An Alisa Review: Înflori by A.F. Henley

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Dustin gave up on being worthy of anyone’s affections a long time ago, drowning his problems in substance abuse and meaningless encounters. He has learned it’s better to avoid love altogether than risk the inevitable moment when it all comes crashing down.

Nicolae has neither eyesight nor excess, but he does have a wealth of family and intuition. He is nothing Dustin would have anticipated in a potential lover, but the more Dustin discovers, the more he finds himself willing to accept the risk … even if his conscience and the people in his life keep warning him away.

Okay, I spent most of this book wondering what the heck was going on.  Nicolae’s intuition is right on the money but it felt like he was playing with Dustin and Dustin was just left without knowing what was going on or what he needed to do.  They seem to develop a pretty solid relationship by the end but I felt like I missed all the important parts of their relationship.

The cover art by Written Ink Designs is nice but I don’t know how well it connects with the story.

Sales Links: JMS Books | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 47,314 words

Published: October 2, 2019 by JMS Books

ISBN: 9781646561056

Edition Language: English

Needing a Holiday Romance? Check Out Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert Release Blitz (excerpt)

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Mr. Right Now

Annabeth Albert

M/M Contemporary Romance

Release Date: 11.14.19

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Blurb

He’s Mr. Right Now, but for how long?

When Russ suffers a Thanksgiving disaster, his gorgeous neighbor Esteban is there to save the day. And after an innocent mix-up leads to the former Hollywood hottie playing the role of Russ’s date, Russ thinks scoring Esteban as his fake boyfriend is a huge win. The newly discharged marine is healing inside and out and could use some holiday cheer.

For his part, Esteban is intrigued by his big, bad neighbor. He likes how his matchmaking cat brings out an unexpected caring side of Russ. Desire flares as the reasons to continue their ruse pile up for both men.

And pretending feels so good. From chocolaty kisses to late night cuddles, their burgeoning friendship is getting cozier and cozier. But as the end date for their little deception looms, all the real feelings they’ve tried to ignore come tumbling in. Each must decide whether they have what it takes to ring in the New Year as a couple.

Mr. Right Now is a stand-alone holiday novella with sweet, low-angst feels, spicy love scenes, and foodie inspired, quirky Oregon romance with a military flavor. Happy ending guaranteed with no cliffhangers!

Tags: neighbors-to-lovers, fake boyfriend, holiday romance, friends-to-lovers

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48481844-mr-right-now

https://amzn.to/2JTW01L

Mr Right Now Kiss TeaserMr. Right Now Teaser PicsMr. Right Now Cat Teaser

Excerpt

Russ didn’t consider himself an angry guy, but as he carried the blackened and flaking skillet out to the trash, he was seriously considering violence toward the misbehaving onions that had transformed from raw to charred before he could save his pan. The mess was far too gross for pitching into his small under-the-sink can.
Adrenaline pumping more than it needed to be, he heaved the pan into the shared dumpster for his condo community where it landed with a satisfying clang. “Take that, Thanksgiving.”
Now he needed to go back into his place and decide how to cope with the loss of his one large skillet. If he didn’t pass out from the stench first. He sagged against the fence surrounding the dumpster and took some deep breaths.
“Problem?” A familiar, deep voice asked.
Hell. Of course, he wasn’t alone in his humiliation. No, his next-door neighbor was right there, neat white bag of trash in hand. And not the older woman who occupied the condo on the corner. This would have to be the hot neighbor, Esteban.
With his full head of dark hair shot through with silver strands, lush mouth, chiseled features, and lean build, Esteban always managed to look like a magazine spread of forty-something Hollywood heartthrobs. He even looked good taking out the trash. Today he was wearing a black T-shirt advertising last year’s Pride Run, turquoise running shoes, and gray shorts way too short for the dreary November Portland weather.
“Not really.” Russ tried for a casual tone.
“Trying out for the next Olympic shotput team? Or did that pan commit some unpardonable offense?” Esteban laughed lightly, in his usual good humor.
His voice was as Hollywood-worthy as the rest of him, rich and sinful even when teasing. Nothing seemed to faze him, not his escape-artist cat, not the continual parking issues for their condo complex, not mail mix-ups, and not Russ taking his frustrations out on his cookware.
“The second. Ruined my stuffing before it even got started.” He groaned, hating how the explanation sounded, but also not one to lie simply for the sake of looking better. Even if Hot Neighbor Esteban was totally worth a white lie or two.
“There’s a joke there…” A smile teased the edges of Esteban’s full mouth. “Let me guess, your family assigned you a dish you’ve never made before to bring to dinner?”
“Worse.” Might as well confess everything. “I’m supposed to be hosting. And I was supposed to have help, but then my…boyfriend broke up with me last night, and now I’m on my own.”
It still felt weird, that word “boyfriend” on his tongue, even when he was almost certain that Esteban, the guy his Realtor had described as a “hot, gay, former movie star,” wouldn’t care. Heck, if he was honest, that descriptor, plus the convenient single-story layout, had sold him on the condo several months back.
“Oh, man. He seriously left you hanging, didn’t he?” Eyebrows creasing, Esteban shook his head. “Didn’t he even leave you a cookbook or a menu for the meal?”
“Nope. Just me and Chef Google. Tried to make a plan this morning.” Russ tried for an upbeat tone again. “There’s apparently a limit to what cooking videos can teach on the fly.”
“Yeah, there is. Is there anything I could do to help?” Esteban seemed sincere in the offer, voice warm and sympathy clear in his brown eyes.
It was the kind of offer Russ would ordinarily turn down. He was a former marine, and he liked to think he could handle himself in most situations. As a result, he didn’t like relying too much on strangers, or even friends, and he’d gotten a little too good at distancing himself from well-meaning buddies from the military.
But Thanksgiving meant these were not ordinary times. He was well and totally screwed for hosting dinner.
“Do you have a large nonstick skillet I could borrow?” he asked. “Most stores are probably closed, and even for the ones that are open, by the time I go and come back…”
“I’ve got you.” Esteban clapped him on the shoulder, strong grip that belied his lean build.
The rumors were probably right about Esteban’s movie-star career. He was one of those perfectly proportioned people—neither tall nor short, shoulders more in keeping with his running habit than linebacker-wide, slim torso, toned legs, and long, elegant fingers that always made Russ feel that much bulkier and clumsier.
“I…uh… Can I get it now? I’ll bring it back later. And if another disaster happens—”
“It won’t.” Laughing again, Esteban shivered as a breeze whipped through their corner of the courtyard.
“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Russ admitted, trying his best to ignore the impulse to warm up Esteban. Between his electric touch and the adorable way his cheeks went pink in the chilly wind, there was no denying Esteban’s appeal, even if Russ had sworn just last night that he was over attractive guys forever. “But I’ll replace it if it gets ruined.”
“Appreciated, but I’m coming with the pan. I can get you started sautéing without torching anything at least. You need another onion? I’ve got plenty.”
“You want to help me?” Russ blinked. This was…unexpected.
Annabeth Coffee Logo

