Blog Tour for Sum of the Whole by Brenda Murphy with our Author Interview (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title:  Sum of the Whole

Author: Brenda Murphy

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 19

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 50000

Genre: Contemporary, Contemporary, BDSM, age gap, interracial, businesswoman

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~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Brenda Murphy~

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Brenda Murphy here today talking about writing, books, and her latest story Sum of the Whole!, Welcome, Brenda!

 

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

The first story I submitted for publication was 1500 word short story and the inspiration came from a news headline. It was rejected but the editor gave me very good feedback and encouragement.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

I stick to a strict writing schedule and write from nine AM until one PM, Monday through Friday when my kids are in school. During the summer and when they are on break I write in bits and pieces, making use of whatever time I have. If I am deep into a story, I will write after they go to bed. I wrote my master’s thesis between the time they were born (I have twins) and when they were one. I learned how to write fast and make progress with little bits of time.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I do a lot of pre-writing, backstory and such, coming up with my characters and the setting for the story. I make a playlist choosing a theme song for the lead character, and choose songs that create a mood for the book.  Once that is in place I create goal/motivation/conflict sheets for each character, write up a brief physical description and find a photo that will represent that character. After that I create a scene list writing down ideas as they come to me. Once I have a list, I transfer the scenes to 3×5 cards with a sentence or two about what has to happen in that scene to move the story forward. I lay them out and rearrange them on the floor of my office until the story flows. I know that a scene is about a thousand words so the number of cards used is about my word count, eighty cards would equal about eighty thousand words. I transfer the final organization of cards to Scrivner and then start typing.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

As a gender non-conforming queer woman I write the kind of stories I want read. Growing up there were very few books that featured LGBTQIA characters, and the ones that existed portrayed the characters in very negative ways and never had happy endings. 

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

I love to travel and talk to people. I always keep a travel journal and take notes/photographs to use in my stories.  To give my characters authentic voices I read ethnographic research, oral histories, and blogs. When I write outside my race/ethnicity, I have lovley friends who are willing to read my manuscript and give me feedback about my characters.

Synopsis

Jaya Pomroy falls desperately in love with Sarah while vacationing at an exclusive BDSM pleasure house. Unwilling to become Jaya’s possession, yearning for independence, Sarah refuses to leave with her and they part after a bitter fight.

Six years later they meet again. Fighting to leave her past behind, but unable to resist her attraction for Jaya, Sarah agrees to try again. Jaya has to cope with new rules and new roles. When a former client threatens to expose Sarah, Jaya risks everything to protect her.

Can their love survive in the real world filled with vengeful ex-lovers and deadly secrets?

Excerpt

Sum of the Whole
Brenda Murphy © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Jaya scrolled through the messages on her phone, rereading the instructions from the owner of the house. Her palms were sweaty in spite of the air conditioning. She shifted her hips, trying to find a comfortable spot on the broad leather seats.

“Do you wish to stop, Mistress? It’ll be at least an hour before we reach the house.” The driver’s husky voice matched her stocky build and ruddy face. Jaya appraised the thick hands wrapped around the wheel and the way the chauffeur’s livery draped her broad shoulders and considered it. The woman made eye contact with Jaya in the rearview mirror, one eyebrow raised and lips in a closed-mouth smile. Jaya imagined saying, “Yes, let us stop somewhere and I’ll flog you until we’re both satisfied,” but the instructions from Rowan House were explicit and interactions with the staff were not permitted outside the house.

“No.” Jaya kept her voice soft and let her gaze rest on the woman’s face in the mirror. “I’m tired of people staring at me.”

“You’re a sight, Ma’am, if you don’t mind me saying so.”

“You’d think they’d never seen a woman in a suit before.” Jaya left out the word “dark-skinned.”

“It’s your height, Ma’am. And you’re fetching in that suit. I imagine out of it as well.”

Jaya looked down. She had not flirted like this in years and it was wonderful, even if she knew it was not going to lead to anything more.

“Do you always flirt with your guests?” She relaxed her shoulders and sat back in the seat.

“Only the ones I find—” The driver looked at Jaya in the mirror. “Stunning.” She turned on the radio and went back to piloting the long, black town car through roundabouts as they left Armadale. As they traveled farther from the city, she was occupied dodging rough spots and the occasional mud-splattered sheep wandering along the edge of the single-track road.

Jaya sank into the soft leather seats, grateful for the distraction of the driver’s banter and the tinted windows, dark enough to hide her face from anyone who might try to catch a glimpse of the car’s passengers. On the ferry to Skye, she had caught more than one mother reminding her children not to stare. The curious faces of the children were better than the hard looks she got from the men on the ship. Half of them looked like they wanted to fuck her; the other half looked like they wanted to kill her. Some probably wanted to do both.

She had not anticipated how angry she would feel under the gaze of the other passengers. She had almost wished one of the rude men would start something so she could finish it. She had worn this suit to her father’s funeral, to her brother’s dismay. An orphan again at thirty-five. The high from the banter with the driver wore off and she slumped in her seat. She sifted through her memories of the last two years. Her father’s illness and slow death, her brother’s anger, and Deidre’s departure blended into an oppressing melancholy. What the hell was I thinking? Why am I looking for comfort here?

She could have chosen another venue for her adventure, but Jaya wanted to experience this house. The house Deidre spoke of as her home. She lied to herself, telling herself she chose this house because it was highly recommended as a discreet, old-school establishment dedicated to unique and personalized experiences.

Deidre. The woman of sorrows. Never was a woman more truly named. Jaya scrolled through the photos of Deidre on her phone. Brutal memories of their life together filled the emptiness of the ride. As they traveled farther into the country, the battery on her phone quietly expired. Jaya tucked it into her bag and let the rocking of the car soothe her as they drove past rough stone walls and rocky pastures.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

 

Brenda Murphy writes both short stories and novels. She is a member of Romance Writers of America. Her non-fiction and fiction work has been published in various collections—most recently, “Whole Again” in First: Sensual Stories of New Beginnings (Ladylit Publishing, 2015).

When she is not writing or teaching cooking classes, she’s attempting to train an unrepentant parrot, much to her Ohioan family’s delight. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog, writingwhiledistracted.com. She shares recipes and celebrates food on her blog, quinbykitchensideshow.com.

