BOOK REVIEW: Breaking the Shackles by Mell Eight #dragons #fantasy #LGBTQ @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Separated and abused by the magi, twins Laine and Baine each swore to do whatever it took to break free and save the other. But when Baine arrives at the werewolf village prepared to rescue Laine and return home triumphant, he soon learns that any plan involving a dragon and a werewolf is bound to go awry.

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MY REVIEW – 3 1/2 stars

Dragons, werewolves, and Maji … oh my!

This short novella is full of fantasy elements, a bit of mystery, a dash of suspense, and some romance… all good things, which the author blended well. I enjoy Mell Eight’s writing style and overall voice.

However, I hadn’t read book one yet and felt a bit like I’d been dropped into the middle of a more complex story I didn’t quite understand. It’s definitely not written in a way where it can be a stand alone.

The writing itself was fantastic, even if, at times, having two central couples in the story made it feel a bit jarring. I think I’d have enjoyed it more if the relationships the twins developed had been told in two separate tales.

If you like dragons and shifters, as well as LGBTQ romance, then this series will definitely entertain you.

*I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

Release Blitz: Breaking the Shackles by Mell Eight #LGBTQ #paranormalromance @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Breaking the Shackles

Series: Dragon’s Hoard, Book Two

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 23600

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, bonded mates, royalty, interspecies, mythical creatures, shifters

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Description

Separated and abused by the magi, twins Laine and Baine each swore to do whatever it took to break free and save the other. But when Baine arrives at the werewolf village prepared to rescue Laine and return home triumphant, he soon learns that any plan involving a dragon and a werewolf is bound to go awry.

Excerpt

Breaking the Shackles
Mell Eight © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The haze covering Laine’s mind faded. Slowly he became aware of his surroundings and flinched at that realization. Awareness equaled pain: pain from the knowledge of those who had been so violently lost and pain as his own flesh writhed from the cruel ministrations of the creatures that had taken control of him.

The magi, his mind hissed. The magi had taken him captive with five others of his clan. Only he remained alive. The return of memories that came with his first moments free of the haze was one of the reasons Laine so hated each return to consciousness.

As the haze further retreated, Laine expected to feel a whip on his back or an excruciating pull as his magic was forcibly drained from his body. His magic gave him life eternal, brought breath to his body, and made his heart pump. Without it, the other five of his clan had perished, gasping for air they could no longer breathe for hearts that could no longer beat. The magi stole the magic that gave them life, and they died.

Shackles surrounded Laine’s upper arms, but pain did not wrack his body. His magic felt strong and hale, as if the magi had not drawn from him in hours. Strange, and worrying. What twisted plan did the magi have in store for him now?

Laine’s surroundings came further into focus. He felt like he was riding on something. His body was lifting and lowering in the air as whatever he was tied to bounded forward. His fingers were clenched in what felt like fur.

Laine did not open his eyes. That would alert the magi that he was awake and aware, which would lead to more pain. Instead, Laine enjoyed the soothing feeling of the fur below him. His mind drifted away into a dream—one in which he watched the magi die.

Wolves howled in the woods. One of the magi tugging Laine along the tangled forest path swore. The wolves were truly wondrous creatures. They broke cover and appeared in the clearing. One wolf with a white muzzle, as if he had dipped his nose in a bottle of milk and hadn’t yet licked himself clean, stood out. That wolf killed the magi who liked to giggle when he drew power from Laine.

Two more wolves appeared, the first a female of russet color and the second a light-brown male with large black splotches on his back. Together they ripped apart the magi’s second-in-command, a man with long brown hair and light-blond stripes growing from his temples. Laine found it strange that the magi bled the same color as Laine’s back did whenever the man gleefully used his whip.

And then a beautiful dark-brown wolf with the deepest, most wonderful brown eyes appeared in front of Laine and dove directly at the magi holding him captive. The connection between them snapped as the magi used both hands to defend himself against the wolf. Laine fell to the ground, released from the magi’s clutches. Claws slashed wickedly as the wolf backed the magi into a tree. Every time the magi opened his mouth to lay a coercion spell, the wolf increased the fervor of his attacks until all the magi could do was gasp and bleed. The wolf ripped the leader of the magi’s throat out soon after. Laine glimpsed the long black hair with two white stripes growing from the temples before a spray of blood disfigured the leader’s face forever.

The dream ended with Laine sitting on the forest floor while blood and wolves surrounded him. Even in the dream he returned to the haze. Laine wished it were possible for such things to come true. For the magi to be dead and Laine to be free. Well, it was a nice dream, but reality abhorred dreams.

Laine drifted. Hours, days…he couldn’t keep track of time. He didn’t want to keep track of time.

When he came to again, the situation had grown stranger. His side was warm and he heard crackling. Was he lying in front of a fire? He lay on a real bed with feathers and a pillow. A blanket was even tucked around his body. How many years had it been since Laine had felt the comfort of a simple blanket? He didn’t keep track of time for a reason.

He knew it would alert the enemy if he moved, but Laine couldn’t help it. He curled deeper into the warmth of the mattress and pulled the blanket over his shoulders. Laine ignored the shocked whispers behind him. Surrounded by unfamiliar comfort, his body fell into a real sleep—the first in a very, very long time.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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Release Blitz: Punk Disco Bohemian by Arya F. Jenkins #LGBTQ #historicalfiction @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Punk Disco Bohemian

Author: Arya F. Jenkins

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 41300

Genre: Historical 1970s, LGBTQIA+, coming of age, Provincetown, 1970s, historical, memoir, multicultural, jazz, disco, women, queer, lesfic

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Description

It’s the 1973 and seventeen-year old, multicultural Ali is on the run from suburbia, since her best friend has left for college and home has turned into a nightmare—a druggy brother and a mother who has hooked up with another man since Ali’s father disappeared.

