Need a New Contemporary Romance In Your Life? Check Out the Release Blitz for OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley (excerpt and giveaway)

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Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words

Subgenre: Contemporary

Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting

Order now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBNNR5N?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

Book synopsis:

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Excerpt :

All-Stars was a dive. A worn-down shack on the literal wrong side of the tracks on the south side of James Bay. There wasn’t even a bouncer at the front door.

“This is my kind of place,” Jesse said as they walked into the bar. “Feeling those normal guy vibes.”

“Told ya.”

Tayshaun waved to them from a table at the other side of the packed room and Chuck acknowledged him before turning back to Jesse. “I’ll grab us a couple beers. Why don’t you go over and say hi.”

Jesse took a step, then hesitated.

Chuck raised an eyebrow as he surveyed one of the biggest, most physically intimidating men he’d ever met freaked over making conversation. “Just normal guys, Jesse, I promise.”

“The Bay’s quarterback is sitting at the table next to him.”

“Okay, so he’s kind of a dick. But you know all about dealing with those because of the Kensington boys.”

Jesse smirked. “Fuck you. Hurry up.”

Despite Jesse’s urging, Chuck took his time at the bar so Tayshaun and Jesse had a chance to talk. He chatted with a couple other Bay’s players who were seated there and by the time he made his way over to Jesse, Jesse was guffawing over something Tayshaun had said. Chuck slipped Jesse’s glass in front of him and took the seat next to him.

“We making friends here then?” he said.

“Your boy is sick, Chuckie. I like him.”

“No surprise there.” Chuck took a deep swig of his drink, the local craft beer rolling down his throat in a pleasant rush. “Did Jesse tell you he used to play in college?”

“Yeah, we were comparing notes on treatment for janky knees.” Tayshaun sat back and gestured between the two of them. “So how long you been together?”

Chuck froze just as Jesse’s eyebrows shot up and he gripped his glass with white knuckles, stammering, “We’re— Uh— We—”

Tayshaun thumped his beer against the table and winced. “Shit. I’m sorry. I assumed— And I— Shit. I should know damn well better, of all people.”

That brought stony silence to the table, but Chuck held his ground, waiting for Jesse to put the pieces together. While he hadn’t expected the topic to come up quite this way, he’d hoped Tayshaun would feel comfortable enough with Jesse to open up. Because Tayshaun was a regular guy, and….

Jesse leaned forward. “Wait. You’re gay?”

Tayshaun nodded. “My team knows, and so do the coaches. It’s an open secret as they call it. I don’t know if I’m ready to be the first out player in the league. Shitload of pressure.”

Chuck shrugged. “You’re a franchise player. It may be easier for you than others.”

“I ever decide to do it, then you’ll be the first I call. You’ll make my ass look like the masterpiece it is.”

“I’ll grab us another round.” Jesse excused himself and headed for the bar.

Chuck glanced at Jesse over his shoulder. He hadn’t outright denied anything between them, but he hadn’t confirmed it either. And even though he’d left the table, he wasn’t running for the door. How fucked up was it that Chuck considered avoiding a panicked exodus a win?

Chuck sighed.

It was also much too familiar.

“Sorry about that,” Tayshaun said.

All around that could’ve gone better, but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to broach the subject with betraying either Tayshaun’s or Jesse’s trust.

Chuck waved off the apology. He’d find a way to talk to Jesse about it later. “Your season’s going well.”

“Football is my life.”

“Guess that means you’re not seeing Nunez anymore?”

“We burned hot and sputtered the fuck out. Couldn’t find any time once he got traded. How about you?” Tayshaun tipped his head up. “You seeing anyone?”

Chuck downed the rest of his beer. “Yeah. And it’s—”

“Me,” Jesse finished for him, setting the beers down.

Chuck swallowed, the word complicated lodging unsaid in his suddenly dry throat. Had Jesse just…?

Jesse plopped into his chair, his gaze locked to Tayshaun’s. “We just met about six weeks ago, but I can’t seem to shake him. He keeps showing up in my bed.”

A distinct crimson stained Jesse’s cheeks and half of his beer had been drained even though he’d only been gone for minutes. Chuck grounded himself in those details as he stared disbelieving at Jesse.

“Chuckie’s tenacious,” Tayshaun said. “Like a dog with a bone.”

“Tell me about it,” Jesse responded. “Tenacious and loyal—even when I asked him to keep us quiet.”

Chuck’s head spun. With Tayshaun across the table there was little he could say to acknowledge what had just happened, but he couldn’t let the moment pass unrecognized either.

He didn’t have to scramble for the words though, because Tayshaun was already leaning across the table. “Aw hell. You’re not out either, then?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Well”—Tayshaun grinned—“then I guess we have more to talk about than knees.”

“Guess we do.”

Then Jesse set his hand on Chuck’s thigh and squeezed.

Chuck felt the echoes of that touch for the rest of the night. He nursed the beer Jesse had bought for him until the contents were flat and warm, then stuck with water after that—wanting to remember every second of unguarded conversation. Every rumbling laugh Tayshaun elicited from Jesse. Every knowing glance Jesse sent his way.

