Release Blitz: Saving the World and Other Bad Ideas by Jayce Carter #reverseharem #paranormalromance #eroticromance @firstforromance @totally_bound

Saving the World and Other Bad Ideas
by Jayce Carter

Book 3 in the Grave Concerns series

Word Count: 74,724
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 279

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM

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Book Description


I finally get four hot men and the world’s going to end. Typical.

I’ve gone to hell, I’ve faced off against the devil and I’ve lost someone who meant the world to me. That’s usually the end of the story, but it seems the universe isn’t quite done with me yet.

Lilith is still out there, the end of the world is getting closer and only I can hope to stop it. The more I discover, the deeper I dig into the mystery of Lilith’s past and my own powers, the less sure I am that I can actually defeat her.

Still by my side are the four men I’ve fallen hopelessly in love with—leave it to me to get my romantic life in order just as the world falls apart. With all the questions, there are only two things I know for certain—I will face Lilith, and only one of us will walk away from it.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, bloodshed and death. There are mentions of child abuse, inadequate parenting and bestiality.

Excerpt

“I could tear your soul right out of your stupid, entitled body!”

The man I’d yelled at stared at me as if I were crazy, but that didn’t even slow my tirade. He might think I was a nutjob—and maybe I was—but that didn’t mean I wasn’t fully capable of doing exactly what I’d threatened.

“You’re insane,” the man said.

“You’re the one who’s attacking that poor woman who works here.”

“She made my drink wrong.”

“So?” I set my hands on my hips, giving him my best melt him into the ground right where he stands look. “You think you’re entitled to everything you want? You think the world revolves around you?”

There beside us stood the barista we were arguing over, her dark eyes wide. In fact, she looked far more concerned about our interaction than about him acting like a spoiled brat. When I had been standing by the bar, waiting for mine, he’d brought his back to tell them they’d made it wrong.

“It really is okay,” the barista told me. “It’s not a big deal. I can just remake it.”

“No,” I responded. “It’s not okay. People can’t just expect others to be perfect, to have it all together all the time. He needs to be understanding.”

“I don’t expect perfect,” the man said. “I asked for iced and she made a hot drink. That’s it.”

“So? She’s trying, damn it. She’s the one working, so you should just say thank you and move on. What makes you so special that you think you’ll get whatever you want?”

His mouth hung open, like he’d never dealt with someone telling him off before. “I wasn’t even rude,” he argued. “All I did was ask her to remake it.”

“She’s doing her best,” I repeated for what had to be the tenth time, that same thing that stuck in my head. “She’s just human, and maybe she’s having a bad day. Maybe she recently lost someone she cares about. Maybe she went to hell and is now in some sort of existential crisis because she doesn’t know how to bring the person responsible to justice. Did you ever think about that, or did you just decide to criticize her?”

The chime above the door rang, and when I turned, I realized maybe I’d gone just a little overboard.

Troy walked in, and I doubted he was there as my friendly neighborhood werewolf just making the rounds.

Which meant someone had called the police on me.

For what? A little disagreement?

Or maybe because I told him I’d rip his soul out of his body…

“Finally,” the man said as if Troy were his saving grace.

“You called the police?” I muttered pussy under my breath, low enough that Troy wouldn’t catch it.

The sharp look in his silver eyes said he had. Stupid werewolf hearing.

“You are going to get arrested,” the man said in the mocking, self-assured voice of a kid who had tattled to Mom on his sibling.

“I doubt that.” I leaned in and kept my voice low. “Because I’m fucking the detective.”

Then, just when I was pretty sure my childish behavior couldn’t sink anymore, I stuck out my tongue at him.

At least he looked shocked.

My high horse didn’t last long, however, not when Troy wrapped his large hand around my upper arm. In a different, sexier moment, I might have even liked his macho bullshit. “I’m very sorry,” he said to the man as he pulled me toward the door. “I’ll handle her.”

Handle me?

I would have told Troy exactly what I thought about that, but he lowered his voice to all but snarl into my ear, “You should probably keep quiet.”

The rumbled reprimand shocked me into silence. Troy never used that tone of voice with me. He was typically soft-spoken and the most likely of the men in my life to let me get away with…well…everything.

So his commanding tone kept me quiet until he opened the passenger-side door of his car and tossed me in. By the time he came around and got into the driver’s side, my brain had started working again and I realized—I didn’t let anyone talk to me like that, not even my sort of boyfriend who turned into some sort of wolf creature and had plenty of weird emotional hang-ups.

“Don’t you manhandle me,” I snapped.

“What was that?”

“What was what? I was protecting the staff against a male Karen. That’s called being a good person. Not my fault you don’t recognize it.”

“You were arguing with a stranger so aggressively that the staff called us about you.”

I crossed my arms and sat back. “He was getting mad at her over one little mistake and she was trying her best.”

He let out a long sigh, as if my words had been more telling than I’d meant them to be. The damn man was far too observant. “I know it’s frustrating to have no leads.”

Frustrating didn’t even start to explain it. After Lilith had killed Gran, after I’d sworn she would pay for it, everything had stalled out. Swearing revenge like that was supposed to be some sort of catapult to action, to lead almost immediately to a big showdown where things got resolved. People didn’t swear to make someone pay then spend six weeks doing absolutely nothing about it.

It was said revenge was a dish best served cold, but it turned out I lacked the patience to let it cool.

It didn’t matter how much I wanted to rain hell down on Lilith—I had no idea where she even was, and neither did anyone else.

The only thing I’d been able to do was help out the werewolves and vampires by removing Lilith’s influence from infected immortals. Doing that felt like a tiny jab back at her, a way to give her the middle finger, but it just wasn’t enough. I could only do it so often, and many of the afflicted had to be killed before anyone could capture them, so it didn’t feel like much of a win.

“I thought we’d have something by now,” I admitted, letting my head fall back against the seat.

Troy set his hand on my thigh, the weight of it reassuring even when I didn’t want it to be. Something about him having my back never failed to make me feel a bit more optimistic. “Ava, you survived hell. You faced off against Lucifer. You destroyed a reaper. You’ll get through this, too. It just may not be as fast as you’d like.”

“Hell was easy. We knew which way we had to go. This, though? I’ve got no idea where to even start.”

He squeezed my leg. “You look exhausted. Are you not sleeping well?”

“I’ve got enough horrible things going on in my life when I’m awake. Why should I sleep? Just so I can dream about the mist there?” Just saying it made me shudder.

I’d had those nightmares all my life, but since going to hell, they’d gotten worse. I woke up choking, coughing, gagging as I clawed at my throat with the memory of that damn mist. Even after I could breathe, I couldn’t shake the horrible drowning feeling.

“You can always sleep at my house,” he offered, his voice having lost its sharp edge, having quieted as if coaxing me to agree. This was the sweet man I was used to.

“You might be able to scare away most things, but I’m afraid you aren’t the best dream catcher.” Despite what I said, he had a point. Even if he couldn’t keep the damn dreams away, no doubt it would be better to wake up next to him than alone.

But I wasn’t that girl, the one who threw away everything for a man—or four of them. I’d survived those dreams my whole life, so I could deal with them alone now.

“What if Grant gets some ambrosia? You slept and didn’t dream when you took it before,” Troy pointed out.

“I’m not ever touching that stuff again. I saw it grown in body parts—I almost was the body some was grown in—and that made it lose its magic. No thanks.”

I kept to myself the fact that I hadn’t actually seen Grant. He and Hunter had both all but disappeared upon our return.

It stung.

After everything, they had just dropped off the face of the earth—or hell, whatever—without a word.

Was it because of what I was? Maybe the reality of sleeping with a reaper was a turn-off they couldn’t ignore anymore. Fucking the cute, eccentric girl who talked to ghosts was one thing—getting naked with a reaper must have been a hard limit.

Cowards.

“What’s wrong?” Troy asked, probably having caught my expression.

“Nothing.”

He sighed, the sound telling me he knew I was lying. “Ava…”

I turned to face him. “It’s just more of not knowing where to go, of not having a plan, of being totally and completely stuck. You know, same old, same old.”

He pressed his lips together, as if he knew there was more I wouldn’t say, but he shook his head. “Why don’t I drive you home?”

“What, no handcuffs?”

That glow in his eyes started, the one that said he really wanted to do just that.

Not that I’d gone without…

In the six weeks since we’d returned from hell, I’d ended up in bed with Troy countless times. Always at his place, and usually because I went there, because I craved his scent, his taste, the feeling of his strong hands on me.

It made me wonder if there wasn’t something to this whole mate thing, some bond that drew me to him, that made me need him like I hadn’t before.

Or maybe I was just addicted to his stupid knot.

That was very possible.

He inhaled, slowly, the glow of his eyes brightening. Right. He could smell me, always knew when I was thinking such things. There weren’t a lot of secrets in a relationship with a werewolf.

He leaned forward, as if drawn by the smell of my desire, driven by the need to satisfy me.

I put my hand up and over his face, stopping him before he could kiss me. “No time.”

His groan was muffled by my palm. “I can be quick.”

“No, you can’t.”

Normally, that would have been a wonderful compliment, because the reality was that I never left Troy’s bed unsatisfied. In fact, I usually fell asleep there because I couldn’t stay awake another moment, not after he’d had his way with me, some wild part of his wolf needing to turn me boneless, as if laying a claim.

He nipped my palm before sitting back. “Will you at least promise to stop harassing strangers? I don’t want to get called out on you again.”

“I wasn’t harassing anyone.” At his lifted eyebrow, I blew out a long breath. “Okay, so I may have threatened to rip his soul out of his body.”

Disapproval flooded his expression.

Which I guess was fair.

Maybe that wasn’t the smartest thing I’d done recently. Or maybe it was. It hadn’t been a very good six weeks.

“I know you’re frustrated, Ava. I know you want to find Lilith, that you want to handle this, but going off the rails isn’t going to make it happen any faster. If you end up in jail or rushing into trouble, it isn’t going to help. You need to relax.”

“How am I supposed to do that? Yoga? Meditation? Tea?”

“I have tomorrow night off. What if we go out?”

I paused at the offer, which had taken me off track. “Like…a date?”

He nodded. “We’re involved, aren’t we? Let me take my mate out, have dinner, act like any normal couple.”

“I don’t think you get to use the word ‘normal’, not when we went to hell, had a threesome with a vampire and your penis gets stuck inside me when we have sex.”

He let out a rough laugh. “You’re impossible, you know that?”

“I’ve heard that before, yeah. So, you’re not going to arrest me?”

“Not today.” He caught my arm as if calling me on how I hadn’t actually agreed to the date. “Dinner tomorrow?”

Maybe trying to date like some happy couple wasn’t the best idea in the middle of everything else, or maybe that was exactly why I needed it right then.

“Okay,” I said, inexplicably nervous. Then again, when was the last time I’d had a real date planned?

Maybe never? Certainly never with someone I actually loved.

I went to get out of the car, but he didn’t let me go. Troy shifted his hand to the front of my shirt, then tugged me in until he could take my lips in a possessive kiss, one that screamed mine in a way that melted me.

Whether it was him or his wolf leaving a mark on me, I didn’t know, and honestly, I didn’t really care.

Being claimed by both of them was fine by me, and one of the few things going exactly right in my life.

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About the Author

Jayce Carter

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing. You can learn more about her at her website.

Giveaway

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Release Blitz & Review: In Deep by Bailey Bradford #LGBTQ #eroticromance #paranormal @firstforromance @pridepublishing

In Deep by Bailey Bradford

Book 1 in the Hooked on You series

Word Count: 57,279
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 257

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL

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Book Description

Titus wanted a summer fling—then he wanted more…

Titus Eisenhower loves his job as an elementary school teacher in a small Texas town. Sure, he has to be careful, but not being out is fine with him since he’s not interested in dating another man after his last relationship went so badly. But now he’s got the career he’s always wanted, a safe place to be and friends. Isn’t that everything he’s dreamed of?

But when he meets a man he can’t resist, Titus realizes he’s stifled a part of himself…and a part of his dream. He can’t trust another man ever again, but he can manage a little summer fling, right? Wrong—everything about the mysterious Draven calls to him, and the two share a connection Titus has never dreamed of.

That’s already mind-blowing, but learning the truth about Draven is world-shattering. With evil threatening, and old enemies closing in, Titus will have to believe in things he didn’t know were possible if he and Draven are to stand a chance…

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of fighting, reference to murder and abusive relationships and arson.

Publisher’s Note: This book was previously published as Across the Tides. It has been revised and reedited for publication with Pride Publishing.

Excerpt

“Come on, kids, let’s see if we can find any shells!” Titus Eisenhower nodded to the parent volunteers forming a human wall between the Pre-K children and the ocean, keeping the kids from getting in past their ankles. The annual field trip to the beach was one of the highlights of the school year for the kids and teachers alike.

Seeing the children’s faces lit up with joy, hearing their shrieks of—mostly—laughter, watching them run and splash in the bit of water they could reach…it made his heart swell every single time he got to take part in this trip, and this was his fifth with one of his classes.

The other teachers were at his sides, vigilant, but when it came to children and water, all parents, all adults, needed to be watching the whole group.

This year’s parents were great. He’d only had one pissed-off dad who had refused to let his child go since he couldn’t just hang out with his kid. Other than that, there’d been plenty of parent volunteers, and, wonder of wonders, they got on well, too. Last year, two of the dads had gotten into a fist fight over some perceived insult. That had been a disaster.

“God, I bet we don’t ever get such a great group of parents again,” said Stacy Evans, his best friend and colleague. She’d been hired the same year he had, and they’d become fast friends. Stacy’s bright-orange hair was all over the place as the beach breeze whipped it about. She shoved uselessly at several flapping strands. “Why, oh why don’t hair ties work for me?”

