Review: How to Run with the Wolves (Howl at the Moon #5) by Eli Easton

Zeus loves his job on the new Mad Creek Search & Rescue team, and his inner Saint Bernard is finally being used to his full potential. When he sees a mysterious and wild-looking quickened—a dog shifter—at an earthquake site in Alaska, Zeus is compelled to investigate. Zeus falls hard for the primal beauty of Timo and of Alaska itself. Both call to his deep canine soul. But the Quimmiq pack’s laws are as harsh as the Alaskan winters, and Timo is out of his reach.

Timo’s pack of dog shifters left their Inuit village generations ago and have lived wild ever since. Not trusting the “one-skinned,” and with their numbers dwindling, the Quimmiq are on the verge of extinction. Timo is shocked to discover a whole group of “two-skinned” working as a rescue team, and he is particularly fascinated by Zeus, a gentle giant. He senses what Zeus feels for him… but it’s forbidden.

Can Mad Creek save this lost quickened clan? Perhaps—if they can learn how to run with the wolves.


I love this series so much but this one holds a special place in my heart.

Why, you ask?


Zeus is the classic gentle giant which appeals on multiple levels for me but what pulled on my heartstrings was how displaced he feels. He wants more than anything to be useful, but he oftentimes doesn't really get people and their vernacular which feeds into his feelings of being "different".

The underdogs always get to me and Zeus got to me.

But Timo is totes adorbz in his own rite. His mindset is VASTLY different from Zeus'. He's part of a pack that's been isolated in the wilds of Alaska for generations.

He's so mischievous and playful not just in his dog form either. His vivaciousness is infectious and he makes it difficult not to fall for him.

What I liked best about their relationship was how blind they both are to the way it's evolving. They're both independent and self-reliant so watching them slowly realize that they want to spend more time with each other warmed the cockles of my heart.

This is a prototypical slow burn romance with minimal sexy times which was fine by me! To have rushed would have rang of inauthenticity and I probably wouldn't have enjoyed watching them fall in love as much I did.

The voices of all the dogs/shifters in this series have been fantastic but the uniqueness of Zeus and Timo's voices was phenomenal. Never did I question whose head I was in and they both had me smiling throughout this read. Of course, I loved touching base with some of the previous Mad Creek couples. Milo is still sixteen different kinds of adorable.

Clearly, I loved this book to pieces and if you want a read that will make you want to hug it out with your kindle then you should give it a try. I hope we've not seen the last of Mad Creek but my heartfelt thanks to Ms. Easton for all the smiles these puppers have put on my face if it is. However, I'm excited as all get out about the spinoff series! Recommended!

An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Guest Review: Single (Single Dads #1) by R.J. Scott

Reeling from the painful rejection of a man he thought he loved, Asher is left holding the baby.

Ash wants a family, and is determined to continue with a surrogacy he’d begun with his ex. Bringing baby Mia home, he vows that he will be the best father he can be. Nothing in this world matters more to him than caring for his daughter, not even accidentally falling in lust with the doctor next door. Challenged by his growing attraction to Sean, and confronted by painful memories of his family, Ash has to learn that love is all that matters.

When ER doctor Sean moves in with his friends next door to sexy single father Ash, he falls so quickly it takes his breath away. The sex they have is hot, but Ash is adamant his heart is too full with love for his daughter to let anyone else in. Why is Sean the only one who sees how scared Ash is, and how can he prove to his new lover that he desperately wants the three of them to become a family?

Reviewer: Shee Reader

The story opens with Asher as a slightly neurotic, very well prepared but exhausted and panicky single new dad. He has a drunk neighbour throwing up in his front yard and waking that baby. Little did he know that the charming firefighter was drinking to forget the people he’d lost that day at work, and since he’d only just moved there, got his house muddled up with his own home.
Now, being a complete romance junkie, I did assume this was going to be the “meet-cute” but I was wrong! Eric, the big fireman shares his house with a cop (Leo) and a doctor, Sean, our hero.

Sean is just what Ash needs, but will they ever be in the same room with Ash awake and the baby safely asleep? Of course, this is romancelandia so yes is the answer! I was completely charmed by Sean tiding Asher’s kitchen and bringing round lovely food in an attempt to seduce the lonely dad.

