Release Blitz: A Highland Hogmanay by Meg Mardell #LGBTQ #historicalromance #holidayromance @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: A Highland Hogmanay

Series: Christmas Masquerade, Book Two

Author: Meg Mardell

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/23/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 37700

Genre: Historical holiday, LGBTQIA+, historical, Victorian England, holiday, Christmas, Scottish Highlands, lesbian, wlw, mistaken identity, humorous, family drama, interracial, intercultural, road trip, age gap

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Description

The daughter of an Indian raja and renegade Englishwoman, Sharda Holkar, was gifted with a magnificent dowry but little say in her future. Until now. She must endure one more depressing holiday season with her controlling cousins, then she will be free to begin her emancipated life. But her discovery of a plot to marry her off to the preening son of the house has Sharda wondering if her new start should begin at once. When Sharda meets the intriguing owner of a Highland castle at a Christmas Eve masquerade, she wastes no time in forming a plan—she will escape across the Scottish border!

Finella Forbes cannot imagine why a sophisticated heiress like Sharda would even associate with someone who manages a castle for a living, let alone accompany her all the way back to the Highlands in time for the raucous celebration of Hogmanay. But a wealthy buyer is just what Balintore Castle needs. Fin is determined to prove she is just as good an estate manager as her father, but with the negligent lordly owner refusing to do his duty, she needs help fast. When mistaken assumptions jeopardise their initial attraction, Sharda and Fin will need all the mischief and magic of a Highland holiday to discover the true nature of their feelings.

Excerpt

A Highland Hogmanay
Meg Mardell © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“It’s getting quite sticky in here, isn’t it? Don’t these people perspire a lot in their ridiculous costumes? But the fools will insist upon picking characters that require false beards and headwraps and the lot. What do they expect?”

Mr Edward Pilkington watched the white-masked Pierrots and Pierrettes rotating around the Mayfair ballroom the same way he looked at everything else—right down his upturned nose. Of course, on this occasion, he might just be stopping his own mask from slipping.

“I must say, I consider it in poor taste of Lady Belleville to host such a gaudy entertainment on Christmas Eve. There’s enough blinding décor in every home and shop window without humans dressing like a bunch of tinsel ornaments.”

Sharda thought the display of Venetian masks in gold, silver, and red rather complemented the miles of glittering white ribbon their hostess had threaded around her every enormous window and door. But five days of Edward’s persistent company had taught her to neither agree nor disagree with his frequent judgements as both fanned the flames of his perpetual dissatisfaction.

“Perhaps you now see, Miss Holkar, the wisdom of my selection of attire. A simple mask and fancywork vest, and perhaps a sash, is really all that is required on these occasions.”

“For women as well as men?”

Sharda’s costume took its inspiration from the opulent carnival style of Venetian women from the height of that city’s pomp and power two centuries back. Her square-necked black silk gown cut away to a blaze of scarlet underskirt. Tiny stitched-in crystals covered the tight scarlet front bodice as well as her matching silk hat. Jutting out over one eye, the bold topper terminated in a cascade of black feathers that brushed her black half mask. Edward’s mother, one of Sharda’s inexhaustible supply of second and third cousins, had tried to convince her to wear what that lady was pleased to call her “native finery.” But when Sharda had insisted on purchasing a new costume for the ball, Lavinia Pilkington had graciously conceded that the Venetian style looked well on Sharda, for “many ladies of the Italian peninsula are quite of your complexion, my dear.”

The lady’s son was equally talented at giving compliments.

“A bit of exotic finery is not amiss on a woman. Provided she’s young, of course. There’s nothing more displeasing than an old woman got up like the Queen of Sheba. Now, perhaps I can see if these insolent Turks of footmen have some iced sherbet. You must be awfully hot in all your…” The gentleman gestured to Sharda’s hat. “Er, not that you look to any disadvantage or are…” The gentleman sought in vain for an acceptable substitute for sweating.

Sharda suddenly wished she had selected a full mask to hide her private mirth. She should not find it so amusing when Edward remembered, too late, that he was trying to woo her. Though maybe if she did not find the clumsy courtship so funny, she might cry.

“Or perhaps you would like to take the air in the garden, Miss Holkar? And escape this dreadful crush.”

“They seem to have brought much of the garden in here, Mr Pilkington.”

She gratefully caught the crisp scent of the evergreen branches that wrapped every available railing in Lady Belleville’s house. A delicious freshness that made one forget one was in London.

“Hmm, yes, quite. But then you don’t have the same animal noises outside, of course. It’s much easier to talk.”

She had not noticed the noise of the ballroom impairing his ability to talk in the slightest. But she knew what type of conversation he had in mind. He wasn’t the first young man to try to negotiate her out onto a cool veranda.

“Perhaps I would like an ice, Mr Pilkington. If you would be so kind.”

“Yes, of course… Though it will be a dreadful ordeal making my way over to the refreshment area now… No matter. I will see that you get your ice…my lady.”

Sharda took a few calming inhales of the pine-and-wood-polish scent of the Belleville townhouse. Now she could face Lavinia Pilkington, a spare lady fluffed up with a great deal of feathers, descending upon her beside a very grand person in purple.

“Here she is, Lady Belleville. I thought we should have to send some of your splendid footmen in search.”

“That might have proved difficult. I have my own runaway to locate, Mrs Pilkington. My wretched nephew.”

Lavinia trilled a nervous laugh, unable to tell if this was a joke.

“This is my young friend, Miss Sharda Holkar, who is staying the holidays with us. Sharda, meet Lady Belleville.”

“I do like your hat, Miss Holkar. You need a bit of height for such a topper. I, alas, have always extended out rather than up. I do envy women who can carry off such plumage. You are enjoying the ball?”

“Yes, indeed, ma’am.”

“And you’ve been dancing?”

“Not yet.”

“Oh dear, I do like young people to dance.”

“Do not worry, your ladyship. I am sure my son Edward will do the honours soon.”

“Excellent. Now, you must excuse me, for I hear my dear husband’s growl even now. I should make at least a half-hearted attempt to save my guests from his best Scrooge impersonation, should I not?”

Sharda and her cousin each dipped a curtsy—Lavinia’s embarrassingly low—to their hostess as she moved back into the crowd like the prow of a ship easily carving a path through lesser crafts. Sharda was left stranded on an island of two.

“I do hope you truly intend to dance as you promised Lady Belleville. And what did you think of her ladyship? Quite a superior person, I think, but Edward says she wears too many jewels for true breeding. I only wish I had such a problem! Whatever is taking Edward so long, do you think?”

Lavinia had a fidgety manner that made it impossible to relax in her company. After nearly a week as her guest, Sharda was almost as high-strung as her hostess. The prospect of enduring even another five minutes with this wearisome woman was unbearable. Especially as her only reward would be to eat a melted ice and then dance in Edward Pilkington’s sticky grip.

“He promised me he would return very soon. Perhaps I might wait for him in the garden, Mrs Pilkington?”

Lavinia’s eyes glittered behind her feathered mask.

“Ah, yes, that would be an excellent idea. It is far too noisy and hot in here.”

“Should you like to come with me, cousin?”

“Oh, no. No, no. I declare I see my dear friend Mrs, er…Bamtree just over there. But you go right ahead, my dear.”

Sharda needed no further encouragement.

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Meet the Author

Meg moved from the US to England because she fell in love with the Victorians’ peculiar blend of glamour and grime. After a decade of exploring historical excesses in a prim scholarly fashion, she realized that fiction is the best way to delve into that period’s great female-focused and LGBT+ stories. Weaned on the high-seas romances of the 1990s, Meg’s lost none of her love for cross-dressing cabin boys but any tolerance for boorish heroes. She’s delighted to now have a whole raft of quirky and queer characters to cheer for on their quest for Happily Ever After. She frequently breaks off writing for an Earl Grey tea (milk not lemon). She’s trying to learn Polish and Portuguese at the same time. She plans to escape Brexit Britain.

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Book Blitz: Dating Dracula by Kinsley Adams #RomCom #ParanormalRomance @XpressoTours

Dating Dracula
Kinsley Adams
(Dating Monsters, #1)
Publication date: March 15th 2021
Genres: Adult, Comedy, Paranormal, Romance

The Legend. The Immortal. My… Boyfriend?

