A MelanieM Review:Boy Toys (Hot Off the Ice #2.5) by A.E. Wasp

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

10 siblings, 7 fish courses, 6 hockey players, 5 cousins, 4 calling birds, 3 spouses, 2 houses & 1 night that changes everything.

Betrayed by first his body and then his girlfriend, Liam O’Reilly, assistant coach of the Seattle Thunder, is not having a very merry Christmas. So when a smoking hot hockey player in a Santa suit offers himself up like a present begging to be opened? Well, it’s a freaking Christmas miracle.

If only the man in question wasn’t hockey’s own bad boy, Joey ‘the Looch’ Luciano, his best friend’s little brother and the same kid who used to trail behind Liam like a loud, mouthy shadow.

Whatever. Wrong as it might seem, a one-time hookup with Joey is exactly what he needs to make the yuletide gay. By tomorrow, he’ll be back in Seattle, Joey will be in New York, and his troubles will be miles away.

But as Christmas Eve becomes Christmas Day, Joey weaves his way past all Liam’s defenses, and Liam starts to see the sensitive, caring man behind the cocky smirk.

When the last present is opened and the Christmas lights go dark, will Joey and Liam’s night together be just another Christmas memory or can the holiday magic they made survive the pressures of the real world?

Boy Toys (Hot Off the Ice #2.5) by A.E. Wasp is a Christmas short featuring Liam O’Reilly, assistant coach of the Seattle Thunder, and hockey player Joey ‘the Looch’ Luciano,  They have lived next door to each other all their lives, their families intertwined, often feeling more like one huge combined family than one.  It’s no spoiler to say that these characters will receive more stories further down the series but Boy Toys is the spark that sets the ripples flowing….

It’s an introductory story in many ways.  We get to meet so many of people of both families, the O’Reilly’s and the Luciano’s that pop up over the course of the series and the Thunder team, we see the dynamics that brought forth both personalities and how it contributes to the relationship, such as it is, going forward.

Here A.E Wasp is setting the stage for more to come.  IT’s a Christmas tale, full of family, warmth, sexy encounters, some of the very surprising time, and some revelations.  I loved it.

And recommend it.  Add this title to all the rest in the Hot Off The Ice series.  Hot men, great romances, and hockey.  Love it all.   Don’t miss out on a book.

Cover art is perfect for the characters and holiday.  Eye catching and bright.  I love it.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 118 pages
Published November 14th 2017

Love a Mystery with your Romance Story? Check out the Release Blitz for Warrior’s Way by M.J. Calabrese (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Warrior’s Way, Coulter & Woodard 1

Author: M.J. Calabrese

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Release Date: December 3, 2019

Genre/s:  Contemporary M/M Romantic Suspense

Trope/s:  Friends to lovers

Themes:  Crime solving

Heat Rating:  3 flames   

Length: 55 771  words

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Universal Link 

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

Will Eagle and Adam be able to stop a murderer while navigating their changing relationship?

Blurb

‘Hello, tall, dark and handsome.’ Out and proud gay Albuquerque Homicide Detective Eagle Woodard studied Dr. Adam Coulter, criminal profiler, with a clinical eye. ‘Slender build…narrow waist, but nicely muscled underneath that Hugo Boss suit. People think you work out, Kemo, but you don’t.’ Eagle’s dark eyes narrowed. ‘You know I hate that day old beard look, but you were probably too wasted to bother. Nice eyes, green when they aren’t blood shot. Flawless tanned skin except for that tiny scar through your left eyebrow.’ The former Army Ranger grinned. ‘I gave that to you accidentally when we were 8 years old. When you stood up for this Navajo kid in an all white school. We both got our asses kicked.’ Eagle sighed and shook his head. That was the day he’d fallen in love with 4 times married, 4 times divorced, current roommate, Adam Coulter.

Eagle and Adam are faced with their toughest challenge yet. They must find an active serial killer before he strikes again. With the powers that be not cooperating and the killer proving to be elusive, will Eagle and Adam be able to stop the murderer while navigating their changing relationship?

 

 

 Excerpt

The cool wind attacked Eagle Woodard’s body as he fell head over heels. He tumbled, body tightly tucked as he cleared the modified Cessna, momentarily catching sight of the blue, cloudless horizon before stretching out to embrace the air. Below him, the rust toned surrealist canvas of desert and mountains began to take shape as he allowed himself to freefall through the biting tempest. The winds transformed his tanned face, warping it into a mad, Joker-esque grin.

The former Army Ranger set his plan into motion.  Pulling his muscular arms tightly against his torso, the angle of his descent began to change. ‘I feel the need, the need for speed.’ If the wind hadn’t been so brutal, he would’ve laughed. How many times had they used those iconic words in training? At 38, it felt like a lifetime ago.

Eagle tilted his head down. He pressed his legs together with toes pointed toward the heavens, becoming a human bullet streaking through the atmosphere. He could feel the friction heating his head and shoulders. His dark, goggle covered eyes flickered to the left, quickly gauging his altitude in relation to the horizon. One…, two…, three seconds passed.

With an agility reminiscent of his aviary namesake, he arched his back, catching the horrendous pounding of the wind squarely on his upper chest, making it difficult to breathe. Deliberately spreading his arms and sinewy legs, he succeeded in capturing the furious gale, harnessing it. Using calculated care, he began slowing his descent from Father Sky toward Amá ni’, Mother Earth.

