Release Blitz: Drifter by Eden Winters #LGBT #Rockstar #ContemporaryRomance

Title: Drifter

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 7/7/20

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 238

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Rocker

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Synopsis

Some legends never die.

Killian Desmond met his end in the fiery crash that killed his band, or so the newspapers say. Now a nameless drifter, he plays one pick-up gig after another in a haze of pain and regret, moving on the minute someone says, “You sound like that guy from Trickster.”

Getting outed cost Mike Rose his musical family. A bassist without a band, he’ll play any kind of music to earn a paycheck, but Trickster’s music provides light during the darkest moments of his life.

A chance meeting brings together two lost souls who spark enough heat to set their guitars on fire. Their chemistry, both onstage and off, feels like something written in the words of a song and gives them courage to face life again.

But to seize their future, they have to confront their past.

Excerpt

The throbbing beat blended with screams from the crowd; a crowd hidden by bright lights. Sweat and cologne and beer filled Killian Desmond’s nose. Familiar sounds. Familiar scents.

Home.

Did he love this life or hate it? Who cared, he’d never known another. Back to back with his brother Elliot, he shredded his electric acoustic guitar, improvising for the fans. The strings bent to his callused fingertips, note after note falling from his guitar.

Elliot kept up. Elliot always kept up. Others might get lost in Killy’s musical fantasies, but El gauged Killy’s intentions by the way he moved, held his shoulders, or gestures, like pausing to flip his sweat-dampened hair out of his eyes.

The drummer and keyboardist faded away, letting El set the tone with a deep bass beat.

Killy strutted to the front of the stage. Hot lights illuminated him from behind, shining on sweat-soaked skin. “What you wanna hear?” He didn’t need the words to know they’d be sticking to their prearranged lineup. At their manager’s urging, he’d saved the best for last.

Highway!” roared through the arena.

He grinned and cupped a hand to one ear. “What’s that? I can’t hear you.”

Highway!” roughly six thousand voices cried out in unison, louder this time.

“Aw, c’mon, now,” Killy teased. “We’ll play whatever you want, but you gotta tell us.”

The thunderous chant of “Highway! Highway! Highway!” threatened to blow the roof off the building.

Strolling over a few paces and throwing an arm around his brother, Killy said, “Well, I reckon we better do as they say.”

“Since when have you ever taken orders?” Elliot shot back.

Faster than most could follow, Killy slung his guitar back into place and launched into their best-known riff.

The screaming nearly deafened him. He tried again. On his sixth attempt the crowd settled enough to begin.

He grinned. Adoration and energy flowed from the crowd, straight into his veins, to gather strength and escape through his fingers and his voice.

His deep growl purred through the arena, pouring out the melody he’d written in a single night in a hotel room God knew where. High on life, cheap vodka, and the rush of their first big show, he’d settled onto the bed in the dark, except for the flickering image of a black and white movie on the TV, sound turned down, and began strumming.

The words flowed out of him unbidden, leaving him raw, shaken, and in possession of a number one hit.

He didn’t sing or play Highway—the melody made him its bitch, possessing him, demanding release into the world.

Who was he to refuse?

“Some were born to sand and wind, on the sea they make their home

Some may live a hermit’s life, on a mountain all alone

Or in a glass and metal cage, high up in the sky

Packed in tight with a thousand souls, all trying to get by

Nine to five may work for some, but that don’t work for me

Saddled to day in day out, no, I need to be free

Living a life all on my own, free of family, lover or friend

On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end.”

Alone, just him and the highway, until the chorus.

“On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end.”

Elliot’s sweet tenor wrapped around Killy’s pack-a-day growl, blending together seamlessly.

The audience joined in, chanting, “Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!”

Rob kept pace on the drums, a musician not really worthy of the band they’d become, and Ace, a friend and one hell of a musician, wound his way through the twists and turns on his keyboards.

“The only home I’ll ever know stretches from sea to sea

No start, no end, no in between, just miles of road and me

Living a life all on my own free of family, lover or friend

On the highway I was born, it’s there I’ll meet my end

Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!

Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!

Highway! Highway! Live and die on the highway!”

The mass of humanity might have started chanting again for all Killy knew. His world boiled down to this moment, the music, his brother, his friend, and the life laid out for him long ago, the first time his mother brought him and Elliot onstage.

They’d stayed. She’d gone.

Here they still stood, though she didn’t.

Never would again.

Nope, no bad thoughts. Just the music.

Note after note poured from him like rain, blocking thought and feeling.

He crashed to his knees, striking a chord and letting his guitar speak for him. Caught in the spotlight, he leaned back in a signature move his manager made him practice, making his shirt ride up to show some skin, while his hair fell back, glittering like gold in a strategically placed spotlight.

The blue streak, his own addition, voiced his defiance at being a commodity.

He should’ve been exhausted after the show they’d put on, but in that moment, he swore he could go all night.

He jumped to his feet, racing across the stage and running through part of the guitar solo for those seated to the left of the stage, then reversed course to the right, repeating the solo.

Arms reached for him, a thousand voices calling his name.

Rejoining Elliot centerstage, he launched into the chorus and let the others join him.

After extending the song by two more choruses, he finally wound down.

An announcer stepped up on stage, to catcalls, whistles and ear-splitting shouts. “Let’s hear it for Trickster!”

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Meet the Author

You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written twenty gay romance novels, has won Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

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Book Blitz: Hunter by A.M. Salinger #LGBTQ #ContemporaryRomance

Hunter
A.M. Salinger
Publication date: June 22nd 2020
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, LGBTQ+, Romance

Can a business rival bring one of Twilight Falls’ most notorious bad boys to his knees?

Twilight Falls’ resident bad boy Hunter Thomson knows he hasn’t quite lived up to his reputation of late and is determined to have some fun while on a rare night out in L.A. But after a torrid encounter with a captivating stranger results in one of the best sexual experiences of his life, Hunter flees to his hometown, scared by his intense feelings and convinced he is about to commit the same mistake he once made in the past.

Theo Miller can’t get the gorgeous man he hooked up with one night in L.A. out of his mind. When he moves to Twilight Falls for the opening of his new store, he is shocked to discover than his business rival is none other than the stranger who ran away from him and their fiery connection.

Sparks fly as the two men engage in a game of cat and mouse. But when an accident makes Theo dependent on Hunter, the game becomes something neither men could have anticipated.

