Pining for Him–ONE PLUS ONE Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a brand new M/M new adult romance from P.A. Friday. ONE PLUS ONE is the second book in her Maths series, but is easily read as a standalone.

Chapter one is excerpted below, and there’s a book giveaway too!

About the book:
James Cape has been in love with his mother’s best friend Laurie since James was sixteen and Laurie an inaccessible twenty-six. When he’s turned down flat by the older man just after his nineteenth birthday, James’s best friend Al encourages him to forget Laurie and find someone else. And James tries, he really does.

But can he cope with his feelings for Laurie, his best friend’s home-life problems, and the deteriorating health of his father, all at the same time? And will Laurie ever notice the young man who’s right in front of him?

Catch the first chapter below!

James Cape was fourteen years old when he realised he was gay, fifteen when he came out to his best friend, and sixteen when he realised how he’d recognised he was gay in the first place. He’d thought he’d ‘just known’ until his mother’s friend Laurie came over one day with his new boyfriend, Kieran—the first boyfriend he’d ever bothered bringing round—and James had felt his heart explode with jealousy and rage. Kieran couldn’t have Laurie. Laurie belonged with him.

The longed-for relationship wasn’t—quite—as inappropriate as it might have sounded. Laurie was his mother’s friend, yes, but he wasn’t his mother’s age. Gillie, James’s mum, was thirty-nine; Laurie, twenty-six. They’d met online when James was about nine and had made friends over the next year, despite the age gap. When Gillie had discovered that Laurie was a student at the university she herself taught at, she’d invited him over, and he’d become a regular visitor. To start with, James hadn’t been much interested—the gap between ten years old and twenty was a big one, and James had been more interested in playing with Al, his best friend both then and now. Between them, the pair had teased and hassled and joked around with Laurie, treating him as something between a friend and an older brother; but as the years had passed, James’s feelings towards Laurie had changed. He just hadn’t realised quite how much they had changed until Laurie turned up with Kieran by his side.

It wasn’t as if Laurie had never had boyfriends in the past. He had. But he’d never brought them over to James’s house before, and that made all the difference. When Laurie had been at James’s house, he hadn’t belonged to anyone else. He’d been theirs. With Kieran there, the dynamic was different—spoilt. Al, also over for the weekend—as usual—cocked a knowing eyebrow at James’s moodiness and dragged him out for a long walk.

“You don’t like the boyfriend,” Al said when they were in the woods and miles from anywhere. Trust Al to get straight to the point.

James shrugged. “Bit of a wanker, that’s all. Laurie could do better.”

“Mm.” Al didn’t sound convinced. “D’you remember telling me that you weren’t interested in Laura Fielding because Mary MacDonald had bigger tits?”

“What?” James looked at his best mate in bewilderment. “That was nearly two years ago. Why are you bringing that up again?”

“You weren’t interested in Laura Fielding because she was a girl, and you weren’t interested in girls,” Al said bluntly. “By the way, I’m still pissed off it took you nearly a year to tell me you were gay. You can’t have thought I’d give a toss.”

“You’re still the only person who knows,” James pointed out.

James and Al’s school was not the sort of place where it was safe to be ‘out’. James had no intention of telling anyone else about his sexuality until he’d left. Telling Al was different—Al was Al. And he was quite right; James knew he could tell Al anything and Al wouldn’t care. You could say what you liked about Al—and most people did—but he was intensely loyal. To James, at any rate. When it came to relationships, it was a different matter. Unlike James, Al liked girls and had a steady stream of girlfriends, but none of them lasted longer than a month before he got itchy. Usually it was considerably shorter.

“They get so clingy,” Al had complained. “They want stuff.”

“That’s called dating,” James had told him unsympathetically.

He was amazed anyone still agreed to go out with Al, but there was something about his best friend. He had a strange sort of manic charm, and his very unpredictability seemed to draw people in. However, that was a different matter. Why Al had gone back to harping about old news, James couldn’t imagine.

“Thing is,” Al said, scuffing the last of the autumn leaves with his shoe—the woods didn’t seem to have cottoned on to the fact that it was March, “it didn’t have anything to do with Mary MacDonald.”

“Al, you’ve lost me.”

Al—so very like James to look at in some ways: dark-haired, regular features, similar body shape, albeit several inches shorter—looked seriously at his friend.

“It’s not Kieran you don’t like,” he said. “It’s Laurie having a boyfriend.”

“He’s had boyfriends before,” James said defensively.

“Ah. Hasn’t brought them home, though, has he? Different thing altogether.”

James shrugged petulantly. “I just think Kieran’s an idiot, that’s all.”

Al knew when to stop—usually. “Whatever you say, mate. Just…don’t piss Laurie off by being too rude to his guy, you know? Probably a bad plan.”

Which, as James admitted and worked by, was a sensible idea. But when Laurie turned up a fortnight later alone, James couldn’t help his heart lifting.

“No Kieran?” he asked, hoping Laurie would say that they’d broken up.

Laurie gave him a lazy smile. “No, not this time. I wanted you lot to myself. Any objections?”

“Nope.”

The weather was nice, and they were all sitting out in the garden, drinking beer. James and Al—who spent considerably more weekends at James’s house than at his own, to the point that Gillie and Terry, James’s dad, had assigned the spare bedroom as belonging to him—had been told that one was their limit, to Al’s laughing protest. James had his guitar out and was strumming it from time to time. He had a passion for music and already knew that he wanted to study it at university; it was just a case of getting through GCSEs (now only a few months away) and A levels first. Al was more interested in drama and films, which gave him something in common with Laurie, who was currently working on a PhD in Film Studies, focusing on bringing books to life as films, with particular emphasis on the Lord of the Rings trilogy. The trilogy was special in another way—Gillie and Laurie had met via an online discussion board about the films and had found they got on well, moving from there to talking about everything under the sun. “And some things not under it,” Gillie usually added at this point, as science fiction and astrophysics had also been discussed. James joked that his mum was a science geek on the quiet.

“Just surprised you could bear to be parted from him,” Al added cheekily.

Laurie took a gulp of beer and shook his head sadly at Al. “We’re twenty-six, not sixteen, Al. We can manage to be parted for an entire afternoon without dying of angst. You might be like that, but we’re not.”

James snorted. “Al? Seriously? God knows why he has girlfriends because he seems to spend all his time hiding from them once he’s dating them.”

“An interesting approach.”

“I like snogging them and suchlike,” Al said cheerfully. “It’s just the rest of it which is a bother. Is it like that with you, Laurie, then? You’ve only got your bloke for the snogging? And the suchlike,” he added thoughtfully.

James tried not to blush at the thought of Laurie doing ‘the suchlike’ with Kieran. It seemed Laurie was having a similar problem as he choked back a laugh.

“I can’t say I object to that side of things, but no, there’s a little more to it than that, thanks.”

“Al, are you teasing Laurie again?” Gillie called from where she was chatting animatedly with James’s dad. Terry was having a good day today; the wheelchair was at the side of the garden, and he was managing to potter round to check on his vegetables with just the aid of a stick. James was pleased—his dad had had too few good days recently. Multiple Sclerosis was a bugger. “I’ll have to get you a muzzle.”

“Just showing a friendly interest,” Al said, blinking would-be innocent green eyes at his friend’s mother, who unfortunately for him knew quite how much to trust that particular look.

“That’s what they’re calling it nowadays, is it?” Laurie riposted, and James and Gillie both laughed. Laurie smiled at James. “So, what are you up to, James? Apart from studying for GCSEs, that is.”

James rolled his eyes dramatically, though he was secretly pleased that Laurie cared enough to ask. “Nothing, really. Study, study, study.”

“Liar,” Al said mildly. “You spend all your time with that guitar. I reckon I’m losing my place as your best mate to that thing.” He looked across at Laurie. “I think he goes to bed with it, you know. A love affair like no other.”

“Oh, shut it, you,” James said, taking one hand off the precious guitar to give his friend a shove. “Anyway, I’m working on my composition, so it’s not like it’s not work.”

“The best sort of work is work you actually enjoy,” Laurie commented. “Al’s clearly just jealous. But you’re still loving the guitar as much as ever then.”

