Book Blitz: Sound of Us by A.M. Arthur (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Sound of Us

Series: Us #2

Author: A.M. Arthur

Publisher: Briggs-King Books

Release Date: April 21, 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 304 pages

Genre: Gay Romance

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Synopsis

Jake Bowden didn’t expect to be settling into a strong, loving relationship with another guy at only twenty-three years old—never mind with two. His chemistry with Cris is as strong as ever, while things with Charles are more like a simmer than a heavy boil. Charles says he’s perfectly content to go at Jake’s pace, but Jake isn’t sure slow is what he wants anymore. And when Jake wants something, he isn’t shy about going after it.

Cris Sable is head-over-heels in love with the two men in his life, and he’s vowed to do everything he can to protect the fragile, three-way relationship they’re cultivating—even if it means lying about his past. A dark past that resurfaces in an unexpected way and forces Cris to make the difficult choice between shielding Jake and Charles from it, or trusting them enough to help him face it head-on.

Charles Greenwood had forgotten what it felt like to be loved, until a feisty go-go boy and an ex-porn star fell into his bed, and then stole his heart away. He loves both men equally, but differently, slowly stoking the fire of the chemistry he shares with Jake, while passionately pursuing Cris—both in and out of bed. Their lives are entwining in the very best way…until Cris starts to pull away, distancing himself from the loving support of their triad. And after Cris disappears one night on a drunken bender, Charles vows to do whatever it takes to prove to Cris that he can trust them with anything—mind, body and spirit.

Three separate hearts will finally beat as one.

Note: This is the continuation of an m/m/m romance begun in Here For Us and is best read in order to fully enjoy the character and story development. The book also contains mild BDSM elements, including spanking.

Excerpt

Jake swallowed hard before facing Chet. “I want to move back to Benny’s apartment for a while, so I can prove I can function on my own and manage my meds, and that all of my progress isn’t going to go away if you guys aren’t here twenty-four-seven to prop me up.”

Chet’s frown softened into a fond smile. “I think that’s a very mature decision, Jake.”

“You do?”

“Very much so. In fact, I’ve been struggling with a way to bring this up myself.”

Jake edged backward a step. “You want me to leave?”

“Quite the opposite.” Chet invaded Jake’s personal space, trapping Jake between the island and his taller body. He hunched down to meet Jake’s eyes and planted both hands on the countertop behind Jake. “I love you here, in my house and in my bed. But I brought you here knowing it was temporary, and now that you’re managing your illness, you need to start managing your life again.”

“Yeah,” Jake said.

“So if you leave, I want you to leave knowing you will always be welcome back.”

“Thank you.” Jake’s lips curled into a sexy smirk. “Plus, us living in different places means we can go on, like, real dates. You and me don’t really do a lot just the two of us.”

“That’s true, and we can most certainly manage dates. I’d love to spend time with you outside of this house.”

“But what about other people knowing that all three of us are dating?” He squirmed enough that Chet stepped back, giving him space.

“What about it?” Chet asked. “Even if the three of us went out to a meal in a nice restaurant, no one would know we were together unless we began swapping kisses at the table.”

The mental image of the three of them dressed up and making out in a fancy restaurant made Cris’s dick twitch with interest. He’d never do it, but goddamn, he wanted to publicly claim these two amazing, passionate men as his, and no one else’s.

“I guess.” Jake didn’t sound happy about the idea of their threesome being discovered, and that hurt a little bit.

“Are you embarrassed to be dating two men at once?” Cris asked.

“Not really. I mean, it isn’t that I’m embarrassed by you guys. It’s just that this is so…abnormal.”

Cris flinched.

“Shit, that’s the wrong word,” Jake said. He pushed away from the counter and stalked to the kitchen table. Grabbed the back of a chair but didn’t turn around. “Chet explained polyamory to me and I get it. I do. But not everyone else will. Most people won’t.”

“That didn’t seem to be an issue when we started this weeks ago,” Cris said, confused by this new hesitation in Jake. And frustrated at talking to his back. “Will you look at us, please?”

Jake turned, arms crossed, a familiar look of defiance on his face.

“I think I understand,” Chet said. “Jake leaving moves this relationship outside of these four walls. It’s no longer protected. No longer hidden from outside scrutiny and criticism.”

“But that’s going to have to happen at some point,” Cris said. “We can’t hide forever, and we shouldn’t have to.” They’d already been hiding for weeks, and all Cris wanted to do was shout to the rooftops about how lucky he was.

“I know that, okay?” Jake snapped. “I just…I’m a go-go dancer, you know? People hear that and automatically assume I’m some kind of slut, so what will they think if they know I’m seeing two guys at once? Uber-slut dancer, aisle threesome?”

“You know you aren’t a slut, so why does it matter so much what other people think?”

Jake took three strides forward, hands balled at his sides, unexpected anger blazing in his eyes. “That’s easy for you to say. You’re this big, buff dude who can shut people up with a glare, and you’re comfortable with people looking at you. You did porn, for fuck’s sake. And maybe I dance half-naked for money, but that doesn’t mean I want people staring at my personal life and dissecting it. It’s too private for that.”

Cris frowned. “Just because I did porn doesn’t mean I’m comfortable with people getting up in my personal life either. Why the hell do you think I used a stage name? Yeah, I showed off my naked body, but Dane wasn’t me, Jake. Internet subscribers don’t get the real me. You guys do.”

“So if you don’t want people up in our business, either, why don’t you get what I’m saying?” Jake was coiled tight, one wrong word away from bursting into tears.

Cris had to fix this. “I do get what you’re saying. I guess I see our relationship differently. I don’t see it as this weird, bizarre thing that people are going to examine under a microscope like we’re a new strain of bacteria. I’m so goddamn proud to be with both of you, and I want to show it. I want people to know you guys are mine and that I love you. I can’t do that if we’re hiding in this house.”

A single tear slipped down Jake’s cheek, and the sight of it broke Cris’s heart a little bit. He swept Jake into his arms, grateful that Jake didn’t struggle or protest the hug. “I’m sorry,” Cris whispered. “I’m sorry I can’t say the right thing, I’m sorry.”

“You said the right thing,” Jake said into his armpit. “I’m the emotional mess who gets weepy over the way you say ‘I love you’.”

Purchase

Amazon

Meet the Author

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, SMP Swerve, and Briggs-King Books.

When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Website | Facebook | Twitter |  eMail

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BLOG TOUR: One Bullet by Casey Wolfe (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  One Bullet

Author: Casey Wolfe

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 27

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50400

Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, law enforcement, PTSD, parkour, free running, therapy, healing, no explicit sex, slow burn-UST, friends to lovers.

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Synopsis

When Ethan Brant was shot, he found himself dealing with severe PTSD and unable to do his job as a police officer any longer. With the aid of Detective Shawn Greyson, the man who saved his life, Ethan not only finds himself again but discovers love as well.

Shawn’s life growing up was less than ideal, however, he overcame that to become who he is today. That doesn’t mean he isn’t missing something in his life. What Shawn hadn’t realized, upon first meeting, was that Ethan could give him all that and more.

One bullet changed both their lives.

Excerpt

One Bullet
Casey Wolfe © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Blood. So much blood. The echo of a gun. The smell of gunpowder. The sharp bite of a bullet. Viscous liquid slipping through his fingers.

Darkness. A voice coming through it. Words he should have recognized. Concerned, though not panicked. Surprisingly warm. Warm like the arms he was pulled into.

Flashing lights. Red. Red seen behind closed eyes. Like the blood on his hands, on the ground.

Cold. Like death.

Shooting up in bed, Ethan’s anguished cry died on his lips. He shook, breath ragged as he wiped away the cold sweat from his brow. More sweat covered his body, making goosebumps break out. His mouth was dry, throat sore from screaming. No doubt the neighbors would be complaining to building management again.

He wasn’t sure how long it took before his brain provided the vital information that he’d been dreaming. Ethan drew in a deep, shaky breath, letting it out slowly. He sat up fully, repeating the process and attempting to calm himself. It was a dream. Just a dream, he reminded himself. You’re safe. You’re alive. Just a dream.

When he felt that he wasn’t about to go into a full-blown panic attack at any moment, Ethan looked at his bedside clock. The glowing blue numbers informed him there wasn’t much point in attempting sleep again. Instead, he switched off the alarm and hauled himself out of bed, trudging toward the bathroom and a cold shower.

He pressed a hand to the tiles, leaning into the spray, head down. As water sloshed off his body, Ethan blew out a breath. He rubbed his free hand over his face before shaking his head as though he could shake out the memories. Sighing, he ran his fingers through his brunet hair. It was looking shabby and in need of a trim, but he couldn’t find it in himself to care.

He was losing some muscle as well. Much of that was due to his recovery after being in the hospital. He hadn’t been able to run with his parkour buddies until recently or do anything remotely resembling a sit-up. Still, becoming a twenty-six-year-old recluse wasn’t doing him any good either.

Ethan wasn’t vain, but he did like to stay in shape. His core was still there, even being as out of sorts as he was. Fingers ran across the small scar to the left of his navel, a reminder of the event months before that continued to shadow his every move.

Shutting the shower off, he grabbed a towel and dried his hair the best he could before wrapping the fabric around his waist. Water dripped onto the floor, but he paid it no mind, stopping at the sink to brush his teeth. He caught his reflection in the mirror, his dark-green eyes looking back, haunted.

It was going to be a long day.

* * *

The walk to work wasn’t far—roughly half a mile—so Ethan never found a point in taking public transport. Besides, the fresh air did him good. Well, as fresh as the air could be in the city. In any case, it was good for him to stretch his legs and clear his head. Unless the weather was poor, he gladly took the extra time to walk, and today was a clear and balmy summer day typical of Washington State.

Perhaps given how his day had started, he should have caught the bus. This was evident the second he looked up and saw a beat cop walking down the sidewalk toward him. Ethan froze momentarily. He tugged at the single strap across his chest, shifting the bag on his back. His eyes darted about, checking traffic and slipping across the street before the cop reached him.

The move must have looked suspicious as Ethan found himself approached by a police cruiser. It paced alongside him, and the officer in the passenger seat called out to him. “Hey, buddy.”

Ethan bit back the I’m not your buddy that was on the tip of his tongue and, instead, ignored him until the officer raised his voice. “Yeah?” he inquired, not stopping.

“Mind if we chat a minute?”

“Yeah, I do,” Ethan answered, turning sideways to slide past some people. “I need to get to work.”

“It’ll just take a minute,” the officer insisted in a tone meant to make him obey.

