Review: Under the Midnight Sun by Lore Graham

The eldest son of Thunderhill's warrior-kings, Otto Johanson lives for battle but has forsaken love since the death of his partner three years ago. Still when the Midsummer festivities bring nomadic reindeer herders back to town, Otto can't help but notice the handsome, if sullen, Lukas.

Tension rises between them during the annual tournament, but when a terrible attack devastates Thunderhill, Otto and Lukas must put aside their burgeoning rivalry to embark on a dangerous quest that may be the town's only hope of survival.








Truly a well thought out novella bridging history, fantasy, and magic!

If you like the show Vikings, then I don’t think there will be any problem gobbling this up. Who can say no to a Ragnar-like character who’s a heartbroken warrior prince that doesn’t want to write off love but is still grieving? Not me!

Otto is well respected and next in line to the throne of his clan, and for every Midsummer, their nomad allies join them in celebration and friendly competition to show off their prowess and various skills for bragging rights. When Otto spots newcomer Lukas, he doesn’t quite know what to think of the surly warrior, and these two clash immediately. However, the festivities are cut short when they’re attacked by the fierce magical fiend Ursa Magnus (yes, it’s basically a giant blood thirsty bear) and Otto knows he must hunt it down and kill it instead of waiting for the beast to return to wreck even greater havoc.

Thus the mission begins as Otto, along with clan sorcerers and volunteer warriors (including Lukas), set off in search of the terrible creature. Slowly, Otto and Lukas get to know each other better and a burgeoning respect starts to grow between them as they face difficult challenges and sad sacrifices. These men are hardened, they know loss and death and pain, yet bravely forge on to live only to fight another day. Survival of the fittest is the ultimate at play here so it would also behoove them to act on their feelings and grab what little happiness and warmth they can glean from a world hell bent on testing their mortality from every angle.

Why this garners such a high rating is because my interest never flagged, and I loved this story’s setting of harsh survival in a Nordic context. This was fast paced blending an impossible quest and how two men, who definitely got off on the wrong foot, slowly open their hearts up to each other - all the while bringing the action, hurt comfort, and the sexy with a very satisfying conclusion. Well done Lore Graham. This was a wonderful win!



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


Release Blitz + Giveaway: Boyfriend or Bust by Claire Castle


Help author Claire Castle and Signal Boost Promotions celebrate the release of Boyfriend or Bust! Learn more about the contemporary romance and enter in $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 73,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Cate Ashwood Designs

Blurb

When Carson Turner’s ex-boyfriend unexpectedly invites him to his destination wedding and presumes he’ll be there alone, Carson panics and invents a fake boyfriend to accompany him. That’s what happens when your greatest flaw seems to be to talk first and think later.


How can Sam Bixton say no to his little sister’s request for him to go to Greece with her best friend, who he’s only admired from afar? Who would turn down fun in the sun with the one guy that’s always been off-limits?

Carson and Sam have a lot to learn about each other, and very little time to do it. Will they succeed in convincing Carson’s ex that they’re devoted boyfriends, or is it all about to go bust…




Claire Castle grew up surrounded by books. She has loved reading for her whole life. Her true love is romance and HEAs. When she’s not reading or writing, she can be found wearing comfortable leggings, drinking mocha and petting her west highland terrier. She loves collecting awesome mugs and paperbacks of her favorite stories.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Sky Full Of Mysteries by Rick R. Reed


Sky Full of Mysteries is out from Dreamspinner Press! Celebrate with author Rick R. Reed and Signal Boost Promotions! Learn more about the contemporary romance and enter in the Dinner series eBooks giveaway!






Length: 76,456 words

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Design: Reese Dante

Blurb

What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?

That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.

Where has Rory been all this time? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into the heavens? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.

Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.

Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….



Excerpt



Cole patted his back pocket, making sure his wallet was still there. He hoisted himself up from his seat and left the train’s air-conditioning for the humid night. There were several trains in the station, all huffing and puffing as they idled, reminding Cole of dragons. Even this late, there were still people hurrying to and fro on the platform.

Cole headed for the stairs and hurried down. Home was only a ten- minute walk from the station, and Cole was now actually grateful for the nap. If that boy’s not up when I get home, he thought with a grin, I’ll just have to poke him awake.

Cole was certain Rory wouldn’t mind.

When he reached the courtyard of their building, the exhaustion Cole had felt on leaving work entirely vanished. He was ready to howl at the moon. He wished only he’d thought to stop off at a convenience store or something so he could have brought Rory a little surprise, maybe a box of Swedish Fish or a roll of SweeTarts. He’d have to find other ways, he supposed, to thrill his sugar-loving man. He’d give him some sugar, all right.

