All In by A.T. Brennan: Release Blitz, Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

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Title: All In
Author: A.T. Brennan
Series: Den Boys #1
Release Date: July 11th 2017
Genre: MM Erotic Contemporary Romance

 

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“I learned a long time ago that nothing is free, not even help.” ~ Blaze

Almost getting killed in a gay bashing should have been one of the worst moments of my life, but with everything I’ve been through, it was just another day, except for the gorgeous man who stepped in to save me. There is something about Galen that draws me in and makes me want know him, and the more time I spend with him, the more I feel free to be myself. Galen doesn’t seem to know what he wants, but I’m a man who stays true to himself, and Galen seems to be someone worth taking a chance on.

“Then you happened and all you have to do is touch me and I lose myself.” ~ Galen

I never thought I’d stumble on an attempted murder, but that’s exactly what happened one night while I was trying to get home. After chasing away the assailants and helping the enigmatic young victim home I tried to put the incident out of my mind, but I couldn’t get him out of my head. I might not have ever thought about being with a man before, but the more time I spend with Blaze, the more I learn about who I really am. Blaze has scars that run deep, but as he opens up to me I find myself questioning everything I thought I wanted, and wondering if I’m a good enough man to give him what he needs.

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Blaze

The alarm on my phone was going off and I’d reached up to silence it while half asleep. That move had sent a wave of pain through my body that was so sharp it felt like a cinder block had been dropped on me.

It took me almost thirty seconds to get myself close enough to the phone to silence the alarm, and then a full minute to sit up.

My entire body hurt from my ankles to the tips of my fingers. I felt like death warmed over, but I had to get up.

Last night had been buckets of fucked up, and not just because I’d almost had my head stomped.

Getting jumped sucked, almost getting killed was sobering, but it was meeting Galen that had my head spinning.

Who would have thought my Good Samaritan would be the hottest man I’d ever seen, and he’d been nice.

I had no idea why he’d wanted to help me, why he’d insisted on taking care of me. Other than my makeshift family at the bar no one had ever shown me that kind of concern, and it was a little unnerving.

The weirdest part was how he hadn’t wanted anything in return, and he’d actually given me his card and offered his legal services for free. What the actual fuck? Nothing was free, but he was straight so I was guessing he didn’t want the type of repayment that was normally demanded from me.

Hey hot cover!

I’m not going to tell you that I don’t judge books by their covers, because I very much, do. This one, paired with that blurb that you knew was going to be heartbreaking…I didn’t want to pass this one up. I’m so glad I didn’t. Blaze…I just wanted to hug him. Maybe just follow him around all day and hug him every time he looked sad.which would be often, the dude had a lot to be sad about. Everyone, except for his work family, treated him like crap. He had the worst parents and family who not only done him so much harm, but they cast him out when he was only 15. He spent years on the street, doing what he had to, to survive. We don’t see those years, but he talks about them some…

Getting into some trouble one night leaving a club has him running into Galen. (how hot is that name), Galen saves his life, point blank, he saves him from a gay bashing… He’s gorgeous, but straight, so Blaze lets him help him back to his place, but that’s all that happens. Galen does something nice for someone and Blaze has a hard time accepting it, but he does. Then he spends the next three weeks thinking about him. Another problem has Blaze calling Galen again, needing his help. Galen helps, but I wanted to throat punch him for the way he treated Blaze afterward! The man just bared his soul and…it was just all wrong from beginning to end.

It was a bit of a back and forth after that…Galen because he’d never been in a relationship before, not just with a man, but not at all. His family was all about appearances and everyone was so cold and calculated, he just didn’t have much reason for personal relationships. It made it hard in the beginning for him and Blaze, but he learned quickly and he was so incredibly sweet.

Blaze was used to getting the crap ends in life. He was constantly waiting for the other shoe to drop because they always did for him. He had incredibly low self-esteem and almost no self-worth. He thought himself tainted because of what he had to do in order to survive, being a kid on the streets. I hated the way people treated him, even police and I hated that he just kind of seemed to take all the bad in his life and keep going. I mean, I guess there was no other choice was there, but I hated that he got treated so unfairly and he seemed to just be okay with that. Like it was inevitable. My heart broke for him time after time and I was so glad that he got his happily ever after. I’m going to love this series, I can already tell because I’m already looking forward to Cody’s story. It’s going to be another heart breaker…and I can’t wait for it.

I do wish that these people who ended up being terrible people would’ve gotten their karmic justice…I hate when bad people get away with being bad people…but I guess in this instance, I was just glad Blaze and Galen came out happy and in love and together.

4 pieces of eye candy from me!

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AT Brennan Profile

A.T. Brennan, who also writes under the name Mandie Mills, is a romance and erotica author. A native of Ottawa, Canada, she enjoys picking up and moving from city to city every few years. A former member of the Canadian Armed Forces, current entrepreneur and freelance writer, she enjoys spending her days working on her many projects and her nights writing and not getting enough sleep. Currently she lives on Canada’s East Coast with her family, both two- and four-legged. She enjoys collecting books and exploring the different sides of romance and romantic expression in her works.

Links: Website | Facebook | Facebook Group | Twitter | Amazon

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Fire and Fog by Andrew Grey: Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

Carlisle police officer Dwayne knows what Robin is doing the moment he lays eyes on the young man at Bronco’s club. But he doesn’t know that, like him, Robin also comes from a family who cast him out for being gay, or that he’s still lugging around the pain of that rejection. Robin leaves the club, and soon after Dwayne decides to as well—and is close by when things between Robin and his client turn violent.

When Dwayne finds out Robin is the victim of a scam that lost him his apartment, he can’t leave Robin to fend for himself on the streets. Despite Dwayne’s offer of help and even opening up his home, it’s hard for Robin to trust anything good. The friendship between them grows, and just as the two men start warming up to each other, Robin’s sister passes away, naming Robin to care for her son. Worse yet, their pasts creep back in to tear down the family and sense of belonging both of them long for.

Will their fledgling romance dissipate like fog in the sun before it has a chance to burn bright?