Will Hunter finally overcome his deep-seated fears and succumb to Theo’s passionate attention? And can Theo win the heart of the one man he wants to belong to?

Join Hunter and Theo in this hot and sweet third installment in Twilight Falls, the new series by the author of the bestselling, contemporary romance series Nights.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

The music thumped in Hunter Thomson’s ears and throbbed pleasantly against his skin. He drummed a hand lightly against his arm as he waited for his order, his fingers matching the beat of the pop song blaring from the club’s speakers. He flashed a smile at the girl who brought him his beer, turned, and leaned his back against the bar.

His gaze roamed the dance floor a few feet from where he stood. It was packed with hot, writhing men. A dry smile curved his lips as he brought the bottle to his mouth and took a sip of the cold beverage.

Well, hot writhing men is what I came here for.

His eyes found the couple on the far left of the sunken stage. Hunter’s smile turned into a full-blown grin.

Irritation danced briefly on Tristan Hart’s face when he met Hunter’s amused stare. The man working up a sweat against Tristan seemed oblivious to their exchange; Dan Flynn was already on his fourth drink and focused on his mission for the night. Which was apparently to get in Tristan’s pants and ride him till the cows came home.

Hunter could tell from the subtle way Tristan was avoiding full body contact with Dan that he wasn’t interested. He knew Tristan would never have accepted Dan’s invitation had he known the guy would start hitting on him the moment they walked through the doors of the hottest new gay club in L.A. The fact that Dan had told him to bring a friend to the opening night had evidently lured Tristan into thinking his client wasn’t interested in him.

Hunter could hardly blame the poor man.

With his quiet brown eyes, rugged good looks, and muscular, tattooed body, Tristan was a picture of understated masculinity. Not only was he hot, his ability to fix any motorbike and sports cars that landed in his garage made him one of the most sought-after mechanics in the state. It also regularly brought a line of men and women to his door who wanted to get his hands on more than just their hoods.

All evidence pointed to the fact that Tristan’s latest client was one such man. Unfortunately for Dan, the sexy mechanic made it a rule never to mix business with pleasure.

Had Hunter not known Tristan since they were practically in diapers, he might have been tempted to have a taste of the guy himself.

Except we’re both tops, so that would definitely not have worked out.

Hunter let his gaze wander over the crowded club. It wasn’t everyday he came to L.A. for a night on the town and he was determined to make the most of it.

Having two of his close friends recently get shacked up had made him antsy. It had also been a few months since he’d hooked up with anyone and he very much wanted to come somewhere other than his own hand tonight.

Besides, I have a reputation to keep up. I can’t be Twilight Falls’ most notorious bad boy when I haven’t seen any action other than my own fingers lately.

A man caught Hunter’s interest a moment later. Blond, blue eyes. A body that showed he liked to work out. The stranger’s mouth curved up as he studied Hunter from where he stood amidst a large group, his expression telling Hunter he liked what he was seeing too. Hunter’s lips tilted in an answering smile.

Someone stepped in his line of sight.

Hunter shifted to try and catch the blond’s attention. The man blocking his view moved too.

Irritation darted through Hunter.

The guy looming over him was wearing neatly pressed cream chinos, a navy shirt with a red-rimmed collar that matched his two tone dress shoes, and a dark blue blazer. The top three buttons of the shirt were open, exposing an expanse of toned, tanned flesh.

“Can I get through?”

Hunter blinked.

The man’s voice was like whisky poured over rough velvet.

He looked up and met a pair of arresting hazel eyes set in a chiseled face blessed by the gods.

The man arched an elegant eyebrow, his expression patient and seemingly heedless of the interested stares he was drawing. He had a good couple of inches on Hunter’s own six foot-two.

“The bar?” the stranger added slowly, as if addressing a dimwit.

Hunter flushed and stepped away from the counter. “Er, sure.”

The man’s cologne filled Hunter’s nose as he slipped past and took his place. He smelled of pine and evergreens, like the forests of Twilight Falls.

Hunter stared at the stranger’s wide back. It was clear from his charismatic appearance and expensive clothes that he was loaded.

A hand landed on Hunter’s shoulder, startling him. He looked around.

It was the blond he’d been eyeing up.

“Hey,” the guy said warmly.

“Hey, yourself,” Hunter replied with a smile, firmly squashing his burgeoning interest for the man at the bar.

He’s not my type, anyway.

The blond indicated the sunken stage. “Wanna dance?”

A teasing grin lit up Hunter’s. “I gotta warn you. I have killer moves. Think you can keep up?”

The blond chuckled. He leaned in and whispered hotly in Hunter’s left ear.

“I’ve got some killer moves on my own.”

Hunter’s dick perked with interest as the blond’s breath washed across his skin. The guy took his hand and led him to the dance floor.

Three songs and another beer later and Hunter was feeling buzzed. He and the blond had definite sexual chemistry; he could tell he would be coming in the guy’s hand, mouth, or ass tonight.

“Wanna go somewhere quieter?”

Hunter followed the blond’s gaze.

He was looking at a dimly-lit corridor leading to the restrooms.

Hunter masked a frown. He’d hoped they’d be going back to the hotel he and Tristan had booked for the night. A quickie in a public toilet wasn’t really his thing.

“It’s not what you’re thinking,” the blond said mysteriously, as if he’d guessed Hunter’s thoughts.

Hunter arched an eyebrow. “It’s not?”

The blond grabbed his arm. “Come on.”

Hunter scanned the club for Tristan as he headed for the restrooms with the blond. He found his best friend with his inebriated client at the bar on the other side of the floor.

Tristan caught his eyes. “Everything okay?” he mouthed.

Hunter nodded and gave him a reassuring wave.

The club’s washrooms were stark and clean. They were also thankfully empty bar a handful of men.

One of them was the blond’s friend, a guy with dark hair and eyes.

“You brought him,” the man said with a grin.

A sinking feeling blossomed in the pit of Hunter’s stomach at his expression.

“What’s going on?” Hunter asked the blond guardedly.

Blondie smiled at him, his face relaxed despite Hunter’s cool tone.

“We thought you’d be a good fit for us.”

Hunter suppressed a grimace. Great.

He studied the dark-haired guy. “Are you his partner?”

“I am.”

“I’m sorry, but I’m not into threesomes,” Hunter said gruffly.

Blondie trailed a teasing hand down Hunter’s chest all the way to the buckle of his jeans and beyond. “Are you sure? ‘Cause you look pretty turned on to me.”

