A Dan Review: Love on the Spectrum by Alec Nortan

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Rating: 2 stars out of 5

 

 

Hervé has Asperger’s, a specific kind of autism that makes him unable to interact with other people.

 

Luc has been severely scarred by fire and flees human presence to avert the way people glare and frown when they see him.

 

It was impossible for them to meet, but life sometimes likes to cheat the odds. Is it just a trick or a way to bring together two men who could be each other’s lifeline?

 

 

 

I gave this book two stars because the author’s blurb at the end of the book states that he had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s. If a neurotypical person had written this book, I would give it one star.

 

Everyone experiences their autism differently. That’s the very nature of a spectrum disorder. People on the spectrum have different stims, different vocal and verbal abilities, different special interests, different skills and strengths, different triggers and anxieties. I know a lot of people with autism who span the spectrum, in real life and as part of the ASD community on the internet who are all impacted by autism in different ways, and I certainly don’t speak for all people with autism, but in all my years, I have never met a person who experiences with world with the same level of misery as Hervé

 

He is overwhelmingly joyless, which I sincerely hope don’t reflect the author’s experiences. I understand completely that the world is an overwhelming sensory experience and that people can redouble that, but even Hervé’s stims and special interests don’t bring him happiness, even when we have full access to his internal states. He constantly refers to his autism in terms of ‘difficulties’. There are flashbacks to hateful teachers and mentors, which took me out of the narrative and only served to reinforce that I didn’t like this book. There are portions in which people react to Luc’s facial scarring as if he’s a literal monster, instead of a human man with scars, and outloud declaring that he’s too hideous to be in public, which seems extreme.

 

Sometimes, the words didn’t flow exactly right, which given that English isn’t the author’s first language, makes sense. I hope this use of language also accounts for some of the way in which the author describes Hervé and his experiences. This book has an uncomfortable reference to cure narratives as well, in which Luc, the love interest, and Hervé manage to ‘cure’ each other’s disabilities in a way. 

 

As a love story, it’s cute and relatively unproblematic, the story of two men navigating each other’s boundaries. It has a happy ending and has no homophobia, even interalized, always a bonus for a gay story. There are some tricks to navigating the world on the spectrum that the author captures honestly, like looking near someone’s eyes instead of at them. The plot itself is lighthearted, and some parts of it feel unfinished and too easy, and I’d really like to see this story reworked with as much love, ease, and acceptance for the ASD community as it has for the gay community.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon \ Barnes&Noble

Book Details:

 

37900 words

Ninestar press 

January 6, 2020

Contemporary romance

gay/cis 

 

 

A Free Dreamer Review: Out of Time (Out of Time #5) by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5

For Ben Sanders—traitor, thief, and temporal orphan—time is running out.

After three years as a fugitive, with the police task force led by Lysander O’Donohue and Jacob Ofori hot on his heels, Ben has to resort to desperate measures to evade capture and find the key to locating his missing father, lost in time for over two decades. With secrets and conspiracies at every turn, the net grows ever tighter around him.

Haunted by the people he betrayed, the loved ones he left behind, and the lives he ruined, it’s too late to stop now. But no matter what Ben does, there’s no escaping his past.

With this exciting conclusion to the Out of Time series, it is recommended to read the first four books for full enjoyment.

After reading parts three and four, I was really excited about Out of Time. It wasn’t quite as awesome as the other two books, but still pretty good.

Like I said above, I didn’t read part one and two and I think you’re fine without them. But I really think you should at least read part four before you read this final installment, because a lot of what happened in the previous book is important for what’s going on now.

First of all, I want to say that I love how diverse Lewis’ cast of characters is. I mean, where do you find a Muslim woman wearing a hijab in a position of power? I’ve certainly never read about one ever. And it’s all so effortless. Some books have a lot of different sexual orientations in them and they make it obvious that the author tried really hard to make their cast diverse and it just doesn’t feel natural at all. But Lewis is the complete opposite. Of course you need a whole bunch of different people if you’re gonna do time travel, there’s a ton of interesting places to visit, all over the world.

There’s definitely more drama, angst and action than in book four, but somehow it still wasn’t quite as suspenseful. That doesn’t mean it was boring in any way, it was just a tiny bit easier to put the book down when I had to.

After the end of book four, I most definitely didn’t see this relationship coming. I totally bought into the act Ben and Enoch came up with. But it all makes sense now and they worked really well together. Their sex was really hot.

Enoch is so hilarious and such an awesome guy. And he has a great way of handling Ben when Ben needs him. I immediately took a liking to him.

Ben is very different. He’s not in a good place and my heart really went out to him. His life hasn’t been easy and being on the run constantly is certainly taking its toll on him.

There was some time travel, with a few unexpected results, but nothing lengthy. I almost missed it a little bit.

