Audiobook Review: Call of the Alpha (Blue Moon #3) by A.E. Via

It's been a couple years since Commander John Marion - the US Navy's most decorated SEAL - hung up his dog tags, choosing his cherished Alpha over war.

Call and Alpha have settled comfortably into their carefree lives nestled in the mountains of South Carolina. No more combat for the commander, and no more ordered killings for the deadliest assassin in the world.

However, nothing stays peaceful forever.

When Alpha's brother Omega comes to their secluded home with a distressing message from their order, Alpha has to answer the call. But what neither of them expect is for the order to send them a new assassin, one just as deadly as both of them, to seek their counsel and bring them back Persia.

Lion's commanding presence was not at all what any of them anticipated. Especially Omega. Lion realizes what Omega is to him right away, but the stubborn man fights his every advance. Lion knows he and Omega have to connect if they're going to be victorious. He was sent to bring back an army, but if he can't get his cherished to yield to him, they are sure to fail.

Contains mature themes.

Listening Length: 7 hours and 18 minutes
Narrator: Tim Paige



Reviewer: Shee Reader

Call refuses to let Alpha fight a gang of rebel assassins without him. Omega will fight by his brother’s side, no matter what… and Hawk saw them coming for his help before anyone else. Together, they’ll fight the toughest opponents they’ve ever faced. As always… these badass warriors are up for the challenge.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, and jumped at the chance to review this one! I absolutely adore audiobooks and enjoyed Tim Paige’s performance.

It took me a while to get into the story, because it opens on the MC’s from the previous book and I found I couldn’t remember why I had liked them! John in particular ground my gears, but I began to enjoy things much more once Lion arrived. He is an intriguing character and I was glad for Omega to meet his match. Lion is a fearsome assassin in his order, but for Omega, he would cook complex meals and run him a bath. Seemed odd to me, but I liked him!

Once the men had stopped posturing and lowered their hoods, they could set about getting an ‘army’ together and travelling to the homeland to avenge the foe.

It was nice to revisit Hawk and his husband on the way, before everything started to go badly.

The rest of the story is a terrific swing of violence, amazing skills and incredible talents. I did enjoy it, but the identity of the person who had put them all at risk was a bitter pill to swallow (no spoilers here) but wowzers!

AE’s writing always encompasses hugely strong men who have soft hearts for their lovers, and this is no exception. I did enjoy the book and found Tim’s narration to be excellent with realistic accents throughout.

Recommended.

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



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Liam (Love @ the Haven #4) by Stella Shaw


 Author Stella Shaw returns with new release blitz from her rent boy series, Liam (Love @ the Haven #4)! Read more about the BDSM lite romance and enter in the $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Book Title: Liam, Love at the Haven book 4
Book Author: Stella Shaw
Publisher: self-published
Length: 55,000
Release date: 21 June 2021
Subgenres: Contemporary, MM, romance, BDSM-lite
Other: Available at Amazon and in KU
BUY LINK: books2read.com/liamhaven4


Book Blurb:


The brawny Dom and the beautiful Diva—and the secrets they keep.

A personal trainer and part-time escort, Liam is burly, bossy, and perfectly cast as the resident Dom at the Haven Hotel. And if anything falls outside that box—like the lacy lingerie he keeps hidden in his gym bag—that’s easily ignored, right?
Felix’s career as a successful model means being at the beck and call of anyone who requires him. He’s expected to be satisfied with glamour, money, and subservience. No one would ever believe his secret desire to take control. When Liam agrees to show the outrageously pretty and delicate Felix around Liam’s infamous Room 8, neither one expects the disobedient desire that sparks between two such opposite men.
Felix is looking for a lover who’ll let him call the shots, whereas Liam is fighting the desire to submit. Their passion and power could make for a kinky role reversal.
They just have to surrender to their deepest needs.

General Excerpt:

Felix’s curiosity was fascinating. In many ways, he was so cool and so confident: he made me feel large and clumsy when he strolled past me to peer in the top drawer. And I was well aware of the looks he drew, both at the gym, and when we arrived at the Haven. But the longer he was in Room 8, just the two of us together, the more the surface glamour faded and he just seemed like… another guy.

He made an irritated noise and pushed back his hair. It had worked loose from its topknot, as I’d noticed it often did. A drop of sweat glimmered under his ear. I had an irresistible urge to lean forward, settle my hand at the base of his skull, and lick that up.

“Here. Let me.” I stepped behind him, swept his hair up in my hand, twisted it, and fastened it back into place.

“What did you use?” he asked.

“It’s just a leather tie.” There was a pile of them in the drawer, of various lengths. This one was dark red, glossy, and looked good against his blond hair. The tips were pale green today, and brought out a muted hint of the same colour in his irises.

I watched the pulse in his throat as he swallowed, my hand lingering, brushing my fingertips over the shorter hairs on his nape. I wanted to take hold of him; to stroke him all over.

“Did you ask me?” he said softly.

I paused, because there was a jarring, yet strangely familiar edge to his voice. “Ask you what?”

“If you could touch my hair.” His casual tone had faded, the laughter no longer behind his words. “If you could touch me.”

I’d just wanted to help. But something stopped me saying that aloud.

“I should have checked first,” I said, instead.

“Yes. Just remember that.” He turned until he faced me, his eyes unnaturally bright. There were spots of colour high on his cheeks as if he was already aroused. He cupped my jaw with his left hand, and brushed his thumb over my lower lip. “Though my answer would have been Green.”

About Stella Shaw

Stella Shaw is a pen name of the best-selling author of MM romance, Clare London. Stella's series of Rent Boy romances, Love at the Haven, launched in January 2021.

Join Stella's newsletter at http://bit.ly/stellashawNews or find her on Facebook at StellaShawAuthor

Author links*

Website www.stellashawauthor.com
Newsletter http://bit.ly/stellashawNews
Facebook www.facebook.com/stellashawauthor
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/stellasstars
Amazon www.amazon.com/author/stellashaw
Goodreads www.goodreads.com/stellashaw
Bookbub www.bookbub.com/authors/stella-shaw
Instagram www.instagram.com/stellashawauthor




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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Hollywood to Horses by Dez Schwartz


Celebrate the release of Hollywood to Horses with author Dez Schwartz and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the romantic comedy and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Hollywood to Horses

Author: Dez Schwartz

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 29800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Equestrian, Horses, Sports, Rivals to Lovers, Over 40, Gay, Bisexual, Rom Com

Add to Goodreads


Description

Mateo Harris, a retired Olympic Show Jumper, achieved just about everything he could want in life. Rising from a nobody to becoming a beloved gold-medalist, co-owning H&H Riding Academy with his cousin—and best friend—Emily Hall, and he’s one of the most powerful and respected men in his hometown of Sweetspire, VA. Nothing can shake the foundations of the life he’s built for himself. That is until he hears his nemesis and former crush, Christopher Wright II, has moved back to town.

Christopher, a runaway movie star, has returned to Sweetspire to inherit the family business: Wright Stables, the only rival riding academy Mateo has ever had to worry about. With Christopher’s charm, talent, and fame taking charge, Mateo is faced with real competition both in and out of the arena. He’ll have to be at the top of his game to prove he’s still the number one equestrian in town, but every encounter with Christopher becomes as challenging as any obstacle he’s faced on horseback.

