New Book Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Quest (The Realm of the Vampire Council #2) by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: The Vampire’s Quest

Series: The Realm of the Vampire Council, Book Two

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84600

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, 19th century American South, vampires, angels, established couples

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Synopsis

The Vampire’s Quest brings back the beloved gay vampires, Xavier and Thomas, in the anticipated sequel to The Vampire’s Angel.

In 1822, the Archangel St. Michel orders Xavier to go on a quest to America, a quest that violates the Vampire Council’s laws to the point of a possible death sentence. Worse, Xavier must abandon his lover, Thomas. Xavier runs to his aging sister and pleads for Catherine’s help as Thomas races after them. With Thomas and the Vampire Council vying for Xavier’s soul, Xavier and Catherine struggle to obey the former priest’s divine calling before their inevitable capture.

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Quest
Damian Serbu © 2019
All Rights Reserved

One: St. Michel’s First Visit
8 March 1822

London, England

St. Michel stood before Xavier in all his glory, with his sword in one hand and a stern look peering through the golden light flooding from behind. “Listen, Child of God, and obey. Go to Mont St. Michel. Go to the monastery and cathedral built to my legacy and to God’s glory. There I shall issue further instructions.” As St. Michel parted, his sword lashed across Xavier’s forehead.

Xavier cried out in his sleep, waking with blood dripping from his brow. The confines of his coffin never felt so claustrophobic.

He reached up to discover the gash from St. Michel’s sword already starting to heal. Why did that surprise him? Vampires healed almost instantly. But how could he imagine their magical healing powers could undo the wrath of an angel rained down in a dream?

The lid to the trunk-cum-coffin lifted and candlelight flooded Xavier’s face.

“What’s wrong?” Only when he heard Thomas’s alarmed voice and looked into his piercing dark brown eyes did Xavier realize his lover had already awakened for the night and no longer lay next to him.

“Nothing,” Xavier whispered.

“Nothing?” Thomas almost shouted. “You were screaming. And you bled. There’s an injury here.” Thomas reached down and touched Xavier’s forehead where St. Michel wounded him.

“It’s healed now.”

Thomas lifted Xavier out of the trunk and moved him to the nearby bed. He held Xavier in his strong arms and rocked back and forth. “What’s going on, abbé?” Thomas used his affectionate nickname for Xavier, from his human days as a priest. “Tell me.”

“You have to believe me. I know you don’t have the same faith, but this is real.”

“Talk to me.” Thomas clutched Xavier harder.

“We have to go to Mont St. Michel in France. Immediately. Tonight. St. Michel, the archangel himself, commanded it.”

Thomas frowned. “We arrived here to visit Anthony.”

“Anthony will understand.” Xavier trusted their closest friend, and the oldest vampire they knew, would accept their explanation for a hasty retreat.

“It was just a dream. Aren’t you overreacting?”

Xavier stifled his rising panic. He pointed to his coffin. “The blood. You saw it for yourself, on my forehead. He cut me as a warning. Please, you have to believe me. We have to go.” Xavier hated the desperation in his voice. It made him sound unhinged, almost as unstable as the time he disappeared during the French Revolution while human, lost in his drunkenness because he fled from Thomas’s love.

“Then we’ll go.” Thomas petted Xavier on the head, then leaned over and kissed his cheek.

“Do you think me mad?”

Thomas chuckled but squeezed Xavier in his arms. “Always. I never know if your visions are a flight of fancy or real. But they’re a part of you. Have I denied you anything since I converted you to a vampire? No. And I never will. So we’ll go.”

Thomas’s skepticism almost convinced Xavier to question what happened, until Xavier stood and saw the blood stain on the silk lining where he slept.

Moments later, Xavier and Thomas said goodbye to Anthony, who as expected, made no protest at their sudden departure. They crossed the English Channel by swimming at vampiric speed and approached Mont St. Michel.

The mere sight of the majestic place awed Xavier. On the northern tip of France sat a small island upon which stood a mystical cathedral, rising out of the clouds and reaching up to the heavens.

