Release Blitz & Review: Challenge Accepted by Jaqueline Snowe #sportsromance #friendstolovers @firstforromance @totally_bound

Challenge Accepted by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 1 in the Cleat Chasers series

Word Count: 85,147
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 329

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FRIENDS TO LOVERS
SPORTS

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Book Description


College is all about learning, right?

Most college girls ‘swipe right’ to meet the right guy—Callie meets All-Star pitcher Zade while he’s buying tampons. College is all about learning, right?

How often do you meet your dream guy buying tampons at Target? Never, right? For Callie, a baseball-loving, hardworking college student, it happened just once. The magic was too real, too fast and too much, so she left the store without exchanging names.

But fate works in wonderful ways, right?

Zade Willows, the All-Star pitcher rumored to be drafted his senior year, gets what he wants. He has a fan club who follow his every move, but when he meets Callie, the game changes. She knows all his plays and that the game always ends—in heartbreak. But Zade doesn’t back down and is willing to try anything.

He’ll eventually get the girl, right?

Reader advisory: This book was previously released by Finch Books.

Excerpt

“Get your gorgeous ass in here and give me a hug.” Greta slammed the door open with her foot and jumped into my arms. She smelled the same as she had done in high school—floral and sweet. God, I had missed the hell out of my girl. She’d always been a violent hugger and the tradition continued. My lungs were gasping for air by the time she let go.

“Sorry I’m late.” I lugged the suitcase into the apartment and grinned at her motherly expression.

“Unless the reason is some hot guy or some awesome story, then I’ll remained pissed at you for another two minutes. I got afraid—”

“That I backed out? Me?” I held up my hands in surrender. “I wouldn’t back out of our pact from ten years ago. I wouldn’t dare.”

“Glad you learned something from your year off,” she mumbled loud enough for me to hear. We both had a mutual hatred of the deal my parents had forced me to accept and I understood her anger disguised the worry about this not happening. We’d dreamed about living together since we’d become best friends in fifth grade—when two kids get caught cheating on a math test, it forms a bond that’s hard to break.

“I learned, like, two things,” I replied to her comment and she skipped to my bedroom for the next year. “This is my room?”

“Yes!” she cheered. I’d expected the room to be small and I gasped when I saw a dresser, a built-in desk and a twin bed. “Wait here, I have a present for you.”

I obeyed her command and set my cases on the floor. I could fit every piece of clothing I owned in the closet, and maybe a little more. It could even serve as an extra bedroom if needed. I’d lived in my childhood home my entire life. The last year…it had been hell taking a year off to prove to my dad I could make it on my own. Pure hell. But I’d made it and it pleased me to be on my own for the first time.

“Here. I bought it for you.” She waltzed back into the bedroom with a package wrapped in sparkly paper. Greta would buy sparkly paper. “It’s nothing big, just a welcome present.”

“You didn’t have to get me anything, Greta. Come on.” I frowned at the gift, damn well knowing her kindness knew no bounds. She shoved it into my hands, despite my reluctance. “Fine.”

I opened it up to find the very first picture of the two of us, taken when we’d been in our band in high school. I met her eyes and we shared a smile. “Good lord. Why did we name ourselves the Crazy Gals again?”

“Because our names start with C and G. Obviously that made sense when we were fourteen.”

“I regret the name choice, but still dig the outfits.” Closing my eyes in shame, I swallowed down the memory of gaucho pants, clogs and popped-collared shirts.

She shuddered. “Oh, lord. Not me. I regret the outfit, not the name.” Greta’s legs had more style than I had in my entire body. She’d won best dressed in high school. Even now, she wore a trendy sundress with a hat while I was wearing ripped jean shorts and a vintage band tank top. “I have another gift for you, but you cannot get mad.”

“That’s a great opener. No promises, G.”

“It’s kind of small.” She bit her lip and pulled out something from her pocket. What the hell? Sundresses have pockets? A shadow of apprehension crossed her face and I worried what the fuck she’d gotten me.

I took the sticker from her hand, already planning where to put it. “I freaking love it.”

“I know you really don’t play in bands anymore, but you still have the same case.” She motioned her head to the guitar case I’d set down earlier.

“Of course I do.” I collected stickers from everywhere I went or from any large moment in my life. I peeled back the paper and placed the new college sticker on the front of the case, right in the center. Big. Freaking. Deal. “Thanks, Greta.”

“Phew. I’m super happy you love it. I’d been nervous, like, what if you hated it and used your guitar to beat me senseless? Or, what if you assumed we were getting back in business?”

“Greta. Am I crazy?”

“I’ve seen you punch two girls in the face. At the same time, I might add.” She bit back a grin and pointed down the narrow hallway. “Kitchen is down the hall to the right. I already know your first question.”

“Obviously.” I eyed the tile and large counters, sighing in pleasure. They were perfect. “Those girls deserved it, though. Sure, we were in a mosh pit, but they pushed a girl in a cast.” I smiled at the memory.

“Your smile alone is why you’re crazy.”

I flipped her off and she closed the distance between us with open arms. “I’m damn glad you’re going to be my roomie. I’m proud of you. You beat your dad at his own game and I love you more because of that.”

“Love you, too. Now, that’s enough affection. I need to paint my room black or something.” I blinked away the emotions that bubbled up. Those words, coming from her, meant much more than she might ever realize.

“This is going to be hella fun!” she squealed and squished me for another hug.

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Book Review – 5 stars

Callie and Zade … a perfect match!
I loved that Callie not only enjoyed baseball, but was extremely knowledgeable of the sport. There aren’t enough Tom boys in romances. She was feisty, determined, and best of all, she didn’t give in to Zade. She made him fight to be with her, to prove he was worth her time.
Zade didn’t mind his playboy reputation until it nearly cost him the only girl who’s ever fascinated him. He’s driven, focused, but he’s never let himself fall in love… until now.
Both characters were complex and completely real. They had doubts, insecurities, hopes, dreams… just like anyone else.
I enjoyed the slow burn romance between Callie and Zade, but I especially loved their banter. Challenge Accepted is a true gem. Ms. Snowe knocked this one out of the park.

