A Chaos Moondrawn Release Day Review: Extra Dirty (The Speakeasy #2) by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

I didn’t know this was book two in a series, so I had not read book one. While I might have enjoyed this more if I had already known the large cast, I slowly got into the main characters. There is a lot of telling instead of showing at the beginning. The recaps are sufficient so that I understood what happen in book one. Jesse Murtagh and his business partner, Kyle McKee own a speakeasy named Under in New York. They are also friends with benefits. There is also a former lover of theirs named Carter who is now with Riley. Another couple they are close with is David and Will. I am fairly sure almost all of them have had sex with each other at some point in book one. Jesse is bisexual and not a monogamist so if that is going to bother you, this is not the book for you.

Cameron Lewis is the music teacher for Carter’s two kids. He’s also a local DJ. He’s the working class guy in this scenario, commuting a long distance for his jobs and having three roommates. He seems as adverse to settling down as Jesse at first, but soon develops more feelings for Jesse than he expected. This leads to some bad choices and a stunning lack of mature communication.

This started out as a bunch of wealthy people enjoying themselves. Nothing wrong with that, but it seemed like Cam was expected to fit into their world or not. I was pleasantly surprised when Cam takes Jesse to Brooklyn and they explore his world too. Just when things started to get good, Cam starts running hot and cold. By the the time a disastrous misunderstanding happens, I am well annoyed with Cam. I had expected Jesse to be the annoying character with his rigid adherence to non conformity and his privilege, but he was always honest about who is and what he wants–at least as far as he knows. It’s Cam who tries so hard to protect himself, he hurts them both. He doesn’t even effectively communicate why. The angst pulled me in, but it was Cam’s family and Jesse’s friends that hooked me in to the story emotionally. In the end, I like the open partnership they achieve, but I think there were some spots on the way that could have been more smoothly written. By the time they actually talk and work everything out, I was invested in what was happening, but it was also fairly anticlimactic. Yet, isn’t that life? Sometimes you have such a strong idea about something, it’s earth shattering once you realize you can compromise, or things don’t have to be that way, or things aren’t quite what you thought they were, even though not much has actually changed. This book is about the family they have chosen and the safe space they have created for them and their friends to be who they are.

The cover art is by Cherith Vaughan and shows scenes from the book: the club and the cityscape.

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Apple iStore  |  B&N  |  Kobo  |

Book Details:

ebook, 345 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2019 by Pride Publishing
ISBN 139781786517098
Edition Language English
Series The Speakeasy #2

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Harrison Campus Story

When the stakes are this high, you better be sure you can win.

Jackson Murphy lost his parents to a boating accident, but they’re never far from his thoughts. He attends the same university as his parents, joined the same fraternity as his dad, and even lives in his father’s old room, along with his adopted brother, Marcus. Life brightens when he meets the man of his dreams.

Edward Knowles trades full-time college for working during the day and community college at night when his father’s factory closes. He intends to stay deep in the closet to keep his job in heating and cooling. But Jack pushes all his buttons.

Jack’s college rival challenges him to bring a date to the upcoming dance. He goads Jack into accepting even though failure means he and Marcus will lose their room and Jack must leave the fraternity.

Jack is falling hard for Ed, but Ed will never agree to go the dance. Ed—not knowing the stakes of the wager—has also made it clear that Jack taking another man will end their romance.

With pressure from friends and enemies alike, will Jack hold on to his legacy… or his heart?

While reading Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo, I can’t being to count the times something about either an aspect of the situations these characters founds themselves in or the dialog and conversations I got pulled into that involved multiple people here made me reflect just how well author got their ages and timing right.  Even as I might have gotten frustrated over their fears getting the better of communication, I got it.  Boy, they are young, dealing with peer pressure, stress, and well, just stuff.

Gallo obviously understands this age, these young men, and makes us feel it too.  It rings of authenticity from the tight bonds of fraternity brothers through the ages to that of adopted brothers through trauma and devastation.  Better Be Sure covers a range of topics, from coming out to bullying to self acceptance, and grief, even clinical depression.  Plus formals, townie versus college, family stress, homophobia, and so much more.  Gallo set himself a huge agenda here and almost pulled it off perfectly.

I think only that he tried to do too much in the end kept this from a higher rating but really it’s so good.  The characterization alone makes this story easy to dive into.  You fall immediately into love with these true to life, complicated, moving young men trying to get through school and their fraternity life.  That includes tests, a formal, dating, a bully, and for Jack, the fact that he’s still dealing with the traumatic death of his parents four years ago.  It’s left him with having “episodes” which read like clinical depression, which is one of my issues here with the story.

Jack clearly has needed therapy dealing with not only the tragic loss of his parents but the horrific material free for all and monetary squabbling that ensured after they died.  The combined emotional impact on Jack was devastating.  Only his adopted family, including Marcus, saved him.  But even with all the mentions of his multiple breakdowns, never it is mentioned the need to get Jack help.  I do understand at that age you can’t be forced to accept help,  but I wish that more had been made of this element, especially since it’s such a big part of Jack’s story.  And the “episodes” he continues to have throughout the story, never exactly calling them what they are.  For me, that is actually one of the reasons this story didn’t get a 5 star rating. I just wish this had been explored a little more thoroughly.

I never joined the Greek life at my college, having flown the Freak flag myself, but I have faith that Gallo gets that right too.  It feels like it in the dynamics that goes on the the fraternity and between the big and little brothers. But I do remember the “townie vs college” aspect of it and that’s dead on.  From both perspectives!  How that brought back memories.  Weaving all this into his characters made for deeper personalities and gave us young men we feel we know.

Tight bonds are everywhere here and not just between young men.  Jack’s best friend is also a young women, one of several of strength in this story. It’s a great cast of characters and I loved spending time with all of them.  So I’m thrilled that this is just part of the beginning of a series.  I will be happy to follow each one as it releases.

Better Be Sure (Harrison Campus #1) by Andy Gallo is a terrific contemporary new adult romance, and a great start to a new series.  It’s one I definitely recommend.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  I so connected to that cover.  That is Jack all the way.  Great job.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 211 pages
Expected publication: March 26th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ASINB07NNL34L7
Edition Language English
Series Harrison Campus #1

An Alisa Review: Pros & Cons of Deception (Pros & Cons #2) by A.E. Wasp

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

FIVE JOBS. FIVE CHANCES FOR REDEMPTION. One thing’s for sure: these men are no angels.

There’s nothing like being blackmailed by a dead man to really bring a group of cons together. The deal is simple, we do the jobs and Charlie’s lawyer wipes the slate clean for each of us, one at a time.

Job number two lands right in my lap. I’m Bond. Wesley Bond. (I can’t resist saying it that way. Blame my dad, if you can find him.) You could call me a hacker. I redistribute wealth – moving it from rich slimebags to poorer but infinitely more deserving people – and make a tidy profit as I do.  My mission, should I choose to accept it, is to bring down some modern-day slave traders.

I definitely choose to accept it.

With the life of the one person in this world I love on the line, I can’t afford any screw ups or distractions. Unfortunately, my biggest distraction is my biggest asset – Danny Monroe. Danny is a leftover complication from our first job; a victim of the vicious senator we’d gotten locked up. He’s a smart, funny, gorgeous, ex-prostitute, who can’t seem to keep his clothes on. I can’t seem to keep my mouth shut around him. But I need a fake boyfriend, and Danny is the only option.

Fooling the world into thinking we’re in love will be easy; fooling myself that I’m not might be impossible.

We don’t know who the bad guy is, we have no idea how to prove anything. There’s no internet on the island, no cell service, and I’ll have only the bare bones of my gear. If I’m going to do this, I’m going to need all the help I can get.

Like it or not, we’re all in this together.

This was another great story and I continue to love the way these characters interact with each other.  Danny is so adorable, he hasn’t been given a great hand in life since his parents kicked him out but he is determined to make the best of it going forward.  Wesley means well but doesn’t always come across as he would hope and it’s harder when he can’t just hide behind his computer.

It’s great to see all of these guys starting to come out of their shells a bit and see that they are actually starting to care about each other.  It’s interesting getting to know them all but can’t wait to dig deeper as they each get their own story.

Wesley is Robin Hood and Danny hit it on the head before he really knew what he did but he feels too jaded to have someone as bright and trusting as Danny in his life, though his need to take care of him and see him happy overrides all of that.  Danny is trying to figure out what his next step is going to be and while finding out he isn’t just there to be pretty he finds the love and acceptance his life has been missing.  I think all these guys are really finding the family they need in their lives with their rag-tag group and look forward to more of the books.

