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

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Twitter | Newsletter Sign-Up | Instagram

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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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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

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Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Release Blitz – Evan J. Corbin

Hiya,

I haven’t broken anything for a few days, so I’ll have a bash at writing the last part of My Way over the weekend. 😁 I’m truly sorry for the delay. In the meantime, I’d like to welcome my guest, Evan J. Corbin. I found the title of his new release far too irresistible to pass up…

RELEASE BLITZ

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Book TitleAtonement Camp for Unrepentant Homophobes

Author: Evan J. Corbin

Publisher: Atonement Book, LLC

Cover Artist: The Book Cover Whisperer

Release Date: September 3, 2020 for the print book and September 17, 2020 for the eBook.

Genre/s: Contemporary LGBTQ Fiction; Speculative Fiction; Humour

Trope/s: Fish-out of water comedy

Themes: Coming out, cultural assimilation

Heat Rating:  2 flames

Length:  70 600 words/ 283 pages

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited and Paperback

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK

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Atonement Camp.

Pastor Harris is only going to save his career.

But while he doesn’t want to be there, a change of heart may be just what he needs…

Blurb

The oldest translation of a Gospel is returned to the world by a secret society long dedicated to its preservation.  In it, Jesus explicitly condemns bigotry and homophobia. In a new world in which LGBTQ passengers receive preferential boarding for flights and the United States has elected its first lesbian President, Pastor Rick Harris is stalwart, closeted preacher who doggedly holds onto his increasingly unpopular convictions.

When an incendiary sermon goes too far and offends an influential family, Rick makes a painful choice to keep his job:  He attends an atonement camp run by drag queens for society’s most unrepentant and terminally incurable homophobes.

Atonement Camp is immersion therapy for Pastor Harris, and it might be working. An open bar with pedicures, a devastatingly attractive roommate and an endless supply of glitter help him manage to make new friends. Soon, Rick and his cohorts learn the camp may hold its own secrets.  Amid the smiling faces and scantily clad pool boys who staff the camp, a clandestine group plots to discredit the New Revelation and everything it stands for.

If Rick has the conviction to confront his own hypocrisy, he might be able to uncover the conspirators with help from his adopted flock—and find new truths within himself.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Northern Syria

It was just after sunrise. The call to prayer from the nearby city’s rooftop loudspeakers receded as Dr. Michael Donahue’s driver left a familiar road for the makeshift trails that led deep into the desert. One faith bridged to the next, he thought. Before long, he wouldn’t need the light jacket, but he wore it anyway. It was a mysterious quest, and he tugged the jacket tight around his chest.

The jeep bounced over the rough terrain as Dr. Donahue carefully poured hot water from his thermos over his yerba mate leaves. His second mate would be less bitter than the first. Each time he made a fresh tea, the leaves lost more of their bitterness to the boiling water. The same leaves could be used again and again any given morning. It reminded him of his profession. Archeology was the sober study of the forgotten—people who lived, laughed, suffered, and died, their history diluted by each passing year. Dr. Donahue was determined to learn as much as he needed to reanimate their past with subtle detail, adding context to what would otherwise be merely more than a list of dates and details for his undergraduates to memorize before a test.

As promised, a man stood by the still-empty dig site. He was dressed in a Western style—no keffiyeh or other head dressing. With short sleeves and rugged boots, his attire was more practical than fashionable. Dr. Donahue always appreciated utility and function above much else. He acknowledged that his estimation of the man’s credibility was thus-far unearned, but he nonetheless felt more comfortable in the company of the familiar.

The site had been Dr. Donahue’s home for most of the past year. His team would return after Ramadan. Dr. Donahue’s research specialization centered almost primarily around the early Christian era. He took a certain guilty pleasure in casually admitting his atheism each semester to the newest crop of freshman at his university in Washington, D.C. Like all things, he saw it as a learning opportunity. One is not excused from understanding something just because they don’t agree with it, he’d remind them. The site itself was an early Christian refuge under the Roman Empire. Forgotten by time, but now rediscovered. Painstakingly, he and his team would uncover artifacts and consider what stories they told about the people who made them. Dust from the jeep’s tires made a gritty fog that enveloped the air. Dr. Donahue squinted, his eyes already dry. He coughed and plodded through the sand to the man silently awaiting his arrival.

“Dr. Donahue.” The professor extended his hand to the stranger.