Thus we see a gorgeous and sexy tale unfold with Asher finding his feet, and a HEA with our dashing ER doc. There is a rolling side issue with Asher’s mom which made me scowl, and his twin sister who I liked. The online support group for single gay dad’s was a lovely touch, and I look forward to hearing more about the guys in the rest of the series. All I really need now is the happily ever after stories for both Eric and Leo, both with lonely single dads I wonder??

Highly recommended.

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

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Patron Of Mercy (Lords of the Underworld #3) by Sam Burns & W.M Fawkes

Authors Sam Burns and W.M. Fawkes, along with Signal Boost Promotions, visit to promote the latest, Patron Of Mercy (Lords of the Underworld #3)! Learn more about the urban fantasy and enter in the Patron of Mercy eBook giveaway today!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link - Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 70,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Lords of the Underworld Series

Prince of Death - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link

Prisoner Of Shadows - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Lach has spent the last few thousand years counting only on himself. What he needed, he took. What he wanted, he won with charm. All except a god he turned his back on an age ago, when he had a different name and didn’t know what he was giving up.

Thanatos, god of merciful death, is one of the gentlest gods in the pantheon—easing the transition between life and death for billions of mortals. But he has faced eternity alone. After breaking his heart on the sharp words of a fisherman’s son, he hasn’t been able to connect with anyone.

Now, Lach is crashing back into Thanatos’s life, dragging him into an adventure that could save the world . . . or kill them both.


Sam Burns wrote her first fantasy epic with her best friend when she was ten. Like almost any epic fiction written by a ten year old, it was awful. She likes to think she’s improved since then, if only because she has better handwriting now.

If she’s not writing, she’s almost certainly either reading or lost down a Wikipedia rabbit hole while pretending to research for a novel.

W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. With coauthor Sam Burns, she writes feisty Greek gods, men, and monsters in the Lords of the Underworld series. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.




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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Black Sky Morning (Mind + Machine #3) by Hanna Dare

Author Hanna Dare and Signal Boost Promotions promote the release of Black Sky Morning (Mind + Machine #3)! Learn more about the latest sci-fi romance and enter in the back list eBook giveaway!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link - Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Length: 74,000 words approx.

Mind + Machine Series

Book #1 - Machine Metal Magic - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 - The Wayward Prince - Amazon US | Amazon UK


A bounty hunter in over his head.

Xin knows how to look out for himself, and he knows when something sounds too good to be true. But a forgotten planet filled with riches is too tempting to pass up. Fortunately Xin also knows someone who can back him up - if he doesn't arrest Xin first.

A government agent who's lost hope.

Jonathan Gray used to believe in a better future. Now he's not so sure. Then Xin walks in, with his dark eyes and maddening smirk, and Jonathan feels like he's waking up for the first time in months. Well, parts of him at least. He knows Xin is trouble, but when trouble looks this good it's impossible to resist.

Two men. One dangerous planet. To survive they need to trust each other - too bad neither of them does trust.

A writer-for-hire for more than ten years, Hanna Dare now writes what she loves to read: well-written, character-driven stories of men exploring their identities and discovering their own unique kind of happily ever afters… usually through sexytimes.

Find Hanna on the internet enjoying pretty pictures, procrastination and caffeinated beverages!

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock #1) by C.F. White

Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock #1) is out from Pride Publishing! Author C.F. White and Signal Boost Promotions host today's release blitz to commemorate! Learn more about the first in a new series and enter in the giveaway to win your own Love & Tea Bags (Pink Rock #1) eBook copy!

Buy Links: Pride Publishing - To be released wide July 16

Cover Design: Erin Dameron-Hill

Length: 79,679 words

Publisher: Pride Publishing


Fate can be written in a tea bag too.

Mark Johnson is hitting his forties and is stuck in a rut.

He's had the same boring office job for ten years, with no motivation or inclination to change it. The same crumbling house for ten years, with no cash or know-how to fix it. And the same Facebook status for five years—it's complicated. It isn't. He's single. He just doesn't want to correct it. That would be admitting defeat.

The day a tea bag splats onto his face whilst he’s emptying the dregs of his morning cuppa at Macy's Tea Shoppe is the one that makes him question each of his current life choices…the tea bag and that the shop is currently being run by one rather friendly, rather hunky, but rather young Australian named Bradley Summers.

Tea has never tasted so good.


