Book Blitz: A Barista for Christmas by J Hali Steele (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  A Barista for Christmas

Author: J Hali Steele

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: Dec 8, 2023

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 64 pages

Genre: Romance, Christmas Romance, Gay, Second Chance, Age Gap

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

With a lot of hard work, Aspen Ferris’ dream of owning his own coffee shop has finally come true. Unfortunately, renovations are almost complete on a nearby mall that will house a chain coffee establishment. Not only that, Christmas is a few weeks away! When the electricity goes out at the mall, the construction company’s owner visits Asp’s store. Insulting the pushy brute gets Aspen thoroughly told off and… kissed! A kiss he can’t forget.

Dandridge St. Clare speeds to his worksite to handle an electric outage and misses his morning coffee. Locating a place to grab his caffeine fix, he’s offended by the barista at Your Coffee Cup. Anxious and upset, Dan pulls the man over the counter and can’t resist kissing the handsome jackass. On top of that, he enjoys the best cup of coffee ever. More unsettling still, he can’t erase the taste or feel of the man’s mouth. Dandridge returns for more of both.

The holidays are approaching and neither man expects much. Both get more than they bargained for.

Excerpt

A Barista for Christmas
J. Hali Steele
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 J. Hali Steele

Three stores from the corner, a wall of plate glass gave Aspen Ferris a great view all the way to the end of the block. He removed his net cap as he watched a big silver pickup emblazoned with a Rayburn & St. Clare Construction logo tool around the corner, causing a car to slam on brakes in the intersection. Tires screeching turned pedestrians’ heads. “Did you see that?”

“Wow!” Eric Winters, Asp’s oldest friend and partner, gawked over the counter. “Close call.”

“Animals. They’re animals.” Asp finished restocking the sugar packets in the ceramic bowls on each table, checking napkin holders and filling glasses with wooden stirrers as he made his rounds.

“Asp, don’t stoop to the level of name calling.”

“It’s true.” His mood darkened under Eric’s scolding. “They’re stone-aged he-men.”

“For goodness sakes. Stop.”

Almost complete, the renovations to the stores in the nearby strip mall included competition Aspen resented. The Bean and Leaf had already opened, and they were hanging dreadfully festive Christmas decorations all over the damn store. Aspen hated Christmas. Morning rush at his shop, Your Coffee Cup, had dwindled to a crawl. Staring out the window brought him no comfort. “Can you believe The Bean and Leaf is already prepared for the holidays? Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away and I haven’t even purchased decorations.” Malls nearer the city were probably alight with holiday cheerfulness and teeming with shoppers Asp had no wish to join. It seemed a trip to Walmart was in his future as he’d volunteered to shop for decorations, thinking it might help him get a handle on his angst regarding Christmas.

“At least business was brisk this morning.” Air huffed from Eric’s mouth. “Get prepared, Asp. It is our first winter open and people will decorate all around us. I know it’s not your thing.”

Not anymore. Aspen ignored his partner’s hint. “Traffic is picking up. It looks like the whole town is heading to grab a fancy cup of coffee and factory-produced pastry.”

Eric wiped around the coffee pot he had filled before coming to stand at a table near Aspen. “Most travel past here to get on the highway into Philly. You know that.”

“They’re going to kill our business just when we hoped to hire permanent staff.” Open twelve hours a day, six days a week, Aspen and Eric took turns working Saturdays with help of part time high school students. Sundays they were closed. “If we only had a few more months to get established. Why did the section of the building housing The Bean and Leaf have to be finished with its renovations before other shops?”

“Asp, Rayburn & St. Clare Construction provides jobs for struggling families in town.”

“We can’t compete with chain shop prices.” Asp sat on the windowsill. Pulling his legs up, he tucked knees under his chin.

“Don’t put your dirty shoes up there!”

“Sorry.” He settled his feet back on the floor. “Our coffee is better. Richer.”

“More expensive. Lowering prices, we might scrape by until people discover Your Coffee Cup serves the best in town. For now, Asp, we could buy pastries in bulk and forego homemade from the bakery across town. Maybe we should consider staying open later.”

Your Coffee Cup is not a restaurant, Eric. We agreed six in the morning to get the early traffic and close at two. Now we’re coming in at five to set up and staying after five cleaning up since we serve food until four.”

“Business is better.”

“I yielded to your suggestion of salads and sandwiches along with a soda fountain, but this is a coffee house and we’re green. Doesn’t the environment mean anything?”

“Adding food, I don’t know if we’re just a coffee shop anymore. Our bottom line has improved with regular customers stopping in for meals to take home.” Eric sighed. “Hell, I don’t know if the idea of serving only coffee was ever feasible.”

“Our salads have become popular and most folks seem to appreciate our meats are sliced fresh for each sandwich.” Shaking his head, Asp added, “They’ll want french fries and a pickle next.”

“You’re right. We better order potato chips.” Eric laughed so hard, the table he rested his hip on squeaked against tile.

“Smart ass.”

Eric sighed. “If we had a dime for every time someone asked for a carryout coffee cup…”

Your coffee cup. Bring your favorite travel container or we provide mugs they can use should they remain on site. And we do have carryout cups.”

“Go-green paper cups which sometimes spring a leak before they get out the door. And I’m doubling them to alleviate complaints.”

“I hoped we could make a difference.”

“I hoped to entice more of the workers from the site to at least see what we have to offer,” Eric shot back.

“Last thing we need. A bunch of rowdy construction workers tracking in.”

“If I recall correctly, big with an air of rowdiness is just your type. Anyway, they’ll be gone soon enough.” Eric winked. “Your loss. You need to get laid, my friend.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

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

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. A winning ex-quarter mile drag racer, J. Hali often angles to get her butt back in the driver’s seat!

Multi-published, best-selling 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 her favorite beverage of the moment.

Website | Facebook | Goodreads

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $10.00 Changeling Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: Sugar and Ice by Eule Grey (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Sugar and Ice

Series: Kitten and Blonde, Book 1.5

Author: Eule Grey

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/21/2023

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 26100

Genre: Holiday Paranormal, Contemporary, paranormal, lesbian, British/Yorkshire, holiday/Christmas, news bloggers, mystery, witch, ghost hijinks, bakers, holiday baking, humorous, over forty, disability-confident, neurodivergence

Add to Goodreads

Description

Sugar, ice, and bumps in the night…

After a thrilling year of ghost-whispering, monster-chasing, and blogging for the Echo, Mave Kitten is keen to abandon her witchy hat for a well-earned break. Snowflakes are drifting in; the office is stuffed with fruit cake. How to win the pub karaoke without cheating (too much) is all that’s left to worry about.

Aside from fiddling the office’s debts and choosing a suitable karaoke costume, Lisa Blonde is also ready for the party season, not forgetting a crate of beer. As long as Mave’s happy, Lisa’s happy.

But best-laid plans can come unstuck for witches and their leather-clad familiars. The ghost of Jacky Frost blows in with the snow, demanding a playmate. How can Mave and Lisa say no to the dancing queen of ice? Even ghosts deserve a Christmas.

The playful ice queen goes viral, and the Echo unexpectedly gains hundreds of readers. Only a few gremlins remain: What of the Echo’s overdraft? Who’ll win the karaoke? Where’s Lisa’s motorcycle?

Kitten and Blonde: Holiday Baking Hijinks Mostly Paranormal. Sometimes alien. Always gentle.

Excerpt

Sugar and Ice
Eule Grey © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The first fluffy snowflakes floated past the office window on Friday afternoon three weeks before Christmas. Mesmerised by crystalline sugar bombs descending in battalions of tiny white parachutes, bursting with glee, I hurried to the window.

“Eeeeee. Ooooo. Snowwwww.”

The weightless descent of the snowflakes eased the tension gnarling up my muscles. My shoulders—hunched past my ears from stress—relaxed for the first time in months.

I’d always loved the snow and everything it brought. Frozen puddles, frost-stiffened leaves, snow angels, death-defying sledges, snowball fights, hot chocolates heaped with marshmallows, and sweet kiddie choirs.

