New Release Blitz ~ River Hag by Pelaam (Excerpt & Giveaway)

River Hag by Pelaam

Book 5 in the The Devil’s in the Details series

General Release Date: 30th August 2022

Word Count: 32,322
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 137

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL

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Book Description


Sometimes, a friend in need can be deadly in deed.

Keegan has an abusive stepfather, Frank, and is bullied at college. He dodges bullies, led by Owen, by hiding close to the river. He tells his friend about the attacks and his narrow escape. The next day in college, pondweed is found in Owen’s locker, and he blames Keegan. The pondweed is sent to John Bull, and on examination is found to have a paranormal resonance, so he sends Emery, Alex and Kadin to investigate.

When Owen is found drowned in a bathtub, secured with pondweed, the team believe they’re dealing with a grindylow—a river hag. They need to establish whether the creature is acting for its own ends or at someone’s direction. Circumstances point to Keegan, but the team can’t find the connection and feel time is running out.

The next victim is Keegan’s stepfather, and with Keegan missing, Kadin decides to try to communicate with his spirit. He learns that the grindylow is protecting Keegan, but the team know that its nature means that Bo, now Keegan’s lover, will be the next victim.

But first, they need to find Keegan.

Reader advisory: This book portrays the deaths of two secondary characters.

Excerpt

From his bedroom doorway, Keegan winced as he listened to his mother and stepfather argue. He hoped it didn’t end as so many of them had before, with his mother sporting a new bruise and claiming she’d walked into a door, tripped and fallen or inadvertently punched herself when changing the duvet.

The rows had increased in frequency and intensity over the last couple of years. He wants me out of the house, but I didn’t get the qualifications I needed to go to uni. I spent too much time babysitting. At least with my brother Jonnie now being at school, he doesn’t have to see or hear this.

“He needs a fucking job, not this stupid college thing.” Frank’s voice boomed up the stairs, and Keegan cringed closer to the doorframe.

Getting into college had been his one saving hope. That by studying there, he’d upgrade his qualifications enough to secure a place in university. But the college was no haven. The class bully had found Keegan to be a suitable victim, and his life there was being made a misery. And that homophobic prick of a principal has done nothing to stop it.

“He’s been bullied.” Keegan’s mother’s voice was starting to waiver, and Keegan clenched his hands into fists.

“Then he needs to be a man and deal with it, not run and hide behind you. Pathetic little pansy. You’ve made him soft.”

That was the last straw. Keegan ran down the stairs and into the living room.

“Don’t you dare diss my mother.” Anger sizzled through Keegan’s veins, even though Frank had several inches and almost a hundred pounds on him.

“Well, maybe if you were as quick to defend yourself, you wouldn’t get bullied.” Frank stuck his meaty fists onto his hips. “She says you’re taking a mental health day. Well, fuck that. Either you go to that college like you’re meant to or you drop out and find somewhere else to live. I’m not having a freeloader living here. I work, she works and either you study and move out or quit and move out. I don’t care which.”

“It’s too late to go in now, and the college allows students to take odd days off, so there’s no issue with today. I’ll be back there tomorrow, and as soon as I can, I’ll be out of here.”

“Keegan, no.” His mother looked devastated, and he hurried to clasp her hands, leaning in to whisper in her ear.

“And as soon as I have somewhere settled, you and Jonnie are coming to live with me. Don’t think his fists will stop at you. You have to think of Jonnie.”

“Why don’t you go out for a nice walk by the river?” Ellie smiled at him, even if her lips trembled. “There are fixings for sandwiches in the fridge and a couple of cans of soda. Maybe some friends will join you after class.”

“Too fucking soft.” Frank scowled as he pushed his way past Keegan and his mother, and Keegan let out a silent sigh of relief.

“Go. Hurry.” Ellie jerked her head toward the kitchen and moved as if to shield him from Frank’s view.

It didn’t take Keegan long to make up a set of cheese and pickle sandwiches for himself and some tuna ones in a separate wrapper. Adding a packet of chips and a can of soda to each, he bundled them up securely

Keegan packed the two separate sets of food into a rucksack and went out through the kitchen door. The last thing he needed was to run into his stepfather again. Keegan didn’t have to think where he could go. He already had a favorite part of the river.

This wasn’t the part of the wall and river that tourists frequented. It was in a quiet and secluded area. There was a secondary trail worn where people had left the main pathway and which disappeared into a mix of undergrowth and trees that overhung the river.

After a few minutes of determined ducking and weaving, Keegan emerged at a comfortable place to sit, hidden from the walkers along the top of the wall and from the few equally dogged fishermen who lined the riverbank.

Several meters to his left was a thick overhang of trees, impossible to penetrate, but Keegan gave a whistle, which was answered a moment later.

“Hi, Ginny. How are you, today?” Keegan settled down and dug into his rucksack.

“Very well. I didn’t expect you.” The voice was soft and slightly accented, and Keegan sighed.

“Yeah, well. I should be in college, but I took the day off. There’s a class bully who has decided I’m fair game, and I just couldn’t handle it today. Here… I made you up a snack pack.” Keegan tossed the well-packed tuna sandwiches, chips and drink over the impenetrable foliage.

The rustling noise confirmed that Ginny had it, and he chuckled softly at the rapid crunching noises.

“You really like chips. You can have mine, too. The sandwiches will be enough for me.”

“Chips are good.” There was a suitable pause before the crunching resumed.

“You know, we’ve talked for a long time. It’s nice to have a friend I can chat with. I wish you didn’t keep your distance, though.” Keegan peered into the bushes, but it was impossible for him to see through to the other side. “I wish you didn’t have to live this way.”

“I’m not like you.” Ginny finally whispered. “I don’t want you to not talk to me anymore.”

“Why would I do that? Because you’re homeless and live rough? That doesn’t bother me.”

“Tell me about this bully.” Ginny spoke the word as if it were unfamiliar, and Keegan took a bite from his sandwich while he considered her request.

“Usual story… He’s big and brash, has a couple of sycophants who hang off his every cruel word and mean joke. Look… You have your secret about living here, and I have mine. I’m gay. I like boys. I always have. There was never a time when I wanted a girlfriend. Do you still want to be my friend?”

“Yes. Boy, girl, all the same. No difference.”

“I’m glad to hear you say so. There are a lot of people who wouldn’t agree with that sentiment at all. Well, anyway, Owen found out I was gay. He has left stuff in my locker, on my desk and would have probably given me a beating on one occasion if one of the other students hadn’t noticed something going on and come over to investigate.”

“Hurt you?” Ginny’s voice grew sharper, and Keegan shivered as a cool breeze disturbed the normal sheltered aspect of his hiding place.

“Don’t worry. He didn’t.” Not yet anyway. Keegan had no illusions that while Owen remained at the college, there would inevitably be a confrontation. But I need this course to get to uni. Better to go as a mature student than to never go at all.

“He shouldn’t hurt you.” Ginny stated firmly.

“No, he shouldn’t, and neither should anyone else, but haters gotta hate. Maybe someday they’ll see that the color of your skin, or who you love, doesn’t make you any more or less human. We’re all equal. All the same.”

“Same.” Ginny echoed the word, then fell silent. “Someone’s coming.”

Almost as soon as Ginny had spoken, Keegan heard indistinct voices. No one comes down here. Unless you know about it, there’s no way to see any of this from up on the wall. Then Keegan’s blood ran cold.

“You sure this is where he comes?” Owen’s voice boomed out, filled with anger and irritation. “There’s nothing here. Nowhere he could go.”

“This is where I was told he came.”

Keegan recognized the second voice as one of Owen’s hangers-on and groaned softly.

“Ginny, it’s Owen, the bully I told you about. He’s looking for me.”