Title: Fire and Fog

Author: Andrew Grey

Series: Carlisle Cops #6

Genre:  M/M Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Release Date: July 7 2017

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I write a lot of guest posts for a lot of blogs.  But I love this one. mainly because the name is so cool.  See it speaks to me.  I may not be a chick, but I am obsessed with books.  I have hundreds of them on my Kindle and more on the bookshelves in my house.  I have been a reader for most of my life.  As a kid I used to go to bed and read The Hardy Boys mysteries.  Later I read classics and adventure stories.  Finally I found gay romance and I was hooked.  Completely and totally.  Obsession confirmed.   I also love eye candy.  After all I am a gay man and there are few things more beautiful than a handsome man…well maybe a handsome man, naked, lying on his back with I want you eyes and….Well you get the picture.  Thankfully Dominic is the best eye candy ever.

Robin lay still for a long time. His life had gone to hell, and he kept descending further and further by the day. Now he was homeless, in essence, lying on a surprisingly comfortable sofa in a stranger’s living room, and wondering just when the next shoe was going to drop. He could see all the way into the dining area and kitchen from where he lay and it seemed rather homey and brought his predicament into focus.

He jumped when water ran, wondered if Dwayne was up, but it was somewhere else in the building.

If he was honest with himself, he wouldn’t have minded so much if Dwayne had been interested. Robin had to admit Dwayne was hot, and when Robin closed his eyes, his mind did an efficient job of pulling away Dwayne’s club clothes and filling in all the blanks.

Eventually Robin slept, then woke with a start at the clink of dishes. The night had been warm and he’d pushed the blankets off. He rolled over and wished he hadn’t, because after a night with images of Dwayne running through his head, jumbled up with the other things that had happened to him, he was as hard as a rock and completely confused. Still he didn’t want to be flashing Dwayne.

“Did you sleep okay?” Dwayne asked as the scent of coffee filled the apartment, calling to Robin like a siren of the morning.

“Yes. Thanks.” His arousal went down as his reality sank in hard. There was nothing for him to get excited about.

“I’ll have breakfast ready in ten minutes or so. Go on and get cleaned up if you want.” Dwayne seemed to watch him for longer than necessary before turning away to get out some pans. Robin took the opportunity to escape, hurried to the bathroom, closed the door, and paused to breathe once he was safely inside.

He gasped and leaned against the door as everything from the past few months pressed down on him like a lead weight. What the hell was going to happen to him now? He’d failed at everything. Hell, he couldn’t even hustle properly and got picked up by a cop his first time out. He had no home, a few bills in his pocket, and didn’t know where his next meal was coming from.

Robin slid down the door and ended up scrunched at the base of it in a heap, unwilling and unable to move. He knew he had to get up and somehow do what he needed to leave this room before Dwayne thought something was wrong and came looking for him. Falling to pieces was one thing, but someone seeing him do it was completely different. He needed to be strong so no one thought they could take advantage of him.

Using the door handle, he pulled himself to his feet, then ran water and splashed it on his face. He’d forgotten to get his toothbrush and stuff before he’d made his escape, so he screwed up his courage, left the bathroom, and returned to the living room, where he opened the top box and found what he needed in a CVS bag. He also grabbed some cleanish clothes and then raced back to the bathroom as everything boiled to the surface. He tamped it down and managed to get behind a closed door one more time, stared at himself in the mirror, and tried to see the part of him that had fucked everything up so badly. Maybe he did have loser written on his forehead. Robin actually checked. He couldn’t see anything, but there had to be something, because he’d sure drawn the loser stick in life.

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.

Author Links

Amazon Author Page

Barnes and Noble Page

Dreamspinner Press

Facebook

Facebook Group All the Way with Andrew Grey

Goodreads

Twitter @andrewgreybooks

Website

Fire and Water (1)

Fire and Ice (2)

Fire and Rain (3)

Fire and Snow (4)

Fire and Hail (5)

Fire and Fog (6)


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Mascara & Bandages by Brandon Witt: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Ariel Merman is a new drag queen who’s already finding a family at Hamburger Mary’s. After a performance as Ariel, Zachary Cooper walks home in his makeup and is assaulted by homophobes. Zachary’s worry that the attack has thrown a wrench in his good fortune is eased when he looks into the eyes of his doctor.

Dr. Teegan Chau is a little lost after divorcing his wife and coming out of the closet, but he can’t deny the pull he feels toward the young man he patches up. Luckily, Zachary takes the initiative and asks Teegan out. But attraction is the easy part of their blossoming relationship—as they deal with an ex-wife and child, being a drag queen in a heteronormative culture, Zachary’s lingering trauma from his attack, and Teegan acclimating to life as part of an out-and-proud gay couple.

The challenges seem daunting at the start of a romance. Can Zachary and Teegan make it through the rough patches and take a chance on the love that’s been missing from both their lives?

Title: Mascara & Bandages
Series: Mary’s Boys: Book Three
Author: Brandon Witt
Release Date: July 12, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 121

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This is the third book in this series, and somehow I missed the first one (I’ll definitely need to correct that at some point)…but I have never felt lost for not having read the first one.

One of the things that I enjoy about Brandon’s book, and especially this series is that he writes across the board. He doesn’t write only gay white males who have money, etc. He writes drag queens (ManDonna has my <3 ), African-Americans, Asian men, men who don’t have two nickles to rub together, as well as men who are coming out of the closet. In other words, he writes gay men out in the world. Because as we know, gay men are all different, just as straight people are, bisexual, etc. His characters are rich in diversity, and their personalities reflect that diversity, and differences in culture.

Zachary, oh goodness, what happened to him broke my heart, as much as I realize that it is a part of what happens, I still hated to see any character go through it. But with his family at Hamburger Mary’s (which I am totally visiting when I am in Denver for GRL in October…maybe Brandon will take me there!) he attempts to work through the trauma, all while I begins dating Asian American doctor Teegan, whose family will never accept Teegan being gay, or Zachary, with or without him being a drag queen.