“God, yeah,” James said fervently. “It’s like… I dunno. It feels right, somehow—do you know what I mean? When I’m playing, it’s like my fingers know what they should be doing. Bit like Dad and the garden, I guess. He just seems to know what to plant where and what to do to make things grow, and I’m hopeless. But my teacher shows me things on the guitar, and it makes sense.” He flushed, embarrassed. Trying to explain how he felt about his instrument made him self-conscious. Al hadn’t laughed at him, as he’d feared, when he’d said a bit about it to him—but then Al was his best mate. Laurie was…well, something different. And if Laurie laughed or teased, James didn’t think he’d cope.

“That’s brilliant,” Laurie said, though, his expression genuinely delighted. “It sounds like you’ve found what’s right for you, and there’s nothing like that feeling. Trust me, I know.”

Al ruffled James’s hair. “See, it turns out you’re not a weirdo. You’re talented. Bastard,” he added, laughing.

James was grateful for Al’s interjection. It stopped the conversation getting too heavy. Talking with Laurie like this, after realising just how he felt about him…it was almost too much, in some ways.

“I wish,” he said instead. “Just obsessed.”

“Obsession got me a long way,” Laurie assured him, looking around the garden with an expression of affection on his face. “My obsession with Lord of the Rings, for example, found me my best friend—and her family,” he added, smiling at James, “and now my PhD. Don’t knock obsession.”

“I’ll bear it in mind,” James said, smiling back. “Speaking of which, how’s the thesis going?”

Laurie sighed. “Well, it’s going. I just had my last chapter ripped to shreds by my supervisor, but that’s pretty much always the way. Apparently, this time, I’ve put in too many examples. Last chapter, it wasn’t enough.”

“Still searching for the pleased psychic?” James teased.

It was a long-time joke between them: at twelve, hearing the phrase “happy medium” for the first time, James had been merely bewildered, his mind quite seriously running on the idea of the paranormal. Laurie had patiently explained and had the courtesy not even to crack a smile as he did so, though they’d all laughed about it since—and the alternative term had become a standing gag.

Laurie laughed. “Apparently so. The annoying thing is my supervisor is always right. I went away and looked back through what I’d written, and every third line was an example. But still. On the plus side, I’ve had an article accepted by a journal this week.”

“Really?” Gillie, who had wandered back to the table whilst James and Laurie chatted, settled herself comfortably in a chair and leaned across. “Which one? That’s fabulous!”

Gillie was an academic herself, lecturing in English Literature, with a special interest in fantasy and science fiction, hence the shared love of the Lord of the Rings in both book and film version. The conversation got a bit technical for a while; James tuned out as phrases such as ‘peer reviewed’ and ‘on the e-library catalogue’ got thrown about. He concentrated instead on his guitar. He was writing a piece for his GCSE composition, and there were a few bars he wasn’t happy about.

Once he settled down to music, he was lost to the world and barely noticed as Al wandered off, only registering when Al shouted, “Oh, hey, there’s a bird stuck in the netting here.”

“What?” demanded Terry, fired to interest as James put down his guitar to look over towards where Al was standing. “Are they after my brassicas again? I knew I was right to put those nets up.”

“Its wing’s all caught up, poor thing,” Al said, trying to get closer to it and making the bird flap more wildly.

“Serve it right,” said Terry firmly. Easy-going about most things, James’s dad was undeniably overprotective when it came to his vegetables.

Laurie got to his feet and cast a laughing glance at Terry. “Probably so, but we can’t just leave it there. Here, Al, move back a bit. I’ll have a go.”

“You?” Al looked at him doubtfully. “Aren’t you a bit…big?”

Laurie stood a couple of inches over six feet and was broad-shouldered with it. Compared to Al, who was a skinny five foot six and impatiently hoping for a growth spurt which showed no sign of coming, he was definitely sizeable. And, James thought wistfully, bloody gorgeous, with his muscular physique and lazy, lopsided smile.

“Oh ye of little faith,” Laurie said genially.

James watched as Laurie went carefully and quietly over to the bird, murmuring to it in an undertone. It still flapped and tried to escape, but not as manically as it had done for Al. Laurie caught it up in big gentle hands, stilling its movements with ease with one hand as he untangled the netting with the other one. It was less than a minute until he had freed the bird, which looked dazed and scurried into the undergrowth, leaving a couple of fawn-coloured feathers behind it.

“Collared dove,” Terry said. “They’re the worst. Still, I suppose you’re right. Couldn’t have left the little bugger there. Thanks, Laurie.”

Gillie went over and gave Laurie a kiss. “My hero,” she said. “Well done.”

Laurie turned to Al. “Too big?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.

Al threw his arms up in a dramatic display of defeat. “I admit it. I was wrong. Apparently not too big at all. Having enormous hands is a great thing for rescuing small fragile creatures. Who’d have thought?”

Only James said nothing. He hated the way it had made him feel, watching Laurie concentrate so carefully on the bird. All fluttery inside, like a girl or something. Wondering what it might feel like if Laurie put those hands against him. He blinked and looked away, back at his guitar, back at anything else, and the moment passed. It didn’t help him get over his crush on Laurie, though—anything but.

Still, in retrospect, that had been the best afternoon of the entire year when it came to Laurie. Most of the other occasions on which he visited, he did indeed bring Kieran. James reluctantly had to admit to himself that there was nothing intrinsically wrong with the other man except the sin that he was Laurie’s boyfriend, and James was insanely jealous.

My Review:
James realized that he was infatuated with his mother’s younger, gay, friend Laurie when he was just 16. It’s a one-sided affair as Laurie is ten years older than James. James pines for Laurie, confessing his deep attraction to his stoic bestie, Al, a schoolmate who came out as bi early in life. Al is not perturbed, yet encourages James to find a better outlet for his affection–especially as Laurie has a serious boyfriend at the time.

We fast forward a couple of years, and James still swoons for Laurie. The boyfriend is long-gone, and James is about to leave for uni when he makes an ill-advised attempt to capture Laurie for his very own. It’s a disaster, and James leaves for school heartbroken and determined to find a replacement for Laurie.

This pattern continues for the next few years. James does find partners, but he’s not emotionally able to casually hook-up with people the way Al can. James and Al are each other’s rock however, as James deals with his unrequited love, his father’s worsening MS and Al’s absentee parents. There’s a lot of great emotion here, and I half-hoped that James and Al would turn their friendship-love into a true one–because they share nearly everything already, except their hearts.

As James’ father’s health deteriorates, James sees Laurie in their home more and more frequently–he’s moved in temporarily to assist James’ parents with his care. It’s a critical time and James is really suffering. I’m not going to chat more about the plot, but the happy ending came at the very tail end of the book.

For me, this wasn’t much of a romance. James is a good kid with a bad crush, and he makes decisions that didn’t bring me into his love for Laurie. He’s biding his time, mostly, and the sex that happens isn’t romantic. It honestly messed with me because I nearly thought the story would end quite differently to the expectations, because of the intimacy he was sharing with another person. It left me feeling a little confused, though I still liked all the characters. I think there could have been a little more foreshadowing of the big revelation, which seemed to appear out of sheer hope and wet dreams. I still liked James and got interested in his life–and Al was a great foil to James–so I enjoyed the book. In all, this was an interesting read, but, because the romance factor was really low, I didn’t really love it the way I had expected to.

Interested? You can find ONE PLUS ONE on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win your choice of an ebook from NineStar Press.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author
P.A. Friday fails dismally to write one sort of thing and, when not writing erotica and erotic romance of all sexualities, may be found writing articles on the Regency period, pagan poetry, or science fiction. She loves wine and red peppers, and loathes coffee and mushrooms.

Catch up with Penelope on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Cephalopod Coffeehouse July 2017–WASTE OF SPACE-A Review

0ed81-coffeehouseHi there! Welcome one and all to the Cephalopod Coffeehouse, a cozy gathering of book lovers, meeting to discuss their thoughts regarding the tomes they enjoyed most over the previous month. Pull up a chair, order your cappuccino and join in the fun.

So this month I’m sharing a book that surprised me greatly, in the very, very, end. WASTE OF SPACE by Gina Damico is a book I picked up and put down half a dozen times, but I’m glad I didn’t give up.

About the book:
Cram ten hormonal teens into a spaceship and blast off: that’s the premise for the ill-conceived reality show Waste of Space. The kids who are cast know everything about drama—and nothing about the fact that the production is fake. Hidden in a desert warehouse, their spaceship replica is equipped with state-of-the-art special effects dreamed up by the scientists partnering with the shady cable network airing the show.

And, it’s a hit!

