If You Love Gay Murder Mystery Don’t Miss Out On the Blog Tour for At A Stranger’s Mercy (Badge and Bullets #1) by Brittany Cournoyer (excerpt and giveaway)

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At A Stranger’s Mercy

Badge and Bullets Book 1

Brittany Cournoyer

Gay Murder Mystery

Release Date: 03.22.19

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Blurb

Making eye contact with a killer wasn’t exactly how Bradley Danforth had planned to start his day. As an accountant, he craved structure and routine. What he hadn’t anticipated was being part of a real-life murder mystery with him cast in the starring role.

Death and sorrow were part of Max Donohue’s job description, leaving the detective hardened after years on the job. On his latest case, he’s the one stuck protecting the only witness in a sadistic homicide.

One death becomes two… then three. And soon Max and Bradley find themselves playing a deadly game of cat and mouse. Can Max save Bradley from the clutches of a serial killer? Or will the killer finish what he started?

At a Stranger’s Mercy is the first installment of a continuing series featuring the same two characters. It’s a suspenseful murder mystery that depicts detailed crimes, strong language, and adult situations. While this series will include a romance, it’s a slow burn that develops throughout the series.


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Excerpt

I shut the door, making sure to lock it behind me, and started the engine after clicking my seatbelt into place. After checking my rearview and side mirrors, I slowly backed out of the driveway then pointed my car in the direction of the coffee shop—and work. Only then did I realize I’d have to drive by the man who was still digging around inside his car.

He must’ve heard my car approaching because I watched out of the windshield as he straightened to his full height and pulled his car door partly shut so I wouldn’t hit it when I drove by. While a nagging voice inside my head told me to keep my eyes on the road, I couldn’t stop myself from looking and locking eyes with the man standing by his vehicle.

I felt like time reduced and my car was moving in slow motion as I drove by. The anger I could see in his eyes had me gasping aloud, and I felt my blood run cold. The black, cold eyes burned into mine, and I couldn’t bring myself to turn away, no matter how much I knew I needed to. The unease I felt earlier intensified, and even though I wanted to press my foot down harder on my accelerator to get the hell out of there, my body felt nearly paralyzed with fear. It was only when I was past his car I could finally breathe easier.

I didn’t even bother to stop and get coffee; the mood for it had completely gone. Instead, I went straight to my office in hopes of getting lost in my work so I could shake the weird feeling that had settled over me. But it didn’t happen. The unease clung to me all day, and my mind was plagued with flashes of black, angry eyes. My hands shook as I punched numbers into the calculator. My handwriting was barely legible thanks to the tremors as I tried to make notations, and it was incredibly difficult to concentrate since I was so off-kilter.

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Brittany was born in a small town in Alabama and moved to Indiana when she was thirteen years old. She currently resides there and works as an operator at a local hospital. When she isn’t working, she loves to spend her free time writing stories, playing with her puppy, Delilah, watching television, and spending time with loved ones.

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Love a Drag Queen Mystery? Check Out the Release Blitz and Giveaway for Fault Lines by Shane K Morton

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Length: 63,000 words approx.
 
Blurb
 

Drag goddess, Ursula Moolay, left Kentucky as fast as her size twelve pumps could carry her and has created a new life for herself in Los Angeles. Here, she has found herself surrounded by a group of people with their own secrets and lies:



A daytime Soap stud hiding in the Hollywood closet.


A reality television producer prepared to destroy his star.


An aging showgirl- the complex’s mother hen, fighting to survive.


A married male escort desperately hiding his profession from his pregnant wife.


And finally, Ursula, pulled into a terrifying ordeal of drugs, murder, and deception as she grapples with her own identity.


Enter the world of red carpet meltdowns, sex tapes, shopping with drag queens, earthquakes, mortgages and murder.


Can they survive or will they each fall into the cracks of LA’s fault lines?
 
Author Bio
 

Shane K Morton lives in Studio City, CA with his husband Jody and their fur baby Slayer. His first novel, The Trouble With Off-Campus Housing was published in 2016. When not writing, Shane can be found at a film festival or performing cabaret somewhere in a dark dive bar in LA.


