Audio Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: After Felix by Lily Morton

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Audio Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
After Felix
By Lily Morton

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Narrated by Joel Leslie

Close Proximity, Book 3

Sometimes the best love stories come in two parts.

When Felix met handsome journalist Max Travers, it was lust at first sight. It was just his luck that he then had to develop a terrible case of feelings and got his heart broken. However, two and a half years later, he’s over all of that. His job is going well, he has good friends, and he doesn’t lack for male company. Which, of course, is when Max has to come bursting back into his life.

Felix Jackson will always be the one who got away to Max. He’s spent their time apart regretting his actions and hoping for a second chance. When an accident lands him in Felix’s less than tender care, Max is determined to grab this opportunity. The only problem is that Felix is equally determined that he doesn’t.

From bestselling author, Lily Morton comes a story of missed opportunities, second chances, and two very stubborn men. This is the third book in the Close Proximity series, but it can be read as a standalone.

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Excerpt:

“How old do you think I am?” he says mock flirtatiously, leaning in close enough that I catch his scent of sandalwood. It brings back memories of rolling all over those soft sheets in that hotel room. I’ve been perturbed to find my mind straying to memories of that room a few more times than it should have over the last week.

He’s watching me intently again, and I swallow hard and tap my teeth thoughtfully. “I think probably sixty.” He opens his mouth in mock horror, and I laugh. “Only because you’re so wise,” I say reverently. “Being intelligent really piles the years on.”

He shakes his head. “I’m thirty-seven,” he says, trying not to laugh. “Can you see my crow’s feet?”

“A crow never made those lines. That’s surely got to be a bigger bird.” I wink at him as he laughs loudly. I eye the table where a book is sitting next to his pint. “What are you reading?”

He looks slightly awkward. “Ruth Rendell.”

“Oh, Inspector Wexford. My grandma used to watch those on the telly,” I say cheerfully.

“Thank you so much for that information,” he says darkly. “It’s made my day so happy.”

I laugh. “It’s like I carry sunshine wherever I go.” I eye him. “So, do you like reading crime novels?”

“I do.” He smiles. “I’ve always thought it would be incredibly easy to murder someone and get away with it, so I like it that people get found out in these books.”

I blink. “Said no man ever who hoped to get laid.”

He laughs. “I’m not going to murder you, Felix. Your arse is far too perky for that to happen.”

“I always knew my buttocks could save a life.”

He bites his lip, laughter brewing in those dark eyes as he leans forward. “The only way I’ll kill you is when you die from an overdose of the pleasure that my cock gives you.”

After draining my drink, I put the bottle on the table and stand up to grab my coat. “Pride goes before a fall, Max,” I say. “Maybe we’d better get you back to the hotel before you break something.”

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To celebrate Lily’s new release, we are giving you a chance to win your choice of any book from Lily’s backlist! Three winners will be chosen!

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LilyMorton-Logo-TaglineAbout Lily:

Lily writes contemporary romance novels, and specialises in hot love stories with a good dose of humour.

Lily lives in sunny England with her husband and two children, all of whom claim that they haven’t had a proper conversation with her since she bought her first Kindle.

She has spent her life with her head full of daydreams and decided one day to just sit down and start writing about them. In the process she discovered that she actually loved writing, because how else could she get to spend her time with hot, funny men!

She loves chocolate and Baileys and the best of all creations – chocolate Baileys! Her lifetime’s ambition is to have a bath in peace without being shouted by one of her family.

Connect with Lily:
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Release Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: Play By Heart by Ariella Zoelle

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Release Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Play By Heart
By Ariella Zoelle

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Harmony of Hearts, Book 1

Iason’s known worldwide for his romantic lyrics, but he never thought he’d fall in love. Will his luck change when the stars align to bring Orion into his life?

 

Iason Leyland

My love songs may have made me famous, but they were beautifully written lies that hid the fact I’ve never loved anyone. I had almost given up hope of finding true love, but then I meet him. Orion is all my wishes on stars who can make my dreams come true. He’s my perfect partner in every way except one: he’s straight. Why, universe? Why?

But the cosmic force that brought us together apparently knows what it’s doing based on the sweet way Orion blushes every time we’re together. Can I convince him that we could make beautiful music together that will be worthy of my most romantic ballad yet?

Orion Donati

I’ve been a fan of Iason and his beautiful voice and lyrics for years. I never expected him to know I even exist, let alone fall in love with me. But regardless of that impossibility, he looks at me like I’m the sun, the moon, and all the stars in his universe. As a straight man, I probably shouldn’t be interested, much less tempted by his flirtations. But despite that, everything in me wants a chance to be his magical muse for the songs I love so much.

Meeting him makes me realize that I’m not quite as straight as I thought. The most unbelievable thing of all is that someone as amazingly famous as him could ever want a shy nobody like me. But I don’t want to doubt his sincerity. I want to be brave enough to believe he’s interested in me for real.

Maybe I don’t have to settle for being a fan who adores him from afar. What if I dare to dream that I could be his boyfriend who loves him with all my heart instead?

Play By Heart is the first book in the Harmony of Hearts series and part of the Sunnyside universe. This novel features a bi awakening, insta love, rock star, shy/flirt, gay romance. If you love cute sweetness, sexy fun, and no angst stories that will make you laugh and swoon, you’ll enjoy this satisfying HEA without cliffhangers. Each book can be read as a standalone or as part of the series in order.

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1: Orion Donati

As my frustration mounted, I froze when I heard someone ask from behind me, “Who are you?”

I spun around in shock, only to stare into the gorgeous face of the man I had come to see. Even in the yellow glow of the scattered incandescent light bulbs in the shadowy basement, Iason’s blue eyes captivated me. They were more beautiful than any sky in the heavens.

He wore a cobalt shirt under his leather jacket, which further enhanced the color of his eyes. His tight white jeans left nothing to the imagination. The dark hair falling in front of his face gave me the strangest urge to reach out and run my fingers through to push it back. His tone had been curious rather than accusatory, but my heart still raced from the unexpected encounter with one of the most famous musicians in the world.

My words came out in a nervous rush over being caught and because being so close to Iason was doing strange things to me. “Sorry, my sister, Lyra, is on your street team, and she asked me to come down here to get more CDs for the merch table, but there are a million boxes down here, and I can’t find them, so I swear I’m not trespassing—well, I mean, I am, but—”

“Hey, it’s okay.” His voice was gentle as he reached out to squeeze my shoulder in reassurance. “You’re not in trouble.”

That close, I got lost in the endless depths of his oceanic eyes. The smell of his spiced cologne and leather turned my stomach into molten lava as my heart raced. It was an intoxicating combination that kept me spellbound as he clouded all my senses. As long as he held my gaze, I couldn’t look anywhere else.

“Who are you?” His eyes searched mine for an answer, as if there was a secret within me he was trying to solve.

The very nearness of him left me tongue-tied. Any chance I had at answering him disappeared when his hand on my shoulder moved up to cup my cheek with a tender caress that made me weak in the knees. His touch on my skin sparked my curiosity about how it would feel to have his fingers play me like one of his instruments. His guitar must be in permanent ecstasy with his every strum, desperately aching for more whenever it was locked away in its case. They were strange thoughts for a straight guy to have, but it didn’t stop me from instinctively closing the distance between us.

“Please, I need to know.” His eyes pleaded with mine, looking at me like I might be the thing he had been searching for and he needed confirmation.

“Orion Donati.”

His breathing hitched as he repeated my first name as if it was the most sacred word ever spoken. “Orion.” He wrapped his other arm around my waist and pressed his body against mine. The look of adoration on his face as he gazed at me with awe made my heart thump in my chest as my stomach did flips. He murmured in astonishment, “You really are made out of wishes on stars.”

I didn’t know what he meant or why he would say such a strange thing, but somehow my name seemed to be the answer he was looking for. It was like being in a dream, leaving me captivated and at his mercy. That was the only thing that explained why desire surged within me in a way I had never experienced before for a man. It rooted me to the spot as he moved in to kiss me.

