Guest · New Release · Release Blitz · Reviews

Guest post & review: My Ticket Out by J.N. Marton

Hiya,

I hope you’re keeping well. I’ve been readying My Way for release, which should be done by the end of the week, but in the meantime… I’d like to welcome my guest J. N. Marton with her new novel My Ticket Out. 

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RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: My Ticket Out

Author: J.N. Marton

Cover Artist: 100Covers

Release Date: November 17, 2020

Genres: Contemporary F/F Romance, Coming-of-age

Tropes: Forbidden love(ish) and friends to lovers

Themes: Coming out, Embracing who you are

Heat Rating: 2-3 flames

Length: 260 pages

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

A senior basketball player. A mysterious new girl. A secret romance…

Blurb

Charlie Baker wants out. She wants out of her small, southern hometown of BluHaven and she has her sights set on a basketball scholarship to a college as far away as her dreams can take her. Everything is going according to plan until she moves to town.

Aspen Sullivan is breathtaking. She is beautiful, smart, talented…. She evokes feelings in Charlie that she hadn’t thought possible. When their friendship blossoms into something more, Charlie discovers a new truth about herself. But with Aspen’s mysterious past, they must keep their relationship a secret.

Will their love be strong enough to endure the trials of deceiving those closest to them? Do they have what it takes to escape the constraints of the south and the closet together?

My Ticket Out is a Young Adult, LGBT story about love, and self-discovery. If you enjoy stories that include romance, heartbreak, and embracing who you are, then you will definitely love this book by author J.N. Miller.

Pick this book up today to see if Charlie will find her ticket out.

Review

Friends-to-lovers and coming out tales have forever been favourites of mine, no matter when that dawn of awakening occurs. I’ve particularly loved books about two girl friends falling in love since reading my very first: Hey Dollface by Deborah Hautzig, many moons ago. It remains a charming coming of age story to this day, despite being more than a mite dated, having been published in 1978. This book makes that one seem…fluffy. Quaint. While both are told from the POV of a teenager who finds herself falling for her new best friend, forty years makes for a very different read. 

Charlie and Aspen’s story is far from a ‘romance’ in many ways. They spend as much of the novel apart as they do together, and those shared times often focus on the difficulties they face, rather than the romance aspect. Although there were some lovely moments of emotional intimacy, these insights were often shared retrospectively by Charlie. Expressed through sorrow when she and Aspen were forced apart, rather than shown during their together times. All my favourite scenes were their stolen moments spent curled up, watching movies and simply hanging out. I would have loved more of these and a mite less angst but that is purely a personal preference. 

The students and school setting were written so well and captured so vividly, I felt myself transported back in time. So much so, I wouldn’t have been surprised to feel a sore throat coming on. Or a headache. Period pains. Appendicitis. The peer pressure and spite, bitchiness and bullying were palpable. How I felt for Charlie in those scenes and admired her strength in both facing them and remaining true to herself.

I rooted for Charlie and Aspen all the way, no matter how fractured their relationship became at times. They had a helluva lot to overcome in order to be together. It was hard to judge Aspen for falling in line with her fathers wishes and trying to placate him because being a teenager is tough enough without losing the love of a lone parent. Her subsequent actions were less easy to forgive…if understandable in the face of that fear. He was a difficult man with his own issues, which is a scary tightrope to walk without further inciting their ire.

It was harder to forgive Charlie at times for being a very selfish sort of friend. Riley is a fabulous character and loyal to the last. I possibly liked her, Matty (Charlie’s brother), and Aspen’s Aunt Beth most of all. Charlie treated Riley  dreadfully when their rivalry for the basketball scholarship reared its head. Riley may have had more options open to her, but Charlie’s passive-aggressive attempts to guilt her into giving up the place, should she earn it, made me very uncomfortable. Charlie’s dreams may have depended on what she deemed her ‘ticket out’, but the pressure she put on Riley to reject the opportunity was most unfair. Particularly when Charlie herself uses the expression ‘it’s not fair’ very often when things don’t go her way.

Living in the UK, it is shocking to witness such everyday religious bigotry. Homophobia tends to be a…visceral reaction to same sex couples here; be that a personal hatred or learned within a family. While I’m sure we must have extreme evangelical Christians intent on praying the gay away, I never come into contact with them. While I have known devout Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons, English Protestants don’t tend to vehemently expound their beliefs. The bigotry Charlie and Aspen faced from God-fearing folk was gut wrenching, heartbreaking. It makes me sick to my stomach that people who preach that God is love spend so much time proclaiming hatred.

This story is a rollercoaster ride of emotion, rather than a romance. It focuses on Charlie’s personal growth rather than that of her relationship with Aspen. A fact which seems borne out by the ending of the book, so don’t hold out in hope of a hea for its heroines. However, if you enjoy well-written stories that put you through an emotional wringer of very real feels, this is for you.

MY TICKET OUT

Excerpt

Chapter 1

“We did not come this far to roll over like a bunch of pigs! Take the ball and put it in the damn basket!”

Falcons on three… one… two… three… FALCONS.”

Twelve seconds left on the clock.

One more shot.

One more play.

One last chance.

Twelve seconds is all the time we need.

Defense pounces the second the ball is inbounded like a leach latching itself to the only available life source.

The fast break is swift–over before it even started. One hard dribble towards the middle and the ball is launched to the center of the court.

Seven seconds left.

What comes next is second nature. A hard cut to the basket and back out to the wing, my hands raised in the air as I catch the ball before defense has time to adjust.

Four seconds left… Three seconds… the ball rolls off my fingertips.

Two seconds… it swirls around the rim.

One second… and falls to the ground.

The sound of the buzzer erupts through the gymnasium, solidifying our defeat. Final score thirty-six to thirty-seven.

I inhale the musty stench of sweat, perfume, and hairspray as we sulk into the locker room and take a seat while we wait for the aftermath that is Coach Stewart. I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees and focus on the sweat dripping from my forehead, plummeting to the ground, leaving a minuscule puddle between my shoes.

One shot.

That’s all we needed. And I blew it.

My main priority from the second this year started was getting a basketball scholarship out of this small town. From our very first game, it’s felt like my life has been dependent on one specific goal. A single accomplishment–like making the game winning shot–is going to make or break my future.

Coach Stewart charges through the door, letting it slam against the concrete wall as he steps in front of us. His gaze is intentional and cold, his demeanor full of discontent and indignation. His eyes trace over us, one by one, pausing just long enough for us to feel the misery set in.

He dips his head, slowly shaking it back and forth, before he holds up his index finger. “One shot. One damn shot. That’s all we needed to be undefeated this season.” He lifts his head, settling his hands on his hips. “We made mistakes tonight. And sometimes one mistake is the difference between winning and losing. The season’s not over yet. We’ll just have to practice a little harder to end it on a high. We’ve got a few games left, don’t give up now. Practice tomorrow after school. Bring it in.

Falcons on three… one… two… three… FALCONS.”

I shuffle to my locker, ignoring the hushed conversations happening around me, and begin gathering my stuff.

“That was a nice shot, Charlie,” Riley says as she pulls off her jersey, tossing it to the growing pile on the floor and retrieves her tshirt from the locker next to mine.

“Thanks,” I mutter, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and sling my bag across my shoulders, heading for the door.

I get about three steps away from the locker room when I’m cut off by Ben. He’s wearing faded jeans, a red and black flannel over a plain white shirt, and boots with dried mud on the sides. The typical wardrobe of the boys that live around here. He’s taller than me by about three inches, with chocolate brown hair falling in his face, and forest green eyes that can’t seem to focus on what’s in front of him. “Hey, Charlie. Nice game.”

“Thanks,” I say, trying to brush past him.

He takes one long stride to the right, blocking my path. “I was thinking about checking out that new movie this weekend. Thought you might like to join me?”

