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

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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.

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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

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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.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

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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An Ali Review: A Purple Winter (Nick & Derek #4) by Mel Bossa

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Derek O’Reilly was never good at reality. After twenty years of adulthood, he’s disenchanted with his life but his husband, Chef Nick Lund, is still chasing success. Then a near-fatal motorcycle accident brings everything to a halt and opens a door to a time Derek thought he’d never experience again.

As Derek sinks into a coma, his mind returns to the winter he first fell for Nick, the bad boy with arctic blue eyes. But in this coma-fantasy, Derek isn’t a helpless child anymore. No — this time, he’s older and making Nick Lund stutter and swoon for a change.

While Derek slips away, Nick sits by him in the hospital, devastated. To pull his lover back from the land of dreams, he must say what he’s never said before.

Derek has a choice — remain lost in his imagined world, or return to Nick in the here and now where forever truly exists.
This was a really well written and creatively told story.  I’m not going to get too much into the plot as I think the blurb does a good job of explaining the plot line.  This story is angsty and shows that love is not always perfect.  Sometimes you can love someone but there can still be issues and problems in the relationship.  Things are complicated between these two men and the author does an excellent job taking the reading along on their journey. The author breaks the reader’s hearts a bit but she puts them back together by the end of the book and it’s well worth it.
My only complaint has nothing to do with the book itself.  This is a follow up book to the Split.  This was not shown by the publisher in the ARC blurb and I thought this was a standalone.  I was a bit annoyed when I realized it was not.  Fortunately I already owned the first book so was able to go back and read it.  I have looked at some other reviews of people who also had not read book one and they said they felt it worked fine as a standalone.  There is no way I could do that (weird self imposed book rules).  So be aware should you be interested in this story.
Overall this was a very good read.  It was very uniquely done and I enjoyed it a lot.  It is a book I would definitely recommend. 
Sales Links:  JMS Books LLC | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook
Published December 16th 2017 by JMS Books LLC
ISBN139781634865289
SeriesNick & Derek #4

A MelanieM Review:Wedding Bellskis (Holidays with the Bellskis #3) by Astrid Amara

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Seth Bellski and Lars Varga have opened their own law firm that specializes in representing the underrepresented–whistleblowers, disadvantaged employees, and those lacking power. The good news is, business is never slow.

But that also means they are busy when all Seth really wants to do is plan his pending nuptials. So when his brother-in-law approaches him with concerns about his own business, and when Lars’s brother gives them the cold treatment, Seth wishes he could just tune them all out.

But holidays are all about families, even the annoying members. If Seth and Lars are going to enjoy their joint Hanukkah/Christmas celebration this year, they’re going to have to deal with the brother that has a problem, and the brother that IS the problem. And do so before anything else comes in the way of them and their happily ever after.

Ah, Wedding Bellskis (Holidays with the Bellskis, #3) by Astrid Amara, what I can only assume is the final story in the Bellski tale is finishing off with Seth and Lars now happily established in their law practice and  after all this time,  able to get married and ready for it. It’s been a long time coming for this couple and a great way to go out in style but it has to be Bellski style!  So that involves tons of family drama from both sides of their families, business intrigue, familial angst (of course involving the Vargas), and mayhem all around.  It’s wonderful.

It’s been ten years for Seth and Lars, what a journey it’s been!  From Lars’ closeted lawyer status and Seth’s as his paralegal lover who called it off to equal partners in a successful law firm and happily out couple, it’s been a tumultuous, adventurous, funny, and heartwarming road to the present.

It all begins with a law case and reflection on marriage, the story unfolding from there.  The fact that they couldn’t get married was huge in the earlier stories.  That they legally can now shines just as large in Wedding Bellskis.  What an earth shattering difference ten years can make!  Planning the wedding takes over, with input from both families, just as you would assume it would, but with more chaos because the Bellskis are involved.

I’m not sure how only three stories, even ones spaced as far apart as these, has managed to feel so warm,vivid, and alive, but Astrid Amara has managed it.  I love these people and wish to celebrate in their lives, no matter what is happening, and Astrid Amara’s writing lets me do just that.  Her narrative pulls me intimately into each setting and the scenes unfolding there.  I feel as though I’m standing off in a corner, inches away, from the shouting or the hugs, or the laughter or tears that maybe flowing.  Or even the bullets whistling past your head.  That happens too.

