A Lucy Review: The Academy by Quinn Anderson

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Sebastian, Theo and Dante are friends at a small private college. Sebastian is a notorious player, screw them and leave them.  When Nick starts at the college, grieving for his father and coming from a large city college, they resurrect an immature ploy from their younger days.  The first one to get Nick to kiss them wins Barbzilla, the trophy.  The caveat is, Nick has to be the one to initiate the kiss.  So they go after Nick, particularly Sebastian.  He is unrelenting in the face of Nick’s obvious distrust.

That is, I believe, what kept this from being a higher rating for me. To be honest, I liked Theo and Dante (secondary characters, friends of Sebastian’s) a little more than I liked Nick and Sebastian.  Theo and Dante were friends working on their relationship.  Nick and Sebastian spent most of the book snarking and being rude.  While I usually have no problem with the idea of “the bet”, having read this trope before, I didn’t like the way it was handled here.  You know at some point the bet will be revealed and it will cause problems but Sebastian’s actions were just so over the top nasty I couldn’t handle it.  The fact that Theo’s action, and true friendship towards Nick, made me believe Theo was the better choice wasn’t a good direction for a romance.  That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed Theo and Dante! They have their heads on straight and try to guide Sebastian.  “For Sebby.” 

Speaking of the secondary characters, I also loved Deen, Nick’s roommate.  “Deen didn’t ask him what’d happened again.  He didn’t say anything else.  He just hugged Nick and didn’t let go until Nick had finished crying.  Then he hugged him some more.”  Plus, he’s funny even though “Deen beamed, like he wasn’t used to people laughing at his jokes.”  Considering his name is Deenabandhu I did snort when he asked, “It is Nickolas, right?  And not like, Nickstopher or something?”  He’s sweet  Really, that’s the friend I want.  Sweet and funny.

The writing was very good in this book, although parts of it dragged.  Perhaps because it was long at 366 pages there were portions that just seemed to go on and on.  I got a little tired of the back and forth between Nick and Sebastian, because I didn’t feel the connection there.  The fact that it’s really just a matter of weeks could have something to do with it as well. 

Overall, the book was okay but not something I’d read again.

The cover art by Garrett Leigh was a little bit misleading for me because it shows two smiling, incredibly happy looking men holding each other.  The book itself didn’t have that fluffy feel to it.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published September 17th 2018 by Riptide Publishing (first published September 15th 2018)
ISBN139781626498440
Edition LanguageEnglish

Blog Tour for Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington (excerpt and giveaway)

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Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington

Publisher: Natasha Washington

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Subgenre: Contemporary Queer Romance/New Adult

Tropes/Themes: college romance, first time, fish out of water

Direct Link: https://www.natashawashington.com/books/

Book Synopsis: Patrick Mahoney has one goal in mind: get out of his native Fresno and find freedom in the rainbow and glitter-painted streets of San Francisco. As a college freshman, he’s sure he’ll finally have the chance to be himself, away from the judgmental eyes of his conservative hometown.

Josh Dirda’s never wanted to be tied down before, preferring the emotional ease of the one night stand. But when Patrick moves into the apartment that Josh shares with three friends, Josh is caught up in Patrick’s sly wit and quietly creative spirit. As Patrick’s self-appointed tour guide, Josh can be Patrick’s introduction to the city he loves. But after a drunken Halloween hook-up crosses lines, Patrick and Josh must reckon with their true feelings—and decide whether they can let go of the ghosts that haunt them.

Teaser Excerpt :

“How’s it hangin’, baby?” Patrick heard, and Freddy fell into his space, steadying himself on Patrick’s shoulder. Maybe not the best idea, given that Patrick wasn’t very steady himself.

“I never know how to answer that question,” Patrick said, and it was true. Weirdest idiom. Colloquialism. Whatever. Stranger than a lot of things his grandmother said.

“You are not drunk enough,” Freddy stated, and produced another shot out of thin air, it seemed, and—no. Patrick was saying no.

“No,” Patrick said, “no, I’m good, you have it.”

“I’ve had quite enough,” Freddy said, sagging against him. “Quite—I’ve had a lot.”

This was an astoundingly obvious statement, and Patrick was about to say so when he got distracted by Josh.

Josh, who was making out with a girl in the middle of the dance floor.

Patrick thought it was the same girl he’d been dancing with, but maybe not. The club was dark and the music was loud and Patrick was spinning. Josh cupped the girl’s cheek with one hand and pressed in, closer and harder, and Patrick didn’t want to be here anymore. He wanted to be anywhere but here, anywhere but where he’d grown up, anywhere but where he’d grown up and where Josh had grown up. Anywhere he wouldn’t find his own want staring him in the face.

 

About the Author

About Natasha Washington: Natasha Washington lives in Philadelphia, where she writes queer love stories in both YA (as Sonia Belasco) and romance. She has spent much of her professional life working with young people as a mentor, tutor, or therapist. When not writing, she is likely cooking, taking long, meandering walks, or listening to dance music or 90s hip-hop.

Connect with Natasha: Website | Twitter | Instagram

 

 

Giveaway: Enter to win one of two e-copies of New Adult Romance release, Calling Calling Calling Me.

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Quarterback’s Crush by John R. Petrie

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Dylan Porter needs a Hail Mary….

Because it’ll take a miracle for him to pass English and trig so he can stay on the football team, get a scholarship, and go away to college—where the distance from his friends and family will give him the confidence to finally tell them he’s gay. But flunking his classes will put a stop to all of his dreams.

