Unexpected Love: I WISHED FOR YOU audiobook review

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new audiobook I really enjoyed from Colette Davison. I WISHED FOR YOU is a M/M/M friends to lovers romance that definitely delivered.

About the book:
Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.
Matt wants to find ‘the one.’
Connor wants them.

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

How about a little taste?

“Wow,” Matt breathed as a shooting star shot across the now dark sky, trailing a tail of light behind it.
“That’s awesome,” Seb said. “Hey, aren’t you meant to wish on shooting stars or something?”
Matt stood, watching the sky intently. He’d finished his second can of beer and started on his third before he saw another shooting star.
“I wish I could find the one,” he yelled at the star.
Anything was worth a shot. Every girl he’d dated had held the promise of being the one, but every relationship had fizzled out within weeks or months. He was getting close to believing he’d permanently be shut in the friend zone by every woman he knew.
“My turn,” Seb said, leaping up to stand beside Matt. “Find me a star.”
“There might not be any more,” Connor pointed out.
A glance over his shoulder told Matt that Connor was still sitting, nursing a can of beer in his cupped hands. With their breath frosting on the air in front of them, Matt and Seb kept a fierce watch on the sky.
“There,” Matt said, pointing towards the far right as a star shot across the darkness.
“I wish to be happy again,” Seb yelled.
Matt turned to Connor. “It’s your turn.”
Connor shook his head.
“Why not?”
Connor met Matt’s curious stare. “I’ve already had one wish come true. I figure I’d be pushing my luck to make a second.”
Matt’s eyebrows shot up. “Oh? Do we get to know what this wish of yours was?”
Pink splashed across Connor’s nose and cheeks. He looked down, mumbling his answer. “I wished for friends. Someone I could count on. I met the two of you right after.”
Matt’s chest clenched. He tried to speak, but his voice stuck fast in his throat.
“Really?” Seb asked, staring intently at Connor as he sat in the middle chair.
Connor lifted his eyes again, staring at Seb and then at Matt. “Yeah.” He looked to the sky. “I mean… it was probably a coincidence, but I wished for you, and there you were.”
Tears stung Matt’s eyes. He ran his hand over them and down his face, sniffing loudly. “Well, fuck, Con…” He wasn’t even sure what it was he wanted to say. “I’m glad we met you, too,” he managed. “I’m glad we could help you when you needed us.”
“You still do,” Connor said softly. “Every day.”
“Okay, shut the fuck up now,” Matt said, trying not to cry. He flopped into the third chair. “I’m not nearly drunk enough to be getting this sentimental. More booze!”
Seb handed him a full can, and together, they sat and watched the occasional light show of falling stars as they drank into the night.

My Review:
Seb, Matt and Connor have been close friends from primary school. They are grown adults most unlucky in love. Matt can’t find a woman who won’t ‘friend-zone’ him. Connor is afraid to fall in love, sure he will develop early-onset dementia like his deceased mother. Seb thinks He’s found the one, until his boyfriend of five years breaks up with him and asks him to move out…on his birthday.

Matt and Connor help Seb with his despair, and agree to an impromptu camping trip the weekend after Seb moves out. Drunk and reckless, Seb confesses his undying love for both Matt and Connor—the truth more sincere than they anticipate, especially when Seb kisses Matt. Matt’s as surprised as anyone when he realizes he really likes Sb’s kiss. Connor has long fancied his dedicated friends, but he’s shy and inexperienced. Only when Matt presses Connor does he reveal his true feelings for both Seb and Matt. Matt can’t forget that kiss, or the feelings now awakening for him about his best mates.

I think the narrator does a great job of differentiating the characters’ voices, including Seb’s and Matt’s mums. Each man has a distinct sound, and the pace was reasonable. I loved the echoes of vulnerability forMattand Connor, because this is all new for both of them. There is so much good stuff happening between these guys, that I was caught by surprise when the climax came—expect bloodshed and scars, but a stronger love to emerge. There are plenty of sexy times, of the partner and ménage variety. It was steamy and fun, and I really enjoyed it.

Interested? You can find I WISHED FOR YOU on Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link to be entered to win a $10 Amazon GC.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

Catch up with Colette on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Instagram, or Bookbub.

Surviving His Change: PREDATORY —Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review and giveaway for a new paranormal M/M romance from a new-to-me author, Brooklyn Ray! PREDATORY is the third novella in the Port Lewis Witches series featuring a young shifter-witch coming into his own to help two of his circle mates, and his boyfriend, survive the wrath of Leviathan, Sea Queen. I have read the two previous titles in this series, but I won’t get to share those reviews until next week.

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the $10 GC giveaway.
about the book:Donovan Quinn is faced with the impossible: unleashing the wild energy inside him. In the aftermath of a rushed, thoughtless sacrifice, his circle mates brainstorm a plan to appease the Queen of Water. Meanwhile, Donovan desperately tries to find a way to access the lonely Earth magic hiding inside him.
​But with his heart reaching for Tyler, the aggressive and volatile head witch of his circle, and friendships being tested at every turn, Donovan is at a standstill with his magic. Saving his friends, his circle, and his heart becomes far more complicated than he ever thought.
How about a little taste?

