Book Blitz: Black Leather Night and Other Tales by Willa Okati (Excerpt & Giveaway)


Title:  The Brotherhood Vol. 1

Author: Willa Okati

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: May 2, 2024

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 294 pages

Genre: Action Adventure, Box Sets, Dark Fantasy, New Releases, Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy, Urban Fantasy

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Welcome to Amour Magique, where gay paranormals come to find love…

Amour Magique – the notorious sex club owned by Liam, an incubus. His friends call themselves The Brotherhood. The Brothers have the perennial problem of gay men everywhere: finding a hottie who doesn’t turn out to be a loser or abuser. They’re down on their luck, and looking for love in all the wrong places.

Bite Me — Tattoos. Piercings. Leather. Attitude. Do anything, say anything, and damn the consequences. That’s Bree of the Brotherhood, and he’s not about to apologize for a thing.

The Dragon’s Tongue — Collin was born with the power to make men burn with lust. He’s been burned himself, though, and now he’s  working himself into an early grave. Might just be worth the trip if he can get it right this time.

Good Luck Piece — Conned into putting in an appearance at the notorious sex club, Amour Magique, Simon holes up in a shoddy bar aptly called Last Chance. Then an Irish stranger with flashing green eyes and a mouth made for wickedness buys him a drink…


The Brotherhood Vol. 1
Willa Okati
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2024 Willa Okati
Excerpt from Amour Magique

Silence. Intense silence. Chilly air smelling of pine and citrus rushed through painfully neat rooms and corridors, whisking over nothing but bare furniture and knickknacks free of dust. Surfaces sparkled, yet had an opacity that lacked any élan vital. Solemn strains of a Beethoven requiem filled the air.

This was a place where happiness went to die.

In one room, though, a spark of life remained. A scented candle, fragrant with bayberry and red as blood, crackled to life in the semi-darkness. It passed from hand to hand, lighting taper after taper in a circle, until twelve flares of light burned brightly in the gloom. Each candle, held tightly or cautiously in a strong male hand, was lifted high in a circle as the men holding them glanced at one another, took a simultaneous deep breath, and chanted:

“Long live the Brotherhood. May our harmony and companionship be a beacon in the darkness of an unfriendly world. Let the Brotherhood bring light to the murky corners and sweep away the shadows of hostility.”

Again, they glanced at each other. Faint smiles lifted the corners of mouths plump and thin, narrow and wide.

“Here are the bylaws of the Brotherhood, long may they live. Act smart. Look cool. Share your prick, not your heart. Long live the Brotherhood!”

Smothered laughter broke out as all twelve men tilted their bayberry candles toward a vast central pillar and set its many wicks alight.

“So let it be done,” intoned the man in the position of leader. “So may it be.”

Silence filled the air for a long moment.

Then the doorbell chimed.

“Hot damn — food’s here!” Micah, closest to the door, jumped up, shoved his candle into a holder, and, with a deft flick of a switch, turned the chandelier lighting on in the main room. “Who ordered tonight? David? What did you get — Chinese or Thai?”

“Chinese,” David called as he put his taper into another holder, as did the other men. “Moo shu pork, egg rolls, wonton soup, sweet-and-sour chicken, beef with broccoli, sesame beef, General Tso’s, cashew chicken, lo mein –”

“Holy fuck, David! We’re not an army!”

“– and dessert, too.” He blushed a little. “Well, you guys always say there’s never enough when someone else orders. I figured I’d get plenty.”

“Yeah, plenty of food, since that’s all you’re getting,” retorted Micah.

“Not nice,” Simon, their leader, rebuked, folding his hands. “And would you open the door before the nice delivery gentleman thinks we’re either crazy or not at home and goes away?”

“Don’t get your panties in a bunch. I’m on my way.” Micah smoothed his indigo silk shirt more neatly into his tight-cut jeans, ruffled a hand through his hair, and swung the door open. A delighted grin split his face. “Hwong Li! How did they know to send you? Was it just for me?”

“You are a horn dog,” the young Asian man retorted. His arms overflowed with boxes. “I drew the short straw.”

“There is nothing short about me.”

“So you say. Ninety-three ninety, please.”

“Ninety-three — David, how much food did you order?” Micah turned, hands on his hips. “It’s obvious you don’t care, but some of us are watching our figures.”

David blushed a deep, dusky red. “I just wanted to get enough –”

“You got enough, all right. Lose about ten, and maybe you’d get something else, too.”


“All right, all right.” Micah folded his arms. “I’m not paying for all this myself, men. Pony up the cash.” All around the room, men dug into their pockets. David produced a twenty and handed it over, his cheeks still pink. Micah snatched all the cash, counting it with a quick hand before passing over a hundred dollars. He riffled the bills in front of Hwong’s eyes, letting him count the cash, before cracking a nasty smile and slipping the money into the delivery boy’s front pants pocket.

His fingers lingered.

“Why, Hwong, do I feel a spring roll in there?”

“Your touch would make bamboo soft.”


“Yes. But not on the market for one such as yourself.”

“Fuck you.” Micah jerked his hand away as if he’d been burned. “Keep the change.”

Hwong Li regarded him disdainfully. “Shitty tip.”

“You want a tip? Don’t insult me next time.”

“Aw, come on,” the youngest of their group piped up. “Hwong’s a hottie. Treat him with the r-e-s-p-e-c-t a sister, uh, brother deserves.”

Hwong glanced past Micah. “Hello, Christian. Got a kiss for me?”

“You bet.” Christian dug into the pocket of his hooded sweatshirt and pulled out a handful of chocolate drops. He unwrapped them. “Here, catch!”

Hwong did a nifty little seal impersonation and snaffled every treat in his mouth as they flew through the air.

“Someday, I’ll give you the real thing,” Christian teased.

“You wish you were so lucky.” Hwong stuffed the boxes of food into Micah’s arms, leaving him no choice but to grab them or drop them. “Night, ladies.”


“No, that’s your specialty.” Hwong turned and walked away.

Micah kicked the door shut and moved somewhat awkwardly toward the table in the center of the circle they’d sat in earlier. “Does someone want to help me with this? Simon? Laurence? Bree?”


“You’re on your own.”

“No way.”

“You’ll sure as hell eat it, though.” Micah dumped the boxes down. “Fine, then. Chow down, but leave me the plain white rice.” He patted his flat stomach. “I don’t want to get a pot belly.”

“You’re in about as much danger of getting fat as you are of getting anything else,” Alex said bluntly as he flopped down in a chair and reached for a container marked Lemongrass Chicken Special. “Pot, kettle, black?”

“I don’t see you bragging about your conquests.” Micah’s voice was prickly.

“Honestly! Hwong wasn’t far wrong in calling you ladies. Quentin, you and Harrison get the beer and wine. The rest of you, sit.”

“Aye, aye, Simon!”

Micah sat in the middle of a buttery-soft leather couch and crossed his legs. “I think you’re all carrying this whole Brotherhood thing too far… or not far enough. Help each other out, everyone doing their part… then it all lands on someone like me.”