Teegan’s ex-wife is also a great character in this, showing that not all divorces need to end in people hating each other, and making their children’s lives miserable. She is supportive and caring, and wants Teegan to be happy more than anything.

Zachary had such a big heart, as the reader can see when they learn all about his bookstore. He was so deserving of that happy ending that Brandon absolutely had to provide them. But even more, Zachary was able to grow within himself and face his fears. No matter the challenge (and he had a couple very tough ones), he was able to stand up and work through it, with his family and Teegan’s support, but also by being the man he knew he could be.

4 pieces of eye candy


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Unscripted Love by Aimee Nicole Walker: Release Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

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UNSCRIPTED LOVE

Road to Blissville Series, Book 1

AIMEE NICOLE WALKER

M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 07.11.17

 PHOTOGRAPHER: Wander Aguiar

COVER ARTIST: Jay Aheer/Simply Defined Art

AMAZON US: http://amzn.to/2tXysST

AMAZON UK: http://amzn.to/2tzosN1

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Kyle Vaughn had three goals in life: become a vet, find the man of his dreams, and start a family. He easily checked off the first item on the list when he took over his grandfather’s veterinary practice. Too bad he wasn’t as lucky in love.

Chaz Hamilton took a leap of faith when he decided to pursue a career in writing, but one best seller didn’t mean he could quit his day job. All work and no play threatened to make Chaz a very dull man when the only romantic action he saw was in the pages of his manuscript. Too bad he couldn’t write his own happily every after.

Circumstances pushed the two men together, and one magical kiss beneath fireworks and stars changed everything. Kyle knew his luck had finally turned around and Chaz found a man far better than any book boyfriend ever written. There was just one problem. Chaz has kept a secret from Kyle that could ruin their chance at a beautiful life together.

Kyle and Chaz learn that the best-laid plans often go awry, the heart has a mind of its own, and the greatest love is unscripted.

The books in the Road to Blissville series can be read either as standalone books or as part of the series. This book contains sexually explicit material and is intended for mature adults 18 and older.

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Chaz stared unblinkingly into my eyes for several awkward moments when I arrived. Our connection broke when he took a deep breath and shifted his features into a mask of cool professionalism, but not before I saw the hurt in his eyes. Hurt? What the hell did he have to feel hurt about? I was the one who put myself out there, and he ignored me.

If asked, I would tell you that my greatest personality trait was my patience and my laid-back attitude was a close second. I rarely lost my temper, but I felt my blood simmering beneath the surface that day. My heart pounded in my chest as fury rose inside me. I had half a mind to toss him over my shoulder and carry him off so I could kiss a confession out of him. I hadn’t mistaken the desire in his eyes when he looked at me nor had I imagined the sparks that flew between us when our lips first touched. I just needed to find out why Chaz turned cold on me so suddenly.

“Jazz is running a few minutes behind,” Chaz coolly said as if he spoke to someone who hadn’t experienced the pleasure of his tongue in their mouth. “Please help yourself to a beverage and a magazine while you wait in the reception area.”

That little imp was dismissing me, and I wasn’t about to… My thoughts were interrupted by the sounds of heavy work boots walking across the polished hardwood floor of the salon. It wasn’t a sound I associated with the classy salon, so I turned to see who was wearing them. My mouth dropped open at the sight of the sexy stud approaching Chaz and me, but I don’t think he even noticed I was alive because he couldn’t seem to tear his eyes off of Chaz. Was this guy the reason Chaz didn’t answer my calls or return my messages.

My eyes raked over the tall, dark stranger with bulging biceps and perfect pecs straining the fabric of his white T-shirt that was three sizes too small. His tool belt hung low over jeans much too tight to wear while constructing anything but wet dreams.

“Hi Andy,” Chaz said cheerfully. “How’s it going?”

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I didn’t care if Andy constructed orphanages in third world countries in his free time; I hated his fucking guts because of the way he looked at Chaz and the way Chaz returned his interest. Andy leaned artfully against the high counter of the reception desk and smiled at Chaz.

 

“It could’ve been better,” Andy said. “A certain someone could’ve joined me for a drink like I asked.”

Chaz laughed uneasily and darted a glance in my direction to judge my reaction. I thought the soft blush that bloomed across his cheeks was adorable and wished that I was the one who put it there. His eyes widened when they met mine, and he licked his bottom lip nervously. Could he sense how angry I was right then? Was anger even the right emotion? It felt more like… jealousy. I could feel that I wasn’t the only one who had ideas what Chaz could do with his sexy tongue. I turned to face my new nemesis.

“I don’t believe we’ve met yet,” I said to the newcomer. “I’m Dr. Kyle Vaughn.” Even to my own ears, I sounded a bit pretentious, but I couldn’t take it back once the words left my mouth. I extended my hand to him, which he accepted in a vice-like grip.

“Andy Mason,” he told me. “Carpenter.” I could tell he wasn’t impressed by my title and didn’t like the possessive gleam he saw in my eyes. I narrowed my eyes as the beefcake squeezed my hand harder instead of releasing it.

“Guys,” Chaz said, trying to interrupt the standoff between us. We ignored his attempts and continued to stare one another down like two MMA fighters at the press conference before fight night. “Andy.” The flirty way Chaz said Andy’s name penetrated the carpenter’s brain and he jerked his attention back to Chaz.

“Yeah?” He asked, sounding hopeful.

“What’s the real reason you came downstairs?” Chaz asked, his flirty tone replaced with a professional one. “As flattering as it would be, I’m pretty sure you’re a man on a mission.”

“I’m a multitasker,” Andy boasted.

 

I was eager to read this new series by Aimee Nicole Walker. It is a spin off of her previous series, Curl up and Dye Mysteries. Almost all of the same characters (a few new ones thrown in here and there) but the focus is on a different couple. Chaz, the loveable receptionist at Curl Up and Dye and Kyle, the town’s veteranarian dubbed Dr Dimples.

Simply stated, I really liked this book. Whereas the previous series was super cute (cutesy nicknames, etc) this one wasn’t nearly as. And that is not a bad thing.