Excerpt

Hollywood to Horses
Dez Schwartz © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Mateo Harris and his black Belgian warmblood soared over a post-and-plank obstacle, then galloped in a curve to face two gates in proximity. They leapt over both with swift ease. The final stretch sent them gliding over the triple bars as they completed the course in a flawless fashion.

Mateo’s students applauded from the fence where they each sat astride their own horses, the eagerness for a chance to try the course themselves apparent.

The solid thud beneath Mateo’s riding boots reverberated through him, a satisfying crescendo indicating the finale of his performance. He believed a rider should never consider themselves finished showing until they were no longer on horseback. Although he hated to admit to himself, the ache in his right knee also grounded him in the truth—injury and age.

Defying reality, and because of his inherent showmanship, Mateo pivoted his athletic body in one graceful movement to face his pupils.

“And that’s how you win an Olympic gold medal in show jumping,” he announced. “Any questions?”

His students applauded, and he grabbed the reigns to lead his horse out of the arena.

“Why can’t you still win them?” a snide voice rang out. “Maybe you could teach us how to not fall off our horses.” The comment, which referenced an injury he sustained at his last Olympic competition, came from a tall blonde girl, Payton Parker, who Mateo found irritating on any given day; this one especially.

Most of the students appeared to hold their breath after the bold insult as if all the oxygen of the pleasant Virginian afternoon had been depleted. Their wide eyes showed they’d never dream of saying such a thing to someone so well regarded. Known for his equestrian accomplishments in the city of Sweetspire, the waitlist to get into H&H Riding Academy—the school Mateo and his cousin, Emily Hall, ran together—was as long as his list of accolades.

A few uncontrolled giggles cropped up, and Payton smirked at him to show she found the power-play to her peers worth any repercussion.

Mateo pursed his lips and produced a warning smile as he approached Payton, taking his time to remove his black riding gloves finger by finger.

He addressed her but did so loud enough so the entire class would be sure to hear him. “Your parents pay me excessive amounts of inherited money to turn entitled leeches like yourself into professional equestrians. As if any amount of funding could ever supply you with the aptitude you so obviously, and painfully, lack. You’ll be lucky to ever win so much as a participation trophy awarded for anything other than nepotism. You’re hereby dismissed from this class, Payton. In fact, because I’m feeling particularly plucky today, you are expelled. Good day, Miss Parker. I’ll expect a call from your parents as soon as the nanny reminds them they have children.”

The same student giggles returned, this time siding with Mateo and proving to be as good as a slap in the face for Payton. Fuming, she coaxed her Hanoverian toward the exit of the outdoor arena. She shouted over her shoulder as she left. “There are other riding academies, you know! I’ll go to Wright Stables! I don’t need you to win a blue ribbon!”

“I agree. You need talent!”

Nothing made him see red faster than mention of Wright Stables, his only real local competitor.

He chided himself for being drawn into an immature argument with a spoiled teenager and moved to get his class back on task.

“If anyone else would like to be expelled today, please, negligently criticize me. Otherwise, run your courses!”

Mateo waved them off, and they rushed to begin taking turns practicing the paces.

He led his prized horse, Top Shelf, back to the stables and handed him off to a stable hand. Once out of the long corridor on the other side of the luxury barn, Mateo reached inside his navy-blue riding blazer, grabbed his flask, and threw back a swig of French vodka.

He took a deep breath of the balmy late afternoon air, letting the heat of the drink warm his chest and relax him.

He spotted Cameron Myers leaning on the fencing of a corral where he had a student practicing dressage basics. The lines from Cameron’s dancer’s muscles showed through his thin white shirt whenever he leaned forward on the railing, and he combed his fingers through his wavy chestnut hair as he shouted out instructions to the student for improvement. Cameron clapped his approval when the student followed his recommendation to the letter.

He’s a much nicer instructor than I could ever be. It’s a good thing I hired him, or my student body might be severely lacking in numbers.

Cameron raised an eyebrow once he turned to Mateo. “Little early for that, don’t you think?”

Mateo found his youthful naivety charming and smiled. “Just a light afternoon snack.”

The corners of Cameron’s eyes crinkled sympathetically. “Tough day?”

“I teach overly indulged teenage millionaires how to make an animal jump over brightly colored poles for a living.” He took another drink at the thought. “Every day is tough.”

Cameron chuckled and turned his attention back to his own student. “You know you love every minute of it.”

Mateo grinned, putting the flask away. “No, you love it. I just have an affinity for collecting dead presidents.”

“You know I don’t believe that for a second.” Cameron signaled to the young rider to start their routine over. “I wouldn’t be here if that were true.”

Appreciative of his candidness, Mateo patted Cameron’s shoulder.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

 

Meet the Author

Dez Schwartz is a LGBTQ, Dreampunk, & Gothic Romance author and artist based in San Angelo, Texas. She holds a BFA in Studio Art and worked as a graphic artist, and a Director’s Assistant at a fine arts museum, before transitioning to writing full-time. Her longtime love of Victorian spiritualism, gay literary fiction, and romantic comedies inspired her to begin writing all of the stories she wished existed. When she’s not passionately crafting tales, she can be found drawing, researching, or traveling with loved ones.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

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Audiobook Tour + Giveaway: Shadow Voice (The Blackwood Pack #5) by Mary Rundle


Don't miss today's audiobook tour stop hosted by author Mary Rundle and Other Worlds Ink for Shadow Voice (The Blackwood Pack #5)! Discover more about the Nick J. Russo narrated paranormal romance and enter in the giveaway for a chance to win: an Amazon gift card and a Blackwood Pack Pub Mug!

Shadow Voice Audiobook - Mary Rundle

Mary Rundle has a new paranormal MM romance audiobook out: Shadow Voice. And there's a giveaway!

The Blackwood Pack saga continues…

This is part of an on-going series and reading the previous titles is advised. Readers of the past books will enjoy meeting old friends once more as the pack does what it does best ̶ caring for each other.

Slate, one of the last Dire Wolves, has carved out a life which suits him fine—plenty of traveling to exotic locations and an abundance of one night stands to handle his needs. While he’s happy for his brother, who has found his Fated Mate, Slate isn’t interested in finding his—at least not for a long time. That is, until his body betrays him. Seeking his mother’s help—who is an Oracle—Slate pays a visit to the Blackwood Pack where he finds the Fates have once again, messed with his life.

Dakota, the chef for the Blackwood Pack, fell in love with cooking as a young child and ultimately the kitchen became a place of refuge for him. Suffering with a ‘curse’ through much of his childhood, he relied heavily on his mother’s help to deal with it. After the massacre of his mother and siblings by their greedy uncle, Dakota barely survives, but finally forges a life for himself, content to stay home and take care of the people he loves.

A long-hidden secret, rejection of a mate, acceptance of rare gifts, and a brutal kidnapping are just some of the obstacles Dakota and Slate must battle together to save their relationship. As the pack rallies around them, both must learn to trust the other before they can find the happiness that the Fates have ordained for them.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Germany | Audible Germany | iBooks | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Mary is giving away an Amazon gift card and a Blackwood Pack Pub Mug with this tour:

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Excerpt

Shadow Voice audio meme

The sounds of the forest faded as Dakota lost himself in the pleasure of kissing his mate’s soft but firm lips—that was, until the sound of his growling stomach broke the spell. Breaking off the kiss, an embarrassed Dakota said, “Uhm, sorry, I haven’t eaten since this morning.”

