Out today! SALVAGED Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt for a new contemporary romance from Jay Crownover. SALVAGED is the final book in her Saints of Denver series and was the book I’d been expected since finishing CHARGED. I’ve enjoyed BUILT and RIVETED, too, so I couldn’t wait to watch Wheeler and Poppy find love.

About the book:
Hudson Wheeler is a nice guy. Everyone knows it, including his fiancée who left him with a canceled wedding and a baby on the way. He’s tired of finishing last and is ready to start living in the moment with nights soaked in whiskey, fast cars, and even faster girls. He’s set to start living on the edge, but when he meets Poppy Cruz, her sad eyes in the most gorgeous face he’s ever seen hook him in right away. Wheeler can see Poppy’s pain and all he wants to do is take care of her and make her smile, whatever it takes.

Poppy can’t remember a time when she didn’t see strangers as the enemy. After a lifetime of being hurt from the men who swore to protect her, Poppy’s determined to keep herself safe by keeping everyone else at arm’s length. Wheeler’s sexy grin and rough hands from hours restoring classic cars shouldn’t captivate her, but every time she’s with him, she can’t help being pulled closer to him. Though she’s terrified to trust again, Poppy soon realizes it might hurt even more to shut Wheeler out—and the intense feelings pulsing through her are making it near impossible to resist him.

The only thing Poppy is sure of is that her heart is in need of some serious repair, and the more time she spends with Wheeler, the more she’s convinced he’s the only man with the tools to fix it.

How about a little taste?

I didn’t want her to be scared of anything ever again.

Things at home had been rocky, rougher than class-five rapids in winter, but I was paddling for my life and prepared to ride it out. I couldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let go. I saw Poppy the day she walked through my shop and I started to feel how sore my hands and my heart were from holding on.

Her head was down, focused on the tips of her shoes. Her shoulders were hunched over and her long hair hid her face. She was skinny, so skinny, nothing but skin and bones. She was nothing that I should have noticed, not because she was clearly doing everything in her power to be invisible, but because I was supposed to have my eyes locked on my future and doing whatever I could do to salvage it. But I did notice her and I couldn’t look away once I did.

She was obviously terrified, clearly out of her element and uncomfortable, but it wasn’t her unease that called to me…it was her loneliness. I could feel it filling up the space that separated us. Stretching, growing, expanding until it was all I was breathing in and exhaling back out. It was bitter on my tongue and heavy across my skin because I knew the feeling well. I lived with it pressing me down and pushing me forward every minute of every day. The reason I was so set on the way things had to be, the reason I was single-mindedly set on settling down and building a life with the girl that was slipping through my fingers was because I never again wanted to be as alone as this girl was. I didn’t want to be left and forgotten. I’d barely survived it the first time.

I did my best to sell her a car that was as beautiful as she was…a classic with clean lines and a flawless finish. She picked something practical and boring but that was ultimately safe and reliable. I understood her choice but it grated and annoyed me long after she left the shop. When she wasn’t standing in front of me, she should have been easy to forget; after all, everything in front of me, everything I had been working for and toward, was falling down in front of my eyes. My world was collapsing in on itself and everything I thought I was so goddamn sure about turned out to be nothing more than lies and illusions. In the middle of all of it, I couldn’t forget her sad eyes and shivering, shaking form. Her loneliness clung to me, unshakable and unforgettable. I didn’t think I would see her again and against my better judgment I often found myself wondering how she was doing and if she had gotten a handle on all the things that seemed to be crushing her under their inescapable weight.

I was wrong about seeing her again, just like I was wrong about thinking that doing everything in my life differently from how my mother had lived hers would ensure my happiness and a future built on an unshakeable foundation. I was wrong about hard work and sacrifice being enough. I was wrong about holding on when what I was holding on to desperately wanted me to let go. All I was left with was bleeding palms, rope burns around my heart and scars on my soul.

The next time I saw Poppy Cruz it was my loneliness that was filling up the space, suffocating me, choking me, making me forget to handle her with care. I was nothing more than a vast, open wound. One that was raw, aching, throbbing, and leaking my heart and shattered emotions out everywhere. I felt like I’d lost everything, like my entire life had been nothing but a waste of time, nothing more than building blocks knocked over with the swipe of a careless hand. The girl I loved didn’t love me back, my future was ultimately nothing more than a fuzzy, fractured blur. I couldn’t see anything clearly other than waste and ruin.

But I saw her. And I saw that I scared her.

It was the last thing I wanted to do but my loneliness was just as big and just as consuming as hers was. It spread out, hungry and angry, looking to consume anyone that might try and challenge its reign.

