Blog Tour for Queer Magick (Queer Magick Vol. 1) by L.C. Davis (special excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Queer Magick

Series: Queer Magick Vol. 1

Author: L.C. Davis

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: April 26, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: M/M/M, Male/Male Menage

Length: 212 pages

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Horror, lgbt, polyamory, genderqueer, trans MC

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Synopsis

An LGBT+ fantasy of apocalyptic proportions.

Twenty-something Holden Adams never asked to be the harbinger of the apocalypse, or for the seven lovers who come with the job. All he wanted in Stillwater, Vermont was a fresh start, but his past as a preacher’s kid turned witch threatens any hope he has of a normal life in the idyllic town. A fateful encounter with a strange cat on the brink of death earns Holden a new enemy and some unlikely friends, but as Stillwater reveals itself not to be as conventional as it appears, the line between the two becomes irreparably blurred.

Daniel St. James is getting too old for this crap. The love of his life turned out to be a cold-blooded killer and while Dennis got away with murder thirteen years earlier, Daniel and the rest of the town are still reeling from the tragedy. Now some kid who claims to be a witch waltzes into town and all of a sudden, Daniel’s unflinchingly straight best friend is head over heels for Holden. Chaos has a way of following Holden, revealing a web of supernatural secrets around Daniel that makes him question everything he believes about the town he’s lived in his entire life–and everything he doesn’t.

Welcome to Stillwater. Things are a little queer here.

Special Excerpt

 

“So, tell me about yourself, Holden. Did you really come here for the plants?” The way Nick’s eyes shone in the moonlight made it pretty damn clear he knew I was lying about my reason for moving to Stillwater, but at least he didn’t seem offended.

“No,” I confessed. “Honestly, I came here because I wanted to go somewhere that was the complete opposite of the place I grew up in, if that makes any sense.”

“It does,” he said thoughtfully. “A lot, actually.”

Normally, silence made me nervous unless I was enjoying it alone, but being around Nick was almost as easy. “So,” he began, “I hear you’re a cat thief.”

“That damn doctor can’t keep his mouth shut,” I muttered.

Nick laughed. “To be fair, I’m usually the first person he calls to bitch to.”

“You’re friends?” I did a poor job of hiding my shock, if his grin was any indication.

“Daniel’s an acquired taste, but he’s a good guy. Just a little…”

“Obnoxious? Overbearing? Judgmental?”

“I was gonna say crusty, but yes to all of the above. Sorry about the diner. I heard he laid into you pretty bad.”

“That’s putting it mildly.”

“He’s just a little overprotective of this town. Thinks he’s its self-appointed guardian or some shit.” He looked me over, tilting his head. “Did you really take that cat from his office?”

“Yes, but in my defense, I was the one who brought it in.”

Nick shook his head. “Man, you picked the wrong day to piss him off. Daniel holds a grudge like no one’s business.”

“Good to know,” I said with a sigh. “If you’re such good friends, do you think I’m a charlatan, too?”

“Nah. I’ve got a good feeling about you, and my gut’s never wrong.” He shrugged. “Besides, I’m pretty sure I saw that cat wandering around earlier and he was fine. I don’t exactly believe in miracle cures, but whatever you did obviously worked.”

“You saw the cat? Where?” I asked hopefully.

“Outside Daniel’s place, actually.” He chuckled.

“What?”

“Just thinking about the look on his face when he sees that thing. He’s convinced you’re keeping it in your freezer or something.

I grimaced. “Glad I’m making such a positive impression in my new town.”

“Aw, don’t worry about it. You’ve made a good impression on the people who count.”

“Your aunt and uncle?”

“Them, too.” He grinned.

I couldn’t help but smile. Cocky son of a…

Nick’s phone buzzed in his pocket and he took it out, frowning. “Sorry, I’ve gotta get going.”

“A prior engagement?”

“More like someone is coming who I’d rather avoid.” He paused. “What are you doing tomorrow night?”

“Nothing much, really. Why?”

“There’s not a lot to do in Stillwater, but I could give you the tour after work. We could grab something to eat after.”

I hesitated, mostly because I was sheltered enough that I was having a hard time figuring out whether he was asking me out or just being friendly. Before I could ask, he added, “And yes, it would be a date.”

My face grew warm and I hated how easy it was for me to turn into a blushing schoolboy talking to his crush around Nick. Looked like my gaydar was off, after all. “Yeah, that sounds nice.”

“Cool. I’ll pick you up at seven.”

“You know where I live?”

His face went blank. “Yeah, Aunt Carla told me.”

“Right.” I laughed. “Of course. Small town.”

“Hope you don’t have any deep, dark secrets,” he teased.

I forced a smile but felt that old familiar feeling of dread creeping in again. “Oh, just a few.”

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

L.C. Davis is a trans & nonbinary author of lgbt fantasy and romance with a passion for representation. His current series include Queer Magick, Kingdom of Night and The Mountain Shifters.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

Tour Schedule

6/12    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

6/12    Happily Ever Chapter

6/13    Books,Dreams,Life

6/14    MM Good Book Reviews 

6/15    Boy Meets Boy Reviews 

6/16    Stories That Make You Smile 

6/17    Sharing Links and Wisdom

6/18    Divine Magazine

6/19    Queer Sci Fi

6/20    Love Bytes 

6/21    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

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Review Tour: The Great North (A Legendary Love Book 1) byJ. Scott Coatsworth (excerpt)

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The Great North (A Legendary Love Book 1) by J. Scott Coatsworth
Mischief Corner Press
Cover Artist: Freddy MacKay

Available for Sale at Amazon |  Kobo | iBooks |  Goodreads 

 

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host J. Scott Coatsworth here today on his tour for The Great North.

 

Blurb

Dwyn is a young man in the small, isolated town of Manicouga, son of the Minstor, who is betrothed to marry Kessa in a few weeks’ time.

Mael is shepherding the remains of his own village from the north, chased out by a terrible storm that destroyed Land’s End.

Both are trying to find their way in a post-apocalyptic world. When the two meet, their love and attraction may change the course of history.

—————

The Great North was inspired by St. Dwynwen’s Day, also known as Welsh Valentines Day:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dwynwen

 

Excerpt

“We celebrate Dwyn’s Day as a testament to true love and sacrifice. It’s a remembrance of the way things were and the way they’ve come to be. In the end, let it be a reminder that every one of us has the power to change the course of events through love.”

—Dillon Cooper, New Gods and Monsters, Twenty years After Dwyn

The gray clouds scudded by overhead, blowing in quickly from the east.

Dwyn shivered and pulled on his woolen cap. It was cold out, unusual for so early in the fall. The rains had been heavy this season, the wettest in a generation, and Circle Lake was close to overflowing its banks. If he stretched to look over the rows of corn plants, he could see the waters lapping at the shore far below, as if hungry to consume his village of Manicouga.

His father had consulted the elders, some of whom had seen more than fifty summers, and everyone agreed things were changing. Whether that augured good or ill was anyone’s guess.

He shrugged and moved along the row of plants, breaking off ears of corn and throwing them into the jute sack that hung from his shoulder.

Ahead of him, two of his age-mates, Declan and Baia, were working their way down the next two rows.

Dwyn frowned. He got distracted easily, and he’d let the two of them get a jump on him. That wouldn’t do.

He redoubled his pace. He moved with focus and purpose, and soon he was closing the gap with his friends.

“Someone’s being chased by a lion,” Baia said with a laugh.

“Or a tiger.” Declan grinned, his nice smile only missing one tooth, lost to a fight with one of the Beckham brothers the year before.

Dwyn grinned. “Or a bear?” Dwyn only knew lions and tigers from the fairy tale his mother used to tell them, “The Girl and the Aus.” He had no idea what an Aus was, either.

Bears he knew. The hunters occasionally brought one home, and old Alesser had a five-line scar across his wrinkled face that he claimed came from one of the beasts.

A shout went up from ahead of them. Dwyn craned his neck to see what the ruckus was, but he couldn’t make out anything. “What’s going on?”

Declan, who was half a head taller, looked toward the commotion. “Hard to tell. Something down by the road.”

Dwyn laid down his sack carefully and ran up the hill to one of the old elms that dotted the field. He climbed into the tree, scurrying up through the leaves and branches until he had a clear view of the Old Road. It ran from up north to somewhere down south, maybe near the ruins of old Quebec if the merchant tales held any truth. Hardly anyone from Manicouga ever followed it, but occasionally traders would follow it to town, bringing exotic wares and news from the other villages that were scattered up and down its length.

They swore it went all the way down to the Heat, the great desert that had consumed much of the world after the Reckoning.

“What’s going on down there?” Baia called from below.

Dwyn tried to make sense of it. “There are three wagons coming down the pass. They’re loaded up with all sorts of things. They don’t look like traders though.”

The first of the horse-drawn wagons had just reached the field above the main township. It stopped, and someone hopped off to talk with the villagers who had gathered from the fields.

“We need to get down there,” Dwyn said, scrambling down the tree trunk. “Something’s happening.” Nothing new ever happened in Manicouga, and he wasn’t going to miss it.

He grabbed his sack and sprinted toward the Old Road, not waiting to see if Declan and Baia followed.

Length: 34K
Format: eBook
Release Date: 6/14/17
Pairing: MM
Price: 3.99

 

About the Author 

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

Author Links:

Megan Derr on How the Trilogy Came About and her latest release ‘Waiting for You’ by Megan Derr (guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Waiting for You

Series: Lifesworn, Book 1

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 5, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male/Female (Male/Male interaction)

Length: 40000

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, friends to lovers, reunited, royalty, bodyguard, established couple, political, spies

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How the Trilogy Came About by Megan Derr

So a question that crops up pretty often is what comes first, plot, setting, or characters? For me, that varies from story to story. This particular one started with the characters and some of the plot (I wrote another post on the exact inspiration for this story).  I had a princess in danger, a prince, and his bodyguard, and an eventual threesome. I had an evil parent (though father become stepfather).

