Tag Team Review: Shelter the Sea (The Roosevelt #2) by Heidi Culllinan

Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn't a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

4.75 Heart average!


Chelsea - 5 Hearts


…..there was a man named Emmett who loved a man named Jeremey. These two men had to fight the mean King who wanted to take away their home and their friends happiness. Even though everything seemed to be against Jeremey and Emmett, when they had each other they were courageous and brave and could defeat anything.


“When you’re with me, Emmet Washington, I always feel as if I could do anything in the world.”


There's not much I can say that will express how much I love this story, together with it's predecessor. They're sooooo emotional, but in a heartwarming and feeling-with-the-characters type of way not a my-heart-is-bleeding-on-the-floor type of way. I couldn't put this book down! Emmett and Jeremey completely steal my heart and I will always want to read more of them!


Anyone who hasn't read this series definitely should! Cannot wait for the other books to come out!


I shut my eyes and imagined this, Jeremey and Darren and David and Kaya and me standing on a beach, holding our oceans while we guarded other people like us as they scooped up their waters and found a place to stand.


Adam - 4.5 Hearts


Carry the Ocean was one of my favourite reads of 2015. Jeremy and Emmet, and The Roosevelt, completely captured my heart.

In this sequel, readers will get all the feels, complex characters, and needed social commentary that made book 1 so great.

Two years after Emmett and Jeremy found love and community at The Roosevelt, their lives have settled into a routine. They’re still going strong, and couldn’t imagine life without one another. But Jeremy’s depression is getting worse, something he and Emmett have no control over.

To make matters worse, The Roosevelt is in trouble after the state mental health system is restructured. Emmett becomes the face of a campaign to hold the state accountable, and to convince the government, and other citizens, that people with disabilities have a right to be heard.

From the beginning of the book, my heart hurt for Jeremy. The hopelessness and emotional turmoil he goes through on a daily basis were heartbreaking. It would have been easy for the author to pretend the Jeremy’s depression was magically cured, but that wouldn’t have been realistic.

Disabilities don’t just disappear. Both Jeremy and Emmett cope with their disabilities as best as they can. For Jeremy, the ups and downs of depression mean that it’s difficult to find a single course of action that works every time.

However, though Jeremy suffers throughout the book and the stress gets to Emmett often as well, what’s never in doubt is how much these two love each other. They never turn away from one another, and are always there when it matters most.

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Emmet and Jeremy’s love story may not be conventional, but it’s one of the most romantic I’ve ever read.

This book is unapologetically political. The Roosevelt, along with other mental health facilities, are in trouble because the government believes that corporate profit is more important than real people with disabilities.

As a Canadian, my stance is a no-brainer: healthcare is a right, not a privilege. Public healthcare systems aren’t perfect, but the data shows that they’re more efficient and equitable than private systems. Heidi Cullinan doesn’t hold back any punches in getting this point across.

I was awed by the strength of Emmett, Jeremy, the other residents of The Roosevelt, and their allies, as they went up against corporate interests in order to save their home.

I ended this book feeling hopeful. We live in troubling times, but we must hope for and work towards a better future.

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I have no doubt that Emmett and Jeremy will always have each other, and will beat any hurdles as they come. I’m looking forward to seeing where Heidi Cullinan takes this series next!

Review: Distant Swimmer by Jacob Cheyenne

Shy and scholarly, long-distance swimmer Ryan Zwick thinks he’s the only gay member of the college swim team. He keeps his head down in the showers, and his head in the books the rest of the time.

But when a sporty new transfer student joins the team, Ryan feels a surge of hope. Sexually inexperienced and looking for love, fellow swimmer Blake Gossens is everything Ryan wants in a boyfriend. But what is Blake’s game, exactly? And just how straight is he?

Blake seems to be more interested in Ryan’s best friend, Marissa, leaving Ryan to go back to secretly checking out his teammates in the pool. But Ryan keeps getting mysterious messages in his dating app from a stranger who seems to know a lot about him. Could this messenger be Blake? Or someone else?

