RELEASE BLITZ: Cold Blood by T. Strange #eroticromance #gay #BDSM @pridepublishing @firstforromance

Cold Blood by T. Strange

Book 2 in the Bound to the Spirits series

Word Count: 86,043
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 350

GENRES:

BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description


Ghost wards are failing. Mediums are vanishing. Someone—or something—is stirringup the ghosts of Toronto. It’s up to psychic medium Harlan Brand to find out why.

After defeating a serial killer who could control ghosts, psychic medium Harlan Brand is feeling much more confident in his abilities working for the Toronto Police Service with his partner, Hamilton, as they protect the city from dangerous spirits.

He is expanding his social circle, however reluctantly, to include the other police mediums and Morgan Vermeer, another graduate from the Centre—a school for training psychic children.

Harlan and his boyfriend, Charles Moore, are continuing to explore BDSM, their relationship and Charles’ strange ability to shield people from ghosts.

Hoping to find answers about Charles’ power and the serial killer, Harlan returns to the Centre only to find that one of its ghost wards—magical symbols that spirits can’t cross—is broken, and it’s a mystery as to how and why.

The calm and order that Harlan has been building up in his life are shattered when wards start failing across the city and mediums begin to disappear, including one of his new friends and a student from the Centre.

Someone—or something—is stirring up the ghosts of Toronto.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence and murder. It is best read as part of a series.

Excerpt

Hamilton sighed as he lowered himself into the driver’s seat of their police cruiser, settling in much more heavily than usual. “Matthew wants to meet you.”

Harlan was relieved that he was already struggling with his seatbelt. It gave him a moment to think about what Hamilton had just said.

Matthew? Do I know a Matthew? Hamilton’s—and, by extension, Harlan’s—sergeant was named Matthews, but Harlan had already met her.

The seatbelt clicked into place. He was out of time.

Hamilton sighed again, this time with an edge of laughter. “Matthew is my…” He mumbled something Harlan couldn’t make out. “You haven’t met him,” he added in his regular speaking voice.

Harlan waited, hoping Hamilton would elaborate, repeat himself or that the words would finally click into place as he ran them over and over in his mind.

Silence. Silence that he had to break if he was going to get anything else.

“Sorry… I didn’t quite—”

“Boyfriend!” Too loud this time, loud and sudden enough that it startled Harlan. “Matthew is my boyfriend. He wants to meet you.” Hamilton slid his gaze over to Harlan, a sly smile on his thin lips. “You can say no,” he added, making it clear he would prefer that.

Harlan would prefer that as well, so it worked out nicely.

Before Harlan could assure him that he was, of course, in complete agreement, Hamilton shook his head and sighed for a third time that morning. “Nah, I think we’re past that. At this point, it would just be a delaying tactic. He’s made up his mind.”

Harlan glanced sideways at Hamilton. Is Hamilton actually blushing? He hadn’t thought Hamilton was physically capable of doing that, never mind imagined that it might actually happen.

“And I’ve met your boyfriend,” Hamilton shot back, even though Harlan hadn’t spoken.

Technically true, but they hadn’t exactly met over dinner or another social event. Did life-and-death situations count more or less than sitting down for a meal together?

“And, by the way”—the blush Harlan had probably imagined was gone, and Hamilton was definitely smirking now—”I knew I recognized him from somewhere.”

Shit. Harlan had been dreading this conversation, hoping it wouldn’t happen. He’d hoped that Hamilton wouldn’t connect Charles, Harlan’s ghost-repelling boyfriend, to Mr. Moore, owner of Rattling Chains, a formerly haunted BDSM club. Apparently, that had been too much to ask for.

Hamilton opened his mouth, started to say something then seemed to reconsider when he saw Harlan’s pained expression. “I’m glad you’ve got someone,” he said, just as gruffly as usual, but with a hint of genuine fondness and even warmth. “You don’t have a lot of people.” He looked away while he took a left-hand turn, then laughed. “Of course you’d meet someone on the job.”

Harlan looked down at his lap. Yeah. It was pretty pathetic. Sure, he’d started going to the occasional police-medium group—basically a coffee klatch, not everyone sitting in a circle sharing their feelings the way he’d been dreading—but that was still connected to the police. He hadn’t even realized that Charles had the same connection. Fuck. Somehow, without realizing it, he’d become one of those adults who only lived for his job.

He blinked. Maybe it isn’t just me.

“What does Matthew do?” he asked, fully expecting he already knew the answer.

He was wrong.

“He’s an advertising consultant.” Hamilton shrugged. “I don’t know what that means, either.” He paused, then added, as though he’d read Harlan’s mind—more likely his expression—“I did meet him through a case, though.”

Harlan wasn’t sure if that made him feel better or worse. He didn’t know exactly how old Hamilton was, but he guessed his police partner was at least a few years older than he was. Was that what he had to look forward to—all his personal connections coming from his work for the rest of his life? He wasn’t sure why it bothered him, but it did. Maybe it was like that for everyone, and he just didn’t know—not that there was anyone he could ask.

Maybe Charles… He’d met a few of Charles’ friends, more or less in passing. He certainly hadn’t sat down and had dinner with any of them, the way Hamilton seemed to be proposing that he do with Matthew. He’d always assumed it was because he and Charles were still fairly new as a couple and—knowing Harlan—Charles hadn’t wanted to overwhelm him with a bunch of people all at once—but maybe he’d been wrong. Maybe he just didn’t want to introduce Harlan to anyone else in his life.

Knowing he was starting to spiral, he was relieved when Hamilton continued.

“I told him you don’t do phone calls and you wouldn’t want to text someone you don’t know”—Wow, Hamilton really will make a great detective one day—“so you can just let me know when you decide. Here.” He fished a piece of paper out of his breast pocket and handed it to Harlan. “This is Matthew’s number so you can give it to Charles. He’s invited too, if he’d like.” His smirk was back. “I think he still has a choice, unlike you.”

“Where are we going today?” Normally Hamilton didn’t tell him, and he didn’t ask, but it was the only change of topic Harlan could think of. “Is it another one of Samuel’s ghosts?” Killing the warped medium and serial killer Samuel Harkness had released most of the spirits under his control, but even eight months later they were still finding stragglers, like the ones that had led Harlan to their killer in the first place.

Interestingly, Harlan and Hamilton had found—and freed—almost three times as many wanderers as the other three medium pairs put together. It was as if even though he’d never met them, these spirits felt a connection to him for killing the man who had been controlling them.

This part of the job was a lot less glamorous when the ghosts they worked with weren’t leading him to a serial killer.

Kid,” Hamilton had laughed after a sweaty, dusty and frustrated Harlan had snapped something along those lines after a very long, hot day crammed in the crawlspace of an old house, trying to coax an especially nervous ghost close enough for him to either grab or calm it down enough for it to cross over on its own, “that’s the job. It’s not bringing down bad guys and epic showdowns. It’s…this. Hey, you’ve got a cobweb on your face.”

Harlan couldn’t help feeling that he’d peaked too soon, experienced more police-medium excitement than most of his colleagues got in a lifetime.

Crucially, he’d survived. Most police mediums didn’t live long enough to retire.

He still liked his job and found it fulfilling, rewarding and blah blah, but he couldn’t help feeling a little…let down. Restless, maybe. Not that he wanted to face anything like Samuel ever again! But…something. Something more than finding ghost, freeing ghost, next. Day in, day out, week after week. Just a little.