Cole unlocked the front vestibule door and headed into the cool tile lobby of their building. He loved the 1920s vibe of the lobby and the building in general, glad no one in all the ensuing decades since it had been built had decided the gem of a vintage building needed updating. He loved the mica-colored wall sconces and the Mediterranean floor tile. He even loved the battered brass mailboxes along one wall.

He stopped to check the mail, found the box empty, and headed for the elevator.

Out front, Cole hoped Rory had left the door unlocked for him. No such luck. He fished his keys from his pocket and quelled his first impulse, which was to shout, “Honey, I’m home!” at the top of his lungs. If the poor guy was asleep, Cole reasoned, let him sleep. There were subtler and much more pleasurable ways to wake him.

As he made his way through the living room and toward the bedroom, he dropped clothing as he went. He also shut off the lights Rory had thoughtfully left on for him. By the time he reached the closed bedroom door, he was smiling and sporting an erection.

He opened the door slowly. It took his eyes a moment to adjust. They had, in fact, thumb-tacked a sheet over the sole window, so the room stayed pretty dark.

Cole groped his way to the bed, suppressing a giggle.

But when he got there, the giggle died on his lips. He felt around the surface, up, down, left, right, as though his own hands deceived him. He frowned and then turned to the light switch on the wall and flicked it. The room filled with warm yellow light. No Rory. Cole hadn’t expected that, and he cocked his head. Absurdly, he looked around the room, thinking maybe he’d find Rory sitting on the chair they used to pile their clothes on before hopping into bed for the night. Maybe he’d rolled out and was fast asleep on the braided rug they’d positioned beneath it.

But the room was empty. Unusually neat—the bed made and no clothes lying on the chair in the corner. Cole crossed the room and opened the door to the single closet. Maybe Rory was hiding from him? One of the things they both loved about the apartment was the size of the bedroom closet. It was walk-in, with rods on either side, shelving above, and even a window that looked outside. Rory could be weird. Maybe he lay within, naked and waiting, ready to pull out all the stops on yet another fantasy.

But the empty closet mocked him. Where was he?

Cole retreated from the bedroom. “Rory? Babe?” Cole made a quick tour of the small apartment, knowing as he did it that the search would be wasted effort. And it was. Rory wasn’t in the living room, the dining room, kitchen, or bathroom.

Cole returned to the bedroom and ran his hands along the top of the dresser. Rory usually left his wallet and keys on top of it. But just like the rest of his search, this maneuver was only an empty gesture. Rory’s keys and wallet were gone, indicating he was still out there somewhere.

That was odd. Cole glanced at the alarm clock on the nightstand and saw it was approaching twelve thirty. Cole knew Rory had to be up early for work in the morning—he had flex hours at his job and liked to work the earlier spectrum—usually seven thirty to four. And Rory loved his sleep! Sometimes he dragged Cole to bed as early as nine o’clock. Cole never complained.

So what was he doing out so late on a school night?

Cole plopped down on the bed, head in his hands. Don’t panic. Don’t even worry. It’s most likely nothing at all. Maybe he got over his aversion to gay bars and is down on Halsted Street, living it up, downing shots backed up by beers. The thought made him chuckle, as that scenario was about as likely as Cole being on a jet bound for Paris, France. Still, in spite of its improbability, the notion did cause a stab of jealousy to jab at Cole—right in his solar plexus. Sure, Rory might be one of the few gay men their age Cole knew who actually didn’t like to go out to bars, but he still could have. It was possible, as he might say if queried on a witness stand in some court of law. Cole felt sick to his stomach as he allowed himself to think what was lurking at the back of his mind, like some black shadow. It was also possible that Rory had gone out and hooked up with someone and lost track of time.

Cole licked his lips, mouth suddenly dry. He had a lot of gay male friends and acquaintances and knew fidelity was a fairly rare thing, even among the ones who claimed to be in committed, monogamous relationships. Why, some of those fellas had even come on to Cole when the boyfriend was out of town or just out of the picture.

Maybe their relationship wasn’t as solid as Cole thought? Rory could have been tempted. It was possible. He was a cute guy who didn’t know it, which made him even cuter. He could see him being hit on— and maybe if he was lonely or bored, he might have given in? Are any of us truly immune to temptation?

No. Not Rory. Cole knew in his heart of hearts that Rory would never cheat. He just didn’t have it in him, literally or figuratively.

So where are you? Cole stood and began pacing. He pulled aside the sheet tacked up over the window to look outside, hoping against hope he’d see Rory down there on the beach. He did see someone, a guy, sitting on the sand at the edge of the beach, his feet pushed into the waves. But even from up there, Cole could tell the guy had at least fifty pounds on Rory, if not more. And he was smoking....

