Patron by C.B. Lewis: Exclusive Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway

I’m C.B. Lewis and I’m delighted to be revealing the cover of my forthcoming novella, Patron.

I’ve always been a bit of a history geek and Patron was the first time I’ve really  had the chance to play so extensively with a couple of my favourite eras: Ancient Greece and Victorian England. As you can see, Blake did an amazing job with the cover, intertwining the eras in question.

If you have a hankering for Victorian Philhellenes (yay Greek-geeks) or a hint of the supernatural or a bit of both, this may be the book you’re looking for.

Theodore Wentworth, who possesses little more than a sharp and well-educated mind, is trying to solicit a sponsor for his studies of Greek antiquity by performing recitations at gatherings of collectors. Desperate for luck and better skills in oratory, in jest, he places a coin at the feet of a statue of Hermes. It seems like coincidence when his fortune turns and a gentleman calling himself Alexander becomes his benefactor. Despite his friend John teasing him about it, Theodore continues to offer tokens to Hermes and sinks himself into his study of the classics.

Alexander encourages Theodore’s interest, prompting Theodore to face desires he tried to put aside years before. As Theodore embraces the knowledge, he must also resist his attraction to Alexander—knowing his feelings are a serious crime in Victorian England.

But the secret Alexander keeps will change everything in a love story for the ages, steeped in taboo, temptation, history, and myth.

 

TCO Side Note: I LOVE this cover!!!!!

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Dreamspinner Press

 

The lamps were burning, thin coils of smoke winding toward the corniced ceiling. The soft glow illuminated the blank faces of masks and statues in their cases, the shadows stretching and shifting eerily around them.

One could almost imagine they were alive and watching.

Theodore squeezed the shilling in his hand. Making an offering to a statue was superstitious nonsense. He wasn’t in some pillared temple in Athens, and the gods certainly weren’t listening. It was all old-fashioned hokum, yet in the silence of the grand display room of Sir Thomas Drake’s London townhouse, it felt like something else.

One of the statues had his full attention.

Perhaps it had eyes once. Now the fall of the light left only darkness over a curved smile that seemed part threat, part promise. It should have been inconsequential, a slight youth who looked younger than Theodore himself. The figure held a staff in one hand, its other hand upraised, beckoning. Wings sprouted from its heels.

Hermes, the messenger, among many other titles.

Theodore glanced toward the doors. They would come for him soon, and, Lord, if he was intent on this nonsense—and outright blasphemy, if the Good Book was to be believed—then he had best make a start of it before it was too late.

The shilling gleamed in his palm, and he swallowed hard. What was the worst that could happen? Save being struck by the wrath of God—who didn’t like it much when his good English gentlemen toddled off to throw in their lot with the Greek pantheon—he supposed the worst was that Drake and his fellows would find out and he would be a laughingstock.

He set his jaw, then reached down among the statues and laid the coin at the feet of Hermes.

A book-lover from infancy, C.B. has been writing and telling stories for as long as she can remember. Based in Edinburgh, she has diverse tastes and will quite happily attempt to write any genre, but always come back to history, fantasy, and sci-fi like an old friend. C. B. Lewis is small and Scottish and can often be spotted perched around historical monuments with her notepad and pen.

She has been writing and telling tales for almost as long as she can remember, and has a brain that constantly fizzes with an abundance of ideas. If she’s not working on half a dozen things at once, it should be considered a slow day. She loves to travel and just has one continent left to complete her travel bingo card. A lot of the travel has also been research-based, and if pointed at any historical event, she will research it vociferously, just because she can.

Normally, she is based in Edinburgh, where she tends toward the hermit-lifestyle, needing nothing but a kettle, a constant supply of tea, and – of course – the internet. There are no cats, no puppies, no significant others, only a lot of ideas, and an awful lot of typing. And occasionally, cake. Never forget the cake.


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Past the Breakers by Lucie Archer: Release Day Review, Guest Post and Giveaway

Casey North lost everything when his restaurant burned to the ground: his hopes, his dreams, his reason for living. With nothing tying him to LA, he packs up and moves back to his hometown of Land’s End. He takes up residence in a beach house and attempts to shake the depression he’s fallen into after his life collapsed. There’s just one tiny problem: the ghost haunting his kitchen.

Myles Taylor wasn’t always trapped in the Between. One minute, he was about to propose to his boyfriend of five years as they sat out on their surfboards, and the next, he woke up on the beach to find his long-dead uncle walking toward him. After his shock fades,he must learn to navigate his new reality as he searches for a way to move into the Great Beyond. But first he must deal with the man who’s invaded his territory.

With Myles tied to the beach house and Casey unwilling to leave it, the two must learn to cohabitate as the lines separating them begin to blur. They grow closer than either expected, but what will become of them once Myles finally escapes the Between?

Title: Past the Breakers
Author: Lucie Archer
Release Date: May 15, 2017
Category: Paranormal: Ghosts/Spirits
Pages: 220

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Hey guys! Thanks for having me. On a previous tour stop, I did a top 5 list of surf destination from Myles’s POV, and to avoid Casey feeling left out, I thought I’d offer up one for him as well. Since he’s a chef, I asked him for a list of his favorite foods, and here’s what he said. (*Warning: you may not want to read this on an empty stomach.)

Casey North’s top 5 Favorite Foods (in no particular order):

  • Lobster

Casey can’t remember the first time he had lobster, but he imagines it left quite an impression. They didn’t eat it much growing up, but he always requested it for his birthday or special occasions. Most kids probably preferred pizza or hot dogs, but he likes to think he was born with a sophisticated palate. He’s eaten it so many ways from bisques to lobster mac and cheese, but nothing beats cracking into a freshly cooked lobster tail, dipping it in a rich butter sauce, and going to town.

  • Fish

Fish has a special place in Casey’s heart, particularly Pacific halibut. He has fond memories of going down to the pier with his father on Saturday mornings, casting a line, then taking home their catch of the day to prepare and cook. It’s one of the few happy memories he has of his father and something that helped form his love for cooking. And it’s healthy, blah, blah, blah, but the deliciousness helps to mask that.

  • Cheese burgers

This should be self-explanatory. Nothing beats a big, juicy burger piled high with cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, fried onions, and a nice dollop of mayo—side of fries optional. He loves making his own at home and likes to experiment with different meats, cheeses, and unique flavor combinations, but the best burger he ever had was in New York at this greasy spoon, hole-in-the-wall, all-night diner whose name he was too drunk to remember.

If he ever found the place again, he doubts it would live up to the legacy it left on his taste buds. Yum!

  • Mango

He doesn’t know when mango cemented itself as one of his favorite foods, but he loves to cook with it. Its sweet and succulent flavors compliment fish really well, so mango salsa heaped on top of grilled halibut makes his mouth water just thinking about it.

  • Ice Cream – Mint chocolate chip

This one needs no explanation, but he does have a fond memory of tiptoeing out of his room one night to sneak himself a bowl only to find his sister Rachel with a spoon of it showed in her mouth and a look on her face that could only be described as deer in the headlights. They made a habit of late-night ice cream socials until their mother walked in on them and grounded them both. But it was worth every delectable spoonful.

I rarely give 5 pieces of eye candy ratings anymore. The book has to leave a strong mark on me, be a book I would re-read, and hit me in the feels right from the get go (at least that’s usually how the 5* books go). The book does not have to be perfect. It can have editing errors. It can have little things that aren’t completely resolved. It can even challenge my basic sense of reality. However, if it doesn’t make that indelible impression, then it isn’t a 5* read for me.

Past the Breakers is the first one in recent memory for me. I have loved “ghost story” type romances since I read Knight in Shining Armor by Jude Devereaux back in, *cough cough*, well, a very long time ago. 🙂 Something about a love that transcends space, time, the physical plane, and our normal take on what is real and what isn’t always has been. Finding a book that can do that, and do it well, that’s even more rare. Lucie Archer‘s book did this for me.

First, I love that Casey was going through such a hard time. Overweight, without a job, or even his passion of cooking as a balm, he was so depressed and anxious, it was a wonder that he was able to be open to hearing Myles. Yet he was, and Myles came at a time when Casey needed his companionship, his focus and his love the most. Casey allowed himself to fall in love, despite all the odds against him falling in love with a ghost.

Meanwhile, Myles…talk about heartbreaking! What should have been the best day of his life, proposing to his boyfriend becomes the worst day when he dies and is stuck in the Between. He does get to see the most important man in his life, his uncle, from time to time, and that in itself was heart-wrenching, because you could see the bond they had had when Joe was still alive. And Myles finds himself falling in love with Casey, despite all the odds, as well.

