New Release Blitz ~ Embracing James by Megan Slayer (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Embracing James by Megan Slayer

Book 5 in the Love Me Do series

Word Count: 41,106
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 166

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description


The right cut, the right style and a dash of love.

James Mason has everything he could ever want—his salon is the most famous in town, and he’s got his health and his best bud, his dog Doob. But he’s lonely. James has a knack for pairing everyone up, except himself. He’s been interested in Paul, the sweet man who helps at the salon, but will Paul be interested in him, too? Then there’s the elusive JP Henderson, the owner of the salon building. James has created an image in his mind that this man could be the one.

Jonathan Paul Henderson has lusted after James since the moment he met him. James acts unaffected by wealth and seems drawn to character. He’s adorable, funny and welcoming, too. He also doesn’t seem to mind that Paul wears makeup. Paul feels the connection and knows he wants this man, but will James still accept him after he finds out the truth—that Paul’s his landlord?

Two men, one truth and so much attraction they burn up the sheets. Is theirs a love for now or one meant to last?

Excerpt

“Looks like it’s you and me tonight, Doob.” James Mason petted the dog and settled on the floor with him. Dye Hard Style had closed for the evening and he’d locked the doors, but he wasn’t ready to head home—not yet. He’d rather give the dog attention and listen to the silence.

Christ, he was worn out. He spent most of his days packed with appointments for his styling services. Opening to closing, he had someone wanting his attention. He’d worked hard for his reputation for excellence in hair styling, but that didn’t help when he wanted a break.

Other than his job, he had little else to show for his work. He had no social life outside of the salon. No boyfriend and few actual friends. He didn’t even have the energy to try to pair himself with anyone, not like he did with the guys who came in wanting dates.

The one thing he did have was Doob, his black mutt with a heart of gold. From the moment Doob had shown up at the salon, he’d become James’ constant companion. He’d been more loyal than most everyone else in his life. His ex-boyfriends certainly weren’t loyal.

But he wanted a date. James supposed he could leave Doob at home and call a friend to go out, but he wasn’t in the mood for drama. He’d have plenty of drama tomorrow when he met with Jonathan Paul Henderson, the owner of the salon building and the Annex next door. He’d never actually seen Mr. Henderson. When Lester McCann had sold the building and the one next door, he hadn’t asked James his opinion—not that he’d had to—and never bothered to introduce James to the new owner.

But that was Lester. If he could get away with doing nothing, he’d do even less.

At least James didn’t have far to go in his commute home. Having his apartment in the Annex next door meant all he had to do was walk through the door joining the two buildings. Sometimes living next to the salon did have some perks.

He left the floor and checked he’d locked the front doors, then turned off the main lights. The security ones came on, bathing the space in dim yellow glow. Once satisfied, he patted his hip for Doob, then collected the cash from the register.

The dog had been a lumpy, furry godsend. Doob stuck by him when his depression hit and knew how to make him feel better. The dog was the sweetest thing, too. Whoever had been his family had been lucky to have him.

Part of James wondered why no one had ever claimed Doob. He’d put out what seemed like a thousand fliers, letting the public know he’d found the lost dog. Surely, Doob was missed. He had his name on a metal plate on his collar—wouldn’t a family or someone who cared about the dog do something like put his name on an engraved plate on the collar? If Doob had run away, then why hadn’t anyone come looking for him?

What if they hadn’t wanted Doob? The dog was a good boy and so loyal. How could someone not want him?

If they didn’t want him, James did. He checked that the rear doors to the former theater building were indeed locked and secured, then returned to the salon portion of the building.

He clicked the leash onto Doob’s collar. “It’s been almost a year. If you haven’t been claimed by now, then finders keepers. You’re officially my dog.” He’d already bought Doob’s tags and had him to the vet for his shots. Unfortunately there hadn’t been a microchip in Doob then, but there was now.

Doob circled around James’ legs, catching him up in the leash.

“You’ll trip and kill me, you know. If I’m dead, then you won’t get puppy food.” James slipped the memory card from the register into the cash bag, then zipped it shut. He tucked the bag under his arm and allowed Doob to lead him to the door out of the salon. He appreciated being able to go straight from the salon to his apartment building without having to go outside with a cash bag.

He carried the money to his third-floor apartment, then locked the bag in the safe in his bedroom. He’d worry about the numbers later. Right now, he needed to feed Doob. He unfastened the leash, then added kibble to Doob’s bowl. When the dog settled for his evening nap, that was when James would wrangle the numbers on the ledger.

Doob greedily munched on his dog food and James admired his gusto. Doob never seemed lonely. Just happy to be loved. James wanted to be loved by the dog, sure, but a boyfriend would be nice, too.

“We’ll find someone, Doob. Someone we both like and who will like us as a package deal. Think we can manage as a threesome?” Saying it like that sounded odd, but whatever. Doob was good as a companion, but James needed someone human to warm his bed.

Once Doob finished his dinner and got a drink, half of which he seemed to leave on the mat around his water bowl, James clicked the leash on him again. He and Doob left the apartment for their evening walk.

Doob seemed to love the four laps they usually took around Norville town square and James liked the exercise. Some days he and Doob ventured away from the center of town to the park by the school. Although James liked the excitement of the salon, right now, he wanted peace and quiet.

Doob walked proudly in front of him and sniffed at whatever he found. Once he and James encountered other dogs, Doob fell in line beside James, but seemed to pay no attention to the canines. James wondered if he should socialize the dog more. What if he and Doob were becoming too solitary for their own good?

James stopped to let Doob do his business. As he waited, he considered his life. He loved doing hair and making people beautiful. Helping someone find their inner glam made him happy. But he didn’t want to be single forever.

Maybe he could visit Club Jester. He’d helped enough other guys find true love there. Why not try for himself?

He cleaned up after Doob and tossed the baggie into the receptacle for dog waste, then sanitized his hands.

His thoughts turned back to clubbing. Who would he meet at Club Jester? The same old-same old most likely. Those guys were good, but they were either in a relationship or never going to settle down.

He spotted a jogger coming toward them and stepped off the path to give the athlete space. As soon as the man grew closer, James recognized him. Pauly. He’d chatted more than a few times with Pauly at the salon when the man stopped for haircuts or just to hang out. He liked Pauly, but never got the feeling Pauly wanted a boyfriend. He seemed like too much of a free spirit. He was a whiz with makeup and always managed to make himself handsomely beautiful. James wished he had the same skills with foundation and eyeshadow.

Pauly jogged up to him and stopped. He mopped his brow with his shirtsleeve and grinned. How could one man, jogging no less, look so on-point all the time? Even now, he had makeup on, without smearing it much, and a slight beard. Unreal, but gorgeous.

“Hi, you.” Pauly took a swig from a small water bottle he had wrapped around his hand. “How are you?”

“Hi, yourself. You look fantastic.” He held on to Doob’s leash. “I haven’t seen you at Dye Hard Style in forever. Have you been working out to make yourself chiseled and handsome without telling me?”

“That’s partly true. I’ve always jogged, but I’ve been out of town.” Pauly smiled. “I missed seeing you.”

“Likewise.” A tingle ran the length of his spine and James wondered if the glint in Pauly’s dark eyes was because of him. He stared at the man’s lips and wondered what he tasted like…and when did he get such kissable lips?

“Are you planning on going to the Jester tonight?” Pauly asked. “I hear it’s singles night.”

Singles night could be good, but it could also be awful. “Oh?”

“They brought in a new DJ and are having games to get the singles to mingle.” Pauly rolled his eyes. “If you want to go, want to go together? Then we don’t have to play the singles games.”

He hadn’t wanted to go, but he also hadn’t considered going with Pauly until now. “I should take Doob home and change, but I wasn’t planning on going out.”

“No big deal. I need to finish my jog and would have to shower,” Pauly said. “If you want, I can pick you up. It was my idea, so I can drive. You’re in the Annex, aren’t you?”

James blanched. He didn’t tend to tell people where he lived and only a few people referred to the building as the Annex. “Yeah, I am. I didn’t think you knew that.”

“Oh, I’d heard it.” Pauly blushed. “Sorry.”

He wanted to go out tonight and with Pauly, but something about the situation made him want to hold back. “Why don’t we exchange numbers and I’ll text you when I’m free. We can plan a date for another day.”

“I’d like that.” Pauly offered up his phone. “Do you have yours?”

He patted his thigh. Shit. He’d left his phone at home. “I don’t, but I’ll give you my number.” When Pauly handed him the device, he inputted his work number, then offered the phone back to him. “See you around at the salon?”

“Sure.” Pauly slid the phone back into his armband holder. “I’m sorry if I came off too pushy.”

“Don’t take it personally. I get kind of funny when I go out. I don’t do it often. I’m not a clubbing kind of guy.” He wasn’t any longer. He had been when he was younger, but now that he’d been around…clubbing had lost its luster.

