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

Title: A Scheme of Sorcery

Author: Ennis Rook Bashe

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/16/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 74800

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

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Description

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The scrawniest one had the upper hand.

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

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

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

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

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

Title: Concussion and Contentment

Series: Vivian Chastain, Book Three

Author: Liz Faraim

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/02/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 87500

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

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Description

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

Concussion and Contentment
Liz Faraim © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Spring 2006, Sacramento, CA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Good to see you, Tig. The usual?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

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

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

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Release Blitz: Love, Blood, and Sanctuary #LGBTQ #paranormalromance @megan_hart @fionazedde @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: Love, Blood, and Sanctuary

Author: Brenda Murphy, Megan Hart, Fiona Zedde

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/07/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 95800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, romance, paranormal, BDSM, lesbian, demon, blood magic, D/s relationship, sex club, spirit, witch, hemomancer, Rosh Hashanah, established couple, reunited, demi-goddess

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Description

Haunted? Hunted? When you need a safe place from disaster, heartbreak, or gods trying to break you and drain your blood… come to Sanctuary. It’s New York’s most exclusive club for magical beings and the backdrop of three sexy stories from three award winning authors.

We Choose to Be by Megan Hart
Love is in the air…and the blood. When hemomancer Hadassah meets the woman of her dreams, she has no idea that Yael is actually a blood demon. Is it only the draw of Hadassah’s talents that brings Yael into her bed? Or is there something more. Something that could last. What is love, after all, unless it’s bound by blood?

Sanguine Faith by Brenda Murphy
After a messy break-up leaves Laurel homeless and unemployed, she accepts her great-uncle’s offer of a townhouse and a job. When a seductive spirit trapped in the town house offers Laurel a means of escaping the life her uncle has planned for her, she learns that free does not mean without cost.

Promises Made by Starlight by Fiona Zedde
Abandoned by her wife years before and left devastated, Izzy has recently lost nearly everything else. Her credit is abysmal, she’s underemployed, and her successful best friend treats her like a charity case. But when her wife reappears, breaking her heart all over again, Izzy finds that not everything is as it seems. Blood gods walk the earth, and the one she once welcomed into her bed is back—ready to reclaim what’s hers.

Excerpt

Love, Blood, and Sanctuary
Brenda Murphy, Megan Hart, Fiona Zedde © 2021
All Rights Reserved

From Sanguine Faith

The rap on the car window rattled the glass. Laurel started and slammed her knee into the steering wheel. She cursed softly as she jabbed the window control button. The demon was dressed as a policeman. He wore dark glasses and his beefy hands rested on his thick duty belt nestled between the pepper spray canister and his pistol holster. A slight glow from a pouch near his hip was the only clue to his true identity. Huffing out her frustration at the window’s lack of response, Laurel shoved open the car door.

“You okay?” The officer leaned closer and peered into her face. His feet were squarely inside the circle of salt Laurel had spread around the car the night before.

“Yeah.” Laurel cleared her throat. “I’m okay.”

“You can’t sleep here.” He gestured to the street lined with ancient brownstone townhouses and graffiti covered buildings. “It’s not safe.”

“I’m sorry—” Laurel wiped her hand over her face and squinted at the officer’s name badge. “—Officer Sullivan, is it? I worked a late shift and didn’t feel safe driving anymore. I pulled over here to catch a nap.”

“Stow it. I passed this way last evening, and you were parked here. Your car hasn’t moved.” He leaned closer and removed his sunglasses and slipped them into his shirt pocket. “I know your uncle.”

“Great-uncle.” Laurel stared at his face and inhaled sharply. His eyes were light gray rimmed with red, her image mirrored in their shallow depths. His practiced glare was that of an experienced centurion. Laurel shivered under Sullivan’s gaze, unable to look away from the magical enforcer. He was bound to her clan, sworn to serve and protect. Loyal to a fault, willing to die for the family. Her great-uncle had a legion of centurions, all more than willing to aid and abet his less than legal business dealings.

“Is that so? Why are you here? What do you want?” Laurel pressed her lips together and rolled the hem of her shirt between her fingers.

Officer Sullivan leaned down and spoke softly. “You’re royalty in our world, Laurel. He know you’re sleeping in your car?” His melodious tones seeped into her body as he used the old language, the language of secrets, curses, spells, and death.

Laurel suppressed her shudder. “My roommate kicked me out.” She scrubbed her hand over her face in an attempt to hide the lie. “It was sudden.”

The centurion straightened and pursed his lips. He drummed the fingers of his hand on his holster. “All right, Laurel, if that’s how you want to play it. You need to discuss this with your great-uncle. If you don’t, I will. I don’t want to find you sleeping in your car again.” He tilted his head. “You may not have inherited your family’s abilities but you’re still family. We take care of our own. I can’t spend my nights watching you sleep, keeping watch for the Orions.”

Laurel gripped her keys tightly. Orions. The hunters. So many missing. So many gone in the blink of an eye, their bloodless and mutilated bodies found months or years later. Or worse found still smoldering, their mouths open in voiceless screams. She had taken a chance last night, but after walking in on her girlfriend eyebrows deep between their neighbor’s legs she had stuffed her car full of what it would hold and fled.

“I’ll be safe.” She lifted her shoulders and let them fall, straightening her posture before she settled her hands at nine and three on the steering wheel. “I’ll talk to him today.”

