Someone to Call My Own by Aimee Nicole Walker: Blog Tour, Excerpt, Review and Giveaway

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SOMEONE TO CALL MY OWN

Road to Blissville Series, Book 2

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 09.05.17

Someone-to-Call-My-Own-customdesign-JayAheer2017-eBook-cover

PHOTOGRAPHER: Wander Aguiar

COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

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Psychic Emory Jackson and former black ops specialist Jonathon Silver are men from two completely different worlds with one thing in common: heartbreak. Emory still mourns the loss of his husband five years prior, and Jon is reeling with grief from the recent death of his twin brother.

Sparks fly when mutual friends introduce them, but it’s so much more than basic attraction. There’s an undeniable awareness and a sense of belonging that neither man can deny. Despite Emory’s premonition of a future with Jon, he has vowed never to love again. Jon is convinced that his tainted soul is the reason he will never have someone to call his own. What if they’re both wrong?

Maybe these broken men with their jagged edges could somehow align perfectly to form something whole and beautiful. But will that realization come too late for them?

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Someone To Call My Own is the 2nd book in a spin off of the Curl Up and Dye Mysteries. And while this can be read as a stand alone, reading the other books will give you a better understanding of all of the characters. Plus, the other books are really fun.

So let’s start with that. The Curl Up and Dye mysteries were fun books. I enjoyed them a lot, and although they were definitely high on the cute meter, they didn’t tip the edge into sugary sweet. All of the characters were fun and held their own in the stories.

Book 1 in the Road to Blissville series was a little bit more mature, but still really fun. How can Dr Dimples and Chaz not be fun really?

Book 2 is definitely more serious and mature. And that is a good thing. These particular characters needed that. They needed to be more “grown up”, more serious, more angsty. Emory himself called for that seriousness and Jonathan fit right in.

We get a lot more back story from Emory. Exactly what happened to bring him to Blissville in the first place. There is quite a bit of story telling overlap-which is a big plus if you are reading this as a stand alone, but got slightly tedious at times. After that bit, the story really rolled along.

And poor Emory. I just wanted to hug him. He was so broken. Jonathan didn’t give up though. He gives him space at times and invades his space at other times. The romance was a slow build- but that was what these guys needed.

We see all of our favorite characters again- always a favorite of mine- and we get a few new characters as well. Perfect set up for the next book.

An easy 4 pieces of eye candy for me because of how effortlessly Ms Walker is able to write each character and book with their own voice.

 

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“I think we need to clear the air,” Jonathon said in a calm, rational voice.

“There’s nothing to clear,” I countered. “I’m nothing to you; you’re nothing to me.”

“You think it’s that simple?” Jonathon took two steps toward me. I took three steps back. Jon jerked to a stop when he saw my reaction. “Emory…” He broke off and ran both his hands through his hair. “I know you felt it the night we met. I saw your eyes widen in surprise when the electricity shot through our bodies.”

“So.” Denying it existed wasn’t working. It was time to change tactics. “That doesn’t mean I want or will act on it.” I ran my hand over the infinity tattoo I had inked over my heart. It felt like River’s name was burning my skin like he knew the truth and was calling me a liar. Or, maybe it was anxiety that gripped my heart in its tight fist. Whatever the reason, I felt lightheaded and dizzy. Suddenly, my body felt cold and hot at the same time, and tiny little needles pricked my skin from head to toe. I licked my lips that had suddenly gone dry and numb.

“Emory?” I heard Jonathon’s voice, but it sounded like he was calling to me at the end of a very long tunnel instead of five feet away. He walked toward me, but I kept backing away. I hoped he would stop, but I saw the determination in his eyes. “Emory, I just want to help you.”

“Then leave,” I wheezed between gasps.

“I’d never leave anyone alone in this condition,” Jonathon said angrily. “Now be quiet and let me help you.” He gripped my bicep firmly, but not painfully, and guided me to a kitchen chair. He gently set me in the chair then placed his hand on my stomach beneath the center of my ribs and the other on my chest. I burned beneath his touch. I wrapped my hands around his thick wrists and tried to push his hands off of me. “Stop it, Emory,” he said firmly. “You’re hyperventilating, and I can help you. I. Will. Not. Hurt. You.”

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Hot tears of humiliation flowed freely down my face. No one had ever seen me in the midst of a panic attack and I’d always been able to pull myself out of them on my own. That one was different, and I knew I needed help.

“Ignore my hands on your body, but look into my eyes and listen to me.” His demanding, deep voice was nearly hypnotic. “Inhale deeply through yo

ur nose, Emory. Hold it for a count of three and release it slowly. When you do, you’ll feel my hands moving up and down with your lungs, and your brain will recognize you’re breathing even before the fresh oxygen pushes the carbon dioxide out of your body. Do it with me, Emory.”

I breathed in slowly, held it for three seconds, and released it. I focused on the way his hands moved up and down with my breathing and pretended that I expelled all the bad energy with every exhale. I repeated the process ten or twelve times before I was completely calm again.

Jonathon pulled his hands off of me and balled them into fists. He didn’t look angry or like he wanted to hit me. It looked like he needed to do something with his hands but wasn’t sure what. He lowered himself into a chair beside me.

“What caused your panic attack?”

“You,” I replied sullenly.

“Emory, I haven’t done anything to you so why would the sight of me cause you to panic?” Jonathon sounded truly baffled and a little insulted.

I knew it would take drastic measures to push him away, so I let him have it with both barrels. “I had a psychic vision about you—well. Us.”

Aimee Logo

I am a wife and mother to three kids, three dogs, and a cat. When I’m not dreaming up stories, I like to lose myself in a good book, cook or bake. I’m a girly tomboy

who paints her fingernails while watching sports and yelling at the referees.

I will always choose the book over the movie. I believe in happily-ever-after. Love inspires everything that I do. Music keeps me sane.

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Covet by Yolande Kleinn: Spotlight Tour and Giveaway

Hi everybody! I’m Yolande Kleinn, and I’m thrilled to welcome you to the Covet blog tour. I’m giddy to be here myself, and I hope you’re looking forward to my kinky contemporary M/M/M love story. I had a terrific time writing this book—getting to know Jack and Colin and Peter—and I can’t wait for you to meet them too. Follow along for the chance to win a $30 Riptide Publishing gift card!

