Release Blitz: I, Volcano by Eule Grey #LGBTQ #sciencefiction @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: I, Volcano

Series: Volcano Chronicles, Book One

Author: Eule Grey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/23/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 62300

Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, new adult, alternate universe, bisexual, lesbian, action/adventure, illness/disease, intercultural, doctors, musician, enemies to lovers, folklore, ocean/sea creatures, hurt/ comfort, tear-jerker, grieving, survivor’s guilt

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Description

According to ancient rhymes, the islanders of Ansar and Skarle are children of the volcano, born of fire and destined to be lovers. After the eruption, the prophecies are forgotten as all are forced to flee. Nobody cares about silly nursery rhymes now, certainly not Jalob.

When shy medic Jalob Baleine heads to war, it isn’t for romance. She only wants to help refugees who have no home or allies. Because they are kin. Jalob was born under the same glowering volcano, on an idyllic island surrounded by dolphins. Like the refugees, she fled the lava and secretly cherishes the old ways.

She falls asleep, ignoring the pull of tides, and dreams of a loving touch. Who doesn’t? And sure, maybe Jalob hasn’t felt whole for years, but war isn’t the time for fantasies. She keeps to herself and hopes someone else will sort the war out. One woman can’t heal the world. After all, she has enough to do, what with tending the sick and her supervisor, Susan, always on her back.

Then Jalob meets stroppy violinist, Corail Esplash. After an explosive introduction, they’re forced to spend time together. Stress makes them long for a reprise, and a fragile line dances between love and hate. Inevitably, the young women exchange island stories. Corail is head-strong and rude, a typical Ansar who loves to tease and be chased. And Jalob—strong, loyal, from Skarle—has such fast legs… Could the old rhymes about destiny be right? Ah, fate.

Death and war are relentless enemies, and difficult choices lie ahead. Can a shy girl rekindle the power of a dead volcano and harness the ocean? One woman can’t heal the world, but maybe Jalob is the only one who can save Corail.

Excerpt

I, Volcano
Eule Grey © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The news on TV isn’t good. Refugees march across Mainland with no place to go.

Dad sighs. “Why? What can anyone achieve by systematic annihilation? Why do some people want to own the world?”

“Supremacy?” I guess. The ways of angry people have always been a mystery to me. “I don’t understand either. Why is there so much hate?” I did world history in school and know the basics, but it doesn’t really help. There’s never been peace, despite Mainland being filled with people from all creeds. “There must be wrongs on both sides.”

Dad stirs his tea vigorously. Brown liquid sloshes over the rim. One of these days he’s going to break that mug. “I’m not so sure. It’s territorial, like always,” he says ruefully. “We should be safe.”

Mainland is more than thirty miles from where we live on the island of Farland. Our small-island laws and rules are thankfully removed from Mainland dictation and, by and large, they leave us alone. My people have a long history of looking the other way. Not very admirable, but it has its plus points.

“Yes, but what about them?” The news is full of footage of little kids and old people being carried in supermarket carts. “Will anyone help?” I lean into Dad’s solid frame, glad to be safe in our cottage. We don’t have much, but we sleep at night and have enough to eat.

I remember what it’s like to leave at midnight, knowing you’ll never see home again.

He pats my knee. “I don’t know. Macke says they’ve already started arriving in boats. Families mostly.”

“From where?” I try to think back to geography lessons and books. Although I’ve done well in medical studies, I was no good at other lessons. “From Esk? Isn’t that the nearest coast?” I love Esk. We used to row there often to spend weekends and holidays. “I hope it doesn’t get ruined by war.”

Dad tuts. “Jalob! People are much more important than buildings.”

“I know that. I just don’t get why countries can’t solve things by talking.” The truth is, seeing the refugees is more than disturbing. It’s easier to pretend all the trouble can be solved with a chat than to acknowledge it probably can’t.

“A country behaves the same as an individual,” he says. Any minute now, he’s going to bring up me being bullied at school. “When one person is stronger than the other, or maybe, angrier, more damaged, more hurt, sometimes being friends isn’t an option. You can’t have a conversation if the other person isn’t listening.”

“Mm.”

“Friendship is a privilege, not a given right. Remember when you were at school, and—?”

“I get it, I get it. I’m being selfish. It’s just hard to imagine when you’re seeing it on TV. What even started this war? I don’t mean all the petty arguments. I mean, what was the actual cause?”

“Do you know nothing of the world? It’s your history too.”

I shrug. “I know potatoes make excellent chips and fried eggs are good to dip. What goes on in Mainland isn’t my business.” I’m uncomfortable he’s trying to make this war relevant to me. I don’t mind hearing about Skarle, but I don’t want to start thinking about boats and refugees. It’ll only lead to images of volcanoes and what happens when people can’t get away.

He shakes his head and laughs. “Always thinking with your stomach! What do you mean it’s not your business? Mainland Ansars originate from the islands.” He looks at me meaningfully. “You know—our islands. They’re different from our island Ansars, sure, and they left hundreds of years ago, but still. They’re our people, Jalob.”

Ours? From what I remember, island Ansars certainly didn’t belong to anyone.

“Mm. I know that much.”

Ansars fascinate me. Since I can remember, I’ve had a crush on an Ansar—Berl. Fish and frogs, is she gorgeous! Tall, slim, messy long hair, and full of cutting sarcasm. Everyone fancies her. I’ve always kept out of her way. People like that don’t want to associate with the likes of me.

On the last night of our final school term, students had been allowed to gather. She’d got out a guitar and sung all night. It was spellbinding. I waited until everyone had left, just to watch her pack away. Just to make the evening last a little longer. Maybe I hoped she might talk to me? Skarles and Ansars have a long history. And, like Dad says, we come from the same place.

Berl noticed me, standing by the big oak tree. She sauntered over and looked me up and down. “You’re massive. Are you Skarle?” she asked.

“Um. Yes. I mean. I was. Until the volcano. Yes. Um.”

“Um? What are you, a bee?”

“Sorry.”

I thought she was going to be rude, like she normally is. When she kissed and started touching me, I actually thought I was drunk and hallucinating. It was the best night of my life.

When she unbuttoned my top, I was so excited I didn’t know what to do, so I just watched her do it.

Being tall, big, and clumsy, I’m all the opposites to her. I could probably have lifted her up with one hand if I had wanted to. That night, though, I hadn’t felt very strong at all. She took my top off, unzipped me, and then squeezed and prodded at me. I didn’t know what it was supposed to feel like. Even now, I’m not sure I liked it that much.

Then she walked off, like nothing had happened.

Didn’t answer any of my messages afterwards. I suppose one day, I’ll stop thinking about her and wishing for what can’t be.

Dad gets into his stride. “Over the years, they’ve become undesirable in Mainland. I suppose that’s the word. I don’t know how it started, but Mainlanders started squeezing them out. There were protests, but nobody can stand up to an army. Looks like they’ve ordered the Ansars out of eastern Mainland. But why? Those poor people have to live somewhere.”

“It’s really worrying. Are Ansars safe here in Farland?”

“Are you thinking about that girl?” Dad pats my knee. “She’ll be fine. Mainlanders have no jurisdiction here.”

“Girl? Who?”

“You know who. Berl.”

“Oh! Hah-hah. I wasn’t thinking about her. I’ve moved on,” I lie. “Haven’t seen her since college.”

“She isn’t worth the time you spent pining,” Dad says. “Didn’t have the decency to answer your calls.”

“It’s fine. I couldn’t care less.” I’m absolutely not going to talk about dates with my father. “We can’t just watch.” I nod at the TV, wanting Dad to stop scrutinising me. Sometimes I think he reads my mind. “We have to help.”

Watching Ansar people in trouble is different to seeing Farland folk in trouble. I’d still be upset, but this is more. It’s not like watching people fight and knowing you can step in and help. It’s more like, I’m in the fight and on the losing side.

“Actually—” He starts to speak and then turns away, biting his lip.

“What?”

“It’s just. Well. The International Agency is asking for medics to volunteer.” He speaks slowly, like he might be already regretting it. “It’s nothing. Forget I said anything.”

“For what?”

“Doctors, nurses, anyone medical. All those people walking miles need medical treatment.” He shakes his head and sighs. “The camps must be crying out for help.”

It’ll be another two months before I’m a qualified medic. I haven’t considered doing anything except work at the local hospital and stay with Dad.

“Oh.” I speak fluent Ansar and am used to working with all kinds of people. Theoretically, I could offer. “Do you think they’d accept me? I don’t have any experience except college. I expect they’ll get a lot of applications from some great medics. They don’t want someone like me. I’m sure there’ll be others who can do it better.” Like always.

“Jalob,” Dad tuts. “Why do you have such little confidence in yourself?”

I wait for him to say, Believe in yourself; you’re a great girl, so I can nod without having to answer. He doesn’t though. He waits for me to speak. I blush up like a big red stupid letter box. “I dunno” is the best I can manage. “Stop looking at me.” I stand and head for my bedroom.

“Jalob,” Dad calls.

I lock the door and flop onto my bed. I can’t stand another round of Dad therapy. I hear the words, but they just bounce off my skin. I wish he was right—that I’m a great person who only needs a chance to prove myself.

Truth is, I’m just me. When has that ever been good enough?

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Eule Grey has settled, for now, in the north UK. She’s worked in education, justice, youth work, and even tried her hand at butter-spreading in a sandwich factory. Sadly, she wasn’t much good at any of them!

She writes novels, novellas, poetry, and a messy combination of all three. Nothing about Eule is tidy but she rocks a boogie on a Saturday night!

For now, Eule is she/her or they/them. Eule has not yet arrived at a pronoun that feels right.

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Release Blitz: A Scheme of Sorcery by Ennis Rook Bashe #fantasyromance #LGBTQ @niinestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: A Scheme of Sorcery

Author: Ennis Rook Bashe

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/16/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 74800

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Romance, fantasy, new adult, other-world, non-explicit, lesbian, cisgender, enemies to lovers, knights, magic users, royalty

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Description

Palace squire Edwynne Dovecote has discovered her life is a lie. She wasn’t born into the nobility- she’s a daughter of the North, an inhospitable country where people worship a mysterious goddess. Even if it puts her at odds with her adopted family, she’s determined to explore her heritage, as long as no one finds out who she truly is.

But Sariva al-Beroth, an ambitious Northern girl who’s started working for the queen, is sick of rude outsiders gawking at her culture. She refuses to be in the same room as Edwynne, let alone share ancestral secrets.

Then the queen falls under a curse, and only Sariva and Edwynne can rescue her. To save their country, they’ll have to survive a ruined underground castle infested with ghosts, a fascist uprising prepared to sway public opinion with mind-control magic… and each other.