The man took his hand and smiled. “Thank you for coming. Your research associate mentioned your name last year when he worked with us, and we immediately knew we needed to meet with you.”

Dr. Donahue fanned the remaining traces of the sand from his face. “We?”

The man flashed a half smile. “Consider us like yourself, Professor. Archeologists.”

“I would assume, but that doesn’t answer my question.”

The man chuckled. “By the end of the day, I expect that to change. Come. Follow me,” he beckoned.

Still confused, the professor followed the man down the makeshift stairs to the dig site.

“We’re not certain where it was found,” the man said, waving his arm over the site, “but this is likely close and as good a spot as any.”

“What, exactly, was found?”

The man frowned. “Technically, it was never lost. Let me be more precise. This is where it will be rediscovered.”

The professor felt his frustration growing. “What, and by whom?”

The man turned to face the professor, still smiling. “The oldest copy of the Gospel of Mark ever discovered. I’m what we refer to as a Custodian—a group of people committed to protecting this draft as we have done for more generations than our history may account for.”

The professor’s jaw dropped. He looked for answers in the man’s eyes to questions he could not manage to formulate.

“Every truth has its season, professor,” the man said, lowering himself to sit next on an empty crate near an assortment of digging tools. “This region has been plagued with war. We fear that if the artifact is not returned to the world now, it may never be.”

If his research associate hadn’t already vouched so strongly for the meeting, the professor was certain he would have already left the madman in another cloud of obscuring sand. Instead he asked: “Why have you kept it in the first place?”

“It contains a passage not found in any modern text. What’s the American expression? ‘One man’s waste is another man’s treasure’? That’s how our forefathers saw it. They saw something worthy of protection until the world was ready for the message. That time is now.”

Dr. Donahue smiled. His birthday was the following week, and the realization that his research associate might have set this up as an elaborate practical joke began to seem like the most likely explanation. It wouldn’t be out of character for him, he thought.

“So, where is it?” he asked, playing along.

The man pointed to a black chest. Taking the bait, Dr. Donahue carefully lifted the lid, expecting some puppet to pop out and exclaim “Happy Birthday!” Instead, the heavy lid creaked open to reveal a scroll bound in plastic and wound over on itself. His smile faded. Even without the aid of his radiocarbon dating equipment, he could tell the document was old. Very, very old.

***

About the Author

Evan is a member of the LGBTQ community who fancies himself as a playboy socialite, living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  Between work and lucid moments of sobriety, he writes a little.  His debut novel is a light-hearted work that still manages to confront religious hypocrisy and contemporary LGBTQ struggles to balance their loss of culture with new-found civil rights.  His friends say the book is great!  Hopefully, you will as well.

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Instagram: @atonementbook  | Newsletter Sign-up

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Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Remember My Name by Laurencia Hoffman

Hi🥰

A warm welcome to my guest, Laurencia Hoffman with her new release ‘Remember My Name’.

I’ve been reading a lot of thrillers and suspense novels of late; an added dash of mm romance proved irresistible.😻

RELEASE BLITZ

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Book Title: Remember My Name

Author: Laurencia Hoffman

Publisher: Encompass Ink

Cover Artist: The Illustrated Author Design Services

Release Date: September 4, 2020

Genre/s: M/M Romantic Suspense

Trope/s: Second Chance, Soul Mates, Exes to Lovers, Dark Secret Keeps Them Apart

Themes: Love, Survival, Death, Injustice

Heat Rating: 1 flame

Length: 58 582 words

It is a standalone story.

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon  US  |  Amazon UK 

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Suffer in silence or live to regret it.

Blurb

Dark and twisted secrets mar Shane Coulter’s skin, and darken his fragile heart. Yet he keeps his nightmarish truth hidden from all those he holds dear with a smart mouth and abrasive attitude.

His first love, Callan Reid, refuses to accept Shane’s tough exterior. Convinced something truly horrific lurks beneath Shane’s defenses, Callan vows to uncover the truth.

But some things are better left buried. As darkness from the past threatens to be brought to light, there are those who would kill to prevent it. Can Callan break down Shane’s walls? Or will digging into the past come with deadly consequences?

Excerpt

Heaving an exasperated sigh, he stood in the waiting area and listened to the cheesy music. It was just like Troy to be late, leaving Shane to fend for himself in a crowded and uncomfortable area. If they weren’t best friends, he’d be getting a lot of shit for it.