Eagle reveled in the multitude of sensations inundating his body. The angry roar of the wind deafened him. The white noise of the rushing air blotted out all sound except for the popping of the black, nylon jumpsuit. The wind strained the cloth protecting him almost to its limit. The powerful, talon-like turbulence threatened to shred his clothes, leaving him bare and unprotected from the tempest. The bee sting lash of his long, raven ponytail as it whipped against his neck and face revitalized and reddened his brown skin.

Four…, five…, six…, seven…, eight.’  With an eerie calm, Woodard counted the seconds. As he drew closer and closer to terra firma, his confidence in his abilities never wavered. Here he was master. Here he was the great bird of his people’s folklore. He was the embodiment of Atsáh, the Eagle, swooping with deadly accuracy toward his prey on the ground.

The Albuquerque homicide Detective didn’t need to see his altimeter. He knew he only had a few more moments of precious freedom. Reluctantly, his right hand moved reflexively to the left side of his chest. Gripping the cold metal ring, he tugged.

A grunt of air was forced from his lungs. The nylon straps crisscrossing his body suddenly tightened, drawing him up. Eagle grimaced as pain seared up his back. The sudden opening of his parachute at this rate of speed aggravated more than one old injury. Gravity, the purveyor of his discomfort, pressed his chin to his chest for an instant before the strain of rapid deceleration eased.

With skill born of countless jumps, Eagle maneuvered the billowing canopy toward his destination. Calculating the high desert cross winds, he made a last-minute correction which allowed him to plant his right foot firmly onto the center of the large, white cross target. As his left foot touched down, he leaned back, encouraging his chute to take the rest of the breeze until it collapsed and fell impotent to the sand. Instantly, the tall man began to gather the yards of thin ripstop nylon and cord into his arms, beating down any last show of resistance from the exuberant ram-air parachute.

Turning, Eagle reached up and pulled his goggles from his face just as his cell phone rang. Pulling it from his zippered pocket, he grimaced at the sight of the familiar number.

“I thought I was supposed to have a day off, Captain.”

“You do, but I’ve got an FBI agent here that needs to talk with you. Says you knew his brother. Here, talk to him.”

“Detective Woodard, my name is Kessler. Rick Kessler. I think you served with my brother, Dean, in the Army.”

The voice and the name triggered unpleasant memories of a time he had tried to bury. He couldn’t tell if it was his Spanish or Navajo side sending a warning chill up his spine. Suddenly, Eagle realized the man on the other end of the line was waiting.

“Yeah, sorry. Yeah, I remember Dean. He died in Afghanistan, didn’t he? Sorry.”

What Woodard remembered was what a closeted bastard the guy had been and how he’d used the knowledge of Eagle’s own closeted sexuality against him. Threatening to report him and risking dishonorable discharge at best…, or death if members of their team found out. He didn’t mourn Dean Kessler’s passing when he got word that some insurgents finished him. “Captain said you were with the FBI?”

“Yes. Detective Woodard, I’ve heard a lot about you and Dr. Coulter. I was very impressed when you apprehended Martin Devoreaux. I read the case report. You and Dr. Coulter are quite the team. The good doctor’s a legend at the bureau. His book on  Ritual Behaviorism Among Serial Killers is mandatory reading now at the academy.”

“Oh, Adam would love to hear that.” Eagle rolled his eyes. The last thing Adam Coulter needed was something to bolster his ego.

“If it’s alright, I really need to talk with both of you about a case I’m working. I think you might be able to help me.”

“Today?”

“No. I’m still putting some final touches on a plan I’ve got in motion. How about tomorrow morning at your home? I want to keep this as low key as possible. Strictly, on a need to know basis, so I’d prefer it if your Captain and I met with you and Coulter privately.”

Eagle unzipped his jumpsuit from chin to navel. “What time?”

“0900?”

“Sure. Tell Cap to bring the creamer.”

Pocketing his phone, Eagle gathered his parachute from the ground and slowly made his way to his truck. Stowing the chute away, he unzipped his jumpsuit the rest of the way. Dragging it down off his shoulders, he revealed a tan-colored work shirt and jeans. He pushed the loose-fitting black nylon from around his narrow waist. Wrestling the last couple of inches of fabric over his shoes, Eagle jerked the material free and tossed it behind the driver’s seat completing his impromptu striptease. He looked up toward the sun before glancing at his watch.

“Yeah…, I know, I’m late.” He said to no one, but the wind.

 

 

About the Author 

My mother now regrets her fateful words she offered the day I came home from our small town library in Palm Springs, California (yes, I’m a Cali girl) complaining that there were no more books to read. “Then why don’t you write some.”
My father never saw his old Remington portable until I entered college and they gifted me an IBM Selectric. By then I had produced at least two dozen unpublishable novels which make me cringe when I read them today.

I found inspiration in innumerable odd jobs (from migrant work as a Date palm pollinator to the person who cleans the washing machines at the launderette to professional Dominatrix) for stories. After a stint in Rehab for Alcohol and Heroin abuse (so when I write those scenes, I know what I’m talking about), I cleaned up and have stayed that way for 29 years. (Me and Sir Elton, LOL). My gypsy lifestyle gave me a unique perspective on the different people who inhabited the Washington, Oregon, Arizona, California, and New Mexico areas where I have lived.

After 3 very bad marriages to men, I finally figured out what was wrong and fell in love with a woman when I lived in Portland, OR 23 years ago. We’ve been married since 2008 (yes, it was legal in California at that time). We now live in Asheville, NC and love the people in this liberal and accepting corner of the mountains of North Carolina.