During the annual festivities the Echo was due to close for two weeks, and I couldn’t wait. Everyone was reeling from a long and arduous year, including yours truly. Fifteen hauntings, two monster searches, an alien brothel, and a tryst with the lizard lady of Ladybower Reservoir had fallen into my pile of to-dos during the last twelve months. Consequently, I was ready to hang up my witch toolkit for a few days of well-earned rest.

“Oo, Lise, look!”

The boss held up one finger, rigid with tension. “Two minutes.”

I held my breath.

The root of our anxiety was the financial report Lisa had all but completed. Compiling the lengthy document had taken months of work and required much patience from each member of the Echo’s employees—me, Lisa, and Penelope.

Our workforce enjoyed an equal distribution of labour. My contribution had been to make tea and to keep the biscuit jar filled to bursting. Lisa’s had been to manipulate monetary figures through a sweary haze, one eye closed. Penelope snoozed, paws in the air, perhaps dreaming of overdrafts.

Finally, at three anxious minutes to two, Lisa furiously poked one finger against her keyboard before heaving an expansive sigh that probably reached the northern pole. “Finished. Delivered. I doubt we’ll still be in business by Easter.” She pulled her Medusa face and made the slit throat gesture. “Accountants, ugh. Why must they be puritanical about zeros? It wasn’t like I meant to mix up the thousands with the tens.”

I was too relieved to listen well. The report had been on my mind since autumn when the accountant had unexpectedly appeared, brandishing threats of closure. Now it was finished, my brain demanded a rest. “Mm. Easily done. Well done, babe.”

It had been fifteen months since my employment commenced at the Echo. A day hadn’t passed without Lisa proclaiming the tiny newspaper where we worked debt-ridden and doomed. And yet, the journal continued churning out local stories and offering a home to our resident kitty, Penelope Sardine. Somehow, we three made the Echo work. My blogs about the paranormal and Lisa’s ‘cunning’ grant proposals brought in enough revenue to continue another month and then another, even if our wages had plummeted to the frugal depths of bugger all. With all of my heart, I trusted Lisa to secure the necessary dosh—she was leather-clad, six feet tall, and oozing with grr.

There were other concerns to think about. Lisa’s Christmas present, Dad’s arthritis, and—elixir of life—the fast-approaching Christmas karaoke showdown at The Grouse. Lisa and I had won the big prize back at Easter but later lost the Halloween crown to the vampire sisters of Whitby. Heck, I was bitter. A free tankard of Witches Tipple ale was not to be belittled. With finances tricky, any win was a grin, especially when accompanied by thunderous cheering. Even the pub gremlin, Pat, had admitted our rendition of “Bat out of Hell” had been impactful enough to shatter glass, though the stingy bastard hadn’t said we were good. Huh.

A firm grip on my shoulders saved me from the murky world of memories and brought me back into the office. I loved Lisa’s shoulder massages, often coinciding with a wee cuddle.

She pushed aside my hair and tickled my neck. “I’m on edge now. What’re you dreaming about, Mauvery? Is it me?”

I answered honestly; my voice turned mushy from the intimate pressure of her hands against my skin and the subsequent promise of spending the night at hers. “Always.” Lisa filled most of my waking hours and most of my sleeping time. “Forget about the report. It’s done, and there’s nothing more we can do. What are we going to sing at the karaoke? Only three weeks till the big day.” I couldn’t help a soupçon of yippee from entering my voice. “We’d better get cracking with rehearsals if we’re going to beat the fanged sisters.”

She nibbled my neck. “True. Did you know you taste of gingerbread?”

We hugged into Friday afternoon, a cherished time to forget niggly worries and welcome in the heady pleasures of pub singing. Lisa and I adored karaoke. Our weekly practice precipitated a wealth of welcome shenanigans, such as snogging and boogie-boogie. Both were vital components of a healthy life.

As Lisa’s nibbles reached the point of no return, more substantial snowflakes floated down in ever-increasing battalions.

I waved my pen towards the window. “Have you seen the forecast?” Because we both biked to work, we scrutinised the weather like meteorologists. A patch of black ice could potentially mean a broken wheel or worse. In our mountainous part of the north, snow could mean a total shutdown of roads and passes. At the first hint of snow, Yorkshire folk took up arms. Bus drivers refused to leave the depot, trains remained safely at stations, and workers hurtled through the white to get home however they could.

I wasn’t worried about a little white stuff. Lisa would take care of things, and her cottage was only a few miles from the Echo. We could walk to hers during heavy snowfall and snuggle up with Tom, her younger brother, for the weekend.

She blew a raspberry on my neck. “Meant to be a flutter today and then nothing till next week. The gritters have been out. He’s a devil in disguise.”

My poor brain—scatty at times—struggled to follow the conversational thread from ice into devils. I naturally assumed the devil to whom she referred was the accountant who’d chastised Lisa for glossing over the size of the Echo’s overdraft. “Disguised as what?”

Lisa perched her lovely self on the only posh stool we possessed—pink, transparent, bought from Salts Mill, no less—and squinted into the snowflakes gathering on the window ledge. “Oh? I never thought of costumes.” An irresistible energy lit her face. She rubbed her hands together gleefully. “Now you’re talking! We’d need wigs, and you could get away with a sexy white suit.” She flashed her molars. “The vampire sirens won’t stand a chance. You’re a genius, Mauve Mave.”

By then, I’d exited the arena of confusion and skidded right into the land of clueless. The only answer written on Lisa’s face was a glowing excitement you didn’t see enough of anymore. People were more often pinched about money and how to heat the house. The pursuit of fun for no other reason than its own sake seemed to have passed into yesterday, along with other stalwarts such as yo-yos.

I willingly dived into the glee shining from her eyes. Weary of the stresses and strains of life, I, too, ached to forget about adulthood, if only for a while. To live within a moment rather than being hammered by the past and the future.

So I agreed to her suggestions though I had no clue what she was on about. “Yeah! Wig and white suit.”

Lisa leaped to her feet and punched the air energetically. Her top rode up to reveal a very kissable belly button. The spectacle was marvellous, and I’d rather have turned into a toad than crush her enthusiasm. Hence my mini Friday dance. In the heady chaos, I clean forgot to worry about the dreaded report or if we’d have a job come January.

Just as a sprinkle of pure magic illuminated the afternoon, Lisa had to throw a figurative spanner into my happy cauldron. In a sexy, lasso-like action, she deftly threw me my coat.

“C’mon, chick. We’ve done enough work for one day. Let’s visit Jalila. There’s something you need to see. The roads are meant to be okay until Sunday. If we run, we’ll catch the twenty-past bus.

Purchase

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: sub/Dom by Rab Green (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  sub/Dom

Author: Rab Green

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/14/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 25000

Genre: Contemporary BDSM, businessmen, bears, dark, sex in public places, BDSM

Add to Goodreads

Description

Twelve hours wearing his collar—that’s how it starts. But where does it lead when you give yourself over to what you want the most? From sessions on cam to real-life meets, from twelve hours to three nights to nine years, handing over control can bring satisfaction and frustration in equal measure, and maybe something deeper than you could ever have hoped for.

Excerpt

Excerpt
sub/Dom
Rab Green © 2023
All Rights Reserved

I can’t do this.

We’ve only just entered the club, walked down the stairs, haven’t even got to the coat check at the bar, but this feeling in my gut is… What? What is it?

The half dark and bar lights, the men standing around, talking or checking each other out, voices raised against the thumping background music. And this feeling in my gut is—a thread, yanking me back to the first time I ever set foot in a gay bar. Standing here now, full-grown man, the years of experience and confidence I’ve built up are wiped away like all that time didn’t matter. Overwhelmed and exposed, desire laid bare to be judged.

I’d assumed tonight would be a fetish night, and tho there are a few guys stripped to the waist, one or two stripped down to their underwear, everyone else is dressed in their street clothes. And I see them, looking at him in his leather chaps and jeans, and looking at me, more like them, in plain jeans and T-shirt, except for what I’m wearing round my neck: the leather collar he put on me.

He’d said the walk from the apartment to the club was only five minutes. He either lied or got lost; we took the long scenic route. He took us through the busiest, well-lit streets of a Friday night in the city, so the collar round my neck could be seen by everyone and anyone who cared to look. And with him walking beside me—the sheer fucking leather horniness of him—I felt obvious and on show. By the time we got to the club, my brain felt fried and exhausted.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see him watching me, and I know my panic is starting to show.

