Check Out the New Release Blitz for Better Than Beginnings (Better Than Stories #5) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Better Than Beginnings, A Better Than Good Short Story Collection

Series: Better Than Stories, 5

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: January 30, 2020

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 105000

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Established Couple, MM Romance, White Collar, Gay romance

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Synopsis

Matt Sullivan knows he met someone special the night he spots the sexy man on the dance floor. However, he doesn’t know his life is about to change forever. First of all, Matt is straight. Okay, maybe not, but he doesn’t think falling in love and spending the rest of his life with a hotheaded, unapologetically fabulous diva is an option.

Aaron Mendez is confident, smart, and very comfortable in his skin. He knows what he wants and isn’t afraid to go for it. And though he might have reservations about falling for someone newly out of the closet, no one has ever looked at Aaron the way Matt does.

Navigating a relationship has its challenges, but both Matt and Aaron are willing to deal with difficult parents, holiday blues, and learning curves. They know their happy ever after is worth fighting for and that true love is better than good.

*This collection of short stories follows the lives of Matt and Aaron from my first novel, Better Than Good. The end of one chapter is the beginning of a whole new story from ordinary everyday life to an engagement, a wedding, and more. This collection is dedicated to Matt and Aaron fans and those who believe that the real love story happens after the first “I love you”.

Excerpt

Better Than Candy from Better Than Beginnings, A Better Than Good Short Story Collection

Aaron gave me the silent treatment for a while, and I have to admit I didn’t mind the quiet. For an hour anyway. Then I did mind.

“Come on. You can’t not talk to me all day.”

“Oh, so now you want to talk?” he huffed.

“Yeah. Let’s talk. Come closer so I can touch you too. I’ll be good.” I perched on one of the stools at the island in our kitchen and swiveled to face the hockey game on the flat-screen across the room.

“I don’t trust you,” he grumbled, crossing his arms and glaring at me.

“Come on. I’ll behave. Give me a kiss. Please?” I gave him my best “You can trust me” look.

Aaron sighed dramatically before shuffling over to stand between my thighs. Directly in the way of the hockey game.

“Are you going to make it up to me? Or are you going to watch the Steelers?”

“Okay, funny guy, let’s start with a little re-education. The Steelers are a football team.” I pulled him into my arms and squeezed him tightly, burrowing my chin into his shoulder and blowing raspberries on his neck. “Sadly, their season is over, but thankfully it’s basketball and hockey season now. You’re currently blocking a hockey game, but not my Penguins, so I’ll let you off the hook.”

“Excuse me?” he huffed irritably.

“You heard me. If you’d like to take some time to make up for my hour in hell, I will more than gladly join you…on the sofa, in the bedroom, or even in that green guest bathroom with the cool new towels we just bought. What’s it gonna be?” I held him even tighter and tickled his sides.

He laughed, his eyes twinkling with restored humor as he stepped out of my reach and peeled off his T-shirt.

“First of all, the color is eucalyptus, not green. Hockey and basketball are only marginally better than football and…” He furrowed his brow when I smacked his ass for sheer blasphemy. “And, you are making up with me. Not the other way around. You behaved like a five-year-old. I had no idea you were such a brat.”

“You promised not to torture me, but you did anyway. Even that lady at the store agreed you should have gone alone,” I singsonged.

He stepped between my thighs and rested his arms over my shoulders.

“She called you my husband. That was kind of funny.”

“Yeah.” I kissed his nose and pulled him closer to squeeze his ass.

“It didn’t freak you out?”

“Nope. And you wanna know why?”

“Hmm?”

“ ’Cause I’m gonna marry you someday.”

“How do you know that?”

“I just do. You’re my person. And even though I can think of about ten other things I’d rather do with you, going shopping wasn’t the worst ’cause I still got to be with you.”

Aaron bit his bottom lip and nodded. “Oh, that was good, Matty. I almost can’t remember why I’m mad at you.”

“You’re not mad. You love me. You just don’t know it yet.” I scooped him over my shoulder in a fireman’s hold before he could protest. “No more talking. You have some making up to do.”

I carried him into our bedroom and tossed him onto the bed before kicking off my shoes and pulling my sweater over my head. Aaron undressed quickly, then folded the duvet back and got on all fours in the middle of the bed. I gulped when he shook his ass in invitation. Fuck, he was sexy. I stepped out of my jeans and boxer briefs in a hurry and immediately reached for my cock. I was so hard it hurt. I approached the bed and kneeled behind him, running my fingers along his spine and over the curve of his hips.

Aaron turned to give me a seductive look. “What are you waiting for?”

“Sometimes I can’t believe I’m here with you.”

He frowned before straightening and scooting toward me, wrapping his arms around my neck. “But here we are. And I think this is the way it’s supposed to be,” he whispered.

I brushed my lips over his and closed my eyes for a moment. “Mine.”

Purchase at Amazon

BETTER THAN GOOD is on sale for just 99 cents. Available HERE.

Other books in the Better Than series. Get them all HERE!

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Rebound (Overtime #1) by V.L. Locey

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

This is a spin-off starring characters introduced in V.L. Locey’s Point Shot Trilogy and again in Coach’s Challenge, Book 3 of the Cayuga Cougars series. You could read this on its own, but you wouldn’t love the main character as much as you need to for this story to shine. Victor, aka “The Venomous Pole” is the coach of an ice hockey team, married to the forward Dan, but when Dan gets sent up to the NHL, their settled life gets flipped upside down. This builds on all the trials they have faced as a couple and takes the story in difficult places, showing what many romances fail to–what happens after Happily Ever After. This is for those people that want to see what everyday love looks like, when two people repeatedly choose to stay together through thick and thin, blended family, health scares, separation, and alcoholism. I assume this will also be a trilogy also.

Because this book is told from Victor’s POV, expect rude, crass, angry and defeatist thinking. It’s also written in common vernacular. Besides having a traumatic childhood, he has brain damage from concussions and has named the worry wort voice in his head Igor. Victor is also in love with his husband, loves his 5 year old son, is working to forgive his dad, whilst also trying to maintain good relations with the mother of his son and her fiance. Sometimes he succeeds and sometimes Igor, or the cruel inner voice of his mother, wins instead and so he fails. One of the most difficult parts of the book is seeing him fall off the wagon. The other difficult part is feeling his worry over how to protect his genderqueer son from people’s meanness and judgment when Heather moves Jack to Louisiana. Jack is a huge part of this book with age appropriate dialogue.