When the lights flipped on to full power at the end of the night, Chuck embraced Tayshaun and promised to come see him again, and Tayshaun embraced Jesse with just as much warmth, extracting the same promise from him.

Chuck was sober and yet punch drunk.

He started up his truck and stared out the windshield, unsure what to say now that he and Jesse were alone.

But it was Jesse who finally broke the silence. “You and Tayshaun…? He isn’t the pro you were with, right?”

“No. He’s like my little brother,” Chuck said, watching Jesse’s shoulders relax with that answer. “If you really want to talk about exes right now I will, but Jesse— What you did in there…?”

Jesse shrugged. “After how cool Emily was, and spending this weekend with you…. I didn’t want to deny it, and Tayshaun felt safe.”

“He is.”

“All good things start with one step, right?” Jesse smiled shyly. “Or something like that.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Chuck repeated. He set his hand on Jesse’s nape and ran his fingers over the back of Jesse’s head. Jesse arched into the touch, his eyes slipping closed. As emotionally shocking as tonight had been for Chuck, it had to have been taxing for Jesse. “What do you want to do? Grab a hotel or drive?”

“Let’s see how far we can drive,” Jesse mumbled around a yawn. “I really do need to get back to work on Tuesday and I’d rather not be exhausted when I go back.”

“Britney it is, then,” Chuck said, letting go of Jesse and turning on his playlist.

Jesse chuckled lowly and reached for Chuck’s hand as they pulled out of the parking lot. He entwined their fingers and rested his head against the window, snoring softly before they even hit the freeway.

Chuck hummed under his breath. The energy from Britney and the warm, powerful hand in his was enough to keep him going well through the night.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with her:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSAMcAuley

Website: https://www.samcauley.com

Tumblr: @authorquestionmark

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Ly9Rv

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

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorsamcauley

 

 

 

Giveaway: Celebrate the release of OUT OF THE SHADE with author S.A. McAuley by entering this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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RELEASE BLITZ Torn by Rick R Reed (excerpt and giveaway)

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Length: 63,424 words
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
 
Blurb
 

Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem.


It’s 1995, and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston.


But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again. Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across.


What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.


Excerpt


In which our hero, Ricky Comparetto, finds himself lost on his very first time in London in the wee hours of the morning. It serves him right, after his shameless behavior at an after-hours sex club.

Much later, I found myself wandering the streets of London near New Scotland Yard, searching through its labyrinthine corridors for Trevor’s building. In the quiet darkness of London’s wee small hours, it seemed the world had paused to take a breath. Again, a feeling of things being surreal overcame me; I wondered if I’d ever find my way back to Boutros again, or if I’d be doomed to wander endlessly through this curving warren of streets.

It was maybe three o’clock in the morning, and Westminster felt almost like a movie set, perhaps something dystopian, where the main character wakes to find the world empty. The light of Big Ben shone in the distance, but I had no idea how to get back to Trevor’s.

I was too exhausted to panic, however, even though I felt like a rat in a maze, a charming, historic maze, but a maze nonetheless. Looking back, I recall that I felt serene, strange as that is to remember.

I had just decided to see if I could find a park bench or curb to lie down on—to await morning’s light and new clarity to get back to my friends—when I discovered that there was such a thing as a bobby, the Brits’ word for a patrolman on foot. This bobby, who was dressed all in black with a tall hat adorned with a shield, and I appeared to be the only ones about, other than the black cabs that passed by stealthily, similar to the one that had deposited me in a place I’d believed was close to Trevor’s.I approached the bobby and told him, a little abashed, that I was lost. I supplied him with the name of the street I sought and, for good measure, what Trevor’s building looked like.

He nodded, all business. “You need to cross the Thames”—he pointed that way—“and then make your way back in the opposite direction from where you were going. You’re not far.”

I thanked him, but his directions simply didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to argue with him, and I certainly didn’t want to believe he was fucking with me, so I didn’t question him. I may have been lost, but I wasn’t that lost. I let him continue on his rounds. I stood still, not wanting him to see me continue on what he’d most likely perceive as my misguided path. Why’d you bother asking him if you weren’t going to listen? I wondered but had no good answer for myself.

I plopped down on a bench to ponder what I should do. I supposed that, with morning’s light, Boutros would be worried (or worse, would believe I’d shacked up with yet another man) and come looking.

I questioned my decision to part from Boutros and Trevor earlier in the evening, when the gay club we were drinking at closed its doors way too early for me. I mean, really, eleven o’clock? And this was “swingin’” London? Trevor suggested I go to an “after-hours” club called the Brick. He told me it was a no-holds-barred kind of place. Or was it “no-holes-barred”? Whatever. The idea of the “Felliniesque” club, as Trevor described it, appealed to me.

So I went, met a few nice boys, and ended the evening by being showered with come in a cloakroom, courtesy of one half of a couple I’d met who were visiting London from Liverpool.

