Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Lion Lies Waiting by Glenn Quigley


Celebrate the historical release, The Lion Lies Waiting, with author Glenn Quigley and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more today and enter in the $10 NineStar Press giveaway!


Title: The Lion Lies Waiting
Author: Glenn Quigley
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 17, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 88600
Genre: Historical, Abduction, Addiction, Age-gap, Bears, Established Couple, Kidnapping, Mental illness, Over 40

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Synopsis

Winter, 1780, and the solstice is fast approaching. Four months after the events of The Moth and Moon, burly fisherman Robin Shipp is preparing for his first Midwinter festival with his lover, the handsome baker Edwin Farriner. But when a letter arrives begging for help, they must travel with their friend, Duncan, to Port Knot on sinister Blackrabbit Island for a final confrontation with Edwin’s mother. Also visiting the island are Lady Eva and her wife Iris, with a stunning proposition that could change Robin and Edwin’s lives forever.

The snow-covered harbour town of Port Knot is a dangerous place. While there, Robin, Edwin, and Duncan explore the menacing rooftop settlement known as the Roost, mingle with high society in the magnificent splendour of Chase Manor, and uncover a violent conspiracy threatening the island’s entire way of life.

Old rivalries will flare, shocking secrets will be revealed, and as Duncan’s scandalous past finally catches up with him, will it ultimately destroy them all?

The men will be tested to their limits as they discover that on Blackrabbit Island, the lion lies waiting.

Excerpt

On the tiny island of Merryapple, not far from the Cornish coast, almost every frost-kissed window was cheered with the light of a solstice lantern. Made of brass or copper or tin, each lantern was set with coloured glass, each one was polished and cared for, and each one was unique. Joyously lit were they with a red candle for the duration of the Midwinter celebrations, starting at the winter solstice and continuing through to New Year. Always red, that was the tradition. Red for blood. Red for life. Red for love. Every member of the household had their own lantern skilfully engraved with their name. When a person died, their candle was removed and cast into the sea—their light taken from the lives of their loved ones.

Robin Shipp never liked that part of the tradition. From the age of ten, his solstice lantern stood alone on his windowsill, his father’s candle swallowed by the waves, just as his father himself had been. Whenever the lantern’s tinted glass flooded the room with cheer, he tried to remember the good times with his father, tried not to think about being alone. And he managed it, for the most part. Robin was fifty years old and the past summer had seen a great many changes in his life. He’d discovered who his mother really was, cleared his father’s name, won the acceptance of the village, and started a relationship with a man he cared deeply for. It was December, 1780, and Robin was set for a Midwinter celebration to remember.

The little fishing village of Blashy Cove was shrouded in a chilly haze and the people were trying to remember how to walk on icy, cobbled roads. The previous night had seen the first proper snowfall of the season and the whole village was powdered, from hilltop to harbour, with the low, slate sky holding the promise of more to come. A mist clung tightly to the quiet sea.

In the ancient tavern named the Moth & Moon, Robin used the sleeve of his chunky, woollen jumper to rub frost away from one of the dozens of little panes of glass which formed a spacious bay window. He was a colossal man—tallest in the village—and wide to boot, with a jolly face and thick limbs made hard from a lifetime of oyster dredging in the bay. His solid, round belly rose when he laughed, and he laughed readily. His cap, with its unusual anchor pendant sewed to the band, sat askew, revealing a little of the single tuft of white hair which sprang from his otherwise bald head.

He peered out through the thick glass and across to the newly built and bustling market hall in the harbour. Just a roof held up by heavy wooden poles, but it helped keep the rain off. It was market day, and the traders hadn’t let the snow and ice put them off. Stalls selling fish sat next to ones loaded with goods from the island’s only farm. Others sold all manner of clothing and trinkets from the mainland and beyond. Under the cover of their new roof, the traders stamped their feet and hugged themselves to stay warm, their laughter and singing turning to fog in the frosty air. The smell of the morning catch mixed with that of the hot spiced brews they drank to keep their spirits up. It was the last market day for the duration of Midwinter and so the villagers were stocking up on the essentials.

“Never mind the sightseeing” came a voice from behind Robin. “Get those beads up or we’ll never get finished before nightfall.”

Mr. George Reed—the bearded innkeeper—was directing his staff and volunteers with a series of points and barks.

“Right you are!” Robin called back.

With meaty fingers, he tied one end of a long string of colourful but mismatched glass beads to an errant nail above the window frame. As he reached up to secure the other end, he tugged too hard and the string snapped, casting beads across the floor and seats. They ran under chairs and behind booths. A cerulean bead ran over the uneven wooden floorboards and came to rest at the foot of George Reed, who stood with his hands on his hips, shaking his head. Robin tipped his cap back and looked sheepish.

“Ah, sorry, George,” he said.

“No, it’s my fault, I should have known better,” George said with a laugh, “but you’re the only one tall enough to reach without a ladder. Why don’t you go and help move those tables?”

Robin slapped George on the shoulder as he lumbered towards the bar where some men had grabbed each end of a bench and were clearing a space. With a great heave, he single-handedly picked up a heavy oak table and swung it about, almost knocking over one of the other helpers. With a mighty thump, he set it down by the far wall, knocking over several tankards of beer in the process. He lifted a cloth and began moping it up as best he could, but he was just making it worse, spreading the foamy liquid out ever further. The bar steward he almost knocked over took his own cloth and pushed the much taller Robin out the way, with a polite-but-firm: “Yes, thank you, Mr. Shipp.”