“I have to go.”

“Go?”

“I have to leave, I have to go—”

I stop myself from saying home because that would make me sound like a child, even tho that’s where I want to be.

“I want to go back to the apartment.”

“I don’t.”

He takes a slight step away from me, looks me up and down, and waits for me to admit—

“I can’t do this. Can I have the key?”

“To the apartment?”

There’s a small padlock on the collar; he has that key too.

“Yes, the apartment key. Can I—?”

“No.”

“But I want—”

“I don’t want to leave. There’s only one key, and I’m not giving it to you. I’m not going to waste my night wondering if you’ll still be awake to let me in or if you’d even still be there when I get back.”

“So what am I—?”

“You have your phone and your wallet. If you want to leave, find somewhere else to stay.”

“But—”

Is this it?

“My bag is at the apartment.”

“You can pick it up in the morning.”

Our first proper meet, ending like this.

I touch the collar.

“But what about—?”

“The key’s back at the apartment.”

“So I have to wear it? I can’t take it off if I leave?”

He shrugs.

“It’s leather. It’s not metal, it’s not welded on. If you want to take it off, you’ll take it off.”

I see it all fall away.

The engulfment of me, by him, that I’d willingly stepped into, gone.

Nothing’s keeping me here; he’s not keeping me here. I could leave, get a room in one of those dingy hotels round the station, stay there, get my bag in the morning, get the train home, all done, all doable—and it’s horrible to imagine.

He steps back towards me, hooks two fingers under the collar, pulls my face close to his.

“Twelve hours wearing my collar—that was the deal. I’m not the one going to break it.”

There’s a long bench attached to the wall to the side of the stairs we came down. He walks over and takes a seat, sits there, watching me, with his hands on his knees, legs wide apart, heavy boots planted solidly on the ground. And I know that position. It’s how he sat in the chair in the apartment earlier this evening.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Rab Green is a Scottish writer and artist living in London. He can be contacted via Twitter and his personal website.

Website | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: Bitten by the Bond by Elaine White (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Bitten by the Bond

Series: Surviving Vihaan, Book 2.5

Author: Elaine White

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/14/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 21900

Genre: Paranormal, bonded mates, friends to lovers, hurt-comfort, MM Romance, rescue mission, road trip, slow burn/UST, wolf shifters

Add to Goodreads

Description

Travelling to Dnara to find the exiled Vihaans sounded like a great idea. Except…Dnara is nothing like home. Homesick, bored, and confused by the way Jude’s eyes keep drifting over him, being in Dnara brings only chaos and uncertainty into Gale’s life.

With Jude doing everything but climbing into his lap to make his attraction clear, yet putting on the brakes at the strangest times, it’s up to Gale to make the first move and claim his mate. Men might never have been on his radar before, but Gale isn’t about to ignore the true mate bond he thought he would never find.

Jude can fight all he wants, but no one denies the bond. Not when his words bark ‘back off’ and his eyes scream ‘claim me’. Besides, Gale never was any good at doing what he was told.

Excerpt

Bitten by the Bond
Elaine White © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
mid-October

“What fucked up weather is this?” Gale frowned, extending a hand past the shelter of the front door. The raindrops hit like tiny ice needles.

Drew handed him an umbrella. “Rain.”

It didn’t look like any rain Gale had ever experienced. This was his first trip to Dnara and he didn’t like what he’d seen so far or how it made him feel.

Rolling his eyes, Drew opened the umbrella and walked out in a three-layered top, tight jeans, and ankle boots to stand under the contraption.

Gale adjusted the weird coat that crinkled with every movement. “I’ll wear the damned coat but I’m not using an umbrella.” He stepped outside to the side of the front door onto the path extending in a slope on the left.

Jude didn’t look any happier as he emerged in his jacket and pulled up the hood. Behind, Isaac hugged his stomach and slipped under Drew’s umbrella.

Janet walked out in little more than a tank top and tight jeans. “This isn’t rain,” she complained with a sniff. “It’s a good piss.”

Jude snorted, following Drew along the path from the fraternity house, wide enough for two to walk side by side, the surrounding ground a mushy swamp where the grass gave way to mud.

Gale hated the poor way Dnarans cared for the earth, the weather, and the multitude of devices they couldn’t live without, like the mobile gadgets that controlled every detail of their lives. Give him an armchair by the fire, a warm bed and solitude during the rain seasons, freedom to walk outside on the first day of sunlight to a refreshed land, and good company over a home-brewed beer.

When Keon had asked for volunteers to travel to Dnara and recover those Vihaans exiled from their packs, Gale thought it would be easy. He didn’t expect it to take weeks.

Eliseo had done his best to prepare them, letting the fraternity brothers handle the electronic tasks, leaving them to do the leg work. But Gale missed home, the simplicity and ease of the pack, of knowing every member, their history, and their story, as well as he knew his own. Here, everyone was a stranger. The fraternity brothers acted, behaved, and functioned as a pack, but they weren’t m’weko.

They weren’t home.

Gale nudged Jude and raised an eyebrow at his new roommate. “You got a smoke?”

Patting the jacket pockets, Jude pulled out a packet and handed over two long rolls of Vihaan fottai, a special herbal mixture.

“Fuck!” Gale grabbed him by the neck to kiss his temple. “You’re my new favourite person.”

Jude shook his head in exasperation and tucked the packet into his jacket, making sure to zip the pocket. Extracting a lighter from his jeans, he lit Gale’s smoke then took the other and inhaled deeply.

He closed his eyes at the mix of herbs, the sense of home. The smell was unequivocally Vihaan. The pine of the trees from E’Boolou’s largest forest, the shaved wood of working with timber, the juniper of his favourite beer, a salty aroma from cooked rosson over a spit. Home.

He sighed in approval. “I owe you.”

“Don’t make promises you can’t keep,” Jude cautioned, eyes glazed with the same reminiscence.

Gale didn’t argue. For this, no price was too high. There was nothing like having a piece of home when he was far from it. He’d take what he could get in case he was unlucky enough not to make it back. At least he still had Jude, his roommate, the guy he’d spent countless missions with. The man he’d spent weeks alone with, in a tiny boundary hut, taking their turn to protect the pack borders. The kinship and family bond bred by serving together, in isolation, didn’t compare to what he felt now.

There was nothing brotherly about what shot through his head every time he felt Jude’s eyes on him. Gale had never known a connection like this.

Janet and Marlan were home too but in a different way. A way that didn’t leave his nerves buzzing and heart thumping.

Whatever Dnara had done started something he had no idea how to finish.

“Here we are,” Drew called, distracting his attention from the fottai between his lips.

“What is this?” Janet asked, disgust dripping from every word.

Their guide frowned at the window that showcased a mass of humans standing at various counters. “A bar,” Drew replied in confusion. “You know, a place to drink? With friends.” He glanced between them for a sign of recognition.

Eyeing the building, Gale took another puff. “Why do you need a building to meet friends for a drink?” He didn’t understand Dnara. The rules, the insistence of creating special events or places or inventions when nature already provided what they needed. If they didn’t want to get wet, they should stay out of the rain. If they wanted to meet for a beer, what was wrong with their homes or the forest?

Laughing, Drew opened the door and stood within its shelter to lower the umbrella. “I’ll explain later. The guy is, according to his Facebook page, a bartender. He lives in the city, so this is the best time and place to find him,” he reasoned though half those words didn’t make sense to Gale.

He’d learned what those white signs with red lines meant though. It’s place on the bar door made Gale plant his feet. “No.” He smiled when Drew frowned and took another drag. “I’m not stomping out a fottai because there’s a sign on a fucking door. You can’t get fottai outside of Vihaan.” He held out the smoke for Drew to see.

Drew spoke under his breath. “God help me.” When he looked Gale in the eye, he nodded. “Fine. You stay with Jude to enjoy your smoke. Janet and Isaac will come with me to help this non-Vihaan recognise a native Vihaan.” He held the door open for the others. “I wish I could say I had a better way to spend my time, but this is for Keon,” he mumbled as he stepped inside.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Elaine White is the author of multi-genre MM romance, celebrating ‘love is love’ and offering diversity in both genre and character within her stories.

