Book Blitz: Pulse of my Heart by Jessi Noelle #NewRelease #LGBTQ #PTSD #firefighter #GayRomance @JessiGibs

Title: Pulse of My Heart

Series: The Inferno, Book Two

Author: Jessi Noelle

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 11, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 18900

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, PTSD, firefighters, photojournalist, Irishman, gay, coming out, tear-jerker, hurt-comfort

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Synopsis

Vincent Franklin’s last mistake had a body count. Now, he’s back on the fireline with something to prove to his fellow firefighters and most of all to himself. But when a sexy Irishman with talent and a camera captures him in a weak moment, he puts Vince’s heart at risk.

Still, there’s something about Aidan that attracts Vince and stirs up feelings he would have preferred to leave locked up and untouched in a dark corner of his heart. Then, after he, and the world, believe Aidan is killed in a tragic accident, Vince struggles to find the courage to love again. His chief worry: Does a screw-up like him even deserve to love again?

Excerpt

Pulse of My Heart
Jessi Noelle © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Christmas Eve, 2019
Vince was breathing hard. Sweat beaded on his forehead and rolled downward, catching in his eyebrow as he groaned in pleasure and release.

“Holy shit, Mac,” he said as the twitching slowed, and he melted into the body under him. He nuzzled the ear of his partner and tenderly kissed the spot just below, where the neck melded into that beautiful head.

“Mmm,” his partner purred, hips moving languidly around his trapped member and drawing another gasp of pleasure before releasing him. “Merry Christmas, my darling.”

“Are you my night-before-Christmas present?” he asked. “Because I’m afraid that if I stir any creatures—even a mouse—I’ll find this sugarplum is a vision dancing in my head.” After the loss a year ago, and everything he’d been through since, this felt surreal.

Mac gave him a coy look—the one that tugged sexy-feel threads in his chest—then flipped over beneath him and wrapped arms around his neck, lacing fingers through Vince’s short, butterscotch hair. “Sugarplum, huh? Ah, you do know how to flatter the guy below you who is still slightly incoherent from recent…activities.” He pulled Vince down for a kiss, tongue snaking out to lick the sweat off his lips and making Vince groan a little at the image. He cocked his head, raised his eyebrows, and Vince could feel himself stirring again, hardening against the leg resting on him.

Vince looked down at him with wonder. “What did I do to deserve you? You’re so beautiful, and smart, and everything I’m not.”

“Don’t get it twisted, darling,” he drawled as he framed Vince’s face between his hands, “I’m the lucky guy who snagged the hot firefighter who defines straight-up sexy, pardon the hetero pun.” Mac softly placed his lips on Vince’s, starting at his forehead and working his way slowly, so agonizingly slowly, down.

In a flash of searing heat, Vince’s tenderness was replaced with hunger and need. Mac grinned wickedly at Vince’s growl of lust and flipped him over. He hovered above Vince, teasing, letting his breath fall on the sensitive places he’d found and wringing moans of frustration from the beautiful boy beneath him. When his tongue trailed over the bumps of Vince’s abs, the ticklish spot Mac found there caused him to squirm away. And when Mac’s lips engulfed his manhood, Vince lost the ability to form coherent thought.

Everything dissolved into a blur of touch and taste and pressure and pleasure and friction and feeling.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

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Meet the Author

Jessi Noelle was born in South Mississippi, where she worked as a zookeeper and later as a firefighter. She is transgender with two sons, and currently lives in Nashville, TN.

Through the Inferno is her first novel. She is an alum of the inaugural #DVPit, a twitter event where marginalized authors pitch their books to agents. She is currently working on another book set in the The Inferno universe.

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Under and Over It by Megan Slayer #BDSM #GayRomance @MeganSlayer

Under and Over It

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Karen Fox

 

Regan Finley’s photography makes the local music scene shine. He’s four months from his final exhibition and graduation. But instead of preparing for the party, he’s fretting about his exhibition theme — bondage and passion. There’s one person he wants to make his exhibition come to life, if he can convince his housemate to participate.

Camryn Tate plays the music that makes the young girls scream. He likes being a local rock hero. When he finds out what Regan wants for the exhibition, Cam has to make a decision. He can let Regan have his commanding way and get the pictures he needs for the exhibition, or he can walk away from the best roommate and friend he’s ever known… all because of a little ball of nylon rope.

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for November 8th at retailers

  

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Megan Slayer

“Have you come up with a theme for your final project?”

Regan jerked his attention to the sound of Camryn’s voice. “Excuse me?” They’d been housemates for almost six months and known each other for a year beyond that, but this was the first time Camryn had shown real interest in Regan’s artwork.

“I’ll use English.” Cam crooked one brow. “The big theatre show or whatever you all call it is in less than a month and half. What’s your theme or idea or the art term for project thingy?”

“It’s an exhibition at the Kline Gallery and yes, I’ve got a theme picked out. The title is still up in the air.” Regan held his breath for a beat. “Right now I’m going with Confined Obsession.” Well, that was part of the title, anyway.

Regan stared at Camryn with no idea what Camryn was thinking as he stared back with his drop-dead gorgeous green eyes. Regan stifled a groan. The guy could model professionally. Cam spent just enough time at the gym to be sculpted without getting too veiny, and he was one of those rare creatures who didn’t have a ton of body hair all over the place. Regan swore Camryn Tate was made for photography.

Too bad Cam never bothered to volunteer to be Regan’s model.

Instead of speaking, Camryn nibbled on the corner of his mouth, no doubt deep in thought. The longer he stayed silent, the more Regan’s skin crawled. He wasn’t totally sold on the project theme, but he didn’t have much choice. “Confine” sounded so harsh… he wanted something equally emotional, but better said.