Ali wants to let loose, find herself sexually, experience real freedom, and she hopes to do this in the one place she remembers being happy as a kid, when her family spent summer vacations on Cape Cod.

Provincetown has always represented freedom with a capital F to Ali. In the 1970s, Provincetown is a queer mecca, afire with gay people and a burgeoning disco scene. Ali quickly gets sucked into a partying lifestyle and starts sleeping around to gain experience. For Ali, it’s a time of growth and unraveling, of coming to terms with truth while letting go of the past. But Ali’s search could come at a price. Will she find herself? Love? Freedom? And is she willing to pay the price for them?

Excerpt

Punk Disco Bohemian
Arya F. Jenkins © 2021
All Rights Reserved

When it came time to fly, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” accompanied me on the radio. I turned up the volume and beat the wheel of the Rabbit with the heel of my palm. I was going to the Garden of Life. I rolled down the window and let the November wind whip my hair. Next came “Dazed and Confused.” I heard go, go, go, go in my head while the fuzzy image of a cat on my windshield, probably no more than a mirage of cigarette smoke, impelled me on.

“You begin the moment you believe you can fly,” I had written in my diary, unsure of what I meant, liking the sound of the words, enthralled with the idea of flying and beginnings.

Behind me I had my Spanish guitar and small stereo system, both gifts from Dad, red ski jacket, lamb’s wool vest, rolled-up sleeping bag, pillow, knapsack with a couple of changes of clothes and, ridiculously, a pair of white tennis culottes I’d worn months before as if I was heading into summer, toothbrush, comb, journal, pens, Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying, and a cardboard box in which were albums by Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck, and John Coltrane that had belonged to Dad, as well as my own eclectic collection by Santana, Richie Havens, Nina Simone, Deodato, Elton John, James Taylor, Cream, Joni Mitchell, and Led Zeppelin, each thing precious, a memento.

I’d taken off in the car meant to be my brother’s and mine and imagined Buddy peeved as hell, realizing he would have to mooch rides now that his wheels were gone. It was his fault for ripping me off, taking money I’d stashed inside a book from my job at a gift shop to save up for now. Who else would have done it?

When it came time to gas up, I went to the nearest phone booth to do the one thing I did not want to do that day, call home.

“Yes, operator. Collect. Mrs. Baines, from Ali. The number is 2-0-3-9-6-6-5-3-7-3.” A few rings beat slow time to my racing heart, and then someone picked up.

“Hey, Maman, Ali here.” I tried to be casual. “I want you to know I’m not coming home.”

“Ali, where are you?” Mom’s voice sounded remote. I gave no answer. Then she said, “Are you sure?”

“Nowhere. I’m not coming home. That’s all you need to know. Bye, Mom.”

The words “I hope you and Buddy will be okay” came to me, but why would I say them? Sentimentality would derail me from my goal. Buddy, Mom, and Dad were all part of the past now.

Three years before, at fourteen, I’d run off to Greenwich Village. My dress rehearsal, I think now. I felt pulled in a hundred directions at home and school, and I had nightmares from which I awoke in a sweat. In one, I saw myself crucified on a cross while being split in two. In another, I ran through woods only to come upon an empty box through which wind whistled. Why did that scare me so? The songs of the day, Marvin Gaye’s “What’s Goin’ On” and others by The Temptations, Edwin Starr, Simon and Garfunkel, and James Taylor, all spoke to feelings I tried to hide. Angst and despair were roiling the country too.

Whose hand did you reach out to, to pull you out of the darkness? I didn’t know. I listened to songs, hoping to learn. All I got was turmoil and my body telling me to run. One day, instead of going to school, I turned in the opposite direction from the bus and just kept going.

To myself I was something strange, cut out of myriad boxes, unfit to be part of anything. In first or second grade, a kid at school asked me, “Are you a savage?” I had the distinction of being the only brown kid in my class and the entire school. Maman had a dark complexion too. It would be years before I would see a Black person or anyone of color in New Canaan. Its main street glimmered white, its people were white, its clubs white, its ethos white. In this cold, subtly and blatantly exclusionary world, white middle-class women who had been abandoned, divorced, or widowed were at the bottom of the white tier, and suffered too. I got to see that close up.

As a kid I was the odd one out. My exotic, buxom Argentinean and French mother might have been in movies. My eyes were dark and fierce; my hair, black with reddish highlights, like Gra-mere’s. I have never known anyone besides us with hair naturally like that. My fluency in three languages, all of which I went in and out of easily with my parents and grandparents, added to my feeling different, like a nerd. In a family with a beautiful mother and a brother who resembled our handsome blond American dad, I was the alien.

My first time taking off, I hitchhiked toward New York City and spent my first night in a gas station bathroom. The next day I hit the West Village, where I hung with hippies, druggies, and other runaways, all of us following the same trail of dope and free music in St. Mark’s Place and Washington Square Park. I spent most of the time panhandling, my hand out, head down, leaning against buildings or standing on corners. Hardly anyone gave me a dime. Passersby glimpsed a skinny kid with hair in front of her face, wearing a tie-dyed top, jeans, and filthy Converse high-tops, a cigarette dangling from her fingers or mouth, every parent’s worst nightmare—maybe every kid’s too.

I tried going with the flow to survive. If what I went through at home was bad, this too was a kind of hell. One time, two bikers fought over me when I hadn’t said a word to either, not even given them a look. I tried not to look at people, afraid my stares set fires. One of the guys, a Vietnam vet, said whenever he rode his bike, he hallucinated trails from his acid-taking days. The burly one with a beard and leather vest called him full of shit. Somehow, I became a subject, and their fistfight drew a crowd, which allowed me to escape! Another time, a greasy-haired hippie with stained front teeth peered into my eyes and, cocking his head, inquired, “Do you know where it is? Tell me where it is, baby.” Those weird times spooked me.