About the Author

Jaqueline Snowe

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the ‘dry heat’ really isn’t that bad. She enjoys making lists with colorful Post-it notes and sipping coffee all day. She has been a custodian, a waitress, a landscaper, a coach and a teacher. Her life revolves around binge-watching Netflix, her two dogs who don’t realize they aren’t humans and her wonderful baseball-loving husband.

You can take a look at Jaqueline’s Website and Blog and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

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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.

Giveaway

Enter to win a signed paperback copy of North Point (Jagged Shored Book 1)

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Release Blitz: Falling for You by Lea Coll #ContemporaryRomance #Forbiddenlove @LeaColl2 @greyspromo

Falling for You by Lea Coll is now live!

Callie
When I landed my dream job, I didn’t realize I’d be working with the one guy I’ve always avoided.
Jonah.
Caught off guard with a career-ending injury; he is the life and soul of every party, a likable, sociable guy on all accounts. His future relies on the success of the sports complex I’ve been hired to manage.
But…he doubts my capabilities from the get-go.
I’m tired of being underestimated, of having my capabilities judged by just my pretty face. This is my opportunity to prove everyone wrong, including Jonah.
I just never expected to fall for him, or to learn that Jonah isn’t the man he pretends to be.
Now I’m not sure if I can handle the truth.

Jonah
It only takes one injury to ruin your career and I’m not even sure I still have one. Investing in a sports complex made sense, until I realized that Callie was hired to manage it.
She’s young, beautiful and has an alluring innocence I have to remind myself to ignore. As my teammate’s personal assistant, Callie is off limits in more ways than one. She’s straight out of college, has no experience and now my future lies in her hands.
The closer we work together, the more I become captivated by her. She’s nothing like I expected her to be, but then we all hide behind masks.
Especially me.
If Callie learns the truth, both my future and my heart could be shattered.

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Meet Lea Coll

Lea Coll worked as a trial attorney for over ten years. Now she stays home with her three children, plotting stories while fetching snacks and running them back and forth to activities. She enjoys the freedom of writing romance after years of legal writing.

She currently resides in Maryland with her family. 
 
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Release Blitz: Real Players Never Lose by Micalea Smeltzer #ContemporaryRomance #SportsRomance @micaleasmeltzer @greyspromo

Real Players Never Lose by Micalea Smeltzer is now live!

I’ve heard the whispers on campus of what a player Teddy McCallister is. Most girls on campus are vying to be the one, but guys like him don’t settle down.

When he overhears that my tuition has been pulled and I’m going to basically be a college reject he makes me an offer I can’t refuse.

Be his fake girlfriend until graduation so he can get his inheritance.

It seems simple enough. I need the money and he needs someone to make him look committed.

If one thing is certain, it’s that I won’t be falling for him. But no one warned me about what happens when my fake boyfriends starts to fall for me.

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Meet Micalea Smeltzer

Micalea Smeltzer is a twenty-something author from Northern Virginia. She has four dogs, which is as crazy as it sounds. As a recent kidney transplant recipient she’s dedicated to raising awareness around the effects of kidney disease, dialysis, and transplant as well as educating people on living donation. When she’s not writing you can catch her with her nose buried in a book.
 
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New Release & Author Interview: Penalty Kicks by D.S. Dehel #sportsromance

Penalty Kicks by D.S. Dehel

Published by Changeling Press

Cover Art by Angela Knight

India Roberts can’t wait until her divorce is final, when she’ll be Ms. Jackson again. At forty, she’s waited long enough to pursue her goal of becoming a fashion designer.

What she doesn’t need is a new romance. But when soccer player Matt Bettony rescues her from a bad date and makes her night oh-so-much better, she discovers she’s ready for something else. Thirteen years her junior, he’s the perfect fit for a no-strings love affair that won’t interfere with her dream… until Matt gets other ideas.

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Interview with D.S. Dehel

BOOKS+COFFEE: When did you know you wanted to be a writer?

DS DEHEL: Words were always an integral part of who I am. Always. I knew when I was very young that I wanted to be a writer, maybe 5. I still have a story I started when I was 7.  It’s not as terrible as one would think. Even the title is a pun.

BOOKS+COFFEE: How long have you been writing, and how long did it take before your first book was published?

DS DEHEL: In terms of actively writing a book from start to finish, it’s almost six years. It took two years—and quite a few rejections–before I was published

BOOKS+COFFEE: Do you have a routine you follow when you’re working on a book? A certain time of day when you write, or a snack you keep nearby?

DS DEHEL: Not really, I know I should have a routine, but they just end up frustrating me. Usually, I write when the idea has reached a point where it has to come out. Trying before that is fruitless, and it’s crap. I’ve learned that if I am patient with myself, I can write a lot in a short amount of time that is actually useable. In some ways when the story is flowing, I get like Joan Wilder in Romancing the Stone, everything goes to hell around me until it’s done, and I will write for hours and hours. I just have to wait for story to develop enough to reach that point.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Did anyone give you writing advice when you were first getting started? Do you think it helped?

DS DEHEL: Yes. When I was in college, I took a writing class with an award winning author. He was lovely and personable, and most importantly, he told me I had potential, but he also told me that I had to write when I was young, or it would never happen. Finances and life in general wouldn’t allow me to be a writer of any sort at the time. For some, it might have been dispiriting, but I tucked away the knowledge that someone, somewhere thought I was good enough. When I had the headspace and money to allow me to consider being a writer, I set out to prove him wrong. Those two facts got me through some tough times. Like so much advice given to writers, his advice to pursue my dream then or lose it, was well-intentioned, but incorrect. When my first book was published, I reached out to him, and he told me he was proud.

BOOKS+COFFEE: What is the scariest thing you face as a writer? How do you handle it?

DS DEHEL: Before becoming a writer, I taught high school for over 25 years, because of that, very little about any job scares me. But if I had to point to one thought that troubles me from time to time, it’s that I might run out of ideas. Then I remember I taught high school for 25 years, and mining that alone would provide me enough characters and plot lines for the rest of my life.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Is there a book, movie, or song that inspires you when you’re working?