“For you?” Ginny whispered. “Stay still. Say nothing.”

“I can’t risk it.” Keegan tugged on his beanie, tucking his distinctive auburn waves inside it. “I don’t want him coming down here. I don’t want him to find out about you and that this is where you live. It would never be the same again or safe for you.”

“You’re willing to protect me?” Ginny’s voice sounded so much like a lost child’s that Keegan’s heart ached for her.

“Yes, I would. Now you stay here.”

“No. You stay.” Ginny’s sharp hiss surprised Keegan, but it did the trick. Halfway to his feet, Keegan dropped back onto his ass with a muted grunt.

“What are you doing?” he asked, but there was only the rustle of foliage as Ginny moved. “Ginny!” Keegan whispered a little louder then fell silent at the approaching crunch of booted feet on resilient foliage.

“He’s not gonna walk along this. It’s too difficult for a fag like him.” Owen‘s increasingly irritated voice was gut-churningly close, and Keegan held his breath, turning his face to hide it.

“Maybe he walks along the bank, then.” Another voice. “There may be a niche down there. After all, the fishermen go there.”

“He probably tries to pick them up.” Owen’s callous sneer jabbed into Keegan’s heart.

Better he thinks that than tries to come this way. There’s no escape if he finds me. And no one would know my body was here except Ginny. Who’d believe her over Owen and his gang? Even if she dared to report it to the police.

Keegan’s increasingly dark thoughts were disrupted by another shout from Owen. He held his breath, hoping that his choice of drab colors for clothing worked their usual magic and let him go unnoticed.

“What’s that? I thought I saw something…in the water.”

“I can only see weeds. The river’s really dingy down here. Can’t imagine anyone fishing in this.” A third voice responded to Owen. “It’s slippery. Watch out!”

Even as they called out, there was a splash, followed by Owen’s loud cursing.

“Don’t fucking stand there gawping. Get me out. Fucking weeds are everywhere. I’m fucking soaked. My trainers will be ruined, and they cost a packet. Dad’ll be furious.”

“You can come back to my place.” The second voice offered. “Dry off there. We’ll come up with some excuse for what happened.”

“Yeah.” The third voice added. “A good reason why you’d be near to water.”

The voices grew fainter, and Keegan began to breathe easier. Then Ginny’s voice startled him, coming from the right rather than the usual left.

“They’ve gone now. It’s safe for you to finish eating.”

“Thanks, Ginny. I need a minute or two to calm down. I thought he had me, then.” Keegan opened his soda and took a couple of deep swallows, before setting it down again. “Thank goodness Owen slipped into the river.” Keegan could help but giggle. “Serves him right.”

“Eat.” Ginny insisted, and Keegan drew out his sandwiches and ate them, realizing just how hungry he was once he’d started.

“Sorry. I haven’t been much company today, thanks to Owen’s unwanted visit. It’ll be better next time.” Keegan stood and brushed off the breadcrumbs decorating his gray hoodie. “I don’t think Owen will come back here after his dip in the river.”

“He won’t be back.” Ginny sounded so assured that Keegan smiled.

“You saw him fall in, didn’t you?” he chuckled. “Wish I could have seen it, too. But I needed to make sure he didn’t spot me or find out about our little sanctuary.”

“Sanctuary?” Ginny asked and Keegan nodded, unsure of whether she could see him or not.

“Somewhere I can come and feel safe, be myself now you know I’m gay. Well, I’d better go. I have homework to do, and I want to read up on a few things to be ready for my class tomorrow.”

Keegan dodged his way through the foliage and was just in time to see Ginny duck behind one of the thicker trees beside the riverbank. Fuck, that sludgy-green blanket she has looks disgusting. Maybe I can bring her a new one—even some of my old T-shirts.

“I’ll see you soon, Ginny.” Keegan waved toward the tree as he made his way up to the wall.”

“Soon.” Ginny called after him, but when he glanced back, there was no sign of her—just the foliage, the river and the weeds that floated in its center.

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About the Author

Pelaam

Living in clean, green New Zealand, Pelaam is a multi-published author of gay romance and erotica.

When not working at writing, Pelaam likes to indulge in her other passions of cookery and wine appreciation.

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New Release Blitz: Virtual Insanity by Kevin Klehr (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Virtual Insanity

Series: TAYLeR, Book Two

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/30/2022

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 51500

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Sci-fi, cyberpunk, new adult, bisexual, social media, augmented reality, revolution

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Description

When Tayler is sent to Beta City to help its citizens disconnect from the all-knowing Social Media Central, he becomes the target of a deadly game.

Augmented reality players wearing head to toe gaming suits believe he is the Enemy Alien, and they shoot to kill. So Tayler is forced to hide in a secret bunker, trapped, with no way to escape this urban nightmare.

And as his friends hatch a plan to get him back home, they find the person toying with Tayler’s life is more AI than human.

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Excerpt

Virtual Insanity
Kevin Klehr © 2022
All Rights Reserved

I heard a song from the 1960s. An American singer asserted “we’re talking but we’re not communicating”. Someone played it on a radio stream while I’ve been here at Cradle Edge, and it got me thinking.

For the last month, I’ve been meeting people simply to get to know them. Getting to know what makes them tick. What their quirks are. How they use their charm to make me part of their circle.

And as they got to know me better, they shared their opinions while remaining open to being challenged. Plus, by this stage, I understood why they thought the way they did because I knew their backstories.

This wasn’t the case back home in Astra City. Opinions were first and foremost linked to someone’s brand, thanks to Social Media Central. We knew avatars or profile pics but never met the person. Never drank with them, laughed with them, or shared mutual stories. And even if we spoke through a video hook-up, it was always for less time than I spent with someone here in the bars at Cradle Edge.

Okay, to be fair, I was doing the same thing with the Social Media Socialites, my small friendship network back home. But I was one of the chosen few.

At the same time, I was navigating two relationships and losing myself in the process. Madeline Q, or Madi, as she liked to be known, was very persuasive. Every time I wasn’t sure who I wanted to stay the night with, the sun was coming up before I knew it and she was waking in my arms.

Mike brought out my wild side more than Madi. My carnal desires overrode my cautious temperament when I was with him. He led me down paths I never imagined I’d delight in. It was not that Madi wasn’t wild. She provided the equilibrium from my boys being boys sessions with Mike. I liked the balance in the bedroom I was getting between these two individuals.

So here I was four weeks without them, learning to love the most important person I’d discovered—me. And although it’s nice to be desired, it’s nice to hear yourself. I was arising from a state of mind that was controlled from the outside. Bombarded by the cyber world.

Cradle Edge was a small town of open fields and brick buildings. Nothing like the steel and glass jungle of my home. I needed this time away.

They have these things in everyone’s homes called phones. They’re like a device without screens. They come in all shapes and sizes. Some are novelties, as in the shape of a cartoon animal. Some stand upright while some are low set and bulky. You can contact anyone here if you know their “number”. A number is a set of six or so digits that makes someone else’s phone ring. And if you don’t know their number you can press three numbers that let you talk to an “operator”. The operator can look up anyone and connect you.

There are also “phone booths” on various streets where you can go if you need to contact someone when you’re not home. What’s really cool about this is you get a sense of anonymity when you’re out and about. No one knows where you are. It’s a really odd yet addictive feeling.

And there were shops! Stores I’d never seen in Astra City. People liked giving ornaments as gifts, as many homes were full of knickknacks that told you a lot about who lived there. And people regularly groomed. They got haircuts and made new clothes. Back home, folk were only getting used to the idea of dressing to be noticed. Too many years acting anonymous behind a screen robbed many of developing a sense of style. A sense of self.