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Review: Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #3) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Series Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Fifty Fifty Chances Are coverChance Dumont, owner of Chances Are bar and his lover, Rory, are still trying to deal with the aftermath of Rory’s attack and the return of Cannon, Chances’s former boyfriend.  It’s not going well.  Rory, a cop, has still not been declared fit for duty.  But truthfully the trauma of the attack has left Rory fearful and he may never heal enough to be a cop again.  And Chance?  He’s trying hard to be the lover Rory needs but their relationship is strained and fragile, just like Rory.

When a man is found naked and dead in the bathroom stall in the men’s room, his identity points to Chance and Rory as suspects.  Chance knows he didn’t do it but did Rory?  That’s the question and no one likes that the answer might be that its a fifty fifty chance that Rory did.

This series is just amazing.  It continues to get better with each new story.  It deepens in intensity and in emotional layering and I can’t get enough. We left Chance and Rory trying to pick up the pieces of their relationship after Rory has been attacked in Second Chances Are, and it’s not going very well.  And it can’t because the relationship started on tenuous terms and has never found a firm foundation.  The men aren’t communicating, primarily because one is traumatized and the other doesn’t want to upset him further.  It’s a realistic portrait of two men at the very first stages of recovery and they are still trying to find their way past the pain.

Lee Brazil packs a lot into 34 pages.  Great characterization, wonderful plot, and tremendous dialog and with each new story it gets better, more layered, more authentic.  Chance was a complicated man in the first two books but not always likable, something the character himself acknowledges. But here as Chance struggles to put Rory first instead of giving into his impulses for revenge, he becomes more human, more understandable.  He is so frustrated, as is the reader that we instantly relate to him.

Trust is the issue and focus here.  So many areas where trust is lacking.  There is the trust missing between Chance and Rory. Plus Chance still doesn’t trust Gerry, his bartender who stole from him and both men are struggling with that fact.  Rory can’t trust himself or anyone other than Chance, maybe.  Then Brazil shatters the tentative trust established between Chance and Rory with a murder that either man might have done.  The emotional detonation that occurs reveals to all involved just how fragile the binding was that held them all together.   It’s angry, it’s hurtful, and it’s damaging on many levels, but is it permanent?  That’s the question that Brazil gives us to answer and the answer remains elusive by the end of the story.

Again there is an element of bdsm and D/s but it absolutely works for the characters and story.  Don’t let it put you off.  And for you  romance lovers, well, it’s coming.  Romance and love is not an easy thing for Chance Dumont. Its hurt him deeply in the past and he hasn’t been able to get past that emotional trauma.  Now he is finally ready but is the man he loves?  Brazil is stringing that aspect of the series out for us and it is making it  even more enjoyable to anticipate the outcome.

It’s hard for me to believe that Fifty Fifty Chances Are is only 34 pages in length.  It has the breadth and scope of a larger book.  So does the series.   Really, the author’s work here is immaculate.  Pick it up but start at the beginning and work your way through.  There are four stories so far and I know that more are coming.  Lucky us.

Books in the series in the order they were written and should be read to understand the characters and events within:

Chances Are (Chances Are #01)
Second Chances Are (Chances Are #02)
Fifty Fifty Chances Are (Chances Are #03)
Ghost of a Chance (Chances Are #04)

Book Details:

ebook, 36 pages
Published May 1st 2013 by Lime Time Press
edition language English

Crazy Week Ahead, Ghoulish Cocktail Recipes, and This Week’s Reviews

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Sooooooo, sitting here wondering why I do things that make myself crazy.  I’m really not a masochistic sort, occasionally absent minded but truly, people,  usually I am a better planner than this.  So this week, the alarm people are coming to fix the alarm system that wants to beep, squeak, squeal, or otherwise make high pitched noises at all hours of the day, none of them actually caused by any realtime event. And all are picked up by Captain (African Grey Parrot) who finds these noises irresistible enough to mimic.  So even after they are banished , thanks to Captain’s skill at mimicry, they will always be with us. Cue the Excedrin.