Millions of viewers are transfixed. But then, suddenly, all communication is severed. Trapped and paranoid, the kids must figure out what to do when this reality show loses its grip on reality.

 

My Review:
This book is a wild ride, and not because the characters are jettisoned into space. Far from it. It’s a satirical look at “reality TV” giving the complete lowdown from the able assistance of a low-level PA who got fired and handed enormous amounts of raw footage of the Waste of Space TV show produced by DV8 Studios.

The premise is this: DV8 wants to make a show about regular kids on a space station, but that’s unrealistic, and expensive, so they partner with NASAW–a shadowy conglomerate whose scientists know lots about space and time–to build a fake space station (complete with IKEA furnishings) that can house ten teens for two months. Along the way, DV8 management bullies and coerces everyone to insist that this show is taking place in space.

Kids line up in malls hoping to become part of this cast; some a fame-hungry, some are looking for a way out, others are looking for a new life altogether. The teens are cast to fulfill certain roles, and the stereotypes they reflect. It’s a weird mix of Big Brother and Space Camp, and the audience is in on the joke from the get-go. That said, there’s still lots of surprises in store. Like, what happens when the uppity/vile nephew of the TV show’s producer is going to get axed? (Bring on the big guns…) What about the party girl–any more bras to display? The token minorities are messing up the chemistry, and there’s plenty of clueless to go around.

The telling of this story is a disjointed collection of transcripts from video recordings, cell phone calls and business meetings. There are roughly 15 POVs, so that’s a jumble. It took me a while to settle in, though I caught on to the sympathetic POVs in the early going. Nico and Titania are the heart and soul of the story–two kids who’ve been altered by tragedy. They are searching for more—meaning and acceptance, and they don’t go in for DV8’s shenanigans. The DV8 exec, Chazz, and his nephew Clayton are the typical reprehensibles, pulling all the strings and cutting despicable deals. I was pleasantly surprised by “Bacardi” and “Snout” and saddened by Louise. I had thought I wasn’t touched much by the book, then the end hit me like a sledgehammer to the chest. The storyline was a sleight of hand that morphed from zany and unpredictable into intense and emotional.

I’m not going to belabor the plot; some of the kids are desperately hoping to be a part of a space mission. Others know it’s gotta be hoax. The DV8 and NASAW folks are doing their utmost to convince the world their show is “real.” In the mix some true connections are made, and dare I say: the most fervent wishes of several of the cast are made real. I was pleasantly surprised how all the seemingly random plot threads were stretched and connected and eventually woven into an unexpectedly picturesque tapestry. For fans of reality TV, this book is a piercing commentary on the genre of entertainment, and how we consume fiction–in any medium. Expect plenty of showmanship, and deceit, and double-crossing. Expect subtle commentary on American xenophobia and racism. And if you read through to the end, expect to be surprised, and maybe delighted. Like I was.

Interested? You can find WASTE OF SPACE on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes and Kobo. I received a review copy via NetGalley.

About the Author:

In Gina Damico’s words:  I grew up under four feet of snow in Syracuse, New York. I received a degree in theater and sociology from Boston College, where I was active with the Committee for Creative Enactments, a murder mystery improv comedy troupe that may or may not have sparked my interest in wildly improbably bloodshed. I have since worked as a tour guide, transcriptionist, theater house manager, scenic artist, movie extra, office troll, retail monkey, yarn hawker, and breadmonger.I live in Western Massachusetts with my husband, two cats, one dog, and and obscene amount of weird things purchased at yard sales.

You can find Gina on her website, Facebook and twitter.

Thanks for popping in! Be sure to check out the reviews of my pals in the Coffeehouse–they always pick some great reads.

Now Playing: PEEP SHOW! Release Blitz and Giveaway

Hi there! I’m sharing a book blitz and giveaway for a contemporary M/M romance from Clare London. PEEP SHOW is a sweet, and a little sexy tidbit about a security tech and the sexy waiter who plays dirty for the CCTV. I”ll be reviewing this book for Joy Jay, but I can tell you it’s a fun novella, perfect to fill a slow lunch break.

Catch an extended excerpt and get in on the GC giveaway below!
About the book:
Ever wanted to spy secretly on other people’s lives?
Ken doesn’t have a choice: his student summer job is manning the CCTV screens for the new central London shopping mall. But instead of spotting criminals or vandals, he becomes fascinated by a cute waiter from the local bistro who sneaks out to the backyard for his break—and plays sexy to the camera.

Is he an old friend, or just an anonymous exhibitionist? Should Ken be excited by this naughty peepshow, or will people think he’s a voyeuristic pervert? Poor Ken’s confused and thrilled in turn. It’s like living in one of the movies he’s studying at university. He knows the man can’t see him, yet Ken feels a connection of some kind. It all encourages Ken to continue with his guilt-ridden Waiter Watch.

Ken bears the suspense as long as he can, until a chance meeting and an abortive blind date provide the explanation to the secret assignations. But will this guide Ken to a real-life chance of romance?

First Edition published by Amber Quill Press/Amber Allure, 2013.

And a tasty morsel to whet your appetite….

Ken had to admit he hated his job. With a passion. Or rather, with a slow-burning boredom and distaste. Passion implied some kind of energy—the agony and the ecstasy!—and Ken had none of that left after another night sitting in the small, stuffy room and gazing at a wall of screens.

He leaned back in his hard-backed chair, stretched, and yawned. A glance at the clock confirmed it was a good hour until his official break time, when the steroid-enhanced Tomas would reluctantly pause in strutting his security patrol around the shopping centre, and arrive to cover Ken’s post while he went for coffee and a sandwich. Then another two hours until the end of the shift at 2:00 a.m., when old Charlie would shuffle in for duty, complete with his tatty Aran cardigan, his Maeve Binchy paperback, and an oversized thermos of homemade vegetable soup, to take over from Ken until the offices opened.

Ken sighed. What a way to spend a Saturday night—or any night, for that matter.

Over three hours to go.

Over three hours….

He yawned again. The screens flickered and settled into a range of views from another angle. There was a bank of them, covering critical points around the shopping centre, and they were manned 24/7. Ken was one of those “manning” people. He was meant to watch the screens closely at all times. The centre was a small one, in Surbiton on the outskirts of London, and couldn’t compete with the massive retail complexes built off the M25 in Essex or central London’s Oxford Street. It was really just a dozen shops hanging out together under the same roof. But these were high-fashion, prestigious-designer stores, full of valuable goods and constantly at threat from thieves, vandals, and general abusers. Or so Ken’s summer-job employers, Safeguard Assured, would have people believe.

Ken thought it wouldn’t be so bad if he actually saw something. Look out, it’s beHIND you! He knew it was ludicrous to wish for theft, destruction, or general abuse—whatever that covered—but he’d been working here for over a month now, and he’d seen nothing untoward. Nothing at all. No fights, no malicious damage to the shops or the building, no tanks ramming through the night-time shutters, no intercontinental ballistic missiles shrieking in from the dark night skies above—only twenty-four hours left to protect historic London!—to destroy everything the population held dear….

Okay, so his mind was rambling again. His mum always said he had a vivid imagination. He’d chosen well when he took a media and film studies course at Kingston University, because he’d always spent far too much time imagining book and movie quotes around real-life events. Of course, Mum’s respect wasn’t always matched by the rest of the family—Dad said Ken lived in a fantasy world, and his teenage brother, Joe, said he was just a sad bloke. Ken sighed again. He knew he was pretty safe here in the control room—except, of course, from the intercontinental ballistic missile scenario—because he wasn’t expected to leap into personal action if he saw any crime taking place. There’d never been any training session for that, just a brief run-through of the screens and the logging in and out procedures, and a schedule of the night-time shifts. He’d been given a list of contact numbers if he needed help. From the way his boss had wrinkled his nose at that, Ken knew it wouldn’t be welcome if he called up his boss at a quarter to midnight to ask where the milk was for his tea. I’m sorry, caller, there’s no record of that number…. No, the contact numbers were for the duty security guards like Tomas, and also an emergency number to the local police station. That was if something went seriously wrong.

Which it never did.

