Whitecott Manor by Emma Jane: Blog Tour, Exclusive Author Interview, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleWhitecott Manor

Author: Emma Jane

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: September 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65300

Genre: Contemporary, Paranormal, NineStar Press, LGBT, contemporary, British, paranormal, intrigue, family-drama, ghosts, friends to lovers, humor

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Alistair Ellis is the proud gardener for beautiful fifteenth-century Whitecott Manor, in England’s West Country. His life changes forever following a gas explosion at the manor, in which his boss—and love of his life—dies. However, his boss hasn’t exactly gone for good and Alistair still finds himself involved in conversations with the deceased.

Circumstances improve when he meets Noah, the handsome dog groomer for the manor’s new owners. Although there are some issues: Noah is already engaged and Alistair suffers from cynophobia—an acute fear of dogs!

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Read a lot. Join writing groups or writing forums online. Listen to other people when they tell you something you’ve written isn’t very good, even if you don’t agree with them.

 

If you could travel forward or backward in time, where would you go and why?

Maybe back to the 60s because I’m a massive fan of The Monkees! Or the 1920s because I love the fashion, but I wouldn’t want to stay in that time.

 

We’ve all got a little voyeurism in us right? If you could be a fly on the wall during an intimate encounter (does not need to be sexual) between two characters, not your own, who would they be?

Does it have to be a novel? Probably Ash and Darian from Alexis Hall’s Glitterland.

 

If I were snooping around your kitchen and looked in your refrigerator right now, what would I find?

Half a tray of dog food. Almond milk. Apple juice. Some homegrown tomatoes from my uncle. Some fat balls I made for the wild birds. And not a lot else! Most of my food is either in the cupboards or the freezer.

 

If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

Telekinesis because I’m horribly lazy.

 

If you could trade places with one of your characters, who would it be and why?

Probably Arthur from Whitecott Manor. He’s quite well off and basically gets to do what he likes!

I loved the setting of this book, an old manor in England, beautiful gardens as far as the eye can see. It makes you think about old Harlequin romance novels, and traveling to these places to see them yourself. A great location to have a grand romance.

Alistair was kind of a mess emotionally, but in a sweet way. Concerned about his job, after his lover, the owner dies (and then “haunts” him), having a difficult time dealing with his father since the death of his mother, and navigating a world where he is gay in a very small English village. He meets Noah the dog groomer, who he is very taken with at first sight…except for the whole phobia of dogs thing. He also really seemed to care about those around him, going out of his way to help others, and even being open to his father finding a girlfriend.

I liked these two main characters, even with all of Alistair’s issues. However, I did think that there might have been too much going on in this book. There were quite a few different conflicts in this book that seemed to pop up, then would fade into the background while another would pop up, until one of the others came to the forefront again. It didn’t make the book confusing, it just made it very busy. It was hard to feel like the romance of Alistair and Noah was a focus when there were so many other conflicts that would become the focus.

The side characters were very well written, including Emmett (the dead lover/owner) who was all about his fashion choices. Those made me laugh every time!

A well written book and characters, but definitely a bit crowded in the story.

3.5 pieces of eye candy

Whitecott Manor
Emma Jane © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Once I was aware of the cuts, they stung like a bitch. I should’ve worn gloves, really, but it’s so much easier not to. I was almost finished anyway, and the Harpers’ rose borders were nearly ready. They’d look beautiful when they flowered in the summer—they always did. White and red rose blooms flanked the path to the tennis court. I just had one last bush to prune and then I could stop for a cuppa. The cuts were itching now too, right where the thorns had snagged and ripped my skin. I sucked the flesh between my thumb and index finger, tasting blood and mud, and stood there, secateurs in hand, watching the house.

It was a fifteenth-century manor—a beautiful listed building made from warm-yellow stone. It’d been revamped inside, a strange mixture of modern and ancient, and was currently—unfortunately, in my opinion—on the market. I didn’t want it to sell; I didn’t want to lose my job. The Harpers assured me that whoever bought the place would keep me on but, well, it wasn’t down to them.

I took my hand from my mouth and watched as the estate agent led a middle-aged couple from their car—some sort of old classic; light blue with a soft-top—to the front of the manor. Even at this distance, I could see the look on their faces as they gazed up at the building before entering. They loved it already. Everybody did; it was such an impressive place. Bloody hell, I’d buy it if I had a spare eight million lying around.

I glowered to myself and turned back to the last bush, reaching into the branches to snip it into some sort of order. I cut myself on another thorn and swore impatiently.

“Language.”

I turned to see Mr Harper—Emmett—watching me. He stood there, smiling, his hands tucked in the pockets of his ridiculous purple corduroys. He always reminded me of Colin Firth, though he didn’t look particularly like him. He was a similar age, I suppose, and had that same clipped accent and no-nonsense manner.

I tossed rose clippings into my wheelbarrow. “Sorry. It’s these roses. They’re full of thorns.”

“Ah, the roses. Yes. I thought perhaps you’d spotted Mr Daniels showing the Scrantons around.”

“Scrantons?”

“Mr and Mrs Scranton. I don’t know their first names, and I don’t care. Lottery winners, apparently.”

I scratched at my cheek with the edge of my thumbnail and then wiped the back of my hand across my brow. “You really want Whitecott Manor bought by lottery winners?” I asked. It wasn’t really any of my business, but I didn’t want to see the place sold on yet again because the Scrantons squandered all their money and ended up bankrupt within a year.

Emmett shrugged. “My dear, I don’t care who buys it as long as they cough up the money. You know I can’t afford to keep the place.”

I knew. Emmett was swimming in debt. His daughters—all five of them—had now moved out and he had to pay for everything on his own since his wife had left. Old Mrs Harper, Emmett’s mother, lived in the house with him, but she was in her eighties and, I think, had about as much money as he did. They wanted to move to a little cottage somewhere, with a nice granny annex and a garden that didn’t require much attention. Certainly not enough attention to take me with them.

I hadn’t said anything. Emmett came and put his hand to the small of my back. “Whoever ends up here would be mad to let you go. They can see how beautiful the gardens are.”

I nodded and stared into the rose bush.

“And you’re beautiful,” he added. “Who would not want you around?”

“You don’t need to flatter me.” I snipped at the bush and tossed branches into my wheelbarrow.

Emmett chuckled and moved away. “Cheer up, Alistair! You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. I’m off to take Mother her tea.”

I watched him stroll back to the house as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I’d miss him most of all. Well, maybe he wouldn’t move far. I’d probably still see him around—at the local fair or plant show perhaps. Besides, house sales took ages; I knew that from experience. If the Scrantons bought the place, it’d be a while yet before they moved in. And if they decided they didn’t want a gardener—if—then I had plenty of time to look for a new job. I could always audition for the X Factor and see where that got me—Emmett said I had a great singing voice, and I’d often dreamed of performing on stage.

I picked up the wheelbarrow and went to empty the clippings on the compost heap. I was just trundling back to the roses when I spotted the estate agent leading the Scrantons out into the gardens. I’d make myself scarce; I didn’t want to have to smile politely while they stood and gawked, so I downed tools and headed to the potting shed.

The cabbage seedlings were coming on nicely, I noticed, but my beetroots were depressingly small. I’d never had much luck with beetroot. They never grew much larger than rat testicles. I shrugged out of my overalls and tied the arms around my waist, singing an Elvis track softly beneath my breath.

I’d just reached for a watering can when an almighty bang made me jump out of my skin. The windows blew out the front of the manor, followed by tongues of fire licking the frames. I stared, heart frozen and mouth open. Then my heart started again, blood thumping in my ears. I threw open the shed door and ran.

“Emmett!”

I dashed towards the building, pulled open the door, and hurried down the hall to where the explosion had come from—the kitchen. Flames crackled in the room, red and angry and louder than I would’ve expected. Smoke and heat billowed outwards, and I coughed and covered my nose. My eyes watered.

“Emmett!” I yelled again.

Something crashed—maybe part of the ceiling falling—and I took a step to go after Emmett when somebody grabbed my arm and hauled me back.

“Mr Harper’s in there,” I shouted at the estate agent, fighting the man’s vice-like grip. “Emmett! Emmett!

The estate agent pulled me away, forcing me bodily back down the hall and outside. He was speaking—shouting, I think—but I yelled too, my voice hoarse, and I couldn’t hear him, couldn’t see, couldn’t… Emmett.

Sirens screamed in the distance, and then I saw the lights flashing through the trees that flanked the lane beside the manor. Fire engines arrived in a cacophony of noise and colour. The estate agent held me in a bear hug, and all I could do as firefighters jumped from their vehicles was stare at the flames roaring from the broken windows.

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Emma Jane has been writing stories since primary school, some of which still survive in notebooks in her dad’s attic, and wanted to be an author as soon as she realised it was a possible career choice and ‘Pony’ or ‘Ninja’ weren’t viable options.

Her first short story, Club Freak, about an anonymous woman’s determination to find her husband’s killer, was published by Park Publication’s Debut magazine in May 2009. Since then, she has gone on to write many short stories and poems for various small presses and has achieved an Honourable Mention in the 2011 Writers of the Future competition.