A slight, lithe, curly-haired man who had not spoken as yet murmured, “You need each other, Micah. Such is the purpose to this group.” He toyed with a blue crystal that dangled from a chain around his neck. “Even you need these others, deny it as you will.”

Micah regarded the man with distaste. “All I need, Liam, is one good night on the town with a decent fuck who knows how to treat a man.”

A youngish, multi-pierced man flopped down on the couch beside them. “You want a man who’ll treat you like a god.”

“So what if I do?” Micah retorted. “You just want anyone who knows how to make the bedsprings bounce, Bree.”

“Yeah, and?” Bree reached for some extra-spicy General Tso’s. “At least it’s been less than a year for me.”

“Not by much.”

“Liar, liar, pants not on fire.”

Simon sighed and rolled his eyes to heaven. “Enough! No one else says a word until we’ve eaten. I invoke Brotherhood Head status.”

“Yeah, you wish you could get some head,” Bree muttered.

However, despite his defiance, he fell silent, as did the rest of the men. Falling into place on chairs, divans, and sofas, they dug into the hot Asian food. Small moaning noises of pleasure filled the air as rich spices and tangy flavors crossed eager tongues, and sighs of satisfaction were heard as one or another discovered a favorite among the boxes and cartons. Even David, picking at white rice himself, found the courage to reach for a packet of soy sauce and then, with a shy glance up, took a vegetarian egg roll.


Changeling Press | Amazon | Kobo | iTunes | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Willa Okati (AKA Will) is made of many things: imagination, coffee, stray cat hairs, daydreams, more coffee, kitchen experimentation, a passion for winter weather, a little more coffee, a whole lot of flowering plants and a lifelong love of storytelling. Will’s definitely one of the quiet ones you have to watch out for, though he — not she anymore — is a lot less quiet these days.

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New Release Blitz: Built From Ashes by Fox Beckman (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Built From Ashes

Series: Trust Trilogy, Book Three

Author: Fox Beckman

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 04/30/2024

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: M/NB

Length: 129600

Genre: Paranormal, Romance, urban fantasy, interracial, gay, bisexual, nonbinary, time travel, magic, witch, demons, chosen one

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Ravi’s world has shattered. Cayenne’s dark secrets have finally come to light, and a mysterious enemy threatens to dismantle The Trust from within. Haunted by betrayal, Ravi must confront the demons of his past while battling for the future of The Trust, the fate of the world, and his own heart. But can something so broken ever truly be mended?


Built from Ashes
Fox Beckman © 2024
All Rights Reserved

“I do not like this,” Val mutters for the third time, her voice low.

“Me neither,” Ravi sighs, his eye not wavering from the scope. The rifle is a cool, sturdy presence under his hands. Something he can rely on. Rare as it is for him to roll out his sniper skillset on hunts, he’s strangely nostalgic for his time in Israel. The simplicity of training and nothing else. Being so worn out each day he could slip into a deep, dreamless slumber.

Val rumbles a little under her breath like a building storm. Normally the angel is perfectly content to spend any time with Ravi in companionable silence—one of his favorite things about her—but he agrees the situation is less than ideal.

The pair perch on the second story of an abandoned big-box department store, a building slated for demolition in two months’ time. Scouting hours ahead of the rendezvous, they’d found this vantage point hidden by a defunct escalator with a clean line of sight down to the meeting place. The perfect position to keep an eagle eye on the proceedings.

It’s harder than Ravi expected it would be, staying on the sidelines while Harry and Nate are up close and personal with so many potential enemies. Even with Harry’s Chosen invulnerability and her recent training regimen, she’s still not ready for this kind of threat on her own. But as the most personable members of the team, she and Nate are the best options. One peek at Val’s eyes and it’s obvious she’s not entirely human, and if this information broker is as savvy as Nate’s vampire contact claims he is, the team can’t afford to take chances.

Through the scope Ravi watches the broker, a gentleman of Filipino descent approaching middle age and fighting it tooth and claw. Clothes too flashy, recent hair plugs, rings on every finger. The man gesticulates through a joke, and Harry throws her head back to laugh with him. Nate joins in, grinning wide. He’s leaned up against the broker’s desk, dragged into the middle of the dead mall in a parody of legitimate office space. Several men surround the trio, big slabs of hired muscle in identical plain gray suits and sunglasses.

The broker’s laughter fades as he eyes Harry with speculation. He falls silent, tapping a finger on the desk, one of his rings glimmering.

Something’s off; the guy has twigged. Ravi lines up a shot, breaths slow and measured. Kneeling beside him, Val glances at him and tenses. Her massive maul materializes into her hands.

Nate throws a nervous glance up at their sniper nest and thumbs his nose.

That’s the signal. In the space between seconds, Val disappears from Ravi’s side, a faint rush of displaced air the only sign she had ever been there.

Two of the goons are lined up right next to each other.


Ravi exhales and squeezes the trigger.

The first goon’s head shatters. Gray clay shards rain down as the golem collapses to the ground, limbs cracking sharply on impact. The angle on the second guard isn’t quite as clean, and the round exits through the cheek instead of dead center. That would have done the job on something with a brain, but the magical paper within the golem’s skull is a much trickier target.

However, Val appears in the next instant, and her maul finishes what Ravi’s bullet started, smashing the golem straight down to the chest like a pottery vase. Nate has already jumped out of range of the other goons, making way for the many blades of Harry’s urumi to snake out and take off a golem’s hand in two clean slices.

The broker swears and kicks away from the desk, twisting one of his rings. A shield of thickened air swirls in a wide arc in front of him, some sort of protection enchantment. His eyes dart from the trajectory of Ravi’s unexpected bullet to the ash-haired Amazon who teleported in front of him wielding a two-handed hammer as long as he is tall.

Having calmly locked another round into place, Ravi slides back the bolt and focuses on Harry’s one-handed foe. The shot clips a neat hole through the golem’s sunglasses, and the back of its bald head shatters. It drops like a puppet with its strings cut. Ravi tries not to smirk.

Two golems flank Val and close in, grappling with the haft of her maul, attempting to pull it from her grasp. She reels them both in and slams her forehead into one. The golem staggers, a wide crack splintering its face. Val grins and rams her fist into the crack. When she pulls it out, she’s gripping a long strip of paper. The golem falls lifelessly at her feet, and she turns her attention to the next.

Meanwhile, Harry holds her own, dodging a punch from a big clay fist and keeping her distance. All her dedicated training shows. She yanks one to the ground with the urumi and crunches her boot down on its head.

Nate sidles back into view, having taken care of the most important part of the plan, and slipped away to message Constance as soon as the fight started. To Ravi’s consternation, Nate has a piece of scavenged rebar he obviously intends to use as an improvised weapon. That hadn’t been part of the plan. The professor dives in behind an enemy wheeling on Val and takes a baseball-like swing, cracking the golem across the back of the neck. Chips of clay go flying. The golem spins around and swipes at Nate. He ducks out of the way, but just barely.

Always diving into danger, this guy. Ravi shifts position, sliding back the bolt and taking careful aim as the golem rears a fist back, Nate perfectly positioned to take the full brunt of the hit.

