The Closing of Less Than Three Press

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Less Than Three Press  Is Closing

 

I am so sad to announce that the wonderful LGBTQIA publishing house Less Than Three Press is closing.  Here is the announcement at their website.

 

 

 

 

Important Announcement From Less Than Three Press

Dear Customers and Supporters of Less Than Three,

It is with a heavy heart we announce the closing of Less Than Three Press. Despite our best efforts, we cannot continue on. We apologize this comes so sudden, but the past month has made it clear that it’s best if we withdraw now, rather than keep hoping and pushing, and end things too late to exit gracefully and with minimal harm.

Thank you for believing in us, and helping us with our dream of seeing more queer representation in the romance genre. The past ten years have been a joy and honor, and we truly regret we won’t have ten more. It’s been a wonderful journey, and we’re grateful to everyone who lent their support and encouragement as we worked to bring more queer representation to the romance world.

If you have purchased a book that has not yet been released, your preorder will be refunded within the next few days. Your library will be available to download through September 30, 2019. If you have any questions, please email service@lessthanthreepress.com. We anticipate a large volume of requests, so please be patient as we work through replies.

Sincerely,

Samantha, Megan, and Sasha

 

 

Less Than Three has always been an incredible press full of wonderful authors and artists, editors and well, just amazing people.  We are poorer without them.  They will be greatly missed.

 

For more of this announcement, see their website.

A Stella Review: Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock Series #1) by C.F. White

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

Fate can be written in a tea bag too.

Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut.

He’s had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it’s complicated. It isn’t. He’s single. He just doesn’t want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat.

The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy’s Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers.

Tea has never tasted so good.

I picked this new release because the title and te cover interested me and the blurb sounded good too, plus I’m always on the lookout for new to me authors and I had never read CF white before. I read Love & Tea Bags and liked it a lot.

Mark and Bradley were so different, still from the beginning it was clear they were made for each other. I fell for Mark so easily and quickly, since the first chapter I found his smart mouth so endaring, sometimes a little cynical, moreover too funny.  Instead Bradley was so young and firm in his wish to woo Mark and took him from his boring life.  I appreciated how brave and stubborn at the same time both of them were; when finally Mark understood the amazing opportunity at finding a HEA he had, I had laughed and cheered on them so much, my cheeks hurt. This novel showed how literally life can change when you meet love, it is a dreamy concept, but not so far from reality.

Love & Tea Bags was a great reading, engaging, with interesting characters, with some baggage on their shoulders. I didn’t give it an higher rating cause I didn’t feel satisfied ,I wanted a little more, especially I missed Bradley POV, I think it was necessary to better enjoy the reading. That said, this is just the first installment in a new seris, I can’t wait for more.

The cover art by Erin Dameron-Hill is cute and well done, I like the colors and the font a lot.

Buy Links:  Amazon |  Pride Publishing

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, 307 pages

Published July 16th 2019 by Pride Publishing

ISBN13 9781786517951

Edition Language English

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Warm Heart (Search and Rescue #1) by Amy Lane

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

I have a long and love-filled history with Amy Lane stories and I’m sure most have been four or five stars for me, but this one squeaked in at a 3.5 and the .5 is only for the warm and fuzzy feelings I’m left with from the end.

Tevyn is an Olympic-level snowboarder, in his midtwenties, strong-willed, driven, with a dying grandmother who raised him and a manager/financier who loves him. Mallory is that manager and has come out to Tevyn’s current event to let him know his Grandma Missy is in her last days in hospice care. Mal’s the kind of guy who wouldn’t have just called—because he cares too much for Tevyn. What he doesn’t know is that Tev cares for him as well. Each hopes they’ll get a chance to finally tell the other how they feel. When they leave to get Tevyn to her side, the helicopter they’re in is hit by a vicious updraft and crashes.

The two men and their injured pilot, a friend named Damian, survive the wilds for over 5 days in a snow cave they’ve hollowed out and through extremely ingenious and highly creative ways of making things work. The only luggage they pulled from the copter before it slipped over the cliff was Tevyn’s go-to bag and apparently that young man not only carries hand warmers, water, protein bars, and extra clothing, he knows creative ways of making those all work to help them survive. Together with Mal’s high-end wool overcoat with the silk lining, a thermal blanket, and creative weaving, they manage to keep out the wind, create snow shoes, and toward the end, they even manage an impossible slide down the mountain. 

All of this lends to the excitement but the romance fell flat for me. We’re told about their past attraction and the current situation acts as a catalyst to get them talking, but when they declare their love for each other, it’s based more on the backstory that readers weren’t present for so their closeness feels more like insta-love. I didn’t feel the depth of emotion usually present in an Amy Lane story. The words were there but they didn’t penetrate my heart. I guess that’s the only way I can say this. I liked the men, separately and together, but not as a couple.

