Love Recent Murder Mysteries? Check Out the Release Blitz for Tainted Love (Soho Noir #1) by T.S. Hunter (Excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Tainted Love (Soho Noir #1)

Author: T.S. Hunter

Publisher:  Red Dog Press

Cover Artist: Red Dog Press

Release Date: April 18, 2019

Genre/s: Cosy Crime, Noir, Novella, Amateur Sleuths

Trope/s: Historical discrimination, burgeoning gay scene in London in the 80s, friendship among queers, solidarity, community.

Themes: 1980s murder mystery, coming together, coming out, discrimination.

Heat Rating:  1 flame – It’s all murder and crime solving, though there is a love interest.

Length: 125 pages

It is a standalone story.  The first of a series of 6.

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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Amazon UK

Direct from publisher

Some relationships are just murder

Blurb

It’s 1985, and Joe Stone is excited to be joining his old school friend, and lifelong crush, Chris, for a long weekend in London’s Soho—home to a vibrant, developing gay scene, and a million miles from the small town Joe and Chris grew up in.

When Chris is found brutally murdered, the police write his death off as another rent boy fallen foul of a bad hook up. But Joe knows his best friend was killed deliberately, and joins forces with former police detective, Russell Dixon—Chris’s flatmate—to find out why.

Spiralling debt, illicit sex, blackmail, spurned lovers and hard-nosed gangsters all play their part, but who among the celebrities, fashionistas, drag queens, ex-lovers and so-called friends is Chris’s killer?

A noirish whodunit set in 1980s London, with all the big hair, electro-pop, shoulder pads, police discrimination and lethal killers that the era had to offer.

Tainted Love is the first book in the Soho Noir series of cozy crime novellas.

About the series

The Soho Noir series is set in the decade of big hair, shoulder pads, pastel suits and bright, cheesy pop, in a part of London which, on the surface at least, seemed to accept and adore people from all walks of life—a melting pot of gender, sexuality, colour and race, where celebrities rubbed up against the average Joe in cafes, bars and hair salons on every street.

But the 1980s had a darker underbelly, even in Soho. This was a time when gay rights were hard fought, where the police actively targeted gay men as easy victims for arrest and extortion, the government deliberately restricted gay rights and the tabloids screamed about The Gay Plague—the AIDS epidemic. And yet, gay icons who would go on to endure lasting fame and success were springing up all over the pop and fashion world.

The 1980s forms a strangely fitting, sometimes nostalgic, always entertaining backdrop to this colourful series of cozy crime stories.

Noirish, sexy and delicious.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

SOHO, LONDON. 1985.

THE DANK WINTERY STREETS outside were a distant memory now. Tonight, this hot, sweaty, neon-lit club was Joe’s whole universe. Music pulsed through his body like a brand new heartbeat. London was already changing him.

Sweat sticking his T-shirt to his ribs, arms raised high above his head, grinning wildly, hips pumping to Frankie’s repetitive calls to “Relax”. Joe hardly recognised himself and he was happier than he’d ever been.

It had been a night of Bronski Beat, Sister Sledge, Culture Club and Madonna—the kind of upbeat pop Joe usually hated. He was into more brooding, melancholic stuff—miserable shite, according to his friend Chris—and yet these pulsing, happy beats felt like they defined him right now. The new him. His new start.

This whole weekend had been like none Joe had ever known. He’d always been the quiet one, never even daring to come down to London on his own. Not confident enough to admit who he really was. This year was different already.

His oldest friend from school, Chris Sexton, had called him out of the blue to invite Joe to join him in London for a long weekend. A friend is having a party, he’d said. It’s going to be wild. You should come.

Chris had been the only person Joe had stayed in touch with from his school days. His first and only love, though he knew that particular accolade was one-sided, and Joe had long since given up hope of anything happening between them, even if he was still—and always would be—a little besotted with Chris.

Chris wasn’t the kind of guy who went around falling in love, though. Handsome, confident, reckless, funny and the bravest man Joe knew—Chris had left a trail of broken hearts behind him of those who’d fallen for him before they realised he’d never settle down.

So Joe and Chris had stayed friends, meeting up less frequently now that they had both left their respective universities, and Joe had secured a boring but well paid job with the council back in their old home town.

Chris, on the other hand, had moved to London seven years ago to study Fashion at St Martin’s College. Two fingers up to his father, who’d wanted him to join the family accountancy firm. Maybe he’d go back to it, when he’d settled down a bit. Though there was no sign of that happening any time soon.

After college, Chris had hooked himself up in a partnership with a couple of other young designers, and had been making a name for himself on the fashion scene ever since.