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. Mr. Right Now joins her many other critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series and stand-alone titles. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

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 particularly loves uncovering unique main characters. In her personal life, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

Social Media Links

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/

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Fan group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/annabethsangels/

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

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

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Don’t Miss Out on the Release Blitz for In This Bed of Snowflakes We Lie by Sophia Soames (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: In This Bed of Snowflakes We Lie

Author: Sophia Soames

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Miriam Latu

Release Date: November 14, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forced Proximity, Christmas, Family,

Themes: Christmas, family, coming out, University Dorm living, Norway, Scandinavia

No triggers or warnings. No age gap, University aged student MC’s.

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 62 891 words

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

 

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

 

Love is supposed to be easy. You are supposed to find your person and fall in love, and then you hold each other and kiss and live happily ever after. 

Well, Erik has ended up in the wrong bloody love story. He is stuck in the one full of angst and worries and confusion and pain. Lots of pain. 

 

Blurb

Oskar Høiland hides from life. It just makes things easier that way, not having to face all the fears and drama of living. He especially hides from other people, because Oskar has grown up fearing the snide remarks and the quick glances that strip him of the tiny scraps of confidence he still has left. He is just going to keep existing. Work hard to complete his medical degree and perhaps watch a few more series on Netflix in peace and quiet over Christmas. 

Erik Nøst Hansen should be an almost fully-fledged adult. He should be able to sort out the mess that festers in his head and stop lying. It’s just hard. And it’s bloody terrifying to even acknowledge the thoughts that swirl around in his head at night when he can’t sleep. He also needs to figure out how to talk to the boy downstairs. The one with the golden curls and the crooked smile. The boy who is completely monopolising Erik’s messed-up heart. 

A story of falling in love and being brave. A Christmas tale with a difference, set in the university dorms of central Oslo, where lies are uncovered, snowflakes are falling all over the place, and beds are made to lie in. There is a slightly unconventional family. A mess of animal onesies. Too much food and a very Merry Christmas. 

 

 Excerpt 

Oskar’s first instinct is to flee. Run. Hide somewhere until the thing in his bed has disappeared. He blinks. Shakes his head in disbelief and looks again. 

Nope. He’s still there. There is still a very-much-fast-asleep person in his bed, his breathing soft against Oskar’s pillow, and that ridiculous pink bandana is sliding down over his eyes. 

He moves carefully to get a closer look, then recoils back as he remembers. No clothes! He is stark naked in his own room, like a normal person would be. It’s just, this dude is there. Right there. On his bed.

Yes, he had left his door unlocked, but then that doesn’t mean any random person can just come in and decide to sleep in his bed? Does it? Especially when the random person is flat-out drunk. Oskar can smell the alcohol now, his body recoiling at the fumes escaping along with little bubbles of spit at the corner of the dude’s mouth. Beer-scented mouthfuls of air with every breath. Every little snore. 

He doesn’t know how he didn’t realise someone was here before. I mean, the dude is not exactly quiet, snuffling and snoring and smacking his lips together in his sleep. 

Oskar’s eardrums are still ringing from having his earphones on the highest volume, and the beats from upstairs are still going strong, but still, he should have noticed. How the fuck didn’t he notice?

There are a pair of threadbare joggers on the floor, which he pulls on, and the t-shirt on the floor looks clean enough, so he pulls it over his damp hair and tiptoes further up along the side of his bed to get a closer look. 

It’s definitely one of the guys from upstairs. The tall pretty one. The one with all the girlfriends. The one with the reputation.

Yes, Oskar listens. He might not speak much to the other students, but his hearing is good—well, it was until today, and he will sue if his hearing is damaged from this bloody party, starting with suing the pants off this dude that has crashed Oskar’s planned Netflix marathon—and he pays attention to the stories. The tall tales of weekend shenanigans. The obvious boasting and lies. And the things that might actually be true.

Like the whispers doing the rounds about this guy. The tall one with the messy dark-brown hair and full lips. Kisses like he means it. Great lay apparently. Can get any girl he wants. That’s what he has heard. Hangs around with the dark-haired guy with the black floppy fringe, and that lanky boy with the frizzy hair. Well, he probably hangs around with everyone. Always smiling and never alone. Never sitting on his own in the cafeteria like Oskar, hiding in the corner with his headphones on. 