I tried to pull myself together, apologized because I knew our paths would cross again now that she lived next door to my best friend. I didn’t want to be another man that she was terrified of. I locked the loneliness down, wrestled it into submission, and tried to quiet down the wild inside of me that was howling, screaming at the loss of its mate. I wanted to be nothing more than gnashing teeth and tearing claws but I swallowed those instincts and allowed myself to be like a kicked puppy that just wanted to whimper and cry.

Poppy had been through more than I could imagine. She was the one I couldn’t look away from, but even then, she managed to slip past me and disappear. She looked like honey but she moved like a ghost. I memorized everything about her even though she hardly let me see her face.

I wasn’t supposed to be looking at anything other than how to salvage the mess my life was in, but she was all I could see.

My Review:
Hudson Wheeler is a man with a busted heart. The love of his life, Kallie, has finally confessed that she’s not able to marry him–despite loving him–because she’s really in love with another woman. And, also, she’s pregnant with his child. This all happens a few months before their intended wedding date. Wheeler’s an orphan, and only with Kallie’s family did he find a home, but Kallie’s fear of coming out to her parents has left Wheeler looking like a Class-A Jerk to her folks.

So, he’s sexing his way through half of Denver to avoid sitting alone in the Kallie-furnished home he bought for her and their family. He’s a good guy, making bad decisions, but none of that matters when he begins to build a rapport with Poppy Cruz.

Poppy is on the fringe of the Denver cadre of barmen and tattoo artists due to her sister, Salem, attached to Rowdy–their childhood neighbor. She’s lived through emotional and physical abuse, and kidnap, rape and torture by her deceased ex-husband. Her father, a respected minister, is a head case who psychologically battered Poppy, Salem and their mother all their lives. Wheeler has some sense of this, and approaches Poppy with caution, and compassion.

They bond over the training of a rescue dog Poppy brings Wheeler, and each work through their trauma with frank discussions and small gestures. Soon, Poppy recognizes that she’d like more, and Wheeler’s content to move at her pace.

This is a sweet and tender romance that brings Poppy’s family full circle, and closes the loop on the Denver stories from Crownover. We have lots of looks at good friends from the Saints books and also Marked Men, but this always feels like Poppy and Wheeler’s story. They make peace with Kallie, and her family, and their demons, but there’s still more struggle for Poppy to endure. I liked how Wheeler found family when he least expected to, and how he made a life with the family he built. I really loved this one, and recommend it on it’s own–or to cap the series.

Interested? You can find SALVAGED on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo and Google Plus.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win signed three-book sets of BUILT, CHARGED and RIVETED for 2 winners .
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men and The Point series. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she’ll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.

Catch up with Jay on her website, blog, Facebook, Twitter and Goodreads.

InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Championing Women AHE-EY: Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a supernatural epic from Jamie Le Fay. AHE’EY had been published as a serial, but is now collected into one epic book for her readers to enjoy. It’s a little bit angel, a little bit mortal and a lotta bit confrontational.

Catch my review below and be sure to enter the book giveaway, too!

About the book:
Morgan’s feminist books didn’t prepare her to deal with the dashing Gabriel and the land of Ahe’ey.
Morgan is a dreamer, change maker and art lover. She is a feisty, slightly preachy, romantic feminist full of contradictions and insecurities. Morgan uncovers a world where women have the power, and where magic is no longer just a figment of her wild imagination. Sounds like a dream, but it may, in fact, turn into a nightmare.

The world of the Ahe’ey challenges and subverts her views about gender, genes, and nature versus nurture.

The strong and uninvited chemistry between her and the dashing Gabriel makes matters even more complicated. His stunning looks keep short-circuiting her rational mind.

How about a little taste?

“What do you want from me, Ange’el?”

“Your warriors, they can help secure the area. It’s just for a couple of hours.”

Are you out of your mind? Has Viviane heard about this? My warriors protect our people from those who threaten our security,” she spoke decisively.

He adjusted his tone, trying to reason with her. Silk and honey flowed from his voice and his eyes. “Sky, we were once—”

“Don’t you dare. Don’t you dare!” She leaned in, speaking to his face. Her hand squeezed the hilt of her sword. She gritted her teeth, responding to his silence. “Where were you when we battled the Hu’urei for over twenty years? Where was the powerful prince of Ange’el as my warriors died in the battlefield, crushed by the dragons? Why would I risk the safety of Ahe’ey to respond to the whims of a spoiled coward? Go back to your rich city penthouse Ange’el. You don’t belong here.” Her eyes and her words were razor-sharp spears.

“Please. Sky.”

She mounted the horse and galloped away.