Growing up in a small town and fighting cancer in her early teens taught her that life is short and dreams should be pursued. She lives vicariously through her independent, and often hellion characters, exploring all possibilities within the romantic universe.

The Winner of two Watty Awards – Collector’s Dream (An Unpredictable Life) and Hidden Gem (Faithfully) – and an Honourable Mention in 2016’s Rainbow Awards (A Royal Craving) Elaine is a self-professed geek, reading addict, and a romantic at heart.

Website | Facebook | TwitterInstagram | Pinterest

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Book Blitz: In Too Deep by Alex Winters (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  In Too Deep

Series: The Deep End 1

Author: Alex Winters

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: Nov 3

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

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

Length: 95 pages

Genre: Romance, New Adult, Contemporary Women’s Fiction, Second Chance, Multiple Partners

Synopsis

Quinn Hampton can hardly believe his eyes when he sees his former lover, Dash Thatcher, buying beer at the Quick Pik in their quiet little hometown of Lost Lake, Tennessee. It’s been three years since they last saw each other at high school graduation, but it doesn’t take long for the two to catch up. A few beers lead to an invitation to spend the night at Quinn’s family lake house while it’s being restored for the summer. The two wake the next morning and eagerly make up for lost time, naked and writhing in each other’s arms.

But Quinn and Dash aren’t the only two ex-lovers reuniting this summer. As they saunter into Brickhouse Brewery for a little hair of the dog the next morning, the two run into Haley Newcomb, former classmate and, unbeknownst to the men, each one’s former lover.

As the day unfolds, secrets are revealed, old flames are reunited and Quinn, Dash, and Haley must confront the 600-lb gorilla in the room — their longing for one another and how right it feels to share. At the same time. Together. And, once the idea of a threesome is finally spoken aloud, it’s not long before the ex-lovers are reunited in more ways than one. In more positions than one. As often as they can, for as long as they can. Now all they need to know is if they want this reunion to last.

Excerpt

In Too Deep (The Deep End 1)
Alex Winters
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Alex Winters

Mmmmmmmm…”

Quinn Hampton murmured drowsily, wriggling closer to the warm, dewy skin nestled against his own as if wriggling beneath a cozy comforter. He slowly opened his eyes, although his eyelids felt as lazy as the rest of his body, blinking at the early morning sun as it shined in through the bay window under which he lay.

Correction. Where they lay.

“Finally,” a familiar voice next to him said, warm breath washing against his throat as Quinn shivered with sudden, unquenchable desire.

Quinn turned his head atop a soft, puffy pillow to find Dash Thatcher lying beside him, sinewy body as long and lean and sexy as ever. “The hell?” he asked dreamily, still half-asleep and far from alarmed. “Personal space, much?”

Dash let out his warm, familiar chuckle, as sweet as the sultry breeze drifting through the open window above and the dewy look in his rich, brown eyes. “I don’t hear you complaining, baby,” he said before glancing down the length of Quinn’s bare torso. “I don’t see you complaining, either.”

“Damn!” Quinn marveled at his own erection, stiff and pointed straight up at the dilapidated roof of the family lake house. Then again, he shouldn’t have been so surprised. He always got hella horny whenever he drank; stiff, straining morning wood was his own personal version of a hangover.

“You finally noticed.” Dash nuzzled Quinn’s cheek as he inched closer, the king-size mattress squeaking in protest as their bodies synced like the ragged jigsaw puzzle they’d formed so often back in school.

“Finally? How long has it been like that?”

They lay on their backs in the middle of the big, comfy bed, side by side and hip to hip. Dash eased his ankle over Quinn’s as if to hold him in place. Quinn didn’t mind. Hell, he hadn’t felt this turned on in years.

Dash touched the tender flesh just below Quinn’s chest, the flat space above his newly fluttering belly. “Ten minutes, give or take.”

“You’ve been watching the whole time?” Quinn shivered as Dash moved his hand lower. His long fingers were more than familiar with his old friend’s skin and he knew just how to make Quinn squirm and sweat beneath his expert touch.

“I mean, it is kind of mesmerizing,” Dash teased, as he circled a single finger around Quinn’s belly button, making him quiver and wriggle anew as he gripped the sheets beneath him as if to keep from melting straight onto the floor.

“How long have you been up?” Quinn risked a glance at his old lover, spying Dash’s glance his way, the look as syrupy as his Southern twang.

“You know I can never sleep after a night of drinking,” he replied. “Especially with you, babe.”

Quinn grinned almost bashfully, recalling how they’d run into each other at the Quick Pik Shop downtown the night before, rushing to beat the clock and snatch up that last six-pack of beer before stores stopped selling them promptly at 2 AM. Quinn hadn’t just been surprised to see Dash back in town after three years apart, but elated! After a few minutes of nervous chitchat and harmless small talk while cashing out, it had only felt right to invite him back to the lake house for a beer or two and to, uh… catch up.

When a beer or two turned into the whole six-pack, it had only felt right to invite Dash to stay the night. Why risk driving home and getting a DUI on his first night back in town, right? Better to spend the night in the big king-size bed Quinn had dragged into the living room while the family lake house was being renovated instead.

Together, naturally.

Somehow, they’d managed to fall asleep without getting handsy, but Quinn didn’t feel like it was an accident that he’d woken up with a raging hard-on the first time he’d slept with Dash in years.

“What time is it?” he murmured, not really caring but not quite sure what else to say at such an awkward moment. Their handful of times together back in high school had always been rushed affairs; stolen kisses and frenzied hand jobs in questionably private spaces, neither of them having the luxury to linger the next morning in each other’s arms, naked and hard and hungry for more. To say that Quinn was nervous, suddenly, to find Dash in his bed, both of them hard as wrought iron, would have been a gross understatement.

Dash seemed to sense that Quinn was just making small talk and slid his hand lower to riffle through Quinn’s thick, untended pubic thatch. “Time for a trim, babe.” He twirled several tendrils of thin black hair around his fingers and tugged playfully as Quinn winced with the bittersweet sensation of being teased by someone he knew so well and, yet, hardly knew at all.

Quinn glanced sideways, nodding at Dash’s dirty blond hair, long and loose and straggling around his bare shoulders. “You’re one to talk,” he murmured just before Dash gripped the base of his straining cock as a slow smile crept across his lips.

“I think we’re done talking here, Quinn.” Dash squeezed gently as Quinn ground his bare ass helplessly into the lumpy mattress beneath them, using the leverage to push slightly deeper into Dash’s loving grip. “That is, unless you’d like me to narrate what I’m about to do to this pretty little prick of yours, hmmmmm?”

Dash chuckled lazily, little flutters of warm, sexy breath washing across the blush of Quinn’s throat as he watched, helplessly, as Dash glided his long, expert fingers up and down his swollen shaft. He moaned appreciatively, the white sheets falling away from his bare thighs as he spotted the plaid boxer shorts he’d worn to bed dangling precariously off one ankle.

Dash noticed too, while reaching the swollen tip of Quinn’s cock and clasping the puckered, sensitive flesh gathered just beneath. “Yeah, you kicked those off while you were tossing and turning in your sleep last night,” he explained before giving Quinn’s bare throat a soft, tender peck that sent shivers coursing through his skin.

“Must have been dreaming,” Quinn said as Dash expertly gathered the drizzles of precum dotting his spongy cock tip and used them to slather moisture back down the length of his smooth, compact shaft. Quinn knew he wasn’t the biggest dude in the locker room, but Dash had never complained about his diminutive size. Instead, he’d always seemed to enjoy the compactness of Quinn’s sturdy six inches, as if in contrast to his own banana cock.

“Dreaming about what, babe?” Dash murmured, slowly stroking Quinn’s morning wood as if they were still back in high school, meeting up for late night hookups in the woods, empty, ramshackle barns or, that one time, in the backseat of Dash’s car.

Quinn turned to find Dash peering over at him. “You, naturally.”

They kissed then, soft, wet lips growing full and loud in the quiet stillness of an early summer morning. Dash had always been a good kisser. He knew just when to part those full, ripe lips to slide in a tongue and when to hold back, caressing Quinn’s own tongue until Quinn begged for more and, just as quickly, got it.

