A MelanieM Review: Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Hockey superstar Joey Luciano has always been good at being whatever people needed him to be. The fans want a good-looking fast-living party boy? Enter ‘the Looch,’ Joey’s carefully created public persona. But the cracks in his mask are starting to show, and he’s begun to lose touch with who he really is. It’s going to take someone who’s been there from the very beginning, to help him find his way home.

Coach Liam O’Reilly always had a very clear picture of what his life should look like. Falling in love with the infuriating, passionate, stubborn, and endlessly fascinating boy next door was not part of the plan. But when Liam’s carefully constructed life fell apart one Christmas Eve, Joey Luciano was there to pick up the pieces. Now Liam can’t stop wanting him.

The passion blazing between them on the ice and behind closed doors could leave both of them badly burned. But through the smoke, Liam can see glimpses of a future brighter than any he’d imagined, a future worth risking his career and reputation for, if only he is brave enough to reach for it.

But Joey’s got a secret he’s keeping from everyone. If it gets out, it could be the end of everything.

I really enjoyed the Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp.  It has so many elements I love in a contemporary romance, starting off with hockey players and hockey coaches in love combinations.  Or just a hockey element.  That always draws me in.  Wasp also has another aspect to this series and story I adore.  Large families that support the main characters!

Families easily identifiable by location (Boston), ethnicities (Irish and Italian), long association (neighbors), and even intertwined relationships.  This extended main cast is a huge factor in connecting the reader to the character of Joey Luciano (the Italian family) and Liam O’Reilly (the Irish one),  In a totally current and hilarious format, we often see the family members communicating with each other via group text.  It’s never overdone, totally funny, and very realistic.  It’s has the feel of family and truth.  And it brought these people and their lives right into my heart.

Joey, “the Looch” Luciano, is a 25 year old  with a lot of issues. On the outside, he’s let this “Looch” character he’s created take over his life (brash, outgoing to the  extreme that it seems like he’s hogging the media and outshining his teammates.  No one is happy with him, including himself.  On the inside it’s worse.  Wasp has created Joey as a insecure person, low self esteem to the point that he seeks approval from every source and everyone without asking himself why he needs it so.  This is an enormous issue, obviously.  Not his only one. On top of this Joey is dealing with the fact that he has loved Liam since he can remember, a love that he has never looked at what that meant.  Why?  Because he shrinks from being called gay or even bisexual.  Which imo is totally misused here with regards to Joey.

Joey is someone who has lacked self examination for most of his life and it’s not until he gets involved with Liam that he smacks into some hard realities for himself.  At about 51 percent, we get these musing from Joey…

“What did people see when they looked at him? Could they tell he was having sex with a guy? Probably not. He looked as normal as Paul and Robbie. And he wasn’t gay gay. If anything he was bisexual like Liam.”

There are so many flags in those sentences that show exactly how messed up Joey is over not only his sexuality but homosexuality in general.  Being gay isn’t “normal”?  He also has issues with femme versus masc. And as is worked out down the story, Joey really doesn’t enjoy sex with women, so no, not bisexual.  Yes, some of this flags get addressed, not as many as I wished but a lot.

There are so many broken layers to Joey, it’s just one right after enough. Panic attacks, health issues, and more that need to be seriously addressed. Are all given the depth of attention I would wish or deserve? Perhaps not but they aren’t blown off either. Believable, authentic cracks in this man.  Kudos to A.E. Wasp for creating such a character.

Liam is a strong character, older by 10 years than Joey.  I liked him and their relationship but honestly wondered if the author was going to use their hot, and admittedly kinky sex life as a bandaid for all of Joey’s deep problems.  Thankfully, the  answer is no.  Wasp let me wonder about that, while I enjoyed Joey and LIam working out their relationship and then gave me everything I hoped for in the ending of this story. That included my Washington Caps winning the Stanley Cup this year!  And therapy for Joey.  Win win.

The humor here had me cackling!  Whether it’s Knock Knock jokes or Liam’s younger brother Patrick trying to get Liam to switch out his posh furniture for a huge leather sectional that all the young hockey players can come over and watch TV on saying”

“It’s the traditional furnishings of our people!”

Well, this book and dialogue crackles with fun, the knowledge of what it is like to be young, in love, or a hockey player, or to just do dumb things.  And all of the above.

Yes, plenty of angst too.

If I also have a complaint, its the actual lack of hockey.

We get headlines, sports feeds,  but  little actual ice time.  These men are passionate about ice and hockey.  So where is the time on the ice?  Where is the sense of team?

We get little of that except towards the very end in the important game.  I wish so badly we had had lots more of that action throughout the story.  Then we could understand why Joey and Liam’s actions carried the weight of the love of ice behind them that they did.  I felt that was missing because we never really saw Joey on ice for the majority of the book.  We were told about it but never actually “felt” it through the character. And I felt that was a mistake.

