Release Blitz: Bigger Love by Rick R. Reed #LGBTromance #youngadult

Title: Bigger Love

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: June 15, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 60100

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBTQIA+, high school, gender-bending, school play, performance arts, romance, young love

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Synopsis

Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first ever genderfluid star to win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.

Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?

Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.

See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self…

Excerpt

Bigger Love
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“There’s a man in your room. I can smell him.”

Truman Reid confronted his mom, Patsy, in the kitchen. Early morning sun streamed in brightly through the kitchen window over the sink, making Truman long for the relative freedom of summer that was about to be put to rest that very day.

Patsy glowered at him from the stove where she was scrambling eggs. She didn’t often get up to make him breakfast, but Truman had figured—at least at first—that she was doing so because this was Truman’s first day back at school. He’d be a senior at Summitville High. First days of school had always been a source of high anxiety for Truman, who’d been bullied and teased mercilessly throughout almost the entire four years. But now Truman wondered if Patsy had risen early to fix bacon and eggs because she was hiding a man in her room. You know, to distract him. This wasn’t a usual experience for his mom, Truman was sure, and he wondered if he’d embarrassed her. But he couldn’t help but wonder how a man in her room might affect his exclusive hold on her. Would he still get her undivided attention, you know, if this was a “thing”?

Of course, Patsy, lovely, diminutive, with curly black hair and wide eyes, had every right to have a man in her room. Even if that man smelled of cigarettes and motor oil. But she didn’t have the right, Truman opined, to keep secrets from him. A mother should never keep secrets from her boy, right? Wasn’t that one of those unwritten laws?

“That may be. Or may not be,” Patsy said, giving the eggs one final push-around with a spatula before dumping them on a plate. She sighed and eyed him. “I have a right to my privacy. You don’t need to be privy to every detail of my life. I show you that respect and expect the same in return.”

She’s reading my mind. Again. “Oh, I didn’t mean to pry, Mama. I just wanted to say it’s okay if you did have a man sleep over. It’s not like I would mind. It’s not like we’re not both adults around here. We have separate bedrooms and separate lives.” Truman almost choked on the words.

Patsy set the plate of steaming eggs before him. Truman saw, to his delight, that the four pieces of bacon Patsy had fried up before the eggs were all for him.

Patsy smiled, but there was something just a tad bit evil in it. “Thank you, sweetie. I’m so glad to have your go-ahead if I want to whore around.” She chuckled and returned to the counter where she’d left her mug of coffee. She leaned against the counter, mug in hand, and took a sip. Patsy was all of thirty-four years old but looked at least ten years younger in the dappled morning light, and Truman felt a rush of love for her. The bond they had was kind of a you-and-me-against-the-world one. Truman felt he could say just about anything to Patsy, and he knew she felt the same; witness the “whore” comment. What kind of mother said that to her son?

Truman wasn’t sure, but he was glad he had one who did.

Besides, between raising him, which could be, um, challenging at times, and working at the Elite Diner in Summitville’s tiny downtown, she had little time for romance. Given that Truman’s father was still a mystery to him—and to Patsy—he assumed that, once upon a time, she did have her whoring-around days, but he’d seen little evidence of them.

Until this morning.

“So who is he? Can I go take a peek? Is he hot?” Truman laughed.

Patsy answered the three questions in short order: “None of your business. No, you can’t. Yes. Very.” She took another sip of coffee and tightened the sash of her white chenille bathrobe. Truman noticed she was wearing a little makeup this morning—mascara, some blush, a hint of lip gloss. She hadn’t overdone it. Truman would say she looked “dewy” if she asked. “You need to eat up and get in the shower, young man. The bus will be here—” She turned to look at the wall clock on the soffit above the sink. “—in twenty minutes. I know you need your primping time.”

Truman dropped his fork to the table. “Seriously? Only twenty? Good Lord.” He wrapped his bacon up in a paper towel and headed for the single bathroom. Patsy blocked his way. “Since when do we leave our plates on the table? What? You think I’m your servant?”

“Mom!” Truman whined. “You know I need time to get ready. Please, please, please take care of it for me. I’ll love you forever!”

“Okay. This once. And sweetie, I’d thought loving me forever went without saying. But you cook and clean up tonight.”

“Deal.”

Truman rushed to the bathroom, wondering if Patsy would use the time to sneak her man out of the house. Too bad the only window looked out on the backyard. It was frosted glass anyway.