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Tour Schedule

 

6/19    Love Bytes – http://www.lovebytesreviews.com

6/19    Boy Meets Boy Reviews – Boymeetsboyreviews.blogspot.com

6/20    Scattered Thoughts and Roue Words – https://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords.com/

6/20    Liz’s Reading Life – http://lizjosette.blogpsot.com

6/20    Erotica For All – http://eroticaforall.co.uk

6/21    Happily Ever Chapter – https://www.facebook.com/happilyeverchapter

6/21    My Fiction Nook – http://myfictionnook.com

6/22    MM Good Book Reviews – https://mmgoodbookreviews.wordpress.com/

6/23    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews – http://wickedfaeriesreviews.blogspot.com

6/23    Divine Magazine – https://www.divinemagazine.biz/

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Release Day Blitz for Painting Class by Suzanne Clay (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Painting Class

Series: Chiaroscuro, Book 1

Author: Suzanne Clay

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 10300

Genre: Contemporary, erotica, contemporary, lesbian, artist, teacher/student, age-gap, interracial, light D/s

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Synopsis

Ainsley’s first gallery showing is way out of her comfort zone. After teaching high school art for over a decade, she can’t think of anywhere else she’d rather be than the classroom, and especially not in front of a crowd of strangers ogling her paintings.

Salvation comes in the form of an insightful young woman who coaxes Ainsley to open up about her inspiration, her drive, and her sexuality. Sparks fly before Ainsley realizes that the young woman is her former student, Noma, freshly graduated from college. As Ainsley fights to reconcile her memories of Noma with the woman she’s become, they fall into a playful game of dominance and submission that will change their relationship forever.

Excerpt

Painting Class
Suzanne Clay © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“You look like you might need this.”

Ainsley looked at the glass of wine hovering in front of her and smiled at her deliverance. “Thank you, Brent,” she murmured, exhaling shakily as she lifted it to her lips. Sipping carefully, she let the bouquet bloom on her tongue and checked that she hadn’t left a lipstick stain on the glass. “No one told me it was going to feel like this.”

“What, success?” Brent chuckled as he fit against the wall beside her, his hand tucked into his pocket, his suit neatly tailored as always. “Yeah, I feel like you probably should’ve anticipated this.”

Ainsley shook her head. Her bangs fell in her eyes as she ducked behind the rim of her glass. “I wouldn’t call this success. It’s a gallery showing.”

“That happens to have an open bar, an excellent setting, and a room full of people analyzing your work.” He gave her a look. “Babe, please, you’ve got something in your hand here that not a whole lot of us get.”

“Jealous?” she asked as she met his eyes and quirked a brow, trying to hide the curve of her smile.

“Oh, miserable,” Brent said dryly. “No, yeah, I absolutely wish I’d gone this route and not the one that got me my giant house.”

“Ouch.” Ainsley elbowed him. “You know, some of us weren’t lucky enough to bag a rich husband right out of college.”

“And some of us weren’t lucky enough to have actual talent,” he shot right back. He tilted his glass toward one of Ainsley’s paintings. “You worked with what you had, and I worked with what I had. Turns out you had the drive, and I had a rockin’ bod. And y’know, I think it worked out pretty damn well for the both of us.”

Ainsley laughed as she leaned into him. “You’re ridiculous.”

“Yeah, but it got you smiling, didn’t it?”

It had. Ainsley was thankful for Brent, really. These little bursts of comedic cattiness were a mask he hadn’t worn around her since they were in college, but it made her feel young again, not like they were nearing forty and trying to figure out where their lives had gone.

“You’ve gotta get back out there, kid,” Brent murmured near her ear. “Schmooze with the best of them.”

“Can’t you do that for me?” she whispered back.

“Boy, I wish,” he drawled. He touched a hand to the small of her back and nudged her. “Go on; get yourself some exposure. Sell some of those paintings. I wanna see one of them hanging in Madonna’s house by the end of the year.”

“Or it’ll be a wasted year,” Ainsley quipped back. But she let Brent guide her onto the gallery floor anyway. It’d be easier to hide in the corner and let her batteries recharge, but it’d also be a shame to waste this opportunity, especially if this was going to be her only gallery showing ever.

Ainsley hadn’t regretted her time working as a teacher. She really hadn’t. If she had to choose between every one of her paintings on the walls here and the thousands of students who’d come through her door, she’d pick the students a million times over. In her younger days as an undergrad, when she would quietly set up in a studio, picking the perfect paints for her canvas and thrilling herself with the feel of a brush in her hands, she might’ve said she craved the life of a gallery artist. But she’d changed. It felt like too selfish a life.

Should she have believed her art would change the world? She valued beauty. She valued a high aesthetic. Her statements were softness, silence, and warmth. And she’d be a fool if she pretended these were anything unique or groundbreaking. No, Ainsley found it more important to empower the next generation to create whatever statements they chose in whatever medium they preferred.

Still, Ainsley liked scratching things off her bucket list as much as the next person. She never imagined this show happening when she’d reached out on a whim, but it had, and now that she was here, she might as well soak it all up.

She approached her favorite piece, a lush field of flowers and two couples having a picnic within it. The two men were dressed in soft bowlers and fine suits, and the women, on their separate blanket, were lovely with their parasols and lace. Each couple had their hands gently knitted together between them, and their backs were to the viewer as they sat considering the sunset.

Perhaps she made more of a statement than she believed.

“Man, that’s really something.”

Ainsley smiled at hearing the soft voice behind her, at how low it was, how warm. It sounded exactly like she wanted her paintings to feel. She wondered if the speaker knew she was the artist and decided to take the risk they didn’t. But when there was no immediate response, no one the speaker had been sharing their thoughts with, Ainsley turned to take a look. A young woman stood there in a bright sundress. Her hair was teased out in a dyed green afro that played off the hazel of her eyes beautifully.

She was lovely. Ainsley immediately felt the itch in her fingers to paint again. It felt like coming home, but she couldn’t place why.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Suzanne is an asexual woman with a great love for writing erotica and enjoys spending her time confusing people with that fact. She believes there is a need for heightened diversity in erotic fiction and strives to write enough stories so that everyone can see themselves mirrored in a protagonist. She lives with her husband and cat, and, when not writing, Suzanne enjoys reading, playing video games poorly, and refusing to interact outdoors with other human beings.