When I read books like this, I try not to anticipate how it will play out, or what the ending will be like (because my rule is it has to be an HEA or I don’t read it!), but I admit I found myself a touch scared that this wouldn’t turn out as I hoped. Not because I didn’t think they would fall in love, but because I didn’t want the ending to be too easy, or weird. It wasn’t. It had my HEA, and even better, it was well thought out. It could happen. You never know what is out there in the world beyond our sight.

I truly loved this book. I loved their relationship. I loved how Casey grew and blossomed with Myles’s love, and how he was able to overcome his depression simply by working through it, finding a loving path to move forward on. I even loved how things ended with Uncle Joe, because I will admit, I had more than a few tears flowing at certain points in the book, but Uncle Joe’s love for his boy? That got me crying again.

This book worked for me on so many levels that even the relatively easy resolution of the bad ex-boyfriend didn’t bother me. I wanted to know more about Casey and Myles, James could go jump in a lake as far as I was concerned. 🙂

Pretty easy 5 pieces of eye candy for me

Lucie Archer is a student of the universe who is obsessed with the stars, in love with beaches, and crazy about dudes falling in love. She tells stories of romance, love, and life, with a little bit of passion thrown in for good measure. Because what’s life without a little pop and sizzle?

When she’s not writing, she can be found tending to her garden, playing with her four-legged children, or procrastinating. Although, she spends a lot of time fending off random plot bunnies that threaten to derail her WIP’s.

Website & blog: www.luciearcher.com

Facebook page: www.facebook.com/writerluciearcher

Twitter: www.twitter.com/Lucie_Archer


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Believe in the Wish by Christi Snow: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post, Review and Giveaway

TitleBelieve in the Wish

Author: Christi Snow

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: May 11, 2017

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: ~55,000 words

Genre: New Adult, enemies to lovers, forbidden love, twins, contemporary romance, mourning death

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I buried my twin sister six months after she found out she had cancer. Her funeral was three months ago. Today is our birthday and it started with delivery of letters from her.

It seems she didn’t trust me to move on after her death. She knows me too well. But how can I go on when my other half is just…gone? That’s not something I can recover from with a snap of my fingers. But I also can’t ignore her instructions even though I’d be perfectly content to cuddle up with my buddy, Johnnie Walker, and call it a year.

She has a list of things for me to do and there are rules attached.

There’s one major problem besides the fact it’s been three months since I left the house. I have to do all these things with her jerk of an ex, Hawk Simmons. He abandoned her shortly after she found out she was sick. If that wasn’t enough to make this a really bad idea, the fact that he makes an appearance in all my nighttime fantasies probably does.

I don’t think I can do this, but I owe it to my sister’s memory to try.

This is a stand-alone male/male contemporary romance novel.

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Building suspense without danger

The very nature of the style means that the reader is always wondering what’s going to happen around the next corner.

But when it came to this book I wanted to try my hand at suspense of a different sort.

No, there’s no danger or hidden attacker in this book.

What there is instead…*author cocks an eyebrow*…are some unanswered mysteries about how these two characters ended up in this situation.

Emma loved her twin brother Ethan.

That was never in question, so he just assumed that when she died he would inherit her half of their home and business.

That wasn’t the case.

Why would she require him to jump through all these hoops?

Impossible hoops.

Hoops like having to play nice with her asshole of an ex, Hawk.

Hawk is another mystery in this story.

The book is told from both Hawk and Ethan’s point of view, but it takes a while for the reader to see things from Hawk’s side of things. That was done on purpose.

I want the reader to question what exactly Emma was thinking here.

Emma knew she was dying.

She knew Ethan wouldn’t handle that well.

In the months leading up to her death, she made a plan.

A plan to make sure Ethan lived even when she didn’t.

 

 

And that’s all I’m going to say…

Happy reading.

Beware! The review ahead may just sound like a commercial for Believe in the Wish or for Christi Snow or for both. And I don’t care.

Let’s start with Christi. She is an author that definitely writes from her heart. She is an avid reader (one of the two or three blogs I watch religiously), and writes her characters with heart. AND, she doesn’t write the same character, just in a slightly different situation. She writes complex characters, that you have to invest time, and emotions into figuring out their motivations, their wants and needs, and where they will be going next. I love the depth of her writing, and I soak it up every single time one of her books hits my e-reader. (Example, she sent me this arc…I forced myself to finish what I was reading, then dropped everything to read this next). Read anything and everything from Christi and you will have a happy ending, and enjoy yourself along the way.

Now, the book. I read the blurb, and knew immediately that my heart was going to be ripped out. How could you not? And right from the first paragraph you see what a mess Ethan’s life has become since Emma died. They were everything to each other, and when she died, well Ethan felt he should have died instead. Watching his struggle, even in the first chapter, was difficult. He had taken grief to a level that is difficult to fathom, and the reader couldn’t help but bleed along with him. Then to find out that his sister had “betrayed” him and hadn’t really left him the house and business without stipulations. That’s a pain that can’t be measured.

As we move through the book, we find, of course, that Emma has a plan, and if Ethan and Hawk go along with her plan, Ethan will get what he had expected at the end. However, first Ethan has to walk through the fires with Hawk, and learn that maybe not everything with Emma was as open as Ethan had thought. The bitterness Ethan experiences with Hawk is what one would expect in that situation, and even when they have fun times, Ethan feels guilty because he has always wanted the man than Emma loved.

There was so much guilt tied up in Ethan’s feelings, and the author portrays is so beautifully. Guilt is a complicated emotion, and when Ethan enjoys himself with Hawk, he feels guilty. When he realizes that Emma is dead, and he is alive, he feels guilty. All these emotions that are wrapped up in how he feels about the two people he cared about the most, and getting past that isn’t easy. It takes time and patience, and maybe some smoldering hot kisses from a sexy man. 😉

The rawness of all the emotions Ethan portrays was difficult to read sometimes. You will cry. Grab tissues, and keep them handy. Christi does an amazing job of giving the reader just enough information and emotion to catch you and drag you in, while forcing you to hold on to all that, and wait to see what comes next in Emma’s plan.

I absolutely loved this book. If a book can make me cry, smile, laugh, and give me a happy ending, it is going to be a thumbs up. But when the author can make me believe that all these emotions are coming from a living, breathing human being, that’s a keeper and a re-read. Without question, one of the best reads I’ve had this year. The book hangover was worth every precious second. (And there was a bonus happy little note in there about Found At the Library, another Christi Snow fave of mine, that made me giddy!)

5 pieces of eye candy

Katya ended her call and promptly pushed the ‘away’ button for receiving phone calls. “I’m sorry. No more calls. They may not think so, but they can survive without me for an hour or so while we have our chat.”

Ethan’s stomach rolled over. That brought them to the question of the hour…chat about what? But he was almost afraid to ask at this point. Instead, he redirected. “Do you have your own firm, or do you work for someone else?”

She raised an eyebrow at him, but with a slight tilt of her head she must have seen something in his expression because she answered, “I own my own firm. When I graduated from law school, I went into a partnership that was later dissolved when I bought my partner out. It’s all mine now, which keeps me very busy.”

He grimaced. “And that’s further complicated by hermits like me who refuse to answer phone calls or mail deliveries. Sorry about that.”

“No.” She shook her head. “It’s time for you to stop apologizing. This is a hard time for you and that’s okay. To a certain extent, that’s the way it should be…”

She hesitated for a moment. “At least for a little while. You’re allowed to grieve. But Emma knew this would be an issue for you, so she made plans.”

“What kind of plans?”

Katya reached into her briefcase and pulled out a file. She reached inside and pulled out an envelope that she handed to him. On the front was his name, written in Emma’s handwriting. Suddenly it was hard to breathe.

“What is this?” he whispered.

“The first of your instructions. You need to open and read it.”

He didn’t want to. He didn’t know why, but he really didn’t want to. “I’d rather wait until I’m at home.” At his house, if he fell apart, he could do it without witnesses.

She shook her head kindly. “No, that won’t work. She was very specific in how she wanted this all to go. I need you to open it now.”

Ethan swallowed against the huge lump in his throat as he tried to find air to breathe. His heart pounded in his chest. Surely, everyone around them could hear that.

“It’s okay,” she said softly. “I promise.”

“That’s where you’re wrong.” He glanced up at her. “It’s never going to be okay again.” His voice cracked.