But did I love this story?  Yes I did.  I thought the author did a tremendous job with the characters, actualizing a man on the brink of a life change for himself and letting us travel some of the journey with him.  Scary, messy, not totally complete, a work in progress as they say.  I think Joey would agree with that and be happy.  So would Liam and the rest of the two families.

I definitely look for more in this series.  I recommend this one for all lovers of contemporary romance and hockey and even a little love of spanking!


Cover art: Ana Phoenix.  Nice cover but doesn’t quite get the age difference.

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 462 pages
Published September 21st 2018
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHot Off the Ice #5


A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: On the Same Page (Secrets #4) by KC Wells and Parker Williams


Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

My favorite book in the Secrets series so far, this one features Heath Snow, a bookshop owner who is fascinated by one a book in which the master takes his boy to task. Single, sweet, kind, Heath figures he’ll spend his life alone with only his books to take to bed. And then late one night, a new customer shows up who will change his life. Xavier is tall, dark, muscular, a force to be reckoned with, and when he spots the book the handsome shop owner is reading, it gives him enough incentive to explore the spark between them.

I love the way the authors presented Heath—he’s strong and smart and willing to compromise. He’s also not afraid to explore his submissive side or to ask questions about the BDSM lifestyle. There’s also a spark in him that caught my attention and endeared him to me early in the story. Xavier was the perfect Dom as he guided Heath’s early steps in the world of D/s. I liked him, though his workaholism was a bit too on point and difficult to accept. As we learn later in the story, his job jeopardizes all things in his life, including his ties to Heath.

The couple gelled so well I couldn’t imagine what could break them up, but  when it happened, it made sense, and then a surprising, but believable, solution to the imminent disaster resolved the issue and allowed Xavier to apologize and grovel to win Heath back (as he well should!).

All together it’s a really nice story that hit all my feels and left a smile on my face. Heath is one of those characters who will stick with me (like Peter in Trusting Thomas) for a long time to come. I highly recommend this to lovers of MM romance, especially those who like a little kink in their stories.

The cover by Reese Dante features the two MCs: Heath with his arms around Xavier from behind. Done in dark tones, their poignant pose sets the stage for the delicious story within.

Sales Links:  Amazon |

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 224 pages
Published December 10th 2019
Series Secrets #4

A Lucy Review: Stocking Stuffers: A Holiday Themed Romantic M/M Anthology


Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Fix Me Up by H.Q. Kingsley

Nettles Small and Ian Montgomery were best friends once upon a time…

Nettles Small has retreated to his old family cabin, isolated in the woods for the peace and quiet he needs to write his dissertation. He expects a full two weeks of absolutely no disruptions as he buries himself in research and lab experiments. But when an outdoor experiment goes haywire and his equipment explodes across the mountain, knocking an unsanctioned snowboarder off his board, his plans quickly change.

Ian Montgomery is on his way to the winter olympics. he’s trained his ass off for years and finally made it. But on his way to shred down one of his secret slopes, Ian is unexpectedly knocked off his board by an unknown object and the person who rushes to nurse him back to his feet is someone he had never expected to see again.

This is the story of former friends, Nettles and Ian, who meet up accidentally on a snowy mountain.  Nettles, a scientist, is at his family’s cabin to perform experiments in order to write his dissertation. When one experiment goes awry it ends up knocking Ian, out on the mountain training for the Olympic snowboarding even, out for the count. “In my panic, I forgot one of the most fundamental things about chemicals under pressure.  They tended to explore.”  Nettles feels guilty, even though it was an accident, and he not only drags an unconscious Ian back to the cabin but gives him first add and takes care of him.  For his trouble, Ian is rude and obnoxious, even accusing Nettles of doing it on purpose.  They don’t ever really say why the two former best friends hate each other now.  It is mentioned they just grew apart but at one point “I hadn’t seen the guy in like seven or eight years, not since high school graduation when he’d bored us all to tears with his valedictorian speech.  

I had a little trouble with this one because Ian just did not grow on me.  They end up falling into bed but I couldn’t think why Nettles would want to.

Just a heads up on this story – it isn’t as long as you’d think because there are at least four excerpts at the end for other stories in this series.  I was a bit disappointed because I felt more needed to be written to explain the jump to love.

Jingle My Bells by Meredith Spies


Less than two weeks till the winter solstice and somehow it’s my fault the witches have misplaced their damned bells. If they weren’t such jerks about demon-borns being part of the Grand Council and their plans, maybe they wouldn’t need to use the stupid things anyway. But until they’re ready to admit that without us, there’d be no them, I guess they’re out of luck. It’s just dirty pool to send Whitaker Frost, scion of the Frost witch clan and sexiest man alive ohmygods to my shop when I’ve been accused of hiding those damned bells and endangering the witches’ annual winter solstice ritual to maintain their powers.