In 2014, writing as Emma Jane, she signed her first publishing contract for not one, but two novels. Otherworld formerly published by Torquere Press, and Shuttered by Dreamspinner Press.

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Silken by Isobel Starling: Audiobook Review and Excerpt

Matthew Fisher loved being a dancer, but his ten-year ballet career came to an abrupt end with a knee injury. He had to find a new way to make a living, and luckily, his sister was friends with Annabelle Ramsay-Aiken, only daughter of property magnate Sir James Aiken. She arranged an interview, and six months on the job training saw Matthew stepping out as a real estate agent for Aiken Luxury Lettings. Now, instead of stretching at the barre, Matthew spends his days inspecting the vacant London homes of their rich and famous clients.

Losing his dance career had left a huge hole in Matthew’s heart, and to fill it Matthew began a Tumblr blog dedicated to his fetish for wearing lingerie. He wanted to give his followers the impression he lived a charmed life, so decided to use A.L.L properties as locations for erotic photo shoots.

One of his online followers presses all of Matthew’s buttons, and a long distance, online Dom/sub relationship develops between them. But when the relationship suddenly moves from online fantasy to real life… can Matthew really submit?

N.B – This story contains graphic descriptions of gay sex, BDSM, and cross-dressing

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Audible

 

Matthew sauntered into the large open plan lounge of the corner apartment, overlooking West India Docks.  The tip-tap of his footfalls on polished marble echoed in the clinical, white-walled expanse of the room.  West India Quay was in the redeveloped dockland area of Canary Wharf, in the Borough of Tower Hamlets, East London.  The area was renowned worldwide as the new financial heart of London, populated by big business and luxury high-rise living.  The lower twelve floors of the block at West India Quay were a Marriot Hotel, and upper twenty-one floors were privately owned apartments.

Bright afternoon sunlight threw darts of blinding illumination across the rectangular lounge room.  To Matthew’s left, there was a seating area that would not look out of place on the set of Mad Men—a low-slung retro black leather Carluccio suite consisting of a couch and two imposing armchairs bisected by a dark teak coffee table.  Natural timber side dressers and occasional tables hugged the interior walls, adorned with modernist stone sculptures, empty vases, and an array of framed pictures charting the growth progression of a man who went from baby to child, to teen and then to his graduation in the images.  Matthew wondered who he was… he was kinda cute!  A series of ostentatiously large, colorful, Damien Hirst splatter canvases were displayed on the walls, and on the opposite side of the room, the dining area faced a view that, on a good day, would lead the eye down river to the majesty of Tower Bridge.

Matthew stepped through the sunlight shafts and shadows on the floor, unbuttoning the gray suit jacket that hugged his torso as he walked.  He pushed the jacket aside, placed his hands on narrow hips, and paused by the window.  He took in the view over the River Thames to the white bulbous tent of the O2 Arena on the opposite bank of the river.  The Thames, as per usual, looked like dirty dishwater yet the expanse of London from high-up in the Docklands skyscraper was surreal.

Matthew let out a long, tired sigh, and then absently stretched his arms above his head, enjoying the feeling of his tight muscles burning and relaxing.  He folded his body and gripped his ankles, stretching his spine.  Then, he straightened, and as naturally as taking a breath he moved into the fifth ballet position.  The bare expanse of marble floor was so seductive.  It invited him to leap and travel sinuously across it.  He turned in a graceful arc on the ball of his right foot, and then took a gazelle leap forward, grimacing as he landed feeling the sharp twinge in his left knee.  “FUUUCK” his loud, frustrated roar echoed in against the high ceiling.  As he bent over and rubbed at his knee he wished he’d worn his knee brace, he knew he was just deluding himself by not wearing it, but sometimes his knee felt okay, and it was good to feel ordinary again.

Matthew felt so betrayed by his body.  It had taken more than a year for him to come to terms with his decision to stop dancing but his heart still yearned, ached for it, and he supposed it would until he took his final breath.  But he couldn’t live on broken dreams with empty pockets.  He knew how lucky he was not to have to walk with the aid of a stick.

Matthew continued, his limp a little more pronounced until the twinge subsided.  He inspected the open plan lounge, noting that thankfully, none of the sculptures or wall artworks had been stolen or damaged since Mr. Martinez signed the tenancy agreement.  A.L.L had been experiencing a few problems with security and the cleaning contractor for this particular building.  It began with below standard domestic cleaning service and then escalated to a series of art thefts.  His boss believed the two things were linked, and so Sir James had found a new security contractor, but the cleaning contractor had a second and final chance.  The cleanliness of the apartment was therefore on top of Matthew’s checklist.

He strode into the bright, streamlined kitchen, removed his suit jacket, and then hung it over a high back stool at the breakfast bar.  He palmed his iphone and logged into the A.L.L. website app to begin his status report.  Matthew took a peek in the refrigerator in case there were any nasty surprises, but the scent of detergent hit his nose, and it was empty, not even a bottle of Evian in the chiller cabinet.  The cupboards contained only dried foods and a couple of cans of soup.  The dustbin was clean, and there was nothing unpleasant lurking in the waste disposal.  Tick.

Matthew headed down the hallway and perused the first double bedroom which had that untouched hotel room vibe about it.  He didn’t believe anyone had even slept there, so nothing to report.  He went to the next room on his list, the master bedroom.  Now, this room did smell like it had been lived in.  The subtle aroma of masculine musk and floral perfume in the air a week after the tenant had departed proved that the cleaner had not aired the bedroom as per instruction.  Further evidence that corners were cut was found in the en-suite bathroom.  Dried toothpaste in the sink, and hair in the shower plug hole.  Tut, tut, tut.  Matthew shook his head.  He would indeed have words with the domestic services manager about this oversight.

Matthew had never met the tenants, Mr. Martinez, or his wife, but a silver framed photograph stood beside the bed on a nightstand.  He picked the frame up and stared at a sun-kissed smiley image of a couple, the man standing behind the woman, his arms wrapped tightly around her slim waist.  Matthew’s brows rose in admiration; Jack Martinez was a silver fox.  He appeared to be in his late forties and had white, gray close-cropped hair and silver stubble clinging to the jaw of a disarmingly handsome face.  His skin had a golden tan, and his eyes were azure blue.  A wide wolfish grin spread across Matthew’s face and his brows arched salaciously.

“Well, well, Mrs. M, your husband is quite a catch”, he said out loud.  He stared at the gorgeous, perfect couple for a moment and wondered if the image was of generic models that came with the frame or if this delicious specimen of manhood, Jack Martinez was real.  He must be real; after all, they’d spoken once on the phone the week before when Martinez gave Matthew instructions on what needed to be done at the apartment when he departed.

Matthew wore a wicked smirk as he recalled the man’s whiskey worn American timbre.  It was the kind of voice that made his balls ache with lust.  God, he really did need to get laid, but that would not be happening anytime soon.  Matthew’s Dom had forbidden it.  That was one of the ground rules of their online D/s relationship.  Neither would take other lovers, and Matthew had given control of his orgasms to his Dom.  He would not come unless Austin82 permitted it, and then the man wanted to see the evidence.  Luckily, the message Matthew had received on entering the apartment had been from his Dom, giving him permission to come that day so he would be getting some relief.  The voice and photograph of Jack Martinez meshed together in his mind, making one hell of an alluring image.  Matthew placed the frame back onto the nightstand.  He knew he would put that image to good use later.

Matthew turned to study the bedroom, which had a classy, oriental infused interior design with accents of cream, black, and silver.  He enjoyed fantasizing about the lives of his clients.  On opening the doors of the slide-robes, he saw a small selection of garments.  The lack of clothing was not unusual as this was not a permanent residence by any means.  There were business and casual clothes for him and stylish feminine clothing for her.  Veronica Martinez was slim, her choices were expensive and timelessly classy, as were Jack’s, just as Matthew had expected for the couple in the photograph.

A seamless pane of floor to ceiling, heat reflective glass acted as the outer wall of the room, displaying stunning bird’s eye views of the British capital.  A king–sized bed overloaded with a scatter of designer cushions atop a black silk coverlet dominated the space.  To Matthew’s right, a door led to the en-suite, and then, to the left, his eyes fell on the large ebony, lacquer work, chinoiserie style dresser that sat opposite the bed.  He ran his finger along the top to check that the cleaner had at least dusted and then placed his phone on the surface.  Matthew had chosen to inspect this particular apartment because it was the only one on his list that day where the clients were a couple.  He hoped he was not wrong about Veronica Martinez.  With a mischievous glint in his eye and a sudden flush of covert guilt, Matthew gave a testing tug on the shiny brass ring handles of the top drawer.  It silently slid open.  He peeped inside, and his breath caught as he exclaimed a drawn out “Ohhh.”  Matthew’s heart swelled.  He saw, to his delight a drawer filled with neatly arranged lingerie.