They’d been down-low lovers, once upon a time. In a tiny town like Lost Lake, Tennessee, as conservative as it was Southern, they had had to be. Sneaking away when they could, late nights or early mornings, booty calls at 3 AM and hot, sticky hand jobs in deserted dugouts as the sun rose and gave their swollen knobs a golden sheen just before they burst all over each other, fluttering bellies drizzled in blasts of youthful jizz that both embarrassed and thrilled them in equal measure.

Dash kissed him breathless, stroking him lazily all the while, his touch as electric as it was patient, as if he, too, was remembering the hot, hectic times back in school with Quinn. As if Dash, too, was enjoying the luxury of lying next to each other in an actual bed, one they’d never had the good fortune to enjoy back in school where a single slipup would have brought their carefully closeted worlds crashing down all around them…

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Alex Winters is the pseudonym of a busy restaurant manager whose curious young staff would love nothing more than to follow him around the dining room reading his steamiest, most romantic passages aloud! When not writing romantic holiday stories of various heat levels, he enjoys long walks with his wife, scary movies and smooth jazz. Visit him online to see what stories are brewing up next!

Website | FacebookGoodreads

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $10.00 Changeling Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Book Blitz: Starting Strong by Lou Kelly

Title:  Starting Strong

Author: Lou Kelly

Publisher: Kindle Unlimited

Release Date: November 1, 2023

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 265

Genre: Romance, MM Romance, Sport Romance

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Can a closeted football superstar and a small-town sheriff make their relationship work?

When Kieran McKinney moves from being a third-string backup to becoming the starting quarterback for the Birmingham Hammers, he thinks all his dreams have come true. He finally has the support of his team, and he’s moved from being despised to becoming a fan favorite. But being cast as the face of a franchise comes at a cost. Kieran must work with a new, cut-throat PR specialist who’d like nothing more than to come between Kieran and Travis, and the more popular Kieran gets, the more his position places him in the spotlight. As the season progresses, the stakes only get higher both on and off the field. Will success in his career cost Kieran what he values most?

Travis Harris loves his boyfriend and he’s thrilled when the rest of the world finally catches on to what Travis has known all along: Kieran is incredible. He’s kind, talented, and drop-dead gorgeous. Now that Travis has come out to his family, there’s nothing to keep them apart, right? When the pressures of fame impact Travis’s family, their support starts to erode. Add in a national scandal, Kieran’s emotionally abusive grandfather, and too much time apart, and the strain threatens to destroy what once seemed unstoppable.

• This MM Romance is a sequel to the novel Backup Plans, but it could be read as a standalone. It has a HEA and no cheating. This book features an older/younger couple, hurt/comfort themes, found family, kitten rescues, fanatic football fans and a hot couple experimenting in the bedroom!

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lou Kelly loves a good romance. Having honed her skills as an author through a decade of writing and publishing, she discovered m/m fiction and fell in love. What does she like best? The slow burn.

“No insta-love for me. I adore a well-developed full-length novel with characters who are believable and sympathetic. My favorite relationships are the kind where suppressed desire sizzles with sexual tension struggling for release. Give me a strong Alpha male who has to fight for his mate, or enemies who are shocked when hate turns into love, or a mysterious stranger who doesn’t want his secrets revealed … I crave books that keep me up past my bedtime.”

When she isn’t writing, Lou Kelly loves to travel. Sadly, most of her traveling these days happens between the pages of books, but top on her wish list is a trip to Greece. Followed by New Zealand, Ireland, Scotland, and Iceland. *sigh* Someday she hopes to explore them all. Until then, you can find her reading!

Lou Kelly loves her fans, so please visit her on Goodreads: Lou Kelly or Facebook: Lou Kelly

Or e-mail your questions or comments to: loukellyromance@gmail.com

Website | Facebook | Goodreads | eMail

Giveaway

 

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: The Endless Sea Between Us by Lucy Mason (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Endless Sea Between Us

Author: Lucy Mason

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 10/31/2023

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 66600

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, fantasy, family-drama, witch, mermaid, magic, prince, quest, body swap

Add to Goodreads

Description

Five years ago, Faeryn Moss lost her family and home to a plague that swept her village. As the sole survivor, she was rumored to be a witch—a rumor she never denied because it was the truth. Ostracized and cast out in fear, she now lives a quiet life in a cave on the beach, alone with her magic and the only thing that never let her down, the only thing she loves: the sea. But when she sings up a storm borne from her grief in order to collect a net full of the sea’s treasure, she gets more than she bargained for. There’s a mermaid tangled within it.

Zale, washed into the net by the storm, is full of questions about humanity. Banished from her society for rescuing a drowning human, all she wants is a chance on land to start over. Seeing an opportunity for both of them to get what they want, Faeryn creates a transmutation rune—but as they go from reluctant allies to something else and Zale thaws Faeryn’s frosty heart, they struggle with what’s more important…their chance at a new beginning or their budding romance.

Everything changes when the kingdom’s witch-hunting prince decides to take Zale as a member of the royal court and the potential future queen against her will. Faeryn must follow her across the sea so their transmutation rune can be completed by the next full moon or risk losing her love and her life to the very magic she cherishes.

Excerpt

The Endless Sea Between Us
Lucy Mason © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Faeryn

The seaside village of Acantha was convinced the only way a girl could be the sole survivor in a house struck down by plague was if she was either a witch or was cursed. Little did they know, the village stopped thriving not because I had survived but because my mother hadn’t. Not all witches wove spells of bad intention; she blessed the town all her life, ensuring good fortune, plentiful crops, and favorable weather. She spent my first thirteen years murmuring words of protection, resilience, and well-being over me before kissing my forehead and telling me good night. It was the only thing that saved me—I had no proof, but I knew it as sure as I knew her blood, witch’s blood, ran in my veins.

The village had burned my house—and several others—to the ground to keep the plague from spreading, though I had saved and hidden my mother’s references and spell books. Where she had closely guarded her secret, I never denied their assertions about my magic, even as the threat of witch-hunts spread outward from the capital like a deadly ripple. I had been encouraged to move along to another town. I had not-so-respectfully declined and went about my business, because if Acantha was going to hate and fear me, I was going to give them a reason to do so. If they wanted a villain, a pariah, I’d give them one.

I rebuilt my life in a cave off the beach, only venturing to town for Wednesday market to buy goods I couldn’t procure myself and sell the gifts the sea brought me. I hoarded my blessings and spells; I used them to keep myself dry and warm, to carve runes in the stone to conceal the entrance and entice fish to swim into the small pool that filled every time the tide rose and trapped them when it fell.

I occasionally used magic for less scrupulous things—but only when I had to. The sea gladly turned over its riches to me, and I didn’t care to take advantage of it, but sometimes money was a necessity. So, on the afternoon of my eighteenth birthday, I whispered words of dryness and care, dipping my fingertips into the small dish of ground seashells and the ash of burned driftwood and running them over the fabric of my dress and up and down the leather of my boots. I marched down to the beach clutching my net, a giant thing I’d made myself, hours and hours spent weaving golden thread—bounty, vitality, security—into the hundreds of knots holding the ropes together.

I waded into the water, to my knees, then my hips, then my chest. The waves washed in and out, and I felt the current—but remained dry. I swam out and tied the net to a buoy I had anchored there, then attached the other end to a buoy farther down the beach. I ducked under, my eyes stinging, and traced a symbol like a bow, for closure, capture, finality. It glowed briefly then faded, pulsing very dimly in the murky depths. There wasn’t much I could do below the surface; runes were always more effective when they were imbued with the intention of spoken words.

My waterproofing charm was wearing off—drips of water collected in my boots and my skirts clung to my legs, not wet yet but just faintly damp. The first five or six times I’d done this, I had come out looking like a drowned sailor, my hair in dripping snarls and my boots so heavy with water I could hardly walk. Practice, time, and patience had improved me—I stood on the beach and lifted my arms and whispered. The little droplets of water clinging to me and dampening my dress evaporated.

