Audiobook Review: Love Happens Anyway by R.J. Scott

Hiring a boyfriend for Christmas; what can go wrong?

Derek is facing yet another Christmas where his life feels out of control. He has a new career that doesn’t feel like his, and parents who would just love to see him settled down. All he needs is a temporary buffer for the parties he has to attend, and for his parents to leave him alone. Enter, Luke.

Luke is twenty-thousand dollars short for the renovations on Halligans; his family’s bar in New York’s Financial District. A favor for a buddy has him agreeing to play the part of boyfriend to a guy with more money than sense.

But when the spirit of Christmas works its magic on the two men, and they begin to fall for each other, Derek runs scared, and Luke needs space.

It doesn’t matter what obstacles you throw in the way of love, or how much you run in the other direction, because, when you’re least expecting it, whether you want it or not, love happens anyway.

Narrator: Sean Crisden
Listening Length:3 hrs 42 min

Very much so like the snowman on the cover, this book is cute and full of Christmas fluff.

I’ve listened to Sean Crisden’s audiobook narrations before, so I knew I’d have no reason to worry. He always manages to keep me engaged and entertained. The audiobook for ‘Love Happens Anyway’ is very well done.

I had no trouble just relaxing and listening to this sweet holiday novella.

High-powered yet lonely marketing exec Derek offers to pay Luke twenty thousand dollars to pretend to be his fireman boyfriend for the holiday season.

Luke, who needs some cash to finish renovations on his family bar, agrees to go along with the ruse despite his misgivings.

What starts off as a business transactions quickly turns into something more.

I’m a fan of the fake boyfriend trope. The set-up in this book was pretty funny - Derek had already spun a background story for his parents well before he’d met Luke. And poor Luke had to keep track of the story while playing Derek’s lover.

But Luke was more than up to the challenge. He was definitely a sweetheart, so willing to put up with Derek’s demands.

Derek’s likeable too, but his uptight personality did get to be a bit much at times. I also wasn’t entirely sure why he was so tense about his parents. Their meddling in his life didn’t seem to be that excessive at all.

But regardless, the transition from fake boyfriends to real boyfriends was adorable. Between holiday engagements and parties, Derek developed a respect for Luke, and Luke’s protective side started to come out.

And neither man could deny that he found the other very attractive. This isn’t a particularly steamy book, but the sexy times didn’t leave any doubt about the MCs’ physical chemistry.

The story progressed in a fairly predictable manner, ending with a cute happy ever after (with a mistletoe on top) for Derek and Luke.


Overall, I enjoyed ‘Love Happens Anyway’. If you’re looking for an easy-to-listen-to holiday MM audiobook, give this a try.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Trusting Jack (MC Securities #1) by Ruby Moone

Author Ruby Moone and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the holiday romance release, Trusting Jack (MC Securities #1)! Learn more about the boos/employee tale and enter in the back list eBook giveaway!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 45,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell


With only a few days to go until Christmas, Michael Cross has to admit there is something amiss about his latest employee, Jack Whelan. Quiet, jumpy, thin… he never seems to eat. He is also incredibly gorgeous with dark spiky hair that Michael aches to touch. But as his boss, Jack is off limits. And when it comes to relationships, he…well, he sucks.

Jack Whelan is at the end of his tether. He’s living rough in the middle of winter, and paying off a massive debt, so getting a job with MC Securities is a lifeline. His new boss is also the hottest guy ever. Geeky, broody, and scarily clever.

When Michael stumbles upon the reality of Jack’s life, he offers to help. But as Michael’s feelings deepen, and Jack’s terrible past catches up with him, Michael has to decide between believing in the awful truth that is staring him in the face, or trusting Jack.

My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head...he probably has a point!

Facebook Page -

Twitter - @RubyMooneWriter


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Hosted By Signal Boost Promotions

Audiobook Review: Set Ablaze by KC Burn

California firefighter Hayden Hurst is starting to realize there’s more to life than fighting fires and drinking with his buddies. He has room in his home and his life for someone special, but no one has stood out among his hookups. And while he’s out at work, admitting he’s gay is very different from showing up at social functions with a man. He’s afraid that’ll be too much for his less-than-accepting “friends.”

Broadway dancer Jez Bouchet hasn’t been mistaken for straight since he was gay-bashed at seventeen. After getting a lucrative job offer in Hollywood, he uproots his life in New York and drives to Los Angeles. His brother, who is Hayden’s best friend, arranges for him to crash at Hayden’s place.

The attraction between Hayden and Jez is unexpected but fiery, and they succumb before they’re even sure they like each other. But Jez hates Hayden’s homophobic friends, and Hayden knows Jez is too flamboyant for him to fly under the radar. Then there’s the complication of Jez’s brother.