All the characters I’ve come to love show the emotional and personal growth one would hope to see over ten times time.  They’ve aged and so have we but the love and romance has only deepened between Seth and Lars.  We get that too.  Now they get their wedding and oh what a marriage!  I loved it.  It was perfection for these two, and a great way for them to go out in style.  Although, Astrid Amara, if you’re listening, another holiday story with the Bellskis is always welcome!  Who knows what happens with the happily married couple?

For me this story is a must read but pair it with the other two stories.  Read all three together for a trilogy to charm your socks off! .I think this series is magical any time of the year and I highly recommend it.

Cover art by April Martinez continues with the menorah branding all three but the men now look a little young for Lars and Seth.

Sales Links:  Loose id | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 128 pages
Published December 12th 2017 by Loose Id (first published December 11th 2017)
ISBN139781682524398
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHolidays with the Bellskis ;

Carol of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #1)

Miracle of the Bellskis (Bellskis, #2)

Wedding Bellskis (Holidays with the Bellskis, #3)

A VVivacious Review: Testing the Limits (Daniel and Ryan #9) by Tamryn Eradani

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Daniel and Ryan get back to basics after an intense threesome.

I feel like this is going to be a short review because when you are reviewing the ninth book in a series you have almost certainly said everything you can about the things that define the series as a whole but sometimes when I write reviews I discover a whole hoard of thoughts while typing up so who knows.

This isn’t my new favourite in the series and that makes me a little sad because unknowingly after reading the last one, which I thought for sure I would hate but in reality ended up loving, my expectations might have gone up, so this one was a little disappointing.

This story is one big scene, a very intense scene but a scene nonetheless. So there isn’t much story development and this story reads as an effort to get back to basics after that insanely intense threesome. Also, Ryan kept bringing Brett up during the scene which was a little weird, to say the least. It didn’t seem to be in character with Ryan to be insecure and considering how he flipped my entire view on the threesome with his perspective it was really off-putting. In fact, I felt like the author kept bringing up Brett to make it clear that that threesome hadn’t changed the equation between Daniel and Ryan. But the thing is I already knew that and this felt like an unnecessary reminder.

All in all this story is a pretty good scene but the fact that it was following the story arc which has progressively seen more and more momentum in Daniel and Ryan’s relationship was a bit of a letdown. The author has kind of been teasing the whole meet the family thing in the past two books and I really wanted more along that angle.

The next book seems to be more of a story rather than being based around a scene so I am curious to know where that takes us.

Cover Art by Natasha Snow. I love her covers.

Sales Links:   NineStar PressAmazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 23rd 2017 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781947904088
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Daniel and Ryan #9

An Ali Review: The Family Eternal (Deputy Joe #5) by James Buchanan

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
When the body of a young woman is found in a burning rental cabin, Deputy Joe Peterson and newly minted Fire Inspector Kabe Varghese must learn to work together to find out who she is and why she died.

Folks will tell you that family is second only to God in Utah. But what brings strength to some can sow sorrow with others.

On a bleak winter morning, a young woman’s corpse smolders in the remains of a burned rental cabin. Clues to her identity are rarer than frozen choke-cherries in the Utah backcountry. Deputy Joe Peterson, assisted by Kabe Varghese in his first case as a fire inspector trainee, doggedly hunts for who she is and why she died. As they sink deeper into the investigation, Joe struggles with how his life is now personally and professionally intertwined with Kabe’s.