When bad weather hits unexpectedly, Ryan is forced to confront his real feelings toward Blake, while opening up to the stranger by his side, eventually giving in to his wildest fantasies -- and his heart.


I had to re-read the blurb so I knew what I could give away and what I couldn’t. It’s pretty restrictive actually.

Ryan was a nice character. This story is told entirely from his point of view, and so this is his lived experience as he struggles to accept that the dating pool is extremely limiting even though he is at college. His only constant is his swim team. This is where he excels and feels most comfortable. The routine, the water, and the feeling of togetherness that is teamwork for a common goal, all creates a nice comforting space for Ryan to grow.

I enjoyed the backdrop of the swim team. I thought it was a good place to have Ryan while he was settling into his sexuality.

I can’t say I was a fan of either Blake or Marissa. They were both poorly developed characters, and also made out to be flighty and not nice people. I’m not sure why the author chose this tactic, but by the end of the story, I didn’t feel either had redeemed themselves enough for me to think positively of them in Ryan’s life.

I liked the direction the story went in. I enjoyed the supporting characters. I liked the setting, and appreciated the fact that this was a young adult/new adult story, with a lot of the same young fragile feelings that come with being fresh into adulthood and feeling out of place.

I’d recommend this as a slow burn romance. It’s low on angst but does have some drama. It’s mostly a feel good story about a young man and his first relationship.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion




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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Maelstrom by Kass Barrow


Welcome Kass Barrow and Signal Boost Promotions as they celebrate the release of Maelstrom from JMS Books! Check out more info on the sexy tale and enter the giveaway for a chance to win an eBook copy of Maelstrom!







Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK


Length: 69,000 words


Publisher: JMS Books 


Blurb


When Kylor Knightley, a multi-millionaire nightclub owner, is out talent-spotting at an open mic event in London’s Limehouse district, the last thing the stiff-lipped Brit expects is to fall head-over-heels for a devastatingly handsome singer ten years his junior.


Born in New York, twenty-two-year-old Eden McFadden now calls London home and has ambitions of making it big in the capital’s music scene. In the meantime, the feisty free spirit is secretly rocking it as a stripper at a gay club in Soho. But when fate brings him and Kylor together in Limehouse, it starts a chain of events that tears both of their worlds apart.


It’s going to take some serious attitude adjustment for the smart-mouthed stripper and the arrogant British gent to find common ground, but the attraction is too strong to ignore. Sometimes you have to trust in fate and see where it takes you.


Excerpt


Eden was so pumped about meeting the guy with the sparkling turquoise eyes that he couldn’t wait to tell someone. He wasn’t usually one to gossip, but he’d pulled up a chair alongside Blade, who was busy removing his guyliner. Eden was talking to Blade’s reflection in the mirror, relating the moment he’d looked down and seen the gorgeous guy staring back up at him.

Just then someone shouted, “Which of you is green?” and there was the stranger; standing in the doorway next to a security guard.

Eden sat gawking at his visitor and all the strength drained out of his body as if someone had pulled his plug. Blade nudged him. “Don’t just sit there. That’s your guy, isn’t it? God, he really is gorge!”

Eden slowly got to his feet, praying his knees wouldn’t give way, and shoved a shaky hand in the air. “That package is for me.”

The weak attempt at humour was his way of handling the embarrassment he felt because he knew that if the token had been black or pink the security guard wouldn’t have needed to ask whose it was. Everyone knew Stemmy’s tokens were black and Oberon’s were pink. But this was only the second time Eden had handed out a token. The last time he’d invited a guy backstage, his guest had been under the mistaken impression the token entitled him to instant sexual gratification, but Eden hadn’t been that into the guy.

The guard nodded at Eden’s visitor and left.

Still in just his pink briefs, Eden scurried back to his own station and rummaged around in his duffel bag for a clean top. The first thing to come to hand was his old Keep Calm and Carry On Funking T-shirt. He quickly pulled it on and rolled it down his sweat-dampened chest and abs. Then he stood by his dressing table, ready to greet his guest, with one hand resting on the table for support. Eden knew he shouldn’t be getting this worked up over someone he’d only just clapped eyes on. He had no idea what the guy was like. I haven’t even spoken to him yet. Maybe he’s just a good-looking asshole in a suit.

