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

Title: The Acquisition

Author: Rachel Ford

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 09/06/2021

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 94600

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

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Description

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

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

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

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

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

Excerpt

The Acquisition
Rachel Ford © 2021
All Rights Reserved

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We. As if he’d lift a finger to help.

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

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

“No sir. I mean, no, George.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Can you come to my office?

Grimacing, she typed, On my way.

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

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

Oh no. “Oh?”

“I forgot I had an appointment this morning.”

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

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

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

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

“What did you have in mind?”

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

“When are they going to be here?”

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

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

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

“Will do.”

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

“Got it.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase

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Meet the Author

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

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Book Blitz: The Grifter by Ali Gunn & Sean Campbell #thriller

The Grifter
Ali Gunn & Sean Campbell
Publication date: August 15th 2021
Genres: Adult, Thriller

One will rise. The other will fall.

Kent Bancroft’s rise to fame and fortune was nothing short of meteoric. Once a simple teacher in London’s East End, he’s now on course to become Britain’s youngest billionaire.

But his success has come on the back of those he’s trodden upon to get there. Among them is a man whose fall was as swift as Kent’s rise. He used to be a sparky, honest and hard-working. Now, he’s homeless, drunk, and down one leg.

And he blames Kent for everything.

Forget forgiveness. Forget turning the other cheek. And forget waiting for karma.

This is a victim who won’t stand idly by.

He wants revenge.

And he’s going to get it.

Kent Bancroft will never see him coming.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

I’ve never held a man hostage at knifepoint before. Haven’t killed a man, either.

First time for everything, though, right?

At least he doesn’t know that. As far as he knows, I’m Ronnie Kray reincarnate.

The blade against his neck is small enough to hide, big enough to kill. It’s from the kitchen upstairs.

A man has got to protect himself, doesn’t he? Especially one who’s been through what I’ve been through.

‘Please, just let me go.’

‘I’ll let you go. But answer one question. What’s my name?’

These past months have been sheer hell. I’m exhausted. I can’t cope with it all anymore. Just when I think it’s over, something else happens.

‘I… I don’t know. We’ve never met.’

‘Disappointing. After all we’ve been through.’

People used to respect me. They used to want to be me. Now, I’m the guy who gets chased down the street. The guy running from his own shadow.

But not now. This is where it ends.

‘Whoever you are, I’ll do anything you want.’

‘Anything? Time to test that.’

Author Bio:

Sean Campbell is the author of DCI Morton series (Dead on Demand, Cleaver Square, Ten Guilty Men, The Patient Killer, Missing Persons, The Evolution of a Serial Killer, and My Hands Are Tied).

He spends his days working out how to kill people without being caught, and then flipping the switch to play detective. His non-writing interests vary from photography and cinema to rugby and hiking. You can usually find him somewhere in one of London’s coffee shops – look for the big bearded guy taking up way too much room and hogging the Wi-Fi.

Ali Gunn kills people for a living*.

The characters in Ali’s books are the kind of strong, fearless women that every girl dreams of growing up to be.

The first DCI Elsie Mabey novel, The Career Killer, is out now.

Book two in the series, The Psychopath Within, is coming soon.

To find out more, visit GunnCrime.com

*fictional people, honest officer!


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Release Blitz: Road to Revenge by Mell Eight #thriller #LGBTQ @ninestarpress @GoIndiMarketing

Title: Road to Revenge

Series: Road to…, Book One

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 08/09/2021

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40600

Genre: Contemporary Thriller, LGBTQIA+, terrorism, religious extremism, secret agents, international espionage, revenge, military

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Description

Rafi only wanted to spend a relaxing day in Tel Aviv with his lover, Mihi. When a bomb goes off outside the restaurant where they stopped for lunch, killing several people and leaving Mihi in critical condition, Rafi vows to catch the culprits and make them pay. Set on revenge, Rafi accepts an assignment to infiltrate a group of humanitarians to figure out which of them was responsible—and to stop whatever they’re planning next.