“No thanks, I’m busy.”

He leans in closer, the smell of popcorn lingering on his breath, “C’mon, Charlie,” He whispers, “It’ll be fun. It wasn’t too long ago you jumped at the chance to go out with me.”

That’s not actually true. I only went out with him because Riley insisted and I finally agreed in order to get her off my back, not because I found him even remotely attractive. Of course, he doesn’t realize that, which isn’t all that surprising when I really think about it. We did the typical dinner and movie date but he couldn’t hold a conversation that didn’t revolve around him. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, he’s shoving his tongue down my throat. I managed to wrangle him off before awkwardly sitting there trying to pretend I was somewhat interested in the film playing on screen. I haven’t gone out with him since.

“Ben, I need to get home. Can we talk about this some other time?”

“So,” he says, straightening up, his tone chipper as a smile plays around his mouth, “You’ll think about it?”

I stagger past him, picking up my pace as the EXIT sign beacons above the door, hoping my silence will answer his question.

I step outside, breathing in the bitter, frigid air of late February and make my way to my old grey Sedan. I pull out of the parking lot and head towards downtown. BluHaven is a small, southern town where the same families, shops, restaurants, and business have been here for generations. There’s a church on nearly every street corner, everything shuts down on Sundays, high school sports are the main source of entertainment, and everybody knows everything about everyone.

They say you have the freedom to be whoever you want to be, to express yourself in your own way. But if that goes against the belief system that’s been set in stone since before I was born, then don’t even bother. It’s not that I hate living here. It’s just that I never felt like I truly fit in, like my place has always been somewhere else in this world.

About the Author

J.N. Marton graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor’s degree in education. Along with educating the future of our nation, she enjoys taking her daily morning run, reading any book she can get her hands on, and binge watching the latest shows on Netflix. Marton happily lives with her wife, Hollis, and their Lab/Basset Hound mix, Sam.

Email her at jnmartonauthor@gmail.com and follow her on her favorite social media platform, Twitter @jn_marton.

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cover reveal · Guest · New Release

Cover Reveal: The Valet by Mel Gough

Hiya,

I love this cover and the book itself looks fabulous. 🥰I never can resist a spot of forbidden romance. Or white tie and tails, for which I blame Count Victor Grazinski…and, o’course…one Thin White Duke… 😻

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*****

A warm welcome to my guest, Mel Gough, with her new novel, The Valet. Out on December 1st.

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: The Valet

Author: Mel Gough

Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design

Release Date: December 1, 2020

Genre/s: Historical M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forbidden love

Themes: Restoring trust

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Goodreads

When love does not dare speak its name, trusting is the hardest thing to learn.

Blurb

England, 1910 – Ted has a good situation as first footman at Montague Hall, the splendid Gloucestershire manor of the 6th Earl of Carran. But he has just made a mistake so serious it could cost him his position, and even land him in prison if the authorities found out.

As valet to the 9th Duke of Argyll, Richard’s London life is glamorous. But when he has his heart broken, he longs to get as far away from the city as possible. The pace at Montague Hall might be sedate, but its tranquillity is like a salve to his shattered soul. And unforeseen diversions are to be found even here. Like handsome, despondent first footmen.

The last thing Ted needs is a new temptation. But his Lordship’s new valet isn’t just gorgeous. Richard is also brave and kind – and he wants to make Ted happy, something Ted never dreamt would come to pass.

Trusting again is hard, and in a world that reviles their love happiness is hard-won. Can they hope to carve out a contented life against all odds?

Excerpt

Dorcas was just coming through the baize door, carrying a tray stacked high with serving bowls. Ted hurried to hold the door for her.

“Thank you.” She gave him a smile and quickly but gently deposited her load on a sideboard.

Ted was fond of the head housemaid. They got on well, and unlike many of the other servants, Ted trusted her. Dorcas was plain-spoken and a hard worker, and she didn’t tolerate the mean kind of teasing that some of the younger servants engaged in with impunity.

He went to open one of the tall cabinets where a couple of shelves were bare. “Here, I’ll do it.” He started stacking the bowls on the shelves, which were too high for Dorcas to reach without a footstool.

“Thank you.” Dorcas rubbed her arms. “Golly, those were heavy. Good thing Mrs Stokes didn’t see me. That would’ve been quite the hiding.”

“She would’ve had good reason.” Ted hefted the bowls. “Imagine if you had tripped with these!”

“Yes, but the stairs are steep and narrow, and it’s bad enough coming up once with that huge tray.” She watched as Ted opened a different cupboard and started counting bread plates. “Aren’t you done yet? You’ve been up here an age!”

Ted made a face. “You know what Mr Wymer is like. He won’t stand for a single spoon out of alignment. And Jimmy’s managed to wriggle out from under him, so I’m doing the dogsbody work.”

Dorcas clicked her tongue impatiently. “You have to stop letting him walk all over you, Ted.” She stood with her hands pressed into her sides, shaking her head. “Who’s the first footman, hmm? You or him?”

Ted kept his eyes on the plates. He might have confided many things in Dorcas, but the reason why he didn’t dare vex Jimmy was too shameful to share even with her. “You’re right, of course. But…you know what he’s like.”

“Oh Ted.” Dorcas sighed. “What are we to do with you?” She turned back towards the door to the back stairs, but then wheeled back around. “I nearly forgot! You were up here, and you wouldn’t have heard yet.” With a glance at the door to the dining room, which was half-open, she lowered her voice. “You won’t believe what happened. Mr Brown has handed in his notice. He just told us.”

Ted stared at her. “What do you mean?” He nodded towards the dining room. “But Mr Wymer didn’t say anything. He must be aware.”

“You know what Mr Wymer is like. Discreet to a fault.” Dorcas put on a serious face and lowered her voice. “An upstanding servant does not gossip, Theodore.”

Despite himself, Ted grinned. The imitation was spot on. Then he remembered the news and grew sombre again. “So Mr Brown’s gone.” After Dorcas, the Earl’s valet was Ted’s second favourite amongst the servants. They weren’t bosom friends – clearly, or Mr Brown would’ve confided his plans in him – but Ted valued the man’s support against Jimmy and Mrs Dankworth, who was the Countess’s lady’s maid and who liked to team up with Jimmy to make Ted’s life hell. Losing the valet would bring change to the balance downstairs, and that would not bode well for Ted. An unease settled in his gut.

Dorcas seemed not to notice. “He’s not gone yet, but he will be by the end of the week. The Earl agreed to let him go on short notice. You know he’s courting the daughter of that Cheltenham pub. Her father died a few days ago, and they need to move quickly so that the pub can stay open.”

“Mr Brown is going to be a pub landlord.” Ted was bemused by the idea. “You’d think that being valet for an Earl would beat that life any day.” He couldn’t imagine leaving service. The work at Montague Hall wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but the house was comfortable and the Peytons were fair employers. After what he’d left behind at home in Yorkshire, this house was paradise. But then he remembered the impossible situation he’d gotten himself into with Jimmy. Maybe starting over new somewhere wouldn’t be so bad.

Dorcas shrugged. “I guess love trumps all in the end.”

Ted didn’t know what to say to that. He knew that people like Dorcas believed this, but he also knew that for people like him, this was not likely to ever happen. He picked up the stack of plates. “I better take these through, before Mr Wymer sends out a search party.”

“Right you are.” Dorcas gave him a smile and a wave, and vanished through the baize door.

About the Author

Mel Gough loves writing about love – but with a twist. Nominated for the 2019 Selfies Awards, her bisexual romantic suspense novel He is Mine is a typical Mel Gough story. She needs her HEA fix, but on the way there will be thorns and fire, and sometimes brimstone. All right, that might be over the top, especially since her stories are firmly based in the real world – though not always in the here and now.