No matter what Rowan thinks, I haven’t forgotten our encounter at the summer solstice, and I know for a fact he hasn’t. The way he looks at me when he sees me in his shop just before the winter solstice is enough to set me on fire without the help of any of his demon magic. I don’t blame him for being hesitant with me—I am a witch, after all, and witches have been doing their damnedest for centuries to keep demon-born out of magical communities and gatherings. I wish he’d understand that I not only want him in the council, but in my bed, my life…

This paranormal story of witches vs demon-born was not my favorite.  The prejudice against the demon born (Rowan) was so blatant that I wanted him to lose control and blast them all.   There is a mystery of missing bells that the witch clans desperately need to keep their powers and Rowan and Whitaker act on their attraction while figuring it all out.  I also wondered by Whitaker just let Rowan be so abused at the meetings.  I mean, these people were Nasty, with a capital N.  The story of how witches came about was creative and clever.

Jake’s Heart for Christmas by Angelo Diaz

Two online friends meeting up for an unforgettable Christmas vacation.

After facing some trouble back home, Declan was more than eager to spend Christmas with his online best friend, Jake, in his hometown of Winterwood. It was everything he’d hoped it would be. The town was friendly, Jake was a ray of sunshine, and the spirit of Christmas was in every corner. What he didn’t expect was the growing connection between him and Jake. The more time Declan spent with Jake, the more the line between friendship and something more started to blur. Maybe the trip to Winterwood was exactly what Declan needed to find himself again.

Now, all he wanted for Christmas was to win over Jake’s heart.

Jake and Declan have been messaging, phoning and video chatting for over a year but they are just now meeting face to face for the first time.  Jake has invited Declan to spend Christmas at his cabin when it becomes apparent Declan’sfor the holiday were to spend it “…curled up in his bedroom.”  Declan has just been dumped by his cheating girlfriend and betrayed by his friends.  Since the two have been planning to meet, this seemed like a good time so Declan makes the trip to Winterwood, Alaska. This is a small town where everyone knows everyone else’s business (like Jake’s crush on the mountain of a bartender, Bruce) and they go out of their way to make Declan feel welcome and to make sure he knows they think he’s handsome.  It’s just what Declan needs.

Jake’s best friend, Cassidy, is awesome and perfect.  Jake has thoughts of setting Cassidy up with Declan but this isn’t the way it’s going to go.  Declan is loving Winterwood and I have to admit, I want a cinnamon roll wrapped apple pie because that sounds amazing.

I didn’t see this as a gay for you but as a finally realizing who you are.  And I loved that, as much as I loved Cassidy watching out for Jake.

I want to know how Declan’s friends stole the business from him.  It is mentioned but never really explained.

This is a really cute, sweet friends to lovers story and probably my favorite of the anthology. I loved Jake’s attitude towards Declan being a virgin and that Declan knows absolutely that he can trust Jake. Also that Declan has never seen snow before! 

One thing that irked me, and it’s just a me thing.  “I beamed with my signature charming smile.” Jake, it’s annoying when you yourself decide it’s a charming smile!

Rebel Without A Clause by Denise Wells

I’m the guy who never brings a date to a holiday party. But meeting someone at one is a different story, apparently. The bartender I undressed with my eyes? Whose touch ignited a fire in my soul when his fingers brushed against mine? He’s the one I’m prepared to break all my own rules for.

Let’s call out Jeanette.  She is so ridiculous.  “Once you’re with a real woman, such as myself, you won’t feel the need to experiment any longer.”  What?  Kris is at a Coleman party, his family-owned company, and he has to be saved from the oblivious or obnoxious Jeanette by his sister, Kelly.  I was happy to see how wonderful Kelly and Nick’s BFF Sarah areas I don’t like when all the women in a story are portrayed as witches.  But I digress.

Kris meets the man of his dreams (or maybe fantasies), Nick,  working as a bartender at the party.  Unfortunately, he has to do his duty handing out employee bonuses and by the time he returns the bartender is gone.  Kris is then again accosted by the disgusting Jeanette. “Kissing me.  With tongue and saliva.  Bile rises in my throat.  It would serve her right if I threw up in her throat.” She is awful.

As fate would have it, when Nick finally sees Kris again, He is dressed in a sort of porny elf costume, helping out at the Coleman Santa Village.  Nick is an actor but so far hasn’t found much in the way of work, hence the elf.  When Kris ends up standing in as Santa, the two get a chance to know each other.

The story is sweet with a lovely epilogue.  I had questions, such as what work does Nick end up doing since the whole “he has money and I don’t” was such an issue, but it’s complete as it is.

All Wrapped Up by Megs Pritchard

Crispin Jones had known Roan virtually his whole life, but when his disastrous marriage ended, he began to see Roan in a new light. He wasn’t simply his friend anymore. His feelings had changed to something more.

Christmas was approaching and Crispin had decided that it was the time to tell Roan the truth. The office party seemed the perfect opportunity. Would Roan accept his declarations of love, or would Crispin’s admission ruin years of friendship between them?