It was too bad that it didn’t work on someone like Ethan. Having been a cop himself, he knew the tricks. He also knew the law. There was no probable cause for them to detain him, so he needn’t stop at all. “Sorry. Can’t help you.”

The cruiser stopped, the officer getting out and moving into his path. “Sir.” Ethan backpedaled a few steps. He held up an arm, making a barrier between himself and the cop. He noted the man’s partner getting out of the driver’s side, walking to the back of the cruiser, and hovering there.

“Officer,” Ethan spoke as clearly as he could, “my name is Ethan Brant. There are standing orders within the department that any contact with me should be reported into dispatch immediately.” He was attempting to stay calm, but it was difficult as his muscles started to twitch.

The cop stepped forward. “Wait, wait, no…” Ethan began to panic, backing away. He was trying to get out the prepared speech as he was told to say it. Neither of the officers seemed as though they wanted to listen. “You’re not supposed to touch me. You’re supposed to keep your distance and call it in. Please.”

The moment a hand was laid on him, Ethan snapped. He shoved the cop away, taking off at a dead run.

A car slammed its brakes just in time to avoid hitting him, blocking his path. Instinct took over and Ethan slid right across the hood. He could hear the call for backup, but all he wanted was to vanish.

Free running with his friends may have been something he hadn’t done much since his accident, thanks to his long recovery, but muscle memory kicked in, and he let his mind go.

He ran between shops, a dumpster on the lowered backlot catching his eye. He cleared the safety railing without slowing, running across the top of the dumpster. With momentum, Ethan leapt off the other side, flipping before landing lightly on his feet.

He came out of the connecting alley into a shopping plaza, wide open for him to work with. Ethan made to turn left, spotting the cruiser that screamed up onto the sidewalk. In midrun he extended his foot out, springing off a bench and pushing his body in the opposite direction. Using the retaining wall of the decorative plant beds to avoid the crowd, he managed to get distance between them.

Ahead there was a set of stairs going down toward the park, and rather than avoid them, he used the terrain to his advantage. Diving forward, he cleared the stone rail, his palms touching the rail on the opposite side. He tucked his legs, missing both rails as he swung them forward, feet landing lightly on the ground. Despite protesting muscles, he repeated the same move for the next stairway.

As he kept running, he realized where he was. It didn’t matter that another set of cops had come in from the opposite end of the shopping plaza because Ethan wasn’t planning to use the traditional entrance. A brick wall with a switchback of stairs was at his right, and that was his means of escape.

Forgetting the stairs—which would only slow him down—he brought his left foot up to a railing, using it to launch him at the wall. He gripped the ledge above him, bringing his knees up to push with the balls of his feet. Muscling up made him grunt at the pain coursing through his abdomen, a move he shouldn’t have been doing just yet.

Somewhere in the back of his head, he was aware of the cops yelling in disbelief, getting their colleagues on the radio to update them on Ethan’s direction of travel. Ethan didn’t plan on the police being able to find him fast enough before he completely disappeared.

He ran across the street, jumping up and over the wooden bench in his path. Well aware of the laptop in his backpack, rather than simply tucking and rolling, he shifted his weight midair so he would land on his hip and leg, rolling through to his feet.

The entrance to the subway was right there, and he slid down the metal railing in the center of the stairwell.

Ethan’s breathing was ragged. It had been too long since he had a run like that; his muscles burned. He leaned a forearm on a pillar, waiting for the next train to pass through the subway. He just needed to sit, to center himself. A crowded morning train car wasn’t the best place, but he didn’t have much of a choice.

Even the strap of his backpack felt constraining across his chest. He yanked the strap over his head and set the bag onto the ground at his feet. Ethan took a deep lungful of air.

Just as he thought he was safe, someone grabbed his arm. Ethan simply reacted, using his strength to swing the man around to collide with the pillar. It was then Ethan saw his attacker was a cop, but he missed the officer’s partner.

Volts of electricity cascaded through his body, causing Ethan’s legs to buckle, and he went down on the tiled platform. He was helpless to stop the officer who put a knee in his back, grabbing his arms. Panic seeped into every pore. The click of the handcuffs as the cold metal wrapped around his wrist made him struggle. It was in vain; a second shocking jolt was sent through him.

“Get off him!” a man ordered. “Now!” It took Ethan a moment to recognize the smooth cadence and authoritative tone. He craned his neck, tears stinging his eyes, to gaze on Detective Shawn Greyson. When the officers protested, Shawn held up his badge and glowered. “Stand down,” he growled, physically removing them.

“We just chased this kid all over the damn city!” one argued. “Just ’cause yer a detective—”

“I said back off!” Shawn yelled, eyes like fire and his entire presence radiating danger. It was more than enough to have both of them doing as they were told.

Shawn immediately crouched next to Ethan and unhooked the cuffs. Shawn helped him to sit, running his hands up and down Ethan’s arms. “Hey, you’re alright. You’re safe,” Shawn assured him, voice low and easy. Ethan met deep blue-gray eyes, heart-wrenching at the sight of the friendly face. “Just focus on your breathing, okay? I’ve got you.”

Ethan nodded, thankful for the watchful gaze that allowed him to concentrate on centering himself. He listened to Shawn’s steady voice, not even focusing on the words so much as the calming tone. Shawn’s touch was reassuring, hands continuing their path up and down Ethan’s arms before grasping his shoulders.

“That’s it,” Shawn spoke. “There you go.” Ethan took a deep breath, looking at him once more. Shawn smiled encouragingly. “Better?” Ethan gave a slight nod, not trusting his voice just yet. “Okay. Take your time.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Author of gay romantic fiction, from contemporary to paranormal and everything in between.

For Casey, existence equals writing. History nerd, film enthusiast, music lover, avid gamer, and just an all-around geek. Add in an unapologetic addiction to loose-leaf tea and you get the general picture. Married, with furry four-legged children, Casey lives happily in the middle of nowhere Ohio.

Website | Facebook | eMail | Tumblr

Tour Schedule

3/27    Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/27    MM Good Book Reviews

3/28    Dog-Eared Daydreams  

3/28    BFD Book Blog

3/29    Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/29    Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/30    Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/30    Happily Ever Chapter

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Love a Paranormal Romance? Check out ‘The Alpha’s Prey’ by Lou Kelly (author interview, excerpt, and giveaway)

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Title:  The Alpha’s Prey

Author: Lou Kelly

Publisher:  Amazon KDP

Release Date: 03/01/2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000 words

Genre: Romance, shifter, paranormal romance

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Lou Kelly here today talking writing and sharing thoughts on her characters from her recent release, The Alpha’s Prey. Welcome, Lou!

✒︎

Let’s Talk Characters with Lou Kelly!

Q: Who is your favorite character in The Alpha’s Prey?

A: That’s a hard question to answer! I always fall in love with my main characters as I’m writing. I figure, if I don’t love them, I can’t expect my audience to fall for them. So, maybe this is cheating, but I’m going to name both of the main characters.

I love Devon’s fighting spirit. He never gives up no matter how difficult the obstacle or how much the odds are stacked against him. He’s a character who’s had to fight hard for everything he’s achieved as a skater, starting out cleaning the ice rink to pay for his lessons as he climbed the ranks to international success. Devon’s career has taught him how to get up after a fall, and that’s a skill he desperately needs in this book.

Aaron is a caretaker. As the alpha of his pack, he’s strong but he doesn’t depend on brute force to lead. Rather, he’s incredibly smart and nurturing. In this story Aaron’s patience is challenged again and again as he waits for his mate to be healed in both body and spirit, but every time he rises to the challenge and makes sure that Devon is loved and protected.

Q: If you had to pick from all of your novels, who would you name as your favorite character?

A: Actually, it would be one of my secondary characters from Unguarded. Bart was such a blast to write. I didn’t intend for him to have such a prominent role in the book, but every time he entered the story he ended up stealing the scene. Writing Bart’s lines made me laugh out loud.

Q: What do you think makes a great character?

A:  Personally, I love a character who is conflicted in some way. I like stories where the two characters have to battle their preconceptions in order to be together. And I love it when there’s a tinge of darkness to a character’s personality.

In The Alpha’s Prey, I enjoyed writing the scenes where Aaron struggles with his powerlessness. In the story, another alpha is hunting Aaron’s mate, and he wants to protect Devon – has to protect him — but his hands are tied when their opponent goes into hiding. Aaron is a strong character, but when he is forced to deal with a situation that’s too often out of control, this allows him to show different aspects of his personality to the reader. He gets scared, frustrated, and even desperate, but he never loses his strength.

Q: What are some of your favorite characters from other novels?

A: I loved the character of Tover in Astrid Amara’s Song of the Navigator. He could have so easily come across as shallow, but he never did. What happens to him is horrible, and as a reader I really had to wonder whether he’d have the strength to forgive. This is one of my favorite m/m novels.

I also loved Lord Crane and Stephen Day in The Magpie Lord by KJ Charles. I adored both of the main characters (Gray and John) in Jordan Hawk’s SPECTR series. And I always love Keira Andrews’ characters as well. Every book she writes ends up on my re-read list!

Synopsis

If there’s one thing Devon O’Leary hates, it’s wolves. Everyone thinks the wolfman he remembers as his abductor is a figment of his imagination, but Devon knows the truth and he has the scars to prove it. Wolf shifters are real; they have sharp claws, horrible fangs, and show no mercy to their victims. And one of their Alphas has claimed him as its prey.

Can two men overcome impossible odds to claim the love that was meant to be theirs? Or will Devon’s past cause him to reject the mate who would do anything to keep him safe?