Born in Germany, exploring other realities has been Mel’s siren call since she was young. Books opened up a plethora of worlds, and soon gave her a strong love of the English language. After an MA in Anthropology, field work in the middle of nowhere seemed like one adventure too far, so Mel settled in London, which, to misquote Dr. Johnson, she will never tire of.

Mel loves to bend genres – her romances are gritty and dark, and sometimes there’s a dead body. She’s been told that her prose is beautiful yet disturbingly real. She’s curious about bygone times, and hopes to speculate about the future in one of her next books.

Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter

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Blog Tour · Guest · Interview · New Release

Guest Post & Interview with Eric Huffbind

Hiya,

I’m working on the final edits of My Way and formatting it as a freebie from Prolific Works. Having always used Amazon before, I fancied venturing further afield and wanted to release a perma-free novel in a fussless sort of way.

In the meantime, I’d like to welcome my special guest, Eric Huffbind with his new release Surrounded by Silence. Many thanks to him for agreeing to be interviewed and for sending along a picture of the adorable Linus.🥰

***

BLOG TOUR

Surrounded by Silence

Author: Eric Huffbind

Cover Artist: Eric Huffbind

Release Date: October 14, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Male Romance

Trope/s: Billionaires, Hurt/Comfort, Post-Divorce, Middle Age

Themes: Learning what it means to be selfless rather than selfish.

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words/259 pages

This is a sequel to The Rescuer, but can be read as a stand-alone.

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

Lonely billionaire, Samuel Barron, has finally met someone he finds himself falling for, but can he handle a romance for a gentleman whose entire world is surrounded by silence?

***

Blurb

After public humiliation, Sam Barron has come to the realization his billions can’t buy him love or happiness. Despondent and feeling like his life is in a downward spiral, he comes to realize he needs some professional help. Despite trepidations, Sam turns to Jason Parker, a social worker who at his heart, is a rescuer. Even though Sam had been so hateful towards him in the past, Jason can’t help but think Sam deserves to suffer. Jason tells Sam straight out, “You’re a spoiled brat without a shred of humility!”

Jason has deep concerns about helping Sam, but might be willing, if Sam volunteers at a soup kitchen. Grudgingly, Sam accepts Jason’s condition, and while performing his volunteer work, meets the flirtatious Noah Wagner. Noah is close in age, attractive, and Sam likes the way he feels whenever he’s around him. Noah is the first person Sam has known who is profoundly deaf. So, how is Sam to navigate a romantic interest with a man who can’t hear a word he says?

Surrounded by Silence, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance, is a sequel to Mr. Huffbind’s debut novel, The Rescuer. However, this book can be read as a stand-alone. If you enjoy a story where the villain becomes the hero, you will love Surrounded by Silence.

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Interview with Eric

*

Introducing Eric and his writing… 

My home is in West Chester, Ohio. It’s in the southwest corner of the state and  a suburb of Cincinnati. I have been with my husband Paul for 16 years, and legally married since January of 2013.  As much as I wish I could simply write fiction all the time, with the need of income and health insurance, I have been working full time as a travel agent. Unfortunately, due to the current Covid-19 crisis, I was recently placed on furlough and praying I will be able to return to work some time in 2021. I have a 25-year-old autistic son who lives in a nearby group home. Plus, we have an 11-year-old Pomeranian dog who goes by the name Linus. 

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I write Contemporary Gay Male Romance. This is the book genre I most enjoy reading and, consequently, gives me the best emotional, feel-good high. They always say, write what you love! So, to me, there is no other genre I would ever wish to write in. 

How long have you been an author?

 I have been writing for three years. Not full time, as nice as that would be, I need a more steady, consistent income.

What/who inspired you to start writing? 

Writing a book was just something that had been on my bucket list. As to why I wanted to write a book at all, not sure. It was just something I wanted to accomplish during my time here on earth. Once I fell in love with MM Romance, it simply dawned on me, “I can do this!” If someone had said to me 10 years ago, I would be writing Gay Male Romance novels, I would have thought they were crazy. Once I discovered the world of self-publishing, it somehow felt like a no-brainer. 

Tell us about your new release. What inspired you to write it? 

At its heart, Surrounded by Silence tells a love story of a billionaire, who historically has been selfish and spoiled, falling in love with a gentleman from the deaf community. Inspiration for my stories has always been from real life. I have distant cousins who are deaf. My mother had a female first cousin, who married a man who was deaf. And from that marriage, there have been a fair number of descendants who are deaf, as the cause for this deafness is genetic. Many of these extended deaf family members have married individuals who were hearing. So, the concept of this story had its roots in real life. Let’s just say, I had a little bit of knowledge about the deaf community, and how some of their attitudes shape what motivates them. My husband and I were out to breakfast with another couple, and our friend Linda said, “Why don’t you write a story that involves a main character from the deaf community?” That was all it took for my inspiration for Surrounded by Silence.

How did you decide on the title? 

It just hit me all at once. Since I was writing a love story between two men, one from the hearing world, and one from the deaf world, the title made perfect sense. For Sam, who cherishes music and the sounds in nature, meets a man with a heart of gold, but lives in a world Surrounded by Silence.

What was the hardest part of writing your book? 

Without a doubt, the hardest part of writing this book was the ground level research for the development of credible story lines. Yes, I had some knowledge of the deaf community, and even have a friend who is both deaf and gay. Still, my knowledge was not sufficient. I have no skill in the use of sign language. Now, my friend Harold, who belongs to both the deaf and gay communities, lives in California, but is originally from Ohio where I reside. When we are together, it is challenging, since I have no American Sign Language to access, but nevertheless, my husband and I manage. I wanted to have a clear knowledge base of what it’s like for someone in the hearing community to fall in love with someone from the deaf community. How does one cope and deal with initial communication barriers?

Additionally, I desperately needed an understanding of the inner workings of child welfare and protection laws. I had zero knowledge in this area. Thank heavens for the power of Facebook. From a single post, I met my dear friend Amy, who has a wealth of knowledge. 

Did you learn anything from writing your book? What was it? 

Most definitely! I learned that is is quite possible for a child born deaf and given the tool of cochlear implants, to grow up with full use of verbal language–individuals raised without any need to learn sign language. 

I learned how critical it is for cochlear implants be placed during early childhood when the language center of your brain is most receptive to learning spoken language. Not that this should be a surprise to anyone if we all think back to learning speak as we grew from infancy, as compared to the struggle of tackling a foreign language during high school. With all that being said, It is this capability that has many in the deaf community worried that American Sign Language will disappear. A language that is so entwined in the fabric of the deaf community. Not sure that that would ever happen. Not all deaf individuals have success hearing with cochlear implants. Unless in the future, technology is enhanced to bring hearing to those individuals as well. 

Why M/M?

 I’m a gay man. I can see numerous films of heterosexual romance, which I totally enjoy, but finding gay romance in films, with positive story lines is extremely difficult to find. Quality MM Romance removes that limitation. As a gay man, there is something special and entertaining in these love stories between two men. I want to read stories that for me, reflect real life.

What other novels do you adore/ writers you follow?

That is easy. My answer has to be Agatha Christie. I love murder mysteries, and she had genius talent. 

Are any of your characters based on you or people you know?

Most definitely! In both my first book, The Rescuer, and this book, Surrounded by Silence, Jason Parker, is based on me. I’m a retired RN, and I have always thought of my self as a rescuer. As Jason discovered in The Rescuer, trying to mix being a rescuer with romance, often ends badly. With the man I fell in love with and married, there was definitely no rescuing required.

Are you a pantser or a plotter?

I am most definitely a pantser! Lord knows I have tried to become a plotter figuring it would help be to write the book more quickly. I’ve read books on how to convert from being a pantser to a plotter. However, regardless of my efforts trying to plot out the entire novel upfront, those attempts have been met with complete failure. I just don’t feel that my brain functions in that way. 

