Blog Tour + Giveaway: Heart Strain by Michele Notaro & Sammi Cee

Join authors Michele Notaro and Sammi Cee on the Heart Strain blog tour! The authors and Vibrant Promotions invite you along to celebrate with them! Learn more about the contemporary romance and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway!

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Heart Strain
Interlocking Fragments Series, Book 1
Sammi Cee & Michele Notaro
M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: 07.22.19
Cover Artist: Soxsational Cover Art

Heart Strain Cover
When I get a call that my twin brother’s been shot, I’m in shock as I head back to Baltimore to be with him. Seeing him in a coma is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do; sitting here not knowing whether he’s going to live or die is the worst thing I can imagine. But at least Jameson is with me—he makes it more bearable, and I don’t feel like I’m in this alone. With everything going on, I probably shouldn’t be checking out my brother’s work partner, but I can’t seem to help it. Jameson’s been so sweet and kind and considerate; not to mention he’s so sexy I can’t keep my eyes off him.
My partner getting shot and ending up in a coma brings everything in my world to a screeching halt. He’s not only my partner on the police force, but my best friend and confidant. When I see his twin brother, Holden, sitting in the waiting room, I’m overwhelmed with gratitude that he neither blames me nor pushes me away. Now I’m doing my best to take care of him and support him; if only I’d stop noticing how his emotions reflect in his eyes and wondering how it would feel to touch him.
Will the bonding that takes place during their long bedside vigils become more than they expected? Can they be honest enough with themselves and each other to take it to the next level? And if they do, will Holden be willing to sacrifice the life he loves for the brother he’s kept at arm’s length for almost ten years and the man who could end up being his everything?
Heart Strain is the first book in the Interlocking Fragments series, but is a standalone novel. Each book in the series will feature a different couple, but the couples will show up throughout the whole series. This is a contemporary romance intended for 18+.
Universal Buy Link:

Heart Strain Graphic 1
Heart Strain Graphic 2


As soon as the movie ends, I say, “I’m going to start dinner.” I need to get away from him for a minute before he notices what he’s doing to me. Unfortunately, the sexy bastard follows me into the kitchen with Nala trotting behind him.

“What can I do to help?”

I point to a stool. “You can sit down and look pretty while I cook.”

His eyebrows go up a little. “I can’t help?”


“When did you have time to buy all this stuff?”

“Uh… I woke up early, so I went out this morning before you picked me up.” What I don’t say is that I’ve been having trouble sleeping—no matter how long I run at night or how tired I am—and it seems to be getting worse every night. But that’s not his problem, so I keep it to myself.

He hesitantly sits on the stool and tentatively asks, “Why are you doing all of this?”

Blowing out a breath, I shrug as I get the ingredients out of the fridge. “You’ve been helping me since I got here, and… and I wanted to do something nice as a thank you.”

“You don’t have to thank me.” When I look at him, I can tell he has something else to add, but he doesn’t say whatever’s on his mind, so I just shrug again and get everything ready.

“I made this marinade this morning and the tofu’s been soaking it up all day, so hopefully you’ll still like it even though you like eating animals.”

He laughs out, “Gross.”

I shoot him a grin. “Anyway, I’m gonna do some mashed potatoes and green beans, so hopefully you’ll like at least one thing.”

“Sounds delicious, even the tofu.”

After a minute, I notice him looking a little sad or something, so I finally relent. “Will you stop frowning if I let you help?”

“Yes.” He smiles, just a tad.

“Fine,” I groan. “Help me with the potatoes.”

“Yes!” Jameson grins widely and hops off the stool. “I knew you’d cave.”

I laugh. “Was your plan to sit there looking all sad and pathetic until I did?”

“I was going to start sighing dramatically to add to the effect.”

I elbow him in the side with a chuckle and catch his gaze again. I can feel his warmth radiating off him because he’s standing so close to me. The moment I lick my dry lips, I see his eyes track the movement, and my breath catches. Does he want to kiss me as badly as I want to kiss him? Don’t look at his lips, Holden. Don’t look at them!

I look at his lips. Dammit!

But I catch myself, clear my throat, and force my body to move away from him.

Lucky for me, Jameson isn’t a huge awkward nerd like I am, and he ends up talking about the movie while we cook. Before I know it, he has me laughing again.