Blinking through the shattered pieces of clay, Nate tosses Ravi a grateful salute with a cheerful grin, as the headless body falls at his feet. Ravi shakes his head while racking in another shell.

The information broker looks to have had enough, deciding that it’s well worth abandoning his bodyguards to make a getaway. Keeping his magical shield in front of him, he starts backing away toward the exit.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Prone to diving way too deep down research rabbit-holes and absolutely incapable of working without a curated playlist in the background, Fox Beckman lives in the Twin Cities and has far too many irons in the fire. Fox is writer, an artist, an occasional wrangler of kangaroos, a longsword fencer, an archer, a roller of dice, and a forager of mushrooms that aren’t deadly (probably).



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New Release Blitz: Jessamine Grove by D.J. Blankenship (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Jessamine Grove

Author: D.J. Blankenship

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 04/16/2024

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: NB/NB

Length: 72700

Genre: Contemporary, Florida, tutor, student, adoption, mystery, artist, opera singer, grief

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Jessamine: any of numerous often climbing shrubs (genus Jasminum) of the olive family that usually have extremely fragrant flowers.

When professor Neil Boehm arrives at Jessamine Grove to take on the task of tutoring a precocious child, he does not know that, like the flower for which it’s named, the picturesque jazz-age estate harbors deadly secrets beneath its glamorous façade.

As Neil unravels the twisted vines of Jessamine Grove’s past and the pain and suffering that were their fruits, he reexamines his own past and life choices and draws unsettling parallels between the history of the Grove and that of his own family history.

Uncovering old sins leads him to hope he can paint a brighter picture for his future.


Jessamine Grove
D.J. Blankenship © 2024
All Rights Reserved


Florentina Bay

Along with Sarah’s letter came an exquisite origami Christmas ornament. Not having a tree upon which to hang it, I attached the multicolored star to the toggle of my rucksack. Now, as I opened the bag, I admired it once more. I tried origami when I was a kid. Unfortunately, I never managed to produce anything that resembled the intended object. What other creative projects had I put my hand to? Shadow boxes, model rockets, the iconic “science project,” and finally, painting. All failures. Not for lack of intelligence or skill, but for a surfeit of impatience. I wanted everything I did to be perfect. Instantly. When it was not, I stomped on, tore up, or otherwise destroyed it.

Now, with the wisdom of maturity, I looked upon Sarah’s handiwork with more admiration than envy. I had learned to accept there were certain things I could not do—or do well—and it was a waste of time and energy to dwell on failures rather than concentrate on and hone strengths. This mindset had served me well in my career as an educator.

Sarah had bested me in artistic creativity, applying her crafty little hands successfully to everything from sewing and knitting to creating beautiful greeting cards and handbound notebooks. In her skill with, and love of, teaching, Sarah had been my equal.

As I pulled my thermos and the letter from my bag, I marveled at the passage of time. Almost thirty years since Sarah Lewis and I began work at Allerton Academy. The venerable Connecticut institution was in precarious financial straits when we were hired, holding tenaciously (or foolishly, depending on one’s perspective) to its old-fashioned curriculum and strict code of discipline while the outside world moved inexorably forward, and more successful private schools adopted contemporary education models. The anachronism of Allerton initially captured our shared romanticism—the feeling of having been hired as principles in a costume drama—and the reality of Allerton’s prestige and high standards that kept us on. From the start, Sarah and I entertained no false hopes that our honeymoon with Allerton would last forever, so we were both surprised the school managed to hang on for more than a quarter of a century.

With Allerton in its final death throes, Sarah, and I—and a few colleagues whose tenures matched or exceeded our own—faced the unenviable fate of being middle-aged and unemployed. Some, like I, chose early retirement. Others, without the luxury of a private income, scrambled to find positions commensurate with their experience working in an old-fashioned boy’s boarding school. Some found work abroad. A few, like Sarah, took positions as private tutors.

“Why?” I had asked Sarah, truly baffled.

Sarah had a promising new life awaiting her outside Allerton—a long suffering lover who had finally convinced her to accept his everlasting marriage proposal and follow him to wedded bliss and retirement in Italy. Instead, Sarah had opted for a two-year stint tutoring the precocious child of a wealthy Florida power couple.

“I can’t quit cold turkey,” Sarah reasoned. “I need some sort of transition. And I could use the extra cash. The Willoughbys are paying handsomely for the Allerton pedigree.”

When she divulged the figure, I was floored.

“Jesus. I can’t blame you for accepting. But what about Victor?”

Victor was the long-suffering boyfriend.

“His reaction was rather like yours,” she said, adding a few cubes of ice and a dash of scotch to her empty glass. “Victor has agreed to a compromise. He’s going to rent a condo nearby, and we’ll spend our holidays in Italy. When my contract is up, we’ll move for good.”

Halfway through the first year of that contract, Mrs. Willoughby passed away, and Sarah soon found herself reconsidering the wisdom of continuing in her position.

“I won’t be sad to leave this place,” Sarah had said in her letter to me, “but I worry about the boy.”

The boy. Max Willoughby.

How often, over the years, have we had that discussion about why some people choose to be parents? Ezra isn’t a bad man, really. But his parenting skills leave a lot to be desired.

Anyway, I’ve had enough. And despite his assurances to the contrary, I know Victor is getting antsy. For so many years, I used Allerton and my career to avoid a true, live-in commitment to Victor. I won’t do that anymore. I want to spend every moment of the rest of my life with the man I love.

And yet…

I don’t want to leave Max without knowing there is someone there for him. Someone to advocate for him. Someone to care for him. He’s certainly no day at the county fair, but there’s something about him. Sometimes when I’m with him I recall what you’ve told me about your own childhood. It’s the young Neil Boehm I see when Max rips up a perfectly good essay or kicks his easel to the ground when I offer the slightest constructive criticism about a work in progress. He has much creative potential but lacks a proper sense of self-worth—of confidence.

Though he denies it, the death of Mrs. Willoughby has affected Max deeply, and he turns to me more and more as a surrogate mother.

What I believe Max really needs at this stage in his life is someone who can be a mentor as well as both a mother and father figure. A buddy, a confidant. Ezra—though I do not doubt his love for his son—seems afraid of gentleness, of kindness, of, perhaps, showing himself as weak. He often forgets Max is a child, not a military cadet.

You’ve already guessed where I’m going with this, of course.

You’d start after the New Year.

Please, Neil. At least consider it seriously. Ezra has practically made up his mind to send his son to a boarding school in France. I think this would be disastrous for Max. If you agree, we’ll talk about it in more detail later.

I’ve already told Mr. Ezra about you—and he’s checked you out and is suitably impressed. And he seems, much to my feminist chagrin, to assume you would be less likely to run off and get married.

Would you? I wonder.

Details enclosed.



I received the contract from Ezra Willoughby even before I met him via video conference. Despite the feeling I was being railroaded—gently by Sarah, imperiously by Willoughby—I accepted the offer. The charm of the lifestyle of an aging beach bum was beginning to wear off, and as much as I cherished the pleasant memories sparked by my return to Florentina Bay, other, darker memories overshadowed them and made remaining there untenable.