His guilty conscience endured her justified anger and her hate for him. He wore her wrath as a reminder of his weakness, of his betrayal. He gave Sky her rage, and he would suffer it for the rest of their lives. The tension between their roles at Ahe’ey only worsened their frail and fractured relationship. Their agendas were different. She was ultimately responsible for the security of the people of Ahe’ey, and within its borders she was as powerful as the queen and king. She was to be obeyed and rarely needed her mighty army to enforce her orders. Gabriel worked to hide any clues of Ahe’ey’s existence from the humans. In parallel, he sponsored and lobbied for technological and political progress so that Ahe’ey’s secrets could one day be disclosed.

My Review:
Morgan is a super woman of her own making unawares that she’s descended from a superrace that still dwells on Earth. She’s captivated and flummoxed by Gabriel, a man of that race who lives among humanity. As Morgan learns more about this world-within-a-world she gains power she hadn’t expected. And, maybe, finds love.

AHE’EY is an epic fantasy about superbeings who live amongst us human on Earth, told from myriad viewpoints that jump in and out of the mortal realm on Earth. That’s normally a good thing, for me, because it means I’m always in the center of the action as a reader. However, the verbose descriptions between the human realm and the Ahe’ey were exhausting. The complete collection here was about 200,000 words, and I think we could have done without a third of them. Plus, honestly, I was put off by the mundanity of it all. When I’m reading Fantasy, I want to be transported. I don’t want the dialogue to sound like a contemporary YA/MG story.

The battles between the castes seemed forced, and the “drama” of this life-and-death arrangement also didn’t make sense to me. I’m not a big women’s studies genre reader, because I’m all about the romance, and this didn’t draw me to the cause, I must say. It felt very formulaic, and I didn’t connect with any of the myriad characters as a result. The pace bogged, like I mentioned, with large chunks of dense description which damped my interest right quick. The lackluster dialogue sealed Ahe-ey’s fate, for me.

I jumped on this book based on the recommendations, but I wasn’t in love with the execution. I think, for people who really love Fantasy and descriptive literature, you might find this intriguing.

Interested? You can find AHE’EY on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win one of TWO paperback copies of AHE’EY.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the author:

Jamie is an accomplished writer and speaker that focuses mainly on topics related to girlhood, feminism, gender equality, and the misrepresentation of minorities in media and marketing.

WebsiteGoodreadsTwitterFacebook

Overcoming the Hate–FIGHTER-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary M/M sports romance from Carol Lynne. FIGHTER is a bit of a sports epic with a huge cast and a lot of heart.

About the book:
For Lucky Gunn, the hardest fight of his life happens outside the cage. On the south side of Chicago sits an old gym called The Brick Yard. Ten years ago, on a bitterly cold day, Lucky Gunn wandered into The Brick Yard dressed in a threadbare jacket, looking for refuge. He hadn’t expected the owner, Tony Brick, to welcome him with a job and a place to sleep when Lucky’s abusive and drug addicted mother made it too dangerous to return home.

Dray was a gay man living in a world of straight fighters. When his secret was exposed to the media, he dropped out, giving Lucky a piece of advice: if you want to make it as a MMA fighter, bury the part of yourself that won’t be accepted. Lucky discovered the cage was the perfect place to keep his demons at bay, but when he learns his trainer and mentor, Brick, is suffering from end-stage cancer, he begins to spiral out of control.

After eight years, Dray returns to help Lucky and Brick deal with the devastating news. With Dray so close, Lucky’s old desires return, and Dray teaches him more than how to fight. Torn between his career and the passion he feels for Dray, Lucky’s past demons resurface in full force, threatening his sanity and his budding relationship with Dray. Despite leaving the cage years earlier, Dray finds himself in the battle of his life with the only man he’s ever loved. Will he stand and fight, or walk away like he did years earlier?

My Review:
This is a bit of a “sports epic” in that the story arc stretches over the MMA fighting careers of two men and ten-ish years. Dray is an up-and-coming MMA fighter, the pride of The Brick Yard training facility on Chicago’s mean streets. He’s all set to get a title bout when his secret–that he’s gay–gets splashed out. Dray runs, unwilling to see how the fans hate him for his sexuality, heaving behind his mentor and pseudo-father Tony Brick, the man who raised him and saved his life in that broken down gym.

Flash-forward eight years: Lucky Gunn, who’d been a wide-eyed teen spending most of his nights in The Brick Yard’s laundry room, and watched Dray’s rise and fall is now out on the MMA circuit, only Tony’s too sick to be a good coach. He’s dying of cancer and it’s a huge mess. He reaches out to Dray to come back to Chicago and coach Lucky to a championship, and Dray resists. First, because he doesn’t want to taint Lucky’s career and later, because he’s really attracted to Lucky, and the feeling is mutual.

The thing is, Lucky’s not willing to hide his love for Dray, and he’s also doesn’t really care if his career suffers. He’s got a good life, now, and he wants a family like he’s built with The Brick Yard people, taking in runaways like Tony did with him. But, he can’t imagine doing it on his own, and he’s struggling watching Tony waste away.

