Release Tour for A World Apart by Mel Gough (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A World Apart

Author: Mel Gough

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 18, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 51900

Genre: Contemporary, NineStar Press, LGBT, drugs, HIV, AIDS, TB, familial abuse. Bi, gay. alcoholism, hurt/comfort, law enforcement

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~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Mel Gough ~

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

I like to write about medical issues, so I do a lot of research on that. I’ve got a basic understanding of medicine because I started a degree course in biomedical studies. I can usually pick out a topic I want to explore based on my previous knowledge, and then I go and read up on in in detail. Usually I use the internet, in particular to find out about medicines. I use places like WebMD, drugs.com and the NHS website. I like to write about people who are degree-educated, a little bit intellectual, and bookish. Though I step outside that comfort zone with relish: Donnie, in particular, is very much not like that, yet I still love writing him.

Because I prefer writing about Americans, there’s a very real ‘voice’ challenge. I try and watch TV programs and films that are set in the area of the US my stories are set. For ‘A World Apart’ it’s of course perfect that I’m rewatching The Walking Dead whenever I can! Right now I’m watching The Wire and Law & Order, because one of my characters in the book I’m writing is am NYPD cop originally from Baltimore.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

I don’t really like making up titles. I love the design process (basically me telling someone else what to do lol). And character names are fun. There are great tools to make silly names with.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

I tell people I write gay romance. If they want to hear more, then I don’t hold back. I’ve decided that I can talk openly about what kind of books I write since I’m very lucky to live in a very liberal, progressive place where LGBTQI issues are topics anyway. And I talk about fanfiction, too. The stigma has mostly disappeared over the last few years.

Synopsis

Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police Department—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.

Excerpt

A World Apart
Mel Gough © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department. He glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench and staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. The man’s strawberry-blond hair was disheveled, falling low over his forehead and brushing his reddish eyelashes as his eyes flicked up nervously at Ben. He looked to be in his mid-thirties. One knee was jiggling nervously, and his jaw worked as if he was biting the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

“That guy was driving the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run yesterday,” Lou, the gray-haired desk clerk, said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the captain.”

Just that moment, the door to the inner sanctum of the station opened, and Jason Browne strode out of Captain Buckley’s office. The sleeves of his uniform were rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms.

“How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his gray eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school, that was never a good combination. Ben gave Jason a long look, then shrugged.

“As expected.” He didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect the defendant’s words had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.

“You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured toward the handcuffed man, who was staring at the floor again. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he was none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

“Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily.

Jason nodded, smirking.

“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” Saunders suddenly muttered, his dark voice shaking slightly with suppressed anger. “Told y’all I wasn’t in town.”

Jason sighed, folding his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

Ben frowned at his partner. They had been in the radio car on their usual route the day before when the call about a hit-and-run near Corinth High had come over dispatch. O’Donnell and Myers, the department’s other two sergeants, had been closest and responded to the call. Last night, back at the station, O’Donnell had told them that the boy had a broken leg from being flung off his bike, but that he would undoubtedly survive. There really was no need for Jason to be so aggressive about the issue.

Saunders suddenly sat up straight on the bench, glaring at Jason. “It wasn’t me! Why’re ya not listenin’?” His dark blue eyes were wide with fury.

Ben, knowing Jason’s thought processes and impulses nearly as well as his own, stepped in his partner’s way. Gaze fixed on his friend, he said loud enough for Lou and any bystanders to hear, “Why don’t you and I take Mr. Saunders through to the interrogation room for a statement?” He put special emphasis on the last words, hoping Jason would get his meaning: Anything other than a polite request for an official statement from the suspect would be out of order at this point.

Taking Jason’s reluctant jerk of the head as assent, Ben turned around, intending to escort Saunders to the interrogation room. But as soon as his back was turned, Jason stepped nimbly around him and grabbed the man hard by the upper arm.

Saunders flinched, but Jason’s grip on him was like a vise. Saunders’s eyes met Ben’s, and there was pure animal fear in them, as well as something Ben couldn’t quite place. Anguish, perhaps?

He stepped up close behind Jason. “If you dislocate his shoulder there’ll be an awful lot of paperwork to fill in for both of us, brother.” Ben kept his voice quiet and even, but Jason knew him well enough to detect the steely undertone. After a moment, Jason huffed, then let go of Saunders and took a step back. There were finger-shaped marks on Saunders’s well-defined bicep, just below the rolled-up sleeve.

Now Ben stepped forward, and Saunders looked at him. He was still breathing fast, but the fear was beginning to fade from the indigo blue eyes.

Ben motioned at Saunders to stand, then pointed down the corridor. “Would you come this way, please?”

Good cop, bad cop. Ben really hated playing this game, but Jason had left him no choice. Saunders got up. He was no taller than Ben, who just about scraped five foot ten. Jason towered over them both, still glowering. Saunders gave him a quick, disgusted look, then preceded Ben down the dreary-gray hallway, handcuffed arms held stiffly behind him. As Ben followed, he noticed that Saunders’s shoulders were unusually broad for a man his height.

At the door to the interrogation room, Ben let Jason draw ahead. He followed the two men inside and closed the door. Jason approached Saunders, who had backed up against the one-way mirror.

“Turn around,” Jason said gruffly.

Saunders ignored him and stared straight at the bottle-green linoleum floor. Ben spoke before Jason could get angry again. “Sir, the sergeant will move the handcuffs to the front so you can sit down more comfortably.” The indigo blue eyes that met Ben’s were still full of mistrust, but after a moment, they softened and Saunders turned obediently.

“Sit,” Jason said when he had shackled Saunders’s arms again in the front. Saunders sat down heavily in the single chair on one side of the square floor-bolted table. Ben and Jason took the two chairs opposite.

Leaning forward, Ben waited until he had the suspect’s attention. “Do you mind if we record this conversation?”

“Yer arresting me?” The narrow blue eyes were suspicious again, but Saunders sounded more wary than belligerent. And he completely ignored Jason, his gaze never wavering from Ben.

“No, we’re not,” Ben said quietly. “But having a record of what we talk about will aid your cause.”

Saunders chewed this over, trying to decide whether Ben was telling the truth. Eventually he gave a small shrug.

“Sir,” Ben said. “Please state for the protocol: Do you mind if we record this conversation?” Forcing the police procedural on this man was surprisingly distressing. Saunders gave him a pained look.

“Go ‘head.”

Jason pressed the digital recorder button on the small panel in the tabletop to his right. But it was Ben who spoke again. When they interrogated a suspect together, Ben usually started off the interview. His milder, calmer demeanor tended to relax the atmosphere better than Jason’s hot temper. For now, Jason seemed to have gotten all his anger out by playing scary cop in front of Lou and sat quietly back in his chair.

“Statement protocol, September twenty-second, eleven forty-five a.m. Officers present: Sergeant Ben Griers and Sergeant Jason Browne.” Ben nodded at the suspect. “Please state your full name for the record, sir.”

“Donnie Saunders.” The man’s voice was quiet, and he sounded tired.

Ben waited for Saunders to look at him again, and nodded his thanks. Then he glanced at Jason, eyebrows raised, reminding his partner with his most level stare to act appropriately. “Officer Browne will now ask you a few questions.”

“Alright,” Jason said. Ben took this as the opening of the interview and an affirmation that he would stay calm. “Mr. Saunders, your pickup truck was seen driving away after hitting Dennis Mallory on his bike while he was riding home after school yesterday afternoon at about three thirty p.m.”

“I told y’all three times now, it wasn’t me. Why is it that ya can’t hear me?” Saunders’s voice had risen again in volume, but there was a strange quiver in it, too. He leaned back in his chair as far as he could, regarding Jason from eyes narrowed in anger.

Before Jason, who looked ready to explode again, could respond, Ben said quickly, “Let’s rephrase the question: Sir, where were you yesterday at three thirty p.m.?”

Saunders didn’t immediately reply. His eyes darted nervously around the room, never meeting Ben’s, and ignoring Jason completely. Then they settled on the shackled, tightly folded hands in his lap.

Is he trying to come up with a lie?

Eventually, Saunders said, “Was in Atlanta. Had an appointment at the DFCS.” His voice was very quiet, and he didn’t look up. It didn’t sound like a lie, but a truth the man was reluctant to share.

Ben decided not to press for details. It was none of his business why the guy had been summoned to the Division of Family and Children Services. As long as he could determine that Saunders had been forty miles away from the scene of the hit-and-run, he had done his job.

“I need to know who you were there to see,” Ben said just as quietly, and wasn’t surprised when his gaze was met with one of suspicion again. He added in explanation, “A phone call to the person you had the appointment with will clear you.”

Saunders gave a small jerk of the head in understanding. “Stacy Miller.”

“Thank you.” Ben looked at Jason, considering his options. Could he leave these two alone for a few minutes? His partner’s steely gaze never wavered from Saunders, and Ben could feel Jason’s tension. But if he told Jason to make the phone call, would he try very hard to get at the truth? No, Ben would have to call the DFCS himself. He’d just be really quick about it.

“Jason, stay with Mr. Saunders. I’m going to call Ms. Miller.”

Not waiting for Jason’s acknowledgment, or asking permission from Saunders to make the call on his behalf, Ben got up and left the room. He went back to the front desk. “Lou, find me the number for Atlanta DFCS.”

The desk clerk looked grumpy for a moment but then started hacking away at his keyboard without a word. Finally he picked up the phone, dialed a number, and held the receiver out to Ben.

“DFCS switchboard,” a tinny voice announced in Ben’s ear. “How can I help?”

“Stacy Miller, please,” Ben said, ignoring Lou, who was trying hard to look like he wasn’t listening in.

“Hold the line.”

Ben half turned away while he listened to the annoying phone queue music. After a few moments, there was a click and a crisp voice said, “Medicaid assessment team. How can I help you?”

“Is this Stacy Miller?”

