A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Through the Tears by Leigh M. Lorien

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5 

Rafe’s human lover Eamon disappears through a portal to a differnet world after a ghoul attack. Rafe is a low ranking lord and thinks the king will not help so he decides to rescue his lover himself. As Eamon battles the elements and strange culture of the ghoul world with the help of Beah, a native who helps him, Rafe battles ghouls to learn the secret of portals with his second in command Kiran. Larger evil is afoot than just ghouls jumping worlds to eat humans and what started as a horrible accident, leads into a possible war no one saw coming.

Rafe is called a rin, which is basically a vampire. I liked the lore used here. Even though the ideas aren’t radically unique, there are some interesting takes on common science fiction themes: interdimensional travel, feeding on blood/sex/energy, mind linking/control, bonded mates, turning on magic users, religion to control the population, the feudal type of setting, etc. Eamon is strange at first, full of fear and anger, like he can’t take control of himself and needs Rafe to (mentally) control him. I think this was meant to show him as submissive, but I’m not sure I like this characterization. Taking this out of the equation, Eamon is loyal and brave, even when frightened. I loved the flashback of how Rafe and Eamon met. At the beginning Rafe is cold, calm, and collected even after Eamon disappeares; then he seems to miss him slightly, but does go to look for him. By the end the I love yous are completely over the top, so I wish this had been a little more even handed. It would have made their reunion more impactful. Beah is a great trans character who gets treated horribly by his tribe. Be aware they are several depictions of misgendering, humiliation, and dead naming–although the author doesn’t allow the reader to know the dead name, which I appreciated.

This story could be a self contained adventure, but it’s also a larger story arc that will be picked up in the next book. The side characters like Kiren, Orienna, and the King are all intriguing, but there is little to them in this book. Eamon is the fish out of water in this tale. There is a little of Beah being a fish out of water as well, for some nice symmetry. It’s difficult in a first book with all the world-building, so I am hoping the next book works harder at holding/highlighting the emotional moments between the friends and lovers so they don’t get stomped on in all the politics and intrigue. Those are what gives me something to root for–to hope they win and save the day. There are twelve worlds and this book has only shown small parts of two, so there are so many different possibilities for future stories.

The cover art by Natasha Snow shows a desert through what appears to be a grimy window pane, which I take to be the portal between worlds.

Sales Links:

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

Book Details:

ebook
Published July 8th 2019 by NineStar Press
ISBN 139781951057015
Edition Language English

Love Fantasy? Check Out the New Release Blitz for Through the Tears (Torn Between Worlds #1) by Leigh M. Lorien (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title: Through the Tears

Series: Torn Between Worlds, Book One

Author: Leigh M. Lorien

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 8, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56600

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, gray-ace/gray-aro, transgender, bonded, monsters, violence, anxiety attacks

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Synopsis

Huge, horrid creatures with a taste for human flesh have been invading Seacliff Manor and its surrounding lands for years. Ghouls are coming from another world through portals made of magic. No one knows why or how, but nothing good ever comes with them.

During a hunting trip, Eamon encounters one such monster and falls through a portal into the ghoul’s hellacious desert home world. Separated from his home, his friends, and his lover, with no magic of his own and no sign of other life, Eamon expects to die there…until an encounter with a lone stranger gives him hope. There is a way home. But can Eamon survive alone in ghoul-infested terrain long enough to get there?

Worlds away, the Lord of Seacliff Manor is determined to bring Eamon home. Despite all evidence to the contrary, Rafe knows his human lover is alive. It’s just a matter of finding out where. To that end, Rafe has a plan. It’s dangerous, perhaps even suicidal, but he’ll do anything to save the man he loves.

From different sides of the galaxy, the lovers fight monsters and seek magic with one goal in mind: reunion. Monsters aren’t the only things they’ll have to defeat to find their way back to each other, and the horrors uncovered along the way may be more than they can handle.

Excerpt

Through the Tears
Leigh M. Lorien © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Rafe

The body lay at the base of a maple tree in a crumpled heap of leathery gray flesh and black blood. Rafe studied it for a long time. Its fanged mouth hung open, eyes like black marbles gazing lifelessly at him, hands with hawk-like talons curled into loose fists in the grass. It was more than capable of killing a human—gods, it was probably capable of killing him. He turned away, forcing down the momentary surge of fear as he took in the scene, playing through the information he had.

Eamon, Lionel, Rose, and Tuomas had been hunting that morning, as Eamon had said they planned to do. Lionel was training a new bird. They were well armed. No one left the stronghold unarmed these days. Ghoul incursions were growing more frequent, and the filthy things were getting bolder by the day. Rafe had wanted to send an escort with them but let his lover talk him out of it. We’ll be fine. We’re barely going past the village.

But they weren’t fine. Lionel’s bird didn’t return when it should have. The ghoul had crept up on them while they were distracted.

Signs of the struggle were obvious all around the body. Broken twigs, displaced leaves, mud spatters up the trunks of the trees. The humans had come out victorious. Three of them had, anyway.