I thought it would be easy to get home because Trevor’s building was within walking distance of New Scotland Yard, which is where I told my cabbie to drop me.

I hadn’t counted on streets that curved, and ended and began with no rhyme or reason. I hadn’t counted on the buildings and streets all looking so alike.

I should have.

After a while, I got up from the bench and started wandering again. And then I stopped… and sighed with relief. Just ahead was one of those iconic red phone booths you might imagine when you think of London—or Doctor Who.

“Oh thank God,” I whispered, making my way to the booth. I groped in my pocket, hoping the receipt upon which Trevor had written his phone number earlier was still there. What if it isn’t? I thought, the panic already causing my pulse rate to quicken despite my fatigue, the copious amounts of alcohol I’d imbibed, and the two orgasms I’d had at the Brick.

But my hand curled around the little slip of paper, and I brought it out and squinted at the scrawled number in the wan light. I lifted the phone off the hook, deposited a mystifying array of coins that I hoped would be enough, and dialed.

Trevor answered, voice heavy with sleep.

I told him my problem and described where I was, along with the cross streets nearby.

He didn’t seem fazed, for which I was grateful. “Hang on, sweetie. I’ll be right there.” He disconnected before I could say anything else.

I left the phone booth and sat down on a curb. I regarded the crescent moon above for only the shortest of times. Trevor appeared before me, like an angel, within a matter of fewer than five minutes.

I didn’t have much to say, other than to express my gratitude… and embarrassment.

His building turned out to be around the next corner.

Real Men. True Love.


Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.


Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com

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Check Out the New Release! Seeing Red (Trowchester #5) by Alex Beecroft (excerpt)

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Seeing Red

Trowchester Series, Book 5

Alex Beecroft

Contemporary MM Romance

Release Date: 05.12.19

Seeing Red Cover

BLURB

Bad boys don’t tame easy.

Victor is a bad man. Is there anything he won’t do for power and money?

Destroy a local business so he can buy it cheap? Kick out its owners and turn it into a cash cow? He relishes the chance.

Idris is a good man in possession of a renowned tea-house. He’s put his heart and soul into the place. It’s everything he has and wants…

Except for Victor.

He wants Victor too.

Can the love of a compassionate man soften a predator’s heart before it’s too late? Or is Idris doomed to lose his life’s work, and his heart with it?

A contemporary mm romance, Seeing Red is a long-awaited new installment of the critically acclaimed Trowchester Series. Each book in the series is a standalone, and can be read in any order. Feel free to start here and work back!

https://amzn.to/2VnfmiU

Seeing Red Graphic

EXCERPT

“You were brought up poor?” Idris’s inner voice was now more of a clench of pity and anger in his gut. “And you see yourself in these dogs?”Stray dogs, un-fed, unwanted, dogs that were being taken out to be drowned. “I won’t ask you the story behind that,”Idris put out an arm and pulled the man closer to him, relishing the way Victor melted into him, letting his meagre weight rest against Idris’s sturdier frame. “But I want to remind you that not only you but also I fell in love with these dogs the moment we saw them. Those who mistreated them before… not everyone is like that.”

“They are, though.”Victor’s head came slowly down to rest on Idris’s shoulder, tentatively. His cynical words made even that little gesture of trust seem enormous, more than Idris deserved. “It’s kill or be killed out there, and I’m not… I’m not going to be killed.

Of course, he had fought off two men only a couple of hours ago—bigger men than himself. That must have taken some courage, and he was probably now exhausted from the adrenaline crash. With that and whiskey on top of it, he was confessing private insecurities to a man he had only just met.

As much as Idris would have liked to carry on supporting all his weight, hearing his murmured confessions, and perhaps sliding his fingers into that drying hair and stealing a kiss or two, he realized that this was absolutely not the time.

They had done a good thing here. Idris would not sully it by continuing to make a pass at a man who was more vulnerable than usual, whose judgment might be impaired, and who might therefore regret it in the morning.

“Let me get you to bed,”he said, and then hurriedly, realizing it could be misinterpreted, ”you need to sleep. In the morning, I’ll convene an emergency book-club meeting and we can meet up again then. All right? I think you’re too tired for anything else.”

“Out of the habit,”Victor raised his head slightly and smiled fuzzily.

“Out of the habit of… rescuing dogs?”

“Fighting, ‘cept—except with words. I guess I am tired.”
Alex Beecroft

I was born in Northern Ireland during the Troubles and grew up in the wild countryside of the English Peak District. I studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where I worked for a number of years. Now a full time author, I live with my husband and two children in a little village near Cambridge and try to avoid being mistaken for a tourist.

Asexual, agender and mother of a transgender son, I still feel like my place in the LGBT community is perhaps peripheral. But it’s very important to me nevertheless.

I’m only intermittently present in the real world. I have lead a Saxon shield wall into battle, I can be found most weekends practicing an eight hundred year old form of English folk dance, and recently I’ve been getting into Steampunk, with a character who’s a cross between Evie from The Mummy and Indiana Jones.

