A Stella Review: Beyond the Surface by Colette Davison

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RATING 4 out of 5 stars

Raen has always longed to see the world beyond the surface, but nothing could compel him to break the most ancient law of the merfolk. Could it?

Raen should have found his mate during his first hunt, instead he almost died. Two years later, he’s struggling with internal fear, and his father’s disapproval.

Until he encounters a land-dweller.A man he feels a deep and instant connection to.

A man who will drown if Raen doesn’t save him.But in order to do so, Raen must break two of the merfolk’s rules:
Don’t interact with land-dwellers.
Don’t go beyond the surface.

If Raen saves the man, he stands to lose everything he’s ever known. But if he lets him drown, he’ll lose something infinitely more precious to his heart and soul.

Beyond the Surface is a paranormal MM romance, with fated mates who almost never met, a sweet insta-love relationship, and an age-gap.

I picked this new release from Colette Davison cause I’m a huge fan of the Little Mermaid since I was a baby, I still preserve the videotape of the Disney edition. Plus I’m a little obsessed with mermen stories in the mm genre. Beyond the Surface was a lovely surprise, I enjoyed it a lot.

I particularly appreciated the main characters, both Raen and Steven seemed to me very real; sure Raen is not human, but in his merfolk world he has gone through some hard time, like some of us he feels different, his father is angry with Raen and his choices, until he sadly becomes abusive. Steven instead decides to take some time for himself on an uninhabited island, after having fight for his life and finally having defeated a leukemia, he’s with no house and no job, he needs to understand what to do next.

The two men are destined to be together and so from the moment they meet, the attraction is strong. The novel is sweet and sexy, there are some very hot scenes, others are a little more dark, still the story has a light tone.

Beyond the Surface was a success to me for different reasons, first of all I loved the author style, the book is so well written my reading flew easily, the plot is interesting especially cause it carries some  of my favorite tropes: age gap, mermen, insta lust/love, damaged (just a little in this case) characters. I will surely look out for more releases from Colette Davison, meanwhile you can give this one a chance, you’ won’t be disappointed.

I’ll be honest, I don’t like the style of the cover art by Bramasta Aji.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Amazon Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

BOOK DETAILS

Kindle Edition, 237 pages

Published September 30th 2019

ASIN B07XY3K6DM

Edition Language English

An Alisa Review: Daddy Bear : The Complete Series by B.J. Smyth

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Rating:  3 stars out of 5

This book is the five DADDY BEAR stories compiled into one book.

Immaturity, Jealousy, Envy, Insecurity can Carter and Frank survive them all?

When Carter and Frank meet, it is an attraction that pulls them together in a heated desire for one another.

All Carter has ever wanted is the Daddy he craves, someone to love and care for him.

But will his immaturity be the downfall of this relationship or can Frank deal with his tears and tantrums?

Frank’s life is complicated, when he meets Carter, he is still confused by his feelings for his Ex-Partner and dealing with his mum’s deteriorating health.

Carter’s immaturity has always been difficult to handle. However, following an incident at Carter’s flat, Frank made the rash decision to ask him to move into his house, into his life, now Carter is around full-time.

But did he think about how that decision would change things between them?

As life’s complications enter their world, can they learn to share life together?

Will this Daddy & Boy make it from that first heated attraction to a long-term relationship?

It’s been a few days and I’m still not quite sure how I feel about these stories, it was okay but I think too many little things hurt my enjoyment.  I couldn’t help but think of Carter like a puppy, looking for attention and being so happy when he got it that he kept coming back for more and when he was unhappy or unsure he would run away or react negatively.  Now, Frank, I thought he was okay until we saw the story through his eyes and then I just had the feeling that he was playing Carter at time because he would act very sincere and 100% into their relationship but be doubting the whole time.

It seems that in the end they were able to figure it out but it was a quick turn around and can easily see them going back into the same routine they had.  I know they cared about each other I just don’t think it was the same way and I never felt that Frank was genuine while Carter was an open book from the beginning.

I like the cover art works well for the story with a partial visual of Frank.

Sales Link: Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 241 pages

Published: August 16, 2019

Edition Language: English

Series: Daddy Bear

Want a Touch of a Fairy Tale Romance? Check Out the Release Blitz and Excerpt for Beyond the Surface by Colette Davison

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Beyond the Surface

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Illustrator: Bramasta Aji; typography: Colette Davison

Release Date: September 30, 2019

Genre/s: Paranormal romance

Trope/s: Fated mates, insta-love, age-gap, fairy tale retelling

Themes: Finding yourself; self-acceptance

Heat Rating: 3 – 4 flames

Add on Goodreads 

 

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Amazon Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

Raen has always longed to see the world beyond the surface, but nothing could compel him to break the most ancient law of the merfolk. Could it?

Blurb 

Raen should have found his mate during his first hunt, instead he almost died. Two years later, he’s struggling with internal fear, and his father’s disapproval.

Until he encounters a land-dweller.

A man he feels a deep and instant connection to.

A man who will drown if Raen doesn’t save him.

But in order to do so, Raen must break two of the merfolk’s rules:

Don’t interact with land-dwellers.

Don’t go beyond the surface.

If Raen saves the man, he stands to lose everything he’s ever known. But if he lets him drown, he’ll lose something infinitely more precious to his heart and soul.

Beyond the Surface is a paranormal MM romance, with fated mates who almost never met, a sweet insta-love relationship, and an age-gap.