Despite those hurdles, they fling themselves into a relationship. But Jez has secrets: a tiny spoiled dog and a determined stalker. If he doesn’t come clean, he might torch their burgeoning relationship before it has a chance to bloom.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 48 minutes
Narrator: Darcy Stark

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Hayden is the big loveable lug who doesn’t realise he’s tolerating a lot of ‘low-grade’ homophobic behaviour from his so called friends until his new roommate (and best friend’s brother) the altogether fabulous Jez gives him a short sharp wake up call. By the time this takes place, Hayden is already more than halfway in love with the beautiful dancer, and it’s not a one-way affection either!

This story is a lovely coming-to-terms-with-himself love story where the two guys Hayden and Jez are exactly what the other needs, but the crazy stalker, awful ‘friends’ and learning to communicate with each other leads to plenty of interest. Plus there is a secret puppy. I mean, who doesn’t love a secret puppy!

One of my favourite bits of the story is Jez coming home to find Fang has escaped from his room and got who knows where. Before he can completely hyperventilate, Hayden comes home with Fang and half the contents of the pet store! The idea that Jez could be jealous of the love and affection Hayden showered on the puppy is adorable.

There is plenty of working through stuff to make this a thoroughly engaging tale, but it is relatively low angst with good communication on the whole. I do really love a book where the is good development of relationships and the characters, but I’m not sobbing myself to sleep!

I’d recommend this to anyone who likes a buff and sweet firefighter hero, and gorgeous and sassy talented partner.

I was given a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) by Kelly Jensen

Celebrate the release of Chasing Forever (This Time Forever #3) with author Kelly Jensen and Riptide Publishing! Find out more about this contemporary romance and leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway of a swag bag AND a $25 Riptide gift card. Good luck!

Chasing Forever is the final book in the series This Time Forever. Brian and Mal's story is special in all sorts of ways. Even though these books all standalone, Brian has been there since the beginning--as the character everyone loved to hate in the first book, and the character who seemed to have more to him in book two. In this final story, I share who Brian really is, and hope you'll all come to love him as much as I do. Then there's Mal, his other half, my serious soldier who has been waiting all his life for a challenge like Brian. Sometimes we have to be knocked lower than ever before in order to reach that high, and Mal's journey is one I treasure. I hope you enjoy reading this story of redemption and learning to live out loud.

About Chasing Forever
Old wounds, new directions, and a forever worth chasing.
Malcolm Montgomery was a history teacher and track coach until an accident left him with two broken legs. He’ll recover, but life has knocked his feet out twice now. He’s not sure if he’s ready to try again, especially when it comes to love—and slick guys like Brian Kenway. Still, he needs help mentoring the school’s LGBTQ society, so he asks Brian to take some responsibility.
Brian has been hiding behind his reputation as a liar and a cheat for so long that he actually believes he’s that guy—until his nephew, Josh, turns up on his couch, tossed out for being gay. Brian has never considered being a father, but he knows all about being rejected by loved ones. Now Brian wants to be more: a partner for Mal and a role model for Josh.
But when Mal’s recovery is set back and the sad truth of Brian’s past is revealed, the forever they’ve been chasing seems even further from their grasps. It’ll take a rescue effort to revive their sense of worth and make Brian, Mal, and Josh into a family of their own.
About the This Time Forever Series

Small towns and second chances.
Simon, Frank, and Brian think love has passed them by. Each is facing down his fiftieth birthday—Simon in a few years, Frank next year, and Brian soon enough. Each has loved and lost. But for these men, everything old really is new again, and it’s only when they return to their roots that they’ll find their second chances and the happily ever after they’ve been waiting their whole lives for.
This time it’s forever.
This series includes:
  1. Building Forever — released October 15
  2. Renewing Forever — released November 12
  3. Chasing Forever — released December 10
About Kelly Jensen

If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly:
To celebrate the release of Chasing Forever one lucky person will win a $25 Riptide Publishing gift card and a swag pack of stickers, art cards, and bookmarks! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on December 15, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Warmest Wishes Advent 2018: Week 2

It's Week 2 of the Warmest Wishes Advent Stories! This week we're featuring stories from Emjay Haze, Blue Jones, Daniel de Lorne, A.D. Ellis and Scudder James Jr.!

ICYMI: Week 1

Warren's Peace by Emjay Haze

The holidays are a time for second chances.

Warren Blessing lost his wife (two years ago), and his kids decide he’s been alone too long. They send him on a holiday singles cruise so he can meet someone new.

On the flight from Chicago to Miami, he sits next to an attractive man, but when the flight’s over, he doesn’t think he’ll see him again.

Fletcher Hammond is a professional mystery shopper for vacation destinations and travel. After a split from his unfaithful fiancĂ©, he’s embarking on a singles cruise. He meets a lovely gentleman on the flight, whose conversation and cocktails help Fletcher through his fear of takeoffs, but he doesn’t expect to see him again.