“All that silk, satin and lace.”  He murmured dreamily to himself.  Matthew licked his lips, and his pupils dilated with the excitement of seeing such a wonderful collection of feminine underwear.  His fingers brushed over the lingerie.  It was all purchased from the most expensive designer labels, Fox and Rose, Agent Provocateur, Bourdelle, and Myla.  Matthew was at once head-over-heels in love with what he saw.  The silk and Chantilly lace garments were red, black, dusky pink, emerald green, purple, and turquoise—all of his favorite colors.  It was like they had been chosen just for him, and not for Veronica Martinez.  He picked up a pair of red lacy French knickers and let the fabric fall through his fingers.  He moaned out loud, and his dick throbbed.  His fingers smoothed over the floral lace design and as he stretched it over the back of his hand, he marveled at the beauty of it.  Matthew bought the garment to his cheek and rubbed the knickers against his clean-shaven skin.  It was so sensual.  The feeling of the soft fabric against his flesh made his suit trousers suddenly feel… restrictive.

Matthew’s interest in lingerie began when he was training in Russia.  He’d loved wearing tights since he was a child, and from the moment he started training in classical ballet he was drawn to being around the girls, with all the froufrou, netting, ribbons, and figure-hugging Lycra.  His girlfriends would let him sneak into their dressing room to chat.  They had no idea that he had an alternative agenda for being there—which was to savor the slow sensual drag and stretch of gossamer on shapely calves and thighs as the dancers pulled stockings over taut flesh.  He didn’t want to fuck any of them, oh no, he’d known from his teens he was all for the boys and got pleasure of a different kind from watching them.  But watching the female dancers dress was a near religious experience.  It was the ritual of dressing, the look of the fabric, the way it enhanced the line and shape of their limbs, and way it stretched and clung to the form that he found so very erotic.  He’d known then he’d wanted that silken fabric against his own skin.

Matthew picked up another pair of emerald green silk panties.  He sniffed the panties, but they smelled of nothing like they had never been worn and never been washed with household detergent.  As he inspected the collection, he discovered that it was, in fact, all brand new, and nothing had been worn.  He found that odd.  Veronica Martinez must be mad to have abandoned this treasure trove of pretties, unworn, unloved.  Whoever she was, Matthew found her lack of respect for the garments a little disappointing, but no matter.  He was in a naughty, dirty mood, he was alone, and there were so many pairs of panties to choose from.

I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect with this one. I had not read anything else by Isobel Starling, so her writing was new to me, and this was a fun surprise!

This novella was a little bit of everything wrapped into one story, and some of those bits were things I hadn’t read in any other book previously.

First, I absolutely LOVED one portion of the story for its realism. I won’t say what the mistake was, but the Dom in this story made a mistake, a big one, and with it, his sub didn’t even use a safeword, he literally just left. And the Dom not only admitted his mistake, but apologized, and said he wasn’t perfect. That was so refreshing to read! How often in BDSM romance novels is the Dom portrayed as someone who doesn’t make mistakes, doesn’t apologize, etc. This was such a great thing to read, and I actually found myself cheering a little…even while I was sad that the MC’s went through it.

Second, an online D/s relationship, although it may be something that is done quite often, it certainly isn’t something I had ever read about, and I found it fascinating. It allowed these two MC’s to explore their own interests, as they learned from and with each other. Again, so refreshing to read, as it was outside of the box of a “normal” BDSM story.

I loved Matthew. I loved that he owned his kinks, and enjoyed every second of it. It made him sexy and allowed the reader to just enjoy him as a person, as well as a sub.

Meanwhile, sexy silver fox Jack, Matthew’s Dom, knew what he wanted, and was confident enough to go after it. Even when he made his mistake, he owned up to it, and did what he could to repair the damage. And oh my, was that a hot scene later. Whew!

My heart just blew up at the end, Jack’s assistance to Matthew was so heartfelt and loving, and I wanted to just stay with these two. I would love to see more of these two sometime. I feel like there is much more to tell about these two…hint hint…

Gomez Pugh’s narration was well done. I really love it when narrators use accents when they are reading a story. It draws me in so much more, and he did a fantastic job with both his American and British accents. Well done!

Story: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

Narration: 4.5 pieces of eye candy

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

Never Let You Go by Andrew Grey: Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Friends since they met in school, Ashton and Brighton soon become much more. Ash and his aunt are Brighton’s haven away from his mess of a family, and when Ash enlists in the Army, Brighton learns to endure his long absences and eagerly awaits his return from missions.

Until one day Ash doesn’t come back, and Brighton thinks his greatest fear has come true.

Months pass and Brighton grieves for Ash, not knowing that a terrible misunderstanding sent Ash running, unable to cope when he thought Brighton had betrayed him. Even after an emotional reunion, their relationship isn’t the same—Brighton is now responsible for his young niece, and he’s having a hard time rediscovering the trust he once had in Ash. Ash must still tend to his mental health, but before he can, he’ll have to deal with a past secret that puts all their lives at risk. With so many forces determined to tear them apart, can Brighton and Ash hold on to each other and never let go?

Title: Never Let You Go
Series: Forever Yours: Book Two
Author: Andrew Grey
Release Date: September 8, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 200

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Usually when I start a story, I begin with the characters, a few times it’s the setting or a particular situation.  Never Let You Go started with the prologue.  I had a clear vision for how this story was going to start.  That vision of Ash seeing Brighton and then turning to walk away when he jumps to a conclusion, is what drove the entire idea.  That in turn helped me develop Ash and Brighton.  It told me a great deal about Ash, his history, and just how broken he felt at that moment.   Brighton and the hurt and pain he carried with him came into clear focus as well.  That isn’t how I usually do things, but for this story I think it worked very well.  Though I will confess that I’m not someone to let go of a story idea no matter where it comes from.  Inspiration can be both fleeting and amazing at the same time.   I like to think that the important thing about inspiration is to wrangle it once it strokes and not let go.  I’m certainly glad I didn’t let go of that initial vision for Never Let You Go.

“You know, you need to get out once in a while,” Raymond said as he came out of his bedroom. “Do you realize it’s been eighteen months since they told you about Ash? He’s gone and isn’t coming back, and you need to find someone to share your life.” He leaned closer. “And don’t say that’s what you have me and Violet for. You need someone to love and love you in return.”

“I had that once, and I don’t know if I can ever have that again.” Brighton knew what it felt like to have someone who was the other half of him. “Besides, Violet is still settling in and I need to concentrate on her. Allie asked me to take care of Violet if anything ever happened to her, and I intend to do the very best that I can.” He knew the answer was a cop-out of sorts and that he was hiding behind his niece, but he wasn’t ready to date yet. “So you go on out and have a good time.” He did a double take on Raymond’s outfit. He wore a pair of jeans that had to be two sizes too small and a shirt that showed off his arms. “Where are you going?”

“To Rose’s for coffee.”

“Don’t you think you’re a little overdressed… or underdressed, in this case? God, you don’t want to cut off circulation to your bits. And this is Biglerville.”

“The guy I’m dating is from LA. His name is Ethan, and he’s Justin Hawthorne’s assistant. So he’s used to being around people who are really cool and interesting and….” Raymond shifted his gaze to the floor.

“You are not allowed to be unsure of yourself. Go back in there and change. Let this Ethan see who you really are and he’s sure to like you. And if he doesn’t, I’ll show up at his house and kick his ass.” Brighton pulled Raymond into his arms. “Now go ahead and change. Just be yourself.”

With a smile, Raymond went back into his room while Brighton returned to making dinner.

“Violet, please turn that down a little.”

She lowered the volume, and Brighton cut up some lettuce to make them each a small salad. He was really blessed that Violet loved vegetables, though if he asked her what she wanted to eat she’d tell him bacon. That girl would eat bacon for each and every meal if he let her. He opened the door to the refrigerator and pulled out some chicken he’d already cooked and began cutting it into small pieces, along with a little celery and some herbs, as well as chopped nuts.

“Is this better?” Raymond asked, and Brighton nodded.

“You look great. The slacks are nicer than the tight jeans, and I like that shirt. The green is great on you.” Brighton watched as Raymond pulled on his shoes and got ready to go. “Take an umbrella. You’re going to need it.”

Raymond looked out the front window, groaning as the rain lashed the glass.

Lightning flashed and thunder rumbled, sending Violet off the sofa and into his arms. He set aside what he was doing, lifted her up, and took her back to the sofa. “It’s just thunder. There’s nothing to be afraid of.” He sat down with Violet on his lap and turned to Raymond. “Just wait a little while. This isn’t going to last long. When are you supposed to be there?”

Raymond checked his phone. “Fifteen minutes.” He shoved it back in his pocket. “The one time I’m ready early and I’m stuck waiting until the storm lets up.”

Brighton patted Violet’s knee. “Why don’t you go get the really big umbrella for Uncle Raymond? That way he won’t get wet.” He smiled as Violet hurried to the closet and brought over the black-and-white umbrella. She jumped when the thunder rolled again, but handed it to Raymond and then sat next to Brighton once more. “Do you think you can sit here while I finish making you something to eat?” He tweaked her nose, and she nodded slowly.

The storm was already moving on and the thunder sounded less sharp. Raymond took the umbrella and headed for the door to the stairs. “I’ll see you later.” He waved, and Violet waved back. Raymond closed the door behind him, and Brighton stood to return to the kitchen.

Violet laughed as one of the characters on her show did something funny. He adored that sound. She’d been with him for six months now. His sister had developed cancer, and by the time they diagnosed it, she was beyond help and lasted only a few more weeks. The strain she’d had was nasty and had left none of her untouched. At the end she’d been little more than skin and bones. One of the hardest things Brighton had ever had to do was take Violet home with him as she cried for her mother while he was barely able to hold himself together. Thank God Raymond had come to stay with him the year before.