I totally disliked Mal’s best friend and former lover, Charlie, portrayed as nasty female who was jilted, though apparently she wasn’t. They parted amicably and are still business partners. And, supposedly, she and Mal have been friends for years. She acted more like a jealous bee-atch. So no, not good. I also liked Damian and his unrequited love for a young man named Preston. I hope their story is book two. In hindsight, I suspect my feelings on this book relate to how unbelievable their crash survival was and how even more bizarre their eventual trip down the mountain was. I guess you’d have to read it to believe it so don’t be put off by my review. If nothing else, it makes a great survival handbook.

The cover by Alexandria Corza features a handsome young man wearing a handknit sweater. This is a great tie-in to the sweaters knit by Grandma Missy that the guys wore in the story.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 226 pages
Expected publication: July 16th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07PRBV7V2
Edition Language English
Series Search and Rescue #1

Book Blitz for Revving It Up Box Set by WS Long (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 60,751 words
 
Publisher: JMS Books
 
Blurb



The best-selling gay romance trilogy by W.S. Long is now available in a box set! Contains the stories:


Starting His Engine: Athletic and handsome, Florida boy Caleb Youngblood has always wanted to race stock cars like his father and his brother. When Caleb falls in love with Sebastian Rush, a sports writer, he knows he must make a decision. Will he stay in the closet and follow his dream, or can he make a life with Sebastian and follow his heart?


Too Tough to Tame: Caleb and Sebastian are inching towards their wedding day. But as they plan for their special day together, Caleb is drawn back to stock car racing and Seb is being pulled into another direction by a former lover. Is their love strong enough to overcome these issues? Or is their life together too tough to tame?


Crossroads: With the prospect that he cannot return to racecar driving, Caleb worries about the future as Sebastian presses to have kids. Cujo has always wondered what would have happened if he wasn’t afraid of being with another man. When Cujo meets Tristan, Caleb and Sebastian’s roommate, can he overcome his fears to find love in a new way?

Excerpt from Starting His Engine
 

Garrison didn’t say anything until Joan and Earl left the room. Caleb moved closer and hugged his brother. “Glad you’re okay, man.”


“Thanks. What’s in the paper bag?”


“Clothes. I figured you needed to borrow a fresh shirt and shorts. Joan suggested I stop by your place and get you some clean clothes, but I wanted to come over right away without stopping at New Smyrna so I just grabbed you some of my clothes.”


Caleb handed the bag to Garrison who peered inside.


“What’s this?” He lifted a pink muscle tank top. “Holy shit! I’m not wearing this!”


“What about the shorts I brought?”


Garrison took out the blue shorts and eyed them. “These are girl’s shorts.”


“No. They’re male shorts, just a really, really, really short pair, meant to highlight posterior assets.”


“I’m not wearing these. My balls would be hanging out of them!”


Caleb snorted while Garrison threw the clothes at him. “You’re never appreciative of the things I do for you.”


Garrison mouthed the word asshole and then laughed.


“Did you expect anything less?”


“I guess not, little brother. Where have you been, by the way? You’ve been MIA for like two to three weeks.”


“Dad and I, well, I don’t know how to explain it,” said Caleb.


“Joan told me. She said dad wants Youngblood racing to focus on one driver for marketing and endorsements.”


“I guess that’s one way to put it,” said Caleb as he walked toward the window. “I asked him why, you know. He said he didn’t have to explain himself. That’s when I told him I didn’t want to ever talk to him again.”


“Dramatic much?” laughed Garr.


Caleb turned away from the window and sat next to Garr. “If he never wanted me to race the majors, why would he even let me drive period?”


“I don’t think we ever had a choice did we? I mean this is the family business. At least I didn’t have a choice — not like I’d want to do anything else. But you? You shouldn’t have dropped out of college. I know you came back because of Mom.” Garr patted Caleb’s thigh. “I’ll talk to Dad and see if I can talk some sense into him. I don’t know what’s going on lately. I know Joan and he like to keep the business side of things to themselves, but we all need to know why Dad is doing what Dad is doing.”


“You’re the better driver, Garr.” Caleb paused. “If he just came out and said, we’re going with Garrison because he’s the better, I’m fine with that. But to just say, I’m not racing anymore, especially the majors? I’m not ten years old. Dad should just give me the reasons why, not just say, I’m out. I’m done.”


They both sat in silence for a moment before Garrison spoke. “So what have you been doing lately? Bob says you show up in the shop and check out the cars when Dad’s not there and then leave.”