Also this week?  A friend is coming to stay for the week.  I haven’t seen her in a while and I am looking forward to getting caught up on her life (outside of the computer chats) face to face.  So what else is also going on?  My wonderful book group is coming over on Sunday for lunch and togetherness, my niece and her boyfriend just flew in from CA for her birthday and my mother is making noises about a “birthday celebration” for my niece over at the Farm this weekend too.  What aligned among the stars and planets that said all this had to happen this week and weekend?  Hey! *waves hands frantically over head* Can we not do this?  Please?  This is making me crazy.  I  like to do things slowly, think the forward momentum of a sloth.  I enjoy getting ready for events and people the same way.  This is not making me happy.  Sigh.

So I plan on lots of writing today so I don’t have to do that as well.  Here is my schedule for the week if I am not carted off to Bedlam.

Monday, June 22:                    Sweet Young Thang by Anne Tenino

Tuesday, June 23:                    Parting Shot by Mary Calmes

Wednesday, June 24:              Welcome, Brother by Erica Pike

Thursday, June 25:                 Attachment Strings by Chris T. Kat

Friday, June 26:                       Vampirism and You (Guidebook #01) by Missouri Dalton

Saturday, June 27:                   Necromancy and You (Guidebook #02) by Missouri Dalton

Cocktail Recipes: In honor of Missouri Dalton’s new series which I absolutely adore, here are a couple of scary Cocktails to cool you off:

The Necromancer’s Martini:

Vampire Martini

1 part vodka
1 part strawberry liqueur
1 part lime juice
1 part cranberry juice

Pour all of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a cocktail glass to serve.

Vampire Cocktail

Bloody Vampire Cocktail

1 part rum
1 part cherry kool aid

Pour both of the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake well. Strain into a highball glass to serve.

Review: Natural Predators (Mahu #7) by Neil S. Plakcy

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Rating: 5 stars

Natural Predators coverHonolulu homicide detective Kimo Kanapa’aka and his detective partner Ray Donne are called on one of their most complex case when an abandoned warehouse goes up in flames and in the rubble the remains of a prominent statesman are found.  When the cause of death is determined to be murder, Kimo and Ray follow an ever expanding field of clues that stretch from local gyms into the rarified society of Hawaii’s oldest and wealthiest families.

More bodies pile up as the murderer stays just ahead of them, putting their families and themselves in danger.  In addition to his case, Kimo’s personal relationship with his partner Mike is under stress as they decide whether or not to go ahead as donors for their lesbian friends and a young runaway makes Kimo and Mike think about being foster parents.

Hawaii is a place of immense beauty , where predators and prey live and die as nature dictates.  Under the shinning sun and majestic waves, treacherous events happen even as the ambience lures you in.  No one is more aware of the delicate balance than Kimo Kanapa’aka as he races to find the murderer and keep his new found family safe.

Natural Predators is the first book I have read by Neil S. Plakcy and therefore the first book I have read in this series.  I started early evening and read right through until 2am in the morning, pausing only to rub my eyes, adjust the light and continue on until I had finished.  I had heard wonderful things about this series but still nothing prepared me for the richness and depth of the story and characterizations I found within.  It was like going to a nice restaurant only to find out that the restaurant is gourmet, Jose Andres is the chef, and you are sitting at the chef’s table.

Natural Predators is a veritable luau of Hawaiian delights, a banquet of varying aromas, textures, tastes and melodies, something for everyone’s palate.  Plakcy’s characters range from low level thugs to runaway teens to high society lawyers and businessman and everything in between.  Each character has a defining “voice” consistent with their histories and culture, from traditional haoli conversations to the pidgin dialect heard among those born on Hawaii.  Here Kimo and his partner track down two suspects in the case:

“Mr. Campbell. Police. Open up.” We waited, and Ray was about to knock again when the door opened. Larry, a fat Hawaiian guy with dark dreadlocks, stuck his head out. “Hey, Leroy, it’s da kine police,” he said. “Long time no see, bruddas.”

Larry yawned and stepped outside, and big, bald Leroy followed him. “How about your cousin Pika?” Ray asked. “He in there, too?” “Nah, he wen bag two days ago.” “But he was living with you before he left?” I asked. “Sometimes he moi moi wid us, sometimes wid his buddy,” Leroy said.