As if by fate, a meeting in the ship’s dining room renews their mutual attraction. But can they build a relationship with distance and baggage working against them? Or will they part ways when they return to port?

R *A Reader Obsessed - 3 Hearts

Who can resist a second chance at love especially on a luxurious singles cruise no less?

Despite understandable doubts and fears on both Warren and Fletcher's parts, this was easy and simple, if not just a tad too fast in progression and a bit awkward in execution.

Still enjoyable because of course, Warren and Fletcher find their well deserved happiness with each other, having at their disposal excellent food and entertainment, room service and spa treatments, along with endless fun time in the hot tub that further spurs their growing feelings!

If only everyone could fall in love under such ministrations! Lucky bastards!!

Fantasy Living - 3 Hearts

Set on a cruise ship from Boxing Day to New Years Day, the flow of this story started off rocky for me, but eventually the writing smoothed out and the story flowed well. I enjoyed the plot line, and the relationship development. Warren and Fletcher had great chemistry and the vacation fling was beautiful. This was sweet and sexy, and I enjoyed most of the story.


I’m disappointed to have to lower my rating due to bi-erasure. It’s not cool, and I get frustrated with this being added to a perfectly good storyline. It was completely unnecessary to even mention Warren’s sexuality. It added nothing to the story, and left a sour taste in my mouth. It doesn’t make a same-sex relationship more valid . So yeah….it upset me and took me out of a very lovely story.

I know this will be a memorable story, for both the good and the bad parts. *sigh*. Some readers don’t care, but I absolutely do.

Thank you to the publisher for providing a review copy. This has not influenced my opinion

Ann - 3 Hearts

This was a very cute and fluffy story with more mature characters, which frankly, is a nice change. The lack of any kind of conflict will keep the story from being too memorable for me, but reading it was still a Hallmark type holiday hug. Everyone was incredibly pleasant and Warren’s kids (adult level kids) were pretty invested in his love life (especially his daughter) which seemed a smidge weird, but whatever, everyone was happy and good for them. There was some opportunity for a little drama when Warren told his children that he’d met a man on the single’s cruise.. The revelation was glossed over, which is ideal obviously, but probably not super realistic. But I don’t come to a Christmas story for realism necessarily and Warren and Fletcher know how to take advantage of a high end cruise and a hot tub.

Sara - 2.5 Hearts

Boo. This one didn’t give me the warm fuzzy feeling of a holiday romance. I did like that Warren decided to explore the side of his bisexuality that he’d been missing being married to a woman for 20 years. He adored and loved his late wife and mother of his children but he admittedly missed the physical company of a man never feeling “sexually satisfied” by his wife. The meet cute with Fletcher was just that and the second meet cute was much more flirty. Things moved fast but I never got a good grasp on either man. I think all the details of the lavish cruise outweighed everything else and I got bored trying to find the romance. I did like what Fletcher did for a living and how understanding and accepting Warren’s kids were of him being with a man.

Trapped in the Valley of the Kings by Blue Jones

Rival archaeologists Will and Jude slept together a year ago, on the night of the Summer Solstice at a dig in Stonehenge. But they were both wearing masks, so Jude has no idea it was Will he slept with, and Will’s been harboring a powerful, one-sided crush ever since.

Now they’re in Egypt, competing to find the lost tomb of Queen Nefertiti. Jude falls through a crack in the cave floor, and when Will reluctantly climbs down to help him, they find themselves in Nefertiti’s tomb, surrounded by archaeological treasures—where they must spend Christmas stranded by a sandstorm.

Will a few sultry hours stripped almost bare from the heat and sharing a bottle of whiskey sort out who should get credit for the discovery—and the real reason for the tension between them?

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 4 Hearts

The things I'm most upset about this story is 1) it’s too short, 2) where’s my damn epilogue, and 3) why hasn’t this author written more?

This has an enemies to lovers vibe, a touch of hurt comfort, and plausible twisty feels to go with some smexy smex. Throw in a grumpy bear (no, not the animal), a bit of an age gap, and two men literally trapped by circumstance that forces them to confront their feelings and make some confessions all against the backdrop of a hot night in Egypt on Christmas Eve.

Highly enjoyable. I will be on the lookout for more form this author!

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

This was a fun and unique frenemies to lovers story. The mystery identity, that wasn’t so mysterious, added a twist I appreciated. I loved Will’s appreciation of Jude even though the unrequited love portion of his feelings led to fussiness. His fussiness wasn’t mean spirited though and it led to some amusing banter between he and Jude. Will was pretty clueless when Jude was flirting with him and while it was obvious to me how Jude felt, Will was a dumb bunny. Not that I could blame him, but it did make him all the more adorable and their coming together all the more sweet.It ends rather abruptly, but the HFN is pretty solid. I would love to read where they end up for Easter.

