RELEASE BLITZ for A Tiny Piece of Something Greater by Jude Sierra (exclusive excerpt and giveaway)

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A Tiny Piece of Something Greater

Publisher: Interlude Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 17, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): 258 Pages

Subgenre: LGBT, Interracial/Multicultural, New Adult

Editor’s Note: Some readers may find some of the scenes in this book difficult to read. We have compiled a list of content warnings, which you can access at interludepress.com/content-warnings

All buy links or pre-order links:

Interlude Press: store.interludepress.com

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2FbYh4V

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/791892

Apple: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-tiny-piece-of-something-greater/id1348808986?mt=11

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-tiny-piece-of-something-greater

Indiebound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781945053603

Book blurb:

Reid Watsford has a lot of secrets and a past he can’t quite escape. While staying at his grandmother’s condo in Key Largo, he signs up for introductory dive classes, where he meets Joaquim Oliveira, a Brazilian dive instructor with wanderlust. Driven by an instant, magnetic pull, what could have been just a hookup quickly deepens. As their relationship evolves, they must learn to navigate the challenges of Reid’s mental illness—on their own and with each other.

Jude Sierra talks A Tiny Piece of Something Greater: I want readers to walk away with a deeper appreciation and understanding of what it is like to thrive with mental illness—or strive toward it—and what it is like for two people to be and fall in love in these situations. I’d love for readers to come away knowing that love doesn’t cure mental illness, nor should it. Reid and Joaquim love each other as they are.

 Exclusive Excerpt :

“Reid!” Joaquim stands a few steps down, not wanting to have to go all the way to the beach only to climb back up.

“Coming!”

By the time Reid’s all the way up, he’s slightly out of breath but smiling. “I am ready for my surprise. You didn’t install a sex swing in my grandma’s condo, did you? I’d have a hard time explaining that away.”

“No, you pervert.” Joaquim takes Reid’s hand. The sun is setting, leaving a lovely glow at their backs and a slightly dimmed living room. It lends the perfect ambiance. He covers Reid’s eyes.

“Really?”

Joaquim glances behind himself as he walks backward while leading Reid in.

“Okay, we’re going to die like this,” he mutters. “Close your eyes.” He comes around Reid, covers his eyes with his palms, and then leads him forward. “Sit,” he whispers once they’re in the middle of the living room.

“On a chair?” Reid waves a hand around blindly.

“No, on the floor.”

Joaquim kneels and helps Reid onto the floor. Once they’re down, he presses himself against Reid’s back and whispers into his ear, “Now.”

“J…” Reid says. All around them are small white candles in glass jars. Joaquim bought out the store with his measly savings. More than a hundred candles are on the table to their right, on the shelves by the TV, and surrounding the carefully laid, soft plaid blanket beneath them. Their light butters the hush of sunset through the glass doors at their backs. Strewn everywhere are rose petals and shells. Joaquim painstakingly removed the petals from the flowers, trying not to bruise or tear them; his fingers bear pinpricks from their thorns. At Shell World, he endured Delia’s teasing after exacting a promise not to say anything to Reid about what he was planning. The stillness of Reid’s body, though, speaks of the worth of the time spent.

“I’ve never…” Joaquim starts.

“No one has ever—” Reid breaks off, his voice is thick and unsteady. He turns his face to tuck it into Joaquim’s neck. “How did you know?”

“That you’re a hopeless romantic even though you try to hide it?”

“Yes.”

“Because you’re terrible at hiding it,” Joaquim says. He holds Reid’s hand in tender counterpoint to the light amusement in his voice.

“Fuck. I guess my cover is blown.” His eyes, bright with tears, don’t shy from Joaquim’s.

“I hope,” Joaquim says, and touches Reid’s cheek, “that you know you don’t need a cover with me.”

Reid smiles, but looks away. Too much? Joaquim isn’t pressuring. He’s offering. He’s laying something bare.

“I do.” Reid kisses him.

 

About Jude Sierra:

Jude Sierra is a Latinx poet, author, academic and mother working toward her PhD in Writing and Rhetoric, looking at the intersections of Queer, Feminist and Pop Culture Studies. She also works as an LGBTQAI+ book reviewer for From Top to Bottom Reviews. Her novels include HushWhat it Takes, and Idlewild, a contemporary LGBT romance set in Detroit’s renaissance, which was named a Best Book of 2016 by Kirkus Reviews.

Connect with Jude: Site | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads | Facebook | Pinterest

Giveaway Prize of A TINY PIECE OF SOMETHING GREATER by Jude Sierra (5 eBooks + $25 IP Web Store credit Grand Prize):

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Grace Kilian Delaney on Writing Twists, Turns and ReWrites: Waking Oisin by Grace Kilian Delaney (guest blog, excerpt and giveaway)

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Hi Everyone! I’m Grace Kilian Delaney and thanks for following me on my blog tour for my new contemporary MM romance, Waking Oisin. A special thanks to Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words for having me here today!

Every writer has their own method of writing, and for me, as much as I try planning out my novels, there is usually some twist that happens. Sometimes it requires an entire rewrite. Waking Oisin was a complete rewrite.

Oisin (pronounced ocean or oh-sheen) was first introduced in Seven Minutes, a novella that focused on his friend Devon, but provided a hint at how unsatisfactory Oisin’s love life was. He deserved his HFN ending, and so a plot was born. Only it wasn’t anything like the book that got published.

Oisin and another character from Seven Minutes seemed like the perfect setup, and I thought they would work but Oisin said, “No way in hell.” So I went searching for a lover to balance out Oisin’s temperamental character, someone who might discipline him. Who better than a Dom to provide discipline? I fell down the rabbit hole of BDSM and wrote an entire story based on Trent being a Dom and rescuing Oisin from another Dom that wasn’t as kind and…yeah. I hated it. My beta readers weren’t that happy about it either. So, back to the computer I went.

I carried over the character arcs for Oisin and Trent and the circumstances involving Oisin’s father, but the rest of the plot got reworked. Their relationship went from BDSM to kink and became more playful than the initial story. Instead of a not-so-nice Dom being their obstacle, in the published version Oisin and Trent must choose between their career goals or their newfound love, a far more relatable circumstance.

The entire process from the first draft to published book took about a year and a half, proving that writing takes dedication and is truly a labor of love for me.  I’m glad I stuck with it and Oisin finally got his HFN ending.

Waking Oisin
Grace Kilian Delaney
Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, bisexual, gay, genderqueer, new adult, cross-dresser, college student, lawyer, age-gap, piercings & tattoos, dirty talk, toys, spanking, D/s dynamics, light kink, family drama, pets

Oisin Harrison blames his fiancée’s distrust for ruining their relationship. He blames his father for pushing him into law school. But more than all that, he blames himself for letting other people’s expectations stop him from going after his dream. But dressing in drag with his best friend is the one thing Oisin refuses to compromise.