Luckily there’s Tommy Peterson to help him. In Dylan’s eyes, Tommy’s perfect. Short, smart, and sexy, he checks every one of Dylan’s boxes, so it’s no surprise when Dylan falls head over heels. Too bad Tommy doesn’t seem to feel the same, and a pining Dylan accidentally outs himself to the team. Now Dylan has to deal with the fallout of his coming out to the team, his dad, and his coach while trying to score the ultimate touchdown—the love of Tommy Peterson.

It took me almost no time to fall totally under the spell of this endearing story and its amazing characters.  And it’s all due to the unique voice and personality of the main character, Dylan Porter.  You see, it’s his perspective that we see the story from and he’s an astonishing person!

As crafted by John R. Petrie in The Quarterback’s Crush, Dylan Porter is that amazingly elusive animal….a layered human being with the ability to surprise you over and over, not just the length of the story, but even several pages.  He’s not “peggable”.  What comes out of his mouth frustrates him,  makes him angry, or cry, but for the reader?  It makes you want to hug him, cheer him on,  support him, and in every respect do what’s necessary, because, damnit, this author has made us quickly believe in him.

The Quarterback’s Crush is a coming out tale from Harmony Ink Press but  its also so much more.  It deals with the stresses of senior life in high school (oh the joy and horror), the college entrance tests, prom, bullying, cliques, and more.  Normally those are topics we expect to get from a “nerds” pov,  and we do here.  But it’s also from a popular high school football player’s and his team.  They will surprise and delight you as well.  They certainly did me.

Tommy Peterson is the other side of the romantic equation (a sentence I think he would respond to).  He is as well put together as Dylan and a great match.  Did I wish to know more about Tommy’s story?  Yes, but honestly, this isn’t his story, It’s Dylan’s, and while I loved Tommy and wished for more, I wouldn’t to the detriment of Dylan’s voice.  So maybe a prequel with Tommy?

In fact, all the other characters here, Riley, Dylan’s best friend and the other  football players, Coach, father, have a certain stability and strength to them which only made this story more real and the relationships better defined.

The only thing that keeps this from a 5 star rating is that epilogue.  It was cute but I would rather have had more stories than something so full of teasers and questions.  Sort of a let down for me.  It could have ended without it and been a 5 star story in my opinion.

The Quarterback’s Crush is John R. Petrie‘s first published romance which amazes me.  It’s heartwarmingly wonderful, it’s characters endearing, and it’s storyline captivating.  I recommend it highly to all.

Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas.  I like the cover, although all the models seem more like college age than high school but the composition and characters are spot on.

Sales Links

Amazon (Kindle/Paper format) |  Dreamspinner Press  |  Harmony Ink Press  |  Barnes & Noble: 

 

 

Book Details:

ebook, 167 pages
Expected publication: September 4th 2018 by Harmony Ink Press
ISBN139781640803909
Edition LanguageEnglish

Release Day Blitz Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington (excerpt and giveaway)

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Calling Calling Calling Me by Natasha Washington

Publisher: Natasha Washington

Release Date: September 4, 2018

Book Synopsis: Patrick Mahoney has one goal in mind: get out of his native Fresno and find freedom in the rainbow and glitter-painted streets of San Francisco. As a college freshman, he’s sure he’ll finally have the chance to be himself, away from the judgmental eyes of his conservative hometown.

Josh Dirda’s never wanted to be tied down before, preferring the emotional ease of the one night stand. But when Patrick moves into the apartment that Josh shares with three friends, Josh is caught up in Patrick’s sly wit and quietly creative spirit. As Patrick’s self-appointed tour guide, Josh can be Patrick’s introduction to the city he loves. But after a drunken Halloween hook-up crosses lines, Patrick and Josh must reckon with their true feelings—and decide whether they can let go of the ghosts that haunt them.

Subgenre: Contemporary Queer Romance/New Adult

Tropes/Themes: college romance, first time, fish out of water

Direct Link: https://www.natashawashington.com/books/

 

Teaser 1:

The floor of the club was vibrating.

Patrick felt off balance, which made no sense at all since he’d only had one shot of Alexis’s devil tequila. Not that he was an expert on what tequila did to a person, or in particular to him—he was really more of a stay-home-on-the-weekends-and-build-models-or-read-comics guy, and Oh God, what the hell was he doing here.

“Hello, Gorgeous,” Alexis said, suddenly very close and speaking into his ear, her fingers grasping at his arm. “You really are gorgeous, Gorgeous.”

“You’re drunk,” Patrick said, “and I’m gay, or did you miss that part of the earlier conversation?”

“I miss nothing, Fresno,” Alexis said. “But seriously, those blue eyes and those cheekbones! Unfair.”

Patrick wished she would stop calling him Fresno. It was a reminder of all the reasons he didn’t belong here in this nightclub of shiny people glittering in their tight dresses and tighter pants and heels and boots, hair perfectly ruffled or slicked back, laughing into their martini glasses and leaving lipstick prints around the rim, on cocktail napkins, or at the corner of someone else’s mouth.

“Don’t think so much,” Alexis said, and dug her fingernails into his upper arm.

He breathed in through his nose and watched Josh talk to a girl by the bar, already looking sloppy loose from the shots they’d done back at the apartment. His hair was a curly mess and his smile was white bright, a beacon in this dark, fluttering room of strangers.

Patrick had no idea why he thought Josh was anything but a stranger. Josh definitely didn’t know Patrick.

But God, Patrick wanted to know him.

“Shot?” Alexis asked, holding out a tiny glass filled with sharp-smelling liquid.

Maybe this was what Alexis meant by not thinking so much. He took the shot and swallowed it all at once, feeling it burn its acidic trail down his throat.

Three shots later and Patrick was pretty sure he should have said no.