 

 

Excerpt 

Steven’s head hurt, which stopped him from opening his eyes for several seconds after he came around. He could feel the damp firmness of sand beneath him. Water lapped at his feet, and his drenched clothes clung to him, making him feel heavy. He could taste salt water and bile in his mouth, and his throat and lungs burned. Why was he lying on the beach? He was sure he’d been on the boat, trying to catch a blasted fish that he could cook for dinner. The churning hunger he had felt was gone, replaced by something strange and unfamiliar yet warm and comforting.

He forced his eyes open and found a dark pair of eyes staring down at him from a delicate, pale face. The bewitching eyes widened.

“Who…?” Steven’s voice came out as a strained croak. “Am I…?” He’d meant to say dreaming, but he was finding it difficult to focus on speech, with such a stunning, ethereal creature beside him. It seemed to him that someone had captured the moon and personified it in a beautiful young man with wild raven hair.

He felt cool fingers brush against his shoulder, a touch that felt both alien and familiar. His body relaxed in response, and his eyes drifted shut, even though he wanted to keep them open. He had so many questions, but he was too tired to utter them. The soothing back and forth motion of the cool fingers lulled him to sleep, and he was completely powerless to resist. 

He wasn’t sure whether it was seconds, minutes, or hours before he rose to wakefulness once more.

He licked his salty lips and tried to speak. “Who are…?” He coughed and opened his eyes once more.

No one was there. He pushed himself up on shaking arms. A movement out at sea grabbed his attention. His breath caught in his throat as he saw the broad fins of a pale, dappled tail vanish beneath the surface. It was the first glimpse of dolphins he’d seen, and his head was too sore for him to really appreciate the spectacle. Besides, he had other things to worry about, such as where the young man he’d seen had gone.

 

About the Author 

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

 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub

Goodreads

Instagram

Mailing List

 

 

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

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

A Lucy Review: Dine With Me by Layla Reyne

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.

But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.

Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cup of joe.

As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.

I have to get it out there right away that the foodie parts of this book were outstanding to read.  As an aficionado of Food Network, Cooking Channel, Check Please, and so on, I love to hear about amazing food.  The fact that I have absolutely no palate makes the reading and watching all the more for me.  We definitely get that here but that isn’t the whole of the story.

This was a rough read for me because I’ve lived through the cancer hell with my husband (who is nearly five years cancer-free, thankfully).  I can’t imagine what I would do if he had decided he would have no treatment, which is what Miller does.  His year has been horrific.  He and his best friend wife, Sloan,  are divorcing – a good thing but a painful change nonetheless; his first solo restaurant has just closed due to lack of customers and he has been diagnosed with throat cancer, the treatment of which has only a 50% chance of success and could very well rob him of his sense of taste.  Since Miller lives and breathes food art, this is unacceptable for him. “He swept his hand over their plate, then gestured at the table.  “I can’t imagine a life where I can’t taste any of it, which is a very real possibility if I get the treatment.”   He wants to go out as is and he also doesn’t want his friends or family to have to go through that with him with no guarantee of a positive outcome.  It is heartbreaking.

The book begins with the ad  – “Dine with me – the culinary experience of a lifetime.”  For the bankroll of the tour, someone will get to go along with Miller (who remains unnamed) for a two week, eight meal foodie heaven of Miller’s favorite places, the ones he wants to say goodbye too. Of course Clancy, who is gifted this trip by his parents as a gift before beginning practice with his dad as a plastic surgeon, doesn’t know why Miller is doing this, just that he gets to do it. 

Clancy has his own issues – he wants to work oncology and not plastic surgery but he loves his dad and doesn’t want to disappoint him.  “He didn’t want to disappoint his father; he looked forward to working with him too.  Who wouldn’t want to work with their best friend? Even if the work wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do, Clancy was good at it.”

The tour destinations are not disclosed, although Sloane knows and Clancy’s mother knows (as she is a travel expert, she books the hotels and travel to the destinations) but Miller won’t tell Clancy until they arrive at each place. Clancy is unaware of the health issues of Miller, but of course he studied oncology, so he does eventually figure it out.

I did think it was unfair of him to make Sloan promise not to tell anyone, including their other best friend, Greg.  Greg and Sloan are having a double wedding in the summer, a wedding that Miller won’t be alive for without treatment.  The moment when Greg asks Miller to be his best person and Miller says no, I wanted to just hug Greg.  Miller won’t tell him why and what kind of best friend does that?  He’s so worried about people knowing, but as Sloan says, “If you don’t get treatment, you’re going to be dead in six months.  Everyone’s going to know anyway.”

The whole Sloan aspect shows what a loyal, caring person Miller is and it makes it even harder to watch as he gets sicker.  It adds such an air of sorrow to the story as Miller faces his death, gracefully but so stubborn you want to shake him.  The more he and Clancy fall for each other, the harder it gets. “You’ll be an amazing oncologist.  You made the end of my life more beautiful than I could ever have imagined.  Thank you.”  Yep, cue the crying.

Both men have soul-searching to do, though only one has a time bomb ticking in his body.  The connection between Clancy and Miller was absolutely believable and I loved that Dr. Clancy Rhodes usually wore t-shirts and hoodies and was a crabby when hungover.  Adorable.  And that Miller, the award-winning, Michelin rated chef, loves simple, comfort food most of all.

I would recommend this for the characters, the writing and the food!

Cover art, showing an elegant table, fits perfectly.

