Book Blitz: Insincerely Yours by Manasi Singh #suspense @BookReviewTours @thevanillawrite

All Ray wanted was to have some fun. Little did she know that what began as a harmless midnight adventure would soon end up being the most terrifying night of her life.

Shuttling back and forth between the States and whichever obscure Indian town her civil servant father was transferred to, Atreya ‘Ray’ Sen’s life has always been on the move. When she comes down to sleepy old Visakhapatnam and befriends Mira, Ray hopes she could be a successful means of whiling away her summer. When Mira invites her to a late-night adventure with Mira’s boyfriend and his pals, Ray jumps at the chance for some excitement. When one of the boys suggests they take a detour to one of Vizag’s most famous haunted houses, the night takes a turn for the dark. The spirit of a mean old man seems to be following them, killing them off one by one.
A near-death experience reveals to Ray that she is the only one who can bring peace to him. Now, Ray must race against time to find a way to save her family and friends, or else the once-peaceful town of Vizag would witness a bloodbath like never before.
An old Victorian mansion with a dark history…a spirit with a vengeance…a girl with no memory of her past…
Will Ray be able to stop the killings in time? Or will she be left with no friends and no family yet again?

Book Links:

Goodreads * Amazon.in * Amazon.com

Real Life Incident that inspired Insincerely Yours

In the words of Stephen King, we make up horrors to cope with the real ones. But what if the horrors written is a part of reality? What if the tale is written not just as fiction, but as a memoir to the unexplained that occurred years ago, yet bears fresh imprints in mind?
When I sat down to write this story, I had to resurrect memories from my college days, from that fateful night, when my friends and I had decided to have our own little late-night adventure. Back then, we were just stupid college freshmen who didn’t have a care in the world, who would go lengths for cheap thrills from the world of the supernatural. Here, I bring you the real-life story that inspired me to write Insincerely Yours.
Our night started on the cliché note of being cold and stormy. We had found our source for horror stories: our friend Vishnu. Vishnu would always keep us at the edge of our seats with his storytelling, and that evening was no different. We had assembled in a circle around him, drinks in our hands, when he started telling us about the legendary haunted house that stood proud just off the path to the beach in Vizag. As the story goes, the house belonged to a retired colonel and his family. They kept to themselves, but the neighbors often complained of yelling and fighting coming in the evenings. One night, the house fell silent, and the neighbors saw an eerie glow emanate from the windowpanes. When they went over in the morning to check, they found that the Colonel’s family had disappeared overnight. The house was still as is, sans the family that had once lived in it. Nobody knows where they went, and the watchman claimed he never saw anyone leave the house. Their mysterious disappearance gave rise to the stories that the house is haunted.
Scoffing at his words, my friends and I decided to check it out for ourselves. So off we went, Shreya, Swetank, Vishnu and I, on a drunken midnight visit to the famous haunted house. The house had a sinister look to it, with the front lawn stretching before us, coated with dried grass, exactly how I chose to describe in the book. Inside, the house looked like someone had lived here years ago, and had suddenly just chosen to walk out. The place oozed with a cold vibe, and I wasn’t the only one who felt it. We decided to explore the house a little, and each room creeped us out a little more than the next. Most of the belongings of the house had turned to debris owing to a cyclone that had wreaked havoc in Vizag a year ago, but there was one room that had managed to stay intact. Intrigued, we stepped in bravely, and immediately, we felt helpless. It was like the place had sucked the happiness out of our lives as a blanket of depression descended on us. We saw muddy footprints going towards the bathroom, and opened the door to find the room painted in vantablack, the darkest color known to humanity, often the sign of evil. The room started feeling like it was sucking the energy out of us, slowly as it grew. Swetank, being the most sensible of us, insisted we get some fresh air at the balcony we had seen on our way into the room. At the balcony, we felt the sudden weight the room had given us lift off us, and we slowly relaxed into conversation. In the entire time we were in that house, I kept getting this feeling that someone was watching us. As we were talking, I felt something move from the corner of my eye, and turned towards the balcony door, where I saw five shadows. Four was of us standing in the balcony, but one was coming from inside the house. As I turned around quickly to see if anyone else had noticed, I saw Swetank looking pale as a sheet. We saw the shadow stay for a few seconds, and it suddenly disappeared, vanishing. At this point, Swetank and I ushered the other two out of the house, and made a run for it. All we knew was that the old Victorian mansion housed something that was pure evil, so dark that even one hour in that place had left us feeling soulless for days after. Swetank and I promised then and there that we would never meddle with forces outside of our control ever again, but as you all know, promises are meant to be broken.

About the Author:

Manasi Singh is a lawyer, graduated from one of the top law schools in India in 2019. Lawyer by day and reader by night, Manasi always had a lot of stories to share, which she did by publishing short stories and articles in newspapers, magazines and journals. In 2019, she began writing short snippets on social media under the name “The Vanilla Writer”, shortly after which she published her first novel “As Fates Would Have It”, which was received warmly by readers of all ages. Manasi is a firm believer in art and creativity not being restrained in any way, which is why she writes short stories, fiction novels, screenplays for short films, and much more.

Manasi on the Web:
Twitter * Instagram * Facebook 

Release Blitz: Sweet Hart by Rae Marks #LGBTQ #contemporaryromance @pridepublishing

Sweet Hart by Rae Marks

Book 1 in the Hart Consulting series

Word Count: 79,903
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 321

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BONDAGE AND BDSM
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
FAKE RELATIONSHIPS
GAY
GLBTQI
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

When Brayden stumbles into a covert operation, Sam has to keep him alive. Together they navigate their unexpected attraction and the world of the Ukrainian mafia.

Brayden Hart needs to find his older brother Mason and time is running out. Mason disappeared after being discharged from the military two years before. While on leave from the army, Bray follows a lead his friend has been able to find. When he knocks on the door of a dingy apartment outside Miami, the last person he expects to meet is the gorgeous but grumpy Sam Wheeler.

Sam denies knowing Bray’s brother and turns him away. But Sam is Bray’s only lead. Luckily, Bray’s childhood friend is one of the best hackers in the country and helps Bray follow Sam to Ukraine.

In Kiev, Bray falls blindly into the fray of a covert operation and Sam steps in to keep him alive. While navigating the choppy waters of the Ukrainian mafia, Bray and Sam fall into the bedroom. But what happens when the mission ends?

Reader advisory: This book contains references to historical rape, child sexual abuse and sex trafficking. There are also scenes of violence.

Excerpt

“Look, kid. I got nothing to tell you.”

Bray pulled his gaze from the full lips he’d been watching as the man in the doorway, Sam, gave a flat refusal. He took a deep, calming breath and willed away his body’s response. Maybe he needed to back up a little and explain the urgency of the situation. He didn’t have a lot of time to find Mase, and this Sam guy was his best bet.

The guy blocking the doorway would be hot if his eyebrows weren’t pinched together so tight and his big, full lips weren’t turned down. Hell, he was still hot, even in full intimidation mode.

Sam’s honey-blond hair was longer on top and styled high. His groomed beard was just a few shades darker than the hair on his head and hinted at the tiniest bit of red highlights. Bray lowered his eyes again to Sam’s lips. Both were plump, but the top lip was a little fuller than the bottom one. That was rare, in Bray’s experience, but sexy as hell.