Michele is married to an awesome husband that puts up with her and all the characters in her head—and there are many. They live together in Baltimore, Maryland with their two young boys and two crazy dogs. She grew up dancing and swimming and taught dance—ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, & modern—for ten years before her kids came along. Now she stays home to write about the sexy men in her head and does PTA everything—as long as coffee is involved. Two other tattooed moms run the PTA with her, and though she wants to rip her hair out from it, she still loves it.
Michele Notaro Links:
Amazon Author Page:
My FB Group, Notaro’s Haven:
Reading Past the Realm (Paranormal group):

Michele Notaro Global Links:
Finding My Forever Series: (Contemporary Romance)
Book 3: Left Behind
Book 4: A True Fit
A Finding My Forever Short Story: (Contemporary Romance)
Flash Me Photos: (Contemporary Romance)
Portfolio #1: Love, Never-Ending
The Fate of Love Series: (Contemporary Romance)
Book 1: Always You
Valentine’s Inc. Series: (Contemporary Romance)
The Ellwood Chronicles: (Witch Romance)
Reclaiming Hope: (Shifter Romance)
The Taoree Trilogy: (Alien MM Fiction)
Book 1: Taoree
Book 2: Independents
Book 3: Dissolution
Malachai Brothers: Beyond the Veil: (Paranormal Investigations- collab with K.M. Neuhold)
Episode 1: Akasha Sanatorium
The Brotherhood of Ormarr: (Dragon Rider Romance collab with Sammi Cee)
~My YA Books under Bobbie Rayne~
The Crazy Adventures of Cass & Star: (Paranormal YA)
The Triumphs of the Everette Brothers: (Contemporary YA)
The Brotherhood of Ormarr: (Dragon Rider Romance collab with Steph Marie)
Sammi Cee Log (1)

Sammi Cee was raised in a family of readers. Summer vacations consisted of a good book while sitting lakeside from as far back as she could remember. After growing up and having her own children, her appreciation of how the written word could transport you on an adventure, bring you to tears, or give you hope, took on a whole new meaning.
These days Sammi is watching her children develop into fine young ladies while doing the things she enjoys most: drinking coffee, eating chocolate, and writing her own stories.

Sammi Cee Links:
Reading Past the Realm (Paranormal group):
Sammi Cee Global Links:
In You Series

Slate Mountain Wolf Pack (with Michelle Frost)
Stand Alone
The Brotherhood of Ormarr: (Dragon Rider Romance collab with Michele Notaro)

~My YA Books under Steph Marie~
The Triumphs of the Everette Brothers: (Contemporary YA)
The Brotherhood of Ormarr: (Dragon Rider Romance collab with Bobbie Rayne)

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Love or the NFL by Terry O'Reilly

Love or the NFL is out from JMS Books! Celebrate with author Terry O'Reilly and Signal Boost Promotions! Learn more about the contemporary romance and enter in the back list giveaway today!

Length: 48,596 words

Publisher: JMS Books


Gymnast Frank Bethune arrives on campus already enamored with the star tight end, Bill Billingsly. Although the chances of them meeting are slim, fate draws them together, and their friendship turns to love.

Ever since childhood, Bill has dreamed of playing professional football. Though high risk to his potential career, Bill would seek out clandestine encounters with other guys when and where he could, but the first time he spots Frank, Bill knows he is someone special, someone he could possibly share a life with. If he’s drafted, will Bill and Frank be able to continue their closeted relationship, running the risk of discovery? Or will they have to part company for the sake of Bill living out his dream?

Bill knows he’ll need to use all his considerable skills learned on the field to score the life he wants off of it, too. Either way, is happiness even possible when it’s the NFL vs. love?


“I better get going,” Bill finally said. “I have an early class tomorrow and practice in the afternoon.”

They got up. “Frodo ... I mean Frank, could I talk to you for a minute?” Bill said goodnight to Mark, and he and Frank went outside. They walked a ways down one of the sidewalks that wound around the dorms. Bill was quiet for some time, then without looking at Frank said, “I’m really sorry about the other night.”

“It’s okay,” Frank replied. “Like I said upstairs, it’s cool. I didn’t say anything to anyone.”

Bill turned to Frank. “I really appreciate that, you have no idea how much.”

“I think I kinda do,” Frank said, thinking of his minister father.

Bill walked to a nearby bench and sat down. He indicated Frank should sit as well.

After a few seconds, Bill said, “It’s really tough being a football player and ... gay. Things are changing but not really in the world of sports. Oh, they give some lip service to being accepting, but the reality is if you’re gay -- you’re through. Especially baseball and football -- the bastions of macho.”

Bill paused for a moment then added, “So, you see how really grateful I am that you’re okay with keeping my secret. I’ve got a chance to go pro, but not if I’m outed.”