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 16th 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 148805391X (ISBN13: 9781488053917)
Edition Language English

Cover Reveal for Beyond the Surface by Colette Davison (excerpt)

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Beyond the Surface

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Illustrator: Bramasta Aji; typography: Colette Davison

Release Date: September 30, 2019

Genre/s: Paranormal romance

Trope/s: Fated mates, insta-love, age-gap, fairy tale retelling

Themes: Finding yourself; self-acceptance

Heat Rating: 3 – 4 flames

Universal Amazon Link  mybook.to/BeyondTheSurface

 

 

Raen has always longed to see the world beyond the surface, but nothing could compel him to break the most ancient law of the merfolk. Could it?

Blurb 

Raen should have found his mate during his first hunt, instead he almost died. Two years later, he’s struggling with internal fear, and his father’s disapproval.

Until he encounters a land-dweller.

A man he feels a deep and instant connection to.

A man who will drown if Raen doesn’t save him.

But in order to do so, Raen must break two of the merfolk’s rules:

Don’t interact with land-dwellers.

Don’t go beyond the surface.

If Raen saves the man, he stands to lose everything he’s ever known. But if he lets him drown, he’ll lose something infinitely more precious to his heart and soul.

Beyond the Surface is a paranormal MM romance, with fated mates who almost never met, a sweet insta-love relationship, and an age-gap.

 

Excerpt 

The moment he wrapped his arms around the land-dweller’s chest and shoulders, he felt complete. For a heartbeat he was too stunned to do anything. Then he remembered that the man was dying. He shot upwards, breaking free of the surface before he could talk himself out of it. In his arms lay the land-dweller with heaving chest, and he made a weird, sucking sound. Then he was still, his head lolling against Raen’s shoulder. His damp hair dangled over Raen’s back. The shorter hair on the man’s chin and jaw tickled Raen’s chest. In this fragile state, he looked heartbreakingly beautiful. But he was alive. Raen knew he was alive.

Knowing he had saved the land-dweller, Raen gaped at the vastness of the darkening sky. It seemed to go on forever, getting darker and darker the further away from him it stretched. The moon was a clear, unwavering globe, shining brightly upon him. Pinpricks of light were scattered across the darkness. Under the moon, the world above seemed to be nothing but dark blues and black, and he longed to know what visual feast would greet him if he were to break the surface when light filled the above. Most of all he wondered why. Why had his people been forbidden from seeing such beauty?

He could have marvelled at the sight forever, but the weight of the land-dweller in his arms spurred him into action. He could feel the unconscious man shivering against him. Though he wasn’t quite sure what to do, he guessed the man needed to be out of the water; he was supposed to be on land, after all. He glanced at the boat, but between the high sides and the man’s size and build, it would be impossible for him to get him inside it on his own. He looked to the dark blob of land on the horizon. Terror tugged at him, but he knew he had to get the man there. He turned onto his back, hugging the man to his chest to keep his face out of the water, and began to swim.

It was harder than he’d expected. He was swimming against the tide, and the strange, thin wrappings the man wore gave the ocean purchase to try to pull them down. The man’s unfamiliar appendages didn’t help either. Instead of a long, lean tail, he had two limbs that Raen could have mistaken for arms, except they didn’t have hands on the end. They dragged through the water, making swimming that much harder. Raen didn’t give up. He had to get the man to land, and that was all that mattered. If he failed to save the man now, whatever punishment he would face when he returned home would be for nothing.

By the time they reached land, Raen was exhausted. With difficulty, he managed to haul the man onto the shore. He found it odd that there was sand here too, but at least it was familiar. Partly, anyway. It looked silvery blue beneath the moonlight and was warm to the touch. There was no one else in sight, though he did see a handful of tiny crabs, scuttling across the sand. Out of the water, everything was hot, and he quickly began to feel… he shook his head, unable to find one word that described the damp closeness that clung to him. There was a slight coolness that whispered against his skin, but it was another thing he couldn’t name.

Raen stared down at the man, marvelling at how handsome he was, even though the moonlight robbed his skin and hair of natural colour, replacing them with a variety of blue-tinged greys. Raen was bemused as to why—or even how—the man had so much hair covering his body; not just his face and chest, but his arms, underarms, and bottom arms. Whatever they were really called.

He pressed his ear to the man’s chest, feeling the tickle of the soft damp hairs, which covered the man’s skin. There it was, the rhythmic, lazy thud-thud of a heartbeat, just the same as the one he felt in his own chest. He smiled at the comforting sound, astounded by how similar and how different they were to one another. Cautiously, he ran his fingertips over the man’s cheek and jaw. The connection he felt to the stranger was all-consuming and overwhelming. He needed to deny what it meant because this man—this land-dweller—couldn’t possibly be his mate.

 

About the Author 

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

 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub

Goodreads

Instagram

Mailing List

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Check Out KC Well’s Chatting about Covers and her new release Kel’s Keeper by KC Wells (guest blog and excerpt)

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Kel's Keeper Tour Banner

Kel’s Keeper

KC Wells

M/M Romance, Daddy/boy, Age gap

Release Date: 09.01.19

Kel's Keeper Cover

Cover by Meredith Russell

Photographer by Ben Fink

Models: Adam Keith and Joe Ryan

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host KC Wells here today talking about her new release Kel’s Keeper and cover art. Welcome, KC!

✒︎

You can’t judge a book by its cover.

We’ve all heard that a thousand times, right?

Yet…

How many of us choose a book for precisely that?

As an author, that’s one very important piece of marketing right there. Because if readers don’t like a cover, they might not be willing to go any further.

So who judges a book by its cover? EVERYBODY.

That’s why I spend a lot of time looking for THE perfect cover.

Take the cover of Kel’s Keeper as a for instance.