He kept checking his phone, trying to appear busy since some of the patrons were shooting him looks. Shane didn’t own just-in-case clothes, so he didn’t have anything appropriate to wear to a restaurant like this. If he had known, he would have borrowed something from Troy.

Shane didn’t care how he looked most of the time. It wasn’t that he was lazy or didn’t try, but he didn’t care to carter to the judgments of other people. His comfort was the most important thing to him.

His eyes flicked upward to settle on a familiar face. He would have sworn that his eyes were playing tricks on him, yet, when he blinked and returned his gaze to the tall, handsome blond, he was still there.

The blond was laughing and patting one of his friends on the back. Shane didn’t recognize the people he was with.

For a moment, he was frozen. This seemed like a dream, a nightmare, or a hallucination – anything but reality.

And then those sparkling blue hues spotted him, and the blond’s face turned white as a ghost.

“Shane,” he whispered.

Lifting his chin, he looked the man up and down as if he had only just noticed him. “The one and only. How long have you been back, shithead?”

The man’s cheeks flushed pink and he excused himself from his group of friends. As he took a step closer to Shane, Shane took a step back.

“Just a couple of weeks. I’m here for work.”

“Of course you are. I’m not sentimental enough to think that you’d be here for me.” Running his tongue along the front of his teeth, Shane folded his arms.

The older man swallowed hard. “Do you think we could talk outside?”

“Oh, sure. Wouldn’t want your friends to think I ever meant something to you, right?”

The blond gave him a stern look. “That’s not fair.”

Heaving a sigh, he obliged the man by exiting the restaurant and standing to the side of the entrance.

“What the fuck do you want to talk about, Callan? How you broke my heart, and abandoned me, forever tainting my view of love?”

“Did I really?” With a sigh, Callan shook his head. “I thought you might have forgotten me by now.”

“Unfortunately for the both of us, I didn’t.” He wanted to say so much more, like how the six months they had spent together had changed his life in good ways and bad. But he didn’t want to give Callan the satisfaction of knowing just how deeply he’d been affected by their time together. “What’s with the entourage?”

His features brightened, happy with the change in subject. “They’re my colleagues, actually. I’m sure you remember my love of photography.”

“How could I forget?”

“Well, I’m dabbling in journalism now. And I’m able to provide my own pictures.”

“Good for you.” He wanted to grumble something about how he’d never doubted Callan, but thought better of it. “What are you working on?”

“Just a piece about some of my favorite places.” He paused. “I could include you if you want.”

Shane’s first instinct was to say yes. Callan had been his first – and only – adult relationship. At the time, he had been convinced that he would never need anything more, that Callan was the one and only person for him. And when that had fallen apart, he’d been devastated. Did he want to open himself up to the possibility of being hurt like that again?

“Why, because I’m one of your favorite places?”

“Well, of course.”

He rolled his eyes. “A person can’t be a place.”

“They can be if that person is home.”

Shane’s nostrils flared, furious that he had the audacity to say something like that after the way they’d left things. “I don’t think so, Cal. Maybe if we were strangers…”

“Why can’t we be?” he asked in a hushed tone.

“You want a clean slate?”

It was something to consider. In their six months together, Shane had managed to keep all of his secrets, including his health. He had fallen hard, and fast, and he didn’t want that to happen again. If they were even going to consider speaking to one another, it needed to be on his terms.

“Okay. If we’re going to play that game, it’ll be by my rules.” When Callan didn’t protest, he went on. “I’ll text you a time and a place and we’ll meet for the first time all over again.”

Callan smiled. “I’m looking forward to it.”

“Are you now?” Shane lifted the cell phone in his hand. “Things have changed since the last time we saw each other. I’vechanged. And you’re going to be treated just like anyone else.”

He furrowed his brow before nodding. “Okay…are you going to tell me what that means?”

“I guess you’ll find out. Or maybe not. Is your number still the same?”

“Yes. Do you remember it?”

“Of course I remember it, you idiot.”

After checking to make sure there was no oncoming traffic, Shane walked through the parking lot, waving his hand in the air.

“Good luck!”

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About the Author

Laurencia Hoffman is the author of several novels and novellas and co-author of The Wages of Sin series. She specializes in horror but loves to dabble in other genres including fantasy and romance.

When she’s not writing, she also enjoys making her own line of natural products, satisfying her sweet tooth, and watching films.

Author Links

Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Newsletter Sign-up  |   Pinterest

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a $10 Amazon Gift Card.