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Release Day Blitz Drama Queens and Adult Themes by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Drama Queens and Adult Themes

Series: Actors and Angels, book 2

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 22, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 62350

Genre: Fantasy, performance arts, contemporary, established relationship, angels, over 40, open relationship, age gap, ménage, cheating, drugs, death, romance, fantasy, paranormal, cisgender

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Synopsis

Adam’s about to discover how much drama a mid-life crisis can be. He’s obsessed with Mannix, the nude model in his art class. But Adam has been married to Wade for nearly two decades, and they don’t have an open relationship.

Little do they know that Fabien, a warlock from the Afterlife, has secretly cast a spell of lust on Adam and his potential toy-boy.

As things begin to heat up, Adam’s guardian angel, Guy, steps in. But what’s the best way to save the relationship? Should Guy subdue Adam’s wandering passions or instigate a steamy threesome?

Excerpt

Drama Queens and Adult Themes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Adam

He stood wearing a velvety white towel and an eager grin. Either could’ve disappeared at my whim. I smelled the freshly laundered lemon scent of the towel combined with the odor of his body sweat, which I was dying to lick from his forehead. I’m always a sucker for a devil-may-care attitude. It makes me weak at the knees in an instant, but in this case, I was already reclined in my gleaming white tub, so there was no danger of losing my balance. The water filled to the brim, and I knew that when he joined me, he would splash the tiles below.

I’d only known him for half an hour, and already I was under his spell. Was he a young man of style, or was he a man of simple tastes? Did he have a daytime career that gave him the world at his fingertips, or did he simply have the freedom of freelance engagements?

Time slowed as his luxurious towel fell to the floor. His body was not toned like a swimwear model. His features would never inspire a dozen wet dreams. It was his everyday physical qualities that were driving me wild. That tuft of silky chest hair that traced its way to his belly button. He even had a little flab. Not too much, just a tad. To me, it signaled a man of zero pretense.

But as the towel was now on the floor, his upper body wasn’t what I was focusing on. He lifted one leg and eased himself into the water. The other leg followed as instinct lured my face toward his luscious…

“At some point, Adam, you do need to put pencil to paper,” said my art teacher. He had crept up behind me.

My wayward daydream vanished. Hopefully, I’d find it again before bedtime. I blushed and so did the nude model. I quickly drew a line, but it wasn’t in keeping with the young man’s form.

I was startled at my own behavior. A man of my age wasn’t supposed to act like a starstruck teenager. My instructor gently gripped my hand and guided my pencil to create a more natural line.

The model winked at me as some of the other students chuckled. Another budding male artist with bleached-blond hair nodded in my direction, smiling slyly.

“Okay, I admit it. My mind was somewhere else, and I apologize to the model,” I said.

All eyes in the room were on me.

“I’m flattered,” the model replied.

“It’s not like me to act like this, seriously.”

“Can I get you a glass of water?” asked the teacher.

“Thanks but I’ll get one myself. I think I need a walk. I’ll catch up on my drawing as soon as I get back.”

I rushed out of the classroom. This was all too weird in my situation. I was in my early forties and still madly in love with the man I’d shared my life with for the last eighteen years. We had a healthy sex life, even though I fantasized more than I’d like to admit. In fact, any dreamy man wandering past my view would arouse my animal instincts faster than a straight guy in a room of lipstick lesbians. But this young man posing for art class had my tongue dragging so close to the floor I was licking it clean. I was definitely not ready for a midlife crisis, or so I thought.

I sat on a seat in the corridor. Was I capable of having a discreet fling? I lightly slapped myself on the cheek, waking up to how ridiculous this question was. Why would he want to have an affair with an old fart like me?

It was the middle of winter, and I could already feel chilled air on the tip of my nose. I stood up and headed for the bathroom. I splashed warm water on my face. I stared at the mirror, giving my reflection some sound advice.

“Adam, get a grip. You don’t know this guy, but suddenly he’s invaded your thoughts. Yes, I know he looks really cute up there with nothing but that devilish grin and a pair of turquoise socks, but come on now, he can’t be more than thirty!”

“Seems like you’re smitten,” alleged the bleached-blond student.

He had wandered through the door and was heading for the urinal.

“Were you standing outside long?”

“I heard you down the corridor. Nothing to be ashamed of, really. This is my fourth class, and I’ve had to draw that same model once before. He hasn’t got the perfect body, but boy has he got the perfect attitude. Alluring, and if there is a god, available.”

The blond zipped up his fly and wandered to the sink next to me.

“I agree, but I usually don’t go around acting like a schoolgirl with a crush.”

“Enjoy it. Not all their models have that much charisma.”

We escorted each other back to art class where the other students had made headway on their drawings. I focused on the model’s socks in an attempt to concentrate on my artwork, rather than the young man’s prominent feature. Soon the ankles were added before my pencil carefully outlined his masculine legs.

As I traced up to the hip, I sighed as I studied his most manly asset. How should I draw it? Would the teacher fail me if I portrayed it erect? After all, a great artist should display his own feelings on the sketchpad.

I decided to skip his crotch and draw his chest. His slightly defined chest. Not too developed, but not devoid of shape either. The small tuft of dark hair in the center of the upper body was outlined with great care. Outlining shape was one thing, but defining the type of chest hair someone had was another. A trail of thick small lines was carefully added to the picture from the torso to the navel.

“Okay folks, pencils down.”

The teacher wandered around the room giving us feedback. The charming model reached for a pair of frayed blue jeans, which were neatly folded over the back of a chair just an arm’s length away. He pulled them up and carefully buttoned the fly around his naked assets, as he clearly hadn’t brought underwear.

“We’ll have him back in a couple of weeks if you want to complete this particular drawing,” said the teacher.

He gave me a cheeky look.

“How far did you get?” asked the model.

He grabbed his dusty-pink T-shirt and snuggled into it tightly.

“Not as far as I would have liked,” I replied.

“Let’s see.”

He strolled over to my unfinished work. I was anxious by the thought of only a patch of denim between me and the model’s private bulge. I concentrated on my artwork and tried not to let the man’s proximity lead me to more wicked thoughts. Who was I kidding?

I had to divert my attention to our teacher instead, who was heading my way. He was a funky, retired chap. Black thick-rimmed glasses, peppered hair, and beard with a gentle face. The kind of man who’d take long walks with his wife in the park and watch Sunday arts programs on television.

