A Lucy Review: Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger

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Rated 4 stars out of 5

Max comes from a family of Naval officers and he wants nothing more than to continue that legacy and join the Navy.  In reality, he’s bullied so often and so badly at school that now all he wants is to make it out of there alive.  When his mother’s fiancé, Aunt Donna, decides enough is enough after Max is kicked so hard in the head by a bully that he ends up in the hospital she calls in a favor and gets Max set up with Muay Thai boxing classes.  Aunt Donna knows what she is talking about, being a victim of bashing herself.  While Max is against this with all the power a 15-year-old can muster, Aunt Donna has made it very clear that without the classes Max will lose out on the job in her shop and will need to continue two more years of school.  He’s stuck.  So he sucks it up and goes.  He’s mortified, because being overweight makes physical things difficult and even worse, Max is confronted with his first real crush, his sparring partner and the nephew of his boxing coach, Cian. 

Cian is fearless, fearsome, blunt and bold.  I loved him, even as I knew what it must have taken for him to get to that attitude.  He is fit and in amazing shape but he never makes Max feel like he is anything less than worthy of being there.  Lewis, the coach, is the same.  Aunt Donna had shared the reason behind Max needing the lessons but there is no pity here, just acceptance that this is who you are and Muay Thai is what you are there to do.   Beautiful sparring partner?  Bonus both in embarrassment factor and joy factor.

Where even to begin with this.   We start off right away with a serious attack on Max.  The bullying was so difficult to read, more so because you know that there are so many kids out there going through the same thing,  whether for being overweight, gay, too smart, not smart enough – just anything that makes them different.   In Matthew’s case,  the bullying has resulted in some serious self-loathing, which again, I found to be realistic.   He’s come to be ashamed of who he is because of those angry, bigoted classmates.  It was heartbreaking.  Now, since he was actually put in the hospital by the bullies, Aunt Donna has had enough.   She can come across as too blunt sometimes, but she is all about having that boy’s back and making sure he knows how to defend himself so that he won’t have to.  I also appreciated that while Mom had married and loved Max’s dad, the fact that she was now in love and marrying a woman wasn’t a huge deal – it was just mom in love. 

When he realizes Cian is who he’s working with, you can feel the conflicting emotions from him.  Here’s this amazing person, badass, fit, tough, who is about to see him be physical and sweaty.  You have to remember also – this is a YA book.  Max is fifteen.  It’s been quite a while since I was fifteen but the shadows of those years never leaves you and that clawing need to be part of something, to not stand out in case you are the focus of something negative, stays.  It was one of the reasons I was so happy to see Max progress from the thoughts of “useless lump” to a badass in his own right who knows when to elbow jab to defend himself.  He has the most negative thoughts about himself and has no confidence that he can do what he sets out to do. 

While some of his better view can be attributed to his new friend in Cian (and that takes a while) more of it is due to the martial arts and how knowing you can keep yourself safe will improve your confidence.  And Lewis.  “You could really be something, Max,” Lewis said quietly, “and the only person standing in the way is you.”  Max has spent so much time being put down and belittled that it’s hard to believe anything else.   

Cian – let’s just give him a shout out now.  He’s been through things just like Max has and has come out confident and showing exactly what he needs to.   “If you ever call me anything but a boy, or he, or him, or call those facts into question, I’ll hit you.”    His conversation with Cian about grappling really just hurt my heart.  And Cian’s response to it, “When you strip away the self-loathing….There’s somebody beautiful.  Right. Here.”   Ahh, it was a catch your breath moment.  The romance here is between teenagers and it was true to that – I didn’t feel these were older adults talking and just giving lip service to being in high school.

Things, of course, aren’t just easy after that because there are still nasty people in the world who get even nastier when they face consequences for what they have done.  The retaliation from the evil three bullies, especially Tom, was awful and I kept thinking, will it ever stop for this boy?  Max has the support of adults, including his teacher Mrs Pellow, but that isn’t enough to avoid it.  So when he finally has had enough, I wanted to stand up and cheer.   The epilogue was sweet and I enjoyed it, but the end of the chapter before was, in my head, perfection.  Way to go, Big Guy.

The cover art by Natasha Snow doesn’t give you a visual of Max or Cian and I liked that.  It is instead a beautiful view of the water with footsteps leading to the edge.  I read a lot into that cover.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608381
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Big Man by Matthew J. Metzger

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Max Farrier wanted to follow in the family footsteps and join the Navy once, but he’s better off focusing on just surviving his last year of school and going to work in Aunt Donna’s shop once it’s over.

After an incident at school puts Max in the hospital, Aunt Donna’s had enough. She signs him up for private lessons at a Muay Thai gym. Boxing—she says—will change everything.

But it’s not boxing that starts to poke holes in Max’s stupor—it’s his sparring partner. Cian is fifty percent mouth, fifty percent attitude, and isn’t afraid to go toe-to-toe with a bully in the street. Cian takes what he wants, and doesn’t let anyone stand in his way—not even himself.

Big Man is my first novel by Matthew J. Metzger that I can find.  It will definitely not be my last.  Big Man is an incredibly moving, deeply impactful story.  It recounts one young man’s journey from a state of intense poor self esteem, wanting to hide within the walls of his home due to bullying and his body hatred, to one of happiness, pride, and ability to move forward in life.

It is not always an easy story, especially since the voice is Max’s and as we meet him he’s a beleaguered young man under attack at school.  The bullies there are relentless, having just put him into the hospital again.  The reader gets the raw account of this very attack right down to the moment he blacks out from Max’s perspective and it so painful.  Trust me when I say parts of this book are very difficult to read as it must be for those who are actually bullied.  You can actually feel Max’s fear when those three boys approach him.  It’s visceral in its ability to churn your stomach and his.

You see Max is a big, gentle man. Read that to be obese as well as large period.  He’s called Fatso Farrier at school by the bullies and that name has become ingrained in his mind and soul to the point he can’t move past it.  There are other major transitions as well in his life.  His beloved grandfather, who stood in for his dad who died with he was a toddler, has passed.  They recently moved into his ‘Aunt Donna’s’ house. His mother is happily remarrying… his ‘Aunt Donna’ (not that he has a problem with that, he doesn’t), and he needs to decide his future if he is going back to school for 2 more years.  So much on Max at the moment that he’s caught in stasis.

I’m debating saying more here because later in the story so much becomes clear to Max and to the reader at an important juncture.  If you are familiar with people fighting with  poor body image and/or issues with weight, some may be aware of some of the emotional factors that go along with them.  Here those factors are gently clued in, one by one until finally we get the entire package that is Max Farrier, past, present and, yes, future.

I will say that the author seems familiar with these issues and treats Max with sensitivity and compassion while sort of coming at it sideways.  By that I mean, Max (and the reader) isn’t seeing the whole picture right up until the end.  We are Max.  We don’t notice things changing until others tell us.  It’s a format that works here beautifully.

One of the ‘people’ telling Max things?  His boyfriend Cian.  I have no intention of spoiling that wonderful aspect of this story. I’ll just say that character and storyline is an absolute joy. In fact, one of the things about this story is families. What makes a family, finding and creating families.  And the love that  binds them together.  This story is full of that.  Max survives because of that, and lives to become the person he was always meant to be. Someone magnificent.  A Big Man.  Don’t miss out on this story.  It’s heartbreakingly wonderful in all the best ways.

Yes, it’s one I highly recommend.

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  The  ocean is an important element for Max and the story but I wish somehow the cover was different to reflect how amazing this novel was.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 210 pages
Published April 9th 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608381
Edition LanguageEnglish

Kevin Klehr on his character Connor and his new release Social Media Central (author guest blog)

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Social Media Central by Kevin Klehr
NineStar Press

Release Date:  April 9, 2018
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

 

Buy Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to have Kevin Klehr here today  talking about Social Media Central! Welcome, Kevin!

 

 

INTRODUCING CONNOR – PHOTOGRAPHER AND TROUBLEMAKER

KEVIN KLEHR

 

Connor is smart, so it makes him the perfect troublemaker to get under the skin of the government in my new sci-fi novel, Social Media Central. He is also one of the social media socialites in Astra City, a place where hardly anyone ventures outside because they live their lives in front of a screen.