He was renting a flat in the heart of Soho and seemed to have a wide circle of friends of all shapes and ages. Joe wished he had Chris’s life. Or his talent. Or his looks. Any one of those would do.

Joe laughed as his friend bounced across the floor in a series of typically ostentatious dance moves, deliberately bumping into a tall, skinny, blonde guy—exactly Chris’s type—and planting a sly kiss on his cheek before sashaying away again. Oh, for that confidence.

Joe hadn’t even come out to his family yet. In fact, Chris was the only person he’d ever confided in, though he was sure others knew.

His oldest sister suspected. She’d asked him outright once, but he’d just changed the subject. It was none of her business. She was like the mirror of their mother. She wouldn’t understand. She would just worry.

All of that felt a lifetime away right now. Here in this club, Joe had found his spiritual home. This was living. This was who he really was. “Like a Virgin” by Madonna blasting out of the speakers, bodies bouncing and writhing together, very few of them remotely like a virgin.

About the Author

Claiming to be only half-Welsh, T.S. Hunter lived in South Wales for much of his latter teens, moving to London as soon as confidence and finances allowed. He never looked back.

He has variously been a teacher, a cocktail waiter, a podium dancer and a removal man, but his passion for writing has been the only constant.

He’s a confident and engaging speaker and guest, who is as passionate about writing and storytelling as he is about promoting mainstream LGBT fiction.

He now lives with his husband in the country, and is active on social media as @TSHunter5.

Author Links

Blog/Website

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Twitter: Red Dog  or  TS Hunter

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Main Prize: one personalised paperback copy (signed and dedicated), a rainbow pin badge, chocolates and tote bag (red cotton tote back with the words Go Away I’m Reading in black)

or

one of five ebook copies of Tainted Love.

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An Ashlez Review: Chasing Chance (Gilcrest University Guys #1) by M.E. Parker

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Rating : 4 stars out of 5
There are moments in your life that become part of you. They become so ingrained in your memory that you can’t let them go, no matter how hard you try. Some may seem small and insignificant when they happen. Others are so big and important that you know, even while you’re in the moment, that your life will be forever changed. For me, almost all those moments—both the small and insignificant as well as the big and important—were moments I shared with Chance Wyrick.

If I were in a support group for hopelessly pathetic gays, I’d have to introduce myself by saying, “Hi, I’m Andy Michaelson and I can’t stop myself from thinking about Chance Wyrick.”
From the time we met, when we were only six years old, and for the next twelve years, he was my best friend. I fell in love with him along the way. I couldn’t say exactly when it happened, only that it happened.

Words of advice:

Never fall in love with your best friend, especially if he’s one of the most popular kids at school, the best high school quarterback in the state, or if he happens to be your next-door neighbor.
But most of all…

Never, I repeat never, fall in love with your best friend if he’s straight. Nothing good can come of it. Trust me.

Our friendship was over before we finished our last year of high school. My best friend became my ex-best friend. I hoped to forget about him when I went off to college. But Chance followed me there. So did all the memories.

I tried to forget him. I did. But he was more beautiful than ever. He was the starting quarterback for Gilcrest University. He was larger than life. He was impossible to ignore. We hadn’t spoken in years, but the memories still hit me out of nowhere, and they still hurt.

By the time I started my third year at Gilcrest, I was beginning to think I’d never be over him.

As it turns out, I was right…

Chasing Chance is the first book in the Gilcrest University Guys series. It’s a full-length, “friends to lovers” romance novel. It has “coming out” and “first-time gay” themes, is stocked full of STEAM, heartache, and laughter, and it has a guaranteed happy ending. The series will follow the love stories of four college friends. Chasing Chance is the first of two books that will tell Andy and Chance’s love story. Look for book two, Catching Chance, to come out next month!
You know what, I’m super excited about these Gilcrest boys!  Dying to see what comes from all of his friends, I love books like this that set up the next story in the series so well that you just can’t seem to wait for it.
At first this story started off a bit sad, honestly, I kind of thought the formatting was a bit off, I get that you need flashbacks for this story 100% but I prefer the flashbacks to be their own chapters for some reason, I know it was in different formatting but I get distracted when I’m reading one portion then it jumps to another within the same chapter – but that’s personal preference.
Andy was adorable and knew what he wanted from day 1 – there was a bit of drama and unneeded tension between the mains/friends but alas, it’s a book right .. every book needs a little drama!
Where Chance came in was a bit more of a time – he has a hard time throughout the whole book – but the end more than makes up for his behaviour – you honestly can’t help but feel for both of these guys.

Overall well written, good storyline, good plot, and a good read!  I need more of the Gilcrest boys… I really do.

Cover – football, apt, I don’t think it’s super central to the story – I’d have liked a treehouse!