Officer Sullivan stepped back, smearing the salt of the circle she had spread around the car. He pointed at it, lifted his chin, and smirked. “Seriously? It doesn’t work unless you infuse it with energy.”

Laurel inserted the keys into the ignition. “I know.” She looked away from her feeble attempt to protect herself and his smirk. After snapping her seatbelt in place, she waved at him and closed the door. She banged her hand hard on the steering wheel when the telltale click-click-click of a dead battery echoed in the car. “Fuck me.”

Officer Sullivan opened her door. “Come on. I’ll give you a lift.”

Laurel chewed her lip as she looked down at her paint-stained black T-shirt and tatty jeans. “I can’t go like this.”

Officer Sullivan rapped on the top of the car. “Get out. Now. I don’t have all day to deal with you, Laurel. And it’s not worth my life to leave you here with a broken-down car.” He stepped back and crossed his thick arms. “Do I need to assist you in exiting the car?”

Laurel shivered. She had experienced a centurion’s assistance just once and the memory of it still woke her at night. She trembled and wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans. “Let me grab my backpack.”

“Good choice.”

Laurel gathered the few things she didn’t want to leave in the car. After jamming her sketchbook next to her ancient laptop in her bag, she zipped the top closed and grabbed her hooded sweatshirt from the backseat before she exited the car.

“You hungry?”

“I’d really like coffee. I can’t talk to Great-uncle Marcus without some caffeine on board.”

“Come on, I’ll buy you breakfast.”

“Why’d you let me sleep there last night if you were just going to take me to my uncle today?”

“I didn’t want to wake you.”

Laurel glanced at Officer Sullivan walking beside her. “Thank you.”

“No problem. To serve and protect. Even if it’s from yourself.” He held the car door open, and she slid onto the cool leather seat. She settled her backpack between her feet and pulled on her black hooded sweatshirt. The car shifted to the side as Officer Sullivan entered and levered his bulk behind the wheel.

He waited until she had fastened her seatbelt before he started the car. Laurel’s gaze slid over the array of weapons lining the car. Magical weapons clipped into racks side by side with conventional firearms, their soft glow visible to Laurel.

Able to see magic, unable to wield her own power, the last female of a clan stretching back eons, unwilling to assume her role as clan leader and unwilling to produce an heir, Laurel chewed her lip as the car shot forward bringing her closer to her great-uncle’s house.

Laurel shifted in her seat and drummed her fingers on her knees. “You worked for my mom and dad, didn’t you?”

“I did.”

Laurel stared out of the window. A familiar ache settled in her chest. There were some things even magic couldn’t protect you from. The ratty buildings gave way to well-kept streets and high-rise buildings. The sidewalks were crowded with people scurrying to work and school.

“Do you think the humans ever get it? Like, do they know about us? Really get it? Other than the ones we make consorts?”

“Humans see what they want to see. If they ever understood how powerful supernaturals are, they would freak right the fuck out. And try to exterminate us. Again. All of us. Their unwillingness to see and believe is what keeps us safe.” He tapped the pistol on his belt. “And this.”

Laurel shuddered as the car slowed and stopped.

Officer Sullivan turned off the engine and preened in the rearview mirror a moment before he turned his head to face Laurel. “How do you take your coffee?”

“Black. Unless it’s that dark roast crap. Then make it white as a virgin’s wedding dress.”

Officer Sullivan’s loud guffaw exploded in the quiet of the car. “You got it.” He left the car.

Laurel glanced at the tarnished Saint Christopher medal stuck to the car’s headliner and rolled her eyes. A group of humans rushed past, small children and their adults, animated and laughing, their voices muffled by the car window. The gentle ache in her heart blossomed into full-blown longing. Laurel blinked the grit of exhaustion from her eyes, leaned back against the headrest, and rehearsed the story she would spin for her great-uncle, hoping he would listen, knowing he would not.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Authors

Brenda Murphy

Brenda Murphy (she/her) writes erotic romance. Her most recent novel, Double Six, is the 2020 Golden Crown Literary Society winner for Erotic Novels, and Knotted Legacy, the third book in the Rowan House series, made the 2018 The Lesbian Review’s Top 100 Vacation Reads list. You can catch her musings on writing, books, and living with wicked ADHD on her blog Writing While Distracted. She loves sideshows and tattoos and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not loitering at her local library, she wrangles twins, one dog, and an unrepentant parrot

I hope you enjoy reading this book as much as I enjoyed writing it. For a free short story, information on book signings, appearances, work in progress snippets, previews and sneak-peeks, sign up for my email list at: http://www.brendalmurphy.com/

https://www.facebook.com/brenda.murphy.75
https://www.instagram.com/quinbysideshow

Megan Hart

Megan Hart writes books. Some of them use bad words, but most of the other words are okay. Some of them hit bestseller lists and win awards and some don’t, but that’s the way it goes. She can’t live without music, the internet, or the ocean, but she and soda have achieved an amicable uncoupling. She loathes the feeling of corduroy or velvet, and modern art leaves her cold. She writes a little bit of everything from horror to romance, though she’s best known for writing steamy fiction that sometimes makes you cry.

Website: www.MeganHart.com
https://www.facebook.com/readinbed
https://twitter.com/megan_hart

Fiona Zedde

Fiona Zedde was born under the Jamaican sun but now makes her home in Spain. Since getting the writing bug, she’s published around thirty books and short stories, mostly about black queer romance, including the Lambda Literary Award finalists, Bliss and Every Dark Desire. Her novel Dangerous Pleasures received a Publishers Weekly starred review and was winner of an About.com Readers’ Choice Award for Best Lesbian Novel or Memoir.