On the streets, Blacks and whites commingled freely in a diverse scene, a world in which to be different was an emblem rather than mark against you. You were looked up to for it. I no longer felt isolated like at home, no longer imprisoned by false, stifling selves. Only as a runaway did I begin talking about myself and my life. There were so many stories on the street, and they interlaced like multicolored threads, a quipu of history.

“Your gra-mere must have been some crazy babe,” Leroy said after I told him how my mother’s mother, someone I loved madly, would do backbends while balancing a full champagne glass on her forehead.

“Yeah, like the Jimi Hendrix of grandmas, a surprise around every corner.”

“I love it. I love it,” he said.

Leroy was tall, slim with beautiful, expressive hands, and made me think of Hendrix, save for the mole high on his right cheek and his moss-green eyes. He had lost two older brothers, Jamal and Tyrone, in prison gang fights. After his mama died, Leroy turned to the streets, making enough to get by sewing people’s clothes, patching them up in exchange for money and stuff. He always had a basket at his side of discarded materials people had given him, along with his sewing needles and threads, and wore patchwork jeans like a colorful trip.

Ingenious and talented, he took a white silk sash and made a turban around my head. “You look like a swami”—then wrapped it around my body—“Now you are Artemis.” He scrunched up his nose, putting one closed hand under his chin. “Actually, you look more like Audrey Hepburn in the party scene of Breakfast at Tiffany’s.” We laughed. I wore the sash as a belt, then as a scarf for days.

All Leroy wanted, he said, was to live free and avoid prison. In ’63, as a boy, with his brother Tyrone already behind bars for dealing dope, he and his mother marched in DC and attended Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech.

“Air was electric, man. I never saw so many Black folks and white folks together in my life. Like heaven. After that, we got the rights.” He shook his head, full of irony. “People of color ain’t ever gonna be free long as white people run the world.”

I closed my eyes to mull his words, adding to myself, white men, as long as white men rule.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Arya F. Jenkins’s fiction has been published in many journals and zines. Her short stories have received several nominations for the Pushcart Prize. She is the author of three poetry chapbooks and a short story collection, Blue Songs in an Open Key (Fomite, 2018). Another collection, Angel in Paris & Other Stories, is forthcoming through NineStar Press in 2022.

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Now in Paperback: Paranormal B&B by M.D. Stewart #LGBTQ #darkfantasy @gooseandmindi

A sexy ghost, a demon, a vampire, a Drag Queen, and a Halfling find their true mates in this small town.

Born for You (Paranormal B&B 1): Matson — Being gay in my little town? It’s not been easy. The ghost of a murdered man tugs at my heartstrings. Is he real, or just a figment of my imagination?

Born an Empty Soul (Paranormal B&B 2): Killian — I’m a singer in a famous indie band, but I’ve been alone for a century, living off others’ pain — until I meet my mates. Now I have to do everything I can to convince them they are mine, or I’ll die.

Born a Changeling (Paranormal B&B 3): Ben — I try not to let my daughter have everything she wants, but I can’t say no to keeping the large cat she finds while we’re on vacation. Then the cat turns into a very sexy man who crashes into my life and steals my heart.

Born A Halfling (Paranormal B&B 4): Jessie — I met Michael in Afghanistan, and helped the injured Marine heal in body and soul. When we meet again at Chasers, a gay bar, where he’s a Drag Queen, I still want him — and the man he’s in love with.

Born a Demon (Paranormal B&B 5): Conner — I never thought I’d want a future with another man, but I want one with Rager, a demon from a different dimension. I can forgive his past transgressions, but is happiness really possible when I learn my entire life has been a lie?

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EXCERPT

Copyright ©2021 M.D. Stewart
Excerpt from Born For You

Josiah

Life gets boring when you’ve been haunting the same area for over a hundred years. Especially since no one came by for me to scare anymore. The one thing I did look forward to were the visits by the man standing at the edge of the trees.

Matson Gannon Ashby.

I’d watched him grow up. When he was a child, he’d stop by and I could hear his heart pounding in fear. But as he aged, he’d started to talk to me. He’d bring silver coins to toss into the woods each time he came. And each time he did it, he said, “For you, Josiah.”

It pissed me off at first, thinking he was being sarcastic, since I was murdered for greed. I had heard his grandfather telling him how I was killed for my hidden stash of money and my mother’s jewels. Matson seemed sincere though, and with each visit, he tossed the coins.

So I started watching him. It’s not like he could see me; I’d just get closer to him and watch his face. In time, I looked forward to his visits, which grew infrequent after he went to college. Seeing him now made my heart pound.

I was surprised by my reaction to him. When he was a child, I’d felt protective of him, almost like a guardian. As he grew up, my feelings changed from wanting to watch over him, to wanting to touch him. My cold, dead heart felt like a flower blooming inside my chest every time he stopped by for a visit. I didn’t understand why I felt these feelings. I’d never had tender feelings for any human being. Why would I? I went from a fifteen-year-old child to an injured war veteran, to a murdered man and finally to a bitter, avenging ghost.

And yes, I had slain my killers. It hadn’t been difficult to find them. My murder felt like a glowing connection from me to the bastards who’d shot me. I began to haunt them, whisper in their ears, run my finger down their bodies, leaving chill bumps. I drove them crazy, made them question their life’s choices. After all, they’d never even found my hidden stash — I was shot and killed for no reason.

Once I realized my body could cross the thinned Death Veil on Halloween and become corporeal, I’d hunted the men down and killed them, one by one. Once I had my revenge, I never used the thinning Veil between the worlds again. I’d never wanted to be human again.

Until now.

In many ways, Matson’s visits gave me the peace that had eluded me my entire life, as both human and specter. I got attached to him and could follow him home and keep him safe from the Other Things that live between his world and mine.