How terrifying is it to suddenly realize how important someone is to you but live with the fear it will destroy the best friendship you’ve ever had?   That is where Crispin is now.  He and Roan have been friends since kindergarten.  Both are now divorced from their wives, Roan amicably, Crispin not.  Crispin has come to realize that no matter how it ends, he has to be come clean and let Roan know how he feels. “He couldn’t continue hiding the truth, watching Roan move on to another woman.  Having to smile and be friendly when he saw them together.  IT would break something inside him.”

Roan is a little oblivious but he is a good person.  He loves his two-year-old daughter, Veronica, dearly and wants only the best for his ex-wife.  “We broke up because it wasn’t working.  That doesn’t mean I don’t want her to be happy because I do. She’s a great person and a fantastic mom.”  That is who Crispin has fallen for.

I felt so badly for Crispin after he tells Roan how he feels but I also felt for Roan because this is coming out of nowhere at a party where he’s been after a woman, Erica, forever and Crispin knows it.  I questioned Crispin’s thinking on having the conversation at the party but also understood he just couldn’t wait any longer. Later, he himself knows it wasn’t the ideal place.  “He should have approached him somewhere else, not dumped it on him and at a party where Roan was hoping to chat up Erica.”

I liked this one a lot. Friends to lovers is a favorite of mine, and the fact that Roan doesn’t immediately “yes, I love your guts” made it seem more real. It takes a mind shift, sometimes a big one, to go from a friend to a lover, not to mention never realizing you might be bi.   Both of these guys deserve happiness and I am positive they will continue to have it with each other.  And Crispin’s inner voice is the best.  “Great.  My life is falling apart and there’s a spider in my room.” 

A Christmas Wish by JP Sayle

Can Christmas wishes come true?

Roman Austin is shy, more than a little geeky, and thinks he’s overweight. Past experience has taught him that he’s better off with his nose buried in a book. Until the boy who left town years ago returns.

Donavan’s return makes Roman face what he’s avoided for years, himself. With each new revelation, can Roman see what is right in front of him? Will past secrets and a meddling brother stop Roman from finding love with the one man he never knew wanted him?

A Christmas Wish is a standalone sweet gay romance, a small-town friendship, and a guaranteed HFN

First off, Roman made me sad in how he sees himself.  His brother, Gabriel, is cute.  As for Roman?  “Me, I resembled one of the farmers’ cows.”  He believes his hair is plain, his eyes washed out and his body too heavy.  “Having a gay brother who was outgoing and pretty meany any chance I had with the gay population dwindled to zero.”

Even odder is the fact that Donovan, a teenager when he moved away, had crushed on Roman before he and his family moved away.  Now he’s returned, having not seen Roman in eleven years, and wants Roman. Umm, you don’t even know him! “Did my Roman have a boyfriend?”  He’s not yours, you haven’t seen him in eleven years!  Donovan moved to Hollywood with his family and ended up being a successful stuntman. You’d think he came back for Roman but in reality, he was done doing stunts after an accident claimed the life of his friend, so he quit.  I would have liked it better if all the “pining for Roman” had caused him to reach out or at least come back because of Roman, not just because he’s done in Hollywood.

This really is insta-love, which in holiday stories I am okay with.  And it is HFN, not HEA, so that made a bit more sense.  The one thing I questioned was Roman’s whole idea that he’s overweight when he isn’t.  Gabriel is a supportive, awesome brother and that was lovely to read.

One Room at the Inn by Colette Davison

Travel photographer, Ellis, is driving home for Christmas, but a freak snowstorm forces him to seek refuge in the Holiday Inn. He doesn’t expect to meet his two best friends from high school there, or to end up having to share a room with them.

Although eight years apart has changed them all, Ellis realizes he still has strong feelings for fit footballer, Zev, and loveable geek, PK. A game of Never Have I Ever and a bottle of Applejack bourbon leads to revelations about their feelings for one another.

Can anything be the same for these three men after an unexpected night of passion?

I skipped this one, as I am not a fan of MMM. 

Until After Christmas by Alie Nolan

Henry isn’t a fan of Christmas and usually spends the holiday alone, wallowing in self-pity. Until he gets drunk with his adorable, awkward co-worker at the office Christmas party and somehow finds himself with Christmas plans for the first time in years.

Callum is tired of his family setting him up with random strangers at Christmas, so when Henry offers to pretend to be his boyfriend for the holiday, it seems like he’s found the perfect solution… until real feelings get mixed up into their fake relationship.

Pretend boyfriends – a favorite trope!  Callum’s family is just the best and the way they support each other, and then Henry, made me happy. We won’t even discuss Henry’s family, who rejected him.  But as happens, fake boyfriends turn into real and in this case it was wonderful.