“Is this your idea of helping?”

Duncan Hunger stood at the door of the inn with a tall object covered with a blanket and resting in a cart.

“It is, as it ’appens!” Robin replied.

Duncan was a very short, very stocky man in his late thirties. He had a full head of thick, black, wavy hair, with sideburns down to his jaw and he wore a pair of spectacles of his own design. Small, gold-rimmed and circular, they had an extra array of little lenses on movable armatures. They were an enormous help in his work as toymaker.

“Give me a hand with this,” Duncan said.

Robin grabbed one side of the object’s base and Duncan took the other.

“’Eavier than it looks,” he said.

“Aren’t we all?” Duncan said.

Together, they lifted it out of the cart and manoeuvred it to the space the staff had cleared.

“Careful, careful,” Duncan said as he slid the object into place.

Robin pulled his hands away too quickly and the item hit the wooden floor with a heavy, jangly thump, as if someone had dropped a box of cutlery.

“What part of ‘careful’ did you find the most confusing?” Duncan asked.

Robin stood bolt upright, clenching his fists and biting his pale lower lip as Duncan glanced under the cloth to satisfy himself nothing had been damaged. Relieved, Robin went to lift the material at his side, but Duncan quickly slapped his hand away.

“No peeking! You’ll spoil the surprise.”

“This is the Midwinter centrepiece you’ve been workin’ on all these weeks? What is it?”

“I told you, it’s a surprise.”

“Yes, but what—”

“You’ll see at Midwinter’s Eve!”

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Meet the Author

Glenn Quigley is a graphic designer originally from Dublin and now living in Lisburn, Northern Ireland. He creates bear designs for www.themoodybear.com. He has been interested in writing since he was a child, as essay writing was the one and only thing he was ever any good at in school. When not writing or designing, he enjoys photography and has recently taken up watercolour painting.

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Warmest Wishes Advent 2018: Week 3

It's Week 3 of the Warmest Wishes Advent Stories! This week we're featuring stories from Anna Kaling, Cy Blanca, L.E. Franks, S.A. Stovall and Helena Stone!

ICYMI: Week 1 | Week 2

Tulsi Vivah by Anna Kaling

The festival of Tulsi Vivah ushers in the Hindu wedding season and tears away the love of Kristopher’s life. Three years of passion and tenderness are reduced to a shameful skeleton in the closet as Arjuna submits to the marriage his parents have arranged for him. His family has never even heard Kristopher’s name.

The festival, a ritualistic wedding between the holy basil plant, Tulsi, and her eternal lover, Vishnu, is as much of a play-act as Arjuna’s upcoming nuptials, but he believes the wedding will honor his parents and please Vishnu. So why is his Tulsi plant—whose leaves heal and bless the devout, who is Vishnu's representative on earth—dying? Arjuna tends to her with all the care of a concerned parent, but it might take more than his devotion to save her. She might need Kris, with his clever green-fingers—and maybe a revived Tulsi can heal two hearts.

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

I was immediately sucked into Tulsi Vivah and learned quite a bit about a religion and culture I know very little about. I would actually love to read this story as a full novel as there is a lot of nuance and balance I would love to explore with Arjuna and Kris. I spent the first half of the story irritated with Arjuna, even though I understood, it didn’t make me happy and I wanted more for Kris. And for Arjuna. There were a multitude of dynamics to explore and I would like more time reading through all of them. I mostly wanted a little more balance between happy Arjuna and Kris and the struggle they went through in the span of a short story.


Guess Who's Coming to Karamu by Cy Blanca

Grant Cary, a twenty-eight-year-old grad student, has let his Kwanzaa shopping go to the very last minute. In his rush to get home, he quite literally bumps into Will Sheritan, a fortysomething software developer, in the elevator. But luck favors (or curses) the adventurous, because their elevator shuts down due to a blackout. Grant and Will learn about each other’s pasts and find more than just a casual interest.

Will has never celebrated Kwanzaa, and he’s reluctant to enter into a relationship, but exploring a new tradition—with a new friend—might brighten his lonely holiday. And if Will accepts Grant’s invitation to join his family for the Karamu feast, Grant might get his Imani gift early.


Ann - 3 Hearts

The meet-cute set up in Guess Who’s Coming to Karamu was short story gold. I loved the beginning and the babbling stream of consciousness courtesy of Grant was fun to read. I was really looking forward to reading a story celebrating Kwanzaa and I wanted to learn from Grant. The thread got a bit lost and muddled as Grant and Will started conversing/flirting though. It didn’t flow as organically as I was expecting given the beginning and Grant’s personality. It felt like a real gamut of emotions were run in the brief time the two were trapped, more extreme than what I would think for two strangers, even if they were attracted to one another, so the ending felt abrupt rather than nuanced into a hopeful HFN.


Death to Christmas Sweaters by L.E. Franks

Chess and Benjamin are casual lovers, each hiding his devotion to the other and his wish for more. But Chess is a wealthy playboy who—Benjamin believes—will never settle down. And Chess is sure, with the way Benjamin keeps him at arm’s length, that he can’t be interested in getting serious.

