The 12 Days of Hipster by Raine O’Tierney: Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

12-days-of-hipster-coversynopsisLast Christmas, Tyler Lang accidentally accepted David Griffith’s invitation for dinner. Yes, it was an accident. See, hipster (don’t call him that!) Tyler doesn’t date guys, and even if he did, he certainly doesn’t date jocks. A rude and hasty exit right when the date was getting good left things awkward between them.

David Griffith isn’t really a jock. Well, he’s a former athlete who loves sports, but “jock” has a certain connotation that doesn’t quite fit the intelligent, hardworking store owner. A jock wouldn’t have given Tyler Lang the time of day. But even after that little, ahem, stunt with the fire escape, David can’t stop thinking about the hipster a year later. Which would be fine if fate didn’t keep butting her nose into their business, making it impossible for the jock and the hipster to avoid each other this Christmas.

A hilarious holiday romp, set to the music of the Winter Sounds.

Title: The 12 Days of Hipster
Series: The Avona Tales: Book Two
Author: Raine O’Tierney
Release Date: December 19, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: 240

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Guest Post

We need to go, take the car and drive… ~ The Anthem is a Gift, The Winter Sounds

I love road trips so much.

I know other people find riding (or driving!) for long distances boring. But I really enjoy blasting my music, singing along with my travel companions, and talking at length about anything and everything.

On that long, very flat, stretch of road between here and home, I find myself thinking up the greatest stories, too!

In The 12 Days of Hipster, my newest Christmas story, Tyler Lang, consummate hipster, follows his love interest, David, on an impromptu road trip to Colorado.

An insane spur-of-the-moment decision, these two unlikely lovers pack up everything and just go.

It’s lucky for our two MCs that close confines + long distances + really excellent music make the heart grow fonder.

What about you? Do you like road trips?

With Kindness and the Open Road!

Raine O’Tierney

excerpt

Okay, fine. If he couldn’t get out of this with direct and sound logic, he would try the irrational. The completely, totally—did he say completely?—irrational. Tyler tightened his grip on David’s hand, leaned forward, and kissed him. But before a full second had passed, David burst out laughing against Tyler’s lips.

Tyler yanked back, heat suffusing his face.

“What?”

“That was the sourest prekiss expression I’ve ever seen.”

“That’s it, I’m leaving.”

“Tyler, you don’t have to go.”

“No sparks. Only laughter. Must leave.”

“No sparks because you looked like you were in physical pain and made me laugh. Why don’t you be a little more romantic about it?”

“Because I….” Don’t know what in the hell I’m doing. It was probably the first time in his life he really could say that. He’d learned things before. There had been a time when he hadn’t known how to knit, when he hadn’t known how to make gourmet chocolates, when he hadn’t known how to use a soldering iron—but those were just learning opportunities. But with this? He felt like he was standing out naked on the corner with only mistletoe to cover his bits.

“More like this.”

The second kiss was what Tyler would have called sweet if the word had been in his vocabulary. David’s lips were warm, soft, giving, and for a moment the kiss lingered on that edge of innocent, like a snowflake dancing through the sky. Then the world tipped and Tyler’s hands were in David’s hair and David was drawing him closer and, motherfuckinggod, they were kissing. Hard, searching lips, taking and giving, and it took him way too long to realize what he was doing. In fact, he might not have ever realized it if they hadn’t needed to breathe like humans do. It took a long moment for rational thought to come back to Tyler.

 

 

meet the author

Called “Queen of the Sweetness” (well, two or three people said it anyway!) Raine O’Tierney loves writing sweet stories about first loves, first times, fidelity, forever-endings and…friskiness?

Raine in Kansas City with her husband, fellow Dreamspinner Press author, Siôn O’Tierney. When she’s not writing, she’s either asleep, or fighting the good fight for intellectual freedom at her library day job. Raine believes the best thing we can do in life is be kind to one another, and she enjoys encouraging fellow writers!

Raine changes sub-genres to suit her mood and believes all good stories end sweetly. Contact her if you’re interested in talking about point-and-click adventure games or about which dachshunds are the best kinds of dachshunds!

SOCIAL MEDIA

Website: http://raineotierney.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/raineotierney
Facebook Fan Page: https://www.facebook.com/RaineOTierneyAuthor/
Twitter: @raineotierney
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7770350.Raine_O_Tierney

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12 Days of Kissmas: Avon Gale

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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

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Hi! I’m Avon Gale, and I’m here sharing a delightful picture of two boys kissing – er, almost kissing. I like this picture because I love that moment of tension right before the kiss. Also this one cutie is wearing a bowtie! Adorable, right?

My most recent novella, Whiskey Business, is out December 28th from Dreamspinner Press and is a part of their States of Love line. It’s about a bourbon distillery in a small Kentucky town, and it features an opposites-attract love story and a lot of really bad puns.

whiskeybusinessfs_v1I’m from Kentucky, so writing this was super fun for me. Also, I love bourbon (and pie), which is why I decided to share this recipe with you! Ignore that “or water” part of the directions, because trust me, you want the bourbon 😉 And make sure it’s good Kentucky bourbon, too – none of that Jack Daniels nonsense (sorry, Tennessee!) for this pie.

(Kidding, you can use whatever you want, but in my humble estimation, Kentucky bourbon is the best and that’s all I have to say about that.)

 

Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie

1/2 (14.1-ounce) package refrigerated piecrusts

1 1/2 cups chopped toasted pecans

1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate morsels

1 cup dark corn syrup

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/4 cup bourbon or water

4 large eggs

1/4 cup butter, melted

2 teaspoons plain white cornmeal

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon table salt

 

Preparation

Hands-on: 15 Minutes

Total: 2 Hours, 10 Minutes

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Fit piecrust into a 9-inch deep-dish pie plate according to package directions; fold edges under, and crimp. Sprinkle pecans and chocolate evenly onto bottom of piecrust.

Stir together corn syrup and next 3 ingredients in a large saucepan, and bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, 3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Whisk together eggs and next 4 ingredients. Gradually whisk one-fourth of hot corn syrup mixture into egg mixture; add to remaining hot corn syrup mixture, whisking constantly. Pour filling into prepared piecrust.

Bake at 325° for 55 minutes or until set; cool pie completely on a wire rack (about one hour).

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Avon Gale is giving away an ebook of winners choice. Give us your favorite traditional recipe. (Any tradition you like).

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12 Days of Kissmas: Victoria Sue: Exclusive Short Story and Giveaway

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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!

 

Victoria Sue is stopping by today with an awesome Kissmas picture, and exclusive short story featuring her characters from Five Minutes Longer, published by Dreamspinner Press.

 

Two super hero gay lovers kissing in the sky

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A Five Minute Christmas

Talon was going to kill him…again. Finn really hadn’t meant to invite anyone else. Their first Christmas Day and they’d promised each other they were going to eat turkey in bed. Just the two of them – all day.