So, for me, the book was less about coming out than it is about finding one’s tribe. Tony is a remarkable man whose history of saving young men from the mean streets dates back decades. The boys he saved number legion, but they all felt he was a father figure to only them. As Dray and Lucky comfort and care for Tony on his journey to peace, they learn how very much he cared for all of them, and their new passion, besides each other, becomes how to preserve Tony Brick’s legacy. They get some help from unlikely sources, but it only makes this whole story sweeter. Lucky’s still collecting kids, just the way Tony had, but now on a larger scale as they keep The Brick Yard open and include the special services help that these runaways need. Dray and Lucky are saving one kid at a time. Also, it’s good that both men are young, fit and fighters, because sometimes a bit of “Convincing” must be done to save kids from abusive parents who just won’t let go.

It’s a tender and compassionate story, and the stage is set for Dray and Lucky to make a real difference for the castaway gay youth on Chicago, it seems. Expect sweaty sexytimes and some grieving, too.

Interested? You can find FIGHTER on Goodreads, Pride Publishing, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

About the Author: In Carol Lynne’s words…
Well, to be honest, I’m completely boring. I spend my days juggling two young children and my writing career. You’re just as likely to either catch me writing a steamy love scene or scrubbing jelly out of the carpet.

Besides writing, my biggest passion is reading. I have a lot of authors I follow (no not in the stalking sense), but Sean Michaels, B.A. Tortuga, J.M. Snyder and Chris Owen have to be my all-time favorites.

Here are some unusual facts about me:

I drink gallons of coffee every day, but I much prefer instant. I catch all kinds of flack for this from my family and friends. Even though I only drink instant, I am very picky about which brand I buy. It must be Taster’s Choice or nothing.

I love country music, but can’t stand to have music playing in my house. Therefore, I don’t even own a stereo or radio of any kind. I listen to my tunes as I’m driving around town and that’s enough for me.

I like to refer to myself as underheight instead of overweight. I’m just sure that if I could add another six or seven inches to my short 5’2 frame, I’d be much thinner. Therefore, it’s not that I overeat, it’s just that I stopped growing.

I enjoy the Hallmark commercials more than I enjoy the Hallmark movies.

Well, sorry folks, that’s about all I’ve got for you. Maybe someday soon I’ll have something really exciting to put on this page, but for now, this is me in a nutshell.

Catch up with Carol on her website, and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Out Today and FREE: SWEET SIXTEEN on INKLO


Hi there! Today I’m sharing info on a new release and a new reading app from Brenda Rothert. SWEET SIXTEEN is a contemporary YA romance and is being released in episodes for free via the INKLO app. Check out the info below.

About the book:
In Roper, Missouri, football is everything. At least, to everyone but high school senior Gin Scott. Gin plans to escape her hometown as soon as she graduates, but her plans to stay under the radar until then are ruined when her secret crush, quarterback Chase Matthews, offers her a coveted spot as one of the Sweet Sixteen.

It’s an honor Roper girls dream of, but for independent Gin, it’s more like a nightmare. By rejecting Chase’s invitation, she is ostracized from her classmates, and eventually, most of her town.

How sweet it is.

About INKLO:
INKLO is a mobile app and digital self-publishing platform that turns written stories into real-time, social experiences.
The app is very user-friendly. Once you’ve downloaded the app, you will be able to follow authors and/or stories to read the new chapter posted each week. Reading stories on INKLO is and always will be FREE.

Interested? You can find SWEET SIXTEEN on INKLO and it can be read for FREE! You can read an episode each week on the INKLO app and even react to it in real time! Chat with your friends and follow the book to be notified of new chapters!

All you have to do is download the INKLO app, find the book, and click “follow”.
Go to the INKLO site for more details…

About the Author:
Brenda Rothert is an Illinois native who was a print journalist for nine years. She made the jump from fact to fiction in 2013 and never looked back. From new adult to steamy contemporary romance, Brenda creates fresh characters in every story she tells. She’s a lover of Diet Coke, chocolate, lazy weekends and happily ever afters.

You can find Brenda on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Wattpad, Amazon, or sign up for her newsletter.
InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Falling For the SUMMER HEAT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share a review for a steamy new M/M romance from Jay Northcote! SUMMER HEAT is a standalone M/M friends-to-lovers romance that left me feeling hot and sunny. I’m a super fangirl of Jay’s contemporary romances, like LIKE A LOVER, PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT, and STARTING FROM SCRATCH, so there was no chance I’d miss out on this steamy love story.

About the book:
A summer fling is an ideal cure for a broken heart. But when it’s with your best friend, things get complicated.
When Adam is dumped by his boyfriend, a week away at a beach resort seems like a great opportunity to get over his ex. Sun, sea, and no-strings sex will be just the boost he needs to move on with his life.