We do have to address the cover art. A pretty colored cover with two men dressed for winter, snow falling.  The problem?  There is a Photoshop nightmare happening with a giant arm stretching around the man in front, supposedly of the man in back but it’s really not well done and is so bizarre!

Sales Links:

Amazon: http://bit.ly/StockingStuffersKK

Apple Books: http://bit.ly/AppleStockingStuffers

Barnes & Noble: http://bit.ly/BNStockingStuffers

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 728 pages
Published December 1st 2019
ASIN B0816Y974H

An Alisa Review: Awakening (Wild Oak #1) by J.J. Harper


Rating:  4 stars out of 5

A prophecy, a True Alpha, and fated mates. Can Ascha accept that his life has changed forever?

At twenty-one, Ascha Stanton has it all: a wonderful family, great friends, a long-term girlfriend, and a promising career as an NFL star.

The appearance of three unknown men in his small town changes everything. Not only his life and future but also what he always thought himself to be: straight. Why then is he attracted to the handsome auburn-haired Thaddeus? How can Ascha hear his thoughts? And even more intriguing, what does the mark on both their chests mean?

Thaddeus explains a new path has been paved for him, one with the Wild Oak pack, who has been waiting for seventy years for the True Alpha to show himself and fulfill the prophecy.

Will Ascha accept that Thaddeus is the man he’s destined to be with, and will the rival pack accept him as their new leader?

Awakening is book one of an MM Wolf shifter series with elements of fantasy and mention of Mpreg. It includes some sweet loving, a lot of disbelief and more than a little snark.

I really enjoyed this book, though I felt as is Ascha was thrown into a situation where if he had had a little bit of background it would have prevented some of the grief.  I think this is a great start to this new series and look forward to seeing more of how these guys deal with the conflict coming their way and hopefully we’ll get to see Thad have a baby in the future.

I can understand Ascha’s hesitation at giving up his whole life because of a prophesy but was glad that he was able to understand it, though I don’t think the whole Ascha being trapped back at school really helped the story, it just made the college look bad.  I really enjoyed Ascha’s attitude and snark, he’s not going to let someone talk him into something he doesn’t feel is necessary but he can also understand the benefit of some things (even if it takes a bit of convincing and time).

I liked Thad, though I wish they would have talked about the fact that he hadn’t had anal sex with someone either because it was one of the things that bugged Ascha right away (even if he didn’t vocalize it).  Thad was quite understanding for the most part though he had times understanding Ascha’s hesitation since he has lived as a wolf his entire life.  I also enjoyed the interactions with Thad’s friends and then when Ashca’s friend Sam joined them and Thad’s father was a great support for them both, Caleb needed to learn to tone it down and I’m still unsure of his attitude and how he will act in the future.

I really like the cover art by Tammy Clarke and think it works well for the story.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 268 pages

Published: November 23, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: Wild Oak #1

Join Us for the New Release Blitz for The Marshal’s Teacher (Yours To Protect #3) by Este Holland (Author Interview and Excerpt)


Banner 1
The Marshal’s Teacher
(Yours to Protect, Book 3)
By Este Holland

Marshal's Teacher 1.jpg

Publisher: Self-Pub
Release Date (Print & Ebook): December 12, 2019
Length (Print & Ebook): Approx. 40,000 words
Subgenre: lgbt/action
Warnings: talk about deaths of parents

Book Link: mybook.to/marshalsteacher

Book synopsis:

Protecting him is no hardship.

Chaze Pullman has a sixth sense for trouble. He never thought it would come in handy when a man threatens him over a hot US Marshal.

Kean York may be recovering from a gunshot wound, but he’ll go to any length to protect a certain stubborn man. After all, Chaze’s life was put in danger because of York…

Or was it?

When emotions run high, information can be overlooked, and Chaze’s instincts are telling him something else is going on.

Something that may not involve him at all.

This is the third book in the Yours to Protect series. It’s novella length with a cliffhanger for the overall plot of the series, but it is HEA for the main characters.

Teaser 4.png


Chaze called the next day, and they arranged to meet at York’s house later that night. It wasn’t the weekend yet, but he’d sounded…not desperate, more like in a hurry.

York smiled as he made the bed with clean sheets. He stocked the fridge with plenty of cold beer, then showered. He had to be careful how he moved and to not to get his stitches wet, but he managed. He was feeling better already.

Date. He’d promised a date, not sex, but it didn’t hurt to be prepared. And he liked Chaze. He didn’t want to screw up. There was something about him that made York feel good, like he wanted to be near him more and more every time he saw him.

They’d agreed to stay in, since it was still difficult for York to move around much, so he ordered dinner ten minutes before Chaze arrived. And arrive he did, in tight jeans, a black, short-sleeved button-up, and a loose, skinny blue tie.

Damn. It was going to be difficult to keep his head on straight when all he wanted to do was peel off those jeans, blindfold Chaze with that tie, and suck his cock.

