Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell. This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell

If you’ve read a book by RJ Scott or V.L. Locey to name two authors quickly off the top of my head, well, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  If you read some or all of the stories  in The Christmas Angel series by various authors, then you’ve seen the covers of Meredith Russell.  And of course, if you’ve read Dead Things or Fallout,  you’ve seen a cover created by the artist for a book she’s written.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Plus if you are a follower of either RJ Scott or VL Locey or the MM Hockey Romance Group, then you are familiar with the adorable chibis that Meredith Russell draws of the characters of the Harrisburg Railers hockey players and their mates and families.  I’m hoping she will extend it to the Rush soon.  Here is the first chibi she drew.  It’s Tennant Rowe! The others can be found here at

Railers Chibi-style promo pieces

Adorable, right?  If you are a fan of the Harrisburg Railers series by RJ Scott and VL Locey, then you know Ten is featured in a very special story that’s to be released this summer, June 30th 2019.  Here’s a look at the cover by Meredith Russell, of course|
Now onto our interview….

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Interviews Meredith Russell on Art, Book Covers and Much More

  • How long it takes to put together a cover draft and whether or not they make multiple drafts to show authors/publishers?

Making a draft varies author to author for me. Some come with ideas, or a set style they’ve adopted, or images they’ve found themselves and so we go down one route and a single draft, and it’s a rather painless process. Then others need to see something to help decide what they actually are after from a cover. I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to exactly how long I spend on a draft. There are various stages I go through – getting any info or ideas from the author, looking at what images are available and which might work together, some back and forth with the author as to whether images fit with what they’re after, and finally the cutting/pasting/making etc of the draft. The time adds up but usually after a few days I have something to show them and a starting point to tweak into something final.

  • How much of your covers are original art and how much do you rely on using content purchased elsewhere (like Shutterstock

I work pretty much exclusively with images from stock sites so I am limited in some ways to what I can find on them and how I can maybe manipulate them into what we need. However, I would love to venture into digital art but I haven’t found the time to devote myself to figuring it out or getting the resources I’d need. I’ve had fun creating some simple drawings for RJ Scott, and a couple of others, who have had me turn their characters into little cartoon people though.

  • How much input comes from the author and/or storyline?

Again it varies. Some authors have a set idea of what they want. Some (naming no names lol) come to me requesting a man with brown hair and give me a couple of details about the story’s setting. I do like to know about the storyline or at least key moments or places that can be incorporated into the cover.

  • How did you get to become a cover artist?

What feels like a long time ago now, I used to do bits of fan art, mostly fanfiction banners for myself and some other writers. When RJ Scott went on to self-publishing she asked me to create her a cover and it went from there.

What mediums do you use? 

I work on a pc. I do have a pen and tablet that I use for drawing the cartoon characters (see above), but also a lot of those do actually start out as pencil and paper sketches that I then digitize and use as a guide.

Do you have a favorite cover you have done? 

Oh that’s a tough one. I recently did a set of seven covers for a series called The Christmas Angel. I liked how they turned out along with the challenge some of them offered considering they were all set in different time periods. A few others I really like include Liam Livings’ And Then That Happened, RJ Scott’s Boy Banned, KC Wells’ A Christmas Promise, and an as yet untitled merman cover I created as a premade that Amber Kell bought off me. Somebody should poke her.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you have a favorite cover artist yourself?

I do. I really love Jay Aheer’s work. She does some beautiful pieces.

Did you look at book covers or were influenced by book covers as a child?

I don’t think so much as a child. I was more about the title and blurb, particularly considering what was popular in way of covers back then, or at least for the kinds of books I was reading. It wasn’t until maybe early twenties where I started being tempted by pretty covers, quite a few being the YA type books, or having a striking female model on them.

What do you find most rewarding as a Book Cover Artist?

I just really enjoy getting to work with the authors. I enjoy the sharing of emails, building a working relationship and even friendships.

If you could ask yourself a question, what would it be?

It would be, ‘Have you remembered about that request you got over on Facebook?’ Seriously, I have a terrible memory and am constantly emailing myself or telling people to send details in emails as my inbox is something I have open all day whilst on my computer and can easily check on my phone when I’m not at my desk.

From the Christmas Angel series…

For both the Author and Cover Artist:

  • What or how do you see the role of the Book Cover?

Firstly, as an attention grabber. If you’re looking for something beyond the regular authors you read, the title and cover are the first things you’re exposed to so it helps if they make an impression. And secondly, covers can be a way of making a brand for authors. It might be they all have a set look – so maybe a single model on the cover, or simply keeping the font for their name consistent for all their books.

  • How has the eBook format changed that , if any?

I don’t think it’s changed it too greatly, in that whether you’re walking a row of books in a store or scrolling through online pages of somewhere like Amazon, covers are there to grab your attention.

  • What trends do you see in Book Covers in the industry? Past, present, and future?  {for example the rise of the naked half male torso, model overuse, generic covers ,etc.)

I think like with everything styles come in and out of fashion. There was the time of the headless models, shirtless torsos, two models, touched up single image covers,  Recently, for me at least, it’s been focusing on a single model on covers, for example The Christmas Angel series and having just one of the characters on there. And unfortunately, because cost is a factor for many authors when paying for cover art, repeated use of models from stock sites is difficult to avoid, but it offers artists the challenge to try and use them differently.

  • How do you feel about them?

Personally, I think the only trend I didn’t like was the headless men one. I know it was a way to make use of limited models in the earlier days, plus allows readers to form their own image of the character simply from whatever descriptions the authors wrote about them, but for me, I just wasn’t a fan. Otherwise, each trend has its place and does its job. There’s a risk of all books looking the same, but that’s then up to the artists, and also the authors and their input, to put their own twist on what’s popular.

  • Anything you would like to share with our readers?

If you’re interested in my work both as an author and cover artist you can view details at my website meredithrussell.co.uk, or find me over at Facebook https://www.facebook.com/meredithrussellauthor. Thank you.

 

About Meredith

Meredith Russell lives in the heart of England. An avid fan of many story genres, she enjoys nothing less than a happy ending. She believes in heroes and romance and strives to reflect this in her writing. Sharing her imagination and passion for stories and characters is a dream Meredith is excited to turn into reality.

Meredith Russell’s Media links
I hope everyone enjoyed this week’s spotlight with Meredith Russell.  It has been a joy getting to know her further.  Please check out more of her artwork and stories at her website listed above.
We have more Artist Spotlights Scheduled. The schedule to date (with links in case you missed one):
February 09:  Aisha Akeju
February 10:   Garrett Leigh
February 17:   Meredith Russell
February 24:  Reese Dante
March  3           Paul Richmond

Cover Artist Giveaway:

Please don’t forget to leave comments or questions for our artists to be entered into our Book Cover Artist Giveaway, a Gift Certificate for $10 the person chosen.  Please leave a email address where you can be reached.  Open until St. Patrick’s Day.
Now for this week’s reviews and tours.  Happy Reading and Listening!