The tic in the jaw next to those lips brought Bray back to the matter at hand. He looked up into Sam’s cinnamon-brown eyes as he considered his options.

“I know you’re working with Mase and I have to find him. I’m—”

“I don’t know what you’re going on about, but I have shit to do.”

Sam tried to close the old, paint-chipped door in Bray’s face, but Bray stepped forward, using his foot as a doorstop. He wouldn’t give up that easily. Bray needed to untie his tongue and keep on task, no matter how sexy the guy was.

“Please, I don’t have a lot of time. I just need to talk to him.”

“Look, kid—”

“I’m not a kid. I know he’s pulled some crazy stunts since he got kicked out—”

“You don’t know shit, kid. If you just got kicked out of the military and you’re looking for camaraderie and a job, forget it.”

As soon as Sam said the word ‘military’, Bray breathed a sigh of relief. Sam swore under his breath. So the guy definitely knew his brother. Sam flexed his huge biceps as he crossed his arms. His head dipped to one side as he leaned forward. Bray swallowed then a tiny breath escaped his lips as he imagined the man before him leaning in to steal a kiss. Was this guy Mase’s boyfriend? If so, his brother was one lucky bastard.

“Move your foot. Like I said, kid, you don’t know shit,” Sam ground out through clenched teeth.

“Just tell me what’s going on. Is he okay? If he’d returned any of my emails over the past two and half years, maybe I’d know more about what was happening.”

“You think I can help you?”

Bray gave one sharp nod of confirmation. Sam blew a breath out between his lush lips and dropped his arms to his sides. The crease between his brows eased a bit as he seemed to really look at Bray for the first time. He looked over Bray’s head down the hallway for a moment before coming to some kind of decision.

“What’s your name, kid?”

“Bray, Brayden Hart.”

There was a pause. Bray assumed it was Sam digesting Bray’s last name, Mase’s last name.

“Well, I’m sorry, but I got nothing for you, Mr. Hart.”

“How’d you know I was in the army?”

“You got it written all over you, from your close-cropped cut to your military stance.” The guy rolled his eyes and shook his head. “I’ve got things to do, kid, so do you mind moving your foot—or do I need to move it for you?”

Bray wet his dry lips as he contemplated his choices. He could call Max for another favor, but if he went that route, he’d need this part to be believable.

“I can just sit out here and wait until he comes home.”

“You’ll be waiting the rest of your life, kid.”

“It’s Bray or Brayden, and I think you have a really good idea when you’ll be talking to Mase again.”

Looking over Sam’s shoulder, Bray took in the shit-hole apartment with its dingy brown carpet and walls so old that the wallpaper was peeling at the corners along the ceiling. A ceiling with tiles that had different-sized brown rings, a sure sign of water damage. Was this how Mase was living now? The thought made Bray’s gut twist uncomfortably.

If Mase needed money… Bray shook his head. Mase would never be the one to reach out, which was exactly why Bray was standing in the hallway that smelled like piss mixed with broccoli farts. Unless the inside of the apartment smelled better, he didn’t see how anyone could even think about putting a morsel of food into their mouth in this place.

If by chance Sam did talk to Mase before Brayden could get to him, he had to figure out a message most likely to get a response. Would Mase come home or even return a call if he knew the truth? Probably not. Bray bit his lip as he waffled. He didn’t like lying, and he especially didn’t like lying to family. He wasn’t sure he’d ever be able to forgive his father for his ‘little white lie’.

“When you see him, tell him Nickel needs him. Tell him it’s looking like it might be life or death.”

Both those statements taken separately were absolutely one hundred percent true. Nick might deny he needed their older brother, but he and Bray were twins. Bray knew they both required all the support they could get.

When Mase heard those statements together, Bray knew what he’d assume, and he’d have to apologize for it later. For now, he decided it was the best route. He had a feeling Sam would repeat those statements verbatim to his brother.

“Nickel?” Sam asked.

“Nick, my twin.”

“Twins? There’re two of you running around wreaking havoc?”

“Nick wreaks more havoc and we’re not identical, so there aren’t exactly two of me.”

Sam’s only response was a raised eyebrow.

“So you’ll tell him?”

“I’m sorry. There’s no way I can help you,” Sam said with the shake of his head.

Even though Bray was anxious, he hesitated before lifting his foot. He needed Sam to think he was reluctant to leave. Sam was only a couple inches taller than Bray’s five-foot-eleven-inch frame, but he hunched down a little, so they were eye to eye.

“I can’t help you,” Sam said again.

Bray swallowed as energy began to hum under his skin at the man’s direct stare. He couldn’t be lusting after his brother’s boyfriend. Wetting his dry lips one last time, Bray nodded and lifted his foot. The two men stared at each other for a moment longer, until the sound of a baby screaming somewhere down the hall had Bray turning his head. Before he could even suck in another breath, the door in front of him slammed shut and the lock snicked into place.

With a dejected sigh, Brayden looked at the door for another minute. Guilt had his stomach tightening into knots. He couldn’t afford to stand around, though his hesitation to leave would probably work in his favor in case Sam was watching through the peephole.

When he pushed open the door of the building a few minutes later, Bray sucked in some of the fresh air. He didn’t even care that his clothes immediately glued themselves to his body with the humidity Florida was famous for. He was just glad to be out of the stench that had pressed down on him inside the apartment building.

After one last glance at the second floor, Bray walked down the sidewalk toward the parking lot. As soon as he was in his rental car, he dialed Max’s number.

“How’d it go?” Max said.

“He wouldn’t even admit he knew Mase.”

There was silence on the other end. Max had warned him against making contact with Sam. He’d suggested following him until he led Bray to Mase, but Bray didn’t have that kind of time.

“So, it looks like you were right,” Bray admitted.

There was still silence on the other end of the line.

“Look, Sin. I still need help.”

Bray always struggled calling his friend by his pseudonym. Even though it stood for Super Intel Nerd, calling a nerdy guy like Max, Sin seemed funny to Bray.

“Next time listen to me. You’ve now ruined the advantage of surprising him.”

“Fine. Can you find out where he’s going?”

“Of course I can.”

Bray could hear the light click-clack of Max tapping on the keys of his laptop. Putting the phone on Bluetooth, Bray started his rental and pulled out of the parking spot behind Sam’s apartment building.

“Where’s he going?” Bray asked as he pulled out onto the street.

“I have him traveling out of Miami to Kiev tomorrow with a stopover in Munich.”

Bray tapped his fingers on the steering wheel. This had just gotten a lot more complicated and expensive than he’d anticipated. Was Mase undercover or was he in trouble? If he was in trouble, Bray wanted to be there.

“Looks like I’ll be heading to Kiev,” he sighed.

“I’ll book you a flight that stops over in DC. I’ve got something I want to give you if you’re going to Kiev.”

“I just have to check out of the hotel. Give me a couple of hours to get to the airport.”

Max disconnected the call without saying goodbye, but it didn’t surprise Bray at all. Max was always on to the next problem.

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Rae Marks

Rae has been secretly penning romances since high school. It started with short stories that grew into full-length novels. When she received her first Kindle and had thousands of books at her fingertips, she became a little distracted from writing. Then one day she read a book that she would have written a different way. She began writing again and hasn’t stopped since.

When she’s not writing, Rae can usually be found reading, walking along the beaches of Half Moon Bay, or taking her geriatric dog to the vet, yet again.