I start with a character that is flawed in some aspect. When I begin writing, I know where I want that character to start, and I know how I want that character to end up. As to how I will accomplish my character’s goals is something that has to organically unfold in my head. I often have a small basket of scenes in my imagination I would like to see during the course of the novel. And I will pull from the basket as I pants my way along.

Is there a downside to being a pantser? You better believe there is! At times during my writing, I will slam against a brick wall as to what I am going to do with my characters. Perhaps I have written 30,000 words and think, “I need a whole lot more story than this before I can conclude my book.” I have found myself stuck brainstorming 2 – 3 weeks before a good idea comes to me. That would frustrate me to no end, but now, I just relax and wait for an epiphany to hit me.

Are you a cat person or a dog person?  Tell us about your pets. 

Great question! Although, to be honest, I would probably say I am both a cat person and a dog person. In the past, I have had as many as 4 cats at one time. However, I came to realize that is just too many animals for me. It starts becoming a big job caring for that many animals. Between taking each cat to and from the veterinarian for care or keeping the litterbox clean. 

For years, during my twenties and thirties, I dreamed of having a dog, but never felt like my work schedule would allow for it. When I was an RN, I worked 12-hour shifts. That was just too much time away from my home to properly care for a dog. After my husband Paul came into my life, getting a dog felt much more doable, as he worked more sane hours.

So, currently, we have just one dog, a Pomeranian by the name of Linus. I must say, he is crazy cute. Linus will be 12 years old in February 2021. He’s a tri-color, which is a coat pattern not seen as much as a solid color. And It is just one dog, not several. As much as I love dogs, I don’t want the cost and upkeep to care for multiple animals again. My husband and I did have 3 cats at one point in time. After getting Linus, as they passed away, we didn’t replace them.

***

INSTAGRAM

Excerpt

Coming through the front door of their apartment, Jason called out, “Honey, I’m home. Where are you?”

Poking his head out, Christopher announced, “I’m in the kitchen making dinner.”

Strolling into the kitchen, Jason gave Christopher a kiss, and asked, “How was work today?”

“Oh, it was okay, same old same old. Not particularly exciting. How about you?”

Jason took a small step backwards and began rubbing his eyebrows. “Well, an old friend of yours came to see me today, without any forewarning, of course!”

“An old friend of mine? I can’t imagine what old friend of mine would come to see you.”

“I’m being facetious,” Jason said. “Calling this man a friend is a bit of a stretch, and he’s someone I wasn’t happy to see.”

Christopher’s eyes narrowed as he squinted. “Please, tell me it wasn’t Sam Barron?”

“I’d be happy to tell you it wasn’t Sam Barron… but I would be lying. Yes, it was Sam. Admittedly, I was floored! And as you can imagine, especially since he showed up unannounced, I was less than ecstatic to see him.”

“Dear God, almighty! What in the hell did he come to see you about?”

“As you might suspect, I was a bit miffed. Not trying to change the subject, but something smells awfully good. What’s for dinner?”

“Just a frozen entrée of lasagna. Don’t get too excited, but it’s your favorite brand. So, go on, why did Sam show up at your office?”

Jason took a seat at the small dinette table. “As hard as you might find this to believe, he came seeking my professional help. As far as I can gather, ever since all the bad press in the media hit the airways, he’s fallen into a deep depression. Perhaps, a deep depression isn’t the best choice of words. Significant emotional distress is more accurate. Complains of loneliness and being guilt-ridden.”

Christopher said sharply, “And why should you care if he’s guilt-ridden? He deserves to feel guilt-ridden!”

“You’re not going to get an argument from me. Still… I felt bad for him. It was as if he was pleading for forgiveness, and begging for my help. He says he wants to become a better person. The guy was crying. Sounded desperate.”

“Christopher responded, “It sounds like he needs a psychologist, not a social worker.”

“Exactly! That’s what I told him, but he insisted he wants me.”

“No offense, but why does he want your help?”

“You know Sam,” Jason answered. “He always wants the best. In his mind, I’m the best. In addition, I’m gay, which is especially important to him, and I get that.”

Christopher started shaking his head in utter disbelief. “Wait now! Wait just a minute here! After the way that man treated you! And treated me for that matter! He has the gall to come and ask you for help!”

“He said he was a nervous wreck coming to see me! He knew damn well I wasn’t going to be happy having him show up on my doorstep. The thing is, honey, I felt bad for him, and believe me, I hear myself saying this, and yet, I can’t believe these words are coming out of my mouth.”

Christopher crossed his arms against his chest. “Let me guess! Your inner rescuer kicked in.”

Jason nodded his agreement of his husband’s quick and accurate assessment.

Jason waved his hand in a gesture to encourage Christopher to sit down with him. He pushed the chair away from the table giving Christopher easier access to sit.

“He saw how much I helped you. So, he trusts me. That’s why he wants my help. You’re right, of course, my inner rescuer did kick in. I told him I had to speak with you, and I would only help him if you granted me permission to. I wasn’t going to do it without your consent. The guy looks pitiful. He said I could name my price! He even offered to pay me five hundred dollars an hour. Mind you, not during my regular working hours. He knows this is something that must take place outside the realm of my job. He was willing to come here, or I could go to his home. Tell me, what do you think? How do you feel about it? Would you be okay if I worked with him? Trust me, I have my own reservations, and… I can’t lie, the money does sound appealing. I’m not a licensed therapist, but what I do isn’t such a stretch from what a psychologist would do. So, I’m asking, would you be comfortable with this?”

Christopher asked, “The question you should be asking yourself is, how do you feel about it?” Although, I must admit, I know that man. If he wants you bad enough, he’ll pay you whatever price you want. Ever since you sold your condominium and decided to live in my apartment, you’ve wanted to buy a house for us. Remember the model home we saw? The one built by Kirkland Home Builders. That money could help a lot towards a down payment. It’s just so ironic! This is the same man who sent you into a panic attack, and now he comes crawling to you for help. Although, I know what you’re talking about. There’s a side of Sam Barron he doesn’t let people see. I’ll be okay with it—if you’re okay with it.”

About the Author

Eric Huffbind is a man of many talents. Over the course of his lifetime, he has worked as a Registered Nurse, a Travel Agent, and an Uber driver. He characterizes himself as a hopeless romantic and is the eternal social butterfly. Among his passionate interests are history, genealogy, romance books, and travel.

Although his novels focus on the romantic relationship of two gay men, regardless of your sexual orientation, his stories are meant to rekindle the spirit and euphoria of falling in love.

Eric is a lifelong resident of Southwest Ohio. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he currently resides in West Chester, Ohio with his husband Paul and their Pomeranian, Linus.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website | Facebook Profile | Facebook Author Page

Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up | Instagram

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a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card

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Book Blast · Guest · New Release

Guest: Maggie Blackbird – Toy Soldiers

Hiya 🥰

 The warmest of welcomes to my guest, the very lovely Maggie Blackbird, with her latest novel in the When We Were Young series: Toy Soldiers. 💜

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Toy Soldiers (Book 2, When We Were Young series)

Author: Maggie Blackbird

Publisher: Devine Destinies

Cover Artist: Martine Jardin

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, young adult, multicultural, LGBT

Trope/s: Friends to lovers

Themes: Coming of age, coming out

Heat Rating: 1 flame

Length: 70 349 words/ 244 pages

It is NOT a standalone book. Book 1 needs to be read first.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Publisher | Kobo | B&N | iBooks

Google Play | Smashwords |

Once a thief, always a thief, and if he can’t win the heart of the boy he loves, he’ll steal it.