To Ray’s credit, he seemed to be following the conversation, which meant he was learning our island pidgin. Pika slept at their place sometimes, but had left two days before. “Tacky?” I asked. Larry nodded. “Yeah. Bodybuilder dude. Dumb as two rocks in a box.” That could describe the Campbell brothers, too. “You know where we can find him?” I asked. “Try gym,” Leroy said. “Ho brah, he alla time workin out.”

Picked out of context, it might seem a little jarring but still you can hear the rhythm of the spoken words and in context, you barely notice it so because you have become so accustomed to hearing it throughout the novel.  By the end of the story, you will feel as though you have walked the streets of the city and sat and conversed with all types of Hawaiians,  The authenticity of elements and locations Plakcy has brought to the story make it that real.

We travel with Kimo and Ray as they traverse from one side of the island to the other, collecting Hawaiian history and geographical facts as we go. From the history of Hawaii’s quest for statehood or independence to the polyglot of cultures that makes up a typical Hawaiian conversation, we are slowly pulled in to the draw of the islands and the rhythm of daily life there. And not once does any of it come across as a regurgitation of a history lesson.

Again Plakcy seamlessly folds in tidbits of Hawaiian sayings and facts, as in this example:

“Just before four, we hopped in the Jeep to meet Frankie. In Honolulu, we don’t use mainland directions like east, west, north and south. Makai is toward the ocean, while mauka means inland, toward the mountains. Diamond Head is in the direction of that extinct volcano, while the opposite is called Ewa, toward a town of the same name.”

Actually I could just keep on with quote after quote, Natural Predators is that terrific, Neil S. Plakcy is that great.  His descriptions are vivid, wide ranging and carry with them the tone of a detective familiar with the full spectrum of human society, one that has lost its element to surprise him but manages to deliver an appreciation for life and its special moments no matter the situation. I am in love with all of the characters here.

Natural Predators is a novel not of one plot thread but many, and Plakcy does a remarkable job of not only paying equal attention to every one but also to keep each storyline as strong and rich in texture as all the rest.  The murder mysteries have a complex history to them, the foster child element will make you laugh and cry, sometimes together, you will hold your breath as Kimo and his partner Mike work through yet another potential obstacle to happiness with regard to surrogate fatherhood and still read in amazement as Plakcy rolls in more layers much like the tropical habitats that abound in Hawaii.  If I thought he would have heard it, I would have stood and applauded upon finishing this story.

So what happens now?  Well, hopefully you will go off to buy the book and I am going back to the beginning and start the series from Mahu (Mahu#1).  I can’t wait for the ride to begin again, such an E Ticket!

Here are the books in the order they were written:

Mahu (Mahu #1)

Mahu Surfer (Mahu #2)

Mahu Fire (Mahu #3)

Mahu Vice

Mahu Blood

Zero Break

Mahu Men: Mysterious and Erotic Stories

Natural Predators

I can’t find the name of the cover artist but they did a beautiful job, worthy of the story within.

Review of Ghosts in the Wind by Marguerite Labbe

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Rating: 5 stars

Dean Marshall and Andrei Cuza have been together 10 years, a anniversary they just finished celebrating.  These years together have not come without their own difficulties and challenges, especially with regard to Andrei’s Romany tribe who had disavowed him. Then there is the stress of Andrei’s job which to find and rescue abused and stolen children.  But they are happy and their love stronger than ever, as is the expectation they will spend the rest of their lives together.

But fate and an enraged criminal change all that.  As Andrei races to save a group of abducted children, Dean stops to help a women and her children stranded by a flat tire by the side of the road.  Unbeknownst to her, the woman’s estranged husband has followed her intent on retrieving his children.  The encounter ends with the man killing Dean and his wife and fleeing with his children.

When Dean wakes up, he is standing by a sheet covered body, watching as paramedics rush about the scene as policemen take notes.  He doesn’t understand by they won’t listen to him until a young girl appears and tells Dean that he is dead.   Her name is Ileana and she is Andrei’s dead sister come to help Dean because she didn’t want him to be sad.  While still not accepting the truth, Dean knows he has to get to Andrei because the two  missing children need his help, so Dean sets off to figure out how to accept his new status with Illeana’s help.