I loved the cover art and how it gives small visuals from the book.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 312 pages

Published: March 1, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: Pros & Cons #2

Release Blitz Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

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Off the Ice by Avon Gale and Piper Vaughn

Release date: March 25, 2019

Publisher: Carina Press

Universal link: https://books2read.com/offtheice

Blurb:

Previously published; newly refreshed by the authors

He’s hot for teacher

NHL star Tristan Holt may be at the top of his game, but he’s already thinking one play ahead. Hitting the books in the off-season means he’ll have a business degree to fall back on when it’s time to hang up his hockey skates.

But his straightforward plan is complicated by his undeniable attraction to his sexy sociology professor, Sebastian Cruz.

Impressed by Tristan’s brain as well as his brawn, Sebastian can’t help lusting after the gorgeous jock. With tenure on the line, Sebastian won’t break the rules by becoming involved with one of his students—at least, not until the end of term. Once final grades are posted, though, their naughty mutual fantasies can become reality.

Tristan’s not sure he’s up for being the poster boy for openly gay hockey players, but Sebastian’s never been the type of man to keep his sexuality—or his relationships—in the closet. For Tristan, being with Sebastian might mean risking more than just his heart.

One-click with confidence. This title is part of the Carina Press Romance Promise: all the romance you’re looking for with an HEA/HFN. It’s a promise!

 

Piper Vaughn Bio:

Piper Vaughn is a queer Latinx author and longtime romance reader. Since writing their first love story at age eleven, they’ve known writing in some form was exactly what they wanted to do. A reader to the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book.

Piper grew up in a diverse neighborhood in Chicago and loves putting faces and characters of every ethnicity in their stories, making their fictional worlds as colorful as the real one. Above all, Piper believes there’s no one way to have an HEA, and every person deserves to see themselves reflected on the page.

Connect with Piper:

Website: pipervaughn.com

Facebook: facebook.com/pipervaughn

Twitter: twitter.com/pipervaughn

Instagram: instagram.com/piper.vaughn

Avon Gale Bio:

Avon Gale lives in a liberal Midwestern college town, where she spends her days getting heavily invested in everything from craft projects to video games. She likes road trips by car, rock concerts, thunderstorms, IPAs, Kentucky bourbon and tattoos. As a queer author, Avon is committed to providing happy endings for all and loves to tell stories that focus on found families, strong and open communication, and friendship. She loves writing about quirky people who might not be perfect, but always find a place where they belong. In her former life, Avon wrote fanfiction at her desk while ostensibly doing work in non-profit fundraising for public radio and women’s liberal arts education, and worked on her books in between haircuts and highlights as a stylist. Now she’s a full-time writer, delighted to be able to tell stories for a living.    

Avon is represented by Courtney Miller-Callihan of Handspun Literary Agency. 

Excerpt 1:

Tristan pulled the cap off as heat gathered in his face. He tossed it atop his book bag and combed his fingers through his hair. No doubt it looked a mess after being damp and crushed under his hat for the past hour. “Sorry, sir.”

Professor Cruz ignored him and kept talking. Or rather, ranting. Tristan groaned inwardly. Great. Another hard-ass who ran his classroom like some kind of drill sergeant. Tristan hated the type, but whatever. He’d survived coaches who would make Sebastian Cruz resemble a cuddly little lamb. Tristan couldn’t be intimidated easily, even if, yeah, it embarrassed him to be scolded like a high schooler in front of his peers.

Eh, you win some, you lose some in the professor roulette. If there was one thing hockey had taught Tristan, it was self-discipline. He enjoyed sociology and thought the classes would be beneficial to him as a potential businessman. Tristan could cope with Mr. Don’t-Expect-Me-to-Be-Your-Buddy for seven weeks.

“So power and inequality,” Professor Cruz was saying, “let’s talk about how that relates to blue-blooded Manhattanites and me, growing up as a Puerto Rican welfare kid in the Bronx.”

Well, he didn’t waste any time, did he?

Tristan flipped open his MacBook and started taking notes as Professor Cruz lectured. Warm and fuzzy the guy was not, but he certainly didn’t lack in passion for the subject matter. Soon, Tristan was fascinated. Professor Cruz absolutely came alive as he spoke. True, he suffered from a bad case of Resting Asshole Face, and Tristan wouldn’t go so far as to call him handsome, not exactly. Still, there was something compelling. Professor Cruz—tall and whipcord lean with warm golden-brown skin and wavy raven-black hair—definitely qualified as eye candy.

Excerpt 2:

For a time the music distracted him. Tristan swayed in place, caught up in the energy of the now-substantial crowd and enjoying the rare opportunity to hear his favorite songs played live. That wasn’t always easy for a classic rock fan whose favorite groups no longer performed, and who, generally speaking, wasn’t all that into cover bands.

But soon the novelty wore off. Tristan noticed the time and the distinct lack of one Sebastian Cruz. Like the flame of a candle, his excitement flickered and abruptly sputtered out, leaving nothing but wispy smoke in its wake.

Concerts were a lot more fun when you had someone else to share the experience with. Couples and groups of friends filled the venue. Tristan was one of the few who watched alone, conspicuous in the way he stood apart from the others.

He frowned, deposited his empty bottle on the tray of a passing server, and made his way to the bar for another beer. During the regular season he normally limited himself to two, preferring to get his carbs from food instead of alcohol, but fuck it. Training camp didn’t start for nearly another two months. After being stood up, he was due another drink or three.

Tristan snorted. Why was he kidding himself? Professor Cruz never had any intention of meeting him. He’d probably regaled his highbrow academic friends with the story of his student’s clumsy attempt to ask him out. No doubt they had a good laugh about it while drinking wine and eating canapés or whatever the hell else snobby professors did in their spare time. Tristan already knew what Sebastian Cruz thought of athletes.

He’d just flagged down a bartender and placed his order when he sensed a presence at his side. Tristan turned and found himself face-to-face with the man himself. Professor Cruz was dressed casually in dark jeans, boots, and a button-down shirt. He’d left the top two buttons undone, and Tristan’s gaze automatically went to the prominent collarbones covered in smooth golden-brown skin. All the moisture fled his mouth at the thought of putting his lips to the divot at the base of Professor Cruz’s throat. Tristan wanted to bite and lick there, inhale until the scent of sweat and man made him drunk with lust.

“Mr. Holt.”

Tristan swallowed hard. “Professor,” he rasped. Sebastian, Tristan really wanted to call him. The name appealed to him as much as its owner. Tristan wished he had the right to use it whenever he pleased.

The bartender delivered Tristan’s beer and grabbed the money Tristan had placed on the bar top. He jerked his head at Professor Cruz. “What can I get you?”

“Single malt, neat. Glenlivet, preferably. If not, the best you have.”

Of course he would drink Scotch and order it neat, the sexy bastard. Tristan pictured him as the leading man in some classic black-and-white film—crystal tumbler in one hand, a thick cigar between his lips, a plume of smoke curling around his sharp-jawed face. The image sent blood rushing straight to Tristan’s cock. Shit. There went all his bitter thoughts from a few minutes before, carried away by the rumbling bass of Professor Cruz’s voice and the sight of his dark-brown eyes and darker, finger-tousled hair.

Tristan almost sighed. He was weak—he knew it—but how could he be strong with Professor Cruz standing here looking like that? Tristan wanted to drop to his knees. Only awareness of his surroundings kept him upright.

After starting a tab, Professor Cruz inclined his head, silently encouraging Tristan to follow. They moved away from the bar to a small gap along the back wall.

“How’s the band?” Professor Cruz asked, his eyes fixed on the stage.

Tristan watched, wetting his mouth as Professor Cruz took a slow sip of the amber liquid in his glass. “They’re good, I think,” Tristan replied. “I stopped paying attention a little while ago.”

Professor Cruz glanced at him. “Why?”

Tristan smiled wryly. “I was waiting for you.”

Blog Tour for Black (MM Kitty Play Romance) by Quin Perin (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title:  Black (MM Kitty Play Romance)

Author: Quin Perin

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Quin Perin

Genre/s: Gay Erotic Romance

Heat Rating:  4-5 flames

Length:  93 000 words/ 350 pages

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Buy Link

Amazon US

Amazon UK

 

Blurb

“Meow!”

There it was.

The sound that made my knees buckle.

He purred, neck stretched, eyes half-lidded.

With those cat ears, in his hair.

And the tail, that he flicked.

A ray of sun in the drizzling rain. I’d been a traveler, floating adrift, while he’d stayed in one place. How was I supposed to know he’d become my anchor? My light. My everything. But would I ever become his?