If I was the heedless nightmare they feared, I would do the next step without warning the villagers. Instead, I made the quarter hour’s walk into town. Well, I say town—it was really nothing more than a small cluster of houses, a blacksmith, a tavern, a butcher, and a cobblestone square for the market to set up in while vendors passed through. The children, towheaded and wide-eyed, dared each other to get close to me. They huddled together and whispered, “It’s the sea witch! She’ll turn you into an eel!” as I walked past them. I kept my eyes straight ahead on my way to the blacksmith’s shop, barely able to resist the urge to lunge and hiss and make them scream in terror. My mother would be disappointed to know I had done it before; my father would have been delighted. I’d inherited my temperament and inability to suffer superstitious fools from him.

Someone had started the rumor that if children misbehaved, I’d drag them down to my seaside cave and turn them into a fish—or worse, eat them. It was meant to make little ones behave, to come inside when their mothers called them, but I had never exactly refuted the outrageous claim. Sometimes fear was a powerful tool. It was the only thing keeping them from attacking me—the only thing keeping them quiet.

The tall, gawky apprentice at the blacksmith’s was bent over the forge, his dark hair stuck to his forehead, damp with sweat. He was one of the few who didn’t find me frightening; he facilitated most of my communication with Acantha at large. His family had been my family’s neighbors until the sickness took my mother and father, when they had retreated to the far end of Acantha to escape contamination. We had played together as children. He still had the friendly, cheerful manner and sweet disposition of a boy who hadn’t lost everything, though, and the loss of my parents hung like a veil between us. A veil he couldn’t see or feel, but one I was always painfully aware of.

“Owen.”

He didn’t startle or turn to look at me, a gentle clink from the fire as he withdrew a piece of metal glowing cherry red. Once he quenched it in a barrel of water, clouds of steam billowing around us, he coughed, clearing the air with his hand. Through the haze I could see his hopeful grin.

“Faeryn! What can I do for you today?”

“There’ll be a squall tonight.”

His face fell, the crinkles at the corners of his eyes fading with his smile. “Oh. Okay. Natural, or…?”

“Unnatural. Only rain will touch the town. I can keep the winds confined to the beach. Spread the word. Don’t let anyone wander down there, and don’t let any boats near the water.”

Owen tossed his thick, sturdy gloves onto his workbench. “Thank you for the warning. I’ll let everyone know. You don’t have to go just yet. Would you like some tea?”

His master wouldn’t be wild about the idea of a witch in his workshop. Eckhart disliked me as much, if not more, than most other villagers. Owen was his at-will employee; catching him in my company could be the end of his promising career. So I shook my head, because it was a lonely life, but I wouldn’t let him take the fall. The village had turned its back on me when I’d been orphaned, and if I’d made it this long on my own, I wouldn’t let a boy pity me for it.

“If you change your mind, I always have a pot brewing.”

“I’m afraid Eckhart wouldn’t be terribly pleased to find me here…or that you’d shared his tea with me. The answer is still no.” Every time he asked, and every time I refused. The days of playing together were long gone; too much grief had gone under the bridge since then.

He frowned, a little wrinkle appearing between his eyebrows. “Someday I’ll be a proper blacksmith, not just an apprentice, and you can come in whenever you like. Eckhart doesn’t have any say in what I do after work, though. Tea later?”

I backed away, exasperated. “I said no. Good day, Owen.”

“Goodbye, Faeryn! I’ll see you later!” he called after me, and I ran for the beach, away from him and the people who had turned their backs on me and my family, my boots kicking up small clouds of dust on the path. It was easier to cling to the bitterness that kept me afloat than drown in the sorrow.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Lucy lives in rural southern Illinois with a frankly ridiculous amount of yarn and books. During the day she works in adult education and by night she’s a writer and dabbler in yarncrafts. She knits, loves video games and podcasts, and cries over fictional characters regularly.

Website | Twitter

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: Sealed with a Hiss by Eule Grey (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title: Sealed with a Hiss

Series: Kitten and Blonde, Book One

Author: Eule Grey

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 10/24/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 39900

Genre: Paranormal, contemporary, paranormal, British/Yorkshire/Ladybower Reservoir, lesbian, over 40, mystery, cold case, blogger, reporters, local paper, small town, witch, bikers, neurodivergence, sexy lizard lady, interspecies sex

Add to Goodreads

Description

Kitten and Blonde: Mostly Paranormal. Sometimes alien. Always gentle.

Mave Kitten is ecstatic when she lands a dream job as a paranormal journalist for a local newspaper, the Echo. It’s a chance in a lifetime for a neurodivergent Witch. She’s a little nervous about the boss, leather-clad motorcyclist Lisa Blonde. But Lisa’s got a heart of gold, and Mave soon settles into her new role. There’s even an office cat to help out. Only one tiny problem remains—Lisa doesn’t believe in the paranormal. How is Mave to change her mind?

Her Little Joke

Mave and Lisa investigate a creepy sound emanating from a nearby canal. Little do they know to what depths the trail will lead: Ghosts, a haunted well, ignorance, a flapping bird. What of the woman in green? Mave’s interviews lead to some unexpected situations, and all the time, the hissing sound grows louder. The last place Mave and Lisa wish to visit is the depths of a macabre well. Heck, no. They’re just ordinary women with bills to pay. But entities are fashionably unpredictable, and ghost whisperers can’t choose when to answer a supernatural SOS. When the darkness closes in, Mave is glad of Lisa’s winning formula of strength and softness.

Swamp Woman

Although Mave loves her Sunday dates with Lisa, she wishes the outings would lead to something more intimate. When a swamp monster at Ladybower Reservoir goes AWOL and a researcher disappears, it’s a brilliant opportunity for Mave and Lisa to get better acquainted and stretch their investigative skills. Mave leaves no gravestone unturned. Phantom aircraft, a missing scientist, abandoned lizard tails, tussles in the bushes: all pathways lead to one heated conclusion—it’s time to tell Lisa how she feels.

Kitten and Blonde set forth on Lisa’s motorbike armed with packed lunches and crucial questions. Why is a mysterious noise coming from the well? What’s causing the toxic chemicals at Ladybower Reservoir? Where’s the nearest pub? Maybe the most crucial question of all is whether Lisa Blonde will ever believe in the supernatural.

Her Little Joke was previously published as part of the NineStar anthology, Listen: The Sound of Fear.

Excerpt

Sealed with a Hiss
Eule Grey © 2023
All Rights Reserved

Blog one

Random fact of the day: a green wig is hanging on a hook in our office.

Hello! This is Mave Kitten reporting for Litten’s Echo, our very own free version of the New Yorker. Over the next few months, we’ll be offering weekly broadcasts about issues that matter to you—our lovely residents of Litten Vale.

When the boss ‘asked’ me to run a blog, I almost died from shock. It had been another uneventful afternoon. I was sorting the Echo’s files. Round and round in a forever loop. The office cat snored, and our Lisa was gliding, quite skilfully, on one leg.

I’m nervous of ‘she who must be obeyed’ and, at the same time, hypnotised by her idiosyncratic behaviours. Still, I had to ask. “What’re you doing, Lisa? Ice skating?”

It’s true to say we’re wary of each other. Life has taught me to be cautious. I talk too much and don’t notice hints. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. On my first day as junior reporter, I noticed and looked. Lisa reciprocated. Now, we’re trapped in a bizarre cycle of wariness and looky-looky.

In response to my question, Lisa hurled some wipes onto the floor, placed her foot on top, and continued skating. “Cleaning the floor.”

I winced, started talking, and then couldn’t stop. “Wipes are no good for the environment. The cloth takes five hundred years to biodegrade. Haven’t we got a mop? Shall I buy one? We need cat treats too. I’ll get the pricey kind. Kitty doesn’t eat the crappy ones you get. Shall I get organic? Or how about that mice kind?”

Lisa grimaced, as if to suggest I’d twisted off her arm. “Did she tell you she doesn’t like the crappy ones?”

I shook my head. “Not exactly. But—”

A firm expression took hold of Lisa’s face. “No pricey treats. The cat can stand the cheaper brands if she knows what’s good for her. You, Ms Kitten, are about to record an interview down at Ellison. Too busy for mops! If you run, you can catch the two o’clock bus.”

Record an interview? I’d have been happier if she’d told me to join the army. “No! Interview actual people and make broadcasts? I couldn’t possibly.”

“Yes,” she’d said. “Definitely. I want a weekly blog about local urban myths.”

Dear listener, I died a death of horror and then came back to life and got on with it. Mauve Mave’s like that.