No, this dude is always the centre of attention. Surrounded by people clinging to his every word. Laughing at his jokes. Staring adoringly at him as he throws his head back in laughter. 

Except this dude is now here. And Oskar hasn’t got a clue what to do.

He could go get Freddie, he supposes, and they could probably manhandle the dude out of the room. Dump him on the sofa for the night. He is quite sure the girls would approve, and in the morning, he would wake up and find this guy on the sofa making all the girls laugh, having charmed them into making him coffee and buttering his toast and spoon feeding him their secret imported stash of Swedish Treo hangover fizz, whilst placing tiny morsels of hot buttered toast on his tongue. 

He pushes that scene out of his head with a sigh. The boy is his problem. He is in Oskar’s bed. And if he doesn’t get him out of here, things will be shit awkward in the morning, he is sure of that. 

“Dude,” he whispers, and nudges the guy’s shoulder before he can stop himself. He should think this through, make some kind of plan. Maybe wake him up gently so he doesn’t scare the shit out of the poor guy, waking up and realising he has crashed in Oskar’s bed, instead of wherever he thought he was crashing.

 He probably took a wrong turn, thinking this was Madeleine’s room. Or Ingvild’s. Or one of the other girls. Maybe he thought he could get lucky by just throwing himself in some lucky girl’s bed. Just like that. Oskar wonders if people do that, just full-on go for it and shamelessly offer themselves like that. 

Oskar shudders at the thought. It’s a mistake whatever it is, and Oskar won’t let him get away with this. Not tonight. Not now. He doesn’t need the grief, or the inevitable shaming in the morning when this dude tells all his friends that the nerd downstairs tried to get him in the sack. Lies and raw laughter trying to make light of a situation that he knows will end badly, with Oskar being the butt of every joke. The one the girls will gossip about and point their fingers at. The one that came on to one of the beautiful people. One of their people. Where Oskar just doesn’t belong.

Because the boy is beautiful, even Oskar can see that. Soft long dark hair framing his face, freckles decorating his pale skin and those lips. Even his fucking profile is perfect, his straight nose burrowing into Oskar’s pillow. 

“Dude, come on! Wake up.” Oskar shakes his shoulder this time, but the guy is dead. Dead to the world. Not a hint of pretending to wake up. He just snores and burrows further into the pillow.

“YO. MATE!” This guy is no mate of his. Nor will they ever be, mates or whatever, but Oskar is shouting now. Desperate. He needs to get to bed. He needs an hour of some mindless American sitcom to calm him down. He needs to sleep. Please. 

He tries to pull the guy off the bed, grabbing the dude by the ankles only to realise the guy is still wearing shoes. Big clumsy boots with heels. Ridiculous. I mean who wears shit like that in the middle of winter? It’s not like December in Oslo is the place for something that wouldn’t look out of place in a Texas Rodeo. 

“Fuck,” he grits between his teeth. 

The sofa out in the main room is seriously uncomfortable. No one ever bothers to even  sit on it, and even if he considers sleeping there, the bleach fumes would make him retch before long. 

It’s not like he could go sleep in anyone else’s room. It’s just not the kind of thing he could do. Not his thing. Not that he is close enough to any of the others to warrant such a request. 

He could sleep on his own floor, he supposes, except that the dude is lying on top of his duvet. 

It takes a few good pulls, but finally the duvet gives way and the dude rolls over as Oskar drags the fabric from underneath his body. He almost bursts into laughter, because the dude is now on his back, mouth wide open and the bandana has slipped down covering his eyes and nose. He looks like a twat. 

A drunk snoring twat in ridiculous boots. 

Oskar is a medical student. Oskar fucking knows what can happen. He wouldn’t be a responsible human being if he didn’t ensure that his unwelcome roommate at least survives the night. 

The boots come off his feet to reveal socks underneath. Ridiculous socks with little reindeers and Santas that make Oskar swallow another inappropriate giggle. This isn’t funny. This isn’t funny at all.

He rolls the bandana up over the dude’s fringe, carefully removing it before tossing it aside, and straddles his body to try to roll him into the recovery position. He has done it several times in training, but always with willing perfectly conscious subjects underneath him. Never a half-dead comatose man breathing alcohol fumes at him, making him retch in disgust. 

It takes a few goes, and Oskar gets braver as the guy is definitely out for the count. He doesn’t wake up, even when Oskar knees him in the balls by mistake, trying to manhandle his shoulder over towards the mattress. But he is finally there, safely in position on his side with his hand supporting his chin, so any accidental vomiting won’t choke him to death and there is nothing restricting around his neck to hinder his breathing. His airway is open, and he is safe. In the middle of Oskar’s bed. 

Oskar wants to cry. He wants to bury his face in his hands and howl. Scream out in frustration. 

Instead, he covers the unconscious body in his warm duvet and switches off the light. Lets his own body slide in under the covers at the very edge of the bed, as far away as he can get. Oskar lies there, perched on the edge of the mattress, yet he can still feel the breath from the other man hitting the back of his neck. Soft puffs of air stroking the skin under his still-damp hair. 

He shudders. It’s hours until he finally falls asleep. Restless and terrified of what he might find next to him in the morning.

 

About the Author 

Sophia Soames should be old enough to know better but has barely grown up. She has been known to fangirl over tv-shows, has fallen in and out of love with more popstars than she dares to remember, and has a ridiculously high-flying (un-)glamourous real-life job. 