 

A standalone romance, “Black” features detailed adult m/m content, a hurt/comfort relationship as well as “kitty play.”

 

 

Excerpt

A shove and he fell into a seated position. His hands were all over me. Squeezing at my thighs, shoving my shirt up. Stepping back, away from him, I grabbed the bottom of my shirt and pulled it over my head. I draped it over the coffee table and worked on my pants next. Kitties didn’t wear clothes after all. If I was going to be a kitty, I was going to be a good one.

Naked, body free in the cool air of my apartment, I lifted my arms above my head and stretched out. Flaunting. I wanted him to touch my cock. Heated, it swayed with each of my movements, begging for attention. That was for later though. Now we played.

Dropping to my knees, I turned my face towards him and angled my head to the side. Hands hit the floor, and I crawled towards him. Strutted as best as I could. It was like the evening before when I’d tried to seduce him. Except I’d already succeeded in my goal this time. Now it was all icing on top.

I crawled up to him, hands going to his knees. “Dima,” he murmured, reaching for my hair. He laced his fingers through, but I jerked my head away from him.

With a hiss, I narrowed my eyes and bit down on his fingers. It made him laugh, but he didn’t touch me again. If he wanted me to get into character, we were going to have to do it properly. I wanted to be something different, and he was going to have to deal with that.

Tony spread his thighs to accept me between them. I scratched and then dipped my head. With the skill of my tongue and teeth, working in tandem, I popped open the button of his jeans. The zipper was much easier, and then he helped me. While he worked on getting his pants out of the way, I showed off my body. Elbows rested on the floor behind me, back arched sharply as I waited. The skin stretched tight over my ribs, stomach a little dip. I was tiny, and I knew it, but Tony definitely seemed to like it.

“God, you’re beautiful,” he murmured.

I purred at the compliment, and when the couch stopped its faint squeaking from his movements, I was at my place between his thighs again. He’d not moved from his spot, making it easier on me. Without much ado, I dove face first into his lower stomach, brushing my nose into his tuft of pubic hair. He smelled faintly of soap and musk, sweat. A distinctly manly smell that drove me crazy. His cock flexed, the heat of it against my cheek. Too heavy to stand on its own when he was seated like that, it pointed towards his hip.

I nipped at his stomach and turned my head so my cheek rested against him. Keeping my eyes closed, I flicked my tongue against the side of his cock. He groaned and shifted, legs spreading wider.

Poor Tony.

He thought he was going to get what he wanted. One thing he would learn was kitties didn’t much care to do what other people wanted.

This time when I scratched at his thighs, I was attacking bare skin. He jerked against me, hissing between his teeth.

“Fuck,” he grumbled.

He might have caught the smirk that danced over my lips, but if he did, it was only a brief moment as I bypassed his cock and went straight to his balls. My tongue lapped across the tender flesh, tasting salt and heat. I swore I felt his heart beating as my nose brushed the base of his cock and my tongue worked him over. Curious, I mouthed at his sack before letting out a tiny “meow.” He arched so hard and quickly, I thought he was gonna jump off the couch.

If he liked that, Tony was in for a long night.

 

About the Authors

This is Quin&Perin. We are a team of Sultry Gay Romance writers who focus on detailed, toe-curling, and realistic smut scenes with a fair share of dirty talking (Oh, boy). We cannot wait to share our boys with you. Thank you for stopping by!

That said, it is time for the next level of smut: stories featuring fire, lust & desire.

 

🔥 Author Links  🔥

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for a chance to win an ebook of Black and a $5 Amazon Gift Card.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Heated Rivalry (Game Changers #2) by Rachel Reid

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

My first book from this author, but it won’t be my last. This story engaged me and kept me riveted with not only memorable characters, who happen to be sexy hockey players, but also men who grow from 18-year-old rookies looking for a quick hookup to mature all-stars who know each other better than anyone else in the world and become willing to risk their hearts for a chance at permanence.

Talk about slow burn! These two took forever to realize their instant lust attraction—which they perpetuated for several years—was more than they ever thought they could have. After all, pro hockey players didn’t come out. They didn’t settle down with one man.  And they certainly didn’t leave their homeland—Russia in Ilya’s case—to find their HEA with the man who newscasters set up as an archrival.

After years of texting, secretly meeting up after games in each other’s hometown, Ilya and Shane—Lily and Jane on each other’s cell contact list—finally face the fact that they aren’t just meeting to scratch an itch. They care deeply for each other and there’s a glimmer of hope for a future together if they plan it well.  And since Shane is a planner…

From the beginning of this story, I was swept up in the rich characterizations, the excitement of pro hockey, and the secretive sexy banter and wish fulfillment. I enjoyed being with Shane as he matured and developed feelings for Ilya. And Shane was fortunate to have two supportive, interesting and loving parents—especially his mother who was a hoot with her knowledge of pro sports.  Ilya, unfortunately, was not as blessed. An aging father who suffered from dementia, a demanding brother who constantly wanted money, and a stepmother who was zero in the nurturing department were all he had in his homeland and he got to the point where he dreaded going back to Russia in the off season.  I adored Ilya with his accent, his sense of humor, and his ego—huge and well-deserved.  And together, these two men were fantastic.  By the end of the story, after they’d made their decision to be a couple, I couldn’t put the book down. 

Every word, every page turn brought me closer to the end of the book, and I didn’t want to finish.  I savored their time together, and I am hopeful we’ll see them again at some point in the future because I’m not ready to release them from my heart.  Very highly recommended. 

Cover art is every bit as heated as the title.

Sales Links;  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 310 pages
Expected publication: March 25th 2019 by Carina Press
Original Title Heated Rivalry
ASINB07H5K8SFW
Edition Language English
Series Game Changers #2

A Lucy Review: Cameron & Rylan (A Chance Meeting #1) by Valerie Ullmer

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

Cameron Hayes believed himself to be a dedicated friend and a good son but destined to be alone. Because in his twenty-one years, he’d never fallen for anyone. Dating never appealed to him when he would rather spend a night at home. Despite his friend’s best intentions for Cameron to find a hookup for the night, he stayed at the bar as he nursed a beer. And that’s when Cameron spotted him and everything he knew evaporated with one look.

Rylan Ellis wanted one night out without complications. To forget about his overwhelming responsibilities and stress at home. He loved to lose himself in the music and ignore everyone around him. But when he happened a glance at the bar and spotted the tall, broad, and sexy-as-sin man, he felt drawn to him.

Soon, Cameron and Rylan learn about each other and establish their lives together. They also have to deal with a group of well-meaning friends, loving parents, and unexpected friendships. But most of all, a dangerous threat that could tear their lives apart.

Will a chance meeting turn into something more?

This novel contains heavy attraction at first sight and first-time gay sex between two men. There is no cheating or cliffhangers and ends with a happily ever after.

This story has a big case of insta-love.  While normally that can irritate me a bit, Rylan deserved to have that so much, I was able to look past it for the most part.  Especially since Cameron, the very rich and very lonely,  is the perfect match for him.  “He wouldn’t say he was loney since he was the one who quit the football team the year before and secluded himself using any excuse he thought of to avoid social interactions.  But from time to time, he missed his friends.”  Don’t believe what he says.  Cameron is lonely.

There is baggage here to be sure.  Rylan’s father is a piece of work and his brother’s best “friend”, Tristan, deserves to be beaten.  He is even there when Cameron and Rylan meet.  This first meeting is also a big info dump on Rylan’s life and an immediate offer for Rylan to move into Cameron’s spare room.  Things move very quickly here. “I want you safe but more than that, I want you in my life.”  This is the morning after they meet (no sex, just sleep).  Even Aaron, Eric and Tim, Cameron’s friends, move fast.  “We’re family now.  And we always look out for our family.”   Keep in mind all this is within a day of meeting.  By the end of moving in, Rylan is moving to the master bedroom with Cameron.

Tristan features in the most unpleasant of ways throughout the story and you really want him to get what’s coming to him.  Rylan’s father, as well, couldn’t be more of a monster, to the point where at times I felt it was overdone.  (Such as when he is destroying all Rylan’s scholarships).   I did love that when they went to get Rylan’s things, he was with Cameron and Cam’s three football buddies, so Papa Dearest really couldn’t do a thing.

Rylan’s brother, Declan, was confusing.  Rylan believes his father and brother both hate him and when Tristan harasses Rylan in front of Declan, Declan says nothing to defend his brother.  Declan “…had a more thoughtful expression as he stared at their linked hands.”

The story moved along okay and at times it is very, very sweet.  There is past trauma involved and current trouble with Tristan and Dad, but mainly it is the sweetness between Cameron, Rylan and friends. The support system here is amazing, Issa and Suzy for Rylan, and the football guys for both of them.