“It is. Who’s asking?”

“Ms. Miller, this is Sergeant Ben Griers, Corinth PD. Did a man by the name of Donnie Saunders have an appointment with you yesterday afternoon?” Ben mentally crossed his fingers that the mention of his rank would suffice to elicit this piece of fairly innocuous information. Legally, he had no leg to stand on, but his experience had taught him that a courteous yet firm manner often got you surprisingly far.

And his experience held true again. After only a moment, the woman on the other end said, “Yes, he did.”

“And he attended?”

“Yes.”

“What time was his appointment?”

“Three p.m. But we were running late, so I think I started with him around three fifteen.”

“And how long was he there for?”

“About forty-five minutes. Officer, is Mr. Saunders alright?”

That was a surprising question. State employees usually had no time or interest to worry about the hundreds of people that passed by their desks every week. But then, here Ben was himself, trying to help Saunders as well, as quickly and with as little delay as possible. Maybe some of us do still care.

“He’s fine. Ma’am, if I were to check your office’s visitor register for yesterday, would the record back up your statement?”

“It would,” Ms. Miller said composedly. “And you’d find a parking permit in Mr. Saunders’s name as well. We don’t have much space out front, so clients get timed permits for the parking lot at the back.”

That was more than good enough for Ben. “Thank you for your time, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome, Officer. Have a good day.”

“And you.”

Ben put the phone down, nodded at Lou, and swiftly turned his back before the desk clerk could make a comment or ask any questions.

As he walked down the corridor toward the interrogation room, Ben’s mind was on the phone call, even as he kept telling himself that, beyond establishing a suspect’s alibi, what he had just learned was none of his business. But he couldn’t help wondering about it. Why had Saunders gone to the Medicaid office? He didn’t look ill. Of course, there were a dozen possible reasons. A sick family member. An old injury that no insurance would cover. Or even trying to get at some extra state assistance for no good reason at all. None of this was relevant to the case, and as he reached the interrogation room, Ben tried his best to push the thoughts from his mind.

He opened the door but didn’t rejoin the other two at the table. “Mr. Saunders, your alibi for yesterday afternoon was confirmed by Ms. Miller. You’re free to leave.”

Jason looked around at Ben, scowling. Ben ignored his partner and kept his eyes on Saunders, who, after a fleeting look of surprise, raised his shackled wrists. “Ya gonna let me keep them as a souvenir?”

Surprisingly, he didn’t sound aggrieved. Ben had been prepared for righteous indignation and anger, and wouldn’t have blamed the man for it. But Saunders just sat there, looking kind of tired and defeated. He held his arms out without comment as Jason leaned over with the handcuff keys. Once he was free, Saunders got up and, without a glance at Jason, walked toward the door. When he drew level with Ben, he stopped, eyes on the floor in front of him.

“Thanks,” he muttered quietly, then strode out of the room.

Ben glanced after Saunders as the man continued down the hall, shoulders hitched, face averted from the people milling around the lobby. A strange sensation rose up in him. Was it pity? He tried to tell himself that it was only natural to take an interest, feel something, after what Jason had put this man through without a single good reason.

And for Ben, the whole thing wasn’t over yet. Turning to his partner with a scowl, he asked, “Why were you so sure it was him? You practically had him convicted already.”

Jason shrugged. “Witness said they saw a dark brown pickup, same as Saunders has. And today, he was just sort of hanging around the gas station on Fullerton. Thought we should check him out.”

“Did you have anything else to go on? Description of the driver, partial number plate, anything?”

“Nope.”

Jason sounded smug, and Ben had to take a deep breath to keep his voice level. “Did he maybe behave in a suspicious manner?”

“Maybe,” Jason agreed as he got up. In Jason-speak that meant: Just didn’t like the look of the dude.

Jason sometimes got like this; he was all guts and instinct and reaction. That had its uses in policing, too, and Ben usually made excuses for his friend’s hot-headedness, because it mostly came from the right place in his heart. But somehow, this time he couldn’t. Maybe it had happened one time too many. Or maybe, because this time Jason’s ire had focused on a completely innocent party, he’d simply rubbed Ben the wrong way.

As he followed Jason out of the room, Ben hissed, “Since this was your party, brother, you can write it up for the captain as well, alright?” This would annoy Jason more than anything. He hated writing reports.

Without another word, Ben strode past the other man and out into the parking lot. He needed a moment to calm down or else he might well punch his partner and best friend in the face before the day was done.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.

If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.

Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.

In her day job, Mel works for an NGO as operations manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

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Tour Schedule

9/18 Divine Magazine

9/18 My Fiction Nook

9/18 Stories That Make You Smile

9/19 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

9/19 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

9/19 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

9/19 Zipper Rippers

9/20 Happily Ever Chapter

9/20 Outrageous Heroes of Romance

9/21 Bayou Book Junkie

9/21 Drops of Ink

9/21 Love Bytes

9/22 MM Good Book Reviews

9/22 Xtreme Delusions

Giveaway

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In addition Mel Gough has the following giveaways for our readers to enter:

A giveaway for her book release.
As well as a couple of giveaways during Mel Gough’s Facebook launch party. Please visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/116042149068904/

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Release Blitz for Fate Heats Things Up by Sarah Hadley Brook (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Fate Heats Things Up

Author: Sarah Hadley Brook

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 18, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 15600

Genre: Contemporary, NineStar Press, LGBT, bartenders, firemen, contemporary

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Synopsis

Scott Dwyer meets hot, new fireman Adrian Campbell in an embarrassing incident one evening and can’t stop thinking about him. While bartending at the local hangout for Station 39, he sees Adrian with this colleagues about once a week. He thinks Adrian might be interested in him, too, but every time they find a chance to talk, something gets in their way.

When rash of arson fires begins the same week Adrian starts at the station, the rumors fly about whether or not he is responsible for them.

Things are heating up in town, but will they heat up between the two men as well? Will Fate ever allow them to be together?

Excerpt

Fate Heats Things Up
Sarah Hadley Brook © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Tonight has to be the night, Scott swore to himself as he wiped down the long wooden bar top and snuck a glance at the entrance once more. He should have been here by now.

A strong hand clapped him on the shoulder, startling him out of his thoughts.

“You wouldn’t by any chance be looking for Adrian, would you?”

Scott narrowed his eyes and tried his best to glare at his boss, but when Tony only laughed, he knew he had failed miserably. He shrugged and tried to ignore the blush he knew was spreading across his face. “Why would you think that?” he asked, attempting to sound blasé.

“I’ve got eyes, don’t I, kid?” Tony gave Scott’s shoulder a quick squeeze before letting go. “You’ve been mooning over that man for the last month.”

Scott swallowed hard and silently chastised himself. He had been so sure he’d hidden his crush from everyone. Apparently not.

The bell over the door chimed, and before he could stop himself, he looked over at the double glass entry doors. His hope was short-lived, though, because it wasn’t Adrian. The chuckle he heard irked him, and he spun around to face his boss.

“For your information, Tony, I had already decided to do something about it tonight,” he huffed, irritation gnawing at him.

“And what would that something be?”

“I’m going to ask him out,” Scott admitted, pinning his gaze on Tony, just daring him to tease him again.

“Well, all right then! It’s about time, kid,” Tony proclaimed and grinned before heading toward the back room.

Scott couldn’t help it. He smiled back, shaking his head. When he’d first started working at the bar, it had irritated him that Tony called him a kid. He was twenty-five years old, for Pete’s sake. By the time he had a few days at Smokey’s under his belt, he’d realized that Tony referred to pretty much everyone under the age of thirty as a kid, so he’d stopped taking it personally.

He agreed with his boss—it was definitely time to do something about Adrian Campbell, and Scott was going to put it all out on the line this very night, even if the thought scared the shit out of him. Adrian should be arriving with his group of friends any second, just as he had been doing for the last few weeks. Scott felt a flutter in his stomach and tried to shake away the nerves by getting back to work. The bar would be filled with customers soon, and he still had to get some things done. The last thing he needed was to give in to his anxiety.

Of course, if the past was any indicator, he would be smart to worry. From the very first time he’d met Adrian, something had always seemed to prevent them from getting together.

That night, Scott had left a friend’s house and was heading home in his piece-of-shit car, as he lovingly referred to his 1989 Acura. It was late and he was on a dark, narrow, and winding two-lane road with no streetlights. Even the nearly full moon had been partially hidden behind some clouds. Dense woods butted up to the road on both sides for miles and oversized branches bowed out over the cars.

As he turned into another sharp curve, his tire rolled over something. His car lurched and the sound of dragging metal on concrete hissed out into the dark.

What the hell is that? He’d pulled his foot off the gas and turned his music down. He’d checked his rearview mirror and gasped at what he saw. Three massive shapes were barreling toward his car. The brake light cast a red glow on the moving figures, and his mind instantly flashed to all the horror movies he had watched over the years.

“Shit!”

He looked around frantically and realized there was nothing to do but floor it. He had no idea who they were or why the maniacs were chasing him in the dark, but he wasn’t about to stick around and find out. When he stepped on the gas, the screeching sound grew louder and his car jerked hard, just before a loud crunching noise echoed into the night. Crap! Was that my tire?

He’d frozen, unsure what to do. Did he try to keep driving? Should he continue on or pull over? He could hear his father’s voice in his head lecturing him on how he’d destroyed his car by not stopping. That did it. Scott had been more terrified of what his father would say than the chance of being murdered, and he pulled over, even though he knew it was probably the most idiotic thing he had ever done in his life. In any horror movie, this would be when the audience screamed at him to get the hell out of there, but it didn’t change his mind. As he set the brake, he glanced in the mirror again. The figures had gained ground on him and by this time were easier to see. All three appeared to be wearing matching long coats and boots, like a uniform of some kind. There was something familiar about them. One more glance and his heart dropped to his stomach.