“I’ve been trying to send out feelers here and there about Formula racing and maybe racing for another team.”


“Does Dad know this?”


Caleb shook his head. “Nope. And don’t tell him either.”


“Joan said you’re dating a new guy?”


“That’s old news. We’ve been dating for more than a little over six months.”


“And you’ve never introduced him to me?” Garrison raised his shoulders and shrugged, and gestured for more information with a wave of his hands. “And?”


“I like him.”


“What’s his name?”


“Seb.”


“Seb?”


“Short for Sebastian?”


Garrison’s eyebrows arched. “Sebastian?”


“He doesn’t like to use his middle name, Harry.”


“Last name?”


“Rush.”


“Okay. Are we going to do very short answers, now? I’m your brother. You don’t have to be secretive around me.”


Caleb exhaled. “I know.”

 

About W.S Long


Lawyer by day, writer by night. When I’m not lawyering during the day, I’m often reading or writing gay fiction involving men who desire a happily ever after. I’m happily married to a mild-mannered college professor, who likes to escape to the Orlando theme parks, or to a faraway place. You can often find me on social media, sometimes talking about books, but many times mouthing about TV, movies and other geeky stuff involving superheroes. Oh, and I use a pen name to protect the innocent.

 
 

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Fated Mates and Shifters Your Thing? Check Out the Tour for Serpent’s Teardrop (Blackwood Pack #7) by Mary Rundle (excerpt and giveaway)

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Serpent's Teardrop - Mary Rundle

Mary Rundle has a new MM paranormal book out: Serpent’s Teardrop.

The Blackwood Pack saga continues…

This is part of an on-going series by Amazon Bestselling Author, Mary Rundle, and catching up on previous titles is advised. Readers of the past books will enjoy meeting old friends once more as the pack does what it does best ̶ caring for one another and helping shifters everywhere.

Brian, a.k.a. “The Loch Ness Monster” has searched for his Fated Mate in vain for more than 600 years until he scents Reif in the frigid waters of the lake. But his mate seems to be purposely eluding him, so Brian turns to the Shaman of the Blackwood Pack to help find him.

Reif, one of a line of ancient shifters thought to be extinct is drawn to Brian but must focus on completing a mission to free his enslaved people from the clutches of an evil group. Despite his powerful attraction to Brian, he hides from him, believing it’s the only choice he has.

That changes when Reif surreptitiously kisses Brian while he’s sleeping, setting off a chain of events that puts both of them in mortal danger, and the powerful Blackwood pack resolves to help them stave off the wrath of vampires and witches.

Along the way, both Brian and Reif learn some hard lessons about the mutual trust necessary to achieve the happiness and fulfillment both have sought for hundreds of years.

A heartbreaking confession, an action-packed rescue, a riveting courtroom battle and many unexpected twists and turns make this passionate love story by Mary Rundle impossible to put down once you’ve read the first page.

Series Blurb:

Join the journey of the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates – stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure. Each book has two main characters who meet, fall in love, mate and achieve an HEA but the stories also chronicle the continuing saga of the Blackwood Pack. The series is best appreciated by reading the books in order.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AUS | Amazon GMY | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Mary is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:

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Excerpt

Serpent's Teardrop

After brunch was over, Logan asked, “Brian, what can we do for you?”

Macushla! Nothere. C’mon everyone, let’s talk in the living room,” Kieran said, as he got up. “There’s a lot to discuss.”

Brian chuckled to himself as everyone quickly rose and followed the Shaman; no matter how big these wolves were, it was apparent they weren’t going to disagree with him. Taking a seat near Logan, Brian waited until he received a nod before beginning. “I have an intruder in my loch and I need help findin’ it. I have been lookin’ for him since I scented him the day I took the laddies out on my boat, but canna find him.”

“You use ‘it’ and ‘him’. Why?” asked Logan.

“Because I dinna know what the intruder is,” Brian answered. “Only that it can shift so it can dive deep to the bottom of the loch and then shift back when it’s on land.”

“Do you know what form it has in the water?” asked Slate.

“Naw, I’ve never seen it…only scented it in the water,” Brian replied.

“What about when it’s on land?” asked Zane.

“Naw…I can only find the place where it leaves the water because its scent ends there,” Brian said.

“Does it have the same scent on land as in the water?” asked Colton.

“I dinna know. There’s nae a scent on land…at least none that I found,” Brian said.

“Huh! Have you seen it when it’s on land?” asked Kieran.

“Naw, Shaman, I’ve never seen it on land. I can feel its presence but nae anythin’ else,” Brian replied. “I think he becomes invisible on land.”

“That wouldn’t hide his scent,” Colton said.

“Maybe it has an anti-scent spell like we do,” suggested Zane.

