Moving Forward With the DRAGON SOLDIER–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a M/M paranormal romance from Mell Eight. DRAGON SOLDIER is the fifth book in the Supernatural Consultant series, which features a dragon, a demigod and a passel of maturing dragon kits. I fell into the previous titles DRAGON CONSULTANT, DRAGON DECEPTION, DRAGON DILEMMA, and DRAGON DETECTIVE, and have loved watching these characters grow and evolve in each story. This new one features two maturing dragons tracking evil human scientists and finding their mates in one another.

Scroll down for an excerpt, and to enter the giveaway for a $10 GC.
About the book:
The aftermath of the last battle has left Nickel weak in bed and grounded for the next decade. Despite being in trouble, Nickel wants to return to the battle against the enemy as soon as he can, but thoughts of Platinum, the dragon helping to nurse him back to health, keep distracting him.

Platinum can’t believe how much his life has changed. He went from being a lonely fugitive on the run to part of a family in only hours. The last few days have been his happiest, especially now that he’s met Nickel. He knows it’s only temporary, though. The enemy that kept him captive for most of his life isn’t finished with him yet, but even Platinum and Nickel’s combined powers might not be enough to save them all.

How about a little taste?

Nickel fought to open his eyes. The lids felt like they were weighted down or as if someone had sewn them shut. He struggled with them for a few long minutes, then, exhausted, gave up and drifted off to sleep.

The second time Nickel woke, most of the weight had vanished. His eyes slid open easily enough, and then he had to blink away tears as the bright light from his bedside table lamp almost blinded him.

“Sorry!” Someone whose voice Nickel didn’t recognize gasped. There was a thump as something hit the floor, and the light snapped off a second later. Footsteps ran away from him, heading toward the door. More light flooded into the room as the door was flung open, but Nickel’s eyes had finally adjusted. “He’s awake!” the stranger yelled into the hallway.

A series of familiar thumps, bumps, squeals, and exclamations sounded as Nickel’s family literally dropped whatever they were doing and ran toward Nickel’s bedroom. The door was flung open wider, and a small stampede rushed to Nickel’s bedside.

Alloy reached Nickel first. He climbed onto the chair pulled up next to Nickel’s bed where the stranger had been sitting moments before. He leaned over Nickel’s head to see him better.

“Yup, he’s awake,” Alloy chirped happily. Alloy’s hair was rumpled from playing, and the bright red-and-blue strands that matched the colors of each of his wide eyes hung over his forehead. A pair of hands wrapped around Alloy’s middle and gently lifted him off the chair. Alloy was happy to settle into Mercury’s arms so Mercury could bend closer to Nickel.

“How are you feeling?” Mercury asked. His voice was soft, almost as if he was afraid of startling Nickel, which was silly after all the yelling from just a moment ago. Mercury’s bronze-colored hair was long on his neck, and his bronze-colored eyes looked concerned. Mercury was still wearing the button-up shirt he wore to work, so it must be late afternoon.

Nickel blinked slowly, trying to figure out what he had done to deserve the fanfare. Had he been sleepwalking? No, he didn’t feel strong enough to sit up, let alone get out of bed and walk around. He must have been sick, yet that answer didn’t jive either.

The rest of his family had lined up behind Mercury. Lumie was standing next to Copper, their bright red hair and eyes an exact match for the shade in Alloy’s hair. They were fire dragons, but Lumie was only ten years old while Copper was eighteen, the same age as Nickel. Next to them were ’Ron and Chrome, the two earth dragons. Chrome looked like he had been digging outside again; half of his face and his clothing were covered in dirt the same color as his and ’Ron’s hair. They were both thirteen years old, but ’Ron was considerably cleaner than Chrome. Dane had his hands on ’Ron’s shoulders, no doubt to keep her from jumping onto the bed to give Nickel a hug. That would be painful, but Nickel still couldn’t remember why his body ached so much.

Dane was the tallest person in the room. His blond hair seemed to glow, and his ears were pointed at the moment, which meant the glamor he used to hide his otherworldly appearance was down. He was unbelievably beautiful, but then he was the child of a god.

Zinc was next in line. Her long white hair, distinctive of air dragons, was loose from the braid she usually kept it in. It hung in a wave down her back. Her gray eyes were earnest as they looked at Nickel, except her face seemed thinner than Nickel remembered. She also seemed to be taller, almost Dane’s height.

Nickel blinked in surprise, and then saw the hand clasped in Zinc’s and gaped. Zinc, with her hair still in its distinctive white braid, was standing next to herself. Only, now Nickel was realizing that the first version of Zinc was actually male. They were egg twins, identical dragons except for their gender, hatched out of the same egg. He was Platinum, the dragon who Nickel and the rest of his family had been searching for ten years.

Like a spark had been lit, a fire erupted in Nickel’s head. He winced at the sudden pain, only it didn’t exactly hurt. Memories flooded back, each a little video that connected with the others to give him the whole story. There were a lot of them, the sheer volume overwhelming him and causing the pain-mimicking feeling.

Searching the woods for the person mucking with the weather. Finding out that Platinum had escaped from the enemy scientists. Watching Lumie and Platinum get kitnapped. Flying off to defeat the scientists once and for all. Losing the battle. And then nothing. He didn’t know how he had gotten home, only that he was safe now.

“How long am I grounded for?” Nickel asked. His voice was thick and scratchy and his throat dry. How long had it been since he had last spoken? Surely it couldn’t be more than a few hours. A day at most.

Mercury let out a growly snort. “For the foreseeable future. And don’t even think the word ‘candy.’”

Nickel sighed, but at the moment he honestly just wanted a glass of water. Begging for candy could wait until he could sit up properly again.

My Review:
This is the fifth story in a series, and best enjoyed when read in series.

Dane, a demigod, and his husband Mercury, a precious dragon shifter, have been diligently assisting dragons in need for the past ten years, while also raising their clutch of mis-matched and genetically-modified (by evil human scientists!!) kits.

Nickel is an 18 year old Dragon, being raised by Dane and Mercury. As a kit, Nickel escaped a laboratory where he was being cruelly tortured by human scientists trying to steal his water magic. When rescued by Mercury, and later Dane, Nickel wanted revenge, and they allowed him to wield his magic to take down his tormentors. Since that time, Nickel’s grown up, done his schooling and is training to be a private investigator. HE has helped Dane in his supernatural consulting business for years, while also tracking down the rogue pods of humans still experimenting on dragons. He recently helped save Platinum, the male air dragon who had been in captivity and testing for most of his 18 year old life.

Platinum is the egg twin of Chrome, Nickel’s adopted sister, but Platinum’s air magic has been mutated by the scientists and his emotional state can induce changes in the local weather. Having been raised in captivity, Platinum is shy of being in the company of people, and some of Nickel’s adopted siblings are a little too much for him. Platinum struggles with nightmares, but he’s trying to build his skills in both magic and his education–learning to read and write for the first time. It is through the love of Dane and Mercury that Platinum finally has a home.

In the rescue of Platinum, Nickel’s magic was dangerously drained. He’s having a hard time regaining his strength and this is really frustrating. He’s taken years to build his magic up, and now he’s barely able to walk to the bathroom. But, he and Platinum are sharing a room, and that makes it easy to lean on one another. Not that it takes Nickel long to realize that Platinum is his mate.

The casual way they connect is sweet and tender. I loved how Dane helped both Platinum and Nickel with (sometimes) secret plans to take care of one another. Platinum’s skills in magic are growing by the day, and Platinum delights in helping outfit their new office to accommodate Nickel better. Meanwhile, Nickel has big plans to make a life for him and Platinum–in a much quieter little cottage they can call home. Ultimately, they won’t feel safe if they can’t track down the last of the scientists who’d gotten away from Nickel. But they are both necessary to the investigation, giving Platinum the agency he’s needed to help him cope with his trauma. And, there’s a wholesome family vibe to this story where each of the dragons is essential to the security of dragons, at home and abroad.

I’ve loved this series and would recommend it for people who are fans of light romances and heavy paranormal.