Fantasy Living - 3.5 Hearts

This was quick and dirty, literally. Lots of sand… and sweat.

Will and Jude had great chemistry and even though Will didn’t quite get the byplay, Jude was adorable and witty.

Something fun and different, I enjoyed the setting to this story. It left me feeling warm and fuzzy and hopeful for the next adventure between these two competitors in archeology.

I could read an entire novel based on these two and their healthy competition for world changing digs.

a review copy was provided or an honest opinion

Sara - 3.5 Hearts

This was super sweet and sexy. I liked both Will and Jude though Will could be a bit clueless when adorable Jude is flirting with him. The twist on unrequited love from a masked one night stand has these two at an advantage though Will thinks it’s only one sided. I smiled non-stop while reading this and really enjoyed how they spend their holidays and hope that everyone spent together from here on out, is as sexy and breathtaking as Christmas was. Oh and… whose tomb where they really in??

The Faller by Daniel de Lorne

Being caught with another man sends Charlie Young fleeing his family to the forests of southwestern Australia to scrape together steamer-passage to the big smoke of London. But life as a timber faller isn't easy and it’s made worse when the men he works with are brash, bigoted, and often brutal. All except Jack Tapper, who’s the kind of gentle giant that sets Charlie’s heart racing.

While the other men head into town for Christmas, it’s just Charlie and Jack and acres of forest. But trees tell no tales and a few days alone is the perfect opportunity to indulge a burgeoning passion. When the men return and find things not as they once were, Charlie and Jack have to make the hard decisions about whether to stay where they are or run for their lives.

R *A Reader Obsessed* - 4.5 Hearts

This short holiday historical packs a punch!

Charlie is scared, exhausted, and losing hope he’ll ever make enough money to escape his past.

It doesn't help that his coworkers put him on edge with neither a kind word or a helping hand. When left alone with the intimidating Jack over the holidays, Charlie just tries to keep his head down and off the guy’s radar. Thing is, Jack’s already noticed him.

Simply, a full of feels, angsty story with a large dose of hurt comfort going both ways and a gentle giant whom I absolutely adored. These two sweetly connect, and their newfound happiness is a hard fought, harrowing journey but a joy to witness! Read.

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

I was really anxious to read The Faller and appreciated the MC’s equally just a few pages in. While the story is from Charlie’s POV, Jack is the type of strong, silent character that always intrigues me. There’s understandable conflict and stress in this short story and I felt a little strung out while I was reading it. There’s just as much action and danger as there is love and romance and the author did a good job of balancing the two, but I did want a little bit more fuzzy love being that this was a Christmas story. I think the rather abrupt ending and HFN left me feeling that way. It’s probably way more realistic how it did end though, but I wanted, at the least, a plan for them so that I could picture it in my head. Which shows me that I was invested in their happiness which says a lot for Charlie and Jack.

Sara - 5 Hearts

Not sure if I can review this without rambling but I will try.

I loved this. I adore historicals and this is set in forests of 1912 Australia. I don’t know much about being a timber faller but my hopeless romantic heart knows a fantastic love story and this is it.

Charlie is doing what he can after being disowned by his family when they catch him kissing another boy. All he wants to do is earn enough money for a passage to London but timber falling is hard on Charlie and he struggles with the work. He also struggles with trying not to ogle the quiet giant and expert faller that is Jack Tapper. Jack, whose presence in the small camp occupies space and all of Charlie's fantasies but 1912 isn’t a time to be open about one's sexuality and with Charlie's history, he stays quiet. That is until the rest of the camp leave for the Christmas holiday and Charlie decides to stay behind to earn a bit more money, but Charlie isn’t as alone as he thought he would be.

[...] he was happy. The world outside could have ended, and he wouldn’t care.

This was so freaking good. It’s among my favorites from this years Advent stories and I fell hard and fast for Charlie and Jack. Jack, he slayed me with his yearning for Charlie and how much he will do to protect them. The gentle giant has a bit of roughness in him when it comes to getting physical with Charlie and I just adored the hell out of everything Jack Tapper is. Charlie is amazing himself, feeling like coward for being where he is when in fact Charlie is beyond brave he makes decisions that give the story enough angst and a beautiful pay off.

Some may think this ends on an HFN and not an HEA but for me, I know these two are enjoying their happily ever after living in a cabin they built with their own two hands, running their own camp that turns into a profitable business they later hand down to men such as themselves as they share cups of tea and read poetry that bruises to one another until death parts them. Yeah, Charlie and Jack totally have an HEA.

Holiday Island by A.D. Ellis

No peacocks were harmed in the making of this story.