This Week at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

Sunday, February 17:

  • Artists and Book Covers Spotlight: Meredith Russell.
  • This Week At Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
  • A MelanieM Review: Hat Trick (Harrisburg Railers #8) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey

Monday, February 18:

  • Release Blitz Milo by Lily Morton
  • Amy Lane Author Guest Post
  • Harmony Ink YA John Goode
  • An Alisa Review: Port in a Storm (Kitten and Witch #1) by K.L. Noone
  • A MelanieM Review: Wolff (Redemption #1) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lucy Review: Shine (Uncorked #4) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review: For the Clan by Archer Kay Leah

Tuesday, February 19:

  • Book Blitz for Blood Lust by L.E. Royal
  • Cover Reveal – Broken by Colette Davison
  • An Alisa Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Ithani (The Oberon Cycle #3) by J. Scott Coatsworth
  • A Barb the Zany Old Lady Release Day Review: My Fair Brady by K.C. Wells
  • A Lucy Audio Review: Rocking the Cowboy by Skylar M. Catesj and  Colin Darcy (Narrator)

Wednesday, February 20:

  • Ostakis by Angelica Primm
  • Review Tour – Sam Burns – Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan
  • Cover Reveal,- The Rising by Morgan Brice
  • A MelanieM Release Day Review: Diplomatic Relations (The Sci-Regency Series #4) by J.L. Langley
  • A Lucy Review: Sweet (Uncorked #5) by Shea Balik
  • A Free Dreamer Review:  Eagle In The Hawthorn (Rowan Harbor Cycle #8) by Sam Burns
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: No Fae is an Island (Endangered Fae #4) by Angel Martinez

Thursday, February 21:

  • BLOG TOUR Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock
  • An ALisa Review: The Romantic by Elodie Parkes
  • A MelanieM Review: Gage (Redemption #2) by J.J. Harper
  • A Lila Review The Mercenaries of the Stolen Moon by Megan Derr
  • A Free Dreamer Review: Foreign to You by Jeremy Martin

Friday, February 22:

  • OLD SINS by Charlie Cochrane Tour by Charlie Cochrane
  • Release Blitz – Jay Northcote – Better Place (Rainbow Place #3)
  • DSP PROMO Andrew Grey on Reunited
  • Book Blast – Apple Boy (The Quiet Work #1) by Isobel Starling
  • An Alisa Review: Ace of Hearts by Caitlin Ricci
  • A Chaos Moondrawn Review: Broken Alpha (The Alpha/Omega Verse #1) by D.C. Juris
  • A Caryn Review: Salute to the Stud by Beth Laycock

Saturday, February 23:

  • Release Blitz Signal – Kris Jacen – Step Up With Me
  • “Ithani” by J. Scott Coatsworth Mark (OWL) Tour
  • A MelanieM Review:  Step Up With Me by Kris Jacen
  • A MelanieM Review Waiting on the Rain by Freddy MacKay

Cover Reveal for Touch Of A Yellow Sun (Colors of Love #2) by V.L. Locey (giveaway)

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Release Date: February 27 2019
 
Cover Design: Designs By Sloan
 
Length: 88,600 words approx.
 
Colors Of Love Series
 
Book #1 – Lost In Indigo – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Blurb
 

It’s been a rough couple of years for Marek Hafer, roaming hockey protagonist and pugilistic expert. Ending up in Berger Lake, Pennsylvania, on a financially unstable minor league team might just be the ending his wretched career deserves. On the other side of thirty, Marek knows his time on skates is dwindling. His goal now is to spend a few quiet years playing for the Berger Lake Badgers, knock a few helmets together as needed, and then call it quits before his salty personality gets him booted out of hockey permanently.


After a bloody encounter his first night on the ice, the Badgers coach suggests that Marek find a way to lower his violent tendencies before he’s sent packing yet again. That decree leads Marek to knock on the door of his next-door neighbor, Shey Pierson, the owner of Sun Touch Yoga Studio. Shey ticks every box Marek has with his soft blue eyes, flowing golden hair, and long limber legs. The only problem is that Shey is yin to Marek’s yang.


Can a man famed for throwing punches find serenity in the arms of a man known for his tranquil ways?

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.



V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.


When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

Giveaway

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Release Blitz and Giveaway for One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5) by V.L. Locey

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Buy Links:Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2DcQepb

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2AOxCdv

 
Length: 57,000 words approx.
 
 

Cayuga Cougars Series

Book #1 – Snap Shot – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Overtime – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

The past few years have been a bit chaotic for Cougars new associate coach, Lancaster Hart. After an amiable divorce he began living his life as the gay man he’d kept closeted for far too long. With the recent move to Cayuga, he’s away from his support system and properly made sweet tea. Despite a roster filled with new friends and associates, he’s spending his nights alone.

As his team gears up to make a run at the Calder Cup, Lancaster discovers that not everything in upstate New York is wine, woodlands, and chilly conservative ideals. At a summer music festival, he first lays eyes on Townsend Harris, folksy/blues singer by night and mayoral office assistant by day. Lancaster is enraptured with the man’s powerful sultry voice. Also, Town just might be the most beautiful man he has seen in all his forty-one years.

The two hit it off at an informal meet and greet after the show, where they spend the night talking and sipping wine. One evening of conversation and an incendiary goodbye kiss leads them into a scorching love affair that might be exactly what Lancaster has been searching for his whole life. Can his team pull off professionally what he’s hoping to do privately as well? Or will capturing their dream evade both the Cougars and Lancaster?

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

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Review Tour and Giveaway for Neutral Zone (A Christmas Railers Novella) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey

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Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Length: 40,000 words approx.
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Last Defense – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Goal Line – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Tennant Rowe has it all, a boyfriend he adores, a loving family, and a career on the rise. He’s sure of his place in the world, and the future can only get brighter. Then one night, in a flash of skates and sticks, life changes forever. Getting back on the ice is Ten’s priority, and experts tell him that it’s just a matter of time.


Jared watches his lover fall in more ways than one, and when tragedy strikes, even the strongest of relationships are tested. Ten is strong, but Jared has to be stronger to help the man who holds his heart. Only, he has to admit that maybe it isn’t just him who can make Ten whole again.


Jared and Ten’s love is forever, but the rocky path to the romantic Christmas Jared had planned may be hard to travel.

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words 5 star review here.
Excerpt



Ten


Karma. It’s a real bitch. Just ask anyone.


I’d left my man and my team behind in Harrisburg and flown to—get this—fucking Tucson, Arizona, to begin treatment for my traumatic head injury.


The same city the Raptors played in.