Excerpt

Aaron Lowell had a splitting headache. Again.
Actually, this was a migraine. Even the gentle lamplight in his log home made his forehead crease with pain and his fists clench. If he were fully human, the fact that he’d been getting migraines would suck, but he’d take some medication and visit his doctor. Maybe get an MRI. The problem was, Aaron was a wolf shifter, and shifters did not get migraines. Alphas in peak condition did not salivate for Percaset on the day of the full moon.
And yet, jesus, mary, and joseph, Aaron’s head fucking hurt.
The television was blaring in the living room and Aaron forced himself to walk the few feet to shut it off, but a national news promo was on, interrupting the hockey game to inform viewers that there’d been a break in the Devon O’Leary case.
Headache or no headache, there was zero chance he was shutting off the television now.
Devon O’Leary was a figure skater, dubbed America’s prince after his gold medal win at the World Championships. He’d been abducted almost four weeks ago, and ever since, Aaron hadn’t been able to stop thinking about the guy. Any abduction was horrific, but there was something about this one that tore at Aaron’s guts and wouldn’t let go.
Maybe he was obsessed with the story because he’d always nursed a secret crush on Devon. Who wouldn’t? Devon was a breathtakingly beautiful Irish twenty-two year old with chestnut curls, striking blue eyes, a perfect ass, and a smile that brought dimples to both cheeks. He had an amazing build, masculine, and yet completely graceful on the ice. As far as Aaron could tell, the kid was perfect: gorgeous, bashful, and talented.
Around here, in the mountains of Holland, North Dakota, Devon was also a hometown hero because he’d grown up in the area and trained at the local Ice Hut, making his way up the ranks by scrubbing floors to pay for rink time until he won his first national competition. Like everyone else in Holland, Aaron had loved watching Devon skate, even though his pack teased him mercilessly. Not that Aaron cared about a little teasing. He was an Alpha, and he could watch figure skating if he damn well wanted to.
Except, now Devon might be dead.
Please don’t say they found his body.
Aaron couldn’t tell whether his nausea was due to the migraine or the news report. Ever since the abduction his wolf had been howling to get loose and rip someone’s throat out. He guessed most people felt that way, minus the wolf part, of course. Something precious had been stolen from them.
Someone precious.
Aaron took a deep breath, trying to steady himself. Honestly, if this was the report where they announced they’d found Devon’s mutilated corpse, Aaron thought his wolf might go crazy.
Finally, the breaking news promo ended and a blonde reporter came on screen, standing in front of a tiny, nondescript hunting shack blocked off with yellow tape. She was obviously deep in the woods, bundled in a hooded fur coat, trying not to shiver in the snow.
The blood in Aaron’s ears pounded so loud he could hardly make out a word the reporter was saying, but he got the gist of the recap as she filled the audience in on Devon’s abduction from the ice rink after one of his training sessions. A photograph of Devon flashed onto the screen, followed by a three second cut of him spinning on ice, a flash of him receiving a gold medal at January’s National Skating Competition, and then a fragment of an interview in which Devon laughed, blushed a gorgeous pink, and shook his reddish brown curls in an unconscious gesture that was so endearing Aaron nearly wept.
Fuck. He was really losing control.
“At long last, there’s a lead regarding the abduction of Devon O’Leary,” the reporter said. “Police have located a remote hunting shack where they believe Devon was being held, maybe even as recently as this morning. The break came after a hunter reported seeing a bound figure being carried to a flatbed truck, and police have been scouring the area since the report came in. What they’ve turned up has been, to say the least, disturbing.
“Although police aren’t commenting on the specifics of what was found inside this shack, they have confirmed that blood and other sources of DNA have been brought to a lab where technicians will determine if they belong to Devon O’Leary. As to whether the bound figure was dead or alive, the witness couldn’t be sure.
“Devon’s only surviving relative, his grandmother, Layla O’Leary, and his coach, Ivan Jacobowitz, have both been in constant contact with authorities and have said that this news gives them hope that Devon will be found. They’re pleading with the public to be on alert for anything that might bring Devon home.”
The reporter looked forlorn, and Aaron wondered if that was due to the news about Devon or the freezing temperatures on the mountain.
“According to the witness,” she continued, “the truck was a rusted, blue Chevrolet without plates and the man carrying the bound figure was described as Caucasian, approximately six foot four, abnormally large and muscular with red hair, a full beard, and a scar across one cheek. Police are asking the public to be on alert for signs of this man or his vehicle.”
Police sketches covered the screen and Aaron drew in a sharp breath at the sight.
No. No, no, no.
The sketch of the abductor had the classic profile of a wolf shifter. Large and muscular were the same two words people used to describe Aaron when they first met him, but there was more: a certain sharp cut of the features that spoke of an Alpha wolf. The shoulders were too broad, the facial features more chiseled, and the eyes … even in a black-and-white sketch, the eyes seemed to glow.
“No.” Aaron repeated the only word his aching brain could conjure. “Please, no.” He ran his fingertips down the length of the television screen as if he could reach inside and pull Devon out. Rescue him from his tormentor.
The sound of his front door slamming shut pulled Aaron’s attention back to reality. His Beta and best friend, Georgia, stepped inside, shaking snow out of her waist length, curly brown hair and removing her pale pink parka. She glanced at Aaron, and then at the television.
“I came as soon as I could,” she said. “Heard the news report on the radio and I had a feeling you’d be melting down.”
Aaron grunted. “Why would you think that?”
Georgia’s eyes strayed to Aaron’s living room wall. Newspaper articles and photographs of Devon were pinned to every wooden beam, even taped to the window pane. Each lead the police had produced thus far – not that any of them had panned out – were pinpointed on a large map tacked between Aaron’s framed college diploma and his UND Hockey poster. A glossy, color cut-out from Skating magazine showed Devon’s smiling face.
“Okay. Maybe I’ve been a bit obsessive,” he admitted, “but the guy’s a local. I know his grandmother, for god’s sake.”
“You know his grandmother because you started visiting her at the assisted living facility after Devon’s abduction,” Georgia reminded him. Gently. For someone whose wolf form was as big as her Alpha’s, Georgia was surprisingly gentle. Even in human form she stood only slightly smaller than Aaron’s broad, six foot four frame, yet she still came across as delicate.
Aaron shook his head. “Yeah. I guess that’s true. I feel like I’ve known her forever.” Over the past month he’d found this sort of thing happening a lot. His head felt muddled, as if every thought had to travel through a thick layer of fog before an idea could emerge. “She’s an amazing woman. She’s already lost a husband, a son, and a daughter-in-law. I can’t imagine how she’s surviving. Maybe I’ll stop by tonight and –”
Georgia cleared her throat, reaching over to shut off the television. “Don’t tell me you’ve forgotten what night this is.”
“What? Oh. Right. Of course not.” But for a moment, Aaron had forgotten. How the hell had he forgotten about the full moon? For shifters, the full moon beat in their veins, literally speeding up the flow of blood so their whole body felt vibrant and alive, ready to split open at any moment. Not a feeling one could easily forget.
“The pack is looking forward to running. You know your mood has been affecting them over the past few weeks. They need this release, Aaron.”
“Yeah. I know.”
He did know. He’d had his first nightmare after the previous full moon waned, quickly followed by his first migraine the next day, and in the weeks since he’d been sluggish, irritable, and nearly incapable of making a decision. Basically, the opposite of everything his pack deserved from their leader.
“Relax,” Georgia said, as if she could read his mind. “No one expects you to be perfect. You’re a damn good Alpha and five years of doing everything right isn’t going to be erased by one bad month. Especially not when there’s clearly something wrong with you.” She paused. “Uh, medically, I mean. The pack is worried, that’s all. We want to see you healthy and it’s scary that Doc doesn’t know how to treat you. Everyone’s hoping that shifting on the full moon will help.”
Aaron couldn’t deny that he’d been hoping for the same thing. Shifters were supposed to heal quickly. Long term illnesses weren’t a part of shifter life until they grew old, but for him, there was even more resting on the full moon shift because the truth was, Doc not only couldn’t cure him, he couldn’t find anything wrong with Aaron in the first place, which meant that whatever was going on was probably in his head.
Even now he could hear Doc’s patient voice. “You took over this pack real young, Aaron. I understand your father wanted to take the position with the council up in Canada, but you’re not mated and you were just out of grad school. Running a pack and a business is a lot of stress for someone your age.”
According to Doc, Aaron had latched onto Devon’s case in an attempt to channel his own latent anxiety into something concrete. Maybe that was true, but Aaron hadn’t been conscious of any out-of-the-ordinary stress before everything fell apart. The pack ran a business building custom log homes, and sales were booming. He’d been able to use his MBA to bring in new customers and nearly double their clientele. Sure, he missed his father, but he loved being Alpha. Leadership was in his blood. Literally.
“Have you eaten anything today?” Georgia asked, walking into his kitchen. She didn’t wait for an answer, rummaging through his refrigerator and stacking mounds of leftover bacon, baked beans, and a pile of carrots onto a paper plate. “You need fuel for tonight.”
She walked back out and set the plate on his coffee table, but Aaron ignored her. He took a red pushpin and stuck it onto the map at the location where the hunting shack had been found. Aaron stared at the pin. The spot was about three hours north in rugged terrain, but it would be possible to get there by nightfall.
“What are you thinking?” Georgia asked, reaching over to massage his shoulders. Aaron was suddenly aware that he’d been wearing the same shirt for three days straight, and he hadn’t shaved, so dark stubble was turning into a full beard. He kept his black hair cut short most of the time, but it had grown out into a ragged, unkempt look, made worse by the circles under his eyes.
“I, uh … we’re going to run here tonight.” He reached out and placed a finger on an area just north of the pushpin where a single dotted line indicated a logging road. Georgia stopped massaging.
“Aaron, I know you want to find this guy, but …”
Aaron whirled on her. “It’s not that I want to find Devon. I need to find him. And he needs to be found. This area isn’t claimed by any pack, so there’s no reason we can’t run here.”
“No reason except that the whole mountain is probably crawling with police.”
“You know humans, they’ll stop searching at nightfall, especially with the temperature dropping.”
Georgia pursed her lips. “Then there’s the three hour drive there and back. Parents with pups will have to get childcare at the last minute, or else we’ll have to leave someone behind to watch the little ones.”
“Ask a few of the elders to stay. Tell them it’s a personal favor for their Alpha.”
“You should also consider the pack’s feelings. They’re already confused about why you’re so obsessed with Devon’s disappearance, and this sudden change in plans won’t help matters.”
“Enough!” The word came out in a stifled roar and ended on a growl. “I’m still the Alpha, and if I say we run here tonight, then that’s where we run. Unless anyone wants to challenge me for my position, in which case they can try their best.”
Georgia made a startled yelp and lowered her eyes to the floor, tilting her head to show her submission. “Of course not, Aaron. No one is challenging your leadership. We love you and support you. I’m just saying it will be difficult to pull everything together at such late notice.”
“I don’t care,” Aaron said. “Do whatever it takes. Anyone who has a valid reason to stay home can run here with a smaller pack or stay with the kids, but I expect everyone else to be ready to leave by four o’clock. We’ll fan out around the base of the mountain and work our way up. This isn’t a request; it’s an order.”
Georgia nodded, but they both knew she wouldn’t have to repeat the last part. Even now the pack could probably sense Aaron’s intensity. They’d feel it in rippling waves of emotion, capped off with the need to obey.
“I better get started then,” she said, reaching for the parka she’d just discarded. She paused, looking back up. “Aaron, is there something you’re not telling me? Something else driving your desire to run in that territory? I mean, besides the obvious.”
Georgia could always tell when he was holding back. That was part of what made her an ideal Beta.
Aaron sighed. “I didn’t like the sketch of the possible abductor that the police released.” He shrugged. “I know it’s just a composite and the witness could be wrong about what he saw, but …”
“But what?”
“The guy looks like a wolf shifter. An Alpha.”
Georgia’s eyebrows climbed up her forehead.
“I realize this probably sounds insane considering I’ve only seen one pencil sketch,” Aaron said, “but if you think about it, the whole scenario points to a shifter. Devon was abducted on the morning after the full moon ended. If he’s been alive this whole time, that means someone has kept him hidden, and now he’s been moved right before the next full moon ascends. I know it’s not much, but I think we have to check things out.”
Georgia set her hand on his arm. “Actually,” she said, “it’s a lot. If there’s even a chance that you’re right, we need to take that shifter down.”
Aaron let out a breath. “Thank you.” There were so many reasons to love Georgia he couldn’t count them all. Her unconditional support was in the top ten.
“I’ll rally the troops,” she said. “Worst thing that happens, we rule out the idea that Devon’s being kept in that area. Best thing? We save that kid’s life, take down a rogue Alpha, and become the heroes of Holland, North Dakota.” She grinned, flashing the wide smile that could rival any Hollywood actress.
Aaron reached over and pulled her close, planting a kiss on her cheek. “Tell me again why we’re not mated?”
She winked, bumping him with her hip. “Could be because Walt would complain. I swear, he gets the Mate-of-the-Year award for coming in second place all the time and not leaving me. If you didn’t prefer men, he’d have dragged me off to another pack ages ago.” She paused, giving Aaron a look. “You know, Walt has this theory that Devon is really your mate and that’s why you’re so drawn to his case. He says your wolf is in pain because it has a psychic link with its soul mate. Might explain the migraines.”
Aaron laughed. “Nice theory, except for the minor detail about the guy being fully human. Trust me, I sniffed around his old apartment and didn’t find even a trace of wolf scent.”
“I don’t know,” Georgia said. “I’ve heard of other wolves being mated to humans. It’s pretty rare, but it happens.”
“Not to Alphas,” Aaron said, shaking his head. “Doc says we’re genetically designed to be mated with female wolves so we can continue the pack. He’s sworn up and down that when the time comes and I meet my mate I’ll feel attracted to her. I told him that if I was going to be attracted to any woman it would be you.”
Georgia laughed. “You put too much stock in Doc’s opinions. He’s a sweet old man, Aaron, but he’s been the only wolf doctor in this tiny, backwater town since before we were born. I don’t even know if he got a medical degree or if he just learned the art from his grandfather.”
“So what are you saying?”
“Nothing. Just that Doc’s been wrong before and crazier things have happened.” She pulled on her coat and headed to the door. “I’ll see you later,” she said. “If Devon’s out there, we’ll find him.”
Long after the door shut, Aaron stood in the same exact spot, staring at the wall. He tried to hold the idea of Devon being his mate in his mind, but the thought brought his migraine back full-force. If he were to believe that was true, it would mean that someone had taken away the man meant to be his soul mate and held that man captive in a hunting shack for a month, while he did god only knew what to him.
Aaron’s head spun. No. Better not to go there. The idea was crazy to begin with, and there was nothing to be gained from entertaining the thought. He needed to sleep for an hour or two before the pack headed out. Give in to his body’s demands before he exerted himself.
Slowly, Aaron crawled up the stairs and flung his tired form onto his bed. He closed his eyes, knowing he’d dream about dimples and chestnut curls, arms reaching out to him, desperate and in pain, pleading for his help.
Begging to be found.