Hunter grabbed Blondie’s wrist as he stroked his way back up his erection.

“I was, when I thought it’d be just you.”

The door to the restrooms opened. Hunter swallowed a curse when he saw the guy who entered.

It was Hazel Eyes from the bar.

The man stopped and looked at them curiously. “Am I interrupting?”

Hunter recovered his senses first. “No, you aren’t.” He turned to Blondie and his partner. “Like I said, I’m not interested.”

Blondie pouted. “That’s a shame. I was really looking forward to having a sex sandwich with you.”

Hunter stared, not certain he’d heard right. “Excuse me?”

Hazel Eyes turned away and started washing his hands at the sink, but not before Hunter caught the sparkle of amusement in his gaze.

“You know, where one of us fucks your mouth while the other pounds your ass,” Blondie explained blithely.

Hunter’s jaw dropped open. He caught a glimpse of Hazel Eyes’s reflection in the mirror above the row of sinks. The guy’s lips were pinched tight and his shoulders were shaking slightly. Outrage shot through Hunter.

Is that asshole laughing at me?!

“I’m sorry to disappoint you,” he told Blondie and his partner icily once he’d regained his composure, “again. But I’m a top, so nobody is going anywhere near my ass.”

Blondie’s eyes widened. “Oh, wow.” He paused, a moue twisting his mouth. “Are you sure? ‘Cause you kinda give off a bottom feel.”

“Positive,” Hunter growled.

“Oh well, your loss, I suppose,” Blondie murmured. “Come on, Jeff, let’s get out of here.”

Hunter watched wordlessly as the pair exited the restrooms. He blew out a sigh, raked a hand through his hair, and headed for the door.

“You sure you should be going out like that?”

 

Author Bio:

Ava Marie Salinger is the pen name of an Amazon bestselling author who has always wanted to write scorching hot contemporary romance. In 2018, she finally decided to venture to the steamy side. NIGHTS is the first of several sizzling series featuring sweet, sexy men with dark pasts and a whole lot of love to give to the ones brave enough to fight for their hearts. When she’s not dreaming up hotties to write about, you’ll find Ava creating kickass music playlists to write to, spying on the wildlife in her garden, drooling over gadgets, and eating Chinese.
Want to be the first to know about Ava’s new releases and get access to exclusive content, sneak previews, sales, and giveaways? Then sign up to her Reader Group here and join her VIP Facebook Fan Group here.

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Release Blitz: Bigger Love by Rick R. Reed #LGBTromance #youngadult

Title: Bigger Love

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 15, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60100

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+, high school, gender-bending, school play, performance arts, romance, young love

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Synopsis

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first ever genderfluid star to win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self…

Excerpt

Bigger Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“There’s a man in your room. I can smell him.”

Truman Reid confronted his mom, Patsy, in the kitchen. Early morning sun streamed in brightly through the kitchen window over the sink, making Truman long for the relative freedom of summer that was about to be put to rest that very day.

Patsy glowered at him from the stove where she was scrambling eggs. She didn’t often get up to make him breakfast, but Truman had figured—at least at first—that she was doing so because this was Truman’s first day back at school. He’d be a senior at Summitville High. First days of school had always been a source of high anxiety for Truman, who’d been bullied and teased mercilessly throughout almost the entire four years. But now Truman wondered if Patsy had risen early to fix bacon and eggs because she was hiding a man in her room. You know, to distract him. This wasn’t a usual experience for his mom, Truman was sure, and he wondered if he’d embarrassed her. But he couldn’t help but wonder how a man in her room might affect his exclusive hold on her. Would he still get her undivided attention, you know, if this was a “thing”?

Of course, Patsy, lovely, diminutive, with curly black hair and wide eyes, had every right to have a man in her room. Even if that man smelled of cigarettes and motor oil. But she didn’t have the right, Truman opined, to keep secrets from him. A mother should never keep secrets from her boy, right? Wasn’t that one of those unwritten laws?

“That may be. Or may not be,” Patsy said, giving the eggs one final push-around with a spatula before dumping them on a plate. She sighed and eyed him. “I have a right to my privacy. You don’t need to be privy to every detail of my life. I show you that respect and expect the same in return.”

She’s reading my mind. Again. “Oh, I didn’t mean to pry, Mama. I just wanted to say it’s okay if you did have a man sleep over. It’s not like I would mind. It’s not like we’re not both adults around here. We have separate bedrooms and separate lives.” Truman almost choked on the words.

Patsy set the plate of steaming eggs before him. Truman saw, to his delight, that the four pieces of bacon Patsy had fried up before the eggs were all for him.

Patsy smiled, but there was something just a tad bit evil in it. “Thank you, sweetie. I’m so glad to have your go-ahead if I want to whore around.” She chuckled and returned to the counter where she’d left her mug of coffee. She leaned against the counter, mug in hand, and took a sip. Patsy was all of thirty-four years old but looked at least ten years younger in the dappled morning light, and Truman felt a rush of love for her. The bond they had was kind of a you-and-me-against-the-world one. Truman felt he could say just about anything to Patsy, and he knew she felt the same; witness the “whore” comment. What kind of mother said that to her son?

Truman wasn’t sure, but he was glad he had one who did.

Besides, between raising him, which could be, um, challenging at times, and working at the Elite Diner in Summitville’s tiny downtown, she had little time for romance. Given that Truman’s father was still a mystery to him—and to Patsy—he assumed that, once upon a time, she did have her whoring-around days, but he’d seen little evidence of them.

Until this morning.

“So who is he? Can I go take a peek? Is he hot?” Truman laughed.

Patsy answered the three questions in short order: “None of your business. No, you can’t. Yes. Very.” She took another sip of coffee and tightened the sash of her white chenille bathrobe. Truman noticed she was wearing a little makeup this morning—mascara, some blush, a hint of lip gloss. She hadn’t overdone it. Truman would say she looked “dewy” if she asked. “You need to eat up and get in the shower, young man. The bus will be here—” She turned to look at the wall clock on the soffit above the sink. “—in twenty minutes. I know you need your primping time.”

Truman dropped his fork to the table. “Seriously? Only twenty? Good Lord.” He wrapped his bacon up in a paper towel and headed for the single bathroom. Patsy blocked his way. “Since when do we leave our plates on the table? What? You think I’m your servant?”