They’re destined for a head-on collision as Chess plans for a holiday escape designed to send Benjamin’s ardor spiking like the temperatures in Los Angeles, while Benjamin desperately drags his feet, wanting to cool things down to protect his vulnerable heart. But when the ghosts of Chess’s Christmas past and Benjamin’s unwelcome present converge at LAX, it’s obvious there are other forces at play and about to take over.

R *A Reader Obsessed - 3 Hearts

If you like friends to lovers stories, then I don’t think many will find too much fault. As per the blurb, both Chess and Benjamin have been casually (but exclusively) hooking up with each other for months - both wanting more but both convinced the other doesn’t.

What this excels at is the descriptive writing in regards to the guys’ thoughts and what they admire and what they feel and what they do. *wink*

What this doesn’t succeed so well at is the choppy flow, nor the multitude of events and issues going on at the same time Chess and Benjamin are trying to work out their feelings.

Not the best in execution but still really feel good (please see above again why this excels) with a happy ending only the holidays can give a nudge to!

Ann - 3.5 Hearts

BFF’s with Benefits who finally figure it out is one of my favorite tropes and when it happens around the holidays it basically wraps my trope up with a big pretty bow. The family drama went in a different direction than I expected and I ended up really loving Chess’ family and it was a sweet twist that added a lot to the story and to my appreciation of Chess overall. I really felt for Benjamin and everything he kept bottled up and what that did to him and his ability to accept the happiness that was right in front of him. Chess seemed to be pretty open about his feelings, so the lack of communication was a little odd. It was one of those things that made sense if you didn’t think about it, but as soon as you do, you’re like “but whyyyyyy?”. It ends on a really hopeful note though and made me quite happy for both Chess and Benjamin.

Drawn into their respective family dramas at a joint gathering, will Chess and Benjamin finally take a stand for each other and the relationship they both want, or will the holiday finally take its toll?


The Night Sky Festival by S.A. Stovall

Photographer Zach is happy to pack up his gear and head to the Mojave Desert over the holidays. Ever since his ex-husband filed for divorce a day before Christmas, it’s safe to say this isn’t Zach’s favorite time of year.

Fortunately, he stumbles upon a town where the residents seem to agree. The good people of Baker would much rather celebrate the possibility of extraterrestrials as they dance under the stars in their unique “Night Sky Festival.” The locals are interesting, to say the least, and they want Zach to join them.

But is Zach ready to let go of his holiday bitterness? And if so, whose invitation should he accept: the cute cashier, the burly single dad, or the sexy fun-loving cop?

Ann - 2.5 Hearts

Zach the photographer is a pretty grumpy and unfriendly dude and the three gay men that he meets while in Baker on assignment weren’t fully fleshed out enough to be able to feel much for any of them beyond, “he seems nice”. It was pretty convenient when Zach chose his Night Sky partner he could shoo the other two off onto each other, which is a very romcom thing to assume that the only two (that we’re introduced to anyway) other gay men in town will be in to each other. There was no level of HFN or HEA achieved but I don’t think that was the point in Night Sky Festival. The four did seem to find some level of happiness for the evening at least and I suppose that’s a good thing.


Too Hot for Santa by Helena Stone

Jonah Walsh’s fledgling acting career in Dublin comes to an abrupt end when a video of him in a compromising position goes viral on social media. The offer of a part in a Christmas play in Sydney, Australia arrives at exactly the right time, although he isn’t sure about celebrating Christmas in the scorching heat. Nick Claseman isn’t happy that the actor he and his sister have hired will be occupying his granny flat. As for Jonah’s enthusiasm for Christmas, Nick doesn’t get it. He hasn’t decorated or celebrated in years.

When Jonah turns out to be anything but a stuck-up starlet with delusions of grandeur, and Nick proves he’s not usually grumpy and borderline hostile, the two men gravitate toward each other. Their attraction morphs into something more when Jonah reacquaints Nick with the pleasures of Christmas and Nick shows Jonah the beauty of Australia. But Jonah is only Down Under for a few months. It would take a Christmas miracle for them to have a future together.

Ann - 4 Hearts

Too Hot for Santa was a treat, and then some, to read. Nick does not come off well in the beginning and I was apprehensive of his unwarranted grinchy attitude, but it didn’t take long for him to redeem himself and become a character I wanted more of. Jonah is such a likable and genuine character you can’t help but like the guy and want all good things for him. I think what I appreciated most was that neither of them were perfect, they both had good intentions and they communicated well. They read like real and relatable people, so it was easy to connect with them. All of this added up to a story that flowed well and the relationship between Nick and Jonah moved along with no manufactured angst or miscommunication, a perfect formula for a short story. I’ll be happy to read this one again next holiday season.




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



Blog Tour + Giveaway: Worst Holiday Ever by Various Authors


Looking for a holiday anthology that feature #ownvoices and characters that fall under different spectrums? Look no further, the authors of Worst Holiday Ever and Other Worlds Ink drop by today on a blog tour! Nine stories from authors Kilby Blades, R.L. Merrill, Marie Booth, Adrienne Bell, Eva Moore, Kari Lemor, Meg Bellamy, Preslaysa Williams and Erin St. Charles for you to enjoy!

