New Release Book Blitz Demon Familiar (Wanted #1) by Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham (except and giveaway)

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Title:  Demon Familiar

Series: Wanted #1

Author: Bellora Quinn and Sadie Rose Bermingham

Publisher: Pride Publishing

Release Date: June 19th 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 96,000 words

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Alternate Reality

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Synopsis

Sometimes when you don’t know what you want, life gives you what you need.

When Neil Markovic witnesses the murder of his mother by Bone Men his world is thrown into turmoil. On the run from the assassins that killed her, his sorcerer father and the police, Neil finds help in the form of a tall half fae alchemist named Malachai. Mal seems more accepting than most of Neil’s demon bloodline, but curiously immune to his charms.

Malachai Valentine, disgraced scion of a noble Leprechaun clan, back in the Old Country, is happy living as an anonymous scrap dealer. Using his talent for alchemy to make fuel and potions, most days he doesn’t even think of his ruinous past. When a scared young man with a fancy car crashes into his life, at first, Mal thinks he can do without the hassle. But as Neil begins to get under his skin, Mal starts to reassess his hopes and ambitions.

Harassed by megalomaniac fae and stalked by sorcerous killers at every turn, Malachai and Neil must fight to be free, and to find what they both truly wanted.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder and non-consensual sex.

Excerpt

Neil set the bushel of summer squash into the panel van with the rest of the produce ready to go to market tomorrow morning and jumped down. Mr. Yaetz patted him on the back. “That’s the last one. Good job, Neil. You best head home now. Don’t want to get caught outside the wards after nightfall, ’specially not in that fancy car.”

Neil stifled a wince and forced himself not to look around to see who might have overheard the mention of his ‘fancy car’. Mr. Yaetz didn’t mean anything by it, but the car was a sore point with his co-workers at the small greenhouse and urban farm lot. None of them had their own vehicle, much less a sleek convertible sports car. Explaining that it was his mother’s, not his, hadn’t stopped the digs about his ‘slumming with the common folk’ or brought him any closer to the camaraderie the rest of them shared.

“Thanks, Mr. Yaetz. I’ll see you tomorrow,” Neil told him and turned toward the front lot. He glanced at the horizon automatically, judging how much time he had. About forty-five minutes, maybe an hour. More than enough for the short drive home. He wasn’t likely to come across any shadow beasts here on the outskirts of the city but a pack hunting farther afield was always a possibility. Of course, if he did run across shadow beasts, they would have to catch him first and the Maserati was both fast and agile.

Neil slid behind the wheel and the powerful engine purred to life. With the sun slowly sinking behind him, he swung the car out onto the road and headed for home.

As expected, Neil pulled into the driveway with plenty of daylight left and no encounters with any creatures that came out after dark. Climbing the front steps, his thoughts preoccupied with a shower and dinner, he almost missed the broken seal on his front door. He stopped cold. The warding glyph, usually a subtle shimmering gold, was inert, dull gray and cracked with lines of black. A sick knot cramped in his belly and Neil pressed his thumb down on the latch and pushed the door open but hesitated on the threshold.

“Mom?”

He listened. No answer.

Neil stepped into the foyer and slowly moved into the hall. A picture had been knocked off the wall and the broken glass from the frame glittered in the fading sunlight streaming in behind him.

“Mom?” he called again, louder.

Something crashed in the kitchen, the metallic clatter of pans hitting the tile floor. Neil ran in that direction.

His mother screamed, “Neil, get out! Get out!”

Heart hammering, he skidded into the kitchen. A black-clad, hooded man held on to his struggling mother. Another man stood next to them with a curved knife in his hand—his eyes were flat black and icy cold as they slid over him. Neil rushed them, yelling, “Get away from her!” The man with the knife lifted his free arm and flung the outstretched fingers of his empty hand at him. Neil hit the stop spell so hard it jarred him from teeth to toes, knocking him on his ass.

“Neil!” his mother shrieked.

He lifted his head in time to see the man who had floored him lift the knife and draw it down the side of her throat and across her shoulder in two professional, vicious slashes. The other man let her go as her eyes went wide and her hands flew up to clutch at the wounds. The blood didn’t spray everywhere like it did in the movies. It welled up in a gush of red that soaked the front of her shirt as she choked and gasped then fell down on her knees.

“Mom! No!” Neil scrambled to his feet. The two men moved toward him in unison as his mother crumpled, face down on the floor. Her body sounded like a wet rag hitting the tiles and a shocking pool of red spread under her.

“Take him,” the one holding the bloody knife said. His voice was low, emotionless and without accent, like an automaton in one of the old films they occasionally streamed when the comms satellite was functioning.

On autopilot, Neil grabbed the pendant that hung on the chain around his neck and ripped it off, throwing it on the floor. The man reached to stop him, but it was too late. The glass pendant shattered and a wall of noxious smoke rose between him and the killers. It wouldn’t hold them long, a minute if he was lucky. Probably less. He turned and ran back down the hall, fleeing the house.

He stumbled down the steps and fumbled the keys from his pocket, hitting the lock button. He yanked the door open and was shaking so badly he dropped the keys on the floor.

“Fuck! Fuck!” He reached down and his fingers just touched the ring as the killers came running out of the front door. Neil grabbed the keyring and jammed the right key in the ignition. For one horrible second, he was sure it wouldn’t start even though he’d just driven the car home. The engine turned over as smooth as a kitten’s purr and he slammed the shifter in reverse just as the man with the blade grabbed the driver’s door handle. Neil put his foot down on the pedal. The tires squealed and the car shot backward down the driveway and into the street.

Blood pounded in his ears, almost drowning out the engine sounds as he threw the car into drive and floored the gas, clutching the steering wheel hard enough to turn his knuckles white. He looked in the rear-view mirror as he sped away. They would come after him. He turned at the next intersection. Then turned again. And again. He tried to focus on what to do next but all he could see was the shock and anguish on his mother’s face before she fell, and that bright pool of red spreading out under her. He looked in the mirror again but saw no sign of the men that had killed her. That didn’t mean anything. They could come, he knew it. He was heading out of the city following pure instinct, but now he slowed the car for just a moment. At the next turn, he doubled back the way he’d come.

Out of the city might seem safer, but it wasn’t. He had little money and the car would take him only so far. He needed resources.

He forced his fingers to relax on the steering wheel but his hands still shook. When he took a breath, it was shaky too. The red had been so stark against her blonde hair. Her eyes…had they been blank before she fell or after she hit the floor? No. No he couldn’t think of that now. He raised and hand and swiped at his wet cheeks.