He hoped his mom had found someone to love.

He hoped his mom hadn’t found someone to love.

It had been just the two of them for so long, Truman didn’t know if he could cope with someone else vying for Patsy’s affections. He felt a little sense of violation at the thought.

In the bathroom, Truman laid out on the counter all the stuff a boy would need to make a suitable senior-year debut: eyeliner, clear mascara, blush, and the lip gloss that added no extra color to his lips but made them shine.

He stepped into the shower after brushing, flossing, and exfoliating his face.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at http://www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Release Blitz: The Island by M. Rose Flores #LGBTQIA+ #zombies

Title: The Island

Series: Abnormal/Variant, Book Two

Author: M. Rose Flores

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: May 4, 2020

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 86300

Genre: Horror/Thriller, LGBTQIA+, YA, PNR, bisexual, dark, horror, zombies/undead, postapocalyptic, family drama, found family, San Francisco, Alcatraz

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Synopsis

Two years after the end of the world, Cate and Marco have finally found a place for their people to start over. Sustainable and safe from zombies, the island is everything they hoped it would be. It seems the worst may finally be over; they can stop surviving and begin to live again. But the arrival of two new people sets in motion a chain of events that throw the island into unrest, and Cate must fight for her love, her people, and her sense of self. Can the inhabitants of Alcatraz Island find a way to come together when everything around them is falling apart?

Almost two years before their arrival on the island, just after the event that ripped their family apart, Marco began an aimless journey. With his foster family gone—some dead, some vanished—once again, Marco was on his own and sure it was for the best; other people only slowed you down, ended up as liabilities, or worse. Alone was good. It was what he was used to. But on his journey south, he collected other wanderers and began to consider the idea of a cooperative group or, maybe, a found family. There was, after all, safety in numbers.

Finally, together on the island, everyone assumes they are safe. But assumptions in a world run by zombies can be dangerous. Deadly. There is something going on in the city, terrifying and unnatural. Something that will change everything they think they know about zombies. And it’s coming to the island.

The Island is not a stand-alone. It’s advised that book one, The End, be read first.

Excerpt

The Island
M. Rose Flores © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Cate

Those are not people. The way they move, the fact that when we wave, they don’t wave back, and the way they are all shambling toward us down the paths to either side. It all collectively spells zombie.

“Hello,” calls Calvin.

No answer. Damn it.

None of us has the energy to fight any more. We spent the whole night fighting to get to the island. We watched our people get maimed and die; Calvin’s Nana Mae sacrificed herself to save him, my sister Mel, and their new babies. Five other people died too, though I didn’t know any of them well. They were all Marco’s people. Now we’re all one another’s people. What a way to make a family.

Toby is looking pale. His younger brother Jax, though much smaller than Toby, is doing his best to keep him upright. The place where Toby’s hand used to be, before it was clawed by an Abnormal zombie and then cut off by me to prevent infection, is wrapped in a bandage from what I’m guessing is a very limited supply. I think everything is probably limited. There wasn’t much time to pack or prepare after Mel’s labor screams drew in the horde last night. It’s not her fault. Birthing twins with nothing stronger than ibuprofen must be agony. But we had to leave in a hurry. We made it all the way to Alcatraz, barely. And now, apparently, we have to fight again.

I’m too exhausted to cry. We are broken, for the second time since this all started. It’s cold and drizzling. There’s a thick fog rolling in. At least it isn’t dark anymore.

“What do we do?” asks Sylvia, holding her kids close to her body.

“Same thing we’ve been doing,” answers Marco.

When he doesn’t offer anything else, Calvin steps in. “We should get the injured and the kids somewhere safe, right?”

Marco nods.

“They’re still far enough we can probably slip by them on that road—” Calvin points to the right. “—and come back out once you’re all safe inside. Shouldn’t take long to clear the island; there don’t seem to be many here.”

“It’s a big island,” says Marco. “There will be a lot more up there than you think.”

“Can’t say I’ll be much use,” says Captain Jacob, stepping forward through the group. He’s cradling his arm. I can guess what comes next: He edges his sleeve up, wincing, to reveal a definite bite near his elbow. The veins around it are black, all the way up and down his arm, peeking over the collar of his shirt.

“Captain,” breathes Amy, our doctor, “why didn’t you say something?”