As the guy approached, Eden’s eyes widened in awe. It felt like he was watching the scene through a slow motion filter. He was entranced by the rhythmic sway of the guy’s narrow hips and everything else in the room faded to a blur. The guy’s suit jacket was unbuttoned and his left hand rested inside the trouser pocket, while his right arm hung loose by his side. It was like a breath of self-assured elegance had wafted into the room.

And then there was his hair. It was glorious. A flame-coloured shock of tumbling waves, its hue changed as the light danced over it, like an abstract of wildfire and scorched earth. It jarred with the image of the sophisticated city gent in the cool blue suit. It was hypnotising, the way the picture was so wrong and yet so right.


Eden could tell straight away this guy was no bit player on life’s stage. He had a starring role. You could tell from his arrogant swagger that the only rules he ever played by were his own. He was like a dream come true to Eden. A guy with “Fuck Me” written all over him and a seriously hot “Fuck You” attitude to compliment the looks.

Eden swallowed hard. Where have you been all my life?



Author Bio


Kass Barrow lives 100 miles north of London in a small town in the farming county of Lincolnshire. Despite always having lived in the same area she has seen a fair bit of the world, from the eerie innards of the King’s Chamber in the Great Pyramid, to the majestic vistas that come with snowboarding in the Rockies.


However, none of these life experiences prepared her for the emotional roller-coaster ride of penning a novel. Now she has become so accustomed to having four handsome gents in her life – her husband, her dog and her two main characters – that she can’t imagine life any other way.




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Guest Review: Scar by Baylin Crow

Beard

I just wanted to be left alone. After the disastrous turn my life took four years ago, I swore that I’d never let my guard down for anyone ever again. I left everything I knew behind and started over again. Things were going just fine until nearly six feet of pure temptation walked through the doors of my bar. It’s been a year and I’ve done a pretty good job of avoiding him. Things change when his friends get him drunk and leave him stranded on his birthday. I shouldn’t have given him a place to crash because now I can’t shake him.

Soccer

He intrigued me from the moment we met, and I haven’t exactly been subtle about wanting him. The green-eyed bartender seems to want nothing to do with me, but I don’t miss the way he watches me when he thinks no one will notice. I’ve let him pretend long enough, and it’s definitely time to make my move. On the field, I face tough competitors every week, but this one will make me work harder than I ever have before. If I want to win, I’m going to have to up my game because he is a pro at pushing me away.

This is a standalone novella with no cliffhanger.


Reviewer: R *A Reader Obsessed*

I’ve got to say, this went down real nice and easy, with plenty of sweet sexy and minimal relationship angst.

Beard and Soccer (they nicknamed each other) have been circling one another for months. Well… Soccer has been pursuing Beard, making it quite obvious about his feelings and intent, but Beard resists, deflects, ignores, and avoids like nobody’s business. Why?? It’s clear he’s equally drawn to the charismatic Soccer, but he’s hiding a very hurtful past, having cut himself off from any potential relationship.

Well you should know, Soccer only sees that as an excellent challenge, and Beard is only so strong.

Both of these characters were likable, and once they were in, they were all in, and it was sexy, with fabulous anticipation, ending with a truly nice finish. (However, I think the author dropped the ball a bit on the potential for more sexual exploration and amping up the intimacy level, as subsequent scenes were sadly, quasi-fade-to-black. Darn!!) BUT, it’s not always about the sex right? (Though it really is). Rest assured, what we got was quite lovely. So, if you like a bit of hurt comfort, as one guy is not afraid to go after what he wants, and the other accepts love once he realizes that it’s possible, then this unfolds very nicely.

Overall, an impressive debut, and hopefully not the last we’ll see from this author.

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

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Review: Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys #2) by Brandon Witt

Vahin Arora, Hamburger Mary’s sexy bartender, plays the flirtatious role so well even his closest friends—his chosen family at Mary’s—don’t realize Vahin hasn’t had a hookup in months. Then Tall, Dark, and Handsome steps through the door, and Vahin’s libido races back to life.