Humans have no inkling about the paranormal side of things. Which, believe me, is a good thing. Ghosts aren’t the only beings that go “bump in the night.” Angels and demons are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Most times these magical beings like to stay hidden from humans, but some creatures like to attach to the weaker ones and siphon off their essence. There’s some scary stuff that’s hidden from human beings. Be thankful for that.

But this particular visit of Matson’s felt…different. He drew me, called me to him. I felt his loneliness, and for the first time, I saw him as an adult. When he made the invitation for me to come to him, I couldn’t resist. I bent down and picked up the silver dollar and placed it in my pocket before I slipped into the car beside Matson.

I had visited the big house a few times when Etta Jo got older. When she passed, I helped her cross over, something that never happened with me. Either no one on the Otherside cared enough to guide me, or I didn’t deserve it.

But Etta was a powerful medium. She could communicate with me and frequently did over the years. It established a deeper link between her family and me. That was ironic, because her great-grandfather was one of my killers.

Now, as Matson got out of the car and walked into the house, I could see the sadness cross his features. As he stood in the living room, I reached my hand out and touched his shoulder. To my shock, he placed his hand over mine. Or to be more precise, through it. I don’t know if he knew it was me or if he thought it was Etta Jo, but my touch comforted him. My heart broke for the pain he was suffering.

I had no idea how long we stood there before he whispered he was fine. I got the feeling he needed time alone to process his grief.

I went outside, and lost track of time. When you’re a spirit, time ceases to mean anything. I wondered why I wanted to be so close to Matson. I’ve seen hundreds of people in my specter-life. None drew me as he did, though I was more than one hundred years older. Hell, even if I’d been human, I’d be too old for him. I was fifty-three when I died, and Matson was about thirty.

Wait, what was I thinking? Too old for him?

I’d have to be crazy to feel that way about another man. I’d never been attracted to men before. Had I? I was only fifteen when I joined the Confederate Army. Sixteen when I was shot and seventeen when I came home from war. Then I spent my entire life bitter and alone. I’d never kissed another human being. I never wanted to. But something about Matson called to me. Could I really have sexual desires toward another man? I wasn’t sure, but I knew, if I were human, I’d want to find out with the man in that house.

My body began to tingle, and suddenly I needed to get inside. I needed to be near Matson. And I wasn’t going to let my fears stop me.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I grew up in southern West Virginia, where I spent hours, drawing, watching television and reading. As a result, I combined my love of science fiction (unashamed Trekkie) and romance (thanks to mom’s Harlequin Romance Novels collection) to create my own Universe. I hope my books can transport you to faraway worlds where there’s always a happily ever after!

Release Blitz: The Acquisition by Rachel Ford #contemporarythriller #LGBTQ #suspense @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: The Acquisition

Author: Rachel Ford

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 94600

Genre: Contemporary Thriller, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, lesbian, action/adventure, reverse hero’s journey, suspense, humorous, revenge, workplace drama/office workers, tech secret espionage, pets, cruise ship, violence with guns, family drama

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Description

When Sutherland Bio buys up the little bio research firm Human Resources specialist Angela McCormack works for, she tries to adapt. Even though her shady new boss’s smarminess and sexism makes her stomach turn. She sticks it out through the verbal abuse, and through the benefit cuts and layoffs.

But when her boss, George Sutherland Jr., tasks her to recruit replacements for the people he laid off—and lets it slip that the layoffs were just part of a regime change strategy—she’s ready to throw in the towel. As much as she hates the idea of shoveling manure again, she’d rather return to her family’s farm and petting zoo than stay with Sutherland Bio.

Then George Jr. takes a particularly bad day out on her. And Angela decides she’s tired of the humiliation. She’s going to fight fire with fire. She makes it her mission to fill George Jr.’s team with the worst possible candidates she can find.

But she didn’t take into account falling for one of the new hires. All of a sudden, she’s not sure she wants to leave. Not yet.

And that’s just the first chicken to come home to roost. Little does she know, George has plenty of secrets of his own. And when one of them turns deadly, Angela will have to rely on her handpicked sabotage crew for survival. She might just wish she was back home shoveling manure after all.

Excerpt

The Acquisition
Rachel Ford © 2021
All Rights Reserved

You don’t piss off the person making your food. You don’t piss off the woman who gave birth to you. And you don’t piss off the HR lady. Everyone knows that.

Everyone, it seemed, except George Maxwell Sutherland, Jr. As with most memos, George Maxwell Sutherland, Jr. had missed that one. Along with the one about manners. And treating employees with respect. And showering every day instead of wearing a bucket of cologne to work.

Angela McCormack wrinkled her nose and stared at her boss’s feet. They were at eye level since he had them propped up on his desk. The sight made her stomach turn a little. It wasn’t so much the untrimmed talons on the ends of his toes, or the hobbit-like growth of untamed hair. It was the fact that she could see them at all. And the no-feet-on-the-furniture and don’t wear flipflops into work when you’re the CEO memos.

Yes, there were quite a few memos George Maxwell Sutherland, Jr. had missed. But at the moment, it was the one about not downsizing people out of their jobs just to recreate the same position two months later that weighed the heaviest on her mind. Because, unless she’d misunderstood everything he had just said, that’s what he was doing here. And despite George’s propensity to torture a simple sentence into a longwinded monologue for the sole pleasure of hearing himself talk, she was pretty sure she hadn’t got it wrong.

“Excuse me, Mr. Sutherland,” she said, “just to clarify, we’re refilling the positions we just downsized?”

He cocked an eyebrow up at her. “No, not at all. These are different positions, Angie.”

God, she hated when he called her Angie. “Yes sir, I heard you say that. But if I’m understanding you, the titles will be different, but the positions will fill the same basic function as before. We’re looking for an IT team lead to replace Dawn. You need a Director of Business Services to pick up where Mark left off, and so on?”

