Giveaway + Blog Tour: The Wrong Woman (Toronto Connections, #4) by Cass Lennox


Cass Lennox is here promoting her new Toronto Connections novel and there's a $15 Riptide credit up for grabs!

Be sure to enter below! Good luck!


About The Wrong Woman


As an independent filmmaker, Katie Cherry is used to difficult shoots—but a band’s music video in a tiny lesbian bar is proving worse than most. Stress-busting, expectation-free sex with Zay, the calm, gorgeous bartender, seems just the ticket. But then she and Zay discover the band’s lead singer beaten into a coma in the bar bathroom. They need an alibi, but playing girlfriends is a role Katie’s never excelled at, so she can't see this ending well.


Zay Fayed-Smith is finally getting her life back together after her junkie ex broke it apart. She’s working part-time while pursuing her dream of being a lawyer, and definitely keeping things chill on the girls front. Of course, that’s when a crime happens in her bar and her ex shows up wanting to try again. “Dating” Katie seems like the best way for Zay to keep her head down and teach her ex a lesson.


Except pretty soon, the charade begins to feel less and less like acting. And when the attacker turns his attentions toward Katie, they have to cut through the lies to discover what’s real.


Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/the-wrong-woman

About the Toronto Connections Universe



The winters might be cold, but hearts are warm in Toronto. Canada’s largest city is home to a big lake, a big tower, and a big queer community. People here are trying to get by like everyone else: pay the bills, deal with life in the city, and maybe find some happiness along the way with someone who’s sweeter than maple candy and more constant than a Canadian’s love for Timmie’s coffee.


For some, falling in love is a real challenge. For others, falling is the easy part—it’s the happy ever after that proves a little more difficult. But in the end, love is worth every complication, misunderstanding, and occasional swear word.



About Cass Lennox


Cass Lennox is a permanent expat who has lived in more countries than she cares to admit to and suffers from a chronic case of wanderlust as a result. She started writing stories at the tender age of eleven, but would be the first to say that the early years are best left forgotten and unread. A great believer in happy endings, she arrived at queer romance via fantasy, science fiction, literary fiction, and manga, and she can’t believe it took her that long. Her specialties are diverse characters, gooey happy ever afters, and brownies. She’s currently sequestered in a valley in southeast England.


Connect with Cass:




To celebrate the release of The Wrong Woman, one lucky winner will receive a $15 Riptide credit! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 27, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Guest Review: Coming In by Michelle Ogilvy

Jay and Adam have been sharing a flat, and a bed, since they moved down to Adelaide after high school a couple of years ago. Neither man considers himself gay or mentions the sexual nature of their friendship to anyone else.

Their arrangement doesn’t stop Jay from casually dating random women he meets through work and both men seem happy with the way things are. That is, until Adam meets April, a damsel in distress that latches herself onto Adam in a way that he doesn’t mind at all. Jay sure does, though.

As Adam gets closer to April, the friendship between the two men starts to unravel and for the first time in years, Jay is facing a life without Adam. If he wants to save their friendship, he will have to offer Adam a lot more than a spot in his bed. There’s only one problem, Jay doesn’t believe in love.



Reviewer: Lost in a Book

I’ve got to cleanse myself of this confession; This book made me RAGE. Rage, I tell you!!!!!*shakes fists* I don’t think I’ve ever hated a character as much as I hated one in this book. I’m talking, I wanted to bring out my inner MMA goddess and Take. The. Bitch. Down… April.

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Who is April, you ask?

Let us start at the beginning…

Jay and Adam are flatmates in Adelaide, Australia. They were best friends that grew up together in a small town and moved to the “city” for Adam to go to uni while Jay worked as a baking apprentice. While working as a baking apprentice, Jay screwed his way through about 80% of the female employees. Along with all of the action Jay was getting, he was regularly having sex with Adam whether he had a girlfriend flavor-of-the-day or not. But, it wasn’t just sex. Jay and Adam had a relationship without the label. They cuddled, slept together in the same bed each night, and hung out together in between.

”No matter how many times they did this, though, Jay didn’t get tired of looking or touching. The women that shared Jay’s bed on occasion, they never lasted long. But Adam was his mate. That was something completely different and lasting.”

See? A relationship, right? Except, both Adam and Jay are completely freakin’ clueless and think they were just helping their “mate” out. Jay is jaded by his parents’ relationship as well as the lack of loving relational examples around him. Adam is just clueless.

”Yet, each time Jay leaned in for a kiss with Adam, there was always a moment as their lips met when he wondered if this would be the night that Adam pushed him away. When Adam finally questioned why the hell they were doing this. Whether this really was a ‘mates’ thing to do. But Adam never questioned.”

One day, Adam was walking by a bus stop and a girl she-bitch runs into him. April. She made up some sob story about a creepy person and how she has nowhere to go and Adam thought…I’ll bring you to my place. *smh* From here, April is a Stage-10 Clinger. She shows up unannounced, not taking no for an answer and this morphs into a relationship between April and Adam. Adam turned into someone else with April. He allowed her to manipulate conversations, situations, love proclamations, and other relationships while being none the wiser. Jay hated April and this added complete chaos into an already dysfunctional situation.

“He did still need to do something about the tension between Jay and April. He felt like he was being pulled in two different directions by them. It shouldn’t be that hard to have a friend and a girlfriend. These things were done by millions of people every day. It wasn’t like he wanted them to become great friends. He’d settle for stopping them from attacking each other every time they were in the same room.”