Jack Mason—graphic designer and unrepentant player—has never been interested in monogamy. He certainly isn’t looking for romance when he meets Professor Colin Sloan.

Newly single and not looking for anything serious, Colin is intrigued by Jack’s offer of a physical affair with no strings attached. Becoming friends wasn’t part of the plan, but as accidents go, this one’s pretty great.

Peter Mason is Jack’s identical twin. In a long-term relationship himself, Peter tells no one that he’s falling for his brother’s newest favorite, even as the secret creates tension with his girlfriend.

When Peter’s relationship falls apart, he seduces Colin, fully expecting Jack to forgive his transgression. But Jack is keeping secrets too—he hasn’t told even Colin that he’s fallen in love. Suddenly the twins are feuding, and Colin is caught in the middle, blindsided by the revelation that he doesn’t want to choose between them.

Now all three must find a way to share, or they’ll tear each other apart.

 

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Yolande Kleinn may be a shameless dreamer and a stubborn optimist, but she is also a proud purveyor of erotic romance. Excitable, fastidious, and a little eclectic, she spends every spare moment as far away from reality as possible.

A Minnesotan by both heart and geography, Yolande has plenty of experience weathering tough winters. Her favorite method: distracting herself with warm beverages and even warmer stories. A night spent with a good book is heaven. A morning free to write, with a hot cup of coffee close at hand, is even better.

 

Connect with Yolande:

To celebrate the release of Covet, one lucky winner will receive a $30 Riptide gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 23, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Midlife Crisis by Audra North: Blog Tour Spotlight, Release Day Review and Giveaway

Cam McGhee grew up like any other small-town Texas farm boy: he played football, went to church every Sunday, and married his high school sweetheart. But thirty-five years after he said “I do,” Cam finds himself nursing a beer in a gay bar, thinking about what might have been.

Dave Montoya is confident, self-assured, and cautiously single. But when he meets shy, uncertain, and clearly-still-not-out Cam in a coffee shop in Austin, his reservations about getting seriously involved again disappear. Cam is everything he’s looking for in a partner . . . almost, anyway.

No matter how much Dave wants him, and how good they are together, Cam can’t bring himself to fully embrace the life he was meant to live. After all, when his secret finally gets out, he faces the very real possibility of losing everything that kept him going for the first fifty years of his life, just like he’s feared for so long. But with a little faith—and a lot of love—his dream of living fully, truly, as himself might finally be within reach.

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This book intrigued me from the beginning for several reasons. First, how often do we see an m/m romance with characters that are people of color, and then on top of it, they are over the age of 50?!?!?!? These are quite often anomalies in the romance genre, much less gay romance, and having them addressed so prominently in the story was fantastic. And the author did both of those sides of the main characters justice. Addressing all the aches and pains that come with aging, and even having one MC come from a town of all African Americans in Texas, made their journey seem more realistic, falling in love at an age where most people think that people are settled with a partner.

In fact, Dave HAD been settled with a partner, for a number of years, until that partner had his own midlife crisis, and moved on. Cam, meanwhile, was married for 35 years to a woman who died the previous year. He had always known he was gay, but never felt he could be in the tiny, all African American town he lived in. Falling in love was never in Cam’s plans, but finally kissing a man was, as we find in the opening scene. Cam went to Austin to find himself, or possibly to see what he could do to be who he wanted to be for a time.

I understood Cam’s hesitance to move forward with the life that he wanted to lead, but it was frustrating as a reader to understand his continued look at his “old life” as something he needed to get back to, and one he couldn’t move forward from. He’d spent his entire life in the closet, finally moves forward with finding a new love, then makes himself choose between (and this isn’t a surprise since she is called this by her brother) his selfish spoiled daughter who is appalled that her father is gay, versus the man who he fell in love with, and who had had nothing but undying patience for Cam’s slow coming out.  Cam had spent his entire life lying to everyone around him, making sure they all had their needs met, and finally his own were being met and he decided to give it up when his daughter threw a tantrum.

Of course, there is an HEA, so Cam gets his man back, and his children approve, but it still seemed like there needed to be more of a challenge on Dave’s side (although his sister Jacqui did a good job of pushing back on Cam).

One piece that was especially telling for how Cam continued to allow everyone to dictate his entire life was the short snippets of his life with LaVerne, through the years. Although it didn’t necessarily show growth of the character, it did show how he continued to be caught in the spiral he began in high school.

All in all, a sweet story, with a man who took care of everyone but himself first, who deserved a happy ending more than most people.

 

Audra North is a contemporary romance author of more than twenty romances, including the Stanton Family series, the Hard Driving series, and the Pushing the Boundaries series. She is the owner and publisher of Pink Kayak Press, which focuses on the publication of diverse romance works. Winter Rain, a Pink Kayak Press anthology, won a gold medal in the 2015 Independent Publisher Awards.

Audra enjoys speaking to writing groups and at industry conferences. She is also an avid jogger and loves running marathons. She has three children and lives with her family outside of Boston.

For more about Audra, and to sign up for her newsletter, visit audranorth.com.

Connect with Audra:

To celebrate the release of Midlife Crisis, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on September 2, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

GRL 2017 Official Blog Tour: Giovanna Reaves

**TCO is excited to have Giovanna Reaves, Supporting Author, joining the GRL 2017 Blog Tour today! Check out her post on Comfort Zones, all the books, and don’t forget the TCO GRL 2017 Giveaway!

 

 

Comfort Zones

Since becoming an author/writer; I’m learning a lot about myself both personally and professionally. I’m learning not to be easily offended if a reader leaves a negative review. Does it hurt that someone didn’t like what I wrote? Hell yeah, it does. But I have to push past the negative and concentrate on the positive. Being a writer is scary and exciting. I’m sure many other authors who were starting out understand where I’m coming from. The mixed feelings we experience as a writer can be overwhelming at times leaving me to wonder if I did the right thing. But then I think about how my life has changed since I became a writer. I’ve learned to express myself through my writing.  I’m becoming more confident by pulling myself slowly away from the corner where I have felt comfortable.

