Who We Are by Nicola Haken: Blog Tour, Reviews, Excerpt and Giveaway

Title: Who We Are
Author: Nicola Haken
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance

Release Date: March 13, 2017

synopsis

Since putting his life on hold ten years ago, Oliver Clayton doesn’t know who he is anymore. To his clients at the hair salon, he’s the sassy and confident stylist. To the crowds who come to watch his drag act at the club, he’s the fierce and fabulous Miss Tique. He’s popular. Talented. Out, proud, and self-assured.

He’s also a good actor.

Sebastian Day is content with life’s easy, if not a little monotonous, routine. After several failed relationships, he likes the simplicity of being alone in his truck at his job as a heavy goods driver, spending the weekends with his teenage son, and putting the world to rights with his cat, Marv. He’s not lonely. He isn’t hiding.

At least…he doesn’t think he is until he meets the mesmerising stranger with the red hair and purple lips.

Can Oliver and Sebastian help each other embrace who they are? Or will a cruel twist of fate end their journey before it’s even begun?

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Angie at Wicked Reads ~ “Very heartwarming story, the banter between these guys is so sweet. I can’t say enough about this book to do it justice, just read it, you will love it.”

Beverly at Southern Babes Book Blog ~ “Sebastian and Oliver’s story is beautiful and heartbreaking… These two amazing men are trying to figure out who they really are and together they figure out that they can do anything.”

Jodi at Alpha Book Club ~ “Oliver’s story will make you cry and stand up and cheer for how strong of a human being he is… Loved this story and would recommend to anyone.”

MJ at Alixzia Reading Corner ~ “I ache and bleed with this book for every page turned! Highly recommend!”

Deanna at Two Chicks Obsessed ~ “This might be my new favorite Nicola Haken book. Broken nearly broke me, thus becoming my favorite; but this one left me far more emotional and thoughtful. I think it’s taken the crown.”

giveaway

excerpt
Who We Are
Copyright © Nicola Haken 2017
~ Sebastian~
I WAS JUMPING down from my cab after arriving back from my last drop of the day when my life almost ended. Okay, so maybe I was known for being a tad on the dramatic side, but when Benny – my oldest friend and biggest pain in my arse -jumped out from behind my trailer, I almost choked on my fucking heart.
“Jesus Christ,” I muttered, breathless from the fright. “How the hell did you get in the yard?”
I’d been a heavy goods driver for thirteen years, working here at Patterson Haulage Ltd. for three of those – long enough to know they didn’t let pedestrians wander in off the streets to play hide and seek behind the lorries. Transport was in my genes, I guess. My dad had been a trucker all his life, and he met my mum at work – she worked as a clerk in the office. I never wanted to do anything else. I walked straight into my first warehouse job fresh out of school and stayed there until I was old enough to train for my Class 1 licence and could go out on the road. I loved my job.
“That old lady with the bright orange face let me in. Told her I needed to talk to you about Scott.”
“Scott?” Slamming the door to my cab closed, I fished my phone from the pocket of my Hi-Vis jacket and scanned the screen for missed calls. “What’s wrong with him?”
“Well, he likes Eminem, but hopefully he’ll grow out of that.”

 

“What?” Narrowing my eyes in confusion, I stared at Benny who looked to be admiring his thumbnail. 
“Nothing’s wrong with him. I just knew they’d let me come see your truck if I played the kid card.”
Rolling my eyes, I huffed as I turned and re-opened my cab door. Climbing the steps, I leaned inside to grab my holdall and tacho card before hopping back down. “You’ve seen a wagon before. You shouldn’t use Scott like that. There could be a real emergency one day.”
“And if there is I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t be the one anyone’d call about it,” he said, his tone amused as he ran his finger along the curtain of my trailer. “This needs a wash.”
“You offering?” I asked as I locked up the cab and started walking towards the transport office. I found it highly doubtful as I turned my head to the side and eyed up his leather coat, and beige turtleneck that no doubt he’d paid upwards of a hundred pounds for. Benny worked in recruitment. In other words, companies paid him far too much money to find them suitable candidates for their businesses, money which he wasted on overpriced shit he didn’t need. “Or did you come here for another reason?”
“I came because, as you know, it’s my birthday on Friday. The big three-four. I want y…” Pausing mid word, Benny spun on his heels. “Holy hot ginger.”
I didn’t need to turn around to know he’d spotted Rod, seeing as he was the only red-headed bloke who worked at this depot. “Christ, Benny. Keep it down. I have to work with these guys.”
“Chill out. The fact you’re mates with a gay guy won’t give away the big secret that you like cookies and ice cream.”
“It’s not a secret,” I snapped. Or maybe it was, given that I’d never told anyone I worked with that I was bisexual. My last two relationships had been with women, and ‘passing’ as straight was simply…easier. I was a copout and a liar but I was tired of explaining, defending myself.
There are a lot of misconceptions about bisexuality and I’d encountered most of them during my twenties. Now, at thirty-four, I was kind of exhausted with it all. I wanted to fall in love and create a future with another person as much as anyone, but I’d given up on the idea a while ago. Relationships, for me, whether with a man or a woman, seemed to consist of me justifying myself, reassuring my partner, or hiding – as Benny would say – the cookies or ice cream part of my sexuality.
I couldn’t just be me.

 

wasn’t good enough.
Contrary to popular belief, I didn’t want to sleep with everybody, and there weren’t twice as many fish in the sea, because most fish thought I was confused, greedy, unfaithful, trying to be trendy, or afraid to admit I was gay. The last one confused me the most. The number of people who believed bisexuality was a temporary label used to ease the transition to gaytown would never cease to amaze me. It happened, sure, but there were a hell of a lot of bisexuals claiming to be gay, or straight, for no other reason than they couldn’t face the stigma attached to it, too.
I was simply attracted to people. I got turned on by the way someone carried themselves, by their confidence, or even shyness. I felt the same stir in my cock and pull of excitement in my chest when I saw the rugged grooves of a man’s chest as I did the silky curves of a woman’s hips. People are beautiful. I couldn’t help it. It’s just the way I was made.
Thankfully, many people realised these days that being gay or straight wasn’t a choice. Unfortunately, some of these same people believed bisexuals were capable of making a choice, and that they should. Well, I tried that when I was a teenager. I tried to pick a side, to ‘fit’ in somewhere.
Unsurprisingly, it didn’t work out too well.
“Just tell me what you came for,” I added to Benny, pushing open the swinging door that led to the warehouse which, in turn, led to the office.
“Do you have Scott this weekend?”
“No. Lisa’s taking him to see Jenny’s parents in Cornwall. Why?”
“Great! You’re coming to the village for my birthday.”