Since this had originally been meant as an erotic short for ARe, I decided to keep the setting simple. Two countries, one with obvious medieval Europe influences, the other with medieval Middle East influences. No magic. Pretty confined plot, in that there’s a small cast and they don’t move between a whole lot of locations. But as is my want and practice, I also built a world where all things queer are accepted. Her stepfather hates her, but only because she’s a threat to his power, not because she’s bisexual. It doesn’t matter to him if she marries a man or a woman, if they’re cis or trans. He just wants her out of the way or under his control once and for all.

And I felt it was important to lay out how this story came about, because there’s this idea that persists in writing, in art, that we must wait for inspiration! and be struck by muses! and listen to the voices! and that to purposely write something with a goal like money in mind makes us less. And that’s stupid and worse harmful. I always write what I want, but sometimes what I want is something that does not tax and exhaust me the way High King or Dance-verse or Tavamara-verse does, something that is easy to write, appealing to more readers than usual (since queer fantasy romance is never going to have the draw that contemporary romance does), and makes good money.

So that is how this trilogy came about.

Synopsis

Shanna has spent her whole life waiting—waiting to be old enough, waiting for the day she must pick a consort, waiting for a chance to finally overcome her despicable stepfather… and waiting for someone to finally banish the loneliness that comes with being a queen-in-waiting one step away from being murdered.

On the eve of the two-week event during which she must pick a consort from a bevy of suitors, two strangers arrive claiming to have been invited—though she knows full well they did not receive any such invitation. But the handsome, mischievous Prince Kallaar is too intriguing to resist, and his quiet bodyguard too compelling to ignore…

But she’s learned the hard way never to let anyone get too close, and on the verge of gaining true independence her stepfather will stop at nothing to see she never gets it.

Excerpt

Waiting for You
Megan Derr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Shanna sighed in the gloom of the stables, enjoying the dark and quiet, even the smell of horse, dragon, and manure.

Gingerly touching her sore cheek, the result of a stepfather who’d succumbed to a rare fit of temper and struck her, she went to get some treats for the animals.

After she’d given apples to the horses and hazelnuts to the dragons, she pulled out the small flask of wine she’d brought with her, upended a bucket to make a seat, and settled in front of her favorite dragon’s stall for a night of drinking.

She’d prefer to be making merry, a proper ceremony honoring her mother, two years dead now, but of course her worthless stepfather, Mercen, preferred a much smaller, quieter, and more somber affair. Just one more occasion for him to do what he needed to further his own goals while paying token respect to the woman who’d made him consort.

At least it was late enough she’d be left alone out here. Everyone else was asleep or on duty. The only person who’d be in the stable at that hour was Tikki, the stable boy, and even if he woke and realized she was there, he’d leave her alone.

All the problems of the day—week, month, past two years—tried to rise up, but Shanna had endured more than her fill of them for the present. They’d have to wait until tomorrow. Instead, she drank wine and tried to focus only on happy memories of her mother, the sorts of things her mother would tell her to think about.

She’d almost managed to achieve a good mood, or something close enough, when she heard voices outside. Voices that were not speaking Remnien. If she wasn’t mistaken, they were speaking Morentian, which was bizarre. Morentians didn’t travel this far north very often, and certainly not in the dead of a winter night.

Pushing to her feet, Shanna headed for the stable doors—and barely jumped back in time to avoid being whacked in the head by one.

Two figures, accompanied by horses, hurried into the stables and closed the doors behind them. The shorter of the two said something, and Shanna caught snatches of “finally” and “snow” and something she didn’t understand but suspected was a curse. Her mother had never taught her those words, though Shanna had tried to learn them.

“Can I help you?” she asked.

They spun toward her, going still a moment before removing the snow-crusted wrappings from their faces—which revealed extremely handsome men, tired and travel-worn though they were. Shanna swallowed, painfully aware suddenly of her own unkempt state: the old, ragged dress she’d thrown on, her hair only loosely knotted back, the bruise slowly forming on her cheek.

Oh, what did it matter? She was a princess—a queen in waiting—what did it matter if she looked good to a couple of travelers she’d never see again?

“I am sorry to disturb,” the shorter man said, mouth curving in a smile that reminded Shanna of the kitchen boy, Benni, who caused no end of trouble but always charmed his way out of it with smiles like that. “We are humble peddlers from Morentia and not accustomed to your wretched snow. We were hoping to reach the royal castle tonight, but I honestly have no idea where we are right now.”

Shanna laughed. “You’ll be relieved to know you’ve reached your destination, though you’ll have to wait until morning to peddle your wares. But come, there are places aplenty for you to stay the night, and the kitchens can give you a meal.”

“We’d be most grateful, Lady…”

“Shanna.”

Both men stilled again briefly before venturing farther into the stable, closer to Shanna. She moved backward a few paces and nearly collided with one of the two lanterns that lent the stables light.

The shorter man said something in Morentian she didn’t understand, the words spoken too low and fast to catch. “You are no lady, but the fine princess herself,” the man said, his wickedly charming smile returning. “We are most honored to make your acquaintance, my princess.”

Shanna shivered. My princess. She liked the way he said that.

“Shall we tend the horses before you attempt to flirt with someone too good for you, Kallaar?” the second man asked gruffly.

“Yes, Ahmla.” Kallaar glanced back at Shanna. “Where should we put our horses, Your Highness?”

“This way.”

Once the horses were tended, Kallaar returned to her side immediately, almost but not quite standing improperly close. “Now then, what brings a lovely princess to the stables so late at night? And all alone. Surely there are better places to be in this terrible weather? I should think anywhere else at all would be better.”

“It’s not that cold.”

Kallaar looked at her like she had lost her mind. “There is snow.”

Shanna laughed at his affronted tone. “Yes, but it’s early winter yet. Soon it will be so cold every breath feels like knives in your lungs, too cold even for snow, and everything that ventures outside unprotected freezes immediately.”

“How can it be too cold for snow?” Kallaar sounded affronted. “That sounds like a nightmare come to life.”

Ahmla made a noise that sounded like agreement.

“I’m certain many people say the same about the heat of Morentia. What brings you so far afield this time of year? Surely your wares could wait to be traded in weather you find more pleasing?”

“I come from a very bossy family, and there are things that must be done, and I am the one to do them,” Kallaar said, looking oddly intent for a man who probably traded in bobbles and knickknacks. “Not that I mind, of course. I am just as bossy and demanding as the rest of them—” He gave a snickering Ahmla a look. “Anyway, despite our grousing, we are happy to be here, my princess. Now, I do not suppose there is anywhere in this place where a couple of frozen strangers might thaw?”

“I think I can help with that,” Shanna said, smiling in a way she hadn’t since her mother had died two years ago. Hard to find anything to smile about when she was a prisoner in her own castle, constantly afraid she would join her mother in the afterlife while Mercen stole their kingdom.

“Splendid!” Once they were outside, Kallaar offered his arm.

Amused and charmed despite herself, Shanna made to accept—and slipped on a patch of ice, but even as she drew breath to scream, she was scooped up before she hit the cold, hard ground.

Shanna blinked at Ahmla, who held her like she weighed nothing, and was shockingly warm for a man who had seemed cold and miserable. “Are you all right?” he asked.

“Um. Yes. Thank you, Master Ahmla. That would have been a nasty fall.”

“My honor to serve, princess.” Instead of setting her down, though, Ahmla carried her all the way to the castle and only put her on her feet once they reached the stones of the kitchen yard, which were kept clean by the staff so they could work safely.

“Thank you again,” Shanna said and hastened inside to hide her flushed face.

In the kitchen, she found the late-night cook in the pantry and requested she see about food and beds.

Returning to Kallaar and Ahmla, she said, “You’ll be taken care of quite well from here by the staff.”

“It’s most appreciated, my princess. You are even kinder and more gracious than rumors say.”

Shanna highly doubted any such rumors existed, but she smiled all the same. “It’s sweet of you to say so.”

“No, it’s not. Don’t encourage him,” Ahmla said. “He’s enough of a brat.”

“You wound me,” Kallaar said with a pout.

Shanna laughed. “I will leave you to charm sweets from the cook, for I must to bed. It was a pleasure to meet you both. Perhaps I’ll see you again before you continue your travels.”

“Count on it, my princess. I could never leave here without seeing your lovely face at least once more.”

Ahmla lifted his eyes to the ceiling, and even the cook snorted as she brought them bowls of the soup kept on the fire for staff and soldiers working through the night.

Smiling again, Shanna bowed her head as they bowed. “Goodnight, dear sirs. Sleep well.”

“And you, my princess,” Kallaar said. “Sweet dreams.”

As she headed off to her room, still smiling at Kallaar’s antics and how nice it had felt to be held so easily by Ahmla, Shanna thought maybe for the first time in a long time, her dreams just might be sweet.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Megan is a long time resident of LGBTQ fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr

Tour Schedule

6/5 – Erotica For All

6/5 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Word

6/6 – MM Good Book Reviews

6/6 – Sharing Links and Wisdom

6/7 – millsylovesbooks

6/7 – Divine Magazine

6/8 – A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

6/8 – Happily Ever Chapter

6/9 – Bonkers About Books

6/9 – Stories That Make You Smile

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Release Day Blitz Drama Queens and Adult Themes by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Drama Queens and Adult Themes

Series: Actors and Angels, book 2

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 22, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 62350

Genre: Fantasy, performance arts, contemporary, established relationship, angels, over 40, open relationship, age gap, ménage, cheating, drugs, death, romance, fantasy, paranormal, cisgender

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Synopsis

Adam’s about to discover how much drama a mid-life crisis can be. He’s obsessed with Mannix, the nude model in his art class. But Adam has been married to Wade for nearly two decades, and they don’t have an open relationship.

