your lucky day. I have Meclizine. One tablet and you should be fine.” He handed a blister pack over the console, along with a bottled water. “Make sure to drink all of it. The medication will give you dry mouth.”

Dmytro popped a pill and cracked open a second water. Bartosz’s voice took on a teasing quality. “You’ll both be sound asleep before we get on the highway.”

“You have the directions?”

Bartosz gave him an eye roll. “Don’t worry.”

Dmytro glanced around at Ajax. Bundled up like that, he looked barely older than six-year-old Sasha. About as defenseless too. In his own language, he asked Bartosz, “What do you suppose makes someone want attention so badly they’ll do any repulsive thing to get it?”

Bartholomew shrugged. “He’s a good-looking boy. I could find a use for him.”

Dmytro tensed. “Don’t be that guy.”

“I’m teasing.”

Dmytro hoped so. Bartosz was a professional, after all.

Ajax hissed, “Speak English. You’re being so rude.”

“I told him I’d like a corn dog.” Bartosz glanced in the rearview. “Do you still want a drink?”

Ajax’s eyes narrowed. “Yes, please.”

“I’ll get you a corn dog.” Dmytro cuffed Bartosz for that. “For myself too. Jalapeño cheese peppers and a strawberry lemonade slush. And you’ll pay for all of us, Bartosz.”

“That’s ‘poppers,’” Ajax corrected.

“What is?”

“Jalapeño poppers,” he continued in his didactic tone, “are jalapeños stuffed with either cream cheese or cheddar, dipped in batter, and fried. They’re called ‘poppers.’”

“Thank you for educating me.” Dmytro had never been that certain about anything in his life. At twenty-two, he’d been a homeless thug with two lucky gifts: a mild form of genius with foreign languages and the ability to read very fast. He’d found himself a crime boss with a need for a translator with muscle and a passion for classic literature. The rest was history.

What did Ajax Freedom know about anything? He met Bartosz’s pleased glance before retrieving his phone from his pocket.

Good news, the client is probably not stupid, he texted Liv. He’s just a mudak. An asshole. Liv would understand.

Z.A. Maxfield is getting her kicks writing on Route 66 in Rancho Cucamonga these days. She lives with her husband, three of her grown children, and dog of indeterminable variety named Dr. Watson. Despite the world we live in, she still believes in first love, second chances, and kissing in the rain.

Join ZAM’s group, ZAM-Nation HERE, or visit her website, like her page on Facebook, or contact her through Twitter.

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CJ Elliot with A Author and Character Interview and Much More on the New Release Tour for The Player’s Protégé (Campus Connections #2) by CJane Elliott )excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Player’s Protege

Series: A Campus Connections Story

The Player’s Protégé

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: 6/7/19

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 93 pages

Genre: Romance, New Adult, contemporary, college, coming of age

Add to Goodreads

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words welcomes CJ Elliot on tour for the new release The Player’s Protégé . Hi, CJane!

✒︎

Thank you to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me on today to share about my latest release, The Player’s Protégé, the second story in the Campus Connections series. It features Jerry, the cynical best friend of Eric from The Kinsey Scale, and Arlo, a sweet, inexperienced guy for whom Jerry becomes a mentor.

This is blog post #7 in the tour. We’ve looked at the backstory for Jerry and Arlo and their barriers to love. They’ve met—and it didn’t go so well. But now they’re stuck with each other, because Arlo wants mentoring and Jerry made a bet with his friends. In their first mentoring session Jerry is irritable and Arlo is defensive. But as they continue on, they warm up and start to appreciate one another.

This is the part in a romance where, despite initial doubts, the heroes are more and more drawn to each other. They get to know each other better and start to feel desire for each other. As each new side of Arlo emerges, Jerry is struck by Arlo’s sweet nature as much as by his gorgeousness. As for Arlo? We don’t get to hear his point of view in the story, so why don’t we ask him now?

CJANE: Tell us when you first started to find Jerry attractive.

ARLO: Right away.

CJANE: Really? You mean that first night when you all went to Alekos?

ARLO: Yes.

CJANE: Huh. But wasn’t Jerry pretty mean to you that night?