 

Ugh. “Ah, you know it’s not really my scene.” I had my reasons for not frequenting the village, unlike Benny who spent so much time there it could be considered his second home. Besides, after a day on the road my idea of a good time was Netflix and a takeaway. 
“Yes, Mr Misery, I know having fun isn’t usually on your To Do list but it’s my birthday and you’ll hurt my feelings if you say no.”
We’d reached the office now and I handed my keys over to June through the window partition while raising a sceptical eyebrow at Benny. “Fine,” I said. “But as soon as you’re too drunk to notice whether I’m there or not I’m leaving.”
“I love you.” He turned to June who looked rather amused by my dickhead friend. “I love him, you know.”
“Knock it off, moron,” I said, ramming my shoulder into his.
“Watch the jacket!” he shrieked as he rubbed at the tan leather that made him look like a seventies pimp. “You’re covered in dirt and smell like oil.”
“Please excuse my friend, June. They don’t usually let him out unattended.”
“Don’t mind me, lovey. I’ve seen all sorts in my time.”
I risked a glance at Benny, whose mouth had dropped ever so slightly open. For a man who wasn’t easily offended, the image was priceless.
“You’re on the Midlands run tomorrow, lovey,” June added as she tapped on her keyboard.
Nodding, I told her I’d see her in the morning, swung my holdall over my shoulder and started making my way to the car park, all the while trying not to laugh at Benny’s reaction.
“Did she seriously refer to me as an all sort?” he muttered under his breath when we neared my car. I knew he wouldn’t let it go so easily. “Clearly, out of the all sorts she’s met none of them have been make-up artists.”
“Stop it,” I said, snorting as I clicked open the central locking on my matte black Ford Galaxy. “June’s lovely. A little old-fashioned, but harmless.”
“I’m sure. It just wouldn’t hurt for her to go down a shade or twelve in the foundation department is all I’m saying.”
Opening the rear door, I tossed my bag onto the back seat. “Have you finished being a bitch?”
“God, I hope not.”
Removing my thick, Hi-Vis jacket, I threw that on top of my bag, revealing my dark green uniform polo shirt, before closing the door and getting into the driver’s seat. “Is that all you wanted? You could’ve called or text.”
Benny leaned against my open door, hand on hip. “Told you, I wanted to see your big truck.” He winked at me.
I wanted so badly to roll my eyes, or at least keep a disinterested expression, but I couldn’t help chuckle at him.
“I was in the area, and besides, you’d have said no without my pretty face to seduce you.”

 

Probably. 
“And hey, if you want to bring a plus one your red-haired co-worker is more than welcome.”
Shooing him away from the door, I pulled it closed and brought the engine to life before rolling down the electric window. “Let me know when and where during the week,” I said, dismissing the idea of inviting Rod. He’d only been here for three months and I didn’t know the guy well, but the fact he had a wife and three kids told me Rod wouldn’t be interested in the kind of socialising Benny had in mind for him.
“Will do,” he said, tapping the roof of my car before backing away. “Don’t forget I have expensive taste!”
Shaking my head, I bit my lip to suppress the grin that wanted to escape as I reversed out of my space. I already had his present – a bottle of Dior aftershave, same as every year. It was the only thing I knew the fussy bastard wouldn’t return in exchange for store credit.

 

deanna review

I’ve read some of Nicola Haken before and as usual she ripped my heart out of my chest again. In the best way possible. (There’s a compliment in there somewhere.)

Oliver Clayton put his life on hold 10 years ago to raise his little brother after his mother died of leukemia. He works in a hair salon by day and a drag bar by night to make ends meet.

Sebastian Day is a truck driver. He lives alone with his cat Marv and spends weekends with his son, who he’s raising with his best friend and her wife.

The two meet at a bar and exchange numbers. Both of them will need to come out of their comfort zones if they want to see where this goes. Oliver us so used to living for his brother and Sebastian isn’t really living at all, instead choosing to spend down time at home with his cat.

After several weeks of dating things start to get serious. They introduce their families and start planning for the future. When a health scare puts Oliver’s plans on hold Sebastian will need to hold on tight and anchor Oliver to the life they have started creating together. With support from Seb’s friend Benny and Oliver’s friend Rhys, Sebastian and Oliver can’t look anywhere but forward, together.

I’m not sure where to begin. Even knowing Nicola’s writing, when she hit me with the plot twist I was left stunned. I felt like Seb and Oliver had climbed to the top of the mountain together and she just drop kicked Oliver all the way back to the start of the trail. I cried all over myself while he climbed back up, she totally made up for it. The ending was perfection.

The speed of the story was perfect and it was in no way predictable. She shocked my socks off a few times. The characters were lovable and relatable.

I really would like a sequel that tells Rhys and Benny’s story but I’m so afraid of what she will do to them to give them their happily ever after. In order to live up to this book she’s going to have to hit one with a car or something equally shocking and horrific.

This might be my new favorite Nicola Haken book. Broken nearly broke me, thus becoming my favorite; but this one left me far more emotional and thoughtful. I think it’s taken the crown.

5 pieces of eye candy

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erin

Whenever Ms Haken has a new release- I MUST HAVE IT! First the Souls of the Knight trilogy, which was so good. Plus, rock stars. But then she branched out a bit in her next 2 books. Both of them both broke my heart but left me happy. And she did it again.

When I first started reading this book I thought “hmm, maybe this will just be a nice love story romance and she won’t rip the heart right out of my chest and stomp on it”. HA! She did. And I am totally ok with that. Because her writing is so great that you have to feel deeply for her characters. They climb into you and won’t let go.

Oliver is a hair stylist just barely making ends meet while raising his brother. One night a week he goes out and performs as Miss Tique- his drag persona. And although he is in drag, he does it with his beard. And sings his own songs. I loved her.

Sebastian is a single dad, co-parenting with his best friend. And one night he runs into Oliver. Or Oliver runs into him. And he is smitten. The purple lipstick mesmerized him.

They begin to date, slowly. Each hiding the secret of the teenager at home. And while Sebastian is ready to go all in, Oliver isn’t. But fate has a different idea.

Even with everything life throws at them, they have a good slow romance burn. Both teenagers play heavily into the storyline which was nice because they really were integral to the story.

I don’t want to tell you too much about what happens. Because I really want you to read this book. Have tissues handy, but you will also smile and laugh and swoon.

4.5 pieces of eye candy

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teaser
meet the author

Nicola Haken lives in Rochdale, England, with her five kids – one of whom is a grown man who many refer to as her husband. She spends her days writing about life, love, and all the beauty and angst that comes with it, and her nights binge watching Netflix or being the household slave. She’s also not very good at referring to herself in the third person, so if you’d like to get to know her your best bet would be to follow her on social media!

Oh, and if the kids ever ask, she moonlights as the Pink Power Ranger while they’re sleeping…



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The Way to His Heart by Felice Stevens: Release Day Book Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

the-way-to-his-heart-banner

THE WAY TO HIS HEART

A LEARNING TO LOVE NOVELETTE

FELICE STEVENS

M/M ROMANCE

02.14.17

the-way-to-his-heart-cover

COVER DESIGN: Felice Stevens

COVER PHOTO: Stock Photo

synopsis

Love is going pretty well for Gideon Marks. He’s living with his boyfriend, Jonah, and his business is thriving beyond his wildest dreams. So why is he still worried he’s not enough, and all he holds dear will slip through his fingers?

Jonah Fine has everything he wants; he’s head over heels in love with Gideon and has finally stepped out from under the shadow of his father. Aware of Gideon’s continuing struggle with dyslexia, Jonah tries to reassure him that they are equal partners in their relationship by making their first Valentine’s Day one to remember.

Ghosts from the past reappear, sending Gideon into a tailspin. He must make the decision to either hold on to the anger he grew up with or forgive the pain he’s carried with him all his life. It will take all of Gideon’s courage, Jonah’s love, and a special surprise for Gideon to finally realize the one person he must learn to love is himself.

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excerpt

“Do you think I do that? Live with regrets until they’ve made me afraid to accept happiness and accept you loving me?”