Blurb

Billy Redsky’s made one of his biggest dreams come true, but there’s a problem. Even though the boy he loves is mere footsteps across the hall from his bedroom, they might as well live a country apart because claiming René Oshawee’s heart is more difficult than Billy anticipates.

Much to Billy’s disgust, René can’t accept his true self, so he’s incapable of loving someone else. And all he cares about is living a life the chief and his wife foresee for their youngest son.

If Billy is to finally have what he truly desires, he must stop René from running away from who he really is and face the man in the mirror, or what they share will never blossom into true love

Excerpt

Stuart lived past the recreation center. Billy huffed down the road. Sure, he’d be interrupting dinnertime, but big deal. He couldn’t stay in Castle Oshawee any longer.

The boiling heat of anger beneath his clothing stopped him from freezing under the clear, cold sky. Darkness was fast approaching. The sun on the horizon was bursting with colors of mauve, scarlet, and pumpkin.

The big door at the recreation center opened. Billy’s old buddies, Lonn and Dylan, strolled outside to probably have a cigarette. When they strutted away from the doors and beelined for the road, Billy stiffened. They knew he could beat their asses—especially since he outweighed them by a good fifteen pounds now.

“’Sup?” Lonn called out, slyly grinning.

“Not much.” Billy stopped. He wasn’t going to keep walking like a coward afraid of the neighborhood bullies. “Heard you both got kicked out.” Because neither rode the school bus anymore.

“No biggie.” Lon shrugged. “Y’know we were bailing when we turned the big one-six.”

A direction Billy had been heading before dumb ol’ René had turned him into one of The General’s toy soldiers in Oshawee Army.

Splashes of rebellion bubbled under Billy’s skin. He might’ve blown off telling Mr. and Mrs. O where he was going tonight, but he’d been heading for Stuart’s, and later going home right on the button of his curfew time, like a good little grunt.

He folded his arms. “What’re you doing?”

“What else? Heading for the old house.” Lonn dropped another sly smile.

Dylan nodded, also grinning.

When Billy had used to party there, they’d burned stuff in the woodstove to keep warm during the winter.

“You coming, or are you still hanging with the geek twins?” Lonn elbowed a chuckling Dylan.

“Sure, why not?” Nobody at Castle Oshawee had given a flying fuck Billy had left the house. As for René, screw him. All he cared about was following the rules and obeying the orders coming from everyone seated in the living room.

About the Author

An Ojibway from Northwestern Ontario, Maggie resides in the country with her husband and their fur babies, two beautiful Alaskan Malamutes. When she’s not writing, she can be found pulling weeds in the flower beds, mowing the huge lawn, walking the Mals deep in the bush, teeing up a ball at the golf course, fishing in the boat for walleye, or sitting on the deck at her sister’s house, making more wonderful memories with the people she loves most.

Author Links

Web Site | Facebook Page | Twitter

BookBub | Linked In | Amazon Author Page

eXtasy Books Author Page | Newsletter Sign-Up

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cover reveal · Guest

Guest: Eric Huffbind Cover Reveal Surrounded by Silence

 A warm welcome to my second guest of the day, Eric Huffbind. Being a bitalot fond of a theme…I couldn’t have conjured a more fitting title than Surrounded in Silence to shatter my um, seasonal silent as the grave streak.😳 

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Surrounded by Silence

Author: Eric Huffbind

Cover Artist: Eric Huffbind

Release Date: October 14, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary Gay Male Romance

Trope/s: Billionaires, Hurt/Comfort, Post-Divorce, Middle Age

Themes: Learning what it means to be selfless rather than selfish.

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 71 000 words/259 pages

This is a sequel to The Rescuer, but can be read as a stand-alone.

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon AU | Amazon UK

Lonely billionaire, Samuel Barron, has finally met someone he finds himself falling for, but can he handle a romance for a gentleman whose entire world is surrounded by silence?

Blurb

After public humiliation, Sam Barron has come to the realization his billions can’t buy him love or happiness. Despondent and feeling like his life is in a downward spiral, he comes to realize he needs some professional help. Despite trepidations, Sam turns to Jason Parker, a social worker who at his heart, is a rescuer. Even though Sam had been so hateful towards him in the past, Jason can’t help but think Sam deserves to suffer. Jason tells Sam straight out, “You’re a spoiled brat without a shred of humility!”

Jason has deep concerns about helping Sam, but might be willing, if Sam volunteers at a soup kitchen. Grudgingly, Sam accepts Jason’s condition, and while performing his volunteer work, meets the flirtatious Noah Wagner. Noah is close in age, attractive, and Sam likes the way he feels whenever he’s around him. Noah is the first person Sam has known who is profoundly deaf. So, how is Sam to navigate a romantic interest with a man who can’t hear a word he says?

Surrounded by Silence, a Contemporary Gay Male Romance, is a sequel to Mr. Huffbind’s debut novel, The Rescuer. However, this book can be read as a stand-alone. If you enjoy a story where the villain becomes the hero, you will love Surrounded by Silence.

Excerpt

Sam stood up and walked towards the office door. He knew he was getting nowhere and felt defeated. Sam turned to face Jason. “If I told you I was sorry a thousand times…” Tears began forming in Sam’s eyes. “No matter how many times I apologize, it’ll never be enough! It will never be enough!” He grabbed the doorknob and started to turn it.

“Hold up,” Jason halted Sam. He was completely taken aback seeing Sam wracked with this much emotion. Jason was a rescuer, had always been a rescuer, and would always be a rescuer. He couldn’t help himself. No matter what, that was who he was, through and through. And now, somehow, Sam Barron was exposing his soft underbelly. Somehow, this bastard of a man had him starting to cave. Jason grabbed his ever-present nearby box of facial tissues and handed them to Sam, so he could dry his tears. “Please, sit down again.” Sam took a seat. “Look… as I said… I’m not comfortable with this. I need to talk to Christopher. This involves him as well. I don’t know how he’d feel about me trying to help you, and I’m still in a quandary if it’s right for me to even try to help you. I should at least ask Christopher how he feels about it. I’m still struggling with why you want me, of all people, to help you.”

“Because… I always want the best. I’ve always learned to trust my instincts, and my gut tells me you’re the best. Just name your price!”

“As I live and breathe, I can’t believe I’m going to say this to you out loud. Thank you. It’s nice to be valued.” He knew how important it was to all individuals to be validated, and in that respect, he was no different from the patients he cared for. Jason sighed. “And I can name my own price? I recall you have a habit of tossing money at issues as a way of resolving problems. Sam, being perfectly frank, I think you’re a spoiled brat!”

Sam became quiet, having to absorb harsh words about himself. Staring down at the floor, he said, “You’re right, I know. The thing is… I’d like to be a better person… earn your forgiveness for my actions… not just yours, also your husband’s.”

Jason snapped, “You were so cruel to me, and you wanted to control Christopher like he was your puppet, someone to serve your sexual needs.”

“I’m sorry. Like you heard me just say. It’ll never be enough. I said you could name your own price! How about five hundred dollars an hour?”

He pondered a moment. “Hmmm… Five hundred dollars an hour? That’s a lot of money. Let me think about it. I’ll talk to Christopher. Without his consent, there’s no way I’m going to allow myself to get involved!”

“Thank you. I completely respect your wishes, and wanting to talk it over with your husband, I can respect that.”

Jason inhaled deeply and slowly exhaled. “Sam… I will tell you this much. If you want to help yourself in trying to resolve all this anguish you’re having, as well as becoming a better person, the first thing you need to do is learn some humility. I can’t see you moving forward without it. You must learn humility. You need to think of someone other than yourself. My instincts tell me that’s a deep-rooted cause of why you’ve behaved so abominably in the past. I’m sorry if those words sound callous, but you have to start somewhere in this process. There are many in this world who don’t have the prestige and capital you’ve become accustomed to.”