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Book Details:
Kindle Edition, 175 pages
Published March 17th 2019
ASIN B07PQ97GR6
Series Gilcrest University Guys #1

Adore Friends to Lovers Romance? Check Out the Book Blast for Chasing Chance (Gilcrest University Guys #1) by M.E. Parker (excerpt and giveaway)

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BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Chasing Chance (Gilcrest University Guys Book One)

Author: M.E. Parker

Publisher:  Self-Published

Genre: Contemporary m/m Romance; Friends to Lovers, Coming Out, First-time gay

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length:  55 000 words/ 175 pages

Release Date: March 17, 2019

It’s the first book in a series HFN ending—no cliffhanger

Add on Goodreads

 

Blurb

There are moments in your life that become part of you. They become so ingrained in your memory that you can’t let them go, no matter how hard you try. Some may seem small and insignificant when they happen. Others are so big and important that you know, even while you’re in the moment, that your life will be forever changed. For me, almost all those moments—both the small and insignificant as well as the big and important—were moments I shared with Chance Wyrick.

If I were in a support group for hopelessly pathetic gays, I’d have to introduce myself by saying, “Hi, I’m Andy Michaelson and I can’t stop myself from thinking about Chance Wyrick.”

From the time we met, when we were only six years old, and for the next twelve years, he was my best friend. I fell in love with him along the way. I couldn’t say exactly when it happened, only that it happened.

Words of advice:

Never fall in love with your best friend, especially if he’s one of the most popular kids at school, the best high school quarterback in the state, or if he happens to be your next-door neighbor.

But most of all…

Never, I repeat never, fall in love with your best friend if he’s straight. Nothing good can come of it. Trust me.

Our friendship was over before we finished our last year of high school. My best friend became my ex-best friend. I hoped to forget about him when I went off to college. But Chance followed me there. So did all the memories.

I tried to forget him. I did. But he was more beautiful than ever. He was the starting quarterback for Gilcrest University. He was larger than life. He was impossible to ignore. We hadn’t spoken in years, but the memories still hit me out of nowhere, and they still hurt.

By the time I started my third year at Gilcrest, I was beginning to think I’d never be over him.

As it turns out, I was right…

Chasing Chance is the first book in the Gilcrest University Guys series. It’s a full-length, “friends to lovers” romance novel. It has “coming out” and “first-time gay” themes, is stocked full of STEAM, heartache, and laughter, and it has a guaranteed happy ending. The series will follow the love stories of four college friends. Chasing Chance is the first of two books that will tell Andy and Chance’s love story. Look for book two, Catching Chance, to come out next month!

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

 

Excerpt 

As we sat next to one another on the rocky river bank in silence, I watched his wild dark hair ripple in the wind. He looked so much older than me. His shoulders were broad, and he was at least two inches taller than I was. I couldn’t help but notice the curves of his biceps through his fleece pullover. He was the hottest guy I’d ever seen. He was the guy I imagined kissing when I jerked off. Well, it went back and forth between him and the High School Musical version of Zac Efron, but mostly it was Chance.

The truth was, we didn’t have much in common. We both loved riding bikes, running through the woods, and playing video games. But that’s where our similarities ended. I figured out pretty early on that I’d rather be in the kitchen with my mom helping her bake something or working on a craft project, or reading a book, rather than being out in the front yard throwing a football with my dad. I was all about reading and science and Chance Wyrick was all about sports… any sport, really. He was always the best one on the team, and it didn’t matter what kind of team it was.

Our differences didn’t seem to matter for a long time. We were pretty much inseparable until the previous year. It was inevitable that we would eventually separate. He started hanging out with the jocks and I started hanging out with the nerds. But after school on most days, it was like nothing had changed. He would just walk through my front door, go straight up to my bedroom, and we’d start playing video games. We still knew everything about each other’s life, we just stopped acknowledging each other at school.

Chance had his knees pulled up in front of him and was tracing some inconceivable pattern on the massive rock we were sitting on with a stick. I liked to think of it as our rock. It was the first place we came to every year as soon as we were done setting up camp. I wondered what he’d think if he knew how obsessed I was with him. I hadn’t told anyone I was gay. But I knew I was. There wasn’t a chance in hell I’d ever tell him. In fact, he was the last person I’d ever tell. He shook his head and tossed his stick in the water and looked over at me. His cheeks were red from the cold air and his big caramel eyes sparkled with golden flecks in them when he looked at me. I could feel my face turn red and I immediately looked down and started throwing pebbles in the river, hoping he couldn’t read my thoughts.

“You really going to homecoming with Marci Jenkins?” he asked.