“Mom!” Truman whined. “You know I need time to get ready. Please, please, please take care of it for me. I’ll love you forever!”

“Okay. This once. And sweetie, I’d thought loving me forever went without saying. But you cook and clean up tonight.”

“Deal.”

Truman rushed to the bathroom, wondering if Patsy would use the time to sneak her man out of the house. Too bad the only window looked out on the backyard. It was frosted glass anyway.

He hoped his mom had found someone to love.

He hoped his mom hadn’t found someone to love.

It had been just the two of them for so long, Truman didn’t know if he could cope with someone else vying for Patsy’s affections. He felt a little sense of violation at the thought.

In the bathroom, Truman laid out on the counter all the stuff a boy would need to make a suitable senior-year debut: eyeliner, clear mascara, blush, and the lip gloss that added no extra color to his lips but made them shine.

He stepped into the shower after brushing, flossing, and exfoliating his face.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Release Blitz: A Face Without a Heart by Rick R. Reed #LGBTQ #paranormal

Title: A Face without a Heart

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 1, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 56700

Genre: Paranormal Horror, LGBTQIA+, photographer, drag queen, dancer, addiction, drug use, dark, suspense

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Synopsis

A modern-day and thought-provoking retelling of Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray that esteemed horror magazine Fangoria called “…a book that is brutally honest with its reader and doesn’t flinch in the areas where Wilde had to look away…. A rarity: a really well-done update that’s as good as its source material.”

A beautiful young man bargains his soul away to remain young and handsome forever, while his holographic portrait mirrors his aging and decay and reflects every sin and each nightmarish step deeper into depravity… even cold-blooded murder. Prepare yourself for a compelling tour of the darkest sides of greed, lust, addiction, and violence.

Excerpt

A Face without a Heart
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
GARY

There is blood on my hands. I look down at a body, a body that’s become a thing—monstrous, ugly, inanimate. It could be a sculpture, a figure formed from wax or porcelain. The soul inside is gone, leaving a shell. I wipe a line of sweat from my forehead with a trembling hand, trying to tell myself these things, trying to believe that what lies at my feet is nothing more than an object, something to be reviled, something not worthy of further consideration.

It’s not easy to believe. Although the corpse does not have a twinkle in its eye or the simple rise and fall of a chest, it’s hard to remove myself from the plain fact that the body possessed those movements, those simple signs of life, just minutes ago. Distance, for now, seems more a matter of location than of feeling. The body at my feet wears the badges of its untimely demise—a dented face, a split-open skull, blood and grayish-pink matter seeping out. The bruises have already begun to rise, ugly yellow-pink things all over the body.

I stoop, plunge my fingers into the deepest hole, the one on the belly, to feel the warmth and the entrails. Amazed that the breathing has stopped. Amazed that I have such power.

I lift a finger to my mouth and slowly run it over my lips, the blackish liquid warm and viscous, metallic to the taste. I recall the vampire films I loved as a youth, never really believing such a thing could exist.

Now I do.

I have stolen a life so that my own might continue. There is something vampiric in that, isn’t there? Because without this theft of a beating heart and an expanding and contracting pair of lungs, I would be unable to live.

Isn’t that the real essence of the vampire?

It seems too quiet here, deep in the basement of a high-rise. A dull clanging is my only accompaniment, pipes bringing warmth and water to tenants above, whose lives continue, ignorant, untouched by my murderous hand. And that’s the amazing thing, the thing that causes my breath, when drawn inward, to quiver.

Life goes on, in spite of this monumental act, just a quick, surprised scream and a heartbeat away.

There is blood on the walls, spattered Jackson Pollock-style. Who can say what is art and what is murder?

This so-called victim who now lies in final repose on a cold concrete floor, staring vacantly at nothing or perhaps at the hell that will one day consume me, can no longer chastise me, can no longer beg me to drop to my knees with him and pray, pray for forgiveness, imploring Jesus to lead me down the path of the righteous.

It’s not too late, he said before I brought the mallet down on his skull, cracking it open like a walnut, slamming it into his windpipe, his gut, an eye socket, his shoulders as he fell, anywhere the mallet would ruin, destroying, sucking life.

He was wrong. The final irony of his existence, I suppose, is that he thought he had the power to do anything, to change another person, whom, I must admit, he cared very deeply about.

No, that power rests in my hand, the death-dealing claw that changed him. And people whine about how change never really lasts when it comes to others, how they always unfortunately revert to their old ways, the ways you don’t want them to be. Anyone who has ever tried to change another knows this to be true. Oh certainly, the change may last a week, a month, even a year. But soon the real person comes back, the one who has been waiting in the wings for just the right cue, the one that will allow him to say “Ah fuck it, I’ve had enough.”

But the change I’ve wrought in my friend can never be undone. He is dead and always will be. I have a power of which psychiatrists and psychologists can only dream. And I accomplished my transformation in a matter of seconds, behind a red-tinged curtain of rage.

Pretty sly, eh? For a man who’s spent most of his life doing nothing but looking after his own selfish needs and pursuing his own pleasures, it’s a pretty accomplished thing. Decisive. For once, a man of action.

I nudge him with my foot and am amazed at the heaviness my friend has taken on in death. His body doesn’t want to give, to roll; it has become a body at rest…forever.

I turn and head back upstairs. There are matters to attend to…clothes to be burned, an alibi to be concocted. People will want answers. And conveniently, I will have none. Knowledge is a dangerous thing. What was it my other friend once told me? “The only people worth knowing are the ones who know everything and the ones who know nothing.”

I know nothing about this. And now I must go back into the realm of the living to ensure my ignorance remains secure.

But alone, I know that ignorance is one of the few luxuries I can no longer afford. Alone, I have only the luxury of time to contemplate how it all began.

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Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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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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New Today at Changeling Press! #RomanceBooks #NewRelease

Snake Charmer (Confessions 1)

Skye: I’m a lone wolf, but I’ve left the forest to fight against demons who’ve taken over the world. Right now I’m with a pack in Baltimore, but their alpha respects my ways. I take assignments from him, but I live alone and fight alone — until the night I’m attacked by a swarm of bat demons and a hot little snake dancer jumps in to back me up. For me, it’s lust at first sight, but it’s more than that. I think this adorable little tough guy is my mate, even though he’s not a wolf.