“Aren’t you afraid Dennis will talk?”

“Yes. But I have to trust him. He says he won’t. But you never know.”

“Then why take that chance?” Frank asked, his affection for Bill igniting concern for the man.

Bill shook his head. “I know. That part of me is the dumb jock.”

Then he looked intently at Frank. “Gay guys have needs, too, and sometimes they let their dicks do the thinking, just like you straight guys.”

Frank wanted to tell Bill right there why he understood what the man was going through, but he hesitated, and Bill went on.

“So, I took a chance. Dennis isn’t out either. At least he tells me he isn’t. So I think I can depend on him. I hope I can anyway. We’ve been doing this for a couple years now, and he’s kept it a secret. Maybe someday I’ll be able to just be myself, but for now I can’t. I’m so glad you understand. Look, I better say good night. It’s getting late.” Bill stood up.

Frank stood, too. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure. Shoot.”

“Why do you call me Frodo?”

“Aw, geez. I hope my calling you that doesn’t make you feel bad, because I sure don’t mean it to.”

“No, it’s okay. I’m just curious. I actually kinda like it.”

Bill smiled. “Well, I’m a literature major, emphasis on British writers. Tolkien is my favorite. Ever read his stuff?”

“Yeah, I have. The books are a little tough to get through though. The movies were easier to understand.”

Bill nodded. “Well, I’m not sure J.R.R. would be pleased with the films, but they did make a lot of people read his books who might not have. Anyway, you know about Frodo then?”

“Sure -- hobbit and main character of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.”

Hero of The Lord of the Rings, and my favorite character of all time -- so brave, so vulnerable. When I saw you, I thought of him.”


“Well, and please don’t take offense, your size and ...”

“My furry feet? Hobbits have furry feet.”

“Do you have furry feet?” Bill asked, smile widening.

“Not really. Don’t have much fur anywhere actually.”

“Okay, so no furry feet, but there’s just something about you that makes me think, Frodo. I hope you don’t mind.”

Frank smiled. “No, I don’t mind at all.”

Just then the Burton Bell Tower clock chimed one.

“I’ve enjoyed being with you. It’s great to have someone I can be honest with. I hate to say it, but I really have to go,” Bill said.

Frank nodded.

“Good night then. See you at our next rehearsal, Frank.”

“You can call me Frodo if you want.”

“You got it, Frodo. Uh --” Bill looked around to make sure they were alone. “Would you mind if I gave you a hug?”

Frank nearly leapt into Bill’s arms. “No, that’d be okay with me,” he said, his heart jolting into high gear.

Bill walked back into the shadows and opened his arms. Frank stepped into them, his head nestled in the groove between Bill’s firm chest muscles. He could feel the swell of Bill’s cock press against his belly. Frank felt his dick hardening, but somehow he didn’t care. If that gave away his feelings for Bill, so be it.

They stood for a few seconds, then broke apart. Bill looked down into Frank’s eyes. For a moment, it looked to Frank like Bill might bend down and kiss him. He hoped so. But Bill merely said, “Good night, Frodo,” in a tone that was almost tender.

“Good night, Strider,” Frank said, using the name of Frodo’s protector from the Tolkien novels.

Bill shook his head slowly, smiling deeply. “Frodo, I think we’re gonna become very good friends.”

Bill walked away. Frank watched him go. Frodo’s heart was humming as he watched Strider disappear into the darkness.

Author Bio

Since retiring, Terry spends his time writing, working with animal rescue groups, walking his four dogs, and riding/showing his champion Quarter Horse. He also finds time to read and travel.

His interest in Native American culture stems from the fact that in tracing his heritage, he found his great grandfather was an Illini.

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Review: Nemesis (Alpha Unit One #2) by Chris T. Kat

Nicky Reed may have won the battle regarding baby shifters working as policemen, but he’s not so sure about the war. His mate and superior officer, Sam Black, is still overprotective with a capital O. As a result, Nicky sometimes finds himself repressing some of Tiny’s—his snow leopard cub other half’s—natural urges. Which leads to frustration on Nicky’s part.

With a new drug called Nemesis killing in record numbers, Alpha Unit One must find out who’s behind this horrible narcotic and get it off the streets—a tall enough order without press accusations that baby shifters are to blame for the team’s lack of success.

Their investigation into Nemesis leads Nicky and Sam and the rest of the team into unexpected waters. Will the stress rip the squad apart? The baby shifters may find themselves unable to perform the job they love: protecting the people of New York City. And Nicky may be in over his head—in more ways than one.