Little do they know that Fabien, a warlock from the Afterlife, has secretly cast a spell of lust on Adam and his potential toy-boy.

As things begin to heat up, Adam’s guardian angel, Guy, steps in. But what’s the best way to save the relationship? Should Guy subdue Adam’s wandering passions or instigate a steamy threesome?

Excerpt

Drama Queens and Adult Themes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Adam

He stood wearing a velvety white towel and an eager grin. Either could’ve disappeared at my whim. I smelled the freshly laundered lemon scent of the towel combined with the odor of his body sweat, which I was dying to lick from his forehead. I’m always a sucker for a devil-may-care attitude. It makes me weak at the knees in an instant, but in this case, I was already reclined in my gleaming white tub, so there was no danger of losing my balance. The water filled to the brim, and I knew that when he joined me, he would splash the tiles below.

I’d only known him for half an hour, and already I was under his spell. Was he a young man of style, or was he a man of simple tastes? Did he have a daytime career that gave him the world at his fingertips, or did he simply have the freedom of freelance engagements?

Time slowed as his luxurious towel fell to the floor. His body was not toned like a swimwear model. His features would never inspire a dozen wet dreams. It was his everyday physical qualities that were driving me wild. That tuft of silky chest hair that traced its way to his belly button. He even had a little flab. Not too much, just a tad. To me, it signaled a man of zero pretense.

But as the towel was now on the floor, his upper body wasn’t what I was focusing on. He lifted one leg and eased himself into the water. The other leg followed as instinct lured my face toward his luscious…

“At some point, Adam, you do need to put pencil to paper,” said my art teacher. He had crept up behind me.

My wayward daydream vanished. Hopefully, I’d find it again before bedtime. I blushed and so did the nude model. I quickly drew a line, but it wasn’t in keeping with the young man’s form.

I was startled at my own behavior. A man of my age wasn’t supposed to act like a starstruck teenager. My instructor gently gripped my hand and guided my pencil to create a more natural line.

The model winked at me as some of the other students chuckled. Another budding male artist with bleached-blond hair nodded in my direction, smiling slyly.

“Okay, I admit it. My mind was somewhere else, and I apologize to the model,” I said.

All eyes in the room were on me.

“I’m flattered,” the model replied.

“It’s not like me to act like this, seriously.”

“Can I get you a glass of water?” asked the teacher.

“Thanks but I’ll get one myself. I think I need a walk. I’ll catch up on my drawing as soon as I get back.”

I rushed out of the classroom. This was all too weird in my situation. I was in my early forties and still madly in love with the man I’d shared my life with for the last eighteen years. We had a healthy sex life, even though I fantasized more than I’d like to admit. In fact, any dreamy man wandering past my view would arouse my animal instincts faster than a straight guy in a room of lipstick lesbians. But this young man posing for art class had my tongue dragging so close to the floor I was licking it clean. I was definitely not ready for a midlife crisis, or so I thought.

I sat on a seat in the corridor. Was I capable of having a discreet fling? I lightly slapped myself on the cheek, waking up to how ridiculous this question was. Why would he want to have an affair with an old fart like me?

It was the middle of winter, and I could already feel chilled air on the tip of my nose. I stood up and headed for the bathroom. I splashed warm water on my face. I stared at the mirror, giving my reflection some sound advice.

“Adam, get a grip. You don’t know this guy, but suddenly he’s invaded your thoughts. Yes, I know he looks really cute up there with nothing but that devilish grin and a pair of turquoise socks, but come on now, he can’t be more than thirty!”

“Seems like you’re smitten,” alleged the bleached-blond student.

He had wandered through the door and was heading for the urinal.

“Were you standing outside long?”

“I heard you down the corridor. Nothing to be ashamed of, really. This is my fourth class, and I’ve had to draw that same model once before. He hasn’t got the perfect body, but boy has he got the perfect attitude. Alluring, and if there is a god, available.”

The blond zipped up his fly and wandered to the sink next to me.

“I agree, but I usually don’t go around acting like a schoolgirl with a crush.”

“Enjoy it. Not all their models have that much charisma.”

We escorted each other back to art class where the other students had made headway on their drawings. I focused on the model’s socks in an attempt to concentrate on my artwork, rather than the young man’s prominent feature. Soon the ankles were added before my pencil carefully outlined his masculine legs.

As I traced up to the hip, I sighed as I studied his most manly asset. How should I draw it? Would the teacher fail me if I portrayed it erect? After all, a great artist should display his own feelings on the sketchpad.

I decided to skip his crotch and draw his chest. His slightly defined chest. Not too developed, but not devoid of shape either. The small tuft of dark hair in the center of the upper body was outlined with great care. Outlining shape was one thing, but defining the type of chest hair someone had was another. A trail of thick small lines was carefully added to the picture from the torso to the navel.

“Okay folks, pencils down.”

The teacher wandered around the room giving us feedback. The charming model reached for a pair of frayed blue jeans, which were neatly folded over the back of a chair just an arm’s length away. He pulled them up and carefully buttoned the fly around his naked assets, as he clearly hadn’t brought underwear.

“We’ll have him back in a couple of weeks if you want to complete this particular drawing,” said the teacher.

He gave me a cheeky look.

“How far did you get?” asked the model.

He grabbed his dusty-pink T-shirt and snuggled into it tightly.

“Not as far as I would have liked,” I replied.

“Let’s see.”

He strolled over to my unfinished work. I was anxious by the thought of only a patch of denim between me and the model’s private bulge. I concentrated on my artwork and tried not to let the man’s proximity lead me to more wicked thoughts. Who was I kidding?

I had to divert my attention to our teacher instead, who was heading my way. He was a funky, retired chap. Black thick-rimmed glasses, peppered hair, and beard with a gentle face. The kind of man who’d take long walks with his wife in the park and watch Sunday arts programs on television.

“For the short amount of time you spent on this, you did pretty well for a newcomer,” he said. “But what are these strange lines to his side?”

“Um, I had this desire to add wings to my subject.”

“Wings?”

“I know it’s odd, but you did say at the beginning of class not to be constrained by what we see, and that we all see characteristics differently.”

“Yeah, but wings? Are you picturing our model as some kind of angel?”

“Why not? I’m seeing caring characteristics.”

The young man gave me a saintly smile. The teacher stroked his chin before pointing to the socks I’d drawn.

“Are my ankles really that shape?” the model asked.

He bent over to take a closer look. I wanted to bury my tongue in the nape of his neck and lick off any imaginary sweat.

“Yes, that’s the shape of your ankles,” the instructor replied. He gestured toward a student near the window. “Ian over there did a better job on your ankles, but Adam really did well on your socks. The way the shape of the feet peep through the cotton is not something I expect from a first-timer.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I used to do a little sketch work last year but only amateur stuff. Still life from things around the house. A clock, fruit, dirty laundry, that sort of thing.”

“Bring in your drawings next week. I’d like to see them.” He spoke up to address the class. “Now let’s check out Ian’s work, and Carla’s. Ian knows his ankles, and Carla’s good with faces.”

We walked over to look at Ian’s sketch as the other students followed. Ian’s careful study of the model’s feet almost made them look bare. Carla captured the man’s cheeky smirk skillfully, making that feature alone the highlight of her image. The budding blond artist did his best work with the chest and hips, although they were considerably more masculine than they needed to be.

We all made the rounds, admiring and commenting on the other artworks before ending back at my attempt. There were unanimous compliments about the socks, sparking the suspicion that I must have a foot fetish. Like anyone, I had my kinks, but sucking toes was not one of them. There’s something about a tinea marinade that just doesn’t float my boat.

“You know, Adam, maybe you’re onto something with the angel wings,” said Carla. “I would have put a wry smile and devil horns on him, just because I think he’s cheeky. But you see him as virtuous.”

“Divine, maybe, but not virtuous,” I replied.

Everyone strolled back to their easels to pack away their portraits except for the appealing model. He stayed to chat. He even helped me roll up the drawing as I studied the way his skillful hands worked with a cylindrical object.

“I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks if you want to finish the picture. They use me at least once a month.”

“Getting naked doesn’t bother you?”

“I have open-minded parents. They used to take me to nudist beaches when I was a kid.”

“Only child?”

“Only child.”

“Spoiled?”

“A bit. Still am, I suppose, even living away from home. Mum’s always dropping off baked dinners or cookies for me and my flatmate. You’d think we can’t fend for ourselves.”

“I’m Adam,” I said.

I raised my hand, and he shook it firmly.

“Mannix. Please don’t ask what my parents were thinking when they came up with that name. On marijuana or something.”

“I like it.”

“I want to change it, eventually.”

“What to?”

“At this stage, I haven’t a clue.”

“Keep it. It sounds like the name of a secret agent.”

“Yeah, a pretty lame one at that.”

Mannix handed me my picture as I beamed at him, probably resembling a lonely bachelor with a crush on an enigmatic porn star.

“I’m honored you were taken with the subject matter,” he teased.

“Between you and me, Mannix, that’s never happened to me before. I’m sorry if I was staring.”

“Not blowing my own trumpet or anything, but Adam, you wouldn’t be the first.” He winked, which kind of made me feel embarrassed. “Do you need a lift somewhere?”

“It’s okay. I have my car.”

Instantly, I regretted this admission of car ownership. Could I grab those words from the air and stuff them back in my mouth? My beautiful partner, Wade, was not going to be home for at least another hour and a half, and maybe, just maybe? I snapped back from my adolescent thoughts and sighed.

“Do you want a nightcap before going home?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied with the zeal of a henpecked man about to get a lap dance. “I mean, sure. That’s a good idea. Whatever you want. Drink. Good suggestion.”

“Is that bar on Clarence Street on your way home?”

“As a matter of fact, it is.”

It was actually in the opposite direction.

“Looks like we’ve got a date.”