The ending was a bit too much for me. There was this extremely perfect HEA for everybody involved and after everything that happened, it just didn’t seem all that realistic. Well, as realistic as a story about time travel can ever be…

Overall, I’m sad this series is over and I’m glad I still have the first two books that I will need to read eventually. I think Lewis had a really unique approach to time travel and I really enjoyed what I’ve read so far.

The cover by Natasha Snow is essentially the same as the others in the series. The protagonists in front of a modern city background. Still not a huge fan of the concept, but not horrible either.

Sales Links:

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

Book details:

ebook, 350 pages

Published January 20th 2020 by NineStar Press

A MelanieM Review: Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

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Rating:: 4.5 stars out of 5

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long. Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim. But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.

I am always enthusiastic about the stories that flow out of the mind of author Alex Hall because I know the tales will be imaginative, with twists and turns, marvelous characters with attention to details in personality and background, and as it demonstrated here, a fabulous ability to deliver a world of magic realism so very believable that i fell into it from the first page.

Earnest Ink by Alex Hall is a story that builds slowly as we get to know the characters and the world they now inhabit, one that changed drastically within their own lifetimes.  Changing their worlds and in some cases themselves fundamentally.  It’s a story revealed in pieces, pulled back in layers, as the current days events take place and our characters rush forward towards mysteries and crises that will have permanent impact on everyone.

The people encountered from the focal person of famous tattoo artist Hemingway are as incredibly complex as Hemingway is.. That extends to the roles they may play in Hemingway’s life, which may change direction or impact in a blink.  Who is trustworthy and who is not is always up for discussion.  Throw in the hunt for a gruesome killer, Jack the  Ripper, along with other mysteries, and you have a gripping thriller with tiny hints of a possible future  romance and an open ended future for all.

And that is the only thing that keeps this book from five stars.  The air of expectation for something more at the end.  A need for continuing on, that so much remains to be done or is left to be finished for everyone here.  I almost felt as though we were at 3/4 th of the story or perhaps that I should be able to sail quickly onto another book.  I was most not ready to leave this world and characters behind.

Love magic realism?  In need of a great new story to read?  I highly recommend Earnest Ink by Alex Hall.  I’m still thinking about the characters and their lives, and hoping that Hall will return to them once more for an update.

Cover art:  Natasha Snow.  A beautiful cover with a major element towards the ending.

Sales Links:    NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook
Published October 14th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781951057121
Edition Language English

A Free Dreamer Review: Time Turns (Out of Time #4) by C.B. Lewis

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

As a consultant analyst for the most technologically advanced firms in the country, Danny Ferguson knows he’s seen a lot of crazy stuff, but nothing comes close to his newest position at the Temporal Research Institute, the world’s foremost time travel organisation.

The corrupted piece of code Ferguson found on the TRI’s closed network is a serious concern for Lysander O’Donohue, the director of the TRI. Unable to trust his own people—any one of whom might be the source—he’s forced to put all his trust in Danny to solve the mystery of the corrupt code and find the identity of the enemy within.

But when an unexpected temporal gate opens, a straightforward code analysis becomes something a lot more complicated.

I read and really enjoyed part three of the series, so I was eager to get my hands on the next book. And Time Turns certainly didn’t disappoint.

While this is part four of an ongoing series, I think it works perfectly fine as a stand-alone. The protagonists from part three get barely any on-page scenes and the important events are summed up early on. There’s no reason why you shouldn’t read part three, though, because it’s just as good as this one, albeit quite different.

Coding isn’t necessarily something I’m crazy about. The few times I’ve been exposed to it, I found rather boring. But this book actually made it seem really fascinating. The way Danny works with it is like a new form of art. You don’t need to understand it to appreciate its beauty. And the author didn’t delve too deeply into the theory, so it never got boring or confusing.

I was utterly captivated from the very beginning and I used every free second to continue reading. Neither of the protagonists actually did any time-traveling and there wasn’t actually all that much action. But somehow there was this suspense that just made it extremely hard to put down the book. This is the kind of book that should come with a special warning: “Do not read if you don’t want to be late.” Seriously, I was almost late for work more than once.

Lysander is a really interesting guy. He’s a very private person and has some unexpected secrets. And Danny is just plain adorable. Sure, he’s cocky and overconfident, but also extremely loyal and hard-working.

I absolutely loved the relationship dynamic. Danny was so mindful of Lysander. And Lysander never took advantage. The progress felt natural and the sex scenes, while few and far between, were really hot.

As for the mystery part, the revelation of the bad guy was completely unexpected to me. I don’t read a lot of mystery, though, so maybe an avid crime/mystery reader could have deduced who the culprit is sooner.

Overall, “Time Turns” was a brilliant book and my first 5-star-book of the year. And it’s made me even more eager to read the rest of the series.

The cover by Natasha Snow fits with the rest of the series and the story, but it’s a little nondescript. I’m not a fan of covers where the models make up the largest part of the design.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book details:

ebook, 400 pages

Published September 16th 2019 by NineStar Press

Out of Time Series

Time Waits

Time Lost

Time Taken

Time Turns

Out of Time

Join Us for the New Release Blitz for Winter Masquerade by Kevin Klehr (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Winter Masquerade

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 20, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 32800

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT Romance fantasy, gay, party, musicians, mythical creatures, trial, judge, alternative universe

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Synopsis

Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam.

Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.

With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.

Excerpt

Winter Masquerade
Kevin Klehr © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Pitch black. Then candlelight. One lonely flame lit the face of a plump-faced man in a robe.

“How did I get here?” I asked.

“That’s not important right now,” the monk replied. “It’s where you’re going.” He reached for a journal, which sat on the stool to his right, and set the candle in its place. He flipped several pages and held it to the flame. “Are you fond of voyages?”

I shook like nervous prey. “I really need to know how I got here.”

“You’re a troubled man in need of rest and recreation. And a healthy dose of self-reflection.”

“But—”

“I wish you’d stop asking questions. You’ve never bothered listening to those who’ve responded.”

Harmonious chants filled the silence. These men’s voices calmed me, even though a dozen questions still needed answering.

Another light appeared coming from a round window. I shuffled toward it. There I was in the dark on the other side. I lay sleeping.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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Love a Time Travel Story? Check Out the Blitz for Out of Time (Out of Time #5) by C.B. Lewis (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Out of Time

Series: Out of Time, Book Five

Author: C.B. Lewis

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 20, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 113100

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT science fiction, time travel, gay, bisexual, asexual, British, dirty talk, family drama, PTSD, panic attack, unending innuendo and teasing

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Synopsis

For Ben Sanders—traitor, thief, and temporal orphan—time is running out.

After three years as a fugitive, with the police task force led by Lysander O’Donohue and Jacob Ofori hot on his heels, Ben has to resort to desperate measures to evade capture and find the key to locating his missing father, lost in time for over two decades. With secrets and conspiracies at every turn, the net grows ever tighter around him.

Haunted by the people he betrayed, the loved ones he left behind, and the lives he ruined, it’s too late to stop now. But no matter what Ben does, there’s no escaping his past.

With this exciting conclusion to the Out of Time series, it is recommended to read the first four books for full enjoyment.

Excerpt

Out of Time
C.B. Lewis © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The house was unnaturally quiet.

It looked the same as usual: portraits of a family—mother and baby, father and toddler—on the walls, a scatter of Lego and jigsaw puzzles on the floor, a forgotten coat slung over the bannister at the top of the stairs.

The man walked onwards towards the staircase.

It was too quiet.

All he had to do was call out and break the silence, but he couldn’t.

Run and hide.

That was what his dad had told him. He had done what he was told.

The front door was cracked open, a thin slice of pale morning light cutting across the patterned tiles on the hall floor. It stretched on towards the lab, which was impossible. The sun was too high for it to stretch so far.

Something wasn’t right.

The stairs creaked underfoot as he crept down. The tiles in the hall were cold. His clothes were soaked. He didn’t remember why. They were wet, and he was cold, and it was all too quiet.

He saw—did he?—the body. A sheet. A shoe on a foot from under it. He saw it. A glimpse. He walked closer, and the sheet was still there. He reached out and grabbed the sheet to see the face of the one who did it.

There was nothing there. No one. The sheet fell from his numb fingers, vanishing before it hit the floor, and he walked onwards.

The door was open, no longer secret. They had cleaned the bloodstains, but he’d heard them talking quietly when they thought he couldn’t hear, and the handprints were back, smeared on the wall. Whose? He didn’t know.

Light shone up from the basement. The walls were white where they weren’t red. It wasn’t silent down there. The electric crackle of power hummed around him as he made his way down. It should all have been bigger. When he was there the first time, it all seemed so much bigger. He remembered the crackle, too, and knew what it meant.

Their secret, something no one had ever known.

He crossed the floor of the laboratory, ignoring the computers and the information all over them. The sound was coming from the next room, and he knew what he was going to see.

The temporal gate connected, blazing with light. The man standing before it, barely more than a silhouette.

“We’re running out of time.”

The voice was familiar, but it was wrong too, not the voice he remembered. Too many years without. Too many years of his memories being worn away. He couldn’t remember it now, not exactly, not the intonation, not the lilt or the accent.

He tried to speak, but his throat was closing up. He reached out towards his father, trying to catch him before he did what he always did. His fingers passed through his father’s shoulder as if it was nothing more than a shadow; then his father stepped through the gate. The world blazed white, dazzling him.

“No!” He ran towards the gate only to collide with a solid wall. Wall on all sides. Enclosed. Trapped. He was somewhere safe. Safe and closed and dark and alone until Dad came for him. The door was sealed and there was no way out, and in the dark he screamed—

Ben Sanders jolted, sitting bolt upright, panting. Iron bands squeezed his chest. He twisted frantically towards the glowing nightlight on the stool beside his bed. Staring at it, he counted down from thirty until his heartbeat evened out, and he could breathe again. He always kept the lighting low throughout the studio in case the nightlight failed. A shaft of white cracked through the ajar bathroom door. Not dark. Never dark.