“Honey, that hair can’t be tamed any more than you can,” quipped Michelle Ochoa. She was older than Titus and Stacy, but not by too many years. “You’re as wild and powerful as the wind.”

Michelle was also Stacy’s girlfriend, though no one but Titus knew that.

Stacy laughed. “Whatever. When I’m blinded by my own hair, then what’ll I do?”

“Mr. Eisenhowew, I finded a shell!” Little Bobby Garza hopped in place as he waved a sandy glob in the air. “Wook!”

Titus grinned and jogged over to Bobby before squatting so he could be eye to eye with the boy. “Hey, you did! That’s awesome! Want to dip it in the next wave and see if we can get the sand off?”

“Yes!” Bobby’s delighted shriek made Titus’ ears ache, but the rest of him filled with sheer wonder and delight. He loved his job, and he loved the kids, loved seeing them grow and learn. It made him less cynical every time he saw the world shine in a child’s eyes.

“Then let’s do it.”

Titus got the other kids to show their treasures. A couple were upset that they didn’t find good shells, but, overall, everything was going surprisingly well.

After they’d got the kids lined up—and allowed the parent volunteers to take their kids home in their own vehicles, rather than making them ride the buses—Titus took a moment to look back at the ocean. The waves were slight, which was normal for this area of the coast. It was only one-thirty in the afternoon, so the sun was high and bright, the reflection on the water exquisite in its beauty.

“Just think…next weekend, we’re going to be here in our own beachfront condo, partying—or relaxing, more likely—for a whole seven days,” Stacy said, her soft voice breaking into Titus’ quiet appreciation of the view.

Not that he minded. He grinned at Stacy. “You and me and some margaritas,” he promised.

Stacy nodded. “Darn right. I’m so looking forward to it.”

“Me, too.” Titus and Stacy had started their beach tradition their first year at the school. Michelle and Stacy hadn’t been dating then. They’d fallen for each other a little over two years ago, but Michelle didn’t come to the beach vacations. She had prior commitments with her family in Michigan that took her away.

Titus privately thought Michelle didn’t want to intrude, and he had mixed feelings about that. He didn’t want to be a third wheel, but he hated to think Stacy might regret Michelle not being there.

“Stop brooding,” Stacy said, poking his arm. “You’re going to get wrinkles all over your forehead and around your eyes before you hit thirty if you keep doing that.”

“I wasn’t brooding,” Titus protested, immediately trying to smooth out his features.

“Yeah? Then what were you frowning at?” Stacy asked.

“Y’all need to hurry up—we have to get on the road,” Michelle called out to them.

“Oops, we’re holding everyone up.” Titus grinned, relieved at being saved from having to answer Stacy’s question.

“I’ll keep bugging you until you answer me,” Stacy promised as they rushed to the buses.

Titus could have protested, but he knew better. Besides, all he had to do was tell Stacy the truth—he didn’t want her to feel like Michelle wasn’t welcome.

But he’d keep the other truth to himself—that he was lonely, and when he’d looked out over the water, that sense of loneliness had permeated his happiness, and now, melancholy lingered in the place where joy had been. Yes, I’ll definitely keep that secret.

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MY REVIEW – 5 stars!

Shifters, Demi-gods, an abusive ex, and a human… this book has a bit of everything, and it’s perfectly blended.

Titus isn’t out of the closet, for fear of losing his job, but when a summer fling turns into something more he has to decide which is more important… his job or the shifter he’s fallen for.

The book has tons of hot, sexy scenes, a bit of drama, some action, and an unexpected twist! I thoroughly enjoyed In Deep and hope we get to read more about Draven’s family in upcoming books. Both Titus and Draven were a mix of soft hearted and ready to kill to protect those they love. I thought the characters were well balanced and their instant attraction worked well for a fantasy romance.

Can’t wait to see what happens in book two!

About the Author

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

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Release Blitz: Must Love Cats by Angela Addams #paranormalromance #eroticromance #reverseharem @totally_bound @firstforromance

Must Love Cats by Angela Addams

Word Count: 68,373
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 268

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS
PARANORMAL
REVERSE HAREM
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

Four fiercely protective shifters. A curse and a ghost town. A bunch of wily cats and one woman who can save them all.

Lucki Collins has landed the job of a lifetime—Cat Keeper of Lady Clover’s Cat House in Weeping Falls, Alaska.

Lucki discovers early on that Weeping Falls is cursed and that the cats she’s there to care for are the townspeople, who must abide by the cycle of the sun and moon—taking cat form during the day and human form at night. They are magical creatures known as ‘familiars’, who can enhance the powers of a witch considerably, the very thing that puts them in danger.

Lucki meets her protectors—Reuben, a bear shifter, Wren, a wolf shifter, Ben, a hawk shifter, and Julian, a lion shifter—who must not only keep her and the cats safe, but also somehow convince her to bond with them. Their magical bond is the only thing that will give Lucki control over her powers, which are necessary to defeat Angelica, a sorceress who wants to capture all the cats and use them for her evil goals. Lucki hasn’t had the best experience with love, but rather than leave the men hopeless, she offers to help them break the curse by another means.

Things don’t go according to plan, and Lucki is left with the challenge of overcoming her past and setting aside her fears. If she can believe in herself and put her faith in love once again, she might just be able to triumph over evil and save the people she has come to deeply care about in Weeping Falls.

Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of public sex, references to emotionally/psychologically abusive sex, the death of a parent from cancer, graphic and gory violence, the death of a major character and murder of animals.

Excerpt

Cat Keeper of Weeping Falls. It sounds like a joke, right? Cat Keeper… What the hell kind of job is that?

“The best job in the mothereff”—burp—“ing world!” Lucki Collins raised her almost empty pint of beer and cheered the crowd of rowdy townspeople who were seated all around her. The burn of too much booze heated her cheeks, and the ache from so much laughing had her cradling her side. She was being treated like a queen and didn’t care if she was making an ass of herself.

“Cheers to our new Cat Keeper. May your time here be ever filled with joy.” Mr. Rose an elderly man with a bright red nose and long white whiskers, raised his glass, which was filled with…milk. It was the only thing he’d been drinking all night.

Lucki figured it had to be mixed with bourbon or something. The man was way too cheerful to be sober. They’re all way too cheerful. The entire town of Weeping Falls, a population of a hundred at most, had welcomed her with open arms the second she’d cleared the town line—and hadn’t stopped welcoming her.

“To our blessed Cat Keeper!” Everyone cheered, raising their glasses, thumping on the tables, laughing, singing.

They were in the tavern, a throwback to the old West, complete with its swinging doors and long curved bar, plank wood floors that were scuffed and dented and an old-time piano that one of the residents had been playing since Lucki had gotten there. Everyone was dressed in the fashion of the time too—from the cowboy hats to the heel spurs, corsets and billowing skirts. Lucki truly felt like she’d stepped into the olden days—and she loved it.

Weeping Falls had been an actual mining town back in the day. Now it was barely hanging on as a ghost town tourist attraction—the Wild West in Alaska. There wasn’t much in the way of bookings, from what she’d gathered. The only visitor was her, and she was soon to be a resident too. She’d be Lady Clover’s Cat Keeper, responsible for tending to a massive cat colony who’d been bequeathed a mansion and a trust fund and who called Weeping Falls home.

When she’d been offered the job, she’d thought she’d heard wrong.

“Cat keeper? What kind of job is that?”

Scout, the man who’d found her, had answered her simply and honestly. “We can’t afford a trained vet to come. You have almost all the requirements and a lot of experience working with animals. You’ll do.”

Lucki had been working at shelters her whole life. Always a tender heart around those injured or in need of love, she’d solely manned a cat sanctuary in her hometown until a fire had taken out the entire colony the past summer. It had nearly destroyed her heart to lose all those precious lives.

Scout had come knocking on her door one morning, claiming he’d heard about her compassion toward the felines and had wanted to offer her a new job as Cat Keeper for Lady Clover’s Cat House in Weeping Falls, Alaska.

It had seemed like a good idea at the time—a windfall, actually. Everyone knew she was destined to be a crazy cat lady anyway, and now she was going to be paid to fulfill that dream. It sounded pretty freakin’ perfect to her.

Besides, she had another reason to leave home—a big, six-foot-two, built-like-a-brick-house reason whom she wanted no reminder of ever again. He’d be in jail for another year at least, and by the time he got out, he’d find no trace of her. That gave her some measure of peace.

Her heart had been crushed, battered and beaten enough over the last ten years. She needed this escape, and Scout’s offer had come at the perfect moment. Time would heal all wounds—or so she’d heard—but cuddling with a bunch of cats would make that time sweeter.

And there hadn’t been a moment of regret—not one. She’d spent more than a day on the road with only a brief stop to rest, travelling all the way from her hometown in northern British Columbia.

It was a long way to come for a bunch of cats.

Best decision ever!

She downed what was left of her beer then snorted in the most unladylike way when another full pint slid in front of her.

“Oh boy, no way!” She laughed. “You people are going to get me totally wasted.”

“Aww, lass, no harm,” Andy Crawlie drawled. “We’re just happy yer finally here. We’ve been waitin’ on ya fer a vera long time.”

That had been what it had been like the entire night. They’d fed her delicious food until she was stuffed, then they’d started pouring the beer, keeping her glass full while they sang and laughed and told stories. There were enough people in the tavern that she lost track of all the names and keeping everyone straight. But she had plenty of time to learn them.

Lucki giggled but pushed the glass away. “Thank you for all your generosity, everyone.” She had to raise her voice to be heard over the music playing. “I think I should head back to Lady Clover’s, though. It’s late… Wait! How late is it?” Her phone had stopped working at some point during the night. She imagined that cell service was spotty at best around here anyway. She made a mental note to ask someone about it in the morning when her thoughts were clearer.

“Oh, it’s hardly after midnight, dear,” Sandy Evernight said as she picked up Lucki’s beer and took a sip for herself. “But if you must go, we’ll send you with an escort, to make sure you get back to the house in one piece.”

“An escort?” Lucki pushed her chair back. The wood feet thudded across the floor, giving Lucki a bit of a fight to stand.

“It’s always a good idea around here.” Sandy shrugged, her cheeks bright. She had a glint in her eyes that made Lucki question if there was a punchline coming. “‘Cause of the wild animals and such.”

“Wild animals?” Lucki frowned, her good mood taken down a notch. Not a joke, then. Right, because you’re in the middle of freakin’ Alaska! Spring is coming. Of course there are animals roaming around.

“Och, Sandy, quit scaring the girl. You want her to pick up and leave before she’s even settled in?” Mr. Rose said. “Rueben’s out there watchin’ for her. He’ll make sure she gets home safe.”

“Oh, Reuben’s around?” Sandy winked, aiming another sly smile at Lucki. “Didn’t know. Hadn’t seen him.”

“Don’t be daft, woman.” Andy tsked.

“You’ll be fine, Lucki,” Mr. Rose said with a reassuring pat on her arm. “Just be sure to put your coat on. The nights are still bitter cold around here.”

Someone handed Lucki her giant parka as she stood on wobbly legs, the beers rushing through her system worse than she’d first thought. “Thanks.” She slipped herself inside the warm down coat and instantly shivered as the heat embraced her. It would soon be too hot to be wearing inside the tavern. That was for sure. “I’ll see you all in the morning.”

Everyone mumbled something at her in response, but as she moved toward the door, she realized they just as soon returned to their drinking and joking, seeming to forget all about her. Looking over her shoulder at the group, she smiled once again. Such a fun bunch of folks. Unusual, sure, but also warm and embracing. Their unquestioning friendliness was like a comfort blanket around her heart. And that was something she really, really needed.

She pushed through the doors and blinked against the cold bite of the air. Icy wind shot up her nose and stung her brain. Sandy had said it was spring and she wasn’t wrong, calendar wise, but the weather up here was not any kind of spring that Lucki had ever experienced. Even in Canada, where the winters could get brutal, May usually came with milder temperatures, even at night.

But today was only May first, she reminded herself. Beltane. The familiar stir of longing rattled through her. In years past, Beltane was always a night she’d enjoyed with others. With him. Marking the coming of spring, Beltane was a celebration of new growth and fertility, and usually involved a night of ritual, song and dance, bonfires and, in her adult life, a lot of sexual exploration. This was the first time in many years that she would be alone.

But the past is the past, and it’s better to be alone and happy than with someone and miserable.

“Blessed be,” she said with a sigh.

She let her eyes adjust to the night then looked up at the impossibly bright stars overhead. She’d never seen so many in her life. She scanned the sky, hoping to see the Northern Lights, which she’d read about when she had been trying to research what to expect in Alaska, but the only light was from the stars and the moon, which was near full. Beautiful. She took in a deep breath, ignoring the burn of the cold air as it ripped up her nose again, freezing her nostrils. Refreshing, sure, but also painful. She chuckled to herself then took a few steps off the porch.

The gritty earth crunched under her feet. It was a strangely comforting sound that broke up the silence of the night and gave Lucki something to focus on other than the shadowed buildings.

The town consisted of a main strip with all the old ghost-town amenities—a barbershop with its candy-cane stripe, a hotel down the road, grocery store, shoemaker, blacksmith and even a church. There was a carriage without its horses and bundles of hay off to the side. It was so old-world and yet not. There were modern amenities as well—like the streetlamps, which were a little too far apart for Lucki’s liking, and a few cars parked here and there.

She flipped up her hood, suddenly feeling the cold worse as it whipped down the back of her neck, making her shiver right to her bones. Lady Clover’s Cat House was at the other end of the strip. The lights of the mansion shone from almost every window, a guiding beacon, so it would be impossible to not find her way there.

My new home. Hard to really fathom. It was three stories of old-world charm. Painted yellow like the sun, it had stained-glass multicolored windows with white shutters to frame them and a wraparound porch that could fit a hundred people with no problem. There was even a swinging chair there for her to lounge on in the warmer months, and she so looked forward to reading a few books out there with some cats on her lap. It was a house she could only dream of living in one day, and here she was walking down a dirt road, on her way to spending her first night in a castle of cats. Bliss.