It wasn’t that the world was spinning, which it was. It was that everything felt blurry and out of control and scary-beautiful, and Patrick couldn’t help thinking: I am in San Francisco now, I’m here, I can do—be—have whoever I want.

Right now, he definitely wanted to be the boy or the girl dancing with Josh. He had one of each draped over him, and yeah, Mike wasn’t kidding about Josh being a player. Josh was all opportunity right now, all openness and soft shoulders and free movement. He wasn’t a good dancer, exactly, but he was still gorgeous, and God, Patrick was so screwed. He was going to live with Josh now. How could he—what was he supposed to do? Stare and pray? What should he pray for? That Josh didn’t notice or that he did?

About Natasha Washington

Natasha Washington lives in Philadelphia, where she writes queer love stories in both YA (as Sonia Belasco) and romance. She has spent much of her professional life working with young people as a mentor, tutor, or therapist. When not writing, she is likely cooking, taking long, meandering walks, or listening to dance music or 90s hip-hop.

Connect with Natasha: Website | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway: Enter to win one of two e-copies of New Adult Romance release, Calling Calling Calling Me.

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John R. Petrie on Writing and his new release The Quarterback’s Crush (author interview)

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The Quarterback’s Crush by John R. Petrie

Harmony Ink Press
Cover Artist: Adrian Nicholas

The Quarterback’s Crush is now available at

Amazon (Kindle/Paper format) |  Dreamspinner Press  |  Harmony Ink Press  |  Barnes & Noble: 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host John R. Petrie on tour for his new release The Quarterback’s Crush.  Welcome, John, into our author’s interview chair!

~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with John R. Petrie ~

  • How much of yourself goes into a character?

I tend to write characters who aren’t like me, so much as who I’d like to be.

What I love about the character of Dylan in The Quarterback’s Crush out from Harmony Ink on September 4th, 2018, is that he’s sweet and kind, but he lets his mind and mouth run away with what he knows he shouldn’t really say. He seems like he’s got a lot of fears, but he’s actually kind of fearless in many ways and I admire that.

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

I think there’s a line between writing characters who are wish fulfillment and writing characters who are perfect and accomplished. The line to me is more about writing a character as opposed to writing a plot device.

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

I love doing research and thank goodness for Google and podcasts where I can learn about things, listen to interviews (especially important to hear how people talk, their syntax, and their vocabulary), and find out much more about smaller things that the characters are interested in that I know nothing about. I really needed to hear jocks talk so I can understand their cadence.

That being said, what I write about tends to be in the ‘real world’ so I haven’t had much of a chance to build my own world the way that science fiction and fantasy writers do. I admire them so much for creating an entire world or worlds to enjoy.

  • Do you like HFN or HEA? And why?

For me personally? I’m single, so I’d love a HEA, but I’ll settle for a HFN. Call me. I like tall guys, but I’m not fussy.

  • Who do you think is your major influence as a writer?  Now and growing up?

Some of my favorite prose authors are Jane Austen, Michael Cunningham, Andre Aciman, and TJ Klune. They’re all so amazing.

I’m also really, really influenced by plays and screenwriters and how the dialogue on screen and stage is so pithy and effective. From that angle, I’m hugely influenced by Amy Sherman-Palladino (Gilmore Girls) and Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars).

From my geek side some of my favorite comic book writers are Greg Rucka, Gail Simone, Jen Van Meter, and Kurt Busiek.

  • How do you feel about the ebook format and where do you see it going?

I have to quantify this answer first. Almost every job I’ve ever had has been around books. Libraries, book stores, and a publisher. The last time I moved, I had two boxes of clothes and twenty-two boxes of books. I love books. Love them!

That being said, a well written sentence is a well written sentence, whether it’s something that’s read on a computer screen, tablet, e-reader, or page. E-readers are wonderful for people with bad eyesight, people who don’t want to, or can’t, carry around big hardcovers.

Books will never go away, and they shouldn’t. E-readers, however, do give a lot of eyes to first time and beginning writers, which is always a wonderful thing.

  • How do you choose your covers?  (curious on my part)

The wonderful people at Harmony Ink Press paired me with the wonderful Adrian Nicholas, who took my ramblings about cover design and turned it into the cover. We went back and forth on a few things and Adrian couldn’t have been kinder!

  • What’s next for you as an author?

I’m working on a series of LGBT YA mysteries taking place in the Southern U.S. as well as an adult Gay romance in the world of a professional sport. (I don’t want to spoil anything on that one yet.) Plus I have a couple of cork boards filled with other ideas and characters. Now if only I could take a few months off of work… 

  • What traits do you find the most interesting in someone? Do you write them into your characters?

I love characters who are unapologetically who they are. I love reading characters who aren’t passive in their journey. While there are characters who start their journeys because of external forces, I try really hard to write characters who are active in their own progression.

  •  What’s  the wildest scene you’ve imagined and did it make it into a story?

 Hmmm, I wrote a very adult story for an online website and it had some pretty wild sex scenes from my dirty imagination. For The Quarterback’s Crush, nothing too wild comes to mind. I really wanted the romance between Dylan and Timothy to lead up to the first kiss.

  • With so much going on in the world today, do you write to explain?  To get away?  To move past?  To widen our knowledge?  Why do you write?

 I think of it as the people in my head getting really tired of me being the only one who hears them. Seriously, though, I try to write so I can have a creative outlet that I don’t get in my every day life. For me, reading and writing are my attempts to find the universality of human experiences. If the book is horror or comedy or romance, the experiences we have about going through our lives will always ring through, no matter the genre.

THE QUARTERBACK’S CRUSH by John R. Petrie

Dylan Porter needs a Hail Mary….