She lowered her lids, and her lips compressed into a tight line as if his grief was too much for her.

His hands shook as he turned the envelope over, lifting the sealed flap. It had to be his imagination, but he could have sworn that he smelled a faint whiff of the strawberry lotion Emma always liked to wear.

For just a moment, he shut his eyes and tried to calm down his emotions going haywire. He didn’t know whether to be angry that she’d done this to him, sad that she wasn’t here to tell him whatever information this letter held, or scared at whatever Emma had cooked up for him.

Throughout her life, she’d kept him hopping. As the exuberant, outgoing twin, she’d always dragged him into trouble when all he’d wanted to do was stay home. In that regard, this whole scheme of hers was very apropos.

He took a deep breath and pulled out the single sheet of paper and unfolded it. At the very first words on the paper, his eyes filled with tears.

Happy Birthday, baby brother.

He glanced up in disbelief at Katya. “It’s May fifteenth?”

At her silent nod, he gazed down at the paper in his hands, his eyes filling with tears. It was their twenty-fifth birthday. The first birthday he’d ever celebrated without her. She’d only been twenty-four when she’d died. How unfair was that? To her. To him. To the world that missed out on everything she had to offer it.
Emma’s handwriting wavered in front of his eyes, but he continued to read, not knowing what else to do. His other option—sobbing in the middle of the restaurant—would be mortifying.

I’m sorry I’m not there to go out partying with you. Remember when we were little and you didn’t want to share your birthday with me? Now you get your wish.

He’d been a horrible person. The tears overflowed his eyes. He’d made that wish more years than he even wanted to remember. How selfish was that? How could he have wished for a life without her in any way? She’d been his light.

Katya shoved a tissue into his hand.

Right. He was in public. Time to get it together.

My bad. It was probably too soon for a joke like that.

I love you, Ethan.

I know I didn’t say that enough—you know emotional displays and I didn’t mix—but beyond anything else that happens over the next few weeks, KNOW THAT. I love you, and if I could have figured out a way to stay, I would have…for you.

But God obviously had different plans for me, so now I’ll just have to content myself with being your guardian angel for the next seventy-five years. I’ll have your back, bro. I promise.

And in the interest of having your back, that’s why Katya is here.

I know you. You’re stubborn, and right now, I imagine that you’re more than a little sad. I get that, but that doesn’t mean you stop living. My death means you have to live twice as much because you have to do it enough for both of us. I’m counting on you.

But, again, I know you, so I’ve enlisted some help from my friends just to get you going.

Make a Wish, Ethan. Believe in it. It’s time to live.

~Emma

When Ethan finished reading, he took several deep breaths. The sobs had welled in his throat, and it was all he could just to hold them inside.

“You okay?” Katya asked.

“Yeah.” His voice sounded husky, but he’d managed to say the word, so he figured that for a win.

“Then it’s time for step two.”

He looked up just as she held a flaming lighter to the candle on top of a cupcake. She pushed it in front of him. “Make a wish and blow. All you have to do is believe.”

As he sat there, looking at the flickering candle, it occurred to him at just how sad this was. His twin was dead, and he was at some bizarre birthday celebration with someone he’d never even met before. Even from the grave, Emma was working to pull him out of his shell.

So he closed his eyes and blew as he made his wish.

I wish I wasn’t so alone.

But when he opened them, nothing had changed. He was still sitting in a restaurant with a woman he didn’t know, mourning the twin sister who’d died. Not that he expected a miracle, but Emma wanted him to believe.

Believe.

How was that even possible? She’d been the one who believed in the magic of things like wishes and fairy tales. What had that gotten her? She’d died before she’d even had the chance to live. What kind of magic could he possibly believe in with that kind of reality?


As an avid reader her entire life, Christi Snow always dreamed of writing books that brought to others the kind of joy she felt when she read. But…she never did anything about it besides jot down a few ideas and sparse scenes.

When she turned 41, she decided it was time to go after her dream and started writing. Within four months, she’d written over 150,000 words and hasn’t stopped since.

She’s found her calling by writing about sexy, alpha heroes and smart, tough heroines falling in love and finding their passion. She’s truly living the dream and loving every minute of it.

Her tagline is… Passion and adventure on the road to Happily Ever After. She’s loving this adventure!

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Google+ | Instagram

Tour Schedule

5/11 ~ Hearts on Fire Reviews

5/11 ~ Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/12 ~ MM Good Book Reviews

5/13 ~ Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

5/14 ~ Dog-Eared Daydreams

5/15 ~ Happily Ever Chapter

5/16 ~ Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy

5/16 ~ MM Book Escape

5/17 ~ Book Reviews Janisf & Leisha

5/17 ~ BFD Book Blog

5/18 ~ Dirty Books Obsession

5/19 ~ Reviews for Book Lovers

5/19 ~ Love Bytes Reviews

5/20 ~ Bayou Book Junkie

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Their Life As They Live It (Persepctives #4) by A.M. Arthur: Exclusive Excerpt and New Release Review

Bernard “Bear” Henson is a blessed man. He is happily married to the love of his life, he co-owns a successful business, and his grown son is desperately in love with a wonderful partner. But Bear knows all too well how precarious that happiness is, so he lives every day with love in his heart and gratitude for everything he has—especially his husband Richard Brightman. Richard has been HIV-positive for thirty years and every new day is a gift.

When Richard becomes unexpectedly ill and is rushed to the hospital, Bear braces for his beautifully constructed life to come crashing down. A hard-won life full of ups and downs, illnesses and setbacks, love and anger, and a lot of regret for how certain things went down. Certain things involving Bear’s alcoholic ex-wife Debbie and the start of Bear’s relationship with Richard. But the past can’t be changed, only remembered and studied.

As Richard fights for his life, Bear reflects on the last thirty years of their entwined lives. College days, his shotgun wedding to Debbie, his unexpected feelings for Richard, and the proudest moment of Bear’s life: the birth of his son Gabriel. Bear’s life with Richard is woven with love, heartache, regret, joy, and everything else in between. They’ve overcome every obstacle that’s come their way, and they’ll overcome this new illness, too. Period. Bear simply isn’t ready to live his life without Richard in it.

Note: This is the fourth book in my Perspectives series, and while it can be read as a standalone, readers will have a much richer concept of these characters if you’ve at least read book two, The World As He Sees It. Warnings for spousal abuse (not between the two heroes) and cheating.

 

Amazon

  

….1990

Certain things were impossible to forget: the way it felt when you broke your leg falling out of a tree at age eight; your first real, meaningful kiss; a spanking so harsh you really could not sit comfortably for the rest of the night. Along with those things, Bear could now file the sight and sounds of a woman giving birth.

Eighteen hours in labor, six of which Bear had tried to sleep away in an uncomfortable chair, so he could be there for everything. He was eager to meet his daughter or son. They’d both agreed to wait and be surprised—one of the few things they’d agreed on in the last nine months. Ever since she verified yes, she was pregnant for real, and then yes, he was the father, their lives had been a series of dramatic compromises.

“You can keep sucking your boyfriend’s dick if I get to name the baby.”

“Go see your boyfriend whenever, but you come home to our bed every night.”

“Miss this appointment because you’re with him, and I’ll disappear with your kid.”

Mostly Bear was compromising and it kept him trapped between two worlds: the world of raising his child with Debbie and the world of loving Richard. It stressed him out, and even while Richard had adjusted to his meds and started gaining weight, Bear was losing weight. Not sleeping. Working himself to death to provide for his family—and according to Debbie, he never, ever did enough.

But then she was finally in labor, and she was pushing. Bear let her squeeze the shit out of his hand, while he watched a head of dark hair emerge, sticky and wet, followed by a perfect little face. Shoulders and arms. And then the baby was out, nether parts hidden by scrunched up legs.

“It’s a boy,” the doctor announced. “A very healthy looking baby boy.”

Bear’s heart surged with more love than he thought possible at the sight of his perfect son’s squirming body, the sound of his cries. The nurse let him cut the cord, and then the boy was taken away to be cleaned up. Bear watched every single movement, every action, desperate to hold his son in his arms.

He looked down at Debbie, who was quietly crying. And not happy tears. He knew her well enough. Those were…unhappy tears? She’d been hoping for a girl, but their son was perfect. No need to cry.

“All right,” said the nurse holding the baby. “Mom?”

