Release Tour for A World Apart by Mel Gough (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  A World Apart

Author: Mel Gough

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 18, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 51900

Genre: Contemporary, NineStar Press, LGBT, drugs, HIV, AIDS, TB, familial abuse. Bi, gay. alcoholism, hurt/comfort, law enforcement

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~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interview with Mel Gough ~

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

I like to write about medical issues, so I do a lot of research on that. I’ve got a basic understanding of medicine because I started a degree course in biomedical studies. I can usually pick out a topic I want to explore based on my previous knowledge, and then I go and read up on in in detail. Usually I use the internet, in particular to find out about medicines. I use places like WebMD, drugs.com and the NHS website. I like to write about people who are degree-educated, a little bit intellectual, and bookish. Though I step outside that comfort zone with relish: Donnie, in particular, is very much not like that, yet I still love writing him.

Because I prefer writing about Americans, there’s a very real ‘voice’ challenge. I try and watch TV programs and films that are set in the area of the US my stories are set. For ‘A World Apart’ it’s of course perfect that I’m rewatching The Walking Dead whenever I can! Right now I’m watching The Wire and Law & Order, because one of my characters in the book I’m writing is am NYPD cop originally from Baltimore.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

I don’t really like making up titles. I love the design process (basically me telling someone else what to do lol). And character names are fun. There are great tools to make silly names with.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

I tell people I write gay romance. If they want to hear more, then I don’t hold back. I’ve decided that I can talk openly about what kind of books I write since I’m very lucky to live in a very liberal, progressive place where LGBTQI issues are topics anyway. And I talk about fanfiction, too. The stigma has mostly disappeared over the last few years.

Synopsis

Ben Griers is the darling of Corinth Georgia’s Police Department—intelligent, handsome, and hardworking. Thanks to his beautiful wife and clever daughter, Ben’s family is the envy of the town. Yet desperate unhappiness is hiding just below the surface.

When Donnie Saunders, a deadbeat redneck with a temper, is brought to the Corinth PD as a suspect in a hit-and-run, Ben finds himself surprisingly intrigued by the man. He quickly establishes Donnie’s innocence but can’t shake the feeling that Donnie is hiding something. When they unexpectedly encounter each other again at an AA meeting in Atlanta, sparks begin to fly.

With his marriage on the verge of collapse, Ben is grateful for the other man’s affection. But he is soon struggling to help an increasingly vulnerable Donnie, while at the same time having to deal with the upheaval in his own life. Ben eventually realizes that they cannot achieve happiness together unless they confront their darkest secrets.

Excerpt

A World Apart
Mel Gough © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“What have we got, Lou?” Ben asked as he stepped up to the reception desk at Corinth Police Department. He glanced at a handcuffed man sitting on a nearby bench and staring determinately down at the scuffed linoleum floor. The man’s strawberry-blond hair was disheveled, falling low over his forehead and brushing his reddish eyelashes as his eyes flicked up nervously at Ben. He looked to be in his mid-thirties. One knee was jiggling nervously, and his jaw worked as if he was biting the inside of his mouth repeatedly.

“That guy was driving the vehicle involved in the hit-and-run yesterday,” Lou, the gray-haired desk clerk, said, jerking his thumb at the man on the bench. “Browne and O’Donnell brought him in. They’re with the captain.”

Just that moment, the door to the inner sanctum of the station opened, and Jason Browne strode out of Captain Buckley’s office. The sleeves of his uniform were rolled up as usual, to show off his muscular, tanned arms.

“How was court, brother?” Jason sounded cheerful, but his gray eyes were cold. In Ben’s partner and best friend since high school, that was never a good combination. Ben gave Jason a long look, then shrugged.

“As expected.” He didn’t want to think about the peculiar effect the defendant’s words had had on him, and he sure as hell wasn’t going to discuss it in front of a suspect, or Lou.

“You missed all the excitement.” Jason gestured toward the handcuffed man, who was staring at the floor again. “Saunders here knows some pretty colorful language, and he was none too happy to accompany us, neither.”

“Hence the handcuffs?” Ben asked drily.

Jason nodded, smirking.

“Wasn’t me that hit that kid,” Saunders suddenly muttered, his dark voice shaking slightly with suppressed anger. “Told y’all I wasn’t in town.”

Jason sighed, folding his arms across his chest with exaggerated impatience. “And I told you this: We got witnesses placing you at the scene, smart-ass. It’s your word against theirs. Who’re we gonna believe, some deadbeat, or the boy’s mother?”

Ben frowned at his partner. They had been in the radio car on their usual route the day before when the call about a hit-and-run near Corinth High had come over dispatch. O’Donnell and Myers, the department’s other two sergeants, had been closest and responded to the call. Last night, back at the station, O’Donnell had told them that the boy had a broken leg from being flung off his bike, but that he would undoubtedly survive. There really was no need for Jason to be so aggressive about the issue.

Saunders suddenly sat up straight on the bench, glaring at Jason. “It wasn’t me! Why’re ya not listenin’?” His dark blue eyes were wide with fury.

Ben, knowing Jason’s thought processes and impulses nearly as well as his own, stepped in his partner’s way. Gaze fixed on his friend, he said loud enough for Lou and any bystanders to hear, “Why don’t you and I take Mr. Saunders through to the interrogation room for a statement?” He put special emphasis on the last words, hoping Jason would get his meaning: Anything other than a polite request for an official statement from the suspect would be out of order at this point.

Taking Jason’s reluctant jerk of the head as assent, Ben turned around, intending to escort Saunders to the interrogation room. But as soon as his back was turned, Jason stepped nimbly around him and grabbed the man hard by the upper arm.

Saunders flinched, but Jason’s grip on him was like a vise. Saunders’s eyes met Ben’s, and there was pure animal fear in them, as well as something Ben couldn’t quite place. Anguish, perhaps?

He stepped up close behind Jason. “If you dislocate his shoulder there’ll be an awful lot of paperwork to fill in for both of us, brother.” Ben kept his voice quiet and even, but Jason knew him well enough to detect the steely undertone. After a moment, Jason huffed, then let go of Saunders and took a step back. There were finger-shaped marks on Saunders’s well-defined bicep, just below the rolled-up sleeve.

Now Ben stepped forward, and Saunders looked at him. He was still breathing fast, but the fear was beginning to fade from the indigo blue eyes.

Ben motioned at Saunders to stand, then pointed down the corridor. “Would you come this way, please?”