He flashed her a toothy grin that, she supposed, he assumed was charming. It wasn’t. It was the kind of smile she’d expect from someone selling a car that probably wouldn’t make it out of the lot. “Now you’re getting it. You know how it goes. New era, new regime. If I’m going to do this right, well, I need people I can trust.”

He studied her for a long moment with keen blue eyes. “That’s why I kept you on. I had a good feeling about you. And you know what I say—I’m a man who goes with his gut.”

Angela McCormack forced a smile and lied through her teeth. “Of course, sir. You can always trust me.”

“Don’t call me sir. Call me George.” He smiled again. He smiled too much for her liking. Grinning CEO’s, smiling politicians, and gas station sushi: she reserved the same measure of trust for each of them. “Now, I’d like these listings up by Friday. Is that something we can do?”

We. As if he’d lift a finger to help.

“I’ll get the drafts to you by the end of the day tomorrow. If the revision process goes smoothly, I don’t see why not.”

He nodded. “Excellent. Excellent. Well, that was all I had, then. Oh, my dry cleaning’s not back yet, is it?”

“No sir. I mean, no, George.”

He winked and clicked his tongue as a kind of sound effect to match the finger guns he aimed her way. “That’s better. I don’t like a formal workplace. I’m all about casual. I think it builds better morale. Don’t you?”

Angela smiled and lied again. “Oh, absolutely.”

She had nothing against casual, as long as it wasn’t the kind of casual that involved dirty hobbit feet on the desk. But George had come into Fenwood Bio like a whirlwind, laying off staff, axing benefits, and implementing draconian cost reduction programs within his first two weeks. The turnover rate was already higher than the layoffs. Which was one of several reasons why she was currently filling the role of the entire HR department, as well as admin, IT department, and supply requisitions. All for the same salary as before, of course, but with a much slimmer retirement package, and no life insurance benefits.

No, Angela McCormack didn’t want to hear the word “morale” pass his lips. He’d personally shredded every last bit of it and flushed it down the toilet.

“Me too. You might say, it’s one of my core philosophies.” He nodded, to himself it seemed, then added, “Well, I’ll let you get to work, then.”

She didn’t mind the dismissal. Hell, it couldn’t come soon enough as far as she was concerned. “Right.”

Retreating to her office and closing the door after her, Angela breathed out a long sigh of relief. She hadn’t been afraid he’d called her in to lay her off. He’d gotten that out of his system within the first few weeks. Still, she’d seen so many come and go, she would have been lying if she said the thought hadn’t occurred to her.

Mostly, she detested him. And she had the kind of face that didn’t know how to use its inside voice. When someone tripped her BS trigger, well, her face broadcast it loud and clear before she even realized it.

George Maxwell Sutherland, Jr. lived in the BS zone. And Angela McCormack needed her job. She had a mortgage and a house she loved. Sure, she could have found a job elsewhere that would have paid as well, or maybe a little better. But she didn’t want to give up her house. Not after all the years she’d spent restoring it, a room at a time.

Nor did she want to leave Fenwood. She’d grown up here, and she planned to grow old here. Older, she thought with a sour glance at the calendar. She’d be thirty-five in two days. She didn’t want to have to start over at thirty-five.

And that’s exactly what finding a new job in human resources would be. Fenwood Bio—now Sutherland Bio Research—was the biggest employer in the area, and those companies that did have HR departments weren’t hiring.

She knew because she’d checked. So, if she was going to find another job, it would mean leaving the area. It would mean moving a hundred miles south, or seventy-five miles north, or even farther east and west.

Fenwood was one of those smack-in-the-middle-of-nowhere towns, with more cows and horses than people. You either loved it or hated it.

Angela loved it, and she didn’t want to leave.

So, she pulled open her archaic software suite and started filling in the job listings they’d talked about. Did it make her a modern-day Judas Iscariot, helping this son of a bitch after he’d fired so many of her friends on the pretense that their jobs were redundant, now that Sutherland Bio Research had acquired them?

Maybe. Then again, Judas didn’t have a mortgage. Angela stared at the screen, trying to focus on the work. But the work didn’t—couldn’t—make up for the feeling in the pit of her stomach. The feeling of betrayal that left her a little sick. God, I hate this job.

She started as her messenger application dinged. Glancing at the clock on her desktop, she frowned. Somehow, half an hour had already passed.

Angela brought up the messenger window and groaned. It was George, and he’d flagged the chat as a high priority.

Can you come to my office?

Grimacing, she typed, On my way.

Angela practiced her fake smile on the way. It probably wouldn’t have convinced anyone who wasn’t as obtuse as George, but at least it wouldn’t be scary. Or, so she hoped anyway.

She knocked on his closed door and immediately heard, “Come in.” She did, and Sutherland smiled at her. “Ah, Angie. Thank goodness. We’ve got a situation.”

Oh no. “Oh?”

“I forgot I had an appointment this morning.”

“Really? I didn’t see anything in your schedule.”

“Oh, I forgot to tell you about it. I would have had you add it to the calendar. But that’s not the issue. Point is, we don’t have anything for them to eat.”

Now, she did grimace. So far this month, he’d sent her on eighty-some dollars’ worth of coffee runs, lunch pickups, and pastry runs. For a millionaire, Mr. Sutherland was chronically short of cash. It had all gone on “the tab.”

The tab didn’t exist, except as a figment of his imagination. Angela had her doubts that it would ever be settled. He’d pay off ten or twenty bucks here and there. But it always seemed larger than whatever cash he happened to have on hand.

“What did you have in mind?”

“Oh, I don’t know. Whatever you can find.”

“When are they going to be here?”

“Nine-thirtyish. Maybe ten. I’m not really sure. They were going to be here when they could. They’re flying in from Philly. Shit.” He shook his head. “I need to have something here for them. They probably haven’t eaten yet.”

Despite herself, Angela felt his tension get to work on her mind. “Well, I can put a call into Tealeaves & Coffeecake. I’m sure we can get a breakfast tray.”