To learn all about my upcoming releases, news, and specials, please follow or like me at any of my links!

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Instagram  |  Newsletter Sign-up

 

 

Giveaway  

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win 

a $10 Amazon Gift Card and an ecopy of Warrior’s Way

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

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

A MelanieM Review: Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert

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Rating:  4.5 stars out of 5

He’s Mr. Right Now, but for how long?

When Russ suffers a Thanksgiving disaster, his gorgeous neighbor Esteban is there to save the day. And after an innocent mix-up leads to the former Hollywood hottie playing the role of Russ’s date, Russ thinks scoring Esteban as his fake boyfriend is a huge win. The newly discharged marine is healing inside and out and could use some holiday cheer.

For his part, Esteban is intrigued by his big, bad neighbor. He likes how his matchmaking cat brings out an unexpected caring side of Russ. Desire flares as the reasons to continue their ruse pile up for both men.

And pretending feels so good. From chocolaty kisses to late night cuddles, their burgeoning friendship is getting cozier and cozier. But as the end date for their little deception looms, all the real feelings they’ve tried to ignore come tumbling in. Each must decide whether they have what it takes to ring in the New Year as a couple.

Mr. Right Now is a stand-alone holiday novella with sweet, low-angst feels, spicy love scenes, and foodie inspired, quirky Oregon romance with a military flavor. Happy ending guaranteed with no cliffhangers!

Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert is exactly the sort of story I love to read during the holidays.  For me, it’s close to a perfect Christmas story.  Little angst, holiday celebrations, fake boyfriend trope, adorable animals (cats in this one), and a great chemistry between the main characters.

Located in Portland, a go to city for so many of Albert’s stories, I immediately took to these characters. Russ, the ex-marine trying to adjust to life without his life within the service and being  gay …outwardly gay for the first time.  And Esteban, the actor who has retreated from Hollywood to Portland and a new life closer to his larger and close family.  Two neighboring condo units, a wandering Siamese cat, and an attraction that jumps off the page.  Albert’s descriptions alone paints such a great picture of these two.

Russ is massive, tall, all marine muscles and haircut, gentle,  with a reserved nature.  Estaban is slimmer, Hollywood star gorgeous, older, and more outgoing in nature, preferring colors and a kitchen to cook in.  Albert’s writing lets us into their shared space of small condos, their introduction, and then growing relationship via the “fake boyfriend” need that springs up and doesn’t quite go away on schedule.  It’s lovely, sexy, and heartwarming.  And just what I want and love to read for the holidays.  Or anytime of the year.

It’s the romance Annabeth Albert writes so well and one of the reasons I would love for her to revisit this couple for their wedding.  I hope she is listening.  Perhaps a Valentine’s Day story?

Looking for your next holiday romance?  I highly recommend Mr. Right Now by Annabeth Albert.  I’m sure I will be rereading it over the holidays to capture the glow once more.

Cover art is nice but honestly I would have loved something a little more Christmassy,  but it’s ok.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published November 14th 2019 by Annabeth Albert
Edition Language English

Love a Fantasy Story? Check out the Release Blitz With Excerpt for Precariously Mated (D’Vaire Book 14) by Jessamyn Kingley

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Precariously Mated (D’Vaire, Book 14)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: October 24, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Trope/s: Fated Mates, Friends to Lovers

Themes: Friendship, Love, Self-Awareness 

Heat Rating: 3 flames   

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

 

A precarious road is no match for an enduring friendship of two strong hearts.

 

Blurb 

At the tender age of eighteen, Prince Niko Kyrkosdraconis finds himself at a dragon fair, trying his best to maintain his strict schedule of rituals that have followed him since birth, when Fate steps in. The appearance of two strangers alters the course of his life, and Niko sets upon an unforeseen path. Centuries later, Niko is doing whatever he can to pick up the pieces of his shattered world. Unsteady and uncertain, he struggles to place faith in both himself and those around him. Much to his surprise, he finds himself with a new best friend who he grows to trust like no one else before.

Royal Duke Costas Draconis is happy to be back with the men he calls family after ten years of caring for his irascible parents. Having a knack for money, he is once again entrusted with making the dragons prosperous. Costas is surrounded by loved ones and thriving on the outside, but deep inside he yearns for his mate. Then Niko comes into his life. Costas loves the time they spend together, especially their nightly talks on the roof deck, but he must constantly remind himself that the man is not for him.

Niko and Costas go to great lengths to hide their feelings for one another and everyone else, fearful that the future holds nothing but heartache. But things are never what they seem, and Fate will always have the last word, even when you doubt her. As the obstacles before them are slowly peeled back, will Costas and Niko find a way to call each other mate? The road ahead is precarious, and in the end, Fate will have her say, and only then can Niko and Costas prove that the strongest hearts will prevail.

 

Excerpt

Niko lifted his beer to his lips and drank deeply. It was a bit cool outside as the sky darkened, but he wouldn’t dare retreat indoors—not unless he and Costas could find another beautiful spot to hang out and discuss whatever topic burdening their minds. It was not a ritual but a tradition they’d built since the moment he arrived.

“Why are you grinning at your beer?”

Glancing up, Niko smiled brighter. “I just realized it’s been three months since I moved here.”

“Wow, has it really?” 

