Audiobook Review: Hemovore by Jordan Castillo Price

Mark Hansen thought working as artist’s assistant would be glamorous, especially if that artist was a vampire. Black tie events, witty repartee, gracing the pages of the local style section…. Didn’t happen. Not even once.

Jonathan Varga is an enigma. True, he’s quiet, generous, and scrupulously polite. But he has zero social life, refuses to be interviewed or photographed, and insists he can only consume feline blood.

Why supermarket blood won't suffice, Mark hasn’t asked. He’s rarely at a loss for words—he can dish an insult and follow it with a snap as quick as you can say “Miss Thang.” But one look at Jonathan’s black-as-sin gypsy eyes, and Mark’s objections drain away.

So he endures the perpetual grind of their routine: Jonathan hiding in his studio, swiping black paint onto black canvases. Mark hurling insults while he buffs the office to a shine with antiviral wipes. Each of them avoiding the other in a careful choreography…until a blurb in Art in America unleashes a chain of harrowing events.

As secrets from Jonathan’s past are brought to light, it becomes clear that all his precautions weren’t nearly enough.

Second expanded edition includes bonus novelette Sweet 

Narrated by Joel Leslie 
Listening Length 10 hrs 25 mins

For a book that started off with me making a face (not a good one) to end up...

Surprised no one more than I. Talk about finishing strong.

What I had trouble with initially was Leslie's interpretation of Mark and Mark tells the whole story. Mark's a bitchy smartass. Leslie clearly knows this but the problem was I didn't, so I kept thinking, 'why's he so bitchy?'. This is simultaneously the pro and con of an audiobook. Had I read it I would've come to this realization on my own, but having it read to me in that tone had me thinking after 10.5 hours someone might get stabbed. I should've known better. Leslie, once again, does a magnificent job distinguishing and bringing to life all of these characters. Seriously, how many accents can he do?

Once the lightbulb moment occurred Mark began to charm me with his wit, snark and dandyism. He and Jonathan are one of those rare couples that belong together, like, if they're not together the world doesn't make sense and I fell for them. Hard.

As Mark and Jonathan traverse crazed vampire ex-lovers, poverty, grand theft auto, tunnels, underwear in a bag and water of dubious origins there's never any doubt how much they mean to each other. Even when they fight, because they have very little in common, the tension builds and builds.

Hemovore is briskly paced with impressive and creative world building. It's quirky in it's delivery and leaves an indelible mark with its eccentricities especially in its deviation from your average vamp story. Make no mistake, through all the snark and banter there is a poignancy and heartache in this world JCP has created with a divide between V+s and V-s that's chilling in its similarity to the inception of HIV and its similarly polarizing effects.

That measly little symbol is the only thing keeping them apart. Honestly, I was just hoping that they'd at least be able to hold hands at some point! Instead I got a kiss that was truly epic. I know that word may seem trite and overused but in this case it's absolutely true. I think I maybe "accidentally" freebased some of the love heroin they produced.

I was sitting firmly on 4 Hearts until the Sweet novelette happened and I found myself Pretty Woman duck face clapping in my car. Don't worry there were only a couple people around. It's one of the few advantages of living in the sticks. So I figured, if that doesn't merit an extra heart what does?

Recommend to everyone. I think pretty much anyone would find this enjoyable.

 A review copy was provided.

Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Annabelle Jacobs

We're delighted to welcome Annabelle Jacobs into anniversary shenanigans today! She's brought some sexy vamps AND a BOSS giveaway!

Dark Angel

Kal watched from his spot beside the stage, hidden from the club patrons. Every elegant twist and turn of Rax’s body held his attention like nothing else could.
The music stopped.
Rax froze in position; back arched, head thrown back exposing his neck. Kal smirked and spared a glance around the crowd; all focused on Rax like they wanted to eat him.
If they only knew.
Their hungry expressions turned Kal’s stomach and he looked away in disgust.
Once back in the changing room, he slammed the door. Walking over to the dressing table, he braced his hands on the edge, head hung low, eyes closed, and tried to calm his temper.
Moments later the door opened and closed with a soft snick. No other sound signalled anyone had entered, but Kal could sense him. The connection they shared was a living, breathing thing that set his whole body alight.
Rax’s hard form pressed up behind him, and Kal sighed. “You’re still warm.”
“Hmmm….” He ran his nose along the top of Kal’s shoulder, stopping at the crook of his neck and breathing deep. “Your blood flows through my veins. It keeps me that way. Keeps me alive.”
Kal shivered. “Show me how alive you are.”
Soft laughter greeted his words, tickling his neck, and Rax pressed closer. The hard line of his cock made Kal’s breath catch with the way it nestled against his arsecheeks, a promise of what Rax could give him.
Music started up for the next act, muted through the changing room walls, but not enough for Kal to forget where they were. “I hate the way they look at you. Like you’re theirs for the taking.”
“Shh…” Rax gently gripped Kal’s chin and coaxed his head up. “Look at me.”
Kal opened his eyes, their reflection staring back at him. Rax’s pale, smooth body was exquisite; no flaws marred his skin, his muscles lean but beautifully defined. Kal’s lip curled at the black gauze wrapped around Rax’s body. It fanned out behind him like wings, earning him his stage name: Dark Angel.
Rax smoothed a thumb across Kal’s bottom lip. “Don’t be jealous. You know I’m yours.”
Dark eyes met Kal’s gaze in the mirror, heavily outlined with kohl. They took his breath away, as though Rax saw into his very soul.
“Say it.”
“You’re mine.” Kal licked his lips, and his tongue caught the pad of Rax’s thumb, making him hiss.
“And?” Rax gently tilted Kal’s head to the side.
“And I’m yours.”
“Yes.” He dipped his head and kissed the base of Kal’s throat. “I want to taste you.” A hint of fang ghosted over Kal’s skin, and Kal moaned, his jeans becoming uncomfortably tight. “I know I fed last night, but I won’t take much, I promise.” Rolling his hips, Rax teased out another moan, then slid a hand slowly down Kal’s chest until he reached the front of his jeans. “You want me.” He palmed Kal’s erection, squeezing gently.
“Always.” Kal let his head fall back onto Rax’s shoulder, exposing more of his throat. “Take it.”
The words were hardly out before he felt the sting of teeth.
“Oh fuck.” Kal clung to the edge of the dressing table as Rax drank from him. He stroked Kal through the denim of his jeans, expertly bringing him to the edge without ever touching him properly. And like all the times before, he waited for Kal to ask for it. To beg.
“Touch me,” Kal murmured. “Please.”
With a quick flick of his wrist, Rax had the button open and zip down.
Yes,” Kal breathed out, as Rax wrapped his hand around Kal’s cock.
He stroked him fast and hard while he drank from his neck, and Kal closed his eyes, already so close to coming.
“Look at me,” Rax urged, and Kal glanced up to meet his gaze in the mirror. “You are mine.” Rax licked the blood from his fangs and his grip tightened.
Kal cried out, spilling over Rax’s fist.