DS DEHEL: For me, it would be music before the others, but no, there isn’t one particular song that inspires me. Instead, I make a Spotify playlist and a Pinterest board for each work. Those I turn to time and again to keep me going. For example, the music that’s the soundtrack for the current idea marinating in my brain is Dua Lipa’s “Physical” and Todrick Hall’s “Hair, Nails, Hips, Heels.” It may be only those two, or I may add more. It’s hard to tell.

BOOKS+COFFEE: As a writer, I’m sure you also love reading. Do you have a favorite book and what do you love about it?

DS DEHEL: Asking me to choose a favorite book is like asking which of my children is my favorite. I can’t do it. Having said that, there are a few I revisit time and again. Chief among these is Alan Moore and Dave Gibbon’s Watchmen.  First of all, this book rocked my world as a teen, changing the way I thought about “comic books.” It’s also brilliantly written and illustrated. There is such a complex, beautifully constructed plot, so much nuance, and multi-layered characters. Each time I read, I see something different, appreciate something new. Though it may seem odd for a romance writer to point to a graphic novel, I think it is easier for me to analyze technique because it is a different genre. I’m not so caught up in comparing myself to the writer.

BOOKS+COFFEE: What do you think is the most important thing to remember when following your dreams?

DS DEHEL: For most dreams, there’s not a due date. Sure, you might be too old to be a Prima Ballerina for the New York Ballet, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be on stage and performing as long as you like.

Now, let’s talk a little about your current book…

BOOKS+COFFEE: What’s the title of your current release and is it part of a series?

DS DEHEL: My upcoming release is called Penalty Kicks. It’s part of a two-book series with the over-arching title of Game of Two Halves. The funny part is, a reader has already asked me why I’m not planning a story for each of the players on the team.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Who published Penalty Kicks?

DS DEHEL: It’s my first book with Changeling Press, and I cannot gush enough about how wonderful the process had been and how excited I am.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Your cover looks amazing. Do you know who the artist is?

DS DEHEL: Yes, Angela Knight made my gorgeous cover.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Was there something in particular that inspired you to write this story?

DS DEHEL: My husband loves soccer. He plays two to three times a week, and we watch MLS, the Premier League and the big championships. It came from doing this for the past 26 years. And let’s face it, there are lots of cute players to inspire me.

BOOKS+COFFEE: If there’s one thing a reader will take away from this story, what do you hope it is?

DS DEHEL: The main character, India, put off her dreams for her husband’s career, until she woke up one day and decided she’d had enough. It was time to live for herself, so the book is about chasing those dreams and finding true love…even if that love is seventeen years her junior.

BOOKS+COFFEE: Any funny stories you can share about writing this book, or something that sparked the idea for it?

DS DEHEL: Usually, I keep my husband far away from what I am writing, but for this, I frequently needed his advice and feedback for the soccer related sections. I know a lot about soccer, but not enough. I think he had a lot of fun helping me create the fictional team Matt plays for—The Spirit. As for an idea spark, it was probably sitting in the stadium watching my umpteenth soccer game.

About the Author

D. S. Dehel is a lover of literature, good food, and the Oxford comma. When she is not immersed in a book, she is mom to her kids and spoiling her rather pampered feline, Mr. Darcy or her equally pampered puppy, Jameson, and her slightly psychotic Australian Shepherd, Piper. Having finally retire, she spends her days dreaming up new plotlines. She adores literary allusions, writing sex scenes, and British men. Actually, make that hot men in general. Her devoted husband is still convinced she writes children’s books. Please don’t enlighten him.

Release Blitz: Hollywood to Horses by Dez Schwartz #LGBTQ #contemporaryromance @dez_schwartz @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Hollywood to Horses

Author: Dez Schwartz

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 29800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Equestrian, Horses, Sports, Rivals to Lovers, Over 40, Gay, Bisexual, Rom Com

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Description

Mateo Harris, a retired Olympic Show Jumper, achieved just about everything he could want in life. Rising from a nobody to becoming a beloved gold-medalist, co-owning H&H Riding Academy with his cousin—and best friend—Emily Hall, and he’s one of the most powerful and respected men in his hometown of Sweetspire, VA. Nothing can shake the foundations of the life he’s built for himself. That is until he hears his nemesis and former crush, Christopher Wright II, has moved back to town.

Christopher, a runaway movie star, has returned to Sweetspire to inherit the family business: Wright Stables, the only rival riding academy Mateo has ever had to worry about. With Christopher’s charm, talent, and fame taking charge, Mateo is faced with real competition both in and out of the arena. He’ll have to be at the top of his game to prove he’s still the number one equestrian in town, but every encounter with Christopher becomes as challenging as any obstacle he’s faced on horseback.

Excerpt

Hollywood to Horses
Dez Schwartz © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Mateo Harris and his black Belgian warmblood soared over a post-and-plank obstacle, then galloped in a curve to face two gates in proximity. They leapt over both with swift ease. The final stretch sent them gliding over the triple bars as they completed the course in a flawless fashion.

Mateo’s students applauded from the fence where they each sat astride their own horses, the eagerness for a chance to try the course themselves apparent.

The solid thud beneath Mateo’s riding boots reverberated through him, a satisfying crescendo indicating the finale of his performance. He believed a rider should never consider themselves finished showing until they were no longer on horseback. Although he hated to admit to himself, the ache in his right knee also grounded him in the truth—injury and age.

Defying reality, and because of his inherent showmanship, Mateo pivoted his athletic body in one graceful movement to face his pupils.

“And that’s how you win an Olympic gold medal in show jumping,” he announced. “Any questions?”

His students applauded, and he grabbed the reigns to lead his horse out of the arena.

“Why can’t you still win them?” a snide voice rang out. “Maybe you could teach us how to not fall off our horses.” The comment, which referenced an injury he sustained at his last Olympic competition, came from a tall blonde girl, Payton Parker, who Mateo found irritating on any given day; this one especially.