Connor spends most of his time as the official photographer at the parties he, along with fashion blogger, Madeline Q, and love blogger, Shaun, throw for guests seeking fame on Social Media Central. Uploading a photo from one of these events is sure to help you gain many followers, although nowhere near as many as Connor, Shaun or Madeline Q.

This socialite photographer also knows what’s wrong with the society he lives in and through his fame, challenges the status quo. But he has no idea how much danger he puts himself and his friends in once he criticises the government.

Connor is also gay, but he’s not someone who’s confident enough to stroll up to a charismatic guy and flirt, even with his high social standing. And he’d rather let his photos tell a story once they’re uploaded – it’s just not his story he’s telling.

The novel is actually told through the eyes of Tayler, a loner geek who doesn’t log onto the all-knowing all-seeing social platform. Through a chance meeting with Madeline Q he is thrust into the world of the socialites, finding his own star rising once he hangs around his new associates. But it’s Tayler who has to deal with the dangers posed by Connor’s rebellious actions.

I began writing this novel back in 2015. I know that’s not long ago but much has changed with online media in that short space of time. Small things like live video on Facebook and Twitter are taken for granted now, yet when I wrote the concept of streaming live in this book they were not yet introduced.

But what I find more interesting is the lack of real issues being discussed on Facebook, at least on my feed anyway. A friend admitted she no longer writes about politics as she often ends up in debates she wasn’t expecting. Another person I’ve unfriended complained when I shared a political post. Yet, Facebook was one of the platforms these discussions used to take place on. I know everyone’s personal algorithm is different but I’m going from my online experience.

In a way, Social Media Central is about how the medium has become a celebration of the mundane (cat videos etc.), and how a future society may look that is more influenced by social status and seeking validation, than keeping perspective on what’s going on in the real world.

That’s why Connor, as a character, is important to this story. He is the over thinker that tries to bring balance back to Astra City.

Website – www.kevinklehr.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/DramaQueensWithLoveScenes

Twitter – https://twitter.com/kevinklehr

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/klehrkevin/

Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4298144.Kevin_Klehr

Social Media Central – trailer – https://youtu.be/__cxd3lNadY

                                                           https://vimeo.com/259627648

 

 

 

New Release Blitz: Midnight Twist by Rian Durant (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Midnight Twist

Author: Rian Durant

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018U

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19700

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, fantasy, humor, demons

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Synopsis

Jaydon can’t afford to lose a bet he’s made, so when the sweet as sin Eluin offers him The Contract, it may be exactly what he needs. Or is it? Things get a little twisted with the cheeky demon being around.

The number of demons in Jaydon’s apartment grows, with Eluin’s big brother Eluel and his wayward lover Sam showing up. The couple is at a breaking point in their own on/off relationship and this time getting back together seems as probable as hell freezing over.

Excerpt

Midnight Twist
Rian Durant © 2018
All Rights Reserved

It all started with an espresso machine, even though I’d seen him drinking espresso only once in all the time we knew each other. Then he complained for three days that he hadn’t tasted such swill in his whole life. The fact that I’d made it for him with all my love didn’t cause him to show an ounce of tact.

I felt in my gut it was a tremendous mistake to enter the mall, but even if I’d tried to avoid it, I doubt he would’ve taken my opinion into account. He would’ve thrown a temper tantrum of magnificent proportions, which wasn’t a pretty sight. I’d been a witness and a victim of such antics once, only it was in front of a restaurant, which I hadn’t dared come close to ever since.

The glowing look in his eyes while we passed by the shop windows made my heart sink, because I couldn’t afford most of the things he stared at, especially with the plans we had for the rest of the week. My lovely boyfriend possessed a seductive appearance and a good heart, but his perceptions were terribly distorted due to eighteen years of systematic spoiling at the hands of his parents. He used to reassure me this wasn’t going to come between us since he was madly in love with me, but he couldn’t be further from the truth. After the ironic remarks I had been subjected to in the past few weeks, I knew I wasn’t going to get away with it.

I didn’t want to lose him, but it was clear that if I didn’t overcome my financial issues, his love for me would vanish into thin air together with his rebellious spirit, and he’d settle with any of the “appropriate partners” his parents tried to match him with. Once, one of his father’s business tycoon friends with his three hot lovers landed in front of my door and pounced on me, obviously not familiar with the appearance of his intended chosen one. I led a fierce battle using all means possible, which ended up being the shoehorn lying next to the shoes at the front door, in order to preserve my honor. Things deteriorated when Lyte came out of the bathroom in his short, sexy bathrobe to check why I was wreaking such havoc. We had to barricade the door and listen to a serenade for more than an hour before the police came to take them away.

I turned to Lyte with a smile, intending to remind him of that time the tycoon came calling, but when I caught his hand, he didn’t react at all. He had already seen it. He gazed at the window with an oblivious smile, and then raised his finger and pointed at it. A second later he issued a brief statement with a determination I’d rarely heard in the voice of another human being.

“I want it!”

At first, I couldn’t understand what the item in question was, wavering between a weird CD player, a hat rack, or Darth Vader’s helmet. But when the price tag next to it caught my attention, I shivered.

“You want an espresso machine? What do you need it for, sweetheart?”

“It will look great in the kitchen, don’t you think? The color scheme is the same, and besides, it’s so fancy with all these buttons!” He clapped. “You are going to buy it for me, love, won’t you?”

“But you don’t even drink coffee, sweetie.”

“It doesn’t matter. I can make tea in it. I mean, I’m sure it has such a function.”

I was positive it had a TV-watching function at least, judging by the price, which caused me severe trauma. I tried to sound as gentle and as reasonable as I could.

“We can’t buy it now, dear.”

His amazing blue eyes shot a quick malicious look at me, and he pouted. “So it wasn’t enough for you to turn me into a housewife, was it? Now you refuse to buy me this little sweet espresso machine. Did I understand you correctly?”

I didn’t know why he was always harping on it, given that there wasn’t an ounce of truth in his accusation, unless lying on the sofa with the remote control all day long was termed housekeeping these days. If it wasn’t for me, we would’ve both been dead by now because of the weird things he tried to cook a few times right after he’d moved in with me. I hardly let him do anything around the house, as I preferred to leave him enough free time to study. Week in, week out, he’d go to class to sit for some exams. There was a time when I suspected he was taking them in another way, not fit for a mixed audience, but he finally succeeded in persuading me in the opposite by quoting the declaration of human rights by heart.

I looked at him with regret and repeated to myself he wasn’t guilty in the least. His parents had driven him to this state of mind. I tried to hug him, which, naturally, I was denied.

“Are you really going to be mad at me over some stupid espresso machine?”

“It is not stupid!” he snapped. “You are stupid.”

I laughed, hoping he was joking like he sometimes did, but this time it was different. I suppose this was the proverbial last drop, so when we got home, he locked himself in his room without giving any explanation. After about an hour, he came out dragging his big red suitcase behind him.

“Eh? Sweetie pie…”

He hissed in my face like a kitten deprived of its food, with an expression showing me that if I breathed a word, anything I said would be used against me as he stomped past me, out the front door, slamming it behind him. Apparently, he’d realized there were two alternatives to obtaining his beloved espresso machine. One was to go back to his family, and after an enlightening reprimand on how he shouldn’t choose penniless partners like me, they would give it to him as a present. The other was to use his infinite charm and extort some other idiot with enough money into buying it for him.

I could get a credit card and buy the accursed gadget, but his leaving was a mixed blessing. I might’ve gotten him back, but next week he could decide he couldn’t live without some other splendid invention of modern science, and I couldn’t count on giving in and buying him every single thing he set his heart on.

Part of me wanted him back, but another part insisted that walking away was the best thing he’d ever done for me. We’d had great moments together, especially in the beginning, but to be honest, I’d wondered whether it wasn’t better we called it a day. Exhausted by all the thoughts swarming inside my head, I went to bed. The most difficult part was sleeping alone under the cold sheets after having someone to cuddle with for such a long time.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Rian is one of those who are both blessed and cursed by the insatiable desire to write. Short stories, sometimes longer stories and yeah, primarily M/M (you can insert more Ms if you like) romance stories.