Being a writer, I’m learning to get out of my comfort zone. Such as being a bit more open on social media (not big on talking about myself) and the biggest one, meeting new people or learning to accept that not everyone is going to love my work. Some writers, myself included are very shy and get nervous whenever we are about to do something new by stepping out of our comfort zones. One of the ways that I will be pushing myself further away from my corner will be by attending my first GRL this October! I’m a ball of nerves and excitement. I’m doing this because I think it would be the perfect time for me to learn from seasoned authors who know what the heck they are doing. Not only that I can’t wait to meet all the authors whose books I’ve enjoyed over and over for the past few years. I cannot wait to thank the writers who unknowingly encouraged me by taking the first step in becoming a writer. There are so many questions I

want to ask so many things I cannot wait to see. In my excitement, my only worry is that I will end up being that one annoying fan they’ll run from when they see me coming. I know for certain that I will have a blast and I cannot wait!

Giovanna (Gia) Reaves is my alter ego, who is a dreamer. I spend my days and nights dreaming and thinking of the worlds I want to create with words. I started writing about three years ag

o when I was introduced to the world of fan fiction. I loved the idea of creating a new world around characters that people already knew about. And ones that are original of my own making. I have written four novels and currently working on much more to come. I am a mother, wife, and a military veteran. I enjoy trying new things such as traveling, cooking, and reading. I try to incorporate some of the things I have experienced into my books. Currently living in Newport, RI with my two favorite men. If I am not hidden in my cave writing, I love to read and spend time with my hubby and son. I love listening to R and B along with neo soul when I am writing. When I’m not writing, I am trying to perfect my baking and decorating skills or try to pick up something new. I love spending time with my husband and son playing video games and traveling.

Check out my website www.giovannareaves.com or my books on Amazon.


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Get a Grip by L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/L. A. Witt blog tour for Get a Grip, the latest Bluewater Bay story!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of two eBooks off my backlist (excluding Get a Grip) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29th, and winners will be announced on July 30th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

 

If a tree falls in Bluewater Bay . . . could it be fate?

A year after his divorce, Shane Andrews isn’t interested in dating—not that he has time, between three kids and a demanding job as a grip. When a windstorm knocks a tree onto one of the Wolf’s Landing soundstages, Shane’s there to help with the mess . . . and so is firefighter Aaron Tucker.

A former smoke jumper, Aaron’s an adrenaline junkie and way too restless and reckless to be relationship material. As far as he’s concerned, monogamy is for penguins, and he’d rather be alone than tied down. Signing up to be a stepparent? No, thank you.

But after a scorching-hot night together, they’re hooked. Aaron is a taste of the excitement Shane’s been lacking, and Shane’s pushing buttons Aaron didn’t know he had. The more they’re together, the less Aaron craves wild nights with other men . . . but the more Shane wants to play the field like he never got to in his twenties.

This could be the love neither man knew he needed, but only if Shane gets his feet back on the ground before Aaron walks away.

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Writing in an Established Series

Writing in an established universe definitely has some challenges. When that universe is shared, there are even more. But it’s a ton of fun, too, which is why I’ve done it twice (first with Tucker Springs, now with Bluewater Bay), and will probably do it again in the future.

An equal parts pro and con is that you don’t have complete control over your universe. If it’s a shared world, you have other people working on it, which means keeping track of the town’s layout, if that restaurant on First Street is still in business or if one of the other authors burned it down two books ago, etc.  With so many people involved in Bluewater Bay, we kept a couple of detailed “bibles” on Google Docs, which we could all access to make sure we had our stories straight.

That can make things challenging, of course, but it can also make things easier. When I want my characters to go on a romantic date, it’s entirely possible another author has already created a restaurant that fits the bill. So I just send my characters to that place and don’t have to worry about naming it, establishing the atmosphere, etc. So it’s a bit of a shortcut!

Similarly, you can have characters introduced by other authors. In Get a Grip, Shane meets a couple of swingers, Simon and Lydia. They’ll be front and center in Anna Zabo’s book, Outside the Lines. And in turn, Anna introduces Jesse, the assistant manager at the Simon and Lydia’s comic book shop, and Jesse will be one of the main characters of my next book in the series, New Hand.

Basically what it boils down to is that you have to make sure you’re consistent with other authors, and you have to keep track of details from one book to the next, but you’ve also got people establishing cast and setting along the way, which can make things really fun. So yes, shared and established universes certainly have their challenges, but they’re really a lot of fun. I don’t know when or where my next shared universe will pop up, but there will definitely be more of them.

About Bluewater Bay

Welcome to Bluewater Bay! This quiet little logging town on Washington state’s Olympic Peninsula has been stagnating for decades, on the verge of ghost town status. Until a television crew moves in to film Wolf’s Landing, a soon-to-be cult hit based on the wildly successful shifter novels penned by local author Hunter Easton.

Wolf’s Landing’s success spawns everything from merchandise to movie talks, and Bluewater Bay explodes into a mecca for fans and tourists alike. The locals still aren’t quite sure what to make of all this—the town is rejuvenated, but at what cost? And the Hollywood-based production crew is out of their element in this small, mossy seaside locale. Needless to say, sparks fly.

This collaborative story world is brought to you by eleven award-winning, best-selling LGBTQ romance authors: L.A. Witt, L.B. Gregg, Z.A. Maxfield,  Heidi Belleau, Rachel Haimowitz, Anne Tenino, Amy Lane, SE Jakes, G.B. Gordon, Jaime Samms and Ally Blue. Each contemporary novel stands alone, but all are built around the town and the people of Bluewater Bay and the Wolf’s Landing media empire.

Check out Bluewater Bay! http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/bluewater-bay

 

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…

L.A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).  

To celebrate the release of Get a Grip, one lucky winner will receive their choice of two ebooks off L.A.’s backlist and a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 29, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Oversight by Santino Hassell: Spotlight with Giveaway

Holden Payne has it all . . . or so he thinks. As heir to the founder of the Community—an organization that finds, protects, and manages psychics—he’s rich, powerful, and treated like royalty. But after a series of disappearances and murders rock the Community, he’s branded the fall guy for the scandal and saddled with a babysitter.