Interested? You can find DRAGON SOLDIER on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

You can catch up with Mell on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Cover Reveal for THE PRINCE AND THE PENCIL PUSHER

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a contemporary M/M romance coming soon from Kenzie Blades. THE PRINCE AND THE PENCIL PUSHER which features royals, superheroes and intrigue.

About the book:
Bad things happen when supos go unchecked. That’s why Abarra needs The Ministry: to keep tabs on royals with powers run amok. Queen Maialen has entrusted the safety of her subjects to her nephew, Prince Xabier, placing the agency in his capable hands.

Only, the Prince would rather spend his days putting his own power to good use in the vineyards than to wither away on the bureaucratic vine. Tired of policing perpetrators and babysitting bean-counters, he schemes to groom his first lieutenant (and second cousin) the Duke of Shrubs. After months spent moving chess pieces, he is poised to convince the Queen to assign his cousin to his post.

But an unlikely pawn still stands in his way: the sexy Zain Otxoa is the pushiest pencil-pusher in all of The Ministry and head of internal affairs. Prince Xabier has plotted to have him fired at least thrice. Zain’s influence over the Queen—his only saving grace—is baffling.
When a master maneuver to have Zain reassigned exposes a shocking imbroglio, Prince Xabier learns The Ministry isn’t what it seems. And Zain isn’t a pawn at all.

Interested? You can find THE PRINCE AND THE PENCIL PUSHER on Goodreads and pre-order it on Amazon ahead of it’s 9/28 release.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Living Your Best Life CINDERELLA BOY–Promo and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a promo for a contemporary LGBTQ story for new-to-me author Kristina Meister. CINDERELLA BOY features a genderqueer teen boy finding unexpected love with his sister’s ex-boyfriend.

About the book:
Being perfect isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Sixteen-year-old Declan is the perfect son . . . except for one tiny issue. When his sister Delia comes home to find him trying on her clothes, he fears her judgment, but she only fears his fashion choices. One quick makeover later, Declan is transformed into Delia’s mysterious cousin Layla and dragged to the party of the year, hosted by Carter, the most popular boy in school.

When Carter meets Layla, he fumbles to charm her. He adores her sense of humor and her poise. But when she vanishes in the middle of the night, he’s left confused and determined to solve the mystery of who she is.

As their school year begins, their high school embraces a policy of intolerance, and both Declan and Carter know they must stand up. Carter is tired of being a coward and wants to prove he can be a knight in shining armor. Declan is sick of being bullied and wants desperately to be himself. If they team up, it could be a fairy-tale ending, or a very unhappy ever after.

I wrote a full review of the audiobook on Joyfully Jay for CINDERELLA BOY, and if you go read my New-To-Me Challenge review and make a comment by midnight on Saturday you will be entered in the weekly drawing for a $25 GC for JMS Books, and the month-wide drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite filled with 50 ebooks from NineStar Press!

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Mystical Connection in CASSADAGA NIGHTS-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M fantasy romance from Jana Denardo. CASSADAGA NIGHTS features a psychic falling hard for a traveling mage, and finding a new career path opening to him.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Santino Bellomi and his coworker, Cam, are sent to Cassadaga, Florida by the Aspida Pneuma, a group of psychics and mages. Their job is to rescue a nixie from a polluted lake and to check out the town, which is known for its psychics. New recruits to the Aspida are always welcome and where better than a spiritualist camp to hunt for them? What Santino wants most, however, is to finish the assignment quickly. He isn’t a fan of heat and humidity, and he’d looking forward to a well-earned vacation once the mission is over.

Ryan Doyle grew up in Cassadaga, where being psychic runs in the family. Ryan has never roamed far from home, though it’s hard being a geeky gay, wannabe urban fantasy author living in a small town. His job as one of the town psychics is fairly routine until he meets someone new. Ryan has never encountered anyone with a psychic shield so strong until Santino sits down for a reading. Intrigued, he asks Santino out even though Santino is as secretive as he is fun.

Santino hopes to win Ryan over both for himself and for the Aspida. And he’s hoping his skills in the kitchen will swing the balance in his favor. Ryan has almost given up on finding love, living in rural Florida. Can a seductive tourist be the answer to his dreams?

Things never run smoothly for those in the Aspida. What should have been a simple rescue mission is plagued by mosquitoes, enraged ghosts, and someone or something draining residents of their life force. Ryan’s first foray into adventure may be his last.

How about a yummy taste?

Ryan drew his shield over himself, letting his psychic senses dampen down. All day, most days, he dropped his armor, walking around exposed, vulnerable on all sides to the flood of stimuli. Such was the life of a professional psychic. He was unable to cut himself off when he was on the job. His clients depended on his abilities. While he could cold read a person to give Houdini a run for his money, Ryan was the real deal when it came to being psychic. Houdini would have had a helluva time debunking his abilities.

Here at home, safe in his fortress of solitude, Ryan armored up, drawing upon his psychic shields. He could rest, letting his senses recharge. Elsie—one of the original inhabitants of the town in the 1890s—had been the only thing able to penetrate his shields. The books on his bookcase rattled alerting him that Elsie, his boisterous ghost, had noted his return.

Ryan double-checked the setting on the air conditioning in his tiny Harmony Hall apartment. He might have been born and raised in Cassadaga, but it didn’t mean he loved Florida summers. That said, the air conditioner sat at an acceptable temperature, but inside, the heat stifled him. He turned on the old fan from the 1930s, the kind with barely a whisper of a guard surrounding it, and aimed it at his computer. Only the force of the wind coming out of the fan kept Kuro from jamming his paws into it to catch the blades. His cat didn’t like his fur mussed.

Ryan drew the curtains where his apartment overlooked the Cassadaga Hotel before stripping off his shorts. There, he was as naked as he could get without removing skin, and he was still too hot. He crammed into the cramped shower and ducked his head under the faucet, wetting his hair. Afterward, he strolled into the kitchen, poured himself an iced tea, and rubbed the cool glass across his nipples a few times in a vain attempt to lower his body temperature.

Finally, giving up, Ryan returned to his computer and let the ancient fan and his wet hair act as a swamp cooler. Acclimatize my ass. In quiet moments like this, Ryan was sure he heard the mildew growing on his skin in the humidity. He streamed some indie music and opened up a story file. After a day of work, he enjoyed doing what he’d actually gone to school for: writing.

Unfortunately, his career as an urban fantasy writer hadn’t taken off yet, so he was still in the family business. Much to the endless and completely irrational irritation of his sister, Mary. Ryan didn’t quite get it. She’d been vicious in claiming their mother’s house as her own to do readings in, following their mother’s path. Their whole family possessed psychic abilities, as did many others in Cassadaga, a Spiritualist commune.

Ryan didn’t understand why he couldn’t share the house with Mary, but she was having none of it. She’d been pissed off he’d been accepted into Harmony Hall after proving his abilities worthy of the honor. One had to be psychic to rent there. It bemused him that his only living relative didn’t want much to do with him, and it wasn’t because he was gay. Mary didn’t give a crap about his sexuality. No, she didn’t like the fact that his psychic abilities equaled hers.

Shoving Mary from his mind, Ryan tried to get into his story, but the day’s worries bled into his consciousness. Tomorrow, a big open house would have trainees doing half-price readings at the Davis Center, and he’d have to oversee Lisa, his trainee. It was fun, in a way, interacting with the public, and many turned out for the half-price offering. But surely there was more he could be doing with his ability.

A vague disappointment dogged Ryan because he hadn’t thought to do the psychic TV thing. He assumed they started out legit, but ratings and pressure from the shows’ money men probably quickly led to faking results. Sure, some of them did fake stuff. He’d been on more ghost hunts than he could count. No one got so many results every time, and demons didn’t really lurk around every corner. Oh, he didn’t discount demons—but to have house after house filled with them? He had his doubts. He didn’t want to contribute to all the charlatan acts out there. He was the real deal.

Sighing, he gave up for a moment and tried to clear his head with a little internet therapy. Of course the internet was as big a bane to his writing as it was an asset to his research. He checked out a tarot card Kickstarter using some truly gorgeous art and sighed again. The goal hadn’t quite been reached yet, but hopefully soon. He planned to add them to his collection. His last acquisition had been a steampunk deck almost too pretty to use. Tarot cards were the one thing he collected outside of manga. Ryan had reluctantly put his books into storage because his apartment was too small, and he’d moved to e-books, which didn’t have the same appeal. Still, his hating on the e-book afforded him nothing. He planned to sell some one day.