Bone Men. Their name whispered across Neil’s mind in his father’s voice, from one of his many lessons. Assassins. Twisted by the sorcery that enhanced them, marked by the lives they took. Had she been their target? Was her death retribution for something his father had done? Or…or were they there for him?

His mind raced as fast as his pulse and the car he was driving. He took another deep breath and eased his foot back off the pedal a few degrees. He needed a clear head. He needed a plan. But first he needed somewhere to hide. Instinct told him to find someone he trusted, but his training overrode that idea. He could hear his father’s voice in his ear again. Trust no one, Nielob. If they come for you, go to ground. Speak to no one you know. Hide and wait. I will find you.

Not if he could help it. If he had his way, he’d lose both the Bone Men and his father, for good. The car would get him a good distance but he couldn’t keep it. It was traceable. He’d drive into the city, find someone he could sell the car to for scrap and use the money to get a ticket to as far away as it would take him.

He couldn’t take the car directly to a salvage yard without a title, too risky. He needed a fence. Months ago, while he’d been watering seedlings at work, he’d overheard Carl bragging about how his uncle was going to get a real car, one with a combustion engine. No one had believed him and Carl had gotten mad. Insisted his uncle knew a guy that dealt in contraband autos in the city. Hammersfell Road, next to the old Ackard Motors factory. There was a warehouse where they had raves. The fence organized them. Neil had no way of knowing if the bragging was just lies, but he had filed the information away anyway. His chin gave an odd quiver and the tightness in his throat squeezed hard enough to choke him. No. He couldn’t give in to tears now. He couldn’t afford to let out the sobs that threatened him. A safe place first. The grief tasted of bitter acid and wanted to strangle him, but he swallowed it down and kept going.

Purchase

Pride Publishing | Amazon

Meet the Author

Bellora Quinn

Originally hailing from Detroit Michigan, Bellora now resides on the sunny Gulf Coast of Florida where a herd of Dachshunds keeps her entertained. She got her start in writing at the dawn of the internet when she discovered PbEMs (Play by email) and found a passion for collaborative writing and steamy hot erotica. Soap Opera like blogs soon followed and eventually full novels. The majority of her stories are in the M/M genre with urban fantasy or paranormal settings and many with a strong BDSM flavour.

Sadie Rose Bermingham

A storyteller since before she started school, Sadie also enjoys reading, photography, live music and long walks on the beach. Sadie has worked as a bookseller, a pedigree editor for the racing industry and a local and family history researcher. Originally from the north of England, she has been working her way across the UK ever since. She currently resides on the south east coast with her long term partner, where she hopes to buy a mobile home and establish a whippet farm.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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New Release Blitz for – To Have and to Hold ( Enchanting Encounters #2) by Tamryn Eradani (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  To Have and to Hold

Series: Enchanting Encounters, Book Two

Author: Tamryn Eradani

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: June 11, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 57300

Genre: Contemporary, Contemporary romance, BDSM, multiple partners, fetish club, college lecturer

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Synopsis

Following the success of Project: Notice Me, Kyle and Aidan are now in a three-month extension of their play. If three months wasn’t so short, then it would be everything Kyle wants.

They’ve been together long enough to meet each other’s friends and to try new things. Kyle only hopes that at the end of the three months, he isn’t the only one who wants more.

Excerpt

To Have and to Hold
Tamryn Eradani © 2018
All Rights Reserved

“I can drive myself tonight,” Kyle says as he rummages through his closet for the third time in the past five minutes. Jenny’s been here for fifteen, amused as he worked himself into a panic, but now her arms are crossed over her chest, and she’s moving into impatient territory as he can’t settle on what he wants to wear. “You and Charlotte should head out.”

Tonight, Kyle’s two best friends, Jenny and Charlotte, are meeting his Dom for the first time.

Kyle’s been crushing on Aidan since the first time he saw him at Enchanting Encounters, the kink club he’s been frequenting for years now. After he managed to catch Aidan’s attention, they had a two-week trial period to see if they were compatible beyond physical attraction.

Now that they’ve extended their play to a three-month commitment, Kyle figures it’s time Aidan met the most important people in his life.

Well, that, and Jenny was determined to meet Aidan, whether Kyle was there or not, and he doesn’t need Jenny scaring him off.

“We’re not leaving you behind,” Jenny says. She sprawls across Kyle’s bed, making herself comfortable.

“Absolutely not,” Charlotte agrees, wandering in. She lies down next to Jenny, resting her head on Jenny’s stomach. “I’m not sure you’d ever make it.”

“Besides, if you drive in with me and Charlotte and we have to leave early, then you’ll have no choice but to catch a ride home with your man.”

“Huh,” Kyle says. It’s a good point. It’s a Wednesday night which means Aidan has afternoon classes tomorrow. Maybe he could go home with Aidan. Or have Aidan come home with him. As long as there’s bed sharing involved, Kyle isn’t picky on whose bed they sleep in.

“Never say I don’t do anything for you,” Jenny tells him. Then, “Put down that shirt. It’s basically see-through.”

“It looks good on me,” Kyle points out, but he puts the shirt back because it’s not appropriate for where they’re going. He picks up one of his polos and glances at his small collection of dress shirts. “Is this a date?”

“Ugh,” Jenny groans.

“Would it be bad if it was?” Charlotte asks.

“You’ve already seen each other naked,” Jenny says. “This can’t be more intimidating than that.”

“We haven’t actually seen each other naked,” Kyle says. That is something he’s going to change as soon as possible. “And you’re trying to distract me. Scenes are scenes and dates are dates. They’re different.”

“Put a damn shirt on so we can go,” Jenny says.

Kyle grabs a long-sleeve thermal to throw on. Shirt and jeans on, he only has one thing left to do. “Overnight bag.”

“I take it back,” Jenny says. “You can drive yourself, and every minute you’re late is a minute I have to ask Aidan questions.”

“Nope, you said you were giving me a ride. No takebacks.”

Packing an overnight bag is quicker than dressing himself for this maybe-date. Socks, boxers, pajamas, a black V-neck, his favorite briefs, and a toothbrush. He already has condoms and lube stashed in his bag, and he can’t think of anything else he might need.

“All set,” Kyle says.

“Fucking finally.”

“On second thought.” Kyle runs a hand through his hair. “Maybe…”

“No,” Jenny says. She jumps out of bed so she can slam Kyle’s bathroom door shut, cutting him off from his comb and his hair gel, and Kyle dissolves into laughter.

“All right,” Charlotte says, but she smiles at both of them. “Let’s go. We don’t want to be late. I want to make a good impression on Aidan.”

“He’ll love you,” Kyle promises.

Charlotte pats his cheek. “Then there’s nothing for you to worry about.”

Except I want him to love me too.