“I get it. You’re more of a stay-home-and-chill kind of guy.” Pauly nodded. “Can’t blame me for trying.”

“Nope.” And maybe one day he’d go out with Pauly. Just not today. “See you?”

“I’ll be around the salon here and there. Maybe next week we could try going for coffee.” Pauly tapped his phone and an album cover filled the screen. “See you.”

James waved and headed with Doob back to his apartment. Maybe he should’ve gone with his instincts and gone out. He’d just inwardly complained he spent too much time alone and the chance to be with someone arose, but he’d chickened out. Or maybe he needed to know Pauly a bit better.

Oh well.

Once in the apartment building, he checked that his car was still safe in the warehouse space, then went upstairs.

He herded Doob to their apartment and unleashed him. “I spent too much time with just you, but you’ve never cheated on me.”

Doob sneezed, then trotted off to his dog bed.

“You can ignore me like a champ, though.” Silly dog.

James removed his makeup and showered, then dressed in a pair of sleep shorts. He made himself a snack of yogurt and granola before turning on the radio. Almost everyone he knew listened to playlists. They curated the hell out of those lists, making the selections of music perfect.

Not him. He loved dance radio and the oldies channel. Why not let the spontaneity of the channel come through? He liked not knowing what would be playing next.

He sat on the window seat and watched the evening traffic below while eating and listening to music.

Tomorrow, he’d meet with JP Henderson finally. He’d explain why Doob needed to stay and probably accept his fate when reminded of the no dogs rule. The rule wasn’t subject to change, the landlord would probably say.

James didn’t like the idea of starting a new salon at another location, but he loved Doob. If he had to leave the old theater, then he’d do it for his dog. He loved the publicity Doob brought, too. People recognized the dog, the salon and his unique style.

Maybe the infamous JP Henderson would be willing to work with him. He had to give it a shot if he wanted to keep Doob.

He’d never met JP Henderson and finally learned his last name three weeks ago. Would the man be amiable? Curt? All business or friendly? Would he be an older gentleman or a sexy younger one? Maybe a sexy silver fox. What if he wasn’t gay, though? What if he was? What if he wasn’t interested in James? James’ imagination kicked into overdrive. What if JP Henderson secretly wanted to have a wild, torrid affair with him and was looking for the right moment to make a move?

Nah.

Romances like that didn’t happen in Norville and they didn’t happen to him. He was a simple guy with simple tastes. Men of mystery didn’t fall for him.

He held on to his yogurt cup and let the Donna Summer song wash over him. Tonight, he had no cares. No worries, either.

Tomorrow was another matter, but first he’d enjoy tonight.

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About the Author

Megan Slayer

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.

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New Release Blitz: Unstraight by John Thurlow (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Unstraight

Author: John Thurlow

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/13/2022

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 114800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, children, cleric/priest, coming of age, coming out, college, established couple, friends to lovers, humorous, hurt/ comfort, in the closet, over 40, psychic/medium, religion, religious extremism, reunited, soulmates, tearjerker, therapist, slow burn

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Description

David Sterling lives the suburban life. He has been married to Carrie for fourteen years and they have two daughters. To the onlooker, life behind the Sterling’s picket fence looks perfect, and in many ways it is—save for the fact that David carries a burdensome secret…one that he has guarded well since he was a teenager.

David’s life is unravelling and he cannot carry the burden any longer. To make peace with himself and his world, it is time to tell the truth, a gamble that may lose him all that is precious. But he needs to be released from the shame, the guilt, and the fear.

In the pain and hurt of the aftermath, this deeply personal journey is driven by David’s desire to hold on to those he loves, while at the same time revealing who he really is to them and the world.

Excerpt

Unstraight
John Thurlow © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Dropping the Bomb

23 June 2013

My heart was beating in my throat. I was terrified and while time seemed to stand still, the digital clock on the opposite end of the room carried on counting the minutes. I planned to drop the bomb at around eight o’clock. It was now heading for nine and the evening was running away. Oblivious to my fear, Carrie was engrossed in the movie—unaware of how her world was about to change.

As the clock jumped from fifty-four to fifty-five, I knew I needed to seize the moment. I sat up straight—too quickly almost. Adrenaline pumping in my veins, everything seemed to go into slow motion.

“Carrie,” I sputtered—my voice quivering, “please turn down the TV, I need to talk to you.” I turned myself around and sat at the foot of the bed facing her. I looked into her startled eyes and I felt the tears welling up in my own.

“What is going on?” she asked. I took a deep breath and I began to babble.

“You know things haven’t been great between us lately?” I asked and stated at the same time. “I think you might suspect that I’ve been having an affair,” I continued, “… I’m not… I would never.” The colour ran away from Carrie’s face and her eyes were frozen. “I feel so bad, seeing that you don’t look happy,” I explained. “I know you’re hurting… and more than anything in the world, I don’t want to cause you any more pain. I’ve tried hard to fight this, but it won’t go away.” My babbling came to an abrupt halt and I took a deep breath. I knew I had rambled on for too long and what I had wanted to say hadn’t come out as I had planned. Carrie looked stunned; she didn’t say a word.

I took another deep breath—I needed to get the words out, they were strangling me from the inside. Then, somehow, they escaped hurriedly and with some trembling.

“Things are not as they should be because I’m gay.” The air in the room felt heavy and dry. I had just dropped a secret… my secret! One which I had harboured in my head for at least 30 of my 44 years. A secret I had carried, protected and nurtured—and a secret I was ashamed of.

I said the words with both a feeling of liberation and a huge sense of fear. I felt unshackled because the secret was out of the dark and it had no more power over me, but I was also afraid because it was uncaged and I was no longer its keeper. Equally, I was terrified at how Carrie would respond to the unexpected revelations. I had no idea of what awaited me on the journey that I had just begun.

A few moments of silence followed and staring directly at the confusion and pain on Carrie’s face bore no comfort.

“How long have you known this?” she asked. Anger and bewilderment were evident in her eyes. I hadn’t anticipated the question, but I knew I needed to speak the truth.

“Probably since I was teenager,” I spluttered, clenching my hands tightly together.

“Then why the fuck did you get married?” she barked. The f-word and a raised voice always meant I had crossed the line with Carrie. She didn’t use it often, but I guess I had crossed the ultimate ‘line’—there was no going back now. I also needed to be cognisant of the fact that this was an issue I had been processing and mincing in my head for the better part of my entire life. In a few moments, I had thrown it all at her… she needed time to unpack it.

I looked over my shoulder to make sure that the girls hadn’t stirred and made their way to our bedroom door. Why had I gotten married?

“I married you because I love you, Carrie.” My trembling words were calm and sincere. I hadn’t planned to launch into this detailed explanation, but it seemed appropriate and I had spent many of the fourteen years we had been married trying to make sense of the journey in my head. “When we got married, I believed I had overcome this sexuality issue,” I took a deep breath, feeling clumsy, “I honestly did.” She seemed disorientated and who could blame her. “I loved you and thought—and hoped—that those urges would be gone forever.”

“What urges?” she scowled.

I didn’t answer the question and continued.

“At the beginning, I thought they were gone, and I have fought them really hard for many years.” Carrie didn’t seem convinced by this answer and a few minutes of silence followed. The torturous still felt like a lifetime. Carrie’s anger broke the quiet:

“Why did you choose me to do this to?” she scorned. A relevant question, but there was so much else I needed to say. It was difficult not being in control as my secret took flight, but I knew I needed to let her lead the process. I had already given up the control.

“I didn’t choose you to do this to,” I replied. “This was not planned, nor premeditated—I love you and I love everything that we have created and established. I know that you don’t feel loved and cherished because it doesn’t come naturally to me. I can see that you hurt every day.” Carrie’s eyes were distant in the aftermath of the shock.

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Meet the Author

Born in Zimbabwe and raised in Zambia and then South Africa. John now lives in Henley-on-Thames in the United Kingdom.

John started out his career first as a primary and then as a secondary school teacher. After twelve years of teaching, he moved into the education development sector where he continues to manage a variety of education programmes that support teaching and learning in underprivileged communities. He holds a PhD in Education.

John loves chocolate and travelling… sometimes he likes running and walking. He always likes telling stories, with the characters based on his own personal experiences and interactions. Human relationships are super important to him and his family is the centre of his universe.

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New Release Blitz: The Oracle’s Golem by Mell Eight (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Oracle’s Golem

Series: Oracle, Book Three

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/13/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19700

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, explicit, anthropomorphic, mythical creatures/dragons, magic users, hurt-comfort, tattoos, men with children

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Description

Abused and used like scrap, Golem has never known anything but pain. He exists to serve the Oracle’s whims and needs. After escaping the Monastery, he hid himself away where no one would be able to use him again. Then one day a child falls asleep in his lap…

Marl is nothing special. He’s low in the Earth Caste, set to watch over the Caste’s problem child, Lichen. In search of the errant Lichen one day, he unexpectedly comes across Golem hiding deep in the mountains. Unlike his usual behavior, he desires to see Golem again.