Although this particular bliss included a pretty frosty walk. The cold bit at her cheeks and stung her eyes, so she walked faster. The noise from the partiers dimmed behind her. The silence of Alaska greeted her with each step she took toward her new home. She could fall in love with a place like this. It was so peaceful. So simple. She didn’t miss the buzzing white noise that she’d grown accustomed to back home or the constant urgency to check her phone for messages. She was unplugged. Calm. At peace.

“Meow.”

Lucki stopped in her tracks. Ohhhhhhh, one of the cats? She hadn’t met any of them yet, but she was eager to.

“Kitty?”

“Meeeeeow.”

She shifted her hood so she could look all around. “Here, kitty. Come here, kitty. Let me see you!” She felt no shame in her excitement over meeting the cats. She looked forward to bonding with each of them. She’d been warned it was quite a large colony, a hundred at least. “Here, kitty!”

“Meow!”

She felt a nudge against her boot and shifted her hood to look down. The coat was so bulky that she could hardly see her own feet.

“Mr. Whiskers?” she said, as she swooped down to pick up her own cat. “What are you doing out here all alone, baby?” The only cat to have survived the fire was one of her favorites, a mangy brown tabby she called Mr. Whiskers. She’d brought him with her to Alaska but had left him safe and sound in the house—or so she’d thought. “How’d you get out here?”

“Muuuuurrrrow!” He purred like an engine and nuzzled into her arms as she stroked him.

“Well, you silly boy, let’s get you back inside where it’s warm.”

She walked, the crunch of her feet on the gravelly dirt road a distraction again. She pulled her attention from the ground and scanned the buildings around her.

“It’s awfully dark.” In between the streetlights was pitch black, and unusual shadows had collected in those places, keeping just out of reach from the lights. In each of those in-between spaces were alleys that were so opaque that they were impenetrable without a flashlight.

Creepy. The sobering reality of being completely alone in the middle of a town where she didn’t really know anyone slithered down her spine. If she called out, would anyone hear her?

The faint sound of music from the tavern drifted toward her. Nope…probably not.

She also kind of felt like she was being watched. Paranoia? Maybe. The tickling at the back of her neck had her scrunching her shoulders, and she picked up her pace all the same.

“Where’s this Reuben guy everyone is talking about?” she whispered to Mr. Whiskers, but he didn’t say anything back. He just purred in his contented kitty way. No fucks given.

The cat house was only about thirty feet ahead, if that. The urge to bolt the rest of the way poked her from all sides, but she was scared that if she did that, she’d drop the cat or freak him out enough to make him claw his way over her face.

Just one more alley to cross. She moved a little to the center of the street, putting some distance between her and the black maw of nothing on her left.

As she crossed the alley, she heard a noise. Low and quiet at first, it was a rumble of sound that she didn’t know quite how to place. It froze her in her tracks, though. There was definitely a menacing tone to it, like a warning. A growl.

“Do you hear that, Mr. Whiskers?” She couldn’t keep the quiver out of her voice. Keep walking.

Mr. Whiskers stopped purring. In fact, he stopped moving and was frozen in her arms, his body rigid as he stared down the alley, a murmur of a hiss growing in his belly.

The growling from the alley came again. It was definitely not friendly. Oooooh nooooo…

Something dazzled, a blink of light, then twin orbs of blue appeared to be floating in the darkness. So pretty. The slow grind of gravel under foot, deliberate careful movements, didn’t bring Lucki any comfort. “What is that?”

She unlocked her knees then took a step back. Then another. The sound got louder. The growl grew in strength with each step toward her until it was a warning she couldn’t ignore. She moved back quickly, almost stumbling on her own feet. Out of the shadows came a giant dog, its teeth bared, eyes menacing.

No, not a dog.

A wolf!

“H-h-holy shit,” Lucki stammered.

The wolf crouched, ready to pounce.

I’m going to die.

Mr. Whiskers hissed a growl of his own then leaped from her arms and she, the stupid fool, chased after him—right up to the wolf, within feet of the menacing beast. Mr. Whiskers stood between them, his fur fluffed out and back arched. He gave a hiss of warning with a paw raised, ready to strike.

“Mr. Whiskers, are you nuts?” Her voice was barely loud enough for anyone to hear. It was a croak instead of a scream. No one would come to her rescue. “Help!” Her voice failed her once again, coming out as a half whisper, strangled by her fear. The wolf watched her, its eyes searing deep inside. It ignored the cat completely.

What is the right move? Why didn’t I research this?

What to do if a wolf stalks you…yeah…that.

The wolf took a menacing step in her direction, its predator glare never wavering. Lucki’s legs shook with an alarming sway. Her knees were literally knocking together. If she tried to run, she’d fall flat on her face for sure.

Running with a predator giving chase was probably not a great idea anyway.

The cat launched itself, jumping toward the wolf.

Her voice unlocked. “Mr. Whiskers, no!”

But it was too late. The cat struck a clawed paw against the wolf’s muzzle, causing it to growl and lower its head. Lucki thought for sure Mr. Whiskers was gonna lose all nine lives in one go, but Mr. Whiskers didn’t get the memo on that. He struck again, quick and determined, a claw swipe against the wolf’s nose.

Lucki quickly calculated the odds of snatching the cat up as she ran. It didn’t look good. She was not that coordinated.

She sucked in a deep breath, then opened her mouth to scream.

The wolf took a step back, its head bowed…in…submission?

What the…? Her scream died on her tongue.

Mr. Whiskers, still all puffed out, still defending his human, was no longer on the attack. He even seemed to have a smug grin as he tossed a glance in Lucki’s direction. The wolf stayed down, muzzle lowered to the ground, its eyes blinking rapidly.

“Get outta here if you aren’t going to be civilized,” a booming voice said from behind.

The wolf flicked its eyes up, looked behind Lucki for a moment, then it bolted away into the darkness of the alley.

“Sorry, hon. Got caught up in a conversation and didn’t realize you were leaving so soon.”

Lucki glanced behind her, then did a double take. A huge, burly man stomped toward her. He had to be at least six-five, six-six. He wasn’t wearing a coat, just a blue lumberjack shirt, rolled up at the sleeves, that showed some impressively muscled forearms. His brown hair was parted to the side and his soft eyes crinkled with what kind of looked like amusement. The lower half of his face was covered with a beard, close cropped and well kept. This guy was a bear—a huge, lumberjack bear. He had an easy smile and a dimple, and he was so disarming that Lucki smiled back, that and her panties melted right then and there.

“I’m Reuben.” His voice had the kind of husky depth that stroked her soul.

Her legs quivered.

She cleared her throat to get the lusty lump of drool out of the way. “There’s a wolf…” She turned her head to the alley, but the wolf was definitely gone. Mr. Whiskers nudged her to be picked up.

“Yeah, I saw.” Reuben radiated heat. It literally steamed off him. He came up next to her then placed a firm hand on her back, which instantly steadied her legs. “Let’s get you to the house before you freeze to death.”

“A wolf, though…” She turned her head from side to side, scanning the area as she bent down to pick up the cat.

“He’s gone now. Don’t worry about him.” Reuben’s voice was so sure, so confident, so soothing. “Happy to finally meet you,” he added.

“Was that real?” The adrenaline that had coursed through her body crashed out of her in a whoosh. She took a step but her legs crumbled out from under her.

“Whoa there!” Reuben swooped in and held her upright. “They been pouring drinks into you? Those beasts don’t ever learn.”

Her head was clear. Any buzz she’d had from the booze had burned through her. It had to be shock that was making her dizzy and disoriented now. She could have died. Mr. Whiskers had done his best, but really, that wolf could have eaten her in a few bites.

“I got ya.” Reuben picked her up then cradled her and the cat in his arms.

She gasped, more to herself, as she looked up at him. “You’re a big guy.” She was in the arms of a mountain.

He chuckled. “I am.” He hitched her up higher. “Let’s get you home, shall we? Then we can properly introduce ourselves. It’s Beltane, you know, a good night for introductions.” He smiled, his dimple popping and his eyes glistening.

His wink to follow undid her completely.

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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: Hex and the Single Girl by Alexis Fleming #paranormalromance #eroticromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

Hex and the Single Girl by Alexis Fleming

Book 3 in the Lucifer Inc! series

Word Count: 25,039
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 99

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
PARANORMAL
SECOND CHANCE

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Book Description


How’s a hexy chick gonna get laid if even breathing is an adventure sport?

Sabrina—Sabby to her friends—is a hex, a pariah. Even Lucifer crosses the road to avoid her. Everyone avoids her…except the sex-mad humpomaniac imps, that is. Chaos demons are known for…well, chaos. And for Sabrina, chaos equals misery, until she’s dragged to Earth by literary historian Jude Morrisey. Human, good-looking and definitely sex on legs, Jude is enough to set her libido on high alert. Now if she can just keep her chaos magic from ripping his life apart, things might be looking up.

When Jude accidentally summons a demon, his staid bachelor world erupts into an unholy mess. Someone’s sabotaging his career and his job’s almost down the gurgler. Sex-crazed imps invade his house and hump his appliances. The biggest shock of all is the sexy Calamity Jane who appears in his attic insisting she’s his jinx.

Harmony, peace and his staid life are out of the attic window, but here’s the thing… Can he keep his hands off the delectable walking disaster long enough to work out what’s going on?

Anarchy, bedlam, chaos… It’s all in a day’s work for a hexy chick.

Reader advisory: This book contains a brief scene of violence and attempted murder.

Excerpt

“Now that’s just plain tacky, girl. I hope you don’t plan to wear that outside. Oh, and I have to tell you… Those high heels just don’t go with that outfit.”

Sabrina—Sabby to her friends—spun about and stared at the woman who’d appeared without so much as a peep in the dark recesses of the library. She instinctively raised her arms and tried to cover her breasts, but this stupid costume didn’t have enough fabric to even manage that. Forget the rest of her body. It just wasn’t going to work.

“I don’t plan on wearing it anywhere, Aunt Luce,” she responded before directing a dark frown at the other occupant of the room. “Brel-ez figured he’d try to talk me into wearing it for the imps’ party tonight. I only tried it on to show him how ridiculous it was. And by the way, a little sonic boom or some hellfire or something to announce your imminent arrival might have been nice.”

“I am Lucifer, Supreme Ruler of Hell. I go where I please, how I please.” She drew herself up to her full height, her eyes flashing red sparks.

It took all Sabby’s willpower to keep a straight face. It wouldn’t do to annoy her Lordship by laughing at her, even if it was funny. Aunt Luce wasn’t much more than five feet three inches tall, but what she lacked in stature, she made up for with presence. As the ruler of Hell, she was a formidable lady and a dangerous opponent.

“Sorry, Aunt Luce. I didn’t mean to offend you. I’m just a tad embarrassed to be caught wearing this.” She gestured to the outrageous outfit.

“I would think so. It’s nothing short of disastrous. Human or demon, no woman should be seen in this.”

Lucifer frowned as she walked a circle around Sabby, her high heels clacking on the flag tiles that made up the floor of the dungeon-library. She shuddered when she stood in front of Sabby again.

“Leopard print is so out now, and that itty-bitty G-string is…” She broke off and shuddered again. “Doesn’t it hurt your girly bits, pulled up between your butt cheeks like that? And the rest of it… A flimsy scrap of material over a bra that barely covers your boobies and nothing but transparent scarves attached to a band around your waist. What is this? The dance of the seven veils? If you want to change your image, girl, you’d do better to emulate me.”

Sabby had to fight to control her emotions again. There was no doubt that Aunt Luce had a distinctive style. She looked like everyone’s idea of a cuddly grandmother. Slightly chubby—although Sabby would never tell her that—she mostly favored twin sets and pearls teamed with a tweed skirt. Her hair was a snowy-white halo that curled around her face. She did, on occasion, tip the ends with vibrant reds and purples to match whatever-color shoes she had on. Sporting long nails—or more correctly ‘talons’—she matched her shoes with her nail polish. And those shoes? Nothing but three-inch-high stilettos in bright colors for Aunt Luce. Today’s color was scarlet.

Before Sabby felt forced to comment on Lucifer’s suggestion, Brel-ez decided to get in on the conversation.

“Your most magnificent Lordship, please tell Sabby she must attend our fancy-dress party tonight. She has to be there. She’s our queen.”

Lucifer rounded on him. “Queen? There is no queen but me. King. Queen. Lord. I am Supreme Ruler. I am all of them—and don’t you forget it.”

Brel-ez, captain of Lucifer’s Herald and head imp, shrank down, which was pretty difficult, given that he was only three feet tall. His little pointy red horns actually quivered as he tried to abase himself before Lucifer.

“So sorry, your Lordship. So sorry, but I found a prophesy in an old book and I’m sure it refers to Sabby.”

“I told him it’s all rubbish, but he won’t believe me,” Sabby chipped in.

“What prophesy?” Lucifer’s voice thundered throughout the library.

Holy Hell, Aunt Luce is really getting angry. Sabby just prayed that Brel-ez could extricate himself from this before Lucifer zapped him out of annoyance.

Brel-ez quickly retrieved a slip of paper from the pocket of his red-and-gold uniform and read it out loud.

“When the small stand up and fight against the law,

When the hungry hold out their hands asking for more,

When the greedy profit to improve their lot in life,

Unconcerned that their everlasting legacy is strife,

When pandemonium erupts and floods the world above,

Then the queen of chaos reigns—and the winner is love.”

Brel-ez shoved the paper back into his pocket and held out his hands to Lucifer. “See? Sabby’s a chaos demon, the only one living down here in the first level of Hell. It must be her.”