As Sin, he meets handsome Trenton Fisher, a man who appreciates Oisin’s cross-dressing. Trent upends his world by doing things to his body no one ever has, making him want more than just one night together. That is, until Oisin discovers his hot hookup works at his father’s law firm and is angling for a promotion.

To complicate things, Trent doesn’t seem to recognize Oisin out of drag. Or does he?

Will Oisin and Trent’s magnetic attraction grow to something deeper, or will it threaten to jeopardize their careers and futures?

Waking Oisin contains characters from Seven Minutes but can be read as a standalone.

Add to Goodreads

 

 

Excerpt

Waking Oisin
Grace Killian Delaney © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Oisin Harrison

As I walked out of my last class of the day, the wretched feeling grew larger in my stomach, and if it weren’t for the cool January air, I might have puked. I’d failed my first project. My second semester at UNLV’s law school was not going well, and I’d be lucky if I made it through the next four months without getting kicked out.

My father had been disappointed with my decision to attend our home state’s college. Being the senior partner and founder of the most prestigious entertainment law firm, with locations in Las Vegas and Los Angeles, he’d had ridiculously high expectations for his youngest son. When he came home from LA on Friday, like he did every weekend, the news of my being on academic probation would be reported to him by one of his many acquaintances (aka babysitters) before I had an opportunity to plead my side, and a butt chewing would ensue.

I trudged back to my apartment where I found my best friend, Devon Thomson, in the parking lot getting out of his car. His makeup and short brown hair were flawless, and the stylish wrap coat he wore stopped just above his knees, leaving his calves exposed. The ease with which he expressed his femininity had always impressed me.

Devon picked up on my body language immediately. “You don’t look too happy.”

“I failed.” My chest tightened. I’d never failed at anything before. I’d survived an undergrad degree in Biological Sciences and graduated summa cum laude, but I had no heart for law. Lately, I had no heart for anything; I was a zombie masquerading among the living.

Devon hugged me. “It’s okay, Os. You’ll do better next time—you always do.”

That’s why I loved my friend. He was always a hundred and ten percent supportive and affectionate. I missed our nights making love to each other as FWB and hanging out with him like we used to before he met his boyfriend. Whenever he talked about his lover, he glowed with happiness. I’d never seen him so happy, so in love, and it made any nostalgic desires I had seem trivial.

He released me and a wicked grin spread across his lips. “I got something that might cheer you up.”

“I know that look, and it means trouble.” I laughed, and it seemed like it’d been an eternity since that sound had come from me. “I’m in.”

He clapped, his suede gloves dampening the sound. “We got invited to a record release party in Los Angeles next weekend, and I was thinking we could dress up like we used to? It’s been too long since we had some fun together.”

My heart swelled. Seemed I wasn’t the only one missing our together time. I should stay and study. Be a good little student. But what Devon offered was too tempting. Screw it. I was going to LA. “Sounds perfect.”

“Yay! I’ve got the best outfit for you. You’re gonna look so hot, you’ll be swatting off guys and girls.”

“I don’t know about that.” Sometimes I thought being bisexual was a blessing, other times a curse. The curse had happened last semester when my fiancée determined my bisexuality was a cover for being gay and that one day I’d leave her for a man. I protested. She left anyway.

“I do,” Devon affirmed, hooking his arm with mine and resting his head on my shoulder as we walked the few steps to my front door

“Who are you? Susie Sunshine?” I envied the confidence he had; it drew people to him. I couldn’t remember the last time I felt safe or confident in my own skin.

He brought his hands to his face, framing it like a sun’s rays. “Oh, you know me. Just a ray of light wherever I go.”

“Will Stone be there?” Mentioning his boyfriend’s name brightened his smile to megawatt proportions. I’d need sunglasses if he kept it up.

“Yep. And before you even ask—no, Matty will not be there.”

Matty. Stone’s bandmate, who’d brought me to his hotel room, kissed me, and then shoved me away. Last time I saw him, he apologized for leading me on. Alcohol made any hole look good until a hiccup of sobriety hit. Whatever. Matty had been my last attempt at getting laid, and that was so many months ago, I’d reinstated my virginity.

I let out a breath. “It won’t matter if he’s there, Dev. We’re good. He’s over it. I’m over it. It’s not like he’s the first person to reject me.” That sounded more pathetic than I’d intended. Time to change the topic. “Do you mind if we stop by Paws for Love before getting dinner? There’s someone I want to check in on.”

“Wouldn’t be one of those gorgeous redheaded veterinarians, would it?” Dev raised his perfectly arched eyebrows.

“Despite my crush on the twins, no. It’s a female of the four-legged variety—much too hairy. I found a dog, a black lab, with a damaged leg.”

Devon brushed my cheek with his gloved fingers. “You’re so sweet, you know that?”

The familiar touch set up an ache in my heart, but not because I wanted to be in a relationship with him. Devon and I had been there, done that, and decided we were better off friends.

“Being sweet has done nothing for me.”

“Ooh, you could get yourself a leather daddy, go all whips and chains. You know, be bad.” Devon tapped a finger against his lips, his gaze shifted upward in thought.

“Seriously?” I struggled with the lock to the lemon-yellow front door, fighting back the disturbing image.

Devon lightly pushed me out of the way and turned the key twice before it gave. He plopped the key into my hand without acknowledging his triumph over the stubborn lock. “Might loosen you up some.”

“Getting laid would loosen me up, never mind getting a leather daddy.” I shouldered the door and went inside.

“I think we’ve found a goal for our LA trip.” He rubbed his hands together.

I barked a laugh. “My dad always says it’s good to have goals.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Grace Kilian Delaney resides in flammable Southern California where she spends the wee hours of the morning drinking coffee and writing. She identifies as genderfluid and pansexual, though both are recent labels, and a goal of hers is to create stories that include gay, bisexual, and genderfluid characters. When not writing, Grace composes music, pretends she’s an opera singer, plays piano, and practices yoga, though not all at the same time.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | eMail

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Kelly Haworth on Making a Religion is Never from Scratch and her latest release ‘Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1)’ (guest post and giveaway)

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Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth
Riptide Publishing

Cover by: Natasha Snow
Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here at Riptide Publishing


Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kelly Haworth here today on her Read My Mind tour. Welcome, Kelly.