A consistent sequel that continues to expand on its original concept, so if you like shifter stories, if you like bonded mates all tied up with a law enforcement trope, then one should enjoy this.

Again, Alpha Unit One is faced with a new threat known as Nemesis, a drug that can have far reaching repercussions for both humans and shifters alike. Ever present is the extremist group that wants equal rights for both baby and small shifters by any means possible, and it’s no surprise to discover that they also have their hand in making and distributing the deadly substance.

Nicky, now infamous for being the first baby shifter allowed to serve on the force, is still trying to be accepted. Not only does he have a lot of insecurities but it doesn’t help that his team leader and mate Sam, also has a hard time reigning in his topmost instinct to keep Nicky safe from the job’s dangers. These two have some growing pains to go through, and they will have to quickly learn to trust each other if they’re to be successful as a team and as a couple.

Some caveats

  • -This is still reminiscent of THIRDS. Really reminiscent.
  • -This still has unexplained things that mess with my higher thinking skills and drive me batty (ie. clothes just magically disappear and reappear with shifting).
  • -There’s lots of personalities and possessiveness and drama on this team of humans and shifters that’s a tad cheesy and OTT but hey, I could say that about the aforementioned other series that I happen to love.

However, I challenge you to not be affected by the adorable endearing extreme cuteness, for these shifters in their baby forms cannot be denied all the cooing and awwwing that will ensue.

Obviously, what this succeeds at for me is the baby shifter dynamic and though it continues to boggle, I can’t resist reading more about it. Toss in some suspense and action (though reminiscent of the first book), some smexy, and all the various big and small shifters that make up this world, and this was easy reading. So, if you’re in the mood for fluff regarding a trope that is both reliable but with a twist, this might catch your fancy!

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

Giveaway + Release Blitz: Jesus Kid by Kayleigh Sky

Jesus Kid is out now & you can join in the celebration with author Kayleigh Sky & Signal Boost Promotions by entering in the giveaway to win your very own e-copy of the book! Find out more about this post-apocalyptic romance below.

Length: 482 pages

Cover Design: Tiferet Design


Thirty years ago, an asteroid stuck the Earth. Now killer plants hunt the last surviving humans.

Ori Scott is a young junkie running from his mother’s prophecy that he’d one day save the world from the killer plants. Her preaching made him a laughingstock and now he hides in his drugs. But he can’t hide the change in his veins. They are turning green, and the prophecy is dragging him into a dark struggle between invisible forces. Set up on bogus drug charges, Ori is taken to a secret facility where he becomes a test subject in experiments to discover an antidote to the alien plant’s sting.

Jack Doll is a cop with a vendetta against the plants that killed his best friend. All he has in the world now is his old friend’s lover, Rive. Together they form an unbreakable bond—or so he thought. Jack has never liked Rive’s friend, Ori, but he believes in Ori’s innocence and doesn’t understand Rive’s strange indifference to Ori’s conviction. Struggling with his suspicions, Jack can’t help digging into a mystery that draws him closer to Ori than ever before—and closer to somebody who has secrets to hide.

Alone and scared, Ori is grateful for Jack Doll’s friendship, and his longtime crush soon blossoms into love. But Ori has no plans to accept his fate. He wants to escape, and he doesn’t care if he takes the cure with him.

Author Bio:

So… About me. I’ve never run a marathon or scaled Mt. Everest. I’ve never scuba dived or sky dived. I’ve surfed though. That was fun. I have six tattoos, and I really love ink. I also love all plants. Zinnias are one of my favorite flowers. If you’ve never see a zinnia, look it up. Very pretty. It’s an old-timey plant but super easy to grow. Anyway, the big thing I do is write m/m erotic romance. But as much as I love romance and sex, I really love going deep into the dark with my characters. What are their wounds? How can I peel them raw and drag them into the light? This leads to some fairly dark stories sometimes, but even the dark ones come with humor. I think the contradictions in people are ripe for hilarious scene setups. I need humor and light in my life—otherwise, I go into some pretty dark places myself. I live with only one cat now—I once had thirteen. That was crazy. I take up most of the things I research for my characters—photography, tarot, and jewelry making for example. I even bought a recorder once because Ori from Jesus Kid played one. I love that part of my job. I also love to walk and lift weights. I’m not a big fan of yoga—just throwing that out there. So far, all of my characters embody something of me, and all of my characters have given me something of them. But no matter what the struggle is from book to book, love always wins out. I'm strong on plot, strong on character, stronger on love. You can count on happily ever after from me every time. I write my stories to open hearts and uplift spirits. Love matters. It counts. And it's for everyone. 