Now I fully understood me, and I’m no puppet for anyone’s algorithm.

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Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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New Release Blitz: Scars by C.R. Scott (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Scars

Series: Permanently Black and Blue, Book Two

Author: C.R. Scott

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/30/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 119700

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, coming of age, family drama, high school, in the closet, musicians, young adult

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Description

After a disastrous first kiss, Shaun is angrier than ever. He doesn’t want to be gay, and he’ll do anything to avoid talking about his emotions. Jesse, however, is intrigued with the new–secret–budding romance and he needs someone to talk to.

Against Shaun’s advice, he befriends Kyle, Shaun’s ex-best friend, and tells him a lot more than he should. When everyone at school finds out about them, Shaun quits the band to escape the embarrassment.

Depressed and struggling with his sexuality, Shaun is hesitant when his old bandmate comes up with the idea for him to front his own band. With Jesse’s encouragement Shaun figures he might as well give it a shot.

Jesse wants to support him as much as possible, but he’s got serious issues going on at home. They are talking about moving out, but Jesse still has one last secret he’s holding on to, and he wonders if Shaun is mature enough to handle it.

Excerpt

Scars
C.R. Scott © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Jesse ran as fast as his legs would carry him. He didn’t stop, because if he did, he’d think about what had just happened.

He reached the house in under a minute. The front door was open, and he slid inside, slammed the door, then pressed himself flat against it as his heart thudded in his chest.

Tyler and Allison were on the couch. They turned and looked at him in surprise.

“Jesse?” Monica called from the kitchen, and Jesse peeled himself off the door and bolted for the stairs, two at a time.

Sam was in the bedroom, lying on the bed. His head was buried in his phone, but he looked up when Jesse burst into the room.

“Shit,” Jesse muttered.

Sam glared at him.

Jesse stood in the doorway, vibrating with a nervous energy. “Can you get out of here for a while?”

Sam sneered at him. “Screw you.”

Jesse huffed. He was seconds away from a huge breakdown, and the last thing he needed was for Sam to witness it. “Leave!”

Sam looked back at his phone, a taunting smile on his lips. “No.”

Jesse marched across the room and grabbed his brother’s phone. Sam yelped in protest, but Jesse was already back at the bedroom door.

“I’ll throw it down the stairs if you aren’t out of here in ten seconds.” He started to count down.

“All right!” Sam leapt up and shot Jesse a nasty look. “I’m going, asshole.”

“Shithead,” Jesse shot back as his brother stomped into the hall. The second he left the room, Jesse slammed the door behind him.

Finally.

Alone.

Jesse had been expecting an explosive reaction, but he felt nothing.

Numb, he climbed up to his bunk and pulled the blanket over his head. Darkness enveloped him.

Shaun had kissed him.

Jesse shivered under his blankets. He didn’t know what to think.

He’d kissed girls who were more experienced than Shaun. Girls who knew how to give a guy an erection with a kiss alone, but Shaun…

Jesse brought his hand to his mouth and traced his lips with the tips of his fingers. The feel of the other boy’s lips on his had been startling. Strange, unexpected, but not bad. Shaun had kissed him so intensely, so desperately, Jesse hadn’t been able to react. It was like nothing he’d ever felt before.

Jesse had become incredibly clingy after hearing Shaun’s backstory. He wasn’t oblivious, like he’d pretended to be, he just couldn’t help himself.

What had happened to Shaun was terrifying, and Jesse wanted to touch him at every opportunity to assure himself he was here. Safe. That everything was all right. The feel of Shaun’s taller, sturdier body against Jesse’s smaller form was so reassuring. But now that they’d kissed, everything felt different. All those intimate touches, longing looks, the desire to be close, it all made sense now.

Jesse was unequivocally, painfully, stupidly, in love with a boy he’d only known for a few weeks. One who’d seen horrible things and had possibly done things just as bad.

But Jesse wanted him anyway. He needed him in a way he’d needed no one before.

Just one kiss had been enough. It had opened a chasm of feeling and emotion, and Jesse wanted it back. Desperately.

So why hadn’t he said anything? Why had he stood there after the kiss with his mouth hanging open? Why hadn’t he kissed Shaun back?

And the crying?

Jesse buried his face in his pillow. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d cried. He couldn’t believe how blubbery he’d been over Shaun’s wounds. That alone was the biggest indicator Jesse didn’t have normal ‘best friend’ feelings toward the other boy. Just the thought of Shaun being in pain was enough to make him cry like a baby. Jesse wished he’d stayed. If anything, he could have made sure Shaun got himself looked at.

“Stupid idiot. Cutting yourself doesn’t do any good,” he muttered.

Regardless of Shaun’s stupidity, Jesse couldn’t wait to see his friend again…or whatever he was after everything that had just happened. He wasn’t sure what he was going to say to him, but he knew he had to be near him again. He wanted to touch him and hold him close, maybe even kiss him again.

The thought brought a smile to Jesse’s lips. He traced his mouth again as he remembered the harsh way Shaun had claimed it.

Somehow, everything would work out. Jesse was determined.

“Jesse?” Brian poked his head into the bedroom. His blue eyes were wide with curiosity.

Jesse sat up. “What’s up, little man?” He hadn’t wanted company, but he found he couldn’t turn the boy away.

“Can I come up?”

Jesse nodded, and Brian’s face lit up with excitement. Jesse shrugged off the blankets and made space for the toddler as he clambered up the ladder.

Brian crawled across the bed on his hands and knees. “Is Shaun coming over?”

“Not today,” Jesse said as the toddler curled into his side. It reminded him of Shaun and all the times he’d convinced him to lie in this very bed. He’d invited Shaun to sleep with him Friday night. How had Jesse not realized how completely obsessed he was with him? The whole point in getting Shaun wasted Saturday night was so he could get close to him.

Shaun was upset Jesse hadn’t kissed him back. Didn’t he know Jesse was in love with him?

“Mommy said you were spending the night with Shaun,” Brian said. “How come you don’t have sleepovers here?”

Jesse stroked his hair. “We went to a party.”

“Why didn’t you invite me?” Brian’s bottom lip protruded. “I like parties.”

“It was a grownup party,” Jesse said with a laugh, thinking of the way he’d ended up wrapped around Shaun. That had been terribly ‘grownup.’ He’d realized right away Shaun was sporting an erection, but he’d assumed it was because he was drunk and horny. He hadn’t once thought it was because of him.

“You’re not a grownup,” Brian muttered.

Jesse continued to stroke his hair. “I’m eighteen,” he said. “I could move out and get a job if I wanted. That’s pretty adult.”

Brian grumbled under his breath, but Jesse let it slide.

“Hey. Let’s play a game or something,” he said.

Brian smiled, and Jesse ruffled his hair, his mood lifting just the tiniest bit. They climbed down from the bunk and went to select a game downstairs.

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Meet the Author

C.R. Scott is a self-taught writer with a BA in psychology. Her characters are flawed and imperfect and she loves them for it. They urge her to write their stories. She currently resides in the ever-changing climates of Ohio with her husband and two children. This is her first published book, with more to come.

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New Release Blitz ~ Dark Surrender by Morgan Welsh (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Dark Surrender by Morgan Welsh

Book 1 in the A Vampire’s Call series

Word Count:  15,199
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 74

GENRES:

BILLIONAIRE
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
PARANORMAL
VAMPIRES

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Book Description

 

Olivia Hargreaves had often fantasized about the man of her dreams. Little did she know he actually existed—and that he was a vampire.

Following a bad break-up and the need for a fresh start in her life, Olivia Hargreaves has moved from London to the US East Coast to be with her best friend. Now she has finally met the man of her dreams—literally.