Built from the eleventh to fifteenth centuries, legend had it St. Michel visited St. Aubert, the bishop of Avranches, three times in a dream, commanding him to build a tribute to the saint atop the island rock. Enraged, the bishop had not heeded his call; on the third visit, St. Michel hammered the imprint of an anvil into the bishop’s head, so when he woke he would believe the saint visited his sleep. Impressed by St. Michel’s message, the bishop commenced the project, which took several centuries and various manifestations to complete.

The soaring cathedral built atop the island stretched into the night sky as the two vampires slowed their pace. Xavier and Thomas walked through the fields of grazing sheep toward the water, where they again would need to swim because of the high tide engulfing the island. The small city beneath the castle still acted as a medieval village, with gates and stone walls surrounding it for protection. The one road on the island wound up the steep hill, toward the abbey and monks’ quarters. Above the village, overlooking all of France, the church stood as a legacy to medieval architecture and its grand monuments to God and St. Michel.

St. Michel called Xavier to the shrine, the grandest of all memorials to him. Thomas and Xavier woke an innkeeper and rented an entire floor of his establishment for privacy. They then explored the small island’s shops, closed for the night, and last, the grand monastery perched atop. They took a few needed items from sleeping merchants, including an enormous traveling chest they could convert into their temporary coffin, but left behind twice the value of the objects they took.

Xavier and Thomas concealed themselves in their rooms inside the trunk. Xavier braced himself, as the sun rose, for another visit from St. Michel, but woke the next night well rested. With no further divine instructions, the vampires made love and decided to further explore the island.

Inside the cathedral, overlooking the channel, Xavier again talked to Thomas about why they came to Mont St. Michel.

“Did you ever think you’re worried about something else?” Thomas pulled Xavier into his arms. Xavier loved the feel of Thomas’s long, black hair against his cheek. “Maybe these visions mean something else. Archangels don’t really visit people.”

Xavier looked into Thomas’s brown eyes and ran his fingers through his hair. “You saw the blood.”

“There are a thousand explanations for that. Why go to ghosts and spirits?”

“Because he came to me.” Xavier put his head on Thomas’s chest, afraid Thomas thought him insane. Insanity would have been easier to confront than the actual visit from an archangel.

“And so we’re here. What now?” Thomas asked.

“We wait.” Xavier shrugged and pulled away. “We can tour this magnificent place.” Xavier twirled and motioned to the tapestries and view around them. “Here, come back to the courtyard. The view is magical.” He reached for Thomas’s hand and pulled him outside.

As they admired the water and saw the lambs sleeping on the mainland of France, Thomas came up behind Xavier and wrapped his arms around his waist. Soon, Thomas’s tongue lapped at Xavier’s ear and his hands wandered across his body. Xavier tensed with sexual passion, leaning into his lover, forgetting about the archangel for a moment.

“Someone will see,” Xavier said half-heartedly, at the same time reaching his head back to lock lips with Thomas. “Should we go to our rooms?”

“I can’t wait. It’s the middle of the night. No one is awake.”

They made passionate love to one another, right in the churchyard.

“Blasphemy,” Xavier said to his lover as they redressed. “In front of a church. I already have an angry archangel after me.” Xavier wondered how much he really meant. Did he think God would disapprove? Xavier felt sure God would dwell more on the power of their love for one another.

But what of St. Michel? Xavier doubted he had the same forgiveness as God. His legacy of violence against those whom he enlisted on his missions told a different story. Then again, Xavier felt certain last night St. Michel would come to him at once, either in their quarters or while Xavier slept through the day. Nothing. No vision. No sign.

“Leave the archangel to me. Nothing will harm you.” Thomas smiled at Xavier as they walked down the steep steps toward their inn. “You need to relax.”

“I am. I know I worry a lot. But not this time. He came to me. He really did.”

“Then we’ll wait. For as long as you need and as long as he doesn’t prohibit sex.”

“He might not want it in front of the sanctuary again.” Xavier grinned. Thomas’s penchant for blasphemy amused the former priest, despite certain irrational qualms about it. Thomas laughed and pulled Xavier close to him. They spent the remainder of the night in their quarters, with Xavier writing to his aging sister, Catherine, in Paris and Thomas organizing financial affairs.