Being a black cop on the Denver police force is no easy job—Marlon Barton can’t imagine adding being gay to the equation. And while Marlon loves his work as an officer, his life has taken a turn for the hellish because of his new partner, the nephew of a senator.

Fleeing his partner’s company one night, Marlon stumbles into Mary’s for the first time… and wakes up with a hangover in the bartender’s bed. The one-night stand heats up into a budding romance, but not without stress as Marlon’s partner’s actions threaten Vahin’s livelihood and Marlon’s future on the force. Can Vahin and Marlon face the challenges and hold on to the love, friendship, and family they’ve found?






If you've read the first book in this series, Nachos & Hash, then you'll remember the sexy bartender Vahin, who was outrageously flirtatious and purported to be quite the player.  We get a closer look at him in this book.  Vahin is in a bit of a slump.  He hasn't had a hookup in months and can't seem to call up any interest in the multitude of offerings at Hamburger Mary's.  That all changes when he spies tall, dark and handsome Marlon entering the bar.

Marlon is having a bit of a hard time himself.  He's been saddled with the worst possible partner on the force and having to put up with the racist dickwad is taking it's toll.  Pulling up to his usual watering hole, he sees his partner's flashy douchemobile and decides then and there that he just can't deal with him right now so he drives around town for a bit until he comes across Mary's.  It's as good a place as any so he decides to check it out.  Many, many drinks later and he's waking up in a stranger's bed with a monster hangover and a vague recollection of the wild night before.


I liked that both Marlon and Vahin are mature characters, though by far means not old.  It's nice to see characters in their mid to late thirties rather than the eighteen to twenty year olds that are abundant in this genre.  I also liked that the sex wasn't at the forefront of the story.  Sometimes I feel that when sex is prevalent it tends to distract from the plot.  Not the case here.  There was just enough to set the scene, offering little peeks before continuing on with the story. 


I can't decide if this book suffers from second-in-a-series syndrome or if it was just too short but I felt something was missing.  While I liked what I read, I needed more.  More romance, more interaction between the characters, more depth to the plot.  More pages to the book... just more.  It felt more like the beginning of a book than a complete story.  But that's what I usually get when I read a novella which is why I tend to read longer books.  I like to get lost in a story but I find that hard to do when it ends before it ever really gets going.  It's probably why I don't watch much TV either.  

I still liked this story though, and I am eager to read the next one in this series.  Witt gave us a sneak peek into the third book and I'm very intrigued.  A doctor and a drag queen?  Seems like a match made in heaven to me.





https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/vodka-handcuffs-by-brandon-witt-8349-b


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34472937-vodka-handcuffs



Did you see the Vodka & Handcuffs (Mary's Boys #2) blog tour stop HERE?

Giveaway + Blog Tour: Faking It (A Ringside Romance Novel) by Christine d'Abo


Christine d'Abo's here today talking about her latest Ringside Romance novel, Faking It.

Be sure to enter to win a $25 Riptide credit below. Good luck!



Hello, my name is Christine d’Abo and I’m so happy to be here today.

I’m a firm believer that the good friends are the family members that we get to choose. The get us on a level that sometimes our biological family doesn’t. When I came up with the idea of Ringside Gym and the men who were involved with it, I wanted to make sure that their relationships reflected that feeling.

Max would be the “middle” child of the trio of heroes. He’s my peacemaker, the one who wants to make sure everyone and everything is okay. But Max has a problem – he doesn’t know what to do when he’s not needed. Zack no longer needs him now that he has Noland in his life, and their other friend Eli has been MIA due to his MMA career. Max’s life begins to drift and he questions not only what he wants, but also who he wants in it.

When Grady Barnes shows up on the scene, Max is equal parts intrigued and annoyed. Here is a man who seems to have it all, but is seemingly at the whim of his father. When Grady asks Max for help, he takes a leap of faith and agrees. What Max doesn’t anticipate is how quickly Grady will work his way into his heart.

All Max needs to do is find a way to prevent Grady from being forced into a marriage he doesn’t want, while not giving in to his impulse to sweep Grady into his arm.