Because it’ll take a miracle for him to pass English and trig so he can stay on the football team, get a scholarship, and go away to college—where the distance from his friends and family will give him the confidence to finally tell them he’s gay. But flunking his classes will put a stop to all of his dreams.

Luckily there’s Tommy Peterson to help him. In Dylan’s eyes, Tommy’s perfect. Short, smart, and sexy, he checks every one of Dylan’s boxes, so it’s no surprise when Dylan falls head over heels. Too bad Tommy doesn’t seem to feel the same, and a pining Dylan accidentally outs himself to the team. Now Dylan has to deal with the fallout of his coming out to the team, his dad, and his coach while trying to score the ultimate touchdown—the love of Tommy Peterson.

 

About the Author

John R. Petrie grew up in Boston and now lives in the Bronx, NY. Almost his entire working career has been spent around books, from his first job in the town library to more than twenty years bookselling in one of the biggest bookstores in the US. He’s also worked for the Housing Works thrift stores in NYC, which provides services for the homeless and HIV communities, as well as a comic book publisher.

He’s had stories published in True Romance magazine, had a play he wrote produced at his college, acted, danced, and was nominated for an acting award playing Belize in Angels in America.

He stays up too late, eats too much junk food, and has been reading Wonder Woman comics for over forty years.

He is very, very happy to have his debut novel published by Harmony Ink Press. He hopes to continue writing stories which make people smile.

 He can be reached at johnrpetriewrites@gmail.com and looks forward to hearing from readers and writers.

My email is johnrpetriewrites@gmail.com

My twitter handle is @johnpetriewrite

(I don’t do Facebook because I’m too afraid I’ll have to contact people from High School again.)

A MelanieM Release Day Review: BFF by K.C. Wells

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

I’m about to do something huge, and it could change… everything.

I met Matt in second grade, and we’ve been inseparable ever since. We went to the same schools, studied at the same college. When we both got jobs in the same town, we shared an apartment. And when my life took an unexpected turn, Matt was there for me. Every milestone in my life, he was there to share it. And what’s really amazing? After all these years, we’re still the best of friends.

Which brings me to this fragile, heart-stopping moment: I want to tell him I love him, really love him, but I’m scared to death of what he’ll say. If I’ve got this all wrong, I’ll lose him—forever.

I’m having a terrific contemporary fiction week! BFF by KC Wells is a warmhearted, feel good story of discovery, friendship, and love.  It’s  got a sort of tone to it that caught me off guard that I attribute to its format.  I almost had to read the   first couple of paragraphs twice to make sure  it was part of the story and not an author’s forward.  Well, it was an author’s forward.  But it  didn’t come from K.C. Wells but rather from David, our narrator of this story.

You see BFF is the coming of age, coming out story that charts two men’s friendship from their first meeting as second graders where they became the Dynamic Duo, through high school, all through roommates at college and after graduation as they start their various careers…always together.  As the best of friends.

But David is recounting it at the beginning of novel, he’s writing it all down as a story, complete with notes and reflections on his behavior towards Matt at the time (hindsight is everything).  It gives the book an immediate and intimate feel as his thoughts and feelings come tumbling out along with the memories.  Through David’s eyes, both Matt and their families come alive as does their long, blended history together.  If the two boys were always side by side so too were their parents (and siblings), matching them for support and love, even in the toughest of times.

Oddly I’m talking financially here.  This wonderful story has these families carry with them many of the strains most modern families do….job security, moving, eduction issues, and learning disabilities.  Even sex education and tolerance in the nicest of ways.  What it doesn’t have?  Extreme angst of any sort.  This is a gentle, moving story of a journey of a friendship and a deep love  towards a final revelation and HEA.

KC Wells really got to me.  Even when she had David remarking on his own dialog as a kid (too smart) in his story, to his interactions with Matt throughout the years, I was there with them, throughly invested in their relationship, their happiness.  That included their families.  I tell you I loved both sets of parents and when you read this story, you will too.

Honestly, that blurb gives you one idea of the plot line. But the story is so much more than that.  It’s bigger, warmer, decades in these mens lives and a touching, joyous journey to love.  Trust me, I really didn’t want to let them go.  I highly recommend this story.  It left me smiling and with a happy heart.  Doesn’t that sound like a grand afternoon?

Cover art:  Reese Dante.  This cover is perfect in every way.  That’s David and Matt and an importation location.  Love it.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 200 pages
Expected publication: June 5th 2018 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781640801004
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Release Book Blitz for Astray (Wavesongs #1) by Elvira Bell (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Astray

Series: Wavesongs #1

Author: Elvira Bell

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 99,500 words

Genre: Romance, Historical fiction, LGBT, M/M, Coming of age, Pirates, Age gap

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Synopsis

Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

Warning: This book ends with a cliffhanger, and it does not have a happy ending. The series as a whole will have a HEA ending.

Content note: This book contains dark themes and depictions of torture, murder, and rape.

Excerpt

Nick enters the cabin to find Hart sitting at the table. A book is open in front of him. Red-tinted sunlight floods the windows, casting a burnt orange glow over his hair and coat. He doesn’t look up as Nick steps inside and closes the door behind him.

“What did you want with me, sir?”

Hart sighs. Gives Nick a brief glance. “Ah, yes. My boots need a cleaning. Over there.” He points to the boots, neatly placed next to the door. “You should find what you need in that chest opposite them.”

Nick glances at the clogs on his own feet. Hart has not just one pair of footwear, but two—on his feet instead of the jackboots are black leather shoes. Sinking down to his knees, Nick gets to work. He grabs one of the boots, reaching for the cloth he’s found. His stomach clenches. All he can think of is that pool of blood around Stubbs’ head. He worries that Hart’s soles will be red, stained with the cabin boy’s blood. Thankfully, they aren’t. In fact, there’s not a trace of blood on them—almost as if they have been cleaned before.