I write queer romance – that is, my main characters are typically gay, bisexual, transgender, pansexual or asexual men. Best known for historicals, I also write Fantasy/SF and contemporary romance, all of which tends to be on the sweeter side of the heat spectrum.

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

Website: https://alexbeecroft.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Alex_Beecroft

Newsletter: https://mailchi.mp/e51c660f7258/insubordination

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A MelanieM Review: Modified and Sacred by Jana Denardo

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Lieutenant Addison Hunt is proud to serve the Confederation even if he still feels like he’s on the outside looking in. Addison was illegally genetically modified as a child, leaving him burdened with a sense of shame. Emotionally isolated from his fellow crewmen and recovering from injuries from his last job, Addison is happy to have light duty transporting an esteemed diplomat to a peace conference.

Deveral is one of the Sacred Kin, possessing a psychic ability that his people consider a spark of the divine. Like all the Sacred Kin, he’s led a sheltered life as a temple priest, but his heightened empathic ability makes him the perfect diplomat. Nervous to leave his home, he’s curious about his new companion, Lieutenant Hunt.

Not everyone wants the diplomatic mission to succeed, and a rebel faction poses a real threat to Addison and Deveral. Finding themselves cast adrift on a “lost” colony, they’ll have to fight to stay alive.

Jana Denardo’s new LGBT science fiction novella, Modified and Sacred, is a enjoyable, imaginative story.  The author has filled the novella full of fascinating elements like stolen or sold children that were then modified illegally for use by trades, businesses like mining because it was cheaper than building machines.  Also aliens that, due to their ancient past as prey, have evolved skins full of chromatophores that allow bursts of color or camouflage as was needed in the past.  So many things about both main characters that just grab your attention and fill your mind with questions, along with the storyline.

The plot is fast moving, along with the immediate attention to detail on the action at hand.  I loved how the relationship developed between Addison and Deveral, especially after the events that happened on the ship.  No spoilers here.

But what keeps this story from a higher rating is that I felt it wrapped up too quickly for as complicated a plot it it was made out to be.  Far too many loose ends floating around that mission and answers we never got behind the rescue or the finalization of Deveral’s peace initiative. I also wished for more background, world building on Deveral’s species, and things that were merely hinted at.  There was enough here to fill a series!  A novella?  Felt a little thin for all the tantalizing information and bits thrown about.

I did appreciate the HFN as that is clearly the only way this could end for this couple given the time frame.  I do hope that the author can be coaxed into revisiting them and this universe in the future.  There’s a story I would be first in line to read.

As for Modified and Sacred by Jana Denardo?  There is still so much here to be investigated and thoroughly enjoyed by science fiction, suspense and action, and romance lovers alike.  I recommend it to you all.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  While that cover is pretty and all glowy I’m not sure that it’s all that pertinent to the storyline. No globe worshipping going on here.  No blobs.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published April 29th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781950412525
Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Thirst for You (Beyond the Cove #2) by Jaclyn Quinn

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Rating:  4 stars out of 5

What happens when thirst becomes an obsession that can’t be quenched?

Forty-year-old Zachariah Taylor prides himself on being the overprotective older brother of seven. He owns a successful bar, Zach’s Bar and Grill, in the quiet town of Riverside Falls and loves the life he’s built for himself. But as his siblings move on and find their forever partners in life, he’s starting to feel less and less needed—not to mention old. Suddenly, he’s finding it even harder to ignore the younger man who has pursued him for years, but the twelve years separating them is something Zach can’t seem to overlook.

Twenty-eight-year-old Drew Belford has been in love with the stubborn Zach Taylor for seven years. Sure, he was a kid when they’d first met, but what Zach is determined to ignore is the man Drew has become. Drew, however, is just as strong-minded and refuses to let Zach use their age difference as an excuse to disregard the attraction burning between them. He doesn’t need an overprotective older brother—he needs Zach.

When Drew begins to get unsettling messages from an unknown person, Zach feels helpless in a way he’s never felt before. How can he protect Drew from someone he can’t find? The thought of anyone hurting Drew unleashes years’ worth of pent-up desire Zach has had for the younger man. Is his thirst for Drew enough to protect him from the danger lurking in the shadows, or will the threat of the unknown be enough to douse the spark of love between them—and silence Drew forever?

I really enjoyed this story and was even thrown for a loop when the stalker was revealed.  Drew and Zach work well together at work, they just need to learn how to do it in their personal lives but once that happens everything isn’t as smooth as they would like.

I loved how Drew would not give up in his quest for Zach but I think that is what Zach needed since he couldn’t seem to work for his own happiness.  Zach sure is stubborn and he’ll do whatever it takes for those around him to be happy even if it’s not what would make him happy and that broke my heart.  I was glad to see him hold on with both hands once he let himself be happy.

This story pulled me from one emotion to the other, I was happy and then worried or scared about what was happening to Drew and back and forth but it sure kept my attention.  I could tell how it hurt the characters for someone they were close with to be the cause of all the problems.  I think I can see who the next relationship will be and I really look forward to it.