A woman walked by. A big dog, maybe a pit bull, dashed ahead of her, splashing at the edge of the surf. Cole could see the leash in her hand. She called the dog back, and it sounded to Cole like its name was Pashmina.

There was no one else on the beach this late.


Real Men. True Love.

Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband.


FIND RICK ONLINE
Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/rickrreedbooks
Twitter: www.twitter.com/rickrreed
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Blog: http://rickrreedreality.blogspot.com/
Website: www.rickrreed.com
Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/rick-r-reed
Email: rickrreedbooks@gmail.com




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Release Blitz + Giveaway: In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn


Help author Sydney Blackburn and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of In Vino Veritas! Learn about the contemporary romance today and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: In Vino Veritas
Author: Sydney Blackburn
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Heat Level: 2 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 33200
Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, family drama, gay

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Synopsis

Anthony Beretta inherited the family winery at the tender age of twenty-four. It’s a struggle to keep it up, but he loves it and is determined to make it work even if it kills him. That is, if a motorcyclist doesn’t kill him first. He initially judges the man, attractive as he may be, on the basis of his appearance and apparently limited vocabulary. He soon discovers he’s wrong, but by then Oscar Kennett has already judged Anthony on his appearance.

Oscar thinks Tony Beretta is uptight and snobbish, and Tony’s speech for the charity they’re working on together reinforces that, even when he finds out Tony did it just to push his buttons. His adorable curls and sexy glasses might not be enough to change his mind, but maybe there’s more to Tony than meets the eye.

Excerpt

In Vino Veritas
Sydney Blackburn © 2018
All Rights Reserved

One: Beretta Estate Winery
Anthony Beretta hovered in his office, listening to his cousin Katie extol the virtues of their Concord wine.

“It’s a heritage grape,” she was saying, “the kind they make grape juice from.”

Because wine that tasted like commercial grape juice was so popular. Still, there were customers to extol its dubious virtues to, and that was something. Didn’t mean he wanted to meet them, not over the Concord.

“It makes a great spritzer and is the perfect base for a sangria,” she continued. “Not too sweet, but with a full fruity flavour.”

He had to hand it to her. She knew how to sell it. Then again, Katie loved the winery almost as much as he did.

He moved away from his office door and sat behind his desk, looking once more at the open agenda. The winery hosted events, mostly weddings, and provincial regulations had recently changed. He had an appointment with his insurance broker in Bayham in little more than an hour. Which was why he was wearing his suit, instead of the jeans, T-shirt, and heavy cotton button-down he normally wore when he worked at the tasting room. He tugged at the lavender tie that felt like it was strangling him.

After checking the time on his phone once more, Anthony cleared his desk and locked the files away. No one else needed to know how shaky the winery’s finances were. He got to his feet and patted his jacket pocket for his car keys.

There was a mirror beside the door, so one could double-check one’s appearance before going to talk to customers. Anthony gave himself a critical look, pushing his glasses up his nose automatically. The mirror showed him what he was—a rail-thin man just shy of six feet tall, with hair that would never look anything other than dishevelled and dark-framed glasses. At least the glasses went some way towards disguising the shadows under his eyes. He looked like an upended mop, albeit a well-dressed mop.

He scowled. He’d much rather be in his jeans and work boots, out with his stubborn Foch vines. Three years ago, he’d put those bastards in, after his father had the gall to die of a heart attack.

His mouth tightened. He couldn’t think of his father without a sour mix of anger, grief, and guilt.

A discordant jangling let him know the customers had left, and he pushed his door open wider just as Katie rounded the corner. “Ant,” she said, “so glad I caught you. Could you pick up some of that jalapeño sauce from the Mexican store? It really shows off the Viognier. It’s a hard sell on its own.”

He refrained from scowling. Ant was a childhood nickname he’d long outgrown. His name was Anthony. She was right about the Viognier, though.

“Jalapeño sauce. Yes.”

“I don’t suppose you’ve thought about giving me Friday off,” she said, her tone rising at the end of the sentence, but not quite enough to make it a question.

He stifled a sigh. “And you’re not asking Leigh to switch with you because…?”

“Because it’s her wedding shower. Jesus, Ant, pull your head out of your ass once in a while.”

He ground his teeth as he bit back a sharp reply. “Fine. You have Friday off.” It wasn’t like he had anything better to do on a Friday. The tasting room closed at seven. He could catch up on the paperwork while he ate, and on Saturday, he could spend the day in the vineyard, trying to discover why the Foch vines were underproducing.