I could open the blinds in my room here in the Draper Neurological Rehabilitation and Performance Center and see the glistening mirrored sides of the Santa Catalina Arena. Funny shit right there. Four blocks over, the Raptors were on the ice for morning skate, and I was here, trying to get my brain healed enough so I could maybe play my game again someday.


Shit, right now I’d be happy to be able to speak or read normally.


“Ho, ho, ho,” I growled, closing the drapes, then pulling my sunglasses off and tossing them to the bed. Living behind sunglasses and blinds sucked. Headaches sucked. Slurred speech sucked. Seeing the pity in the eyes of my boyfriend and family and teammates sucked. Christmas with sand and cactus sucked. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be back home with Mads, decorating our tree and shaking my presents. I wanted to be shopping for gifts for my boyfriend, my mother and father, for my brothers, and for Stan and Adler and all the Railers. I wanted things to be the way they had been before that night. Tears threatened, but I held them in. Crying only made my head hurt worse.


So, I padded out of my room and made my way to breakfast and the first of several rounds of rehab I’d be facing today. I’d been here one day and had come to realize that my brain was now as well-known with the neurologists here as my face was back in Harrisburg. This was the place for athletes to come when they were battling CTE-related brain issues. Most of the men here were older, retired players, lots of football players. I mean lots of them. I’d met three other hockey players so far, all retired, all fighting to keep a step ahead of the disease taking over their brains. Sometimes, late at night, when I was lying in bed, I’d get scared for myself and all the other guys on my team. I worried about Mads. God knows how many concussions he’d had when he was playing. Add that to his heart shit and… well, I worried about stuff now. Lots more stuff than I had before the night my head met the ice, sans helmet.


The facility held a hundred and fifty people, and not all of us were athletes. Lots of patients had come here after car accidents or other catastrophic injuries. There were head injuries and spinal cord injuries being healed. The staff seemed nice, confident in their ability to nurse me back to my old self or as close as we could get. The halls were bright and airy, the food excellent, and the medical staff top-notch. And yes, it was expensive and elite and the cream of the crop. Which was why Mads had stubbornly pushed me into coming here after my initial rehab had been completed. Two weeks at the facility, a couple of weeks back home for the holidays, then back for another four weeks. Then maybe we’d talk about hockey.


“Hey, you’re Tennant Rowe, right?”


I skidded to a halt outside one of a dozen sun-rooms. As though people in Arizona didn’t get enough sun just stepping outside? They needed to make rooms for sun? A tall, burly black man about my age ran at me, hand out. I smiled up at him, trying to pull some information about him from my cloudy memory banks.


“I’m Declan Fidler, cornerback for the Temple Owls.”


“Ah, cool, hey man.” We shook hands. God, he was cute. Short hair and a flashy smile, big wide shoulders and inkwork all over his arms. “Sorry to see you here though, dude.”


“Yeah, I know that.” He ran a hand over his hair. “First game of the season too.”


“That sucks,” I said, then released his hand. “I was on my way to the dining hall.”


“I could eat if you want some company.”


“Totally. Be nice to have someone to talk to who’s under forty.”


“I feel that.”


He joined me on the walk to the dining hall, which looked nothing like the hospital cafeteria I’d been expecting when I first saw it yesterday. This place was upmarket. Round tables with cloth covers, thick royal-blue carpeting, windows that ran floor to ceiling, flowering plants in the corners, and a wait staff.


“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this place,” I murmured as I followed Declan to a table by the windows.


“I feel the same way,” he said as we took our seats. “I mean, I grew up wealthy, my father’s the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and I was still blown away.”


“That’s impressive. Did he…?” My brain went totally blank, and I scrambled to find the proper word. “Push. Yeah, did he push to get you in here?” I winced at the slip.


Fuck this shit. Really. Push? How fucking hard it is to recall a word like push?


An older woman in a tidy uniform filled our water glasses, then asked if she could have our room numbers. All the meals here were prepared by nutritionists with an eye to the patients’—athletes in my case—unique needs.


“Big-time. He was adamant about me coming here after the initial rehab. Said that this place would do things to counter the damage that no regular rehab could do. You here for CRT?”


“I uhm…” and that skip again. Fuck. “Dude, sorry, I’m like…” I tapped my temple.


He reached over the table to take my hand. “Ten, man, do not sweat it. You should have seen me when I got here. Barely able to string four words together. Sometimes I still trip up, just like that. But it’s all good. We’re tough motherfuckers. We’ll train our brains.”


“Yeah, train the brains. Cool.”


He gave my hand a squeeze and then released it. “So CRT?”


Our food was served, my platter loaded with scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, a bowl of oatmeal, and chocolate milk. My meds also sat on my tray. Declan’s food was similar, as were the meds in tiny cups lined up for him.


“Cognitive rehab therapy,” he said before shaking out his napkin and laying it over his lap. I did the same and tossed down the pills. I had no idea what they were pumping into me, and I truly didn’t care. As long as they got me back on the ice, they could be dumping Soylent green into my body via the milk. Man, that old movie rocked. What I wouldn’t give to be curled up on the couch with Mads watching it again. “Speech, occupation, and physical therapy. You don’t have any big physical issues, do you?”


“Some weakness on the left side, my arm, but it’s getting better. I hardly drop anything now.”


“That’s good. Once the swelling goes down, things tend to get better.” He took a bite from a slice of whole wheat toast. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here eating with you. Cup winner, LGBT crusader. Thanks for doing that, coming out, being proud and gay. I know how hard that is. My family and team have been amazing about my being queer.”


“Excellent. Glad they’re… fuck, I just. Give me a sec. Yeah, uhm, glad it’s good for you. I’m sorry. Sometimes I can go, like, whole days and barely fuck up, and then I’ll hit this patch where my brain glitches out and… shit. Fuck. Okay, I’m going to shut up for a minute and let my neurons… fire or something.”


“It’s fine. I understand.” And he did. I could see it in his eyes. He totally got it because he was living it too.


I wished everyone else in my life could get it as Declan did. We ate in amiable silence, not that heavy, cloaking pity blanket of quietude that my family draped over me every time I fumbled.


Therapy followed that pleasant breakfast, hours of it. Doctors and nurses, therapists, reading and tests and poking and prodding. Weights and treadmills and medicine balls. Shoving tiny pegs into tinier holes, pet therapy which was actually cool because who didn’t love a dog kiss? Speech therapy was last, and I tanked at it. Totally blew it to shit with my inability to recall one simple phrase. It made me so mad I flipped the table, sending papers and pencils flying. Then, because I had no clue where that outburst had come from, I felt even shittier.


“Tennant, it’s okay,” the woman, who was some fancy kind of advanced speech therapist, said as we picked up the mess I’d made. “Temper flare-ups are common. It’s frustrating not to be able to express yourself. We see that frequently in stroke victims.”