“For the short amount of time you spent on this, you did pretty well for a newcomer,” he said. “But what are these strange lines to his side?”

“Um, I had this desire to add wings to my subject.”

“Wings?”

“I know it’s odd, but you did say at the beginning of class not to be constrained by what we see, and that we all see characteristics differently.”

“Yeah, but wings? Are you picturing our model as some kind of angel?”

“Why not? I’m seeing caring characteristics.”

The young man gave me a saintly smile. The teacher stroked his chin before pointing to the socks I’d drawn.

“Are my ankles really that shape?” the model asked.

He bent over to take a closer look. I wanted to bury my tongue in the nape of his neck and lick off any imaginary sweat.

“Yes, that’s the shape of your ankles,” the instructor replied. He gestured toward a student near the window. “Ian over there did a better job on your ankles, but Adam really did well on your socks. The way the shape of the feet peep through the cotton is not something I expect from a first-timer.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I used to do a little sketch work last year but only amateur stuff. Still life from things around the house. A clock, fruit, dirty laundry, that sort of thing.”

“Bring in your drawings next week. I’d like to see them.” He spoke up to address the class. “Now let’s check out Ian’s work, and Carla’s. Ian knows his ankles, and Carla’s good with faces.”

We walked over to look at Ian’s sketch as the other students followed. Ian’s careful study of the model’s feet almost made them look bare. Carla captured the man’s cheeky smirk skillfully, making that feature alone the highlight of her image. The budding blond artist did his best work with the chest and hips, although they were considerably more masculine than they needed to be.

We all made the rounds, admiring and commenting on the other artworks before ending back at my attempt. There were unanimous compliments about the socks, sparking the suspicion that I must have a foot fetish. Like anyone, I had my kinks, but sucking toes was not one of them. There’s something about a tinea marinade that just doesn’t float my boat.

“You know, Adam, maybe you’re onto something with the angel wings,” said Carla. “I would have put a wry smile and devil horns on him, just because I think he’s cheeky. But you see him as virtuous.”

“Divine, maybe, but not virtuous,” I replied.

Everyone strolled back to their easels to pack away their portraits except for the appealing model. He stayed to chat. He even helped me roll up the drawing as I studied the way his skillful hands worked with a cylindrical object.

“I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks if you want to finish the picture. They use me at least once a month.”

“Getting naked doesn’t bother you?”

“I have open-minded parents. They used to take me to nudist beaches when I was a kid.”

“Only child?”

“Only child.”

“Spoiled?”

“A bit. Still am, I suppose, even living away from home. Mum’s always dropping off baked dinners or cookies for me and my flatmate. You’d think we can’t fend for ourselves.”

“I’m Adam,” I said.

I raised my hand, and he shook it firmly.

“Mannix. Please don’t ask what my parents were thinking when they came up with that name. On marijuana or something.”

“I like it.”

“I want to change it, eventually.”

“What to?”

“At this stage, I haven’t a clue.”

“Keep it. It sounds like the name of a secret agent.”

“Yeah, a pretty lame one at that.”

Mannix handed me my picture as I beamed at him, probably resembling a lonely bachelor with a crush on an enigmatic porn star.

“I’m honored you were taken with the subject matter,” he teased.

“Between you and me, Mannix, that’s never happened to me before. I’m sorry if I was staring.”

“Not blowing my own trumpet or anything, but Adam, you wouldn’t be the first.” He winked, which kind of made me feel embarrassed. “Do you need a lift somewhere?”

“It’s okay. I have my car.”

Instantly, I regretted this admission of car ownership. Could I grab those words from the air and stuff them back in my mouth? My beautiful partner, Wade, was not going to be home for at least another hour and a half, and maybe, just maybe? I snapped back from my adolescent thoughts and sighed.

“Do you want a nightcap before going home?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied with the zeal of a henpecked man about to get a lap dance. “I mean, sure. That’s a good idea. Whatever you want. Drink. Good suggestion.”

“Is that bar on Clarence Street on your way home?”

“As a matter of fact, it is.”

It was actually in the opposite direction.

“Looks like we’ve got a date.”

He walked ahead of me before helping get my pencils and my sketch onto the passenger seat of my car. It was a ten-year-old modest two-door hatch, which Wade and I had bought secondhand. We both used to drive it before my partner fell in love with a flashier sedan he’d found at a dealership.

I thanked Mannix as he walked to the opposite row of vehicles parked at the neighborhood center. The beep of the automatic lock made a sporty little mini double blink its headlights.

The young man eased into his understated luxury car with unassuming confidence. I was a sucker for material items I couldn’t afford, especially this type of tasteful indulgence. Mannix teased his engine before letting his vehicle make its way out of the car park.

I sat there for a minute or two, wondering if I was doing the right thing. After all, I was only going for a drink. Wasn’t I? Guilt was rising through my body. I could see Mannix climbing over me into that imaginary bathtub again. His basket of goodies inviting this old wolf to sample.

I turned the key and started my engine. As I made my way to the street, my thoughts alternated between Technicolor adultery and refined G-rated friendship. Did Mannix have an ulterior motive, or was I full of wishful thinking? It wouldn’t be hard to hide this fling from Wade, even if we just decided to meet up on another night when I was supposed to be at art class.

No, bugger it. Why wait? There was a bathtub waiting at home, and Wade was at his salsa lesson and wouldn’t be home for at least another hour. The tub would be filled to the brim, a bottle of champagne, two glasses, and a Northern soul compilation drifting in from the lounge room.

But then, I wondered what would happen if Wade’s dancing partner, Tim, didn’t need a lift home. He’d be home early. How would I have explained my need to bathe? Perhaps the other students attacked me with their charcoal crayons. Maybe the teacher hated my work so much that I was berated to the point of needing to soak up the tension.

I pictured Mannix on our sofa when Wade came home. I would try several coded words to let my husband know that a threesome was on my mind.

But this wasn’t our style. We didn’t invite costars to our bed. In fact, like most long-term couples we went through phases of being either solely devoted or acting more like two confident individuals. In recent months, we’d behaved like old souls who knew we couldn’t live without each other. We’d hold each other before we fell into slumber and awake needing to possess each other again. But it might have been fun to share that experience with Mannix.