Excerpt

A Scheme of Sorcery
Ennis Rook Bashe © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Sariva couldn’t finish the beaded bag before her caravan reached the castle, so she tidied away her supplies and peeked out the carriage window. “Are we—”

“Don’t worry, miss, we’re not going past the haunted ruins.”

Strange. She’d only wanted to know when they’d arrive.

The carriage rolled over uneven streets made of pale mountain stone, passing low whitewashed houses with flat-eared cats on their doorsteps. The scent of daffodils and cyclamen filled the air as distant silver bells rang, calling people to pray to the sky. Even without the bag completed, her outfit seemed presentable. Everyone who noticed her would believe she belonged. Did she appear marriageable though? She touched the swirl of her plaits. Her rhinestone hairpins still held. Would anyone be able to tell how she’d altered her mother’s old dress? Would they think of her as resourceful or unfashionable? Shining gates swiveled open, presenting a terraced courtyard, a burbling fountain, and tall palm trees in painted pots. As the carriage driver halted his bay roans, she rubbed her heirloom moon pendant for reassurance as her mother had so often done.

A slender woman with warm-olive skin hurried across the courtyard, sandals pattering on the stone. She bobbed a curtsy and shook Sariva’s hand in both of hers. “So pleased to finally meet you. I’ve had the honor of reviewing your list of qualifications and your letters of recommendation—we’ve all agreed you’d be a lovely addition to the queen’s service. Lady Ava of Valency, and you are Lady…Broth, is it?”

“Sorry, it’s Be-roth.” No one ever got her name right. “Rolled R, accent on the second syllable.”

“Well, I’m pleased to make your acquaintance. We have a formal dinner among the court tonight—I have time to show you your quarters.” They left the courtyard through an archway and turned onto a path between ornamental lemon trees.

A young woman passing by in the other direction paused with a displeased moue, raising plucked-thin eyebrows. “Oh, I wasn’t aware of a foreign dignitary arriving today.”

“Lisette, this is Lady Sariva Beroth. Her parents fled serving the sultan, and we’re even luckier to have her at our Almesian court.” Ava gestured to the woman. “Lady Sariva, may I introduce you to Lady Lisette? She is a splendid dancer.”

“Bah-rroth?” Lisette’s delicate features creased, perplexed with worry. “I’m so sorry, your name is just so hard to pronounce. What does it mean?”

“It means cypress,” Sariva began, feeling suspicious, “but—”

Lisette beamed. “It would be so rude to get your name wrong, right? I mean, I’d absolutely hate myself for mispronouncing it. I’ll just call you Lady Cypress if I have need of you, and then we can be great friends.”

Did Lisette think she’d change her surname just because fools kept mangling it? Absolutely not. Sariva made herself smile. “Indeed, I do look forward to us spending time together.”

“Yes, of course! Northerners are always awfully clever. If I have any figures to evaluate, I’ll be certain to call on you.”

She wanted to say “I’m horrid at sums” or “What next, will you accuse me of having killed infants for the Northern sultan?” Instead, she curtsied and nodded.

Even though nearly everyone who’d fled the North did so because they objected to the government or refused to serve in the military, people accused them of lying. Didn’t a fortune in furs hide amongst the Northern mountains, and weren’t all its inhabitants mages? Didn’t most people in the North worship the Goddess of All-That-Is? How could anyone flee the North with less than a fortune in stolen gold? Once a new pupil at the village school had told all the others, “Sariva’s family drinks blood. They only came south ’cause the people who didn’t worship their nasty Goddess caught them. That’s why her little brother is so weak because everyone else drinks his blood.” Of course, a lady didn’t stab classmates with pens or hit them over the head with writing tablets, more’s the pity.

Magazines included subtler taunts: concern about secret mages, wealthy Northerners harming trade, assuming even refugees from the North supported the sultan’s every policy. In the city, maybe people would only mangle her name, not her reputation. She remembered her mother’s words: “It’s much more cosmopolitan in the capitol, my dearest. Islanders, desert nomads, people of the tree faith, and of course, plenty of Northerners if you feel homesick or want others to pray with—even though many of them support the sultanate, my friends say you’ll meet some lovely young radicals.”

Sword crashed against sword. Voices shouted. Would she need to run for her life? “Is there some sort of trouble?” Her town’s largest Northern specialty store had gone up in flames a few months ago. She’d heard about a timed fire-starting charm amongst the sacks of imported food, customers praying as they ran for their lives. Swinging her shopping sack, she’d turned the corner and stopped, mouth open. In childhood, she’d picked out ornately carved candles for the family’s rituals there.

Ava gave a reassuring smile, waving off her concerns. “It’s only the squires practicing. In summer they stage mock sieges in the cellars, but this time of the year, they still use the outdoor ring.”

“How…nice.” Her heart still pounded. Would it ever stop?

“Indeed, our knights are some of the most adept on the continent. We might go watch them if you wish.”

Sariva would rather stitch a tapestry of a battle than ride off to join one, but she liked the idea of strong warriors protecting her. “Of course.”

She followed Ava down the path and into a field. In a makeshift arena of packed dirt and wooden stakes, surrounded by tiers of stone benches, trainees brawled with blunt weapons.

The scrawniest one had the upper hand.

His hair shone a muddy, undistinguished color, clay and ochre; his body appeared sparse of all but knees and elbows like an over-articulated marionette. But he fought like a mosquito the bigger boys attempted to swat—dodging, weaving, shoving others in front of him as impromptu shields. One by one, the others trailed from the arena, nursing bruises and casting baleful glares.

Sariva saw the squire’s face—small pointy chin, full sulky lips. “That squire, the short one…are they a girl?”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Ennis Bashe is a queer disabled graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, proud cat parent, and prolific writer of romance novels and novellas. Their poetry has appeared in Strange Horizons, Liminality Magazine, Writers Resist, and Cicada, and their short fiction has appeared in The Future Fire, Mirror Dance, and Resistor Vol. 2, among others. Find them on Twitter at @RookTheBird, and sign up for their newsletter at http://www.tinyletter.com/rookthebird

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Release Blitz: Real Players Never Lose by Micalea Smeltzer #ContemporaryRomance #SportsRomance @micaleasmeltzer @greyspromo

Real Players Never Lose by Micalea Smeltzer is now live!

I’ve heard the whispers on campus of what a player Teddy McCallister is. Most girls on campus are vying to be the one, but guys like him don’t settle down.

When he overhears that my tuition has been pulled and I’m going to basically be a college reject he makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

Be his fake girlfriend until graduation so he can get his inheritance.

It seems simple enough. I need the money and he needs someone to make him look committed.

If one thing is certain, it’s that I won’t be falling for him. But no one warned me about what happens when my fake boyfriends starts to fall for me.

Download today or read for FREE with Kindle Unlimited!
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Meet Micalea Smeltzer

Micalea Smeltzer is a twenty-something author from Northern Virginia. She has four dogs, which is as crazy as it sounds. As a recent kidney transplant recipient she’s dedicated to raising awareness around the effects of kidney disease, dialysis, and transplant as well as educating people on living donation. When she’s not writing you can catch her with her nose buried in a book.
 
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New Release Blitz: Wicked Secrets by Angela Addams #BDSM #eroticromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

Wicked Secrets by Angela Addams

Word Count: 53,150
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 202

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE

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Book Description

Lexi had always hidden her dark desires…until she found him.

Lexi Monroe, one of Sabine Cowan’s most valued Kitty Cats, is set to retire from Cowan Enterprises, but just as she leaves her own farewell Kitty Cat party, she stumbles on a secret that could change Sabine’s world forever. But what she discovers is not a secret she can tell Sabine—not until she finds out the whole story. So instead, she enlists the help of hard-hitting, investigative reporter Sam Henderson to get to the bottom of things.

Sam’s always on the hunt for dirty deeds, so he agrees to work with Lexi. It’s not a hardship for him, however, since he’s got a thing for redheads and he finds Lexi simply irresistible. Even though Lexi doesn’t completely trust Sam to have Sabine’s best interests at heart—especially when a juicy story is in play—she believes that ultimately, he’ll always do the right thing. At least, that’s her hope.

Their chemistry is explosive, and in the process of uncovering the whole story, Sam and Lexi delve into their own dark secrets, revealing parts of themselves that they’ve never shared with anyone before. As terrifying as it is to be so vulnerable, both Sam and Lexi understand that the only way to get what they each want is to open themselves up to being hurt. But that’s hard to do when they are both hiding behind layers of defenses.

They must set aside their different approaches to life and love in order to save not only Sabine herself but also everything she’s built in Cowan Enterprises.

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of violence, catastrophic injury, depression, therapy, murder, and pain management.

Excerpt

If Sam Henderson died this very moment, it would be the death of a sexually frustrated man.

Sitting across from him was the object of his lust—the object of lust for thousands of men—and she was completely out of his league.

“Should we go with an easy question this time or a hard one?” Despite his cool exterior, Sam’s heart was pummeling his chest wall. His body was tight, and not just because his cock was already straining against his zipper. He was taut like elastic that was primed and ready for release.

Lexi Monroe, one of Sabine Cowan’s most popular Kitty Cats, sat in front of him appearing more gorgeous up close than she had in her promo videos—and that was saying a lot. A natural redhead, she was stunning to look at with her pale skin and freckles. She had pink, pouty lips that begged to be kissed and intense blue eyes that could cut a guy in half if he were the kind of guy who got flustered around beautiful women—which, apparently right now, Sam was.

“I like it hard, Sam.” Lexi twitched her lips into a wry grin, like a cat about to pounce on prey. “You’ve been teasing me all morning. Hit me with the hard stuff.”

I like it hard, Sam.

He groaned silently. He’d love to give it to her hard, right here, right now. He’d throw her over the back of that chair and pound her until she moaned.

Buying himself some time, he reached up and stroked his beard then glanced at his phone and his list of questions. “Why don’t you tell us what led to your decision to leave the Kitty Cats?”

When he looked up at her, she was staring intently at him, her focus shifting from him stroking his beard to his eyes. She bit her bottom lip and his whole body coiled tighter.

“She won’t be answering any questions about her decision to leave the Cats, Sam.” Adam, the security guard from hell, didn’t even look up from his phone when Sam snapped an angry look his way. “Or about the accident. I know Sabine set out her expectations with you.”

Fuck!

Sam prided himself on getting all the dirt, and so far in their long friendship, Sabine had blocked him from almost all the secrets she held, which extended right now to Lexi’s secrets as well.

He was no fool. He knew both Sabine and Lexi possessed some doozies. Sabine had built her empire on them, he was sure. But that was speculation on his part, because Sam wasn’t allowed to ask Lexi anything that could, even in some obscure way, uncover anything Sabine didn’t want to be leaked.

Which was why he’d been so damn surprised to receive a summons from the Queen of Sex herself to do an interview with one of her most beloved Kitty Cats.