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To celebrate Ariella’s new release, we are giving you the chance to win the eBook of your choice from Ariella’s Published Works!

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About the Author:

Ariella Zoelle adores steamy, funny, swoony romances where couples are allowed to just be happy. She writes low angst stories full of heat, humor, and heart. But sometimes she’s in the mood for something with a bit more angst and drama. If you are too, check out her A.F. Zoelle books.

For real time updates on her writing progress, please join her Facebook group for exclusive teasers or follow her on Twitter or Instagram. You can also sign up for her newsletter to gain access to bonus chapters, previews of upcoming books, exclusive visual guides, and more.

Connect with Ariella:

Website: https://www.ariellazoelle.com/

Newsletter: https://www.ariellazoelle.com/newsletter

Amazon Author Profile: https://amzn.to/3zzxJWg

A.F. Zoelle’s Books: https://amzn.to/3BAgypg

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Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/extraafzoelle

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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/ariellazoelle

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/ariella-zoelle


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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: Real Risk by Elle Keaton

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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Real Risk
By Elle Keaton

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West Coast Forensics, Book 3

It’s possible they’re a match but first the two men will have to survive trial by fire.

Chief Flynn is fighting smoke and flames, tirelessly protecting the lives and property of his fellow islanders from yet another spate of fires.

Arson or accident?

When injury puts him on the sidelines, West Coast Forensics Arson Investigator Kimball Frye offers his assistance. Frye is The Most Irritating Man in the World, a condescending know-it-all who rubs Devon the wrong way.

Or does he?

Decades ago an arsonist stole his family from him since then Frye has devoted his life to putting them behind bars. At forty-nine, he doesn’t believe in permanent relationships, instead preferring the company of interchangeable younger men.

Is the arsonist trying to shift the blame onto Devon, or trying to kill him? If it’s the latter it just might work.

Feeling the pull of attraction to Devon as the firebug grows bolder is inconvenient. Will Kimball listen to his heart or his head? The younger men he’s always preferred are nothing like the solid, stalwart Fire Chief.

Real Risk is the third in the West Coast Forensics series and can be read as a standalone but may be enjoyed more if you read the Real Trouble and Real Danger first. It is dual POV following Devon Flynn and Kimball Frye as they bicker and fumble their way to their happily ever after.

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Excerpt:

Was it weird he was irritated Flynn hadn’t called him about the fires, yet he still wanted to make sure the man ate a square meal? Probably. Too bad. Kimball was hungry, and he might as well make enough for two.

Five minutes later, the shower was still running, and Kimball was texting Birdy.

K: What does Flynn like to eat?

B: Hi Kimball.

K: Hey Birdy. There’s no food here.

B: I noticed when I was there.

K: Is there a grocery store or somewhere to order delivery?

B: The closest store is Chester’s. They’re open for another hour.

Kimball checked his watch. It was just seven p.m.

K: You guys close early here.

B: Island time. Also, winter. No decent delivery this time of year.

K: Thanks.

Kimball set his phone down and began to hunt around for a piece of paper to leave Flynn a note, but before he found either, Devon reappeared. He was toweling his hair dry and had changed into worn, form-fitting Levi’s and a long-sleeved navy Henley. Where Kimball’s hair had turned white when he was in his thirties, Devon’s was jet black with just a few silver streaks at his temples, and his skin was several shades darker than Kimball’s. He looked better after his shower but still tired, circles pronounced under red-rimmed eyes. His feet were bare, and Kimball couldn’t help but notice his long toes, the second toe longer than the first.

“What are you doing?”

Still grouchy, then.

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To celebrate Elle’s upcoming release, we’re giving away 2 advanced e-copies of Real Risk!
Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!
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About the Author:

Elle Keaton writes contemporary gay romance and MM romantic suspense set in the Pacific Northwest. Elle’s books are known for their hot mm romance, complex characters, and unique sense of place. The men start out broken, and maybe they’re still banged up by the end, but they always find the other half of their hearts.

Elle published first in 2017, now she has over seventeen books available for you to read or listen to.

She loves cats and dogs, Star Wars and Star Trek, pineapple on pizza, and is known to start crossword puzzles with ballpoint pen.

Love always wins, thank you for supporting this indie author!

Connect with Elle:
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ElleKeatonWrites
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/HighwayToElle/
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Website: https://www.ellekeaton.com/
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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: Stitches By Amanda Meuwissen

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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Stitches
By Amanda Meuwissen

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Tales from the Gemstone Kingdoms, Book 2

Created by the alchemist Braxton, Levi was “born” fully grown and spends his early days learning about the monster-filled kingdom he calls home.

Even though he is just a construct pieced together from cloned parts, Levi longs to fit in with his mythical neighbors, but more than that, he wishes he could say two words to the Shadow King without stuttering.

Ashmedai has been king of what was once the Amethyst Kingdom since it was cursed a thousand years ago. Only he and Braxton know what truly happened the night of the curse, and Ash’s secret makes walking among his beloved people painful, so he rarely leaves his castle. However, with Festival Day approaching, Ash wouldn’t mind going out more often… if it means seeing more of Levi.

Ash wishes he deserved the longing looks from those strangely familiar violet eyes. He knows no one could love him after learning the truth of the curse. But if anyone can change his mind, it is the sweetly stitched young man who looks at him like he hung the moon.

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Excerpt:

“Ash!” Klarent proclaimed. “We were just talking about you.”

Levi’s eyes snapped to the man who had entered.

Ashmedai.

The Shadow King.

Every time Levi saw him, it was as if his stitched-together limbs were about to unravel, and he felt both unable to move and as if he might collapse to the ground in pieces at any moment.

The king was just so beautiful. Levi didn’t even know if he understood beauty, but to him, Ashmedai was it.

His skin was white as bone, his hair long, straight, and ebony black, with black in place of the whites of his eyes, white irises, long nails, almost like claws, all his teeth razor-sharp, and pointier ears than Levi’s subtle tips, like Levi had read about elves.

Like Daedlys, Ashmedai wore all black, but with stitching and accents in red and gold. He looked so royal, with a brocade tunic and long cloak. He wore no crown, but when he moved, the shadows moved with him, as if drawn to his regal presence.

Levi could relate.

“Daedlys, my friend, Dreya pointed out that my sword belt is in need of mending, possibly replacement, before next week’s hunt. What do you recommend? And what’s this about talking about me?” He turned with a mildly amused smile toward Klarent.

Ashmedai’s voice was deep and penetrating, so much so that Levi could feel it rumble through his chest. Ashmedai was king and not often seen around town, yet he acted toward his people as if they were all the same station, allowing anyone who wished it to call him “Ash” and consider him friend. From what Levi had been told, Ashmedai had always been that way, since the start of the curse, when the once Amethyst Kingdom’s prince brought calamity upon the people and Ashmedai became king in his stead to save them.

He didn’t float like the others but carried such a commanding presence in his steps, Levi’s breath was lost again and again while looking at him.

The white-on-black eyes Levi was staring at suddenly turned toward him, likely having felt the weight of his gaze, and all at once, Levi could move again—because he had to.

“Th-thank you, Sir Daedlys,” Levi stuttered, half muffled by the fabric of his hood. His feet reacted before he’d consciously considered running, because the panic of being perceived by the king made him desperate to get out from under those eyes.

“Hang on, Stitches, have you met—”

“Another time!” Levi all but shrieked, ducking his head to scurry from the shop, and then just as quickly fled from the market.

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About the Author:

Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual author with a primary focus on M/M romance. As the author of LGBT Fantasy #1 Best Seller, Coming Up for Air, paranormal romance trilogy, The Incubus Saga, and several other titles through various publishers, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.