I pulled up in front of the pub, still reeling from my own errant imagination. I took one deep breath to jolt myself back to reality. It didn’t really work. My sense of guilt magnified while I pictured that bathtub again and Mannix’s soft lips cruising toward my own.

“Adam, are you okay?”

My gaze darted to the person who was knocking on the windscreen. It was Mannix, curious to why I was taking so long to get out of my car.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Pre Release Review: Risky Behavior (Bad Behavior #1) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Rookie detective Darren Corliss is excited to finally start his career as a detective. Stepson of the former police commissioner, Darren spent seven years as a beat cop before sitting for his detective exam. Though still young, he wanted to come on board with experience. Unfortunately, he’s been enlisted by IA to keep an eye on his new partner, an experienced, older man—a hard-ass detective who’d sooner break the rules than abide by them. And yet, Detective Andreas Ruffner has never been caught at anything other than bucking the system.

And Darren soon finds out why as Andreas proves to be evasive and stubborn in his refusal to share with Darren. But Darren isn’t what Ruffner thinks, and he soon shows he’s tougher than Andreas thought—and then proves he’s so much more than just a good cop partner. Darren and Andreas are attracted to one another, a fact that’s even more certain once they begin to establish some grounds for trust. That trust is shaken along the way, but not enough to completely upend the attraction, and definitely not enough to stifle the lust that burns between them.

When things start to really heat up on the case they’re working and Andreas is framed and put on suspension, Darren’s true nature comes out. He can also be sneaky and a bit of an ass, but he’s trustworthy and loyal, and despite what he lets others think, he doesn’t give up on Andreas—no matter what.

This is a wonderfully complex, exciting, and emotional roller coaster ride. These gifted authors prove how versatile they can be as they work together to bring us an extremely interesting story, complete with political intrigue, betrayal, dirty cops, danger, and major sexy times. I highly recommend this book to lovers of MM romance, especially those who enjoy enemies to lovers, age gap, law enforcement, and just plain old excitement. Kudos to the authors!

Cover by: G.D. Leigh.   It’s as gritty, and exciting as the story.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

other links to follow

Book Details:

ebook, 309 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleRisky Behavior
ISBN 1626495645 (ISBN13: 9781626495647)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bad Behavior #1

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: Just Add Argyle (Fabric Hearts #3) by K.C. Burn

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This installment of the series started out slow as the author built the background of Tate Buchanan, a guy who’s always been called stupid—by friends, bosses, coworkers—and by his mother. He’s dirt poor, a high school dropout, and always getting into fights. Usually the fights are to defend some other guy, and frequently it’s to stop a gay bashing, but he always ends up in trouble. He’s also been known to mouth-off to his bosses or to others when he loses his temper so it’s no wonder he’s well-known by cops.

We first met Jaime Escobar in Plaid Versus Paisley when Caleb was trying to hookup Dallas with his cousin Jaime. Known as a player, Jaime keeps a low profile because unlike what his family believes, he’s not interested in any hookups—he wants a man to love him for who he is and to plan for a future together. In other words, he’s looking for a certain spark and for someone who wants commitment.

An EMT, when he’s called out with his partner to treat an abuser and the guy who saved another young man from being raped, Jaime meets Tate—the guy who stopped the attack. And though it seems the two would have nothing in common, Jaime feels that spark he’s been searching for.

This story is not one of insta-love. We get to know Tate and his life circumstances—a verbally abusive alcohol- and drug-addicted mother who would like to pimp him out for money to feed her habit and a learning disability in which he confuses numbers so spectacularly he dropped out of high school and accepted his label as stupid.

Jaime, on the other hand, can’t seem to forget Tate and goes to great lengths to find out who he is and to meet him again. He’s Tate’s first date when he gets the man to finally agree to see him, and from that point on, we get to see a new world unfurl for Tate—a world he richly deserves. But again—it’s not speedy. It takes quite a while for the changes to occur and for both men to come to terms with the feelings they have for one another.

There’s more action, disappointment, surprises, and romance in store for the two and it made the story so much better than I initially thought it was going to be. I’m hooked on these two guys, but especially Tate. What a hard-to-get-to-know but a man-I-want-to-adopt sweetheart he turned out to be!