Holy smokes! Don't ya just ❤️ a possessive vamp? Be sure to let Annabelle know your thoughts in the comments below!

About the author:

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with her three rowdy children, and two cats.

An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They're usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end.

Find her at:

Twitter: @AJacobs_fiction

Enter to win a backlist ebook & a $10 amazon gc! Giveaway ends 11/18 @ Midnight EST. Good luck!

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We Unicorns thank Annabelle for helping us celebrate our anniversary!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway HERE! It ends 12/1/17!

Trivia Question: What fantasy AU erotic series centers around gods & their doxies? 15 pts

Review: Whiskey Kisses by Anna Martin

In a small town about an hour's drive outside Dublin, there’s a whiskey distillery.

Jim has worked in the distillery as its business manager since he returned to his home town after getting his degree. Whiskey is a slow business and rural life is quiet, but Jim takes it in his stride. That is, until the handsome and mysterious Mr Aiden Rooney moves into a room above the local pub and sets off a flurry of gossip.

Aiden’s an artist, and his devil-may-care attitude is a revelation to Jim. But he still lives in a small town in rural Ireland, and he’s not even sure if he wants to be out and proud. The choices they make could change everything, if only Jim dares to follow his heart.

As I settled back into the life and the town I’d walked away from, to my utter shock I found I loved it.

Jim O’Shaughnessy has returned to his home town of Kilglass, Ireland after leaving for the big city of Dublin to get his degree in business and the recession hitting. Jim never though he’d return after he left at age 18 but life happens and now he’s back amongst the green and his family, though he isn’t living life to the fullest.

As Jim tells us his story, we know that he isn’t out to his family save the one time he mentioned to his sister Brigette he liked boys too but isn’t sure she remembers. His family is a bit nutty as a big Irish family should be and at the age of 11 Jim was in an accident involving one of his sister’s horses which resulted in his left arm […] destined to be shite from that day forward. The disability of his arm is just one reason Jim left to attend University since he can’t follow into the family business of building.

Working as the business manager at the local whiskey distillery during the day, stopping in at the pub to get lunch and returning to his custom built home fills Jim’s days in the small rural town. When an outsider rents a room above the pub, talk begins to swirl around the “artist” himself and Jim’s sister has found herself a crush. When Jim happens to literally run into the artist and finds himself staring in the eyes of Mr. Aiden Rooney, he can’t find fault in his sister’s taste.

From the meet cute with Aiden and Jim to the moment Aiden plops himself down next to Jim at the bar and begins flirting I was in love. These two have a genuine chemistry that was felt immediately and as the reader, you know Jim isn’t out yet so when Aiden asks him out, my heart was in my throat. Thank goodness Aiden is one of the good guys and gets where Jim is coming from so they decide on dinner, as friends. Of course that led to dinner at Jim’s gorgeous home and one hell of a friendly sleep over where the two men find commonalities among their attraction.

I still couldn’t be sure that this would be the place where I would settle down— it was home, for now, but I wasn’t complete here. Not yet.

This truly is a romance and it’s also a story about two men finding where they fit into the community where they plan to live. Aiden is okay with Jim not being out and is satisfied with taking it all at Jim’s pace. When Jim has the fear of Aiden leaving him, we get the sweetest moment with Aiden being super swoony with his declaration to not leave. When it’s time for Jim to come out to his mam, we get another heartfelt moment between mother and son and then Jim meets Mrs. O’Shaughnessy and I needed a moment. This story may be short but it’s packed full of emotions and while most of them are sweet and romantic, there is a hiccup of angst when the couple becomes too familiar in public.