Then Marl learns why Golem is hiding, and he realizes he must make a choice: the Oracle or Golem.

Excerpt

The Oracle’s Golem
Mell Eight © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
The boy standing eagerly in front of the Oracle was still young—too young for the power she could see in him and the future he would endure. She ought to wait another year or two to hold his testing. It would be kinder for him.

One such future coincided with waiting just a little longer to test the young man in front of her. She had seen great things in his future if she did. He would emerge from the testing chamber as the Dragon of Earth and would protect cities, save lives, and accomplish great deeds. Her Dragon of Earth would live up to his title with utmost strength and morality. Yet, while he was off doing those great deeds on the other side of the world, the world itself would come to an end. The ability to prevent that from occurring was possible in her time; therefore, it was her duty to do everything she could to prevent it.

Two nearly identical men sat on their thrones: the king and regent of Altnoia. Next to them sat a man she did not recognize. The third man was of the Fire Caste—that much the Oracle knew—but she also knew it would be her successor’s task to send him there. Underneath the three chairs, hidden from view, was a green shadow. It boiled with hate and resentment, deadly in intent and caustic as it began to sicken everyone in its vicinity. Eventually, the green shadow would rise again, beaten but not broken by the battle that had won King Edan and Regent Egan their throne.

This time, in this particular version of future events, the shadow would win. While the Dragon of Earth was doing great deeds on the other side of the world, the very world he was trying to protect would die.

There were other futures possible as well. There always were. In a second version of the story, a child, her child, approached the green shadow and vanquished it with love. This future had a happy outcome, but an unhappy beginning. She would die, her Hatchling would suffer, and the Dragon of Earth would wither in pain. He would do no great deeds across the world, but in turn, the world would not end. All that was required was for the eighteen-year-old, too-young man standing in front of her to test as soon as possible. Once he was the Dragon of Earth, she would use him to create her child. The combination of his power with hers would breed a hatchling strong enough to save the world.

In the end, she had no choice. It was both her duty and the duty of every Dragon to do what they could to keep the world turning.

“You will test first,” she said finally, aware that a lengthy space of time had passed since she had first placed her hand upon the young man’s forehead. “Come to the testing chamber in an hour.”

He was so happy, her Dragon of Earth. His hair had turned the deep brown of freshly picked nuts, his eyes the vibrant green of growing plants nourished within the earth. Emblazoned in full glory on his body was the Dragon of Earth tattoo. Wingless, yet still as elegant as any dragon. The head rested on his chest, long rootlike whiskers circling his pectorals while the strong, scaled neck covered his entire left shoulder. The body of the dragon, with its four short legs ending in sharp claws, was so large that barely any clear skin remained on his back. The tail trailed down one leg, ending in a spade shape at the very tip. The dragon itself was beautifully shaded from the brown of the deepest earth to the green of the highest tree.

The Dragon of Earth had his entire future in front of him, or so he thought. The celebration party held in his honor went well into the night, and the Oracle watched as the young man drank and enjoyed. When no one was watching or was sober enough to care, she approached her Dragon of Earth. His eyes were vacant, the spirits in his stomach taking his brain elsewhere. It was easy to seduce him, even easier to draw him away from the party to an unused room where she could use him to conceive her child.

Nine months later, the Dragon of Earth watched as the child he’d helped create destroyed her body. He was also present five years later when her body finally failed and a new Oracle was born. She had seen the despair in his eyes and the belief that his incompetence and callous actions had caused her demise. So she had shown him the truth, hoping to console him just the slightest. Instead, she saw his pain grow at the knowledge that she had purposefully deceived him for her own ends. The Dragon of Earth had been slowly withdrawing from the Monastery during the last five years of her life. On the day of her death, he, too, may as well have died.

The Dragon of Earth vanished into the mountain. He became the very rock of his element, abandoning his humanity as much as he was able. There would be no great deeds for her Dragon of Earth, but one day she hoped he could forgive her.

The Oracle had tested dozens of children. There was absolutely no reason she should hesitate over this one. He was bright-eyed and eager, no doubt imagining the great things he would do once he became a high-level Caste member. Like all of the children destined to be ordinary, this child would suffer disappointment. He wasn’t going to test high at all; in fact, he was going to test so low into the Earth Caste he would become an afterthought.

There would be no great deeds for this Child of Earth. No abilities would set him apart and make him notable despite his low status. Should she have him test now or in five years, nothing would change.

Yet, the Oracle still hesitated.

She was experienced enough to know that in her craft, there were visions and there were murmurs, but each one could portend equally important events. This time, there was a murmur in her mind, something that told her this child might be more than just a lost Earth Caste one day. Decision made, she removed her hand from the child’s forehead and spoke.

“You will test second. In three days, come to my chambers.”

Her newly crowned Dragon of Fire would be off celebrating by then, unknowing of where his future would lead him. This unremarkable child would enter the testing chambers and emerge as nothing. But he could be something, someday. Perhaps. The murmur had quieted with her declaration, but one day it would return, and this unremarkable child would answer its call.

He emerged from the testing chambers already knowing his fate—the Oracle saw it on his face. The child turned, and on his back lay a tattoo of a serene field. Empty of all, save unplowed dirt, it looked bland. The others in the room, scoffing behind their hands, agreed that the child had tested poorly. Not even the smallest blade of grass grew on the plain tattoo—only brown dirt covered the entirety of his back—from buttocks to neck.

The Oracle stood and reached upward with her small hands until she touched the middle of Marl’s back.

“There is a seed here,” she whispered for his ears only. “It may grow, or it may not. That is entirely up to you.”

Marl turned and bowed to her. His face hid his pain well, but she could see it in his heart.

“I will endeavor to be the very best Earth Caste I can be,” he replied in a firm voice.

“Then go, Marl of the Earth,” she answered strongly. “I expect to see great things from you.”

Marl left, followed by his new peers in the Earth Caste who would see him start his advanced training. He was of little power or importance, so they would leave him be soon enough. The Oracle knew that one day Marl would walk back into her chambers and surprise them all. She just couldn’t yet see what that surprise might be.

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Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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Book Blitz: The Outcasts (Duet) by Marteeka Karland (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Outcasts (Duet)

Author: Marteeka Karland

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: September 9

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Female/Male (No Male/Male interaction), Male/Male/Female (Male/Male interaction)

Length: 247 pages

Genre: Romance, Science Fiction, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Futuristic, Bisexual, Multisexual & Pansexual, Multiple Partners

Synopsis

In a dark futuristic Earth, the Triad must take a mate. But their pet has other ideas…

Mating the Triad (The Outcasts 1): Exiled to the Outlands, Mia’s sheer viciousness in defending herself catches the notice of one of the most powerful triads in the Outlands. Not one to simply be taken care of, Mia refuses to be treated as anything other than an equal — even in times of battle. How can she prove to three powerful warriors she’s not only the one for them, but an asset in every aspect of their lives?

The Triad’s Pet (The Outcasts 2): The only reason Arryn’s allowed to continue to live in the village is because of her exceptional talents in both healing and engineering. When danger is deliberately brought into their midst, it’s up to Arryn to direct her men. But how can a pet convince three stubborn warriors to trust in her unique abilities?

Publisher’s Note: The Outcasts Duet contains the previously published novels Mating the Triad and The Triad’s Pet.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Marteeka Karland
Excerpt from Mating the Triad

“Mia Cook. For the crime of theft from a noble house, your punishment is banishment to the Outlands.” The pious judge looked down at me from his throne. With a sneer, I spat in his general direction, expecting to get backhanded by one of several guards surrounding the dais. When nothing happened, I did it again for good measure. The judges always looked at us lowborns with contempt and superiority. I wanted to do some <em>real</em> lawbreaking. Like ripping off the guy’s nuts. With my teeth.

I didn’t resist when two guards dragged me to the center of the great room where court was held daily. Once an accused had been judged guilty, he or she stood in the ceremonial circle for all to see. Maybe it was me, but it seemed like they were just looking for reasons to banish any lowborns in the city. My crime? I’d stolen a bowl of bread. Granted, it wasn’t just any bowl of bread — it was spoonbread. A Kentucky Outback delight. At least it had been back in the day. Earth hadn’t always been so medieval. There had been a time when whole festivals were dedicated to Kentucky spoonbread. Now, a dish like that was a delicacy, available only to the wealthy. Nobles. It was also my very favorite thing in the whole goddamned city.