“Babe, mine has been growling too; I haven’t eaten since last night. Didn’t you hear it?”

Dakota shook his head. “I guess I was a little preoccupied,” he said, shyly. Glancing around the glen, he realized how late it was. “Holy shit! I have to get home and make dinner!” Dakota said, stumbling, as he tried to get up.

“Whoa! Trust me…my mother has made dinner for everyone, well, except for us.”

“But Jackson will worry why I’m staying out so late. I never told anyone where I was going.”

Grabbing Dakota’s hand, he pulled him back down beside him. “No he won’t, because I told him where you were and he knows I was headed out to find you.”

“Did you tell him we’re mates?”

“Yes, do you have a problem with that?”

Sighing, Dakota shook his head. “Not really. It would’ve come out sooner or later anyway.”

The resignation in Dakota’s voice wasn’t reassuring but Slate decided to not worry about it right now; instead he wanted to get his mate back to the house and then, feed him. “Why don’t we head back and I’ll make you something for dinner.”

Dakota’s face brightened. “That’s right, Colton told me you like to cook. Okay, do you want to shift and run back or walk back?”

“I’d prefer to walk back with you in the moonlight, if that’s all right.”

Dakota thought it over and decided he really did want to spend more time with his mate. He knew they needed to talk about having pups and all of that, but right now, he just wanted a moonlight stroll with Slate. “That’s fine, I’d rather do that too,” he said, rising to his feet again, and offering his mate a hand.

Grabbing it, Slate rose, and slinging the empty backpack over his shoulder, led Dakota down the mountain on the dirt path he’d followed when he was searching for him. “I’m hoping you know the way back.”

“Yup…just follow this path until you get to a fork, then take the one to the right and it’ll lead us back to the house.”

Walking in silence for a few minutes, Slate wished they were already mated so at least he could know what his mate was thinking, but he knew it would take some time before that happened because of the promise he made to his mother.

“Was Jackson angry I left?” asked Dakota, worrying about what he would find at home.

Slate stopped, turned around so he was facing Dakota, then grasping his other hand, he looked intently at his mate. “Not at all. Please stop worrying about it. I told Jackson you were my Fated Mate and I wanted to claim you, but I told you I won’t do that until you agree, okay?”

Dakota stared at his mate’s face, loving how the moonlight highlighted Slate’s features. Nodding slowly, he felt his worry disappear as his body was flooded with his mate’s love. Smiling in response, he said, “You know when you do that, it makes it so easy for me to forget everything except you.”

Growling his approval, Slate said, “Good, now let’s go so I can show off my cooking skills.”

Giggling in response, Dakota happily followed his mate. “Tell me more about the trouble you got into as a pup.”

Snorting, Slate said, “Only if you promise never to tell anyone what a complete shit I was back then. Sometimes when I think back about all the crap I pulled, I’m amazed my parents still speak to me now after surviving my youth. Half of it was spent going to bed early as punishment and my poor brother spent half his youth trying to talk me out of my crazy ideas. By the way, he never did…the best he could hope for was getting me to make a few changes in the interests of protecting me from the danger that made my ideas so cool.”

“Did he get punished too?”

“Sometimes, but usually when he came up with his own ideas,” Slate said, laughing. “My mother told my father I was a bad influence on Steel the time we took her car and drove it into town so we could go to the fair.”

“Why, cause you didn’t get permission?”

Smiling broadly, Slate said, “No, though we didn’t do that either. My parents were furious because Steel was only twelve.”

“Twelve? Holy shit! Now I know why you didn’t ask.”

“Right. We knew what the answer would’ve been even though my brother could drive very well. The funny thing, it was actually my brother’s idea to drive us and, of course, I was all for it.”

“What was the big deal about the fair?”

“We heard there’d be lions and elephants and since we’d never seen any, Steel thought it’d be the only time we’d have a chance to. So off we went and had a fucking good time eating all the different foods and going on rides. We never did see any animals, but the fun we had playing the games…and winning…made up for it. You know, if it weren’t for the games, we’d have gotten away with it.”

“I don’t get it. How could games give you away?”


Author Bio

Mary Rundle

The first book I ever wrote was Dire Warning in 2017 and, much to my delight, it became an Amazon Best-Seller. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates—stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.

As my books began to be translated into other languages, I also became an Amazon International Best-Selling author and then achieved the honor of becoming an Amazon All Star due to their popularity. My tenth book, Darkness Master has just been published and audible versions of the entire series are in progress.

I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box.

My readers tell me they feel like they’re members of the pack as the stories unfold…as if they’re right there in the middle of the action. Others tell me it’s like watching a fast-paced movie. My writing style pulls no punches…readers love it and are always clamoring for the next book.

Stories come to me as if channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy, sexy details.

I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order. I’m always happy to hear from my readers and can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or my website.

Author Website: https://www.maryrundle.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundle69

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundleauthor/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryRundle69

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryrundle69

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14246427.Mary_Rundle

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mary-rundle/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Rundle/e/B0763CDQQ6

Audiobook Review: Following the Rules (The Script Club #1) by Lane Hayes

The geek, the jock, and a new set of rules…
Topher-

My friend’s brother needs an academic assistant and I need a job. Problem…jocks are my weakness. Seriously. I lose my ability to speak coherently around muscle-bound hotties. Oh yeah, I lose my inhibitions too—not a good look for a guy with a genius IQ. So what am I going to do about Simon?

Simon-

Finishing college isn’t high on my list of priorities, but my future in professional football is looking bleak. I need a plan B or C, and I could use some help navigating life as an undergrad. Topher is perfect. He’s also a little strange…but in a good way. And I like the way I feel when I’m around him—as though anything is possible. Maybe if we follow our hearts, we’ll find what we’re looking for. But that means changing the rules…

Following the Rules is a MM, bisexual awakening romance starring a lovable nerd, a cool jock, and some extracurricular fun.

Listening Length: 4 hrs and 50 mins
Narrator: Alexander Cendese




I will readily admit that I’m not a Hayes expert, and though I’ve had some wins with this author, I’ve not read her in years. When the chance to sit back and relax with an audio crossed my path, I said, why not?

Suffice it to say, I immensely enjoyed myself.

This starts off with happy go lucky Simon. He’s a pro football player on hiatus due to several concussions, anxiously awaiting for a call to return to the game that just might not come. Simon’s reluctant backup plan is to finally finish getting his college degree, but he needs some help with his classes, and that’s where his brother’s best friend Topher comes in.

Topher needs money, and what better way to do that than to do what he does best, and that’s being smart. There’s just one snag. Jocks are his kryptonite, and Topher literally cannot function properly when around them. It doesn’t help that he’s had a crush on Simon for years either. The arrangement in theory might be perfect, but it’s SO not gonna work. However, Simon is desperate and suggests a nonsensical plan - they’ll role play so as to focus Topher’s mind off the obvious. What it does instead is set these two up for some ridiculous scenarios that do nothing but incite absurd witty banter and spur their libidos in the best way possible.