Just like when Ash walked out of his life for the last time to take his assignment. Ash had promised it would be his last one that his time was up after that. It all turned out to be true, though not in the way either of them had hoped at the time.

Andrew grew up in western Michigan with a father who loved to tell stories and a mother who loved to read them. Since then he has lived throughout the country and traveled throughout the world. He has a master’s degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and works in information systems for a large corporation.

Andrew’s hobbies include collecting antiques, gardening, and leaving his dirty dishes anywhere but in the sink (particularly when writing)  He considers himself blessed with an accepting family, fantastic friends, and the world’s most supportive and loving partner. Andrew currently lives in beautiful, historic Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

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Stalking Buffalo Bill by j. leigh bailey: Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Stalking Buffalo Bill—A Shifter U Tale

A smitten coyote isn’t the only one stalking Buffalo Bill.

A buffalo walks into a cafe. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but for coyote shifter Donnie Granger, it’s the beginning of an obsession. Donnie is a little hyperactive and a lot distractible, except when it comes to William. He finally works up the nerve to approach William but is interrupted by a couple of violent humans.

While William—don’t call me Bill—is currently a professor, he once worked undercover against an international weapons-trafficking ring. Before he can settle into obscurity, he must find out who leaked his location and eliminate the thugs. He tries keeping his distance to protect Donnie, but the wily coyote won’t stay away.

It’ll take both Donnie’s skills as a stalker—er, hunter—and William’s super-spy expertise to neutralize the threat so they can discover if an excitable coyote and a placid-until-pissed buffalo have a future together.

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Before I get started, I wanted to say a big “thank you” to Two Chicks Obsessed for  letting me stop by today and celebrate the release of STALKING BUFFALO BILL. I had so much fun writing this book, and I’m thrilled to be a part of Dreamspinner Press’s new line, Dreamspun Beyond.

Why Google (or any search engine) Needs an “I’m an Author!” Flag

I don’t have a clue as to how authors in the past ever got anything written without Google and Wikipedia. I love research—that real, buried in the library under stacks of resource books research—but there are times when I’m writing that I need to confirm a detail or verify that what I want to happen actually can happen. In these instances, Google comes to the rescue. But if anyone was looking at my search history, I’d probably come off as deranged, odd, or criminal, depending on the book. So I’ve decided to share a few of my more random search terms.

  1. Writing about shifters means researching really important animal-related factoids like: Which is faster, a buffalo or a coyote? This doesn’t sound like something a normal person needs to know. But when you are writing a chase scene in which a buffalo is chasing a coyote, this is critical. The answer, in case you’re interested, is that both the coyote and the buffalo top out at about 40 miles an hour (the buffalo gets up to 35-40 mph, and the coyote can hit 43 mph).

 

  1. Writing shifters has also prompted this gem: Do birds smell? Of course, then I had to specify the olfactory sense, not “do birds stink?” This then also led into a rabbit’s warren of searches because the answer to “Do birds smell?” depends on which birds.

 

  1. When I was writing my YA action/adventure novel DO-GOODER, a couple of my searches probably landed me on a government watch list. Things like How do you make and transport Sarin Gas? and Weapons trafficking routes through Africa might make international law enforcement folks take another look.

 

  1. Some of my searches have yielded horrifying results. DO NOT look up Pit Viper Snake Bites unless you want to see gross, beyond-painful-looking, sometimes rotting and infected bites, including injuries that show bone and tissue and pus.

 

  1. The best—the absolute best!—searches yield eye candy. When I did a search for Hot men with beards, I found William. It was almost a shame that I found him right away. I mean, searching through thousands of images of hot men wouldn’t be the worst way to spend my time… The model that was used for the cover of Stalking Buffalo Bill, by the way, is 100% how I pictured William while writing the novel. 100%

 

I know there are authors who’s search terms might be crazier (or even more likely to land them on a watch list) than mine. Anyone writing romantic suspense or action/adventure novels probably has way more fascinating stories to tell, for example. For the project I’m working on now, I’m going to have to do some digging into black-market baby adoptions. Not quite as fluffy as “Do birds smell?” but I’ll learn something new. 🙂

 

**GIVEAWAY** I’ll be giving away a signed copy of my gay YA action/adventure novel DO-GOODER (US only) or a digital copy of one of the contemporary New Adult m/m romance titles in my Letting Go series (open internationally) to a random commenter who tells me: What is the strangest thing you’ve ever had to look up on the internet?

 

By the time William’s bulky form stood in the entrance of the closet, I was human and 100 percent naked, though I didn’t have time to worry about it. There was a creep out there after my manly man.

“Not real quick with the nonverbals, are you?” I propped my hands on my hips.

He copied the gesture. I had to admit, his version was much more intimidating. And not just because he was actually wearing clothes. “You want to tell me what that was all about?”

I rolled my eyes. “Obviously I needed to get you alone.”

His eyes trailed down my body, from the top of my sandy-brown hair to the tips of my toes. Heat prickled along every inch his eyes touched. Flustered, I snapped, “Not for that.”

“Too bad.”

Did he really—no, now wasn’t the time for that.

“Look, a couple of freaks are looking for you. They had your picture and everything.”

The slight smirk he wore slipped off his face. “What?”

“Yeah, these guys—who gave me chills, by the way—stopped into the café and wanted to know if we’d seen you. They were evil. I mean, to the core. And they definitely weren’t from around here.”

He reached out and gripped my shoulder. “What did they look like?”

“Like a couple of thugs in an amateur production of Oklahoma.”

At his blank look, I gave him a more specific description of the weirdos. Then I told him what I’d seen. “So, Mafia Hit Man is out there right now, looking for you. And you stood there, a hulking target, just begging to be caught.”

“Sorry, I don’t speak coyote.”

j.leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. For upcoming releases and appearances information, sign up for her newsletter at https://t.co/FfL9gFVJLQ.

 

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Leaning into Always by Lane Hayes: Release Day Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleLeaning Into Always

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #1, Part 2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Self Pub

Release Date: September 5

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 30k

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Established Couple, San Fran, Beach, Surfer, Geek, Opposites Attract, Friends to lovers

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Life is good for Eric Schuster. He owns a highly successful tech company, has a great group of buddies, and he’s about to marry the man of his dreams. Eric is pleasantly surprised to find the transition from friends to lovers has been easier than he thought. However, after running into an overly friendly ex-boyfriend on an impromptu trip to their shared hometown, Eric realizes things are about to get complicated.

Zane Richards is a quintessential California surfer dude turned professional sailor. His laid-back approach has helped him navigate difficult times in his life. Eric may not share his easy-going mindset but Zane knows without a doubt Eric is the one. However, carving a future together may require confronting a piece of the past Zane thought he’d left far behind. Both men will have to decide if they’re willing to risk what they know for a chance to lean into always.

“Hmm. I want to drop this, but…I have one last question. What did you mean about ‘being from here?’ I know San Francisco is home now but this is a nice place too. I always thought it would be kind of cool to move back someday so I could—”

“No. No way. Never,” I replied emphatically.

I tried and failed again to make a getaway. Zane pounced on me and held me down, snaking his arm across my chest to keep me next to him.

“O-kay…where’s this coming from?”

“I can’t explain it. You wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

“It sounds stupid.” I met his patient gaze, hoping he’d cut me some slack, but he didn’t budge and I had a feeling he wouldn’t until I spit it out. “Fine. I was teased pretty mercilessly for being a geek from kindergarten through high school. I never fit in. I wasn’t blond, athletic, or particularly charming. I was smart. Smarter than I appear to be now,” I huffed.

“Who bullied you? I’m gonna kick some ass. No one messes with my man,” he said, nuzzling my neck.

I chuckled, running my fingers along his spine. “Thanks. I told you it sounded lame. I’m a perfectly well-adjusted adult when I’m not here. And I’m actually pretty good when I come for quick family visits, but this feels different. It feels like I’m being thrown back in time and forced to hang out with the cool kids. Today was a great example. I made a fool of myself out there and I made you mad. Yeah, I was jealous but that was only part of it. I also wanted to prove I’d grown up a little and that I wasn’t the same sunscreen-caked dork who’d sit under an umbrella and read when he went to the beach anymore. I guess I still am.”

“You seem to be forgetting one major detail, Er.”

I traced the laugh-lines at the corner of his eyes and pushed his hair from his forehead. “What is it?”

“I like you just the way you are. I don’t expect you to change and develop a sudden passion for things I enjoy doing. Just be you. And if that means you’d rather finish a chapter lounging in the sand than jump in the water, that’s okay by me.”

“Thank you.”

“Don’t thank me. It comes with the territory. I wouldn’t want to spend the rest of my life with you if I didn’t love all your weird habits,” he teased, pulling us both to sit up.

“Weird? Me? I bet you can’t name three weird things about me,” I declared as I sauntered toward the bathroom.

“I bet I can name ten. I’ll give you my list at breakfast. Jump in the shower while I call housekeeping and ask them to change our sheets.”

I stopped in the doorway and frowned. “Just tell them I spilled water on them or something.”