Debbie shook her head no. Undaunted by her odd reaction, Bear held out his arms. The nurse gently deposited the most perfect human being on the planet into his arms. The baby’s eyes were shut, but he emitted soft, smacking sounds. Tiny fingers grasped for something. Bear took in every single detail of the bundle in his arms.

“He’s beautiful,” Bear said. “My God, he’s perfect. Debbie, you did good.” He couldn’t look away from his son, while the doctor dealt with the afterbirth and a few stitches for tearing. That had to suck balls.

“Have you discussed names?” the nurse asked.

“A little,” Bear replied. He was so happy to have this precious baby in his arms, he didn’t care what name Debbie came up with. “It’s Debs’s choice.”

Still a little teary, Debbie said, “Gabriel. His name is Gabriel Aaron.”

“Gabriel Aaron,” Bear repeated. “It’s just about perfect, Debs. You wanna meet him?”

She wiped her cheeks, then nodded. As gently as he could, Bear eased his precious burden into Debbie’s arms. She still looked troubled, but who couldn’t smile at that pretty baby? “He looks like you,” she said.

“You think?”

“I do. He’s our son, Bernard. Our son.”

“Yeah.”

“Ours.” Her sharp tone caught his attention, and then it pissed him off.

He’d left her room twice since they arrived, both times to call Richard and give him an update. Gabriel was biologically Bear’s, but Bear was in love with Richard, and he wanted to share as much of this experience as possible with the man. He wanted Richard to meet his boy as soon as he could, and Debbie knew it. No matter what compromises Debbie demanded from Bear, Richard would be a part of his son’s life.

“You okay for a while so I can make some calls?” Bear asked. “Little Gabriel’s got two sets of grandparents who want to know he’s here.”

“Yeah, we’re fine.”

Bear pressed a supportive kiss to her sweaty forehead, and a loving one to Gabriel’s, then went in search of the nearest pay phone. He had plenty of change in his pocket in anticipation of today’s announcement. And he did exactly what he said he’d do: called her folks first, with all the vital information. They weren’t the nicest or most supportive people in the world, and he understood why Debbie had wanted to get away. But they mostly liked him, because he took care of Debbie, and they took the news well.

The official story they’d given the family was her first “pregnancy” had miscarried, but she’d “miraculously” gotten pregnant again a few months later. Everyone bought it, and it kept the complicated reason private. Waiting on Debbie hand and foot had also kept the particulars of their relationship—and likewise, his relationship with Richard—a secret from Bear’s family. They’d been proud of him for stepping up and marrying her, like any good Catholic would, but they’d breathe fire and brimstone if they ever found out about Richard. His parents and brother Pete would turn on him, and Debbie knew it.

She knew it, and she manipulated the hell out of him.

Bear’s parents were thrilled with the news. His father, especially, loved that there would be another Henson to carry the family name. They promised to pass the news to his brother. Then Bear made the third, but most important phone call.

“I have a son,” he said the moment Richard picked up the phone.

“Oh, baby, I’m so happy for you.” Richard whooped over the line. “How long have you been at the hospital? You must be exhausted.”

“I am but it’s okay. It was worth it to see Gabriel born.”

“Gabriel. It’s a lovely name.”

“It’s perfect. He’s an angel. I can’t wait for you to meet him.”

“I can’t either, as long as his mother allows it.”

Bear growled. “She doesn’t get a say in this. You are going to meet my son.”

“I look forward to it. You sound completely worn out.”

“I’ll get some sleep soon, I promise. I needed to hear your voice, tell you the good news.”

“It’s amazing news. You’re going to be a great father, Bear, I know it. You have so much love inside of you.”

“You’d be a great dad, too.” Bear didn’t dare voice the nebulous future he’d entertained more than once: him and Richard together, raising Bear’s child as a couple. Happy, the three of them.

Richard coughed softly. “Even I wasn’t gay, that wouldn’t be possible anymore.”

“Hey, medicine is advancing every day. Someday they’ll find a cure, I know it.”

“I hope so. For now, love your son. Support your wife. I love you.”

“Love you back.”

Bear reluctantly hung up, and his quarter clunked down with all the others. He could probably waste time making a few more calls, but the most important people knew. The gossip grapevine would take care of the rest. His boss said to take all the time he needed, but as soon as he got Debbie and the baby home and settled, he had to go back to work at the gym.

For now, he returned to the delivery room to bask in the amazing thing that was his perfect, beautiful son, Gabriel Aaron Henson.

Oh how I loved this book.

First, I have pretty much loved ALL of AM Arthur’s books. She has several different series but they all live in the same world and there is always a bit of cross over. Which I just think it so fun. Second, I have wanted Richard and Bear’s story for a long time. As the dad’s to the main character in a previous book AND the owners of a gay club frequented across series- I wanted their story. And we got it.

Richard and Bear’s story is told in a series of flashbacks while Richard is in the hospital recovering from an illness. This could have felt abrupt and forced, yet it is seamless. We go all the way back to the beginning- when they first met and became college roommates. Some of the flashback stories are long, some not so long. But all of them perfect.

And those flashback stories gave *me* some serious 80’s flashbacks.

Their romance that began as a friendship was so beautiful. I am kind of a sucker for older characters who have been together for a long time and have been through a lot. And boy did they go through a lot. Nothing was overly dramatic or for shock value. It was swoony without being saccharine, and sexy without being raunchy.

When you know that there is a happily ever after because you’ve seen it in other books in the series, but can’t wait to read it and see what happens- that is a good book and a great story.

 

Pieces of Candy: 4.5

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

Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post and Giveaway

 


When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.
Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.
But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

 

Title: Every Breath You Take
Author: Robert Winter
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 221 pages
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense
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Zachary Before Mata Hari

 

In Every Breath You Take, we meet Zachary Hall for the first time when he is about to enter the bar Mata Hari. He mentions that his friend Fred dared him to go to a gay bar once he reached Washington, DC, because Zachary was afraid to visit one in his home town of Ogden, Utah. Here is an exclusive scene from Zachary’s last evening in Ogden.

Chapter 0.5

Zachary pulled into the driveway of his buddy Fred’s house. He debated whether to go to the front door – which would require talking to Fred’s mother – or just wait for his friend to come outside. His manners got the better of him so he switched off the ignition.

Sure enough, Fred’s mother answered the door. Her unnaturally red hair was on the frizzy side, a cigarette dangled from one hand, and her housecoat was missing a button. He gave her a big grin.

“Hi, Mrs. Hansen. I’m picking up Fred for some pizza.”

“Well of course you are,” Mrs. Hansen gushed, and Zachary could hear slurred edges to her words. As she pulled him into a hug Zachary coughed when the smell of her cigarette went up his nose. “I can’t believe it,” she sighed. “Leaving Ogden, heading to Washington. It seems like it was just yesterday when you and Freddy were running around the back yard like you were Power Rangers.”

Zachary pulled back from the hug to escape the odor of smoke and sour wine rising from her housecoat, but not the hug. Mrs. Hansen had always been free with the affection and snacks when he was young, and had never minded sharing a few beers with Zachary and Fred when they were in high school. “Don’t tell Martha,” she’d always say. Like Zachary ever would have told his strict parents that he had a drink with his best friend’s mother.

A surge of affection and nostalgia washed over him. “Remember that Halloween when you tried to make a Red Power Ranger costume for Fred and it split right down the seat?” he asked.

Mrs. Hansen guffawed as she tugged him through the front door and closed it behind him. “Lord but he pitched a fit that night that he was going to miss trick or treating. I had to use safety pins to keep him from mooning the neighborhood because he was going back out no matter what!”

Fred came down the stairs in time to hear his mother’s comment. “Sure, yuk it up,” he called. “I nearly caught pneumonia from the updraft.”

Zachary shook his head fondly at his friend. Fred was shorter than him by several inches, and stocky where Zachary was lean. His thick glasses flashed his mock-indignation at his mother. His hair always seemed to need a cut and he tended to wear baggy button-down shirts because he thought they hid his slight belly better.

Mrs. Hansen ignored her son. To Zachary, she said, “Well, I know you don’t want to spend your last night reminiscing with me. If I don’t see you again before you leave, you be safe. Hear?”

“Yes, ma’am,” Zachary answered. “I’ll be back to visit my folks anyway, I’m sure, and I’ll fill you in then.” She gave another warm hug goodbye as she returned to the living room and her TV program.