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is great, I love the visual of the characters and Drew’s signature shirt *wink*.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 258 pages

Published: April 8, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: Beyond the Cove #2

A Stella Review:Top Shelf (Seacroft #1) by Allison Temple

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RATING 3,75 out of 5 stars

Martin is a ghost. Well, not really, but he might as well be. Job gone, home gone, self-respect gone, and no one even seems to notice. The only person who really sees him is Seb, the artist who lives above the used bookstore.

Seb haunts the edges of Seacroft in search of beauty. He knows how to excavate the hidden value in abandoned things–whether it’s in the pages of forgotten books or in Martin’s stuttering attempts to rebuild his life–and transform them into works of art.

Two lost souls, Seb and Martin discover the strength they need to face eccentric townies and their dysfunctional families together. But as friendship sparks toward something more, neither man wants to risk what they’ve only just found. It takes two to fall in love, but it will take the whole community to bring their beauty to life.

Top Shelf is an 81k slow burn friends-to-lovers MM romance. It features an anxious professor, a drama queen artist, a bookstore that might be haunted, and a full-blown heart-eyes HEA.

Top Shelf was a lovely reading, I soon fell in love with Martin, perhaps because I knew what he was going through. I could feel him struggle but he was so brave to try and start again, in a different and easy environment. He found a new life in his brother’s house, in a new town, with a new job at a little bookstore and new people like Penny and Cassidy. And then there was Seb, the artist who carved books. When Martin first discovered it, he felt it as a sacrilege, books couldn’t be destroyed like that, but the masterpieces Seb worked on were too precious to be offended by. Little by little they became friends and more, until when things went really bad, they were there for each other. I loved how they took their time although the  strong chemistry.

I liked the plot and the writing a lot, the novel was easy and quick to finish. The only reason why I didn’t give Top Shelf an higher rating was due to the ending part. Without spoiling anything I think Seb acted a little too much childish and forgot how supporting Martin was, sure he  maybe wasn’t thinking clearly, still I didn’t like him at all.

Top Shelf is the first title in a new series by Allison Temple, I can’t wait for the next installment, maybe abou Seb’s brother?

The cover art by Cate Ashwood is lovely, I like this artist style a lot.

Sales Links:  Amazon

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 302 pages

Expected publication: May 20th 2019 by Allison Temple Books

ASIN B07R81RWV4

Edition Language English

Series Seacroft #1

Marie Sexton on Romance, Characters, and her new release Promises (author guest blog)

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Promises by Marie Sexton
Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 14, 2019

Cover Artist: Tiferet Design
Sales Link: Dreamspinner Press

Includes the Coda series prequel novella, Meant to Be

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to interview Marie Sexton, here today on tour for her re-release of her novel Promises. Welcome, Marie!

 

STRW Interviews Marie Sexton!

 

Hello, everybody! I’m Marie Sexton, and I’m here today celebrating the re-release of my very first novel, Promises. Promises was first released back in January of 2010. The new version has been re-edited, features one expanded scene, and also contains a brand new Coda short story called Meant to Be.

How much of yourself goes into a character?

Not a ton, but there’s certainly a little bit of me in each of my protagonists. Probably Angelo from the Coda series, Cody from Trailer Trash, and Trey from Family Man are the most “me.”

Do you feel there’s a tight line between Mary Sue or should I say Gary Stu and using your own experiences to create a character?

Well, any character based on my life experience probably wouldn’t be a Mary Sue (or a Gary Stu). I make way too many mistakes and bad decisions for that. LOL.

Does research play a role in choosing which genre you write? Do you enjoy research or prefer making up your worlds and cultures?

I hate research. As an author with a degree in history, I probably shouldn’t admit that, but it’s true. I find it mind-numbingly boring. Which is why most of the time when I start out writing historical, I end up with some kind of weird AU. (My Oestend series being the primary example.)

Do you read romances, as a teenager and as an adult?

Nope. Didn’t read them back then and I don’t read them now. I always felt like a fraud at romance conventions because I had no idea who any of the other authors were.

Has your choice of childhood or teenage reading genres carried into your own choices for writing? Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Yes and no. I read SFF almost exclusively in my teens, and yet I mostly write contemporary. But I think I always gravitated towards stories with quirky characters and questionable narrators. One of my favorites as a kid was the Great Brain series, where the reader watches a young genius/con-man through the eyes of his adoring (and naïve) little brother. I love the idea that the exact same story can be vastly different when seen through the eyes of a different character, which is probably why most of my early books were written in first person. 

Do you have a favorite among your own stories?  And why?

I have a few, actually. First and foremost, I love my Oestend series (Song of Oestend and Saviours of Oestend). These books have everything I love to write — opposites attract, friends to lovers, redeeming a bad boy, macho cowboys, role reversal, and BDSM — all with an AU, paranormal twist. I love Trailer Trash, because it captured so much of the joys and heartaches of my teen years. I love Winter Oranges for being outlandish and yet (hopefully) believable. And as far as complexity, I think Release is probably my best work.