His sheets clung to him, soaked with sweat. He pushed them aside and got out of the bed on unsteady legs. It took more effort than he liked to make it to the bathroom. He sank to the floor to sit by the toilet. The porcelain was cold as he propped his elbow on the seat, his fingers sinking into his sweat-matted hair.

Every night, it was getting worse. He knew why. How could he not? With every day that went by, he took another step closer to the day that would ruin his life. Time, time, time. That was what it came down to.

His stomach clenched, and he vomited, acid burning in his throat.

Any day now.

He got up and filled a glass of water at the sink. His reflection seemed more like someone half-dead, pale, with deep shadows beneath his eyes. He needed to rest, but not now. Not with his heart still pounding and the faint echo of his father’s voice lingering in his ears.

There was still so much to do.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

C.B. Lewis is small, Scottish and writes pretty much anywhere, any time. She loves to travel and tends to bring home at least four new plot bunnies from every trip she goes on. She’s very excited to continue the adventures of the Out of Time series.

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Check Out the New Release Blitz for Unraveling by Rick R. Reed (excerpt and giveaway)

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Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 13, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 68300

Genre: Contemporary LGBT, deep closet, coming out, men with children, virgin, #ownvoices, humorous, EMT

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Synopsis

Randy Kay has the perfect life with his beautiful wife and adorable son. But Randy’s living a lie, untrue to himself and everyone who knows him. He’s gay.

Marriage and fatherhood, which he thought could change him, have failed. He doubts if anyone can love him for who he really is—especially himself.

With his wife’s blessing, he sets out to explore the gay world he’s hidden from all his life.

John Walsh, a paramedic with the Chicago Fire Department, is comfortable in his own skin as a gay man, yet he can never find someone who shares his desire to create a real relationship, a true family.

When Randy and John first spy each other in Chicago’s Boystown, all kinds of alarms go off—some of joy, others of deep-seated fear.

Randy and John must surmount multiple hurdles on the journey to a lasting, meaningful love. Will they succeed or will their chance at love go up in flames, destroyed by missed connections and a lack of self-acceptance?

Excerpt

Unraveling
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
RANDY

I have my death all planned out.

Unlike the thirty-two years that have gone before, I want my passing to be peaceful and free of the discord and pain I’ve lived with for as long as I can remember. I want it to be easy. Effortless. Guilt-free.

Whether it’s any of those things remains to be seen.

I’ve rented this hotel room at a small boutique hotel off Michigan Avenue. The Crewe House has been standing on this same ground on Oak Street for at least a hundred years. The rooms are small, fussy, and charming, with flocked wallpaper, four-poster beds, and claw-foot tubs and pedestal sinks in their black-and-white bathrooms. It’s charming, and I deserve something nice to gaze at before I close my eyes for good.

I have some sandalwood-scented candles lit, and the fragrance is warm, enveloping. Their soft flicker is the only illumination. Outside, the winter sky darkens early. Dusk’s cobalt blue makes silhouettes of the water towers, train tracks, and buildings to the west of the hotel. Near the horizon the sky is a shade of lavender that mesmerizes me, makes me think of changing my mind. If a sky like this can exist, with its electric bands of color, maybe the world isn’t such a horrible place.

Maybe I can go on.

No.

What else have I done to ease my passage into whatever comes next? I have a bottle of Veuve Cliquot, my favorite champagne, uncorked and resting in a silver ice bucket, filled with melting ice. A flute stands next to it, waiting.

I’ll wash the sleeping pills down with the bubbly.

Before getting into bed, I’ll turn on the cassette I have in my boombox, Abbey Road. I have it queued up to “Golden Slumbers.”

I’ve been carrying this weight for such a long time.

I long for smiles.

At last, I’ll undress and stretch out on the four-poster. I’ll pull the eiderdown duvet loosely over me and close my eyes.

The plan is I will slowly slip under, my brain becoming a soft velvety fog, and I’ll simply fall into the arms of a comforting—and obliterating—slumber.

I will not dream.

It won’t take long.

And I’ll leave a beautiful corpse.

That’s the plan, anyway. Some of my research into this method of offing myself runs counter to this gentle fantasy, but I don’t want to consider the downside of overdosing on strong barbiturates.

I want to go to sleep.

I want to forget the impossibility of being able to become the man I know I should be.

Husband.

Father.

I blink back tears as I sit on the bed, staring out at the deepening twilight. They don’t deserve this: what you’re going to leave them with. I know the voice inside, the one that’s always made me do the right thing, at the expense of my very being, is right. And even though they don’t deserve it, you know they will hurt, of course they will, but in the end, they’ll be better off.

Who wants a husband and father who can’t seem to make himself straight, despite trying therapy, the Catholic Church, the Buddhist faith, self-help groups, and self-help books. A group of pathetic married men meeting once a month and thinking they can change. Nothing works. If I could change, I would.