Thirty or so feet beyond the ghoul’s body, a cliff dropped into the sea. Ignoring his audience—the three humans who’d returned, as well as two of his rin retainers—Rafe walked past the ghoul’s corpse, inspecting the grass between the site of the attack and the edge of the cliff. Clods of soil lay in heaps where massive claws had raked it up. He wished there was some indication of Eamon’s movements, but the ghoul’s weight and erratic assault covered all sign of his human lover. Blood spatters painted the grass black. Rafe didn’t need to touch or taste the drying liquid to know it was not human. Not Eamon’s. The rotten stench of ghoul blood was as foul as raw sewage and, for once, he envied the humans their inferior senses. Someone had hurt it, and badly, right here. Eamon was not a close-quarters fighter. He was barely a fighter at all. If Rafe were a gambler, he’d put his money on Lionel and the longsword he wore.

“You say he fell,” Rafe stated. It wasn’t a question. Rose had spoken for the group, told their story in a quavering voice. If the two men were hoping Rafe would show mercy to a teary-eyed woman and thus to them as well, they were all mistaken.

“Yes, Lord,” Rose said. “Th-the ghoul tackled him, and they rolled, and…I’m not certain, I mean I-I didn’t see it myself, Lord, but…Eamon was gone when…”

Rafe walked to the very edge of the cliff and leaned forward to look down, grateful for an excuse to breathe air untainted by blood. The tension level behind him rose tangibly, but no one rushed forward to drag him back. He was their lord, not a child to be scolded for putting himself in danger. Hundreds of feet below, waves crashed and roared over a beach of jagged stone. Even with his sensitive rin hearing, little more than the faintest whisper reached Rafe’s ears from this distance. There was no question that a fall from this height meant no survival for a human. No matter what awaited at the end of the fall, no matter how strong the human.

And yet…

He had not felt Eamon die. Rafe had never had a bound companion die, so, he didn’t know from experience what it would feel like, but he’d heard others speak of it. He’d expected something…worse. He should have experienced fear as Eamon fell, pain as he crashed to the ground and his body shattered against the rocks below. It would have dropped him to his knees, put him in a state of shock.

Instead, there was a sharp surprise, fear, and then…an absence. Eamon simply was not there. He wasn’t alive, but neither was he dead.

“You are aware Eamon is bound to me?” Rafe turned to the humans, and they all bowed their heads, nodding and avoiding his eyes. “You should have protected him.”

The wind off the sea howled and whipped his dark hair around his head. Everything was cast in a dusky gray—the winter sun had not shown its face for days, and the choppy sea below was the color of cold steel. Standing at least a head taller than the tallest of the three humans, Rafe was no stranger to intimidation tactics. It wasn’t his preferred modus operandi—physical threats were so pedestrian—but it was easy, and with the gaping absence of Eamon distracting him, it was all he managed.

“I’m sure they did their best, my lord,” Kiran, his retainer, said softly.

Rafe continued to aim a cold gaze at the humans.

“I’m sure. Have search parties organized. Comb the beach and the forest in this area. I did not feel him die.” And if he was mistaken and Eamon was dead…The words hurt as they formed in his mind, but he forced them out. “If you find him, or his body, bring him home.”

Kiran bowed his head and rushed toward the manor to find willing and able individuals to carry out the command. Wind continued to buffet Rafe’s side and face, tangling his hair as it whipped around. In his imagination, Eamon was scolding him as he worked a brush through Rafe’s hair as he did every night. Would it kill you to tie your hair back once in a while? It’s like you tangle it on purpose.

If it weren’t tangled, I wouldn’t need you to brush it, would I? Rafe would reply and grin in the mirror at his lover. The thought of the familiar teasing almost made him smile. Almost.

“M-my lord,” Tuomas ventured, stepping forward as Rafe returned to the ghoul’s body. “We would like to join the search parties, if we may.”

Rafe shook his head. “No. Take this body to the manor. Have it burned.”

The three humans exchanged wide-eyed glances. The ghoul was larger than all three of them combined. Heavy as it was, it would take them hours to drag it to the manor. It seemed a mild punishment in Rafe’s eyes, for letting his lover fall over a cliff.

Tuomas and Lionel were unbound and had been for as long as Rafe had known them. Rose was bound to Elena, the manor’s doctor, and lived in the manor with her, while the two human men lived in the village outside the manor walls—together, if Rafe was not mistaken. Eamon had lived with Tuomas for some time, until he came to Rafe’s attention, and still spent the night in Tuomas’s village home on occasion. Perhaps it was cruel to punish the three of them in any way for what had happened. They were likely hurting as much as Rafe, but they were not bound to Eamon. They could not feel his absence, like the loss of a limb or an eye or an ear, like a crushing emptiness where, until mere hours ago, there had been a warm, bright presence every day for the past ten years.

“Stay with them,” Rafe instructed his second retainer, Orienna. “See that we lose no one else to rogue ghouls today.”

The woman bowed. “What of you, my lord?”

“I’m in a mood to rip something’s throat out,” he said coldly. “Let the filth try.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Leigh M. Lorien is a queer author who got her start at the tender age of five, writing and illustrating her own Sonic the Hedgehog stories. Fortunately, her writing has improved in the subsequent decades. Nowadays, Leigh’s stories primarily lean toward science fiction, fantasy, and urban fantasy, but she has had some contemporary pieces sneak out of her head. Regardless of genre, her books will usually include sarcasm, strong relationships (romantic and platonic), polyamory/non-monogamy, magic, music, animals, mental illness, and less-frequently-represented queer identities.