“You’re a prince,” Katie replied, but her snark had hardly any bite.

Happy employees were long-term employees, his father had always said. Katie really did care about the winery. She just had a social life. He shouldn’t be so hard on her.

And what about my happiness?

As the owner of the winery, there was no one around to see to his happiness. He didn’t even know what would make him happy anymore.

“Sorry, Katie.” He forced a smile. “Do you mind picking out a gift the estate can give her?”

“Yeah, give me a hundred dollars. It can be from the winery, you, Aunt Rosie, and me.”

“Take it from petty cash.”

“There’s no petty cash left, remember?”

He turned to hide his wince. “I’ll take some money from the account while I’m out.”

She hesitated. “The Wine and Song event will go on this year, right?”

“That’s why I’m going to town.”

“I know. It’s just… Is there anything I can do?”

His answering smile was forced. “Be careful what you volunteer for, cuz. Keep your fingers crossed the insurance hasn’t gone up too much.”

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… Oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories.

She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry.

Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.

Besides writing, she also designs book covers for poor people.

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Guest Review: The Gentle Dom (Iron Eagle Gym #7) by Sean Michael

When one of their own is threatened, the men of the Iron Eagle Gym will stand together and prove they are stronger as a family.

Stuntman Barclay Drambor suspects his fall from a roof was no accident. He believes his abusive ex was responsible, but he can’t prove it. Fortunately, a year has gone by with no word from Duncan, letting Barclay move on with his life—and that means dealing with the aftermath of his injuries. He finds personal trainer Reece “Rec” Gordon through a member of the gym, and it’s not long before their workouts together become much more intimate. Rec is gentle and goes out of his way to make Barclay comfortable, and in no time there’s talk of moving in together….

But just as Barclay is healing and finding a place to belong, Duncan returns to destroy his happiness. Though Duncan will learn he’s messing with the wrong group of men, in the end, Barclay must face him. Will Rec’s love and the friendship of the others at the gym give him the confidence to stand up for himself?


Reviewer: Shee Reader

Reece is a personal trainer and Dominant who works and plays at the Iron Eagle Gym. His latest client is a lovely quiet man trying to recover from a stunt gone wrong. What Rec doesn’t know is that Barclay feels his tragic fall was no accident, and fears for his life.

Rec is single and looking for a boy of his own. Barclay has little knowledge of the lifestyle, and really little awareness of his own needs. The pair connect from the start as we have come to expect from Sean Michael, and their developing relationship is fast and rather kinky in an understated way. Rec knows what Barclay needs but doesn’t want to come on too strong. He is, as the title suggests a gentle Dom. Not for him the really hardcore stuff, but his affection for Barclay, and the desire to take good care of B in every way is totally adorable.

The looming spectre of the crazy stalker ex is mainly off page, so the angst is there but relatively low calibre. This book has all the Hallmarks we expect and adore from Sean Michael, a touch of insta-love, definite insta-lust, a tooth-achingly sweet HEA and some nice little asides to reference the characters from previous books.

I loved it!




Release Blitz + Giveaway: Escaping Exile (The Escape Trilogy #1) by Sara Dobie Bauer


Help author Sara Dobie Bauer and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of Escaping Exile (The Escape Trilogy #1)! Learn more about the historical vampire romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Escaping Exile
Series: The Escape Trilogy, Book One
Author: Sara Dobie Bauer
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: August 13, 2018
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 21400
Genre: Paranormal, paranormal, historical, vampires, cannibals, gay, bisexual

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Synopsis

Andrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.

Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream-but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.

As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?

Excerpt

Escaping Exile
Sara Dobie Bauer © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The crack as the hull breaks echoes across the beach, into the woods, and inside my head as I try to sleep. I was just beginning to dream of New Orleans. I almost smelled whiskey and muddy streets—almost. Instead, I jolt awake, still surrounded by the fresh flowery scent of this blasted tropical island in the middle of… Well, I don’t know really. That’s the point of exile.

I pull on a worn linen shirt. For the first few months here, I slept with my clothes on in case the cannibals came knocking. They never did. I think they knew this strange white man would make a disgusting meal. As if they could smell death on me. I wonder if eating my flesh could actually kill them. Wouldn’t mind offering a bite if only for some entertainment. I haven’t watched a human die in ages, but now, here we go: a shipwreck. There’s bound to be death in abundance tonight.

It’s not raining when I step outside my house. Yes, I have a small house on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean, overrun with cannibals and all manner of man-eating beasts. Michelle wasn’t that cruel when she sent me here. She did provide me with a home. Congratulations, you heartless bitch, you gave me a house in which to spend eternity alone.