I rolled my eyes. It wasn’t something I was excited about, but she made a big deal out of asking me and I felt bad saying no. “Yeah. I guess. Are you going with anyone?”

He cleared his throat. “I asked that new girl, Kara Watkins?”

“Yeah. I know who she is. Blonde, big tits, dance team.”

He laughed. “Yeah, she’s fucking hot, dude.”

I rolled my eyes again and felt a pang of red-hot jealousy hit me in the chest. It was our freshman year of high school and, so far, neither of us had much experience with girls. Chance had been too busy playing every sport known to man and, well, I was just me. I shouldn’t hate a girl I never talked to or met, but I did. That’s why I did my best in that moment to slut-shame her. “Yeah. I heard she made out with two different guys at Jake Holloway’s party. I also heard her parents caught her doing it with some older kid from Wilsonville and that’s why she had to come to school here.” Everything I said to him was pretty much a big lie, except the part about her making out with two guys at Jake’s party (I heard that part from Marci’s friend Shelly, a completely unreliable source). I felt a little sick to my stomach after I said it. It wasn’t like me to do something like that.

I looked over at him. His face was red. He shrugged. “I don’t think that’s true. I was at Jake’s party and she did make out with Matt Hoffner, but that’s it. She told Kerri Sidner that she didn’t like him. Supposedly, she likes me. I don’t know.”

I cleared my throat and kept chucking rocks in the river. “Well, I guess she does or she wouldn’t have said she’d go to the dance with you.”

“Yeah, I guess so. I’m pretty sure she’s gonna want to make out.”

A sarcastic snicker escaped my lips. “Most likely. So what?” I was trying not to be an asshole, but the whole idea of Chance making out with someone else pissed me off. I knew I was being completely irrational, but I couldn’t help it.

“So, I’ve never done it. Have you?”

I rolled my eyes. “What? Made out with someone?”

“Yeah?”

“Chance—this is me we’re talking about. No.”

“Well, do you think Marci will want to?”

I shrugged because I hadn’t really thought about it. “I don’t know. Maybe. Are you really worried about it?”

I looked over at him and his face was still red. “Fuck no.” He ran his fingers through his wild dark hair and sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe. Aren’t you? What if I fuck it up or I don’t know what I’m doin’ or something and she tells people?”

My eyes were completely focused on Chance’s lips and I don’t know what came over me but before I could stop myself I blurted out, “We could practice.”

His face was bright red and mine felt hot. I was sure I was redder than he was. Why did I just say that? He looked at me like I’d lost my mind. “With each other?” The way he said it sounded less like a legitimate question and more like a “Are you fucking kidding me?” rhetorical question.

But at that point I’d said it and I couldn’t take it back. “Yeah. I mean, who else could we practice with? If we did it first, it wouldn’t be as weird with the girls. It’s just an idea. You don’t have to get all freaked out about it.”

All of the sudden, I felt a stinging punch to my left arm. It hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but I wasn’t gonna tell Chance that. “Okay. Shit! Chill out. It was just an idea.”

Chance was quiet, and I was busy praying I could invent a time machine and go back to five minutes ago until he spoke again. “If we do this, dude, you can’t tell anybody.”

“Who the fuck am I gonna tell? It’s not exactly something I would want to go around broadcasting.”

The next thing I knew, he had scooted closer to me. “You be the girl. What should I do first?”

My heart was pounding. I kept wondering if the whole thing was really happening. I took a deep breath and took off my glasses and put them down on the rock beside me. “It’s not like I’m an expert or anything, but I think girls like it if you start with a regular kiss first—like soft and gentle.” Chance grabbed the back of my head and pressed his soft lips against mine for a few seconds and then pulled back.

“Like that?”

I swallowed hard. That was the first time I understood what it meant to have butterflies in your stomach. I rasped, “Yeah. Like that.”

His face was still red when he leaned in and kissed me again the same way. That time my lips parted and he slid his tongue inside my mouth. It was slow at first as our tongues explored, and then the kiss grew more urgent. It was the best thing I’d ever felt. At some point, I wrapped my hand around his neck and pulled him closer to me. I don’t know how long we were kissing. It could have been hours. It could have been minutes. All I knew was that I didn’t want to stop. It was better than I had ever imagined.  By the time he pulled away, I was out of breath and he was too. I could feel my dick straining against my jeans and I pulled my knees up to my chest, hoping he couldn’t tell I had a boner.

He wiped his hand over his face. “Do you think we did it right?”

I couldn’t help but grin. “Yeah. I think. I mean, it felt good, right?”

He ran his hands through his incredible dark hair. “Yeah. I mean… yeah, I think it was right.” He backhanded me across the chest. “Remember, nobody hears about this.”