You know, I really only had two goals in life:

1) Unearth the truth about vampires and,
2) Become hella famous.

Nowhere on that list did I have “die” or “get turned into a bloodsucker.” But guess what? Life doesn’t always go according to plan. Now, thanks to an unfortunate back-alley encounter, I’m the newest member of the undead country club (fangs, coffin, and all). And my savior? Sire? Whatever…

Freaking. Dracula. Himself.

Even stranger, he claims I’m his mate. Like… eternal love. But come on! I don’t have time for that. Not only do I need to track down my attempted murderer, but I also need to learn how to be a vampire. Falling in love is the last thing on my mind right now.

Too bad Dracula has other plans for me.

***

Fans of Dracula will love this new modern and chic take on the immortal legend himself. Scroll up and one-click now!

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Only 99¢ for a limited time!

EXCERPT:

“I’m sorry,” she whispered with her back still to me. “I just…. You died, Anna. You’re dead.”

“Undead,” my savior clarified for like the third time.

“It’s still dead!” Lucy snapped.

Even I glared at him. Now wasn’t the time for his little comments.

“I—I don’t know how to handle all this. Do I grieve for you? Or celebrate the fact that you’re still walking around? You’re a vampire, Anna. For frick’s sake, do you know what that means? You drink blood, you sleep in a coffin… you aren’t you anymore. How am I supposed to handle this?”

My dead heart shattered. “You’re supposed to accept me as I am,” I said, struggling to keep my voice steady. “We’re sisters. Always. Forever.”

“Except always and forever means two very different things to us now,” she said.

I forced myself to swallow. From the sounds of it, Lucy was breaking up with me. Which almost made me laugh. She was my longest relationship ever. And she wanted to walk away from it? All because of an accident I had no control over?

I ran a hand down my face and turned toward my savior. Someone whose name I really needed to learn. I couldn’t keep referring to him as my savior or I was going to develop some major hero worship issues.

“Anna, I’m sorry,” Lucy repeated. “But I think I need some time to process all this.”

I nodded, all the while keeping my gaze trained on my savior. He was the only thing keeping me calm right now. The thought that I might lose my best friend over all this was too much. I couldn’t show her how much this hurt, because if I did, I might never recover. Lucy had stormed into a vamp club at my side, but apparently, she drew the line at death.

And honestly? I didn’t blame her. This time, tears really did spring to my eyes, but I blinked them back before they spilled. If I started crying, I had a feeling I’d never stop.

“I’m going to head back to the hotel,” she said. “I’ve been staying there the past few nights.” Wait, what? Past few nights? But before I could question that little tidbit, she continued speaking. “Do you want me to call your parents for you? Explain what happened?”

“No,” I rasped. That wasn’t her responsibility. If anyone was going to tell them about my transformation, it would be me.

“I’ll text you,” she mumbled, but her voice was already fading. She was leaving.

Text me. Ugh. Why not just tell me you hope we can still be friends?

I hated this. What happened to best friends forever? I’d like to think that if this had happened to her, I’d still be standing by her side. Lucy was my world. Nothing could have convinced me to leave her.

“I’m sorry” was her final comment before I heard the door shut.

I took a few minutes to absorb everything. Thankfully, my savior let me brood in silence. I appreciated that. I wasn’t in the mood to hear platitudes right now.

Once I was sure I had schooled my expression, I turned toward him and nodded. It was embarrassing to have someone witness a break-up, but there wasn’t anything I could do about that now.

I needed a distraction. I didn’t want to think about Lucy right now. I’d reserve that for later, when I was alone and could process everything myself. Instead, I stared up at him, once again stricken speechless when our gazes met. Why did I find him so enthralling? So fascinating? It felt like I could stare at him for hours.

Clearing my throat, I rubbed the bridge of my nose and asked, “Well, do you have a name?”

His brows shot upward, and an amused smile claimed his lips, exposing the tips of his fangs. Intrigued, I reached for my own, poking them with my fingertip. They must have been what scraped my tongue earlier. Seemed they were a permanent fixture too. I’d have to remember that when talking and laughing. Vampires might be public knowledge now, but as seen by Lucy, humans weren’t one hundred percent ready to accept them yet.

“Forgive me,” he said, his voice deliciously rumbly. “I’m so accustomed to being recognized wherever I go that I often forget to introduce myself.”

So, he was like vampire royalty or something?

Fangs still peeking out from behind his lips, he gave an old-fashioned bow, one he executed flawlessly, then peered at me through long, dark lashes. I shit you not, the boy almost breathed life back into me. He was just that gorgeous.

“My name is Vlad.” He took my hand and lifted it to his lips before brushing a gentle kiss across my knuckles. “But most know me as Dracula.”

I wish I could say I absorbed that information with grace and poise. But that would have been a lie. Instead, I burst out laughing, and said, “No shit!”

Author Bio:

Kinsley Adams is a thirty-something-year-old author who stopped counting when she turned twenty-five. When she isn’t writing uproariously hilarious romantic comedies, she’s raising her womb-gremlin with the hopes that he might one day become the world’s first Supreme Leader.

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Book Blitz: B Free by Cynthia Sax #cybords #scifiromance @CynthiaSax

B Free
Cynthia Sax
(Rebel Cyborgs, #4)
Publication date: November 16th 2021
Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

B is the last remaining B Model cyborg. All of his brethren, the beings he trained with, fought with, cared deeply for, have perished.

Or so he believes.

When he intercepts a communication mentioning the existence of one of his kind, he has to investigate its source. The message could be a trap set by his enemies. He’ll take that risk if it secures him the companionship he requires to be fully functional.

What he finds is a daring brown-eyed female who activates all his systems. She proudly proclaims she’s a researcher, brandishing that information like a weapon before her. He wants to kiss the sass off her beautiful face, protect her from the dangers around them, claim her forever.

Quinn is on a quest to locate the mechanics of an early-version cyborg. She believes the information captured within that frame will give her valuable insights into the past.

When her mission goes zombie-like beings levels of wrong, she comes face-to-face with a living, breathing B Model. He has big hands, a primitive countenance, and stern hard lips crafted for kissing.

She doesn’t trust him. And she doesn’t have time to indulge her desires.

Their shared enemies are chasing them, would kill to get their precious specimens back. One minor mistake could reduce B and Quinn to a mere line in the databases of history.
***
B Free is a STANDALONE Cyborg SciFi Romance set in a dark, gritty, sometimes-violent universe.
It features the sole surviving B Model cyborg warrior, a courageous researcher seeking to uncover the past, and an unplanned visit to a settlement ruled by an extremely scary all-knowing, all-powerful being.

B Free is the fourth of five core stories in the Rebel Cyborgs Series.
Book 1: Containing Malice
Book 2: Under Strain
Book 3: Baring Grudge
Book 4: B Free
Book 5: Seizing Power

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EXCERPT:

Unable to process he was the last of his kind, B had searched for beings like him. There had been mentions of his model type in messages. He’d investigated every occurrence.

100.0000 percent of them had been futile chases, ghosts of brethren long dead.

He projected an investigation into this planet rotation’s message would be a waste of resources also. Heze 478 was a sparsely populated Humanoid Alliance-controlled planet, a leisure site for high-credit and influential humans in their organization, a place where they could get away from the horrors they’d inflicted. It wasn’t rational that they would situate a secret laboratory there.

It would be true to their devious natures to set a trap in that location for someone they correctly perceived as an enemy. He blew out his breath. They could be seeking to capture him, wanting to continue his torment.

A fully operational warrior would ignore the communication.

He wasn’t that being. B straightened to his full height and moved forward. His mechanics creaked. His body throbbed with an ache that matched the one in his soul. The rays of Mercury Minor’s single sun warmed his shoulders.

One of the humanoid females looked up, up, up at him. Her head tilted back. Her eyes widened.

She screamed, the sound piercing the chatter around her.

The other females turned. Their eyes widened also.

The crescendo of screams grew louder.

Fraggin’ hole. B stepped backward, seeking to disappear once more into the shadows. He wouldn’t hurt the females. They were under his protection, as was everyone on the cyborg-claimed planet.

But the females didn’t process that. All they saw was his huge form, his primitive B Model design. They had never viewed another being like him. He was different, and, to their gazes, scary.

That damaged him. He navigated a maze of less-utilized pathways, staying to himself, sticking to the darkness. The screams faded.