You can follow Rae on Instagram.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

Rae Marks Sweet Hart Giveaway

RAE MARKS IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 25TH May 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

//cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.js

SPOTLIGHT: Goddess of Everything by Paul DeBlassie III #paranormalthriller @pdeblassieii

Goddess of Everything

Paul DeBlassie III

 
Genre: Paranormal Thriller
Publisher: Hallowed Realms Press
Date of Publication: 2.11.20 
ISBN: 978-0-578-81368-4
ASIN: B08R13FQSH
Number of pages: 199
Word Count: 57,900
Cover Artist: Aaron C. Yeagle
 
Tagline: Goddess of Everything is a blood-curdling tale of the affection of one mother for her son and her son’s struggle for truth, freedom, and love.
 
Book Description:
 
In the mystic land of Aztlan del Norte, a realm of supernatural happenings and unexpected turns of fate, psychiatric healer Gabriél de LaTierra encounters appalling evil within the Orphanage of the Holy Innocents. Children disappear for reasons kept secret by Mother Juana de la Cruz, Superior of the Nunnery and the Orphanage.
 
Love for Mother Juana, Gabriél’s widowed mother turned religious superior, clouds her devoted son’s mind. Consuela, Gabriél’s wife, confronts his wall of denial. Torn between love for mother and wife, Gabriél turns inward.
 
It is Consuela who propels Gabriél’s discovery of the nighttime blood sacrifice of children in the desert, a centuries-old ritual that imparts immortality to Mother and her nuns. Gabriél is further enraged by Mother Juana’s vengeful attack on Consuela and her kidnapping of their four-year-old son, Cuauhtémoc. But his actions will determine whether Consuela and Cuauhtémoc live or die, and the fate of Mother Juana de la Cruz.
 
Goddess of Everything is a blood-curdling tale of the affection of one mother for her son and her son’s struggle for truth, freedom, and love.
 

Excerpt

His mother wailed again. Nighttime darkness continued to descend, and the wind stayed its brutal course at Father’s funeral. Mother Juana hadn’t noticed the spirit of a
man cloaked in light beside Gabriél. He wasn’t Gabriél’s father. He was more
than a man; he was everything that Father was and more. Through the corner of
his eyes, Gabriél saw the white-bearded old man. In many ways, in many forms,
I will come. The words were close as heartbeats and breath. He knew if he
turned and looked directly at him, the man would disappear. The light was
intense, like rays of the sun. The old man had something to say.

Suddenly, unclean sounds went into Gabriél’s ears and chest—crackling and squealing voices rising from under the earth and into his body, trying to block out the
lingering presence of the old man and his words. Like a god, the white-bearded
man lifted his right hand, fingers spread. The noise went up from the ground
into his palm, a mighty hand with powerful magic.

Gabriél’s mind became silent as a windless autumn night, magic making him still inside, just like he was when in his bedroom reading alone. The old man was strong and made
what was bad cease. Even as the underworld racket stopped, the graveyard winds
kept up their awful screams.

The quiet of the man and the moment wrapped strong and warm arms around Gabriél. Invisibility stood guard around the old man. Mother could not see him. No one could see him.
He was there only for Gabriél. He bent down beside Gabriél and touched his
shoulder. A crystal clear calm made the shrieking wind and the crying women and
the priest’s strange prayers seem far, far away.

Mother’s red hair blew in the wind like it was on fire. It didn’t scare Gabriél because of
the old man, his warm and solid hands steady on Gabriél’s shoulders. His kind
eyes said he was ten thousand times ten-thousand-years old. His mother’s red
hair and shrieking prayers no longer scared him.

Then the old man spoke, and through Gabriél’s mind sent a message, LISTEN… WHEN THE DAY GOES AWAY AND THE NIGHT COMES, REMEMBER I AM HERE. He touched Gabriél’s heart. LISTEN.

Gabriél’s mother abruptly glanced down at him. He looked into her eyes and knew she
hadn’t heard the old man, but she had a squint in her eyes. Her eyes glowed
red, and the old man’s hands did not move from Gabriél’s shoulders.

Big branches from the cottonwoods cast long moon shadows over the grave. Now they looked like skinny people scratching at each other, cloaking the old man. The wind
picked up its screeching.

Gabriél’s heart pounded like stampeding horses.

Mother squeezed his hand. His fingers tangled together, tips burning with pain. Then she looked away and wailed more loudly than ever.

The old man continued, TELL NO ONE ABOUT ME. I WILL HELP YOU AS A BOY. I WILL HELP YOU AS A MAN. LISTEN. The old man motioned again to Gabriél’s heart and then touched between Gabriél’s eyes, the brow point.

The old man stopped and looked up.

Gabriél caught his mother’s gaze.

She’d seen the old man, pointed at him, and screeched like the evil winds.

Blistering dust and grit blinded Gabriél. He pulled his hand away from his mother and rubbed his eyes and tried to clear them, but when he looked again, squinting, he saw
that the light of the old man had vanished.

His mother was wrapped in a cloud of dust. Out of the cloud came a coyote, foam curling from its mouth. It howled, and an instant later legions of dust devils took over the
landscape and swallowed it in clouds of dust, trash, and tumbleweeds.

Mother reappeared beside him and picked him up. She screeched with a million hateful
voices. His heart beat rapidly, fluttered like a flock of sparrows flying away. Catching his breath was hard.

“The night plays tricks,” his mother seethed, her breath hot and rank.

The winds suddenly ceased. Brown and gray clouds gave way to blackness that closed in and covered the full moon. Spirits of children rose out of their graves. They pointed at Gabriél and his mother. Their hands and fingers grew and reached to grab him, take him away under the earth.

Mother swept her black shawl over Gabriél. She whispered, “I will protect you, mijo.”

They escaped into the jet-black night.

 

About the Author:

Paul DeBlassie III, Ph.D., is a psychologist and award-winning writer living in his native New Mexico, crafting visionary thrillers energized with trickster mischief and natural magic.

https://www.pauldeblassieiii.com/

https://www.facebook.com/pdeblassieiii

https://twitter.com/pdeblassieiii

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56373593-goddess-of-everything

Release Blitz: Sticks and Stones by Steve Burford #thriller #LGBTQ @GoIndiMarketing @ninestarpress

Title: Sticks and Stones

Series: Summerskill and Lyon, Book Three

Author: Steve Burford

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/08/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 69600

Genre: Contemporary Police Procedural, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, crime/thriller, family-drama, murder, drug dealer, school, politician

Add to Goodreads

Description

“He’s a thug… a really nasty piece of work.”

When young Clayton Kerry, member of a notorious Worcester family, is found dead on an abandoned factory site, it looks like an accident. Some even say it was what he deserved. But headteacher Alun Blake’s refusal to sugarcoat the truth about the pupil he excluded causes outrage in the local community and sparks a vendetta against him that rapidly spirals out of control threatening both his life and that of his daughter.

When Detective Inspector Summerskill and Detective Sergeant Lyon investigate, they find Clayton’s death was by no means as clear cut as it had seemed and that they are at the start of a trail that will take them into the heart of a school and far beyond the boundaries of their city, to crime on a national scale.

As they uncover what really happened, Summerskill and Lyon are brought face-to-face with uncomfortable truths about their own lives and relationships. Personal loyalties are tested, and before the case is through, at least one more person will die.