Erik: I’m called Snake Charmer. Dancer. Contortionist. Spirit twin to an alien serpent who has always been my protector. My life has been a series of horrors with some beautiful experiences tossed in. I’ve learned to be independent, especially after my best friend and I were brutalized in an attack that left her dead. Now I’m out for revenge, and it’s brought me to Maryland, directly into the path of a gorgeous werewolf who makes me feel things I never dreamed of. It can’t last, though, and nothing, not even desire this deep, will come between me and my vendetta.

Warning: While set in a futuristic paranormal reality, Snake Charmer includes references to previous child abuse, rape, and murder that may be triggers to some readers.

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

#ParanormalRomance #Gay #Vampires #Werewolves #AlienEncounters

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Combustible (Roanoke River Omegas 3)Long, lean, wild and unconventional for an Omega, Zane rocks and rolls Alpha Grant’s world. Zane can’t be predicted. He can’t be contained. And Grant freaking loves it.

But it’s not all beer and BJs, even for these two. Grant’s never wanted to have kids of his own. His family is Legacy Tattoo, the business he finally reclaimed after his grandfather’s death. He’s dedicating his life to making it not just flourish but thrive. And he doesn’t know — yet — about Zane’s status as a single father to a rambunctious pre-K rebel.

Their love affair is gonna be complicated. And — downright combustible.

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

#LGBTQ+ #Mpreg #ParanormalRomance

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Feral Heat (Feral 6)

Think werewolves aren’t real?

Tell that to the four women and one man who find themselves captive to the whims of the Zante pack’s males. Fierce, mythical, and sexy-as-sin, these delightfully debauched wolves guide their lovers through a journey of seductive exploration. Whether newly discovered or rekindled, their relationships are as passionate as they are.

And the women can give as good as they take. From a fairy bent on revenge to a vixen determined to destroy the pack, they’ll all discover that getting caught is its own reward.

Wild and dangerous, menacing and exciting, otherworldly and naughty to the last…

The men of the Zante pack will make a believer out of you.

Publisher’s Note: This box set contains the previously released novellas Firecrackers: Chemistry to BurnFeral MagnetismFeral BachelorismFeral Hedonism, and Feral Voyeurism. 

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

#LGBTQ+ #werewolves #multiplepartners

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Release Blitz: Forbidden Love by Lee Golgin #LGBTQ #urbanfantasy

Title: Forbidden Love

Series: They Bite, Book Two

Author: Lee Colgin

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 18, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 52800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, paranormal, urban fantasy, friends to lovers, werewolves, vampires, slow burn, college, supernatural

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Synopsis

When an esteemed vampire doctor treats an injured young werewolf, desire sparks between them.

Dr. Benjamin Arleth has devoted his life to finding a medical cure for his species’ most devastating weakness—sunlight. Finally, one of his pharmaceuticals shows promise, but sabotage looms large in the lab.

Wolf shifter Nathan Cramer is ready to finish grad school and begin his career when a trip to Center City’s Peace Conference goes awry. Weak and bleeding, Nathan knows his wounds could prove fatal. Dr. Arleth is his only hope.

Can love flourish between enemy species despite a society in turmoil? Could vampires walk in the daylight or will darkness reign? It’s a race to find answers, and Ben will have to put his trust in Nathan if they’re going to make it out alive.

Forbidden Love is a MM urban fantasy/paranormal romance and the second book in the series They Bite but can be enjoyed as a standalone.

Excerpt

Forbidden Love
Lee Colgin © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Benjamin

Elbow deep in test tubes and chemicals at his state-of-the-art laboratory, Doctor Benjamin Arleth startled when his alarm went off. Time for patient rounds. He hated to abandon his work when he was making so much progress, but duty called. The long sought-after drug to render a vampire resistant to sunlight would have to wait another night.

The supernatural realm’s most accomplished vampire doctor had no surgeries on his docket this evening. What he did have were several recovering patients to check on: a grouchy were-leopard who’d been impaled by a hunter’s arrow, and a friendly young Living vampire who’d undergone corrective surgery for metatarsus varus, or in layman’s terms…pigeon toes.

Benjamin went to check on the young vampire first. Knocking on the open door, Ben stepped inside the generic white hospital room. “Hello, Olivia, how are you feeling tonight?”

She grinned at him from under her nest of blankets. Olivia was small for her seventeen years, partially due to rotated tibias, but she had a big personality. Blonde curls spilled over her shoulders, and an incorrigible sense of humor sparkled behind pale golden eyes. She was fully grown, a condition that had to be met before her legs could be fixed and, more importantly, before she could be Turned. The poor girl was bored, stuck in the hospital recovering, and eager to get back to her life.

“I’m good, Doctor Arleth. I’ve been walking without any help. Can I go home today?” She looked hopeful.

The doctor tutted and shook his head, approaching her bed. “It’s too early for you to be walking unassisted.” She started to protest, but Ben continued, “You could do damage and set back your healing if you aren’t careful. Just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should.”

Olivia groaned. “But it’s so dull here.”

“Tell me about it. I’ve been stuck here a lot longer than you.” He made a face at her, and she laughed.

“This sucks,” Olivia said with typical teenage angst. “You’re cute though, in that tall, dark, and handsome sort of way. You could get a life outside this place if you wanted.”

“How do you know I don’t have one already?”

“Call it a lucky guess.”

“Moving on.” Ben reached for her blankets. “Let me examine your legs. Then you can walk with me and show me how you’re healing.”

“Deal. Anything to get out of this room.”

Ben picked up her left leg gingerly. The flexible cast allowed him to take her knee through its full range of motion. He flexed and pointed her foot.

“How does it feel? Any sensitive spots?”

She shook her head. “Nope, I’m telling you it feels great. You must have done a really great job.”

“Good.” He put the other leg through the same exercises, watching her face for a reaction. If there was one, he didn’t catch it. Either she healed quickly or she’d mastered hiding discomfort. You’d expect the former of a Turned vampire, but a Living vampire like Olivia would take longer to heal. The girl was either lucky or deceptive; he’d find out as he watched her walk.

“All right.” Ben set her leg carefully back onto the bed. “Time to boogie. Show me what you’ve got.” He reached for her hand and helped her to her feet.

She took a step forward. So far, so good. After walking several laps of the medical center’s recovery floor, Ben believed her progress genuine. He’d miss her. Olivia was pleasant when she wasn’t busy teasing him.

The were-leopard, however, he’d love to get rid of.