Good cop, bad cop. Ben really hated playing this game, but Jason had left him no choice. Saunders got up. He was no taller than Ben, who just about scraped five foot ten. Jason towered over them both, still glowering. Saunders gave him a quick, disgusted look, then preceded Ben down the dreary-gray hallway, handcuffed arms held stiffly behind him. As Ben followed, he noticed that Saunders’s shoulders were unusually broad for a man his height.

At the door to the interrogation room, Ben let Jason draw ahead. He followed the two men inside and closed the door. Jason approached Saunders, who had backed up against the one-way mirror.

“Turn around,” Jason said gruffly.

Saunders ignored him and stared straight at the bottle-green linoleum floor. Ben spoke before Jason could get angry again. “Sir, the sergeant will move the handcuffs to the front so you can sit down more comfortably.” The indigo blue eyes that met Ben’s were still full of mistrust, but after a moment, they softened and Saunders turned obediently.

“Sit,” Jason said when he had shackled Saunders’s arms again in the front. Saunders sat down heavily in the single chair on one side of the square floor-bolted table. Ben and Jason took the two chairs opposite.

Leaning forward, Ben waited until he had the suspect’s attention. “Do you mind if we record this conversation?”

“Yer arresting me?” The narrow blue eyes were suspicious again, but Saunders sounded more wary than belligerent. And he completely ignored Jason, his gaze never wavering from Ben.

“No, we’re not,” Ben said quietly. “But having a record of what we talk about will aid your cause.”

Saunders chewed this over, trying to decide whether Ben was telling the truth. Eventually he gave a small shrug.

“Sir,” Ben said. “Please state for the protocol: Do you mind if we record this conversation?” Forcing the police procedural on this man was surprisingly distressing. Saunders gave him a pained look.

“Go ‘head.”

Jason pressed the digital recorder button on the small panel in the tabletop to his right. But it was Ben who spoke again. When they interrogated a suspect together, Ben usually started off the interview. His milder, calmer demeanor tended to relax the atmosphere better than Jason’s hot temper. For now, Jason seemed to have gotten all his anger out by playing scary cop in front of Lou and sat quietly back in his chair.

“Statement protocol, September twenty-second, eleven forty-five a.m. Officers present: Sergeant Ben Griers and Sergeant Jason Browne.” Ben nodded at the suspect. “Please state your full name for the record, sir.”

“Donnie Saunders.” The man’s voice was quiet, and he sounded tired.

Ben waited for Saunders to look at him again, and nodded his thanks. Then he glanced at Jason, eyebrows raised, reminding his partner with his most level stare to act appropriately. “Officer Browne will now ask you a few questions.”

“Alright,” Jason said. Ben took this as the opening of the interview and an affirmation that he would stay calm. “Mr. Saunders, your pickup truck was seen driving away after hitting Dennis Mallory on his bike while he was riding home after school yesterday afternoon at about three thirty p.m.”

“I told y’all three times now, it wasn’t me. Why is it that ya can’t hear me?” Saunders’s voice had risen again in volume, but there was a strange quiver in it, too. He leaned back in his chair as far as he could, regarding Jason from eyes narrowed in anger.

Before Jason, who looked ready to explode again, could respond, Ben said quickly, “Let’s rephrase the question: Sir, where were you yesterday at three thirty p.m.?”

Saunders didn’t immediately reply. His eyes darted nervously around the room, never meeting Ben’s, and ignoring Jason completely. Then they settled on the shackled, tightly folded hands in his lap.

Is he trying to come up with a lie?

Eventually, Saunders said, “Was in Atlanta. Had an appointment at the DFCS.” His voice was very quiet, and he didn’t look up. It didn’t sound like a lie, but a truth the man was reluctant to share.

Ben decided not to press for details. It was none of his business why the guy had been summoned to the Division of Family and Children Services. As long as he could determine that Saunders had been forty miles away from the scene of the hit-and-run, he had done his job.

“I need to know who you were there to see,” Ben said just as quietly, and wasn’t surprised when his gaze was met with one of suspicion again. He added in explanation, “A phone call to the person you had the appointment with will clear you.”

Saunders gave a small jerk of the head in understanding. “Stacy Miller.”

“Thank you.” Ben looked at Jason, considering his options. Could he leave these two alone for a few minutes? His partner’s steely gaze never wavered from Saunders, and Ben could feel Jason’s tension. But if he told Jason to make the phone call, would he try very hard to get at the truth? No, Ben would have to call the DFCS himself. He’d just be really quick about it.

“Jason, stay with Mr. Saunders. I’m going to call Ms. Miller.”

Not waiting for Jason’s acknowledgment, or asking permission from Saunders to make the call on his behalf, Ben got up and left the room. He went back to the front desk. “Lou, find me the number for Atlanta DFCS.”

The desk clerk looked grumpy for a moment but then started hacking away at his keyboard without a word. Finally he picked up the phone, dialed a number, and held the receiver out to Ben.

“DFCS switchboard,” a tinny voice announced in Ben’s ear. “How can I help?”

“Stacy Miller, please,” Ben said, ignoring Lou, who was trying hard to look like he wasn’t listening in.

“Hold the line.”

Ben half turned away while he listened to the annoying phone queue music. After a few moments, there was a click and a crisp voice said, “Medicaid assessment team. How can I help you?”

“Is this Stacy Miller?”

“It is. Who’s asking?”

“Ms. Miller, this is Sergeant Ben Griers, Corinth PD. Did a man by the name of Donnie Saunders have an appointment with you yesterday afternoon?” Ben mentally crossed his fingers that the mention of his rank would suffice to elicit this piece of fairly innocuous information. Legally, he had no leg to stand on, but his experience had taught him that a courteous yet firm manner often got you surprisingly far.

And his experience held true again. After only a moment, the woman on the other end said, “Yes, he did.”

“And he attended?”

“Yes.”

“What time was his appointment?”

“Three p.m. But we were running late, so I think I started with him around three fifteen.”

“And how long was he there for?”

“About forty-five minutes. Officer, is Mr. Saunders alright?”

That was a surprising question. State employees usually had no time or interest to worry about the hundreds of people that passed by their desks every week. But then, here Ben was himself, trying to help Saunders as well, as quickly and with as little delay as possible. Maybe some of us do still care.

“He’s fine. Ma’am, if I were to check your office’s visitor register for yesterday, would the record back up your statement?”

“It would,” Ms. Miller said composedly. “And you’d find a parking permit in Mr. Saunders’s name as well. We don’t have much space out front, so clients get timed permits for the parking lot at the back.”

That was more than good enough for Ben. “Thank you for your time, ma’am.”

“You’re welcome, Officer. Have a good day.”

“And you.”