“Yes, and this was the second week in a row I was able to handle scrubbing my bathroom and bedroom only two times.” He refused to feel ashamed of those moments when his anxiety ruled over everything and he had to give in to compulsive actions. There were days when he went to bed happy that he’d only obsessed over things he didn’t want to forget and others where he was frustrated that even while trying to rest he felt tension. It was all a part of who he was, and just like the thoughts that still circled until he forced himself to stop listening, Niko handled it the best he could.

“Is there anything you haven’t succeeded in since you arrived?”

“I don’t think I’ve improved very much with my cooking,” Niko answered thoughtfully. The men in the house didn’t complain, but so far nothing he’d made was tempting to his own palate. Maybe he was being too picky. If his new family enjoyed it, then why couldn’t he? He wished he had more time to experiment but with his rituals, desire to read books to improve at his job, and the schedule the royals had to maintain with events he had to stick with weekends and one or two nights a week. He deemed himself lucky that no matter what was going on, Costas always found time to meet him out on the roof deck each night.

“Why do you say that?” Costas’s voice sounded off somehow, but Niko didn’t see anything troubling in his gaze.

“I don’t think it’s that tasty.”

“I’m sure you just need to find recipes with ingredients you like more.”

“Perhaps that’s it.” However, he’d purposely set out to pick ones that featured his favorite things, so Niko wasn’t sure he agreed but he didn’t want to hurt Costas’s feelings by dismissing his suggestion.

“The good news is that you’re trying.”

“I feel like all I’ve done since I got here is try new things. It’s been so wonderful to have so many opportunities. I can hardly fathom everything I’ve learned of this incredible Council and the people in it. I like my job even if it intimidates me still.”

“Sometimes we have to do things that scare us for our own good.”

“That does seem to be the case for me. I thought my anxiety would grow with new experiences but instead, I’m doing better at managing it. It certainly hasn’t come close to disappearing and I do freak out internally on a regular basis, but I’m slowly learning new ways to cope.”

“I’m so proud of you.”

Niko grinned at the handsome man reclining next to his chaise. Costas’s approval meant the world to him, but the most important person he’d impressed was himself. His dragon flew every few days and each time they soared together, Niko was granted more of his fortitude. Together Niko and his beast were forging themselves into a more confident version of himself, less reliant upon fear. It did help that everything that made him sick to his stomach was still in Greece. Niko still woke at night from terrifying memories of his time with his mates, but he refused to stay a prisoner to it. “Me too.”

“Elf’s excited about the law to help shifters get their training.”

“I know. I’ve been fielding calls from other shifter leaders for the past two weeks. You had a great idea, and I don’t see how it won’t be passed. There has hardly been any dissension.”

“I was inspired by you. You shouldn’t have had to shift by yourself without any training.”

As Niko examined his life, those scary minutes or however long he’d sat outside waiting for his dragon didn’t resonate as deeply as other moments. Yes, he’d been afraid, but his beast has assured him they were going to be okay. It was his position as mate to Andriana and Gelon that had broken him in so many ways. But those weren’t things he could speak to Costas about despite their close friendship. “I suppose not.”

“You have a faraway look on your face.”

“I was considering my past. It seems as if each day my picture of it alters.”

“Sometimes profound changes can do that. I had a similar experience when I had to leave here to take care of my parents. Suddenly I realized how much I’d taken for granted.”

“You gave up one family to do your duty to another.”

“Yeah, and it was cold comfort when my father berated me as my mother cried because she couldn’t figure out who either of us was.” Costas leaned his head back as he frowned. “I hope they’re happy now without pain or lacking anything they want.”

“Me too, and I’m sorry you weren’t able to resolve all your issues with them.”

“My father refused to listen to my feelings on any subject. I fooled myself into believing we could ever mend what was broken.”

“My father was much the same. It was his way and I had no voice.” Niko understood now that his parents had never loved him, and they’d kicked him out at the first opportunity. Growing up without their affection had made him believe he was the one lacking when the fault lay with them.

“You know, it’s been a long time since you spoke to him. Have you considered writing to him now? We know his kingdom is part of the Council.”

“I was cast aside because he disapproved of my mates. They are still the same. And that was simply an excuse anyway. I can see now that he never cared for me or my feelings.”

“Are you sure? Once they pass, there’s no winding back the clock.”

Niko turned to Costas and set his beer down. “Do you know I never learned to ride a horse?”

Costas lifted an eyebrow. “How in the world did you get around? It’s not like we had cars when you were young.”

“He decreed that I was to ride in a cart.”

“Did he give a reason?”

“I was a shy child who was overwhelmed by things easily. I’ve mentioned before that my sister practically raised me. Nitsa was always there to take me outside to play or read me stories. My father hated it. He told me I did nothing but weep and hide behind her skirts. I think I was five or six years old at the time. When the other young boys were being given lessons in weaponry, he told me I wasn’t welcome to learn. He wasn’t going to waste any coin on having a blade made or take up any of the trainers’ time with the likes of me.”

“Your father sounds like an asshole.”

 

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website

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Other Links

 Twitter  |  Pinterest  |  Tumblr

 

 

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

 

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Love Fantasy and Mythology? Check out the Tour for Shinigami by Xia Xia Lake (excerpts)

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REVIEW TOUR

Book Title: Shinigami

Author: Xia Xia Lake

Publisher: Self Published

Release Date:  October 1, 2019  

Genre/s: LGBTQ fantasy, Gay fiction, Historical fiction (it’s NOT MM romance)

Trope/s:  Friends to Lovers

Themes: Mythology; gods; supernatural

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 71 440 words /220 pages 

Add on Goodreads

 

Nothing is what it seems.