Lucifer burst out laughing, all her anger appearing forgotten. “Oh, you silly imp. That’s no prophesy. Bet you found that in an old diary buried here in the library, yes?”

Brel-ez nodded.

“My great-great-great grandfather fancied himself a poet. That’s one of his—and not a prophesy at all. And I’m the queen of chaos. You got that?”

Brel-ez nodded again and opened his mouth to speak. Before he could, Lucifer held up one finger.

“Is it important?”

“Definitely, your Lordship.”

He nodded so hard that Sabby was certain he was about to lose his head. And he would if he didn’t watch what he said to Lucifer.

Aunt Luce sighed. “Get on with it, Brel-ez.”

“Sabby has to come to the party. Otherwise, how else can she get la—?”

“Brel-ez,” Sabby shouted. Damn it, can’t that imp keep his mouth shut for once?

Now Lucifer turned her attention back to Sabby, her eyebrows raised in question. There was no way she’d back down if she didn’t get an answer straight away.

“She wants to get laid,” Brel-ez shouted.

“Way to keep a secret, imp.” She scowled at the little captain with the cocky grin spreading across his face. She turned to Lucifer. “I’m a twenty-five-year-old almost-virgin. Why shouldn’t I get laid before I bury myself down here in your damp dungeon?”

“It might have been a dungeon in the past, but it’s my library now. And I’ll have you know that there’s no dampness down here. It would ruin the books.” Lucifer frowned as she stared at Sabby. “Well, I guess there’s nothing wrong with going to Brel-ez’s party, but I’d choose another costume if I were you. One deep breath and those boobies of yours will pop over the top of that scrap of a bra.”

Brel-ez burst out laughing. “Hey, Sabby, that will sure get you a lover for the night.”

“Oh, be quiet, Brel-ez,” Sabby snapped, holding her hand over her chest as she dragged in a choppy breath. “It just so happens that I don’t want a demon to teach me all about the joys of sex.”

“Just because you look human and can’t change shape or form, you’re still a demon, my girl. What’s wrong with a demon lover?” Lucifer demanded.

“I’d rather practice on a human man—a real one. I screwed up every relationship I ever tried when I lived above. I want to give it one last shot, to see if I can make it work. Hopefully, now that I’m older, I won’t create as much of a mess as I’ve done in the past.”

Lucifer snorted. “You’re a chaos demon, girl. Of course you’re going to leave behind disorder and mayhem. And you know why? Your parents never got around to teaching you how to control your powers. Instead, they just shipped you off to me when it looked like your uncontrolled magic would expose them as demons. No thought for you at all. If your mother wasn’t one of my best friends…”

Sabby winced as Lucifer actually growled. She couldn’t really blame Aunt Luce. She’d been a trial for her parents from the time she’d been born. By the time she’d hit puberty and started to notice the opposite sex, the problems had simply gotten worse. Everything she’d tried her hand at, whether it had been jobs or relationships, had ended in disaster. Now here she was, buried in this dark library where she couldn’t cause any problems.

She sighed. “I’m sorry, Aunt Luce. I know I’m a misfit, but I do try. In fact, I think I am doing better. The library has run without a hitch for a couple of years now. I just want this last shot. If I screw it up, I promise I’ll come back here and never complain again.”

Her heels clacking on the flagstone floor, Lucifer moved close enough to give Sabby a hug. “Sabrina, you’re one of my goddaughters. I want you to be happy.” She grimaced. “I don’t apologize often, but I am sorry I parked you down here in this dark old dungeon. I should have taken you in hand and taught you how to use your magic, but I took the easiest way out.”

She released her hold on Sabby and strode across the room before turning to face her again. “You think this will make you happy? Getting down and dirty with a human male?”

Sabby chuckled at Aunt Luce’s turn of phrase. “I’d like to at least give it a go.”

“Hmm-m,” Lucifer mused. “Anyone in mind? It has to be someone who pushes your buttons.”

Someone who pushes my buttons?

Oh yeah! There was one person who came immediately to mind. When Sabby had been a kid, her best friend and neighbor had been a girl called Brianna. They’d been more like sisters than friends. They’d done everything together, and Sabby had loved spending time at Brianna’s home—but not just because Brianna had been her best mate.

Brianna had an older brother. He was eleven years older than she was, but he was oh-so-sexy. Sabby had hero-worshiped him, but as time had gone on, that had morphed into the biggest of crushes. By the time Sabby had reached her later teens, he had moved out, but Sabby had hung on his every word whenever he’d come to visit his parents.

Brianna’s folks had been terrific. Never once had they chastised her for her klutzy behavior. They’d just kept telling her she’d grow out of it eventually. And when Brianna’s brother came to visit, Sabby had followed him about like a bad smell, falling over her feet to keep up with him. Heck, even falling over his feet.

She smiled at the memories, wondering for a moment what had happened to him. Heat suddenly invaded her mind. Sabby frowned. For a moment there she could have sworn that invisible fingers had done a quick tour through her memories, one after the other—like someone—or something—hastily flicking through the pages of a book. Weird.

Sabby shook her head. Then, with a determined effort, she buried all thoughts of her juvenile crush in the back of her mind. Nothing had come of it and never would. It was time she settled for whatever she could get.

“No, no one special, Aunt Luce. I’d just like to go back above for one last time.”

“Well, in that case—”

“Nooo,” Brel-ez broke in. “Sabby has to come to our party. What am I going to tell the demons I’ve lined up to scr—er, romance her?”

“Brel-ez, you didn’t…? I don’t believe you’d do that to me,” Sabby said.

“I was just trying to help,” the little demon whined.

This time Lucifer cut him off. “I’m the one who makes the decisions here in Hell. You don’t get to say what happens in my domain.” She flicked out her hand and a spear of white-hot light erupted from the tip of one finger. It zeroed in on Brel-ez and zapped him on the rear end. The imp let out a yelp and smacked at the smoldering fabric of his pants.

Lucifer turned back to Sabby. “And you, missy. Is this really what you want?”

Sabby nodded, unable to say a word in case her godmother changed her mind.

“Then so be it. I’ll give you a month. After that, regardless of what happens, you come back here. Okay?”

Before Sabby could nod, a sonic boom resounded throughout the library. Pungent smoke swirled about Sabby and caught in her throat. She started to shake. First there were vibrations deep in her belly. Then they spread out to totally encompass her whole body. There was time for one last thought before Sabby disintegrated into a stream of airborne atoms.

Yeah, baby, let’s get to the sex part.

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About the Author

Alexis Fleming

Alexis Fleming writes stories dominated by sassy women and sexy macho men, by mouthy shifters and the odd delicious demon. You’ll experience crazy, laugh-out-loud moments as you live vicariously through the antics of her characters. The magic of the paranormal and the suspense of a mystery to solve will tantalize all the way until the end.
Based in north Queensland, Australia, when Alexis is not interfering in the lives of her imaginary friends, she’s happy to get caught up with family and help her daughter, author Kelly Ethan, plot her next murderous adventure for her stories.

Nothing like keeping it in the family.

You can find Alexis at her website.

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Release Blitz & Review: The Depths of Time by Lori Fayre #timetravel #eroticromance #LGBTQ @firstforromance @pridepublishing

The Depths of Time by Lori Fayre

Word Count: 44,191
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 172

Genres:

EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
GAY
GLBTQI
HISTORICAL
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE
TIMETRAVEL

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Book Description

An obsession with the past becomes his love story.

Obsessed with RMS Titanic from a young age, Lucas Thompson has spent his life studying the shipwreck and turning his passion into a career in marine archeology. But, on the one-hundred-year anniversary of the voyage, he’s drawn to the ship’s resting place by a strange sonar ripple that hurtles him back in time. Luke wakes in the year 1912 as a passenger on the grandest ship in the world.

It’s there that he meets Quinton Hawthorne, the man who sacrificed himself to save passengers during the sinking, including Luke’s great-grandmother. He also comes face-to-face with Lucinda Hughes, the very woman who raised him on her stories of the ship. With his inside knowledge of the impending disaster, Luke feels a responsibility to change history and develops a plan to save the doomed ship and its passengers.

Things quickly fall apart as Luke begins to fall for Quinton, knowing that it can only end in heartbreak. Though he’s determined to save Quinton, he’s also faced with a dilemma. Should he save the ship or allow destiny to play out?

Excerpt

April 11, 2012 4:27 pm

Lucas Thompson took a deep breath, allowing the salty sea air to penetrate every inch of his being. As the ship bobbed gently along the waves, Luke knew that this was where he was meant to be. He closed his eyes and stretched out his arms to let the fine spray mist over his face and soak into his dark gray T-shirt.

“Reliving a movie moment, are we?” a voice said behind him. He turned to see Kyle Stanton, Master of the Vessel, standing there with his hands stuffed into his coat pockets. Kyle was an average-looking man, with his dark-brown beard and constantly mussed hair. He wasn’t very tall, but he was strong and seemed to take every opportunity he could to prove so.

“Just taking in the air,” Luke replied. Kyle raised an eyebrow at him.

“Do you mean the nearly forty-degree air?” He began shrugging off his thick jacket. “Come on, Luke. You know better. I can’t have the head man getting sick on me.” Luke rolled his eyes but welcomed the warmth when Kyle placed his coat over Luke’s shoulders. The amount of cologne lingering in the fabric nearly choked him, but he endured it, if only to save Kyle’s feelings.

“Being out here clears my mind. Besides, there’s a whole team of people, and any one of them could take my place on Alice if they needed to. They’ve all been properly trained.” Kyle wrapped an arm around Luke and began to lead him down into the ship. He stopped at the base of the steps and turned to look at Luke.

“This is your expedition,” he said sincerely. He reached up, almost as if he wanted to touch Luke, but stopped himself. “You’re the heart and soul of this trip. You and this crew have been good to me over the past couple of years, you know. I’d follow you anywhere.”

“And what better opportunity to prove that than this wild goose chase?” Luke laughed and handed Kyle his jacket. “Thank you. I’m really glad the gang’s with me on this.” He turned to go to his room, the grin never leaving his face.

Luke pushed the door to his quarters open, shoving at it with his shoulder to widen the entrance. He’d been having to slip in and out of the narrow opening due to the stacks of boxes piled all around the room. Scrolls of maps and schematics littered every surface and boxes of records were stacked so high that Luke feared a paper avalanche might happen at any minute. Even the bed was buried somewhere under the journals and books. As much as he would like to excuse the mess as part of the expedition, both he and his friends knew better.

This was Luke’s collection, formed over the last eighteen years. It was his life’s work, which had started when he was only eight years old. Luke crossed the room and looked over his belongings, eventually coming to stand in front of the culmination of it all—his maritime archeology degree. He smiled sadly.

“This one’s for you, Gam.” Next to the degree hung an old black-and-white photograph of his great-grandmother, Lucinda Hughes. It had been taken back in the thirties and showed Lucinda posing on the beach, a soft breeze lifting her curls and a dazzling smile lighting up the camera. Luke touched the frame, then backed away. He had a lot of work to do before they reached the site.

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MY REVIEW – 5 stars!

For fans of the unsinkable ship and time travel romance, The Depths of Time is a must-read. It’s an emotional, page-turning story full of hope, loss, and love.

When Luke finds himself on board the Titanic, he’s lost and confused. Until he meets Quinton. The man has always fascinated him, but meeting Quinton in person has a much bigger impact on Luke. Falling in love wasn’t part of Luke’s plan. Once he falls for Quinton, he knows he can’t leave the man to die.

The Titanic has always been a fascination of mine. I can’t think about the horror of that night without wanting to cry for all the lives lost. In Lori Fayre’s The Depths of Time, the story of Titanic gets a somewhat happy ending.

About the Author

Lori Fayre

Lori Fayre was born and raised in a small South Georgia town. Her debut novel, “The Devil’s Maverick”, was a novel nearly six years in the making. An obsessive consumer of romance, Lori knew it was the only genre for her. When she’s not writing, she enjoys reading, drawing, or binging Hulu with her husband and Yorkie.

You can find Lori on Twitter and at her website here.

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Release Blitz: Serving the Wicked by Wendi Zwaduk #eroticromance #vampires @firstforromance @totally_bound

Serving the Wicked by Wendi Zwaduk

Book 3 in the The Refuge series

Word Count: 26,027
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 109
Heat Rating: Sizzling
Sexometer: 2

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FANTASY
PARANORMAL
VAMPIRES

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Book Description


A scared human plus a vampire with a secret. Things could be better, but they could be a lot worse.

Raine can’t remember time before the darkness. She’s a human in a paranormal world where humans are a commodity, not people, and she’s been abused by the vampires. When she ends up at the slave auction, she fears her nightmare will never end.

Enter Casey. He’s part vampire, part Fae, dangerous and only has eyes for Raine. He saw her at the BDSM club before she entered the vampire slave world and he swore he’d rescue her. He buys her the instant he sees her on the stage. The innocence in her eyes, combined with the sweetness in her soul calls to him. He wants her to serve him in the bedroom and be his partner everywhere.

She’s been hurt, and he’s a born protector. Can they make the attraction last and turn it into something eternal or will the fear win out?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, fighting and death, as well as references to forced sex and feeding from humans.

Excerpt

“Line up,” the man shouted. “I don’t want to have to sell you again.” He tapped his cane on the floor. “Go. I hate trying to resell used merch.”

Raine winced. She wasn’t merch. She was a human being. The vampires didn’t see her as anyone but a thing. All they wanted to do was drain humans and kill Fae. She clutched the open side of her dress to retain a bit of her modesty. Once on the stage, she’d have to strip so the buyers could look her over. She averted her gaze. Humans had no choice but to be sold to the highest bidder.

“Go.” The man whacked her on the ass with the cane.

She crept onto the stage and gritted her teeth. She couldn’t look into the audience. One girl had been hauled off and killed for doing so. The buyers were all seated in the dark, and she’d be in the bright spotlight.