It was around this point in the book I was wanting to send them all to the Hunger Games stadium and hope there wouldn’t be a victor.

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The tension became suffocating. Jay and Adam didn’t have any coping mechanisms for dealing with the dynamic change in their relationship. Although Jay and Adam still hooked up, April became this huge cancer in the room until one day Jay removes himself from the equation.
“It wasn’t like Adam hadn’t known the goodbye was coming. But it was supposed to be him leaving, not Jay. And he hadn’t realised it would hurt this much.

*Takes deep breath*

By the second half, I was rooting so hard for them to get their shit together and realize what they had. The journey became about coming to terms with who they were separately and what they were to each other. It was about self-discovery, self-acceptance and understanding love; no matter who it may be with.
“But I won’t go back to that. I won’t go back to pretending that I don’t feel something for you. That I don’t… I’ve been sitting over there, thinking about this for hours. I don’t know if it makes me gay or whatever. I do know that I love you. I’m sure of that. But I don’t want to.”

Gahhhhhh… These boys. I loved them and wanted to throat punch them at the same time. I couldn’t quit them either. Ohohoho, don’t get me wrong… I had to take a breather before I did some damage. But, it was never out of dislike for the story. It was because the characters made me feel too much. Their actions, words, cluelessness, etc… She-who-must-not-be-named even made me feel. Nothing positive mind you, but she took away my ability to merely be a passive reader with her manipulation. I could have used a tad less angst and antacids but Isn’t that what every book should do? Make you a feeling participant?

To warn; this book had cheater cheater pumpkin eaters in it. It was interesting how my perspective changed throughout the book. Cheating is a no fly zone for me. Typically, I won’t read books if I know it will happen. However, this book had two different scenarios of cheating. One scenario I was all on board with and the other wasn't kosher. If cheating of any kind is a hard limit for you, I would suggest skipping this book.

I really enjoyed the writing style in this book. It drew me in and didn't let go. I bitched and moaned (not the good kind) and raged and grinned and squeeeeed and loved.

"love is a beautiful thing and you shouldn’t be afraid of it. It’s wondrous like… like a bubble. It lifts you up so high that the cares of the world are tiny, irrelevant dots. But it’s a fragile thing and you shouldn’t prod it or you’ll come crashing down mighty fast."
 

“Love is a bubble, all it takes is one prick to burst it.”


Release Blitz + Giveaway: Road to the Sun by Keira Andrews


Celebrate the release of Road to the Sun with author Keira Andrews and Signal Boost Promotions with a Keira Andrews back list eBook Giveaway!




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Global Amazon


Paperback: Amazon US | Amazon UK


Length: 70,000 words


Blurb


A desperate father. A lonely ranger. Unexpected love that can’t be denied.


Jason Kellerman’s life revolves around his eight-year-old daughter. Teenage curiosity with his best friend led to Maggie’s birth, her mother tragically dying soon after. Insistent on raising his daughter himself, he was disowned by his wealthy family and has worked tirelessly to support Maggie—even bringing her west on a dream vacation. Only twenty-five, Jason hasn’t had time to even think about romance. So the last thing he expects is to question his sexuality after meeting an undeniably attractive park ranger.


Ben Hettler’s stuck. He loves working in the wild under Montana's big sky, but at forty-one, his love life is non-existent, his ex-boyfriend just married and adopted, and Ben’s own dream of fatherhood feels impossibly out of reach. He’s attracted to Jason, but what’s the point? Besides the age difference and skittish Jason’s lack of experience, they live thousands of miles apart. Ben wants more than a meaningless fling.


Then a hunted criminal takes Maggie hostage, throwing Jason and Ben together in a desperate and dangerous search through endless miles of mountain forest. If they rescue Maggie against all odds, can they build a new family together and find a place to call home?


Road to the Sun is a May-December gay romance from Keira Andrews featuring adventure, angst, coming out, sexual discovery, and of course a happy ending.

Author Bio


After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”




Guest Review: The Amateur: A Villainous Love Story by T.J. Land

Worst thing about being a supervillain? Getting your butt handed to you by caped do-gooders. Best thing about being a supervillain? Getting your hands on caped do-gooders' butts. Heh.

Red Velvet and his two partners in crime – super-strong beefcake Ares and proud degenerate the Electric Eel – are the League of Larceny, the most notorious gang in town. They’ve been together in every sense of the word for years, and these days everyone knows better than to mess with them. Which is why they're surprised to have their weekly heist interrupted by a rookie hero.

His costume is hideous. His banter is corny. His body is amazing. He’s Mister Valiant and he’s here to save the day. Or if not, then at least he might prove to be an amusing distraction for a few bored bad guys…

38K, poly (M/M/M/M), standalone, happy ending. Features a bigender AFAB viewpoint character.

Reviewer: Shee Reader

The premise for this book had me practically salivating! A group of super villains who work together as The League of Larceny to rob and pillage the city are greeted by a new super. Mr Valiant - he’s new, so hasn’t been inducted into the Remarkables. Mr Valiant tries to take on the serious bad guys, but he needs help…

I was so excited to start reading, but honestly it took me awhile to get into the story, which was disappointing. The League of Larceny includes Ares (the boss) who has super strength, The Eel who can utilise electricity, and Red a bi-gendered supervillain/superhero who can become invisible. Red identifies as a man and a villain, his alternative identity, Scarlet, identifies as female and a superhero. Just these things alone should be enough to have this book leaping off the page at me, but honestly it took me a few chapters to really care about the characters.