✒︎

Making a Religion is Never from Scratch by Kelly Haworth

I was that kid who would take every extra credit report the teachers ever assigned and write it on Ancient Egypt. I was obsessed with it, reading up on all the gods and the stories, learning about the language, visiting the museums. I still have a ton of Egyptian trinkets, from statues to tarot cards. I have books on my bookshelf, and can still tell you weird facts, like how ancient Egyptians had a weirdly inaccurate fraction they used for pi, and scholars aren’t quite sure why they never used a more accurate one. (I’m sure they had their reasons!)

So it should surprise no one that when developing a fantasy world with their own religion, I would make a polytheistic one.  And accompanying that love of polytheism with my limited knowledge of the Greek pantheon, I knew that was the direction I wanted to go in a fantasy. There’s something very elegant about being the god of a few specific things, instead of all of existence and experience. Plus, who doesn’t like the stories of feuding gods?

However, actually establishing a fabricated religion is complicated. Throwing around god names during the course of a narrative is relatively easy. But turning those random mentions into an actual practicable religion is a different thing entirely. Before I started drafting Read My Mind, I scoured my two completed manuscripts in the Under the Empire universe for everything about religion I had mentioned. Okay, churches, altars and trinkets, about 5 gods, and allusions to angels. But it was all pretty vague stuff, because I had never had any religious teachings outside of the things one learns in a public school, and what I had read about polytheistic cultures. So I knew what I needed to research, and I came out the other side knowing the difference between a parable and an epistle, that angels come from many cultures, and that the translations of religious texts have been politically bent over the centuries, just to name a few things.

This all fuelled how I shaped the religion.  And adding on the idea that the people of this world had been gifted magic from these gods, I hoped that the idea that one religion would dominate most of the world’s population would be reasonable. I settled on ten gods, each representing one of eight different magics, with two additional gods representing the non-magical.  There would be churches and priestesses for what they bring to communities, and there would be altars and prayer for individuals who wanted to lead their own worship.

Most importantly, I wanted this religion to be inherently LGBTQ friendly. Thus there are canonically bisexual, lesbian and trans gods, and maybe more that I haven’t figured out yet.

Religion or the lack thereof shapes community, drives some governments, influences societal norms. In Read My Mind, I wanted to show a religion that cares and supports and encourages love and giving. I hope I have succeeded in that, and I hope as I write future books in this series, I get to continue to develop it.

Welcome to the blog tour of Read My Mind, the first book of the Under the Empire series! I hope you’ll check out all the stops, where I explore the craft that goes into creating a fantasy series set in a contemporary era.

Long ago, a pantheon of ten gods gifted magic to the people of our world, changing the course of history as we know it. The Flavian Empire now reigns over what would have been America, led by a royalty of fire weavers. Frannesburg, the city by the bay, is a haven from the empire’s encroaching dictatorship, and its university is bustling with people of all magics, sexualities, genders, and races. As students study toward their degrees, they hope to find friendships across majors, and maybe even love under the fog and city lights.

Read My Mind follows two freshmen, Scott and Nick, who have just started at the University of Frannesburg. Magic, attraction, and too much homework await them on their journey to figure out who they are now that they are on their own, and how they fit into this magical world.

About Read My Mind

Scott Kensington lives happily without magic; prayer is all he needs to worship the gods. Then he starts his studies at the University of Frannesburg, and not only is he suddenly surrounded by eccentrics—those gifted with magic—but his own latent ability begins to surface, with consequences that could tear his soul and family apart.

Nick Barns is grieving for his lost mother and desperate for distraction—usually in the form of limited-edition action figures. As a telekinetic, he’s no stranger to magic, so he offers to help Scott adjust to his new powers. They quickly learn how their magics interact, their shared passions soon growing beyond superheroes and immortals. But Nick’s not taking his studies seriously, and his father threatens to pull him from the university. Overwhelmed by his own crumbling family, Scott’s convinced he can’t handle a relationship, but he doesn’t want to let Nick go.

With grief, guilt, and magic complicating everything between Nick and Scott, it seems that not even the gods—or a new comic book—can save their relationship now.

Sometimes, even reading someone’s mind won’t help you understand what they want.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

About Kelly Haworth

Kelly Haworth grew up in San Francisco and has been reading science fiction and fantasy classics since she was a kid. She has way too active an imagination, thus she channels it into writing. Kelly is genderfluid and pansexual, and loves to write LGBTQIA characters into her work. In fact, she doesn’t know if she’s ever going to be able to write an allo-cishet couple again. Kelly has degrees in both genetics and psychology, and works as a project manager at a genetics lab. When not working or writing, she can be found wrangling her two toddlers, working on cosplay, or curled up on the couch with a good TV show or book.

Connect with Kelly:

Website: kellyhaworth.com

Twitter: @KHaworthWrites

Facebook: KHaworthWrites

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Read My Mind, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on October 7, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

A MelanieM Release Day Review: Read My Mind (Under the Empire #1) by Kelly Haworth

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Rating: 3 stars out of 5

Reading someone’s mind won’t always tell you what they want.

Scott Kensington lives happily without magic; prayer is all he needs to worship the gods. Then he starts his studies at the University of Frannesburg, and not only is he suddenly surrounded by eccentrics—those gifted with magic—but his own latent ability begins to surface, with consequences that could tear his soul and family apart.

Nick Barns is grieving for his lost mother and desperate for distraction—usually in the form of limited-edition action figures. As a telekinetic, he’s no stranger to magic, so he offers to help Scott adjust to his new powers. They quickly learn how their magics interact, their shared passions soon growing beyond superheroes and immortals. But Nick’s not taking his studies seriously, and his father threatens to pull him from the university. Overwhelmed by his own crumbling family, Scott’s convinced he can’t handle a relationship, but he doesn’t want to let Nick go.

With grief, guilt, and magic complicating everything between Nick and Scott, it seems that not even the gods—or a new comic book—can save their relationship now. Sometimes, even reading someone’s mind won’t help you understand what they want.

Kelly Haworth has packed Read My Mind with many interesting elements and laid the foundation for a universe that’s waiting for some major drama to unfold.  She has created some great young characters, given them background that I believe people can connect with, along with developing talents that make their lives and story more exciting.  Plus a romance and a religion that seems to flow into popular culture via comic books and collectibles which I found intriguing.  But somehow  with all that it just didn’t take off.

Maybe because I kept expecting some major drama to happen because of all the heavy hints thrown about The Empire and the drafting of certain gifted young people.  But that never came to fruition.  There  was drama going on with Nick and his father but that seemed to settle out as well towards the end as Nick sorted out his grief over his mother’s death.  Ditto Scott and the complications with his family issues.  We never really know what happens there.  Everything sort of settles out and  goes away  and the boys end up boyfriends and  on to their sophomore year in college.