At this very second, she’s probably writing another book, and it has 100 percent chance of having queer romance and queer women in it. Her pseudo-healthy obsessions are French pastries, English cars, and Jamaican food.

Website: www.fionazedde.com
http://www.facebook.com/fiona.zedde
http://www.twitter.com/fionazedde

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Release Blitz: Fair Youth by M. Dalto and Laynie Bynum #LGBTQ #contemporaryromance @Laynie_bee @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Fair Youth

Author: M. Dalto and Laynie Bynum

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/07/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 76700

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, lesbian, trans, writer, Hollywood, wealthy, retelling

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Description

Billie tried to make a small town life as a doctor’s fiancée work for her, but the dream of trading in Kentucky for the glitz and glamor of LA and selling her screenplays was too strong to fight. Unfortunately, the devil hides behind every corner in the City of Angels and she finds nothing but cockroach infested hotel rooms and broken dreams.

Everything changes when she meets an enigmatic and illustrious fellow writer named Kit. Struck with attraction and intrigue, Billie begins to question not only her dedication to her past life, but also her own sexuality. Kit comes with amazing connections and Billie’s work is getting more recognition than ever, until a powerful studio executive sets his sights on more than just her screenplays. His infatuation could cost Billie her career and, maybe, one of them their lives.

Excerpt

Andy’s shaggy brown hair was still unbrushed and fell into his eyes as he loaded my suitcases in the trunk of his hatchback. “I just don’t understand why you can’t do your writing thing here. People work remotely all the time.”

He slammed the top down with more force than necessary and slid into the driver’s seat, leaning across the center console to close the visor mirror in front of me where I was trying to fix my makeup. It was a constant point of contention between the two of us, but despite the early flight, I didn’t want to arrive in Los Angeles looking like a zombie. Slightly annoyed and overly defiant, I reached in my purse and pulled out a little compact mirror.

“We’ve talked about this, Andy. I need to be where the people are. I need to make connections.” I tried to make my voice as nonconfrontational as possible, but the moment it left my lips, I knew he would take it as condescension.

He started the car and pulled out onto the main road where corn fields flanked us on either side. Tapping his fingers on the steering wheel to an imaginary beat to keep himself calm, he spoke evenly. “Billie, the wedding was supposed to be in a month. What am I supposed to tell everyone?”

I pinched the bridge of my nose and stifled a sigh. “The wedding isn’t off. It’s just delayed until I get back.”

This was the same conversation we had daily for the past month, going over and over the same answers he was fishing for now.

No, it’s not you.

Yes, I will come home.

It’s only for work.

Doing a crappy thing to someone you love was hard, especially when you were well aware how crappy the thing is. Having to postpone the wedding sucked, but staying in that small town, getting married and being tied down to a life of domestic bliss—always wondering about the what-ifs—I couldn’t do it until I at least tried to make my own dreams come true.

Marriage was a fine idea back when we were seventeen and thought forever meant anything past graduation.

It was a great idea when we were eighteen and all of our friends were breaking up with their own high school sweethearts while we were still going strong.

It was the perfect idea last year when, due to a pregnancy scare, we finally decided it was time.

My gut reaction was initially overwhelming happiness at the thought of starting a family, but with each florist appointment, each cake tasting, each dress alteration—I started wondering if I was ready. You didn’t see many struggling screenwriters with babies on their hips, much less ones without any formal education.

I finished my mascara and closed the compact mirror. “I have to do this, Andy.”

“At the cost of leaving behind everyone who loves you, apparently.” His voice was barely a whisper under his breath, but it was still clear over the hum of the car engine and the wind coming through his open window.

Even though he was right, the words cut to the bone. I couldn’t stay any longer. I couldn’t deal with the small-minded people of Avon, Kentucky or their even smaller dreams for one more moment. There were words inside me, and they were clawing to get out into the world. The universes in my mind begged to be put to paper and then to screen. I wanted to be where the action was. The city of angels was going to change my life, or at least that’s what I told myself as he walked me into the airport.

“This is as far as I can go, Bill,” he said as he set my bags down right outside of the first security checkpoint.

I looked up at him, all six-foot-four of him, with an apology in my eyes I could only pray he understood. Pride stopped me from saying all of the things I should have.

I love you.

I’ll miss you.

Please don’t grow to hate me while I’m gone.

Instead, I cracked a smile before wrapping him in a tight embrace. “I’ll call as soon as I land,” I promised into the fabric of his plaid shirt.

He smoothed my wavy hair with one hand while the other pulled me closer into him. “I’ll miss you every moment.”

I broke away. If I stayed, I knew I’d cry, and I was not the kind of person to cry in an airport.

As I grabbed my bags and headed through security, I turned around to look at him one last time. He stood still amongst the crowd of bustling, busy people moving around him, his eyes locked on me.

I blew him a kiss, and through the roar of the background noise, he yelled, “Break a leg, Wilhelmina Shakespeare.”

After hours on the stuffy, cramped flight, the sprawling, massive LAX airport felt like a city unto itself. Shops and restaurants peppered the walls, and it took nearly an hour just to walk out of the exit.

Before I left home, Andy told me to use Uber until I learned how to get around because traffic was hell. I pulled up the app, still unsure how it all worked, and requested a car.