Outed, excommunicated and disciplined because of the man he found love with; the last year of Joe’s life has careened like an avalanche toward an abyss. Is doom inevitable? Or is the best chance to live surrendering to the fall?
This is a series I wish more people read.  Joe is one of the most complex and well written characters in this genre in my opinion.  This installment was another really good one.  We start it by seeing the two men working a case together.  It was great to see Kabe now in a career and doing really well for himself.  The course of this series has shown Kabe grow and come into himself and I was proud of Kabe (like he’s a real person). 
There are two aspects to the book.  There is the murder case which was super interesting.  We learned a lot about the difference between the mainstream Mormon church and the polygamist offshoots.  On a personal note, I did a lot of traveling in Utah last year and I went through the area that this series is set in.  It’s a beautiful area with really interesting people.  It made the setting of this book so much more real to me.  I could picture it all perfectly.  I felt this aspect of the book was well developed and it kept me interested from beginning till end.
The other aspect of the story is the growth of Joe and Kabe’s relationship.  I marvel at how far they’ve come over the years.  There are two aspects that I’d like to note.  One being the bdsm part.  There aren’t a lot of sex scenes but the ones that are there are intense.  I love that the author clearly shows that Kabe is a sub by choice and only in the bedroom.  In the earlier books he wasn’t submissive out of the bedroom per se but his overall life situation made for a power imbalance.  Over time and life changes the men are  now equal in power in their day to day.  I love how the author has shown the reader the development of this dynamic from book to book.
The other aspect I find interesting is Joe’s faith and how he has come to be able to have both it and his relationship with Kabe.  I’m personally not a big fan of organized religion and I don’t often read books with religious characters because in inevitably goes wrong for me.  This series is a major exception.  Joe lives by his faith and he’s a believer.  He lives it by example.  As readers we’ve watched Joe struggle with being gay in a religion that tells him it’s a sin.  He’s struggled hard over the years but it’s just lovely to watch him now.  He’s solid in not only his faith but his love for Kabe.  He sees their relationship as a the beautiful gift it is. It’s also been touching to watch Kabe, who is also against organized religion, learn to respect it’s importance to Joe.  Some of my favorite romantic scenes in the entire series happen in this book.
This book could be read as a standalone but I don’t recommend it.  The mystery works fine and you could follow the romance parts too without reading the previous books.  You would miss out on a lot of the emotion though.  If you’re already a fan of this series I think you’ll really like this one.  If you’re not, I recommend going back and starting with book one.
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Sales Links:   MLR Books | Amazon
Book Details:
ebook, 262 pages
Published August 18th 2017 by MLRPress (first published August 15th 2017)
Original Title The Family Eternal
ISBN13MLR1020170783
Edition Language English
Series Deputy Joe #5

A Barb the Zany Old Lady Review: Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories #1.5) by Lane Hayes

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Let me start by saying I love Lane Hayes’s work, so I immediately jumped at the chance to read this one for review. I was given three weeks, but I took less than three days to read it, savor it, and write this review. This story was delicious, delightful, and decadent. Better than a fine piece of chocolate!

Set in San Francisco, this story was originally part of an anthology and is now going to be the start of a new series. All I can say is “Sign me up!” because if the rest are anything like this one, I’m all in.

There’s not much I love more than a geek, so I was quite happy to find that Eric Shuster is that and more. He’s also cute, humble, sweet, and the type of person who sees to the needs of his friends before his own. His work partner and ex-lover, Nick, has announced that he’s getting married, but Eric can see immediately that he’s marrying for money, not love. The girl is the daughter of a wealthy investor and Nick is always on the lookout for more funds for their technology company, whether they need them or not.

As the story evolves, Eric finally faces the fact that he and Nick were really never in love, just friends and fuck buddies, and there’s no reason to grieve his loss. He ends up spending more time with his friends, especially Zane Richards, a handsome sportsman who loves his water sports, whether they be surfing, water polo, or sailing. In fact, Zane has his own company working with the wealthy who need an experienced yachtsman to simply sail or to race. Eric and Zane become closer than they’ve ever been in the dozen years they’ve known each other as they rediscover their likes and dislikes and explore a deeper connection than the usual surface level among friends.