“Nah. Well—not as far as I know,” Hamilton amended. “Though apparently this is kinda a weird one.”

Harlan couldn’t help brightening, sitting forward in his seat a little. In light of what he’d been thinking, ‘weird’ was good. “Really?”

“Yeah, yeah, keep it in your pants.” Hamilton laughed.

“You gonna tell me or is it gonna be a surprise?” Even a few months ago Harlan wouldn’t have dared ask for information about the scene they were going to, and he certainly wouldn’t have expected an answer.

Now, it was almost like a game between the two of them—if Harlan really wanted to know, Hamilton would tell him, and if Hamilton really wanted to keep him in the dark until they got there—and Harlan was beginning to think that, sometimes at least, walking in without any preconceptions was helpful—he wouldn’t. And, occasionally, Hamilton himself knew very little or nothing about the haunting situation. Harlan was starting to suspect that was one of the reasons Hamilton hadn’t filled Harlan in ahead of time in the past. Hamilton didn’t like admitting when he didn’t know something.

“Mmm, this time I think I’ll let you see for yourself. Besides, we’re almost there.” Hamilton pulled up beside a record store, one of those hipster places that had been popping up in the most gentrified parts of the city. He got out, coming around the other side of the car and opening Harlan’s door when he didn’t get out immediately.

Harlan stepped onto the sidewalk to take a better look around. Hauntings—the ones not related to violent crime, which he doubted was the case here—tended to be in residential buildings. People died where they lived, not where they bought vinyl.

He glanced across the street—more shops, and they didn’t look like they had apartments over them. Neither did the record store or the others around it.

“There’s a haunting here?”

“I can double-check the address if you’d like,” Hamilton offered, smirking a little.

“No. That’s fine.” As far as Harlan knew, Hamilton had never got an address wrong.

Maybe the dispatcher had been wrong?

A young white man stepped out of the shop, waving at them. “Are you with the Graveyard Crew?”

It was a nickname for Toronto police mediums that Harlan didn’t really like—and, by the look on Hamilton’s face, he didn’t care for it either.

Hamilton pointedly glanced down at his uniform and badge. “We’re with the police.”

“Oh, good! C’mon in. We’ve been expecting you.” He turned and disappeared into the shop.

Harlan shot Hamilton a questioning glance.

Hamilton shrugged one shoulder, extending a hand to say after you.

He was suddenly hit by a barrage of noise—apparently the door was surprisingly soundproof. Harlan always thought the music in these types of places sounded bad, but this was bad.

Hamilton, never one to fuck around, headed straight to the man who’d welcomed them. “Can you turn the music down? Or off, maybe?” He had to raise his voice to be heard over the din.

The man shook his head. “No! That’s the problem.” He didn’t have Hamilton’s loud ‘cop voice’ and he was practically screaming.

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About the Author

T. Strange

T. Strange didn’t want to learn how to read, but literacy prevailed and she hasn’t stopped reading—or writing—since. She’s been published since 2013, and she writes M/M romance in multiple genres, including paranormal and BDSM. T.’s other interests include cross stitching, gardening, watching terrible horror movies, playing video games, and finding injured pigeons to rescue. Originally from White Rock, BC, she lives on the Canadian prairies, where she shares her home with her wife, cats, guinea pigs and other creatures of all shapes and sizes. She’s very easy to bribe with free food and drinks—especially wine.

Find T. Strange on Instagram.

 

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Release Blitz: Til Death Do Us Wed by Jason Wrench #contemporary #eroticromance #gay @firstforromance @pridepublishing

Till Death Do Us Wed By Jason Wrench

Word Count: 81,783
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 347

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

 

Planning a wedding is hard enough without international politics, an assassin, your fiancé’s ex-boyfriend and your mother to deal with.

NYPD Detective Frank Schultt and his fiancé, FBI Agent Aaron Massey, have bought a new condo, adopted a dog and are planning their wedding. But when an international assassin starts killing people on the streets of New York City, Aaron and Frank must work together to find the killer before she strikes again.

Combine the assassin with the pressure of Frank’s jealousy when Aaron’s ex-boyfriend comes back to town, and can their relationship withstand the pressure? Will Aaron and Frank make it to the altar on time, or will the assassin and Frank’s destructive behavior stop their wedding before it ever heads down the aisle?

Publisher’s Note: This book is best read as the sequel to Twelve Days of Murder.

Excerpt

Frank stared around the pink office, wondering if a bottle of Pepto Bismol had accidentally spilled. He watched the perky blonde woman sitting in front of him, doing his best to pay attention. It wasn’t exactly how Frank liked to spend his Saturday mornings. But it was Aaron’s big day, so he’d promised to grin and bear it.

“With Central Park wedding locations, we are definitely somewhat limited. For example, the Bow Bridge only allows for ten guests and the Belvedere Castle Terrace only allows thirty. The North Garden, Southern Garden, Wisteria Pergola and Cherry Hill each allow for up to one hundred. What size are you two thinking?”

“Eloping,” Frank muttered.

“Twenty-five to fifty,” Aaron said, shooting Frank a sideways glance.

“I’m joking,” Frank reassured, patting Aaron’s leg and giving it a squeeze before turning to the woman. “Whatever Aaron wants, I want him to have.”

NYPD Detective Frank Schultt and FBI Special Agent Aaron Massey had met the previous year during a serial murder spree. The Twelve-Day Killer, as dubbed by the media, had terrorized NYC over the holidays. Aaron and Frank had put their lives and careers on the line hunting the bastard down. In the process, they had found each other.

Frank glanced over at the man he loved. God, where would I be without him? He reached up and rubbed the back of Aaron’s neck gently. From the top of Aaron’s head with his dark brown quaff haircut and his Caribbean ocean-blue eyes, to his lithe but fit body, Frank took in this man sitting beside him who was going to be his husband. Frank was still stunned at his good fortune in landing the affection of such an amazingly intelligent and gorgeous man.

Realizing his thoughts had drifted, Frank brought his attention back to the woman sitting in front of him, who was rattling on about Central Park weddings. He glanced down at her nameplate, ‘Amber Wethersfield’. The woman was in her late twenties. And judging by the giant diamond on her wedding ring, her husband was definitely wealthy. Frank glanced across the pink office looking for personal items and was surprised by the lack of photos. For a woman who sells marriage, where are the pictures of her happy day?

“So, do you have an officiant for your wedding lined up? If not, I have a list of great people who work with LGBTQIA+ people.”

“Huh?” Frank blurted before he could catch himself.

“Officiant…the person who will oversee the ceremony and the exchange of your vows,” Amber offered.

“No, you listed off a bunch of letters,” Frank said.

“Oh.” Amber perked up. “Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer-questioning, intersexed, asexual and others.”

Dear God, that sounds like a gay BLT. Frank was about to make the snide comment, but a quick glance from Aaron told him that he’d better hold his tongue. Instead, Frank just nodded his head and gave a thin-lipped smile.

“Actually, we have a few people in mind,” Aaron noted. “Frank knows a judge who volunteered her services, and we have a couple of other names in the hopper as well.”

“Oh, good,” Amber said. “You’d be amazed at how many people totally forget the officiant until the last minute. I even have a license I got from an online church because I’ve had to step in at the eleventh hour when something went horribly wrong. I just don’t enjoy being in the wedding party, because it makes it harder for me to run things behind the scenes.”