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Guest · New Release · Release Blitz

Guest: Now or Never by Helena Stone

Hi…

A warm welcome to my special guest, the very lovely Helena Stone with her new novel ‘Now or Never’. 💜

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Now or Never

Author: Helena Stone

Publisher: Helena Stone

Cover Artist: Emmy Ellis

Release Date: August 23

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Hurt Comfort, Older Virgin, Distant (not quite enemies) to lovers

Themes Self acceptance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: approx. 69 000 words/ 192 pages

It is part of a series but can be read alone.

Goodreads

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

When the past intrudes, can two lost souls forge a future together?

Blurb

Karl’s carefully erected walls are crumbling. Giving up sex and relationships made perfect sense when he was eighteen. For a decade, he poured all his time and effort into his flourishing career. Doubts crept in the first time Karl met Leo and now, after two years of avoiding him, Karl is in charge of training Leo.

Leo loves his life in The Blowhole. Entertaining the guests during explicit shows under Roger’s guidance meets Leo’s needs and keeps his demons at bay. When Roger leaves, Leo’s job expands but he’s assigned to work with Karl, the General Manager who appears to detest him, and Leo’s anxiety blossoms. It wouldn’t be so bad if Leo hadn’t been attracted to Karl from the first moment he saw him.

Two men. A truck-load of insecurities and an attraction that can’t be denied. When the full horror of Leo’s past comes to light, will their fledgling connection be strong enough to weather the storm?

Now or Never_Out Now_Insta

Excerpt

Karl approached the table, put the white ball on its spot, bent his large frame forward, and took his shot. Karl’s cue action was so powerful, the colored balls parted as if a fuse had been lit underneath them. Leo fully expected at least a few of them to disappear into the pockets, but much to his surprise, none went down.

“Your turn.” Karl stepped back from the table.

“I’m spoiled for choice.” Leo grinned as he got in position for his first shot. He picked his ball, pulled back his cue arm and gently rolled the red ball into the pocket behind it.

A few minutes later, after he’d pocketed all the solid colors as well as the winning black eight-ball, Leo straightened and turned to Karl, unable to keep himself from smirking.

“Fair enough.” Karl laughed. “That’s my arse well and truly handed to me.” He approached the table, gathered the balls and set them up for the next game. “No more Mister Nice Guy.”

It took all Leo had not to spray his mouth full of Bacardi and Coke across the room. Until recently ‘Mister Nice Guy’ would have been the last words he’d have used to describe Karl. Then again, the Karl he’d worked with these five past days had been kind, patient, and accommodating. If it hadn’t been for the few times Leo had caught Karl staring at him with a slight frown on his face, Leo would have thought he’d only imagined Karl’s remoteness in the past.

Afraid he’d lose himself in his mostly inexplicable thoughts again, Leo returned his glass to the shelf and approached the table. After he put chalk on the tip of the cue and made sure the white ball was in the right spot, Leo bent forward. For a moment he swayed, and he had to reposition his feet to get his balance right. Then he moved his arm back and gave it his all as he shot the white ball toward the triangle of colored and striped balls, fervently hoping at least one of them would go down.

“Damn.” No such luck. Leo turned around, fully expecting to find Karl smirking at him, only to find Karl’s gaze fixed on his…groin?

“Your turn.”

Karl raised his head and stared at Leo, clearly shocked by his brusque tone. Leo understood his surprise: he wasn’t sure where that sound had come from, either. The red flush on Karl’s cheeks, on the other hand, was unexpected.

Leo took a long drink from his glass as soon as he reached it before facing the table so he could watch Karl pot the first striped ball. Was he really looking at my package? Leo side-eyed his cocktail, wondering if it had been a drink too many after all. Surely there was no possible scenario in which Karl, the man known for never showing any sexual preference or interest, would be checking Leo out?

As Leo’s mind spun with unanswerable questions, Karl continued potting balls, one after the other. Just as Leo had in the previous game, he looked set to clear the table in one visit. Leo smiled. Karl was a worthy opponent.

“Fuck.” Karl whispered the word under his breath, but not too soft for Leo to hear him.

One glance at the table told Leo what Karl’s problem was. Karl only needed to pot the black in order to win. But, the white and the black ball were positioned in such a way that unless Karl shot the white at two or three cushions before hitting the black, it would take quite a stretch to make the shot.