Before the sun appeared, Xavier retired to their makeshift coffin. Exhausted, he soon fell asleep, before Thomas joined him.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He has published The Vampire’s Angel and The Vampire’s Protégé with NineStar Press. Coming later this year from NineStar: The Vampire’s Quest and Santa Is a Vampire.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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An Alisa Review : Midnight Angel by Kevin Klehr

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Dinner is overcooked. The guests haven’t arrived.

Luke is sitting alone at his dining table on New Year’s Eve. He was hoping to romance Nathan, one of the people he invited for this intimate evening meal.

As midnight draws closer, it seems an angel, who has magically appeared in Luke’s apartment, is the only person to drink champagne and watch the fireworks with.

But this angel has other ideas. He’s about to grant Luke the New Year’s Eve party he thought he wanted.

 

This was a different story and it’s so short I’m afraid to give everything away.  I understood the point of what the angel did but didn’t like the execution and mostly just felt for Luke as he was being blindsided.

 

In the end we get to see Luke find the love he wants just not in the way he had originally hoped.  Unfortunately I didn’t feel a big connection to any of the characters but felt as if I was watching from the sidelines.

I like the cover art by Natasha Snow is cute and one of the standard for holiday shorts this year.

Sales Links: Nine Star Press | Amazon | B&N

Book Details:

ebook, 10,500 words

Published: December 10, 2018 by Nine Star Press

ISBN: 978-1-949909-61-6

Edition Language: English

A MelanieM Review: Lavender Fields by Natalina Reis

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Rating: 2.75 stars out of 5

 

Sky Heavensent, an angel of death, is charged with the collection of souls of the recently departed. Known to his peers and immediate supervisor, the archangel Gabriel, as the liability, Sky puts his heart and soul into everything he does.

When he meets Caleb Pierce, Sky is immediately smitten. The problem is Caleb is the soul he came to earth to harvest, and saving him means breaking one of the most sacred angelic directives.

Already in too deep, Sky pushes aside the consequences and follows his heart. Danger and mayhem follow, but he will do everything in his power to protect his lavender-eyed man.

Lavender Fields by Natalina Reis is one of those stories readers are going to be effusive in their praise after reading it or like me, sit back, reflecting on the jarring issues that left the story a bit well, earthbound.

It does  have some promising characters that pulled me initially into the story.   Sky Heavensent is a angel of death, but every bit of a uncoordinated, klutzy mess.  He means well but somehow he ends up in the wrong place at the wrong time and causes Heaven and his superiors no end of trouble.  He wanted to be a Guardian Angel but his actions forced him into the position of Angel of Death, a nice touch.

When he goes to collect his next soul, of course,  Sky does the opposite of his chosen duty and all sorts of unfortunate things start to happen.

There is a great promise here.  Reis has something endearing characters with Sky, Caleb and his sister.  She almost makes the instant love thing work  here with the angels can fall in love with a glance explanation.  The follow up storyline with the charm of the human characters and their interaction with Sky was thoroughly enjoyable.  Even that bit with Gabriel, Sky’s frustrated and irritated superior.

However, there is another entire side plot that for me took away from the sweetness and lovely details the author had been laying out.  In this section, it’s as though Natalina Reis wasn’t sure how to handle parts of her story. We have a villain that’s weak for all the intended repercussions.  Certainly Heaven is more on top of things than this? Huge holes abound here. Plus instead of a resolution or explanations that would give the reader some form of satisfaction at the end about what happens to certain characters, we are given a “they were dealt with”.  Not once but two or three times.  That’s well, insert your adjective.  How do you not tell us  what happened to the villains here?  What were their punishments?  Nope, nada.  Only the charm of the characters saved this story from falling farther under a 3 star rating because there more even more narrative holes with that ending as well.

If you are a true lover of angels and romance, then I expect you will need to add this one to your collection.  The same goes if you are a fan of Natalina Reis.  Lavender Fields is a sweet romance if you can overlook some issues with the story and the writing and unfortunately for me, towards the end I just couldn’t.