Gabriel Langston, a vampire with the ability to get into the minds of humans has been entering her head and showing her the time of her life. When he turns up at the local bar she frequents, she is sure she must be losing it. Wealthy, powerful, commanding and impossibly handsome, Gabriel is different to any man she has ever known and there is no way she can resist the attraction.

And there is no way he will let her.

Excerpt

Gabriel tapped his finger on the desk before him. The evening was young, and his mind raced with the amount of work he had to do. There were so many things to set in place—messages to send, paperwork to be filed. It was the part of business that he hated, but it had to be done. Unlike some of those close to him he did not employ many people to see to such matters, though he could afford a staff of thousands.

A man like him—a vampire—was best operating outside the gaze of the world, and that meant staying away from the trappings of wealth and success. He did not need the publicity or the limelight. Instead, he chose to live quietly in the shadows where people were less likely to find him. He invested his money discreetly, choosing people that were like him or that wouldn’t ask questions.

Over the years he had acquired unprecedented experience in business and the wealth that came with it. He didn’t like to publicly flaunt it too much, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t enjoy it. Living for centuries was much more satisfying when done in style.

His phone buzzed, and he stole a glance at the screen—he was to be at the bar at ten p.m. Plenty of time. The penthouse hotel suite that he occupied wasn’t far from there.

Gabriel took a swig of the warm red liquid next to him. He shut his eyes and savoured it as it made its way down his throat. Behind his closed lids an image of her face appeared. It had barely disappeared since he first saw her, weeks ago.

The street had been busy, but the only thing that he had seen was her. Her dark glossy hair bobbed at her chin, her olive skin flushed from the way she was rushing. She had stopped him in his tracks—and Gabriel Langston rarely stopped for anyone. A flash of anger had gripped him when he’d seen the guy on the street helping her after she’d dropped her file. It was the way his eyes had travelled up her legs as he bent to pick up the papers. He couldn’t blame him—it was what he would have done himself. But that didn’t mean he had to like it.

He had sat and watched from the café across the street as she then rushed into her office. Seconds later, she appeared at the window on the first floor. She had opened the window and pushed her short hair back from her face. Something in him had not wanted to leave until she left that evening, but as usual, he’d had work to do.

He took another sip and smiled.

Small cities and towns weren’t usually his thing. He was more of a big-city dweller. He liked the hustle and bustle, the never-ending chaos. In those places he could hide in plain sight, yet he was so glad that he had come here. Sometimes the most unexpected things could occur in the least likely of places—he should know that by now.

He had come here to help oversee the sale of the bar—a favour that he had owed someone, and he always kept his promises. These days such projects were a way of passing the time, utilizing his business acumen and keeping busy. Gabriel had not got where he was by sitting around. He liked the cut and thrust of the corporate world, whether that was big business or small ventures.

That instinct had led him here.

The time was close, he could feel it. He knew that she could, too. So many dark and delicious thoughts.

She was ready.

He wanted to peel the clothes from her body, see her standing before him naked and vulnerable. He wanted to take her nipples into his mouth and suck hard, before drawing his teeth over them and making her cry out for more.

He wanted to run his tongue along the crack of her sweet ass before turning her over and fucking her with it, then sucking on her clit.

He wanted to hear his name on her pretty lips as she threw her head back and exploded into his mouth.

He was ready.

Olivia Hargreaves was his.

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About the Author

Morgan Welsh

Morgan Welsh is a UK writer of paranormal and fantasy romance. She loves everything dark and gothic and will never tire of reading or writing about vampires, witches and the fantastical. Add some steam and she’s in her element. She lives with her husband and two children and somewhere dark and distant in her head. She’d love for you to join her there.

Find out more at Morgan’s website and follow her on Instagram.

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Book Blitz: The Professor’s Date by Lane Hayes (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Professor’s Date

Series: The Script Club #5

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrator: Alexander Cendese

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: July 21, 2022

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 05 Hours 58 Minutes

Genre: Romance, Nerd/Jock, MM Romance, Humor, Hurt and Comfort

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Synopsis

The professor, the hair stylist, and a wedding date…

Tommy

Help! My sister is getting married and according to her, I need a date. And a makeover. I’m a busy man, though. I don’t have time to meet eligible bachelors, and the tape holding my glasses together works just fine. Until my hair stylist steps on them.

Yes, Noah, my dazzling dreamboat of a hair guru created a mini disaster, but I don’t mind at all. He’s a sweet, funny, kind jock who—

Screech! No jocks. I have nothing in common with sporty people.

Except…Noah is different.

Noah

I don’t date. However, I’m not opposed to offering fashion advice to a sexy professor in need. A haircut, a quick shopping expedition…

Boom! Mission accomplished.

Not so fast. I’ve misjudged the situation and my attraction to the geek with the tragic sense of style. Sure, Thomas is too smart for me by a long shot, but there’s something about him that makes it easy to forget my past. It might be his quietly commanding nature or his movie-star good looks. Or maybe it’s just him.

All I know is that I’m very tempted to be the professor’s date.

The Professor’s Date is an MM geek/jock romance featuring a nerdy professor, a soccer-playing hair stylist, and a quest for the perfect date!

Excerpt

“Would you happen to have any cyanoacrylate?”

I wrinkled my nose. “Cyano…what?”

“Superglue.”

“Oh, I think I have some in my SUV. If not, there’s a drug store on the next corner. Just give me a minute to clean up.”

Thomas held up a finger, squinting through his good lens like a drunk owl. “Thank you, but I don’t require assistance.”

“I’m responsible for this mini disaster. I won’t be able to sleep tonight if I don’t do something to help out.” I shook my head mournfully. “And I’m a mess without my eight hours, so please…”

He gave in with a sigh. “All right.”

I did a mini happy dance, hoping he’d crack a smile. No such luck. However, there was a decent chance he couldn’t see me and yes, I was vain and ridiculous, but it was better than thinking I’d irritated him beyond redemption. He’d liked me five minutes ago, damn it. Maybe even lusted after me. I wasn’t crazy. I noticed those shy, sideways admiring glances, and I preferred them to his current stoically distant expression.

I tidied my area at warp speed, sweeping up the largest clumps of hair before dousing my hands with sanitizer and pulling my man bag from the mini locker in the corner. I slung it over my shoulder, peeked my head around the partition to say a quick au revoir to Easton, then motioned for Thomas to follow me.

“I parked in the lot behind the coffee shop. This way.”

I kept up a steady barrage of inane conversation on the short walk to my ride, ranging from spring weather and the flowers in bloom at the park near my condo to my yearly allergy woes. You know…nonsensical filler designed to entertain the sexy stranger who’d gone ghostly quiet.

His silence made me nervous. I liked it better when we were discussing merman dick. I didn’t know how to restore that mood, but fixing his lenses was probably a good start.

I popped open the hatch of my white Explorer and yanked a giant duffel from under a portable net to reach a small plastic toolbox. In my haste to rearrange the bags, a soccer ball rolled toward me and bounced onto the pavement.

Thomas scooped up the ball before it got away, then held it from his body, his brow furrowed hard enough to leave premature lines on his forehead. “What’s this?”

“My equipment. Just…shove it anywhere,” I instructed, bending to sift through drill bits, wrenches, and tape measures.

“My vision is laughably bad, but this appears to be sports paraphernalia. American soccer, perchance?”

Now, that was kind of cute.

“You are correct, sir.” I plucked the ball from his fingers and wedged it into the open duffel, and returned to my task.

“Is it yours?”

“The ball? Yes, I—oh, I think I found it.” I tossed him a quick smile as I groped around the bottom of the box and pulled out…a dried-up tube of superglue. “Crap. We’ll have to go to the drug store for your cyanide.”