Allerton Academy had been my home for more than half of my adult life. Where would I live out the rest of it? Perhaps a leap of faith was in order.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Born in New York City and raised in the San Joaquin Valley of California, D.J. now divides his time between Brooklyn, New York, and Bogota, Colombia, where he lives with his husband, a cat, and a dog. D.J. has previously published under the pen name Zev de Valera.


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Book Blitz: The Frog in the Room by Jade Buchanan (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Frog in the Room

Series: Escape! 1

Author: Jade Buchanan

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: April 12, 2024

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 16 pages

Genre: Romance, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Shapeshifters

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Thomas Adler is a stickler for neatness. When his ordered life goes completely to the frogs, what’s a man to do? Grab hold of the closest frog shifter and hang on for dear life, of course!


A bright light flashed in front of Tom’s eyes again.

“Not again,” he moaned, fed up with all the flashing lights.

When he opened his eyes, the frog was gone. In its place was a man gorgeous enough to cause his dry mouth to suddenly feel like the Sahara.

“Oh, momma,” he gasped, reaching out and poking a finger into the man’s chiseled, perfect chest. His skin was a rich tan, with an underlying green tint to it.

He was bald… everywhere. Right down to the hairless groin where his thick, tasty cock rested. Tom licked his lips, intrigued despite himself.

“How did you come here?” the man asked, in a rich tenor.

Tom looked up in shock, his eyes wide when he stared at the man’s face. He had a wicked glint in his eyes, probably from seeing Tom’s uncouth leer at his shaved crotch.

“Wait, is this even physically possible?” he asked, tilting his head and studying the man in front of him.

Movement at either side made him swing his gaze around. The other frogs had dropped to the ground, bright flashes of light sparking before men stood tall in their place.

Technically, he should probably be freaked about now, but he figured he was either A) dreaming, B) dead or C) in an alternate universe. Either way, he probably couldn’t control anything but his own reactions, so he might as well go with it. Besides, that guy was seriously sexy and seriously hung!

The men were all studying him, confused expressions on their faces. The big guy at the front stepped to the side, poking at his car, caressing the metal with one massive hand. Tom shivered, half wishing the guy was stroking him like that. He willed his rueful erection down. He shouldn’t be turned on in a situation like this. Okay, that settled it, he was definitely dreaming.

“Well, this has got to be the weirdest day I’ve ever had,” he mused, sitting down on the beach. He clenched his fist, realizing with a start that the green frog king was still in his hand.

He set him down on the beach beside him. The big man stopped petting his car, turning to motion the others away. They left with a backward glance or two, looking downcast, leaving the two of them in the clearing alone. Well, three of them if you counted the furry frog beside him. He snorted.

“You have got to explain to me how a two pound frog becomes a two hundred pound man, ’cause my mind just can’t figure that out.” He licked his bottom lip.

“My name is Eric Odhrán. This is my kingdom, and you have now entered into my keeping,” the man said, coming forward to crouch in front of him.

“Well, Eric Oh Rawn, my name is Thomas Adler, and I’m insane. Pleased to meet you, seeing as you’re the most fabulous apparition I’ve ever invented.” Tom stuck out his hand.


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Meet the Author

Jade’s writing is as eclectic as her reading tastes. She’s also been known to accept writing challenges from friends and family just to see their reactions. She’s a firm believer that love and romance are universal concepts, no matter a person’s gender identity or sexual orientation. Learn more at Jade’s Website


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New Release Blitz: The Cyclopes’ Eye by Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Cyclopes’ Eye

Series: The Cyclopes’ Eye, Book One

Author: Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 04/09/2024

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 103000

Genre: Science Fiction, Lit/genre, young adult, sci-fi, family-drama, dystopian, medical procedures, twins, eyes, medical research, conspiracy

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First, they came for his sister’s eye. Now they’re coming for his—and what’s even worse is he deserves it.

Henry has never had anything good happen to him, period. That’s why, after school, he’s going to put on his big-boy pants and confess his love to his best friend—because the universe owes him one, dammit, and he needs a win.

But maybe it wasn’t the best idea to do it on Drill Day—the one day a month that healthcare conglomerate Axiom infiltrates schools across America to select a new candidate to give up one of their eyes, for… research? When the new candidate is selected, Henry’s plans go awry, and he and his friends must figure out how to escape from Axiom. But when the past threatens to eat him alive, things aren’t as easy as they seem.


The Cyclopes’ Eye
Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius © 2024
All Rights Reserved

This isn’t what I signed up for, but that seems to be a common thread in my life these days. So, sure, universe, you do you. Pile something else on top of the mess.

I can’t see straight, for starters. I’m on a bus from hell, and everything’s a blur, and I don’t know what’s worse—keeping my eyes open to watch the world zip by, or squeezing them shut and letting my stupid, stupid imagination do the work. When I close them, every bump in the road feels like I’m being launched into space, so maybe for now I’ll keep them open. But both options are awful. Both are making me sick.

I’ve been on the verge of puking all morning, and nothing seems to help. Especially not this driver. Some tragic car accident blocked the route we normally take, so we had to go on a long detour. And now that we’re running behind, the driver’s been speeding and turning corners like this is a rollercoaster and not a school bus.

Oh god, do not think about rollercoasters right now, Henry.

No, this is just a bus. A bus. Sure, we’re going well above the speed limit, but at least not, like, a thousand miles an hour.

Okay, calm down. What are the facts? Think of what’s around you. The bus is almost at full capacity today, with only one person missing: Judith, who’s been home from school. So, if she’s not here, that means there are eighty-eight people around you.

God, that’s so many.

No, that’s not so many. That’s a normal amount, Henry!

Okay, eighty-eight people, plus me, is eighty-nine. Double that, and we get—take your time, Hen; use your fingers if you have to—a hundred seventy-eight. There should be a hundred and seventy-eight eyeballs on this bus…except we know there are five patched kids on our route this year—six if we count…well, no, she’s not here. A hundred and seventy-eight, minus five stolen eyes, equals a hundred and seventy-three.

Wait, what about the driver? Is that why he’s driving so crazy, because he’s an eye short?

I glance up to the mirror above him to double check—only I can’t tell because he’s wearing sunglasses. Even at six thirty a.m., the California sun is blinding. But that’s all right; I don’t need to know.

A hundred and seventy-three. That’s how many eyes are on this bus.




Slowly, the breaths come. My lungs expand, and the nausea begins to fade. It helps, knowing a simple statistic like that. But it’s weird, and if people knew I counted eyeballs in my head, I would die. Actually curl up and die.

Or maybe everyone does that in secret. Maybe everyone is a secret freak like me.

A loud screech. My head plows into the seat in front of me. Ow!

The driver slammed on his brakes! As soon as I realize what’s happened, anger builds in my chest. What in the actual fuck is this fucking driver doing? He’s trying to kill us! I want to scream my head off, scream until the windows shatter. Until this guy’s ears explode, because screw him!