Which I probably should have done earlier, since the wait for the car to arrive left me sitting outside of the airport on top of my drug-store-quality suitcase and staring at the people passing in and out. Bright neon lights started to come on, thanks to the four-hour delay we experienced at my layover in Chicago. Palm trees swayed back and forth among the divided pavement in front of me.

I expected Los Angeles to smell like sea breeze and big dreams, but in reality, it was mostly gas fumes and vapor clouds from a nearby smoking area under the concrete awning.

A red Subaru pulled up in front of me, and the driver rolled down the window. She looked at the phone in her hand and then looked at me. “You don’t look like a Billie.”

I stood up and grabbed my bags. “Well, it’s Wilhelmina on my birth certificate, but most people try to call me Willa when I tell them that.”

She motioned to the back door, and I opened it, sliding in with my bags beside me.

“Strange. Would have thought they would try to call you Willy,” she said as she looked at me in the rearview mirror.

I screwed up my face. “Maybe Willa isn’t that bad after all.”

“So, we’re heading to Pepper Place Hotel?” She turned around in the seat, her eyes looking me up and down, judging me with every cell in her body. “You sure?”

“What’s wrong with Pepper Place? It looked pretty nice online.”

“Oh, sweetie,” she said as she turned around and put the car into drive. “Welcome to Los Angeles. Where the pictures are fake and the people are plastic.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

M. and Laynie have written both separately and together, and have hit Amazon bestseller rank both ways. M.’s work includes The Empire Series (Two Thousand Years, Mark of the Empress, and the accompanying novellas) published by Parliament House Press, and Cut to the Bone, set to be published by Filles Vertes Publishing in 2021. Laynie’s debut novel, Adeline’s Aria, was published in January with Fire and Ice YA. Together they have published Faust University, included in the Academy of Magic box set by Enchanted Quill Press and Escaping the Grey in the Prison of Supernatural Magic box set. When writing together they combine their strengths to create unique queer characters with sass and backbone in both the contemporary romance and romantic fantasy genres.

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Release Blitz: Pyotra and the Wolf by Elna Holst #ParanormalRomance #LGBTQ @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: Pyotra and the Wolf

Author: Elna Holst

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/15/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 72700

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, Paranormal, Russia, Arctic, oligarchy, shifters, FF romance, supernatural fiction, dark contemporary fantasy, Nenets, wolves, taiga, tundra, adventure, quest, fairy tale retelling, polar night, Northern Lights, cats, budgerigars

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Description

For the space of a breath or two, that wolf had entranced her, mesmerised her, made her believe—the impossible. And that was all it took.

Nothing about this wolf was as it should be.

Pyotra Nikolayevna Kulakova lives in a small Russian settlement in the northern Siberian taiga, where the polar night lasts for a good month out of the year and the temperature rarely reaches above freezing point. Pyotra’s days, too, seem congealed and unchanging, laden with grief, until her baby brother’s close encounter with a tundra wolf upends the lives of the three members of the Kulakov family in one fell swoop.

Pyotra and the Wolf is a queer retelling of Sergei Prokofiev’s symphonic fairy tale, structurally influenced by matryoshka dolls and memory castles. This is a story of darkness and light, love and loss, beast and human. Whichever way the spinning kopek falls.

Excerpt

Pyotra and the Wolf
Elna Holst © 2020
All Rights Reserved

On the day that was to change the lives of the three remaining members of the Kulakov family forever, it was night. Pyotra Nikolayevna Kulakova lived with her grandfather and younger brother outside a minuscule Russian settlement in the northern Siberian snow forest, where the polar night lasts for a good month out of the year. According to the unsmiling face of the clock on the wall on Boris Ilyich’s izba, however, it was in the early hours of the morning that Pyotra pushed her weight against the door, caught between the dread of the freezing cold without and staying trapped inside, unable to procure sustenance for the two men under her care.

Her brother, it might be argued, was too young to be called a man, and her dedushka was worn and grey, an old curmudgeon who had lost his eyesight, if not his wits. Pyotra loved them dearly, desperately, with the parentless child’s determination to cling to what has been left her. Boris, in turn, doted upon his grandchildren: Pyotra, the twenty-two-year-old, and Sergei, nearly twelve. Not that he ever told them as much. It was not his way.

Pyotra sighed as the door refused to budge. A metre of snow had fallen while they slept. “Come help me, duckling, if you want to see the sun again.”

Sergei made a noise through his nose. He sat by the fireplace, fiddling with his tackle, oiling his rod, making sure the lines were not tangled. It was a new favourite pastime of his. Lately, he had taken it into his head that he was to be the future provider of the family. Pyotra assumed it was a notion he had picked up at the village school. Their father had never been much of a provider; he had made sure he had his vodka, and that was that. Sergei was too young to remember.

“There won’t be any sun for another week or so,” he replied, holding his rod up for inspection. “And stop calling me ‘duck.’”

Pyotra hid a smile. She was by no means ready to let go of her private memory of Sergei taking his first waddling steps towards her, as their mother, Serafima, gasped, “Look, look who’s walking. My little duck!”

It was all that Serafima Anatoliyevna had left her offspring; that and her grey-blue eyes, her peculiar-coloured curls, and her steely resolve to survive, to thrive, even in the most austere and unforgiving corner of the world.

Except, she hadn’t. She had walked out into the Arctic night, only to be brought back by a search party a few days later. Parts of her, at least. Bones, hair, ravaged flesh, the gold wedding band by which she had been identified. Attacked by a pack of wolves was the universal verdict. Their father could not cope, it was likewise said; he drowned his sorrows in liquid comfort and went down with it.