When she’s not writing, Leigh enjoys gardening, photography, travel, music, Renaissance festivals, doing hair-color experiments in her bathroom, and going on any kind of adventure involving the outdoors (unless it’s cold, screw that). If you want to know her better or see pictures of her many fur-children, she’s most active on Twitter and Instagram.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Check Out the Release Blitz and Giveaway for Death’s Angel by Michael Mandrake

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link – Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
 
Length: 159 pages
 
Blurb
 

Death’s plan for revenge is derailed by his lust for one of the Creator’s angels.


Being second to Michael has never sat well with Allerio. Feeling slighted, he travels beyond the heavens, meeting a creature who informs him of his Father’s secrets. With curiosities niggling him, he challenges his god, seeking freedom from stringent rules. Though the prize might look wonderful on the surface, it comes with a heavy price the angel will bear for eternity.


Death’s banishment was only the beginning of his descent. Since then, he’s concocted a scheme to overthrow the highest being, proving him to be a liar. Although confident his plot will succeed, he convinces one of High’s top helpers to assist him. However, Death never intended for feelings of affection to consume him. Suddenly wrecking God’s perfection isn’t as important anymore.


Two gods join forces and become bonded in more ways than one. Can they overcome their emotions to achieve their ultimate goal?


Death’s Angel is the prequel story to Immortals, chronicling the very beginning of Lucifer’s ascent as the god of the third and fourth planes. This story involves male pregnancy and mating.


Warning: On page violence, extreme torture, and death. Look inside for further triggers.

 
About the Author


Michael Mandrake pens complex characters already comfortable with their sexuality. Through these, he builds worlds not centered on romance but rather the mainstream and/or obscure plots we might encounter in everyday life and beyond.


Website: https://michaelmandrake.wordpress.com/
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A Caryn Release Day Review: The Importance of Being Kevin by Steven Harper

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Rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars

Slow start, strong finish.

I have to admit I did not read the blurb as closely as I should have, so I was surprised to discover one of the MCs was only 16 years old.  I think I read “probation officer” and automatically thought adult.  The fact that this is a story involving high schoolers makes it a little distressing, as it really covers some seriously dark and violent topics – I don’t believe the blurb gave adequate warning – that are not my usual cup of tea, especially at this age, and I’m sure that colored my feelings about the book, and this review.  My ambivalence towards the violence made it difficult to really get into the book, but by the end, the author wrapped it all up in a way that made me think, ahh, now I get it!  So, ultimately satisfying despite that ambivalence early on.

The story began with 16 year old Kevin Devereaux trying out for a summer production of Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest.  He’d never acted before, and only tried out because his probation officer made doing something productive during the summer a condition of staying out of juvie.  Kevin was shocked to find not only did he make it in, but he was cast as Algy, one of the leads.  The other lead was scored by Peter Finn, a 19 year old theater veteran who was everything Kevin was not – confident, good looking, wealthy – and the two boys discovered immediately that not only were they both gay, but they were attracted to each other.  For Peter, those feelings came naturally, but Kevin had so many hang ups about himself that he had a great deal of trouble accepting that maybe finding a boyfriend really could be just that easy.

But just after their first meeting, just after their first kiss – Kevin became the victim of a terrible assault.

I have to admit, I was shocked.  I just wasn’t expecting the violence.  And then the reasons why Kevin was on probation in the first place, and why his father was in prison, also came out, along with the dark aspects of Kevin’s personality:  his temper, his anger, and his inability to control them.  Suddenly, I wasn’t sure what to think of him.  I had a hard time reconciling Kevin’s sweet, shy, insecure side with his violent actions and thoughts.  And I really felt that way pretty much all the way until the end last few chapters of the book, which kept me from truly identifying with the romance between the two boys until the end.  Both Kevin and Peter grew and matured in significant ways due to the trauma they each experienced during the summer, and that character growth is what made this better than a 3 star read for me.  There is also a wonderful scene with Kevin’s first exposure to other queer youth that was so heartwarming, and just gave me all the feels.

The way the author wove in quotes from Wilde’s play to reflect exactly what was going on with the MCs was very clever, especially as the plot of the book does not reflect the plot of the play.  I was also extremely pleased that Kevin rarely fell into the TSTL trap of not telling people what was going on, or witholding important information from them – at least not for too long anyway – that I have seen in other books addressing similar topics and relationship inequalities.  Peter also kept important information from Kevin at first, but revealing his true identity to Kevin seemed like it came at the appropriate time (and that was the only significant parallel with the play!).  Kevin’s father turned into a fairly complex man who was able to truly understand and support Kevin, and was an excellent secondary character.  The villain, however, was too simplistic, and Peter’s parents were mostly caricatures.

Overall, a really good book.  And I’m very glad I stuck with it despite being a bit surprised by the age of the MCs.

Cover art by Aaron Anderson was exactly what the blurb should have been – a portrait of a deeply troubled young man.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | Kobo | iBooks |

Book Details:

ebook, 218 pages
Expected publication: July 2nd 2019 by Dreamspinner Press
ISBN1 39781644052563

A Chaos Moondrawn Review: By Way of Pain – Criminal Delights: Assassins by J.M. Dabney

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Rating: 4 stars out of 5

This is part of the Criminal Delights series, which are standalones by different authors revolving around dark themes. Pay attention to the trigger warnings. This book is about a lawyer named Cowan Kingley, who is a hired assassin. The reader sees him at different ages to establish him as not quite right, and much of the book is in his first person POV. The reader also gets the first person POV of the man who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and ends up kidnapped instead of killed. The key here is the why of it. What would make an assassin not kill a witness right away?

