Audiobook Review: Family Man by Heidi Cullinan & Marie Sexton

Sometimes family chooses you.

At 40, Vincent "Vinnie" Fierro is still afraid to admit he might be gay - even to himself. It'll be a problem for his big, fat Italian family. Still, after three failed marriages, it's getting harder to ignore what he really wants.

Vinnie attempts some self-exploration in Chicago's Boystown bars, far from anyone who knows him. Naturally, he runs smack into someone from the neighborhood.

Between working two jobs, going to school, taking care of his grandmother, and dealing with his mother's ongoing substance abuse, Trey Giles has little time for fun, let alone dating someone who swears he's straight. Yet after one night of dancing cheek-to-cheek, Trey agrees to let Vinnie court him and see if he truly belongs on this side of the fence - though Trey intends to keep his virginity intact.

It seems like a solid plan, but nothing is simple when family is involved. When Vinnie's family finds out about their relationship, the situation is sticky enough, but when Trey's mother goes critical, Vinnie and Trey must decide whose happiness is most important - their families' or their own.

Narrated by: Colin Darcy
Listening Length: 7 hours and 40 minutes


Sooooo much to like!

This book has been in my TBR mountain since forever so I pounced when it came up in audio. Before I go into my thoughts on the book, let me just say that Colin Darcy did a wonderful job narrating. His Vinnie put a smile on my face repeatedly. My experience with Italian Americans is limited to The Sopranos so I've no clue if it's spot on or too much but I LOVED it. His Trey melted my heart. It was the sweetest voice! I don't know what he did to his voice for Trey but the timbre or whatever melted my butter. So, I will be actively looking for other books narrated by him in the future.

There are few tropes I like more than the age difference one and Family Man put the additional twist on of both men being virgins too! Well, Vinnie's only a virgin in same sex relations, but regardless I really liked this twist because it sort of leveled the playing field between them.

Vinnie having struck out in the marriage department three times decides maybe it's time to try to explore those attractions he's sublimated since college. Trey makes him feel things he's never felt before, things that are confusing and wonderful simultaneously.

What I liked so much about Vinnie was his authenticity. He's from a big, loud, very close knit family and they're important to him; he doesn't want to lose them. He also is falling hard for Trey and doesn't want to shortchange him either. The gamut of emotions he runs all felt very genuine, heartfelt and without artifice. He says what he thinks and does what he says he's going to. He also embraces his desires even though he fears being emasculated by them.

Trey is from the opposite end of the family spectrum. He's had to be self-reliant his whole life because his mother is an alcoholic. He has his gram but they are struggling to make ends meet and they are proud people. I could talk ad nauseam about Trey's childhood and how that probably relates to him still being a virgin who's waiting for The One at 25, but I won't. Suffice to say, he and Vinnie have much to learn from each other.

Family Man is a slow burn with oodles of UST and not a whole lot of sex, but their connection to and desire for one another is on display through both of their perspectives. However I would've liked more focus on their relationship development. There were so many things that occurred off page. Were this a movie a montage would've likely sufficed to show them spending more and more time together but as it stands it's just time jumps of them still being together and offhand references to past events.

I appreciated how the differentiation in their families was illustrated. Vinnie's family takes over.; if you're "family", you're family and they're in your life whereas Trey has had to live with disappointment. As someone with alcoholics in her family I felt for Trey, identified with his anger and respected his wariness. However, I think the focus shifted away from Vinnie and Trey to Trey's dysfunctional relationship with his mother towards the end. Unfortunately, the romance never regained traction and that overshadowing of the romance left me wanting. The ending felt rushed and left me wondering what about gram? what about Trey's mother? are the Fierro's just going to babysit her forever?

Unquestionably the ending is sweet and affecting but it also felt a wee bit disingenuous and I wasn't there yet. I needed Vinnie and Trey to have more time together. Another couple of chapters with them together, being fully immersed in each other's lives and getting acclimated to being out with Vinnie's family would've gone a long way.

Nevertheless, it's still a worthwhile read especially with regard to coming of age no matter your age and embracing who you are even if that person bucks traditional stereotypes.



A review copy was provided by the publisher.



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Blaze (Unbreakable Bonds #5) by Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott


Ready for an intense follow up in the Unbreakable Bonds series? Celebrate the release of Blaze with authors Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the romantic thriller today and enter int he $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!


Title:  Blaze
Series: Unbreakable Bonds #5
Author: Jocelynn Drake & Rinda Elliott
Publisher: Drake and Elliott Publishing LLC
Release Date: June 22, 2018
Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 75,000
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis

The rings have been selected.
The champagne placed on ice.
The cake decorated.

And the pre-wedding sex is off the charts...

Lucas Vallois and Andrei Hadeon are finally ready to walk down the aisle. There’s just one small problem.

A ghost from Lucas’s past shows up days before the wedding, desperate for help. Against his better judgement, Lucas and his best friend, Ashton Frost, plan a fast trip back to the one place they swore they’d never go: their hometown in Oklahoma. But the danger is worse than they expected.

Now, they’re in a race to track down a killer, keep a young girl safe, and get Lucas back in time to say, “I do.”

Excerpt

He reached the bathroom as Andrei was drying off with a large, navy blue towel. His head jerked up in surprise, those beautiful dark eyes skimming over Lucas’s face, instantly reading his mood. He dropped the towel and came forward, closing the distance between them. Large hands cupped both of Lucas’s cheeks. The anger he’d been holding on to was immediately stripped away to reveal the underlying pain that he’d buried deep. He didn’t question how Andrei knew or what he saw. The man just knew him, and he would be forever grateful that Andrei was in his life.