Always having a plot in mind sometimes proves being hard when having a day time job but Rian manages them both for the time being, assisted by the
priceless support of her soul mate, large amounts of coffee and pure obstinacy.

What makes Rian smile is a sunny day, a beautiful flower, a piece of chocolate, a nice song, a good book and anything that could be the reason for that spark in the eyes, accompanied by the exclamation: “Oh my, I just saw something!”

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

 

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New Release Blitz for On a Summer Night by Gabriel D. Vidrine (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  On a Summer Night

Author: Gabriel D. Vidrine

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56200

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, contemporary, YA, trans, bisexual, asexual, coming-of-age, coming out, family drama, HFN, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Fourteen-year-old Casey is determined to have fun this summer going to camp with his best friend, Ella. His overprotective mother frets that attending this one instead of trans camp like he’s always done will cause problems, but Casey has his heart set on going stealth anyway.

His mom just might be right.

All Ella wants is love for her best friend, and she’s determined to set him up with someone, despite Casey’s protests that he just wants to have fun, not get involved in a summer romance. But things get complicated when camp bully Ryan focuses his energies on the two friends. At least Casey’s cute bunkmate, Gavin, appears interested in getting to know him better, making Casey rethink the whole romance thing.

Until he finds out Gavin and Ryan are good friends.

Summer camp turns into so much more when Casey has to decide if Gavin is worth pursuing, friend of a bully or not.

There’s just one more problem: Ryan knows Casey is transgender.

Excerpt

On a Summer Night
Gabriel D. Vidrine © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“Do you have your socks?” my mother called up the stairs.

“Yes, mother!” I shouted back down at her. Of course I had socks. But I double-checked the large footlocker anyway, scrabbling through it until I found them. They were buried under my binders, but there they were.

“Don’t forget towels!” came another shout up the stairs.

She knew me well. I always forgot something. I went back to my bathroom and rummaged around in the linen closet until I found enough towels for the trip.

When I got back to my room, Mom was staring down into my trunk, her hands on her hips. “Anything else?” she asked, eyeing how much was in it.

“I hope not.”

I tossed the towels in the trunk, only to be crushed into a hug from her. “I’m going to miss you Casey,” she said into my hair.

I patted her awkwardly. She meant well, but ever since I announced my desire to transition two years ago when I turned twelve, she’d gotten super overprotective and clingy. “I’ll miss you too, Mom.” I did mean it, but it was going to be a relief to be away from her for almost two weeks. Even though I’d never been away from my parents that long before, not even at trans camp.

She squeezed me harder until I gasped and then let me go. “Are you sure you want to do this?”

“For the millionth time, yes,” I said, rolling my eyes.

“Okay. I’ll get your dad to get this down the stairs,” she said, and then she was gone in a whirl of brown hair and scarves.

I shook my head at her back and pulled out my phone to text my best friend, Ella.

Me: Almost ready. U?

I knew she wouldn’t answer right away (she actually hated her phone, the weirdo), so I nervously went through my list again to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything. I needed a distraction.

While I was rummaging, my dad, a big guy who had prematurely gone bald so he always wore an ugly hat, had lumbered up the stairs and was frowning down at my trunk. “Are you sure you need all that?” His voice was very deep.

“Yeah, Dad.” My phone buzzed in my pocket, but I ignored it. “It’s almost two weeks.”

“Twelve days,” he said.

“Yeah, I know.” I scratched at my head, slightly embarrassed to talk about my transition stuff with my dad. “I, you know, need some extra stuff.” I thought of the binders lying next to my socks.

He glanced at me and nodded, and then looked quickly away. He hadn’t been as supportive of my transition as my mom. When I first told him, he blurted, “But you’re a girl.”

We stood there in awkward silence for a moment as I wondered what I should say to him, father to son. But he hadn’t yet called me his son.

He cleared his throat, still not looking at me, and then crouched and heaved up the trunk onto a roller cart he’d carried up the stairs. It was going to be a pain getting it down on the cart, but at least he wouldn’t kill his back picking it up this way.

I helped him maneuver it down the stairs, wishing not for the first time I could start hormones. I wanted to be as strong as my dad, but I wasn’t old enough yet. Well, I was, but my parents wouldn’t approve it until I was sixteen. I figured Dad was the one holding out, because Mom would give me whatever I wanted.

Two more years.

When we finally got the trunk down the stairs, I pulled my phone out. Ella had texted back.

Ella: Yeah, loading the car. Are you ready?

Me: Yes! Just gotta say bye.

Ella: We’ll be there soon.

“Ella and her parents are going to be here soon,” I told my parents.

Mom had argued long and hard about how I was getting to camp. She wanted to take me, but I wanted to go with Ella and her parents. My friend and her brother had been going to this camp for years, and her parents knew exactly how to get there. Mom pursed her lips and crossed her arms over her chest. “Okay. Are you sure you have it all?”

Annoyance flared up. “Yes!” I said.

“Don’t take that tone with your mother,” Dad warned.

I closed my mouth and let the anger subside. It wouldn’t do to get into an argument with them now. They’d probably not let me go, whether or not they had already paid for my spot. And summer camp wasn’t cheap; I’d seen prices on the website.

“Sorry,” I mumbled, and Mom pulled me into another hug.

“Be safe, okay?” she said. “I wish you wanted to go to the trans camp instead.”

“Mom, please!”

“Okay, okay, I know. You want to go to regular camp like any regular boy.”

“I went to trans camp last year,” I said.

“I know, and you loved it. That’s why I wish you’d go again.”

“Stop worrying so much, Mom,” I told her. “The kids won’t hurt me.”

She didn’t look convinced when she finally let me go. It was true; trans camp had been fantastic. But everyone there knew I was trans. I wanted to go someplace where I didn’t always feel trans. I knew it was impossible, but I wanted a shot at it. All the other kids at trans camp had loved it, because they’d said they could shed their trans identity there. Since everyone was trans, we got to talk about other things. It made it less special, which was, in reality, a relief.

And that was the problem for me. I just wanted to be like any other boy. And all the other boys went to summer camp like the one I was going to, not to trans camp. I wanted to be a boy with the other boys.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Gabriel D. Vidrine is a trans masculine scientist, dancer, and writer but is working towards reversing that order. They teach and perform belly dance all over the country, but still manage to cram in writing time whenever and wherever possible.

They are an avid reader and writer, and love science fiction, fantasy, horror, and paranormal romance, but will give any genre a try.

Gabriel lives with their husband, video game systems, and ridiculous cat, Selina, in Chicago, IL.

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A Caryn Review: The Moth and Moon by Glenn Quigley

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Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

This book is a little different than anything I’ve read before, and though it took me a while to warm up to it – the beginning was certainly slow – I can only say that I was really pleased by the time I got to the end.  Once I became invested in it, I couldn’t wait for the next plot twist and revelation.  It is definitely not predictable!

The setting is the village of Blashy Cove, the only settlement on the island of Merryapple, off the Cornish coast, in 1780.  Blashy Cove is nothing like the islands and villages around it, including its tolerance for same sex relationships, which are viewed as absolutely nothing out of the ordinary.  There is no cathedral, church, or even chapel from the Christianization of the British Isles, and even the old religions are no longer followed; the “people believed in themselves”.  Like all small villages, everyone knows everyone else’s business, but for the most part it is a friendly place to live.  Its economy is primarily related to fishing, but it has the usual village accoutrements of shops, bakeries, smithies, and its most iconic building is the Moth and Moon tavern.  The Moth and Moon is a vaguely steampunk, somewhat ramshackle building that was built hundreds of years ago when the village was founded, and continuously added on to until it became a huge five-story behemoth full of forgotten rooms and corners, that dominates the village.  It is also the heart and soul of Blashy Cove.

Robin Shipp is a middle aged fisherman whose ancestors have been sailors for at least 4 generations.  He’s an enormous man, a little slow, but kind-hearted.  He watches out for everyone in the village, but the other villagers have always viewed him with a little suspicion, because his father disappeared under mysterious circumstances, and was possibly even a murderer.  Robin tries not to let their distrust get to him, and goes about his business unselfishly.