Connect with Amanda:
Website: https://www.amandameuwissen.com/
Newsletter: https://sendfox.com/amandameuwissen
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorAmandaMeuwissen
Facebook Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AmandaMeuwissenBooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6831429.Amanda_Meuwissen
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Amanda-Meuwissen/e/B00IASVAJO/
BookBub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/amanda-meuwissen


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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: The Woodcarver’s Model by Peter E. Fenton

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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:
The Woodcarver’s Model
By Peter E. Fenton

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FROM EXCITING NEW AUTHOR OF LGBTQIA ROMANCE PETER E. FENTON

Sometimes the truth is the hardest thing to reveal.

Travel writer Rob Hanson has been from the summit of Mount Everest to the markets of Mogadishu. He loves adventure, he loves his job, and he loves the freedom of being single. At least that’s what he tells himself.

Everything changes when an assignment takes him to a small, idyllic west-coast island where he falls in love with the local woodcarver. From the first moment he sets eyes on Mitch, he feels like he’s found his perfect match. But things are never that simple for Rob.

Before long he finds himself involved with devious deals, jealous ex-lovers, and secrets from the past that refuse to go away. Rob knows that the only way to get what he needs is to reveal the truth. But does he have the courage to do what must be done in time to save himself and the man he loves?

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Excerpt:

“…I hope the trip went without a hitch.”
He stopped smiling. “As hitchless as a trip can go.” Why worry her with the details? “So…any hot guys there for you?”
Here it comes. The lecture. She did this every time.
“Well, there was Abdi, but I think he was just interested in my money.”
He heard her sigh on the other end of the line. “Is it too much to ask that you find someone

and settle down? How long has it been?”
“We’re not going down that road. Not now.”
“I just want you to be happy.”
“I am happy,” he said. In my own little screwed-up way.
She wasn’t giving up. “You know what your problem is, don’t you? You’re terrified of

commitment.”
“That’s not true.”
“You avoid any chance of it.”
“How do you figure that?” he shot back a little too quickly.
“Well, for starters, your only close friend’s a girl, and we both know I don’t have a chance,

but you don’t have any guy friends at all… I mean, to increase your odds of a successful relationship, you have to start somewhere.”

“Don’t be silly. I have plenty of guy friends.”
“Name one.”
He struggled for a moment before coming up with, “Carl at the gym.”
“The towel guy? Do you even know his last name, or maybe where he lives, or whether

he’s a dog or a cat person?”
“Last names among gay men are not necessarily…necessary.”
“Do you have any guys you’re close to?”
“Why would I need to? I have you.”
She shot back, “I think you’re using me as a shield so you don’t leave yourself open to

meeting a guy you could fall in love with.”

“Wha… That’s crazy talk.”

Rob wasn’t ready for this conversation. Why did everyone assume that he needed a relationship? He didn’t need anyone to get in the way. And as for any physical needs… Well, if he couldn’t handle them himself, he could easily find someone who could. Like Carl from the gym. Whatever his last name was.

“Sorry, hun. I’ve got a call coming in that I have to take,” he lied. “Dinner later this week?” “Of course. Love ya.”
“Love you too.”
“Now, if only you could learn to say that to a guy.”

“Gotta go.”

He disconnected from the call. Rob took a deep breath, then took a long draw on his bottle of Wheel Rat and stared out into the harbour. I’m fine with things just the way they are.

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To celebrate the release of The Woodcarver’s Model, Perter are giving away a $25 First For Romance Gift Card!

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About the Author:

Peter E. Fenton has been working in the creative arts for over a decade. His prior work focused on writing plays and musicals including award-winning productions of The Giant’s Garden, Bemused, and Newfoundland Mary which have had professional productions across North America.

His work outside the arts includes a 42 year career in palaeontology with the Royal Ontario Museum. This job included working with rare fossils, and going on expeditions to remote locations in the Canadian Rockies, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut.

As retirement approached, Peter decided to draw on his many years of living, loving, and exploring and started writing in a longer form. The result is his first novel, The Woodcarver’s Model.

Peter currently resides in Toronto, Canada with his partner (who still writes plays), and is now working on a series of gay detective novels.

Connect with Peter:
Website: www.peterefenton.ca
Blog: www.peterefenton.ca/blog/
Twitter: @virtualfenton
Publisher: https://www.pride-publishing.com/book/the-woodcarvers-model
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/peterefentonbooks
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/21653233.Peter_E_Fenton
Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/peterefentonromance


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Book Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway: Fagin’s Boy by Jackie North

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Book Blast, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Fagin’s Boy
By Jackie North

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Oliver & Jack, Book 1

In 1846 London, respectable young men do not fall for street thieves. This is the love story of Oliver Twist and the Artful Dodger.

Oliver Twist has one desire: to own a bookshop and live a simple, middle-class life, far away from his workhouse-shadowed past. One thing stands in his way: Jack Dawkins–The Artful Dodger–who’s just returned to London and is looking for Fagin’s old gang.

Jack’s visits cause Oliver nothing but trouble, but he finds himself drawn, time and again, to their shared past, Jack’s unguarded honesty, and those bright, green eyes.

Oliver craves respectability, which he won’t find with a forbidden love. Can Jack convince Oliver that having one doesn’t mean losing the other?

A gay, m/m Victorian-era romance with grumpy/sunshine, hurt/comfort, opposites attract, emotional scars, and pure, sweet love. A little sweet, a little steamy, with a guaranteed HEA.

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Excerpt:

This excerpt is taken from a point in the book, early on, when Oliver Twist sees Jack Dawkins (the Artful Dodger) again for the first time in five years. Jack wants to know what happened to Fagin and the gang, and Oliver, horrified, doesn’t want anything to do with Jack.

***

Oliver walked along the pavement, his chin ducked into his red scarf, the snow almost up to his ankles, until his heart settled in his breast and his rage dulled to a low ache in the shivery air. The row of white townhouses, all neat and tidy, looked cream-colored against the smudged sky, their green-painted ironworks hidden by layers of snow.

The world was white all around, a thin swirl about his head and dark flakes coming down from the smoking chimneys, black against the newly laid white. There was, at this hour in the afternoon, yet a gleam of sunlight slanting over the chimney pots, silver through the clouds.

The street was not very busy, as was typical during the late afternoon hours, especially when a deep cold was coming on. All the deliveries had been made, tomorrow’s milk and eggs ordered, and toast and tea were being prepared in houses all up and down the tidy street.

People were inside, as they should be, but Oliver needed to be outside. The townhouse was too full of memories of good things, many of which he’d taken for granted, in a way. Not that he was ever less than mindful of always having a full stomach. Or that his boots were sturdy and without holes, that his stockings were woolen and thick against the cold. And, best of all, he always had books aplenty to read and considerable amounts of time to read them.

When Oliver got to the corner of Old Church Street, he turned in the direction away from the church and the dark grey workhouse, not wanting to be faced with the reminder of the funeral that morning nor the dark, towering walls that represented his past.

He could go into Elm Street Park, where the path was likely to be shoveled and trampled. Though now the dark treetops were humped in soft white, in springtime the path was kept private by boughs of willows and thickets and smelled of greenery and flowers.

Oliver determined he would think of that, instead of the snow that now bowed branches and lumped over shrubbery. He thought maybe that the snow would forever remind him of Uncle Brownlow, catching a chill, growing weaker, the fever taking him, and then this emptiness. Surely spring would come. Surely the memories would fade into something more pleasant than the ache in his heart.

Oliver walked along the street till he got to the path that wended its way through the park. He faced the wind as he went; it was prudent to do this, for then he would be able to walk home with the wind at his back and his face turned away from the cold as he retreated from his memories. But for now, he walked face in the cold, shoulders back, braced against what might come.

The trail beneath the snow was a little slippery, but there was enough traction from stones and branches and roots of trees to help keep him upright. A gust of snow caught an exposed part of his neck, and his cheeks were burning with cold.

A group of men with shovels over their shoulders came walking toward him on the path. Their boots were thick and their clothes were thick, but they were bare-headed, their faces gleaming with sweat from their efforts to clear snow. As they walked, the heads of their shovels knocked snow from the upper branches, and they seemed neither to notice nor care upon whom the snow fell. Oliver hesitated on the path, and then, at the last moment, jumped out of their way, to the edge of the path, shivering as a face full of snow caught him anyway.