Frank leaned back in the chair and watched as Aaron and Amber discussed the wedding. This wasn’t Frank’s first. He’d been married, but his husband had been murdered in a liquor store robbery on Christmas Eve over six years ago. As much as Frank loved Aaron, there was still a vast hole in his heart that had been left by Adam’s death. But Frank loved Aaron and was going to make sure their wedding day was every bit of glitz and glamour that Aaron desired.

“Well, if you have questions,” Amber said, bringing Frank’s attention back once again, “just let me know. You have my email, cell phone, home phone and office phone numbers, so never hesitate to reach out. I look forward to working with both of you on your big day.”

Amber stood up from her desk to usher the couple out of her office. She pushed herself up, exposing her pregnant belly.

“When’s the due date?” Aaron asked.

“Mid-March. But I swear she’s ready to come out any day.”

Frank stared at her belly and just thought, Are you sure there’s only one in there? But once again, he held his tongue.

“Don’t worry. I won’t miss your big day. When I’m out on maternity leave, my assistant will take over the day-to-day preparations, and he’ll be in constant contact with me. When I had my first baby, we were texting right up until they told me to push.”

“Well, it was really was nice meeting you,” Frank said.

“Likewise. And I just have to say, you two make such a cute couple.”

“Thank you,” Aaron said. “I think he’s a keeper.” Aaron gave Amber a little wink before turning to leave.

As Frank followed suit, Aaron’s hand rested in the small of Frank’s back. Frank leaned into Aaron in response.

“Earth to Frank!” Aaron said as they exited onto the sidewalk. The February chill immediately caught Aaron off guard, and he lifted the collar on the trench coat to protect his neck.

“Huh, what?”

“I said, “Earth to Frank.” What’s going on inside that head of yours?”

“Overwhelmed, I guess.”

“How so?”

“The whole wedding planning is just bringing up some memories.”

Aaron squeezed Frank. “I hadn’t thought about that. I forget that you’ve done this before.”

“Yeah,” Frank said, scrunching his forehead. “It’s surreal. Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited to be marrying you. I hope you know that. It’s just that it brings up memories of Adam.”

“I get it,” Aaron said. “I would be surprised if it didn’t, to be honest.” Aaron hesitated for a second before adding, “Just know…I will never try to replace Adam. I know what you two had was special—”

“What we have is special too.”

“I know,” Aaron acknowledged. “I just want you to know that I love you and would never try to change you…warts and all.”

“God, I hope I don’t have any warts.”

“We all have warts. Some have them physically and others have them metaphorically.”

“Sure thing, professor,” Frank teased.

After dealing with the Twelve-Day Killer, Aaron had taken a teaching position part-time with the John Jay School of Criminal Justice. He was technically still on the FBI’s payroll, but his utility as an undercover agent had taken a hit after the amount of press the Twelve-Day Killer had received. And with the forthcoming publication of his new book about the case, Aaron and Frank both knew a fresh round of press attention was right around the corner.

“So, we didn’t have breakfast after the gym this morning,” Aaron said. “Shall we have a quick brunch before heading back to the apartment to get ready?”

“Do we have time?” Frank asked, glancing down at his watch. “It’s already ten a.m. What time is the car picking us up for the reading?”

“The reading’s at two o’clock, so the car is scheduled to pick us up about one-fifteen.”

“I guess we have plenty of time. Any suggestions on where we should eat?”

“How about 9Ten?” Aaron asked, referring to one of their favorite diners.

“Lead the way.”

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About the Author

Jason Wrench

Jason Wrench is a professor in the Department of Communication at SUNY New Paltz and has authored/edited 15+ books and over 35 academic research articles. He is also an avid reader and regularly reviews books for publishers in a wide number of genres. This book marks his first full-length work of fiction.

Find out more about Jason at his website.

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Release Blitz: Safe Harbour by Thom Collins #romanticsuspense #gay #contemporaryromance @firstforromance @pridepublishing

Safe Harbour by Thom Collins

Word Count: 58,382
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 229

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

 

Two lovers seek shelter in a storm of jealousy and passion.

Matt arrives in the seaside town of Nyemouth for a much-needed vacation. As a successful lawyer, Matt has a hectic career, and with an ex-husband still pestering him for money, he is long overdue a break. A holiday home perched above the town and its breath-taking harbour seems like the perfect place to unwind. Matt can’t wait to explore the beautiful, jagged shorelines and lose himself for a couple of weeks.

Jake has made a home in Nyemouth. After growing up in the city, living on the coast is everything to him. Running a business with his sister and volunteering on the crew of the local lifeboat, he is exactly where he wants to be. But Jake’s life is far from peaceful. Though he left his domineering husband Vince a year ago, Vince refuses to consent to a divorce or loosen his controlling hold on Jake.

On Matt’s first night in town, he encounters the couple having a blazing row. When Vince turns violent, Matt intervenes and takes Jake inside to escape his angry ex. Despite what happened, Matt feels a powerful attraction to the younger man. Jake is bright, endearing and unbelievably attractive, but the young man’s life is complicated. Matt already has enough problems of his own. He came away looking for an escape, not a starry-eyed distraction. As Matt and Jake get to know each other better, the gamble on a holiday romance becomes hard for either of them to resist. They have both been unlucky in love before. Maybe this time will be different.

Vince will not be shaken off so easily. He has no intention of letting Jake go…ever. As Matt’s and Jake’s emotions deepen, they do not understand how far Vince will take things to keep his husband. As far as Vince is concerned, they made a vow to each other… “till death do us part.”

Reader advisory: This story contains stalking and assault, physical and emotional spousal abuse, attempted murder with a firearm and references to abusive parenting and substance additions.

Excerpt

“Will you be staying long in town?” the shop assistant asked as he ran items through the till.

“Two weeks,” Matt Ramsey replied.

“Really?” The assistant, a pleasant-looking man in his fifties, didn’t look up from what he was doing. “It’s a small place to spend such a long amount of time. Won’t you get bored?”

“I doubt it. I want to use Nyemouth as a base to explore the local area—country walks, coastal trails, that kind of thing.”

“Oh, then you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. There are some stunning locations nearby, both up and down the coast.”

Matt smiled. He’d already done extensive research into this area of Northumberland. He’d visited here a couple of times before, just for the day, and it was a place he’d always wanted to discover further. With two weeks ahead of him and no other commitments, there would never be a better time.

He had finished work at five p.m. promptly and got straight into his car. Despite the Friday evening traffic, he’d made good time on the journey from York to Nyemouth, arriving at the holiday home just before seven-thirty. The old man who lived next door, a friendly guy called Jacob, had greeted him at the door with the keys and given him a quick rundown on the property and what he could find in town. Matt had left home without picking up supplies, and Jacob directed him to the small shop near the marina, less than ten minutes from the house, where he could get all he would need to see him through the next few days. Matt had thanked him and hurried down to the store.

He intended to get a takeaway for dinner tonight, but picked up bread, eggs, bacon, milk and tea bags for breakfast. He also bought three bottles of red wine, a bottle of dark rum and two litres of Diet Coke. It was his intention to eat out as much as possible while he was there, but he wanted to have some alcohol in for the times he came home late, so he could unwind in the comfort of the beautiful house that looked down on the marina and the mouth of the river.

“Have you lived here long?” he asked the cashier as he paid for his shopping.

“All my life,” the man said, sounding proud. “I know I knock the place for being small and there’s not a lot to do here out of season, but I do love it. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Matt nodded. “Even in the winter, I imagine it’s still a lovely place to be.”