I find myself wanting to talk about other parts of this story that seems to come up in the genre that are griped about. One in particular is the usual top becoming the bottom but in this, we get the best explanation as to why Jim wants to be with Aiden that way.

Because I wanted all the things I saw in his eyes when I was inside him. Because I knew there were parts of me no one had ever seen. And I wanted him to be the first.Because I was in love with him.

You do different things when you are in love. You act different. You are vulnerable and that vulnerability can be empowering. The ultimate power one has is of yourself, of your sexuality and who you allow to be with you intimately. For Jim it becomes empowering to make the decision to be with Aiden this way. So for me, it wasn’t cliché to have him bottom, it was just his way of being with the man he loved in every way he could.

I know that those who read romance, including myself, want that HEA and this delivers but it’s not the Pride parade sort of HEA. What I mean by that is Aiden and Jim live on their own terms with their relationship and how much they are out to the community. They refuse to deny and hide who they love, even if it means hurting Brigette unintentionally or having rude townsfolk make ignorant comments to them. The love they have for one another is what’s important and they are never false with their feelings, only deciding to keep them private and sharing with those who matter.

Whiskey Kisses is a delightful and sweet romance that is full of quiet moments that hurt in the best way. Moments of buttons, of pencil to paper, of claiming grandmothers, of tokens given and the moments of strength and acceptance of the one you love… yeah, this one was good.

An ARC was provided by the author.

Review: Lavender by Xavier Axelson

Following the sudden death of his father, Lawrence "Law" Crow must not only comfort his bereaved mother, but also find the strength to continue running the family business, a local and beloved lavender farm in the mountains of northern California. At first, consumed with his own grief and struggling to find meaning in life, Law indulges in his vices, mainly by surrendering to his sexual urges with numerous men, all in a desperate battle to forget his pain and to end the emotional turmoil tearing him apart.

But when a stunningly handsome and passionate Spanish soccer player named Garbi suddenly crosses his path, Law discovers light in the possibility of love. Does Garbi have the ability to heal Law's shattered heart, provide him with purpose, and help him fully embrace the joy of living once again amidst the beautiful and fragrant lavender fields?

One of my all-time favorite books is Lily by Xavier Axelson. It wasn’t what I was expecting when I read the blurb, it was so much better and I really fell in love with the author’s writing style. It stuck with me and Lavender is much the same. The author does not write your typical hearts and flowers or perfectly perfect characters. His MC’s are flawed and their encounters are gritty. It’s different and I appreciate how he can pull all the rough edges together and give a plethora of emotions in a few words.

Lavender starts out rough and sad. It’s set against an idyllic backdrop and the contrast made the heartache the characters were feeling more pronounced. Our MC, Law and his parents have made their lives on a lavender farm in northern California. The setting is intrinsically romantic and the bits of backstory about Law’s parents adds to the mood. When we meet Law and his mom, they are consumed by grief though following the death of Law’s dad. It was obvious he was the anchor for this small family and both Law and his mom are grieving hard.

His mom deals with her loss by escaping back home to France where the original lavender plant that started the whole farm came from. Law deals by fucking his way through every willing man he can get his hands on. His rage boning comes from a place of impotent anger where he’s either going to fight or fuck his way through his heartbreak. Both are equally dangerous and frankly, Law just doesn’t care. His interactions with other men are rough, dirty and desperate. He works his way from one to the next with complete disregard for anything other than releasing something and forgetting for a brief bit of time.

At the same time, he works his way through getting the farm back on track bit by bit while avoiding dealing with his father’s final wish to have his ashes spread throughout the fields. The whole mood in the book to this point is unsettling and melancholic. And while Law is not at his finest, I really liked the guy and my heart broke for his angry loneliness. Even if he did get more action than any man on a lavender field has any right to.

But then he meets Garbi and he starts to feel a little something beyond anger. Garbi is a soccer star traveling with his team through Law’s town. I wouldn’t call their first interaction anywhere near a meet-cute, because cute is not something that is done in Lavender, but Garbi does leave an impression and Law knows he wants more. The two don’t waste any time getting together, because waiting is also something that is not done in Lavender, but the two had a serious connection that neither one of them could deny.

The best part of the story is reading about the changes Law undergoes with Garbi. They’re subtle, but that’s how Law is. He’s not one for declarations and Garbi is a good match for him. He’s got that European sensibility about romance that Law needs. Garbi has no shame in enjoying life and he’s very good at expressing himself in few words. Law no longer feels the need to conquer and is ready to give, he needs to with Garbi and he loves every minute of it, even if he doesn’t totally understand it. He knows Garbi can change his life by showing him how to love, but he also know Garbi is only in town for a short time. It was a really bittersweet time and I loved and hated it in turn.

The author doesn’t leave his readers hanging though and the ending it easily one of the better and more optimistic HFNs. Don’t go expecting a book that matches the cover. While the cover is beautiful, it is a little misleading in that the cover fits an expected MM romance that is safe and lovely. Lavender is not safe and it is not typically lovely. It’s raw, tough and honest and I liked reading something outside the norm, it was refreshingly dirty and sneakily romantic. The ending is a little abrupt, but it fit with the mood of the whole story. So, while I wanted just a smidge more of the conversation and where it was going, where it ended wrapped up Law and his journey just right. 