Red finds Mr Valiant and his hopeless hero skills so endearing that he offers to mentor the newbie as his alter ego Scarlet. I absolutely loved that Red/Scarlet straddled all the lines. Even though all the different personas (including their civilian identities) kept me on my toes to follow who was who, not to mention who was getting down and dirty with whom!

Mr Valiant and his hilarious fan-boy love of the League of Larceny was such a loveable character with his super-horrible father, tight little ass and fancy apartment he was bound to wiggle his way into the League’s bed, not to mention their affections!

The story includes a number of heists, bad guys, heroes and twists and it got steadily more enjoyable as I read on. Their heists and sexy times didn’t really flow at the start, but by the end I was thoroughly hooked. I’d love to see follow up stories of all the guys having more fun japes!

I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review
.




Audiobook Review: Catch and Release (The Release #3) by BA Tortuga

Dakota Landry just got out of prison after twelve years. If anyone can understand how that feels, it’s his new friend, Sage, who is determined to help him get used to life on the outside—and believes Dakota didn’t commit the crime he was in for.

Jayden Wilson is a former prosecutor who agrees to look into the case at the request of Sage’s lover, Adam. He sets out to prove Dakota is just another “innocent” ex-con, but once they meet, Jayden is more and more convinced Dakota just didn’t do what everyone thinks he did.

Trouble follows Dakota, and nothing is easy as he struggles to figure out how to live, now that he has choices. And Jayden isn’t sure how Dakota, or any lover for that matter, fits into his life. Their path from friendship to romance is a slow one, but Dakota begins to believe he deserves a chance at life, and Jayden falls a little more for Dakota every day. Now they just need to tell each other how they feel.

Listening Length: 7 hrs 16 min
Narrator: Lou Lambert


Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*


It seems I have a soft spot in my heart for this series that I can’t explain at all. It must stem from the fact that Terms of Release (go Sage and Adam!) was one of the first few M/M’s I’d read, and thus I have a certain attachment to the original characters.

Dakota, wrongly imprisoned, is finally released after 12 years of complete hell. Though he’s paid his time for a crime he didn’t commit, he just wants to live his life without drawing any attention to himself. That gets harder to do as fellow ex-con, Sage, won’t take no for an answer and slowly helps Dakota acclimate.

As a friend of Adam’s, Jayden’s innate curiosity as a past prosecutor, has him investigating Dakota's piss poor defense. When he sees some gaps, he makes it his mission to prove Dakota’s innocence. It doesn’t hurt that Dakota is attractive and wholly charming in his own quiet way. All Jayden wants to do is keep him safe and to make up for some of all that’s been taken from him.

Can these two overcome the obvious tough obstacles, and what if Jayden can’t exonerate Dakota? What then?

For me, Tortuga has never been the smoothest of writers, and to be honest, though this was better in editing than the first 2 books, there was still quite a bit of quick POV changes that were made even more mind boggling with the narration. Perhaps Lou Lambert couldn’t discern who was speaking either when reading this, but to say the least, he seemed like he was on an extra fast speed with very little variation between characters and exposition, making it all the more difficult to know what was going on and who was saying what.

However… this still had charm.

This had a good slow burn, as friendship turns into something more, and hurt comfort abounds. As a heads up though, this very disappointingly and surprisingly, had absolutely no smex - just kissing - and I do feel that the author neglected a very prime opportunity to capitalize on the potential intimacy and healing Dakota rightly deserved. Having said that though, we of course get our happy ending. I just unfortunately wanted a whole helluva lot more.





Release Blitz: Frozen Heart (Love Lessons, #1.5) by Heidi Cullinan


Today's the Release Day for Frozen Heart, the revised edition. Get out there and 1-click, kids!

Happy Release Day!



Original free edition release date December 25, 2013

Format: Short Story • Genre: Contemporary New Adult Romance • Length: 9,000 words

Publisher: Heidi Cullinan

Cover Artist: Kanaxa

ISBN: 978-1-945116-02-5

Series: Love Lessons #1.5

Characters: Walter Lucas, Kelly Davidson

Short Summary: A new Disney movie is coming out, and Walter gets to witness first-hand the fervor of a new release with his Disney-loving fiancé. Of course, Walter had plans for another big event to happen at Thanksgiving too. Can he navigate balancing Kelly's movie experience with his grand proposal plans? Or will he manage to bumble everything and freeze Kelly's heart twice over?

FULL BLURB:

Proposals don’t come with instructions.

Walter Lucas knows his boyfriend has been looking forward to the newest movie about a certain snow princess, but he isn’t prepared for the reality that is the front-row seat of Kelly Davidson’s cartoon obsession. There’s more going on in November than just the movie, however—Walter’s been working up the nerve to ask Kelly a certain question. When Walter set up his elaborate Thanksgiving marriage proposal, it seemed like such a good idea, but as the holiday, the movie premiere, and the question Walter never dreamt he’d be asking anyone converge…let’s just say even Hollywood’s best couldn’t sing and dance their way out of Walter’s tangle.