“What spell are you talking about, lover? You smell pretty good to me,” David said with a smile.

“Are you sure? I mean Mystia put one on each of us so our uncle and his goons wouldn’t be able to find us,” said Zane.

“David can smell you,” Kieran said, “because the gods made sure he couldn’t be affected by anything, including witches’ spells, which is why Mystia’s anti-scent spell doesn’t work on him. Your scent is still hidden from everyone else, unless you had her remove it.”

“Good to know that, babe,” Zane grinned at his mate. “One less thing to worry about.”

“So why doesn’t the intruder have a scent? Could it have a spell preventing Brian from picking it up?” asked Dakota.

Pausing a moment to listen to his spirit, Kieran answered, “No, there isn’t a spell but my spirit doesn’t know what’s concealing it.”

“What about footprints? Did you find any at the location where it left the loch?” asked Slate.

Shaking his head in frustration, Brian said, “Naw, nae a one. I dinna know how that can happen.”

Laying a hand on Brian, Kieran sent him some love as he asked, “Why don’t you tell us everything starting with the day you took me and my friends out on the loch?”

Recalling that day, Brian’s cock hardened instantly at the memory of the delicious scent washing over his body as he floated on his back in the loch. Now, squirming in his seat, hoping to hide his erection, Brian groaned inwardly, closing his eyes, finally accepting what he’d been denying all along—the intruder was his Fated Mate. How can that be? I’m too auld to have one.

“Brian? Are you all right?” asked David.

Kieran caught Brian’s eye. “I already know about it. Will that make it easier for you to tell us.”

“Ye know it’s my Fated Mate?” Brian asked, in disbelief.

“Yes, my spirit told me,” replied Kieran. “So go ahead, I promise we’ll help you find him.”

“Him? Are you sure?” Brian asked.

“Yes,” Kieran said, softly.

Relieved to know that much at least, Brian began, “I was doing a back float when a passing boat’s wake carryin’ my mate’s scent washed over me. Shifting, I dove down, searching for it, but twas weak and quickly dissipated. That night, I searched again and the scent was stronger, but as I followed it, I realized twas at least an hour old. It led to the shoreline, where I shifted and climbed onto the bank, but there was nae a trace—even though I felt its presence.

“Every night, the same thing happened, even though I went into the water at different times—sometimes early, other times later, but twas always the same… except for last night,” Brian said. “After cruising the loch, I waited until the sky turned pink before I shifted and climbed aboard my boat. As I headed below, I felt someone watching me and I sensed my mate was somewhere near the marina’s buildings, but still I could nae see him.” Brian was getting agitated by this time, prompting Kieran to lay a calming hand on him. After a few moments of silence, the sea serpent continued.

“I decided to search the area lookin’ for a clue to help me figure out who he was, but could nae find anything. I know he was close by, because I again could feel his stare and sensed his presence,” Brian said, his frustration now evident. “Please Shaman, I need yer help. I dinna know why my mate is hidin’ from me, but I feel something is amiss and he needs me.”

“Of course we’ll help you won’t we,macushla?” Kieran asked, glancing at his mate.

“My mate’s right, Brian,” answered Logan. “Our Alpha regards you as a member of the Blackwood Pack so whatever needs to be done, we’ll do.”

After hearing a chorus of ‘absolutelys’ and ‘count-me-ins’, Brian felt his sea serpent relax, confident his mate would soon be found. “Thank ye, thank ye, I canna tell ye how much I appreciate it,” Brian said, with a sigh of relief.


Author Bio

Mary Rundle

The first book I ever wrote was Dire Warning in 2017 and, much to my delight, it became an Amazon Best Seller. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates– stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.

Now, six books later, Ghost Walker, another Best Seller, has just been released to critical acclaim. I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box

My readers tell me they feel like they’re a member of the pack as the stories unfold. As if they’re right there in the middle of the action. Others tell me it’s like watching a fast-paced movie. My writing style pulls no punches– readers love it and are always clamoring for the next book.

Stories come to me as if they were being channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy details.

I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order. I’m always happy to hear from my readers and can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, MeWe, or my website.

Author Website: http://www.maryrundle.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundle69

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundleauthor

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryRundle69

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryrundle69

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14246427.Mary_Rundle

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mary-rundle/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Rundle/e/B0763CDQQ6

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock #1) by C.F. White (excerpt)

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Buy Links: Pride Publishing – To be released wide July 16
 
Cover Design: Erin Dameron-Hill
 
Length: 79,679 words
 
Publisher: Pride Publishing
 
Blurb



Fate can be written in a tea bag too.


Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut.


He’s had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it’s complicated. It isn’t. He’s single. He just doesn’t want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat.