But I won’t. I never scream when I want to. Not anymore. Instead, I sit on my hands and start to count eyes again, while I let the world shift back into place.

All around me, people are moaning and groaning.

“Dude, what the hell?” someone shouts.

I look over, and the girl across the aisle is rubbing her neck, her eyes closed and mouth downturned in obvious pain. The girl next to her has her head between her legs. At first, I think she must be as sick as I was feeling, but she starts searching around for something on the floor and finally retrieves her phone. When the screen lights up, there’s a giant spiderweb of cracks across it.

Slowly, the bus lurches forward, and I no longer feel like screaming. The anger is abating, and it morphs into something closer to pity as I remember for the hundredth time what today is: Drill Day. If the driver doesn’t get us to school on time, he’ll be accused of trying to help us escape. He’ll get his eye taken out.

I can’t be mad at him for saving his own ass, even if it means ushering me to what very well might be my own demise.

Oh god. I feel a gurgle deep in my stomach. And so it begins. Again.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Haskey-Valerius rarely knows what’s happening. He works in healthcare by day and writes weird fiction and poetry by night. His shorter work has been featured in numerous literary journals and has been nominated for prizes, including Best of the Net. He currently lives in the Midwest with his unbelievably handsome and perfect dog, and also a human whom he loves. The Cyclopes’ Eye is his debut novel.

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New Release Blitz: If We Were Stars by Eule Grey (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  If We Were Stars

Author: Eule Grey

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 04/02/2024

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: NB/NB

Length: 26600

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, YA, British, non-binary, pansexual, interracial, coming of age, coming out, friends to lovers, autism, ableism, neurodiversity, aliens, unlikely heroes

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The final countdown begins in three hours.

Blimey. The last thing Kurt wants is to wear a space helmet, and, no, they didn’t plan on saving the world either—Not before their eighteenth birthday anyway. Who’d have thought friending a lonely alien would lead to the Cape Canaveral launch pad.

Best friends since they were ten years old, Kurt O’Hara and Beast Harris tackle the typical teenage challenges together: pronouns, AWOL bodies, not to mention snogging. A long-distance relationship with an alien named Iuvenis is the least of their troubles.

Kurt loves programming, people-pleasing, and yellow dresses. Most of all, Kurt loves Beast.

Beast adores elephants, protest marches, and Kurt. Rules?—Nah. Humanity’s way down on Beast’s list of to-dos.

Beast and Kurt, Kurt and Beast. The end. Exactly how their love turns into a scene from Red Dwarf is anyone’s guess. Spaceships? NASA at the doorstep? No biggie. As long as they’re together, Kurt and Beast can survive anything.

Except, apparently, lift-off. Because nobody considered sensory issues, did they? Nope. NASA never made adjustments for neurodivergent astronauts. Unbelievable.

Will science be enough to blast Kurt and Beast—unlikely superheroes—into space to save the planet? Or will it take something much more extraordinary?


If We Were Stars
Eule Grey © 2024
All Rights Reserved

Ten footsteps to the left, ten footsteps to the right.

I’m ten years old, pacing the corridor outside the headteacher’s office, wearing one shoe, reeking of fear. It’s my birthday. My school shirt is torn. Voices bombard my head, but they’re not new.

How dare they?

I hate them.


And quieter echoes:

I hate me.

Stupid Kurt.

It’s weird how I can never hear my own voice. If it’s present, I don’t recognise it. Mum calls the voices my temper as if I have any control over them. Try to calm down, Kurt. Sometimes I can, and sometimes I can’t. She doesn’t understand why I get into so much trouble, and nor do I. I’ve tried to explain the best way I can. Htyr hur eer aaaaa. Kkk. Bl. It makes sense to me, but Mum gets cross. Speak properly!

Ten footsteps left.

Ten to the right.

One wrong move will cause my gasket to blow, just like Dad’s car.

Miss Smith doesn’t believe I’m sorry, not anymore. I hadn’t meant to rip the posters off the wall or call the dinner lady a fucker. If only Michael would stop chanting my name over and over, Kurt O’Hara, Kurt O’Hara, Kurt O’Hara, until the scared thing inside me blows a gasket. Bang!

Ten footsteps left.

Ten to the right.

Hearing my name chanted doesn’t bother me; the spite lurking behind Michael’s voice does. Those mean kids probably know all the answers. Otherwise, why would they wind me up? Last year hair-pulling, and now this.

I’m sorry about the posters, the dinner lady, and most of all about the badness. Maybe I should add an apology to my name. Kurt Sorry O’Hara. It would save a lot of time and energy.

Stupid Kurt.

Mum says the others don’t hate me. She’s wrong. I’m not sure why they hate me though. Why? What have I done? Worrying about what makes me unlikeable stops me from sleeping, even at weekends. I can’t enjoy my books and numbers like I used to. Why, why until I can’t escape, and then I blow a gasket again. Worse, the mean kids know about the scared thing inside me.

Ten left.

Ten right.



Today has been the ultimate shitstorm, worse than last year when Miss Smith and Mr Rogers rugby-tackled me. I was confused then, and I still am. How could being squashed achieve anything good? It made the scared thing inside desperate because it was threatened. Ten to the left and ten to the right didn’t calm me down. Now, I can’t be inside little rooms or lifts, and stairwells aren’t so good either.

Miss Smith is mean. Last week, she made me sit facing the wall like I was nothing. She pressed her pen too hard because the sound against the paper was as scratchy and loud as Dad when he crashes the kitchen pots and pans. I almost asked Miss Smith if she’d like me to show her how to hold a pen correctly. It hurts your hand, but Mr Wilson says it’s necessary if I want to write like the other kids.

After a while, Miss Smith left me alone, facing the wall. “Think about what you’ve done!”

I tried to think but grew bored and scared, so I read through a file with my name on the front. I didn’t mean to, honest. She left it on the desk, and I couldn’t help it. Unfortunately, Kurt O’Hara displays signs of autism, with little empathy for his peers. Now, the file’s stuck inside my head. I don’t know what to do about it. What can I do?


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Eule Grey has settled, for now, in the north UK. She’s worked in education, justice, youth work, and even tried her hand at butter-spreading in a sandwich factory. Sadly, she wasn’t much good at any of them!

She writes novels, novellas, poetry, and a messy combination of all three. Nothing about Eule is tidy but she rocks a boogie on a Saturday night!

For now, Eule is she/her or they/them. Eule has not yet arrived at a pronoun that feels right.

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New Release Blitz: Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart by Marie S. Crosswell (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart

Author: Marie S. Crosswell

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/26/2024

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 49300

Genre: Contemporary Western, contemporary, Lit/genre fiction, Arizona, M/M, asexual, aromantic, bisexual, law enforcement, cowboy, platonic, companionship, crime/robbery, gun violence, bartenders, blue collar, friends to partners

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When Montgomery Clarke saves Deputy Sam Roswell’s life during an armed robbery, both men go home thinking they’ll never cross paths again. Instead, a friendship blossoms between them as they work together to track down a wanted man: the surviving robber who escaped the scene of the crime with a sack of cash.