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Meet the Author

Lou Kelly loves a great romance. Having honed her skills as an author through a decade of writing and publishing, she discovered m/m fiction and fell in love. What does she like best? The slow burn.

“No insta-love for me. I adore a well-developed full-length novel with characters who are believable and sympathetic. My favorite relationships are the kind where suppressed desire sizzles with sexual tension struggling for release. Give me a strong Alpha male who has to fight for his mate, or enemies who are shocked when hate turns into love, or a mysterious stranger who doesn’t want his secrets revealed … I crave books that keep me up past my bedtime.”

When she isn’t writing, Lou Kelly loves to travel. Sadly, most of her traveling these days happens between the pages of books, but top on her wish list is a trip to Greece. Followed by New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland. *sigh* Someday she hopes to explore them all. Until then, you can find her reading! – Lou Kelly is a member of RWA (Romance Writers of America), and a proud member of RRW (Rainbow Romance Writers).

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Re-Release Day Blitz & Giveaway for Settling the Score by Eden Winters

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Title: Settling the Score

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 10/6/2016

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 86,000 words

Genre: Romance, Humor, Age Difference, Movie Star, Author, Small Town, Mechanic, Getting Even

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Synopsis

Outed and dumped on national television by his rising star boyfriend, Joey Nichols must face the bigotry of the locals in his small Southern town alone. His dreams of a happy ever after lie crushed at his feet.

Novelist Troy Steele has an axe to grind against Hollywood heartbreaker types. Transforming Joey into a gorgeous, unobtainable hunk would be payback worthy of Troy’s poison pen. It’s a brilliant way to get back at Joey’s image-obsessed ex-boyfriend and the movie producer who’s mutilating Troy’s novels.

What begins as simple revenge may tangle them together in something far more complicated. Living well may be the best revenge, but Troy and Joey could rewrite that to loving well.

Excerpt

The Nichols’ dining room table could easily seat six people if it weren’t covered with business records, homework, and car parts. Instead of clearing it off, the family assembled in the living room, parents on the couch, Joey and his sisters on the floor. Overloaded plates balanced on each lap.

“Hush, it’s starting,” Joey’s mom warned, mostly to thirteen-year-old Stacey.

“Oops! Gotta go!” Stacey disconnected her call and dropped her phone onto the floor.

Joey and Jackie were quiet already, Joey afraid he’d miss something important if he so much as blinked.

Ten years separated him and his twin from Stacey. Mom often joked that it had taken her that long to forget the horrors of giving birth enough to try again.

Dad blamed his cousin’s homebrew.

“Good evening, I’m Evelyn Hugh. Welcome to Hollywood Seen. Tonight’s hottie, err, I mean, hot story”—the show’s hostess began, grin unapologetic—“is a young man who’s got all of Hollywood talking. Riker Sanderson has what it takes to survive in this town: looks, talent, and a legion of screaming fans.”

On cue, the camera focused on the audience, where the legion, mostly young and female, chanted, “Riker! Riker!”

“Sorry to disappoint you girls. Rumor has it that Mr. Sanderson is taken.” Evelyn pouted for the camera. “Or is he? Joining me tonight is none other than Riker Sanderson, star of the action thriller, Something to Die For.”

Taken? Joey swallowed hard. Surely she couldn’t mean…

The camera zoomed out, showing the beautiful man who’d stolen his heart and who’d shared his apartment up until a few months ago. Riker, more muscled thanks to a heavy training routine for the movie, sported gold highlights in his now much shorter hair. He looked downright sinful in tight-fitting T-shirt and jeans.

Joey idly toyed with the silver band on his middle finger, a nervous habit, before noticing its mate missing from Riker’s hand. Maybe he’d taken it off for the movie. It didn’t mean anything. No, nothing at all.

All worries disappeared when Riker slowly raised a simmering gaze to the camera. Something clenched deep in Joey’s insides. Those dark eyes hypnotized him, even if they were on a TV screen and not actually in the room. Bedroom eyes intense enough to cause instant paralysis. How many times had Joey lost himself in them, lying in a sweaty, satisfied tangle with Riker?

“Thank you for joining us,” the bleached-blonde hostess gushed, a woman Big Joe said gave him gout.

“Why does she do that to her hair?” Mom asked. “She’s ruined it.” She added the tried and true statement guaranteed to grant forgiveness for any unkindness spoken by a Southerner: “Bless her heart.”

With her whiney voice and constant fawning, Evelyn Hugh reminded Joey of one of the teenaged fans. “I can call you Riker, can’t I?”

“Sure, if I can call you Evelyn.” Her ordinary name sounded exotic when spoken in Riker’s deep tones. That was his gift. He could make anyone feel like the most important person on the planet just by talking to them. Joey had warmed himself by Riker’s fire on many a cold winter’s night.

“I loved you in the romantic comedy, Trying the Knot, filmed in your home state of Georgia. Although only a minor supporting role, your portrayal of the obnoxious cousin at the wedding turned out to be a real scene-stealer and resulted in your big break, didn’t it?”

Riker hadn’t really wanted the cousin role that required him to wear a fat suit and play a backwoods redneck, even if he’d had to beat out a lot of other hopefuls for the part.

“Well, Evelyn,”—Riker turned puppy dog eyes on the hostess—“I’d originally auditioned for the role of Chuck.”

“The pain-in-the-ass playboy who seduced several bridesmaids? Oh, you’re too sweet to play such a cad.”

“You’re too kind.”

A better-known actor had won the honors of playing asshole Chuck. Riker had stormed around the apartment for days.

Riker smiled like he’d hit the jackpot by missing the role. “Actually, I found the cousin part more intriguing. I mean, it stretched my acting skills to play someone so unlike myself.”

“Oh, please, I’m trying to eat here,” Jackie spat.

Joey flashed her a quick evil eye and went back to watching TV.

What a tantrum Riker had thrown about “playing a hick nobody.” In the end he took the money, and assurances from his agent of appearing with a few big stars being a good career move and a way to get noticed.

But he’d done the part enough justice to bring Hollywood knocking.

“What an amazing experience,” the man of Joey’s dreams replied, though that’s not what he’d called it to friends. “It really helped me grow as an actor.” He’d privately referred to the part as beneath someone of his talent and his own personal hell.

“What’s it like working with powerhouse actress Clair Clancy?”

Joey lost the battle to keep a straight face. He’d gotten more earfuls about “Clair, the air-headed bitch.” She’d only spoken to Riker twice during filming when their roles overlapped.

Onscreen, Riker described her as, “An amazing actress. A true professional.” He waved at the camera. “Congrats on the birth of your little girl, Clair. You’ll be an amazing mother.” This from the man who’d wanted to pass a law making it illegal for the woman to breed. Wow, what a good actor. For a moment even Joey believed him.

“In a real-life Cinderella story, a relatively unknown actor is chosen for the lead role of Mitchell Keller in the biggest film of the year. How’s that working out for you?” Evelyn leaned her head on Riker’s shoulder, eyeing him through batting lashes. How dare she? She needed to back off.