Blurb

A coming of age love story between the heir of the richest family in the Land of Yamato and an orphan. The human world meets the yōkai world in a power struggle for the fate of Fujiwara no Hirotsugu. While he battles to find his own path in life, Hirotsugu finds solace in a boy who will first become his secret friend, then his salvation, then, as they become adults together, the love of his life. 

The story is set during the Nara period of ancient Japan and will expand over a period of 25 years (715-740).  

 

Buy Links

Book 1 – Kogitsune.

It’s a 40-page short story and is FREE on Smashwords.

 

Book 2 – Shinigami 

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

Excerpt

Chapter 1: Kagerō
Kagerō: The quivering appearance of the mist rising from the hot surface of the ground”

On the day Fujiwara no Hirotsugu was born, Mount Kasuga was covered in golden shimmering kagerō rising from the ground to cloak the mountain in mist. The uguisu sang from dusk until dawn, and a crane appeared in the palace garden and didn’t leave for five days.

It was late May, close to the final days of planting the rice. These were the days when finishing the paddy field work was paramount, lest next year’s crops be affected. Yet in celebration of Hirotsugu’s birth, his father, Umakai, sent an order to his bailiff to decree half a day off for all workers. Servants from the palace went down the mountain to offer rice, fish, and sake to the poor in Heijo-kyo.

Gifts poured through the gates for weeks, coming not only from the greatest families living in the land of Yamato, but also from as far away as Silla and Tang. Even the old Empress Genmei, who had no love for the Fujiwara clan, sent Hirotsugu a gift fit for royalty: a sword replica modeled after Kusanagi the Grass Slasher, the sacred imperial heirloom of the Yamato Emperors. Since it was forbidden for anyone except the reigning monarch and the High Priest of the Ise Grand Shrine to lay eyes on the real Kusanagi, no one could actually tell how good the replica was. But neither could they deny that the sword Hirotsugu received was of exceptional workmanship and extraordinary value.

The greatest gift of all came from Hirotsugu’s grandfather, Fujiwara no Fuhito. The leader of the Fujiwara clan made a secret pact with Crown Prince Obito that on the day Hirotsugu turned twenty, he would marry Princess Abe, Prince Obito’s firstborn child.

Upon Hirotsugu’s birth, the Fujiwara clan made great plans for his future, and I watched from my throne of skulls behind the kagerō veil and laughed and laughed and laughed.

 

SPRING

Chapter 2: Uguisu
Uguisu: The Japanese nightingale

In spring, nature was at its most beautiful at dawn, when Amaterasu’s robe touched the hills and dyed them red, and the blooming cherry trees turned a vibrant pink. Hanging from the eaves of every Fujiwara castle were tendrils of purple wisteria, their blooms awakening to welcome the Sun Goddess. The white clouds above resembled boughs of cherry flowers.

When night approached, the birdsong gently shifted from cheerful to forlorn. The uguisu went to sleep in its pot-shaped nest, and the brown-feathered night thrush—recently returned from wintering in Tenjiku—took its place and claimed the night. Now and then, a deer would call and a fawn would answer back.

The day Hirotsugu was born, a young god wandered up and down the high-forested slopes of Mount Kasuga, tired from the day he’d spent blessing the fields and the future harvest. He would have gone home to Mount Kurama in Kibune, but something was amiss with the yōkai living on Kasuga and he’d come to investigate.

At twilight, he found a group of kodama and an old kappa gathered underneath the budding leaves of a giant plum tree, transfixed by its beautiful red blossoms. When he entered the clearing, they were trying to touch the blossoms, but as soon as a hand came close, the tree would raise its branches out of reach.

“Don’t touch it,” the god commanded. His voice was calm, but it came like the snap of a whip and took them out of their reverie. “It’s a ghost tree. It’s not really here.”

The kodama stumbled backward, frightened.

“When did it appear?” the young god asked.

“This morning, Inari-sama,” the kappa answered. “When the baby was born.”

“Baby?” Inari frowned. “Come closer, child, don’t be afraid. Which baby do you speak of?”

 

About the Author 

Xia Xia Lake is an Otaku & Slytherin that used to cosplay at every comic con she attended, until a kid asked if he could take a picture with the “old lady.”

She decided a couple of years ago that she wanted to spend her free time writing stories and partying with vampires.

She lives in Transylvania with her fiancé and is a big fan of Romanian cuisine.

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

 Pinterest  |  Goodreads

 

 

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

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Cover Reveal for Precariously Mated (D’Vaire Book 14) by Jessamyn Kingley

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COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Precariously Mated (D’Vaire, Book 14)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: October 24, 2019

Genre/s: M/M Urban Fantasy Romance

Trope/s: Fated Mates, Friends to Lovers

Themes: Friendship, Love, Self-Awareness 

Heat Rating: 3 flames    

A precarious road is no match for an enduring friendship of two strong hearts.

Blurb 

At the tender age of eighteen, Prince Niko Kyrkosdraconis finds himself at a dragon fair, trying his best to maintain his strict schedule of rituals that have followed him since birth, when Fate steps in. The appearance of two strangers alters the course of his life, and Niko sets upon an unforeseen path. Centuries later, Niko is doing whatever he can to pick up the pieces of his shattered world. Unsteady and uncertain, he struggles to place faith in both himself and those around him. Much to his surprise, he finds himself with a new best friend who he grows to trust like no one else before.