While some of the decisions Vic made upset me, I understood why – because Dan, Heather, Brooks, and Gene all upset me more. There are hot, gritty sex scenes here, but I felt distant from Dan because Vic did. I didn’t like Dan’s response to Vic’s drinking. I also felt like this was just completely ignored afterwards. I applaud him for not participating in AA, as there are good science based programs out there, but he wasn’t participating in one of those either. I enjoyed his therapy sessions with Doc L and Professor T for the comic relief, rather than for seeing any actual type of support for Victor. He is still demoralized and depressed, although the book ends on an uplifting note of hope for him. It will be interesting to see Jack as he grows older, and that time when Dan (like all sports figures) can no longer play hockey–how will that change their relationship?

The cover design is by Meredith Russell. It communicates that is about hockey and shows a darkness I imagine Vic’s head is in.

Sales Links:  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 209 pages
Published December 30th 2019
ASIN B083C5J4HN
Edition Language English
Series Overtime #1
Point Shot Trilogy – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link
Coach’s Challenge – Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Love a Cozy Mystery? Check Out the New Release Tour for Boiling Over (The Caro Mysteries #2) by Thea McAlistair (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Boiling Over

Series: The Caro Mysteries, Book Two

Author: Thea McAlistair

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 6, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 73800

Genre: Historical LGBT, gay, historical mystery, cozy mystery, age gap, established couple, mental illness, anxiety, PTSD, private detective, New England

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Synopsis

On the run from trumped-up murder charges, Alex Dawson and his boyfriend Sev settle in a small town in Vermont on the recommendation of Sev’s mob-boss cousin Bella. Chickadee is so tiny that it has only one major employer in the depths of the Great Depression: Trask & Co. Maple Sugar Mill. It’s a quiet place. That is, until Walter Trask is found in his own maple grove with his head smashed in.

Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with the death, but things get much more personal when Bella is falsely arrested. Determined to free her and even the scales, Alex scours the town for clues as to what really happened. He quickly learns that small towns have big secrets that people may be willing to kill for. And if that weren’t bad enough, Alex and Sev’s once-sweet relationship is turning bitter under the combined pressures of isolation, anxiety, and jealousy. Alex needs to find the true murderer quickly before Bella is turned over to the feds, or worse, Sev walks out of his life forever.

Excerpt

Boiling Over
Thea McAlistair © 2020
All Rights Reserved

When Sev first asked me to run away with him, he’d mentioned exotic places like India and Australia, warm countries far away from the seedy city we were living in. It had sounded romantic and wonderful, and when we finally left—well, fled—I had hopes of going somewhere like that. Instead, we ended up in Chickadee, Vermont.

Chickadee was a small town, about a half-hour drive from the Canadian border and about a six-hour drive from our old home in Connecticut. In all my twenty-three years, I’d never set foot in the countryside, and now there was all this empty space. Blue sky. Trees. Cows.

“Bella wants us to stay here?” I asked as I gaped at the maple forest flashing by the car window. “It’s so…rustic.”

“Well, just think, Alex,” grumbled Sev, his faint Italian accent tinged with unease as he guided the rickety borrowed Oldsmobile over bumps on the dirt road, “it’s better than the alternatives, yes?”

Considering the alternatives were dead and arrested for murder, he was right. Less than a month ago, I’d been living my dull life, writing during the day and serving as a bodyguard for the mayor in the evenings, and then all hell broke loose. Now nine people were dead, including my friends Martin and Donnie, and the corrupt cops wouldn’t even think of hearing my side of the story. Targeting the big guy with a chip on his shoulder the size of New England was almost too easy for them.

“It’s pretty here!” chimed Pearl from the back.

I twisted to look at her. She perched on the edge of the seat, her already-large eyes expanded in wonder. Her cat, Daisy, sulked in a metal cage next to her. I still wasn’t sure it’d been the brightest idea to take a six-year-old on the lam with us, but it was too late now. At least she seemed to be enjoying the trip. And why wouldn’t she? She wasn’t the one running from murder charges.

“Bit different from the city, huh?” I asked, careful to keep my voice cheerful for her.

She nodded and returned to staring at the trees.

I slumped back into my seat, grateful she didn’t seem to share my unease.

Sev nudged my arm. “Which road do I take?”

I straightened and peered out the windshield. We were coming up on an intersection, if a split of one dirt track into two could be called that. I scrambled to unfold the map I’d crumpled in my distraction. Sev’s cousin Bella—the most notorious gangster in Westwick—had given us these directions and all our fake identification papers first thing that morning.

Why Bella had chosen Chickadee to hide us from the cops was a mystery. She hadn’t given me a straight answer when I asked, only that she had friends there and Sev would be working with one of them. Most likely the location had something to do with the rum-running routes she’d controlled until about six months ago. While the end of Prohibition had cut the bottom out from under her main moneymaker, there were many other ways to make an illegal living, and why leave when she already had a foot in the door?

“Left,” I said, tracing the hand-drawn line with my finger. “Looks like another mile and we reach town.”

Sev obeyed, taking the left fork. The car turned in a wide arc around yet more trees. Both sides of the road were obscured by underbrush and shadow. Sev swore under his breath in Italian and slowed even more.

“They should clear this,” he muttered. “Someone’s going to get hit one day.”

“Who’s going to get hit?” I answered. “There’s no one out he—”

Sev slammed the brakes as a figure darted from between the trunks. I jolted forward and got the wind knocked out of me as I smacked into the dashboard. Pearl screamed, tumbling into the back of my seat. The rattle of the cat cage almost drowned out Daisy’s yowls.

Blinded by pain, I groped for Sev. “Everyone okay?” I gasped.

He grabbed my hand and squeezed. “Fine,” he said.

Pearl wailed. I turned, ignoring the objections of my bruised ribs. She huddled in the space between the back bench and the front seat, clutching her wrist. My already-pitching stomach dropped. I’d brought her with us to get her away from all the pain in her past, and now here was more. I scrambled out the door and around the back to get her.

“You’re all right; you’re all right,” I mumbled in an effort to convince myself my assurance was true. “Can I see?”

Pearl snuffled and presented her arm. Already her wrist was red and swelling. I held back the curses bubbling in my mind. In a flash of anger, I whipped around to see what jackass had done this.

To my surprise, I only saw a girl straddling a sturdy bike. She was maybe sixteen or seventeen, wearing men’s dungarees and a gingham shirt. Freckles were splattered across her face, and ash-blonde braids draped down her back. She gnawed on her lip, her eyes huge with fear.

“I’m so sorry,” she squeaked. “There’s almost never anyone out here—”

“Alex?” Sev called. He sounded muffled. I looked at the driver’s side door. He had gotten out and had one hand curled around the lower half of his face while the other scrambled in a pocket. “I think I might have been mistaken when I said I was fine.” He pulled out a handkerchief, and I saw both his nose and his upper lip were bleeding.

Fear, anger, and unbidden memories tangled up in my mind, freezing my mouth in one slack-jawed position, keeping me mute.