I definitely recommend this story to those who love MM contemporary romance, age-gap, disabilities, and, of course, with Raven in this story as Tate’s new friend, there’s kilts! Lots of sexy guys in kilts! Highly recommend.

~~~

The cover art by LC Chase depicts a single male wearing an argyle vest and jeans set against a yellow plaid background—the perfect representation for the story as Tate favors argyle, considering it his good luck charm, and Raven convinces him to wear that plaid to model a kilt for a Tartan Candy calendar. 

Sales Links

 Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Expected publication: April 21st 2017 by Dreamspinner Press (first published April 17th 2017)
ISBN139781635335682
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Fabric Hearts:

A Stella Review: Forged in Trust (Bay Area Professionals #4) by Mickie B. Ashling

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RATING 2 out of 5 stars

Dr. Ethan Marshall is the young medical student on call the night Tessa Duran murders her husband for abusing her twelve-year-old-son, Rino. Ethan stays in the cubicle while the rape kit is performed and is surprised when the boy resorts to prayers instead of tears.

Despite compelling evidence, Tessa is sent to jail for life. To avoid placing Rino in foster care, their parish priest agrees to raise him. Ethan is touched by Rino’s plight and visits whenever possible, but the connection is broken when the priest and young boy leave the area months later.

Raised by the Dominicans in California, Rino considers joining the order until a romance blossoms with a fellow student. After much soul-searching, he turns his back on everything familiar, and chooses his orientation over his perceived vocation. Upon graduating dental hygiene school, Rino takes a job at the office of Scott Gregory and Robin Kennedy.

Seventeen years have passed since that horrible night in the emergency room. Forty-three-year-old Ethan is now a Dominant in search of a full-time submissive. Twenty-nine-year-old Rino is adrift, longing for someone or something to help him find the serenity he’s lost along the way. As they rekindle their friendship, they realize they might be perfect for each other.

Forged in Trust by Mickie B Ashling was a huge disappointment, although it could have been a great success because it has all the things I need in my books: damaged character, age gap, BDSM, characters with different backgrounds, wealthy MC.

This novel is part of the Bay Area Professionals series but it works perfectly as a standalone, especially because the secondary characters (MCs in the previous books) take a lot of space, so you could have not read their own story and still easily understand them (I will talk more about this in a bit). Moreover halfway through the book I realized I had actually read the first book, Impacted, when I began to be obsessed with the mm world. And I remember I quite loved it. Probably my tastes changed in time and that’s why I surely will read it in the next future.

Back to Forged in Trust, one thing I liked was there was an initial part where I met Rino when he was a baby, the author showed me where he came from, what he went through and who he became. I understood the baggage he has on his shoulders.

And then a row of details I hated began.

First of all I didn’t like the writing, I can’t even explain why, it just wasn’t for me, it made my reading hard and discontinuous. I often had to reread the same sentences, maybe it was just that I wasn’t into the story at all, I don’t know.

Then religion plays an important role  and I don’t want to go into details, but I deeply despised a couple of things the author decided to speak of, and I’m saying this as a non churchgoer. They still disturbed me.

An important role is played by Robin and Scott from book #1. While I’m happy when I get to meet again the MCs I loved in the previous books of a series, here in Forged in Trust I met them too much. They were not part of the story as second characters, they had their own chapters (see the plural), long scenes I was no interested in reading, they already had their own space in another book, why I need to find their sex scenes here? Probably they were there to make up for the BDSM tag.

At the end everyone has important roles here, except for Rino and Ethan. And that made Forged in Trust barely a two stars read to me.

The cover art by Catt Ford is well done and lovely. I like it a lot.

Sales Links

BOOK DETAILS

ebook, First, 200 pages

Published September 4th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press

ISBN 1634764706 (ISBN13: 9781634764704)

Edition Language English

Bay Area Professionals series

Impacted #1

Bonds of Love #2

Fractured #3

Forged in Trust #4

Release Day Blitz: Shaper by Christine Danse (giveaway)

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Title:  Shaper

Series: The Mi’hani Wards, Book 1

Author: Christine Danse

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 13

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 14100

Genre:

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Synopsis

Nameless and without an identity, she wakes on the streets of Shapertown, an abandoned city that defies the laws of physics. She’s fleeing a threat she can’t remember. One woman holds the key to unlocking her memories and the dangerous truth: She is the threat.

Excerpt

Shaper
Christine Danse © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I didn’t dream.

I existed in a black space where for a time I almost had a family and friends, school, the everyday pleasures of domestic life. I drifted close to the shores of memory but didn’t make landfall.

The sound of voices pulled me out again, a man and a woman. They drew me out to sea and up into the sky, into my skin.

I came to on my side under the warmth of covers. Home, in my bed.

But no, not my bed. Not my room. No room I recognized.

Instinct told me to kick to my feet and bolt, but like a small animal, I felt safe under cover.

I scanned the contents of the small room. White dresser, table against the side with two chairs, one door. No more than that.

I made another pass with my eyes just to be sure, but there was only the one door, so only one way out. The voices came from just on the other side of it, so I wouldn’t be slipping out unseen. I would have to wait this out. I had no choice. It had nothing to do with the fact that the pillow was soft under my head, the blankets a bank of clouds atop me. A comfort like home, which I hadn’t known for…

For a long time. The feeling didn’t quite come with a memory, but a strong sense of hard surfaces and shivering sleep.

“I realize,” the woman was saying. She spoke in a hushed tone, but I could just get her words.

The man responded in a low rumble I couldn’t make out.

“I know that,” she said. “But you must understand the position this puts me in.”

Something about her voice made me uneasy. Maybe her tone. There was an edge to it, a wariness and also a weariness.

“I’m retired,” she said at last, flatly.

Nothing after that. They might have moved off, leaving me, forgetting me. But I didn’t move, just lay with the blanket pulled up to my eyes and held still, waiting for something, because something always came.

The rattle of the doorknob warned me just before the door opened. The man entered first. Tall, with dark brooding eyes and a presence like a storm cloud compacted into a man’s shape. But it was the woman at his elbow who scared me. Thin, with straight brown hair and luminescent blue eyes. Beautiful but tired, mouth in a line like it had never known a smile.

I sat up and clutched the blanket, never mind that I was clothed. I pushed back my curls.

“You’re awake,” the man said. He drew out a chair and sat. The woman stood leaning back against the doorframe with her arms crossed, seemingly impassive, but our awareness of each other pulled like a taut string.

“I’m Nero,” the man said. “And this is Natalia.”

After that came a pause. They seemed to be waiting for something. I looked between them, fingers curled around the top edge of the blanket. My gaze caught the woman’s and snagged.

He prompted: “Can you tell us your name?”

I opened my mouth and— “No.” I felt an instant pulse in the air, like a throb of hostility from them, and added, “I don’t know.”

The man’s eyes flickered. The woman shifted from one leg to the other and propped the foot against the wall.

“I don’t know,” I said again. “I don’t know my name.” The edge of panic crept into my voice.

They exchanged a glance.

The man asked me more questions. It was a terror and a relief not to have the answers. They could get nothing out of me. I could betray no one.