His emotional damage remained.

He lumbered past a training ring positioned at the edge of the settlement. One set of warriors, all E Models, faced another set of warriors, all C Models.

If there was a B Model force, he’d be the only one on it.

“Join us, B.” Odium, the leader of the E Model faction, gestured at him. “The C Models need your skills.”

The C Models objected to that. Loudly.

They didn’t need him, and he didn’t belong on either side. He was a relic. His model type had been completely replaced. He was redundant.

B shook his head and continued walking.

Author Bio:

For updates on characters and for very bad jokes, sign up for Cynthia’s monthly newsletter at http://cynthiasax.com

USA Today Bestselling author Cynthia Sax is currently writing cyborg and alien romances with high heat levels. These stories are set in a shared dark, gritty, sometimes violent world. There is always a romantic happy ending between the main characters and this happy ending is FOREVER. But everyone else is in danger.

Her stories have been featured in Star Magazine, Real Time With Bill Maher, and numerous best of… top ten lists.

She loves writing fated to mate or instalove romances as this is her personal experience with love. She fell in love with her Dear Wonderful Hubby at first sight and 25 plus years later, they’re still very much in love. This is what she wishes for her characters and for her readers.

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Book Blitz: Fates Fulfilled by Jules Barnard #paranormalromance @jules_barnard

Fates Fulfilled
Jules Barnard
(Halven Rising, #3)
Publication date: November 15th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

The Dark Prince has arrived.

The Dark Prince will stop at nothing to save his people—even if it means kidnapping the one woman with the power to destroy them all…

Garrin Branimir, Prince of Dark Kingdom, has been trapped in endless winter for centuries, along with his people. His only hope of saving them is to find the woman with the power to destroy the magical barriers imprisoning Dark Fae. With her by his side, he and his kinsmen will finally be free.

But Lex Meinrad isn’t full Fae, and she wasn’t raised in his land, content to obey her prince’s every order. She refuses to do his bidding—no matter how intense the sparks between them fire.

With time running out, Garrin must convince this impossibly stubborn woman to cooperate before his enemies bend her to their will. And, unlike him, they’ll choose force over seduction…


Each Halven Rising book is a standalone romance with an overarching story that connects the series. The books can be read out of order.

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EXCERPT:

Garrin Branimir, Prince of Dark Kingdom, strode down the dingy hallway where the Fae kept their half-human, half-Fae Halven, and paused near a dark-haired female on his right. The woman grinned as she passed.

She was attractive. For a human. Or Halven, given the building.

Hundreds of years ago, Fae from other kingdoms in the Faery realm of Tirnan built Dawson University to monitor their half-blood offspring, known as Halven. Particularly those Halven who developed magical powers. As far as anyone knew, no Halven born of Dark Fae blood existed due to the Land of Ice that blocked Dark Kingdom from any other living being, including in the Earth realm. But Garrin suspected the one he searched for could be hidden here.

The prophecy stated a female with Dark blood would save his people. Garrin had run out of options in Dark Kingdom. No one possessed the power needed to create safe passage to other lands. The Earth realm was his last hope for finding the one.

He fanned his hand in front of the female’s face before she passed. He’d been testing all females in the building for weeks. So far, none had deflected his magic.

The brunette blinked, then stumbled. Then her lips turned blue, and she began to choke, her dark eyes watering as ice formed across her face. Sounds of suffocation came from her throat.

She was indeed Halven. He wasn’t as good at sensing magic levels as those with the ability, but he could tell she was more than human now that he was close. Only she wasn’t the one for whom he searched. She was simply a half-blood, like all the rest.

Garrin sighed and waved forward the two soldiers behind him. “Heal her and blur her memory.”

This girl might not be the one, but Garrin would search for the female who was until his dying breath, which should give him a millennium, give or take.

“Your Highness,” Amund said, a portal creator and one such Fae with the ability to sense energy levels. “The earthbound Fae soldiers have discovered our presence.”

Garrin let out a long-suffering sigh. He’d spent the last hundred years attempting to cross the barrier separating his kingdom from the others of Tirnan. It had been nigh impossible to make it across the Land of Ice weakened, only to be attacked by deadly Fae soldiers from other lands. Until an uprising left said lands vulnerable. He’d finally breached the borders of the other kingdoms and made it to the Earth realm, and he wasn’t about to turn back now. “The Fae living on Earth are a nuisance. How am I to find the girl with them nipping at my heels?”

Amund stared off in the distance. “We have two minutes before they discover us.”

His men had returned the brunette to the dwelling from whence she came, and Garrin looked down the hallway one last time. “Very well. We will return another—”

Someone exited a door halfway down. A female. Tall.

Garrin didn’t get a good look at her face because she’d pulled a hood over her head that dipped below her eyes, but he held up his hand in a staying motion. There was something about this one… He was drawn to her.

“I sense no power,” Amund said.

Fae were taller than humans, and many Halven took on the trait. “I will test her anyway.” The closer she got, his urge to be near her grew.

“Your Highness, please hurry.” Amund glanced back. “We have a minute at most.”

The female kept her head down as she moved closer. She didn’t appear to see Garrin standing there.

Odd, that. At over seven feet, Garrin wasn’t easily missed in the Earth realm. The girl was so preoccupied, in fact, that she nearly ran into him.

She stopped abruptly a couple of feet away, and her chin tilted up. Her face flushed, and she averted her gaze. But not before Garrin caught sight of her beautiful golden eyes, the mysterious energy behind them hitting him like a bolt of lightning.

There was no time. Garrin needed to test her quickly and be gone. He pursed his lips and exhaled, giving her more of his powers than he’d given other females they’d encountered.

She blinked, and ice crystallized around her nose and lips…and melted as quickly as it had formed.

Her gaze collided with his, her expression one of surprise.

Garrin’s entire body lit up with desire so powerful it took his breath away.

He stepped back, astonished at his reaction to the woman, and at what he’d discovered. For so long he’d fought death and starvation and battled enemies to reach the one. No Dark Fae were thought to live in the Earth realm, but Garrin suspected she was hiding here, and now he’d found her in the form of a Halven.

Elation coursed through him. After all this time, he’d succeeded where no other Fae had for hundreds of years.

He would save his people from isolation. He would make his father proud…and he would have the female.

A smile slowly pulled at the corners of his mouth. “Take her.”

Author Bio:

Jules Barnard is a USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance and romantic fantasy. Her contemporary series include the Never Date and Cade Brothers series. She also writes romantic fantasy under the same pen name in the Halven Rising series Library Journal calls ”…an exciting new fantasy adventure.” Whether she’s writing about sexy men in Lake Tahoe or a Fae world embedded in a college campus, Jules spins addictive stories filled with heart and humor.

When Jules isn’t in her sweatpants writing and rewarding herself with chocolate, she spends her time with her husband and two children in their small hometown on the Pacific Coast. She credits herself with the ability to read while running on the treadmill or burning dinner.

**Please click the orange “+Follow” button to follow Jules on Amazon and be notified about her new releases**

To learn more about Jules, visit her website at: julesbarnard.com

Sign up to Jules’s Newsletter for writing updates and to gain access to FREE content, including extra scenes — http://www.julesbarnard.com/newsletter/

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Release Blitz: Promising Love by Sara Ohlin #eroticromance #contemporary @firstforromance @totally_bound

Promising Love by Sara Ohlin

Book 3 in the Rescue Me series

Word Count: 73,343
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 279

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE

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Book Description

When a glamorous spa owner seduces the grumpy neighborhood bartender, passion smolders…

Ruby Naylor, confident, successful proprietor of Spa La La, has been crushing on Lachlan MacGregory for ages and finally throws herself at the grumpy bartender as he’s helping her tipsy butt home to her apartment above his pub.

Ruby is the only woman Lachlan has ever loved—from afar. When she makes a pass, he finally admits he’s wanted her for a long time. He leaves her that night with three promises—a kiss, a special connection between them and an epic tomorrow.

Unfortunately, when tomorrow arrives and Lachlan is smacked with the knowledge that she’s already in a relationship with two men, he feels he has nothing to offer her.

His day gets worse when his addict father is on his doorstep again, demanding money. The thought that he could end up sick and miserable like his father eats at Lachlan, making him focus on what has never let him down, his successful pub in the burgeoning Corvallis neighborhood.