I was on a stock photo site, looking for Daddies. And not having a lot of luck. Just then, a dear friend, author Wulf Francu Godgluck, messaged me. I shared the couple of photos I’d found by that point, neither of which made me go OOOH YEAH.

“Try this guy.” Wulf sent me a link to Ben Fink’s page on Instagram, and BAM. I was lost in a sea of gorgeous daddies and bears. I scrolled down, looking for the right one. And suddenly I was stopped by a familiar face.

Adam?

Yup, it was someone I’d met twice in the US, as we shared a mutual friend. And the guy with him was his partner, who I’d also met. Adam Keith and Joe Ryan.

I LOVED that photo. I messaged Ben Fink immediately, and his reply was pretty quick. He wanted to know more about the book. I could understand that. I sent him the blurb, and he asked me to call him. He was actually filming a commercial for McDonalds when we got to chat.

He liked the book idea, and he was happy for me to use the photo, as long as Adam and Joe were okay with it too.

You can guess the rest.

Why did I choose that photo? The way they looked at each other. The emotional connection that was so obvious. Last week, I got to meet up with them in London for a few hours, and they are such a lovely couple.

A few of my books have featured real-life couples on the covers: An Unlocked Heart, Trusting Thomas, and Make Me Soar were all by one man, Terry Cyr. I chose the photo for Step by Step because of the way they looked at each other. And as for the cover of On The Same Page, (Secrets #4) I love photographer Ron Amato’s work. I used one of his photos for the cover of Threepeat, and when I saw this photo, I fell in love with it instantly. It’s a good thing Parker Williams liked it too, right?

I’ve been really fortunate with my publisher. I’ve heard from so many authors who have been sent a draft of their cover and they’ve had little input in its creation. In my case, if I find a photo I like, I send it to the Art department at Dreamspinner, and they have never said, ‘Oh no, that’s awful.’

They’ve also contacted photographers to purchase the rights to photos that I had to have. (Think First. That photo was freaking PERFECT for the book.)

Of course, good photos cost money. I’ve paid anywhere from $50 to $600 for a photo, and believe me, that’s not expensive. For some of your favorite covers out there, we’re talking $1,000+.

But for the right cover? It’s SO worth it.

BLURB
When Kel Taylor’s life changes irrevocably, he finds himself alone in the world. He might have rebelled a little against his parents, but that didn’t mean he was ready to lose them. Unable to cope with his grief and feelings of guilt, he turns to booze, but before he hits rock bottom, someone dives into the murky waters to save him.

Luc Bryant watched Kel grow from the little kid whose football broke a pane in his greenhouse, into the sexy young man who sent heat racing through him. That was when Luc stopped watching and distanced himself, because he didn’t want to be that kind of a man. And that’s how things continued, until he saw to what depths the boy had sunk. Luc will be damned if he’ll let Kel kill himself. What Kel needs is a friend, and Luc’s shoulders are plenty big enough to bear his burdens.

Kel doesn’t need a friend. He needs a pair of strong arms to hold him, a broad chest to curl up against, someone to listen to him, someone who cares for him… and a whole lot more.
What he needs is a Daddy.
He just doesn’t know it yet.

A stand-alone book that contains an age gap relationship between a sexy daddy and a virgin.

Amazon US

Barnes and Noble

Kel's Keeper Teaser Rule 10Kel's Keeper Teaser Rule 9Kel's Keeper Teaser Rule 8promo post #3

EXCERPT

The time for worrying about Kel had long past. Luc had to do something.

After the funeral, he’d kept his promise and checked in on the boy regularly, and at first it had looked like Kel was coming through this. At least, Luc assumed he was. He didn’t get to see Kel all that much, but their brief conversations over the property boundary were proof that Kel was alive and well, if looking a little thin.

Then the conversations dwindled, as did the phone calls. Kel politely refused Luc’s invitations to eat with him. He refused Luc’s offers of assistance. And lately there had been far too many occasions when Kel didn’t answer his phone. No reply to texts. When Luc had ventured across to knock at the door, there had been no answer. Of course, he could have been out, but somehow Luc doubted that. When April gave way to May, Luc’s disquiet increased.

There were signs of life at the house next door, however. Walmart trucks came and went, and more than once, Luc dashed out to catch Kel before he closed the front door, but he was never fast enough.

Almost as though the boy was avoiding him, which if it were true, would be extremely ironic.

The day arrived when Luc wasn’t content to sit back anymore and wait for something to happen. It was time for the last resort—and that meant Christine’s spare key, the one he’d never gotten around to giving back to Kel. Thank God.

Luc grabbed it from the hook in the kitchen where he kept his keys, and went out of the house. Kel’s car was in the driveway, and judging by the state of the ground beneath it, Kel hadn’t moved it for a while. That only added to Luc’s sense of foreboding.

He went around to the front door, not bothering to ring the bell. After weeks of his knocks going unanswered, there seemed little point. Luc inserted the key into the lock, praying there wasn’t a chain attached on the other side. Thankfully, the door opened, and Luc stepped quietly into the silent interior. He peered into the sitting room, then the dining room, but there was no sign of Kel. When he entered the kitchen, the sight was enough to stop him in his tracks.

Dishes were piled high on every countertop. The dishwasher door was open, and Luc peeked inside. It was full of dirty dishes. The sink was full too, and the trash looked like it hadn’t been taken out for weeks.

Luc noted the pizza boxes and take-out cartons. At least he’s eating something. It was only when he took a closer look at one corner of the kitchen that the full extent of the situation hit him.