The cat had been on a drunken joy run when he’d crossed into unprotected forest, human game lands. Shot through with an arrow, not only did he almost die, but the human who’d shot him had to have his memory wiped after seeing a leopard turn into an angry, naked man. He was lucky the hunter kept his shit together to call for help; otherwise he’d have died from internal bleeding. He’d been a terrible patient, complaining about everything from inadequate pain medication to the lack of decent food. What did he expect? A steakhouse?

Ben walked into the leopard’s room, eager to be done with him. “Jason, how are you tonight?”

The cat scowled as he scooted upright in the bed. “How do you think? I’m in pain. This place is stingy with the meds.”

“Pain medication is often ineffective on were-creatures. We simply have nothing else to give you.”

“A drink wouldn’t hurt.”

Ben clenched his jaw. “Still against hospital policy, I’m afraid. Let me check your wound, and I’ll see about releasing you.”

Jason pushed the covers down, and Ben got to work. The wound, though still inflamed around the edges, had closed nicely. Ben palpated the were-leopard’s abdomen, checking for signs of swelling or bleeding. Jason complained but didn’t seem overly sensitive. It should be safe to release him. Thank god.

“Good news, you’re healing well. We can send you home tonight. How about that?”

“About damn time, I’m ready to get out of here,” Jason said. “I need some real food and a good screw.” He added an obscene gesture Ben found distasteful.

“Hold off for now. I’ll send a nurse to fill you in on the physical restrictions until you’re completely cleared. Come back in a week for a final check to make sure there’s no lasting damage. Until then, be careful not to aggravate the wound.”

“Right, I get it. Careful when I’m screwing. Noted.”

Ben schooled his features to neutrality. It would be unprofessional to lecture manners to a patient, even if they deserved it.

When Jason didn’t get whatever response he’d been hoping for, he changed the subject. “Are you going to the Peace Conference this weekend? The nurse said they were bringing in extra doctors. Could get rowdy!”

“I am. I’d have gone, even if I wasn’t on call.”

“Shitty thing they’re considering. Breaking the Edict of Secrecy. Stupid idea,” the leopard huffed.

Ben did not point out that the very reason the were-leopard landed in the hospital to begin with was because he’d broken the Edict of Secrecy. Allowing a human to see him shift was against the law.

Supernaturals kept themselves hidden from humanity, but was that wise in light of the technological revolution? It was a matter of time before a human filmed something on a cell phone, and they’d be exposed. If they chose to reveal themselves, the narrative could be controlled. If humanity found out by accident, it could all go terribly wrong. Many in the community had strong feelings on the subject, including this exasperating were-leopard.

“Perhaps you should come and listen to the presentations. I’m sure there’s more to it than we know.” The Edict of Secrecy had served its purpose. They must let it go. Knowledge was power and all that.

“I’d rather stab my eye out than listen to that horseshit,” Jason said.

“To each their own, but continued peace is in everyone’s best interest. We don’t want another Great War.” He glared at the cat, daring him to disagree. Vampires and were-creatures were historical enemies, but a Peace Accord maintained armistice between the species. Battle surgeons told nightmarish tales of the Great Wars.

Ben jotted down his final notes in Jason’s file and left the clipboard for his assistant, Amelia. “Take care Jason and heal well. I don’t want to see you here again.” Usually that statement was more a joke, but this time, he meant it.

“The feeling is mutual, Doctor.”

Ben hadn’t been expecting thanks, but the were-leopard’s complete lack of self-awareness annoyed him. Glad to be done, Ben made a quick trip to the nurse’s station to leave his patient updates so he could return to his research, his life’s work; a drug to allow Turned vampires to walk in the sunlight again…his holy grail.

Ben lost himself in the research.

He had dozens of theories to deliberate and countless components to try before he’d risk another test of the drug’s efficacy. Sunlight could reduce a young vampire to ash within moments, and an ancient would be dust in less than an hour, so each failed test proved lethal to some criminal soul.

The Vampire Council provided test subjects from their prisons, but Ben wouldn’t take a life lightly, no matter their crimes. As the death toll added up, guilt sat heavier in his chest. The formula had to be right before he’d ask for another trial.

Another alarm rang, jarring him from work. Only a few hours remained before dawn, and he had to leave now if he was going to meet Samuel for smokes. He’d told Samuel he’d be there. Benjamin hated to leave his research—had to tear himself away from it—but Samuel wasn’t the kind of vampire you wanted angry with you, so Ben wouldn’t stand him up. He cleaned and stored his equipment, turned off the lights, locked up the lab, and headed for their favorite haunt, the Eternal Knight Club.

See Olivia, I do have a life.

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Meet the Author

Lee Colgin has loved vampires since she read Dracula on a hot sunny beach at 13 years old. She lives in North Carolina with lots of dogs and her husband. No, he’s not a vampire, but she loves him anyway. Lee likes to workout so she can eat the maximum amount of cookies with her pizza. Ask her how much she can bench press.

If you enjoyed this book, pick up Lee’s debut novel Slay My Love to find out what happens when you’re attracted to the very person who want to kill you an enemies to lovers 56,000k novel available now.

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Release Blitz: The Cupid Crawl by Hank Edwards #LGBTQ #RomCom @hanksbooks

Title: The Cupid Crawl

Series: A Williamsville Inn Story (can be read as a stand alone)

Author: Hank Edwards

Publisher: Startled Monkeys Media

Release Date: 4/20/2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 189 pages

Genre: Romance, romantic comedy

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Synopsis

What happens when a confirmed hook up app user falls for a man who is his polar opposite?

Carter Walsh will be alone on Valentine’s Day, and his plans include a candy sampler of hook ups.
But after learning about the Cupid Crawl—a bar crawl covering a half dozen bars, gay and straight—he changes his plans.

During the crawl, he runs into:

An ex-co-worker nemesis who resurrects—loudly—an unfortunate nickname she bestowed upon him years before.

Several hot men eager for a quick hook up.

And one man absolutely not Carter’s type, but who manages to pique his interest and, possibly, steal his heart.

The Cupid Crawl is a funny, sweet, and steamy opposites attract, slight age gap story that takes place in the Williamsville Inn series world, and features characters from the Christmas stories “Snowflakes and Song Lyrics” by Hank Edwards and “Snowstorms and Second Chances” by Brigham Vaughn.