Thanksgiving had been a complete bust. Some cop over in Gainesville had decided to arrest an enhanced fifteen-year-old for threatening a store owner that morning except it had turned out the kid was just trying to get help. He was mute and lived alone with his elderly grandmother. She was just pulling a baked ham out of the oven, and she’d had a heart attack. The kid wasn’t trying to threaten anyone, but the store owner had taken one look at the mark on his face; the lightning bolt shaped scar that all enhanced had, and assumed the worst.

So, Finn was determined Christmas was going to be perfect. He had all the recipes from Connie, Vance’s mom, and she had completely understood when they’d turned down the offer of going to their house for dinner. They’d said they might stop by later, but that was when Talon had pulled Finn into his arms, kissed him stupid until his knees gave way, and gruffly told him they would be spending the day in bed. At least he’d waited until they had got to the car to impart that particular news, though.

And he really hadn’t meant to invite Gael.

They’d all been chatting as they’d gotten out of their uniforms the day before. Talon had to go see Gregory over approving a possible new agent that he absolutely refused to discuss with the rest of the team, and Finn had asked Gael casually if Wyatt his younger brother was visiting him for the holiday.

“Nah,” Gael had shrugged. “Wyatt’s got a new girlfriend. He was invited there.”

Finn had paused. “So, are you going to Vance’s then?”

“Probably.”

But Finn had known instantly Gael was lying. Vance had a huge family, and the place would be packed. Gael had a tell when he was stressed. He pulled at the bottom of his scarred cheek with his teeth where it touched his lips. The scar his dad had given him when the drunk had held a twelve-year-old Gael down and tried to burn his enhanced mark off with a gas lighter. Because of the looks of fear Gael got – his mark and the way the left side of his face was all scarred – Gael hated crowds unless he was in uniform. Finn knew damn well he’d spend the day alone in his apartment.

“We’d love it if you came to us,” the words were out of Finn’s mouth before he thought twice, and the shy, hopeful, look Gael gave him made the thought of imminent death at the hands of his boyfriend worth every second.

Not that Talon was an ogre… much. He’d listened as Finn had haltingly told him an hour ago either he was gonna have to get out of bed, or there was gonna be three of them in it. Talon had kissed Finn on the nose and told him he was a softy. Finn had just copied Talon’s trade mark raised eyebrow. It had been Talon who had insisted on staying with the kid at Thanksgiving. Taken him to visit his grandmother in the ER to see she was okay, and then got him settled at the group foster home near where they all lived. Talon was as soft as Finn, he just hid it better.

“It smells amazing,” Gael had greeted them and held up a bottle of the expensive Dutch vodka Talon liked. Finn had waved them both out of the kitchen, flushed, and mildly panicking at what now seemed an insane amount of food he’d bought. They’d both offered to help, but he was relieved when he heard the sound of the game coming on and stared at the mess in the kitchen. In his eagerness to impress his boyfriend, he’d gone a little over board. Finn grinned – understatement.

An hour later he was reading Connie’s instructions on how to make the green bean casserole when the doorbell rang, and he walked out of the kitchen smiling in shock when Vance stepped into the apartment.

“Hey, buddy!” Gael grinned at his friend, a little flushed as he and Talon had been experimenting with the Dutch vodka and the eggnog.

“What are you doing here?” Finn said in surprise as he nearly tripped over Olly. Talon’s black lab was ecstatic every time one of the team came over, and she’d rushed to greet Vance. Vance shrugged.

“There’s like fifteen kids at mine,” Vance grumbled and sat on the corner of the sectional. The sofa dipped alarmingly.

Talon chuckled. “You mean you’ve got no TV to watch the game on?” Vance grinned and chinked the beer bottle with Gael’s glass as Gael passed it to him. Finn immediately reversed back to the kitchen to peel more potatoes.

“Hey,” Talon followed him back into the kitchen. “This isn’t about you being in here, and me being out there. I wanna help.” Talon bent his head and kissed the back of Finn’s neck, and turned him around gently taking the potato peeler out of his hand.

The doorbell rang, and Talon groaned. Finn pushed him out. “Go see who it is.”

Finn came out of the kitchen a few minutes later and stopped in astonishment as their boss; Tony Gregory stood talking to Talon. Finn blinked. The man looked quite good in jeans. Couple that with the peppered gray hair and easy smile and he looked about ten years younger than normal.

“Sir?” Finn squeaked in alarm. Shit, were they gonna get called out?

Tony turned and smiled. “Don’t worry. I was on my way to my sister’s, and I was passing so I just thought I’d say hello.” He pushed a bag awkwardly under the tree and said his goodbyes hurriedly.

“Hey, Talon?” Gael called and picked up a present from under the tiny Christmas tree. “Santa’s been, and you haven’t opened your presents.” Finn flushed bright red. Oh dear God, no. He knew exactly what was in that and the last thing he wanted was it opening in front of anyone else. Gael saw his face and grinned evilly.

The doorbell rang for the third time. Talon just leveled Finn a look as he got to his feet, but Finn had no idea who it was.

But I really should have he thought, as Sawyer and Eli walked in. “We’re not stopping,” Sawyer said hurriedly, and Eli dug his hands into his pockets and looked at the floor. “We were just on the way past.”

Finn gave his boyfriend kudos for not so much raising an eyebrow at the obvious lie and bolted back into the kitchen.

“Finn?” Finn looked up from stabbing the turkey as Eli came in. “Talon says we could stay, but I wanted to check with you.” He looked down at Finn as Finn poked the thing with a knife. “I think it’s dead,” he said dryly.

Finn didn’t look up. He knew Eli was looking at the disaster area that was their kitchen. He was probably going to come out with some smart comment about Finn being as useless in the kitchen as he was at the FBI. The sound of a faucet being turned on had him looking, though. He tried not to gape as Eli started stacking pans to wash.

“You don’t have to do that,” Finn stammered.

Eli ignored him and quietly carried on. In five minutes working together, they could actually see counters. “Thanks,” Finn said.

“I never had this,” Eli replied so quietly Finn barely heard him. He flushed slightly. “I don’t mean the food.”

Yeah, Finn had sort of guessed that. “Clearing up a disaster zone?” Finn quipped.

“Can I help?” It was Sawyer. Finn made a quick decision. Trying to do everything was just pushing people away. It was dumb.

“Mash,” Finn said nodding to the potatoes.

“With cheese?” Sawyer rubbed his hands gleefully and opened the fridge.

“You doing green bean casserole?” Vance asked from the door.

“I was thinking about it,” Finn replied cautiously. “Your mom wrote down how to do it.” His own mom had always just bought pre-prepared shop items.

Vance chuckled. “Mom thinks she knows the recipe but dad has perfected it over the years. You got any bacon?”

Finn grinned as Talon and Gael walked in. The small kitchen was getting kind of full. Talon took over the turkey and Gael pushed Finn down on a chair producing two beer bottles. One he opened and passed to Finn, one he threw at Vance who promptly opened it and mixed it into the sauce he was making. Gael started frying bacon under Vance’s watchful eye. Talon just cleared up as people finished with things.

“Where are we eating?” Talon suddenly said, and Finn nearly choked on his beer; their kitchen table was barely big enough for two of them, and Vance was two people just on his own.