Cover art is your typical angel sort of thing, doesn’t really stand out in the angel field.

Sales Links:   Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 204 pages
Published July 15th 2017 by Hot Tree Publishing
ISBN139781925448986

Release Day Blitz Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes

Series: Actor and Angels, Book 3

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 19

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 54000

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy, performance arts, drug/alcohol use, contemporary, established relationship, angels, demons, over 40

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Synopsis

Adam is dead, but that’s not his only problem. His husband, Wade, is still alive and sleeping with losers. His guardian angel, Guy, has grown fond of the liquor cabinet. And Adam suspects his demise was the result of foul play.

Meanwhile, in the depths of the Afterlife, the devil forces Adam to put on a play for the sinners. If he fails to entertain them, Guy’s parents will spend eternity in the Underworld.

As he gambles with the freedom of the damned angels, Adam comes to terms with infidelity, friendship, and the reason why he was the victim of a double murder.

Excerpt

Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

It was like being in a Hollywood remake of The Jetsons, suspended in air and surrounded by cloudless sky, with interweaving conveyor belts shifting us farther to the front.

Behind me a couple of lesbians fidgeted while peering forward, trying to see where we were going. Below, another mix of curious folk deliberately moved forward on this mechanical mess of pathways. Above me, the same.

“Do you have any idea what’s going on?” asked one of the women behind me.

While she could pass for the girl next door, all made up with lips as red as a 1950s advert model, her checkered dress spoiled the effect with its huge smoldering burn mark.

“What happened,” I queried.

Her partner stuck out what was left of her tongue. It too was charcoal black with a melted piercing smeared all over it.

“Let’s just say, never get frisky outside while there’s a thunderstorm.”

She reached for her skirt and was about to lift it to prove her point. I clutched her wrist just in time.

“I get it. Your girlfriend’s stud became the conductor. I don’t need to see something that will haunt me for the rest of my life.”

Her eyes widened. “Your life? Look at your chest!”

I released her arm and felt my heart. It was like someone had used too much starch while ironing my shirt. I examined a rusty brown stain on the crisp white cotton.

“I’ve returned, but this time for good,” I muttered.

“Wha uw ya awing awout?” said the one with the brittle tongue.

“What did she say?”

“I think she wants to know what you’re talking about.”

I stood on tippy-toes to see farther ahead, but all I saw was a long row of people waiting patiently.

“I’ve been here before, I think. I’m not sure.” I jumped high on the spot but still couldn’t see where we were going. “I guess that’s why I’ve got this frantic ink blot on my chest.”

“Sweet cheeks, it’s blood.”

“Yes, I know that.”

“So what’s your story? How did it get there?”

I felt it again. Its sandpaper texture began to crumble. “I wish I knew.” Bending sideways, I tried to steal a glimpse, but it was no use.

“Well, it’s not quite how I imagined it. I’m not sure it’s how you saw it either, Frida.” She held her girlfriend’s hand. “I was expecting tattooed angels parked on clouds with big black motorcycles ready to take us to Heaven.”

Frida nodded.

“What did you expect, um, what’s your name?”

“Adam.”

“Hi, I’m Sue.” We shook hands. “And this is Frida.”

“Ice oo eet yoo.”

“My pleasure.”

“So, is this the way you pictured it?”

“No, I can’t say it is. My partner isn’t here.”

“What’s his name?”

“Wade. We’ve been together for nearly nineteen years. Or at least, we were.”

“I’m sorry he’s not with you.”

I felt my bloodstain once more.

“Well, at least he survived, if what happened to me happened to him, if that makes sense?” I bit my bottom lip. “Actually I really don’t know what I’m talking about.”

“Aw leees ee awive…”

Sue raised her hand like a cop stopping traffic.

“Don’t try to speak, darling. It looks like hard work.”

“Yeah, but I get what Frida’s trying to say. At least Wade’s alive instead of here.”

“A silver lining in the cloud.”

“That’s one way of looking at it.”

Below me a young chap in a Second World War uniform peeled off his gloves. His conveyor belt had stopped. An African woman wearing more colors than a rainbow tried to speak to him, but he seemed too traumatized to reply. She raised her arms in disappointment and began talking to the gray-haired woman behind her.