He seemed to get the same idea. He stood and exchanged a conversation with the woman that consisted of a look, a subtle glance in my direction, a scowl, and a tight nod. Then the man told me that Natalia would make me comfortable.

“I’m comfortable here,” I said. At that moment, I would have rather been huddled in the corner of that crumbling building like a dog behind the dresser.

The woman, Natalia, dredged up a smile that didn’t quite make it to her eyes but also wasn’t unkind, and held a hand up, gently beckoning. I couldn’t decline.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Christine lives with her writing partner in the wilds of urban Oregon, where they raise weeds, worms, and eyebrows.

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A VVivacious Review: You Had Me at Hero by Michael P. Thomas

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Rating: 4 Stars out of 5
 
Mark Potts fell from a balcony while drunk that resulted in him being paralysed from the waist down, but he never gave up. Now twelve years later he works as a 911 operator, and is raising two wonderful kids with the love of his life, Starr Bradford who is a police officer.
 
When a string of words that should have never left Mark’s mouth creates a misunderstanding between Mark and Starr, it leaves Mark off kilter and wishing for a do-over. But when a 911 call results in Starr’s day taking a turn for the worse, will these two get that chance at repairing this rift in their relationship?
 
I liked the story quite a bit even though I’m uncertain how the author pulled it off. There are a million things in this story which could have separately taken entire books to resolve but the author manages to prioritise on what issues to get in the limelight to make this story into a success.
 
This is a gay couple who come from two different ethnicities with one of them being physically-challenged, who have an age gap of seventeen years and are raising two young children to be responsible adults and both of them work highly stressful jobs. I mean the challenges these two faced in their relationship alone could have provided fodder for a series of books and at the beginning of the book I really wondered if the author had maybe picked up one too many differences to go with our main couple but by the end of the book I think it worked. It sure made for an interesting read.
 
This is an established couple romance and that trope is a particular favourite of mine and this one didn’t disappoint. Also this trope was perfect for this story because it gave us the understanding that a lot of the issues Mark and Starr faced had probably been resolved in their six plus years of being together.
 
We get glimpses into the lives of Mark and Starr and how life is like for them and how they deal with it. Also I loved to see the issues that bothered them as parents and how they worked them out. Personally I really loved Mark and Starr as a couple and even the little rift at the end that creates the misunderstanding or difference of opinions seemed in character and I liked how they dealt with it given the circumstances.
 
All in all this book makes for a nice read which leaves you with a smile on your face, even if it does leave you wondering how these two managed to work around so many cons in their relationship.
 
Cover Art by Written Ink Designs. I liked the cover.
Sales Links
Book Details:
ebook, 85 pages
Published February 18th 2017 by JMS Books
ISBN139781634863117
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Day Blitz College Discipline by Caitlin Ricci

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Title:  College Discipline

Author: Caitlin Ricci

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 20

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 20200

Genre: Erotica, Erotica, BDSM, age gap, college, businessmen, law enforcement, over 40

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Synopsis

Four stories of sex, romance, and college boys learning to kneel.

Hitachi is a police officer reduced to being a glorified babysitter for a rich man’s son. He resents his assignment, but Gabriel isn’t the brat Hitachi believes he is. He’s a man who likes pain, and who wants Hitachi to let loose with him too.

Leo fantasizes about having sex with a complete stranger, but when he gets his chance it isn’t nearly as wonderful as he imagined it to be. His dad’s boss tries to teach him a lesson about making stupid choices, but his education in submission doesn’t end there.

Jensen is horrible at math, and now he’s in a calculus class that he’s barely getting through. His parents get him a tutor, but this tutor is interested in teaching Jensen about far more than just math.

Timothy comes back home, to a tiny town he can’t stand, when his mother’s illness gets worse. He’s made a string of bad decisions, and his mother’s friend is determined to turn his life around before Timothy gets lost entirely.

Excerpt

College Discipline
Caitlin Ricci © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Jensen was ten minutes late for his initial tutoring session. It wasn’t the best way to make a great first impression, but he’d had a hard time getting up when his alarm sounded and then missed his bus. Who actually got up before ten on a Saturday morning anyway? Definitely not him.

But he made it to Sam’s door anyway. His new college tutor, the one his parents had insisted Jensen get because he had such a good reputation, lived in a nice house on the outskirts of Denver. There was a new SUV in the driveway that still had the temporary plates on it. Something like that, with 4-wheel drive, was definitely fun to go off-roading in, and if he’d had a vehicle like that, Jensen would never have to sit on the bus again or deal with the driver being late or get hit on by drunk guys in the middle of the night while riding it either. He was still practically drooling over the SUV when a man opened the front door.

“I assume you’re Jensen? I’m Sam.”

He gave Sam his attention and quickly nodded. “Sorry I’m late. The buses and stuff.”

Sam shrugged. “You’re here now at least. Come on in. Let’s get started.” Jensen kicked off his shoes as soon as he was inside and was glad to put his heavy backpack down for a while. “When your parents hired me, they said you were having trouble with calculus, right? Anything else I should know about?”

Jensen stripped off his sweatshirt. The house was too warm, and Jensen was already dying in the heat. His T-shirt came up with his sweatshirt, like it always did, and he quickly pulled it back down.

“Uh… Math in general, I guess. I have a hard time focusing since my mind goes all over the place and I get bored easily.” He dropped his sweatshirt on the back of the couch and grabbed up his backpack again. “So where do you want me?”

Sam nodded toward the kitchen, where Jensen saw two glasses of water and some popcorn already spread out for them. His cheeks flamed. “You were waiting a long time for me, huh?”

“A little bit,” Sam confirmed for him as he led the way into the kitchen. “We can get started now, though, and next time you’ll be here when you’re supposed to be. If the busses are an issue, I can come get you. Or we can do the sessions at your place.”

Sam’s house was so neat and tidy compared to his apartment. Jensen definitely didn’t want him there. He had enough to be embarrassed about with how bad his grades were and how stupid he felt that he didn’t want to add how much of a slob he was to the list.

He sat across from Sam and sipped his water. “How long have you been a tutor?”

“Five years. Since I graduated college with my bachelor’s degree in education. How long have you been bad at math?” Sam smiled at him, and Jensen started to relax.

“Pretty much forever. I just don’t get it.”

Sam chuckled, and Jensen started pulling out his books. He didn’t want to delay any longer in case Sam started to get the idea he just didn’t care if he passed math this semester or not. He did care, but not because he wanted to be good in math or anything like that. He mostly just wanted his parents to get off his back about how he clearly wasn’t applying himself.

“What part are you having trouble with?”

Jensen waved vaguely to the entire textbook. “All of it. I can’t even do long division. I shouldn’t be in this class, but I got lucky on a few questions on the placement test, so now I’m there and I just want to pass.”

Sam put the book down on a nearby chair. “We’ll get to that later then, since it sounds like you need some of the basics reworked first, and I don’t want to overload you on your first day here with me. When you’re having trouble concentrating, what’s normally going on?”