Nick glances over to Hart. Did he clean his own boots before calling Nick in here? And if so, why? It makes no sense that he has wiped away the blood himself, when he could have made Nick do it.

Hart sighs and scribbles in the book. It’s unnerving to be alone with him and Nick feels relief surge through him when both boots are spotless and shiny.

“All done, sir.” He puts the boots back by the wall and stands up, turning to face Hart again.

The Captain doesn’t look at him. “Thank you.” Outside the window, the glowing sun has turned to just a sliver on the horizon. “That will be all.”

Available to purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m fiction with a touch of romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

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New Release Blitz for Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Big Man

Author: Matthew J. Metzger

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 9, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 58100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, coming-of-age, bisexual, trans, high school, sports/martial arts, depression/grieving, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Max Farrier wanted to follow in the family footsteps and join the Navy once, but he’s better off focusing on just surviving his last year of school and going to work in Aunt Donna’s shop once it’s over.

After an incident at school puts Max in the hospital, Aunt Donna’s had enough. She signs him up for private lessons at a Muay Thai gym. Boxing—she says—will change everything.

But it’s not boxing that starts to poke holes in Max’s stupor—it’s his sparring partner. Cian is fifty percent mouth, fifty percent attitude, and isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with a bully in the street. Cian takes what he wants, and doesn’t let anyone stand in his way—not even himself.

Excerpt

Big Man
Matthew J. Metzger © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
This was how everything started—on a Friday afternoon, at the very end of school, three days into the summer term and in the middle of an unreasonable, unseasonable heatwave. It had been a Friday like any other until Tom Fallowfield stuck his boot in.

Literally.

It went a bit like this, to Max’s admittedly patchy memory of the entire incident.

At three thirty-one, the bell rang, and he was dismissed out of his maths class. Friday was a notorious day for people being bored and at a loose end, so Max had (as was his habit) hurried off to his locker to try to get out of school before anyone caught up to him.

At three thirty-six, Max reached his locker. His fingers fumbled with the lock in a hurry, the metal loose in his grip because it was so ridiculously hot. Sweat was dampening the hair at his temples.

At three thirty-eight, his fingers slipped on the waxy cover of his geography textbook and sent the whole pile tumbling to the floor.

And at three thirty-eight and a half, a dirty Adidas trainer pressed down on said textbook just as Max reached for it.

That was kind of when Max knew he was a bit fucked.

“All right, Fatso?”

He didn’t have to look up. The trainer narrowed it down to one of two people who would stomp on the textbook he was trying to pick up, and the deep, drawling voice—like some villain out of a film—narrowed it down to one. Jazz Coles. And Jazz Coles was bad news.

Max swallowed convulsively and gathered the rest of his things to his chest protectively. He staggered back to his feet and turned to shove them all back in his locker. His hands were shaking. There was sweat breaking out on the backs of his thighs and under his arms, pooling in the joints and fleshy bits.

“Oi. You gone deaf, Fatso? All that grease clogged your ears?”

“M’just in a hurry, Jazz,” he mumbled.

“You what?”

“I said I’m just in a hurry,” he said a bit louder and squashed his other books into the locker haphazardly. The corridor was slowly emptying, and the emptier it got, the faster his heart was beating.

“You’re fucking rude, you are. You ought to look at someone when he’s talking to you. You want Tom to teach you some manners? Tom’s good with manners.”

“Sorry,” Max mumbled, turning hastily before the threat could be carried out. The metal of his locker bit uncomfortably into his back, pressing grooves into his skin, and he could feel his shirt beginning to stick to him. “I’m in a rush, that’s all.”

All three of them were there. Jazz Coles, Aidan Hooper, and Tom Fallowfield. Fallowfield was in Max’s year, the other two the year above. They went to some football club or something together—Max wasn’t sure. All he knew was that Jazz was the clever one, with the orders and the insults, while Aidan was the sidekick who screeched like a hyena and kept them supplied in fags and weed on a regular basis from his older brother’s grow. And Tom…

Tom was the dangerous one. When the insults stopped, Tom started. And nobody wanted Tom to start anything.

“Not got time to talk to us, then?” Jazz drawled. “Why’s that? You busy?”

“I—yes. Yes, just busy, that’s all, busy weekend…”

“Busy doing what? Got a new girlfriend?”

Tom snorted. Aidan cackled and said, “Eurgh, Jazz, man, I’ll bring up my lunch.”

“Imagine that sweaty sack of lard slithering and grunting on some poor girl. You’d crush her, wouldn’t you, Farrier?”

Max’s face heated up, and his hair stuck to his scalp. He could faintly smell his own underarms, and the metal gluing shirt to back was beginning to heat up too, at Jazz’s cool, slow delivery.

“Fatso Farrier, the flat-fucker. ’Cause that’s what she’d be once you were done. Best stick to boys, yeah? Let your boyfriend fuck you, then nobody’ll suffocate.”

“I don’t have a girlfriend. Or a boyfriend.”

“Would you like one?”

“I—no, I, uh—”

“Just as well,” Jazz continued blithely. “Nobody has a drowning-in-folds fetish. So if it’s not a girlfriend or a boyfriend with some sick kinks, why’re you too busy to talk to us?”

The corridor was empty. Max started to panic.

“Answer me, Farrier!”

“I—just—plans, you know, plans…”

“What plans? Sale on at Greggs?” Jazz asked. “New bakery opened up? Or is Mummy taking pity on her lonely little wobblebottom, and baked you a chocolate cake?”