“That was uncool. Just so uncool. I didn’t… it wasn’t… shit.” I dropped to my ass, hands full of work sheets that looked as if a four-year-old had scribbled them down, buried my face in the papers, and wept.


Julie. Yes! That was her name. Julie sat down beside me, rubbed my back, and told me all kinds of reassuring things.


“I’m kind of done for the day,” I told her, and she let me go. I walked the halls, feeling discouraged and sickened with myself. Once I got back to my room, I called home, needing to hear Jared’s voice. As soon as he picked up, I kind of began babbling. A lot of it wasn’t sensible, and it was garbled because I’d have to stop, think, and then restart. But through all of that, Jared listened and never interrupted. When I was done, I fell back onto the bed, exhausted, battling a headache, and sick to death of myself and my stupid brain.


“Sounds like a rough first day,” Jared said. I rolled to my side, tucking my knees up, my gaze on that shiny arena where the Raptors were playing hockey right now. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come out? I can get a hotel room.”


“No, you need to work. The team needs you.”


“You need me as well, Tennant.”


“No, I got this. You can’t do this for me, Mads. Neither can Ryker or Brady or Jamie or my mother. It’s just…” I exhaled through pursed lips. “It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. I mean, I knew it would be hard but fuck sake, I couldn’t recall simple words. How will I ever be able to play if I can’t…” I stopped and calmed myself down. “I hate that this happened. I hate Aarni so much for doing this to me, Jared. I never thought I could ever hate anyone.”


“I know, babe. I wish you’d reconsider and let me come out there.”


He sounded as sick at heart as I was. And truthfully, in that moment, I was close to telling him to fly out. I so needed his arms around me.


“Tell me you love me.”


“I love you.” He drew in a shaky breath. “Do you want me to come out? Just say the word.”


I sat up slowly to avoid a head-rush and the pain that went along with those. “No, I’m good.” I pushed to my feet and went to the window. The sun was setting now, the mirrored sides of the Santa Catalina Arena glowing scarlet and pink. “I’m a tough camper. My Mom said that to me the first time I went to hockey camp.”


“Yeah? How old were you? Five months old or so?”


That made me chuckle. “Nah man, I was like six. And this camp was in Buffalo. I wanted to go so bad. I mean, I can be kind of stubborn when I want something.”


“I’m well aware of that fact,” he replied. Was he sitting down or pacing? Probably pacing because he was tension-riddled over me. “You were persistent about us.”


“Damn right I was. I knew we’d be good.” I touched the pane of glass as a smile of remembrance played on my lips. “I went to that camp, and as soon as my folks dropped me off, I wanted to come home. But Mom wouldn’t let me. She said I had to be a tough camper and that once the homesickness wore off, I’d be glad I stayed.”


“Were you?”


“Yeah, I loved it. Scored my first goal against Tommy Wayfarer. He got mad and cried.” The lights of Tucson began to flicker to life. Someone walked by my door humming Santa Claus is Coming to Town. “I’ll be okay. I just have to score my first goal here.”


“You will.”


“Yeah, I will. So, tell me about morning skate. How did the lines look?”


We talked about the Railers and about Ryker and Declan, my new therapy buddy. We talked about old movies and new songs. We talked for hours. Darkness had blanketed the city when I dozed off on him. I woke up a second later, phone still to my ear, my boyfriend chuckling.


“Wow, you snored yourself awake,” Mads said, then groaned, rising to his feet I assumed.


“Shit, yeah, I fell asleep.” A yawn rolled out of me. I flopped to my side on the bed, my sight on the desert sky over Tucson.


“I need to turn in too,” he said around a yawn.


“Yeah, you’re a couple of hours ahead of us. I’ll call you tomorrow at the same time. I love you, Mads.”


“I love you too, Ten. And your mother was right; you are a tough camper. You’ll begin to see improvement, I know you. You won’t stop until you do.”


“Thanks, Coach.”


“Wiseass.”


“I miss our goodnight kisses.” My eyes were so heavy I could barely keep them open.


“You’ll get plenty when you get home.”


“Mm, loving sounds good.”


“Yes, it does. Get some rest. Heal. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”


“Night,” I mumbled, ended the call, and then fell into an exhausted but fitful sleep. The bed was too hard, too narrow, and far too lacking in Jared Madsen’s big, broad body.

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

 

 

 

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Release Blitz for Neutral Zone: A Christmas Railers Novella (Harrisburg Railers #7) by R.J. Scott and V.L. Locey (excerpt and giveaway)

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Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Length: 40,000 words approx.
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Last Defense – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Goal Line – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Tennant Rowe has it all, a boyfriend he adores, a loving family, and a career on the rise. He’s sure of his place in the world, and the future can only get brighter. Then one night, in a flash of skates and sticks, life changes forever. Getting back on the ice is Ten’s priority, and experts tell him that it’s just a matter of time.


Jared watches his lover fall in more ways than one, and when tragedy strikes, even the strongest of relationships are tested. Ten is strong, but Jared has to be stronger to help the man who holds his heart. Only, he has to admit that maybe it isn’t just him who can make Ten whole again.


Jared and Ten’s love is forever, but the rocky path to the romantic Christmas Jared had planned may be hard to travel.

 
Excerpt



Ten


Karma. It’s a real bitch. Just ask anyone.


I’d left my man and my team behind in Harrisburg and flown to—get this—fucking Tucson, Arizona, to begin treatment for my traumatic head injury.


The same city the Raptors played in.


I could open the blinds in my room here in the Draper Neurological Rehabilitation and Performance Center and see the glistening mirrored sides of the Santa Catalina Arena. Funny shit right there. Four blocks over, the Raptors were on the ice for morning skate, and I was here, trying to get my brain healed enough so I could maybe play my game again someday.


Shit, right now I’d be happy to be able to speak or read normally.


“Ho, ho, ho,” I growled, closing the drapes, then pulling my sunglasses off and tossing them to the bed. Living behind sunglasses and blinds sucked. Headaches sucked. Slurred speech sucked. Seeing the pity in the eyes of my boyfriend and family and teammates sucked. Christmas with sand and cactus sucked. I wanted to cry. I wanted to be back home with Mads, decorating our tree and shaking my presents. I wanted to be shopping for gifts for my boyfriend, my mother and father, for my brothers, and for Stan and Adler and all the Railers. I wanted things to be the way they had been before that night. Tears threatened, but I held them in. Crying only made my head hurt worse.


So, I padded out of my room and made my way to breakfast and the first of several rounds of rehab I’d be facing today. I’d been here one day and had come to realize that my brain was now as well-known with the neurologists here as my face was back in Harrisburg. This was the place for athletes to come when they were battling CTE-related brain issues. Most of the men here were older, retired players, lots of football players. I mean lots of them. I’d met three other hockey players so far, all retired, all fighting to keep a step ahead of the disease taking over their brains. Sometimes, late at night, when I was lying in bed, I’d get scared for myself and all the other guys on my team. I worried about Mads. God knows how many concussions he’d had when he was playing. Add that to his heart shit and… well, I worried about stuff now. Lots more stuff than I had before the night my head met the ice, sans helmet.


