New Release Blitz: Hearts of Destiny by Kay Doherty #shifters #GayRomance

Title: Hearts of Destiny

Series: Chevalier, Book Four

Author: Kay Doherty

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 30, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40700{

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, gay, pack dynamics, feud, wolf shifters, dragon shifters, multispecies shifters, bonded mates

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Synopsis

Ean and Matthias have known they’re mates for a while, but Matthias has been unwilling to claim Ean. He believes his past and age-old secrets are too big for Ean to overcome, so instead keeps Ean away by irritating him.

Depressed and no longer able to be near the dragon-shifter, Ean leaves the pack house and, after a night of heavy drinking, makes a life-changing decision that pushes Matthias into action.

As the blood moon draws nearer, the Chevalier Pack is called before a tribunal of paranormal leaders to assess the Alpha’s rumored mysterious abilities. Matthias decides to share his secrets with a little help from Colby. And to top everything off, they face another attack by the McBane Pack, which the Chevalier decide will be the last.

Excerpt

Hearts of Destiny
Kay Doherty © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Duray Horde Vault

After adjusting the stack of scrolls tucked beneath his arm, Matthias opened the door to the vaults and headed down the stairs. He had no idea what was contained in the newest additions to the horde library, but Sadie had insisted he take them, look through them, and archive them appropriately. The sheer number of scrolls he was carrying guaranteed weeks of sequestered reading, and he was looking forward to it. Matthias often disappeared for days within the vault stacks, and no one cared. He was moody and antisocial at the best of times and preferred his own company to that of other dragons.

At the back of the library, he dropped the scrolls unceremoniously on top of the desk he’d claimed as his, decades ago. Since no one came down to the vaults, no one had challenged his claim. As far as the horde was concerned, the vaults were Matthias’s domain. The soft thump of little feet echoed in the cavernous space, dulled slightly by the papers and leather-bound tomes that filled the shelving. Matthias knew who those steps belonged to, and his disposition lightened a bit. Sadie’s son had a thirst for knowledge that Matthias admired, even if it did mean his quiet sanctuary was invaded on a regular basis by the child.

“Hi, Matthias.”

“What are you doing down here, Luca?”

The fledgling hefted a book that was nearly a third his size, and Matthias recognized it as an old human-written story about a witch. He wasn’t sure it was an appropriate choice for a fledgling of just eight years to read, but he’d learned early on that Luca was not an ordinary little dragon. There was something special about him: something that reminded Matthias of the child he’d raised centuries before.

“Nothing in that book is factual,” Matthias told the boy.

“That’s good, because the witch ate the kids.” Luca winced before turning around and disappearing into the shelving.

“Don’t make me come behind you and straighten up,” Matthias ordered, his voice carrying through the room despite him not raising it the slightest bit.

Twenty entirely-too-quiet minutes passed before Matthias rose from his chair to go check on Luca. He found the book the boy had brought back exactly where it should be, but Luca wasn’t there. Returning to the main aisle, Matthias glanced down each row as he passed until he finally found Luca sitting on the floor with his back against the stone wall with a book opened across his little legs.

“This isn’t a row you’re allowed to be in,” Matthias said, shocking the little boy who was clearly immersed in what he was reading.

Matthias squatted in front of him, closed the book, and willed the panic he felt explode in his chest to not show on his face as he pulled the book from Luca’s grasp. He stood and placed the tome well above the boy’s head. Luca was entirely too curious for his own good.

“But I liked that story,” Luca complained. “It had a dragon married to a wolf, and I didn’t know that could happen, and I want to see what happens next.”

Matthias swallowed thickly. Luca thought he was reading a fictional story, but Matthias knew all too well that the Chevalier family had been real, and he’d be damned if he put the idea of interspecies matings into the head of the horde matriarch’s son. Pushing the memory of his own interspecies mating to the back of his mind—because what did it matter anymore?—he looked down at the fledgling.

He steered the boy into a more appropriate area of the vaults to be explored and then returned to the tome he’d confiscated. Pulling it off the shelf, Matthias thumbed through page after page of his own historical account of the Chevalier, removed the most informative and thereby damaging chapters, and then replaced it on the shelf. Luca was only going to get older, taller, and more curious with age. Matthias wouldn’t risk him finding the book again.

Later that night, after darkness had fallen and the compound had grown silent with slumber, Matthias burned one of the last firsthand accounts of the Chevalier—his own. Why he’d thought it was a good idea to put that horror down on paper, he’d never understand. Youthful folly. All that was left to do was locate and obtain Alietta’s journal, the final remaining written history of the family and subsequent events Matthias had yet to destroy. For now, he was content knowing the only memory of the Chevalier that existed in the Duray Horde was now locked safely away inside his head; a place no amount of childhood curiosity could penetrate.