The slurp was loud and rather obnoxious, especially when the man was sipping from one of Mark’s grandmother’s dainty china tea cups that Mark saved for special occasions. Since Mark hadn’t had any need for the guest china in quite some time, he’d let Grammy’s cardinal rule slide for the strapping workman clambering up in his loft.

“Yup, I see the problem,” the workman yelled down the open hatch in Mark’s landing ceiling that led to the over-cluttered store of stuff that Mark hadn’t set foot in for…well, quite some time.

Mark wished he hadn’t offered the man a brew. He really hadn’t had the time to wait for the kettle to boil, for a start. But he’d been brought up well, and one must offer one’s tradesmen a cuppa in the hope they’ll knock a few quid off the call-out charge. He suspected he would have to delve deep into his already ravine-like pockets, so anything that could be considered mates-rates would really help at this point in his life. Mark wished he did have mates. Ones that were handy, anyway.

“Oh, yes?” Mark called back, his voice echoing through the square hole in his ceiling. He closed his eyes, for some reason, as if that would soften the blow of what was going to come out of the man’s mouth next.

“Gonna need coupla new roof tiles, mate. A lotta this stuff is gonna get ruined.”

“Bugger,” Mark muttered into his own mug of piping-hot tea. Well, it was rude not to join the man in a beverage.

“What was that?” The man’s round, if somewhat flushed, face appeared at the hole.

“Nothing, nothing.” Mark shook his head. He didn’t much fancy repeating himself. The man might take it seriously and give him a whack. Or, which would be much worse, not take the job of fixing Mark’s leaking roof. “Thank you.” He smiled.

Mark had been told, on occasion, that he had quite a nice smile. One that relaxed people. Mark, however, believed it to be far more useful to allow people to walk all over him. Or pass by him. Through him…

With a grunt, the workman set his steel-toe-capped boots on two metal rungs of the ladder, revealing the tip of his rounded behind popping out of the elastic waistband that appeared to be failing in its one basic function. Normally, on an average Saturday night, Mark wouldn’t have minded the view, as his internet history would evidence. But today was a Monday and the man didn’t look like he would appreciate Mark’s ogling. Not that Mark was ogling. He just had nowhere else to look. Honest.

On reaching the landing, the workman crashed back into Mark. Stumbling, Mark gripped his cup with both hands to prevent the utter travesty of spillage onto the carpet. Not only did he not have time to clear up any stains—not that any would show on the swirling patterns of the seventies-design stitch work—but he also hated to waste a cup of the good stuff.

The workman hefted up his jogging bottoms, his hands empty of the china tea cup he had been avidly slurping from up in the loft. And that meant Mark would now either have to venture up into the space he avoided like the seaside lido on a May bank holiday afternoon, or leave it up there to breed new life. He knew which he would rather.

“Right.” The man scratched his stubbled chin. “See, you’re gonna need a coupla new tiles. Tha’s what the leak is. The rain we been ’avin is comin’ in frou ta ’ole in ya roof. Travelling daan the walls and dripping aaat ya ceiling.”

“Good-oh.” Mark nodded, not letting on for a single second that he had no idea what the man had just said. “Uh, can you fix it?” He mentally crossed his fingers in the hope that he hadn’t just said that he could. Or couldn’t.

“Yeah, no sweat. I can do two tiles at a ton.”

“A what now?”

“A ton.”

“A ton of what? Tiles?

“No. A hundred smackers.”

Mark blanked, shaking his head.


“Oh, I see. Well, that’s not too bad then.” Mark smiled. And phewed. Mentally.

“But that won’t fix ya problem.”

“Oh dear.” Mark furrowed his brow, which he didn’t like to do all that often as the lines weren’t smoothing out after so much anymore.

“Dunno which bleedin’ cowboy did ya roof last, but they didn’t felt it.” The man tucked a tiny pencil behind his ear. Where he’d got the pencil from was Mark’s first question. Quickly followed by, do I really want to know?

“That cowboy would be my grandfather.” Mark attempted to add a hint of pride to his voice, but the vacant expression of the workman before him just made him slink into a guilty, wincing admission. “He built the house.”

“Ah. Right. ’Nover ’and-me-down was it?”

“Hand-me-down?” More deep-set wrinkles formed on Mark’s brow. He must remember to use that skincare range for men he’d got as a Secret Santa present at work last year, the one that claimed to defy even the deepest-set wrinkles. He had a hunch who’d been bold enough to buy that for him. Bloody Yvonne.