Jensen had a hard time concentrating whenever his teacher was nearby. He pressed his lips together and tried to think of a better answer than that, but he didn’t have one, whenever he was struggling, it was normally because Professor Anderson was there with his tight khakis on. He’d be standing close to Jensen’s desk since he sat right in the front, and all Jensen could think about was leaning over and offering his professor a blow job.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader, and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. She comes from a military family, and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful husband and their two dogs. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

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Blog Tour: Adrift by Isabelle Adler (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Adrift

Series: Staying Afloat, Book 1

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 30

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66000

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, NineStar Press, sci-fi, futuristic, aliens, military, smugglers, pirates, demisexual, pilots, action/adventure, space battle, age-gap, slow-burn

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Synopsis

Some jobs are just too good to be true.

Captain Matt Spears learns this the hard way after a mysterious employer hires his ship to hunt down an ancient alien artifact but insists on providing his own pilot. Ryce Faine is handsome and smart, but Matt has rarely met anyone more obnoxious. With tensions running high, it isn’t until they are attacked by the hostile Alraki that Matt grudgingly begins to respect Ryce’s superior skills, respect that transforms into a tentative attraction.

Little did he know that their biggest challenge would be reaching their destination, an abandoned alien base located on a distant moon amid a dense asteroid field. But when Matt learns that Ryce isn’t completely who he says he is and the artifact is more than he bargained for, he is faced with a difficult choice. One that might change the balance of forces in the known galaxy.

Matt doesn’t take well to moral dilemmas; he prefers the easy way out. But that might not be possible anymore, when his past comes back to haunt him at the worst possible moment. When faced with a notorious pirate carrying a personal grudge, the fragile connection Matt has formed with Ryce might be the only thing that he can count on to save them both.

Excerpt

Adrift
Isabelle Adler © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

“No way,” Matt said. “No way in hell.”

The low hum of music and the loud voices threatened to swallow his response. The Blue Giant was like any other canteen on any other small-time maintenance space station, offering cheap drinks and free talk, catering to drifters, smugglers, freelance pilots, and the dregs of every known society. The strong smell of synthetic spirits enveloped the crowded room in an almost tangible cloud. It really wasn’t the best location for conducting business, even over interstellar communications channels, but one could stand being cooped up in a spaceship for only so long.

Matt ignored the noise best he could as he squinted at the commlink screen. This wasn’t a regular type of job, but then again, freelancers didn’t exactly have regular jobs. As it was, this one promised to be very well paying. His potential client had introduced himself as Mr. Ari, though Matt suspected it wasn’t his real name. They usually weren’t. At the moment, he was more concerned with Mr. Ari’s terms and conditions than with his identity, fake or otherwise.

“This is nonnegotiable,” Ari said firmly. There was no image on-screen, just his computer-altered voice in the earpiece. “I require that my own pilot navigate your ship to destination. He’s the only one who will know the exact route and the details of the mission. I’m merely hiring your ship to transport my man and provide him with assistance.”

“It’s my ship and I’m the only one flying her,” Matt said indignantly. “No way I’ll just let some stranger take over. Now, a passenger, that’s another matter. I’ve nothing against passengers, so long as they’re nice and quiet.” And good-looking, but he wasn’t about to say that to the client’s face, or to the lack thereof, as the case was. But another pilot? This was ridiculous. If the only thing this guy needed was a ship, there were much simpler alternatives than hiring Matt’s services.

“As I’ve said before, Captain, this job requires subtlety and a very specific set of skills,” Ari said. Even with the distortion, he somehow managed to make “Captain” sound like an insult. “Which, with all due respect, I doubt you possess. This is a salvage mission, and the location must remain a secret until you get there. To put it simply, you sit back, let my man do the job, get back safely, and collect the cash—as long as you keep your mouth firmly shut about any of this. I’ve been told that your ship is fast and well equipped, and that you are discreet. I’d hate to think that I’ve been misinformed.”

Matt took a long sip of his beer to stall for time. The beer had a distinct sour artificial aftertaste, but at least it was cold. “What kind of salvage?”

“An abandoned alien site. I’m afraid I can’t divulge further information at this point, other than it would require a jump to another sector.”

“Huh,” Matt grunted. The guy was definitely too well-spoken to be a scavenger; on the other hand, off-world archaeological salvage (if that was indeed Ari’s intent) was usually done for strictly academic purposes and required government permits. Any other form of salvage, whether human or alien, was considered theft and was absolutely illegal. That and some other guy had to fly his ship? There was no way in hell he’d agree to that. This Mr. Ari could either fuck off or pay him way more than he was offering. “Well, you make it sound very tempting and all, but still. A pilot has his pride, you know. No one takes my seat, twenty thousand Fed-creds or no.”

“Name your price,” Ari said tersely.

“One hundred thousand,” Matt said, testing the waters.

“Done,” Ari said with a finality that left Matt a little dizzy. He was sure Ari would balk at the asking price. He wondered belatedly whether he could have gotten away with being even bolder. “My pilot will meet you at Dock G5 in two hours. You’ll get twenty percent of your fee now, and the rest when the job is done.”

“Agreed,” Matt said. How did this guy know exactly where his ship was? Shit, he could hardly back down on the offer now. “I’ll send you the account number.”

“Now, Mr. Spears, I must stress again how delicate this assignment is.”

“Of course,” Matt said. Really, this was tedious. Every client thought they were the only one in the galaxy who had dirty secrets. He wouldn’t have been in this line of work for as long as he had if he couldn’t keep his mouth shut and his eyes averted.

“You might encounter…competition,” Ari said. “While this is unlikely to happen, there is a chance that other parties might try to intercept you.”

“What do you mean, ‘intercept’?” Matt asked suspiciously. “Just to make it clear—I’m a runner, not a mercenary. If it’s something dangerous—”

“The reason I’m not willing to be more specific is precisely because I don’t want any information to leak out and pose a threat to your mission,” Ari said, sounding a bit too vague for Matt’s comfort. “However, you should be on alert, and report any incidents to my agent.”

Now he wanted him to report to the guy? Matt was utterly and completely done with reporting to anybody for the rest of his life. He was more than capable of handling any situation, and he wasn’t about to play the chain-of-command game with his client’s representative. However, he kept it prudently to himself. You didn’t sass somebody who was willing to shell out all those credits.

“Got it,” he said dryly. “I’ll be on alert. Anything else?”

“You may discuss further details with my man, and he’ll be handling all future communications. Good luck, Captain.”

“My pleasure,” Matt said. He disconnected the call and sagged back into his chair, pushing away the beer. He had a very, very bad feeling.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

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Tour Schedule

1/30 Love Bytes

1/30 Stories That Make You Smile

1/31 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

2/1 Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

2/1 Prism Book Alliance

2/2 Happily Ever Chapter

2/2 Reviews by Tammy and Kim

2/3 We Three Queens

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