Royal Duke Costas Draconis is happy to be back with the men he calls family after ten years of caring for his irascible parents. Having a knack for money, he is once again entrusted with making the dragons prosperous. Costas is surrounded by loved ones and thriving on the outside, but deep inside he yearns for his mate. Then Niko comes into his life. Costas loves the time they spend together, especially their nightly talks on the roof deck, but he must constantly remind himself that the man is not for him.

Niko and Costas go to great lengths to hide their feelings for one another and everyone else, fearful that the future holds nothing but heartache. But things are never what they seem, and Fate will always have the last word, even when you doubt her. As the obstacles before them are slowly peeled back, will Costas and Niko find a way to call each other mate? The road ahead is precarious, and in the end, Fate will have her say, and only then can Niko and Costas prove that the strongest hearts will prevail.

About the Author

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website

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She loves to engage with readers there.

Other Links

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Blog Tour for Love on the Hudson by KD Fisher (excerpt and giveaway)

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Love on the Hudson by KD Fisher

Release Date: September 30, 2019

Subgenre: Contemporary LGBTQ+ romance (m/m)

Order here:

Amazon:

https://www.amazon.com/Love-Hudson-KD-Fisherebook/dp/B07Y8QKRF1/ref=sr_1_3keywords=kd+fisher&qid=1569490513&s=books&sr=1-3

Ninestar:

https://ninestarpress.com/product/love-on-the-hudson/

Goodreads:    

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47508320-love-on-the-hudson

Synopsis for Love on the Hudson:

At historian David Webster left his childhood home of Saugerties, New York ten years ago and hasn’t looked back. Intelligent, successful, and proud of his sexuality, David has built a comfortable, if lonely, life in Chicago. But when he learns his father has suffered a debilitating stroke, he decides to leave his prestigious museum job and move home to care for his dad. Until now David has never questioned his devotion to academic and professional success. Suddenly he’s forced to confront and reevaluate his desires, chief among them, his former best friend Nick.

Nick Patras has spent his entire life trying to be the perfect Greek son. From devoting himself to football, to forgoing an athletic scholarship to work at his family’s diner, to denying his sexuality and getting married to his high school sweetheart, Nick got used to putting his family’s dreams ahead of his own. The facade shattered, however, when Nick divorced his wife and left the family business to follow his dream of starting an organic farm. Finally content with the life he’s built for himself, Nick is still haunted by the mistake that ended his friendship with David a decade earlier.

When David and Nick reunite their old feelings are undeniable, but can David trust Nick with his heart a second time around? As David embarks on a new career as an artist, he must decide whether or not Nick fits into this composition.

Teasers:

“Can you give me another chance?” The naked hope in Nick’s face sends a jolt of warmth right through my heart. “I know I don’t deserve it but I want to at least be your friend again. And if you’d be willing, I want to be with you for real.”

Excerpt :

Five hours later I find myself behind the wheel of a white rental sedan barreling up I-87 in the direction of Saugerties, a perfectly nice town I’d hoped never to see again. The sky is the same mottled gray as it was back in Chicago, the snow along the highway the same dirt-tinged pewter. The passing cars are spattered with white salt stains. I drive in silence, every radio station bothering me with shrill commercials or horrendous blends of the 80s, 90s, and today.

My mind falls into a chaotic tailspin. I want to call Marc and see how the meeting went. I want to call Jimmy again and see if there is any update on my dad’s condition. The doctors are worried his vision was compromised but needed to run another test. I want to call Anna to hear her soothing voice and ask the one question that absolutely shouldn’t be on my mind right now. Has she seen Nick recently? Again, his gray eyes and those dark lashes flit across my mind and I grip the wheel harder. I need to focus. Plus I won’t even see him. He moved across town when he got married. He doesn’t live in the house across the street anymore.

Author Bio:

KD Fisher is a queer New England-based writer of authentic, heartfelt LGBTQ+ narratives. KD grew up all over the United States, bouncing from North Carolina to Hawaiʻi to Illinois, and finally settling in Maine where she spends far too much time at the beach.

When KD isn’t writing, she can usually be found hiking with her overly enthusiastic dog, obsessing over plants, or cooking elaborate meals. She loves classic country, perfectly ripe tomatoes, and falling asleep in the sun.

Author links:

Website: https://www.kdfisherromance.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/kdfisherauthor/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kdfisher_author

Newsletter: https://squarespace.us18.list-manage.com/subscribe/post?u=f5e2b33c3ff839fc7ef512330&id=e20f3c6133

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/kdfisherauthor/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18177834.KD_Fisher

 

Giveaway:

Win one of 3 packages of a signed physical copy + postcard of LOVE ON THE HUDSON by KD Fisher!

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Adore a Friends to Lover Romance? Check Out the Release Blitz for Amalgamated by Becca Seymour (excerpt and giveaway)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Amalgamated

Author: Becca Seymour

Publisher: Rainbow Tree Publishing

Cover Artist: Soxsational Cover Art

Release Date: September 28, 2019

Genre/s: Small-Town M/M Romance

Trope/s: Friends to lovers, May to December, 

Themes: Forgiveness

Heat Rating: 3 flames     

Length:  18 000 words/70 pages approx.

It is a standalone story.

Add on Goodreads

Realigned (Coming Home #1) – FREE READ

 

 

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Amazon CA  |  Amazon AU

  iTunes   |  Kobo  |  Nook 

 

Escape with Leo and Zak in outback Australia as they discover it sometimes takes time, distance, and interfering family to amalgamate.