“What did Snow say? What can I do?” Andrei murmured. He leaned in and brushed his lips gently across Lucas’s.

Tension eased from Lucas’s shoulders. He deepened the kiss for a moment, tasting Andrei, letting himself get lost in his fiancé’s unconditional love. He broke off the kiss before it could stretch. Snow didn’t give hollow threats. He would come upstairs and drag Lucas out of the shower if he took too long.

“My sister is here.”

Andrei lurched back from Lucas, releasing his face. “Your actual sister? Like a blood relative?”

“Yeah.” Lucas stepped around him and turned the knob for the shower. Since Andrei had just exited the shower, the water was already hot. He stepped inside under the spray and grabbed the soap. Cool air brushed against his backside. Lucas looked over his shoulder to find Andrei holding the door partially open, so he could talk to him without needing to shout.

“I wasn’t sure if any of your family was living. You…you never talk about them.”

“My younger brother died a few years ago, but the rest are all alive and still in Oklahoma as far as I know. I don’t talk to them, and until now, they’ve never tried to talk to me.”

“Do you want me to leave?”

“No, definitely not.” Lucas turned, rinsing off the soap. He grabbed the shampoo and paused as he watched Andrei. “Do you want to meet her?”

A small smile played on his lips, and Lucas had the feeling Andrei was weighing his answer before he finally spoke. “You’ve met my family.”

“I love your parents.”

Andrei rolled his eyes. “My parents are insane.”

Lucas chuckled. Sonja and Milos Hadeon were definitely unique, but he wouldn’t change a damn thing about them. He was proud to have them as his in-laws, even if they both liked to flirt with Snow. “True, but they love me.”

“You don’t think your sister is going to love me?”

“I don’t give a shit if my sister doesn’t love you. She doesn’t deserve to know you. My family doesn’t deserve to know someone as amazing as you.” He squeezed a dollop of shampoo into his palm and roughly scrubbed his hair into a lather.

To his surprise, Andrei stepped back into the shower. Raising his hands, he threaded his fingers through Lucas’s soapy ones, capturing his hands so that they were now slowly massaging his scalp. “Meeting your family isn’t going to change us. I’m here. You’re mine. We’re getting married in less than two weeks.” He punctuated each sentence with a sweet kiss, teasing away the anger that had risen once again.

“Thank you.”

“Finish up. I’ll be waiting for you.”

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Unbreakable Bonds Series


Meet the Author

 
Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.

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Giveaway + Release Blitz: Commanding Officer Thomas by J.M. Snyder


Celebrate the release of Commanding Officer Thomas with author J.M. Snyder and Signal Boost Promotions! Learn more about this sexy, sci-fi short story, read and excerpt and enter in the giveaway for a backlist ebook below! Good luck!




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books

Length: 14,204 words

Publisher: JMS Books

Blurb

Lieutenant Lee Mallory spends his time off duty playing video games. There isn't much else to do while stationed on the USS Nova out in deep space.

Unfortunately, a run in with his commanding officer, Jonan Thomas, strips him -- and everyone else onboard -- of their gaming privileges.

Thomas has had it in for Lee from day one, when they got off on the wrong foot. Now, banned from using the game server in the rec room, Lee sneaks online in his quarters after hours, looking to play.

That's where he meets a fellow gamer onboard who's interested in a different kind of game. As much as Lee wants to hook up, though, he can't afford to get into any more trouble.

Can Lee take command -- in the game and in the bedroom -- without further aggravating his CO?



Excerpt

Lee kept an eye on her as she benched the weight, but most of his attention was diverted to the sexy guy now doing side planks. Lee toyed with the idea of approaching him, but how would that look? Hey, I saw you exercising. You’re kinda hot. Any way he played it out in his head, he knew it sounded like nothing more than a bad pickup line.

The guy jumped up from the plank and ran in place, feet a blur, knees pumping double time. Then he started doing lunges, alternating legs and turning a quarter turn with each set.

As he turned, Lee admired the way his little gym shorts pulled taut across his pert ass. When he added arm crunches to his routine, the muscles in his arms stood out, veins cabling in relief.

Lee watched, entranced. He liked this one -- so energetic. What would that energy be like in bed? His dick stirred at the sight of the guy’s buttocks flexing beneath the thin fabric. He imagined them both naked together, in his quarters, that round ass clenched tight and waiting beneath him. He could almost feel that pliant flesh in his hands as he massaged those ass cheeks, kneaded them, then pushed them together to ease his cock between them. He could almost see the dark tip of his dick peek out between the juicy twin mounds as he humped them once, twice, God. Just thinking about it made him hard.

Below him, Brenna made an exasperated sound. “Dude, you’re tenting. Chill.”

Lee shifted his legs to hide his budding erection. Budding? Hell, a few minutes more and he’d get off on his fantasy alone.

The barbell clanked back into the rack and Brenna sat up. Then she grabbed her towel off the bench and wiped the sweat off her face. With a sigh, she said, “Look, I know when I’m being ignored.”

“I’m not ignoring you!” Lee jiggled the barbell. “Come on, you need to get in your reps. I’m sorry --”

“It’s fine,” she assured him. “I’m done. Go talk to him already, will you?”