Elsie fluttered in the corner of his eye like black butterflies dancing in and out of the ceiling fan blades. When he turned his attention to her, she smiled, waved, and faded away, content she’d gotten his attention. Rolling his eyes, Ryan turned to his computer. He goofed off on the internet for a little while longer before getting back to his fantasy world. He’d left his warrior witch in a rough spot. He probably ought to have her save herself.

My Review:
Ryan Doyle is a psychic in a long line of them–his mother was renown in the field and his sister has the gift, and resents that Ryan does as well. Ryan mentors younger or newer psychics, using his gifts to help them gain control of theirs, but he’s feeling a little melancholy about his life. Cassadaga, Florida is a a sheltered community and he rarely has and social engagements–of the romantic kind.

Santino Bellomi is a mage and psychic, and works for a secret society called Aspida Pneuma. He is tasked with stopping malevolent forces from infringing on the mortal realm. His partner, Cam, a shapeshifting female, also has strong magic. They have been dispatched to Cassadaga to track down a nixie (water spirit) who seems to be in danger. The pond where this being is living is tiny and not suitable–but Santino and Cam are having trouble coaxing the nixie into direct contact. Meanwhile, Santino is intrigued by the thriving psychic community, and believes Ryan’s abilites may align with that of the Aspida Pneuma. So, he begins to build a rapport with Ryan–whom he finds very attractive.

This is a sweet, short romance with some excellent and fun magical elements. There happens to be a fae interloper in Cassadaga who’s wreaking unexpected havoc–and Santino and Cam are in good position to manage the situation. Ryan’s shock over learning about magical creatures and the danger Santino faces day to day. He’s intrigued about the Aspida, but he’s more intrigued with Santino. I liked how they had some fun date nights, and tried to learn a bit about one another before they get physical. The game dates and walking through botanic gardens really sounded fun. It’s a low angst romance kicking off what seems to be a series focused on the magical misadventures of Ryan and Santino. I look forward to reading on!

Interested? You can find CASSADAGA NIGHTS on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Jana is Queen of the Geeks (her students voted her in), and her home and office are shrines to any number of comic book and manga heroes along with SF shows and movies too numerous to count. It’s no coincidence that the love of all things geeky has made its way into many of her stories. To this day, she’s disappointed she hasn’t found a wardrobe to another realm, a superhero to take her flying among the clouds, or a roguish starship captain to run off to the stars with her.

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

Magical Love in THE SORCERER’S GUARDIAN-Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new M/M fantasy romance from Antonia Aquilante. THE SORCERER’S GUARDIAN is the fourth story in her Chronicles of Tournai series. I really enjoyed THE PRINCE’S CONSORT, THE ARTIST’S MASQUERADE, and THE SCHOLAR’S HEART but I”ve been waiting to find out how the magic resolves, so I was eager to tackle this book.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Savarin honed his Talent through years of study, and to achieve his goal of becoming the most powerful and accomplished sorcerer in Tournai, he made magic his life. Among the wealthy and noble circles he moves in, no one would suspect the handsome, refined, arrogant sorcerer’s humble beginnings—which is how Savarin prefers it. He wants to be seen only as the man he’s made himself. When Tournai’s princes task Savarin with studying and strengthening the spells that protect the principality from magical attack, he is more than happy to do so. The spells are complex, centuries old, and exactly the type of puzzle Savarin is eager to solve. But to his annoyance, the princes insist Loriot accompany him on his journey.

Second son of a minor noble family, Loriot worked his way up the ranks of the royal guard to captain with single-minded determination and takes pride in his service to the crown. He must obey the prince’s orders to protect Savarin, despite believing his skills would be best used elsewhere and his wariness of magic. UnTalented himself, Loriot has learned not only the benefits of magic but also its potential for harm—and how to counter it. He still believes it’s best to avoid most magic entirely, which is difficult when he’s tasked with playing guard to a powerful sorcerer.

Loriot and Savarin clash repeatedly during their journey, but the simmering tension between them doesn’t only stem from their work, and passion develops into feelings neither expected. But Savarin must still secure Tournai’s magical barrier, and his only solution will endanger both him and the royal family.

How about a yummy taste?

As afternoon waned into evening, Loriot approached his house on Dove Lane. Weariness dragged at him with each step. He hadn’t slept more than a few minutes in the last few days, and now that the crisis had passed, he felt the fatigue down to his bones. But the lack of sleep was worth it for the good outcome of the situation.

He trudged up the few steps to his front door, its rich blue color recently freshened, and let himself in. The key turned smoothly in the lock, and the magical protections on the house recognized him as belonging, allowing him inside. He shivered, even though he didn’t feel anything as he crossed the threshold; perhaps someone with a Talent would, but he had neither Talent nor any sensitivity to magic.

Inside, the house was quiet. The formal parlor was empty, which was unsurprising as they rarely used it—only when Joceline and Oriana chose to entertain. He wanted more than anything to go up to his bedchamber and collapse into his bed for the next few days, but he couldn’t. Couldn’t even collapse for a few hours without checking on his family. But he knew where at least one of them was likely to be at this time of day.

The sitting room at the back of the house was quiet, too, so quiet he could hear the scratch of his sister’s pen on paper as he stepped into the doorway. Joceline sat at her writing desk, papers spread around her, pen flying across the page. Despite the silence, she didn’t notice him. A good writing day, then. He hated to disturb her, but she’d want to know he was home.

“Story going well?” he asked, keeping his voice quiet so he wouldn’t startle her. He’d learned it was better to have to repeat himself than to scare her when she was absorbed in a world of her own creation.

But he didn’t have to repeat himself today. She glanced up immediately, her gaze hazy and then sharpening. “There you are! I was wondering if you were ever coming home.”

He hadn’t been gone so long—only a couple of days—but he did try not to let a day go by without returning for at least a little while. He stepped farther into the room and sank down into a comfortable chair. “It was unavoidable. You got my notes?”

“Of course. You know I was just teasing.” Joceline narrowed her eyes and studied him with an intensity he could almost feel. “Is everything all right? You look exhausted, and I heard yesterday the guard was searching everyone leaving the city.”

He scrubbed a hand over his face. Sitting had been a mistake. His eyelids wanted to droop; his body wanted to melt into the cushions. “There was a kidnapping.”

“Not Prince Julien?”

“No, no. And it’s fine now,” he reassured her, trying to keep her from coming out of her chair in her alarm at a threat to the heir to Tournai’s throne. “It wasn’t a member of the royal family at all.”

“But you were involved?”

As captain of the royal guard, Loriot normally wouldn’t be directly involved in such a situation. “The baby taken was the daughter of Prince Amory’s friend, Master Tristan. The merchant. Though if what I saw means anything, he’ll likely be a member of the royal family soon.”

“Really?” Joceline leaned forward, her interest of a different kind now. “There’s going to be a marriage? To whom? The princess?”

He shook his head. He didn’t need to tell her what he said should go no further. He didn’t ever tell her anything truly secret, but Loriot didn’t see the harm in a little meaningless court gossip now and then, especially since she wouldn’t spread it. “No. Lord Etan.”

She sat back with a huff. “Well, they really are bucking tradition, aren’t they?”

He let out a short laugh. But what she said wasn’t untrue. Both Tournai’s prince and his cousin, a royal duke, had married men in the last couple of years, and now it seemed Lord Etan, another cousin of Prince Philip’s, would do the same. Loriot couldn’t think of a time when such a thing had happened, as the royal family and nobility tended to marry those who could provide bloodline heirs for their titles—and some families were even more conservative, only marrying women.

“Good for them,” Joceline said. “I hope they’re happy.”

“Now that Tristan’s daughter is back with them, I believe they are.”

Concern flooded back into her pretty face. “You found her? And the person who took her?”

“Yes, with Master Savarin’s help.” He’d gotten over any resentment he might have had that he needed the help of magic long before today and was happy to use any tool he had access to. Savarin, the most powerful sorcerer in Tournai, was not someone whose help should be turned away, and Savarin never withheld it, serving Tournai whenever he was called upon.