Bottles. Lots and lots of empty bottles. And most of it was the hard stuff, Luc was dismayed to see. There were empty cans and bottles of hard cider, and bottles of wine too. It appeared as if Kel had drunk his way through the contents of a bar.

Dear God, what state is he in, if he’s drunk all that?

Luc checked the rest of the first floor, but there was still no sign. He paused at the foot of the stairs, his nostrils flaring. The smell of stale alcohol was very noticeable. Luc mounted the stairs, his heart pounding. This is not good. This is way worse than I thought. Already he was kicking himself for not charging in sooner.

When he reached the door to Kel’s room, Luc paused, steeling himself for whatever lay beyond it, and praying fervently that the boy hadn’t choked to death on his own vomit. He pushed open the door and heaved an internal sigh of relief at the sight that awaited him.

Kel was in his bed, only the top of his head visible above the comforter, but he was clearly breathing. The room was in semidarkness, and the reek of alcohol was at its strongest, accompanied by the smell of stale sweat. Luc crossed the floor, put his hand to the lump beneath the covers, and gave Kel a light shake.

Nothing.

Luc gave him a stronger shake, and Kel’s groggy voice shattered the quiet. “Wha?”

“Kel,” Luc said urgently. “It’s Luc.”

“Go ’way.”

Like Luc was going to do that. “No, I’m not going anywhere. Remember?” He slowly drew back the comforter, only to have Kel seize it from him and pull it back over himself. Half-closed brown eyes regarded him with incredulity.

“How’d you get in here?”

“I have a key. You mom gave it to me. Remember, she asked me to check on the house?”

Kel propped himself up on his elbows, and the comforter slid lower, revealing…

Well, I certainly didn’t expect that.

Kel had a tattoo, a pattern of black swirls and spikes that covered his right shoulder, his pec and came halfway down his upper arm. There was also a lot more body hair than Luc had been prepared for. Before Luc could utter another word, Kel set his jaw. “I want it back, then I want you to leave.”

Luc slowly shook his head. “No. You need help.”

Kel’s eyes blazed, and he sat bolt upright. “You. Need. To. Go. Now.”

“And let you keep doing this to yourself? Kel, you’re better than this.”

Kel’s jaw dropped, then he snapped it shut. “You need to go,” he repeated through gritted teeth. “I don’t want you seeing me like this. I’m a pathetic excuse for a human being. Help me? You couldn’t help me. I’m a hopeless case. I’m worse than useless.”

Luc’s stomach turned over. What the fuck had happened? “I have no idea where all this is coming from,” he said, doing his best to keep his voice even. “I know you, Kel. You’re nothing like the person you just described.”

Kel stared up at him, a dazed look in his eyes, his mouth open. “Know me? You don’t know me! Even my parents didn’t know me!” His chest rose and fell rapidly, his breathing harsh and staccato. “If they did, they’d have shunned me for the abomination that I am.”

Abomination? “Kel, I—”

I was not a good son!” Kel yelled, the cords of his neck standing out. “And if they’d seen into my heart, they’d have been horrified. I went against their teachings.” He brought his left hand down hard on his right pec, wincing. “This. This would have given them so much pain, and I still had it done, knowing that.” His eyes glistened. “And there was worse than this. So many things I wanted to tell them, but I couldn’t, because they’d have been so damned disappointed in me. And now it’s too late. They’re never going to know what I’m really like. And I can’t bear that.” Tears spilled over his cheeks, his shoulders shook, and he sobbed.

Luc knew what he was seeing. In an instant, he sat on the bed, drew back the comforter, and pulled Kel into his lap, his arms around him. It was no surprise when the boy threw his arms around Luc’s neck and buried his face in Luc’s chest, his knees up to his chest, harsh sobs racking his body. “It’s okay,” Luc whispered. “Let it out. It’s all right to let it out, Kel.” Hot tears soaked into his shirt.

“I… can’t… stop… it from… hurting…” Kel choked out between sobs.

“It’s supposed to hurt.” Luc held onto him, one arm around his back, the other around his legs, cradling him, aware of the tremors that jolted through Kel’s frame. “This is grief. You’ve held on to your emotions so tightly, but now you have to let go.”

Kel’s sobs increased in volume and frequency, and Luc remained silent, gently rocking him in his arms, a weeping young man dressed only in his briefs, curled up against Luc’s chest and clinging to him. Luc’s arms were full to capacity: Kel might have been shorter than him, but he’d obviously been working out at some point. Little by little the tears subsided, and Kel’s breathing became less erratic. Luc brought his rocking to a halt, his nose buried in Kel’s hair. Finally, Kel moved gingerly, as though embarrassed by his position.

Luc let go, and Kel sat on the bed beside him. He sniffed, then wiped a hand across his eyes. “I’m sorry.”

“You have nothing to apologize for. If you knew how long I’ve been waiting for you to show some emotion over their deaths….” Luc stroked Kel’s hair. “It’s perfectly normal. And nothing to be embarrassed about. Although….” Luc wrinkled his nose.

Kel swallowed. “I guess I smell a bit ripe, huh?”

“Just a little,” Luc lied. “Nothing a good shower wouldn’t put right. If you think you can stay upright for that long. You might be a little shaky on your legs.” He stood, and held out a hand to Kel, who took it and pulled himself to his feet. Luc watched him anxiously. “Well?”

Kel expelled a long shuddering breath. “I can manage a shower.”

Luc nodded in approval. “And while you’re doing that, I’ll go downstairs and make you something to eat.” He cocked his head to one side. “That’s assuming there’s food in your kitchen. Edible food.”