Sudden fear lurched in Lee’s chest. “What? I can’t. I don’t know him.”

“But you want to,” Brenna said. “So go over there and introduce yourself.”

“No!”

Across the gym, the guy they were discussing stopped exercising abruptly, as if he’d heard them. He raised his left leg, then reached back with his right hand to grab his foot and pull it back into a slow stretch. After a moment, he switched legs. Then he twisted at the waist, and he caught Lee staring.

Lee felt his face flush. God.

“He knows you now,” Brenna said. “Go on, man up.”

Before Lee could gather up his courage, the guy grabbed a nearby towel to wipe down and headed their way.

“Go on,” Brenna hissed.

The pressure was on. Lee’s palms grew slick, his cheeks burned. This was it, his moment, go for it. But what should he say? “Hey baby,” was a bit too blunt, but “Sup” sounded too informal. The guy was coming closer, he was almost close enough to speak to, damn.

Suddenly Lee’s mind locked up, and his mouth moved on its own. His tongue curved over his teeth, his bottom lip curled, and he let out a randy whistle.

The guy froze and stared at them. His eyes were dark -- blue? black? Lee wasn’t sure, but they flashed under heavy brows knit together in confusion or anger, one of the two. Not exactly the reaction Lee had hoped for.

“Was that directed at me?” the guy asked.

His voice was level, calm. Maybe Lee was misreading the situation. Still, just to be safe, he gave a one-shouldered shrug and made a noncommittal noise he hoped could be read as either yes or no, depending on how it was interpreted.

The guy looked unimpressed. “What’s your name, mister?”

Maybe he was interested, after all. Lee tamped down the flicker of hope in his chest. “Lee. Lee Mallory with the 58th. This is --”

“Lieutenant Mallory.”

The blasé way he drew out Lee’s name set off all kinds of warning bells. “How’d you know my rank?”

Rubbing the towel over his close-cropped hair, the guy sounded casually disinterested as he replied, “You’re right. We haven’t been formally introduced. But I’ve heard all about you, Lieutenant.”

Beside him, Brenna groaned. “Oh no.”

Lee still didn’t get it. “What do you mean?”

“He’s our new CO,” Brenna moaned.

Now he smiled, a cold, hard slash across his face. “It’s Thomas. And you’ll address me as Commander or sir, is that understood?”

“Sir! Yes, sir!” Lee snapped to attention, as if that might help dig him out of trouble.

It didn’t. “So I’ll ask you again,” Thomas drawled. “Was that whistle directed at me?”

Lee didn’t know how to answer, what to say. What could he say? “Um ...”




Author Bio

J.M. Snyder is a multi-published author of gay erotic romance who started writing fanfic (specifically, boyband slash). She has worked with several different e-publishers, including Amber Allure Press and Torquere Press, and has short stories published in anthologies by Alyson Books, Cleis Press, eXcessica, and Lethe Press. In 2010, she started JMS Books LLC to promote and publish her own work as well as that of other authors she enjoys.

For more information, please visit jmsnyder.net.



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Guest Review: The Eager Boy (Iron Eagle Gym #6) by Sean Michael

Eight months ago Robin Secoya left his lover and master, Stack Lobond, because he didn’t believe Stack really cared about him. He was sure that for Stack, any warm body would do, and Robin wasn’t willing to be just a warm body anymore.

A chance meeting at the Iron Eagle Gym brings them back together, and old feelings aren’t far from the surface. They decide they can’t pass up a second chance at romance. But this time, it isn’t just Stack’s demanding career as a big-cat vet putting strain on their relationship. Robin also has a new job that takes up a lot of his time.

Will their kinky love affair crash and burn a second time, or can they find the balance that will allow the passion between them to flourish?



Reviewer: Shee Reader

This isn’t a classic start to a romance novel. The couple are broken up, but if you’ve read Sean Michael, you’ll know the risk of serious angst is low, the chance of a HEA is certain and the chance of kinky sex is pretty darned high too!

In Sean Michael world, the guys are beautiful, sometimes have amazing jobs (Stack is a vet for big cats at the zoo) and not always very flawed. In this book, the guys had both made mistakes in their relationship. The process of recovering from their break-up is where we meet Stack and Robin. Stack had been the master and Robin the sub, but it wasn’t a perfect situation. Robin left and Stack didn’t stop him. When they literally bump into each other after six months, the feelings are right there below the surface, and we start the story of Robin explaining to Stack what wasn’t working for him, and Stack starts the process of trying harder to give Robin what he wants and needs.

It’s always nice in a series to get glimpses of previous characters in the new story, and this is no exception.

I really enjoyed the book as the men wanted and missed each other, but had both made mistakes, and needed to accept responsibility for those mistakes the first time around, and work together to get their relationship back to being better than it was before. I loved the idea that the whole book was them working on their issues and trying to be the best men they could for the other. It was brilliant. If you like your MC’s to work together and communicate, this may well be the book for you.

Highly recommended!



Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Necromancer's Reckoning (The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #3) by SJ Himes


Celebrate the release of The Necromancer's Reckoning (The Beacon Hill Sorcerer #3) with author S.J. Himes and Vibrant Promotions! Learn more about the paranormal series today and enter in the giveaway for a chance to win a Kindle Fire HD 8"!