“Leopard print,” said Sue.

“Huh?”

“Check out the middle-aged woman in the leopard print, far behind us. Wow! She’s wearing more jewelry than a 1960s movie star.”

I looked. “I think she is a 60s movie star. Look at that beehive!”

“Jackie O she ain’t.”

“And look at the older woman next to her. A lollipop in a pantsuit.”

“Adam, how can they be from the 60s?”

“Now I know I’ve been here before.” I glanced ahead and saw the tip of a wing obstructed by the others on my conveyor belt. I couldn’t hold back my smile. “Sue, let me ask you something. What era are you from?”

“Nineteen ninety-three. Why? Aren’t you?”

I pointed to the man in uniform. Sue’s jaw dropped steadily.

“And what country?”

“Poland. And you?”

“Australia, twenty-first century.”

“You speak Polish well for an Australian.”

“Sue, I’m not speaking Polish.”

She shared stunned looks with Frida.

“Wha iz ee alking avout?”

“Girls, you’re about to enter a world I’ve been dreaming of returning to since I was last taken from earth before my time.”

“Maybe you should try Polish. I have no idea what you mean.”

Frida rotated her finger by the side of her head; a gesture to make out I was loony. Sue shrugged before carrying on a private conversation with her girlfriend about the family they’d left behind.

A few drops of water splashed on my face. I looked to the moving path above. A group of teenagers also from the 60s flower-power days stood shivering, saturated to the core. One long-haired guy, with enough swirls on his shirt to send you into a trance, saw me.

“Never do your own plumbing when you’re tripping, man,” he called. “I flooded the apartment.”

“Why didn’t you run outside?”

A naked girl with waist-length long hair clutched onto his arm. “I thought I was swimming in candy floss,” she replied.

“Candy floss!” he said. “I thought the sky had fallen and there was no escape.”

“Weren’t we in space, floating?” asked another.

I chuckled before bending sideways to look ahead. I saw half his body. My guardian angel, Guy. He acknowledged me with a kind grin. I was eager to jump to the head of the queue. I took a calm breath, stood up straight, and closed my eyes.

I already sensed his comforting hugs, letting me know I’d returned to safety. I could feel his strong wings wrap around me like an extra layer of armor. Nothing would harm me here in the Afterlife, not with him by my side.

“Adam’s here,” said another voice I recognized.

“Yeah,” Guy replied. “There’s something I need to explain.”

“Mannix?” I mumbled to myself.

Many passengers later I was at the front. I stepped off the conveyor belt onto thin air, and before a word was uttered, both the angel and my old friend wrapped their arms around me. I clutched them tightly, never wanting to let go. Huge smiles engulfed us all. Behind me were bewildered murmurs, as a stray tear from Guy softened my cheek.

“I’ve missed you,” I said to my angel. I kissed him tenderly on the forehead. “And I missed you too, Mannix.”

“Welcome to the Afterlife again,” said Guy.

“Why am I here?” I whispered. We stepped apart.

“I think this time you’re actually dead,” Mannix replied.

He sounded unsure, like a wife telling her tired husband that there might be a burglar in their house. He was still in his early thirties, just as he was the last time I was whisked off to the Afterlife six months earlier.

His sensual demeanor still warmed me in places I’m too polite to mention, even though his boyhood looks had faded slightly since we last met. A man was taking his place. A man wise beyond his years, wearing older-sexy like a stylish coat.

“Where’s Wade?” I asked.

“Sadly mourning your demise, my friend,” Guy said in a hushed tone. “Adam, we’ll talk about that later.”

I touched the dried blood on my shirt, crumbling it into tiny pieces that fell away.

“Guy, I need to know what happened.”

He turned to Mannix. “I’m releasing you from welcoming duties to show Adam his new home.”

“Which is where?” the young man asked.

Guy pulled out a key from his trouser pocket. “The apartment under mine.” He had a devilish grin. “Adam’s not the only one who needs a friend at the moment.”