A punch to the shoulder brought Joey back to reality, breathing hard and fingernails digging into the palms of his clenched fists.

“She does that with everybody,” Jackie murmured. “What’s your problem, anyway?”

Joey took a deep breath and let it out slowly, a flush creeping up his cheeks.

After what could have been two years, or more probably, two seconds, Riker answered, “It’s really amazing.”

“Doesn’t he know any adjectives besides amazing?” Stacey cut in. “I mean, really! He’s an actor, he’s supposed to be good with words.” Oops, the last holdout in the family swayed to the “We don’t like Riker” side.

Joey ignored her. He’d show them. Soon he’d be living the good life, basking in the California sun. He and Riker had even talked about getting married.

“…and my producer, Ian Hagan, is amazing,” Riker was saying.

Stacey made an “I told you so” face.

Their mother swatted her arm, nipping in the bud whatever sarcastic remark she’d been about to sling.

Riker plowed on. “He took a huge chance in hiring an unknown for such a major role, and I’m grateful he believes in me. I’ve done everything I can to make sure he doesn’t regret taking a risk. We’ve wrapped up the final scenes. Now it’s in post-production, where they’ll add the Hollywood magic.”

What? Riker said a few hours ago that they were still shooting. Well, maybe they had to reshoot some parts.

“Oh, that’s fabulous.” Evelyn’s fake smile lost its battle to look sincere.

Joey knew how she felt. The standing local rule: Never mention acting around Riker unless you had a least an hour and didn’t mind listening. Folks in town phrased their words very carefully.

“Now, Riker, I know you’ve heard the rumors and seen the pictures posted on the Internet of yourself with someone who is apparently very close to you.”

Joey’s heart pounded and his ears rang. Rumors? Pictures? He peeped over at Jackie, who sat up straighter and put her plate down on the floor.

The smile fled Riker’s face, and he wore the same pleading expression he’d used to get out of cooking. “Yes, I have. For the record, I’d like to state that my personal life isn’t anyone else’s business.”

Oh, shit! What had they found out?

“Breathe, Joey,” Jackie urged.

No matter how he tried, Joey couldn’t, because Evelyn dropped a bomb. “Are you gay?”

Oh, my God! They’d been careful since Riker signed the movie deal. How had anyone suspected? Sure, in a few months maybe, when they were ready. Not now!

Jackie stiffened and Joey held his breath.

“Yes, Evelyn, I am.” Riker sighed, his anguished eyes filling with tears. Joey had never seen anyone who could cry on demand quite so convincingly, not even Stacey. “I’m not ashamed of being a gay American, and I don’t see how my orientation has any bearing on my acting ability.”

“I knew it!” Stacey shrieked. Jackie shushed her. Joey ignored her again.

Evelyn scented blood and went for the throat—her trademark. “The man shown with you in the pictures, is he your boyfriend?”

Man in the pictures? Boyfriend? Surely it couldn’t be… Who the hell were they talking about? If it wouldn’t have given too much away, Joey would have made a mad dash to his parent’s aging computer to find out. Evelyn Hugh moved much too slowly. Stomach too queasy to eat, Joey plopped his uneaten meal down on the coffee table.

Riker sat quietly gazing into the camera and Joey almost heard the wheels turning under that mop of highlighted hair. Finally, his lover became his ex-lover with the casually spoken, “I guess you could say we were in a relationship at the time. Nothing serious. We’ve decided to cool things down while I focus on my career.”

What!? Nothing really serious?! Joey gaped at the screen, a flash fire creeping up his cheeks all the way to his ears. Did Riker mean him? A boulder formed in his throat.

They’d talked about forever. He gasped for breath, unable to turn away from the train wreck of his life unfolding on national television.

“Yes, it’s true.” Riker used the same sorrowful tone the hick cousin had during a big scene in Trying the Knot. “I mean, he’s back home, I’m here. It wouldn’t work out.”

Jackie might have snapped, “Oh, cry me a river!” Joey was too caught up in his own personal drama to know for sure.

He knows I’m watching! He knows I’m seeing this! Why is he coming out now? Why couldn’t he tell the nosy woman it’s none of her damned business?

Riker focused directly on the camera, as if seeking Joey out. “Yeah, we kind of grew out of each other. It’s time to move on.”

“I certainly appreciate your candor, and I’m sure there’s plenty of people around town willing to keep you company.” Evelyn sat up, patting at her hair. “We all look forward to your upcoming movie. It’s sure to be a blockbuster. Thank you for joining us.”

Joey dared not dart out of the room like he wanted to and give too much away. At the moment the family only knew that he’d had a gay roommate. Should he act surprised?

The camera left Riker and zoomed in on the hostess. Joey saw her through a glaze of tears and fears. “Remember that you heard it first on Hollywood Seen.” Her goofy grin dimmed a few watts. “Now, here’s another Hollywood Seen exclusive, the photographs that started it all. Last month they began circling the Internet. Until tonight, spokesmen for Mr. Sanderson firmly denied their authenticity. A pity, really. They made such a handsome couple, don’t you agree?”

Joey’s reality crumbled, replaced by a nightmare. The TV screen filled completely with an image of Riker and himself dancing at the club in Atlanta, Riker’s leg wedged between Joey’s, Joey’s mouth locked to his lover’s neck and his crotch pressed against Riker’s denim-covered thigh.

Oh dear God! He looked like a humping vampire!

The image lasted forever. Enough already, take it down! He’d been stripped naked. Laid bare, all his deepest, darkest secrets exposed.

Calm down, no one can tell it’s you. Maybe they’ll think it’s someone out in Hollywood. That hope dashed to pieces with another picture, probably taken shortly after the first. In it, Joey and Riker both faced the camera. The hostess delivered the killing blow. “Our sources tell us that the man in the picture with Riker Sanderson is Joseph Nichols, Jr., with whom Riker lived in Georgia before moving to California.”

Joey fumbled his cell phone out of his pocket and barely managed to hit the right number. Instead of one of the ever-changing heavy-metal ringtones Riker used, a recorded message stated flatly, “The number you have dialed has been disconnected…”

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Settling the Score SquareMeet the Author

Author AvatarYou will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written sixteen m/m romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

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One lucky winner will win an ebook copy of Settling the Score and an ebook copy of Diversion.

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Enjoy A Coffee Sip and Book Break with Choices by Stevie Woods (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Choices

Author: Stevie Woods

Publisher: Torquere Press

Release Date: September 31, 2016

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 15,600 Words

Genre: Romance, Contemporary Romance, Erotic-Romance, Gay Romance

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Synopsis

Best friends since kindergarten, Ben and James are separated after college graduation by their different choices. Ben stays in their small hometown while James heads off to New York with dreams of money and success. Ben works to make his life follow the path he wants, and dreams of the day when James realizes he made a mistake and comes back home.

Each man promises to stay in touch, but this falls by the wayside as James’ life in the big city takes off, leaving Ben yearning for a dream that gradually fades as the years pass.

In New York, James finds that not all dreams are worth the cost of a wrong choice.

(Previously published by Amber Quill Press.)

Excerpt

When Ben had written to tell James of his success and pleasure in his new work, James had responded positively, but still wondered why Ben “didn’t really give it a go and study architecture” before going on to tell Ben about the lovely new end table he’d bought for his apartment.

“He still after you to take that architecture course?”

Ben jerked in surprise. He hadn’t heard Suzie come in, but shouldn’t have been surprised at her reading over his shoulder. Suzie was still very much a handful as always. It was no wonder he loved her so much.

“Don’t you know how rude that is?” He ought to try to teach her some manners.

“You should take it to your room if it’s private,” she said, grabbing some orange juice from the fridge. “Anyhow, did he?”

Ben sighed. “Yeah. He’s doing so well, he thinks I’m missing out.”

“Each to his own. You know how much I think of James, but he sure is blinkered about you.”

Ben glanced at his sister, wondering if he was just being too sensitive or if she really had guessed how he felt about James. He’d been thinking of telling his parents the truth about his leanings, but hadn’t managed it yet. It was with a sense of relief he heard Suzie add, “Thinks everyone wants to be just like him.”

“Go on; get busy with your homework.”

She stuck her tongue out at him, but left the kitchen, and after he heard her thump her way upstairs, Ben re-read the letter.

It went on that way for some time, and Ben allowed James to dominate their correspondence with news of his work and home life, the new friends he’d made and his varied social life. Gradually, however, James’ letters became less frequent, sliding to one every fortnight and then monthly, until finally they were sporadic and Ben received the last one from him about twenty months after James had left.

For about six months after that Ben continued to write about once a month with news of his family and information about Ben’s own version of success, but he finally accepted defeat when James never responded to any of them. Not even the last one where Ben had given James a kind of ultimatum: respond to tell me you want me to keep in touch or I’ll assume you wish me to stop writing to you.

Disappointment wasn’t a strong enough a word to describe how Ben felt about James’ abandonment of his past connections. He refused to consider that James had discarded him; that was just too hard to bear. He couldn’t help but think James’ new life must be everything he ever wanted, everything he dreamed of, and his hometown friends were a memory he preferred to leave behind. Sadly, Ben acknowledged the odds were that a person as wonderful as James had found that someone special and old friends—even best friends like him—were superfluous.

As much as he disliked it, Ben considered trying to email James, though if James had wanted to keep in touch he could easily have gone that route himself, but James hadn’t bothered. It seemed James wanted to let the contact fade.

For a moment, Ben considered going to New York and visiting James to see for himself just how his friend was faring in his new life, but he soon dismissed the idea. It was doubtful Ben’s unexpected arrival would be welcome. Ben would probably talk too much anyway, tell James more than he wanted to hear and more than Ben could afford to reveal. Though part of Ben thought that surely James knew how he really felt about him. Ben wasn’t too good at keeping his feelings under wraps. He’d believed, too, that James shared his attachment, but that James just wasn’t ready at the time. Perhaps one day…

The day James had left for New York, Ben had told him that he had his own dream to follow. Maybe it was time to stop living his life as an extension of James Lilley and concentrate on making more of himself. Then, when the day came that James finally did come home, he would find a new, improved Benjamin Short waiting for him.

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Meet the Author

STEVIE WOODS is a Brit living in the Northwest of England who has left her day job behind – though it’s a quandary that there still doesn’t seem to be much more free time in her day!

A long time avid reader of romance with a dash of adventure, Stevie only stumbled over ‘slash’ pairings a few years ago and was an immediate convert. Having dabbled with writing on and off for years, it wasn’t long before Stevie was tapping away on the keyboard inventing stories around two hot guys, gaining her first publication in the summer of 2007.