Listen to this,

Too good to miss.

Less than a day later, and the first blog’s being broadcast. My sensitive nature isn’t equipped to contradict six feet of muscle and blonde. Between you and me, I call her the ‘Lisanator’. Blonde, like the beer. Big, strong, and got a kick. Her words, not mine. Our Lisa isn’t one to argue with, but don’t snitch on me. She never listens to broadcasts or the news. If you don’t say anything, she won’t know.

A little personal info before frying the chips of journalism. I’m fifty-two years old and am a proud Littenite. I love cats, documentaries, cheese and onion flavour crisps, and the colour purple. Very important, that. Fluffy cushions and wind chimes also make me happy. Friends call me Mauve Mave, and so can you.

What don’t I enjoy? Tight spaces and flapping wings. Urgh. I know it’s a daft thing, and you can blame it on my sister, Tamara. When did it start? All I remember is a bird or butterfly flapping in my face and a lot of girlish screaming. Tam says we were in a library lift, and it broke down. When we got out, a big sea gull appeared and flapped at us. Witches Tipple beer! So horrible.

Reporting for the Echo means a lot to my girlish heart. I was made up when Lisa offered the job. Literally, crying with joy. I still don’t know why she picked me from hundreds of applicants. I don’t ask in case it was a mistake.

I’m nothing to write home about and have had too many thankless café and cleaning jobs. Not that there’s anything wrong with that! As Dad says, any work’s work. Bless him; he’s always been a pub philosopher. Just don’t get him onto fracking or craft beer. Not if you want to get to sleep that night.

Our first blog will be—hopefully—of interest to Litton folks and especially anyone from down Ellison way. By now, you’ll have guessed what I mean because everyone’s talking about it. Yeah, that’s right. The sound…

According to Lisa, it’s something of a local legend. Kids have made memes, and the neighbourhood app is abuzz. Like all good scares, the noise began during a dark and stormy Tuesday night. Right after Coronation Street, and before Holby. Some heard a buzz and others more a hiss. A few claimed to sense a vibration coming from underneath the house.

Weird, no? Irritating, certainly.

By next morning, the noise had vanished along with the good tempers of Ellison. Tired, confused, and spooked, people got on with their day and forgot about it… Until a few nights later when the same thing happened.

Now the sound is a regular occurrence, despite residents doing their best to get to the bottom of things. They’ve called the council, plumbers, electricians, and a roads expert. The area has been tapped, dug, poked, and prodded. Nothing has worked, and the noise persists.

Of course, rumours are rife. Lisa told me some old story about the canal, as eerie as spaghetti in a stew.

Get a brew on, and make sure you’ve a biscuit at hand, dear reader. Are you ready?

Purchase

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: Fugitive by GiGi DeGraham (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Fugitive

Series: The Steele Pack, Book Two

Author: GiGi DeGraham

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 10/24/2023

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 92500

Genre: Paranormal, contemporary, paranormal, magic/magic users, romance, gay, shifters, genderqueer/genderfluid, asexual, interracial, action/adventure, dark, suspense, tribal politics/spiritual beliefs, off-grid living/isolation, subsistence/hunting, soulmates, rivals to lovers, second chance, graphic violence/tribal warfare, mysterious wolves, soulmates, cross-dressing

Add to Goodreads

Description

Ryan is stubborn, he always has been. Patience has never been Thomas’s best trait. It’s been nine lonely years. Ryan thought Thomas was dead. Some secrets can’t be told. There are rules and laws that can’t be broken and often unreasonable Gods enforcing them. It’s going to be an uphill climb to fight for Ryan’s forgiveness. All Thomas wants is to spend the rest of his life with his soulmate (even if he is a fugitive), for them to have the picture-perfect life they always dreamed of together. They’ve finally got their chance to have it all, but…

The Bellum Pack is coming, and that can only mean one thing.

Thomas doesn’t have time to plan a war, win back his soulmate, and worry about his best friend, Penn, and whatever he’s got going on with the worst Pillar of all. How does the sweetest guy fall for their most feared God?

Thomas has to figure out how to keep Ryan safe and protect his entire pack from the encroaching war-hungry Wolves. As if that weren’t enough, having Tristan Steele, a human, as his Alpha might be what pushes Thomas over the edge, not to mention keeping Penn’s heart from getting broken. And somehow, he has to manage it all without burning down their world.

Excerpt

Fugitive
GiGi DeGraham © 2023
All Rights Reserved

His eyes were fixed on the classic red and gleaming chrome Peterbilt emblem in the center of the hood. That oval was all he could see as 80,000 pounds of semitruck and trailer barreled out of control across the median towards them. An unharnessed scream ripped from Thomas as he yanked furiously on the steel handcuffs and chains bolting him to the van floor.

Seconds—he only had seconds.

Time stalled as Death lifted its fist to pound on the front door.

“Oh my God,” the driver yelled and jerked the wheel of the transport van hard to the right. The collective fear was as abrupt as the jolt of the vehicle. Men screamed for their lives.

The unavoidable impact was a bomb exploding, in slow motion, frame-by-frame—a force as powerful as the fist of Muhammad Ali. The collision knocked all the air out of the world around Thomas, out of him. Oxygen ripped from him in a terrifying vacuum, creating a breathless panicking void, where all he heard was the internal lack of gasping in the eighth round. Sucking desperately for denied air, Thomas was Foreman when he finally went down. Glass flew through the interior, suspended, as bodies hurled into the side of the van.

The guard in the front passenger seat was instantly ejected. There and then gone. Blood from the dying driver, who sat at the point of impact, rained, blowing back through the cargo area as the passenger van careened to the right as if propelled by a hurricane. They left the roadway, momentarily airborne, and crashed hard before flipping through the woods, tires over hood. Once, twice, and again in a blur, with the impacts breaking out the remaining windows and slamming the unbelted but chained passengers against the walls, then the ceiling, and finally the floor.

And oh, God—the screaming.

It broke the unbreathing silence—that deafened ringing in his ears as Thomas’s head struck the left side metal window frame. The inmate behind him, unnaturally twisted and flipped over, landed between Thomas and the window. His seatmate, a big guy, tatted with a heavy hand, lay over him on his right side. He had to be at least 250 on the hoof. Hot blood spat rhythmically from an artery onto Thomas’s body. For a moment, the air smelled like old patina-greened plumbing pipes. Or the smell of sweaty palms after clutching pennies to throw at your buddy’s bike wheel. Copper and mechanical mixed.

Somehow, in the chaos of the accident, Thomas had been sandwiched between a back passenger and his seatmate, now dead after bleeding out in only hot, pumping seconds. Even the big guy bled out fast in what seemed like gallons. Neither had their seatbelts on. Thomas opened one eye, and it was a meaty crimson bath inside the Econoline.

Thomas sucked in a second, at last, ragged full breath. It burned and now tasted and smelled like machine smoke and hot metal. If a nightmare could have a scent, this was it. Thomas’s heart pounded; his nose stung as more fumes mixed together. It was hard to breathe—toxic, heavy, and overwhelming. Bits of glass tinkled and clinked around him as they dropped from the now open window frames, releasing from their rubber seals just as the tumble cycle ended.

With tremoring hands, he lifted his chains against their attachment. The floor bolts and hasp jingled and clanked—his manacled hands now freed from their installation. A broken tree branch had pierced the van’s steel floor. Thomas traced the path of the limb where it kabobbed through tatt-man and the back of their shared bench seat. His head pounded with pain, and blood covered his left eye as he tried to blink it away. Gore soaked Thomas, and he wasn’t sure if it was even his own. And something was on fire, searing in his left arm.

“Is anyone okay?” Thomas cried out.

The real panic set in when there was no response. Nothing. No one screamed anymore. For a moment, he heard a gurgle behind him, a wet exhale, and then nothing. Just that heavy dripping and another steady sound. The smoke thickened, and the engine ticked even louder. Like a timed device warning Thomas with its steady tick, tick…before the boom. The message was clear.

Thomas twisted, worked his hands back beneath the behemoth slumped over him, and frantically felt for the seatbelt latch at his right side. He’d been the only one they belted. The first one picked up and the only transport from juvie. A juvenile transport liability rule had just saved his life. Jesus Christ, he had to get out of here right now.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Thomas yelled over his wet, fumbling fingers. His fine motor skills were forgotten until finally, the clasp released its deadly hold on the buckle.