The book has some small editing issues and again, you really have to be okay with insta-love.  Both Tristan and Dad have their over the top moments (like when Tristan calls a client of Rylan’s to smear him – how would Tristan know who the client was? How would he get the phone number?)  It has some very sweet moments and I loved their friends.

Cover art, showing two men, apparently Cameron and Rylan, is okay if a little bland.  I will say the model for Cameron is pretty close to how I pictured him. 

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 259 pages

Published: March 26, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: A Chance Meeting #1

A MelanieM Review: On Hands and Knees (The Valentino Family) by Sai Fox

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

Nicolai Valentino is the almost perfect heir to the Valentino Family—impeccably dressed, devilishly handsome, impossibly cold, and absolutely dedicated to a family that scorns his very existence. Born to the infamous Boss and a Japanese woman of no consequence, Nico must fight for respect in a blood-thirsty world that would be much happier to see him with a hole in his head.

Blood runs thick in the Valentino Family. To them, Nico’s little better than water.

Gabriel Delatto is Nico’s right-hand man, his childhood friend, and under the darkness of their ruby red sheets, his lover. But more than that, Gabriel holds the secret to unlocking who Nico really is—the true Nico, not the mask beginning to crack around the edges.

But there is a pleasure in that pain, he knows. There is only ever pleasure when it comes to Nico, even if it comes from the crack of a whip or on the edge of a blade.

But there’s someone lurking in the darkness, something that neither Nico nor Gabriel truly understand, But there is one thing they do know—

It isn’t afraid to bite.

I had a tough time with the rating on this story for several reasons. On Hands and Knees (The Valentino Family) by Sai Fox was a new title and author for me so you all know I immediately read the author bio and information.  She’s been writing for years. She’s currently living in Japan. Pluses. That leads me to more pluses and minuses of this story.

I’m drawn to stories with complex, dark characters and this promised two.  As I got into the novel, there are multiple mysteries surrounding both main characters of Nico and Gabriel, their traumatic childhoods, and yes, even a present timeline going back 6 months.  The author presents clues but nothing more.  There is really only the barest of world building here and little character framework other than their twined childhoods after a certain age, an implied horrific “Training” they endured by The Family as kids, and the present romantic/physical relationship which is barely tolerated,  and that might end at any moment, It also includes a D/s element (spanking, whipping) .

The story is heavy on sex, light on  layered character development.  We are more told how crazy Nico is than shown except for one rather mild example.

What the story relies on is promise.  The narrative offer is held out for more.  More revelations, more character growth and depth.  Of the two men, Gabriel is easier to relate to but you should be able to relate to both and that really doesn’t happen here imo.  Nico just isn’t given the dimension he needs outside of the sex scenes.

Then there is the issue with the editing.

Here is an example:

“There were scars crisscrossing his skin, leaving perfectly puckered and raised lines for Gabriel to stare down at in complete and utter awe. They were mostly pale brown, not deep enough to leave lasting damage or scar but enough for Nico to feel.

Uh, wut?

Well, the author meant bruises or welts from the whipping from a belt earlier that morning but used the word “scars” instead.  That’s only the first of many such errors.  Plus these two men are supposed to be keeping their relationship on the down-low yet plenty of people within the organization have heard the “screaming” going on from their sessions.

Sigh.

Yes, an editor, a really good editor is clearly needed here.

The story ends on a cliffhanger with a new element introduced that’s interesting but makes little sense with what the author has already told us.

I have no idea if I’m going further with this series or not.  Probably with one more story just to see how the cliffhanger is resolved.

I will leave someone else to comment about the timing of the sessions (in an office right before an important meeting of the Mafia), the lack of safe words etc., and other aspects of the D/s relationship.  I think I’ve covered plenty here.   If this sounds like this is the story for you, the buy links are listed below.

 

Cover Artist: Samantha Garrett, the cover art is ok.  The font is easy to read but the graphics are dark and murky which may be what the artist was going for but it loses something in the composition.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 232 pages
Published June 1st 2018
ASINB07D92HV75
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesThe Valentino Family

Author Note: Please be advised that there are sexual scenes of explicit graphic nature, including spanking, within the following story. These are done in a fully consensual manner between two parties over the age of 18

BLOG TOUR for Red Zone by TS McKinney & Shannon West (excerpt and giveaway)

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Red Zone Tour Banner

RED ZONE

T.S. McKinney & Shannon West

Gay Romance, Contemporary New Adult, Sports Romance, & BDSM

Release Date: 03/15/19

Red Zone 1

BLURB

From the outside, it looks as if college football quarterback Kingston Bentley has it all—good looks, outstanding athletic ability and a 4.0 average in his classes. But looks can be deceiving. Kingston is battling inner demons that are jeopardizing his safety and slowly driving him to more and more acts of desperation. Everywhere he looks, he’s got nothing but trouble, and when he loses his coveted first-string position on the football team, he goes back to the one thing he can count on—cutting to relieve the pressure and the emotional pain.

The gorgeous new quarterback on the team, Memphis Sabine, is the Coach’s son, and under enormous pressure of his own to lead his new team to the national championship. For that, he needs Kingston’s help, and they soon become an unbeatable force both on the field. But when Memphis discovers Kingston in the act of cutting, he uses his forceful nature and all he knows about being a Dom to take Kingston in hand and ensure his welfare. Kingston loves the pain, but he rebels against the idea of being Memphis’s sub. As Kingston begins his training, however, Memphis discovers just how fragile their relationship really is, and how desperately he needs to help Kingston deal with the secrets from his past.

AMAZON US: https://goo.gl/9uvUkd

AMAZON UK: https://goo.gl/bn4gtN

RED ZONE BANNER

EXCERPT

I took hold of his wrist and held on, squeezing a little. “Who’s in charge here, fireball?”

I could see it trembling on the tip of his tongue to cuss me out and tell me to go to hell. His eyes got stormy and his face sullen, but I waited him out, pressing his wrist harder. “I’m waiting for an answer. I thought we’d already decided this last night. Now who’s in charge here?”

Finally, after what seemed like hours, but was really only a few, long seconds, he dropped his gaze. “You are,”he said, grudgingly. I loved his little hesitations. They told me this was hard for him, but he was doing it anyway, because I’d told him to.

“That’s right,”I said, my voice soft and coaxing. Sometimes it felt like I was encouraging some wild animal to come out of its hiding place in the shadows. “And what is it you have to worry about today?”

He looked up at me, a little blank at first, and then he got a nervous look in his eyes, like he’d forgotten something. I sighed and said, “The answer is nothing. You don’t have to worry about a damn thing because I got this for both of us. I’m making the decisions now and all you have to do is go along for the ride.”

ABOUT T.S. MCKINNEY

I have spent my entire life reading, reading, and reading some more! I love to get lost in the land of fantasy where I can be as naughty as I like without facing too many penalties! Earlier this year, I decided that maybe I should try writing my own naughty stories. That way I can do wickedly delightful things to my imaginary boyfriends without serving any serious jail time! My publishing company, Dark Hollows Press, has been awesome and most patient when dealing with their newbie.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2T8BkEV

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100006245056875

ABOUT SHANNON WEST

Shannon makes her home in Georgia and North Carolina with her husband and family. She believes that love is love, no matter the gender. Shannon mostly spends her days at the keyboard trying to elude housework, which stalks her relentlessly.

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2TOsKzN

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/shannon.west.399

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Need New Books to Read? Check Out the Series Review Tour for The Speakeasy Series (Books 1 and 2) by K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn (excerpt and giveaway)

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THE SPEAKEASY SERIES REVIEW TOUR

Series Blurb

Media mogul Jesse Murtagh and bartender Kyle McKee decide to go into business together and open Under Lock & Key, a speakeasy on the upper West Side of Manhattan. The bar, with its secret passphrases and craft liquor cocktails, becomes a sanctuary for Jesse and Kyle’s circle of friends, who gather once a month to catch up with each other and share their experiences.

Under is both hang out and haven for the men who spend time within its walls and their friendships build family ties that are sometimes missing from their own lives.

The stories can be read in order or as standalones.

BOOK 1

Book Title: With A Twist (The Speakeasy Book 1)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Genre/s: Contemporary, Romance, Gay

Heat Level: 4 flames

Length:  95,295 words/ 263 pages

Release Date: September 25, 2018

Add on Goodreads

Tagline

Love, served with a twist.