If you would’ve asked Donovan Quinn where he might be this time last year, he would’ve had a perfectly executed answer. Something standard and palatable. He would’ve batted his lashes and shrugged, hinted at finishing his degree and landing a good job. That was what people wanted to hear—his mother, the clan leaders, his family and circle-mates. He would’ve lied, and they would’ve smiled, and he would’ve swallowed the truth.
Because Donovan didn’t care about a degree or a good job. He wasn’t worried about appearances or being a good witch. If you’d asked him, he would’ve said, “I’m sure I’ll be keeping busy.”
Donovan never expected to trade those lies for this truth: being in the passenger’s seat of Tyler’s Jeep on the night Liam committed murder.
The sound of the windshield wipers made the silence between them seem like a chasm. They’d dropped Christy off at home after a twenty-minute argument over rights and wrongs, secrets and consequences. Christy had burst into tears and told Tyler his cruelty didn’t count for strength, and when he’d refused to look at her or speak to her, she’d climbed out of the car and slammed the door for good measure.
Now they were parked somewhere in the middle of the woods. The headlights were turned off, rain pelted the roof, and Donovan wasn’t sure if this was the end of something—their circle, their magic, whatever festered between them. It’d been three months and they still didn’t have a name for it. Relationship didn’t fit. Friends with benefits was too watered down.
Whatever it was, it had been born out of Tyler’s anger. His possessiveness and desire. Three months ago, Donovan had taken Tyler to a club to unwind. We’ll find different people. Just have fun for a night. And Tyler had agreed. But as the night went on, liquor and stolen glances turned desire into something else. Donovan had met Tyler’s eyes as a handsome man covered in tattoos licked salt from his neck. Tyler had shoved himself between them and pulled Donovan onto the dancefloor.
Everything changed after that. Everything had kept changing since then.
“You have anything to say?” Tyler asked.
Donovan followed the straight line of Tyler’s nose to his thin, set mouth. He rested his elbow on the top of the door, hand splayed over his jaw. He was typically handsome—black hair kept neat and slicked back, ears pierced with plain silver hoops, skin never inked. His black turtleneck covered a barely there bruise left behind from Donovan’s mouth. Sometimes he glamoured hickeys. Other times he covered them with foundation, like he did the bruises he brought back from fights with his father.
It was difficult to separate who Tyler was from who his family expected him to be. Because Donovan had seen Tyler gentle and everyone else only knew him as a Li.
“They’re our friends,” Donovan said. He picked at the chipped nail polish on his thumb. “We can’t just exile them. We took an oath.”
“They’ve been using dark magic behind our backs, that’s enough to break the damn oath. Not to mention Liam murdered someone tonight and we’ve got demons knocking on our door.”
“Still,” Donovan said.
“Still?”
“We can’t leave them.” Donovan watched Tyler’s jaw flex. He almost brushed his fingers over Tyler’s thigh, but hesitated, unsure if touch could be casual between them or not. “I won’t leave them.”
“Aren’t leopards solitary?” Tyler’s sarcasm was a mean deflection, but it cut Donovan to the bone.
Liam had murdered someone and because of it, the Queen of Water had walked from the sea and put Donovan’s secret on display like it was nothing. Leopard. He’d rarely used the term, even in his own home, and now it fit in Tyler’s mouth like a curse.
“That isn’t fair,” Donovan whispered. He squirmed in place and pulled at the bottom of his shirt, picking at threads, giving his nerves a place to go. He glanced out of the window and watched rain streak through tree branches. The forest was alive around them. “Don’t take your elitist bullshit out on me, Tyler.”
“You didn’t tell me,” Tyler said softly, then louder. “You didn’t even tell me.”
“Does it matter?”
“Yes,” Tyler snapped.
The silence was no longer a chasm. It was too close, too personal, and it made Donovan’s lungs ache. His mouth tightened and he turned away, fighting the urge to shout or cry or argue or explain. He didn’t think Tyler cared for his explanations. He didn’t know if Tyler cared for anything at all.
“Take me home,” Donovan said.
Tyler glanced at him, rolled his eyes, and flicked on the headlights. They didn’t speak for the duration of the trip. Tyler’s gaze flicked toward him while they idled at a stoplight and Donovan hoped he’d say something. Anything. But he didn’t.
The duplex Donovan and his mother lived in was outside downtown, nestled between a gated community and a shopping plaza. There was a whole neighborhood of attached houses painted in different shades of mauve. Donovan’s house was the one with the darkest paint and a yellow door, the last one on the left. Tyler put the car in park and heaved a sigh. Donovan waited for an apology or a question, for something other than silence, but Tyler didn’t say a word.
Fuck him. He slammed the door harder than Christy had and walked inside without looking back. His mom worked the night shift at the hospital, but she’d left a box of macaroni and cheese on the counter. His familiar, a serval cat named Melody, sat on the back of the couch. She looked wild despite how domestic she truly was.
“Why do I always date dickheads?” Donovan asked. Not that he was dating Tyler. Not even close. But still. He narrowed his eyes at Melody and she yawned.
Dickhead was putting it lightly. Tyler was the head witch of their circle, seven years older than him. He had anger issues. He’d never uttered the words commitment or relationship. He was possessive and jealous and mean. He made Donovan feel irreplaceable on some nights, and like nothing on others.
Donovan hated how much he cared for him.

My Review:
This is the third book in a series of witchcraft in the Port Lewis area of Washington state. I think this book is best enjoyed if read in sequence.

Donovan is an earth witch joined in a circle with four others: the circle leader Tyler, an air witch with whom Donovan has regular D/s hook-ups, Liam, a water witch who has royally pissed off Leviathan, Christy, a psychic, and Ryder, a fire witch who also practices dark magic….

Their circle is all off balance due to the dark magic, and Leviathan is demanding some tribute, which could be Liam, if they can’t get a big, bad strong witch to protect him. Unfortunately, they all think it could be Donovan, who has hardly been able to tap the extent of his power. Donovan’s father was a leopard shifter, but Donovan didn’t learn the secret of that magic before his dad was killed.

Donovan is unwillingly solitary, because he and Tyler don’t have a solid relationship. Donovan is afraid to ask for what he needs, and Tyler doesn’t know he isn’t giving Donovan the support he needs. Meanwhile, Tyler struggles to hold his circle together while his abusive parents make trouble.

This is a really inventive witchcraft series, where all the characters are way ore than their magic, and have to struggle with power they never intended to wield. They do not always make “good” decisions, but they do rely on one another and develop strong bonds—both magical and emotional. Donovan wants to be claimed by Tyler, and once he finally asks, he reaps an amazing bounty of love. There are D/s elements here but they are not intense.

The first two books center on Ryder and Liam, with Donovan playing a supporting role—these stories set up the conflict between Tyler and Ryder and Liam and Leviathan, which is why I think they should be read first. There is a little bit of world-building up front, but it pales compared to the full story. Having read all three books, I’d definitely read on.

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

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Brooklyn Ray is a tea connoisseur and an occult junkie. She writes queer speculative fiction layered with magic, rituals and found families.

Catch up to Brooklyn on twitter or Tumblr.

Persevering as THE DRAGON’S REBEL–Review and Giveaway!


Hi there! I’m baaaack! Ugh, my summer has started WAY TOO LATE, y’all, and my personal computer decided to kill itself as soon as I found time to use it…so. Anywhoo! Today, I’m sharing a review for a new M/M shifter fantasy from Jacqueline Rohrbach. THE DRAGON’S REBEL features a devout warrior-turned-king seeking the release of his goddess and finding the love of his life in the process.