Fuck! They were firemen and they looked furious. What the hell was going on? Relieved they weren’t three crazy escaped convicts that were roaming the woods looking for someone to kill, he rolled his window down. They were obviously pissed, but he was fairly certain he wouldn’t be murdered.

“Fucking lunatic!”

“Do you have any idea what you just did?”

Hmm. He reconsidered his escaped convicts theory. They weren’t making any sense. Scott tried to speak, but two of them just wouldn’t let him get a word in. They were screaming at him through the window while the third guy was crouching next to his front tire.

“All right, I’ve got it.” The guy by the tire stood up with something in his hand. “Here, Hernandez, take this back to the fire and see what you can do with it.”

Scott looked at the two men at his window and swallowed hard. “Um, did he say fire?”

“Yeah, you idiot! You ran over a coupling and dragged the damn fire hose down the road and out of our hands! Tore it off the fucking hose!”

“A what? I don’t understand,” Scott said, bewildered. He raked his fingers through his hair and shifted uncomfortably in his seat as he darted his eyes between the two angry men. “What did I do again?”

Apparently, they were done screaming because they just glared at him.

“Guys, go on. I’ll catch up with you in a minute. I need to get some information for our report.”

Scott slid his gaze over to the third man again. Even in the dark, it was easy to see he was good-looking. Tall. Scott liked tall men.

The other two turned to leave.

“Fucking idiot. Could have killed someone,” Hernandez muttered.

Scott was mortified and started to shake. “I’m…I’m so sorry,” he said as he climbed out of his car and moved to talk with the only man still there. “How did I…I mean…fuck, I don’t know what I mean.” He ran his hands through his shaggy blond hair. “I don’t even know what a…what did he call it?”

“A coupling,” the fireman explained, his deep voice calm and reassuring. “It connects two hoses together when we need to lengthen the line. The house we’re working on is really far off the road.”

“Oh my God, is there anyone in it? Shit, what if someone dies because of me?” Scott felt sick and doubled over, fighting the urge to vomit. A full-blown panic attack was brewing up inside him.

“Hey, it’s fine.” The fireman moved closer and put his hand on the small of Scott’s back. “It’s an abandoned house. A really old, ramshackle house. Nobody lives there, so don’t worry. Just breathe through it. You didn’t hurt anyone. Hell, to be honest, this was as much our fault as yours.”

The fireman began to rub his large hand in small circles on his back, calming him down and at the same time sending warmth spreading through him. “What do you mean?” he whispered.

“I mean that Sanders shouldn’t have hooked up the lines in the street. We pulled the firetruck pretty far off the road and we hadn’t set out cones or lights around the area yet. But I’m new here, so I can’t really tell him he was wrong. For some reason, he left it there and went to check on the hydrant and then you hit it and dragged it down the damn road!” He chuckled a little as he drew his hand away from Scott’s back. “Shit. Never seen that happen before.”

Scott cleared his throat and pulled himself to a standing position, leaning his hip against his car.

“You feeling better?”

Scott nodded and started to reply, but as soon as their gazes met, his breath hitched in his throat. Shit. The man was gorgeous. Deep chocolate-brown eyes stared back at him and Scott couldn’t tear himself away.

“I’m Adrian. Adrian Campbell,” he said as he offered a hand to Scott.

He swallowed hard and shook Adrian’s hand. “Scott Dwyer.” Electricity jolted through his body as if he had touched a live wire, and Scott yanked his hand back.

Adrian quirked an eyebrow at him but kept silent.

“Um, yeah. I should be going. Thanks for…well, thanks. Sorry about the…the hose thing,” Scott stammered as he opened his door. “Wait…should I drive my car?”

“Yeah, the tire’s fine. The coupling and hose were dragged but then it looks like the coupling banged around in the wheel well for a bit.”

“Okay. Thanks. I don’t know a lot about mechanical things,” Scott admitted as he turned back to his car.

“Hey, Scott?”

“Yeah?” Scott looked at Adrian.

“Do you live or work around town?”

Scott smiled tentatively. Why was he asking? Could Adrian be attracted to him? “Yeah, actually both. I have an apartment in the center of town—over Gina’s Pizza Oven. And I bartend at Smokey’s Bar & Grill.”

“Smokey’s? The guys were telling me about that place. Said they all hang out there pretty often.”

“Yeah, they do. It’s sort of Station 39’s hangout. The owner, Tony, used to be a fireman.”

“Campbell! Get your ass over here!”

Adrian grinned. “Guess they need me. The fire was almost completely out by the time you dragged the hose, but I better get going. See you around, Scott.”

Damn. Scott tried to hide his disappointment as he nodded and slid into his seat. He checked his rearview mirror and was frustrated that he couldn’t see Adrian. Either it was too dark or he had moved too far out of vision. He shook his head and tried to ignore his intense longing to have Adrian touch him again. It had struck him that maybe fate had brought them together. As he drove off that night, he wondered how soon he would see Adrian again. He’d never really believed in fate before, but something told Scott it wouldn’t be long before they connected again.

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

Meet the Author

Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the non-profit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures up in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity to live. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.

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TOUR: Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane (excerpt and giveway)

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Title:  Whitecott Manor

Author: Emma Jane

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65300

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, NineStar Press, LGBT, contemporary, British, paranormal, intrigue, family-drama, ghosts, friends to lovers, humor

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Synopsis

Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Excerpt

Whitecott Manor
Emma Jane © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Once I was aware of the cuts, they stung like a bitch. I should’ve worn gloves, really, but it’s so much easier not to. I was almost finished anyway, and the Harpers’ rose borders were nearly ready. They’d look beautiful when they flowered in the summer—they always did. White and red rose blooms flanked the path to the tennis court. I just had one last bush to prune and then I could stop for a cuppa. The cuts were itching now too, right where the thorns had snagged and ripped my skin. I sucked the flesh between my thumb and index finger, tasting blood and mud, and stood there, secateurs in hand, watching the house.

It was a fifteenth-century manor—a beautiful listed building made from warm-yellow stone. It’d been revamped inside, a strange mixture of modern and ancient, and was currently—unfortunately, in my opinion—on the market. I didn’t want it to sell; I didn’t want to lose my job. The Harpers assured me that whoever bought the place would keep me on but, well, it wasn’t down to them.

I took my hand from my mouth and watched as the estate agent led a middle-aged couple from their car—some sort of old classic; light blue with a soft-top—to the front of the manor. Even at this distance, I could see the look on their faces as they gazed up at the building before entering. They loved it already. Everybody did; it was such an impressive place. Bloody hell, I’d buy it if I had a spare eight million lying around.

I glowered to myself and turned back to the last bush, reaching into the branches to snip it into some sort of order. I cut myself on another thorn and swore impatiently.

“Language.”

I turned to see Mr Harper—Emmett—watching me. He stood there, smiling, his hands tucked in the pockets of his ridiculous purple corduroys. He always reminded me of Colin Firth, though he didn’t look particularly like him. He was a similar age, I suppose, and had that same clipped accent and no-nonsense manner.

I tossed rose clippings into my wheelbarrow. “Sorry. It’s these roses. They’re full of thorns.”

“Ah, the roses. Yes. I thought perhaps you’d spotted Mr Daniels showing the Scrantons around.”

“Scrantons?”

“Mr and Mrs Scranton. I don’t know their first names, and I don’t care. Lottery winners, apparently.”

I scratched at my cheek with the edge of my thumbnail and then wiped the back of my hand across my brow. “You really want Whitecott Manor bought by lottery winners?” I asked. It wasn’t really any of my business, but I didn’t want to see the place sold on yet again because the Scrantons squandered all their money and ended up bankrupt within a year.

Emmett shrugged. “My dear, I don’t care who buys it as long as they cough up the money. You know I can’t afford to keep the place.”

I knew. Emmett was swimming in debt. His daughters—all five of them—had now moved out and he had to pay for everything on his own since his wife had left. Old Mrs Harper, Emmett’s mother, lived in the house with him, but she was in her eighties and, I think, had about as much money as he did. They wanted to move to a little cottage somewhere, with a nice granny annex and a garden that didn’t require much attention. Certainly not enough attention to take me with them.

I hadn’t said anything. Emmett came and put his hand to the small of my back. “Whoever ends up here would be mad to let you go. They can see how beautiful the gardens are.”

I nodded and stared into the rose bush.

“And you’re beautiful,” he added. “Who would not want you around?”

“You don’t need to flatter me.” I snipped at the bush and tossed branches into my wheelbarrow.

Emmett chuckled and moved away. “Cheer up, Alistair! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. I’m off to take Mother her tea.”

I watched him stroll back to the house as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I’d miss him most of all. Well, maybe he wouldn’t move far. I’d probably still see him around—at the local fair or plant show perhaps. Besides, house sales took ages; I knew that from experience. If the Scrantons bought the place, it’d be a while yet before they moved in. And if they decided they didn’t want a gardener—if—then I had plenty of time to look for a new job. I could always audition for the X Factor and see where that got me—Emmett said I had a great singing voice, and I’d often dreamed of performing on stage.

I picked up the wheelbarrow and went to empty the clippings on the compost heap. I was just trundling back to the roses when I spotted the estate agent leading the Scrantons out into the gardens. I’d make myself scarce; I didn’t want to have to smile politely while they stood and gawked, so I downed tools and headed to the potting shed.

The cabbage seedlings were coming on nicely, I noticed, but my beetroots were depressingly small. I’d never had much luck with beetroot. They never grew much larger than rat testicles. I shrugged out of my overalls and tied the arms around my waist, singing an Elvis track softly beneath my breath.

I’d just reached for a watering can when an almighty bang made me jump out of my skin. The windows blew out the front of the manor, followed by tongues of fire licking the frames. I stared, heart frozen and mouth open. Then my heart started again, blood thumping in my ears. I threw open the shed door and ran.

“Emmett!”