Sticks and Stones is the third in the Summerskill and Lyon series of police procedural novels.

Excerpt

Sticks and Stones
Steve Burford © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“And some sad news just in. A tragic accident today on the site of one of the county’s oldest landmarks has resulted in the death of a Worcestershire schoolboy. Fifteen-year-old Clayton Kerry was killed when one of the walls of a building on the site of the old William Fitzmaurice brewery collapsed.

“The Fitzmaurice brewery, once the producer of some of the county’s most prestigious beers and ciders, has been a familiar site on the banks of the River Severn for as long as anyone in the county can remember. For decades, however, it has been closed and deserted, its buildings neglected and crumbling. All attempts over the years to procure the site for redevelopment have been blocked by legal wranglings within the Fitzmaurice family.

“James Fitzmaurice, oldest surviving member of the brewing family, today said that he and his family were deeply saddened by the death but that they could take no responsibility.

“We’ll have more on that story in our local news bulletin later this evening. And now, over to Duncan Lewis with today’s weather…”

The picture on the screen changed to an earnest young weather forecaster in glasses, smiling in front of a map of the country even as a mass of CGI storm clouds crept in from the west.

“Tragic accident.” The man in the bed yawned, muted the television, and carelessly tossed the remote control to one side. “It was hardly going to be an amusing accident or a laughable misadventure, was it?”

Sitting on the other side of the bed, Dave Lyon paused in the act of pulling on his trousers. “And is that all you’ve got to say about it?”

The man he’d addressed gave one of his typical crooked smiles, laced his hands behind his head, and lay back against the large pillows. The sheets were pulled down low over his stomach, and Dave didn’t doubt that their position and the pose had both been deliberately chosen to afford him a good view of the body he was getting ready to leave. It was a great body. “What do you want me to say?” Sean Cullen asked. “That I’m heartbroken over the death of some kid I’ve never even met? Touch hypocritical don’t you think?”

“You’re an MP. I thought that was part of the job description.”

Cullen smiled again. Dave’s barb hadn’t pierced his thick politician’s skin at all. But then Dave hadn’t thought for a second it would. “And you’re a detective sergeant. Didn’t you detect anything about that report?”

“What do you mean? It was an accident. The report didn’t say anything about suspicious circumstances.”

Cullen tutted slowly, clearly enjoying himself. “You heard them say the old Fitzmaurice brewery has been closed for years, and I mean years. Even I used to slip through its fences and hide in the buildings when I was a kid.”

“Bunking off from your posh public school for a crafty fag with the lads?”

“I was never one of the lads, David, and even if I had been, I wouldn’t have wanted them with me while I was enjoying my cigarette and a copy of Zipper or Vulcan or whatever I’d managed to get my hands on. Anyway, these days the old Fitzmaurice brewery has got more barbed wire around it than the nearest HMP but it’s still notorious as a hangout for kids drinking and taking God knows what. Which means, the victim of our tragic accident would have had to walk through several very obstructive fences and have failed to notice several very prominent warning signs before he made it to the buildings where he was no doubt in the act of doing something very naughty before a ton of bricks fell on his trespassing little head.” Cullen assumed an expression of mock surprise. “I know my constituency, sergeant. Don’t you know your beat?”

Annoyed with himself and with Cullen, Dave was damned if he’d show it. Now he thought about it, he did remember some talk back at the Foregate Street station about the brewery, but he was still comparatively new to the area, and neither the name nor the reputation of the place had struck a chord when he’d heard that television report.

Cullen, of course, made no allowances. The product of an Oxford education, where he had been on a winning Boat Race team, and of an adversarial parliamentary system where he had been, when elected to the House of Commons over a decade previously, one of the youngest MPs in the house, Sean Cullen was an extremely competitive man. And that competitiveness, Dave was discovering, extended all the way into his personal life.

Dave took some comfort from the image of the young public school boy Cullen had been, sneaking off to abandoned warehouses to smoke and enjoy gay wank mags. It was good to remember he hadn’t always been the high-profile, smug arse he was now. “Well, whatever he was doing, I doubt it was going through his collection of gay porn.”

“You think kids have changed so much?”

“No. But they do have the internet. Any young lad these days can pleasure himself blind in the comfort of his own home. Straight or gay.”

Cullen reluctantly conceded the point. “Mind you, it wasn’t all just about the fags and mags.” He yawned lazily, like a self-satisfied cat recalling an empty carton of cream.

Dave buttoned up his shirt, began the search for his shoes, and refused to give Cullen the satisfaction of asking what he meant by that. How was it you could only ever find one shoe when you were trying to leave a guy’s bedroom? “Why’d you even want the television on anyway?” he asked as he searched. “You trying to impress me with the size of your screen?”

“I thought I already had impressed you. And I was hoping,” Cullen went on, before Dave could reply, “to catch something about my Fitness First initiative. I did an interview about it yesterday for the local news. They said it might be on today. We’ve probably missed it. Or it’s been dropped in favour of the tragic accident. I’ll check again later.”

“Want to see how good your profile looks on the television?”

Cullen smiled, the sheet over his body slipping down another inch, almost accidentally. “I know how good it looks on television.”

Yeah, I’ll bet you do. Like the body, Sean’s was a great profile. With those cheekbones, there had to be aristocracy somewhere in his family bloodline. “I’m only surprised you haven’t got a mirror over the bed.”

Cullen yawned. “Too seventies. And it would get in the way of the cameras.”

Missing shoe found, Dave stood, reached for his jacket, and forced himself not to look up at the ceiling over the bed. A joke. Just a joke. Don’t give him the reaction he wants. “I’ll see myself out, shall I?”

“I think you know the way by now.”

At the bedroom door Dave stopped, hand on the handle, and looked back. Cullen’s eyes were closed as if he was already drifting into sleep. “You never ask me to stay.” It was a simple fact, calmly stated.

Cullen didn’t open his eyes. “Would you?”

Dave considered. “No. See you later.”

“I look forward to it.”

Neither man suggested when or where that might be.

This had been their third hookup at Cullen’s house since that night they had walked out of Gallery 48 together, and this was pretty much the way it had ended the previous two times. Dave couldn’t see that changing any time soon.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Steve Burford lives close to Worcester but rarely risks walking its streets. He has loaded conveyor belts in a factory, disassembled aeroplane seats, picked fruit on farms, and taught drama to teenagers but now spends his time writing in a variety of genres under a variety of names. He finds poverty an effective muse, and since his last book has once again been in trouble with the police. (He would like to thank the inventor of the speed camera.)

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

Release Blitz: Birthday Presents by Dianne Hartsock #LGBTQ #thriller @diannehartsock @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Birthday Presents

Author: Dianne Hartsock

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/08/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 47500

Genre: Horror/Thriller, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, suspense, crime, serial killer, law enforcement, kidnapping

Add to Goodreads

Description

Crimson loves to dance. He adores watching the pretty boys grind to the frantic beat of the music and picking out his lover for the evening. But more than that, he lives for his birthday, that one day a year he gives into his darker impulses: choosing a young man to lure into the alleyway with promises of sex, then slitting his throat in the midst of their passion and reveling in the hot blood on his hands.