Learning that Ruby is not taken, Lachlan finally goes all out to win her back. With his heartfelt apology, it’s easy for Ruby to forgive him—she believes in joy, in romance, in happy ever after. What she never expected was how vulnerable Lachlan could make her feel.

Can their love withstand life-shattering events to lead them into a beautiful future?

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of a parent suffering from addiction and some violence.

Excerpt

“Lachlan MacGregory, are you ever going to kiss me?” Ruby whispered. Leaving the key in the lock, she turned so they fit flush together, front to front. What’s a successful, sexy woman supposed to do anyway?

She’d been waiting for an eternity, it seemed, for Lachlan MacGregory to make a move, or accept her move. Okay, so it had only been a year and a half, but everyone knew time could be its own demon or goddess when love was concerned. Either way there was magic involved when sashaying around her feelings for Lachlan. It definitely felt more demon than goddess-inspired to her. Time she’d spent watching him casually date other women, while she herself had occasionally casually dated other men. They’d circled each other. And yet the forces had never aligned in their favor. Either that or neither one of them had been brave enough to step up.

Until now. Now she was going to ask for what she’d dreamed of. “I want you to kiss me.”

Aside from the deep burn in his gorgeous eyes, Lachlan’s face was stone and his entire body was rock-hard. Large and sexy, but most definitely a fortress at the moment. Or most moments, she’d found, during all the months she’d been drooling over him. She almost spun away from the freeze.

Maybe he’s not interested? It didn’t seem so, standing this close to him—even though he held himself like granite, his eyes gave him away. Using that courage, she searched into those golden-brown depths of his. Swirling pools of secrets or desire, or maybe both. They had a mind of their own and she’d caught him many a time sneaking glances her way. There were a few occasions when she’d almost made him laugh, and she’d taken them as wins. Stoic statue of a man. Does he even know how to laugh?

She hadn’t actually ever gotten a laugh from him, but she had gotten a different, more subtle and—in her mind—no less cute reaction. His mouth sometimes quirked up on one side while his left eyebrow did this little curve as if to say, “Give it your best, woman. You can’t break me. But it’s damn amusing to watch.” The man tried so hard not to show emotion, not to ask her out, not to kiss her. So, right this perfect minute when he was walking her upstairs to her apartment above his pub, when neither one of them was dating someone else, when the tango had put them smack-dab together, she’d decided to take matters into her own hands, and words and mouth. That’s what a confident woman does.

Or was it the hot-and-bothered woman in her? Because his body was so supremely close to hers, whisking all rational thought away from her. She’d tried flirting with him, and she’d tried ignoring him. It was time to ask for what she wanted, and hope, hope he felt the same. She leaned against him. He was a wall propping her up by her apartment door. She couldn’t take it one second longer. Pressing closer, she reached up and placed her hands on his shoulders. His hands immediately went to her waist. Oh, the warmth.

“You’re drunk,” Lachlan said. He looked down at his hands on her almost as if he couldn’t believe how they’d gotten there. One twitched and he gripped her, steadying her or himself—she wasn’t sure. But he didn’t pull away. When he began to move his thumb on her waist, searching little circles, exploring the tiniest bit of her, he watched, lost in her. Goody, goody, goody!

Lachlan’s fingers seared a brand on Ruby’s skin and almost took her legs out from under her. Nothing casual about our connection at all. She’d known it. And maybe that gave her the power to push her luck.

“Not drunk.” She pouted and got to see that almost-smile with the eyebrow betraying his attempt to remain stoic. Okay, maybe a teeny bit drunk, which did not dull the fact that she desired him.

“The gin and tonics were flowing to your table tonight, Ruby. And you ladies came in tipsy. I know Ellie wasn’t drinking them.”

This time there was no subtle eyebrow-lift, but both eyes—sparkly brown orbs that seemed to have a novel written in them, and boy she longed to read that story—lifted, his tone and his expression reprimanding. His voice was deeper. Perhaps because his eyes were both serious and searching, that reprimand went straight to her core. I wonder if he’d reprimand me in the bedroom?

She smiled, a full-on smile, because she, Ruby Naylor, had no problems showing her emotions, and leaned into his powerful muscles. “No, it wasn’t Ellie, although the ginger seltzer concoctions you made specially for her with the cute umbrella-cherry garnish were a huge hit and calmed her stomach. You thoughtful, thoughtful man.” Ruby gave his shoulders a gentle squeeze. My God, the man even has sexy shoulders, powerful, firm. She’d love to get her hands all over him, massage all his muscles, investigate each and every one.

“Besides, I’m tipsy from talking about love, dear man. I only had a few of your spectacular drinks. Ellie sipped her ginger drink while swooning over her life with Jackson and the new baby coming, and Natalie drinks like a sailor. But I’m not asking you to kiss Ellie or Nat, Lachlan MacGregory. I’m asking you to kiss me. Don’t you like me? It’s hard to tell some days,” Ruby purred. She was not above using all the tactics in her arsenal to seduce him. The man was a vault and she aimed to crash through, so he’d never know what hit him. Watching and waiting on the sidelines had gotten her nowhere, except a lot of great dreams. Now, Ruby sought the reality.

He’d offered to help her drunk butt upstairs, and even though she could have made it to her apartment above his bar perfectly fine, she wasn’t stupid. And whoosh, did it feel good to be so close to him. Finally. She was tipsy. Tipsy on Lachlan contact. It was a real thing, she could say, now that he was touching her.

His one hand clenched and unclenched at her side, then he slid it around to her back bringing them into a nice snug fit. What is happening? Maybe I am dreaming? His other one braced against the door behind her, almost as if he needed to balance himself, to hold on. And, holy smokes, he was looking at her now. Looking was too calm a word. His eyes had woken from their stoic slumber and were piercing and hot. And to have Lachlan MacGregory holding her, finally giving her the full direct force of his gaze? Oh, she could melt into a puddle. It was all too powerful.

“I like you.” His voice was deep and quiet, with a sharpened edge to it.

“I like you, too.” She watched those eyes of his, a page flipped over, or perhaps opened to her. “I’ve liked you for so long.” He blinked. But he didn’t focus on her eyes—he concentrated on her lips. A battle waged in his expression. To stay through the storm or run away to safety…which would he choose?

“Please,” she whispered. Please don’t run.

He tightened his grip on her, his fingers molding her through her jeans. “When I kiss you, I want you to remember it in the morning,” he rasped out. He was standing up taller now, all traces of casual disappeared into the night. He was intent.

Yay! He does want to kiss me! Ruby almost jumped up and down in cheers, but she settled for putting her hand on his cheek, unprepared for the sigh that wove through his body at her touch, how it sang through her nerves, but also gave her joy and strength. “I promise, Lachlan. I’ll remember. Will you?”

“Yes, beautiful, I’ll remember,” Lachlan said. He lifted her gently against the door and ghosted his lips over hers, sending shivers through her as he moved those amazing lips of his over her cheek and down her neck. Ruby’s head fell against the door, while the rest of her body tried so hard to stay molded to his. He stopped right beneath her ear. “I’ll remember how soft your skin is right here.”

Oh, my! It was a good thing that he held her up or she might have blown away from lack of oxygen. The man hadn’t even kissed her yet, and he’d stolen the breath from within her. And she could shoot herself for wearing a coat and her blouse tucked in when she craved the man’s hands all over her bare skin, not just the tiny patch where he’d snaked his fingers underneath the fabric to reach her waist. Although it might cause her to combust. She welcomed that combustion.

“I’ll remember how you smell, that fucking sexy, musky perfume you command.”

Huh. I was wrong, I am drunk. The man has skills. Command? Does he realize he’s going to brand me with his words?

Keeping her close, Lachlan took one hand away to unlock her door and walked her through the opening. Ruby had had no idea such intense concentration could be so fucking sexy. Lachlan’s heady gaze on hers, while walking them to her kitchen island, without a sound, added to the feeling that she was floating. A whimper escaped her mouth and she gripped his arms to hold on. This was not the time to close her eyes—this was her chance, warm in his embrace, to see his beauty up close. A man on a mission. And his mission was her. No distractions allowed. The power of that type of gaze mixed with his words went right to her head and her heart and other parts of her body. All those other parts that wanted his skin, his lips on her.