I dashed towards the building, pulled open the door, and hurried down the hall to where the explosion had come from—the kitchen. Flames crackled in the room, red and angry and louder than I would’ve expected. Smoke and heat billowed outwards, and I coughed and covered my nose. My eyes watered.

“Emmett!” I yelled again.

Something crashed—maybe part of the ceiling falling—and I took a step to go after Emmett when somebody grabbed my arm and hauled me back.

“Mr Harper’s in there,” I shouted at the estate agent, fighting the man’s vice-like grip. “Emmett! Emmett!

The estate agent pulled me away, forcing me bodily back down the hall and outside. He was speaking—shouting, I think—but I yelled too, my voice hoarse, and I couldn’t hear him, couldn’t see, couldn’t… Emmett.

Sirens screamed in the distance, and then I saw the lights flashing through the trees that flanked the lane beside the manor. Fire engines arrived in a cacophony of noise and colour. The estate agent held me in a bear hug, and all I could do as firefighters jumped from their vehicles was stare at the flames roaring from the broken windows.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Emma Jane has been writing stories since primary school, some of which still survive in notebooks in her dad’s attic, and wanted to be an author as soon as she realised it was a possible career choice and ‘Pony’ or ‘Ninja’ weren’t viable options.

Her first short story, Club Freak, about an anonymous woman’s determination to find her husband’s killer, was published by Park Publication’s Debut magazine in May 2009. Since then, she has gone on to write many short stories and poems for various small presses and has achieved an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Writers of the Future competition.

In 2014, writing as Emma Jane, she signed her first publishing contract for not one, but two novels. Otherworld formerly published by Torquere Press, and Shuttered by Dreamspinner Press.

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Tour Schedule

9/11 Books,Dreams,Life

9/11 Drops of Ink

9/11 The Novel Approach

9/11 Happily Ever Chapter

9/11 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

9/12 Stories That Make You Smile

9/12 Southern Babes Book Blog

9/13 Love Bytes

9/14 Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

9/14 Two Chicks Obsessed

9/14 Erotica For All

9/14 Bayou Book Junkie

9/15 MillsyLovesBooks

9/15 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

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Release Blitz for A Matter of Courage (Hong Kong Nights #2) by J.C. Long (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A Matter of Courage

Series: Hong Kong Nights, Book Two

Author: J.C. Long

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 4, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 81400

Genre: Contemporary, mafia, criminals, friends to lovers, alcohol use, slow burn

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Synopsis

Winston Chang has spent much of his young life admiring the Dragons who have kept his area safe and fought off the gangs that would bring violence to their area. Now that he’s an adult, he wants nothing more than to join the Dragons and live up to those standards.

The opportunity presents itself when his passion and knowledge of cars is just what the Dragons need. One of their own has been killed and his death seems linked to his involvement with the illegal racing scene known as the Dark Streets. Winston is needed to infiltrate the scene and find out who is responsible and why.

Steel has always been Winston’s best friend, and Winston has always been there to get him out of trouble. Just as the stress in Winston’s life reaches its peak, the relationship between Winston and Steel begins to change in ways neither of them expected.

Will Winston and Steel be able to find the courage to face not only the unknown killer stalking the Dark Streets racers but also their growing feelings?

Excerpt

A Matter of Courage
J.C. Long © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Winston Chang awoke with a splitting headache, a mouth that tasted like rubbing alcohol, and the feeling that he was on a boat out at sea during a storm. His stomach flip-flopped just from opening his eyes, and he let out a pitiful groan. He closed his eyes again and gritted his teeth to fight back the nausea that washed over him at the smell of his own breath.

What the fuck did I do last night?

He waited until the bout of nausea passed and slowly opened his eyes once more. He was happy to find he could open them without making himself puke; it was progress. He stared up at the ceiling, confused. It wasn’t the ceiling of his room. His ceiling didn’t have those weird little texture-bumps all over it.

The next thing Winston noticed was the sound of someone else snoring. He turned his head to the side, wincing at the stab of pain the movement caused. His best friend, who liked to be called Steel, was lying facedown on the bed next to him, head turned facing his direction. Steel was still lost in sleep, snoring every so often.

Winston couldn’t face him long; Steel’s breath also reeked of cheap booze and poor decisions.

Staring back up at the ceiling, he tried to remember something, anything, from the night before. He and Steel had gone to a bar, that much he remembered—like he remembered it being Steel’s idea, because it was always Steel’s idea. The place was a dive, dimly lit, stinking of smoke and booze and sweat. At some point in the night, they’d been approached by a group of people who asked them to join their group. Winston had been hesitant, wanting to get in early, though he couldn’t recall why he’d kept insisting they leave. Steel had convinced him to stay, as always. Winston never could tell Steel no.

He vaguely recalled stumbling back to Steel’s apartment, which was near the club, unable to drive home, barely able to walk up the single flight of stairs to Steel’s apartment. At one point, he had thrown up, though he couldn’t remember when, and everything after that was a complete blur.

Grunting, he sat up, and immediately buried his head in his hands to fight the swelling nausea that threatened to empty the contents of his stomach. Once he had it under control, he turned toward Steel. The way the sheet fell, Winston couldn’t tell if Steel was dressed.

He looked down quickly, lifting the sheet off his own form. He was naked and sporting quite the morning wood despite his hangover. It was funny the things the body did.

Why the fuck am I naked?

He glanced at the clock. It was nearly nine in the morning. He searched around him, finding no sign of his cell phone or clothes. He turned, shaking Steel’s shoulder roughly. “Dude, where’re my clothes? Dude!” He shook harder, and Steel finally stirred long enough to roll onto his back, muttering something unintelligible.

Seeing Steel lying like that made Winston’s pulse quicken. He raked his eyes over his friend’s sleeping body, admiring the musculature. Steel wasn’t a gym bunny, but his body was lean from a rougher-than-average childhood, whipcord muscles standing out with his arms stretched over his head. The room was chilly—Steel always slept with his air conditioner on—and his nipples were stiff buds. The sheet pulled down just enough for Winston to see that he was wearing his typical boxers.

Everything about Steel drew him in. He’d known Steel since he was ten years old—almost eleven years, now. For pretty much the entirety of that friendship, Winston had been in love with him. Something he’d been unable to shake. Most of the time, he didn’t think he wanted to—and then other times, Steel drove him crazy, and not just in a sexual way.

Winston couldn’t help his eyes traveling down to the dragon tattoo on Steel’s calf—his leg was sticking out of the sheet—and his admiration was interrupted by a jolt of envy. Winston longed to have one of those tattoos himself, the mark of the Dragons, the gang—for lack of a better word—that ran the Eastern District. The underworld of Hong Kong, both the island city itself and the New Territories on the Mainland, was run by gangs, competing against one another and struggling to gain power.

The Dragons, though, they were different. They didn’t rule through fear, drugs, or terror, but by protecting and serving the community. Wei, the leader of the Dragons, didn’t allow drugs to be sold in the Eastern District, and he didn’t demand protection money from the people; he protected them because it was a duty he’d taken upon himself.

It was a duty Winston wanted to take up, too.

He reached out to touch Steel’s chest and stopped himself, instead slapping Steel’s stomach—though it might not have been safer to go near his friend’s lower body.

Steel jerked awake, swatting at Winston, who knew his friend well enough to move quickly out of reach. “What the hell, man?”

“Where are my clothes?”

Steel flopped back on the bed, closing his eyes tightly. Winston sympathized with what he must have been feeling at that moment, and he was thankful his nausea was mostly gone, leaving him with just the headache.

“Dude, my clothes?”

Steel inhaled and exhaled slowly several times before answering. “You don’t remember? You puked all over them last night, so they’re in the wash.”

So that was when he threw up. That question was answered. “Okay, so how did I manage to get them off?”

Steel chuckled despite how much pain his head must be in. “You didn’t. You just tugged at the shirt like a baby, and I finally got you undressed. Dick stiffed right up when I took off those little boy briefs, too. How long has it been since you got some action, Winston?”

The sound of his phone ringing jarred Winston, and he peered around for it, finding it on the bedside table next to him. He grabbed it and saw that it was Conroy Wong, Wei’s right-hand man in the Dragons.

“Hey, Conroy.” He hoped he didn’t sound too hungover. Conroy didn’t disapprove of drinking—the opposite, actually; he drank like a tank and never in his life seemed to have a hangover—but if he knew Winston had one, he would take great pleasure in torturing him in as many ways as he possibly could. “What’s up?”

“Yo, where the fuck are you, man?”

Dread coiled in Winston’s stomach; he didn’t like it when Conroy sounded angry at him. “What’s wrong?”

“Nothing’s wrong. Just wanted to make sure your punk ass was up. A few of my boys told me you and Steel were out drinking ’til dawn. How ya feelin’?”

“I’m fine,” Winston lied. “Absolutely no problem.”

“Good, then you won’t mind hoppin’ in your car and driving to the airport,” said Conroy cheerfully. Winston guessed if he could see him at that moment, he’d have that smug little smile on his face that drove Winston crazy. “The boss is busy right now, and Noah will be arriving this afternoon. Wei refuses to let him just ride public transportation like a normal person, especially since—”

“Since the subway will take him through Twisted Viper territory,” Winston finished. He understood Wei’s concern; their recent run-ins with the Twisted Vipers had been far less than friendly, and temperatures were getting even colder, fast. Considering Noah was at the heart of that unfriendly encounter, Wei’s concern was completely justified.

“What time is he getting in?”

“Just after noon.”

“Damn it. That means I need to get going now.”

“Get on it.” Conroy hung up with that.

“What did Conroy want?” Steel asked. He was now sitting up in bed, looking relatively healthier. Winston felt a bit of resentment at his quick recovery.

“Asked me to ride out to the airport to get Noah. Wei’s busy.”

“Oh, is Noah coming back from America today?”

“I guess so.” Winston started out of the bed but stopped. “What the fuck am I going to wear?”