ARLO: [chuckles] Oh, yes, he was kind of irritable. I found out later he didn’t want to take on being my mentor and the guys had to rope him into it with a bet. But I thought he was just being cranky because he was hungry.

CJANE: But you still found him attractive. What about him interested you?

ARLO: Well, he’s good-looking, of course. But more than that, he has this confidence and this kind of no bullshit way about him. Excuse my French.

CJANE: No problem. So you liked his lack of BS.

ARLO: I still do. I know I’m going to get the truth from Jerry, whether I like it or not. And that makes me trust him. My ex—Jake—turned out to be a big liar. Jerry’s honest. And creative. And just exciting to be around. I thought that from the start.

CJANE: And once he started mentoring you?

ARLO: He challenged me and made me look at my life, and it kind of blew me away. It woke me up and made me change. After two meetings, I was pretty much in love.

Aww, isn’t Arlo the best? To see how the story progresses, check out my next blog tour post. You can find the schedule at my website: http://cjaneelliott.com/the-players-protege-release-and-blog-tour/.  Follow along for more chances to win.

Giveaway:

Enter the Rafflecopter for a chance to win a signed paperback copy of one of my novels.

Synopsis

When his friends bet cynical Jerry that he can’t turn sweet Arlo into a player, Jerry might win the bet but lose his heart.

College senior Jerry Helstrom survived a gay childhood in Texas by being fierce and fabulous. At school he’s known as a player and has kept his heart so guarded that he’s forgotten he has one. When his friends bet him he can’t teach inexperienced Arlo Barnes to become a stud like him, Jerry takes on the challenge and quickly finds himself drawn to his enticing trainee.

Arlo kicks butt as a Tae Kwon Do black belt, but his sexual game is lacking. He’s been dumped by his only boyfriend and needs help getting himself out there. Enter Jerry Helstrom, player extraordinaire and happy to provide Arlo with some hands-on coaching. Jerry encourages Arlo to ask for what he wants in sex and in life, something Arlo struggles with. The struggle deepens when Arlo discovers that what he truly wants is the seemingly unattainable Jerry Helstrom.

Jerry can teach Arlo to play the field, but can Arlo teach Jerry to play for keeps?

Excerpt

After Arlo left, Tyrone blew out an exasperated breath. “Why’d ya have to be so mean, boo?”

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Eric laughed. “Jerry’s mean to everyone at first. Right, Will?”

“I never noticed,” Will drawled.

“You wouldn’t.” Eric leaned in for a kiss. “But believe me, he had you down as a boring sports jock.”

“Hot, though,” Jerry murmured. “That won you points right away. And the fact that you were driving Eric crazy was entertaining.”

“For you.” Eric glared at Jerry.

Will put his hand over Eric’s. “Yeah. Eric was driving me crazy too. Blue balls city, man.”

“Oh my.” Jerry put his chin in his hands and widened his eyes. “I always wondered how y’all managed to beat off with the other one right there. Do tell.”

Tyrone held up his hand. “Guys, guys, can we have this conversation another time? Y’all need to help me talk Jerry into mentoring Arlo.”

“Mentoring him in what?” Eric raised laughing eyes to Jerry. “Although I can think of several areas.”

<em>I miss you</em>. It came out of nowhere. He and Eric had been thick as thieves all through college. Once they sorted out that they weren’t meant to be boyfriends, they’d remained best friends and shared countless late-night conversations in this very restaurant. Most of them this year had been about Eric’s seemingly hopeless crush on Will. But all of that had come to a halt now that Eric and Will were lovers. Not that Will would mind if Eric and Jerry continued their habit of hanging out in Alekos. At least Jerry didn’t think he would. But Will and Eric were currently wrapped up in their own romantic world.

Jerry shook his head and focused in on what Tyrone was saying.

“… and since Jake dumped him on his ass after cheating on him, Arlo’s been moping around. We were talking, and he was telling me that he needed some advice about getting out there. Jake was the only guy he’s ever dated, and he needs help in figuring out the hookup scene.”

“That guy? Wants to dive into Grindr?” Eric shook his head. “I can’t see it.”

“Well, that’s what he tells me,” said Tyrone. “And who better to teach him but our Jerry here? Gay stud extraordinaire.”