I’ve only listened to Alexander Cendese once, but he outdid himself here. He imbues Simon with a brash charming pushiness that means absolutely no harm. Simon’s seriously the friendliest, laid back guy ever, nothing seems to phase him and though he’s a teeny tiny bit dim, he handles himself and Topher’s quirkiness with aplomb. In contrast, Cendese aptly portrays Topher with all his uptight fumbling clumsiness that endears you to his geeky stuttering as he spouts obtuse facts while being brazenly forward when it comes to all things sex. The juxtaposition between these two was fun, funny, and simply entertaining.

Let’s be frank. Regarding one’s expectations, just know this is obviously pure fiction in its utmost carefree form. Check your BS meter at the door, and come on in and get comfy! This is sweet, quite smexy, and with barely a smidge of angst, if you could really call it that. No in the closet anxiety, no lamenting anguish, no self sacrifice. If I’m gonna read a contemporary these days, and a sporty one at that, this is exactly how I like it and need it to be!

Overall, the narration only elevated this story with spot on comedic timing and gleefully increased the playful silly sexiness whenever these two were interacting. To say the least, I’ve never been so tickled by a Hayes book. I smiled, snorted, and laughed out loud.

Apparently, this is the beginning of a new series about Topher and his brainiac friends, and if they are as delightful as this first installment, then I’m definitely on board for more!



Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Mayor of Oak Street by Vincent Traughber Meis


Author Vincent Traughber Meis and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of The Mayor of Oak Street! Discover more about the contemporary romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: The Mayor of Oak Street

Author: Vincent Traughber Meis

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2021

Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 88400

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, age-gap, coming-of-age, coming out, college, political, friends to lovers, period piece, reunited

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Description

In the 1960s, Midwestern boy and Boy Scout, Nathan delivers newspapers and mows lawns. Nathan uses his cover to move about yards and sneak into the homes of his neighbors, uncovering their secrets.

In high school, one of the local misfits introduces him to diet pills, which help him overcome his shyness. In an amphetamine high, he meets Cindy, who he hopes will steer him along the “morally straight” path of the Boy Scout Oath he swore to.

Nathan is infatuated with a young doctor down the street, Nicholas (Dr. B), who embodies all the things his mother would love him to be. On one of his secret forays in Dr. B’s house, he hides in a closet and witnesses his idol having sex with man while the wife is out of town. Dr. B’s affair leads to tragedy, forcing the doctor to leave town.
At college in New Orleans, Nathan meets a group of rebels and expands his drug use. Marc, a bisexual Cajun charmer becomes Nathan’s first male sexual experience, but promptly leaves town.

Nathan has a chance encounter with Dr. B, who has moved to New Orleans. Dr. B is in a relationship, but still closeted. Frustrated by Dr. B’s cool reaction, Nathan goes on a six-month binge of amphetamines and anonymous sex. On one night of debauchery, he overdoses and ends up in the emergency ward.

Nathan’s near death rallies Dr. B and Nathan’s other friends to force him into rehab. On the way home from work, Nathan witnesses the gruesome aftermath of the 1973 Up Stairs Lounge fire that devastated the gay population of New Orleans. As a result of the fire, Dr. B’s live-in boyfriend leaves town, freeing Dr. B to explore his feelings for Nathan.

Excerpt

The Mayor of Oak Street
Vincent Traughber Meis © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The Sangamon flows muddy and rank through the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, giving its name to my city and the lake it fills on the south side before continuing its meander west. One of its tributaries, the even lazier and muddier Harold’s Creek, ran practically up to my back door in its own journey through the woods behind the homes on Oak Street.

The afternoon sun filtered through the tall trees, warming my shoulders as I walked along the creek, imagining building a raft like I had seen my brother and his friends do a few years before. I would ride it down the creek to the Sangamon and into the Illinois, eventually reaching the Mississippi. The Mississippi would take me to New Orleans, a city memorialized in song, literature, and film as a place of wonder. It wasn’t that I needed to run away like Huckleberry Finn. I hadn’t yet learned to hate everything the Sangamon gave its name to. It was a boy’s fantasy brought on by the heat of summer and the mesmerizingly sluggish flow of water.

I heard a branch snap deep in the woods. I often saw hobos from the nearby Wabash Line wandering in the woods, and my mother told me I needed to avoid them, but I sometimes watched them from behind a clump of bushes. My eyes darted around the area and saw nothing. I glanced at my watch. Time to go. For most kids, these were the carefree days of summer, but I had things to do. From the creek, I walked up the hill, through our backyard, and out to the street.

Mrs. Sloan’s heavy oak door hung wide open while a screen kept the swarms of late summer flies and mosquitoes at bay. I put my face to the mesh in what felt like an invasion of her privacy, causing me to tingle from the top of my head down to my big toes.

“Hello? Mrs. Sloan?” I shouted into the dim interior of the hall.

No answer.

I opened the screen door haltingly and stepped inside. The door creaked shut, sounding painful in the silence of the house. I took a step, and then another. My legs shook. I peered to the right into the living room and left into the dining room. A force had taken control of me and pushed me on, my sneakers barely touching the carpet.

I went as far as the kitchen, passing two empty bedrooms on the way. Her purse sat on the yellow chrome Formica kitchen table, the keys to her Oldsmobile right next to it. Out the kitchen window, I searched for her floppy straw hat in the sunny backyard. She was neither in the garden where she often tended her vegetables nor in the lawn chair where she sometimes sat, large sunglasses on her nose and a cocktail in hand. I took note the lawn needed mowing.

Nylons hung over the bathroom shower curtain rod, hypnotically swaying in the breeze from the open window. Though we called her Mrs. Sloan, I had never heard of a Mr. Sloan. My father once complained about entering the bathroom and finding my mother’s nylons drying in plain sight. I wondered if Mrs. Sloan was sad living alone or happy she had the freedom to do what she wanted.

I should have been scared of her coming home and finding me lurking in her house, but a stronger force blocked the fear, a compelling energy moving my mind and body, making me feel impervious to danger. I continued down the hall to the living room, stopping to gaze at each of three framed needlepoint messages: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself,” “A cheery smile makes life worthwhile,” and “You belong among the wildflowers.”

I had come to Mrs. Sloan’s door in my rounds, collecting for my paper route. She was a month behind in her payments. And I rationalized my invasion of her home out of concern for her welfare. My mother once said she wouldn’t be surprised to find her passed out drunk on the front lawn one day. My brother in high school sometimes came home from a night of drinking with his buddies and would collapse face down on his bed in our shared room without removing his clothes or shoes. One time, he ended up on the floor. Perhaps Mrs. Sloan had fallen like my brother. Perhaps she had fallen asleep in the bath and was at risk of drowning like I had seen on a television program.

I spent a few more minutes in the house before exiting through the front door into the calm and quiet on Oak Street. I continued up the block to do the rest of the collections. That night I drew a floor plan of her home, noting doors and windows. My brother called me a weirdo when the first thing I looked at in the Sunday paper was the page with the floor plan of a new house on the market while he went for the sports section, my father the news, and my mother the book reviews. I also scribbled notes about Mrs. Sloan’s house: the color and shape of her purse, the black-and-white photo of a somber older couple in the living room, the buff-colored nylons, the approximately twelve-inch cross hanging over her bed, and the needlepoint messages.