Plus R.L. Merrill not only drops by with a ficlet and excerpt from their contribution, The Thanksgiving Parade From Hell. But they also host a $25 gift card giveaway!

Worst Holiday Ever


There's a new holiday romance anthology out: Worst Holiday Ever.


It’s the most wonderful time of the year! OK—scratch that. It’s time for another obligatory family gathering. And nothing spices up the egg nog like bringing your partner home. Surely your belligerent brother-in law, your gimlet-eyed granny and your drunken uncle will keep it classy. With forced proximity and alcoholic beverages, what could possibly go wrong?


  • Decked Out by Eva Moore

  • A Perfect Fit by Adrienne Bell

  • Crazy Old Money by Kilby Blades

  • Stealing Christmas by Kari Lemor

  • Touched by Fate by Preslaysa Williams

  • Ringing in the Reefer by Marie Booth

  • The Thanksgiving Parade From Hell by R.L. Merrill

  • Thankful in Perdition by Erin St. Charles

  • Feliz Chanukah! by Meg Bellamy








This anthology is for readers who love any or all of the following: m/m, #ownvoices, plus-sized heroes, interracial/multicultural families, paranormal romance, contemporary romance, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Chanukah!


Warning: It is best to leave this one to the mature audiences. Note: Many of the stories in this anthology are not queer.


Amazon | Smashwords | QueeRomance Ink




Giveaway


R.L. Merrill is giving away a $25 Amazon gift card OR a $25 Dreamspinner Press gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:


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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4744/?





Author Visit

Author R.L. Merrill not only hosts today amazing giveaway, Merrill also delivers a ficlet based on their anthology contribution,  The Thanksgiving Parade From Hell! Check it out!



Ficlet: When Dalton met Orrie
Labor Day Weekend – 2017

“Mr. Bishop! He’s about to take the stage!”
Dalton Bishop had been looking forward to this moment ever since he’d opened his subscription box from Third Man Records three months ago to find Orrie Jones’s debut album. The face on the cover drew him in, but the voice…Oh, this man’s voice. Rough, emotional, soulful, it felt as though Orrie was singing just for him. Dalton was in the beginning stages of planning his company’s End of Summer Bash to celebrate a phenomenal quarter and he’d had the brilliant idea that they should contact Orrie Jones’s management and hire him to perform. Now, the voice that had filled Dalton’s spare moments with impure thoughts was going to be performing for his company’s picnic. Pretty insane.
Dalton waited in the wings opposite where Orrie would enter the amphitheater stage at California’s Great America amusement park and waited, his palms sweating just thinking about seeing the guy in person after all the nights he’d dreamed about him. Orrie didn’t need to know about that, though. Dalton didn’t want him to think this was all a big stalker’s plan to get him alone…Shit.
            It was time for him to go speak to his employees and he was freaking out. Not unusual, but he needed to get it together. He took a deep breath and trotted out onto the stage. He received thunderous applause from the five hundred or so employees and family members he’d bought out the park for today. Little kids jumped and cheered with barbeque sauce on their faces. A bunch of guys from engineering were shirtless with painted chests and were currently chugging beers. The mild-mannered IT folks were gathered in front of the stage with giant smiles on their faces, and Dalton couldn’t help but be grateful he could provide this day of entertainment to his employees. They’d voted in the inter-office poll for a day at the park with live performances and he’d wanted to deliver.
            “What’s up, Bishop Tech?!”
            Everyone cheered and there were some screams. His CFO led a chant of “Bi-shop Bi-Shop Bi-shop” and Dalton shushed them.
            “Thank you to everyone for coming out today to celebrate our phenomenal summer! In can’t even begin to tell you how proud I am for our little company to be sitting pretty on the top Silicon Valley companies lists and that our stock is now at a record high! You’ve all worked so hard, and I hope you know how much I appreciate your hard work.”
            More clapping and more shouting.
            “Now, friends, it is my great honor to introduce you to the incredibly talented Orrie Jones!”
            The crowd went wild once more as Dalton held out a hand to call their attention to the gorgeous man taking the stage. Instead of saying hello to his special guest, Dalton hurried over to the wings again and found the best vantage point to watch his set.
           