Simple, right?

You can visit Christine at her website www.christinedabo.com, and chat with her on Facebook and Twitter. Want to keep up with Christine’s new releases? Sign up for her newsletter and receive a free book!


About Faking It

Max Tremblay should be happy. His nightclub, Frantic, is one of the most popular gay clubs in Toronto, and his childhood refuge, Ringside Gym, is well on the way to reopening. But when he finds yet another drunk in the alley beside the bar, Max isn’t sure this is the life he truly wants.

Grady Barnes has it all. He’s rich, famous, and wants for nothing. Well, nothing but a good relationship with his father. When he discovers that his father is going to force him into an arranged marriage, Grady has had enough. He tracks down Max, the man who got him to safety after a night of overindulgence, and makes him a proposal: pretend to be his fiancĂ© for two weeks and he’ll invest in Ringside Gym.

When the pair travel to Vancouver to attend a family wedding, the flames of their mutual attraction ignite, and they discover that the only difference between pretend and reality is how well they can fake it.

Now available from Riptide Publishing.

http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/faking-it


About the Ringside Romance Universe

Deep in the heart of Toronto lies Ringside Gym. Once a safe haven for troubled teens, Ringside has gone derelict, a forgotten memory of past days. Until a group of friends set out to do what they can to bring life back to the ring and create a new home for LGBT youths.

But when their lives threaten to pull down their dreams, each man must turn to others to help make it a reality. Winners take all—but there are no losers in love.

Check out Ringside Romance.

http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/universe/ringside-romance


About Christine d’Abo

A romance novelist and short story writer, Christine has over thirty publications to her name. She loves to exercise and stops writing just long enough to keep her body in motion too. When she’s not pretending to be a ninja in her basement, she’s most likely spending time with her family and two dogs.

Connect with Christine:

Website: christinedabo.com
Blog: christinedabo.blogspot.ca
Facebook: facebook.com/AuthorChristinedAbo
Twitter: @Christine_dAbo
Tumblr: christinedabo.tumblr.com
Pintrest: pintrest.com/christinedabo
Goodreads: goodreads.com/christine_d_abo



To celebrate the release of Faking It, one lucky winner will receive a $25 Riptide credit. Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 13, 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: Nate and the New Yorker by Kevin Klehr

2nd Edition
Cameron has it all. He’s rich, lives in Manhattan, and even has a cross-dressing butler. But then he meets Nate, an Australian who’s bitter about love. Cameron is determined to turn this realist into a dreamer by sharing his world of classy restaurants, Broadway shows, and fabulous parties. And while Nate’s friends see the makings of a fantasy romance, it’s Nate who has to learn that in order to open his heart, he has to face a painful secret.










Reviewer: Shee Reader

Nathan works in a coffee shop in Sydney. Our story opens with him on holiday with his friends Ben and boss Lucy. In Prague, as they get ready to return to Australia, they meet a charming and handsome man from the US. Cameron is a rich playboy who after their meeting in Prague, pursues Nate hard and fast. Nate visits New York and Cameron tries to woo Nate by spoiling him, but Nate still feels distant from the real Cameron.

There is lots of travel and jet-lag in this little book, and a wonderful duo of the lesbian aunt and transvestite butler! There is a super twist too, that was unexpected and dealt with beautifully.

The relationships are realistic and I enjoyed the banter between Nate and his friends. I didn’t really like Cameron until he’d been to visit Nate in Sydney, and the prefixes to names the characters used in conversation grated on me after a while. In all though, this was a sweet easy read that had nice character development. If you fancy a short, sweet romance with a twist, give this one a try.

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


https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34807744-nate-and-the-new-yorker

Review: Operation Better Tomorrow (Rock-Hard Heroes #2) by Brandi Evans

The interview of a lifetime.

When Aaron Strickland is assigned to write a feature article on Caleb Douglas, the first openly gay soldier to receive the Medal of Honor, he’s over the moon. Meet a sexy, real-life hero? Yes, please. And in the weeks leading up to their interview, the former soldier becomes a recurring player in Aaron’s fantasies.