“How do you suppose you’re going to show this confinement? I mean, it sounds like you’re talking about someone being in jail.” Camryn strummed his guitar, his fingers gliding over the strings to create a melody Regan had never heard before.

“It’s a working title.”

“That makes more sense.” Cam closed his eyes and nodded in slow motion, caught up in his new composition. “Did you have to submit a timeline or anything? I’ve got exactly five weeks to get the bones of my music comp project done. I’m stumped. I thought maybe if you had a plan, your hyper plotting would rub off on me. It worked at mid-terms.”

“Plotting?” Regan snickered. Here he’d thought no one recognized his latent OCD tendencies. Cam got him, as always. Regan stared at the computer screen. He felt a little better about his unspoken choice for the show. “Well, the plan was to show people in the midst of everyday activities but with the confinements and constraints put upon them by society. You know, like Cassidy and her son… Skylar with his suit and tie.” Me and my sexuality with a roommate who doesn’t know I want him for more than platonic reasons.

Yeah, there was no way in hell he’d throw that in. Camryn knew Regan was gay. Regan didn’t exactly keep his taste for men hidden. But Regan wasn’t interested in showing himself in the photographs — he’d worked too damn hard in the space of four years obtaining his photography degree to do a series of self-portraits. Besides, his internship at Rock Monthly wasn’t going to up and disappear because of his sexuality. Max and Skylar loved Regan’s take on capturing the musical community in photographic form. But the friendship with Cam might crumble if love were injected into the scene.

“Who’s going to be in the pictures? Sarah? Skylar? Cassidy might do it. Why don’t you ask Marcie — she’s hot for you.”

“They might do it, yes.” Not quite the way Regan had planned, but they might get involved. “I kinda had an idea who I wanted for the model, but Marcie isn’t on the list. She’s in love with you.”

“Yeah?” Camryn looked up from his guitar, still riffing the bouncy tune. “Well, I am hot, but she’s not my type. Too thin.” He bobbed his brows in time with the music. “Aren’t I so full of shit? Now for the model. Anyone I know?”

“Your ego certainly is intact.” Regan gathered his wits. If he didn’t just say what he wanted, the moment would pass. He swallowed hard. “You — I want you for the model.”

How wasn’t that a whisper? Shit. The declaration in the mirror had come out so much stronger when he’d practiced earlier that morning.

The strumming stopped, and the color bled from Cam’s face. His eyes widened, making Regan’s pulse skip about five beats. “You want me? I don’t know what to say.” He placed his hand on his heart in a dramatic fashion. “It’s all so sudden. I don’t have a speech planned.”

“Drama king.” Regan rolled his eyes. Hell, yes, he wanted Camryn, and not just for photographic purposes. When Camryn looked at Regan, his knees turned to jelly. He wanted those eyes fixated on him as he did devious things to Cam. Looking lovingly down at Regan while Cam swallowed him to the… oh, God. Regan needed to get out and get laid. He’d known lots of guys, both gay and straight, and as far as he knew, Cam wasn’t gay — just theatrical.

“Can I keep the guitar?”

Guitar? Regan forced himself to surface from the Cam-induced haze. “Sure.” For a while, anyway. What Regan had in mind didn’t include the instrument, but keeping it with Camryn had merit. “Actually, yeah, I do want you to have the guitar. I’ve got an amendment to my idea, and you playing will work perfectly. When’s your next gig?”

“Tomorrow night at the Barricade. I’m sitting in with the Taylor Rogers Band for the May Day Festival. Tony’s sick.”

“Score one for you.” The stage at the Barricade had the best lighting for photography. Reds, greens and blues all shimmering off the singer and players. Yes, that would be great. “I’ll be there.”

“You know, I’m excited. You never come see me play.” Camryn strummed the guitar once again. A smile built on the corner of his mouth. “I like it, so don’t wuss out.” Cam toyed with the tuning pegs. “And I know you’re going to get a huge head, but I’m kinda looking forward to being in your pictures. The folks in the music building think you’re the bomb.”

Regan sighed. He wanted to tell Cam not to fuck around with compliments, especially with the music people. At twenty-six, he was too damned old for empty flattery. Sure, Regan loved doing the photos — capturing the heat of the performance was what he lived for. But damn, he hated being on the hair trigger. Four months without even so much as a date sucked balls. Regan scooted back into the safety of the couch. If he kept his mouth shut, Camryn would never know how much Regan wanted him for more than a good headshot.

Camryn stood and stretched. “I’m cashing in. Tomorrow will be late enough. May Day is a blast but man, the night is long, and I want to look good in those pics.” He placed the guitar in its stand and raked his fingers through his hair, making it stand up in messy spikes. “Sleep and composition class tomorrow.” He crossed the room in three long strides and stopped in the doorway. “Have you — have you ever had a burst of creativity right when you really needed to crash?”

“That’s why I pull the all-nighters. Not because I have to turn the project in the next day. It’s the flow, the zone. Can’t knock it when it shows up.” Cam nodded, and a lock of his ebony hair slid over his forehead. “Yeah.” The smile grew. “Night.”

Once Camryn left the room, Regan covered his face in his hands. Creativity had walked in the door the moment he met Camryn down at the commissary. He probably wouldn’t have paid attention, but Camryn sat on the steps and sang that Queen song so loud, Regan couldn’t help but notice. Cam knew all the words, even when Freddie Mercury and the bass line garbled it. He didn’t shy away when Regan sat down, instead making room for him on the concrete step.

Regan sighed. The moment Cam stopped playing and smiled, he’d fallen head over heels. And Cam had no idea.