Before I entered my teenage years, I would know my way in and out of most every house on the block without being discovered. It was the Midwest. It was the ‘60s. Crime happened elsewhere. In addition to delivering papers, I mowed lawns. I could cross barriers, move within fences, and befriend dogs. Access. Getting inside the house was usually the easy part.

Everybody told me my paper route and lawn-mowing jobs would be good experience though I had no idea how much I would learn about myself, about others, about life, the good and the bad. I could assume the face of the upstanding neighborhood boy, appearing at their doors to collect subscription payments, smiling and making small talk while below the surface I was another person, motivated by desires they would never understand.

The second time I entered a home was as spontaneous as the first. It was the Pruitts’. While mowing the front lawn, I noticed Mrs. Pruitt lock the front door, take her two identically dressed little girls by the hand, jump into their Ford station wagon, and drive off. When I got around to the back of the house, I spotted the kitchen door standing open, beckoning me. I turned off the mower so I would hear if the car returned. I went into the kitchen. My mother would die rather than let our kitchen fall into such disorder; the sink filled with dirty dishes, and the kitchen table covered with open schoolbooks and scattered papers.

A half-full milk carton sat on the counter. I opened the fridge and saw a whole shelf of soda pop. I took an orange Crush and drank it as I did a quick tour of the house. Not much interesting. The rest of the house was as messy as the kitchen. I finished the soda outside, threw the bottle in the trashcan, and finished mowing the lawn. Before I went to bed that night, I drew a floor plan of their three-bedroom and put it in a folder with Mrs. Sloan’s.

I thought of these intrusions as accidents, isolated incidents that wouldn’t be repeated. But images of those escapades kept dancing through my head, enticing me to do it again. The rush of danger, the real possibility I might be caught, was like a drug. At the time I was still ignorant about drugs and addictions, but my body clearly knew sensations it wanted to revisit. I managed to stave off my urges for a few months. I turned twelve over the summer, and several of my customers who had heard it was my birthday tacked on a bit extra to their payments.

Lawn-mowing season came to an end as the weather turned cold, and we had our first snowfall. Soon after, I started receiving calls about paper holds for the Thanksgiving holidays. To me, they might as well have been invitations. I prayed it didn’t snow as the soft whiteness would show the hard dirty prints of my boots, a trail of my activities. I had to start thinking about such things: tracks I might leave, who in the neighborhood tended to snoop out their windows, or how often people left doors unlocked, windows open.

I made a point of being friendly with the dogs on my street as I knew my extracurricular activities at houses with animals could be a problem. The Jackmans had a golden retriever. I’d received notice to put their paper on hold for five days, making me guess they weren’t going to leave the dog in the house for that length of time.

When I did my collections the week before Thanksgiving, I casually mentioned to Mrs. Jackman that I had received the hold notice. People loved to give out information they didn’t have to. She revealed they were going to their lake house in Arkansas. Butch was curled up at her feet. He raised his head as she took a ten out of her wallet and gave it to me. She told me to keep the change, and I thanked her profusely while I tore off her receipt.

I reached down to pet the dog. “I guess Butch is going to get a vacation too.”

“Oh, yeah. He loves it down there.”

Bingo, I was in. After our Thanksgiving meal, Dad and my brother watched the football game on TV while Mom cleaned up. I went to my room, saying I was going to read. Nobody thought it was odd. In my family, everybody did pretty much what he or she wanted. Normally, after a Thanksgiving meal, Dad and my brother passed out in front of the TV, and Mom curled up in a chair to read after cleaning up the kitchen. They had all had a lot of wine at dinner, including David, who my parents allowed to drink though he was only sixteen, something about him learning to drink responsibly at home keeping him from being irresponsible when he went out. I wasn’t sure that was working.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Vincent Traughber Meis started writing plays as a child in the Midwest and cajoled his sisters to act in performing them for neighbors. In high school, one of his short stories won a local contest sponsored by the newspaper. After graduating from college, he worked on a number of short stories and began his first novel. In the 1980’s and 90’s he published a number of pieces, mostly travel articles in publications such as, The Advocate, LA Weekly, In Style, and Our World. His travels have inspired his five novels, all set at least partially in foreign countries: Eddie’s Desert Rose (2011), Tio Jorge (2012), and Down in Cuba (2013), Deluge (2016) and Four Calling Burds (2019). Tio Jorge received a Rainbow Award in the category of Bisexual Fiction in 2012. Down in Cuba received two Rainbow Awards in 2013. Recently stories have been published in three collections: WITH:New Gay Fiction, Best Gay Erotica Vol 1 and Best Gay Erotica Vol 4. He lives in San Leandro, CA with his husband.

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Shiftless (Night Shift #3) by T.A. Moore


Author T.A. Moore returns with a new blog tour for urban fantasy series finale, Shiftless (Night Shift #3)! The author shares an exclusive excerpt of an exclusive short story written for the tour AND hosts a $10 Amazon gift card giveaway! Good luck!


Title:
Shiftless
Publisher:Rogue Firebird Press
Release: June 19
Link: https://books2read.com/shiftless-tamoore
Blurb: Night Shift is the city's thin, silver line- and some nights it's thinner than others.

It isn't the fact he almost died last night that's thrown Night Shift officer Kit Marlow. He's used to that. It's the fact that instead of a werewolf trying to rip his throat out, it was his friend and colleague who tried to put him in the ground.

Well, 'friend.'

Now Marlow's been framed for a murder he didn't commit by a man who's committed more than his fair share. Half the cops in San Diego want to see Marlow behind bars for what he's supposedly done, and the other half want him dead before he can tell his side of the story. The problem is that he can't tell them apart.

There's only one person in town that Marlow can trust, even though he knows he shouldn't drag Cade Deacon into his problems. The sharp-tongued CEO of a private security firm might have gotten close to Marlow over the last few weeks, but taking on the SDPD is a lot to ask.

Marlow doesn't have much choice, though. If he can't clear his name before the last full moon of the month sets, he might not see another one. That'd be a shame since Marlow would really like to spend the night with Cade without needing protective gear.

Tour:


First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new release, Shiftless by TA Moore, which completes the Night Shift trilogy! I believe it is still technically a novella, although it’s the novella that kicked the other novellas out of the nest and ate all the food!

For the blog tour I’ve written a short story set in the Night Shift world. I hope you enjoy!

Chapter Five

Habit made Marlow fight.

He drove the heel of his hand into the side of one of the men’s elbows. It popped the wrong way, and the man stumbled back with a strangled howl. Marlow snapped an elbow back into someone’s stomach, hard enough to make them grunt and loosen his grip on him.

For a second, the path to ‘out’ was laid out in his brain like a blueprint. He snapped his head forward into one of the men’s masked face. The snap and spray of blood through the thin knit fabric said he’d connected with the nose, not the teeth. They staggered back, one hand up to catch the ooze of blood.

Now all he had to do was shake the man on his right and head for the door. The plan petered out around that point, but he could work it out on the move.