Karl took up position next to the table and lifted his left leg, resting it on the edge, before bending at the waist and stretching.

Leo had meant to watch the shot. He’d had no intention of focusing on Karl, but he did, and his breath faltered for a moment. The material of Karl’s black pants gripped the thigh that rested on the table, showing the feint outline of muscles. And…Dear God…Karl’s arse was glorious under the stretched fabric.

Karl straightened and Leo snapped out of his daze. He threw a quick glance at the table and saw the black ball had disappeared. In the end he hadn’t even seen Karl make the shot. Because you were too busy admiring his arse. Leo almost groaned out loud when he remembered how he’d wriggled when he’d lined up his shot to start the game. Karl had been looking at an arse, too, which was at the same height as Leo’s groin. So when Leo had turned…

AON_Quote Suit_FB

About the Author

Helena Stone can’t remember a life before words and reading. After growing up in a household where no holiday or festivity was complete without at least one new book, it’s hardly surprising she now owns more books than shelf space while her Kindle is about to explode.

The urge to write came as a surprise. The realisation that people might enjoy her words was a shock to say the least. Now that the writing bug has well and truly taken hold, Helena can no longer imagine not sharing the characters in her head and heart with the rest of the world.

Having left the hustle and bustle of Amsterdam for the peace and quiet of the Irish Country side she divides her time between reading, writing, long and often wet walks with the dog, her part-time job in a library, a grown-up daughter and her ever loving and patient husband.

NOW 2

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Blog Tour · Interview · New Release

Guest Post & Interview with C F White

Hiya…

 

I have a special post today, which includes an interview with my guest, the wonderful C F White, with her new release: Fade To Blank…

 

 

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Fade to Blank (London Lies # 1)

Author: C F White

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Rhys Everly-Lawless

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romantic Suspense

Trope/s: Slow burn, hurt/comfort

Themes: Enemies to lovers, Revenge, Secrets, Mystery

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 78 000 words/ 280 pages

It’s the first book in a new series.

Book 2 is coming later in the year. Book 1 ends on a HFN for the couple.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link | Amazon US | Amazon UK

 

A celebrity accused of murder. A writer needing his big break. The lies that tie them together.

 

Blurb

Accused of a murder he didn’t commit, vilified celebrity Jackson Young enlists the help of a rookie journalist to clear his name and write his biography.

Jackson has a secret though. One he must keep from becoming public. But Fletcher’s dreamy green eyes, Irish drawl and effortless charm makes it hard to suppress those long-buried feelings, even if it could compromise his innocence.

Uncovering the murky past behind Jackson’s rise to fame, Fletcher grows closer to a man he’d once declared as talentless, and their intense attraction starts to affect not only his professional integrity but the life he’d made since moving to London.

Falling for the subject of his book could be fatal for Fletcher, and Jackson should know better than to trust a journalist.

Fade to Blank is the first book in the London Lies trilogy set in 1999, and is a slow burn, enemies to lovers, hurt/comfort romantic suspense.

 

Excerpt

Fletcher drew troubled eyebrows in. “Are you okay?” he asked.

“Okay? Okay?” Jackson breathed out a laugh that was more a release of pent up anguish. He’d always been taught to laugh in the face of adversity. He hadn’t been able to do much of that lately. Any flicker of amusement seeping out when in Flaymore would only have been captured by an inmate wanting a name for himself and used against him in the media. He rubbed his stinging eyes. “My girlfriend is dead. Someone strangled her whilst I was passed out in the other room. The world thinks I did it. I’ve spent six months inside because I wasn’t granted bail. This morning I wasn’t told that I was free because they believed I didn’t do it. They just couldn’t prove that I did. I can’t quite see how I would be okay after all that. Do you?”

Perhaps that was too blunt. Too much, too soon? Perhaps all this seeking the truth was coming across more selfish than he’d anticipated. It was. But the world was pointing at him. So he needed to prove his innocence to force people to look at who might have killed her, instead of allowing them to tie the noose around his neck.

And on that thought, his heart almost stopped. So the desperation kicked in. “I need you. Your help.”

Fletcher softened before him. “Okay,” he said. “Go on. Why would I, the fella you tried to knock out due to one bad review, want to write another article about you?”

“I want more than an article. And you’ll have a ready and waiting readership for this. It’ll rocket you to a fortune you never knew existed.”

“Wind your neck in, lad, that’s a touch arrogant there.”