 

More from Megan at Changeling Press …

When she’s not writing the stories in her head, Megan Slayer can be found luxuriating in her hot tub with her two vampire Cabana boys, Luke and Jeremy. She has the tendency to run a tad too far with her muse, so she has to hide in the head of her alter ego, but the boys don’t seem to mind.

When she’s not obsessing over her whip collection, she can be found picking up her kidlet from school.

She enjoys writing in all genres, but writing about men in love suits her fancy best.

Megan can be found at https://www.facebook.com/theauthormeganslayer.

A Shot of J&B by Lou Sylvre #BDSM #GayRomance #interraciallove #NewRelease @Sylvre

A Shot of J&B (Vasquez Inc. 1)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

When Brian Harrison first met Jackie Vasquez at a Hawaiian wedding, Jackie was sixteen and troubled. Six years later they meet again; Brian’s career at Scotland Yard is budding with promise, while Jackie’s student days at the University of Nebraska are rolling toward a strong finish. Magnetic mutual attraction pulls them insistently toward one another, but the ocean separating their lives makes for a simmering romance.

When the waiting ends and they get together for a weekend in Denver, Dom Brian and sub Jackie both know they’ve tapped into something scalding hot, and much deeper than sharing an artful session. Shibari, lust, and love are all on the agenda — but for Brian, so is his police career, and a strange series of crimes seems poised to threaten their romance — and maybe their lives.

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for November 1st at retailers

   

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Lou Sylvre

Port Clifton’s shops yielded gifts for Brian’s hosts: a huge bouquet of red and white lilies accented with ferns, salal, and baby’s breath; a six-pack of Full Sail Amber Ale; a bottle of 2009 La Lagune, Haut-Médoc — a fine cabernet from France, the merchant said — and Batdorf and Bronson’s Sulawesi Toraja coffee, which the label promised to be earthy and sweet with hints of pineapple and black pepper. He hadn’t planned on so much, but he hadn’t been able to decide if Sonny would love the rich colors of the flowers more, or his favorite ale, or if Luki would get more pleasure out of the fine French wine or a special coffee. He knew it could be seen as an embarrassment of riches, so to speak, but he hoped his friends would understand.

As he approached the door, he faced the more immediate problem of how to knock while juggling it all, but he needn’t have worried. Sonny must have seen him stumbling from his car, and he swung the door wide just as Brian arrived.

“Come in,” Sonny said, and calmly unburdened him, laying the presents carefully aside so he could wrap his long arms around Brian in an enthusiastic hug, which he obviously considered a proper greeting. He let go and backed away a step. “Good to see you!”

The wonderful thing about Sonny, Brian thought, was that he never would have said such a thing if he didn’t really mean it. Brian’s own smile grew, and he nodded. “You too,” he said. “I brought you flowers and beer.”

“Thank you!” Sonny laughed. “Such wisdom in one so young.”

“And coffee and wine for Luki,” Brian added, having no idea what else to say or why he was stating the obvious.

Luki strode up just then, apron clad, and chestnut curls — sprinkled now with silver, Brian noticed — in disarray. “Perfect,” he said. “What Sonny said — wisdom!”

Luki’s face seemed so familiar yet transformed somehow. He didn’t grin, but he smiled a little, and joy fairly danced in the pale eyes that most often used to seem so cold. Brian knew Luki had survived a nearly fatal bout with lung cancer — in remission less than a year — and he thought maybe that had given him some gift of contentment. But after Luki thanked him and gave him a quick hug, Brian saw his gaze settle on Sonny, and he recognized that the true source of Luki’s joy was his husband, and the love that had deepened through the years they’d spent together.

Distracted by the familiar wave of envy he always felt in the presence of this couple, wishing he could somehow express it, Brian missed much of what Sonny said as he followed them to the kitchen. He tried to marshal his attention back to the present, and caught Sonny saying he didn’t think he’d ever seen lilies so red. Brian nodded, and murmured agreement, but then he caught movement out of the corner of his eye.

He turned toward the motion, and there stood Jackie Vasquez. All grown up — and apparently fresh from a shower. December sun poured through a window at his left, and it lit the red in his hair, making it smolder despite being darkened with damp. Brian hadn’t noticed before that Jackie’s gray eyes were like a warmer version of Luki’s blue, very pale, and similar in size and shape. Perhaps it was a trait traceable to Luki’s father — Jackie’s grandfather. But there the similarity stopped. While Luki’s pale eyes shone in contrast to his brown skin, Jackie’s somehow harmonized with his pale, dark-haired, dark-freckled coloring. The effect, though, seemed to Brian no less singular.

After a few seconds, Brian realized that while he had been standing there silently analyzing the evidence of a common gene pool between the two remarkable-looking men, Jackie had actually been speaking to him.

“Jackie,” Brian said, then thought to add, “Um, it’s good to see you again.”

“You seem surprised.” Jackie absentmindedly scratched at the center of his chest, which was bare and still damp, and where fine russet hairs formed a diamond between healthy, smooth pecs that clearly belonged to a man. Nothing boyish remained in Jackie’s physique, though he still had what might be called a boyish smile, or youthful, at least.

“Yes,” Brian nodded. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to be rude. I had no idea you would be here.”

Luki spoke up. “We didn’t expect him to be here, Brian, or I would probably have mentioned it on the phone. He was supposed to fly out yesterday.”

“I got bumped,” Jackie explained, and shook his head, apparently unhappy with the airline. “So the uncles agreed to put up with me for another day, and Sonny said he’d drive me to the airport tonight.”

Brian felt a little tongue-tied, which wasn’t a familiar feeling at all. He nodded.

Jackie squinted and cocked his head to the side. “I mean it, though, Brian. I’m glad to have a chance to talk to you. I… I don’t remember things clearly from… but I know you did a lot, and I’ve always wanted to thank you in person.”