“You called me a stallion before. Make up your mind.”

Will smirked. “Given the look on your face, Jerry, I’d say the odds of you performing this service are nil to none.”

“Ah, but Jerry owes me, and I’m calling in the favor. Right, boo?”

“Owes you for what?” Eric asked.

“For hooking him up with Ted. Too bad they were together for, like, two seconds.”

Jerry huffed. “I never meant it to be a thing. Although our little affair did have its moments. But still, the answer is no. Think of something else for me to do.”

“Yeah, Tyrone. No fair assigning Jerry an impossible task.”

Jerry narrowed his eyes at Eric. “Impossible? I never said that.”

“Well, I’m saying it. That guy Arlo? You’ll never turn him into a player. He’s a one-man type. I can spot it a mile away.” Eric hugged Will. “This guy’s the same.”

“True.” Will gave Eric a slow smile. “I’m not complainin’.”

“You all are truly over the top. But you’re wrong, Eric. I’m sure I could transform Arlo into a player if I put my mind to it.”

“Wanna bet?”

Eric’s clear disbelief goaded Jerry into rashness. “Sure. What do you want to bet me?”

Tyrone clapped his hands. “I knew you’d do it.”

“Hmm.” Eric tapped his fingers on the table with a thoughtful air. “If you turn Arlo into a player, I’ll do your laundry for a week.”

“Please. You’d mix the fabrics, turn my whites pink, and shrink my favorite shirt.” Inspiration struck. “How about, if I win, you tear yourself away from Will there and commit to regular late-night Alekos runs with me? Plus one cage dance at Club Risque?”

“Okay. And if I win, you do my and Will’s laundry for a week, plus make us cool costumes for Pride.”

“Deal.” Jerry extended his hand, and Eric shook it. If Eric thought he could win this bet, he was seriously underestimating Jerry’s abilities.

Purchase

Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes | Google Books

Meet the Author

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work, and her characters are travelers too, traveling into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.

CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming-out stories. In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her family supports her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intently at her laptop.

CJane is the author of the award-winning Serpentine Series, New Adult contemporary novels set at the University of Virginia. Serpentine Walls was a 2014 Rainbow Awards finalist, Aidan’s Journey was a 2015 EPIC Awards finalist, and Sex, Love, and Videogames won first place in the New Adult category in the 2016 Swirl Awards and first place in Contemporary Fiction in the 2017 EPIC eBook Awards. All the Way to Shore was Runner Up for Best Bisexual Novel in the 2017 Rainbow Awards.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail | Instagram

Tour Schedule

6/7 ~ Moonbeams Over Atlanta

6/8 ~ Gay Book Reviews

6/9 ~ Stories That Make You Smile

6/10 ~ Love Bytes

6/11 ~ MM Goodbook Reviews

6/12 ~ Bayou Book Junkie

6/13 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

6/14 ~ My Fiction Nook

6/15 ~ BFD Book Blog

6/16 ~ Drops of Ink

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New Release Spotlight: Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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New Release Spotlight:

Arctic Wild by Annabeth Albert

Series: Frozen Hearts, #2

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): eBook June 3, 2019 / Print MMP June 25, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): approx. 105,000 words / 400 pages

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance

Warnings: None

Order now:

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/arctic-wild-2

iBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/arctic-wild/id1449963570

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Annabeth_Albert_Arctic_Wild?id=Gfp_DwAAQBAJ

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9781335006905_arctic-wild.html

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/arctic-wild-annabeth-albert/1129779447

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Arctic-Frozen-Hearts-Annabeth-Albert/dp/1335006907

Book synopsis:

When a plane crashes in the Alaskan wilderness, the best place to land is in the arms of a younger man…

Hotshot attorney Reuben Graham has finally agreed to take a vacation, when his plane suddenly plunges into the Alaskan wilderness.

Just his luck.

But his frustrations have only begun as he finds himself stranded with the injured, and superhot, pilot, a man who’s endearingly sociable—and much too young for Reuben to be wanting him this badly.