“That’s easy,” Vance said. “We just put everything out on the counters, plate up what we want and go sit in the there.” He nodded to the lounge. Finn smiled. He was going to do this elaborate place setting idea he’d seen on TV, but suddenly Vance’s idea seemed better.

The meal was easily the best thing Finn had ever eaten in his life. He was perched on the floor with his back wedged in between Talon’s legs. The game had finished, and Gael was eyeing the bag Gregory had pushed under the tree. “Hey, this one’s got my name on,” and he dragged the bag out. “We’ve all got one,” he chuckled and passed everyone a present from the bag.

Talon approved the bottle of wine he opened. Vance chuckled at the key-ring with the tiny free weights attached and the card that said Vance had to try and not break these. Gregory had actually had to get the team their own gym at the field office because Vance kept breaking all the equipment in the regular one. Sawyer got an Amazon gift voucher and Eli a book on old Harley Davidsons which he was thrilled with. Finn opened his eagerly then blushed a deep red at the T-shirt inside.

Talon grinned and held it up so everyone could see another Superman T-shirt to add to his collection. Talon cleared his throat. “Actually, Gael can you pass me that small red envelope?”

Gael pulled an envelope out from behind the tree that Finn knew for sure hadn’t been there that morning. Gael passed it to Talon, and Talon solemnly handed it to Finn. “Merry Christmas.”

Finn took it with shaking hands. His boyfriend’s blue eyes darkened. He opened the envelope, and a key slid out. Finn looked at Talon in confusion. Talon stood up. “C’mon.” All the team followed Talon as he solemnly walked Finn to the elevator and down to the parking garage. Talon came to a stop next to his monster truck and then moved Finn to the side so he could see what was next to it.

A gleaming blue Mustang coupe. Finn stared, completely unable to find words. Sawyer took the key from him and got behind the wheel and started the engine. He got back out and handed him the key. “It’s a sweet ride.”

Finn swallowed quickly. He’d bought an old Taurus three months ago, and no matter how many times Vance’s uncle tried to fix it, it had constantly let him down. He’d wanted to be independent as usual, and instead of asking for advice he’d bought the car straight off the lot. It had been a disaster, but Talon hadn’t even once given him shit about it.

“How did it get here?” Finn asked in awe.

“Sawyer drove it here, and Eli followed in his car,” Talon answered.

Finn’s eyes narrowed, remembering how Talon didn’t seem fazed at Gael’s arrival. His eyes narrowed. “You knew everyone was coming.”

Vance chuckled. “Like we were gonna miss this.”

“Besides, we’re family.” Gael cuffed Finn on his head. “You gotta include us.”

Talon turned him around so he was facing him. “Do you like it?” he asked, and Finn heard the catch in his breath. Finn smiled and launched himself at Talon to be caught and wrapped up in his big strong arms. All these months he’d tried to be independent. Worried every minute he wasn’t strong enough, fast enough, or even capable enough around his enhanced team, and it was dumb.

They needed to be needed just like him. Every one of them was his family from Talon who kept his heart beating to Eli because he’d included him.

It was going to be the best Christmas ever.

fiveminuteslongerfs_v2synopsis

Talon Valdez knew that when he transformed into an enhanced human, his life and his dreams were finished. Reviled, mistrusted, and often locked away, the enhanced are viewed as monsters, despised by the public, and never trusted to serve in the military or any law enforcement agency.

Years later he gets a chance to set up a task force of enhanced to serve in the FBI, but with one proviso: each enhanced must partner with a regular human.

Finn Mayer dreamed of joining the FBI since he was fourteen and made every possible sacrifice to make it happen, including living with his selfish mother and bullying homophobic brother and never having a boyfriend. But his undiagnosed dyslexia stopped his aspirations dead in their tracks. His last chance is to partner with Talon, an enhanced with fatal abilities who doesn’t trust regular humans with their secrets and wants Finn to fail.

Four weeks to prove himself to the team. Four weeks for the team to prove itself to the public. And when another group threatens their success—and their lives are at stake—four weeks for them to survive.

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Victoria Sue is giving away an ebook copy of any of her books, along with a $25 gift card!!!! Just comment on this blog post telling us who your favorite superhero is and why.

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12 Days of Kissmas: Jay Northcote : Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

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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

I’m very happy to be here today to share an excerpt from my recent release, A Family for Christmas, and offer a giveaway of an eBook copy of one of my holiday stories (see below).

This photo made me think of the two guys in A Family for Christmas, who share a kiss under the mistletoe in front of Rudy’s family. The only downside is that at that point of the story, they’re not actually boyfriends—even though Rudy wishes they were.

Affectionate young gay couple kissing together while sitting at their kitchen table in the morning

 

excerpt

Once the kitchen was neat, they took their drinks and went to join the others. As Zac and Rudy passed under the archway, Natalie clapped her hands. “Give him a kiss, Rudy. It’s bad luck if you don’t.”

Rudy froze. He looked up at the mistletoe, then back at his sister, who had her hands on her hips. “It’s not bad luck if you don’t kiss under mistletoe. You’re making it up.”

“Whatever. It’s tradition. Don’t be a spoilsport.”

“Yeah, come on, Rudy,” Zac said lightly. “Anyone would think you don’t want to kiss me.”

Rudy stared into Zac’s brown eyes and swallowed. He wanted to kiss him so badly, but he’d rather do it without all his siblings watching. But there was no way he could decline now. Stepping closer, he leaned in, planning on giving Zac a quick peck. But as their lips met, Zac brought his hand up and curled it around Rudy’s nape. The kiss was still chaste, but it was soft and sweet too. Zac held Rudy, keeping him there for a few endless seconds, while Rudy’s heart fluttered against his ribs like a panicked bird. When Zac let him go, Rudy was sure his cheeks were as scarlet as the ribbon around the mistletoe.

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If that whet your appetite for more, you can buy A Family For Christmas at Amazon, or read it with a Kindle Unlimited subscription.

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synopsis

Zac never had a family of his own, but Rudy has enough to share.

Shy, inexperienced Rudy has a crush on Zac from the moment his new colleague walks through the door. On an office night out before Christmas, Rudy finds the courage to make a move, and they form a tentative bond. When he discovers Zac will be alone at Christmas, he invites Zac to come home with him.

Zac prefers to keep people at arm’s length. Yet when Rudy offers him a family Christmas it’s impossible to resist. With no parents of his own, Zac is pleasantly surprised to be welcomed by Rudy’s. The only drawback is that everyone assumes they’re a couple. Unwilling to disappoint Rudy’s mum and make Christmas awkward, they decide not to deny it.

It’s not a chore for Zac to pose as Rudy’s boyfriend, but the pretence makes him want things that scare him—things like a real relationship with Rudy. Zac’s suffered enough rejection in his life already and is afraid to risk his heart. If he can get over his past rejection and let Rudy inside his armour, he might get more for Christmas than he ever imagined.

giveaway

I’m giving away an eBook copy of any one of my three Christmas novella, the winner can choose which title out of: Cold Feet, What Happens at Christmas, and A Family for Christmas. Just comment on the blog post telling us what your favorite Christmas movie is.