I didn’t even mean to kill that last human back home in Louisiana.

Or maybe I did.

A leathery leaf to the face brings me back to the present as I stomp in tall boots through thick foliage. Despite the lack of rain now falling on my island, a flash of lightning illuminates the beach ahead long enough for me to see them—the natives who’ve managed to steal so many meals from me.

The irony would make me crack a smile if not for my ever-growing bitterness. I once considered capturing a cannibal, but then, they might come hunting me and I’m not half as strong as I once was. And I don’t think Michelle means to leave me here forever. I must wait out her overblown sense of justice.

From where I stand, sheltered behind a fence of palms, I see remnants of a great ship washing to shore. Thunder cracks as a man screams. My focus darts toward the dancing orange light of the native’s torches, and I see but outlines of their naked bodies as they tug and pull on a creature wrapped in white fabric. I squint and identify a man in his sleeping clothes. Dinner is served.

My gaze skims the beach, but it’s mostly detritus and dead men. Dead men are no good to me as their blood is most certainly not part of my unique diet. Oh, but then, there’s a scent on the wind. There is something alive nearby, and it’s bleeding. The smell of blood mixes with the salt of the sea and bitter stress-sweat.

I hone my senses to find the source of blood, but it’s been so long. Once a master, my hunting skills are now out of practice. I take a step back into the jungle and move to my right, away from the dancing torches and the man’s screams, and almost trip over a body. Out of practice is apparently a gross understatement as he was near me this whole time.

Unlike his soon to be devoured compatriot, this man is fully clothed in a coat and trousers. His hair is dark, and he wears black gloves. He’s but a shadow on the sand as I lift him and carry him farther into the woods.

Finally, a meal they won’t steal from me.

Safely inside my little house, I lay the man on the floor and poke at the fire until it roars like the thunder outside. Now, it rains. The ocean storm falls heavy, rocks on the roof, and an animal howls nearby, woken wet from its slumber.

I peel off his soaked clothes as the wound on his head continues to bleed. Unconscious, it’s a wonder he wasn’t pulled away by the current to die in the arms of some mythical mermaid. As I look at him in the firelight, I realize he is indeed a wonder. Perhaps it’s been too long since I’ve felt another man’s skin, but perhaps not. This injured sailor might be beautiful.

Looking at his hairless face, I would have guessed him barely a man. The thick muscles of his chest, arms, and legs dictate otherwise, as do the calluses on his hands. Not only is he a full-grown man, but he’s also a man who works hard. He is lean with hair the color of the ocean on a moonless night—and if I don’t stop his head bleeding, my curse of nothing but dead flesh could continue.

“Don’t die,” I say to him. It’s the first I’ve spoken to a human in ages.

I move him, naked and dry, to my bed and cover him in blankets before wetting a cloth and wiping his wound. It’s a sizeable gash high on his forehead. The dark creature inside me wrestles at the sight of his blood, but I woo it with promises of later, later.

I hold the rag to his head and realize I have no bandages. It’s not as though I need them. I’ll just have to sit here then. I perch on the side of my bed, and my thumb touches his bottom lip. Like a sunrise, this man is becoming more beautiful by the minute. I want to ravage him. I push the blankets away enough to run my hand over his chest. An angry scrape mars the pale skin, and I bet my guest will be covered in bruises by morning. The sea is not a gentle mistress. I know. I’ve tried to escape my exile by swimming out into white waves to no avail. The crushing currents always bring me back.

A log pops in the fire as the rain continues. My house now smells of smoke, mud, and him. I climb farther into the bed and recline at his side. I still hold the cloth to his head as I wrap him in my arms and run my nose up the side of his neck.

I think Michelle would be angry to see how happy I am.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series, among others sexy things.

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Review: Euphoria by Jayne Lockwood

It might take the arrival of an alien being to remind an isolated man what it means to be human.

With a stressful job, his boss breathing down his neck for profitable results, and an estranged wife and daughter, scientist Kurt Lomax doesn’t think life can get much harder. Until a nonbinary extraterrestrial with an otherworldly beauty, captivating elegance, and a wicked sense of humor inconveniently shows up at his apartment.

Vardam watched the destruction of their own world, and they don’t want to see the same thing happen on Earth. They are lonely, and feelings soon develop between them and the supposedly straight scientist—feelings Kurt reciprocates, much to his confusion.

The arrival of cheery interpreter Tom Soames—whose Goth appearance belies a gentle heart—is like a ray of sunshine in the somber lab. He acts as matchmaker for man and tentacled extraterrestrial, unwittingly instigating a national crisis when the news breaks out.