He twisted around and threw a punch. His knuckles missed the man’s nose as he jerked his head back, but caught him in the point of his chin. The impact snapped the man’s mouth shut and made his eyes—the glimpse of blue visible through the eye-slit—water. He staggered back, and Marlow lunged for the door, swung open on broken hinges.

Two steps.

That was how far he got before a swung baton caught him on the front of his knee. He felt it go, a weirdly painless elastic snap, and then his leg gave way, and he pitched forward. The graceless somersault ended early, face down on the floor with the wind knocked out of him. A knee—whose he couldn’t tell—pressed down painfully in the small of his back as someone yanked Marlow’s arms back to snap cuffs on them.

“Fucker,” someone said, voice thick and half-choked.

“He’s Night Shift. Did you expect him to go down easy?”

The laugh was mean. “I expected him to be wearing pants.”

Rough hands dragged Marlow to his feet. A hand slapped his ass. The flashfire sting of it briefly distracted Marlow from the ruined throb of his knee. Tears stung his eyes, not because of the pain but from the sudden, deep bite of embarrassment.

“Get him out of here,” one of the men said. “You know where to go. I’ll clean house here.”

They dragged him out onto the street, past his newly restored car, and shoved him into the trunk of the aggressively nondescript car parked across his driveway. Panic was dry and tight in his throat as the lid slammed down, and a second later, the engine started.

In the dim light that leaked into the trunk through the broken tail-light, Marlow could see the SDPD branding on the TAC gear under him.

----------------

Read the rest of the story on www.tamoorewrites.com tomorrow!

Author Bio:

TA MOORE


TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

Website: www.tamoorewrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMoorewrites/
Twitter: @tamoorewrites

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Taking Chances in Cedarwood (Cedarwood Pride #14) by Megan Slayer


Author Megan Slayer and Pride Publishing share the Taking Chances in Cedarwood (Cedarwood Pride #14) release blitz today! Read more about the opposites attract romance from the popular romance series! Enter in the giveaway for a chance to win: LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND YOUR FREE MEGAN SLAYER ROMANCE BOOK!

Taking Chances in Cedarwood by Megan Slayer

Word Count: 41,902
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 172

GENRES:

CELEBRITIES
CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI

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Book Description

He found his freedom…in Cedarwood.

Cain Ables is the it actor in Hollywood. Everyone wants to work with him, his movies make money and he’s handsome—but all that glitters isn’t gold. He’s lonely. Growing up in the glare of the spotlight with the stage parents from hell and being protected from any scandal—and real life—has left him empty. Cain wants freedom and experience. He also wants to come out. The man who plays by the rules is about to break them all.

Andrew Meadows isn’t looking for love. He’s at the farmers’ market to sell the fruit and vegetables he’s grown. When Cain shows up at his stall, he’s captivated. The more they talk, the more he likes Cain, but Cain’s got baggage—and he’s not out yet. Yet something about Cain makes Andrew want to take a chance on romance…and forever.

Will the farmer and actor find the love they both deserve, or will the glare of the spotlight ruin their future?

Reader advisory: This book contains mentions of homophobia, and controlling, emotionally and financially abusive parenting.

Excerpt

“This is the script that’s going to catapult me into the next level?” Cain Ables stared at his agent, Dixon Nell. “You’re sure?” Cain read through the script again. He’d always wanted to do an LGBTQ movie and stretch his acting abilities. He also wanted to finally come out and admit he was gay. Jesus. No one wanted their boy wonder to be gay. He had to be approachable and make people desire him. According to his agent and parents, no one would want him if he wasn’t perfect.

Apparently, being gay wasn’t perfect.

What the fuck did anyone else know? He was gay and very imperfect.

“You’re going to work with Liam Blackwell,” Dixon said. “He’s a good guy and careful with his costars. He won’t make you do anything you’re not comfortable doing. Just say the word and he won’t kiss you or anything without your being okay. You know him, remember? You met at the celebrity baseball game last year.”

“I remember.” Cain closed the script. “How do you know I won’t want him to kiss me?”

“Please.” Dixon rolled his eyes. “You’re being a maverick by stepping out of your comfort zone. This role will have award nods all over it. You need to do this.”

“But?” He both loved and hated his agent. Dixon could act like he cared one thousand percent for Cain and his career, then he could turn on him and be so scathing. Cain never knew which side of Dixon he’d get.

“But you’re not gay. You’re the it guy in Hollywood. This is going to be a big risk, but it’ll be worth it when you get the statuette.” Dixon grasped Cain by the shoulders. “You’re getting older, and while you can age in Hollywood, you can’t be the pretty boy all your life. You’ll have to age with the roles. You’ll have to mature.”

Cain knew that. He wasn’t stupid. In his thirty years, he’d played so many roles that he swore the business had to be tired of him. He curled the script in his hands. For someone who disappeared into characters, he’d damn near lost his true self along the way. He stared at Dixon again. “What if I am gay?”

Dixon burst out laughing. “You’re not gay. Confused, maybe, and intrigued by this role, but you’re not gay.” He shook his head and continued laughing. “God, if you were really gay, you’d have come out by now and you’d be chasing Penn. That kid will fuck anything who asks.”

Cain glared at Dixon as he walked away. What an asshole. I’d be chasing Penn. Who does Dixon think he is? Dixon knew lots about the business, but nothing about dating or relationships. He certainly knew nothing about Cain. Penn wasn’t Cain’s type. Too pushy and way too young.

“Hey.” Penn strutted up to Cain. “I hear you’re working with Liam Blackwell and going to Cedarwood to make a movie.” He rubbed his hands together. “There’s not much to do in Cedarwood. It’s small, boring, dull…” His eyes flashed. “You could always take an assistant or two with you. I’ll bet Lucia would go along. She wants more exposure.”

He shook his head. Penn was not his type. He’d kept his preferences to himself, but honed them over the years. He wanted a man with muscles, a forthright attitude, who wasn’t afraid of manual labor and looked good in a baseball cap. Penn wouldn’t know what to do with himself if he had to wear a T-shirt and jeans for a living. “How old are you?”

“Twenty-three.” Penn grinned. His green eyes glittered and the smattering of hairs on his chin belied his age. He rested his hands on his narrow hips. “Interested? I’m game to go to Cedarwood. I bet we could have a great time. I’d keep my mouth shut.”

His stomach churned. Is Penn coming on to me? He hadn’t come out yet and was already being propositioned. Penn would keep quiet for a hefty price. “No thanks.”

“You’re sure?” Penn rubbed Cain’s thigh. “You don’t know what you want until you can’t have it.”

“I’m okay.” He left the chair and squeezed the script in his hand. He’d agreed to do the movie and agreed to film in Cedarwood. Maybe it was time to head out to Ohio and find himself. He knew damn well he was gay, but he had to decide what he wanted out of life. Did he want to come out? Could he live his life in the closet?

He massaged his forehead and continued walking away from Penn. In some ways, the man was attractive. He also offered an interesting proposition—he could be the first lover Cain wanted without having strings…unless he counted the financial ones. Penn would attempt to bleed him dry. If he wasn’t begging for money, he’d take him to court or wring him out in the tabloids.

His stomach churned harder. In the last year, Cain had fought the twisting ache in his belly and the fear he’d be found out. He was gay. No question. He’d dated starlets and had been with women, but he’d rather be looking at their dates or admiring another certain actor’s ass.