Adam’s best friend, Finn, agrees to accompany him at short notice. Finn’s had a crush on Adam for years, but is determined to put his feelings aside and be the perfect wingman in Adam’s time of crisis.

A spontaneous threesome with another guy forces Adam and Finn to confront their attraction to each other. Having a holiday fling together wasn’t part of the plan, and as their trip heats up, they soon realize that one night of fun won’t be enough for either of them.

The passion might be scorching, but their hearts and friendship are on the line. If their romance is going to survive the flight home, they have to be honest about what they want.

My Review:
Adam is a young professional man living with his fiance, Drew, a man 15 years his senior, for the past five years. Drew’s been working late and stressed, so Adam’s doing all he can to make life easier, until Drew confesses that he’s begun seeing a younger man from work…and thinks it’s best if they split up.

Yeah, oh, and the next week they were supposed to fly off to a gay resort in Spain to “reconnect.” Adam’s heartbroken and turns to his best friend in the world, Finn, for a safe place to crash land. Finn, who has had a long-time crush on Adam, is all too happy to bring Adam into his flat–even if it’s too-close quarters. Being in Finn’s space, he begins to recognize that they have a spark. But Finn’s a guy who doesn’t like strings and Adam’s a man who wants to settle down. They’d never work long-term, Adam thinks, and he doesn’t want to mess up their friendship.

Still, he’s got the tickets for the trip, and Finn’s self-employed, so they jet off from London to Spain for a week of sun, fun and sexytimes to help Adam get past Drew. They meet intriguing people from the start, and though Adam’s nervous, one man is particularly persistent–and intuits Finn’s dilemma. Problems get solved, temporarily, when this spicy young thing suggests they go for a threesome. And, wow! Adam and Finn’s worldviews shift dramatically in that one encounter. Finn has known for a long time he’s wanted to settle down with Adam, if that were a possibility, and Adam’s so attracted to Finn that he can’t quit him, not for anything. There’s not a lot of friction after that moment.

Well, not a lot of emotional friction, because they burn up the sheets in the next couple of days. These guys have loved each other a long time, each in their own ways. Adam and Finn both need to speak about their intense feelings, though, if they want to make it last past Spain. Expect some super hot moments, some naked vulnerability and a satisfying ending that allows Adam to walk tall when he packs his belongings out of Drew’s apartment.

Interested? You can find SUMMER HEAT on Goodreads and Amazon (US or UK).

About 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.

You can find Jay on his website, Twitter, Facebook Author Page, and Amazon.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

signal boost

ROMANCING THE UGLY DUCKLING Release Day Blast and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m getting the word out about a new contemporary M/M romance from Clare London. ROMANCING THE UGLY DUCKLING looks like a fun and interesting odd-couple romance of finding love, acceptance and adventure. I really liked ROMANCING THE WRONG TWIN, so I can’t wait to read this one!

Catch an excerpt below and be sure to enter the GC giveaway, too.
About the book:
Is this the makeover of a lifetime?
Ambitious fashionista Perry Goodwood lands the project of his dreams—track down a celebrity family’s missing brother in the Scottish Highlands and bring him back to London for a TV reality show. But first he must transform the rugged loner into a glamorous sophisticate.

Greg Ventura has no use for high fashion. He lives on the isolated island of North Uist to escape the reminder that he’s nowhere near as handsome as his gorgeous brothers and avoid the painful childhood memories of being bullied.

Greg wants nothing to do with city life, and Perry’s never been outside London. When Perry is stranded on North Uist, this conflict seems insurmountable. But Greg is captivated by the vivacious Perry, and Perry by both the island and his host. However, Perry’s one heartfelt wish remains: that ugly duckling Greg fulfill his potential as a swan.

How about a little taste?

After the meal, they settled in the living room again. Greg poured himself a glass of what he introduced as his homemade wine, but Perry politely declined a glass for himself. He couldn’t recall any decent wine he’d ever drunk being that particular shade of purple. He was definitely making a mental shopping list for when he could find somewhere civilized, and gin and tonic would come several steps above couscous on that.

Greg picked up a book and started reading. Perry waited a while—after deciding against asking what they could watch on the miniscule TV in the corner of the living room, with obvious dust settling on the controls—then coughed to get Greg’s attention. “Where do you need me tomorrow?”

Greg peered at him over the book. “What are you talking about?”

“Working together, remember? Um. What exactly do you do, apart from painting?”

Greg’s look was possibly sly, but that could have been due to the waning light outside the cottage.

“Sometimes I work in the Sea Bird restaurant.”

Perry thought he remembered seeing a sign to that place on his journey here in Dougie’s car. The building itself had been very small, more like a tea room, with a single light on in the front porch, and it didn’t look very open for business. But he’d go with the flow. “Are you a chef?”