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Meet the Author

Kay Doherty is an omnisexual/polysexual who lives in Colorado with her poly-family, Mike, Keri, and Tigz. Her house is overrun with cats and dogs. Family is important to her so there are daily texts, frequent visits to her parents, and constant banter with her brothers. She happily suffers a severe addiction to coffee and Mexican food. She loves to read and write and can easily become consumed by it for hours, much to the dismay of Mike and Keri (Tigz is an enabler). On occasion she can be convinced to venture out into the world of the living despite being annoyed by the sun shining in her face.

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Release Blitz: Thicker Than Water by Becca Seymour #urbanfantasy #LGBTQ

Title: Thicker Than Water

Author: Becca Seymour

Publisher: Rainbow Tree Publishing

Release Date: March 14th 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65000

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, urban fantasy romance, shifter romance

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Outcast operative in the Supernatural Investigation & Crime Bureau (SICB) Callen Blackheath finds himself doing what he does best: defying orders and giving his boss a headache in the thick of an operation he shouldn’t be in. And there’s no way he’s walking away, not when the investigation has become deadly personal.

Needing to protect the only family member he has left, this wolf shifter will do whatever it takes to stop the blood farms and destroy the dangerous drugs the vampires will kill for. But he doesn’t expect Liam “Thatch” Thatcher, the head of a special task force team, to receive a bite that pulls him into the centre of Callen’s world.

Bonded by memories and blood, together they navigate the operation that has wider reaches than they could ever imagine. And when it comes to matters of the heart, Callen knows in order to win, he needs to risk it all.

Excerpt

Heat rippled over my skin. The singed scent of hair clogged my ability to track the way out, leaving me momentarily cursing my stubbornness for going this alone. My boss would never let me live it down if I got myself charred to a crisp or killed. At least the latter would mean I wouldn’t have to listen to his pompous spiel about following protocol. The dick had it out for me. He had since I’d joined this team three years ago, and despite my success rate on missions, he hadn’t taken kindly to the son of the Blackheath alpha joining the Supernatural Investigation & Crime Bureau.

Creaking beams followed by the crash of timber had me blinking hard against the blackening smoke. There had to be a way out. While Brent, my division leader, thought I was foolhardy—or perhaps simply a fool—I had studied the schematics of the lab prior to entering. What I hadn’t planned for was Jonas Cartwright to set the damn thing on fire with me in it.

Focussed on pushing my senses beyond the sound of the licking fire and groaning foundations, I closed my eyes, hoping for a ripple, something, anything that would get me out of this situation. Two beats, three, four… but nothing. I could either stay planted, hoping a miracle would happen, or I could act. Neither seemed like a smart move but staying put and being roasted was not an option. The raw heat travelling up my arms, removing my hairs along the way, cried out for my retreat.

Action it was.

In barely a split second, my eyes shifted. While the heightened sight wouldn’t help with the smoke, the electricity had been tripped by the fire, and I needed all the help I could get.

I cursed up a storm in my head as I raced the way I’d come. With a leap over a toppled cabinet, a swerve away from the licks of fire trailing along workstation dividers, I swore the whole time I would find Cartwright and put him to ground once and for all. The way ahead was blocked, and no barrelling through would solve that. I screeched to a stop. “Shit.” I looked left and right, thinking hard about the drawings I’d glanced at ten seconds before entering the lab. Screw Brent and his demands for being well-prepared. I had no doubt my name, Callen, was already a regular curse from him. This would simply give him more ammunition. It was better than him seething my surname, Blackheath, I supposed, but still, ten seconds of my eyes roaming over the layout was as good as studying in my world.

Before I could figure out my next move, a small scrape of metal to my left had me turning in that direction. I seriously hoped I wasn’t racing towards more flames, but the sound was distinctive, controlled.

On reaching a hallway I didn’t recognise, I stumbled. “What the hell?” At the end of the darkened hallway was a glass door. While smoke spiralled through the space, it wasn’t as black, the fire not yet having reached the area. I crouched low to avoid the white smoke, my eyes focussed on the hand scratching against the glass door. Blood smeared with every gentle swipe, the movement slowing down.

No one was supposed to be here. Ignoring the fact that Cartwright had blown my half-arsed recon out of the window and taken me by surprise, there seriously shouldn’t have been anyone else on site. An unfamiliar edge of panic flared to life in my chest. This was not good.

I charged towards the glass, stopping short of barrelling into it to try the handle. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d broken down a door unnecessarily. I didn’t want to crash through a glass door unless I had to. While I healed quickly, shards of glass cutting through my skin still hurt something fierce.

Testing the handle with one hand, I hit the glass lower down, trying to get the attention of the person attempting to get out. Their bloody hand peeking out a white lab coat twitched at the loud thud. “Shit,” I grumbled. The door was locked. “Hey.” I beat against the glass panel harder. It was partially misted for privacy, and visibility was unclear. Unable to tell who was on the other side or whether the smoke had breached the room from another direction, for once, I considered my options.

“Hey.” I tried again, my hand smacking the glass harder, not yet intending to break through. “Can you hear me?” Steadying my breath took concentration, but I needed to listen carefully.

“Code.” The voice was gravelly. “P-Panel.”