Drawn to each other despite their starkly different personalities, Montgomery and Sam quickly bond in a way neither man has with anyone else in years. Their friendship awakens Sam’s long-buried and unexplored romantic feelings for men, while reviving Montgomery’s deepest longing: for a platonic life partner. Sparked by violence, Sam and Montgomery’s connection becomes cemented in yet another dangerous confrontation when they finally catch up to Joel Troutman, the robber on the run.

A year later, Montgomery and Sam are best friends with an exceptionally intimate relationship. What should be their first happy Christmas season together, however, suddenly turns sour when Montgomery gives Sam the cold shoulder without explanation. Brought together once again by crime—this time, one involving a teenage girl—Sam and Montgomery reckon with their feelings for each other. Will they remain friends or become partners?


Lone Star on a Cowboy Heart
Marie S. Crosswell © 2024
All Rights Reserved

Prescott, Arizona

September 2014

Sam Roswell stops for dinner at the Dog Bowl Diner in his civvies, his department-issued sidearm locked in his desk drawer at the sheriff’s office. He chats up his waitress just to feel better about eating alone, then watches the other people in the diner, half cop on the lookout for mischief and half wishing he could meet a new friend. There’s a young couple with a pair of restless kids who can’t stay seated longer than a minute, an old husband and wife tucked into a two-person booth, three men and a woman side by side at the chrome-rimmed counter, and some teenagers hanging out on the other side of the place. None of them pay him any attention.

Two men wearing black knit masks over their faces dart into the diner, each of them leading with a gun. Sam freezes in his seat, watching in disbelief as they split up to cover the room.

The man in a long-sleeved navy blue T-shirt moves into the more heavily populated section of the diner and shouts, “Everybody take out your wallets. Now!”

The second man, wearing a dark red T-shirt under his jacket, goes up to the counter and points his gun at the first employee he sees. “Open the register! Open it!”

The blonde waitress with big hair hurries to the cash register positioned at the right end of the counter and tries to obey, hands twitching and eyes panicked. She fails at her first attempt.

“Hurry up!” Red Tee yells, steel revolver gleaming in the white light of the ceiling bulbs.

The register drawer clicks and slides open, and the waitress yanks stacks of bills out of their compartments and drops them on the countertop.

“Put the money in the bag! Put it in the fucking bag!”

She scrambles for the cash with one hand, then shoves it into the cloth bag Red Tee slid onto the countertop. He snatches the bag away from her and passes it to his accomplice, who holds it in front of the family with kids.

“Put your wallets in the fucking bag and pass it on,” Blue Tee says to them. “Now!”

One of the children starts to cry, pink-faced and whimpering.

A boy sitting at the table of teenagers bolts for the door, but Red Tee gets hold of the hood on his sweatshirt and yanks him back.

“Where the fuck are you going?” Red Tee yells, wrapping his free arm around the boy’s neck and pressing his gun into the boy’s head. “Huh?”

One of the teen girls yelps.

Sam stands up and makes for Red Tee, plucking his badge off his belt as he goes. His pulse races, waves of adrenaline washing through him. He’s not thinking, his body drawn to the trouble like a piece of metal to a magnet.

“Hey, hey,” he says, too soft-spoken for the circumstance. He holds the badge in his hand, so everyone can see it. “Just calm down. The kid’s not going anywhere. Send him back to his seat, and you and your pal can get out of here.”

“A cop, huh?” Red Tee says, arm still wrapped around the teenager’s neck, the gun unrelenting against his skull. “We got us a fucking cop in here.”

Blue Tee glances over at Sam, still following the bag of money around his section of the diner as it changes hands.

“Where’s your gun, asshole?” Red Tee says to Sam.

“Let the boy go,” Sam replies. “You got your money. You don’t have to hurt anyone.”

Red Tee stares at him through the eyeholes in his mask, silent for a long beat, then pushes the teenager away from him. He points his gun at Sam’s chest.

“He don’t even have a fuckin’ gun,” says Blue Tee, the bag of money in his hand. “Don’t be stupid. Let’s fuckin’ go.”

Sam’s standing with his hands up in front of him, badge in the left.

Red Tee doesn’t budge, staring him down with the revolver.

“I said, let’s go,” Blue Tee barks.

“Fuck this cop,” says Red Tee as he cocks back the hammer on his revolver.



NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Marie S. Crosswell writes long fiction, short fiction, and poetry. Her novellas Texas, Hold Your Queens; Alchemy; Cold, Cold Water; and The Silence of Lightning are available online wherever digital books are sold. Her short fiction has appeared in Thuglit, Betty Fedora, Plots with Guns, Tough, and other indie crime fiction publications. She’s a graduate of Sarah Lawrence College where she studied creative writing and friendship. She lives in the American West. Visit her Website for more!


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New Release Blitz: Gifting a Dragon’s Heart by Mell Eight (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Gifting a Dragon’s Heart

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/19/2024

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 39600

Genre: Fantasy, royalty, hunters, dragons, soldiers, magic

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When he learns his father is dying, Roan leaves the wilds to return to the home he ran away from ten years prior. Roan knows the inevitable family reunion will be difficult, but then he meets Lyss, his former beau, who is the reason he had to leave. Roan doesn’t know what to feel or how to react to this older version of Lyss, but before he can get his emotions in order, a letter comes from the untamed wilds region telling him the town he’s called home for the last ten years is under attack.

Traveling back to the wilds accompanied by Lyss ought to give Roan time to figure out his feelings. However, the army, wyverns, and dragons all make finding time to even speak with Lyss difficult. Besides, ten years is a long time. When the battle is over, Roan and Lyss have their own separate lives to return to, assuming they both survive the fight to come.


Gifting a Dragon’s Heart
Mell Eight © 2024
All Rights Reserved

The sharply peaked roofs of Outpost came into view around noon as Roan followed the path beaten through tall, waving grass by generations of sturdy feet. Outpost had an official name on the maps, of course, but the locals simply called it what it was: an outpost station literally two steps from the start of the untamed wilds.

Roann replied, shrugging. “I like to send her gifts when I can.”

“Expensive gift,” Marius murmured, distracted by the blue skin. “Oh!” he added abruptly. “You got a letter last month.”

He stepped away from the bar to a lockbox kept along the back wall. He used the key around his neck to unlock the box and retrieve the letter for Roan.

“I sent the standard reply back to the return address, saying you were out in the field and would respond as soon as you could.”

Roan ripped open the envelope and pulled out the single piece of paper inside while Marius went back to the skins.

“Any hearts?” Marius asked, moving on to the red skin.

“Mar,” Roan replied, his tone as heavy as his frown. “You know you can’t sell a dragon’s heart.”

“Hah. You are the only roamer that follows that old adage, you realize. Besides, these are wyverns. No one’s seen a real dragon going on at least fifty years.”

“Dragon hearts can only be given as gifts,” Roan finished the second half of the adage, completely uncaring that wyverns were only the smaller, considerably less dangerous cousin to dragons. He had the hearts for every skin in his bag, and a separate bag in his personal safe with the rest he had gathered over the last few years. At some point, he would hire a security crew to transport them home to his sister for him, and since he had the skin, maybe now was a good time to organize that.