“Arrogance doesn’t equal guilt.” Jackson leapt up from leaning against his bike, new found energy resumed. “Nor does it equal untalented.”

Fletcher glanced away, flicking his gaze back just as quick. “What are you talking here, then? A featured piece?”

Jackson forced a smile. “A full exposé of Jackson Young and why he isn’t the man he’s been depicted as in the media of late.”

“So this is all about you? Not… Tallulah?”

Jackson sucked in a breath at her name. It still stabbed at his heart, strangled his chest, erupted bile into his throat. He wondered if it would ever stop.

Scrubbing fingers across his perspiring forehead, Jackson had to find the right way to explain what he needed. What he had to do before it was too late and this was all hidden under the carpet as so many of the lies and manipulations already had been. He wasn’t sure how far he should go. How much he should admit he knew. There was the whole story. And there was his story.

“I was arrested for something I didn’t do,” he settled on. “I’ve been painted in the media as a monster. Pretty much all my friends and family have abandoned me because they believe people like you.”

“People like me?”

“People with the ability to write words and print them for the public to read, to believe and to act upon.”

“I never wrote about what happened to her. I’ve avoided talking about you, or her, since.”

“I know. Now I want you to.”

Jackson waited for the faint glimmer of understanding to work its way across Fletcher’s face. He had to know this would be the ultimate scoop for him. A writer, a journalist, a gossip columnist…whatever the man claimed to be, if he took this opportunity he could retire.

“I don’t write news. I write…gossip.” It sounded a lot like he hated to say that word, and his gaze blinked away from Jackson toward the glass frontage of London Lights HQ.

“I don’t want you to write for a paper. I don’t want this to be news, or gossip. This is the truth. My truth.”

“I’m not sure my editor will buy into it.” Fletcher sighed. “And if she did, she’d pass it onto the more seasoned journalists.”

“I don’t want your editor. I don’t want this in your poxy magazine.” Jackson spat the word, nodding toward the office block in contempt. He wanted nothing to do with any of that. Especially not London Lights. “This has got to be independent.”

“I don’t understand. I thought you wanted an exposé?”

Jackson stepped forward, a hair’s breadth from Fletcher, so close he could taste the man’s coffee breath. “Ever want to write something different? Something good. Something that could make a name for yourself away from the trash rags? Don’t you want to see your name on a shelf?”

“What type of shelf?”

“A book shelf. I want you to write my biography. So if you ever wanted your fortune handed on a plate, Fletcher Doherty…” Jackson held out his arms. “It’s here.”

 

 

A warm welcome and big thank you to my guest C F White – who incidentally has the most excellent taste in ice cream – for our interview…

 

 

Tell us a little about yourself and your writing goals.

Hi, I’m C F White and I write contemporary British gay romance. I have to add the British in there as my books all do tend to stay in or around London as that’s where I live. My tag line kinda sums up what you can expect from me and my books: Romance, mainly. Gritty, often. Love, always. It means you can expect a bit of angst, a bit of gritty realism but a HEA always guaranteed – even if it’s a long time getting there! 

Writing goals are to keep on writing! 

 

Congratulations on your new release. Please tell us a little bit about it. What’s your favorite aspect or part of the story? Do you have a favorite character? Who/Why?

My latest book is the first in yet another three-book series. I have a thing about writing in trilogies! Fade to Blank (London Lies #1) is a romantic suspense set in 1999 and centres around Jackson Young, one half of UK TVs presenting dream team, who is serving time for the suspected murder of his socialite girlfriend. But with no evidence to convict, he is released with a fierce determination to clear his name that has been smeared in the mud by the press. He enlists the help of Fletcher Doherty, a writer stuck in the reviews and gossip column of the newest online magazine, who has had enough of chasing gossip and uncovering scandals for a celebrity hungry nation. The potential to elevate his career and reap the royalties that such a book would bring, ultimately make Fletcher accept the job that no one should want.

But there’s a murky story beneath Jackson Young’s rise to fame and the two men find themselves entangled into a web of lies and manipulation that runs deep into the underbelly of British television. There are people determined to silence Fletcher from giving Jackson a mouthpiece. But with every word written and every fact checked, Fletcher peels away the layers that had made up the captivating persona of Jax to reveal the true, vulnerable man underneath. He’s unable to walk away despite the threat to his career, his relationship, and the life he’d made for himself since settling in London.