Kel bit his lip. “Yeah, about that…”

Luc rolled his eyes. “Get washed. I’ll go to my place and raid the refrigerator. Take as long as you like.”

For the first time since Luc had entered his room, there was a flash of the old Kel. “Is that Luc-speak for ‘you stink’?”

Luc laughed. “Shower, dirty boy. Then I’ll feed you. And then… we can talk.” He felt a good deal lighter. That had been a cathartic moment, and while Kel still had a way to go, the outlook was hopeful.

What puzzled him were a couple of things Kel had said. At this point Luc wasn’t sure if he was going to leave them for now, or bring them out into the open. Because sooner or later, they had to talk about them.

KC Wells Logo

K.C. Wells started writing in 2012, although the idea of writing a novel had been in her head since she was a child. But after reading that first gay romance in 2009, she was hooked.

She now writes full time, and the line of men in her head, clamouring to tell their story, is getting longer and longer. If the frequent visits by plot bunnies are anything to go by, that’s not about to change anytime soon.

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Need a New Contemporary Romance? Check Out Dine with Me by Layla Reyne!

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Layla Reyne’s DINE WITH ME is a contemporary m/m romance following a dying chef on a last tour of his favorite meals, and the travel companion who must convince him he’s more than his taste buds and that the cost of love is worth living for.

Title: Dine With Me

Release Date (e-book and audio): September 16, 2019

Blurb:

Life never tasted so good.

Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.

But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.

Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cuppa joe.

As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.

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!

Links:

AMZ: https://amzn.to/2CNDzbA

Universal: https://books2read.com/DineWithMe

September  Teaser:

“Any other rules?” he asked.

There was one other, though not a rule so much as dispelling a myth that Miller, as a chef, fucking loathed. “If someone has ever told you to leave a tiny bit of food on your plate as a gesture of respect to the kitchen, don’t listen to them. And don’t do it. It’s a load of horse shit. If you’re full, then fine, don’t force yourself. But if you want to eat it all, by all means, eat it all. Nothing I liked better than seeing empty plates come back to the kitchen.”

“If someone ever told me that, I didn’t listen. It’s fucking idiotic.”

“Good,” Miller said with a sharp, satisfied nod. “I’m glad we have an understanding there.”

“I understand that every bit of food I can get in my belly is going in there.”

Miller had no idea where it was all going to go in that trim body, but he looked forward to seeing Clancy try. “Then we’re all set.” He shrugged into his overcoat and opened the door for Clancy. “Shall we get the belly stuffing underway?”

“Two and a half hours of it.” Clancy patted said belly as he stepped into the hallway. “I can’t wait.”

“Revise that.” Miller pulled the door closed behind them. “Four hours.”

“Four? All the reviews I read said to plan for two and a half.”

“Those people received menus. We won’t. Think you can handle it?”

“I’m game.” The eagerness in Clancy’s eyes was a good sign. Miller’s experience with people who said they “eat it all” was that their no-no list was in fact a mile long. He didn’t sense that was the case with his companion, which boded well for tonight. And the trip as a whole. If it was true.

He gave Clancy a wink. “You’re in for a treat.”

About Layla Reyne:

RITA Finalist Layla Reyne is the author of the Agents Irish and Whiskey, Fog City, and Changing Lanes series. A Carolina Tar Heel who now calls the San Francisco Bay Area home, Layla enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart-pounding romance. She is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. Layla is a 2019 RWA® RITA® Finalist in Contemporary Romance (Mid-Length) and 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

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A MelanieM Prerelease Review: Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

From the moment SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls meets Ivo Rogers, he knew the tattoo artist was going to bring chaos to his neat orderly life. A hellion down to the bone, Ivo is someone Ruan not only doesn’t understand but isn’t even sure he needs to. Everything about Ivo is vibrant, brash, cocky and arrogant and Ruan wants no part of him.

Or at least that’s the lie he tells himself when he damps down his desire for the social wild child life tosses into his path.

For Ivo Rogers, his life revolves around two things; his family and 415 Ink, the tattoo shop he co-owns with his four brothers. His family might be stitched together by their battle scars from growing up in foster care but their brotherhood was tight—and strong enough to hold Ivo together during the times when he fell apart.

Now Ivo faces a new challenge when he falls for a cop with an old-school mentality on what a man looks and acts like. Ruan is the promise of a life Ivo thought he’d never have but their thunderous clashes threaten any chance of a relationship. Being the family’s hellion makes it easy to be misunderstood yet Ivo has faith Ruan will not only embrace who he is but love him as well.

 

I thoroughly enjoyed Hellion (415 Ink #3) by Rhys Ford.  I had been looking forward to Ivo’s story and his HEA because Ivo is such a magnetic character with his long legs, kilts, high heels, dyed hair and attitude.  Also the baby of the made family of five men that make up this series and own 415 Ink, that tattoo shop.   Rhys Ford always leaves hints about the next story at the end of the preceding novel, so it wets the appetite for what’s ahead for that story and clues us into some of the plot.

Still I found this a lovely break from the others in this series.  Hellion leans more towards the introspective and less towards some of the more action/suspense elements that  have occurred previously.  I really sunk into that aspect of this story.  It occurs from both, actually more than both, characters pov.  For SFPD Detective Ruan Nicholls , it becomes an inward journey, taking a hard look at his upbringing and its effect on his identity as a gay man.  Also how his profession as a police officer may  have enforced certain aspects of his fear as well as his need to protect. There are so many layers to pull back from Ruan and there are other characters here that help with that reveal.