Spoonbread is a “wet” bread dish made of cornmeal. You bake it, serve it with real butter, and eat it with a spoon. Like a pudding or custard, only not hardly as moist. In my opinion, the punishment was worth getting to eat the entire bowl — which I had, fighting for the last spoonful after I’d been caught. Especially since it had been a couple of days since I’d had anything to eat. I knew when I stole it what my punishment would be if I were caught. But, honestly, you should try this shit. It’s worth the ordeal.

Which means the damned guards got to parade me through the whole of the middle- and low-born sections. Naked. After my little “spat” with the judge, I doubted I could conjure enough sympathy to get one of them to cover me with a cape until we got to the gate.

“You will be sent forth into the wildness beyond the walls of our hallowed city. Such is the way of all heathens. May the Heavenly Father in all his wisdom give you what you deserve in the Outland where He punishes all heathens.”

As the bastard spoke, the guards stripped the clothing from my body. When my outfit proved too difficult to remove easily, they simply cut the material, throwing everything into a great fire pit next to the circle. There was no way I could simply snag something on the way out to cover myself.

Just to be contrary, I stood proud, refusing to cover myself with my arms. Lifting my chin, I looked into the eyes of the man who’d passed judgment on me. He was old. Like <em>really</em> old. Thin hanks of long gray hair hung all over his head. His look was kind of comical since he was balding in places. If he’d been intelligent, he’d have cut it neatly, or simply shaved the shit off. What hair he had did little to cover the age-spotted skin. I knew my fucking with him was working when a most unbecoming blush splotched his already splotchy skin. Am I a bitch for loving the fact that he was old, ugly, and probably couldn’t get it up long enough to enjoy a woman? Probably a good thing. He was the kind of man to take advantage of his position.

As if he’d heard my thoughts, the judge leaned forward in his chair behind his desk. “The little bitch still has no respect for her betters. Why not show the little thief what she’s in for? Show her what happens to thieves who don’t learn their place.” An evil smile should have graced his less-than-perfect features, but, of course, the little bastard kept his pious expression firmly intact. How he managed that when he’d just ordered his guards to rape me was beyond my understanding.

“I will kill you,” I bit out.

He sat back, a small smile on his face. “I imagine you will. At least, in your dreams, between bouts of torture.”

One of the guards sneered, looking as if he’d been hoping for this development. A second guard muscled his way around the first one, growling a little. He was the clear Alpha there. No one challenged him as he took his place next to me, gripping my upper arm tightly. Obviously, he intended to be the one to carry out my extra punishment.

Fucker.

He was thickly muscled and stood over a head taller than me. His battle-scarred face seemed to match his body, if his heavily muscled arms were any indications. Scars crisscrossed his skin as if he had taken many blows. By not covering them as most men did, he signaled he was proud of his badges of honor. None in the guard challenged him. At present anyway.

As the guy pulled me closer to him, he whispered, “I’ll make this pleasurable for you if you’ll not fight. If you do, one of the others will challenge me. If they manage to take you, they won’t even try to be gentle, let alone give you pleasure.”

“So it’s either fight and get hurt or submit and not get hurt. Either way, I’m fucked. Literally.”

He fisted my hair, tilting my head back so I had to look up at him, then whispered for my ears alone even as he bared his teeth menacingly. His actions and expressions seemed more for the surrounding crowd — and the judge — than anything else. Despite the rough handling, he didn’t really hurt me. “You’re strong. You fought well when they took you. If I hadn’t been there, you might even have escaped.”

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Meet the Author

Erotic romance author by night, emergency room tech/clerk by day, Marteeka Karland works really hard to drive everyone in her life completely and totally nuts. She has been creating stories from her warped imagination since she was in the third grade. Her love of writing blossomed throughout her teenage years until it developed into the totally unorthodox and irreverent style her English teachers tried so hard to rid her of.

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New Release Blitz ~ Three’s Company by Kristian Parker (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Three’s Company by Kristian Parker

Word Count: 53,296
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 230

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
MULTICULTURAL

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Book Description

 

They’re the perfect throuple…if only the rest of the world agreed.

Will Johnstone’s father is desperately ill, and he races home from London to the Yorkshire village of Napthwaite to be with him. Almost immediately he meets cute postman, Hardeep and mysterious newcomer, Andrew. There weren’t handsome men like this in Napthwaite when he lived here…

Heat flares between the three very different men, passion they have no intention of resisting, or denying. But having their roots deep and their lives entwined in a small village is not like living in a bustling metropolis. And with domineering mothers, problem teenagers, sick fathers and someone’s past knocking at the door, the path of true love is anything but smooth.

Can Will, Hardeep and Andrew, three very different people, steer their relationship past the rocks and find a way into uncharted territory…together?

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of racism, on-page violence, and depictions of an abusive relationship.

Excerpt

Steam swirled in the air as Will Johnstone took the lid off the bone marrow broth that had sold like proverbial hotcakes since he’d insisted it went on the menu.

“Smells delicious,” Stacey, the new waitress, said with a wink.

Will smiled weakly. She had been flirting with him ever since she’d started. He would have to get one of the waiters to fill the poor girl in. She didn’t stand a chance.

To the untrained eye, the kitchen seemed to be in total pandemonium, but Will understood every move of this dance. He should. He’d been sous chef at Haven in Shoreditch for three years.

Serving under renowned chef, Anton Romano, he’d learnt all the foibles that his cantankerous boss preferred. As usual, Anton patrolled the pass where the plated meals waited to be served. If they stayed there longer than three minutes, he would scream at the restaurant staff until he went hoarse.

The month of August meant the traditional lull while valued customers enjoyed time on the beach in some far-flung place. Haven had that reassuringly expensive air that meant the clientele was more London’s high society rather than tourists. Will had decided to use this time to test out new dishes before the inevitable surge in September that built steadily to Christmas.

“Are you going to let all the air get to that fucking broth?” Anton shouted across the room. Will realised Anton meant him and dropped the lid with a clatter.

He didn’t even bother replying. Anton would be on to something else by now. That appeared to be the mousy new waitress whom he seemed determined to drive out of the door in less than two days. Will couldn’t remember if that would be a personal best for Anton or not.

These days, he didn’t even bother getting to know the wait staff unless Gustav, the maître d’, tipped him off that they’d lasted the first month. They would tend to stay on then.

Will hated kitchens in August. The heat outside made it unbearable. He’d often tried to persuade Anton to reduce the number of hot dishes they served but Anton wouldn’t have any of it. He didn’t seem to feel the heat or the cold.

The intensity of the kitchen had started to lessen, the orders coming in slower. Anton stalked past him towards his office.

“Anton, could I have a—?” Will started.

“You may not,” came the reply.

The staff regarded Will with amusement. They loved it when Anton treated him like shit. Anton liked to play a divide-and-rule game in his kitchen. He ruled with a culture where he positively encouraged climbing on top of colleagues, and at least three people were eyeing Will’s position.

The smell of the duck main being prepped at the next station filled Will’s nostrils. Anton might be a bastard, but he was an absolute genius too.

It had gone eleven and there would be no more orders. His body ached, but he had that adrenalin rush he loved after a mad shift. It would be hours before he could even think about sleep. As the staff scrubbed everything in sight, he made his way through to the office.

Anton sat with his feet up on the desk, engrossed in a recipe book that could have dated to Noah’s time on the ark.

“That looks interesting,” Will said. Ever the optimist, he could almost imagine one day the ice thawing, and Anton bothering about their working relationship.

Anton snapped the book shut with a bang and put it in his drawer. He scowled at Will, daring him to speak. Tonight clearly would not be that night.

As a concession to his seniority, Will had the honour of being able to hang his coat and bag up in Anton’s office rather than the changing area. Instead of engaging with a riled Anton, he chose retreat.

He could visualise the cold bottle of Sancerre in the fridge at home if bloody Angela hadn’t stolen it.

“This came for you,” Anton said.

Putting his jacket on, Will turned around to see Anton holding up a letter. Will frowned. Who sends letters these days?

“It’s from head office,” Anton continued. His expression suggested he was passing something toxic to Will.

Head office was Anton’s kryptonite. People only mentioned it if they absolutely had to. Anton had this fantasy that Haven was his own personal restaurant. He didn’t want to accept that they were really being bankrolled by a Chinese investment firm. Most of the communications with head office were done by Will. It was nice to know he came in useful for the boring stuff.

“Weird they didn’t just email,” Will replied.

Anton stood and wandered to the drinks cupboard they had in the office, that Will had been warned on pain of death to never touch.

“Fancy a whisky before you go?” Anton said, trying to come across as friendly which really did not suit him.

Will could have been knocked down with a feather. “Erm…fine. Just a small one.”

He poured a generous slug of Will’s favourite, Hibiki. His mouth started to come alive in anticipation.

Anton raised his glass. “To Haven.”

“Haven,” Will replied.