I searched quickly and found a panel off to my right. “I need the code.” Each word came out calm and clear. Panicking now could possibly get us both killed.

“Five.” A cough wracked through him, loud and sounding painful. I squinted, wondering what the hell this guy had been through. “Two. Seven. Seven. Four. Nine.”

I hit the numbers as he said them.

“Hash,” he finished, and the door clicked, swinging open when the guy fell against it. He landed on the floor.

Unconscious at my feet, the man was sprawled on his front. I tugged him to the side. With no idea where we were, I couldn’t simply throw the guy over my shoulder and start charging around, hitting dead ends and burning doors wherever we went. Decision made, I cast a quick glance at the man. Wet blood covered his rich black skin, but his moving chest indicated he was breathing. Barely. Christ, I hoped he didn’t die on me. After a final glance, I rushed into the unlocked room. Just because it had been sealed from the inside didn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to get through another exit.

A door on the opposite side of the room was my target. I headed straight there, spotting vials and another room off to my right. Before I reached the exit, the scent hit me. Blood, and it wasn’t from the unconscious lab tech in the hallway. I took a tentative step in the direction the scent came from, bile already churning in my gut.

No. It couldn’t be.

Another step forward, and I held my breath, not wanting to believe it could be true.

Wide-eyed, I gasped for breath, then regretted the action immediately. Metallic, familiar, and dead. The combination of the three threatened to buckle my knees. Unable to look away, I stared hard, hating every second. But I had to do this. Flesh, torn muscle, mutilated claws; the image seared itself into my mind. Once there, a shockwave of pain ripped through me.

No.

This time I let my knees go and landed on the floor, my knee finding the blood the same shade of my own. It was her. Hazel. My baby sister.

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Meet the Author

Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.

Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.

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Release Blitz: Chaser by Rick R. Reed #gayromance #instalove

Title: Chaser

Series: Chaser, Book One

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 24, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 67500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Insta-love, family illness, separation, perceived cheating, physical fitness, narcissistic character, betrayal

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Synopsis

Caden DeSarro is what they call a chubby chaser. He likes his guys with a few extra pounds on them. So when he meets Kevin Dodge in a bar bathroom, he can’t help but stare. As far as Caden is concerned, Kevin is physically perfect: a stocky bearded blond. But Caden gets tongue-tied and misses his chance.

When Caden runs into Kevin one night on the el train, he figures it’s fate offering him a second shot. Caden manages to get invited back to Kevin’s place for a one-night stand that turns into the kind of relationship he’s dreamed about.

But the course of true love never runs smoothly—Kevin and Caden’s romance is no exception. When Caden returns from a few weeks away on business, Kevin surprises him with a new and “improved” body—one that fits Caden’s shallow friend Bobby’s ideal, but not Caden’s. Caden doesn’t know what to do, and his hesitation is just the opportunity Bobby was looking for.

Excerpt

Chaser
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

“I like fat men.”

“You like big butts?”

“I cannot lie.”

Caden and his therapist laughed together over the song reference, both old enough to remember Sir Mix-A-Lot’s 1992 rap hit “Baby Got Back.” Camille D’Amico reined in her laughter abruptly, pushing her tortoiseshell glasses back up on her nose and fussing with her frizzy halo of brown hair. She adopted a serious expression. “So you’re attracted to heavier men. Is that a problem?”

“Not really a problem, I guess. It’s just that I wonder why. I mean, look at me.”

Caden stood up, turned around slowly, and sat back down in the comfortable overstuffed chair facing Camille. He knew what he was displaying—a very trim, tight five-foot-eleven frame upon which not even an ounce of fat rested. In the dictionary, if one looked up the word “lean,” there was Caden’s picture, the perfect illustration. He rubbed his hands over his black buzz cut and then brought one hand down to the stubble of his just-coming-in beard. Not only was he very fit, he was a very handsome thirty-year-old man.

“What?” Camille asked. “You think you’re too good for a guy with a few extra pounds on his frame? Think you’re slumming if you take a walk on the fat side?”

Caden shook his head and put up his palms in self-defense. “No, no, that’s not it at all. I don’t think I’m better, not by any stretch. I’m just wondering why, lately especially, I’ve been drawn to heavier men.”

“Is this something new for you?”

“Not really, but it’s only something I’ve been acting on in the past few months. I have this friend, Bobby, who I usually go out with and he’s, well, he can be kind of superficial…” Caden’s voice trailed off as he thought of his gorgeous friend, who looked a lot like the porn star, Dawson, with a trim build, cut abs, closely shorn auburn hair, and luminous gray eyes. The difference between Bobby and Dawson was that Bobby was much choosier than Dawson, although perhaps no less promiscuous—no mean feat when one considered one of Dawson’s films was entitled Dawson’s 50-Load Weekend. Anyway, this session was supposed to be about Caden, not Bobby. “And he always gives me a hard time about wanting to meet, as I said, heavier men.”

“And this Bobby’s opinion is important to you?”

“He’s my best friend.”

“Important enough that you would alter going after what you really want for him?”