Blurb

Nursing a broken heart when his ex-boyfriend, Riley, leaves him for the love of his life, Carter, Will Martin throws himself into teaching at NYU and writing. An invite from Riley to a speakeasy called Under helps Will begin to heal, and he finds himself enjoying both the drinks and the company.

Soon after, he’s shaken by news of his father’s cancer diagnosis and Will reluctantly returns to Long Island to see the man who disowned him after he was outed.

Sparks fly when Will meets his father’s mentee, Republican Senator David Mori, who is both mixed race and openly gay. Will is looking for a no-strings-attached fling and David is leery of getting involved with his mentor’s son, so they keep their affair a secret.

As his father’s health worsens, Will elects to remain in Garden City and his relationship with David grows beyond casual sex. Now, both men must decide how to bridge the divide between them.

Buy Links

Amazon US  | Amazon UK  |  iTunes  |  B&N  |  Kobo  |  Google Play  |

24 Symbols  |  Thalia  |  Bol.de  |  August Roberton  | Mondadoristore

Excerpt

June 2014

Will Martin set down his empty mug and flipped to the next page of the New York Times. A familiar profile caught his attention and, despite his better judgment, he read the caption below the photo of two smiling and laughing men in tuxedos.

The year’s hottest gay couple cut a fine figure at the Met premiere last night. Riley Porter-Wright and Carter Hamilton are still going strong. The couple appeared oblivious to those around them as they talked during intermission. They were joined by the former Mrs. Hamilton, who seems to have forgiven Mr. Porter-Wright for stepping into her place. Also there was her new paramour, Robert… The ex-Mrs. Porter-Wright was nowhere to be seen. The couple have been spotted at—

Annoyed, Will threw the newspaper on the coffee table. Everywhere he turned there were reminders of his ex-boyfriend Riley’s happiness with his new love. Well, long-time love, really. Will had competed with Riley’s best friend, Carter, the entire time they’d been together.

But how could Will have competed with a man Riley had loved since college? Riley had left his wife to explore his bisexuality and Carter had ultimately done the same. Will had been foolish for thinking he could offer Riley more than a man who had known him for a decade and a half could.

Will scrubbed a hand through his hair and stood. I need a change of scenery right now, he thought and glanced around the living room of his stylish Manhattan condo.

His laptop screen glowed at him from his desk by the windows. He’d planned to take the morning off and enjoy the gorgeous early June weather, but with edits looming over him and reminders of Riley lurking around the edges of his consciousness, relaxation seemed out of the question.

“Fine, fine,” Will muttered under his breath. “Work it is.”

He filled his cup with coffee, doctored it with cream and sugar and took a seat at his desk. He pulled up his manuscript and scrolled to the place he’d left off—Bernard Schwartz’s appointment as Chief Counsel of the House Legislative Oversight Subcommittee.

Half an hour later, Will’s phone trilled on the desk and he blinked to clear the haze from his brain. Riley flashed across the screen. Speak of the devil, he thought, then immediately chastised himself. Riley wasn’t the problem. Riley loving Carter instead of Will wasn’t even the major issue. Will’s habit of falling for emotionally unavailable men then struggling to get over them was something he desperately needed to change.

Not wanting his ex to sense the turmoil in his head, Will made sure to keep his tone pleasant. “Hey, Riley.”

“Hey, Will. How have you been?”

“Good. Making solid progress on my book.” Will sat back in his chair.

“Oh, that’s right, you’re not teaching during the summer semester, are you?”

“No, I decided to focus on my writing. I’m in the midst of edits, so I’ll be spending the summer cursing at a computer screen while I try not to tear my hair out.”

“What a rewarding career,” Riley said teasingly.

Will chuckled and relaxed a little. He’d always enjoyed Riley’s sense of humor. “I must be a masochist for voluntarily subjecting myself to college students and editors.” Will taught legal history at New York University and had published a handful of well-regarded books on the topic. He suspected Riley hadn’t called to ask about his writing, however. “How’s work? Is your father still pretending you don’t exist at the office?”

“I think he’s hoping I’ll leave Porter-Wright Publishing, to be honest. He and Geneva were polite when Carter and I took the kids to the company picnic but I’m sure it’s only because they were afraid of looking bad.”

“Appearances above all else,” Will muttered. He and Riley had always had that in common. Although at least Will spoke to his mother occasionally and kept in contact with his sister, Olivia. Riley’s relationship with his parents was far worse. “How are things with you and Carter? And the little Hamiltons?”

“Really good.” Will could hear the smile in Riley’s voice. “We all spent last weekend in Southampton at the beach house.”

Riley sounded so happy every time they talked about Carter and his kids. Will’s heart ached, knowing he could never have made Riley that happy, but on the whole he was glad Riley had found the contentment he’d searched for.

“Anyway,” Riley interrupted his thoughts, “I called for a reason. You know Jesse Murtagh and Kyle McKee, right?”

“Vaguely. I met them at Carter’s birthday and Jesse again at your holiday party last winter.”

“Right. Well, they’re opening a speakeasy in a week or so.”

Will laughed. “A speakeasy? That’s intriguing.”

“It’s basically ready to go, and they’ve been inviting friends in to see it and try the cocktails. I called to see if you would like to meet me there tonight. I thought we could grab some drinks and catch up.”

“Just you?”

Riley hesitated. “No. Carter will be there with Jesse and Kyle. Along with six or eight of our friends.”

Will stifled a sigh. “Riley…”

“Hey, I know it’s going to be awkward. But it’s been six months. You and I are doing pretty well with our friendship. So, stop being a fucker and come.”

Will couldn’t prevent the laugh that escaped him. “Well, when you word it that way, how can I possibly resist?”

“No, I don’t mean to be glib. I know this isn’t easy for you, but I don’t want to lose you as a friend.” Riley sounded earnest. “I’m asking a lot, but I’d like for you to be able to hang out with all of us. And hey, maybe you’ll meet the perfect guy there.”

Will snorted. “I’m definitely not looking for the last part, but sure, I’ll come. What time and where am I meeting you?”

 * * * *

Later that evening, Will glanced around Lock & Key, a pub on the edge of the upper West Side in Morningside Heights, where Riley had arranged for them to meet. The floors were scuffed and slightly gritty under his feet and the tables and chairs had seen better days. The pub was entirely ordinary and not at all what Will had expected.

“Have dive bars become your thing?” he asked, mystified.

Riley laughed and clapped him on the shoulder. “This is not our destination for the night. Someone Kyle used to work with owns Lock & Key. The speakeasy is underneath.”

Will raised an eyebrow. “Under Lock & Key? Clever.”

“What can I say, my friends are punny.” Riley grinned. “Come on, follow me.” He strode to the end of the bar and opened an unmarked door. Will followed more slowly. At the end of a hallway was an old-fashioned phone mounted on the wall.

Riley picked it up and spoke. “Let me in, you fucker.” He fell silent for a moment then tipped his head back and laughed. “That is the passphrase, you jackass!”

Riley hung up the handset and turned to Will, merriment clearly written across his face. “Jesse,” he said, as if that was explanation enough.

In truth, it probably was. Jesse Murtagh was one of a kind. Part of a powerful media family in Manhattan, he was also pansexual and the biggest flirt Will had ever encountered. Not to mention charming and incredibly handsome—no wonder Carter had been attracted to him. Like Will, Jesse had been left in Riley and Carter’s wake once they’d decided to get together, but Will suspected Jesse had been far less affected.

“Are you coming down or what?” A door opened at the end of the hall and Jesse appeared, a smile lighting his face and making his bright blue eyes twinkle. He glanced over at Will and gave him an appreciative grin.

“Glad you could join us tonight, Will. You’re looking good.”

Will chuckled and stepped forward to offer Jesse his hand. “It’s good to see you too.” Irrepressible flirt notwithstanding, Jesse had a compelling presence. Broad shoulders capped off a tall, lean body and the closely-cropped beard he sported framed full lips. Not Will’s type, but easy on the eyes.

“Think you can manage to not storm off this time?” Jesse asked, raking a hand through his dark-blond hair.

Riley groaned. “Jes…”

Will smiled, despite his stab of discomfort at the reminder of the dramatic ending to his and Riley’s relationship six months prior at a Christmas party. Will had finally realized the futility of his feelings for Riley that night and caused a scene in front of a small group of their combined friends, including Jesse and Carter. Ugh. It hadn’t been one of his finer moments.

“I think I can behave tonight,” he said aloud. “So, a speakeasy, huh? What made you decide to open that?”

Jesse held open the door and allowed Riley and Will to precede him down another long, narrow hallway. “Why not? Kyle wanted to open a bar. We looked at a ton of locations and were bored by all of them, but when our friend Matt mentioned the space under Lock & Key, it all fell into place. Who doesn’t want to own an underground, secret bar?”