Scroll down for your chance to win a $10 GC, catch the excerpt and pick up a copy for yourself.
About the book:
Cheron, former rebel leader and newly crowned king, comes to Wren Gardens on a holy mission to free his goddess from exile and bring peace to his kingdom, but he’s distracted by an unholy and very beautiful concubine, Ekos.
Ekos may be more than a simple love slave, though. The King of Wren Gardens seems afraid of the strange and often blasphemous concubine and swears the man is cursed. Cheron agrees, especially when Ekos mocks and taunts Cheron’s sense of honor. But the urge to distance himself from Ekos can’t compete with the desire to remain close. Nor is it as strong as the urges in his body—urges he hasn’t felt in years.
As Cheron tries to refocus on his mission, Ekos throws him off again—this time by offering to help him in his holy quest. Cheron knows he shouldn’t trust a man who’s in the employ of a rival king, particularly not one who seems to know all Cheron’s deepest secrets. But he can’t ignore the signs from the goddess telling him to entwine his fate with this tricky, captivating man.
He prays the signs aren’t simply wishful thinking, manifestations of his very unholy desires. Time is running out, and Cheron is falling deeper for Ekos—and deeper into danger of another betrayal. One that could cost him his life.

How about a little taste?

Chapter One
Half parted in invitation, the concubine’s painted red lips teased the possibilities for Cheron’s sole benefit, for his sole pleasure, for his sole use. At least that was the intended impression, but who knew the actual number of men the concubine had truly pleasured? Many, Cheron assumed. Undeniably gorgeous, the pampered little house pet had all the markings of a palace favorite. Jewels hung from his earlobes, fine silks concealed his thin but muscular frame, and his body had been rubbed down with musky oils. Minus the golden, diamond-studded collar at his throat, he appeared to be a member of court.
“Is Ekos not to your taste, Majesty? He is personal stock, in case you are worried. No low-born has touched him.”
The emphasis had Cheron grinding his teeth. While Sinnac politely used the proper title while addressing him, there was always a lilt to his pronunciation, a gentle reminder that Cheron had only recently became a king. Before, he’d been a lowly soldier—a servant. To men like Sinnac, men who’d been born into power, he would never be anything other than a lucky usurper playacting at greatness.
Sinnac continued, “Perhaps His Majesty would like to see him from a different angle?”
King Sinnac tilted the concubine’s face upward to give Cheron a better look. Ekos lowered his crystal-blue eyes demurely, as was proper, but Cheron swore he saw a flash of mocking defiance in the depths before his lashes lowered. In a second, the brazen glare vanished. Ekos bowed his head, allowing his golden-yellow hair to fall over his shoulders. The posture gave Cheron a clear view of the concubine’s long back and the enticing dip of his ass.
Suppressing his disgust, Cheron kept his response to King Sinnac formal. “He is most pleasing. I am recently sated and do not require sexual services just now, Your Excellence. Perhaps later.”
“I heard you Northern men needed no pause between sessions. That you were an insatiable lot.” Sinnac, a severe man who resembled a long tendril of smoke with his long white body, steel-gray hair, and gray eyes, raised his bushy eyebrows and took a drag from his hookah. Foul-smelling mist coiled around his head, momentarily canceling out the masculine, sweet smell of the concubine’s body oils.
Cheron gave the characterization a breathy laugh. “I’m afraid all men must submit to biology.”
“Of course. Of course.”
Truthfully, Cheron’s carnal needs hadn’t been satisfied recently or even in the past year. His aversion to touching Ekos had nothing to do with lack of desire. Perhaps the young concubine served freely now, but at some point in his life, he’d been brought here in chains and trained in the arts of pleasure. The very thought made Cheron’s skin crawl. Not too long ago, he’d been enslaved under the reign of a cruel king who raped and tortured to stay in power. He had no intentions of following the same path.
After he took control of Broken Maw, servants continued to exist, but they were compensated for their work. No one was compelled to offer sexual services. Those who sold themselves demanded money, certainly, but also equal pleasure. Ekos’s circumstances were much different.
Sinnac, as if stressing those differences, commanded the concubine to attend to Cheron’s needs. “Show our guest your skills, my pet. Seduce him.”
The concubine pouted. In a spoiled voice, he said, “My treasure, I do not believe he wants me.”
A hard glint in his eye, Sinnac returned, “Nonsense. Help him settle in to Wren Gardens. I’ll not have my guests frustrated. And if the rumors I hear are true, he is quite congested with lust.”
Gossip between courts wasn’t uncommon. Certainly, Cheron heard his fair share of stories from Sinnac’s lands, especially tales of the financial troubles of Wren Gardens. It didn’t upset Cheron to learn he was the subject of discussion among Sinnac’s people, but his temperature rose at being so directly contradicted by another monarch.
“What do you know of my frustration, Excellency?”
His laughter croaked as he took another puff from the hookah. “I hear you haven’t had any pleasure since Aethel. His betrayal must still sting, yes?”
Honesty roughened his voice to an almost inaudible, harsh whisper. “Betrayal burns more than it stings, Excellency. Afterward, the smoke blinds us.”
Sinnac raised an eyebrow. “Dramatic. Betrayal also chokes us, apparently, though I heard your lover made good kindling for fire.”
Cheron swallowed down the memory before it overwhelmed him. Sometimes, in the dead of night, he still woke to the sound of his lover’s screams as he twisted on the pyre and the king’s executioner’s grim pronouncement that justice had been done. Now that Cheron had overthrown the king in a successful rebellion, there would be no such burnings. Never again.
Cheron kept his voice level. “His crime was nowhere near as severe as the punishment.”
“Hm,” Sinnac responded. Supposedly, the price for his displeasure ran higher. This marked Cheron’s first time visiting Wren Gardens, but his father told tales of a ruler obsessed with revenge to the point of madness. If the stories were true, Sinnac’s gardens grew on human blood.
Cheron tried to smile. “At any rate, that is in the past.”
“Well, then. My pet can make you forget the traitor existed. Perhaps he can make you forget your own treason.”
It would be unwise to answer the bait, so Cheron kept quiet on the matter. “I have no doubt of Ekos’s skills, but they are wasted on me at the present.”
“We’ll see.” Sinnac waved his graceful fingers, an order for Ekos to proceed.
The concubine’s crystal-blue eyes lowered again. Looking into their depths was akin to jumping into ice-cold water. One could drown, but he’d feel the sting of cold as he sank. Just the same, Cheron barely kept from gasping out loud as Ekos’s long fingers stroked the outer folds of the long robe he wore. Beneath the clothes, his body was taut, ready for a lover’s touch.
“Majesty,” Ekos simpered, his full, round mouth set in a pout. “I can’t please you through so many layers of clothing.”
In Wren Gardens, sex servants weren’t allowed to remove the clothing of nobility. Such a task was reserved for only the most trusted of servants, those who’d been with households for generations. Poisons that seeped through the skin were common here; the precaution made sense.
Ekos’s own dress confused Cheron. Station required servants to wear only thin scraps of fabric that advertised their wares and marked them as slaves. The concubine was swathed nearly head to toe in a loose-fitting, semitransparent silken frock that was embroidered along the hem by a skilled hand. Somehow, this enticed Cheron’s interests far better than any scant loincloth.
As if sensing his increasing desires, the concubine formed his full mouth into an aware smirk. The arrogance took Cheron aback and made him worry for the concubine’s safety. The man’s voice was strong and confident when he said, “Perhaps His Majesty would like to undress me first?”
Sinnac guffawed at Cheron’s horrified expression. “Forgive Ekos, my royal brother. He is overeager to prove his affections.”
Once again, Cheron ignored the overt slight. For now, Cheron had to be content another monarch had even stooped to meet with him. Smiling, he said, “He hasn’t been tested already?”
Sinnac’s countenance darkened. Without thinking, Cheron had insulted the other man’s virility, which he touted with great pride. In the short time Cheron had been a guest at Wren Gardens, Sinnac boasted as many as fifty lovers, all of whom couldn’t get enough of their lord and master.
“My apologies, Excellency.” Cheron spread his hands in contrition. “I understand your prowess is legendary.”
Sniffing, Sinnac got to his knees and began undoing the knot keeping his robe together. Seconds later, he was nearly naked except for his white linen undergarments. Covered in a network of impressive scars, his body flaunted a lifetime of war. “Turn around,” he commanded Ekos.
Immediately, Ekos obeyed. Cheron swore he saw a flash of disgust in the man’s crystal-blue eyes. Soon enough, the meaningless and practiced smile fell back into place. The young man dipped forward, raising his hips. “Enter if you dare,” he mocked.
Sinnac growled at the challenge.
Stomach lurching, Cheron realized the other monarch’s intent. Baring witness to rape immediately quashed his previous desires. He knew it was a typical practice in Wren Gardens, but Cheron failed to control a wave of pity. This was no way to treat another human being.
“Excellency,” Cheron said, interrupting the looming sexual encounter. “I have been an ungracious guest. I would love to indulge in Ekos’s sweet attentions privately. But how can I enjoy him if you put me to shame? Will he even consider me adequate after you?”
“I’m sure I would, Majesty,” Ekos softly assured him. “A man as magnificent as you must be bliss to touch.”
Sinnac ran his hands up and down the length of the concubine’s body, slapping and prodding as he went, but eventually sat back against the cushions without penetrating, much to Cheron’s relief.
His gaze hooded, almost fully concealed, Sinnac said, “Please retire to your quarters, Majesty. We’ll attend to matters of state after dinner. I will have Ekos sent to your rooms. Treat him gently. I paid a high price for him.”
As equals, they stood and formally bowed. The concubine, head still bent toward the ground, his expression concealed by a long flow of honey hair, remained prostrated. His fists clenched and unclenched. When he lifted his head, he smiled serenely and said, “You have yet to pay the full price for me, Excellency.”