Rafa’s nautical skills are less than stellar. He’d rather be a full-time artist, but he has a duty to the family business and a fear of standing up to his father and brother.

Carpenter Lucas is determined to rebuild his business after a lover’s betrayal nearly destroyed it. But he runs into a snag when he misses the last boat to the job site.

Rafa offers to take him, but Rafa isn’t much of a sailor.

When they end up on the wrong island, fears for survival gradually give way to an appreciation of the beauty around them—and each other. Rafa insists a holiday miracle will save them, and he teases Lucas for being a Scrooge.

In the end, Rafa’s miracle might come from the last place he expects: inside himself.

Ann - 2 Hearts

The idea of Holiday Island was a blurby dream but the execution was a little lacking for me overall. Rafa and Lucas had a serious case of insta love and that was the least problematic thing. I get the lust and the hope for a future, especially in a holiday short story. Both these guys needed an injection of romance in their lives and they were sappy as hell once they got together. It was really quite sweet and I liked them together very much even though that level of sweet isn’t really my thing.. But. But. When they started talking about starting businesses together and including the island they were on as part of it, my business brain couldn’t help but stomp the brakes hard. Boys, you know nothing about one another. Lucas, did you not learn from your last business venture?? Not to say that it’s going to happen again, but damn son, tread lightly. Also, you do not own this island, you can not do what you are planning, that’s just reality so I’m sorry, but I have zero confidence in either of your business acumens. Which doesn’t bode well for your futures and it made me not buy into any longevity here. Rant, complete. As for Rafa’s father and brother, that was some extreme BS and added a level of conflict that was OTT and unnecessary. It left me with a sour taste at the end and that was unfortunate.

Sara - 1.5 Hearts

Ugh. I hate to do this to a Christmas story but...ugh. There was zero connection for me to either Lucas or Rafa let alone the two men together. The writing was abrupt and the dialogue was so choppy that it was really hard to get into the story. I am a sucker for insta-love but this was even faster than that. Don’t get me started on Rafa’s family drama and then the possibilities of these two going into business on an island they don’t own with Lucas' past and just... nope. Sadly this didn’t work for me.

Boca Dreams by Scudder James Jr.

You can’t correct the past.

Or can you?

Stephen’s not proud of who he was back in boarding school—spoiled and a player. Now, at the holiday reunion ten years later, he has a chance to show his former classmates who he really is: out and proud, devoted to helping others, and partnered with Victor.

Stephen understands why Victor, who grew up in a poor and abusive household, hates the rich kids at the reunion, but his attitude is ruining everything. Luckily Stephen bumps into Aaron, a former grunge rocker who has also changed. Stephen never forgot their one steamy night together.

With the help of three very unusual personifications of Christmas Past, Present, and Future, can Stephen revisit his mistakes and find the happiness that’s eluded him?

Ann - 3 Hearts

Victor, you are a dick and I hate you. There, got that out of the way. I would have given this story another heart easily if it weren’t for Victor’s existence and if the time spent on him could have gone to the relationship development between Stephen and Aaron. Stephen could have gone to the fete after a breakup with Victor, leaving Victor to be an unfortunate footnote. In order for Stephen and Aaron to work (and I really wanted them to work) Victor had to be a caricature-type villain which really only made me question Stephen’s life choices. Basically I liked Aaron a lot and would have loved more page time with his character, and then he and Stephen together. I loved how they thought of one another after their one night “together”, even after all the years apart and I loved wallowing in their reconnection. Removing the bitter BS of Victor would have given me more wallowing time, and I would have appreciated that muchly.

Sara - Broken Heart

There isn’t anything I can find good about this book. Honestly. I don’t know what the author was going for but a fluffy Christmas read this was not. This was a messed up story with one rude and arrogant messed up Victor who should have been left off the page entirely or just briefly mentioned as Stephen’s ex-boyfriend or even the dude he was taking a break from. OMG! Why was Victor even included?

Had this been a reunion story of second chances and “what if’s” between Stephen and Aaron some 10 years later I could have bought it, even dealt with creepy assed Tony. But this? It was all sorts of nope for me.

Review copies were provided by the publisher in exchange for honest opinions.

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Why the Devil Stalks Death (Death and the Devil #2) by L.J. Hayward

Welcome author L.J. Hayward who's here on her Release Day of Why the Devil Stalks Death with a deleted scene! Find out more about this romantic suspense series and be sure to enter the giveaway of any of the books from the Death and the Devil series or a $15 Amazon gift card, if you prefer! Good luck!

Hello and welcome to my blog tour! I’m L.J. Hayward and I write the Death and the Devil series about Jack Reardon, a spy, and Ethan Blade, an assassin, two damaged but well-equipped men trying to survive their jobs and each other. In Why the Devil Stalks Death the guys are faced with a serial killer of exceptional skill and finding the Judge before they kill again might just be the thing that breaks Jack and Ethan apart . . .