***

“Thank you, everyone,” Orrie said slowly into the microphone, a blush creeping up onto his cheeks when the shouts grew louder.  He’d played hundreds of clubs in his career before graduating to larger venues on his tour with Jack White, but there was something about a small crowd of rabid music fans. Or in this case, a bunch of tech company employees blowing off steam. He was on a brief break from the tour when his manager let him know that he’d booked him this gig, a request from the CEO himself, who was apparently a big fan. He’d thought he might meet Dalton Bishop before he took the stage, but his personal assistant was the one to pick him and his accompanying musicians up at the airport, get them checked into the hotel, and bring them here an hour before showtime. His introduction was the first time he’d even gotten a look at the CEO of Bishop Tech, and he was still reeling.
            The guy was adorable. Unbelievably cute. Orrie didn’t often find hipsters attractive, but Dalton Bishop, in his tight, salmon-colored, pressed khakis and Toms with no socks had Orrie intrigued. Dalton wore a fitted plaid shirt, neatly rolled up at the elbows with a company t-shirt thrown on over it…the guy was geek chic and Orrie chuckled at his enthusiasm on stage. But that ginger hair… again, not something Orrie usually found drool-worthy, but on this guy? Orrie was going to meet him face-to-face when his set was over, that was for sure.
            He launched into his set, his guitar growling to life for his first song, Breathless, and the entire crowd began jumping around and dancing. He thought to himself that they must have provided some good alcohol for everyone to be this loose before starting in with the lyrics, but even the kids were dancing along.
            He caught movement out of the corner of his eye and saw that Dalton Bishop was watching the set from the wings, a huge smile on his face. Something in that smile made Orrie want to give the performance of his life. He threw his all into his covers of “The Lemon Song” by Led Zeppelin, “Hang You From The Heavens” by The Dead Weather, and The Doors classic  “Hello, I Love You,” and with every song, Dalton seemed to be enjoying himself even more.
            Orrie ended his set with his radio smash hit, “Be Your Man,” and the crowd went insane. His cheeks hurt from smiling as he belted out lyrics about finding that special someone who could get past all of his defenses and make him beg for more. It was definitely one of the spicier tunes on the album and he’d been shocked it was chosen as the first single, but it turned out to be a helluva way to make a first impression with indie rock fans.
            The set was over and Orrie thanked the crowd and Bishop Tech for having him, especially their CEO. Dalton joined him onstage and as he was approached by the sexy af genius, still grinning ear to ear as though had some wicked secret. Orrie was amazed by how innocent and naughty the guy looked all at the same time.
            “Let’s hear it for Orrie Jones!”
            Dalton held out his hand to shake and the moment Orrie took it, he knew something momentous had just happened. Sometimes a person is brought into your life for a purpose, and though that purpose might not make itself known for a bit—in this case it took three days—you just know. And it wasn’t like that feeling of dread you get when someone is bound to end up breaking your heart like Orrie’d had with his ex. No. This feeling was buoyant, light, and full of promise. He shook Dalton’s hand and held on for a second longer than he probably should have before Dalton blushed, turned to wave at the crowd and said, “Enjoy the rest of the food and booze. The shuttle to the hotel leaves in forty-five minutes or you can grab an Uber home on Bishop Tech. You guys are what makes our company special and I’m looking forward to the next year of increased innovation!”
            Everyone cheered, Dalton gestured to him once more for a bow, and then Dalton wrapped an arm around his shoulder and led him offstage.
            “Is it wrong if I hoped you might accompany me back to the hotel?” He stopped walking. “Not for anything nefarious, I swear. Oh God, that sounded wrong. I just thought we could—“
            “You are so adorable,” Orrie said. “Relax. I’d have been offended if you didn’t offer. I want to know why you chose me to play your show.”
            Dalton smiled shyly. “I’m going to need another drink before I make that confession.”
            “Then take me to the hotel bar and let’s have ourselves a conversation.”





Excerpt


BANNER - Worst Holiday Ever

 
From "The Thanksgiving Parade from Hell," by R.L. Merrill

“You hardly ate anything.” Dalton rubbed Orrie’s back. He’d suggested the donuts because he knew Orrie would be too stressed out to eat.

“I don’t know why she insists on serving quiche at these things. Who the hell eats quiche, anyway?” Orrie picked at the spot on his finger.

Dalton shook his head. “Only old people. And hipsters.”

Orrie laughed humorlessly and leaned back in the seat. “You don’t have to do the boxes this weekend. I can do it tomorrow before I leave.”

“Forget it,” Dalton said as he started the car. “I get you to myself tomorrow until I take you to the airport, and I’m not losing a single minute of time with you.” He leaned over and kissed Orrie sweetly. “It’s been a long six weeks, baby.”

“Too long. I missed you.” Orrie closed his eyes and Dalton took that as a good sign. He hoped that meant Orrie would be able to relax at their next stop. Because he sure the hell wouldn’t.

Ahhhh, Casa de Bishop. The eternal bachelor pad. The house where Bishop men went to lick their wounds and drink. A lot. And today being Thanksgiving and the holy day of the pigskin, Dalton had prepared his defense. He just had to get past this next two hours, and then he and Orrie would move on to…his mom’s. Okay, make that the next four hours.

He pulled the car out of the pretentious neighborhood where Orrie’s grandmother lived and drove down the hill to the more blue-collar area of Castro Valley. It was a funny town in that way. You had these newer, expensive developments up in the hills and canyons, but a lot of old neighborhoods from the forties and fifties that remained affordable for the low- to middle-income folks in the East Bay.

Peter Bishop, Dalton’s father, lived in such a home, one he’d inherited from his parents. The boys had grown up there, and currently, Dalton’s brothers Terrence and Stanley lived there with him. Both had broken up with their significant others in the past year and now, with their divorced father, they lived the life of swingin’ singles. Dalton just hoped the house was in better shape than it had been the last time he was here.

“Hey, doll,” Orrie said, reaching for his leg. “I know how much you worry about them. You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. If you want to go…”

And that was just one of the many reasons Dalton loved this man more than anything. He looked over and Orrie was smiling at him in that way that made Dalton feel like any second he was going to be a weeping mess on the floor, but in a good way. Not in the way he’d grown up experiencing.