Fred tugged Zachary’s arm. “Come upstairs for a minute before we head out.” Zachary followed him up the carpeted staircase and down the hall to the bedroom where he had spent countless hours in over the years. Nostalgia hit him again as he remembered playing Dungeons and Dragons in Fred’s room, along with their other good friend Frank. Weekend marathon viewings of Doctor Who when he slept over. Then later, furtive glances at gay porn websites while keeping one eye on the door in case Mrs. Hansen popped in without warning, as she often did.

Fred had a browser open on his computer and he pushed Zachary down into his desk chair before leaning over his shoulder to work the keyboard. “Look, this is a list of the gay bars I can find in DC. I figured you wouldn’t want to risk searching your computer at home.”

Zachary felt himself blushing. “I know. I should just get over it and come out already.”

“Hey, I’m not giving you shit. I know what your parents can be like.” He bussed a kiss on Zachary’s cheek. “Anyway, look. JR’s seems to be a popular one. And this one…” he pointed with his mouse, “Town Danceboutique. It’s got something on Fridays called Bear Happy Hour.”

Fred was practically bouncing on his feet, he was so excited. Zachary just felt trepidation. “You’d fit in better with the bears than I would,” he mumbled.

“It’s not like they’re going to eat you,” Fred said with an edge of exasperation. Then he grinned wickedly. “Well, unless you want them to eat you.”

“What’s this one?” Zachary asked as he pointed at the screen. “‘Mata Hari.’ That’s an interesting name for a bar.” They read the short description together. “Upscale piano bar. Now that sounds more like my speed.”

“Do you want me to print this list out for you?” Fred asked, but Zachary shook his head.

“My parents might find it. I’ll just look up the bars again on my phone when I get settled in Washington.”

Fred sat on the edge of his bed and sighed as Zachary rotated in the desk chair to face him. “I can’t believe you’re finally getting out of here. I wish I were coming with you.”

“I know, buddy. You can come for a visit whenever you want.” Truth was, he was really going to miss Fred, the friend his parents barely tolerated because of his free-spirited mother and his tendency to draw Zachary into trouble. If his parents only knew the kinds of things he did with Fred and sometimes with Frank, too, on weekends when the house was otherwise empty.

The three of them had been friends all through junior high and high school and had gone to college together. Having two friends who were gay – well, Frank was probably bi but he was too shy to approach a boy or a girl so it was all theoretical – meant Zachary had begun experimenting with them while they were still in school. When all three of them moved back in with their parents in Ogden after college, and with no other outlets, they kept up the casual sexing. Luckily none of the three ever seemed to get their feelings involved. What they had was friendship with the rare benefits those few times they were able to find a quiet place to scratch an itch.

Still, there was a comfort to their arrangement. Fred was really good in bed, though that might have been Zachary’s limited experience. He could suck dick for what seemed like hours, just getting Zachary or Frank worked up and close to coming then backing off, over and over. And he loved to eat ass, which was something Zachary had been squeamish about right up to the point that Fred swiped his tongue from taint to hole.

“I know that look,” Fred said.

Zachary grinned at him. “I wish we had time for one more go. You know, one for the road.”

Fred came over and ran his knuckles roughly over Zachary’s hair, just to piss him off. “Me too, bud. Well, maybe I can swing vacation time from the store and come visit you in DC soon.”

“I’d like that.”

“But look, Zachary. You’ve got to take the lead now.”

“What do you mean?”

“When I come out east, I’m going to expect you to be an expert on all the gay bars. And the bath houses. And the strip clubs. Whatever there is, I want you to be ready to show them to me!”

Zachary looked at his feet. “I’ll try, but …”

“No excuses,” Fred said sternly. “You get out there as soon as you can, get a drink at a real gay bar, find yourself a stranger and have some loud, raunchy sex you can tell me all about the next day!” When Zachary laughed awkwardly, Fred put a hand on his shoulder. “I double-dog dare you. Twenty bucks says you won’t make it to a gay bar your first month in DC.”

Zachary stood and folded his friend into a hug. “Okay, you’re on. I can’t say I’ll go home with a hot guy, but I’ll make myself go to one of the bars at least. Probably this Mata Hari place. So keep your twenty bucks safe because you’ll be sending it to me soon.”

“Excellent. Have a big adventure and tell me all about it. Now let’s go get some pizza.”

Check out Every Breath You Take to see Zachary find not only a hot man at Mata Hari, but unexpected danger.

 

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.
Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.
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Blog Tour Schedule
May 8 – Stories That Make You Smile | Books, Dreams, Life
May 9 – two chicks obsessed Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
May 10 – Oh My Shelves | Butterfly-o-Meter Books
May 11 – Bayou Book Junkie | Boy Meets Boy Reviews
May 12 – Urban Smoothie Read | Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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

Somewhere on Mackinac by Jeff Adams: Exclusive Guest Post, Quick Review, Excerpt and Giveaway

How far would you go for the man of your dreams?

Now that he’s single, Chicago businessman Jordan Monroe can finally take his long-desired trip to Mackinac Island for the Somewhere In Time fan celebration weekend. On the first day, Jordan finds himself attracted to Miles Colter, a handsome local stable owner who is giving horseback tours of film locations.

Jordan is surprised and charmed that Miles pursues him. When Jordan learns the stable is in trouble, he wants to help despite Miles’s resistance. As their relationship grows personally and professionally, Jordan dreads the issues that face them—an ex who won’t let him go, the complications of a long-distance relationship, and a secret he knows he shouldn’t be keeping.

Can Jordan and Miles find a way to forge a love as timeless as the romance in their favorite film?

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

Title: Somewhere on Mackinac
Author: Jeff Adams
Release Date: May 3, 2017
Category: Contemporary, States of Love
Pages: 113

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

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I’m happy to close out the blog tour for “Somewhere on Mackinac” here at Two Chick Obsessed.

Somewhere on Mackinac is part of Dreamspinner’s States of Love series, which sets romances in each of the fifty U.S. States. The book is set on Mackinac Island, Michigan and is the story of Jordan, a visitor from Chicago, a Miles, an Island native who runs his family’s horse stable. They meet because of the Somewhere in Time fan celebration weekend taking place at the Grand Hotel. They both love the 1980 film starring Christopher Reeve and Jane Seymour and it’s what initially draws them together.

Of course, even in the early stages of love there are obstacles to overcome. As you might have guessed, the fact these two live apart will be an issue. Chicago isn’t all that far from Mackinac, but it takes some effort to get there. It’s about seven hours with a car/ferry trip or three by plane. It’s not exactly a trip you’d make on a whim. For both guys, the distance factor is a significant one for a number of reasons.

As if distance weren’t enough, each of them at least one other thing going on that makes starting a relationship more difficult.

For Jordan, he’s also got ex-boyfriend baggage. Drake is suddenly makes moves about wanting him back and he’s going to some extraordinary lengths to try to get Jordan back. It’s the last thing Jordan needs as he’s thinking about starting something new. Plus, the reasons he broke it off with Drake haven’t gone away.

There’s also trouble with Miles’s business. The family stable is in trouble and while Miles doesn’t know what to do about it he’s also one of those men who doesn’t want to ask for help. Jordan, however, has the skills to help but getting Miles to accept assistance might be more difficult than actually saving the business.

Love can be a minefield of so many different issues, and yet it can be so worth it in the end. I hope you’ll pick up Somewhere on Mackinac and see how the magical place, combined with the guys’ favorite movie, work to help them see past the problems they run into.

The excerpt below gives you a glimpse of how Jordan discovers Miles needs help.

There’s also a Rafflecopter below where you can enter for the chance to win a free copy of the book. Feel free to leave question and comments as well. I’ll stop back over the coming days to leave responses. Thanks for stopping to check out Somewhere on Mackinac!

Suddenly, Miles’s voice was in the distance, and he didn’t sound happy. I couldn’t make out everything he was saying, but it was a heated discussion. Hopefully I could sit here, since I was off the road, and he’d ride by so there wouldn’t need to be an awkward moment.

“You realize this could be the end of our family business, right?” he asked.

The soft clip-clop of his horse was all I heard for a few moments.

“I bought you out because it was the right thing to do. Can’t you reinvest some of that money to help clean up your mistakes?”

He was right behind me.

“You may have left, but I still live here. It’s not my fault you got bored. I would’ve taken over everything and you know it.”

I willed myself to become one with the bench as the horse stopped.

“I gotta go.”

I held my breath, hoping he’d nudge the horse into moving. Silence prevailed. Maybe Miles was considering the conversation. Maybe he had a way to make horses go stealth. Maybe he was staring at the back of my head.

“How much did you hear?”

Option three was right.