Camille’s question stopped him short. He’d never really thought of it that way. Why did it matter what Bobby thought? So what if he didn’t approve of the bearded redhead he met online and invited over last week? And what business was it of Bobby’s if he liked to peruse the profiles at footballplayerbuild.com?

Obviously, it bothered him enough to bring it up here today with Camille, whom he had been seeing for the past three weeks. His visits to her were his thirtieth birthday present to himself. He hoped to figure out why, at age thirty, he had yet to find a relationship that lasted more than three dates.

He had begun wondering if there was something intrinsically wrong with him. He was a good catch—at least that’s what his mother told him—but on paper, he did look good. No one could argue with that. He was handsome, having inherited his mother’s Sicilian olive complexion, black hair, and eyes that ranged from amber to green. His nose was strong, patrician, some might say (his mom again, anyway). He wasn’t a bodybuilder, but years of running four to six miles four to six days a week, along with summertime lakefront bike rides, had given him a good, solid build.

And it wasn’t just in the looks department where he thought he had a lot to offer. He had a good head on his shoulders. That he got from his late father, who had been a fully tenured professor of English literature at Northwestern University in Evanston before passing away unexpectedly one morning in the bathroom of a heart attack. That same head on his shoulders had given him, if not a stellar job, a solidly respectable and reliable one as a copywriter at a medical association in downtown Chicago. He had been there since graduating from Northwestern nine years ago, starting out as an editorial assistant on one of their trade journals.

So why did he feel the need to try to apply the same standards Bobby applied to his own dates, standards that could be summed up by Bobby with the initials FG, which stood for “fucking gorgeous”? If a man was not FG, so Bobby’s rationale went, he was not worth fucking.

Sometimes Caden wondered why he had Bobby as a best friend. But he could be hilarious at times, and he could be a lot of fun. Caden on his own in a bar was a wallflower, but with Bobby, some of his charm and charisma, the devil-may-care attitude, rubbed off on Caden.

Plus, going out with Bobby usually meant he would hook up with one of Bobby’s FG prospects’ fucking gorgeous friends. Because, as Bobby always said, “The hot ones travel in packs.”

Caden shook his head and looked at the therapist, who was sitting patiently, waiting. “What did you ask me again?”

“I asked you if Bobby’s opinion was more important to you than getting what you want.” Camille cocked her head.

“No, no, of course not.” He answered too quickly.

“You know,” Camille said, “I’m like what’s in your own head. There’s no need in here to try and come up with what you think is the right answer. No need to censor yourself. Do I need to remind you there’s no judgment here?”

“No.”

“So, I won’t ask you about Bobby’s opinion again, but I do want you to think about your answer.”

“Why?”

“Because you brought up your attraction to heavy men for a reason.” Camille shrugged. “It doesn’t matter so much what the reason is, so much as it matters what you think about it. Look, people are attracted to other people for all sorts of reasons, and there’s no right or wrong way to be attracted. Take my mother—please!” Camille laughed. “Ever since my father passed away a few years ago, she’s been all about younger men. And I am not talking forties and fifties here. I’m talking about much younger, your age, Caden, and even in their twenties. Mom’s sixty, but she’s a knockout.”

“Cougar?” Caden asked.

“Use that word around her and you might get your eyes scratched out. Anyway, my point is that it’s what she likes, and even though I did question it at first, especially when she was having me meet guys who were younger than I was, it wasn’t my call to make. Attraction is subjective—totally.”

“You’re right.”

Camille laughed. “I’m not looking for affirmation. I just want to understand why you chose to bring up this particular attraction with your therapist.”

And Caden realized he’d like to know the reason himself. If he could only get a handle on it, a love handle, if you will. He shook his head, censoring his inner Kathy Griffin.

The therapy session failed to illuminate the rationale for Caden’s attraction, and he left Camille’s office with homework not on why he was attracted to heavy guys, but why he felt that mattered.

It didn’t matter, did it?

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Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his beloved husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Release Blitz: Tricks and Bids by Jacqueline Grey #contemporaryromance #LGBTQ

Title: Tricks and Bids

Series: Suit of Harte’s, Book One

Author: Jacqueline Grey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 17, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 20300

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, BDSM, romance, contemporary, gay, sex industry, prostitution

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Synopsis

When Michael Nole propositions Dillon Spade outside a BDSM club one evening, all he is looking for is a potential client and a little kink. He gets much more than he bargained for. As a prostitute, Michael enjoys sex but keeps an emotional distance between himself and the men he sleeps with. His priority is to keep himself safe, but after a night in Dillon’s bed, he finds the line between enjoyment and occupation blurring.

Dillon hasn’t taken another man home since his previous lover passed away six years ago, but there is something about Michael that calls to his inner Dominant in a way he cannot resist. His instincts want to claim the boy even as he reminds himself that he is only paying Michael for temporary company.

Their relationship may have started as a business transaction, but it’s difficult to remain professional when breaking all the rules.

Excerpt

Tricks and Bids
Jacqueline Grey © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“Hey. Wanna play?”