That shook Brian’s tongue loose, and he said, “Jackie, there is nothing at all for you to thank me for. I’m glad I was there and was some help. I’m grateful you came through okay.”

Brian saw color rise in the pale skin between the freckles of Jackie’s cheeks. Jackie bit his bottom lip — very reminiscent of his Uncle Luki — and then looked away. He glanced back, said, “Well, I’d better put clothes on… I mean, a shirt… You know.”

Brian heard Sonny giggling. A delightful and always unexpected sound.

“Hurry up, Jackie,” Luki said. “Food’s on the table.”

 

More from Lou at Changeling Press …

Lou Sylvre loves romance with all its ups and downs, and likes to conjure it into books. The sweethearts on her pages are men who end up loving each other — and usually saving each other from unspeakable danger. It’s all pretty crazy and very, very sexy. As if you’d want to know more, she’ll happily tell you that she is a proudly bisexual woman — a mother, grandmother, lover of languages, and cat-herder — of mixed cultural heritage. She works closely with lead cat and writing assistant, the (male) Queen of Budapest, Boudreau St. Clair. She lives in the rainy part of the Pacific Northwest, and hearing from a reader infallibly brightens the dreary weather. Find her through her links listed here, or drop her a line at lou.sylvre@gmail.com.

 

Healing Fire by B.A. Tortuga #ActionAdventure #PNR #LGBT #GayRomance @batortuga

Healing Fire (Reclamation 4)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

Lee is just the transporter for the broken werewolves his team rescues from the Brotherhood. His latest pick-up goes badly when one wolf bolts, and his van is shot at, making it tough for him to keep it together. He’s got sick and badly injured wolves to care for until someone else comes to get them, though, so he heads for his cabin in the woods, knowing he has to keep his charges safe.

Drew has been in captivity a long time, helping keep his friends alive by giving of his own healing energy. Lee is like a whole new world for him, because Lee’s life force bolsters his, and Drew knows he’s found the other half of his soul. Now he has to learn he can’t save everyone if he wants to stay with Lee. Can they find a way to do what they must and still love each other?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for November 1st at retailers

   

 

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019

Changing trucks made Lee a little nuts.

One of the wolves bolted at the first vehicle change, and he knew he should have gone after, but the other five had a rendezvous with one of Abby’s contacts, and he had to get them to the, well, not church on time.

That idea made him laugh out loud.

They were getting worse, and he was beginning to worry he wasn’t going to be saving many more.

The last one in the first truck was so skinny, so exhausted he was barely breathing. The run had taken it out of him. Lee lifted him, needing to get him moved. “Come on, buddy. We have to keep moving, okay?”

Something made him frown, a whiff of gunpowder on the air, and he tossed the wolf in the cab of the new truck, heading off and leaving the empty truck behind. It was registered to someone else, just a piece of shit to move bodies with.

This truck was his.

He knew it backward and forward, how fast it could go, how it could take a turn.

The wolf whined gently, and Lee nodded. “I know, buddy. I’ll come back and look for him once you guys are safe. He seemed strong. They’ll be chasing us, not him. I’m sorry.”

He floored it, heading up into the mountains, pushing it. He couldn’t go home, but he could go to the cabin. It was safe, secure, warm, and well supplied.

Defensible. “We’ll get you guys safe until the other team can come. I swear it.”

Poor babies. So skinny. So tired. This shit pissed him off. There was always someone out there willing to exploit, whether it was humans or animals or shifters like them. He hated it.

What he did wasn’t much, but it was something. He could get these guys somewhere safe, somewhere they could heal or die, whichever they needed to. At least they would be free. Usually the ones he picked up were men, but more and more often they were leading out wolves. He had no idea if this meant they were weaker, stronger, just different. It didn’t matter. They were free.

The wolf next to him wiggled over enough to put a dry nose against his hand, a soft, grunting sigh sounding. Yeah, he got it. This was exhausting. “Rest, man. I’ll have food for you when we stop.” Good food, not the kibble-like crap they’d been fed at the Brotherhood.

He thought he heard the heavy tail wag, and that made him smile. “Right. Sometimes that’s what you need. I have milk. I have hamburger. I have chicken. Good stuff. There’s even an elk roast in the freezer.”

A sharp whine sounded when he said elk. Yeah. That was the reddest, gamiest meat. It would have the most nutritional value.

“We’ll start with the milk and defrost the elk, then. You hold on, buddy, and I’ll help you.”

That tail thumped again, and he would swear the mangy coat looked better, fuller. Trick of the light, he was sure.

“The cabin is remote, but it’s warm and safe. We’ll hide out there for a while, let you guys heal.”

That nose was colder now when it brushed him, and those teeth grazed his wrist when he reached out to stroke the wolf’s ears. A thank you.

“Oh, you are special, aren’t you? You wait, you’ll be okay. Soon you’ll be strong.”

Panting, the wolf closed his eyes, then the breathing evened out, and Lee felt alone again. That was okay. He was used to it.

He kept looking over, though, because he needed to see that skinny chest rising and falling.

It was important to keep them all alive, but this guy really spoke to him. Something about the way the wolf responded told him the spirit was willing.

 

More from B.A. at Changeling Press …

Texan to the bone and an unrepentant Daddy’s Girl, BA Tortuga spends her days with her basset hounds and her beloved wife, texting her sisters, and eating Mexican food. When she’s not doing that, she’s writing. She spends her days off watching rodeo, knitting and surfing Pinterest in the name of research. BA’s personal saviors include her wife, Julia Talbot, her best friend, Sean Michael, and coffee. Lots of coffee. Really good coffee.