A man Caleb can’t forget.

Years earlier, lost in the throes of depression and PTSD after an ambush left his body and soul scarred, Caleb was on the brink of giving up when a magazine article changed his life forever--an article written by Aaron. Emerging from the depths of his pain, Operation Better Tomorrow--part homestead, part halfway house for those down on their luck--was born.

Tragedy lurking on the horizon.

As the days pass, Caleb and Aaron’s tragic pasts bind them in ways they aren’t prepared for, but it also leaves them vulnerable. Pushing forward means breaking down walls they’ve built to protect themselves, and just as they’re poised on the precipice of happiness, darkness descends on the homestead--a hatred that will leave one man clinging to life and the other willing to risk everything to save him.


Aaron and Caleb *happy sigh*.

These two men are beautiful. I fell for them both within minutes of reading this book, and I stuck with them through the entire story. Not once did I want to shake either of them, nor did they create unnecessary drama. While the relationship development was quick, and somewhat rocky, I was convinced of their instant spark and had no problem with how quickly they fell for each other. There was some hesitation, and some old wounds that needed patching, but it added to their development together.

The story set up was great. A photographer/reporter come to interview an honored veteran at a Ranch developed for caring for vulnerable and lost people. I was enchanted by Caleb’s vision, and how Aaron captured that in imagery. I really appreciated the rich descriptives used for the scenery and the photography. Without it, the premise would have fallen flat. The writing was tight, and the style flowed easily.

The subplot was intriguing, if a little uncomfortable. I wanted mushy and squishy, but there was some drama and external angst. I appreciated it, but I could have done without it. These two had enough to carry the story.

The secondary characters were as interesting as the main characters, and I loved Aaron’s mother.

There is a spot appearance of Tyler and Dean in this story, from book one, but this can be read as a standalone in my opinion (I actually read book one after this one, so I speak from experience).

If you’re looking for something feel good, with two slightly bent characters who support each other and have great chemistry this is the story for you.

A review copy was provided for an honest opinion



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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter


Welcome Robert Winter and IndiGo Marketing to the stable as they celebrate Winter's latest book, Every Breath You Take. See our review HERE.
The author is giving away 5 signed copies of the title! Good luck!


Title: Every Breath You Take
Author: Robert Winter
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 221 pages
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense



Synopsis


When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.

Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.

But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

Exclusive Excerpt


In Every Breath You Take, a young gay man has been murdered, and the initial investigation turns up a connection to Thomas Scarborough. The Washington, DC, police detective assigned to the case is named Maria Torres. Torres was a lot of fun to write and I plan to use her more in future books. Here is the scene in which she is introduced, where she visits the gay bar Mata Hari to interview the owner, Randy Vaughan.