And then they were three.

Pyotra Nikolayevna had never been able to forgive her parents for dying. But she could not give up on their little duck, bright-eyed and pink-faced, holding his chubby arms out to her as if she was the centre and epitome of existence.

His arms were not that chubby any more, but still.

At the table, Boris moved uneasily, his unseeing eyes directed towards the unflinching darkness of their one grimy window to the outside world.

“Let it be, Pyotrushka,” he burred, winding his fingers through his beard. “There’s an ill wind blowing. It smells like…wolf.”

Pyotra clicked her tongue. Shaking her head at her grandfather would be a waste of energy better employed in breaking out of the snowed-in log cabin. “For pity’s sake, Ded. This isn’t the nineteenth century, nor even the twentieth. The weather holds no omens to be deciphered. If you smell something off, it’s probably Sergei.”

“Ey!” Her brother looked up at her for the first time, adorably affronted.

Pyotra winked at him and turned to give the door another mighty shove. It cracked open a centimetre or two, a small avalanche of fresh snow tumbling in through the opening.

“Bring me the spade and the bucket, duck,” she called over her shoulder to Sergei, her tone of voice forestalling opposition.

As she started shovelling, clearing a passage out at less than a snail’s pace across a rugged cliff, Pyotra Kulakova sighed anew. This was going to be one long day, irrespective of the lack of sunlight.

*

It was past noon before Pyotra and Sergei—who eventually grew bored with his own resistance—had managed to come as far as to the communal road leading down to the village, which had been cleared by the local snow removal team. Pyotra took one look at Sergei’s blanched face and sent him back to fill up the samovar for Boris, while she proceeded down to the one shop within an eighty-kilometre radius.

“I will be back in a couple of hours,” she told him, pinching some warmth into his cheeks. “Don’t do anything stupid, please.”

“I’m not the stupid one.” Sergei stuck out his tongue and batted her hands away. “That hurts!”

“Not as much as frostbite, let me tell you. Or better yet, let Dedushka tell you. That’ll keep you both occupied.”

With a rude sign—another new trick they had that eminent educational institution to thank for—Sergei ran back to the alluring warmth of the hearth. Watching him go, Pyotra felt a sting of loneliness. Of loneliness, but also of the constant worry that came over her whenever she had to leave him, leave them both. Since her father’s earthly remains had been lowered into the ground to join her mother’s, two years after their first, gut-wrenching loss, Pyotra Nikolayevna had lived with a droning terror at the back of her mind, which she hadn’t any better name for than Things Could Happen. The namelessness of it only served to magnify her dread.

Shaking herself, Pyotra straightened her headband torch, hiked her empty rucksack higher onto her shoulders, and set off.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Often quirky, always queer, Elna Holst is an unapologetic genre-bender who writes anything from stories of sapphic lust and love to the odd existentialist horror piece, reads Tolstoy, and plays contract bridge. Find her on Instagram or Goodreads.

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Release Blitz: Becoming Human by Holly Gray #LGBTQ #UrbanFantasy @HollyGrayAuthor

Title:  Becoming Human

Author: Holly Gray

Publisher:NineStar Press

Release Date: September 21, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 73800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA, romance, paranormal, action, urban fantasy, lesbian, animals, bodyguard, interracial, magic, mythical creatures, pets, road trip, slow burn, shifter/animals

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Summary

Jack Whitaker lives a grayscale life. But a violent, yellow-eyed woman; a tea-drinking animal in human form; and a woman in brown with devastating powers of healing have Jack rethinking the boundaries of reality.

Marin, the woman in brown, is supposed to be the most important leader Jack will ever meet. She’s certainly the kindest, so Jack accepts the task of protecting her for a month from a violent duo with a supernatural ability to track their prey.

Jack and Marin travel the country, healing humans and animals, meeting everyday heroes and villains and everyone in-between. Jack isn’t sure if the world is ready for a woman like Marin, let alone whether she is.

Excerpt

Becoming Human

Holly Gray © 2020

All Rights Reserved

“Do you believe in magic?”

Jack didn’t believe in a lot of things: politics, soul mates, religion. Stage magic, all of it. She sure as hell didn’t believe in anything supernatural.

Work, traffic, humidity—those she believed in. Not that she didn’t employ a little whimsy in her life. She liked reading novels, especially a rousing space opera or an angsty, dystopian handwringer. Any piece of fiction penned by Noelle Stevenson, illustrated or digital, enjoyed a prominent place in her leisure time. She loved science fiction movies as social and creative commentary. And the wicked special effects.

Fellow Floridian Carl Hiaasen she found funny and topical. Had she any close friends, she could have discussed some of his biting social commentary.

But believe in any of these fictions, magical or not? Of course not. Jack Whitaker was a rational person. The walls in her tiny apartment, bare of anything but two Firefly posters and a magazine clipping of a black-and-white picture of blues singer and lesbian icon, Gladys Bentley, echoed only her voice, both literally and symbolically. Work as a security guard satisfied without stimulating. On the occasions she felt a tingle for socializing or, heaven forbid, physical touch, she booted up her laptop and binge-watched the latest postapocalyptic series.

Once, she had believed in big ideas like spirituality and a wife and kids. She’d since grown up.

Most of this changed in mid-July on her way home from work at the aquarium in Timuca, a small city in Northern Florida. The day started off as tidily as usual, although traffic seemed a bit less hectic and the day much sultrier than usual.