I pivoted on the bench to look at him atop Wildfire. Of course, Miles looked great in a red plaid shirt and blue jeans along with the denim jacket I’d first seen him in. What I didn’t like were the worry lines around his eyes, or the way his forehead was deeply furrowed.

“Enough.” There was no reason for me to lie. “Anything I can do to help?”

“Not unless you’ve got a way to make my brother stop being a self-obsessed ass.”

I shrugged. “’Fraid I don’t have a fix for that.”

“Well, I’m sorry I disturbed you. I should get going, but hopefully I’ll see you later.”

Before Wildfire could even get a couple of steps, I got up and approached. He pulled back on Wildfire’s reins and the animal obediently stopped.

“Sounded like you’re having business problems.” I approached Wildfire so I could rub his nose. “Maybe I could help with that?”

“I’m not sure anyone can.” Miles tensed in the saddle.

“Business strategy is what I do.” I looked up at him. “I’ve never worked with a stable, but I’m happy to offer any guidance if I can.”

His sigh sounded like a breath he’d held for years.

“Honestly, it’d be good to talk to someone who doesn’t live here. Trying to keep it under wraps to keep the gossip down isn’t easy. Luckily, Mr. Walker at the bank maintains discretion.”

“Tight cash flow?”

“That’s part of it.” The tension in his voice implied there was a lot more to the story. “You really think you could help?”

“Maybe. Whether I can or can’t, I’ll certainly keep your confidence.”

Miles dismounted, and the horse gave a sound of protest while cocking his head to look at his rider.

“It’s okay, boy. I got something for you.” He pulled an apple from his jacket pocket, which the horse eagerly snatched. “See, it’s all good.”

The smile Miles had for the horse was unburdened and reminded me of the one I’d received from him just yesterday. He talked quietly to the animal as he led him to a tree to tie him up.

“You sure you want to hear this? You’re on vacation after all.”

“Tell me.” I gestured back to the bench.

 

As a teenager, I remember watching Somewhere in Time over and over. (It’s been many years since I’ve watched it, but I have it on order now! 🙂 ) I loved the tragic, but happily ever after story. So getting the chance to be reminded of that with Somewhere on Mackinac was not something I was going to pass up, and Jeff did a fantastic job interweaving Richard and Elise’s story gently throughout. He didn’t retell the story, he simply impressed upon the reader how important this movie was to both the MC’s.

I’ve been enjoying the States of Love series with Dreamspinner Press, because it is low angst, with the inevitable HEA, but also stretches out to find the little known pieces of the states we know and love. With this story, Jeff shows us all the little things about Mackinac Island, Michigan that most readers weren’t aware of: cars still not allowed, the Grand Hotel, even the tree from the movie.

Jordan and Miles are sweet together, as they venture into a short term relationship. As Jordan hides a secret, they find they are becoming more, and that adds stress to that new relationship. Finding a way through the secrets, and into a life together is a bit of a challenge for them, but all good relationships come with time, compromise and a willingness to try.

Of course there is an HEA, because all love stories must have one (even Richard and Elise’s), but my absolute favorite part of this was just reliving the joy from the movie from an entirely new angle. What a joy to bring these two things together.

4 pieces of eye candy

Jeff’s written stories since he was in middle school and became a gay romance writer in 2009 when his first short stories were published.

Jeff lives in rural Northern California with his husband of twenty years, Will. Some of his favorite things include the musicals Rent and [title of show], the Detroit Red Wings and Pittsburgh Penguins hockey teams, and the reality TV competition So You Think You Can Dance. If forced to pick his favorite book it would be a tie between Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and David Levithan’s Every Day.

 

He also co-hosts the weekly show Jeff & Will’s Big Gay Fiction Podcast with his husband. You can learn more at BigGayFictionPodcast.com.

Links:

Website: http://jeffadamswrites.com

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriterJeffAdams

 

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

Romancing the Ugly Duckling by Clare London: Exclusive Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway


Is this the makeover of a lifetime?
Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.
Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.
Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

Dreamspinner Press

Also available:

Romancing the Wrong Twin by Clare London

 

This is my second Dreamspun Desires title, and continues the “Romancing the…” theme. You can see the fab little logo that Bree Archer designed for me!

This is a contemporary romance, with lots of humour, romance and sexiness, set in both London – my home city – and the remote Scottish island of North Uist. The contrast is extreme! And that’s reflected in the shock poor Perry Goodwood feels when he’s sent from his smart media city setting to the bleak wilds of the Highlands. To say nothing of meeting the grumpy, reclusive – but handsome – crofter Greg Ventura. Much fun, culture shock, misunderstanding, and soul-searching ensues, on the peat-boggy road to a HEA.

Today Romancing the Ugly Duckling goes on pre-order, in both paperback and ebook. It’s very exciting for me, and hopefully will brighten up a reader’s day too. I hope you enjoy this post, the cover reveal, and my celebratory Giveaway today.


After the meal, they settled in the living room again. Greg poured himself a glass of what he introduced as his homemade wine, but Perry politely declined a glass for himself. He couldn’t recall any decent wine he’d ever drunk being that particular shade of purple. He was definitely making a mental shopping list for when he could find somewhere civilized, and gin and tonic would come several steps above couscous on that.
Greg picked up a book and started reading. Perry waited a while—after deciding against asking what they could watch on the miniscule TV in the corner of the living room, with obvious dust settling on the controls—then coughed to get Greg’s attention. “Where do you need me tomorrow?”
Greg peered at him over the book. “What are you talking about?”
“Working together, remember? Um. What exactly do you do, apart from painting?”
Greg’s look was possibly sly, but that could have been due to the waning light outside the cottage.
“Sometimes I work in the Sea Bird restaurant.”
Perry thought he remembered seeing a sign to that place on his journey here in Dougie’s car. The building itself had been very small, more like a tea room, with a single light on in the front porch, and it didn’t look very open for business. But he’d go with the flow. “Are you a chef?”
Greg laughed. He seemed more relaxed tonight. “No, I think you’ve realized my cooking skills aren’t the best. And it’s not really big enough for a chef and full kitchen staff. I mean, it wouldn’t meet your London standards.”
“That has nothing to do with anything.”
“What?”
“My London… standards, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’m in Uist now, and I want to know what you do here.”
Greg was looking at him oddly. Was he, Perry, coming across as too bossy? God, this man was impossible to gauge properly.
“It’s more of a large dining room where friends can hang out.” Greg still sounded reasonably relaxed. “It’s owned by a couple of elderly sisters who are marvelous cooks, and we sometimes hire it out for a celebration. We’re not big on dinner parties here, you can imagine. I help out with serving when it’s busy. But mainly I provide the fish dishes, especially scallops.”
“You’re a fisherman?”
Greg nodded slowly, his gaze still on Perry. “Yes, you could say that. I’m a diver. I dive for scallops.”
“Can’t you just… I don’t know.” Buy them in a shop? “Don’t they have official suppliers?”
Greg frowned. “Hand-collected scallops are better. The sweeter ones are chosen, and the dish is more precious. Haven’t you ever tasted the difference?”
It pained Perry to admit weakness, but he did. “I’ve never had scallops in my life.”
Greg’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you lived in the center of the sophisticated city?”
“We can’t all afford posh restaurants,” Perry snapped back, then blushed at—yet again—having to admit shortcoming.
“Oh.” Greg blinked. “Well, you’ll see them in the raw when you come out in the boat tomorrow with me.”
“When I…? Tomorrow…? Boat?”
Greg smiled slowly. “Yes. The weather should be fine, so I’m driving west past Lochmaddy to one of my favorite coastal seawater lochs. I’ll pack some provisions so we can eat lunch there. You can help carry the equipment, then collect the scallops into boxes and keep watch for me.”
“We… I….” Perry was struggling for words. Worse, Greg seemed to realize it and find it highly amusing. “I’ve never been in one.”
“One what?”
“Boat. I’ve never been in a boat. Well, until the ferry two days ago.”
Greg nodded, also slowly. “That’s fine. You can stay here if you want.”
“No!” Perry’s cry was instinctive. Did this brute of a bloke think he, Perry, was a lightweight? “I will not! We made a deal.”
“Okay. Well, I hope Bridie brought a selection of decent waterproofs as well as your day clothes, because you’ll need them.”
“You said the weather should be fine….”
“Just in case,” Greg said ominously. He concentrated back on his book.
Perry sat silently for a long moment. In fact, everything was silent, inside the cottage and out, apart from the occasional call from a bird, and Greg turning a page. Perry wasn’t used to such quiet. Nor was he used to living in close quarters with a man who barely tolerated him, and actually wanted him to get lost. There was a small pile of paperbacks on the table beside Greg’s armchair, and Perry picked one up. He also wasn’t used to reading anthologies of horror stories, his preference being for romantic comedies and the occasional biography—but he supposed there was always a first time. Opening it to the first chapter, he bit back a sigh. At least he’d won this stage of the battle with Greg Ventura, and he had more time to convince him about the TV project.
But thinking about the trip out onto a likely freezing Scottish loch tomorrow, he wasn’t sure whether the price would be too much to pay.