There is quite a bit of repetition from the previous stories, but that is necessary for the author if she wants people to be able to read this without having to read the previous. It was fun to read from a different perspective though.

Navigating the flirtation that they have had for over a year led to a slow burn- which I am a big fan of. I like to see a relationship develop before they jump into bed. We find out more about Kyle and what makes him tick. As always, what you see on the outside isn’t necessarily what is on the inside.

I loved the closeness Chaz has with “The Matrons”. I completely cracked up every time they were on the page!

This was a really good love story of a couple we have been hoping for since the begining. And I was not disappointed at all.

4 pieces of eye candy

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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Unbreakable Stories: Rowe by Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott: Quick Reviews with Giveaway

Unbreakable Stories: Rowe is a collection of short stories following the romantic adventures and misadventures of former Army Rangers turned security experts Rowe Ward and Noah Keegan following the events of Torch, book 3 of the Unbreakable Bonds series.

This collection is more than 30,000 words long and contain stories such as:
Piece of Pie
Mistletoe
Haunted
Gotcha
And many more…

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Drake & Elliott have mastered another hit! Unbreakable Stories: Rowe is the compilation of shorts of Noah & Rowe and they are absolutely hilarious, sweet & s. There is not much more to say that I haven’t said in previous reviews. I adore this series and it will forever be in my top 5 of all time. Drake & Elliott are a dynamic duo that I hope continue writing together for years to come.

Noah & Rowe had everything…

Impressive writing – check
Good flow of each story – check
Witty – check
Sweet – check
Sexy – check

The stories that Drake & Elliot create are full of family and love. Every time I read a new story (short or long) with the Unbreakable Men I get ALL. THE. FEELS. My favorite short was Mistletoe. The warmth and love you feel Noah has for Rowe is gut clenching. Noah will do anything to make Rowe feel loved during the holidays and the reindeer games they play definitely did the trick. I love getting a glimpse into their lives and seeing a little bit more of how they are so well matched as partners.

I hope Drake & Elliott continue to do little shorts (or a full length) of the Unbreakable characters. I don’t want to ever let them go. Well done Ladies – Keep the stories coming!

4.5 pieces of eye candy

Why can I not get enough of these men? I just love all the men in this series, and they are written so well by Drake & Elliott, I have to wonder how anyone will be able to get enough. I almost NEVER beg for additional stories on characters, mostly because often it seems when they have achieved their happy ending, then there isn’t much to tell about them.

However, these two authors have written such an incredible series, with characters who are so true to life, so diverse in personalities, that I cannot imagine how any of them could be boring. Adding these stories after their happy endings are such a joy to read. You learn more about their lives, their pasts, their wants, all the hot sex they have, and mostly about how the relationships between all these men continue to strengthen bonds built over many years.

Rowe’s stories are no exception. We see the fun side of Rowe and Noah, as they mess with their oh so serious friends. And we see the tender side, as we learn more about Rowe’s deceased wife, and his sister in law. The tears were flowing…in a short story. THAT is hard to do. For an author to bring a connection to a reader based on a short story is an incredible gift, yet these ladies do it so well.

I can’t help but hope that we get more scenes, maybe even more books, even as I know that these two will be working on a spin off series that I have no doubt will rock my world. Their writing draws me in, creates some serious magic, and then spits me out the other side, wrung out from the feels, but still happy as can be that I get to have a little of that in my life.

Well done, ladies…well done.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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Survivor by TM Smith: Cover Reveal, Guest Post, and Giveaway

Taylor Langford was only thirteen years old when his world was torn apart, his parents killed during a supposed robbery gone bad. With no other living relatives, the young boy certainly would have wound up another statistic of foster care were it not for the intervention of the policeman that found Taylor hiding in the crawl space his mother hid him in that fateful night.

Frank Moore went to work for the Dallas Police Department not long after he graduated from the academy. He was still a rookie when he and his partner answered a call in one of the cities more affluent neighborhoods, Devonshire. At first they thought the young boy in the various pictures in the home had been kidnapped until they found him, shaken but alive, in a crawl space in the attic.

Officer Moore recognizes the pain in the kid’s eyes, having lost his own mother when he was just a boy to cancer. He intervenes. Making sure Taylor is placed with a loving foster family and over the years, becomes a permanent fixture in Taylor’s life.

A decade later the case still remains unsolved and the once gangly, uncertain teenager is now a college graduate coming home to the man that helped mold and shape his life, the man he’s loved for as long as he can remember, Frank Moore. But Taylor isn’t the only person returning to Dallas and while Frank is distracted, trying to convince Taylor that infatuation and love are two entirely different things, the past creeps up on them, determined to finish what was started ten years ago.

Meet Taylor and Frank!

I’ve been a fan of actor Matthew Daddario for a while and always wanted to write his likeness into a character. I’m especially fond of Matthew in the role of Shadowhunter Alec Lightwood on the Shadowhunters. When I first started laying out the character Taylor, Matthew continued to pop into my head as Taylor. He’s tall, dark and handsome and the perfect fit for the story and the character.

 

I was a huge Sonny and Will fan until Days lost their mind and completely destroyed the couple. That was where I first saw Brant Daugherty as one of Sonny’s boyfriends. Frank is ten years older than Taylor in the story and I think that Brant and his appearance when considered age wise along side Matthew is the perfect fit.

The tentative release date for Survivor is August 1st at this time. Depending on writing, editing and scheduling I’m hoping a little sooner but that will all depend on circumstances.

And now the cover…

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WOW!

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Losing My Religion by A.S. Tucker: Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway


Author: A.S. Tucker
Genre: M/M Romance
Release Date: July 27, 2017

Jaden Barker is a good boy.

For as long as he can remember, he’s been preparing for the day he’ll be called as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. He’s ready. He’s more than willing. And he can’t wait to spend the next two years serving the Lord and his church. But when a new proclamation from the church is announced, it leaves him questioning everything.

Quinn Owens is trouble with a capital T.