The man waved, indicating Mark’s attire. “The clothes.”

Mark held out his arms, still clutching his mug of tea, and peered down at himself. Trusty grey corduroy trousers, wonderful and comfy, and rather warm considering the current climate, matched with a white button-down shirt. The vest underneath was simply due to the fact that his dark nipples tended to show through the thin material of cheap cotton. He’d discovered that tidbit of information back at secondary school when the popular boys used to poke his nipples through his school shirt, many twisting for added effect. And people say all-boy grammar schools are a safe haven from bullying.

Mark ran a hand through his thick dark hair, sliding it across his forehead in a floppy fringe, ignoring the jibe at his attire and moving on to the pressing transaction at hand. “So you were saying about the roof?”

“Yeah. Gonna need ta replace it.” The man sniffed, his chest rising with the inhale of breath, then shrugged. “Set ya back ’bout five grand.”

The fact that Mark had chosen the man’s pause to take a sip of tea probably summed up his entire existence. It had been, of course, the wrong decision. He spat the tea out, liquid escaping from his nose, and coughed, gasping to get air, rather than the delightful Twinings English Breakfast, into his lungs.

The workman slapped him on the back. Perhaps he thought that would help the situation. It didn’t. It only exacerbated it, knocking Mark off his feet and forcing him to grapple for the banister to prevent a rather tragic tumble down the stairs.

“Better out than in, I say.” The workman did say.

Mark blanked. If only the boys at his delightful modern secondary grammar had believed in that statement back when Mark had been in year ten and announcing to the world he was gay. Not that any of his peers had had any doubt before Mark had made his fabulous speech. But Mark presumed they would have preferred him to stay in on that day, considering many had received detention for the words of “encouragement” they had called out in a perfect display of teenage camaraderie.

“Well, I can do the tiles tomorra,” the man carried on, oblivious to Mark’s inner turmoil. “Fink about the rest of da roof, though. You don’t want it cavin’ in on ya.”

Mark nodded, although, right then the thought of paying out five thousand pounds that he didn’t have made him consider the alternative option.

“Righty-oh. Thank you very much for coming out on such short notice.” Mark ushered him down the stairs.

“No probs. Give me card your granddad, then.” The man handed over a bent business card, a mobile phone number scrawled on the back with black pen along with the words The Man With The Van Who Can. Mark pondered if there was anything that he couldn’t? Or wouldn’t?

“That would be rather futile. Grampy died quite some time ago.”

“Oh.” The man squinted, stepping out into the daylight and onto Mark’s porch. “So you chose this?”

“Chose what?” Mark desperately tried not to furrow his brow.

The man waved his hand, indicating, Mark presumed, the entire house’s internal decor.

“I like antiques.” Could seventies decor be considered antique? He supposed it could.

“You get antique wallpaper these days then?”

Bastard. “Oh, indeed.” Mark nodded. “Worth a fortune.”

Mark slammed the door shut and rested his back against the wall, glancing around at the house he’d lived in coming along ten years now. It was falling apart and no redecoration had been done since probably the last time he’d been up in the loft. He sighed, slammed his mug down on the windowsill and decided now was the time for a decent cup of the good stuff.

Grabbing his black Barbour jacket from the coat hooks, he slipped his feet into the black loafers by the door then ventured out into the morning sun. And what a glorious day it was, perfect to be beside the seaside. And Mark was. He lived directly opposite the pebble beach of Marsby in the south east, a quaint little seaside town that homed more retirees than tourists. Not that Mark was retired. He could only wish for that, although he was leaning nearer to the end of his career than the start. Mid-career, perhaps? Christ, maybe I should think about actually having a career rather than simply a job that barely pays the bills?

Trying to forget that he had left a gaping hole in his roof—and now his ceiling having forgotten to shut the loft hatch—Mark rammed his hands into his jacket pockets and thanked whomever above for the abnormal radiant sun. And that was when the inevitable dark clouds glided overhead and droplets landed with splats on his cheeks. Such was Mark’s luck. So he trotted that bit faster along the pathway beside the beach and into the main High Street, stopping at the welcoming sign of Macy’s Ye Olde Style Tea Shoppe on the corner.