“Call me Jacob; I told you. I knew it wouldn’t do any good. Happened so fast. Had to get us here either way.”

Amy examines the wound, touches his arm where the veins disappear under his sleeve. “There’s no way this hasn’t reached a main vessel by now,” she says, feeling his face for fever and shaking her head. “I’m so sorry, Jacob.”

“I appreciate it, Amy. But there’s no need. I’ll have to show someone how to drive the ferry. Murray?”

“Of course, Jacob.”

“It has been an honor to know all of you,” Jacob says. “Marco, you take care of these people. You got us this far. Soon you’ll all be safe.”

“I’m sorry, Jacob,” says Marco, who looks on the verge of tears.

“Don’t be. I did my part. I can live with the result. Or, I guess I can’t.” He chuckles at his own dark joke, but it turns into a coughing fit that makes his whole body tremble. “Come on, now, Murray. We haven’t got all day.”

Murray follows Jacob, catching him as he stumbles getting back on the boat. Jacob looks back and lifts a hand in goodbye to all of us. He doesn’t have long. Another family member lost, claimed by the infection.

“We should go,” says Ana, ever the stoic. “They’re getting closer.”

We move up the wider path as quickly as we can, although every one of us is exhausted and several of us are in some way incapacitated, so we’re not as fast as we need to be. The path switches back and forth as it ascends.

“Stay together,” Calvin whispers as the first few zombies notice us.

We do as we did last night, shuffling the less capable into the middle of our huddle as we move. However, now, so many more of us can’t fight than can. When the zombies get to us, we are less efficient than we have ever been. It takes me two hits to take down one zombie, even though I sharpened my axe the other day, and I have to put my boot on its head to get the axe back. I haven’t had to do that in ages. Calvin gets one on the first try, but it takes him a second to pull his knife free. Somehow, we escape. But just up the path, more swarm toward us. Not many, but there are always more.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Kobo

Meet the Author

M. Rose Flores has enjoyed writing since she learned how to string letters together. She grew up in the vast green Pacific Northwest of the United States, which with its dense forests, four seasons, and proximity to the ocean made a perfect setting for The End. When she isn’t writing on her computer or in a notebook (though scraps of paper and the palm of her hand will do in a pinch), she works as a professional dog trainer and loves every part of it, even the copious amounts of drool. She believes everyone should be represented in literature and all other media. The End is her first novel.

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SPOTLIGHT: The Boyfriend Deal

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ARe     Bookstrand     Amazon      Evernight Teen

When Hadley’s ex-boyfriend starts to become a stalker, she decides it’s time to take drastic measures and kisses the first boy who walks past her locker. But she isn’t prepared for the kiss, not at all, or what happens afterward.

Tyler Robbins, the captain of the football team, is every girl’s dream guy. He has somewhat of a reputation for using girls and tossing them aside, not that it stops them from flocking his way. All of that changes the moment Hadley’s lips touch his.

When Tyler proposes that Hadley pretends to date him as a way to save them both—him from his mother and her from her ex-boyfriend—Hadley is reluctant to give it a try. In the end, she agrees, but she’s nowhere near prepared for the journey she’s about to embark on.

14+ due to sexuality and adult situations

 

EXCERPT

Seeing Hunter head my way, a determined, slightly psycho look in his eyes, made me panic. I did the only thing I could think to do. I grabbed the first boy I saw and kissed him like my life depended on it, but as my body pressed against my unsuspecting target and my lips crashed against his, three things became very apparent to me. One, the boy knew how to kiss; his lips were divine and the hands going around my waist weren’t so bad either. Two, I was slightly in over my head, as he pressed me back against my locker. And three … well, I was still reeling from one and two. Three would have to wait for later.

“If you wanted me to kiss you, Red, all you had to do was say so.”

My eyes popped open and I stared in open-mouthed shock at the boy who had just made me melt with his kiss. Tyler Robbins. The one boy I should avoid like the plague. The only boy who had the power to completely devastate me, rip out my heart and stomp on it, and do so without any true effort on his part. I’d had a major crush on him since pre-kindergarten. Perhaps crush was too tame a word. When you’ve obsessed over a boy since the age of four, it escalated things beyond crush level.