Frantic, he worked to maneuver the belt off and then wiggled and slid his way out from under the impaled passenger. Thomas turned back to him to check for a pulse, but he was dead. Thomas didn’t have time to feel bad for him, but he still did. No one deserved to go out like that. He looked to the guy pretzeled half in and half out of the side window. His leg was gone from the knee down, his skin already ghostly white. His eyes were wide open, mouth frozen in a dying scream. The other three inmates were a fresh Jackson Pollock on white metal.

Thomas swallowed hard, trying to thrust down the emotions that wanted to well, and assessed himself, wiping his eye with his shoulder. He couldn’t see out of one but looked around wildly with the other. Everyone was dead, and Thomas screamed. He scared-shitless screamed. Thomas dumbly shook his seatmate with his cuffed hands, unwilling to be in this nightmare alone.

Something popped towards the front of the van, and there was a crack. A splitting of wood, and the van jerked forward in a hard punch. Thomas looked through the opening, where the windshield should have been, to where the van clung precariously at the edge of a drop-off. He was the front car fool approaching the high pause of a rollercoaster, only hearing the clicking countdown before the shit-your-pants plummet.

“Help!” Thomas tried to yell through the smoke.

Get out now, then run…from one of the voices inside his head. Thomas had heard this voice so many times before and didn’t question it now. He scrambled over the passenger hanging from the window, clinging to his body like a ladder, then slid over him and dropped to the ground. He looked around—frantic for his bag of personal property—his letters.

RUN!

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

GiGi DeGraham lives, plays, and learns in New Orleans. She is a proud southerner and enjoys fixing up old houses and writing. Most of her story and character ideas develop while sanding and painting. She loves to roller skate and has a favorite author-named cat called Irving, after Washington Irving. You’ll always find her with an audiobook in her ear and listening to everything narrated by Kirt Graves.

GiGi prefers the outdoors when the weather permits, going on rock and fossil hunts or visiting local rock shops. Otherwise, she’s clacking away at her keyboard until the wee hours. GiGi firmly believes downtime should be spent on a porch swing. GiGi is a life-long supporter of the LGBTQ+ community.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $50.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Book Blitz: Sweet Delight by Mikala Ash (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Sweet Delight

Series: Protect and Serve (#11)

Author: Mikala Ash

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: October 20, 2023

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male/Male

Length: 95 pages

Genre: Action Adventure, Paranormal Women’s Fiction, Romance, Bisexual, Multisexual & Pansexual, Military, Veterans, and First Responders, Multiple Partners, Second Editions, Shapeshifters, Vampires

Add to Goodreads

 

Synopsis

Love is the greatest shape shifter of all.

Love can be humanity’s greatest strength — or our biggest weakness.

The poet William Blake knew this, and for the longest time I felt as though I’d been born into his Endless Night, my life destined for eternal misery. Tragedy stalked me with the persistence of an insatiable tiger: the death of my mother, my mistaken belief I had caused the death of my partner, Detective Mal Blake, the betrayal by Anton, my lover of three years, and his subsequent death at the hands of a demon of the worst sort.

But then, out of nowhere, Mal returned to me, and with him came Tommy, a divinely beautiful shifter. For almost half a year we’ve been inseparable, a threesome in every meaning of the word.

My name is Ciara Callaghan. I’m a cop, and I thought I’d seen love from both sides, seen both the best and the worst it can do.

I was wrong.

The worst is yet to come.

Publisher’s Note: Although this story can be read as a standalone, the characters were first introduced in Endless Night, then appeared in Realm of Night. The books are understood best when read sequentially.

Excerpt

Copyright ©2023 Mikala Ash

I used to love poetry. Now I don’t trust poets as far as I can spit.

They tantalize us with seemingly profound thoughts and evocative images, beguiling us, fooling us into believing they know something about the human condition. Now I think they are as ignorant and scared as the rest of us, arranging their pretty words not to reveal the secrets of life, but to quell their own deep disquiet.

I wondered, as I gazed at Tommy’s lacerated chest, what would the poets make of that? My eyes lingered on his erect cock with barely controlled lust. He was beautiful, not just physically, but spiritually as well. He was an honorable man, brave, thoughtful and wise in a nerdy way. I was so lucky to have him in my life. That he lay there so close to death broke my heart.

I guess the poets have expended many words on the subject of broken hearts, but to me, at that moment they were just empty platitudes.

Since I was a little girl my favorite poet has been William Blake, mainly because of his references to animals, “Tyger Tyger” and all that. Not a surprising choice for a shifter, and his words had seduced me with their hints of dark and mysterious knowledge. He was deeply spiritual, and the religious underpinnings of his writing escape me, but I sometimes wondered if he was a shifter himself. He seemed to have an affinity with wild creatures, and for most of my life I believed he knew our souls.

For the longest time I’d felt as though I’d been born into his Endless Night; my life destined for eternal misery. Tragedy stalked me with the persistence of an implacable tiger: the violent death of my mother, my mistaken belief I had caused Mal’s death, the betrayal by Anton, my lover of three years, and his subsequent death at the hands of a demon of the worst sort. But then, out of nowhere, Mal had returned to me, and with him came Tommy, this divinely beautiful shifter.

I dragged my eyes away from his beautiful but tortured body, and tried to think more positive thoughts.

Never in my life had I known such happiness. That I could attract the love of two exceptional men had not been in my stars; not by a long shot. Sure, we’d been busy killing demons along the width and breadth of the entire country, but we always found time for passion, and we often joked we were “fucking like demons.” It kept us sane. I thought my life had turned around, and I’d been blessed with the poet’s blessed state of Sweet Delight.

Then, slowly at first, things began to change. Mal became distant, quiet and secretive, so that sometimes it felt like just me and Tommy, though there were three of us in the bed. His participation in our lovemaking lacked enthusiasm. Sure, his cock was hard when I sucked him, and when I climbed on top he went through the motions, but no longer with the passion I’d craved for the three years he’d been gone. It was as if he was somewhere else, thinking thoughts that Tommy and I could not share.

That widening gulf between us hurt like a claw raking through my breast.

Mal had been more and more distant in the fortnight before we’d tracked down Sheldon Hicks. Since the battle in the warehouse, I’d hardly seen Mal. He was out hunting demons, and no, I couldn’t go with him. Someone had to stay and watch Tommy.

I gazed at Tommy’s torn flesh. He’d been ripped open from neck to crotch. There’d been so much blood. The sound of my own screams, begging Mal to help him, still echoed in my dreams.

After Mal had dispatched the demon, he’d seen us, and with effortless strength, he’d scooped us up into his arms and carried us to our car. He’d driven us to Doctor Fraser, the so-called “shifter healer” who’d originally saved Tommy years ago when Mal, then a humble detective, had found him lying by the side of the road.

Doctor Fraser had patched him up this time as well, and after a week where Tommy’s life had hung in the balance, he’d let us bring him home.

That was three weeks ago.

Watching him made me think of how scared I was he would die, how alone I would be if he left me. Each moment was so precious. It mirrored the abject despair I’d experienced when I’d thought Mal was dead.

I thought about all the time we’d been together… a short six months… so many moments joined together. Like knots tied in a piece of string, one thought led to another, and inevitably turned to memories of my mother. She’d been a tortured soul, and we were always on the run from something. I was born in Louisiana, spent my infant days on a tuna boat in the Pacific, happily raised in Australia, and then returned to the United States when I was ten after Mother’s brutal murder. Apparently one of her adventures on the wrong side of the law had gone seriously wrong.

Now Mal was distant, and Tommy was so badly injured, I wanted this all to be over. I wanted to be happy again, like I’d been on the golden Australian beaches…

Purchase at Changeling Press

 

Meet the Author

Aussie Mikala Ash used to be a mild-mannered training & development consultant by day, and a wild sci-fi and paranormal adventure writer by night. Now she is a brazen full-time writer and nature photographer who is concentrating on having among other things, “… bags, and bags of fun!” Mikala can be found on Facebook and on Twitter.

Giveaway

One lucky winner will receive a $10.00 Changeling Press Gift Code!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Load more