“Cyanoacrylate.”

“That’s it. I promise it won’t take long. In fact, I’ll buy you coffee afterward. We can sip lattes while we wait for the glue to dry.”

“Thank you, but that’s really not necessary.”

“I insist.” I shut the hatch, turning toward him as I locked my SUV with my key fob. He met my gaze, though his pronounced squint indicated he couldn’t see me well.

Thomas pushed his mangled glasses to the bridge of his nose and somehow managed to look fierce as hell. Call me crazy, but the steely professorial armor under his rumpled façade was hot. Very hot. I wouldn’t mind climbing him like a tree, mussing his newly shorn locks, licking his lips, and—

“It was nice to meet you, Noah.”

Screech!

He offered a vague smile and turned away.

Shit.

I watched his retreating form, admiring his broad shoulders while berating myself for being such an idiot. But I let him go. I had to. It was a free world, and he was a big boy. He certainly didn’t have to listen to me. It was just a little worrisome that he’d risk life and limb and walking into walls—

Bam! He collided with the side of the bank building.

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, 2018-2019, 2020-2021 Rainbow Awards. She loves wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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New Release Blitz ~ The Hunt God’s Hound by AT Lander (Excerpt & Giveaway)

The Hunt God’s Hound by AT Lander

Book 3 in the Of Gods and Men series

Word Count: 26,393
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 113

Genres:

EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
GODS AND GODDESSES
HISTORICAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

 

Heroes aren’t real, and neither is love…right?

Conall, a snarky and cynical Irish goatherd, just wants a boring life—no quests, no heroes and definitely no curses. That all falls apart when a chance encounter with a Fomori sorcerer leaves him trapped in the body of a female wolfhound.

Arlen, a kind and noble hunter of the Tuatha de Danann, is tracking his most dangerous target yet, but his skills are not enough. To track this magical monster, he needs someone touched by its power…someone like Conall.

They strike a deal—to hunt their mutual enemy while Arlen bends the curse as much as he can. Now a hound by day and a human by night, Conall’s heart and instincts draw him to his handsome rescuer. When he goes into heat, it starts a tempest of passion and emotion that will either bring them together or tear them apart.

Can these two unlikely companions overcome an ancient evil, or will their story end in tragedy?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of animal slaughter, violence and injury. There is a cursed main character and mentions of breeding the shapeshifted MC.

Excerpt

Conall had definitely gotten fucked last night. Fucked and drunk. There was an unpleasant ache in his head, along with the lovely ache in his ass. He waited for his uncle’s shouting to pierce through his hangover, but it didn’t come.

That was nice. The bed was also nice, a warm nest of blankets with a firm mattress—a breathing, human mattress. That explained the ‘fucked’ part of last night, as well as the lack of yelling—he had to be in someone else’s house.

Or someone else’s tent, as Conall saw when he opened his eyes. The previous night came flooding back to him, and he grinned at the memory. The local lord had thrown a feast to honor some victorious mercenaries, and someone had remembered Conall’s skillful blow jobs. After that, there had been mead and song and some fun manhandling by a big fellow with delightful stamina.

Then memory gave way to realization. There was light filtering in through the tent-flap, the gray light of a misty dawn.

“Fuck!” Conall cursed. He should’ve been up an hour ago.

“Whazzat?” his bedmate groaned. “Stop yelling. It’s too early.”

”Goatherd’s hours,” Conall said, though he privately agreed. “Where’d you throw my clothes?”

“Why would you want clothes?” the man asked, rolling over. A hot erection nudged against Conall’s hip, making his resolve waver. “A few more minutes can’t hurt…”

“I-I have to get to work,” Conall said, fighting down his suicidal libido. After what had happened last night, he knew it wouldn’t be just ‘a few minutes’. “If I’m any later, my uncle will butcher me—”

“Your uncle, whoever he is, doesn’t scare me,” the man said breezily.

“Good for you,” Conall said. He spotted his robe and reached out of the blankets to grab it. “He’s not going to beat your ass.”

“Don’t worry about your pretty little ass,” the mercenary said with casual confidence and a pat on Conall’s rump. “I’ll keep him away from it.”

“I’m sure you will.” Conall scoffed—he’d heard that line a thousand times. “Right up until you ride off for the next war and leave me to his tender mercies.”

Conall ducked back under the covers to avoid the morning chill and did his best to wrestle the robe on without elbowing his large bedmate. It didn’t work—Conall was tall and gangly and the mercenary took up too much space. He almost jabbed the man in the face before a massive hand caught his arm.

“Why would I leave such a great piece of ass in a place like this?” the mercenary asked, like Conall was speaking nonsense. “You’ll come with me. When I’m rich and famous, you can stay in my big bed all day!”

He grinned like an optimistic idiot, and actually winked at Conall.

“So you’re going to be the next Cú Chulainn?” Conall asked dryly. “Make your name fighting and die horribly before you’re thirty?”

“Life’s short,” the man said, “but people will tell my legend forever. You’ll be in the stories too—‘the great hero’s honey-treat’.”

Conall couldn’t help it—he burst out laughing. The big lummox blinked at him in confusion, but didn’t resist when Conall tugged his arm free.

“Good luck with that,” Conall said, rolling out of the nest of blankets. The sharp chill of an Irish morning bit into his feet, and he grabbed his boots as fast as possible. “I’ll keep an ear out when the bards come through.”

The man blinked again, tilted his head as though trying to think, then shrugged. “Your loss.”

“Yep,” Conall said, and crawled out of the low tent.

It wasn’t until he felt cold air on his face that he rolled his eyes. Did the man really expect him to run off with a stranger after one good fuck and some grandiose promises? He couldn’t toss a rock without hitting a would-be hero in this part of Munster, and for every one that won cattle and glory, there were a thousand failures. Conall had survived twenty-five boring, safe years and fully intended to keep that streak going.

The mercenary camp was outside the hill fort and on the opposite side from the village, so Conall had to run. It was second nature by now—dodging between buildings, livestock and townsfolk.

He braided his shoulder-length hair as he went, pulling the black strands out of his face and tying them with a leather thong. A few of his regular bedmates threw out catcalls, and he grinned back.

At last, he came to his uncle’s house. It was built from stone, perfectly round and larger than many. The goat pen was out back, but Conall’s sling, staff and any chance at breakfast were inside. He had to run the gauntlet if he wanted to get them before his uncle caught him, but he’d been getting faster and his uncle slower every day.

He darted in and grabbed his weapons without even needing to look, then went for the cook-fire that a servant girl was sleepily poking.

“Hey!” she cried as he swiped three small flatbreads straight off the griddle. One went into his mouth and the other two into a fold of his cloak, the light burns worth each second of speed.

There you are, you son of a bitch!” his uncle yelled, but Conall was already out of the door.

“Son of your sister,” Conall muttered around his breakfast. He’d weather the inevitable storm after he took the goats out to pasture. It was almost boring—he could practically recite his uncle’s rant from memory.

Just another typical day in the life of Conall mac Cormac…

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About the Author

AT Lander

AT Lander has loved stories, both the reading and the telling, since she was a child. Born in upstate New York to an English professor and a former librarian, she now lives in the queerest part of Massachusetts. She never leaves home without a knitting project or a pencil, and she’s never met a cat she doesn’t like.

She has worked as an history museum guide, a professional storyteller, and an actress, sharing tales of what was, what could have been, and what can only be imagined. World mythology is her driving passion, as what better way to understand a people than through the tales they tell?

Follow AT Lander on Twitter and Facebook.

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New Release Blitz ~ Stolen Bride by Samantha Cayto (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Stolen Bride by Samantha Cayto

Book 3 in the Treaty Brides series

Word Count: 50,612
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 181

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
ROYALS

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Book Description


Being a bride is a state of mind, not of body.