Kyle links his arm through Charlotte’s. “Come on, I’m in the mood for a beer and pretzels dipped in cheese sauce.”

“Gross,” Jenny says and leads them out the door.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Tamryn studied English and Creative Writing in school but has been writing since she could first hold a pencil. Recently, she’s turned her focus towards writing erotica. She enjoys writing stories where sex comes first, then feelings, because doing things out of order can be fun.

Tamryn has spent the past few months writing the Daniel and Ryan series with a lovely view of mountains out her window, and she’s now searching for a new mountain range to serve as her backdrop as she begins her next project.

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Release Blitz – Ice Fairy 3: Coming Together by S. L. Danielson (excerpt)

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Ice Fairy 3: Coming Together

Author: S. L. Danielson

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: Dan Skinner

Genre/s: contemporary m/m, new adult, romance, swapping partners

Length:  55,551 words/166 pages

Release Date: May 25, 2018

Goodreads

Blurb

Sexy sparks fly when four best friends become roommates… and more

With Olympic Gold in his possession, Sam is the newest darling of the skating world. Brett does his best to be supportive but the brighter the light shines on his boyfriend; the more he is left in the shadows. Cracks appear and the relationship begins to break down.

Their friends try their best to assist however they can. Their advice and support is crucial when Brett suspects Sam’s creepy agent is up to no good; and even more so when a dastardly plot by Sam’s own father is uncovered.

Can this couple finally come to terms with fame and find the peace they crave? An offer by Ryan and Caleb might provide the answers they seek…if they’re brave enough to take a leap of faith.

Is it too late for Brett and his precious Ice Fairy or can they come together?

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US 

Amazon UK 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Brett curled up on the couch in the basement; waiting for Sam to return from the bathroom. He’d muted the movie they were watching, “Star Trek; Into Darkness.” It’d become one of their new favorites in the very brief hours that they usually had together now. It was the only saving grace for Brett, who felt not only very left out of Sam’s newly found fame; he felt cracks forming in their nine month old relationship.

He had to chide himself for feeling and sounding like a woman to himself; a woman who missed her man more than anything and wished that they could have a lot more time together. But that just wasn’t happening. Not with how things were now. Brett was in college and was luckily on spring break. But it was only a week. What was a week in the life of his now very famous lover? The one that people called incessantly, especially his agent, or was it his accountant? Maybe his now very famous coach too? Or was it a reporter again?

Whoever the fuck it was, Brett wished they would vaporize. He wanted Sam to himself this evening, if they didn’t mind, thank you very fucking much!

After a grunt of a breath, Brett tried to stave off the headache that gnawed at every muscle and nerve in him. Why did it have to be this way? Everything before the Olympics had seemed so simple. They were a couple of guys in love, just living happily, going to college, skating, having some laughs, seeing their friends, and having sleepovers.

In fact, things had been awesome with Sam’s life; his father had apologized for all that he’d done and said; which wasn’t taken very seriously at first, but he’d convinced them and was back living at home with his wife and daughter. His now very famous son, Sam, was able to buy his own place if he wanted to. He stayed with his folks on a limited basis; the rest was traveling, making appearances, etc. But they weren’t with Brett at his side.

That, worst of all, tore at Brett’s heart. Jealousy. Suspicion that someone else would get to Sam’s heart the way he had, but maybe just did it way better, sans the teasing and tripping and bullying. Would he lose Sam to his newly found fame? It was heading straight to his beautiful head; and Brett hated every bit of it.

With every second that Sam was away from him lately, even though it’d been only two months since the Olympic win and their lives had changed forever…Brett missed his boyfriend. Even now, he wished they could spend the whole week together, uninterrupted; but he knew that was a pipe dream.

He grabbed a throw pillow and leaned his jaw on it, waiting for Sam’s return. As if he’d wished for it, he heard the door close and felt Sam’s strong arms around him once again.

“Hey, handsome.” Sam straddled over Brett’s lap, after he’d ditched the pillow of course, and they kissed deeply.

Now this was more like it! Holding Sam, getting to touch him, kiss him, taste his lips and his face, feel his body, and savor every cell of him.

“Mmm, there’s my Sam. I get to have you in my arms for more than a few minutes.” Brett was trying to be a good sport about all of this and to take his lover’s fame in stride. It was still tough, though.

Sam sat back and pouted. Boy, did that guy have such adorable expressions even when he was pouting. “I’m here right now, Brett. No one’s calling or bugging me. You have me all to your heart’s content.” He leaned in and kissed Brett again; they hung on for a long time after.

Well there was a small blessing anyway; not once had he heard Sam’s phone. Of course, it was likely on silent after the looks he got last time. They’d been interrupted no less than a dozen times on their last date. He could see a few; but that much? Hell no. He figured Sam likely took care of the messages while he was in the bathroom for almost ten minutes.

Putting aside his harsh thoughts on the whole situation, Brett just wanted to soak up all he could of his love. He held Sam close. “Stay with me? My folks are good about us being here; you know that. Hell, they buy breakfast for us sometimes.” He’d do anything to keep Sam there with him just that much longer.

“Brett…”

Shit, not this again. The now famous “I’d love to but I’ve got a…” fill in the blank from there. Photo shoot? Interview? Public appearance? This has gotten too old too fast.

“I know, I know,” Brett digressed. “We can be quick about it though; or just sit down here and hold each other under the blankets.” He waggled his brows. “Naked of course.” He held his lips open, so unsure of what Sam’s reaction would be, he wasn’t sure if he should smile or frown at this point.

“Brett… you know I want to…” Sam responded slowly, his dark eyes just peeking out from under his dark hair. There was a ‘but’ coming though; Brett knew it and he expected it. Sam had not been the same since his glorious win and the gold medal that had hung around his neck now dangled between them; not literally, but metaphorically. Though he wouldn’t be at all surprised if Sam wore the damn thing all the time.

“Sam, we don’t have to be out in the open here, we could go to the back bedroom or my room…” he was desperate just to hold his lover again. It’d been nearly three weeks since they’d been together sexually and he was about at the end of his rope. “Dammit, Sam. I need you, alright? I want to make love with you again; it’s been way too long.” He didn’t want to beg; but the situation was that bad.

At first, it looked like Sam would turn him down again, because he didn’t respond. But as the seconds passed and their eyes met, it looked like comprehension finally took hold. Sam nodded.

“Okay. I miss you too, Brett. Very much. Don’t you think I do too? I love sleeping with you and being naked together; it’s one of my favorite things. Time just…”

Brett held up his hand. “I know, baby. I know. But right now we’re here, and we’re good, and I want you.” He held Sam tighter and massaged his tight body. “Damn… am I ever ready.” He smiled and felt his cock pushing on his jeans. “Upstairs or here?”