Lexi was an athlete, a gymnast, a talented one too—or had been up until a year and half ago, when she’d somehow fallen wrong and had broken things that had required multiple surgeries and a lot of physiotherapy. It was another Lexi secret Sam had planned to dig into, but apparently that was not going to happen either.

“All right.” Sam shook his head as he scrolled through the list of questions Sabine had approved. “What would an aspiring Kitty Cat need to do to reach the level of success you have?” He looked up from his phone to find her staring at him again. This time, her gaze was roving over his chest and down one of his arms. She was obviously checking out his ink, and he had to admit that he liked the trail of heat her eyes left as she gave him a good once-over.

“Well, I guess…” Lexi’s voice was wispy, like she was distracted by something she found intriguing. She slowly shifted her gaze back up his body until she met his eyes, sending a jolt straight to his groin. “I suppose you should be open to all possibilities—and you need to be a people person. An aspiring Kitty Cat has to be loyal and really, really good at listening.”

“I’ve heard that you’re one of the best.” Sam clicked his phone off. This was not going the way he’d thought it would. “Which is why it’s so surprising that you’re leaving.”

Adam grumbled. Sam lifted his hand to wave him off.

“Sometimes you just have to move on.” Lexi shrugged, a gesture that looked practiced and full of shit. “It’s time to pursue other things.”

Sam leaned closer, intrigued by the look in Lexi’s eyes. She was lying—that was obvious—but was she lying more to herself or to him? She shifted her eyes to her lap and Sam felt it like a wall coming down between them.

When Sabine had asked Sam to interview Lexi as a farewell expose because the successful Kitty was hanging up her cat ears and calling it quits, he’d had a dozen ideas of how to make the piece explosive. So far, Sam’s questions had mostly been thwarted either by Lexi side-stepping and giving a less-than-intriguing response or Adam outright forbidding an answer. Sabine had wanted Sam to put together a fitting tribute as a farewell for her precious Kitty Cat, but that was looking more and more impossible, thanks to how secretive everyone was being. Sam had already lined up a trendy magazine to take this story, but right now he was honestly thinking that he’d have to back out of that contract, because he was getting nothing juicy to work with.

Sam sat back in his seat and draped his arm along the top of the couch.

Lexi had her hands in her lap, busy plucking with her fingers at invisible lint or something. Am I making her nervous? Or is she uncomfortable being interviewed? Sam had watched Lexi’s promo videos many, many times. He’d researched all the interviews she’d given over the years—which hadn’t been many, but still, in all that footage Lexi had been vivacious, outgoing and always smiling. The woman who sat with him now was a very subdued version of her former self.

“Tell me your most scandalous story, Lexi.” Sam leaned in closer, like they were old friends sharing secrets. He had to pull something tantalizing from this interview.

She flattened her hands on her lap then looked at him with her startling eyes and, once again, he felt like she’d harpooned him and was reeling him closer.

She smelled like apples and cinnamon, and that made his mouth water.

“Give me a secret no one knows. I promise I won’t tell anyone.” He winked.

She laughed, tilting her head back, her hair brushing over her shoulders. Her skin was so soft-looking, and he had the most impulsive urge to reach out and stroke along her arm.

When she looked at him again, her eyes sparkled with mischief, but only for a moment. Adam cleared his throat and she shuttered herself from Sam once again.

“If I told you that, I’d have to kill you.” Her gaze drifted to the windows. “You know I can’t tell you that kind of thing.”

Fuck, Sabine did know how to pick the loyal ones.

Lexi snapped her eyes back to meet his and she had a quirk of a smile on her lips, making him feel like she was playing him in some way he couldn’t figure out. Her eyes were alight with a wickedness that made his cock harden like cement. She leaned forward, almost beckoning him to move even closer to her…like she was about to tell him a secret after all.

Twenty seconds of intensity passed where neither one of them said a word, yet Sam’s senses were piqued and his body revved like he was hitting the gas, even though he had nowhere to go. He wanted to touch her, taste her. He wanted to hear her moan.

She leaned back first, putting distance between them, and Sam swayed toward her. This woman is pure magic.

He cleared his throat. “All right, then tell me what you look for in a man. What kind of bachelor might have some luck with a beauty like you?” He ran his fingers over his beard again, partly to disguise his embarrassment at asking such an amateur question and partly because he could tell that she liked it when he stroked his beard.

“Oh, I don’t know…funny, intelligent, hard-working.”

“Oh, come on, Lexi. That’s not even an answer.” Sam kept his tone light, like he was joking, when in reality he was dying to know the kind of guy who would attract a girl like her. “You might as well describe half the guys in the world.”

She snapped her eyes up and grinned that wicked grin. “Only half?”

He barked a laughed. He liked her sass. He wanted more.

The interview carried on like that for another twenty minutes, and Sam learned about her younger years as a gymnast, the time predating her Kitty Cat life. It was clear to him that she was an athlete at heart and that whatever had happened to her with the accident, and after, had destroyed a part of her in a devastating way.

Sam badly wanted to dig into that, to find out the details surrounding the mystery of her incident, but he knew he wouldn’t be getting that information from Lexi.

“Time’s up.” Adam walked closer, tapping at his phone without looking up. “Lexi has an appointment.”

“I think I’ve got everything I need,” Sam lied. He didn’t want to upset Lexi by saying he had no idea what the point of this interview even was. She’d given him nothing, and it was Sabine’s fault. She’d trained her Kitty Cats to be expert secret keepers.

Adam nodded once then turned and headed to the door. Lexi picked up her small purse then stood. Sam stood as well, not sure if he should shake Lexi’s hand or what. Suddenly everything seemed very awkward.

“Thank you, Sam.” She closed the distance between them.

Lexi was tall, which was unusual for a gymnast and something that she’d talked about in other interviews he’d watched. Her height had been held against her at times in competitions. Of course, she was a decorated gymnast, so she’d proven them wrong in the end, but still, she was supermodel tall, which was something Sam liked a lot. She was lithe and, of course, moved with grace. Sam could stare at her body for hours, mesmerized by how she seemed to float.

She sidled up close to him and invaded all his senses at once. Her body radiated heat, her pupils dilated, her breath, which was as fresh as mint, was hot against his neck. He froze, not wanting to scare her away, but inside he was a volcano of lust, his blood bubbling with desire. The chemistry between them was combustible.

Lexi put her hand on his forearm and leaned in so that her body was practically pressed against his. He could swear he felt her nipples bud against his forearm. Her luscious smell went straight up his nose to short-circuit his brain. She brushed her lips against his ear and whispered, “I’ve always had a thing for beards and tattoos. Maybe I’ll see you around.”

His cock pulsed, a reminder of his aching erection, and it took everything in his power not to chase after her as she walked away. He listened to her heels click on the foyer tiles.

“You’ve got the suite for the rest of the night, Sam. Checkout is eleven tomorrow,” Adam said just before the door whooshed shut.

Sam blew out a breath then ran his hand through his hair. He tugged it free from the tie that bound it at his neck.

Lexi had secrets…big ones. What Sam wouldn’t give to peel back the layers of that fine creature. He had to figure out a way to get close to her again.

Right now, he needed a cold shower—or maybe he needed to indulge himself and rub one off in a hot one instead.

He had his clothes off in record time and was under the hot spray, lathering himself up, his thoughts cycling around Lexi’s sexy voice. “I’ve always had a thing for beards and tattoos.” He groaned as he took his cock in hand and began to stroke himself. “Maybe I’ll see you around.” Fuck, yes, he’d be seeing her again. He wanted to rub his beard all over her body. He’d die to have her trace his tattoos with her tongue.

He’d love to take Lexi from behind, gather her hair in one of his hands and pound her sweet pussy until she screamed. He’d give anything for the chance to lick along every cut and angle of muscle her gorgeous body had until she moaned his name.

His balls tightened and he increased his stroking, applying pressure and letting his mind wander to how good it would feel to have Lexi’s mouth wrapped around his dick. He’d stretch her lips out and he could practically feel the barrier of her throat holding him back until, slowly and steadily, she took him all the way down.

His cum exploded like a fire hose, and he painted the wall of the shower with it. The release felt great—better than great—but it did nothing to abate his desire for Lexi or the ever-cycling thoughts about stripping her down and getting her naked—physically, but also mentally. He wanted to know what made a woman like that tick and he would love a second chance, without an audience, so that he could get to know her more intimately.

But women like Lexi were unavailable to guys like Sam. He was damaged goods, running away from his past—if only because he hated what his family stood for and wanted to put as much distance between his life and theirs as he could. Lexi wasn’t the only one with secrets.

He got himself rinsed off and cleaned up, then got out of the shower and toweled off. His tattoos looked darker when his skin was wet, more vibrant too. He took a minute to appraise his ink. Lexi liked tattoos, and that gave him a surprising jolt of pride. He didn’t have any room left on his arms, shoulders or upper chest, but he’d been planning to add some script to his stomach as soon as he had time to spare. Maybe he’d get that going while he was in Miami.

Lexi’s farewell Kitty Cat party was happening the next night and he could swing for another couple of days in Florida if it gave him the opportunity to do some recon. Obviously, he didn’t have an invite, but that had never stopped him before.

He continued drying off, noting that he still had a semi and could probably go a few more rounds with his hand to fully satiate himself. Now that he’d decided he’d be seeing Lexi again, he kind of wanted to hold off, to deny himself until he figured out how to get close to her.

He left the bathroom butt-naked and found his personal, non-work cell phone. There was one guy he knew would absolutely be at Lexi’s farewell party, and luckily he was an old friend who owed him one. He searched his contacts. He only used this phone on the rare occasion that he needed or desired to touch base with his past life. It had come in handy a time or two to set aside his reporter identity in favor of his actual one. He found the name he was looking for and hit Call.

“Samuel Dove, holy shit, man! How are you?” Devon Caldone was filthy rich—maybe not quite as filthy rich as the Dove family, but up there in terms of having a ridiculous amount of money, more now because of his celebrity status. Devon was a couple of years younger, but they’d gone to school together and he and Sam had been friends of sorts. They’d gone to the same parties, played the same sports, even ended up at the same university and pledged the same fraternity.

“I’m good, man. How are things with you?”

“Never been better! I’m in Miami right now, soaking up the sun, hanging with my girls. Where are you?”

“Miami too, actually.”

“No fucking way! We need to catch up.”

“Yeah, we do. Hey, listen… I heard you’re into those Kitty Cat parties. Do you know if there’s one coming up? I’d like to check it out if they’re as good as I’ve heard.”

“Oh, do I know of one? Hell yes! Tomorrow night, dude! I’ll get you in with my crew! It’ll be like old times. I’ll send a limo. Where are you staying?”

“The Grand.”

Devon whistled. “Of course you are. Only the best for my man, right?” He laughed to himself. “Okay, dude, we’ll swing by to get you around ten. Sound good?”