The bell above the door chimed as Mark hurried into his regular haunt. He’d been going there for quite a few years now, since his move back to his home town from the mean streets of London, and still hadn’t figured out why Macy added the extra p and e to the shop. He shook his hair out like a wet dog and nodded at the umbrellas Macy always offered to customers on such regular occurrences as torrential rain, a quick downpour, scattered showers and that really fine light rain that has one believing they aren’t getting wet until they get home and their clothes are sopping.

The shop was empty, which was rather odd. There was usually someone sipping on a decent cup of tea made from the loose leaves in a well-stewed pot. Macy made proper tea, using a strainer, and it tasted every bit of the aromatic leaves that it should. She was also a rather good baker and Mark was horrified that there were no buns, baps or any other derogatory term used for parts of the female anatomy displayed on the counter for Mark to scoff and instantly burn off the calories by breathing. He had a fast metabolism, which was both a dream and a curse.

As Mark slapped a hand down on the counter, he heard shuffling back in the kitchen area. Thank God Macy was there. He needed a chat. And a tea.

“Helloooo? Only me, love. Usual cuppa when you’re ready.”

Drumming his fingers on the counter, Mark swivelled a one-eighty. Vacant seats and no-one in the vicinity looking like they might want venture on in to grab a tea to go, which would be quite difficult as Macy only served tea in porcelain cups. And rightly so.

“So, Macy, love,” Mark called out over his shoulder, thinking it was best to fill her in now or he might not have time to divulge all the details of his eventful morning before he had to head into work. “I’ve decided I’m better off if I just kill myself now.”

He leaned forward over the counter, ensuring his voice would drift to the kitchen. “Turns out my roof might collapse on me anyway. And according to this rather annoyingly beefcaked member of the male species, the sight of whose perfectly rounded behind is now imprinted on me for many a future solo endeavour, and who graced me with a whole other English language making me feel every bit of my—cough—years, it’s going to cost me rather more than my arm and my leg. And I’m sadly going to have to admit it, Macy love, that I’m not sure the fellow would accept an offer of my penis as monetary value. Not that I have a wealth of offers for that part of my anatomy these days anyway. Much like the pound to the euro, I swear it’s shrinking in value.”

He chuckled at his own joke, as he so often did, then spun around to face the seating area. A couple of joggers zoomed past the window, obviously on their beachside run rather than the mad dash for cakes and biscuits that he did.

“You okay, Mace? Need a hand?”

No reply. So Mark leafed through the selection of pre-packed biscuits crammed in the bowl by the till. Macy had one of those old-fashioned registers. No electronic buttons to press. No new-fangled tablet hooked up to the mains. It was basically a calculator with a drawer.

Choosing a packet of chocolate-dipped Viennese shortbread fingers, Mark cocked his head to peer through the open kitchen door. “I mean, Macy, what is the point in filing paperwork for a living just to earn enough money to fix a roof when I have no man to enjoy the comforts of my damp-free living space along with me? And by the time I find a willing participant to snuggle with me on my antique sofa looking at my antique wallpaper in my antique house, I’ll be ready to pop my clogs anyway. So, death by sugar, please, Macy.”

He slapped the counter to finalise his self-depreciative monologue, and nearly threw up the entire contents of his breakfast when a male vacated the back kitchen. Said man was wiping his hands on a rather beautifully stitched gingham tea towel. But that wasn’t the only thing that was a delight for the eye. The man was shirtless—rippling muscles, a glowing sheen of glistening skin and white-wash jeans hanging low on his perfectly sculpted hips. Needless to say, that wasn’t Macy.

“Hello,” Mark said, because, it is the polite way to greet a man, regardless of the lack of shirt and the highly embarrassing fact that Mark had already told his life story, leaving out all, or indeed any, good bits.

“G’day,” the man replied.

About The Author

Brought up in a relatively small town in Hertfordshire, C F White managed to do what most other residents try to do and fail—leave.

Studying at a West London university, she realised there was a whole city out there waiting to be discovered, so, much like Dick Whittington before her, she never made it back home and still endlessly searches for the streets paved with gold, slowly coming to the realisation they’re mostly paved with chewing gum. And the odd bit of graffiti. And those little circles of yellow spray paint where the council point out the pot holes to someone who is supposedly meant to fix them instead of staring at them vacantly whilst holding a polystyrene cup of watered-down coffee.