For Tracey Winston, life has become a nightmare. Kidnapped from a nightclub in Boulder, Colorado, brutalized and raped by Crimson, he’s held captive in a cabin in the Rocky Mountains along with sweet Kyle, a young man Crimson keeps chained to his bed and is slowly torturing to death. Though Tracey manages to escape with Kyle’s help, he has to leave Kyle behind in Crimson’s cruel hands.

Detective Gene Mallory has never stopped looking for his brother Kyle, kidnapped from a nightclub seven months previously. The case breaks open when Tracey Winston comes forth at the urging of his new boyfriend, claiming to have knowledge of where Crimson is hiding out. A manhunt begins with Crimson continuously slipping through their net. Lives are on the line, with both Gene and Tracey being targeted by the killer. A traitor in their midst tips Crimson off to their plans.

Crimson’s birthday has come and gone, and he will kill again.

Excerpt

Birthday Presents
Dianne Hartsock © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
Excitement plucked at Crimson’s nerves, and he licked his lips, his blood surging to the merciless drumbeat. He rolled his hips to the music, an old White Zombie album, the static only adding to the nostalgia. Raising his arms, he pictured the hot body he’d grind against at the club that night, young, slim, rounded ass snug against him. Maybe he’d get his hands under his shirt, a finger in the guy’s pants stroking the wet tip of his cock.

He imagined the breathy moans in the dark alley afterward. The scared whimpers, screams muffled by Crimson’s hand clamped over the gorgeous lips he’d ravaged of their sweetness moments before. He felt the hard knife in his hand and shuddered, envisioning the hot blood pumping over his skin when he slit the vulnerable throat. Fuck, he loved his birthday!

Tossing the comb he’d run over his long hair onto the cluttered vanity, he then trailed fine-boned fingers over his chest and flat stomach. Pert nipples ached to be teased. A secret smile slid over his black-painted lips as he cupped the bulge in his tight jeans. What boy could resist this?

After adding a black tee shirt, he searched the dark eyes in the mirror, pursed his lips. Gloss? Definitely. He knew a certain bouncer at the club who was susceptible to Cherry Kiss. Well, that and Crimson’s mouth on his dick.

He narrowed his lids at the crescent moon scar under his left eye, temper flaring through him. Though healed, the skin was still an angry red. That bitch Tracey…

Crimson willed his hands to unclench. Nothing that a little concealer couldn’t make disappear. A thump sounded on the wall, and a frown marred the perfect features in the mirror. Kyle knew better than to disturb him while he was dressing. His face softened. Kyle. His little gem. How long had they been together? Six months?

The eyes in his reflection widened. That would make Kyle twenty. He’d forgotten they shared a birthday.

“Crimson’s coming, angel,” he murmured and grinned viciously at the name, blood and pain and death. He’d used other aliases in the past, but this was by far his favorite.

With a last glance in the mirror, he left the room and crossed the hall, tapping on Kyle’s door before entering. Kyle lay in the middle of the bed, his pale skin decadent against the red silk sheets. His darling looked lonely. Of course he did, with Tracey’s side of the bed empty. How many times had he stood at the foot of the bed to watch them play together? Or join in, lost in the haze of sweat-slicked skin and hard cocks, lips and tongues and roving fingers, pain and ecstasy.

But yesterday Tracey had left them as if their time together meant nothing, betraying Crimson’s trust. He drew several deep breaths, letting the anger roll through him, then out in an exhale. Tracey was dead to him.

“Did you need me, sweetheart?” he asked as he lay down and gathered Kyle in his arms. His skin felt dry, soft, tight over a sparse skeleton. Crimson could break his bones if he held too tightly.

Kyle’s enormous light blue eyes swam with tears, bright with desperation. So lovely. “You’re leaving again?” he whispered, timid.

“We’ve discussed this. I always go out on my birthday.”

“But if something happens to you…”

“I suppose you’ll die of starvation. No, thirst.” Crimson laughed at the shiver that swept the emaciated body. “Nothing will happen to me. Promise.”

Crimson picked up Kyle’s shackled hand with its long chain bolted to the floor and kissed the palm. He stroked Kyle’s limp cock and watched with satisfaction as it thickened under his touch. “Would you like me to fuck you tonight?”

Kyle nodded, despair in his eyes. Crimson kissed his sweet lips, his heart moved. Kyle had been a wild thing during their first months together. Running his hands over the thin chest, he regretted the scars he’d had to put on the pale flesh before Kyle had broken. He twisted a pale nipple and grew hard at the gasp and shudder from his lover.

He leaned up on an elbow. There was no reason he couldn’t stay and play with Kyle before he left. His cock ached with the thought. No. Denied lust would add a delicious edge to the evening. But still…

Leaning across Kyle to the bedside table, he fingered the silver nipple clamps. His baby loved those. The plug? No, he wanted Kyle nice and tight when he got home. Cursing the time, he gave Kyle a last passionate kiss. “I’ll be home soon.”

Kyle rolled against him, wrapping him in skinny arms. “Don’t go. Stay with me. I’m afraid when you go.”

“Hush, baby. You won’t even know I’m gone.” He kissed Kyle’s damp eyes and licked his tears.

Crimson reluctantly left the bed. Kyle’s pleas tempted him, but he had something to take care of before he could wring pain and pleasure from his lover’s body. He whistled on the way downstairs, pulling on thin black gloves. Grabbing up his keys from the hook by the door, he then stepped into the afternoon sunshine and drew a deep breath of the warm, pine-scented air. It was a twenty-minute drive into town, which left plenty of time for shopping and a meal before the clubs opened. Perfect.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination.

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway
https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js

Blog Button 2

New Release Blitz: Retrograde by Desiree Holt #eroticromance #suspense @desireeholt

Retrograde by Desiree Holt

General Release Date: 22nd December 2020

Heat Rating: Burning
Format: EBOOK
ISBN: 978-1-83943-470-9
Sexometer: 2
Word Count: 80,672
Language: English
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 297
Genres: CONTEMPORARY, EROTIC ROMANCE, THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

Hot ex-military, desperate woman, tight conspiracy…wait for the explosion!

Peyton West is desperate. Her brother-in-law is dead, her sister is in a coma and no one seems interested in finding any answers. With every door slammed in her face, she’s referred to Scott “Blaze” Hamilton and the men from super-secret Galaxy.

Conducting meetings on a plane and digging into the underbelly of Tampa politics, she sees a ray of hope…and discovers Blaze lives up to his name in more ways than one. She crosses her fingers that the scorching sex will continue to blaze once the killer is found.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder and attempted murder.

Excerpt

Well, didn’t this just turn out to be a clusterfuck.

“They’re gaining on us,” John ‘Rocket’ Hardin called from the rear of the van.

“I’m pushing this baby as hard as it will go,” Matt ‘Viper’ Roman ground out.

The tension inside the van was so thick they could almost see it. Disaster was always waiting for them around the corner, but Scott ‘Blaze’ Hamilton knew if anyone could get them to the exfil point, it was Viper. No one could outdrive him.

“Damn it,” Blaze swore under his breath.

A previous rescue attempt by another group had failed and put the hostages in jeopardy. That was always when Galaxy was called. When Blaze had done his research, he’d learned that the only reason the hostages were still alive was because the kidnappers needed them to make sure the ransom was paid. At first, it had sounded like a by-the-book rescue. Jim and Nita Rosen, one of America’s one-percenter couples with money to burn, had been kidnapped for ransom. Their daughter, Angela, afraid her parents would be killed if she called in the FBI, had paid it, but the jerkoffs had come back and asked for more.