The man gave a good-natured laugh. “Come back in February when there’s a seventy-mile-per-hour gale coming in from the North Sea and see if you feel the same.”

“If the next fortnight goes well, I might just do that.”

“Well, if you do, I’ll be here.” He handed over the two bags of groceries. “Enjoy your stay. Hopefully I’ll see you around.”

Matt thanked him and left the shop.

That evening, it was difficult to imagine the brutal winter conditions the shopkeeper had spoken of. It was coming up to nine o’clock and the clear sky was deepening into shades of lapis and blueberry, marred by just a few wisps of cloud, high in the atmosphere. The perfect sky was mirrored on the still water of the harbour. The fishing fleet was home for the night, the boats lying motionless in their moorings.

There were a lot of people milling around the marina, couples and families enjoying the mild July weather. The bars and restaurants along the waterfront had set tables outside and looked to be doing a good trade. Matt had heard great things about The Lobster Pot, a bar-come-restaurant in the heart of the bay, and intended to treat himself to at least one good meal there during his stay—maybe one night next week when it wasn’t so busy.

He walked across the harbour, passing by the lifeboat station, towards the footpath back up to the house on South Bank Terrace.

Nyemouth’s lifeboat had made worldwide news the past summer when it was involved in the frantic rescue of the actor Arnie Walker and his young son. The publicity afterwards had brought hordes of tourists to the small seaside town. When Matt had been searching for a place in Northumberland to stay for his summer holiday, he’d almost discounted Nyemouth, remembering the scenes of chaos he’d seen on the news less than a year before. He wanted somewhere peaceful as a base for his hiking trips, and the interest Arnie’s rescue had created for the town made it far from ideal.

Matt had done some extra research and, while it was true that Nyemouth was now on the map as a major tourist attraction, the initial ghoulish interest people had taken in it had settled down, although he’d read that Arnie Walker was now a permanent resident here with a home on the north bank of the river. When Matt had discovered a house on the south side was available for the dates he required, those niggling concerns had disappeared.

Now he was here, breathing in the fresh sea air, and he knew he’d made the right choice.

At thirty-nine, Matt had no qualms about going on holiday by himself. He was a free man, able to do what he wanted and pursue his own interests without having to compromise for someone else. Some of his friends and colleagues had tried to talk him out of it and persuade him to join them for his summer break. Matt had no interest in their Spanish villas or their all-inclusive trips to the Caribbean. He’d always wanted to explore Northumberland, and now, divorced and one year short of his fortieth birthday, he intended to do exactly what he pleased.

Those same colleagues were always trying to fix him up with their gay friends. It was four years since he’d split with Clinton, and people seemed determined to pair him off with someone else.

It was all well-meant, but Matt didn’t need it. This was his time to do his own thing, and he intended to enjoy it.

He followed the path upwards, through the cobbled backstreets of the old town. Living in a city, albeit a modest one like York, gave him a greater appreciation of small towns and villages, especially those on the coast. The pace was much calmer here, more peaceful. He knew he was looking through the rose-tinted eyes of a tourist, but tonight he was happy in the belief that life was simpler in a place like this.

A middle-aged couple walking a small terrier smiled at him and nodded as they passed.

“Hey,” he said in return.

After a busy day at court, he looked forward to a quiet night in the holiday home. He would pour a glass of wine, order some food and unpack his stuff while waiting for it to arrive. He was too tired to explore the town this evening. There would be plenty of time for that tomorrow. He intended to get acquainted with Nyemouth this weekend, checking out the shops, pubs and cafés, before exploring the wider area next week.

Matt was a keen walker and hiker. Though the path from the marina to the house was steep, he managed it with the two bags of shopping without getting even mildly out of breath. The path levelled out as he reached South Bank Terrace and the last stretch was straight. The views from up here were second-to-none, taking in the entire valley and the river mouth. Maybe he’d be able to enjoy it with a glass of wine in the front garden before darkness cut in.

There were two men on the path that ran in front of the garden wall. He heard their raised voices as he approached.

“I’ve told you a million times before that the answer is no,” one of the men said. He was dressed in running shorts and a T-shirt—younger and slimmer than the other man. Pretty hot, Matt noticed the guy with long, muscular legs and dark brown hair that swept back from his face in luxurious waves.

“You’re being unreasonable,” the second man said. His voice sounded tight, like he was speaking through gritted teeth. He was stocky and thickset, with closely cropped grey hair and a narrow face. He wore grey suit trousers and a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up and the neck open.

“You’re the one who followed me up here,” the younger man said, sounding like he was close to losing it.

“What was I supposed to do? You won’t answer your damned phone. You don’t respond to my voicemails.”

“Don’t you get it, Vince? I blocked your number. I’ve told you before—I don’t know how many times—but I’ve had enough.”

A lover’s tiff, Matt guessed, though they seemed an unlikely couple. The young guy could do so much better for himself. Not that looks were everything, but he was way out of the older man’s league. Matt gave them a wide berth as he passed, but came close enough to see just how attractive the young man was. He had large, expressive eyes, a long, straight nose and a wide mouth. He looked wholesomely handsome in his running gear, giving off cute Clark Kent vibes.

The other man, he realised, was not as old as he’d first seemed, maybe early-to-mid-thirties. His prematurely grey hair and sharp features created a false impression. Even still, the two men did not look well matched.

“Just come with me,” the older man, Vince, snarled. “Listen to what I have to say.”

“Vince, I’ve heard everything before. There’s nothing you can say now that will make any difference.”

“How do you know if you won’t give me a fucking chance?”

Matt opened the gate and carried his shopping to the front door. He would not get involved. As a lawyer, he spent his entire working life dealing with the relationship problems of other people. These were two grown men. They could sort out their own issues. He put the key in the door.

“Get off me,” the young man snapped.

Matt glanced back to see him pull his arm out of Vince’s grip, and the man immediately lunged for him again. The young man dodged the grip.

“Stop being such a prick,” Vince said, his voice much louder now.

Matt groaned. This had the potential to get out of hand. He’d witnessed this kind of behaviour so many times—not just through work and handling messy divorce proceedings, but at home. Throughout his childhood, his father had been a pig, quick to anger and keen to use his fists. Matt didn’t want to get involved, but he couldn’t ignore this either.

“Is everything okay, fellas?” he asked, turning to face them.

Vince snapped his head around in his direction. “Piss off and mind your own fucking business. Prick.”

Matt ignored him and directed his gaze at the younger guy.

The man forced a smile. “It’s fine. Really.”

Matt nodded, unconvinced, but reluctant to involve himself any further in what was clearly a domestic argument. He carried his bags inside and through to the kitchen. As he put his supplies into the cupboard and the fridge, he could still hear their raised voices.

Vince sounded like the worst type of man—the kind of inadequate dickhead who tried to compensate for his own shortcomings with bullying and aggression. Matt knew the type well, having grown up with one until the age of twelve, when his mother had finally thrown his father’s sorry arse out. And he’d represented so many women and children during divorce and child protection cases who’d been caught up in relationships with controlling men.

Although he wanted to leave them to it, Matt’s conscience wouldn’t allow him to. He went into the living room and watched them through the window, hoping their argument would die down before it got any worse.

The young man had his hands up, warding Vince off to no effect as the little man puffed himself up and tried to get in his face.