Greg laughed. He seemed more relaxed tonight. “No, I think you’ve realized my cooking skills aren’t the best. And it’s not really big enough for a chef and full kitchen staff. I mean, it wouldn’t meet your London standards.”

“That has nothing to do with anything.”

“What?”

“My London… standards, experience, whatever you want to call it. I’m in Uist now, and I want to know what you do here.”

Greg was looking at him oddly. Was he, Perry, coming across as too bossy? God, this man was impossible to gauge properly.

“It’s more of a large dining room where friends can hang out.” Greg still sounded reasonably relaxed. “It’s owned by a couple of elderly sisters who are marvelous cooks, and we sometimes hire it out for a celebration. We’re not big on dinner parties here, you can imagine. I help out with serving when it’s busy. But mainly I provide the fish dishes, especially scallops.”

“You’re a fisherman?”

Greg nodded slowly, his gaze still on Perry. “Yes, you could say that. I’m a diver. I dive for scallops.”

“Can’t you just… I don’t know.” Buy them in a shop? “Don’t they have official suppliers?”

Greg frowned. “Hand-collected scallops are better. The sweeter ones are chosen, and the dish is more precious. Haven’t you ever tasted the difference?”

It pained Perry to admit weakness, but he did. “I’ve never had scallops in my life.”

Greg’s eyes narrowed. “I thought you lived in the center of the sophisticated city?”

“We can’t all afford posh restaurants,” Perry snapped back, then blushed at—yet again—having to admit shortcoming.

“Oh.” Greg blinked. “Well, you’ll see them in the raw when you come out in the boat tomorrow with me.”

“When I…? Tomorrow…? Boat?”

Greg smiled slowly. “Yes. The weather should be fine, so I’m driving west past Lochmaddy to one of my favorite coastal seawater lochs. I’ll pack some provisions so we can eat lunch there. You can help carry the equipment, then collect the scallops into boxes and keep watch for me.”

“We… I….” Perry was struggling for words. Worse, Greg seemed to realize it and find it highly amusing. “I’ve never been in one.”

“One what?”

“Boat. I’ve never been in a boat. Well, until the ferry two days ago.”

Greg nodded, also slowly. “That’s fine. You can stay here if you want.”

“No!” Perry’s cry was instinctive. Did this brute of a bloke think he, Perry, was a lightweight? “I will not! We made a deal.”

“Okay. Well, I hope Bridie brought a selection of decent waterproofs as well as your day clothes, because you’ll need them.”

“You said the weather should be fine….”

“Just in case,” Greg said ominously. He concentrated back on his book.

Perry sat silently for a long moment. In fact, everything was silent, inside the cottage and out, apart from the occasional call from a bird, and Greg turning a page. Perry wasn’t used to such quiet. Nor was he used to living in close quarters with a man who barely tolerated him, and actually wanted him to get lost. There was a small pile of paperbacks on the table beside Greg’s armchair, and Perry picked one up. He also wasn’t used to reading anthologies of horror stories, his preference being for romantic comedies and the occasional biography—but he supposed there was always a first time. Opening it to the first chapter, he bit back a sigh. At least he’d won this stage of the battle with Greg Ventura, and he had more time to convince him about the TV project.

But thinking about the trip out onto a likely freezing Scottish loch tomorrow, he wasn’t sure whether the price would be too much to pay.

Interested? You can find ROMANCING THE UGLY DUCKLING on Goodreads, Dreamspinner Press, Amazon (US and UK), Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and iTunes.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC from Clare London.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

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

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

Catch up to Clare on her website, blog, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, Amazon, and Google+.

signal boost

Confrontation Connection: CONNING COLIN-Review & Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M contemporary romance from Brad Vance and Elsa Winters. CONNING COLIN is a savvy new adult romance between a cash-strapped college grad turned sex worker and the newly-out, newly-divorced voice actor who wants to learn all about the gay sex from a cultured, sexy man–even if he is a high-dollar escort. It was sweet with interesting twists, and I haven’t read a Brad Vance book I didn’t adore. Catch my reviews for WEREWOLVES OF BROOKLYN, WOULD I LIE TO YOU? and STRENGTH IN NUMBERS to see why.

Drop down to check out an excerpt and get in on the book giveaway, too!
About the book:
Hamilton Dillon is a high class Manhattan escort, polished, well dressed, and cultured. Colin O’Neill is recently divorced, questioning his sexuality, and disappointed by his first fumbling gay hookups. So he figures, why not hire the best of the best to show him the ropes?