Having written everything from fist-fighting rednecks to hard-core cowboys to werewolves, BA does her damnedest to tell the stories of her heart, which was raised in Northeast Texas, but has heard the call of the high desert and lives in the Sandias. With books ranging from hard-hitting GLBT romance, to fiery manages, to the most traditional of love stories, BA refuses to be pigeon-holed by anyone but the voices in her head.

Website: http://www.batortuga.com/

Blog: http://caferisque.blogspot.com/

 

 

Make Me a Match by Willa Okati #RomCom #boxset #LGBT #NewAdult @willaokati

Make Me a Match (Duet)

Publisher: Changeling Press
Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

Rivals to friends to lovers and more — there’s much ado about you, you, you.

Open Cover Before Striking: Davis Carmichael doesn’t do love. He’d rather strip naked and crawl through a field of broken glass than give anyone that much control over him. The only thing he cares about is his journalism career. That is, until he meets Cristian Baranov, a die-hard Romeo with an uncanny knack for making connections and taming cranky wordsmiths. A man who breaks down Davis’s resistance with a sweep of his hand for just one night. Neither expected they’d ever meet again, but fate has other plans…

Best Laid Plans: Jefferson’s a serious-natured soccer star, and Teddy was born to party till the wheels come off. But they have more fun fighting with each other than they would kissing anyone else. Maybe — maybe — they’re falling in love. But when everything turns topsy-turvy, is their new alliance strong enough to save the day?

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

or pre-order for October 25th at retailers

   

Also Available in Paperback

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2019 Willa Okati
Excerpt from Best Laid Plans

Oh yes.

Teddy retraced his path backward, down the three shallow porch steps and onto the sidewalk in front of 1514 Saltman Street. Dandelions and crabgrass grew through cracks in the pavement, and someone named BIG JOE had signed the concrete before it dried back in — Teddy squinted — 1983.

Teddy pressed the fingertips of both hands to his mouth as he craned his neck for a good look up at 1514. Two blocks away from the University of West Ioannes campus. Near enough to walk; far enough for independence. Red brick — the kind of red that made him think of sunsets and abattoirs — battered and chipped at the corners. Faded black shutters at every window. The wooden porch boards had been painted a dull slate gray and had gaps between them big enough to lose a quarter down. Straight-up house on the bottom floor, divided into two doll-sized apartments on the second floor. Climbing vines draped lushly over the walls. And it had balconies.

Yes and yes again. Teddy’s grin grew behind the lattice of his fingertips. He jigged in place, three steps of a Cossack kick that made his mop of coppery hair bounce over his forehead. It’s perfect.

He shaded his eyes to squint up at the balconies. Those were what had really sold him on the deal — well, he would have signed up no matter what to get out of the dorms, but anyway. When he’d been offered a chance at a different arrangement, he’d jumped at it. He’d imagined it would be nice, but this was the cherry on top. His own private balcony, where he could cozy up in a blanket in winter and leave his flip-flops wherever he pleased during the summer months. He’d bet it got great natural light. He’d been born to bask, and his full-body dusting of freckles proved it.

Did the balcony already have a chair, or would he need to scout one out at the Army Surplus? Teddy stood on his tiptoes, but he couldn’t be sure. The sturdy vines growing up the sides of the house made it difficult to see past them in places, so thick and verdant green that they had their own personality.

Hmm. I wonder…

Teddy kicked off his shoes and wiggled his bare toes on the pavement, right over BIG JOE’s signature. The vines looked strong enough to climb, and he was a small guy. They ought to hold five-four and a buck-twenty-five. He tugged at a trailing green tendril to check and made a pleased noise in the back of his throat when they didn’t give way. They barely budged except to rustle at him in annoyance.

“Let’s see what we can see,” he said, reaching for a double grip on the vines over his head. “Up, up, and away!”

He almost made it halfway to the second story — not bad, personal record — before his left foot skidded off. Oops. He’d forgotten to account for natural skin oils on his soles and slipperiness from the warmth of sneakers in summertime. If it hadn’t been for that, he thought, he would have made it all the way.

“Yipe!”

“Whoa!”

The body-to-body collision jarred the fillings in Teddy’s molars, and the pair of sinewy arms that wrapped around his chest made his ribs squeak in protest. He flailed and kicked his legs backward and got his ass dropped on the sidewalk for his pains. Right on JOE. Oh, the humanity. “What the hell?” he yelped, looking up again at six feet of indignation framed in chestnut hair and bright-blue eyes.

“Jefferson?” Hastily, Teddy flipped his leather kilt down to hide the goods. “What are you doing here?”

“Saving your ass. Don’t bother to thank me.”

“I wasn’t going to,” Teddy said. He rolled to his knees and got up, dusting himself off. Jefferson! Of all the people. To say they didn’t get along — and never had — was like daring to suggest water might be slightly wet or that fire had the potential to burn. And they couldn’t ever seem to avoid each other. He was besties with the boyfriend of Teddy’s bestie, Noelani, which was just all kinds of swell. Everywhere he went, Jefferson poked his giant soccer head up, with his jock buddies in tow and his utter, absolute lack of a sense of humor and his stupid cologne-ad face.

Jerk. Teddy picked a stubborn dandelion fluff off his elbow. “What are you doing here? It’s summer session. You’re at soccer camp.”

Jefferson arched an eyebrow. He leaned his hip against the porch, his Ioannes tank clinging tightly to his pecs. Unlike Teddy, he tanned instead of burned. Freckles had never dared show their faces on his skin, no matter how much time he spent kicking little white balls around, broiling on a practice field. “Am I really? Look again. Unless you think I’m a figment of your imagination.”

“My imagination can do better than that,” Teddy said. Okay, maybe not much better. He could admit to an aesthetic appreciation for the benefits of good nutrition and plentiful exercise, and maybe some good genetics, but that was it. There, he drew the line. He lifted his chin. “Are you playing hooky or what?”