He nodded. “Good. Good, their stuff is good. For Fenwood food anyway. See if you can get one of those breakfast quiches, and pastries.”

“Will do.”

“Nothing with mushrooms though. I can’t stand them.”

“Got it.”

“Oh, and what are we going to do about coffee?”

“I’ll make sure we have a pot freshly brewed by nine-thirty.” It wasn’t her job, but if it quelled a panic? Well, Angela would do it.

But George wrinkled his nose. “I’m not going to force them to drink that crap.”

She blinked. “You mean, the office coffee?”

He nodded as if she was agreeing with him somehow. “You’ll have to get one of those jugs of coffee. French roast. You know how I like it.”

“All right,” she said, then added, “I’ll let you know how much it costs.”

He nodded absently. “Sounds good. Thanks, Angie, you’re a lifesaver.”

“Anytime,” she said, leaving his office before the scowl set in.

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Meet the Author

Award-winning author Rachel Ford is a software engineer by day, and a writer most of the rest of the time. She is a Trekkie, a video gamer, and a dog parent, owned by a Great Pyrenees named Elim Garak and a mutt of many kinds named Fox (for the inspired reason that he looks like a fox).

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Release Blitz: Siren’s Love Song by Alexa Piper #LGBTQ #urbanfantasy @prowlingpiper

Title: Siren’s Love Song

Series: Elvenswood Tales 4

Author: Alexa Piper

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: September 3, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 124

Genre: Romance, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Gay, Magic, Vampires, Zombies, Action Adventure, Paranormal, Urban Fantasy

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Synopsis

As a siren, Mike has a voice to sway a human heart. But he is a lawyer first, and when he meets a cute librarian, it’s Mike who is being swayed. Before the siren knows it, a chance meeting is turning into passionate love.

Corvin loves books and is passionate about being a librarian. When a tall, dark, and extremely handsome lawyer walks into his life, he is over the moon and in love. Yes, Mike likes humming and singing, and Mike’s boss is a little odd, but Corvin knows Mike loves him, and that is all that counts.

Mike has been keeping his siren nature a secret from Corvin, and with each passing day, with each step they take toward each other, telling the human he loves what Mike truly is becomes more difficult for Mike. Yet, when they are about to leave the city and take a beach vacation so Mike can work up the nerve to tell Corvin, a jealous necromancer ex shows up and tells Mike he wants him back. Now, Corvin needs to know what Mike really is. All Mike can do is hope that their love will be enough to make Corvin accept him as worlds and desires clash.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Alexa Piper

Mike had always thought that the background music the supermarket near New Elvenswood’s university campus spouted from the hidden speakers was about as cultured as a day-old piece of gum stuck to the sole of a smelly running shoe, yet here he was. Granted, he hadn’t come for the music, but for the almost ridiculously wide selection of spices on offer. Specifically the cayenne pepper was the best and Mike’s reason for enduring the music. Two baggies of the stuff were already in Mike’s shopping basket.

Mike let his eyes wander over the various salts the market had in stock. They had anything from pink to black, from coarse to fine, and a part of Mike was wondering why he was even bothering with the fancy ones when he really just needed salt for cooking, for pasta water essentially. He sighed, scratched the back of his head, and picked out a pink variety, which went into his shopping basket to keep the cayenne pepper company.

I think pink salt from some mine somewhere on another continent just became the highlight of today. Mike thought back to the rest of the day, which he’d spent reviewing contracts for a selkie client.

Mike left the spice aisle behind and headed to the produce section. He enjoyed cooking, even after a long day, because something about preparing the food without hurry just made him relax. He liked cooking for friends as well but had never minded just doing it for himself. As he picked out bell peppers, Mike began to hum a low melody, which barely drowned out the ugly background music the store used to torture all shoppers.

Turning to the ginger root, Mike caught sight of another shopper, though he actually looked at the shopper only after he saw the man’s T-shirt. I am a DRAGON, look how I boar, it read, displaying a grumpy cartoon boar, half hidden by a pink dragon costume. That T-shirt was wonderfully ridiculous, and Mike found himself smiling.

The man who wore it under a neat black denim jacket didn’t notice. He was too engrossed with the pineapples, picking one up and giving it a critical look, then putting it down again and subjecting its neighbor to the same scrutiny. The whole thing looked, for lack of a better word, cute.

Mike cleared his throat, and the man looked from his pineapple to Mike. Dragon T-shirt had brilliant green eyes. “You want them just slightly soft when you squeeze the shell. Definitely not hard,” Mike told the other man.

“My mother told me not to trust men who have such strong opinions about pineapples,” Dragon T-shirt said. His blond hair fell over his eyebrows and almost tangled in his dark lashes, and Mike felt the sudden urge to brush those soft curls out of the way. Dragon T-shirt had a bubbly voice, a bit higher than Mike’s own, and with an excitable, bright echo to it.

Mike nodded thoughtfully. “I assure you, that was no opinion, just an observation.” He leaned over the pile of ginger root in front of him. “But if you care for my opinion, it’s the dragon fruit lovers who are all kinds of trouble.” He tilted his head. “Nice T-shirt, by the way.”

To Dragon T-shirt’s credit, he never looked down to his own T-shirt. “Thank you. I like a man who knows soaring fashion when he sees it.” He blinked, then held out the pineapple to Mike. “Check this for me.”

Mike took the offered fruit. It felt fine to him, but he still walked around the aisle until he stood next to Dragon T-shirt. Mike put the pineapple he’d been handed back down and picked out another, made a small show of examining it, and then handed that to Dragon T-shirt. “Here. This’ll be sweet.”

And Dragon T-shirt actually licked his bottom lip before he took the fruit from Mike. Their fingers brushed against each other’s, and Mike wanted to launch into a low hum at the contact, but he didn’t. Few supernaturals would willingly stick out like Dragon T-shirt, and so Mike had to assume this cute man with a hankering for pineapple was all human.