The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy’s Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers.


Tea has never tasted so good.

 
Excerpt
 

The slurp was loud and rather obnoxious, especially when the man was sipping from one of Mark’s grandmother’s dainty china tea cups that Mark saved for special occasions. Since Mark hadn’t had any need for the guest china in quite some time, he’d let Grammy’s cardinal rule slide for the strapping workman clambering up in his loft.


“Yup, I see the problem,” the workman yelled down the open hatch in Mark’s landing ceiling that led to the over-cluttered store of stuff that Mark hadn’t set foot in for…well, quite some time.


Mark wished he hadn’t offered the man a brew. He really hadn’t had the time to wait for the kettle to boil, for a start. But he’d been brought up well, and one must offer one’s tradesmen a cuppa in the hope they’ll knock a few quid off the call-out charge. He suspected he would have to delve deep into his already ravine-like pockets, so anything that could be considered mates-rates would really help at this point in his life. Mark wished he did have mates. Ones that were handy, anyway.


“Oh, yes?” Mark called back, his voice echoing through the square hole in his ceiling. He closed his eyes, for some reason, as if that would soften the blow of what was going to come out of the man’s mouth next.


“Gonna need coupla new roof tiles, mate. A lotta this stuff is gonna get ruined.”


“Bugger,” Mark muttered into his own mug of piping-hot tea. Well, it was rude not to join the man in a beverage.


“What was that?” The man’s round, if somewhat flushed, face appeared at the hole.


“Nothing, nothing.” Mark shook his head. He didn’t much fancy repeating himself. The man might take it seriously and give him a whack. Or, which would be much worse, not take the job of fixing Mark’s leaking roof. “Thank you.” He smiled.


Mark had been told, on occasion, that he had quite a nice smile. One that relaxed people. Mark, however, believed it to be far more useful to allow people to walk all over him. Or pass by him. Through him…


With a grunt, the workman set his steel-toe-capped boots on two metal rungs of the ladder, revealing the tip of his rounded behind popping out of the elastic waistband that appeared to be failing in its one basic function. Normally, on an average Saturday night, Mark wouldn’t have minded the view, as his internet history would evidence. But today was a Monday and the man didn’t look like he would appreciate Mark’s ogling. Not that Mark was ogling. He just had nowhere else to look. Honest.


On reaching the landing, the workman crashed back into Mark. Stumbling, Mark gripped his cup with both hands to prevent the utter travesty of spillage onto the carpet. Not only did he not have time to clear up any stains—not that any would show on the swirling patterns of the seventies-design stitch work—but he also hated to waste a cup of the good stuff.


The workman hefted up his jogging bottoms, his hands empty of the china tea cup he had been avidly slurping from up in the loft. And that meant Mark would now either have to venture up into the space he avoided like the seaside lido on a May bank holiday afternoon, or leave it up there to breed new life. He knew which he would rather.


“Right.” The man scratched his stubbled chin. “See, you’re gonna need a coupla new tiles. Tha’s what the leak is. The rain we been ’avin is comin’ in frou ta ’ole in ya roof. Travelling daan the walls and dripping aaat ya ceiling.”


“Good-oh.” Mark nodded, not letting on for a single second that he had no idea what the man had just said. “Uh, can you fix it?” He mentally crossed his fingers in the hope that he hadn’t just said that he could. Or couldn’t.


“Yeah, no sweat. I can do two tiles at a ton.”


“A what now?”


“A ton.”


“A ton of what? Tiles?


“No. A hundred smackers.”


Mark blanked, shaking his head.


“Paand?”


“Oh, I see. Well, that’s not too bad then.” Mark smiled. And phewed. Mentally.


“But that won’t fix ya problem.”


“Oh dear.” Mark furrowed his brow, which he didn’t like to do all that often as the lines weren’t smoothing out after so much anymore.


“Dunno which bleedin’ cowboy did ya roof last, but they didn’t felt it.” The man tucked a tiny pencil behind his ear. Where he’d got the pencil from was Mark’s first question. Quickly followed by, do I really want to know?


“That cowboy would be my grandfather.” Mark attempted to add a hint of pride to his voice, but the vacant expression of the workman before him just made him slink into a guilty, wincing admission. “He built the house.”


“Ah. Right. ’Nover ’and-me-down was it?”


“Hand-me-down?” More deep-set wrinkles formed on Mark’s brow. He must remember to use that skincare range for men he’d got as a Secret Santa present at work last year, the one that claimed to defy even the deepest-set wrinkles. He had a hunch who’d been bold enough to buy that for him. Bloody Yvonne.


The man waved, indicating Mark’s attire. “The clothes.”