She eventually moved West to East along that vast District Line and settled for pie and mash, cockles and winkles and a bit of Knees Up Mother Brown to live in the East End of London; securing a job and creating a life, a home and a family.

Having worked in Higher Education for most of her career, a life-altering experience brought pen back to paper after she’d written stories as a child but never had the confidence to show them to the world. Having embarked on this writing malarkey, C F White cannot stop. So strap in, it’s gonna be a bumpy ride...

You can follow C F on Facebook and Twitter and check out her Website.

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Guest Review: Prescription for Love (Road to Blissville #7) by Aimee Nicole Walker

What should’ve been an ordinary emergency call turned out to be something extraordinary.

Wanting to distance himself from his toxic parents, Trent Love moved to the quaint town of Blissville to begin a new life. What he finds is blazing chemistry with a hunky fireman who breathes new life into him.

Fearing they’re too different, Tucker attempts to extinguish the spark between them before it can ignite. How could a simple man like him compete with Trent’s life of wealth and privilege? Knowing you shouldn’t want something doesn’t make it go away, and Tucker’s desire for Trent continues to smolder.

Unwilling to accept their relationship is dead on arrival, Trent puts his resuscitation skills to good use. All he wants is a chance to prove he values Tucker’s wealth of character over meaningless material things. What do you get when you mix fire and oxygen: a five-alarm fire or a prescription for love?

Trent’s commitment to freeing himself from poisonous ties kindles a chain of events that have devastating consequences for both men. Is a relationship forged in fire strong enough to overcome these obstacles or is their love doomed to be just another bitter pill to swallow?

Prescription for Love is a small-town, opposites-attract romance. It is the seventh book in the Road to Blissville series but reads like a standalone book. It contains sexually explicit material intended for adults 18 and older.

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Trent and Tucker are perfect for each other, but Trent trying to impress Tuck on their first date, had the simple fireman running for the hills. Then Trent goes off to serve with Doctors Without Borders and that is that. Until he comes back and decides that he will do everything he can to get the happy ending he and Tucker deserve. Cue help from Tucker’s hilarious grandmother and the spark ignites. There are some lovely side characters and also some super villainous ones too, and adorable rescue cats. Once the guys get going, they are all kinds of sexy together, but the most adorable, heart warming smooches too.

This was a lovely book, and I really did enjoy it, but the beginning had me all kinds of confused. I felt like there was a chapter or two that I had accidentally skipped. There seemed to be plenty of missing bits until I got into it, and realised that there was only one or two previous meetings between our MC’s that get referenced, and it all became clear. So if you’re reading this book, keep at it! The ending is so adorable, I’ll be looking out the previous books in the series for sure.


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

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Waking Up the Sun by Laura Bailo

Celebrate the release of Waking Up the Sun with author Laura Bailo and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the fantasy romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Waking Up the Sun
Author: Laura Bailo
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: July 15, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 31400
Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, legends, entrapment, bullying, goddess, enchanted forest, young adult, healer, romance

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When Lander accepts a dare to go into
the forest at night, he thinks it’ll be easy. He just needs to walk in and then
come out, right? But that’s easier said than done. It’s like the trees have a
mind of their own, and they are stopping him from finding his way back. There
were always stories of people getting lost forever in the forest, but Lander
had never considered they might be true.

Yban has been in the forest a long time
and he knows it like no other—but he comes with his own secrets. He disappears
every day, and he won’t tell Lander where he goes. But during the dark hours,
Lander gets to know him and starts unwrapping the layers that surround him.

The fire that keeps them warm in the
forest isn’t the only spark between them; will their growing relationship
survive Lander’s determination to find the way out, or will Yban’s past
mistakes keep them hidden in the forest forever?


Waking Up the Sun
Laura Bailo © 2019
All Rights Reserved

“He won’t come.”

“He’ll be hiding under his bed, the

“Did you see his face when you dared
him? I’m sure he peed his pants just thinking about it.”

The men standing on the road—a few feet
away from where Lander stood—started laughing and clapping one another on the
back. He was sure they didn’t know he was there, not that it would have
mattered to them. He was familiar enough with the things they were saying about

Earlier that afternoon, they’d seen him
studying and started on their usual abuse. Lander could generally tune them out
easily enough, but he’d had an argument with his parents that morning and he’d
already been on edge. So when they’d told him he wouldn’t dare to go into the
forest alone, his stubborn streak had shown up, and he’d set out to prove them
wrong. Of course, then they’d changed their terms and dared him to go into the
forest at night.