“Do you believe in magic?”

By the end of the day, when someone with feral memories posed the question to her, she answered differently than she would have just twelve hours prior.

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Meet the Author

Holly began writing novel-length romances in junior high. She continued scribbling wild tales on her college-ruled notepads till those pesky college and career things got in the way. Finally, after earning her PhD in sociology, Holly gave herself permission to get a life. She has since published four novels, one short story, and several poems. Now a boring academic and a not-entirely-boring political activist, she spends just about all her waking hours doing one or more of the following: teaching, writing, volunteering, protesting, and tending to the whims of her fur masters.

Holly lives in South Dakota with her wife and numerous fur kids.

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Release Blitz: Lighting the Lamp by K.R. Collins#LGBTQ #ContemporaryRomance

Title: Lighting the Lamp

Series: Sophie Fournier, Book Three

Author: K.R. Collins

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 25, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 100100

Genre: Contemporary Sports, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, sports, romance, lesbian, bisexual, demisexual, ice hockey, coach, teammates, slow burn

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Synopsis

Entering her third season, Sophie Fournier has almost everything she wants. She’s the captain of the Concord Condors, she’s roommates and linemates with Elsa Nyberg, the elite Swedish winger she’s wanted to play alongside since the Zurich U-Tourney.

There are two major things she’s missing, though. She doesn’t have her next contract lined up, and she still hasn’t won the Maple Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize. If she wins the Cup, she’ll have leverage going into her contract negotiations. And, in case she needed more motivation, this is Benoit Delacroix’s final season as a Concord Condor, and she’s determined he won’t retire without lifting the Cup.

Excerpt

Lighting the Lamp
K.R. Collins © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The 2013 draft in Orlando, Florida marks the third one Sophie’s attended. She made history in 2011 when she was the first woman drafted into the North American Hockey League. Last year, she was given the honor of selecting Elsa Nyberg for her team, the Concord Condors.

This year, Sophie’s responsibilities are fewer, but she’s still here representing the League. Unlike other players, who watch the draft from their couches or receive alerts while on the beach or touring wine country, Sophie is here in a crisp black pantsuit, a red pocket square her only flash of color.

She’s here so the Commissioner can lay a heavy hand on her shoulder and lean in for pictures to prove how progressive his league is, as if one woman among hundreds of men is progress. Well, it is progress, but it isn’t nearly enough.

There will be more women drafted today and tomorrow, and Sophie’s confident at least one of them will play against her this season. She refuses to hope Elsa will keep her promise and make the jump from the Swedish Hockey League to the NAHL this year, but she has high expectations for Alexis Engelking.

The American is slated to be drafted high. Lenny Dernier, infamous for his rants on The National Sports Network, is already wringing his hands over her upcoming inclusion among hockey’s best. Once, forgetting she was mic’d up, Engelking dropped an f-bomb on live television. Dernier accused her of being “a terrible role model for our Canadian children” as if every Canadian who has played the game is an angel.

Indianapolis files on stage to make the first selection of the draft, a long procession of middle to upper-aged white men in suits. The TVs behind the stage show Engelking sit up straighter in her seat as if she’s anticipating her name being called. Her hair is chopped short, jagged angles as sharp as her cheekbones.

A different camera shows Chad Kensington, another American, slumped in his seat. His blond hair is parted to the side and slicked to stay there. His mother elbows him, and he makes a half-hearted attempt to sit up straight.

“Thank you, Orlando, for hosting us today,” Indy’s owner says. The crowd, predictably, cheers. When he thanks the Commissioner, the crowd boos, also predictable. Sophie doesn’t remember the Commissioner facing constant heckling when she was younger, but he’d made himself no friends when the League ground to halt during the 2010-2011 season.

Indy’s owner steps aside so his grandson, a cute kid with chubby cheeks and a Renegades ball cap on his head, can step up to the mic. They have to lower it for him, and the boy checks the cards in his hands before he looks over his shoulder. His grandfather smiles encouragingly. “Um, first overall, the Indianapolis Renegades select Chad Kensington.”

Kensington stands up and shoots the nearest camera a pair of finger guns. His smile is as greasy as his hair. Sophie’s seen enough tape to know he’s talented, but he struts up to the stage as if he thinks the League should be grateful to have him. His suit is too big in the shoulders and too long in the leg as if he expects to grow into it. He’s dwarfed by the men on stage; the only ones he’s taller than are the owner’s two grandkids. He taps the brim of the grandson’s hat. The owner’s granddaughter hides behind the man who Sophie assumes is her father.

Sophie discreetly checks her phone as she waits for all the hoopla to finish. Being at the draft always brings back memories of her own. She wasn’t sure she’d be invited until a few months before and, even once she was there, it wasn’t a guarantee a team would select her. In case being the first woman to try to play in the NAHL wasn’t enough of a barrier, the Commissioner required teams to apply to be co-ed.

The Concord Condors were the only team able to draft her, and she sat in the stands as they made selection after selection, never calling her name. It took two hundred and twenty-four names until hers was called. Instead of being drafted first, or even first round, she was dead last.

She shakes the memory aside as Seattle comes on stage. Sophie quits feeling sorry for herself. Barrett Corderman is the one who deserves her pity as Seattle drafts him. She’s making a name for herself in Concord, pulling her franchise from the depths of the League and turning them into a real contender. Seattle, on the other hand, is where players have their love of hockey sucked out of them.