“I want to see them. I do. We’re supposed to be thankful on Thanksgiving, right?”

Orrie nodded, frowning. “You are the most thankful person I’ve ever known. You see the positive in everything. Sometimes to your own detriment.”

Dalton barked out a laugh and his eyes burned. He was tired of fretting over a situation that was never going to change.

Orrie got out of the car and walked around to Dalton’s door, which he promptly opened, pulling Dalton in for an embrace that felt more supportive than seductive, and yet it had both effects. Dalton may have been the one to pursue Orrie, but Orrie had seduced Dalton with his compassion as much as his passion, with his love as much as his loving.

“If you promise not to take any shit from your brothers, I’ll promise not to cause any bodily injury.”

Dalton snorted and dropped his forehead onto Orrie’s shoulder. “You know they’re going to give me shit, and I know you’re going to give it right back. Just don’t hit anyone this time. You don’t have that luxury, you know? You can’t afford any injuries.” He thought about Orrie picking at his finger and hoped it wouldn’t get worse as the day wore on.

Orrie sighed and kissed Dalton’s head. “I’m insured,” he said against Dalton’s hair. “If I happen to have an injury, they’ll find some other poor schmuck to play guitar for me. Shouldn’t be too hard. Any adolescent boy could play—”

“Stop it right there. You’re as full of shit as a Thanksgiving turkey.” Dalton put a finger against Orrie’s lips.

“I’m serious, baby. Please.”

Orrie laughed. “We have an audience. Should we give them a show?”

Orrie just loved to be demonstrative in front of Dalton’s brothers. They couldn’t contain their disgust, not so much because Dalton was gay, but because the thought of their oldest sibling being sexually active with anyone made them want to hurl. Since Dalton had been more of a father to Terrence and Stanley than dear old Dad, they tended to treat him that way.

“I’d say we should give them a show, but honestly, that’s not playing fair. If I want them to behave, I can’t exactly go sinking to their level.”

“So I shouldn’t fondle you right here?” Orrie slid his hand down Dalton’s chest.

Dalton winced and sucked in a breath.

“Did I hurt you? I’m sorry.”

Dalton pressed his lips together firmly and pulled back from Orrie. “I’m fine. Really.” Was that my voice coming out sounding like a little girl’s?

Before Orrie could interrogate him, which would really ruin the surprise Dalton had worked so hard to make happen, Peter Bishop slammed open the front door.

“Hurry up, you two, before Terry burns the damn turkey!”

Dalton stared wide-eyed at Orrie. “Did he just say turkey?”

Orrie nodded, his brow furrowed once more. “Are your brother’s actually cooking?”

“Come on, you two. I gotta get in the backyard.”

The screen door slammed shut and Dalton jumped at the sound.

“Have your phone ready to call the fire department,” he said to Orrie as he sprinted up the walk. Dear God, don’t let those idiots burn the place down.




Author Bio

Eva Moore: As a young woman, Eva Moore loved nothing more than to dive into the pages of a book. She even met her husband while reading a romance novel. When the second baby came along though, she found she had little time for diving into anything but laundry. Missing her stories desperately, she began to make up her own. The stories she played with while she washed dishes and changed diapers demanded space on the page, and she was hooked. Winning Cherry Adair's Finish The Damn Book Contest has propelled her career into high gear. Eva now lives in Silicon Valley, after moving around the world and back, with her college sweetheart, her three gorgeous girls, and a Shih Tzu who thinks he is a cat. She can be found most nights hiding in her closet-office, scribbling away, and loves to hear from the outside world.
http://www.4evamoore.com.


Kilby Blades: Kilby Blades is a fresh new voice in smart contemporary romantic fiction. A business executive by day, by night she writes dynamic characters into (and out of) tantalizingly complex predicaments. Critics laud her "feminist romance", noting empowered heroines and multi-dimensional heroes who are staunch advocates for their partners, stepping back from their own spotlights in order to let their women shine. From dry wit in her angstier books to blatant humor in her lighter ones, her characters are resplendent in their witty repartee. All her stories, regardless of genre, serve up delicious dilemmas and never-before-seen plots. When she's not writing, Kilby goes to movie matinees alone, where she eats Chocolate Pocky and buttered popcorn and usually smuggles in not-a-little-bit of red wine. Kilby is a mother, a social-justice fighter, and above all else, a glutton for a good story.
https://www.facebook.com/kilbybladesauthor/


Erin St. Charles: Erin grew up watching Star Trek and reading Barbara Cartland novels (don't hate), wishing she could create something that brings her love of science fiction together with her love of romance. Still a romantic nerd at heart, she writes sensual, diverse stories that blend fantasy, adventure, and love.
https://www.twitter.com/erinwritesbwwm
https://www.facebook.com/erinstcharles/


Kari Lemor: Kari Lemor grew up as one of those kids who read all night under the covers. Once she had her first glimpse of a romance novel at age 12, it was all over. Romance was in her blood. It would be many years before the stories that ran rampant in her head finally drove her to put words to paper, though. She wrote self-indulgently for the first few years and only recently began penning stories to share with others. She still writes stories that are self-indulgent but hopes others might get some enjoyment from them too. Now that her children are all grown and have moved out, she uses her spare time to create stories of love and happily ever after romances where heroes ride to the rescue of damsels who have already saved themselves. She lives with her husband in a small town in New England dreaming of warmer weather. But only if it's near the ocean.
https://www.facebook.com/Karilemorauthor/