“The sorcerer? How did he help?” Joceline sat forward, a gleam in her eyes he recognized well. She wasn’t simply curious; she wanted to know because she might use the information in a story.

“Joceline.”

“What?”

He sighed and shook his head. “He used his magic to try to track the kidnappers and then to try to find the baby directly. He pointed us in the right direction, let us know where to search for them.” Loriot didn’t bother mentioning the help they’d received from someone else, a scholar at the university. If he read Savarin right, Savarin would be finding Master Corentin at the university soon and asking him about the magic he used, because it also sounded as if Savarin hadn’t heard of anything like it.

“Interesting.”

“Let me guess, your new story has a sorcerer character.” He arched an eyebrow at her, his mildly disapproving tone mostly put on. Which she would know, as she was aware how proud he was of her accomplishments.

“I have an idea that would call for one. What’s Master Savarin like?”

“I don’t know him very well.” He tried to think of anything he knew about Savarin beyond the surface. “He’s powerful and arrogant with it.”

She shrugged. “I’d be surprised if he wasn’t. Aren’t all powerful sorcerers arrogant about their power?”

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t know any others.” He resolutely pushed his newly acquired knowledge of the royal family’s secret Talent from his mind. He didn’t need Joceline seeing a hint in his expression and trying to badger the information out of him. He would never tell, but life would be easier if he didn’t have to fight Joceline about it.

“All the ones I’ve read about in stories are. Especially the evil ones.”

“Tell me you’re not going to base a character on Master Savarin and make him evil.” Making the most powerful sorcerer in the country an evil character in a book sounded like a horrible idea.

Another shrug. “Powerful sorcerers always seem to be evil characters. Or self-sacrificing ones who save the day.”

Loriot shook his head and heaved himself to his feet. If he didn’t move, he’d end up sleeping right there. “Alain is upstairs?”

“Yes. But wait,” she called after him as he walked toward the door. “You must know something else about Master Savarin.”

“I really don’t.” He didn’t turn.

“Is he handsome?”

Savarin’s image filled his mind—his height and broad shoulders, perfectly carved features, blond hair he thought would be soft under his hands. His stride hitched, but he shook the image away and ignored Joceline calling after him. Perhaps she would forget the idea entirely if he didn’t encourage her.

He doubted it, but he could hope. The idea of Savarin as a character in a book on the shelf of a bookshop made him cringe.

Trudging up the stairs took the last of his energy, but he forced himself to bypass his own bedchamber. He couldn’t go to bed without seeing Alain. Not after so long away, not even if it hadn’t been very long. The door to the room at the back of the house was partially open. He peeked in as he pushed it open the rest of the way. The room was tidy, except for a veritable city built of blocks in the middle of the rug. The nursemaid noticed him first, but Alain wasn’t far behind. He looked up, his bright-green eyes—twins of Loriot’s own—lighting up, and something inside Loriot melted, just as it always did under those eyes.

“Papa!”

With ease of long practice, he caught the five-year-old bundle of energy that came flying at him and swung his son up into his arms. He cuddled him close for as long as Alain would allow. As tired as he was, he wouldn’t want to be anywhere else. “There’s my boy. I missed you. Show me what you’ve been doing.”

My Review:
This is the fourth book in a fantasy series, and likely best enjoyed when read in sequence, though it can be read as a standalone.

Savarin is the most powerful sorcerer in all of Tournai, most likely the most powerful in several generations. He uses his power for good, but he’s often isolated because of his austere appearance, and his great power. He has discovered that there are magical protections that surround the border of Tournai and help to protect the country against magical attack and potentially invasion. Unfortunately, some of these wards have been thinned, perhaps by testing by forgein agents who seek to wage war. He has Prince Philip’s blessing to leave the capital city and explore the boundaries, looking for weaknesses and studying the wards so that he could better pinpoint the damage and perhaps repair it. Used to working alone, and knowing that the project must be completed in complete secrecy lest the word get out on the presence of these protections wards, Savarin is frustrated that Prince Philip has also commanded his captain of the guard, Loriot, to accompany him as his personal protection.

Loriot is an excellent guard captain. Despite his noble birth, he worked his way up the ranks of the guard to become captain. He is also a father to a young boy, and he doesn’t want to be gone on what seems a fool’s errand for an untold time. Savarin won’t give him a timetable for the explorations of the border protection wards–but it’s also a good opportunity for Loriot to examine the guard outposts on the edge of the country. See if anything needs shoring up. It isn’t long before Loriot realizes that his presence is extremely necessary. When Savarin examines the wards his mind interacts with the magic, leaving his body catatonic for hours on end. And in these areas of border skirmishes, a rogue bands of thieves could take Savarin hostage–or worse. Besides, Savarin’s haughty exterior belies his dry wit and Loriot is intrigued by magic use for more than it’s potential to harm or protect. They make unexpectedly good traveling companions, and that’s before they make even better sexytimes companions in bed.

This book serves to round out the Chronicles of Tournai series which features shape-shifting royals who serve as a touchstone to the protections of their country. Loriot knows the magic of his Prince and family–a secret he’d only gained days before this adventure–yet he cannot reveal his knowledge to Savarin, who expresses frustration with being unable to determine the source of the magical power. The spells are clearly highly protected and some may be lost to time–though Etan, the prince’s cousin and royal historian and archivist, has some leads on where to look for the original notes on the spells themselves. When Loriot and Savarin return to Jumelle, the capital city, it is Savarin’s account of his experience that prompts the prince to confide in Savarin the truths that will help bolster the protections surrounding Tournai.

Back int he capital, both Loriot and Savarin had intended to let their traveling passions far to the wayside, however, they are still very much in one another’s minds, and reconnections are definitely made. Loriot’s son is more than enamored with Savarin, who is a little unsettled by how openly Loriot’s family seems to accept him. He’s so used to being treated with deference, even by his own kin. When Savarin’s efforts to build up Tournai’s magic lead him into ill health, he’s eternally grateful that his bond with Loriot is more than just a passing fancy.

This is a nice way to tie up many of the stories in the series. There is a lot of affection here, and both Loriot and Savarin are far happier coupled than alone. It’s interesting that there are some plot threads outstanding, and I’m happy to note, though this book was a stopping point for the author before, there are several books available following the next logical connections from this story. I really love the story-telling and feel like I could easily find a home in Tournai, even if I have no magic within me.

Interested? You can find THE SORCERCER’S GUARDIAN on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

Catch up with Antonia on Facebook, and twitter.

Captivated by the Danger THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m excited to share an excerpt and giveaway for a newly re-released M/M romance from mega-writer Rick R. Reed. THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR features a caring and lonely 20-something man caught up in lust and intrigue with his new and mysterious neighbors. If you liked THE PERILS OF INTIMACY, LEGALLY WED, or THE SECRETS WE KEEP you’ll likely enjoy this one, too.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
About the book:
Jeremy Booth leads a simple life, scraping by in the gay neighborhood of Seattle, never letting his lack of material things get him down. But the one thing he really wants—someone to love—seems elusive. Until the couple next door moves in and Jeremy sees the man of his dreams, Shane McCallister, pushed down the stairs by a brute named Cole.

Jeremy would never go after another man’s boyfriend, so he reaches out to Shane in friendship while suppressing his feelings of attraction. But the feeling of something being off only begins with Cole being a hard-fisted bully—it ends with him seeming to be different people at different times. Some days, Cole is the mild-mannered John and then, one night in a bar, he’s the sassy and vivacious drag queen Vera.

So how can Jeremy rescue the man of his dreams from a situation that seems to get crazier and more dangerous by the day? By getting close to the couple next door, Jeremy not only puts a potential love in jeopardy, but eventually his very life.

How about a little taste?

How many disappointing dates will I endure before I just give up?

I mean, here I am, a perfectly attractive, fit, self-sufficient thirty-year-old, and I’m still waiting to meet the man of my dreams. Mr. Right. Hell, tonight I’d even settle for that character who seems to come along on dates for most of us, the all-too-common Mr. Right Now. But even he isn’t on the seat beside me. In fact, I strongly doubt he’s anywhere in the vicinity of the Capitol Hill neighborhood of Seattle where I live.