The Necromancers Reckoning Tour Banner
THE NECROMANCER’S RECKONING
THE BEACON HILL SORCERER, BOOK 3
S.J. HIMES
GAY URBAN FANTASY ROMANCE
RELEASE DATE: 05.27.18
Necromancers Reckoning
COVER DESIGN: Kellie Dennis of Book Cover by Design
BLURB
Every action has consequences.
For a decade, Angel Salvatore has been the most powerful sorcerer and only necromancer in all the Northeast. Never one to ask permission nor apologies, he has acted with near impunity for years.
Until now.
The High Council of Sorcery has come to Boston, and Angel is their target. Charged with numerous violations of practitioner laws, his freedom and family are placed in jeopardy.
If found guilty, Angel's apprentice Daniel will be imprisoned to serve out the remaining years of his apprenticeship. Isaac, his brother, is too vulnerable to be left unguarded, and Angel fears for his sanity and health. And Simeon, Elder vampire and Angel's mate refuses to see Angel convicted under the laws of the Council and his actions to keep Angel free threaten to start a war that could destroy their world. And Angel faces the severest of punishments—the castration of his gifts.
The Council has never cared for the people of Boston, and Angel doubts their motives. They have come for some insidious reason, and it has nothing to do with upholding the law and everything to do with Angel.
Dealing with an impending trial, a wayward ghost, and a grave robbing ring of thieves leaves Angel on the edge. He thinks he may have a handle on things until violence erupts across the city, and a stranger comes to town...a stranger with his own dark powers of necromancy.
This is book 3 of a series, and the previous books should be read first for full enjoyment. Trigger Warnings are on the Copyright Page and can be seen using the Look Inside feature or by downloading a sample of this book.
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reckoning 4

EXCERPT
“What do you mean, I got a letter?” Angel held his smartphone between his ear and shoulder, fumbling with the keys to his office. It was still dark, and he huffed with impatience, blinking a small orb of hellfire into existence over his hands so he could find the right key. Inserting it into the lock, he opened the door and dismissed the orb, flicking the light switch by the door.

“It was delivered by courier about ten minutes ago,” Daniel replied, his apprentice talking past food. “I had to sign for it. The courier almost didn’t leave it with me until I told him I was your apprentice.”

Angel grumbled to himself, tossing his keys on his desk and grabbing his phone, rubbing the back of his neck. He left his apartment not even ten minutes before, which was only a couple blocks away, so the courier must have shown up right as he was leaving. He frowned, thinking back to the pre-dawn street, and he didn’t recall seeing anyone—not even a car or taxi.

“Well, go ahead and open it,” Angel said, tapping his phone to put it on speaker. Daniel made a happy sound past whatever he was chewing, and Angel snorted out a laugh. He booted up his laptop, looking for the appointment he had that morning at the ass-crack of dawn. Why in the world he thought it would be a good idea to have a private consultation so damn early on a Monday was beyond him. Which was why he decided on waking up everyone he lived with so he could share the misery. Though it was only Daniel since Isaac was at Nevermore and Simeon was at the Tower.

A sharp yelp and swearing came out from the speakers, and Angel laughed. “Papercut?”

“No! It shocked me!” Daniel gasped out, cussing under his breath. “I can’t open it!”

“What do you mean you can’t open it? Just rip it open.”

“I’m trying! Ouch!” Daniel yelped again, and the sounds coming from over the phone were parts hilarious and alarming. “I’m not risking my fingers. You can open it.”

“Who is it from? It might be warded if a courier brought it.”

“Now you tell me,” Daniel muttered, and Angel grinned as he found the appointment time. Daniel was finding his courage and picking up sass lessons from Isaac. His shy apprentice was learning all about sarcasm in the Salvatore household. His appointment was in about five minutes. No time to run back home and get the letter that was singeing his apprentice’s fingers. Daniel recited the address on the letter, “It says, ‘To Angelus Raine Salvatore, Necromancer of Beacon Hill, Boston, Massachusetts. From’…Oh, wow.”

“Who’s it from?”

“The High Council of Sorcery, Bucharest, Romania.”

Angel stood up straight, hands falling away from his laptop. He stared at the phone, the quiet in his office somehow loud, heart pounding in his ears. He looked up at the door as if any second one of the Council enforcers would blast through the doorway, ready to take him into custody for crimes sundry against international sorcery laws. He breathed in, breath shaky, and flexed his fingers. He reached out with his mind, cautiously testing the wards around his office, and there was nothing.

“Angel? Angel!” Daniel squawked over the phone, and Angel snapped free of the tension that held him frozen and snatched up the phone.

“Daniel, my appointment is any minute. Can you bring the letter here? Just hang out in the main room until I’m done if we’ve started when you get here. Wake up Eroch and have him come with you.”

“Um, okay…wake up the fire-breathing lizard, he says.”

“Just pick him up and carry him with you if he doesn’t wake up. He was sleeping on my pillow when I left. Don’t walk over here alone. I’d say hold on to it until I get home, but I have a feeling I need to read that letter as soon as possible.”

“Okay. Can I take a shower first?”

“You better,” Angel chuckled and hung up. Twenty-year-old men needed showers for the sake of everyone.

A knock sounded from the front of the office, and Angel took a deep breath, calming his off-center nerves before heading to answer the door. He was still cautious, sending out his awareness, his wards humming in the recesses of his mind, unmolested. There were two people on the small landing outside his door, their auras muffled by the panel, but they were both practitioners.