They kissed deeply and savored each other’s mouths for a long moment before they answered that. It was more of a test to see just how horny the other one was. The answer was: very horny. Sam bucked against Brett and started to unbutton his shirt. “Down here. I couldn’t run all the way to your room.”

About the Author 

S. L. (Stephanie) Danielson began writing at the tender age of five. She knew it was her calling from the moment she put pen to paper. In her teens she began writing alternative works and the genre stuck. She created ever more elaborate tales and finally in her early 20’s years began to create works with her new love; male/male romance. She has since written more than 30 works (both solo and collaborations).

Stephanie is classically trained in business, accounting, and HR/training, possessing both an undergrad and graduate degree. She also owned and operated Romance First Publishing where the ultimate goal was to help other unknown, as well as known authors get their start in the publishing world.

Beyond writing, her other hobbies include: painting, gaming, and spending time with her husband and two cherished cats.

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New Release Blitz for Level Up by Annabeth Albert (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  LEVEL UP
Series: loosely related to the #gaymers series, but stands alone
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Annabeth Albert
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 40,000 words
Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

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Synopsis

 

 

Landon can’t believe he’s let himself get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.

However, Bailey ends up being not quite what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.

A tentative friendship is born, but the road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the line.

Approximately 40,000 words. Previously released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no on-screen violence or flashbacks.

Approximately 40,000 words. Previously
released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers
universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a
guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no
on-screen violence or flashbacks.

 

Excerpt

 

 

LEVEL UP EXCERPT—This is their first kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!

***

Bailey was the type who moved a lot as he gamed, biceps flexing, knees wiggling, shoulders jostling. Landon always liked people who got so into gaming, but it was more than a little distracting. His body was quickly coming to associate that orange scent of Bailey’s with good things, and other parts of him apparently liked Bailey’s nearness, which was a novelty because instead of intimidated, as he would have expected, he was more than a little turned on.

“Oh man, that was a rush.” Bailey laughed as both of their health meters dipped to zero. “I’m almost wishing I’d gone into game art, not photography. Amazing how these graphics have held up over the years.”

“Totally. And speaking of art, let me find the Space Villager stuff.” Landon reluctantly stepped away from the game. He headed to the nearby kitchen, where he was pretty the papers were buried with a stack of mail. Paper control was not his strong suit. “You’ll go nuts at the latest screen shots and promo teasers.”

“Cool.” Rather than follow Landon, Bailey went to sit on the couch.

“You want a drink while I’m in here?” Landon called to him after he found the papers under a pile of pizza ads. “I’ve got four flavors of Snapple, soda, and water.”

“Surprise me with a Snapple flavor.” Bailey looked right at home on Landon’s couch, lounging back.

He really did not look at all like any photographer Landon had ever met, and curiosity had him asking, “So why photography? You said you could have done game design?”

“Yeah, I had plenty of friends at the art institute go that direction. But I’ve been in love with photography ever since I worked on our middle school yearbook. I figured out quickly that taking pictures of events and sports was far more fun than trying to do the sports myself, so I did yearbook all through high school, got a photography scholarship to the art institute in Portland.”

“So you don’t play a sport?” Landon had a hard time believing that. With Bailey’s height and breadth, he totally looked like he lived for weekend games of some type.

“Nope. Hopelessly uncoordinated.” Bailey shot him an endearing smile when Landon handed him the bottle of tea.

“Me too.” Landon clinked bottles with him, then held up the papers. “Found the codes. But can I show you some stuff on the TV screen while you have your drink?”

“Absolutely.” Bailey took a long swig of tea, and Landon had to look away before he got mesmerized by Bailey’s full mouth, how it looked when his tongue chased a stray drop of moisture, how pink it was in contrast to his paler skin and brown beard.

Landon queued up the pre-release trailer Josiah had sent him a link to. Bombastic music filled his small living room as on the screen, and a spaceship pulled in for a landing on a planet filled with ruins of a once-powerful civilization. The narrator had an iconic voice and detailed all the special features of the expansion pack. Landon had already watched this a half-dozen times, and it still gave him happy chills.

“Wow. I can’t wait.” Bailey looked suitably awed. “This is even cooler than when War Elf added the mystic raids.”

“I know, right? Now look at the in-game screen shots.” He brought up another video, body relaxing more and more despite Bailey’s nearness. It was just so awesome to have someone new to share this with. He’d been hyped about this all week, but Pike was distracted by his boyfriend Zack’s deployment, Savannah didn’t game much, and the rest of his regular crew seemed to have other things occupying their attention.

Somehow, as he shared more video clips, he drifted closer to Bailey, so that their knees were almost rubbing. It wasn’t a giant couch, so there wasn’t a ton of room to move back, but even so, Landon wasn’t looking for an escape. He was aware of Bailey, very much so, but not nearly as freaked out as he’d been a few hours ago. Instead, his senses seemed to soak up Bailey’s scent and nearness, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth video that he realized that he was aroused.

Clink. Somehow Landon’s left hand, holding his drink, and Bailey’s right hand tangled.

“Oops.” He tried to extricate himself without spilling both beverages. Bending to put his on the floor, he hadn’t realized that Bailey had also leaned down until their heads collided.

“Ow,” they said simultaneously.

“Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry.” Bailey reached out, feeling around on Landon’s head. “Did you see stars? Break the skin?”

“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away. Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he stroked down Landon’s jaw. God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet. Arousing.

Bailey leaned in again, way slower this time, all the time in the world for Landon to stop him. But he didn’t. Bailey’s beard tickled an instant before their lips met, a soft slide of mouths. Not aggressive at all, not the on-a-tight-schedule rush of a hookup, Bailey kissed like they had a sleepy Sunday afternoon to kill, like each reaction of Landon’s mattered, like he was trying to memorize something important and was going to take his time learning the lesson.

Landon was the first one to take things further, mouth opening on a sigh, welcoming Bailey’s agile tongue. He tasted sweet, like tea, and minty like the gum he’d popped after the pizza, familiar yet new at the same time. How had he managed to forget how awesome kissing could be? A laugh bubbled up in his chest, but quickly transformed to a groan of pleasure as Bailey nipped at his lower lip.

Not content to let Bailey be the one exploring, Landon sent his own tongue on a quest, tracing Bailey’s full lower lip, delving inside to rub tongues, retreating playfully to earn another nip. Fuck. This was nice. The video switched over to something random, and he barely registered it. He couldn’t say how long they kissed, just that he didn’t want it to ever end.