Most of the students appeared to hold their breath after the bold insult as if all the oxygen of the pleasant Virginian afternoon had been depleted. Their wide eyes showed they’d never dream of saying such a thing to someone so well regarded. Known for his equestrian accomplishments in the city of Sweetspire, the waitlist to get into H&H Riding Academy—the school Mateo and his cousin, Emily Hall, ran together—was as long as his list of accolades.

A few uncontrolled giggles cropped up, and Payton smirked at him to show she found the power-play to her peers worth any repercussion.

Mateo pursed his lips and produced a warning smile as he approached Payton, taking his time to remove his black riding gloves finger by finger.

He addressed her but did so loud enough so the entire class would be sure to hear him. “Your parents pay me excessive amounts of inherited money to turn entitled leeches like yourself into professional equestrians. As if any amount of funding could ever supply you with the aptitude you so obviously, and painfully, lack. You’ll be lucky to ever win so much as a participation trophy awarded for anything other than nepotism. You’re hereby dismissed from this class, Payton. In fact, because I’m feeling particularly plucky today, you are expelled. Good day, Miss Parker. I’ll expect a call from your parents as soon as the nanny reminds them they have children.”

The same student giggles returned, this time siding with Mateo and proving to be as good as a slap in the face for Payton. Fuming, she coaxed her Hanoverian toward the exit of the outdoor arena. She shouted over her shoulder as she left. “There are other riding academies, you know! I’ll go to Wright Stables! I don’t need you to win a blue ribbon!”

“I agree. You need talent!”

Nothing made him see red faster than mention of Wright Stables, his only real local competitor.

He chided himself for being drawn into an immature argument with a spoiled teenager and moved to get his class back on task.

“If anyone else would like to be expelled today, please, negligently criticize me. Otherwise, run your courses!”

Mateo waved them off, and they rushed to begin taking turns practicing the paces.

He led his prized horse, Top Shelf, back to the stables and handed him off to a stable hand. Once out of the long corridor on the other side of the luxury barn, Mateo reached inside his navy-blue riding blazer, grabbed his flask, and threw back a swig of French vodka.

He took a deep breath of the balmy late afternoon air, letting the heat of the drink warm his chest and relax him.

He spotted Cameron Myers leaning on the fencing of a corral where he had a student practicing dressage basics. The lines from Cameron’s dancer’s muscles showed through his thin white shirt whenever he leaned forward on the railing, and he combed his fingers through his wavy chestnut hair as he shouted out instructions to the student for improvement. Cameron clapped his approval when the student followed his recommendation to the letter.

He’s a much nicer instructor than I could ever be. It’s a good thing I hired him, or my student body might be severely lacking in numbers.

Cameron raised an eyebrow once he turned to Mateo. “Little early for that, don’t you think?”

Mateo found his youthful naivety charming and smiled. “Just a light afternoon snack.”

The corners of Cameron’s eyes crinkled sympathetically. “Tough day?”

“I teach overly indulged teenage millionaires how to make an animal jump over brightly colored poles for a living.” He took another drink at the thought. “Every day is tough.”

Cameron chuckled and turned his attention back to his own student. “You know you love every minute of it.”

Mateo grinned, putting the flask away. “No, you love it. I just have an affinity for collecting dead presidents.”

“You know I don’t believe that for a second.” Cameron signaled to the young rider to start their routine over. “I wouldn’t be here if that were true.”

Appreciative of his candidness, Mateo patted Cameron’s shoulder.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Dez Schwartz is a LGBTQ, Dreampunk, & Gothic Romance author and artist based in San Angelo, Texas. She holds a BFA in Studio Art and worked as a graphic artist, and a Director’s Assistant at a fine arts museum, before transitioning to writing full-time.

Her longtime love of Victorian spiritualism, gay literary fiction, and romantic comedies inspired her to begin writing all of the stories she wished existed.

When she’s not passionately crafting tales, she can be found drawing, researching, or traveling with loved ones.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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COVER REVEAL: Perfectly Wrong by Roxanne Tully #sportsromance #PerfectlyWrong

Perfectly Wrong (a novella) by Roxanne Tully is coming on July 12th. 

It is a steamy billionaire standalone, full of mystery, intrigue and romance. 

Add to TBR: https://geni.us/pwmb3

Blurb:

Madison Drake is out to get me—only she doesn’t know who I am or how to reach me. Most importantly, she doesn’t know where to start.

The newly promoted sports reporter is dying to sink her claws (or mic) into the New York Falcon’s new team owner.

Yours Truly.

You see, I recently purchased my favorite baseball team as a silent anonymous partner. I have no intention of revealing my identity…especially where the media is involved. Everything was going smoothly until someone leaked that the team had a new mystery owner. And now, every reporter in Manhattan wants to be the one with the scoop.

It was by absolute chance that I met Ms. Drake—scout’s honor. It wasn’t until she introduced herself after feeling guilty for insulting my existence at a bar, that I even knew about her new mission. And something about her told me she wouldn’t give up like all the others did.

The only way to ensure she doesn’t expose me, is to get close to her. So close that she would never know that she’s dealing with one and the same man.

Perfectly Wrong is the 3rd book in the heartracing series; The Manhattan Billionaires.

Release Blitz: Rounding the Bases by Jaqueline Snowe #sportsromance @jaquelinesnowe @Totally_Bound

Rounding the Bases by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 3 in the Out of the Park series

Word Count: 68,681
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 269

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
SPORTS

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Book Description

What happens when a summer fling doesn’t end with the season?

Sarah Blue has one dream—to open her own pet boarding business. When she receives an offer to spend three months in a penthouse looking after two dogs, she intends to do the best dog-sitting job possible, and focus on her business plan. What she didn’t expect was to run into a stranger so handsome that she could barely put two words together at the sight of him.

And she certainly didn’t expect him to live across the hall and befriend her.

Brigham Monaghan’s reputation is on the line. After an arrest that went very public, his future as an outfielder with Los Soles isn’t guaranteed. With his life a total mess, he welcomes the distraction from the blue-haired girl across the hall who not only doesn’t know his name, but hates sports. It’s the perfect situation.