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Don’t miss Book #1 in the Caro Mysteries series, No Good Men, available from NineStar Press

In 1934, almost everyone struggles to pay the rent, and Alex Dawson is no exception. To support his writing habit, he moonlights with his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. It’s dull work, until the night a handsome, golden-eyed stranger catches his eye–and both his boss and his mentor are killed when his back is turned.

Jobless and emotionally adrift, Alex vows to find the murderer before the corrupt police can pin the blame on him. But he soon discovers he’s in over his head. The golden-eyed stranger turns out to be a mob boss’s cousin, and a suspicious stack of money in Donnie’s dresser leads Alex to discover that his mentor and the mayor were involved in something more crooked than fundraising dinners and campaign speeches. As the death count rises amid corruption, mob politics, and anarchist plots, Alex realizes that the murders aren’t political or even business. This is the work of a spree killer, and Alex and his new boyfriend are the only ones who can stop them.

Meet the Author

Thea McAlistair is the pseudonym of an otherwise terribly boring office worker from New Jersey. She studied archaeology, anthropology, history, architecture, and public policy, but none of those panned out, so she decided to go back to an early love – writing. She can often be found muttering to herself about her latest draft at completely inappropriate times.

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Dont MIss Out on the Release Blitz for Slashed and Mashed: Seven Gayly Subverted Stories by Andrew J. Peters (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Slashed and Mashed: Seven Gayly Subverted Stories

Author: Andrew J. Peters

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 96700

Genre: Fantasy Folklore, LGBT, retold lore/folklore, fantasy, mythical creatures, magic, magic beings, magical reality, trickster, action/adventure, established couple, over 40, Greek mythology, Hungarian folklore, Grimm’s fairytales, Momotarō, historical fiction, jaguar folklore, the Arabian Nights, African folklore, Uncle Remus.

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Synopsis

What really happened when Theseus met the Minotaur? How did demon-slaying Momotarō come to be raised by two daddies? Will Scheherazade’s hapless Ma’aruf ever find love and prosperity after his freeloading boyfriend kicks him out on the street? Classic lore gets a bold remodeling with stories from light-hearted and absurd, earnestly romantic, daring and adventurous, to darkly surreal.

The collection includes: Theseus and the Minotaur, Károly, Who Kept a Secret, The Peach Boy, The Vain Prince, The Jaguar of the Backward Glance, Ma’aruf the Street Vendor, and A Rabbit Grows in Brooklyn.

Award-winning fantasy author Andrew J. Peters (The City of Seven Gods) takes on classical mythology, Hungarian folklore, Japanese legend, The Arabian Nights, and more, in a collection of gayly subverted stories from around the world.

Excerpt

Slashed and Mashed
Andrew J. Peters © 2019
All Rights Reserved

THE GREAT HALL of the king’s palace was vast enough to house a fleet of double-sailed galleys, and its gray, fluted columns, as thick as ancient oaks, seemed to tower impossibly beyond a man’s ken. Prince Theseus had been told, he had been warned of the grandeur of the Cretans, how it was said they were so vain they forged houses to rival the palace of Mount Olympus. Yet to see was to believe. For a spell, the sight of the great hall stole the breath from his lungs and slowed his feet to a stagger. Should not he, a mere mortal, prostrate himself on his knees in a place of such divine might, such miraculous invention? It felt as though he had entered the mouth of a giant who could swallow the world.

No, he reminded himself: this was all pretend, a trick to frighten him and his countrymen, though he only half believed that. Silenos, an aged tutor who Theseus’s father had hired to teach him all things befitting a young man of the learned class, had cautioned him not to trust his eyes, that these pirates of Crete used their riches to build a city of illusions so any navy that endeavored to alight at its shores would be hopelessly confounded and turn back to sea in terror.

Theseus forced a swallow down his bone-dry throat and retook his steps to keep pace with the soldiers who escorted his party into the hall. He had brought his father’s highest-ranking admirals to accompany him, Padmos and Oxartes, and the king had sent three men for each one of them to meet them at the beach where they had rowed ashore. From there, they had been conveyed up a steep, zigzagging roadway to the palace. The armored team looked like an executioner’s brigade rather than a diplomatic corps. They were hard-faced warriors clad in bronze-plated aprons and fringed, blood-red kilts, and they carried spears that could harpoon a monster of the ocean.

He tried to look beyond the many wonders and train his gaze on the distant dais where the king and his court awaited him. Yet curiosity bit at Theseus. Oil-burning chandeliers seemed to hover in the air, hung from chains girded to a sightless ceiling. No terraces had been built to bring in daylight, nor doorways to other precincts of the statehouse, unless they were hidden. Theseus would say it smelled of nothing but damp stone and clay, the cool, cloistered air too sacred to be disturbed by perfumes. The walls shimmered with a metallic reflection of the room’s massive columns, affecting the appearance that the hall went on to infinity. The diamond-patterned carpet on which he trod was one continuous design stretching from the vaulted doorway where he had entered all the way to the other end. Such a carpet was surely large enough to cover the floors of every house in Athens!

As he neared the stately dais, he beheld the king’s high-backed throne of ebony and glimpsed the man himself along with the shadowy members of his court. Theseus lowered his gaze to disguise his impressions. He supposed it also counted as a gesture of respect. He followed the soldiers into a lake of light that glowed from thick-trunked braziers on either side of the hall’s carpeted, shallow stage.

Their steps ended some ten paces in front of the room’s dignitaries, including, of course, the king himself. The armored men knelt on one knee, drummed down the handles of their spears on the floor, and bowed their helmet-capped heads as one company.

That left Theseus and his consorts standing and wondering what to do with themselves for a worrisome moment. To kneel to the king was to surrender Athens’ sovereignty, and that had not been his father’s bargain. Though his princely leather cuirass and his laurel crown felt peasant-like, almost absurd while he stood before the king, Theseus did not break. He glanced to Padmos and Oxartes so they would know they should neither kneel nor bow.

Righteousness grew inside Theseus, arisen from the unsurpassed conviction of a youth of eighteen years who felt well-acquainted with the indignities of the world, though in truth had rarely been cut down to size. As an infant, he had been sent to live in his mother’s village, which was countries apart from the hubbub and political fray of Athens. This, no excess of fatherly protection, but a testament to his father’s severity. People later spoke of his banishment in the ennobling light of superstition, an augury of the night sky or some such according to his father. In any case, Aegeus had decreed: if his son was worthy to succeed him, he must earn the right on his own terms.

For most of his life, Theseus had not known his father. He had not even known of his paternity, though he had lived quite well as a handsome, rugged lad among countryfolk who required no more than that to smile upon him, fetch him apples, give him a rustle on the head when he passed by, a proud acknowledgment he was one of their own. Then came his mother’s confession, and his storied trek to present himself at his father’s court, which he had made on foot across Arcadia, an ungoverned, forested land that had been said to be rampant with all manner of bandits, ogres, and mythical beasts.