Aidan gave a whooping cackle, and Jazz kicked the forgotten geography book towards Max. It skittered across the dusty floor, hitting Max’s shoe with a dull thump.

“Best not leave that here,” Jazz said. Hands in his pockets, pale face regarding him through narrowed blue eyes, he looked calculating—and Max couldn’t figure out what he was calculating. “Oi! Fatso! Pick it up, then.”

“Thank you,” Max mumbled, hoping it would buy him a bit of a reprieve from…whatever Jazz was planning, and stooped to pick it up. His fingers scrabbled uselessly on the plastic cover, wet with anxiety.

“Thank you?” Jazz echoed. “Very polite, Fatso. Might want to make it sound fucking sincere next time.”

“Here, Jazz, fancy a game?”

That deep rumble was the only warning Max got before Tom’s boot—because of course Tom, totally mad, sadistic Tom Fallowfield, wore boots to school on a regular basis—connected with the side of his head.

Hard.

Max would have liked to say that pain exploded in his head, that he saw visions of God or heard the heavenly choir, that it was like dropping into a Tim Burton movie.

Actually, he just heard a massive bang.

And then he woke up in the back of an ambulance and knew he was in deep shit.

That was how it started.

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Meet the Author

Matthew J. Metzger is an ace, trans author posing as a functional human being in the wilds of Yorkshire, England. Although mainly a writer of contemporary, working-class romance, he also strays into fantasy when the mood strikes. Whatever the genre, the focus is inevitably on queer characters and their relationships, be they familial, platonic, sexual, or romantic.

When not crunching numbers at his day job, or writing books by night, Matthew can be found tweeting from the gym, being used as a pillow by his cat, or trying to keep his website in some semblance of order.

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New Release Blitz for On a Summer Night by Gabriel D. Vidrine (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  On a Summer Night

Author: Gabriel D. Vidrine

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56200

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, trans, bisexual, asexual, coming-of-age, coming out, family drama, HFN, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Casey is determined to have fun this summer going to camp with his best friend, Ella. His overprotective mother frets that attending this one instead of trans camp like he’s always done will cause problems, but Casey has his heart set on going stealth anyway.

His mom just might be right.

All Ella wants is love for her best friend, and she’s determined to set him up with someone, despite Casey’s protests that he just wants to have fun, not get involved in a summer romance. But things get complicated when camp bully Ryan focuses his energies on the two friends. At least Casey’s cute bunkmate, Gavin, appears interested in getting to know him better, making Casey rethink the whole romance thing.

Until he finds out Gavin and Ryan are good friends.

Summer camp turns into so much more when Casey has to decide if Gavin is worth pursuing, friend of a bully or not.

There’s just one more problem: Ryan knows Casey is transgender.

Excerpt

On a Summer Night
Gabriel D. Vidrine © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“Do you have your socks?” my mother called up the stairs.

“Yes, mother!” I shouted back down at her. Of course I had socks. But I double-checked the large footlocker anyway, scrabbling through it until I found them. They were buried under my binders, but there they were.

“Don’t forget towels!” came another shout up the stairs.

She knew me well. I always forgot something. I went back to my bathroom and rummaged around in the linen closet until I found enough towels for the trip.

When I got back to my room, Mom was staring down into my trunk, her hands on her hips. “Anything else?” she asked, eyeing how much was in it.

“I hope not.”

I tossed the towels in the trunk, only to be crushed into a hug from her. “I’m going to miss you Casey,” she said into my hair.

I patted her awkwardly. She meant well, but ever since I announced my desire to transition two years ago when I turned twelve, she’d gotten super overprotective and clingy. “I’ll miss you too, Mom.” I did mean it, but it was going to be a relief to be away from her for almost two weeks. Even though I’d never been away from my parents that long before, not even at trans camp.

She squeezed me harder until I gasped and then let me go. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“For the millionth time, yes,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“Okay. I’ll get your dad to get this down the stairs,” she said, and then she was gone in a whirl of brown hair and scarves.

I shook my head at her back and pulled out my phone to text my best friend, Ella.

Me: Almost ready. U?

I knew she wouldn’t answer right away (she actually hated her phone, the weirdo), so I nervously went through my list again to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I needed a distraction.

While I was rummaging, my dad, a big guy who had prematurely gone bald so he always wore an ugly hat, had lumbered up the stairs and was frowning down at my trunk. “Are you sure you need all that?” His voice was very deep.

“Yeah, Dad.” My phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it. “It’s almost two weeks.”

“Twelve days,” he said.

“Yeah, I know.” I scratched at my head, slightly embarrassed to talk about my transition stuff with my dad. “I, you know, need some extra stuff.” I thought of the binders lying next to my socks.

He glanced at me and nodded, and then looked quickly away. He hadn’t been as supportive of my transition as my mom. When I first told him, he blurted, “But you’re a girl.”

We stood there in awkward silence for a moment as I wondered what I should say to him, father to son. But he hadn’t yet called me his son.

He cleared his throat, still not looking at me, and then crouched and heaved up the trunk onto a roller cart he’d carried up the stairs. It was going to be a pain getting it down on the cart, but at least he wouldn’t kill his back picking it up this way.

I helped him maneuver it down the stairs, wishing not for the first time I could start hormones. I wanted to be as strong as my dad, but I wasn’t old enough yet. Well, I was, but my parents wouldn’t approve it until I was sixteen. I figured Dad was the one holding out, because Mom would give me whatever I wanted.

Two more years.

When we finally got the trunk down the stairs, I pulled my phone out. Ella had texted back.

Ella: Yeah, loading the car. Are you ready?

Me: Yes! Just gotta say bye.

Ella: We’ll be there soon.

“Ella and her parents are going to be here soon,” I told my parents.