Her long-suffering husband just laughs at her antics. Their children are feral. The Au Pair just sighs. 

She lives in a creaky old house in rural London, although her heart is still in Scandinavia. 

Discovering that the stories in her head make sense when written down has been part of the most hilarious midlife crisis ever and she hopes it may long continue.

Miriam Latu is a Norway based artist, specialising in hand-drawn pencil portraits. She works with old-school pen and paper, and more of her work can be found on Instagram @om_hundre_ar_er_allting. 

 

Also by Sophia Soames, with cover artwork by Miriam Latu

717 miles

717 miles Christmas

The Scandinavian Comfort Series

Little Harbour

Open Water

IN THIS BED OF SNOWFLAKES WE LIE

What If It All Goes Right? (Out Jan 2020) 

 

Come join my Facebook reader’s group 

Sophia Soames’ Little Harbour  

Find me on social media @sophiasoames on all platforms

Facebook: Sophia Soames  |  Twitter: @sophiasoames   | Instagram: @sophiasoames 

 

 

Giveaway 

717 miles – Christmas Special

A short novella to follow on from where the novel 717 miles left off.

This will be FREE to download from Amazon from November 14 -18.

Just follow the link and enjoy.

 Mybook.to/717milesChristmas

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Please note that this is not a standalone story and should be read after completing 717 miles

 

Add on Goodreads

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717 miles Christmas Special

I promised myself many years ago that I would never set foot in London again.
I promised. Adam promised. I said I wouldn’t. He said I would never have to.
Yet here we are again, and life has become quite surreal. This is us, a good few years later, older and wiser with more baggage than the baggage belt at Heathrow.

And now it is Christmas and Adam is working too much and I have far too much time to think about things that shouldn’t really matter. Or maybe they should?

717 miles Christmas Special is a short novella to follow on from 717 miles, the novel, and should not be read as a standalone.

 

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Release Blitz for Unbreakable (a Heaven and Hell Club prequel) by Colette Davison

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Unbreakable (a Heaven and Hell Club prequel)

Author: Colette Davison

Publisher: Independently published

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Release Date: November 14, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Fake boyfriend

Themes: Self-belief, stronger together, faithfulness, friendship

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 65 000 words

It’s a prequel to Broken, but can be read as a standalone.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |   Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

From fake, to real, to unbreakable.

Blurb

Mac’s life isn’t perfect, but he likes it the way it is: safe and predictable.

Mac works in a struggling pole dancing club at night, and a gym during the day. He’s tired and cash strapped, but content, until a confident twink walks into the club and turns his life upside down. It’s hard to resist when Russel asks him to be his fake boyfriend for one night, in return for double his normal take-home pay.

One date turns into more, as Mac helps Russel get an exclusive that will secure him the job he’s always wanted. But the rich playboy who holds Russel’s career in his hands isn’t going to give him the scoop so easily.

As Mac and Russel spend more time together, the lines between fake and real begin to get blurred, but can their relationship become strong enough to be unbreakable in the face of adversity?

 Unbreakable is a fake boyfriend MM romance, with a buff pole dancer who swears like a trooper, a twink who likes to take charge, some spanking, light bondage, and a happy ever after. It’s a prequel story to Broken, but can be read as a standalone romance.

 

Excerpt 

The city centre was packed, and a steady stream of well-dressed shoppers moved in and out of the posh department store. Mac really didn’t belong there, let alone loitering outside it. He was about to give up and go home—he’d been waiting for almost half an hour—when Russel appeared out of the crowd and flounced up to him.

“You were early!”

Mac narrowed his eyes. “You’re late.”

Russel waved his hand. “Only by a few minutes.” His eyes travelled up and down Mac’s body, full lips pursed thoughtfully. “Are those the nicest clothes you’ve got?”

Mac looked down at his tatty jeans, threadbare coat, and death metal T-shirt. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

Russel nodded towards the doors to the store. “We might have a problem getting in there. Not to worry.” He looped his arm through Mac’s. “There are plenty of other shops in Leeds. This way.”

Mac opened his mouth to object but snapped it shut again.

“I thought we’d do a bit of shopping and then grab a coffee somewhere,” Russel said. “We need to get a few facts straight before this evening.”

“What facts?”

“How long we’ve been together, what star sign we both are, favourite colours, hobbies… that sort of thing.”

“Is that really necessary?”

“Yes!”

Mac shook his head. Russel probably wasn’t a psycho, but he was a demanding son of a bitch. There was no way he was going to remember those kinds of stupid details about a fucking stranger. He kept his thoughts to himself. Russel was paying him, and that was all that mattered.

 

About the Author 

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub

Goodreads

Instagram

Mailing List

 

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

 

A Chaos Moondrawn Review:Two Divided by Zero (Zero Rising #2) by Jackie Keswick

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This is the second book of the Zero Rising series, which gives more background about Jack. The first book in the Zero Rising series is named The Power of Zero, which is also the name of the series that was written first, but takes place after these novellas. While these are enjoyable on their own, and I think you could read them even out of order and suss all the important details, for best emotional impact I would recommend reading the The Power of Zero series first and then reading the Zero Rising series as the prequels they are meant to be. I look at this series as a thank you to fans. If you haven’t read anything else, you could still pick up these novellas to see if you like the writing style before you read the longer novels.