In Athens, he was a newcomer, an adventurer, and a fawn-haired swain, all of which earned him magnanimous gossip. Men made way for him, and women smiled and idled when he passed by.

Naturally, young Theseus was aware of none of this, as a favored flower does not question why it thrives in sunlight and has a gardener always at the ready for its succor, while others of its kind turn spiny and dull from negligence. Or, it should be said, a glimpse of his place in the world, past and present, was only just then taking form while he stood in King Minos’s great hall. He did not like how it made him feel.

He shook off the sinking sensation. He would be bold, for he alone stood for Athens in this house of tyranny. As he had heard, these foreigners had butchered his countrymen, raped their women, taken their daughters and sons as slaves, and burned their fields. He would end the war, and it did not matter if he returned to Athens on a white-sailed galley to herald a hero’s return or if a black-sailed ship should come back to his father, signaling that Crete had been his final resting place. So had he decided. He looked to King Minos to begin.

The Cretan king returned his gaze, appraising, taunting, and then he perched in his seat and craned his neck to see beyond the prince, to turn a querulous eye at the headmen of his squadron.

“Where is Athens’ tribute?” he spoke.

He appeared to be no more advanced in years than the prince’s father, a sturdy, dispassionate age. The similarity wore through at that. The king’s chestnut-brown beards were plaited and shone with oil, and he wore a miter banded with red-gold. He was clad in deep cerulean raiment of the finest dye and a draped, red stole, all adorned with fine embroidery and fringe. Theseus had never seen a man so richly clothed and groomed. His father, the wealthiest man in all of Attica, had only a sheep’s fleece and a laurel crown to say he was king.

“King Aegeus has sent me, his son, Theseus of Attica, to answer your request,” Theseus spoke.

Minos pursed his lips, sucked his teeth. “I asked for children.”

That was the compact signed by Theseus’s father to end the war—seven boys and seven girls surrendered to Minos in return for nine years of peace, during which the Cretan king had pledged he would call back his warships.

It was a war begun while Theseus still lived with his mother in the countryside, years before she had taken him to an unfarmed field outside the village and shown him his father’s buried sword, from which he came to know his origins. Theseus had only arrived in Athens one season past and been apprised of the history. This heartless war borne from a tragic misunderstanding.

Two years ago, Minos sent his son Androgeus to Athens on a friendly embassy, and when Theseus’s father took the youth on a hunt to see something of his country’s pastimes, Androgeus was thrown from his horse and landed headfirst on a rock. No physician nor priest could restore him. His spark of life had been extinguished all at once.

Aegeus returned the prince’s body to Crete with all due sacraments and respects. He had been washed to prepare him for his passage to the afterworld, and the king sent him across the sea on a bier of sacred cypress, ferried on his finest ship, oared by his best sailors, and with a bounty of funereal offerings, gold and silver, many times more than his kingdom could afford. Yet Minos declared treachery and turned fire and fury against Athens.

Three seasons the war had raged, and after a decisive battle on the Saronic Gulf, Minos claimed the vital sea passage and installed a naval blockade, robbing Athens of her trade routes and slowly starving her. Aegeus appealed to the Cretan king for an armistice. An emissary from Crete returned with the tyrant’s reply: fourteen innocent lives for the price of his son. This, after Crete had already extracted the lives of thousands of fighting men in payment for Androgeus, whose death could only be blamed on the mysterious Fates.

Aegeus decided he had no choice but to agree to the king’s terms, and his council supported him. The Athenian navy was no match for the foreigners neither by the numbers nor by the craftsmanship of their vessels. The Cretans flung barrels of fire from catapults. Their triremes were faster and their battering rams were more potent, carving apart a galley on a single run. The Athenian fleet had dwindled to a dozen vessels. Their forests were stripped of lumber, and even if they had the resources, their shipbuilders could not assemble new warships fast enough. Food shortages had depleted their force of able-bodied men to defend the city. Without a reprieve from war, the next attack on Athens would be the last. Who could stop an army empowered by the God of the Sea?

But after the lottery had been held, and weeping fathers from all parts of the country brought their sons and daughters to the naval pier where they would be ferried to Crete, Theseus could not bear it. He looked upon the children, stunned as lambs without their mothers, and wept for them, and wept for his country, and wept for the shame of being part of this abomination.

Then, in a rush of rage, Theseus attacked the sailors who would lead the children to the ship. He had come to know them as friends, yet all he saw were blank-faced monsters. By grace, he had only had his fists, and no man raised a blade to stop him. Theseus shoved, struck, and menaced perhaps a dozen before they overtook him and held him fast by his neck and arms. A terrible blackness ate up his vision, and, inspirited with a daemon’s strength, Theseus threw off his captors. He turned his fury at his father who stood at the landside end of the quay with his councilors.

Theseus shouted at them vicious oaths he had not known were in his vocabulary, and he spat at them. Did they not know what they were doing was an offense to the goddess? It was a betrayal of every free man of Attica. His throat was scorched from shouting, his voice hoarse, and he fell to his knees, dropping his bonnet, weeping and pulling at his thick, curled hair.

He looked up at his father. “Please, send me.”

Now Theseus faced King Minos intrepidly. “I have been chosen to stand for the children. I have only eighteen years, turned just this past season, and I am my father’s only son. I will face your contest.”

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Meet the Author

Andrew J. Peters has been writing fiction since his elementary school principal let him read excerpts from his mystery novel over the PA system during lunch period, an early brush with notoriety, which quite possibly may have been the height of his literary celebrity. Since then, he has studied to be a veterinarian, worked as a social worker for LGBTQ youth, and settled into university administration, while keeping late hours at his home computer writing stories. He is the author of eight books, including the award-winning The City of Seven Gods (2017 Best Horror/Fantasy Novel at the Silver Falchion awards) and the popular Werecat series (2016 Romance Reviews Readers’ Choice awards finalist). Andrew lives in New York City with his husband Genaro and their cat Chloë. When he’s not writing, he enjoys travelling, Broadway shows, movies, and thinking up ways to subvert heteronormative narratives.

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If You Love Mystery and the Supernatural, Check Out the Blog Tour for Flame and Ash (Witchbane #4) by Morgan Brice (excerpt and giveaway)

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Flame and Ash (Witchbane #4)

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Release Date: September 5, 2019

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, MM paranormal, MM romance

Trope/s: Second chance, established couple, hurt/comfort, monster hunting, supernatural creatures, magic, ghosts

Themes: Learning to trust, navigating a new relationship, sticking together when the going gets rough

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

This time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

Blurb 

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse

Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV,  training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.