“You don’t like to mince words,” Sam blurted out.

“If you want help, then you’re going to have to take a deep look inside of yourself. If you’re not completely honest, not just with me, but with yourself, you have no hope of pulling out of this emotional crisis you’re in.”

“What would you suggest I do to learn humility,” Sam asked, frowning.

“Volunteer. You should do some volunteer work. My suggestion would be to volunteer in a local soup kitchen, to work with people significantly less fortunate than you.”

“A soup kitchen?” Sam said with a pained grimace. “Don’t you think that’s a little beneath me?”

“No, it’s not a little beneath you… it’s enormously beneath you! That’s exactly why you need to do it, Sam. You have got to climb down off that high horse you are saddled on. I’m not promising I’m going to be able to work with you, but if you ever expect to become a better person, you have got to learn humility, even if I have to beat it into you. You’re going to have to throw yourself into the deep end of the pool. So, go out there and apply to volunteer at a soup kitchen. Let me have one of your business cards. I’m going to need a phone number to call you back at.”

Sam reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a billfold filled with business cards. “Can I have something to write with?” Jason was quick to hand him a pen. He scribbled down additional phone numbers to be certain Jason could get ahold of him. He handed over the business card. “Every phone number you could possibly reach me at is here. Thanks for your consideration. Now, I’ll excuse myself and let you get back to your work.”

“I’ll be in touch. You have my word,” Jason confirmed.

INSTAGRAM 2

About the Author

Eric Huffbind is a man of many talents. Over the course of his lifetime, he has worked as a Registered Nurse, a Travel Agent, and an Uber driver. He characterizes himself as a hopeless romantic and is the eternal social butterfly. Among his passionate interests are history, genealogy, romance books, and travel.

Although his novels focus on the romantic relationship of two gay men, regardless of your sexual orientation, his stories are meant to rekindle the spirit and euphoria of falling in love.

Eric is a lifelong resident of Southwest Ohio. Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he currently resides in West Chester, Ohio with his husband Paul and their Pomeranian, Linus.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website | Facebook Profile | Facebook Author Page

Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up | Instagram

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a $25.00 Amazon Gift Card

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Guest · Reviews

Special Guest & Review: Lockset by Brenda Murphy

Hi 🥰

I’m so sorry for the lack of new writing, my brain seems to have left the building and embarked upon a bitalot of a break. Left to my own devices I’ve been catching up on Drag Race, watching movies and, o’course, reading. 

Not many authors could have lured me from the thriller-fest of assassin slaughtering antics I’d been devouring—particularly between books 2 and 3 of a trilogy—but Brenda Murphy is as irresistible as Valkyrie is invincible. Thus, it was that Bourne had to stuff his Ultimatum where the sun don’t shine until I’d sallied forth on a second trip to University Square.

*Review progress report: they seem to be getting more random, rather than less, with practice*

4c299-lockset-f500

Series: University Square, Book Two

Publisher: NineStar Press

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: F/F

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+ romance, family-drama, interracial, lesbian

***

Synopsis

After a string of failed relationships, brilliant litigator Eunice Park is determined to stay single. Who needs distractions when you’re trying to make partner at Chicago’s most prestigious law firm? A Sunday afternoon visit from the police is the beginning of a series of events that turn Eun’s life upside down, and she’s forced to return to her hometown and confront her estranged family.

Morgan Wright, locksmith and part-time animal shelter volunteer, is convinced the perfect woman exists, just not for her. After a chance encounter with Eun, Morgan becomes embroiled in Eun’s family drama.

Charmed by Morgan’s easy swagger, Eun invites her back to her hotel room. Bone-melting sex and a surprisingly soulful connection leaves Eun questioning her return to Chicago. But not everyone in Sikesville is happy Eun has returned.

My Review

As much as I adored the first book in the series, I may have enjoyed Lockset even more than On The Square. The instant sense of familiarity was a pleasure in itself. As luscious as sinking into a bubble bath scented with my favourite almond blossom. It felt as if I’d never been away…

If I loved the first novel like Haagen Dazs Pralines ‘n’ Cream with hot fudge sauce and nutty sprinkles…warm walnut shortbread and freshly baked bread…this story? Was a litre bottle of Bailey’s Irish Cream; lavishly laced with a whiskey warm kick. I may have made these novels sound supersweet; they are not. They are rich and real and feel as authentic as they are fulfilling. I love these women. They are strong in the sort of way I admire most. They retain a stubborn pride in their own self-sufficiency, above and beyond all reason. A trait that does tend to result in a refusal to rely on others and an inability to accept (let alone seek) help. All of which makes for fabulous friction in tandem with sizzling chemistry. And fantastic fiction, full-stop.

Eun may have had a dump truck of misfortunes land in her lap but she retained the sort of quiet strength that makes sharing them a journey, rather than an endurance.  I never for one moment doubted that Brenda Murphy would give these wonderful women the destination they deserved. No matter how rocky the road or tire-slashing the lurkers lying in wait to throw a spanner in their works.

On that note…the image of Morgan weilding a wrench was the single most sexy sight I wish I’d witnessed since Mai last licked her fingers in On The Square. (I am sure she must have done this. She is a cook. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it). It was an added dollop of delight to visit her now thriving restaurant and see her again. I could clearly do with another season of Nigella to warm my cockles. Or a reboot of The (exceedingly) Delicious Miss Dahl. I p’raps have a bit of a type…warm, sensuous women with lush curves…and sublime skills with a bag of sugar.  Ah well, in the meantime, I can but hope that a third trip to University Square might be on the menu and offer utmost compliments to the chef who cooked up this delicious series for our delectation. Oh, and a five star recommendation.

Treat yourself…you deserve it. Times are tough. 😁

Buy links

Amazon UK

Amazon US

💙💙💙💙💙

Book One

On The Square

Synopsis

Dropped from her television show after a very public split with her cheating ex, celebrity chef Mai Li wants nothing more than to reopen her parents’ shuttered restaurant and make a fresh start in her former hometown. So what if twenty years of neglect has left the building in need of a major renovation?

Seduced by Mai’s charm and determination, hard-edged contractor Dale Miller agrees to take on her renovation project.

After a spring storm causes significant damage to the building and renovation costs exceed Mai’s budget, Dale offers her a deal, but is it a price Mai is willing to pay?

My Review

https://zakarrie.com/2020/09/13/guest-brenda-murphy/

Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Beth Bolden – ‘Rough Contact’

Hi,

Alongside fake relationships, my favourite trope is forbidden romance. How I wish that stories set in so many sports didn’t fall into it. 😔 Unless p’raps they were brothers…

Neil Fisher & Jamie Wright may not be siblings, but sadly, their story is still forbidden in their world. A very warm welcome to my guest Beth Bolden with her new release Rough Contact.🥰

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Rough Contact

Author: Beth Bolden

Publisher: Beth Bolden Books

Cover Artist: Angsty G Book Cover and Media Design

Release Date: October 14, 2020

Genre/s: Gay sports romance, forbidden romance, age gap romance

Heat Rating:  4 flames   

Length: 93 000 words

It is a standalone story.

Goodreads 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited


Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Their romance is forbidden. Their love is a secret. 

They’re the Romeo and Juliet of football.


Blurb

Neal Fisher knows heartbreak. It’s the clock ticking down in the Super Bowl. It’s missing the most important field goal of his life. It’s losing everything: his thirteen year career as an NFL kicker, his future, and his pride.

Jamie Wright knows love. It’s everything on the line as the crowd holds their breath. It’s a perfect kick as the ball soars through the goal posts. It’s NFL fame and glory laid out before him.

Neal is on his way out, and Jamie–if he can withstand the pressure of tryouts–is on his way in. The one person Jamie should avoid is the veteran kicker, and the last thing Neal wants is to sink Jamie’s chances. But a chance meeting and a wild and undeniable chemistry proves to be irresistible.