Buy links: Amazon USAmazon UKBarnes & NobleiTunesKobo, Tolino, Smashwords


Review: Surrender the Dark (The Dark #1) by Tibby Armstrong

As a provocative series of paranormal temptation begins, a vampire king seduces the supernaturally gifted man hunting him. But when the stakes are literally life or death, their struggle for control is no game.

Benjamin Fuller is a hunter, born and bred. Blinded as a child by the vampire who slaughtered his family, he’s blessed with a second sight that allows him to catch and kill his quarry. What his gift can’t help him see coming is his fierce, almost carnal attraction to the mystery man who claims to be a fellow hunter and whose touch triggers both lust and revulsion. When he gains the upper hand, Benjamin vows to bring his enemy to his knees.

After many years spent in exile, the only one who can help restore Tzadkiel Dragoumanos to his rightful place as War King is a blind hunter with golden curls, a lithe dancer’s physique, and distinctive facial scars—scars Tzadkiel gave him two decades ago. The mere scent of Benjamin Fuller provokes an unwelcome rush of insatiable desire. Yet to win an all-out supernatural war, Tzadkiel must resist the ravenous hunger to possess his prey—for now.


I don't want to get too excited here but this has the potential to be a great paranormal romantic suspense series with phenomenal worldbuilding, strong leading characters and loads of action/adventure. Armstrong has taken a modern day Boston and transformed it into an urban fantasy landscape brimming with secret lairs, underground civilizations, supes of all kinds, secret doors and a blood feud that spans years. 

We have the sexy vamp in Tzadkiel and his fierce paramour, Benjamin. They have a shared and painful past that pits them against one another initially. 



Hunter and vamp. Drawn to each other and repulsed by their attraction simultaneously. I'm licking my lips here because them's the goods right there! You know what that means, kids?



Well, sorta. The sex was a teensy bit rough if infrequent and I have to say if authors don't quit chain-yanking me on the hate sex I'm going to get SUPER fussy. These two had biting snark and an ocean's worth of water under the bridge and they still couldn't manage some hate sex? 

Luckily the whole "fated" thing came along and saved the day. I heart me some fated mates and these two met when Benjamin was just an innocent tike of 8 or so. Even then Tzadkiel found his elderflower (NICE! Armstrong didn't go with the ubiquitous something woodsy) scent irresistible. Naturally Benjamin has similar feels with regard to Tzadkiel. Who can resist and vamp in leather though? I mean, really.

The defense rests.
Surrender the Dark definitely fits the hurt/comfort bill with Benjamin having been blinded and disfigured by Tzadkiel as a child then orphaned. While Tzadkiel withstood 36 straight hours of torture at the hands of Benjamin's uncle (an asshole, in case you were wondering) including losing his fangs and being injected with iron and...


Yeah, it was bad. So bad he had to go to ground for two decades to minimally recover, so you can imagine how pissed he was when he woke up.


I wanted Tzadkiel to be a bit more unscrupulous than he turned out to be, but he's good... vampire? What's plural for vampire or is it like deer? Whatever you get what I mean. I liked him and I liked that Armstrong made his voice align with his age, wisdom and experience. Actually, both men had their own unique voices that I had no trouble differentiating between. I so enjoyed getting a front row seat to witness the evolution of their relationship from enemies to something more and how they each grappled with their changing perceptions of the other.

However much I enjoyed the growth of their relationship, Surrender the Dark is very much a paranormal adventure/urban fantasy with an up-tempo pace intermingled through the worldbuilding and romance plotlines, so if you're looking for a really strong romance storyline you'll probably be disappointed. The two strongest secondary characters are Benjamin's best friends, Nyx and Akito, and while I liked them and wouldn't mind learning more about them I'm hoping the next book will continue with Tzadkiel and Benjamin's story and their adventures with even more action, please.

Recommend to urban fantasy fans.



I couldn't resist.




An ARC was provided by NetGalley.




Guest Review: Lochlann (Order of the Black Knights #6) by Andrea Speed

Violence has been Lochlann O’Connor’s companion since he was born into a family of old-school Irish terrorists. From there he is recruited into Alpha, a secret government agency dedicated to fighting terrorism—with extreme prejudice. Lochlann’s bravery, efficiency, ruthlessness, and the natural dead eye that lets him hit anything that moves, quickly make him one of the shadowy organization’s most valued operatives.

Cas Vega joins Alpha because it’s marginally better than a prison sentence. He’s a former drug cartel assassin—or at least that’s his story. But Lochlann is suspicious. Despite an irrational and overwhelming attraction to Cas, Lochlann has questions, and they soon lead to a deeper and deadlier mystery. What is Alpha’s true purpose, and why does it seem they want to eliminate Lochlann?

Lochlann and Cas must work together to get to the bottom of Alpha’s scheme and escape it—and all while Cas keeps secrets that could cost him his life if they’re revealed. But it’s not an alliance that can last. Duty turns the men into enemies, even while fate compels them into each other’s arms. Before they can contemplate which will prevail, they must figure out how to survive.


Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*


I want to preface this with saying I don’t lightly jump into the middle of a series willy nilly, but I did some investigation and truly believe that each book is a standalone story. Various reviews reassured me that there was no connection between books except a shared origin, and thus I took the plunge.

Soooo… the theme of this series is that long ago, warriors bent on hell and destruction and revenge, sold their souls to a powerful wizard to do what they do best - kill. Reincarnated over and over again, the only way out of the contract is to take a different path and spare an enemy - that special someone unbeknownst to them - who's needed to break the curse to gain freedom from the endless violence and death that plagues them.

