Don’t Miss Out on the Release Blitz and Giveaway for The Edge Of The World by Garrett Leigh

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
 
Length: 60,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Shay Maloney is living his dream—on tour with his pirate/folk-rock band. But you can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’re from, and that’s where moody filmmaker and researcher Ollie Pietruska comes in.


The band’s management persuades Shay to let a television company film a documentary about his roots beyond his adoptive Irish family, and Ollie comes into his life knowing more about Shay than Shay’s ever known about himself.


But while Ollie holds the key to Shay’s past, he’s also hiding deep scars. Even as the hardships of the tour bring them closer, Ollie’s demons threaten the blossoming romance. They might both reach the breaking point before Ollie realises he’s been standing on the edge of the world for too long, and it’s Shay who holds the key to his future.


A friends-to-lovers, rock star, road-tripping romance, with a guaranteed happily-ever-after.

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.


Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.


When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.


Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.


Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

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Don’t Miss Out on the New Release Tour for Love on the Spectrum by Alec Nortan (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Love on the Spectrum

Author: Alec Nortan

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 6, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 37900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT Contemporary, romance, gay, Asperger syndrome, burns victim, France, Paris, friends to lovers, hurt/comfort, therapist

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Synopsis

Hervé has Asperger’s, a specific kind of autism that makes him unable to interact with other people.

Luc has been severely scarred by fire and flees human presence to avert the way people glare and frown when they see him.

It was impossible for them to meet, but life sometimes likes to cheat the odds. Is it just a trick or a way to bring together two men who could be each other’s lifeline?

Excerpt

Love on the Spectrum
Alec Nortan © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
During their life, everyone meets thousands of people. Some of these encounters are fleeting, like the person you ask for directions in the street, and others last a lifetime. Each of them, as short or as long as it is, can change your life for the better or for the worse.

I’ve encountered maybe two hundred people. And that’s with a generous margin for error. A very generous margin. And yet I’m thirty-four and should have met a lot more. If I haven’t, it isn’t because I don’t want to, on the contrary. If I only consider the meaningful encounters, well, I’m down to a figure I can easily display with my fingers. The last one took place two years ago. His name is Pascal, and he made my life better. A whole lot better. We met through the Internet, the way of getting in touch with people I’m most comfortable with. Taking our time, we got to know each other, and he became an important part of my life. It wasn’t always easy for him, but he managed to accept my difficulties, and for the first time in my life I discovered what being in a relationship was really like. We weren’t quite ready yet to live together, but we were getting close.

And then, six months later, he dumped me. There was no fight, no argument, but it devastated me all the same. My problems had eventually gotten too tiresome for him. He simply couldn’t cope anymore, and I don’t think any less of him for that. Living with someone like me isn’t always easy. Quite the opposite. He had done all he could, but it hadn’t been enough.

My relationship with Pascal helped me understand one thing: I will spend my life alone. I’m not being dramatic; it’s just a simple observation. Even I can’t bear myself at times. If I can’t, who could?

What is my problem? To make it easy to understand, let’s say I am unable to interact with people. It probably sounds stupid put like this, but when sarcasm, irony, implied speech, and body language—well, all those elements that allow a conversation to take place—are completely foreign to you, a simple discussion with another human being can be quite hazardous to negotiate. And if on top of that you really cannot stand physical contact and noise, like me, you’re on a slippery slope toward the deepest pit of hell. I begin to slide as soon as I have to say hello…

When I say I have autism, in a desperate attempt to evade embarrassing situations, here are some of the answers I usually get:

“But it doesn’t show.”

Or

“Can it be cured?”

Or the most common reaction:

“That’s great! Can you count playing cards?”

No, I am not Rain Man, and most of the people who suffer from the same problem—Asperger syndrome—don’t have any kind of superhuman capabilities. And you can’t cure it. It would be like asking a one-legged man if he can be cured. No, it’s just a part of me. That and the fact you can’t see it when you look at me only makes it more difficult for people to understand. A one-legged man doesn’t have to explain that he only has one leg. A white cane or a service dog is usually enough for a blind person to be recognized as such.

I always have to justify myself.

Luckily for me, I’ve been going to a psychologist once a month for years. His specialty is autism, including Asperger syndrome. He helps me learn all those social rules that completely elude my grasp, and cope with my difficulties.

But it’s also because of him I’m standing here.

It’s a fine day. The weather is nice, the street is mostly empty. Although it’s almost noon, a few people pass by, and they walk purposefully, taking no notice of me except to avoid me. I’m standing still, almost stuck to the wall behind me, a white-stone building blackened by years of pollution. The sidewalk is barely wide enough for two people and gives way to a long line of parked cars and then a two-way street. On the other side is the same chain of cars, the same sidewalk, and the same dirty façades.

Despite all this, this part of the city welcomes lots of tourists, but this particular street is a little too far from the main avenues and the famous monuments to get their attention. If it were to be described by a saying, it would be “a secret life is a happy life.” Maybe that’s the reason why I like it. Because it likes to stay hidden. Just like I do. And this is definitely one of the reasons why I’m standing here right now.