Angel opened the door, a polite smile on his face.

“Angelus Salvatore?” asked a tall, bulky man in a dark coat, his face set to glower. Angel lifted a brow, unable to see the person behind the big man. He could see a flash of red hair and a small bit of alabaster skin before the big guy shifted.

“I am,” Angel replied, opening the door wider, stepping back and gesturing them inside. His wards were set to allow strangers inside, but they would dampen any magic cast in this space by strangers or those he blocked. Came in handy when dealing with young sorcerers and unexpected guests. They could still cast, but his magic permeated the space, claiming even the ambient magical energies and stifling spells cast by interlopers. Not much use against a practitioner who used their own reserves, but the more dangerous, higher-ranked practitioners tended to reach outside themselves first before casting.

A tall woman was behind the big guy, slim and covered head to toe in black, from her leather high-heeled boots and ankle-length black pea coat to her black silk scarf and a jaunty, tiny pillbox hat atop titian curls. She was familiar, but the shadows were still dark enough Angel was having difficulty determining her identity. He led them back to his office, gesturing at the chairs in front of his desk. The woman sat, unwinding her scarf, her escort taking a stance beside the office door. Angel turned on the lamps as dawn was taking its time arriving and the room had shadows in inconvenient places.

The woman removed her scarf, putting it on her lap before shrugging from her coat. Her escort stepped forward, taking it from her before returning to his spot by the door. The woman, dressed in a thin black wraparound dress that hugged every slim curve and long line of her body, smiled at Angel. She was pretty, in a very human way, nothing of the fae about her in face or form. Dark green eyes, nothing at all like the brilliant emerald of Simeon’s eyes but arresting enough in their own merits, gazed back at him, glistening with wry humor.

“Lady Kensington,” Angel acknowledged after a moment’s pause, surprised. The recent widow was a wizard and a skilled apothecary who owned and ran Nightshade Apothecary not far from where they sat in Beacon Hill. Angel would see her occasionally in the neighborhood or when he needed supplies between scheduled deliveries. Her husband, Lord Greyson Kensington, died of a heart attack three months ago while shoveling snow off the front stoop of their shop one chilly winter morning.

“Call me Heather, please,” she said, voice melodic and rich, smooth as hot chocolate with a shot of whiskey. Her chin rose as if she was expecting argument. What Angel could remember of her husband, the man was a stickler for propriety and demanded to be addressed by his title, even to friends.

Angel never liked the man.

“Heather,” Angel agreed with a grin, surprising her into smiling back at him. “What can I do for you? And why so early? I would’ve come to the shop.”

“I’m afraid this matter requires a measure of discretion,” Lady Heather replied, twisting her scarf in her fingers. “It’s regarding my late husband.”

Angel paused, thinking. Usually when the recently bereaved came to his door, they wanted either the impossible, like a resurrection, or more commonly, a summoning of the departed spirit. He rarely acquiesced as nothing good could come from repeatedly dialing in to the Other Side. It kept the living from moving on and tormented the souls he would be recalling to this plane.

She must have seen some of these thoughts on his face, as she held up a dainty hand, forestalling his coming denial. “I don’t want you to summon him from the Other Side,” she said, tears gathering on her lashes. Angel waited, curious despite himself. “I want you to find him for me.”

“I’m sorry, I’m not following,” Angel said warily, hoping she didn’t cry. Isaac or Daniel breaking down he hated but knew what to do, a near stranger crying left him awkward.

“The shop was broken into three nights ago,” Lady Heather said quickly, words tumbling over themselves as she hurried to explain. “I heard the commotion from my apartment upstairs, but by the time the police arrived, it was too late.”

“What did they steal?” Angel was trying to follow along, he really was, but he had no idea what a burglary would have to do with her deceased husband.

“They stole him,” Lady Heather said, digging out a handkerchief from her tiny black purse. She dabbed at her eyes, miraculously not smearing her mascara.

Angel frowned. “I’m going to need you to spell this out for me.”

“The thieves stole Greyson’s ghost. I need you to find him.”



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SJ Himes Logo

I'm a self-employed writer who stresses out about the silliest things, like whether or not I got my dog the best kind of snack and the fact my kindle battery tends to die when I'm at the best part in a book. I write mainly gay romance, erotica, and urban fantasy, with occasional forays into contemporary and paranormal. I love a book heavy on plot and character evolution, and throw in some magic, and that's perfection. My current series are: The Beacon Hill Sorcerer, Bred For Love (as Revella Hawthorne), The Wolfkin Saga, and the epic fantasy romance series Realms of Love. My last two novels in the Beacon Hill Sorcerer won 3rd Place in the Gay Fantasy category for the 2016 Rainbow Awards.
I live in New Orleans, where the personalities are big and loud and so are the bugs! New Orleans is rich in cultural history, and the flavor and music of the City is impossible to hide. Before that, I lived all over the United States: Tampa, Western Massachusetts, Indianapolis, and on and on.... I'm a nomad, and I've yet to find a place that calls to me strongly enough to become home. My faithful travel companions are my dog Micah, the numerous voices in my head who insist they all get put on paper, and the wind at my back.

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Giveaway + Release Blitz: Something About You by Riley Hart


Celebrate the release of Something About You with Riley Hart and Vibrant Promotions. Learn more about this contemporary romance and be sure to enter for your chance to win your own e-copy! Good luck!