Candles flickered super romantically. It may be corny, but I’ll admit, candlelight adds something to a bath. 

“Why are you smiling?” Garbi asked. 

He’d put his feet on my thighs and slid deeper, so water swirled around his neck. 

“No reason,” I answered, rubbing the arch of his right foot. 

“Is romantic” 

“I’m not romantic.” 

“I am,” he said, unashamed. “Why do men deny this?”

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

Anniversary Shenanigans: Shira Anthony Giveaway!

Shira Anthony is here! Shira Anthony is here!

Excited unicorns are excited!

Some of the unicorns gushed of Shira's recent writings like Sara's review of Forgotten Paradise, a cracky fluff amnesia romance or Sara and SheReadsALot's tag team review of paranormal kitsune/human romance, Finder's Keeper!

See why the unicorns are full of excite, right?

Shira dropped off a sweet party gift for a special someone: 3 titles from her Blue Notes series (including one of SRAL's favorite - Prelude)


Thanks very much for the prize donation, Shira!

The Unicorn Mafia

About Shira

Shira Anthony was a professional opera singer in her last incarnation, performing roles in such operas as Tosca, i Pagliacci, and La Traviata, among others. She’s given up TV for evenings spent with her laptop, and she never goes anywhere without a pile of unread M/M romance on her Kindle. You can hear Shira singing "Vissi d'arte" from Puccini's Tosca by clicking here: Shira's Singing

Shira loves a great happily-ever-after and never writes a story without one. She's happy to write what her muse tells her, whether it's fantasy, sci fi, paranormal, or contemporary romance. She particularly loves writing series, because she thinks of her characters as old friends and she wants to visit them even after their stories are told.

In real life, Shira sang professionally for 14 years, and she currently works as a public sector attorney advocating for children. She's happy to have made writing her second full-time job, even if it means she rarely has time to watch TV or go to the movies. Shira writes about the things she knows and loves, whether it's music and musicians, the ocean, or the places she's lived or traveled to. She spent her middle school years living in France, and tries to visit as often as she can.

Shira and her husband spend as many weekends as they can aboard their 35' catamaran sailboat, Land's Zen, at the Carolina Coast. Not only has sailing inspired her to write about pirates and mermen, her sailboat is her favorite place to write. And although the only mermen she's found to date are in her own imagination, she keeps a sharp lookout for them when she's on the water.

Twitter: @WriterShira

One lucky winner will with three novels from the Blue Notes series: Blue Notes, The Melody Thief and Prelude! Winner's choice of format: eBook or audiobooks!

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The giveaway is open until 12:00AM (EST) on 11/17/17. Shortly thereafter, we will contact a winner!

Please respond to the winning notification within 48 hours or we will choose another winner. Good luck!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway HERE! It ends 12/1/17!

Review: Deeds & Confetti (Mary's Boys #4) by Brandon Witt

A Mary's Boys Novella

Steven Conley loves the excitement of owning his own Hamburger Mary’s restaurant in Denver, Colorado, and his chosen family of coworkers makes life even better. Steven never regretted leaving the corporate grind behind until his father’s harsh deathbed words leaves him doubting himself.

Ryan Fuller abandoned a lucrative career to start his own party-planning business, but he keeps afloat by coordinating funerals for the local mortuary. When Ryan bumps into Steven—his best friend’s uncle and the man Ryan has secretly crushed on forever—the attraction explodes into a night of passionate abandon for both men.

Steven is blown away by the care and deep connection he feels for the hot young mortician—until Ryan admits who he really is. Reeling from the recent upheaval in his life, Steven must decide whether to give Ryan a chance. To find love, they must risk it all....

Brandon pulled out all the stops for this one!  It was my favorite of the series. 

I've been wanting Steven's story ever since I met him way back in Nachos & Hash.  He always seemed so jovial and good natured with a snarky streak in him that ticked all my boxes.  I could see a hint of something behind his eyes though.  Something that hinted at a bit of sadness, which piqued my interest and I couldn't wait to delve into this book so I could find out what it was.

I connected to this book on a deeper, more emotional level than the previous books.  There just seemed to be so much more to Steven than I ever imagined.  He hides his hurt really well, always playing the happy guy who is secure in his place in life.  

I think Ryan was the perfect match for Steven.  Ryan knew this man so well.  He should, since he'd been pining for Steven since he was a teenager.  He may have been confused at first, seeing as how Steven wasn't acting the way Ryan remembered he was, but all it took was seeing Steven at Hamburger Mary's to understand that he was out of his element and thus uncomfortable in his own skin outside of the restaurant.  At Mary's, Steven shone.  There was the man Ryan remembered!

I was afraid the age gap would be too great for me (19-20 year difference), especially since they'd known each other since Ryan was essentially a child, but Ryan had an emotional maturity to him and seemed, at times, to be more stable in his life that Steven was.  And Steven never acted upon any feelings way back when; it was only after he saw Ryan again once he was of age that, really, there even were any feelings.  So, nothing squicky. ;)

I've enjoyed getting to know all the men in this series, especially these two.  I'm a little sad that this is the final book as I'm going to miss these guys.  And ManDonna.  I'm going to miss her something fierce!  And Pat, who was a fabulous character and the best big sister a guy could ever have.