“You stupid little prick,” he heard Vince say. “You’re worthless, you know that. Nothing. You were no one when I met you and you’re no one again.”

The skin of the young man’s face and neck was flushed. “If that’s how you feel, why don’t you go? Go on, and leave me alone.”

“I can’t leave you alone,” Vince said, changing tack. “You need me, Jake. You can’t get along without me. You’re useless on your own. You can’t cope.”

The young man, Jake, turned his back and tried to walk away. Vince grabbed his arm again and hauled him around, pulling him close, then wrapped his arms around him, taking him in a bear hug.

“Let go of me,” Jake protested.

“Enough of this shit. We’re going home.” Vince tried to lift him up and carry him.

Jake struggled, twisting out of his grip. Vince raised his hand to strike him.

Matt had seen enough. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned on the video camera as he headed for the door. He was filming when he stepped outside, training it on the two men. They might not like it, but he was determined to have a clear record of what happened next in case he had to call the police to deal with them.

As Matt walked down the path, Vince hauled back and struck Jake, his fist connecting with the side of his face, sending the young man sprawling to the ground.

“What the hell?” Jake complained, scrabbling backwards in the dirt, shuffling on his butt to escape his attacker.

“Stop pissing about and get the fuck home,” Vince jeered. “I’ve had enough of this fucking around. Do what I tell you to for once.”

Matt’s own anger mounted. Now that things had turned violent, he couldn’t let it continue. “Pack it in,” he shouted, coming to the end of the garden path.

Vince twisted in his direction. Matt saw the uncontrolled emotions flicker across his face—surprise, confusion, anger, then the aggression was back. He bared his teeth like a feral dog. “I’ve told you once already. Piss off and mind your own business.”

“I was prepared to do just that,” Matt said, keeping his voice calm and even, like a headmaster addressing a petulant teenager. “But when you throw your fists about, I can’t let that go. And, yes, I got that punch you just threw on camera, in case you’re wondering. It’s something I’m sure the police will be interested to see.”

Vince’s focus flickered between Matt and Jake. The bastard was no longer so sure of himself.

“This is a private matter. Nothing to do with you or the cops.” He puffed out his chest as he spoke, trying to assert his manhood.

“Again,” Matt said, amazed by his own composure, “that was the case until you started punching in the street. Now, it’s very much a matter for the police. Why don’t I call them and see what they think about it?”

“You fucking busybody… You should stop twitching your curtains and getting involved in things that have nothing to do with you.”

Matt kept the camera trained on him. “You’re not very bright, are you, Vince? For the third time, you made it my business. Now, are you going to take yourself off down that hill, or do I have to call the police to do it?”

Vince strutted towards the garden gate. “Why don’t you try to make me? Show me if you’re man enough to take me on.” He clenched his fists.

Matt wouldn’t fight him, but there was a good chance Vince would take a swing at him, regardless. “We have different ideas of what makes a man,” he said. “Violence won’t get you anything other than jail time, Vince. Even if Jake there doesn’t want to press charges against you, my testimony and video evidence will be enough to charge you and get you in front of the local magistrates on Monday. Is that the way you want this to go? To spend the weekend in a police cell? Or would you rather leave before you make it any worse?”

Stalemate. They glowered at each other across the fence. Bigger and more menacing men than Vince had tried to intimidate Matt, and he had not backed down. He wasn’t about to cave under the glare of this prize arsehole.

Vince’s face twisted in an ugly expression before he spat at the ground. He stepped away, turning his back on Matt. “Are you coming?” he demanded of Jake, who had risen to his feet and stood brushing the dust off his shorts. Matt noticed a smear of blood on the younger man’s face.

Jake shook his head. “Just go—and leave me alone. I don’t want to see you again.”

Vince loitered, his fists still clenched, his arms trembling.

There’s so much anger simmering under his lid that he looks like he’s about to explode.

“I think the message is clear,” Matt said. “Why don’t you do everyone a favour and leave?”

“Fuck you,” he said at last, his voice low and contemptuous. And as a parting shot to Matt, “Cunt.”

He strutted down the road, his shoulders back, knees wide, trying to look like a big man.

Matt, realising he’d been holding his breath, exhaled.

This was not the quiet evening he’d intended for the first night of his holiday.

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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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Book Tour: Pretty Broken Dolls by Jennifer Chase #suspense #crimethriller @pumpupyourbook @JChaseNovelist

 

As the killer circles closer and closer to Katie, what if the only answer is to give him what he wants? 

By Jennifer Chase

Title: PRETTY BROKEN DOLLS
Author: Jennifer Chase
Publisher: Bookouture
Pages: 302
Genre: Crime Thriller

 

In the thin light of the moon, the woman’s limp body hangs from the iron fence amongst the redwoods. Looped over the railings is the little gold locket her mother gave her when she turned sixteen. The picture of the girl inside smiles out at a future she’ll never see…

As day breaks over the fairground, Detective Katie Scott forces herself to take in another disturbing scene in front of her. A woman, the same age as her, found slumped in the carriage of the Ferris wheel, red lipstick dragged across her lips, her throat cut.

Katie doesn’t want to believe that the serial killer picking off women across the state has found their way to the small town of Pine Valley, California, but when her team finds a gold engagement ring hanging nearby, it’s a terrifying, but undeniable fact.

With a twisted killer on her doorstep, Katie knows if she doesn’t act fast, she’ll find more women left out in the cold like broken dolls. Her team hit dead end after dead end, but only she can see the vital link between the victims: a connection with Katie herself.

Katie has spent years pushing traumatic memories of her years in the military far out of reach, but she must confront them now or more innocent women will die. But as the killer circles closer and closer to Katie, what if the only answer is to give him what he wants? There must be another way…

Warning – This absolutely unputdownable thriller will keep you up all night! Fans of Lisa Regan, Rachel Caine and Melinda Leigh better hold on tight for a nail-biting rollercoaster ride!

PRAISE

5 Stars! “This is the first book in the series I have read – and I want more! Suspense up to the end, characters I enjoyed, and K9 units. Loved it!” – NetGalley

5 Stars! “As always this Jennifer Chase thriller just cries out to be read in one sitting. Here we see Katie get tangled up with a serial killer although it takes time before anyone takes her seriously. Great characters and a great story, I loved this book.” – NetGalley

 

PROLOGUE

The front door stood ajar. It bumped gently against the jamb in rhythm with the evening breeze. The screen remained wide open and was bent precariously around the aluminum frame. Pieces of broken glass from a shattered light bulb above had scattered across the porch, leaving behind a shadowy darkness draped across the front of the small house.

The neighborhood remained quiet; the light blue one-story cottage eerily so. No outside illumination or motion lights flooded the front area. The blooming
climbing vines and perfectly manicured bushes were eclipsed by the darkness.

Headlights approached.

A small, dark vehicle pulled into the driveway. Waiting a moment before turning
off the engine, a woman pushed open the car door and stepped out. The young
redhead was dressed for the evening, in a sparkly blouse and tight black pants.
Wavering a moment in her spiked sandals, she looked at the house in
curiosity—and then in disappointment. Quickly grabbing a warm jacket from
inside the car and slipping it on, she walked up the driveway.

“Jeanine, where are you?” she whispered and headed to the front door, ignoring the
shattered light bulb on the step crunching under her feet. She knocked on the
door. “Jeanine,” she said, more loudly, leaning closer to the opening. “We
waited for you… you missed a great party.”

No response.

The front door pushed open, revealing a darkened interior.