Meet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

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

 

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| Instagram | Annabeth’s Newsletter | Annabeth’s Angels

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An Ali Audiobook Review: Leaning Into Touch (Leaning Into #4) by Lane Hayes and Nick J. Russo (Narrator)

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Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

Josh Sheehan is unlucky in love and now… newly unemployed. He’s not sure what to do next, but he’s sure he should give up on romance. Especially after last time. His friends warned him that falling for the hunky Irishman was a bad idea. Josh can’t help feeling torn even though he knows it’s best to move on. But when an unexpected dose of family drama blindsides him, Josh finds himself leaning on the one man he’s supposed to forget.

Finn Gallagher is driven by success. He makes no secret that building a name for his tech company is his number one goal. Finn left home a decade ago with a ton of regret, a heavy heart, and a vow to never repeat the same mistake twice. However, there is something undeniably appealing about the self-deprecating man with the silly sense of humor that makes it difficult for Finn to remember why falling for Josh is a bad idea. It soon becomes clear they’re both in deeper than they intended. There is no way to remain untouched. And there is so much to gain, if they’re brave enough to lean in.

I wasn’t sure about this book going into it.  Finn was portrayed in a pretty bad light in the previous book.  Then this one lets us know that Josh and Finn dated (but not officially) for six month and then Finn just disappeared.  A year later Finn and Josh cross paths and much to his dismay Josh is still terribly attracted to Finn.  Finn is still in a bad place when it comes to being in a relationship but the two men can’t seem to stay away from each other.
This story is told from Josh’s point of view and I adored him.  He’s a great guy and I empathized with the things he was going through.  Finn was a bit harder to connect with.  This was a book where the author probably should have done two points of view.  Finn is insecure and scare but we can’t really see that until the end.  For much of the book it seems that he doesn’t care for Josh anywhere near as much as Josh does for him.  I also found his reason for being scared of relationships kind of unrealistic.  
 I ended up really liking this one though. I thought the author did a great job though showing them falling in love and working through their issues. I think the author’s best strength is relationship development and MC’s that COMMUNICATE. I also liked how Josh’s relationship w/his dad was portrayed. That entire plot twist was done well.
The audiobook was narrated by Nick J.Russo who as usual did a very good with both of the main characters as well as all of the side characters.  I thought the narration added to the overall emotional feel of the story.
Cover:  I like the cover but it’s not my favorite of the series.  Nothing about the cover really stands out to me.
Sales Links:  Amazon Audible
Audiobook Details:
Audible Audio, Unabridged, 8 pages
Published April 16th 2018 by Lane Hayes (first published October 4th 2017)
Original TitleLeaning Into Touch
ASINB07C5SZKZL
Edition LanguageEnglish
SeriesLeaning Into #4

New Release Book Blitz for Astray (Wavesongs #1) by Elvira Bell (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Astray

Series: Wavesongs #1

Author: Elvira Bell

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 99,500 words

Genre: Romance, Historical fiction, LGBT, M/M, Coming of age, Pirates, Age gap

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Synopsis

Nick Andrews has grown up in poverty in a tiny village. All his life he’s been told that he’s useless. After getting one scolding too many he decides to go far away, off to sea. But his experience as a farmhand has done little to prepare him for the hardships of a sailor’s life.

When his ship is attacked by pirates, Nick’s life is miraculously spared by the notorious pirate captain, Christopher Hart—a man in charge of a crew feared for their brutality. Nick is forced to join the pirates, and he dreads finding out for what reason the captain has saved him.

But Hart is nothing like his reputation suggests, and Nick soon finds himself entangled in a relationship that could endanger both their lives. Unless Nick can help Hart on his quest to find a long lost treasure, their forbidden love may tear his new life apart.

Warning: This book ends with a cliffhanger, and it does not have a happy ending. The series as a whole will have a HEA ending.

Content note: This book contains dark themes and depictions of torture, murder, and rape.

Excerpt

Nick enters the cabin to find Hart sitting at the table. A book is open in front of him. Red-tinted sunlight floods the windows, casting a burnt orange glow over his hair and coat. He doesn’t look up as Nick steps inside and closes the door behind him.

“What did you want with me, sir?”

Hart sighs. Gives Nick a brief glance. “Ah, yes. My boots need a cleaning. Over there.” He points to the boots, neatly placed next to the door. “You should find what you need in that chest opposite them.”

Nick glances at the clogs on his own feet. Hart has not just one pair of footwear, but two—on his feet instead of the jackboots are black leather shoes. Sinking down to his knees, Nick gets to work. He grabs one of the boots, reaching for the cloth he’s found. His stomach clenches. All he can think of is that pool of blood around Stubbs’ head. He worries that Hart’s soles will be red, stained with the cabin boy’s blood. Thankfully, they aren’t. In fact, there’s not a trace of blood on them—almost as if they have been cleaned before.

Nick glances over to Hart. Did he clean his own boots before calling Nick in here? And if so, why? It makes no sense that he has wiped away the blood himself, when he could have made Nick do it.

Hart sighs and scribbles in the book. It’s unnerving to be alone with him and Nick feels relief surge through him when both boots are spotless and shiny.

“All done, sir.” He puts the boots back by the wall and stands up, turning to face Hart again.

The Captain doesn’t look at him. “Thank you.” Outside the window, the glowing sun has turned to just a sliver on the horizon. “That will be all.”

Available to purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m fiction with a touch of romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

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New Release Blitz for Deadly Dorian (Ward Security Series #3) by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Deadly Dorian

Series: Ward Security Series #3

Author: Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott

Publisher: Drake and Elliott Publishing LLC

Release Date: April 13, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 87K

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis

Someone is trying to kill Marc Foster.

Attempted poisoning was bad enough, but when the would-be killer messes with the brakes on Marc’s precious Porsche, the art dealer admits he needs help. He just wasn’t expecting help to be quite so dark and sexy.

Royce Karras loves his job at Ward Security. He’s making up for a lifetime of bad decisions and a bloody past he’d rather forget. But Marc isn’t the spoiled rich boy he thought he’d be protecting. Sticking close to Marc as his “boyfriend” gives Royce insight into his toxic family, but it also reveals a brilliant, compassionate man who completely disarms Royce. Against his better judgment, Royce finds himself falling.

But can they find a way to make it work when Royce’s past threatens to tear their lives apart? Their future hinges on a lost Renaissance painting, six Bichon Frises, and a pornographic Robin Hood.

No worries, right?

Excerpt

Marc Foster rose from one of the outdoor couches and came toward him with his right hand out. There was no missing how he shifted his left hand slightly behind his body, but Royce already caught sight of what looked like a bandage. He stood taller than Royce by several inches, his shoulders broad, his body slim. He wore a fashionable suit that probably cost more than a month of Royce’s salary.

But his damn face—that was going to be a problem.