The warnings say dubcon, but I would say this is noncon. The Stockholm Syndrome contributes to the confusion. As a virgin with no experience, the captive has never had the chance to find out what he likes. Once Conway starts with the humiliation, whipping, spanking, choking, and breath play…his captive realizes he likes it. I don’t think this will convince anyone who isn’t predisposed to liking this sort of book. The book really has two acts. The first half is more intimate with just the two of them. The second half has John Wick style action sequences. While the whole book is actually effective, well written, and way more entertaining than it should be with a satisfying conclusion…there is a major issue.

Although Conway thinks of himself as a sociopath and has studied human psychology, I can’t agree since he is able to become obsessed, possessive, and caring–genuinely caring as the reader knows his POV–towards his captive. In the thank you note at the end, the author calls him a psychopath. These are not interchangeable words; they are two different things. One lacks empathy and the other lacks conscience, but neither would care about anyone else, let alone fall in love. This is the downfall of the book. If you are willing to ignore clinical definitions of these mental illnesses and suspend disbelief, it is well done for what it is.

The cover by was done by Natasha Snow. The covers of the whole series are stylized and match

Sales Links:  Amazon | Universal Link: books2read.com/CriminalDelights-Pain

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 166 pages
Published May 20th 2019 by Hostile Whispers Press, LLC
ASINB07PKQZ23C
Edition Language English

New Release Blitz for By Way of Pain – Criminal Delights: Assassins by J.M. Dabney (excerpt and giveaway)

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ReleaseBlitz-ByWayofPain

By Way of Pain

Criminal Delights Series, Book 11

J.M. Dabney

M/M Dark Romance

Release Date: 05.20.19

BY Way of Pain Cover

Blurb

Double lives were just the way it was for a man like me. By day I was a man with a reputation above reproach. Even assassins needed backup plans. For fifteen years, life was going without a hitch until I had to take out a witness. When it was time to kill him, beautiful eyes filled with fear urged me to do something else. Yet, in order to do that, I had to break him, and by way of pain, my captive would experience pleasure he’d never dreamed.

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.

Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

Trigger Warnings: Title contains the following possible triggers. Humiliation, Violence, Master/slave elements, Male Chastity, Murder, Imprisonment, Dub-Con, and Brief Torture.

Universal Link: books2read.com/CriminalDelights-Pain

By-Way-of-Pain-Teaser-Because-I-Can

By-Way-of-Pain-Teaser-Cowen-Abnormal

Excerpt

It was a place created for a hunter. Big, sprawling and dirty—victims roaming the streets unaware of their status as prey. They all felt they were safe from the monsters because they were all easily spotted, but they knew nothing about my kind. We were just an abstract concept on some true crime show they watched in the middle of the night—evil reduced to caricature. My reputation was above reproach, but I was the most prolific killer of my kind.

In moments of respite where I hid away in my cabin, I’d analyzed when I’d become broken. I believed my sociopathy was a result of conception. Maybe something as damaged as I shouldn’t have survived to birth. A shell without a soul. I’d attempted suicide a time or two, and I bore the marks from years of self-harm. I’d hoped to feel something—pain proved you were alive—and yet the more I cut and burned, it became nothing more than a minor inconvenience—wounds to heal.

I closed my eyes, drew oxygen in through my nose and pushed it slowly past my lips, repeated until I opened my eyes. As with any normal person ending work, I gathered up files and my laptop, stowing them inside my satchel briefcase. Everything in my life was routine and repetition, nothing deviated. I arrived at my office at six in the morning and promptly left at six at night. Meetings were scheduled as needed. I appeared in court. I was successful at my chosen cover, but as with all aspects of my existence, they were disguises.
JM logo

J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. They live with a constant diverse cast of characters in their head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. J.M. lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure they do them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and they makes sure their characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more they want from telling their stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing.

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A MelanieM Review: Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

 

Who is Nicolai Valentino?

Some think him a devoted son, a ruthless killer, a vicious monster. The heir of the infamous Valentino family, Nico is a man with blood-stained hands and a heart of ice.

To Gabriel Delatto, Nico is more than that: a childhood friend, a passionate lover, a misunderstood soul, a man whose cold, calculated outward exterior protects the broken man inside. Nico is his best friend, his lover, his other half—his better half.

But how much of that is true? And how much is just lies whispered between bloody lips?

New York to Tokyo—Gabriel is willing to follow his lover to the ends of the earth to find out what Nico is running from.

Or, maybe, what is Nico running to?

Author Note: Please be advised that there are sexual scenes of explicit graphic nature, including BDSM themes, within the following story. These are done between two parties over the age of 18.

There are scenes involving non-consensual BDSM themes and mentions of past physical and mental child abuse and graphic material that may not be suitable for all audiences.

To be honest, after reading the first story in this series I wasn’t at all sure I was going to continue with the series.  I thought that book,On Hands and Knees, was lacking in world building and a foundation for the characters and the characters relationship necessary to the story and  overall arc.  But there was just enough intrigue and interest for me to continue and I’m so glad I did because this?  This novel?  It’s a completely different animal.