The facility held a hundred and fifty people, and not all of us were athletes. Lots of patients had come here after car accidents or other catastrophic injuries. There were head injuries and spinal cord injuries being healed. The staff seemed nice, confident in their ability to nurse me back to my old self or as close as we could get. The halls were bright and airy, the food excellent, and the medical staff top-notch. And yes, it was expensive and elite and the cream of the crop. Which was why Mads had stubbornly pushed me into coming here after my initial rehab had been completed. Two weeks at the facility, a couple of weeks back home for the holidays, then back for another four weeks. Then maybe we’d talk about hockey.


“Hey, you’re Tennant Rowe, right?”


I skidded to a halt outside one of a dozen sun-rooms. As though people in Arizona didn’t get enough sun just stepping outside? They needed to make rooms for sun? A tall, burly black man about my age ran at me, hand out. I smiled up at him, trying to pull some information about him from my cloudy memory banks.


“I’m Declan Fidler, cornerback for the Temple Owls.”


“Ah, cool, hey man.” We shook hands. God, he was cute. Short hair and a flashy smile, big wide shoulders and inkwork all over his arms. “Sorry to see you here though, dude.”


“Yeah, I know that.” He ran a hand over his hair. “First game of the season too.”


“That sucks,” I said, then released his hand. “I was on my way to the dining hall.”


“I could eat if you want some company.”


“Totally. Be nice to have someone to talk to who’s under forty.”


“I feel that.”


He joined me on the walk to the dining hall, which looked nothing like the hospital cafeteria I’d been expecting when I first saw it yesterday. This place was upmarket. Round tables with cloth covers, thick royal-blue carpeting, windows that ran floor to ceiling, flowering plants in the corners, and a wait staff.


“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this place,” I murmured as I followed Declan to a table by the windows.


“I feel the same way,” he said as we took our seats. “I mean, I grew up wealthy, my father’s the chief justice of the Pennsylvania Supreme Court, and I was still blown away.”


“That’s impressive. Did he…?” My brain went totally blank, and I scrambled to find the proper word. “Push. Yeah, did he push to get you in here?” I winced at the slip.


Fuck this shit. Really. Push? How fucking hard it is to recall a word like push?


An older woman in a tidy uniform filled our water glasses, then asked if she could have our room numbers. All the meals here were prepared by nutritionists with an eye to the patients’—athletes in my case—unique needs.


“Big-time. He was adamant about me coming here after the initial rehab. Said that this place would do things to counter the damage that no regular rehab could do. You here for CRT?”


“I uhm…” and that skip again. Fuck. “Dude, sorry, I’m like…” I tapped my temple.


He reached over the table to take my hand. “Ten, man, do not sweat it. You should have seen me when I got here. Barely able to string four words together. Sometimes I still trip up, just like that. But it’s all good. We’re tough motherfuckers. We’ll train our brains.”


“Yeah, train the brains. Cool.”


He gave my hand a squeeze and then released it. “So CRT?”


Our food was served, my platter loaded with scrambled eggs, fresh fruit, a bowl of oatmeal, and chocolate milk. My meds also sat on my tray. Declan’s food was similar, as were the meds in tiny cups lined up for him.


“Cognitive rehab therapy,” he said before shaking out his napkin and laying it over his lap. I did the same and tossed down the pills. I had no idea what they were pumping into me, and I truly didn’t care. As long as they got me back on the ice, they could be dumping Soylent green into my body via the milk. Man, that old movie rocked. What I wouldn’t give to be curled up on the couch with Mads watching it again. “Speech, occupation, and physical therapy. You don’t have any big physical issues, do you?”


“Some weakness on the left side, my arm, but it’s getting better. I hardly drop anything now.”


“That’s good. Once the swelling goes down, things tend to get better.” He took a bite from a slice of whole wheat toast. “I can’t believe I’m sitting here eating with you. Cup winner, LGBT crusader. Thanks for doing that, coming out, being proud and gay. I know how hard that is. My family and team have been amazing about my being queer.”


“Excellent. Glad they’re… fuck, I just. Give me a sec. Yeah, uhm, glad it’s good for you. I’m sorry. Sometimes I can go, like, whole days and barely fuck up, and then I’ll hit this patch where my brain glitches out and… shit. Fuck. Okay, I’m going to shut up for a minute and let my neurons… fire or something.”


“It’s fine. I understand.” And he did. I could see it in his eyes. He totally got it because he was living it too.


I wished everyone else in my life could get it as Declan did. We ate in amiable silence, not that heavy, cloaking pity blanket of quietude that my family draped over me every time I fumbled.


Therapy followed that pleasant breakfast, hours of it. Doctors and nurses, therapists, reading and tests and poking and prodding. Weights and treadmills and medicine balls. Shoving tiny pegs into tinier holes, pet therapy which was actually cool because who didn’t love a dog kiss? Speech therapy was last, and I tanked at it. Totally blew it to shit with my inability to recall one simple phrase. It made me so mad I flipped the table, sending papers and pencils flying. Then, because I had no clue where that outburst had come from, I felt even shittier.


“Tennant, it’s okay,” the woman, who was some fancy kind of advanced speech therapist, said as we picked up the mess I’d made. “Temper flare-ups are common. It’s frustrating not to be able to express yourself. We see that frequently in stroke victims.”


“That was uncool. Just so uncool. I didn’t… it wasn’t… shit.” I dropped to my ass, hands full of work sheets that looked as if a four-year-old had scribbled them down, buried my face in the papers, and wept.


Julie. Yes! That was her name. Julie sat down beside me, rubbed my back, and told me all kinds of reassuring things.


“I’m kind of done for the day,” I told her, and she let me go. I walked the halls, feeling discouraged and sickened with myself. Once I got back to my room, I called home, needing to hear Jared’s voice. As soon as he picked up, I kind of began babbling. A lot of it wasn’t sensible, and it was garbled because I’d have to stop, think, and then restart. But through all of that, Jared listened and never interrupted. When I was done, I fell back onto the bed, exhausted, battling a headache, and sick to death of myself and my stupid brain.


“Sounds like a rough first day,” Jared said. I rolled to my side, tucking my knees up, my gaze on that shiny arena where the Raptors were playing hockey right now. “Are you sure you don’t want me to come out? I can get a hotel room.”


“No, you need to work. The team needs you.”


“You need me as well, Tennant.”