This shows some of Jack and Gareth’s time in the service through Jack’s flashbacks. Guilt causes Jack to leave the British Army early without a plan about what to do next with his life. Anyone who has read The Power of Zero series knows Jack had PTSD before he went into the service. Jack is having a hard time adjusting to civilian life, heck regular life at all. He has always just been trying to survive from day to day. Almost the whole novella takes place in Jack’s thoughts, so there isn’t as much dialogue. This is like a slice of life showing how Jack came to be who he is, which is a hacker working for MI6 whilst trying to get his PhD. Jack’s personal mission is about being a vigilante against child molesters and pimps as well as human traffickers. He sticks up for those who can’t stick up for themselves. These stories are all about Jack finding his path and the life lessons he learns along the way. So, if you are new to these characters, you can read these to get a feel for them, and if you are already familiar with them, these are icing in the cake.

The cover art is by Garrett Leigh of Black Jazz Design. It matches the first story in the series and shows a lost and struggling Jack. I actually really like it. I think it conveys his past and the darkness he sees in his work as well as his regrets and struggle to find a future.

Sales Links:   Amazon | Barnes & NobleKobo |

Book Details:

ebook, 174 pages
Published October 20th 2019 (first published October 2019)
ASIN B07Z1X6HCJ
Edition Language English
Series Zero Rising #2

A Lucy Review: Twice Shy (New Milton #3) by Sally Malcolm

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

The last thing Joel Morgan wants is to fall in love again. Scarred by his failed marriage, Joel’s determined to keep his life emotionally stable—which means taking a job teaching fourth grade, fixing up his house on weekends, and avoiding absolutely all romantic entanglements. And he’s doing great.

Until he meets sweet but struggling single dad, Ollie Snow.

Following the tragic death of his sister and her husband two years earlier, Ollie became the legal guardian of their two young sons—much to the horror of the boys’ conservative grandparents. They think Ollie’s too young and too gay to raise their grandsons. So to prove them wrong, Ollie’s determined to parent the boys without anyone’s help.

Until he meets reserved but caring teacher, Joel Morgan.

As the only two men in the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, Joel and Ollie are thrown together over a series of fundraising events and somewhere between the Beach Fun Run and the Christmas Market they fall in love. But Ollie has another reason for moving to New Milton—a reason he’s keeping close to his chest—and Joel’s wounded heart won’t trust a man with secrets. Dare they hope for a future together, or will their past hurts keep them apart forever?

I love this series and was so excited for a new installment. Here we get Joel, a sixth grade teacher at Milton Elementary, who has gone through a nasty divorce after nine years of marriage with a cheating wife.  He was devastated and although it’s been four years he has vowed to never put himself in that situation again.  So when he meets Ollie – younger than Joel, adoptive father to his dead sister’s children, who is struggling to hold everything together on his own, he figures regardless of attraction, this is strictly friend-zone. 

The two of them are thrown together through the PTA Committee, where they plan and help out with different school activities, while at the same time getting to know each other.   Joel is very hot and cold.  He is attracted to Ollie, he likes Ollie but he isn’t going to budge one inch about being with anyone.  Even after he starts to be with Ollie, he is constantly denying it, hurting Ollie in the process.  But he does like Ollie and he is kind.  When Ollie’s car is involved in an “incident”, Joel loans him his.  “And I hope, one day, I’ll be able to do the same for someone else.  Because when you’re struggling and someone is kind and generous, it feels like a f**king miracle…”  You can just see Ollie start to fall.

Joel has been hurt so badly by his ex-wife that it skews his view on relationships. He sees a therapist, Amy, throughout the book to keep himself on an even keel though he doesn’t always follow her advice.  He jumps to conclusions about Ollie and that doesn’t bode well.  There are PTA moms all over and especially Ashley, end up being good friends.  Ollie hates to ask for help with the boys but Joel and the PTA teach him asking for help is okay.  The boys play an integral part in the book and they are realistic children.  Ollie is a realistic parent, faults and all. 

I absolutely loved Ollie.  He works so hard, is so good with the kids and is open and helpful.  He went through a lot to get custody of the kids, having to fight for them vs their grandparents in court.   Yes, he has a secret but it wasn’t something dastardly and I could completely understand why he wouldn’t say anything.  “It wasn’t my secret to tell!”  Ollie has never given Joel any reason to doubt him, but of course Joel does.  “A different kind of pain now, not the fear of being left but the fear of deserving to be left.”  Why yes, Joel, you did deserve that.

Ollie’s speech at the PTA, “Thinks haven’t really worked out for me here like I’d hoped…” made me want to hug him.  It wasn’t just Joel throwing out accusations but something else that he had been hoping for that didn’t work either.  It also makes Joel finally take a good long look at himself.  “He’d gone into the relationship assuming it would fail, trying to protect himself against the inevitability of Ollie’s betrayal.”  He has to sit back and actually consider Amy’s words.  “How about we look at it from Ollie’s point of view for a moment? He’s dating a guy who wants to keep the relationship secret because deep down he believes it’s doomed to fail and when it fails he doesn’t want anyone to know it ever happened.” 

Added bonus – we get to see Leo and Alphie from Love Around the Corner (my favorite couple!) as well as Josh and Finn from Perfect Day.  I admit to laughing when Ollie brings his car to Alphie’s Autos because, you know, no second apostrophe! 

This is a decent addition to the New Milton series.  It wasn’t my favorite, mainly due to Joel, but I definitely liked it and by the end I was pulling for both of them.