Sputtering, he wiped his face with his gloves. He should get back to the funeral reception anyhow, before he was missed. Even though there was really no one to miss him now, and the reception was mostly full of conversation of the idle type he’d never much cared for, there were expectations of propriety and guests waiting.

He felt a hand on his arm and jerked backward.

“Leave me be,” he said, low, almost muttering. “I’ve got it, I say.”

“Leave you be, Nolly?” said a voice, using the pet name that no one had called him in years. “That’s all anyone’s ever done, is leave you be.”

The voice was close, and Oliver could smell small beer and unwashed skin and something familiar that made him freeze. He did not know that voice, and yet he did. He shrank inside his greatcoat, but the hand jerked him again and pushed him against a tree, where the snow rattled down and obscured his vision again even as he opened his eyes.

When he could see through the curtain of snow, there, to accompany a voice from long ago, was a face from memory, five years on. The face was thin, hollow-cheeked, the skin sallow, as though fading from being sunburnt, with snapping, bright green eyes, that rough face grown into itself. It was, impossibly so, the face of the Artful Dodger, also known to his more intimate acquaintances as Jack Dawkins, back from the grave, back, back from wherever he’d been. And he’d found Oliver.

“Oh,” said Oliver. “Oh.” A prickly feeling rose along the back of his neck and along his scalp, and he was cold all over. He felt as though something had punched him in the gut, a deep blow that sent his whole body reverberating with shock waves that made him reel, unsteady, on his feet.

In spite of this, all of a sudden part of him flickered with the memories of Jack from so long ago. Jack, taking Oliver by the hand on a crowded High Street in Barnet; Jack acquiring ham and bread, and feeding Oliver with it till Oliver’s stomach had been as full as it had ever been, more full than he could ever remember. And then how Jack had pulled him through the streets of Barnet and Islington, to the thickness of London, darting across posh, wide boulevards, and trotting down rackety-packety back lanes full of sewage and open doorways with dark figures looming inside.

There was, as well, the memory of Jack’s touch in Fagin’s den. Jack’s hands pulling him back, Jack putting his body slightly in front of Oliver’s when Fagin ranted, waving his iron fork about. Jack, with his hands in Oliver’s hair, or patting his cheek, stroking his arm. Jack had been a constant part of that time, his hands leaving a sensory memento of those days so long ago. The echoes of which Oliver realized he were now stirring inside of him, and which he did not quite know what to do with.

And then, sometime along when Oliver had been snatched off the streets by Nancy and Bill Sikes, Jack had disappeared, never to be seen again. No one had ever told him what had happened to Jack, and Oliver had never known whom to ask. And yet here Jack was, cutting a bright figure in the snow, dapper in a new greatcoat that was no doubt, no doubt, stolen from some fine establishment, where the staff were, even yet, quite possibly peering through the racks and crates and boxes, trying to figure out where the coat had gone. They’d probably never even seen Jack, neither coming nor going.

Oliver thought to say a word, and he opened his mouth to say it, but his confusion over whether it should be of welcome or recrimination stopped him. Jack was not his friend; that finely drawn illusion had been shattered some time after Jack had dragged him into a den of thieves. Oliver had been taught how to pick pockets and how to break into homes.

And yet. Jack had been the first person to show him any real kindness. In the midst of Oliver’s exhaustion after his walk from Hardingstone and his confusion as to what to do next, Jack had taken Oliver under his wing, fed him, had given him a smile and a pat on the head, and Oliver had been so grateful, so unbelievably grateful. Yet, it was hard to separate what had happened on the High Street at Barnet from what had come later. Jack Dawkins had found the life of a thief a grand one; in his mind, it was something to be grateful for. So he had not meant—

But now, Jack’s eyes were narrow, and his thin face was shadowed and grimy from cold and exposure. With a snap, he shoved Oliver against the tree, sending snow to sift inside the red scarf folded about his neck.

“You’re goin’ to tell me what I want to know,” Jack said. His teeth were gritted together, and the accommodating smile, which had flitted among Oliver’s memories through the past five years, was nowhere to be seen.

Lurching forward, Oliver tried to push past, but Jack caught him, the breadth of his shoulders creating a barrier. The group of men who’d been shoveling snow was too far gone, and there was no one else near the little copse in the park, no one to help. When he’d gotten snatched by Bill and Nancy, he’d shouted, and although there’d been plenty to hear, no one had believed him. This time, there was no one even to hear.

“Let me go, Jack,” said Oliver. His teeth were chattering. He wanted to tell himself it was from the cold, only his knees felt as though they’d lost bone and were ready to give way beneath him at any moment. “I won’t tell anyone you’re here, I won’t, promise.”

“Tell anyone what, then?” asked Jack. He pushed Oliver hard against the trunk of the tree with cold, gloveless hands, his smile showing the tips of his teeth. “I’m here on orders of the Queen an’ all; got papers an’ everythin’. Been hextricated an’ that. Five years, served me time.”

“Extricated from where?” Oliver had no idea what Jack was talking about, and yet it seemed that Jack assumed he did. He didn’t correct Jack that the word hextricated was pronounced extricated; it wouldn’t help, and Jack would hardly appreciate the difference, anyway.

“Got shipped back, by orders of the Queen. Been deported to Australia, to the colonies, haven’t I, but now I’m back. On good behavior, no less.” Jack smirked, still pressing Oliver against the tree.

“They don’t let you come back; they send you there and you never come back,” said Oliver, his jaw tight. He couldn’t believe that Jack had actually been deported, let alone returned.

“And yet here I am,” said Jack, smiling fully now, showing more teeth, his green eyes flashing.

Oliver’s rage during the funeral reception, which had begun to turn into grief, sprang anew within him. His heart raced, as it had so many times in the past, pushing against his breastbone in a painful, sharp way, as though battering its way through his chest. But Jack did not notice or care as he held Oliver’s shoulders. And even though it seemed Jack did this as if by afterthought, no matter how hard Oliver twisted and pushed, he couldn’t move.

“I come to London three days ago an’ go straight to the bottom of Saffron Hill. The Three Cripples was there, but no Fagin, no gang,” said Jack. The words came in a blast from Jack’s chapped lips. “I asked; no one knows the story. I go to the other hideouts, the perches, the dens, an’ then ask around some more. I hang about the Three Cripples till they almost throw me to the peelers. But no one’s seen anythin’ of Fagin’s gang, an’ no one will tell me exactly what happened, why they’re all dead an’ gone. An’ no one’d ever heard of me neither. It was as if I t’weren’t never there.”

The words and the grip took Oliver back in an instant, as if the intervening years had never been. As if the last door he’d stepped through had not been the cream-trimmed one at the townhouse on Old Church Street, but the one to the room in Fagin’s backup den, where Oliver had been kept forever. Kept in semi-darkness and utter silence and fed a meager diet and given books about criminals to read until he’d all but broken.

“Let me go, let me go,” said Oliver. He could hardly breathe to get enough air in his lungs, and the words came out thin.

Jack laughed a little under his breath and seemed only amused by this rather than moved, though he stepped back and dropped his hands from Oliver’s shoulders, as though to let him pass. Oliver took a single step, and then, in a blur, he was on the ground, shoulders and back pushed into the snow, almost smothering from the weight of Jack on top of him. Jack held Oliver’s face between two hands.

“You tell me,” said Jack, low, snarling, his breath warm, shocking, on Oliver’s face. “You tell me where they are.”

Oliver could hardly move. Dizzy from lack of air, he could only blink the snow from his eyes and stare at Jack. When he tried to inhale, his breath throttled in his throat, and Jack still didn’t seem to care.

“Who?” Oliver managed. “Who?” He couldn’t imagine who Jack was looking for after all these years.