Another man, one with a spray can, walked up to her. He painted the number three on her bare chest.

She winced again. It’d taken her two days to remove the paint the last time she’d been up for sale, and her skin had been raw from the scrubbing. Worst of all? She hadn’t been sold.

The first two girls were described, and Raine fought the instinct to shiver. Her turn was next.

“Look at number three. She’s a little thicker than most humans. It means she’s got juicy thick blood. She’s trained. Won’t speak out,” the announcer said.

She flattened her palms on her thighs. God. She wasn’t a person any longer.

The announcer grabbed the front of her dress, tearing it the rest of the way open. She couldn’t help the shudder.

“Enough, girl.” The announcer slapped her. “No one wants to buy a wimp.”

Someone grunted, and the announcer closed her dress. “How much? She’s been here before, so she’s got miles on her.”

Her stomach churned. Miles… No one shouted out numbers. She clutched the front of her dress. God. Would someone give a price? Anything? The silence deafened her. All she wanted to do was get out of the spotlight.

“I’ll give you five thousand for number three.” A dark-haired man strode up to the stage. His hair glinted in the light. “Cash.”

She shouldn’t have looked up, but he’d given a price. He did have nice hair—as much of it as she could see.

“Number three?” the announcer asked. “Don’t you want to wait for number four or take number two? For so much money?”

Did the announcer have to be such a jerk? Someone wanted her. Why was that so bad or hard to understand?

“Three,” the man said. He offered the money, then held his hand out to her.

Raine froze. Was she supposed to go with him? She’d never been sold like this. Her first vampire had plucked her out of a crowd of scared, lost humans. The second vampire had killed him and stolen her from a club.

“Go.” The announcer nudged her. “If this fool wants you, then you’d better go before he changes his mind.”

The dark-haired man helped her off the stage. He held her by her waist until her feet touched the cold tiles.

She averted her gaze. The rules stated she couldn’t look at him until she’d left the building. Hopefully, he hadn’t seen her steal a glance at him earlier.

The man draped his suit jacket around her shoulders and guided her out of the sales arena. “My car is over here.”

She shivered again, despite the warmth of the jacket. The scent of him lingered in the rich fabric. She knew that aroma—vampire.

What luck! Three vampires. Her first owner had been a dick, the second one abusive…would this one be the charm? Or the worst of the lot?

He opened the car door. “Sit, please?”

Please? Vampires didn’t say such things. They demanded. She hesitated and found her courage to speak. “Sir?”

“So you do talk?” He laughed. “Please, sit. I want to take you home.”

Raine settled on the passenger side of the car. He closed the door for her and rounded the hood. When he sat beside her, he hit the locks, preventing her from escaping.

She trembled. “Trying to keep me in?” She didn’t look up from her hands. “I won’t run.”

“No one said you would,” he replied. “You’re different from what I expected.”

“Not good enough.” She folded her hands on her lap.

“No.” He brushed her hair from her face. She flinched as he tucked the lock behind her ear. “You’re afraid of me,” he said. “Because I’m a vampire?”

She couldn’t lie. If he wanted to, he could peer into her mind and read her thoughts or he could glamour her to draw the truth out. “Yes.”

“I’m a nasty piece of work, but I’m not like anyone else.” He didn’t turn the engine on or raise his voice. He simply shifted around in his seat. “Look at me.”

“I can’t.” She was human and considered fourth class to vampires.

“You can with me.” He curled his fingers under her chin. “Please?”

She couldn’t comply. Vampires demanded respect, and she needed to give it. No question. She didn’t even know his name.

“I paid a lot of money for you.” He caressed her cheek. “Please look at me and tell me your name.”

“You own me. You can call me whatever you want.” She wasn’t being snippy. He held all the power and the more he reminded her of her cost, the more she wanted to be sick.

“I could,” he said. “But I want to know your name.” He toyed with the lock of her hair. “We need to set some rules.”

Ah. Now he’d show his true colors. She braced herself for his answer. “Okay.”

“First, look at me.” He continued to toy with her hair. “I might have purchased you, but I didn’t do it to own you. I wanted to get you out of that horrible auction.”

She finally looked at him. Fine lines had been etched at the corners of his eyes. Flecks of silver colored his day-old whiskers and at his temples. His dark eyes sparkled, and the muscle in his jaw twitched. If he hadn’t been a vampire, she might have considered him sexy. Who was she kidding? He was sexy.

But he was a vampire and vamps insisted on hurting her.

“What are you going to do with me?” she murmured.

“Take you home, get you some proper clothes, a shower, some food and let you rest,” he said. “When was the last time you slept?”

“I don’t.” She had to keep one eye open in case the vampires attacked.

“You can now. I’ll keep you safe.” He brushed his knuckles across her cheek. “I promise.”

“You’re a vampire.” She frowned. “You could kill me.”

“I could.”

“You said you’re a nasty piece of work.” She trembled but didn’t pull away from him. His touch oddly comforted her. He could destroy her or lull her into complacency and devour her, but he hadn’t—yet.

“I am.” His eyes flashed. “I could kill you right now, but I won’t.”

“Why?” she blurted. “I’m sorry. I spoke out of turn.” She’d said too much for a slave. Any other vampire would’ve hit her by now for being so bold.

“First, I saw you at the club. The night Lomax took you from Isaac. I watched you. I never thought Isaac deserved you, but he had the rights, and I didn’t.” He brushed his thumb across her bottom lip. “You came alive when you played with those masters. The bindings made you happy.”

She shivered. He was right. She enjoyed being at the BDSM club. None of the masters fucked her, but they did spank her and play all sorts of delicious games with her. Wax, spankings, bindings and exhibiting her for all to see. But those games were by mutual consent—not the auction where she’d been forced up there against her will.

“I watched you, entranced.” He smiled. “I wanted you.”

“You did?” She wished she’d known that. He might not have been any better than Isaac, but he had to be a damn lot better than Lomax.

“Lomax beat me to you. He saw you as food. I wanted to play.”

She froze. He’d wanted her? And Lomax had screwed the situation up for them? Of course he had.

He tipped his head, meeting her gaze. “I won’t kill you and I won’t lie to you, either. I want to protect you.”

She didn’t know his name or that he’d seen her before, but he sounded more sincere with every word. She wanted to believe him. He’d purchased her and could do what he wanted, but a tiny shred of her trusted him.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“Raine.”

Raine? He liked the sound of her moniker more than the colorless number three. The name fit her—sad and pretty at the same time. Case rejoiced in the progress he’d made with her.

Raine tugged his suit coat tighter around her. She said nothing, but fear radiated from her.

Casey wanted to know what Lomax had done to her. The girl he’d seen at the club had been more open and free. She’d been happy.

If he’d had a heart, it would’ve ached for her. He remembered the number painted on her chest. Those fucking idiots would paint the girls. He flicked his fingers, removing the paint with his magic. No one should have spray paint on their body.

“Aren’t you going to ask my name?” Casey wanted to tug her into his arms and hold her until she relaxed.

“No.” She didn’t move. “You’re my sir. I should address you as such.”

“Will you call me by my name? I’d prefer it,” he said. “You’re not my slave.”

Her eyes widened.

“I didn’t pay for you to put you to work.” He engaged the engine. A ripple of knowing shot through him. No one would hurt her with him around, but that didn’t mean he wanted to draw attention to them by hanging out in the parking lot.

The vampires had destroyed so much land and with the world plunged into darkness, few felt safe. He possessed means and a safe vehicle, but he didn’t want to lag about.

Raine didn’t relax, but when another car passed his, she clutched his hand.

“You’ll be okay.” He wanted to explain why, but what if she were repulsed by him being part Fae? He’d been ostracized by most of the vampires because of his lineage. The only reason he’d gained entry to the auction was his money. They’d take his cash and ignore his undesirable family line.

She ducked down in the seat. “Will he come looking for me?”

“No.” If Casey had to destroy Lomax and eviscerate him, he would. He’d enhanced the magic around his property to keep anyone from seeing he still had some magic within him. He tapped a button on the gate leading to his home and when the gate parted, he drove inside. The wards around his home provided some protection, but he insisted on the iron gate and a surveillance system as well as his shifter friend, Atell, as a guard dog.

The gate closed, and he drove into the garage. Once the door had shut, Casey parked and turned off the engine. “Let me take you inside. You can eat and bathe.”

She stayed in her seat. “What am I to you?”

“Let’s talk inside. I can hear your stomach growling.” He left the vehicle and rounded the trunk to her side. She took his hand and allowed him to lead her into the house.

“Whoa.” She gasped. “This is your house?”

He needed darkness to sleep, but preferred light. He also loved nice things. He’d decorated his home to reflect his tastes. “This is mine.”

“I’m going to be your cleaning lady, right?” She shied away from him. “Yes?”

“No. I want a companion.” He deposited his keys and phone on the counter. “Cleaning isn’t a problem.” He opened the refrigerator, then gestured to the bar. “Sit. What would you like to eat? Anything. Just name it.”

She stared at him. “Anything?”

“Just tell me.” He withdrew a bottle of wine from the rack. “Drink?”

“Will you make me a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?”

Did she have simple tastes or was she testing him? He poured a glass of wine for her, and a glass of water to go along with it. “Here.” He opened the fridge and created the sandwich with his magic. “And here.”

Raine’s lips parted. She reached for the water glass, then hesitated. “Thank you.”

“Welcome.” He smiled and sat beside her. “Call me Casey.”

She downed the water in one long swallow before gobbling the sandwich.

He gritted his teeth. Damn. She was a curvy girl, but she hadn’t been fed. What kind of asshole would do that to another being? “When was the last time you ate?”

“Are you going to monitor how much I eat?” she asked.

“No.” He’d bet had, though.

“Two days ago.”

“You’re serious?”

“They don’t feed us every day unless we allow them to feed from us.” She tucked into herself. “Sorry.”

“For what?” She hadn’t done anything to be sorry for.

“Rushing.”

“Don’t be.” He flattened his palms on the counter. He no longer felt the chill of the granite. He’d rather hold her than touch cold stone. Her warmth could save some piece of his destroyed soul.

She stared at him. “You’re being nice to me because you feel guilty.”

“I am.” He did feel guilt at not having protecting her when he’d had the chance. But he liked her and wanted to shower her with affection. “But there’s a little more to it.”

“You don’t have to be nice,” she said. “I appreciate it. I haven’t had any dignity in four years—since…” She picked at the sleeve of his jacket. “Anyway, I know my place.”

“Why don’t you have a shower? You deserve to be warm, clean and dry.” He brushed her hair back. “Yes? Then we’ll talk.”

She narrowed her eyes, then sighed. “And I call you Casey?”

“Please?”

“You’re an odd vampire. Most every other one I’ve known wants me for dinner. Either you don’t because you’re weird or you’re lulling me into liking you so I’ll give in. If you are, you don’t have to make me like you. I’ll give in. I know the rules because you bought me. Remember?”

“Why don’t you shower and maybe get some sleep? I won’t kill or drain you.” He wanted her to trust him, but he didn’t want compliancy. Not yet and not outside of the bedroom. He liked her fire and the spunk he’d seen at the club.

“I don’t have much of a choice,” she said. “May I have this?”

“The wine? Of course.” He poured himself a glass of merlot. “Let’s drink to your freedom and new home.”

She stared at him, and he couldn’t read her expression. Wary? Confused? He wasn’t sure.

Casey sipped his wine. “Feel free to use whatever’s in the bathroom. I have no secrets from you.” Not many.

Her eyes widened again, and her lips parted. “You scare me.” She drank the wine in one gulp, then coughed.

Good merlot should be sipped—not gulped. But he hadn’t gone two days without food. “Why do I scare you?”

She shrugged out of his coat. “Because I can’t tell what you’re thinking or what you want from me.”

“Oh?” His previous girl had said he’d telegraphed every move.

“I don’t know what you want and I can’t figure out if you’re telling me the truth.” She left the stool. “I’d like that shower, though, please?”

He kept getting her right to the edge of opening up when she shut down again. Soon, he’d know her secrets, and she’d know his. He led her to the set of rooms along the back of the house. “In here. I’ve got towels, soap and anything you need in the drawers.”

“Even a flat iron?”

She’d volleyed a challenge. Nice. He liked her spirit. “If you want.” He turned the water on in the open stall. “I’ll leave you to your shower.”

“You can watch. I haven’t showered in ages.” She removed her filthy dress. “I used to have guards so I wouldn’t run away. I don’t know what it’s like to have privacy.”

Lomax used guards? Interesting. Casey spied the lines on her back. Lashings? “Were you whipped?”

She shuddered and didn’t turn around “I was told I deserved it.”

He touched the silvery scars. He remembered when he’d seen her at the club, she’d gotten off on being flogged, but not to the point of bloodletting. What she’d been through was abuse. She flinched when he touched her again.

“I’m sorry.” He pressed a kiss to her shoulder. “I’ll never do anything like this to you ever.”

She tensed, but didn’t pull away. “Uh-huh.”

Soon, she’d give him her trust, and he’d prove not all vampires were evil. He wasn’t a nice man—more a son of a bitch—but not with her. She could be his salvation, and he refused to screw that up.

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About the Author

Wendi Zwaduk

Wendi Zwaduk is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to BDSM and LGBTQ themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com and the former AllRomance Ebooks. She also writes under the name of Megan Slayer.

When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

You can find out more about Wendi on her website or on her blog. You can also find her on Instagram, Bookbub and Amazon.

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Release Blitz: Tomorrow’s Hero by Thom Collins #LGBTQ #sportsromance #eroticromance @pridepublishing @firstforromance

Tomorrow’s Hero by Thom Collins

Word Count: 32,214
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 127

Genres:

CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
SPORTS

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Book Description

 

A professional footballer with a secret. Can love conquer a lifetime of fear?