Mom had argued long and hard about how I was getting to camp. She wanted to take me, but I wanted to go with Ella and her parents. My friend and her brother had been going to this camp for years, and her parents knew exactly how to get there. Mom pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay. Are you sure you have it all?”

Annoyance flared up. “Yes!” I said.

“Don’t take that tone with your mother,” Dad warned.

I closed my mouth and let the anger subside. It wouldn’t do to get into an argument with them now. They’d probably not let me go, whether or not they had already paid for my spot. And summer camp wasn’t cheap; I’d seen prices on the website.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, and Mom pulled me into another hug.

“Be safe, okay?” she said. “I wish you wanted to go to the trans camp instead.”

“Mom, please!”

“Okay, okay, I know. You want to go to regular camp like any regular boy.”

“I went to trans camp last year,” I said.

“I know, and you loved it. That’s why I wish you’d go again.”

“Stop worrying so much, Mom,” I told her. “The kids won’t hurt me.”

She didn’t look convinced when she finally let me go. It was true; trans camp had been fantastic. But everyone there knew I was trans. I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t always feel trans. I knew it was impossible, but I wanted a shot at it. All the other kids at trans camp had loved it, because they’d said they could shed their trans identity there. Since everyone was trans, we got to talk about other things. It made it less special, which was, in reality, a relief.

And that was the problem for me. I just wanted to be like any other boy. And all the other boys went to summer camp like the one I was going to, not to trans camp. I wanted to be a boy with the other boys.

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Meet the Author

Gabriel D. Vidrine is a trans masculine scientist, dancer, and writer but is working towards reversing that order. They teach and perform belly dance all over the country, but still manage to cram in writing time whenever and wherever possible.

They are an avid reader and writer, and love science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance, but will give any genre a try.

Gabriel lives with their husband, video game systems, and ridiculous cat, Selina, in Chicago, IL.

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New Release Blitz for Sweethearts by Gemma Gilmore (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Sweethearts

Author: Gemma Gilmore

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 29, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 62600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, YA, high school, friends to lovers, alcohol use, visual arts, coming out, teen pregnancy, coming of age, slow burn

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Synopsis

When seventeen-year-old Ingrid Harper realizes she may not have the talent to pursue a scholarship for the most prestigious art school in Australia, she turns to pink hair dye as a distraction.

Her new hair captures the attention of a fellow art student, Kat, who introduces Ingrid to the LGBT clubbing scene, and although Ingrid enjoys partying with her new friend, she becomes caught up in confusion about her sexuality. Her fear is overwhelming—she can’t think about anything else.

Until her best friend, Summer, reveals that she is pregnant.

As her best friend faces the realities of being pregnant at seventeen, Ingrid is shown the true definition of courage. It motivates her to come out about her sexuality—she likes girls. Only girls. Now she just has to work out what that means for the other areas of her life.

Excerpt

Sweethearts
Gemma Gilmore © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
I am desperately trying not to attract attention.

My arms are folded across my chest. My chin is tucked into my neck. I am leaning against the brick wall as I watch her sing. It takes every ounce of strength I have to keep my face still, hiding any expression that bubbles to the surface. Any reaction I have to her lilting voice is shoved down, adding to the pit in my stomach.

The younger students are sitting respectfully in their seats. They are still too naive to question the teachers when they are told they must be present. I know better than to think that this school performance is anything special to Amber Freeman. She’s been singing since before she could walk, and although I am always the first viewer, her YouTube videos are gaining more and more popularity with every upload. This is just practice to her. A warm-up.

The spotlights are trained on her, and she throws her hands up whilst the climax of the song cascades from her talented lips. I let my eyes flicker shut and Amber’s voice surrounds me, caressing my ears as she sings deeply. Her voice is crashing through me, tingling across the skin on my arms and seeping through my body, calming me.

My head has fallen back against the wall, and I remain frozen there as I listen to her sing. In this moment, nothing else matters. With my eyes closed, she’s right next to me. Singing softly, untying the knot that’s sunken deep into that pit in the bottom of my stomach.

“Ingrid? What the hell are you doing?” The voice that hisses right next to my ear jerks me out of my daydream.

I jump with shock and wrench my eyes open, tearing myself away from the peaceful moment. In front of me, my best friend Summer stands, her arms folded across her chest and her eyes wide in that you are busted expression.

“Jesus,” I mutter. “I thought you had better things to do than sneak up on people. Way to give me a heart attack.”

“I thought you had better things to do than stand here creepily at the back of the gym listening to Amber sing,” Summer challenges me, an amused smile dancing across her full lips.

“You snuck up on me and you’re calling me the creep?” I snort. “Come on, let’s get out of here.”

The quicker I can get Summer outside of this gym, the quicker I can shove away the fact that she caught me watching Amber’s performance. We duck behind the last row of seating and out of the door in the corner of the room, swiftly ignoring the Emergency Exit Only sign. We’ve done this so many times now that it’s like second nature.

Outside, the rain lashes against the building. The wind howls so loudly that I’m surprised no one noticed our little escape from the gymnasium—then again, they never do. For Summer, there’s more to life than just sitting in a desk at school. Any chance my best friend has to escape the mundane restrictions of life is an opportunity she must take. She’s never been the kind of girl to follow the traditional paths.

Then again, neither have I.

My thoughts still spin as we duck through the car park and head out to the tin shed at the back of the school. Summer knew exactly where to find me during Amber’s performance. She knows that I watch Amber. While everyone else in our grade snuck off to make out in abandoned classrooms or smoke cigarettes behind the main building, I followed the crowd into the gymnasium with one intention.

Why did I need to watch her?