“Why lie? I’m going to tell them my boyfriend got jizz on my side of the bed and…”

I shook my head mournfully and turned on the shower to drown out his silly speech about being stuck with a messy lover and crusty sheets. I chuckled at his ‘put upon’ tone and called for him to join me before stepping under the spray. I stopped abruptly and backed up to look at my reflection. My cheeks were flushed, my eyes were bright, and my smile spanned my entire face. I was incredibly happy and if I said so myself, it looked good on me.


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Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an almost empty nest.

Books by Lane Hayes:

Better Than Good, Better Than Chance, Better Than Friends, Better Than Safe, The Right Words, The Wrong Man, The Right Time, Leaning Into Love and Leaning Into the Fall, A Kind Of Truth, A Kind of Romance, A Kind of Honesty, A Kind of Home AND A Way with Words

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The Alpha Heir by Victoria Sue: Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Man and wolf. Sworn enemies in the battle for Askara. Can hate and betrayal ever lead to love?

Caleb Harken has spent six years wrongfully imprisoned for his father’s treachery. Tortured and reviled by the very wolf pack he should have been leading as Alpha, he is not surprised to learn he’s finally to meet his death at the hands of the human rebel leader, Taegan Callan.

Taegan gave up his dreams of a life-mate and a family after seeing too many humans butchered at the hands of the wolves—even if Caleb doesn’t seem to be the bloodthirsty savage he expects, and even if he starts to long for a different kind of future with the wolf.

Can Caleb become the Alpha he was always meant to be and lead his pack, or will he finally realize that winning his freedom means nothing when he has already lost his heart?

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Caleb sat hunched over on a fallen log just by the track that led down to the barn they kept the horses in. Taegan could practically feel the misery in the hunched shoulders, the bowed head, the way he favored his left arm even though he didn’t have it in the sling anymore. His arms were bare. “Caleb?” he called out quietly, not wanting to startle him, but Caleb never moved even though Taegan knew he would have heard him.

He crossed in front of the log and sat down, putting both mugs on the ground and passing him the poncho. “It’s cold out here.” For a second, he didn’t think Caleb was going to take it, but lifting his head he reached out cautiously. Instead of passing it to him, Taegan bunched it up and carefully went to ease it down over Caleb’s head. Caleb recoiled sharply, and Taegan stilled his hands. “Let me help,” he said. “You’ll get cold.”

Caleb lifted his head, the brown eyes suddenly so dark. “And you care, why?”

“I don’t know,” he said wretchedly, then shook his head, the gesture a denial, as Caleb widened his eyes in response. He hadn’t meant to admit that.

“I think it better if I sleep in a different cave until you decide what to do with me,” Caleb muttered.

“No—” he bit off. Caleb was hunched inwards. He was incredible. Giving. He soothed so many bitter corners in Taegan’s soul. He wanted to keep him, but it was impossible. Silas had once told him that many years ago, wolves fell in love at first sight. But Taegan was a human and he didn’t understand this odd compulsion to be with someone he had known barely two weeks. Maybe it was just a good healthy dose of lust.

“I’m not going to apologize for Ralph and Adams. The guards,” Taegan added, then felt ridiculous because of course Caleb would know who he meant. “They were doing their job.”

Caleb didn’t reply. Didn’t move.

“But I was wrong.”

Caleb’s head came up quickly. The surprise written all over his face.

“You didn’t deserve that assumption from me, and I apologize.”

Caleb ducked his head.

Taegan passed him one of the mugs of tea and unwrapped the bread. “My mom says you haven’t eaten.”

“I’m not hungry,” came the whisper.

Taegan put his untouched tea back on the ground. He reached out slowly, hooking his finger under Caleb’s chin and lifting it, immediately drowning in the stormy brown eyes, dark and brittle with misery. He had done that, him. He leaned forward and Caleb leaned back, twisting his head away. The rejection stung in his gut.

“Please eat,” Taegan said, dropping his hand. Caleb had been doing so well and the last thing he needed was Taegan upsetting that.

But Caleb didn’t move, didn’t look up. “What are you going to do with me?”

He had treated Caleb abominably. Taegan paused and for the first time in two years did something that wouldn’t help their cause, but was the right thing to do. “You are free to go. Now. If you want to walk down that hillside, I won’t stop you.”

Caleb’s head shot up. “You’d let me go?”

Taegan swallowed the husky denial. “I wish with everything I am that you are not the Alpha heir and I am not the rebel leader.” He let that sink in. Caleb’s eyes still fixed on his. “Especially after last week.”

Caleb’s eyes dipped, and Taegan reached out and touched his arm. “It should still be wrapped. It’s very likely broken.”

“I-it doesn’t hurt.” Caleb’s gaze lifted and Taegan stared. He was drowning in the golden depths. He’d thought Caleb’s eyes were brown, but the center simmered with chocolate and grew lighter outward until the flecks of amber almost turned them copper. Long golden brown lashes framed them, and Taegan took small comfort that the dark shadows under them had gone.

“You don’t eat enough.” He said almost brusquely to cover what he wanted to say. What he wanted to do. “Please eat something.” The words were quiet but no less pleading.

Caleb stared at the offered bread. He took a breath. “I think I forgot how. If I wasn’t hungry it was one less pain.”

“For me.” Taegan knew he had no right to use those words. Caleb owed him nothing.

Caleb took the thickly buttered bread and inhaled. “It smells wonderful.”

Taegan nudged him gently. “It tastes even better.” Caleb took a bite and Taegan beamed. Such a small victory.

“When will you plan to get the kids?” Caleb asked after swallowing. He sipped his tea and took another bite.

“I have two team leaders that get back from Solonara tomorrow. I haven’t the numbers without them.” Caleb chewed and seemed to consider what Taegan said. “It would help if we had any idea what time of day this is planned for.”

“Noon,” Caleb said immediately.

“Of course,” Taegan agreed instantly. It was the time Aylin started to cover Sorin. He should have known. How was it possible they were talking when everything in him wanted Caleb’s lips for another purpose?

Caleb finished the bread. He watched Taegan intently as if waiting for something.

“I owe you another apology also.” He would have been blind to miss the flash of pain that darkened the brown pupils nearly to black or the hiss as his words connected. Caleb misunderstood. He didn’t regret one second of it and wasn’t apologizing for it. “I loved every second of the time I spent with you. How I found the strength to leave my bed that morning is beyond me.”

Caleb’s slow, heart-stopping smile was worth every word of his confession. “So why did you leave me?”

“Because I am taking advantage.”

“Because I can’t stay,” Caleb supplied flatly, answering his own question.

“So, will you leave?” Taegan didn’t want the answer. Should he mention Silas’s crazy bonding theory? He couldn’t let Caleb go if it would hurt him, but he couldn’t take back his offer either.

“I know I can’t stay forever, but I won’t leave until Neal and Rayne are safe. I still think I should be the diversion you need.”

Caleb was touching. While they had talked he had crept closer, but it wasn’t charged with the same emotion as the last time. This wasn’t sexual but all about warmth, compassion, and comfort. He knew Taegan was having difficulty retelling some of his worst moments, and he wanted to support him. It would be so good to have someone by his side, but Taegan had lost that right a long time ago. Caleb’s eyes softened as he listened. It seemed to come as easy to him as breathing, but Taegan knew it was dangerous. Caleb was dangerous because for the first time Taegan wasn’t thinking about his responsibilities to other people.

He was thinking of himself.

“Taegan?” It was Cy. “We have an injured messenger bird. I think you need to come. We should have got the message yesterday but it has a damaged wing.”

Caleb stood and took Taegan’s empty mug. “I have a story to read.” He smiled and Taegan watched him go.

The wolf that eventually won his heart would be a very lucky man.

Victoria Sue:

Wrote her first book on a dare from her hubby three years ago. Loves writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best, and especially with either a paranormal or a historical twist. Had a try at writing contemporary but failed spectacularly when it grew four legs and a tail.

Is an English northern lass but is currently serving twenty to life in Florida – unfortunately, she spends more time chained at her computer than on a beach.

Loves to hear from her readers and can be found most days lurking on facebook.

www.victoriasue.com

@vickysuewrites

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Victoria Sue is giving away a free ebook from her backlist to one commenter to this blog post. Tell us what appeals to you most about The Alpha Heir.

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

Stalking Buffalo Bill by j. leigh bailey: Release Day Review and Giveaway

A smitten coyote isn’t the only one stalking Buffalo Bill.

A buffalo walks into a cafe. Sounds like the start of a bad joke, but for coyote shifter Donnie Granger, it’s the beginning of an obsession. Donnie is a little hyperactive and a lot distractible, except when it comes to William. He finally works up the nerve to approach William but is interrupted by a couple of violent humans.

While William—don’t call me Bill—is currently a professor, he once worked undercover against an international weapons-trafficking ring. Before he can settle into obscurity, he must find out who leaked his location and eliminate the thugs. He tries keeping his distance to protect Donnie, but the wily coyote won’t stay away.

It’ll take both Donnie’s skills as a stalker—er, hunter—and William’s super-spy expertise to neutralize the threat so they can discover if an excitable coyote and a placid-until-pissed buffalo have a future together.