On the surface, international football star Fernando Inglesias has the perfect life—his dream career, fame, wealth and a beautiful girlfriend on his arm. At twenty-nine, Fernando has it all, but success is fragile, and one mistake could destroy everything. Fernando has a secret he will never share, something that could destroy everything he’s worked hard to achieve. There are no openly gay male footballers in the professional league, and he has no intention of becoming the first.

Ibiza…the party playground of Europe—a hedonistic island where anything is possible. On a weekend trip with the boys, love is the last thing Fernando expects to find. A chance meeting with Joshua, a handsome English visitor, changes it all. For the first time, he finds himself interested in more than sex from another guy. As Fernando and Joshua grow closer, the stakes are high on both sides as they struggle to overcome their personal differences.

Can Fernando risk his career for the sake of loving another man?

Reader advisory: This book contains themes of homophobia, a mention of suicide and references to parental neglect and abuse.

Excerpt

By eleven p.m. on Friday night, the stag party had been hard at it for thirty-eight straight hours. Since they’d arrived at the airport yesterday morning, they’d been on a relentless mission to get wasted, knocking back beers with vodka chasers before boarding the flight. Now Marc, the groom, had his hand up the skirt and his tongue down the throat of a girl he’d met less than an hour before. The best man had another woman pressed against the wall, while the tell-tale jerk of her shoulder made it clear she was giving him an over-the-trouser hand job.

Fernando Inglesias watched the tawdry display going on all around him and wondered, not for the first time that day, what the hell he was doing there. He barely knew Marc Jenner, and from what he’d seen of the groom so far, he intended to keep it that way. The rest of the group were just as bad—entitled, overgrown schoolboys behaving like this was their first trip away from home. Fernando had come along for the sake of his friend and teammate Robson, the only guy on this trip he gave a stuff about. Now Robson had his arm around the shoulder of a woman in a transparent dress. There was no need for Robson to stare so obviously at her enhanced breasts when everyone in the place could see them.

And now the women—a large hen-party they’d met in the previous bar—had tagged along and made themselves a permanent fixture. Lured by the promise of free drinks and VIP club access, it was obvious they would stick with the guys for the rest of the night, perhaps even the weekend.

Fernando knew before the flight had left London that he’d made a mistake in accepting the invitation. It had been pure hell from the start. He would make sure he was unavailable for the wedding, whenever that was.

He flinched as one of the women from the hen party made a grab for his crotch. He ducked his hips just in time to keep her from getting a good handful.

“Aww, don’t be a spoilsport,” she said, pressing her breasts against him and thrusting her knee up the inside of his thigh. “I only wanna see what all the fuss is about. Know what I mean?” Her screechy laugh cut above the unrelenting beat of generic house music.

Fernando tried to pull away, but the woman would not be shaken. She put an arm around his waist and pushed her body tight against his. She reeked of cloying, overbearing perfume and gin. Fernando turned his head to avoid the worst of the smell. Like all drunks, she had no concept of how loud she was being.

“Wass-a-matter with ya?” she shouted in his ear. “You’re in Ibiza, ain’t ya? Everyone comes here to party. Don’t be so stuck up.”

She ground her body against him almost in time with the music. Fernando looked around for help, for someone to save him from this awful woman, but all the other men in his party were enthralled by the girls. They probably thought he was having a great time.

Fernando groaned. He didn’t fit in with anyone here. Even Robson had turned into a different person since hooking up with these idiots. They had been drinking since they’d surfaced around noon and made no attempt to hide it when they took a hit of cocaine to revive their flagging spirits. He’d avoided them for much of the day, working out in the hotel gym before catching some quiet time around the pool in the afternoon, but there had been no getting out of joining them this evening. When they’d finally hit the town, Fernando had been the only sober member of the group.

“They call me Becca,” the woman hollered, fluttering her false eyelashes. She licked her lips, gazing at him lasciviously. “I know who you are. I’ve seen you in the magazines—gossip sites and all that. Always thought you was hot, but man, those pictures don’t do you justice.” She giggled, an obvious attempt at coyness. “You are so much sexier in the flesh.”

Fernando clenched his teeth. This was exactly what he didn’t want—being recognised from the trashy celebrity magazines his girlfriend paraded them through, rather than as the international striker he was. Those mags were devoured by people like Becca, who seemed to believe every word they read.

“It’s not true, is it?” she persisted. “That you’re getting married to that Pritti Parlow?”

“No,” he said, looking for an escape. The bar was packed, and he’d somehow got hemmed into the corner. He saw several camera phones trained on him and Becca. Great. A photo like that could be used to support any bullshit story the gossip sites cared to invent.

“Good,” Becca said, pressing closer. “Cause you can do much better than her. Know what I’m saying? I don’t think she’s all that special. You see her everywhere, but I don’t even think she’s that pretty, which is funny considering her name. It’s all false, ain’t it? Her tits, her hair, lips… None of it’s real. I mean, no offence and all that, but I just say what I see.”

Fernando raised his eyebrows. With her frozen forehead and the duck-like shape of her mouth, Becca’s own brand of beauty was far from natural. “I have to go. Excuse me.”

Becca gripped him tighter. “I’m a model,” she continued, undeterred. “Glamour, corporate entertaining, you know the kind of thing. I’m a friend of the bride.” She gave a dismissive wave in the direction of a woman in a pink tutu and veil. “Sort of. More a friend of a friend, but who’s gonna turn down a trip to Ibiza? It’s fucking insane, ain’t it? I love it here. Don’t you, hon?”

Fernando yanked his arm out of her grip. “It was nice meeting you,” he said without conviction. “I have to go now.”

She appeared panicked, reaching for him again, but he shrugged her off. “Why don’t I come with you? How does that sound? You and me? We could go somewhere nice and quiet. Maybe your hotel.”

“No thanks.”

“I give the best blow jobs,” she shouted, spraying him with spittle. “All the guys love it. I can suck your balls dry and make your toes curl. And that’s just for starters. First night anal. I’m that kind of girl. I guarantee a good time—the best you’ll find this weekend.”

“You know I have a girlfriend.”

“But she ain’t here, is she? What she don’t know about won’t hurt her. Besides, if it’s only a blowie, like, it hardly counts as anything, does it? An’ in Ibiza at that.”

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About the Author

Thom Collins

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

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

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

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Release Blitz: The Gilded Mirror by L.M. Somerton #LGBTQ #eroticromance #BDSM @pridepublishing @firstforromance

The Gilded Mirror by L.M. Somerton

Word Count: 60,041
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 234

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MYSTERY

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Book Description

Life would be simpler if X marked the spot.

When Landry Carran buys an antique mirror from a pop-up flea market, he doesn’t expect it to set him on a treasure hunt originating in the Second World War. He can’t resist tracking down the clues even knowing that every step brings him closer to danger.

Landry’s partner and Dom, Detective Gage Roskam, has his own problems handling a money laundering case that twists and turns as much as Landry’s treasure trail.

As a decades-old mystery collides with modern-day crime, Landry and Roskam must juggle work, friendships and their relationship to solve both puzzles. It’ll be a miracle if nothing gets broken along the way.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of physical assault, gunshots and expressions of homophobia. There are references to non-nurturing parenting, addiction and attempted abduction.

Excerpt

“Moving apartments involves way too much physical exertion.” Landry Carran launched two garbage bags full of bed linen into the spare bedroom before continuing to the kitchen to survey the chaos. “I’m exhausted and I have bruises in unmentionable places. Why aren’t cardboard boxes spherical? Corners are evil.”

“You’re moving one floor down in the same building.” Gage Roskam, Landry’s boyfriend, poked his head around the door. “And you have half of Seattle PD’s finest helping out, so quit whining or I’ll spank you in full view of all of them.”

“That’d scare the uniform pants off ’em. Something I wouldn’t mind seeing one little bit.” Landry contemplated the idea of a bunch of semi-naked cops with delight.

“Not so much. I’ve heard at least three different people say you need a spanking today. None of them seemed bothered about when or where it happened.”

“I’m offended!”

“You’re a brat.”

“I just want boxes marked ‘kitchen’ to go in the kitchen. Do they not teach reading at the police academy?”

“Not so’s you’d notice.”

“I never knew I had so much stuff,” Landry muttered. “It’s like living in one of those anxiety dreams where you know you have to finish something but it’s never-ending.” He shuddered.

“Are you one of those hoarder types? I think full disclosure should have occurred before I agreed to move in with you, if that’s the case.” Gage shoved another box of kitchenware onto the already crowded counter.

“You’ve been living with me for almost six months. You invaded my closet, kept your toothbrush in my bathroom and installed a gun safe in the bedroom. You discovered my rubber ducky fetish, stole an entire box of peanut butter cups and left your huge-ass boots where I’d trip over them. Just because you kept paying rent on your place does not mean we weren’t living together.”

Gage shrugged. “Your rubber fetish is a lot broader than ducks.” His blue eyes twinkled.

“That’s where you’re going with this?” Landry pouted. “Stop grinning.”

“Come here.” Gage crooked his finger.

“Nope.” Landry folded his arms. “Not gonna.”

Gage blinked. “Right now, Landry.”

“Or what?”

“Hmm, let me think. There’s that new latex hood with the built-in penis gag—that has possibilities. Chastity for the next week—always fun—or removal of coffee privileges.”

Landry decided the three steps into Gage’s arms were his best option. He rested his cheek on Gage’s chest. “So mean.”

“And you love it.”

“Not admitting to anything that might prejudice my defense. Ooh, you’re so warm and you smell good.”

“How can that be when I’ve been carting boxes and furniture all day?”

“Don’t know, don’t care, but it’s true and that T-shirt shows off your muscles so well. Very distracting. You reduce my productivity.” Landry stroked a firm bicep.

“Oh no. You are not prepping the ground for blaming me when you can’t find your favorite mug this evening, or if some random object goes missing. Your productivity would increase if you spent less time drinking coffee and more time hauling shit. Less gossiping with Sancha needs to go on that list, too.”

“I don’t know what you mean.” Landry made his eyes big and wide and projected innocent vibes.

“My box of toys is in our bedroom. I have several paddles you haven’t met yet. Tonight, you’ll pick one then count while I apply it to your ass.” Landry gulped and his cock jerked. Gage snuck his hand down the front of Landry’s pants to give his shaft a squeeze. “Someone wants that spanking real bad.”

“Not me.”

“This says different.” Gage played a little more. “You’re leaking.”

“Unhand me, you brute.”

“Have you been watching old British films again?”

“Maybe.” Landry shoved his groin into Gage’s palm.

“Madre de dios, put that boy down!” Sancha Hernandez, Gage’s partner, shouted from the hallway. “Or at least wait until I have a better view. There’s unpacking to do, and I was promised beer and pizza for helping out. I’ve seen no evidence of either and as I am a detective, I’d know.”

Landry whimpered as Gage gave him a final squeeze before removing his hand from Landry’s pants. “Later, brat.” Gage grabbed his cell from the counter. “I’ll order the pies before we have a mutiny on our hands. You sort the drinks. I’m not unpacking anything else tonight. The bed’s made. I have a toothbrush. I’m set.”

“I can’t believe you’re leaving me all alone for three whole days,” Sancha moaned, joining them. “Who’s gonna buy my coffee and fill in my paperwork?” Landry sniggered. “I can’t believe the captain signed off on your vacation time. Do you have blackmail material on him I don’t know about?”

“Pretty sure you’ll survive by enlisting some other naïve sucker,” Gage muttered before putting in his pizza order.

“Junior detectives are meant to make themselves useful. I’m giving them valuable life experiences and don’t forget my garlic prawns,” Sancha prompted him.

“And that right there is why I’m glad I don’t have to share a car with you tomorrow,” Gage said. “There aren’t enough air fresheners in the world.”

Sancha shrugged. “Lightweight. How are you doing, Landry, sweetie? I hope you haven’t been carrying anything too heavy. Moving is hard work, and you need to stay hydrated. Why don’t you grab a soda then come sit with me?”

“That sounds so cool. I am a little achy.” Landry directed his pout at Sancha.

“I’ll be on the couch.” She smiled at Landry, scowled at Gage then left the kitchen.

“Why doesn’t she care if I’ve been overdoing it?” Gage complained. “I’m the one she spends every day with.”

“Duh. Because you have muscles on your muscles whereas I’m a delicate flower.”

“Who shifts furniture around all day in an antique store.”

“Details. This much cuteness needs to be protected.” Landry swept a hand down his body.

“Yes, I’m still here. Sorry. Someone delusional was interrupting me.” Gage finished ordering food while Landry got himself a soda. He turned from the fridge to find Gage looming over him. “You give me a crick in the neck when you do that.” Landry tilted his head back. “I need a stool or a box or something.”

“I think my partner loves you more than me.” Gage twisted his fingers through Landry’s hair.

“I’m a lovable person. Of course I’m Sancha’s favorite. She loves me best because I am way cuter and far more adorable than you. You have this whole broody, menacing thing going on.” Landry grinned. “Which is a huge turn on for me, gotta say.”

“I know.”

“You do, huh?”

“I do.”

“I should go talk to Sancha…”

“You should stay right here while I remind you who you belong to.”

Landry drew breath to speak but his words were cut off as Gage captured his lips in a demanding kiss. Every submissive gene in Landry’s body responded to Gage’s dominance. He moaned into the kiss, knees wobbling. Every tug Gage gave his hair sent a miniature bolt of lightning to Landry’s cock. When they finally parted, he took a step back, dazed.

“I…that was…wow.”

“Now you may go and talk to Sancha.”

“Oh I may, may I?” Landry hesitated, wondering if he might get kissed into silence if he talked back. “You don’t get to tell me who I can and can’t talk to.” Gage gave him one of his patented ‘don’t mess with me’ looks. “Okay, sometimes you do. Not all the time, ‘cause I’m a grown-up and I make decisions for myself. Like when we have cookies, and I have to choose between chocolate chip and ginger. I can do that.”