Stevie likes reading stories with a good strong plot and believable characters and does her best to create them in her own work.

Stevie has a soft spot for Historical settings but also thoroughly enjoys SF and Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary, finding the similarities as intriguing as the differences. Stevie already has a variety of novels, novellas and short stories released by MLR Press, Phaze Books and Torquere Press.

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Get Up Close With Author and Narrator Brad Vance on ‘Given The Circumstances’ Audiobook Release (author interview and excerpt)

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Title:  Given the Circumstances by Brad Vance
Narrator: Brad Vance
Publisher:  AuthorsRepublic
Release Date: July 13, 2016

Length: 03 Hours 30 Minutes
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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words was lucky to have Brad Vance here today to share his thoughts about his latest novel now out as an audiobook and his part as its narrator and author.  Welcome, Brad. So, lets get into it.

  •  As an author, how does it feel to not only be your own narrator but hear your book when the audio version is released?  Are you surprised? Are there any differences in the way you imagined it would sound?

It’s always weird at first to hear a recorded version of your own voice. I was originally horrified when the first audiobook, A Little Too Broken, came out, and I listened to the Audible/Amazon samples. “Oh my God that sounds terrible! I put out a terrible audiobook!” Only after I listened to the sample on iTunes, which was much higher quality, and bought the official product, did I realize that Amazon skimps on the web page sample quality, so that’s why it sounded so terrible. Definitely put a scare in me, though!

  •  When writing a story that covers so many subjects, a man questioning his sexuality, coming out of the closet, substance abuse, and combine that with a burgeoning romance and professional sports…well, how do you keep it from getting out of balance?  Not one or the other overwhelming your main storyline?

It’s tough. I always start with an outline. I’m totally dependent on the Seven Point Story Structure format to start – I get the bones of the whole book out there first. But, as most writers learn, your story and your characters change on you as you write, so the outline has to be rewritten on the fly, to include the arc changes you find yourself making.

The pro sports part is a big balance issue. I do a lot of research for my books, and I want my readers to feel like they’re really living the lives of my characters. And I just don’t see the point of giving someone a job like quarterback or outfielder, and then not painting that part of their lives. Playing pro sports are these guys’ lifelong dreams, and you’re cheating the reader out of some part of their identity if you just say, “he’s a football player, isn’t that hot, now let’s never discuss football again.”

On the other hand, there’s the risk of turning off readers who don’t understand the sports or aren’t interested. I don’t get great international sales on Given the Circumstances because American football and baseball are mysteries to most readers outside the US. So if I have a color commentary on an entire football game, it’s necessary as a plot point, but it’s a risk because it can push readers out of the story who know nothing about I formations, roll outs, pockets etc.

  •  When writing such stories, are you pulled emotionally into your storyline?

Oh yeah. Pretty much everything my characters feel is something I’ve felt. If I hadn’t, then there’d be no emotional impact – it would just be schmaltz, a Lifetime movie. Even more so when I narrate them – I found myself bursting into tears more than a couple times during both books. I always knew when I was writing, for instance, the parts about Brian and his quest for a father figure, that I was expressing my own needs there, but…when you’re writing it’s a different headspace than when you’re vocalizing it. Really saying those things out loud had me in torrents sometimes. At first I would try and stop myself, Boys Don’t Cry and all that, but eventually I just gave in, got it out, let the tape roll, and fixed it later in editing and production. When Tom’s dad is crying in the big finish to A Little Too Broken? That’s not acting! That’s me crying like a baby.

  • What comes first?  Your characters or your plot?

I’d say concept comes first. Given the Circumstances came about when pro baseball player Ryan Braun was caught using performance enhancing drugs, and there was a bunch of stuff in the news about how it had maybe destroyed his deep friendship with quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who’s Mr. Straight Arrow and had no idea. And some Beavis and Butthead part of me said, “Heh. What if they were gay lovers. Heh.” And it’s crazy shit like that sometimes that makes the gong ring in your head, and this gate opens up, and all the rest comes rushing out. What if they were! And I was off to the races.

At first it was just going to be a thinly disguised erotica story. I had no plans to make it a novel. But then I wrote the first scene and…there they were! Real people! And all the stuff in the book starting coming to me, the father figure stuff, the search for an escape and an edge in life vs. the dogged determination and self reliance (the whole “Marshmallow Test” theme), homophobia in such homoerotic sports, etc. That’s when I set up the outline and started designing it as a novel.

  • How much of yourself, if any, crops up in your characters? 

A lot, depending on the book. Jamie in A Little Too Broken has a lot of me, and Dane in Apollo’s Curse basically is me (minus 20 years!). But every character has reactions and emotions that I’ve had. Dex in Have a Little Faith in Me is closeted, which I’ve never been, but I’ve had his moments of rage and frustration, the sense of being locked out of some wonderful fun that everyone else is having but you, and I work all that into my people.

  •  Some of Given the Circumstances occurs when the characters are in school, looking back, what advice would you give yourself at an earlier age?

I wrote about that in Would I Lie to You, where Jesse asks Marc, if you could go back in time, what would you do differently? And Marc says, it’s Catch-22. If I went back and changed something, then the person I became instead would have a different regret, and he’d be sitting here wishing he could go back and change something else. I don’t know that with my biology, my upbringing, my temperament, that there’s anything I could have said to Mini-Me that he would have listened to a word of it.

  •  What’s your favorite genre (s) to read?  As a child, as a teenager and now as an adult?

As a kid it was science fiction. I still read it sometimes, but not as ravenously. Now it’s mostly history. I love to read about places and people I know nothing about, and a really good narrative history writer is better than most novelists these days.

  •   What’s next for Brad Vance?

More audiobooks! Apollo’s Curse is in production now, and I’ve listed myself on ACX as a professional narrator, so we’ll see how that goes. I plan on turning my whole backlist into audio eventually.

I’m also doing professional editing work now for other selfpub authors. Can I plug that here? https://bradvanceauthor.com/brad-vance-editorial-services/

It’s harder and harder every day for authors to make a living just writing, so I’m expanding into these directions as well. If I can’t be a full time writer, then the goal is to stay employed as a “creative” in other capacities, and never have to go back to Cubicle City!

Thank you, Brad.  I can’t tell you how much I’ve enjoyed this interview.  Now more about Brad’s latest audiobook, Given the Circumstances.

Given the Circumstances Square

Synopsis

Two promising college athletes meet, each needing something only the other can give him…

When Roger and Brian lock eyes on the first day of school, a friendship is born. Both men are hungry for connection – Brian needs the acceptance, encouragement and support he never had growing up, and when he finds out his new best friend is gay, it brings his own sexual identity into question. Roger needs a big brother, a best friend, but that will never be enough, especially not when he’s this close to big, strong, handsome Brian.

And both men want something more – careers as professional athletes. For Roger, the demands of the closet, the need to reject the love of a man to fulfill his love of the game, will be a crushing burden. For Brian, his downfall will be the substances he uses to get an edge over the competition, and to suppress his gnawing self-doubt and guilt.

One set of desires will bring them together, the other will force them apart…

Genre: Romance
Sub-Genre
: Sports Romance, New Adult
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male

 

Excerpt

Just give me another minute, Brian appealed. But his feet didn’t listen, they kept propelling him forward, and his hand went to the door handle. I’m not ready.

It didn’t matter, he knew. He was here, the die was cast, as Caesar had said. He opened the door and walked in.

Look at them, he told himself. Brainiacs. What are you doing here? It was Cal State Berkeley, man. Not Party Hearty State College, where he maybe, probably, should have gone. It wasn’t Lessing College, where he’d at least been able to keep his scholastic head above water.

He had a year of sitting out ahead of him, a year in academia alone for the first time in his life. Fucking insane stupid NCAA transfer rules that deny an athlete a whole year in his prime, for what? To keep you chained to the wheel, for the benefit of the schools and the coaches and the boosters, never the student, no matter what claptrap they spouted about academic excellence, stay the course, blah blah blah.

There was nobody with a hand on his shoulder, nobody to whisper, “You belong here.” He was on a baseball scholarship, or would be next year. This year he was here on a boatload of student loans. And like anyone else in his situation, who’d made a huge change and realized it couldn’t be unchanged, his blood had gone ice cold and he’d thought, What have I done?

Everyone in the classroom was in their own little world, not even looking up at the new guy. Nobody looks at anybody, he thought, anywhere ever. Trying to make eye contact with people on campus was like a contact sport where the goal was to avoid contact. Some people were oblivious, in their own world. Some people were shy, some people were assholes. But almost nobody wanted to look at you, just nod, and smile, and say “Hey.” To just be…civilized. They acted like you were going to ask them for spare change, or beg them to join your cult. It was the first time in his life he’d been somewhere he didn’t know anyone. And it sucked.

But one guy in the classroom looked at him right away. A fellow jock, no doubt – another guy always watching patterns, movements, making sure no detail of the action escaped his attention.

The guy nodded, Brian nodded back. The desk on his left was empty, and Brian took it. Something tense unknotted inside him, now that he’d finally had his first friendly moment of the day, of his new life. It was something he’d needed like a glass of water.

“Hey, I’m Roger,” the dude said, offering his hand. He looked familiar to Brian, with his dark hair and big blue eyes, the ultra-white sclera of a clean-living man, and the pale skin of someone who either spent this last summer indoors or had sensitive skin. He looked to be just short of Brian’s own height of six foot four, but not as beefy as Brian. He had a firm grip, and a big hand. A really big hand. Meaty and work-toughened, like his own. Football, Brian thought. Was he a wide receiver? I feel like I should know who he is…

“I’m Brian.” Roger looked at Brian, at his serious handsome face, tanned from the summer he’d spent outdoors without any of the sunscreen Roger applied rigorously. He took in Brian’s dark hair and dark eyes, and felt his grip match Roger’s own.

Put it back, Roger told himself. But “it” was out – he was young and horny and this guy was…hot. He’s a big bastard, he’s got to be 240 at least. All muscle, heroic shoulders and chest. Rolling on top of you, wrestling with you, pinning you down, one of the one tenth of one percent of guys in the world who are bigger than you, who can do that, who can win that fight, the fight you’d put up to make him prove his worth, all the while wanting to lose, refusing to lose, thrilled to lose…

And then what? he said, discipline kicking in like it did every time now, every time he met a hot guy. Walk it forward. Let’s say he’s gay, and you fall in love, and then you’re a couple, and then everyone knows you’re gay, and that’s it for your NFL dreams, buddy.