Title: Stalking Buffalo Bill
Series: Shifter U
Author: j. leigh bailey
Release Date: September 1, 2017
Category: Paranormal: Werewolves/Shifters, Mystery/Suspense, Dreamspun Beyond
Pages: 220

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This new Dreamspinner Press line, Dreamspun Beyond, would not normally be my cup of tea. I don’t read much paranormal, shifters or things that run contrary to normal contemporary romance. However, for some reason this series has pulled me in a few times already. Stalking Buffalo Bill is the second book in this line that I have read, and I really enjoyed it!

I loved that the author took the actual physical characteristics of the animals that the MC’s shifted into and incorporated them into their personalities. Donnie was very excitable, quick, loyal, and rather tenacious when it came to what he felt was important. Meanwhile William, a buffalo, more stoic-as I would imagine a buffalo to be, never having seen one-a college professor, and a man who didn’t seem to really get ruffled much, and wanted to protect Donnie by not allowing him anywhere near the problems that he was dealing with.

Donnie made me laugh…he found his mate, and like a wily coyote, would not let him out of his sight. He knew what he wanted, didn’t care that his family didn’t approve of his life choices, and held on tight to his choices. I highlighted so many of Donnie’s thoughts:

“I was protecting my mate from those who would do him harm. It was all very…alpha. How cool was that? Holy shit. Did I just think mate?”

“I turned away from the monitors and realized–again–that I was naked. ‘Really, William, could you bring my clothes in? I’m sure my arguments will be much more valid if my junk isn’t hanging out.”

“Then he smiled, which made my fingers go number, so I dropped my fork. ‘Cause I was smooth like that.”

This book was a fun read from beginning to end for me. It never had me looking to see how far I was in the book, and when it would end. I just kept reading and enjoying. And that is exactly how you want to be reading a book! I’m looking forward to more books in this new line from DSP, and if j. leigh bailey were to write another installment in this world, well, I would be quite happy to read it. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy


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Remember When by SJD Peterson: Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway

Life is simple and hopeful in youth. Luke and Nelson are best friends exploring their budding sexuality. They have big plans for the future, and nothing can stand in their way or tear them apart—except a family move that puts a continent between them.

Ten years later Luke and Nelson meet again, but nothing is simple anymore. As strong as the attraction remains, obligations and expectations come between them as Luke is forced to honor family responsibilities over the desires of his heart.

Impossibly fate sees fit to offer them a last opportunity to see what might have been. Will the third time be the charm, or is trust so badly broken it is impossible to repair? Can they recapture the innocent love they once knew and make up for all the wasted years? In a love story that spans half a lifetime, two friends destined for each other will have to fight hard for their happily ever after.

Title: Remember When
Author: SJD Peterson
Release Date: August 28, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 210

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Exclusive Excerpt:

Had he lost his goddamn mind? Luke was a friend he hadn’t seen in ten years, not a potential date. He shook his head at his stupidity. Just two old friends having dinner to catch up on old times. It didn’t matter that Luke was still the hottest guy Nelson had ever laid eyes on. Maybe Luke had become a jerk. Perhaps they no longer had anything in common. Hell, just because they rubbed off on each other a couple times, shared a few blowjobs, it didn’t make Luke gay. A lot of adolescents experimented. It didn’t mean anything. Besides, Luke talked about a steady girlfriend. “So put your dick and your hope away,” Nelson warned himself.

The jeans weren’t the easiest to get into with wet skin, but he managed. Somehow he was able to dress, fix his brown mousy curls—sort of—spray on a little cologne, and was downstairs in the allotted time. He was presentable, but sure, he looked frazzled. Of course, when he spotted Luke leaning against a pillar, Luke appeared calm and relaxed and, man, oh man, did he look presentable. He was wearing tight jeans and a baby-blue dress shirt the same color as his eyes that accentuated his deep tan. He wore his hair styled back, the longish strands tucked behind his ears, and from this distance, it looked dry, unlike Nelson’s wet mop.

“Just dinner with an old friend,” he mumbled. He ran his fingers through his hair one more time and took a deep breath.

His hands were shaking so badly he shoved them into the pockets of his jeans to hide his nervousness. With as much confidence as he could muster, he strolled over to Luke.

Luke smiled when he spotted Nelson. “Hey.”

“Hey.” Oh, that was original.

“The receptionist said they have excellent food in the Torch Light, but if you’d rather get bar food, we can hang out in the lounge.”

“Might be hard to talk in the bar,” Nelson pointed out.

“True. Torch Light it is. We can always head to the bar later.”

Nelson walked along with Luke, doing a little mental math. He had to meet his client at seven in the morning and still had to go over the notes his boss had sent him. He was young. As long as he got back to his room by, say… two… three at the latest, he’d be good.

The restaurant was high-end. White linen tablecloths, fine china, cut-crystal wineglasses. The whole nine yards of way too fancy for me to be here. The other patrons wore slacks, dinner coats, and dresses. Nelson was way underdressed, as was apparent from the disapproving looks he was getting. However, since Luke was dressed casually as well, it did make Nelson feel marginally better. He pointed out the dress code as soon as they were sitting and the host had walked away.

Luke waved a dismissive hand. “Like I care. My money spends just as easily as theirs.”

Nelson shook out his napkin and laid it in his lap. “I’d have thought, you being from Malibu and all, you’d adhere to etiquette. You know, wear nothing but the finest everywhere you went.”

“This is my finest. Best pair of blue jeans, that is,” he chuckled. Luke then tilted his head. “Does it really bother you? We can go somewhere else if you prefer.”

“Nah, I’m good. Hell, I don’t even own the finest pair of anything.”

“My kind of guy,” Luke said. He flashed that stunning dimpled smile before hiding it behind his menu.

SJD Peterson, better known as Jo, hails from Michigan. Not the best place to live for someone who hates the cold and snow. When not reading or writing, Jo can be found close to the heater checking out NHL stats and watching the Red Wings kick a little butt. Can’t cook, misses the clothes hamper nine out of ten tries, but is handy with power tools.

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Men of London by Susan Mac Nicol: Flashback Blog Tour with Giveaway

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With the release of Survival Game, book #9 in Susan Mac Nicol’s contemporary MM Romance Men of London series, fast approaching, Embrace the Rainbow Book Promotions and the supporting bloggers would like to take you on a flashback tour through the Men of London series so far . . . . . . . . .

Men of London Book One **LOVE YOU SENSELESS**

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One of London’s up-and-coming chefs, Eddie Tripp has just the right recipe to drive tragedy from the mind of Gideon Kent—and leave him senselesswith desire.

THE MEN OF LONDON
From Soho to Norwich, there’s no escaping love.

A TASTE OF FOREVER
An award-winning chef with his own restaurant and an inexhaustible passion, Gideon Kent once had everything. Then came tragedy. It stole more than Gideon’s home. He hasn’t cooked since.

Until Eddie Tripp. Fun-loving and vivacious, the Norfolk redhead’s a real up-and-comer in Gideon’s kitchen—and other places. Slim where Gideon’s broad, easy-going where Gideon is growly, he and Gideon seem polar opposites, and yet Eddie conjures flavors that would tempt anyone with a taste for perfection. The sauce of love is already simmering, and this pair is about to dine on the most delicious dish they’ve ever prepared. Because Eddie’s been Gideon’s missing ingredient all along.

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Gideon tapped the pen on the desk in nervousness at having Eddie so close. Not for the first time he wished he could smell him, see if the man’s scent was sweat or cologne, or soap or sweet-scented sugar from the creations he made.

“She did, did she? She can be a really interfering biddy. And how many times have I told you to call me Gideon? Mr. Kent was my dad. And I don’t see him here.”

He bit his lip as his snark returned in Eddie’s presence. It was as if his mouth had no other way to react when Eddie was near.

Eddie seemed to be suppressing a smile. “It’s a little difficult to be on first-name terms with a man who’s always growling at me,” he said, faint amusement in his tone. “I thought perhaps I should keep it professional.”

Oh, Eddie bites does he? Not such a whippersnapper after all. I quite like that. The idea of him biting is definitely something I’d like to pursue.

Gideon shifted in the chair, trying to stave off the erection forming in his jeans.

Christ, that would be all I need, physical evidence of how he turns me on. I don’t even know if the man is gay or straight and he’d probably deck me. They say redheads have tempers, don’t they?

Men of London book two **SIGHT AND SINNERS**

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The murder of a shared friend leads a high-profile investigator and a psychic into a mystery involving lies, blackmail, BDSM—and into each other’s arms.

From Charing Cross to Waterloo, there’s no escaping love.

Sight and Sinners Karen

SEEING THROUGH…

28-year-old Draven Samuels has a tragic past, but as an investigator with a high-profile London company he now gets what he wants. Tough, sarcastic, and sceptical, he has no patience for lies and even less for people who waste his time. Even if they’re as beautiful as the wild and dark-haired Taylor Abelard. Especially when they’re talking over the body of a murder victim.

THE DARKNESS

Psychic Taylor Abelard is used to people calling him a freak. He can see past events and feel the ghostly vibrations of people close to him who’ve passed on. It’s why he doesn’t get too close to the living. But this time, against his better judgment, despite Draven’s mocking rejoinders, Taylor will get closer than ever before. The mystery of a dead friend will lead the two men down a dark and seedy trail of blackmail and lies. Add in the heartbreak of a family tragedy, and events lead them straight into each other’s arms. By the end of this night, all their demons will have risen—and been banished with the dawn.