Prince Ronan of Moorcondia knows he is one of the luckiest boys alive. As the king’s second son, he has status and wealth without the heavy weight of the crown. Every man admires his hedonistic ways, but his behavior masks a shame that he feels. What he really desires is a quiet life with a man whom he can love.

Jarl Tarben is on a mission to save his people from starvation. Efforts to forge a treaty with Moorcondia have come to naught. In a desperate bid, Tarben has been tasked with abducting Ronan and forcing him into marriage. As distasteful and dishonorable as the scheme is, duty demands that he obey. He refuses to bed the prince by force, however, leaving it Ronan’s choice.

Ronan vows not to succumb to the temptation that Tarben presents. Pride alone dictates that he remain chaste, even as he grows closer to the barbarian. Tarben is everything Ronan ever dreamed of, and the lure of him grows stronger with each day that politics keeps them together.

When unseen forces threaten to consume them both, they must put aside pride and join forces to protect both their peoples.

Reader advisory: This book features an instance of sexual assault and a forced marriage.

Excerpt

“Drink up, your highness. You’re falling behind.”

Ronan, younger son of the king of Moorcondia, shot his companion the kind of prideful grin that he’d carefully cultivated since arriving at the university. “Alas, I have to leave for an assignation with a lady and can’t afford to be too much in my cups.” He slid the glass of beer back in the direction of his classmate.

The boy barked out a laugh and clapped Ronan on his shoulder with the kind of bone-jarring exuberance that seemed so common among boys of their age. Ronan didn’t understand why every interaction had to turn into a contest of inflicting pain and humiliation. The others thought it all hilarious, reinforcing what he’d known for most of his life. He was not like them, not like any boy he’d ever met.

Not even his studious older brother thought anything strange about the rough and tumble lives of their male friends. It was merely that as the future ruler of their country, Morlen had the weight of duty on his shoulders and had to prepare for the time he would ascend to the throne. Such was the fate of the one of them who’d come out of the womb first, even by mere moments. He joined them when he could for nights of drinking and carousing, careful always not to do anything to tarnish his reputation. As the ‘spare’ in the family, Ronan had no expectations and could do most anything he liked. No, not really. He was only able to get away with what people thought a young, rich man would do. Too bad those were things he didn’t like at all.

He didn’t let his desires show on his face and instead bade his companions a good night. They gave him a raucous send-off, filled with innuendos of what they assumed he would get up to and demanding a full report the next day. He joined in the merriment with rehearsed bravado. “Now, lads, you know a gentleman never speaks of what happens between the sheets. I shall only say that I’m glad we don’t have classes tomorrow.”

Ronan threw on his heavy cloak and braced for the chilly night he knew waited for him outside. Spring was only grudgingly arriving, but his semester of classes would soon come to an end, and he could return to Moorcondia for the summer recess. It would be a relief to finally go home. This first year of university had proven more taxing than he’d expected. It wasn’t his studies. It was the strain of keeping up his pretense of being a profligate rake. No one forced him to play this charade. Morlen certainly didn’t care. But Ronan feared that if he didn’t present the image of masculinity that everyone expected, they would easily see inside him, to his true self. He wasn’t sure he could bear the scorn he felt certain would come his way.

I am a coward.

He considered, as he had many times, asking his parents to let him drop out. A university education was relatively new among the royal family. They might not care if he came back or not. But if he didn’t, what would he do then? No matter how everyone had become accustomed to his uncle’s new wife, Ronan wasn’t so stupid as to assume his family and the members of court would accept him in any role other than an advisor to his brother. He would be expected to marry the proper noblewoman to add to the next generation of the family. That was his destiny, and staying at university helped put that eventuality off for a few years. There was value in that.

Ronan’s personal guard, a somewhat grizzled man who was nonetheless capable of breaking a man’s neck with a single twist, pushed away from the wall he’d been holding up in the drinking house and silently followed in Ronan’s wake. He hated having to be chained to someone else all the time, but one older man who held no interest for him and kept his opinions to himself wasn’t so bad, although the man’s silent censure was often palpable. It was better than the contingent of younger guards who surrounded Morlen day and night—not that anyone really thought they were at risk here in this seat of learning… Still, it was important for the realm as well as each of them personally that they be safe from any violence. With Sir Frauk at his back, no one dared so much as shoot an angry look at him. Ronan simply had to pretend he didn’t care about being shadowed by another who undoubtedly gave the king regular reports on how his younger son was running wild. His whole life had become one long effort at play-acting. It felt as if no one truly understood who and what he was, not even his twin.

Ronan tugged his cloak closer as he walked through the nearly empty streets of the old city, the sound of Sir Frauk’s heavy-booted tread behind him. Monks had settled here long ago, attracting more people and founding a community. Starting a place of higher learning had come naturally to those original men, and now the university was surrounded by a vibrant city that existed on the edge of Moorcondia. It was a hub of trading, as well, attracting commerce from all over, except from those people who dwelled in the Dark Mountains. They kept to themselves, enigmas as much as the land where they lived. The craggy rocks were not inviting and rose high into the clouds.

They cast a looming shadow over this part of the city in particular—not surprising, given that this was where one went for less savory pursuits. The boys at the university considered it a badge of courage that they ventured here late at night. Ronan despised it and couldn’t wait to reach his apartments. All he wanted to do was take a relaxing bath and curl up in bed with a good book. He could picture his valet waiting patiently for his return. Unlike Frauk, Igon was quick to show his disapproval of Ronan’s nighttime pursuits. But once he’d settled Ronan into bed, he left him blessedly alone.

Ronan picked up his pace with eyes on the uneven cobblestones to ensure that he didn’t slip. The fashionable boots he wore pleased him, but they weren’t very sturdy. The last thing he wanted was for Frauk to think it was drink that made him stumble. The man suddenly uttered a muted cry, very unlike him. Ronan turned to see why and froze at the sight of the large soldier crashing to the ground. Another man, little more than a dark figure, heavily armed, loomed over him. Ronan stepped forward, although to do what he couldn’t fathom. He was terrible at the martial arts and didn’t possess so much as knife on him.

A rush of air and a flicker of something out of the corner of his eye was all the warning he got before someone grabbed him from behind. He was swept off his feet, and a cloth was pressed against his nose and mouth. Trained in warfare as he was, he instinctively started to put up a fight. Whoever had him, though, was far stronger, the man’s massive arm holding him around his chest in a vise-like grip. And there was something soaking the gag, a sweet smell that made his head swim. As he fought to regain his freedom, the drug caused his muscles to go lax. Then there was nothing.

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About the Author

Samantha Cayto

Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.

She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don’t understand why they can’t read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.

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New Release Blitz ~ Buried by Despair by Jayce Carter (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Buried by Despair by Jayce Carter

Book 3 in the Dark Sanctuary Series

Word Count:  79,908
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 297

GENRES:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
REVERSE HAREM

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Book Description

 

One brat against three Doms—let the fun begin.

After an attack leaves Kat with scars—both the ones on her skin and others far deeper—she tries to hide from the world. Even going to Sanctuary, where she’d always felt safe before, seems too difficult. Each time she looks in the mirror, she can’t see the confident woman she used to be.

Dean, Olin and Bradley can’t stop thinking about the feisty brat who has lost her spark. They miss the way she used to smile, how she stood toe-to-toe with anyone, and now they’ll do whatever it takes to help her find that part of herself again.

A happily ever after will be more difficult than any of them expect, however, as the threat to Kat turns out to be far from over. Bodies start to appear that look just like her, and the man who hurt her is closing in on them all.

Can Kat find her strength again or will the man stalking her finish her off this time?