He had the most fascinating combination of features Royce had ever seen. Sharp was the first description that came to mind. He had thick, black, slanting eyebrows over piercing, blue eyes, bladed cheekbones and chin—all of it coming together to form a stunning, intense face that was completely belied by the softest-looking, fullest lips he’d ever seen. The dichotomy of severe and overly sensual startled, sending a punch of surprising lust into Royce’s gut. Marc wore his dark brown hair long on top, and it looked like he’d been running his hands through it, because it curled back off his face in soft waves with one strand falling over his eye.

It was the perfect length for gripping.

“Royce Karras?”

“Yes.” He wanted to say more, but he felt momentarily tongue-tied and shocked. Rich playboys were far from the kind of men he usually liked to get rowdy with, so his gut reaction to this one made him feel off. He’d never been much of a talker, though. He hoped the man didn’t want a chatterbox for a pretend boyfriend.

The smile that stretched those full lips revealed teeth that went along with the program: sharp and flawlessly white. But the smile softened his features, making him seem more welcoming.

And…somewhat devastating. Royce would have no trouble pretending to be attracted to this man.

Marc nodded then, his gaze running down Royce’s body.

Royce wondered what he thought as he took in his black vest over the white button-down shirt tucked into dark jeans. Black motorcycle boots completed the look. He’d also rolled up his sleeves, leaving the tattoos on his left arm in plain sight. He’d trimmed his black beard close to his chin. Normally, he wore the company’s polo or T-shirts on jobs, but Andrei had asked him to “hot it up” a little so he’d appeal to a rich playboy.

He watched that rich playboy now as he eyed him, then turned back to Quinn. Royce followed his gaze to find his coworker standing silently, watching them with a funny smile on his face.

“He will work,” Marc said in a no-nonsense tone. “My acquaintances won’t question me wanting him.”

That particular word choice sent a blast of heat to Royce’s groin, and he ruthlessly ignored it. But the image that had surged into his mind had been this gorgeous, haughty man kneeling before him, and that was harder to push aside. He’d look so pretty like that, his head back, mouth open, waiting on instruction.

Royce knew, without a doubt, that he could have this man on his knees, that he could easily overpower him despite his taller form. If there was one thing that always played out in Royce’s favor, it was the steely strength he carried in his compact body. It had been the reason he’d been a very successful shylock for a bloodthirsty bookie in Virginia. He came with the element of surprise—always underestimated, always triumphant in a fight. He didn’t have the special martial arts training of a lot of his coworkers, but that didn’t matter. There was something to be said for sheer determination.

“You aren’t going to question if he’s big enough to fight someone off for you?” Quinn asked. “He gets that a lot.”

Marc smirked and brought those astute blue eyes back to him. “I have absolutely no doubt this man can protect me. Anyone paying close enough attention would see that he could easily take them down.”

Royce hoped the lust coating his last three words was only in his own imagination. A quick glance at Quinn told him it was not. And the IT guy was finding this situation highly amusing as he lifted one eyebrow behind his black-framed glasses.

Purchase

Drake and Elliott Publishing LLC | Amazon

Meet the Author

Who are Drake & Elliott?

Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.

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Release Day Blitz for Leaning into the Look by Lane Hayes (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Leaning Into the Look

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #6

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: March 23

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 82000

Genre: Romance, friends to lovers, san francisco, humor, businessmen

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Synopsis

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

Purchase at Amazon

Excerpt

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick façade of a bank building and pressed my lips over his. It was a bold move and not one I’d ever tried on any man in public before. But I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly freeing to share one of the bleaker parts of my past with him. I wanted to thank him somehow but that seemed awkward so I kissed him instead. I held his head and glided my tongue alongside his, loving the moment when he flung his arms over my shoulders and responded with fervor. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead on his and grinned.

“Your ass is pretty spectacular too, Mi.”

He chuckled good-naturedly. “Thanks.”

“No really. I think I’m love with it.” I lowered my hands down his back and squeezed his cheeks as I molded his pelvis to mine.

“That’s kind of romantic. But if you’re thinking about falling in love with me too…don’t.”

I backed up slightly to get a better look at him. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Pinky promise.” He held up his right hand and wiggled his fingers.

“What makes you think you’re so irresistible?” I asked, wrapping my pinky finger around his.

“I’m not and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. But I like you and I want you and…”

“And what you’re really saying is you don’t want to fall for me.” I kept my tone light, hoping a jocular vibe would steer us from turning this into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Maybe.”

“Look, Mi. I’m not—”

“No. Listen. Don’t make this into a big deal. It’s not. We’re going to have a grand adventure. Just me and you. We’ll do incredible things and have amazing conversations and lots of sex. And when it’s time to say good-bye, we won’t ruin it by pretending we were ever in love. What do you say?”

Nothing. I had nothing to say. All I could think was maybe he really was crazy because who said shit like that?

But when I looked past the lighthearted swagger I saw the cracks in his armor. He was scared and battered and raw on the inside. Kind of like me. And somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t an ex-lover that made him so cautious. I only knew he was right. We were a couple of oddballs who unexpectedly found ourselves inhabiting the same circle. Temporarily.

But love? I should have walked away. Or at the very least, laughed at his wild leap. Instead I cocked my head and squinted. “What kind of adventures?”

Miles grinned. A slow-moving, gorgeous upturn of the lips that morphed into something celestial. He literally took my breath away. I hoped the dizziness faded before I gave him a reason to think it was a good thing he’d issued a warning about getting too attached.

“All kinds! We’ll turn this town upside down being one hundred percent ridiculous.”

“Okay…” I gave a half laugh and pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “What do you have in mind? Dancing, parties—”

“No. More like Trivial Pursuit marathons, Netflix binge-watching fests in our Pjs, the compare and contrast game and—”

“The what?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have fun. You’ll see,” he assured me earnestly as he laced our fingers together and pulled me away from the wall.

I glanced down at our joined hands and briefly thought about joking that he should be careful about giving me mixed signals. But I knew my limits. My comedic timing was crappy and the last thing I wanted was to push him away. I might not love Miles but I liked him. A lot. And holding his hand while we wandered through town under a sea of rainbow flags on a random Sunday felt special. The way new beginnings sometimes did.

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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New Release Blitz for Tomboy by Janelle Reston (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Tomboy

Author: Janelle Reston

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 19, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 17000

Genre: romance, historical, LGBT, Historical, lesbian, 1950’s, tomboy, student, blue collar, mechanic, NASA, scientist, friends to lovers

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Synopsis

Some kids’ heads are in the clouds. Harriet Little’s head is in outer space.