Jefferson ignored the question. He reached out to take one of Teddy’s hands, the move so surprising that Teddy actually let him do it — until Jefferson flipped it from back to front and wrinkled his nose. “Nice manicure. You and Noelani go to the same place to get your nails done?”

Teddy bristled up. He might be small, but he was a redhead, by God, and he had the temper to match. And it was a nice manicure. He jerked his hand back and flashed the nails, neatly shaped and trimmed and painted a sparkly blue, at the… the… oaf, finishing with the middle ones up. “I can get you a discount if you want. Nail Me Spa on Maple. I don’t know if they can do much for athlete’s foot.”

Jefferson chuffed a short breath through his nose and glowered at Teddy. “I was just saying. Jeez. Why do you always have to get all fired up?”

Teddy ignored his question with what he hoped was grand aplomb. Ooh, Jefferson always got him wound so tight. “What are you doing here?” he asked again, planting his feet on the sidewalk.

“What do you think?” Jefferson turned to pick up a duffel that’d been hidden in his shadow and hitched the strap over one shoulder. “I’m moving in.”

“You’re what?”

 

More from Willa at Changeling Press …

Willa Okati is made of many things: imagination, coffee, stray cat hairs, daydreams, more coffee, kitchen experimentation, a passion for winter weather, a little more coffee, and a lifelong love of storytelling. She is definitely one of the quiet ones you have to watch out for.

You can reach Willa at willaokati@gmail.com.

Join Willa on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/willa.okati.

 

 

Book Blitz: Starting from Scratch by Lane Hayes #LGBT #bisexual #RomanceBooks @LaneHayes3

Title: Starting From Scratch

Series: Starting From, #2

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: October 17, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 80k

Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Enemies to lovers, Rock and roll, Hurt-comfort, Opposites attract

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Synopsis

Charlie Rourke is an ultra fabulous human whirlwind on a mission to launch the next biggest band in the world. However, he might have taken on more than he could handle when he signed on to manage Zero. Promoting a rock band and finding gigs shouldn’t be hard. They’re a talented group with a ton of star power. If Charlie can find the right record label, he’s sure he can help them get to the next level. The only problem is the skater boy slash bassist with a quirky sense of humor. He’s annoying and silly, and he’s exactly Charlie’s type. Except he’s straight.

Ky Baldwin isn’t afraid to switch things up. He loves a challenge as much as anyone, but Charlie doesn’t make things easy. Zero’s manager is a force of nature with a razor sharp tongue, a quick wit, and a no-nonsense attitude. Ky can’t stop thinking about him. Winning over Charlie becomes Ky’s pet project. But when the ice between them thaws, neither is prepared for the intensity of going from enemies to lovers. They’ll have to decide if they’re willing to start from scratch and take a chance on the unexpected.

Excerpt

“I know that was random, but it’s not a bad idea if you think about it. Want something to drink?” Charlie asked as he moved toward the kitchen.

I grabbed his wrist before he got anywhere. “Hang on. What are you doing?”

He cocked his head curiously but didn’t pull away. “I’m being practical. If you read any further about Virgos you probably found out we’re known for being sensible. And polite. So, I’m politely asking if you’d like a beverage while sensibly suggesting that I help out with your skating lessons.”

“Okay. First up…I don’t want a fuckin’ snack and second, it’s not a skating lesson. We’re skateboarding,” I said, glowering at him.

“I’ve heard it said both ways. Skating, skateboarding. I looked it up in Urban Dictionary too, so I’m pretty sure I’m right.”

“No. There’s something in your tone that makes it all wrong. Like you’re purposely trying to sabotage this.”

Charlie opened his mouth in a perfect O. “Gasp! I wouldn’t do that!”

“Cut the crap. You’re doing it now. You don’t want to learn, and you don’t want Oliver to either. It’s a control thing. But you can’t control what you don’t fuckin’ get. So take a seat and let me teach him without you freaking out or—why are you looking at me like that?”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. You’re doing something weird with your eyes, though. You look spaced out.”

“Mmm. I’m trying not to swoon. You look so fierce and you’re holding my hand, Ky. You should feel my heart. It’s beating out of my chest. Seriously.” He fluttered his lashes a few times and bit his bottom lip.

I chuckled softly and stepped closer. “Are you flirting with me, Char?”

“No, it’s the other way around. You’re flirting with me. Big macho displays really get my motor running. Medium-sized ones do too. I love it when…”

Okay, so I lost myself. I tuned out the sound of his voice and concentrated on him. The mischievous glint in his eyes, the proud set of his shoulders, and the way his mouth curled at the corner. He was doing it again. Owning the moment. Taking it over. Charlie looked for weakness in any form, then slyly made adjustments before moving in for the kill. No doubt he thought I’d back down fast and run away. I wasn’t going anywhere.

I fixated on his bottom lip and inched closer. He kept talking…something about dick size or muscles…I wasn’t sure, but I liked the cadence of his voice. The teasing lilt and easy humor. I let go of his wrist, brushing his fingers before setting my hand on his hip. He went perfectly still.

Before he could ask me what the fuck I was doing, I kissed him.

It was more of a press of lips than a grand gesture. And though it might not rank as the kind of kiss that would change the world, I immediately knew it would change mine.

Everything in me went on high alert. I’d never been so in tune with a moment. The flutter of his eyelashes, the brush of his nose, and the soft sweetness of his lips against mine. Fuck, it was amazing. Like mind-blowing amazing. He tasted like cherries and smelled like sunshine mixed with something exotic.