Between Bloody Lips (The Valentino Family #2) by Sai Fox to be sure builds on the somewhat nebulous storyline of the prior book, picking up right after the events there.  But here everything is so much more fleshed out.  What was a disadvantage in the first story becomes a strength here, and that would be the tortured narrative of Gabriel Delatto, whose mind and memory never seem little more than a shaky thing ready to fly apart, and it’s threatening to do so without it’s anchor, Nico.

Gabe is running after an elusive Nico, ending up in Japan,  with an elusive criminal underworld filled with layers he can’t comprehend, and the reader is there floundering  with him.  This is a dark, angst filled story.  Both Gabe, Nico and some of the others here have come from a tormented, background of systematic child abuse and it has left both men deeply scars and in many ways twisted and wounded beyond repair.  They seek through BDSM, cutting, and more, relief through pain, humiliation, and submission.  While some of these scenes read as BDSM others read as self harm, and others still more are non con, violent dub con, and more.  As I said this is a violent world of criminals and the dark nature of others, the author has realistically shown that.  So be warned.

As the story progresses and we sift through Gabe’s tortured mind along with his efforts to understand Nico’s predicament and his own, we start to form our own ideas of what is behind Nico’s running and the some of the layers start to come together but it does not prepare us for the startling revelations towards the end.

I cannot go into details here except to say this is an exceptional book, from the characters to the convoluted, labyrinthine story.  Everything finally comes together in one smashing, stunning climax that is worth both books.

Plus for once, I enjoyed the fact that the author did not take these tortured men and miraculously “cure” them.   Or promise a HEA, no matter what that blurb says.  No.  They can’t be promised that given who and what they are.  A HFN is realistic and yes, there are still questions we might not know the answers to, but that feels real too given the circumstances here as well.

For me I wish Sai Fox had run both books together for one brilliant story because that’s what this second novel becomes.  Just brilliant.    And one, if your stomach can handle the abuse, cutting, and everything, is worth it all.  I highly recommend it.

 

Cover art by Samantha Garrett is dark and stunning, just like the storyline.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US

Amazon UK

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 380 pages
Published May 11th 2019
ASIN B07NK6JJ5G
Edition Language English

Blog and Review Tour Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

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Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words

Subgenre: Contemporary

Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting

Order now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBNNR5N?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

 

Book synopsis:

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Excerpt :

All-Stars was a dive. A worn-down shack on the literal wrong side of the tracks on the south side of James Bay. There wasn’t even a bouncer at the front door.

“This is my kind of place,” Jesse said as they walked into the bar. “Feeling those normal guy vibes.”

“Told ya.”

Tayshaun waved to them from a table at the other side of the packed room and Chuck acknowledged him before turning back to Jesse. “I’ll grab us a couple beers. Why don’t you go over and say hi.”

Jesse took a step, then hesitated.

Chuck raised an eyebrow as he surveyed one of the biggest, most physically intimidating men he’d ever met freaked over making conversation. “Just normal guys, Jesse, I promise.”

“The Bay’s quarterback is sitting at the table next to him.”

“Okay, so he’s kind of a dick. But you know all about dealing with those because of the Kensington boys.”

Jesse smirked. “Fuck you. Hurry up.”

Despite Jesse’s urging, Chuck took his time at the bar so Tayshaun and Jesse had a chance to talk. He chatted with a couple other Bay’s players who were seated there and by the time he made his way over to Jesse, Jesse was guffawing over something Tayshaun had said. Chuck slipped Jesse’s glass in front of him and took the seat next to him.

“We making friends here then?” he said.

“Your boy is sick, Chuckie. I like him.”

“No surprise there.” Chuck took a deep swig of his drink, the local craft beer rolling down his throat in a pleasant rush. “Did Jesse tell you he used to play in college?”

“Yeah, we were comparing notes on treatment for janky knees.” Tayshaun sat back and gestured between the two of them. “So how long you been together?”

Chuck froze just as Jesse’s eyebrows shot up and he gripped his glass with white knuckles, stammering, “We’re— Uh— We—”

Tayshaun thumped his beer against the table and winced. “Shit. I’m sorry. I assumed— And I— Shit. I should know damn well better, of all people.”

That brought stony silence to the table, but Chuck held his ground, waiting for Jesse to put the pieces together. While he hadn’t expected the topic to come up quite this way, he’d hoped Tayshaun would feel comfortable enough with Jesse to open up. Because Tayshaun was a regular guy, and….

Jesse leaned forward. “Wait. You’re gay?”

Tayshaun nodded. “My team knows, and so do the coaches. It’s an open secret as they call it. I don’t know if I’m ready to be the first out player in the league. Shitload of pressure.”

Chuck shrugged. “You’re a franchise player. It may be easier for you than others.”

“I ever decide to do it, then you’ll be the first I call. You’ll make my ass look like the masterpiece it is.”

“I’ll grab us another round.” Jesse excused himself and headed for the bar.

Chuck glanced at Jesse over his shoulder. He hadn’t outright denied anything between them, but he hadn’t confirmed it either. And even though he’d left the table, he wasn’t running for the door. How fucked up was it that Chuck considered avoiding a panicked exodus a win?

Chuck sighed.

It was also much too familiar.

“Sorry about that,” Tayshaun said.

All around that could’ve gone better, but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to broach the subject with betraying either Tayshaun’s or Jesse’s trust.

Chuck waved off the apology. He’d find a way to talk to Jesse about it later. “Your season’s going well.”

“Football is my life.”