What he doesn’t know is that Hamilton Dillon is really Henry Davis, yet another New Yorker living on the financial edge, cobbling together several jobs to make a living. “Hamilton” has one great suit he can wear on an overnight date, but Henry’s got a good friend at GQ who makes a nice side income renting designer men’s wear for weddings, job interviews, and oh yeah, high end escorts on long weekend assignments. The “top agency” that represents “Hamilton” is really just a smartass lady in India with a Skype account, whose face Henry’s never seen. Oh, and Henry’s also the gruff and very unpolished New York Straight Man “Dillinger,” a solo porn star.

In other words, he’s not at all who Colin thinks he is. Which is just fine, until their relationship gets… complicated.

How about a little taste?

Colin O’Neill hung up the phone, dizzy with excitement and fear. He’d done it. He’d called the number, talked to the agency, and booked a “date” with Hamilton Dillon.

He’d looked at Hamilton’s Rentmen.com ad a hundred times, at least, over the last three months. He’d looked forward to new profile photos the way a kid keeps an ear cocked for the ice cream truck. Even though all the profile pictures had been beheaded for discretion, it didn’t matter. Hamilton Dillon had a way of posing that expressed more personality with his body than most other guys ever did with their faces.

The way he sat on a park bench in nothing but a pair of running shorts and Nikes, shirtless, manspread, his arms thrown over the back of the bench, his strong graceful neck taut, telling you that the face just out of frame was tilted up towards the Central Park sunshine, that the man was reveling in his easy beauty, the unique joy that comes from being young and hot and free in New York City…

Then the way he floated in the air in those same shorts and Nikes, leaping for a football, the camera capturing him from behind in the moment the ball touched his fingers, the imminence of his success apparent, ordained, the muscles in his back bunched, the mass of his shoulders gathered together, sweat flying off his brown hair, in the seconds before you knew he landed on the lawn, arms curled around the ball, surely to rise in triumph and be slapped on the back by all his equally hot and shirtless buddies…

The way he sat at a café table, in a slim fit navy blue polo shirt, one of his sculpted vascular arms holding open a well-worn copy of The Fortress of Solitude and the other just toying with a cup of espresso as if it was the back of another man’s hand…

Colin often did something that very few men did anymore, which was to masturbate furiously and successfully to a series of still photos. And with no penises in sight, to boot. He’d done it so often over the last three months that he’d stopped donating his old t-shirts, because he needed them for cleanup duty, at least until they became hopelessly stained.

He had been divorced for six months now, amicably, from a wife who’d pretty much always known he was gay but had decided to let him figure it out for himself. Elspeth was a career woman whose need for a husband was seasonal, from the company picnic in July to the company Christmas party in December, with various client dinners in between.

He was twenty seven years old, and had engaged in sexual intercourse with one woman and two men. Intercourse was pretty much the word for it, he thought. It sounded less like passion and more like, well, cars merging on the freeway, and all three partners had been just about that exciting. (Actually less so, since on the freeway there was always the thrilling risk of death at the hands of someone who’d rather kill you than let you merge.)

Then one night, half drunk and inhibitions lowered, he’d thought, Fuck it, let’s hire a professional and see how it feels when it’s done right.

He’d paged through the escort ads on Rentmen, hundreds of them in Manhattan alone. It was mind numbing, the diversity, and it was overwhelming, the number of choices. He knew he didn’t want to visit Master Bob in his safe and private play space, and he knew he didn’t want to party with Anaconda Joe. The ones who caught his eye were, well yeah, the ones who looked… classy. The one thing he knew he didn’t want was to get ripped off.

And he didn’t want it to feel… He didn’t want to feel like he’d got a burger in a fast food drive through. He wanted it to be special, if that was really possible with a paid companion and not just something that happened to teenage boys in Hollywood movies.

But even the upscale-looking ones, well, there was something about them that… He knew it was good business, to offer yourself up as “versatile,” and available for “mild to wild,” but… Well, the more he saw what he didn’t want, the more a picture began to form in his mind of what he did want. He didn’t want someone who looked like an investment banker but whose profile also said, “Hey I look classy but I can drop it if you just want a dirty pig fest and you’ve got the money for it.”

No. He wanted someone who was one thing. Who wasn’t whoever you wanted him to be. But who was what he said he was. Classy, for real. Not “up for anything.”

And then he found Harrison Dillon.

Thoughts from Author Brad Vance on his new book and more…

Tell us something about your character’s friends.
Henry Davis has some great friends. He’d never manage his high end escort career without the help of Benjamin, who works at GQ and loans Henry the designer suits he can’t afford on his own. And Cameron, who runs the website Straight Guys of New York, where Henry picks up a little extra cash pretending to be rough-and-tough guy “Dillinger.” I really wanted to highlight how many people are dependent on a side hustle, just to make ends meet in an expensive city.