The other reason is the small restaurant facing me. I’ve been looking at it for a little while now. The frontage isn’t very long, but a wide French window occupies almost all of it. Painted on the glass, blue letters spell out the words “The Scullion Restaurant–Traditional Cooking”. The text isn’t perfectly centered. It is about three inches too high for that, and the “C” and the “U” of Scullion are slightly too close to each other. The first “T” of Restaurant is also slightly tilted.

I am pretty certain no one else notices these imperfections, but they kind of jump out at me. I wonder if I shouldn’t have chosen another place.

But I’ve thought about this choice for a very long while, and I’ve even had to negotiate bitterly with my psychologist. The objective of the test is simple enough: having lunch at a restaurant. But he knows me too well to stop at such a simple goal. Without any further rules, I would have chosen the worst restaurant in the city, in a deserted part of town, to make sure there would be as few other clients as possible. I would even have gone in the early afternoon, when all the NTs have long since finished their meal—NT is short for Neurotypical, “normal” people as opposed to Aspies, the nickname for people like me with Asperger Syndrome—to have the greatest chance of seeing no one else other than the waiter, which is quite enough for me.

Knowing if he let the reins go I would choose an empty restaurant, which I have to admit would have rendered the exercise moot, my psychologist fought hard until we reached a compromise (more acceptable for him than for me) and chose a popular but small venue and a “normal” lunchtime.

This negotiation took place two days ago, and I’ve been anxious ever since. This morning, I woke up with my insides twisted. I almost broke into tears thinking about having breakfast alone at my place because it reminded me that my next meal would be a trial. When I was about to leave home to come here, instead of opening the door, I was sorely tempted to make sure it was safely locked and go hide in my bedroom under my blankets.

But here I am, in front of the restaurant. Inside, I feel like a gelatinous blob mounted on a drill. I still evaluate the chance of my running away before the time comes to enter at one in two.

I take a look at my watch.

12:58

My psychologist made the reservation—one of his dirty tricks to prevent me from bailing out—for one o’clock. He knows perfectly well I can’t stand lateness (or earliness) or an appointment cancellation without calling beforehand, and, as a consequence, I would never do that to someone else.

12:59

It’s too late to call the restaurant and cancel now. I stifle an emerging sob and move to the pedestrian crossing on my right. There are no cars passing, but I never cross a street elsewhere.

Just like every time I’m nervous, I’m tempted to embrace my old habits again. Right now, this means not stepping on the white paint of the crossing. I don’t know where I got that from, but it took me several sessions and a lot of training to be able to ignore the color of the ground I walk on.

I bite my bottom lip and stare straight in front of me so I can’t see my feet. I reach the other side of the street without further ado and walk the short distance to the entrance of the restaurant.

12:59

13:00

I open the door with a racing heart and step into my worst nightmare: a crowded public place.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Alec Nortan is a French social services worker. Though he learned English at school, he chooses this language to write in. His works are gay-related fictions, varying from young adult, science fiction or fantasy adventure, to romance.

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Join Us for the Release Blitz with Excerpt for The Road Between by Patrick Benjamin

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: The Road Between

Author: Patrick Benjamin

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Rebecca Covers

Release Date: December 31, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Family Drama

Trope/s: Friends to lovers, Dysfunctional Families

Themes: Forgiveness, self-discovery, secrets & lies

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 93 000 words/ 281 pages 

It is a standalone story.

 

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK

|   Amazon CA 

 

 

Just because you can go home again, doesn’t mean you should.

Blurb

Television personality, Parker Houston has spent a lifetime following that motto: Running away at seventeen and vowing never to return to the small country town that made growing up gay, practically unbearable. But when the death of a loved one forces him home for the first time in twenty years, Parker has to reconcile the life and the people he left behind. Unearthing secrets and conflicts long buried.

While trying to mend the fractured relationships within his complicated family, Parker meets Bryce, a cocky rancher with a womanizing past. And although the friendship seems unlikely, neither man can deny the explosion they feel when their two worlds collide.

 

Excerpt

Prologue 

Twenty years since I’d left.

Camouflaged by a thick perimeter of poplar trees, you would miss it if you blinked. Even travelling ten clicks under the speed limit. Buried at the bottom of a steep valley, River Bluff was accessible only by a narrow gravel road. So unremarkable and insignificant, that if you didn’t know it was there, you wouldn’t have found it. At the base of the way was a single sign, “Welcome to River Bluff, Home of The Grouch”.

Every August, the town held a contest. Townsfolk nominated the rudest, most inconsiderate and overall “grouchy” members of the community. They declared the person with the most nominations “The Grouch”. For the next year, the winner attended every community event, with an excuse to be rude to everyone in their path. The Grouch participated in every social event — everything from the annual chili cook-off to high school graduation. The title was quite a big deal. As a child, the message was completely lost on me. Now, as an adult, I recognize how bizarre it was for a town to take pride in their unpleasantness. In many ways, River Bluff was a strange place. On the surface, it and its residents seemed utterly safe. Underneath, things were perilous.

Everyone knew each other and each other’s business. Everyone loved each other, yet no one could stand each other. If you were struggling, people would arrive at your door to offer you small scraps of their wealth. If you were successful, even more people would arrive at your door, demanding their cut. The entire community walked a thin line between socialist and militant. If an outsider had a conflict with a resident, the town would band together. They would pick-up their pitchforks to drive away the unwelcome beast. The same was true for any resident who challenged traditional thinking or practices. One could best compare the town mentality to a cult. Either you were one of the faithful, or you were an unwanted skeptic.