And since I can’t change, I’m left with three options:

Accept myself as I am. How can I do that? I’d be a failure as a husband, a father, a son, a brother. I’d go on wearing this suffocating mask. I’d continue to live a life that’s essentially a lie.

Everyone who loves me doesn’t even know me.

They love a façade, a projection, a mirage made of wishes, impossible hopes, and self-hatred.

No, acceptance is not an option. It never was.

Second, I could resist. I could knuckle down and brace myself against the attractions I feel, the dreams that pop up in my sleep despite my desperately not wanting them there. I could hold myself back from falling prey to the temptations I feel on the streets, the subway, the locker rooms—everywhere I encounter a beautiful man.

The reason I find myself here is because I can’t resist. Not anymore.

And the third option is simply the one I have to choose—remove myself from the pain. Remove myself from existing as this broken thing that God nor man can fix.

Yes, Violet and Henry both will find a way to move on, and they’ll be happier, more anchored in life without me.

Who needs a gay dad? Or a husband who, deep down, doesn’t want what his wife has to offer? Or worse, a dad who contracts the death sentence of AIDS?

Enough of the grim thoughts. They were not part of my plan. Tonight, I go out peacefully. I’ll shut my eyes and remember things like my joy six years ago when Henry was born and seeing him take his first breath. I shouted, “We got a boy!” and fell into the deepest, most effortless love I’ve ever felt. I’ll remember proposing to Violet when we were both college sophomores and the thrill when she accepted the cheap diamond-chips ring I gave her. Things will be okay now, I remember thinking. I can change.

I really believed that. And I know I love Violet as best I can.

It’s sad when your best simply isn’t good enough.

I reach over for the bottle of sleeping pills on the nightstand. There are thirty of them, and I intend to take them all, two or three at a time. If it takes the whole bottle of champagne to get them down, well, things could be worse. No?

I tip the bottle and look at the tablets against the dark wood, so innocent, yet so lethal.

I’m just reaching for one when there’s a sudden knock on the door. Loud. Forceful. Urgent.

“Randy? Randy? Open up, please.”

The door knob turns as Violet’s voice penetrates the heavy wood of the door, making her sound muffled.

I close my eyes. I could ignore her, hope she goes away.

How did she find out where I was anyway?

She wasn’t supposed to know until she got the letter, the one neatly folded and an arm’s length away on the nightstand.

Pounding. “Please!” Violet calls.

I gather the pills, shoving them back in the bottle, then hide the container in a nightstand drawer.

How will I explain?

I get up, cross the room, and open the door.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.

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Check Out the Book Blitz for Breaking the Surface (The Outsider Project #2) by Rebecca Langham (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Breaking the Surface

Series: The Outsider Project, Book Two

Author: Rebecca Langham

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 13, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 81300

Genre: Science Fiction LGBT, captivity, interspecies, politics, Sci-fi, teacher, futuristic, lesbian, space

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Synopsis

Alessia is an Outsider—a member of the not-quite-human community that has recently been released from their underground prison. Shortly after their liberation, Alessia is given an ultimatum: obey all the United Earth Alliance’s demands, or her mother will forever remain a hostage—a mother she’d believed dead for fifteen years. Reluctantly, she agrees, though she has no idea what those demands may be or how she will balance her obligations to the UEA with her responsibilities to her people and her family.

As the UEA tightens its grip on humans and Outsiders alike, it becomes clear that meaningful social change will not be possible without a revolution. Alessia and her peers embark on a mission to discover just how far the government is willing to go to maintain their monopoly on power.

What Alessia and her comrades discover, however, goes much deeper than they’d ever anticipated. Who are the Outsiders, really? What secrets of their destiny lay hidden within a top-secret space station? And why are the Outsiders linked to an emerging disease the UEA seems desperate to keep secret? As they delve deeper, it isn’t only Alessia’s identity that will be called into question, but the fate of the entire planet.

Excerpt

Breaking the Surface
Rebecca Langham © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Lydia wanted so badly to pace, to burn away her fear one exaggerated step at a time, but there was nowhere to go, no floor space to haunt. The Camp had been a sanctuary for them all, keeping her friends safe from unwanted attention since they’d taken their first steps as free people, but now it suffocated her. It may have been off-the-grid, but the complex was also small. Too small.

Given the number of people in the control room, she had to settle for crossing her arms over her stomach and gritting her teeth. But even then, she couldn’t silence the dissenting voice in her head. Something wasn’t right. Why would the United Earth Alliance be demanding a meeting so forcefully?

The UEA had been quiet in the two weeks since the Outsiders relocated from the colonies, granting an eerie yet welcome period of radio silence. Now they’d not only made contact, but threatened legal action if Alessia and the Green Hats didn’t acquiesce to an immediate communication with one of the government’s top advisers.

Lydia’s stomach churned.

As though reading her thoughts, Alessia slid her hand into Lydia’s and squeezed her fingers. Lydia forced a weak smile as she turned. “I don’t trust them.”