Excerpt

Road to Revenge
Mell Eight © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Rehov Dizengoff, Tel Aviv

Mihi walked as though he was dancing, so smoothly my eyes couldn’t help tracking his hips as they wiggled so enticingly just ahead of me along the busy street. Dizengoff Street was one of the main shopping thoroughfares in Tel Aviv; the gigantic, two-story Dizengoff Mall took up two blocks on both sides of the street and was only a half mile away. We were on the end of the road closer to the beach, though, so we were surrounded by small shops and restaurants instead of cars.

The sidewalks were large, which was good because dodging daredevils riding their motor scooters was just one small part of walking in Israel. Another was dodging the water from dripping AC units hanging out of the apartment windows above every single shop. The third was dodging the stray animals and their leavings—Israel has a small problem with stray cats, mostly because there was minimal effort to contain the enormous population.

“How about this café?” Mihi called ahead of me, spinning gracefully on one heel to glance back at me. He saw the direction of my eyes and grinned impishly, twitching his hips again in a blatant invitation he knew I would eagerly accept when we returned to our private room in a nearby hostel.

But first we would have lunch and then we would spend the afternoon sitting on the beautiful beach watching the sunset. Then maybe we would take the long walk down to Jaffa for dinner, or maybe we could try a local falafel place. Falafel was the food of the Middle East, and Israelis knew how to fry up the chickpea mixture just right.

I followed Mihi into the little café, glad we were avoiding the chain café, Aroma, on the next corner. It was a relief to be inside, away from the heat of the day and the constant rumble of busses and honking of cars that filled Dizengoff Street to the brim. Mihi was already waiting for me at the counter, menu in hand and a grin on his face for my slower pace.

He was so beautiful, my Mihi, with his slightly curled brown hair flopping into his bright and happy brown eyes. His family was originally from the Romanian side of the Russian border before they fled the Holocaust and the Russian pogroms, so his skin was always just a shade tanned. He had managed to get the prominent cheekbones from his mother’s side of the family, which took a good bit of attention away from his father’s slightly hooked nose that sat in the center of Mihi’s otherwise flawless face. Mihi was perfect, and I couldn’t help smiling back at him as I joined him at the counter.

We ordered. Simple sandwiches because Israelis never ate truly large meals and therefore didn’t offer them even in a tourist-heavy area like Dizengoff. I followed Mihi to a table in the corner; it was right up against the glass window where we could people watch and cringe at the amazing stunts some of the drivers pulled to make their way through traffic.

Mihi took the better seat in the corner, where he could have his back to the blank wall and the entire window in front. I bent down to kiss him gently on the temple instead of taking the seat across from him.

“Bathroom,” I murmured into his ear before pulling away and heading toward the restroom sign in the very back of the shop. Mihi gave me another one of his impish smiles and waved me off. He was already setting out napkins so we could eat properly. One of the napkins fluttered to the ground as I pushed the bathroom door open, and I couldn’t hold back a tiny smirk. Mihi hadn’t noticed it yet, but I knew that napkin would be picked up and thrown away before I returned.

I took care of my business and was washing my hands when it happened. A loud thump made my ears ring. The building shook, the mirror in front of me cracked and splintered, plaster from the ceiling rained down on my hair, and then total silence.

Then: screams.

I stood in front of the sink, the water still running cold and clear over hands, frozen in place. My eyes were wide in shock, hazel blue set in Polish-pale skin. My light brown hair was flecked with white plaster dust. My entire face motionless within the cracked frame of the mirror, waiting while my brain processed what I’d just felt and heard.

Suddenly, I could feel my lungs aching, and as if that were a signal to turn back on, my body gasped for air. I shook as I spun away from the sink, the water still running, and rushed to the door. I flung it open to total chaos.

The warped and blackened frame of a number nine Dan bus burned at the bus stop outside. Bodies and body parts littered the sidewalk, blood leaking from below the twisted metal.