Ben put the phone down, nodded at Lou, and swiftly turned his back before the desk clerk could make a comment or ask any questions.

As he walked down the corridor toward the interrogation room, Ben’s mind was on the phone call, even as he kept telling himself that, beyond establishing a suspect’s alibi, what he had just learned was none of his business. But he couldn’t help wondering about it. Why had Saunders gone to the Medicaid office? He didn’t look ill. Of course, there were a dozen possible reasons. A sick family member. An old injury that no insurance would cover. Or even trying to get at some extra state assistance for no good reason at all. None of this was relevant to the case, and as he reached the interrogation room, Ben tried his best to push the thoughts from his mind.

He opened the door but didn’t rejoin the other two at the table. “Mr. Saunders, your alibi for yesterday afternoon was confirmed by Ms. Miller. You’re free to leave.”

Jason looked around at Ben, scowling. Ben ignored his partner and kept his eyes on Saunders, who, after a fleeting look of surprise, raised his shackled wrists. “Ya gonna let me keep them as a souvenir?”

Surprisingly, he didn’t sound aggrieved. Ben had been prepared for righteous indignation and anger, and wouldn’t have blamed the man for it. But Saunders just sat there, looking kind of tired and defeated. He held his arms out without comment as Jason leaned over with the handcuff keys. Once he was free, Saunders got up and, without a glance at Jason, walked toward the door. When he drew level with Ben, he stopped, eyes on the floor in front of him.

“Thanks,” he muttered quietly, then strode out of the room.

Ben glanced after Saunders as the man continued down the hall, shoulders hitched, face averted from the people milling around the lobby. A strange sensation rose up in him. Was it pity? He tried to tell himself that it was only natural to take an interest, feel something, after what Jason had put this man through without a single good reason.

And for Ben, the whole thing wasn’t over yet. Turning to his partner with a scowl, he asked, “Why were you so sure it was him? You practically had him convicted already.”

Jason shrugged. “Witness said they saw a dark brown pickup, same as Saunders has. And today, he was just sort of hanging around the gas station on Fullerton. Thought we should check him out.”

“Did you have anything else to go on? Description of the driver, partial number plate, anything?”

“Nope.”

Jason sounded smug, and Ben had to take a deep breath to keep his voice level. “Did he maybe behave in a suspicious manner?”

“Maybe,” Jason agreed as he got up. In Jason-speak that meant: Just didn’t like the look of the dude.

Jason sometimes got like this; he was all guts and instinct and reaction. That had its uses in policing, too, and Ben usually made excuses for his friend’s hot-headedness, because it mostly came from the right place in his heart. But somehow, this time he couldn’t. Maybe it had happened one time too many. Or maybe, because this time Jason’s ire had focused on a completely innocent party, he’d simply rubbed Ben the wrong way.

As he followed Jason out of the room, Ben hissed, “Since this was your party, brother, you can write it up for the captain as well, alright?” This would annoy Jason more than anything. He hated writing reports.

Without another word, Ben strode past the other man and out into the parking lot. He needed a moment to calm down or else he might well punch his partner and best friend in the face before the day was done.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Mel was born in Germany, where she spent the first twenty-six years of her life (with a one-year stint in Los Angeles). She has always been fascinated by cultures and human interaction, and got a Masters in Social Anthropology. After finishing university she moved to London, where she has now lived for ten years.

If you were to ask her parents what Mel enjoyed the most since the age of six, they would undoubtedly say “Reading!” She would take fifteen books on a three-week beach holiday, and then read all her mom’s books once she’d devoured her own midway through week two.

Back home in her mom’s attic there’s a box full of journals with stories Mel wrote when she was in her early teens. None of the stories are finished, or any good. She has told herself bedtime stories as far back as she can remember.

In her day job, Mel works for an NGO as operations manager. No other city is quite like London, and Mel loves her city. The hustle and bustle still amaze and thrill her even after all these years. When not reading, writing or going to the theater, Mel spends her time with her long-time boyfriend, discussing science or poking fun at each other.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Tour Schedule

9/18 Divine Magazine

9/18 My Fiction Nook

9/18 Stories That Make You Smile

9/19 A Book Lover’s Dream Book Blog

9/19 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

9/19 Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

9/19 Zipper Rippers

9/20 Happily Ever Chapter

9/20 Outrageous Heroes of Romance

9/21 Bayou Book Junkie

9/21 Drops of Ink

9/21 Love Bytes

9/22 MM Good Book Reviews

9/22 Xtreme Delusions

Giveaway

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In addition Mel Gough has the following giveaways for our readers to enter:

A giveaway for her book release.
As well as a couple of giveaways during Mel Gough’s Facebook launch party. Please visit this link: https://www.facebook.com/events/116042149068904/

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RELEASE BLITZ for Trust with a Chaser by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Trust with a Chaser

Series: Rainbow Cove, Book 1

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Annabeth Albert

Release Date: 08-01-2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,000

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Law Enforcement, Small Town, May/December

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Synopsis

One hot cop. One bar owner out for redemption. One smoking-hot summer fling destined to leave scorch marks…

Mason Hanks has returned to Rainbow Cove, Oregon with one goal in mind: turn the struggling coastal community into a thriving LGBTQ tourism destination. Step one is transforming an old bar and grill into a gay-friendly eatery. Step two? Don’t piss off Nash Flint, the very hot, very stern chief of police who’s not so sure he’s on board with Mason’s big plans.

Nash Flint just wants to keep his community safe and enjoy the occasional burger in peace. He’s not big on change nor is he a fan of Mason’s troublemaking family, especially his rowdy older brothers. But Mason slowly wins him over with fantastic cooking and the sort of friendship Nash has been starving for.

When their unlikely friendship takes a turn for the sexy, both men try to steer clear of trouble. Nash believes he’s too set in his ways for Mason, and Mason worries that his family’s reputation will ruin any future with Nash. Burning up the sheets in secret is a surefire way to crash and burn, and discovery forces a heart-wrenching decision—is love worth the risk of losing everything?

Trust with a Chaser is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, a hot law-enforcement hero, opposites attract, plenty of sexy times, and one hard-fought, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Excerpt

Chapter One

Mason

When Adam stepped inside the glorified closet I was using as an office, eyes all twitchy and hands wringing a bar towel, I knew I wasn’t going to like what came out of his mouth.

“Sheriff Sexy just walked in. He’s your problem.”

Fuck. I squeezed my eyes shut and took a deep breath. “Please don’t call Police Chief Flint that. He might hear, and I’m pretty sure he’d find a citation for you. And I am not bailing your ass out.”