“No, I got this. You can’t do this for me, Mads. Neither can Ryker or Brady or Jamie or my mother. It’s just…” I exhaled through pursed lips. “It’s so much harder than I thought it would be. I mean, I knew it would be hard but fuck sake, I couldn’t recall simple words. How will I ever be able to play if I can’t…” I stopped and calmed myself down. “I hate that this happened. I hate Aarni so much for doing this to me, Jared. I never thought I could ever hate anyone.”


“I know, babe. I wish you’d reconsider and let me come out there.”


He sounded as sick at heart as I was. And truthfully, in that moment, I was close to telling him to fly out. I so needed his arms around me.


“Tell me you love me.”


“I love you.” He drew in a shaky breath. “Do you want me to come out? Just say the word.”


I sat up slowly to avoid a head-rush and the pain that went along with those. “No, I’m good.” I pushed to my feet and went to the window. The sun was setting now, the mirrored sides of the Santa Catalina Arena glowing scarlet and pink. “I’m a tough camper. My Mom said that to me the first time I went to hockey camp.”


“Yeah? How old were you? Five months old or so?”


That made me chuckle. “Nah man, I was like six. And this camp was in Buffalo. I wanted to go so bad. I mean, I can be kind of stubborn when I want something.”


“I’m well aware of that fact,” he replied. Was he sitting down or pacing? Probably pacing because he was tension-riddled over me. “You were persistent about us.”


“Damn right I was. I knew we’d be good.” I touched the pane of glass as a smile of remembrance played on my lips. “I went to that camp, and as soon as my folks dropped me off, I wanted to come home. But Mom wouldn’t let me. She said I had to be a tough camper and that once the homesickness wore off, I’d be glad I stayed.”


“Were you?”


“Yeah, I loved it. Scored my first goal against Tommy Wayfarer. He got mad and cried.” The lights of Tucson began to flicker to life. Someone walked by my door humming Santa Claus is Coming to Town. “I’ll be okay. I just have to score my first goal here.”


“You will.”


“Yeah, I will. So, tell me about morning skate. How did the lines look?”


We talked about the Railers and about Ryker and Declan, my new therapy buddy. We talked about old movies and new songs. We talked for hours. Darkness had blanketed the city when I dozed off on him. I woke up a second later, phone still to my ear, my boyfriend chuckling.


“Wow, you snored yourself awake,” Mads said, then groaned, rising to his feet I assumed.


“Shit, yeah, I fell asleep.” A yawn rolled out of me. I flopped to my side on the bed, my sight on the desert sky over Tucson.


“I need to turn in too,” he said around a yawn.


“Yeah, you’re a couple of hours ahead of us. I’ll call you tomorrow at the same time. I love you, Mads.”


“I love you too, Ten. And your mother was right; you are a tough camper. You’ll begin to see improvement, I know you. You won’t stop until you do.”


“Thanks, Coach.”


“Wiseass.”


“I miss our goodnight kisses.” My eyes were so heavy I could barely keep them open.


“You’ll get plenty when you get home.”


“Mm, loving sounds good.”


“Yes, it does. Get some rest. Heal. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”


“Night,” I mumbled, ended the call, and then fell into an exhausted but fitful sleep. The bed was too hard, too narrow, and far too lacking in Jared Madsen’s big, broad body.

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

 

 

 

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Review Tour and Giveaway – Ryker (Owatonna U Hockey #1) by R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey

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Buy Links:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2IdxlmP

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2MT11q9

 
Length: 50,700 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Blurb
 

Ryker is hockey royalty, Jacob is a poor country boy. Can two vastly different people find common ground and become the men they want to be?


Ryker comes from a long line of championship-winning hockey players. Playing college hockey to develop his game is his only focus, and nothing will stand in the way of him working to become the best player. He has no room for relationships, people that point out his flaws, or anyone who calls him on his dreams. He certainly has no place for love, and meeting Jacob is nothing but a useful distraction on the side. After all trying to get his Owatonna Eagles teammate into bed is less work and more play. When tragedy rocks his family, his charmed life crumbles, and the only person he can turn to is the same one who claims to hate him.


Jacob Benson has only known hard work and stifling conservative values his whole life. Born and raised in the small rural community of Eden Crossing, Minnesota, he’s the only son of a hard-working but struggling dairy farming family. Jacob is using his skills in hockey to finance his way to an agricultural science degree. These four years at Owatonna U. will probably be the only time he has to enjoy life, gain acceptance about his sexuality, and live openly before his inevitable return to the farm. Running into a pretty rich boy like Ryker Madsen is putting a damper on his enjoyment of life away from home. Ryker’s flip, conceited, carefree attitude grates on Jacob’s every nerve. So why, if Ryker is everything he dislikes, does he want nothing more than to explore the sinful dreams that his annoying teammate stars in every night?



September 26Urban Smoothie Read, Book Lovers 4Ever, Xtreme Delusions, Jessie G Books, Sexy Erotic Xciting, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, OMG Reads, Two Chicks Obsessed, September 28The Blogger Girls, October 1Mirrigold, Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, Love Unchained Book Review, Mainely Stories, October 3My Fiction Nook, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, Nerdy Dirty & Flirty, October 5Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Making It Happen, Wicked Reads, MM Good Book Reviews, October 10Sarandipity Book Reviews, Padme’s Library, October 12 We Three Queens, Lillian Francis, Bayou Book Junkie

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.  We highly recommend it !

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.

She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below:

Email RJ (rj@rjscott.co.uk)

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.


When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

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Cover Reveal for One-On-One (Cayuga Cougars #5) by V.L. Locey – excerpt and giveaway

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Add to Goodreads


Cover Design: Rêverie Design & Formatting

 
Cayuga Cougars Series
 
Book #1 – Snap Shot – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Overtime – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

The past few years have been a bit chaotic for Cougars new associate coach, Lancaster Hart. After an amicable divorce he began living his life as the gay man he’d kept closeted for far too long. With the recent move to Cayuga, he’s away from his support system and properly made sweet tea. Despite a roster filled with new friends and associates, he’s spending his nights alone.


As his team gears up to make a run at the Calder Cup, Lancaster discovers that not everything in upstate New York is wine, woodlands, and chilly conservative ideals. At a summer music festival, he first lays eyes on Townsend Harris, folksy/blues singer by night and mayoral office assistant by day. Lancaster is enraptured with the man’s powerful sultry voice. Also, Town just might be the most beautiful man he has seen in all his forty-one years.


The two hit it off at an informal meet and greet after the show, where they spend the night talking and sipping wine. One evening of conversation and an incendiary goodbye kiss leads them into a scorching love affair that might be exactly what Lancaster has been searching for his whole life. Can his team pull off professionally what he’s hoping to do privately as well? Or will capturing their dream evade both the Cougars and Lancaster?

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.