Andrei is shattered when he gets the call about Dean’s murder.  Everyone in his life either rejected him or left him until Dean and now he is dead.  Andrei believes his life is over until Dean and his little sister appear before him.  Andrei has been haunted by ghosts all of his life and one of his biggest regrets is that he feels responsible for his sister being caught in limbo unable to move on.  Their sibling love was so strong that when her illness killed her, she didn’t want to leave her brother alone and she didn’t understand the ramifications of staying in limbo.  For those spirits who  linger controlled by the strong emotions they held in life are hunted by Jackal Wraiths who consume the souls of the spirits they hunt.  A spirit only has so many chances to move on before they are stuck in perpetual limbo something the little girl never understood.

Now between his grief, rage,  and his guilt, Andrei’s love for Dean and Illeana must prove to be the emotion to rule his actions.  Dean is insistant that he not move on before the children are found, Illeana won’t leave Dean or Andrei and the strong emotions swirling around are sure to bring the Wraiths if the trio is not careful.  Andrei must figure out not only how to catch the murderer  and bring the children to safety but how to say goodbye to the only man he has ever loved before the time runs out for all of them.

This is listed as a Bittersweet Dreams title, a genre I usually stay far away from.  Lucky for me and you, that would be the last place I would list this book.  In fact bittersweet is a word that would not ever come to mind when I think of this amazing story of love, its all encompassing and enduring nature.  Timeless love is perhaps more accurate, because it doesn’t matter whether it is the love you hold for your partner or the love of a sibling, not even death changes the power and depth of your feelings for them.  Above all else, this story is about  love.

Marguerite Labbe pulls you into Dean and Andrei’s relationship right from the start.  Dean and Andrei are waking up and move right into a sensual scene of morning sex, that is hot and loving and feels so true for two men in an established relationship.  We get descriptions of their little mannerisms and small details that heighten their commitment to each other as well let us know that sex plays an important part of their lives.  I fell in love with both characters immediately without having the background knowledge that will come later in the story.  I felt how deeply they loved each other which made what follows all the more shattering.

Labbe does a remarkable and heartrending job of letting us “watch” as Andrei enters a building filled with pedophiles and the children they have abducted.  The police are coming but the danger and the anxiety starts ramping up as he reaches the children he comes to rescue.  Our hearts are in our throats for Andrei as the danger increases by the moment and the children are so very vulnerable and hurt.  Then we turn back to Dean on his way back from a successful business meeting and sees a woman in distress at the side of the road.  Back and forth we swing between the men and their disparate scenes, and our stomach starts to get queasy  and our eyes to tear because we know whats coming.  And come it does.  In the splashes of blood, and tears and cries of pain and loss so unbearable that you shatter along with Andrei.

But there is always the presence of Dean and young Illeana to shore us up. So real, so genuine are all the characters including the children, that their situation seems as real as Andrei’s.  They pull us back from grief and involve us in the plight of the two missing children as well as their own as times starts to run out before Dean too is stuck in limbo.  The author gives us so many outstanding elements, each as complex and expertly executed as the next,  in this story.  We have the otherworldly strand that involves Dean, Illeana, and the Jackal Wraiths which is very scary as well as vividly described, truly the stuff of nightmares.  Along side of this, Margueritie Labbe hauls us into the hunt for the murderer and the missing children.  My god, this was so well done.  As the police give up on finding the children, Andrei, and Dean know better.  And the race is on with just themselves and a friendly detective to continue the hunt which turns into a real knuckle biter itself.  Oh and did I tell you a hurricane is coming?

And throughout all this both Dean and Andrei must find a way to say goodbye.  Yes, I sobbed buckets of tears with this story,from beginning to the end.  But by then the tears of pain and loss had turned into tears of joy and happiness.  Yes, you read that right.  Joy and happiness about a story of murder and lovers separated by a criminal act.  The ending is perfection and one you will treasure, turning back to it over and over again.