“You’re just worried that one of these days you’re going to slip up and call him that.” Adam grinned at me. This was an old argument—he’d been calling Flint that stupid nickname since we were in high school. The hard-nosed cop wasn’t one to cut teen drivers any slack—especially if they were in any way associated with the name “Hanks.” “Anyway, you know he freaks me out. I’ve got no idea what he wants—all our permits are in order, right?”

“Of course.” Standing, I grabbed the folder with the permitting paperwork. I prided myself in the organization I was bringing to the bar and grill that I co-owned with Adam and our friend, Logan. Flint wouldn’t find anything to complain about, not with me in charge. “I’ll go deal with him. You go back to the bar in case we get a rush.”

Adam snorted. Despite it being opening weekend, traffic had been embarrassingly light. We’d worked for weeks transforming the old tavern—a Rainbow Cove institution for decades—into the newly renamed Rainbow Tavern. The gay-friendly bar and grill was our vision for pulling our sleepy little coastal town into the twenty-first century. Logan had crafted a new menu of upscale bar food ready to go, and Adam had innovative drinks specials at the ready. All we needed were customers. And to not run afoul of Nash Flint on our first day of operation.

Flint was a Rainbow Cove institution himself—born and raised here, same as Adam and me, but unlike me, he’d never left, sliding into his father’s shoes as police chief and apparently fitting the role as easily as a pair of broken-in jeans. He’d been Officer Flint last time I’d seen him, almost ten years prior.

Guess I could have seen him had I come down for Freddy’s trial, something I still felt niggles of guilt over, and I told myself that was why my stomach fluttered on my way out to the tavern’s dining room. Unlike Adam, I’d never found Flint particularly…

Sexy. All my thoughts fled as I took in the man sitting in front of the plate-glass window. He dwarfed the small wooden chair, one of dozens that Adam and I had painted bright colors. Broad shoulders stretched the confines of his uniform shirt, biceps bulging under the short sleeves. His cut-glass jaw was firm as ever, as were those hard hazel eyes. But what had been frankly terrifying to my teenaged self made my twenty-seven-year-old libido sit up and take serious notice.

Flint blinked as I approached, head tilting to one side. I’d been getting a lot of that since I’d been back in town. “Mason…Hanks?”

“The one and only.” I stuck out my hand. “What can I do for you, Chief Flint?”

He returned my handshake with a sure grip, only a moment’s hesitation. I guessed he wasn’t all that used to shaking hands with a Hanks. Oh well. I was out to prove to the whole damn town that I wasn’t like my father and brothers, and if I had to start with Flint, so be it.

“Nice place you’ve got here.” His eyes swept around the renovated room—restored antique bar on the far wall where Adam wasn’t bothering to conceal his nosiness, dance floor beyond that, colorful tables and chairs in the front of the bar, only a handful occupied despite the dinner hour.

“Thanks. Our permits are all in order.” I held out my folder. “Liquor license is on top.”

He waved the folder off. “Not worried about that.”

No? Then why the heck was Flint in my establishment? “Good. We’re on the up-and-up. You won’t have trouble from us—”

“Glad to hear it,” he said levelly, eyes skeptical, reminding me that I was, after all, nothing more than a Hanks. “Cheeseburger?”

“Pardon?”

“That Ringer kid didn’t see fit to give me a menu, but I’m trusting you all offer something approximating a burger? Salad, no fries, and an iced tea.”

“You want to order?” I was still struggling to keep up with him.

“This is a food establishment, right?” He shook his head as if he hadn’t expected more from me, and that rankled.

“Of course.” I crossed the room in long strides, grabbed an order pad from the bar, ignoring Adam’s gaping. As soon as I returned to Flint’s table, I added, “Anything you want. On the house.”

“None of that.” He sighed like my very existence was tiring. “Got my meals from the old tavern for years. They kept a tab open for me.”

“We can do the same—”

“Let’s see if you can cook first,” he said, voice drier than yesterday’s toast. “I thought I’d come by, check the place out.”

“Appreciated,” I said and meant it. Business, any business, was good, but people in Rainbow Cove trusted Flint. If he gave us the seal of approval, more locals might give us a try, make us less dependent on the tourist trade that we were going after. Tourism took a while to build, and our grand plans of making Rainbow Cove an LGBTQ travel destination weren’t going to happen overnight. We needed every customer we could get, Flint included, even if he was the unlikeliest of allies.

“You still haven’t brought me a menu.” He shook his head. “But whatever you’ve got passing for a burger is fine. Nothing vegan though.”

“We’ve got local grass-fed beef, third-pound patty on a brioche bun with a pesto mayo and local gouda. Or—”

“I reckon that will do fine.” Flint always had a bit more country than coastal in his voice. Not Southern, but you could tell he was rural Oregon through and through, and I liked the slow, deep rumble of his words. What I didn’t like, however, was the implication in his tone that he wasn’t expecting much from us.

“Sure you don’t want fries? We have hand-cut sweet potato as an option with a chipotle dipping sauce. As far as salads, I’ve got side, Caesar, spring berry and pecan—”

“I’m on duty here. Kind of pressed for time. The burger and a side salad are fine. I don’t need anything fancy.”

Yeah, well, maybe I want to give it to you. I quashed that thought, same as I had the one about how hot he looked in his uniform. Wanting to impress Nash Flint wasn’t going to get me anywhere.

“I’ll put a rush on it.” I made a note on the order pad, not that it was really needed since Logan hardly had a packed house to worry about.

As I walked over to the window to put in Flint’s order, I noticed more than one table giving him curious glances. Hell, maybe I was wrong about any business being good business. Last thing I needed was Flint scaring away what few customers we had. Not that he was known as a gossip or anything like that, but he was awfully…old school. Traditional. The last kind of guy you’d expect to find at a gay bar, that was for sure, and even though we were attempting to attract a mixed clientele, he stood out.

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Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

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Annabeth’s Angels Facebook Group | Annabeth’s Mailing List

 

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A Barb the Zany Old Lady Pre Release Review: Risky Behavior (Bad Behavior #1) by L.A. Witt and Cari Z.

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

Rookie detective Darren Corliss is excited to finally start his career as a detective. Stepson of the former police commissioner, Darren spent seven years as a beat cop before sitting for his detective exam. Though still young, he wanted to come on board with experience. Unfortunately, he’s been enlisted by IA to keep an eye on his new partner, an experienced, older man—a hard-ass detective who’d sooner break the rules than abide by them. And yet, Detective Andreas Ruffner has never been caught at anything other than bucking the system.