Dillon glanced up to find a young man leaning against the hood of his car. At Dillon’s pointed look, he took a step back, so he no longer touched the automobile.

“What gave you the impression I want company?”

“You obviously didn’t find what you were looking for in there” came the reply with a nod back at Harte, the BDSM club Dillon had just exited. “If you had, you wouldn’t be leaving this early.”

“And you think you’re what I want?”

The boy shrugged.

Dillon peered at him. He appeared to be in his midtwenties, fit and tight in the way Dillon remembered being before he’d hit thirty-three. He was shorter than Dillon with dark-brown hair long enough to grip: two things Dillon liked in a submissive. There was something familiar about him as well. If Dillon wasn’t mistaken, he’d seen him heading into a nearby motel a few times and never with the same “date.”

“Are you a prostitute?” Dillon asked.

The blunt question evoked an expression of surprise, but it rapidly morphed into a smooth smile. “‘Prostitute’ sounds like a job. It’s more of a hobby.”

“One you get paid for.”

“It’s a good hobby.”

Dillon cracked a smile. “How much do you charge?”

“Depends on what you want to do.”

That was reasonable enough, and if he’d been waiting outside Harte, he must know to expect kink and charge for it accordingly. “Are you clean?”

“Yes, and condoms are necessary and at your expense.”

“Expense? That sounds like a job term to me,” Dillon teased.

He considered his options. The boy was right. He hadn’t found what he was searching for in the club, and he held no illusions he ever would. Even after six years, he couldn’t help comparing every submissive he came across to the lover he’d lost. Harte called him a stubborn old goat, but the thought of building a relationship from scratch exhausted him. It was so hard to find someone whose rhythms and tastes fit with his own. Granted, the club was designed for negotiation and mutually desired play, but that was for the scenes that took place there. What about the rest of the time?

Dillon didn’t want a casual play partner. That did nothing more for him than scratch an itch that would return in no time. He wanted someone he could build a life with. He wasn’t going to find that with a prostitute, but something about the stranger brought forth yearnings Dillon hadn’t felt in years. He could take the boy home with him, indulge in what he wanted in his own territory and under his own rules. It would be a purchased illusion, but it beat going home alone and sleeping in an empty bed.

“Come on,” he said, pulling his car door open and unlocking the other side. “We’ll talk details when we get to my place.”

“Your place? Don’t you mean a hotel?”

“My place,” repeated Dillon. “I don’t do quick fucks.”

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Meet the Author

Jacqueline Grey currently lives on an island on the east coast of the United States. She spends her time outside her day job juggling her many interests which include reading, writing and drinking tea. She loves M/M romance, usually focusing on stories that include BDSM themes to one degree or another.

Jacqueline has always been driven by characters. She loves a good plot, but it’s the characters that pull her into a story. She loves romance and believes everyone has a right to be happy. She enjoys seeing her characters find that happiness for themselves.

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Book Blitz: Winter Masquerade by Kevin Klehr #fantasy #GayRomance

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WinterMasquerade-500Title:  Winter Masquerade

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: January 20, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 32800

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, Romance, fantasy, gay, party, musicians, mythical creatures, trial, judge, alternative universe

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Synopsis

Ferris wakes on the Sea Queen, an enchanted cruise ship sailing on a chocolate sea. He has no idea how he got here, but he desperately wants to go home to his boyfriend.

The alchemist is the only person who can help Ferris, but he’s been kidnapped. The ransom is high tea with scones and jam.

Meanwhile, the passengers are gearing up for the Winter Masquerade, a ball where love and magic reign.

With a murderous musician, an absent boyfriend, and a mystical party, Ferris soon learns that Wednesday is not the day to fall in love.

Winter Masquerade Now Available

 

Excerpt

Winter Masquerade

Kevin Klehr © 2020

All Rights Reserved

 

Pitch black. Then candlelight. One lonely flame lit the face of a plump-faced man in a robe.

“How did I get here?” I asked.

“That’s not important right now,” the monk replied. “It’s where you’re going.” He reached for a journal, which sat on the stool to his right, and set the candle in its place. He flipped several pages and held it to the flame. “Are you fond of voyages?”

I shook like nervous prey. “I really need to know how I got here.”

“You’re a troubled man in need of rest and recreation. And a healthy dose of self-reflection.”

“But—”

“I wish you’d stop asking questions. You’ve never bothered listening to those who’ve responded.”

Harmonious chants filled the silence. These men’s voices calmed me, even though a dozen questions still needed answering.

Another light appeared coming from a round window. I shuffled toward it. There I was in the dark on the other side. I lay sleeping.

 

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Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his husband, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

His tall tales explore unrequited love in the theatre district of the Afterlife, romance between a dreamer and a realist, and a dystopian city addicted to social media.

His first novel, Drama Queens with Love Scenes, spawned a secondary character named Guy. Many readers argue that Guy, the insecure gay angel, is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. His popularity surprised the author. The third in this series, Drama Queens and Devilish Schemes, scored a Rainbow Award (judged by fans of queer fiction) for Best Gay Alternative Universe/Reality novel.