In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

Flame and Ash is the third novel in the Witchbane series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older. 

 

Excerpt 

After all, Evan thought, what value do I bring to the situation? Six months of training had improved his skills, taught him a few more rote spells, and helped him understand more about the kinds of things that went bump in the night. Despite it all, Evan knew he had a long way to go before he could match Seth’s abilities, and he worried that he could be the weak link that cost Seth his life.

The trip from Pittsburgh to Boone would take most of the day, and while Evan offered to take a turn behind the wheel, he knew that Seth preferred to drive. When he wasn’t chasing down loose ends about the Boone situation on his computer, Evan planned to doze in the passenger seat, but dark dreams woke him more than once, earning him worried glances from Seth.

“Hey.” Seth’s voice roused Evan from his thoughts. “Whatever you’re thinking—let me in. Don’t keep it to yourself.”

“I just don’t want to let you down,” Evan admitted.

“You won’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

“I know that you’ve saved my ass more than once,” Seth replied. “And that was before we spent the last three months doing more training.” He reached out to take Evan’s hand. “I trust you. I believe in you. There’s no one I’d rather have beside me in a fight. And I love you.”

Evan’s throat tightened. “I love you, too. And I want to be here, doing this, with you. It’s just…I’m not really the action hero type.”

Seth chuckled. “And I am?”

“You were in the army. You’re a soldier. So, yeah.”

Seth sighed. “I went into the army to get away from a bad breakup. Not exactly the most noble reason. I did okay, I guess. I was lucky enough to come home. But I knew I wasn’t going to make a career out of it. Some guys, they get in, and they know that’s where they’re supposed to be. It becomes their home and family, like they were born for it.” He shook his head. “It was never that for me.”

“I made okay money, working at the bar.” Evan looked at the road instead of at Seth. “But something was always missing, you know? What I did didn’t really matter. This…” He gestured to mean the two of them, hunting, the search for the witch-disciples. “It makes a difference. Saves lives. Stops a hundred years of killing. It just seems like fate could have picked someone who was better prepared.”

Seth laid his hand on Evan’s thigh, solid and warm. “Hunting doesn’t work like that. You’ve talked to Travis and Brent and Mark. They didn’t train to be a hunter from the time they were kids. They lost people, and it changed them. And from that point on, they learned on the job,” Seth said. “Just like you.”

Evan managed a wan smile. “If this were a TV show, I’d want to skip to the finale, where we ride off into the sunset.”

“I wish we could,” Seth admitted. “But I’m afraid there’s no fast-forward on real life.”

 

About the Author 

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands, Lucky Town, and The Rising, plus Treasure Trail. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

I’ll be a Featured Author at GRL in October and also at Coastal Magic in February!

Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team!

 

Author Links

Amazon

Facebook Group

Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)

Twitter: @MorganBriceBook

Website

BookBub

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a new release

 

 

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of three $10 Amazon gift cards

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

 

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Don’t Miss Out on the Release Blitz for Flame and Ash (Witchbane #4)by Morgan Brice (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Flame and Ash (Witchbane #4)

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Release Date: September 5, 2019

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, MM paranormal, MM romance

Trope/s: Second chance, established couple, hurt/comfort, monster hunting, supernatural creatures, magic, ghosts

Themes: Learning to trust, navigating a new relationship, sticking together when the going gets rough

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

This time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

Blurb 

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse

Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV,  training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.

In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

Flame and Ash is the third novel in the Witchbane series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older. 

Excerpt 

“I’m excited about getting to spend time with them,” Evan said. His expression sobered. “I hope they like me.”

Seth gave his hand a squeeze. “You’re hardly a stranger. You’ve spoken with them on the phone and on video calls. Trust me, they will love you. They know I’ll be more careful, now that you’re in the picture.” Careful for Evan and for himself. Hunting didn’t usually make for a long life, but Toby and Milo proved that a happy ending was possible. Now that Seth had found Evan, he wanted that same future desperately, enough to make him both fearless and more cautious.

“I know. But it’s like meeting the family,” Evan replied, dropping his voice.

“My mom and dad would have loved you,” Seth said. “They were very chill about everything except when I went into the army. They were worried about me, and they had reason to be.” He smiled, remembering. “Mom taught me to catch a football—she had five brothers—and how to ride a motorcycle. Dad helped me with my homework and taught me how to cook.”

“Most of the things we did as a family centered around the church,” Evan said quietly. He rarely spoke of his family. “Picnics and retreats and music festivals, that kind of thing. But one year, we did a road trip to Mount Rushmore. Mom had always wanted to see it. I guess she figured it wasn’t frivolous because it was about history. It was nice. That was the year before they found out about me, and after that…” Evan turned and looked out the window. Seth kept a grip on Evan’s hand, trying to curb his anger. He doubted he would ever meet the Malones, but if he did, Seth intended to give them a piece of his mind.

“I was going to come out to my parents when Jesse died, and everything went off the rails,” Seth said. “Jesse had already figured it out. Hell, I think he knew before I did.”

He struggled not to let self-recrimination color his tone, but that internal battle waxed and waned on a daily basis. After all, Seth had gone along with Jesse’s idea to do a bit of amateur ghost hunting at a haunted bridge that rumor claimed was a hell gate. It was supposed to be a fun night spent drinking beers and making a hoax video to prank some of Jesse’s friends.

Then one of the immortal disciples of a long-dead dark warlock grabbed Jesse as the next victim in a century-old cycle of ritual slaughter, wounding Seth in the process. By the time Seth regained consciousness, it was too late. His wild story placed him under suspicion and briefly in a psych ward, until Seth learned to tell the doctors what they wanted to hear. By that time, his parents were dead, and his home had been destroyed in a fire. All he had left was the RV, the truck, his motorcycle, memories, and vengeance.

Until Evan.

“I wish I could have met them,” Evan replied wistfully. “And I wish I could say the same about my folks, but…you know…”

“Yeah. Fuck them.”

Evan nodded. “Right. Because we’ve got our own weird little hunter family now, and I like it that way.”

 

About the Author 

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands, Lucky Town, and The Rising, plus Treasure Trail. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

I’ll be a Featured Author at GRL in October and also at Coastal Magic in February!

Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team!