And Darren soon finds out why as Andreas proves to be evasive and stubborn in his refusal to share with Darren. But Darren isn’t what Ruffner thinks, and he soon shows he’s tougher than Andreas thought—and then proves he’s so much more than just a good cop partner. Darren and Andreas are attracted to one another, a fact that’s even more certain once they begin to establish some grounds for trust. That trust is shaken along the way, but not enough to completely upend the attraction, and definitely not enough to stifle the lust that burns between them.

When things start to really heat up on the case they’re working and Andreas is framed and put on suspension, Darren’s true nature comes out. He can also be sneaky and a bit of an ass, but he’s trustworthy and loyal, and despite what he lets others think, he doesn’t give up on Andreas—no matter what.

This is a wonderfully complex, exciting, and emotional roller coaster ride. These gifted authors prove how versatile they can be as they work together to bring us an extremely interesting story, complete with political intrigue, betrayal, dirty cops, danger, and major sexy times. I highly recommend this book to lovers of MM romance, especially those who enjoy enemies to lovers, age gap, law enforcement, and just plain old excitement. Kudos to the authors!

Cover by: G.D. Leigh.   It’s as gritty, and exciting as the story.

Sales Links

Riptide Publishing

other links to follow

Book Details:

ebook, 309 pages
Expected publication: May 1st 2017 by Riptide Publishing
Original TitleRisky Behavior
ISBN 1626495645 (ISBN13: 9781626495647)
Edition LanguageEnglish
Series Bad Behavior #1

Blog Tour and Giveaway: Falling for Him by CL Mustafic

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Title:  Falling for Him

Author: CL Mustafic

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Female/Male (No Male/Male interaction)

Length: 116000

Genre: Romance, attempted murder, coming out, divorce, hate crime, law enforcement, medical profession, MFM, OFY

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host  CL Mustafic here today, and we had a couple of questions for the author!

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Three Questions for CL Mustafic, author of Falling for Him

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

I think I’d like the power to teleport. I love to travel and it would be great to just pop over instead of having to drive or fly.

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

I think right now it would have to be Gavin, because Lex is super sweet. He’s kind and loyal and just the sort of man who you know would always have your back. Plus, he’s got that uniform and handcuffs.

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

Oh man, I would go to a small cabin by water. I don’t care if it’s the sea or a lake but water it is. I don’t know why, but water is so soothing and with the hectic life I live, I think it would be a great way to relax and just let the words flow.

Synopsis

Doctor Gavin Addison’s marriage didn’t end on the friendliest of terms, and his estranged wife’s continual harassment has the local police visiting his home so often they’ve started calling him “the doc.” One of those cops, Officer Lex Turner, has a crush on the handsome doc, even though he knows there’s no chance the doc would ever consider dating a man.

A chance encounter on a crowded dance floor ends with both men in the same bed with the same woman—but with questionable results. When the doc wants to try that again, Lex becomes more involved than he’d dreamed possible as he helps his new friend navigate the kinkier side of sex. Knowing it’s just sex for Gavin, Lex finds it hard to keep his feelings hidden. But when Gavin finally figures out he has feelings for Lex that go beyond what a guy should feel for his buddy, will he let Lex convince him to take a chance with him—even if it turns both their lives upside down?

Excerpt

Falling for Him
CL Mustafic © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“How much paperwork we got tonight?” Grady asked. He turned on his computer and started digging through his desk drawer, looking for god knows what.

“Not too much. Gotta finish up that report on the doc’s vandalism, and you need to write up that accident report. Then we can get back out there for another fun-filled night,” Lex said, making Grady wrinkle his nose.

“That damn woman makes for a lot of fucking paperwork. I’ve got half a mind to handcuff her to her water heater and forget her,” Grady said with a smirk for his own cocky bravado. “Don’t know how a nice guy like the doc got mixed up with a crazy bitch like that.”

Lex sat back in his chair. That was the question, wasn’t it? The doc seemed like a decent enough guy. Why his ex, one Cassandra Addison, would want to make the poor guy’s life hell was beyond Lex. It was even more fucked up when you added in the fact that, from what Lex had gathered, she’d cheated on him. He just hoped they wouldn’t end up with a Fatal Attraction–type ending with this case.

“Yeah, well, sometimes they hide the crazy until they have you in their clutches; then, bam presto chango, psycho chick is in your bed, and you’re fucked in more ways than one,” Lex said.

“Sounds like you got some experience in that area.”

“Don’t we all?”

Grady’s gaze shifted to something over Lex’s shoulder. “Speak of the devil,” Grady whispered.

Lex turned around, hoping that Cassandra Addison was not, in fact, standing behind him. Nope, not the bitch, but Gavin was, and he didn’t look thrilled to be in Lex’s humble workplace. Lex cast an appreciative look over the handsome doctor. He was one fine-looking man, with blond hair that curled wispily around his head and those deep-brown eyes, where you expected to see crystal blue, got Lex every time. Gavin had the greatest smile, and the dimples that peeked out at the slightest grin made Lex want to dip his tongue in them. He shook his head to clear away the thoughts of what he would like to do to the doc, if the doc was so inclined, that was.

“You got him, Grady. You know you’re better with this kind of crap.” He didn’t tell Grady that he got tongue-tied around Gavin and was afraid he’d make a fool of himself.

Grady stood up, smiled, and gestured for Gavin to take a seat by his desk. “Hey there, Doc, what’s up today?” he asked as if Gavin’s was a social visit.

Color rose on Gavin’s cheeks as he flushed a little before answering. Lex was glad he was sitting at his desk because the doc blushing like that did things to his body that weren’t acceptable in polite company. “There’s been another incident. I can’t be one hundred percent sure she did this, but I can’t think of anyone else who would want to humiliate me so much.”

“So what did she do this time?” Grady asked, “Or allegedly do?”

Gavin handed Grady a little slip of paper. “If you punch that into your web browser, you can see for yourself.” Grady took the paper and turned to his computer to type in the web address. He waited a second, and when Grady’s brow furrowed at what he saw on the screen, Gavin’s blush deepened. Lex itched to see what was on that screen but stayed in his seat.

“Why do you want me to look at your personal ad?” Grady asked.

“Because I didn’t post it, and that little sticky note was stuck to a computer at the nurse’s station on the fourth floor surgical unit where I happen to do rounds every morning. Everyone at the hospital now thinks I’m some kind of kinky pervert,” Gavin explained, visibly upset.