Recommended for light, fun reading with a dash of angst.  And drag queens.

Giveaway + Blog Tour: One Word by Anne Barwell

Welcome Anne Barwell! She's making her clubhouse debut with BOTH a deleted scene and an excerpt of her new novel, One Word! Be sure to enter her giveaway of a $10 DSP gift card too! Good luck!

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for One Word, the 3rd book in my Hidden Places series from Dreamspinner Press.

With One Word being a side novel to book one in the series—Cat’s Quill—I had to walk a fine line between writing a story that new readers could follow, but existing readers would still enjoy. There is a scene set in the library where Donovan and Ethan search for clues as to who Cathal is, and how he is connected to the stories of someone in Oakwood by the same name in 1918. That scene was originally a lot more detailed and showed a clue they did find, but in the finish I decided to cut some of it out. I’m sharing that missing bit with you now. ...


“Look at this.” Donovan held a copy of an old black and white photograph. Judging by the clothing worn by the people in the background, it had been taken nearly a hundred years ago. The building behind them stood in ruins, but it was the two men who were the subject of the photo that caught Ethan’s attention.

Neither of them seemed to have noticed the camera, although one of the men appeared to be looking at something or someone behind the photographer. They both wore long boots with their trousers tucked into them, and their hair was longer than was fashionable for the period. The man on the right wore a loose shirt—the top buttons were undone. His face was marked with soot, and held a child close to him, protecting her. She didn’t look to be more than five years old. A young boy, much the same age, clung to his leg.

“Who is that?” Ethan knew he’d seen both those men somewhere before, but it took him a few moments to make the connection. “Bloody hell. It’s—”

“Alice’s husband, Christian, and....” Donovan shook his head and turned the photograph over. “Library fire, 1918,” he read.

“It doesn’t give any names,” Ethan said. “May I?” He took the photograph from Donovan and studied it. “The man with the kids is his cousin, Cathal. I recognise him from the sketches Alice did, although I....”

“I thought those sketches might have been faked despite them supposedly being close ups of that painting hanging in the inn.” Donovan confirmed what Ethan was thinking. “The ones of Cathal then and now looked too similar. I knew the one Mikey drew was real as it’s definitely Cat and Tomas saw him draw it, but the one in 1918... No one looks that much like their great-whatever grandfather. It’s too much of a coincidence.” He peered more closely at the photograph, and then pointed to the man with the children. “That’s Cat, Ethan. He’s the man I met, I’m sure of it. I told myself it couldn’t be when I saw the sketch but...” He pointed to Cathal in the picture. “Even the style of clothing he’s wearing is similar.”

“That’s crazy,” Ethan said, “and makes no sense. How can it be the same man? This was taken nearly a hundred years ago. You saw Cathal last week.”

“I asked him whether he was a time traveller,” Donovan said. “He said he wasn’t but he claimed an old poetry book was his. I figured Mikey might have copied his great-grandmother’s style and drawn something for his granddad, and used Cathal as a model. He and Christian are quite similar in looks after all, but....”

“Photographs can be faked too,” Ethan pointed out, “but this is a library archive. Why would they? I don’t see the point.” He didn’t get any of this. Instead of finding answers, they’d discovered something that must be impossible.

“There is one other explanation,” Donovan said, “but as things go it’s out there.”

“More out there than your theory about time travel, and some bloke looking exactly like his great-grandfather?” Ethan asked.

“Yeah.” Donovan flushed. Whatever this new theory, it had to be a real doozy. “You know the stories of the ghost? What if I was wrong and I had seen him. Maybe that’s what we’re looking for and why we can’t find him.”

“You said you saw him and Tomas kissing?” While it was an interesting theory, Ethan could see the holes in it almost immediately. “And you touched him, right?”

“I didn’t but Tomas did, and he held that book I told you about in his hand. He was real, as real as you and I are now.”

“So he can’t be a ghost,” Ethan said firmly. “Ghosts are incorporeal.”

Or at least they were supposed to be, if the research he’d read about the subject was to be believed.

Donovan didn’t look as convinced. “Perhaps we need a description of this ghost,” he said. “Mikey’s dad lived at the inn before they sold it. I’ll ask Phoebe if we can take a copy of this photo. Even if he didn’t see the ghost, he might know of someone who has.”

“Maybe,” Ethan said. He doubted it was going to be that easy. God, what was wrong with him, discussing ghost sightings as though they were real? He’d never put much stock in any of that stuff. “I hate to admit this, but I’m thinking your time travel theory sounds more likely.”

“Yeah,” Donovan said, “and although Cat denied it, it doesn’t mean he was telling the truth. He spoke in riddles half the time and a lot of stuff he said didn’t make sense. It’s all about perspective.” He flicked through the photographs on either side, but there wasn’t anything there that was useful. It seemed to be the only photograph connected to the night of the fire. “Listen to us. I can’t believe I’m contemplating this.”

“That makes two of us.” Ethan placed a brief hand on Donovan’s shoulder, then removed it when he realised what he’d done. “Why don’t you go talk to Phoebe about making that copy? I’m going to hunt through the 1918 newspapers for anything else about the fire. If nothing else, I think we’ve found a place to start searching.” Someone had to have taken the photograph, and if there was one, there might be others stored somewhere else. “We’ll find this bloke, one way or another, whatever it takes.”