And we end up with tons of exposition concerning the religion (and collectibles via Nick), almost nothing about the Empire and world history (which we could have used more of), too much imo of pulling Nick back into the religious side.  Unless this is going to play a huge part of things in the future, which it never really did here, this could have been elevated to be more powerful and cut down.  Either way, it’s sort of a  left down narrative wise.  However, it made his boyfriend happy, so there’s that.

There was your typical teenage first time relationship dynamics, family stress and paranormal talents thrown on top which was handled nicely if with too much verbiage and density.  Here less would have been more.  I would image that book two picks up during the sophomore year in college and hopefully more drama and information about The Empire is forthcoming.  I’m interested enough to check out the second installment.

Cover by: Natasha Snow works for the story and is lovely.

Sales Links:  Riptide Publishing | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 294 pages
Published October 2nd 2017 by Riptide Publishing
ISBN139781626496255
SeriesUnder the Empire #1

Release Blitz for Without A Compass by Helen Juliet (excerpt and giveaway)

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Book Title: Without a Compass

Author: Helen Juliet

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: August 24 2017

Length: Words: 80K

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance, New Adult,

Fish Out of Water, Gay For You, First Time Gay, Opposites Attract

Blurb

Riley Anderson isn’t an outdoorsy guy. He’s a desk jockey, office by day and couch by night. So when his family insists on a camping trip for his father’s 50th birthday he’s hardly thrilled. Things only get worse when Kai shows up, too.

Kai Brandt’s more than eager to go camping with his best buddy, but his buddy’s little brother Riley is all grown up now, and hotter than hell. Kai’s willing to help him pitch more than just a tent… Which is weird, because Kai never swung that way before.

Events conspire to out Riley’s secret AND leave him stranded in Kai’s care for longer than they’d planned for. Trapped together in the wilderness, they’re going to have to face a few hard truths if they’re going to make it back to the world.

But even if they manage it, the experience will leave them forever changed.

Without a Compass is a steamy, standalone gay romance novel with a HEA and no cliffhanger.

Without A Compass

Excerpt

He’d only just managed to get his boxers on in time when the outer door swung inwards and let in a burst of light. For a moment he couldn’t see and he threw his hand up to shield his eyes. “Hello?” he squeaked.

“Oh, hey,” a deep voice replied.

Riley froze as the door swung back and he was left looking at a sweat-soaked Kai. His vest and very short shorts clung to his damp, muscular body. The vision it offered up made Riley gulp.

The tattoos on his arms appeared to gleam under the sheen of sweat from whatever workout he’d just completed. Amongst the varied designs, Riley could make out a bear and a skull surrounded by roses. The colours were muted. His artist had used subtle shades to create tone. The overall effect was powerful but not overwhelming.

Plus, it didn’t hurt that the arms carrying the decoration were huge and chiselled to perfection. Riley had almost died of happiness the couple of times Kai had casually draped one of them across his shoulders the night before.

He remembered where he was. He needed to do or say something before the moment stretched out any further and became weird.

His natural instinct was to snatch his towel up and cover his body. That would definitely make things awkward though. So Riley used all his self-control to merely pick it up as casually as he could and started drying off his hair. Just like you’re at the gym, he told himself.

“Morning,” he said brightly. “You go for a run too?”

Kai blinked a couple of times. It was obvious he was looking at Riley’s almost totally naked body and Riley tried his best not to shy away in shame. No, he wasn’t nearly as ripped as Kai was, but he knew he didn’t look too bad. This was probably awkward for Kai too, especially after last night. But if they could just move past it, it would be fine.

As if coming out of a daze, Kai shook his head and walked forward. His towel was slung over his shoulder and he had a simple all-in-one shower-gel-and-shampoo bottle clutched in his hand. “Oh yeah mate,” he said cheerfully, answering Riley’s question. “It’s beautiful around here. It would be rude not to go exploring.”

Riley chuckled and thankfully found himself dry enough to pull on his shorts. He felt slightly less vulnerable with that small amount of clothing protecting him.

“I had to sweat out the hangover. How are you feeling?”

He didn’t just mean after the alcohol. But he wondered if Kai would pretend nothing out of the ordinary had happened. He wouldn’t blame him if he did; in fact, it would probably be best for both of them if that’s how they moved forward.

“I’m good,” he said, stopping at the sink next to where Riley’s products were littered. “Can I borrow some of that?”

Riley nodded and offered up his toothpaste. Kai pulled a toothbrush from his back pocket and got to scrubbing.

As Kai was unable to talk for the moment, Riley applied his deodorant in increasingly awkward silence. He should think of something to say, something funny! Something that wasn’t ‘So, do you regret that kiss last night? Because I don’t.’

Instead, he chewed at his lips and began picking up his various tubes and tubs to collect them back into his wash kit.

“Whereabouts did you-”

“How did you-”

They both looked at each other, then laughed. Kai spat out his toothpaste and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand. “I was just wondering how you slept.”

“Oh, fine thanks, fine.” Riley paused as Kai began peeling off his vest. “Uh, you?”

Kai rubbed his face. He seemed a bit sheepish for some reason. Riley hardly noticed though as he was focusing extremely hard on not staring at his pectorals.

“Yeah, fine,” he grunted. But he offered up a smile that cancelled out whatever had bothered him.

Buy Links

Amazon Author Page

Goodreads Link

Author Page

Without A Compass

Meet the Author

Helen Juliet is an M/M author currently living and working in London. She’s been writing stories since she was young, and got her start publishing fanfiction of sites like Wattpad. Fifteen years and over a million words later, she discovered the world of M/M fiction and found it was just as good as the fanfiction she was reading. She fell head over heels in love with the genre and became determined to try her hand at a book herself. On December 31st, 2016, she rang in the new year by publishing her first original novel, and hasn’t looked back since.

Social Media Links:

Blog/Website

Facebook Author Page

Facebook Group – Helen Juliet Books  

Twitter

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of five copies of A Ballad of Confetti, Cake and Catastrophes with swag.

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Release Blitz Schedule

WITHOUT A COMPASS SCHEDULE

August 24

Bookaholic & KindleTangents and TissuesDrops of Ink, Making it Happen

Diverse ReaderLouise LyonsLily G. Blunt 

August 25

Kimmers’ Erotic Book BanterThe Way She Reads

Love Unchained Book Reviews,

Millsy Loves BooksWe Three Queens, My Fiction Nook

August 26

Follow the ReaderSmokin’ Hot Reads Book BlogBayou Book Junkie

Sur l’étagère,  Gay Book ReviewsWe Like It Big Book Blog,

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue WordsValerie Ullmer

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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Release Blitz for IT COULD HAPPEN by Mia Kerick (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: It Could Happen
Author: Mia Kerick
Release Date: June 5th 2017
Genre: New Adult, MMM Romance

It Could Happen

BLURB

Three misfits, mismatched in every way—Henry Perkins, Brody Decker, and Danny Denisco—have been friends throughout high school. Now in their senior year, the boys realize their relationship is changing, that they’re falling in love. But they face opposition at every turn—from outside and from within themselves. Moving to the next level will take all the courage, understanding, and commitment they can muster. But it could happen.