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meet the author

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

www.jaynorthcote.com

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His Needs by Kris T. Bethke: Guest Post, Excerpt and Review

hisneedsfs_v1synopsisWhen State Trooper Travis Kinslow is injured right before Thanksgiving, the only positive is that for once he won’t be working during the holidays. Since he has no family, Travis was absorbed into his best friend, Joe’s, and he considers them as good as his own. Everyone except Joe’s brother Noah. Travis has been in love with the younger man for much of his life, but he’s always kept his distance.

As an ER nurse, Noah is a caretaker by nature. When his brother’s best friend is hurt, he’s happy to help Travis while he heals. He’s only ever allowed himself to think of Travis as the next best thing to an older brother, but by the light of the Christmas tree, Noah finally sees Travis’s true feelings. And in that moment, everything changes.

When faced with opposition and a Christmas nothing like they imagined, will their hopes for the future be enough to carry them through?

Title: His Needs
Author: Kris T. Bethke
Release Date: December 14, 2016
Category: Contemporary, Holiday
Pages: 113

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Guest Post

Hi everyone! Kris Bethke here to talk about my latest release, my holiday novella His Needs. First let me say thanks to gang here at Two Chicks Obsessed for letting me have a spot and to (hopefully) entertain!

I’m honestly a little obsessed with Christmas. Not for any religious reasons, though if that’s your thing, good for you. No, for me, I love all the trappings. The decorations. The lights. The snow and the candy canes and pine trees and cookies. I love sappy holiday movies and going all out to make my space as festive and cheery as possible.

So when I got it into my head to write another holiday story, I knew the decorating was going to be a pivotal part of it. Early on in the planning stages (though I can’t say I actually plan too in depth) I knew exactly what the scene was going to look like. What was going to kick it off, and exactly at what moment things were going to go from “everything’s normal” to “oh damn, this is something else.”

And it all centers on decorating the Christmas tree.

Travis has been injured. He can’t do it on his own. And Noah, the sweet man, is right there to help with anything Travis needs. But Travis has wanted Noah for a long time, and this simple act of domesticity is something he’s been aching for. To share this moment with Noah. And Noah, in that moment, finally sees Travis as something more.

It’s one of my favorite scenes in the book. Both to write at the time, and still to read. Oh, there’s plenty of other things going on. Hot, sexy times, and some family drama. And falling in love so hard there’s no going back. But that moment, when Noah turns and sees Travis’s face with the Christmas tree and carols playing in the background? That moment is everything.

If you enjoy the holidays, I hope you’ll like that scene just as much as I do.

Happy Holidays!

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excerpt

Noah was still chuckling as he directed me to sit. “You have to chill and relax now, Travis. I’ll do all the work. You tell me where things go and I’ll take care of it. All right?”

I was going to protest. I was, in all honesty, perfectly capable of helping. But there was no denying I was tired. And there was a certain appeal about giving him orders and watching him follow them. We worked that way for a good twenty minutes as I pointed to all the places where I liked the hanging decorations to go. He set the elves on the shelves, end tables, and coffee table. He hung the garland over the door and the string of colored lights around the window. Then he took a break to make us sandwiches for lunch.

I did my best not to watch him eat, because when Noah was hungry, he ate like what he was putting in his mouth was the best thing he ever tasted. There had been times, when we were younger, that just watching him eat had given me wood. So I focused on my own sandwich, steadfastly ignored his moans, and before long we were done. I insisted he leave the plates in the sink, that I would wash them later. I could tell he wanted to protest, but I wasn’t a complete invalid, so I simply said, “Please.”

Noah left the plates without another word and set to work on the tree.

He plugged his iPhone into the dock on my stereo, and seconds later classic carols were playing. Noah let me get up to help with wrapping the tree with lights, but then he insisted I sit back down so I didn’t wear myself out. He put the tote on the coffee table and then pushed it closer to me so I didn’t have to bend or reach too much.

“You hand me the ornaments and I’ll put them on the tree. How’s that?”

I couldn’t speak, so I nodded, reached in and pulled out a classic red ball ornament, and handed it over. The smile he gave me, so full of gratitude and so pleased, was a reward in and of itself. We didn’t say anything as we worked. I handed him an ornament, and he walked the two feet to the tree, humming along with the music. He’d study it for a moment before finding the perfect spot and carefully hanging the ornament.

This was what I wanted with him. Every year. I’d been wanting it for nearly two decades, and I wanted it for all the Christmases to come. I loved him, and I wanted nothing more than to spend quiet days with him, eating together and enjoying each other. To spend Christmas together, and all the other holidays. To do things as partners, both of us being a part of it.

Noah turned, hand outstretched for another ornament, but he froze, his eyes widening and his breath catching. His gaze was glued to my face and he was barely even breathing.

“Noah?” I asked, concerned.

His voice was low. “How long?”

I blinked. “What?”

“How long have you been in love with me?”

denise review

The excerpt above is the pinnacle moment of this short story, the momentof change between Travis and Noah. The moment that Noah discovers that Travis has been in love with him for 20 years. It’s such a touching moment. It creates such a dynamic between them. Noah discovers Travis’s love, and then discovers his own.

Their relationship is sweet, and super sexy. Noah has a dirty mouth that both Travis and the reader don’t expect 😉 However, Noah also cares about Travis and his recovery, assisting him through his recovery.

Travis is sweet, and loves Noah’s family as his own, even more than his own. The family has never been anything but supportive of Travis through the years. Which makes the conflict in the book that much more challenging to accept, as a reader. And although it partially resolves itself at the end of the novella, it wasn’t satisfying as the reader. It felt as if there needed to be more resolution between  the family and Travis.

3.75 pieces of eye candy

3.75-pieces of eye candy

 

meet the author

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long.  An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head.  She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project.  Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time.  A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures.  She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head.  She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.

Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com or on Twitter twitter.com/kristbethke

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

Plaid versus Paisley by KC Burn: Guest Post and Excerpt

plaidversuspaisleyfs_200synopsisTwo years after his life fell apart, Will Dawson moved to Florida to start over. His job in the tech department of Idyll Fling, a gay porn studio, is ideal for him. When his boss forces him to take on a new hire, the last person he expects is Dallas Greene—the man who cost him his job and his boyfriend back in Connecticut. He doesn’t know what’s on Dallas’s agenda, but he won’t be blindsided by a wolf masquerading as a runway model. Not again.

Dallas might have thrown himself on his brother’s mercy, but his skills are needed at Idyll Fling. Working with Will is a bonus, since Dallas has never forgotten the man. A good working relationship is only the beginning of what Dallas wants with Will.

But Dallas doesn’t realize how deep Will’s distrust runs, and Will doesn’t know that the man he’s torn between loving and hating is the boss’s brother. When all truths are revealed, how can a relationship built on lies still stand?