Purchase

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Meet the Author

J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his life-long involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C. Long’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing and Korean food (not in that order…okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts and wishing he was writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

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Release Day Blitz for The Nate and Cameron Collection by Kevin Klehr (excerpt, trailer and giveaway)

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Title: Nate and Cameron Collection

Series: Nate and Cameron

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: August 28th

Format: Print

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 200 pages

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, gay, cisgender, cross-dressing, established couple, ghost, vacation

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Synopsis

Nate and the New Yorker

Nate once had the love of his life, but he’s met Cameron, a New York millionaire with an eccentric cross-dressing butler.

Cameron is keen to share his world of classy restaurants, Broadway shows, and fabulous parties, and while Nate’s friends see the makings of a fantasy romance, it’s Nate who has to learn how to open his heart again.

But is Cameron simply second best?

Nate’s Last Tango

Nate’s life couldn’t be better. He’s living with his rich boyfriend, Cameron, in New York while being wined and dined all over the city.

But when Nate decides to visit his friends back in Sydney, Cameron suggests they break it off for a while. Cam’s cross-dressing butler is not impressed, and with the help of his lesbian aunt, they drag Cameron down-under to sort out his relationship and take in the sights of Mardi Gras!

With Nate at a loss to what went wrong, he faces the dim reality that love may have run its course.

Only available in Print from most major retailers.

 

Excerpt

Nate and the New Yorker
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Trailer: https://youtu.be/p3zjFttpjXc

Both Cameron and I had Hawaiian shirts to wear, while Rowena sported a tie-dyed sarong and an afro wig. And around us, interesting guests wore chic little skirts, James Dean–style jackets, hippie gear, and mod wear.

“You haven’t introduced me yet,” said a middle-aged woman to Cameron. Her rust-colored coat had a masculine cut. Yet she elegantly held a long-stemmed cigarette holder with something that smelled very much like a joint burning on the end.

“Sorry,” said my charming American. “This is my friend, Nathan. And this well-dressed lady is my aunt Beverley.”

“Nice to meet you,” I said.

She took my hand and kissed it. “I hope you don’t think me too forward; it’s just that you’ve got such fascinating features.”

“My aunt likes to flirt.”

“It runs in the family,” she replied. She gave me a measured wink. “Now, nephew, where have you been hiding this handsome Englishman?”

“I’m Australian.”

“It’s your accent. I never can tell the difference.”

“I need you!” yelled a girl in a flower necklace. She was the drummer of the band and was addressing our host.

“It’s time,” Cameron said.

“Time for what?” I asked.

He kissed me on the cheek and then headed for the microphone stand.

“You’re in for a treat,” whispered Aunt Beverley, her voice raspy from years of smoking.

“He sings?” I asked.

“He sings,” she replied.

A laid-back strum of the bass guitar started the song, followed by a drum beat. Then the vocal. And before I knew it, I was being serenaded in front of a room full of acquaintances. But, wow! What a unique experience.

“I’ve never seen him go out on a limb for someone like this before,” said his aunt.

I smiled politely, then closed my eyes. He was crooning. His honey voice made my soul rise out of my body and search for a dream. And in the hip nightclub that appeared in my mind, he wore a gray suit with a crimson tie, standing tall in front of the trumpet section who were waiting for their cue. And I was the only one in the club.

“Where are you?” asked Aunt Beverley in a low tone.

I wanted to say I was in love but stopped myself. I realized it was rude to have my eyes closed during Cam’s song. I opened them. He had me in his sights. I wanted to jump into the waves on his Hawaiian shirt and end up on a deserted island with just him and me.

“Would you like a toke of my cigarette, Nathan?”

“No, thank you. I think the fumes have already hit me.”

 

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Meet the Author

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

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

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

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

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Need a New Contemporary Romance? Check out Grounded by Aidan Wayne (tour, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Grounded

Author: Aidan Wayne

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: August 21

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40000

Genre: Contemporary, chefs, children, contemporary, sports, gay, pansexual, trans

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Synopsis

Between raising his daughter Camille, his work as a full-time pastry chef, and his hobby of capoeira, Baz’s life is pretty full. He may be a little lonely, but he’s too busy to think about it all that much.

When his cousin Alaina introduces him to Terry, another capoeira student, Baz is instantly drawn to him. Though quiet and withdrawn, Terry ends up being a fun, interesting person who Baz can’t help but fall for. And when Baz does things, he doesn’t do them halfway.

Terry is a successful voice actor and a talented martial artist. But the fact that he’s shy, on top of being a trans man, has kept him from really dating. He likes Baz, he does—he just doesn’t want to mess up their friendship by failing at romance. Still, Baz is nothing if not stubborn, and Terry is willing to give things a try.

Excerpt

Grounded
Aidan Wayne © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Baz was going to throw up.

It was finally time for the Roda Capoeira showcase. Baz’s martial arts school put on a demo once a year, and he was one of two people demonstrating advanced flips. He was ready, he’d been practicing for weeks, the show started in ten minutes, he was the eighth performer out of twelve, and he was going to seriously throw up if he thought anymore about performing in front of an audience. He was fine with regular capoeira games, the fighting dance performed in a rodacircle. But for some reason this felt a lot different from playing a game with his regular group.

Maybe it was because Andre and Aunt Emma had collaborated with the local community broadcast system, so there were television cameras around.

There was a quick rapping on the dressing room door—three sharp knocks to warn them all before it was pushed open. Someone Baz had never seen before walked in, looking for all the world like they belonged there.

“Terry!” Lydia, who was closest to the door, immediately rushed at them, throwing her arms around their neck. They looked tiny next to Lydia’s five-ten frame but didn’t buckle after being practically jumped on. “Oh my god, Terry, you’re back! Guys, Terry’s here!”

Baz turned to get a better look, grateful for the distraction, as all of the eleven other performers made their way toward the door and the short dark-haired newcomer, who quickly disappeared underneath a multitude of hugs. Dee, who had been putting on their makeup, practically tripped over themselves to run forward.

“Hey everyone,” Terry said, muffled under Dee and Alaina. “Missed you.”

“I’m glad you made it. Welcome back.” Andre grinned, clapping Terry on the back.

“Well, I couldn’t miss the showcase,” Terry said, smiling down at the floor. They spoke quietly, but in a way that carried. “And I’ll be coming back to classes finally. Got my schedule changed around. Just wanted to tell you all that I’m here. Put on a good show so I can see what I missed?”

“Yeah, of course,” Lydia said.

“I’ll let you guys finish getting ready. See you all soon.”

They left with a wave and a bunch of goodbyes, with a promise to Andre they’d come backstage again after the show.

Baz caught Alaina’s arm as she made her way back to the mirrors to finish helping Dee with their makeup. (Dee used they/them pronouns, so when it doubt, that was what Baz had learned to default to.) “Who was that? I’ve never seen them before.”

Alaina looked delighted. “That was Terry. I think I’ve mentioned him to you before? He’s the guy who does Tae Kwon Do and likes all the same bands as you. You’d be great friends. I’m so glad he’s back—I’ve been dying to introduce you. And, you know, see him again.”

“Has he been coming to capoeira for a long time?”

“He’s been pretty off and on. But it sounds like he’s going to be back.”

“Five minutes till curtain, everyone,” Andre called. “Let’s get into our seats.”

The performers all rushed around finishing up last-minute touches, and Baz was distracted enough by the commotion and the rest of the showcase that his nerves died down, at least a little bit.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Aidan Wayne has been a jeweler, paralegal, neurofeedback technician, and martial arts instructor. And that’s not even the whole list. They’ve been in constant motion since before they were born (pity Aidan’s mom!)—and being born didn’t change anything. When not moving, Aidan is usually writing, so things tend to balance out. They primarily write character-driven stories with happy endings, because, dammit, queer people deserve happy endings too.

Aidan has several plants: Viola and Baby V., the African violets; George, the ponytail palm; Antigone, the orchid; and an unidentified succulent, the-plant-that-has-not-yet-been-named-but-is-often-called-Steve. They live with their plants on the seventh floor of an apartment building. The building has an elevator, but Aidan refuses to acknowledge its existence.

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Tour Schedule

8/21    Hoards Jumble

8/21    Urban Smoothie Read

8/21    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

8/21    Happily Ever Chapter

8/22    The Novel Approach

8/23    Hearts On Fire Reviews

8/23    A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

8/24    Bayou Book Junkie 

8/24    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/25   Love Bytes Reviews

8/25   Stories That Make You Smile

8/25    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Tour and Giveaway for Runner (The Runner #1) by Karma Kingsley (special excerpt)

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Title:  Runner

Series: The Runner, Book One

Author: Karma Kingsley

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: August 21

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79300

Genre: Contemporary, age gap, celebrities, hurt/comfort, interracial, mild BDSM, movie industry, spanking, toys

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host the tour and giveaway for Runner (The Runner #1) by Karma Kingsley.  Be sure to check out the exclusive excerpt below!

Synopsis

Alex Banez is a runner for a Los Angeles film set. When he has a chance encounter with executive producer Atwell Richards, he finds himself falling fast and hard. Atwell is rich, powerful, gorgeous, and everything Alex never thought he would have. But Atwell also has a dark side and an inflexible need for control that threatens to suffocate everyone around him.

Alex has to figure out if he can love Atwell without losing himself.

Exclusive Excerpt

Runner
Karma Kingsley © 2017
All Rights Reserved

By the time Alex finished work, Atwell had already claimed him in his mind. He had absolutely taken possession of him and dared anyone to challenge him about it. He waited in the parking lot for him, coolly positioned against his car. He loved the hot, crisp LA air and it soothed his clamoring nerves.

“Hey,” he called out as Alex approached.

“Hey.” Alex dropped his eyes, still avoiding his gaze, and Atwell hated how devastated that made him feel.