Believe me, I’ve looked.

Mr. First Date pulls his Ford Fusion up to the curb in front of my apartment building on Aloha Avenue. We sit in awkward silence for several long moments, listening as the engine ticks down as it cools. I can feel him looking at me. As he’s done most of the evening, he waits for me to speak. I turn my head and, in the dark, give him a weak smile. The date, dinner at a little sushi place on Broadway, had not gone well, full of uncomfortable silences, awkward pauses, and desperate looks around for avenues of escape—on both our parts.

Do I need to say we just didn’t click?

I didn’t think so.

So what he says now surprises me.

“Do you want me to come up?”

Really? We’ve just spent an hour and a half of agony together, trying to find a snippet of common ground that doesn’t exist, and he’s wondering if I want him to come up, which we all know is code for “Shall we make the beast with two backs?”

Seriously? The most irksome thing is, I’m considering it. I mean, he’s cute in spite of our lack of social connection. He’s a games developer for a software company here in town and looks it, with a sort of hipster/geek vibe going on. He has red hair, which I love. He has a beard, which I love. He wears retro glasses, which make him look paradoxically goofy and sexy—which I love.

Would it be so terrible to sleep with him? I mean, it’s been at least two weeks since I’ve enjoyed the charms of anyone other than Mr. Thumb and his four sons, so at least in terms of a release, maybe I should just say “Sure” and open the car door. If things go like some of my dates in the past, he’d follow me upstairs to my apartment and be back in his car in, like, fifteen minutes.

No, I tell myself. And then I tell him, shaking my head, looking sad, and saying the words countless heartbreakers have used over the years to stop ardent passion in its errant tracks.

“I’m sorry, Neil. But I have to get up early.” Lamely, I pat his hand. “Maybe another time.”

I don’t need to be psychic to know that we both know another time ain’t gonna happen.

Neil seems relieved as he restarts his car. He shrugs. “It’s okay. Club Z’s just a couple minutes away, right? Down Broadway and a right on Pike—easy.”

He grins at me, and I wonder if he expects me to laugh. Club Z is one of Seattle’s filthiest bathhouses, and yes, it’s only a few minutes away. He doesn’t seem to need directions.

It’s my turn to be relieved that I didn’t actually succumb to the temptation of inviting this jerk upstairs. Wordlessly, I get out of the car and slam the door behind me.

Neil roars off into the damp and still night.

I pause and sigh, staring up at the building in which I’ve lived for the past five years. It’s an okay place, an old redbrick three story with none of the modern amenities—no stainless steel, granite countertops, or gas fireplaces. My apartment is homey. It even has the original tile, sink, and claw-foot tub in its single bathroom. The living room is large, with three big windows that look out on Aloha and let in lots of light—on the days when we have sun in Seattle (that means usually summer days). The floors are scuffed original hardwood. The kitchen actually has a pantry and built-in china hutch. I’ve painted the place a cheery, soft yellow.

Upstairs, the TV, with its DVRed episodes of at-odds Sons of Anarchy and Downton Abbey, awaits. Upstairs, there’s the gelato I love from Whole Foods in the freezer—hazelnut dark chocolate.

Such is my life. Comfortable and a little lonely.

Sometimes I wonder, like Peggy Lee, if that’s all there is.

I head toward the glass-paned front door. I grope in my jeans for my keys. The mail had not yet arrived before I left for my date, and I wonder if there will be any surprises in the vestibule mailbox. You know, like an actual letter from someone, standing out from the usual assortment of bills and solicitations by the cursive spelling out of my name—Jeremy Booth.

My problem is I always have hope, even when there’s little reason.

I open the front door, and that’s when everything changes. My life turns upside down. I go from bored discontent to panic in a split second.

The first thing I hear is someone shouting “No!” in an anguished voice. I look up from the lobby to see two figures on the staircase above, on the second-floor landing. One is a guy who looks menacing and so butch he could pose for a Tom of Finland poster. An aura of danger radiates from him. Aside from his imposing and muscular frame, he’s even wearing the right clothes—tight, rolled jeans and a black leather biker jacket with a chain snaking out from beneath one of the epaulets. His high- and tight-buzzed hair gives him a military—and mean—air. He has his hands on the shoulders of a guy who looks a bit younger and much slighter, making me want to call up the stairs, “Why don’t you pick on someone your own size?” The smaller guy, blond and clad only in a pair of pajama bottoms, struggles with his attacker, looking terrified. Their movements, clumsy and rough, would be comical if they weren’t so scary. The smaller guy is panting and batting ineffectually at the bigger one.

“Please! No! Don’t!” the smaller guy manages to get out, his voice close to hysteria.

I have never seen either of these men before. In fact, the whole scene has the quality of the surreal, a dream. The danger and conflict pulsing down the stairs makes my own heart rate and respiration accelerate, causing feelings of panic to rise within me.

And then the worst happens. The big butch guy shoves the smaller one hard, and all at once he’s tumbling heavily down the stairs toward me.

The fall is graceless, and it looks like it hurts. It’s over so fast that I’m left gasping.

I look up to see the leather-jacket guy sneer down at his mate, lying crumpled and crying at my feet, and then turn sharply on his heel to go back into a second-floor apartment that had been vacant yesterday. He slams the door. The sound of the deadbolt sliding into place is like the report of a shotgun. Both slam and lock resound like thunderclaps, echoing in the tile lobby, punctuation to the drama and trauma of this short scene.

I switch into Good Samaritan mode and drop to my knees at the sniveling, crumpled mess of a man lying practically at my feet.

“Are you okay?” I ask and reach out to lightly touch his shoulder.

He jerks away and, wincing, pulls himself up into an awkward sitting position. He stares at me with clear blue eyes for a moment, almost as though he’s trying to place me. He finally looks away.

“My ankle is throbbing. It hurts like hell. Maybe I twisted it.”

I don’t know what to say, other than to ask, “Would you like to try and stand? Test it out?”

He nods.

I lean over to grip him under the arms—it’s damp there, and I can smell the ripe aroma of body odor, probably inspired by fear or panic—and pull. He comes up with me and then stumbles, wincing and crying out.

“Damn. I might have sprained it when I fell.” His eyes are so appealing, in both senses of the word, as he stares at me, as though seeking direction for what to do next. He leans on me, taking his weight off the injured ankle.

I keep my arm around him, and together we limp over to a bench set beneath the bank of common mailboxes. We sit.

“What do you want to do?” I ask.

“I don’t know. I think Cole may have locked me out for the night.”

My Review:
Jeremy is An out-gay man living in Seattle in his mid-20s. His squalid apartment is all he can afford as he works days cleaning other people’s homes and imagining he will finally write the next great American novel. His love life is lackluster and he’s normally not even willing to settle fo Mr. Right Now…unless he’s super hard up.

Jeremy comes home from yet another spectacular failure of a date and find his newest next-door neighbors fighting in the gangway. He witnesses one of the men being brutally knocked down the staircase and is really upset by the situation. This poor man is 100% gorgeous and Jeremy is afraid to get himself involved in what seems to be a domestic drama. However he cannot forget the young man who has caught his eye.

Jeremy, as a child, helped his mother a victim of domestic violence cope with the batterings that his father doled out. This situation is a huge trigger for him. The man who is tossed on the stairs, Shane McAlester, is his next-door neighbor. And Jeremy will not abandon him. He helps Shane escape from his attacker a person who seems to be called “Cole.” Yeah Shane says he lives with a man named John. And chain seems to be reciprocating Jeremy’s attraction. This is all very confusing for Jeremy who does not like cheaters or people who are dishonest.

Shane stories for his past and also his experience with John and perhaps Cole seem very flimsy and also a partially dishonest. This is upsetting for Jeremy whose attraction seems to grow the more he assists Shane. He tries to step away from the situation, but he keeps getting embroiled deeper and deeper despite his best efforts to stay away.