I rolled my eyes and said, “Duh.” I really wanted to ask him to practice again, but I didn’t want to press my luck.

I knew I made the right call as soon as he jumped up. “Race you back to camp!” I watched him take off running and I put my glasses back on, got up, and jogged after him. There was no reason to try. Even if he gave me a thirty-second head start, I never would have beat him.

 

About the Author

Mary Esther Parker, a former attorney, is an up-and-coming new author who lives in Tennessee with her teenage daughter and a grumpy white-haired cat. She loves to read just about anything. When she is not reading, she is writing, painting, making home improvements, or drinking wine with her best friends. She has a B.A. in Political Science and a J.D. from the University of Tennessee. She likes writing sweet love stories that combine a lot of laughs, sometimes a few tears, ooey-gooey romance at its best, and a whole lot of steamy sex, and she believes that when you put those things all together in the right way, you get the perfect feel-good read, guaranteed to leave you smiling in the end. She believes love is love, romance is romance, and gender is irrelevant.  

 

Author Links

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Facebook

Twitter

 

 

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A MelanieM Release Day Review: The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Can two men find happiness in a country that doesn’t accept their love?

When Jack Calloway is transferred to his firm’s South Korean branch on Jeju Island, he’s assigned a valet, the beautiful but shy Song Woo-bin. He stirs feelings Jack has rarely experienced for another man, but everything seems to be against them—Jack is older and Song Woo-bin’s supervisor. He is just beginning to understand the new culture surrounding him even as he accepts his own desires for the first time, and Song Woo-bin is closeted, inexperienced, and estranged from his family. Their path to each other is full of obstacles and societal disapproval. Will the two men eventually come together amid the clash and complement of Eastern and Western culture… and find a home among the yuchae blossoms?

I have to say I was very conflicted when it came to writing my review for The Yuchae Blossom (World of Love) by Asher Quinn.  One, this is the author’s debut novel and I thought Quinn did a wonderful job with several elements here.  It’s those sections that really raised this story up for me.  Primarily, the Korean setting, the author’s knowledge of the south Korean culture, use of language and settings which added not only considerable depth but obvious affection to the story and characters.

It made me want to visit several places Quinn mentioned, and I spend time searching out pictures of places and dishes to better familiarize myself with a place that already felt like a destination I needed to fly to.

On top of that?  Amazing secondary Korean and American characters that I seriously treasured, from one grandmother housekeeper to an Assistant who needed to be wearing a cape.  They came off real, personable, and compelling in their own right.

No, unfortunately my struggle here was with the main character of Jack Calloway, who, although supposedly familiar with the region, acted with all the finesse of a bull in a china chop.  Angry, borish, rude, with little regard to the Korean customs and people working for him.  Yes that changed ….mostly.    But here is a man who had a sister in a committed lesbian relationship  but left his son to live with his bigoted parents (they wouldn’t let her partner come for the holidays) for three years while he was going to be living in South Korea getting his “project” underway.  Really? With all those assistants, and you are leaving your son with them?  It was one thing after another that just kept me from connecting with this man.  Even to the end, it was other people keeping him out of jail and suggesting ways to thwart the “evildoers”.  Smh!

Song Woo-bin on the other hand is a wonderful character, easy to relate to and someone who will grab onto your heart.   I wanted more of him, his backhistory, just more him, less Jack. The author never made a case for what Song saw in Jack.  Because all Jack did was yell, bluster, crash over the niceties of their culture.  To mix  national monsters…Jack came across as a bit of a American Godzilla. See?  Mixed bag.    Way too good for Jack.  Had the author been able to make the readers see exactly what made Jack so attractive to Soon Woo-bin I might have bought into the relationship and the “deep love” they said they had for each other.  But I never got it.

The  intolerant attitude towards homosexuality in South Korea is only lightly addressed and considering the role it played here, more  information should have been relayed about the current laws and cultural family framework that holds this society so tightly in reign.   Of course, maybe that’s asking too much of 162 pages and a light contemporary romance.

This is a coming out, sexual discovery story too for two men of two different cultures and that sort of got glossed over in favor of a “love almost at first sight” story.  As I said there is a  lot going on here.

So while I may not have fallen in love with Jack, I did with his household and its surroundings. Asher Quinn did a lovely job of bringing small parts of Southern Koren alive for me, along with several great characters.    I can’t wait to see what this author does next!

Cover Artist: Brooke Albrecht  Lovely cover with the character of Song Woo-bin and of course, the Yuchae Blossom of the title.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 162 pages
Expected publication: April 5th 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN139781644051924
Edition Language English

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

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

A Harrison Campus Story

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon

Book Details:

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

A MelanieM Review: To Be Honest (#lovehim #2) by S.M. James

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Angus Reid is pretty sure he’s being catfished.