Sixtus Rossi is a broad-shouldered, tattooed lumbersexual with a man bun and a steely gaze. He’s also an invulnerable—supposedly impervious to both psychic abilities and Holden’s charms. It’s a claim Holden takes as a challenge. Especially if sleeping with Six may help him learn whether the Community had more to do with the disappearances than they claimed.

As Holden uncovers the truth, he also finds himself getting in deep with the man sent to watch him. His plan to seduce Six for information leads to a connection so intense that some of Six’s shields come crashing down. And with that comes a frightening realization: Holden has to either stand by the Community that has given him everything, or abandon his old life to protect the people he loves.

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About The Community Series

What lies beneath the surface of the world you thought you knew?

Secrets and lies have twisted an underground community founded by psychics escaping persecution. Blackmail, sex, and social climbing in the name of power has created an irreparable rift.

In the eyes of the founders, there are two sides: loyalists and everyone else. Surely no one would emerge from their tightly woven webs. And they certainly wouldn’t sow the seeds of rebellion within the heart of the Community’s only queer night club.

Now an outcast, a scion, and a runaway are leading a revolution to save not only the men they love, but the entire Community.

Check out The Community series! https://riptidepublishing.com/titles/series/community

Book 1: Insight

Book 2: Oversight

 

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

He’s been a finalist in both the Bisexual Book Awards and the EPIC Awards, and was nominated for a prestigious RITA award in 2017. His work has been featured in BuzzFeed, Huffington Post, Washington Post, RT Magazine, and Cosmopolitan Magazine.

Connect with Santino:

 

To celebrate the release of Oversight, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 1, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Risky Behavior by Cari Z & L.A. Witt: Blog Tour, Review and Giveaway

Welcome to the Riptide Publishing/Cari Z/L. A. Witt blog tour for Risky Behavior, book 1 of the Bad Behavior series!

Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a choice of one eBook off each author’s backlist (excluding Risky Behavior) and a $10 Riptide Publishing store credit. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6th.  Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries.

It’s day one of Darren Corliss’s career as a detective, and not only has he been assigned a notoriously difficult partner, but the guy might also be a pill-popping dirty cop. Internal Affairs needs proof, and Darren gets to be their eyes and ears whether he wants to or not.

Detective Andreas Ruffner doesn’t play by the rules, and he doesn’t play well with others. With bodies piling up and a list of suspects who are way above his pay grade, the last thing he needs is a wet-behind-the-ears kid for a partner. Or babysitter. Not even if that partner is easy on the eyes.

As Darren gains Andreas’s hard-won trust, they both realize there’s more than just mutual suspicion simmering beneath the surface. But their investigation is heating up as quickly as their relationship, and Darren has no choice but to go along with Andreas’s unorthodox—and borderline unethical—methods. As IA puts the squeeze on Darren to give up the man he’s falling for, he has to wonder—is Andreas the only cop left in this town who isn’t dirty?

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Risky Behavior is the beginning of a new series by the prolific L.A. Witt and Cari Z. And from what I saw on Riptide’s website, book 2 in the series is a continuation of the story of Darren and Andreas. Thank goodness!!! Because I feel like I only got a small taste of what their relationship will be like.

These two men did not come together easily or quickly. It was a slow burn. Trust was not easily earned for Darren with Andreas. Andreas was an a-hole (which I think the character readily admits). He’s never had a partner who wouldn’t put up with his lack of information or difficulty in getting along. Darren, however, didn’t let it go. He would ask questions, again and again, if needed, to get the full information. And that would be the only type of person Andreas would trust, not only with his back as a partner, but with a potential relationship. Darren stepped right up, pushing right back at Andreas, the perfect foil.

The action and suspense in this book was non-stop, lots of twists and turns, as they tried to take down a huge drug cartel in town, which involves people at all levels. I always enjoy books that have more than just a romance in them. Intrigue, suspense, and the occasional shooting does not go awry, if there is romance and an HEA or HFN on the last page, and this book did not disappoint.

Risky Behavior ends on an HFN note, with much more to come in Book 2, as we see these two men continue to team up to take down the bad guys, as well as team up in the bedroom. (Which, btw, Darren surprises everyone, including Andreas in the bedroom. 🙂 )

This was well done, with seamless co-authoring, which isn’t always easy to do. I can’t wait to see what is ahead for these guys.

4.5 pieces of eye candy.

 

About Cari Z

Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing, because some things she just thought she could do better. She’s still climbing that ladder, but can’t stop herself from writing, or from sharing what she creates.

Cari enjoys a wide range of literary genres, from the classics (get ‘im, Ahab) to science fiction and fantasy of all types, to historical fiction and reference materials (no, seriously, there are so many great encyclopedias out there). She writes in a wide range of genres as well, but somehow 90% of what she produces ends up falling into the broad and exciting category of m/m erotica. There’s a sprinkling of f/m and f/f and even m/f/m in her repertoire, but her true love is man love. And there’s a lot of love to go around.

Cari has published short stories, novellas, and novels with numerous print and e-presses, and she also offers up a tremendous amount of free content on Literotica.com, under the name Carizabeth.

Connect with Cari at http://cari-z.net/  or via her blog, http://carizerotica.blogspot.com/

About L.A. Witt

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut . . .

L. A.’s backlist is available on her website, and updates (as well as random thoughts and the odd snarky comment) can be found on her blog or on Twitter (@GallagherWitt).

To celebrate the release of Risky Behavior, one lucky winner will receive an ebook from each Cari and Lori’s backlist and a $10 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 6, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Insight by Santino Hassell: Blog Tour, Author Interview, Review and Giveaway

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synopsis

Growing up the outcast in an infamous family of psychics, Nate Black never learned how to control his empath abilities. Then after five years without contact, his estranged twin turns up dead in New York City. The claim of suicide doesn’t ring true, especially when a mysterious vision tells Nate it was murder. Now his long-hated gift is his only tool to investigate.

Hitching from his tiny Texas town, Nate is picked up by Trent, a gorgeous engineer who thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. The heat that sparks between them is instant and intense, and Nate ends up trusting Trent with his secrets—something he’s never done before. But once they arrive in the city, the secrets multiply when Nate discovers an underground supernatural community, more missing psychics, and frightening information about his own talent.