Hence, we have Lochlann. He’s one of the best covert operatives of Alpha - a top secret government agency created to fight terrorism. The harsh life of eliminating threats is justified by knowing it’s for the greater good. However, Lochlann has seen some things recently that make him question his loyalty.

Enter Cas. He’s a hitman for a notorious cartel, and when he’s captured and forcibly conscripted for his talents to join Alpha, he has no choice but to comply if he wants to live. Or does he? The people he’s really working for have been looking for the notorious Lochlann for years, and Cas finally has a chance to apprehend him. What he doesn't expect to find is a man with vulnerabilities and hints of conscience under the impenetrable exterior that Lochlann has perfected. Cas’s mission just got a whole lot more complicated.

I’m a huge fan of Andrea Speed who wrote the awesome Infected series, so I was looking forward to seeing what she could bring to this genre, and for the most part I wasn’t disappointed. Overall, I enjoyed this, but I think mainly that’s because I love me a military, assassin, spy book, and this did not skimp on the missions nor the action. The writing was excellent and the plot plausible, but the romance aspect fell a bit short (and I know she can write romance. Hi Roan!). Make no mistake, these guys are intrigued and attracted to each other, and the UST was palpable, but as far as I know, Speed doesn’t write on page smex, and though I was hoping I was wrong, unfortunately it fell true for this book as well. And... that’s where I think it could’ve helped solidify in my mind, the love these two supposedly had for the other. Granted, I want all the smex an author can give me but here, I really do think its presence would’ve further strengthened the reader’s belief in Lochlann and Cas’s feelings and thus their subsequent motivations. I just didn’t quite believe the intensity between these two.

Having said that, the rating is for the writing, keeping my interest the entire time, and of course, the happy ending. By no means am I deterred from reading Speed again!

Thanks to the author/publisher for a copy in exchange for an honest review





Release Blitz + Giveaway: Drama Queens and Adult Themes (Actors and Angels #2) by Kevin Klehr


Kevin Klehr and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of Drama Queens and Adult Themes (Actors and Angels #2)! Check out today's blitz and enter to win any eBook from NineStar Press! 

Title:  Drama Queens and Adult Themes
Series: Actors and Angels, book 2
Author: Kevin Klehr
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: May 22, 2017
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage
Length: 62350
Genre: Fantasy, performance arts, contemporary, established relationship, angels, over 40, open relationship, age gap, ménage, cheating, drugs, death, romance, fantasy, paranormal, cisgender

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Adam’s about to discover how much drama a mid-life crisis can be. He’s obsessed with Mannix, the nude model in his art class. But Adam has been married to Wade for nearly two decades, and they don’t have an open relationship.

Little do they know that Fabien, a warlock from the Afterlife, has secretly cast a spell of lust on Adam and his potential toy-boy.

As things begin to heat up, Adam’s guardian angel, Guy, steps in. But what’s the best way to save the relationship? Should Guy subdue Adam’s wandering passions or instigate a steamy threesome?

Excerpt

Drama Queens and Adult Themes
Kevin Klehr © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Adam

He stood wearing a velvety white towel and an eager grin. Either could’ve disappeared at my whim. I smelled the freshly laundered lemon scent of the towel combined with the odor of his body sweat, which I was dying to lick from his forehead. I’m always a sucker for a devil-may-care attitude. It makes me weak at the knees in an instant, but in this case, I was already reclined in my gleaming white tub, so there was no danger of losing my balance. The water filled to the brim, and I knew that when he joined me, he would splash the tiles below.

I’d only known him for half an hour, and already I was under his spell. Was he a young man of style, or was he a man of simple tastes? Did he have a daytime career that gave him the world at his fingertips, or did he simply have the freedom of freelance engagements?

Time slowed as his luxurious towel fell to the floor. His body was not toned like a swimwear model. His features would never inspire a dozen wet dreams. It was his everyday physical qualities that were driving me wild. That tuft of silky chest hair that traced its way to his belly button. He even had a little flab. Not too much, just a tad. To me, it signaled a man of zero pretense.

But as the towel was now on the floor, his upper body wasn’t what I was focusing on. He lifted one leg and eased himself into the water. The other leg followed as instinct lured my face toward his luscious…

“At some point, Adam, you do need to put pencil to paper,” said my art teacher. He had crept up behind me.

My wayward daydream vanished. Hopefully, I’d find it again before bedtime. I blushed and so did the nude model. I quickly drew a line, but it wasn’t in keeping with the young man’s form.

I was startled at my own behavior. A man of my age wasn’t supposed to act like a starstruck teenager. My instructor gently gripped my hand and guided my pencil to create a more natural line.

The model winked at me as some of the other students chuckled. Another budding male artist with bleached-blond hair nodded in my direction, smiling slyly.

“Okay, I admit it. My mind was somewhere else, and I apologize to the model,” I said.

All eyes in the room were on me.

“I’m flattered,” the model replied.

“It’s not like me to act like this, seriously.”

“Can I get you a glass of water?” asked the teacher.

“Thanks but I’ll get one myself. I think I need a walk. I’ll catch up on my drawing as soon as I get back.”