“Jeanine?”

The woman hesitated but seemed to be pulled by an unknown force. She stepped over
the threshold, not bothering to close the door, and moved through the living room. Confused by the darkness, she turned on a lamp sitting on a small table. The room lit up instantly. Everything seemed in place. The oversized beige couches with brightly colored throw pillows, the dark mahogany coffee table with neatly stacked magazines and books precisely centered appeared usual for Jeanine’s house. It was always neat and organized.

“Jeanine?” the woman said again. “Are you here?”

The woman walked around and checked the kitchen and small bedroom, but there wasn’t
any sign of her friend. She eyed a piece of paper on the counter and decided to leave a quick note, scratching out that she had stopped by and asking Jeanine to call her when she got the message.

She suddenly noticed a strange high-pitched whistling noise coming from the other
side of the living room. Curious, the woman moved closer to the sound. The back
sliding door was slightly open. The crack was enough for the wind to invade and
make a strange noise.

Her foot touched something. A tall turquoise vase that had been sitting on a shelf
nearby was now lying on the carpet. It seemed strange to her that it had been
knocked over. She bent down and picked up the vase, replacing it on the shelf.

She retrieved her cell phone from her pocket and tried calling Jeanine again. It
rang numerous times and then went to voicemail where Jeanine’s upbeat voice
said, “Hi, sorry I missed your call but please don’t hang up. Leave a message and I’ll get right back to you.”

The greeting was followed by a quick beep.

“Jeanine, it’s Mandy again and now I’m standing in your living room. Where are you, girl? Everyone was asking about you tonight. Hey, and you left your front door open.
Call me.” She ended the call.

Mandy was about to head back to the front door to leave, but something stopped her—it
didn’t feel right—and instead, she stood at the sliding door staring out into the large backyard where dense rows of pine trees and acacia bushes huddled around the house’s boundary. During the day, the property appeared green and lush, but now it looked gloomy and foreboding.

Mandy flipped on the outside light, but it only lit up the patio areas directly
outside the house, and the extended wooded region still looked dark.

She pulled open the sliding door and the wind whipped through the house. It chilled
her. Goosebumps scuttled up her arms. Worry now set in and she didn’t know what
to do. Redialing Jeanine’s number, Mandy listened to it sound again and in unison heard the faint, far-off ringing of a phone somewhere in the distance.

She stepped outside, trying to decipher where the ringing was coming from. “Jeanine?” she said, noticing that one of the outside chairs had been toppled over and lay precariously on its side.

Moving off the stone patio and pulling her jacket more tightly around her, Mandy
slowly trudged toward the trees, a bit wobbly in her shoes. She turned on the flashlight mode on her cell phone and moved forward.

She dialed Jeanine again. This time, she heard the distinct ringing of the cell
phone coming from the trees—low at first and then it rang louder.

Jeanine,” she said, with barely a whisper. Her voice sounded oddly distant.

Looking down, she saw where there were crushed weeds and small broken branches as if
someone had walked back and forth recently. Still, she kept moving forward, into the trees, swinging her cell phone back and forth which only illuminated a tiny patch of ground in front of her, creating dense shadows outside its beam.

Her pulse quickened.

Anxiety escalated.

Something fluttering on a bush caught her eye. She leaned closer, focusing. As she moved the cell light beam nearer, it revealed a piece of white fabric with a mother-of-pearl button still attached.

Mandy gasped.

It wasn’t the fact that she had seen Jeanine wear that pretty white blouse on so
many occasions, it was the droplets of crimson spattered across the fabric that shoved a spear of fear into her gut.

Thoughts of dread and horror-filled scenarios ran through Mandy’s mind. Urgently, she
pushed the redial button on her phone again.

The sound of Jeanine’s ringtone rang in the darkness. This time it kept ringing and
there was no cheerful message.

Mandy walked further into the dark realm of the trees, still hoping that there was a
logical explanation. Stepping over old branches with loud crunching noises and sidestepping bushes just before reaching the back fence of the property, she managed to make her way to the sound of the ringing phone.

Everything went quiet.

Mandy stood a foot from the phone lying on the ground. It mesmerized her. She slowly
bent down to pick it up. With a startled gasp, she stepped back, dropping the phone as she stared at her hand. It was covered in blood.

In a frenzied panic, Mandy ran past the phone and continued along the low wrought-iron fence. The flashlight feature dimmed and she couldn’t see where she was going. Slowing her pace, she glimpsed something white and moving slightly.

“Jeanine? What’s going on?” She spoke in a strained whisper.

Trying to catch her breath and calm her hammering pulse, Mandy approached. Her cell
phone flashlight surged and shone brightly on the blood-soaked white silk blouse, now shredded from Jeanine’s right shoulder. She reeled back at the sight of her friend.

Mandy couldn’t tear her eyes away from the horror. Her throat constricted as her
breath trapped in her chest. She staggered backwards, taking in the entire scene—unable to turn her focus away.

Her friend’s upper body was impaled on the iron fence penetrating from her back
through her ribs, and her throat was slit open. Her head flopped down, lifeless eyes trained on the ground. Her long brown hair fell forward, some strands sticking to the blood seeping from her chest. Her arms hung at her sides, legs crooked, like a marionette waiting for someone to pull the strings. Blood still dripped from her body, sliding down her arms to her fingertips before collecting on the ground—the wet crimson almost matching her fingernail polish.
The body was shoeless and Jeanine’s feet were dirty and bloody—as if she had been running through the woods barefoot.

It was the sight of Jeanine’s face that made her sob in terror. Caked in grotesque makeup, making her look like a caricature of herself—a hideous broken doll. Red lipstick drawn heavy around her lips, dark purples for blush on her cheeks, and dark blues for eye shadow made her look like a circus clown instead of her friend.

Beside Jeanine’s body, a necklace hung on the fence. It was a small locket that she
always wore, which her mother had given her when she turned sixteen.

Mandy mouthed the word “Jeanine” but no sound escaped her lips. Realizing she still had her cell phone in her hand, she tried to dial 911 but fumbled a few times with the buttons before she heard the words, Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?”

Jennifer Chase is a multi award-winning and USA Today BestSelling crime fiction author, as well as a consulting criminologist. Jennifer holds a bachelor’s degree in police forensics and a master’s degree in criminology & criminal justice. These academic pursuits developed out of her curiosity about the criminal mind as well as from her own experience with a violent psychopath, providing Jennifer with deep personal investment in every story she tells. In addition, she holds certifications in serial crime and criminal profiling.  She is an affiliate member of the International Association of Forensic Criminologists, and member of the International Thriller Writers. You can visit her website at www.authorjenniferchase.com or connect with her on TwitterGoodreads and Facebook.

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Release Blitz: In a Devil Bind by Makayla Roberts #eroticromance #suspense @totally_bound @firstforromance

In a Devil Bind by Makayla Roberts

Word Count: 66,127
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 242

GENRES:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
ANGELS AND DEMONS
CONTEMPORARY
CRIME AND MYSTERY
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Book Description

 

It has been one hell of a week.

With a serial killer on the loose and her carnal needs spiraling out of control, the last thing Detective Cheyenne Wilcox needs is to be deterred. As her cursed fate would have it, she gets the biggest hindrance of all when she winds up drugged with a spell that prevents her from moving more than six feet away from none other than Thorne Lucifer—an egotistical playboy whom she hates more than anything. Perhaps it was a good thing he didn’t remember her from the past, because the moment they manage to find a way to break the spell, she’s going to go above and beyond to erase all traces of him from her life…again.