Henry is a star athlete and the son of religious parents who have little concern for the future he wants. Brody is a quirky dreamer and adrenaline junkie, and Danny is an emo artist and the target of bullies. Despite their differences they’ve always had each other’s backs, and with each of them facing a new and unique set of challenges, that support is more important than ever. Is it worth risking the friendship they all depend on for the physical and romantic relationship they all desire?

In this unconventional new adult romance, three gay teens brave societal backlash—as well as the chance that they might lose their treasured friendship—to embark on a committed polyamorous relationship.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK | DSP (ebook) | DSP (paperback)

Find It Could Happen on Goodreads

EXCERPT

That was when Henry forgot all about keeping quiet, jerked at the door handle like a madman, and yelled, “Let us in! Let us in!”

It was like a miracle when the door slowly swung open. Danny stood in front of us wearing this strange, old-fashioned, white-nightgown thing he must have found at a thrift shop, because they sure don’t sell them at the outlet mall where I shop. If he were clutching a candleholder, he would have looked like an orphan in a Dickens’ novel. Danny’s fine black hair was rumpled and stuck to his head, and, like Henry said, his eyes were both blackened and swollen. His bottom lip was puffy too.

“What the fuck?” Henry didn’t shout it. He just asked. Then he rushed to Danny and hugged him. I couldn’t see Danny at all because he was swallowed up in Henry’s embrace, so I used the time to collect myself. I’m the one who’s supposed to keep my act together. I swallowed over and over until the lump in my throat went away, and when Henry finally let Danny go, I closed the door and told them to sit down on the bed.

Danny was oddly obedient. He took Henry’s arm and led him to the bed. While they pushed back the rumpled sheet and blankets and sat down, I stood in front of them and asked, “What happened to you, Danny?”

He said, “Nothing,” flopped back on the bed, and pulled a pillow over his head.

So I asked again, “What happened to your face?”

The pillow muffled Danny’s voice, but it sounded like he said, “It’s not just my face.” Henry reached down and pulled the nightgown up to Danny’s knees. His legs were covered in cuts and bruises, as though he’d been kicked in the shins too many times to count.

“I’m gonna fuckin’ kill him.” I think Henry was the one to say this, but it could as easily have been me.

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About the Author

Mia

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—a daughter in law school, another in dance school, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She writes LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-four years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on emotional growth in turbulent relationships. As she has a great affinity for the tortured hero, there is, at minimum, one in each book. As a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of said tortured heroes (most of whom happened to strongly resemble lead vocalists of 1980s big-hair bands) and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to Dreamspinner Press and Harmony Ink Press for providing alternate places to stash her stories.

Her books have won a Best YA Lesbian Rainbow Award, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia is a Progressive, a little bit too obsessed by politics, and cheers for each and every victory in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology.

Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com. Visit her website for updates on what is going on in Mia’s world, rants, music, parties, and pictures, and maybe even a little bit of inspiration.

Links: Facebook | Twitter

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Christi Snow on Romancing St. Louis and her latest release “Believe in the Wish’ (guest blog and giveaway)

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Title:  Believe in the Wish

Author: Christi Snow

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: May 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: ~55,000 words

Genre: New Adult, enemies to lovers, forbidden love, twins, contemporary romance, mourning death

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Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Christi Snow here today talking about her latest novel, Believe in the Wish. Welcome, Christi.

✒︎

Romancing St. Louis by Christi Snow

I try to write most of my books in places that I’m familiar with, even though I may use made up town names…i.e. Snowcroft is based on a real New Mexico mountain tourist town where we lived when we were first married (many, many moons ago), but that wasn’t the name of it.

For Believe in the Wish, I chose to put the characters in St. Louis, specifically a cross between two of my favorite towns that are suburbs of St. Louis… Kirkwood and St. Charles. I love Kirkwood because it’s filled with the old, big houses like you see in Meet Me In St. Louis. It’s not hard to imagine the carriages driving down some of the roads in that modern-day quaint little town.

Although none of these huge mansions make an appearance in Believe in the Wish, the entire picturesque quality and cozy ambiance of the town does.

Before we moved to Texas when my husband retired from the military, we lived in another suburb of St. Louis…Belleville, Illinois. Our entire family fell in love with St. Louis. 

St. Louis is one of those perfect cities. It has tons of history…the Lewis and Clark expedition came through there, but the Mississippi has been a major waterway for this country the entire time people have lived here. 

When we lived there, they had pro football (Rams, who have since moved), pro hockey (St. Louis Blues), AND pro baseball teams (St. Louis Cardinals). It’s also the home of Budweiser, which means when friends and family come to town, you can go tour the plant and drink free beer. Double win. The same goes for kids theme parks like Grant’s Farm…seriously all kids parks like this should offer free ice-cold beer to parents.

St. Louis is a major city with all the amenities that go with it, but it never felt overwhelming or huge when we visited it. We regularly went into the city…for shopping, entertainment, festivals, and activities. We truly loved it there.

So when it came time for this book, St. Louis was an easy fit for location. Plus it offered lots of options for the tasks that Emma left Ethan and Hawk to do. 

My favorite scene is the two of them going up the Arch. Not only is that scene pivotal to the story…hello, first kiss…but it’s simply fun, because the Arch and the ability to travel up it is something unique to St. Louis. And I promise you, once you’ve gone on that little, weird roller coaster ride up the inside, you will never forget it. There are videos on YouTube about riding the tiny cars up to the top. It’s wild…and yes, sometimes a bit eerie and scary, but it’s an experience everyone should have.

I hope that you see a bit of the city I loved through this book, Believe in the Wish. While the romance is most definitely the focus, I thought the romance of St. Louis provided the perfect backdrop for two of my favorite men and their guardian angel.

Synopsis

I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago. Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.

It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.

She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.

There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.

I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

This is a stand-alone male/male contemporary romance novel.

Excerpt

Katya ended her call and promptly pushed the ‘away’ button for receiving phone calls. “I’m sorry. No more calls. They may not think so, but they can survive without me for an hour or so while we have our chat.”

Ethan’s stomach rolled over. That brought them to the question of the hour…chat about what? But he was almost afraid to ask at this point. Instead, he redirected. “Do you have your own firm, or do you work for someone else?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, but with a slight tilt of her head she must have seen something in his expression because she answered, “I own my own firm. When I graduated from law school, I went into a partnership that was later dissolved when I bought my partner out. It’s all mine now, which keeps me very busy.”