When the first people she’d hired had botched the job, that was when she’d turned to Galaxy.

For the four highly trained former SEALs, this should have been a simple retrieval. Tapping into every source, they were unhappy to learn that the kidnappers were less than sophisticated. They were offshoots of a cartel whose leader was barely second tier and had big ideas about establishing himself. Kidnapping was his prime source of income while he built up enough of a bank to take on the big cartel chiefs. These people were the most dangerous kind, since they had oversized egos and small brains. The crew who worked for him came from the dregs, which meant things could easily go wrong.

Reaching out to all their contacts, they’d gotten the location where the Rosens were being held—an old warehouse just outside the little town of San Felipe. Only two guards were on duty at any one time, an indication of the kidnappers’ stupidity and arrogance. The one good thing was that the so-called brains behind this kidnapping only showed up once a day, about midday, to check on their victims. It certainly sounded like amateur hour to Galaxy, but sometimes those were the ones that went sideways.

After a drive-by to scope the place out and take pictures, the team planned the operation. They would breach the building, grab the Rosens and get the hell out of there in their borrowed van before the leader and the rest of the bad guys showed up for their daily visit.

‘Saint’ Francis, their official pilot, would be waiting for them at an extraction point with the helicopter.

Easy peasy, right?

Wrong.

As they’d learned in the military, if something can go wrong it will.

FUBAR.

Fucked up beyond all repair.

Especially with kidnappers like these, who were not very smart.

At first, it was smooth sailing. Only one vehicle, an old car, was parked by the warehouse. They knew from their source that this was the one driven by the two men left to guard the Rosens, so they were good to go. Using an infrared scanner, they were able to determine the location inside of the guards—away from the captives, sitting near the entrance to the warehouse. Breaching the door was kindergarten work for them, as was disposing of the guards before the two knew what was happening. They grabbed the Rosens and hustled them out to their waiting van.

Just as ‘Viper’, their designated wheelman, cranked the engine, a car drove up to the warehouse. Three well-armed and unpleasant-looking men tumbled out, even before the vehicle had come to a stop. One looked to be in charge, pointing at the Galaxy van, and at once the others began shooting at them. They pulled out onto the road before the doors were even fully shut, but the other vehicle was after them at once. Blaze thought there must be a hell of a motor in that thing, because they barely got out to the road before the other vehicle was practically on their tail.

Now they were racing down the two-lane road to the extraction spot with shots from the vehicle behind them peppering the van they were using. It pissed Blaze off that a cheap-ass operation like this one had managed to grab two high-value targets and get away with it. But even more, that best-of-the-best Galaxy was barely escaping a deadly showdown.

“Fuck it all,” Viper cursed.

“It’s true, you know,” Blaze reminded his partners. “The only easy day was yesterday.”

“And today will be our last,” Rocket snapped at him, “if we let ourselves get beaten by these pieces of shit.”

“Never fear. The Viper is here.”

Viper was swerving back and forth to avoid the bullets as they sped down the road at a speed that would dry the spit in the mouth of most people.

“Yeah?” Blaze shifted in his seat. “Well, get us the fuck out of here, then.”

Buy Links

Choose Your Store
First For Romance

About the Author

Desiree Holt

A multi-published, award winning, Amazon and USA Today best-selling author, Desiree Holt has produced more than 200 titles and won many awards. She has received an EPIC E-Book Award, the Holt Medallion and many others including Author After Dark’s Author of the Year. She has been featured on CBS Sunday Morning and in The Village Voice, The Daily Beast, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal, The London Daily Mail. She lives in Florida with her cats who insist they help her write her books, and is addicted to football.

You can follow Desiree on Facebook and Twitter and check out her Blog.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous Goody Bag and a FREE Desiree Holt romance book!

Desiree Holt’s Retrograde Giveaway

DESIREE HOLT IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GOODIE BAG AND GRAB YOUR FREE DESIREE HOLT ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 31th December 2020 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

//cdn.embedly.com/widgets/platform.js

Cover Reveal: Counterfeit Lover by J.C. Farmer #Romance #Thriller @JeromeCFarmer

Counterfeit Lover
J.C. Farmer
Published by: Acorn Publishing
Publication date: November 24th 2020
Genres: Adult, Romance, Thriller

Darrin Clark is an impoverished young man, madly in love with his long-time friend Janie. He is desperate for a job, and any way to win Janie’s affections. Then a Hollywood studio promises to make him a movie star—if he will submit to a face-modifying procedure they are developing.

Darrin’s love overcomes his fear, and he allows the movie studio to alter his face. Soon his dreams come true. He is extraordinarily handsome, rich, and popular, full of the confidence he needs to earn Janie’s love. Yet, changing faces doesn’t seem enough, and the studio wants him to sacrifice more of his identity than just his appearance.

His plan to win Janie’s heart becomes complicated when she unexpectedly joins the cast and changes her face too. Now a gorgeous star, she’s pursued by prominent, powerful men, and beneath the glitz and glamour, Darrin finds himself in a world of death and deceit, where anyone can have any face.

Several of his friends have been murdered by a mysterious killer, and the ability to alter appearances seems to make the criminal invincible. Soon, Darrin abandons his pursuit of Janie, simply hoping to keep her alive.The only way to outsmart the ruthless villain is to risk everything. How drastic a transformation is Darrin willing to make for love?

Add to Goodreads

 

Author Bio:

Jerome Connelly Farmer has had a successful career as an engineer, inventor and technology consultant. He has three engineering degrees from Stanford and an MBA from the Anderson School. He has several patents and spent many years managing engineering teams and consulting for high-tech firms, movie studios, and Fortune 500 companies.

J.C. was born and raised in Ann Arbor, MI. He is an airplane pilot, sailor, scuba diver and avid traveler; he has explored Tibet, camped in the Australian outback, canoed through the Amazon River, and retraced segments of Ernest Shackleton’s famous rescue in Antarctic. J. C.’s passion for wildlife photography has taken him to all seven continents, including searching for Komodo Dragons in Indonesia, wild macaws in the Peruvian jungle, endangered species in the Galapagos Islands, Duck-billed Platypus in Australia, and White Rhinoceros in Botswana.

J.C. is the author of the romantic thriller Counterfeit Lover and the children’s book Santa’s Dashboard. Writing combines his love for adventure, invention and exploration.

When he is not traveling, J.C. lives in Solana Beach, CA.

Website / Facebook / Twitter / Instagram

 

XBTBanner1

 

Release Tour: Inherent Fate by Alicia Anthony #thriller #suspense

A discarded asset stripped of her identity…

An emotionally scarred ex-agent…

An innocent life hanging in the balance…

Who would you trust if the world was out to get you?

Losing Liv Sullivan in a Bureau operation gone bad turned ex-agent Ridge McCaffrey into a broken man. So when fate reunites him with the woman he thought was dead, he’ll risk anything to make her part of his life again.

Liv Sullivan returned to the States with two goals: end the FBI’s corrupt GenLink psychic intelligence program and reclaim the life it stole from her. But when the case against GenLink exposes a threat against Ridge’s son, the cost becomes too great. Refusing to destroy more lives, she leaves Ridge, and the chance to reclaim her identity, behind.