But things get complicated when what was supposed to be summer fun and flirting turns into something more. Sarah’s business takes off, where Brigham’s future is barely hanging on by a thread. With the odds stacking up against Brigham, Sarah can’t help questioning his motives. Did he fall hard for her, like she did him, or is it just a PR ploy?

Either way, he’s going to break her heart…

Excerpt

The constant battle of how mature to act raged inside me. Yes, I could flip off my parents, but what good would it do? They’d scoff and pretend they had never in their wildest dreams raised a daughter with the audacity to do such a thing. Flipping them off would feel good for three seconds before the regret would sink in and I’d drink about it later.

So I did the adult thing and kept my big mouth shut.

“We don’t want to discourage you from pursuing…your dreams.” My dear mother choked on her words and I swore my dad’s face turned even redder. “But is this really a way to make a living?”

Maturity is important. I tapped my rainbow-colored nails—because Pride week was soon and I was absolutely an ally—and forced a tight smile. “I appreciate your concern, but I happen to love my plan.”

“It’s not beneath you?” my dad asked, looking around us in the café like his uptight friends would jump out and laugh at his offspring. “Pet sitting?”

“I don’t have the patience for vet school and I love animals. It pays pretty well and I’m off your payroll, so why do you care? I’m saving up to open up my dream business. I have a plan, if you cared to ask about it.”

Oh, I was feeling ballsy. My best friends Megan and Ethan would cheer me on if they could have witnessed this exchange. I got a little thrill at rebelling when they got more flustered.

“It is just not a sturdy profession, Sarah Belle.”

The first and middle name. They might as well cut me out of the will now. I sighed and made sure to cause a real scene by flipping my bright blonde hair with blue tips over my shoulder. “It’s decent and I’m busy. But more importantly, I’m happy. H-a-double p-y.”

I did not mention my almost near-zero bank account. Nope. I’d rather shove the entire fork into my mouth than admit that money wasn’t rolling in like I’d hoped. Sure, Megs said my life was too boring because I only focused on opening this business, but I ignored her truth bombs. My dating life might have been boring, but my hope for the future sure wasn’t.

“Your attitude doesn’t suit you, dear.” My mother pursed her lips, and if she wore a pearl necklace, she would’ve clutched it. “How long do you plan on taking a break from schooling?”

“For…ever?”

She clicked her tongue just as my alarm went off and I sent a prayer to whoever was listening. “Gotta run. Meeting a new client. Bye!”

They stood up as I left the table. I didn’t humor them by trying to hug goodbye. We didn’t express genuine emotion when it was positive. Guilt and shame? Oh, we did that in spades. I’d have a doctorate in shaming if it were possible. I would at least have a degree then, and my parents would get off my back.

I snorted at my own joke, earning a confused look from the poor guy walking past me. Phoenix in the summer was way too damn hot and the fact that I wasn’t the only person outside saddened me. The sun burned the asphalt to the point it smelled weird and I hurried my short walk to the building where my next job might be. Three months, dog sitting, in a penthouse.

Thousands of dollars.

College wouldn’t pay me that well, would it, parents?

I stopped after I entered the luxurious swanky building and groaned as the air conditioning hit my face. Heaven.

“Ma’am, may I help you?” a tall, old gentleman with a large mustache asked. He wore a green coat and I groaned. He had to be super-hot with all the clothes.

“Hello…” I eyed his name tag. “Ferdinand. Do you go by Fernie?”

“No.” He somehow stood taller at my question. “What are you doing here?” He scanned my outfit and I waited until he met my eyes again. “You might be in the wrong place, dear.”

My light blue dress had tiny straps on my shoulders and fit my curves very well. It made me feel confident and it was the best one to wear when it was one-hundred-and-fifteen outside. Fernie would not judge me. “I’m exactly where I want to be. Thank you. Now, excuse me.”

“You cannot just enter this building,” he said, his eyes widening and his mouth falling open when I barged past him to the elevator. It couldn’t be too hard to find the penthouse. Highest floor, right?

“It seems I just did, good sir.” I pressed the Up button and blew a large bubble when Fernie blinked fast and put his hand on my elbow. I yanked out of his grip. “Oy! Watch it.”

“I will call the police if you do not leave right now!”

I was about to tell him all the ways he could kiss my ass when the elevator doors opened and the most handsome man I had ever seen in my twenty-three years stood there, looking way too good for rational thoughts to form. Perfection.

The hair. The eyes. The beard. The shoulders.

My saliva evaporated from pure lust and wouldn’t return unless he kissed me. It was the only way.

“Nando,” the man said, sparing me a quick glance. “Harassing guests again?”

“She waltzed in here and disobeyed protocol!” he hissed, and that snapped me from my lusty funk.

“Okay, settle down, Fernie. There were no rules posted.”

One side of the handsome man’s lips quirked up and I swore I felt that gesture as if he’d caressed my entire body. Shivers. “Fernie. I like it.”

“He looks like one, right? Maybe it’s the stern nose or the stick up his ass. I can’t decide.”

Ferdinand looked affronted and I held up my hands as the stranger laughed, a deep, rich, beautiful chuckle that made me dizzy. “Security. I will call them.”

“I’m not trespassing.” I held up my phone. “I was invited here. To the penthouse, actually.”

Whatever I said made Fernie’s lip twitch, and I did not like that one bit. Nope. He grabbed my wrist again and before I could yell at him for manhandling me, the perfect specimen of a man took a step toward us, looking pissed off. “Don’t put your hands on her. She’s done nothing wrong.”

“Mr. Alexandre is not here. He won’t be for quite some time.” He practically giggled. “So your excuse for being here doesn’t work.”

“Wrong again, Fernie. But don’t worry, I won’t hold it against you if we are blessed to meet again.” I rubbed my wrist where his fingers touched and I gave a smile of thanks to the stranger, only putting a hint of take me now into it. “Here. Why don’t I clear this up?”

I dialed the number from the app and waited until a rough voice answered. “Hi, Mr. Alexandre, it’s Sarah Blue. Would you be so kind as to retrieve me from the foyer, as your bellhop is channeling his inner Paul Blart.”

“Your reference makes no sense, but I’ll be down.”