Author Links

Amazon

Facebook Group

Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)

Twitter: @MorganBriceBook

Website

BookBub

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a new release

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of three $10 Amazon gift cards

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts here

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Cover Reveal for Flame and Ash (Witchbane #3) by Morgan Brice (excerpt)

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Flame and Ash (Witchbane #4)

Author: Morgan Brice

Cover Artist: Lou Harper

Release Date: September 5, 2019

Genre/s: Urban Fantasy, MM paranormal, MM romance

Trope/s: Second chance, established couple, hurt/comfort, monster hunting, supernatural creatures, magic, ghosts

Themes: Learning to trust, navigating a new relationship, sticking together when the going gets rough

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

This time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

Blurb 

One hundred years ago, a sheriff’s posse killed dark warlock Rhyfel Gremory, but his witch-disciples escaped, and their magic made them nearly immortal. To keep their power, each year one of the witch-disciples kills a descendant of one of the men in the posse, a twelve-year cycle that has cost dozens of lives, including that of Seth Tanner’s brother, Jesse

Seth rescued Evan Malone from one of the witches, and they’ve fallen in love despite the danger and chaos, going on the road to complete the quest and bring an end to the ritual murders. Their relationship is new, their emotions are raw, and the danger is real. It’s a challenge to find their way as a couple while they’re on the road together in the close quarters of Seth’s RV,  training in magic and combat skills to fight off a supernatural killer.

In pursuit of the next witch-disciple, Seth and Evan team up with older hunters Milo and Toby as their quest to stop a century-long killing spree takes them to a small town in the Blue Ridge Mountains. They’re ahead of the sacrifice cycle, with plans to stop the murders and kill the dark witch. Only this time, the hunters become the hunted when the witch knows they’re coming to get him, and has deadly plans of his own. When their lives are on the line, will love be enough?

Flame and Ash is the third novel in the Witchbane series. It is a MM romance intended for readers 18 years of age and older. 

 

Excerpt 

“I’m going to miss Pittsburgh,” Seth Tanner said as he and Evan Malone readied the RV to move out of the campground where they had been since November.
“We’ve stayed in one place longer than I expected,” Evan replied, lending a hand with getting the fifth-wheeler fastened onto the back of Seth’s black Silverado.
“Figured it made the best use of the winter if the next target is in the mountains of North Carolina.” Seth pulled the blocks from beneath the wheels. The truck and RV had belonged to his parents and were going to be their ticket to a retirement full of exploration and adventure. Instead, they’d died in a car accident while Seth was in the hospital recovering from the trauma of his brother Jesse’s gruesome murder.
The murder Seth and Evan were committed to avenge.
“It was nice having friends who know what we really do.” Evan double-checked the fasteners securing the black Hayabusa motorcycle onto the back of the trailer. “I didn’t have to worry about saying something I shouldn’t.”“Those guys really know their stuff,” Seth agreed. Travis Dominick and Brent Lawson were experienced demon hunters who had helped Seth and Evan take out their quarry not long before Christmas. Travis and Brent had welcomed Seth and Evan into their circle of found family, which made the holidays and the worst of the winter weather more comfortable and less lonely. Getting to train with the other hunters in combat skills and lore was a bonus.
“I’d like to come back when we’re done.” Evan sounded wistful. “It was nice having a group, you know? I haven’t really had that since…” His voice trailed off, but Seth knew what his boyfriend meant. Not since Evan’s family and his church kicked him out for being gay.
Seth slung an arm around Evan’s shoulders and pulled him in for a quick kiss. “I do know. And I’m fine with visiting. They’re good people.”

 

About the Author 

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

Other books include Witchbane, Burn, Dark Rivers, and Badlands, Lucky Town, and The Rising, plus Treasure Trail. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

I’ll be a Featured Author at GRL in October and also at Coastal Magic in February!

Join my Worlds of Morgan Brice Facebook Group! Get the early scoop on upcoming books and new series, see new covers first, enjoy insider news and special contests and giveaways! Plus it’s where I get my beta readers and launch team!

 

Author Links

Amazon

Facebook Group

Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)

Twitter: @MorganBriceBook

Website

BookBub

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a new release

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Looking for that Next Romance Story? Check out the New Release Blitz for Coffee (A Cup of John #2) by Matthew J. Metzger (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Coffee

Series: A Cup of John, Book Two

Author: Matthew J. Metzger

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 19. 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 69100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, British, trans, gay, queer, age gap, established couple, size difference, blue collar, disability, ableism, death and grieving, family issues, dirty talk, wedding, ownvoices

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

When Chris’s stepfather passes away and leaves Chris a house and a wedding ring, it seems like the perfect opportunity to take the next step in his relationship with John.

So, they’re both in for a nasty shock when Chris’s mother is vehemently opposed to the idea. Despite three years of history to prove otherwise, she insists that John is only a temporary feature in Chris’s life, and a man like him can’t be expected to stay with someone like Chris in the long run.

Can Chris persuade her that she’s wrong in time for the wedding—or will there be an empty space in the photographs?

Excerpt

Coffee
Matthew J. Metzger © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Rather appropriately for the occasion, it had been raining all day.

Chris took in a deep lungful of smoke and exhaled it smoothly into the chilly afternoon. The memorial garden was blissful after the hustle and bustle of the funeral. The air was open and soothingly cool, not like the stuffy heat of the chapel. He could breathe again. He could gather the shards of grief around himself and try to put them back together, without having to think about his mother’s sobbing at his side, or the favourite song that had been played for Jack’s last journey, a song now stained with sadness.

The gentle patter of raindrops on the umbrella calmed him, and the far-off chirping of some irate bird provided a gentle counterpoint. Life slowed. From farther off, the chattering of friends and relations had finally died away, and Chris stubbed out the remains of the cigarette as he heard the crunch of gravel.

He’d never been here before, but the footsteps coming down the path were as familiar as his own. Thunderously heavy, an immense weight crushing each step into the ground even as the pace was slow and steady. That slight stress on one step, followed by lightness on the other. That dodgy knee from the rugby accident last year had left its mark in the form of a subtle limp and a tiny scar like a fish hook that made its owner go all shivery when Chris kissed it. Even the speed with which each step followed the other was familiar, like the tower of a body might collapse if the feet were spread too far apart. The hands that clasped Chris’s shoulders were as big as spades, and only one person in his life was tall enough to kiss the crown of his head without the use of a box to stand on.

Chris leaned back into the wall of a man who had arrived and lifted the umbrella to let him into the shelter.

“Your mum’s gone home with Lauren.”

The relief was bittersweet. Mum and Lauren had always gotten along, despite one being Dad’s ex-wife and one being Dad’s girlfriend. Lauren would look after her—even if it was Chris’s job. Even if he was supposed to.

“You did great.”

Chris swallowed thickly. “I think it’s just sunk in.”

It hadn’t been real. It had taken so long that it had never quite felt real until this moment.

Jack had died a long, slow, terrible death. Weeks in the hospice. Chris would never forget the gargling way his stepfather had breathed near the end, or the clammy coolness of his skin. The way Mum had cried, soft little sniffles at the corner of the bed on that final day. The gaps between the gurgles, until finally there had been nothing but the eeriest silence. The shaking in his fingertips was over.