But as a new generation of GenL/ink closes in, once-trusted allies become enemies, and long-buried secrets threaten.

Can Liv and Ridge end GenLink before echoes of the past destroy their future?

Inherent Fate is the compelling third installment in the Blood Secrets psychological suspense series. For fast-paced, emotionally intense story lines that keep you up past your bedtime, and intricate plots laced with romance, this award-winning series is for you.

About the Book

Inherent Fate
by Alicia Anthony

Series
Blood Secrets

Genre
Adult Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense

Publisher
Drury Lane Books

Publication Date
July 21, 2020

Purchase Your Copy Today!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iBooks

Add It To Your Bookshelf!
Goodreads | BookBub

 

 

INHERENT FATE
A Blood Secrets Novel

© 2020 Alicia Anthony

EXCERPT

Ridge pulled my hands into his, his voice softening. “Colton is my son. And I will protect him with my life. But he needs a father who’s whole.” Ridge’s gaze held mine. “Don’t sign those papers. Don’t throw away what we have together.”

His skin sparked hope into me, the gentle pulses sending a throb of need through my core. He was right. Regardless of the secrets, the lies, there was a connection between us that I’d never understand. I swallowed. The anticipation in my lungs heavy and thick. I broke eye contact with Ridge as he made one final attempt.

“Please.” It was more breath than word, overpowered by the nervous shifts and quiet comments of Michelle and Lombardi as they whispered to each other in the background. Ridge skimmed his thumbs over the backs of my hands, his voice a quiet whisper. “I know you can feel this, Liv. Don’t give up on us. Don’t walk away.”

I closed my eyes. I couldn’t let my own personal desires get in the way of this decision. I couldn’t risk a little boy’s life for a relationship that any outsider would claim had been doomed from the start.

“This can’t be about us,” I said. 

“It already is about us,” Ridge said. “It always has been. You fought your way back here. You came to my hotel room. I don’t give a shit about Sowards’ last ditch effort or his threats. This is about you and me and building a life for ourselves without GenLink ruling our every decision. This is your chance to choose your own path, Liv. You came back here to be free. And you’re so close. Don’t let fear stop you now.”

 

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the release of INHERENT FATE by Alicia Anthony, we’re giving away a paperback set of Inherent Truth and Inherent Lies, the first two books in the Blood Secrets series, to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback set of Inherent Truth and Inherent Lies by Alicia Anthony. This giveaway is administered by BookMojo on behalf of Alicia Anthony. Giveaway ends 8/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

 

About the Author

ALICIA ANTHONY‘s first novels were illegible scribbles on the back of her truck driver father’s logbook trip tickets. Having graduated from scribbles to laptop, she now pens novels of psychological suspense in the quiet of the wee morning hours. A full-time elementary school Literacy Specialist, Alicia hopes to pass on her passion for books and writing to the students she teaches.

A two time Golden Heart® finalist and Silver Quill Award winner, Alicia finds her inspiration in exploring the dark, dusty corners of the human experience. Alicia is a graduate of Spalding University’s School of Creative & Professional Writing (MFA), Ashland University (M.Ed.) and THE Ohio State University (BA). Go Bucks! She lives in rural south-central Ohio with her amazingly patient and supportive husband, incredibly understanding teenage daughter, two dogs, three horses, a plethora of both visiting and resident barn cats, and some feral raccoons who have worn out their welcome.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Alicia loves to travel and experience new places. Connect with her online at http://www.AliciaAnthonyBooks.com. She’d love to hear from you!

Newsletter  |  Website  |  Facebook  |  Facebook Reader Group  |  Twitter  |  Instagram

Goodreads  |  BookBub  |  Amazon

 

 

BOOK BLOGGERS: Join the BookMojo Tour Host List Today!

 

 

 

 

Release Blitz: The Painted Phoenix by Sarah Kay Moll #GayRomance #Thriller

Title: The Painted Phoenix

Author: Sarah Kay Moll

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: July 20, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75200

Genre: Contemporary thriller, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, literary/genre fiction, criminals, crime syndicate, children, family drama, pansexual, polyamorous, open relationship, mental illness, artist, lawyer, tattoos, dark, depression, PTSD, HEA

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

With paintbrush in hand, Nate Redfield takes a city full of ugliness and makes it beautiful. His quiet, empty life is a refuge from a harrowing past, and although he has nothing to love, he also has nothing to lose. Standing up to the syndicate is a good way to end up with a hole in his head, but Nate is not afraid to die.

For once in his life, he’s going to do the right thing, even if it kills him. And it probably will.

But the most dangerous criminal in the city—a man whose sadism and ruthlessness have become local legend—decides to spare Nate’s life. On the streets, Ras is a cold-blooded syndicate enforcer, and makes no apologies for it. But he pursues Nate with a tenderness like nothing Nate has ever known. While no amount of violence could compel Nate to betray his moral compass, love leaves him defenseless.

The vibrant portraits Nate paints tell every story but his own: a lost little girl who thinks of him as a father, a lawyer who tempers justice with compassion, a crime boss and an art thief, and the killer who stole his heart. Ras offers him the love he’s yearned for all his life, if only he is willing to close his eyes to the violent truth. But his story is not one of compromise. It is the story of an indomitable spirit, rising like fire from the ashes of his past.

Excerpt

The Painted Phoenix
Sarah Kay Moll © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The Cat Scratch Club. 2005
Ink on paper

Nate Redfield knows he’s going to die. He’s known it for a while now—woken up with it, gone to sleep with it, held it near to his heart. It’s not suicide, not exactly, but it might as well be. He might as well be putting a gun in his own mouth when he pushes open the doors to the Cat Scratch, the seedy strip club where Alan DiCiccio conducts his business.

He walks past the stage, strippers swaying, sliding their G-strings down their long, supple legs so a handful of men can spend their Friday afternoon appreciating the view. The bouncer at the back of the room gives him a nod and steps aside so he can push open an unlabeled black door and walk into what serves as DiCiccio’s office. Behind him, the bouncer’s heavy footsteps follow, and then the door clicks shut.

“You’re late,” DiCiccio says. “I hope you’s got some extra cash to make up for it.”

DiCiccio looks Mafia, through and through, with a New York accent and an unnecessarily formal black suit. But he’s not Mafia. There is no Mafia in this city, only the syndicate with a monopoly on crime and the muscle to keep it that way. DiCiccio works for them, so Nate does too. Or he did, anyway. Until today.

“I quit,” he says, and with those two words, his heart begins thumping, fast and heavy like someone’s banging the hell out of a snare drum in his chest.

“You quit?” DiCiccio leans forward over the scattered cash and bags of white powder on his desk to stare at Nate. “You fucking quit?” He looks up at the bouncer. “Bobby, am I hearing this shit right?”

“He said he quit,” Bobby responds. He’s a tall, beefy guy with stubble and a couple of big gold rings Nate imagines he wears just for the scars they leave on his victims. “You heard him right.”

“Okay…” DiCiccio draws the word out. “I’ll humor you, Nate. Why the fuck do you think you’re going to quit sellin‘ for me?”

Nate is silent for a moment, gathering his courage. “’Cause it’s wrong,” he says, standing still to give away no hint of the fear scrabbling inside him like some desperate animal.