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Meet the Author

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter, and subscribe to her newsletter!

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

Tomorrow’s Hero by Thom Collins

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

Genres:

CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
SPORTS

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Book Description

 

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“No thanks.”

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

“You know I have a girlfriend.”

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

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About the Author

Thom Collins

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

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

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

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Release Blitz: The Midnight Man by Kevin Klehr #LGBTQ #contemporaryromance @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: The Midnight Man

Author: Kevin Klehr

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/30/2021

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 52200

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, fantasy, family-drama, romance, gay, established couple, dreams, cheating, mother/son relationship

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Description

Stanley is almost fifty. He hates his job, has an overbearing mother, and is in a failed relationship. Then he meets Asher, the man of his dreams, literally in his dreams.

Asher is young, captivating, and confident about his future—everything Stanley is not. So, Asher gives Stan a gift. The chance to be an extra five years younger each time they meet.

Some of their adventures are whimsical. A few are challenging. Others are totally surreal. All are designed to bring Stan closer to the moment his joyful childhood turned to tears.

But when they fall in love, Stan knows he can’t live in Asher’s dreamworld. Yet he is haunted by Asher’s invitation to “slip into eternal sleep.”

Excerpt

The Midnight Man
Kevin Klehr © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Stanley gazed into the fridge as he waited for his partner, Francesco, and their conquest for the night to stop smooching at the front door and come inside.

He checked for eggs and milk. He was thankful there were chives in a container so breakfast for their guest could be a tad more exotic. But he’d have to go easy on the toast as there were only three slices of sourdough left, and he didn’t want to open the boring old multigrain.

He closed his eyes to recall the night. Their plaything was licking his lips with just the right amount of tongue when he propositioned Francesco at the nightclub. He hadn’t even noticed Stanley.

But if the couple didn’t respond to the young man’s request, he’d move on to the next potentials and Stanley and Francesco would have to choose between those altered by alcohol or happy pills. And Stanley knew those sins outstayed their welcome like bad wallpaper. Fortunately, tonight’s pickup was only slightly wired.

Francesco stumbled in the living room, trying to make martinis. Their boy was giggling like a pre-schooler who’d heard a limerick. But the disco laden images of earlier that night were still haunting Stanley.

Francesco’s workmate, Graham, had joined them with his partner, Tony. Stanley recalled the look Tony gave them when they said goodnight. As if their hookup, who wrapped his arms around Stanley and Francesco, was the victim in some lost midlife scenario reminiscent of anxious porn. Yet Graham and Tony were only ten years older than Stanley and Francesco’s toy for the night. Surely Tony would be more open-minded.

“Dinky, the martinis are ready.”

Stanley frowned at hearing his nickname. It was his curtain call to re-enter this flawed three-character play.

“Elijah can’t believe you’re fifty soon,” Francesco said, handing Stan his cocktail.

“You look so good.” The lad gazed wide-eyed for more time than naturally required. “Your hair’s thinning a little, but I know guys half your age who are seriously bald.”

“See, Dinky. Even Elijah thinks you’re handsome for your age.”

“Thank you,” Stanley mumbled. He sat on the edge of the armrest of the large sofa.

Elijah sat with his legs stretched out, enjoying the comfort of their recliner as if it was his own. He grinned at Francesco like a patient kid waiting too long for dessert.

“I hope you like scrambled eggs,” Stanley said.

“Say what?” Elijah snickered.

“You said you were staying for breakfast,” Stan replied. “You said so on the ride home.”

“Oh no.” Elijah looked horrified, as if dessert were cancelled. “You’re taking me out for breakfast.”

“He wants to be paraded,” said Francesco.

“Like a gold medal.” Stanley tried his best not to roll his eyes.

“So, what made you choose us tonight?” Francesco asked.

“You’re an established couple,” Elijah replied. “You know your shit. And you’ve dealt with your shit. Older men are so much more fun.” He turned to Stanley. “Most times I go out, I pick up an older couple.”

Stanley couldn’t help thinking how rehearsed Elijah sounded. “Has that strategy always worked?”

“Of course.”

“Really?”

Elijah stared blankly at Stanley. “Yeah, except when one guy is more uptight than the other.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

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

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

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

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

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Release Blitz: The Warrior’s Assassin by Nikki McCoy #LGBTQ #Fantasy @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: The Warrior’s Assassin

Series: Born in Sin, Book One

Author: Nikki McCoy

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 61300

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, mythical creatures (fae, jinn), incarceration, soulmates/bonding, revenge, prison escape, cliffhanger

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Description

For over a century, Kita has paid for his sins in innocence and blood. The sin of being born, for daring to exist, and for polluting the fae race with his tainted, mixed heritage. Half fae and half human, he is an abomination belonging to neither race, yet caught in the midst of their feuding.

After winning his freedom from a lifetime of slavery to the fae, a ghost from his past has come to pull him back into the depths of hell. And this time, there will be no escape.

To the world, Jacen McKenna is a gang leader, arms and drug trafficker, slaver. Labels he wears proudly to cover his true intentions. He is a warrior among his kind, dealing justice to his enemies and mercy to those without hope. He’d thought getting thrown into Babylon, a prison notorious for its inescapability, was the ultimate low point in his life. He was wrong.

From the second he laid eyes on Kita, he knew fate wasn’t done screwing him over. Beautiful, wild, and defiant, Kita brought out every protective instinct he possessed; ravaged him with emotions he never thought himself capable of. He tried to keep his distance, but fate, yet again, had other plans.

Caught in an impossible situation, they both have to learn to trust each other. But trust was a precious commodity in a world that had turned its back on them. Together, they must fight if they want to survive the war brewing in their midst.

Excerpt

The Warrior’s Assassin
Nikki McCoy © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Kita shook himself to clear his head, wondering what had made him think of that night so many years ago. Normally, his repressed memories came to him in dreams. Or, rather, nightmares.