The front window of the café was shattered, glass strewn across the floor. None of the tables and chairs in front of me were still standing and there were bodies everywhere.

The person sitting closest to the blast was missing most of his head. I gagged, but fought throwing up as I pushed through the mess back toward the small table in the far corner.

People were moaning, bleeding, and dead around me, but I only had eyes for a particular crumpled table and chairs and the bare leg clad in a flowery bathing suit I could see poking out beneath the debris.

No one by the window could have survived that blast. My heart batted away the thought even as my brain supplied it.

The leg was still bleeding, shrapnel wounds marring the lightly tanned skin. It was attached to a torso hidden beneath the table. I threw that table off with all my strength, dropping to my knees at Mihi’s side.

He was still breathing, my brain supplied. My heart decided it would keep beating for the moment.

Clutched in one hand was that silly napkin dropped to the floor just moments before. I have never been so happy for Mihi’s little quirks. He must have been bending over when the blast went off and had been protected by the wall at his back. The table and chairs must have shielded him from the worst of it.

Mihi’s eyes fluttered open, unfocused and glazed with pain. He immediately found me.

“Mihi!” I gasped, one hand reaching out to cup his cheek. His ear was bleeding sluggishly onto my hand, but his cheekbone was unbroken.

“Rafi,” he whispered in a cracked and broken voice. His eyes slid shut again.

“Mihi!” I yelled. “Mihi, you’re going to be okay!”

Finally, I started to hear the sirens. People who had seen the blast were already trying to find the living, but they were still searching by the remains of the bus. All of them, from the helpers to the EMTs, were taking their very lives into their hands. Everyone knew the terrorists liked to set off one blast and then wait for the emergency crews to arrive before doing their best to destroy the ambulances and kill all the first responders—even more innocents dead to their horrible vendetta.

My Mihi didn’t have time for any of that foolishness. As one of the ambulances jumped the curb and drove onto the sidewalk I stood and started waving frantically.

“Here!” I screamed, frenzied and hopped up on fear and adrenaline. The driver saw me and pointed. Two men leapt out of the back of the truck and rushed over with heavy bags banging against their sides. They stepped directly through the empty window and dropped down at Mihi’s side.

One took Mihi’s vitals while another started pulling the remains of the chair and table away from Mihi’s body.

“Still alive,” the first one grunted in Hebrew, waving one hand for a woman setting up a stretcher to hurry over. They didn’t rush, but it wasn’t long before Mihi was strapped properly into the stretcher and was rolling off toward the ambulance. I followed along behind, like a lost puppy following his owner, and climbed into the ambulance behind Mihi.

Something in my face must have alerted the EMT woman already bending over Mihi, because she pointed toward a seat by the door. I took it and couldn’t help my flinch when the doors slammed shut behind me.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

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

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Book Blitz: The Perfect Murder by Kat Martin #thriller @katmartinauthor @XpressoTours

The Perfect Murder
Kat Martin
(Maximum Security, #4)
Publication date: June 22nd 2021
Genres: Adult, Thriller

New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin is back with her most thrilling novel yet in the Maximum Security series—The Perfect Murder. Fans of Sandra Brown, Linda Howard and Julie Garwood will fall in love with The Max.

The eldest of the three wealthy Garrett brothers, Reese Garrett is in the middle of a major purchase for his multimillion-dollar oil and gas company, Garrett Resources. The Poseidon offshore drilling platform venture will greatly enhance the company’s value.

But when Reese is on a trip out to see the rig, his helicopter crashes, leaving him hospitalized and two men dead. It’s discovered the chopper was sabotaged, and Reese is determined to find out who’s behind the crash—and whether he was the intended target. Then, when his lover, Kenzie, is accused of her ex-husband’s murder—a man with a vested interest in the Poseidon deal—clues start pointing to a connection that puts Reese, Kenzie and her young son in the sights of a killer.