“Oh, it’s wrong, is it?” DiCiccio puts his hands behind his head, leaning back in his chair. “You think it’s wrong, Bobby?”

“No, boss. I think it’s his fucking job.”

“That’s right. It’s your fuckin’ job. Which I gave to you as an especial favor to my friend Troy. And now you come and you throw it in my face.”

“You told me the pills wouldn’t hurt anybody,” Nate says. “You said they’re not real drugs, and it’s not gonna hurt anybody that bad. But that’s not true. And I’m not gonna do it anymore.”

He thinks of the girl who used to buy from him every Tuesday, dark eyes, a bitter laugh. She was found dead from an overdose just a few days ago, and since then, Nate has been building his courage for this confrontation. He’s not going to walk away alive. But better him than another person like her.

“Nate, look. I like you; I really do. You’re a nice guy. But you come here and you tell me you’re not gonna do your job, and you really leave me no choice. You get what I’m sayin’?”

“Yeah.” Nate’s high voice comes out rough and raspy.

“No.” DiCiccio shakes his head. “I don’t think you do. What I’m sayin’ is that you get out there and you do your fuckin’ job, or Bobby here’s gonna have to fuck you up.” He puts his elbows on the desk and leans forward. “You understand that?”

Nate looks at the glinting rings on Bobby’s right hand, so thick and heavy he might as well be wearing a pair of brass knuckles. Nate’s not afraid to die, but he wishes it wasn’t going to hurt so much.

“I get it,” he says.

DiCiccio shakes his head sadly and glances at Bobby, jerking his head at Nate.

Bobby nods, solemnly, like they’re making a bank transaction—not playing around with someone’s life—and that just pisses Nate off.

A hot wave of anger crashes over him, and as Bobby approaches, he lunges forward, driving his fist into Bobby’s gut and then bringing a knee up hard between the hitman’s legs. Bobby makes a sharp, wounded noise, going to his knees, and Nate drives a hard kick to his ribs. He’s been in enough fights to know how to move and how to make sure the other guy isn’t getting back up anytime soon.

“That’s enough.”

It’s not DiCiccio speaking, but a low melodic voice Nate’s never heard before. He steps back from the groaning thug on the floor and looks up. A man stands in the doorway, his messy dark hair falling over his forehead, and he smiles at Nate. It’s the damnedest thing, this smile. It doesn’t fit the situation at all. It’s the kind of friendly, amused smile he might give Nate if they were walking their dogs in the park and the leashes got tangled together. It’s strange and surreal and almost familiar. And the adrenaline is stretching seconds into minutes into hours and highlighting every detail of this man who—Nate somehow just knows, from his arrogant stance and the tilt of his chin—now controls every aspect of the situation.

“Who would like to explain to me what’s going on?” the man asks.

“Jesus fuckin’ Christ, Ras,” DiCiccio says. “Make a little noise next time you walk in a room, you sneaky bastard.”

And Nate freezes, his earlier fancies iced over with fear because this is Ras, second in command to the syndicate boss and meanest motherfucker in the whole city. He’s heard a lot of talk about Ras—anyone who’s spent time in the criminal underworld has. The gossip rags love him. Their stories are sensational and exaggerated, but the rumors Nate hears on the streets—tales of sadism and deadly skill—make him think there is some truth to them.

“DiCiccio.” Ras doesn’t sound happy to see the drug dealer. “What’s all this?”

“Motherfucker attacked me,” Bobby moans as he picks himself up off the floor. “The little faggot fights dirty.”

Nate winces. He’s used to that word, but it still wounds more deeply than any other.

“He attacked you, did he?” Ras sounds unamused.

“He thinks he can quit,” DiCiccio says. “He comes in here givin’ me some bullshit story ‘bout how what we do is wrong, and he’s just not gonna do it anymore.”

The corner of Ras’s mouth twists upward, and he glances at Nate. “What we do is wrong. I can hardly fault him for being honest.”

“I’m not doin’ it anymore.” Nate’s mouth feels dry and sandpapery as he waits for Ras’s response.

“Great for you, you’re a big fuckin’ hero.” DiCiccio rolls his eyes. “You got any last words, big fuckin’ hero?”

“Fuck you,” Nate growls, anger coursing through him so hot he doesn’t feel the fear anymore—it’s burned away like a paper shell around something hard and relentless as iron.

DiCiccio raises his gun in one sallow hand. The bang of the gunshot is so loud Nate can almost feel it, a tangible burst of pressure. But nothing hurts. Nate looks down and is startled to find himself intact.

DiCiccio drops the gun and stumbles forward, collapsing on the carpet. A pool of red seeps out from under his head, a bright spatter painting the far wall.

Ras has holstered his gun, but clearly, he can draw so fast he may as well still be holding it. He turns to Bobby and raises an eyebrow.

“I swear to god I had nothing to do with it,” Bobby says, backing away as Ras approaches. “DiCiccio was the one who stole from you. I told him not to. I told him!”

Nate’s not stupid, he knows this isn’t going anywhere good. So while Ras pulls a little knife from his pocket, he darts out the door, sprinting for the parking lot. He draws in a shaky breath when the sunshine falls over him, so bright and carefree, but he can’t spare even a trembling second because he’s got to fucking run for it. He zigzags through alleyways, ducks into stores, and indiscriminately boards busses and trains, traveling across town in the wrong direction for a couple of hours before he feels safe enough to get on a train headed home.

He’s not an idiot—he knows that in this town, no one can watch a syndicate enforcer do a hit and walk away. He’s probably only delaying the inevitable, and as he watches the shining city outside the windows of the train, he wonders if he’s ever going to see it again. It seems fraught with fragile beauty, the blinding splashes of light reflected in storefront windows and the metal of the cars streaking by on the interstate.

In his entire life, he has only ever had one true love, so it makes sense that as he nears the edge of his lifetime, he has only one regret. He left her behind because he had no other choice, but he could no more stop loving her than he could stop his blood from flowing through his veins. And even when his heart has beat its final rhythm, that love will endure. He knows that much is true, even as he believes in nothing else.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Sarah Kay Moll is a wordsmith and an amateur homemaker. She’s good with metaphors and bad with coffee stains, both of which result from a writing habit she hasn’t been able to quit. She lives a mostly solitary life, and as a result, might never say the right thing at parties. She’s passionate about books, and has about five hundred on her to-read pile. When she does go out, it’s probably to the library, the theater, or the non-profit where she volunteers.

Sarah lives in a beautiful corner of western Oregon where the trees are still changing color at the end of November and the mornings are misty and mysterious. She spends her free time playing video games and catering to her cat’s every whim.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Blog Button 2

Stalked Justice by Kate Allenton #suspense #thriller

51c3SJ1YGnL._SY346_

 

Months ago, I almost killed the man who kidnapped my sister, and now the FBI wants me to do it again.

A serial killer is striking at the height of spring break, and the FBI has only one lead—all of the dead women were left to look like me.

I’m the FBI’s last resort to track this deadly predator by using my special abilities.
Only this time, I’m tethered with a tracking device to watch my every move, and without weapons at my disposal.

Not to mention the FBI intends to use me as bait.

The only question left is whether I can outsmart the killer and survive when my name is sitting at the top of his hit list.

 

Get it on Amazon

Only $0.99 or borrow with Kindle Unlimited

 

BookBrushImage-2020-0-16-12-317