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Men of London book three **SUIT YOURSELF**

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Scarred both physically and emotionally after a motorcycle accident, twenty-five year old ex fashion model and porn star Oliver Brown is about to be stripped bare by flamboyant twink Leslie Scott—and they’ll rebuild love from the bottom up.

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BARING THE BEAST

Twenty-five year old Oliver Brown is addicted. Two years ago, he was at the height of his career as “Nikki Star,” fashion model, porn actor, partier without peer. Then came the accident. Hiding his scars, both emotional and physical, he’s gone into hiding. But fine clothing is some solace. A new suit by Debussy? Better even than a ride on his motorcycle Hulk or all the things he used to give and take on camera.

Enter Leslie Scott, the flamboyant, dark-haired, heel-and-tiny-short-wearing twink sent to deliver Oliver’s newest fix. A firecracker, Leslie is dapper, generous, in touch with his feminine side but all man, and as gorgeous as any garment ever made. He makes Oliver dream of ending his reclusion, of recapturing a future forever denied him. But for that to happen, Leslie would have to strip him to the bone. Only then will they rebuild life from the bottom up.

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Men of London book four **FEAT OF CLAY**

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TWO MEN.
TORN. TORTURED. LOVED.
Though they went their separate ways, Tate Williams and Clay Mortimer have been crazy about each other since their school days. Clay went into the SAS. Tate became a cop. Neither mentioned their attraction to the other. Both sought out danger. Both found it.

Imprisoned and shot in an undercover assignment gone wrong, Tate somehow survived…and found his way back into Clay’s arms. His old friend is now the owner of an elite investigation agency and everything any man could want: patient, handsome, commanding. And Clay knows what it takes to survive. But Tate can’t bring himself to share all his secrets, nightmares that force him to rebel against everything. He finds solace from his past as a graffiti artist, a childhood passion, but his demons drive away all who might care for him. Only when he faces that past—and learns that everyone has tasted despair—can the two men truly be brothers-in-arms…and more.

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Men of London book five **CROSS TO BARE**

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TWO OF A KIND Cross To Bare teaser 1 It’s amazing what a little mascara and lipstick, a blonde wig, false boobs, and top-notch female fashion can hide. Not that Lenny James is hiding his masculinity. He uses his normal voice when he’s Laverne, and he’s not particularly camp as a man. His reasons for creating his alter ego are locked deep in his past

. He is who he is: tough in business, and a romantic at heart. What he’s hiding is vulnerability. He wants a man to accept both sides of him.
Gorgeous, commanding, and dark as sin, Brook Hunter meets Lenny and knows nothing about Laverne until fate pushes her into his path. Cross-dressing is as far from Brook’s reality as fashion is from his world of diplomacy and high finance. Understanding and truth take time, and trust doesn’t come easy. But Brook is about to show Lenny that there are no sides to true love, just the place where they meet in the middle.

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Men of London book six **FLYING SOLO**

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Flight attendant Maxwell Lewis has spent years cultivating a bon vivant image only to find he finally wants something more—and that something more includes the never-does-repeats game designer Gibson Henry.
ABOVE AND BEYOND
Maxwell Lewis is proud of the life he’s made. Having turned tragedy into triumph, he’s now a beloved member of a Target Airlines cabin crew with more than his fair share of attention both in the air and on the ground. But lately he’s wanted something more than the occasional hook-up or sometime sex buddy—particularly after meeting game designer and passenger Gibson Henry.
Talented and driven, Gibson has built a company ready to be the next big thing in gaming. Devoted to his work, he takes onetime pleasures where he finds them and never does repeats…which is what he tells handsome, sexy Maxwell Lewis after a little mile-high flight attendance. But a chance encounter in a London club is about to change things forever. Two men, one who’s flown solo and another who’s only ever played alone, are about to find that at some point all games come to end, it’s time to bare your heart and try for love.

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Men of London book seven **DAMAGED GOODS**

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Touched by tragedy, love is an elusive dream never to be realised by eighteen-year-old Jax Grady–until he discovers his secret admirer and receives the sweetest gift he could ever desire.

THE SWEETEST GIFT

Tragedy and horror shaped Jackson Grady’s life, leaving him orphaned and scarred. At eighteen he’s ready to claim his future, but who could love his disfigured face and damaged soul? Definitely not a big, burly, beautiful Irish Traveller who is entirely the stuff of dreams.

Dare Rowan didn’t mean to become obsessed with the blue-eyed man he first saw across a field, but that porcelain skin and innocent air demanded another meeting. Jax has the face of a wounded angel, and the rest of the young man is as heart-breakingly perfect. Jax is beautiful in every way and teaching him about love and life will be something Dare will embrace. Like unwrapping and savouring the candy at the shop where he works, Dare will show this young man everything Jax desired but never thought he’d have, and take Jax to new highs while he holds him through the lows. Between them, they’ll find out just how sweet life can be.

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Men of London book eight **HARD CLIMATE**

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Eco-warrior Mango Manning must shake the demons of his past to win back London nightclub owner Ryan Bishop, who is suddenly facing issues of his own.

WITH BOTH HANDS

Brawny, beautiful, complicated and sexy as hell, eco-warrior Mango Manning is everything performer and London n

ightclub owner Ryan Bishop wants in a life-partner. But Mango has been loving and leaving Ryan for the past two years, and Ryan’s had enough. That’s why he’s moving on. Ryan’s the monogamous type—which means now he’ll be alone at the worst possible time.

Mango Manning knows he’s screwed up and has commitment issues. That’s why he’s been so on-and-off with Ryan these past two years. He’d thought he found a safe haven, a place to hide from the losses of his past, but there are other demons you just can’t escape. Like Ryan’s health. If Mango is to put things right, he must man up and discover a way back into Club Delish and the heart of its owner. Only then can they look to the future together, come what may. True happiness will slip through their fingers…unless they both grab on and hold tight.

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Men of London book nine **SURVIVAL GAME** releases September 2017

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Since his true love died, paramedic Eric Kirby has been living a half life, but when he meets purple-haired Kyle Tripper, Eric’s heart is jolted into a whole new rhythm.

HANDLE…

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Kyle Tripper has led an interesting life. Currently the manager of London’s famous Club Delish, he used to be a croupier extraordinaire in Las Vegas. But not everything in that life was so glamorous; his ex was a piece of work. Now gun-shy, Kyle hopes there is someone special out there for him, and secretly wishes it’s luscious paramedic, Eric Kirby.

WITH CARE

Every day Eric Kirby goes through the motions. Yeah, he saves lives, and, sure, he makes a difference, but he doesn’t feel it anymore – not since he lost his one true. But, when he meets wild, flamboyant Kyle Tripper and learns there’s a skittish, apprehensive man beneath the bold façade, the best of Eric’s protective nature kicks in, and opens his heart to a new love.

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Susan Mac Nicol is a self-confessed bookaholic, an avid watcher of videos of sexy pole dancing men, geek, nerd and in love with her Smartphone. This little treasure is called ‘the boyfriend’ by her long-suffering husband, who says if it vibrated, there’d be no need for him. Susan hasn’t had the heart to tell him there’s an app for that…

In an ideal world, Susan Mac Nicol would be Queen of England and banish all the bad people to the Never Never Lands of Wherever -Who Cares. As that’s never going to happen, she contents herself with writing her HEA stories and pretending, that just for a little while, good things happen to good people.

Sue is a PAN member of Romance Writers of America and is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association in the UK. She’s also Editorial Manager at http://www.divinemagazine.biz, an online LGBTQ e-zine, and she’s a Charity Board trustee at http://wwwbeingmecampaign.com in London.

She’s passionate about research for her books and has stayed in a circus, taken lessons from a blind person on how it feels to be non-sighted, and travelled to a lighthouse with m

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aintenance crew to see first-hand what it’s like inside. She’s also writing a screen play with a Hollywood actor named Nicholas Downs, with a view to taking her latest release, Sight Unseen, to the big screen.

All in all, she’s happy with her lot and loves that you love to read her books.

You do, right?

 

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King of the Fire Dancers by S.T. Sterlings: New Release Review and Excerpt


When he’s propositioned by a wealthy stranger, it seems Coy Conlin’s impoverished life is about to be upgraded. But before he can share the news with his family, he comes home to find his grandmother murdered and his little brother missing. To make matters worse, he’s thrown in prison along with every other shifter under the Sovereign’s orders.
August Seaton left his laboratory job at the Asuda Registry to become a Registry officer. But after a mission with his partner goes horribly wrong, August ends up with Coy’s dead grandmother on his hands, and Coy thinks he’s the murderer. Worst of all, his partner discovers his secret.
August is a shifter. And now he’s Coy’s cellmate. Coy and August must survive each other, abusive guards, and a scientist hell-bent on forcing Coy into a breeding program.
Teamed up, the pair escape prison and journey across the country. With the Registry hot on their trail, they have enough things to worry about. Falling for each other wasn’t supposed to be one of them.