As the sole provider for his sisters and ailing father, Tobias Kooly is devastated to learn his injuries will prevent him from working or even making it back home. So when Reuben insists on giving him a place to recover, not even Toby’s pride can make him refuse. He’s never been tempted by a silver fox before, but something about Reuben is impossible to resist.

Recuperating in Reuben’s care is the last thing Toby expected, yet the closer they become, the more incredibly right it feels, prompting workaholic Reuben to question the life he’s been living. But when the pressure Toby’s under starts closing in, both men will have to decide if there’s room in their hearts for a love they never saw coming.

Read an excerpt from ARCTIC WILD:

“Doing better?” Toby’s voice was kind, and Reuben couldn’t help but enjoy the way he really did seem to care about whether Reuben was miserable or not.

“Yeah. I am. Thank you.” And he could admit that he’d used his phone at the restaurant in part to avoid staring at the handsome guide—a trick he’d used before to keep from revealing more than he wanted to. Because Toby truly was that attractive with those soul-deep dark eyes and chiseled face and lean body, and the more time he spent around him, the more Reuben found himself caught up in his charms. He had to keep reminding himself that arousal was every bit as unwanted as airsickness.

“We’re turning into Harris Bay now. You should have a good view of the glacier field.”

Field turned out to be something of a misnomer, as it was more like undulating rivers of snow and glaciers. The whole region reminded Reuben of a giant bowl, only the walls were granite and lined with hanging glaciers and impossibly tall. It was like something out of a movie, and for the first time, he understood why Craig had been so keen on coming. The scenery was unlike anything he’d seen before, and he’d seldom felt so small and insignificant as he did when confronted with the vastness of the landscape. He was more used to feeling like the gear in the center of a machine, everything else rotating around him. These sensations of having shrunk and being a speck in time compared to eons of ice were more than a little disconcerting, but also riveting at the same time.

About Annabeth Albert:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter.  In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/

Giveaway:

Win one paperback set of Arctic Sun, Arctic Wild, and a swag prize pack!

18 to enter, open internationally.

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BLOG AND REVIEW TOUR Prince of Killers (Fog City #1) by Layla Reyne (teaser, and giveaway)

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Prince of Killers by Layla Reyne

Series (name + # in series): Fog City #1

Publisher: Layla Reyne (Self-Published)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 10, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 216 pages (52K words)

Subgenre: M/M Romantic Suspense

Warnings: Explicit sex including mild kink; explicit language; violence;

instances and/or discussion of homophobia; off-page instances and/or discussion

of PTSD, drug use, and abuse of minor characters.

All buy links or pre-order links: http://getbook.at/PrinceOfKillers

Book synopsis:

No indiscriminate killing. No collateral damage. No unvetted targets.

These are the rules Hawes Madigan lives by. Rules that make being Fog City’s Prince of Killers bearable. Soon, he’ll be king—of an organization of assassins—and the crown has never felt heavier. Until the mysterious Dante Perry swaggers into his life.

Dante looks like a rock god and carries himself like one too, all loose-limbed and casually confident. He also carries a concealed weapon, a private investigator’s license, and a message for the prince. Someone inside Hawes’s organization is out to kill the future king.

In the chaos that follows the timely warning, Hawes comes to depend on Dante. On his skills as an investigator, on the steadiness he offers, and on their moments alone when Hawes lets Dante take control. As alliances are tested and traitors exposed, Hawes needs Dante at his back and in his bed. But if the PI ever learns Hawes’s darkest secret, Hawes is sure to get a knife to the heart—and a bullet to the brain—instead.

There’s no shortage of twists and turns in this new romantic suspense trilogy from Layla Reyne. Prince of Killers is book one of three. Fair warning: buckle up, cliffhangers ahead!

Praise for Prince of Killers:

“Layla Reyne is an auto-buy author for me. She writes it; I devour it. Prince of Killers is an amazing start to a new series. It’s fast-paced and intriguing with the perfect balance of action, passion, and plot twists I’ve come to expect from her books. Layla never disappoints, and I can’t wait to see what happens next in her Fog City series.”  – Aimee Nicole Walker, Bestselling author of the Curl Up and Dye Mysteries

“Prince of Killers gives us everything we adore about Layla’s writing: bullets, boys, and betrayal. From the very first page, Hawes and Dante have sexual tension that sparks off the page. They don’t trust each other, but they have to work together to uncover a traitor in their midst. The result is a steamy dance of push and pull that left me itching for more. I’m excited to recommend Layla Reyne’s Prince of Killers and see what’s next in her new Fog City series!” – Lucy Lennox, Bestselling author of the Made Marian and Forever Wilde series.