When a hurricane approaches the island, with only a half day’s warning as storm clouds appear on the horizon, Robin is the first one to notice, and is the first man to start gathering the villagers into the Moth and Moon, which is far and away the safest place to shelter.  Because it is just his way, he puts everyone’s safety before his own as he brings them into the tavern.  Most of the villagers arrive just before the storm hits, hunker down inside the Moth and Moon, and as they anxiously wait for the storm to pass, it becomes apparent that there are many secrets in the village, and the pressure of the storm and fear of death cause people to rethink a lot of what they have assumed is truth.

To this point, there is really nothing in the way of romance at all going on.  We know that Robin had been in a relationship with the toymaker, Duncan Hunger, and that it ended badly, but no details were given.  Edwin Farriner is the baker, and it also became apparent that he is holding a torch for Robin, who is oblivious.  Things come to a head when the three men ride out the last half of the storm in the lighthouse, and are forced to confront truths about themselves and each other.

There is a lot of description, and a lot of world building that in the beginning truly seemed to be a little random, and a little too much.  It is what made the beginning of the book so slow for me.  The action basically mirrors the storm itself, with tension developing in the Moth and Moon as well as in the lighthouse as the storm wreaked havoc in the village, although the majority of the revelations about the secrets of the town and its people comes in the aftermath of the hurricane.  It wasn’t until this point that I felt a real emotional connection to the characters, but the way they reacted to the dramatic revelations of past events was very compelling.  If the rest of the book had been as interesting, I would certainly have rated it higher, but the slow start meant that if I was not reading it for review, I might well have DNF’ed it.  I’m glad I stuck it out though, the ending is pure sweetness.

Cover art by Nathasha Snow is just a little mysterious, which fits with the atmosphere of the book.

Sales Links:

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Book Details:

book, 172 pages
Published March 19th 2018 by Ninestar Press
Original TitleThe Moth and Moon
ISBN139781948608060
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Release Blitz for Bank Run (Expanding Horizon #2) by Alli Reshi (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Bank Run

Series: Expanding Horizon, Book Two

Author: Alli Reshi

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 2, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19400

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, science fiction, disability/PTSD/post-traumatic stress, military, hurt/comfort, interracial/intercultural, crime, HFN

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Synopsis

Mark Noland doesn’t know how he always ends up in these situations. All he wants is a few quiet days on Rescon with his new boyfriend Gavnson. But he’s just finished a job, and the rest of his team wants their pay.

A simple trip to the bank shouldn’t be much trouble, and then it’s back to peace and quiet. What could possibly go wrong? The answer to this is apparently robbery, kidnapping, and a foot chase across town. A run to the bank takes on a whole new meaning when you also have to thwart the bad guys.

A simple crime unravels to something much more. Amidst the chaos, Mark and Gavnson not only end up with new friends, but a renewed focus on Gavnson’s ongoing PTSD issues—once they finally have a moment to themselves.

*Bank Run is the second installment in the Expanding Horizons series and is best read after book one, Oops, Caught.

Excerpt

Bank Run
Alli Reshi © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Fire and metal shrapnel rained down, pinging off the roof of my small fighter ship.

“Everian Gavnson— The second Squadron is surrounded by the enemy. They are also advancing against the third. What are your orders?” Caspian Dal’s voice came crackling over the damaged coms line.

“Fourth squadron— Provide support for the second. Come in from the enemy’s right, and you can break up that dogfight. My men with me. We’re going to come in from the low left across the gorge. We can bottleneck the enemy there and stop their advance,” I called the orders across the channels.

A resounding “Yes, sir!” was the answer as the other fighter ships split off in their new assignments.

I angled my ship across the sky, leading the first squadron toward the swarm of ships. Blue mixed with white, though the blue was slowly overtaking the other. The infiltration of Zux pilots was taking its toll on my men. The battle for Rescon had already cost us so much. Our objective was to stop them in the skies so they couldn’t get to Rescon’s surface. Swooping under the belly of a few blue Zux ships, I opened fire on them, ripping through the metal and breezing by the ships as they crashed. The added forces were pushing back the opposition.

“Sir, your six!” the warning whined on the line. Reacting before glancing over, I angled my ship away from the oncoming attack. When I did look, I realized no amount of quick maneuvering would save me. A ship from higher up had collided with those below it, dragging and catching them as the tangled mess of metal fell from directly above me toward my ship.

Pushing the thrusters hard, I moved as far away from the trajectory as I could. I wouldn’t clear the area in time, but if I could minimize the damage, I could make an emergency landing. The wreckage struck the side of my ship, tearing the wing clean off. One of the engines ignited in the impact. Fire spread across the windshield. All I could see was fire. The fire. Fire everywhere—burning, trapping, killing.

I bolted awake, off-balance, and confined. I fought against the restraint, pushing and tugging until I felt cold air against my skin. Then, something was on my shoulder holding me. Pushing me back. I lashed out an arm against it.

“Gav, Gav hold still. Calm down. You’re all right; breathe, Gav. Can you hear me?” a voice said. Mark’s voice. The initial panic slowly faded from my mind. It was Mark’s hand on my shoulder. The sheets from my bed were tangled around my legs. Taking a deep breath, I reached a hand to Mark’s, suddenly realizing how shaky my own was against his steady one.

“Yes, I’m fine,” I said, clearing my throat.

“You sure? You’re trembling. Was it that dream again? You wanna talk about it?” Mark asked, leaning toward me. I shrugged off his hand, pulling away.

“No. Everything is all right, Mark. I’m going to take a shower. You can go back to sleep now.” I pushed off the blankets and forced myself to walk steadily to the adjoining bathroom.

After locking the door behind me, I turned on the shower and sat on the tile floor in the far corner of the room, my back against the wall. Curling in on myself, I was no longer able to fight the shaking of my body. My vision blurred, and I couldn’t focus on any one thing around me. All my senses screamed that everything was too much, too loud, too everything. Hopefully, the sound of the water muffled any sobs that escaped. My chest hurt from phantom pains and how hard it was to breathe. It was as though my lungs had forgotten how to, or not wanting to, would rather stop and close in on themselves.

Worst of all, I could feel the fire burning on my arm, searing through flesh. The cold wall behind me did little to help. The war was over, yet I couldn’t escape it, dogged by fire and failure in my sleep.

I don’t know how long it was before I could focus again and the shivers stopped. The burning on my arm had lost intensity, fading rapidly as I focused on taking deep gulping breaths, even though it stung. Mark hadn’t come knocking at the door, so it couldn’t have been that long.

Stripping off my sweat-dampened clothes, I finally stepped under the freezing spray of water. I found that I much preferred cold showers after the war and the hospital. I also refused to own another sponge of any sort, throwing them and any kind of liquid soap out in favor of bars and rough towels if necessary.

It had been about a month since Mark and I had agreed to start this relationship. Even with the time we spent apart for our respective careers, it was working out well. Better than I could have hoped. My off-planet missions were few, as I preferred to stay close to home. There was more than enough to keep me busy here with Stella Corps, while Mark chose any jobs across the quadrant that caught his fancy. Being that Mark’s starship was his home, when he wasn’t out on a job, he spent most of his time with me at my home. His team didn’t seem to mind the extra time spent on Rescon either.

Having Mark with me was a welcome change from the silence that permeated the building without him to fill it with laughter and conversation, however it didn’t stop the nightmares. I always felt guilty for waking him; it was unfair to him after all the help he gave me. Especially on nights like last night when he came in late, tired from a job, and well-deserving of some rest. He didn’t need me waking him up over something I should have long gotten over. In truth, I had been lucky; I knew that.

I had come home when so many hadn’t. I only had scars where so many had lost limbs. It was pathetic to still be holding onto fears when the danger had long passed.

I quickly finished my shower and turned off the water, not wanting Mark to worry and come investigating.

Drying off, I glanced at my reflection in the mirror. Dark hair plastered against my forehead. A once perfect complexion was now littered with appalling scars. Thankfully, the ones on my face were hardly noticeable if you didn’t know to look. The rest of me had not been as fortunate.

The burn marks were far more distinct over my left side. Trailing from my neck to almost my hip in patchy grooves, they also took up most of my arm and spread across my chest. I turned away from the mirror, tying the towel around my waist.