“Guess that means you’re not seeing Nunez anymore?”

“We burned hot and sputtered the fuck out. Couldn’t find any time once he got traded. How about you?” Tayshaun tipped his head up. “You seeing anyone?”

Chuck downed the rest of his beer. “Yeah. And it’s—”

“Me,” Jesse finished for him, setting the beers down.

Chuck swallowed, the word complicated lodging unsaid in his suddenly dry throat. Had Jesse just…?

Jesse plopped into his chair, his gaze locked to Tayshaun’s. “We just met about six weeks ago, but I can’t seem to shake him. He keeps showing up in my bed.”

A distinct crimson stained Jesse’s cheeks and half of his beer had been drained even though he’d only been gone for minutes. Chuck grounded himself in those details as he stared disbelieving at Jesse.

“Chuckie’s tenacious,” Tayshaun said. “Like a dog with a bone.”

“Tell me about it,” Jesse responded. “Tenacious and loyal—even when I asked him to keep us quiet.”

Chuck’s head spun. With Tayshaun across the table there was little he could say to acknowledge what had just happened, but he couldn’t let the moment pass unrecognized either.

He didn’t have to scramble for the words though, because Tayshaun was already leaning across the table. “Aw hell. You’re not out either, then?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Well”—Tayshaun grinned—“then I guess we have more to talk about than knees.”

“Guess we do.”

Then Jesse set his hand on Chuck’s thigh and squeezed.

Chuck felt the echoes of that touch for the rest of the night. He nursed the beer Jesse had bought for him until the contents were flat and warm, then stuck with water after that—wanting to remember every second of unguarded conversation. Every rumbling laugh Tayshaun elicited from Jesse. Every knowing glance Jesse sent his way.

When the lights flipped on to full power at the end of the night, Chuck embraced Tayshaun and promised to come see him again, and Tayshaun embraced Jesse with just as much warmth, extracting the same promise from him.

Chuck was sober and yet punch drunk.

He started up his truck and stared out the windshield, unsure what to say now that he and Jesse were alone.

But it was Jesse who finally broke the silence. “You and Tayshaun…? He isn’t the pro you were with, right?”

“No. He’s like my little brother,” Chuck said, watching Jesse’s shoulders relax with that answer. “If you really want to talk about exes right now I will, but Jesse— What you did in there…?”

Jesse shrugged. “After how cool Emily was, and spending this weekend with you…. I didn’t want to deny it, and Tayshaun felt safe.”

“He is.”

“All good things start with one step, right?” Jesse smiled shyly. “Or something like that.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Chuck repeated. He set his hand on Jesse’s nape and ran his fingers over the back of Jesse’s head. Jesse arched into the touch, his eyes slipping closed. As emotionally shocking as tonight had been for Chuck, it had to have been taxing for Jesse. “What do you want to do? Grab a hotel or drive?”

“Let’s see how far we can drive,” Jesse mumbled around a yawn. “I really do need to get back to work on Tuesday and I’d rather not be exhausted when I go back.”

“Britney it is, then,” Chuck said, letting go of Jesse and turning on his playlist.

Jesse chuckled lowly and reached for Chuck’s hand as they pulled out of the parking lot. He entwined their fingers and rested his head against the window, snoring softly before they even hit the freeway.

Chuck hummed under his breath. The energy from Britney and the warm, powerful hand in his was enough to keep him going well through the night.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with her:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSAMcAuley

Website: https://www.samcauley.com

Tumblr: @authorquestionmark

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Ly9Rv

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorsamcauley/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorsamcauley

 

Giveaway: Celebrate the release of OUT OF THE SHADE with author S.A. McAuley by entering this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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Need a New Contemporary Romance In Your Life? Check Out the Release Blitz for OUT OF THE SHADE by S.A. McAuley (excerpt and giveaway)

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Out of the Shade by S.A. McAuley

Publisher: Self-pub (S.A. McAuley, LLC)

Release Date (Print & Ebook): May 21, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook): 332 pages (print), 103k words

Subgenre: Contemporary

Warnings: alcoholism, mentions of sexual and physical abuse, mentions of drug addiction, mentions of rape, attempted suicide by a minor character, violence, homophobia, closeting

Order now: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07QBNNR5N?ref_=pe_3052080_276849420

 

Book synopsis:

Jesse Solomona has always tried to be the perfect straight guy—a cocky sports fan who drinks more than he did in his fraternity days and an expert at one-night-stands. That he hooks up with just as many men as he does women is a secret Jesse’s been hiding for years, fearful of losing his family and tight group of friends. He’s a Kensington boy—a group of guys that grew up in the same neighborhood and somehow all ended up back in their hometown. They, and his family, are the only things that still matter in his otherwise soul-sucking life.

Chuck Dunn, a tattooed and pierced sports photographer, has refused to step back into the closet since he was disowned by his family, but he keeps choosing men who can’t fully be with him. Finally free from a long-term relationship he should’ve ended years ago, he quits his high-profile gig in favor of getting back to the art of sports photography—documenting a local boxing club that works with at-risk teenagers. He may not have the same swagger anymore, but he’s working to be happy with who he is.

When Chuck joins one of the Kensington boys’ community center sports leagues, Jesse’s self-imposed rules are systematically demolished. But there’s one barrier Jesse can’t find the strength to break through—coming out to the other Kensington boys. Chuck knows hooking up with Jesse is a bad idea. Falling for him even worse. But he can’t stay away.