Nate is left questioning his connection with Trent. Are their feelings real, or are they being propelled by abilities Nate didn’t realize he had? His fear of his power grows, but Nate must overcome it to find his brother’s killer and trust himself with Trent’s heart.

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tco-author interview

  1. Insight is the beginning of a new series for you, The Community. Where do you see this series going? What is upcoming with it?

The Community is going to be very different from my contemporary romance series, Five Boroughs, in that it’s planned to wrap up as a trilogy. There will still be side characters who get their own points of view and romantic arc in the two sequels, but the over arcing plot and conflicts will resolve in book 3. I like to think of it as a three-act play—the first book is when the main character discovers the existence of this psychic community, the second book is when characters who’ve long since been in it confront the shady elements of it, and the third book is when everyone comes together to do something about it.

  1. One of the main character’s, Nate, is described as an outcast in a psychic family. Where did the idea for his story come from?

I really wanted to write about a clan of psychics who were eerily powerful, and the more I thought about the potential the more I realized how dysfunctional that would be. These people grew up together, afraid of the outside world and anyone who would find out about their gifts, while always being inside each other’s heads? Not to mention the various coping mechanisms they’d use to deal with all the power and dysfunction. In short, I decided to make my powerful psychic clan a mess in a small town where that reputation would attach to Nate. So, he tried to disassociate from them because of their reputation but also because he wanted to be far away from how twisted they all could be.

  1. According to the synopsis, Trent thrives on sarcasm and skepticism. How easy, or difficult, is it to develop a character who is exudes a sarcastic nature? How do you integrate that skepticism into the character’s personality?

Trent is an engineer, so he’s skeptical by nature. You can’t just tell him “psychics exist” or “I think my brother was murdered” without him picking apart your claim and trying to figure out how all the parts come together. He wants proof. He wants to figure out a way to make it real. And once he gets what he needs to believe it, he’ll put together an action plan to deal with it. That’s why he and Nate work so well together. Nate is very emotionally invested in the mystery, the existence of a psychic community, whereas Trent is a step back and can look at it all objectively. His sarcasm is just a part of who he is, and also a way for him to make light of how ludicrous he thinks it is even after he accepts the truth. So, you can expect a lot of X-Men jokes.

  1. What is one ritual you have to perform before, during or after writing that might surprise your readers?

This isn’t very interesting, but I tend to reread my draft a lot while I’m writing it. Sometimes I have to reassure myself that the pacing is good or that it’s compelling because once I’m knee deep in a draft, it all looks like junk to me. I also have an alpha reader who gives me feedback on that type of thing if I just can’t see it clearly.

  1. Always have to have a fun question to finish. 🙂 You and Megan Erickson are on opposite sides of a jail door. Who is behind lock and key, and why?

LOL I’m definitely behind the lock and key, and she’s smuggling me pizza and Nilla Wafers as I serve my time.

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denise review

Having read quite a few of Santino‘s books, I was looking forward to this one, and seeing his writing from a different perspective. This was not going to be his normal snarky contemporary romance with dark tones and a gritty New York scene. Except, it kind of was.

Insight involves paranormal, which got me hooked in right away. Why would someone who had some sort of powers want to hide them, not use them, and even more, be in a dark hole in his life? How does that happen to someone who can see things, have an insight into others’ lives?

We do get some answers in Insight, but not the full picture yet, which I quite liked. I enjoyed knowing that there was more coming, layers that we will be uncovering in the next two books.

Poor Nate had just a crap life, and no prospects of it looking up when his twin brother dies, and after seeing it from his brother’s point of view, decides to go to NYC to investigate. Trent, meanwhile, an engineer at heart that needs to see proof of something before he will believe it, was the perfect snarky foil to down, but not out, Nate.

What made the story so compelling, in addition to all the intrigue and suspense, was the team that Nate and Trent made. Even with Nate’s concerns that he was using his empath abilities to have his feelings mirrored by Trent, they had each other’s backs, and knew that even with all the half-truths, questions and intensity, they could count on the other person to be there. How that was slowly built over the course of their drive across the country is one of Santino’s greatest gifts as a storyteller, his ability to build his characters into living, breathing people with varying interests, flaws, and personalities, yet be the puzzle piece the other character needs to complete the picture.

I’m looking forward to seeing how book 2, Oversight, brings the arc around to Holden, and somehow makes us want an HEA for him. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy

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meet the author

 

Santino was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed grunge kid, then a transient twentysomething, and eventually transformed into a guy who spends his days and nights writing romance with an edge.

Santino is a dedicated gamer, a former fanfic writer, an ASoIaF mega nerd, a Grindr enthusiast, but most of all he is a writer of LGBT fiction that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

Connect with Santino:

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To celebrate the release of Insight, one lucky winner will receive $20 in Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on March 18, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

 

This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

GRL 2016 Blog Tour Stop: Kaje Harper

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**TCO is excited to welcome Kaje Harper to the blog today for a GRL 2016 blog post. Take a peek at what Kaje has to say about writing and publishing!**

 

Writing as a Passion, Publishing as a Career

I’ve always been an enthusiastic reader, as well as a writer. I enjoy hanging out in online groups with other readers, where we share a love for M/M romance books. (My own favorite-reads list is over 400 books long. Do not ask me for recommendations, unless you have a lot of time, and a place to take notes.) One thing that often comes up is the question of how to get started as a writer. I adore the way the M/M genre seems to inspire people to want to create their own stories.NameBadgeGRLscaled

The first think I ask is “Do you want to write for fun, and maybe have some people read it? Or do you hope for a writing career?” Because over the last five years I’ve learned that they’re definitely not the same thing.

I started writing… well, probably as soon as I started reading. My mom saved some little stories I wrote in kindergarten, a few pages of misspelled crayon words. My first M/M romance was written when I was fourteen (in 1974 for those keeping track.) Putting stories to paper was a satisfying private passion for 30 years― I typed a story out and then filed it, never letting anyone else read it, and that was great. I’m sure that even if I never sold another book after today, I wouldn’t stop.

There’s a simple joy in creation. For me it’s an escape from the real world— watching the people and events that only existed in my head begin living and breathing on the page. And, because I’m a serious non-planning pantser, the plot surprises as my story unfolds are almost as unexpected as reading someone else’s work. The characters talk to me. It’s pure fun. And that much anyone can do, anytime. Publishing is the next hurdle.