In 1950s America, everyone is expected to come out of a cookie-cutter mold. But Harriet prefers the people who don’t, like her communist-sympathizer father and her best friend Jackie, a tomboy who bucks the school dress code of skirts and blouses in favor of T-shirts and blue jeans. Harriet realizes she’s also different when she starts to swoon over Rosemary Clooney instead of Rock Hudson—and finds Sputnik and sci-fi more fascinating than sock hops.

Before long, Harriet is secretly dating the most popular girl in the school. But she soon learns that real love needs a stronger foundation than frilly dresses and feminine wiles.

Excerpt

Tomboy
Janelle Reston © 2018
All Rights Reserved

The first time I met Jackie, I thought she was a boy. Of course, she was only eight then, an age when most humans would still be fairly androgynous if our society didn’t have the habit of primping us up in clothes that point in one direction or the other.

Jackie was in straight-legged dungarees, a checkered button-down shirt, and a brown leather belt with crossed rifles embossed on the brass buckle. Her hair was short, trimmed above the ears.

“Who’s that new boy?” my friend Shelley whispered as we settled into our desks. It was the first day of fourth grade, and Mrs. Baumgartner had made folded-paper name placards for each seat so we’d know where to go. Shelley always sat right in front of me because our last names were next to each other in the alphabet. She was Kramer; I was Little.

I looked at the blond cherub in the front row. He—as I thought Jackie was at the time—had his gaze set toward the ceiling, eyes tracing the portraits of the US presidents that hung at the top of the wall. A cowlick stuck up from the back of his head. He reminded me of Dennis the Menace, the mischievous star of my new favorite cartoon strip, which had debuted in our local paper that summer. I liked the way Dennis talked back to adults but somehow never got in trouble for it. I wished I had the same courage.

Mrs. Baumgartner walked into the room. The class fell silent and we straightened in our chairs, facing her. “Good morning, class. I’m your teacher for this year, Mrs. Baumgartner.”

“Good morning, Mrs. Baumgartner,” we answered in unison. She spelled her name on the chalkboard in cursive and asked us to recite the Pledge of Allegiance. Back then, the Pledge didn’t have the gist of a prayer like it does today; “under God” wasn’t added to “one nation indivisible” until three years later, after Eisenhower became president. I wiggled my toes around in my hand-me-down saddle shoes as we recited the words.

The trouble began when Mrs. Baumgartner started to take attendance. “Jacqueline Auglaize?”

“Here, Mrs. Baumgartner,” Dennis the Menace answered from the front row.

Mrs. Baumgartner narrowed her eyes. “New year at a new school, and we’re starting with the practical jokes already?”

“No, ma’am.”

“Will the real Jacqueline Auglaize please speak up? This is your only warning.” Mrs. Baumgartner’s eyes scanned the room. I craned my neck around. I hadn’t noticed any new girls in the classroom before our teacher’s arrival, but maybe I’d been distracted by the Dennis the Menace boy.

“I’m Jackie Auglaize, ma’am,” Dennis the Menace piped up again.

Mrs. Baumgartner’s face screwed up as if she’d accidentally sucked on a lemon. “What you are is on the way to the principal’s office, young man.”

“I’m not—”

“And a detention for talking back.”

Mrs. Baumgartner called on one of the other boys to escort the new, nameless student to his punishment. From chin to scalp, Dennis the Menace’s face turned red as a beet. His flushed ears looked almost purple against his pale hair.

Kids playing pranks didn’t blush like that.

“I think that really is a girl,” I whispered to Shelley. But if she heard, she didn’t respond. She knew better than to turn around in her seat when a teacher was already angry.

An hour later, Mrs. Baumgartner was quizzing us on our classroom rules when the school secretary appeared at the door. In tow was a student in a frilly cap-sleeved blouse, knee-length blue corduroy jumper with a flared skirt, lace-trimmed white bobby socks, a pair of shiny black Mary Janes—and short blonde hair.

The cowlick stood like a sentinel at the back of her scalp despite the hair polish that had clearly been combed through since we’d last seen her.

An audible gasp filled the classroom. Actually, it was multiple gasps, but they happened in such synchronization that they had the effect of a single, sustained note.

“Mrs. Baumgartner,” the secretary said, “Jacqueline Auglaize is ready to return to the classroom. We’ve explained the school dress code to her mother. The behavior of this morning won’t be repeated.”

“Thank you, Miss Hamilton. Welcome back, Jacqueline.”

Titters filled the room as Jacqueline walked toward her desk. Mrs. Baumgartner slapped her ruler against her desk. “Does anyone else want a detention?”

We went quiet. Detentions are never an auspicious way to start a new school year.

We spent the rest of the morning learning how to protect ourselves from atomic explosions. Mrs. Baumgartner said this knowledge could save us now that the Soviets had the bomb. “When an air raid siren goes off or you see a bright flash of light, duck and cover underneath a table or desk, inside a corridor, or next to a strong brick wall. Then pull your sweater or coat up to cover the back of your neck and head,” she explained.

We all squatted under our desks as instructed. My father said the Russians weren’t stupid enough to bomb us, that they loved the common people and wanted to protect us. But Mrs. Baumgartner seemed to think they were. She went on in excruciating detail about the things that could happen to us if we didn’t duck and cover. Glass from broken windows could fly in our faces, we could get a terrible sunburn from the blast; pieces of ceiling might drop on our heads. I wasn’t sure whom to believe about the bomb—my dad or Mrs. Baumgartner. I didn’t want to think about it. I shut out my teacher’s voice and stared at my scuffed saddle shoes, pondering how a boy could magically turn into a girl in the wink of an eye.

“She’s not a girl,” Shelley insisted as we walked out to morning recess. “Girls can’t have hair like that.”

“They can if they cut it.”

“But no mother would let a girl wear her hair so short.”

“The school wouldn’t let a boy wear a dress to class.”

Shelley must have been won over by my logic, because the next thing that came out of her mouth was, “Maybe she has a little brother who likes to stick gum in people’s hair.” Shelley’s brother had done that to her once, but since he only got it on the tail end of her braid, she hadn’t lost much length to the scissors when her mother cut it out. “Or she got lice. Yuck.”

I didn’t like the direction of Shelley’s last comment. As it was, the new girl was guaranteed to have very few friends after the morning’s clothing incident. If the lice rumor spread, she’d have no friends at all. I’d been new once too.

“She doesn’t look dirty,” I said. “Maybe her hair got caught in an escalator and they had to cut it off.” I was terrified of escalators. My mother had warned me never to play around on one or my clothes would get snagged between the steps and I’d be pulled in, then smashed as flat as a pancake. Back when she worked in a department store, before marrying my dad, she saw a lady get caught by the scarf in an escalator’s moving handrail, and it would have been death by strangling if an alert gentleman with a penknife hadn’t been nearby to free her. I still get a little on edge every time I step onto one.