 

Blurb

After five years of living in the UK, it’s time for Leo to return home to his dad’s stud farm in outback Australia. He has no idea what to expect when he arrives. He didn’t exactly leave with balloons and banners.

Nope. His farewell involved destruction and his own heart split in two.

He knows seeing the man who’s always held his heart, Zak, is going to be awkward. The older farm manager made his feelings pretty damn clear when Leo hightailed it out of there.

Leo quickly figures out life is going to get complicated and a whole heap more exciting as his trip home becomes so much more. 

Amalgamated is a fun and steamy M/M short story in Becca Seymour’s Coming Home series. Stand-alone romances complete with heat, wit, and happily ever afters.

 

 

Excerpt 

“Promise you won’t be mad.”

Groaning, I shook my head. Any request starting that way was going to result in me being pissed off. “What did you do?”

This time her glance my way had me tensing. Concern flickered in her eyes. When she focused on the road ahead, she blew out her cheeks, her lips pursed. “We’re heading to mine.”

“Okay?” I dragged out the word. I’d figured that out since we weren’t heading towards Dad and Michelle’s. 

“Dad kinda got excited about you coming home.”

My stomach dipped. I just knew where she was heading with this. Slamming my eyes shut, I waited for her next words.

They came out in a rush. “Sohekindainvitedaheapofpeopleover. But…” She gasped for breath. “…it’s not technically a party, as there aren’t banners or balloons.” 

My eyes sprang open, and I stared at her wide-eyed.

She glanced at me, a mix of horror and amusement on her face. “You owe me big for talking him out of that.”

“Yet you couldn’t have talked him into a small family meal?”

She shrugged. “I did try, but, Leo.” She paused, emotion swirling in her eyes, and I swallowed. This was just one of the reasons I’d stayed away. Guilt still clawed at me whenever I gave it life. “Dad was so excited you were coming home. You know he still doesn’t understand why you left. If it had just been heading to the city, that would have been a struggle, but you travelled to the other side of the world.”

My gut clenched. I still felt shit for leaving my dad, but I had my own life to live, and taking over my dad’s stud farm wasn’t what I wanted. Plus there was the major screw-up with how I destroyed any semblance of a friendship with Zak.

“There’s more.”

I flashed Jen a resigned look. 

“Dad obviously invited Zak.”

My heart seized, and my gut churned. This could not be happening. While I’d anticipated seeing him, I wasn’t prepared for it to be the first night I got home. In hindsight, this was ridiculously naïve of me, considering his place was only a hundred metres or so away from the main house on the property.

“I know, I know, but best to get the whole awkwardness out of the way, right?” She reached out and gave my hand a small squeeze. After I’d run out on Zak the night I’d left, it had taken just a handful of calls from Jen for her to recognize something was wrong and for me to spill my guts. We remained close, even with the distance of the past five years, and without her in my corner, life certainly would have been trickier. 

“Yeah, I suppose.” There was something to be said for ripping the Band-Aid off, but my gut clenched in anticipation. 

 

About the Author

Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.  

Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.   

 

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter: @beccaseymour_ 

Instagram

BookBub

QueeRomanceInk

Goodreads

Newsletter

Amazon

 

 

Giveaway

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

A MelanieM Review: Pure Dumb Luck by Dahlia Donovan

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Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

When two small-town country dudes win the lottery, they finally find the courage to speak their truth.

An unexpected adventure follows.

Linwood “Woody” Robinson has a routine. He works for his baby brother in construction, buys three lottery tickets every week, and lusts after his best friend from high school. He’s done the same thing for twenty years.

Eddison “Eddie” Howard owns the only gas station in their small South Carolina town, sells lottery tickets, and lusts after his best friend from afar. They joke around but never speak their truth. He knows they’re cowards but can’t seem to find the courage to bridge the gulf between them.

And then they win eighty million dollars.

Life changes.

They go from never talking about their feelings to facing the world together.

Can anything pull them apart?

Pure Dumb Luck by Dahlia Donovan is a sweet, contemporary romance from one of my favorite authors.  A story on the shorter side, it goes quickly, especially as the two men have been in love with each other since they were teenagers, although they never really acted on it.  So you have a, more or less, established relationship that moves into a next stage during a series of trips around the world.  It’s cute, full of romance, not much angst (a tiny bit) and a nice cast of secondary characters.

Things I especially enjoyed was the fact that this was an older couple, the men having known each other for years.  But that same element also made me wish for more of their past history, perhaps scenes or a more solid foundation for their relationship to spring into a full born deep love that’s seen here.  They apparently have loved each other for 20 years yet it takes a win and a kiss for all that to come pouring out?

I wanted to know more about them.  Instead I actually got too much of a travelogue.  Too much hiking or whatever they were doing when all I wanted was more of their dynamics or interaction. Dahlia Donovan is excellent at layered characters and interesting relationships and I was looking forward to a couple who had delayed theirs 20 years.  Instead I got a tour.

Yes, parts of this story was undoubtedly endearing and some scenes were sweet.  But I still wanted more depth.  Or perhaps a balance between travel and relationship that  felt was missing.

I did enjoy it and the reading went quickly as I said.  It was a nice, sweet story.  And I always love seeing a older couple get their HEA.

Cover art:  Well at least one half of the couple looks like they could be the right age.  Cute and eye catching.