Mark held out his arms, still clutching his mug of tea, and peered down at himself. Trusty grey corduroy trousers, wonderful and comfy, and rather warm considering the current climate, matched with a white button-down shirt. The vest underneath was simply due to the fact that his dark nipples tended to show through the thin material of cheap cotton. He’d discovered that tidbit of information back at secondary school when the popular boys used to poke his nipples through his school shirt, many twisting for added effect. And people say all-boy grammar schools are a safe haven from bullying.


Mark ran a hand through his thick dark hair, sliding it across his forehead in a floppy fringe, ignoring the jibe at his attire and moving on to the pressing transaction at hand. “So you were saying about the roof?”


“Yeah. Gonna need ta replace it.” The man sniffed, his chest rising with the inhale of breath, then shrugged. “Set ya back ’bout five grand.”


The fact that Mark had chosen the man’s pause to take a sip of tea probably summed up his entire existence. It had been, of course, the wrong decision. He spat the tea out, liquid escaping from his nose, and coughed, gasping to get air, rather than the delightful Twinings English Breakfast, into his lungs.


The workman slapped him on the back. Perhaps he thought that would help the situation. It didn’t. It only exacerbated it, knocking Mark off his feet and forcing him to grapple for the banister to prevent a rather tragic tumble down the stairs.


“Better out than in, I say.” The workman did say.


Mark blanked. If only the boys at his delightful modern secondary grammar had believed in that statement back when Mark had been in year ten and announcing to the world he was gay. Not that any of his peers had had any doubt before Mark had made his fabulous speech. But Mark presumed they would have preferred him to stay in on that day, considering many had received detention for the words of “encouragement” they had called out in a perfect display of teenage camaraderie.


“Well, I can do the tiles tomorra,” the man carried on, oblivious to Mark’s inner turmoil. “Fink about the rest of da roof, though. You don’t want it cavin’ in on ya.”


Mark nodded, although, right then the thought of paying out five thousand pounds that he didn’t have made him consider the alternative option.


“Righty-oh. Thank you very much for coming out on such short notice.” Mark ushered him down the stairs.


“No probs. Give me card your granddad, then.” The man handed over a bent business card, a mobile phone number scrawled on the back with black pen along with the words The Man With The Van Who Can. Mark pondered if there was anything that he couldn’t? Or wouldn’t?


“That would be rather futile. Grampy died quite some time ago.”


“Oh.” The man squinted, stepping out into the daylight and onto Mark’s porch. “So you chose this?”


“Chose what?” Mark desperately tried not to furrow his brow.


The man waved his hand, indicating, Mark presumed, the entire house’s internal decor.


“I like antiques.” Could seventies decor be considered antique? He supposed it could.


“You get antique wallpaper these days then?”


Bastard. “Oh, indeed.” Mark nodded. “Worth a fortune.”


Mark slammed the door shut and rested his back against the wall, glancing around at the house he’d lived in coming along ten years now. It was falling apart and no redecoration had been done since probably the last time he’d been up in the loft. He sighed, slammed his mug down on the windowsill and decided now was the time for a decent cup of the good stuff.


Grabbing his black Barbour jacket from the coat hooks, he slipped his feet into the black loafers by the door then ventured out into the morning sun. And what a glorious day it was, perfect to be beside the seaside. And Mark was. He lived directly opposite the pebble beach of Marsby in the south east, a quaint little seaside town that homed more retirees than tourists. Not that Mark was retired. He could only wish for that, although he was leaning nearer to the end of his career than the start. Mid-career, perhaps? Christ, maybe I should think about actually having a career rather than simply a job that barely pays the bills?


Trying to forget that he had left a gaping hole in his roof—and now his ceiling having forgotten to shut the loft hatch—Mark rammed his hands into his jacket pockets and thanked whomever above for the abnormal radiant sun. And that was when the inevitable dark clouds glided overhead and droplets landed with splats on his cheeks. Such was Mark’s luck. So he trotted that bit faster along the pathway beside the beach and into the main High Street, stopping at the welcoming sign of Macy’s Ye Olde Style Tea Shoppe on the corner.


The bell above the door chimed as Mark hurried into his regular haunt. He’d been going there for quite a few years now, since his move back to his home town from the mean streets of London, and still hadn’t figured out why Macy added the extra p and e to the shop. He shook his hair out like a wet dog and nodded at the umbrellas Macy always offered to customers on such regular occurrences as torrential rain, a quick downpour, scattered showers and that really fine light rain that has one believing they aren’t getting wet until they get home and their clothes are sopping.