He grimaced. “And that’s further complicated by hermits like me who refuse to answer phone calls or mail deliveries. Sorry about that.”

“No.” She shook her head. “It’s time for you to stop apologizing. This is a hard time for you and that’s okay. To a certain extent, that’s the way it should be…”

She hesitated for a moment. “At least for a little while. You’re allowed to grieve. But Emma knew this would be an issue for you, so she made plans.”

“What kind of plans?”

Katya reached into her briefcase and pulled out a file. She reached inside and pulled out an envelope that she handed to him. On the front was his name, written in Emma’s handwriting. Suddenly it was hard to breathe.

“What is this?” he whispered.

“The first of your instructions. You need to open and read it.”

He didn’t want to. He didn’t know why, but he really didn’t want to. “I’d rather wait until I’m at home.” At his house, if he fell apart, he could do it without witnesses.

She shook her head kindly. “No, that won’t work. She was very specific in how she wanted this all to go. I need you to open it now.”

Ethan swallowed against the huge lump in his throat as he tried to find air to breathe. His heart pounded in his chest. Surely, everyone around them could hear that.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I promise.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” He glanced up at her. “It’s never going to be okay again.” His voice cracked.

She lowered her lids, and her lips compressed into a tight line as if his grief was too much for her.

His hands shook as he turned the envelope over, lifting the sealed flap. It had to be his imagination, but he could have sworn that he smelled a faint whiff of the strawberry lotion Emma always liked to wear.

For just a moment, he shut his eyes and tried to calm down his emotions going haywire. He didn’t know whether to be angry that she’d done this to him, sad that she wasn’t here to tell him whatever information this letter held, or scared at whatever Emma had cooked up for him.

Throughout her life, she’d kept him hopping. As the exuberant, outgoing twin, she’d always dragged him into trouble when all he’d wanted to do was stay home. In that regard, this whole scheme of hers was very apropos.

He took a deep breath and pulled out the single sheet of paper and unfolded it. At the very first words on the paper, his eyes filled with tears.

Happy Birthday, baby brother.

He glanced up in disbelief at Katya. “It’s May fifteenth?”

At her silent nod, he gazed down at the paper in his hands, his eyes filling with tears. It was their twenty-fifth birthday. The first birthday he’d ever celebrated without her. She’d only been twenty-four when she’d died. How unfair was that? To her. To him. To the world that missed out on everything she had to offer it.
Emma’s handwriting wavered in front of his eyes, but he continued to read, not knowing what else to do. His other option—sobbing in the middle of the restaurant—would be mortifying.

I’m sorry I’m not there to go out partying with you. Remember when we were little and you didn’t want to share your birthday with me? Now you get your wish.

He’d been a horrible person. The tears overflowed his eyes. He’d made that wish more years than he even wanted to remember. How selfish was that? How could he have wished for a life without her in any way? She’d been his light.

Katya shoved a tissue into his hand.

Right. He was in public. Time to get it together.

My bad. It was probably too soon for a joke like that.

I love you, Ethan.

I know I didn’t say that enough—you know emotional displays and I didn’t mix—but beyond anything else that happens over the next few weeks, KNOW THAT. I love you, and if I could have figured out a way to stay, I would have…for you.

But God obviously had different plans for me, so now I’ll just have to content myself with being your guardian angel for the next seventy-five years. I’ll have your back, bro. I promise.

And in the interest of having your back, that’s why Katya is here.

I know you. You’re stubborn, and right now, I imagine that you’re more than a little sad. I get that, but that doesn’t mean you stop living. My death means you have to live twice as much because you have to do it enough for both of us. I’m counting on you.

But, again, I know you, so I’ve enlisted some help from my friends just to get you going.

Make a Wish, Ethan. Believe in it. It’s time to live.

~Emma

When Ethan finished reading, he took several deep breaths. The sobs had welled in his throat, and it was all he could just to hold them inside.

“You okay?” Katya asked.

“Yeah.” His voice sounded husky, but he’d managed to say the word, so he figured that for a win.

“Then it’s time for step two.”

He looked up just as she held a flaming lighter to the candle on top of a cupcake. She pushed it in front of him. “Make a wish and blow. All you have to do is believe.”

As he sat there, looking at the flickering candle, it occurred to him at just how sad this was. His twin was dead, and he was at some bizarre birthday celebration with someone he’d never even met before. Even from the grave, Emma was working to pull him out of his shell.

So he closed his eyes and blew as he made his wish.

I wish I wasn’t so alone.

But when he opened them, nothing had changed. He was still sitting in a restaurant with a woman he didn’t know, mourning the twin sister who’d died. Not that he expected a miracle, but Emma wanted him to believe.

Believe.

How was that even possible? She’d been the one who believed in the magic of things like wishes and fairy tales. What had that gotten her? She’d died before she’d even had the chance to live. What kind of magic could he possibly believe in with that kind of reality?

Purchase

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

As an avid reader her entire life, Christi Snow always dreamed of writing books that brought to others the kind of joy she felt when she read. But…she never did anything about it besides jot down a few ideas and sparse scenes.

When she turned 41, she decided it was time to go after her dream and started writing. Within four months, she’d written over 150,000 words and hasn’t stopped since.

She’s found her calling by writing about sexy, alpha heroes and smart, tough heroines falling in love and finding their passion. She’s truly living the dream and loving every minute of it.

Her tagline is… Passion and adventure on the road to Happily Ever After. She’s loving this adventure!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram

Tour Schedule

5/11 ~ Hearts on Fire Reviews

5/11 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/12 ~ MM Good Book Reviews

5/13 ~ Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

5/14 ~ Dog-Eared Daydreams

5/15 ~ Happily Ever Chapter

5/16 ~ Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

5/16 ~ MM Book Escape

5/17 ~ Book Reviews Janisf & Leisha

5/17 ~ BFD Book Blog

5/18 ~ Dirty Books Obsession

5/19 ~ Reviews for Book Lovers

5/19 ~ Love Bytes Reviews

5/20 ~ Bayou Book Junkie

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A MelanieM Review: Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt #2) by Heidi Cullinan

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

The Roosevelt series by Heidi Cullinan is unusual and quite wonderful to begin with. It’s about young men whose disabilities don’t allow them to live and mostly function in the “mean’, the normal world.  It’s almost guaranteed to make some people uncomfortable enough to not want to pick the books up and read them.  If so, they would be missing out on an astonishing jewel of a series and characters, no people so memorable and heroic I’ve already read this story twice.