He walked ahead of me before helping get my pencils and my sketch onto the passenger seat of my car. It was a ten-year-old modest two-door hatch, which Wade and I had bought secondhand. We both used to drive it before my partner fell in love with a flashier sedan he’d found at a dealership.

I thanked Mannix as he walked to the opposite row of vehicles parked at the neighborhood center. The beep of the automatic lock made a sporty little mini double blink its headlights.

The young man eased into his understated luxury car with unassuming confidence. I was a sucker for material items I couldn’t afford, especially this type of tasteful indulgence. Mannix teased his engine before letting his vehicle make its way out of the car park.

I sat there for a minute or two, wondering if I was doing the right thing. After all, I was only going for a drink. Wasn’t I? Guilt was rising through my body. I could see Mannix climbing over me into that imaginary bathtub again. His basket of goodies inviting this old wolf to sample.

I turned the key and started my engine. As I made my way to the street, my thoughts alternated between Technicolor adultery and refined G-rated friendship. Did Mannix have an ulterior motive, or was I full of wishful thinking? It wouldn’t be hard to hide this fling from Wade, even if we just decided to meet up on another night when I was supposed to be at art class.

No, bugger it. Why wait? There was a bathtub waiting at home, and Wade was at his salsa lesson and wouldn’t be home for at least another hour. The tub would be filled to the brim, a bottle of champagne, two glasses, and a Northern soul compilation drifting in from the lounge room.

But then, I wondered what would happen if Wade’s dancing partner, Tim, didn’t need a lift home. He’d be home early. How would I have explained my need to bathe? Perhaps the other students attacked me with their charcoal crayons. Maybe the teacher hated my work so much that I was berated to the point of needing to soak up the tension.

I pictured Mannix on our sofa when Wade came home. I would try several coded words to let my husband know that a threesome was on my mind.

But this wasn’t our style. We didn’t invite costars to our bed. In fact, like most long-term couples we went through phases of being either solely devoted or acting more like two confident individuals. In recent months, we’d behaved like old souls who knew we couldn’t live without each other. We’d hold each other before we fell into slumber and awake needing to possess each other again. But it might have been fun to share that experience with Mannix.

I pulled up in front of the pub, still reeling from my own errant imagination. I took one deep breath to jolt myself back to reality. It didn’t really work. My sense of guilt magnified while I pictured that bathtub again and Mannix’s soft lips cruising toward my own.

“Adam, are you okay?”

My gaze darted to the person who was knocking on the windscreen. It was Mannix, curious to why I was taking so long to get out of my car.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

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

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

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

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

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Love a Fantasy? Check out ‘The Castaway Prince’ by Isabelle Adler (author interview/excerpt/giveaway)

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Title:  The Castaway Prince

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 15, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20000

Genre: fantasy, fantasy, royalty, androgyny, cross-dressing, friends to lovers, disguise, princes

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Isabelle Adler here today.  Welcome, Isabelle, tell us a little bit about yourself!

✒︎

~Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Isabelle Adler~

✒︎

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

There are so many superpowers I’d like to have! For instance, the power to slow or stop time entirely. I’d get so much done! Telekinesis would be rather useful as well; and don’t get me started on teleportation!.. The one thing I definitely wouldn’t want, though, is telepathy.

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

If you could sequester yourself for a week somewhere and just focus on your writing, where would you go and what would the environment be like?

I guess my perfect writing getaway would be a ski lodge somewhere in the Swiss Alps, sitting in a comfortable armchair in front of a roaring fire, with snow falling outside and an endless supply of hot chocolate. Hey, we can dream, can’t we?

What’s the one thing, you can’t live without?

Coffee. Definitely coffee.

What internet site do you surf to the most?

YouTube and Thesaurus.com

When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

Oh, wow. When I got the acceptance letter for Adrift from the editor at NineStar Press, I was ecstatic. I could hardly believe my eyes! I mean, somebody thought my manuscript was good enough to publish! I wish I could say I did a happy dance, but unfortunately, I was too busy organizing my kids in the morning. I told my husband right away, though; he was even more excited than I was!

Synopsis

Ostracized by his family for his sexual identity, Prince Stephan is forced to flee his homeland before his older brother ascends the throne.

Stephan has been drawn to feminine things for as long as he can remember, so when the dire need for secrecy arises, he seizes the chance to don the perfect disguise. With the help of his loyal servant, Stephan picks his way through hostile territory, hiding his identity by posing as a woman. His only hope for asylum lies with the man who had been his friend and lover three years ago. But when that man also happens to be the crown prince of a rival country, things are a bit more complicated.

With war looming on the horizon, the danger of discovery grows by the moment. With all odds stacked against him, will Stephan find a safe place where he can be his true self, or is he doomed to remain a castaway?

Excerpt

The Castaway Prince
Isabelle Adler © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“My, aren’t you a beauty.”

“Shut up,” Stephan said as he hoisted his skirts. The wind and the rain had made the pier boards slippery, and he nearly fell over as the wet fabric twisted around his legs. All his surreptitious practice wearing dresses and feminine undergarments hadn’t prepared him for the trials of this kind of miserable weather. In the course of a few minutes after stepping out of the relative coziness of their private boat cabin, he’d managed to get soaked through down to his stockings and narrowly avoided falling into the river.

Warren, his manservant, seemed to be rather amused by Stephan’s efforts. He was grinning as he watched him try to drag his bags onto the pier. Stephan really wasn’t supposed to do that, but the port hand was currently busy unloading another boat, and the prospect of warming up in front of a cozy fire had lost Stephan all patience.

“Help me, you oaf!” Stephan glared at Warren from under the hood of his fur-lined cloak. The man was having a bit too much fun at his expense.

“Watch your language. You’re a lady, remember?” Warren said, quickly coming to his aid, shouldering the heavy travel bags. “One who’s too pretty to be so bad-tempered.” He winked at Stephan and led the way across the busy dock, farther into the streets of the city.

Zenna, the capital of Esnia, sprawled on both banks of the river, its two halves connected by a multitude of stone bridges. This was a city Stephan had never thought he’d be visiting—certainly not in his current predicament. The royal castle, partially visible from the docks, was an ominous presence that loomed over the city and more resembled a prison. It spanned the narrowest point of the river with its massive arch of a weathered stone bridge. Built to withstand invasion and siege, it was supported by great rectangular pillars rooted deep in the riverbed, now almost entirely green with centuries-old buildup of slime and algae.

Stephan was glad when its daunting bulk was lost from view as they headed to the more genteel part of the city, where the smell of fish and refuse wasn’t quite as overpowering. They had to walk a good distance from the docks, but as they left the bustle of the riverfront and fish markets behind, the streets became broader, and the mud was replaced with cobblestones. The rain was bitterly cold, making him miss the slightly gentler climate of his homeland.

Thankfully, with so much traffic this time of day, they didn’t attract too much notice. They found a respectable-looking inn, situated on one of the main streets, where noble folk, even those traveling ostensibly without a retinue, weren’t an uncommon sight.

“My sister and I require lodgings for tonight,” Warren announced with a haughty air as they stepped inside the common room and the innkeeper rushed to meet them. Really, Stephan thought as he pushed back his hood to watch Warren dispense silver coins, the man was doing a startlingly good job imitating nobility, even considering he came from a well-off merchant family and not some backwater village. Stephan stood aside, waiting meekly for his “brother” to finish giving instructions regarding their meals and baths, and then followed him upstairs. He would be overjoyed to finally see a dry bed and a lit fireplace in a room that didn’t sway with the river’s tides.

They were given two adjacent rooms on the second floor. Warren deposited Stephan’s bags in his room before retiring to his own, where Stephan could hear him unpacking on the other side of the wall. He took off his cloak and fumbled with the lacings of his bodice, cursing under his breath. The wretched things were so wet it made them more difficult to handle, but finally the knots came undone, and the heavy dress, crumpled and dirty from the journey, slipped from his shoulders to the floor. The corset that cinched his waist and added discreet padding to his chest was next to come off, and Stephan could finally draw an unrestricted breath, standing in nothing but a fine cotton chemise and bloomers.

As this was a room intended for a lady, there was a large standing mirror in one corner. Its ornate frame must have been the pride of the innkeeper.

Looking into the spotless polished surface, Stephan had to admit his bedraggled state didn’t quite mesh with his idea of feminine charm. The paint he’d used to accentuate his lashes had smeared beneath his eyes, and his chestnut hair, usually done in a low bun, was now in complete disarray.

Despite the dress being uncomfortable at times—particularly when it was nearly soaking wet—he was growing more and more accustomed to it. At the beginning of their journey, he’d been nervous about appearing ridiculous, despite all the previous careful preparation and the endless hours spent on modulating his voice and perfecting his posture in front of the mirror. His shoulders were too wide, his hips too narrow, his gait too awkward. Perhaps he’d been lucky no one had peered too closely at a noblewoman traveling under the protection of her fierce-looking older brother.

It was one thing to put on a costume once in a while for the sheer fun of it, and quite another to wear it constantly, living in it and assuming it as a part of his identity, affecting a wholly feminine character at all times. Especially when this identity—as attuned as it was to his preferences—was the only thing keeping him alive.

Still, as he wiped away the streaks of paint and grime from his face and leaned in to look more closely—at the smooth cheeks so rarely in need of shaving, the long lashes, and the finely arched brows—the familiar similitude of womanly features reasserted itself. There was nothing overtly masculine about the face staring back at him. Turning slightly, he lifted a shoulder, affecting a coquettish pose, and smiled at his reflection. Maybe the possibility of him pulling this off wasn’t so entirely unfeasible.

There was a knock on the door, and he turned around in alarm, clutching the chemise that had slipped off his shoulder, but it was only Warren, carrying a tray with two steaming cups of tea.

“Your Highness,” he said, after shutting the door with his heel.

Stephan took the cup gratefully, warming his fingers. The scalding-hot fragrant tea made him feel marginally better about the world.