Excerpt

The organizer, Vic, led the way, squeezing past the men and women standing in the doorway and forging a path for Carter to follow. At first, Carter thought he was way overdressed. The men he slid past were shirtless, some wearing just white loin cloths or even cloth diapers along with feathered wings strapped around their broad chests. These men gave him a brief glance, maybe a quick smile, but were busy talking to each other or women who were also baring a lot of skin. Didn’t these people realize it was February in Boston?

When he reached the bar, Carter was relieved to see people wearing shirts and pants instead of just diapers and short shorts. Vic leaned in over the bar and said to the bartender, “Don, this is my good friend, Carter. Put his first two drinks on my tab.”

“Oh, you don’t have to do that,” Carter insisted. “I have money.”

“Happy Valentine’s Day, Carter,” Vic said. “The first two drinks are on me to help you relax. I’m going to make a round of the bar, but when I return, I hope to find you talking with someone, and not just leaning on the bar all alone.”

“I know how to socialize,” Carter said.

“Oh, I’m sure you do.”

Vic winked again before threading his way through the crowd, greeting people as he slid past them. Carter ordered a beer from Don, and then fished a couple of singles out of his wallet for a tip. He lifted his bottle to salute Don and had just taken a swig when a piercingly high voice shrieked from just behind him. The sound startled him so much he choked on his beer and started to cough. He turned, coughing and sputtering, and squinted through his tears at the woman standing behind him.

Auburn hair done up tall, bright green eyes that could be nothing other than colored contact lenses, a pert, upturned nose, and a broad mouth filled with teeth laser-whitened to solar flare level.

Carter’s heart stuttered with surprise and dread as he struggled to clear his airway.

“I saw you walk in and had to come over and see if it was really you!” she exclaimed.

With a final clearing of his throat, Carter managed a smile and said, “Lizzie. Hello! What a treat to see you.”

Lizzie’s smile widened even further and she crossed her arms. It was then Carter noticed she wore what looked like a sports bra with a pair of white wings strapped to her shoulders, and a sheer white shift around her waist that showed off a pair of black panties trimmed with lace.

“As I live and breathe,” Lizzie said with a shake of her head. “Carter the Farter.”

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Meet the Author

Hank Edwards (he/him) has been writing gay fiction for more than twenty years. He has published over thirty novels and dozens of short stories. His books fall into many sub-genres, including romance, rom-com, contemporary, paranormal, suspense, mystery, and wacky comedy. He has written a number of series such as the suspenseful Up to Trouble, funny and spooky paranormal out for you gay romance Critter Catchers, Old West historical horror of Venom Valley, the erotic and funny Fluffers, Inc. series, and the funny and thrilling Lacetown Murder Mysteries series co-written with Deanna Wadsworth. No matter what genre he writes, Hank likes to keep things sweet, steamy, and fun. He was born and still lives in a northwest suburb of the Motor City, Detroit, Michigan, where he shares a home with his partner of over 20 years and their two cats.

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Release Blitz: The Island by M. Rose Flores #LGBTQIA+ #zombies

Title: The Island

Series: Abnormal/Variant, Book Two

Author: M. Rose Flores

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 4, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 86300

Genre: Horror/Thriller, LGBTQIA+, YA, PNR, bisexual, dark, horror, zombies/undead, postapocalyptic, family drama, found family, San Francisco, Alcatraz

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Synopsis

Two years after the end of the world, Cate and Marco have finally found a place for their people to start over. Sustainable and safe from zombies, the island is everything they hoped it would be. It seems the worst may finally be over; they can stop surviving and begin to live again. But the arrival of two new people sets in motion a chain of events that throw the island into unrest, and Cate must fight for her love, her people, and her sense of self. Can the inhabitants of Alcatraz Island find a way to come together when everything around them is falling apart?

Almost two years before their arrival on the island, just after the event that ripped their family apart, Marco began an aimless journey. With his foster family gone—some dead, some vanished—once again, Marco was on his own and sure it was for the best; other people only slowed you down, ended up as liabilities, or worse. Alone was good. It was what he was used to. But on his journey south, he collected other wanderers and began to consider the idea of a cooperative group or, maybe, a found family. There was, after all, safety in numbers.

Finally, together on the island, everyone assumes they are safe. But assumptions in a world run by zombies can be dangerous. Deadly. There is something going on in the city, terrifying and unnatural. Something that will change everything they think they know about zombies. And it’s coming to the island.

The Island is not a stand-alone. It’s advised that book one, The End, be read first.

Excerpt

The Island
M. Rose Flores © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Cate

Those are not people. The way they move, the fact that when we wave, they don’t wave back, and the way they are all shambling toward us down the paths to either side. It all collectively spells zombie.

“Hello,” calls Calvin.

No answer. Damn it.

None of us has the energy to fight any more. We spent the whole night fighting to get to the island. We watched our people get maimed and die; Calvin’s Nana Mae sacrificed herself to save him, my sister Mel, and their new babies. Five other people died too, though I didn’t know any of them well. They were all Marco’s people. Now we’re all one another’s people. What a way to make a family.

Toby is looking pale. His younger brother Jax, though much smaller than Toby, is doing his best to keep him upright. The place where Toby’s hand used to be, before it was clawed by an Abnormal zombie and then cut off by me to prevent infection, is wrapped in a bandage from what I’m guessing is a very limited supply. I think everything is probably limited. There wasn’t much time to pack or prepare after Mel’s labor screams drew in the horde last night. It’s not her fault. Birthing twins with nothing stronger than ibuprofen must be agony. But we had to leave in a hurry. We made it all the way to Alcatraz, barely. And now, apparently, we have to fight again.

I’m too exhausted to cry. We are broken, for the second time since this all started. It’s cold and drizzling. There’s a thick fog rolling in. At least it isn’t dark anymore.

“What do we do?” asks Sylvia, holding her kids close to her body.

“Same thing we’ve been doing,” answers Marco.

When he doesn’t offer anything else, Calvin steps in. “We should get the injured and the kids somewhere safe, right?”

Marco nods.

“They’re still far enough we can probably slip by them on that road—” Calvin points to the right. “—and come back out once you’re all safe inside. Shouldn’t take long to clear the island; there don’t seem to be many here.”

“It’s a big island,” says Marco. “There will be a lot more up there than you think.”

“Can’t say I’ll be much use,” says Captain Jacob, stepping forward through the group. He’s cradling his arm. I can guess what comes next: He edges his sleeve up, wincing, to reveal a definite bite near his elbow. The veins around it are black, all the way up and down his arm, peeking over the collar of his shirt.