Adrienne Bell: Adrienne Bell is the author of over a dozen action-packed romances including the bestselling contemporary Second Service series and the new Exiles of the Realm paranormal series. She loves nothing more than writing quirky heroines with a knack for finding trouble and the hardheaded heroes who help them fight their way out of it. Adrienne lives with her husband and sons on the far edge of the San Francisco Bay Area where she spends her downtime reading, binge-watching nerdy television, and scrolling through Disneyland fan websites.
https://www.facebook.com/AdrienneBellAuthor/


Meg Bellamy: Along with her husband, her family and her books, language is Meg's passion. In fact, by day she's a mild-mannered language teacher. Currently, she teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) to international students, but in her early teaching days, her main subject was French. Though her French is a bit rusty these days, she figures a trip to France would help fix that. She's also studied Russian, Spanish and Italian. This love of language spills over into her writing craft and appreciation for books -- and travel! Meg also has to travel to see other family members in New Jersey -- a mere continent away from Meg's home in Northern California. Being a published member of the community of writers with her contemporary romances and women's fiction is the fulfillment of one of Meg's most cherished dreams. Her first release, Homecoming, was released October 19 -- a week before her birthday -- from The Wild Rose Press.
https://www.amazon.com/Meg-Bellamy/e/B00655VO1S


Marie Booth: Marie's a Northern California girl with a love of all things artsy fartsy - as her brother says. A theatre and fantasy geek, she writes sexy paranormal romance and has a hot contemporary series releasing this year. You can contact Marie here:
http://www.mariebooth.com
https://www.facebook.com/marieboothbooks
https://www.twitter.com/marieboothbooks


R.L. Merrill: Once upon a time... A teacher, tattoo collector, mom, and rock 'n' roll kinda gal opened up a doc and started purging her demons. Several self-published books and a debut from Dreamspinner Press later, with more tucked away in her evil lair, R.L. Merrill is still striving to find that perfect balance between real-life and happily ever after. You can find her lurking on social media where she loves connecting with readers, being a mom-taxi to two brilliant and busy kids, in the tattoo chair trying desperately to get that back piece finished, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more Rock 'n' Romance.
http:/www.rlmerrillauthor.com


Preslaysa Williams: Preslaysa Williams is an award-winning author and actress. She writes contemporary romance and women's fiction with an Afro-Filipina twist. Preslaysa has a Bachelor's degree from Columbia University and is currently earning her MFA in Fiction from Seton Hill University. Connect with Preslaysa online at her website (www.preslaysa.com) or on any of these social media platforms:
https://www.facebook.com/preslaysa
https://www.twitter.com/preslaysawrites
https://www.instagram.com/preslaysa


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Audiobook Review: Love You So Madly (Love You So #2) by Tara Lain

Ben Shane has it all...and he'd like to give some of it back. While he loves his job heading a foundation that funds worthy causes around the world, his engagement to one of America's wealthiest men leaves him feeling more like a trophy wife than a valued partner. The first warning that his relationship might not be designed to last is his irresistible lust for Dusty Kincaid, the golden-haired, bright-eyed handyman for his company.

Though Dusty is odd for a 23-year-old - no liquor, no sugar, and he can't even drive - the more Ben gets to know Dusty, the more he admires him. But is Ben going to give up a guy who drives a Ferrari for one who takes the bus?

He must be mad. Dusty knows he and Ben can never work. After all, Ben's perfect...and Dusty isn't. But Ben might surprise everyone with proof that he's only mad in love.

Listening Length: 4 hours and 36 minutes
Narrator: Ry Forest


Reviewer: Shee Reader


Ah this story was so great it made me smile for days! Ben is a charming guy engaged to a guy who doesn’t really seem to ‘get’ him. Ben loves his home that is mid remodel, but Alan wants him to sell it as soon as he can and live in his over-styled penthouse apartment. It’s almost like Alan doesn’t know who Ben really is, and anyway, what is Ben doing being engaged to a wonderful man and boggling the handyman at work. Clearly there isn’t a match made in heaven, but Ben and Dusty clearly are meant to be!

This is a lovely sweet tale that explores a few big issues and manages to resolve the relationship conflict without anyone doing anything terrible! It is low on angst and high on charm, with supporting families, outrageous philanthropists and a sweet as can be happily ever after. We also get to check in with the lovely couple from the first book in the Love You So series, which is great.

It’s a quick-quick-wish listen which is superbly narrated by Ry Forrest who brings all the characters sparkling to life.

Highly recommended.

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



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Operation Toy Rescue by Sarah Hadley Brook


Help author Sarah Hadley Brook and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the JMS Books holiday release, Operation Toy Rescue! Learn more about the romance and enter in the back list giveaway!




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books

Length: 29,000 words approx.

Publisher: JMS Books

Blurb

When Jules Evergreen lands in trouble at the North Pole and gets shipped off to Snow Hope Island for ninety days, he never expects to take up the cause of the forgotten toys waiting for new homes. Falling for his new boss is not on the agenda either, but his heart has other ideas.