Warren set the tray on the table. He took a quilted silk robe out of one of the bags and helped Stephan put it on, after which he proceeded to pick up the discarded articles of wet clothing strewn across the floor.

“It would behoove you to be a bit more circumspect,” he observed in a neutral tone as he shook the water out of the velvet. “For a pampered aristocrat, you behave like a loudmouthed milkmaid sometimes.”

Stephan barked a laugh and turned away from the mirror. “Only when I’m too cold to wait on my servant’s alacrity.”

It was meant as gentle ribbing, not real censure. Warren seemed to take it as such, because he draped the dress neatly over a chair to dry, and sat down without waiting for permission, pouring another cup for himself.

While Stephan had been busy ogling himself in the mirror, Warren had taken the opportunity to change out of his travel clothes. The plain linen shirt clung to his broad shoulders, and his short auburn hair was half dry already. He was tall and solidly built, the very image of hale masculinity, whereas Stephan was slender and almost petite, with fine bones and delicate features. He’d been teased for these attributes since adolescence, but now he worried they were not nearly as effeminate as the situation required.

“You seem glummer than usual,” Warren observed. “I’d have thought it would take more than a bit of rain to dampen your spirits.”

“The prospect of being thrown in prison and possibly executed if anyone were to recognize me doesn’t exactly make me cheerful,” Stephan said dryly, setting his cup down and removing the needle-sharp pins that held his long hair back. “And it’s so…dreary here.”

He supposed his own anxiety made the surroundings seem more depressing than they truly were, but so far nothing about this city had appeased him, apart from the tea.

“At least we’re off that cursed boat,” Warren offered wryly, watching him over the rim of his cup. He’d had some difficulties adjusting to that mode of transportation, and spent the first few days on the upper deck, leaning over the rail. The experience hadn’t served to lighten the moods of either of them. “And no one has followed us.”

Stephan nodded in acquiescence as he languidly finger-combed his hair, working out the knots. There had been no signs of pursuit, or of anyone actively looking for them, as far as he could tell. Of course, he was counting on the likelihood of his seeking refuge in Esnia being rejected as outright preposterous. Just as his outfitting himself as a woman would have been thought to be. It was one reason—though admittedly not the chief one—why he’d resorted to this type of disguise.

“We’re due to arrive at the royal castle tomorrow,” Warren reminded him. Stephan could tell he’d been steeling himself to have this conversation. Again. “Are you absolutely sure you want to go through with this? You know what I think about this whole matter, Your Highness. It’s not too late to turn elsewhere.”

“We’ve come this far already,” Stephan said. “To back down now would be—”

“Prudent,” Warren interjected. “Up until now, we’ve been traveling by the waterways, which was safe enough. Not a lot of people, more privacy to be had, no fear of discovery. And if anyone thought you behaved strangely—well, gentle-born women are peculiar in their manner, you know? But it won’t be like that in Zenna. Here, there are real noblewomen aplenty, around whom you will need to take special care of how you conduct yourself. Not to mention people who might recognize you from before.”

“Who? The only ones who might would have been the members of the Esnian delegation to Seveihar, and that was three years ago. A lot has changed since then.” Three years was a long time, especially in that awkward age between sixteen and nineteen. Stephan was reasonably sure it would be difficult enough to associate him with the shy, lanky youth he’d been back then, even without the disguise.

Warren shrugged and took a sip of tea. For a moment, his eyes lingered on Stephan’s hands going through his hair, and then he looked away. “When you have reason to hate someone as the Esnians hate us, you remember your enemies’ faces. You send spies that would know what they look like. We’ve talked about this already, but what makes you think Prince Arlen himself won’t call the guards when he sees you? As you’ve said, a lot has changed in three years.”

“He wouldn’t,” Stephan said with a conviction he wasn’t feeling.

Warren rolled his eyes, his expression that of a long-suffering voice of reason. At twenty-five, he was only six years Stephan’s senior, but at times he acted like Stephan’s aged grandfather.

“It’s not as if I have a lot of choice,” Stephan said bitterly. He finished combing his hair and picked up his tea, which was rapidly growing cold. “I don’t have anywhere else to go. Arlen is the only one who might grant me asylum.”

“There are other people who could help you,” Warren said carefully. “I mean—”

“You know very well there aren’t,” Stephan cut him off. “None that would support me against Robert and my uncle.”

Warren opened his mouth and then paused as he seemed to reconsider what he was going to say.

“With all due respect, you have no idea what kind of man Arlen is now. Do you really want to risk your life on his ability to handle seeing you in a petticoat?”

Stephan turned away and walked to the fireplace, letting the warmth spread through his weary body. As much as he wanted to snap back at Warren, he couldn’t. Warren was right, of course, and it wasn’t only Stephan’s life that hung in the balance. Stephan’s title as the prince of Seveihar—even while he was fleeing his own country—offered at least some semblance of protection, while Warren had none. Furthermore, the circumstances in which Stephen’s identity could be discovered—namely, pretending to be a woman—would mean nothing but shame and ridicule for his family, regardless of his ultimate fate. Shame and ridicule that they would not react well to.

Stephan often wondered why Warren had agreed to accompany him and share in his uncertain fate—loyalty notwithstanding. More than loyalty, really, as a bond had formed between them, tenuous but certain. But it had become clear from their first night on the road that Warren’s plan had been to continue to dissuade him from this folly—a plan that had proved futile in the face of Stephan’s blind determination.

It wasn’t as if Stephan wasn’t aware of the risks. He knew exactly how dangerous this scheme was. He’d known that when he’d first devised it, but then it had seemed like a daring idea, a shockingly outrageous adventure, even if it had been conceived of out of sheer desperation. Making his way through enemy territory, securing invitations to the High King of Esnia’s annual ball under false names—all for a chance to reconnect with the man who had been his first love and best friend years ago, and seek refuge with him—it all seemed improbable.

But after surviving a third alarming “accident” at the royal palace at Sever, his home in the valley-situated capital of Seveihar, Stephan was more than ready to risk appealing to an old lover rather than tempting fate by remaining in the family nest.

Certainly, in coming to Esnia, he was placing himself in no lesser danger. Seveihar’s relations with Esnia had been tenuous for decades, and then there was King Feden’s personal dislike of him. If exposed, Stephan would most likely face captivity and incarceration.

At least the choice of disguise for his escape had come easily to Stephan. If he was going to be persecuted for his idiosyncrasies, he might as well embrace them fully. Stephan had always enjoyed exploring his feminine side, and despite the audacity of it, when the idea of this subterfuge entered his mind, he’d directed all his efforts to delving deeper into it. He was still not entirely certain of his ability to fool others, of not making some stupid mistake that would give him away, but it was attainable, given time. He just wasn’t sure he had enough of it at his disposal.

“I have to at least try to get through to him,” he told Warren. “I can do this. I promise I’ll be careful. And it’s not like anyone would miss me should anything happen.”

Warren wisely didn’t contradict him, but his expression grew pensive. He seemed to put his arguments aside, as he’d done so often before when Stephan refused to be swayed.

“I wish you’d listen to reason, Your Highness. But since you won’t, and we’re here, we might as well go through with it. I’ll fetch you some food and hot water,” Warren said. “I’ve requested for you not to be disturbed.”

“Thanks, War,” Stephan offered him a smile. The man insisted on addressing him by his title, but in truth he was more a friend than a servant; he’d become the only one whom Stephan could trust when so much was at stake.

Warren left to get their dinner, and Stephan shed his robe before stretching on the bed, luxuriating in the crispness of clean starched sheets against his skin. After a three-week boat journey at the wane of autumn, he was grateful for all the little comforts he’d always taken for granted. The linen smelled vaguely of lavender. Stephan liked lavender. His household staff had scented his pillows with the dried flowers, and he remembered the smell clinging to Arlen’s hair as they rolled about in bed, laughing.

He closed his eyes, breathing in deeply. The memory of that long-ago summer had lingered on the edge of awareness. Now, he could see in his mind’s eye the bright-colored light that had spilled from the stained-glass windows of the throne room, lending an almost festive appearance to the first and only Esnian delegation to Seveihar. How handsome Prince Arlen had been, wearing a silver circlet in his hair and Esnian royal blue. How happy they’d been later, finding joy in each other’s company. He wished he could stay in that memory a little bit longer, but it dissolved in the warmth, transforming into deep, exhausted sleep.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

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Tour Schedule

5/15 – Hoards Jumble

5/15 – Dean Frech

5/16 – Bonkers about books

5/16 – MM Good Book Reviews

5/17 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

5/17 – The Novel Approach

5/18 – Love Bytes Reviews

5/19 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/19 – Bayou Book Junkie

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Blog Tour Drama Queens With Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr

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Title:  Drama Queens with Love Scenes

Series: Actors and Angels, book 1

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 17

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72200

Genre: Romance, Literary Fiction, Angels, cisgender, Fantasy, friends to lovers, gay, humorous, Life after death, romance

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Kevin Klehr here today.  He’s brought Pedro, a character from his latest release, Drama Queens with Love Scenes.

✒︎

Meet Pedro, a character from Drama Queens with Love Scenes by Kevin Klehr

While Allan pines for his friend, Warwick, it’s Pedro the playwright who initially steals Warwick’s heart. In Allan’s eyes, Pedro is the villain in this novel.

Pedro arrived in the Afterlife after living in 1920’s New York. He was a struggling artist determined to become a successful stage writer, but his ego was larger than his talent.

He hung out with the wannabes of the theatre, and once sold his soul to write a Christmas pantomime for a kids party held by a rich socialite. Sadly that pantomime was not suitable for children and Pedro’s chance at becoming known in the right circles fell flat.

In the novel he’s finally respected for his craft in the Limelight Quarter, the theatre district of the Afterlife, but whether he deserves to is a matter of opinion.