The shop was empty, which was rather odd. There was usually someone sipping on a decent cup of tea made from the loose leaves in a well-stewed pot. Macy made proper tea, using a strainer, and it tasted every bit of the aromatic leaves that it should. She was also a rather good baker and Mark was horrified that there were no buns, baps or any other derogatory term used for parts of the female anatomy displayed on the counter for Mark to scoff and instantly burn off the calories by breathing. He had a fast metabolism, which was both a dream and a curse.


As Mark slapped a hand down on the counter, he heard shuffling back in the kitchen area. Thank God Macy was there. He needed a chat. And a tea.


“Helloooo? Only me, love. Usual cuppa when you’re ready.”


Drumming his fingers on the counter, Mark swivelled a one-eighty. Vacant seats and no-one in the vicinity looking like they might want venture on in to grab a tea to go, which would be quite difficult as Macy only served tea in porcelain cups. And rightly so.


“So, Macy, love,” Mark called out over his shoulder, thinking it was best to fill her in now or he might not have time to divulge all the details of his eventful morning before he had to head into work. “I’ve decided I’m better off if I just kill myself now.”


He leaned forward over the counter, ensuring his voice would drift to the kitchen. “Turns out my roof might collapse on me anyway. And according to this rather annoyingly beefcaked member of the male species, the sight of whose perfectly rounded behind is now imprinted on me for many a future solo endeavour, and who graced me with a whole other English language making me feel every bit of my—cough—years, it’s going to cost me rather more than my arm and my leg. And I’m sadly going to have to admit it, Macy love, that I’m not sure the fellow would accept an offer of my penis as monetary value. Not that I have a wealth of offers for that part of my anatomy these days anyway. Much like the pound to the euro, I swear it’s shrinking in value.”


He chuckled at his own joke, as he so often did, then spun around to face the seating area. A couple of joggers zoomed past the window, obviously on their beachside run rather than the mad dash for cakes and biscuits that he did.


“You okay, Mace? Need a hand?”


No reply. So Mark leafed through the selection of pre-packed biscuits crammed in the bowl by the till. Macy had one of those old-fashioned registers. No electronic buttons to press. No new-fangled tablet hooked up to the mains. It was basically a calculator with a drawer.


Choosing a packet of chocolate-dipped Viennese shortbread fingers, Mark cocked his head to peer through the open kitchen door. “I mean, Macy, what is the point in filing paperwork for a living just to earn enough money to fix a roof when I have no man to enjoy the comforts of my damp-free living space along with me? And by the time I find a willing participant to snuggle with me on my antique sofa looking at my antique wallpaper in my antique house, I’ll be ready to pop my clogs anyway. So, death by sugar, please, Macy.”


He slapped the counter to finalise his self-depreciative monologue, and nearly threw up the entire contents of his breakfast when a male vacated the back kitchen. Said man was wiping his hands on a rather beautifully stitched gingham tea towel. But that wasn’t the only thing that was a delight for the eye. The man was shirtless—rippling muscles, a glowing sheen of glistening skin and white-wash jeans hanging low on his perfectly sculpted hips. Needless to say, that wasn’t Macy.


“Hello,” Mark said, because, it is the polite way to greet a man, regardless of the lack of shirt and the highly embarrassing fact that Mark had already told his life story, leaving out all, or indeed any, good bits.


“G’day,” the man replied.

 

About The Author

 

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.


Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly searches for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.


She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.


Having worked in Higher Education for most of her career, a life-altering experience brought pen back to paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Having embarked on this writing malarkey, C F White cannot stop. So strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride…


You can follow C F on Facebook and Twitter and check out her Website.

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Don’t Miss Out on the Giveaway and Exclusive Excerpt for Purple Method by Victoria Milne

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Exclusive Extract 


Rick heard Max before he saw him, even above the music. When Max poked his head into the lounge and did a quick scan, Rick expected him to leave or to speak to someone else, but after pausing for a moment, Max walked right up to him. His stomach was doing little flips, and Rick sighed, trying his best to ignore it.
“Having fun?” Max asked as he approached. His tequila bottle was half-empty already, and yet he didn’t appear to be affected by it.“Yeah, I don’t know where Pete got to.” Rick took a swig of his beer.“Best not to ask,” Max said. “Ready for something stronger?” He tried to hand him the tequila bottle again.

“No, I’m good. Thanks, though. I’m not a big drinker.”

Max huffed a laugh.

“Alien concept?”

“What gave you that idea?” Max took another gulp of his drink. Something seemed to catch his eye, and he waved. “Jade, over here.” As Rick looked toward the door to the kitchen, he groaned. This could not be happening. “Jade, this is—”

“Rick?” Jade looked at him in surprise. “What are you doing here?”

“You two know each other?”