Chuck is damaged by his past. Jesse is frightened about his future. But, together, they may just be able to come out of the shade.

Excerpt :

All-Stars was a dive. A worn-down shack on the literal wrong side of the tracks on the south side of James Bay. There wasn’t even a bouncer at the front door.

“This is my kind of place,” Jesse said as they walked into the bar. “Feeling those normal guy vibes.”

“Told ya.”

Tayshaun waved to them from a table at the other side of the packed room and Chuck acknowledged him before turning back to Jesse. “I’ll grab us a couple beers. Why don’t you go over and say hi.”

Jesse took a step, then hesitated.

Chuck raised an eyebrow as he surveyed one of the biggest, most physically intimidating men he’d ever met freaked over making conversation. “Just normal guys, Jesse, I promise.”

“The Bay’s quarterback is sitting at the table next to him.”

“Okay, so he’s kind of a dick. But you know all about dealing with those because of the Kensington boys.”

Jesse smirked. “Fuck you. Hurry up.”

Despite Jesse’s urging, Chuck took his time at the bar so Tayshaun and Jesse had a chance to talk. He chatted with a couple other Bay’s players who were seated there and by the time he made his way over to Jesse, Jesse was guffawing over something Tayshaun had said. Chuck slipped Jesse’s glass in front of him and took the seat next to him.

“We making friends here then?” he said.

“Your boy is sick, Chuckie. I like him.”

“No surprise there.” Chuck took a deep swig of his drink, the local craft beer rolling down his throat in a pleasant rush. “Did Jesse tell you he used to play in college?”

“Yeah, we were comparing notes on treatment for janky knees.” Tayshaun sat back and gestured between the two of them. “So how long you been together?”

Chuck froze just as Jesse’s eyebrows shot up and he gripped his glass with white knuckles, stammering, “We’re— Uh— We—”

Tayshaun thumped his beer against the table and winced. “Shit. I’m sorry. I assumed— And I— Shit. I should know damn well better, of all people.”

That brought stony silence to the table, but Chuck held his ground, waiting for Jesse to put the pieces together. While he hadn’t expected the topic to come up quite this way, he’d hoped Tayshaun would feel comfortable enough with Jesse to open up. Because Tayshaun was a regular guy, and….

Jesse leaned forward. “Wait. You’re gay?”

Tayshaun nodded. “My team knows, and so do the coaches. It’s an open secret as they call it. I don’t know if I’m ready to be the first out player in the league. Shitload of pressure.”

Chuck shrugged. “You’re a franchise player. It may be easier for you than others.”

“I ever decide to do it, then you’ll be the first I call. You’ll make my ass look like the masterpiece it is.”

“I’ll grab us another round.” Jesse excused himself and headed for the bar.

Chuck glanced at Jesse over his shoulder. He hadn’t outright denied anything between them, but he hadn’t confirmed it either. And even though he’d left the table, he wasn’t running for the door. How fucked up was it that Chuck considered avoiding a panicked exodus a win?

Chuck sighed.

It was also much too familiar.

“Sorry about that,” Tayshaun said.

All around that could’ve gone better, but he hadn’t been able to figure out how to broach the subject with betraying either Tayshaun’s or Jesse’s trust.

Chuck waved off the apology. He’d find a way to talk to Jesse about it later. “Your season’s going well.”

“Football is my life.”

“Guess that means you’re not seeing Nunez anymore?”

“We burned hot and sputtered the fuck out. Couldn’t find any time once he got traded. How about you?” Tayshaun tipped his head up. “You seeing anyone?”

Chuck downed the rest of his beer. “Yeah. And it’s—”

“Me,” Jesse finished for him, setting the beers down.

Chuck swallowed, the word complicated lodging unsaid in his suddenly dry throat. Had Jesse just…?

Jesse plopped into his chair, his gaze locked to Tayshaun’s. “We just met about six weeks ago, but I can’t seem to shake him. He keeps showing up in my bed.”

A distinct crimson stained Jesse’s cheeks and half of his beer had been drained even though he’d only been gone for minutes. Chuck grounded himself in those details as he stared disbelieving at Jesse.

“Chuckie’s tenacious,” Tayshaun said. “Like a dog with a bone.”

“Tell me about it,” Jesse responded. “Tenacious and loyal—even when I asked him to keep us quiet.”

Chuck’s head spun. With Tayshaun across the table there was little he could say to acknowledge what had just happened, but he couldn’t let the moment pass unrecognized either.

He didn’t have to scramble for the words though, because Tayshaun was already leaning across the table. “Aw hell. You’re not out either, then?”

Jesse shook his head.

“Well”—Tayshaun grinned—“then I guess we have more to talk about than knees.”

“Guess we do.”

Then Jesse set his hand on Chuck’s thigh and squeezed.

Chuck felt the echoes of that touch for the rest of the night. He nursed the beer Jesse had bought for him until the contents were flat and warm, then stuck with water after that—wanting to remember every second of unguarded conversation. Every rumbling laugh Tayshaun elicited from Jesse. Every knowing glance Jesse sent his way.

When the lights flipped on to full power at the end of the night, Chuck embraced Tayshaun and promised to come see him again, and Tayshaun embraced Jesse with just as much warmth, extracting the same promise from him.

Chuck was sober and yet punch drunk.