Synopsis

Close friends Allan and Warwick are dead. They’re not crazy about the idea, so to help them deal with this dilemma are Samantha, a blond bombshell from the 1950s, and Guy, an insecure angel.

Allan also has a secret. He has a romantic crush on his friend, Warwick, but shortly after confiding in his new angel pal, his love interest falls for the cock-sure playwright, Pedro.

Not only does Allan have to win the heart of his companion, he also has to grapple with the faded memory of how he actually died.

Excerpt

Drama Queens with Love Scenes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

She looked like Jayne Mansfield without the attributes. Her cherry-colored wide-brimmed hat complemented her black unbuttoned jacket. A low-cut white dress completed the look. She seemed overdressed and would have looked better wearing a casual pink T-shirt and torn jeans, like a pinup girl sparking the imagination of a lusty army boy. Her pleasing smile said she had been waiting to greet us.

An angel stood next to her, barefoot in old blue jeans and a ripped-sleeved khaki shirt. While he didn’t have the glam factor of the female, his striking dove-gray wings drew focus. They spanned his height and then some, towering above his head by at least an arm’s length. He rarely made eye contact with us and stood hunched with his hands lightly clenched below his navel. His demeanor implied a vanilla hint of gayness.

Just what did we actually get up to last night?

My friend, Warwick, and I safely considered this scene from the doorway of our tiny room.

A moment ago, we had said goodbye to my uncle and his girlfriend, and now we were facing two strangers on what looked like the set of a Greek epic.

Our confused oohs and ahs echoed off the marble black and white tiles, which stretched so far into the horizon they became gray as they met a set of stairs. Each step alternated in color, again black and white. Someone had overdosed on 1980s pop videos when they conceived this design.

“What do you make of the red velvet curtains, classic or uninspired?” I asked my friend.

“Allan, they’re lush. Just lush.”

“Don’t be alarmed, gentlemen,” the Jayne Mansfield look-alike said with an air of whimsy.

As we nodded awkwardly, she shot a concerned glance at the angel and whispered, “Don’t smile like that. It doesn’t match the décor.”

Discouraged, he rolled his eyes and mislaid his smile.

I began biting my thumbnail as my eyes darted between our hosts and the opulent aspects of this room.

“A sex kitten and an angel,” I timidly said to Warwick. “Does this mean…?”

Warwick stepped through the doorway and addressed the angel. “Those wings? Please tell me they aren’t real.”

The angel gracefully flapped them three times before shrugging. I switched my denial into overdrive.

In the past week, Warwick and I had left our chaotic beach-town lives for a little break. My dead-end job was getting me down, and my partner in crime suggested a holiday would be the best remedy. Until this point, he was right. All had been going as planned. We’d visited my uncle Bryant and his new love interest in Melbourne before considering a driving trip around Tasmania. Who could have imagined this strange twist in our plotline?

Our hosts seemed to study us like a diplomat about to shake hands with a head of state. The angel endeavored to smile again, while the blonde bombshell gave us a moment to gauge our bearings. Then her arms extended in greeting like Jesus in a biblical painting.

“My name is Samantha, and this is Guy. We’re here to welcome you.”

Purchase

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

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

Tour Schedule

4/17    Hoards Jumble

4/17    Zipper Rippers

4/17    My Fiction Nook 

4/18    Stories That Make You Smile

4/18    Happily Ever Chapter

4/19    The Novel Approach 

4/19    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/20    MM Good Book Reviews 

4/21    Love Bytes

4/21    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 

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In the Spotlight: Immortal Watch ( Godsbane Prince 2) by Olivia Helling (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Immortal Watch

Series: Godsbane Prince 2

Author: Olivia Helling

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: Sept 23, 2016

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63,000 words

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Horror

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Synopsis

Bonded soul mates. Shocking secrets. Protecting the one he loves could destroy everything…

Ilyas defeated the Dark God and won the spoils of a lifetime: a new kingdom, a new soulmate, and a chance at revenge. Just when he has the chance to humiliate the brother who sold him out, Ilyas learns a closely-guarded secret. He has a son, and now he’ll do everything he can to protect him.

Jem’s life was pure loneliness before he met Ilyas. But with the Dark God thwarted, Jem is completely powerless. When Ilyas begins to devote his full attention to the baby, Jem becomes determined to win his soulmate back.

After allying with a powerful secret society, Jem conspires to deliver an uninhabited world where Ilyas’ young son can truly be safe. But Jem didn’t realize that his new alliance comes at a high price, one that may cost him the love of Ilyas forever.

Immortal Watch is a spellbinding LGBT dark fantasy novel. If you like rich world-building, captivating storytelling, and edge-of-your-seat action, then you’ll love this story of love and horror from Olivia Helling.

Excerpt

Ilyas cocked his head. “Is something wrong?”
I breathed deep to avoid stuttering. “What would be wrong?”
“Just that I miss that smile of yours.” Ilyas smiled in turn.
For a heartbeat, I expected him to clasp my cheek, to draw me close, to envelop me in an embrace, to kiss me breathless, like he had when I had awoken to find myself his tawam rohi . Ilyas closed the display box and returned it to the drawer under the berth.
I exhaled. Of course not. Ilyas had promised to teach me all about kissing, and more, but he’d spoken in the heat of the moment when I’d awoken. Perhaps the fantasy of teaching me excited him more than the reality. My stomach sank.
After all, I wasn’t a eunuch. When Ilyas had still been the prince heir of Nuriya, his harem full of buxom ladies and eager lads, the male form hadn’t seemed to displease him. So long as they were eunuchs, not proper men, as Nuriyite decorum dictated. Nuriyites heaped rules upon everything from eating to sex. Lumians didn’t care, especially when sex wouldn’t provide more mouths to feed.
Or perhaps the fault lay in me, as a person.
Ilyas sank onto the berth with a big sigh. His features seemed drawn and stressed. I perched on the bed next to him, reaching to pet his hair. He groaned, and I froze.
I wanted more. I wanted to learn how to kiss. I wanted to learn how to wrap my thighs around his waist. I wanted—
“It will be fine, Jem,” he said.
I never used to be so selfish. He shouldered the fate of Lumi, and I couldn’t help him. All I did was lie wide awake at night, planning to demand more from him, planning to distract him.
“We can play a game of Go,” he said. “And I will wipe the deck with you this time.”
“Like the last eleven times?” I teased him.
“This one is my game.”

Purchase

Amazon | Allromance eBooks/OmnitLit | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

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Meet the Author

Olivia Helling doesn’t believe in love at first sight… but maybe, just maybe, it blossoms along a few books. That is, after all, how she fell in love with her husband.

Olivia writes about the darkness and flaws from within, the struggle with self-confidence, self-perception and fear of failure, and fantasy and historical worlds that refuse to allow love between men. So be warned: happily ever after is not guaranteed.

The protagonist and love interest don’t always end up together by the end of one book. But when they finally come together, their love will be a thing of beauty.

Want to stay up-to-date on Olivia’s latest books? Sign up for her newsletter at: http://oliviahelling.com/snowmancer-emails

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A Paul B Review: Wooing the Lighthouse Keeper (Tales of the Briny Nyx) by Charlie Richards

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Wooing the LIghthouse KeeperCharlie Richards has begun a new paranormal series.  This time, her focus is on briny nix, or mermen.  The first book is Wooing the Lighthouse Keeper.

Wayne Thorpe has enjoyed being a high school teacher.  He is shocked when he is accused of inappropriate behavior with an ex-lover.  While the allegations are being looked into by the school board, Wayne decides to get away from the controversy.  He decides to fill in for a friend’s father who happens to be a lighthouse keeper, who is attending his daughter’s wedding.   

Zarek Rudiman is about to celebrate his birthday.  With this birthday, he can petition the nix court to change how relations with the human world are dealt with.  However, someone does not want this to happen.  The royal guard has come to arrest Zarek for treason to the crown, even though he is a distant relative of the king.  With the help of his valet, Zarek narrowly avoids arrest at the house but he is followed by the guards.  Through the help of a friend in the guard, Zarek escapes through a cave.  As he escapes though, one of the guards strikes his tail with a trident, severely injuring him.  As he swims out the other side, he must avoid the sharks that will sense blood in the water.  Exhausted, Zarek finally washes ashore beneath a steep cliff.

Wayne and a friend have just finished dinner one night when they notice a naked man below on the beach, obviously injured.  Wayne feels an instant attraction to this man, who is bleeding from both legs.  When the man wakes up, Zarek recognizes that Wayne is his Adelfi Psychi, his soul mate.  However, Wayne is not buying his story of how he landed up naked on the beach.  Zarek must convince Wayne that not only is he not in danger but also not to call the police.  Zarek is worried about undercover nixes who serve as spies in the human world, reporting to the court on the current condition of the human world.  Will Zarek be able to convince Wayne that mermen exist and that he is Zarek’s mate?

I feel that this new series is off to a good start.  Unlike the author’s other paranormal series, which featured scientists as the primary antagonist, this series starts off with internal turmoil within the briny nix.  It will be interesting to see how Zarek is able to return to the world of the nix.  Meanwhile, he bides his time with Wayne on shore.  Tran and Easton’s unintended initiation to the world of the nix set up future mating for this series.  This sets up what looks like another enjoyable series from Ms. Richards.

The cover art by Angela Waters shows a shirtless Zarek coming out of the surf with a lighthouse in the background.  It is a perfect cover for this book.

Sales Links:  eXtasy Books | Amazon

Book Details

EBook, 76 pages

Edition Language:  English

Published:  May 15, 2016 by eXtasy Books

ISBN:  978-1-4874-0709-4

Series:  Tales of the Briny Nix

Wooing the Lighthouse Keeper (Tales of the Briny Nix #1)

New Cover Reveal for Deanna Wadsworth’s ‘Naughty Cupid’ (excerpt and giveaway)

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Naughty Cupid by Deanna Wadsworth
Release Date: June 6, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Paul Richmond

Blurb

The name’s Lio, and you may have read the beginning of my story in A Cupid’s Wager. Well, hold on to you hats, because there’s more to tell about your favorite cupid working in the Gay Division of the Inter-Dimensional Association of Cupids.