In River Bluff, belonging or not belonging was a concept as basic as age. There were only a few roles in which to fit. Boys were football players and girls were cheerleaders. Men worked on farms or in the oil field. Women stayed at home or worked in the town’s restaurants and bakeries. Of course, there were a few exceptions. Educators and physicians could be either male or female, but those positions came with their own sets of challenges. They required a degree. Once you left River Bluff to pursue one, you were seldom welcomed back without scrutiny. In fact, to my recollection, not a single teacher from my youth had been an original resident. They had been transplants from larger cities. Fresh out of university, with no choice but to take a position in a town no tenured educator would accept. For most of us, only a few specific roles were acceptable. That left little room for individuality.

I was aware of this truth whenever I would play dolls with Tanya Caldwell from across the street. Or whenever my mother would catch me reading “Nancy Drew” rather than “The Hardy Boys”. Or whenever I skipped football tryouts to audition for a school play. Or when I received the awkward looks of judgment from children and adults alike. That felt constant. They realized early, as did I, that I was not one of them. I did not belong. I did not behave, think, speak or even walk like them. I was different. Alien. It was that simple.

I was six years old when people first began to see me in this way. I was eight years old when I started to notice for myself. I was in the third grade, and our teacher had given us all an easy assignment. We were to present to the class a report about what we wanted to be when we grew up. Most of the kids spoke about their parents or other members of their family who inspired them. Brandon Jones wanted to be a mechanic like his father. Stacey Zimmerman wished to use her grandmother’s pie recipes to open a bakery. Jonathan Wilkins planned to take over his grandfather’s farm. Tamara Lane’s greatest ambition was to be a mother. I wish my aspiration had been so simple. It wasn’t. When the teacher called my name, I skipped to the front of the room and proclaimed that I wanted to be Oprah Winfrey.

I realize now how absurd a life goal that must have been to a group of children, especially a group of children with such rational and regular goals. I also realize now, how hilarious it was for a skinny white boy to declare that he wanted to be a strong woman of colour. At the time, it had been the truth. Well, almost the truth. I didn’t want to be Oprah. Instead, I wanted to be like Oprah – which was a notion I could have articulated better. I wanted a job in television. Doing what, I wasn’t sure, but I knew I wanted to be somebody special. I wanted success and fame. I wanted love and admiration. I wanted to be a household name, and in 1989, there was no more prominent household name than Oprah Winfrey. So, in my eight-year-old mind, I wanted to be Oprah. This proclamation acted as the catalyst for the decade of torment that followed.

I soon realized that “different” meant unwelcome. It started naturally enough, with innocent pointing, stares and laughter. Other small torments evolved from there. One boy learned how to make ‘spitballs’ from his older brother. Soon all the boys in the class had hollowed-out pens and shredded pieces of paper. Walking the halls became like storming the beaches of Normandy. I endured whatever shots they fired at me. Some days I would get home from school only to discover that the back of my shirt looked like a papier-mâché project.

By Junior High, things had escalated to acts of violence and vandalism. Another, far more offensive term also replaced my name — Faggot. It was the early nineties, so few teachers took issue with the slur. Few of my teachers took issue with anything other students did to me. One January day, someone broke into my gym locker during Phys-Ed and defecated on my jeans and sweater. Nobody batted an eye. I spent the rest of that frigid day in my sweaty gym clothes and walked home with bare legs. When I arrived home, my father had been so furious with me for “allowing” myself “to be a victim” that he blackened my eye. Then he forced me to launder my soiled clothes by hand, in the bathroom sink.

Robert Houston was a proud man, strong and quick to anger. He despised weakness and strived to purge it from me thoroughly. By force if necessary. One summer, I had woke to find the word ‘Fag’ spray-painted, in several places, on my brand-new mountain bike. I didn’t want my father to know that I was a victim, once again. So, I spent my allowance on a can of black house paint and used it to cover the graffiti. House paint is not intended for aluminum. He saw it and raged.

“How could you destroy a two-hundred-dollar bicycle?!” He demanded, furiously removing his belt. He proceeded to lash me all over my body; across my arms, my back, my legs, even my face. He was often unpredictable in his anger. I never really knew what would set him off or if the severity of punishment would suit the crime committed. It was during those long, summer months at home that I counted the days until the fall semester would begin. I preferred the Devil I knew and could predict.

By senior year, I realized that I was not alone in my exile. Of course, there were others like me, whose differences made them easy targets. I could see them getting shoved into their lockers. I could hear the profanities being slung at them. And they, in turn, bore witness to my struggle. Even though we rarely spoke to each other, we were a brotherhood. We were bound together by our shared experiences and common enemies.

Most outsiders strived for a life of anonymity and blending in. I did not. I grew independent and opinionated. I knew that nothing I could say or do could put me lower on the social hierarchy, and that gave me strength. I decided that if I had to be on the bottom, I would make sure they could hear me at the top. I spoke up, and I spoke out. I drew attention to the town’s lack of gender-neutral youth programs. I rallied for the creation of a peer support presence in our school and a plethora of other causes. The protest against pickled beets in the cafeteria had been a personal victory for me. I argued often and hard and realized I was good at it. I served as captain of the debate team, which was where I felt my most authentic and brave.