“Them! Everyone! Like I told you! I’m lookin’ for ’em.” Jack slammed Oliver’s head deeper into the snow until the white walls cupping around his ears threatened to collapse in on him and smother him. “Charley, Nancy, even Bill Sikes. And where’s Fagin? Fagin!”

Oliver’s eyes fluttered half-closed. He didn’t want to be the one to tell Jack, Jack who had come so recently back to England and didn’t know. The newspapers depicting the events were five years old, and even if Jack could find them, Jack’s reading skills had never been a known thing. But to tell him? To be the one? Jack would surely kill him then.

Oliver shook his head and clamped his mouth shut, and was shocked to feel Jack’s fist slamming into his face. He inhaled snow up his nose and coughed and thrashed as Jack held him down. His struggles only shifted Jack’s body till Jack’s legs were between his own, warm and heavy, shoving, part of Jack’s body pressing like an iron brand against the inside of his thigh.

“Tell me,” said Jack, thrusting forward. “Tell me or I’ll bury you in snow.”

It would be foolish to doubt this. Oliver felt the warmth on his face and was sure his nose was bleeding as his jaw throbbed. The press of Jack’s chest on his was pushing him further into the snow, and whether Jack buried him or used more of his fists, it didn’t matter. Oliver was already marked up, and he was to see Mr. McCready the next week—

Oliver pushed up, growling, and for a second, this seemed to surprise Jack, who pulled back, only to slam down again as he punched Oliver right on the mouth, sending hot blood from his mouth to sear on the snow. Gasping, Oliver sank back, trying to shift his legs so that Jack’s weight didn’t press so close against him.

Jack brought his face very near Oliver’s. He wasn’t looking at Oliver directly; it was as if he didn’t care what Oliver looked like. He breathed through his nose, and when he spoke, his lips almost brushed against Oliver’s.

“You’ll tell me,” he said. His breath skittered across Oliver’s skin. “Or I’ll bury you.”

“Jack,” said Oliver, unable to breathe.

“I’ll make you,” said Jack. He drew back his fist.

“No, wait,” said Oliver. He turned his face away. “I’ll tell you.”

It would be useless to try to explain to Jack why Oliver mustn’t look like he’d been getting into street fights. Why it was so important that he get away from Mr. Grimwig and start his new life, start working toward that bookshop he’d always wanted. He couldn’t tell Jack any of that because Jack was likely to use that knowledge somehow, to control Oliver and make him turn back into one of Fagin’s boys. To make him sink to the level of the street, to the throng and pall of those who barely had enough to eat, and where there would certainly be no quiet corner in which to read.

Too much was at stake. He’d tell Jack what he needed to know, and then Jack would leave him in peace.

Jack moved. Half his weight was off Oliver now, and Oliver felt the relief in his chest, gasping with it, even though Jack’s legs were still tangled with his, sending some humming thing moving through his stomach. But more, he shivered with the touch of Jack’s skin, warm against the coldness the snow had left behind, the tiny roughness at the ends of his fingertips against Oliver’s jaw, the heat and pulse beneath Jack’s skin.

“You goin’ t’start talkin’?” asked Jack. “Or do I get to shove my fist down your throat?”

“It’s difficult to begin,” said Oliver. On top of shaking with cold, he could hardly believe that he was having this conversation, which threw him back in time, back to when he’d been a child of the streets, a poor orphan that nobody wanted and could never love. Oh, Fagin had once had use for him and his pretty face, that was certain, but it was for his own gain and never for Oliver’s.

“Try.”

“You have to promise—”

“Promise what?”

“I wasn’t there, Jack,” said Oliver. “I wasn’t there for any of this, you have to understand it, you have to—”

Jack tightened his fist; Oliver shied back and put his hands up to his face, but Jack’s hand upon him was firm. Snow flew up around Oliver’s arms like white lace, beautiful but cutting and cold.

“I can’t tell you more about where they’ve gone,” Oliver said, thinking to take the gentle road, something comforting and soothing, as might be said, even regarding the likes of Fagin and his gang. “Unless it is to the hereafter, and God speed to them.”

“What the fuckall does that mean?” Jack spat this, as if his temper had been frayed by hours of attempting to lure the truth out of him rather than only two moments in the drifts of snow.

“Something happened to Fagin’s gang,” said Oliver. His lips felt numb. “I don’t know exactly, but that’s what Uncle Brownlow told me. It was in the newspapers, but that was five years ago, and they never let me see them. They said it would be too much for me, after—well, after everything.”

With a shove, Jack pressed close, his hand clenched around Oliver’s jaw. “I know you know more, an’ you better tell me quick, or—”

“Wait!” Oliver took a breath. Cold air whistled down his neck where the red scarf gaped. “It all happened so fast, you realize. Once Nancy was killed, the hunt was on, and the courts, they took it personally, having let Fagin’s gang go on so long. So they hanged him. They hanged all of them, as far as I know.”

“Where?”

“Where what?

“Where did they hang him?”

Then it became clear. Where a criminal was hanged was markedly important; Oliver remembered this from the books on criminals that Fagin had made him read. This, then, was the crux of it for Jack.

“Fagin was hanged at Newgate,” said Oliver, as plainly as he could. “I went to see him, to pray—”

Jack slammed Oliver in the chest with the flat of his hand, then pulled him close again, breathing right into Oliver’s face. Cold snow slithered down his neck; Jack’s hot breath simmered against his cheek. A low, cold wind whistled around them both, the dark branches stirring overhead, sifting down snow as delicate as though from angels’ wings.

“Prayers? For Fagin? From you?” Jack looked white, his eyes enormous dark spots, the breath winged out of him, as though he’d been struck in the gut.

“I stayed with him to give him some comfort,” said Oliver as quickly as he could. Only it had been so long ago, and Oliver had buried much of it, and couldn’t dig up enough of it fast enough. But he had to try. Something, somehow—

“It was a horrible place. There were two guards outside of Fagin’s cell—”

“Of course there would be two, for someone as dangerous and canny as ol’ Fagin,” said Jack, arching his neck proudly. “Go on.”

Now Oliver understood, and he stopped thinking about what he could recall and instead began to imagine what, exactly, it was that Jack wanted to hear. Jack wanted the romantic story of it and not Christian platitudes, that was plain enough.

“It was one of the most secure cells, guarded by the warden, an important cell,” Oliver continued. He focused on Jack as this news, only slightly false, fell into the cold, raw air.

“Because he was an important prisoner, of course.” Jack nodded, some color coming back to his cheeks. “Then what?”

Oliver considered the reality of what had actually happened that day. Fagin had gone mad with terror, had crouched on his pallet, shivering and shaking and spouting nonsense. He’d continually muttered about a man who should have his throat slit, someone who had betrayed them all. Someone who had peached.

This last was the worst possible sin for anyone of Fagin’s ilk, so Oliver could well imagine that the person in question should have his throat slit. At least according to Fagin. And, probably, according to Jack, who was waiting for more of the story. Oliver swallowed, settled his chin, and determined to make the best of it.

“He didn’t want my prayers,” said Oliver, the lies, like the words in a story, coming more easily to him now. “The major of the guards had questioned him for some time, Fagin told me, wanting to know details and names, but even on promise of a lighter sentence, Fagin never gave anyone up. He waited, upright and strong, for his fate.”

At least part of the story was true. Fagin had been too busy trying to pretend that Oliver was going to escort him out of Newgate, as innocent as you please, to even come close to naming names. Except there had been that one name, new and unknown to Oliver at the time, and which now remained firmly out of reach. It didn’t matter, anyway. At that point, the guards hadn’t cared who Fagin had been able to mention, so in effect, he’d peached on no one.

“Of course not,” said Jack. “I always knew he’d go like that.”

Jack’s eyes were blind to Oliver now, as though he was miles away, back where he’d come from, back in some moment of his own past. He made a small gesture with his hand toward Oliver, as if asking for something.

“What is it?” said Oliver.

Jack focused on him then, but didn’t say anything.