“Great. Thank you so much.” I grinned as large as I could and crossed my arms, tapping my foot on the polished floor, making Ferdinand glare at me. “Your I’m wrong face is great.”

He blustered a bit and I used the time to study the other, gorgeous man staring at me. He wore joggers and a black T-shirt that had to be sewn onto his tan skin. Delicious. There was no other way to describe him.

If anyone asked what my type was ever again, I would say him.

He seemed to be studying me too and I blushed head to toe when he gave me a hint of a smirk. “How do you know Alexandre?”

“How do you?” I fired back. He liked my answer. He cackled and leaned on the doorframe instead of exiting. “Two can play your game.”

His amusement pleased me. I wasn’t a huge hit with guys when it came to first impressions. I was loud, spoke my mind, called out things that upset me and never put out. Sure, I flirted when I wanted to, but no one really stood out to star in my spank bank. But this guy. Yup. His face was enough.

“Sarah Blue.” He repeated my name and I bit down on my knuckle and groaned. “What?”

“You’re too good-looking for your own good. I shouldn’t stare at you.” I turned around and almost smacked my forehead for being an idiot. I couldn’t help myself. My parents had raised me to be seen, not heard, and the second I got out from their rule, I flourished into being who I wanted to be—not quiet, always seen and always heard.

The stranger didn’t get a chance to respond before the elevator door opened again and a very well-dressed man appeared. He had to be ten years older than me, maybe more, and he looked like he should be on a runway. His face was all angles and jawline and the suit looked like it cost more than my parents’ house. “Sarah Blue?”

“Mr. Alexandre,” I said, and he nodded. I took a guess that this was the man I was supposed to meet and I felt smug as hell. I wiggled my fingers at Ferdinand in a super not mature way. It was worth it though to see his appalled expression of paled cheeks and wide eyes.

“Ms. Blue, please, come with me.” Mr. Alexandre crooked his fingers at me and I obeyed, damn well knowing he was more terrifying than Ferdinand. It wasn’t unusual for me to meet new clients in their homes, especially if I was watching their animals, and I trusted my gut. While I feared Mr. Alexandre more than I liked, it wasn’t a creepy vibe he gave off. It was authoritative.

I waltzed into the elevator and felt the weight of the handsome stranger’s stare as the doors closed. If there was such a thing as second-hand lust syndrome, I had it. Bad.

Mr. Alexandre remained quiet the entire ride until the doors opened on the top floor. There were just two doors at the end of the hallway and he went to the right. “Are you ready to meet them?”

‘Them’ meaning his two King Charles Spaniels, Pico and Cassandra. “I’d love to meet your fur-children.”

My comment pleased him and he typed five numbers onto a pad before the large black door swung. His room was like a hotel I had only witnessed in movies. Glorious. Open. Beautiful. He had a couch that was at least the size of my old dorm room and it was covered in plush pillows. Oh, I wanted to fall face first onto that couch for a day. “This is beautiful.”

“Thank you. I had it designed for me.” His boots clicked on the…while marble? Quartz? Diamond? Floor. It was too pretty for my eyes and I pretended I hadn’t stepped in melted gum on the walk here. “Pico! Cassandra! Where are you, lovelies?”

I couldn’t stop my lips from curving up. People were weird about their pets. Nicknames and routines and boundaries, and the fierce love they had for their mammals. He wasn’t on the far end of the insane scale of clients I had worked with, but he wasn’t in the middle. If he had a—

He did.

He returned from a room just beyond his kitchen with a decked-out gray and black stroller. There was no baby in there. Just two dogs with sparkly blue and purple collars. “Here are my babies. Ms. Blue, Pico and Cassie.”

“Why, hello!” I crouched forward and spoke in a high voice, foregoing all sense of dignity. “Aren’t you both adorable? You two spoiled?” I held out my hand and let them both sniff it for a full thirty seconds before I attempted to pet them. Pico, who had deep brown and black fur, wagged his tail so loud a soft thud kept repeating. “Happy boy. May I?” I gestured to pick him up and Mr. Alexandre nodded.

Pico licked my entire face and I laughed. He was a cutie and we’d get along fine. But he wasn’t the alpha of the house. Cassie was and she gave me the stink eye. “You are a gem, Pico. We’ll be buds. Now, Ms. Cassie, what can I do to win you over?”

She eyed me. She was different from Pico. She had white, brown and black fur and almost had freckles on her face. She was gorgeous but not friendly. She held her nose high in the air and I went from petting her back to her bum, and bam. Her tail wagged.

Damn, it felt good to get along so well with dogs. Humans weren’t as cute.

“She likes you,” he said, his voice rising in clear disbelief.

“I must smell like bacon from lunch,” I said, hoping to ease his mind. That was the trick of pet sitting for people. Their babies couldn’t like me more than they did them, but they had to like me enough to trust me. It was a thin line and I rocked it. “Shall we do a practice if you need to run an errand?”

“No. They don’t like humans much.” He crossed his arms and blinked a lot. “Let’s talk availability.”

“Let’s.” I kissed the top of Pico’s head and followed Mr. Alexandre toward a small glass table overlooking a patio that had the absolute best view of Camelback Mountain. “God, this view. I could die here.”

“I hope you don’t. My babies need love and attention while I’m away.” He pulled out a couple of sheets of paper and a pen. “Your application said you do stay-ins, overnights. How long?”

“It depends on the client. Currently, I have about twenty stops a week that will keep me away roughly the same as work hours. Six hours a day, typically.”

“Where do you live?”

“I won’t take them out of your place besides walks, sir. I assure you.”

“No.” He waved his hand like I’d insulted him. “I meant, can you break your lease if you are renting? I can pay the fee. If you take this job, you will need to be here three months.”

July, August, September. Damn. But I kept my poker face strong. “That is a long time, sir. The cost will be high.”

“I’ll give you twenty thousand dollars, but I must have daily photos and a video chat every other day. They require two walks a day and the best raw food.” He continued talking, but his voice faded as the price kept echoing in my head.

Twenty thousand.

“That’s…that’s…” I mumbled, but he paid me no attention. He brought out a notebook with tabs and slid it across the table. “Sir, please.”