“No you can’t. You always take both.”

“Bad example.” Landry scuffed the toe of his sneaker on the floor.

“I know you’re all grown up, sweetheart, and you’re quite capable of making decisions. Mr. Lao wouldn’t trust you with Treasure Trove if you weren’t. But you’re mine and that gives me a say in your life. Sometimes you need a nudge in the right direction is all.”

“And that’s your job?”

“Along with watching out for you, tying you up, fucking you into the mattress, protecting you from predatory British art thieves…”

“You had to go there.”

Gage smirked. “Go keep Sancha company. I’ll go wait for the pizza guy and let the others know food is on the way. I think pretty much everything that needs to be, has been moved.”

“Bring them all in here, yeah? There’s a cooler full of beer behind the couch—unless Sancha has already found it, in which case it may be half-full by now.” Landry ambled through to the sitting room, which had a similar layout to the one in his old apartment except for an extra nook for a dining table. He threw himself onto the couch where Sancha was glugging down a bottle of Dubbel Entendre, which Landry had sourced from Sound Brewery in Poulsbo.

“You found the cooler then.” Landry leaned into Sancha’s side.

“I can scent beer from a mile away, you poor innocent lamb. Of course I found it and damn, this beer is good. Just what I needed. Love the name of this stuff too.”

“I couldn’t resist it, it’s such a cool name.” He cracked open his soda. “Thanks for helping out today, I really appreciate it. I know you don’t get much free time, and you must have had better things to do than helping me and Gage move.”

“How many times have you guys helped us out? Besides, it was this or taking the kids to soccer practice. My loving husband saw fit to remind me that I tend to get over-excited around the coach who I happen to think would have a much more lucrative career as an underwear model. Honestly, he’s wasted on a bunch of kids.”

“Leering in front of children is not a good plan.” Landry slurped his drink.

“Sad but true. However, we’re not here to talk about my perversions.”

“We’re not here to talk about mine, either,” Landry cautioned. “Because that would take way too long.”

Sancha gave an unladylike snort. “Ain’t that the truth? Also, Gage might object. So, tell me what Mr. Lao is up to and why you get to move into his apartment. Gage is hopeless at filling me in. I need to get the details from you. Mr. Lao isn’t ill or anything, is he? I kinda like the old guy.”

“He’s fine. More than fine. He’s moving in with his girlfriend.”

“He’s… Run that by me again.”

“He has a girlfriend called Maisie. He met her at his seniors bowling club—that’s bowling on grass by the way, not bowling on an alley, and now they’re moving in together in some gated community in the ’burbs, complete with health club, tennis courts and on-site restaurant. He’s stepping back from the store, to spend more time with her—semi-retirement, I suppose you could call it. I get to be the store manager and one of the perks is to move into Mr. Lao’s old apartment, which as you can see has more square footage than mine. The kitchen is bigger and there’s a spare bedroom, which is great because I can hide all Gage’s junk in there.”

“Congratulations! Manager, huh? Does that mean you get a humongous raise?”

“I wish. I agreed to a percentage of the profits on everything I sell on top of my puny salary, plus this place which, despite the lingering scent of incense, is quite a perk. Mr. Lao will still be doing most of the buying while I get to park my butt in the store. He loves traveling around finding great deals and bartering with his pals in the trade. Oh, I also get to look for an assistant. A new me.”

“And Gage is moving in with you. That’s so sweet.”

“I dare you to use the word sweet in front of him. It’s practical. He saves a bundle on rent, and I get to jump his bones any time I want. We were as good as living together already, anyway.”

“More like he gets to keep a closer eye on you.”

“Exactly,” Gage said, joining them. “Because someone has a habit of getting into strife when I’m not watching him.” He dropped a pile of pizza boxes on the coffee table and the room was soon swarming with all the people who’d been helping out with the move. The noise level and banter grew as the pizza mountain shrank and the beers from the cooler were drunk. Landry laughed at all the jokes Gage’s colleagues made about him, noticing that they were a lot more cautious about teasing Sancha. When he mentioned it, she laughed.

“They wouldn’t dare. The last time one of them tried to play a trick on me at the precinct, I accidentally stapled his hand.”

Landry looked to Gage for confirmation. He nodded. “She did. Not sure it was accidental, though.”

“No comment!” Sancha proclaimed.

“Your aim is spot on, and you know it!”

“And on that note, I think it’s time that me and this crowd of reprobates cleared out of here and left you two lovebirds alone.”

Landry fought back a yawn. “You don’t have to go yet.”

“It’s been a long, hard day and you’re going to be really busy with setting up this place until the store reopens on Monday. Take the peace and quiet while you can and besides, Gage is needy. You have to keep stroking his…ego.” She snorted with laughter before levering herself off the couch. She gave Gage a kiss on the nose then began ushering everyone out of the apartment.

“Give me a minute,” Gage said. “I need to make sure they’ve really gone.”

Landry giggled. He curled into the corner of the couch and nibbled on a leftover slice of pizza. A wave of fatigue washed over him. He’d been so excited about the move, he’d been up since dawn and hadn’t slept much the previous night. Snuggling in bed with Gage sounded like a fine way to end the day, even if the bed was still surrounded by boxes.

By the time Gage returned, Landry was half-asleep.

“You have drool coming out of your mouth.” Gage’s graveled tones pulled Landry from his doze. He rubbed at his mouth with the back of his hand. “So this is how it’s going to be. One day living together, and you’re already letting yourself go.”

“If I had the energy, I’d swat you for that remark,” Landry muttered, yawning.

“You look like you’re about to go into hibernation.”

“That’s not a bad idea. Did you know there’s a Twitter account that follows a bunch of bears in Alaska and people get to vote on which of them is the fattest before they hibernate. These guys are chonks, let me tell you. They get to eat whatever the hell they like, pile on the weight then snooze away the cold months and when they wake up, they’re all skinny. Mind you, I’m not that fond of salmon. I don’t think bears eat pizza.”

Gage gaped. “I worry about you.”

“I know you do. Makes me all gooey inside thinking about it.”

“Sometimes I wonder how you survived before you met me.”

“I managed just fine.” Landry squeaked as Gage scooped him into his arms.

“That’s not what your brothers tell me.”

“You are way too close to those Viking wannabes and you shouldn’t believe a word they say about what I did or didn’t get up to as a child. They lie.”

“They have photographic evidence.”

“Image editing software is a thing, you know. It’s all fake, whatever they say.” Landry pouted as Gage hauled him into the bedroom. Gage dropped him, and he landed on the bed in a sprawl.

“Get your clothes off, brat.” Gage’s feral expression sent shivers down Landry’s spine. He scrambled out of his clothes with indecent haste, full of renewed energy. “Sure you’re not too tired for this?” Gage removed his T-shirt far too slowly for Landry.

“Don’t tease me, Gage! And no, I’m not too tired. Raring to go.” Landry licked his lips at the sight of Gage’s chest. “Your bare skin has magical energy powers.”

“Hands and knees.” In his rush to get into the position Gage wanted, Landry got too close to the edge of the bed. Gage caught him as he toppled off the side. “Don’t want you bruising your backside before I get to it.” He manhandled Landry back onto the bed.

“My hero.” Landry batted his lashes. He got onto his hands and knees, wiggling his ass in blatant provocation. His cock, hard and aching, bounced. He was hot, feverish with anticipation and when the smack of leather against skin sounded in his ears, he jumped.

“Just testing it against my palm.”

Landry twisted, trying to get a look at what ‘it’ was. The paddle Gage held was rectangular with a tapered end, the handle a snug fit in Gage’s hand. “Oh…”

“I was going to let you choose but decided you were too tired to think straight. This is double-layered leather, hand stitched and reinforced with a metal plate.”

“I don’t need the technical specification, Gage.”

“Sir.”

“Feeling especially Dommy are you…Sir?” With a happy sigh, Landry rested his head on his folded arms, widened his legs and wiggled his butt a bit more.

“I should gag you.” The paddle connected with Landry’s backside with a thwack. He moaned. “But then I wouldn’t get to hear the noises you make.” Gage delivered a further four blows before dropping the paddle on the bed. Landry forced himself to take slow, even breaths while heat, edged with pain, blossomed across his skin. He was desperate to come and on the edge of begging Gage to fuck him. When Gage stroked Landry’s sore skin, he whimpered.

“So pink and pretty. You want me in you, don’t you? You want me to stuff you full.” Landry couldn’t summon enough coherence to respond, and when Gage pushed a cool, lubed finger into his ass, Landry sobbed. “So needy. Sucking me in.”

Landry worked Gage’s finger with his inner muscles, muttering nonsense words under his breath. Gage added a second finger, then a third in quick succession, stretching Landry’s channel enough that it burned. “Pl…pl…platypus!” Landry refused to beg. Gage enjoyed it far too much.

“Is that a new safe word?” Gage withdrew his fingers.

“No!” Landry wailed. “Put them back!”

Gage flicked Landry’s balls. “What’s the plural of platypus?”

“I. Don’t. Care.”

“I should get my phone and check or perhaps we could find the box with the dictionary in.”

Landry sobbed. “I hate you.”

“No you don’t.” When the blunt head of Gage’s cock made contact with his pucker, Landry sucked in his breath. “Relax.” Gage moved at a leisurely pace.

“I’ve seen pregnant hippos move faster than you.” Landry yelped as Gage reached around his body to pinch a nipple.

“That spanking wasn’t punishment enough, was it?” Gage pushed home, then stilled. “I need to think of better disincentives.”

“That’s a hellishly big word considering what you’re supposed to be doing,” Landry muttered, trying in vain to push back onto Gage’s cock.

“Quiet, brat, or tomorrow you’ll be unpacking with a vibrating plug stuck up your rear.” Gage took hold of Landry’s hips and pounded his ass with unbridled enthusiasm. All Landry could do was brace himself and take it, and that suited him just fine. Now Gage was doing exactly what Landry wanted him to, Landry could relax and enjoy the rush of pleasure, the surge of orgasm, as it flooded through him. When Gage came, he dug his fingers into Landry’s hips, yanking him back so that he was as deeply impaled as it was possible to be. He could have come untouched, but it was Gage’s firm grip on his cock that tipped him over the edge. Landry cried out, spilling into Gage’s hand in a series of uncoordinated jerks before collapsing face down on the bed. For a while, Gage let his weight rest along the length of Landry’s body. Landry loved being held down, loved being rendered helpless by a bigger, stronger man. Gage knew it and took full advantage, sinking his teeth into Landry’s shoulder.

“Wanna mark me, huh?” Gage didn’t bother confirming or denying. He sucked at Landry’s skin. “What do you call a hickey surrounded by teeth marks?” Landry wondered.

“I call it mine.”

Landry gave a happy sigh. “No one will see it under my shirt.”

“I’ll know it’s there and that’s all that matters. Tomorrow, your ass will ache, your shoulder will ache and every twinge will make you think of me.”

“I have other things in my head apart from you, you know.”

“In that case…” Gage rolled to one side then flipped Landry onto his back. He hooked Landry’s legs over his arms, bending him back. “I’d better fuck you again because those other things need to take second place to me.”

“You talk a good game, Sir, but there’s no way you’re hard again yet.”

“I don’t recall saying what I was going to fuck you with, and by the way, you doubting my powers of recuperation focuses my mind even more on how best to punish you.”

“I should be quiet now.”

“No, by all means carry on. That hole you’re standing in can still get deeper.” Gage groped beneath the covers and extracted a sizable dildo.

“You are a virile, masterful Dominant, Sir. I can think up some more positive adjectives, but I need a minute. You’re distracting me with that…thing.”

Gage grinned. “Nice try. You need more lube?”

“No? Wait, if I say yes does that buy me some time?”

“What do you think?” Gage touched the tip of the toy to Landry’s hole then pushed.

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About the Author

L.M. Somerton

Lucinda lives in a small village in the English countryside, surrounded by rolling hills, cows and sheep. She started writing to fill time between jobs and is now firmly and unashamedly addicted.

She loves the English weather, especially the rain, and adores a thunderstorm. She loves good food, warm company and a crackling fire. She’s fascinated by the psychology of relationships, especially between men, and her stories contain some subtle (and some not so subtle) leanings towards BDSM.

You can follow Lucinda on Facebook, Twitter and her Website.

Giveaway

Enter to win a vintage silver plated dressing table set consisting of mirror, brush and comb from L.M. Somerton!

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Release Blitz: Hawk (Perfect Stats) by Amber Malloy #bookreview #eroticromance #multicultural @totally_bound @firstforromance

Hawk by Amber Malloy

Book 3 in the Perfect Stats series

Word Count: 59,896
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 255

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MULTICULTURAL

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Book Description

Hawk thought he had everything he wanted until Lexington Waters showed up. That’s when he discovered he needed so much more.

Tech Guru Lexi Waters needs to snatch her company out of the grasp of her greedy ex-husband. The only problem is the restraining order that keeps her away from the business she built from the ground up. With no money left to her name, Lexi is forced to go back to Chicago and face the first man to ever let her down—blues legend Sugarfoot Moe Waters, her father. While she’s stuck fixing up his crappy bar, the last thing she needs to deal with is a pushy, arrogant professional hockey player—Hawthorne Maze, aka Hawk. Hopefully the gorgeous distraction won’t derail everything she has worked so hard for.

From the outside looking in, Hawk’s life seems perfect. Professionally, he’s at the top of his field, and personally, he has his pick of any groupie. Orphaned by teenage parents, he only knows is that his mom is white and his dad black. Other than that, there are only two people he considers family—his childhood friend Gavin Knox and geriatric bar owner Moe. He thinks he knows everything about the famous blues artist, but the sudden appearance of his hot-ass daughter is not only unexpected but also unwanted. Contemplating retirement, Hawk needs to figure out what to do next, but fate keeps throwing the sexy egghead Lexi in his path.