“Whatever you say,” Marius replied, unrolling the orange skin. “You ever change your mind, the heart is worth double what you earn from these skins.”

“Just pay me for the skins and forget about the hearts,” Roan said, sighing. He and Marius had this same conversation every time Roan came back to Outpost to sell the skins he had harvested and re-provision for his next trip to the wilds. After a few days of rest and relaxation, sleeping in real beds, and using an actual shower, Roan would be more than ready to return to the peaceful solitude of the wilds.

Roan finally unfolded the letter and found only a few lines of his sister’s loopy, angled writing inside.


I don’t know when you’ll get this message, but I hope you hear the news from me first. Father is dying. I know you and he had your differences; however, he has requested to see you one last time. If you receive my letter before he’s gone, please consider coming home. Even if you’re too late to see him, I could use a show of your support by having you at my side for a time as we go through the mourning period and transition to my taking over.

Please, please come home. I promise I will not do anything to prevent you from leaving when you’re ready to go, but I need you right now.

All my love,


“Damn.” Roan refolded the letter and tipped his head back, staring unseeing at the wooden beams of the ceiling. “Damn,” he repeated.

“Everything okay?” Marius asked.

Roan looked down, glad to be able to refocus on Marius rather than his swirling thoughts. While Roan had been reading, Marius had rolled the skins back up and had started counting out silver coins for payment. He had paused in his counting, one coin held in his hand just above the stack, and he had a concerned look on his face.

Roan shook his head. “My sister needs me to come home, so it looks like my next trip is heading inland. Once you’re done counting, could you bring me my box from the safe?”

“Inland? Damn is right. I’m sorry anything is dragging you there.”

He finished counting the coins and headed to the back of the bar, where a massive safe door took up a large section of the wall. Unlike the lockbox, this was a modern, high-tech safe. Roan and other roamers paid for the extra protection, though. Marius placed his hand on the biometric scanner, letting it read his fingerprints and take a DNA sample from his sweat. The door clicked a moment later and swung outward. Marius vanished inside, returning after a few seconds with a large metal box with Roan’s name written on a piece of paper taped to the top.

Roan took the box, scooped up the coins, the green skin, and his letter, and stuffed it all into his much lighter pack.

“Thanks, Mar. There a room at the inn?” he asked.

“There should be. You need anything else?”

“Just to figure out when the next train leaves,” Roan replied.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

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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New Release Blitz: Fox Hounds by Lia Connor (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Fox Hounds

Author: Lia Connor

Publisher: Changeling Press

Cover Artist: Renee’ George

Release Date: March 15, 2024

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male/Male/Female

Length: 45 pages

Genre: Action Adventure, New Releases, Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Romance, Romantic Comedy

Themes: 20th Century, Big Beautiful Women, Bisexual, Multisexual, & Pansexual, Multicultural & Interracial, Multiple Partners, Reverse Harem, Second Edition, Shapeshifters

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Foxy Lady…

Reyna’s a skilled thief and the lightest-fingered pickpocket around. Several professionals would love to have her on their side, if only to be able to keep an eye on her. What they don’t know is that Reyna’s nickname isn’t just fantasy — she’s a shapeshifting fox and as clever and wily as they come. No one can catch her if she doesn’t want to be caught, and so far no one’s come close to winning her over.

Not, that is, until the hounds pick up her trail. Jonas, Si and Boone, lovers as well as skilled tricksters, have the Fox’s scent and they intend to woo her, outsmart her and win her to their team. As hounds in name as well as in shapeshifting nature, they know they’re just as good at getting the job done as Reyna is. All they have to do is catch this thief and get her not only on their side, but in their shared bed.

And they won’t give up until they get the job done.


Fox Hounds
Second Edition
Lia Connor
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2024 Lia Connor

Three dogs climbing from an alley to the third-floor balcony of a nightclub would, Jonas knew, have raised a few eyebrows. If anyone had been around to see what happened next, they’d probably have fainted.

Three dogs clustered together on the roof, nosing one another in approval. One morphic flash later — a sight that’d make any human’s eyes water and their head ache — and three men crouched above the club — and more importantly, beneath a window.

Jonas tested the surface of the glass. “Bulletproof and cutter-proof. Gotta hand it to the owners. They think they know their security.”

“Want to try the lock picks?” Si patted his pocket. He’d concealed his tools so well that unless someone stripped him bare they wouldn’t have known he had anything more dangerous on him than his charming smile.

“No.” Jonas studied the window. He rolled his sleeves up to mid-forearm. “I think this might just work better.” He lifted and the window rose smoothly as silk. The ripe scent of perfume, gin and sex from the club rolled out in powerful waves. “It’s like they bathe in it. Eau de Horny.”

Si wasn’t listening. “Wait, the window’s unlocked? No alarms, no sirens, no pepper gas booby traps? Someone knew we were coming.”

“I’d say it’s likely. I’d even say it was the Fox.”

Si swore softly and with great respect.

“Sounds like she’s throwing a party to welcome us, too. Listen to that racket, would you? No better place to hide than in a crowd,” Jonas said. “Nothing beats a classy lady except a crafty classy dame.”

“There’s got to be at least a hundred people in there,” Boone said in awe. He bumped shoulders with Si and head-butted Jonas in the arm. “Do you think they know what she is?”

“Doubtful. The Fox likes playing human.” Jonas scratched idly behind Boone’s ear. “Besides, doesn’t matter. She’s led us on a wild chase, but the end game is going to be one hundred percent worth it. Two forms and they both have their uses, boys. We found the Fox’s current den on all fours, and now we sweep her off her feet as men.”

“So you say. I don’t think it’s going to be that easy,” Si objected. “Fox is the best thief on the West Coast, acknowledged by all, so God only knows how many offers –”

“And threats,” Boone butted in soberly.

“– and threats,” Si agreed, “she must have turned down before us. I’d bet dozens have tried and failed to get her on their low-down teams.”

“Probably, but they’re not us.” Jonas lifted the window fully open. Sufficiently tall and wide enough to admit three full-grown conmen, even if one of them was Boone, who’d played fullback before his teammates became aware of his half-canine nature and drop-kicked him off the team. “Here’s where the hunt really gets fun. Trust me. Have I ever led you wrong?”

Si grumbled under his breath, then said, louder, “You know, someday you’re going to be wrong. I just hope I’m fast enough to stay ahead of the shock wave of shit when that day comes along.”

“You know how I know you love the biz?” Jonas ruminated. “The happier you get, the louder you complain. Right now, you’re almost ecstatic. You’d shrivel up and die without this to keep you feeling lively. That, and you think the sun rises and sets on me.”

“Don’t push your luck.”

“I never stop. Life without risk isn’t life at all.” Jonas nuzzled the corner of Si’s mouth. “Don’t try to con a conman.”

Si rolled his eyes, but despite that he bit and licked at Jonas’s lips, teasing him around for a proper kiss, dirty, wet, tongues sliding together.