No, of course he wasn’t inviting that missile again. But Ken hadn’t seen any action so far except people coming and going at the takeaways and late-night restaurants, which stayed open until the early hours of the morning. He swung aimlessly back and forth on his chair and opened another packet of cheesy snacks. He could feel the coating sticking to his teeth, but at least chewing it off helped to keep him awake. The Lord of the Rings paperback—three books in one, special offer!—had been last week’s additional incentive, but the boxed set of assorted crime thrillers he’d borrowed from Mum this week—murder, intrigue, and suspense from some of Britain’s finest!—hadn’t worked as effectively. Screen-watchers weren’t meant to spend their time with their head in a book—how would they see the incoming missile?—but it was about the only way to keep the boredom at bay.

“You should knit,” his mate Simon had suggested. Simon knitted, but not lumpy long scarves or hideously misshapen Christmas gloves like Ken’s gran. Si created cool beanie hats and cotton gilets and wonderful album cover designs on sweaters. He was studying textile design at the same university, with fellow students far more arty than Ken’s peers, judging by their clothing and the bold interior design of their rooms. Ken had tried knitting a hat once—you shouldn’t knock it until you’ve tried it, right?—and Mum was still using it as a tea cosy. She said the gaps down the side gave the steam somewhere to go. Ken hadn’t battled with knitting needles again—he was happier with a storyboard. Yet where had his first year of film studies taken him? Watching rain fall on the concrete pavement outside a shopping centre for hours at a time. There was irony there, somewhere.

He’d tried plenty of things to help pass the time. He played solitaire until he found himself almost homicidal when a three of clubs refused to reveal itself. The book of crosswords had been abandoned at page nine, after he’d expressed his frustration by inserting every obscene word he could think of, whether they fit the grid or not. And his songwriting attempts had never got any further than I woke up this morning before he started salivating for bacon sandwiches and brown sauce. He’d tried sketching out a storyboard for a film project of his own but, unfortunately, Charlie had caught sight of it one night, and now he kept suggesting Ken should remake a couple of Maeve Binchy’s classic stories. Charlie even suggested casting and the songs for the soundtrack. Much as he liked the old codger, Ken now found it less teeth-grinding to keep that work for the privacy of his own room. So he was back to nothing but the screens for distraction.

There was a small yard at the back of one of the restaurants where the waiters came out to smoke. It was plumb in the middle of Ken’s central screen. This one was a French bistro, which meant the prices were too high for his student pocket. Spare a coin for a sandwich, sir? He didn’t have sound as well as a view, but he watched the way the waiting staff nodded to each other, laughed, shared matches for the ciggies. There wasn’t much space to move around in the yard, because the wall between the restaurant and the next-door dry cleaners was covered almost entirely with huge, shoulder-high recycling and waste bins. The waiters leaned against the bins or scuffed their shoes on them. Sometimes the chef opened the door from the restaurant and yelled at them to get their arses back to work. Well, Ken couldn’t actually hear the words, but the chef’s face looked flushed and impatient—even in grainy black-and-white—and Ken’s imagination supplied the language. Although the waiters rolled their eyes and mimicked his gestures as soon as he turned his back, they usually stubbed out the cigarettes quickly and shuffled back indoors.

Sometimes Ken saw them leaving at the end of their shift from a gate at the farthest point of the yard. It was a shortcut back to the housing estate across the ring road. He had to imagine the gate, because it was out of view of the camera, but the waiters would tumble out of the back door with their coats on and backpacks slung over their shoulders, waving and joking with the new shift who were taking over. The place did breakfasts too. Didn’t it ever close?

He’d noticed a group of friends who seemed to work and travel everywhere together—a cluster of students like him, presumably, all dressed in similar hoodies and jeans; two men who were obviously a romantic couple; a mother and daughter who still had a smile for each other after a long night in the kitchen.

Ken grimaced. So it had come to this—he was getting familiar with the monochrome faces of people he’d never meet in real life, probably didn’t want to meet, and who probably wouldn’t want to meet him. He didn’t think of them as friends, did he? That’s what his other good mate Robbie said when Ken shared some of his stories at the pub. “You’re not mates with these people, Kenny. That’d be bloody weird.” Everyone around the table agreed with Robbie. In fact, Ken laughed and agreed too.

Because that’s not how it was. He preferred to consider the people caught on CCTV as his own private soap opera. Previously, on the Surbiton Spectrum Shopping Centre Security Channel…. The waiters at the restaurant. The foxes that came sniffing around the bins, arrogantly careless of anyone else. The police cars that periodically cruised the front of the centre. The fat man who ran the all-night grocer/newsagents, who took a break every now and then, drained a bottle of cola, and had a thorough scratch of his crotch through trousers shiny with wear. The young couple who stocked up the Moroccan café at weekends and who loitered in the service road behind the shop for a snogging session. The boy would have taken it further; Ken could see his eagerness—and bloody quick hands—but the girl was always looking over her shoulder in case someone caught them.

Yes, even outside shopping hours, there was a lot of activity in and around the centre. It wasn’t really what Ken was employed to watch out for, but he reckoned he could weave it into his film projects; he could let it inspire him. Everyone enjoyed people-watching, didn’t they? And his personal soap opera was benign. It wasn’t full of cliché gun battles or car chases. Only sometimes did he feel like a voyeur, but without the sexiness.

A waiter ambled out of the French bistro, and Ken’s attention darted back to that screen. The young man moved quickly—maybe he only had a few minutes’ break—and made for the far side of the yard. That corner was partially hidden by two of the largest bins and out of reach of the security lights. The only CCTV screen that covered it was one of the oldest and with the poorest picture. Sometimes one of the waiting staff would sneak behind these particular bins, and Ken assumed it was because they didn’t want to be seen, either by CCTV or from inside the restaurant. Was that what this man was doing? He had his back to Ken, hiding what he was up to. Was he smoking? Taking drugs? Ken had seen it on other evenings. Was he meant to report that kind of thing, or just crimes that involved damage to the centre itself? And how hypocritical would he be, when he’d smoked more than a few things in his time?

He peered more closely and wished there was a zoom feature. He didn’t like to touch the controls too much, since the time he’d fiddled with the brightness, messed up screens one to four, and spent three hours looking at static—I’m breaking up! I’m breaking up!—until Charlie arrived. The old man had shrugged at Ken’s apology, turned the control button to its fullest point, thumped somewhere under the desk, and the screens had all popped back into focus. Luckily, of course, the missile hadn’t arrived at that very time, though Ken rather thought there’d be other clues if the building were attacked from space.

The man in the yard turned his head, and Ken caught sight of his shadowed profile. He wasn’t smoking; he was sucking juice from a carton. A new employee? Ken didn’t think he’d noticed him before. Tall, lithe body in tight black trousers and a white shirt that stretched taut over his pecs, short-cropped dark hair, prominent but attractive nose. Ken couldn’t see his eyes because he was looking down at the carton, but the heavy lids were sexy. Even though the picture was blurred, Ken could tell that clearly enough. And the way the man’s lips tightened on the carton straw was…. Be still, my beating heart. Ken laughed at himself a little bitterly. His poor old dick hadn’t hardened that quickly for a long time. He shifted on the seat, trying to get comfortable again. He really needed to get back out in the dating game again. Oh wait, first he had to find the time to date, didn’t he? But if and when he did, this was just the kind of look he’d always liked, ever since school days, however shallow Mum would say it was to judge a book by its cover alone…

And then the guy turned towards the camera so that one side of his face eased out of the shadows—and he winked.

Huh? Ken leaned forwards in his chair, startled, but the moment was gone. The waiter turned on his heel, threw his empty carton into the bin, and sauntered back inside the restaurant.

This is a fun read, and I enjoyed the twists that kept Ken and his camera-man from coming together too soon…

Interested? You can find PEEP SHOW on Dreamspinner Press, Amazon (US and Amazon UK) Barnes & NobleiTunes and KOBO.  

****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

Getting Past the FATAL THREAT–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new romantic suspense from bestselling author Marie Force. FATAL THREAT is the eleventh book in her Fatal series, and gives us a clear look into the lives of Lt. Sam Holland and her husband, Nick Cappuano–the newly appointed Veep of the U S of A.

Fans of Scandal and House of Cards will love the Fatal Series.” —New York Times bestselling author Cindy Gerard

Don’t miss the next chapter in the New York Times bestselling series from Marie Force! Read the electrifying romantic suspense novel that everyone is talking about!
About the book:
It’s just another day at the office for Washington Metro Police lieutenant Sam Holland when a body surfaces off the shores of the Anacostia River. But before Sam can sink her teeth into the new case, Secret Service agents seize her from the crime scene.