If you write contemporary romance, is there such a thing as making a main character too “real”?  Do you think you can bring too many faults into a character that eventually he becomes too flawed to become a love interest?

I think this is more about the reader than the writer. Some readers can’t stand to read about characters who make choices they wouldn’t. For example, if the character smokes, or if he and his partner aren’t monogamous, some readers will immediately DNF the book. I can’t really do anything about that. I have to write the character the way he is, smoking and all.

  Have you ever put a story away, thinking it just didn’t work?  Then years/months/whatever later inspiration struck and you loved it?  Is there a title we would recognize if that happened?

Yes. I did this with Trailer Trash. I originally started it way back in about 2011. Then I realized I was writing about the AIDS era, and I knew the story was going to get heavy and angsty, so I put it aside until 2015 or 2016, I think. But I did finally finish it, and I personally think it’s one of my better books.

I also kind of did this with Damned If You Do. I originally had the idea for that story when I heard the song “The Devil Went Down to Georgia,” and I started wondering what would happen if, after that first duel, the devil became a bit obsessed with Jonny and kept going back for more. But my original idea for the story would have stepped all over copyright, so I kind of put it away until a new idea came to me about a year later.

And I guess The Well was also similar. I knew for several years that I wanted to write about a group of teens who spend a night in a haunted house and wake up to find one of them has disappeared without a trace. But it took me several years to figure out what exactly had happened to Elise.

 

Have you ever had an issue in RL and worked it through by writing it out in a story?  Maybe how you thought you’d feel in a situation?

I’ve probably done this to lesser degrees multiple times, but the one instance that was HUGE was when I wrote Family Man with Heidi Cullinan. I wrote Trey’s POV, and I dumped every bit of my rage at growing up with an alcoholic parent into that book. It was awful and painful and raw, but when it was all said and done, it was incredibly cathartic. That being said, I tried doing the same thing recently with a different issue in a different work in progress, and it’s a hot, unpublishable mess. It’s been anti-cathartic, if that’s a thing. It left me even more frustrated than I was before. So… time will tell how that situation works out.

  

What’s next for you as a writer?

I’m still trying to finish book three in my Heretic Doms Club series. And I have a Tucker Springs novel to wrap up. (And because Tucker Springs and Coda are now with the same publishing house, Matt and Jared might drop in for a visit.) 😉

That’s it for today. Don’t forget to check out the re-release of Promises. You can also join my private Facebook group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/MarieSextonFans/

Thank you to Scattered Thoughts for having me here today.

Blurb

Can a man who loves his small hometown trust it to love him back?

Jared Thomas has lived in the mountain town of Coda, Colorado, his whole life. He can’t imagine living anywhere else. But Jared’s opportunities are limited—the only other gay man in town is twice his age, and although Jared originally planned to be a teacher, the backlash that might accompany the gig keeps him working at his family’s store instead.

Then Matt Richards moves to town.

Matt may not be into guys, but he doesn’t care that Jared is. A summer camping and mountain biking together cements their friendship, but when Matt realizes he’s attracted to Jared, he panics and withdraws, leaving Jared all too aware of what he’s missing.

Facing Matt’s affair with a local woman, his disapproving family, and harassment from Matt’s coworkers, Jared fears they’ll never find a way to be together. But for the first time, he has the courage to try… if he can only convince Matt.

About the Author

Marie Sexton is the author of over thirty published works. She’s written contemporary romance, science fiction, fantasy, dystopian fiction, historical short stories, and a few
odd genre mashups. Marie lives in Colorado , where she recently fell head – over – heels in
love with the Colorado Eagles. She’s happily married, with one teenage daughter, one adorable dog, and one very stupid cat.
You can find Marie on Twitter (@mariesexton, where she mostly talks about sports), at
http://www.MarieSexton.net , or in her private Facebook group,
https://www.facebook.com/groups/MarieSextonFans/
.

RELEASE BLITZ for By Way of Pain (Criminal Delights:Assassins) by JM Dabney

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ReleaseBlitz-ByWayofPain

By Way of Pain

Criminal Delights Series, Book 11

J.M. Dabney

M/M Dark Romance

Release Date: 05.20.19

BY Way of Pain Cover

Blurb

Double lives were just the way it was for a man like me. By day I was a man with a reputation above reproach. Even assassins needed backup plans. For fifteen years, life was going without a hitch until I had to take out a witness. When it was time to kill him, beautiful eyes filled with fear urged me to do something else. Yet, in order to do that, I had to break him, and by way of pain, my captive would experience pleasure he’d never dreamed.

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.

Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

Trigger Warnings: Title contains the following possible triggers. Humiliation, Violence, Master/slave elements, Male Chastity, Murder, Imprisonment, Dub-Con, and Brief Torture.