 

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

 

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.
Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.
Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her here:
Website: http://www.clarelondon.com
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Romancing the Ugly Duckling is based on the culture shock of town meeting country. What’s your favourite – the busy, lively bustle of city life or the quiet, picturesque calm of the countryside? Would you move to one or the other, given the chance?

I’m offering a $10 Amazon giftcard for one lucky commenter who shares with us the kind of setting they like best, and the reason why!

 

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

Vodka & Handcuffs by Brandon Witt: Exclusive Guest Post, Release Day Review and Giveaway

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?

Title: Vodka & Handcuffs
Author: Brandon Witt
Release Date: April 26, 2017
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 112

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

Kobo Books

 

There are moments in life that change your trajectory.   That is most definitely true in the case of love.  For me, it was my friend insisting I get a beer with him in the middle of the day.  For my boyfriend, it was going to lunch with his friend and then grabbing a drink in the middle of the day.  Our paths collided, and we’ve been together ever since. I am not a bar person at all.  Nor am I a beer person.  It still seems strange to me that had I not broken my normal patter than day, I’d be living a very different life six years later.

I wanted to share an excerpt that highlights that very quality for my two lovers in Vodka & Handcuffs.

The same is true for how Marlon and Vahin meet.  Marlon had a shit day of traffic patrol.  His partner, Andrew, is a racists jerk, and annoying too boot.  Marlon just needs some time away from him.  That’s all he needs, really.  Well, he needed it more than he knew…

He needed to cool down before meeting the guys at Brother’s Bar. It would be nothing but talking shop, and at the moment, he wouldn’t be able to keep his tongue in check when it came to Andrew. Not that the others wouldn’t understand. They all pretty much hated Andrew, which was one of the main reasons Marlon had the privilege of being his partner. Marlon was about as difficult to rile up as a bushel of frozen cucumbers, at least that was how Chief Schmidt worded it. Still, if Marlon said too much, it was sure to get back to Andrew somehow, and he would make Marlon’s life even more miserable.

Part of him almost wished he’d let Andrew do something. Something that would be big enough to negate Andrew’s ties to his senator uncle and former police chief grandfather. Although, that big enough something would’ve come at the cost to an innocent family who’d had the misfortune of a bike accident.”

The possibilities that flooded his mind the past few months rushed through him like a hurricane. Thirty-eight wasn’t too old to start a new career. He’d been on the force for fifteen years. That was a good amount of time, for anyone. A life change could be what he needed.

Except it hadn’t even been a thought until Andrew started occupying the passenger seat. Andrew had been a pain in the ass since day one, but he was steadily getting worse. It was only a matter of time. And Marlon didn’t want to be anywhere near when that time came. But he didn’t want to stop being a cop either. He loved being a cop.

At least he used to.

He could move. California had always been alluring. But he was too much of a family guy to want to leave Denver.

Marlon pulled his car into Brother’s Bar parking lot, slammed it into park, and smacked his open palm onto the steering wheel, imagining it was Andrew’s face. He’d have to talk to the chief, again. One of these times, he’d listen. And screw cooling down. He needed a drink, and if he happened to spout off too much about Andrew, then so be it. He turned off the engine, got out of the car, and halted.

“Oh. No fucking way.”

He narrowed his eyes and glared at the red sports car glowing directly under the street lamp illuminating the parking lot. He didn’t need to inspect. Didn’t even need to see the vanity license plate to know it was Andrew’s. Just his damned luck. Andrew hated the guys as much as they hated him. It only made sense Andrew would choose this night—the night when Marlon was more fed up than he’d ever been—to try to be one of the boys.

Marlon slipped right back into his car and peeled out of the lot, cursing under his breath. He drove for a bit longer, then realized he was cruising up 17th Street—the old gay section of 17th Street.

He’d spent many an hour at JR’s when he was younger and at the Wrangler after that. Both were now gone, making way for upper-class, straight, yuppieville.

The new Hamburger Mary’s caught his eye; at least a bit of the old gayborhood was left, refurbished or not. He drove past it without a second thought. Drag queens weren’t his thing. Although… he’d heard the new location had more of a sports bar feel to it. It didn’t sound as relaxing as unwinding with the guys, but if he couldn’t be with other cops, at least he’d be around gays. And most importantly, Andrew wasn’t there.

He made it about another half mile before he turned around.

 

On the 8th of May, please pop on over to Boy Meets Boy for the final Vodka & Handcuffs blog tour, where I’ll give you a sneak peak at what’s to come.

Blog Tour Schedule:

April 19 – MM Good Book Reviews

April 24 – Joyfully Jay

April 25 – Open Skye Book Reviews

April 26- The Novel Approach

April 26 – Alpha Book Reviews

April 27 – Love Bytes

April 28 – Divine Magazine

April 28 – My Fiction Nook

May 1 – Two Chicks Obsessed

May 8 – Boy Meets Boy

One of the things that I enjoy most about Brandon Witt’s books is that there are always aspects of the books that you just don’t find in many other m/m romance books. Vodka and Handcuffs is a perfect example of that type of book.

Vahin, a man who when disowned by his Muslim family for being gay found a family at Hamburger Mary’s, accepted his life as it was. In his 30s he decided to stop the hookups, enjoying his job at Mary’s. A drunken hookup up with a partially closeted Marlon wasn’t in his plans, but after Marlon’s bad day with an openly racist partner, they ended up in bed. Once they were sober, working their way towards a potential relationship was a challenge.

This novella hit on so many issues that are relevant in today’s society. First, open racism and bigotry (sadly) has become more rampant in recent months, and Brandon hits on this from both Marlon and Vahin’s POVs. Even with the characters being gay, the more challenging  piece was working their way through Marlon’s partners disgusting comments and actions. These are not easy issues to tackle. In the m/m romance genre, often any sort of bigotry is portrayed due to the characters sexuality (which does come into play as well), but the characters’ skin color was just as much a conflict to be addressed. I really appreciated that Brandon used this as conflict in the book. It happens, its realistic. Being gay can be and often is what causes characters to engage in hate crimes. However, the primary conflict here was not merely the characters sexuality, but their race as well.

The love and appreciation between all the side characters in their self-made family was evident. I can’t wait to see where this series continues to move forward. Brandon has done a stellar job with this series so far.

Side note: I think I am going to be hitting Hamburger Mary’s during my time in Denver for GRL. 🙂

4 pieces of eye candy

Brandon is offering up one of his backlist titles (and there are some amazing 5 star reads in that backlist, just saying…) to one of our readers. So give him a big congrats, and let him know what you are looking forward to most about reading Vodka & Handcuffs.

 

Brandon Witt’s outlook on life is greatly impacted by his first eighteen years of growing up gay in a small town in the Ozarks, as well as fifteen years as a counselor and special education teacher for students with severe emotional disabilities. Add to that his obsession with corgis and mermaids, then factor in an unhealthy love affair with cheeseburgers, and you realize that with all those issues, he’s got plenty to write about….

Website:  http://www.brandonwitt.com

Author Facebook Page:  http://bit.ly/2jxsfVu

Dreamspinner Press:  http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/AuthorArcade/brandon-witt

Brandon’s Patreon Support page:  http://bit.ly/2j58PdQ

Twitter: https://twitter.com/wittauthor

Amazon: http://amzn.to/2p7a2lc

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4896623.Brandon_Witt

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCO5cFqYKyNyDCxExAonFPRA

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

Monthly Author Column: Victoria Sue Talks MPreg includes Excerpt and Giveaway

Another fun monthly author column with Victoria Sue!