I had planted in myself, a seed of success. If it had any hope of blossoming, I knew I had to get out of River Bluff. I had to nurture my individuality and empower my spirit. I was raring to experience the world beyond. So, two days after graduation, I loaded a single suitcase onto a Greyhound bus, Toronto bound. I didn’t leave a note, and I never looked back.

Until now.

Twenty years later.

 

 

About the Author

Patrick Benjamin has always had a passion for books.  Growing up in rural Alberta, Canada, books were often the only escape he had from his simple small-town life.  Patrick loves the way books can transport readers into different worlds and times, and expose them to experiences and types of people they wouldn’t normally encounter.  His favourite stories, have always been those with strong, relatable characters. Stories that refrain from painting their characters with perfect brush strokes, and instead present their characters as fully rounded, real people — complete with their own imperfections, humours and motivations.  Those are the types of Characters he aims to create, and its their stories he wants to tell. This is his first novel.

 

Find Patrick Benjamin on Facebook 

 

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

 

A MelanieM Review: Boys of Summer (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A.E. Wasp

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Rating: 5 stars out  of 5

Teammates, roommates, friends with benefits. What could go wrong?

Boys of Summer is a book about finding the perfect person to ride shotgun with on the crazy road trip called life. It contains a Dolly Parton lookalike, an unfortunate deer versus car incident, and poorly-timed epiphanies.

Everybody leaves. That was the first lesson Thunder goalie James McVicker ever learned. The second lesson was that if you don’t want to hurt, don’t let yourself get attached. Patrick O’Reilly is the best friend Vicky’s ever had. So obviously when Vicky finds himself possibly, maybe stupidly, falling in love with the guy, it only makes sense for him to leave first, right? So why does it feel like he’s just made the biggest mistake of his life?

Patrick O’Reilly loves being in love. He loves the romance and hearts and flowers of it all, but he hates the way it always seems to end. Friends are simpler. Friends don’t break your heart. Luckily, he has the greatest best-friend-slash-teammate-slash-roommate in the world. Hanging out with Vicky is as easy as breathing, and despite Paddy’s initial fears, adding some epic benefits of the sexual kind to their friendship only makes it better. He’s certainly not going to ruin things by doing something as stupid as falling in love. Obviously, Vicky isn’t in love with him. He’s just confused by all these stupid weddings. If Paddy can get him to talk, they can work all this out and get back to being friends again.

The course of true love never did run smoothly, but maybe with the help of their friends and family and some last-minute divine intervention, what started as a road trip could turn into the adventure of a lifetime.

I am desperately hoping that this is not the end of the series for our boys of summer because I am hopelessly addicted to this cast of characters, this team, and this series.  With  each story and couple, A.E. Wasp has kept this series fresh, lively, and invigorating. Wasp beautifully combines her love and ability to write the fast paced, complex game of hockey with a gift for capturing the believable dynamics of a wide range of developing relationships and lay them out before her readers in such a way as to pull us in and make us love these people.

And with each story I declare the men and their relationship my favorite novel.

Boys of Summer (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A.E. Wasp with Vicky and Paddy is my favorite story and they are my favorite couple.  Of course.

Here is a novel that has friends to lovers, awakening sexuality, deep friendships, layered characters, familial and found families, and a game that combines, no demands the best of the men playing it.  That’s intellectually understanding it’s demands at a high rate of speed, a flexibility of mind and body, the ability to endure its exhausting schedule and indignities inflicted upon bod and soul, all the while keeping the passion for the game burning.  It’s rare and Wasp highlights the game in all its facets through the eyes of its players and coaches, and sometimes their SO’s.

The series has started with a veteran retiring to here, two of the youngest players on a team.  We’ve effectively gone backwards in perspective in what it means to be gay or bi or LGBTQIA+ and playing on a NHL or NHL associated hockey team.  From coming out to still figuring out who you are sexually, and the journey in between.

One of the many elements that has always drawn me to the stories of AE Wasp is the author’s characters.  They are so well constructed, multidimensional and real.  But more than that it’s the dialog that accompanies them.  It sings of personalities so full of life that the Kindle can barely contain them!  I laugh and sometimes cry with them, I see them so clearly as the words flow out of their mouths.  I know these men, and love them.

It’s why I want to see more of them and want this series to continue so I can see them, all of them once more.  Hear them smash up against the boards, the swoosh of skates across the ice, and the love of one player for the game, his team, and the love of his life.  Whoever that may be.

Boys of Summer was everything, Hot Off the Ice is incredible, and author AE Wasp one of my favorite authors.  Pick up the entire series and find out why I am recommending all three so highly.

Cover art is lovely and still working to brand the series.

Sales Link:  Amazon

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 544 pages
Published September 28th 2019 by Kelpie Press
ASINB07YK3SG2Z
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series I Hot Off the Ice #5

Hot Off the Ice Series

City Boy

Country Boy

Boy Toys

Skater Boy

Boy Next Door

Boys of Summer

Hot Off the Ice Boxed Set: Books 1-3

Join Us for the New Release Blitz for Wounded Martyr by Courtney Maguire (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Wounded Martyr

Author: Courtney Maguire

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 16, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 54300

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT Contemporary, gay, rock star, musicians, tour, drug/alcohol use, addiction, friends to lovers, hurt/comfort

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Synopsis

Ice is an asshole, but he’s working on it. He’s two years sober, no small feat when you front a heavy metal band facing waning popularity and dismal ticket sales. But the pieces of a life torn apart by alcoholism are finally coming back together. His band, Wounded Martyr, has written a great album with the potential to launch them back into relevancy. And Ricky, probably the biggest, most important piece, has finally forgiven him for the wreck he made of their relationship. There’s only one problem.