“Hey,” York said, stepping aside and to let him in.


“You look great.”

“Oh, thank you.” He pulled on the tie. “I had a meeting this morning.”

He blushed, eyes darting around the room. York chalked it up to first-date jitters.

“How are you feeling?” Chaze asked.

“I’m good. I can move more today.” York demonstrated by rolling his shoulders carefully.

“That’s good.”

“Have a seat. Want a drink?”

“Yeah, beer, if you have it. Thanks.”

York took his time getting the frozen mugs out of the freezer and pouring two Coronas and squeezing in limes. He figured Chaze could use the time to settle.

“Here you go.” He brought the drinks in and set them on the table just as the doorbell rang. Chaze jumped and York chuckled. “It’s dinner. I hope Thai is okay.”

He blew out a breath. “It’s fine.”

Chaze lifted his mug and gulped half of it in seconds. York’s brows rose. He opened the door, gave the driver a tip, and brought the food into the kitchen.

Was Chaze that nervous to be there? Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea. Disappointment made York’s shoulders sag, and he winced at the tug of pain. He’d foregone a pain pill since that morning so he could drink.

He made two plates of food with a little bit of everything and carried them to the living room. Chaze stood studying the bookshelves. York didn’t have a lot of books, but enough were interspersed between the various photos and knickknacks he’d accumulated over the years to make him seem less plebeian.

“Are you sure you’re okay?” York asked, setting the plates on the coffee table. “You’re a little jumpy.”

Up close, York could see dark circles under Chaze’s eyes.

“I…” He ran those slender fingers through his hair, pushing back the front. “I don’t know what to do.”

Chaze’s voice held a certain note York associated with witnesses or victims, and his training kicked in. “Hey, it’s okay. Whatever it is, we’ll get it sorted out.” He gripped Chaze’s arm and guided him to the couch to sit. “Just start at the beginning.”

Teaser 2.png

Interview with Este Holland:

How long have you been writing?
I wrote my first novel in 2012, so 7 years. Though, I’ve written other things since I was in elementary school.

Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes! I’ve always loved books. I’m an avid reader, but writing was always something I craved. I used to have a binder with a story that was going to be my first novel. I was about nine or ten years old, I think. Can’t remember what it was about.

Writing is the one thing I do consistently, and the one thing that holds my interest. Jobs I’ve had always get boring after a few years…but not writing.

What advice would you give a new writer, someone just starting out?
Watch your filters. One way to spot a new writer is when their sentences are filtered with pronouns and verbs. You hear people say, “show don’t tell”. Basically, this means don’t use: to see, to hear, to touch, to sound, to taste, to realize, to look, to notice etc… For example: “She realized he was it for her.” You don’t need “She realized”, it’s implied by the context of your paragraph. I’m still guilty of it and have to cut them when I’m editing. You don’t always have to cut all of them, but 99% of the time you can. So, if you see them in my books, you can point and laugh and say, “Ha ha, she missed one!”

How do you handle writer’s block?
I don’t really get writer’s block (knock on wood). It’s more of a laziness thing with me, lol! Some days, I have to force myself to write. And it’s not that I don’t love to write, I do. But if the characters aren’t jumping out at me, I have to make myself write a few sentences, then a few more, until I have enough words that I feel productive for the day. Luckily, that doesn’t happen all the time.

What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
Good characters. You have to have compelling, fascinating characters. I think importance is place on relatability, and while that is a good trait for characters, the characters who really stand out are the ones that fascinate us. Take Snape in Harry Potter. I won’t go into details, but you know what I mean. He wasn’t likeable, or particularly relatable. We hated him, but in the end, he was the most compelling character in the series, in my opinion. I can only hope I write a character like that one day. I haven’t yet.

What comes first, the plot or characters?
For me, it’s the characters. Usually. My last release, First Priority, came about because I wondered what Emperor Kuzco from the Emperor’s New Groove would be like as a character in a mm novel. Weird, yes. But there you go. It’s a writer’s brain. (It was Truman, btw, if you’ve read it. Obviously, I changed him along the way!)

In the Yours to Protect Series, Rio was the first character I thought of. (He’s one MC from The Artist’s Boxer.)

How do you develop your plot and characters?
They tell me who they are. I start with a name and general idea of what they look like in my head. Maybe what they do for a living. My plots are simple to start. I don’t outline, I’m a pantser, and the plot evolves as I go. It’s not a good thing to do for a series, but I wasn’t entirely sure I was going to write a series from Yours to Protect until Kai popped into Rio and Rake’s story. I knew I wanted to give him a story, so I decided who I wanted to pair him with, and he was already working for the mob, so the plot for The Marshal’s PI evolved out of that.

Are you working on anything at the present you would like to share with your readers about?
Right now, I’m writing the fourth book in this series, The Marshal’s Mobster. Actually, I’m kind of alternating between that one and the second Priorities book.