My Review:
Cheron is the new ruler of the Northern Lands, and he’s visiting Sinnac, king over Wren Gardens, in order to find Hell’s Echo, a talisman Sinnac has hidden in his gruesome dungeons. Hell’s Echo is necessary for Cheron to free his goddess, Kalin. He keeps a relic around his neck that heats or vibrates when Kalin is communicating with Cheron from her celestial prison. He encounters the beautiful Ekos early in his visit to Wren Gardens, when Sinnac offers Cheron Ekos’s body for pleasure–because Ekos is a concubine. While Cheron is attracted to Ekos, he abhors slavery of any type, as true followers of Kalin would. Cheron is struck by the brutality of Sinnac’s court, but he’s not savvy enough to understand when he’s being hoodwinked into trouble.

Ekos, on the other hand, is a match for Sinnac’s guile–and Ekos knows that the path for his own freedom will come through assisting Cheron on his quest. Ekos doesn’t honor Kalin, not since his kin were all captured by Sinnac and turned into living garden plots for eternity. Sinnac hopes that Cheron will be able to claim the Hell’s Echo, so Sinnac can steal it and use it to release his own blood-thirsty god, Atyx.

The world building here was a little spartan, at first, and I would have liked a bit more of that upfront so I understood where I was, and what the goals were in the beginning. Cheron is a bit of a bungler, but his heart is true and his mission is foremost in his mind. He strikes bargains with Ekos to forward both of their aims, and that leads from mutual dependence into love. I admit I was a little lost about how a king, such as Cheron, would enter a foreign monarch’s palace under the guise of striking a trade bargain yet without any attendants, or advisors? This seemed shoddy planning, especially as Cheron’s true plan is to hunt out Hell’s Echo and escape with it. Surely he has generals or someone who might have his back?

Unfortunately, he didn’t, which leads to his imprisonment and a series of battles to save himself, or Ekos, or to regain Hell’s Echo…because, as I mentioned, Cheron is a bungler and he manages to lose it more than once.

Still, the pace is brisk and in the second half we fly along from battle to battle with a bit of romance developing between Ekos and Cheron. Ekos has a secret–about himself and his role in Kalin’s imprisonment–but Cheron’s never willing to give up on either Ekos or Kalin, no matter how dire the situation. I loved his steadfastness, as did Ekos. The climax is rapid-fire, with murderous gods and near-death experiences. Cheron never quit his quest, even when it would have been comfortable to do so–and that lead to his ultimate reward, with Ekos by his side, perhaps for eternity.

There’s a little bit of sexytimes, and a lot of magic, of good and bad types. The followers of Atyx–Sinnac and his host of priests and disciples–are disastrously rotten, and they are mutilated accordingly, so if you abhor the gore, this one is likely not going to satisfy. For fans of magical, mythical heroes and the power of good triumphing evil, well, you’ll have a long slog until you get your cockles warmed. But, the end is joyous, and features a fun reward for Cheron.

Interested? You can find THE DRAGON’S REBEL on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
Jacqueline Rohrbach is a 36-year-old creative writer living in windy central Washington. When she isn’t writing strange books about bloodsucking magical werewolves, she’s baking sweets, or walking her two dogs, Nibbler and Mulder. She also loves cheesy ghost shows, especially when the hosts call out the ghost out like he wants to brawl with it in a bar. You know, “Come out here, you coward! You like to haunt little kids. Haunt me!” Jackee laughs at this EVERY time.