“I had a headache and the gym was dark.” I shrug off Summer’s curious stare as we take shelter under the tin roof. The rain really lashes down now, bouncing off the pavement and whipping through the trees. “It was better than watching you make out with Jackson for an hour straight.”

My snide comment is low but, right now, I’ll do anything to take the attention away from me.

“You had a headache, so you decided to listen to Amber sing?” Summer rolls her eyes at me. “Makes sense.”

She fidgets with her oversized tartan scarf, staring out into the rain. Maybe I’m not the only one who is trying to avoid things today.

“You were in there too,” I argue half-heartedly. “What’s your obsession with her?”

This time, Summer does turn to me. “I’m obsessed?” She snorts. “Ingrid, honey, if I’m obsessed, then you’re deranged.”

“Then I’m deranged.”

Summer rolls her eyes, signalling the end of that particular conversation. “Whatever. Your deeply disturbing issues are the least of my problems right now. Look, Ingrid, I think I’m going to have to take a test.”

Red splotches gleam against Summer’s pale cheeks, and I watch her carefully. She tugs on that scarf like it’s strangling her.

“Like an STD test?”

“Are you stupid?” I know her voice is harsher than intended, and I brush it off with a blunt laugh. “A pregnancy test.”

“Oh, for god’s sake, here we go again. You and Jackson really need to invest in some efficient birth control because this I’m pregnant freak-out that you have every month is getting boring.”

“Trust me, I know.” Her tone is suddenly tense, and she blinks back emotion. “But right now, I’m pretty sure I have the devil’s spawn growing inside of me, so I’m allowed to freak out. I’m two weeks late.”

I raise my eyebrows. She’s never been this late before. “Jackson is not the devil’s spawn. You know he loves you. But I highly doubt you’re pregnant. It’s all the stress from thinking you’re pregnant every month starting to get to you.”

“Yeah, okay, whatever.” She says, throwing her hands up in defeat. “I knew I shouldn’t have said anything. I don’t know what you’re moping about—we got a free class and you got to watch Amber singing. It’s a damn good day for Ingrid Harper right now.”

“Listen, I really did just have a headache. I don’t care about Amber’s singing. And you and Jackson were quite obviously distracted. You didn’t seem to have pregnancy on your mind during that public make-out session. Or maybe you did. Either way, I think it’s a damn good day for both of us, don’t you think?”

I know what Summer is doing. She is the ultimate denier of reality. More than that, she is aware that I will follow along with every topic change she throws at me. I get distracted easily, apparently.

Summer laughs, but the smile doesn’t quite reach her eyes. Distraction is inevitable right now, for both of us. These are not issues we should be faced with at seventeen years old. Summer’s mother is getting married soon, so that’s just one more thing to top off what I’m coining Summer’s Distressing Summer.

We stand silently as the rain pours over the sides of the flimsy tin roof. Muddy water pools right to the edges of the door. It’s mid-December. While politicians are throwing around the term climate change like it’s currency, I stare at the pools of water near this emergency exit, wondering if our town has sufficient flood safety plans.

“Come over tonight,” she murmurs. “Please, Ingrid.”

“You’re buying me McDonald’s.” I sigh in return. The truth is, I have my own things to worry about, whether Summer is pregnant or not. She’s been with Jackson for three years—that’s three years they have successfully been together and prevented pregnancy. It’s not a possibility. It just isn’t.

Summer is wild, just like her name. Her light-brown hair is constantly tangled, but her dominating blue eyes seem to distract everyone.

But today, she stares out at the grey sky and nervously chews at her lip, clutching that damn scarf so tightly that I know she’s already certain about this pregnancy. More so than I’ve ever seen before. Her blue eyes don’t seem so bright today.

“I heard Jackson was thinking about transferring to the art school. I didn’t think that boy had an artistic bone in his body.” I smirk, desperately trying to relax Summer. I don’t know what to say when she’s so shut off like this. My lie is smooth, slipping off my lips easily.

“Yeah, he does comics. I don’t know, I guess they’re funny.”

“It’s our last year of high school. Surely he’s left it a bit late?” I frown in earnest now.

What Summer doesn’t know is that I’ve known Jackson a lot longer than she has. I know that he’s been wanting to do art since he started high school, but his military-driven father would never allow it—he’s all about physical education, mathematics, and science. He used to drill that into Jackson every time I was around; none of this fairy fluff nonsense, he would say pointedly.

“Look, Ingrid, I don’t really want to talk about Jackson right now,” Summer snaps, finally releasing the titan grip on her checked scarf and running a frustrated hand through her frizzy hair.

“Do you even want me to stay tonight then?” I throw back. “I can’t deal with you when you’re being like this. Either let me in or let me go. I’ve got shit to do.”

To my complete surprise, Summer snorts as she turns to face me. “Just shut up and come and sleep over at my house. I need your brutal honesty, but I also need you to do literally everything I say right now. You know I’d do the same for you.”

I don’t bother telling her that to be in her position, I’d actually have to get closer than two feet to a guy, but I think she already knows that.

“Look, I don’t like that you called Jackson the devil before. I don’t care if he’s annoying sometimes, if you are…pregnant…it’s definitely not the devil’s spawn that could be growing inside of you. And that’s all I’m going to say about that,” I huff.

“Okay, I didn’t know you were Jackson’s number-one cheerleader, but whatever.”

“Yeah, whatever.”

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Meet the Author

Gemma Gilmore is graduated from university with a degree in Journalism and a passion for writing and travelling. In 2016 she was awarded a highly competitive residency with the Tasmanian Writers Centre. When she’s not writing YA fiction, she’s spontaneously booking trips across the world so she can draw inspiration from new cultures and places.

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