He took a sip. His tastebuds exploded with all the different flavours of honey, orange, sandal and oak. They fought and danced together as he took a second to enjoy it.

“Good stuff,” Anton said, smacking his lips.

“Amazing. My absolute favourite.”

“A man of taste,” Anton said, walking to his chair and sitting. He gestured to the chair in front of the desk.

Will lowered himself and waited. This Hibiki had more strings attached to it than a double bass.

“It seems one of the little shitcans out there has made a complaint,” Anton said.

Everything slotted into place now. Anton didn’t want to lose face in the kitchen but didn’t mind trying to curry favour behind closed doors. What a wily bastard.

Anton pushed the bottle to his side of the desk. Will sank in his seat with a feeling of gloom coming over him. This was going to be a long session.

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About the Author

Kristian Parker

I have written for as long as I could write. In fact, before, when I would dictate to my auntie. I love to read, and I love to create worlds and characters.

I live in the English countryside. When I’m not writing, I like to get out there and think through the next scenario I’m going to throw my characters into.

Inspiration can be found anywhere, on a train, in a restaurant or in an office. I am always in search of the next character to find love in one of my stories. In a world of apps and online dating, it is important to remember love can be found when you least expect it.

Follow Kristian on Facebook.

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New Release Blitz ~ Love’s Anchor by Mimi B. Rose (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Love’s Anchor by Mimi B. Rose

Word Count: 11,284
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 54

GENRES:

 BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

She’s caught between two clans. One says she’s their property—the other that she’s the Fated Mate of the Alpha’s son.

After hiding from shifters all her life, Mirabelle Beauchamp finds herself caught in a deadly rivalry between two clans. When sexy Alpha’s son Maxime Ducharme helps her fend off a shifter attack, she’s thrown into the world her mother had shielded her from. Maxime’s rivals return, claiming Mirabelle is one of them, but she knows she belongs to Maxime and Maxime belongs to her.

They’ll both have to fight for what they want. For the freedom to choose—and to love.

Publisher’s Note: This book is the prequel to Heart’s Ease, part of the Laurentian Mountain Clan series.

Excerpt

Laurentian Mountains, Québec, 1988

Mirabelle Beauchamp knelt by her husband’s gravestone in the small cemetery. The wind whisked the crisp autumn leaves in small eddies around her. She looked up, listening, and tensed for flight. Did I just hear a howl in the woods?

It didn’t sound like the local shifter clan. Probably a pack passing through the mountains on the way to their winter residence. Nothing to worry about.

She looked back at the gravestone and traced Jacques’ name on the marker.

“Three years,” she whispered. “Why did it end this way?” She wiped the tears from her cheeks and pulled her long coat around her middle.

Her friends in Montreal didn’t understand. They thought she should have buried her husband in the city. But her best memories of her husband came from this village in northern Québec. Their walks through the little streets, the dances at the parish hall. The times before things got bad.

She rested her head on Jacques’ gravestone, her shoulder-length brown bob falling over her face, shutting her off from the world.

“I’m trying to move on, but I can’t,” she whispered. “Damn you!” There was still a giant hole in her chest where her heart used to be. She wondered how it wasn’t visible from the outside.

The little town was her refuge these days. The villagers made it a point to check in on her. Pushing herself to become involved in the community eased the grief and anger a little.

“I’ve been trying to keep busy, but it’s not working. I’m spinning around with nothing to hang onto.”

A rustling noise came from behind her. Was it Madame LaFitte or Monsieur Blais? They often visited their loved ones in the little cemetery.

Mirabelle looked around. Nothing but the old-fashioned iron fence and worn-down gravestones. A crumbling grey statue of an angel surveyed the scene in the middle of the graveyard.

It must be a squirrel or a hare.

She roused herself and stood.

“Time to get back to the real world, J.” After giving one last pat to her husband’s gravestone, she walked through the path to the entrance.

At the cemetery gate, she heard a noise to her right. A tall man in a dark grey overcoat rushed towards her, looking behind him. He was nearly on top of her when he turned his head. Piercing grey eyes met her gaze.

He raised his hands. She reached out to stop him from crashing into her, but it was too late. Their fingers met—

…She fell down a hole. Or into a dream.

Mirabelle landed in the dark. Grass and earth below. Stars and trees above. In a clearing—people sang and danced in the firelight. Smoke and pine wafted to her nose.

A large, muscular arm reached down, grasped her hand and pulled her up from the ground. Two hands reached around her and held her close to a sculpted body.

She stared up into the dark eyes of a man she’d never seen before. But those eyes were familiar. Tall, broad shoulders, dark grey overcoat. No, not coat—furs. Long, dark hair was pulled into rough braids that begged to be stroked. Grey eyes, high cheekbones, kissable lips—he almost glowed in the bonfire light. He was hers. Wasn’t he?

She looked down and touched her linen smock, noting a dark wool shawl draped over her shoulders. Slippers hugged her feet, connecting her to the earth.

He pulled her into the circle, the other couples whirling around them. They stood still for a moment. Warmth and strength emanated from him, enveloping her. He leaned in to place his lips by her neck, his nose tickling her ear. She breathed him in—pine forests and earth, fur and leather and smoke.

The gorgeous man stepped back and grinned. He whirled her around, faster and faster.

They laughed together. She was dizzy and smiling and falling…

—At the cemetery entrance, Mirabelle came to, the ground cold beneath her. A tall handsome man held her head and shoulders. Backlit by the sun, his short dark hair set off a rugged face, high cheekbones and smooth olive skin. Hard, sinewy muscles flexed under his soft, tailored overcoat. Grey eyes held her gaze. She caught a hint of smoke and furs.

She was groggy. And lying down. And staring. And she wanted to stay lying down with this man above her or under her or anywhere he wanted to be.

“How—what happened?” she asked, reaching out towards his cheek.

“I bowled you over. I’m sorry,” he said in a deep baritone, the sound rumbling through his chest. His eyes pinned her with his intense gaze. She resisted the urge to slip her arms around his shoulders.

“Are you all right?” he asked, licking his lips.

“I don’t know.” She put her hands on either side of her on the ground. “I was walking along and—”

“I didn’t see you until it was too late. I thought I had a hold of you, but then you fell down.” He tried to help her sit up.

“Who—who are you?” She looked into his grey eyes and heard the echo of fiddles and laughing.

They both froze, half awake, caught in a spell, searching for something that was already slipping away.

When a wolf howled in the distance, the spell was broken. They both turned towards the treeline, which was several metres away.

This man—this promise of firelight and forest and passion—frowned and shook his head, peering into the woods. His powerful hands squeezed her shoulders for a moment, and he let out a low growl.

She tensed. “Are you—?” she asked.

Shifter? Wolf?

He turned back to her, his eyes now glowing yellow. Her own wolf answered back, a low rumble from deep inside her. Yes.

The vibrations met and coursed through them both in waves. When he pushed her back on the ground, she reached up and pulled his face towards hers. She had never felt this magnetic pull for someone—not even Jacques. When she sought his mouth with hers, heat rippled through her body.

Just as she melted into him, a crash sounded behind them. Six wolves loped out of the woods, howling and chuffing as they approached the couple on the ground.

The man sat back and shifted into a giant charcoal wolf. As Mirabelle transformed into her white wolf form, the pack circled around the two of them.

The biggest of the attackers advanced, snarling at the charcoal wolf. The grey wolf snapped at the mud-coloured fur, then pounced on the brown wolf.

Mirabelle was distracted by two smaller wolves barking at her. She approached them, teeth bared and growling. Lunging forward, she snapped at the flanks of one, while she tried to push the other with her back legs. They rolled over her as she bit and clawed, anger rising within her.

Her mother had kept her away from other shifters, but she had prepared Mirabelle to defend herself if needed. Mirabelle was not going to let these pups win. She bit an ear and scrambled until they whined and withdrew, panting.

The grey wolf howled. His opponent was down, blood dripping from its hind legs. A couple of wolves answered his call, but they sounded far away. Were they on the other side of the small town?

The brown wolves snarled and renewed their attack.

She felt a sharp pain on her side. She kept fighting, but there were too many of them.

The grey wolf appeared in front of her as another brown one advanced. He pushed the newcomer down and tore out his throat. It was vicious, but she felt only satisfaction seeing the blood gushing on the ground.

Two grey wolves ran into the clearing to join the fight. Circling, they snapped at the attackers. When one brown wolf ran off, the greys pounced on the remaining wolves. They joined in the fight until their foes were wounded and had limped off into the woods.

Mirabelle’s heart was pounding. She had avoided shifters all her life. Why did they find her here? Now? Am I in danger?

She remembered her mother’s stories of loups-garous—the French-Canadian werewolves. The European settlers in New France had spun fearful tales of outcasts turning to the devil and being punished by God. Shifters were sinners who needed punishment. Like Eve and the curse of childbirth. She knew it wasn’t true, but sometimes she felt she was being treated unfairly by the universe for something she didn’t choose.