Remember Ethan? That Aztec god of the winds who busted me shooting a closeted human with a gay lust arrow? Yeah, I haven’t been able to forget him either. Even though I have a rule against getting it on with other supernaturals—especially ones working for the Straight Division—my magic is drawn to Ethan and all his tattoos and piercings in a way I cannot control.

But after that night of mind-numbing sex, now I gotta face my evil ex-boyfriend and a suspension by the IDAC for “misplacing” arrows. They took my quiver, and I have to figure out how to get my arrow privileges back before they’re taken forever.

Ethan seems to think he can help me, but I don’t know how anybody can make this cupid believe in love again.

 

Pages or Words: 75,000 words, 178 pages
Categories: Alternate Universe, Erotica, Fantasy, Humor, M/M Romance, Paranromal, Romance

Excerpt

“You know the lust arrows only work if the person’s mind is open to it. I shot Raymond with a Class 4 gay lust arrow. They only have a little more juice than a few tequila shooters. They can’t make a straight man gay.”

“But that is what you are trying to do,” Ethan shot back.

“You know it doesn’t work that way.”

To prove my point, I materialized one of my long purple arrows.

Without warning, I stabbed Ethan in the heart with it.

“Oww!”

The arrow exploded in a burst of light and glittering purple dust, the blast blowing our hair back.

When the magic cleared, the stunned expression on Ethan’s face cracked me up. “Now, do you spontaneously wanna suck my cock?”

He gaped at me like I’d lost my ever-lovin’ mind. “What did you do that for?”

“Don’t get your panties in a wad. Class 4G lusts can’t make someone gay. You’re born that way. There’s even a Lady Gaga song to prove it.”

His big hand rubbed where I’d hit him. “You should not have done that, Lio. You have no idea what you just did.”

“I already shot an unauthorized arrow tonight, what’s one more? Besides, unless you’re gay, it won’t affect you.” I waggled my brows. “So what are you so worried about? Got sumthin’ you wanna confess?”

He actually growled at me.

“Build a bridge,” I told him. “If anyone has a right to be pissed off here, it’s me. The gaydar says Raymond is gay, yet you asshats over in SD decided to shoot him and a woman with true love arrows. Talk about a douche move. Forcing the man to lie to himself and everyone about who he is. And how is that fair to do to the girl? She’s a victim too!”

“The IDAC does not consider a gaydar to be a reliable source of information,” he said, completely ignoring the more-than-valid complaint.

Humans were born with a variety of sexualities, but there were only a limited variety of arrows to complement the IDAC’s narrow-minded ideas on sexuality. In a nutshell, there were gay arrows and the naturally more powerful straight arrows. Don’t get me started on the complexities of targeting anybody not gay or straight. I was glad not to be assigned to those fledgling subdivisions of GD because they often had to work with the jerks in SD. However, both primary divisions had arrows for love (red) and lust (purple), each with four different strength ratings—one being the most potent. In other words, the Class 1S love Ethan had been using was the highest strength straight love arrow—aka the most powerful of all arrows.

Hence his being so pissed at me.

“I’m not gonna sit here and argue politics with you. We both know I’m already in trouble for an unauthorized arrow launch. Make that two,” I amended, gesturing to his chest. “Why the fuck do you think I don’t have love arrow privileges anymore? Hell, the sparks our collision set off will raise questions too. I’m already busted. Fine! I’m ready to face whatever comes my way. When I set out to do this, I knew there were risks.”

“Set out to do this?” he repeated, looking utterly appalled. “You mean you have done this before?”

I swallowed, feeling like a child being scolded. “Only on unattached people.”

“I cannot believe you would do that to someone! A person’s decision to come out is deeply personal. You have no right, Lio! None!”

Yeah, but the Fates did, I supposed. Who put those bitches in charge, anyway?

I didn’t know what Ethan’s big fat beef might be—besides the one in his pants—but I had to get my ass out of this sling. “Like I said, I’m already busted. If you think Raymond isn’t gay, let’s just follow them”—I pointed to my unauthorized mark and the guy with him, both of them deliberately brushing hips and shoulders as they walked down the street—“and see what happens. If he changes his mind, I’ll admit the gaydar is inaccurate, I’ll turn myself in for interrupting your mark, and you won’t even get in trouble.”

He glared. “And if your arrow works, I suppose you get to walk?”

“If I’m right, and those two dudes get their freak on, you can do what you want with me.” Too bad that wouldn’t be those full lips around my dick. “But you give me back the gaydar and you don’t tell anyone I have it or that I was here.”

Ethan looked at the device in his hand as if it would explode or jump up and bite his cock off. His expression would’ve been funny if this weren’t so serious. He seemed to be weighing something in his mind, and I felt his anger retracting. Still, an aura of incredible danger and masculinity wafted about him. My heart thumped wildly, both from nerves and the exotic spiciness of his skin. Knowing his ferocious appearance was tempered with an innate goodness made me a little hot.

Okay, a lot hot.

Though it went against every rule I made for myself, I couldn’t stop picturing Ethan naked. Sure, I was as horny as any cupid, but something about this Aztec amplified all of my senses far more than usual—especially the ones below the waist.

“I cannot believe I am saying this,” Ethan said slowly. “But I will give you one chance. One. But if you ruin that man’s life, your ass is mine.”

“Talk dirty to me,” I purred.

He lowered dark brows. “You are not funny.”

“I think I’m a really fun guy. Especially when I’m naked.” I couldn’t help myself and gave him a suggestive wink. “And whoever said a little dick up the ass would ruin a man’s life? Ever try it? The orgasms are un-fucking-believable.”

Ethan curled his lip and growled at me like an angry cat.

“Jeesh, sorry I mentioned it.”

He seized my arm in a viselike grip. “Come.”

If I’d known going with Ethan would turn my world upside down, I would’ve grabbed my gaydar and run, taking my chances with my boss, the IDAC, and even the Fates. Because I wasn’t prepared for what was coming my way.

Not at all.

 

Buy the book:  Dreamspinner Press

 

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Meet the Author

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions at her local RWA chapter and with Rainbow Romance Writers of America. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. She loves music and dancing, and can often be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

Where to find the author:

 


Tour Dates & Stops:

Parker Williams, Divine Magazine, BFD Book Blog, A.M. Leibowitz, Velvet Panic, MM Good Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books, Alpha Book Club, Charley Descoteaux, Bayou Book Junkie, The Dark Arts, Happily Ever Chapter, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents, My Fiction Nook, Outrageous Heroes, Unquietly Me, Ogitchida Book Blog, Gay Media Reviews, V’s Reads, Oh My Shelves, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Havan Fellows, For The Love of Bookends, Louise Lyons, 3 Chicks After Dark, Book Lovers 4Ever, Making It Happen, Full Moon Dreaming, Jessie G. Books

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Giveaway

Enter to win a Rafflecopter Prize: A print copy of ‘Naughty Cupid’.  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.
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Love A Hidden Gem? Candy Land (Hidden Gem#3) by Lissa Kasey is the Amazing Trilogy Finale (excerpt and giveaway)

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Candy Land

Candy Land (Hidden Gem#3) by Lissa Kasey
Release Date: April 25, 2016

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Shobana Appavu

Blurb

Cameron “Candy” Michelson Jr. doesn’t have time for distractions. He’s too busy restructuring the red-light district into an adult playland for City M and running the Hidden Gem. But when his companion, Avery “Ivy” Laurent, grows closer to Jack, an investigator for the Institute of Scientific Study, Candy can’t hide his jealousy. Nor his own interest in Jack.

Ivy is crazy about Jack, but he’s also in love with Candy. Ideally, Ivy longs for all three of them to be together, but between Jack’s nonexistent libido and Candy’s supercharged needs, Ivy isn’t sure how to make it work.

When Jack gets called in to help the City M police department investigate a series of violently murdered companions, both Candy and Ivy brace for trouble. But nothing prepares them for Candy becoming the prime suspect.

In a future landscape of corrupt government officials, brutal BDSM crimes, and a host of dark creatures, Candy, Ivy, and Jack must work together to find the killer, save themselves—and learn how to trust each other.

Pages or Words: 100,000 words
Should be read as a series
Categories: BDSM, Fantasy, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Ménage, Paranormal, Romance, Shifters, Urban Fantasy

 

Excerpt

Candy groaned when he realized he was the most innocent in the dark side of the world of the three of them.

Him innocent. Unbelievable.

Dom, whore, and pimp, he shouldn’t inch at the idea of death and blood, but he did. Fuck. Had Paris known how worthless he was going to be when it came to monsters, gore, and the supernatural shit of the world?

He glanced at Jack, sighing over his natural boy-next-door beauty. His dark blond hair was long, curling around his ears, and somewhat unruly. It looked soft, and Candy longed to run his fingers through it. He’d met more handsome men than Jack, Paris and Shane being prime specimens of men, but something about him drew Candy in deep. His eyes were a soft shade of honey brown, with specks of dark chocolate that glistened if the light hit them just right. He always held himself apart, shoulders squared, head high. Con dent, Candy thought. But every once in a while he’d get a glimpse of something lurking beneath all that bravado—a childlike innocence and fear. It was the little boy hiding his heart behind the badge that made Candy want Jack so bad. He wanted to take that fear away, show him that while the world might not be safe, he wasn’t alone anymore.

Had Ivy even gotten to taste those thick lips? Or experience Jack’s strong arms wrapped around him? Had he chased away the overconfident man and fearful child long enough to see the real Jack? Did Candy have a chance? Should he even care if his death was just around the corner? Fuck. If there was anything he hated it was uncertainty. Whatever Aki saw would happen. Candy had no doubt about that. If he was going to die today or even a year from now, shouldn’t he just live every moment like it was his last? What would Jack do if Candy threw himself at him? Kissed the breath out of him? Asked to be held? Candy growled to himself and shook his head. He didn’t know where to start, but somehow he was sure aggression wouldn’t be welcome.