A threat has been made against her family, but nobody will tell her anything—including the whereabouts of her husband, Vice President Nick Cappuano. This isn’t the first time the couple’s lives have been at risk, but when a bombshell from Sam’s past returns to haunt her, she can’t help but wonder if there’s a connection.

With a ruthless killer out for vengeance, and Nick struggling to maintain his reputation after secrets from his own past are revealed, Sam works to tie the threat to a murder that can’t possibly be a coincidence. And she has to get it done before her husband’s career is irrevocably damaged…

How about a little taste?

“Thank you, Brant,” Sam said to the agent in charge of Nick’s Secret Service detail.

“You’re welcome.” Brant paused before he added, “I know we’ve had this conversation before, Mrs. Cappuano, but I really recommend that you have a detail until we’re certain we’ve contained this threat.”

“I appreciate the recommendation, but I’ll be providing my own security through my team here. I’ll be accompanied by other armed officers everywhere I go. There’s no need to be redundant.”

“Redundant,” Nick muttered with a grunt that would’ve been laughter if the subject matter hadn’t been so grave. “Brant is suggesting added precaution, not redundancy.”

“It’s not necessary,” Sam said, digging in. The last fucking thing she needed was to be escorted around by federal agents. She may as well hang up her badge if that was going to be her reality.

“On that we disagree, my love,” Nick said. “But I’m not going to waste everyone’s time fighting a losing battle. Brant, we appreciate your thoroughness and ask you to keep us posted on the situation.”

“Will do, sir. I’ll wait for you outside.”

When they were alone, Sam looked up at Nick. “I know what you’re going to say, and—”

Nick kissed her hard. “I’ll see you at home later. Let me know if anything pops in the investigation.”

“That’s it? That’s all you’re going to say?”

“That’s it.”

“Hmm.”

“What does that mean?”

“You surprise me.”

He threw his head back and laughed. “Then my day is officially made. I’ve managed to surprise my shrewd, sexy wife.”

“I thought you were going to do the whole alpha-dog lift-your-leg thing and demand I have a detail.”

“Sorry to disappoint you on the leg lifting, babe, but we have a deal. Would I like you to have a detail? Abso-fucking-lutely. Do I understand why you won’t allow it? Yeah, I get it. Doesn’t mean I like it, but I get it.” He kissed her forehead and then her lips. “Now, we’ve both got stuff to do, so let’s get to it so we can get to the best part of the day.”

“Which is?”

His lips were a heartbeat away from hers when he said, “The part where you crawl into bed with me and rub your naked self all over me.”

My Review:
Lt. Sam Holland is a strong-willed, no-nonsense detective on the DC Metro police force, but even that won’t prevent her from being whisked away by the Secret Service when her entire family is threatened by an unknown entity. She’s beside herself, alongside her adopted son, her parents, her sisters and their families, her in-laws and one of her colleagues’ children–who happened to be at the home of one them–when the round-up was authorized. By her VP husband, Nick Cappuano.

Turns out, Nick was in Iran brokering a treaty when he got wind of a plot to kidnap and murder at least one of the kids in their extended family. And the evidence was credible enough to bivouac the entire Holland-Cappuano clan in a below-ground bunker for days on end. It’s also enough to make Sam lose her mind, and she very nearly does. Nightmares of her first marriage surface and a suspect is sought, but it only brings more heartache, problems and unsatisfactory leads.

In the meantime, Sam’s division is crumbling; the fall out from a recent death on the force is leaving more than one co-worker cold, and the tensions continue to run high as they track down the identity of a murdered woman whose mutilated body was recovered in a river.

This is the eleventh book in the series, and it’s a testament to the author that it can stand on it’s own, for the most part. I really enjoyed peeking into this series, and getting to know the loud, loving and boisterous characters that are clearly beloved by the fandom. Sam is a great lead, sharp-minded on the job and soft-hearted for her colleagues and family. The love she shares with Nick is yummy, and they don’t hesitate to reaffirm their vows whenever possible, though it didn’t heat up the pages, for me. It was just really awesome to experience the constant bond and stalwart affection they shared.

The resolution of the book threw me for a bit, because, wow! Talk about a high-profile culprit… O.O I was intrigued at how all this went down, and I loved watching the many facets of the criminal justice team play their roles. While Sam is a detective, she’s not always able to make the collar. I really enjoyed seeing how she interacted with the FBI and Secret Service personnel. It’s also interesting how convoluted all the relationships are in this melting pot of a family-and-friends. Expect to go on some wild chases and for Sam to experience some intense emotions and setbacks, all the while leading us back to the love and lives that Sam and Nick continually touch. I’m sure readers of the series will be satisfied.

Interested? You can find FATAL THREAT on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks, Kobo, and Google Plus.

About the Author:
Marie Force is the New York Times bestselling author of more than 50 contemporary romances, including the Gansett Island Series, which has sold nearly 3 million books, and the Fatal Series from Harlequin Books, which has sold 1.5 million books. In addition, she is the author of the Butler, Vermont Series, the Green Mountain Series and the erotic romance Quantum Series, written under the slightly modified name of M.S. Force. All together, her books have sold more than 5.5 million copies worldwide!

Her goals in life are simple—to finish raising two happy, healthy, productive young adults, to keep writing books for as long as she possibly can and to never be on a flight that makes the news.

Join Marie’s mailing list for news about new books and upcoming appearances in your area. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and on Instagram. Check out her website or join one of Marie’s many reader groups.

Getting Past the Past: CONCOURSE-A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a recently released M/M romance from Santino Hassell. CONCOURSE is another chapter Five Boroughs series and catches us up woth a beatuiful socialite who doesn’t feel so gorgeous on the inside. I’ve loved Hassell’s contemporary romances, SUNSET PARK, FIRST AND FIRST, and INTERBOROUGH, so I couldn’t wait to jump into this new book.

About the book:
Ashton Townsend is the most famous celebutante of Manhattan’s glitterati. The black sheep of his wealthy family, he’s known for his club appearances, Instagram account, and sex tape. Most people can’t imagine him wanting for anything, but Ashton yearns for friendship, respect, and the love of his best friend—amateur boxer Valdrin Leka.

Val’s relationship with Ashton is complicated. As the son of Ashton’s beloved nanny, Val has always bounced between resenting Ashton and regarding him as his best friend. And then there’s the sexual attraction between them that Val tries so hard to ignore.

When Ashton flees his glitzy lifestyle, he finds refuge with Val in the Bronx. Between Val’s training for an upcoming fight and dodging paparazzi, they succumb to their need for each other. But before they can figure out what it all means—and what they want to do about it—the world drags them out of their haven, revealing a secret Val has kept for years. Now, Ashton has to decide whether to once again envelop himself in his party-boy persona, or to trust in the only man who’s ever seen the real him.

My Review:
Ashton Townsend, also known as A-Town, is a celebrity of dubious distinction. His family owns a telecom company, but he’s the black sheep known more for his unauthorized sex tape and twitter feed than any of his philanthropy. And that’s okay, Ash supposes. Just because he’s notorious doesn’t mean he can’t help out. Still, Ash knows he’s mostly being used by his hangers on, and expects that’s pretty much all he deserves.

Val is the son of Ash’s former nanny. He’s had a long-standing love for Ash, despite his mixed feelings about Ash and his family. Way back when, Val’s mom sacrificed time with Val and his sister to take care of Ash and his brothers–and that was hard to take. Then, Val was hired by Mr. Townsend on the down-low to help keep Ash out of the tabloids. It was money Val couldn’t turn down–and Val’s still working crap jobs to pay his sister’s college tuition. If he can win a few fights, he will qualify for the Olympic team. Then, he’d have time to do more than work. Being in close proximity to Ash’s life gave Val insight into Ash’s tender nature. Val was ashamed of how few others, including Ash’s own family, really tried to know the tender, loving person Ash was–beneath his glamorous persona. Val has never forgotten. It’s why Val will give up his few hours of sleep to ‘rescue’ Ash from bad situations.

It’s also why Val’s in love with Ash, and now he’s ashamed he ever took money to hang out with Ash, even if he used the money to care for his mom when she was dying. Now he’s not sure what to do. Ash needs his companionship, but the one time they got physical turned bad, fast. Can they build a relationship? Or will A-Town’s circus life upset Val’s training to be an Olympic boxer.