I should have the mirror removed the next chance I had—a sentiment I always had after a shower, but never managed to go through with. It was too easy to indulge in the shame of what my image now was. In any case, Mark would question it, and that was something I would rather avoid. I paused at the door, listening for any noise coming from the outer room.

Hearing nothing meant Mark must have either left the room or gone back to sleep. I cautiously opened the door, and the sun’s morning light filtering in through the window showed an empty room. Faint voices floated in from the direction of the kitchen.

I dressed quickly, worried that Mark might walk into the room before I was ready. A long-sleeved thin shirt hid the worst of the scars and simple pants covered the few on my legs. Having not yet let Mark see all of my scars, I was careful to always be clothed around him. Mark had said that he wouldn’t mind seeing them, but I was not ready to show more of myself to him. I still worried about his reaction. After combing my hair into something respectable, I walked toward the voices, steeling myself to greet the added guests.

“I’m just saying you don’t even know his first name, man. I’m not complaining about not having to listen to you talk about your sex life all’o the time now. But you sure ’bout this, boss? Relationships ain’t one-night stands—you gotta be serious here. Gotta be able to trust a person.”

I recognized Ken’s voice without having to turn the corner and paused in the shadows. I shouldn’t have to eavesdrop in my own house, yet I wanted to hear the honest conversation that wouldn’t happen with me there. Wanted to know what his teammates thought of me, though it did not appear to be a conversation in my favor.

“Dude, are you still harping on this?” Mark huffed. “Ken, let it go. The name thing is cultural, okay? Lots of Resconians don’t say it until they’re married. It’s like a super personal thing, and I can respect that. Stuff like this takes time, you know. Ain’t like I’m laying all my secrets out on the table either. You gotta build the trust slowly, and I trust him to tell me when he’s ready.” I could imagine the scowl he had as he crossed his arms.

Considering that Mark was more given to casual and informal mannerisms, I had been surprised at how easily he had adapted when I explained why Resconians only used surnames. It was an old social norm that revealing a given name was the truest form of trust and love. It gave me a small thrill to call Mark by his name privately—knowing it was his preference as well as a sign of his trust. I found it endearing how he mixed his habit for nicknames yet considered my preference. Still, our relationship was far too new to tell him my given name, or call him by his while in company.

“I believe what our esteemed mechanic is trying to say, is that we worry about you. You’re not only our boss; you’re our friend as well. As a friend, we want you to be in a healthy relationship. Given your previous lovers, this is a drastic change.” The higher-pitched voice chiming in told me that Tamaroa was here too.

“I know it’s different,” Mark said, his voice strained. “It’s weird for me sometimes, too, you know. Coming back to the same place all the time. And missing him. Lonely is something I’m used to having an instant fix for, but I can’t do that anymore because Gavnson matters. I want it to work with him. So, let me figure it out myself and drop it, all right?”

Knowing he missed me when he was away—same as I missed him—was an odd comfort. And it was reassuring that he would defend me, even though I sometimes thought his coworkers might have a more accurate opinion of me. After a few moments of silence, it was obvious they had dropped the topic. I might as well greet my guests properly.

Rounding the corner to enter the kitchen, I saw Ken and Tamaroa at the table, while Mark was standing by the stove, making something in a pan. Rescon had more than its fair share of interspecies travelers. But that still didn’t take away the strangeness of having others at my table.

I was so often alone in this room that the brightness of the fox’s dark blue fur and the woman’s rich orange skin would take some getting used to.

“You didn’t tell me your team would be visiting this morning, Noland,” I said, not wanting to sound accusing, but a warning would have been nice.

“Sorry, I didn’t know either, and some people don’t know what manners are. So, they invite themselves anywhere.” Mark sighed and gave Ken a pointed look. He momentarily abandoned breakfast to come to my side and give me a hug. His warmth was a welcome balm to my unsettled nerves. “Are you feeling better now? Is it okay for them to be here? I can kick them out if you want, no problem,” Mark whispered and then kissed my cheek.

He had no concern with showing affection any time he wanted. For the most part, I liked the attention too much to scold him for it when there were others around.

“No, it’s fine; I don’t mind,” I said quietly, giving him a one-armed hug in return before letting him go back to the stove. “It’s a pleasure to see you as always, Tamaroa, Ken.” I greeted the two as I sat at the table across from them so I could watch Mark.

“Sorry for the intrusion,” Tamaroa responded, brushing back her hair, a dark red against her skin. “Ken can be quite demanding when he wants something. Mark never said, but how did everything turn out on your end with our last joint effort? Was there any information missing?” It was easy to forget that Mark’s well-spoken navigator was also a highly trained assassin.

“No, you both did admirably,” I said. “As far as our technicians have found, nothing was leaked and all the files were still intact. Thanks to all your efforts, you prevented the potential exposure of a number of secret operatives.” I had assumed Mark would have told them about the successful conclusion of our mission long ago, but this at least gave me the chance to thank them in person.

“I imagine Stella would have just as many enemies as allies, and any information about your movements could go for a high price.” Tamaroa’s tone was far too light for a matter that could have been life or death to many officers. Then again, perhaps I shouldn’t expect differently from a woman in her profession.

“Unfortunately, yes,” I said. “Since Mark is always very vague about his work, I don’t suppose you’d be willing to make a few things clearer?” I could feel Mark’s eyes on me, and even though we’d both agreed that sometimes there were parts of our jobs we couldn’t talk about, it didn’t always stop professional curiosity. Tamaroa’s only response was a small smile that said I would not be getting any answers from her.

“All right, enough chitchat,” Ken huffed, his tail thumping against the leg of his chair. “I want Mr. Domestic over there to hand over our share of the pay from the last job. I ain’t looking to spend the day with no Stella officer in a stuffy house. Just ’cause you’ve turned sweet on the military sort, don’t mean I have. I got shit to do.” Ken had not warmed up to me nearly as much as Tamaroa had. Mark reassured me this was friendlier than Ken got with most.

“Hey, that Stella officer is my boyfriend, and I like his company. So, shut your muzzle. Besides, we just got here, and I’m sorry, but some of us like to sleep. Banks don’t even open until, like, nine anyways—so hold your tail.” Mark slid what was in the pan onto a waiting plate. Ah, he was making those fluffy flat breads he called pancakes. Terran food was odd.

I don’t think I had seen him cook anything that didn’t require some breed of fowl eggs. And he was always complaining they weren’t the same as chicken eggs, whatever those were. Mark had tried to describe chickens to me once, and for as much as I recognized that fauna was different across the galaxy, small flightless birds were not something I could easily conceptualize.

I knew that some planets domesticated their fowl, but the fear of them had been ingrained in me since childhood. It wasn’t an ungrounded fear, as the Ioxerous birds were as large as the average man and viciously carnivorous. They were the smallest breed of bird on Rescon. Thankfully, the mountains were the only place you would find them. These differences had led Mark and me to a have a few circular discussions about the merits of domestication of fowl.

Mark insisted on cooking, going so far as to favor old-fashioned methods of manually making the food, instead of letting the automatic kitchen equipment prepare the dishes for him. I had no love for cooking, so I left him to his strange cuisine.

“Oh, I’m sure you and pretty boy did plenty of sleeping. Then again, you were awful quick to open that door, and all rumpled too,” Ken said, winking at Mark. I tensed at the unknowing reminder that I had awakened Mark this morning. Even though he was still tired from his last mission, he hadn’t said anything about it. Yet, I could see the weariness as he moved about. It appeared I was nothing more than a bother.

“Okay, you’re done. Out. We discussed this— No suggestive or lewd comments that make Gav uncomfortable. So, out now. Before I skin you, and we’ll have a side of fox to go with breakfast.” Mark waved the spatula at Ken, whose fur bristled in offense.

“I think we’ve stayed long enough.” Tamaroa stood. “Enjoy your morning, Mark, and a pleasure to see you again, Gavnson. We’ll be on our way now.” She grabbed Ken by his scruff and lifted the four-foot Vanaska fox easily, ignoring his demands to be put down as they left the house. Mark chuckled at the antics.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Alli has always had a love for just about any story she can get her hands on. Be it from books, TV, or even video games—if there’s a good story, she will love it. Given that, it’s easy to see how Alli moved on to making stories of her own.