Title: Plaid versus Paisley
Series: Fabric Hearts
Author: KC Burn
Release Date: December 12, 2016
Category: Contemporary
Pages: 216

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ARe

Dreamspinner Press

 

Guest Post

Hello! I’m KC Burn and I’m so excited to be here, chatting about Plaid versus Paisley. This is the second book in my Fabric Hearts series. The first book, Tartan Candy, features an ex porn star who worked at a gay porn studio called Idyll Fling. It’s there that we first meet Will, the IT guy who runs the Idyll Fling web site. In Plaid versus Paisley, we get to know Will a little better, and why he fled to Florida, taking a job that was a significant step down from his prior position. We also meet Dallas, who I just adore. He’s made some unwise choices but he refuses to let them keep him down. They’re two regular guys with geeky aspects, battling it out over the fiefdom of the tech department at a gay porn studio. I hope you enjoy a taste of one of their skirmishes.

plaidversuspaisley_fbbanner_dsp

excerpt

“Why are you wearing a suit?” Will’s voice cracked the silence, making Dallas jump.

“Uh, well, dress for the job you want, right?”

Will lifted an eyebrow. Based on that “logic,” Dallas must want a job at a different company because not even Stefan, the CEO, wore suits. The only suits Will had seen around Idyll Fling showed up when the guys were filming some sort of office or professor porn.

Judging by the sudden—attractive, damn it— flush on Dallas’s too-thin cheeks, he was well aware that his answer was silly.

“You do realize this is Florida, right?” And Will couldn’t stop himself from sounding like a petulant teenager.

“People in Florida wear suits.” Dallas’s chin firmed mutinously.

He wasn’t wrong, but shit, why would anyone bother if they didn’t have to? Some days, Will could barely even stand the T-shirts and cargo shorts. The apartment back in Connecticut he’d shared with Jesse had only had two window A/C units; he’d thought central air in his apartment in Florida was overkill. Until he realized Florida only had one cool month—January. The continuously high daily temperatures and humidity had him rapidly revising his opinion. Central air was clearly the most important feature of any lodging in Florida.

Nevertheless, Will ought to stop acting like someone cruising for a Human Resources violation. Even if those suits made Dallas look delicious, he hated the purple paisley tie. In fact, he seemed to recall a number of paisley ties Dallas had worn in the past. He’d thought them cute back then. Now he just wanted to rip the damn thing off.

His traitorous mind didn’t stop there, and showed him a tousled Dallas, tie gone, jacket gone, shirt gaping open, lips puffy and moist like he’d either been engaged in a marathon make-out session or had been giving someone—Will—a thorough blow job. A throb from his groin reminded him how utterly inappropriate such thoughts were, and he turned back to his work. “Wear what you want,” he muttered, unable to control the schoolyard impulse to get in the last word.

meet the author

KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds).  After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own — getting published.  After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does.

Visit KC at her website, on Twitter, on Facebook, or find out about new releases by signing up for her newsletter.

giveaway

KC would like to give away a $10 ARe gift certificate. Comment on this blog post, and send KC congrats on her new release to be entered.

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

The Next Competitor by Keira Andrews: Quick Review and Excerpt

the-next-competitor-high-res

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

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

Only Forever by Scotty Cade: Exclusive Guest Post, Excerpt and Giveaway

51dlko36dolsynopsisMaster Captain Theodore Gourdin has always loved the ocean. But his devotion to maritime life left little possibility for a long-term relationship. After two failed marriages and numerous unsuccessful relationships, Theo gave up on finding the person who completed him and decided the sea was his soul mate. When offered the opportunity to captain the newly launched megayacht Eternity, Theo jumped at the chance. With Eternity’s maiden voyage looming, Theo focused all his energies on hiring his crew and readying his ship. The last thing he expected was to finally lose his heart in the process.

After twelve years at sea, First Officer Heath Rawlins was restless and in need of a change. A gay seaman’s life could be a lonely one, but to Heath the positives far outweighed the negatives. With excellent recommendations and an impressive résumé, he was quickly offered a position on the private megayacht Eternity. Heath’s heart skipped several beats when he finally met the ship’s captain. He was handsome and charming. And… familiar? Had they met somewhere before? Highly unlikely. But as smitten as Heath was with the gorgeous captain, everything inside him screamed, Abandon ship! Rough seas ahead!

Guest Post

scotty-cade-tuxedoHi Kids,

Scotty Cade here. First off I’d like to thank Denise and everyone over at Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy for giving me the opportunity chat with you readers today. You guys have been a great support and that means the world to me. Thank You!

Today I’m here to tell you a little about my latest novel Only Forever, which released from Dreamspinner Press on November 30th and how it came to be.

The inspiration for the book came from a very old song of the same name. I first heard the song last winter while curled up on the couch watching an old black-and-white movie and after the first line, I sat up and listened intently. For some reason the song tugged at my heartstrings and I when it was over I immediately Googled every version and listened to each one. It has been covered by many people, such as Bing Crosby, Nat King Cole, and Dean Martin, to name a few. But my favorite version is by Kay Starr. While listening to her version I could hear the nostalgia. To me, it sounded like something that might be playing as a soldier was going off to war and saying goodbye to a lover. Here’s a link if you care to take a listen.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aOzokJG0jNA. The song appealed so deeply to the romantic in me, I just had to write about it. The lyrics are very simple but very powerful if you allow yourself to really listen to them.

I know most of you have never heard “Only Forever,” but it’s about a love so strong, it will span many lifetimes. I wish I could use the actual lyrics, but because of copyright laws, I cannot. And trust me when I say I contacted the owner many times to license at least one line of the song, but no one ever responded. So in the end, I rewrote just the last line, which is used in the book, and I hope I did it justice.

So now you know the inspiration. But I must warn you, the book happens over a two-week span of time. A lot can happen in two weeks, and in these particular two weeks, two lives are changed forever. I hope the romantics will love the premise, but I’m not naive enough to think everyone will feel the same way. I know I’m gonna get my share of readers calling “instalove” and how absolutely absurd and unrealistic the premise is. And I’m being proven right. As of now, the book is getting mostly four and five star reviews. A couple of three star and one two star review is there as well as I predicted. Damn that “Instalove.” But is it really “instalove” when two souls have reconnected in another lifetime? Two souls who have been unknowingly searching for the other all of their lives? Please, just read it with an open mind and allow yourself to imagine the “what ifs.”

Before I give you the excerpt, let me ask you one question. Have you ever met someone for the first time, had a feeling that maybe you’ve met them before, or even felt like you’ve known them forever? That’s what this story is about. Maybe you have met them before—in another place or time.

If you’ve had an experience like I’ve mentioned above, tell me about in the form of a comment. If you do, you will be entered into a drawing to win any book from my backlist.

Enjoy!

Scotty

 

excerpt

First Officer G. Heath Rawlins sat at his desk and stared at the screen of his laptop. For the third time, he read the e-mail he’d crafted. Comfortable everything was in order, he clicked the Send button, sighed, and closed his laptop. Heath folded his arms over his chest, looked around his dimly lit officer’s cabin, and leaned back in his chair. Now all there is to do is wait.

He’d spent the last couple of hours tailoring a handful of e-mails for specific jobs and attaching his résumé and recommendation letters to the megayacht captains who were actively searching for an experienced first officer—or chief mate, as they were often called. Now it was up to the universe to decide what happened next.