I knew to choose my words carefully. “I think you’ve been alone so long it’s colored your outlook on life. And considering you’re one of the most fearless men I’ve ever met, I think it’s made you afraid to move forward. Your mother’s death and your father’s treatment of you left emotional scars. You have a hard time letting people in to help you.”
Gideon stood up, and I missed him immediately; I sat up and watched him pace the floor, holding his wine as he formulated his thoughts. My heart broke for him as I watched his inner turmoil break him down until he collapsed in the chair opposite me.
“I love you, Jonah. Thinking about being without you scares the shit out of me. I don’t want to be alone; I can’t anymore. But it’s not the being alone part that scares me. I’ve been alone all my life. It’s the being without you. I don’t want to lose you. Today made me realize how I could easily hurt you and push you away.” He gulped his wine then wiped his mouth on his sleeve and shuddered.
“It won’t happen.” I swung my legs off the sofa to go sit on the coffee table and face him. “I won’t let it.”
“I’m telling you. I’m perfect at ruining a good thing.”
“I’m not a good thing. I’m the best damn thing to ever happen to you.”
“I know that. But I don’t ever want you feeling like you have to stay with me because you feel sorry for me.”
I plucked the glass out of his hand and placed it on the table then stood and pulled him into my arms. “I feel many, many things for you—desire, absolute lust, but most of all, love. I’m with you because I love you, Gideon, and that’s never going to change.”
The pain in his eyes slayed me. When would he realize he deserved to be loved?
A slight smile curved Gideon’s lips. “Absolute lust huh? I think I like the sound of that.”

meet the author

Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. While life is tough, she believes there is a happy ending for everyone. She started reading traditional historical romances as a teenager, then life and law school got in the way. It wasn’t until she picked up a copy of Bertrice Small and became swept away to Queen Elizabeth’s court that her interest in romance novels was renewed.

But somewhere along the way, her reading shifted to stories of men falling in love. Once she picked up her first gay romance, she became so enamored of the character-driven stories and the overwhelming emotion there was no turning back.

Felice lives in New York City with her husband and two children. Her day begins with a lot of caffeine and ends with a glass or two of red wine. Although she practices law, she daydreams of a time when she can sit by a beach and write beautiful stories of men falling in love. Although there is bound to be some angst along the way, a Happily Ever After is always guaranteed.

SOCIAL MEDIA LINKS

Twitter:https://twitter.com/FeliceStevens1

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/felicestevens/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8432880.Felice_Stevens

Instagram: https://instagram.com/FeliceStevens

Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/felicestevensauthor?ref=hl

Newsletter: http://felicestevens.us8.list-manage2.com/subscribe?u=d43061d90bf2256eb322ed69f&id=586ac8fa57

giveaway

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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.

Jared’s Family by V.S. Morgan: Release Day Blitz and Excerpt

Series: Sequel to The Gift and Sam’s Temptation (can be read as a standalone)
Author: V.S. Morgan 
Genre: m/m, Interracial, Contemporary, Western 
Cover Designer: Tibbs Design
Release Date: February 14, 2017

synopsis

After witnessing his mother’s death, a once outgoing preschooler is now a quiet shadow of himself. The little boy suffers nightmares and rarely speaks, choosing to use the basic sign language he learned in daycare. Desperate to help his little nephew, Virge Stevens takes a leave of absence from the LAPD to bring Donovan, known as D to Montana for the therapy he needs.

A chance meeting at the library changes Virge and his nephew’s lives forever.

Jared Malone is one of five brothers, right smack damn in the middle. He is the peacemaker and the one who gets shit done. When his younger brother gets sick, Jared fills in reading to small children at the library. There he encounters a tall, dark, and handsome stranger and his cute little boy. Jared is immediately drawn to Virge but is still dealing with the betrayal of an abusive ex.

As the Malone family welcomes them to the ranch and into their lives, Virge’s instant attraction for Jared grows, but the cowboy is fifteen years younger than him. Will he be rejected?

Both men have secrets. Secrets that could destroy the connection between them. Can they overcome the odds and find happiness together?

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excerpt
Another blond cowboy stood in the middle, working with a horse. He had a long rope around its neck, guiding it around the ring at a quick clip. The shirtless cowboy spoke in a firm yet quiet tone. Virge nearly choked on his tongue, eyeing the golden skin and muscles on display. This was their cowboy.

The man whistled, and the horse stopped. He rubbed its shoulder, his back to them, as they reached the ring’s split-rail fence.

 


“Daddy!” D shrieked, and the horse whinnied and shied, bumping into the man as it swung around.

 


“Whoa, easy, Spike,” the cowboy soothed.

 


Virge struggled to prevent his nephew from launching out of his arms while the cowboy calmed the large, skittish animal. He’d never been near a horse and was struck by its size and power, which the other man skillfully controlled. As the cowboy turned, Virge saw a tattoo on his chest. A redwing blackbird with a rainbow-hued ribbon dangling from its beak. His heart beat a little faster seeing the colorful ink. Could he be gay? The cowboy handed the rope to a dark-haired man before pulling on a T-shirt that stretched tight over those muscles. He suppressed a disappointed sigh.

 


Nate chuckled. “You’ve got some explaining to do, bro.”

 


“Hi, I’m Jared. I remember you from the library.” He approached with a rolling gait Virge found extremely sexy and offered his hand after wiping it against his denim-clad thigh. Damn, he was built all over and tall, just an inch or two shorter than his own height.

 


Virge shook his hand, hyperaware of the firm grasp of warm, work-hardened skin. “I’m Virge, and this is Donovan. He goes by D.”

“Glad you could make it out—”

 


“Why did he call Jared daddy?” Nate interrupted.

 


“He calls all men daddy and women mommy. If he especially likes someone, he adds their first names. D doesn’t talk much, so he must like Jared.” What about this cowboy had inspired his nephew to talk?

 

meet the author

V.S. Morgan has lived all over the US but calls Minnesota her home now. Her family includes her hubby, teen son, and a menagerie of pets.

She’s been writing stories since she could hold a pencil and dreams of happily-ever-afters – even for two hot men – because love knows no boundaries. V.S. writes IRMC contemporary, paranormal, and suspense m/m and m/f with heart.

V.S. is a GLBT ally and a lifetime contributor of The Trevor Project.

 

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Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette by Killian B Brewer: Blog Tour, Excerpt, Giveaway

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synopsis

When Marcus Sumter, a short order cook with dreams of being a chef, inherits a house in small town Marathon, Georgia, he leaves his big city life behind. Marcus intends to sell the house to finance his dreams, but a group of lovable busybodies, the Do Nothings, a new job at the local diner, the Tammy Dinette, and a handsome mechanic named Hank cause Marcus to rethink his plans. Will he return to the life he knew, or will he finally put down roots?

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excerpt

When you don’t fit in with the family God gave you, you go make your own.

*

The diner took up a quarter of the city block; its silvery siding glimmered in the morning sun. A metal bracket jutted over the diner door and held a bright neon sign that flashed The Tammy Dinette: Stand By your Ham and Eggs. Below the sign, two tall and wide single-paned windows showed the bustle of the crowd inside. Marcus could see that most of the booths along the windows were occupied, and a tall redheaded waitress stood next to one of the booths furiously scribbling on a pad and nodding her head.

“Let’s go,” Skeet said as he hopped to the door and yanked it open. He swept his arm across his body and said in a terrible British accent, “After you, my good sir.”

Marcus grinned at the boy and stepped into the diner. The sudden rush of country music mixed with the murmur of the restaurant crowd, the smell of greasy food and coffee, and the glare of fluorescent lights from the Formica tables and counter tops flooded Marcus with a sense of relief and comfort. The last bits of tension slipped from his shoulders as he watched the two waitresses in pink uniform tops and skirts scurry from table to table as different patrons raised their hands to get each woman’s attention.

**

“Now sign here.” Raff pointed out a line at the bottom of a paper. “Then initial here.”

Marcus scribbled his name where instructed, then set the pen gently on the table. He read the final paragraph of the will to himself one more time. To my grandson Marcus, I leave all my other worldly possessions, my assets and most importantly, my house, so that maybe, just once in his life, that poor boy can have a real home.