Lex had to see what was on Grady’s screen. He got up to look at his partner’s computer. He instantly understood why the doc had turned pink when he handed over the little piece of paper. Lex shook his head; that woman was pure evil.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Email

Tour Schedule

4/17 – Stories That Make You Smile

4/17 – MM Book Escape

4/18 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

4/18 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/19 – Oh My Shelves

4/19 – MM Good Book Reviews

4/20 – Slashsessed

4/20 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/21 – Happily Ever Chapter

4/21 – Love Bytes

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Love a Thriller Romance? Check Out ‘Saved’ by KL Roman (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Saved

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 10

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 70000

Genre: Romance, gay, kidnapping, law enforcement, criminals, PTSD, thriller

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Karrie Roman here today.  Karrie has brought along a book  playlist for our readers.  Welcome, Karrie.

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Book Playlist by Karrie Roman

I have a Jack playlist which is mostly what I call sexy rock. It’s the kind of music I imagine Jack listening to and when I imagine Jack walking around just doing his thing, this is the music I imagine as his soundtrack.  Creedence Clearwater Revival: Born on the Bayou, Fortunate Son, Run through the Jungle.  Bob Seger: Hollywood Nights, Night Moves. A bit of ACDC: Back in Black, Who Made Who, Thunderstruck.

I also have a Will playlist which is more classic, soft rock. Will is more mellow than Jack. He is less overtly sexy but still has a little something going on so these songs are what I imagine to be his soundtrack. Dragon: Are you old enough?, Aprila Sun in Cuba. Van Morrison: Here Come the Night, Brown Eyed Girl, Jack Wilson Said. Don Henley: The End of the Innocence, Boys of Summer, Leather and Lace.

And of course I have the sexy/ romantic playlist. This is the music I imagine Jack and Will listening to together or when they are just being together and it’s playing in the background. Ginuwine: Pony. Van Morrison: Days Like This. Angus & Julia Stone: Get Home.

Synopsis

Detective Jack Mitchell is not a people person. After fourteen years dealing with the monsters of society, he has learned to keep people at arm’s length. Failing is his biggest frustration, and on the case of his career, he is having no luck hunting down a copycat serial killer…or the one man who survived the original case.

Six years ago, Will Blaikie was taken by a monster who changed his life forever. Narrowly surviving, he has become a prisoner in his own home. Friendless and alone, he watches in horror as a new monster emerges who only wants to copy the murderous deeds of Will’s monster…including taking Will.

When these two men are thrown together, and the monster comes for them both, one must learn to feel safe and protected, and the other must learn to feel love and peace.

Excerpt

Saved
Karrie Roman © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Will Blaikie didn’t often watch the news. It wasn’t because he preferred to bury his head in the sand about the world. More often than not, he was just protecting himself. He knew very well what happened out there, and he didn’t often want to be reminded of it. He had one television in his house, a smallish thirty-four-inch flat screen that was mounted over his fireplace. It was rarely on other than for movies or, of course, for The Walking Dead.

Tonight Will needed the background noise though. So he had left the TV on after watching a repeat of last season’s final episode before the new Walking Dead season kicked off in a couple of weeks. He would proudly admit to being a diehard fan if anyone asked. He could hear the news broadcast begin from the kitchen where he was whipping up a quick stir-fry. There was no point in elaborate and complicated meals if you were only ever cooking for one. The breaking news item immediately caught his attention and left him cold.

Hesitantly making his way to the TV, he picked up the remote and rewound, wanting to have misheard. He hit play when the giant red breaking news banner crossed the screen. Will stood listening as a flawlessly presented, heavily made-up woman, who smiled entirely too much throughout her report, confirmed his worst fears.

“Police have yet to confirm the discovery of a second body with the all-too-familiar cross carved into the chest. Having viewed the body found in a semirural field today, I can confirm that a cross was indeed carved into the deceased’s chest. An unnamed police source unofficially confirmed that this was the second body found bearing the cross. Sydney-siders will remember the Beecroft Butcher from six years ago when the city was paralysed with fear during the yearlong killing spree. Twelve men were killed before the killer, Russell Coburn, was finally—”

He only just made it to the bathroom before the entire contents of his stomach came up. Will draped himself over the toilet seat, heaving and sweating as he vomited into the bowl until nothing but bitter bile remained in him. He could still hear the low mumble from the television, but thankfully, no words were clearly audible. He’d heard enough—too much. His entire body shook, and he imagined his mind would look a picture of complete panic and chaos if he could peer inside it right now. He lay on the cool tiles, curling his body around the toilet bowl, unconvinced there would be no more vomiting. He felt a wet nose snuffle against his arm and reached back to give a reassuring pat to Henley. The furry dog took up his position, laying himself practically on top of his master. Protecting him as always, not just from physical harm, but from the mental hurt Will was now threatened with.

An hour and a half later, both Will and Henley were still curled up together on the bathroom floor. Though his body was still wracked with tremors, they were easing as was the chaos in his head. Could this really be happening again?

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

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Tour Schedule

April 10th – MM Good Book Reviews

April 11th – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

April 11th – The Novel Approach

April 11th – Oh My Shelves

April 12th – Love Bytes

April 12th – MM Book Escape

April 12th – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

April 13th – Urban Smoothie Read

April 13th – Erotica For All

April 14th – Happily Ever Chapter

April 14th – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews  

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Release Blitz and Giveaway: An Unexpected Shot by Caitlin Ricci and A.J. Marcus

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Title:  An Unexpected Shot

Author: Caitlin Ricci, A.J. Marcus

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 3

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 14700

Genre: Romance, LGBT, gay, bisexual, law enforcement

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Synopsis

Darius has just retired as a police officer and opened his PI business. He expects to help people and continue the exciting life he had while on the force, but most of his cases center around cheating spouses. That is until a young boy comes into his office one afternoon.

Parker insists that his parents are missing, and not believing him, Darius calls the people on the boy’s phone to find one who is willing to pick him up. Rick, a family friend, comes to get him. As a thank you for watching over Parker, Rick invites Darius to his house for dinner. Their connection is instant, but their romantic night together becomes complicated when men break into Rick’s house and start shooting.

Excerpt

An Unexpected Shot
Caitlin Ricci and A.J. Marcus © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I adjusted the sign on my glass office door one more time before stepping through and into the small space. Darius Ware, Private Investigator. That was me. At fifty-two, and a recently retired cop, I had been too bored sitting at home watching the Food Network not to go back to work. Don’t get me wrong, I loved to cook,  when I had the time, but I also loved to work. And retirement had hurt in a way I hadn’t expected.