The Cutting Room Floor

It’s not often I have whole scenes I delete from stories. Usually, when I’m cutting words, I do it on a word to word basis or partial scenes. And the exclusive deleted scene I have for you today isn’t really a whole scene, either. It cuts off just before the reveal, because the reveal is still in the book, just in a different place, at a different time, with a different catalyst. So, no spoilers. As the scene opens, Jack and Ethan have just made up after an argument and they’re enjoying the post make-up sex quiet . . .

Ethan’s hand slid up Jack’s side but this time, rather than move up to rest on his chest, it lingered at his waist. Jack was about to open his eyes and check if Ethan had fallen asleep when the hand moved again. Not to continue the caress, but to curl up, a small mound of Jack’s flesh caught for a moment, then let go. After a moment, it repeated the action.
            “Hey,” Jack murmured softly. “That’s me you’re pinching.”
            “Mm, I know.” He did it again, holding on for longer this time. “It’s just that this didn’t used to be here.”
            Jack winced. “Yeah, okay. I’ve been doing a lot of sitting lately, all right? Haven’t got to the gym much. Or chased down bad guys.”
            He felt Ethan’s wicked little smile against his skin. “I’m certain we can work it off, one way or another. If you wanted it gone, that is. Personally, I don’t mind.”
            That made Jack open his eyes. He watched as Ethan gathered up his extra bit, held it, then let it go. Levering himself up on one elbow, Ethan leaned over and kissed the reddened skin.
            “You don’t mind that I’m getting fat?” Jack asked, just to be clear.
            Ethan meet his incredulous gaze. “You’re not fat, Jack. Far from it.” He ran his hand across Jack’s still defined and taut abdomen. “You’re perfect.”
            Determined not to be distracted by pale skin against brown, Jack focused on Ethan’s face. “I’m not. You are. Look at you. All muscle and skin and not one millimetre of extra flesh. Except where it counts,” he added, leering in the direction of Ethan’s crotch.
            Slapping Jack’s chest lightly, Ethan rolled onto his belly, hiding his clearly thickening dick. “I’m not perfect.”
            “I suppose, in the sense that no one person could ever encompass an ideal concept of perfection, if everyone could ever agree on said concept, of course.”
            Ethan smirked at him. “Yes, Mr. University Degree.”
            “Shut up. But look at you. You have the most incredible body.” It was Jack’s turn to pinch his little roll. “You definitely don’t have this.”
            “But I want that.”
            Jack looked at him sharply. He sounded completely sincere. “You do?”
            Ethan blushed and ducked his face into the pillow. His words were muffled but understandable. “I love that you have it. It means that you have a life. You have the luxury to eat whatever you want, whenever you want. To indulge. You can go out and drink with your friends. You’re not always on guard, or hiding, or constantly worried that someone better, faster or stronger will come up behind you. You don’t have to imprison yourself behind a dozen locks just to relax. I’m hard. Stripped to nothing but bone and muscle.” His tone became bitter. “I am a weapon, nothing more.”
            Normally, after such a pronouncement, Ethan wouldn’t want to be touched. He’d be wary and watchful, waiting to see how Jack responded. And he was this time, too. Face not lifting from the pillow, shoulders tense, hands curled into fists by his head. Clear signs to stay back.
            Jack ignored them and rolled over, covering half of Ethan’s body with his own. Wrapped an arm around his neck and gently pulled his head closer, until they were cheek to cheek. Ethan was stiff against him. Not fighting to get free but poised to do so.
            “You idiot.” Jack held on tighter when Ethan made to move away. “You’re not a weapon. You’re a man. An independent, resourceful, smart, fit, funny, beautiful, silly action book loving, speed freak and unrepentant car nut of a man.” He felt Ethan’s cheek press against his own as he smiled. “And hopefully, you’re my man.”
            That got Ethan to lift his face. He blinked at Jack, his white eyes flicking between Jack’s, looking for the honesty behind the words.
            “I am,” he whispered when he found it. “I want to be. I’m trying to be.”
            Jack rested his forehead against Ethan’s. “Me too.”
            They lay in silence again, gazing at each other until Ethan’s eyelids began to drift closed. When they slid shut and stayed shut, Jack studied him for a while longer, wondering who the bastard was who messed Ethan up so bad. Who made him think he was nothing more than a tool wielded to kill.
            “Do you really want to know?”
            Startled, Jack realised he’d spoken aloud. As he pulled back, Ethan opened his eyes and smiled sadly.
            “I’ll tell you, if you really want to know.”
            Surprise kept Jack mute. God. He’d often wondered about Ethan’s history, wanting desperately to know what had happened to turn him into the man Jack met in the desert. At the same time, he’d always feared knowing, unable to deny that it would change how he thought about Ethan. Perhaps how he felt about him. The Athens vision had angered him, but ultimately had only made him want to hold Ethan closer. Perhaps this wouldn’t be so bad.
            “Or maybe not everything,” Ethan said gently. “How about just one thing? One thing I know you’re curious about.”
            Shit. If Ethan told him about Athens, did Jack pretend to not already know? Or confess and assure him it didn’t change anything?
            Untangling himself, Ethan sat up and reached for his feet. Bewildered, Jack watched as he hooked his fingers in the tops of his socks and, after a micro hesitation, pulled them off.