Neal thought he knew heartbreak. Jamie thought he knew love. 

They were both wrong.

Their romance is forbidden. Their love is a secret. 

But if they trust each other, maybe their growing relationship won’t end in tragedy. It might even be the beginning of football’s greatest love story.


Excerpt

It felt surreal to be surrounded by so many people he’d only watched on TV. There was Bran Phillips, the famous center for the Riptide, just over there, a small girl balanced on his shoulders, and they were both laughing. Rashad Green, the best running back in the league, was sitting on a chaise lounge, sipping something fruity and frozen from a plastic margarita glass. And then there was Heath, making sure he got something to eat, and introducing him to everyone who they met. “The new kicker,” Heath said several times, even though it was hardly like he’d won the job. But then Heath would know that better than anyone, because he was on the coaching staff and he knew how many kickers they’d brought in to try out. But every single time he said it, Jamie felt like giving an addendum of not quite yet, but maybe, hopefully? If everything works out.

But Jamie didn’t, because even though Heath was more relaxed than Jamie had ever seen him, he was still Heath Harris, and he contained so much goddamn confident certainty that after meeting most of the people at the party, it was hard not to think of himself as the Riptide’s new kicker.

You’re getting ahead of yourself; you still gotta make it happen, he reminded himself. Tomorrow is the day you’re gonna have to prove yourself, again. And then you’re gonna have to do it over and over again, and then probably a couple hundred more times, for good measure.

Maybe then Coach R and Coach Toby might be satisfied.

He was sitting on the edge of the pool when suddenly he felt a body drop down next to him. He was half-expecting it to be Heath or maybe even Sam—which was surreal because he’d never imagined he’d be in the kind of position to be sought out by either of those guys—but then when he glanced over, he nearly fell into the pool.

It was Neal Fisher, and he was just in a pair of navy blue trunks, with little green palm trees scattered across the fabric. He was pale, like he’d spent too long inside this summer, but he was still undeniably handsome, his green eyes glowing in his gorgeous face, offset by his dark hair. It fell into his eyes a bit, probably because it needed a trim.

Jamie’s hands tightened on the edge of the pool and he prayed he didn’t make a fucking fool out of himself. He was just meeting his idol, that was all, and a guy he’d probably spent way too much time fantasizing about over the years.

Do not tell him you’ve jerked off to him about a thousand times. Do not even think about it.

“Hey,” Neal said casually. So casually that Jamie had a feeling that he didn’t know who Jamie really was. “You told me to come find you.” He smiled then, and though it was only a shadow of his former smile, which Jamie was embarrassed to admit he was intimately familiar enough with to tell the difference, it was still a smile. He poked Jamie in the shoulder. “Found you.”


About the Author 

A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband and their sweet kitten, Earl Grey. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published twenty novels and six novellas.


Author Links

Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter | BookBub



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a $25 Amazon gift card

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Guest · Release Blitz

Guest: Nell Iris – Regaining Trust

Hi,

A very warm welcome to my guest, the wonderful Nell Iris, with her new novella Regaining Trust… 💚

 

RELEASE BLITZ

https://lilygblunt.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/release-blitz-banner-2.jpg?w=610

Book Title: Regaining Trust

Author: Nell Iris

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Release Date: September 30, 2020

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope: Second chances

Themes: Established couple, infidelity, learning to trust again

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length:  31 306 words

It is a standalone story.

Goodreads 

Buy Links

JMS Books  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Kobo  |  Apple books  |  B&N  |  Google Play 

https://lilygblunt.files.wordpress.com/2020/09/regainingtrust.jpg

Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

Blurb

When workaholic Lawrence Weller walks in on the aftermath of his fiancé Frankie cheating on him, his world shatters. Frankie’s the love of his life, the only person he’s ever trusted, and the betrayal leaves him devastated.

Franklin Ennis makes a huge mistake he regrets deeply before it’s even over. He pleads for a second chance, willing to do whatever it takes to save their relationship.

A love that deep doesn’t just stop, so Lawrence agrees to try. But mistakes don’t happen in a vacuum. Are they both willing to own up to their part? Will their love be enough to repair what was crushed? Can trust once broken be rebuilt?

Excerpt

You never told me you were lonely,” I say.

“I did!” His protest is loud and takes some of the defeat from his body. “I’ve told you a thousand times. How I miss you when you’re always working late and wish we could do more stuff together.”

I knit my eyebrows together, trying to think back and remember. He’s right. He always hugs me tightly and tells me how much he’ll miss me when he knows I’ll work late. Or how he wishes we could do something together, even if it’s only watching a show while cuddling on the couch.

”I thought that was your way of showing me how you feel about me. You being sweet and caring. Not once did I think it meant ‘I’m so fucking lonely I’ll suck someone else’s dick.’ Was it even your first time?” The question is a pained scream, hurting my throat, my head, my soul. I don’t like yelling, so I take a deep breath and start counting to ten in my head to calm down, but I’m interrupted before even reaching three.

“Of course, it was the first time,” he roars. “I’m not a cheater.”

His words are a thundercrack in an otherwise dead silent apartment, and I rear back, scramble off the couch, and turn to leave.

“No. Please.” He’s pleading now, voice cracked and bleeding out on the floor. “Please don’t leave me, Lawrence. I’ll do anything. I love you so much, don’t leave me.”

I’m frozen on the spot. Undecided. The hurt, overly-dramatic part of me wants to storm off in a huff, throw some stuff in a bag, and retreat somewhere to lick my wounds, and rage and scream and curse the treachery, while wailing out my broken heart. But the other, more rational part of me won’t let me move, the part that still remembers how much I love him, still remembers his loving kisses, his devotion. His passion.

So I sink back down on the couch. Rub my palms over my face and swallow. “I don’t know what to do here, Frankie. I’m hurt and betrayed, but at the same time I just can’t turn off my feelings for you. But how can I be with you if I can’t trust you?”

“You can trust me. You can.” He’s so sincere, so heartfelt, leaning forward — hands twitching so he shoves them between his knees — begging, willing me to believe him. And I want to. I really do.

“How?”

“I’ve never done anything like this before, never kissed anyone, hardly ever looked at anyone like that. It was a huge mistake and I regret it. So, so much. I know I can’t prove it, but I was going to tell you. That’s what I was worried about when you walked in. How I would tell you. How you’d react. If you’d hate me.”

I must look skeptical because he hurries to continue. “I know. It’s easy to say when there’s no way of proving intent. But I’m not a liar. You know I’m not.”

“Do I?” I push out the question around the lump in my throat.

He slides to his knees on the floor in front of me, sits back on his heels, and tries to catch my gaze. I give in to his silent pleas and meet his eyes.

“You know me, Lawrence. You know you do. You know what kind of person I am. I’m only human and make mistakes like everyone. This one was huge and more stupid than most, I know that. I’m not perfect, but I’m not a liar. I’m not disloyal. And I own my mistakes.” His face is open. He blinks away tears, but his gaze never falters. His hands rest on his knees, palms open and turned up, and everything about him invites me to see the honesty in his heart.

And maybe I can see it. The slight tremble of his hand and the pulse fluttering visibly in his neck betrays his anxiousness, but he doesn’t move. Doesn’t squirm or fidget, doesn’t look away from me. Nothing indicates that he’s lying.

There’s no way he’s that skilled a liar. He’s always been open and honest and prone to blurting his emotions as soon as he experiences them. That thought deflates me and I fall back against the couch.

“Yeah, I know. I believe you.” And I do. At least my head knows. I’m not sure about my heart. Or my gut, rather.

His eyes well up and a tremble racks his body, but it’s the sight of his wobbly chin that finally cracks me. I hold out my hand, unable to not touch him anymore. “Come here.”