“I can’t say it’s ever crossed my mind,” Will admitted. They reached the end of the hall and Riley pushed open another unmarked door to reveal a stairwell. Although well-lit, the walls were painted black and totally bare.

“This is the problem with you, Will,” Jesse said. “You’re so buttoned up. You need to live a little.”

“Well I’m spending the evening at a speakeasy with you,” Will said as he followed Riley down the stairs. “Will that do for now?”

Jesse laughed. “Touché.”

Riley pushed open a door at the bottom of the steps and the sight of the bar rendered Will mute.

In sharp contrast to the run-down bar above, the speakeasy was stylish and welcoming. Open shelves on the walls were filled with bottles of liquor. Inlaid floors were topped with sleek leather and metal furniture, and candles in votives glowed on the tables. The mellow music and subdued lighting lent the space an atmosphere of sophisticated relaxation.

Astonished, Will glanced over at Jesse. “This is incredible. I’m impressed.”

“You have good taste, I’ll give you that.” Jesse grasped his shoulder and squeezed. “C’mon, let me get you a drink.”

As Will crossed the room to the bar, Riley slipped into a spot beside Carter on the leather sofa. Will tried to hide a wince as Carter reached for Riley’s knee and squeezed it without pausing in conversation.

“Wistful or vaguely nauseated?” Jesse asked as he took a seat on one of the bar stools.

Will glanced at him. “Excuse me?”

“Was the look because you wish you had that with Riley or because you’re grossed out by two people being disgustingly in love?”

“A little of both, I suppose.” Will had nothing against relationships, but they were starting to seem like a pipe dream for him.

A man appeared behind the bar and Will easily recognized him as Carter’s friend, Kyle.

“Will, right?” he said, holding out a hand. “Kyle McKee.”

“Yeah, hi. We met at Carter’s birthday dinner.”

Kyle smiled. “It’s nice to see you again.”

They shook and Will gave Kyle a once-over. Kyle was easily six feet tall, with broad shoulders, thick dark hair trimmed short on the sides, and heavy but well-groomed brows over dark eyes. Unlike Jesse, Kyle was very much Will’s type. Except for the suspenders he wore over his crisp gray shirt and his rolled-up sleeves. Kyle pulled them off better than most, but the look screamed hipster too much for Will’s tastes.

“Great place you have here.” Will glanced around. “I like it.”

“Thanks.” Kyle’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he smiled. “I’m pleased to hear it. A speakeasy wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I told Jesse I wanted to open a bar, but I’m glad I decided to go for it.”

Jesse grinned. “When will all of you learn my ideas are always brilliant?”

“Probably never.” Kyle turned back to Will. “So, what can I get you? We have a wide selection of beer, wine and cocktails.” He slid a leather-bound book in Will’s direction.

Will perused it for a moment before he closed the cover. “You know what? Surprise me. Make me a cocktail.”

“Hmm. I can do that. Anything you particularly dislike?”

“Anything too sweet. And Amaretto.”

Kyle scrutinized Will for a moment before his eyes gleamed. “Got it.”

Will watched with interest as Kyle pulled a glass out of the freezer and mixed together cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. A few moments later, Kyle poured it into a glass, topped it with a twist of lemon and slid the drink across the bar to him. “Sidecar. Tell me what you think.”

Will raised the glass to his lips and took a sip. He found the drink refreshingly cold and a perfect blend of sour and sweet with a fresh citrusy taste balanced nicely by the cognac. “That’s delicious.”

Kyle grinned. “Excellent.”

“C’mon.” Jesse picked up a tumbler filled with amber-colored liquid and a large spherical ice cube. It clinked pleasantly as he moved. “Let’s go hang out with the guys.”

The majority of the patrons were part of Riley and Carter’s group, spread out across two leather sofas and a handful of chairs that made a square seating area around a finely crafted wood coffee table. Riley leaned forward and set his martini glass down. Will placed his own drink on a table and pulled up a chair.

“Everyone, this is Will Martin. Some of you met him at Carter’s birthday and a few of you met him over the holidays. I’ll introduce everyone, though.”

Will gave him a brief smile. “Thanks.”

“You know Carter, obviously.” Carter nodded in greeting and Will returned it. “Next to Carter is his sister, Audrey.” A tan blonde woman gave him a smile over a martini glass filled with something frothy and yellow. “And Audrey’s husband, Max.” An attractive, bearded man with brown hair and light brown eyes raised a pilsner glass in greeting.

Riley continued around the circle. “Gale, Jarrod, Henry and Miles are friends of Carter’s.” The men waved and murmured their hellos.

“You seem outnumbered here, Audrey,” Will said.

She grinned at him. “I’m not complaining. My brother has some very good-looking friends.”

Her husband elbowed her. “What am I? Chopped liver?”

“Never, darling. But I see you every day.”

Kyle seated himself at an empty chair across the group. “You’re a law professor, right, Will?”

Will nodded and took a sip of his drink. “Yes, at NYU. I’m spending the summer working on my latest book.”

“What do you write?” Max asked. “I’d love to hear about it.”

Will chuckled. “You may regret you asked, but I’m currently writing about the Chief Counsel of the House Legislative Oversight Subcommittee.”

“So, political law then?”

“I couldn’t totally avoid the family business,” Will said dryly.

Audrey frowned. “You have a family member who’s a politician?”

“My father.” Will made a face. “And a Republican at that.”

“How does that work at family dinners?” Audrey asked. “I thought my parents and Carter were bad, but at least they’re not pushing discriminatory legislation.”

“I haven’t spoken to him since college, to be honest.” Will took a fortifying sip of his sidecar. “I see my mother and sister on occasion, but never when he’s around.”

Riley shot him a sympathetic smile.

“Sorry to pry,” Audrey said with an apologetic glance. “I’ve been battling my parents about them shutting Carter out and that’s difficult enough.”

“Ancient history.” Will waved off her apology. “What do you do, Audrey?”

“I chair several philanthropic organizations. And I recently got involved with PFLAG.” She exchanged a look with her brother.

Jesse leaned forward. “Beautiful and socially aware? Be still, my beating heart. If Max hadn’t met you first…” Jesse took a sip of his drink. “That goes both ways, Max.”

Max chuckled and Carter rolled his eyes. “We’ve had this discussion before, Jesse. No hitting on my sister or my brother-in-law, please. And definitely not both at once.”

A chorus of laughter rose. Riley chimed in with a humorous comment as Will relaxed back in his chair and sipped his drink, enjoying the banter flying around the room. He’d been far too antisocial since the breakup and he was glad he’d taken Riley up on his invitation.

 * * * *

A few hours later, Will reluctantly excused himself. He’d had a wonderful time and had enjoyed the witty conversation. It had left him feeling lighter and more relaxed than he had in a while. “I’m going to head home. I have an early game of racquetball planned with Charles tomorrow. I had a great night,” Will said. “Thanks for inviting me, Riley. Carter.”

“I’m glad you came,” Carter said with a nod. He offered Will a sincere smile that crinkled the corners of his hazel eyes and Will grudgingly admitted he could see Carter’s appeal. His jealousy had blinded him too much to appreciate Carter’s broad-shouldered, long-legged build and handsome face before.

Will said goodnight to everyone and Jesse stood to shake his hand. “Please come back any time. I’ll add your name to the list, so even if Kyle and I aren’t here, you’ll be let in. We do have a seat limit of forty and try to keep private events on the smaller side, but feel free to bring a friend or two. Especially if they’re hot and single.” He winked. “And maybe save that for when I’m here.”

“Jesse!” Carter sounded exasperated and Will couldn’t hide his smile.

“I’ll keep that in mind,” he said.

“We’re trying to turn this into a regular thing,” Kyle said. “Riley and I had the idea of meeting here the third Thursday of every month. Nothing formal, and if you can’t make it, no problem, but it would be great if you could join us.”

“I’ll try to make it,” Will said. “And thanks for a great evening. You make a mean sidecar.”

“Any time,” Kyle responded.

Will turned to leave. “I’ll walk you up,” Riley said. He fell into step behind Will.

“Tell Charles I said hi,” Riley said as they walked up the stairs.

“I will.”

“How are he and Gabe doing?”

“Good. They’re both pretty busy right now. Charles is teaching classes this summer and Gabe is looking into opening another restaurant.” Charles was an ex of Will’s, and one of his closest friends and a colleague at NYU. Charles had married Gabe the summer before, and Gabe owned a high-end Vietnamese restaurant in Tribeca, not far from Will’s home.