Fade to Blank starts the series off with a slow burn, enemies to lovers romance fizzling between Jackson and Fletcher and that’s the part I loved writing—creating that unresolved sexual tension and seeing them fight with each other about their true feelings. I couldn’t say that I liked one character over the other and Jax and Fletch kinda come as a package.  

 

Are you a planner or a pantser? How much do you know about your story before you start writing? How often does your plan change? Why does this work best for you?

Complete pantser. I can’t plan. I’ve tried it and I hate it. I feel like the book is already written if I plan. I prefer to be surprised where it goes, much like the reader! I tend to start with a basic idea, I’ll know where I want to go with it, where it needs to end. Then I just write and see what happens. It’s worked out so far, there’s only been a couple of occasions I’ve slipped up and fallen into a plot hole.

 

Do deadlines motivate you or block you? How do you deal with them?

I try ever so hard not to give myself deadlines. But to be honest, they do tend to motivate me otherwise I would tinker forever. 

 

Do you schedule a certain amount of time for writing each day/week, or do you just work it in when you can? Would you like to change this, or does your current method work well for you?

I fit writing in as and when I can. I work full time and have two kids, one with special needs to writing oftentimes takes a back seat to everything else. It’s why I do a lot of drafts online first, it means I can write on the go, directly onto my phone. So, no, I don’t have a schedule. I see and free window, I sit down and write. I’d love to be able to set aside time but for the time being, I have to stick to this method. I’d probably discover if I did schedule time to write then the words wouldn’t come to me. 

 

What was the most difficult part of writing this book? Why?

Keeping the suspense going. As I knew this was going to be spun over three books, it was hard to keep everything in and not give it all away to start with. I actually started the whole book without knowing what happened, which helped keep up the suspense and mystery for myself. I know now! 

 

What are your favorite genres when it comes to your own pleasure reading? Do you prefer to read ebooks or print?

I tend to go for the romantic suspense or mystery and crime elements within an MM romance. I love a complex plot series over multiple books with that slow burn that has you screaming at the couple to just do it already! Josh Lanyon, Gergory Ashe, Dal MacLean, Cole McCade, A E Ryecart are all authors I admire and read regularly. And I do favour an ebook. I like to collect paperbacks but I won’t read from them anymore. They’re more for display. And signatures! 

 

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Social Media. 

 

If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

To keep writing. And reading. To trust in my own words and not compare myself to others. My voice is my voice. No one can be a better me than me 😊 

 

What is your favorite underappreciated novel?

Won’t Be Fooled Again (St Cross 2). It’s the least read and bought novel of mine. It’s the second in a series but it’s vastly different from the first. It’s a friends to lovers story that deal with quite a few issues—addiction, abandonment, poverty, disability, interracial relationships. It’s a raw and emotional story but I think as it’s book 2 people think they have to have read book one, but they really don’t. I wish more people did pick it up. 

What do you think about when you’re alone in your car?

My book usually! I make playlists for my books I’m working on that I’ll play in the car to help me think about scenes. It’s a great motivator. I just need a car that will then write my book for me whilst stuck in traffic. 

 

What was your favorite toy growing up?

A teddy bear I named Chunky. It was a Christmas present from my nan and grandad who died when I was fairly young. I slept with it, took it everywhere and even came to university with me. It was so squashed and ripped from how hard I hugged it when I finally had to give it up to the dustbin in my mid-twenties. 

 

What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

Haagan Dasz Pralines and Cream. 

 

Who would play you in a movie about your life?

Pheobe Waller Bridge from Fleabag. I love her humour and writing! 

 

INSTAGRAM 2

 

About the Author

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly search for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

After her second son was born with a rare disability, C F White’s life changed and brought pen back to paper having written stories as a child but never the confidence to show them to the world. Now, having embarked on this writing journey, she can’t stop. So strap in, it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

 

Follow C F White

Twitter @CFWhiteUK | Facebook | Blog

Instagram | Newsletter Sign-up

 

 

 

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Book Blast · Guest · New Release

Guest: Maggie Blackbird – Two Princes

 

Hi…I hope you have a great week.🥰

As I’m posting so frequently, I wanted to include some guest posts from authors I admire and books that tickled my fancy…

Today, I’d like to welcome my friend Maggie Blackbird with her new release: Two Princes.🧡

 

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Two Princes

Author: Maggie Blackbird

Publisher: Devine Destinies

Cover Artist: Martine Jardin

Release Date: June 12, 2020

Genre/s: Young Adult, multicultural, contemporary, LGBT romance

Trope/s: Friends to lovers

Themes: Coming of age

Heat Rating: No sexual content – only kissing

Length: 67 345 words/ 235 pages

It is the second book in the When We Were Young series.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Amazon US | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon AU

Devine Destinies | Kobo | B&N | Apple | Google Play | BookStrand

 

 

 

To win over the chief’s haughty son, a drug-dealing punk from a dysfunctional family must risk the only two things he has: his reputation and freedom.