This is a tender romance between long-time friends who are learning how to be lovers. I enjoyed seeing Ash learn he’s worthy of love, even though it was somewhat bittersweet seeing Ash and Val fall for one another. I understood the conflict and why Val held back–both the truth and his love: he didn’t believe he was worthy, either. Expect a good bit of back and forth as Val comes to Ash’s rescue, and Ash learns to stand on his own. They make a good couple eventually, and I liked being in their heads. There are many other characters that interact with both Val and Ash, so now I’m trying to figure out which one might get a book. I’m fairly sure we’ll see one of Val’s toughest opponents find love, soon…. (Fingers crossed!)

Interested? You can find CONCOURSE on Goodreads, Riptide Publishing, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and iTunes. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family, but he was anything but traditional. He grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, then a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into an unlikely romance author.

Santino writes queer romance that is heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, his belief that human relationships are complex and flawed, and his own life experiences.

You can find Santino online on his website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Out Today: HORATIO SLICE: GUITAR SLAYER OF THE UNIVERSE


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for an erotic M/M+ space opera by Oleander Plume. HORATIO SLICE: GUITAR SSLAYER OF THE UNIVERSE is a campy, fun erotic romp through time and portals—which emulate space. All it takes is one super fan wishing to bring his rock idol back to Earth…and a whole lot of lube.

About the book:
Horatio Slice is NOT dead.

Gunner Wilkes knows a secret. Heartthrob rock star Horatio Slice is not dead. Sure, Gunner may turn heads with his big brain, good looks, and gym-built body, but his mind is on one thing only: returning his all-time favorite rocker and secret fanboy crush to Earth.

Yes, there are VAMPIRE PIRATES

Fame and stardom were starting to wear thin for Horatio Slice, but when he was sucked through a magical portal while on stage at Madison Square Garden into a jail cell in a strange dimension called Merona, his confusion quickly cleared upon meeting his sexy, dark-haired cellmate, a vampire pirate named Snake Vinter, who filled Horatio in about life in the universe, jumping from dimension to dimension, and craftily avoiding the wrath of gnarly-mask-wearing leather queen King Meridian—a guy nobody wants to cross.

The metal ship is named Frances.

And on Snake’s metal ship live eight identical blond Humerians, who proudly display their cocks and assholes in carefully crafted trousers, as well as a wild assortment of untamable, cock-hungry travelers and stowaways. But someone has hacked into Frances’ mainframe, demanding that Snake and crew deliver Horatio Slice to King Meridian, or feel his wrath.

All the zany magical comedy of Mel Brooks, an adventure not dissimilar to Indiana Jones meets Barbarella, and men, men, horny men, of all shapes and sizes, Horatio Slice, Guitar Slayer of the Universe is wild, fun, pornographic fiction for anyone who loves the masculine, the feminine, and all identities in between. Even more so, it’s for cravers—for aficionados—of big, hard, pounding cock, and anyone who can handle laughs that won’t stop coming.

How about an intriguing taste?

Gunner raced to the machine and squatted in front of the laptop, hands trembling as he typed in an eight-digit password. A red box popped up this time with the words, Open the portal? Y or N. In four more minutes, he would tap the Y key again and hope to hell his invention worked. He willed the clock to move faster while his fingers twitched in eagerness.

At 10:24, Gunner pressed Y, and the room exploded with light and sound.

“Holy fucking shit!”

He dove behind the ramshackle fortress head first, as if sliding into home base, wincing when his elbow scraped the rug. He scrambled to his knees and poked his head over the top of the couch, barely comprehending the chaos taking place around him. First, the air sizzled and turned blue. Loud vibrations caused every object in the room to quake. The clamor grew louder and louder until it evolved into a thunderous crack that reverberated through his spinal column. Gunner bit down on a knuckle to stifle his screams of terror when a shimmering circle of light appeared in the ceiling. Right before his eyes, a figure emerged from the portal. Two bare feet, followed by two bare legs, a pair of balls, and a cock—a gigantic, hard cock.

“It’s actually working,” Gunner mumbled around the knuckle still wedged between his teeth, “but where the hell are his clothes?”

Choosing to stay behind the bunker, Gunner rose higher on his knees to get a better view as the rest of Horatio Slice appeared—intact and alive. Once the top of his head cleared the portal, the circle winked out, leaving a ring of what appeared to be soot behind.

“Ow!” Horatio said as he hit the mattress. He sat up and rubbed his neck. “That hurt like a motherfucker.”

And just like that, Horatio Slice was back—stark naked and kind of pissed off.

Gunner almost lost control of his bladder as he watched the hunk rise to full height. The man was a glorious six-and-a-half-feet of chiseled muscle and masculine bravado. A seductive snake tattoo wound over one calf, while another circled his right bicep. Horatio brushed his long, brunette hair out of his eyes and looked around. “Where the hell am I?” he asked.

“Earth,” Gunner said. “New York State, to be exact.” He couldn’t take his eyes off Horatio’s cock. The rumors were true. Horatio Slice sported a behemoth between his legs, a fully erect behemoth dripping copious amounts of pre-come. Gunner wondered what Horatio was up to before he fell through the portal.

“No shit? I’m back home,” Horatio said. “Sweet!”

“You’re welcome.”

“Who said that?” Horatio turned toward Gunner.

“Me. I’m a big fan. Really big. I can’t believe you’re here.” Gunner took a breath. “I can’t believe you’re alive.”

“Of course, I’m alive.” Horatio stepped over a bundle of wires, crossing the six feet that separated him from Gunner in two, long strides. Smiling, he leaned over the bunker and peered down at Gunner, who shrunk back in shock. Was the guy checking him out? “Hello, hottie,” Horatio said, his smile deepening into more of a leer.

While he’d imagined his idol’s homecoming many times, none of those fantasies included Horatio being naked or staring at him with a throbbing erection and a predatory glint in his eyes. He practically melted under Horatio’s piercing blue gaze. “Um, hi,” Gunner said as he crawled out on his hands and knees from behind the sofa. “You made one hell of an entrance.”

“The impact almost shattered my spine,” Horatio said, “but I think I’m okay.”

Gunner took the hand Horatio offered and let the man hoist him to his feet. Instead of flip-floppy, Horatio’s touch turned Gunner’s stomach into an over-inflated basketball that thumped against his ribs. The ball bounced faster when he noticed Horatio eyeballing his crotch. Still holding Gunner’s hand, Horatio pulled him closer and stared into his eyes. “You don’t work for Meridian, do you?”

My Review:
Gunner is a college student with a powerful fan crush on Horatio Slice, singer and guitarist of Monotony. Two years ago, on Gunner’s birthday, Horatio Slice was spirited away through a galactic portal, to become the love slave of Meridian, a king and captain so the police. He was intercepted by Snake, a vampire pirate, first, however. Gunner’s obsession with Horatio led him to construct a rudimentary portal to bring him back to Earth–and that’s where this adventure begins.

Knowing that Meridian will be hot on his tail, Horatio insists that he must return to his sanctuary–with some help from Snake. They convince Gunnar that he needs to come along, or risk Meridian’s wrath.

They dodge through dimensions until they make it back to the safety of Snake’s ship. There Gunnar meets Snake’s partner Sugar, and his nearly identical seven Humerian cohorts. All the while there is sex, nudity, double-crosses, more sex and daring escapes. Lots of orgies, some pirate missions, and tenderness between crew members fill the gaps between avoiding Meridian’s grasp. If you dig whacked out adventure plots, kinky sexytimes, and wise-cracking dudes of any species, this erotic romp is for you!

Interested? You can find HORATIO SLICE: GUITAR SLAYER OF THE UNIVERSE on Goodreads , Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Inktera, and Go Deeper Press.
About the Author:
Oleander Plume lives in Chicago, Illinois, with her husband, two daughters and a pair of obnoxious cats. While she writes in many genres, her favorite is m/m. Or m/m/m. Or m/m/m/m, or … who’s counting, anyway?
Horatio Slice: Guitar Slayer of the Universe (published by Go Deeper Press) is Oleander’s first, full-length novel, but her short stories have appeared in anthologies by Violet Blue, Rachel Kramer Bussel, Shane Allison, Alison Tyler, Neil Plakcy, and F. Leonora Solomon.

Oleander also edited a self-published erotic anthology, titled Chemical [se]X, featuring stories centered around the theme of aphrodisiac chocolates.

For more information, please visit her at website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Google+, or email her.

Excerpt Reveal for THE BEAUTY OF US–Coming Soon!