He winked at me and moved along down the hall, as if the earth hadn’t just moved, as if lightning hadn’t just struck, as if … well, you get the point. He was everything I’d ever wanted, and the one thing I’d never have. Tyler flitted from one girl to another. He didn’t have a flavor of the month; he had a flavor of the day. Or maybe it was a flavor of the hour. Except for Alicia Thompson. She was his on again off again girlfriend for the last two years, and she was a total witch. The last time they’d broken up, she’d egged the car of his next conquest.

It took me a moment to realize Hunter was standing beside me, looking both livid and hurt all at the same time, but really, the entire thing was his fault. If he hadn’t cheated on me, then turned stalker, my lips never would have touched Tyler’s. Then again, maybe I should be thanking him. Now I could cross off a major item on my wish list. I’d been dreaming of kissing Tyler Robbins since the first time I saw him, on my very first day of school. Of course, that was before he started crushing on the snotty girl in our class, then I just wanted to pelt him in the face with a mud pie at recess.

“Why are you doing this, Hadley? Tyler Robbins? Don’t you know he’s going to use you and toss you aside like yesterday’s garbage?”

“Yeah, because there’s no one around here who hasn’t already done that, right? In case you missed it, Hunter, we broke up. You have no say in who I do or do not kiss. If I want to make out with him in the janitor’s closet, that’s my business and not yours. And stop stalking me! I’m not taking you back. Not now, not ever.”

I snatched the books out of my locker, slammed it shut, and took off down the hall. I could feel his gaze boring into my back, and I wasn’t not going to lie, it seriously creeped me out. But what could I possibly do about Hunter? My own family thought I should give him another chance; every girl in school was praying I wouldn’t, and no matter what I said to the boy, he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

What I needed was a boyfriend. Someone who wouldn’t be intimidated by Hunter, who would stand up to him and tell him to back off and leave me the heck alone. What I needed was a jock, but no self-respecting jock was going to be seen with a band geek like me. And I wasn’t even in the marching band, the semi-cool band geeks because they kept the audience revved up during football games. I played the flute, but I wasn’t coordinated enough to walk and play at the same time. Not without landing on my face at any rate.

I sat through first period in kind of a daze, not really hearing anything the teacher said. I managed to write down my assignment and shuffled toward the door when the bell rang. It seemed I wasn’t the only one in a daze and ready to leave Mr. Bertram’s math class because everyone bottlenecked at the doorway. As I was squeezing my way through, someone grabbed my arm and I found myself plastered against Tyler for the second time that morning.

Startled, I looked up at him, wondering why his hands were on my waist, and more importantly, why was he looking at me like that? You know, in that you’re the only girl in the world kind of way. Not even Hunter had ever looked at me like that. He didn’t say anything, not at first. He just stood there smiling down at me. I took a moment to admire his perfectly gelled hair and—sniff—his heavenly scent. I had no idea what type of cologne he wore, but if I could wrap myself in that scent—preferably by way of his arms being around me—then I would die happy.

About the Author

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Charity West is a young adult romance author who has always had her head in the clouds. She had her first crush when she was four, and it lasted for six years. Then she quickly fell head over heels for another boy, until she had to move away and leave him behind. Jumping from one boy to another, she finally found a keeper when she was twenty, and she’s been married to him ever since.

By the time Charity was twelve, she was sneaking her mother’s Harlequin romances and reading them in secret when she was supposed to be asleep. Teased throughout middle school and high school for the bodice ripper covers on the books she openly read in class, she knew that one day she wanted to write her own happily-ever-afters.

 

Heart’s Desire (a YA paranormal romance)

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One touch. One look from Morgan’s hypnotic eyes and Skye can’t deny the magnetic pull.

High school senior, Morgan Raines was used to change, whether it was transferring to a new school or shifting into a were-jaguar under the full moon. Starting over didn’t bother him, but finding his mate pinned to her locker by her looser ex-boyfriend does.

Will turning furry during the full moon send her running scared or into his arms?

 

EXCERPT

As Skye put her books in her locker, Chris sneaked up behind her.  Turning, she looked up into his eyes.  If she was honest, she’d admit that she wasn’t surprised to see him.  Chris had been following her all over school for the past week.  It seemed that every time she turned around he was right in front of her, like a lost little puppy. Except puppies were cute.

“Hey babe, what’s up?  What do you say to you and me having lunch together today?” he asked with a cocky grin, seeming sure her answer would be yes.