The merchant ship Urania Dee had been Heath’s home for the last six years. But the last year had been a restless one. Although he’d struggled with the decision, Heath had resigned his position as first officer thirty days prior, much to the chagrin of the captain. By first light tomorrow morning, the Urania Dee would be docked at the Port of Savannah, Georgia, and Heath’s life aboard a merchant ship would be over. And to say he had mixed emotions about it was certainly an understatement.

Heath kept telling himself he just needed a change. But the problem was he didn’t know what that change should be. In the end he’d decided that maybe the private sector would be a good place to start. Traveling to tropical islands and pleasure ports aboard a megayacht instead of commercial seaports on a merchant ship might do the trick. Experiencing sea life from another perspective—that was always good. Right?

Checking out the suitcases and the cardboard boxes neatly lining the walls of his cabin, Heath realized that pretty much everything he owned was staring back at him. He’d lost his mother, father, and younger sister to carbon monoxide poisoning in his family home two months after he’d left for Texas A&M Maritime Academy in Galveston, and he’d been on his own ever since.

Over the years the captain and crew of the Urania Dee had become his family of sorts, and it was going to be extremely hard to say good-bye. But if he were being totally honest, he was also looking forward to the change. A new adventure. Something to reignite his passion for the sea.

Heath turned his gaze to a small porthole above his desk and stared out into the dark skies over the Atlantic Ocean. Tomorrow morning you start a new life.

Through the round glass, Heath saw the reflection of a frame hanging on the opposite wall. He stood, walked across the cabin, and gazed at his diploma from the maritime academy. He thought back to the sunny day of his graduation ceremony. A lump formed in his throat, and he quickly swallowed it down. How bittersweet it had been without his family there to share in his joy.

In an attempt to escape the loneliness that had followed his family’s demise, the day after graduation, Heath joined the crew of a commercial freighter for a three-year contract, and then another when that ended, before finally joining the Urania. He’d been at sea for twelve years straight, which had given him plenty of time to climb up in the ranks and advance his career, but hadn’t afforded him the luxury of putting down roots anywhere.

At the time of his parents’ death, Heath had inherited everything, but he’d never spent a single dime of their hard-earned money. After working twelve years with no real expenses, he had his own money. And quite a lot of it. In fact, his savings were quite impressive.

At one time he’d thought about buying a home, but there was just never the need. The sea had always been his home. But now with no job and no place to live, the need might finally be presenting itself.

Even if I want to put down roots—where? He was never in one place longer than the time required to unload and reload his ship. But at thirty-three years old, he was starting to feel a little differently. He couldn’t imagine not being at sea. Some unknown force had drawn him to it even as a child, and the sea had been his solace. It was where he was most comfortable, where he turned as he grieved the loss of his family. But at the same time, the sea had represented a longing of sorts. It was always as if he were searching for something there. Something just beyond his reach.

Lately he was struggling with a new and unfamiliar restlessness. It had started slowly, as impatience, but over the last year, it had turned into a desperation of sorts. An odd feeling like something else was out there for him, just beyond the horizon. Searching for him. Waiting for him. A yearning for something. But for what? Roots? A relationship? Or maybe even a family?

For some reason he’d never allowed himself to get too close to any one person, so he’d been sort of a loner all his adult life. It could have been the experience of losing his family and the fear of history repeating itself that kept him from ever allowing himself to love. Or it could have been something else. Heath had never been sure. Either way, he’d never had any real interest. A one-night stand here and there was all he ever allowed himself. So these feelings, these emotions, were perplexing at the very least.

Heath lifted the diploma from the wall, carefully wrapped it in Bubble Wrap, and placed it in the only remaining open box. He’d have time to decide what do to or where to go while he waited out the job search. In the meantime, the extended-stay hotel in downtown Savannah would be his new home. If no position presented itself within a couple of weeks, he would decide how to proceed with the rest of his life.

Taping the box shut, Heath added it to the stack, stepped back, and glanced around. That’s the last of it, I guess!

The ding of his computer signaled a new e-mail. He walked over to his desk and opened his laptop. The e-mail was from Master Captain Theodore Gourdin. Could it be? He pulled up his chair, took a seat, and opened the e-mail.

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scotty cademeet the author

Scotty Cade left Corporate America and twenty-five years of Marketing and Public Relations behind to buy an Inn & Restaurant on the island of Martha’s Vineyard with his partner of over twenty years. He started writing stories as soon as he could read, but just five years ago for publication.  When not at the Inn, you can find him on the bow of his boat writing gay romance novels with his Shetland sheepdog Mavis at his side.  Being from the south and a lover of commitment and fidelity, all of his characters find their way to long healthy relationships, however long it takes them to get there.  He believes that in the end, the boy should always get the boy.

 

Here’s where you can find me:

 

www.scottycade.com

www.facebook.com/scotty.cade

www.twitter.com/ScottyCade

scottycade@gmail.com

scotty@scottycade.com

 

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Wrapped Together by Annabeth Albert: Release Day Review and Blitz, Excerpt and Giveaway

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Title: Wrapped Together

Series: Portland Heat #5

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher: Kensington Books

Release Date: December 6

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 35,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary, friends-to-lovers

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Wrapped-Together

synopsis

In the bustling restaurants, shops, and cafés of Portland, Oregon, things really heat up for the hard-working men behind the scenes when the holidays come into town . . .

For a stationery store owner, the holidays are great for business. But for Hollis Alcott, Christmas reminds him of the tragic events of three years past, and the last thing he wants to do is take part in Portland’s over-abundance of festive cheer. But Sawyer Murphy, a hunky gift shop owner whose brother is married to Hollis’s sister, has made it his mission to pluck Hollis out of his holiday blues. And his plan is beginning to work. Wrapped in the warm glow of newfound passion, the former business rivals hit up Portland’s finest holiday traditions—and Hollis’s icy attitude begins to melt like snowflakes on his tongue. But he isn’t sure he can trust anyone with the only gift he has—his heart—without breaking it like an antique ornament. Unless he can find the courage to take a leap with the one lover he never expected . . .

excerpt

This excerpt comes from chapter one of WRAPPED TOGETHER, when Hollis and his long-time frenemy Sawyer engage in a friendly bet sure to put their holiday cheer to the test!

****

I took a sip of my now tepid, almost-gone tea. Ugh. The good barista was on duty, the one who went with Ev from the knitting store and who always happily made my tea with the same care he did the fancy coffee drinks. I left the group, happy to have the excuse of needing a refill, but as I stood in line, Mary Anne joined me.

“Hollis Alcott, we almost never see you at these things!” Her voice seemed to ring out above the din. “Will you be participating in the contest this year?”

“I doubt it. My fall display is already set.” I tried not to sound too dour—she always had the best houseplants and had custom-ordered the rare fern I’d wanted.

“Ah, well, that’s too bad. You let me know if you change your mind. I’d be happy to lend you some poinsettias or other decor. I know you could do a splendid, tasteful window.”