“You’re welcome to bring them to Under anytime,” Riley said. “If you think they’d be okay with that.”

Will pushed open the door leading into Lock & Key. “I’m sure Gabe will be. Charles is still holding a bit of a grudge,” he said. Will and Riley’s breakup had rocked Riley’s friendship with Gabe and Charles.

Riley sighed. “I deserve it.”

“No, I should talk to him. You and I have mended some fences. There’s no reason he needs to continue to shut you out.” Will walked through the exit of the bar and turned to Riley when they stepped onto the sidewalk out front. “Thanks for inviting me tonight.”

“I’m glad you came. I know it was asking a lot but—”

Will cut off Riley’s statement. “I meant it when I said I wanted us to be friends. You’re happy with Carter and I’m happy for you. Honestly, it’s been great hanging out with you guys and your friends.”

“I’m relieved to hear it,” Riley said with a smile. He leaned in, then hesitated and Will closed the distance to hug him.

“Have a good night, Riley.”

“Night, Will.”

Riley disappeared back through the door of Lock & Key and Will sighed. Hugging Riley left him with a bittersweet feeling, but he was glad he’d come to check out the speakeasy. And he’d meant it when he said he’d try to come back on Thursday evenings in the future. He’d needed some time to lick his wounds and recover, but his self-imposed isolation only made his loneliness worse.

He glanced up and down the street. There wasn’t a cab in sight so he pulled out his phone and brought up the Lyft app. He leaned against the wall of the brick building while he waited and a few minutes later a car slid to a stop in front of him.

Will made small-talk with the driver as the car traveled from Morningside Heights back to Tribeca. When they got caught in a traffic snarl near Central Park West because of a protest, Will took out his phone to kill the time. He was scrolling through articles on a news app when his phone vibrated in his hand.

Mom flashed across the screen and he hesitated before he accepted the call.

“Hey, Mom,” he answered.

“Will.” Agnes Martin’s voice sounded strained, with none of the usual groomed sophistication it typically held.

He straightened. “Is something wrong?”

“Will, your father…” Her breath hitched. “I have some news. Your father has been ill lately.”

Serves the old bastard right, Will thought grimly. “Ill?” he said aloud.

“Tired, losing weight, stomach pain. At first, we blamed his stress. He’s been working so hard lately—”

Yeah, probably passing more anti-LGBT legislation, Will thought.

“But when we noticed some yellowing of his eyes, we got concerned. We were hopeful it was a gallbladder issue, but after some testing, we were referred to an oncologist.”

His breath caught. OncologistShit. “He has cancer?”

“Yes. He has something called a—a non-functioning neuroendocrine tumor. Pancreatic cancer. It’s quite large and the doctors are concerned it’s spread to some nearby lymph nodes. It’s stage III and the—the prognosis isn’t good.”

Will took a moment to let the words sink in, but didn’t feel much of anything about the news. A wave of guilt washed over him. “I’m sorry, Mom,” he said gently. She loved his father and while Will had many, many issues with William Martin Sr. as a father and an elected official, he had always treated Will’s mother well. There had never been a hint of infidelity and after Agnes had suffered a serious car accident years ago, Bill hadn’t left her side until she’d recovered. “I know how hard this must be for you.”

His mother sniffled. “I can’t lose him. I know you and your father have your…differences but—”

“We don’t have differences,” he retorted. Any goodwill he’d felt dissipated. “He detests me. He thinks I am less deserving of the same basic human rights he affords everyone else. That’s more than an ideological difference, Mom, that’s a complete lack of respect for me as a human being.”

“Come to Garden City,” she blurted out and the words rang in his ear for several seconds before he could process them.

“What? You must be kidding,” he said. “You can’t think I’d come to Long Island to sit by his deathbed and hold his hand.” He winced. His cruel words served only to remind Agnes her husband was probably dying. “I’m sorry, Mom, but I can’t do it. I can’t pretend like everything is fine between us. We haven’t spoken in over ten years and it’s not only because I’m pissed at him. He’s the one who cut me out of his life, remember?”

“He wants you here,” she said softly. Agnes had used the same tone during Will’s years growing when she tried to get him to do something he didn’t want to do.

Will sat back in his seat. “Really?”

“I asked him if you could come home and he said yes.”

Well, that was more plausible than Will’s father specifically asking for him to come home. He sighed. “I-I don’t know. I suppose I could come for a long weekend or something. School’s out and I could work on my edits while I’m there.”

Agnes went silent for a moment. “I hoped you’d stay longer. Your father is undergoing surgery next week, but it’ll be exhausting for all of us. If the surgery doesn’t work, we may only have a few months left with him.” Her voice broke.

“You want me to spend the entire summer in Long Island?” he asked, incredulous.

“Please, Will. If you won’t come for your father, come home for Olivia and me. Your sister and I need you. We can’t do this alone.”

Will glanced out of the window, surprised the bright lights of the city were blurred by tears. He wasn’t sure who they were for.

“I’ll think about it, Mom.”

BOOK 2

Book Title: Extra Dirty (The Speakeasy Book 2)

Author: K. Evan Coles and Brigham Vaughn

Publisher: Pride Publishing/Totally Entwined Group

Genre/s: Contemporary, Romance, Gay, GLBTQI

Heat Level: 4 flames

Length: 88 944 words/ 345 pages

Release Date: March 26, 2019

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Tagline

Love, served extra dirty.

Blurb

Jesse Murtagh loves his life as a wealthy bisexual businessman dedicated to the pursuit of pleasure. With a circle of friends he trusts implicitly, he enjoys a successful career in his family’s business and as co-owner of Under, an uptown speakeasy, with his friend with benefits, Kyle McKee.

Music teacher and part-time DJ Cameron Lewis lives modestly in a DUMBO loft and isn’t interested in serious relationships. However, he’s always up for some casual fun.

Doing a favor for his friend Carter Hamilton, Jesse meets Cam and is immediately charmed. When Jesse discovers Cam’s other life as a DJ, he is further intrigued. Viewing Cam as a challenge, Jesse pulls out all the stops, but his usual methods to avoid serious relationships fail. Though Cam has no intention of becoming attached, he begins to fall for Jesse, unaware that Jesse’s feelings are changing.

Afraid of heartbreak, Cam pulls away, leaving Jesse bewildered and hurt. They remain friends until a series of misunderstandings widens the rift to breaking point. When Cam steps in to help Jesse through a family crisis, they realize they care for each other more than they’ve been willing to admit. Jesse and Cam don’t want a traditional relationship, but can they build a future that makes them both happy?

Buy Links

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Excerpt

April 2015

Jesse Murtagh set down the packet of financial statements he’d been reviewing and smiled. He was seated in the back office of Under, a speakeasy in Morningside Heights, and life was good.

With Under approaching its one-year anniversary, the bar’s earnings surpassed expectations each quarter. They boasted a full guest list every night, and Under appeared as a “must visit” on New York’s fashionable lifestyle blogs and guides. Business was booming. And its success meant everything to Jesse and his business partner, Kyle McKee.

In addition to being Under’s co-owner, Kyle also happened to be one of Jesse’s favorite people in the world and one of his favorite partners in bed. Jesse would bet he’d find Kyle out in the speakeasy right now, too, readying the place for opening.

Jesse got to his feet. He locked the papers in the desk, then exited the office and moved toward the long bar that ran the length of the room. Under had a masculine, sophisticated vibe. Sleek leather seating areas dotted the room and open shelves lined the walls, backlit with amber lamps that cast a warm glow over bottles of rare and high-end liquors. On a typical evening, house music throbbed through the air by now, but Jesse and Kyle were holding a private party tonight, and silence reigned, save the sounds of Kyle at work.

“Hey, gorgeous,” Jesse drawled. “When did you get here?”

Kyle glanced up at Jesse’s approach. He smiled and the quirk of his full lips sent a ripple of heat through Jesse’s body.

“About an hour ago.” He shrugged easily. Kyle had dressed in black, as he always did for work, and rolled his shirtsleeves up to the elbow. His muscled forearms flexed as he polished a rocks glass. “I saw Matt upstairs when I came in. He told me you were here, but I figured you’d be busy counting the money. Thought I’d leave you to it.”

Jesse rounded the bar with a laugh. “You know me too well.”

Opening the speakeasy had been a departure from his usual business of running a growing regional media conglomerate with his family. Jesse had never even worked in a bar or restaurant, let alone owned one. But Kyle had mentioned the idea of opening a bar one night over dinner and drinks, and the way his dark eyes had shone had captured Jesse’s fancy.