She was woozy. Blood gushed from a slash on her flank. Shifting would heal the serious injuries. She sat down and concentrated, her bones and sinews transforming into human positions. It didn’t hurt, exactly, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

Back in her human form, Mirabelle knelt on the cold ground. Where had she left her clothes? The man who had fought with her against the other wolves appeared with his grey overcoat, gently wrapping it around her. She snuggled into it and started to shiver uncontrollably.

“Who are you?” she asked.

“Maxime,” he said.

Your mate.

She could have sworn she heard him say it, but his lips hadn’t moved.

“Let’s have someone look at your wounds,” he said.

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About the Author

Mimi B. Rose

Mimi B. Rose writes fantastic tales filled with steamy enchantment and tender-hearted fulfilment to thrill strong women. As a teen she read V.C. Andews’s Flowers in the Attic and Anne Rice’s The Vampire Lestat and she was hooked on fantasy romance and paranormal romance. Some of her favourite tv shows are Sleepy Hollow, Grimm, and Once–and the reboot of Beauty and the Beast starring Kirstin Kreuk (does anyone remember that series?).

She loves all kinds of shifters and vampires. Her all-time favourite authors are Faith Hunter, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, and more recently Richelle Mead.

Mimi likes a sassy heroine who is independent but finds a strong hero who can keep up with her and treasure her for their uniqueness–including her flaws!

Check out Mimi’s website.

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New Release Blitz ~ From Bad to Worse by Gin Vane (Excerpt & Giveaway)

From Bad to Worse by Gin Vane

Book 1 in the Southern Awakenings series

General Release Date: 6th September 2022

Word Count: 100,651
Book Length: SUPER PLUS NOVEL
Pages: 384

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BISEXUAL
COWBOYS AND WESTERN
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description


Both detectives know that there’s different kinds of dangerous—the obvious threat you clock on approach, and the one you never see comin’…

Colt Harkan’s not much of a laughing man, or he might better appreciate the biggest joke of his life. Fresh from his time undercover, his first day at Mason PD finds him partnered with Everett Kane—a man determined to stumble through life and still come up the golden boy.

Makes it all look so easy, talking to people with his sun-bright smile. Everett just…cares. It’s like the man can’t help it.

But even in Mason, Colt sees darkness at the fringes, and catching that State Rodeo case starts two unexpected obsessions—proving Patrick Combs’ death was a murder, and screwing around with Ev in the backseat of their car. Seems to work out fine for them both, when Ev isn’t busy with his women or his wife.

One of these days, Everett’s going to find the rock bottom he’s digging for, and Colt can’t help but push him along. The bosses won’t admit it but there’s more to Combs than meets the eye, and that bigshot Richard Edwards knows something for sure.

Ev would say it makes him a pessimist, but Colt just has that feeling, an ice-sharp truth learned in days spent dodging death. Getting honest words from Edwards and Everett both? Might be what kills Colt yet.

Excerpt

Everett
Louisiana, 2018

“You know who you have to call, Everett.”

Lead Detective Everett Kane sat at his desk with a single thought in his head, surrounded by files that looked like scrapbook memories. Because this Meyers case? Staging aside, it was Patrick Combs all over again.
Major Stapes leaned against the open office door, face unreadable in the light of dimmed fluorescents. “I’ll be the first to admit I’ve no love for the bastard. And with how you all left things…well, there’s a bigger picture now.”

A hard laugh escaped Everett’s throat. “He’s the one who saw that in the first place. Back then.”
The major nodded, but didn’t look happy to agree. For all anyone ever said about “that nutcase outsider,” not to mention the legitimate grief he gave the bosses back in the day, it’d be easy to turn a blind eye and avoid an uncomfortable sight. But Major Stapes had a reputation for giving credit where it was due. He was the one who’d hired the bastard back when. He knew what he was asking Everett to do—again.

The older man picked at peeling black letters that read E. Kane, Lead Detective. “Maybe so,” Stapes hedged. “But it doesn’t change the facts. Now that there’s another body…do it now or do it tomorrow, but you’re out of time. We need him.”

Everett eyed the locked drawer of his desk. They both knew exactly who he meant, but Everett wasn’t stupid enough to go saying the man’s name aloud, even to the only boss who could halfway stand him. This case had conjured up enough old ghosts without adding him to the mix.

Everett shook his head. “I’m not workin’ with him.”

The major snorted, a paternal sound that made Everett feel like a kid complaining over chores. With his silver hair and well-lined face, Stapes often reminded Everett of his grandfather, though he wrangled small-town cops instead of stallions. He rapped his knuckles against the door. “Believe that’s the second time you’ve tried to convince me of that, Detective.”

Shit. Stapes was right about that too.

The fight fell out of Everett with a heavy sigh, leaving him hunched over the desk. He fixed weary eyes on the photo in front of him—a young woman in a State Rodeo T-shirt and a puddle of her own blood—cut up and dead in a way no person ought to be. One look at those photos and the petty wilted in his gut.

Yeah. There’s that bigger picture to think on.

He tried to rub the tiredness from his eyes. “I’m not gettin’ out of this, am I?”

Stapes’ attention darted around the room—at the photos stapled over the walls, the files that littered every surface, the theories and timelines connected by string and too many cards to count. It made his point too well.

“Not this time.”

The major turned on his heel, leaving Everett to stew in his half-lit office. The station lights had long ago been dimmed, which made sense. Everett’s colleagues all had homes to be getting to. There’d been a time he had the same—a couple different homes, if he were honest.

He clicked his pen twice, then chucked it at the desk. Broken pieces of plastic scattered to corners unknown.
Fuckin’ Harkan. Why’d Colt always have to be right?

Alone and accustomed to being so, he cracked the small window in his smaller office and blazed up a Camel filter. On a normal day, Everett was a strict only-with-coffee smoker. He was down to a pack a week when things stayed the right kind of average. But this one was peeling fast, half-gone from yesterday—a soft pack because fuck it, they weren’t gonna last long enough to matter. Not when the State Rodeo was once again the scene of a murder. And certainly not now the name Colt Harkan was playing on a loop in his mind…

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About the Author

Gin Vane

Gin Vane is your friendly neighborhood bisexual she / they, deconstructing heteronormativity one queer romance at a time.

As a lifelong reader of the genre, Gin refuses to compromise plot for spice and lives by the motto “por que no los dos?” Gin primarily writes MM and MMF, though she enjoys reading and writing lesbian romance as well. Gin lives for the slow-burn that scalds and loves a good character redemption arc. Their novels are always full of heat and often include elements of polyamory and BDSM.

When not at the writing desk, Gin can be found dancing at their pole and circus studio, knitting beside the most perfect cat, watching crime shows and Brit coms with her husband or cooking dinner with friends and partners.

Follow Gin on Instagram and TikTok.

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New Release Blitz: A Little More Trust by Pauley J Ray (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  A Little More Trust

Series: Hot Property, Book One

Author: Pauley J Ray

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, alpha males, blue-collar, businessman, home repair

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Description

Ethan Scott has everything he could possibly want: an amazing career, great friends, and more money than he’s ever dreamed of. Oh, and men. So many men. Yep, life is perfect, and he doesn’t ever see it changing.

Nate Sullivan has sworn off men. They can’t be trusted. Simple as that. After years of being lied to by the man he thought he loved, the very married man with a wife and kids, he’s promised to never give his heart away or get emotionally attached to anyone again.

Ethan thinks it’ll be a sure thing to get Nate into his bed, but when the sexy and frustrating decorator rebuffs him at every turn, he comes up with a new plan to tempt the man he can’t stop thinking about. A sex agreement. For the duration of Nate’s work contract, with no strings attached and definitely no hearts and roses or emotional fallout.

It sounds like the perfect deal. Nate gets to have the man he’s been craving since they first met before walking away, his heart intact. Ethan gets to have Nate in his bed, finally satisfying the itch he’s constantly trying to scratch. Problem is, Ethan’s still trying to extricate himself from his disastrous marriage and if there’s one thing Nate won’t touch, it’s a married man. When Nate finds out what Ethan’s been hiding, the betrayal of trust leaves him devastated.

Nate leaves, but Ethan’s determined not to let him go. Will Nate give him the chance to explain, or will he risk losing the only man he’s ever truly loved?

Excerpt

A Little More Trust
Pauley J Ray © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Ethan

Pouring the steaming coffee into my usual mug, I let the rich aroma fill my senses. God, I needed this. Taking a large gulp, I savored the strong taste as it hit my tongue, the heat burning my mouth and throat as I swallowed, I hoped like hell the caffeine would kick start my body after the late night I’d had.