She’s also a hopeless World of Warcraft addict. In her heyday, she was a top parsing disc priest. She became a paladin to fight Deathwing, she went back to a priest to cuddle pandas, and then she went to a shaman because I guess she thought it would be fun to spend an entire expansion underpowered and frustrated. Boomchicken for Legion!

Catch up with Jackee on her website and twitter.

Happy Book Birthday to RAPID RESPONSE–Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing an excerpt and giveaway for a new contemporary M/M romance from DJ Jamison. RAPID RESPONSE is the eighth book in the Hearts and Health series, but fully enjoyable as a standalone. Other books I’ve enjoyed by this author include LOVE BY NUMBER and FULL DISCLOSURE, so I’m looking forward to reading this one!

Scroll down for the excerpt and to enter the $10 Amzzon GC giveaway!
About the book:
A confused straight guy and a gay hookup artist walk into a bar…
Firefighter Sean Connolly is straight — until one impulsive night changes everything. He tries to dismiss it as a fluke, but when a fire rescue leads him back to the guy who blew his mind, he’s thrown into a chaos of confusion and want. He gives in to curiosity, exploring a new side to himself — not just his attraction to a man, but his desperate need to please.

Paramedic Jace Gillespie is a hookup pro, never letting anyone get too close. When he meets Sean, though, he feels a connection right away. An ill-advised threesome seems to kill a friendship in the making, but when they’re thrown together by work, it doesn’t take long for passion to reignite. Sean calls to something in Jace he never knew was there, and together, they explore a dynamic that fulfills them both.

But as feelings deepen, doubts surface. Sean is in the closet, and Jace struggles to trust his promise that it won’t last forever. With family conflict and his career in the balance, Sean finds it difficult to picture his life without secrecy, but if he doesn’t find a way, he may lose the one person he most wants to please.

Rapid Response is the longest novel of the Hearts and Health series at approximately 92,000 words! It can be read as a standalone.

How about a little taste?

Sean glanced into the mirror, and though he looked like the same guy on the outside — dark hair, dark eyes, unremarkable face — he didn’t recognize the one on the inside. And that was scary.

“I’m sorry,” he scraped out.

“For what? Staring at my mouth, or for hiding from yourself?” Jace asked caustically.

Sean swallowed hard. His traitorous eyes found Jace in the mirror, locking on the mouth in question. Pink, full lips. Jace had been a good kisser. A good … sucker.

“Yeah, just like that,” Jace said.

Sean jerked his gaze to Jace’s eyes, which bored into him, their power not diluted in the slightest by the mirror acting as their go-between. Could Jace see what was inside? If he could…

“Sorry,” Sean whispered. “I didn’t realize I…”

“What, Sean? What didn’t you realize?”

“That I, um. That I…” He couldn’t get the words out.

“That you like my mouth? That you want it on you again? That you—”

Sean spun around. “Shut up.”

“Make me.”

His breath caught. “What?”

“You heard me,” Jace said. “Make me shut up. You know exactly how to do it.”

Sean hesitated, and Jace smirked. “Yeah, I didn’t think so.”

Frustrated and frazzled, Sean acted on instinct, doing exactly what Jace had asked. He grabbed the front of Jace’s shirt, spun him around, and shoved him against the counter containing the row of sinks.

Then he kissed him.

Hard.

To make him shut up.

It was the only way to get him to stop talking. Gloating. Jace had practically ordered him to do it, the bastard. And Sean needed to shut up the doubts in his head, too.

He closed his eyes, blocking out all thought, and sank into the feeling of Jace’s perfect, hot mouth on his again.

My Review:
Firefighter Sean Gillespie thinks he’s supporting his newly out bisexual brother when he attends a drag night at a gay club. Only, his brother doesn’t show up. Still interested in the show, he’s cajoled into hanging out with Jace and his female bestie. They share beers and chat, Sean admitting to his confusing attraction to the performers. Jace thinks Sean is hot, but gets that he’s not gay, still, he lets his gal pal talk Sean into more drinks at Jace’s apartment. And once there she puts the moves on Sean–convincing him to let Jace pleasure him. It seems to go great, but Sean panics in the end, leaving Jace frustrated.

A couple months rolls by and Jace and Sean reconnect at the scene of an apartment fire. Sean carries a missing girl to safety, but is injured at the scene. Jace is the paramedic who treats him. The girl’s mother is overjoyed by the rescue, and her letter to the paper sparks a PR outreach that catalogues Jace and Sean on outings with the girl and her mother. The more time Jace and Sean spend together the more the attraction grows between them. Jace is just a little bit dominant and that stokes an unknown service kink for Sean.

Sean is struggling with his sexual identity–because he has homophobic crew mates in the firehouse, and his eldest brother has seemingly disowned their middle brother for coming out as bisexual. Still, he’s falling hard for Jace, and takes to spending more and more time with Jace, if only to escape the trouble he’s facing after he takes his eldest brother in off the street–his wife kicked him out for being an insufferable pig and a drunk.

Jace hasn’t had any relationships in a long time, and what’s happening with Sean is feeling like it could be a relationship, if only Sean would come out. Because he won’t well, they fight. And it’s a short bit of heartbreak. I liked the cast of characters here. Both Sean and Jace are decent guys, and they fall hard for one another. Jace knows how much crap Sean will get for coming out publicly, as he’s experienced it firsthand. He won’t push Sean to action, but he also can’t live a shadow-life of happy times behind his apartment door. It felt really realistic, and understandable. The climax, however has some definite heartbreak. Sean figures out what he needs to do, but the timing is complicated. And there’s some family drama and tragedy that he needs to work out. The grand gesture at the end is sweet, and leaves the door open for the next romance in the series. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for that one.

Interested? You can find RAPID RESPONSE on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

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

About the Author:
DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.

Catch up with DJ on her website, Facebook, twitter, and Goodreads.

OUT IN THE OFFENSE–Now Available in Audiobook! Review and Giveaway

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a review for a new audiobook of a New Adult M/M romance from Lane Hayes. Y’all know I totally loved OUT IN THE DEEP END and OUT IN THE OFFENSE, but the audiobook was spectacular!