Something About You RDB Banner
SOMETHING ABOUT YOU
RILEY HART
M/M ROMANCE
RELEASE DATE: 06.19.18
Something About You Cover
COVER DESIGN: X-Potion Designs
PHOTOGRAPHER: Wilson Models
BLURB
Lucky Tyler Holloway has never felt particularly lucky. Frankly, he's about as regular as can be. He works construction with his brothers, loves his small-town life, and shares a close bond with his family—especially his grandmother. Okay, so maybe he has a few secrets in his closet, like his bisexuality…and that other thing he doesn’t talk about… Maybe that's why he's always felt a little like an outsider.
Grayson St. Claire has it all: a dream job in LA, money, freedom. Saint has no attachments, which is just the way he likes it. Still, he’d be lying if he didn’t admit he missed his deceased parents who were the only family he had... Until he gets an e-mail from some guy named Tyler revealing the existence of a grandmother he’s never met, and prompting Saint to drop everything to drive across the country.
Saint and Tyler couldn't be more different. Tyler hates the guy on sight, but there's something about Tyler that gets under Saint's skin. It’s not until they get to know one another that everything begins to change. But the Holloways and St. Claire’s have secrets, and their pasts are tied together in tragic ways they don’t know about. The odds are stacked against them and between their distance and their differences, Lucky and Saint have to admit that love alone might not be enough.


Something-About-You---Teaser-3

Something-About-You---Teaser-4
EXCERPT
Fuck. He really hated Sienna right now. But the truth was, Tyler was attracted to Saint, and he sort of hated himself for it. Saint represented everything that annoyed the shit out of Tyler. He was arrogant and full of himself. He had money, and he wanted everyone to know it. He obviously had a grudge against or didn’t understand small-town life. They were too different, so the attraction didn’t make much sense. You don’t have to know or like someone to think they’re sexy. Ugh. Truth.

He shifted uncomfortably. “You’re crazy. I don’t even like the guy.”

“And?” Sienna asked. “Since when do we have to like someone to be attracted to them? I know you’re Mr. Nice Guy, but hate sex is some of the best sex you can have. Billy and I—”

“Can you not?” Tyler cut her off. “I don’t want to hear any more about your sex life with Billy, and there’s no chance I’d have sex with Saint—hate sex or not.” Jesus, were they really going to do this? “Plus…even if I wanted to have sex with him—which again, I don’t—I’m not into fucking someone I don’t like, especially the first time I’m with a man, and I’m sure he’s straight anyway.” Just like everyone assumed Tyler was straight…and he had himself until he’d admitted the attractions he’d felt.

He couldn’t believe he was having this conversation. He wanted to go back to before he’d admitted to Sienna he thought he might be bi. Well, he was pretty sure he was obviously bi. But it just felt…strange to have this conversation with her. To discuss his sexuality, which he was still working through himself, a sexuality he hadn’t yet explored outside of a kiss. How in the world did someone know if another man was gay or bi anyway? Hell, the man who kissed him had done it without any confirmation from Tyler. How had he known it wasn’t a quick way to get his ass beat—or worse?

Sienna reached over and patted his thigh. “Oh, my dear, sweet friend. You are so innocent sometimes. He was totally checking you out.”

“He was?” slipped out before Tyler could hold it back. “I mean, I don’t care if he was. I’m not interested. This isn’t a game to me, Si.”

She sighed, and he could see the guilt in her eyes. “You think I don’t know that? I want you to have every experience, though.” She moved the bowl from between them and leaned against his side. Tyler wrapped his arm around her, Sienna’s head in the crook. “I’m sorry. I know I’m a little much sometimes. I definitely don’t want to push away the one person who always stays. I don’t know what I’d ever do without you.”

“Hey.” He tilted her head toward him. “I’m not the only one who stays, and I’d never leave you. I hope you’re not talking about Billy either. You walked away from him, and you should have. That’s nothing on you.”

“I know. I don’t know what’s wrong with me.” She snuggled into him again, and he thought, not for the first time, how much easier life would be if he were in love with Sienna. Not just because she was a woman. There were other single women in town, and if he were interested, he could date them. He had dated some of them, but he and Sienna had always gotten each other on a different level. They understood each other and cared about each other. They had fun together, but anything other than friendship wasn’t there between them. Not on Tyler’s side, nor hers.

“I don’t ever want anything to hold you back. You’re the best person I know. Why shouldn’t you have every experience possible? Why shouldn’t you know what it’s like to be with a man? And he’s sort of the perfect person because he’s leaving and he wants to jump your bones. I could see it."

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Riley Hart is the girl who wears her heart on her sleeve. She’s a hopeless romantic, a lover of sexy stories, passionate men, and writing about all the trouble they can get into together.
She loves reading, flawed characters, and hanging out with her husband and children, who she adores. She and her family live in Southern California, soaking up the sunshine while also missing seasons. Not a day goes by that she isn’t thankful she gets to wake up and do what she loves.
Life is good. Riley also writes young adult and new adult under the name Nyrae Dawn.
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Guest Review: Nobody Else's by Nell Iris

Mars enters Pisces, giving Beckett Cooper the opportunity to assert himself when it comes to a secret infatuation; his best friend’s younger brother Levi. But can Beckett trust what’s in front of him and be brave enough to take what he wants?

With Venus in Virgo, people usually become more reserved, but Levi Byrne always takes the opposite road of what’s expected of him. So, instead of pulling back, he reaches out for a man he’s been interested in for years; Beckett Cooper.