So, with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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One lucky winner will receive a $10.00 NineStar Press Gift Code!

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Cover Reveal: Finding Our Morning by Mickie B. Ashling #interracial #romancebooks #coverreveal

Finding Our Morning by Mickie B. Ashling

Cover created by Anna Sikorska of Tiferet Design

RELEASE DATE: January 28th

Available to Pre-Order at Amazon

Thank you for hosting the cover reveal for my upcoming release, Finding Our Morning. This stunning cover was created for me by Anna Sikorska of Tiferet Design.

Although I’ve been traditionally published since 2009 and have managed to release thirty-seven full length novels in the last ten years, Finding Our Morning is my first straight (m/f) romance. I’ve been meaning to write this for a while, but my creative juices dried up after a few chapters, so I shelved the idea. Last January, I came across the outline for this novel and decided to revisit. This time, my flighty muse perked up like a mare in estrus. Suddenly the timing was right.

In my m/m backlist, there’s a trilogy featuring polo players, and one other book rooted in Iran during the revolution, so the setting for this current novel is at once familiar yet completely different. I’m not sure why this historical event fascinates me, and I say historical with a grain of salt. Forty-three years (my story opens in 1977) isn’t that long ago, but the ouster of any ruler is significant, and this did take place in the last century—therefore, historical. Why does this moment in time resonate? Perhaps it’s because I was alive when the shah left Iran, watched it play out on TV, and, like the rest of the world, dealt with the aftermath of his decision. Or it could be the sweet Persian boy I had a crush on long ago who first generated my interest in the region. What would have happened to me if I’d followed my heart and accepted his proposal? Maybe I just have a soft spot for mysterious dark-eyed polo players with British accents. To be honest, I think it’s all of the above.

Finding Our Morning is a multicultural, interracial romance set in Texas, New York, and Tehran. The book releases on January 28, 2020. The novel will only be available on Amazon and KU. A paperback is also planned.

Blurb

May 1977

Ginny Tate bides her time on the family stud farm in San Antonio, Texas, waiting to start veterinarian school in the fall. Bullied as an adolescent, she’s finally shed her old skin, but the emerging beauty still harbors insecurities and would rather hang out with horses than people.

Sponsored by his uncle, the Shah of Iran, Dariush—David—Akbari, a twenty-five-year-old NYU grad with a degree in International Law, is also a skilled polo player. He joins the royal traveling team for a tournament in Plano, Texas.

A decade in America has gradually altered David’s views on certain aspects of his culture. Torn between familial obligations and his adopted country, David resists the idea of returning to Iran so soon after graduation.

At the traditional after-party, David strikes up a conversation with Ginny, who is refreshingly honest. He receives an invitation to visit Tate Stud Farm and, on the pretext of buying another polo pony, persuades the shah to make a detour.

Great horsemanship coupled with self-effacing charm sets David apart from the entitled braggarts who normally populate the sport, and Ginny falls hard. His visit turns into a life-changing week that neither can foresee. Will they walk away unscathed or live to regret their impulsive behavior?

Inspired by events preceding the fall of the Pahlavi dynasty, Finding Our Morning is a love story that catapults us from Texas Hill Country to the epicenter of a monarchy on the brink of collapse.

Excerpt

Finding Our Morning
Mickie B. Ashling 2020
All Rights Reserved

San Antonio, Texas

May 1977

Chapter 1

In the back seat of the Chevy Suburban, Ginny listened with half an ear to her parents’ conversation while staring out the window. As the familiar landscape whizzed by, her stomach ached and her chin throbbed; an unpleasant reminder that nothing had changed. She was the same awkward girl she’d been a week ago, not some new-and-improved version because she’d turned eighteen yesterday, and was hell-bent on leaving her childish insecurities behind. Plagued by postpubescent acne for years, Ginny had assumed—as did her dermatologist—the hormonal imbalance would pass in due time.

And it had.

Mostly.

But she’d woken up this morning to find the nastiest zit on her chin that no amount of Clearasil could disguise. Today of all days! She had planned this trip to the Willow Bend Polo and Hunt Club in Plano, Texas, for months. It was a five-hour drive from San Antonio, where her family lived and bred horses, and her parents had agreed to accompany her and give up an entire weekend, a hard-won victory considering the couple rarely took a day off. Backing out at the last minute because her old nemesis chose this particular day to reappear was unthinkable. She’d looked forward to this trip for months. In a sense, it was her coming-out party, the first time she’d stand toe-to-toe with the clients who’d patronized their stud farm for years.

But nature was a fickle bitch and had, for whatever reason, decided to remind Ginny who was in charge. Pep talks notwithstanding, Ginny had shied away from the public eye for years. It didn’t matter that she excelled in math and science and could outride anyone in her immediate vicinity. While other girls were consumed by the latest fashion trends, Ginny was learning how to muck out a stall; feed and groom; do a visual check for cuts, scrapes, or puncture wounds; clean the horses’ hooves, look for cracks or loose shoes; maintain a tack room; apply simple first aid; repair fences; wrangle; brand; assist in live covers and subsequent births; and even play polo as well as any guy. But her peers still called her “pizza face” behind her back.