Scroll down for an excerpt and to enter the giveaway.
About the book:
Christian Rafferty is a talented quarterback with a big secret. He’s determined to make the most of his final season on the football field, and if possible, avoid any confrontations with his conservative parents about his future. It shouldn’t be difficult; he’s become adept at keeping his public and private lives separate. However, when a math class threatens to derail his plans to graduate on time, he realizes he may need outside help.

Rory Kirkland has a reputation for being a tough guy. He’s a former wrestler and recent college graduate who needs a real job. Until he finds one, tutoring is a decent temporary gig. Luckily, his brain is his biggest asset. Rory is a genius. He credits his sport for helping him deal with angst and rumors about his sexuality when he was younger, but he doesn’t care what others think anymore. He likes his new status as an out and proud bi man; and he recognizes something of himself in Christian. But Rory didn’t count on falling for him. When an unlikely friendship collides with intense attraction, both men begin to realize that coming out on offense just might be the surest path to love.

How about a yummy taste?

“Can I do anything to help?” I asked, setting my backpack on one of the two barstools at the narrow counter space.
“Nope. As soon as the veggies are sautéed, we’ll be ready to eat. Want something to drink?”
“Yes, please. Water is fine. Where’s Buttons?”
Rory pulled a water bottle from the small fridge behind him and handed it over, then pointed at a basket next to the sofa.
“She’s hiding behind that basket. She’ll make an appearance if she decides you’re worthy. In the meantime, there’s bread in that basket on the counter next to your bag. Help yourself. I’ll bring dinner out.”
I thanked him, then twisted the cap from the water bottle and took a generous sip before rounding the corner in search of the bread. I was ravenous. I bit into the baguette with gusto before turning to check out my surroundings.
Rory’s apartment was tiny. Probably half the size of mine and much older. But unlike the rough exterior, it was…pleasant. Surprisingly so. A short wall delineated the narrow kitchen from the main living area. There was just enough room for a sofa, an ottoman, a TV console, and a smallish television. Two barstools were tucked under the small peninsula by the cut-out in the kitchen wall. The palette was basic “dude”…dark leather against stark white walls, though a large red throw rug anchored the room and provided a nice splash of color. It was simple—but tidy and very clean.
“Your place is cool,” I commented when he entered the room, carrying two plates and a large bowl.
“Thanks. Let’s sit on the sofa. We have more room to eat there,” he said decisively as he set his burden on the coffee table. “Help yourself. I’ll get some forks, napkins, and extra veggies.”
I obeyed and quickly got to work, scooping chicken fettucine Alfredo onto both plates. Rory joined me a minute later, handing over the silverware before taking a seat next to me. I shot a bashful sideways glance at him as I reached for a napkin.
“Do you eat like this every night?”
“It’s really nothing special. I make sauces in bulk and freeze them. Then it’s just a matter of adding protein and veggies. By the way, this Alfredo is a healthy version. If you want to drown it in parmesan, feel free. I won’t be offended. Cheers.” He tapped his water bottle against mine and winked.
“Cheers. And thanks again. This is incredible and very unexpected.” I smiled as I twisted the pasta around my fork.
“You’re welcome. You sounded anxious, but you said we’re cool. Are we?”
“Of course.”
Rory tilted his head and shot me a challenging look. “Then kiss me.”
“Um…now?”
“Yeah, now. The other night could have been a fluke. Instead of wondering, let’s get it over with. One kiss should be enough to tell. C’mere,” he commanded, leaning sideways.
I set my fork down and met him halfway until our noses brushed. Then I waited for him to make the next move. He stayed stubbornly still. When I couldn’t stand the growing tension, I pressed my lips to his. And wow…amazing.
Rory was a great kisser. He had the simple art of give-and-take down to a science. He molded his mouth to mine and gently pushed his tongue inside. The connection was sweet but bold. It was more about discovery than possession. I hummed as I snaked my arm around his neck, pulling him closer. He sucked my tongue, then bit my bottom lip playfully before pulling back.
“Definitely not a fluke,” he said with a devilish grin.

My Review:
I just reviewed the actual book last week, so I’m going to sum it up and discuss why I liked the audiobook.

Christian Rafferty is a college football player in need of a tutor for statistics. His coach recommends Rory, a math whiz and recent college grad who fills his time doing odd tutoring and personal training. Rory is an out and proud bisexual after his closeted status lost him the love of a good man. e gets a vibe off Christian that he’s not too shy to pursue. Christian won’t resist Rory–that former wrestler is too sexy–but he’s not sure if he should come out. His teammate Evan did the season before, and Christian’s conservative parents weren’t best pleased.

Michael Pauley does the audio and he really made me feel like I was in the mix. Whoo boys! His gritty voice really suited both Rory and Christian’s masculine characters. I was not disappointed with all the yummy sexytimes in stereo. The audiobook runs about 5.5 hours, and I felt the pacing was spot on, with great accent in all the right places. Hearing Christian’s uncertainty and frustration with his meddling father was just as easy as hearing his vulnerability meeting and falling for Rory. Rory felt a little flat in the book, but he really came to life in the audio, which I liked. He seems like a better guy than the impression we had in the previous story. He’s grown up and found himself, and that was fun to experience.

If you like audiobooks, I’d recommend any of the ones in this series. They aren’t too long, and they have some great characters finding sexy lovers to satisfy them.

Interested? You can find OUT IN THE OFFENSE on Goodreads and Amazon and Audible.

You can also pick up the first two books in this series, too!
OUT IN THE DEEP is available on Goodreads, Amazon ebook, and Audible (audiobook).

OUT IN THE END ZONE is available on Goodreads, Amazon and Audible.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won First Prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

You can reach out to Lane on her website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Amazon.

About the Narrator:
Michael has well over 50 audio book titles currently available for purchase on Audible.com. He is versed in multiple styles and genres including fiction (novels and short stories) ranging from romance to science fiction to crime dramas to thrillers; business strategy books; health and wellness books; and even an occasional children’s book.
Fans of Michael’s narration are welcome to follow him on social media including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, and SoundCloud.

If you are interested in working with Michael to produce your next audio book, you can contact him directly at voice@michaelpauley.info

Catch up with Michael on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and SoundCloud.

Out Today: FINDING MERCY Review and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m sharing a release day review for a new contemporary police romance from Riley Edwards. FINDING MERCY is the third book in her Next Generation series, and features two longtime colleagues finding love at the right time.

About the book:
DEA agent Jason Walker became a widower at twenty-eight. Two years later he’s still torturing himself with guilt. They’d married young, and she’d been his first love, but her illness changed everything. They’d fought a losing battle and he’d held her to the very end. Now he just wants to be left alone with his misery and memories.