I’d never been good with downtime. Even the thought of it made my skin crawl with the need to do something. On the force, I’d been the one taking point and tackling suspects. I’d probably drawn more fire than anyone else in the department. I’d also taken down more people than anyone else. A desk job wasn’t for me, and so sitting at home on my couch had been akin to torture. I wanted to be busy and active. There was no one that I was close  to, no one that I could pass the days away with. I had thought about traveling some after I’d retired, but with no one willing to go with me, I hadn’t wanted to travel alone. I wanted to see places and experience things, but not by myself.

In an effort to save my sanity, I’d gone out and found a small office space in an upscale complex off the financial district. A lawyer occupied the office to one side of me and an accountant to the other. They were quiet men about my age. I’d thought maybe drinks with the guys would be in order at some point, but they’d both snubbed me. I was pretty sure it had to do with the fact I was a PI, and therefore in their eyes, likely below them. It didn’t bother me too much; neither one of them was really the sort of guy I was into, and I had better things  to do than just hang out with them.

The thing I loved was being back on the job…in a fashion. It may have been a far cry from my old life as a cop but it was enjoyable. I made my own hours. My desk wasn’t covered in manila envelopes from cases I was looking into, and my coffee machine actually worked. I’d even splurged on one of those ones that made single cups of coffee in a ton of different flavors with the little packs. Until I had clients, I figured I’d enjoy the bit of indulgence. I was ready for anything and looking forward to it, too.

*****

Two months into being a PI, my view of the job had changed dramatically. I’d anticipated looking for missing children. Instead I was investigating cheating spouses, and the news was never good. The money was decent, but I hated charging those crying, raging people money after they’d just found out the person they loved was screwing their neighbor, best friend, or ex. Most often, it was the best friend. I’d grown really distrustful of people after seeing what they were willing to do to the people they were supposed to care about. I’d seen some of that as a cop, but now that I was dealing with it up close and personal, it was harder to ignore.

So when a  boy, who couldn’t have been older than twelve, came right into my office and sat himself down in the chair across from my desk, I was intrigued.

“You lost?” I asked. That was the only explanation of why a kid would be in my office.

He shook his head, and his bright-red hair went flying. “Parker Emmanuel Williamson.” He held out his hand for me to shake it, which I did. “I need you to find my parents for me.”

He had my interest, but I also didn’t work for kids. I wanted that one glamorous case where I found a missing kid and got back into the hero spotlight I missed so much since I retired, but actually getting hired by someone Parker’s age wasn’t something I was interested in.

“Y our family know you’re out of school?” It was noon on a Thursday the week before Halloween. This kid should have been in school.

He shrugged. “I left. Can you find my parents or not? You’re a private investigator, aren’t you?”

I probably could find them, or at least try to, if I was willing to work for this kid. Which I wasn’t. All kids being a no-go aside, this one seemed worse than most. He had a cocky attitude that turned me off. “How old are you anyway?” I asked. He didn’t look much over eight.

“Twelve.”

That surprised me. “You’re small for your age.”

He rolled his eyes. Maybe he was used to hearing that.

“Take out your phone,” I told him. “And unlock it too.”

The kid actually did as he was told and placed it into my outstretched hand. “Are you going to look for clues on it?”

“No. I’m going to call someone to come pick you up.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | KoboSmashwords

Meet the Authors

Caitlin Ricci

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader, and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. She comes from a military family, and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful husband and their two dogs. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

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A.J. Marcus

A.J. has been writing to pass the time since high school. The stories he wrote helped him deal with life. A few years ago, he started sharing those stories with friends who enjoyed them and he has started sending his works out into the world to share with other people. He lives in the mountains with his extremely supportive husband. They have a lot of critters, including dogs, cats, birds, horses, and rabbits. When not writing, A.J. spends a lot of time hiking, trail riding, or just driving in the mountains. Nature provides a lot of inspiration for his work and keeps him writing. He is also an avid photographer and falconer. Don’t get him started talking about his birds, because he won’t stop for a while.

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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.”

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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.

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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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Release Day Blitz: The Broken Butterfly (In the Shadows #2) by Caitlin Ricci (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Broken Butterfly

Series: In the Shadows, book 2

Author: Caitlin Ricci

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 6

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 14900

Genre: Romance, NineStar Press, LGBT, gay, romance, ghost, demons, law enforcement, paranormal

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Synopsis

Carter is closer than ever to solving his latest cold case, but his disturbing dreams seem to be a warning to stay away from the truth. The victim, Jacob, deserves justice, and Carter can’t let a few bad dreams get in the way of that. When he goes to Malphas and Jamison for help, Carter learns that his dreams are more than they seem. What he learns is enough to send Malphas running, and as much as Carter wants to go with him and Jamison, he knows he can’t abandon Jacob so easily. Malphas says Jacob is being held by a powerful demon, and Carter knows he’s not in the business of doing favors for humans who aren’t Jamison. But to free Jacob, Carter is willing to do just about anything to convince Malphas to help him, even if it means making a deal with the devil.

Excerpt

The Broken Butterfly
Caitlin Ricci © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Some days Carter found it almost easy to be around Malphas. There were afternoons where Malphas would get Jamison and Carter drive-through cheeseburgers for lunch. He would sit quietly next to Jamison as if he was attempting to be on his best behavior during their lunch hour. During those afternoons, Carter could almost forget who Malphas was, what he was, and pretend he might have simply been a man Jamison was interested in and not the demon he actually was.

Then there were those times, like now, when Malphas was stretched out on the couch by himself while the three of them watched TV in the evenings. It had become routine since Carter had started staying with them. They each had a few slices of pizza in front of them, but unlike a normal person, Malphas had his pizza hovering in front of his face, close enough that he hardly had to move to take a bite, and whenever he wanted to turn the channel, he wiggled his fingers at the TV instead of using a remote.

Carter would have said something about how very nonhuman he was being, but it really didn’t matter. Malphas had gotten better about trying not to act so strangely when he was out with them or when he visited them at the precinct, and that was the important thing to remember when dealing with a demon. He was trying. Sometimes he still made light bulbs explode or people inexplicably changed their minds around him, especially when it benefited him or Jamison, but for the most part, Malphas was pretending to be just another normal human in the world. It was a relief not to have to feel like he had to constantly supervise the demon and remind him when he was acting out.

Two months ago, when Malphas had first come barreling into their lives, Carter would have never thought Malphas was anything other than a monster, and some days he hadn’t changed much at all, but he was always trying to be better. If only to please Jamison and stay on his good side.

Carter froze as he felt something warm drape over his shoulder. It still unnerved him sometimes to have his shadow around, especially since it was just a feeling and nothing nearly as corporeal as Malphas was. That would have made it easier, he was sure, if he could see whatever it was, whoever it was, that was following him around almost constantly.