I couldn’t be sure over the roar of my heart attempting to beat its way out of my chest, but I thought he hummed in approval, so I angled my head slightly to deepen the connection and pulled him closer. If he was anyone else, I probably would have stuck my tongue between his lips and let my hands roam all over his body. I wanted to, but I didn’t want to scare either of us. So I stayed where I was until the need for oxygen became an issue.

Then I jumped back two feet and stared at him with my eyes bugged out. “Holy fuck.”

Charlie set his fingers on his bottom lip and blinked like he was coming out of a daze. “You kissed me,” he said softly.

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Meet the Author

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

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Book Blitz: The Spymaster’s Secret by Antonia Aquilante #Fantasy #LGBT #bisexual #NewRelease @antoniaquilante

Title: The Spymaster’s Secret

Series: Chronicles of Tournai, Book Seven

Author: Antonia Aquilante

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 14, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 107100

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, Fantasy, paranormal, family-drama, political intrigue, magic, gay, bisexual, royalty, men with children, architect, college, magic users, cat shifter

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Synopsis

Alexander is doing his best to settle into life in Tournai’s royal palace after years living outside the country due to his father’s diplomatic work. The sense of belonging and home he feels is overwhelming, but none of his plans are going as he imagined. Many see him as only a lovely, charming adornment of the royal court and underestimate both his intelligence and abilities. His attraction to Marcus, a mysterious older man who does work for the prince, Alexander’s cousin, is unexpected but not unwelcome…if Marcus could possibly see who Alexander really is.

Lord Marcus is the second son of a minor noble family, a widower raising two children…and the prince’s spymaster. He knows his work is necessary for the security of the kingdom and its royal family, but he also knows it can be distasteful and dangerous to him and those around him. Marcus has vowed never to fall in love again, never to put anyone else at risk—a promise threatened for the first time by the vibrant, flirtatious Alexander. The attraction is unwelcome and entirely undeniable. He can’t believe someone like Alexander would want someone like him, but he also can’t stay away.

As they become ever more entangled, Marcus is investigating rumors of spies at work in Tournai’s university. As he gets closer to uncovering their plot, Alexander is drawn deeper into danger. Can their love survive when Alexander is put in peril by the very spies Marcus is hunting for?

Excerpt

The Spymaster’s Secret
Antonia Aquilante © 2019
All Rights Reserved

“What do you have to tell us, Lord Marcus?”

Marcus sat in one of the chairs across from the pair of desks in the princes’ private office and contemplated Prince Philip. The crown prince had the look of his father and something of his manner, a commanding presence he had probably cultivated since birth. He had the dark hair and classically handsome features of the men in the royal family and the bred-in-the-bone care for this country. Which Marcus had a feeling he might have thrown over in a heartbeat for the man beside him. Prince Consort Amory was shorter and fair with large dark eyes and curling auburn hair. He hadn’t been born into royalty or even nobility, but he’d adapted to his role far better than most of Tournai’s nobility had anticipated. Marcus knew quite well what each noble family thought of the marriage, just past its third anniversary, although the princes had never asked him for the information.

“First, Your Highnesses, the prisoner taken into custody at the border hasn’t answered any questions posed to him. I was asked to try.”

The army had brought the man in from the border several days ago. Tournai was protected from magical attack by a barrier created by a web of spells. Almost no one knew of the spells in Tournai, but someone outside had apparently discovered their protection and was determined to find its weaknesses. The man had been testing the barrier, and somehow the spells had caught and held him until the army could get there. Marcus had to speak with Savarin about how he’d been caught and what weaknesses they should guard against.

Philip frowned. “We need answers from him. I can’t believe the threat has disappeared because we’ve apprehended one man at the border.”

“With all respect, Your Highness, we don’t know what the threat is yet.” Marcus glanced between the princes but returned his attention to Philip. “I’ll do everything I can to find out and quickly, but there is more than one possibility.”

“I think the possibility at the top of our minds is this man was sent by Ardunn,” Amory said in his quiet tone. “I doubt anyone will rest easy until we can rule that out. If we can.”

“It is a possibility, Your Highness, and a strong one.” The Ardunn empire was located far to their east, separated from Tournai by an impassable mountain range and the kingdom of Elleri, but Ardunn’s emperor was obsessed with conquest and seemingly interested in using Tournai as a foothold for gaining control of this half of the continent. The geographical barriers were too great to march an army in, and Ardunn had no naval power to speak of. But they routinely sent their agents into Tournai searching for weaknesses. “However, with the bandit attacks along the border over the last several months, it isn’t the only one. He might have been with the bandits. Or he could’ve been sent from Ardunn or hired by them to test the barriers. The attacks could’ve been orchestrated by Ardunn as well. Or they might be completely unrelated. For all we know, the prisoner was working on his own, unrelated to either the bandits or Ardunn.”

Marcus didn’t much care for that option, as it meant they probably had another enemy lurking, but he also didn’t think it was the most likely either.

Philip’s frown deepened, not even lightening when Amory laid a hand on his arm. “You’re not giving me much helpful information, Lord Marcus.”

“I apologize, Your Highness. All I can do at this point is present you with theories.” He spread his hands in a helpless gesture. He wished he had more for the princes—he took the lack as a personal failure despite the short time he’d had this problem on his desk. “I will do everything I can to get information from our prisoner, and I have people searching for the bandits he was likely traveling with as well.”

“The army has been chasing them for months.” Amory’s remark was said without judgment for either Marcus’s people or the army.

“I’m aware, Your Highness, but my people can go unnoticed in a way the army can’t.”

Amory nodded, thoughtful, but Philip spoke. “Coordinate with Captain Loriot if you need further information, though I can’t imagine you ever lacking information.”

Marcus smiled slightly at Philip’s dry statement. “Far be it from me to ever claim I know everything, Your Highness. That would be the heights of arrogance.”

“If you say so.”