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About the Author

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along at the top of her voice but she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (Make it so). She loves words, bullet journals, poetry, wine, coffee-flavored kisses, and fika (a Swedish cultural thing involving coffee and pastry!)

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a bisexual Swedish woman married to the love of her life, a proud mama of a grown daughter, and is approaching 50 faster than she’d like. She lives in the south of Sweden where she spends her days thinking up stories about people falling in love. After dreaming about being a writer for most of her life, she finally was in a place where she could pursue her dream and released her first book in 2017.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angsty, short over long, and quirky characters over alpha males.

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook Author Page  |  Facebook Profile

Twitter: @nellirisauthor  |  Instagram: @nell_iris  |  Goodreads

QueeRomance Ink   |  BookBub

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Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

your choice of ebook from Nell’s backlist (5 winners)

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

Guest · Release Blitz

Guest: DJ Jamison – Faking A Groom

Hiya,

I’m hoping to return this week, but in the meantime… to get it off to a great start…

A warm welcome my guest DJ Jamison with her new release, the irresistibly titled ‘Faking A Groom’

RELEASE BLITZ

 Faking A Groom

Author and Publisher: DJ Jamison

Cover Artist: Garrett Leigh at Black Jazz Design

Release Date: September 24, 2020

Genre Contemporary M/M Romance 

Trope/s: Fake relationship, second chance,

lingerie/femme clothes exploration

Heat Rating:  5 flames    

Length: 103 000 words

It is the third book in the Marital Bliss series but can read as a standalone.

Goodreads


Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 


Can two men fake an engagement for the greater good?


Blurb

Avery Kinkaid has been bowing to his father’s will far too long. But when his dad supports anti-LGBT legislation, he’s had enough. Sen. Kinkaid says things would be different if Avery had a fiancé in the wings. Well, fine: He’ll just have to get one.

Rory Fisher is an activist with a heart of gold and nerves of steel. He’s not afraid to call Avery on his bullshit, and that’s why Avery knows Rory is the perfect fake fiancé to help him take a stand. If he still feels a little too much for his ex, well, he can shove that down and suck it up to beat his dad at his own game.

Until Rory encourages his most hidden desires. Until he makes Avery feel stronger, braver, and freer than he’s ever been.

Loving Rory is easy, but Avery’s father won’t just sit back and let them have their happily ever after. They will have to fight: for their love, for justice, for a future together.

This is one power struggle they can’t afford to lose
.


Excerpt 

Avery knew that Gil wanted him to tell his father he was coming out, in no uncertain terms. He didn’t understand the manipulative powers Drake Kinkaid possessed. Or maybe he did, now that he worked for him. Avery had never been able to out-argue his father. Each time he tried, he found himself carefully repositioned, as if a piece on a chess board, until he was agreeing to his father’s terms.

“I don’t know what do,” Avery said. “I’ve tried to be patient, but he always talks me out of coming out. I think I’ve got my mind made up, and he somehow convinces me to keep waiting. I hate that I’m so damn weak.”

“Don’t be so hard on yourself. Your dad is a politician. He persuades people for a living.”

“He’s always got a loophole,” Avery grumbled. “Like today. He said, it’d be different if—”

He stopped short, eyes locked on a man who walked past their table toward the bathrooms. Something about the shape of him and the way he moved—long legs, slim hips, smooth stride—reminded him of Rory.

He couldn’t see his face, but his hair was the right color. It was gathered in a knot at his neck instead of loose, so it was tough to gauge exact length, but damn, that ass. Was it possible to recognize a guy by his ass?

“Avery?”

He blinked and looked back toward Gil. “Hmm?”

“You were saying that your father said it’d be different if…?”

“Oh.” He cleared his throat, trying to shake the vision of Rory and the niggling feeling that he should go talk to him. It felt significant that he was here tonight, if he was here. Avery wouldn’t put it past himself to imagine things. Rory had been on his mind a lot since the gala.

“My father said it’d be different if I was engaged. That he’d support me then.” His gaze drifted back to the bathrooms, watching as Rory emerged. He was sure it was him now. He’d recognize those sharp features anywhere. Heart thumping, he asked Gil, “Do you think he means that?”

“Maybe,” Gil said, though he sounded dubious. “I don’t know.”

Avery rapped the table with his knuckles. “Right. He could be bluffing. There’s only one way to find out.”

“And that is…”

Avery took a big swallow of his beer. Then grinned at Gil. “Guess I have to get engaged.”

“Wait, what?”

Avery nodded. “You keep telling me to do something. Well, you’re right. I have to call my father’s bluff.”

“Oh, Avery, I don’t know…”

“I’ve got the perfect person in mind to help me.”

“Uh…who is that?”

“Rory Fisher.”

Rory, the guy who left you because you wouldn’t leave the closet? How is he the right—”

“Because he’s here,” Avery said, feeling euphoric as intoxication, years of regret and longing, and a desire to break free all coalesced into the best idea ever. “It’s fate, man. It’s like the universe is telling me to make my father put his money where his mouth is. He’s always got a reason, an excuse, a loophole. Well this time, I’ve got the loophole, and I’m going to take it.”

“By getting engaged,” Gil said disbelievingly. “To a man who dumped you.”

Avery laughed. “Crazy, right?”

“Yes,” Gil said emphatically.

“Good.” Avery shoved back his chair. “Because I’ve tried sane and respectful and calm. It’s time for a little crazy. It’s time for drastic action.”

“Yeah, but Avery…”

He held up a finger. “Hold that thought. I have to go propose to the man who got away.


About the Author 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than twenty m/m romances. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.


Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Facebook Group  |   Twitter: @dj_jamison_ 

Instagram  |   Newsletter Sign-up  |   KoFi for bonus content


Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win your choice of the Marital Bliss series in ebook (or audiobook if available) and a $10 US Amazon gift card

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Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

stuff 'n' nonsense · Wafflish

Stuff ‘n’ Nonsense

Hiya 🥰

I’m so sorry I still haven’t finished the epilogue, my hands are a bit too battered to type away to my hearts content. I tend to rest my inner wrists on the edge of the laptop when I write…this is what they look like:

I took it unto m’self to tackle a huge project in my garden. Ivy had swallowed my house—all of it—windows included. And some of the roof. On accounts of being a dunderhead. Matters had possibly reached Maleficent proportions, so I set about beridding myself of it.

I am an itty bit clumsy, I must confess.

During the last few weeks I’ve broken a couple of ribs, dropped the shears on my foot (which broke a bit and went blue) dislocated my toe and trod on a thorn. My arms look as if they’ve been through a shredder. I’m too used to m’self to take a lot of notice, but the bee sting was insult to injury, it must be said.

By the time I stagger indoors after hacking my way through said shrubbery I’m a smidge too sore to rustle up a fitting finale for our miscreants. Nevertheless I am almost done (in) so with a bit of luck, unless I fall off the ladder—

I should stop there. Tempting fate is so not a cunning plan…

Last week, another thorn got lodged in my palm, so I yanked it out and forgot, as y’do, figuring that it would stop bleeding soon ’nuff. Then, carried on clipping until my son’s belly prompted him to pop outside and ask how I was doing.

I may have swiped my hair out of my face at some point. That seems the best explanation for the fact that he went quite white, the poor little mite. 🙈 I p’raps looked as if I’d taken a trip through a windscreen.

I am delighted to report that I’ve almost defeated the beastie hell-bent on devouring my house, so all being w—😨 Oops, time to quit, whilst (I have) ahead…

And finally…

(this is the bit at the end of the news where they wheel out the 115 year old birthday girl who drinks like a sailor and smokes 40 a day…)

❤️🤍💙 Thank you, truly, Stateside folks ❤️🤍💙

I’m a smidge stunned 😳