Hi there! Today I’m so excited to share an excerpt for the next book in Kristen Proby’s Fusion contemporary romance series. THE BEAUTY OF US is the fourth book in this series and will feature a second-chance romance for Riley, one of the five friends who own and run their sultry restaurant, Seduction. I’ve really enjoyed the other three books, LISTEN TO ME, CLOSE TO YOU, and BLUSH FOR ME so I can’t wait to read on. THE BEAUTY OF US releases Aug 22nd, but you can read both Chapters 1 and 2 below!

About the book:
New York Times bestselling author Kristen Proby delivers another sizzling novel in her delectable and sexy Fusion series.
Riley Gibson is over the moon at the prospect of having her restaurant, Seduction, on the Best Bites TV network. This could be the big break she’s been waiting for. But the idea of having an in-house show on a regular basis is a whole other matter. Their lives would be turned upside down, and convincing Mia, her best friend and head chef of Seduction, that having cameras in her kitchen every day is a good idea is daunting. Still, Riley knows it’s an opportunity she can’t afford to pass on. And when she meets Trevor Cooper, the show’s executive producer, she’s stunned by their intense chemistry.

Trevor’s sole intention is to persuade Riley to allow Best Bites TV to do a show on her restaurant. But when he walks into Riley’s office, he stops dead in his tracks. The professional, aloof woman on the phone is incredibly beautiful and funny. But can he convince her that he’s interested in Riley for himself? Or is he using the undeniable pull between them to persuade her to agree to his offer?

Don’t miss the first chapter of THE BEAUTY OF US!

Click here to read it!

My yummy taste…is Chapter 2! Trevor’s POV

I didn’t sleep worth shit last night. I waited for a response to my e-mail from Riley for a while; I’m not exactly sure why. I just don’t like the thought of her being embarrassed.

Because she has no reason to be. She didn’t know who I was, and it was closing time. She was venting to her friends. It’s really no big deal.

But I could see the mortification in her big blue eyes when she realized who I was, and that doesn’t sit well with me.

When no response came, and for all I know she hasn’t even read the e-mail yet, I sat down for a game on the PS4. I don’t travel anywhere without it. Some people read to unwind. Some go to the gym, and there are times I do the same. But to truly relax, I enjoy gaming. I have since I was a kid.

So I settled in the apartment the network has rented for me this month and played online with my friends, talking about our days and shooting the enemy.

We played well past midnight, and I usually would have gone right to bed afterward, but my mind was still turning, making falling asleep impossible. The restaurant is better than I imagined through my research on their website and customer reviews. It’s visually stunning, the food is fantastic, and they’ve hit the mark on the sexy factor.

But added to that, the five women who own the place are all beautiful, smart, and will make for great TV. Viewers will eat this show up, pun intended.

I lean over the sink and wash my face, not bothering to shave today, and as I dry off, I reach for my phone.

I have several new e-mails.

The most recent is from Riley Gibson.

Trevor,
Thank you for your kind email. I apologize again for the conversation last night. I would like to promise that we don’t always talk like that at work, but that would be a lie. At least we keep it to closing time over a glass of wine.

Enjoy Portland,
Riley

I grin and sling the towel over my bare shoulders. Riley isn’t what I had pictured in my head before I got here. I knew that she was pretty because their photos are on their website, but she’s much prettier in person.

And animated.

Working with her will be fun.

And a test to my libido. Because Riley is fucking sexy. I’ve never mixed business and sex before, and I don’t plan to start now, but keeping my hands off her will be a test of wills.

And that too should be fun.

After my run this morning, I stopped by a bagel place to eat and read a newspaper, came back to the apartment for a shower, and I think I’ll go to Seduction for lunch. I hadn’t planned to go back there until my meeting with Riley tomorrow, but I also haven’t had lunch there yet.

I dress quickly in jeans and a red T-shirt and walk the six or so blocks to the restaurant.

They’ve just opened, so they’re not busy yet. The atmosphere is calm, the lighting a bit brighter than last night, making it a fun spot to meet with colleagues or friends for lunch.

I’m seated on the far side of the restaurant, where it meets the bar, and I can see Riley and the other women sitting around a high table, talking.

Loud enough for me to hear.

“So, he’ll be here tomorrow. Filming doesn’t start for another week, unless the timetable has been moved up,” Riley says, studying her iPad and checking things off a list. “It would be great if we could watch our language.”

“Right,” Mia says, rolling her eyes. “Because that’s gonna happen.”

“Just watch the F-bombs then,” Riley says with a grin. “And I’ll do my best not to vent to him about my horrible dating experiences. Not that I’ll be having any more of those.”

“I wish I’d been here for that,” Addie says with a smile. “It’s hilarious.”

“No, it’s not,” Riley says, but smiles and covers her lips with her fingers. “Okay, it’s a little funny. I’ll be working from home today.”

“Why?” The blonde speaking, I presume Cami, asks.

“Because I have a roofer coming today,” Riley says. “But if you need me, just call. I can come back after he leaves.”

“Go.” Mia waves her off. “We’ve got this.”

The girls all stand, about to go their own ways to get their day started. They’re clearly good friends, which will come across well on film.

Riley walks out of the bar and glances up, spotting me.

“Hi.” I offer her a smile and motion for her to join me. She sits, sets her iPad aside, and squares her shoulders.

I love a woman with grit.

“Why are you here?” she asks.

“I’m having lunch,” I reply, and gesture to the salad sitting in front of me. “It’s delicious. Adding the brussels sprouts is smart.”

“I’ll pass that along to Mia,” she says, and then laughs. “I guess you heard the part where I asked the girls to not swear.”

“I did,” I reply, and patiently butter a piece of warm bread. “Don’t worry about that stuff. They’re adults.”

“With potty mouths,” she says.

“And we can bleep stuff out, or ask them to rephrase. You’ve already got the gig, Riley. I wouldn’t be here otherwise. This isn’t an audition.”

“I know.” She sighs and reaches over to take a piece of my bread, surprising and delighting me. “I just want things to go smoothly.”

“Perhaps you should order lunch too.”

“I don’t have time,” she says, and then her blue eyes widen as she realizes what she just did. “I’m so sorry. I eat when I’m stressed out, and I didn’t—”

“No.” I hold my hand up to stop her. “It’s fine. I like that you’re relaxed with me. I think you need to relax more often.”

“What are you, my life coach now?”

“If you like. Did you cancel those dating sites like I suggested?”

She bites her lip and looks to the side, then nods. “I did.”

“Good.” I take a bite of salad and nod. “Are you sure you don’t want some food?”

“I rarely have time to eat,” Riley says, and checks the time on her phone. “In fact, I should go. I have to meet the roofer at my house.”

“What’s wrong with your roof?”

“It’s old,” she says with a shrug. “That’s what happens when you buy an old house. I’m fixing it up a little at a time.”

I nod, and find that I don’t want her to go quite yet. I want to talk more, to learn more about her.

“Why don’t you come to my apartment tonight and I’ll cook you dinner?”

She pauses and stares at me for a moment. “Why?”

I laugh and set my fork down. “Because I asked you to. We’re going to be working closely over the next few weeks, we might as well get to know each other a little better. Also, we can discuss my new duties as your life coach.”

“Well.” Her lips twitch as she thinks it over for a moment, a myriad of emotions moving across her beautiful face, and finally she says, “Okay. Do you mind texting me the address and the time?”

“Not at all,” I reply, and immediately pass her my phone. “Plug in your number and I’ll text you this afternoon.”

She complies, passes it back, and smiles. “Okay, see you later.”

And with that, she’s off. Her ass swaying enticingly in her tight skirt, calves flexing from the height of her heels, and the food I’m currently chewing immediately tastes like cardboard.

Jesus.

And I just voluntarily offered to spend time with her. Alone.

I’m a fucking glutton for punishment.

* * * * * * * *

“I’m starving,” Riley immediately says as I open the door. She’s in jeans and a well-loved University of Oregon sweatshirt, her hair is pulled up in a ponytail, and she looks like she could be a co-ed herself. “I forgot to eat today.”

“Does that happen every day?” I ask as I gesture for her to come inside and close the door behind her.

“Most days,” she admits. “Is this one of those bad choices that you’re gonna coach me through?”

“Yes,” I reply, and lead her into the kitchen. “You have to eat.”

“I know, I just get focused on other things, and the next thing I know, the day is gone and I’m starving.” She passes me two bottles of wine. “I didn’t know what we were having, so I brought red and white.”