A Hidden Places Story
Ethan Leavitt arrives in the idyllic village of Oakwood to search for a missing friend. Having always prided himself on his ability to find rational explanations, Ethan’s trust in concrete evidence and logic is tested by the mystery of Oakwood and Tomas’s disappearance.

Donovan Campbell’s happy, sometimes flippant, exterior hides a past he’d rather forget. As he struggles with his memories and to hold on to the inn he owns with his best friend, the last thing Donovan needs is for some guy he’s only just met to start getting under his skin. When a bank robbery escalates into a dangerous situation, Donovan must embrace a part of himself he can no longer ignore in order to save a future that might never have the chance to exist.

Ethan learns that often the person you’re looking for is not the one you find. But have he and Donovan both realized that too late…?


“I’m so sorry, Jane,” Ethan said, “and I apologize for my insensitivity earlier. It was completely out of line.”

She managed a shaky smile. “Thank you for being understanding. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I guess it’s a good thing that I have the day off, isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry for kicking you,” Donovan said after she’d left.

“I can be an insensitive jerk at times. Lord knows, I’ve been told that often enough.”

“Not always. You’ve got a kind side to you too.”

Ethan’s concern for Jane had been real enough, as was his mortification that he’d been rude once he’d seen that she was upset.

“You say that like it’s a good thing.” Ethan retrieved his napkin from the side of his plate and wiped his mouth. “Sometimes it’s not, you know. People take advantage. Not that I’m saying she is, but….” He sighed. “Just forget it, okay.”

“Okay.” Donovan wondered who had hurt Ethan and recently. He’d seen enough to connect the dots. “Lots of assholes in this world, unfortunately.”

“And some decent people too. Oakwood’s been good for reminding me of that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay to come to London with me tomorrow?” Donovan couldn’t help but think that something in their conversation had triggered Ethan’s reaction. He’d said Mitchell and Vincent were good friends. Perhaps it was this acquaintance he’d mentioned? The one who had introduced him to them.

“I’m looking forward to it.” Ethan glanced at Donovan’s empty plate. “Have you had enough lunch?”

“Yes, thanks. I was hungrier than I realized.” Donovan finished the last of his beer.

“I went to see the owner of the Chronicle the other day, but he was too busy to talk and suggested we meet briefly today instead. I’m hoping, as he’s been working at the newspaper a while, he can tell me some old stories about Oakwood that didn’t end up in print. You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I need to do some work at the inn this afternoon. We had to replace some weatherboards a few months ago, and I need to get them painted before winter.” Donovan wished he could have said yes, but Heidi was stressing about it. If he didn’t get onto it soon, she’d be out there doing it herself, and she did enough already. Part of their agreement in taking on the inn was that they split the workload between them, and Donovan made sure he pulled his weight. “You’re okay to find your own way back?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Thanks for asking.” Ethan pushed back his chair and walked over to the counter to pay for their meal. “I’ll see you later, at the inn.”

“Okay. Sounds good.” Donovan didn’t follow him immediately but instead stayed at the table watching Ethan at the counter. His hair curled up slightly at the back, his jacket falling to mid-ass, not quite covering it. He had a very nice ass.

Bet he kisses well too.

Oh fuck. Donovan closed his eyes for a moment. Where the hell had that thought come from? He was falling for the guy, wasn’t he—falling for a guy who wasn’t interested and would be walking out of his life in a couple of days.

Donovan heard footsteps walking away. He opened his eyes just in time to see Ethan disappear out the door. It was time to leave and bury himself in the work he needed to get done. He stood and headed for the door, giving Eoin and his friends a wave as he passed their table.

He hadn’t missed the money the three men had given Craig or the grins they all wore.

Donovan groaned. Great, that was all he needed. The pub door slammed as he stalked through it. Yep, they were running another betting pool all right.

It wasn’t his fault they were wasting their time. They’d find that out soon enough for themselves.

Buy Link:

Enter to win a $10 DSP gift card!

You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

(Or, if you prefer here’s a coded list of the sites):
November 3 - Open Skye Book Reviews
November 6 - Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 6 - Top to Bottom Reviews
November 6 - Two Men Are Better Than One
November 6 - Gay Book Promotions
November 7 - Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
November 8 - Happily Ever After Chapter
November 9 - Love Bytes Reviews
November 10 - Boy Meets Boy Reviews
November 10 - Nic Starr
November 13 - The Novel Approach Reviews
November 14 - Dreamspinner Press Blog
November 15 - Aisling Mancy


Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing "discussion," and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as "too many." These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of "spare time" is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards. She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Website & Blog:
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Dreamspinner Press Author Page:
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Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Jane Davitt

Friend of the Clubhouse Jane Davitt is here today with a gripping dystopian fic. There's also an ebook giveaway. See the details below & Good Luck! 

Before I Sleep

The mimic's waiting for me around the corner, floating, shifting from one remembered shape to the next, a roll call of victims as bait.

I eye it with disgust, but no fear. They can't hurt me. Anyone who survived First Wave—not many of us—learned to handle the fucking mimics. I blank my mind, project emptiness, and hold the thought until it quivers and dissipates.

It'll regroup, but by then I'll be gone.