Do you have any new series planned?
I have The Marshal’s Mobster, which is the last one, and then a character from those books (Luke Kairo) will get his own sort of standalone book, which I’m hoping to transition into a spin off series in LA. It’s about a secret intelligence agency. That’s on the back burner for now though.

I will have two more books in the Priorities series first. Daniel and Riley, and Brian and Jay. And I have another book to write for my paranormal series, The Metis Inquiries, but that’s a way’s off.

More from Este
Yours to Protect Series

Yours to Protect.png

The Artist’s Boxer (Yours to Protect Book 1)

Screenshot 2019-12-05 15.57.25.pngHe won the championship. Now he must run for his life.

Winning the welterweight championship was everything Rake had worked for. Now it’s all come crashing down, and he has no choice but to flee his hometown of Las Vegas.

When he stops in a small town in Utah, Rake meets a man who makes him forget all about the danger he’s in.

Rio has a good life. He loves his family and career, but when Rake blows into town, something stirs in his blood…something like desire.

Rio doesn’t do relationships, not since the last disaster, but Rake makes it impossible for him to say no.

When Rake comes clean about what he’s running from, Rio just might have a way to help.

Now the two of them must fight to free Rake from the man who took everything…and stay alive until the end.

The Artist’s Boxer is the first book in the Yours to Protect series. It contains mature sexual content of hot adult men, intended for readers 18 and older, a one-night stand turning into several days, and a crafty old man who loves to butt into his grandson’s life.

Book Links:
Amazon US | Universal Link | Goodreads | BookBub

The Marshal’s PI (Yours to Protect Book 2)

Screenshot 2019-12-05 16.24.29.pngDodging bullets shouldn’t be fun…should it?

It is when the man protecting you is hot as sin.
Kai is a happy-go-lucky guy. At least, he was before the mob came knocking on his door.
He’ll go to any length to protect a secret, even work with US Marshal Gannin West.
The only man who can help.
The only man who drives him crazy.

To figure out how to stop the one who wants Kai erased, he’ll have to cooperate… But will it be too late?

The Marshal’s PI is the second book in the Yours to Protect Series. It features a goofy PI who wishes he lived in the 1930s, and a Federal Marshal who hates breaking the rules. Male/male romance, action, adventure, enemies to lovers, 18+ only.

Book Links:
Amazon US | Universal Link | Goodreads | BookBub

About the Author:

Est H.jpg

Este Holland is a writer and reader of all things Romance. She’s also a treasure hunter, a word wizard, a lover, and a fighter. She was born and raised in WV, and now lives in Virginia. She works in marketing during the day. She began writing novels in 2012.

Facebook Group

Teaser 5.png

Screenshot 2019-09-12 19.20.38.png


In the Spotlight and Giveaway:Anyone but You by Brien Michaels


Anyone but You by Brien Michaels

Riptide Publishing

Published December 9th 2019
Cover art: LC Chase

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing |


About Anyone But You

Murder is one hell of a drag.

Jack Kieza has a problem. He’s deeply attracted to men, but his homophobic family has left him too afraid to act on it. With his thirtieth birthday around the corner, his curiosity gets the best of him, and he finds himself at a gay club. After spending a fiery night with drag queen Sheila Saltue, everything changes. Especially when he discovers her alter ego: his boss, Ryan Swift.

Ryan knew he should’ve said no the second Jack approached him. Now he can’t stop himself from texting Jack every chance he gets. But Jack won’t let him take the wig off during sex, and being Sheila off-stage is wearing thin.

The more time they spend together, the more intense their feelings get, but Jack isn’t ready to date a man yet. When drag queens start turning up murdered, it forces Jack to reexamine his feelings, because what if Ryan is next? While Jack wants their burgeoning relationship to work, it would mean having to admit who he is to the world. And that’s an idea as frightening as death.

Available now from Riptide Publishing!

About Brien Michaels

Brien Michaels was hatched shortly before the turn of the century. He grew up in the DMV area and has been creating characters for as long as he can remember, starting with an imaginary friend named Farquad Beaverhausen. Before turning his considerably wicked imagination to writing, he was an actor, aspiring film student, movie theater concessionist, and the first human to enter the seventy-second dimension. Though it is unclear whether he made it back or if Farquad’s evil twin, Brad, has taken control of his body. He’s currently on the run from the Secret Police, who want to bring him in for questioning regarding the whereabouts of erotica authors L.A. Witt and Lauren Gallagher. If you encounter him, please contact his publishers immediately, as he likely should be chained to a desk writing and not out walking children in nature.

Twitter: @BrienMichaels



To celebrate this release, one lucky person will win a $10 gift card to Riptide. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 14, 2019. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info! 

Cover Reveal for Inheritance (Deadly Curiosities #4) by Gail Z. Martin (with excerpt and giveaway)



Book Title: Inheritance

Author: Gail Z. Martin

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Release Date: October 22, 2019

Genre/s: Urban fantasy with romantic elements.