Universal Link: books2read.com/CriminalDelights-Pain

By-Way-of-Pain-Teaser-Because-I-Can

By-Way-of-Pain-Teaser-Cowen-Abnormal

Excerpt

It was a place created for a hunter. Big, sprawling and dirty—victims roaming the streets unaware of their status as prey. They all felt they were safe from the monsters because they were all easily spotted, but they knew nothing about my kind. We were just an abstract concept on some true crime show they watched in the middle of the night—evil reduced to caricature. My reputation was above reproach, but I was the most prolific killer of my kind.

In moments of respite where I hid away in my cabin, I’d analyzed when I’d become broken. I believed my sociopathy was a result of conception. Maybe something as damaged as I shouldn’t have survived to birth. A shell without a soul. I’d attempted suicide a time or two, and I bore the marks from years of self-harm. I’d hoped to feel something—pain proved you were alive—and yet the more I cut and burned, it became nothing more than a minor inconvenience—wounds to heal.

I closed my eyes, drew oxygen in through my nose and pushed it slowly past my lips, repeated until I opened my eyes. As with any normal person ending work, I gathered up files and my laptop, stowing them inside my satchel briefcase. Everything in my life was routine and repetition, nothing deviated. I arrived at my office at six in the morning and promptly left at six at night. Meetings were scheduled as needed. I appeared in court. I was successful at my chosen cover, but as with all aspects of my existence, they were disguises.
JM logo

J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. They live with a constant diverse cast of characters in their head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. J.M. lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure they do them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and they makes sure their characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more they want from telling their stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/J.M.DabneyAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/jmdabney_author

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/authorjmdabney/?hl=en

Reader Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/585182991553194/

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/J.M.-Dabney/e/B006QZIFLE

Website – www.jmdabneyauthor.com

Mailing List – http://eepurl.com/dzWnIn

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More on Universe Building and Differing Frameworks. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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More on Universe Building and Differing Frameworks

 

More stories and more ideas on universe building and the size of the story.  From the tiny to the novella to the full sized novel that can be staggering in scope and size, universe/world building and its importance in the story has been of key interest to me.  As a reader, the world building, the layers, the richness, the imagination that an author pours into their universe for a story or series can enrapture me.  The details they think of, from the many cultures, languages, down to the clothing and food, pull me deeper into their novels and worlds, making it more real, more alive!

For some stories, it’s not just fantasy or science fiction that the author is building a specific universe for, sometimes it’s a contemporary one.  A certain location or family for example.  There it is still that same factors of language, geography, location, etc, that will hold true for fantasy and sci fi. Only whereas in fantasy and scifi you may be creating them, in contemporary they are there to be pulled from.

While I often think the heavier, longer tomes have it easier in world building because just in length alone, the author has the luxury of pages in which to take the time to include the world minutiae their imagination has created for their  characters and universe.  The problem here is often editing out the wealth of joyous overload the author has produced.  Building a complex universe takes a depth of knowledge and outlining, what to leave out is often as hard as what to put in.

But the other end of the spectrum?  The tiny story.  That itty bitty tale that dares you to put in any world building at all.

How to create a world on the top of a pin?  Or a story in 200 or 300 words?  One that feels so complete that you know the world those characters exist in.

Some authors can do it with just a few choice word placements.  Within a paragraph or page, a man mentions his sore throat, a constant illness, and a feeling settles over the story.  You don’t need to know about his viral loads to know he has AIDS, it has only taken some well chosen words and a location and the reader knows exactly who this man is and what he is going through. In a short story.

I so admire the high quality of writing of both authors that can build such stories, in tiny and huge, that have such ability to pull me in.

I figure that’s a lot of editing and heartbreak at work  in both forms in trying to know what to let go of…narratively speaking and what to hold on to.

But in both, for me at least, world building remains a key to unlocking the characters, their situations, and the storyline.  It’s the foundation it all rests upon, small or large.

 

Thoughts from H.B. on the matter:

I think it’s doable and can be well done using a few sentences or even a paragraph or two maybe a page or two. But I guess it depends on the writer but I don’t think authors have to limit themselves to that so I think it’s needless to think about?

As for small houses I know about them. She sheds have become popular of late and there are insurance commercials for it. I think All State actually did one a year or two ago? In china there’s are living quarters called microapartments where the rooms are only like 65-107 square ft or smaller (so enough for a bed and desk or just a bed).

 

We might come back to this topic and flash fiction later on.  As I said I love the subject.  Meanwhile, next week we go back to HEA or HFN which we never wrapped up.

Until then, happy Sunday, happy reading or listening.  And this is our upcoming week at our blog!