I highly enjoyed watching their friends-to-lovers relationship develop. Ms. Hayes provided the perfect amount of heat and humor and even a little angst, though thankfully that wasn’t overdone. Just give me a love story that will cheer me up, make me break out my personal fan, and leave me feeling warm and fuzzy and you’ve made my day. This one made my day. I highly recommend it to all MM romance lovers, and especially to those who enjoy friends-to-lovers romances. Yummy!

~~~~

Cover art by Reese Dante shows a male naked torso against a scenic background photo depicting the Golden Gate Bridge with sailboats gracefully floating along below on the deep-blue water of the bay. It feels refreshing and is both attractive and pertinent to the story.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 100 pages
Published September 5th 2017 by Lane Hayes
Original TitleLeaning Into Always
ASINB075CVSKG6
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into Stories #1.5

RELEASE BLITZ Leaning Into Always (Leaning Into Stories #1 Part 2) by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into Always

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #1, Part 2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self Pub

Release Date: September 5

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30k

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Established Couple, San Fran, Beach, Surfer, Geek, Opposites Attract, Friends to lovers

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Synopsis

Life is good for Eric Schuster. He owns a highly successful tech company, has a great group of buddies, and he’s about to marry the man of his dreams. Eric is pleasantly surprised to find the transition from friends to lovers has been easier than he thought. However, after running into an overly friendly ex-boyfriend on an impromptu trip to their shared hometown, Eric realizes things are about to get complicated.

Zane Richards is a quintessential California surfer dude turned professional sailor. His laid-back approach has helped him navigate difficult times in his life. Eric may not share his easy-going mindset but Zane knows without a doubt Eric is the one. However, carving a future together may require confronting a piece of the past Zane thought he’d left far behind. Both men will have to decide if they’re willing to risk what they know for a chance to lean into always.

Excerpt

“Hmm. I want to drop this, but…I have one last question. What did you mean about ‘being from here?’ I know San Francisco is home now but this is a nice place too. I always thought it would be kind of cool to move back someday so I could—”

“No. No way. Never,” I replied emphatically.

I tried and failed again to make a getaway. Zane pounced on me and held me down, snaking his arm across my chest to keep me next to him.

“O-kay…where’s this coming from?”

“I can’t explain it. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“It sounds stupid.” I met his patient gaze, hoping he’d cut me some slack, but he didn’t budge and I had a feeling he wouldn’t until I spit it out. “Fine. I was teased pretty mercilessly for being a geek from kindergarten through high school. I never fit in. I wasn’t blond, athletic, or particularly charming. I was smart. Smarter than I appear to be now,” I huffed.

“Who bullied you? I’m gonna kick some ass. No one messes with my man,” he said, nuzzling my neck.

I chuckled, running my fingers along his spine. “Thanks. I told you it sounded lame. I’m a perfectly well-adjusted adult when I’m not here. And I’m actually pretty good when I come for quick family visits, but this feels different. It feels like I’m being thrown back in time and forced to hang out with the cool kids. Today was a great example. I made a fool of myself out there and I made you mad. Yeah, I was jealous but that was only part of it. I also wanted to prove I’d grown up a little and that I wasn’t the same sunscreen-caked dork who’d sit under an umbrella and read when he went to the beach anymore. I guess I still am.”

“You seem to be forgetting one major detail, Er.”

I traced the laugh-lines at the corner of his eyes and pushed his hair from his forehead. “What is it?”

“I like you just the way you are. I don’t expect you to change and develop a sudden passion for things I enjoy doing. Just be you. And if that means you’d rather finish a chapter lounging in the sand than jump in the water, that’s okay by me.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It comes with the territory. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with you if I didn’t love all your weird habits,” he teased, pulling us both to sit up.

“Weird? Me? I bet you can’t name three weird things about me,” I declared as I sauntered toward the bathroom.

“I bet I can name ten. I’ll give you my list at breakfast. Jump in the shower while I call housekeeping and ask them to change our sheets.”

I stopped in the doorway and frowned. “Just tell them I spilled water on them or something.”

“Why lie? I’m going to tell them my boyfriend got jizz on my side of the bed and…”

I shook my head mournfully and turned on the shower to drown out his silly speech about being stuck with a messy lover and crusty sheets. I chuckled at his ‘put upon’ tone and called for him to join me before stepping under the spray. I stopped abruptly and backed up to look at my reflection. My cheeks were flushed, my eyes were bright, and my smile spanned my entire face. I was incredibly happy and if I said so myself, it looked good on me.

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

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

Books by Lane Hayes:

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man & The Right Time, Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall, A Kind Of Truth, A Kind of Romance, A Kind of Honesty, A Kind of Home AND A Way with Words

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

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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.”

 

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

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

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

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

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | YouTube | Vimeo

 

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