Raised in a small Colorado town, Alli also has a love of the outdoors and enjoys hiking. Nowadays she lives in a bigger city and fits in just fine there too, liking how close and comfy everything is. Often at home with her two cats, Alli is never far from her computer whether for work or for play. She believes the truth is a multifaceted thing and always works to write the world, and subsequently the truth of the world, as she sees it.

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New Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Angel by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Vampire’s Angel

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 19, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 106400

Genre: Paranormal Romance, LGBT, historical, gay, paranormal, vampire, revolution, magic

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Synopsis

As Paris devolves into chaos amidst the French Revolution, three lives intertwine.

Xavier, a devout priest, struggles to hold on to his trust in humanity only to find his own faith threatened with the longing he finds for a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart, but hiding his undead nature will threaten the love he longs to find with this abbé. Xavier’s sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while protecting the family fortune but falls prey herself to evil forces.

The death, peril, and catastrophes of a revolution collide with a world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction.

Excerpt

The Vampire’s Angel
Damian Serbu © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Angel Sighting
14 May 1789

The night at last darkened as Thomas wandered the Parisian streets, feeling the people’s anger. Though the current French environment shunned the wealthy, Thomas’s commanding presence allowed him to walk about with little resistance. Besides, if his personality failed to assuage someone, his American citizenship placated them soon enough. Coming from a land that had already tossed out a king provided him a certain reverence.

The evening proved calm, however, with no one shouting or rioting. Perhaps later, Thomas might venture to the salons for conversation, but for the moment, he watched the common people as he headed from his flat along the Seine toward the Bastille. He sought the poor that evening, not the stuffy rich who bored him even in their nastiness.

Thomas dodged a puddle of mud and almost ran into a wealthy woman.

She grunted but then smiled when she looked up at him. “Pardon me.”

“It was my fault.” Thomas bowed. “I should apologize to you.”

She giggled and walked away, but not before turning around to glance at him one more time.

His reflection in a nearby window reminded him why so many women and men stopped to admire him. His muscular frame, his long black hair tied in a bow at the base of his neck, and his all-black attire, which defied the contemporary fashion of men wearing bright colors, combined to create an allure. Thomas knew he possessed a sex appeal. He captivated them so much they seldom commented with their usual prejudice on his darker complexion.

He turned onto Rue St. Louis and headed north. The houses there were dingier, the streets narrower, and the people dirtier. He traveled well into a residential area and found a secluded corner, the perfect place to watch for that night’s prey.

A few workers stumbled by, already drunk and searching for their homes, then some children frolicked along with a group of women. Still, nothing tempted him. Next, a soldier patrolled the streets and stared at him with suspicion, a prey that proved more to Thomas’s liking. Unfortunately, he saw goodness in the soldier’s face. He would not tempt fate with that one. The young man brushed a lock of blond hair out of his eye and passed as Thomas watched and marveled at his beautiful tight backside when he faded into the night.

Thomas nearly lost his breath when he turned and looked the other way. An angel?

The man had short brown hair, piercing hazel eyes, and soft skin. He carried the slight tone in his muscles, which so attracted Thomas, with a hint of nervousness. Not too masculine, but neither too feminine.

As the gentleman passed, Thomas fell in behind to study him further.

Only after Thomas almost drooled over the beauty in front of him did the clothing hit him. A priest. Thomas shook his head. How on earth did a godlike creature end up serving that vile Catholic Church?

He followed, anyway, hiding among the buildings and trailing so quietly that the priest never suspected a man behind him scrutinized every angle of his body beneath the black robe.

As they passed a narrow street, the priest turned and peered toward the cramped passage, then dashed down it. Thomas rushed to follow and hid in a doorway nearby.

“Can I help you?” the priest asked. “What is it?” He knelt before a young girl, perhaps no more than four, and placed his hand on her shoulder. She sobbed and slumped against the priest, who wrapped his arms around her. “Talk to me. You’re safe. What can I do?”

Her breathing finally slowed. “I’m lost.”

“What’s your name, dear?”

“Delphine,” she whispered.

“Well, Delphine, we’ll find your home. Can you give me some clues?”

Thomas listened as the priest quizzed her. She relaxed as the conversation continued and giggled as the priest joked and moved down the long alley with her, talking to her until he stooped down and picked her up while continuing to chat.

“Do you think we’re close?” he asked.

“I think so.” She looked around, clinging to him.

“Ah! Delphine!” A woman ran toward them, so the priest put the girl on the ground and stood aside as she sprinted to collapse in the woman’s arms.

“Mama,” she shouted.

“I’ve looked everywhere for you,” her mother replied. “What did I tell you about wandering away? We have just moved, after all. You’ll get lost in this big city.” Then she crossed herself. “Abbé, God intervened yet again to save my daughter.”

“Merely one of his servants, Madame.” The sound of his resonant voice sent waves of passion through Thomas.

“How can I repay you?” she asked.

“You owe me nothing,” the priest said as he turned to Delphine. “And you, little one, you must be careful in Paris. You can get lost easily, so stay close to your mother.”

She giggled as he tickled her stomach. “I will, Abbé.”

After they left, the priest turned and his eyes widened when he saw Thomas. He paused.

“Monsieur, pardon me. I didn’t see you.”

“I didn’t mean to startle you, Father. Good evening.” They gazed at each other for a long moment.

“No harm. Good evening, sir.” The priest nodded and walked away.

Too good to be true. Thomas stalked the priest as he turned the corner and entered the gate of a small church. There, Thomas leaned against a building, breathing heavily from the passion that erupted inside him, a longing he must satisfy. He wanted to stand outside the church and wait for the priest, or even knock on the door and talk to him again, but he was too unsettled. He remembered an establishment nearby that would serve his purpose well, so he raced to it, slammed through the doors, and sat before he fell, when a young man of about eighteen years approached him.

“Monsieur, you look unwell. Can I assist you?”

The youngster wasted little time. He needed a bath, but otherwise presented an adorable face and solid little body.

“What are you offering?” Thomas smirked.

“Come, I’ll show you.” He grabbed Thomas’s hand and pulled him up a stairway and into a dimly lit room. “I assume you know this’ll cost you, and that I don’t play the passive role.”

“Quite the entrepreneur. I can pay what you charge.” Thomas closed the door and embraced the youth as he kissed him. With great speed, he threw the youngster onto the bed and tore off both of their clothes.

“Slow down,” the young man pleaded.

Thomas did so and kissed the boy’s neck. His fangs descended, and he softly pricked the dirty skin to taste the blood before he took their interaction further.

“Do you enjoy biting?” the boy asked.

“Only momentarily,” Thomas replied before he plunged his fangs into the vein for a deeper taste.

As the hot liquid flowed across his lips, images of the boy’s life saturated Thomas’s mind. The vision confirmed what Thomas already ascertained. The young man prostituted himself part-time and was a useless degenerate who attacked and robbed innocent people. He assaulted children, including his brother, for sport. Ah, yes. And, of course, he murdered without remorse.

He grabbed the young man’s hair and kissed him, then rolled him over against his will. He struggled for the first time, but Thomas held him tightly.

“I told you,” he said, “I don’t—”

Thomas clamped his hand over the victim’s mouth. “Relax.” He stopped squirming and Thomas let him go. “What if I double the price? Or triple it, even?”

The lad contemplated for a moment. “Triple? Just to bugger me?”

Thomas petted his hair. “Yes.”

“Fine. But I won’t like it.” Yet he ground his ass into Thomas’s crotch.

Thomas thrust inside of him and pounded. The young man wriggled and bit his lower lip, but he never tried to stop Thomas until the vampire finished, his tension released as he exploded inside the nice bubble ass.

Sated, he released the lad, who pushed him off, cursing. “I told you, and I warned you, you ass.” He scrambled off the bed and snatched a knife from under the mattress, and in his nakedness came toward Thomas.

When the youth tried to stab him, Thomas grabbed his wrist and squeezed hard until the blade dropped to the floor. He pulled the young man toward him and stared into his eyes, his expression terrified.

“I thought we had an agreement? Besides, you can’t win. You won’t haunt this city anymore. Go peacefully.”