It was my turn to order, so I gave her a smile as a reply before handing Brady my stainless-steel tumbler for tea and ordering a scone to go. I had to wait down at the other end of the bar for my order, and as I was waiting, Sawyer came loping over, a smile on his boyish face. His wide shoulders stretched the hoodie in distracting ways.

“Hollis! Did I hear you say you’re not decorating?”

“You did.”

He frowned. “I know how much you hate the holidays, but I bet you’d get an uptick in sales if you decorated. I heard Mary Anne offer to help. I could, too. I’ve got gobs of lights.”

“Thank you but no.” Truth be told, I could use the increase in sales, but it wasn’t enough of a motivator to get me ready for the onslaught of red and green.

Sawyer’s head tilted, considering. Oh no. I knew that look too well. A Sawyer who was scheming was downright dangerous. “We should bet, you and I.”

“No,” I said firmly. I stepped away from the coffee bar to let Mary Anne and others wait for their orders, but Sawyer kept step with me, effectively pinning me in between two tables on my path to the door. I sighed and repeated my objection. “No. The last time we bet, I believe you cracked a wrist.”

Sawyer waved a hand, dismissing my concern. “We were fifteen. We’ve had other bets since then.”

We had, but there was one in particular I was determined not to remember right at that moment. This was the peril of having known someone for almost two decades. “How precisely would one even bet on this?”

I let my inner musings escape before I could rein them in, and Sawyer smiled. He knew he had me. Whatever nervousness and shyness captured my tongue around large groups did not, unfortunately, extend to Sawyer. “Well, I was thinking whichever of us makes it into the top three is the winner of our bet, and then the loser has to do whatever the winner wants for an evening.”

Oh, I did not like this. “Anything?”

“That wasn’t a no.” Sawyer’s grin showed the sort of charm that made him so darn popular. “And I wasn’t thinking of something kinky. Trust me here, Hols.”

“Don’t call me that.” And I most certainly did not trust him. I was pretty sure the always-affable Sawyer didn’t have a kinky bone in his body, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t up to something. “But I could get you to do any task of my choosing?”

See, the thing about me that Sawyer knew was that I have a very hard time resisting a bet. Always have, hence the aforementioned bet freshman year of high school about jumping over auditorium seats during drama class. I’m also notoriously cheap. And as it turned out, I did have a job for him.

He nodded. “Anything.”

“I have a bathroom I want painted at my store. Including the trim.”

Sawyer, to his credit, didn’t look remotely pained. “That’s fine. I’m good at painting.”

“And you? What would you want?” I had no idea why I was asking. I certainly wasn’t planning on agreeing to this ridiculous plan.

“A surprise.” He winked at me.

“I don’t like those.”

“I know. Which is why you need one. But if it makes you feel better, I’ll specify no sex or nudity involved.” Sawyer had mercifully dropped his deep, clear voice to softer tones. I still bristled at the thought of anyone overhearing this.

“Or humiliation, public or otherwise.”

“Oh, Hollis, you know me better than that.” He held up his hands. They were big, capable hands, and I had to blink to get my eyes to look away. “Now, come on. I dare you. Bet me.”

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jennifer
Sawyer and Hollis…. Let’s chat about them, shall we?

 
Okay, Hollis, I wasn’t so sure about in the beginning. He’s a real “glass-half-empty” kind of guy. It was kind of annoying in the beginning because I just wanted to be like… NOT EVERYTHING IS TERRIBLE! Knock it off! Lol but, he great on me, once he started opening up a bit more and not taking everything so seriously.

 
Sawyer was his exact opposite, he’s more of a glass-half-full, kind of guy and he just wanted to break Hollis out of that tough nut that was so hard to crack. However, to get Hollis out of his “Bah-Humbug” type tude for the holiday’s, Sawyer drums up a bet that ends up getting pretty steamy when it comes to collecting on it. The kicker? Even though Hollis never recovered from losing important people in his life, he seems to keep his feelings all wrapped up tight, he’s been in love with Sawyer.

 
Doesn’t that just suck? Unrequited love or not so unrequited in this case, but secret love? Sigh…. I found myself rootin for them the whole time. Especially once we get to see a more vulnerable side to Hollis. I will say that, this is the first book of this series that I’ve read and I can’t believe I started out with the 5th one; it didn’t take anything away from anything though, I wasn’t lost or confused, so I’m assuming it’s okay to be a standalone.
And even more happy to report that there is no cliffhanger and it has a cute little HEA.

 
I really enjoyed this one and it’s right on time for the holidays.

 
I was given a copy of this book by the publisher for the promise of an honest and unbiased review. Anyone who knows me or reads my reviews, knows that all my reviews/rant are honest and unbiased, so take my word for it; if you want a little feel good, Christmassy read; don’t pass this one up.
If you’ve read anything by this author, you know you won’t be disappointed.

 
4 pieces of eye candy for me

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Wrapped Together Teaser 1

meet the author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open— no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.
Represented by Saritza Hernandez of the Corvisiero Literary Agency

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
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| Facebook Group | Annabeth’s Mailing List

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The Rodeo Knight by Ashavan Doyon: Blog Tour, Exclusive Guest Post and Review

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The Rodeo Knight

Sam’s Café Romances: Book Three

Struck by amnesia after a car crash, Brian Stouten has been living a life laid out by his family, a heterosexual life that just doesn’t fit. When he learns it was all a lie, he returns to the small college town that’s his only clue to his past. But the town is still unfamiliar, and the man he’d hoped would make all his memories return is on a honeymoon with another man. To add insult to injury, everyone thinks Brian died in the crash. It’s only when an out-of-place cowboy asks to bum a smoke that Brian realizes this trip was meant to be.

Sylvester Thomas has always fought a secret desire, and done it successfully. But when geeky Brian offers him a smoke and a light, a simple brush of hands has Sylvester’s hidden passions burning deep. Did he make a mistake letting Brian walk away?

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The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)

Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-chess-master-chronicles-by-ashavan-doyon-7830-b

 

Guest Post

*Runs in* Am I on time? Did I make it? *wipes brow* Thank goodness.

 

I’m Ashavan Doyon and I’m so pleased to be here at Two Chicks Obsessed with Books and Eye Candy. Two great things to be obsessed by! I’m here today to talk about The Rodeo Knight, my newest release with Dreamspinner Press. It doesn’t come by itself though! As book three of a series, it comes with a rerelease of The King’s Mate (a true second edition that is almost twice the length of the original novella) and the release of a print only edition of an anthology that collects all three of the Sam’s Café Romances into a single volume — The Chess Master Chronicles. I received my copies yesterday and they are gorgeous!

Well yes, I’m biased. Of course I am. But then, Bree Archer does beautiful work. The covers are stunning and I was so very pleased that they were able to get Bree, who did the original artwork for A Wounded Promise, to come back and do new designs for The King’s Mate (as a short story in a novella, it never had unique cover art) and The Rodeo Knight. That process was really fun and interesting and I got to see a lot of options. For The King’s Mate we were a bit more limited, since we didn’t want to show the love interest on that cover, and the model was established, I really only had two poses to choose from. For The Rodeo Knight we went back and forth a lot more. It was important to me that the model look like a geek and not a GQ model trying to look like a geek. I think the cover achieves that for Brian nicely.