Indianapolis makes another appearance for the fourth pick, gained in a trade last season. This time, the owner ushers his granddaughter on stage, and Sophie has a good idea of where this is headed. When the girl calls out Alexis Engelking’s name, Sophie allows herself a smile. Engelking marks the fourth woman drafted into the League, and the highest selected of them all. There’s a tightness around Engelking’s eyes as she accepts her jersey as if she felt she deserved to go higher.

Welcome to the club.

*

Concord drafts a defenseman with the first of their first-round picks. With their second, they select Tanner Bechtol. He’s small like Kensington, and his hair falls into his eyes, only for him to shake it back out of his face. He looks overwhelmed by everyone on the stage, and it takes two tries for him to pull his jersey over his head.

It isn’t exactly a promising start, and she expects a lot out of him. This is one of the picks which came from trading their captain, Matty, at the deadline last year. Bechtol stumbles off the stage. He would’ve tripped and face-planted in front of the cameras if Mr. Wilcox didn’t steady him. Sophie keeps her expression tranquil in case anyone is watching her, but inside, she scowls. This is who they gave Matty up for?

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Meet the Author

K.R. Collins went to college in Pennsylvania where she learned to write and fell in love with hockey. When she isn’t working or writing, she watches hockey games and claims it’s for research. You can find K.R. on Twitter.

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Release Blitz: No Parking by Valentine Wheeler #LGBTfiction #interracial

Title: No Parking

Author: Valentine Wheeler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 10, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 63300

Genre: Contemporary, LGBT, bisexual, asexual, bakery, restaurant, chef, small-town politics, older MCs, interracial, family drama

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Synopsis

When Marianne Windmere’s bakery customers begin complaining that her parking lot is always full, she assumes it must be customers for the new restaurant next door. She’s never met her neighbor, and with the parking lot situation, she has no interest in doing so. But when a snowstorm knocks out the power and traps both women in the building overnight, sparks fly—until the next morning, when the buried argument comes to a head.

Can they find a way to reclaim the magic of that night? And as decades-old secrets about the history of the town and Marianne’s family come to light, can they work together to save both their businesses?

Excerpt

No Parking
Valentine Wheeler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The travel mug banged against the counter. Marianne jumped. “Jesus, Kevin! I didn’t hear you come in.”

“It’s full again.” Kevin crossed his arms and glared. “The parking lot back there.” He made a show of glancing around the nearly empty bakery, eyes pausing on Zeke in the corner, mug in his hands and laptop open as usual, big red headphones covering his ears. He crossed his arms. “Why do you pay that kid if all he does is ignore you? And the customers?”

“You’re in a mood this morning.” Marianne pushed herself off the stool and grabbed his aluminum coffee mug. Her ex-husband was still an attractive man fifteen years after their divorce, and she couldn’t work up the energy to be annoyed at him for it anymore. “If you want to go next door and complain about the cars, go ahead.” She filled his mug with hazelnut coffee, added an espresso shot, capped it, and handed it back. “It’s not like our customers are beating down the doors for spots right now.”

“I did go next door,” Kevin grumbled, taking the cup. “It wasn’t productive.” Now it was him avoiding her gaze.

The parking lot issue wasn’t a new one—it had been a problem for a few months—and on a busy day Marianne would be filled with a low-level simmering rage as customer after customer complained about it. Still, she wasn’t going to tell Kevin that. Their relationship had improved in the years since their divorce but not quite that much.

“Not productive?” she pressed.

He sipped his coffee to cover the slight flush in his pale cheeks and didn’t answer.

“She threw you out, didn’t she?” Marianne’s estimation of her neighbor and nemesis rose a notch. “You tried to yell at her, and she didn’t take it.”

“I was very polite!”

“Hm.” Marianne put her hands on her hips and considered the man she’d spent nearly twenty-five years married to. He could be charming when he wanted to be—the whole silver fox, sparkling blue eyes and white teeth politician thing—though he never tried it with her anymore. Many women had found him suave and attractive during their marriage and probably still did. But when he wanted something from someone with no interest in what he was peddling? Politeness wasn’t his style. Generally, once charm had failed, he whined worse than any of their three kids had as toddlers. She’d learned that plenty during their marriage, and again during the divorce. “I’m sure you were.”

“I can talk to Bruce and Andrea,” said Kevin. “Just because I’m retired—”

“No need to get the city council involved, Kevin. I’ll handle my own property, thanks.” She glanced at the clock on the wall, its tarnished brass pendulum swinging below the cracked glass. “Aren’t you going to be late for your train?” He was still showing up at transit meetings in the city every other week since he had been appointed to the regional transit board as community representative now that he wasn’t an elected official. Kevin had a habit of holding onto things too tightly and refusing to let them go.

Kevin glanced down at his watch and swore. “Yeah. Shit.” He took another long gulp of coffee and leaned over the counter to kiss Marianne’s cheek. “Thanks. Who knew retirement could be so busy?” He turned to hurry out the door and then stopped and glanced back over his shoulder. “You be good, all right? Don’t work too hard.”

Marianne rolled her eyes and shooed him out with a towel.

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Meet the Author

Valentine is a latecomer to writing, though she’s always been a passionate reader. Through fanfiction she found her way to an incredible community of writers who’ve taught her to love making stories.

When she isn’t writing, she’s making bad puns, yelling about television, or playing with her small child.

Her life’s ambition is to eat the cuisine of every single country. You can find Valentine on Twitter.