The door to the bar opened, and Randy glanced up and immediately stiffened. Twenty-five years in law enforcement let him recognize a cop as soon she walked in, even wearing plain clothes.
Her black hair was pulled back into a tight ponytail, and she wore a fitted, gray wool coat paired with dark jeans and boots with thick heels. At a guess she chose the heels to add to her height. She’d be about five foot five in bare feet. Randy covered a smile as he spotted a couple of women on one of the sofas discreetly check her out as she crossed the room to the bar.
Randy thought quickly. No, his liquor license was up to date, and his permit for the gun he kept beneath the bar in case of trouble was also current. It must be about something else.
The woman offered a badge as she reached him. “Good evening, sir. I’m Detective Torres, Metropolitan Police Department.” Randy glanced at the MPD badge and then back at her. “Do you have a minute for a few questions?” she asked.
“Sure,” he said.
Detective Torres pulled a photo out of the inside pocket of her jacket and handed it to him. “Do you recognize this man?”
Randy studied the picture. The face did look familiar—blond hair, hipster beard, and glasses. He was too young and scrawny for Randy’s tastes, but fairly nice-looking. “I think he was in here a few times, maybe,” Randy said after a minute.
Torres accepted the picture back as she said, “He lived in the neighborhood. We’re looking for information on where he liked to hang out, who he knew.”
“Knew? Lived?”
“His name is Brian Gallagher. He was murdered in his apartment about ten days ago.” Torres watched his face carefully, but Randy didn’t fake his surprise.
“I heard someone was killed, but it didn’t occur to me it might be someone who came in here.”
“The victim talked to a friend the night he was murdered, and he mentioned that he had just left a bar. Do you think it was this one?”
“What night was this?” Randy asked. He tried to think. He was usually good with faces, and a crawling sensation began to climb through his gut as his memory worked.
“Saturday before last. The thirteenth,” Torres told him. “His friend said he came to meet a man but left early and went right home. From her phone log, this would have been about ten p.m.”
Randy nodded. “Yeah, I remember him now. He came up to the bar to talk to one of my customers and started rubbing up against him. The customer turned him down, and the kid—Brian, you said?—started making a scene and then stormed out.”
“Do you know the customer’s name?”
Randy sighed to himself but tried to keep his face neutral. “Yes. It’s Thomas Scarborough. He’s actually an investor in the bar and a friend of mine.”
Torres wrote notes on a pad. Without looking up, she asked, “Did Mr. Scarborough follow him out?”
Randy shook his head. “No. He was at the bar quite a while after Brian left. I can give you some other names to corroborate that.”
Torres flashed a glance up at him. “Ex-cop?” she asked.
“I was a Secret Service agent until I retired last year. This is my bar.”
Torres looked around and nodded. “Nice place.” She focused again on Randy. “Did you see anyone else follow Gallagher out?”
“No, I didn’t notice anything like that. Saturdays are pretty busy, and there were a lot of people coming and going.”
“I’d like to talk to Mr. Scarborough. Can you give me his phone number?”
“No, but I’ll give him your card if you leave one. He’s at a conference in Tokyo, I think, but he’s due back Sunday.”
“You know his travel schedule?” Torres asked, her dark eyebrow arched.
“Like I said, we’re friends,” Randy explained with a shrug. Torres asked his name, and he gave it. As she continued to scribble notes, he tilted his head toward the photo and said, “Papers called it brutal. Gay bashing?”
Torres considered his question for a moment and then said, “We don’t think so. It appears he was targeted, but the attack was sexual in nature.”
“Shit. Poor kid.”
“Yeah. Here’s my card,” Torres said as she slid the small rectangle across the bar. She held the card down with her manicured nails, which were cut short and carried no nail polish. Randy approved the lack of color. It supported the air of gravity Torres cultivated. “I’d like to hear from Mr. Scarborough Monday morning so I don’t need to make another trip over here.” Randy nodded. Torres looked around the room one more time, and then her bootheels clicked lightly across the floor of the bar.


I hope this snippet has you intrigued. You can find out more about the book or any other writing at my website.


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Meet the Author


Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.

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Blog Tour Schedule


May 8 - Stories That Make You Smile | Books, Dreams, Life
May 9 - two chicks obsessed Wicked Faerie's Tales and Reviews
May 10 - Oh My Shelves | Butterfly-o-Meter Books
May 11 - Bayou Book Junkie | Boy Meets Boy Reviews
May 12 - Urban Smoothie Read | Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Giveaway + Blog Tour: Bend by Nancy J. Hedin


It's Bend tour day! Big clubhouse welcome to Nancy J. Hedin.

Don't miss out on the $20 Amazon Gift Card below! Good luck!




About Bend


Lorraine Tyler is the only queer person in Bend, Minnesota. Or at least that’s what it feels like when the local church preaches so sternly against homosexuality. Which is why she’s fighting so hard to win the McGerber scholarship—her ticket out of Bend—even though her biggest competition is her twin sister, Becky. And even though she’s got no real hope—not with the scholarship’s morality clause and that one time she kissed the preacher’s daughter.


Everything changes when a new girl comes to town. Charity is mysterious, passionate, and—to Lorraine’s delighted surprise—queer too. Now Lorraine may have a chance at freedom and real love.


But then Becky disappears, and Lorraine uncovers an old, painful secret that could tear the family apart. They need each other more than ever now, and somehow it’s Lorraine—the sinner, the black sheep—who holds the power to bring them together. But only if she herself can learn to bend.