Jack stayed on his heel while Candy wandered, but seemed to be inspecting the property himself, maybe looking for clues that had been missed by the police. He had this nervous habit of biting his lip when he was deep in thought. Candy had noticed it ages ago, and it drove him nuts. It was an almost boyish cuteness that made Candy want to kiss Jack just to stop him from worrying at his lip, but now he knew it wouldn’t be welcomed and it irritated him. His tight pants bit into his lling cock. It wasn’t fair to be attracted to someone so badly.

He’d looked up the term Ivy had left for him after his last client: asexuality. A lack of emotional interest in sex. There were a dozen divisions within the term, some even sex- or relationship-averse, meaning they were repulsed by sex. Did sex disgust Jack? Was that why he hugged himself whenever he entered the Gem and refused to meet anyone’s eyes? Candy had thought it was just shyness, and maybe it partially was. He just didn’t quite understand. How could someone be physically able to have sex, but not want to? If he asked Jack, would he answer?

Candy sighed to himself and headed up the stairs. Even the stairs were caked in grease and grime. Ivy had lived here for several years, walking those steps in bare feet. Candy didn’t want to see, but he had to get his mind off Jack. The nastiness of the Red Delight client rooms would hopefully wilt his erection. If he’d been home he would have found a spare moment with Ivy to alleviate some tension. Here there was nothing but sticky floors, stained walls, and the stench of years of cigarette smoke.

Jack followed him up the stairs. Neither of them spoke or touched anything. A door at the far end was still marked with the yellow paint used by the police to indicate the crime area. Jack rubbed his nose and grabbed Candy’s arm before either of them could make a step toward that door. “It still smells of death up here. We should go back down. There’s nothing to see, right? You don’t want the actual building, just the land.”

“Ivy is too free with information,” Candy said, somewhat annoyed. How was it fair for Jack to know so much about him when Candy knew almost nothing about Jack?

“He worries about you. Wants to take care of you.” “Funny. I’d say he does the same for you.”

Jack shrugged. “He’s a friend. I thought he was your friend too.”

Candy stepped into Jack’s personal bubble. “I fuck him regularly. We’re more than just friends.”

Jack didn’t step back, nor did he appear to be shocked by Candy’s words, which stole some of Candy’s anger. Ivy had obviously not been dishonest with either of them. Though Candy had never expected him to fully disclose his sex life to Jack. “Why does that matter?” Jack asked finally. “I’m friends with Shane and Aki doesn’t mind. I know they have sex often.”

Did Jack really not know? Maybe he didn’t get that Ivy wanted more than friendship. Hell, Candy would have liked to get to know Jack on a more personal level too, only his hackles were always raised by the man. He had this feeling that Jack would have to be the man of the relationship. The guy in charge, the Dominant, and Goddess knew Candy hated to give up control. Not that he didn’t like occasionally having someone hold him down and pound into him. Fuck, his head was messed up. And why did Jack smell so damn good?

Candy stood close enough that if he leaned forward just a bit he could finally capture Jack’s abused lip. When had he grown tall enough to nearly meet Jack eye to eye? And the strength of Jack’s hand on his arm… Candy knew it could hold him, maybe even be enough to restrain him. He sucked in a deep breath; his cock ached to be touched and leaked in his pants. It made him angry. He was never rational when angry. Paris had been trying for years to teach him to bury that wild emotion and had failed. Candy opened his mouth to say something scathing, only Jack spoke first.

“I never got to thank you for the book,” Jack said. “At least not in person. I’m sure Ivy told you I was grateful. But I really do like it. It’s like owning a piece of history. I’m in awe that you even found it.”

An odd mash of glee filled Candy’s gut. Jack liked the book. He knew that, of course, Ivy had told him so, but it was different hearing it from the man himself. The anger fell away. Did Jack really see him?

“The cake too. That was pretty amazing. I have the rest of it in my freezer. Been eating it a little at a time. Ivy helped me cut it into slices so I could freeze it and unthaw it as I want. I’ve never been a huge fan of sweets, but the lemon and strawberry mix is good. I’ve never had anyone give me anything. Thank you.”

Candy gave in to his need to touch and be touched. Even if it meant Jack shoved him away, he had to step forward, close that space and try. He leaned forward, not daring to kiss Jack, but enough to rest his forehead on Jack’s shoulder, arm loose around his waist. He kept their hips apart so as not to startle Jack with his erection. He almost expected Jack to step back. But he didn’t. His arms circled around Candy’s back, patting his shoulder lightly.

“The new hair color is good,” Jack told him. “Makes me think of flowers. Not that you’re flowery, but I’m sort of hoping spring comes soon. I don’t like the cold very much.” He seemed to be rambling now. Breathing a little hitched. Candy couldn’t recall Jack ever speaking to him so much. “More you than that brown I saw you with at Solstice. And I’m glad the jacket ts. When I saw it last week I told Ivy it would be perfect for you. I don’t know when your birthday is, but if it makes you feel better you can pretend it’s a present for your birthday, or maybe a late Solstice present.”

The clothes, or at least the jacket, had been from Jack? Candy wished they were in a better place. He would have shoved Jack against the wall and proved to him how great sex could be. Only he couldn’t imagine touching anything in here and not coming away with some nasty disease. “Thank you. The coat is nice. Warm.”

Jack rubbed Candy’s arms. “That’s what I thought when I saw it. That it would keep you warm, and the color is nice. Bright, like your hair always was.” He hesitated in his touch, but Candy moved closer to him, assuring him that it was okay. “It’s been a while since I saw you last. I hope you’re doing okay. I mean, I’m sure Ivy would have told me if you weren’t, but it’s good to see for myself that you’re looking good….”

Jack thought he looked good? Manny appeared on the stairs a moment later, saving Candy from doing something stupid, like stealing a kiss from Jack.

“Oscar’s finished,” Manny told him. He said nothing about the embrace that would have embarrassed Candy had anyone else seen.

Candy pulled away reluctantly. He couldn’t meet Jack’s eyes as he made his way downstairs. If he had, he’d have said something stupid, like ask if they could go back to his place afterward. Jack probably would have taken the proposal badly anyway.

Yohan didn’t look any happier. And the offer was even lower. Candy took the screen and added a small sum of money to it. This was their final offer. “Take it or leave it,” Candy told him.

“You’re ripping me off,” Yohan protested. “Just because you can.”

Candy shrugged. Jack took the screen and glanced over it. “Looks fair to me. The condition of the building is questionable. I noticed more cracks in the walls and ceiling than the building code would allow, even for an older structure. There’s substantial water damage upstairs, so the roof is bad. Probably should have been replaced years ago. And then there are the health code violations….”

“I’ll take your offer,” Yohan said, most likely to shut Jack up before he could air the long list of problems with the property. Oscar stepped in to get his signature and thumb print on several e-documents.

Candy couldn’t help but grin at Jack, who gave him a nonchalant shrug. “Everyone out to the bus,” Candy instructed the companions. “You’ll be heading to Cardinal Sins.”

“What will we be doing there?” one of them asked.

“Paris will interview each of you and find a suitable job. Most likely serving drinks, food, maybe cleaning or cooking. He’s pretty well stocked in companions right now.” And all of these whores were well past their prime. Candy would have to find out where Yohan had sold the others to. There weren’t many brothels left in City M, and he hated the idea of any whore being left to be abused by some asshole pimp.

“No more whoring?” another clarified.
“Not likely.” He ushered them toward the door.
Jack still stood between him and Yohan. Yohan had several bags

packed and there was a car that wasn’t part of Candy’s entourage parked near the curb. “Will you be leaving town, then?” Jack asked Yohan. “I’d like to know where to nd you in case more questions come up about this case.”

Yohan shook his head. “Not my problem anymore. That belongs to him now too.” He waved his hand at Candy and made his way out the door and down to the car.

There was another unmarked car parked across the street that Jack saluted lightly. The passenger window rolled up, and as soon as Yohan’s car eased away from the curb, the black sedan followed.

“Ino,” Jack informed Candy. “He’ll let me know if Yohan leaves town or hides out somewhere. I really do want to know where he goes, just in case.”

Candy nodded, a little shocked by Jack’s foresight. If Candy had been thinking ahead, he’d have put one of the guards on the task. It was just more proof that he hadn’t gotten enough sleep. He watched the former companions all board the bus and sent a text off to Paris that they would be in need of immediate healthcare as well as clothing and jobs. Oscar held out the last of the documents for him to review and sign. Moments later, with money transferred, it was time to return to the Gem and to Ivy. If only he could bring Jack with him. He knew for certain Ivy wouldn’t mind at all.

Jack stood less than two feet away. He was looking around, a confused expression on his face. “Everything okay?” Candy asked him. He reached out to touch Jack’s arm. Oscar was already headed back to the car when Jack’s eyes widened in alarm and the same instant something sliced into Candy. For a moment he stood there, startled, confused at the odd, growing, wet heat suddenly pouring down his back, and then the fiery pain that erupted from his back and through his stomach. Hot pokers seemed to melt through his body, driving mind-numbing pain to every nerve.

His breath faltered as blood filled a lung. He choked on the rising fluid and spit out a gush of red and froth. The world turned into a wild swirl of fading colors, all centering on Jack’s face. His expression was horrified, and then a moment later, Jack was no longer there and a black tiger leapt at Candy.

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Meet the author:

Lissa Kasey is more than just romance. She specializes in depth characters, detailed world building, and twisting plots to keep you clinging to your book reader. All stories have a side of romance, emotionally messed up protagonists and feature LGBTGA spectrum characters facing real world problems no matter how fictional the story.

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