Ashton.

It was to be expected. As his best friend and bandmate for almost twenty years, it’s only natural they should find each other in the loneliness of the road. Ricky knows about their one night together, but he doesn’t know that Ice can’t stop thinking about it, about his long body and whiskey-flavored lips, and the guilt of it has him on the brink of backslide. Now that Wounded Martyr is poised for a long tour, Ice must find a way to resist temptation or risk blowing their last chance and destroying his relationship with the two most important men in his life.

Excerpt

Wounded Martyr
Courtney Maguire © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Everything hurt.

Hiding in our dingy dressing room toilet, back pressed against the wall between the sink and the urinal, I read wall graffiti to take my mind off my sore joints. Black Sharpie marker slander tucked between worn band stickers. Jake is a pussy. For a good time, call. Someone had scrawled SUX over a Wounded Martyr sticker in the corner. An old one. Apparently, we’d played here before. I couldn’t remember.

House music vibrated through the wall, and I pressed my shoulder blades into it. I gave a no-smoking sign the finger and pulled a pack of cigarettes out of my pocket. This used to be my favorite part, the anticipation in the moments before we hit the stage. Now, I shook with a mix of adrenaline and dread that made me queasy.

“Ice!” A familiar voice cut through the din followed by a rapid knock on the door. “Dude, you in there?”

I popped a cigarette between my lips. “Fuck off, I’m taking a shit.”

The door opened anyway, and in slipped Ashton. Ash. Hair in his face and dark liner around his eyes. Deep lines framed his mouth, but his too-long limbs made him appear perpetually boyish. The way I would always see him. The sixteen-year-old kid playing bass in his garage.

“You can’t smoke in here.”

I scowled and shoved the cig back in the pack.

“Dante is going to lose his shit if you don’t get out there,” he said, closing the door behind him. Dante, our self-appointed fearless leader. If he wasn’t such a goddamned great guitarist, I’d kick him in the teeth.

“Dante can suck my cock.”

“Pretty sure he’s not into that.” We shared a laugh before his eyes pinched in concern. “How’s the voice?”

“Tired,” I answered on the tail end of an exhale.

“You can make it, man.” He stepped toward me. “Just three more shows, and we’re home.”

“Have you seen the house?”

“Yeah.”

“Is it full?”

He pressed his lips together, and those lines around his mouth deepened.

“Shit.”

“Don’t sweat it.” He squeezed my arm. “It’s a big house. It would be hard for anyone to fill. Besides, we’ve played smaller.”

I nodded, but my stomach dropped into my toes. Sure, we’d played smaller. I remembered playing crowds of twenty people, ten of whom hated us. But we were eighteen with nowhere to go but up, and nothing to lose. It felt different now.

Ash’s expression softened. “What do you need?”

A drink.

“A blow job from John Stamos.”

“You and me both.” He hooked his hand around the back of my neck and pressed our foreheads together. “You’ll be great,” he said. “You are great. Just another day at the office, man, you got this.”

I leaned into him and released a long breath. Just another day. Another day I got to play rock and roll. Living the dream, most would say. But even dreams didn’t last forever.

“What the fuck are you two doing in there? Put your dicks away, and let’s go,” Dante’s gruff voice shouted from the other side of the door. Ash shot me a mischievous grin and dropped to his knees just as the door swung open. “What the fu—”

“Be right out, Boss,” I said, but he’d already stomped off, spitting and cursing the whole way back to the dressing room, his bright copper skin dark with an angry flush. I gave Ash a kick with my heel, and he rolled over backward, tangled in his own legs and howling.

“Homophobes are fun,” he said between gasps.

“You’re a prick,” I said, but I was smiling, my earlier dread carried away in the stream of his laughter. Dante had left the door open, and the house music pounded through me, ringing the tuning fork inside. It was still there, thank God. I offered Ash a hand and hauled him up.

“Ready to go?” he asked, his hand still wrapped in mine.

“Let’s get to work.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Courtney Maguire is a University of Texas graduate from Corpus Christi, Texas. Drawn to Austin by a voracious appetite for music, she spent most of her young adult life in dark, divey venues nursing a love for the sublimely weird. A self-proclaimed fangirl with a press pass, she combined her love of music and writing as the primary contributor for Japanese music and culture blog, Project: Lixx, interviewing Japanese rock and roll icons and providing live event coverage for appearances across the country. Her first novel, Wounded Martyr, is a 2019 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in the Contemporary Romance: Short Category.

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A MelanieM Review: Cowboy Seeks Husband by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Walker Reed’s Louisiana cattle ranch is in debt after costly repairs from hurricane damage. To get the money, his family schemes to make Walker the star of a new bachelor reality series: Queer Seeks Spouse.. How hard can it be to fake interest in a dozen handsome men for a few weeks in exchange for enough money to solve all of his problems?