Reader advisory: This book contains incidents of revenge porn, racial slurs by minor characters, and scenes of blackmail and emotional abuse.

Excerpt

As Lexi Waters’ advanced coding class put the finishing touches on their latest assignment, she flew her fingers across the screen of her phone a million miles per hour. Drowning out the click clack sound from more than a dozen girls pounding away on their keyboards, she polished off her last text.

“Okay, girls!” she hollered over the noise while pushing away from her desk. “We’ve got fifteen minutes left, but I wanted to say…uh—” Flashing lights drew her attention toward the window. A police cruiser turned into the community center’s parking lot. Shit! Standing up, she slid her phone into the back pocket of her jeans before she stepped in front of her students.

“Girls, code has been one of the biggest joys in my life, and you guys will never know how much you truly mean to me…” Lexi took in each one of the girls’ faces, wanting to commit every detail to memory. “I’ll be taking a little time away, which means I won’t be able to teach the class.” Groans filled the room at her announcement. Lexi had been with some of these girls since their tween years.

Do not cry. Do not cry. Swallowing the emerging lump in her throat, she encouraged herself to keep it together for a smidge longer.

“Miss Tracy will be taking over for the foreseeable future.” Lexi steadily ignored her phone buzzing in her back pocket. “She will help you tie up the loose ends on your video game concepts, starting with the plot all the way down to character development.”

“But we wanted to do it with you,” the best coder in the group whined.

“Uh, don’t worry,” Lexi’s assistant Tracy groused. “I’m not standing here or anything.”

Limited on time, Lexi refused to acknowledge the little feud that had been brewing between them for weeks.

“Trust me. You guys are in good hands. You’re all set for the Fire Code submissions, and… Well”—she took a deep breath because goodbyes were always hard—“every single one of you is intelligent, awesome and there’s nothing you can’t and won’t do. Now make me proud!” She pounded her fist in the air with more enthusiasm than she actually felt.

Chairs scraped against the tile floor, the sounds bouncing off the concrete walls as the girls unexpectedly rushed her. Lexi stumbled back from the weight of their enormous group hug. For a moment, she allowed herself to open up, and lowering her head on top of her students, she soaked up all the good feels.

“Ms. Lexi.” The smallest in the class reached up and pulled something out of the messy bun piled on top of her head. “You have glass in your hair.”

“Oh?” She took the chunk out of the girl’s hand. “Mirror broke.” With assistance from her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s golf club—she had smashed it into a million pieces. She was snatched out of the warm comfort of her hugs when the community center secretary waved from the small window in the door. “Okay, time to go. Take care, girls.”

Determined to not get emotional, Lexi slipped away from the girls’ surprisingly strong grips. Grabbing the doorknob to open the door, she turned back to wave goodbye, leaving her home away from home.

“Ms. Stewart—”

“Waters,” Lexi corrected the nervous woman. She needed to distance herself from her ex-husband’s name ASAP.

“The community center’s director doesn’t understand…”

Flinging the piece of mirror into the janitor’s cart on her way past, Lexi tuned the woman out. Josh had always loved her hair long, but the weight of her curls had grown into a burden. Lexi couldn’t wait to change it. She had narrowed down the haircut she wanted to either a symmetrical chic or a perfect Toni Braxton à la Betty Boop pixie cut.

“Ms. Stewart!” a couple of boys on the basketball court yelled.

She waved at the teens, fighting off the mist in her eyes. The kids were about the only thing she wished she could take with her.

“I’m sorry. What did you say?”

“The officers wouldn’t tell me what they wanted to talk to you about,” she nervously babbled, “but I put them near the back door like you suggested.”

“Did you get the numbers that I sent you?”

As they walked through the corridors of the enormous Inglewood Center, the secretary fumbled with her phone. It took every ounce of Lexi’s patience not to snatch it from her hands. “Moe’s Blues and Jazz, Sugarfoot Moe Waters and or Simone, the manager of the club, correct?”

“Yes, perfect,” Lexi told her.

“And forgive me for being obtuse, but why did you send me these numbers?”

“Bail money.” She walked into the administrator’s front office. Thankfully, there was an exit away from the classroom, where none of the kids could witness their mentor’s arrest. #superembarrassing. “If you would be so kind as to call them and let them know that I will need to be bailed out, that would be awesome.”

“Excuse me?”

“The asshole I will soon be divorced from froze all my assets.” She shrugged. “So, yeah, there’s that.”

“Lexington Stewart?” Two officers waited for her.

“Waters,” she corrected the cop. All she’d done was smash every breakable item in Josh’s secret hideaway. Considering it was her hard work that had paid for that crap, it technically shouldn’t have been a jail-able offense.

“Lexington Waters, you have the right to remain silent.” The stocky officer who demonstrated a severe case of Napoleon complex grabbed her arm a little too harshly and handcuffed her.

For a minute, it crossed her mind to feign innocence, but she was super guilty, because…

Fuck Josh. That’s why!

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MY REVIEW – 5 stars!

Do you want comedy? Romance? Intrigue? Friendships that never die? Because Hawk has all that and more. It’s a beautiful mix of laugh-out-loud moments, swoonworthy yet cheesy romantic bits, a group of friends who would do anything for each other, and an ex-husband who needs to be taught a lesson.

As a fan of 80s movies, I thought Hawk’s love of movies like Flashdance to be adorable. For a big, tough hockey player, inside he was a marshmallow (in a really awesome way). I can’t think of anyone more perfect for Lexi.

Lexi has brains, beauty, and a snarky personality I adored. As the creator of the SugarTech apps and founder of the company, she learned the hard way to take no prisoners and fight for her dreams. But with Hawk, there was a carefree side to her.

If you want to laugh, cry, scream, and sigh with utter contentment, you can’t go wrong with Hawk by Amber Malloy. Five stars, two thumbs up, and zero rotten tomatoes. A fabulous read that will you with a smile on your face (and possibly the desire to go watch a hockey game).

About the Author

Amber Malloy

Amber Malloy dreamed of being a double agent but couldn’t pass the psyche evaluation. Crushed by despair that she couldn’t legally shoot things, Amber pursued her second career choice as pastry chef. When she’s not writing or whipping up a mean Snickers Cheesecake, she occasionally spies on her sommelier. Amber is convinced he’s faking his French accent.

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Release Blitz: Sarah’s Secret by Katherine E. Hunt #eroticromance #BDSM @totally_bound @firstforromance

Sarah’s Secret by Katherine E. Hunt

Book 3 in the Mended Hearts series

Word Count: 12,166
Book Length: SHORT STORY
Pages: 55

Genres:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
COMEDY AND HUMOUR
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
MÉNAGE AND MULTIPLE PARTNERS

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Book Description

Sarah has a secret. She’s on the run from some very nasty men. Can she find love—and herself—before her past catches up with her?

Sarah has recently bought a home in Winchester Drive. As is customary for the widows on the street, she has been invited to join The Winchester Widows Sex Club. Beautiful and seductive, she is a popular new addition.

But Sarah has a secret. Her name’s actually Beth, she’s in hiding—with some not-very-nice people on her tail—and she’s not even a widow.

Her estranged husband Marco is an undercover FBI agent, and when he turns up on her doorstep, that can only mean one thing…danger.

Beth is tired of running. She longs to make friends and find love again, which she does when she makes Paul’s acquaintance and finds herself smitten with him. Bonding over romantic TV shows and jigsaw puzzles, they fall deeply for each other.

But the hitman is still out there, and Paul, a law student of a nervous disposition, is not exactly ready for a life on the run.

Beth has to work out what she really wants from the men in her life, move on from her past and allow herself to finally be true to who she is.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence. It is best read in order as part of the Mended Hearts series.

Excerpt

At the scent of his skin, I released the hilt of the knife that was under my pillow.

He’d snuck into my bedroom first thing in the morning, stripped off and gotten under the sheets with me. The man had a death wish.

Marco was a passionate man. Our marriage—short though it had been—had been a never-ending festival of love. When he hadn’t been in bed with me, he’d been by my side, never far away. In retrospect, he’d feared the worst. My background and his were such that eventually, something was going to have to give.

Thus I knew his scent, intimately. It triggered a sensation of tranquility, something I didn’t experience very often while alone in my bed. Just for a second, we were home again, before it had all happened—the calm before the storm.

“Beth.”

“Marco.”

His breath hitched as he snuggled in closer to me. “I don’t have much time.”

Can’t we pretend, just for five minutes, that we are simply husband and wife? A little hot and heavy lovemaking before popping to the shops then spending the afternoon in front of the TV or gardening—or anything that doesn’t involve murderous gangs and guns? That everything was as it had been before I’d come here. “It’s seven a.m. No bad guys are going to drag us screaming from my home during the peak morning rush hour, with school buses and people leaving for work.”

“I have twenty minutes tops.”

Pushing my butt up against his rock-hard dick, I shimmied a little. “Twenty minutes should be enough.” The tiny moan that emanated from his lips was all I needed to know that he agreed.

Despite his brutish appearance, Marco was a sensual lover—Italian. There was nothing like that fiery Latin blood to get me hot, even at this time in the morning.

“Your body haunts my dreams. The thought of holding you once again is the only thing that keeps me going in this stupid life.” He explored every inch of my skin with his warm hands, entering and caressing me with his fingers. It took little action on his part to get me wet for him. Just his presence in my bed was enough to make me need him inside me.

He brushed the back of my neck with his lips, his rough, unshaven skin sending a frisson down my spine.

Parting my legs, he entered me, filling me entirely and reminding me of why I’d married this man. I arched against his body with my head tilted back onto his shoulder. He moved his hand to my chest, holding me tenderly as he fucked me from behind—every stroke, every movement more exciting than the last.

“Il mio amore.” The accent was more Long Island than Lake Garda, but he knew what those words did to me.

“More,” I whispered.

He circled my hardened clit with his fingers, clasping my body to his as the rhythm of his thrusts increased. “Mia cara, ti desidero,” he growled.

I gasped as the orgasm rocked me, and Marco still held me to him. Can he feel every beat of my heart, every flicker of my body?

His thrusts were ferocious, animalistic, and he pounded into me as he came, obviously releasing a need that he’d had for so long.

While I had moved on from our marriage, Marco had never let go of the idea that one day we would be together again. He respected the vows that I had long since chosen to ignore. There was only one woman in his life, and he intended to keep it that way.

But I had had enough.

“I’m not going with you.”

“What?” He pulled out of me then rolled onto his back.

“I have a life here, just like everywhere else. You take me somewhere, leave me to pick up the pieces, make new friends, then just when I get comfortable, you swoop back in and make me leave again.”

“They will kill you.”

“They were your problem, not mine.”

He rolled me around to face him. “Beth, we both know that they will find you. I can’t let that happen.”

Marco. Sweet Marco. A teddy bear wrapped in the body of a heavyweight boxer—big, tough and strong, filled with cotton candy.

“I can handle myself. You know that. In fact, I was doing pretty well before you came along. Why are you here? What have you heard?”

“Enough to know that you’re in danger.” He scratched his ear. The man had a tell. He could convince the entire criminal underworld that he was part of their gang, but I knew when he was lying at twenty paces.

“You’re working for them again.” He fidgeted, looking away. “Fucking hell, Marco, why? After everything that happened.”

“They sent someone here to kill you, Beth. I don’t know who. Someone here is not who they seem.”

I’d met an awful lot of people recently. None of them had struck me as the contract-killer type. Then again, when I’d met Marco, he’d turned out to not be everything he’d purported to be, either. I would have noticed a cold-hearted killer, though. Won’t I?

“This is just another ploy.” I got up from the bed and turned away from him. I didn’t need to look to know that he was checking out my body, probably memorizing every dimple and curve. “We made a choice, Marco. You said you would honor my decision to stop running. You were the one who wanted to give us up. You were the one who left.”

“Beth, I can’t live without you. I thought I could move on, but it’s impossible.”

“Then stay.”

“You know that I can’t do that. It kills me, but I have to bring these guys down.”

“You can’t live without me, but you can’t stay. If it’s so difficult for you to make up your mind, Marco, then you know where the door is.” I left the room. My heart broke a little bit more every time he did this. I’d conceded too many times, agreed to let go of another life and another name—sometimes even a chance at love.

This time it was different. This time I was finally settling in somewhere, making friends. I wasn’t giving up any of this because of another of Marco’s stupid whims.

Fight for me, Marco. Show me I mean more to you than the life you lead, the job you have to do. I went into the bathroom, shut the door and clicked the lock—then I waited for him. Kick the door down. Show me how much you love me. Tell me you’re staying.

I held my hand up to the door, lowered my forehead onto the cold white wood and waited for signs of life. It juddered as he slumped against the other side. Sinking to the floor, I sat in silence…waiting.

I unclicked the lock. There, now it’s even easier for you to come charging in on your white horse. Nothing.

He wasn’t even going to say goodbye. We’d said it a million times before, but this time was definitive. After a while, I could no longer hear him on the other side.

His heart would always beat for me, but for now, it would beat elsewhere.

I lifted my hand instinctively to my mouth as I started to cry, as if to silence myself. I traced my lips. Not even a kiss. My husband had come to me for the very last time, and he hadn’t even kissed me goodbye.

I lifted a loose tile and removed a large box. Marco might be gone, but I had another fight to contend with. The battle was over, but the war was not won, not by a long shot.

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About the Author

Katherine E Hunt

Katherine E Hunt ran off with a Frenchman twenty years ago. She now lives on a French mountain with three children and two dogs. When she isn’t writing contemporary romance she can be found huddled up in front of a roaring fire, with a glass of Chardonnay in one hand and a book in the other.

You can find out more about Katherine on her website.

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