This is a interesting romantic thriller as we learn the depths of John/Cole’s situation and how Shane is involved. Jeremy cannot truly stay away, due to his caretaking history with his mother’s battery. He wishes that he could’ve helped her more even though he was just a child. Now that he is a grown man he feels a need to protect Shane from his affection is continually growing. Shane reciprocates these feelings. And it’s a big huge conundrum about how to escape what seems to be a very violent streak in John/Cole.

There is a lot of danger here, but there is also happiness satisfaction and a happy ending. Jeremy and Shane do match up quite well and they overcome the handicaps of Shane’s acquaintance with John. It seems as though the worst is going to happen however, John Jeremy will not allow his happiness to be ruined by another brutal man in the his life. Expect drama, and Shane to hide John’s nature, and John to pull unexpected shenanigans to keep Shane from finding happiness with anyone besides himself. I won’t say more because I might give away the most important parts, and I don’t want to spoil the story. I really enjoyed this book, and recommend it for readers of romantic suspense and contemporary suspense thrillers with a dash of romance.

Interested? You can find THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter link for your chance to win a $10 NineStar Press GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

Catch up with Rick on his website, Facebook, twitter and Instagram.

Friends Find Love in EVERYTHING CHANGES–Review and giveaway


Hi there! Today I’m sharing a cover reveal for a contemporary M/M romance from Melanie Hansen. EVERYTHING CHANGES is the first book in her Resilient Love series, and has been revised for this new release.

Scroll down for an excerpt, my review and a chance to win $25 GC in the giveaway!
About the book:
Two battle buddies. One fateful deployment. Two vastly different sets of wounds. One friendship changed forever.

A childhood in foster care taught Carey Everett to hold tight to what he has. Enlisting in the Marines gave him purpose, but a life-threatening injury ended his career—and took his leg. Now fully recovered, Carey’s happier than he’s ever been. He has a fulfilling job, a chosen family and, best of all, a cherished friendship with Jase DeSantis, the platoon medic who saved his life.

Despite Jase’s heroism in combat, he’s haunted by his actions overseas. Playing music with his band keeps the demons at bay, but it’s a battle he’s starting to lose.

After a week of sun and fun in San Diego, Jase and Carey’s connection takes an unexpected turn. With change comes a new set of challenges. For Jase, it means letting someone else into his deepest pain. For Carey, it’s realizing love doesn’t always equal loss. In order to make their relationship work, they’ll have to come to terms with their pasts…
…or risk walking away from each other for good.

Author note:
UPDATED AS OF SEPTEMBER 2020! In this version, Jase and Carey’s basic story remains the same, but it’s approached in a very different manner. Rewritten from the ground up, and re-edited, this story is definitely one I can be more proud of. Also, if you’d like a peek into how Jesse and Trevor from Point of Contact are doing, this is the book for you! I hope you enjoy.

My Review
Carey and Jase were comrades in arms in the armed services before Carey was struck in the line of duty and lost the lower half of a leg and his foot. Having no living family, the military gave Jase leave and pay to help transition Carey back to civilian life with his prosthesis. That was a few years ago and the two of them have remained best friends. Jase comes from a loving family and now that he’s fulfilled his service contract he’s back in their midst. He was a medic in the service and now serves as an ambulance driver and the lead singer of a band that plays cover songs and also some of their own music. Jase is the lead songwriter, and the songs reflect the anguish of military life and experiences. His fellow bandmates are all retired military, and each has some ghosts to shed.

Carey has come to San Diego to hang out with Jase for a week’s vacation from his job as a media relations and funding coordinator for a non-profit veteran’s care group. Specializing in the therapy of amputees and veterans suffering with PTSD, Carey feels he has a purpose serving his fellow vets and helping them be whole. He’s happy to be with Jase, but he’s also a little unsettled by feelings he’s experiencing now that he and Jase are both healthy and in close proximity.

Carey hasn’t had a sexual partner in years, not since before his injuries. Well, there was ONE time, but that was with Jase and he was pretty sure that was a moment that Jase treated him with pity, and its was a one-sided release. He identifies as straight, while Jase is openly bisexual. That’s why Carey is confused about the jealousy he feels seeing men fawn all over Jase.

Jase has been in love with Carey for years. He was kind of crushed when Carey’s confusion and depression surrounding their one encounter turned to bitterness. It took him time to heal from those emotional wounds, and he’s still suffering PTSD from the moments of Carey’s injury, when he was almost unable to save Carey’s life. Being in the same apartment is pure torture, and Jase lusts for his best friend, and fears messing up their friendship again by trying to act on or confess his true feelings. Good thing Carey starts taking some control.

This is a friends-to-lovers, damaged veterans story, so you can expect the usual discussions about the danger and the intensity of fighting, the comradery of military personnel, and how to cope with civilian life. I liked how Carey and Jase told their own parts of the story, but at times I was a bit overwhelmed by the backstory creeping in and slowing the pace. I also a bit of a stickler for timelines and I will fully admit that this story had me flummoxed. It seemed both Jase and Carey were too (mathematically) young for the experiences described in their adult lives, and that kept itching in the back of my brain as I negotiated yet another backstory moment.

These guys are deeply invested in their friendship–Carey particularly as he has few close personal friends and no family. Both men need to take a leap of faith that they will be able to navigate their budding relationship in a way that will add to their lives, not detract from it. There is some conflict about this, particularly because Jase is too afraid to confide his biggest traumas to Carey, but their eventual frank conversation allows Jase the space to get the help he needs.

Interested? You can find EVERYTHING CHANGES on Goodreads and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for a chance to win a $25 Amazon GC from author Melanie Hansen.
Good luck and keep reading my friends.

About the Author:
Melanie Hansen has spent time in Texas and Florida prisons…for work. She’s been in a room with a 17-year-old mass murderer who was also one of the most soft-spoken and polite teenagers she’s ever met. After a 13-year career as a court reporter, she can tell many stories both hilarious and heartbreaking.

She grew up with an Air Force dad, and ended up marrying a Navy man. After living and working all over the country, she hopes to bring these rich and varied life experiences to her stories about people finding love amidst real-life struggles.

Melanie left the stressful world of the courtroom behind and now enjoys a rewarding career transcribing for a deaf student. She currently lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

Catch Melanie on her website, Facebook, and twitter.

Thanks for popping in and keep reading my friends!

Connecting Through THE B-SIDE–Promo and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a promo for a contemporary LGBTQ story for new-to-me author B. Harmony. THE B-SIDE features two unlikely roommates falling for one another–but trying to keep it friendly….for a while at least.

About the book:
Chance
When I read the roommate wanted ad, I thought my sister was encouraging me to live with an insane person. As it turns out, he isn’t insane, he’s sexy and one hundred percent my type. Living with him will be the ultimate test of my self control.
When the combination of our love of music and my overwhelming need to take care of him meets jealousy, sparks fly. His heart may be damaged, but nothing is beyond repair.
Now all I have to do is convince him that I’m in this for the long haul, not just this moment.

Tyler
I may look like the happy-go-lucky gay guy with a big smile and more punny tees than one person should probably own. But it’s just a shield to protect my heart, the one that has been torn apart by the people who were meant to love me most. The last thing I’m willing to do is risk the tattered shreds on my new – straight- roommate. Sure, he’s sexy as sin and has a love of music that rivals my own, but all that is just grounds for a new friendship. Nothing more. Right?
Yet, every moment we spend together tests a little bit more of my self control. When it turns out my roommate is not as straight as I once thought, I have to decide if this is one playlist I should listen to.
Will we have our own love song, or will this just be another broken-hearted ballad?

The B-Side is a low-angst, roommmates-to-lovers, MM Romance novel. Featuring punny t-shirts for every occasion, killer playlists, meddling family and friends, and a happily-ever-after.

I wrote a full review on Joyfully Jay for THE B-SIDE, and if you go read my review and make a comment you will be entered in the weekly drawing for Author swag, and the month-wide drawing for a Kindle Paperwhite filled with 50 ebooks from NineStar Press!

About the Author:
B. Harmony is a Texas girl with SoCal roots with a penchant for rock music and happily ever afters. She began her journey as a romance author after spending a year as a book blogger and bookstgrammer in the romance community.

She has been writing on and off for years, but The B-Side is the first novel that has reached completion.