“The way you feel in my arms, Christ, Ruby, you have no idea.”

I do! I so do. I feel it too.

Now he’d kiss her. Yes, please! Lachlan lifted her onto her counter and, keeping his hands braced on her hips, held himself at the tiniest bit of distance. She had been waiting for forever for this. She’d beg. I wonder what other talents he keeps close to his belt? She reached to pull him closer.

“Ruby.” He’d nearly lost his voice, raw, edgy need feeding out of him with one word. My name. Jesus, he was going to undo her.

“Promise?” he asked. No, he was going to break her heart open with one request. If she was this turned on and whimpering with the touch of his lips soft on her neck, whispering gorgeous words to her, his kiss would probably brand her. Stake your claim, Lachlan. I’m here waiting for you.

She nodded. “I won’t forget. I promise, Lachlan.”

He gave it to her then, not the kiss she was desperate for, but the smile, his true smile. It changed his face from broody stone to brilliant, handsome man one hundred percent zeroed in on her. His eyes caught the fire and a shade lifted from those dark mysteries, like he’d been searching for light and he’d discovered it in her, finally. Holy cow!

And he strode from her apartment with one final announcement. “Goodnight then.”

What? Wait! What the heck is happening? “Goodnight?” She slid down from the counter and tried to anchor her feet on the floor because her legs were wobbly noodles and her heart was trying to beat out of her chest. Lust raced through her blood and she gripped the countertop for support.

He paused in the doorway, his hands on the frame, facing away from her, gathering himself.

No! Don’t gather your wits—come here. Throw your wits out of the window with mine.

And when he faced her, he blew her world into a million pieces of stardust. “I’m going to kiss you all night, kiss you into the morning, make you remember every single caress I place on your skin because I’ve imagined kissing you since the day you filled out the lease and teased me about lacking any sort of smile. When I nearly fell over at your beauty, the shimmer in your gorgeous eyes, that glow you spread out to everyone in your path. You have no idea.” Lachlan shook his head, lost in his thoughts. Or a memory? “I’ve wanted to kiss you since…since you altered my world.”

“Lachlan,” she whispered and took a shaky step toward him. Her body pulled her to his. They were connected now and the path to him was the only one for her. It was the feeling she’d had when she first met him too, and it had only grown stronger over the months. His words validated her romantic heart that existed in a world with so many people who didn’t believe, who walked their gray path and were fine with mediocrity.

He held up his hand to stop her. “Now that I know we’re here in the same space.” He made a circle in the air with his hands. “Now that I get to taste you, there’s no way I’m going to rush it. I’m going to savor every damn second.”

The man knew how to seduce, wielding anticipation like a gift, not a weapon. But she enjoyed rushing too. She loved rushing. Rush me into bed with your kisses now, you wonderful man, you!

“See you tomorrow,” he said. Then the handsome, frustrating-as-hell man smiled and strode out, closing the door behind him.

Lost in the laser hit of that smile for a minute, Ruby swayed on her feet as if she were truly drunk. Then his words filtered through her loopy state, wove themselves into her heart and set her on fire. “Oh, my beautiful goodness!”

Well, she hadn’t gotten a kiss. Any other man, any other spectacular moment and she might be pouting. Instead, her world had been spun in gold. She gently pressed her fingertips to her heart to feel the flip-flops it was doing. Drop-dead gorgeous, kind, sexy Lachlan MacGregory had zapped lightning through her with merely the promise of a kiss. Yet so much more than a kiss—he had noticed her. He did want her. Ruby held tight to the special moment, closed her eyes and cherished the luminous glow bursting in her dreams, in her heart at the promise tomorrow would bring.

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About the Author

Sara Ohlin

Sara Ohlin has lived all over the United States, but her heart keeps getting pulled back to the Pacific Northwest where it belongs. For years she has been writing creative non-fiction and memoir and feels that writing helps her make sense of this crazy world. She devours books and can often be found shushing her two hilarious kids so that she can finish reading. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’ll most likely be in the kitchen cooking up something scrumptious, a French macaron, shrimp scampi, a fun date-night-in dinner with her sexy husband, or perhaps her next love story.

You can follow Sara on Instagram and Pinterest and check out her website here.

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Release Blitz: Road to home by Mell Eight #LGBTQ #contemporaryromance @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Road to Home

Series: Road to…, Book Two

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/09/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, action/adventure, established couple, law enforcement, Middle East politics, secret agents, religious extremism, terrorism

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Description

When he gets a phone call late one night, Interpol Agent Mihi Stross expects it to be his husband, Rafi, calling to say he is finally on the way home. What he gets instead is a nightmare: Rafi’s mission has failed. Despite orders that he is not to attempt a rescue, Mihi heads to Europe to find and bring home his missing husband. But rescuing Rafi, and getting them both home safely may be the one assignment he can’t complete…

Excerpt

Road to Home
Mell Eight © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Home: Washington DC, USA

“Mihi?” Rafi’s voice echoed softly on the other end of the phone. His tone had an edge to it that was too cautious—soft, as if he were afraid of being overheard, yet intent as if he were anxious that I would miss something important. My heart beat faster in worry. Rafi never sounded like that. He was always so happy to hear my voice, to know I was all right, and to ask how my day went.

“Rafi,” I replied, keeping my voice light and easy, as if that could somehow halt the darkness I felt creeping into our conversation. If I maintained my good mood and stayed happy, this would be just another normal phone call instead of the painful one I knew it was about to become.

“I love you, Mihi,” Rafi continued. “When I get home, let’s make grilled peanut butter sandwiches and eat them on the back deck.”

My heart stopped. I never should have picked up the phone so late at night, but I had been hoping it was Rafi calling to tell me he was on his way home from his most recent mission. It would have made my night to plan to cut out of work early tomorrow to go pick him up at the airport. Rafi needed to take back everything he was saying.

“Do you want bananas in your sandwich?” I forced the words through my tight throat as I fought tears and panic.

“No!” Rafi yelped. I wished he sounded hopeful instead of panicked. “No bananas. Keep the bananas at the store!”

“Olives?” I asked, hurt. I understood why no bananas, but the admission still twisted something in my gut.

“The olives are already in the pantry,” Rafi replied, much to my relief. “I have to go; I love you, Mihi.”

The phone clicked off before I could reply.

My first inclination was to break down and cry, and I was fighting tears even as I grabbed my wallet and keys and headed for the garage. Bananas or no bananas, Rafi wasn’t going down without me!

I grew up eating Nutella in Israel, which was similar to peanut butter, but about a million times better. Rafi knew I wouldn’t eat something so inferior as peanut butter, which was why eagerly asking for peanut butter sandwiches was the panic code. I did love bananas on my Nutella sandwich, though, and Martin was an olive fiend. Robert was a jelly guy, but since he was still in DC, there was no reason for Rafi to have mentioned him.

I barely remembered the drive to headquarters. I was probably lucky not to have passed a speed trap on my way, because if I wasn’t focused solely on the road, I tended to drive like an Israeli—too much speed, too much swerving around other drivers, and a tendency to obnoxiously overuse my car horn.

Rafi’s job was a mysterious one. We couldn’t explain it to our parents or friends; instead, we simply told them he worked for the government. In fact, the majority of the intelligence and Homeland Security community didn’t know Rafi’s job existed. His job was so high up the need-to-know scale that if I hadn’t occasionally worked with his office, he might not have been allowed to tell me about it even with spousal privilege.

What that all meant, of course, was that the nose of my car was pointed toward Maryland, instead of DC. The outside of Rafi’s office building looked unassuming as I finally pulled up, just steel and brick without any overt security features to give away its actual purpose. The official sign on the street read US Department of Forestry.

I slid into the first parking spot I saw. Since the lot was mostly empty, it wasn’t hard, but my head was buzzing strangely, and my lungs were aching as I fought against hyperventilating. Anything that helped to make this easier was a welcome boon.

The main doors were a short walk away, along a sidewalk with carefully manicured shrubs that attempted to give the building a little class, but it still managed to look industrial despite that. The doors didn’t slam against any walls, which would have been satisfying to me as I shoved inside, but I stomped right through the metal detector, past the cop manning the security station, and up the stairs. I could hear at least three alarms going off as I bypassed the first floor and headed into the lobby on the second. Those weren’t important, though. Figuring out what was wrong with Rafi was.