I rushed out of the classroom. This was all too weird in my situation. I was in my early forties and still madly in love with the man I’d shared my life with for the last eighteen years. We had a healthy sex life, even though I fantasized more than I’d like to admit. In fact, any dreamy man wandering past my view would arouse my animal instincts faster than a straight guy in a room of lipstick lesbians. But this young man posing for art class had my tongue dragging so close to the floor I was licking it clean. I was definitely not ready for a midlife crisis, or so I thought.

I sat on a seat in the corridor. Was I capable of having a discreet fling? I lightly slapped myself on the cheek, waking up to how ridiculous this question was. Why would he want to have an affair with an old fart like me?

It was the middle of winter, and I could already feel chilled air on the tip of my nose. I stood up and headed for the bathroom. I splashed warm water on my face. I stared at the mirror, giving my reflection some sound advice.

“Adam, get a grip. You don’t know this guy, but suddenly he’s invaded your thoughts. Yes, I know he looks really cute up there with nothing but that devilish grin and a pair of turquoise socks, but come on now, he can’t be more than thirty!”

“Seems like you’re smitten,” alleged the bleached-blond student.

He had wandered through the door and was heading for the urinal.

“Were you standing outside long?”

“I heard you down the corridor. Nothing to be ashamed of, really. This is my fourth class, and I’ve had to draw that same model once before. He hasn’t got the perfect body, but boy has he got the perfect attitude. Alluring, and if there is a god, available.”

The blond zipped up his fly and wandered to the sink next to me.

“I agree, but I usually don’t go around acting like a schoolgirl with a crush.”

“Enjoy it. Not all their models have that much charisma.”

We escorted each other back to art class where the other students had made headway on their drawings. I focused on the model’s socks in an attempt to concentrate on my artwork, rather than the young man’s prominent feature. Soon the ankles were added before my pencil carefully outlined his masculine legs.

As I traced up to the hip, I sighed as I studied his most manly asset. How should I draw it? Would the teacher fail me if I portrayed it erect? After all, a great artist should display his own feelings on the sketchpad.

I decided to skip his crotch and draw his chest. His slightly defined chest. Not too developed, but not devoid of shape either. The small tuft of dark hair in the center of the upper body was outlined with great care. Outlining shape was one thing, but defining the type of chest hair someone had was another. A trail of thick small lines was carefully added to the picture from the torso to the navel.

“Okay folks, pencils down.”

The teacher wandered around the room giving us feedback. The charming model reached for a pair of frayed blue jeans, which were neatly folded over the back of a chair just an arm’s length away. He pulled them up and carefully buttoned the fly around his naked assets, as he clearly hadn’t brought underwear.

“We’ll have him back in a couple of weeks if you want to complete this particular drawing,” said the teacher.

He gave me a cheeky look.

“How far did you get?” asked the model.

He grabbed his dusty-pink T-shirt and snuggled into it tightly.

“Not as far as I would have liked,” I replied.

“Let’s see.”

He strolled over to my unfinished work. I was anxious by the thought of only a patch of denim between me and the model’s private bulge. I concentrated on my artwork and tried not to let the man’s proximity lead me to more wicked thoughts. Who was I kidding?

I had to divert my attention to our teacher instead, who was heading my way. He was a funky, retired chap. Black thick-rimmed glasses, peppered hair, and beard with a gentle face. The kind of man who’d take long walks with his wife in the park and watch Sunday arts programs on television.

“For the short amount of time you spent on this, you did pretty well for a newcomer,” he said. “But what are these strange lines to his side?”

“Um, I had this desire to add wings to my subject.”

“Wings?”

“I know it’s odd, but you did say at the beginning of class not to be constrained by what we see, and that we all see characteristics differently.”

“Yeah, but wings? Are you picturing our model as some kind of angel?”

“Why not? I’m seeing caring characteristics.”

The young man gave me a saintly smile. The teacher stroked his chin before pointing to the socks I’d drawn.

“Are my ankles really that shape?” the model asked.

He bent over to take a closer look. I wanted to bury my tongue in the nape of his neck and lick off any imaginary sweat.

“Yes, that’s the shape of your ankles,” the instructor replied. He gestured toward a student near the window. “Ian over there did a better job on your ankles, but Adam really did well on your socks. The way the shape of the feet peep through the cotton is not something I expect from a first-timer.”

“Thanks,” I replied. “I used to do a little sketch work last year but only amateur stuff. Still life from things around the house. A clock, fruit, dirty laundry, that sort of thing.”

“Bring in your drawings next week. I’d like to see them.” He spoke up to address the class. “Now let’s check out Ian’s work, and Carla’s. Ian knows his ankles, and Carla’s good with faces.”

We walked over to look at Ian’s sketch as the other students followed. Ian’s careful study of the model’s feet almost made them look bare. Carla captured the man’s cheeky smirk skillfully, making that feature alone the highlight of her image. The budding blond artist did his best work with the chest and hips, although they were considerably more masculine than they needed to be.

We all made the rounds, admiring and commenting on the other artworks before ending back at my attempt. There were unanimous compliments about the socks, sparking the suspicion that I must have a foot fetish. Like anyone, I had my kinks, but sucking toes was not one of them. There’s something about a tinea marinade that just doesn’t float my boat.

“You know, Adam, maybe you’re onto something with the angel wings,” said Carla. “I would have put a wry smile and devil horns on him, just because I think he’s cheeky. But you see him as virtuous.”

“Divine, maybe, but not virtuous,” I replied.