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | YouTube | Vimeo

 

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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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Blog Tour Drama Queens With Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr

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Title:  Drama Queens with Love Scenes

Series: Actors and Angels, book 1

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 17

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72200

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Angels, cisgender, Fantasy, friends to lovers, gay, humorous, Life after death, romance

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kevin Klehr here today.  He’s brought Pedro, a character from his latest release, Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

✒︎

Meet Pedro, a character from Drama Queens with Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr

While Allan pines for his friend, Warwick, it’s Pedro the playwright who initially steals Warwick’s heart. In Allan’s eyes, Pedro is the villain in this novel.

Pedro arrived in the Afterlife after living in 1920’s New York. He was a struggling artist determined to become a successful stage writer, but his ego was larger than his talent.

He hung out with the wannabes of the theatre, and once sold his soul to write a Christmas pantomime for a kids party held by a rich socialite. Sadly that pantomime was not suitable for children and Pedro’s chance at becoming known in the right circles fell flat.

In the novel he’s finally respected for his craft in the Limelight Quarter, the theatre district of the Afterlife, but whether he deserves to is a matter of opinion.

Synopsis

Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea, so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.

Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

Excerpt

Drama Queens with Love Scenes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

She looked like Jayne Mansfield without the attributes. Her cherry-colored wide-brimmed hat complemented her black unbuttoned jacket. A low-cut white dress completed the look. She seemed overdressed and would have looked better wearing a casual pink T-shirt and torn jeans, like a pinup girl sparking the imagination of a lusty army boy. Her pleasing smile said she had been waiting to greet us.

An angel stood next to her, barefoot in old blue jeans and a ripped-sleeved khaki shirt. While he didn’t have the glam factor of the female, his striking dove-gray wings drew focus. They spanned his height and then some, towering above his head by at least an arm’s length. He rarely made eye contact with us and stood hunched with his hands lightly clenched below his navel. His demeanor implied a vanilla hint of gayness.

Just what did we actually get up to last night?

My friend, Warwick, and I safely considered this scene from the doorway of our tiny room.

A moment ago, we had said goodbye to my uncle and his girlfriend, and now we were facing two strangers on what looked like the set of a Greek epic.

Our confused oohs and ahs echoed off the marble black and white tiles, which stretched so far into the horizon they became gray as they met a set of stairs. Each step alternated in color, again black and white. Someone had overdosed on 1980s pop videos when they conceived this design.

“What do you make of the red velvet curtains, classic or uninspired?” I asked my friend.

“Allan, they’re lush. Just lush.”

“Don’t be alarmed, gentlemen,” the Jayne Mansfield look-alike said with an air of whimsy.

As we nodded awkwardly, she shot a concerned glance at the angel and whispered, “Don’t smile like that. It doesn’t match the décor.”

Discouraged, he rolled his eyes and mislaid his smile.

I began biting my thumbnail as my eyes darted between our hosts and the opulent aspects of this room.

“A sex kitten and an angel,” I timidly said to Warwick. “Does this mean…?”

Warwick stepped through the doorway and addressed the angel. “Those wings? Please tell me they aren’t real.”

The angel gracefully flapped them three times before shrugging. I switched my denial into overdrive.

In the past week, Warwick and I had left our chaotic beach-town lives for a little break. My dead-end job was getting me down, and my partner in crime suggested a holiday would be the best remedy. Until this point, he was right. All had been going as planned. We’d visited my uncle Bryant and his new love interest in Melbourne before considering a driving trip around Tasmania. Who could have imagined this strange twist in our plotline?

Our hosts seemed to study us like a diplomat about to shake hands with a head of state. The angel endeavored to smile again, while the blonde bombshell gave us a moment to gauge our bearings. Then her arms extended in greeting like Jesus in a biblical painting.

“My name is Samantha, and this is Guy. We’re here to welcome you.”