“Is he here?” Carter asked Malphas. He’d started to give his shadow a gender. It made referring to him easier.

Malphas glanced over and then lifted his black eyes to something just above Carter’s shoulder. “Yep.” After a second, he added, “Well, it’s not my fault he can’t see you. Clearly you don’t belong in this realm. You should really go away.”

“That’s rich coming from a demon,” Carter replied, instantly coming to his shadow’s defense for no reason at all.

Jamison looked between them but said nothing. He’d been getting between them less and less. They hadn’t needed him to play referee when Malphas had shown no real interest in hurting Carter lately. There was the occasional jibe about him being an idiot, but even that had turned mostly playful.

Warmth spread down his shoulder to his arm, and Carter lifted his palm as the comfortable feeling flowed to his hand. He closed his eyes and imagined that whatever it was following him was holding his hand. Carter felt the slightest bit of pressure, but it wasn’t much, and he was half-certain he was actually imagining the whole thing.

“Hey,” he whispered. He could almost believe that he, whatever it was, was pushing back against him too.

Jamison got up from where he’d been sitting, and his movement distracted Carter enough that he lost the connection with his shadow.

“I wish I knew his name,” Carter said as he glanced behind him.

Mal snorted. “Why? He’s not actually part of this plane. He’s like…déjà vu or something like that. You know he’s here. I know he’s here. But he doesn’t actually exist here. It’s weird. He’s not a ghost or something like that. He’s stuck.”

That got Carter’s attention in a hurry, and Jamison paused on his way into the kitchen as well. “What do you mean he’s stuck?” Jamison asked Mal.

“Just that he’s where he is because he’s trapped there. It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t dead yet. When you die, I’ll show you.” Mal shrugged.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader, and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. She comes from a military family, and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful husband and their two dogs. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

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Release Day Blitz College Discipline by Caitlin Ricci

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Title:  College Discipline

Author: Caitlin Ricci

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 20

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 20200

Genre: Erotica, Erotica, BDSM, age gap, college, businessmen, law enforcement, over 40

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Synopsis

Four stories of sex, romance, and college boys learning to kneel.

Hitachi is a police officer reduced to being a glorified babysitter for a rich man’s son. He resents his assignment, but Gabriel isn’t the brat Hitachi believes he is. He’s a man who likes pain, and who wants Hitachi to let loose with him too.

Leo fantasizes about having sex with a complete stranger, but when he gets his chance it isn’t nearly as wonderful as he imagined it to be. His dad’s boss tries to teach him a lesson about making stupid choices, but his education in submission doesn’t end there.

Jensen is horrible at math, and now he’s in a calculus class that he’s barely getting through. His parents get him a tutor, but this tutor is interested in teaching Jensen about far more than just math.

Timothy comes back home, to a tiny town he can’t stand, when his mother’s illness gets worse. He’s made a string of bad decisions, and his mother’s friend is determined to turn his life around before Timothy gets lost entirely.

Excerpt

College Discipline
Caitlin Ricci © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Jensen was ten minutes late for his initial tutoring session. It wasn’t the best way to make a great first impression, but he’d had a hard time getting up when his alarm sounded and then missed his bus. Who actually got up before ten on a Saturday morning anyway? Definitely not him.

But he made it to Sam’s door anyway. His new college tutor, the one his parents had insisted Jensen get because he had such a good reputation, lived in a nice house on the outskirts of Denver. There was a new SUV in the driveway that still had the temporary plates on it. Something like that, with 4-wheel drive, was definitely fun to go off-roading in, and if he’d had a vehicle like that, Jensen would never have to sit on the bus again or deal with the driver being late or get hit on by drunk guys in the middle of the night while riding it either. He was still practically drooling over the SUV when a man opened the front door.

“I assume you’re Jensen? I’m Sam.”

He gave Sam his attention and quickly nodded. “Sorry I’m late. The buses and stuff.”

Sam shrugged. “You’re here now at least. Come on in. Let’s get started.” Jensen kicked off his shoes as soon as he was inside and was glad to put his heavy backpack down for a while. “When your parents hired me, they said you were having trouble with calculus, right? Anything else I should know about?”

Jensen stripped off his sweatshirt. The house was too warm, and Jensen was already dying in the heat. His T-shirt came up with his sweatshirt, like it always did, and he quickly pulled it back down.

“Uh… Math in general, I guess. I have a hard time focusing since my mind goes all over the place and I get bored easily.” He dropped his sweatshirt on the back of the couch and grabbed up his backpack again. “So where do you want me?”

Sam nodded toward the kitchen, where Jensen saw two glasses of water and some popcorn already spread out for them. His cheeks flamed. “You were waiting a long time for me, huh?”

“A little bit,” Sam confirmed for him as he led the way into the kitchen. “We can get started now, though, and next time you’ll be here when you’re supposed to be. If the busses are an issue, I can come get you. Or we can do the sessions at your place.”

Sam’s house was so neat and tidy compared to his apartment. Jensen definitely didn’t want him there. He had enough to be embarrassed about with how bad his grades were and how stupid he felt that he didn’t want to add how much of a slob he was to the list.

He sat across from Sam and sipped his water. “How long have you been a tutor?”

“Five years. Since I graduated college with my bachelor’s degree in education. How long have you been bad at math?” Sam smiled at him, and Jensen started to relax.

“Pretty much forever. I just don’t get it.”

Sam chuckled, and Jensen started pulling out his books. He didn’t want to delay any longer in case Sam started to get the idea he just didn’t care if he passed math this semester or not. He did care, but not because he wanted to be good in math or anything like that. He mostly just wanted his parents to get off his back about how he clearly wasn’t applying himself.

“What part are you having trouble with?”

Jensen waved vaguely to the entire textbook. “All of it. I can’t even do long division. I shouldn’t be in this class, but I got lucky on a few questions on the placement test, so now I’m there and I just want to pass.”

Sam put the book down on a nearby chair. “We’ll get to that later then, since it sounds like you need some of the basics reworked first, and I don’t want to overload you on your first day here with me. When you’re having trouble concentrating, what’s normally going on?”

Jensen had a hard time concentrating whenever his teacher was nearby. He pressed his lips together and tried to think of a better answer than that, but he didn’t have one, whenever he was struggling, it was normally because Professor Anderson was there with his tight khakis on. He’d be standing close to Jensen’s desk since he sat right in the front, and all Jensen could think about was leaning over and offering his professor a blow job.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader, and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. She comes from a military family, and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful husband and their two dogs. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

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