Roan Carmichael never got his Masters degree after his mother was diagnosed with cancer. With medical bills piling up, and a costly experimental treatment available, Roan signs on to be a suitor on Queer Seeks Spouse. While he hates having to leave his sick mother long enough to win the cash for her treatment, he’s willing to do whatever it takes.

Can two men who are just in it for the money fake their way into real and lasting love? Cowboy Seeks Husband, the latest book by Vespertine authors Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn, features a cowboy, a hipster, opposites attract, steamy scenes, and heart tugging moments that will leave you wanting more.

While not a fan of the tv reality shows this novel is based on, I am definitely enthusiastic over this contemporary romance that uses one as the foundation for its story. Cowboy Seeks Husband by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn turns out to be heartwarming and current, include characters of realistic depth and endearing qualities, as well as a romance I absolutely took to heart.  Did it make me want to watch the tv shows?  Nope!  But want more of these characters and their stories?  Yes, because I became very connected to them and the ranch it was filmed on.

Done all “behind the scenes” of a new queer dating game bachelor show, the authors bring all the contestants, and the hot, humid Louisiana setting of Walker Reed’s ranch vividly to life.  We meet not only Walker Reed (who I fell instantly in love with), but his father and lively stepmother, and then got a believable “feel” for the ranch they have lived on for all their lives and that will become the location for the show.  Then come the introductions to the many would be suitors, the showrunners, and  tv workers, equally important here.  The authors work to flesh out all the personalities to make the readers believe in them wholly, no matter where they fit into the novel.  It works beautifully.

I have to admit what worked for me the most is what also frustrates me about these shows.  The artificiality of it all, which is played up here in the story.  The growing romance between Walker and Roan, even knowing that it’s being filmed, the frustration and yes, secrets, the orders that have to be followed because of the legalities of the contracts.  All that is exactly why I won’t watch them but makes this story work so well.  I believe in these people, the good, the bad, the stressed out, all of them.

I won’t spoil anything by going further, except to say I love how it ended, as it should.  Except maybe another story to look into another stage in their lives.  I really connected with this couple and wasn’t’ ready to let them go.  There were other intriguing characters too here that I could see the authors revisiting. Hmmmm.

At any rate, I am definitely recommending Cowboy Seeks Husband by Leta Blake and Indra Vaughn as a heartwarming contemporary romance you will want to read! I love it and hope the authors revisit this universe soon.

Cover art: Dar Albert. I actually love this cover.  Colorful, and lively.  While it ventures a tad on the movie ish, that works for the storyline and characters.

Sales Links:  Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 306 pages
Published February 28th 2019 by Leta Blake Books
ISBN1 39781626227811
Edition Language English

A MelanieM Review: Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Hockey superstar Joey Luciano has always been good at being whatever people needed him to be. The fans want a good-looking fast-living party boy? Enter ‘the Looch,’ Joey’s carefully created public persona. But the cracks in his mask are starting to show, and he’s begun to lose touch with who he really is. It’s going to take someone who’s been there from the very beginning, to help him find his way home.

Coach Liam O’Reilly always had a very clear picture of what his life should look like. Falling in love with the infuriating, passionate, stubborn, and endlessly fascinating boy next door was not part of the plan. But when Liam’s carefully constructed life fell apart one Christmas Eve, Joey Luciano was there to pick up the pieces. Now Liam can’t stop wanting him.

The passion blazing between them on the ice and behind closed doors could leave both of them badly burned. But through the smoke, Liam can see glimpses of a future brighter than any he’d imagined, a future worth risking his career and reputation for, if only he is brave enough to reach for it.

But Joey’s got a secret he’s keeping from everyone. If it gets out, it could be the end of everything.

I really enjoyed the Boy Next Door (Hot Off the Ice #5) by A. E. Wasp.  It has so many elements I love in a contemporary romance, starting off with hockey players and hockey coaches in love combinations.  Or just a hockey element.  That always draws me in.  Wasp also has another aspect to this series and story I adore.  Large families that support the main characters!

Families easily identifiable by location (Boston), ethnicities (Irish and Italian), long association (neighbors), and even intertwined relationships.  This extended main cast is a huge factor in connecting the reader to the character of Joey Luciano (the Italian family) and Liam O’Reilly (the Irish one),  In a totally current and hilarious format, we often see the family members communicating with each other via group text.  It’s never overdone, totally funny, and very realistic.  It’s has the feel of family and truth.  And it brought these people and their lives right into my heart.

Joey, “the Looch” Luciano, is a 25 year old  with a lot of issues. On the outside, he’s let this “Looch” character he’s created take over his life (brash, outgoing to the  extreme that it seems like he’s hogging the media and outshining his teammates.  No one is happy with him, including himself.  On the inside it’s worse.  Wasp has created Joey as a insecure person, low self esteem to the point that he seeks approval from every source and everyone without asking himself why he needs it so.  This is an enormous issue, obviously.  Not his only one. On top of this Joey is dealing with the fact that he has loved Liam since he can remember, a love that he has never looked at what that meant.  Why?  Because he shrinks from being called gay or even bisexual.  Which imo is totally misused here with regards to Joey.