Everything was over. The smell of cigar smoke on the tenth of March, the one day of the year Jack lit up. The shuffle of his slippers. The whirr of that deathtrap of a stairlift. The croaking way he’d chuckled, a noise that in a bigger man would have been a belly laugh. The little huff he let out when Mum was in one of her moods, followed up hastily with “Yes, dear, of course…” And Chris had never seen it, but he’d known Jack had flashed him little smirks across the table at such moments, conspiratorial understandings between the two men who were most subject to her fussing and flapping, the two men who loved her most. Gone.

“Jack’s gone.”

“I know.” The words were soft but firm. The hands on his shoulders rubbed down to his elbows and then back up in a long, smooth stroke. “But so is the pain and the suffering. He’s not hurting anymore. And if he was right, then he gets to see his daughter again now.”

Chris coughed a shaky laugh. It bubbled out of his ribs like water overflowing. “No such thing as heaven.”

“You never know.”

Chris sighed and leaned his head back. He closed his eyes and hummed as a kiss was pressed into his temple.

“I should go and see Mum,” he said.

But his chest ached. His ribs felt like they were going to cave in, and a red-hot pain followed the scar, as if he’d been wrapped in metal wire, melting against his skin. He hurt.

“I want to go home.”

The hands pulled. He was turned by the shoulders and drawn into a rain-damp embrace. The arms around his back made the pain worse, but Chris clung and burrowed into the embrace anyway. The kiss on the top of his head slotted two of the jagged edges together and sealed them shut again. The grief ebbed a fraction.

“Come on, then. Let’s go home.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

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

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

Website | Twitter

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Oh my, I really enjoyed this story. It was transported back to the early days of reading MM romance when I first discovered LA Witt.  And at first, the story seemed to be following the lines of one of my old favorites, The Distance Between Us, but it quickly diverged and became totally unique.

Rhys and Derek are over, after nine years together, seven as a married couple, they are going their separate ways—once Rhys can find an affordable apartment, and they sell their home, and tell their adult daughter about the divorce.  The situation is more complicated when she announces she’s getting married in three months. Can they hold off telling her? Can they live with the tension of staying together that long?  Those are the issues that reminded me of the long-ago book.  But the new twist is that this story is much more character-driven.

Rhys bears the burden of guilt—after a night out drinking while away from home and during a rough period in his life, he slept with a stranger. But instead of being sneaky about it, he confesses to Derek, who is unable to forgive him. Trust was broken and there’s not much more difficult to repair between two people. As the action of the story proceeds, it’s very evident that Rhys is hurting. The pain of his own betrayal is sometimes beyond bearable. Yes, Derek is hurting, too, and normally cheating is a drop-dead, don’t read for me, but in this case, the cheating happened before the story opened, and the story was written in such a way that it didn’t affect my emotional attachment to the characters.  That is something not many authors can achieve because I had to leave personal prejudices aside to be able to see Rhys as much more than the a-hole Derek thinks him to be.

Of note, early in the story Derek mentions that one of his reactions was to go out and have sex with someone else. That’s the only time it’s mentioned, however.  He never sees himself in the role of cheater and he never seems to see his own actions as anything other than justified. He never tells Rhys and the subject is dropped.  I would love to have explored this further in the story because although he was “cheated on,” his own behavior should have been questioned IMHO.

The men go through an emotional rollercoaster ride as they travel across country to attend the wedding, and during the trip they face more hurdles than a track star.  I love the way the author slowly peeled back the layers of their relationship and their roles as father. Though Derek was the biological father, Rhys was a father in heart and action. The secondary characters were well-developed and important to the story but didn’t take it over. The focus was on the men and their emotional journey. All in all, I felt drawn to these guys, and by the end I was rooting for forgiveness—not only for Derek to forgive Rhys but for Rhys to forgive himself. 

I got the HEA I was hoping for. Very definitely highly recommended.

The cover by Lori Witt is really clever. The top pane is a guy holding his head, as is a different character in the bottom pane. Dressed in clothing one might expect the characters to wear, they represent the MCs.  And then the center panel is two wedding rings against a plain poster board background that has a jagged tear up the middle. This is where the title is placed. I really like this one. Spot-on for the story and beautifully done!

Sales Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 176 pages
Published January 8th 2019
ASIN B07L7VR883

Release Blitz for Cold Like Snow by Sita Bethel (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Cold Like Snow

Author: Sita Bethel

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 65400

Genre: Paranormal, paranormal, ghosts, established couple, musicians, mild BDSM, ménage

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

When René moves into his new home, he didn’t expect it to come with roommates. Two handsome roommates, to be precise. Too bad they’re ghosts.

The fact that they’re dead doesn’t stop them from running their fingers through René’s hair or tackling him onto the bed. It’s not long before things escalate and René finds himself with two ghost lovers that treat him better than any living partner ever has.

However, they can’t eat, can’t go far from the house where they died, and their fingers feel like icicles against René’s skin. The longer René is with them, the more he can sense them, but nothing can reduce the chill of their bodies against his. Still, it might be worth the hypothermia.

Excerpt

Cold Like Snow
Sita Bethel © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
René stood in front of the doorway and ran his finger over the outline of the key’s metallic surface before wedging it into the lock and stepping inside his new house. The cold air puckered the skin of his arms and neck. He rubbed his shoulders to keep them warm as he looked around. The flooring throughout the house was black-and-white linoleum. A wide living area faced him—to his left was a fireplace, straight ahead stood double glass doors leading to a small garden, and to his right a half bathroom, dining area, and kitchen. Between the dining room and the glass door, a staircase with a thick cherrywood banister curved up to the three bedrooms and a full bathroom.

René walked to the staircase and stopped short of the first step. He examined the black-and-white squares. They looked clean at first glance, but since he was searching, René noticed the thin rust-colored lines between the tiles. It was why he had bought the house. He’d heard the two previous owners had died after falling down the stairs. Afterward, the old building fell victim to exaggerated ghost stories. True, it did make the building more affordable, but the real reason it appealed to René was because he loved ghost stories and all things macabre. Ever since he was a child, tales that made others grimace had made René smile. He squatted to the floor and reached out to graze his fingertips against the tiles.

A long sigh escaped from between René’s lips. He stood and headed to his moving truck. After several hours of carrying boxes in, he decided to save the larger furniture for the next day. René lit a fire; orange light crawled across the floor and walls. He unrolled his sleeping bag near the hearth and slipped inside. The old house creaked. The silence in the house amplified every other noise, which echoed like a lullaby and soothed René into a hard sleep.