I plopped myself down at the kitchen table to take the weight off my aching thigh muscles from last night’s activities when the front doorbell rang loudly in the quiet space. Who the hell was that—I glanced at the clock on the wall—at a quarter to nine on a Saturday morning?

The bell rang again so I pushed my seat back and dragged my ass up the stairs and down the first-floor hallway. Yanking the front door open to get rid of whoever had ruined my peaceful morning, I was about to give them an earful, but then I looked into his face and the words died on my lips.

The man standing on my doorstep must have been mid-twenties at the most. A few inches shorter than my own six two, he wore a blue baggy t-shirt a good couple of sizes too big, almost drowning his slim frame, and a pair of loose-fitting gray jeans and black sneakers. His angular face gave him a Scandinavian look, with a strong jaw and high cheekbones. Sandy blond hair shone golden in the morning sun, short on the sides and long on top, swept away from his forehead and held in place with some product. My fingers itched to slide through the strands to see if they were as soft as they looked and a sudden image of my hand gripping tightly in his hair as I tilted his head to lick up his neck flashed through my mind.

Despite the tempting package he presented, I couldn’t seem to tear my eyes away from his lips. Pink and full, they were begging to be kissed, and I had to bite down hard on my tongue to refrain from licking my own in readiness.

Well, hello, Blondie.

“Mister Scott?” his smooth, quiet voice asked, giving me goosebumps and pulling me from the trance I’d fallen into. Lifting my gaze to the palest green eyes I’d ever seen, I nodded at his question, my mouth suddenly unable to voice a coherent response. He shifted on his feet, “I’m, err, here about the painting quote.”

Damn, was that today?

He extended his hand out in front of him, and, giving myself a mental shake to wake the hell up, I reached for his and clasped his palm, my own larger hand encasing his. A shock of electricity shot up my arm catching me by surprise. The guy obviously felt the effect too as his eyes widened and he took in a short, sharp breath.

Interesting.

“Please, call me Ethan.” I held onto his warm hand a little longer than necessary before reluctantly releasing it and giving him a friendly smile.

The guy stiffened slightly and inclined his head. “I’m Nate.”

“Nate.” I savored his name on my tongue, rolling it around. “Please, come on inside.”

I stepped aside to let him enter, unable to resist the urge to lean in slightly and inhale his scent as he passed by me. Light and citrusy with a hint of soap. As he moved into the hallway, I gave him the once over and was disappointed to see his t-shirt covered his ass, obscuring my view.

Jesus. I had to stop perving on the guy. I deliberately pushed my hands into my sweatpants pockets to try to hide my growing erection and to subtly press my fingers against the head of my cock to give me some degree of control and hopefully, relief.

It didn’t.

Nate had stopped a few feet into the hallway, glancing around, assessing his surroundings, but he didn’t say anything and waited silently for me to take the lead.

“Come on,” I offered. “I’ll give you the tour, and we can talk about what I want.”

He paused for a second but then walked past me into the hallway, my eyes once more running over the baggy t-shirt and shapeless jeans he wore. I almost cursed out loud wondering what the body hiding underneath might look like, which was weird as this guy wasn’t my type at all, so why Nate intrigued me was puzzling.

Maybe it was because he wasn’t all over me like guys usually were? I inwardly scoffed at the notion of my ego being so fragile I couldn’t handle not being wanted and had something to prove. Not surprising with my upbringing but hell, I hoped I wasn’t that shallow.

Though there was something attractive about the way his calm demeanor pulled me in. With my hectic social life and full-on work schedule, I barely had a second in which to relax, but though I’d only met the guy five minutes ago, Nate slowed everything down and being in his presence made me calmer.

Mentally shaking my head, I tried to focus on the reason why Nate was here. To give me a quote to paint my house. So, concentrating on that, I proceeded to give him the grand tour.

I’d moved into the four-story Victorian townhouse just over a month ago, so had hardly any furniture cluttering the place, which made things easier to see and for Nate to get a feel for what needed to be done. With an open and airy first floor letting the light flood in and four bedrooms spread over the upper two floors, the place was far bigger than I needed, but as soon as the realtor had shown me around, I had to have it.

Taking the stairs down to the lower floor I led him past the dining room and into the huge open plan kitchen at the rear of the house with the French doors leading onto the garden.

I’d been watching Nate carefully as I’d given my tour. He still hadn’t said much, and his lack of communication was beginning to get to me, as was my inability to get a read on him, something I was usually extremely good at. But as we progressed and each room had been revealed, he’d relaxed a bit more as his obvious delight at the house and the possibility of getting his hands on such a historic building to paint had emerged.

Which I liked. A lot.

“You have a beautiful home, Mister Scott,” he said, his gentle voice filling the quiet surrounding us.

The words were the most he’d spoken since we’d begun the tour. I was extremely pleased at his compliment but, for some reason, refrained from saying so. Instead, shoving my hands back in my pockets, I rocked back and forth on my heels. “I like it, and as I stated earlier, please, call me Ethan.”

The corner of his lips curled up in the barest hint of a smile, making my heart beat a bit faster in my chest.

Pulling out a chair, he sat down at the whitewashed kitchen table and hooked his hands underneath his legs. “So, if you let me know what you’d like, I can put a quote together for you.”

I tried to resist, but, for some reason, the quiet man in front of me made me determined to get some sort of reaction, so I lowered my voice an octave and replied, “You want to know what I like?”

My flirty question had the desired effect as a full-on blush formed on his cheeks and his mouth dropped open.

God, he’s so cute.

“F-for the house.” He fidgeted in his seat. “What you’d like for the house.”

“Ah, okay.” Moving away from the counter and pulling out my own chair, I sat down opposite him, needing to get closer to this man who predictably leaned as far away in his seat as he could. “This is where I’ll need your help.” I rested my hands on the table. “I’m not good at this type of thing.”

I wasn’t clueless at all. In fact, I was damn good at painting, as my business partners and I had built a successful construction company from our humble beginnings with house renovations. And because of our success and the crazy number of hours I worked, it left me no time to paint my own home. Hence, the need to hire someone to do it for me.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Pauley J Ray has been making up stories in his head for as long as he can remember, and now gets to write those stories down in his own gay romantic fiction, involving sexy, complicated, and flawed characters searching for their happily ever after.

When not writing, he loves meeting up with friends and can’t wait to get outdoors with his husband, hiking, camping and traveling to new and exciting places as often as they can.

He feels extremely lucky to be able to sit at his laptop, all day, every day, creating the heartfelt, angsty and passionate romance books he himself loves to read.

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New Release Blitz: And God Laughed by Joe Rielinger (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  And God Laughed

Series: Terry Luvello, Book One

Author: Joe Rielinger

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2022

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 75100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, trans, private detective, crime, murder mystery, suspense, family drama, priests, law enforcement, serial killer, religion, revenge

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Description

Private detective Terry Luvello has just been handed the biggest case of his career. During confession, a man has twice declared his intent to commit murder. In both cases, the murders later occurred in exactly the way the unknown man had described.

Hoping to keep the church connection out of the newspapers, the parish pastor asks Terry to find the killer and act as his liaison with the Cleveland Police and Detective Hannah Page. While dealing with their own growing attraction, Terry and Hannah race from Cleveland to New Orleans to catch a brilliant and ruthless killer acting on his own twisted compulsion.

Those who know Terry describe him as intelligent, obsessive, and annoying, often all at once. To solve this case, Terry must also put his uniquely wry sense of humor into play, coming to terms with a longstanding grudge against the Catholic Church and his identity as a transgender male.

Excerpt

And God Laughed
Joe Rielinger © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Amos Johnson was an enforcer. A triggerman for the Cleveland mob, Amos stood six-foot-four with the physique and ornery nature of a habitual steroid user. His body was his business, and Amos took his business seriously.

Amos also loved tattoos. Known as “Tatts” to his friends, Amos proudly claimed to have visited every tattoo parlor in the city of Cleveland. Fully covered from head to toe, the design on his left forearm was a tribute to his mother.

Amos’s other tattoos, not nearly as sentimental, would get him thrown out of any polite gathering in the city. That assumed, of course, someone would be foolhardy enough to try.

Not being part of polite society myself, Amos and his tattoos didn’t bother me at all. We shared the same opinion about the Browns, blues music, and the current state of the movie industry. With the people I met in my business, that was pretty much the best you could hope for. Amos might not have understood me, but he was at least willing to make the effort.

I met Amos almost a year ago during a custody dispute with his ex-wife. His ex, a heroin addict, had run off with Amos’s two-year-old daughter, Leann. It wasn’t that Amos thought he should take care of his daughter—he knew he wasn’t cut out for parenthood any more than his ex-wife. Amos’s goal instead was to return Leann to the person who really did have custody, his beloved mother, Amelia. He hired me, a licensed private investigator, to make that reunion happen.