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I hope you enjoyed this little tidbit and remember to leave your email address in the comments for your chance to win!

Many thanks to Boy Meets Boy Reviews for having me today, on release day!!

Cheers, L.J.

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About the Author

L.J. Hayward has been telling stories for most of her life. Granted, a good deal of them have been of the tall variety, but who’s counting? Parents and teachers notwithstanding, of course. These days, the vast majority of her story telling has been in an honest attempt to create fun and exciting ways of entertaining others (and making money).

As such, she is still a mad (always provoked!) scientist in a dungeon laboratory (it has no windows. Seriously, the zombie apocalypse could be going on outside and she’d have nary a clue) who, on the rare occasions she emerges into the light, does so under extreme protest and with the potential hazard of bursting into flames under the southeast Queensland sun.

Social Media

Twitter: @lj_hayward

One lucky commenter from the tour will receive their choice of the Death and the Devil series to date or a $15 Amazon gift voucher!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Spells & Stardust by J. Scott Coatsworth

Celebrate the Spells & Stardust blog tour with author J. Scott Coatsworth and Other Worlds Ink! Learn more about the queer sci-fi/fantasy anthology and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway!

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi/fantasy anthology out: Spells & Stardust.

Spells & Stardust is Scott's first anthology - eight sci fi and fantasy shorts that run the gamut from regeneration to redemption.

  • The Bear at the Bar: A gay fish out of water tale with a pinch of magic.
  • Tight: What happens when your lover disappears in midair?
  • Morgan: The year when everything changed.
  • Re-Life: What if you were reborn in a strange new future?
  • A New Year: They met every eleven years. And each time, Hank's life changed.
  • Repetition: What if you wanted to go back in the closet?
  • Gargoyle: Sometimes you get what you deserve. Sometimes it happens on All Hallows Eve.
  • Avalon: A few bright moments in the sun, stolen from outside time.

Most of these stories have been previously published in various anthologies and journals. This is the first time they have all been collected in one place.

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From "A New Year"

The edge of the old cement pediment crumbled away beneath Hank’s feet into the river far below, glistening in the light of the almost-full moon. The bridge railing was cold at his back—he could feel it all the way through his jacket and shirt to his skin. He could see his breath glowing in the night air.

The nearly-frozen water rushed by in the river below, flowing under the bridge behind him and on toward the ocean far away in a steady flow, silver in the moonlight and heavily laden with winter rain. As soon as he gathered his courage, Hank would let go of his grip on the railing and fall into those icy waters, to disappear forever from the world of men.

It was New Year's Day, 1986, an hour after midnight, and it was the end of things for Hank.

Or it should have been.

It was also the night he first met Dale.

Author Bio

Scott lives with his husband of twenty five years in a Sacramento suburb, in a cute little yellow house with a brick fireplace and two pink flamingoes out front.

He inhabits in the space between the here and now and the what could be. Indoctrinated into science fiction and fantasy by his mom at the tender age of nine, he quickly finished her entire library. But he soon began to wonder where all the queer people were.

After coming out at twenty three, he started writing the kinds of stories he couldn't find at Crown Books. If there weren't many queer characters in his favorite genres, he would will them into existence, subverting them to his own ends. And if he was lucky enough, someone else would want to read them.

His friends say Scott's mind works a little differently than most - he makes connections between ideas that others don't, and somehow does more in a day than most people manage in a week. Although born an introvert, he forced himself to reach outside himself, and learned to connect with others like him.

Scott's stories subvert expectations that transform traditional science fiction, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something different and unexpected. He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark.

His romance and genre fiction writing brings a queer energy to his stories, filling them with love, beauty and power. He imagines how the world could be - in the process, he hopes to change the world, just a little.

Scott was recognized as one of the top new gay authors in the 2017 Rainbow Awards, and his debut novel "Skythane" received two awards and an honorable mention.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Under the Felt Mistletoe by Nell Iris

Celebrate the latest holiday romance release of Under the Felt Mistletoe from JMS Books, with author Nell Iris and Signal Boost Promotions! Check it out today and enter in the giveaway to win eBooks Unexpected Christmas AND Red Popcorn Strings & Gumball Rings!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books

Length: 13,000 words.