Alessia’s face—which, more than ever, reminded Lydia of a finely carved alabaster statue— softened.

“Of course not,” she replied, her tone sympathetic yet firm. “But it may not be wise to ignore the request. This could be nothing more than an administrative issue and I don’t want to invite trouble, not so soon after the release.”

“I don’t think you can ignore it, Ly-dee.” Helen swivelled gently in an office chair, forearms resting on her thighs as she considered her daughter. After all those years without Helen’s presence, hearing that fruity voice still managed to surprise her from time to time. Lydia had believed her mother to be dead for years. Finding out she hadn’t died, but rather become a kind of political hacker, was unsettling to say the least.

Life had changed so much in the last nine months. Alessia did not remain trapped beneath the ground, and Helen had re-emerged from the void.

No longer living with her politician father, even Lydia had been partially freed from the web of her old insecurities and frustrations. Sometimes though, it seemed like those frustrations had dissolved only to be replaced by a whole slew of new concerns. It had been a lot to process.

Helen sighed, a little too dramatically. She reached for a cup of tea she’d left cooling on a nearby bench and cradled it between her hands. “We knew they’d get their claws back in sooner or later.”

“Two weeks,” Lydia huffed. “They only waited two weeks. Please can’t we refuse?” The frustration in her voice exposed Lydia’s raw emotional state in a way she wasn’t comfortable with. Until recently, she’d worked hard to present a subdued version of her thoughts to the outside world. With such a prominent father, she’d had to if she had any hope of protecting herself from those who sought to exploit her. Whether it be to splash her personal life about the goss-channels, or to pressure her to influence her father regarding some political issue or another, there had been no shortage of people trying to use Lydia. It had been a kind of self-preservation to surround herself in the dark veil she’d become enveloped in, making it harder for people to really see her. But then Alessia had burst into her life, a quiet yet powerful blaze of light.

Alessia and the other Outsiders had reached right into her and reawakened feelings and sensations she’d muted long ago.

“Is refusing a good idea?” Peleus looked up from where he sat cross-legged on the floor a couple of metres away from Helen. Peleus had been one of her earliest and most faithful followers and friends, embracing her efforts to slowly change culture in the colony by sharing positive stories and messages with the children. “They’re providing accommodations and integration assistance to the four thousand Os who’ve had their entire existence uprooted. Not taking their meeting might give the UEA reason to withdraw support.” As Alessia’s confidante, Peleus’s presence always lent a certain sense of thoughtful tranquillity to a situation.

Alessia pulled Lydia closer until their bodies pressed together, banishing the air between them and soothing Lydia’s nerves a little. They’d barely had time to catch their breath since Release Day. When they had finally pushed their way through the obscenely large crowd of onlookers in Thracia after the ceremony, they’d boarded an air-transport and come directly here to the Green Hat headquarters in Quadrant Four.

Affectionately known by its inhabitants as the Camp, the secure underground complex supported a community of approximately a hundred people. Every one of them had dedicated their lives to undermining the UEA’s ever-worsening abuses of its own laws.

The main control room at the Camp was capacious and circular, with curved desks and ergonomic chairs that hugged the wall. Each workstation offered a user access to the G-Hat virtual network, but to connect with the outside world, one had to utilise the cylindrical, glassy tower in the centre of the room. A reflective pillar when inactive, the hub featured a projector that sent holograms into the middle of the tower as required.

The hub worked much the same way as any Hive wall, but with some modifications helping to prevent hacks into the rest of their system. It was also perfect for situations in which more than one person needed to participate in a communication link. Lydia believed the entire setup was nothing short of spectacular. No doubt they’d been able to develop the untraceable consoles only because of whatever financial support the MacNay Corporation had been providing.

Still, Alessia and Lydia had traded one isolated abode for another. At least this one wasn’t full of protectors or tainted by decades of oppression. Greys had been replaced with blues, locked doors with open spaces, and obstacles with possibilities.

The dormitory was unfortunate, though. Each night, the enticing heat of Alessia’s body rejuvenated Lydia, yet they were acutely aware of the other people sleeping nearby, and so Lydia had accepted the fact they’d have no privacy for the foreseeable future.

In truth, she experienced relief and disappointment in equal measure. They’d only spent a few weeks getting to know one another in the Q4C, after a month of silent glances in crowded corridors. The six months of separation following Lydia’s departure had done little to quiet Lydia’s fears her connection to Alessia wasn’t as strong as she’d thought, that perhaps she’d imagined the whole thing given the immediacy of their attraction. Slowing things down, being with one another without expectation, could be the best way for Lydia to validate the tether between the two of them.

The rest of the refugees had been relocated to government-sponsored accommodations in the major cities of Thracia and New Sydney. Only Peleus and Fermi knew exactly where to find Alessia, and Lydia wanted it to stay that way for the moment, regardless of Alessia’s initial protestations.