“No thanks.  I have to go over some homework before I turn it in,” Skye told him, hoping the discussion was over. But she had a feeling it wouldn’t be that easy to get rid of him.

“Homework?  Ditch the homework and have some fun!  Sit with me,” Chris cajoled.

“I said no, Chris!” She wondered why he kept pestering her. Any girl in school would gladly go with him wherever he wanted. Any girl but her.

“Aw, come on!”

“No!” Skye replied adamantly.

“Okay, but if you won’t have lunch with me, at least give me a kiss.”

“Chris, why can’t you just leave me alone?” Skye asked, starting to get irritated.  When was he going to get the message?  How many times did she have to run him off before he finally understood she just wanted to be left alone?  He’d had his chance with her and blown it.

“Come on, you always liked kissing me!  What’s a little kiss between friends?” he asked with a smile that had once curled her toes.

“Nothing,” she replied.

“Well, there you go.  Come on, babe.  Please?” Chris continued relentlessly.  She doubted that he wanted her; it was more the challenge she presented. Ever since she’d pushed him aside, he’d hounded her every step.

“Who said that we were friends?  I remember telling you that I never wanted to see your face again. So, why are you in front of my locker?” she asked.  Why won’t he go away? Where’s a teacher when you need one? She glanced down the hall.

“Okay. I tried to be nice, but maybe you prefer guys who just take what they want.”

Chris advanced on Skye. He all but growled at her until her back was against the locker.  He put an arm on either side of her, pinning her in place. She had no way of escaping.  Just as he started to lean in to kiss her, someone tapped him on his shoulder. Skye, for one, was grateful for the interruption.

“What?” he asked, turning to face the interloper. He pierced the intruder with a glare.

“I believe she said no,” the new guy answered quietly.

“And just who the hell are you?” Chris sneered, eyeing the guy from head to toe. “In case you weren’t aware, Skye and I are an item.”

The boy grinned. “Are you sure about that?”

Skye used the distraction to slip under Chris’s arm. She quickly put some distance between them, moving to stand beside the new guy.  She didn’t know who he was, but he had excellent timing.  If he hadn’t come along right then, Chris would no doubt be pawing her at this very moment, more so than usual.

The boy reached out and took Skye’s hand, a current running through both of them.  If he was surprised, he hid it well.

“Come on, I’ll walk you to your class,” he said, giving her hand a gentle tug.

Skye smiled her thanks and walked off with him, leaving an angry Chris glaring after them.

* * *

 “Thanks… for what you did back there,” she said after they were a few feet away.

“No problem,” the boy murmured.

“I’m Skye by the way.  And the jerk back there was Chris,” she jabbered, trying to fill the silence.  Her body was hyper aware of the hot guy holding her hand, more so than it had ever been of a guy.

Glancing at him from the corner of her eye, she almost stopped breathing.  He was easily the most gorgeous boy she’d ever seen.  He topped her five-foot-one inches by over a foot.  He was tanned with sandy brown hair shot through with golden highlights.  His chiseled features made her mouth water. If he weren’t a high school student, she’d think he stepped off the cover of a magazine.

“I take it you used to date,” he commented.

Skye nodded, pulling her gaze from his face before she was caught staring. “Until I caught him making out with one of the cheerleaders.  I told him it was over, but he refuses to listen. He thinks he’s God’s gift, or something along those lines.”

He grunted in response.

“He wasn’t like that when we first started dating,” Skye said, trying to explain away Chris’s behavior.

He gave her a skeptical look.

“Where exactly are we going anyway?” he asked, looking around the hall.

“Oh, um, two doors down on the right.  I have English next,” Skye answered.

He grinned. “That makes two of us.”

He continued holding her hand all the way to the classroom.  As they approached the door, he dropped her hand and motioned for her to go in ahead of him. Following Skye into the classroom, he grabbed the empty seat next to her.  Setting his books down on the desk, he glanced her way and caught her watching him—again.  She was so embarrassed. It wasn’t like her to fawn over someone, especially someone she’d just met.

He flashed her a grin and faced forward as the teacher stepped into the room.

 

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Jessie Colter is the pen name for romance author Jessica Coulter Smith. With over 50 published stories, she isn’t new to the writing game, and while Heart’s Desire was her first foray into the world of Young Adult stories, she has written a few more since then, all with a paranormal twist.