“So, it’s all mine?”

“Well, it has to go through probate and such, but yes. Basically, it’s all yours.”

“And I have to live in the house? I mean, she says she wants it to be my home.”

“Oh, good lord, boy,” Helen said and laughed. “Your grandmother was a former mayor’s wife, not the queen of England. It’s a will, not a proclamation.”

“My mother is correct. You can do with the assets as you see fit, once her few debts are paid off.”

“So I could sell it?”

“If that’s what you desire. As a matter of fact, my wife, Katie Nell, is one of the most successful realtors in Marathon. I’m sure she could sell it for you in a heartbeat if you want.”

“Raff, you quit trying to drum up business for that nitwit wife of yours.” Helen picked up the pen from the table and inspected it before opening her purse and dropping it in. “Marcus, you don’t have to decide anything right now. Why don’t you spend a little time here and see what you want to do with it? How soon do you have to be back where you came from? Back in…?”

“Um, Atlanta.” Marcus let his eyes wander off from Helen to the photographs on the wall behind her. “No rush. Nothing important waiting on me there.”

“Then it’s settled. You stay here for a few weeks at least and see what you want to do. The other Do Nothings and I have already gone through your grandmother’s house and got it nice and clean for you. Of course, there’s no real food in there, but we’ll get you settled, and I’ll bring over something for you to eat tonight. Tomorrow, we will run you up to the Piggly Wiggly and stock you up.”

“Well, I guess I can stay until the house sells at least.” Marcus looked at the table as Raff slid a manila envelope across the table to him.

“Here are your copies of all the paperwork. There are a bunch of things in there. Here are the keys to the house.” Raff pushed a key ring across the table. “And I wrote Katie Nell’s number on the front of the envelope so when you get ready to sell—”

If you sell it,” Helen interrupted her son. “You never know, little man, we might just charm you into staying.”

**

Over the course of the next month, Marcus fell easily into the rhythm of his new life in the diner. The black ring around his eye faded, and thoughts of Robert and his mangled car began to fade as well. Francine and he perfected their frenzied dance around each other behind the grill when the diner was filled to capacity. As he worked, the familiar tools of spatula, whisk, and knife once again became extensions of his hand, and the smells of bacon frying and eggs cooking made his appetite for food and life return. The silly names the sisters invented for customers made Marcus belly laugh, the sensation of it bubbling up in his chest an almost-forgotten pleasure. With each passing day, it grew easier to rise early in the morning and catch a ride to the diner with Francine or one of the girls.

The only part of the day he dreaded was life outside the diner and returning to a too-quiet house filled with photographs of people who shared his face and name, but who were complete strangers. The house was in theory his home, but it still seemed as if he was intruding on someone else’s space. He hadn’t bothered to unpack the few clothes left in his duffel bag or put away the clean clothes from the laundry basket on the bedroom floor. In the silence of his grandmother’s house, he would hear the ringing of Robert’s plaintive texts, the nagging thoughts about what to do with his wrecked car, and the haunting words of his mother, “Baby, it’s time to move on.”

More and more, he lingered well past the end of his shift at the diner to avoid going to the house. Usually he would end his day by wandering over to the Do Nothing’s corner booth to check on the latest town gossip or to see how preparations for the hoedown were going. Marcus would shuffle his way into the booth and tuck himself between Helen and Inez so that the women could explain to him who each person they gossiped about was. Most of the names meant nothing to him until he began to connect them with their usual orders, just as he had at the Waffle Barn. The more stories the Do Nothings told about the customers who hurried in and out of the diner daily, the more the citizens of Marathon seemed like friends. He would sit happily silent and let the women’s laughter and rapid-fire words sooth his work-weary muscles as he sank into the padding of the booth.

But not today.

He had finished cleaning the cooking area, flung his apron onto its hook, and headed into the dining room. He’d been tired but, for the first time since Robert had pressured him to quit working at the Waffle Barn in Atlanta, he’d felt useful again. As he’d reached the kitchen door, he’d caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. Despite the hard work and grueling heat of the kitchen, he’d seen that he wore a pleased smile, a smile he wasn’t sure he had worn since the days after his mother and before Robert. He’d straightened his back and nodded at himself in the mirror. Hello, stranger. Where’ve you been? With the smile lingering on his lips, he had glanced through the porthole window in the swinging door and seen Hank Hudson standing at the counter.

Do-Nothings_FB

tco-author interview

Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Killian Brewer author of Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette.

Hi Killian, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

Hey, y’all! I’m Killian Brewer, though most people just call me Brew. I’m a Southern boy, raised in the land of peaches and peanuts. I grew up in a tiny little town in a house where we would entertain each other by telling stories. My father can spin a yarn with the best of them and taught me early to enjoy the fellowship of storytelling. I went to college and earned my degree in English Literature, mostly because of my love of a good story. Of course, like most English majors, I don’t use that degree at all in my day job, but it does come in handy for my writing.

My current novel, Lunch with the Do-Nothings at the Tammy Dinette, was inspired by the people I grew up around in South Georgia. I wanted to explore what life could be like for a young gay man who is suddenly transplanted in a small town with little understanding of the way of life there. In particular, I wanted to follow his search for love and a sense of family in a world where he feels like a fish out of water. I also wanted to write about older southern women, because I think they are awesome.

  • What genres do you enjoy writing in?

My favorite genre to write in is romantic comedy, but specifically I enjoy writing stories for the LGBTQ community that have a happy ending. When I was a kid, being gay and having a happy ending weren’t really options that I thought were possible. But when I grew up, I discovered that there is a whole world of happiness waiting for LGBTQ people. I want to write stories that show we should deserve, pursue and expect the same happiness that straight people do.

My stories tend to have a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor as well. My family always tells the same stories over and over and the tales we come back to the most are humorous ones. A pun or a joke is a thing of pride in my family, so I tend to write in a more humorous style. I especially enjoy the “meet-cute” tropes of romantic comedy and the humor that evolves from the awkward early moments of a relationship when people are learning about each other. Romantic comedy and the humor it provides tend to allow you to write situations that just nudge the edges of ridiculous and allow flights of fancy.

I also tend to write about “found families” (the family we create not the family we are born into) because I find this a common but fascinating aspect of the LGBTQ community. Even my friends who had accepting parents seem to find a new family that becomes the main source of support, understanding and comfort in daily life. Usually these “found-families” tend to be other queer people but more and more I see they are a spectrum of folks.

  • What was the hardest part about writing this book?

“Do-Nothings” is set in a small town in rural South Georgia. This is the world I grew up in and there are parts of it that are very familiar and make perfect sense to me but would seem odd to someone from another part of the world. Writing something I knew well but in a way that would make sense to people who did not grow up in that world was often difficult. I wanted to make sure I captured the way the older women in this area talk and the funny idioms they use, but the words have to make some sense outside of the narrative. I couldn’t assume a reader would instantly know what a thing was. Balancing between over-explaining and confusing the reader was challenging.

Also, I fell in love with my supporting characters in the book. I had to take great care that they did not overtake the story and shove my main character out of the way. I had to constantly ask myself, “does this serve the plot of Marcus and his search for self or is it running off the rails?”

  • What did you enjoy most about writing your book?

I had so much fun creating the members of the Do-Nothing Club. These old, Southern women are the type of women I grew up surrounded by. Their speech, motivations, beliefs and humor are very much a part of my life. While all four of the main women are loosely based on women I knew in my youth, I enjoyed being able to blend characteristics from different people together to create “types.” I took great care to make sure that my adoration of these women showed and it never appeared that I was mocking the women or their way of life. The women these characters represent are some of the greatest sources of love I have known and I wanted to make sure I honored that love.