One of them is Cranston, his old landlord and a tough maritime sailor.  Also gay but of the era where you never spoke it or if or even acted on it, unless you courted death.  Cranston is an indelible personality , sitting in that rocker on the porch waiting for Ruan to walk by, talking about the past and, in his own way urging Ruan to escape the fate of the life that Cranston has made for himself.  This man has impact.  On Ruan and on the reader.  Which is all the more puzzling for what the author does with him  3/4’s of the way into the story.  After creating such an multidimensional man who has such a big part in Ruan’s life, she writes him off with a “he went to live with his sister in San Jose”.  I was bereft.    As was Ruan for a sentence or two.   I had envisioned this old man as an extension of the 415 Ink family because he was actually part of Ruan’s.  But no gone he was as Yoda would say.  In my opinion, it was a misstep this author rarely makes, so again I’m greatly puzzled by it, a great and impactful character tossed away.  And a hole left in the story that I felt greatly.

Ivo too looks inward and past.  To see if he’s ready to help Ruan move out of his box and strict zone of thinking into something that might bring them a future.  It’s a shaky step full of faith, strength, and the ability to trust someone outside the family.  And Ford makes us feel every bit of Ivo’s journey, past and present.

I thought everything about their relationship and dynamics works.  Sexy, strong, faltering at times when it hits upon the shores of Ruan’s box of fears and old mentality. But the chemistry and love the author writes into their relationship shines through.

Plus there’s Spot.  Love that cat.

And Maite Suppe, Ruan’s partner, a lively and layered character, as well as an appearance by Donal Morgan.  Win, and win.

As with all the books in this series, all the brothers and their SO (and kid) make appearances.  They are an integral part of each others lives and stories.  Ford also sets us up for Luke’s story which is next. It looks to be a heartbreaker.  I can’t wait.

If you are following the 415 Ink series, grab this up immediately.  Ivo’s story is a must read.  If you are new to this made family and series, then I recommend you read them in the order they were written to understand the family, the past histories, and the dynamics that are referred to within this story.  They are not what I call standalone novels.

Cover Artist: Reece Notley.  Rarely do I think that this artist misses on the cover but I do here.  I just don’t see either character in that model.  Neither the older Irish cop for Ruan or the tall  tattooed kilt wearing, high heeled Ivo with eyeliner and dyed hair.  Uh no.  That model could be anyone with ripped jeans and a nice bod. It doesn’t speak to the characters or story.  A total miss.  You’d think he’s at least have some tattoos right other than the one star? Ivo is covered in them.

Sales Links: Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, First, 240 pages
Expected publication: September 17th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644056301
Edition Language English
Series 415 Ink #3

415 Ink Series

Rebel

Savior

Hellion

A MelanieM Review: Dine with Me by Layla Reyne

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Life never tasted so good.

Miller Sykes’s meteoric rise to award-winning chef is the stuff of culinary dreams, but it’s all crashing down around him. He’s been given a diagnosis that could cost him something even more precious than his life: his sense of taste. Rather than risk the very thing that defines him, Miller embarks on a last tour of his favorite meals while he still can.

But there’s a catch: he needs a financial backer to make it happen, and he doesn’t want anyone to know he’s sick.

Dr. Clancy Rhodes has two weeks to come to terms with putting aside oncology to work at his father’s thriving plastic surgery practice. When the opportunity to travel with a Michelin-starred chef presents itself, the foodie in him can’t believe it. It doesn’t hurt that Miller’s rugged good looks are exactly Clancy’s cup of joe.

As Clancy and Miller travel from coast to coast and indulge in everything from dive bars to the most decadent of culinary experiences, they’re suddenly sharing a lot more than delicious meals. Sparks fly as they bond over their love of flavors and the pressures of great expectations. But when Miller’s health takes a turn for the worse, Clancy must convince him he’s more—so much more—than just his taste buds. And that together, they can win a battle that once seemed hopeless.

I love stories that mix food with romance.  The two just naturally go together, a exploration of the sensual, the ability to explore new cultures through new  tastes and dishes, just the spices alone can be so heady.  Just like falling in love itself.  They are, as they say, a perfect blend.

When the chef or in this case, the author, gets it right.

And here in Dine With Me by Layla Reyne, the author gets it word for word, recipe by recipe, and scene by scene splendidly right.

I am not familiar enough with this author’s stories to know if this is the exception or the rule, but I mean to find out.  From the layered characterizations that spoke to me to the  many restaurants and dishes served up throughout the novel that speaks of the author’s love and appreciation of food and the chef’s in the kitchens, everything about Dine With Me was a journey to delight in and remember.

The author can go to making your mouth water for truffles to having your heart wrench over the pain being felt by the characters,Miller Sykes especially.   Clancy and Mike, as well as sall the other people here are so well crafted they become alive, and you fall into their lives from the moment you meet them and begin their journey.

And oh what a trip that will be… no spoilers here…but trust that it’s one you would wish to take yourself.  It sounds as though the author was intimately familiar with each and every place and for that Im envious and happy for her.  Those descriptions of the dishes and food are rich, you can almost smell the aromas, taste the umami, and let the savory and salt undertones  melt in your mouth.  OK, bring a drool cloth.

That ending?  It was everything I wanted and more.  It made my heart overflow.  Just what I need in my contemporary love stories and maybe even more.

So yes, run , don’t walk and get Dine with Me by Layla Reyne.  I love this story and only wish I could have lingered a bit longer is only to savor in this couple’s happiness and taste more of that incredible food by proxy.

Cover art by Carina Press does everything but make that table twinkle.  Pull out a chair for me.