“That’s all I know.” Oliver said this as quickly as he could. “Something happened, I don’t know what, but Bill killed Nancy. A mob chased him through the streets and he was shot. Along the way, as he ran, he must have led constables to the various hideouts, and they were able to track their way to Fagin, and—”

Jack pulled his hand away, and he sat back on his heels, the edges of his coat digging dark trenches in the soft snow that sparkled whiteness all around. He pulled Oliver to sitting but kept him close by, hip deep in snow, and banged his fist gently on his own bent knee.

“Hanged.” Jack’s voice quivered, and it seemed as though he were trembling.

Teeth chattering, Oliver looked up at Jack and tried to shift to a more comfortable position in the snow, but Jack gave him a shove and refused to let him move.

“Stop,” said Jack. His face was the color of iced paper. “Fagin was hanged because of you. You an’ your snivelin’ face an’ your stupid, pious—”

Oliver felt the rush of his temper, like flames shooting out of his belly. He rolled to his side and shifted to his feet, ready to be away from Jack and his fists, poised, ready to run. The snow flew about him, and his red scarf fluttered loose about his neck.

“I wasn’t there for any of it!” He almost screamed this. He had been there for part of it, but if Jack was going to keep at him like this, then maybe Jack did deserve to know that his precious mentor, his leader, went so mad in the head that he thought Oliver was there to take him away from that horrible place. Fagin had kept babbling about someone who had sent them all to the gallows, leaving Oliver unable to make sense of any of it. “I was in the country, I was at church, I was studying my new textbooks; I simply wasn’t there.”

Jack bent low and scooped up some snow with his bare palm and placed it on Oliver’s jaw. Without thought, Oliver knocked his hand away, making the snow, already dappled with blood from Oliver’s nose, fly and drift down anew.

“Stay away from me,” said Oliver, low, his voice rough from the distaste of having his past, this past, barrel its way into his life just when he was taking a new direction and starting over again. He felt rough, as well, from his shock at the unexpected but not unfamiliar touch of Jack’s hand, the gentle kindness, the casual intimacy of the gesture. “You stay away from me or I’ll call the constable and explain to him exactly who you are and what you were arrested for.” Oliver could almost taste his disdain for Jack. “And this time? They’ll carry you off for good.”

Something flickered across Jack’s face, and there was a twitch along the edge of his mouth. Oliver knew he merely imagined he saw the hurt there because Jack had been on the streets most of his life; no hard words could ever hurt him. If Jack was wounded, it was because Oliver had threatened to break the code, the one that dictated that none of Fagin’s boys ever peached.

Jack straightened up and took a step back, stumbling against the roots buried beneath the white lumps of snow.

“As you wish, Nolly,” he said, smirking. “I’ll leave you be, but you know, Fagin’s boys got to stick together, help each other out. Find good jobs to get to the glittery stuff an’ that.”

Jack had always been happier in a group, and if he couldn’t find his gang, he’d be all alone. But then, it wouldn’t be too long till Jack had another gang, would it. Though that was none of Oliver’s concern, and bad business besides.

“I’m not one of Fagin’s boys,” said Oliver. “And I’ve got nothing for you. Nothing. Stay away from me, or I will call the law.”

“You won’t do that, Nolly,” said Jack, not at all worried, it seemed.

“Good-bye, Jack,” said Oliver.

He picked up his red scarf that had fallen in the snow and started to push past Jack, stepping back on the path, shaking snow from his shoulders as he went. He could sense Jack standing there, watching him, but he didn’t turn back to meet his gaze. Those old days were gone, and Oliver wanted nothing to do with them.

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JackieNorthBySarahJoChreene

About the Author:

Jackie North has been writing stories since grade school and spent years absorbing the mainstream romances that she found at her local grocery store. Her dream was to someday leave her corporate day job behind and put her English degree to good use and write romance novels, because for years she’s had a never-ending movie of made-up love stories in her head that simply wouldn’t leave her alone.

As fate would have it, she discovered m/m romance and decided that men falling in love with other men was exactly what she wanted to write books about. In this dazzling new world, she is now putting stories to paper as fast as her fingers can type. She creates characters who are a bit flawed and broken, who find themselves on the edge of society, and maybe a few who are a little bit lost, but who all deserve a happily ever after. (And she makes sure they get it!)

She likes long walks on the beach, the smell of lavender and rainstorms, and enjoys sleeping in on snowy mornings. She is especially fond of pizza and beer and, when time allows, long road trips with soda fountain drinks and rock and roll music. In her heart, there is peace to be found everywhere, but since in the real world this isn’t always true, Jackie writes for love.

Connect with Marie:
Website – http://www.jackienorth.com/
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Release Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: StrangeLove by TL Bradford

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Release Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
StrangeLove
By TL Bradford

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The Young Americans, Book 3

Archer

The year began great for me.

Became the starting quarterback for an NFL team – check.
Secured a multi-million-dollar contract – check.
Moved to LA and lived the glamorous life – check.

What could possibly cause me any issues?

Oh yeah, one more thing. I’m gay.

 

I was outed a couple of years ago to my former team and my family, but it hasn’t been made public knowledge yet. Well, that is, until now. I’ll be known as the first LGBTQ+ active player in the league’s history. And if I stick to the conditions of my contract, it won’t be a problem. The thing is, I’m not really a guy known for playing by the rules.

Most people think of my personality as the three B’s: bold, brash, and blunt. My mouth has gotten me into more predicaments than I can count. Even my best friends have told me I’m stubborn as a mule and have the delicacy of a bull in a china shop. This presents a big problem for me because I have my eyes set on winning over the guy who stole my heart years ago, only he doesn’t know it yet.

 

Getting his attention is going to be challenging. It’s a good thing I’m tenacious.
Unfortunately, it’s not great timing and could get me into a whole mess of trouble.
Why does falling for a guy need to be anyone’s business but mine?

 

Kai

The past couple of years were a whirlwind of activity. My career took off after my guest shot appearance in Americana. I appeared in a few indie features and finally got a shot at my first major motion picture release. The work came as a great distraction from my personal life, which took a further nosedive after I found out the guy I was falling for had already fallen for someone else.

Why should I be surprised? He was another in a string of failed relationship attempts. I swore I wouldn’t get involved with anyone else, choosing to stay focused on my career instead. That is, until the force of nature known as Archer McMillan came storming into my life.

To be the pursued instead of the pursuer was not in the cards. To top it off, he’s everything I’m not. Yet, there’s something to be said for a guy who can make you laugh when it’s the last thing you want to be doing. I’ll admit he’s got a playful and determined spirit. Archer also has one of the biggest hearts of anyone I’ve ever known. Not the mention the cute way he… Hold on. What am I doing? We cannot be a thing. Nope. Not gonna happen. Ever. Right?

***

Follow Kai and Archer as they cross the lines as friends, partners-in-crime, and confidants, to discover a love beyond boundaries that needs no definition.

(StrangeLove is a funny, heartwarming, slow-burn love story. It contains a cast of fully developed characters that encounter romance, laughter, and life lessons. It contains adult language, mature themes, and is best enjoyed by those over the age of 18. It can be read as a standalone; however, if you would like to know the backstories of some characters, check out the prior books in the series.)

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Excerpt:

From the speakers are the strains of a classic, lush, seductive Rumba.

“Today we’ll work on body fluidity.”

“This sounds like fun. I’m all for fluidity.” His tongue-in-cheek comment makes me laugh. He’s in a good mood today. I want to keep it light and playful.

I move across the dance floor apart from him, striking the first pose position of the dance. I know he’s confused. In an impromptu decision, I want to show him the true magic of the dance.

I bend and curve my body to the beat, placing extra attention on the movement of my hips. I want him to feel comfortable moving his body in a way he’s not used to.

Most men who’ve been brought up straight are guarded against exaggerated movements of their bodies for fear of being perceived as homosexual. Archer’s no exception. He’s fantastic at learning the basic moves, probably because he must remember so many plays from football. His hip motion skills need work.