Mercy James is no stranger to grief and loneliness. Her brother’s death of a drug overdose, and her police officer father’s death in the line of duty were the driving forces behind her pursuit of a career in the DEA. In spite of—or maybe because of—her past, Mercy doesn’t believe in feeling sorry for others, or for herself.

When a case brings Jason and Mercy together, and their attraction heats up, can her tough, straightforwardness help Jason learn to live in the light again? He’d lost his first love, but is he ready for a forever love?

My Review:
Mercy James and Jason Walker are DEA agents who’ve known each other for several years. Mercy was aware that Jason’s wife died of cancer a couple of years ago. She’s seen how he’s closed himself off, but they get along okay, and that works when they are assigned to the same case: strange, toxic drugs working their way through the local high schools.

Jason’s felt guilty about his failed marriage long before his wife–his childhood sweetheart who grew apart–died. Jason had married straight out of college, and his young bride got cancer within the first few years of marriage. Though they were great friends, the romance died following her cancer’s remission, and that drove a deeper wedge between them. They’d been planning to separate when her cancer returned. Jason grieves his best friend, and feels like he can’t move on or he’ll taint her memory.

That’s why he’s confused about his unexpected attraction to Mercy. They’ve had a great working relationship…but now everything feels charged. Mercy, who has no living relations, had to deal with heaps of grief throughout her life, and lives her life with no regrets now. She notices how Jason looks at her, and she pushes him to get back to living his life.

The case is heating up as well, with some inside tips from Jason’s younger sister–a teacher at a nearby high school. Kids are taking the tainted drugs and turning up dead, so she’s eager to help out.

This is a well-paced police-romance with good balance between the case work and the romance. At first, Mercy and Jason agree to a no-strings arrangement, and it’s incendiary. Neither of them have had a regular partner in years, and they both agree it’s not just the novelty. For Jason, this is the first truly adult sexual relationship he’s had–he and his wife were platonic since he turned 23, and he’s now thirty. Meanwhile, the more they interact, the more they fit. They have movie nights, and text chats and Jason’s family wants to meet the girl who has him captivated.

While Jason comes to terms with his guilt he hurts Mercy pretty bad, but it also drives a wedge back between himself and his family. THat leasd to the big climax where Mercy has to save the day. There’s some catastrophic issues and injuries that propel us int the next book in this series. I loved how that was a good side plot, and the main plot was totally focused on Mercy and Jason. I could feel Jason’s grief and empathize. Mercy is a rock, and a realistic character. Both of these characters have real issues, and experience real emotions. I liked this book, and it’s drawn me in to the series. I’ll be looking for the next book for sure.

Interested? You can find FINDING MERCY on Goodreads and Amazon.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card.
Good luck and keep reading my friends!

About the Author:
Riley Edwards is a bestselling multi-genre author, wife, and military mom. Riley was born and raised in Los Angeles but now resides on the east coast with her fantastic husband and children.

Riley writes heart-stopping romance with sexy alpha heroes and even stronger heroines. Riley’s favorite genres to write are romantic suspense and military romance.

Catch up with Riley on Facebook, twitter, BookBub, Amazon and Goodreads.

Now Available: THE COST OF LIVING–Book Blast and Giveaway!

Hi there! Today I’m getting the word out on a New Adult paranormal thriller from Emilie Lucadamo. THE COST OF LIVING is the second book in her In The Darkness series and features a young un-dead college student trying to save his loved ones from the evil that killed him.

Catch an excerpt below, and be sure to scroll down and enter the giveaway!
About the book:
Once people die, they’re not meant to wake up.
For college student Beck Murray, this doesn’t quite sink in until he’s sitting in a stranger’s apartment, reading his own obituary. He has no memory of how he died or how he happened to wake up—all Beck knows is that he’s been dead for six months, and now, incredibly, is not.

He assumes his biggest challenge will be explaining himself to his family and friends. This proves not to be the case as, one by one, Beck and his friends become the target of something evil. A darkness hangs over Beck, following every footstep he takes in his new life. He cannot fight it because he does not understand it. Soon, it becomes clear that Beck isn’t the only person who’s returned to life, and far from the only person in danger.

With the help of a young witch and a mysterious bookshop owner, Beck must learn to overcome the evil plaguing him before it drags him back down to the grave… and takes everyone he cares about with him.

How about a yummy taste?

After his fourth failed attempt to pull himself to his feet, Beck gives up and collapses against the pavement once more.

It’s no use. He could have the willpower of Hercules, yet he wouldn’t be able to haul himself off of the ground. His body is too strung out; his limbs are exhausted. He feels drained from head to toe. Whatever happened to lead him here, it sure did a number on him.

Here—where is here? Beck has no clue. Naked, in the middle of an unfamiliar street, with a dizzying headache and no memory of where he is or how he came to be there. That’s where he is right now.

It’s far from the best situation to be in. Not to mention the fact that the world’s biggest storm cloud seems to be focusing all its wrath on him alone. Rain lashes his skin, chilling him, and the thunder booming overhead rattles in his bones. He tries to move once more, and a fiery pulse of pain shoots through his entire body.

Beck has had better nights.

He’s wound up in some pretty undignified places over years spent growing up with his best friends, but this has to take the cake. This is a lot worse than the time his best friend James dared him to sleep on the roof in his underwear. This is even worse than the time he and his brother, Dylan got locked out of the house during a snowstorm and had to spend the night huddling for warmth on the porch. At least in those situations, he knew where he was. He had some choice in the matter, (even if it was between Dylan’s bony elbow in his side or freezing to death). This—this is a whole new level of weird.

He tries to lift his head, and a pulse of pain sends it right back down again. Thunder crashes overhead, followed by a flash of lightning. Beck swallows past his parched throat, realizing for the first time what a dangerous situation he could be in.

“Oh man,” he rasps, realizing too late that these are the first words he’s said since waking up. This absurdity is not helped by the fact that he’s scrambling around on his back like a lethargic bug. It seems like a miracle he’s able to speak at all. “Mmm…c’mon, c’mon…”

It’s no use. He can’t pull himself to his feet. Defeated, Beck collapses back onto the pavement again and closes his eyes. He’s so tired… Maybe a few moments’ sleep will give him the energy he needs.

He’s just about to drift away, when a sudden interruption startles him from his haze.

“You look like you could use some help.”