King of the Fire Dancers
Author: S.T. Sterlings
Series: Shift Happens
Release Date: August 14, 2017
ISBN: 978-1-947139-59-6
Format: ePub, Mobi, PDF
Cover Artist: Natasha Snow
Category: Romance
Genre: Sci-Fi/Fantasy
Word Count: 89700
Sex Content: Explicit
Pairing: MM
Orientation: Bisexual, Gay
Identity: Cisgender


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Chapter One Excerpt

King of the Fire Dancers
S.T. Sterlings © 2017
All Rights Reserved

There were two things that Coy Conlin was exceptionally skilled at. The first was dancing. The second, and more unconventional, was turning into a dragon. Both were in his blood and took years of trial and error to perfect, but the former wasn’t a danger to those around him. It wasn’t easy maneuvering a dragon body, especially not one as big as his. Dragons had claws, scales, and fangs. He even had the misfortune of retaining his proneness to seasonal allergies, which sure as hell took explosive sneezing to a whole new level. Still, thanks to his grandmother—a dragon shifter like him—he’d mastered shifting and everything that it entailed from a young age.
Like hunting.
His prey was a slender boy with white skin and blue eyes. The boy raced past, auburn hair catching the wind and blowing about his head. He scurried through the dried grass, his pale, gangly legs kicking up dirt as he rushed to hide behind a large tree. Laughter disguised as a growl escaped Coy’s mouth. As if a mere tree would provide the boy sanctuary.
Coy hated flying. Dragon or not, he preferred to keep his feet—and claws—securely grounded. But, humans were often smarter than they looked, and he knew that if he continued to creep along the ground, the boy would feel the vibrations caused by his heavy footsteps. And so, he pushed off, sharp talons grazing earth as he hovered above the coarse ground. His wings, as wide as sails on a cutter, pierced the air and sent forward a powerful gust of windblown, dusty dirt. He flapped them again, creating a mini dirt storm between himself and the tree and, most importantly, his prey.
A shower of prickly leaves and thin, brittle branches fell to the ground. Seconds later, the boy emerged from behind the tree, arms up and over his head, shielding himself from the downpour. Amidst the cascading debris, Coy caught the look of determination on the boy’s face. Wedged tightly in the boy’s grip was a rock, jagged and angled, the tip pointing toward the sky. A rock? Really? A puny, misshapen hunk of slate? What good would that do against a ninety-foot-long dragon with scales as black as onyx and five times as hard?
A rock.
The little idiot.
The boy let out a wail of a battle cry and charged forward, gripping the rock in his hand like a warrior wielding a sword. There were hundreds of ways Coy could have reacted, and most would have ended with the boy dead on his feet. Instead, he stood there, a beacon of massive power and pride, and allowed the boy to attack. He didn’t feel the impact of the rock smashing against his leg, though he did see the resulting blood. It wasn’t his. It would have taken much more than a rock to puncture his scales.
It was the boy’s.
The force behind the thrust of his hand had caused the rock to ricochet off a section of scales and created a shallow cut in the center of his reddened palm.
Coy had been specific with the rules—no blacking out, no crying, and no bloodletting. If any of those happened, the game ended immediately. And, although the human tried to hide it, he was definitely bleeding.
“No, wait. I’m okay. I swear it. I’m fine. Look. It barely—”
The protest fell on deaf ears—literally. Coy couldn’t hear—or see—anything during the transformation. It was as if he were alone in a black, soundproof room, nothing but darkness and depth and the feeling of endless falling. His heart rate quickened, slamming against his chest like a musician’s calloused hands pounding against a hand drum. He inhaled through his nose, focusing on the rhythm and physically and mentally controlling the pace of his heartbeat. He calmed his mind, grasping at emotions pulsing like lightning, smoothing them out until his vision began to return. First, blurs of colors: reds and browns and a single blob of white standing directly in front of him.
Then, all at once, everything returned.
“It’s barely a scratch,” the boy muttered, folding his pale arms over his chest.
“Too bad,” Coy replied, rubbing at his jaw. It felt good to use his vocal cords again. He was incapable of speech as a dragon, just limited to snarls and hisses…and fire breathing. That last one came in handy. “Rules are rules, Ari.”
Ari—Coy’s adopted brother—frowned. “You didn’t even give me a chance.”
“A chance to what?” Coy rolled his shoulders in an attempt to relax some of the tension in his muscles that came from shifting. “Find another rock? What was that supposed to do?”
He trudged away from his younger brother, crushing dead grass beneath his bare soles. He spotted his discarded sarong lying by a fragment of slate, the latter’s golden-brown surface highlighted with speckles of fiery red. The color was reminiscent of his own skin, warm brown with red undertones—the exact opposite of Ari’s. Even if Ari had somehow managed to slightly injure him with his dumb rock, the bruise would have been difficult to see. One of the many perks of having brown skin was that it didn’t display bruises well. Growing up, that played to his advantage with the number of fights he got into.
Ari pouted. “It was the only thing I could think of.”
“Yeah, well.” Nude, Coy bent down to retrieve his sarong. “That type of thinking is going to get you killed. Or worse, you’ll get your ass kicked.”
Ari rubbed his bloody hand against his sweat-soaked tunic. “How can getting beat up be worse than dying?”
Coy watched as the blood stained the faded fabric. Ari had already outgrown most of his clothes. What he had left was either tainted or torn. Coy would have to take up private performances at this rate just to make sure he could afford to buy Ari clothes.
“If you’re dead, you won’t have me around to rub it in.” He grinned at Ari and then motioned toward the open wound on his hand. “Better not let Dinina see that. You know how she gets.”
He wrapped the thin, cobalt-colored sarong around his waist, securing the two ends into a knot. They’d spent half the morning outside, which meant he’d spent just as long in his dragon form. He’d be exhausted later, but it was worth it. He always had fun hanging out with his little brother. Still, he felt like he was forgetting something.
And then he remembered.
“Shit!” he shouted, the sound so loud and sudden that it startled an unkindness of ravens perched in a nearby tree.
“What is it? What’s wrong?” Ari asked, blue eyes wide with concern.
There were several things wrong, and all of them could be summed up with two words.
“The Registry.”

**SPOILER ALERT** I really liked this.

Coy Conlin is a dragon shifter who enjoys a career as a popular fire dancer at a circus, and recently acquired a wealthy, ah, patron. He makes enough money from their dalliance to quit dancing (if he chooses) and live quietly with his grandmother (also a dragon shifter) and his adopted brother Ari, a human. They live in the kingdom of Asuda, where shifters are the minority and are monitored by the Registry, who perform regular and kind of demoralizing interrogations and bodily inspections of all the shifters in the kingdom. Shifting is tightly regulated, and shifters are chipped.

Registry officer August Seaton is a new recruit and while Coy is appreciative of the guy’s looks, you might guess that these two will embark first upon an adversarial relationship before anything else fun and sexy can happen. That’s okay, I can wait! Coy is justifiably resentful towards the Registry, but his instincts lean towards a teasing and sarcastic nature. Despite Coy being a part-time dragon, and a large human to begin with, he’s more likely to verbally spar and bait his opponents than resort to violence or physical resistance. Coy has some family-related trauma from his youth that still haunt his dreams and while we know August’s childhood caused him to grow into a friendless near-recluse, we don’t find out why right away. August, like many humans, believe that shifters are sub-humans, but he also feels compassion for them.

The king experiences a tragedy that results in all shifters being imprisoned indefinitely. During the sweep Coy’s grandmother is killed and August allows Coy to believe that August killed her (he didn’t because that? Would be unforgivable). Until roughly the midway point of the book, we see Coy in prison, how he and the other shifters are mistreated and further dehumanized, and his hatred for the Registry — and August in particular — fester and grow. The two are then thrown together and the remainder of the book involves an escape attempt and the two men learning to trust each other as they grow closer.

I won’t say the first half is dull or moves slow. It’s necessary and we learn about the attitudes towards shifters, and how Coy and August interact with the world, themselves and each other. Coy’s not simply an angry guy, he’s a bit of a tease and a flirt and knows how to charm people for what he wants. August keeps to himself and being a lonely shut in, it’s easy to see how he is manipulated by his partner, Fate, and others. Their initial interactions are understandably tense and it’s not until the second half that the action really takes off. Once they spend time together, August loosens up just a bit, and he and Coy have an easy and fun bantering relationship. I laughed a lot and just really enjoyed how they were with each other. It wasn’t until I was 80% in that I realized this is actually part of a series — which is good because it was nowhere near getting wrapped up at that point. As you might suspect, these two really start to care for each other, throwing them into confusion as they each deal with their preconceptions about the other and of course their own personal traumas keeping them from wanting to give themselves to another person. This is a slow burn and we only get a teasing amount of gratification before it ends and we’re left waiting, wondering when the next book will be out. Talk about angst! I can’t wait to see what happens next.

3 pieces of eye candy, with the caveat that I think I might be a bit stingy considering the smile on my face when I finished. I’m wary of committing when I don’t know when I’ll get the next fix, er, book. Basically I’m holding this review hostage until I get the next installment and I can make a more informed decision!


S.T. Sterlings is a university librarian, a part-time instructor, and a full-time fangirl. She is originally from Virginia but currently lives in Southern California with her two sons and her maniac of a dog.

Website: http://www.ststerlings.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ststerlings

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