The city reeks of regret, glitters with broken glass, shows me what we once had before the invaders came. We won, but if this is victory it's as insubstantial as a mimic's killing kiss.

I know where I'm going, but each time I make this trip, the journey's more difficult. More debris piled up, more buildings dusted. That goddamn acid spray of theirs. Turned humans to puddles, but it left brick ready to crumble at a touch. I take a left and discover Castle Street's gone, houses swept away as if they never existed. Which means I need to… No, wait, this isn't Castle, it's…

It hits me then. I'm lost in my own neighborhood. Darkness is coming and I can't be in the city and hope to survive until morning. I need to find our house and do what I came to do.

But what's the point? So it would've been Peter's birthday. So I promised we'd always spend it together even if it means risking my life to visit his grave.

He's dead. And if I stay here much longer, I'll join him. I break into a stumbling run, following tracks I made minutes before, the treacherous wind smoothing them out.

Then I see him. Peter. Tall, scruffy beard, kind eyes. He's leaning against a lamppost, whistling softly and when he sees me he smiles and waves.

I know who it is really, but I promised him, and I'm so tired of this journey, of being alone in this empty world—
The kiss is sweet for a moment and I savor it, take it with me into death as the mimic shreds my skin, and scours the flesh from my bones.

Then I'm part of it, like untold millions of others it's consumed, and it's time to start my search. Every mimic holds every victim's memories. The ones we captured, tortured, told us that.

Peter's in here somewhere. My sweet Peter, whose smile turned every Monday into a weekend, whose body welcomed me with generous eagerness, who taught me to see the world as beautiful before they came and made it the hell I'd known it was.

I'll find him.

But God, it's dark. He was my light. Can't find a light without a light and mine's dimmed to nothing but a flicker.

Guess it was enough for him to find me.

Eternity in here isn't long enough now I'm not alone.

Wow, right? Be sure to let Jane know what you thought in the comments below.

About the Author

I'm English by birth, but I moved to Canada twenty years ago, so I have two places I call home. I started writing in my thirties, hammering out millions of words of fanfic with a growing sense that yes, this was something I could do, wanted to do, needed to do.

A decade ago, I became a professional writer of m/m romance and I've never regretted my choice of career. Back then, telling people what I wrote got me raised eyebrows or puzzled looks. Times have changed. Now m/m romance is thriving and I'm happy to be one of the many writers contributing to this always evolving and expanding genre.

[Free reads and my fanfic are here:
Jane Davitt at AO3]

Find her:

Twitter: @janedavitt

Enter to win an ecopy of Accept My Surrender or any backlist book. Giveaway ends November 17th @ Midnight EST. Good luck!

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The Unicorns thank Jane for helping us celebrate turning the big 4!

Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway HERE! It ends 12/1/17!

Trivia Question: Who wrote the surrealist romance titled after a flock of Starlings? 5 pts

Review: The Reunion by M.D. Neu

It’s been twenty years since the quiet Midwestern town of Lakeview was struck by tragedy. But every year on the anniversary of the event Teddy returns home for ‘The Reunion’. Lakeview, like Teddy, has secrets and not all mysteries should come to light.

***As a note: This story hits on a few topics of abuse, gender transitioning, absent parents and homophobia that should be mentioned. ***

Meet one Teddy Granger. Lone survivor of some horrific incident or accident, who is taking a trip down amnesia lane for a reunion. What kind of reunion? Well, we don’t really know but we do know that when Teddy arrives back in the town of Lakeview some twenty years later, he has some gruesome memories that aren’t quite real. Or are they?

Told from Teddy’s POV we start with him in the present to step into the creepy WTAF happened IN this town, TO this town and to Teddy that was horrible, but not enough to keep him away. It’s a good thing that the beginning of chapter two takes us twenty years into the past to get just that.

I read the excerpt on the publisher’s site of this short Halloween themed story and was intrigued to know what happened. I wasn’t expecting any of what the author gave me when I learned who Lane and Nicky were.

As we get into the past, we begin with Teddy arriving back in Lakeview after the death of his mother. He’s left his jerk of a partner and decided to move back home and start a new life with a new salon. Though the townsfolk aren’t the friendliest to a drag queen hairdresser driving a hot pink classic Mustang, a few classmates from high school befriend Teddy and help him make a life. Slowly over the next five years, Teddy solidifies himself into the community with a small circle of friends when a hoodie wearing figure comes back into his life and changes everything.

This story had a huge The Monsters Are Due on Maple Street feeling to it as the group of friends and town prepare to attend a Meteor shower viewing. The weather changes during the shower and bad things happen but these bad things are starting to change people in town and no one is listening to the truth… least of all Teddy.

This has such a melancholy feeling to it that I can’t shake. I thought we would get a clear answer to what happened when we returned with Teddy to the present with the reunion but either we didn’t or it went straight over my head. I mean, I think what happened is all the blood and death that Teddy doesn’t want to believe but if that’s the case, I wish the author would have explained why the reunion was possible and why the time each year was shorter for the visit.

At the end, it’s not a bad story, I just have answers I don’t feel I got and things feel unfinished. I guess that could be what the author was going for but being dragged through the depth of feelings we get through Teddy of regret, I wanted just a bit more.