And it tormented her.

This derogatory nickname had stuck until she graduated, and even though her complexion had long since cleared up, the experience had left an indelible scar. Ginny continued to see the creature she’d been rather than the person she’d become.

That morning, her parents had dismissed her concerns when they heard her yelling at the mirror above her bathroom sink. They claimed the red spot was only a tiny blemish on an otherwise beautiful face.

Right.

They were supposed to say that. It was their job to keep her upbeat and confident. And she’d woken up in fine spirits until she peered at her reflection and spotted Mt. Vesuvius. Doing her best to get rid of the ugly white-tipped mound, Ginny squeezed until she was satisfied she’d obliterated the motherfucker.

In the car, she grabbed an ice cube from the cooler by her feet, where her mom had packed a picnic lunch, and buried it in the washcloth she’d yanked on her way downstairs. Settling in for the duration, Ginny held the cool cloth against her sore chin. Five hours was more than enough time to reduce the swelling.

This high-goal polo tournament, featuring an assortment of celebrities, had been advertised for months. Ginny looked forward to this event as much as any eighteen-year-old anticipated her first trip abroad. As the only daughter and heir to a lucrative stud farm specializing in polo ponies, the public was curious to meet her. Although they were aware of her existence, many wondered if she was some sort of halfwit because she was never around during negotiations. No one knew this was part of her plan—to make a grand entrance with her head held high as she shook hands with the different men and women who dominated the sport.

One of the most famous was Cecil Smith, now in his late seventies. He’d been a 10-goal player for twenty-six consecutive years. It was the highest ranking one could attain in the sport and Ginny was eager to meet the man. His glory days marked the zenith of American polo, and long after he’d retired in 1967, he continued to ride and train polo ponies on his ranch out in Boerne, not too far from the Tates’ San Antonio home.

There would be other celebrated players from different parts of the world. The Argentineans, current leaders of the sport, the Domecq brothers from Spain, a team of blue bloods from the UK, and the Shah of Iran with his usual over-the-top entourage. He wasn’t the best player in the world, but his presence added gravitas to any event. Ginny couldn’t wait to check out his horses and equipment.

Once upon a time, she’d dreamed about joining a women’s polo team and touring the world, but it had been unrealistic given her age and social anxiety. Now she focused on breeding the magnificent animals that might end up on a winning team. Knowing she played a part in a polo player’s success was almost as good as being a participant.

Approaching their destination, Ginny glanced in the hand mirror she always carried in her purse, and was pleased to see a more subdued landscape, one she could doctor with concealer. While applying the liquid with gentle pats, she was derailed when the Suburban lurched to a stop behind a long row of vehicles leading to the main gates of the club.

“Gosh darn it!” her father exclaimed, narrowly avoiding the truck in front of him.

“Dad!” Ginny protested when her hand slipped and makeup streaked wildly.

“Raymond!” Margery Tate seconded.

He banged the steering wheel in frustration. “Not my fault these morons can’t drive for shit.”

Ginny worked fast to try to repair the damage. At last, she was satisfied with her appearance. She put away her makeup bag and looked out the window. Impressed by the large crowd, she whistled with approval. “Is this normal, Dad?”

“Par for the course when it comes to polo tournaments with an international cast of players. People who never show up for regular games are here to ogle the celebrities.”

“Let’s hope it’s worth it,” Margery remarked. “I’d hate to come all this way to see a mediocre tournament, big shots notwithstanding.”

Ginny smirked. Her mother was a practical woman who rarely stopped for fun. She had her hands full from dawn to dusk and treasured her Sundays more than most. If this was a wasted trip, they’d hear about it during the ride home, especially since they planned to stay the night to break up the long drive. It would be midday by the time they got back to the ranch.

“It’s going to be fine,” Ray assured his wife. “Don’t work yourself into a lather for no good reason.”

Margery let out a deep sigh.

After the slow crawl up the driveway, they followed the rest of the vehicles to a large parking lot. Attendants in flashy cowboy attire, custom-made for show, directed traffic. Ginny could appreciate the magnitude of the task lying in wait for the people in charge. There were hundreds of spectators walking about and craning their necks for a chance to spot someone famous. She arranged to meet her parents once the game started, and they parted ways so she could explore. Attired in a red-and-white polka-dot wrap dress, platform wedge sandals, and a stylish straw hat to keep the sun off her face, Ginny blended into the crowd.