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Sigil Fire by Erzabet Biship #FF #Lesfic #succubus #vampires #demons #witches #lesbian #paranormal #fantasy #romantic #suspense #strongfemalelead #alphafemale #buffyfans #lostgirl #succubusheat #tattoo #forbiddenink @ErzabetBishop

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Sonia is a succubus with one goal: stay off Hell’s radar. But when succubi start to die, including her sometimes lover, Jeannie, she’s drawn into battle between good and evil and a past that isn’t ready to let her go.

Fae is a blood witch turned vampire, running a tattoo parlor and trading her craft for blood. She notices that something isn’t right on the streets of her city. The denizens of Hell are restless.

With the aid of her nest mate, Perry, and his partner, Charley, she races against time before the next victim falls. The killer has a target in his sights, and Sonia might not live to see the dawn.

**Includes First Christmas: A Sigil Fire Holiday Story**

 

BUY LINKS:

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2NKsFWV

Amazon CA: https://amzn.to/2RTTAT4

Universal: https://books2read.com/SF1UF

 

EXCERPT:

The dream wrapped around Fae like gossamer silk. It was always the same. The woman’s back was to Fae—shapely curves illuminated against the shadows, the stranger’s face just out view. They were in a dark and winding alley, with the back side of row houses and businesses cluttered with dumpsters and badly repaired fences. The area behind the shops looked ramshackle and smelled worse. A combination of rotting garbage and the reek of something far worse.

A sense of urgency pounded through Fae. She needed to find this woman. Needed to find her now.

Dark demonic wings fluttered in the background, causing the mystery woman to flee. Her skirts whipped up, revealing calves that sucked the air from Fae’s lungs.

An aura of silvery wings hung behind the woman, vanishing as quickly as they appeared. The alleyway grew disjointed—a true setting from a nightmare. The red of her hair was only visible for a moment.

“Help me!” the woman’s sultry voice begged, out of breath and shrill with terror.

Fae’s dream self darted behind her. Shadowy faces and writhing figures moved in the periphery of her vision. She stared straight ahead. She had to focus. To find the woman.

“Wait!” She reached out, but only caught the tendrils of mist that filled the void.

The air chilled as Fae streaked through the fog. A fractured scream echoed in the murky dampness. Seeing anything became more difficult. The swampy odor of decay made Fae gag but still she pressed on. Don’t look. Just move.

Fae panicked. “Where are you?” The need to find the woman was overwhelming. There was something important about her. Even if Fae didn’t know what it was—she had to find the stranger. With her heart racing, Fae kept moving.

“Stop!” A terrible scream rang out in the darkness.

Fae’s pulse thrummed in her throat; her fangs clenched in fear. Where was she? Fae’s footsteps rang hollow as she ran, eyes searching, senses reaching out for any sign of the woman. Around her the buildings changed. Cold concrete walls penned her in. There was only one way to go. Forward.

A dim figure loomed in the distance, barely visible against the mists. Large wings unfolded, the odor of sulfur and dark rotting things made her sour stomach flip once more. The sound of tearing clothes and panicked screams met her ears. Shit.

Fae snarled, racing toward the sound of sobbing. Her boots hit the pavement, puddles of water and filth spraying out as she ran.

There was the mystery woman. Long, red hair draped over the concrete, defiled by the refuse on the ground surrounding her.

A streetlight shone bright in the foggy night air, and Fae was finally able to see the woman’s face around the creature that held the woman prisoner in its grip.

Full, red lips parted in shock as the demon’s fingers tightened around her throat. With her wide eyes brilliant and dark against her ivory complexion, it was clear she was dying. Her gaze met Fae’s, a panicked expression of recognition, and as she looked at her attacker, fear.

Fae stepped forward. “Get off her, asshole,” she hissed, taking another step forward.

The being turned its head, empty eyes staring right into her soul.

“Fae.” Its lips tilted up into a satanic grin and he turned, revealing more of the partially nude woman.

Fae startled and took a step back. “How do you know me?” Her hand felt for a blade at her side. Nothing. Dammit!

Fae would have to try and save the mystery woman with only her strength.

Her fingers brushed the oily feathers of the demon’s wings, intent on pulling it away from the girl, but instead she ended up with nothing.

Dark laughter filled the hollow passage, and in a burst of noxious smoke, the being was gone.

Fae spun on her heel trying to see where it had gone, then moved back and knelt at the woman’s side. “Red.”

“Find me,” the woman whispered, her eyes locking onto Fae’s. A delicate smile drifted across her lips as she, too, began to fade into the mist.

“No!” Fae’s heart twisted in her chest. Just when she had found her, the woman was lost yet again. “No!” Despair clogged her throat.

The shadows of the alley loomed dark as the streetlight fell dim.

***

Fae jerked awake. She lay twisted in the sheets. Her breath came in gasps as the dream faded, leaving her cold and alone in her bed. She had seen the stranger’s face. Finally.

Her dog, Jellybean, whined in the darkness and snuggled in closer, her furry black face burrowing deep under the covers.

“Red,” she whispered. “I’ll find you.”

Staring out the window into the moonless night, Fae listened as the wind whipped the trees outside into a frenzy. Something was coming. But so was she.

About the author:

Erzabet Bishop is a two time USA Today award winning and bestselling author of paranormal and erotic romance. She lives in Houston, Texas and when she isn’t writing about sexy shifters or voluptuous heroines she enjoys playing in local bookstores and watching movies with her husband and furry kids.

 

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