Purchase

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

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | YouTube | Vimeo

Tour Schedule

4/17    Hoards Jumble

4/17    Zipper Rippers

4/17    My Fiction Nook 

4/18    Stories That Make You Smile

4/18    Happily Ever Chapter

4/19    The Novel Approach 

4/19    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/20    MM Good Book Reviews 

4/21    Love Bytes

4/21    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

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Review: Close Quarter by Anna Zabo

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Close Quarter coverSculptor Rhys Matherton’s life is a disaster.  His beloved mother has died, leaving him her entire fortune and a shocking bit of information.  His father, the one who rejected him because of his homosexuality, isn’t his father after all.  So grieving, inundated with people asking for money and favors, Rhys flees the States and takes a cruise, hoping the isolation will give him time to recover and consider what he is going to do next.   But on board Rhys’ life changes forever when he spills a drink on a handsome stranger.  An apology turns into a night of hot sex and then something more.  This stranger makes Rhys feel alive.  It’s as if he has been waiting to this man to come into his life to complete him.

Silas Quint has boarded this ocean liner for a mission, to hunt down and destroy the Soulless, vampires traveling the Atlantic to feed on the souls of the passengers.  Silas doesn’t need any distractions but he feels a connection to Rhys that won’t be denied.  After a night of incredible sex, Silas explains he’s a forest fae, something Rhys has a hard time believing until Silas proves it.  But Rhys too has a surprise for Silas and for himself as well.  One that will have impact on Silas’ mission and change both of their lives forever, if only they can survive this voyages and the vampires hunting them both.

Close Quarter is the first book by Anna Zabo and what a book it is!  I couldn’t put this one down from the moment I started reading it, I was totally absorbed by Zabo’s story. Her characters, her plot and her world building, all  marvelous.   Every aspect of this story captured and held my attention from beginning to end,, and left me wanting so much more.

So many elements are in play here.  First there is her world building.  It’s terrific while still leaving plenty of room for enlargement and minutiae in the future books to come.  We get just enough to make sense of the plot and events unfolding in the story which manages to combine the fae, angels, and vampires into one cohesive plot.  I loved how Anna Zabo used familiar aspects of fae mythology, like the summer and winter courts, but then added her own layers to it.  She did the same with the vampire lore as well.

Zabo’s vampires are not the benign creatures of other authors.  Instead these vampires harken back to old Slovakian folklore , the Upyr. These are terrifying creatures, ripping hunks of flesh from their victims even as they devour their souls, truly dark beings.  Allied against the dark are the Messengers and their servant, Silas Quint.  That is a story I won’t spoil for you here but it is large in scope, equal to the aspect of evil Zabo has created for Close Quarter.

Silas and Rhys are a wonderful combination, equal parts magic, snark, and yes, love.  Although the entire book takes place within a few days, the bond created between Silas and Rhys is absolutely believable as are their feelings towards each other.  That I could buy into this  case of instant love floored me and is due directly to the vivid descriptions by Zabo of their interactions and the fast paced events that happen aboard the ship.  Silas and Rhys both question their reactions to each other and the emotional connection that snaps into place almost immediately.  Again, the explanations are startling, even to the characters themselves and I loved the mythology the author has created to explain this connection and Rhys’ past.  It works, its captivating, and it leaves you needing more of that background information.

In fact, Anna Zabo tosses in so many wonderful elements into the mixture that some are almost overlooked as the characters scrambles to stay alive and together.  I say almost because as you read you will find yourself going back, returning to prior passages to look for additional clues or pertinent facts that you might have missed when certain elements are revealed in the story.  One of those ‘how did I not see that coming” sort of moments.   Because once one of these little revelations occur, then you will immediately want more information and it won’t be forthcoming, at least not in this book.

I contacted the author about any future stories in this universe and was delighted to hear that Zabo has two more books with Rhys and Silas sketched out, as well as one with Vasil Kutsera, an important secondary character here.  This is a universe that cries our for its stories to be heard and Silas and Rhys make a wonderful start.   I loved Close Quarter and think you will too.  Consider this book highly recommended.

Cover art by April Martinez features some gorgeous models and that ship is a lovely addition.