There were five polo fields in all. The main field in front of the clubhouse would remain empty until the tournament started, but the other four were occupied with riders practicing their swings and turns. Ginny headed for the closest one and fell in with a bunch of grooms who were tending their masters’ ponies with absolute devotion. Four ponies per player were the ideal number. There were six chukkers in a game, and by the time the rotation landed back on the first pony, he would be well rested. Injuries were part of the sport, for horses and riders alike. Getting ridden-off during the course of a match or bumped, a maneuver similar to a body check in hockey, was commonplace. Horses also got hit by rogue balls and mallets, leaving them momentarily disabled or out for the count. The number of ponies waiting their turn might appear excessive to an outsider, but a player could be severely handicapped if he didn’t have a fresh mount per chukker.

Many of the men who served as grooms were amateur polo players and felt wins and losses as keenly as their employers. Early on, Ginny learned the best way to get the full measure of a rider was by eavesdropping on the guys in charge as they kept a watchful eye on the polo field. Standing as close as possible, Ginny was within earshot of the comments that were usually peppered with mild expletives and friendly wagers. Excitement coursed through her veins as she heard the familiar sound of hooves galloping across the field. The smell of grass, horse manure, and leather combined with the whoops of excitement from the men on horseback gave her goose bumps.

She’d had a thing for polo players for as long as she could remember. There was something indefinably masculine about the men who played the game that appealed to her senses. Unlike a lot of rodeo events, polo was more than a rough sport. One had to be a keen strategist to excel. Anticipating an opponent’s next move was the only way to stop them before they got in position to score a goal. It was a chess game on horseback, and the best players were the right combination of brains and brawn. Even from a distance, she could spot the strongest players, and one in particular caught her attention. The number three was embroidered on his shirt—typically awarded to the most powerful hitter with the highest handicap.

Turning to one of the grooms, she asked, “Who’s on the field?”

“The Iranians and the Brits, miss.”

The groom, a dark-skinned man who spoke with a heavy accent, was decked out in royal blue livery; the same hue as the uniforms worn by the four members of the Iranian team. The ponies’ blankets, tail ribbons, and leg wraps were also the same shade of blue.

“Do you know number three in blue?”

“The shah’s nephew, Dariush.”

“He’s good,” Ginny remarked.

“Very good, miss. The shah is always in a better mood when his nephew can play.”

“Isn’t he a part of the regular team?”

He shook his head. “Dariush attends college in New York City. He’s on break at this time.”

“I see.”

Turning her attention back on the field, she could tell this favored nephew was an expert horseman. He and his pony were deeply connected, part of a seamless dance only a fellow rider could spot from a distance. She looked forward to watching him during the actual game.

Author Bio

Mickie B. Ashling is the pseudonym of a multi-published author who resides in a suburb outside Chicago. She is a product of her upbringing in various cultures, having lived in Japan, the Philippines, Spain, and the Middle East. Fluent in three languages, she’s a citizen of the world and an interesting mixture of East and West.

Since 2009, Mickie has written several dozen novels in the LGBTQ+ genre—which have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, and German. Lately, her muse has been nudging her in a different direction, and she’s learned through past experience to pay attention to creative sparks that show up unexpectedly. Her pen name is a part of her now, and will travel along on this exciting new journey, wherever it might lead. She promises to be very specific in her book blurbs and cover art to avoid any confusion.

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Book Blitz: Ablaze by Elvira Bell #historicalromance #pirates #GayRomance #LGBT

Title: Ablaze

Series: Wavesongs #3

Author: Elvira Bell

Publisher: Elvira Bell

Release Date: December 8, 2019

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: approx. 94K words

Genre: Romance, Historical, Pirates

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Synopsis

The final book in the Wavesongs series!

Nick Andrews has returned to the Caribbean—but the world he remembers has changed for the worse. Despite the dangers, he needs to find a way to get to Corona. All he can think of is to reunite there with the love of his life.

Meanwhile, Tom is watching his every move. Tom, who has turned cold and demanding, and is desperate for Nick to love him.

One night things get out of hand, and something happens between them. Something unforgivable.

Content note: This book contains non-gratuitous depictions of torture, slavery, and sexual abuse.

Please note that the books in the Wavesongs series should be read in chronological order!

Excerpt

Tom is sullen and quiet as he gets ready for bed. His chamber is at the corner of the house, three times as spacious as Nick’s room next door, and far away from O’Connell, whose quarters are next to the kitchen and dining hall. There’s fresh water by the washstand, clean bed linens, and a mirror on the wall—but Tom complains about the mosquitoes, the humidity, and the house’s size.

“Just one floor, like a house for poor people… and nothing is beautiful here, nothing! How am I supposed to live like this?” He lies down in bed, curling up before giving Nick a hard look. “But you think it’s all fine, don’t you?”

“No.” From what he’s seen so far, Harrow Hall is not a good place. That whip in Buckley’s hand… “Why would I think that?”

Tom turns over. “Oh, I don’t know. I’m tired. Please, leave me alone now.”

Nick goes into his own chamber. His body is sore, exhausted, but once he’s in bed he finds it hard to sleep. From the other part of the house comes the sound of voices, laughter. O’Connell and his men sampling their own rum, probably.

There is nothing to like about this place, but Nick won’t stay long. He’ll take the first opportunity to leave.

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Meet the Author

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m fiction with a touch of romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

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