“Um, yeah, kind of,” Rick said, recalling their occasional hookups. “Small world, huh?”

“Yeah, wow.” Jade snaked her slender arm around Max’s waist. “I guess you must’ve finished studying now?”

“Yeah, just finished. You?”

“Last year. I’m working here in Elfinbrook now.”

“How do you two know each other?” Max asked, frowning.

“College over in Leatherton when I was doing my hairdressing course,” Jade said. “Our classes were in the same building.”

“Right.”

“Oh, and we went out a couple of times.”

Rick cringed. Thanks, Jade.

Max’s expression froze for a second. “What?”

“Yeah, nothing serious, though, right, Rick? Don’t worry, sweetie, I think we got it out of our systems. I’m all yours when you decide to give me a chance.”

“I thought—”

“I’ve got a thing for blonds.” Jade laughed and ruffled her hand through Max’s hair. “Although this one keeps turning me down and pretending he’s not interested.”

“You’re my best friend’s sister. There’s no way I’m going there. Do you know how much stick Sian would give me?”

“One day you’ll give in to my charms,” Jade said and hugged him. “Make sure you drink plenty, sweetie. You deserve it after putting up with that lot on tour. See you around, Rick.”

“Yeah, bye, Jade.”

“You and Jade, huh?” Max said finally.

“She’s a sweet girl.”

“What happened to you liking guys?”

“I like guys too. I’m bi.”

“Right.”

Rick tried to hold back a smile and failed. “Is that a problem?”

“I have no reason to care who you sleep with.”

Rick took a swig of beer, giving him the courage he needed to push a little more. “Pete was right about you.”

“How’s that?” Max frowned.

Their eyes locked, and despite his effort to ignore it, a spark of desire rocketed through him. Rick grinned. “That you have a sexy ass.”

Max rolled his eyes and glanced around nervously. “He did not say that. That’s totally gross. Pete’s like family.”

Rick waited until Max looked at him again. “No, you’re right. Doesn’t make it any less true, though.”

“Are you always like this?”

“Like what?”

Max tugged at the label on his bottle. “Confident, I guess.”

“Life’s too short, right?”

“Right. Listen, I have to go see if my girlfriends are here yet.”

“Sure, I’ll see you later.”

Damn it, he should have known that was pushing too hard. And that Max would be in some sort of relationship. Flirting with Max was definitely out of the question; he knew that now. He just hoped he’d get a chance to see Max again later, that it hadn’t destroyed any chances of friendship with him.

Meet Max and Rick in a fun and entertaining summer read about a bunch of crazy-ass heavy metal musicians, a martial arts expert, and loads and loads of really delicious food. Purple Method is out on 9th July!Are you ready to join the party?

 
 
 
Length: 84,500 words 
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
 
Blurb
 

An up-and-coming heavy metal singer and a martial artist desperate to join a top MMA gym must decide how hard they’re willing to fight—for their dreams and each other.


Max Diaz is firmly in the closet, and as unbearable as that’s becoming, he can’t risk his only remaining family—his brother, Tony—or his band Purple Method’s chance to make it big.


Rick Bernstein dreams of rising in the ranks of the MMA circuit and securing a training career at a top gym, but with rejections coming thick and fast and his financial future in dire jeopardy, starting a relationship is the last thing on his mind—especially with someone who isn’t out.


But when Purple Method returns to Elfinbrook after a six-month tour, one kiss changes everything. Now Max and Rick face decisions that will change both of their lives forever.

 

Victoria Milne discovered fiction writing relatively late in life, back in 2012, and has loved every second of the journey. Her belief that life is one big adventure to be experienced to the max has stood her in good stead, but it has resulted in rather a lot of plot bunnies that don’t give her a minute’s peace!


A firm believer that consensual love should come without labels and without prejudice, these themes often appear in her stories, as do Victoria’s passions for martial arts, cooking, yoga, and loud music. It was no surprise when these subjects began to resonate in her writing, frequently taking center stage, and rather than fighting it she’s learned to accept and enjoy that these will always be indispensable elements in her work.


Although Victoria appreciates that stories don’t always have to have happy endings, hers always do—because everybody deserves to find their true love(s).


In 2016, Love Unlocked—the anthology in which her story “Writer’s Lock” was published—was a Rainbow Award finalist. The experience fueled her desire to learn as much about the mechanics of writing as she could. In 2017 Victoria completed her training with the Society for Editors and Proofreaders and became a full-time freelance editor. Victoria has always loved reading, and still can’t quite believe she’s been lucky enough to not only create books of her own but also help other writers perfect theirs too!


Website: www.purplemethod.net
Facebook: fb.me/victoriamilneauthor
Twitter: @victoria_milne_

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