My husband has put up with me spending hours on a keyboard ever since we were married in 1986. In 2011 he suggested maybe, just maybe, I should submit one of my books to an actual publisher. You know, to go somewhere with it. Maybe raise my hourly writing income from zero dollars per hour to at least a few cents.

I agreed, mostly to keep the peace. I submitted my favorite story to a publisher known for their long and constructive rejection letters. Color me surprised when they accepted Life Lessons. I was thrilled, and nervous, and it seemed so unreal I didn’t even tell my husband for a couple of months. The publisher and I began editing. Fact checking things I’d glossed over, when it was just my for own entertainment. We began planning for release. And a cover ― I’d never bothered with a cover before. Do those look like my guys? Do I want to show their faces? Will readers like it? It was a whole new world.

As an isolated, tech-ignorant loner, I had no website. In fact, it wasn’t until the book was out and the publisher told me I’d received a fan letter— (fan letter *squeeee*)— which was sent to them because I couldn’t be found online, that I started the process of having Kaje Harper become more than just a name on a book cover. (This is backwards, BTW, if you’re planning a career. Do the website first.)

Then someone told me I should Google-search for reviews and I ended up at Goodreads. There, in the groups of like-minded readers, I first found community. I claimed my author page. I chatted about favorite authors and books. I even wrote some reviews, good and bad.

I got up the nerve to go to my first GayRomLit conference in 2012. There, I met favorite author Amy Lane, who told me how she treasured my one 2-star review of her work, as validating all my other 5-stars for her. It was a lovely gesture to put me at ease, and so cool that she knew my name and had read one of my books (wow!) and my reviews (ouch), and so embarrassing too. I realized maybe honesty wasn’t the only consideration in how Kaje Harper should present online.

Maybe my author persona maybe shouldn’t be just me with a new name. For a book in the genre I also write, my bad review might look like hubris, like “I could have done it better.” I began to think about what I chose to do as a member of the M/M writing community, not simply a reader. Since then I only put up my 4-5 star reviews— the 1100 or so books I love and want to encourage people to read. And sometimes, I don’t say the things that pop into my mind, until I vet them a little harder for both kindness and courtesy. I work to present my better self in my author voice.

Over the last 5 years, I’ve released almost 40 stories, ranging from 3,000 to 140,000 words. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve put out unedited freebies, just for fun, and heavily worked over pro-published novels with a decent price tag. My first royalty check made me fly so high! I almost framed it rather than cashing it. (It was only for about $7 so I could have. I did photocopy it…) I’ve had amazing experiences, and gained some of the most generous readers in the world, who go out of their way to support my stories. I’m luckier than I could have imagined, in the way it’s worked out for me.

But I still think publishing is not for everyone. I’ve seen excellent authors founder on the realities of sharing the work of your heart with strangers, and the even tougher realities of trying to live on the proceeds of it. Two of my favorite M/M authors just hung up their pens in the last couple of weeks. Others have vanished from sight.

Many writers (including me) are introverts, socially awkward, and over-sensitive to the opinion of others. (You should see a writing conference social hour – half the group is chatting in the middle of the room, the other half of us are hugging the walls, smiles firmly in place, wondering if we look dumb, wondering if we should be trying to start a conversation, wondering how soon is too soon to head back to our nice, quiet hotel rooms with a good book.) I think that the same things that make us good at sharing our characters’ emotions and minds on the page can make publishing tougher.

Writing itself is the joy. Well, sometimes frustration, and dry spells, and rewriting, and hair-pulling, but mostly joy. Publishing means sharing your creation with others, some of whom are going to hate it. Some of whom are going to insult it, and you. Some of whom will write reviews that make you want to never pen another word.

It’s inevitable. There is no book so good that someone didn’t write a bad review of it on Amazon, or Goodreads, or All Romance eBooks, or a blog. Check out your favorites. People say of Lord of the Rings, “This is among the most tedious books I’ve ever had the misfortune to read. Or of Winnie the Pooh, “Milne talks down to his readers in a patronising way which makes me shudder.”

Bad reviews will happen. There’s also the chance your story may languish, without so much as one review for feedback or affirmation. Or perhaps with a couple of wordless stars, to leave you wondering what that was for.

So why publish? Well, there’s also nothing like sharing the work of your imagination, and finding out it touched someone’s heart. I’ve had reviews and emails that said my story helped a reader understand why marriage equality matters, or got them through a sad time in their life, or distracted them from pain and illness, or reminded them of friends long gone. I’ve seen lovely, thoughtful discussions, where the men who’d only lived in my head are treated as real, live humans, to be appreciated and analyzed and loved and scolded. I’ve seen my stories recommended to others, as a source of light for their dark times.

That’s an amazing thing. It can make me walk with my feet ten feet off the ground.

What about the money? Well, the idea that you can earn a living, or part of a living, from writing books you love, is heady. But do note the words “part of a living.” I’m in awe of the M/M writers who make it a full-time career. That takes hard, hard work and productivity and promotion. It takes pushing past your comfort zone to sell your books, and a willingness to ride out lean times. And a bit of luck. I’ve stuck with my day job and the easier part-time road. But then, I have the luxury of a good job I enjoy, and a working spouse. Earning a living by writing is tough.

There’s a general idea that authors must make a lot of money off their books. “Just look at them selling like hotcakes on Amazon.” And fortunately for those of us who love to read, some authors do live well from writing. The Jessewave M/M blog once did a survey of M/M authors. I’m happy to say one in twenty of the authors made more than ten thousand dollars off their first book. That’s a decent return indeed, and if they can repeat it, book after book, with new books every year, it’s a career. But more than half of surveyed authors earned less than a thousand dollars, total, from their first novel. Given that a novel usually takes months to write, they earned a couple of dollars an hour for their work. If they paid self publishing costs for a cover and editing and formatting, they might not have made back what they spent, and the hourly wage goes into the negatives. Publishing stories, aiming for a full time writing career, is definitely a leap of faith in yourself.