  • What cultural value do you see in writing?

Writing allows us to show people a view of the world they may never know or encounter.  When I write, I hope to entertain my LGBTQ audience and show them a happy-ever-after to seek, but also to show a straight audience that though our worlds seem very different there are many things we have in common.

  • What is your favorite positive saying?

You can’t stop this big old world, so why let it stop you? I love the encouragement that this saying gives and the sense of fighting on in the face of adversity.

meet the author

Killian B. Brewer lives in his life-long home of Georgia with his partner and their dog. He has written poetry and short fiction since he was knee-high to a grasshopper. Brewer earned a BA in English and does not use this degree in his job in the banking industry. He has a love of greasy diner food that borders on obsessive. Lunch with the Do Nothings at the Tammy Dinette is his second novel. His first novel, The Rules of Ever After, is available from Duet Books, an imprint of Interlude Press.

Connect with Killian at killianbbrewer.com, on Twitter @KillianBBrewer, on Facebook at Facebook.com/KillianBBewer, on Pinterest at Pinterest.com/KillianBBrewer, and on Goodreads at Goodreads.com/KillianBBrewer.

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Buyout: A Love Story by Dev Bentham: Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway

TCO is excited to bring you the cover reveal of Buyout: A Love Story by Dev Bentham. Check out the synopsis, a short excerpt and then the lovely cover done by Catt Ford, @catt_ford

Guest Post

Thanks so much for having me here to show off Buyout – A Love Story’s gorgeous cover. Not only is it beautiful, but Catt did a great job of capturing the personalities of Sean and Martim. And I love her use of a nighttime shot of the facade of the The Praça do Comércio in the cover. The setting – Lisbon – is one of the things I loved best about writing this story.

I’m very excited that this novella will be coming out right before Valentine’s Day (it releases from Dreamspinner Press on Feb. 9th). What could be more romantic than second chances, love and Lisbon in the Spring?

synopsis

Everyone deserves a second chance. Or do they? Sean and Martim fell in love at Harvard. Things broke apart when Martim fell into a downward spiral of addiction after his father died. Sean kicked him out but has regretted it ever since. He’s never gotten over losing Martim. But then, not many aspects of his life have lived up to his collegiate dreams.

Now Sean is in a position to once again put Martim out on the street when he’s sent by his boss to evaluate Martim’s family hotel for foreclosure. In the time since they parted, Martim has pulled himself together, although both health and financial problems linger as a result of his years as an addict. Can the two men bridge the gap of distance and time to rekindle their relationship, or will they fall apart again under the burdens of guilt and disease?

Set in Lisbon, Portugal, this is the story of lovers reunited after more than a decade apart and their second chance at romance.

excerpt

Martim slid into the seat across from me. I smelled his shampoo and imagined that I could detect the fresh soapy scent of his skin. I had to quit thinking like this. I tried to picture him as I’d last seen him, strung out and naked with another man, but the emotional energy of that betrayal was gone. All I remembered was want.

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Dreamspinner Press

 

meet the author

Dev Bentham has lived in way too many places and had far too many jobs. She’s finally settled in frozen northern Wisconsin where she teaches online and draws on her former lives to write love stories about mature men searching for true love. Her restless feet take her globetrotting whenever she gets the chance, but most of the time she’s tucked up in her office in the woods dreaming about romance and adventure.
She’s the author of many gay romances, including a DABWAHA finalist, a Rainbow Award Honorable Mention and a Rainbow Awards Finalist.

Website: DevBentham.com
Email: DevBentham@yahoo.com
Twitter: @DevBentham
FB: https://www.facebook.com/dev.bentham

Dev’s Monthly News Flash, a little news plus a bit of original fiction – sign up at: http://eepurl.com/bNFX5f

 

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Leave a comment for Dev regarding the cover, synopsis or excerpt, and let her know what you think, for a chance to win an ebook from Dev.

 

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

A Collision with Reality by Storm Duffy: Release Day Book Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

TitleA Collision with Reality

Series: In Like Flynn

Author: Storm Duffy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 2nd

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 7100

Genre: Erotica, contemporary, UK, D/s, kink, businessmen, online chat, workplace relationship, erotica

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synopsis

Flynn’s new boss is so hot he can’t wait to get home to tell the chatroom how much he wants Dom’s cock down his throat. By Friday, he’s shared quite a few thoughts on what he’d like his boss to do to him. But he’s not as anonymous as he thinks, and Dom’s intent on disciplining him for breaching company policy on social networking. Dom gives him a choice of put up or shut up: he can play out the fantasy in real life, or he can walk out of the office without a word to HR as long as he never talks that way about Dom again. Flynn chooses “put up”—but he’s forgotten about one of the things he said he wouldn’t mind doing.

 

excerpt

The new manager was really something: tall, dark, and handsome, with a superb arse that looked great in a suit. Flynn wouldn’t mind seeing what it looked like out of the suit. Unfortunately the suit was respectably cut at the front, making it impossible to tell without staring whether the guy dressed to the left or the right, let alone how big his cock was.

Not the sort of thing one ought to be thinking about while listening to the big boss introduce the new manager. He barely caught the guy’s name—Dominic.

“Pleasure to meet you all,” Dominic said. “I look forward to getting to know you better over the next few weeks.”

Flynn looked forward to it as well. He particularly looked forward to getting to know him better in the gents, at least well enough to idly glance down and check out the cock. A pity he wasn’t likely to get to know Dominic in the gents any better than that, not in real life; but it was his own business what he did in the privacy of his own head.

And in the privacy of his favourite board online that evening. No wallet names, no ID. Not even your location listed unless you wanted it out there in the hope of hooking up with someone for a night’s fuck. A safe place to talk about just how much he fancied the new boss.

[New boss arrived today. Absolutely bloody gorgeous, if you like older men. Wouldn’t mind having him discipline me for poor performance.]

[Better if he disciplines you for good performance] an anon said.

[Oh, I think I could perform well for him.]

Flynn could think of a number of ways he could perform, starting with:

[Down on my knees with my mouth open.]

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meet the author

Storm Duffy has a number of erotica shorts published under that and other names in a variety of venues, including “The Mammoth Book of Quick and Dirty Erotica”. As Jules Jones, she has written several erotic romance novellas and novels, including the first M/M romance published by Loose Id.

Amongst the 2500 or so books on shelves in her house, there is room for rather a lot of cross-stitch thread and entirely too many balls of wool. There are also more bits of computer kit than is quite reasonable for someone who doesn’t do that for a living. The two microscopes, on the other hand, are entirely in keeping with a career in science.

Website  | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Smashwords | Livejournal

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Love Is Heartless by Kim Fielding: Cover Reveal, Excerpt and Giveaway

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Hi! I’m Kim Fielding, and I’m so excited to be here today to reveal the cover of my new book, Love Is Heartless!

The cover is by the very talented Brooke Albrecht (http://brookealbrechtstudio.com/), who did a great job capturing the mood. The cover gives a nice sense of the setting—Portland, Oregon. And if you look closely at the wall, you’ll see some relevant graffiti.

This is the second book in the Love Can’t series. If you missed Love Can’t Conquer, the first book, you can easily read this one as a standalone. But if you’re familiar with the first book, I think you’ll be happy to learn that this one stars Nevin Ng, the sharp-dressing, foul-mouthed detective who’s friends with Jeremy Cox. Nevin is generally a confident guy, but some chance encounters with a bow-tied property developer are about to throw Nevin for a loop. Expect a lot of swearing, some mysterious murders, and some surprisingly sweet romance.