The Roosevelt is a special needs living facility, home to Emmet Washington, a highly functioning autistic young man and his boyfriend Jeremey, who has severe anxiety and depression disorders, along with other disabled young adults.  The story alternates between Emmet’s and Jeremey’s pov, a powerful framework.  Cullinan’s strong and moving narrative allows you to delve into each young man’s mind and see how they live with their disabilities, how it affects speech, thinking and even emotions and connectivity to each other.  The commonplace adjustments they make, not only between themselves, but for others within The Roosevelt and visiting friends (this includes making signs that say “silent communication going on”),  well,  time and again, I found my  own preconceptions needing swift readjustments as I was swept more deeply into Emmet and Jeremey’s story and relationship.

There is so much to this  story that the author fits in, easily I must say, that enriches both the characters lives and the story, while letting the narrative progress and flow forward effortlessly.  I found myself learning about service dogs and sensory sacks, about ball pits and great companies but mostly I learned about love, the power of love from Emmet and Jeremey.  Oh, and The Roosevelt Blues Brothers!  I really wish somehow Heidi Cullinan had come up with a pic for that!

Such an extraordinary love story.  Honestly, I think this review is a failing me because I really don’t have the  words I’m searching for to describe how this book made me feel.  The laughter, the tears I shed, the hope it left me with, all the reassessing I’m doing about my preconceived thoughts about disabilities and group homes.  This book shook me up in a good way, in the way books should.

The story starts off with Emmet telling the reader that he accomplished his goals and this is the story of how he did it.  So right away, the tone is one of incredible hope.  That hope carries you through the book, even when things look realistically painful and down, right through to that heartwarming ending. For me, this story is well, perfect in its own way, right up to the title, Shelter the Sea, something that Emmet wants to do. How that works out?  Well, this is a book you should read to find out.  Its one of my Best of 2017.

Cover art is gorgeous and so pertinent to the story.  I love it.

Sales Links

Amazon US, Amazon UK, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, Kobo,  Smashwords

 

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 190 pages
Published April 18th 2017 by Heidi Cullinan
Original TitleShelter the Sea
ASINB06XYT6SNL
Edition LanguageEnglish
URL http://www.heidicullinan.com/shelterthesea
Series The Roosevelt #2
setting Iowa (United States)

Francis Gideon on Tattoos and Transitions and their release Hopeless Romantic (guest blog and giveaway)

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Hopeless Romantic by Francis Gideon
R
iptide Publishing
Cover by: Vivian Ng

Read an Excerpt/Purchase it Here

✒︎

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Francis Gideon here today on tour for their new release, Hopeless Romantic.  Welcome, Francis!

📚

Hello everyone! I’m Francis Gideon and I’m touring for my new release Hopeless Romantic, a trans rom-com of sorts. Follow along this week as I talk about all thinks romantic comedy, trans identity, and being pretty in pink! I’m looking forward to sharing some serious 1980s nostalgia; be sure to comment with your own bit of nostalgia for a $10 giveaway for Riptide publishing.

Tattoos and Transitions

In an earlier post on my blog tour, I talked about how Nick and Katie–the main love interests in Hopeless Romantic–are kind of like my partner and I. One of the major differences in that regard, though, is that my partner has zero tattoos and I have all of them.

When Nick first meets Katie, he doesn’t quite notice her tattoos because her jacket hides most of them. As the story goes on, and of course as they become more familiar with one another minus clothing, he starts to see just how many she has. Katie is covered in tattoos, and many of them, like my own, mark different stages in her gender identity realization and her transition. Her ‘shitty’ butterfly tattoo on her shoulder represents this the most since the butterfly is often used to describe transition itself; starting out in a cocoon and blooming into something more. But as Katie points out to Nick, that idea is old and outdated, and kinda shitty just like her tattoo. She doesn’t view herself as a butterfly anymore, because it implies that she must wait in order to be beautiful, when in reality, she’s beautiful how she is now. Her tattoos after that point become a way to rebel against the standards of beauty that trans women are often forced to comply with. And of course, Nick finds them beautiful–like her.

I’m not a trans woman like Katie, but nonbinary, so my tattoos communicate slightly different things, but they are definitely a record of my transition. I have two tattoos of Artemis and Orion on my lower back, sketched from woodcuts of the Greek Gods, as a way to communicate a dual my gender identity; I also have a series of tarot cards that represent part of my coming to terms with not transitioning medically (so in many ways, my tattoos here became my transition), and I have several other smaller tattoos that marked particular salient moments–like a boy from a children’s book and a grandfather clock.

Both of those last tattoos are on my inner arm. My tattoo artist told me that what we get on our inner arms is what we most want to protect. So to me, those two tattoos represent the parts of my trans identity that I wanted to keep the most: childhood nostalgia in the kids’ book, and my future legacy–since the clock was an inheritance gift in my family.

For Nick, his only tattoo is his inner arm–and it’s a heart with the city of Toronto inside of it. To him, that’s his legacy and his future. Though he lives and works in a town two hours away from Toronto, the Toronto community is where he got his first degree, where he met his friends, and where he found himself. It’s also where he first kisses Katie, and so the city–and his love for her–become intertwined.

About Hopeless Romantic

Nick Fraser is a true romantic. He wants the guy instead of the girl, but other than that, he wants everything his favorite rom-coms depict: the courtship, the passionate first kiss, the fairy-tale wedding. But after breaking up with the love of his life, Nick wonders if anything fairy-tale will ever happen for him.

Then he meets Katie, who’s just like a rom-com heroine. She’s sharp, funny, sweet, and as into music and punk culture as Nick is. What’s more, he’s incredibly attracted to her—even though she’s a woman. Nick has never considered that he might be bisexual, but his feelings for Katie are definitely real.

When Katie reveals that she’s transgender, Nick starts to see how much he doesn’t understand about the world, queer identity, and himself. He is hopelessly in love with Katie, but this isn’t a fairy tale, and Nick’s friends and family may not accept his new relationship. If he wants it all, he has to have the courage to make his fantasy a reality.

Now available from Riptide Publishing

About Francis Gideon

Francis Gideon is a nonbinary writer who dabbles in romance, mystery, fantasy, historical, and paranormal genres. Francis credits music, along with being an only child to a single mother, as why they write so much now. Long nights at home were either spent memorizing lyrics to pop-punk bands or reading voraciously. Add a couple of formative experiences in university, a network of weird artist friends, and after years of writing stories Francis never showed to anyone, they now have books to their name.

After receiving an MA in English literature, Francis wanted to do something a bit more fun. They soon found the LGBTQ romance community and fell in love on the spot. Since then, Francis has attempted to balance writing romances with as many different types of couples as possible while also attending school for their PhD. When not writing fiction or teaching university classes, Francis works on scholarly articles on everything from character deaths in the TV show Hannibal, the online archive of Canadian poet and artist P.K. Page, and transgender representation on YouTube. Francis is a middle name, used to keep students from Googling their teacher and asking far too many questions.