From the Texas heat to the Louisiana bayous, Reese and his brothers must track down the truth before the body count gets any higher.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

EXCERPT:

“I’ve got a few things I need to add to my schedule,” he said. “Derek Stiles called yesterday. Looks like we’re having more problems with the rig.”

“You’ll get them sorted.” She flashed him a smile. “You always do.”

But there was one thing he was having more and more trouble handling and it was standing right in front of him.
Reese clenched his jaw and went to work.

He was sitting at his desk two hours later when his intercom buzzed.

“It’s Frank Milburn,” Kenzie said. “He has news about the crash.”

Milburn was in charge of the NTSB investigation. “Put him through.” Reese pressed the speaker button and settled back in his chair.

“I know you’ve been anxious to hear from us,” Frank said, a small man with close-cropped brown hair. “I wish we could have completed the investigation sooner, but these things take time.”

“I’m aware. So what have you found out?”

“The last of the reports came in. We’d been waiting for some metal structural tests. Combined with the rest of the information we’ve assembled, the reports revealed what we had recently begun to suspect but until today weren’t able to confirm.”

“Go on.”

“Sometime before the flight took off the morning of the crash, someone tampered with the engine. A piece of metal in one of the gears was filed just enough to cause it to grind itself to pieces. The flight control mechanism disconnected, rendering the helo uncontrollable. To put it in layman’s terms, the helicopter was sabotaged.”

Tension tightened Reese’s shoulders. He didn’t ask Milburn if he was sure. The NTSB team had been investigating the crash for weeks. Two men were dead. The authorities had to be extremely thorough. The question now was who had done it? And why?

“Have you found out who’s responsible?” Reese asked.

“Unfortunately, not yet. As we’ve known from the start and you were informed, pilot error contributed heavily to the event. There should have been room for the chopper to safely auto-rotate down, but the pilot misjudged his position. He came in too close to the building, one of blades clipped the corner, and the helicopter was torn apart.”

“So what, exactly, do you know?”

“As of today, we know a criminal act was committed that ended up causing the deaths of two men. As of this morning, the FBI will be taking over the investigation. They’ll be actively pursuing whoever is responsible for the crime, now a double murder.”

Murder. The news sent a chill down Reese’s spine. He leaned over his desk, shut off the speaker, and picked up the phone. “Whatever you find out, I’ll expect you to keep me in the loop.”

“I’ll do my best,” Milburn said. “It’ll be more difficult once the gears of the FBI begin to turn.”

He understood how a federal agency worked. Lots of interlocking pieces and parts that inevitably slowed things down. The call ended, but Reese had no intention of leaving the matter in the hands of some governmental bureaucracy, not even the FBI. The feds would have to start over, look at the crash from an entirely different angle. It could take weeks, even months.

Two men were dead and he could have been the third. He thought of the accidents that had been plaguing the Poseidon. The helo crash hadn’t been accidental. The chopper was meant to go down.

Was it possible he had been the target?

Author Bio:

Currently living outside Missoula, Montana, Kat Martin is the New York Times bestselling author of over seventy-five Historical and Contemporary Romantic Suspense novels. Before she started writing, Kat was a real estate broker. During that time, she met her husband, L. J. Martin, an author of Westerns and high-action Thrillers. Kat is a graduate of the University of California at Santa Barbara where she majored in Anthropology and also studied History. She spends her winters in Arizona.

“I love to travel and especially like visiting the places where my books are set,” Kat says. “I love history and enjoy spending time in museums and art galleries. My husband and I often stay in out-of-the-way inns and historical houses. It’s fun and it gives a wonderful sense of a by-gone era.”

To date, Kat has over seventeen million copies of her books in print. She is published in more than two dozen foreign countries, including Germany, France, Norway, Sweden, China, Korea, Bulgaria, Russia, England, South Africa, Italy, Spain, Argentina, Japan and Greece.

Kat is currently writing her next Romantic thriller.

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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:

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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:
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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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.)

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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

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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.

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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

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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.”

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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.

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