Atwell swallowed down the lump of hurt in his throat and moved to open the passenger door of his sleek, dark blue sports car. He was feeling like he needed raw power beneath him, so he’d traded out his day car. “Come on. Get in. We’ll talk at my place.” He held the door open and waited for Alex to climb in. He gaped in confusion when Alex walked past him, shaking his head.

“I can’t. I’ve got my bike,” he said, heading for the bike rack.

“So leave it. I’ll take you home.”

Alex finally looked up at him and Atwell couldn’t decide which he liked less, when he looked at him with those beautiful green eyes clouded over with darkness or when he avoided looking at him altogether.

“I can’t.” He shook his head again. “I can’t afford to keep Uber-ing to work in the mornings.”

“Okay. So you’ll stay over.”

“Atwell.”

“Or I’ll send a car for you. Whatever you want, but I thought you wanted to talk.”

Alex let out a sigh. “I did—I do. I want to be with you, Atwell.” Atwell’s heart soared at hearing the claim. “But I don’t want to feel like your prostitute, or your charity case, or your project. I can take care of myself, so you don’t have to worry about it.”

Atwell closed the passenger door of his car with a slam. His high from hearing that Alex wanted to be with him was quickly diminished by the fact that he thought he was considering him as some sort of toy, or some pay-as-you-go sex doll. “Alex, I don’t think of you as any of those things, but the fact of it is, I am a wealthy man. And while I have no doubts that you are perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, I want to take care of you. I’ve watched you take care of everyone around you, except for you. Let me do that. I need to do that.”

Alex dropped his eyes again, but Atwell caught a glimpse of some of the clouds clearing. Alex squirmed. “I don’t want our relationship to be public. Aside from the drama it would cause at work, I don’t want to be an item on the news.” He shifted uncomfortably. “There are things in my past that I’d just rather not have surface for the world to see.”

Atwell nodded in understanding. “Well, I am a public figure but I’ll do what I can to keep a lid on the media. But I’ve told you before, I won’t be ashamed to be with you. If we’re out in public and I want to touch you, I reserve the right to do so. And I have a feeling I’ll be wanting to touch you quite often.”

Alex flushed and said nothing.

“Anything else?” Atwell asked.

“Does it matter? It seems all my conditions are irrelevant. You’re not a very flexible man.”

“Shit,” Atwell cursed at himself. He’d meant to be much more bending, much more accommodating to Alex’s need—at least at first. But now he’d let all his true colors flare, shooting him down at every turn.

Alex shook his head and moved closer to him, meeting his gaze and sending Atwell into a frenzy with the brightness of his eyes. “Atwell, it’s okay. I still want to do this.” Atwell’s heart jumped in his chest, racing faster as Alex moved in even closer. “And you told me to tell you when I wanted you.” Alex’s chest rose and fell in rapid succession and Atwell realized so did his own. The air between them was electric, stinging every single one of his nerve endings. He’d never felt so alive and buzzing in his life. He nodded his head, not trusting his voice. “Well, Atwell, I think if you don’t kiss me, I may die.”

 

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Karma is a wine-enthusiast, feminist, activist, humanitarian, vegetarian and just all around liberal and that often seeps into her writing. She loves any place with white, white sand and blue, blue water and an endless supply of prefix-mo drinks (Moscato, Mojito, etc.).

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Tour Schedule

8/21    Love Bytes Reviews

8/22    Erotica For All

8/22    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/23    The Novel Approach

8/23    Boy Meets Boy Reviews

8/23    Happily Ever Chapter

8/24    Bayou Book Junkie

8/25    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

8/25    MM Good Book Reviews

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It’s Release Time for Chasing Ghosts by M.K. Hardy (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Chasing Ghosts

Author: M.K. Hardy

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 8/7/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 77600

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, romance, addiction, drug/alcohol use, performance arts/visual, writer

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Synopsis

Nic is a successful ghost writer, making a decent living churning out best-selling autobiographies of celebrities and other notable figures. She’s also a recovering alcoholic—three years sober and still tempted, every day, to open the bottle again.

Luckily she has distractions—this time in the form of Isobel DeWitt, an award-winning and well-loved actor in her prime, who has decided to release a tell-all autobiography. Nic finds her likeable, charming and fascinating…but also impossible to crack. Every draft sounds like just another magazine piece full of perfectly crafted sound bytes, but there’s no soul.

Undeterred, Nic continues to dig into the actor’s history in search of the clue that will unlock it all and finds it in the form of one Melody Graham, a reclusive playwright and, if rumours are to be believed, Isobel’s erstwhile lover. Nic chances everything to reach out to her and unbelievably she responds, sharing stories about her time with the tempestuous actress and helping Nic get further and further into Isobel’s head. The problem now is figuring out where Isobel Dewitt starts and Nic ends…

Excerpt

Chasing Ghosts
M.K. Hardy © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“Hi, my name is Nicola, and I’m an alcoholic.”

Not much of a way to begin a story, is it? But as James, my agent, always says, “truth is what makes the story.” On the other hand, my sponsor Mary likes to tell me to “be honest with yourself and screw the rest of them.” Either way, you can’t get any more truthful than that, can you?

“It’s been two years since my last drink.”

I was sitting in a dingy church hall on a flimsy folding chair, surrounded by people who looked as if they’ve been chewed up and spat out by Fate like disused pieces of chewing gum on the pavement. Some of them couldn’t even bring their eyes up to meet the gazes of their fellow addicts. Instead, they focused on the streaked wooden floor, following the whorls and gouges with their bloodshot eyes. I didn’t recognize all the faces; for every regular there was a newcomer, who more likely than not would come for one, maybe two weeks before disappearing off the map in a haze of empty vodka bottles, never to be seen again. Sometimes on my weaker days, it made me angry to see them, knowing by looking at them that they wouldn’t be back next week, and hating them for being weak enough to succumb. Just like I wanted to.

You’re supposed to share your story at these meetings, but that wasn’t really why we were here, was it? You don’t want to hear my story. Nobody does. There’s a reason my name never shows up on the front jacket—why if you read between the lines of each tell-all memoir you won’t find me mentioned there. It’s because I’m very good at my job, you see. I can draw out even the most reluctant person, put their words, their life down on paper so that the masses can’t help but want to read it, and the supposed author can’t help but rake in the cash. So I hope you don’t mind if I just give you the bare highlights of my own life—my name might be all over this, but it still really isn’t my story.

The smattering of half-hearted applause at my testimony had stopped now, and I was talking again. I was sharing my experiences of the past week—the times I’d wanted to drink, the times I’d been glad of the clarity I now had… You don’t need the details.

The truth was I could do without the clarity. Clarity, if you ask me, is overrated. I wasn’t sober because it made me clear-headed or better able to deal with my day-to-day life—honestly, I was a high-functioning drunk. That’s the thing about a Calling—you don’t have to be sober to be able to do your job. I could write just as well—maybe better—when I was drunk. I met my deadlines, I made meetings when I had to, my cat never went hungry, and I was never the type to get into fights or wake up in a gutter because, like all good alcoholics, I drank alone, at home.

No, to be brutally honest, I got on the wagon because when I hit thirty I was starting to develop a slight gut, and that’s not attractive on anyone. And believe me, some days I wish I had just switched to gin and slimline, but here I am now and so here I stay. Never let it be said I don’t see a story through till the bitter end.

After the meeting finished, the group disbanded, drifting away from each other like autumn leaves pushed by a capricious breeze. There was a table set up with orange juice, tea, and biscuits; some of the newcomers lingered there, hoping to meet kindred spirits who would reassure them that everything’s okay and it’ll just get easier with time. The regulars knew better.

Me, I picked up my sleek black laptop bag and hoisted it over my shoulder, exchanging curt nods with a few people before heading for the door. I wasn’t in full Bitch Mode, which on a normal day meant I might stop and exchange pleasantries, but I’d got a meeting to get to across town and not a lot of time. Chances were I’d probably be late. Why didn’t I just skip the meeting, go to a later one, you ask. To which I reply: you’ve never been an addict, have you?

I grabbed a taxi as soon as I could, promising the driver a generous tip if he could get me to my destination by four o’clock. That’s the other thing about having a Calling—you can make plenty of money doing it. I have even more now that it doesn’t all go on booze and mixers, but it mainly just sits in my bank account or occasionally serves to entice cab drivers to get me where I’m going on time.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that what I do is necessarily what I saw myself doing when I majored in Creative Writing at college (you don’t really care where, do you?). My starry-eyed teenaged self thought I was going to be the next Kerouac, or the next Tartt, or at worst the next Stephen King. I think my younger self would probably want to knife me in my sleep if she saw me trampling all over her dreams of renown and accolade, making a tidy little profit without my name ever appearing on a single dust jacket.

It’s still writing, though. It scratches that eternal itch. And I’ll tell you what, it’s satisfying, in its own way—getting into someone’s head, finding their voice, putting their life into their own words when they can’t make that transfer from mind to page for themselves. I’m like a conduit—weirdly, I feel connected to them. It’s an addictive sensation in its own right, and I am, after all, an addict.

Some people go from vice to vice, trying to find something that fills in that emptiness. I knew a guy in the early nineties who, after nearly killing himself on a five-year bender, sobered up almost overnight only to begin falling into bed with a different person each evening. What alcohol couldn’t accomplish, AIDS did. When you look at it like that, my way doesn’t seem so bad, does it?

We got to the hotel at five past four—even though we were technically late, I still gave the driver his promised tip. It wasn’t as if he had any control over London traffic, after all. I slid out of the cab, barely looking around to check my surroundings before heading inside. I have a lot of meetings at hotels, so I’m well acquainted with them—the plush beige carpets, the myriad mirrors, the waxy, sunlight-starved pot plants. These initial meetings are always in the bar, so perhaps it’s unsurprising that I ended up the way I did. Liquor is a natural lubricant; it gets peoples’ tongues wagging. Even now, hours before dinner time, the bar was half full, cluttered with businessmen soothing their jetlag with a pint of ale, nervous tourists tittering over a glass of merlot.