We got in line to play hopscotch on a board a couple other girls had drawn earlier that morning. I looked around. The whole school was out on the playground, and it was harder than I would have expected to find a short-haired girl in a blue jumper. There were lots of blue corduroy jumpers darting around the swings and monkey bars and jungle gym. Wanamaker’s must have featured them in its back-to-school sale that year. My dress wasn’t new. It was a hand-me-down from my older sister, with a ribbon tie and a skirt made with less fabric than the newer fashions. Shelley and I had done a test run of our first-day outfits the previous week, and no matter how fast I spun around, my skirt failed to billow as dramatically as Shelley’s.

Still, I tried to make the skirt swing gracefully as I hopped down the squares. I had no desire to be dainty, but I liked the aesthetic of fabric twirling in the air. We went through the hopscotch line four times before I finally spotted Jackie. She was over by the fence, poking at the dirt with a stick. Alone.

That last bit was no surprise.

It took three more rounds of hopscotch before I worked up the nerve to go find out what she was doing.

“Where are you going?” Shelley called as I marched off.

I didn’t answer her, afraid I’d lose my momentum. It was risky talking to an outcast. On the one hand, it was the only way to turn her into not-an-outcast. On the other hand, it might turn me into one too.

“What are you doing?”

Jackie looked up. “Thinking about digging a hole to China.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Janelle Reston lives in a northern lake town with her partner and their black cats. She loves watching Battlestar Galactica and queering gender. You can keep up with her at http://www.janellereston.com.

 

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BLITZ for Teacher’s Pet Anthology by Multiple Authors (giveaway)

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Title:  Teacher’s Pet

Author: Kashmira Majumdar, S.A. James, Asta Idonea, Hudson Lin, Aila Alvina Boyd, Valentine Wheeler, Damian Serbu, Jack Harbon, Arden Powell

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 12

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Female/Female

Length: 88500

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal. Sci-Fi/Fantasy, age gap, contemporary, Fantasy, paranormal, romance, teacher/student

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Synopsis

Nine Stories of Lessons Outside the Classroom

By Virtue Fall by Kashmira Majumdar – The rules have changed…and so have the consequences for breaking them.

Striking Gold by S.A. James – Sometimes when we think we have no choice, life brings something brighter.

Full Marks by Asta Idonea – When Jacob seeks out his favourite lecturer at a university reunion, will he get full marks?

Lessons for a Lifetime by Hudson Lin – A second language, a first chance at love.

Welcome to Ms Skinner’s Freshman Composition by Aila Alvina Boyd – After auditioning for a play, professor and student find themselves cast opposite each other as romantic leads.

Piece of Cake by Valentine Wheeler – All Richard wanted was a nice, quiet retirement. His kids aren’t going to let that happen.

Professor Ghost by Damian Serbu – An otherworldly mentor might be his way out.

Bare by Jack Harbon – When a passion for art turns into something more.

The Botanist’s Apprentice by Arden Powell – Don’t get too close to the flowers.

Excerpt

By Virtue Fall by Kashmira Majumdar
Jonah Shapiro is no model student, even by the lax standards of his preppy New England boarding school. His penchant for rule-breaking and leather makes him the bête noire of his teachers—except the earnest, tea-drinking, cardigan-wearing Mr. Donovan, who’s determined to not give up on Jonah. Life used to be simpler five years ago when Mr. Donovan was just Head Boy Nick and Jonah’s best friend. Easier, too, for Jonah to kiss him when it was dark and no one was watching. Now the rules of the game have changed, and so have the consequences for flouting them…

Striking Gold by S.A. James
The day Daniel met Silver shone brightly for a number of reasons. It was the last day of high school, but it was also the day he realized he could never leave home. Being the son of an alcoholic mom didn’t leave many choices for Daniel. He could only hope that life and love would treat him kindly.

Full Marks by Asta Idonea
Jacob Corby decides to attend his university reunion for one reason only: Professor Hobbs. Arthur Hobbs is surprised to see loner Jacob’s name on the attendance list, but it is enough to make him change his mind about going to the event. After all, he’s always harboured forbidden feelings for his favourite student.

Lessons for a Lifetime by Hudson Lin
When high school English teacher Patrick signs on to teach an adult ESL course on the weekends, he doesn’t know his life is about to change. Into the makeshift community center classroom walks Salim—tall, soulful, a refugee from Ethiopia with a heart for storytelling and a talent for music.

A midwinter offer to drive Salim home after class one week leads to the breakdown of the student-teacher boundary. As their relationship grows, the prospect of moving in together brings out both their insecurities about commitment and money. But working through differences makes them stronger and Patrick soon realizes that perhaps he had been the student all along.

Welcome to Ms Skinner’s Freshman Composition by Aila Alvina Boyd
After auditioning for a college production, a first year professor finds herself being cast as the romantic lead opposite her least favorite student. Just as it appears as though the production is going to be an utter failure, something clicks. From there on out, chemistry between the two of them no longer needs to be faked.

Piece of Cake by Valentine Wheeler
Richard’s daughters are worried about him, alone in his house after retirement, so they sign him up for a cooking class at the local community center. But what he ends up finding is more than just baked goods.

Professor Ghost by Damian Serbu
Antonio arrives on campus for his first day of college a little overwhelmed from the experience of moving from a rural area to the big city, not to mention that he firmly planted himself in the closet and intends to stay there. When a ghost appears before him on the first night, his terror gradually gives way to curiosity, as this hot specter promises to mentor him toward a better, and out, life at college.

Bare by Jack Harbon
Before his best friend went away for vacation, Levi Singh promised her that he would take life by the balls and live on the edge. So, when the nude model for his art class doesn’t show, Levi takes it upon himself to volunteer. To his surprise, no one seems to be staring too long at him. No one, that is, except for his professor.

When Noah Rose suggests working with him on an assignment after class, Levi suspects he might be looking for something else. Something Levi will happily give him.

The Botanist’s Apprentice by Arden Powell
Graduate student Eli Katz approaches the accomplished botanist, Robert Lord-Harding, to request access to his greenhouse of magical flora. Though Lord-Harding is reluctant to take on a new apprentice after the scandal of his last one, he is intrigued by Eli’s academic work, and agrees.

Eli is primarily interested in the violet man-eater, a carnivorous plant that preys on men by emitting a certain pheromone, luring them in close and then devouring them. Eli wants to return the man-eater to its classic status as a sexual performance enhancer, and spends his days studying the plant. But is it as safely secured in Lord-Harding’s greenhouse as they both believe, or will its pheromones wreak havoc with their new apprenticeship?

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