Everyone strolled back to their easels to pack away their portraits except for the appealing model. He stayed to chat. He even helped me roll up the drawing as I studied the way his skillful hands worked with a cylindrical object.

“I’ll be back here in a couple of weeks if you want to finish the picture. They use me at least once a month.”

“Getting naked doesn’t bother you?”

“I have open-minded parents. They used to take me to nudist beaches when I was a kid.”

“Only child?”

“Only child.”

“Spoiled?”

“A bit. Still am, I suppose, even living away from home. Mum’s always dropping off baked dinners or cookies for me and my flatmate. You’d think we can’t fend for ourselves.”

“I’m Adam,” I said.

I raised my hand, and he shook it firmly.

“Mannix. Please don’t ask what my parents were thinking when they came up with that name. On marijuana or something.”

“I like it.”

“I want to change it, eventually.”

“What to?”

“At this stage, I haven’t a clue.”

“Keep it. It sounds like the name of a secret agent.”

“Yeah, a pretty lame one at that.”

Mannix handed me my picture as I beamed at him, probably resembling a lonely bachelor with a crush on an enigmatic porn star.

“I’m honored you were taken with the subject matter,” he teased.

“Between you and me, Mannix, that’s never happened to me before. I’m sorry if I was staring.”

“Not blowing my own trumpet or anything, but Adam, you wouldn’t be the first.” He winked, which kind of made me feel embarrassed. “Do you need a lift somewhere?”

“It’s okay. I have my car.”

Instantly, I regretted this admission of car ownership. Could I grab those words from the air and stuff them back in my mouth? My beautiful partner, Wade, was not going to be home for at least another hour and a half, and maybe, just maybe? I snapped back from my adolescent thoughts and sighed.

“Do you want a nightcap before going home?” he asked.

“Yes!” I replied with the zeal of a henpecked man about to get a lap dance. “I mean, sure. That’s a good idea. Whatever you want. Drink. Good suggestion.”

“Is that bar on Clarence Street on your way home?”

“As a matter of fact, it is.”

It was actually in the opposite direction.

“Looks like we’ve got a date.”

He walked ahead of me before helping get my pencils and my sketch onto the passenger seat of my car. It was a ten-year-old modest two-door hatch, which Wade and I had bought secondhand. We both used to drive it before my partner fell in love with a flashier sedan he’d found at a dealership.

I thanked Mannix as he walked to the opposite row of vehicles parked at the neighborhood center. The beep of the automatic lock made a sporty little mini double blink its headlights.

The young man eased into his understated luxury car with unassuming confidence. I was a sucker for material items I couldn’t afford, especially this type of tasteful indulgence. Mannix teased his engine before letting his vehicle make its way out of the car park.

I sat there for a minute or two, wondering if I was doing the right thing. After all, I was only going for a drink. Wasn’t I? Guilt was rising through my body. I could see Mannix climbing over me into that imaginary bathtub again. His basket of goodies inviting this old wolf to sample.

I turned the key and started my engine. As I made my way to the street, my thoughts alternated between Technicolor adultery and refined G-rated friendship. Did Mannix have an ulterior motive, or was I full of wishful thinking? It wouldn’t be hard to hide this fling from Wade, even if we just decided to meet up on another night when I was supposed to be at art class.

No, bugger it. Why wait? There was a bathtub waiting at home, and Wade was at his salsa lesson and wouldn’t be home for at least another hour. The tub would be filled to the brim, a bottle of champagne, two glasses, and a Northern soul compilation drifting in from the lounge room.

But then, I wondered what would happen if Wade’s dancing partner, Tim, didn’t need a lift home. He’d be home early. How would I have explained my need to bathe? Perhaps the other students attacked me with their charcoal crayons. Maybe the teacher hated my work so much that I was berated to the point of needing to soak up the tension.

I pictured Mannix on our sofa when Wade came home. I would try several coded words to let my husband know that a threesome was on my mind.

But this wasn’t our style. We didn’t invite costars to our bed. In fact, like most long-term couples we went through phases of being either solely devoted or acting more like two confident individuals. In recent months, we’d behaved like old souls who knew we couldn’t live without each other. We’d hold each other before we fell into slumber and awake needing to possess each other again. But it might have been fun to share that experience with Mannix.

I pulled up in front of the pub, still reeling from my own errant imagination. I took one deep breath to jolt myself back to reality. It didn’t really work. My sense of guilt magnified while I pictured that bathtub again and Mannix’s soft lips cruising toward my own.

“Adam, are you okay?”

My gaze darted to the person who was knocking on the windscreen. It was Mannix, curious to why I was taking so long to get out of my car.

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Meet the Author


Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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Buddy Read Review: Michael, Reinvented (Delta Restorations #2) by Diana Copland

Cute hipster and interior designer Michael doesn’t do love—not after his ex screwed him over. Sex is a different story, though, and the gentle giant who’s painting the mural in the old mansion they’re restoring might be perfect hookup material. Gil is just Michael’s type with his solid muscle, wicked sense of humor, and the hazel eyes that seem to see into Michael’s soul.

Trouble is, Gil does do love. He wants romance and forever, and he’s set his sights firmly on Michael. Michael’s not going there again.

Yet when Michael is the victim of a vandal who’s been plaguing the men working for Delta Restoration, Renovation, and Design, Gil is the first person he tells. No matter how he fights it, it’s becoming harder and harder to deny he’s crazy about the guy—even if that thought terrifies him. But the true fear sets in when the criminal behavior escalates, and Michael realizes he might have lost the chance to tell Gil how he feels—forever.