Cover Design: Sally Malcolm.  The cover, Joel in his dressier attire and Ollie in his casuals, fit the story well although I wish Luis and Rory had made the cover as well. 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 381 pages
Published November 1st 2019
ASIN B07ZD9T6CW
Edition Language English
  

New Milton Series


Book #1 – Perfect Day – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #1.5 – Love Around The Corner – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Between The Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Ready for a Holiday Treat? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Holiday Gridlock (Cruised #2) by Gretchen Evans (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Holiday Gridlock

Series: Cruised, Book Two

Author: Gretchen Evans

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 18600

Genre: Contemporary Holiday, LGBT, contemporary, holiday, Christmas, age-gap, interracial

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Synopsis

Gabe is way too happy. Mark is as close to a perfect boyfriend as you can get. He’s smart, good-looking, successful, and he cares about Gabe. He’s also way more serious about their relationship than Gabe’s ready for. He wants them to move in together.

The closest Gabe’s ever gotten to living with a boyfriend is accidentally leaving his boxers behind. But he and Mark are way past that. It’s terrifying.

Mark invites Gabe home for the holidays where Gabe gets an intimate look at Mark’s family, his childhood, and how different their Christmas traditions are. It’s loud, overwhelming, messy, and…really nice. Homey in a way Gabe’s never experienced.

But Mark wants more than for Gabe to just have a peek at this part of his life. He wants Gabe to become part of the family, to go to bed with him every night, and wake up with him every morning. He wants all their Christmases to be together. Moving in may be just the start.

It might take a Christmas miracle for Gabe to figure himself out and overcome his fears. Or maybe a little familial intervention.

Will Gabe and Mark take the next step, or will they get stuck in holiday gridlock?

Excerpt

Holiday Gridlock
Gretchen Evans © 2019
All Rights Reserved

DECEMBER 17TH
Pressure squeezed Gabe’s sinuses like a vice. A vice might be too extreme. More like he’d walked into a wall repeatedly, and now his entire face ached.

He blew his nose for the hundredth time. It wasn’t much relief. The best he could do was snuggle deeper into the nest of blankets he’d assembled on his couch and pray for the sweet release of death.

The scratch of a key turning the old, cheap lock on his front door roused him. The light coming through the blinds had dimmed a lot, and the Netflix “Are you still watching?” glared at him from the TV. He must have dozed off watching Planet Earth. Thank God for Nyquil.

No point in getting up. Only one person had a key to his apartment: Mark. If it wasn’t Mark, that meant someone was picking his lock and planned to rob him. Good. They could take whatever they wanted as long as they took this damn cold too.

“Hello!” Mark called from the hall.

Gabe managed to sit up, sort of. “In here,” he called out, voice cracking.

Mark appeared in the living room doorway wearing a devastatingly handsome three-piece gray suit. Gabe was sick, not dead. He could appreciate his sexy his boyfriend in almost any state. Mark gripped a brown paper Whole Foods bag in his hand.

His boyfriend. It was a thrill to think about. How often did a gorgeous, successful man you met on a hookup app turn out to actually be gorgeous and successful? And then be as interested in you as you were in him? Their early days of hooking up in public bathrooms—and one memorable time, a parking lot—were behind them. But those were some nice memories.

They had gone from an awkward “hey, let’s try this” to practically living in each other’s back pockets in only a few months. Gabe hadn’t had many relationships and sometimes felt a little lost at sea. But when Mark was with him, that didn’t seem to matter.

Mark’s legs were long, and Gabe’s apartment was small, so it only took a couple steps for Mark to reach him. He dropped the groceries on the battered coffee table and bent to kiss the top of Gabe’s curls.

“How are you feeling?”

Gabe pulled himself up to sit a little higher. “Like shit.”

Smiling, Mark smoothed back Gabe’s hair. Gabe stretched into it like a cat begging to be petted. It didn’t make his nightmare of a cold go away any faster, but it certainly made him feel better. He didn’t want Mark to stop but… “You’re going to get sick.”

“Maybe, but I take my vitamins.” Mark pulled away, picking up the grocery bag as he walked toward the kitchen. “I brought you dinner.”

Food sounded unappealing. He couldn’t taste anything. Couldn’t smell anything. It was like putting cardboard in his mouth.

Mark slung his jacket over the top of the lonely stool Gabe had at his breakfast bar, leaving him in white shirtsleeves and a vest that hugged his waist perfectly. He propped himself against the counter, rolling up his sleeves. Gabe could see the bulge of the veins in Mark’s forearms from the couch.

“I’m cheating a little.” He pulled a plastic tub with something gross-looking sloshing against its sides and a shrink-wrapped pack of chicken cut into bite-size pieces from the bag. “Premade stock and precooked chicken. Good chicken soup takes time, so we’ll make do with this. Add some fresh vegetables and noodles and it’s almost like the real thing.”

There was nothing like seeing a man who made your heart pound, dressed like that, proposing to make nearly homemade chicken soup just because you were sick. How could Gabe say no to dinner now?

He watched through the tiny opening between the breakfast bar and the kitchen as Mark quietly went about his business. Mark knew where the pots and pans were, where the cutting board and sharpest knife were kept. He knew to use the front left burner because the others were bent and the pot would wobble. Gabe hadn’t realized Mark paid so much attention to his dingy little kitchen.

They cooked dinner together often, but usually at Mark’s much nicer condo. His kitchen had granite countertops and an oven that didn’t burn things. Watching Mark move so effortlessly around Gabe’s space settled something warm and heavy in Gabe’s chest. Something that wasn’t congestion.

He must have dozed off again because suddenly Mark nudged his elbow with one hand and held out a steaming bowl of soup with the other.

“Here. Eat some soup and drink some water; then you can go back to sleep.”

Gabe sat up, his back against the armrest and legs stretched out in front of him, and took the bowl. The steam felt good against his face as he tried to smell it. “You gonna tuck me in?”