 

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, May 19:

  • A MelanieM Review:  Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review : American Fairytale (Dreamers #2) by Adriana Herrera
  • More on Universe Building and Differing Frameworks.
  • This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Monday, May 20:

  • Review Tour – – Love Kills (Criminal Delights) by Michael Mandrake
  • RELEASE BLITZ By Way of Pain by JM Dabney
  • PROMO Marie Sexton
  • A MelanieM Review: Modified and Sacred by Jana Denardo
  • A Stella Review:Top Shelf (Seacroft #1) by Allison Temple
  • An Alisa Review: Thirst for You (Beyond the Cove #2) by Jaclyn Quinn
  • An Ashlez Review:Love Kills – Criminal Delights: Serial Killers by Michael Mandrake

Tuesday, May 21:

  • RELEASE BLITZ Torn by Rick R Reed
  • Release Blitz OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley
  • BLOG TOUR Seeing Red by Alex Beecroft
  • An Alisa Audio Review: If I Ever (Hell or High Water, #4) by SE Jakes
  • A Stella Release Day Review: Why We Fight (At First Sight #4) by T.J. Klune
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Redesigning Landry Bishop (Stars from Peril #2) by Kim Fielding
  • A Ali Review : Match Grade – Criminal Delights: Assassins by G.B. Gordon

Wednesday, May 22:

  • TOUR Azaran Jacki James
  • PROMO Kim Fielding
  • BLOG TOUR – The Hierophant’s Daughter  (The Disgraced Martyr Trilogy #1) by M.F. Sullivan
  • An Alisa Review: Lightbearer by L.C. Davis
  • A MelanieM Review Running on Empty (Havoc #3) by S.E. Jakes
  • A Lucy Audio Review Finding Love: The Perfect Size for You by Lily G. Blunt  and Sean Crisden (Narrator)

Thursday, May 23:

  • DSP PROMO Jodi Payne
  • Blog Tour – T.A.G. You’re Seen by A.G. Carothers
  • An Ashez Review: T.A.G. You’re Seen (The Assassins’ Guild #1) by A.G. Carothers
  • An Alisa Review Love on the Rocks by J.P. Bowie
  • A Free Dreamer Review: The Incredible Real Life Monster Man by L.B. La Vigne
  • A MelanieM Review: Not Gonna Lie (#lovehim #4) by S.M. James

Friday, May 24:

  • BLOG TOUR Want Me by Neve Wilder
  • Blog Tour – Eight Lives: (Match Made in Hell #1) by Autumn Breeze
  • Blog Post – DJ Jamison – Surprise Groom
  • An Alisa Review How to Heal by Susan Hawke
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Barricades by Dem Had

Saturday, May 25:

  • Release Blitz for AE Via – Nothing Special
  • Release Blitz & Signal – Kris Jacen – Always With Me
  • A MelanieM Review:  Always With Me by Kris Jacen

A MelanieM Review: Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Can two men fake their way to marital bliss?

Caleb Taylor is shocked to learn his family could lose Bliss Island Resort — their home and livelihood — unless he makes use of a clause to marry the child of investor Louis Chastain. Sofia Chastain is more like a sister than a love interest, and Caleb isn’t ready to sign over his future. But Sofia has a brother, and Caleb has a plan …

Julien Chastain was disowned at fifteen and has made a life as a go-go dancer in Miami, but he lives paycheck to paycheck. When his childhood friend proposes an outlandish marriage contract, he thinks he’s crazy. But it’s a chance at a future that’s tough to pass up.

Caleb and Julien must present themselves as an authentic couple for the legal loophole to work, but the lines between “fake” and “real” keep shifting as they navigate intimacy, public scrutiny, and sabotage.

Love isn’t part of the plan, but plans change. If they can outsmart Julien’s father and prove their love is worth more than a transaction, they just might find a true happily-ever-after.

I’m really very fond of the “fake marriage” trope, eager to see how each author gives this familiar theme their own twist. Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison delivers a delightful contemporary romance within this well known framework, one that kept me entertained and connected right up until the end.

Unlike some of the other stories, Jamison gave both men  a connected past which made their reunion and rising feelings, or perhaps buried feelings much more authentic.  They understood each other even while relearning the adult version of the other person that they were faced with now.  Jamison delivers now only great characters but realistic situations, beautiful locations such as Bliss Island which is based on an actual place.

I am not a fan of the tired tag “Gay For You” which implies a choice in sexuality, or that a character “turned” the other one gay. Please.  So I was happy to see Caleb working through his feelings and realizing that he’s actually bisexual, a far more realistic and positive portrait.  In fact, Caleb and Julian’s relationship is based on growth and trust, which I appreciated, given the backgrounds of one and the situation in which their reunion is launched.

All the characters here were so well drawn out that you enjoyed spending time with each and every one, whether it was the dancers at the club in Miami to the extended family of friends at the Bliss Island resort.  They were all people you wanted to get to know better and I am thrilled this is becoming a series.  I’m not sure if it’s couples coming to the island or more of Caleb and Julian or both.  Either way I will be waiting for the next installment to drop.

Surprise Groom (Marital Bliss #1) by D.J. Jamison really had everything I love in a contemporary romance.  Well written, a trope I love, men reuniting with a past history and given a chance at love and HEA in a drop dead gorgeous location!  Yes, I am absolutely recommending this!  I think you’ll love it as much as I do.

Cover art: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design.  Not a fan of the cover.  No real elements from the story, just a model. Disappointing.

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

Book Details:

Kindle Edition
Published May 16th 2019