After spending the last half of junior year talking online to the guy of his dreams, Angus wants to meet. In person. So when Scotty brushes it off with excuses of not being ready, red flags go up.

Determined to either catch Scotty out, or take a shot at real love, Angus embarks on a summer road trip with his adorkable roommate, Tyler. But as summer stretches on, and mixed messages fly between them, Angus finds his heart torn.

His potential catfisher?

Or his straight best friend?

And while their road trip takes them across the country, Angus is headed for one destination.

Either a happily ever after … or a broken heart.

Continuing that outstanding YA series #lovehim is To Be Honest (#lovehim #2) by S.M. James.  To be all fangyrl here, I heart them so much.

Angus Reid was mentioned in the first story, That Feeling When, as the only out person that  Archie Corrigan knew at the boarding school they both went too.  Angus is well liked,popular with every crowd and clique, masculine yet “gay” within Archie’s definitions at that time.  And it just added to Archie’s confusion.  Angus seemed to be everything Archie was not.  And  yes, Archie makes a couple of appearances here.

True to form and the writing of this amazing author, we find out that what you see is not what is laying deep underneath the surface.  Especially with teenagers.

I have never been much for YA stories until the last couple of years or so then a splendid number of just beautifully written coming of age, coming out stories brought me firmly back to this genre.  It takes such skill to bring out the hormonal, on the edge of….something…, the need to be more, to know more, part bravery, part fear and ignorance…it’s such a trying time to be a young human.  Being LGBT even more so. What a road of self discovery lies ahead.  S.M. James has proven themselves a master at giving their readers  deeply layered characters at that crucial stage of development and then pushing them off onto the path or in this case road of self discovery and love.

Angus and friend/roommate, Tyler, are poised on the brink of changes in their lives as their junior year is ending and summer approaches.  Angus will be moving into his own room at school as a senior, leaving Tyler behind, a profound change in their relationship neither has addressed.  Angus’ other bbf has broken up with her boyfriend again, seemingly for the last time, although Angus has his doubts.  And the person he has been chatting with online and wants to meet, won’t commit to meeting him.  Everything is topsy turvey….emotionally and mentally.

The story rolls out through the points of view of Angus,  as well as the texts between himself and Scotty, his online infatuation/love.

James makes Angus and Tyler so real, along with everything each of them is going through personally.  I felt as though I knew them both.  And that road trip that they take (the Maryland Hospitality House I can vouch for) turns out to be not only  a moving journey of self discovery but a great sightseeing tour of several states and locations.  Trust me I will never think of envelopes of dirt without wanting to add a sniffle or two.  The journey ends up profoundly changing both Angus, Tyler, and the readers.

The question of course as to who Scotty is will be quickly answered by most of you.  No, it was how everything was going to play out, what was going to be the overall picture here. What happens, not only to Angus and Tyler but to several others in the picture as well.

S.M. James pulls you into life at this school and the young people living there.  It’s the Community  Boards that pop up and the people that use them.  It’s the entire universe this author is creating and then populating that has me addicted.

I still have a couple of books to go.  But those that i have read?  I highly recommend them all.  They are moving, gorgeously written, and tremendous characters and great plots. Pick them all up today.

Cover art is amazing.  Bright and perfect down to the sneakers propped up on the dashboard as the car goes down the road.

Sales Links: Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 386 pages
Published November 15th 2018 by May Books
ASINB07GKF8H22
Edition Language English
Series #lovehim #2

That Feeling When

No Big Deal

An Ashlez Audio Review: Road of No Return: Hounds of Valhalla MC (Sex & Mayhem #1) by K.A. Merikan and Wyatt Baker (Narrator)

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Rating – 2 stars out of 5

— Don’t talk to strangers. —

Zak. Tattoo artist. Independent. Doesn’t do relationships.

Stitch. Outlaw biker. Deep in the closet. Doesn’t share his property.

On the day of Stitch’s divorce, lust personified enters the biker bar he’s celebrating at. Tattooed all over, pierced, confident, and hot as hellfire, Zak is the bone Stitch has waited for life to throw him. All Stitch wants is a sniff, a taste, a lick. What follows instead is gluttony of the most carnal sort, and nothing will ever be the same. Forced to hide his new love affair from the whole world, Stitch juggles family, club life, and crime, but it’s only a matter of time until it becomes too hard.