As I crossed the lobby, running footsteps and the metallic sounds of guns being cocked and slides drawn back sounded. At least a dozen security guards and armed agents, mostly cubicle workers, judging by their ties and crisply cut hair, poured out of the side hallways and through an impressive set of glass doors just ahead. I stopped stomping and held up my hands. Guns pointed at me and people shouted. I couldn’t think of what else to do. Rafi needed my help, and the means to figure out how would most likely be found here. There were procedures to follow in these sorts of situations, procedures that in my panic I had forgotten, I realized, as I stared down a dozen gun barrels.

“Mihi, you could at least flash your badge.” Robert’s voice penetrated the fog in my head. I realized belatedly that I could have called to tell him something was wrong, and I was coming to the office. Robert sighed as he waved one large hand to tell the other agents to stand down.

“Rafi called,” I replied slowly, careful of the potentially jumpy guards.

Many of his coworkers were staring at me with their hands on their barely holstered guns. I don’t think I looked too crazy, even though I was only wearing pajama bottoms and a sparkly, sleeveless top. My shoes were untied, and I wasn’t wearing socks, and it was quite possible I had bed hair. Okay, so maybe there was some reason for everyone to look so alarmed about me. I was actually a bit surprised they hadn’t Tased me the second I rushed through the metal detectors, but I wasn’t normally this crazy. Rafi’s message had sent me over the edge and I was only slowly climbing back.

“Let’s go to the office,” Robert said about five minutes later, once he had calmed his coworkers and apologized to the security guards. There would probably be an investigation into their security and why I had been able to breach it so easily.

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Meet 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.

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Release Blitz: Safe Harbour by Thom Collins #romanticsuspense #gay #contemporaryromance @firstforromance @pridepublishing

Safe Harbour by Thom Collins

Word Count: 58,382
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 229

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

 

Two lovers seek shelter in a storm of jealousy and passion.

Matt arrives in the seaside town of Nyemouth for a much-needed vacation. As a successful lawyer, Matt has a hectic career, and with an ex-husband still pestering him for money, he is long overdue a break. A holiday home perched above the town and its breath-taking harbour seems like the perfect place to unwind. Matt can’t wait to explore the beautiful, jagged shorelines and lose himself for a couple of weeks.

Jake has made a home in Nyemouth. After growing up in the city, living on the coast is everything to him. Running a business with his sister and volunteering on the crew of the local lifeboat, he is exactly where he wants to be. But Jake’s life is far from peaceful. Though he left his domineering husband Vince a year ago, Vince refuses to consent to a divorce or loosen his controlling hold on Jake.

On Matt’s first night in town, he encounters the couple having a blazing row. When Vince turns violent, Matt intervenes and takes Jake inside to escape his angry ex. Despite what happened, Matt feels a powerful attraction to the younger man. Jake is bright, endearing and unbelievably attractive, but the young man’s life is complicated. Matt already has enough problems of his own. He came away looking for an escape, not a starry-eyed distraction. As Matt and Jake get to know each other better, the gamble on a holiday romance becomes hard for either of them to resist. They have both been unlucky in love before. Maybe this time will be different.

Vince will not be shaken off so easily. He has no intention of letting Jake go…ever. As Matt’s and Jake’s emotions deepen, they do not understand how far Vince will take things to keep his husband. As far as Vince is concerned, they made a vow to each other… “till death do us part.”

Reader advisory: This story contains stalking and assault, physical and emotional spousal abuse, attempted murder with a firearm and references to abusive parenting and substance additions.

Excerpt

“Will you be staying long in town?” the shop assistant asked as he ran items through the till.

“Two weeks,” Matt Ramsey replied.

“Really?” The assistant, a pleasant-looking man in his fifties, didn’t look up from what he was doing. “It’s a small place to spend such a long amount of time. Won’t you get bored?”

“I doubt it. I want to use Nyemouth as a base to explore the local area—country walks, coastal trails, that kind of thing.”

“Oh, then you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. There are some stunning locations nearby, both up and down the coast.”

Matt smiled. He’d already done extensive research into this area of Northumberland. He’d visited here a couple of times before, just for the day, and it was a place he’d always wanted to discover further. With two weeks ahead of him and no other commitments, there would never be a better time.

He had finished work at five p.m. promptly and got straight into his car. Despite the Friday evening traffic, he’d made good time on the journey from York to Nyemouth, arriving at the holiday home just before seven-thirty. The old man who lived next door, a friendly guy called Jacob, had greeted him at the door with the keys and given him a quick rundown on the property and what he could find in town. Matt had left home without picking up supplies, and Jacob directed him to the small shop near the marina, less than ten minutes from the house, where he could get all he would need to see him through the next few days. Matt had thanked him and hurried down to the store.

He intended to get a takeaway for dinner tonight, but picked up bread, eggs, bacon, milk and tea bags for breakfast. He also bought three bottles of red wine, a bottle of dark rum and two litres of Diet Coke. It was his intention to eat out as much as possible while he was there, but he wanted to have some alcohol in for the times he came home late, so he could unwind in the comfort of the beautiful house that looked down on the marina and the mouth of the river.

“Have you lived here long?” he asked the cashier as he paid for his shopping.

“All my life,” the man said, sounding proud. “I know I knock the place for being small and there’s not a lot to do here out of season, but I do love it. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Matt nodded. “Even in the winter, I imagine it’s still a lovely place to be.”

The man gave a good-natured laugh. “Come back in February when there’s a seventy-mile-per-hour gale coming in from the North Sea and see if you feel the same.”

“If the next fortnight goes well, I might just do that.”

“Well, if you do, I’ll be here.” He handed over the two bags of groceries. “Enjoy your stay. Hopefully I’ll see you around.”

Matt thanked him and left the shop.

That evening, it was difficult to imagine the brutal winter conditions the shopkeeper had spoken of. It was coming up to nine o’clock and the clear sky was deepening into shades of lapis and blueberry, marred by just a few wisps of cloud, high in the atmosphere. The perfect sky was mirrored on the still water of the harbour. The fishing fleet was home for the night, the boats lying motionless in their moorings.

There were a lot of people milling around the marina, couples and families enjoying the mild July weather. The bars and restaurants along the waterfront had set tables outside and looked to be doing a good trade. Matt had heard great things about The Lobster Pot, a bar-come-restaurant in the heart of the bay, and intended to treat himself to at least one good meal there during his stay—maybe one night next week when it wasn’t so busy.

He walked across the harbour, passing by the lifeboat station, towards the footpath back up to the house on South Bank Terrace.

Nyemouth’s lifeboat had made worldwide news the past summer when it was involved in the frantic rescue of the actor Arnie Walker and his young son. The publicity afterwards had brought hordes of tourists to the small seaside town. When Matt had been searching for a place in Northumberland to stay for his summer holiday, he’d almost discounted Nyemouth, remembering the scenes of chaos he’d seen on the news less than a year before. He wanted somewhere peaceful as a base for his hiking trips, and the interest Arnie’s rescue had created for the town made it far from ideal.

Matt had done some extra research and, while it was true that Nyemouth was now on the map as a major tourist attraction, the initial ghoulish interest people had taken in it had settled down, although he’d read that Arnie Walker was now a permanent resident here with a home on the north bank of the river. When Matt had discovered a house on the south side was available for the dates he required, those niggling concerns had disappeared.

Now he was here, breathing in the fresh sea air, and he knew he’d made the right choice.

At thirty-nine, Matt had no qualms about going on holiday by himself. He was a free man, able to do what he wanted and pursue his own interests without having to compromise for someone else. Some of his friends and colleagues had tried to talk him out of it and persuade him to join them for his summer break. Matt had no interest in their Spanish villas or their all-inclusive trips to the Caribbean. He’d always wanted to explore Northumberland, and now, divorced and one year short of his fortieth birthday, he intended to do exactly what he pleased.

Those same colleagues were always trying to fix him up with their gay friends. It was four years since he’d split with Clinton, and people seemed determined to pair him off with someone else.

It was all well-meant, but Matt didn’t need it. This was his time to do his own thing, and he intended to enjoy it.