B. Harmony lives in Texas with her husband, two children, and two fur babies. She spends her free time drinking too much coffee, swearing, and reading & writing while simultaneously watching baseball.

Catch up to Ms. Harmony on her website, Instagram, and Facebook.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!

Summer Heat and SPLASH!–Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt, review and giveaway for a contemporary M/M New Adult romance from J.R. Hart. SPLASH is an enemies-to-lovers romance that features a lifeguard unwillingly falling for an obnoxious pool patron, and unexpectedly finding the love of his life.

Catch the review, excerpt and enter to win a $10 GC below.
About the book:
Connor Molina’s summer can’t get any worse. He’s stuck in his college town taking summer classes, and he’s got a dead-end lifeguard job he’s too old for and a baby gay who’s thirsty for all the wrong guys.

Even worse? Tristan, a wild patron, won’t leave his section of the pool, splashing him and pulling stupid stunts to get his attention. When Tristan fakes a drowning to get closer to him, Connor’s furious, but he quickly realizes that Tristan’s reckless nature isn’t always infuriating…it’s also intriguing.

Can he let his guard down and let Tristan in, or will he be bound by his own rules and drown in the self-doubt this summer could free him from?

How about a little taste?

I overslept. One week into summer, and I’d already overslept. Showering? Not really an option. Nothing about the summer after my sophomore year of college had gone the way I planned for it to go, so oversleeping? Yeah, not super unsurprising. That was me, Connor Molina, epic fuck-up. I knew why I was stuck in that godforsaken town the entire fucking summer, and almost all of it had everything to do with going to parties more often than going to my 8:00 a.m. classes. Can anyone blame that on me, though? No. The blame goes to anyone who thought morning classes would ever be an acceptable thing for anyone to experience. Whoever came up with that idea should be locked away, key thrown away, all of it.

But summer started all wrong. My ultimate goal had been to go back home. You know, normal summer stuff. Swim laps in the backyard pool, slack off, maybe hook up a few times. I don’t know. Obviously, that didn’t happen. I wouldn’t be saying shit about that summer if it had. Uneventful stories never make for good reflections, do they? But that summer was eventful in ways I didn’t expect it to be. It’s part of what made my summer so, so fucked.

Instead of being home for the summer, I was there, at the Springdale Aquatic Center and Lap Pool, sitting in ungodly heat and staring at unnaturally blue-looking water. You know the kind of blue of skies and oceans and all that? No, this was hyperchlorinated blue, made more intense by the paint at the bottom until it was an intense cerulean. Instead of swimming in my parents’ greenish lap pool, I was trying to make sure no one drowned in this lap pool. Real upgrade there, Connor. Awesome.

You’d think that shit wouldn’t get old after a day and a half, but it did. The only perk was not getting audited in the first couple of days—if no one was checking to see whether I was watching closely enough, then I couldn’t get screwed over and lose my job if I missed the sign. Of course, it would have been no surprise if the summer went like that. Considering everything else that had happened so far, it would have made sense for it to blow up in my stupid face and leave me jobless too. But that didn’t happen. All I wanted was to make it through the summer without someone dying on my watch. That shouldn’t have been too much to ask.

Nothing about the job was worth the money. If you’re thinking about being a lifeguard, let this be your warning. It isn’t worth it. But I couldn’t back out no matter how badly I wanted to. It was on the schedule before we even had the most terrifying meeting ever, and I had no choice but to press on. Never mind that they made it clear the job was life-or-death during that meeting. Never mind that I hated the concept of ever setting foot in the pool again after the stuff their words stirred up in my mind.

Never mind that I was scared to death someone might drown right in front of me because of my own fuck-up or inability to keep them alive. Never mind the added pressure when I was already at my breaking point going into summer. All of it was horrifying, but I didn’t have the luxury of choice. Everything else was full. Literally every single damn summer job…full.

If I wouldn’t have had to be there in the first place, I could have slacked off and loafed around on my parents’ couch and watched shitty daytime talk shows, checked out The Price Is Right and tried to guess the price of a car I’d never own. But no, I had rent to pay. I still do. I had to have something to do. Every pizza delivery position, every law firm secretary job, every retail cashier option, all of it was full. I couldn’t even get a job sacking groceries, not that I would have taken a position clearly made for a high schooler. Any of those had to be better than lifeguarding though. Every job in town, even that, was for teenagers. I was underqualified for the good shit, but I was way overqualified for being a lifeguard.

One summer. I promised them I’d work there for one summer, but after that, I had told myself there was no way in hell I’d ever be caught on that guard stand again. The whole job is complete and utter bullshit. No amount of SPF in the world could have gotten me through it either. I still don’t know how I didn’t lose my entire mind being there. Well, I do, but I didn’t at the time.

Sure, I probably took it a little bit too seriously, a little bit too personally whenever they mentioned, you know…drowning. None of my other coworkers gave a shit if someone were to die in their section. The thing is, they’re all basically kids, lifeguards are. High school babies at best, with a few going into college in the fall. I was the only jackass actually in college when I got the job, so, of course, none of them took it seriously. It made sense that they didn’t give a shit if something happened. None of us ever think it’ll happen to us. No one ever does, do they? But that stuff does happen. It does. I had seen it happen before, and the thought of letting it happen that summer somehow? I was horrified by the entire prospect. Don’t worry, nobody actually drowned over the summer, though the close calls were enough to make me hate the job regardless.

The summer didn’t start great, either. We were down two guards on the second day of work. One of them never bothered to call in, and I’m pretty sure she never showed up all summer anyway. The other one missed the audit ball and got sent home. Greg, the manager, tossed this little ball in the water in your section. Each ball represents someone drowning, and if you don’t jump in and save the ball in time, you get written up and sent home early. I’m not sure why they think sending you home is the right choice there. It’s not like it gives you more practice. To me, you should be buddy-guarding until you get it right, but that’s not how it goes, and it left us shorthanded. Way too shorthanded.

That’s why I scan the water, why I always keep scanning the water. The ball represents a life, someone she would have just let drown because she wasn’t even watching. Getting sent home was the least of her worries. Maybe if it had been a real person, she would have understood. We hadn’t been working together long enough for me to even know her name, and by the third audit she missed in two weeks, she was fired, so I never really got to know her anyway.

I don’t switch off when I’m working. I can’t. You never know who the hell might end up drowning on your watch, and I wasn’t about to have a death on my conscience. I couldn’t fathom the idea of telling someone’s mom, “hey, your kid drowned because I wasn’t paying attention,” or somehow having to deal with the consequences there, the nightmares or whatever else. It’s stuff like that making the job literally the worst in the world. If I looked away, who knows what might have happened? Maybe someone would have died. I don’t know. Maybe I was just fucking paranoid. Maybe I still am.

Or maybe it’s the way my section always attracted the biggest jackasses on the planet. The entire time I was working the first few days, regardless of the section I was in, there was this one guy. One damn kid who had to show off, basically. He and his buddies were there to break every rule, doing flips off the high dive, trying to play chicken. They were old enough to know better and old enough also to set a bad example for anyone younger—if they could do it, the younger kids thought it was safe to do too. It was impossible to watch everyone in my section when he kept pulling my focus, making me watch him and his friends carefully so nobody got killed.

He was there when I was manning the diving boards, attempting cannonballs and flips far beyond his skill level. When I moved on to the wide slide typically reserved for kids to slide down with his parents, he and his friends were shoving each other down and trying to launch themselves off. I’d tell him to sit on his ass (in nicer words) and not on his stomach, but halfway down he’d spin, flipping to skid down headfirst.

“He’s cute, isn’t he?” I can still remember James asking me that question and even now, a huge part of me wants to slap him over it.

“The one with the death wish? No, he’s not.” I didn’t get it. I didn’t understand how half of the guards at this pool could think he was hot. I was there trying to watch, trying to keep track of everyone, and it felt like everyone else was simply there to gawk at the patrons. Being the only one actually there to work sucked, even if I got that they were just kids. You know, whatever, but some of us didn’t need the added distraction.

“You have to admit he’s at least a little bit cute,” James said, elbowing me in the ribs. I was half tempted to break his arm over the way he jabbed me.