An aspiring actor living in the bowels of Los Angeles, he’s fought long and hard to get where he is, and he’s not willing to give it up for anything. Working for a homophobic boss presents quite a challenge when you’re a gay man, but Quinn knows losing this job means losing his dream. 

Jaden is lost and confused.

Quinn won’t let anything stand in his way.

But when Jaden finds himself living downstairs from the enticing Quinn, neither are prepared for what happens next.

Will Jaden be able to resist Quinn’s charms and remain a devoted Mormon missionary? Or will he fall, finding himself face to face with losing his religion?
 
Prologue
Our living room smells like a high school locker room. You know the smell I’m talking about. That oniony stink teen boys get when it’s been too long since they’ve showered, and they still haven’t quite discovered the magic of deodorant. 

It’s a smell I’m all-too familiar with, my high school career having only come to an end this past year. It’s going to take a lot longer than ten months to wipe the horrors I saw and smelled in the boys’ locker room out of my brain. 

Even as I sit on the barstool in the center of the room, visions of Roosevelt High come flashing to my mind, and I half-expect to see Jeff come strolling through the door, twisted wet towel in hand, just waiting for the perfect moment to snap it against an unsuspecting victim’s bare ass.

Butt. I mean, butt. 

Cussing was never allowed when I was growing up. But, now that this has arrived, I need to be more diligent about watching my language. 

Because cussing will not be tolerated where I’m going. 

I look down at the white envelope in my hands, my fingers trembling ever-so slightly, as I read over my name and address printed on the front.

Elder Jaden Barker.

Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think? Perfect missionary name. Exactly like my parents envisioned.

Flipping the envelope over, I gently finger the flap, watching the pristine paper slide against my skin. How ironic would it be if the one thing that’s supposed to be the biggest blessing in my life thus far sliced through my flesh, red drops of blood seeping through my pores and marring the lily-white paper beneath?

Wouldn’t be the first time the church cut you, a familiar voice in the back of my mind utters.

Yes, but they’ve always been there to stitch you back up. You just need to have faith, his ever-present counterpart retorts. 

I know what you’re thinking. This dude is crazy. I’m not. I don’t actually hear voices. They’re only little versions of my subconscious—punks who like to rear up and cause problems in my life at the most inopportune times. Ever since I turned in my mission papers, they seem to have taken permanent residence in my head—like those old cartoons I used to watch, the ones with an angel on one shoulder and a devil on the other. The church would refer to them as the Holy Ghost and Satan.

Or, as I like to call them, Jiminy and Jafar. Growing up, I had a thing for Disney.

Shrugging off their unwelcome intrusion, I turn my attention back to the task at hand, the all-too-familiar pang of nervousness welling deep within my gut. My stomach has been in knots all afternoon. 

My family has been expecting this any day now. As soon as I pulled it out of the mailbox and saw the distinct logo in the top-left corner, I was tempted to rip into it right there, near the gutter, needing the torment of where I’d be spending the next two years of my life to end. 

My mother, of course, had different plans. The moment she realized I’d received it, she plucked it from my fingers, whisking it away into the kitchen and telling me we had to wait for my father to get home from work. Then, like the good little housewife she is, she set about making a scrumptious chicken noodle soup. My grandmother’s recipe and her mother’s before that. Also, my favorite meal on the planet. 

That brings us to the reason I’m now sitting on a kitchen stool in the middle of the living room with three smiling faces shining back at me from the sofa, the normally delicious smell of the soup now making me nauseous and forcing me to think of sweaty teenagers. 

I’ve been preparing for this day for as long as I can remember. Since I was just a kid, I knew my life was leading to this very moment. And, after years of singing songs in primary and learning lesson after lesson in priesthood meetings, it’s finally here. 

I’m going to be a missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

I’m ready for this. 

I’ve been groomed for this. 

I’m going to share the truth with the people of wherever this letter sends me. 

My fingers tremble as I tear into the envelope, my family sitting across from me on the edge of the couch. My mother’s hand flies to her mouth as she watches the stark white paper slide from its temporary shelter. I know, within a week, it will be framed and hanging proudly in the hallway, right next to my brother, Taylor’s, mission call. 

“Dear Brother Barker,” I read aloud, my voice shaky as my heart hammers against my chest. 

My dad leans forward, wringing his hands in anticipation, while my mother leans her face into his shoulder as she stifles a sob. To an outsider, it might appear my parents are nervous, as if the thought of sending their nineteen-year-old son out into the world with minimal contact for two years were a terrifying idea they weren’t entirely on board with. 

Unfortunately, that isn’t the case at all. My parents are waiting with bated breath, their anticipation for me to leave eclipsed only by the joy they feel about me going in the first place. Not because they don’t love me, but because doing the Lord’s work is far more important. 

“You are hereby called to serve as a missionary at…” My words trail off, my eyes scanning the page until the bold words leap out at me. “California Los Angeles Mission.”

I must have said the words aloud because, within seconds I’m enveloped in my mother’s arms. My dad moves to join her, his broad arms circling the two of us as he whispers how happy he is for me. My little sister, Jenny, clears her throat behind me, and my mother swings her arm wide to pull her into the hug with us. 

“I’m so, so proud of you, Jaden. You’re going to receive so many blessings because of this. And you’ll bless so many people in return,” my mother says as she squeezes me tight. 

Her arms drop suddenly, and she pulls away from me, her eyes shining, as she says, “I need to go call Taylor. He was so sad he couldn’t be here today. Poor little Maddy has another ear infection, and they didn’t want to ruin your special day with a crying infant. But he made me promise to call as soon as we knew where you were going. So, if you’ll excuse me, I have a few phone calls to make.”

She practically dances out of the room, my dad close on her heels as he reminds her of a few other people who need to hear the good news. 

Left alone with only my little sister, I glance down at Jenny, her ten-year-old face beaming up at me. 

“I can’t wait until I’m old enough to go on a mission! Are you excited?” Her squeaky voice breaks on the last word. 

I smile at her, nodding my head in the most self-assured way I can manage. 