He followed the path upwards, through the cobbled backstreets of the old town. Living in a city, albeit a modest one like York, gave him a greater appreciation of small towns and villages, especially those on the coast. The pace was much calmer here, more peaceful. He knew he was looking through the rose-tinted eyes of a tourist, but tonight he was happy in the belief that life was simpler in a place like this.

A middle-aged couple walking a small terrier smiled at him and nodded as they passed.

“Hey,” he said in return.

After a busy day at court, he looked forward to a quiet night in the holiday home. He would pour a glass of wine, order some food and unpack his stuff while waiting for it to arrive. He was too tired to explore the town this evening. There would be plenty of time for that tomorrow. He intended to get acquainted with Nyemouth this weekend, checking out the shops, pubs and cafés, before exploring the wider area next week.

Matt was a keen walker and hiker. Though the path from the marina to the house was steep, he managed it with the two bags of shopping without getting even mildly out of breath. The path levelled out as he reached South Bank Terrace and the last stretch was straight. The views from up here were second-to-none, taking in the entire valley and the river mouth. Maybe he’d be able to enjoy it with a glass of wine in the front garden before darkness cut in.

There were two men on the path that ran in front of the garden wall. He heard their raised voices as he approached.

“I’ve told you a million times before that the answer is no,” one of the men said. He was dressed in running shorts and a T-shirt—younger and slimmer than the other man. Pretty hot, Matt noticed the guy with long, muscular legs and dark brown hair that swept back from his face in luxurious waves.

“You’re being unreasonable,” the second man said. His voice sounded tight, like he was speaking through gritted teeth. He was stocky and thickset, with closely cropped grey hair and a narrow face. He wore grey suit trousers and a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up and the neck open.

“You’re the one who followed me up here,” the younger man said, sounding like he was close to losing it.

“What was I supposed to do? You won’t answer your damned phone. You don’t respond to my voicemails.”

“Don’t you get it, Vince? I blocked your number. I’ve told you before—I don’t know how many times—but I’ve had enough.”

A lover’s tiff, Matt guessed, though they seemed an unlikely couple. The young guy could do so much better for himself. Not that looks were everything, but he was way out of the older man’s league. Matt gave them a wide berth as he passed, but came close enough to see just how attractive the young man was. He had large, expressive eyes, a long, straight nose and a wide mouth. He looked wholesomely handsome in his running gear, giving off cute Clark Kent vibes.

The other man, he realised, was not as old as he’d first seemed, maybe early-to-mid-thirties. His prematurely grey hair and sharp features created a false impression. Even still, the two men did not look well matched.

“Just come with me,” the older man, Vince, snarled. “Listen to what I have to say.”

“Vince, I’ve heard everything before. There’s nothing you can say now that will make any difference.”

“How do you know if you won’t give me a fucking chance?”

Matt opened the gate and carried his shopping to the front door. He would not get involved. As a lawyer, he spent his entire working life dealing with the relationship problems of other people. These were two grown men. They could sort out their own issues. He put the key in the door.

“Get off me,” the young man snapped.

Matt glanced back to see him pull his arm out of Vince’s grip, and the man immediately lunged for him again. The young man dodged the grip.

“Stop being such a prick,” Vince said, his voice much louder now.

Matt groaned. This had the potential to get out of hand. He’d witnessed this kind of behaviour so many times—not just through work and handling messy divorce proceedings, but at home. Throughout his childhood, his father had been a pig, quick to anger and keen to use his fists. Matt didn’t want to get involved, but he couldn’t ignore this either.

“Is everything okay, fellas?” he asked, turning to face them.

Vince snapped his head around in his direction. “Piss off and mind your own fucking business. Prick.”

Matt ignored him and directed his gaze at the younger guy.

The man forced a smile. “It’s fine. Really.”

Matt nodded, unconvinced, but reluctant to involve himself any further in what was clearly a domestic argument. He carried his bags inside and through to the kitchen. As he put his supplies into the cupboard and the fridge, he could still hear their raised voices.

Vince sounded like the worst type of man—the kind of inadequate dickhead who tried to compensate for his own shortcomings with bullying and aggression. Matt knew the type well, having grown up with one until the age of twelve, when his mother had finally thrown his father’s sorry arse out. And he’d represented so many women and children during divorce and child protection cases who’d been caught up in relationships with controlling men.

Although he wanted to leave them to it, Matt’s conscience wouldn’t allow him to. He went into the living room and watched them through the window, hoping their argument would die down before it got any worse.

The young man had his hands up, warding Vince off to no effect as the little man puffed himself up and tried to get in his face.

“You stupid little prick,” he heard Vince say. “You’re worthless, you know that. Nothing. You were no one when I met you and you’re no one again.”

The skin of the young man’s face and neck was flushed. “If that’s how you feel, why don’t you go? Go on, and leave me alone.”

“I can’t leave you alone,” Vince said, changing tack. “You need me, Jake. You can’t get along without me. You’re useless on your own. You can’t cope.”

The young man, Jake, turned his back and tried to walk away. Vince grabbed his arm again and hauled him around, pulling him close, then wrapped his arms around him, taking him in a bear hug.

“Let go of me,” Jake protested.

“Enough of this shit. We’re going home.” Vince tried to lift him up and carry him.

Jake struggled, twisting out of his grip. Vince raised his hand to strike him.

Matt had seen enough. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned on the video camera as he headed for the door. He was filming when he stepped outside, training it on the two men. They might not like it, but he was determined to have a clear record of what happened next in case he had to call the police to deal with them.

As Matt walked down the path, Vince hauled back and struck Jake, his fist connecting with the side of his face, sending the young man sprawling to the ground.

“What the hell?” Jake complained, scrabbling backwards in the dirt, shuffling on his butt to escape his attacker.

“Stop pissing about and get the fuck home,” Vince jeered. “I’ve had enough of this fucking around. Do what I tell you to for once.”

Matt’s own anger mounted. Now that things had turned violent, he couldn’t let it continue. “Pack it in,” he shouted, coming to the end of the garden path.

Vince twisted in his direction. Matt saw the uncontrolled emotions flicker across his face—surprise, confusion, anger, then the aggression was back. He bared his teeth like a feral dog. “I’ve told you once already. Piss off and mind your own business.”

“I was prepared to do just that,” Matt said, keeping his voice calm and even, like a headmaster addressing a petulant teenager. “But when you throw your fists about, I can’t let that go. And, yes, I got that punch you just threw on camera, in case you’re wondering. It’s something I’m sure the police will be interested to see.”

Vince’s focus flickered between Matt and Jake. The bastard was no longer so sure of himself.

“This is a private matter. Nothing to do with you or the cops.” He puffed out his chest as he spoke, trying to assert his manhood.

“Again,” Matt said, amazed by his own composure, “that was the case until you started punching in the street. Now, it’s very much a matter for the police. Why don’t I call them and see what they think about it?”

“You fucking busybody… You should stop twitching your curtains and getting involved in things that have nothing to do with you.”

Matt kept the camera trained on him. “You’re not very bright, are you, Vince? For the third time, you made it my business. Now, are you going to take yourself off down that hill, or do I have to call the police to do it?”

Vince strutted towards the garden gate. “Why don’t you try to make me? Show me if you’re man enough to take me on.” He clenched his fists.

Matt wouldn’t fight him, but there was a good chance Vince would take a swing at him, regardless. “We have different ideas of what makes a man,” he said. “Violence won’t get you anything other than jail time, Vince. Even if Jake there doesn’t want to press charges against you, my testimony and video evidence will be enough to charge you and get you in front of the local magistrates on Monday. Is that the way you want this to go? To spend the weekend in a police cell? Or would you rather leave before you make it any worse?”

Stalemate. They glowered at each other across the fence. Bigger and more menacing men than Vince had tried to intimidate Matt, and he had not backed down. He wasn’t about to cave under the glare of this prize arsehole.

Vince’s face twisted in an ugly expression before he spat at the ground. He stepped away, turning his back on Matt. “Are you coming?” he demanded of Jake, who had risen to his feet and stood brushing the dust off his shorts. Matt noticed a smear of blood on the younger man’s face.

Jake shook his head. “Just go—and leave me alone. I don’t want to see you again.”

Vince loitered, his fists still clenched, his arms trembling.

There’s so much anger simmering under his lid that he looks like he’s about to explode.

“I think the message is clear,” Matt said. “Why don’t you do everyone a favour and leave?”