Trivia Question: What do Christopher and Jeremy think makes having sex together less gay? 10 pts

Anniversary Shenanigans: Author Visit + Giveaway - Zev de Valera

Zev de Valera has brought us an eerie, but hopeful tale, The Elegant Solution that will leave you wanting more!

The Elegant Solution


I wasn’t being rude - a despot barking orders from his gilded divan. No, it was simply the only word of my intended sentence that I could manage to speak.

Nothing fractured, nothing broken. Just banged up. The doctor’s words, not mine. He was one of those irritatingly cheery types – big smile and blue eyes magnified by the lenses of his Coke bottle glasses. He did seem kind, though – unlike Nurse Sourpuss, who handed me the requested item with a reptilian stare.

“Thanks,” I said, vocalizing something closer to ‘shanks’.

Sourpuss twitched a smile and fiddled with some sort of electrical device.

Electrical? Why was this significant? Electrical, not computerized. I held the mirror to my chest and squeezed my eyes shut, trying to concentrate. Memories were like snippets of dreams – familiar yet distorted. I remembered Kyle. I remembered that I loved him.

What else … what else …

The bunker. Yes. Just the two of us after Johnson blew his brains out …

Kyle’s voice was clear in my head:

“This is what we signed up for, remember?”

I could see his face, tight with emotion, his dark eyes holding my gaze as he gripped the key that hung on a chain between his pecs; the twin of the one that shown against the black of my own t-shirt.
It all came back in a rush, giving credence to the cliché.

Operation Time Bomb. DARPA’s ‘elegant solution’. Deterrents were a joke. Eventually, some wacko would press the button and the world would end in hellfire. The answer: stop it all from happening. Create a temporal distortion piggy-backed on a massive EM pulse, thereby hurling the world into a previous point in time; a quantum weapon nicked-named OTB.

In theory, it worked.

Then, the first strike was launched and the time for theories ended.

“Now or never, James.”

We slipped the chains from our necks, inserted them in their designated slots, and then pulled each other close as we observed the brief countdown.

I remember Kyle’s tongue against mine, the pounding of my heart and the fearful rumble of my bowels …

Then a fierce whump!

Then …nothing.

I opened my eyes, fresh panic gripping me as my hand held the mirror like a talisman of reality.
“Go on,” said Sourpuss. “Take a look. It’s not so bad. The bruises, swelling and discomfort are temporary.”

I looked.

“Chrishe almiegy!” I slurred as I gazed at my reflection.

“Well, aren’t we the gloomy Gus. Consider yourself lucky. You look like Rita Hayworth compared to some of the other boys I’ve treated.”

Other boys …

“Kyle,” I said. “Where ish my – my fwiend.”

“Kyle? That’s your buddy? The guy who’s been ranting about time bombs and something called ‘darpro’”?

I nodded, feeling tears of relief begin to flow. Sourpuss looked almost human as her expression softened.

“You’ll both live.” She gave my hand a soft squeeze. “We all will, thank God. It’s official. The Japs surrendered.”

So much story for so few words, it's amazing how authors can do it. Let Zev know your thoughts in the comments!

About the Author:

I started writing my first novel when I was in high school. I finished it when I was forty-seven. Of course, it wasn’t the same book – more like an amalgam of all the stuff that I’d started over the years but never finished. It was a messy, self-published creature with whom I continue to have a love-hate relationship. Readers seem to have had the same reaction to The Ultimate Submission. As a character in my latest novel says: “It’s like cilantro. Either you love it or you hate it.”

Immediately following the publication of The Ultimate Submission, I began work on an historical/para-normal/time-travel novel. This was not a love-hate relationship. This was over-the-top, rapturous love. A word to the wise writer: Do not fall in love with your work. Two and a half years of lovingly laborious research and writing managed to produce a spawn of large and hideous proportions. I have yet to put it out of its misery. It remains in stasis. I continue to believe that one day I shall be able to rehabilitate it, to reanimate it in a more aesthetically pleasing form. I live in hope, you see.

During the last few months before the birth of this pitiful creature, I happened upon a Call for Submissions from MLR Press. The original idea was an anthology of short stories about super heroes. It sounded like fun and I was in need of distraction. The result was The Talisman Ring of Amenhotep. I had fun writing this and I thought it sucked. The publisher liked it. I saw the inkling of a pattern developing. The anthology never happened, but Talisman Ring was published as a stand-alone novella and was the beginning of the Talisman Ring of Amenhotep series. It was intended as a trilogy, but I ended the last book with a little bit of a tease … just in case.

My new novel, Blood Relations, is due out soon. It’s in the “line edit” stage right now, so I use the term ‘soon’ very loosely. No, it is not a vampire story. I like to think of it as a ‘New Gothic’ romance. I’ve tried to play with some of the conventions of the romantic suspense genre – which has always been one of my favorites – and I’m pretty happy with the result. Hopefully, you’ll agree.

Blogger's Note . . . .

I read and reviewed Blood Relations and I can't recommend it enough. It's a beautiful story and if you are a fan of Southern Gothic tales and love in its many forms than you will definitely love Blood Relations.



Enter to win any DSP backlist ebook! Giveaway ends 11/16 @ Midnight. Good luck!

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Don't miss entering in our month long unicorn giveaway HERE! It ends 12/1/17!