“Captain,” breathes Amy, our doctor, “why didn’t you say something?”

“Call me Jacob; I told you. I knew it wouldn’t do any good. Happened so fast. Had to get us here either way.”

Amy examines the wound, touches his arm where the veins disappear under his sleeve. “There’s no way this hasn’t reached a main vessel by now,” she says, feeling his face for fever and shaking her head. “I’m so sorry, Jacob.”

“I appreciate it, Amy. But there’s no need. I’ll have to show someone how to drive the ferry. Murray?”

“Of course, Jacob.”

“It has been an honor to know all of you,” Jacob says. “Marco, you take care of these people. You got us this far. Soon you’ll all be safe.”

“I’m sorry, Jacob,” says Marco, who looks on the verge of tears.

“Don’t be. I did my part. I can live with the result. Or, I guess I can’t.” He chuckles at his own dark joke, but it turns into a coughing fit that makes his whole body tremble. “Come on, now, Murray. We haven’t got all day.”

Murray follows Jacob, catching him as he stumbles getting back on the boat. Jacob looks back and lifts a hand in goodbye to all of us. He doesn’t have long. Another family member lost, claimed by the infection.

“We should go,” says Ana, ever the stoic. “They’re getting closer.”

We move up the wider path as quickly as we can, although every one of us is exhausted and several of us are in some way incapacitated, so we’re not as fast as we need to be. The path switches back and forth as it ascends.

“Stay together,” Calvin whispers as the first few zombies notice us.

We do as we did last night, shuffling the less capable into the middle of our huddle as we move. However, now, so many more of us can’t fight than can. When the zombies get to us, we are less efficient than we have ever been. It takes me two hits to take down one zombie, even though I sharpened my axe the other day, and I have to put my boot on its head to get the axe back. I haven’t had to do that in ages. Calvin gets one on the first try, but it takes him a second to pull his knife free. Somehow, we escape. But just up the path, more swarm toward us. Not many, but there are always more.

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Meet the Author

M. Rose Flores has enjoyed writing since she learned how to string letters together. She grew up in the vast green Pacific Northwest of the United States, which with its dense forests, four seasons, and proximity to the ocean made a perfect setting for The End. When she isn’t writing on her computer or in a notebook (though scraps of paper and the palm of her hand will do in a pinch), she works as a professional dog trainer and loves every part of it, even the copious amounts of drool. She believes everyone should be represented in literature and all other media. The End is her first novel.

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Chain of Three by Willa Okati #scifi #gayromance @willaokati

Chain of Three (All Wrapped Up Multi-Author 4)

Cover Art by Angela Knight

 

Mix two alien Marines, a human BDSM Master, and a shapeshifting Empress with a mind of her own, and what do you get? A whole lot of trouble.

Dane and Julian, ex-war heroes now in the Empress’ service, hate each other. Hate, hate, hate. Problem? Julian wants Dane almost as much as he hates him.

The Empress needs her ex-Marines, but they’re no good to her if they’re at each other’s throats. She thinks she has a way to tame the two by putting them together with Master Anubis, a refugee from Earth.

It’s a three-way battle for dominance, and the Empress knows something she’s not telling…

Note: Chain of Three follows the standalone title Chain of Thorns, but can be read by itself. This title contains elements that may be disturbing to some readers.

 

Get it Today at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Willa Okati
An Authorized Excerpt

“So, you’re pretending to be a human again today, are you?”

Dane grunted in response. In his opinion, a stupid question didn’t deserve any kind of answer. Anyone with two, three, four or more eyes in their head or what they called a head ought to know better. Of course he’d shifted into human shape. He wasn’t stupid.

The Empress hadn’t exactly ordered Her subjects to assume the images of the humans She adored and fell passionately in love with. However, anyone who wasn’t too dumb to come in out of the rain knew they’d better wear the right “uniform” unless they had an itch to annoy Her.

You really, really didn’t want to annoy the Supreme Commander of a thousand-plus starships and a million trained warriors.

Besides, he’d decided to lounge by the pond in the garden of his new quarters that morning and tentacles had a nasty tendency to develop vicious sunburn. “Getting a tan” the earthfolk they’d rescued from their doomed planet called this practice. They’d said it was relaxing and made them look more attractive to those they wanted to mate with.

No, those they wanted to fuck.

If Dane was going to play human, then he’d damn well get the details right. Mating and fucking were completely different concepts. One of the new traditions most of his countrymen and women liked best when it came to playing human was the idea of fucking without having to tangle themselves up in mating.

“Fuck.” An interesting word you could use in almost any sentence.

Dane paused for a second to appreciate the amazing range of human obscenities, otherwise called “swearing,” “cursing,” or “cussin’.” They worked great when a guy didn’t really know what else to say.

Speaking of which, Dane decided getting a suntan was probably a piss-poor waste of time. He couldn’t figure out why anyone would enjoy damaging the pigmentation of their skin by sitting in the sun all day, but as the earthfolk also said, what the hell? He didn’t have anything better to do. Not since he’d been “honorably” discharged from the military, sent back to their home planet for recuperation, and then…

Dane shuddered.

“Aww. He shivered. Izza baby boy cold?” Julian taunted in American English.

Raising the middle finger of his human-shaped hand, Dane pointed it where he figured Julian would be standing. Another handy earthfolk trick, cussing with hand signals.

Julian hooted. “Up yours too!” He made the suggestion in cheerful good humor. Probably purely for the sake of annoying Dane. He never took offense at anything Dane did. He treated every barb and sting like some big game. Prick. “You’re cranky today, old man. What flew up your ass?”

Dane grunted again as his only answer, deciding if that wasn’t good enough for Julian he could go screw himself.

Mmm. He really, really loved human profanity. So rich, depending on culture, and so satisfying. He and Julian both studied the underground lists of new phrases together to figure out what they meant, bitching at each other over who got to read first if they didn’t both have a copy. The time when Julian insisted “son of a bitch” meant the same thing as “son of a motherless goat” had resulted in a fight of amazing violence and duration.

In the end, the Empress Herself gave them a tongue-lashing of Her own and sent them to their rooms to stand with their noses in the corner until they learned to behave like men, not children.

Julian’s fault, in Dane’s opinion. Dumbass.

 

About Willa Okati

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

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