Intrigued by that cover? Story sounds like your cup of tea? You can preorder Love Is Heartless now. And you can enter to win an e-copy of Love Can’t Conquer, along with a $10 Dreamspinner gift certificate.

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synopsis

Small but mighty—that could be Detective Nevin Ng’s motto. Now a dedicated member of the Portland Police Bureau, he didn’t let a tough start in life stop him from protecting those in need. He doesn’t take crap from anyone, and he doesn’t do relationships. Until he responds to the severe beating of a senior citizen and meets the victim’s bow-tied, wealthy landlord.

Property manager and developer Colin Westwood grew up with all the things Nevin never had, like plenty of money and a supportive, loving family. Too supportive, perhaps, since his childhood illness has left his parents unwilling to admit he’s a strong, grown man. Colin does do relationships, but they never work out. Now he’s thinking maybe he won’t just go with the flow. Maybe it’s time to try something more exciting. But being a witness to a terrible crime—or two—was more than he bargained for.

Despite their differences, Colin and Nevin discover that sparks fly when they’re together. But sparks are short-lived, dampened by the advent of brutal crimes, and Colin and Nevin have seemingly little in common. The question is whether they have the heart to build something lasting.

 

excerpt

Even though Colin had a head start, when he arrived at his building, the purple GTO was already there. In the fire lane. Colin generally stuck pretty close to the speed limit; Nevin, he suspected, did not. Colin pulled alongside Nevin’s car and lowered the passenger window. “You can’t park there,” he said loudly.
Nevin sat behind the wheel, tapping his fingers impatiently. “Nowhere else to park in your fucking neighborhood, is there? Not for the rabble, anyway.” He nodded toward the gated entrance to Colin’s lot.
“But it’s a red zone.”
“And every goddamn meter maid and gorilla in blue knows Julie. I’m not getting ticketed.”
Okay, so being a cop brought privileges. “What if there’s a fire?”
“Then your building goes up in flames, hundreds die, and you get to blame me. Satisfied?”
Colin had never been so tempted to wrap his hands around another person’s neck. It was lucky he couldn’t reach Nevin at the moment. “Fine. Meet me at my car.” He pulled away and into the lot.
Without exchanging more than a few grunts, they wrestled the heavy box across the street and up to Colin’s apartment. They had to put it down while Colin got out his keys and unlocked the door. “Don’t let Legolas out,” he warned as he turned the knob.
“Who?”
“My cat.”
They got the box inside, and Nevin kicked the door closed. “What kind of name is Legolas?”
“You know, the elf.” They set the AC down. “From Tolkien. Orlando Bloom was one of my first crushes.”
Nevin clearly had no idea what he was talking about.
“Lord of the Rings,” Colin explained.
“Never seen it.”
“You should. It wouldn’t wound your masculinity. It’s not Disney, there’s no singing, and no princesses.” He paused and thought for a moment. “Okay, there sort of is one. She’s an elf too. But mostly there’s a lot of fighting. Manly fighting.” He decided to omit the homoerotic undertones of Frodo and Sam’s relationship.
“I don’t watch that shit.”
“What do you watch? Car chases and explosions?”
Nevin shrugged. Then, instead of leaving, he ripped the flaps of the box open. “Gimme a hand.”

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meet the author

Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.

After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls the boring part of California home. She lives there with her husband, her two daughters, and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.

Website: http://kfieldingwrites.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/KFieldingWrites
Twitter: @KFieldingWrites

 

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12 Days of Kissmas: Cardeno C : Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaways

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TCO is so excited to bring you 12 Days of Kissmas. We have 12 of your favorite authors ahead over the coming days, bringing you beautiful pictures of men kissing that the authors have chosen themselves, along with exclusive posts, excerpts, and giveaways. The idea sprang from a conversation with an author that just turned into a “what if…”, and when I started asking a few authors, they immediately said they were in. Make sure you enter the giveaways, as there are lots of them! Thanks for stopping by, and a HUGE thank you to all the authors for their generosity, and loving spirit. Happy Holidays to everyone!

Guest Post

Favorite Kisses

I’m thrilled to participate in Two Chicks’ Twelve Days of Kissmas. I’m by far more a reader than I am a movie/TV watcher but I thought it’d be fun to touch on both types of kisses today so I’ll share a kissing excerpt from my book In Your Eyes and some movie/TV kissing scenes suggested by readers in my Facebook Group. What’s your favorite book, movie, or TV kiss?

  1. Just a Question of Love (Juste une question d’amour) – Laurent and Cédric. Watch on YouTube.
  2. Shelter – Zach and Shaun. Watch on YouTube.
  3. Glee – Kurt and Blaine. Watch on YouTube.
  4. Shadow Hunters – Magnus and Alex. Watch on YouTube.
  5. Days of Our Lives – Will and Neil. Watch on YouTube.
  6. Torchwood – Jack and Ianto. Watch on YouTube.
  7. Spartacus – Agron and Nasir. Watch on YouTube.
  8. Maurice – Maurice & Alec. Watch on YouTube

 

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excerpt

Excerpt from In Your Eyes by Cardeno C.

“I don’t understand what’s happening,” I confessed.

“Yes, you do. Stop thinking. Just feel.”

Before I could deny his assertion or ask what he meant or explain that using my brain was important, he closed the gap between us and pressed his lips against mine.

The feelings were already there—locked away, hidden, but there. His kiss led them out from the darkness where they were buried and showed them the light of day. He felt so good, so right, touching my face, smoothing his soft lips over mine, teasing my tongue into his mouth and letting me taste him. Before I knew it, I was reaching for him, tangling my fingers in the sides of his hair, and holding on to him, keeping him close, keeping us connected.

Without separating our mouths, he rolled on top of me and wedged himself between my thighs. I whimpered and felt him smile in response. All the while, he kept kissing my lips and petting my face. It was amazing—the warm caress of his skin, his scent surrounding me, the sound of him breathing. For the first time in my life, I was where I was meant to be, who I was meant to be. I was whole.

Gasping, I jerked back and stared at Korban. It wasn’t supposed to be possible. It shouldn’t have made any sense. And yet, suddenly, everything made sense and anything seemed possible.

“You’re my mate,” I rasped. “My true mate.”

“Yes.” He beamed, the sides of his eyes crinkling. He moved his fingertips over my eyebrows, my cheekbones, my nose, my lips, and my jaw while he gazed at me reverently. “And I am so very lucky.”

meet the author

Find More Information About Cardeno C. Here:

Website

Blog (shared)

Twitter

Facebook Profile

Facebook Group

Instagram

Pinterest

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Short Bio: Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense, contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.

Heartwarming Stories. Strong Relationships. Forever Love.

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For a chance to win a copy of In Your Eyes by Cardeno C, leave a comment about her blog post. What is your favorite kiss?

 

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The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews: Quick Review and Excerpt

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synopsis

If he risks his heart, can he keep his head in the game?

To win gold, figure skater Alex Grady must train harder than the competition morning, noon, and night. He’s obsessed with mastering another quadruple jump, and due to the lack of filter between his mouth and brain, doesn’t have a lot of friends. As for a boyfriend, forget it. So what if he’s still a virgin at twenty? The Olympics are only every four years—everything else can wait. Relationships are messy and complicated anyway, and he has zero room in his life for romance.