When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

 

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Review Tour for Goal Line (Harrisburg Railers #6) by RJ Scott & V.L. Locey (excerpt and giveaway)

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 54,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Deep Edge – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Poke Check – Amazon UK | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Last Defense – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Fear and sadness mark Bryan’s life, can Gatlin show him that you have to trust before you can love?


Gatlin Pearce is creeping up on thirty-eight and is still single. It’s not that he wants to be alone, it’s just that he’s too damn old to be in clubs filled with glittery gay boys who can’t even tell him who the Rolling Stones are.


Better to just spend his evenings at Hard Score Ink – his tattoo and artwork shop – creating masterpieces on human flesh, listening to the Railers games, and nursing a cold beer.


His solitary life is about to end when Bryan Delaney, the new Railers backup goalie, shows up at his shop looking for new artwork for his helmet. There’s some sort of sad story in those beautiful eyes of Bryan’s, and Gatlin finds himself more than a little infatuated with the tender new goalie.


Bryan Delaney leaves home at fifteen to live with a billet family. He just wishes that he could have escaped his alcoholic father and strictly devout mother earlier. Drafted to the Arizona Raptors he finds a new family, and his first love affair even if that relationship is marked with violence.


Being traded to the Railers is a shock to the system but the team isn’t like any other he’s ever played on and they truly seem to care about him. It’s only when he meets artist Gatlin, with their shared love of music and hockey, that he realizes how hard it is to escape the past.



August 8Jessie G, OMG Reads, Gay Media Reviews, We Three Queens, Urban Smoothie Read, Xtreme Delusions, Reading In Sarah’s Corner, August 10Love My Reads, Mainely Stories, The Geekery Book Review, August 15Love Unchained Book Reviews, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, MM Good Book Reviews, August 17Making It Happen, Nerdy Dirty & Flirty, Bookaholic & Kindle, August 20Open Mind For A Different View, My Fiction Nook, Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews, August 22Drops Of Ink, Padme’s Library, Sarandipity, August 27MM Midnight Cafe, Wicked Reads, August 29Book Lovers 4Ever, August 31Mirrigold, Bayou Book Junkie, Lillian Francis

Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review can be found here.  We highly recommend it!
Excerpt


Keep your eye on Ten, he’s trouble.


That was all the text said, and I re-read it a few times as if more words would suddenly appear.


I don’t know why I looked for affection in any text that Aarni sent me because, in my kind-of-boyfriend’s own words, he wasn’t the demonstrative type. And he would always point out that someone could get hold of my phone. Then they would know that Aarni Lankinen, the villain of the Arizona Raptors, wasn’t everything he made himself out to be, that he wasn’t the playboy who fucked every woman within his reach. That he had a boyfriend on the side, and that it was me.


The phone rang, and I answered as soon as I saw his name. Aarni wasn’t the most patient guy on earth, and he liked it when I was fast to respond.


“Did you get my text?” Aarni asked without preamble.


“I did.”


“Don’t let me down now.”


I got the feeling, as he laughed, that he expected me to do that very thing. I still wasn’t sure what would count as letting him down. But given the kind of person I was—clumsy, quiet and only really focused when I was dressed for hockey—I kind of expected to fuck up.


The Arizona Raptors had chosen me in the 2014 draft, not long after my eighteenth birthday. I was the second highest ranking goaltender drafted that year, something to be proud of, I guess. But I’d not managed to stay up at NHL level, spending the rest of the time in the Raptors’ development team in Tucson. Until last year, when I’d actually been a starting goalie after both main goalies had been injured.


I hadn’t been stellar, and Arizona put me on waivers, leaving me vulnerable to being picked up by who the hell ever. My confidence had been rocked. I was a solid goalie for the development team, but the minute I got up to the primary team, NHL level, I choked. Why the hell did the Railers even want someone who hadn’t lived up to their early promise? I assumed I’d attend this training camp, and that would be it. They’d push me down to the Railers’ development team, and there I would stay.


Which wasn’t a bad thing, except they’d taken me from Arizona and from Aarni and it was the first time I’d been really on my own.


“Hello? Are you even listening to me?” Aarni snapped.


“Of course, I won’t let you down,” I lied.


I’m a good goalie, I stop pucks, I can be strong and focused and stay in my own head to track the plays in front of me.
Still, Aarni knew about me what I knew about myself; I’d choke at NHL level just as I had for the majority of my time with the Raptors.


I’m not ready. I should go back down to the minors.


“Also, don’t get comfortable there. They’re not going to keep you for long.”


“I know.”


“And don’t forget what assholes the Railers are. Don’t trust them, particularly wonder-boy Rowe. Arrogant fucker.”


I didn’t see Ten as arrogant at all, but then I was basing my assessment on TV interviews, including the one he’d given with Jared when they’d announced their relationship. I’d been proud of Ten and Jared for doing that, and part of me, the dark, hidden, ruined part, was green with envy that they were able to be open with the world.


I’d said that to Aarni, but he’d reacted badly and hadn’t talked to me for three days. His disappointment was a knife in my gut, and I hated every second of it. That was not happening again. He was right. Ten was a Stanley Cup Champion, a superstar, and if there had been NHL players at the Olympics, then he would undoubtedly have been on Team USA. No team would ask him to leave just because he had a boyfriend. It didn’t seem to be hurting the Railers, and they had a growing reputation as being LGBT-friendly.


“Jesus Christ, Bryan, are you even on this phone call?”


I pulled myself back from the edge. Aarni had said something about Ten being arrogant.


“I won’t forget,” I spoke with confidence so he’d realize I was listening.


“And remember I’m not there to watch your back.” He sighed deeply. “I worry there’s no one to look after you when you attract trouble. Especially from defenders like Max van Hellren. Asshole should have been thrown out of that game against us for what he did to me. Fucker lost us the chance at a championship. So fucking pleased he ended up collapsing. He deserved it.”


My chest tightened. Max wasn’t part of the Railers anymore. He’d retired after the cup win, but Aarni was right. There would be other guys there to step up in his place. Aarni had been furious, with a side order of mean, over what Max had done to him, checking him into the boards. But he’d finally calmed down, said he’d show Max what was what the next time the two teams met. He’d been so disappointed when Max had retired.


But Aarni was a good guy. He was the one who’d gotten involved when the bullying on the Raptors had gotten to be too much for me to handle. When the guys in the toxic locker room got on my case. I’d only played a few games at that level with the Raptors and had fucked every single one of them up. They’d hated it, but Aarni had been there for me.


He seemed to know the point when the rest of the team pushed it too far, always stepping in just before I was going to run from the room. He’d helped me so much, but he was back in Arizona, so far away.


“I’ll be okay,” I murmured, fear gripping me again about the kind of things I needed to face with this new team.


“I doubt that.” He sighed. “But you weren’t enough of all that for the Raptors to keep you, so you have no choice, and there’s nothing we can do about it, can we?”


“No.”