Joey is someone who has lacked self examination for most of his life and it’s not until he gets involved with Liam that he smacks into some hard realities for himself.  At about 51 percent, we get these musing from Joey…

“What did people see when they looked at him? Could they tell he was having sex with a guy? Probably not. He looked as normal as Paul and Robbie. And he wasn’t gay gay. If anything he was bisexual like Liam.”

There are so many flags in those sentences that show exactly how messed up Joey is over not only his sexuality but homosexuality in general.  Being gay isn’t “normal”?  He also has issues with femme versus masc. And as is worked out down the story, Joey really doesn’t enjoy sex with women, so no, not bisexual.  Yes, some of this flags get addressed, not as many as I wished but a lot.

There are so many broken layers to Joey, it’s just one right after enough. Panic attacks, health issues, and more that need to be seriously addressed. Are all given the depth of attention I would wish or deserve? Perhaps not but they aren’t blown off either. Believable, authentic cracks in this man.  Kudos to A.E. Wasp for creating such a character.

Liam is a strong character, older by 10 years than Joey.  I liked him and their relationship but honestly wondered if the author was going to use their hot, and admittedly kinky sex life as a bandaid for all of Joey’s deep problems.  Thankfully, the  answer is no.  Wasp let me wonder about that, while I enjoyed Joey and LIam working out their relationship and then gave me everything I hoped for in the ending of this story. That included my Washington Caps winning the Stanley Cup this year!  And therapy for Joey.  Win win.

The humor here had me cackling!  Whether it’s Knock Knock jokes or Liam’s younger brother Patrick trying to get Liam to switch out his posh furniture for a huge leather sectional that all the young hockey players can come over and watch TV on saying”

“It’s the traditional furnishings of our people!”

Well, this book and dialogue crackles with fun, the knowledge of what it is like to be young, in love, or a hockey player, or to just do dumb things.  And all of the above.

Yes, plenty of angst too.

If I also have a complaint, its the actual lack of hockey.

We get headlines, sports feeds,  but  little actual ice time.  These men are passionate about ice and hockey.  So where is the time on the ice?  Where is the sense of team?

We get little of that except towards the very end in the important game.  I wish so badly we had had lots more of that action throughout the story.  Then we could understand why Joey and Liam’s actions carried the weight of the love of ice behind them that they did.  I felt that was missing because we never really saw Joey on ice for the majority of the book.  We were told about it but never actually “felt” it through the character. And I felt that was a mistake.

But did I love this story?  Yes I did.  I thought the author did a tremendous job with the characters, actualizing a man on the brink of a life change for himself and letting us travel some of the journey with him.  Scary, messy, not totally complete, a work in progress as they say.  I think Joey would agree with that and be happy.  So would Liam and the rest of the two families.

I definitely look for more in this series.  I recommend this one for all lovers of contemporary romance and hockey and even a little love of spanking!

 

Cover art: Ana Phoenix.  Nice cover but doesn’t quite get the age difference.

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 462 pages
Published September 21st 2018
ASINB07HL6TTW9
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesHot Off the Ice #5

 

A MelanieM Review: We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.

What an incredible story! Full of current, tough topics and damaged characters, elements  guaranteed to make one think, flinch, and often weep, as well as a romance that encapsulates some of the best and yes, worst that love can bring out in us.  In short, We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer is an amazing work of contemporary fiction, romance fiction is just a part of that.

Domestic shootings, whether it is at schools, workplaces,malls, or events, has, unthinkingly and horrifically, become part of our lives.  Here in We Still Live, author Sara Dobie Bauer exams what it means to have survived one of those shootings ,not just the main character’s trauma ,but that of an entire campus’. Bauer’s vivid descriptions of a darkness that hangs  heavy over the town, campus, and people is so real that it creeps over the reader page by page until you feel it just as Isaac must.  We are coming into the situation just as he is, almost an interloper, an outsider who slowly starts to become part of their neverending landscape of pain, loss, and regret.

I can’t begin to find the words as to how beautifully written this story is.  Or how achingly subtle and fragile her characters.   Both in their strengths and their vulnerabilities.

The true measure of the damage done to Professor John Conlon is only slowly revealed here, layers peeled away as core truths come to the surface.  And not just for John.  Because Isaac has his own demons he has brought to the campus.  Ones just as current today, given the rising conservative values and his own religious background.  Bauer has developed these themes and woven them flawlessly into her narrative and romance, bringing me to tears multiple times as well as to laughter.

It’s not just the main characters that are so well developed but all of them, from those with minor parts to those with larger supporting roles like Tommy, John’s best friend professor who lived through the shooting too.   This is a story that will stay with you, lines that will haunt you, from a dedication in a Student literary magazine to the last lines of this novel which I will leave for the reader to read for themselves.

It’s life affirming as well as wrenching.  It’s so damn real.  It will be on my Best of 2019 list this year.

Cover art by Natasha Snow,  Honestly I expect more from this artist than a bunch of trees (while I get the symbolism), especially with this exceptional book as inspiration. Meh.  Feels like a stock photo you can purchase anywhere.