The voice is deep, clear as a bell over the roaring storm around them. Beck jumps, eyes springing open. It would take more self-control than he possesses not to gape up at the shadowy figure towering above him, silhouetted against the distant glow of a streetlight.

He blinks up at the stranger in a daze, trying to make out any features past the rain and his blurry vision. The man looming above him is slender, not too tall and not too muscular. The fact that he seems unfazed at finding a naked guy in the middle of the street probably says the most about him. Being the naked guy in question, Beck’s not about to judge.

Beck weighs his options. Common sense tells him not to trust shadowy figures in dark alleyways. Common sense also tells him not to pass out in the middle of the street naked, and not to wake up in the middle of a street with gravel digging into his back. Common sense is failing him today.

He isn’t about to get up without assistance, anyway, so yeah, he probably could use some help. “Wow, you figured that out?” he croaks, and tries for a laugh. It comes out as a wheeze. Beck is left choking when he attempts to take in a breath. He collapses again onto the street, landing hard on his side. His chest convulses with each ragged cough. By the time he is able to breathe again, he’s quaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm. Hell, that’s just about what he is.

“Easy…” The figure is kneeling by his side now and has a hand on his back. He’s warm; subconsciously, Beck leans into the touch. The smooth hand runs along the curve of his spine, leaving a trail of tingling heat in its wake. The pressure in Beck’s lungs slowly ebbs away, like water receding after high tide.

“Feels like you’ve got a pretty bad fever,” the man says, his strange, precise accent twisting the words until they sound more like a melody. “This rain can’t be helping. Wanna get out of it?”

“Yeah…” Beck nods hazily. “That’d be real great.”

Hands grip his biceps, helping him to his feet. Beck’s legs feel like noodles. He stands up, wavers, and would have fallen back down were it not for the grounding presence keeping him upright. He tries to straighten up, and his stomach does a perilous somersault. Hot bile rushes up his throat, and he only has time to double to the side before he’s heaving up acid.

By the time he straightens up again, he’s trembling from the exertion. He feels dizzy enough that he’s afraid to close his eyes, doubting his capability to open them again. When he tries to turn to his good Samaritan, he finds himself confronted with a sharp-featured face, dark eyes studying him and brows creased in concern.

“Sorry,” Beck tries to say. It comes out garbled. Fortunately, the guy doesn’t seem to care.

“Come on,” he urges, hooking an arm around Beck’s waist. “Let’s get you someplace warm and dry.”

Needless to say, Beck’s in no state to argue. Besides, he isn’t sure he wants to. The guy’s being nicer than he has any obligation to be, and it’s probably the fever talking, but his touch is the most soothing thing Beck can remember in a long time.

They don’t walk far. The stranger leads a stumbling Beck down the street, and they pass only a few shops before coming upon one with its windows piled high with books. A sign above the door reads Lehexe’s Books in spindly hand-painted lettering. The shop is dark enough that Beck can’t make out much through the window, but Beck’s new friend—Lehexe, presumably—doesn’t hesitate to open the door. He hustles them both inside and shuts out the storm behind them. No sooner are they standing in the middle of the shop floor than Beck finds rain pooling at his feet, soaking into the wooden floor. He sways in an effort to keep from dripping, and nearly overbalances again.

Lehexe—busy fumbling with a set of keys near a door behind the counter—casts a look over his shoulder and huffs. “Try to keep upright for two seconds. You can do that.”

Beck definitely can. He’s not an infant. (If he maybe has to grab hold of the counter to keep his balance, well, he thinks the other man is too preoccupied to notice.)

The right key finally slips into the lock, and Lehexe opens a door to a darkened hallway. He turns to look at Beck, raising an eyebrow as he gestures to him. Beck lets go of the counter, takes a step forward, and gets blindsided by a head rush that sends him falling on his face.

Being naked on the floor of some poor guy’s very nice bookshop is better than being naked on pavement in the middle of a storm…but only just. There’s a lot more indignity to his situation now that Beck is actually trying to keep himself upright. He can’t. It’s not just his legs refusing to cooperate with him. His entire body feels sluggish, achy and weighed down. His veins feel like they’ve been pumped full of lead. His skull is throbbing, stuffed with cotton and running with all the efficiency of a dying engine.

“I’m really sorry about this,” he manages to slur into the nice stranger’s woodwork. “’S not my day.”

“I figured,” Lehexe says as he helps peel Beck off the ground—and he is really being much nicer than Beck deserves. “I hope stuff like this don’t happen to you often.”

“It really doesn’t.” This is the weirdest thing Beck can remember happening to him in, well, ever. He’s not handling it well.

By some miracle, Lehexe manages to get him back on his feet again and leads him out of the shop. The hallway behind the door is small, narrow, with several doors lining the walls. One clearly reads Bathroom; the other, Beck suspects is a closet; as for the third, he doesn’t have a clue what could be behind it. (His half-delirious mind flashes back to the vintage game shows his grandma used to love, where shoulder-pad-flaunting contestants chose between Door One, Door Two, and Door Three for the chance to win “the prize of a lifetime!” Lehexe doesn’t make a good game show host, and Beck’s hairstyle isn’t nearly exciting enough for 80s television.)

There’s a final door at the end of the hallway, styled differently from the others. This one is great mahogany, with a firm frame, and another lock just beneath the knob. Lehexe turns to his set of keys yet again, and in seconds he has the door open to a set of stairs that tower over Beck’s head, making him feel dizzy.

His heart sinks. His stomach drops. He feels himself slump further to the floor, until Lehexe stubbornly hoists him back up again. Just looking up there makes his head spin, and the notion of dragging his noncooperative body up the stairs is nothing short of a pipe dream. There’s no way he can do it—just no chance.

“Yeahhh,” he groans. “Dude…don’t think that’s gonna happen…”

“You gotta try for me,” Lehexe says. “Can you do that?”

Beck considers this. “If I pass out, will you catch me?”

“I’ll try my best.”

Well, that’s good enough for him.

Interested? You can find THE COST OF LIVING on Goodreads, NineStar Press, Amazon,Barnes & Noble,Kobo and Smashwords.

****GIVEAWAY****

Click on this Rafflecopter giveaway link for your chance to win a $10 GC to NineStar Press.

Good luck and keep reading my friends.

About the Author:
Emilie Lucadamo has too many stories, and not enough words to tell them. At eighteen years old, she has been writing for most of her life, and telling stories even longer. Her dream is to one day become a critically acclaimed author. When not writing, she’s probably reading, or spending quality time with her dog.

Catch up with Emilie on her Twitter and Tumblr.