Chey is one hot succubus, but her detached attitude is nothing but a nuisance to Thorne. Plus, having her following him everywhere presents a threat to his hard-earned reputation as Elysium’s most eligible bachelor. However, he can’t deny the sizzling attraction between them, or the fact that her feistiness only makes him eager to have her submit to him.

There’s a fine line between lust and love, and though Chey seems determined to keep things casual until the spell is broken, for the first time in his life, Thorne is leaning more toward the latter.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, stalking and murder. It is best read as book two in The Lucifer Brothers series.

Excerpt

Waking up in a stranger’s bed was nothing new to Thorne Lucifer. At age eighty and some change, sex was one of the few things he had to keep from dying of boredom most days. If someone asked him to count how many lovers he’d taken in the past year alone—hell, the past month—he couldn’t even give two names. They all came and went—pun intended.

On this occasion, however, he couldn’t recall a day in his life when he’d awakened chained to a stranger’s bed with a splitting headache and a bad case of nausea, having been stripped down to nothing more than his socks. With a grunt, he squinted his eyes open, sighing with relief when the only lights he could make out were from a handful of dim candles that had been placed on top of a wooden dresser. He didn’t think his hangover would be very kind to him if he’d been encased in full illumination. A faint orange glow shone from the open door across from him—a bathroom, most likely.

He soon became aware of his other senses. Something smelled like mildew, piss and the very ass of hell. There was the sound of shuffling and scraping, though it was very light. It was distant, perhaps coming from another room.

Something cold and wet soaked one side of his head, so he turned a bit to spot a clear zipped bag filled with water, though the outside was coated in condensation.

Aw, his lover had been considerate enough to give him an ice pack for his hangover. How sweet.

With a snort, he waited until his vision cleared further before taking in his surroundings—moldy walls with chipped paint that had lost color long ago, a busted bubble-back TV, a crooked painting of a bland flower and furniture covered in stains that came from only-the-gods-knew what. Even the bed he was on was lumpy and uncomfortable, resulting in a deep ache in his lower back. A pile of sharp rocks would have been preferable.

He crinkled his nose in disgust. While he wasn’t as particular about his sex partners as his uptight brothers were, he was damn sure not down with doing business in raggedy motel rooms. He was a classier dude than that. He’d screw his partner in a dark alley and send her on her way before bedding down in one of these shitholes.

What gives?

He frowned, images of the previous night coming back in bits and pieces. He’d gone to one of his favorite bars on the east side of town after leaving work. It had been a slow Saturday, so he’d wanted to go out for some drinks to pass the time. He was a big drinker, so throwing back shot after shot hadn’t even given him a buzz. Instead, it’d put him in a horny mood, and he’d been scanning the crowd for the hottest woman to take home for a night of fun. If he were lucky, he would have found two of them.

It hadn’t taken long before he’d spotted a petite blonde sashaying toward him. She hadn’t been the only one interested, of course. Despite being a Lucifer, his devilishly handsome looks and easy smile always aided him in attracting the opposite sex. But that woman had been a nymph—his favorite. He’d sensed that right off the bat and wasted no time ordering a drink for her while they made small talk.

Everything went blurry from there. He vaguely recalled her leading him to the dance floor, grinding against his dick in tune with the music. Then they were outside and…everything went blank.

Frown deepening, he realized the wench must have slipped something into one of his drinks. He glanced down at his naked body, checking for any damage. Nothing. Not even a little nick from a needle drawing blood. He grunted, pushing himself up the musty pillows.

Well, damn. If she hadn’t cut him open in his sleep, what the hell had she drugged him for? He’d already planned on screwing her brains out, so if she’d thought to use him for sex, it was pointless.

“Yo, nympho. You there?” he called, his voice rough from waking up. “You can unchain me now.”

Of course, he didn’t receive an answer. However, there was another collection of shuffling and thumping from the other room. He tugged on the chains binding his wrists in a way that made him look like he was being fucking crucified. A quick glance around showed a key on the nightstand next to him, and he sighed.

An ice pack and the key to free himself. How freaking considerate of her.

As he unlocked his chains, he grumbled a series of expletives under his breath, all directed at the vixen who’d caused this. While he didn’t mind being used for sex, he’d be damned if he’d let it slide that someone had drugged him and left him in such a dank room. He didn’t even know where he was. The blondie better pray he didn’t find out her identity. He might be known as a pretty laid-back man, but he damn sure wasn’t one to be crossed.

Freed, he stood and bent his body this way and that to inspect his backside for any blemishes. It wouldn’t surprise him to find his back and ass ate up by bed bugs. He didn’t see any, but he wouldn’t hold his breath on that one. The longer he stood in the room, the grosser his skin felt.

He spotted his pants and shirt thrown over the back of an armchair and swiftly donned them, sneezing as a chill washed over him. Great. Not only were his surroundings filthy beyond repair, but there was also a draft. The top of his head felt cold as ice, despite the rest of the room feeling like a damn furnace. He pulled on his shoes and spotted his leather jacket tossed on top of the half-broken dining table. Next to it sat his cell phone and wallet, and a quick check showed that his battery had a little juice—and nothing was missing from his wallet, not even a single torq.

Before he could reach for his jacket, he paused at the sound of someone knocking—not at the front door but the one that connected his room to another.

Tensing in preparation to kick someone’s ass, he strolled over and unlocked the latch, then threw the off-white panel open. “You have two seconds to explain what—”

Thorne stumbled backward as someone crashed into him. “Fuck,” a female growled against his chest before shoving him away. Dressed only in a black bra and panties, she clutched the side of her head, her hand coming away with blood. “Fuck! I’m going to kill them. Ohhh, someone is going to fucking die tonight.”

He stiffened when she looked at him, her dark eyes mere slits of coal. She bared her teeth like a wild animal. “Did you have something to do with this?” She flashed him her palm.

He cocked one eyebrow and jerked his thumb over his shoulder. “I just woke up tied to the bed, lady. Not sure what the hell’s going on.” He narrowed his eyes, taking her in. She wasn’t the nymph, that was for sure. That woman had been blonde with sparkling green eyes and alabaster skin. The one before him was the total opposite. “Did you have something to do with this?”

She grumbled a curse and rushed over to his bathroom, dismissing his presence. Despite the strangeness of the circumstances and the amount of blood and dirt covering her, Thorne couldn’t help the way his gaze dropped to her rear. Hey, he was a man, after all, and he’d always loved his women with bigger assets—special emphasis on the ‘ass’ portion.

The thong she wore was shaped against her like a custom fit, the lush globes jiggling with each step she took. Her lower back had two dimples, another thing he’d always liked on women. What bits of almond-colored skin he could see looked smooth to the touch, everything tight with lean muscles that spoke of a regular exercise routine. Her raven hair was parted down the middle and pulled into two thick braids that fell nearly to her waist.

His dick grew a bit hard while he followed from a safe distance as she entered the bathroom.

Snatching up a half-empty water bottle from the sink, she grabbed a washcloth and wet it, then began to dab at her wound with light touches. “Those motherfuckers,” she jeered, wincing in pain when she applied pressure.

Thorne leaned against the doorjamb of the bathroom. “Do you have even the slightest clue what’s going on here? I can’t remember shit from last night.”

She scoffed. “That’s because somebody drugged you.”