The entire world knew Alessia’s face now, and there was no way to predict how she’d be received by the mainstream population or what her own people might expect from her as their de facto leader. Leader.

Lydia rested the side of her face against Alessia’s bicep. Her stomach clenched as she capitulated. “Peleus is right, isn’t he? We should hear them out.”

Alessia kissed the top of Lydia’s head, then nodded. “Yes.” She looked at Lydia’s mother. “Helen, I’m ready.”

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Don’t miss Book #1 in the The Outsider Project series, Beneath the Surface, available from NineStar Press

Meet the Author

Rebecca Langham lives in the Blue Mountains (Australia) with her partner, three children, and menagerie of pets. A Xenite, a Whovian and all-round general nerd, she’s a lover of science fiction, comic books, and caffeine. When she isn’t teaching History to high schoolers or wrangling children, Rebecca enjoys playing broomball and reading.

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A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Forbidden Bond by Lee Colgin

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Rating: 3.25 stars out of 5

Historically enemies, there is now a peace treaty between vampires and shifters. As vampires push to announce their existence to humans in the face of technological advances in order to control the PR, many shifters disagree, threatening the peace. The real problem is that it’s just an armistice: there is no integration or friendship. Sinclair, a living vampire, has been accepted at a shifter college for graduate study, which is an historic opportunity. His father, who presides over the Vampire Council, is worried about his safety. He might be right as Sinclair is met with hostility and suspicion. The POV then switches to Mitchel, the Alpha on campus, whose uncle Marcus runs the Werewolf Council. Mitchel’s parents where killed by vampires, so he has no love of their kind. As Sinclair and Mitchel actually get to know each other, they become friends while they try to help maintain peace between their species. Others struggle to accept a world where vampire and werewolf date and humans know of their existence.

Each chapter is started by a news report updating the reader about the issues and fears in the supernatural community. I thought it was a little gimmicky. This is firmly in the new adult genre even though Mitchel is older. It has an enemies to lovers, slow burn vibe–fun, flirty, a little juvenile–at the beginning. Then, all of the sudden, their relationship is serious with sexy times and a violent, action packed plotline. The vampires are ruthless and bloodthirsty when threatened, while the wolves come off as more squeamish and less prepared for violence. Other supernatural species are mentioned in passing, but not focused on so they have no face. It was great to see Erika as a strong female Alpha wolf who takes charge in the crisis, yet none of the secondary characters are very detailed. This story is enjoyable even though it doesn’t break any new ground in this subgenre.

The cover art by Natasha Snow works well with the titles to convey much of the story.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Book Details:

ebook
Published December 23rd 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN13 9781951880064

Love a Cozy Mystery? Check Out the New Release Tour for Boiling Over (The Caro Mysteries #2) by Thea McAlistair (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Boiling Over

Series: The Caro Mysteries, Book Two

Author: Thea McAlistair

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 6, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 73800

Genre: Historical LGBT, gay, historical mystery, cozy mystery, age gap, established couple, mental illness, anxiety, PTSD, private detective, New England

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Synopsis

On the run from trumped-up murder charges, Alex Dawson and his boyfriend Sev settle in a small town in Vermont on the recommendation of Sev’s mob-boss cousin Bella. Chickadee is so tiny that it has only one major employer in the depths of the Great Depression: Trask & Co. Maple Sugar Mill. It’s a quiet place. That is, until Walter Trask is found in his own maple grove with his head smashed in.

Alex doesn’t want to have anything to do with the death, but things get much more personal when Bella is falsely arrested. Determined to free her and even the scales, Alex scours the town for clues as to what really happened. He quickly learns that small towns have big secrets that people may be willing to kill for. And if that weren’t bad enough, Alex and Sev’s once-sweet relationship is turning bitter under the combined pressures of isolation, anxiety, and jealousy. Alex needs to find the true murderer quickly before Bella is turned over to the feds, or worse, Sev walks out of his life forever.

Excerpt

Boiling Over
Thea McAlistair © 2020
All Rights Reserved

When Sev first asked me to run away with him, he’d mentioned exotic places like India and Australia, warm countries far away from the seedy city we were living in. It had sounded romantic and wonderful, and when we finally left—well, fled—I had hopes of going somewhere like that. Instead, we ended up in Chickadee, Vermont.

Chickadee was a small town, about a half-hour drive from the Canadian border and about a six-hour drive from our old home in Connecticut. In all my twenty-three years, I’d never set foot in the countryside, and now there was all this empty space. Blue sky. Trees. Cows.

“Bella wants us to stay here?” I asked as I gaped at the maple forest flashing by the car window. “It’s so…rustic.”

“Well, just think, Alex,” grumbled Sev, his faint Italian accent tinged with unease as he guided the rickety borrowed Oldsmobile over bumps on the dirt road, “it’s better than the alternatives, yes?”