Lander was determined to prove to them
he could do it. All his life, he had only wanted to fit in with the other kids,
but he had always been the outsider, the weird kid no one wanted to play with,
the one always left alone. He’d longed for company, for someone to share his
time with, and instead he’d encountered barbs and jabs directed his way just
because he was a bit different. In the end, being alone was safer, and he’d
grown used to it. But there was still a small part of him that wanted to belong
to a group, and it was that part that had risen to the bait when they’d made
their way towards him, so confident in their abuse that he couldn’t help but
take them up on it, even though he knew it would be a mistake.

He took a deep breath and stepped out of
the shadows, feeling a vindictive pleasure at seeing the surprise on their
faces. They truly hadn’t expected him to come.

“Well, well, well… Look who decided to
show up after all. Have you come to tell us to stop wasting our time and just
go home?” One of them sneered at Lander, and his resolve doubled.

Lander made sure to keep his head high
and not to let his voice tremble when he answered. “I’m here to go into the
forest. That’s what you wanted, isn’t it?”

They shared a few confused looks,
probably not knowing what to make of this version of Lander, the one who was
actually standing up to them. After a moment, the leader just shrugged and
started walking. He was used to his little band following him without question
and clearly expected Lander to do the same. Lander wanted to get this over
with, so this time he did what the leader wanted without complaint.

They walked like soldiers, the
blustering young men from before he’d made his appearance all but gone. Lander
guessed it was probably a habit they had picked up from their training—they’d
all shown an affinity for offensive magic and had started training with the
guards the year before. Lander had an affinity for healing magic, but his
talent was not important enough that any of the village healers wanted to take
him on as an apprentice, so he’d been studying and trying to learn everything
he could on his own. Not that he would ever be a doctor, but he wanted to help,
and healing magic could be useful in a lot of different ways people didn’t
often think about. He’d had many arguments with his parents about that very
topic, including the one that led to him following this group to the edge of
the forest.

He’d never been so close to this place.
He’d seen it, even studied it from afar, but he’d never stepped a foot into the
tree line. As far as he knew, no one in the village had. Ever since he was
little, he’d listened to people telling stories about the forest, stories
designed to scare little kids. And as he grew up, he could tell that the kids
weren’t the only ones afraid of the forest. Everyone feared the darkness. No
one dared go into it, not even during the day. He had always wondered why
because he didn’t think the stories about ghosts and the forest making people
disappear were true. But apparently he was about to find out if there was any
truth to them.

The four trainees were looking at him
with smug smiles, and he would have liked nothing better than to wipe them off
their faces. But he was not stupid enough to go against four men, especially
not trained ones. However, there was another way for him to stop them from
smiling; it just involved him going somewhere no one had ventured in ages, a
place he had been taught to fear since he was old enough to sleep in a bed
instead of a cot.

Lander refused to let them see his fear,
so he steeled himself and walked to the edge of the forest, looking in. He
could see only the trees, since the world between them was made of shadows.

“Step in and then come out, right?”

The four of them looked at him
expectantly, probably waiting for him to turn around and run back to the city.
There was no chance of that happening now.

As always, it was their leader who
spoke. “Yes. But not just stepping into the edge. You need to go far enough
that we don’t see you anymore. We’ll tell you when that is. And then you can
come back, and we’ll never call you a coward again.”

Lander nodded and approached the edge of
the tree line slowly. With a small step, he was inside the forest. He breathed
in the smell of the trees, the wildlife, and the darkness, getting overwhelmed
with so many new scents. He didn’t look back but, instead, kept walking until
the darkness surrounded him. There must have been noises in the forest, but his
heart was beating so hard that the only thing he could hear was the sound of it
drumming inside his chest. He looked back then, intending to ask if this was
far enough—he should have known they wouldn’t say anything—but the tree line
had disappeared.


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Meet the Author

Laura Bailo is an asexual Spanish author of queer romance. She’s an anxiety-ridden writer who, when not writing or reading, loves exploring the narrow streets of Pamplona and thinking about all the stories she wants to write in the future. She has a penchant for writing sweet stories with a Spanish flavor, be it fantasy or contemporary, and she’s still dreaming about writing her first historical.

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