Sales Links:Hot Tree Publishing | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads

Book Details:

ebook, 129 pages
Published September 28th 2019 by Hot Tree Publishing
ISBN139781925853841

New Release Blitz for Clueless Cabot by André D. Michaels (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Clueless Cabot
Author: André D. Michaels
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: September 16, 2019
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 25900
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, friends to lovers, first time, hurt-comfort, gay, bi, family drama

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Young gay professional Cabot MacCrae has been in love with his sexy best friend, Lloyd, since high school. They’re in perfect sync on almost everything. The only problem is that Lloyd is straight.

Cabot resigned himself long ago to pining hopelessly. Then Lloyd, a roofer, takes a bad fall and injures his collarbone. When he needs some TLC, there’s no question that Cabot will be the one to nurse his friend back to health. But Lloyd’s scantily clad presence in Cabot’s house brings out Cabot’s old longings.

But when Lloyd’s well-meaning mother and aunt fix Cabot up with a blind date, Lloyd reacts like a jealous boyfriend. Lloyd’s reaction makes Cabot wonder if those longings are as unrequited as he’s always assumed. What if Lloyd has been pining for him all these years? Has Cabot just been clueless all along?

Excerpt

Clueless Cabot
André D. Michaels © 2019
All Rights Reserved

DISH

Half an hour before Club Sandwich closed, Cabot McCrae knew he wasn’t going home with anybody. Once again, he’d sat in the corner, nursing his two drinks, eyeing the crowd for someone, anyone, who might be worth pursuing. And once again, as the ice cubes melted in the glass, he sat and did nothing while the few who drew his interest paired up with others and went off into the night. One or two drinks were sent his way, but the guys who sent them seemed creepy and stalkerish, and Cabot declined as politely as he could.

How the hell do guys find each other?

People talked about what a meat market this bar was, but if so, then Cabot was definitely not USDA Choice beef. Maybe not even leftover bologna.

“Thanks, Hank.” He dropped a five on the bar. Hank gave him a casual salute.

The cute Italian busboy didn’t even meet Cabot’s eye. The burly bouncer barely grunted as Cabot left the club. The darkness and cold, relative silence outside brought relief from the flashing lights, steamy heat, and pounding bass inside.

Cabot got in his car and checked his phone. Ring me, said the text from Lloyd.

At 1:45 in the morning, Cabot wasn’t about to call his best friend. He texted back: In the a.m. Beat, dude.

Immediately, Lloyd texted back. Understood. Hope you made out.

Cabot smiled grimly and started the car to head home. No, I didn’t make out. I never make out. Nobody wants to make out. But he wasn’t going to text that to Lloyd, either.

Lloyd always got lucky at the drop of a hat. He’d slept with more women than Cabot could count. He even juggled several girlfriends at a time, managing somehow to keep them all happy and coming back for more.

Not Cabot. He hadn’t gone on a date in—how many months? And he and good ol’ Rosie Palm were better acquainted than ever before.

The lights of the warehouse district behind him, he pulled into the garage below his apartment complex and parked the car. He sat there for several minutes, running his hands over his face. People tell me I’m cute, he kept repeating in his head. But he sure didn’t feel cute after one of these nights. No one talked to him. No one approached him.

No one wanted him.

His phone buzzed. Another text from Lloyd: Sweet dreams dude.

Back in his apartment, Cabot showered and padded naked into the kitchen. The blue calla lilies he’d bought himself were withered in the vase on the table.

He could have another drink. And unlike drinking at the bar, getting drunk at home wouldn’t make him go home with somebody he’d be embarrassed to wake up next to. Well, unless you counted waking up with yourself.

He virtually never wore clothes around the apartment. Nobody could see in. Nobody came to visit except Lloyd, and Cabot usually remembered to pull on some shorts or sweats when Lloyd visited. And when he didn’t remember, Lloyd didn’t care. Why would he? Lloyd was straight.

And besides, since he didn’t get much sex with anybody else, being a nudist at home gave him easy access to the one man who always enjoyed his lovemaking: himself.

His phone by the door buzzed again. Jesus, Lloyd, give it a rest already.

The text read: Yo dude, call me, man. Really.

Okay, that was scary. Cabot hit the call button.

“Hey,” said Lloyd’s sleepy voice.

“Hey. You okay, bro?”

“Sure. Kinda. No.”

“Okay, that’s three answers. What’s going on?”

“Just flirting with the nurse, man. He says I have to talk to you later.”

“Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa. You’re flirting with a male nurse? What the hell is going on, Lloyd?”

“What? He’s cute.”

“Uh…you’re straight. What kind of drugs do they have you on?”

Lloyd sighed. “Just c’mon to the ER, man. Central MC. They’ll release me if I have a ride.”

“ER? What the fuck happened?”

“Tell you later. You gonna be my ride?”

“You got it, man. Be there in like five seconds. Four point nine.”

“Thanks, Cab.”

Cabot grabbed his keys and wallet and headed for the door, and then remembered he should probably put on pants. He pulled on a pair of basketball shorts and shoes and grabbed a clean shirt out of the drawer. No waiting for the elevator; he took the stairs.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Having held jobs as varied as wedding caterer, IT guru, nanny, construction worker, librarian, historical reenactor, screenplay consultant, and birthday party clown, André now writes poetry, plays, and romances and erotic fiction about men loving men. A lifelong bibliophile, André lives in a renovated 1800s parsonage in Ohio, with a variable number of cats and an invariable number of husband.

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