Thomas bent the boy’s head to the side and plunged his fangs back into the flesh, sucking the delicious blood until the youth’s heart stopped.

Thomas kissed the puncture wounds to heal them and flung the corpse to the floor before dressing, loving that a large city meant no one questioned yet another death. Sexually satisfied and fed, he brushed his clothing off before hurrying down the stairs and out the door without anyone noticing.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!

Coming this fall, his latest vampire novel: The Vampire’s Protégé. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at http://www.DamianSerbu.com.

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New Release Blitz for The Vampire’s Angel by Damian Serbu (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Vampire’s Angel

Author: Damian Serbu

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 19, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 106400

Genre: Paranormal Romance, LGBT, historical, gay, paranormal, vampire, revolution, magic

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

As Paris devolves into chaos amidst the French Revolution, three lives intertwine.

Xavier, a devout priest, struggles to hold on to his trust in humanity only to find his own faith threatened with the longing he finds for a mysterious American visitor. Thomas fights against the Catholic Church to win Xavier’s heart, but hiding his undead nature will threaten the love he longs to find with this abbé. Xavier’s sister, Catherine, works with Thomas to bring them together while protecting the family fortune but falls prey herself to evil forces.

The death, peril, and catastrophes of a revolution collide with a world of magic, vampires, and personal demons as Xavier, Thomas, and Catherine fight to find peace and love amidst the destruction.

 Exclusive Excerpt

The Vampire’s Angel
Damian Serbu © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Garden Meeting

Back at his church, Xavier worked in his small garden even after darkness fell and the nearby lantern barely illuminated the street around it, let alone his humble plants.

“Abbé?”

Startled, he whipped around.

“I’m sorry to startle you again.”

Xavier cleared his throat, nervous. It was the man from earlier in the day, with the long black hair, piercing brown eyes, and American accent. “I didn’t hear you approach.” Xavier wiped his hands on his robe.

They stared at each other until the stranger broke the silence. “Perhaps I should introduce myself. Thomas, Father. Thomas Lord.”

Xavier cocked his head, quizzical. “You’re not from Paris.”

“What gave me away?”

“Your accent. And complexion.”

“I’m here on business.”

“Welcome to Paris. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.” Xavier wanted to say more, to keep the man near him, but he was at a loss for words. How strange.

“I—I wondered if… Can I go to confession? With you.”

Xavier smiled. “You’re not Catholic, either.”

“No,” Thomas said. “I’m not. I’m not Catholic, nor of any religion. And I’m not in Paris on business. I’m here by myself and felt lonely. I saw you protect that little girl earlier this evening and thought perhaps you could show me around Paris. I’m from America and wanted to see the rioting.” He stopped. “Sorry to babble.”

Xavier studied Thomas, noting his musculature, even in the dark. It prompted the most sinful of thoughts. “I doubt you’ll find Paris too welcoming these days, but I’d be happy to show you around.” He paused, considering. “You needn’t lie anymore. Just ask if you want my company.”

“Can you forgive me, Abbé? I was confused about your being a priest and what etiquette to use,” Thomas said, watching for Xavier’s response.

“You weren’t sure if I had the time for a heathen?” Xavier smiled. “Or did you fear some divine judgment? Well, don’t. As I said, I’d be delighted to show you Paris.”

“You don’t mind that I’m not Catholic?”

“Not all of us are so narrow-minded as to demand a certain brand of faith from everyone we meet. All of us are God’s children, after all.”

“What am I supposed to call you, then?” Thomas asked, picking at the sleeve of his coat. “Abbé? Father?”

“Since you don’t seek spiritual counseling, and so long as you promise not to enter my confessional, how about Xavier?”

Thomas grinned and a strange little spark danced down Xavier’s spine. “Agreed,” he said. “What would you think of starting my tour of Paris at the Seine? I love the breeze and view of Paris from there.”

“I’d be delighted.” Xavier nodded and smiled in return.

They sauntered toward the river, engaged in easy conversation. Xavier told Thomas about the riots, about the king, and about his view of the revolution. They chatted about mundane matters with no particular destination or motive. Xavier hated that the night ended when they returned to his church and bid adieu. He hoped, with butterflies in his stomach, to see Thomas again, but his fear of rejection kept him from saying anything further.

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Meet the Author

Damian Serbu lives in the Chicago area with his husband and two dogs, Akasha and Chewbacca. The dogs control his life, tell him what to write, and threaten to eat him in the middle of the night if he disobeys. He previously authored several novels now out of print, and is excited to reignite his writing with Ninestar Press!

Coming this fall, his latest vampire novel: The Vampire’s Protégé. Keep up to date with him on Facebook, Twitter, or at http://www.DamianSerbu.com.

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New Release Blitz for The Moth and Moon by Glenn Quigley (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  The Moth and Moon

Author: Glenn Quigley

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 19, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63000

Genre: Alternate Universe, Historical, LGBT, historical, gay, friends to lovers, sailor, baker, pirates, family drama

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Synopsis

In the summer of 1780, on the tiny island of Merryapple, burly fisherman Robin Shipp lives a simple, quiet life in a bustling harbour town where most of the residents dislike him due to the actions of his father. With a hurricane approaching, he nonetheless convinces the villagers to take shelter in the one place big enough to hold them all—the ancient, labyrinthine tavern named the Moth & Moon.

While trapped with his neighbours during the raging storm, Robin inadvertently confronts more than the weather, and the results could change everything.

Excerpt

The Moth and Moon
Glenn Quigley © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Mr. Robin Shipp pulled his cap lower as he took a deep breath of salty morning air and watched the sun emerge from behind the headland. Stepping from the pier into his little boat, he ran his heavy hand across the prow, catching his coarse fingers on the loose, chipped paintwork. He picked a jagged flake off the wooden frame and held it up to the light, the vivid scarlet catching the pinks and oranges of daybreak. He let go and it drifted through the air, carried away on the gentle breeze, before settling on the soft, lapping tide. Most of the paintwork was in some state of distress. Deep cracks marbled the entire hull, belying the fisherman’s profound affection for his vessel. Bucca’s Call had seen better days.

“I’ll paint you tomorrow, Bucca, I promise,” he said.

He made this very same promise every morning, but every day, he found some reason to put it off. Before too long, he was humming to himself and hauling his well-worn oyster dredge over the stern of Bucca’s Call.

“Beautiful!” he said as he emptied the net into a nearby tub. The shells clattered against one another as they fell. The boat bobbed about gently on the waves while gulls screeched and circled overhead. Her nameplate was missing a couple of letters and her white sails were truthfully more of a grimy beige these days, but she was as reliable as ever.

He was close to the shore and could see the whole bay—from the headland to the east, down to the harbour, past the pale blue-and-white-striped lighthouse that sat out at sea on its desolate little clump of rocks and scrub, and over to the beautiful sandy beach curving around and out of sight to the west.

The little fishing village of Blashy Cove sloped up the hills beyond the harbour, and with his gaze, he traced the low, stone walls lining each cobbled road. It was the only significant settlement on the tiny island of Merryapple, the southernmost point of a little cluster of islands nestled off the Cornish coast. The village had everything one would expect to find, except a place of worship. No lofty cathedral had ever been built there, no church of granite and glass, not even the smallest wooden chapel. When the empire of the Romans had fallen a thousand years earlier, its church had fallen alongside it. The invaders hadn’t lingered long on the mainland, and had never set foot on these islands. Once they were gone, the people picked through the remains, seeing the value in certain aspects and thoroughly disregarding the rest, scouring the regime clean from the face the world and consigning it meekly to the tomes of scholars and students. In its absence, the old gods returned to their forests and deserts, their mountains and streams, their homes and hearths. Spirits of air and land and sea. Woden and Frig, The Wild Hunt and the Bucca, piskies and mermaids, the Green Man and the wights, all were changed, made kinder and gentler by their brief exile. On these islands, the old ways had been the only ways, but even these had mostly died out, sloping into traditions, superstitions, and habits. It was now August in the year 1780, and people believed in themselves.