Personally, I’m delighted that my husband pushed me into publishing my stories. (He’s such a good guy. I’m not sure he realized it would mean me spending more time on the keyboard, but he’s very supportive.) Releasing my M/M stories to readers introduced me to people who are now among my closest friends. It opened worlds and possibilities. Including actually meeting new friends in real life, at conferences.

I’d never have imagined, six years ago, that I would be looking forward to my fifth GayRomLit conference. Or how far I could come from that first one, where I went as a reader, sometimes flipped my badge over so no one could read my name, and hid in hallways. This year in Kansas City, I’ll be doing not just a Q&A session, but a talk on “Broken Men: Avoiding the Magic Healing Peen,” collaborating with two fellow writers, Ethan Stone and Carter Quinn, in front of a live audience. And I’m looking forward to it, (if somewhat nervously, because becoming a published author still did not make me an extrovert.)

Back when I wrote in solitude, on my old portable typewriter or my husband’s outgrown laptop, I never thought that I’d one day be holding paper copies of my own books, with my guys looking back at me from the covers. Or selling them for real money, at a table at GRL, alongside authors who’ve been my own favorites, like Jordan Castillo Price and Edmond Manning. Publishing snuck up on me, and it’s been aGRL Featured Authorn amazing ride so far.

Some of you may hope to take that adventure too. I highly recommend it, if what I described turns your crank. If you have the love of words, and the drive to create. And the willingness to ride the downsides and failures, the criticisms and difficult moments, for the incredible highs. (A bit like any other important risk you take in life, really.) And many of you will prefer to simply read. You guys are the valued, vital and fundamental reason for any of us to publish. An author without readers would be a sad thing indeed.

I do recommend GayRomLit as a conference, whether you read M/M, write it, or have a maybe-book simmering. There is nothing as inspiring, and warm, and fun, as sharing space with hundreds of people who love the same books that you do, and who share support for the LGBTQ community.

This is my tribe.

The group is supportive, celebratory, happy to meet others like ourselves. When two men, or two women, among us hold hands or kiss, everyone smiles. Some of us do retreat from the social press, here and there; others dance till all hours of the night, at parties where same-sex couples and het couples mingle in shared enjoyment. We talk about books and writing and stories and life. We affirm for each other the importance of telling these stories, and the joy of watching them go more mainstream with every passing year. And sometimes, we listen and try to bolster the pain of the dark moments, the losses, the times when the world isn’t yet accepting of the rainbow. The hotel is filled with readers, authors, narrators, publishers, and lots of M/M books. My kind of place.

I hope to see some of you  at GRL in Kansas City, MO in October this year, or at other conferences other years. I hope all of you find new favorite reading, and some of you who haven’t put stories to paper before are inspired to write, for yourselves, for the fun of it. I hope some of you do go on to publish, and find success. We all win when this genre grows and steps forward into the consciousness of new readers, helping to teach those who read romance that love is love, and that two men together can be beautiful.

-Kaje Harper, September 2016

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LifeLessons

 

meet the author 

 

 

Abstract color background with wave and feather pen, illustration

Kaje Harper grew up in Montreal, and spent her teen years writing, filling binders with stories. But as life got busy, the stories began to just live in her head. The characters grew, met, endured, and loved, in any quiet moment, but the stories rarely made it to paper. Her time was taken up by work in psychology, teaching, and a biomedical career, and the fun of raising children.

Eventually the kids became more independent and her husband gave her a computer she didn’t have to share. She started putting words down in print again, just for fun. Hours of fun. Lots of hours of fun. The stories began piling up, and her husband suggested if she was going to spend that much time on the keyboard she ought to try to publish one. MLR Press accepted her first submission, the M/M mystery Life Lessons, which came out in May 2011. Kaje now has many novels and short stories published, including Amazon bestseller The Rebuilding Year, and a selection of free short stories and novels in a variety of gay romance genres, available at most ebook retailers. Her most recent release is the Tracefinder thriller-mystery series. She currently lives in Minnesota with a creative teenager, a crazy omnivorous little white dog, and a remarkably patient spouse.

Website: http://kajeharper.wordpress.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KajeHarper

Goodreads Author page: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4769304.Kaje_Harper

Or you can find me moderating my Young Adult LGBT Books group on Goodreads – https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/49526-ya-lgbt-books

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This post may contain affiliate links. Advanced Reader Copies are accepted by Two Chicks Obsessed in exchange for an honest review without additional compensation.

Empty Net by Avon Gale: Release Day Review, Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

 

Featured Author Avon Gale

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Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain, Isaac Drake, ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and a family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him—no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse. He was constantly treated like a disappointment, on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist. Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the-season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold on to Laurent—or their relationship.

Title: Empty Net
Series: Scoring Chances: Book 4
Author: Avon Gale
Release Date: September 2, 2016
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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Exclusive Excerpt from Empty Net:

Kissing Laurent was both a good idea and a bad one.

Isaac had no idea what he was doing with Laurent on a personal level, but professionally they were in competition. Laurent’s goaltending was getting better and better, because he’d apparently decided to show up and play, after all. Which was great, but Isaac was having to step up his game.

And he liked it, he realized. The competition wasn’t vicious—since Laurent was being way less of a dickhead—but it was intense.

The more intense it got, the more intense the kissing got too. Isaac continued to wonder if he was getting in over his head.

“So you’re spending a lot of time with Saint,” Hux said, when they were playing video games at his and Murph’s place.

“And isn’t it better for everyone?” Isaac made his on-screen character shoot the puck. He liked playing forward on video games, even though everyone expected him to be the goalie.

“Not talking about the team, bro,” said Hux. He, on the other hand, played a defenseman, just like he did on the ice. He also liked to try and get in fights. Hux was a man secure and happy with his role in their shared sport, that was for sure.

“You fucking him?” Murph asked, wandering in with a beer.

“Murph thinks he’s gay,” Hux said, as if that needed explaining.

Isaac stared at the screen and tried to make Mike Fisher do some kind of Spinarama move. Instead Hux’s team stole the puck and scored off the turnover. Being a Predators fan was hard in any reality—real or pixelated. “I’m not fucking him.”

His friends stared at him, but Isaac tried not to let anything show on his face. Things were too complicated to talk about.