Mark balanced his own bowl of soup as he lifted Gabe’s legs to sit on the couch. He lowered Gabe’s legs back to his lap and made sure Gabe’s feet were covered before picking up his spoon. “You are far too sick to be lascivious.”

“Nice SAT word. And anyway, I read an article about how regular sex can help fight off colds.”

Taking a long moment to bring the spoon to his lips, Mark delayed answering. He shot a wicked grin at Gabe after he swallowed. “I thought you were worried about getting me sick.”

Touché.

“How do you feel about sex with hospital masks?”

“Decidedly unsexy.”

“Spoil sport.”

Gabe turned back to his soup. He couldn’t taste it, but it was warm and made his throat feel better. He managed most of it but left a lot of the noodles behind before Mark took the bowl from him.

Sounds of running water and clinking dishes came from the kitchen as Gabe snuggled down in his blankets. He found the remote wedged between the back of the couch and the cushion and clicked on the Antarctica episode of Planet Earth. That was a good one.

He hummed as Mark settled on the couch, putting Gabe’s legs in his lap again.

“This the one with the whales?”

Gabe hummed again, his eyelids sliding closed.

“Do you want me to wake you up before I go so you can go to bed? Or do you want to sleep on the couch?” Mark’s voice was quiet, and his palm rubbed circles on Gabe’s calf, which was not going to help him stay awake.

“How long are you staying?”

“At least until I see some whales. That’s the only reason I came over.”

Gabe tried for a playful kick, but even that took too much energy. It looked more like an uncoordinated leg spasm. Mark laughed at him anyway. Gabe refused to rise to the bait. Instead, he purposefully shut his eyes and went to sleep.

The next time he came to, it was dark outside, but a soft glow filled his apartment. Mark must have turned on a lamp. Gabe stretched his legs. Mark wasn’t on the couch with him anymore. He must have gone home.

There was a little dip of sadness in Gabe’s chest at the thought.

The dip didn’t last long. Mark’s legs came into view next to the couch. Gabe had to crane his neck to see the rest of him.

“Here.” Mark held out a glass of water and two green pills.

Gabe didn’t bother to sit up. He could swallow lying down. It was one of his hidden talents. He popped the pills and tilted the glass back. He spilled some on his shirt but couldn’t bring himself to care.

“How did you know I needed more medicine?”

Mark perched on the coffee table, resting his elbows on his knees and searching Gabe’s face. “Because I love you, and I pay attention. I’ve been here more than four hours and you haven’t had any. I figured it was time. Are you sure you don’t need to go to a doctor?”

Mark had been the first to say I love you, but Gabe had said it right back. Since then, Mark dropped casual I love yous every day. Gabe was more reserved, but Mark didn’t seem to mind. Gabe thought Mark knew even though he didn’t say it all the time, he still felt it.

He took another swig of water, managing not to spill that time. “Nah, it’s only a cold. Give it a couple of days, and I’ll be fine.”

A deep V creased the skin between Mark’s dark eyebrows, and the small lines around his eyes deepened. Gabe wanted to kiss him. Badly. He started to pull himself up, unsure if he’d actually kiss Mark or not, but at least wanting to be on eye level with him.

Mark cupped Gabe’s elbow and helped him sit. He didn’t look relieved by Gabe’s change of position. “I’ll take you to the doctor if you need to go. Whenever you need to go.”

Gabe smiled, but that didn’t seem to convince Mark either. “I’ll be fine. Promise. I already feel better than I did yesterday.”

He rose slowly as Mark pulled on the blankets wrapped around Gabe, keeping them away from Gabe’s feet so he wouldn’t trip. Mark was good at small things like that. Mark was good at everything.

He waited, shoulder propped against the bathroom doorway, while Gabe brushed his teeth. Gabe didn’t have the energy to shower or change from one set of sweats to another to sleep in. He wanted to collapse, face first, on the bed. Instead, Gabe let Mark pull back the covers and usher him in. Like he was a child.

It didn’t feel patronizing or condescending. It was comforting.

“You know, I could do this every night if you’d move in with me,” Mark teased.

Bringing up an ongoing argument with one party sick was unfair.

“You’re taking advantage of my weakened state.” Gabe rolled on his side and hugged a pillow to his chest. “Besides, you could do this every night if you moved in here too.”

Mark sat on the bed, tucked up against the bend in Gabe’s knees. “My place is closer to work.”

Gabe snorted. “You don’t seem to mind the drive anymore.”

“Yeah, but I’d rather have you at home, in a nice big bed on clean sheets, than in a bathroom.” He rubbed his broad palm from Gabe’s knee to his hip. The heat of it soaked through straight to Gabe’s skin.

Don’t Miss Out on the New Release Book Blitz for The Sun Still Rises by Laura Bailo (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Sun Still Rises

Author: Laura Bailo

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 32000

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, Spain, bull running, writer, foreign traditions, anxiety attacks, grieving, long distance

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Synopsis

Whenever his father asked Erik to accompany him to Pamplona for the San Fermín festival, he said no. Now his father is gone, and in a spur of the moment decision, Erik finds himself in another country to run with the bulls in his memory. Erik hasn’t booked a hotel, and he’s completely unprepared for a city bustling with people. No accommodations to be had, he’s resigned to sleeping in a park. Until help comes from an unlikely place.

David works in the tourism office, and Erik is surprised but grateful when he offers him his spare room, despite being a complete stranger. Faced with the choice of sleeping on the ground or the friendly offer of an extra bed, the decision is an easy one. The two of them get to know each other as David shows Erik what’s to love about Pamplona. For the first time in a long while, Erik feels something for another person, but that doesn’t change the fact that this is only temporary and he needs to go back home, does it?