At thirteen, he’d been foolish enough to desperately believe in Bergiese’s vision despite his cynicism. Later, he had learned to see the truth behind the pretty lie. There was no savior or salvation waiting for him somewhere down the path of his life. There was only misery and pain, and he was so incredibly sick of it all that his mind had begun to slip back into the state of bleak abjection he’d carried in his youth.

The future was a yawning maw empty of anything that made life worth living. What few reasons for happiness he’d found had faded quickly, leaving him raw and desolate. He knew it was time to end everything, yet he couldn’t bring himself to put a gun to his head and pull the trigger.

Funny how a person with no pride could consider suicide to be cowardly.

He drew back into the shadows of the alleyway when the door to the abandoned hotel opened. Nicolas Gordon, Nicki as he was known on the streets, walked out followed by a shorter man wearing a trench coat. The hood of Nicki’s sweatshirt was pulled down low to hide most of his face. Not that his poor attempts at anonymity over the past week had worked in his favor. He’d been found, and he would die tonight.

The two men spoke quietly, the steam of their breath curling in the frigid night air. They began to walk rapidly in the other direction. Kita slipped from his cover and entered the building, the squealing of rusted hinges on the door the only sound.

The area was mostly deserted, although not as run down as some of the neighborhoods he had seen. This small town, like so many scattered across the country, had had the misfortune of being located near a Crown Federation military base.

During the Islandar Civil War, more than a century ago, all of the bases had been targeted and summarily disabled. Some still lay in ruins from domestic terrorist attacks while others had been taken apart from the inside and left to rot in the wake of espionage and independent financial ruin.

Overall, Okasis fared decently in comparison. Its Federation base still functioned, which was a boon to the town’s economy, such as it was—struggling and on the constant verge of collapse.

He reached within himself for his power of pyrokinesis and sparked a small flame at his fingertip. With it, he searched the rooms on the first floor for Nicki’s belongings. If the reports were true, Nicki carried on him a laptop with information potentially disastrous to the Federation. Kita had been charged with confiscating the laptop and killing him.

Pinard, his keeper in the ISBF, Internal Security Branch of the Federation, had told him in no uncertain terms not to go through the laptop himself. However, the unusually avid interest in this mission had drawn his curiosity. The order had come from General Laurs, head of security, and was highly classified.

That in itself threw up a red flag.

Why would an insignificant peon on the low rung of society’s ladder be such a high‒profile target? The Federation didn’t send its dog on assassinations anyone could pull off. It just didn’t add up, even if the man was a renegade jinn.

He found the meager belongings in the last room amid layers of decay and rat droppings. In the duffel bag was a battered laptop one would hardly expect to find classified intel on. With the decryption device he’d liberated from Pinard’s desk, he easily hacked through its security. Two documents in particular stood out to him.

What he read in them made his blood run cold. It had to be some kind of mistake or propaganda to use against the Federation.

Yet, the more he read, the faster it became obvious this wasn’t a hoax. Most of the information contained in the documents correlated with events only the ISBF knew about. Critical threats against the Federation made over the past several decades that had been swept under the rug.

Briefly, he scrunched his eyes shut. He had hoped for something to hold against Pinard, but this… This was well beyond the limits of anything he could handle on his own.

Of all the endless ways this information could be used, only one outcome was certain. Their country would be plunged into another civil war. Serving these documents up to the general would only exacerbate the situation and quicken the inevitable outcome.

“Shit,” he hissed.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Nikki McCoy lives in the vast, open spaces of Wyoming where the wind is a beast and the snow dominates for 10 months out of the year. But the night are filled with magic and mystery.

It’s during these nights that her world becomes a collage of cunning intrigue, edgy mysteries and sexy, sometimes brutal men. She loves to let her imagination run away with her. The darker the fantasy, the greater the spoils.

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Release Blitz: Save Me by Ami Ackerman #kindleunlimited #bisexual #romancebooks @lituncorked

Save Me

Author: Ami Ackerman

Release Date: August, 30, 2021

About the Book

Kwan Park is one-of-seven in the world’s most successful boy band.

Save Me has dominated the charts and Kwan thought he had it all – his band, the family they created, and the adoration of millions of fans.

But soon he realizes something is missing.

Love.

Enter bandmates, Benedict Ross and Bailey Montgomery, who might just hold the most precious thing in their hands – Kwan’s heart.

Benedict and Kwan have a tarnished history, but Bailey offers both of them something deep and meaningful that neither of them have ever imagined.

With all three hearts on the line, they must decide if they can handle the pressure . . . both from the label and those who wouldn’t understand.

On music’s most prestigious night, Bene and Bailey ask Kwan to do the unthinkable– to go public with their relationship.

Faced with betrayal and pain, Kwan, Bene and Bailey wonder if they’ll ever be anything but beautifully broken.

Save Me: Broken is Beautiful is intended for mature readers. Please be aware that there are topics that may be triggers for some readers.

Purchase Link

Amazon ➜ www.amazon.com/dp/B096ZFPMJY

TBR ➜ https://bit.ly/3zCn4Kj

About the Author

Ami Ackerman began reading romance at the age of ten when her aunt handed her a copy of Gone With the Wind and she was immediately hooked. Since then, she has always dreamed of writing romance full-time and decided to take a chance when her best friend gave her an idea. Ami believes in love across genders and sexes and that all relationships have a place in romance. When not writing at her favorite Starbucks, Ami can be found in the mountains of Arizona daydreaming about seven men in Korea who will never know she exists.

Author Links

Facebook Author Page ➜  https://bit.ly/2TCUDwH

Facebook Reader Group ➜  https://bit.ly/3ryVgUq

Goodreads Author Page ➜ https://bit.ly/2TBJgF7

Instagram ➜  https://bit.ly/3rD88c1