“Holy shit. Ha. I was right. My gaydar is better than yours, dude,” Murph crowed, smacking Isaac on the back of the head.

“Ow. Would you stop? I told you I wasn’t fucking him.”

“Yeah. But you’re getting some,” Murph prodded. “Don’t lie.”

“I’m not,” Isaac said. Firmly. “Believe me. Can we not talk about this?”

“Nope.” Hux paused the game. “Spill it. Are you guys dating?”

Isaac was two seconds away from snapping “I’m going home” and throwing the controller like he was a sulky twelve-year-old. Instead he took a deep breath and said, “Guys, can we not talk about Saint and just play the game?”

Murph and Hux exchanged a look, but they didn’t say anything else about it. Isaac didn’t trust that look at all, but he kept it to himself. He couldn’t say he didn’t want to talk about it and then start talking about it.

Making out with Laurent and trying to be friends with him didn’t necessarily make it easier to like him. He still rubbed a lot of the guys the wrong way, and though Isaac understood that dickhead Laurent was a result of him feeling insecure or defensive, no one else did. Yet there was a guy worth knowing under the mask. Isaac was sure of it.

Which was why, when Coach Samarin told them about an outreach opportunity at a local school, Isaac signed them both up without asking Laurent.

“You want me to talk to kids?” Laurent stared at him incredulously. “I can barely handle talking to people my own age, and you think this is a good idea?”

Isaac shrugged and then flashed a grin. “Probably not, but you gotta learn sometime. Right?”

Laurent didn’t look convinced. “I’m not ever having children,” he said in a flat voice.

“Stop making everything so dramatic,” Isaac responded. “You’re going.”

The outreach was about getting kids interested in hockey without the use of one of Belsey’s 80’s-music-themed ad campaigns. He and Laurent wore a few pieces of their gear—mostly to emphasize the importance of safety, and because kids thought their masks were cool—and stood in front of some nets while the kids were organized into two groups, and then tried to score with a giant nerf ball and what looked to be an over-sized golf club.

Isaac wasn’t used to kids, but he had fun flailing around and pretending to stop goals. Each kid took shots until they scored a goal, which was basically just Isaac letting one in when the kid looked frustrated or stopped giggling.

One of the teachers paused the shootout and came up to Isaac. “Umm. Could you maybe tell your teammate that this is supposed to be fun?”

Laurent was apparently taking his position too seriously, as usual. Isaac reassured the harried-looking teacher and went over to Laurent. “It’s not the Stanley Cup playoffs,” he said. “You’re not supposed to make other guys cry.”

Laurent’s dark gaze was cool and unreadable. Isaac had been told more than once that he had the crazy, “come and try it, asshole” goalie stare beneath his mask when he was in net. Not for the first time, Isaac noticed that Laurent’s stare looked like nobody was home—like he was just an extension of the net instead of a person.

No wonder he didn’t like hockey or playing goalie. Shutting down hotshot shooters was supposed to give you a feeling of glee. Just not when they were seven.

“My father never—”

“I swear to—uh, gosh. If you mention your dad, I will deck you with one of those Nerf things.” Isaac looked around and made sure he was smiling wildly in case a small child overheard him. “Now stop being a prick and make these kids have fun.”

Isaac yanked his mask back down, went to his side of the makeshift court, and took his spot back in goal.

A few minutes later he heard some cheers and giggling, so Isaac figured Laurent had gotten with the program.

After the kids were finished shooting at the goalies, they were allowed to take turns in net. Isaac was momentarily horrified at how that would play out with Laurent. He worried that he’d just consigned about ten kids to therapy. But Laurent was surprisingly good at that part. At one point Isaac looked over to check on him and saw Laurent bestow an honest-to-God smile on a kid and ruffle his hair.

That’s when Isaac decided they needed to go on a date—a real one that maybe ended in more than kissing. Because there was something about that gesture, about seeing Laurent St. Savoy drop all his attitude and be a regular guy having a good time and showing the affection he’d probably never had as a child. And Isaac needed to know if the thing between them was leading somewhere or if they were just going to be friends who sometimes petted each other’s hair, but no more than that.

“See. Wasn’t that fun?” Isaac asked on the way back. Laurent looked as relaxed as Isaac had ever seen him.

“It wasn’t bad,” Laurent said.

“You want to go get some dinner?” Isaac tried not to sound too eager.

“It’s four thirty,” Laurent said. “Are we going for a senior citizen’s discount?”

“Well, I meant later. But you know we don’t get paid all that much.” Isaac grinned. “Don’t expect me to take you anywhere fancy. I meant like, Olive Garden or something.”

“I don’t like Olive Garden.”

Isaac sighed and took the turn toward Laurent’s apartment. One step at a time. “We can go somewhere else. The important part was the one where I asked you out. On a date.”

“Okay.”

That was all he got, but Isaac said, “I’ll pick you up at seven thirty” and watched as Laurent climbed out of the Jeep without a backward glance.

 

 

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paula review
This book about broke my heart. Laurent was such an emotional character to read. His life was hell. His outward personality was very much a result of how his father raised him, he was an asshole. In the beginning he really doesn’t know how to act any different. Thank god for Isaac. These two get off to a horrible start due to some pretty shitty things Laurent said to Isaac at the end of the last season and also when the meet again after Laurent’s transfer. Thankfully Isaac is more than just a surface guy and realizes there is more to Laurent then his mouth. Isaac is able to get past Laurent’s guard, and they become friends. I really liked how supportive Isaac was and how he always called Laurent on his bullshit, in regards to his attitude and how he talked to people. Isaac was able to recognize Laurent’s defense mechanisms for what they were and help Laurent find other ways to deal with things. These two characters were brilliantly written and the story was beautiful. I couldn’t put this one down.

5 pieces of eye candy

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Win an e-book copy of Empty Net!

 

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meet the author

Avon Gale was once the mayor on Foursquare of Jazzercise and Lollicup, which should tell you all you need to know about her as a person. She likes road trips, rock concerts, drinking Kentucky bourbon and yelling at hockey. She’s a displaced southerner living in a liberal midwestern college town, and she never gets tired of people and their stories — either real or the ones she makes up in her head.

Find Avon

@Facebook||   @avongalewrites.com||  @twitter

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