Book Details:

ebook, 218 pages
Published November 13th 2012 by Loose Id, LLC

Review of Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum #3) by Mychael Black and Shayne Carmichael

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Rating: 4.25 stars

Mael Black and his consort, Cian, are busy with their responsibilities and their plan to bring a son with their joined blood into their lives. The fact that Mael Black is the Vampire Prince of London and Cian, a vampire hunting angel, makes their combined duties that much more complicated.  The vampires under Mael’s rule are unhappy with his choice of consort as is his father, the powerful Lord Nigel.   And while Cian no longer hunts vampires, sometimes his very nature can cause misunderstandings in their relationship as Cian is still trying to figure out what it means to be human.

A messenger brings a summons from the court in Rome.  An ancient force is awake and coming to destroy the Romanorum and with it all that Mael and Cian hold dear. When their plans for a son is revealed to Nigel, he plots to separate his son from Cian by any means possible, including death.  With court intrigue, mysterious were deaths, and  unexpected betrayals to deal with as well as the new threat, it will take Mael, Cian, along with a contingent of gods, vampires, and angels to combat the ancient evil and save their world.

It’s been four years since the last book, And Two Shall Become One (Legends of the Romanorum #2) was published and I had forgotten how much I had loved Mael Black and Cian.  And now with Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum #3), their saga is finally over, although other couples in the series look to be getting their own books.  Here, the authors have given Mael and Cian a wonderful sendoff that left me happily satisfied and looking forward to more.

The premise of the series hooked me in from the very start.  You have a vampire Prince and a vampire killing Angel attracted to each other when by their very natures they should be deadly enemies. The first book covers their unconventional  romance from the beginning, where we see the emotional turmoil and mental anguish their feelings bring.  The second book in series sees their relationship continue to deepen as Mael announces to the court that Cian is now his consort and the consequences of that decision. Now they are an established couple but still discovering parts of each other previously unknown.  Cian is a 3,000 year old angel who is still trying to figure out what it means to be human and that includes jealousy.  Mael understands human nature but has not seen what a angry Angel can mean.  I love the fact that Black and Carmichael take the issues that might pop up as a couple navigates a new relationship and applies it to a new couple with diametrically opposed natures. And does a great job with it.  Yes, Mael and Cian are busy with their jobs that they forget to make time for each other.  Typical issue.  But Cian is Mael’s ghoul and needs to feed from him, not so typical. Mael needs to understand that Cian accepts his job as Prince and understand the pressures he is under. Typical.  That is job contains meeting with were rulers and messages from the devil, not so typical. And so on.  Typical relationship ramped up to nth degree.

The characterizations here are wonderful, full of beings is it easy to love.  In fact Cornelius, court sorcerer, and Brandon, a young vampire rescued off the streets almost stole the second book away from the two main characters, they were that special and endearing in every way.  For those of you who loved them as I did, both Cornelius and Brandon appear here as well.  Another couple starts a relationship here that I suspect will continue, along with Cornelius and Brandon, in other books.  In fact, I would say the problem here is that there is a surfeit of great characters and couples all striving for the readers attention.  Along with the couples already mentioned, back from previous books are Michael and Selena, Dio and Josh,  and so many others that it becomes hard to remember who is paired up and what their backstory is.  An abundance of wealth that could have been spread over additional pages or another story.  Then start throwing in Egyptian gods, Lucifer, werewolves, and the cast inflates almost more than the story can handle.

And that comes back to my final quibble.  If you have not read the first two books, you will be a little baffled once you start reading this book as the backstories and character development is contained in the previous stories . It is taken for granted that the reader is familiar with the convoluted plot lines and familial connections here.  This is a richly layered saga.  Coming in on it cold is definitely not recommended.  Start from the beginning.  Watch the relationship happen.  Weep and shout for joy during the second book. Come to love the characters as I did and then pick up this book.  You won’t be sorry. And now I will wait to see which couple gets the next book.  I hope it won’t be another four years before I find out.

Books in the series, in the order they were  written and should be read:

The Prince’s Angel (Legends of the Romanorum #1) Rating: 4 stars

And Two Shall Become One (Legends of the Romanorum #2) Rating: 4.5 stars

Forever May Not Be Long Enough (Legends of the Romanorum #3) Rating: 4.25 stars

Cover:  Gorgeous cover by Alessia Brio