Really, this is an exceptional book.  I raced through to the end, gobbling up each and every word, heart pounding, pulse racing, and yes, throw in some head throbbing to go along with the red eyes and runny nose.  And then I did it all again because I was afraid I had missed something the first time.  Yes, you can count on there being another reading in the future.  Because this book will haunt you, mesmerize you and leave you thinking once you have finished.  Don’t take my word for it.  Go buy this book, do it now.  Get some tissures and prepare to be enveloped in a love that knows no boundaries, even death.

Cover.  This cover by Reese Dante is one of the top ten for 2012.  Lush, haunting, just perfect in every way.

Review: Risking It All (Truth or Dare #5) by Lee Brazil

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Rating: 4 stars

Sebastian “Bastian” Grey has been asking his lover Rick Claremont for more, more time spent together, more commitment, heck, he would even settle for Rick letting him into Rick’s house but Rick has always pushed him away. But now Rick is adopting a small kitten. Can making one type of commitment mean that Rick is ready to make another?  Bastian can only hope that this might mean a new step forward in the relationship with a man he has wanted since Bastian was 16.

Rick Claremont came from an abusive childhood so trust has never come easy.  Rescued by Bastian’s older sister, he has watched Bastian grow up into a gorgeous man but one who takes risks all the time, in work and pleasure.  It doesn’t matter whether Bastian is running into burning buildings or jumping off sky jumps at mountain resorts, his life is always at jeopardy and Rick is hesitant to give his heart to someone who might not be around to make a relationship work.  Then a decision to get a kitten leads to thoughts of taking down some of the barriers that have kept the men from a deeper commitment.  Can Rick trust Bastian to stay safe and help him feel safe too?

This is the fifth book in the Truth or Dare series by Lee Brazil and the only one I have read to date.  The series seems to revolve around the Blake brothers and the people they fall in love with the exception of this one.  Risking It All is the story of Sebastian Grey, Dr. Arden Grey’s brother, and Rick Claremont, a young boy she rescued from an abusive life. Without having the foundation of the other books I was still able to enjoy Bastian and Rick’s story and get an understanding of each man’s history.  This is especially true for Rick Claremont whose past is horrific from every angle.  Father left, alcoholic mother died leaving him in the care of an abusive stepfather who was a monster.  I felt Rick had depth to his character and liked how Brazil created a character who is dealing effectively with his past abuse.  Too often we are given stories populated by characters broken by their past, it was a nice change to be given someone who has surmounted his past and we get a glimpse into how he has achieved this remarkable goal.  I found Rick believable, likable, and totally someone I become fond of immediately.

Bastian Grey was a little more problematic as his story is most likely told with his sister’s, Dr. Arden Grey, in Giving Up (Truth or Dare #4).  I would not necessarily have known he was a firefighter but I liked his “voice” and found his frustration with the status of his relationship with Rick so realistic I could almost hear his teeth grind.  You  could see how his impulsive nature could give Rick second thoughts when it came to trusting himself into Bastian’s care but his inherent “goodness” is also on display as well.  I would have liked to see more of Bastian’s story included here for those of us unfamiliar with the series.

There is an element of mystery when Rick’s stepfather is murdered and Rick finds himself  among the suspects, however temporarily.  The end of the book becomes overcrowded with characters I didn’t know or care about (perhaps from previous books) and I felt their addition obscured the relationship building between Rick and Bastian.  This is a novella in length but the characters and storyline almost cry out for a full length novel. The characters are wonderfully human displaying the full spectrum of behavior, from impulsiveness of Bastian to the wary attitude of Rick.  I would have loved much more of them and it gives me the impetus to look into how the series all started.

Cover: Victoria Miller gives us a beautifully dark cover in keeping with the dark elements of the story.  I loved the use of green in the fonts which really made the title and the author’s name stand out.

Truth or Dare Series, in the order they were written:

Keeping House, #1 – Mischa Blake and Donovan Holloway, m/m

Telling the Truth, #2 – Terry Blake and Twins Dex and Trick,  m/m/m

Giving Up, #3 – Branden Blake and Dr. Arden Grey m/f

Taking the Dare, #4 –  Dan Blake and Morgan Hawk,m/m

Risking it All, #5 – Bastian Grey and Rick Claremont  m/m