For the record, I too am obsessed with books and eye candy. I’m so far behind on my reading I don’t even want to think about it most days. Like a lot of people I read to relax (and look at eye candy to relax, go figure). But as a US resident we’ve been dealing with an election, and the vitriol on both sides has been at a ridiculous high. I’d had hopes it would normalize after the election but I think we all know how that went. So, I’m reading before everything gets censored I hope, and I’m looking at eye candy … likewise. Yes, I have a favorite porn studio. No, I don’t model my characters after the porn models, though I know authors who do that. For me it’s the face more than the body that makes the porn star, and you can see that in my choices for covers. A Wounded Promise, Justin in his hoodie staring right at you. The stare from the cover of I Almost Let You is similar.rodeoknightthe_fbbanner_dsp

When talking about The Rodeo Knight, it’s natural to talk about our chess master, Brian. He is, after all, the return character. Russ’s partner and (almost) husband back from the dead. Makes for some great interesting drama, and it overshadows our other primary character a little.

This was a hard story to write because there’s folks who want the true love between Brian and Russ to win out. But Russ has his happy ending from the first two stories. And it was important to me not to destroy that, though the revelation that Brian is alive certainly brings some drama to Russ’s life for a while. How and why Brian can set that aside is something the story explains. But that same why also leaves Brian open to a new romance, and that romance has a name: Sylvester.

Even though Sylvester is only in his mid-twenties, he understands some of what our amnesiac hero is going through. Sylvester has also lost his entire life because of an accident. A competitive bull rider who poured his life into his work, a freak accident has cost him everything, including the shield that he used to stay alone.

What we know about Sylvester is that he was good. He spent his winnings on his parents and his family. He had some saved, but because of the medical bills from his accident, they’re barely covering his school. This is partly his own fault. He didn’t go to school nearby. He didn’t try for a community college. He ran away, someplace far. Someplace liberal. Someplace no one would take him to a rodeo (though Brian tries!) and he might, if he was brave, be able to finally be himself. He gets to the University and finds himself too broke and too embarrassed by that to pursue anyone. Until he meets Brian.

I liked the idea of a young man in a sporting career who has to start over because it resonated so well with Brian’s own loss of memory. Why a cowboy (well, bull rider)? Because I’m Texan, and I always thought they were sexy. Don’t you? I think if you’re interested in the story you probably do. Cowboys were some of my first sexy images of men as a boy. In the city, the rodeo meant country music and going to the Astrodome to see this epitome of masculinity. It was a touch of country to a city boy even though I was from the suburbs. To this day, I love a man in a cowboy hat who needs just a touch of a shave.

Worse, I’m a product of my generation. I couldn’t make the image work, for me, without putting a cigarette in his mouth. Marlboro man did his job well. But that also gave me a way to have my cowboy and my chess master meet. One of the few things we knew about Brian going into the story (from A Wounded Promise) is that he was a chain smoker.

I hope you enjoy how I portray Sylvester in The Rodeo Knight. If you haven’t already checked it out, there’s a post today at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words with an interview – I talk about my experience with books as a kid and when I first started writing. And I’ll talk more about the second edition of The King’s Mate tomorrow at Tammy’s Two Cents. Until then, you can always contact me through my website www.ashavandoyon.com

denise review

This was the first book I’ve read by Ashavan Doyon. Unfortunately, I didn’t read books 1 and 2, in this series. I might have connected more with the secondary characters, if I had. Although the book seemed a little disjointed in places to me, I know that was likely because I was jumping into the middle of a series. I think I’d like to go back and read books 1 and 2, to get more of a feel for the entire series.

I can see why this might have been difficult to write for the author, with the character having been declared deceased previously, and the surviving husband having moved on. Readers of the first two books would be rooting for Russ to stay with Justin, and still rooting for the MC Brian to still get his HEA, which they both do. However, walking on that tightrope must have been a challenge for the author, and I applaud his efforts. That fine line between wanting a grief stricken former spouse to find a way out of what would be a new type of grief, and yet having read his recovery story might be troubling to some readers.

I think the author did a fantastic job of that. Brian didn’t have any feelings for his former spouse. Period. He thought he should, and yet didn’t. He had instant feelings for Sylvester, and moved forward with those feelings right away. He didn’t hesitate and worry about how other people in the town would see it, he had his life back and wanted to get to living it right away. He’d been forced to live through one hell, then forced to live another hell his parents thrust upon him.

Sylvester was sweet and so proud. Not willing to show a weakness if he could avoid it. He needed someone who was willing to jump all in with him, because he would never have taken that step forward on his own.

There are things I would have liked to see more resolution with. I was left wondering how Russ and Justin were able to move forward and deal with it. I was left wondering how they integrated into the fabric of the community. And I was left wondering if there was resolution with Brian’s parents.

I enjoyed the writing style of the author, and appreciated how very different all of the characters personality quirks were written. They were integral parts of the characters, and the author made sure to keep them incorporated throughout the book.

3.5 pieces of eye candy.

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tco-also in series

kingsmatemedcoverThe King’s Mate

2nd Edition

Sam’s Café Romances: Book One

Russell Pine comes to Sam’s Café every morning to enjoy the best coffee in town and to chat with Sam Tesh, the owner, a loyal friend for the past twenty years. When Sam offers him a challenge, Russ reluctantly takes it on, acting as the master opponent in a chess tournament. As the days pass and the hopefuls fall to the chess mastermind one by one, Russ discovers that the contest isn’t the only game being played.

Russ finds himself the focus of a secret courtship through words and pictures left for him to discover each morning. Will a hint of cologne on the paper lead him to his admirer? In a café full of young and beautiful minds, who is looking at the graying chess master?

First Edition published by Dreamspinner Press, June 2013.

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The Chess Master Chronicles (Dreamspinner)

Sam’s Cafe Romances books 1-3, print only:

https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-chess-master-chronicles-by-ashavan-doyon-7830-b

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meet the author

For fifteen years, Ashavan Doyon worked with students in the student affairs office of a liberal arts college. He recently decided to shake things up a little, and is now working in the publications and communications office at the college. During lunch, evenings, and when he can escape the grasp of his husband on weekends, he writes, pounding out words day after day in hopes that his ancient typewriter-trained fingers won’t break the glass on his tablet computer. Ashavan is an avid science fiction and fantasy fan and prefers to write while listening to music that fits the mood of his current story. He has no children, but lavishes attention on his sole remaining fur child, a very elderly pug. A Texan by birth, he currently lives in New England, and frequently complains of the weather.

Ashavan went to school at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, getting his degree in Russian and East European Studies, with a focus in language and literature. He has two incomplete manuscripts from college that he goes back compulsively to fiddle with every so often, but is still not happy with either of them. He still loves fantasy and science fiction and reads constantly in the moments between writing stories.

You can find me online at:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ashavandoyon.writer

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ashavandoyon

Web: www.ashavandoyon.com

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