This should be the most exciting day of my life. This is the moment I’ve been waiting for, and every detail of this day has gone exactly according to plan. My mom’s happy tears, my dad’s joyous words. Heck, I don’t even have to learn another language at the training center. It’s everything I’ve ever dreamed of.

So, why does it feel like I’m living a lie?
A military brat growing up, A.S. Tucker now resides in Utah with her loving husband. When not writing, you’ll find her reading, binge watching Netflix, or drinking wine. Her three favorite things are animals, coffee, and Harry Potter, not necessarily in that order. She is the author of three other novels, published under a different pen name. She loves hearing from her readers, so please drop her a line! 

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Santa’s Naughty Helper by Ari McKay: Release Day Review with Giveaway

Shy lawyer Kevin Anderson is presented with an unexpected opportunity when he draws hunky litigator Erik Wilson’s name for their office’s secret holiday gift exchange. Kevin has pined for his friend for a long time, but he fears ruining their working relationship if Erik doesn’t return his feelings. The anonymity of the exchange gives him the chance to let Erik know someone is interested, so Kevin turns the gift into a game: twelve days of presents, each more suggestive, culminating with a Christmas Eve meeting—if Kevin finds the courage to see it through!

Erik is intrigued by his secret Santa, who has given him something to look forward to during the holidays for the first time in years. But as Christmas approaches, he realizes he doesn’t want a mystery man; he wants his best friend, Kevin. When his attempts to instigate something with Kevin fail, Erik accepts the dinner invitation of his secret admirer. Little does he suspect that Santa’s naughty little helper might be just the man to make all his Christmas dreams come true in a holiday friends-to-lovers romance that progresses from sweet to spicy for two sexy lawyers.

First Edition published by Torquere Press, 2012.

Title: Santa’s Naughty Helper
Series: Lawyers in Love
Author: Ari McKay
Release Date: July 5, 2017
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: TBD (Novella)

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

I enjoy Ari McKay’s books, and really love the holiday theme in July, so I wanted to grab this one right away.

I loved the cute premise. The shy lawyer who gets up the nerve to show his Secret Santa recipient, his best friend, how much he wants to spend all the cold winter nights with him. Kevin was so creative with his gift giving, and as he saw how much Erik enjoying receiving the gifts, he was able to become much more daring than he ever expected he would.

One thing I would have liked to have seen a bit more of was Erik’s point of view. I struggled with believing he made such a quick switch into wanting Kevin when he had shown no previous inclination. I think it would have been easily resolved with a bit more of Erik’s POV to help fill in the blanks as to where his mind was at.

I did find some of the dialogue a bit stilted and cliche, with some of the lines not sound as natural as I would have expected from two men who had been best friends for years.

All in all a cute story, with a fun premise, giving you hope for love during the holiday season.

3 pieces of eye candy


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Haven’s War by Parker Williams: New Release Tour, Excerpt and Giveaway

Series: Safe Haven #2
Genre: M/M Dark Romantic Elements
Release Date: June 26, 2017
Buy Now: Universal Link 

With Haven on an extended honeymoon with Sammy, bad guys around the world are breathing a lot easier. No one is better at permanently removing these lowlifes who target children—and the brutal murder of two teenage girls makes clear it’s past time to return to work. Haven’s first assignment back results in a new family member and a renewed sense of urgency to protect and avenge the innocent.There is nothing ‘usual’ about the business of hunting predators, but when several of Haven’s fellow agents are killed, a pattern emerges. The hunters have become the prey, tools in a bitter vendetta for a perceived wrong.Despite years of working alone, when the target shifts to someone unexpected, Haven calls in reinforcements—a friend to stand between the family he loves and a ruthless killer. Teamwork may be the only way to win this fight—unless it’s already too little, too late.Haven tries to approach this as he would any other assignment. Find your enemy and make sure they suffer before you eliminate them. But when a member of his team goes off-book and ends up dead, everything changes. It’s no longer a battle. Now it’s war.


PROLOGUE

He glanced up at the evening sky. A haze enveloped the quarter moon, giving everything an ethereal glow. Though the night would be considered sultry, it lent itself to romance, walking hand in hand with someone you cared for, sharing whispered words, promises that might last an evening or be the foundation for a lifetime commitment. These people had no idea how quickly something like love could be ripped away, how those things said to one another would be worth less than the air you spent on saying them.

He shook his head. Now he needed to focus, not lose himself in memories of what might have been if things had been different. God, how he wished things could have been different.

The street could only be described as quaint. Small houses, each nearly identical to the next, but with a few tweaks that marked them as individual. The place he focused on had a small flowerbed, bursting with a variety of a flower he knew, but couldn’t recall the name. Tulips, maybe?

The slate gray siding, the maroon shutters on the windows, and the solar-powered pathway to the door that lit up in beautiful colors at night. The overall effect could only be described as charming. A lot of love went into making the house something special. It reminded him of what he’d lost.

He’d taken refuge in a house across from the home for six days, getting the lay of the land, taking note of the occupants’ arrival and departure schedule. Then every night, he drifted off, thinking about the place. It had been a dream of theirs, to own a little farm of their own, where no one would send them off to the corners of the world to handle problems. And for one very brief instant, they’d achieved it. But that dream had died in more ways than one. One day it was there, the next it was gone, as ephemeral as if it had never existed.

He tugged the collar of his black jacket and wished for a cool breeze. The earlier rain had sent the humidity soaring, and sweat was building up under his bulletproof vest, matting the sparse hairs. What he wouldn’t give for a tall glass of iced tea about now. He tried again, lifting the bottom of the vest up, hoping to let a little air in to cool him down, but nothing helped. He glanced at his watch. He’d need to make his move tonight. No way could he stand to be in this place any longer. The memories and wistful dreams alone threatened to drown him, but this heat had him sweating to the point where even he could smell himself. When he grabbed a coffee at the convenience store down the street while his target was out, the man behind the counter had a hand on the phone. Probably thought he was a vagrant. He sure as hell looked like one. He hadn’t showered in days, and his dark blond hair felt greasy to the touch. The beard he’d grown over the last year hadn’t seen a razor either. He looked like shit.