“Great. Thanks. I’ll catch you later.” Sam hung up, feeling only slightly guilty at the manipulation. It was sinful really, but Devon was desperate for acceptance and had always looked up to Sam. But it was a means to an end.

All he’d have to do was avoid Sabine somehow so she didn’t find out he was there, because if she did, she’d sure as shit have him thrown out immediately. No press was allowed. Luckily, Sabine only knew him as Sam Henderson and had no idea that he was actually Samuel Dove, sole heir to a multi-billion-dollar fortune, a fortune that he wanted very little to do with as long as his father expected him to take over the family business one day.

Sam was no stranger to going undercover. It wasn’t like he’d never played up the rich-guy angle before to get intel he needed, and he’d definitely tapped into his endless resources and connections thanks to his family name, but tomorrow night he’d step into the role of suave, wealthy bachelor, not to get a story, but to get a few minutes alone with the sexy Lexi Monroe.

Okay…maybe also to get a story.

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About the Author

Angela Addams

Angela Addams is an author of many naughty things. She believes that the written word is an amazing tool for crafting the most erotic of scenarios and likes telling stories about normal people getting down and dirty and falling in love. Enthralled by the paranormal at an early age, Angela also spends a lot of her time thinking up new story ideas that involve supernatural creatures in everyday situations.

She is an avid tattoo collector, a total book hoarder, and loves anything covered in chocolate…except for bugs.

She lives in Ontario, Canada in an old, creaky house, with her husband, children and four moody cats.

Sign up to Angela’s newsletter and check out her blog and website. You can follow Angela on Instagram and Pinterest, and find her at Amazon, Bookbub and Books & Main.

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Release Blitz: Survivors by Amy Marsden #paranormalhorror #LGBTQ @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Survivors

Series: Survivors, Book One

Author: Amy Marsden

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/16/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 88500

Genre: Paranormal Horror, LGBTQIA+, paranormal, bisexual, post-apocalyptic, dark, medical personnel, scientist, military

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Description

It’s Jennifer’s 24th birthday and she planned to spend it having fun with her friends. Instead, she ends up running for her life through the dark streets of London.

Her world is torn apart by a new disease, the likes of which have never been seen before. The government’s decision to conceal its deadly nature exacerbates the panic, and in all the confusion Jennifer is bitten by an infected person.

That’s it, right? Her life over.

Wrong.

Immune to the virus’s ravaging effects, Jennifer finds herself with a small group of survivors. Together they must fight to stay alive long enough for a cure to be found. Humanity won’t be beaten so easily.

But madness looms large, and safety seems forever out of reach.

Excerpt

Survivors
Amy Marsden © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
January 11th

Going to protests had become second nature to Jen. The gatherings were numerous, loud, and full of energy, but so far none of them had achieved anything. The world remained in the dark. Uncertainty pervaded the air like it had a physical weight, heavy and viscous, and Jen had long since grown used to it. She would be more uncomfortable if things were normal.

Fire threw orange light across the street, the shifting shadows dancing over riot gear as the crowd surged forward. Shouts and screams merged into a meaningless cacophony. Smoke hung over everything, obscuring people on the ground nursing broken noses, broken arms, broken legs. The camera spun in a disorientating way. Had the police attacked the news crew? Nothing would surprise her anymore. The roar reached a crescendo—

Jen switched the television off. Insecurity seemed constant, but she wasn’t going to let it ruin her twenty-fourth birthday. She’d seen it all before, anyway. The riots were becoming more and more frequent. She turned her attention back to the object in her hands and put all the confusion and dismay out of her mind.

The camera wasn’t the best on the market, but Jen loved it regardless, and she hadn’t been able to stop thanking her parents after they dropped it off yesterday. Jen liked the weight of it in her hands, ready to freeze everything away from the ravages of time. Her old camera had been damaged from years of use and abuse, and she vowed to take much better care of this one.

A sharp bang broke her concentration, and she jumped up as the door to the apartment burst open. What the—

“Jen? Damien?” Rhys’s strained voice sounded from the kitchen. What’s going on? He’d said he couldn’t make it tonight.

She entered the kitchen on light feet. If this was a prank for her birthday, she wasn’t going to be happy. She hated surprises.

“There you are,” Evelyn said. “C’mon, we have to go.” They were all there—Rhys, Evelyn, Amanda, and Rachel. Her friends. Instead of greeting her with smiles, hugs, and excitement, they looked scared, their bodies rigid as they stood in the kitchen. Rhys looked winded as he leaned on the kitchen counter, sweat running from his shaved head to his square jaw.

“What are you talking about?” Jen cut her laugh short as Evelyn threw a pleading look her way. This didn’t seem like a prank.

“Hey, guys,” Damien said as he entered the room, not a hair out of place. Jen had been ready for a good half an hour, but Damien had procrastinated and rushed to get dressed.

“Listen, we don’t have much time.” Rhys struggled to slow his breathing. Worry trickled down Jen’s back. This wasn’t like him at all. “I’m not even supposed to be here.” He still wore his army uniform. What are those stains?

“What’s wrong?” Damien asked slowly. Rhys wasn’t the type of person to play jokes on people.

Amanda shrugged. “I have no idea either. These two—” she gestured at Rhys and Evelyn as she shrugged out of her jacket and put her phone and purse on the counter “—found us walking up the stairs. Running like the devil was chasing them.”

“You all know about the new virus, right?” Rhys looked at them for confirmation, his dark eyes intense.

“Yeah, of course we do,” Jen said. People talked of little else. That and the less exciting news about a food recall and less on the shelves. “It’ll be okay. They’ll find a cure soon.” Conspiracies had sprouted up saying everyone who got the disease died, or the government had created it to stop overpopulation or some such nonsense. Fearmongering.

What worried Jen was how long they were taking to find a cure. With millions of people infected society had ground to a halt. Jen’s university had closed its doors last November, and she didn’t know when it would reopen. Restaurants and cafés had followed suit. It was a nightmare. Criminals became bolder too, with crime on the rise.

Quite a lot of the protests were about demanding to know what was going on. The majority of them devolved into riots these days, but the government kept assuring everyone they were doing all they could. Some people didn’t even believe the virus was dangerous.

“It’s much worse than the media is portraying—”

Rachel cut him off. “What do you mean ‘worse?’”

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Meet the Author

As a child Amy loved reading and writing, so naturally she graduated with a degree in biomedical science and has worked in a microbiology laboratory ever since. Her passion is writing however, and she started her first novel while still at university. When she is not writing about surviving apocalypses, exploring space, and conquering magic—all featuring LGBTQ characters—she can be found reading or playing games about those very things. She lives by the sea with her wife and fifteen-year-old cat who still runs around like a kitten.

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Release Blitz: Held for the Stud by Vonna Harper #eroticromance #BDSM @totally_bound @firstforromance

Held for the Stud by Vonna Harper

Word Count: 42,592
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 180

GENRES:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
EROTIC ROMANCE
FUTURISTIC

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Book Description

 

A man determined to have his way. A woman in need of taming. The battle begins.

One look at the big, half-wild stallion and Asha vows to ride him. One look at the beautiful stranger sneaking toward his newly acquired stud and Banner vows to teach her that he’s in control.

Banner is a soldier, a man who has experienced little beyond weapons and war, but he and the men he’s responsible for need more than conflict. Otherwise they’ll lose what’s left of their humanity. He turns abandoned ranch land into an escape and offers it to battle-weary fighters.

Nothing will stand in his way, especially not the slight, determined woman who insists that only she can handle Koko. He won’t allow her to risk her life. When she disobeys, he disciplines her. Repeatedly.

Asha loathes the man who brought her, naked, to her knees, but her body isn’t listening.

Reader advisory: This book includes references to sexual harrassment, PTSD and war injury. There are elements of corporal punishment and dubious/ambiguous consent.

Excerpt

What I wouldn’t give to ride him.

His energy and power everywhere, me becoming part of him. Heat, endless heat. Wild all the way to his core. His body in absolute control. No fear or doubt. Potent.

Even with her heart’s jagged pace warning she might be having a stroke, Asha continued to stare at the prime example of maleness. She’d seen unwavering confidence before. Hell, she was pretty damn confident herself. But this…

Not wanting to miss a moment of this rare experience, she willed herself not to blink. The object of her admiration was far enough away that she doubted the stallion was aware of her, but even if he locked his dark eyes on her, she’d go on staring open-mouthed at him. She had no choice.

You don’t have to chase after them, she silently told the stud. Females will always do whatever they think it takes to convince you to breed with them. You can be selective. You assess and most times reject because you know there’ll always be another. Only the best will do.

Sweat pooled at the base of her throat while another kind of moisture soaked her panties’ crotch. From first glance she’d known she couldn’t be objective about him, but she hadn’t realized her reaction would be so primal.

She’d caress that sleek dark flesh, run her fingers through long, coarse hair, climb onto his back and ride him until there was nothing left of both of them.

As if reading her thoughts, the stallion stared at her, a front hoof furiously attacking the ground. He wasn’t quite coal black, but close, with a tail that swept the ground and a rich, thick mane. Do it, he seemed to say. Take the chance.

“You’re tempting me.”

He whinnied, the sound sharp. His muscles repeatedly knotted as he continued his attack.

“There’s a mare in heat somewhere, isn’t there? You sense her. Maybe you smell her.”

Barely aware of what she was doing, Asha jammed her hands in her jeans’ back pockets. The gesture tightened the fabric against her crotch and brought her attention back to herself. “Is that it? You’re primed for breeding? You can’t think of anything else. Hot blood runs through you all the time, keeping you keyed-up. You’d service an entire herd if they let you.”

Head high and thick neck arched, the stallion pranced closer. There was a wooden fence between them, but even if it hadn’t been there, she wouldn’t have shied away.

“You don’t intimidate me. That’s because it’s possible I know more about how you’ll behave than you do. I respect you, but you need to do the same.”

The animal stopped and again beat at the ground. He shook his head, eyes showing more white now.

“You want to run, don’t you? Gallop without this corral hemming you in. Work off some of that energy. Believe me, I get it.”

Head now cocked to the side, the stallion seemed to be considering her proclamation. She took him to be a little over sixteen hands high and probably thirteen hundred pounds, the majority of it muscle. The way his coat shone, people who didn’t know horses would assume he got a lot of grooming, but his hooves were ragged, his mane and tail tangled.

“I’m guessing your coloring has a lot to do with why you were picked for stud service. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on. That’s why you aren’t out with the herd.”

Frowning, she fingered the lock on the corral door. She’d been looking for him since she’d ventured onto the mysterious place known as Escape, her attention initially drawn to whistles and thuds. Thanks to her career, she’d concluded she was listening to an agitated or aroused horse. The sounds and air of energy had drawn her magnet-like to this remote section of the acreage.