So it’s ridiculous when Alex finds himself checking out his boring new training mate Matt Savelli. Calm, collected “Captain Cardboard” is a nice guy, but even if Alex had time to date, Matt’s so not his type. Yet beneath Matt’s wholesome surface, there’s a dirty, sexy man who awakens a desire Alex has never experienced and can’t deny…

Note: This gay romance from Keira Andrews features opposites attracting, new adult angst, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

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Heather's Review

When I saw Keira Andrews had a new book coming out, and it was a pair of figure skaters, I might’ve gotten just a little excited! And for the most part, my expectations were met or exceeded.

What worked:
Two very different personalities. While Alex is laser-focused on winning Olympic gold, Matt has a much more laid-back approach, even before a horrible accident forces him to change his track. In the end, the two of them balanced each other well.

The journey. As I was reading, I found myself turning the pages, not only to see the men fall in love, but also to see if their dreams would come true.

The chemistry. These men didn’t instantly fall into bed together. They had to work for it. It was especially intriguing to see Alex go from a socially inept, self-centered elite athlete to giving a damn about other people.

The sex. What was there was awesome. It was hot enough you can feel the connection between these men. Matt managed to get Alex to relax, he proved to be as domineering in the bedroom as he was demure outside of it. The only problem was…

What didn’t work:

The sex. Of course, this is only my opinion, but there was a huge missed opportunity in the sex. Alex is strung as tight as he could be, so focused on the sport that he doesn’t know how to let go and live. When he gave into his own desires and Matt started in with the dirty talk, he was putty. It would’ve been great to see more of Matt being a centering force in Alex’s life, starting with forcing him to relax and live out his wildest dreams.

The jargon. Sadly, if The Next Competitor had been written by a new-to-me author, I’d have likely given up on it in the first two chapters. Yes, I was eager to read about two figure skaters falling in love, but at least for a while, that took a back seat to a primer in figure skating. It almost felt like she was trying to put in as much as she could about skating to show that she’d done her research.

Too many moving pieces. If I’d tried keeping up with all the different side characters, I’d have gotten a headache. Don’t get me wrong, it’s understandable that there are more than just the two main characters in the book, but there was too much back story about a lot of the side characters and I gave up on trying to remember who went where.

Overall, The Next Competitor was a fun little read. Part of me hopes we might get to see more of Alex and Matt’s story, because when the book ended, their journey was just beginning.

4 pieces of eye candy

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excerpt

After the group finishes dinner, Matt says goodbye as we leave the restaurant. “Where are you going?” I ask before I can stop myself.

“It’s my first time in Philly, and there’s one thing I’ve got to see.”

My mouth opens and out plops, “I want to go with you.”

Matt’s eyebrows shoot up. “You do?”

“Just don’t feel like going back to my room yet.” I shrug, my cheeks hot as all eyes land on me again. “But if you want to go by yourself, it’s totally fine.” Why did I say anything at all?

“No, it’s cool.” Matt smiles, his eyes crinkling. “Come on.”

We turn in the other direction from the hotel after Mylene, who is giggling delightedly for some reason, waves goodbye. Night has fallen and the air has a frosty bite to it that reminds me winter isn’t far away, which means the Olympics aren’t far away either. We walk along in silence for a bit until I have to say something to break it.

“So, which sight is it?”

Matt zips up his jacket and puts his hands in his pockets. “You can’t guess?”

I think about what Philly is famous for. “The Liberty Bell?”

“Nope.”

“Some memorial to Ben Franklin?”

“Guess again.”

“The cheesesteak museum?”

Matt laughs. “Seriously? They have a cheesesteak museum?”

I laugh too, warmth flowing through me. “I have no idea. If they don’t, they should.”

We pass a big fountain, walking through a park in the center of a wide, looping street, an imposing building in the distance. As we get closer, it hits me. “Wait, wait. Is this the Rocky thing?”

Grinning, Matt nods and points to the building. “Philadelphia Museum of Art, featuring the famous seventy-two steps Rocky Balboa ran up in the movie.”

“You a big Stallone fan?” I’m a bit surprised.

“Not really, but who doesn’t love that moment? Come on, it’s classic.”

“I’ll give you that.”

We keep walking toward the museum, which is lit dramatically. I hardly ever visit any sights when I’m traveling for competitions, so it’s a nice change seeing some of Philadelphia. A little voice still nags, saying that I should be resting and getting ready for my long program tomorrow.

Matt says, “My dad loves that movie. We used to watch it together when I was a kid, and it was like… I don’t know. Like it helped us relate to each other. He’s a plumber from a big conservative Italian family in Richmond Hill—you know, a bit north of the rink? Anyway, we don’t really have that much in common. It’s tough these days.”

He sounds forlorn, and I have to shove my hands in my pockets to keep from reaching out to touch his arm. Maybe things aren’t as perfect in Matt’s life as I thought.

I clear my throat. “I got lucky with my father. He’s always been pretty liberal. He was a hippie or whatever back in the day. We can talk about anything.”

“How does he feel about you skating?”

“Aside from not loving how expensive it is, he’s all for it.”

“My dad didn’t like me skating when I was younger. At all. I actually only started to improve my hockey skills, but soon hockey fell by the wayside. I don’t know if he’s ever forgiven me.” Matt’s laugh is strained.

“I’m sorry he’s not more supportive. That must be so hard.”

Looking both ways, we jog across the street to the museum, and Matt shakes his head. “Now that I’m doing so well, I think he’s happy. I’m sure he is. Well, I hope so. Besides, he’s worked his ass off for years to pay for it, so it’s not that he wasn’t supportive in that way. He totally was.”

“Totally,” I agree. Clearly Matt’s got a few conflicting feelings about his dear old dad.

“Still, I think deep down he’d much rather have some stereotypically macho, hockey-playing son rather than a figure skater.”

I’m not sure what to say, so I make an “mmm” noise to show I’m listening. I didn’t know Matt could talk this much in a row.

“I just wish he could love me for who I am. I’ve always tried so hard to make him proud, but I don’t know if he’ll ever accept a gay son.” Matt shakes his head and laughs. “God, sorry. I don’t know how this became a therapy session.”

“No, it’s okay. I don’t mind.” Wow, Matt Savelli has angst. He always seems so together and unruffled, but perhaps he’s not made of cardboard after all. And I knew my trusty gaydar was on the money. It shouldn’t send a thrill down my spine to hear Matt confirm it, but…

“You’re a surprisingly good listener.”

“Thank you? I think?”

His eyes crinkle in the glow of the street lamps. “No, no, I didn’t mean it like that. What I meant was… It’s been nice getting to know you better.”

“Yeah, you too.” My stomach somersaults again, my fingers tingling.

At the middle of the wide, empty stairway we stand at the bottom of the steps, peering up. I whistle. “Wow. That’s a lot of stairs.”

“Bet I can beat you up there.”

I do love a challenge. “No way, no day.”

Suddenly, Matt’s off and running, and I curse under my breath as I launch after him. He’s faster than I thought, and although I close most of the distance, he remains a stride above me as we power our way up the steps. My breath comes in bursts that fog up the chilly air, and I strain to catch up with him. We pass a few people who are coming down, and they applaud as we race by.

I manage to pull up, and we’re neck and neck as we take the last steps. We reach the top in stride, and Matt lets out a whoop of joy, raising his arms in the air and dancing in a circle. I join in, because that’s what you do when you run up the Rocky steps. I’ve never seen him so animated. Well, except for when he’s irritated with me.

We take in the amazing view of the city. Skyscrapers rise in the distance, and before us is the huge oval area we walked across surrounded by the road, with trees and grass and a statue of a guy on a horse I barely noticed passing because Matt was talking.

We jump around like idiots, working up more of a sweat than we did on the stairs, which weren’t actually that hard. Matt leans his hands on his knees, and I reach out to give his shoulder a friendly punch, but my palm just rests there instead.