I caught sight of myself in the mirror behind the bar. It’s a rule, in writing—you have to tell the reader who they’re looking at. Never mind the picture on the cover, they want to be reminded of the sparkling blue eyes, the crisp white smile, the smooth, even tan. And you won’t be seeing my picture, so I suppose I ought to lubricate my own descriptive skills with a bit of introspection. Not that I’m going to tell you what you want to hear.

See, unsurprisingly I guess, I’m about as ordinary-looking as it gets. I’m about average height, maybe a little over but not enough to be tall. I’m average weight—maybe a bit extra on the hips and thighs from time to time; it comes and goes. My eyes and hair are a mid-brown that’s neither particularly drab nor particularly inspiring—my hair pretty much lives in a perpetually slightly dishevelled ponytail. I’m the kind of pale that you only get by staying indoors most of the time, summer or winter, and only holidaying to northern European cities that don’t require you to wear sunscreen or mosquito repellent. My wardrobe is mostly brown, black, and navy. I don’t wear rings and my ears aren’t pierced. I’m basically the definition of a cipher.

I didn’t start out that way—I am told by reliable though biased sources that I was a very pretty little girl. And I went through all the normal teenage rebellion phases—heavy eyeliner, dyed hair, outrageous clothes (though who could live through the eighties and not claim fashion victimhood?). But somehow, I ended up like this: a plain Jane, nondescript and unmemorable. Maybe it’s the exterior reflecting the interior, since my job is more or less all that defines me these days. Or maybe it’s just that spending so long in a drunken, intensely personal, and yet wholly impersonal haze erased all desire for self-expression. But if that’s the case, why am I writing this? I honestly don’t know. You tell me.

The woman I was there to meet wasn’t hard to find. Unlike me, she was well-known enough to create a bubble of impermeability around her, one which no tipsy tourist or errant waiter was likely to overstep. And even if they didn’t know who she was, she was striking in a way that caused people to stop and stare rather than come too close. And as used to celebrity as I am, I’ll admit I hesitated for a moment before breaching that no man’s land and approaching her table.

“Ms. Dewitt? Nicola Booth. Sorry I’m late.”

“Oh, are you?” she said politely, in that tone where it was obvious she’d noticed and was pretending not to—which I hate, by the way.

“Yep,” I said, tamping down the urge to roll my eyes as I took a seat opposite her at the table. Lord, save me from the well-meaning ones—give me a stone-cold bitch any day. They’re so much more fun. “Anyway, I’ve just got a few questions before we get started. I assume your agent told you what I’ll be doing?”

“Well, I know what a ghostwriter does, of course, but I’m sure you all have your own methods…”

“Sure.” I sat back in my chair, nodding a little. “A lot of writers like to pore through articles, past interviews, watch appearances on Jay Leno, that sort of thing. Really bumps up the research fee.”

She raised an eyebrow—just the one. You know how in books everyone can do that? I’ll tell you what, not everyone can do that. “And you?” she said in this arch tone and I’m not sure whether it’s getting my back up or turning me on a little.

Not wanting to give her the satisfaction of watching me jump through any of her little hoops, I turned a little, motioning for the single waiter who’s loitering by the bar. He hurried over, more for her sake than mine, I knew, and I ordered a mineral water with lemon before looking back to Ms. Isobel Dewitt with all her arched eyebrow and perfect lips.

“I like to talk.”

“To talk.”

“Mm. I mean, yes. To talk. You’re supposed to be telling your life story, right? So the best way to do that is to… talk about it. To me. I’ll record it, take notes, ask questions…and then I’ll whisk it all away and transform it into a bestselling account of your life.” Maybe it sounds conceited, but trust me, it’s true. I have never failed to turn out a book that exceeded the publisher’s expectations, and I’ve even helped a few minor celebrities to climb the social ladder to better recognition.

The great Isobel Dewitt pursed her perfect lips and tossed her perfect hair and relaxed back in her chair with a nod. “All right. So when do we start?”

Well. This is it, then. “We can start right now,” I told her, leaning over to pull my recorder out of my bag, then set it on the table between us. No time like the present. “Let’s talk about what you want out of this book.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

MK Hardy is the pen name for two geeky women living and writing together in Scotland. They’ve been writing partners for eleven years and life partners for nine. When they’re not typing frantically at one another they like to walk the dogs, cuddle the cats, drink cocktails and play boardgames.

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Tour Schedule

8/7      Divine Magazine

8/7      Love Bytes reviews

8/8      Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

8/8      My Fiction Nook

8/9      MillsyLovesBooks

8/9      A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

8/10    The Novel Approach

8/10    Boy Meets Boy Reviews 

8/11    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

8/11    Happily Ever Chapter

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RELEASE BLITZ for Weekend Getaway (Daniel and Ryan #2) by Tamryn Eradani (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Weekend Getaway
Series: Daniel and Ryan, Book 7
Author: Tamryn Eradani
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: 8/7/17
Heat Level: 5 – Erotica
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 17700
Genre: Contemporary, Contemporary,BDSM,businessmen,established couple,vacation

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Synopsis

Daniel wants to test his control in a more public setting than he and Ryan have used before. It takes some negotiation, takes some planning, but they make it work.

Excerpt

Weekend Getaway

Tamryn Eradani © 2017

All Rights Reserved

 

Chapter One

 

Daniel’s on his back, legs splayed wide, Ryan kneeling between them with a wicked smile playing across his lips. Ryan’s sleeves are rolled up to his elbows—they’re going to be horribly wrinkled when they’re done with this—but Daniel can’t gather the breath to complain.

 

Ryan’s had him on edge for what feels like forever, skimming his fingertips over Daniel’s hole in a dirty tease. Every once in a while, Ryan will drag his knuckles down the length of Daniel’s cock like he’s afraid Daniel’s erection will flag without constant attention.

 

Just having Ryan in the room with him is enough to keep Daniel hard at this point. Daniel wishes he knew what Ryan wants. Does he want Daniel to break down and beg? Is he testing to see how long Daniel can go without being tempted to touch himself? Does he want Daniel to try so he can slap Daniel’s hands away?

 

Maybe Ryan’s winding Daniel up so he can deny him. They don’t do it often; Ryan doesn’t get how Daniel can like it so much, and Daniel doesn’t want to spoil himself, but sometimes Ryan will spend hours teasing Daniel so he can tell him no and see if Daniel listens.

 

Daniel always listens.

 

His cock throbs at the thought, and he bites down on his bottom lip to keep from asking. It’s not his place to ask. He can’t help the want in his eyes, can’t help the way they plead with Ryan as they meet his gaze. He’d consider it a weakness, except Ryan likes drawing reactions from Daniel’s body. He knows Daniel doesn’t like being vocal, so he gauges his interest in other ways—how he moves into a touch, how his body trembles when he has to work at holding still. How his eyes beg when he wants something particularly badly.

 

Ryan smiles, fond, and wraps his fist around Daniel’s cock until just the head is poking out. Daniel’s breath comes in short pants and stutters out completely when Ryan bends his head to press a kiss to the tip.

 

It takes every ounce of Daniel’s self-control to keep from coming. His hands are fisted in his sheets, as if holding on to the fabric means he’ll hold on to the fraying edges of his control.

 

“I want to suck you,” Ryan says, breath ghosting over Daniel’s cock, “but that would be cruel given what my plans are for you.” Ryan slides off the bed before he holds a hand out to Daniel.

 

It takes a moment for Daniel to unclench his hands, to ease up on the death grip he has on the sheets, but when he does, he puts his hand in Ryan’s and lets the other man help him stand up. He doesn’t know what they’re doing next, and excitement buzzes beside worry as he watches Ryan for his next cue. Lately, he’s been giving more and more control over to Ryan; not just in scenes but in the planning of scenes.

 

Having a…partner, someone he scenes with regularly and talks to outside of sex, means that they know each other well enough to start reading each other’s moods and wants. Daniel has a pretty comprehensive list of things that Ryan likes and knows his hard nos, but now he can tell whether a work week is going to make Ryan want to put Daniel on his knees when he gets home and just have Daniel warm his cock until he’s unwound enough to fuck him or whether fucking Daniel hard and a little bit messy is exactly what he needs.

 

And Ryan’s picked up this uncanny ability to practically read Daniel’s mind.

 

“Time to get dressed,” Ryan says, and Daniel’s eyes are drawn to where his clothes are sitting in a sloppy pile on the floor. This is what happens when Ryan gets him undressed. “Complaint duly noted.” Ryan puts Daniel’s clothes on the bed so Daniel won’t have to bend down for them and then he backs off, letting Daniel know that he’s on his own for this.

 

Daniel’s slow as he steps through the leg holes of his briefs, even slower as he drags the fabric up his legs. His eyes flutter shut as the soft material touches his overly sensitive skin. His body works against him now; desperate for relief, every nerve ending is on high alert, waiting for just enough stimulus to tip him over the edge.

 

He’s careful as he pulls the rest of his clothes on, and it’s a struggle to go slow enough he doesn’t overwhelm himself but not so slow that getting dressed becomes a tease of its own. Pulling up the zipper on his jeans is the worst; pressure and a little bit of pain, as it presses his erection into place, but as soon as he pops the button through the waistband, he feels settled. He feels contained, like he can do this.

 

Whatever this is.

 

He lifts his gaze to Ryan, unable to help his smile when he sees the pride in Ryan’s eyes. He did that. He put that look on Ryan’s face.

 

“Absolutely incredible,” Ryan murmurs, stepping forward so he can cup Daniel’s face in his hands. “I wonder how far this composure goes.” Ryan taps his fingers against Daniel’s skin. “I wonder what you would look like walking down the street like this.”