“No shit. I’m asking who did it—and why.”

She tossed the bloodied towel aside before turning to face him. He tried to keep from gaping at her full breasts, which were barely contained by her lacy bra. She pouted, then planted one fist on her hip with no shame whatsoever at her lack of clothing. “Do you see this?” She pointed to her bleeding temple.

Forcing his gaze away from the breasts, Thorne grimaced at the deep gash struggling to knit itself closed. It was a wonder she was even conscious, given how much blood soaked her. A wave of nausea rolled through him. “Yeah, that’s gross.”

She twisted her lips into a grim line. “Those bastards are dead when I get my hands on them. Do you hear me? D-E-A-D.” Before he could ask what she meant, she eyed him with caution. “You’d better get yourself checked. From what I know about devils, you guys can regenerate, but you can still catch an infection.”

He frowned, doing everything he could to keep himself from throwing up. The bleeding had slowed to a stop, but the raw pink tissue lying beneath was what sickened him. “What are you talking about? I’m fine.”

She lifted a brow, peering at the top of his head. “Sure, you are, Thorne.”

With that, she slid past him and made her way back to her room. Thorne frowned after her. “How do you know my name?” He didn’t bother trying to hide the suspicion in his voice. He’d be lying if he said she looked familiar. He’d come across so many women in his life that there was no telling who she was. Then again, there were few people who didn’t know him. He was a Lucifer, after all. Their name was known far and wide as they sat atop the pillar of the Big Four families in Sheol. “Have we met before?”

She snorted in derision. “If you have to ask that, then no.” She didn’t even hesitate as she stepped over the threshold.

Thorne meant to follow her to get more information, but he paused at the sight of himself in the broken mirror. All the color drained from his face as he blinked at his reflection.

There, on the top of his head, was the worst monstrosity he’d seen since…since…hell if he knew. He couldn’t even think of the proper words to compare it to, but it was disastrous.

His horns. His beautiful, six-inch, curved horns that held engraved patterns that were a proud sign of maturity and virility…

One was missing. Gone. Cut from his head, leaving him looking like a lopsided freak of nature. Like a fucking unicorn or something.

At the top of his lungs, he bellowed, “What the fuck!

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About the Author

Makayla Roberts

Makayla’s love for reading began at the age of twelve when her mother introduced her to the world of mystical creatures. From then on, she discovered a talent for turning her own imagination into words. From fanfictions to short stories to full-length novels and novellas, if she wasn’t focused on school activities, she was either reading or writing.

Raised on the coast of Mississippi, Makayla juggles her everyday life between work and being a mom. In her free time, she enjoys binge watching criminal suspense shows, shopping, painting, wood burning, and of course, working on her books.

Makayla enjoys writing stories with strong elements of romance, adventure, and paranormal. Vampires, shifters, fairies, dragons—she loves them all!

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Release Blitz: The Silver Cage by Ana Raine #gayromance #shifters @changelingpress @AuthorAnaRaine @GoIndiMarketing

Title: The Silver Cage

Series: Restrained #1

Author: Ana Raine

Publisher: Changeling Press LLC

Release Date: July 9, 2021

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 66

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense, Science Fiction, 2nd Chance Romance, Shapeshifters, Werewolves, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy

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Synopsis

Danny barely remembers who he is, let alone his mate. After being taken from his pack years ago by a group of overzealous hunters, Danny identifies only as “Wolf” — the pet of the pack who helps track down other shifters for the hunters’ sport.

When Danny tracks down a female wolf, he hesitates to help imprison her male companion. At first Danny doesn’t remember this wolf, at least not logically, but his senses are completely overtaken and he’s sure he’s met this Alpha before.

This wolf isn’t just his former Alpha. Jamie is also his mate, and after years of believing Danny dead, Jamie’s not going to let his mate go ever again. Even if it means working together to kill each of the hunters so they can never take their lives again — or come between their mating bond.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2021 Ana Raine

I followed him silently, not that there was much of a chance to use words in our wolf form. I was beyond surprised I still drew breath, but I wasn’t going to let him in on that.

He was an Alpha. He was born to be a leader the way all Alphas were. Strong, fierce and with a natural desire to protect. As soon as he’d sniffed me, he’d let out a low growl that had me belly-up on the ground. His nose nudged my neck in acceptance, and then he headed toward the woods with nothing more than his Alpha voice in my head telling me to follow.

I knew he could talk to me with more than just basic commands. At least, he could if he were so inclined. I’d always wondered how powerful the boy who should have been my mate would have been had he been given a chance.

The hunters were behind us, but I knew at least a few would stay with Langdon. Langdon Sr. wouldn’t, though. He would want to come after me and bury a bullet in my brain himself.

Until there was blood, my blood, this wouldn’t be over. I whined and pawed the ground and drank more water than I needed in my effort to get the Alpha to release me. A faint thought popped into my mind that if I crawled back and begged for mercy, Langdon wanted me enough to stop my death. Then we’d go live whatever fairy tale he’d drawn up.

At least it was a life where I knew the outcome. This one with the Alpha just reminded me how out of touch I was with my kind. And with myself. Each step I took without feeling a whip against my flesh was a reminder I no longer remembered what it was to be free.

We ran part of the way, farther and farther from the female wolf who had to have been his mate. The little bit of her blood I tasted on my paw from when I brought her down smelled just like him. Why he was bothering to lead me so far away, I had no idea.

Eventually, the darkness overtook even our wolf eyesight, forcing us to retreat to a mostly empty stable. There was an old horse covered in a wool blanket and chewing some hay lazily.

She either had a death wish or wasn’t fazed by creatures of the night seeking shelter in her barn because she barely batted an eye before going back to her dinner.

An entire side of the barn was empty and had enough closure to keep us warm against the chill. I almost expected him to bark at me to go back outside to keep watch while he slept. Even though Alphas were supposed to act in the best interest of their pack, it didn’t always work out that way. And I wasn’t his pack, not really anyway.

I saw his body twist and contort as the sound of bone snapping and muscle stretching filled the silence of the barn. Fur receded as his skin became visible. With a barking cough that morphed from beast to man in a moment, there was now a man standing in front of me. He had his back to me, obviously not worried I would attack him from behind.

I saw his beautiful pale skin had been marred by a Hunter’s blade. I’d been cut enough myself to know how the scars looked when they faded. It had been years since his flesh had found the end of a blade, but it was there, just visible enough in the moonlight.

He was tall, so much taller than me, and I found myself staring at his legs, the curve of his ass. I longed for him to turn around so I could stare at what I was sure would be the most beautiful wolf I’d ever met since my mate was taken from me.

Hair as red as fire was loose around his shoulders, the same color he’d been as a wolf. I found myself feeling utterly insufficient to even be in his presence. My hair, blond and boring in comparison to his fire.

Just as I was thinking of backing out of the stable to give him space, his command stopped me. “Phase to a human.”

And oh, how I wanted to immediately do what he asked. To phase and to converse with him, but there was more than fear that I’d come across as stupid. There was also the fear I wasn’t enough. And I wanted to be.

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Meet the Author

Ana is still figuring out what she wants to do with her life, although social work seems to be the most likely. Her best friends are a box of chocolate and her kitten who always sit beside her while she writes. When Ana was in high school, she often wrote about the LGBT community, but now her work is less…innocent. Ana enjoys writing anything and everything, including BDSM, dragons, shifters, magic, and more.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads

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