Zak moves to Lake Valley in search of peace and quiet, but when he puts his hand into the jaws of a Hound of Valhalla, life gets all but simple. In order to be with Stitch, Zak’s biker wet dream, he has to crawl right back into the closet. As heated as the relationship is, the secrets, the hiding, the violence, jealousy, and conservative attitudes in the town rub Zak in all the wrong ways. When pretending he doesn’t know what his man does becomes impossible, Zak needs to decide if life with an outlaw biker is really what he wants.

As club life and the love affair collide, all that’s left in Zak and Stitch’s life is mayhem.

 I had a few issues with this book, overall it was nice and filthy – lots of loving.  There were some points I hated .. the use of the word “fag” was very prominent and I found it a huge turn off.  I can’t express that enough, I get that it’s a hardened biker book but the CONSTANT use of the word was just too much for me.  The warning says homophobia which like I said, expected in this context but the WORD always used, downer.
I listened to this book in audio format, for which I’m both grateful and not, perhaps the previous word that was used to often wouldn’t have been as strong had I read the words instead of heard them – I didn’t mind the narrator, he had a few moments of over the top biker growling going on, but overall was well read!
Cover – 100% fitting , and very nice.. who doesn’t like leather
Sales Link:  Amazon | Audible
Audio Book Details:
Length: 11 hrs and 25 mins
Audible Audio, 12 pages
Published January 19th 2019 by Acerbi&Villani ltd. (first published July 17th 2014)
Original TitleRoad of No Return
ASINB07MWHTTWF
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesSex & Mayhem #1, Sex & Mayhem (DE editions) #1, Serie Sex & Mayhem (IT editions) #5 , more
CharactersZac Richardson, Thor ‘Stitch’ Larsen

Love to Listen to Your Romances? Check Out in the Deep (Out in College #1) by Lane Hayes and Michael Pauley (Narrator)

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Both Now Available in Audio!

Title: Out in the Deep, Out in College #1
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 17th, 2019
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 4 hrs and 34 mins
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Water Polo, Coming out

Add to Goodreads
Listen to an Excerpt & Purchase at Audible

Synopsis

Derek Vaughn is a little too serious. He’s a type A control personality with a penchant for order and a love of water polo. But he’s determined to enjoy his last year of college. The real world with a serious job and big expectations can wait for a few months. He’s going soak up every minute on campus with his friends and teammates before he moves on. The only possible kink in his plan is the new guy on the team… also known as his nemesis.

Gabe Chadwick has big Olympic dreams. His transfer between Southern California universities has nothing to do with scholastics. The degree is his backup plan. He’s not there to party or make friends. And he certainly isn’t going to announce his sexuality. But he can’t deny there’s something special about the uptight team captain. However, when an unwitting friendship and mutual attraction collide, both will have to decide if this is the real thing or if they’re about to lose it all in the deep.


Title
: Out in the End Zone, Out in College #2
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Narrated by: Michael Pauley
Release Date: January 23rd, 2019
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 4 hrs and 58 mins
Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

Add to Goodreads
Listen to an Excerpt & Purchase at Audible

Synopsis

Evan di Angelo is an upbeat, good-natured goofball who loves his friends and family… and football. A traumatic accident may have ended his hopes of playing professionally, but he’s made the most of his four years on the field at a small Southern California college. He’s learned the hard way to embrace change, take chances and try things outside of his comfort zone…like agreeing to play fake boyfriends for someone else’s senior project.

Mitch Peterson knows that being his authentic self is the path to true happiness. He’s grown from a shy, quiet kid from a broken home to an out and proud budding internet sensation bound for grad school. An awesome senior project is the key. It’s unlikely anyone will believe the hunky, straight athlete is Mitch’s new lover, but it’s worth a shot. However, as their tentative friendship blossoms into unexpected attraction, the lines between reality and fiction blur for both men. Evan is forced to face old demons and decide if he has the courage to take the next step and come out in the end zone.

 

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

Meet the Narrator

Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on Audible.com. He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children’s book.

Fans of Michael’s narration are welcome to follow him on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

If you are interested in working with Michael to produce your next audio book, you can contact him directly at voice@michaelpauley.info

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Love Coming Out Romance Stories? Check out ‘Out in the Offense (Out in College #3) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Out in the Offense

Series: Out in College #3

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: January 10, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 54k

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Football, Coming out

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

Excerpt

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked, setting my backpack on one of the two barstools at the narrow counter space.

“Nope. As soon as the veggies are sautéed, we’ll be ready to eat. Want something to drink?”

“Yes, please. Water is fine. Where’s Buttons?”

Rory pulled a water bottle from the small fridge behind him and handed it over, then pointed at a basket next to the sofa.

“She’s hiding behind that basket. She’ll make an appearance if she decides you’re worthy. In the meantime, there’s bread in that basket on the counter next to your bag. Help yourself. I’ll bring dinner out.”