Publisher: JMS Books


The most wonderful time of the year is about to get even better.

On a cold, rainy December morning, Finn’s beloved Grampa, his best friend and rock, makes a friend outside their home who he invites in for coffee. The last thing Finn expects is Nelson, a man with a painful past, who is beautiful and generous and turns Finn’s knees into jelly.

What starts out as a chance to get out of the rain, soon becomes more as Nelson helps Finn get ready for the Christmas market. They bond over coffee and fabric and Mariah Carey. Can handmade Christmas ornaments and an understanding heart give Nelson the love he’s been denied?


Sunday arrives with clear skies and no rain, but instead, the temperature has dropped overnight and hovers in the low thirties. I arm myself with a thermos of coffee and dress accordingly: long johns under my orange bellbottom corduroy pants, a long-sleeved t-shirt and a turtleneck layered under my windbreaker, a fluffy scarf wound around my neck and a beanie that makes my hair look ridiculous. It flattens everything under the hat, but at the ribbed cuff, my curls explode in every direction with a vengeance.

A lot of people attend the first market of the season and despite the cold pluming my breath in front of me, everyone is in high spirits and full of holiday cheer. My neighbor to the right, Mrs. Winterbottom -- yes, that’s her real name -- is dressed as Mrs. Santa and sells magnificent hand-crafted fir wreaths. On my left, Mr. and Mrs. Carruthers sell gold-brushed chocolate pralines that are too pretty to eat and taste even better.

Every vendor plays holiday music, greets the shoppers with a jolly ho-ho-ho, and a comment on the weather. The shoppers, in turn, have deep pockets and are eager to acquire the merchandise. People love my ornaments, and my stuff flies off the table. I will be cleaned out completely before the market closes if this continues. I need to spend more time sewing so I can bring lots more next week.

After a couple hours, huge powdery snowflakes start sailing leisurely from the sky, adding to the holiday feeling. The only downer on this fabulous day is that I ran out of coffee early. Mrs. Winterbottom forgot hers at home, and I shared mine with her. I wouldn’t let my worst enemy go without coffee if I could do something about it.

But in a lull between customers, a savior arrives.

Nelson. Carrying two paper cups in mittened hands.

Warmth flashes in my chest at the sight of him; his shy smile and brown eyes that are warm enough to thaw the thin layer of ice from the pond in the middle of the park where the market is held.

“Hi,” he says, sounding out of breath. “I know you like coffee, but I thought maybe hot chocolate would be nice in this cold?” He holds out of the cups and if we weren’t separated by the table I would show my gratitude by hugging the stuffing out of the man. New acquaintance or not.

“My hero!” I accept the offering, tear off the lid, and inhale. The sweet, slightly bitter aroma makes my mouth water. I take a small sip, but it isn’t too hot to drink so I have some more. I hum in happiness and smile at him. “This is awesome. Thank you so much.”

Nelson’s gaze is glued to my mouth with eyelids heavy and lips parted. “You’ve got ...” He sets down his cup and pulls off his red and white mittens, then he leans forward and swipes the pad of his thumb along my upper lip.

I draw a stuttering breath.

“You had chocolate on your lip,” he rasps, his voice so deliciously rumbly I feel it all the way in my bones. “There. All gone.” He does a final sweep before withdrawing.

I can’t help it; my hand flies to my mouth and I finger my lip as though I’m trying to stop the lingering warmth from evaporating.

“Thank you.” My voice is hoarse. Our eyes lock as he picks up the mittens and put them back on. My breathing grows shallow and the Christmas music cacophony and loud buzz of the market-goers fade into the background. All I see is him. All I hear is his breathing.

“Finn. I ...”

Nell Iris is a romantic at heart who believes everyone deserves a happy ending. She’s a bona fide bookworm (learned to read long before she started school), wouldn’t dream of going anywhere without something to read (not even the ladies’ room), loves music (and singing along but, let’s face it, she’s no Celine Dion), and is a real Star Trek nerd (“Make it so”). She loves words, poetry, wine, and Sudoku, and absolutely adores elephants!

Nell believes passionately in equality for all regardless of race, gender, or sexuality, and wants to make the world a better, less hateful, place.

Nell is a forty-something bisexual Swedish woman, married to the love of her life, and a proud mama of a grown daughter. She left the Scandinavian cold and darkness for warmer and sunnier Malaysia a few years ago, and now spends her days writing, surfing the Internet, enjoying the heat, and eating good food. One day she decided to chase her lifelong dream of being a writer, sat down in front of her laptop, and wrote a story about two men falling in love.

Nell Iris writes gay romance, prefers sweet over angst, and wants to write diverse and different characters.



Twitter @nellirisauthor

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