TCO side note: Victoria Sue made me read my first mpreg, so I read The Alpha King, expecting a baby to pop out of the omega around every corner. (I’ve been in the “NOPE” category for years). Surprisingly, I enjoyed the entire book, including the mpreg. I don’t think they will become my go-to books ever, but I definitely had a good time reading, and am now waiting for the next book in the series…but don’t tell Victoria or she will gloat. 😀

“Call the Midwife” 😉

 

I unashamedly admit I wrote Alpha King for me. I’ve heard the term “book crack,” and that pretty much sums up my love for this book. Bossy, handsome Alpha with wall to wall muscles and a protective streak a mile wide. Smaller, but fierce omega who saves his Alpha’s life only to put his own in mortal peril.

And then to complete the package with a big red bow – it had to be MPreg.

Men having babies or MPreg as its often called in books is one of those love it or hate it subjects – but whichever side of the fence you fall on, and there are definitely more and more people climbing over it, it’s here to stay.

There is a discussion forum called Mpreg Central which has over eleven and a half thousand members! It’s associated face book page has a thousand, and the small group on facebook I belong to “MPreg Book Rec” started in 2015, is over 600 members strong and new people are joining all the time. I’m not going to even start on the thousands of fanfics dedicated to the phenomenon.

Makes you think?

Well, how about this – last year surgeons in the US performed the first uterine transplant surgery on a 26-year-old woman. The process is nine hours long, and then approximately one year later doctors will implant embryos that were created using in vitro fertilization. The lady will have to take anti-rejection drugs throughout the pregnancy and then either the uterus will be removed, or it will be allowed to disintegrate.

The same fertility clinic that has done this procedure states they are less than five years away from being able to perform this surgery on a man. And before you wonder why they should – think about trans women. Many women are desperate to have their own child and having chatted to some transgender ladies in this position; they understandably feel the same way.

The science is there. Unfortunately the money is not. To give you an idea; a heart transplant—something successfully undertaken for years—currently costs over a million dollars.

Can you imagine how much a pioneering operation would be?

Luca swore succinctly.

“Sire, Kit also saved your life in the arena,” Sam said flatly.

“What? No, that was you,” Luca insisted.

“Kit warned me. I don’t know how, but he shouted to me. He saw something before I did and I was already running and had my knife out before I saw Malik’s blade. If he hadn’t, I wouldn’t have been fast enough, and you, Sire, would be dead.”

Luca drew in a harsh breath.

“Sire, I’m worried because I think he’s unwell,” Molly put in.

“W-what do you mean?” Luca’s heart pounded so hard it threatened to escape his chest.

“He’s eating hardly anything. A lot of foods are upsetting him…”

Luca nearly closed his eyes in despair. Surya take my heart. How could he have been so blind? It was him. He was the one Kit had spoken of. Kit didn’t have any confidence in Luca’s love because he had been so busy lording it around being Alpha King he had forgotten about the one person who was responsible for making him the King in the first place. Kit had been left alone for days and this was all Luca’s fault. Kit had done nothing wrong, and Luca had treated him appallingly. He didn’t deserve him, and Luca should be whipped for how he had treated him. Surya didn’t need to take his heart, he had lost it a long time ago to a much bigger one.

“Sam, we shift and search. I want Asher to follow with weapons and blankets.” He looked at Asher. “Choose two men and follow the best you can with supplies. Get water, also.” Asher nodded and stepped away. Luca followed Sam towards the woods, Sam stripping as he walked.

“Sire.” Luca paused as Gabriel shouted urgently. “Sire I have been trying to speak to you for days. There is something you need to know.”

“Not now, Gabriel. I promise as soon as I have Kit safe we will talk.”

“No, Sire,” Gabriel took a close step in determination, “this is important and has to do with Kit.”

Luca stopped, the urgency in Gabriel’s voice finally making him pause, and at the same time he remembered putting Gabriel off before. “What is it?”

“You know I have been going through the old texts on pure omega matings. You asked me.” Luca nodded. Worry settled like stone in his gut.

“The thing is, Sire, I don’t think Kit is ill.”

Luca shook his head in exasperation. He had thought Gabriel had urgent news, not just something comforting. “We can argue that when I get him home.”

“Sire, I don’t think Kit is ill. I think he is pregnant.”

No one spoke. No one moved. Luca swallowed. “What did you say?” He had misheard. Gabriel didn’t—

“According to the old scrolls, Alpha Kings never used breeders, ever, and it didn’t matter which sex their omega was. Look.” Gabriel got a sheet of old paper from his pocket. “I found this tucked in one of the old books. It’s a likeness of Aristaad and Oliver, the first Alpha King and his pure omega. Oliver was definitely male.”

Luca nodded. He knew the history.

Gabriel unfolded the piece of paper. It was a drawing of a couple. The likeness of the Alpha King and his omega was clear. They were both turned sideways and their tattoos were visible. It was the appearance of Oliver, the omega, that was so shocking. He leaned back into his King as if Aristaad were supporting him. Aristaad’s hands were both circled around his omega’s body. What was completely stunning was the huge round belly on Oliver, and Aristaad’s hands laid on it protectively.

“Oliver was pregnant, Sire.”

Luca closed his eyes in desperation. What the hell had he done?

Amazon

 

 

What do you think? Could it happen? Leave a comment and you could win an ebook of any of Victoria Sue’s backlist.

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

False Start by Sloan Johnson: Exclusive Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: False Start

Author: Sloan Johnson

Series: Wilmington Breakers Book 2

Cover Artist: Cover Me DarlingMarisa-rose Shor

 

Nixon Cross isn’t wired to share his life with anyone. He’d considered a relationship once, but after the one man patient enough to put up with all his quirks shut him down, he committed all of his energy to football and helping his players. Now, one of his players need more help than Nixon can provide and his former flame is the one man who will know what to do.
Retired NAFL player Lincoln Sims had no choice but to stay in the closet; he was a professional athlete at a time when it was impossible to be honest about his sexuality. After retiring, he confessed his secret to his wife and son because he was tired of living a lie. Now, he’s ready to live his life. Nixon Cross is the man he left behind but could never forget.
Can these men find a way to recover from their false start years earlier?

“Nixon, you can tell me it’s none of my business if you want—”

“It’s none of your business,” I deadpanned. If he was starting off like that, I was sure he was getting ready to dive into a topic he had no place talking about.

“Not going to stop me,” he shot back, taking a sip of his own drink. “What really happened between you and Lincoln Sims?”

Aww, hell. I could lie or I could tell the truth; both options were equally unappealing. I wasn’t a liar, unless you counted carefully avoiding topics I’d rather stay buried as lying. But if I told the truth, there was a chance I’d be outing Lincoln, and that broke the second rule I lived by: never make a promise you can’t keep and never break a promise made. I chose to do what I did best; go for the vague response. “You know how it is. Life gets complicated and sometimes you drift apart.”

“Look, I’m not trying to upset you, but I need to know if him being here is going to do just that. I’m already dealing with the show, rookies who don’t think they should have to play by the rules now that they’re out of college, vets who’re certain we’d never cut them because they’re invaluable to the team, the league’s coming down on me about the situation with Zach, Zach trying to pretend he’s not waiting for the world to crash down around him, and the list goes on,” Teddy rambled, leaning in close enough to speak without fear of being overheard. “While it’s not healthy for you to do the very thing we’re trying to break Zach of, I’m willing to act as a buffer if there’s a reason you don’t want to see or talk to Lincoln while he’s in town. I need you focused on getting those boys ready, and right now, I’m pretty sure the only reason they’re busting ass in the gym is fear.”

“Nothing wrong with that,” I quipped. I often wondered if Teddy got sick of having to act as a buffer between me and the rest of the world. He’d been doing it for years now, and it definitely wasn’t something he’d counted on when I was hired.

“There is when they’re all pushing so hard,” Teddy countered. “It’s not just Zach I’m worried about. A few of the veterans have come to me, asking what’s been going on with you for the past week. And the only thing I can think of that’s changed is I asked you to talk to Lincoln. So, I’m going to ask you one more time; are you capable of being around him without it fucking you up more than it already has? You don’t have to tell me why talking to him affected you the way it did, just assure me you’ll work on pulling your head out of your ass.”

“You have my word,” I promised. And speak of the devil, Lincoln chose that exact moment to walk onto the patio. Our eyes met and what felt like a jolt of electricity zinged through my body. I could feel Teddy watching for any sign of discomfort, ready to kick me out if he thought it was best for my emotional stability or current lack thereof. Shrugging him off as I stood, I took the first step towards reconciling my past. At least for the next few days, Linc was going to be in town and I’d do everything in my power to keep my promise to Teddy.

And now, the hotness of this cover…

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Ready???

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a Rafflecopter giveaway


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