He was supposed to be the guy every woman wanted to fuck and the man the guys wanted to hang out with—attainable, even if he wasn’t going to be anywhere near most of his fans. His parents made sure he stayed as isolated as possible. Maybe that was his problem. He needed to get out from under their thumb. He’d been under it for long enough.

The limo waited at the side door of the offices. The driver opened the door for him and ensured Cain was ensconced in the back seat. The scent of rich leather swirled around Cain, and the darkened windows of the vehicle ensured no one would see him. He could move around without anyone knowing he was there. A ghost of himself.

He unrolled the script and read through the first three pages again. Two men, quiet romance, small town and everyone rooting for them. He needed to do this movie. If he did, he’d get to go on location. His parents wouldn’t follow him to Ohio. They detested anywhere that wasn’t Beverly Hills. He’d go to Ohio, read, relax and be a human being. Yeah, he’d do this movie. He’d do the hell out of it. If he happened to grow as a person or found a lover, then even better. First, he had to get the fuck out of California and be on his own.

The vehicle lurched and swerved, then stopped. He had no idea how long he’d been in the back or where he was, but he assumed the driver had taken him home. He might be a big celebrity and wanted by millions, but he had little free will.

The door opened and a valet gestured to him. “Good afternoon, Mr. Ables.”

“Hello.” He didn’t recognize this valet. “Where’s Green?”

“Reassigned, sir.” The valet closed the limo door. “Your mother requests your presence.”

“Thanks.” He patted the valet on the arm. The guy was only doing his job. Cain’s mother and father insisted on orchestrating his life as much as possible. He knew damn well why—if he stopped working or fell out of favor, they’d lose their funding. He’d kept the family afloat nearly his entire life.

He strode through the house to the massive living room. The opulence and expense of the place suffocated him. Everywhere he looked, he recognized something bought with the money he’d made over his career. His parents hadn’t worked for a damn thing.

His mother lounged on the expansive couch. She had pillows around her and a magazine on her lap. She flipped through the pages. “You’re home.”

“I am.” He didn’t sit. Not now. He couldn’t relax. “Reading anything important?”

“You’re featured in this magazine.” She held up the periodical. “I see you’re with Aidyn Malachi. Good. She’s up-and-coming. You need to be seen with someone fresh.”

“I do.” Someone who isn’t a starlet.

“You look like you’re upset.” His father stood by the bar. He sipped a brandy and crossed his ankles. “Something on your mind?”

He shored up his courage. He had no plan to get to Cedarwood. No money of his own. Fuck it. He’d figure something out. Rami had always been good for a favor. He’d call his best friend to get him to the airport. “I’m leaving.”

“You are?” His father laughed. “Christ. You have no idea how to live on your own. Where in the fuck do you think you’re going? You can’t handle life without us guiding you.”

His father was such a stereotype—elbow-bending closet drunk pretending to be macho and perfect, all while he’d lost control. His wife had cheated on him multiple times. He’d cheated on her, too, and Cain swore he had a sibling somewhere he knew nothing about. The odds were in his favor for the assumption to be true. Cain gritted his teeth. “I’m being called out for a movie and need to go on location. Plain and simple. I don’t need a babysitter. Remember? I’m thirty years old. I can handle my life.” Maybe, but maybe not. He’d never actually lived on his own. He’d been given spending money and the catering trucks made sure he was fed.

“You’re not going.” His mother didn’t look up from the magazine. “You aren’t ready.” She pointed to an image of Cain tangled up with Aidyn in a bed. Both looked disheveled and sated after sex. “This is what you should be doing. Marry her. Or fake it. The public needs more of these pictures.”

He rolled his eyes. The photoshoot had been a gigantic disaster. Aidyn had cried half the time, wanting her actual boyfriend, and the photographer had pushed him and Aidyn to look more in love than they’d ever be. No one wanted to see fake pictures.

“If you’re going, then you’ll have your full treatment of servants and the corps. I won’t have you making an ass of yourself.” His father slashed his hand through the air. “You’re not a child, no, but you’re not smart enough to be on your own. You can memorize lines and channel characters, but anyone can do that.”

He groaned. If I pack a small bag, I could take one of the sports cars and drive there, right? Nah. His parents probably had trackers on the cars. He nodded to hide his frustration. “I suppose you’re right.” He turned on his heel and headed up to his bedroom.

Wouldn’t his fellow actors laugh? He still lived with his parents in the house he’d bought for them when he’d made his first television show at age five. He couldn’t bring a lover home—male or female. What would he say? Mom, Dad? I need you to go so I can fuck this lovely person. Right.

Cain shoved his wallet, license, some money he’d squirreled away over the last year, two changes of clothes, an extra pair of shoes and the stuffed cat he’d had since he was a baby into a knapsack. If he was going to blow up his home life, he refused to leave the last vestige of his childhood in the hands of his parents. The stuffed cat might look like hell and have almost no fur left, but he gave Cain more comfort than anyone. He swept his gaze around his room. Even his bedroom had no personality. It could be the room of any celebrity—perfect decor, nothing to denote that he lived there and nothing out of place.

The churning in his stomach increased. If he didn’t get the fuck out of the house and away from his life for a while, he’d have a huge-ass ulcer. The stress of living a life he didn’t want had gotten to him. The doctor on the set of Victor’s Rules had urged him to get some rest. Why not do it now?

He deserved to live the life he wanted.

Cain hurried down the back steps clutching his bag. The valet from before stood by the doors leading to the garage.

“Sir?” He opened the door for Cain. “Going out?”

“To Aidyn’s.” Cain winked. “You know.”

“I used to.” The man smiled. “Shall I let your mother in on this?”

“Please do. I’ll be over there for a few days.” He winked again and elbowed the valet. “We don’t plan on coming up for air in that time.” God, he was laying it on thick.

“Yes, sir.” The valet dispatched a driver, then disappeared into the main portion of the house.

Cain slipped into the back seat of the limo and waited until the car moved. His heart hammered. He was doing it—leaving the nest. He’d lied, of course, but that didn’t matter. Fuck it. His hands shook and he held the bag tight. He’d never acted out before, never tried to be something he wasn’t or push anyone. He’d fallen right into line because it had been required of him.

The driver dropped him off at Aidyn’s hotel. Instead of expecting the car to wait on him, Cain waved him home. “Get some rest. God knows I won’t be.” He grinned. “I’ll call for you.”

The driver nodded once and left.

Cain ducked into the hotel. He’d never stayed at this particular building and hoped no one would recognize him without his Cain Ables celebrity persona in place. He was just Cain Ables, regular guy.

He headed through the lobby to the side entrance. An attendant smiled at him. “May I help you, sir?”

“I’d like a taxi to the airport.” Holy fuck. He was doing this. “Please?”

“Sure.” The attendant waved down one of the drivers. “May I help you with anything else?”

“No, thank you.” He shook hands with the man and settled into the back seat of the taxi. As the car sped toward the airport, Cain sighed. He’d really escaped. His parents would be thrilled when they found out he was at the hotel with a woman. He was being the bad-boy actor everyone expected.

Except he wasn’t bad and he wasn’t with a woman. Fear and doubt crept into his brain. Part of him wasn’t sure he could get away with his act of transgression. The rest of him couldn’t wait to get to Ohio and be a nobody.