I demonstrate with my own body the movements I want him to copy.

“There’s no way on earth my hips can do that.” He points at me, incredulous I would ever ask him to do such a thing.

“It’s not that hard. It’s all perception. You’re mentally locked up, believing you’re not supposed to move this way. But you can and you do.”

“I do?”

“You’ve had sex, right? It’s the same thing. Movement and rotation. Push and pull. In and out.”

He shifts uncomfortably a bit on his feet. My words were deliberate. I want his mindset to be sexual.

“This is vertical.”

“You’ve never had sex standing up?” I ask coyly.

His face turns bright red. It’s a feat to catch Archer at a loss for words.

“That’s all the dance is, vertical sex.” I continue to move my body suggestively, coming closer to him.

When I get close to him, I see his Adam’s apple bob. He swallows hard.

He tries to grab me, but I remind him, “We never cross the line and enter each other’s space. It’s all about the sexual tension. The longer we hold off, the bigger it builds.”

He stands stock still as I writhe and undulate around him.

“Something’s building alright,” he mutters.

In his pants. I imagine.

I stop teasing him and focus on the task. “You be lead. I want you to seduce me with your motions. Tempt me. Intrigue me to want to follow you anywhere.”

I place my hand on his shoulder. He puts his hand on my waist to guide me.

It’s like I see a flip switch in him. He starts taking the guidance seriously. He puts his effort into focusing on me.

We start the game. Predator versus prey. He comes for me. I pull away.

We move together about the dance floor as music plays from the sound system.

It’s only when he entices me with his hip movements that I respond to his call. If he wants me, he’ll need to work hard for it, properly completing the steps.

He’s never one to be outdone, catching onto the game. His posture straightens, he tightens his grip around me, and he looks directly into my eyes, no longer at his feet.

He parades me around the room, then without my prompting, goes into an underarm turn. He doesn’t miss a step.

My shocked look delights him, and he presses on further, tying together all the tips and tricks I’ve taught him over the last few weeks.

I can’t believe my eyes. He was paying attention the entire time. He only needed a little push to remove the scared self-awareness.

Though we stand nearly eye to eye, today he seems so much larger, dominant in his lead position.

One. Two. Three. Four.

He doesn’t miss a beat, determined to win me over, giving everything he’s got.

We’ve never practiced a dip, but Archer supports my back, leaning me over gently.

He stays in that position after the music has faded away, eyes locked on mine.

“Permission to enter your personal space?” he asks.

“Permission granted.”

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About the Author:

T.L. always hated math, so it was a good thing she had a way with words. Since she was a shy and quirky kid; words were her best friends. She would imagine entire worlds in her head and talk to herself endlessly. Her mother wondered if she was speaking with ghosts for a while.

Her older sister was a voracious reader of trashy romance novels and would pass them down to her after she had finished them. T.L. was the only 10-year-old kid sitting in class reading “The Stud” by Jackie Collins during reading time. Oddly enough, she never got called out on it.

As she grew older, her tastes evolved, but one thing held fast; her undying attachment to love stories. One day out of the blue, she decided to write the love stories she always wanted to read instead of searching for her story. Since then, writing has been a dream fulfilled for her and she could not be happier.

She enjoys writing about love, regardless of gender and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community.

T.L. calls the Pacific Northwest her home and enjoys the quiet rural life of her little oceanside home with her playful/crazy husband and their giant dog Noah.

Catch up with T.L.:
Instagram – @tlbradfordauthor
Twitter – @tbradfordauthor


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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: Jackals Wild by Abby Kaitz

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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Jackals Wild
By Abby Kaitz

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Quiet, studious Adam Hatchard is ready to reinvent himself and be the leading man in his own life.

  • Survive his first frat party? Check.
  • Talk to the hot TA in math class? Halfway(ish) there.
  • Coexist in peace with his Neanderthal roommate? Send help.

From day one, Carter Ellison has given Adam nothing but cocky smirks, secondhand embarrassment, and dirty underwear all over their room—the perfect storm for Most Annoying Roommate Ever.

His ridiculously toned body deserving to be the eighth wonder of the world is beside the point.

But Carter has a secret: an unconventional side hustle involving cameras and a distinct lack of clothing. When Adam stumbles upon Carter’s online alter ego, the last thing he expects to feel is…compassion.

And when Carter asks him to hold the camera? Adam discovers that there’s more to his roommate than the irritating frat boy persona Carter puts on.

What begins as a way for both of them to earn extra cash develops into something more. Something involving longer-than-appropriate stares, stolen touches, midnight confessions—and the realization that Adam just may have found his own leading man.

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Excerpt:

Slam!

Adam nearly toppled out of his chair as a face squashed against the window. It stuck a tongue out.

“What are you doing! Do you know how much bacteria you’ve just ingested?” He unlocked the window and slid it open, his hope for an uneventful morning evaporating with the tongue print on the glass.

“A drink for you, my good sir.” Mateo plopped a cup on the counter, sloshing beads of coffee over the side. His green eyes were ready for action. “Let’s hit up that new Thai restaurant when your shift’s over.”

Typical Mateo. Wired to go and making plans before the rest of the world was even awake.

“I haven’t had breakfast yet.”

“Which is why I also brought you this.” Mateo produced a croissant from a paper bag.

“Wow, one whole croissant.”

“Aren’t you just a ray of sunshine this morning.”

Adam grinned as he took the pastry. “Why are you here so early?” He tried not to spill crumbs all over the place, priding himself on being Front Desk Assistant of the Week for the second straight week.

“I thought Cassie was going to be here.”

Aha. “So that’s why you brought a croissant instead of those muffins I like. ”

Mateo simply shrugged and smiled.

“I’m covering for her. She had to attend an event for her sorority.” Adam wiped the flakes from his fingers. “Or was it an interview for The Daily Jackal? She’s always all over the place with her events and activities. Makes me dizzy.”

“A woman after my own heart.”

“She doesn’t even know you exist.”

“We’ll see about that.” Mateo took a sip of his coffee. “Hey, there’s this concert at the Basement tonight. Indie band. Wanna check it out?”

Adam dog-eared his place in the book. Mateo was his best friend, but this early in the morning he was public enemy number one. “I was planning on studying today. I’ve got the room to myself again this weekend, so I want to take full advantage of that.”

“Nice. It’s like you got the single you’ve always wanted.”

“I’d rather have an actual single. I still can’t believe you got that room in Wagmoor.” Mateo had managed to score a single in the coveted Wagmoor Hall where most of the film majors lived. Their lounge had an arthouse movie playing at all hours of the day, getting dissected by future Oscar winners. Adam wondered what would happen if he slipped in one of those big-budget action movies. The entire dorm would spontaneously combust, he supposed.

“I think a roommate is good for you, though,” Mateo said. “Otherwise, you wouldn’t talk to anyone.”

“I talk to you.”

“You know what I mean.” Mateo’s expression held the earnestness of a parent giving their son advice. “You’re always holed up in your room. What’s the point of college if you’re not going to live it up?”

Why would I want to live it up before I’ve earned the right to do so? Wealthy guys like Mateo just didn’t understand.

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Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Jackals Wild, Abby is giving away a $20 Amazon Voucher and a e-copy of Jackals Wild!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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About the Author:

Abby Kaitz writes humorous gay romance, with a soft spot for new adult/college stories. She loves watching and reading rom-coms and aims to bring that same energy to her own writing. She lives in Florida and dreams of snow year-round. On her way to becoming that crazy dog lady.

Connect with Abby:
Instagram: @abbykaitz
Facebook: Abby Kaitz
Website: www.abbykaitz.com
Newsletter: https://www.abbykaitz.com/newsletter


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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway: Definitely Deacon by Vawn Cassidy

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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Definitely Deacon
By Vawn Cassidy

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Belong to Me, Book 2

Jesse Ainsley’s life running his busy veterinary practice in the sleepy Cornwall bay he grew up in leaves no time for a serious relationship… at least, that’s what he tells himself, but the simple truth is much more cliché. He’s been in love with his best friend forever, but when he starts pulling away and goes radio silent on him for six months, Jesse begins to wonder if their friendship is finally over.