“It probably doesn’t matter to you, but I’ve been listening to you for a while, feeling you in my muscles and bones, letting you command me.”

Command. Yes, that was what it had been. Like a starving woman with the scent of something on a barbeque filling her senses, she’d made the decision to let instinct have its way with her. She had no business being here, but who would run her off? At what she understood was over a hundred acres, chances were she was the only human on most of them. It hadn’t been called Escape for long. A lot of mystery surrounded who owned it. She figured farmers or ranchers acquired the land which was dotted with a couple of barns and a sprawling older house.

Not that she should give a damn.

Command.

Pushing her hair out of her eyes—someday, maybe, she’d figure out how to contain the auburn mass that reached the middle of her back—she gripped the top board and gave the stud her full attention. She wanted him, to own and ride him, to love him and earn his respect. She’d slip a rope around his muscled neck and guide him to a tree stump or boulder. Using his mane for leverage, she’d half haul and half boost herself onto him. She’d settle her crotch on his broad back and tighten her thighs against testosterone-filled muscles. She’d weave fingers made strong from a lifetime of physical labor into his mane, lean forward and whisper in his alert ears.

“Run for me. Race the wind. Gather your legs under you and take us over the fence. Free both of us. Gallop until your lungs heave and I’m hoarse from screaming my delight.”

Her breath snagged, her cheeks burned and her muscles bunched in reaction to what she was certain the stallion was capable of. Her already charged pussy got into the act, muscles clamping down. Her nipples hardened and she gave up trying to close her mouth.

As if reading her thoughts, the stallion pranced even closer. He was all sexual energy, every inch of him leaving no doubt that he’d been created to excel at one task. She’d seen more stallions than most people, but there was something outstanding about this creature.

“You’re making me crazy.”

She should ask herself if she really wanted to confide in the stallion, but right now it was too much effort. She started to drop to her knees in preparation for wriggling under the fence when a shiver of sensation along her spine stopped her. Was someone watching? Assessing and judging her? She looked left, right, behind her and as far into the distance as she could. She didn’t see anything worthy of alarm but she’d been in enough precarious situations that she knew better than to dismiss what her nerves were trying to tell her.

To hell with it! Touching the stallion was more important.

Breathing quickly, she wriggled under the fence. As she straightened, the stallion pranced back.

“You can’t be afraid of me. I know it isn’t that. You just have trouble containing all that energy. God, but you’re magnificent. Devil and angel in one package.”

Talking took too much effort so she concentrated on wiping dirt off her jeans. Thinking she probably wouldn’t see anyone today, she hadn’t bothered with a bra, but then she rarely wore one. She was a C-cup, which meant people would notice, but bras weren’t worth the expense when being true to herself meant so much. Her untethered breasts and hard-as-hell nipples were clearly visible under the wear-softened cotton T-shirt.

If she were one for introspection this would be when she’d question why she’d decided to spend her day off exploring Escape. However, between being more than a little worn down from the long hike and her reaction to the stallion, she wasn’t sure she knew what she was thinking.

“Do you know what the phrase sex appeal means?” she asked the stallion. “What a woman is trying to get a man to understand when she tells him she’s turned on? Going by my less-than-extensive experience, I’m not an expert when it comes to putting out the right vibes.”

She clamped down on a chuckle. Her suspicion that some man might have his eye on her right now had twisted her thinking a bit. So she wasn’t as experienced regarding the opposite sex as she’d like people to believe. That was her business and had nothing to do with the moment. If a man was watching, he could come to his own conclusion. It wasn’t as if she had to have anything to do with him.

She again slid her hands into her back pockets. Fabric tightened.

“I don’t know if I’m going to sleep tonight. I’m also not sure I care. Damn, but you’re beautiful. One of a kind.” She paused as a surge of something hot ran through her. “Right now, I’d give anything to be a mare.”

As if agreeing with her, the big, black, glistening creature stretched out a densely muscled neck. Holding her breath, she dragged her right hand out of her pocket and extended it toward him. Warm, moist air caressed her fingers and sent a fresh frisson of excitement into her.

“Will you let me ride you? I didn’t bring a bridle or saddle, but I’ve ridden bareback more times than otherwise. As for a bridle…”

The thought of pushing a metal bar between those white teeth made her shudder. She didn’t want to command him in any way. As long as she was astride him, he’d be in control. She’d trust him not to throw her, to know she preferred a canter over a trot and a gallop over everything else. Together they’d run like the proverbial wind and win every race.

The stud drew her fingers into his mouth. She embraced the moment.

“I know you. I think in some regard I always have.”

Tears she didn’t know she had in her burned. Blinking repeatedly, she struggled not to let them loose. When they continued to threaten, she withdrew her damp hand and stroked his neck where muscles and veins pulsed. Maybe she could go from standing flat-footed to being astride him on will alone. She tightened a hand around the rough mane and crouched in preparation for springing. Nothing else mattered. In one or two seconds she’d—

“Don’t even think it!”

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About the Author

Vonna Harper

What prompts a mild-mannered mostly law abiding woman to write erotica and erotic romance, a lot revolving around BDSM and capture/bondage? Is it the complex issue of taking or giving up control?

Vonna Harper doesn’t know and she has given up trying to find the answer. It’s enough that many readers are drawn to what some call the dark side. All she asks is that readers understand she writes fiction–a brand of fiction she finds fascinating.

Vonna has lost count of the number of books, novellas, and short stories she’s written. What she has no doubt of, it’s a hell of a ride.

You can follow Vonna on Facebook.

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Release Blitz: Road to Revenge by Mell Eight #thriller #LGBTQ @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Road to Revenge

Series: Road to…, Book One

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/09/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40600

Genre: Contemporary Thriller, LGBTQIA+, terrorism, religious extremism, secret agents, international espionage, revenge, military

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Description

Rafi only wanted to spend a relaxing day in Tel Aviv with his lover, Mihi. When a bomb goes off outside the restaurant where they stopped for lunch, killing several people and leaving Mihi in critical condition, Rafi vows to catch the culprits and make them pay. Set on revenge, Rafi accepts an assignment to infiltrate a group of humanitarians to figure out which of them was responsible—and to stop whatever they’re planning next.

Excerpt

Road to Revenge
Mell Eight © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Rehov Dizengoff, Tel Aviv

Mihi walked as though he was dancing, so smoothly my eyes couldn’t help tracking his hips as they wiggled so enticingly just ahead of me along the busy street. Dizengoff Street was one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Tel Aviv; the gigantic, two-story Dizengoff Mall took up two blocks on both sides of the street and was only a half mile away. We were on the end of the road closer to the beach, though, so we were surrounded by small shops and restaurants instead of cars.

The sidewalks were large, which was good because dodging daredevils riding their motor scooters was just one small part of walking in Israel. Another was dodging the water from dripping AC units hanging out of the apartment windows above every single shop. The third was dodging the stray animals and their leavings—Israel has a small problem with stray cats, mostly because there was minimal effort to contain the enormous population.

“How about this café?” Mihi called ahead of me, spinning gracefully on one heel to glance back at me. He saw the direction of my eyes and grinned impishly, twitching his hips again in a blatant invitation he knew I would eagerly accept when we returned to our private room in a nearby hostel.

But first we would have lunch and then we would spend the afternoon sitting on the beautiful beach watching the sunset. Then maybe we would take the long walk down to Jaffa for dinner, or maybe we could try a local falafel place. Falafel was the food of the Middle East, and Israelis knew how to fry up the chickpea mixture just right.

I followed Mihi into the little café, glad we were avoiding the chain café, Aroma, on the next corner. It was a relief to be inside, away from the heat of the day and the constant rumble of busses and honking of cars that filled Dizengoff Street to the brim. Mihi was already waiting for me at the counter, menu in hand and a grin on his face for my slower pace.

He was so beautiful, my Mihi, with his slightly curled brown hair flopping into his bright and happy brown eyes. His family was originally from the Romanian side of the Russian border before they fled the Holocaust and the Russian pogroms, so his skin was always just a shade tanned. He had managed to get the prominent cheekbones from his mother’s side of the family, which took a good bit of attention away from his father’s slightly hooked nose that sat in the center of Mihi’s otherwise flawless face. Mihi was perfect, and I couldn’t help smiling back at him as I joined him at the counter.

We ordered. Simple sandwiches because Israelis never ate truly large meals and therefore didn’t offer them even in a tourist-heavy area like Dizengoff. I followed Mihi to a table in the corner; it was right up against the glass window where we could people watch and cringe at the amazing stunts some of the drivers pulled to make their way through traffic.

Mihi took the better seat in the corner, where he could have his back to the blank wall and the entire window in front. I bent down to kiss him gently on the temple instead of taking the seat across from him.

“Bathroom,” I murmured into his ear before pulling away and heading toward the restroom sign in the very back of the shop. Mihi gave me another one of his impish smiles and waved me off. He was already setting out napkins so we could eat properly. One of the napkins fluttered to the ground as I pushed the bathroom door open, and I couldn’t hold back a tiny smirk. Mihi hadn’t noticed it yet, but I knew that napkin would be picked up and thrown away before I returned.

I took care of my business and was washing my hands when it happened. A loud thump made my ears ring. The building shook, the mirror in front of me cracked and splintered, plaster from the ceiling rained down on my hair, and then total silence.

Then: screams.

I stood in front of the sink, the water still running cold and clear over hands, frozen in place. My eyes were wide in shock, hazel blue set in Polish-pale skin. My light brown hair was flecked with white plaster dust. My entire face motionless within the cracked frame of the mirror, waiting while my brain processed what I’d just felt and heard.

Suddenly, I could feel my lungs aching, and as if that were a signal to turn back on, my body gasped for air. I shook as I spun away from the sink, the water still running, and rushed to the door. I flung it open to total chaos.

The warped and blackened frame of a number nine Dan bus burned at the bus stop outside. Bodies and body parts littered the sidewalk, blood leaking from below the twisted metal.

The front window of the café was shattered, glass strewn across the floor. None of the tables and chairs in front of me were still standing and there were bodies everywhere.

The person sitting closest to the blast was missing most of his head. I gagged, but fought throwing up as I pushed through the mess back toward the small table in the far corner.

People were moaning, bleeding, and dead around me, but I only had eyes for a particular crumpled table and chairs and the bare leg clad in a flowery bathing suit I could see poking out beneath the debris.

No one by the window could have survived that blast. My heart batted away the thought even as my brain supplied it.

The leg was still bleeding, shrapnel wounds marring the lightly tanned skin. It was attached to a torso hidden beneath the table. I threw that table off with all my strength, dropping to my knees at Mihi’s side.

He was still breathing, my brain supplied. My heart decided it would keep beating for the moment.