He must have heard the desperation in my voice. I hadn’t wanted the Raptors to give up on me, but that was hockey. One day I had woken up in Arizona as the backup to the backup, fucking things up, and the next day, the team had put me on waivers, and I was suddenly in snowy Pennsylvania.


“Good boy,” was all he said, but it was enough.


He hung up, but those two words gave me a shot of steel to my spine, and I settled my breathing before opening the car door. Security had let me right through to the player parking lot, and my Toyota sat right next to a sexy red Porsche. My salary had taken a hike, up to three million for the two-year contract I had here, so I probably needed a new car.


Even if the Railers saw through me and sent me packing, I’d still have enough money to buy a car.


“Hey,” someone called from behind me, and I immediately assumed that I was standing somewhere I shouldn’t have been. The man was in a guard’s uniform, tall, built and smiling at me benignly.


“I’m sorry. They told me to park there.”


“Of course. Bryan Delaney, right?” he asked and extended his hand for me to shake, which I did immediately after wiping the sweaty palm on my jeans.


“Yeah, Bryan,” I said when I realized I hadn’t answered his question.


“Welcome.” He thumbed at himself. “Name’s Pete. They said I needed to keep an eye out for the new guy.”


He dropped my hand, and I forced a smile onto my face, even though my stomach was churning. “Thank you.”


“This way.” He chatted on about the weather, life, hockey and something about his sister who lived in Arizona. By the time he dropped me outside an office, I knew enough about Pete to write a book. Thing is, his chatter stilled my nerves, and I wasn’t going into this room blind. I knew the name on the door, Alain Gagnon, former goalie for Vancouver, and one of the best goalie coaches in the business. I’d skyped with him once in his capacity as Goalie Coach for the Railers after they’d claimed me off waivers. He’d seen me coming to the Railers as a positive thing, a great thing. All I’d seen is my failure at NHL level hockey with the Raptors, and I remembered going back to Aarni and needing to be held.


Of course, Aarni had said he didn’t need to hug me, but he’d reassured me that, however I played, he would always have my back. I’d needed the comfort. His words of advice stayed with me even now.


I just want you to realize what you are and what your place on the team will be. Ten acts friendly, but he won’t care about you like I do. Stan? He’s had some lucky saves, and as for that fucker Van Hellren? You saw what he did to me in our last matchup. I wish you weren’t so naïve, Bryan. It’s unlikely you’ll get many starts, so don’t be disappointed when you get sent down to the minors.


I won’t be disappointed. I’d promised Aarni, and I’d made a vow to myself not to get too excited and involved.

RJ’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.


RJ is the author of the over one hundred novels and discovered romance in books at a very young age. She realized that if there wasn’t romance on the page, she could create it in her head, and is a lifelong writer.


She lives and works out of her home in the beautiful English countryside, spends her spare time reading, watching films, and enjoying time with her family.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit and has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the following links below:


Email RJ (rj@rjscott.co.uk)

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.


When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

Cover Reveal for Overtime (Cayuga Cougars #4) by V.L. Locey (giveaway)

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Add to Goodreads
 
 
Length: 68,000 words approx.
 
Cayuga Cougars Series
 
Book #1 – Snap Shot: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Coach’s Challenge: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

Sander March is one season away from the pros, or so everyone tells him.

If only Sander had as much faith in his ability as the Cougar coaching staff does. Outwardly, he’s cocksure, borderline bitter, and slightly sarcastic. All that strut and sass hides a wounded soul though. Working to hide a brutal past filled with humiliation, abuse, and a family member who still haunts him, Sander has never found the kind of comfort and understanding he so desperately needs. Until he meets Mateo Castillo, a minor league baseball player for the nearby Elmira Egrets. Mateo and Sander click instantly, and a budding friendship develops between the two athletes.

Mateo then introduces Sander to his boyfriend, Noah Coombs, an aspiring manga comic creator. The three men find themselves bonding strongly, and that slowly gives way to sexual attraction. Eventually, Mateo and Noah invite Sander into their relationship. The path to happiness isn’t going to be easy for Sander as he faces criticism from his friends, teammates, and the press for his choices. The brash young star can handle all that, it’s when his abuser shows up in Cayuga that Sander fears not only for his own safety, but for the lives of the two men he has grown to love. Will Sander’s past tear him away from Mateo and Noah, or will he be able to leave the darkness behind?

Warning – This story has disturbing subject matter.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, Dr. Who, Torchwood, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, two Jersey steers and a flock of assorted domestic fowl.

When not writing lusty tales, she can be found enjoying her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand.

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Review Tour and Giveaway : Deep Edge (Harrisburg Railers #3) by RJ Scott & VL Locey

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Length: 52,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
 
Harrisburg Railers Series
 
Book #1 – Changing Lines – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – First Season – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Blurb
 

One man’s passion, another man’s lies. Can love fix even the darkest of hearts?


Trent Hanson is a figure skating phenom adored by millions around the world. His whole life has been dedicated to the sport he loves even when the sport – and his own family – have turned against him. From the playground to the Olympics to his parent’s living room, Trent has fought against bullies and homophobes to be the out and proud gay man he is. But the constant fighting has left Trent tired, lonely, and skittish. All those fears will have to be shelved though when he’s hired to spend the summer working with the Harrisburg Railers ice hockey team. Who would have guessed that the man fate has decided to pair him off with is Dieter Lehmann, all-around sex god and a man who seems to have everything to prove and doesn’t care who he hurts to get what he wants.


Dieter has spent too many years languishing in the minors and a secret addiction to prescription painkillers means his career is in a downward spiral. His ex is blackmailing him and he’s close to walking away from it all. But when he’s called up in the run for the Stanley Cup to cover injuries he has a taste of what it’s like playing in the NHL and he realizes that a place on the Railers roster is what he wants more than anything. More than listening to his heart, and even more than caring for the infuriating figure skater who gets under his skin. When he crosses the line to get what he wants, he knows he has lost his way. He has to change, but is it too late for both his career and any chance he might have at love?

 

Read Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words Review here.  We Highly Recommend it and the entire series.




December 1 – Reading In Sarah’s Corner, Urban Smoothie Read, Nerdy Dirty & Flirty, The Smut-Brarians, Xtreme Delusions, Mirrigold: Musings & Mutterings, Nautical Star Books, Jessie G Books
December 6 – Making It Happen, We Three Queens, My Fiction Nook
December 8 – Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Sarandipity, Wicked Reads, Jim’s Reading Room, MM Good Book Reviews
December 11 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales & Reviews
December 13 – Padme’s Library, Book Lovers 4Ever, The Geekery Book Review
December 15 – Bayou Book Junkie 

RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.



mailto:rj@rjscott.co.uk
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Facebook
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V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers.


When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.


Website
Facebook
Twitter
Pinterest
Goodreads
Blog

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