“Fuck you,” he said at last, his voice low and contemptuous. And as a parting shot to Matt, “Cunt.”

He strutted down the road, his shoulders back, knees wide, trying to look like a big man.

Matt, realising he’d been holding his breath, exhaled.

This was not the quiet evening he’d intended for the first night of his holiday.

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About the Author

Thom Collins

Thom Collins is the author of Closer by Morning, with Pride Publishing. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonkbusters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age, but since taking his first cruise in 2013 he realized that sailing is the way to go.

You can take a look at Thom’s Blog and follow him on Twitter.

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Book Blitz: Beast by Cambria Hebert #fairytales #retelling #romance @cambriahebert

Beast
Cambria Hebert
(House of Misfits, #4)
Publication date: November 12th 2021
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Fairy Tales, Retelling, Romance

A tale as old as time…

A charismatic man cannot see beyond his own
brilliant reflection, never learning that true beauty lies within.
His selfish behavior draws the ire of a witch with enchantment on her wicked tongue.
A fiery curse is unleashed, engulfing the self-centered man’s entire existence.
When at last the flames are extinguished,
he gazes upon his reflection to discover he is no longer breathtakingly handsome
but condemned with scorched flesh and twisted scars.
He is no longer a man at all… but a beast.
While the ferocious beast rages, alienating everyone far and wide,
a woman whose beauty is far more than skin-deep
dwells in a world much simpler than his.

The beauty’s quiet life is disrupted when she is ambushed, threatened,
and boldly steps in the path of her father’s debt.
However, it’s not the thugs on her tail or the roaring beast
testing her patience that threatens to be this sassy beauty’s downfall.
It’s the way her heart flutters whenever he is near.

But some curses just can’t be broken, and really…
How can she truly ever love a beast?

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

“How long has it been since you’ve had a shower?”

“Are you saying I stink?” I yelled.

“Yes,” she deadpanned.

I drew back, shock rendering me silent.

“Damn. Is that all I had to do to get you to shut up all this time? Just tell you, you stink?”

I low growl vibrated my throat. It hurt, but I didn’t stop.

Her eyes rolled. Their color was beautiful, reminding me of roasted chestnuts from street vendors around the holidays.

I wondered if I’d even be able to walk the street this year. My face would probably scare everyone.

“I’m asking because now that your bandages and stitches are removed, it would be a good time to shower off before I re-cover it all.”

“I haven’t had a shower since before. Only a couple sponge baths.” Then a piece of the old me slipped out, a piece I’d thought had been gone for good. Leaning in with a slight smirk and naughty whisper, I asked, “You offering to give me a sponge bath?”

Without missing a beat, she also leaned in. “I guess I am.”

The messy room fell away, and for a moment, I forgot I was a hideous, exposed beast overwhelmed with discomfort and cast aside by the people I’d trusted. All that remained was a pair of hickory eyes regarding me with sassy mirth. Her crimson-stained lips pursed, and my eyes lingered upon them, suddenly so incredibly hungry. Unlike mine, her skin was flawless, smooth, and richly pigmented.

She’s beautiful.

The long column of her neck was graceful and always exposed because the curls on her head were short and wild. My fingers itched to wrap around it, gripping with just enough force to possess her while my mouth devoured hers.

“What’s the matter, Ander? Not used to someone calling your bluff?” Her voice was amused but hushed, and something deep inside me howled in delight that she might not be as composed as she portrayed.

I leaned closer, noting the way her nostrils flared. We were so close now we shared the same breath. Hers smelled faintly of mint and was more rapid than before. “Who said I was bluffing?” I whispered.

Her cheeks turned slightly reflective, taking on a glossy sheen, and she pulled back, eyes flaring just a bit. She was flustered.

Author Bio:

Cambria Hebert is an award winning, bestselling novelist of more than twenty books. She went to college for a bachelor’s degree, couldn’t pick a major, and ended up with a degree in cosmetology. So rest assured her characters will always have good hair.

Besides writing, Cambria loves a caramel latte, staying up late, sleeping in, and watching movies. She considers math human torture and has an irrational fear of chickens (yes, chickens). You can often find her running on the treadmill (she’d rather be eating a donut), painting her toenails (because she bites her fingernails), or walking her chorkie (the real boss of the house).

Cambria has written within the young adult and new adult genres, penning many paranormal and contemporary titles. Her favorite genre to read and write is romantic suspense. A few of her most recognized titles are: The Hashtag Series, Text, Torch, and Tattoo.

Cambria Hebert owns and operates Cambria Hebert Books, LLC.

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Release Blitz & Review: Shakedown by Lani Lynn Vale #contemporaryromance #bookreview

Shakedown

Souls Chapel Revenants MC Book 8

Lani Lynn Vale

Release Date: November 9, 2021

About the Book

Wanted: someone to hand feed me Doritos so my hands don’t get orange. No weirdos.

Belle Pena was an editor. Not a writer.

When her brothers challenge her to create a dating profile, she makes up the most random biography she can think of. She never, not ever, thought she’d find anybody to respond. But she was sorely mistaken.

Sadly, she finds that she has way more interest than she ever could’ve imagined.

But only one profile catches her eye.

Bruno never meant to take the dating app seriously. Being the last single man in his band of misfits, he’s happy being the odd man out. Women spelled trouble, and he had enough trouble in his life to last him through the next decade.

Only his newfound family doesn’t feel the same. One innocent ‘sure’ has the women of the Souls Chapel Revenants MC creating him a dating profile that is too spot on to be comfortable. And just when he decides to delete the app entirely, a particular face catches his eye.

One innocent question of ‘Belle is that you? Do you remember punching me in the throat in high school?’ has him stepping into trouble neck deep, and he doesn’t even realize it until it’s too late.

Purchase Links

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✦ Apple: https://apple.co/3Cm2q36  

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MY REVIEW – 5 stars!

Bruno and Belle are beyond perfect for each other! I loved how sweet he was – but only with Belle. He understood her needs and accommodated her without question and without being asked. Only for Belle will he smile. Bruno falls for her hard and fast, and once he’s in, he’s ALL in!

Belle thought she’d be alone forever. What man would ever deal with her issues about being touched? Bruno will! She didn’t want anything to do with him at first, but Bruno grows on her. Soon she can’t imagine her life without him.

Danger. Drama. Hot sex. Shakedown has all the things I live about Lani Lynn Vale’s books. As always, it left me wanting more.

*Disclaimer: I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review. The review above is only my opinion.

About Lani Lynn Vale

Lani Lynn Vale is a Wall Street Journal & USA Today Bestselling Author of over thirty titles. She is married with three children, two dogs, two cats, a donkey, and a couple (a couple also meaning over twenty) chickens.

When she’s not writing, you can find her curled up in her favorite chair reading.

Lani is married with three children and lives in the Great State of Texas.

Website: http://www.lanilynnvale.com/

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Book Blitz: Reborn by Anne K. Whelan #paranormalromance @XpressoTours

Reborn
Anne K. Whelan & Liz Cain
(The Royal Pack Trilogy, #1)
Publication date: August 13th 2021
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

Imagine waking up on the edge of the woods with no memory of who you are or how you got there.

When Aine finds herself in this situation, she must rely on the kindness of others to get back on her feet.
With the help of a handsome Irish stranger she starts a new life, but her memories soon claw their way out and she can’t outrun her duty.

A story of intrigue, discovery and the corruption of ambition. Aine must figure out her past, before the life she can’t remember is destroyed.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

As she walked back to her seat, the large glass doors at the front opened, and a tall, muscular man walked in. Aine froze as a quiet growl escaped her throat and her muscles tensed. He moved with a lethal, controlled grace. She dropped into a crouch as she watched his muscular frame push the door closed.

He had rough facial hair along a prominent jaw, his ice-blue eyes were cold with inexplicable anger as he looked at her. His hair was dark chocolate brown, slightly grey around his ears.

Dizziness overtook Aine as he walked forward—not the best moment to be left vulnerable. Her instincts screamed at her to escape. The little energy the food had given her drained away as she faced him, ready to fight.

The man frowned, as he looked her in the eyes, and when her gaze met his, a jolt of recognition shot through her. Confused, she growled a warning. The kitchen door slammed behind her, and Aine quickly turned to keep both entrance and exit in view.


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