Time to be myself.

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About the Author

Megan Slayer

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on Amazon.com.

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.

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Megan Slayer's Taking Chances in Cedarwood Giveaway

MEGAN SLAYER IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND YOUR FREE MEGAN SLAYER ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 29th June 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Jorah: The Brinnswick Chronicles IV by Michele Notaro


Author Michele Notaro and Vibrant Promotions drop by with the Jorah: The Brinnswick Chronicles IV blog tour! Find out more about the latest in the popular series and enter in the giveaway!

 

Jorah: The Brinnswick Chronicles IV

Michele Notaro

M/M Paranormal Romance

Release Date: 05.18.21

Cover designer: Soxsational Cover Art

Blurb

Will Jorah have a chance to fall in love with the person his soul is longing for, or will the horrors of the world keep them apart?

When I was fourteen, I was sucked through a portal to another realm—the land of the fae—and forced to live there for three years. Crazy, right? Welcome to my world. Being an Ellwood means being pulled into the craziest and most dangerous situations while trying to protect the people around you. But I wouldn’t change it for anything.

For years, every time I visit the land of the fae, something seems to pull me toward the north. Naturally, it’s the most dangerous place in all of Faela, so my family forbids me to travel there. But now I know something is wrong, and I find myself unable to ignore the call I feel deep down in my soul. The peaceful feeling I normally get from the north is gone, replaced with nothing but fear and sorrow. 

I know in my heart that the pull I’m feeling is from my viramore—my soulmate—and I’m afraid I might be too late to save him. If I do make it there in time, what kind of condition will I find him in? I can feel that he’s hurt, grieving, and simply waiting to fade away, and I’m too far to help. He’s in danger, I know he is, and I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep him safe from the evil creatures hunting him.

Jorah is a 107K word novel and the fourth book in The Brinnswick Chronicles. It can be read as a standalone novel, although it’s better to read the series in order to get a better feel for the characters and the larger story arc. This MM paranormal romance contains explicit material and is intended for mature adults 18 years old and older.

Universal Link: https://books2read.com/u/47NnEa

Excerpt

Jorah~

“Tell me.” He turned back to me. “Jorah of the Ellwood Coven, where is this pretty forest located? The Emerald Expanse, perhaps? It’s very green, although nothing is as green as those eyes of yours.” 

Warmth filtered into my chest at the compliment, and I swallowed, then hesitantly made my way closer to him. “This forest is in the human realm, not in Faela.” 

He barked out a laugh. “I suppose my imagination is pulling out all the stops to distract me.” 

“Distract you from what?” 

He frowned, his voice coming out as a whisper. “The pain.” 

A sharp pain pierced my heart. “I’m sorry, love. I’m trying to get to you as fast as I can.” The endearment slipped out, but it felt natural. 

A sad smile graced his lips as he sighed. “If only that were true, pretty witch. If only that were true.” 

“It is.” Trusting my gut, I moved closer to him and placed my hand on his forearm. 

The pretty man gasped and met my eyes, breathing out, “You feel real.” 

“I am real,” I insisted, trying not to focus too hard on how amazing his skin felt under my hand. “I’m real, and I’m on my way.” 

“But you live in the human realm,” he whispered, his voice shaky. 

“I do, but I have a home in Faela. My family and I are on a ship, sailing north from the Pink Isle, sailing to you.” 

His pretty blue eyes filled with tears, and he backed away, forcing my hand to release him. “It’s kind of cruel for my mind to wave a pretty boy making impossible promises right in front of me, isn’t it? Am I not suffering enough in life that I have to suffer in my dreams as well?” 

“But—” 

He cried out in pain, cutting me off, and I rushed forward, catching him before he could fall to the ground. A whimpering whine came out of his throat, and I expected him to push me away again, but instead, he curled into me. Without hesitation, I scooped him into my arms, sat on the ground, and held him in my lap as he began crying silently. 

After a few minutes, he whispered in a hoarse voice, “They’re hurting me… again.”

My eyes filled with tears as I rocked him and ran my hand over his hair, whispering, “Shh. I’ve got you, love. I’m here.” 

“It hurts. Everything hurts,” he murmured. 

That sharp pain pierced my heart again, and I hugged him to me, resting my cheek against his hair. “Do you… do you know what’s happening?” 

“They like the way my blood tastes.” 

Bile threatened to fill me as a long-lost memory, or the memory of an old vision filled my head. With a start, I realized that the man in my arms was the same one that had been caught in that net and forced to watch his younger brother die and get—nope, not going down that road. 

Instead, I said, “I’m sorry. I’m trying to get to you.” 

He whimpered again. 

“What can I do, love? How can I help?” 

He was quiet for a long time before he whispered, “Stay with me until I wake up.” He cleared his throat. “Even if you’re not real, I don’t feel so alone with you right here.” 

I pressed my lips to his hair, speaking against him. “I’ll stay as long as you want. You never have to be alone again.” 

A long, sad whine came out of him, sounding almost like a song rather than crying, although it was a heartbreaking sound. It made tears spring to my eyes as I continued rocking him and petting his hair. 

A long time passed with us like that. Me holding him, and him whimpering or singing his sad song or simply sitting in my arms, not saying anything at all. But eventually, I felt him being tugged from my arms, and a new kind of panic reached my chest. “No, don’t go.” 

“Don’t have a choice,” he said through clenched teeth. “They’re waking me.” 

“No, please.” Tears filled my eyes again. “You can’t go.” 

“Maybe I’ll see you again one day, Jorah of the Ellwood Coven.” 

The tears spilled over onto my cheeks. “You never told me your name.” 

A sad smile tugged his lips upward. “No, I didn’t, did I?” His face grew serious again before he placed his hand on my cheek. “Thank you for offering me comfort, Jorah of the Ellwood Coven. It was more than I expected to ever have again.” 

From one breath to the next, he was gone. Disappeared without a trace, right from my lap. 

A sob tore from my chest as I stood and turned, searching the forest for my poor, sweet viramore—because there was no doubt now that he was my soulmate—but he was nowhere to be found. 

“Hey!” I yelled. “Come back! Please! Please, come back! Where are you? Please, please, come back! Please. Pl—” 

“—ease!” I yelled as I woke, confused. Half-dreaming, half-awake. “Come back!” I yelled again before I realized I was once again on the ship in Faela and not in the forest at home. 

When I realized my sweet viramore—because he had to be my soulmate—was nowhere to be found, a sob tore from my chest, and I drew my knees up, wrapping my arms around them and burying my face there to cry.

Michele is married to an awesome guy that puts up with her and all the burnt dinners she makes—hey, sometimes characters are a bit distracting, and who doesn’t plot when they’re supposed to be cooking? They live together in Baltimore, Maryland with two little monsters, three-legged and four-legged fiends, and a little old man (aka their two sons, their two cats, and their senior dog). She hopes to rescue another cat soon, and if her hubby wouldn’t kill her, she’d get more than one… and maybe a few more dogs as well. 

She loves creating worlds filled with lots of love, chosen family, and of course, magic, but she also likes making the characters fight for that happy ending. She hopes to one day write all the stories in her head—even if there are too many to count!

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