Is it the celestial bodies aligning to bring together two people destined for each other? Or is it a simple tale of boy meets boy, boy likes boy, and boy wants to kiss boy? Do Beckett and Levi even care, or are they too busy getting to know each other ... and falling in love?



Guest Reviewer - Annika

I loved this little story. It was pure fluff and brain candy!

Nobody Else's was an über cute and sweet and I would say cuddly, love story. It had everything I want from this kind of story, little to no angst, sweet characters, a pinch of humor and just had that feel-good vibe to it. I had a smile to my face throughout the read.


Beckett Cooper is what Levi would call cuddly, a teddy bear with a bit of low self-esteem. He's also been in love with his best friend's younger brother Levi for years. But thinking that the gorgeous and super smart man could never be interested in him, he's never acted on his feelings.

Levi Byrne has his hands full. At 23 he's still living (kind of) at home, helping to take care of his many, many siblings - in particular his 5 year old twin sisters - dubbed the Hell Sisters. Being one of 10 kids it's no wonder his parents need all the help they can get. At the same time he's also trying to run his programming business and all the paperwork that a successful business has. It's no wonder he's never really had the time to act on his infatuation on Beckett. Until the stars align and enable Beckett and Levi to spend time together, get to know each other.

This book was as low-angst and drama free a book can get. It was about being brave and take that first step to the unknown. But also about speaking up, daring to go for what you want. But above all this book was all about falling in love.

Simply a beautiful love story perfect to cuddle up to at night!


A copy of this book was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review




Giveaway + Blog Tour: Nights Without Night (Fox Lake #2) by Marina Vivancos


Marina Vivancos and Indigo Promotions are here today to celebrate the release of Nights Without Night, the second of the Fox Lake Series. Find out more about this contemporary romance, listen to the playlist and be sure to enter for your chance to win your own copy of the series below! Good luck!


Title:  Nights Without Night
Series: Fox Lake Series #2
Author: Marina Vivancos
Publisher:  Self-published
Release Date: 18th June 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 60,000 words
Genre: Romance, Contemporary, Childhood Friends, Mental Health

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Nights Without Night: Soundtrack (link to playlist below)

Music is a big part of my writing process. Not necessarily because it inspires me directly—rarely do I listen to a song which sparks a concrete idea, although that’s happened once or twice (watch this space), but because it’s a crucial part of my day. I listen to music while I write, while I walk, when I travel. If it’s not music, it’s the radio or a podcast. I like to drown the world away.

When I write, I mostly listen to lyricless music; soundtracks, hip-hop lofi, etc. However, I love making playlists of songs that fit with the stories I write. I currently have 18 nascent Spotify playlists dedicated to stories—stories I haven’t even started planning, stories which still haven’t grown names for their main characters.

The playlist I’ve made for Nights Without Night hopefully captures the progression of the book. From distant longing, to lust, to depression, to hope, to togetherness. I found that, unlike most of all my other playlists, this one was mostly composed of lyricless songs. Songs that swell or tremble with sound and push thought out, salt water filling your lungs.

Maybe this lack of spoken word is to capture Isadoro’s inability to express what he’s going through to Iván. Maybe it’s just because that’s how hopelessness sounds in my own head. Mental health difficulties are tightly entwined with thoughts, but when I think of sadness it’s not a speech I want to give, but a wordless cry.

The first song that came to me when I was writing this story was Elegy for Dunkirk, from the soundtrack of the movie Atonement. For me, it represents the difficulty of war with comradery at its centre. The flowing strings, the approaching and dissolving voices, takes you on a blind journey that ends with more of a whimper than anything else.

But that’s not where the soundtrack ends. For me, the song that best fits the story is All My Joy, All My Pain, by Fabrizio Paterlini. It’s the turning point in the playlist. A beautiful piano piece, it starts soft and almost melancholic, or at least a little joyless, resigned. Then, a bracing breath. You can feel the music fill with a sudden, peeking light, like rays at the edge of a horizon. Even this, though, is not a straight line to the end. It’s repetitive, pausing at times as if to gain strength. By the end, although the piece returns to the notes with which it began, they sound different. When before they were softer, melting into each other a little, ambiguous, they end decisive, fingers leaning into the keyboard, sure of themselves now. The same experience seen in a different way. These sounds are not simply accepting what is, but prepared for what is to come.



Synopsis

Isadoro and Iván have known each other since before memories were memories, when they were just the imprint of shape and sound pressed inside your head. They were raised together in La Portera, between the orange trees and water reservoirs, under an endless blue sky. Where they grew up is where Iván’s love for Isadoro grew, too. There, from the earth and the water, organic and helpless.

Iván had grown used to this love. He’d grown used to absence, too.
Isadoro left for the military when they were both eighteen and took a piece of Iván with him. It was as inevitable as the baking sun and sandy winds of those lands. Iván didn't know how to fight it.

A thread between them remained. Phone calls, Skype sessions, rests between tours. But it was never quite enough.

After eight years, Isadoro comes back. At his core, he is the same man Iván has always known. But life has transformed them both from the malleable shapes of childhood and into the stiffer skin of adults. The situation is complicated further when they rekindle the ‘benefits’ portion of their friendship. The heat between them has always been undeniable, and now it scorches through them.

In the beginning, all seems well. But there are creatures under calm water. When they breach the surface, both Isadoro and Iván must learn how to help each other, but also to save themselves.