“Thanks.” I grin and set them both on the counter. “I made salmon and asparagus with baby red potatoes. What goes best with that?”

Her eyes light up. “The white. Holy shit, are you a chef yourself?”

“I went to culinary school,” I reply, and squeeze some lemon on the salmon before plating it. “But I discovered I was better at a desk job.”

“That’s unusual,” she says, her head tilted to the side as she listens. “Most people fight to get out of a desk job.”

“Not me. I have a ton of respect for Mia, because being a chef isn’t easy, and pleasing people sucks.”

“True.” Riley nods. “She doesn’t get many plates sent back to her, but there are a few. Can I pour you a glass?”

“No thanks,” I reply, and reach in the fridge for a bottle of water. “I don’t drink alcohol.”

“Oh.” She frowns. “I’m sorry. I can drink water too.”

“It’s fine,” I reply, and pat her shoulder. “I don’t mind if you drink. I just don’t.”

“But last night, you were drinking Jack and Coke.”

“Nope, just Coke.”

She sits at the table, still frowning. “I’m sorry.”

“There’s nothing to be sorry for.” I set our plates down. “I’ve been sober for ten years. I’m not the kind of alcoholic who can’t be around others having a drink. It was never that bad for me. I’m just a better person if I don’t drink.”

“Good for you for knowing that,” she says, holding her glass out to clink against my water. “This looks delicious.”

“You sound surprised.”

“I expected pizza or Chinese takeout,” she says. “Honestly, that’s probably what you would have gotten from me. I’m also surprised that you’re not staying in a hotel.”

“I’m here long enough that the network sprung for the apartment. They usually do when I’m somewhere longer than a week or so.”

“You must travel a lot for this job,” she says, eating her food like a starving child. I don’t know if she even tastes it, she’s eating so fast.

“I travel often,” I reply, and grin when she takes the last bite. “Are you going to lick the plate?”

“Maybe,” she says with a grin. “I’m not even embarrassed that I ate that so fast. It was delicious.”

“I’m glad you liked it. There’s more.”

“No, I’m good,” she says, and reaches in her bag, pulling out a pad of paper and a pen. “You can eat while I interview you.”

“For what?”

“For the position of life coach,” she says with a sassy grin. I want to kiss that grin right off her face, but instead I take a bite of potato and gesture for her to begin.

“Okay, first question: What qualifications do you have that make you a good fit for this position?”

“Well, I have a few years on you, so I would say wisdom with age.”

She tilts her head to the side, the way she does when she’s turning something over in her head. “You can’t be that much older than me.”

“I’m thirty-seven.”

“Seven years,” she says, rolling her eyes.

“A lot can happen in seven years,” I reply, and sip my water.

“Okay, I’ll give you that.” She checks something off on her paper.

“Did you really write down questions?”

“Of course. I’m the queen of lists and the roofer was at my house forever.” She bites her lip as she looks at her list. “How many women have you life-coached in the past?”

“Well, I didn’t have an official job title, but I have two younger sisters, and an ex-wife, so I would say three.”

“But the wife is an ex, so maybe that did go well?” Riley asks. “And are your sisters productive members of society?”

“As opposed to being in jail?” I ask, laughing. “You’re hilarious, Riley.”

“You didn’t answer the question.”

“My sisters are great. The older one is married, a stay-at-home mom with two kids, and the younger one is a waitress.”

“But the ex-wife thing didn’t work out.”

“She’s not a mess, we just both decided that she shouldn’t be my wife anymore.”

“Why?”

I sit back in my chair and wipe my mouth on my napkin. “Because she thought it was a good idea to have sex with other men.”

Her eyebrows climb on her forehead and she blinks twice. “That’s a good reason.”

“I thought so.”

“Okay, next question.” She checks something on her paper and looks up at me with a smile. “How do you intend to be compensated for your work?”

“I’m working pro bono,” I reply with a wink.

“Why?”

“Because I’m going to be here anyway, and why not.” I shrug and finish the food on my plate. “What else do you want to know?”

“Is my coming to a virtual stranger’s apartment by myself one of the bad decisions you should have coached me on?”

I smile and set my plate aside so I can lean on the table. “Did the girls tell you that coming here by yourself was a bad idea?”

“I only talked to Cami and she thought I should come. Plus, I have a concealed carry, so I feel pretty confident that I’m safe.”

I raise a brow and cross my arms over my chest. “You carry a gun with you?”

“Hell to the yes,” she replies, and offers me a sweet smile. “I’ve been meeting strange men on the Internet. You bet your ass I’ve been armed.”

“Good idea,” I reply with a nod. “There are a lot of crazies out there.”

“Yes. But I think that if you’re gonna meet a crazy, it could be anywhere. Online, in a bar, at the gas station. They’re everywhere.”

“That’s true too,” I reply, and nod. “Well, I’m glad you’re being cautious.”

“I’m nobody’s victim,” she says, as casually as if she’s telling me her shoe size.

That’s fucking sexy.

“Do you have any other questions?”

“Not really,” she says, and shrugs. “I didn’t really write anything down. But it was fun to interrogate you a bit.”

“Now I have questions,” I reply, and smile when she cocks her head and purses her lips. “Do you really think you need a life coach?”

“No, I have my shit together,” she says with a grin.

“Why were you really on all of those sites?”

She shrugs. “Because it’s not easy meeting people. And sometimes a girl wants to go out on a date.”

“You don’t need me,” I reply, and smile. “But I’ll be around for a while, just in case.”

“Just in case I slip and fall back into the online dating?”

“That, or if you just want to have dinner, or chat. And I think we should watch a marathon of Star Wars. Your lack of knowledge is cause for concern.”

“It’s kind of a guy thing,” she says.

“I know many women who like Star Wars.”

“Well, I would watch one or two.”

“You need to see them all to understand what’s happening.”

“That’s a lot of hours of my life that I’ll never get back,” she says with a frown. “Aren’t there CliffsNotes somewhere? A speedy way to get caught up?”

“No,” I reply, and fist my hands in my lap so I don’t reach out and tuck her hair behind her ear.

Or yank her against me so I can kiss the fuck out of her.

“Are you okay?” she asks.

“Are you always this observant?”

“I’m an overthinker,” she says. “So yeah, I’m an observer.”

“I’ve been labeled an overthinker too,” I say with a grin.

“Would you say it’s an accurate assessment?”

“Oh yeah,” I say with a nod, and stand to clear our plates away. She stands to help. “I’ve got this.”

“No way, you cooked, so I’ll help clean.”

She walks ahead of me, her empty glass in one hand and her plate in the other. “Do you use the dishwasher, or do you wash by hand?”

“There are people who still wash by hand?”

“I’ve heard of them, but I’ve never seen them in the wild,” she says, and smiles up at me when I join her. “So I guess that means we use the dishwasher?”

“Yes.” She rinses and I load, and a few short minutes later, we’re done.

“Well, I suppose I should go,” she says, and checks the time on her phone. “Oh, Cami texted. I guess I should reply so she doesn’t think you killed me after the entrée.”

She smirks and types on her phone, then turns it off and looks up at me.

“Thanks for dinner.”

“You’re welcome.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”

Unfortunately, it won’t be in my bed.

“You will.”

“Okay.” She gathers her bag, notepad and pen, and walks to the door. “Sleep well tonight.”

I grin and congratulate myself for not dragging my fingertips down her cheek.

You sleep well tonight, Riley.”

“Okay. Bye.”

She leaves and I close the door, letting out a slow breath. Jesus, she’s sexy and funny and smart as fuck.

And I’m not going to touch her while I’m here.

How the fuck am I going to do that?

I seriously can’t wait to read this one! Look for my review next month.

In the meantime you can find THE BEAUTY OF US on Goodreads, and pre-order it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iTunes, and Kobo.

The book releases August 22.

Author Pic_MontanaAbout the Author:

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Kristen Proby is the author of the popular With Me in Seattle series. She has a passion for a good love story and strong characters who love humor and have a strong sense of loyalty and family. Her men are the alpha type—fiercely protective and a bit bossy—and her ladies are fun, strong, and not afraid to stand up for themselves. Kristen spends her days with her muse in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys coffee, chocolate, and sunshine. And naps.

Visit Kristen online on her website, Facebook, twitter, Goodreads, or sign up for her newsletter.
InkSlinger PR Blogger Banner - New

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!