A shock bolts through me, like I’ve just touched a metal doorknob in winter. We’re both breathing a little hard, and Matt gives me this long look that makes me want to throw him down right here and now and do things that would get us arrested and kicked off our national teams.

He stands up straight and my hand falls away as he steps closer. His voice is low. “Thanks for coming up here with me. It was way more fun than doing it by myself.”

All I can think of is something else that is way more fun to do with someone else—not that I’d know from personal experience—and I swallow hard, my throat suddenly dry. I manage to get out, “Sure.” My pulse thrums in my ears, and it’s not because of the running and jumping.

We lean toward each other. I’m staring at his thick lips as he licks them, and I am so turned on right now, imagining what those lips will feel like on mine, and how Matt’s hands and body—

“Hurry up!”

Matt and I leap apart as a little boy hurtles over the top of the steps. His parents and a few siblings follow, huffing and puffing from their climb. The parents say hello to us and we reply, and I’m glad it’s dark, because I know I’m blushing like crazy.

The father asks us to take their photo, and Matt does, telling them to smile. He gives the phone back, and we stand there awkwardly for a few moments. I clear my throat. “Actually, want to take a pic of me so I can Instagram it?”

“Sure.” He takes my phone, and I raise my hands over my head triumphantly with a big competition smile. It’s dark, but hopefully there’s enough ambient light since a flash will just make it look like shit.

I reach for my phone back, but he says, “Wait a sec.” Coming close, he puts a big hand on my shoulder, spinning me to face away from the museum as my heart thumps. He says, “I’ll get you from behind.”

Of course I practically choke on my tongue, my balls tightening at the thought as I gaze out at the city and try desperately to clear my dirty mind. Matt laughs awkwardly. “Um, you know what I mean.”

“Uh-huh.” I raise my arms. “Is this good?”

“Yep!” He sounds too cheerful now.

Once he’s got the picture, I take a few for him. “I guess we should…” I motion to the steps.
Matt nods. “Yeah, it’s getting late.”

It’s barely eight, but I murmur in agreement and start down. We descend side by side, not talking. It would seem weird to try and kiss him now. Or maybe I should stop overanalyzing and kiss him anyway. But wait, do I really want to kiss Matt? I’m not supposed to kiss anyone right now with the Olympics coming up, especially not Captain Cardboard.

But now that I’m actually talking to him, Matt’s different than I thought he was. He’s cool, actually. We haven’t even argued the whole night, and he wanted me to come out with him.

Well, he didn’t argue, and it’s not like I gave him a choice. He would have had to be totally rude to stop me from coming, and he’s too Canadian for that.

My palms sweat. Maybe he doesn’t like me at all. I think he’s cool now that I’ve given him a chance, but what if he thinks I’m a bigger jerk than he did before? And why should I even care?

“Is your family coming this weekend?” Matt’s voice sounds completely calm and normal. Maybe he didn’t really want to kiss me, but was swept up in the whole moment, or something. Or it was all in my imagination and there wasn’t a “moment” at all. I need to get a grip.

“Alex?”

I realize he’s waiting for an answer. “Yeah. They’re driving here tomorrow.”

“What does your mom do?”

I tell him about my mom’s work as an HR consultant, which I’m sure is fascinating for him. His mom’s a teacher, and we talk about that for a while, and before I know it, we’re back in the hotel.

In the elevator, Matt presses the eleventh floor. His hand hovers by the bank of buttons, and he looks at me expectantly. “Fifteen,” I answer.

Matt smiles as he steps off on his floor. “See you around tomorrow. Good luck.”

“See ya. You too.” I’m going for a casual tone and am moderately successful.

The doors close, and that’s it, like nothing happened. Which I guess is true.

Copyright © Keira Andrews

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Crazy Joe by A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly: Blog Tour, Excerpt

Crazy Joe Banner

Title: Crazy Joe

Author: A.J. Llewellyn & D.J. Manly

Publisher: Torquere Press

Release Date: September 7, 2016

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 25,000 Words

Genre: Romance, Police Procedural, Humorous

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synopsis

crazyjoe1400Montana Delray, a hot, good-looking New Orleans detective, had it made until his captain found him fooling around with his son at the office Christmas party. Even a gold shield and a medal for valor can’t save him from being busted down and transferred to the last place any cop wants to go—the 77th Precinct.

Detective Joe Hunter, nicknamed “Crazy Joe” because he has the sixth sense, flounders in a department where everyone has their “idiosyncrasies.” Then Montana Delray walks through the doors of the 77th and turns psychic Joe’s world upside down.

For the two mismatched detectives, is the 77th Precinct a nightmare or their destiny?

excerpt

Joe was pulling up to the curb. I pulled up behind him. I turned off the engine and watched him get out. Joe strolled over to my window. I lowered it. “Coming in, handsome? Or…do you dare?”

“You keep that up and I’ll drag you into the back of this car and do you right here.”

“Like Elizabeth?” He stuck out his tongue at me.

I got out, grinning. “Ha, ha.”

He was almost up to the door, a nice side-by-side duplex with red shutters and porch swing. He was putting the key in the door when I got up behind him. I pressed close, making sure he could feel how hard I was. I felt him tremble. “You’re giving yourself away there, Joe.”

“It won’t be that easy,” he said softly, pushing open the door. He switched on the light.

I looked down to see the tent in his pants. “Oh, okay. Are you sure about that?”

Joe inched along the hallway. He threw his keys on the sideboard and smiled. “You sure are a cheeky fellow.”

I reached out to him. “What did you call me, cheeky?”

Joe pulled away and pushed open the door to a bedroom. “Tell me in here.”

 Crazy Joe Square

I followed him and watched while he lowered himself on the bed. “Okay, so…Montana, show me what you got?”

I shrugged out of my jacket, undid my gun holster and placed it on the chair. I checked my gun and made sure the safety was on. I smiled at him as I approached the bed. “I assume I have carte blanche to do whatever I have to in order to earn my man badge?”

Joe lay back on the pillow. “Whatever you go, I can handle.”

“I have no doubt of that,” I said softly, licking my lips. I reached down and undid his shirt, one button at a time. I pressed my lips to each place as I bared his chest. When his shirt was completely open and I’d reached Joe’s waist, he let out a faint moan.

I lifted my head and looked at him. “What was that?”

“You’re a tease,” he accused, between gritted teeth.

“Yes, but I please,” I told him, pressing my lips to his chest as I undid the zipper on his pants.

“We’ll see,” he replied…

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meet the author

A.J. Llewellyn
A.J. Llewellyn’s obsession with myth, magic, love, and romance might have led to serious stalking charges had it not been for the ability to write. Thanks to the existence of some very patient publishers, A.J.’s days are spent writing, reading and dreaming up new worlds. A.J. has definitely stopped Google-searching former boyfriends and given up all ambition to taste test every cupcake in the universe to produce over 200 published gay erotic romance novels.

A.J. wants you to read them all. A.J. can be found lurking on Facebook and Twitter—part-time class clown being another occupation. When not writing or reading, A.J.’s other passions include juggling, kiteboarding, and spending a fortune buying upgrade apps for Pearl’s Peril and Farm Heroes Saga.

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D.J. Manly
I write not only for my own pleasure, but for the pleasure of my readers. I can’t remember a time in my life when I haven’t written and told stories. When I’m not writing, I’m dreaming about writing. Eroticism between consenting adults, in all its many forms is the icing on the cake of life but one does not live by sex alone. The story of how two people find love in spite of the odds is what really turns me on.

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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.