But will a misunderstanding ruin Kurt and Vardam’s chances for happiness together—along with the hope for peace between humanity and the Var?


4 Alien Loving Hearts!


A highly enjoyable sci-fi romp with all sorts to satisfy! This has time travel, aliens, a pending apocalypse, hurt comfort, mpreg, and nebulous tentacle shenanigans, all or some of which will surely interest many a reader!


The blurb is quite good at telling what’s what. Vardam is a peaceful, technologically advanced, non-binary alien who’s basically been traveling the galaxy in search of a new place for their peoples to inhabit since their home was destroyed by an asteroid. Their goal is to find a compatible planet and it just so happens to be Earth. However, there's a slight snag. The original inhabitants are on the brink of extinction, and Vardam, in their infinite capacity for appreciating all the complex facets of humanity, is willing to take a huge risk and leap of faith to travel back in time to try to stop the imminent demise of the human race.


Enter Kurt Lomax, a brilliant scientist whose abusive past has rendered him cold and unable to form meaningful relationships despite his desperate desire to do so. Unable to effectively connect and communicate with his estranged wife and daughter, he instead spends all his time and focus on helping his fellow man. This manifests as a twenty year long pursuit towards developing a vaccine that would fend off the virulent bacterium MRSA, in the hopes of preventing millions of difficult to treat infections. What Kurt doesn't know is that his creation will mutate in soon-to-start human trials, ultimately leading to the annihilation of animals and humans alike over the next two generations.


What ensues upon Vardam’s arrival to change the future was something I quite enjoyed. This is not exactly a straightforward sweeping romance focused solely on Vardam and Kurt. This also bridges medicine and science, corporate greed, and government oversight, all of which involves Kurt’s scientific team and how they deal with an intriguing powerful alien and the resulting fallout when the truth of their life’s work is revealed.


This boasts a great supporting cast to root for, a bad guy to really really hate, and another side romance to revel in. This is not erotica, but it is funny and touching and filled with some suspenseful action and harrowing situations. The best part of this was of course, Vardam and their unabashed honesty, their fascinating abilities, and their talent for thawing out a tortured Kurt to both figuratively and literally open himself up to the infinite possibilities of love. Lockwood nicely brings all of this to a great satisfying conclusion where of course, I wouldn’t say no to more stories in this awesome AU should she choose to create more!


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



Giveaway + Blog Tour: To See the Sun by Kelly Jensen


Let's help Kelly Jensen and Riptide Publishing celebrate the release of To See the Sun today! Find out more about this sci-fi romance and be sure to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway for a $25 Riptide credit, swag AND a bracelet! Good luck!


About To See the Sun
Survival is hard enough in the outer colonies—what chance does love have?
Life can be harsh and lonely in the outer colonies, but miner-turned-farmer Abraham Bauer is living his dream, cultivating crops that will one day turn the unforgiving world of Alkirak into paradise. He wants more, though. A companion—someone quiet like him. Someone to share his days, his bed, and his heart.
Gael Sonnen has never seen the sky, let alone the sun. He’s spent his whole life locked in the undercity beneath Zhemosen, running from one desperate situation to another. For a chance to get out, he’ll do just about anything—even travel to the far end of the galaxy as a mail-order husband. But no plan of Gael’s has ever gone smoothly, and his new start on Alkirak is no exception. Things go wrong from the moment he steps off the shuttle.
Although Gael arrives with unexpected complications, Abraham is prepared to make their relationship work—until Gael’s past catches up with them, threatening Abraham’s livelihood, the freedom Gael gave everything for, and the love neither man ever hoped to find.

About Kelly Jensen
If aliens ever do land on Earth, Kelly will not be prepared, despite having read over a hundred stories about the apocalypse. Still, she will pack her precious books into a box and carry them with her as she strives to survive. It’s what bibliophiles do.
Kelly is the author of a number of novels, novellas, and short stories, including the Chaos Station series, cowritten with Jenn Burke. Some of what she writes is speculative in nature, but mostly it’s just about a guy losing his socks and/or burning dinner. Because life isn’t all conquering aliens and mountain peaks. Sometimes finding a happy ever after is all the adventure we need.
Connect with Kelly:
      Website: kellyjensenwrites.com
      Facebook: www.facebook.com/kellyjensenwrites/
      Twitter: twitter.com/kmkjensen
      Tumblr: kmkjensen.tumblr.com/
      Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/kmkjensen/
      Instagram: www.instagram.com/kellyjensenwrites/



To celebrate the release of To See the Sun, Kelly is giving away a $25 Riptide credit and some swag stickers and a bracelet! Leave a comment with your contact info to enter the contest. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on August 18, 2018. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Thanks for following along, and don’t forget to leave your contact info!