Considering the alternatives were dead and arrested for murder, he was right. Less than a month ago, I’d been living my dull life, writing during the day and serving as a bodyguard for the mayor in the evenings, and then all hell broke loose. Now nine people were dead, including my friends Martin and Donnie, and the corrupt cops wouldn’t even think of hearing my side of the story. Targeting the big guy with a chip on his shoulder the size of New England was almost too easy for them.

“It’s pretty here!” chimed Pearl from the back.

I twisted to look at her. She perched on the edge of the seat, her already-large eyes expanded in wonder. Her cat, Daisy, sulked in a metal cage next to her. I still wasn’t sure it’d been the brightest idea to take a six-year-old on the lam with us, but it was too late now. At least she seemed to be enjoying the trip. And why wouldn’t she? She wasn’t the one running from murder charges.

“Bit different from the city, huh?” I asked, careful to keep my voice cheerful for her.

She nodded and returned to staring at the trees.

I slumped back into my seat, grateful she didn’t seem to share my unease.

Sev nudged my arm. “Which road do I take?”

I straightened and peered out the windshield. We were coming up on an intersection, if a split of one dirt track into two could be called that. I scrambled to unfold the map I’d crumpled in my distraction. Sev’s cousin Bella—the most notorious gangster in Westwick—had given us these directions and all our fake identification papers first thing that morning.

Why Bella had chosen Chickadee to hide us from the cops was a mystery. She hadn’t given me a straight answer when I asked, only that she had friends there and Sev would be working with one of them. Most likely the location had something to do with the rum-running routes she’d controlled until about six months ago. While the end of Prohibition had cut the bottom out from under her main moneymaker, there were many other ways to make an illegal living, and why leave when she already had a foot in the door?

“Left,” I said, tracing the hand-drawn line with my finger. “Looks like another mile and we reach town.”

Sev obeyed, taking the left fork. The car turned in a wide arc around yet more trees. Both sides of the road were obscured by underbrush and shadow. Sev swore under his breath in Italian and slowed even more.

“They should clear this,” he muttered. “Someone’s going to get hit one day.”

“Who’s going to get hit?” I answered. “There’s no one out he—”

Sev slammed the brakes as a figure darted from between the trunks. I jolted forward and got the wind knocked out of me as I smacked into the dashboard. Pearl screamed, tumbling into the back of my seat. The rattle of the cat cage almost drowned out Daisy’s yowls.

Blinded by pain, I groped for Sev. “Everyone okay?” I gasped.

He grabbed my hand and squeezed. “Fine,” he said.

Pearl wailed. I turned, ignoring the objections of my bruised ribs. She huddled in the space between the back bench and the front seat, clutching her wrist. My already-pitching stomach dropped. I’d brought her with us to get her away from all the pain in her past, and now here was more. I scrambled out the door and around the back to get her.

“You’re all right; you’re all right,” I mumbled in an effort to convince myself my assurance was true. “Can I see?”

Pearl snuffled and presented her arm. Already her wrist was red and swelling. I held back the curses bubbling in my mind. In a flash of anger, I whipped around to see what jackass had done this.

To my surprise, I only saw a girl straddling a sturdy bike. She was maybe sixteen or seventeen, wearing men’s dungarees and a gingham shirt. Freckles were splattered across her face, and ash-blonde braids draped down her back. She gnawed on her lip, her eyes huge with fear.

“I’m so sorry,” she squeaked. “There’s almost never anyone out here—”

“Alex?” Sev called. He sounded muffled. I looked at the driver’s side door. He had gotten out and had one hand curled around the lower half of his face while the other scrambled in a pocket. “I think I might have been mistaken when I said I was fine.” He pulled out a handkerchief, and I saw both his nose and his upper lip were bleeding.

Fear, anger, and unbidden memories tangled up in my mind, freezing my mouth in one slack-jawed position, keeping me mute.

Purchase

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

Don’t miss Book #1 in the Caro Mysteries series, No Good Men, available from NineStar Press

In 1934, almost everyone struggles to pay the rent, and Alex Dawson is no exception. To support his writing habit, he moonlights with his mentor Donnie as a bodyguard for the mayor. It’s dull work, until the night a handsome, golden-eyed stranger catches his eye–and both his boss and his mentor are killed when his back is turned.

Jobless and emotionally adrift, Alex vows to find the murderer before the corrupt police can pin the blame on him. But he soon discovers he’s in over his head. The golden-eyed stranger turns out to be a mob boss’s cousin, and a suspicious stack of money in Donnie’s dresser leads Alex to discover that his mentor and the mayor were involved in something more crooked than fundraising dinners and campaign speeches. As the death count rises amid corruption, mob politics, and anarchist plots, Alex realizes that the murders aren’t political or even business. This is the work of a spree killer, and Alex and his new boyfriend are the only ones who can stop them.

Meet the Author

Thea McAlistair is the pseudonym of an otherwise terribly boring office worker from New Jersey. She studied archaeology, anthropology, history, architecture, and public policy, but none of those panned out, so she decided to go back to an early love – writing. She can often be found muttering to herself about her latest draft at completely inappropriate times.

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