“I don’t have to. He’s not being cute. He’s trying to crack his head open on the side of the pool. What are you doing over here anyway?” This wasn’t James’s section right then, not where I was, and I couldn’t understand why he was even where I was at, to be honest. Last I saw, he was supposed to be over by the lazy river, not close to me in the deep end.

“I’m on break,” he told me.

“Oh, so you’re over here lurking and trying to stare at him and everything else, getting in my way when I’m trying to do my job? Cool. Thanks.” I was only half joking. I tried to make myself seem as pleasant as possible, but a large part of me was really annoyed. The last thing I needed was James near me, trying to talk while I was taking this seriously. James was the only other openly gay guard there, and not even a small part of me was surprised he was interested in a dumbass like that one. I never tried to hide who I was, and if a girl at the pool flirted with me, she usually figured out she wasn’t my type pretty quickly. But James? He couldn’t hide it. Anyone could’ve clocked him from a mile away. He wasn’t subtle and it was okay, but it also got him in trouble. The town wasn’t the most open-minded place ever.

My Review:
Connor Molina is a college sophomore on a swim team for his university. He’d usually go back home for the summer break, but he messed up a course or two, and needs to take summer classes to maintain his eligibility and keep on track for his nursing degree. So, he’s taken a job as a lifeguard at a town pool not far from the apartment he shares with a teammate and occasional friend-with-benefits.

At the pool, Connor is plagued by the immature attention-seeking behavior of an otherwise attractive pool patron, Tristan. And, he’s a little bit hounded by an out high school aged fellow lifeguard who would happily toss his virginity at Tristan. Or Connor. James is horny, and not picky.

The more Tristan acts out, the more disgusted Connor is, and he makes no secret of his distaste, especially when Tristan fakes a drowning to trick Connor into kissing him. In the aftermath, Connor tears him a new a-hole and the tension between them skyrockets. Tristan is recalcitrant, and his sudden absence concerns Connor. And, that’s when he starts catching feelings.

Tristan has a precarious home life; raised by a man who isn’t his blood father, a man who’s an alcoholic with a sore temper. They have both had issues since Tristan’s mom died, but the grief plays out in passive-aggressive standoffs and Tristan occasionally couch surfing when his dad kicks him out for a few days or longer. He’s only just completed high school, and he’s planning to go to the local junior college to stay near his dad. He had better offers with schools that had real careers, but his only tie to his mom is through his home and his dad. The more that Connor and Tristan connect, the more that he sees beyond the happy-go-lucky, aggressive demeanor to the isolated young man who isn’t sure what his next move should be.

Connor tells this story, and it’s nice to see his frustration morph through shock, anger and lust into appreciation and love. Tristan’s talent in drawing astounds Connor and he pushes Tristan to look at his prospects in art and design, rather than the lackluster business degree he was pursuing. It’s a bit bittersweet for Connor, because those colleges are on the other side of the country, and he’s losing his heart to Tristan. The summer is coming to an end, and it’s clearly going to be the end of this summer fling turned into a true love story. The pacing was a little slow, for me, as Connor railed about Tristan and what a brat he was for at least the first third of the book. Then, he mooned a lot about the impending move for Tristan, once the arrangements are made for him to seek a new college plan. The love story is nice though, especially once Connor commits to Tristan. There are a lot of sexytimes, and some power games that play out to push Connor and Tristan only further together. The resolution is happier than the lead-up intimated, with Connor’s roomie playing a bit of a trick that rocks Connor’s work in the best way.

Interested? You can find SPLASH on Goodreads, NineStar Press, and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 gift code to NineStar Press.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
J R Hart is a queer 30-something novelist passionate about telling romantic and erotic stories about LGBT+ characters. When J R isn’t writing, you can find her at the science museum with her son, cheering for her favorite soccer team, or at The Bean Coffee Co plotting her next work.

You can find J. R. on Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.

Dark Side of THE BRIGHT LANDS–A Review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a contemporary LGBTQ story for new-to-me author John Fram. THE BRIGHT LANDS pulls an out gay man back to his conservative east Texas hometown in search of his teen brother, the star quarterback of the high schoo who’s recently gone missing.

About the book:
The town of Bentley holds two things dear: its football, and its secrets. But when star quarterback Dylan Whitley goes missing, an unremitting fear grips this remote corner of Texas.

Joel Whitley was shamed out of conservative Bentley ten years ago, and while he’s finally made a life for himself as a gay man in New York, his younger brother’s disappearance soon brings him back to a place he thought he’d escaped for good. Meanwhile, Sheriff’s Deputy Starsha Clark stayed in Bentley; Joel’s return brings back painful memories—not to mention questions—about her own missing brother. And in the high school hallways, Dylan’s friends begin to suspect that their classmates know far more than they’re telling the police. Together, these unlikely allies will stir up secrets their town has long tried to ignore, drawing the attention of dangerous men who will stop at nothing to see that their crimes stay buried.

But no one is quite prepared to face the darkness that’s begun to haunt their nightmares, whispering about a place long thought to be nothing but an urban legend: an empty night, a flicker of light on the horizon—The Bright Lands.

My Review:
Okay, when I picked up this story, it DIDN’T sound like anything paranormal or supernatural was going to happen from the blurb. That is NOT the case, y’all.

Joel Whitley escaped Bentley, Texas right after high school and he’s hardly looked back–not for his mama or his younger half-brother, Dylan. They chat on the phone and stuff, but Joel hates that place, where he was pretty much attacked for being gay, and ohoto evidence of his “depravity” was circulated widely. But, a weird phone call from Dylan rouses Joel from his free-wheeling, occasionally substance-fueled life in Manhattan. And, it gets Joel on a plane to figure out what might be wrong.

In that space, Joel senses the darkness of the town and is frustrated by the lack of assistance when it turns out that Dylan is missing in action, a “fishing trip” to the coast being a ruse for way more dangerous activities. The team seems to have a pact set to confound and confuse any investigations, but the behavior of some of Dylan’s teammates is nothing short of bizarre–if not possessed. Joel’s old friend Starsha, who happens to be a Sheriff’s Deputy is interested in getting to the bottom of this mystery, and her professional duty is rivaled by personal interest–her own brother disappeared in much the same way as Dylan years before.

I will be honest and say this book was not my cuppa. There were a LOT of points-of-view and their points of intersection did not always overlap. That, and the supernatural element was slow to develop, so I couldn’t tell if the heebie-jeebies Joel was sensing were just his own misapprehension, or something “other”. I do not want to spoil wants happening in the story, but I will say that I felt the actual situation in the story seemed to vilify homosexual behavior. That giving in to those “base” urges led to feeding the malevolence that has been growing in influence and power for decades. I get that this is a thriller, but the resolution ended up being violent and unsatisfying for me–again because there was so much negativity that was tied into what was seen by the characters as deviant behavior. Dylan’s story does not end well, and Joel takes it badly–which I did understand. He was sad for his brother and felt guilty for not helping out more. And the whole thing ended sadly and negatively for my understanding.

For people who like horror, thrillers and supernatural reads, this might be the right story for you. Just, do not expect a happy ending.

Interested? You can find THE BRIGHT LANDS on Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo. I received a review copy of this book via NetGalley.

About the Author:
John Fram is a lapsed Texan and debut author of the supernatural thriller THE BRIGHT LANDS, due out in July 2020 from Hanover Square Press. Josh Malerman, author of Bird Box, describes it as “absolutely enthralling,” Christopher Golden calls it “compelling as hell,” and Edmund White (the one and only) calls it “Gothic, Faulkernian…and very, very sexy.” He’s just grateful a childhood spent playing video games and sweating in tall grass resulted in something worthwhile.

An accidental Manhattanite, he spends his free time practicing yoga, sweating on stationary bikes and gasping in movie theaters. He writes, meditates and reads every day, in that order. Follow his Instagram to see screenshots from old movies and excited posts about whatever book he’s currently loving. Follow my Twitter because apparently we still need one of those. And go to my website, where you can sign up for a monthly newsletter about old movies and exciting books, some of which he’s written.

Catch up to John on his website, Instagram, and Twitter.

Thanks for popping in, and keep reading my friends!