 

Blurb

Billy Redsky, a rebellious punk who loves art and nature, is saddled with a welfare-leeching, alcoholic mother and criminal older brother who are the joke of their Ojibway community. Sick and tired of being perceived as a loser, Billy deals drugs for his older brother to earn quick money. He hopes if he buys a dirt bike, he’ll finally impress the chief’s popular and aloof son, René Oshawee.

When the two are forced to serve detention together, a friendship blooms, but much to Billy’s frustration, René keeps putting him on ice. To make his biggest dream come true if he finally wants to call René his own, Billy must make a huge decision that could cost him everything.

Two-Princes-Background-1

Excerpt

 

TWO PRINCES

 

At the same time, they entered the office doorway. Billy’s side received a sharp elbow jab, and his lungs almost hurled from his throat. Pain. Major pain.

René pointed at the chair. “Sit. I’m going first. Unlike you, I don’t got all day to be playing around.” He strode to the counter. “Is Mr. Carlson in? Mrs. Lamb sent me.” The attitude in his voice melted into an ass-kissing, respectful tone.

“What for?” The secretary, with a big beehive straight out of the sixties, stood.

René pointed his thumb over his shoulder. “Redsky got into my little cousin’s face. I have to talk to Mr. Carlson about it.”

“Okay. Let me buzz you in.” The swinging-sixties secretary reached for the phone.

Never mind his aching side. Billy scrambled from the chair. “I ain’t taking the rap for this. You started it, loser.”

René whipped around. “What’d you call me?”

“I called you a loser.” Billy fisted his hands.

“You worthless punk.” René held up his finger in a lecturing gesture just as the teachers did. “Wanna talk about losers? Your mom and brother are total alkies and welfare leeches. It’s people like your family who give reds a bad name. That’s why everyone hates on us and says we’re a bunch of drunks sucking the taxpayers dry.”

“Is that what Chief Oshawee says when you’re having your fancy steak supper? Or maybe your mom says it ‘cause she’s some bigshot accountant?” The jeer flew from Billy’s mouth.

“Give it a rest, boys.” Mr. Carlson’s thick voice whirled into their argument. “My secretary told me you both were sent here. René,” he pointed at the door, “into my office. And, Billy, sit down. We’ll talk once I hear René’s version.”

It figured Prince Oshawee would get to go first. At least Billy had been smart enough to pass off his stash to Lonn before being sent to the vice principal’s office.

For ten minutes, Billy waited, and waited, and waited, the second bell having already rung. René was probably painting a sham picture of Billy shoving dope down Stuart’s throat.

The door to the vice principal’s office opened. René huffed out. He shook back his shoulder-length, thick, almost-black hair and trounced from the reception area into the main hall.

Instead of raw fury searing Billy, being ignored by the royal spare was sharp teeth sinking into his skin. Big deal. He didn’t give a shit about anyone or their opinion. Especially an Oshawee.

“Billy…” Mr. Carlson and his big gut filled the doorway. “In here. Now.”

Billy slunk into the office and flopped in the usual stiffer-than-a-board chair opposite the massive oak desk. He dropped his backpack and his frustration onto the floor. There was no point in arguing. Chrome Dome would believe an Oshawee over a Redsky.

Mr. Carlson sat on his king-style throne. “Fighting again?”

What could Billy say? Nothing.

“I didn’t think so.” Mr. Carlson picked up the phone and flipped through his Rolodex. “I have business to attend to. You’ll report to room two-o-two after school. We have a new strategy when it comes to physical disputes. You’ll find out then when you get there. Dismissed.”

 

Two-Princes-Background-3

 

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 | Goodreads |

BookBub | Linked In | Amazon Author Page |

eXtasy Books Author Page | Newsletter Sign-Up

 

 

 

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a $15.00 eXtasy Books Gift Certificate

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🧡🧡🧡