When he heard the hum of an engine on the quiet street, he crouched down. Though his patience had long ago come to an end, he needed to see this through. He would wait as he’d been trained, even if every fiber of his being rebelled against the idea. Still, he was an assassin, and he had a job to do.

The woman—Sarah, according facts he’d assembled—slid from the driver’s seat, her blond hair pulled back into a ponytail. She laughed at something the other occupant shouted, then opened the rear door of the van. It took several minutes for her to get set, then she stepped away as a ramp slid down to allow the man in the back to wheel out and be lowered to the ground. She bent over and kissed him, then walked to the passenger side where she took a baby from the car seat. She held the child up, and then blew a raspberry on his belly, which caused the kid to laugh and wiggle. Regret tore through him. He wished there could be another way, but two months ago he’d approached the man—Daniel Tollifson—there had been angry words exchanged, as well as the threat of police involvement. He couldn’t allow that, because there would be no one else to take down his ultimate target.

He forced himself to focus on the here and now. He needed to remain detached. Better to not let facts like these intrude on his mission—a few weeks ago, he’d gone to Daniel, begging for information. He’d been rebuffed. That wouldn’t be the case today.

If the man wouldn’t help him when he asked, then he’d have to find another way to get his message across. He reached into his pocket and pulled out a photo of a man whose smile had never wavered. Terry had been his whole world, and then had been ripped away from him in a matter of moments. All he wanted had been the name of the person responsible. Why couldn’t Daniel see he wasn’t asking for much? How would he feel if it had been his wife? Or his child?

Daniel disengaged himself from the ramp, and Sarah started to come around to the other side. It had to be now.

He’d run out of tears a lifetime ago, but again he wished he had another alternative. He didn’t. He raised the rifle and peered through the sights. The woman and baby had gotten too near the man, and he refused to hurt the innocent. Not like Terry had been. He lowered his weapon.

He waited while the two were engaged in conversation. She touched her husband’s face, then bent down to blow a raspberry on his cheek, which had them both laughing. She held out the baby to him and gestured to the chair. He frowned, shook his head, and waved her off. She laughed and stuck out her tongue, dodging the swat he attempted to lay on her ass, then strode to the house, singing something loud and only slightly off-key. Her husband yelled something about the neighbors, and she merely laughed. He could see the obvious love the two of them shared, and that made what he had to do even more difficult.

Regret tore through him. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, no longer sure who the sympathy was for.

She opened the front door, and her husband began to roll toward the house. Now would be his chance. Despite his misgivings, he had to take it. He again raised the rifle, closed one eye, and locked in on his target. The wheelchair stopped at the curb, and the man tried unsuccessfully to move it. He called out to Sarah, an edge of frustration in his voice. She laughed and took eight steps toward him when the trigger of the M24 he held in slightly trembling hands depressed, and a loud bang split the quiet suburban street. Less than a second passed before Daniel’s head exploded, blood and other materials spattering his wife and child. For a moment, she stood there, eyes wide. She gripped the baby close to her chest, and then screamed.

Before the echo died away, he had already scurried off into the night.

It wasn’t a perfect shot. He could hear Terry cursing at him, making him do it again and again until he got it right. But Terry had died, and though two years had passed, he would finally be avenged.

Daniel Tollifson had been the first, but there was no doubt he wouldn’t be the last. Though he didn’t want to kill anyone, there had to be a penalty for those who refused to help him get justice for Terry. He needed to track down and eliminate the person who’d been responsible.

No matter who had to die in the process.

 


(Warning: This may be considered a trigger for some people. The images used in the video are stock photos and not real pictures of violence against children.)

Parker Williams believes that true love exists, but it always comes with a price. No happily ever after can ever be had without work, sweat, and tears that come with melding lives together.


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Spun! by JL Merrow: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

With friends like these . . .

An ill-advised encounter at the office party leaves David Greenlake jobless and homeless in one heady weekend. But he quickly begs work from his ex-boss and takes a room in Shamwell with easygoing postman Rory Deamer. David doesn’t mean to flirt with the recently divorced Rory—just like he doesn’t consciously decide to breathe. After all, Rory’s far too nice for him. And far too straight.

Rory finds his new lodger surprisingly fun to be with, and what’s more, David is a hit with Rory’s troubled children. But while Rory’s world may have turned upside down in the last few years, there’s one thing he’s sure of: he’s straight as a die. So he can’t be falling for David . . . can he?

Their friends and family think they know all the answers, and David’s office party hookup has his own plans for romance. Rory and David need to make up their minds and take a stand for what they really want—or their love could be over before it’s even begun.

Amazon

Riptide Books

Hi, I’m JL Merrow, and I’m delighted to be here today as part of the blog tour to celebrate the release of Spun!, the fourth of my contemporary MM romantic comedies in the Shamwell Tales series.

Bringing the Funny

I never set out to write humour. Whether or not I’ve nevertheless achieved it is up to the individual reader’s judgement, but all I wanted to do at the outset was have fun with my writing. It wasn’t until I started to see a common thread in reviews (“Merrow’s trademark humour”; “JL Merrow brings the funny” etc) that I realised that hey, other people were having fun with it too. Which, obviously, leads to fun squared, and a very happy author. 🙂

I grew up reading all sorts of funny books. The late, great, Sir Terry Pratchett is, of course, my idol—there is nothing he didn’t know about comic timing*—and another early influence was Douglas Adams.

“In the beginning the Universe was created. This has made a lot of people very angry and been widely regarded as a bad move.” ― Douglas AdamsThe Restaurant at the End of the Universe

I discovered The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy in the library at an early age and proceeded to annoy my poor mother mightily by reading out choice lines whenever she was trying to get on with something else. Who could forget the classic, “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way as bricks don’t”, a line that on one level, tells you nothing at all, but on another, is a fantastically evocative bit of description?

It’s probably not surprising that both Pratchett and Adams were British, as of course was another great influence of mine, PG Wodehouse. Not that I don’t appreciate the humour of other countries, but there’s just something about the dry, erudite and/or absurd wit of my fellow islanders that speaks to my dyed-in-the-wool British soul.