“I will not negotiate. Pico and Cassie are my joys and you are ranked as one of the best at this. Please, Sarah, take care of them. I wish I did not have to travel, but I do.” He sighed and a sad, resigned look took over his face. “This is a lovely place to live.”

“Even with Ferdinand?” I joked, earning a slight smile. “He won’t try to kick me out?”

“He is protective of the tenants. Just don’t bother the door across the hall. He likes his privacy. And do not ruin this place. I will deduct any damages from your payment.”

I gulped and nodded, unable to do much more. Those rules were simple enough for that much money. God, no rent, no school… I could save most of it. “Thank you, sir. I will not let you down.”

“Good.”

He shook my hand and eyed the pen. “Sign and it’ll be official. Can you start tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?” I repeated, dumbfounded at the quickness. “I don’t… I need to get my stuff.”

“Take today and tomorrow morning. But noon, be here.” He rose and left me at the table with a contract and a check for ten thousand dollars. Half now, half later.

And I could only stare at it.

“Better get started on getting your stuff, dear Sarah,” he said, his retreating back not exactly friendly.

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About the Author

Jaqueline Snowe

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the ‘dry heat’ really isn’t that bad. She enjoys making lists with colorful Post-it notes and sipping coffee all day. She has been a custodian, a waitress, a landscaper, a coach and a teacher. Her life revolves around binge-watching Netflix, her two dogs who don’t realize they aren’t humans and her wonderful baseball-loving husband.

You can take a look at Jaqueline’s Website and Blog and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Giveaway

Enter for your chance to win a fabulous gift package from romance author Jaqueline Snowe and get a FREE eBook from the author!

Jaqueline Snowe Rounding the Bases Giveaway

JAQUELINE SNOWE IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 25TH May 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

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Release Blitz: Fire in the Ice by Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood #LGBTQ #sportsromance @RyanTaylorandJ1 @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Fire in the Ice

Author: Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood

Publisher: Wainscott Press

Release Date: May 14, 2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 81,000 words

Genre: Romance, Gay Romance, MM Romance, Gay Hockey Romance, Gay Sports Romance, New Adult Gay Romance

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Synopsis

What if love threatened to destroy everything you’d worked for?

Hockey right winger Tyler Jensen isn’t thrilled to get the news he’s been traded to the Bethesda Barracudas. The team may be red-hot in the rankings, but there’s someone there he’d rather not have to see every day.

Defenseman Kevin Moore is one of the top-rated rookies in the country. He’s living the dream playing for the Barracudas—until he hears that his old high-school crush Tyler is joining the team. Ty was once everything Kev wanted, but their age difference got in the way. Tyler decided a three-year gap was too much and left Kevin behind.

In Bethesda, Tyler doesn’t take long to notice that Kevin has grown up into precisely the kind of man he can’t resist—brawny, brainy, and beautiful. Kev feels the pull too, and as the men become closer, they work hard to keep their budding relationship secret. Professional hockey may be welcoming gay players now, but Ty and Kev aren’t sure management would like the idea of two Barracudas taking teamwork to an entirely new level.

As the playoffs loom, news of their romance gets out. Ty and Kev, caught in a storm of controversy that threatens to destroy them, need a power play to save their careers. How will they find one before it’s too late?

Fire in the Ice delivers on the promise that second chances can work and dreams can come true. If you like exciting hockey, plenty of humor, a beautiful HEA, new adults, young athletes, and enough heat to burn down the house, this book is for you.

Excerpt

Fire in the Ice
A Novel by Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood
Copyright © 2021 Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood. All Rights Reserved.

The fire alarm went off! I sat bolt upright, my heart pounding like a bass drum and the soaring panic making it hard to breathe. Just as I threw a leg over the side of the bed, I realized I didn’t know where the door was. Hell, I couldn’t even remember what city we were in. Sweat ran into my eyes, and I called for Thompson, my roommate. He didn’t answer. Had he run for safety and left me sleeping?

I finally came around enough to realize the noise wasn’t the fire alarm—it was the alarm on my phone. Thompson wasn’t there because we weren’t on a road trip. In fact, he and I weren’t even on the same team anymore. The Seattle Cohos had traded me, and I was a Bethesda-fuckin-Barracuda now. Woo-hoo! The fact that I had a terrible crush on one of my new teammates, who definitely did not return the feelings, made my new life a thrilling prospect. I wondered if there was any chance Kevin might change his mind and give me a chance. Doubtful, after what happened last fall.

It was way too early to get up, and I stretched my way through a big yawn. I’d flown to DC with Birky Ferrell, my teammate who had also been traded, and we didn’t get into town until about eleven the night before. That had only been eight p.m. Seattle time, so I didn’t fall asleep for hours. According to my phone, it was currently seven a.m. in Washington, and I was due in Bethesda by eight thirty. Time to get my ass out of bed and into the shower.

Lucky me, I had a whole new team to get to know. Too bad they’d played in Seattle only ten days earlier, and I’d gotten into it with one of their defensemen, Pierre Gagné. The rest of the game hadn’t exactly been friendly between the Barracudas and me, and I didn’t know what kind of reception to expect at Cuda Arena. I hoped they’d be in the mood to let bygones be bygones.

An hour later, Birky and I were in an Uber creeping its way through rush-hour traffic toward Bethesda. Bob Shuford, the head coach, wanted to see us before our first practice with the team. I studied Birky’s profile while he looked out the window. His craggy face was handsome, and he wore his brown hair in a crew cut. Birky was an enforcer, so he got into his share of brawls, and a few scars gave his face character.

He turned his attention away from the street. “You nervous?”

“No more than you.”

“We’ll be fine. They’re lucky to have us. You heard they made Johnson captain?”

“Yeah, I saw that last night.”

Birky shifted in his seat, so he could see me. “You know him, right? I’ve seen you two talking when the teams played each other.”

“We went to prep school together at St. Mark’s.” I took a deep breath and leaned back in the seat. Nick and I had so much more than gone to prep school together, but that was a lifetime ago. For five of the last seven years, we’d only been friends from a distance.