“This book made me reach for the ‘Oh Sh*t’ handle every time I picked it up.” –Erin McLellan, author of the Farm College series.

Hair and double denim. My favourite things! –Allison Temple, author of The Pick-Up and Top Shelf

“I bloody loved it!” –Lily Morton, Bestselling author of the Mixed Messages series

“Layla Reyne redefined what a family of assassins looks like with “Prince of Killers.” The “Fog City” series kicks off with some mind-blowing twists and I can’t wait to see what happens next.” – Jeff Adams, Big Gay Fiction Podcast

“PRINCE OF KILLERS is a suspenseful ride through the streets of San Francisco, and the ins and out of a tight-knit crime family. I couldn’t stop reading, and when I hit the end, I wanted the next book immediately!” – Hailey Turner, author of the bestselling Soulbound series and the Metahuman Files series.

Teaser 1:

“I don’t want to be in control.” No decisions to make, no kingdom to rule, no bad guys to sort from the good. Tonight, freedom was the most settling thought there was, especially if it involved the man whose body was pressed alongside his.

“Do you trust me?” Dante said.

Hawes half nodded, half nuzzled Dante’s palm.

“Give it to me, then.”

Hawes’s eyes popped open, and an unexpected laugh bubbled out of him. “I’m not giving you control of my family’s empire.”

One corner of Dante’s mouth turned up in a sexy smirk. “I don’t want that either.” With his arm around Hawes’s waist, he shifted them so they were in front of the ladder, Hawes’s back against the rungs, Dante’s body blanketing his. The pressure, front and back, massaged away any lingering soreness from Ray’s hit last night. Not that Hawes would care when Dante’s long, strong fingers were skirting up the side of his face and into his hair, threading through the strands and cradling his scalp.

Hawes couldn’t look away, couldn’t stop his hands from curling into Dante’s gray tank and hauling him closer. “Please.”

“I want control of you.” Dante’s soft lips brushed the sharp right hinge of Hawes’s jaw. “Let me help you.” He moved to the other side. “Let me make you forget for a while.” Then to the crease at the bottom of Hawes’s chin. “Let go for me.”

Yes.

About Layla Reyne: RITA Finalist Layla Reyne is the author of the Agents Irish and Whiskey, Trouble Brewing, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. Layla is a 2019 RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

Connect with Layla:

FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/laylaslushes/

FB: https://www.facebook.com/laylareyne

IG: https://www.instagram.com/laylareyne/

Newsletter: https://www.laylareyne.com/signup

AMZ: https://www.amazon.com/author/LaylaReyne

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/layla-reyne

Get to know more about Layla Reyne in this fun Review Tour Q&A!

  • Do you listen to audiobooks? If so, are there any you’d recommend?

Yes! One of my day jobs is as a legal resource editor, and I always have an audiobook playing when I’m doing that work. The Tales of Verania series by TJ Klune, narrated by Michael Lesley, is an absolute treasure.

  • What are your five favorite words?

I just need one: Fuck, especially the way Tristan James says it narrating audiobooks 😉

  • Do you have a favorite cover from one of your books?

This one! Cate Ashwood who did all the Fog City covers sent me the cover concept for Prince of Killers first, and I screamed “Holy Shit!” so loudly that my dogs startled. And I kept repeating “Holy Shit” for like the next week. She deserves so much credit, as does Wander Aguiar for the gorgeous photos, and Patrick Sean (the model) for just being that damn gorgeous.

 

Giveaway: Enter to win 2 sets of signed backlist paperbacks (Trouble Brewing or Changing Lanes, winner’s choice); if international, signed book plates.

Rafflecopter code:

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***Get Phenomenal Romantic Suspense by Layla Reyne on Sale!***

Carina Press has CRAFT BREW on sale for the month of June at only $1.99!