No. He’d put too much into it for too long, to lose it in exchange for a couple quick spurts. Nobody knows who you’re thinking about when you jerk off, he thought. That’s all you get for the next ten years. Just…remember him. And use this tonight.

Dude is intense, Brian thought, feeling the force of Roger’s gaze.

Then there was no more time for conversation, as the professor dashed in the door, hair and papers flying behind him. “Good morning. As they say on the plane, our destination today is the Italian Renaissance. If that is not your destination, you’re on the wrong flight.”

That broke the first class tension, the tension when you didn’t know if the professor was going to be a flake, or an asshole, or an idiot, or a bore.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Brad Vance writes gay romance, erotica and paranormal stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.”

Email: BradVanceErotica@gmail.com
Website: http://www.BradVanceErotica.wordpress.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/brad.vance.10

Tour Schedule

Aug 1 – Erotica For All
Aug 2 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Minds
Aug 3 – Diverse Reader
Aug 4 – Blog of Andrew Grey
Aug 5 – BFD Book Blog

Aug 8 – Cryselle’s Bookshelf
Aug 9 – Dean Frech
Aug 9 – Gay Book Reviews
Aug 10 – Dog-eared Daydreams
Aug 10 – Alpha Book Club
Aug 11 – Bayou Book Junkie
Aug 12 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

 

Love A Shifter Romance? Check Out ‘Another Secret’ by Stevie Woods (Book Blitz and Giveaway

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Title:  Another Secret

Author: Stevie Woods

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Release Date:  8/3/16

Heat Level: 5

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 14,350 words

Genre:Gay Romance, Erotic Romance, Paranormal Romance

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Synopsis

After yet another bad dream, Leland accepts he can no longer keep his secret; the time had come to confess all to his best friend, Drew. He sets out early in the morning, determined yet fearful of Drew’s reaction to what he must tell him. Leland has loved Drew ever since they were teenagers and together they experimented with their sexuality, but Drew has only ever been his best friend. He dreads maybe even losing that when Drew learns the truth.

However, when halfway through the forest to Drew’s home, Leland is forced to take cover when he sees a large grey wolf tailing another man. His concern turns to shock when the man abruptly shifts to become a wolf and attacks the grey wolf.

The fight is swift and bloody and ends when the man-wolf runs off. Leland gets his second shock of the morning when the grey wolf abruptly shifts to become human. To become Drew. Too surprised to do more than watch as his now very naked best friend rushes off, Leland is in for yet another surprise when he finally confronts Drew later that morning.

Excerpt

Perhaps fate had decided enough was enough and given him that proverbial kick up the backside, letting him know it was time to tell Drew everything. He sighed. It was the last thing he wanted, but the time had come; he could put it off no longer.

He was just about to step out into a small clearing when he saw it—a large grey wolf, so dark as to be almost black. It was a beautiful specimen. Leland kept very still, not wanting to draw the animal’s attention. It looked as if the wolf was already trailing something by the way it was behaving. Even as he watched, the wolf sniffed the air and quickened its pace. Apparently, it had found its prey. As Leland slipped back behind the tree, shock slid through him as he spied the wolf’s target. It was a man.

Leland was of two minds what to do. His immediate reaction was to shout a warning, but that could induce the wolf to attack sooner. Cursing himself for being a fool, Leland ran as quietly and swiftly as he could around the clearing toward the unsuspecting victim. Sliding to a halt behind a large tree, Leland saw the wolf lowering itself, as if getting set to spring. Leland opened his mouth to yell a warning, but the man was not as unaware as Leland assumed. The man spun to face the wolf, snarling and growling as he tore the clothes from his body. Leland, his mouth still hanging open, watched in total shock.

Almost too fast for Leland to follow, the man’s form shifted and changed. From two feet, he dropped to all fours, fingers and toes becoming sharp claws. Pale skin sprouted dark brown fur as his face elongated and his teeth became sharp points frothed with saliva.

The two wolves leapt at each other, meeting mid-flight to clash and fall to the earth, landing on steady feet, teeth bared as they snarled at each other. They circled, gazes locked, until they charged again.

Leland gripped the tree so tightly the bark dug into his palms as he watched the two animals fight it out. He was battling the urge to run for safety, not sure if the wolves would break apart and come after him instead. His body was telling him to stay where he was, hopefully well and truly hidden, but his brain was debating how safe it would be when one of the animals won and sensed a new victim nearby. Even though he knew one of them was, in fact, a man who had changed—shifted?—into a wolf, Leland found it hard to think of it as anything but an animal. He certainly wasn’t behaving like a human as he bit and tore at the other wolf’s hide. Leland also wondered what sort of condition the man-wolf would be in, assuming he survived the fight. His body was already streaked with blood from the attack.

It appeared the two wolves were well matched; neither seemed able to gain the upper hand in the battle. The dark grey wolf suddenly leapt and landed hard on the man-wolf’s back and he let out a howl, which soon turned into a snarl as he fought his way from beneath the dark grey animal. With a snap of his jaws and a growl, the man-wolf turned and ran for the cover of the trees opposite where Leland was hiding. The dark grey wolf tensed, as if to follow, before it limped a few steps back, eyes constantly searching the surrounding trees to ensure the other wolf didn’t return. After a few minutes, the wolf sat on its haunches and began to lick at its wounds.

Leland allowed himself to relax a little, deciding it was best he stay where he was. He was pretty sure the wolf would sneak off to its den as soon as the animal felt secure enough to move on. He kept a close eye on it, not allowing his caution to slide, though after a minute or so, he did wonder if perhaps he was more shocked than he’d thought or if maybe he was more tired than he’d realized and his vision was affected. He couldn’t be seeing what he thought; he couldn’t!

But as he watched Drew Horton climb to his feet from where a second ago a dark grey wolf had sat, still rubbing at the long gash on his thigh, Leland could no longer refute what his eyes were showing him

Purchase

Torquere Press

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Meet the Author

STEVIE WOODS is a Brit living in the Northwest of England who has left her day job behind – though it’s a quandary that there still doesn’t seem to be much more free time in her day!

A long time avid reader of romance with a dash of adventure, Stevie only stumbled over ‘slash’ pairings a few years ago and was an immediate convert. Having dabbled with writing on and off for years, it wasn’t long before Stevie was tapping away on the keyboard inventing stories around two hot guys, gaining her first publication in the summer of 2007.

Stevie likes reading stories with a good strong plot and believable characters and does her best to create them in her own work.

Stevie has a soft spot for Historical settings but also thoroughly enjoys SF and Fantasy, Paranormal and Contemporary, finding the similarities as intriguing as the differences. Stevie already has a variety of novels, novellas and short stories released by Phaze Books, MLR Press and Torquere Press.

Stevie is happy to hear from her readers via her website: http://www.steviewoods.com

She can also be reached via:

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win an eBook copy of Another Secret.

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Love Can Throw You Surprises. Join Harper Miller on the Complexity Tour and Giveaway

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Title:  Complexity

Author: Harper Miller

Series Title and Number: The Kinky Connect Chronicles Book 4.

Publisher:  Self-Published

Cover Artist: Taria Reed Digital Artist

Release Date:  July 8, 2016

Heat Level: 5

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: Novella

Genre/Tags: Kink, Erotic Romance, Bisexual Romance, Multi-Cultural, M/M Romance, Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

Fairy tale endings weren’t made for people like me. Happy for now usually ain’t in the cards, either.

The dents on my wall from where my headboard kept knockin’ against the same spot was the first clue that I needed to calm my ass down. At the rate I was racking up notches and plowing through hookups, I wasn’t ever gonna find nothing real. Guess I kinda jinxed myself. I created my circumstances. You can’t get what you want if you keep falling back into the same pattern of bad habits. But then things changed. I stumbled onto somethin’ I never in a million years expected to happen. You gotta understand, I’m never the guy who wins. It was supposed to be just sex, but that shifty, rhyming and scheming bastard, Cupid, pulled a fast one.

I may have changed some stuff to protect a couple of people. But before you go believing the tabloids, make sure you understand that you’re gettin’ the lowdown straight from the source.

I needed to get this off my chest and it’s only fair that you at least get my side of it all. At some point, I might regret telling you any of this, but for now, you need to know.

*Disclaimer* This is a novella. Not a short story, novelette, or novel. This tale features an M/M pairing. If gay erotica/erotic romance is not your cup of tea and you are offended by same-sex relationships or crass language, you should bypass this story. Content is intended for a mature audience, 18+.

Complexity is the fourth installment in The Kinky Connect Chronicles. The Kinky Connect Chronicles are short erotic stories/novelettes all wrapped up in neat little bows. These stories are standalones. No cliffhangers in the lot!

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Excerpt

“Ain’t no easy way to say this, so I’m just gonna say it. You can ask me whatever you want after. Cool?”

Marisol looks up from the phone, and Juan shifts her on his lap, asking, “What’s up, Emmanuel?”

I take a deep breath and let ’er rip.

“I wasn’t seeing a girl, a woman. I was um . . . dating a guy. His name is Chris. I’m bisexual, and we were involved for a bit before things got too serious and I . . . we . . . called it off.”

Both Marisol and Juan stare at me, stunned. Juan’s mouth is parted in an O, but he quickly closes it.

He scratches the back of his head with this goofy-ass look on his face, and Marisol looks down at the tablecloth, her cheeks flushing. Moms and Lucia are quiet.

“Now’s the time to speak up if you got some shit to say, Juan. Let it out.”

Moms frowns at me. She hates when I curse.

“I-I had no idea you were gay, um, bi.”

“Not something I go around shouting since who I fu . . . uh, have sex with is nobody’s business.”

“Moms, you and Titi Lucia are quiet. Too quiet. You knew?” he asks.

Moms nods at Juan. “Sí.”

My mother grabs my brother’s hand and gives it a little squeeze. “Juan, I love you both no matter what. Manny is an adult and he’s living his life. He knows I care about him protecting himself and being safe more than anything. Doesn’t matter if he’s with a woman or a man. A mi no me corresponde, ni es mi derecho, juzgar a alguien a base de su orientación sexual.”

Moms is saying that judging me, or anybody, on the grounds of their sexual orientation isn’t her business nor her right. I’ve never loved my mother more than I do in this moment. She let everyone in the room know that her job is to love me, and never judge. Moms displayed exactly what unconditional love is.

Titi Lucia chimes in, “He’s your brother. Nothing about him has changed. He’s the same guy you grew up with. The one who made you breakfast, helped you with your homework when your mother was working, washed your pissy sheets when you wet the bed, taught you how to fight and how to shoot a basketball. He was the father you should’ve had if yours wasn’t a deadbeat loser. Manny loves you no matter what, and you’d better feel the same, Juan.” Lucia’s voice is threatening as she wags a finger at my brother.