Audiobook Review: Stand by Your Manny (The Mannies #3) by Amy Lane

Learning to trust and falling in love.

Sammy Lowell has his hands full juggling his music, college, some pesky health problems, and making the uncles who raised him proud. He needs help fulfilling his after-school duties with his siblings. Nobody can be in two places at once—not even Sammy!

An injury puts Cooper Hoskins in a tough spot—if he can’t work, the foster sister he’s raising can’t eat. But years in the foster system have left Cooper short on trust, and opening up to accept help isn’t easy.

Luckily, family intervenes—Cooper needs a job so he can care for Felicity, and Sammy needs someone who can see past his illness to the wonderful things he has planned for his life. Each heals the damaged places in the other’s heart. But falling in love is a big responsibility for young men deep in family already. Can the two of them get past their fear of the immediate future to see forever with each other?

Narrator: Peter B. Brooke
Listening Length: 6 hours, 1 minutes


Reviewer: Annika

You probably know by now that the books in the Dreamspun Desires line is mostly fluff and have that harlequin feel to them. Stand by Your Manny was no exception, but hey, I love my fluff so I don't mind that at all. You know what to expect when you pick these books up.

Cooper Hoskins works in construction. He's dirt poor and turns every penny to make ends meet so that he can take care of is foster sister Felicity. An accident at work puts him out of commission and in a tight spot to care for his small family.

Sammy Lowell wants to stand on his own two feet. Wants to work with music, tour with it, at the same time he's also taking care of his siblings. It's a stressful life for sure and his health is getting worse, and he knows in his heart he's not taking care of himself as much as he should have and he can't keep going in the pace he's set for himself. He needs to accept some help.

Their love story is a sweet one. It's not a hot and heavy one. But one of exploring, of discovery, first kisses, first touches and first times. Cooper and Sammy have so much in common, the deep caring for others, nurturing. The feel things deeply. The need for family. This book is all about family, the blood kind, but mostly the one you choses. Helping and loving each other through the ups and downs. It's a pure sweet and feel good romance.

Peter B. Brooke was an okay narrator. Not a great one, but okay. His narration felt a bit stilted a lot of the time and didn't quite have that natural flow of words. Adding pauses where there shouldn't have been. Which meant I spent a lot of the time focusing on his narration instead of the story he tried to convey. It wasn't an effortless listen, I really had to focus on it and that's not something I particularly enjoy with my audiobooks. I want to be immersed into the story, be a part of it, but Brooke didn't manage that. Another issue of mine, and that is a preference of mine, was that he added no real feeling to his narration. He was just reading the words in front of him, he felt detached and it made me feel detached from the story so I was never invested one way or another.

Stand by Your Manny was at the core a cute and fluffy read/listen. I would say that you should go for the printed version rather than the audio this time around, I think you'd enjoy that more.

A copy of this audiobook was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review





Audiobook Review: Sweet Nothings (Amuse Bouche #1) by T. Neilson


Will a bitter bite from the past spoil a sweet romance?

Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.

Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….

That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.

Listening Length: 5 hrs and 49 mins
Narrator: Simon Ferrar 


Equal parts fluff and seriousness...


What I liked about this story was that it’s all about personal second chances. Tristan has been in a very toxic abusive relationship, and he gets the courage and motivation to leave it all behind. When he moves back home to open his own bakery, Tristan can finally take a breather and focus on himself for once. When he catches the interest of hunky Jake, who is trying to forge a new life as well, things definitely start to look up for both of them.


Jake and Tristan hit if off immediately. They are not without their challenges in starting a relationship. Jake has a shady past. Tristan has infuriating protective older brothers who love to be infuriating. Go ahead and add in a crazy ex boyfriend hell bent on revenge, and they might be doomed before they even really start.


Narrated by Simon Ferrar, this was my second listening experience from him, and I still have the same opinion. I enjoyed his performance except when it came to how he voiced one of the MC’s, which again, felt incongruent and was often distracting. Despite that, this was a good romance. Admittedly, there were several moments of disbelief that I just had to ignore regarding the ex’s evil machinations - who cares about plausibility right?? However, in the grand scheme of things, this was very nicely sexy, the relationship progression was equally sweet and enjoyable and thus, I deem this a win!


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



Release Blitz: Merrick the Art Thief by Michelle Woody


Merrick the Art Thief is out from JMS Books! Celebrate with author Michelle Woody and Signal Boost Promotions! Learn more about the romance today!




Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | JMS Books

Length: 56,030 words 

Publisher: JMS Books

Blurb

Brilliant art thief Merrick Davidson can steal anything, except Grant Silvan’s heart. Merrick has to keep Grant at arm’s length for fear of revealing his secret. When Merrick’s biggest rival exposes his secret to Grant, the rejected lover returns to win back his relationship with Merrick, but there are obstacles to overcome.


Wyatt Silvan, Grant’s father and Merrick’s employer, is after the famous seven Xanderclied paintings, which all contain clues to a treasure. If Merrick succeeds in obtaining all the paintings and find the treasure, he can retire as an art thief and start a normal, uncomplicated life with Grant.


Together, they hunt the paintings from art galleries to private collections, from city to city, dodging bullets and escaping from life threatening attacks. With danger all around and the FBI on their tails, will Wyatt and Merrick find the paintings and treasure they are looking for? Will Merrick realize love is the biggest treasure of it all, before it is too late?


Excerpt


Rhonda and Grant stood at the end of the hallway, looking around.


Merrick caught Rhonda’s gaze.


“There you are.” Rhonda approached him with Grant following.


“What’s wrong?”


“I don’t like this.” Rhonda leaned close. “I told him you two would look less suspicious with the family around.”


“Oh boy.” Merrick rubbed his chin as he glanced down the hall in hopes Wyatt would be there.


Wyatt’s voice came through the earpiece. “Honey, I can hear you.”


“Where are you?” Rhonda started toward the desk.


“We’ll look around. Bye.” Merrick removed his earpiece. “Let’s try the second floor.”


“Are they fighting?”


“Probably.”


“I’ve never heard them fight.”


Merrick pursed his lips. “Let’s just look for the painting.”


They took the sprawling cream-colored marble stairs to the second floor. The landing branched out to their left and right, walls on both sides lined with framed paintings and photographs. They started down the hall to their right. Only three people moved past the works of art and didn’t seem to pay Merrick and Grant any attention.


Beside him, Grant fidgeted with his watch. He wanted to hold Grant’s hand, to enjoy the stroll through the museum. How nice it’d be if there was no stress or danger, only the feel of Grant’s soft hand, his arm resting against Merrick’s as they walked.


After they passed several paintings, Merrick grinned, bowed his head.


“What?”


He glanced at the security cameras in the corners, then at Grant. “You’re distracting me.”


“I’m not doing anything.”


“You are.”


Grant smiled.


Merrick stared into Grant’s eyes for several breaths. The blue reminded him of the ocean; inviting and healing.


Grant lowered his voice. “Can my dad hear us?”


“Oh.” He looked at the earpiece in his hand. “Maybe.”


Grant nodded as he walked on.


Merrick fell into step beside him, forcing his attention to the art, even though he could feel Grant’s looks.


Grant moved closer so their arms touched. He wrapped his pinkie around Merrick’s, grinning as he turned his gaze away from Merrick.


The simple contact rushed through him. His fantasies of a life with Grant weren’t coming close to how wonderful it felt to really have him at his side.


Grant stopped them. “You’re blushing.”


“See? Distracting.”


Behind Grant, two sets of double doors led to a room where paintings in vivid colors of blues and reds flanked Xanderclied's Despair. He took Grant’s hand. “Let’s look in here.”


As they stepped through the doorway, Merrick studied the rectangular room. With the recent thefts of Xanderclied works, the upgraded security around Despair wasn’t surprising. A wire ran from the bottom of the canvas, probably attached to a motion-activated alarm. Cameras aimed down from each corner of the room. At the two doorways, nestled into the high ceiling, were roll cages, which Merrick presumed were set to drop once the motion alarm was triggered. It was daunting, but nothing they couldn’t handle. What troubled him was whatever trick Jordan had waiting for them.


Grant faced the door, sliding his arm through Merrick’s. “I’m so nervous.”


“Relax. Nothing is going to happen right now.”


Grant caught his breath. “I’ve seen that guy before.”


Merrick glanced at the doorway, finding it empty. “Who?”


A red-haired man with a bushy beard walked along the far side of the hall. Merrick had seen him before, too. He was the flirt from the Cunningham opening. Why was he there, today of all days? Was he a part of Jordan’s game?


Merrick gripped Grant’s hand as he slid his earpiece back into place. “Guys, we have a problem.”


Author Bio


Michelle Woody lives in Springfield, Missouri. Her other titles include Riley, winner of the 2010 National Indie Excellence Award for Gay/Lesbian Fiction, The Scarecrow's Kiss, and Figment of the Heart.


For more information, please visit michellewoody.com.


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