“Careful you two don’t get carried away and fall,” Boone rumbled, ever protective even when amused. “It’s a long way down and even shapeshifters go splat.”

“Yep, that’ll kill the mood.” Si nudged Boone’s chest. Lightly.

“Settle down, boys.” Jonas poked his head through the window to assess the room beyond. “Empty. I’m betting it’s for storage. Sounds like the party’s directly below, too.”

“A room full of L.A.’s brightest and most beautiful pretending to be bad boys and girls,” Si said. “I like it.”

“I like the chase.” Jonas breathed in, searching for a trace of the Fox’s unique, tantalizing scent. “Once we’re inside, you follow my every signal. This is a three-pronged attack and I need you both sharp if we want the Fox to take our bait.”

“You honestly think we have a shot at getting her on our team?” Boone asked dubiously.

Jonas turned, his balance perfect, to take Boone by the nape and kiss him quiet. “That was for luck, but if you ask me, I think we have as good a chance as any. Maybe better. We have something she wants. You lose all the battles you don’t even try to win.”

Boone grinned big and bright. “That’s good enough for me.”

“I knew I could count on you.” Jonas held out his fist for his hounds to bump knuckles on. “One for all, and all for one. Let’s catch ourselves a Fox.”

Purchase at Changeling Press

Meet the Author

Lia Connor lives in the South, but her job takes her almost everywhere but. Her laptop is her best friend. Lia loves stories about BBW’s, hot, hot, hot threesomes and wily shifters who get into (and out of) all kinds of trouble…


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New Release Blitz: Belega by Dianne Hartsock (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Belega

Series: The Karthagans, Book One

Author: Dianne Hartsock

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/12/2024

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 99600

Genre: Fantasy, fantasy, magic, sorcerers, mage, psychic powers

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The Karthagans have regained their ancient powers of manipulating nature, but at the price of madness. In their lust for control, they’ve destroyed their island and most of their race. They come now to Belega, where one of them, Camron, seeks domination over the known world. The Mage has come from the northern continent of Sennia to bring peace, but finding his strength no match for the coming struggle, he passes his abilities on to Natan, who only desires a simple life.

Now only Natan has the ability to stop Camron, but the personal cost is more than he imagines. It is only with the combined strength of his friends, his Karthagan lover, Kavi, and his deep desire to bring lasting peace to the earth, that he finds the courage to overcome Camron and restore balance to the world.


Dianne Hartsock © 2024
All Rights Reserved

“I have you.”

Natan rose into a low crouch from the scrub brush, careful not to scrape his cloak against the foliage, and searched his memory for the trick Kavi had taught him. Oh, yes. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, releasing all worries. His expectations. Letting go. The clip of the horse’s hooves echoed in his mind, and he concentrated on that, the smell of the horse, the feel of its hide, the oats on its breath. He became aware of a vague fear in the animal’s mind.

But the tenuous connection broke without time to try again as the soldier leading the roan brought him to a stop, his gaze sweeping the path ahead, alert. Gathering his scattered wits as best he could, Natan lunged to his feet and dove for the soldier’s legs. They went down hard, Natan gasping at the whoosh of air against his cheek as the horse reared, hooves barely missing him. Knowing he was no match for the soldier physically, he scrambled to jab a knee into the man’s back, then drew his thin knife and pressed it against the pulse at his throat, feeling him stiffen.

“Hold very still,” he warned. The soldier didn’t move as the keen blade inadvertently nicked his skin. Recalling Kavi’s imprisonment in an Amara prison, Natan gritted his teeth and swung his arm back, then brought the hilt of the knife down sharply on his vulnerable skull. With a grunt, the man went limp. Natan climbed to his feet, cursing under his breath as the horse disappeared up the trail. He rolled the man over so his face wouldn’t be in the dirt, making sure he could breathe without difficulty.

Frowning at the thick trees crowding them, he left his captive a moment to scout the vicinity, at last coming upon a small clearing off the trail. It took some effort to drag the unconscious soldier to the spot, and a relief to roll the heavy body down the last few feet. He retrieved leather strips from his pack, bound the man’s hands and feet to a small sapling, then examined the soldier’s head once again. Although the purplish welt had swollen, the bleeding had stopped.

Natan watched the soldier a moment and shook his head in disgust when he didn’t waken. “Hit him too hard,” he muttered, angry with himself. He built a small fire as the air grew chilly and sat with his back to a tree while he waited for the soldier to regain consciousness. Darkness descended on the forest, and he chewed his lips in growing anxiety. His dear friend, Captain Bryon of Amara, along with Lieutenant Jaden, had gone to Nagal to petition the Mage to help them recover Kavi. Had they reached the city yet? If so, Natan would need to be at the Lake of Glass to meet with them in a few short days. A lifetime, as long as Kavi remained captive.

He sharpened his knife on a whetstone to pass the time while the soldier remained unconscious. As the stars came out, an ache crept into his chest as he thought of Kavi and how they used to lie awake, watching for falling stars. Natan would make them tea in a little pot over the fire; then they’d wrap in warm blankets and talk quietly while the sky wheeled overhead. Sometimes they made love, Kavi’s warm sleek body pliant as Natan searched out new ways to draw those sweet breathy moans from his lips.

And then it had all ended. Natan closed his eyes at the jab of pain in his heart. The Nagal soldiers had come to their camp and dragged Kavi away, laughing when Natan struggled, and methodically beat him senseless. That had been two weeks ago, and every attempt he’d made to find his lover had failed. The last time he’d been in Amara he’d been threatened with imprisonment himself.

He would do Kavi no good behind iron bars, he reminded himself.

Natan opened his eyes to find the captive staring at him from where he’d slumped against the tree. Natan went over and helped him to a sitting position.

“What’s your name?” he asked with ice in his voice. The man continued to stare at him, insolent.

Natan looked him over carefully. “Let me guess. You’re dressed as a Nagal soldier, though you’re obviously not one. Maybe a deserter? Maybe a Barkuit spy?” He watched the soldier’s face as he named the rival country, then leaned closer to whisper, “What of Kavi?”

“That trash?” the man asked in surprise, then yelped when Natan lunged at him, knife slipping into his hand.

“Say that again and I’ll slit your throat. Now, what is your name?”

“Captain Syros Reed.”

Natan sat back on his heels, fury hot in his chest. “Speak.”

“I could tell you where they mean to bury him,” Syros drawled, holding Natan’s gaze, and smiled slightly at his sharply indrawn breath. “That is, once Landlan has drawn the secret to the Karthagans’ power over nature out of him. The power the Barkuit army would kill to use in our coming conflict. Kavi was alive the last time I saw him, but I heard they mean to bury him soon. If you hurry, he may still be breathing. I don’t know.”

“And you didn’t help him?” With a sudden enraged cry Natan drove his knife into the sapling inches from Syros’s face. “He’d better be alive, for your sake.”

He left his water skin for Syros, should the man succeed in freeing himself, then gave the soldier no more thought as he snatched up his pack and settled into the long run ahead, determined to be at the Lake of Glass on time.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

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