“Seems like a good guy.”

I smiled. “Nick is one of the nicest men you’ll ever meet. Best thing they could have done, making him captain. He was team captain in high school, and he’s a born leader.”

“Sounds like what they needed. Keefer’s an ass.”

“You’re almost right.”

He cocked his head.

“Nick as captain is what we need, Birky. We’re Barracudas now.”

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Meet the Author

Ryan Taylor and Joshua Harwood met in law school and were married in 2017. They live in a suburb of Washington, DC, and share their home with a big, cuddly German shepherd. Ryan and Josh enjoy travel, friends, and advocating for causes dear to their hearts. Ryan also loves to swim, and Josh likes to putter in the garden whenever he can. The romance they were so lucky to find with each other inspires their stories about love between out and proud men.

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Release Blitz: Following the Rules by Lane Hayes #GayRomance #sportsromance @LaneHayes3 @GoIndiMarketing

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Title: Following The Rules

Series: The Script Club #1

Author: Lane Hayes

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Release Date: May 7, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50k

Genre: Romance, Nerd/Jock, MM Romance, Bisexual Awakening, Best Friend’s Brother,

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Synopsis

The geek, the jock, and a new set of rules…

Topher-

My friend’s brother needs an academic assistant and I need a job. Problem…jocks are my weakness. Seriously. I lose my ability to speak coherently around muscle-bound hotties. Oh yeah, I lose my inhibitions too—not a good look for a guy with a genius IQ. So what am I going to do about Simon?

Simon-

Finishing college isn’t high on my list of priorities, but my future in professional football is looking bleak. I need a plan B or C, and I could use some help navigating life as an undergrad. Topher is perfect. He’s also a little strange…but in a good way. And I like the way I feel when I’m around him—as though anything is possible. Maybe if we follow our hearts, we’ll find what we’re looking for. But that means changing the rules…

Following the Rules is a MM, bisexual awakening romance starring a lovable nerd, a cool jock, and some extracurricular fun.

Excerpt

I served us both a slice of each kind of pizza and slid a plate his way, gesturing for him to help himself to the cheese or whatever else he might want.

“I don’t care about money,” I said around a mouthful of food. “Eat up. This is tasty, but it won’t be as good when it’s cold.”

Topher flashed an anxious sideways smile and took a mouse-sized nibble. “Mmm, that’s delicious.”

I washed down my pizza with a healthy swig of wine, nudging his knee as I swiveled to face him. “Are you okay?”

He wiped his hands on a napkin and drained half his water, setting it on the island with a decisive thud. “Yes, I’m just a little nervous.”

“Nervous? Oh. I’m sorry.” I frowned and before I could rein my tongue, blurted, “You seemed fine when we were joking about tiny gorilla penises, and hell…you saw my dick and—”

“I wasn’t joking. I was reciting a fact and as far as your penis is concerned…”

I twisted to face him, unable to contain a mischievous grin.

“Yes? I’m waiting,” I singsonged, biting into the ham and pineapple pizza.

“I told you, Simon…I was simply doing the math,” he replied matter-of-factly. “Six and a half inches.”

“Nine.”

Topher narrowed his eyes, his features softening in amusement. “Six and three-quarters, max.”

I scoffed and hooked my thumb under the elastic waistband of my sweats. “Wanna see?”

“No! Geez. You know, it’s very difficult to stay on topic with you. And staying on topic is the only way this will work.”

“Okay, fine. Back to dick size. What animal has the biggest schlong on the planet?”

He gaped at me for a hot second. “The blue whale. It’s estimated to be seven to ten feet long.”

“Whoa!”

“Although I don’t know that it’s ever been measured during intercourse. Or if that’s even possible.” He reached for his pizza with his brow knit in concentration as though pondering whale dick…as one does.

“Whales are huge. It makes sense. What about land animals?”

“Elephants. They’ve legitimately measured specimens in excess of thirty-nine inches.”

“You’ve got to be kidding.” I snort-laughed. “Christ, I’m feeling very inadequate with my mere twelve inches.”

“Six,” Topher scoffed. “Look, before we get sidetracked again, I just want to—”

“I’ll pay you double.”

“What? Why?”

I sighed as I picked up my wineglass. “I don’t want to fail. No…it’s more than that. I need to look smart. I can’t come across as the fuckup wide receiver who got dumped from the NFL and blew the cushy back-door admittance to a prestigious university by failing his first semester. I thought I might be able to muddle through with a few pointers from George, but it’s going to take more than that. I need a real assistant.”

Topher widened his eyes, then blinked in disbelief when I named an exorbitant salary. I had a hard time keeping my own expression. What the hell was I thinking? Did I really need an assistant?

I didn’t know, but I needed…something.

“Oh, that’s a lot of money,” he whispered breathlessly.

“It’s the going rate for a personal assistant. Ironically, I never had one while I played ball, but I need the help now. I want the best, and George says that’s you.”

Topher smiled. “George didn’t say he was the best?”

“Actually, he did. But we can’t be in the same room for an hour without wanting to take a swing at each other.”

“You and George fight?”

“Not as much now that we’re older, but…yeah, I guess we still fight. We don’t have much in common.”

“You and I have even less in common,” he replied.

“That’s a good thing. Trust me, it’s better for me that you don’t know that I slept with a teddy bear until I was thirteen…or that I still have that damn bear for reasons unknown.” I gave a self-deprecating chuckle, then sipped my wine and set it on the island. “So…are you in? Make me smarter, Toph. I need your brain!”

He stared at me for a long moment, inclining his head. “Okay.”

“Yes!” I fist-pumped the air as if I’d just scored a touchdown and held out my hand for a high five.

Topher left me hanging for a few long seconds before gently tapping his palm to mine. I grabbed his wrist to hold him steady for a redo. The contact was light and breezy…and spontaneous. But that was how I rolled. For a guy who played professional football, it was nothing.

However, this didn’t feel like nothing.

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Meet the Author

Lane Hayes loves a good romance! An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and were winners in the 2016, 2017, and 2018-2019 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a not quite empty nest.

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