Clutched in one hand was that silly napkin dropped to the floor just moments before. I have never been so happy for Mihi’s little quirks. He must have been bending over when the blast went off and had been protected by the wall at his back. The table and chairs must have shielded him from the worst of it.

Mihi’s eyes fluttered open, unfocused and glazed with pain. He immediately found me.

“Mihi!” I gasped, one hand reaching out to cup his cheek. His ear was bleeding sluggishly onto my hand, but his cheekbone was unbroken.

“Rafi,” he whispered in a cracked and broken voice. His eyes slid shut again.

“Mihi!” I yelled. “Mihi, you’re going to be okay!”

Finally, I started to hear the sirens. People who had seen the blast were already trying to find the living, but they were still searching by the remains of the bus. All of them, from the helpers to the EMTs, were taking their very lives into their hands. Everyone knew the terrorists liked to set off one blast and then wait for the emergency crews to arrive before doing their best to destroy the ambulances and kill all the first responders—even more innocents dead to their horrible vendetta.

My Mihi didn’t have time for any of that foolishness. As one of the ambulances jumped the curb and drove onto the sidewalk I stood and started waving frantically.

“Here!” I screamed, frenzied and hopped up on fear and adrenaline. The driver saw me and pointed. Two men leapt out of the back of the truck and rushed over with heavy bags banging against their sides. They stepped directly through the empty window and dropped down at Mihi’s side.

One took Mihi’s vitals while another started pulling the remains of the chair and table away from Mihi’s body.

“Still alive,” the first one grunted in Hebrew, waving one hand for a woman setting up a stretcher to hurry over. They didn’t rush, but it wasn’t long before Mihi was strapped properly into the stretcher and was rolling off toward the ambulance. I followed along behind, like a lost puppy following his owner, and climbed into the ambulance behind Mihi.

Something in my face must have alerted the EMT woman already bending over Mihi, because she pointed toward a seat by the door. I took it and couldn’t help my flinch when the doors slammed shut behind me.

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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: Border CTRL + ESC by Iva L. James #LGBTQ #contemporaryromance @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Border CTRL + ESC

Series: Virginia is for All Lovers, Book One

Author: Ivy L. James

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/09/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 68600

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, friends to lovers, multicultural, geeks, nerds, marriage of convenience, green card marriage, demisexual, bisexual, family drama, inheritance, work drama, money problems, adulting, one-bed dilemma

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Description

In the United States…

Mariana Mitogo is struggling to make ends meet. Then, out of the blue, she learns she’s to receive a huge inheritance that would erase all her debt. The problem: she has to be married for six months to receive it, and her dating life is nonexistent.

In Spain…

Santiago de los Reyes, Mariana’s Internet friend, has drained his bank account to support his family. Desperate to get his mom the heart surgery she needs, he interviews for a better-paying job that would take him from Madrid to Virginia. When he’s offered the position but can’t get a work visa, Mariana offers a solution that benefits both of them—a fiancé visa and a quick wedding.

If anyone finds out it’s a green-card marriage, Santiago will be deported. Mariana would face a colossal fine and jail time. Good thing they’re committed actors.

But as Santiago and Mariana pretend to build a life together, the lines blur between charade and reality. Will they dare to choose the love that feels more honest every day?

Border Ctrl+Esc is a lighthearted friends-to-lovers marriage of convenience between LGBTQ+ Internet friends (a demisexual woman and a bisexual man).

Excerpt

Border CTRL + ESC
Ivy L. James © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Mariana Mitogo scanned the faces filtering through both the escalator and the stairs into the Arrivals area of the airport, hoping Santiago de los Reyes Martínez hadn’t changed his appearance since his last selfie. She had assumed he wore his glasses all the time like she did, but did he? Maybe they were only for the aesthetic. What if he didn’t have them on, or he cut his hair, and she didn’t recognize him? What if his plane had come in somewhere else and this wasn’t even the right flight?

Announcements squawked over the speakers; conversations murmured around her as a fresh wave of people came from the gates. The crowds swirled, heading to the luggage conveyors and the restaurants and the exit. She sidestepped travelers on their phones. She almost passed over the man who stepped off the escalator next—and then she couldn’t look away.

Thick, mussed black hair curled over the edges of his ears and down the nape of his neck, too long to look professional. His naturally tawny complexion had darkened with exposure to the sun, and she could see those big, dark eyes from here, even with his oversized hipster glasses. The edges of him were soft, not harsh with muscle, but something about the angle of his shoulders and the way he filled out his simple T-shirt and jeans scrambled her insides.

Please don’t be him, she prayed, ready to barter her health and wealth against her need to not have to deal with a cute guy friend. She hadn’t been interested in anyone since she was sixteen—she didn’t want to start now. Life was simpler that way.

As she stood there, appalled at her potential bad luck, he turned to meet her gaze, and he pulled back. No wave, not even a smile. He just pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose, shoulders tense, lips pressed together.

Her throat prickled. Of course I look different. Cheeks hot, she smoothed her palms over the front of her yellow dress. I guess I didn’t expect to…to disappoint him.

He hadn’t even waved yet. She swallowed her embarrassment and, with a smile, did jazz hands.

A grin split his face, and it clicked.

She’d seen that grin in enough goofy selfies.

Damn it.

Santiago raced to her, dropped his suitcase, and swept her into a bear hug. For a split second she froze, not having expected outright affection—but then she relaxed and hugged him back, and her concern about attraction faded.

This is him, her heart and mind seemed to sigh, this time in relief. This is Santi. They already knew each other inside and out. Having him here in person, at long last, fit a piece into place she hadn’t realized was missing.

When he finally let go, she tapped him on the chest. “I’m not sure I know how to talk to you face-to-face. Let’s go sit somewhere so we can text.”

He snorted with laughter, as she’d hoped. “Maybe we can turn around and pretend to talk to our phones.” The lilt of his native language softened his English, prettier than her own slight Virginian drawl. Poor guy, having to practice his second language with a Southerner. He was going to end up with two different accents blended into one. Not to mention a propensity for the word y’all.

“How was your flight?” It seemed like the appropriate first question to ask.

He shrugged and rubbed his butt. “It was fine. Long.”

She grinned.

This response, though, made his forehead crinkle. “I said that right, didn’t I? Sorry about my accent.”

“Yeah, you said it fine.” She bounced on the balls of her feet. “Do you want any coffee or anything before we start the drive home? It’s gonna be another two hours until we get there.”

Santi glanced around the waiting area, probably looking for a coffee shop.

“Not here. There’s a Starbucks a couple miles down the highway.”

He half grimaced at the word miles. “And that’s…?”

“Oh.” She struggled to remember the correct ratio of miles to kilometers. Two to one? One to two? Ugh, math. She gave up. “About five minutes.”

They both stared at each other, looking a little blank, until they shared a self-deprecating laugh, and he picked up his suitcase. “Yes, let’s get some coffee. I’ll still be able to sleep when we get home.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Ivy L. James wrote her first story on Post-it notes as a child. Since then, she has graduated to regular paper and enjoys writing inclusive, heartwarming romance as a way to counterbalance the negativity in the world. She lives in Maryland with her partner and their corgi, cat, and two snakes.

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Release Blitz: The Billionaire and the Escort by Evelyn Mahony #eroticromance #gayromance @pridepublishing @firstforromance

The Billionaire and the Escort by Evelyn Mahony

General Release Date: 3rd Aug 2021

Word Count: 81,084
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 283

Genres:

BILLIONAIRE
CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description

 

In the world of high-end escorts, getting personal is never part of the arrangement.

When Josh Roberts became a male escort, there was no room for emotions. They went against the job description. He had a full appointment book and enough clients to pay the bills. There was definitely no time to get attached to an older, extremely successful, incredibly gorgeous man who paid for his services.

But Josh can’t turn down the money that has started rolling in, along with the gifts and the opportunity to live in the lap of luxury as the man flies him around the world to play pretend as his boyfriend. How on earth is he supposed to say no? Especially once he starts falling for his client.

James Barnwell is the successful CEO of Winter Luxury Resorts who stumbled upon Josh Roberts in a dark, high-end bar in midtown Manhattan. The young man was cocky, young, beautiful and offered James exactly what he was looking for—the chance to be with a man who knew the ropes and offered no opportunity to get attached. James had a lucrative business to run and meetings all over the world to attend. Having someone by his side would just weigh him down—or so he thinks, until he finds himself caring deeply for the man he pays for companionship, and it completely changes his world.

Two men are trying to play make believe—until they realize their sham might be closer to reality than they thought.

Excerpt

The bar wasn’t too busy for a Friday night. Soulful jazz filled the air of the midtown Manhattan hot spot that attracted wealthy businessmen and young, single, gold-digging women. Not many people came here unless they were looking to settle a big business deal or celebrate one—or, of course, if they were looking for one of those drunk, happy, successful men to take them home.

Which was why Josh Roberts was here tonight. He didn’t necessarily belong there. He wasn’t on Wall Street, wasn’t a millionaire, wasn’t a CEO or even someone who worked for a CEO. No, he was a college graduate with an art degree…and a booming business as an escort.

He hadn’t always been an escort. It was a fairly new profession he’d taken up by accident. It was a strange story to tell someone he didn’t know, and honestly, the industry was so hush hush that not many asked. But he didn’t mind getting paid for taking people out and sleeping with them. It had been odd at first, but it paid the bills—and beyond—and he was good at it now. He had a pretty full calendar, already booked a month out with regulars who took very good care of him financially. At twenty-four years old, he was well on his way to paying off his school loans and saving for the art gallery he hoped to open one day. And he was able to help pay his mother’s mortgage on the Brooklyn townhouse he’d grown up in. That alone made it worth it.

His mother didn’t know what he did—of course she didn’t. She couldn’t. He wouldn’t allow her to refuse his money. He didn’t live at home anymore, but she was his only family. He couldn’t risk losing or disappointing her. She was beyond supportive and would give him the benefit of any doubt…unless she knew he was being paid for sex. She wouldn’t be able to understand that. And honestly…sometimes he wasn’t sure he did. But it was satisfying his bank account, keeping food on the table, a roof over his head and more—so he kept it up. His art couldn’t pay him the way this could.

As he leaned against the end of the long mahogany bar, he surveyed the men in attendance, sipping his Old Fashioned. He wasn’t too much of a drinker and he needed to keep his wits about him when he was working—especially in a place like this. Class meant everything.

There weren’t many options this particular evening. Josh had a way of seeking out the ones who might be susceptible to his services. He worked with a lot of referrals, but tonight he’d been open and available, so he’d decided to head out and offer his services to someone in need of a good time. So far, that hadn’t been playing out too well for him. Most of the men were older, wearing rings or a little too drunk for Josh’s liking.

His gaze settled on a handsome guy in the middle of the bar who was sitting with a pretty blonde woman to his right. When Josh had first watched them, the man had been engaged as the woman had approached. He’d offered her a smile and invited her to join him.