I thanked him, then twisted the cap from the water bottle and took a generous sip before rounding the corner in search of the bread. I was ravenous. I bit into the baguette with gusto before turning to check out my surroundings.

Rory’s apartment was tiny. Probably half the size of mine and much older. But unlike the rough exterior, it was…pleasant. Surprisingly so. A short wall delineated the narrow kitchen from the main living area. There was just enough room for a sofa, an ottoman, a TV console, and a smallish television. Two barstools were tucked under the small peninsula by the cut-out in the kitchen wall. The palette was basic “dude”…dark leather against stark white walls, though a large red throw rug anchored the room and provided a nice splash of color. It was simple—but tidy and very clean.

“Your place is cool,” I commented when he entered the room, carrying two plates and a large bowl.

“Thanks. Let’s sit on the sofa. We have more room to eat there,” he said decisively as he set his burden on the coffee table. “Help yourself. I’ll get some forks, napkins, and extra veggies.”

I obeyed and quickly got to work, scooping chicken fettucine Alfredo onto both plates. Rory joined me a minute later, handing over the silverware before taking a seat next to me. I shot a bashful sideways glance at him as I reached for a napkin.

“Do you eat like this every night?”

“It’s really nothing special. I make sauces in bulk and freeze them. Then it’s just a matter of adding protein and veggies. By the way, this Alfredo is a healthy version. If you want to drown it in parmesan, feel free. I won’t be offended. Cheers.” He tapped his water bottle against mine and winked.

“Cheers. And thanks again. This is incredible and very unexpected.” I smiled as I twisted the pasta around my fork.

“You’re welcome. You sounded anxious, but you said we’re cool. Are we?”

“Of course.”

Rory tilted his head and shot me a challenging look. “Then kiss me.”

“Um…now?”

“Yeah, now. The other night could have been a fluke. Instead of wondering, let’s get it over with. One kiss should be enough to tell. C’mere,” he commanded, leaning sideways.

I set my fork down and met him halfway until our noses brushed. Then I waited for him to make the next move. He stayed stubbornly still. When I couldn’t stand the growing tension, I pressed my lips to his. And wow…amazing.

Rory was a great kisser. He had the simple art of give-and-take down to a science. He molded his mouth to mine and gently pushed his tongue inside. The connection was sweet but bold. It was more about discovery than possession. I hummed as I snaked my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He sucked my tongue, then bit my bottom lip playfully before pulling back.

“Definitely not a fluke,” he said with a devilish grin.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads |Amazon

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for You Forever Always by KA Merikan

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited.
 
Length: 50,000 word approx.
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Underdogs Series 
 
Book #1 – Manic Pixie Dream Boy – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Just Here For The Pain – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb

 

—Years of loving in secret. Now the secret’s out.—



Mage. Reasonable. Mature. In love with his best friend’s little brother.
Dawn. Painfully shy. Crazy talented. An anxious cinnamon roll in need of protection.


Mage has always been Dawn’s hero. He’s been there for him when Dawn was bullied, when Dawn came out, and when he joined The Underdogs. He’s also been Dawn’s first and only love—painfully unrequited, since Mage is straight. But that’s only for the better, because they’re bandmates, and Dawn’s brother is Mage’s best friend.


It would all be too intense, too complicated, too real.


But then one drunken kiss proves Mage might not be as straight as he seemed, and their whole world turns upside down. Even though Dawn craves Mage’s love so much his heart could burst, his shyness stands in the way of any future they could share.


While they have to keep their budding relationship under wraps and they prepare to sign a major record deal, Dawn’s anxiety gets out of control. Mage will have to choose between the success he’s always craved and the love of his life.


POSSIBLE SPOILERS:
Themes: rock band, bandmates romance, older brother’s best friend, coming out, bisexuality, first love, anxiety, compromise, music, secret love
Genre: Contemporary M/M Rocker Romance
Heat level: sweet, explicit scenes
Length: ~50,000 words (Can be read as standalone, HEA)

K.A. Merikan are a team of writers who try not to suck at adulting, with some success. Always eager to explore the murky waters of the weird and wonderful, K.A. Merikan don’t follow fixed formulas and want each of their books to be a surprise for those who choose to hop on for the ride.


K.A. Merikan have a few sweeter M/M romances as well, but they specialize in the dark, dirty, and dangerous side of M/M, full of bikers, bad boys, mafiosi, and scorching hot romance.


FACEBOOK PROFILE
K.A. MERIKAN’S TWITTER (RUN BY KAT)
AGNES MERIKAN’S TWITTER
K.A. MERIKAN ON GOODREADS
PINTEREST
M/F ROMANCE BY MISS MERIKAN

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