Deacon James lives his life at two speeds, a hundred miles an hour and stop. He’s spent the last decade travelling the world, winning races, partying with the most beautiful men and women, and living life on his terms, a life which was pretty close to perfect… with just one caveat… he’s never quite been able to get over the boy he left behind. His best friend Jesse has always made him yearn for something he’s too afraid to face and cutting him out of his life seemed like the only answer.

But things are never that simple. When Deacon wakes from an accident in Italy with Jesse asleep in the hospital chair beside him, he discovers Jesse’s been keeping secrets of his own.

At a crossroads in their life, they’re faced with a choice, build something deeper and stronger from the ashes, or let words unsaid and secrets tear them apart forever.

From author Wendy Saunders writing as Vawn Cassidy comes this second chance, friends to lovers, hurt/comfort with a HEA.

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Excerpt:

I surface through the syrupy depths of consciousness, and this time it’s a little easier. My body still screams in agony, and I feel like I’ve been hit by a truck. My head is pounding, and my throat feels like it’s filled with razor blades, but as I open my eyes, they don’t feel so heavy and it’s easier to focus.

I tilt my head slowly and glance at the chair wondering if I really had seen Jesse or if it had been some kind of feverish dream.

It wasn’t, unless I’m still hallucinating because he’s curled up in a comfortable looking leather chair next to me, idly leafing through a magazine. I’m sure he’s wearing a different colour shirt than before, and I take a moment to study him.

His short blonde hair is in need of a trim, sticking up slightly as if he’s run his fingers through it in agitation. There’s a light scruff along his jaw, which means he probably hasn’t shaved in a few days, and there are smudges under his eyes, like he’s barely slept.

            “Jesse…” My voice is barely more than a croak, causing Jesse’s head to snap up in my direction.

“Deak.” He leans forward with a gasp of relief. “You’re awake. You opened your eyes for a few moments yesterday, but then you were out cold again.”

Yesterday? I stare at him in confusion. “Where…” I try to speak, but my voice sounds like a rusty nail, and my mouth is so dry I don’t even have any spit when I attempt to swallow.

“Here.” Jesse carefully lifts a small plastic cup and guides a straw to my lips. “Sip slowly. They had to put a tube down your throat to help you breath for a while, so you probably have a sore throat.”

Understatement.

I sip gratefully. The water is lukewarm and has a faintly clinical taste to it, but against my painful throat it feels like the best thing I’ve ever tasted. I release the straw, feeling a bead of water drip from my lower lip. I watch as Jesse reaches out unconsciously and runs his thumb along my lip. My heart kicks up a notch, and once again the stupid machine next to me starts beeping faster.

Realising what he’s done, he drops his hand and swallows, staring at the machine. “I’ll go get someone.” He frowns.

“Jesse,” I whisper hoarsely, lifting my hand clumsily to grasp his. “Where am I?”

“You’re in a hospital in Rome,” he replies quietly, his warm hazel eyes searching my face for any flicker of recognition, but so far, I’m drawing a blank.

“Rome?” I frown, and I have a vague recollection of a party. “What happened?”

“You were in a car accident.”

I close my eyes against the sudden flash of lights, the sound of grinding metal, glass shattering.

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Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Definitely Deacon, Vawn is giving away 2 e-sets of the Belong to Me Series so far (2 eBooks: Suddenly Beck & Definately Deacon)!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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About the Author:

Vawn Cassidy is the mild mannered MM obsessed alter ego/ pen name of contemporary fantasy & romantic suspense author Wendy Saunders. She’s a Brit and lives in the UK with her husband and kids.

Connect with Vawn:
www.vawncassidyauthor.com
www.facebook.com/vawncassidyauthor
www.facebook.com/groups/cassidysbayboys
www.instagram.com/vawncassidyauthor
www.goodreads.com/vawncassidy


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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: Death of the Moon by S.A. Pavlik

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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Death of the Moon
By S.A. Pavlik

Death of the Moon Ebook

Secrets of the Moon, Book 1

A werewolf with secrets.

Alec Channing has lived a long life, going through the motions, lost in his troubled past, until fellow shifters start dying around him. An increase in werewolf attacks only adds to Alec’s problems. As his past closes in, his only hope lies in one man—an unaware human whose vanilla and spice scent and easygoing attitude draw Alec in. However, what happens when that man uncovers the truth about Alec’s world?

A homicide detective out of his depth.

Detective Damien O’Connor joined the Columbus Police Department to bring closure to victims and their families—closure he never got for himself. But when none of the evidence adds up for what should be a routine death investigation, he’s floundering. As the bodies pile up, the sweet man who caught Damien’s eye falls in the center of the storm. When secrets come out, can Damien reconcile his new reality and solve the case?

Death of the Moon is book one of the Secrets of the Moon trilogy, an 83k word M/M Paranormal Crime/Mystery Romance, with an HFN ending. While there is a complete story arc in this book, there are plot threads that will carry on throughout the trilogy. There are language and explicit intimate scenes not suitable for readers under the age of 18. Warnings: MC with PTSD, past torture implied through flashbacks, dealing with grief.

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Excerpt:

“You don’t even have a television.” The pout in Collin’s voice was rather sad.

Pinching the bridge of his nose, Alec sighed. He didn’t really have the need for a television and rarely had guests aside from Ari. He didn’t make it a habit to mentor other preternatural creatures in his own home.

Maybe it was time to change that.

He could introduce Collin to one of his favorite radio dramas. “Grab yourself a drink and have a seat. Alexa, play War of the Worlds from my library.”

When the intro started playing, Collin groaned. “Really? You’re going to make me listen to this?”

Alec held a finger to his lips. “Just wait.”

When the program had first aired, he and Ari had been living in New York City. They’d spent months calming down the preternatural community afterward. Every creature that had reached out had been afraid the humans planned to pull together a militia to hunt them down.

Collin’s complaints grew silent when the announcer interrupted La Cumparsita to describe a series of explosions observed on Mars. As soon as the music started again, however, the kid acted like Alec was trying to torture him.

This generation had no appreciation for the classics.

The scent of miso soup followed Ari into the apartment just as the intermission started. Her sigh was a little dramatic. “Really? Did you not get enough of this nonsense when the trolls started demanding asylum in Canada? Alexa, pause the program.”

Alec grinned at the memory. At least he wasn’t the one who had ended up dealing with those particular trolls. “I was just trying to broaden Collin’s horizons. Not all entertainment comes in the form of TV.”

“What about all those audiobooks I got for you?”

Alec made a face. “Did you have to get me books that equate to shifter porn?”

Collin choked on his drink. “She got you what?”

“Well, it is not like he has his own love life.”

Heat rushing to his cheeks, Alec lobbed one of the throw pillows from the couch in her direction. He smiled when she huffed at him. Served her right for buying him so many fecking pillows.

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Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release, S.A. is giving away a paperback copy of Death of the Moon!

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About the Author:

S.A. Pavlik writes what she wants to read, but it doesn’t exist… yet. An avid reader, she first discovered and promptly devoured hundreds of M/M Romance novels in 2019 and it rekindled her desire to write. She started her debut novel, Death of the Moon, the very next year.

She was born and raised in Wisconsin where it’s too cold but she loves it there anyway. She lives with her husband and her furbaby—a needy, elderly, deaf cat named Rise (Ree-say). Because who uses names that are instantly pronounceable? When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s obsessively playing video games or proving that an introvert can be an extrovert on the internet after all.

FB: https://www.facebook.com/sapavlikwrites/
FB Group (Pavlik’s Pavilion): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1595352617506076
Amazon author page link is: www.amazon.com/author/sapavlikwrites
GoodReads Author Page is www.goodreads.com/sapavlikwrites

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