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |   Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Paperback 

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 1st edition, 233 pages
Published December 9th 2019 by NineStar Press (first published December 4th 2019)
Original Title We Still Live
ASINB082BJDX2P
Edition Language English

Join Us for the Blog Tour with Excerpt for We Still Live by Sara Dobie Bauer

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BLOG TOUR

Book Title: We Still Live

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: NineStar Press

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: December 9, 2019

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Tropes: Friends to lovers, hurt/comfort

Themes: Coming out, depression, anxiety, PTSD/post-traumatic stress, mental illness

Heat Rating:  4 flames   

Length: 62 000 words

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

NineStar Press  |   Amazon UK  |  Amazon US  |  Paperback 

 

To escape the past, accept it.

Blurb 

Running from a scandal that ruined his life, Isaac Twain accepts a teaching position at Hambden University where, three months prior, Professor John Conlon stopped a campus nightmare by stepping in front of an active shooter.

When John and Isaac become faculty advisors for the school’s literary magazine, their professional relationship evolves. Despite the strict code of conduct forbidding faculty fraternization, they delve into a secret affair—until Simon arrives.

Isaac’s violent ex threatens not only their careers, but also John’s life. His PTSD triggered, John must come to terms with that bloody day on College Green while Isaac must accept the heartbreak his secrets have wrought.

***WE STILL LIVE is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance featuring detailed adult content, graphic violence, hurt/comfort, and mental illness.***

 

 

Excerpt

Close as they were to the foyer, Isaac was the first to notice the front door opening. A student walked inside. The kid dragged a heavy-looking suitcase behind him. Dressed as he was in a slim-fitting button-down, Isaac immediately assumed preppy, although that assumption altered and changed when taking into account the tight black jeans, Converse sneakers, and shaggy hair the color of caramel and chocolate—a mass of waves and curls that fell down the back of his neck but not quite to his shoulders. 

The kid pushed his hair out of the way and looked up, eyes finding Isaac and flashing a moment of panicked nonrecognition before seeing Tommy.

“Um.” Isaac pointed toward the new arrival.

Tommy turned and shouted, “John! My man!”

Not a student, then.

Tommy wrapped John in a hug that actually lifted his feet off the ground. Isaac imagined it wouldn’t be difficult. The new guy might have been average height, but he was gangly, skin and bones. 

Tommy ruffled his hair. “Have you lost weight?”

John grumbled and scratched his face with his middle finger. “What are you freeloaders doing in my house?” His voice was surprisingly resonant for someone Isaac considered “pretty.” At John’s pronouncement, crows of approval rang from every direction.

“Come meet Isaac,” Tommy said.

John wiped his palms on his jeans before reaching out to shake, and Isaac’s large hand dwarfed his. 

“Isaac Twain is the newest addition to our special corner of Hambden hell. Isaac, this is John Conlon.”

John brushed more hair out of his face. “Nice to—”

“John Conlon?”

John and Tommy froze.

Isaac jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “The books on the shelf. Those are yours?”

John’s face, immobile in what looked like dread a moment before, melted into relief, tinged with a bit of blush. “Oh, yeah. You’ve read?”

“No, but I should. You’ve published a lot of books. You must be good.”

John’s nose wrinkled, and he looked away. 

Tommy shook him by the shoulders. “John is an amazing writer. He had a story published in The New Yorker when he was, like, five. Are you working on anything right now?”

John glanced at the bookshelf. “Not lately.”

“You need a drink,” Tommy said.

John’s eyes widened on a big breath. “God, yes, I do.”

“Nice to meet you,” Isaac said, but John just nodded quickly, smile thin, before allowing himself to be herded farther into the house toward the sound of quiet laughter and clinking bottles.

Isaac felt it then—an outsider’s emptiness. He became a nervous-looking coat rack in the corner, a terrified tree waiting for the ax. As the party doubled in auditory volume, he bemoaned his spilled wine. Was it okay for him to leave? It wasn’t like he was supposed to make a speech. He was only there because he figured it was the easiest way to meet everyone before the first official faculty meeting, but he’d been standing around too long. He wanted to run.

Out of curiosity, he reopened John’s book from earlier and read the front flap. It was a coming-of-age story about a gay kid in the Midwest. He flipped to the back, and a picture of John stared back at him. He’d assumed the guy was tired when they first met, but no; apparently, John had perpetual bedroom eyes, and his hair was always an artful mess. He skimmed…creative writing professor at Hambden University…gay rights activist…Converse-wearer and “old-people music” enthusiast.

All arrows pointed to John’s probable sexual preference for men. A spark of interest flickered but quickly went out. True, John Conlon was what most people would consider beautiful, but he wasn’t Isaac’s type. John was the kind of man butch guys fought over in gay clubs, but he was too small for Isaac, too fragile-looking, girly. After all he’d been through, the last thing Isaac wanted was someone feminine.

A thin figure ducked into the library and literally hid against the doorframe. He took a long drink of something brown and leaned his head back. “It’s not good when you want to hide in your own house.”

“Library is the best place for it,” Isaac said.

John kicked away from the wall. “Tommy mentioned you just moved here? I’ve been in Lothos forever, so if you need anything…” He examined Isaac from his brown boat shoes to the top of his blond head. John’s large eyes, dark green, seemed bottomless—drowning pools of intellect and soul—only slightly overshadowed by his thick eyebrows.

 

About the Author  

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. She lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series and Escape Trilogy.

 

Photo credit: Bill Thornhill

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Private Facebook Group

Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Newsletter Sign-up  |  BookBub

 

 

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

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

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