That had been about an hour ago, however, and now the man looked somewhat tortured. He’d downed three Scotches in that time frame and was asking the bartender for another. A man in a suit stood a few feet behind him, but Josh suspected he was security of some sort, as that man had an earpiece and hadn’t had a drink all night. It made Josh curious as he watched, wondering who the guy was and why he’d need security in a bar like this. And if the man standing behind him was security, how come he wasn’t saving him from the ditz currently droning on and on about some nail polish line?

Josh finished his drink and was about to pay his tab and try his luck elsewhere when the blonde excused herself. He couldn’t hear if she would be gone for a minute or for the night, but he watched the guy’s shoulders sag slightly in what looked like relief as soon as she was a few feet away. Josh had a moment to make up his mind. Give it a shot or head out…?

The man was beautiful, about six feet tall with thick, dark hair that matched his beard. Even in the dim light, Josh could tell his temples were graying. It was a good look on the guy…fitting. Josh could see laugh lines around his eyes, no ring, a royal blue suit with a white shirt underneath and no tie. He was well dressed but not stuffy.

Josh glanced down at his own chocolate-brown three-piece suit. Being so young, he had to overcompensate to fit in. But for the man across the bar, the unbuttoned collar of his white shirt and the playful mid-range blue of his suit gave off the opposite feel, and it worked well for him. Is he into men? Josh couldn’t tell from where he stood. But he was visibly bored of his female companion, so Josh took a chance and headed his way.

“That looked brutal,” he remarked as he stood a barstool’s distance away from the man. The guy peered up at Josh with a raised eyebrow, taking Josh by surprise.

“Was I fakin’ it poorly?” The attractive man—even more attractive up close than he had been from across the bar—winced with a half-smile. Josh glanced up at the woman over his head, watching her gait slow as she returned from the direction of the restroom and saw Josh standing in her place.

“Well, she’s coming back, if that helps you feel any better about your acting skills.” His new companion cursed under his breath and took a long swig from the rocks’ glass.

“Maybe she’ll think we’re talkin’ business and find someone else to talk to?” He looked up at Josh, questioning, and he raked his gaze subtly over Josh’s suit. He wasn’t sizing Josh up. He was actually looking him over. Josh felt a little proud as he pretended not to notice. “Need a drink?”

“Sure.” Josh took the invitation coolly to avoid seeming eager and settled into the seat the woman had occupied before him. Her expression was clearly one of annoyance, but he watched her turn to find another rich man to fawn over. Phew. “Old Fashioned. Rocks. Thanks.”

The man nodded and quickly grabbed the bartender’s attention. Drink ordered, he turned back to Josh, seemingly still curious. “Nice suit.”

“Thank you.” Josh couldn’t stop the flush that heated his cheeks. Compliments always did him in, especially when the man was looking at him with those haunting steel eyes in a way that Josh hardly ever noticed his own clients looking at him.

“I appreciate you saving me,” he began, settling his gaze on Josh’s face. Josh held his look with the smallest of smiles. “Not many men would do that. They’d probably just enjoy watching me be miserable.” He huffed a laugh, and raised one side of his lips in a true half smile. “It’s not that she was a terrible gal or anything. She just…isn’t my type.” The way he said it gave Josh everything he needed to know to push on with his own agenda.

“I couldn’t bear to watch you sit through another monologue about wearing blue nail polish in the fall.” Josh mimicked her slightly, and he was pleased when the attractive man chuckled. He sipped his beverage, thoughtful. “Don’t like small blondes?” Josh then asked, licking his lips and savoring the taste of his new drink. He said it a little teasingly but was surprised when the guy just looked toward him and eyed him up and down slowly.

“I think I prefer them…bigger.” He didn’t sound so sure as he responded, and Josh had to wonder what that meant. Josh was, of course, blond, but he couldn’t be referring to him… Could he?

“You think?” Josh pressed, tilting his head as he regarded the man.

“Well, they’re usually her size, but I’m thinking of trying something new these days…”

Oh. Well, that was an interesting development. Josh hadn’t expected this to go so well.

The guy toyed with his rocks’ glass, spinning it in his fingers before turning completely to look at Josh, his body now sideways. Josh leaned against the bar, facing the man the same way. “Josh Roberts.” He extended his hand with a slight smile, roaming his eyes around the man’s gorgeous face.

The guy took Josh’s hand in a firm shake with zero hesitation. “James Barnwell… A pleasure to meet you, Josh.” He gave Josh a half smile of his own, and Josh couldn’t get past how beautiful the man was—one of his more handsome endeavors, for sure.

“So you’re looking to try something new?” Josh decided not to beat around the bush now. He’d go right in for the kill. James nodded with a lick to his sinful bottom lip. Josh wouldn’t mind kissing it. He definitely wouldn’t mind.

“I’ve uh… I don’t have any experience, but it’s been on my mind for a while.” James seemed slightly nervous now, but Josh wanted to reassure him there was no need. He gave Josh a look that was almost adorably unsure. Josh couldn’t help his own confident grin.

“Well, as it happens, I’m very well versed in such activities.” He nibbled on his bottom lip, tilting his chin down and looking up at Barnwell through his lashes. He wanted this sale, wanted to show this man a good time—especially now, knowing he’d never been with another man before. It became a challenge that spoke to Josh’s competitive soul.

James’ eyes widened a fraction and he seemed to consider the statement. Then he laughed, throwing Josh off a little. “You must think I’m some fuckin’… I’ve gotta be at least ten years older than you, and I’ve never experimented like that. I mean I have…with my—you know—but I’ve never actually been with a man. You’ve gotta be getting a kick out of this.”

Josh didn’t know which part he should be getting a kick out of—the fact he’d never been with a man, the age difference or the fact that James was insinuating that he’d played with himself. Josh was eating it all up, if he were to be honest. He’d never taken a man’s virginity, but he was up for the adventure and knew he was a safe bet as the man’s first. He knew just how to do it right and gentle, make it worth James’ time. “Well, if you think I’m judging you, you’re wrong. I’m in the wrong business to judge anyone.” Josh kept his voice low so he didn’t make a spectacle of their conversation. “It doesn’t matter how old you are or what you’ve done or not done. If you want an experience, you wanna try a taste, I can give you one. I’m happy to do it.”

Josh wasn’t one to play games. He was straightforward and as honest as they came. He pulled one of his sleek matte cards from his pocket and slipped it across the bar to James, who picked it up and looked it over, a look of surprise and a flush covering his high cheekbones as he seemed to read the word printed under Josh’s name on the card—Escort.

James cleared his throat, biting his bottom lip as he set the card back down. Josh noticed that he kept it close and he took that as a good sign. “And here I thought you were just picking me up.” James laughed a little and Josh liked the sound.

“In a way I was. You’re a handsome man. I couldn’t tell from afar whether you’d be interested in men or not, but I took my chance anyway.” Josh offered him a gentle grin.

“Do I look like I need to pay someone for sex?” James cocked his head to the side and regarded Josh through squinted, guarded eyes. He might have even been slightly offended. Josh held his ground, undeterred.

“You look like you wanna sleep with a man—but you haven’t yet and don’t know how. I’m sure you have women dying to sit on your cock. But that’s not what I’m here for.”

“And if I wanna sit on your cock, is that what you’re here for?” Hearing the word fall from James’ lips made Josh want to squirm a little. He definitely wanted that. It was always a bonus when he was physically attracted to his clients and that they had chemistry. It was often not the case.

“You can sit on anything you want, Mr. Barnwell. That is, in fact, what I’m here for.”

James grew silent at that, dropping his gaze to his glass. Apprehension bloomed in Josh’s chest, but he sipped his drink and watched the man mentally battle over whatever waged inside his mind. He took the moment to let his eyes roam the broad shoulders, the peek of chest hair, the gray on his temples. This man had to look exquisite naked, judging by the way that suit jacket pulled in all the right places.

James lifted his gaze back to Josh’s, and Josh could feel the heat and question that lingered in those blue-grays. “I’m not familiar with…your business. What’s it you want? How much do you get paid? Do you do weekends in exchange for money, gifts?”

Josh couldn’t help but chuckle…amused. “I mean, I don’t have an ad saying ‘sugar daddy wanted’ on my back, but if you’re offering…” Confusion then amusement dawned on James’ features. “Money is how I’m usually paid. I can be booked for any length of time. I can be a date to an event, a party or a companion on a trip. It’s really whatever the client wants. Whatever they want.” He stressed the word because he catered to any and all whims. He had a few hard limits but had experienced a lot. And at this point, he’d say yes to anything with James out of pure curiosity.

“Whatever they want? Give me an example, please.” He spoke quietly as he asked, as if unsure if he should. Josh was an open book. He never gave names, but he’d absolutely give examples.

“Sure. Most women want to be dominated in some way, but most men want to dominate me. I’ve gone to Hawaii on a business trip with a woman who only needed me to pretend I was her fiancé. I’ve been collared and expected to crawl on my knees like a dog. I had a woman who would pay me for one weekend a month of as much sex as she could handle. I have another woman who just wants me to sit in my briefs and rub her feet. I’ve had a few men who prefer roleplay, and I’m decent at it.” He shrugged lightly. “The ‘usual’ is I show up to the client’s place and we have sex, I fulfill whatever their fantasy or need is and I’m out of the door afterward. But like I said, it’s the dealer’s choice. Whatever the client feels like, needs or wants from me, I give. I haven’t had a single complaint.” Josh felt more than confident in his track record and his services. Sure, when he’d started, he’d had some catching up to do, had to learn his ways around certain kinks and scenes, but now he had zero issues. He felt at ease behind closed doors.

James was intrigued, if nothing else. It was written all over his suddenly expressive face. “So…kinks? Toys? Trips? Everything is on the table?”

Josh nodded. “I draw the line at violence, degrading play and extreme, potentially harmful things. Marks are fine, spanking is fine, but you can’t hit me—and I won’t hit you. You can call me names, but you can’t shove my face in a carpet or make me lick your shoes. Luckily, no one I’ve been with has tried to punch me or worse.” Josh smiled ruefully. James looked a little disturbed by that.

“Well, at least you’re taking care of yourself,” he replied with a concern that surprised Josh.

“I get tested monthly. I’m careful. It’s my job to deliver a safe and fun experience.” He wanted to make sure James knew all the details and his intentions. This business relationship had to be based on trust.

“What do you cost? Is it by the service or…?”

Josh pulled out his phone, opening the app he used to take payment. He set it down on the bar for James to see. He had no secrets. “I don’t do it by the service. I do by the hour. You can have whatever you want in the time frame you pay me for—and there’s fifty percent off your first experience, no matter the length. If a person comes back, which I can usually guarantee they will, it’s full price after that.”

James whistled low at what he saw on the screen. “You certainly are looking for that sugar daddy, aren’t ya, pal?”