Michael, Reinvented is a perfect buddy read story and my brain sharing Unicorn, Jenni Lea and I saw horn to horn throughout.

Jenni Lea: 4 Hearts

Michael and Gil have been dancing around one another since they first met, way back in the first book, David, Renewed. Though they had an immediate attraction to each other, Michael has no plans of ever being in a relationship. Hiding behind snark and cynicism, Michael tries his best to keep Gil at arm's length. But Gil is determined to get to know the man behind the glasses and he's not going to let a little thing like a cold shoulder from Michael get in the way.

Now, I know that sounds a bit Creepy McCreeperson, but I can assure you that there is nothing about Gil that is creepy or domineering. Gil may be massive in size and stature, but that's only because he needs the extra strength to carry around the gigantic heart he has. Gil is the quintessential 'gentle giant' and I absolutely adored him.

Michael took a bit more to warm up to but, once I was able to see through his facade and gleaned that his insecurities and the hurt from the past he still held onto were the reasons for his tendency to lash out, I understood why he would act the way he did and grew to love him as well. He did frustrate me at times though, but not enough to make me not like him. And, though it took a near tragedy for him to pull his head out of his ass and admit how he felt about Gil, I admired his courage and dedication. 

This was a lovely addition to the Delta Restorations series. Diana Copland writes with a simple eloquence that makes reading seem effortless. I was never bored, never rolled my eyes and not once did I have to suspend my disbelief. These characters are realistic to the point I could see myself bumping into Michael at Starbucks or hiring the team to do some restoration work on my home. The scene with the Velveteen Rabbit brought tears to my eyes even though I've never read the book and I knew then and there that this story was going to be a win for me.

I really enjoyed the ending as well. Some stories need to end with a bang. Some stories need a cliffhanger to make you gasp and salivate for the next book. Some need the over-the-top, mushy gushy HEA as a grand finale. But sometimes... sometimes all you need is a quiet reaffirming of the love between two people that fought tooth and nail to get where they are. These types of endings tend to resonate with me more than the flashy HEA.

All told, I would definitely recommend this series to anyone who is looking for a realistic story with likable characters and an interesting plot. I do suggest reading book one, David, Renewed, first though, as this book continues the storyline that was introduced there.

Ann: 4 Hearts

I was such a happy Peach when I found out that David, Renewed was going to be turned into the series Delta Restorations. There’re way too many great characters for them to be done. I was so anxious to read Michael’s story, he’s such a snarky little brat on the surface, I wanted to know more about him. It’s pretty obvious from David, Renewed that Michael is going to be pairing with Gil, it’s the perfect opposites-attract setup. That all being said, Michael, Reinvented shouldn’t be read as a standalone. This isn’t one of those series that moves from couple to couple with just a little mention here and there about past characters. This is a series about a group of men finding their happiness on their terms.

Michael, Reinvented is romantic but it’s also so much more. There is a heavy emphasis on friendship and community and there is an element of crime-drama that we got a taste of in David’s story. The vandalism that started in David continues in Michael and it does play a large part in the story. And while I would have loved more Michael and Gil time, the way the story was told it put the real emphasis on the friendships and motivations among all the characters. There was a lot of strength in that telling and it laid more groundwork for additional stories in the series organically. A lot more information about each character was revealed as Michael was integrated into the Delta Renovations crew more fully. We learned more about Michael too and his reticence in entering into a new relationship no matter how much he longed to climb Gil like a tree and cuddle him all night.

I loved that David and Jackson were a big part of Michael’s story and the beginning was delicious and just soooo, them. They set a good example for the rest of the guys. The continuation of their HEA and the big part they play in one another’s lives flowed throughout the story and as the story is told from Michael’s perspective we get plenty of his snark but also a glimpse into how much he’d really like a relationship of his own. Michael is the only one standing in his own way so the angst level is actually pretty low. Gil is a patient, patient man and it’s obvious he’ll be waiting for Michael as soon as Michael pulls his well-coiffed head out of his ass.

It takes a tragic event for that to happen, which while unfortunate, makes sense for Michael. Once he does realize what he could have, the relationship between Michael and Gil moves pretty quickly and by this time the book is just about over and that would be my only gripe. I want more Michael and Gil together. The series is pretty rational in its setups and the flow so the guys don’t necessarily talk about forever, but it’s implied. As a reader, I want to be a part of that journey, much like I was in David and Jackson’s story. I don’t feel like I know Gil enough and I really want to. Michael admits he doesn’t know Gil well since he’s never given him the chance and since we really only know Gil through Michael, we don’t know enough yet and I want to know. So, I hope the next installment of the series continues on with Michael and Gil’s story, I really like Gil and I want to know about his murals (don’t even get me started on the Velveteen Rabbit – there will be tears), his art, his dad and so much more. I also want to see more of Michael’s softer side and to see him settle into some happiness.

I love Diana Copland’s writing, it’s so easy to get caught up in her stories and characters. Everything just flows so well and I feel like anything I might be missing isn’t actually missing, it just hasn’t been addressed yet which is what is making the Delta Restoration series such a treat. It’s a whole world I get to see come together and evolve with characters I want to know in RL. I feel invested in their happiness which makes me all kinds of happy along with them.




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