 

Dread washes through Daniel, sharp and cold, and it effectively kills the erection Ryan’s worked so hard to keep up. Some of his panic must show on his face, because Ryan goes from teasing to concerned in seconds.

 

“Not good?” Ryan asks, easing Daniel down so he’s sitting on the bed.

 

“Not good,” Daniel agrees. Because what if they’re walking down the street and run into Tracy? Or what if they pop by the grocery store and their boss is there? He can’t. Not when his control is this fragile. Ryan likes the fragility of it, and he might punish Daniel if it breaks, but he won’t mock him. Won’t think worse of him for it.

 

If anyone else…

 

No.

 

“Okay,” Ryan says. “Okay, that’s a no go.”

 

“Sorry,” Daniel says.

 

“Nothing to be sorry for,” Ryan assures him. He crouches between Daniel’s legs so Daniel doesn’t have to crane his neck to look up at him.

 

Daniel knows he doesn’t have anything to be sorry for. He doesn’t even know why he apologized in the first place. They both have hard limits, both have soft limits, and sometimes they stumble on them accidentally. It doesn’t mean either of them has done something wrong. Daniel still feels off-balance, the scene cut off before it finished.

 

“What do you want?” Ryan asks. “I can run a bath, we can get back into bed, whatever you want.”

 

“What was the original plan?” Daniel asks. Maybe finishing the scene will be enough to reorient himself. Unless Ryan’s plan was to go out for a walk, to parade Daniel through the streets to—

 

“Hey,” Ryan says, voice sharp enough to pull Daniel out of his thoughts but not enough to startle him. “I wouldn’t spring that on you. I was going to bring you into the living room, have you blow me with the TV on, tell you to imagine the voices you heard were people in the room, watching you, admiring you. But it sounds like it’s something you don’t want.”

 

He doesn’t. He’s too raw right now. He doesn’t know what he does want, though.

 

“All right,” Ryan says. “We’ll get your clothes off, cuddle for a bit. Maybe I’ll get my mouth on you after all.”

 

Daniel doesn’t want to be coddled. He got pulled out of their scene, out of his headspace, but he doesn’t want to be treated like he’s going to fall apart any moment. He feels even more ridiculous getting this worked up over getting a blow job, but—

 

“You’re frowning again,” Ryan says, dragging his thumb across the crease between Daniel’s eyebrows as if he can rub it out.

 

“I’m not fragile,” Daniel says. He likes it when Ryan wears his control down until it’s thin enough he doesn’t know whether or not it’ll snap. But it’s a different kind of fragile than this. Daniel doesn’t like Ryan’s being hesitant with him.

 

“You want to earn it?” Ryan asks. “You think I’m giving something to you too easy?”

 

Daniel nods.

 

“In that case, I’m going to blow you, and you’re not going to be able to come until you’re so desperate you’re crying,” Ryan says. “That better?”

 

Daniel nods again, mouth dry.

 

“Words,” Ryan says. “Is that what you want?”

 

“Yes,” Daniel says. “Please.”

 

Ryan’s lips turn up into a smile, too sharp to be friendly. “I love it when you ask for things you know are going to hurt.” He gives Daniel’s shoulders a push, and Daniel tips backward onto the bed.

 

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

Meet the Author

Tamryn studied English and Creative Writing in school but has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. Recently, she’s turned her focus towards writing erotica. She enjoys writing stories where sex comes first, then feelings, because doing things out of order can be fun.

Tamryn has spent the past few months writing the Daniel and Ryan series with a lovely view of mountains out her window, and she’s now searching for a new mountain range to serve as her backdrop as she begins her next project.

 

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RELEASE BLITZ for Trust with a Chaser by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Trust with a Chaser

Series: Rainbow Cove, Book 1

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Annabeth Albert

Release Date: 08-01-2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Law Enforcement, Small Town, May/December

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Synopsis

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Mason

When Adam stepped inside the glorified closet I was using as an office, eyes all twitchy and hands wringing a bar towel, I knew I wasn’t going to like what came out of his mouth.

“Sheriff Sexy just walked in. He’s your problem.”

Fuck. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Please don’t call Police Chief Flint that. He might hear, and I’m pretty sure he’d find a citation for you. And I am not bailing your ass out.”

“You’re just worried that one of these days you’re going to slip up and call him that.” Adam grinned at me. This was an old argument—he’d been calling Flint that stupid nickname since we were in high school. The hard-nosed cop wasn’t one to cut teen drivers any slack—especially if they were in any way associated with the name “Hanks.” “Anyway, you know he freaks me out. I’ve got no idea what he wants—all our permits are in order, right?”

“Of course.” Standing, I grabbed the folder with the permitting paperwork. I prided myself in the organization I was bringing to the bar and grill that I co-owned with Adam and our friend, Logan. Flint wouldn’t find anything to complain about, not with me in charge. “I’ll go deal with him. You go back to the bar in case we get a rush.”

Adam snorted. Despite it being opening weekend, traffic had been embarrassingly light. We’d worked for weeks transforming the old tavern—a Rainbow Cove institution for decades—into the newly renamed Rainbow Tavern. The gay-friendly bar and grill was our vision for pulling our sleepy little coastal town into the twenty-first century. Logan had crafted a new menu of upscale bar food ready to go, and Adam had innovative drinks specials at the ready. All we needed were customers. And to not run afoul of Nash Flint on our first day of operation.

Flint was a Rainbow Cove institution himself—born and raised here, same as Adam and me, but unlike me, he’d never left, sliding into his father’s shoes as police chief and apparently fitting the role as easily as a pair of broken-in jeans. He’d been Officer Flint last time I’d seen him, almost ten years prior.

Guess I could have seen him had I come down for Freddy’s trial, something I still felt niggles of guilt over, and I told myself that was why my stomach fluttered on my way out to the tavern’s dining room. Unlike Adam, I’d never found Flint particularly…

Sexy. All my thoughts fled as I took in the man sitting in front of the plate-glass window. He dwarfed the small wooden chair, one of dozens that Adam and I had painted bright colors. Broad shoulders stretched the confines of his uniform shirt, biceps bulging under the short sleeves. His cut-glass jaw was firm as ever, as were those hard hazel eyes. But what had been frankly terrifying to my teenaged self made my twenty-seven-year-old libido sit up and take serious notice.

Flint blinked as I approached, head tilting to one side. I’d been getting a lot of that since I’d been back in town. “Mason…Hanks?”

“The one and only.” I stuck out my hand. “What can I do for you, Chief Flint?”

He returned my handshake with a sure grip, only a moment’s hesitation. I guessed he wasn’t all that used to shaking hands with a Hanks. Oh well. I was out to prove to the whole damn town that I wasn’t like my father and brothers, and if I had to start with Flint, so be it.

“Nice place you’ve got here.” His eyes swept around the renovated room—restored antique bar on the far wall where Adam wasn’t bothering to conceal his nosiness, dance floor beyond that, colorful tables and chairs in the front of the bar, only a handful occupied despite the dinner hour.

“Thanks. Our permits are all in order.” I held out my folder. “Liquor license is on top.”

He waved the folder off. “Not worried about that.”

No? Then why the heck was Flint in my establishment? “Good. We’re on the up-and-up. You won’t have trouble from us—”

“Glad to hear it,” he said levelly, eyes skeptical, reminding me that I was, after all, nothing more than a Hanks. “Cheeseburger?”

“Pardon?”

“That Ringer kid didn’t see fit to give me a menu, but I’m trusting you all offer something approximating a burger? Salad, no fries, and an iced tea.”

“You want to order?” I was still struggling to keep up with him.

“This is a food establishment, right?” He shook his head as if he hadn’t expected more from me, and that rankled.

“Of course.” I crossed the room in long strides, grabbed an order pad from the bar, ignoring Adam’s gaping. As soon as I returned to Flint’s table, I added, “Anything you want. On the house.”

“None of that.” He sighed like my very existence was tiring. “Got my meals from the old tavern for years. They kept a tab open for me.”

“We can do the same—”

“Let’s see if you can cook first,” he said, voice drier than yesterday’s toast. “I thought I’d come by, check the place out.”

“Appreciated,” I said and meant it. Business, any business, was good, but people in Rainbow Cove trusted Flint. If he gave us the seal of approval, more locals might give us a try, make us less dependent on the tourist trade that we were going after. Tourism took a while to build, and our grand plans of making Rainbow Cove an LGBTQ travel destination weren’t going to happen overnight. We needed every customer we could get, Flint included, even if he was the unlikeliest of allies.

“You still haven’t brought me a menu.” He shook his head. “But whatever you’ve got passing for a burger is fine. Nothing vegan though.”

“We’ve got local grass-fed beef, third-pound patty on a brioche bun with a pesto mayo and local gouda. Or—”

“I reckon that will do fine.” Flint always had a bit more country than coastal in his voice. Not Southern, but you could tell he was rural Oregon through and through, and I liked the slow, deep rumble of his words. What I didn’t like, however, was the implication in his tone that he wasn’t expecting much from us.

“Sure you don’t want fries? We have hand-cut sweet potato as an option with a chipotle dipping sauce. As far as salads, I’ve got side, Caesar, spring berry and pecan—”

“I’m on duty here. Kind of pressed for time. The burger and a side salad are fine. I don’t need anything fancy.”

Yeah, well, maybe I want to give it to you. I quashed that thought, same as I had the one about how hot he looked in his uniform. Wanting to impress Nash Flint wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

“I’ll put a rush on it.” I made a note on the order pad, not that it was really needed since Logan hardly had a packed house to worry about.

As I walked over to the window to put in Flint’s order, I noticed more than one table giving him curious glances. Hell, maybe I was wrong about any business being good business. Last thing I needed was Flint scaring away what few customers we had. Not that he was known as a gossip or anything like that, but he was awfully…old school. Traditional. The last kind of guy you’d expect to find at a gay bar, that was for sure, and even though we were attempting to attract a mixed clientele, he stood out.

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Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

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