“Okay, okay, let’s chill out and let Juan process this for a sec. We cool or what?” I ask, staring at him. Marisol lifts off his lap and excuses herself. Lucia follows her and Moms takes a seat at the table.

Purchase

Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Meet the Author

Harper Miller is a thirty-something native New Yorker. She’s traveled the world and lived in a variety of places but always finds her way back to the Big Apple. A lackluster love life leaves time to explore new interests, for Harper it is writing. The Sweetest Taboo: An Unconventional Romance is her debut novel. In her mind, the perfect Alpha male possesses intellect, humor, and a kinky streak that rivals the size of California.

When she isn’t writing, Harper utilizes her graduate degree in the field of medical research. She enjoys fitness-related activities, drinking copious amounts of wine and going on bad dates.

I love hearing from readers! Follow me on social media to stay connected.

Email ➝ authorharpermiller@gmail.com
Twitter ➝ @authorharpmill
Facebook ➝ http://www.facebook.com/authorharpermiller
Goodreads ➝ http://www.goodreads.com/authorharpmill
Google+➝ http://plus.google.com/+HarperMillerAuthor/
Instagram ➝ http://www.instagram.com/authorharpermiller/
Newsletter Sign Up ➝ http://ow.ly/cxdV300ddRh

Tour Stops

July 11 – Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter
July 12 – Cryselle’s Bookshelf
July 13 – Back Porch Reader
July 14 – Prism Book Alliance
July 14 – 3 Chicks After Dark
July 15 – Gay Guy Reading
July 16 – Love Bytes Reviews
July 17 – Dirk Greyson’s Blog
July 18 – Romance in Color
July 19 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
July 20 – Andrew Grey’s Blog
July 21 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Minds
July 22 – Attention is Arbitrary
July 23 – Alpha Book Club
July 24 – Bayou Book Junkie

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Prize: One winner will be selected to win eBook copies of Kinky Connect Chronicles series and an Amazon gift card.

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Love a Shifter Romance? Don’t Miss Out on DC Juris’ Alpha’s Redemption Book Blitz and Giveaway

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Author:  DC Juris

Title:  Alpha’s Redemption

Series Title and Number: Alpha/omega Verse #3

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kristin Norris

Release Date:  July 27 2016

Heat Level: 5

Pairing: male/male alien

Length: 17,651

Genre:Gay Romance, Science Fiction, Alternate Universe, Aliens

Alpha's Redemption Cover

Synopsis

Tondreau has spent the last four years helping raise Cadajen’s terminally ill daughter, Linea. Though not mates, they’ve carved out a happy life with each other. It all comes crashing down when Linea’s health takes a turn for the worst. Together, they must face the hardest decision of their lives. Will it tear them apart? And can Tondreau put aside his fears and be the Alpha Cadajen needs him to be? .

Excerpt

Tondreau faced him, shaking his head. “You love her, and you show her that love every day, every chance you get.” He frowned, his brow furrowed. “Do you know how many of us walk through life without love? How many of us would give almost anything for four years of love?”

Cadajen had expected the first half of the statement. But the second half… “You’re not without love.”

Tondreau’s frown deepened and he shrugged. “I didn’t mean me, specifically.”

“But you’re not. You have to know that. Linea and I both love you. You must be able to smell it on us, at least.”

The Malorcian shuffled his papers, shoved them into his bag. “Should I bring home something for dinner, or did you have a plan?”

Cadajen couldn’t help but sigh and shake his head. “It never fails to amaze me.”

“What?”

“You Alphas. You’re supposed to be so strong and brave, but the simple things throw you.”

“Love isn’t simple,” Tondreau countered.

“It’s the simplest thing in the universe. It’s all the mating and linking that complicates it, but that’s on us. We scramble it up. You shouldn’t be afraid of love.”

“I’m not,” he refuted. “The scrambling it up part concerns me, though.”

“I don’t think we’d scramble it up.”

“There are things you don’t know about me.”

“Nothing that would change how I feel.”

Red shimmered faintly at the edges of Tondreau’s irises, his Alpha instincts responding to the words.

Cadajen reached out but stopped short, frowning at the material of Tondreau’s long sleeved coat. Wasn’t that just so metaphorical? There was always a barrier between them, wasn’t there? Not physical, like the clothing — they’d been naked with each other hundreds of times. He knew Tondreau’s body as well as he knew his own. But they’d never been bare together, had they? Well, Tondreau hadn’t. There was always something. Some deep dark secret Tondreau feared to reveal and it kept him just out of Cadajen’s reach.

He looked back up. The red was receding now. Cadajen wanted nothing more than to rip his glove off and press his hand to Tondreau’s skin, chase that fleeting emotion, catch it to him and hold it close. Prove himself worthy to Tondreau. Without truly thinking it through, he stepped forward into Tondreau’s space. They were close; close enough to feel the warmth of each other’s breath, the heat of each other’s bodies, and their lips… Cadajen leaned in a tiny bit closer and stopped when Tondreau tensed. He looked up then and his heart shuddered. “Am… am I wrong?”

Seconds ticked between them, the question hung in the air, and just when Cadajen was certain he’d made a mistake, Tondreau sighed softly. “You’re not wrong.”

Cadajen reached for him.

Tondreau stepped back. “We can’t.”

“Why?” Cadajen barely recognized the voice as his own as the word forced its way out his throat. He knew he sounded like a petulant child, but he couldn’t help it. His omega instincts screamed at him to make Tondreau understand, to beg if he had to. “You said I wasn’t wrong.”

“Daj…” Tondreau sighed again, heavy this time, and raked his fingers through his hair. “You’re not…”

“Don’t you dare say I’m not worthy.” Not that. Anything but that.

Tondreau’s eyes widened and the red threatened again. “I’d never say that. That’s not… It’s me who isn’t worthy. You don’t understand.”

“Then explain it to me,” he pleaded. “We’ve known each other for seven years. You’ve helped me raise my child. We practically live together. I love you. I’m in love with you. Don’t tell me you didn’t know. And don’t tell me you don’t feel the same. Don’t lie to me like that.”

“I’d never lie to you.” He opened his mouth to continue, but the alarm on his pager interrupted him. He glanced down at it.

Cadajen recognized the alert as the ‘if you don’t leave now, you’re really, really going to be late‘ tone. They’d set it up years ago, after Tondreau had lingered too long with Linea a few mornings in a row, and the Academy had slapped his wrists for it. He laid his gloved hand on Tondreau’s arm. “Go. It’s all right. But we’re going to finish this conversation. Promise me. You owe me an explanation.”

Tondreau nodded. He stepped close quickly, pressed a chaste kiss to Cadajen’s cheek, and fled, no doubt grateful for the reprieve.

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Alpha's Redemption SquareMeet the Author

Romance author, sci-fi fan club Captain, cosplayer, reigning Queen of Monkeyland, and random menace. Yep, we’re talking about DC Juris. She’s a cupcake-making, football-watching, rubber-duck-collecting, drag-show loving, full-of-fabulous-with-a-capital-F kinda gal. She’s also an ordained minister and an amateur photographer. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband, three dogs, and three cats. When she’s not writing, you can find her in her favorite chair watching Star Trek and Supernatural repeats on Netflix, or surfing the web for porn. Er…research. Surfing the web for research. She may speak softly but she lives and loves loudly. Just ask the neighbors. ::wink::

https://www.facebook.com/danielchristianjuris

www.twitter.com/dcjuris

@dcjuris on Instagram and Periscope

http://dcjuris.blogspot.com

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Jump Into the Fantasy World of Love and Magic by RE Andeen (Excerpt and Giveaway)

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Title:  Love and Magic

Author: RE Andeen

Publisher:  Torquere Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date:  7-27-2016

Heat Level: 2

Pairing: F/F

Length:: 10,000 words

Genre: Lesbian Romance, Multi-Cultural, Fantasy

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Synopsis

Kiv never expected to see a battle, let alone fight in one. She came to the island kingdom of Escot to use her magic to help people, not to kill them, but a petty, pointless civil war has made her job as Court Wizard difficult and then impossible. When the hostilities come to a head, Kiv finds herself on the battlefield, supporting one army against another.

On the other side, there is Tallas, a wizard more dangerous than three thousand swords and a woman more intriguing that than any Kiv has ever met. The battle will end in blood and death, as battles do, but for Tallas and Kiv, the end is only the beginning.

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Excerpt

Kiv woke with a start, wondering if she was dead. She cast about with her senses, both physical and magical, and decided she was alive after all. She was lying in a bed of golden wood on soft white cotton sheets under a green wool blanket. Overhead, she saw the silky blue canopy of a large tent, with the curtains on all four sides tied back to let in the morning sun, set in an open field without another structure in sight. The rain had finally stopped, though the sky was still gray.

She climbed out of bed, noticing that she was in nothing but her underthings, and looked for something to wear. Her clothes – long wool skirt, wide leather belt, white cotton blouse, and heavy wool cloak – were folded neatly on a table beside the bed, all the grime and gore of battle washed away, with her purple silk Court Wizard hood and her gnarled manzanita wand sitting next to the pile. She dressed and went looking for the kind soul who had taken care of her. Tallas – of course it was Tallas – was just outside the tent, her back to Kiv, cooking a skillet of something over a low fire that smelled amazing.

“Oh, good. You’re awake,” Tallas said, without turning around. “I trust you’re feeling alright. I checked you over myself last night, and I could find no injury or ailment beside exhaustion.”

Kiv walked over and sat on a rock next to the fire. “I’m fine,” she said. “I suppose I should thank you…”

“It was nothing,” Tallas said. “You’re a Wizard of the Guild, and we take care of our own.”

“I know,” Kiv replied, “but I’ve never had anything like yesterday happen to me before.”

“Haven’t you?” Tallas asked, looking up from the fire, and Kiv suddenly felt that those jet black eyes were boring a hole right through her. “I suppose you haven’t…”

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Meet the Author

RE Andeen is a writer, software developer, Klingonist, and general nerd. After a lifetime of immersion in science and technology, he discovered writing, quite by accident, in 2014. He lives in downtown Seattle.

Facebook: Eric Andeen (https://www.facebook.com/eric.andeen)
Facebook Author Page: RE Andeen (https://www.facebook.com/reandeen/)
Twitter: @REAndeen
Other: Personal webpage/blog (http://reandeen.com/)
Amazon: Author page (http://amazon.com/author/reandeen)

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