Josh blushed at the term but laughed too. “I think it’s a fair trade. Good money for great sex.” He shrugged. James eyed him.

“You think you’re that good, huh?”

Josh simply smiled, nodding once. “Yes, sir. I’m that good.”

James glanced back at the security guard a few feet away then to the bartender. Josh, for a brief moment, wondered if he was about to be physically removed from James Barnwell’s presence. Then James was laying down crisp cash from his wallet on the bar and standing.

Josh followed his every move, his hopes deflating. He’d really enjoyed their banter. It had been a long time since he’d been shot down—and by someone like Mr. Barnwell…

“I’ve got a car out front. We’ll go back to my place. That’s how it works, right? My call? My place?” Josh stood before James could finish his questions.

“Absolutely, sir. Your call. Everything is your call.”

“Good. We’ll go back to my place, I’ll pour us a drink then I want you to take over. Understood?”

Josh was surprised by the expectation, but it was nothing he couldn’t handle. In fact, he looked forward to blowing this man’s mind…and hopefully more. “Yes, sir.”

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About the Author

Evelyn Mahony

Evelyn has been writing since middle school, constantly getting lost in creating a whole other world (usually loosely based on a fandom of some kind) and falling in love with those characters. An avid reader, she never leaves home without a well-worn book and a notepad for thoughts. She writes almost entirely on her phone, because it’s small and easy to pull out at a moment’s notice, when the idea for a scene hits. As the wife of a busy husband and as the mother of a young daughter, two big dogs, and a horse, there’s not always designated writing time. Writing is her passion and whenever she finds a window of free time, that’s what she’s doing!

Check out Evelyn’s website and follow her on Instagram.

Giveaway

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Evelyn Mahony The Billionaire and the Escort Giveaway

EVELYN MAHONY IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 17th August 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

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Release Blitz: Concussion and Contentment by Liz Faraim #contemporaryromance #LGBTQ @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Concussion and Contentment

Series: Vivian Chastain, Book Three

Author: Liz Faraim

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/02/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 87500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, family-drama, interracial, lesbian, polyamorous, ex-military, bartender, Christmas, New Year, established couple

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Description

Vivian, an adrenaline junkie and U.S. Army veteran, goes about her life as a bartender, avid runner, and polyamorous lesbian. Her life in Sacramento, California, is going well until she is blindsided by unforeseen financial issues that lead her to consider a new career.

In an attempt to recharge and take a break, Vivian goes on a motorcycle trip with her best friend, Bear, but the adventure does not turn out to be the carefree break Vivian had hoped for. She returns to Sacramento where her partner, Ang, tries to push her down rather than help her pick up the pieces. Meanwhile, Vivian takes big steps with her other partner, Audre.

Vivian has an epiphany about what line of work she wants to pursue. As things start to stabilize, one of Vivian’s partners commits an act of grave violence, resulting in life-changing consequences for all concerned.

Surrounded by friends, Vivian turns over a new leaf and finally finds the contentment she has sought for a lifetime.

Excerpt

Concussion and Contentment
Liz Faraim © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Spring 2006, Sacramento, CA

Sweat dripped and bass pulsed as hundreds of women writhed and bumped to the music. Tick, the club DJ, was killing it. The vibe was so good that I was high on it. There was a line at my station ten people deep, customers jostling for position while dancing and shuffling forward each time I finished a drink order. One of my regulars stepped up and waved a twenty-dollar bill at me. She was in her forties, sporting a bowler hat and forearm tats.

“Viv, show me them titties and tats!” she shouted over the thumping and chatter.

I had already stripped down to my sports bra, with my beater hanging from the back pocket of my Dickies. It was hot for April, and the press of sweating, dancing bodies had made the nightclub a sauna.

“Aw, Tig, you know I can’t do that,” I said with a smirk and turned my back to the crowd. Behind the bar was a wall-to-wall mirror. I gyrated my hips to Bubba Sparxxx’s “Ms. New Booty,” which had become a club favorite. I made eye contact with Tig in the mirror as she jumped to the beat, still waving the twenty-dollar bill at me. Shoving down the shyness that crept up, I slapped on the façade of the confident butch barkeep I wore to work. I pulled my sports bra up, just a bit.

She hollered to her friends, “She’s doing it, she’s doing it!”

Amidst the chaos, they leaned to the side to see my reflection in the mirror, their mouths agape, eyes laser focused on me. I kept the tease up for a minute, dancing to the song, pulling my bra up a bit and lowering it again. Each time I lowered it, there was a chorus of “Awwwww’s” behind me. I finally relented and pulled my sports bra completely off. Their hoots and hollers made me grin, and I continued dancing for myself in the mirror.

Just as the song was ending, a bright light flashed in the mirror, reflecting straight into my eyes. I traced the light back along the mirror and saw it was coming from near the front door. Buck, our bouncer, stood on the rungs of her barstool by the door, flashing her Maglite at me. When we made eye contact, she tapped the top of her head three times, which was the sign that the cops were coming. I shimmied back into my sweaty sports bra, which was no easy feat, and turned back to my customers.

Tig pulled me into a hug across the bar. She tucked the bill into my waistband, her rough fingers lingering far too long on my skin. “Thanks, Viv. Looking good. Those tits and tats, you are so fucking hot. If I weren’t married, things’d be different.”

I patted her cheek and ended the hug, doing my best to keep my cool and stay in my role.

“Good to see you, Tig. The usual?”

She nodded and I poured her an Irish Car Bomb. She slapped some more cash on the bar, dropped the shot glass of whiskey and Bailey’s into her pint of Guinness, and chugged the whole frothing mess while her crew cheered her on. She slammed the pint glass down, wiped her mouth on her bare arm, belched, and disappeared into the fray.

Jen, the barback, bounced up to me with her usual level of cheer, and began unloading glasses fresh from the washer. “Tig still trying to get into your pants?” Her voice dripped with disgust as she fingered the American Spirit cigarette tucked behind her ear.

“Always.” I uncapped some beer bottles and rang up my next customer. “You know, I’ve been doing this job a few years now, and know that there’s a certain level of shit we have to put up with if we want those tips. And I need those tips. But it’s getting less amusing when people forget we are human and not a piece of meat.”

Jen nodded knowingly. “How much did she give you this time?”

“Twenty bucks. More generous than usual. She must have just gotten paid.”

“Well, don’t include it when you tally up your tips tonight. When you tip me out, I don’t want any of that. You earned it.” There was a pitying turn to Jen’s lips, and I nodded at her slowly.

We turned to watch as the police pushed their way past the line of women waiting to get into the club. Buck stopped them in the entryway at her lectern. She stood tall, her perfectly pressed uniform shirt tucked into her Wranglers. Jen slapped my ass and hustled back out to gather up empty glasses and beer bottles and likely drop her weed and pipe into one of the potted plants.

I spotted Sheila, our manager, mingling in the press of bodies and waved her down. I pointed toward the cops. She nodded and slithered her way through the crowd the way any seasoned bar or restaurant worker does. Sheila and Buck eventually convinced the officers to leave, which was a relief. Uniformed police in a queer nightclub were bad for business.

The frantic pace kept up until last call. Eventually Tick turned on the house lights and Buck worked her way around the place, breaking up lingering conversations with her usual: “You don’t have to go home, but ya can’t stay here.” As she escorted out the last couple and locked the doors behind them, I posted up on a bar stool and counted out my tips and cash drawer.

My hip itched and I remembered the money Tig had put there. I pulled the sweaty bill out of my waistband and dropped it into my tip bucket with disgust. The rant I had been holding back burst forth to no one in particular.

“Who do the fuck do they think they are, putting their hands all over us like they own us? Like we’re in a fucking petting zoo!”

“Pipe down, Viv.” Sheila lit a cigarette and watched us like a hawk as we counted the club’s money. I grumbled. “It’s just part of the job. It’s part of the atmosphere here. Remember what I told you way back on your first day?”

I turned and made eye contact with Sheila. Her brown eyes challenged me, a crinkle at the corners, her right eyebrow cocked just a hair. She took a long drag on her cigarette and blew it at me. She knew I was a runner and hated cigarette smoke, so I took it as a blatant sign of disrespect.

Speaking through clenched teeth I recalled, “On my first day you said: Know your place, stay in your role. Desirable. Flirty. Available but not attainable. Is that right?”

“Bingo.” She pointed a nicotine-stained finger at me. “If you don’t like it, you know there are a dozen other gals ready to take your spot. This is the only lesbian nightclub in Sac and it’s hoppin’. Adjust your attitude or get out.”

I went back to counting out my drawer. The bills were soggy with a combination of spilled beer and boob sweat. It was amusing how many women used their bras as a wallet, but at the end of the night the damp bills weren’t so cute.

My relationship with Sheila had taken several hits because I had disappeared on her a few times. Once friendly and warm, my boss now barely tolerated my presence, and only because I brought in big money. The customers loved me. Sheila would be an idiot to fire me, and clearly, she resented the fact.

Over the last two years I had beat a thieving customer to a pulp, disappeared because I had to go into hiding after witnessing a heinous crime, and gotten myself hospitalized with sepsis. My attendance at work hadn’t exactly been great because of all that, and Sheila didn’t seem to trust me anymore. Since returning from my bout with sepsis the previous year I hadn’t missed a single shift. That fact alone made me mad that Sheila hadn’t warmed back up to me. Work used to be one of my favorite places to be, Jen and Buck were some of my favorite people, but Sheila giving me the cold shoulder and my growing discontent with grabby customers were souring the pot.

Jen went about clearing the glasses, beer bottles, and trash that had been left all over the bar. Occasionally she would groan and announce whatever disgusting detritus she had found: used condoms and gloves tucked into the potted plants, puke in the corner, empty baggies, whippit canisters, and even someone’s thong underwear.

I finished my count, my drawer balancing out perfectly, and shoved it across the bar to Sheila. I grabbed my gear and walked into the back bar to find Jen and give her a cut of my tips. Buck unlocked the door and followed me out. We walked down Twenty-First Street, which was mostly deserted at the early hour, aside from the occasional person sleeping in a doorway. We reached my truck and I fished out my keys. Buck wasn’t much for small talk so when she cleared her throat, I was surprised.

“Things’ll settle down. Stick around.” Her gravelly voice tapered off as she gave my back a hearty thump, spun on her heel, and headed back to the bar.

“G’night, Buck.” She looked over her shoulder at me and nodded, her mullet flapping in the breeze.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Liz is a recovering workaholic who has mastered multi-tasking, including balancing a day job, solo parenting, writing, and finding some semblance of a social life. In past lives she has been a soldier, a bartender, a shoe salesperson, an assistant museum curator, and even a driving instructor.

Liz lives in the East Bay Area of California, and enjoys exploring nature with her son.

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