Felix Winterson has grown up on Snow Hope Island and now runs the place. He isn’t thrilled when party boy Jules arrives, and Felix tries hard to ignore the man’s charms. He has other problems, anyway. For years he’s tried to get Santa to look at the growing inventory of damaged toys in the warehouse, to no avail.


When Jules comes up with a plan to save the toys, the men find themselves working closely together. As Christmas Eve looms, there’s a lot at stake. Can they save Snow Hope, convince Santa to rescue the toys, and fall in love all at the same time?


Excerpt

He was surprised that no one else was in the building yet. Unless they were upstairs in the loft, or locked away in an office. He thought he’d seen Eve’s coat hanging from a peg up front.


Jules opened the laptop and logged in, ready to get started. He really wanted to take that trip to the warehouse with Felix and the quicker he finished logging things in, the quicker that could happen. As he carefully opened a rather large box, he heard a door open and turned to see Felix, Eve, and Zuzu hurry out of Felix’s office. All wore a look of panic and his heart jumped.


“What’s wrong?” he asked as Eve grew closer.


“The Big Guy is coming for a visit three days before Christmas! We just found out. He never does this. Never, Jules.” Her voice rose as she spilled the news.


Jules glanced at Felix and caught his eye, holding it for a moment. “Isn’t Santa coming a good thing?” he asked, confused.


“We don’t know. He never does this. Never,” Eve reiterated.


“She’s right. He doesn’t. What if he wants to make major changes? Or move us to the North Pole?” Felix asked.


Jules crinkled his brow. In his mind, moving to the North Pole would be great. Felix would be closer to Jules. “You don’t want to live at the North Pole?”


All three of them looked at him in shock, their mouths gaping open.


“What?” he asked.


“The North Pole is headquarters. It’s chaos,” Zuzu explained.


Okay, I’ll give them that. But there were good things, too.


“But you’d be closer to ...” he flicked his gaze to Felix and felt his cheeks heat up. “The main operation,” he finished lamely.


“But we like it here. Our island is beautiful and we’re like a family. What if we’re torn apart?”


“I don’t think Santa --”


“You don’t know, Jules,” Eve broke in. “Maybe he thinks we don’t do enough to help these toys.”


Felix was vigorously nodding his agreement, so Jules shut his mouth and sat down in front of his laptop, considering the possibilities. He finally glanced back up, his lips curving up into a small smile as he eyed all three. “Then I guess there’s only one thing to do, guys. We need to show Santa how important the island is to children all over the globe.”


“How do we do that?” Eve asked quietly, her brow furrowed.


“By developing a kick ass plan to get these ‘inadequate toys’ into the hands of kids,” he explained, using air quotes. It was really just expanding what he and Felix had talked about last night. But calling it a plan made it feel more real. More promising.


Again, they gaped at him. Well, all but Felix. He was grinning. Happiness filled Jules’s chest and his heart raced as he grinned back, warmth spreading through him. Their gazes held and Jules felt like Felix was peering inside of him. Like he was seeing the real Jules. Not the guy that always screwed up. Not the guy that only thought of himself. But the one that finally -- finally -- wanted to do something worthy. Something that would bring others joy.


“Jules is right. We need to work together to show Santa we can handle the responsibility of taking care of the toys on this island. To prepare them for new homes. To convince him to take them with him on Christmas Eve.” Felix straightened his shoulders as determination flitted across his face and hope flashed in his eyes.


Jules couldn’t look away. The man was beautiful in every way.


Author Bio


Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the nonprofit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go. When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have costarred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity. She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.



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Guest Review: The Journalist and the Dancer by Liam Livings

Christopher, a quiet, reserved, British journalist, reviews restaurants and night clubs in Ibiza. After a painful breakup and nervous breakdown in the UK, he aims to live a more spiritual possession-free life on the Mediterranean island.

Lucas flees an abusive ex in Madrid to live his dream of dancing in Ibiza’s large prestigious night clubs.

They meet at a night club and both feel an instant attraction which soon develops into an emotional connection neither of them feels ready for.

Sharing their painful pasts with each other brings them closer together, though neither of them planned on being in a proper relationship. But when a family crisis pulls Lucas back to Madrid and a painful encounter with his abusive ex, Christopher deals with painful experiences of his own.



Reviewer: Shee Reader

I was drawn into the story from the outset. This was such an interesting premise for a book. The journalist has burnt out of his previously stressful and money-fuelled lifestyle and given up his life in London to eek out a living as a journalist reviewing nightclubs and such like in the party island of Ibiza. This was how he spots the intriguing Lucas who is trying to make it a nightclub dancer. Their eyes really do meet over a crowded room. It is the most perfect romance novel cliche! However, these are real men, each battling their own inner demons, and the circumstances of life that threaten to keep them apart.

The storytelling is quirky and realistic, clever and entertaining, but at times seems to lose momentum. There was a patch I had to keep myself reading before we got back on track and I read all the way to the end with no dawdling!

I rather liked both main characters, but was extremely charmed by Christopher’s unusual roommate! The ups and downs for the guys were rolling rather than jarring and the ending was sweet. I could easily see a sequel coming to life!

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