Excerpt

This isn’t right at all.

Frustration caused Kat to toss her pen across the desk. After six different attempts at the same cartoon, she’d hit her limit.

She needed to get something new up on her store, since she’d kept up with a biweekly schedule for over two years without fail, but nothing had come to her. Somehow, all those cute little ideas she normally had, the quips, the humor, the adorable characters with large eyes and charm, sat just out of reach.

Kat folded her arms on her desk and dropped her head onto them. Her back ached from the hours she’d spent staring at her sketch pad, from all the attempts that had led to nothing. She kept thinking that if she started drawing, some idea would come to her.

It always had before.

The problem?

Each time she tried, her brain went AWOL, and she found herself back in that damned hotel room. A flash of pain, the memory of a smirking face—

“Knock it off!” She stood, shaking her hands as if that would dispel the memory she’d been running from for the past few weeks.

It didn’t work, but what other option did she have?

Kat paced, then reached to smooth her hands over her hair. She grimaced at how oily it was. How long had it been since she’d washed it?

Days. Maybe longer?

The sensation grossed her out, but the idea of stripping down, of taking a shower, that seemed far worse. She hadn’t been willing to attempt it, choosing instead to use clean wipes on the important areas.

Fox Asher, the doctor who had taken care of her at the hospital, had said no baths anyway.

Fine by me. What does it matter?

Kat sighed and shook her head. She’d never been a coward before, so what was wrong with her now?

The ringing of her phone made her jump, her fingers clutching the front of her button-up pajama top, as if holding it closed made it into some sort of armor. Once it filtered through her head that it was only her phone, Kat cursed herself and picked up her cell from the desk.

Sunny’s name flashed across the screen, and the desire to ignore it hit her.

Then again, if she didn’t answer, Sunny would show up with Garrison, Connor and Trent in tow. Kat had ignored calls for days, having no desire to talk to anyone, but that sort of understanding only went so far.

Not only was Sunny sweet, but the Doms of Sanctuary, the BDSM club that felt like the one place in the whole world where Kat belonged, were both protective and tenacious. The last thing she needed was for any of them to show up and disturb her hiding.

She sighed and answered the call. “Hey, Sunny.”

“Kat…” Sunny’s voice was exactly what Kat didn’t want to hear. It was pity and worry.

At least it was Sunny and not Ell, though. Sunny was sweet and worried, but Ell had been there. Kat couldn’t handle seeing that knowledge in Ell’s face.

Kat forced some levity into her voice, faking a smile she didn’t feel. “What’s with that voice? Did you make the mistake of taking my advice and hiding Trent’s paddle?” The last word caught in Kat’s throat.

Something that would have made her laugh before felt like swallowing rusty nails, and that same memory of pain hit her.

“I just miss you,” Sunny said, ignoring Kat’s statement. Damn, it would have been so much easier if Sunny was carefree. Instead, she had that ‘I really care’ tone of voice.

“I’ve been busy with work,” Kat lied.

“Uh-huh. Well, I thought maybe you could come over soon? We could have dinner. I’ll cook something you love.”

“I’m swamped right now. It’s not a good time.”

Sunny sighed. “You can’t just hide away from the world.”

“I’m not.”

“I know how you feel, but you don’t have to go through this alone.”

Kat squeezed her eyes shut and trapped the words she wanted to scream inside her head. She wanted to tell Sunny that she had no idea what Kat was going through, that she didn’t need sympathy, that what she needed was to get back to regular life and forget the whole thing as soon as possible.

Yet…when offered a chance at regular—meaning dinner with her friends—Kat couldn’t stomach the idea.

“There isn’t anything to worry about,” Kat said. “I really need to get going, though. We’ll talk again soon, okay?”

Sunny’s voice echoed through the line, but Kat didn’t want to hear it. She hit the End button, her head pounding, her breath racing. She all but collapsed into her office chair, her knees weak and her hands trembling.

The ringing of the phone made her squeeze her eyes shut as she dropped her head into her hands and ignored the sound.

Her life had changed so much but she couldn’t move forward.

And each time she shut her eyes, all she could see was the face of the man who had done it to her, who had turned her into this, and she wasn’t sure if that would ever go away.

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About the Author

Jayce Carter

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing. You can learn more about her at her website.

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New Release Blitz: Like Real People Do by E.L. Massey (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Like Real People Do

Series: Breakaway, Book One

Author: E.L. Massey

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/23/2022

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 88800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, gay, interracial, new adult, sports, ice hockey, uni student, ice skating, professional athlete, slow burn, rivals/enemies to lovers, physical disability, anxiety disorder, in the closet, coming out, service dog, cooking/foodies, Louboutin devotion, stanning, friends to lovers, social media, vlogging, hashtags

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Description

Nineteen-year-old hockey phenom Alexander Price is the youngest-ever captain in the NHL. With a polarizing social media presence and a predilection for dirty play, he typifies the stereotype of young, out-of-control athlete. But away from the cameras, Alex is a kid with an anxiety disorder and the expectations of an expansion franchise on his shoulders. And maybe he tries too hard to fit the part of asshole playboy, but it’s better than the alternative; in his line of work, gay is the punchline of an insult, not something he can be.

Eighteen-year-old vlogger Elijah Rodriguez is a freshman in college recovering from an injury that derailed his Olympic figure-skating dreams. Mixed-race, disabled, and out of the closet since he was fourteen, Eli is unapologetically himself. He has no qualms about voicing his disapproval of celebrity jocks who make homophobic jokes on Twitter and park their flashy cars in the handicapped spaces outside of ice rinks.

After an antagonistic introduction, Alex and Eli’s inexplicable friendship both baffles and charms the internet. But navigating relationships is hard enough for normal teenagers. It’s a lot harder when the world—much of it disapproving—is watching you fall in love with your best friend.

Excerpt

Like Real People Do
E.L. Massey © 2022
All Rights Reserved

There are admittedly worse things in the world than having to walk two blocks on a Wednesday morning in July.

Eli knows from experience there are worse things in the world.

Like being diagnosed with epilepsy at sixteen.

Like having heat-induced seizures and living in Texas.

Objectively, he knows there are worse things, but right at this moment, he can’t think of many because it’s 6:00 a.m., and he isn’t allowed to have caffeine because they’ve changed his medication again, and he’s had to park in the visitor’s garage because the only two handicap spaces at the north entrance of the Houston Hell Hounds official practice facility had been occupied by one parallel-parked Land Rover decidedly lacking handicap tags.

“Motherfucking hockey players,” Eli says to the empty sidewalk.

So now he’s running late because it’d taken him an extra ten minutes to find the visitors’ lot, and he’d still needed to stop and let his dog pee before they entered the complex. Because being the disabled kid whose service dog pees in the rink on the first day of practice will guarantee he never has a collegiate social life to speak of. Not that he holds out particularly high hopes for that anyway.

The security guard at the door barely glances at his newly printed student ID before waving him to the left with a tired, “Rink Three, end of the hallway on your right.”

She looks like she could use some coffee too.

“Right. Thanks.” Eli shifts his backpack, sparing a last hateful glance at the Land Rover outside.

“Hey, do you happen to know whose car that is out front? License plate AP23?”

She lifts one eyebrow. “You mean Alexander Price?”

Because of course. Of course it was Alexander Price. Eli tries to avoid too much familiarity with the hockey world, but there are some things you just know if you spend enough time around ice, and one of those things is the name of the youngest current captain in the NHL, who is apparently just as much of a douche off the ice as tabloids would suggest.

Eli takes a steadying breath. “You know where I could find him?”

The security guard considers Eli’s expression, then the dog at his feet, then the ill-parked vehicle outside.