(Note—Characters from my Morgan Brice (MM paranormal romance) books make several key appearances in this book.

Also, a long-time committed MM couple figure prominently in the plot).

Trope/s: Established relationships, strengthening commitment, supportive partners, protective partners

Themes: Friendship, found family, loyalty, family always has your back, trust

Heat Rating:  0 – 1 flame (No sex, kissing/hugging for MF and MM characters)

Length: 66 000 words/ 222 pages

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

Add on Goodreads



Can Cassidy and her friends find the demon box, stop the killer ghosts, and break the Pendlewood curse before Beckford’s murderous cousins and the vengeful demon destroy them all?



Cassidy Kincaide runs Trifles & Folly in modern-day Charleston, an antiques and curio shop with a dangerous secret. Cassidy can read the history of objects by touching them, and she teams up with friends and allies who use magic and paranormal abilities to get rid of cursed objects and keep Charleston and the world safe from supernatural threats.

Caribbean ghosts terrorize Charleston and start racking up a body count. Then Beckford Pendlewood, the heir to a powerful family of dark warlocks, shows up raving about a bound demon locked in a lost box and begs sanctuary. Can Cassidy and her friends find the demon box, stop the killer ghosts, and break the Pendlewood curse before Beckford’s murderous cousins and the vengeful demon destroy them all?


Buy Links 

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK



From Chapter 1 

“I have a problem antique I’d like you to take a look at.” The man on the other end of the call sounded rattled. I recognized his name—Alfred Stone, from Stone Auctions—but I didn’t think we had ever spoken, let alone met.

“What kind of ‘problem’ does it present?” I asked. A number of possibilities came to mind. “Questionable provenance? Not sure how to authenticate?”

“I think it’s trying to kill me.”

Well, damn. That kind of problem. “All right, Mr. Stone. Try to stay calm.”

“I just told you, it’s trying to kill me. I heard you…know…about these things. Please, help me.”

Across the store, Teag Logan glanced up to make sure everything was all right. I nodded, and he went back to helping a customer.

“I can come now. Are you at the showroom?”

“Yes. Thank you. And…please…hurry.”

I ended the call and sighed. This might be the first time Alfred Stone had an antique try to kill him, but that made it just another day here at Trifles and Folly.

I’m Cassidy Kincaide, and I own Trifles and Folly, an antique and curio shop in historic, haunted Charleston, South Carolina. The shop has been in my family for more than three hundred years. While we’re known as a great place to buy high-quality antiques, the shop is also a cover for the Alliance, a coalition of mortals and immortals who save Charleston—and the world—from supernatural threats. I’m a psychometric, which means I can read the history and magic of objects by touching them. Teag is my assistant store manager, best friend, and sometimes bodyguard—and he’s also a talented Weaver witch. Sorren, my business partner, is a nearly six-hundred-year-old vampire. Together with some other friends with very specialized abilities, we do our best to keep the world safe from dark magic and things that go bump in the night.

“Problem?” Teag asked when the customer left.

“I’m not sure,” I replied. “Alfred Stone just called—from the auction house. He says he’s got an item that’s trying to kill him.”

“You want me to go with you?” Teag pushed a lock of dark hair out of his eyes. His skater-boy haircut and skinny jeans made him look younger than his late twenties. “Maggie can handle the store.”

On cue, Maggie—our lifesaver of a part-time associate—waved to agree from the other side of the store. She was sporting a new bright pink streak in her short gray hair, and it matched her sweater, a reminder—as if I needed one—that she believed in taking risks and living large.

I reached up to slick my humidity-frizzy strawberry blond hair back into a ponytail and shook my head. “Let me go see what the problem is, and I’ll figure out what to do from there. It’s not far away, in case I need to give a shout.”



About the Author 

Gail Z. Martin writes epic fantasy, urban fantasy and steampunk for Solaris Books, Orbit Books, SOL Publishing, Darkwind Press, Worldbuilders Press and Falstaff Books. Recent books include Convicts and Exiles, Sellsword’s Oath, Inheritance, and Night Moves. With Larry N. Martin, she is the co-author of the Spells Salt & Steel, Wasteland Marshals, Joe Mack and Jake Desmet series. As Morgan Brice, she writes urban fantasy MM paranormal romance including the Witchbane, Badlands and Treasure Trail series. Recent books include The Rising, Flame and Ash.

Get a free complete short story, Catspaw here



Social Media Links

Blog  |  Website  |  Facebook  |   Facebook Group  |  Twitter @GailZMartin  |  Pinterest

Newsletter Sign-Up  |  Instagram  |  BookBub  |  Goodreads  |  Amazon Author Profile



Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of three $10 Amazon Gift Cards

a Rafflecopter giveaway



Check out the other blog posts here


Hosted by Gay Book Promotions