Please note: This story contains themes of affected mental health following the return from military combat. However, the ultimate focus of the story is on hope and recovery.
This story also contains very explicit scenes of a sexual nature.

Excerpt

The summer before Isadoro was finally deployed had run on borrowed time. I hadn’t applied to college but had gotten a summer job in La Portera while I figured out what to do with my life. After work, I would go to the beach with Isadoro, pretending this was any other summer and that adulthood wasn’t looming in September for both of us.

One night, we went down to the beach when it was late and dark. The sea was a pool of ink, the sound of it washing in and out a secret call. On Isadoro’s dare, we’d stripped our clothes and ran into the water, the coolness a relief from the thick summer air.

The half-moon had been a bowl of rice perched on the black. We’d swam around, free in the salt and the waves, pulling each other under in a familiar game. We’d been our child selves, free of the ties that tugged at us beyond the water.

When we tired and let ourselves drift, I remember Isadoro swimming close to me. Remember the moon in his eyes. The way his wet skin had felt against mine. It had almost been a kiss. Almost. But I couldn’t do that to myself. Not again. Not when he was leaving and he wasn’t in love with me back.

Who would have thought that I would be able to resist the pull of the moon at eighteen, and cave so many years later, caught completely in its tide.

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Meet the Author

When Marina was a child she couldn’t sleep. Night after dissolving night she just couldn’t sleep. Nothing much worked – until she started making up stories in her head. Suddenly, the transition into unconsciousness was a smooth dive into calm waters.

Marina is currently in a period of sleepless upheaval, and she hopes writing down the stories in her head will cast the same spell it did decades ago.

Marina hopes to write in a variety of romance sub-genres, from contemporary to supernatural to sci-fi. Her style, however, tends to focus on character-centred stories that explore different facets of the human experience, such as mental health. She also enjoys writing explicit, drawn-out sex scenes, so expect those to be a prominent feature of her stories.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads


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Review: Oskar Blows A Gasket by Claire Davis and Al Stewart

Armed with designer backpack full of make-up and retro music galore, Oskar sets off for college. And, with attitude even spikier than his heels, nothing is going to hold him back. Except maybe one thing…his past is shouting louder than the 80s songs he adores and it won't be ignored. Behind the effervescence are secrets, lies and sadness. Try as he might, not even Oskar can hide forever, and one day it isn't only pop icon Simon Le Bon who's going to catch up.

Who is writing letters? And why is a spy secretly following? 

Enter Bear, with dancing eyes and secrets of his own. Bear's kindness sparkles brighter than Lycra leggings, and everyone knows Oskar loves shiny things. Like every prophecy, their fates seem inevitably linked. As the walls of Oskar's defence crumble, Bear shows his hidden strength, but will it be enough to save them?

Find out in this far-out, zany tale of fame, first love and retro DJs.


Flawed characters are the best. Oskar is flawed.

Flawed characters aren’t always likable but they have a charisma that draws other characters (and the reader) into their world and we all want to be there, even if we may not always like said character. Oskar is that guy and man he has charisma in spades and an attitude to match. I liked how the authors introduce him though. I was expecting the bitchy snark based on the blurb, but the beginning balanced him out and softened him up enough so that I couldn’t wait to know more about what made Oskar tick.

Bear is Oskar’s complete antithesis and absolute complement. It takes a long time to get there, but it’s obvious from the beginning that Bear (the name that Oskar bestowed upon him) is completely powerless when he’s up against Oskar’s charms. I’m jumping the gun a bit and this is very cliche to say, but these two were made for one another.

The style in which the tale is told works perfectly for both their stories. They both get (and need to be) front and center in the present time and they both get to tell their histories through series of letters to family. While Oskar and Bear are complete opposites in just about every way, they both have a commonality in tales of heartbreaking childhoods. Very different, but the damage is still similar and like recognizes like, so I think the trust that eventually came to them made sense and was believable from the beginning.

Oskar is a sassy bitch in the beginning and Bear is more than happy to do his every bidding. Oskar wears his attitude like armor and Gareth just wants to be liked. It’s both amusing and slightly sad to read about them finding their feet in college. The first half of the story is told from Oskar’s perspective with a letter from Gareth to his father at the beginning of each. My heart broke in progressively smaller bits as I read Gareth’s letters until I was left completely shattered for him.
The method the authors used was just so good though and gave each of the characters extra depth in turn. I know I mentioned the style already, but it really was the perfect vehicle for this story so I ended up coming back to it.

The two come together, push each other away and let their quirks fly. It’s always the little things that bring a character to life, giving the whole story a level of depth and relatability that many others miss. Oskar is held together by his quirks and Gareth turns out to be a bit of an Oskar whisperer and their banter was a treat to read. Gareth is by nature a caretaker and Oskar needs caretaking, but the relationship still grew and balanced out because while Gareth did take care of Oskar, Oskar was fiercely protective of Gareth and Gareth needed someone to come to his defense with the passion only Oskar could bring to the party.

I was thankful that the two of them became an official couple well before the book was over. I needed to see them together and read how their dynamics evolved as their lives changed. Without that I don’t think I could have believed in their HEA as strongly as I did by the time the story was over. The book is more than just a coming of age novel, there is much more to it than that and the authors did an excellent job of balancing the story of a couple of broken boys with a heartwarming and humorous romance.



**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**