Excerpt

The Sun Still Rises
Laura Bailo © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
“Are you sure you don’t want to come?”

Erik had lost count of how many times his dad had asked. “Dad, I’m sure. You go and enjoy yourself.”

“You could enjoy it, too, if you just forgot about everything else for a while.”

He had always been worried about him. Erik was pretty sure his dad thought he didn’t know how to have fun. Not having a lot of friends didn’t mean he didn’t get to enjoy himself. His idea of fun was simply different from his father’s.

“Come on, Dad, you know I would only drag you down. I don’t like crowded places, and you can’t even walk in Pamplona during the festival.”

“How could you know that?” His father sounded surprised Erik actually knew something about his destination.

“You’ve been going there every year for the last—what? Twenty years? And you think I’ve never watched the running of the bulls, trying to see you? I’m not that heartless, Dad.”

“I didn’t say you were. You’ve never seemed interested in any of it, so I didn’t imagine you’d have done that. But I’m glad to know you love your old man enough to care and watch just in case he gets trampled by a bull.”

That would have offended Erik had his dad not been smiling while he said it.

“Yes, yes, I do love you, which is why I want you to go alone and have fun without me tagging along. You deserve that.” And he was serious, as this was the only time of year his dad let himself forget the problems that troubled him at work during the rest of it.

“Thank you, son. There’s no convincing you, I guess. I’m going to go pack. Remember you promised to drive me to the airport.”

Erik couldn’t help but roll his eyes. “Yes, like I do every year. Don’t worry; I’ll be ready. You know I will.”

“I know, I know.” And with two pats to Erik’s shoulder, his dad left to pack his white and red clothes.

Erik decided he should head to bed. The flight left at a ridiculously early hour, which meant he should go to sleep early if he wanted to be awake enough to drive. After his dad left, he’d have a week all to himself, and he was planning on taking advantage of it, writing nonstop. Not what his dad would consider fun, but putting words on paper was what made Erik happy, and he had a deadline coming up for his next book.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Laura Bailo is an asexual Spanish author of queer romance. She’s an anxiety-ridden writer who, when not writing or reading, loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and thinking about all the stories she wants to write in the future. She has a penchant for writing sweet stories with a Spanish flavor, be it fantasy or contemporary, and she’s still dreaming about writing her first historical.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Twice Shy (A New Milton Novel) by Sally Malcolm

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 88,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Sally Malcolm
 

New Milton Series


Book #1 – Perfect Day – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #1.5 – Love Around The Corner – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Between The Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb
 

The last thing Joel Morgan wants is to fall in love again. Scarred by his failed marriage, Joel’s determined to keep his life emotionally stable—which means taking a job teaching fourth grade, fixing up his house on weekends, and avoiding absolutely all romantic entanglements. And he’s doing great.


Until he meets sweet but struggling single dad, Ollie Snow.


Following the tragic death of his sister and her husband two years earlier, Ollie became the legal guardian of their two young sons—much to the horror of the boys’ conservative grandparents. They think Ollie’s too young and too unreliable to raise their grandsons. So to prove them wrong, Ollie’s determined to parent the boys without anyone’s help.


Until he meets reserved but caring teacher, Joel Morgan.


As the only two men in the school’s Parent-Teacher Association, Joel and Ollie are thrown together over a series of fundraising events, and somewhere between the Beach Fun Run and the Fall Festival they fall in love. But Ollie has another reason for moving to New Milton—a reason he’s keeping close to his chest—and Joel’s wounded heart won’t trust a man with secrets.


Dare they hope for a future together, or will their past pain keep them apart forever?

Check out Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review here.  We definitely recommend it.

Sally Malcolm was bitten by the male/male romance bug in 2016 and hasn’t looked back.


Perfect Day was her first published male/male romance, with the follow-up (Between the Lines) out later in 2018 and a dozen other ideas bubbling away on the back burner. Her stories are emotional, sweetly angsty, and always have happy endings.


Sally also writes tie-in novels for the hit TV shows Stargate: SG-1 and Stargate Atlantis. To date she’s penned nine novels and novellas, and four audio dramas.


She lives in South West London with her American husband, two lovely children, and two lazy cats.

 

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Audio Review: Two Man Advantage (Point Shot #1) by V.L. Locey and Sean Crisden (Narrator)

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

Short and sweet, this audiobook explores the explosive—negatively—meeting between Victor Kalinski, former all-star forward for the Boston NHL team and Daniel Arou, captain of the minor league team, when Victor is ejected from the NHL team for being a troublemaker one too many times and finds himself stuck in the boonies. 

The Canadian and sexy Arou fires Victor’s bisexual blood as much as he fires his temper and most of the first half of the book is an exploration of their rivalry. But eventually they hit the sheets and Victor has a hard time keeping up his aloof loner attitude. By the end, I was shipping KalArou or should that be DanVic? In any event, I enjoyed their dynamic.

Sean Crisden does a good job with the voices, the action, and the sexy times as these two characters slowly but surely found a place in my hockey favorites. I’m looking forward to book two.

The cover by Allyse Karam features two bare-chested men against a bright blue background, the lower panel of which is a hockey net. Very attractive.

Audio Links:   Amazon | Audible  to follow

 

Audio Book Details:

Audiobook
Published December 15th 2009 by Independently published
Original Title Two Man Advantage
ISBN13 9781094237695
Edition Language English
SeriesPoint Shot #1
setting New York State (United States)