After a lucky break, I was able to return Leann to her grandmother within two days of her abduction. Amos was grateful, but he couldn’t pay me much. That was pretty much an occupational hazard, though Amos promised he would be forever in my debt. One year later, that was a marker I needed to call.

My old-school mother would call Amos a thug. I didn’t care if Amos was a thug because tonight, he was my thug. Bored and uncomfortable, Amos and I were crouched behind a car on the fifth floor of the main student parking garage at Creesmont College, a small liberal arts school about twenty miles outside of Greater Cleveland.

As colleges go, Creesmont wasn’t much. Its history department was rated as one of the top thirty programs for schools of its size, and that was about it for high-level academics at the college. In a move born of desperation, Creesmont administration decided to take advantage of the school’s low academic reputation by investing more in athletics. That bet had paid off, and the school’s football team currently ranked in the top five of Division Three schools across the country.

Amos and I were waiting to meet James O’Keefe. Considered a potential low-round pick in the next NFL draft, O’Keefe was the senior quarterback of this year’s Creesmont football team. Six-foot-three, movie-star handsome and outwardly friendly, he was every girl’s dream date. Unfortunately for those girls, James preferred rape to relationships.

My client, Jenna Adamcheck, was a third-year English major at Creesmont. To earn extra money, Jenna had signed up as a tutor for the Creesmont Athletic Program, and her first client was James O’Keefe.

With a long-term boyfriend at another school, Jenna had little interest in James’s early attempts at seduction. Her indifference only piqued James’s interest, and Jenna was surprised two weeks into their arrangement when James showed up at her dorm room requesting an unscheduled tutoring session. Jenna reluctantly allowed James into her room, where he then continued his courtship by pushing Jenna onto her bed and ripping off her sweater top.

Jenna was no shrinking violet. Taught by her father to always fight back, she aimed a well-placed knee at James’s crotch. The knee connected, and James, now in considerable pain, fought to regain the upper hand.

Jenna, however, was not through. Furious, she grabbed the fork she was using for dinner and aimed it at James’s left eye. While she missed, the fork drew blood as it gashed her assailant’s left cheek. Unsure how to deal with a woman who hit back, James ran from Jenna’s room. Cursing and in pain, he plotted his revenge.

Thinking she had resolved the incident, Jenna didn’t report James to Creesmont administration. That was a mistake; although, it did initially appear James had backed off.

Three days later, Jenna found the windshield of her 2018 Kia Forte smashed and a typewritten note placed on the driver’s seat. The message read, “Sluts always pay in the end.” Alarmed, Jenna reported the incident to campus police along with her suspicions as to the culprit. Without evidence, those suspicions were promptly ignored.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Joe Rielinger lives in Cleveland, Ohio, with his wife, Lisa, and their two fun-loving, though often borderline crazy golden retrievers. With a lifetime love of mystery, crime, and detective novels, Joe is currently working on a sequel to his first book, And God Laughed. When he isn’t writing, Joe likes to cook, read, and pretend he might someday learn something about training his two dogs.

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Book Blitz: Iniquitus by J Hali Steele (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Iniquitus

Series: Sanguine Blood Seekers 3

Author: J Hali Steele

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: Sept 2

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 105 pages

Genre: Erotica, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Erotic Shorts, Suspense, Urban Fantasy, Dark Desire, Gay, Vampires, Voyeurism and Exhibitionism

Synopsis

Kamose, undead before he was pharaoh, has lived on fringes of the vampire realm for thousands of years. He feels no kinship to the bloody bastards. Against vampire laws, Kam kills his master, the only man who loved him. He pays for that atrocity every day. Allowing Kam’s sarcophagus to be desecrated and tossed into a pile of trash as if he were truly dead, even God deserts Kamose. Until Matthias, the thirteenth apostle, crosses his path.

Saint Matthias should have been one of the twelve apostles. Instead, he gains the position after Jesus’ death. By then he’s a monster subsisting on human blood. Every bite, every draw of sustenance fills him with guilt he can’t assuage. The only time he experiences peace is in the arms of a much older creature. A vampire so vile and sacrilegious, Matthias fears he’ll cause both their souls to burn in Hell!

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 J. Hali Steele

As he peered across the room, watching Matthias flip through pages of the bible, Kamose swept his thumb over the amulet he always worn around his neck — a polished amber ball held in the claws of the beetle, a symbol of immortality, resurrection, transformation and protection.

Fingering the amulet had once given Kamose comfort. The immoral acts he’d committed before and during his reign as a seventeenth dynasty pharaoh had left him in his current predicament, though.

Aware he was being observed, Matthias casually pushed a few stray strands of blond hair behind his ear as he continued reading. The apostle had the supple body of a dancer — a trim, agile build that enticed Kam every time he moved. Loathe to employ what he termed sorcery or tricks, Matty walked most places, at least those he could reach on foot. The habit kept his muscles limber, his body fit. Even without employing magic, when Matthias crossed a room, it was as if he floated on air.

The composure Kam sensed Matty feigned became annoying. “You belong to me.” They’d argued the point for days. Kam had never before vacillated in regard to his needs or wants, yet nearly a month after commandeering the apostle from the king’s home, Kam was aware that forcing sex would only exacerbate an already impossible condition.

“Never, you irreverent beast,” Matty responded yet again.

Kam had shared an infinitesimal amount of blood with the younger vampire the first time they fucked, but he needed to fully claim Matty to alleviate the present situation. He’d given the godly fanatic a way to creep into the corners of his mind he sometimes failed to secure. That access had served to ramp Matty’s aggravation to a level beyond Kam’s control.

A prime example — Matthias had used that one drop of Kam’s blood to locate Joshua, with the idea of destroying his former lover.  Damn apostle will be the death of me. “For as much as I’m living, I might as well meet true death.” Kam had experienced no day-to-day joy, no physical release. “I haven’t been with a man in weeks.” That was a first for Kam. Sexual desire raged every time Matthias entered a room, each time Kam caught his scent when traversing his domain. “If you don’t succumb, I’ll pursue another.” Strong shields had been set but if he left Matthias unattended, he might find a way around them. Matthias was the wiliest of bastards.

“Why harangue me?” Matthias looked up. “I’ll never be yours.” His scowl contained abhorrence. “My life, too, has been grossly unfair and you, Kamose, are a corrupt degenerate I should have left to die.”

“But you didn’t.” Crossing the floor, he leaned in until his cool breath brushed Matty’s face. “My patience wears thin, Matty. Whether you believe you’re mine or not will soon no longer concern me.” Snatching the holy book and tossing it to the floor, he pulled the vampire from the chair and grasped his ass. “This is mine. Don’t ever forget that.”

“Screw you.”

“Well, well. Do I detect passion?” Matthias’ stoicism had slipped. “Nice to hear you have that in you, though I prefer it the other way around. Anyway, Jesus might mind you wiggling your dick in my ass.”

“God have mercy on your soul!”

“He did. Gave you to me, didn’t he?”

“Never.”

“Whatever. I’m hungry.”

“I’m not cooking for you.”

“We’re going out. I’ll show you places in town I’m sure you haven’t seen.”

“I’m not diving into any bars.”

“Christ’s sake, how have you managed to survive? It’s dive bar. So called for their seediness. And I’m talking about fancy eateries.” Kam drew Matthias into an embrace. “Don’t make the mistake of thinking I only seek satisfaction in bars. You should see some of the waiters in these places.”

Matty flinched at Kam’s use of the Lord’s name. “You, you’re a nasty prick.”

“That spark of fire looks good on you.” Kam kissed him hard, sending his tongue into corners he couldn’t banish from his mind — corners he remembered had once received him without complaint. Filling his fist with hair, Kam held the man close, gave no quarter for escape. It took only seconds to realize Matty was kissing him back. Matty’s hands swept Kam’s sides and shoulders before clutching in desperation. Tables turned as the young vamp’s mouth captured and held Kam’s. Deliciously, tongues touched, tasted. Beyond a shadow of a doubt, Matthias was as near to Heaven as Kam would get.

Drawing away, Kam stared into gunmetal eyes that showed little blue. Thunderous gray glared back. Fuck it. “No human, nor God or his son, certainly not a vampire alive can have you. No one takes what’s mine.”

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Changeling Press LLC | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

J. Hali Steele wishes she could grow fur, wings, or fangs, so she can stay warm, fly, or just plain bite the crap out of… Well, she can’t do those things but she wishes she could!

Multi-published and Amazon bestselling author of Romance in Paranormal, Fantasy, and Contemporary worlds which include ReligErotica and LGBTQ stories where humans, vampyres, shapeshifters and angels collide — they collide a lot! When J. Hali’s not writing or reading, she can be found snuggled in front of the TV with a cat in her lap, and a cup of coffee.

Growl and roar — it’s okay to let the beast out. — J. Hali Steele

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