Wodehouse is best known these days for the Jeeves and Wooster books, which spawned the delightful TV series starring an exquisitely young Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie (okay, I may possibly be showing my age here). He also wrote an immense number of other books, many of them romances featuring plucky young ladies, empty-headed sons of the aristocracy, irascible older relatives, and pigs. (Although the latter generally didn’t feature in the romance bit). All of them sparkled with his gentle, literary humour:

“Freddie experienced the sort of abysmal soul-sadness which afflicts one of Tolstoy’s Russian peasants when, after putting in a heavy day’s work strangling his father, beating his wife, and dropping the baby into the city’s reservoir, he turns to the cupboards, only to find the vodka bottle empty.” ― P.G. Wodehouse, The Best of Wodehouse: An Anthology

For me, letting an idea run away with me, or playing with words a bit, is half the fun of writing. Both Wodehouse and Pratchett were masters at taking an idea and running with it all the way to absurdity and back.

“If complete and utter chaos was lightning, then he’d be the sort to stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting ‘All gods are bastards!” Terry Pratchett, The Colour of Magic

I also loved Sue Townsend’s Adrian Mole books, starting with The Secret Diary of Adrian Mole Aged 13 ¾. Adrian is an adorably unreliable narrator. Much of the comedy comes from his confident (and hilariously mistaken) pronouncements about everything from politics to his parents’ tangled love lives.

“I have never seen a dead body or a female nipple. This is what comes from living in a cul de sac.” – Sue Townsend, The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole.

Terry Pratchett has said that writing is the most fun anyone can have by themselves. I’d tend to agree, but I’d add that probably the best thing about writing is connecting with readers. Laughter (this is the science bit) is a social mechanism that reinforces bonding within a group, so there’s something very special about sharing a joke with a reader.

I hope you’ll enjoy the humour in Spun!—and if you do, I’d love to hear from you! And if you’ve got an all-time favourite funny book, why not share it/a quote in the comments?

*or, indeed, most other aspects of comedy. Sir Perry, I kiss your rod**.

**This is by no means as rude as it sounds.

Okay, I will say this quickly to get it out of the way…I have never read a JL Merrow book before (I know, right?) and I am feeling like such a (as the author may put it) “silly git” for it. How have I never read anything by this author?

I decided to do this one on a whim. Merely because I was interested in seeing what the fuss was in this series being re-released and additional work added, as well. I still haven’t read Books 1-3, although I will endeavour to correct that as soon as possible. But wow, this was a lot of fun!

The reader, if not from the UK, needs to be willing to enjoy all the local dialect, and just hope you can get it all in context. There is a ton of that dialect, but it isn’t difficult to suss out most of the meanings, and if you have your UK dictionary downloaded into your kindle, you are golden!

There was so many fun aspects of this book. It was lighthearted, not angsty in the least, although I have to say I was anxious for these two men to get themselves together as a couple! A very slow burn this was, but with small children in the picture, and tons of exes hanging around, it was bound to happen.

David was such a doll! He had such a sweet temperament, and throwing out all his French endearments, as well as seeing his devotion to Gregory made him a character I wanted to know, in person. I wanted to meet David, and hang out with him, whether it was watching “the telly” or trying to cook dinner with him. His love of spending time with Rory’s children was wonderful to read. He truly adored those kids, before he even realized he was in love with their father.

Meanwhile Rory, what a gentle man. He really just wanted everyone to be happy, himself last. He never wanted to make waves, never to fight too hard. Yet he loved, it was so obvious how much he loved those around him, David included. He loved his time with his children, and cherished that time, and those kids as precious, even if he had to cancel time with someone else for them. He was meant to be a father, and a caregiver.

David and Rory together seemed to hit the perfect team. David, being more “worldly”, could easily have looked down on his new postman landlord, for his time with his bigoted mate, or his manner of speech, yet he never did. He always respected Rory. Rory was no different, always showing tremendous respect for David. They worked together on everything, and it showed their joy in spending time together, and with the kids.

What I enjoyed the most though was the enjoyment they found in each other. Cracking little flirting jokes, spending time learning to cook (and burn things) together, finding their way into a comfortable loving place.

I enjoyed JL Merrow’s writing, the subtle English humor, and venturing into learning what family can look like for two men who didn’t realize they were looking for a family in each other.  Looking at JL Merrow’s backlist, I believe I could be spending a lot of time catching up with everything happening across the aisle. And I’ll enjoy every minute of it.

4 pieces of eye candy

 

About the Shamwell Tales

Welcome to Shamwell! A sleepy rural village in Hertfordshire, England, it’s the perfect place to move to for a little peace and quiet—or at least, you’d think so. But as a succession of newcomers to the village find, there’s more going on in these idyllic surroundings than cricket matches on the common and pints of ale in the local pubs.

As a place where everyone’s connected to everyone else, Shamwell’s rife with mishaps, mayhem, and misunderstandings—and the path of true love is no smoother than the ancient stone walls of the parish church.

Each contemporary romantic comedy in this series stands alone, but all feature a cast of characters drawn from Shamwell and its surroundings.

Check out the Shamwell Tales, available from Riptide Publishing!

 

 

JL Merrow is that rare beast, an English person who refuses to drink tea.  She read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, where she learned many things, chief amongst which was that she never wanted to see the inside of a lab ever again.

She writes (mostly) contemporary gay romance and mysteries, and is frequently accused of humour.  Her novel Slam! won the 2013 Rainbow Award for Best LGBT Romantic Comedy, and several of her books have been EPIC Awards finalists, including Muscling Through, Relief Valve (the Plumber’s Mate Mysteries) and To Love a Traitor.

JL Merrow is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, International Thriller Writers, Verulam Writers and the UK GLBTQ Fiction Meet organising team.

Connect with JL:

Goodreads: goodreads.com/.J_L_Merrow

To celebrate the release of Spun!, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on July 8, 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.