Sales Links: Carina Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Book Details:

ebook
Expected publication: September 16th 2019 by Carina Press
ISBN 148805391X (ISBN13: 9781488053917)
Edition Language English

Love a Fantasy Romance? Check out the Book Blitz for A Noble Cause (Legacy #2) by Mickie B. Ashling (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: A Noble Cause

Series: Legacy, Book Two

Author: Mickie B. Ashling

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 26, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64500

Genre: Fantasy, NineStar Press, LGBT, fantasy, mpreg, magic, royalty, gay, age-gap, men with children, intersex, demons, wedding, kilts

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Having achieved his heart’s desire at a high price, Prince Colin of Sendorra and his fiancé, Nobel Prize winner Alain de Gris, find themselves at the epicenter of a twisted plot. Colin’s cousin, Drake Bradford, and his grandmother Maura, the high priestess of the Bradford Coven, have conspired for years to bring down the royal family.

Resembling his cousin in features and coloring, Drake, the soulless rat, has been using their similarities—and black magic—to his advantage. Princess Charlotte, Colin’s ex-girlfriend, is unwittingly drawn into the feud, blissfully unaware she’s been sleeping with an impostor.

In this anticipated sequel to A Tangled Legacy, Colin and Alain, along with their fearless group of witches, ghosts, and familiars, embark on a convoluted journey to save the people they love and ensure the royal succession.

Excerpt

A Noble Cause
Mickie B. Ashling © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Charlie’s head lolled back against the leather seat of the BMW as Drake Bradford, still in his disguise as Prince Colin of Sendorra, navigated the crowded streets of Biarritz before merging onto the toll road heading toward Paris. He’d cast a sleeping spell on his “fiancé” to avoid the interrogation he was sure would follow once she realized they were on their way out of town. He needed privacy to confer with Granny Maura to formulate a new plan while the royals were busy drawing up countermeasures to deal with him.

Drake grew impatient as Granny’s phone rang and rang. Like many seniors, she didn’t have her mobile at her fingertips, defeating the whole purpose of instant availability. Finally, after the seventh ring, she picked up.

“It’s about bloody time.”

“I couldn’t find my phone,” she replied apologetically.

“We’ve already talked about this on several occasions,” Drake scolded. “Put it on your kitchen counter so you know where to look.”

“What’s the problem?” she asked dismissively.

“I’ve managed to kill off the dowager and Colin in one fell swoop.”

“You what!”

“They should have stayed out of my business,” Drake defended.

“Tell me exactly what happened,” Maura ordered tersely.

“Plans started to unravel the minute Colin showed up unexpectedly. He wasn’t due home for another couple of days, and Charlie and I would have announced our engagement by then. There was nothing he could have done to stop us from marrying, but then it all went to shit.”

“Where are you?”

“Driving to Paris.”

“Is Charlie with you?”

“Of course she is,” Drake snapped. “She’s mine and I have every intention of marrying her. Plus, she’s carrying my child.”

“Don’t come to Paris,” Maura advised. “It’s the first place they’ll look.”

“What do you suggest?”

“Let me find you an apartment in Prague.”

“Why there?”

“It’s a good place to hide in plain sight.”

“Get back to me with details once you’ve made the arrangements.”

“It might take a few hours.”

He grunted. “Doesn’t matter, Granny. This is going to be one long-ass drive.”

“All right.”

Drake gunned the engine and put the car on cruise control the minute he was on the toll road. He was still seething at having been foiled—by an incompetent witch, no less—and wasn’t the least bit sorry he’d destroyed a dynasty. The only downside to this turn of events was figuring out how to deal with Charlie and her parents. He’d have to use her pregnancy and his powers of persuasion to convince her he was a far better choice than Colin could ever be. Granted, he didn’t have a kingdom to lay at her feet, but he and Charlie had great chemistry, and the girl melted into a pliant fool the minute he laid hands on her. He’d keep her so sexed up she wouldn’t dream of rejecting him.

His phone rang an hour later, and he was stunned by Maura’s news.

“Colin isn’t dead.”

Drake slammed on the brakes, and the car fishtailed to a stop on the shoulder, narrowly avoiding a six-car pileup.

“Impossible!” he thundered. “I stopped his heart.”

“Isabelle Simon and her son managed to bring him back to life,” she deadpanned. “The coven has already received a lengthy email demanding retribution.”

“Or what?”

“We’ll have a war on our hands, Drake. I’m not sure I can get the other members to stand by our side when your actions were completely unjustified.”

“Fuck the coven,” Drake snarled. “I don’t want their help. And need I remind you this was your plan all along? What about the dowager?”

“She’s dead.”

“So, you got what you wanted,” Drake pointed out malevolently. He sucked in air through his clenched teeth and gripped the steering wheel. “Now it’s my turn, and you’d better back me up.”

“I’ll see you in Prague.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multifaceted woman who is a product of her upbringing in multiple cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West. A little bit of this and a lot of that have brought a unique touch to her literary voice she could never learn from textbooks.

By the time Mickie discovered her talent for writing, real life got in the way, and the business of raising four sons took priority. With the advent of e-publishing—and the inevitable emptying nest—dreams of becoming a published writer were resurrected and fulfilled in April 2009.

Mickie discovered gay romance in 2002 and continues to draw inspiration from the LGBTQA community and their ongoing struggle to find equality and happiness in this oftentimes skewed and intolerant world. Her award-winning novels have been called “gut-wrenching, daring, and thought provoking.” She admits to being an angst queen and making her characters work damn hard for their happy endings.

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