Jesse had mulled the idea over for several days, then brought it to his brother, Eric. He’d hoped Eric would talk him out of it and had thrown up his hands when Eric merely smiled.

’I’m not sure who you think you’re fooling, Jes,’ Eric had said. ‘I can already tell you’ve made up your mind to do it.’

And so, Jesse had found himself working with his accountants and his lawyer to create a business proposal. Within two weeks of that fateful dinner, he’d presented it to Kyle. They’d celebrated by screwing each other senseless, then started scouting for a location the very next day.

Jesse stepped up behind Kyle now and molded himself against his body. He wound his arms around Kyle’s waist, careful to avoid the glass in his hands.

In many ways, Kyle appeared to be Jesse’s opposite. His elegant, clean-shaven features and dark hair contrasted with Jesse’s short beard and dark-blond, blue-eyed coloring. Jesse broadcasted his emotions, whereas Kyle was more reserved. Both men stood at six feet and were built long and lean, like runners. But where Jesse could be coltish in his movements, Kyle’s were deliberate and graceful. Kyle, Jesse liked to say, had found his Zen.

Jesse nuzzled the side of Kyle’s neck. “I take it last month’s numbers are good?” Kyle’s voice went low and throaty.

“Indeed.” Jesse pulled him closer. He angled his hips and pressed his groin against Kyle’s muscular ass, and his body paid immediate attention to that firm heat. “The numbers are so good, in fact, I think we should celebrate.” He pressed a lingering kiss to Kyle’s throat.

Kyle leaned back into him with a rumbling noise. He set the glass he’d been polishing on the bar. “What did you have in mind?”

“Next weekend off—Masen can handle things in your absence.”

“Well, he’ll like that.”

Kyle sounded amused. They’d hired Masen Jones earlier in the year to help out, and he’d quickly become Kyle’s right-hand man.

“A whole weekend, though… I don’t know, Jes.”

Jesse dropped one hand and palmed Kyle through his trousers, and, oh, yes, he was hard. Kyle let out a soft gasp.

“Friday and Saturday, then,” Jesse bargained. He closed his eyes, heat flashing under his skin as Kyle pushed back and ground against him. “We’ll go to that club in Chelsea you told me about.”

“Oh, fine.” Kyle turned in the circle of his arms. “I’ll bring Jarrod and Gale as backup,” he added, then looped his arms around Jesse’s neck. “They can walk me home after you find someone to disappear with.”

Jesse grinned. “You really do know me too well,” he murmured and covered Kyle’s mouth with his own.

The kiss deepened and Kyle groaned. Jesse palmed him again, his touch rough, and pressed Kyle backward hard into the bar. Kyle’s cock twitched under Jesse’s hand, and he broke away with a sharp inhale.

“Jesus.”

“Jesse will do.”

Jesse let Kyle go and leaned back enough to get his hands on Kyle’s belt. Desire pulsed through him. Quickly, he opened Kyle’s trousers and pushed the dark fabric down his legs. Kyle’s eyes were wild when Jesse looked up again and a flush stained his cheeks and neck. He uttered a soft moan as Jesse sank to his knees.

Jesse kissed Kyle’s thighs. He kneaded the soft, fair skin with his hands and dragged Kyle’s boxer briefs down. Kyle sighed as his cock slipped free of the underwear and jutted up onto his abdomen.

Jesse pressed his face into the juncture between Kyle’s thigh and groin and inhaled the smell of almond-scented soap and sweat and man. “Damn,” he said, his voice low. “You always smell so good.”

Kyle ran his hands over Jesse’s head, then twined his fingers into his short hair. That possessive touch sent a jolt of lust zigzagging down Jesse’s spine. He loved it when Kyle got rough.

Shifting, he held tight to Kyle’s hips and opened his mouth at the base of his cock. He slowly dragged his tongue along its length.

“Oh, God.” Kyle’s low whisper set a fire in Jesse’s belly.

He licked and teased the shaft before he ducked down and caught Kyle’s balls with his tongue. He lavished them with attention until Kyle moaned steadily, then looked up and locked eyes with him. The dazed bliss on his face made Jesse’s dick throb.

“Suck me,” Kyle rasped out.

Jesse pulled back. He braced one arm across Kyle’s abdomen and wrapped his free hand around his base. Very, very slowly, he slid his lips over Kyle, reveling in the bittersweet taste and weight of the hard, velvety flesh on his tongue.

He took Kyle deep and waited until his nose brushed the curls of hair on his groin before he swallowed. Kyle’s eyes went wide. Jesse pinned him against the bar, and he bucked his hips forward, a strangled noise tearing out of him.

Kyle tipped his head back as Jesse sucked. He closed his eyes and swore, and his ragged tone went straight to Jesse’s groin. Jesse dropped his free hand and palmed himself, past caring if he shot in his pants.

He worked Kyle hard with his mouth until a shudder racked his frame. Jesse moved the arm pinning Kyle’s hips, which left him free to fuck Jesse’s mouth. Kyle opened his eyes again and stared at Jesse, his gaze filled with fire. He started to thrust and desire rattled down Jesse’s spine. He groaned with need and closed his eyes when Kyle gasped.

“Gonna come, Jes,” Kyle said, his voice rough and desperate. He tensed at Jesse’s moan. Then Jesse pressed the fingers of his free hand into the soft skin behind Kyle’s balls, and Kyle fell apart with a cry.

He tightened his grip on Jesse’s hair and his knees buckled. Jesse used his shoulder to hold Kyle up. His balls tightened as Kyle pulsed in his mouth, and he swallowed, tasting bitter and salt.

Kyle’s panting breaths echoed through the silent bar. Jesse pulled off, his head swimming, and Kyle freed his shaking hands from Jesse’s hair. He bent and hauled Jesse to his feet, and Jesse stumbled and clutched at Kyle.

“You okay?” Kyle asked with a smile.

“Dizzy. And I wanna fuck you right now,” Jesse muttered. Jesus, he needed to come. He pulled Kyle in for a messy kiss and ground his erection against Kyle’s thigh until Kyle broke away with a breathless laugh.

“I think we’ve violated enough health codes for now,” Kyle said. “Besides, we don’t have any lube or rubbers.”

“There’s some in the office.”

“We used them up last weekend.”

Jesse whined and rutted harder into Kyle. “Fuck.”

“I said no,” Kyle scolded, his tone playful and his brown eyes gleaming. He pulled his trousers up. No sooner were they buttoned than he sank to his knees and reached for Jesse’s belt. “Lucky for you, there’s time for me to suck you off and clean up.”

Kyle worked Jesse’s fly open and leaned in. He spread his palms over Jesse’s thighs and mouthed him through his boxer briefs. Goosebumps rose along Jesse’s arms at the press of damp heat and cotton against his erection. Leaning forward, he braced his hands against the gleaming bar, arrested by the sight of his friend. Kyle shut his eyes and nuzzled Jesse through his clothes. His long, dark lashes fanned over his fair skin, and his lips were parted and wet. He looked unbelievably erotic.

Jesse cupped his jaw. “Mmm, baby.”

Kyle opened his eyes. He hooked his fingertips under the waistband of Jesse’s boxer briefs, then pulled his trousers and briefs down. Jesse hissed. He bit his lip hard when his cock sprang free, and Kyle swallowed him down.

Jesse’s world exploded in a roar of pleasure that wiped his mind clean.

Life was very good indeed.

About the Authors

K. Evan Coles

K. Evan Coles is a mother and tech pirate by day and a writer by night. She is a dreamer who, with a little hard work and a lot of good coffee, coaxes words out of her head and onto paper.

K. lives in the northeast United States, where she complains bitterly about the winters, but truly loves the region and its diverse, tenacious and deceptively compassionate people. You’ll usually find K. nerding out over books, movies and television with friends and family. She’s especially proud to be raising her son as part of a new generation of unabashed geeks.

K.’s books explore LGBTQ+ romance in contemporary settings.

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Brigham Vaughn

Brigham Vaughn is on the adventure of a lifetime as a full-time writer. She devours books at an alarming rate and hasn’t let her short arms and long torso stop her from doing yoga.  She makes a killer key lime pie, hates green peppers, and loves wine tasting tours. A collector of vintage Nancy Drew books and green glassware, she enjoys poking around in antique shops and refinishing thrift store furniture. An avid photographer, she dreams of traveling the world and she can’t wait to discover everything else life has to offer her.

Her books range from short stories to novellas. They explore gay, bisexual, lesbian, and polyamorous romance in contemporary settings.

Want to stay up to date and be notified of Brigham Vaughn’s latest releases? Sign up for the Coles & Vaughn Newsletter here.

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