Now available from Riptide Publishing. http://www.riptidepublishing.com/titles/bend


About Nancy J. Hedin


I grew up in a small town in central Minnesota. That small town sensibility informs my writing and gives me interesting voices in my head and I strive to choose which voice to bring to the page.
I live in St. Paul with my partner, two daughters, one dog, one beared dragon, and two cats.


I have worked as a mental health crisis worker for over twenty years.
I love reading and getting my books signed by the author. I daydream about my own stories in book form and having others read them.


Connect with Nancy:




To celebrate the release of Bend, one lucky winner will receive a $20 Amazon gift card! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 13, 2017. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following the tour, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Guest Audiobook Review: Everyday History by Alice Archer

Headstrong Ruben Harper has yet to meet an obstacle he can’t convert to a speed bump. He’s used to getting what he wants from girls, but when he develops a fascination for a man, his wooing skills require an upgrade. After months of persuasion, he scores a dinner date with Henry Normand that morphs into an intense weekend. The unexpected depth of their connection scares Ruben into fleeing.

Shy, cautious Henry, Ruben’s former high school history teacher, suspects he needs a wake-up call, and Ruben appears to be his siren. But when Ruben bolts, Henry is left struggling to find closure. Inspired by his conversations with Ruben, Henry begins to write articles about the memories stored in everyday objects. The articles seduce Ruben with details from their weekend together and trigger feelings too strong to avoid. As Henry’s snowballing fame takes him out of town and further out of touch, Ruben stretches to close the gaps that separate them.

Run time: 9 hrs 53 mins
Narrated by Daan Stone




Reviewer - R *A Reader Obsessed*

Affecting!

”Sex please, hold the love”

That is the mantra of Ruben. Charismatic, confident, everyone’s best friend. People flock to him to bask in his light, but Ruben’s barely a man, and when he surprisingly develops a crush on his high school teacher, he finds himself changed, intrigued, and determined to discover exactly what it is about Henry that makes him so enticing.

Henry and Ruben are vastly different in all the ways that could possibly count - looks, personality, age, and especially where they are in their lives. However, once Ruben graduates, they act on their attraction, and it’s explosive and intimate. In such a short time, they reveal and learn about the other with an intensity that far surpasses every prior experience… but just because they’re perfectly perfect for one another, they both know that Ruben is just not ready for such a commitment. They kindly use the other to take the next step towards a new chapter in their lives and part ways.

Not surprisingly, things don’t go as planned. Ruben is forever, irrevocably changed and compares everyone he meets to Henry, being unable to let go but stubbornly staying away. It doesn’t help matters at all when Henry starts his successful column commenting on the significance of what many would deem benign or ordinary possessions. He claims that so many of the items we own, all carry important meaning and value - whether it triggers a feeling, represents a life event, or brings up memories about a special person, and in Henry’s case, that person is often Ruben. When Ruben discovers this, it gets harder and harder to not be so mind blowingly affected, and he gradually realizes what needs to be done. Thus, a journey begins for both men - one chasing, the other trying to move on.

What can I say except that this was really beautifully written. It’s descriptive, evocative, sensual. You too, will be touched and moved by Henry’s musings, just like Ruben. You'll also feel Ruben’s own regret and desperation as he starts to form a plan and hopes he’s not too late to rectify past mistakes. The narration overall was very good. As a warning though, Daan Stone hardly varies his voice between exposition and the characters, and personally I had difficulty discerning who was talking at times, forcing me to push the rewind button often. That pales in comparison though, to the prose. This book was detailed in all the ways that were important, wrenching out those emotions and showing what love is - pain, pleasure, regret, how much it can torture, haunt, strengthen, and even grant acceptance and freedom. It showed just how deep that love can go, and where it can humbly start with something so simple as a pen, a photo, or an article of clothing, while at times those things leaving barely an impression, or perhaps, if one is lucky, representing the most important and profound part of the entire rest of your life.


Thanks to the author/publisher for the audio in exchange for an honest review.