Philip didn’t explain why Marcus should see Loriot if he needed information about a situation the army was overseeing. Loriot’s power ended at the city gates when he wasn’t traveling with the princes. But Marcus could surmise.

“Is there anything else we need to know? Not only about our prisoner, of course.” Philip always phrased the question that way when he asked. Marcus didn’t blame him—there were certain things the princes didn’t need to know, which was why they had Marcus.

“Not at this time, Your Highness.” There were a dozen things Marcus could have told them, but none needed their immediate attention. If any of the rumors his people were chasing down at the university became more substantial, then he’d bring them to the princes.

Philip sat back. “All right, Lord Marcus. Keep us informed about the questioning.”

“Of course, Your Highness.”

Dismissed from the royal presence, Marcus let himself into the corridor and turned his steps to the right, following the most direct route out of the wing holding the royal apartments. The princes had formal offices in the palace proper, but Marcus was more often summoned to their private study, the place they did their work, so by now, he knew the way back to the more public areas. He needed to return to the city and his work for the day, of which their prisoner was only one part. There was a meeting later with two of his agents about the whispers they’d picked up at the university, and it might be time for Marcus to find a few moments to return to work on a new truth potion.

If he could get the potion right, it might be useful with their prisoner.

In the middle of the day, these corridors were empty but for the royal guards stationed periodically along them. Marcus doubted they were ever crowded. This part of the palace saw no one except the resident members of the royal family, their guests, and those who served them. Marcus had only ever been allowed in to meet with the princes at their request. His family was lower-ranked nobility, but neither they nor he was in the princes’ inner circle.

He let part of his mind go over the changes he wanted to make to the potion, running through ingredients and proportions while the rest of his focus noted what there was to see in the hallway. The guards were alert and also unobtrusive, which was to be expected. Palace security was Loriot’s purview, and he took his job seriously. His guards were well trained, highly efficient, and well vetted before they even got that far, their trustworthiness in keeping royal matters private ensured further by magic.

Despite the palace being Loriot’s domain, Marcus had a couple of his people placed there to keep an eye on the royal family as well. Those family members who lived in the palace were closest to the princes. While Marcus didn’t expect them to pose a threat, there had been treachery of various kinds over the past few years, and he was wary of anyone trying to get too close. He’d had his people keeping their eyes on the twins—Philip’s cousins through the youngest of his father’s sisters—since they’d arrived unexpectedly back in the autumn with the intention of staying. Marcus had seen no indication they meant any harm, but knowledge was useful, and caution never misplaced.

A laugh shattered the quiet and brought Marcus’s attention fully back to his surroundings. As he approached an intersecting corridor, the two young men he’d been thinking of came around the corner. They were nearly identical in appearance with the same shade of dark hair that glowed red in the light, the same ivory skin and peridot eyes, the same delicate features, an intriguing mix of pretty and sensual. Their differences were slight, but perfectly apparent with a moment’s study. Alexander was slightly taller, and Faelen’s hair fell in loose curls while Alexander’s was a tumble of waves.

He’d made a point of finding out which of them was which. And not because of the way Alexander had looked at him the one previous time he’d been in their presence.

The way Alexander looked at him now. Curious with a spark of something more.

Alexander had been the one laughing, a joyful, delighted sound that made Marcus want to smile. He forced himself not to, forced his face to remain bland and pleasant and unremarkable. Forced himself to ignore the little lurch, the punch of attraction when he looked into Alexander’s eyes.

He had to.

Those eyes sparkled. “Good morning, Lord Marcus.”

Faelen noticed him then. A smile still flirted with his finely wrought lips, but his eyes held none of the same interest as his twin’s. Which Marcus wouldn’t have expected for many reasons—he couldn’t understand why Alexander regarded him the way he did—but mostly because Faelen had apparently taken a serious lover, which he’d subtly announced at court through his presence at Faelen’s side at the princes’ anniversary ball not long ago.

“Good morning, Lord Marcus,” Faelen echoed. “I hope you’re well today.”

Marcus bowed. “Good morning, my lords. I am, thank you, and you?”

“Very well. Thank you,” Faelen replied.

“What brings you to the palace today, Lord Marcus?” Alexander’s tone and words were as smooth as Faelen’s. The two might not have spent most of their lives at Tournai’s court, but perhaps they’d had to become even more skilled because of their years away. A foreign court wasn’t an easy place to live, even a nominally friendly one.

“A meeting with Their Highnesses.” He wouldn’t discuss the subject with anyone without the princes’ permission, and certainly not in a hallway where anyone might hear. He knew better than most the walls often had ears.

Alexander and Faelen didn’t ask, possibly because they knew the necessity of discretion too, as they should as members of Tournai’s ruling family however far removed from the throne. They did exchange a glance, so quick anyone not watching closely would’ve missed it. Some sort of information passed between them in the fleeting look, but what they shared was a mystery to Marcus.

“I’m sure you’re busy, Lord Marcus,” Faelen said. “We won’t impose upon any more of your time.”

“It’s hardly an imposition, but I’m sure you have engagements to attend.” Marcus bowed slightly again. “I’ll bid you good day.”

They returned his farewell as Faelen looped his arm through Alexander’s. Marcus refused to allow himself to turn and watch them walk away. To do so would reveal too much, to all of them. He did, however, catch a glimpse of their slender forms in a large, silver-framed mirror hanging on the wall. He didn’t allow himself more than the glimpse before continuing on his way at a brisk pace, not stopping again as he wound through the corridors and finally out into the winter chill. He had far too much to do to let himself be distracted, especially by a young royal cousin he had no business observing outside a professional capacity. And no reason to study him so closely in even that way any longer. It shouldn’t have disappointed him.

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Meet the Author

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

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

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

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