He started up his truck and stared out the windshield, unsure what to say now that he and Jesse were alone.

But it was Jesse who finally broke the silence. “You and Tayshaun…? He isn’t the pro you were with, right?”

“No. He’s like my little brother,” Chuck said, watching Jesse’s shoulders relax with that answer. “If you really want to talk about exes right now I will, but Jesse— What you did in there…?”

Jesse shrugged. “After how cool Emily was, and spending this weekend with you…. I didn’t want to deny it, and Tayshaun felt safe.”

“He is.”

“All good things start with one step, right?” Jesse smiled shyly. “Or something like that.”

“Yeah, something like that,” Chuck repeated. He set his hand on Jesse’s nape and ran his fingers over the back of Jesse’s head. Jesse arched into the touch, his eyes slipping closed. As emotionally shocking as tonight had been for Chuck, it had to have been taxing for Jesse. “What do you want to do? Grab a hotel or drive?”

“Let’s see how far we can drive,” Jesse mumbled around a yawn. “I really do need to get back to work on Tuesday and I’d rather not be exhausted when I go back.”

“Britney it is, then,” Chuck said, letting go of Jesse and turning on his playlist.

Jesse chuckled lowly and reached for Chuck’s hand as they pulled out of the parking lot. He entwined their fingers and rested his head against the window, snoring softly before they even hit the freeway.

Chuck hummed under his breath. The energy from Britney and the warm, powerful hand in his was enough to keep him going well through the night.

Author S.A. McAuley is a wandering LGBTQ author who sleeps little and reads a lot. Happiest in a foreign country. Twitchy when not mentally in motion. Her name is Sam, not Sammy, definitely not Samantha. She’s a dark/cynical/jaded person, but hides that darkness well behind her obsession(s) with shiny objects.

Connect with her:

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorSAMcAuley

Website: https://www.samcauley.com

Tumblr: @authorquestionmark

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Ly9Rv

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authorsamcauley/

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/authorsamcauley

 

 

 

Giveaway: Celebrate the release of OUT OF THE SHADE with author S.A. McAuley by entering this giveaway for a chance to win 1 of 3 $10 Amazon Gift Cards!

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RELEASE BLITZ for By Way of Pain (Criminal Delights:Assassins) by JM Dabney

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ReleaseBlitz-ByWayofPain

By Way of Pain

Criminal Delights Series, Book 11

J.M. Dabney

M/M Dark Romance

Release Date: 05.20.19

BY Way of Pain Cover

Blurb

Double lives were just the way it was for a man like me. By day I was a man with a reputation above reproach. Even assassins needed backup plans. For fifteen years, life was going without a hitch until I had to take out a witness. When it was time to kill him, beautiful eyes filled with fear urged me to do something else. Yet, in order to do that, I had to break him, and by way of pain, my captive would experience pleasure he’d never dreamed.

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.

Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

Trigger Warnings: Title contains the following possible triggers. Humiliation, Violence, Master/slave elements, Male Chastity, Murder, Imprisonment, Dub-Con, and Brief Torture.

Universal Link: books2read.com/CriminalDelights-Pain

By-Way-of-Pain-Teaser-Because-I-Can

By-Way-of-Pain-Teaser-Cowen-Abnormal

Excerpt

It was a place created for a hunter. Big, sprawling and dirty—victims roaming the streets unaware of their status as prey. They all felt they were safe from the monsters because they were all easily spotted, but they knew nothing about my kind. We were just an abstract concept on some true crime show they watched in the middle of the night—evil reduced to caricature. My reputation was above reproach, but I was the most prolific killer of my kind.

In moments of respite where I hid away in my cabin, I’d analyzed when I’d become broken. I believed my sociopathy was a result of conception. Maybe something as damaged as I shouldn’t have survived to birth. A shell without a soul. I’d attempted suicide a time or two, and I bore the marks from years of self-harm. I’d hoped to feel something—pain proved you were alive—and yet the more I cut and burned, it became nothing more than a minor inconvenience—wounds to heal.

I closed my eyes, drew oxygen in through my nose and pushed it slowly past my lips, repeated until I opened my eyes. As with any normal person ending work, I gathered up files and my laptop, stowing them inside my satchel briefcase. Everything in my life was routine and repetition, nothing deviated. I arrived at my office at six in the morning and promptly left at six at night. Meetings were scheduled as needed. I appeared in court. I was successful at my chosen cover, but as with all aspects of my existence, they were disguises.
JM logo

J.M. Dabney is a multi-genre author who writes mainly LGBT romance and fiction. They live with a constant diverse cast of characters in their head. No matter their size, shape, race, etc. J.M. lives for one purpose alone, and that’s to make sure they do them justice and give them the happily ever after they deserve. J.M. is dysfunction at its finest and they makes sure their characters are a beautiful kaleidoscope of crazy. There is nothing more they want from telling their stories than to show that no matter the package the characters come in or the damage their pasts have done, that love is love. That normal is never normal and sometimes the so-called broken can still be amazing.

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/J.M.DabneyAuthor/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/jmdabney_author

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/authorjmdabney/?hl=en

Reader Group – https://www.facebook.com/groups/585182991553194/

Amazon Author Page – https://www.amazon.com/J.M.-Dabney/e/B006QZIFLE

Website – www.jmdabneyauthor.com

Mailing List – http://eepurl.com/dzWnIn

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