“I take it you don’t want an autograph?”

“No.”

She gives him an apologetic smile. “I don’t think I can have his car towed, but I can file a complaint if you’d like.”

“That would be great, thanks.”

He starts to move forward again before pausing. “Do you know if Jeff Cooper is back from IR?” he asks. He doesn’t make a habit of following hockey, but when he’s potentially in the same building as a gold-medal-winning, world-junior-figure-skater-turned-NHL-player, he’d like to know.

“Yeah. As of this week, he’s cleared to skate no-contact in practices.” She grins. “He also parks in the players’ lot like he’s supposed to.”

Eli would expect nothing less.

“They’re in practice for another hour and a half,” she adds. “But sometimes Cooper does the meet and greet afterward.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, Rink Two.” She nods to the right hallway. “Price will be there, too, but he almost never comes out afterward.”

“Shocking.”

The doors open behind him and an entirely too-awake girl wearing a hijab that matches her leggings waves at them both and hands over her student ID.

“Morning,” she says, careful not to run over Hawk’s tail with her rolling skate bag. “Your dog is beautiful.”

“Thanks,” Eli says. “Are you a freshman too?”

Which is a stupid question because he knows the rest of the figure skating team isn’t supposed to start practice for another week. Obviously, she’s there for freshman orientation just like he is.

“Yeah!” she says, apparently immune to his idiocy. “I’m Morgan. Just moved in last night. Thank god for coffee, right? I’m so nervous I didn’t sleep at all.”

“Right,” he agrees wryly. “I’m Eli.”

She gets her ID back from the security guard, and they start down the left hallway together.

“It’s so cool the Hell Hounds share their facilities with the university,” she says. “Did you know their practices are open to the public? I think I might go try to get an autograph or two later if we have time.”

“Yeah,” he says. “I might join you.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

E. L. Massey is a human. Probably. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her partner, the best dog in the world (an unbiased assessment), and a frankly excessive collection of books. She spends her holidays climbing mountains and writing fan fiction, occasionally at the same time.

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New Release Blitz: Nurturing Hope by Kara Ripley (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Nurturing Hope

Author: Kara Ripley

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/23/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 88500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, children, criminals, interracial, law enforcement, pets, political

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Description

Desiree Adler does not want a girlfriend. Why would she? She has a demanding career as a photographer and content creator, an eccentric but supportive family, and a huge responsibility as a foster parent to a teenager named Hope.

Desi’s life is just fine the way it is. Why risk another heartbreak?

However, Desi’s sister is annoyingly persistent and when she arranges a blind date for Desi, it’s less trouble to agree, get it over with, and return to normal life. The blind date is every bit as terrible as predicted. So why can’t Desi stop thinking about Soledad Reyes?

If Desi has any hope of finding balance in life, she must help Hope confront the ghosts of her past, while confronting her own assumptions about race, power, and identity in the present.

Excerpt

Nurturing Hope
Kara Ripley © 2022
All Rights Reserved

California

2019

There are a lot of things I love about living in Sacramento. For a start, there’s enough distance from Silicon Valley that I can actually afford rent. Having grown up in one of the less-appealing suburbs of San Francisco, being able to get a place with a bathroom built for actual human beings and a little yard space is a nice change from the sardine box I’d shared with my parents and sisters.

Then there’s the aesthetics of the city. Driving beyond the stoic government buildings and office spaces, citrus trees line the streets like scented sigils and neat, paved driveways stretch up to meet welcoming houses. The whole place has a real sense of home about it, the kind of comfort and connection that can only come from a well-organized city with a steady rhythm of activity.

I’ve got routines, things I do to provide structure to my life. Early on Sundays, before I dig into my work for the day, I take my teenage foster daughter to the Farmer’s Market and we wander through stalls that sell the best fresh food California has to offer. Strawberries. Beets. Eggs. All of it delectable. Hope says she hates our weekend excursions, but I think I’m gradually wearing her down, convincing her that maybe she isn’t allergic to peaches, tomatoes, and fresh air after all.

Given the nature of my work, with most of my time spent in an office chair staring at a computer screen, getting outside, whether to the market, to the gym, or, like today, to an off-site job, was normally a real joy.

I grimaced as I scanned yet another useless street sign. I normally love driving around Sacramento. But I don’t love being lost when I’m meant to be at a job site taking photographs.

“Where the heck is this damned street?” I yelled at my steering wheel, which obstinately refused to help. Surely cars should be advanced enough to get me where I need to go. I mean, it’s the twenty-first century and that’s a basic part of the job description for a vehicle: taking me from one place to another.

“Turn left here.” The assertive New Yorker who voiced my GPS had never annoyed me more.

“There is no left!” I waved toward the sidewalk to prove my point. I was already fifteen minutes late and the car’s navigation system wasn’t doing me any favors by insisting I drive straight into some poor family’s front lawn.

I’m not always this irritable, honest. Most of the time, I’m fairly calm. But today was not my day.

“Does this place even exist?” I drummed my fingers against the gear shift. “This is your fault. Why can’t you find Morts Road? What am I even paying you for?” I shook my head. “Meet Desiree Adler folks, the woman who drives around yelling at nobody.”

The fact I was arguing with a piece of software didn’t deter me from swearing at her repeated instruction. It felt like whatever could go wrong that morning, had gone wrong.

My water heater, after weeks of whining and moaning every time someone took a shower, made a valiant last stand before finally dying in a cacophony of hoots and whistles. Of course, this happened before I needed to rinse the conditioner from my hair.

Let’s not even talk about what our ten-month-old Labrador did to my new jeans while I finished off my ice-cold shower. I’d planned to wear those jeans to the blind date my sister Clara had lined up for that night. It took about sixty minutes of throwing clothes about my bedroom to finally decide on a suitable replacement outfit, and even then, I settled for something that looked kind of ordinary because I was sick of trying things on.

Ginger Snaps—I let my boss’s son name the dog—may be freaking adorable, but she’s also a menace.

So, given the first two hours of my day had already been pretty crappy, when the police lights flashed red and blue in my rear-view mirror, you can imagine the whole new level of obscenities that escaped my mouth. But, if you can’t, it was something like this: “For fucking fuck’s sake. Just fuck right off, fucking fucker.” The Monty Python team would have been proud.

Shaking my head, I flicked on my turn signal and pulled over. I sighed as I tapped at the steering wheel. I wasn’t sure what I had done but between arguing with the GPS and rolling my eyes at non-existent roads, I certainly hadn’t noticed myself speeding or going through a red light. Maybe the cop needed to meet some quota for random breath tests. I just hoped he was quick about it. My boss was not exactly going to get happier the later I was.

I glanced in my rear-view mirror and nearly spat out the gum I’d been chewing. The cop wasn’t a he. It was a she, and I started to wonder if she’d gotten lost on the way to the audition for a blockbuster film.

There’s no way a police officer, on an average day at work, should be allowed to be that attractive. As she sauntered toward me, I watched her move in line with my side-view mirror. The officer had a dark beige complexion and long, black hair pulled into a tight and high ponytail. Intelligent brown eyes rested between slightly arched eyebrows and an aquiline nose that complimented the delicious seriousness of her face. It wasn’t normal for a real-life human being to be so beautiful.

I couldn’t be sure if I hated her for being stunning, or if I wanted her to show me how her handcuffs worked. A confusing thought, given the way my palms always turned clammy whenever cops were around.

Knock knock.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Kara Ripley is the romance-writing alter ego of Australian sci-fi and fantasy author, Rebecca Langham. Even though she’s named after two iconic sci-fi characters, Kara reflects Rebecca’s inner romantic, that part of her secretly wanting to leave the aliens, magic, and spaceships behind every now and then.

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