At dawn, before René was fully awake, he dreamed someone dragged their fingers through his hair. He rolled on his side, muttering, “It’s too cold to get up.” The next time he opened his eyes, sunlight brightened the room through the garden doors. He sat up, rubbed his face, and remembered the odd dream of being petted. He smiled at the dream as he stretched and moaned. René slipped out of the sleeping bag and shuffled toward the kitchen to make coffee.

The day labored on as René set upon the tedious mission of dragging his furniture inside his house by himself. Most items—the bed, the office desk, his baker’s rack—he had dissembled before loading into the rental truck, but a few pieces—the washer, dryer, and sofa—he had to strap to a dolly with bungee cords, making it slow to get them inside the house. There was nothing better to do during the constant back and forth than think. He’d spent most of his thirty-four years of existence rushing past his own life. He’d sped through junior high and high school as fast as he could, desperate to get away from the small-minded town where his aunt and uncle had raised him after his parents died of heat exhaustion during a camping trip. After he graduated, René fled to the nearest city, waiting tables to scrape up enough cash for a small apartment while he earned his associate degree. He jumped into a relationship with the first guy who openly pursued him, infatuated by the bold, flirtatious attitude that René never experienced from any of the guys back home. Even after his heart broke, René hurried straight to the next boyfriend, who ended up being much worse than the first.

He learned his lesson after that one, sticking to casual hookups as he focused on work and his studies. Once he finished school, René was desperate to find a job where he could afford more than ramen noodles and dollar-store socks. Now he was at a point in his life where he wanted nothing more than to appreciate everything he obtained and accomplished over the years. He escaped the small town. He made enough money to pay his bills. He finally bought a house. René wanted a chance to breathe and enjoy it. Perhaps find a decent partner who wanted to settle down, or at least get a dog.

He went through an entire box of granola bars and a pot of coffee before he decided to go to the store for groceries.

When he returned, René made a sandwich for lunch and then continued to set everything in order. By the end of the day, each stack of boxes sat in the correct room and the furniture was more or less placed where he intended to keep it. Too exhausted to assemble the bed, René spent another night in his sleeping bag near the fireplace, feeling like a strange post-modern male Cinderella.

In the early gray dawn, he had the same dream. Fingers, barely felt, ran through his hair and gingerly touched his cheeks and collarbone. René exhaled with content at the soft, misty caresses, and he wished ghosts were real before sinking into a deeper sleep.

In the morning, he started unpacking in the kitchen until he found the toaster and a skillet. After eating breakfast and unpacking the kitchen, he assembled the bed. Two nights on the floor had his shoulders stiff. René cursed as he balanced the sideboard of his bed frame in his lap and worked the first screw in one turn at a time. For the cost of a six-pack of beer and some pizza, May would have been more than happy to help René both move his furniture and set up the bed, but René relied on his best friend too much already. The next time May visited, René wanted to go out and have fun, not unpack a mountain of boxes, so he finished tightening the first screw and wondered where his bag of extras had disappeared. René groaned when he saw them on the other side of the room. He would have sworn he’d set them beside his lap when he started, but apparently he hadn’t. By the time he pushed the box spring and mattress onto the completed frame, René was worn out. He dropped onto the bed and made snow angel motions with his arms and legs before resting.

“Forget unpacking. I should just go to sleep,” René spoke to the bed, having no one else to talk to.

His muscles ached from carrying boxes and furniture, and the bed was firm but soft enough for him to sink a little. René shut his eyes and pulled a deep, intentional breath into his lungs. Daydreams played out behind his closed eyelids. It’d been awhile since anyone else had been in his bed with him, and he imagined a mystery lover sneaking to his bedside, sitting beside him, and kissing his stomach as he unzipped René’s pants. His fantasy spun out of control. The mattress felt like it really did shift with the weight of another person sitting close. René sat up and shook his head to rid himself of the ridiculous daydream. He made the bed before going downstairs to finish unpacking the living room.

By the third night, the house resembled a home. René examined his progress in the living room and nodded his head in satisfaction. As he stood in place, René’s hair slid against his shoulders, as if someone had brushed the long strands away from his face. He froze a moment, wondering if his imagination played tricks with his mind again, but the distinct pressure of a hand lighted on his shoulder and fingers ran down his cheek. He blinked, trying to process the strange sensation of being touched by invisible hands.

“Hello.” René’s voice sounded loud in the visibly empty living room.

The touching stopped after he spoke.

“Wait, don’t leave,” René said, afraid he’d somehow startled whatever had interacted with him. René’s gaze darted across the living room, searching for any indication that he wasn’t alone. Nothing was out of place. René sighed, his shoulders slumping forward. “I didn’t imagine that,” he whispered, to convince himself he hadn’t daydreamed the experience.

An idea drifted into René’s head. He spoke to the air in a bashful tone. “If you can hear me, would you follow me. Please?”

He walked up the stairs and opened the door to his office. Stacks of boxes lined the walls and surrounded the desk like strange cardboard obelisks. René pilfered through the boxes until he found one labeled office odds and ends.

He pulled the tape from the top of the box and set aside small statues of gargoyles, skeletons, and imps. With both hands, René removed the old Ouija board from the cardboard box. He’d never used it before and only owned it for the aesthetic, but now he sat on the tiled floor with the board in his lap and the heart-shaped planchette under his fingertips.

“I know this is dumb,” he said. “I know this is a stupid toy, but why not use it? Crap, I hope I’m not talking to myself. I just want to—” A breath hitched in René’s throat as the planchette scrawled across the wooden surface of the board.

“Oh good! I was hoping you’d want to talk. Hold on. Let me get a pen.” René rummaged through another box until he found a pack of pens and a notebook. He held the paper in his lap so he could write down the letters. “What’s your name?” René asked, but to his disappointment, the planchette only swerved in between the yes and no options at the top of the board. He frowned, thinking of what he might be doing wrong. Another question came to mind. “How many of you are here?”

The pointer swerved to the number two on the board.

“What are your names?” The planchette moved without him touching it, freeing up his hands to write each letter.

Marcus.

Bastion.

“Really?” René raised an eyebrow. It was a rhetorical question, but the heart planchette spelled another sentence.

“You have a problem with our names?”

“No.” René smiled. “My name’s Rembrandt. Our mothers should be slapped. Call me René, though.” A nervous chuckle slipped past René’s lips. “Not that I can hear you say my name.”

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Meet the Author

Sita Bethel obtained a B.A. in Creative Writing at Arkansas Tech University; however, she learned how to write fiction on sites such as Archive Of Our Own and fanfiction.net. She keeps coloring books near her computer for when she’s “writing,” and owns an awful lot of dice for someone who’s never played a tabletop RPG. Sita Bethel currently lives in Arkansas, teaches Zumba Fitness and Salsaton classes at a local gym, and hopes to someday own a fortress of solitude staffed with incompetent henchmen.

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