What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food?
Henry loves to curl up with a pint of Ben and Jerry’s, especially Stephen Colbert’s Americone Dream. He snuggles on the couch and watches White Collar for the seventh time, and doesn’t worry about dripping ice cream on his Mets t-shirt. As “Harrison Dillon,” he’s got to be immaculate, but as Henry, he can be a slob.

What activity does your character absolutely hate?
Well, dressing up! Henry’s not really a suit and tie guy. Only watching Matt Bomer in White Collar taught him how to wear those clothes comfortably, naturally. In normal life, he’s just a dude, in cargo shorts and a T.

What’s your character’s secret fantasy?
Henry’s always wanted to be a screenwriter. Becoming an escort was a way for him to literally “buy time,” to escape the hamster wheel of Cubicle City and write. He’s found that time alone isn’t always enough, but without the time, well, it would be even harder.

What’s your favorite decade and why?
This one. Because I’m still alive, I’m still engaged in what’s going on around me in art, culture, style, humor. I’d hate to be stuck in the past! Once you start rattling on about how much better things were in Decade X… you’re old. I don’t plan on getting old, I mean, what’s in it for me?

My Review:
Henry Davis is a recent college grad with a degree in English and writing, and no desire to work for peanuts in the cube-world. He aspires to be a screen-writer, if only he can find his muse. In the meantime, being an escort paid all his college debts, and he’s supporting himself and a family member in need with his earnings. That is a really awesome part of his story, but I don’t want to spoil it–so trust me! Henry’s pretty much as selfless as they come. And boy, do they come!

Okay, Henry has two personas he adopts for his sex worker roles: Hamilton Dillon is a cultured and stunning man in thousand-dollar suits he rents from a pal who works in the fashion pages of GC magazine. The other, “Dillinger” is a “straight” Queens bro who jacks his junk to make bank in solo porn shoots. It’s quite the interesting juxtaposition. Henry tends to lose himself in his roles, and is baffled when his interactions with his newest client, Colin O’Neill, blur the lines between his professional persona as Hamilton, and Henry’s own need for intimacy and connection.

Colin is a newly divorced voice actor who doesn’t have a lot of disposable income. He gets an allowance from his ex-wife, with whom he had an amiable, mutually-beneficial arrangement. She wanted a husband because it helped her image at work, and he accepted her proposal, mostly because they got along. He’s never had a passionate relationship and they barely shared more than a few sexual encounters over their six years of marriage. He took acting classes and bonded with a classmate, however, and it was the beginning of Colin recognizing that he is likely gay–something his wife had long suspected, and wasn’t the least bit upset over. Thing is, Colin has crippling stage fright, and he’s a timid man by nature. He missed out on telling his pal how he’d felt, but he’s not going to waste too much more time in the “figure out Colin” phase of life.

Buoyed by a big payday for a voice-over spot, Colin FINALLY dials the number for Hamilton Dillon’s escort services. He’s stalked Hamilton’s web advertisement for several months and has definite fantasies that the cultured, attractive man he sees online will be the best tutor for Colin’s fledgling bedroom skills. He’s only tried to date a couple guys since his divorce and both were abject failures. So, Colin’s willing to pony up the fee for expert Hamilton’s tutelage.

And, naturally, Henry is ready to be his very best Hamilton for Colin. It’s a heady experience for both men, even when it isn’t physical. Colin is more than a little gone for Hamilton, and the lines are increasingly blurred the more “dates” they arrange. Henry is captivated by Colin’s vulnerability and the intimacy they continue to develop. It’s really so very sweet, and so very inspiring–Henry has found his muse, in the combination of Hamilton and Colin’s developing relationship. Meanwhile, Colin’s sessions with Hamilton leave him feeling elated and confident enough to try live auditions for the first time in years.

What comes next is something they hadn’t planned for, and it brings moments of heartbreak and rejection, but that’s just reality. The fun part of reality, as opposed to the fantasy they had been experiencing, is that Colin and Henry can find a common ground that actually exists and build something true and real. Which, I was happy to discover, they do. I’m used to the grand, twisting plots of Brad Vance, and I wasn’t disappointed here. Henry is a complex man, with his debts and his desires and his personas. Colin isn’t complicated. He wants a true partner, even if it isn’t convenient. They each grow a lot in the time they spend together, and that was awesome to experience as a reader. They also have some yummy hawt sexytimes, and some incredibly tender moments, times that have both men confused about the roles they are supposed to be playing. That said, the HEA exists, and it felt genuine. Highly recommend.

Interested? You can find CONNING COLIN on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win an ebook of THE ROAD HOME.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Brad Vance writes romance stories and novels, including the breakout hits “A Little Too Broken” and “Given the Circumstances.” Keep up with Brad on his website, Facebook, twitter or email him. at BradVanceAuthor AT gmail (dot) com.