At this time of morning, sunlight hit the brightly painted houses and sparkled on the gentle, rolling waves. The village’s livelihood mainly revolved around the sea, but there was more to life than just luggers and lines and lobster pots. The Cove had long been a haven to those of a more creative bent. Painters and sculptors, engineers and inventors, they all found their home there. Some of them had come from the nearby Blackrabbit Island, which wasn’t known for its love of the finer arts. This abundance of skill, and the nurturing of it, meant Blashy Cove had adopted some innovations not yet common in the rest of the world.

Robin had been out for some time by now and, as usual, had already eaten his packed lunch. Soon, his substantial belly rumbled and he decided it was time to head back to port. Packing away his nets, he heaved in his empty lobster pots, secured the tub filled with this morning’s catch, and sailed the small craft homeward. As he did, he noticed a thin, grey line on the horizon.

“Looks like some bad weather on the way, Bucca,” he muttered to the little boat.

The stern of the curious little craft sat low in the water, due equally to the weight of the morning’s catch and the significant heft of Robin himself. While at first it appeared to be a traditional lugger, the kind of boat used by most fishermen in this part of the world, Bucca’s Call was actually much smaller and faster, a one-of-a-kind built many years previously.

Huge ships from the mainland drifted past, their enormous sails billowing in the breeze. Merryapple was part of a small group of southerly islands, and the last sight of land some of the mighty vessels would see for weeks, or even months.

Merryapple Pier was the oldest one anybody knew of. The brainstorm of a local fisherman many years earlier and copied by many other villages since, it might well have been the first of its kind. This clever fisherman realised if there was a way for larger boats to offload their cargo directly, rather than having to put it onto smaller vessels to ferry back and forth between harbour and ship, it would increase the traffic through the little port. The pier stretched out past the shallower waters near the coastline. Little sailboats like Bucca’s Call could dock right up close to the beach or even on the sand, if need be, while bigger fishing vessels could use the far end, in deeper waters. The pier was constructed from huge boulders hewn from the island’s cliff face and supported by a framework of long wooden poles from the woodlands. In the evening, bigger boats from the village fleet usually dropped anchor in the bay, while smaller vessels stayed moored to the pier.

At the shore, some children were chasing each other around a pile of crab pots, hooting and hollering while May Bell finished her deliveries for the bakery. May was around the same age as the other children, but she was of a more industrious bent. She saw Bucca’s Call approaching and ran to help Robin secure his mooring line as he lugged the tub of oysters onto the pier. When he clambered up the weathered stone steps, he steadied himself with a hand against the wall. The steps were wet and slippery, with dark green mould threatening to envelope his heavy boots should he linger too long.

“Morning, Mr. Shipp,” the girl called as she finished tying the worn rope around an old, pitted stone bitt.

“Mornin’, May! Thanks for your ’elp,” he called back, waving to the girl as he lumbered past. Taller than any man on the island, he dwarfed the little girl, drowning her in his shadow.

“Time for food already?” she asked.

“Oh yes,” replied Robin, “an’ I know just the place to get some!”

His legs were stiff from sitting in the boat all morning. He knew he was supposed to get up and move around a bit every once in a while, but when he was out on the water, the chatter of the gulls, the lap of the waves, the smell of the sea air, it was all so relaxing he just didn’t notice the time going by. Only his stomach growls marked the hours.

Mrs. Greenaway, wife of the village doctor and a friend of May’s parents, happened to be passing by on her way home from the market. Seeing their exchange, she scrunched up her face, adjusted the bow on her bonnet, and seized the little girl by the arm, leading her away from the pier and avoiding Robin’s disappointed gaze. He knew May from the bakery, as the master baker was one of his very few friends, but it wasn’t uncommon for people to avoid him.

Robin heaved the awkward tub full of oysters up and marched towards the bustling market, which was a collection of simple wooden stalls selling everything from food to clothes to ornaments. He edged his way through the crowd, past various stallholders and shoppers as he struggled with the heavy container. Finally, he reached the largest stall, which sold all manner of fresh seafood, all caught in that very cove. Robin specialised in inshore fishing, whereas the other boats concentrated their efforts farther out to sea. He was one of only two oyster fishermen in the village. The other, Mr. Hirst, was ill and hadn’t been out in his craft for almost two weeks. He was married, with a young family to feed, and the village had rallied around to help and make sure they didn’t go hungry. The lack of competition, however, meant Robin was securing a bumper crop.

A tall, thin man in a white coat was scribbling notes onto a wad of yellow paper. In front of him lay a collection of various local fish, in everything from buckets to barrels to battered old copper pots.

“Got a nice batch for you this mornin’, Mr. Blackwall.” Robin beamed, holding up the tub so the fishmonger could get a good look.

“Yes, these will do fine, I suppose, Mr. Shipp. Put them down at the front.” Mr. Blackwall was notorious for not getting too hands-on with the product or with much of anything, really. He kept his distance from the beach and fairly resented having to be even this close. Wet sand upset him greatly, as it had a tendency to cling to his shiny boots and sometimes it even marked his pristine coat. He didn’t do any of the actual work with the fish, instead leaving it to his assistants. He’d often said he didn’t see the point of having a stall at all when he had a perfectly good shop on Hill Road. But the market was a tradition in Blashy Cove, and so he had no choice but to participate or lose out. He jotted some numbers down on his paper and then chewed the end of his pencil as he tried to add them up. He always did this, and he never did it quickly. Robin stooped and laid the tub on the ground as instructed, grunting as he straightened.

“Joints sore again?” the fishmonger asked out of sheer politeness, not looking up from his calculations.

“No more’n usual,” Robin replied, rubbing the small of his back and rotating his shoulder. Working the sea wasn’t easy, and it had taken its toll over the years.

Ben Blackwall reached into his inside pocket and produced a fistful of polished coins, which he delivered into Robin’s large, callused hands. Robin nodded appreciatively and stuffed them into the pockets of his calf-length, navy-coloured overcoat. Tipping his floppy, well-worn cap to his long-time buyer, he turned and headed away from the dock.

He passed by other villagers going about their morning routine and jumped out of the way of a horse and cart loaded with apples from the orchard over the hills as he headed straight for the immense building dead ahead. It was a massive, ungainly lump, set in the centre of a spacious courtyard, all crooked wooden beams and slanting lead-paned windows. Every now and then, a shabby bay window or wonky dormer jutted out at funny angles. It was hard to tell exactly how many floors it had. Five, at least, the topmost of which sat like a box that had been dropped from a great height onto the rest of the structure. Rumpled, uneven, and crooked, this odd addition had one large, circular window on each of its four walls. On the ground outside, wooden tables and chairs were arranged, and heavy planters overflowed with hardy, perennial shrubbery. A couple of fat seagulls noisily argued over a few crumbs dropped near the windbreakers. This pair were here so often, they seemed to be part of the building itself. The locals named them Captain Tom and the Admiral. Captain Tom was the leader of a particularly noisy and troublesome band of gulls, and the Admiral was his main rival. They would often fight over even the tiniest scraps left on the ground, and both were marked with more than one battle scar.

As he pulled on the heavy oak door, the sign hanging overhead creaked and groaned in the wind. Painted on chestnut from the nearby wood, the bulk of the sign was older than the village itself, but it had been modified many times. Formed of several expertly carved layers, it now looked more like a child’s pop-up book rather than the simple plank of wood it had once been. The overall effect was of peering through a forest, out over the cove at night. The outermost tier resembled a ring of tree branches, gently moving up and down. Behind that layer were the turbulent waves, which clicked from side to side. Finally, there was the static crescent moon with a single cerulean moth flying slowly around, completing one revolution every hour. The whole sign ticked and whirred endlessly as its springs and cogs went about their work, and had to be wound up twice a day using a long, metal key kept tucked behind the tavern’s main door. The name of the establishment was weaved around and through the artwork in gold.

This wasn’t simply a place to drink or gather with friends; it was a place to conduct business, a place where people married, and a place where people mourned. It was a refuge from bad weather and jilted lovers. This was the heart and soul of the little village.

This was the Moth & Moon.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Glenn Quigley is a graphic designer originally from Dublin and now living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. He creates bear designs for http://www.themoodybear.com. He has been interested in writing since he was a child, as essay writing was the one and only thing he was ever any good at in school. When not writing or designing, he enjoys photography and has recently taken up watercolour painting.

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