Francis lives in Canada with their partner, Travis, where they often spend nights disagreeing about what TV show to watch and making bad puns whenever possible. Travis receives dedications in Francis’s novels because he tolerates Francis’s long hours and listens to random story ideas late into the night. Francis also might be a bit of a hopeless romantic—as if you didn’t already guess.

Connect with Francis:

Giveaway

To celebrate the release of Hopeless Romantic, one lucky winner will receive a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on April 15, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Join Us for the Release Day Blitz for Justin’s Season by S. M. Sawyer (excerpt)

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Title:  Justin’s Season

Author: S. M. Sawyer

Publisher: Ninestar Press

Release Date: August 6, 2016 (print), February 29, 2016 (e-book)

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 101,300 words

Genre: New Adult, historical fiction, redemption, destiny, acceptance, sports, coming out, interconnected, small town, flashback, AIDS

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

The year is 1988, and Justin Davis, a former nationally recruited football prep star, awakens from twelve years of masking his shame with drugs and alcohol to find he has been returned to his former self through what can only be described as a miracle.
Triggered by the confirmation of his closely guarded sexual orientation, his fall from grace of over a decade before sets the stage for his redemption. The fulfillment of his destiny is prompted by Providence and the serendipitous deeds of those who are a part of his new life, as their intertwined lives are likewise impacted. Though his rapid evolvement and acceptance of his homosexuality is countered by setbacks, Justin perseveres and eventually triumphs as fate, he believes, has led him back to the sports arena to recapture past glories.
In a stunning finale, however, he learns his destiny is not what he had envisioned. His calling has been thrust upon him by circumstances beyond his control. Can Justin embrace it and become the man he was always meant to be?

Excerpt

A sliver of light from the early morning sun came through an exposed slit of the basement window blind, creeping its way against the wall until it came to rest upon Justin’s eyes. He lay sleeping in a jumbled mass of musty blankets on an old steel-framed bed. After a few moments of the sun’s focused rays beckoning him to awaken, he flinched and turned his head away, and then rolled onto his left side toward a dark corner in a vain attempt to deny the day’s arrival.

For Justin, it had been another long night, and the reminder of a new day came with a reluctant anticipation akin to that of a prisoner serving a life sentence without a chance for parole. He lay there motionless, holding the sheets close to his chin as he gazed upon an iconic black-and-white poster of James Dean. The actor walked down a puddled street with a cigarette between his lips, hands in his coat pockets, and his collar turned up to keep the cold and drizzle at bay. Marching down the Boulevard of Broken Dreams and into immortality.

Though it had been hanging on the wall for fifteen years, Justin, enjoying a rare and lucid moment of circumspection, studied the poster in silence as if he were looking at it for the first time. You did it right, Mr. Dean, he thought. You died early…frozen in time. Leaving everyone wanting more. Never having to answer for life’s failings.

The unwelcome light from the sun continued to fill the room, exposing the remnants of Justin’s life before the troubles. Dusty citations, press clippings, photographs, scholarship offer letters, and trophies from his high school years. Collected over a decade before, they now served as the remaining threads that connected to past glories.

This is what happens, isn’t it? You peak early and get a little cocky that you’re in control, and instead of leaving on top, you live long enough to mutate into some bad apple that people use to warn their kids. “Don’t get too full of yourself or you’ll turn out like Justin Davis.” That’s right…I’m not remembered for what I was and what I should have been. It’s easier for voyeurs to whisper among themselves about the broken, washed-up, slow-motion train wreck I’ve become—how I let my charmed life slip away.

Justin sat up and swung his legs over as if getting out of bed, but stayed sitting there to give his head time to clear from another all-night bender and to gain a semblance of balance before stepping onto the cold cement floor. His still imposing six-foot-four-inch body, an inch taller than in his high school days, was out of shape and bloated. It served as a metaphor for everything else his life had become, contrary to the Greek god physique he’d had when he was seemingly in total charge of his life and circumstances.

His blond hair was long and greasy, and his face contorted by the miseries of daily self-flagellation through alcohol, drugs, and slovenly habits. His tongue felt thick and dry, and his eyes appeared as if seared on an iron skillet. He did his best to gather whatever strength remained to get up and to live what had become his own recurring Groundhog Day. He wanted water to quench his alcohol-induced thirst and to be bathed by a sympathetic and nonjudgmental geisha, washing away impurities and regret. But again he thought of sleep and of beckoning the dreams to reacquaint him with his previous life. He eased his head onto the pillow with hopes that sleep would allow him to wander back to his senior year in high school—to a time when he was admired by all and treated as the town’s favorite son.

Justin Davis was the class hero and the most likely to succeed. He had excelled at everything—sports, scholastics, popularity—and as the top quarterback recruit in the nation he received offers from scores of college football powerhouses representing the Big Ten and other major conferences. Why then, he continually asked himself, had he let his guard down—putting everything on the line and seeking confirmation from strangers?

Throughout his life he had felt that guardian angels were with him, but they’d abandoned him when he needed them most, so they could steward over someone more deserving…someone who wouldn’t risk all for a taste of what he had been brought up to consider the forbidden fruit. He couldn’t explain it, but life’s confusions made him feel that he no longer fit the role his angels had paved for him. That maybe he’d had a hand in sabotaging it before it went too far; a secret he kept hidden from himself and others with the aid of any mind-numbing substance he could get his hands on.

With his room in the basement of his brother’s home now bathed in full light, Justin drifted back to sleep, and from his sleep he could hear the marching band and cheers from the packed stadium as he led his team, charging onto the field through the gauntlet of cheerleaders. In reliving the moment, he managed a slight smile as his dreams took him back twelve years to the fall of 1976 and the sound of the PA system announcing the starting teams for the state of Ohio’s high school football championship game.

And as the dreams continued and the light of the sun streamed through the basement’s walk-out French door and remaining windows, Justin subconsciously felt a strange and unique sensation upon his dormant soul. The feeling of his angels returning to envelop his body like fresh snow on a blemished landscape—lovingly transforming his unkempt and damaged being. They had come to caress and heal his body and spirit, and renew his faith to trust what lay ahead.

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Meet the Author

S. M. Sawyer is a retired military officer. He has also served as a defense contractor and as President for a nationally accredited charity whose mission is to recognize exceptional maritime rescues and assist voluntary search and rescue organizations worldwide. He lives in Virginia with his wife, Natalie. They have five grown children. Justin’s Season is his debut literary effort.

Find S.M. on Facebook or send him an eMail

 

 

 

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