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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: The Good Green Earth (Colors Of Love #3) by V.L. Locey

Join V.L. Locey and Signal Boost Promotions as they reveal the cover for upcoming romance, The Good Green Earth (Colors Of Love #3)! Learn more about the September release and enter in the back list eBook from the author!

Release Date: September 18 2019

Cover Design: Designs By Sloan

Length: 75,000 words approx.

Colors Of Love Series

Book #1 - Lost In Indigo - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book #2 - Touch Of A Yellow Sun - Amazon US | Amazon UK


After the Syracuse Stallions clinch the championship, Nathan Zinkan, the renowned wild man of the AHL is arrested for a DUI. Again. When a no-nonsense judge adds a heavy dose of community service to an already stiff sentence, Nathan has to forget a summer of partying and slide on a pair of gardening gloves. His entire future now rides on how well he can behave while helping elderly urban gardeners tend to their tomatoes.

Watching local garden center owner Bran Cavanaugh working without his shirt is a benefit he wasn’t expecting. Pity Bran is also the one in charge of the community garden as well as keeping tabs on Nathan’s hours served. The two men are instantly at odds due to Nathan’s rebellious nature and Bran’s icy demeanor. Yet there’s no denying the attraction that begins to build between the hot-headed athlete and the cool as a cucumber master gardener.

Will their attraction grow into something deeper, or will it wither and die on the vine?

USA Today Bestselling Author V.L. Locey – Penning LGBT hockey romance that skates into sinful pleasures.

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, Torchwood and Dr. Who, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a pair of geese, far too many chickens, and two steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in one hand and a steamy romance novel in the other.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: After the Final Curtain (Social Sinners #5) by TL Travis

Welcome TL Travis & Signal Boost Promotions who are celebrating the latest release in the Social Sinners series, After the Final Curtain! Find out more & be sure to enter in the giveaway for a backlist ebook from the author!

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link - Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited.

Length: 89 pages

Social Sinners Series

Book 1 is the only book in the series that can be read as a stand-alone.

Book 1 – Behind the lights (MM) - Amazon US | Amazon UK -

Book 2 – In The Shadows (MM) - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book 3 – A Heart Divided (MMM) - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book 4 – Beyond The Curtain (MM) - Amazon US | Amazon UK

Book 5 – After The Final Curtain (MM/MMM)


What do our boys have in store for us this time around?

Through pain, attempted suicide, addiction and loss their bond never faltered. They’ve watched other bands come and go; some weren’t cut out for life on the road. Others simply…disappeared.

But they climbed their way to the top, one painstaking grip at a time. So, what’s up next for our boys?

Book 5, After the Final Curtain is the fifth and final installment in the Social Sinners series. This book comes, with a surprise announcement.

Author Bio

TL Travis is the author of The Sebastian Chronicles along with numerous other erotic novelettes (and many more in the works), The Elders Trilogy - an erotic paranormal (Vampire) romance novel series and many non-fiction articles.

In her spare time she likes to fish, enjoy all the Pacific Northwest has to offer, spin spicy erotic webs for readers to enjoy, and rescue any 4 legged lost souls she comes across. Since her children are grown and have flown the coop, she’s taken to spoiling her two deaf white boxers even more so than they were before.

To view TL Travis literary and photography works please visit her website

TL Travis can also be followed on Facebook at

Or via twitter at

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Guest Review: It's in My Blood - Criminal Delights: Obsession by Sean Azinsalt

Death eventually comes for us all. But what if there’s a way for older people to regain their youth? To stay a step ahead of the grim reaper?

Turning 40 was the last straw for me. It’s practically 60 in gay years and I wasn’t ready for dentures yet, so I came to Youthology — a program that injects clients with blood transfusions from young, fit and healthy donors.

I chose Nick.

Handsome. Masculine. And more importantly, young.

I thought I hit the lottery, until my life started to change for the worst. Not even the top medical experts can explain what happened to me. From the moment Nick’s blood flooded into my veins, I stopped being me, and I became something new; something dangerous and deadly.

I became my donor.

His obsessions are mine now. His darkest desires, his dreams, his needs, and nightmares are all a part of me, and I don’t want to let them go.

I embrace them and the beautiful boy who haunts both of our dreams.

My blood pact was sealed the moment I entered Youthology.

I never thought I’d become a killer.

This book is part of CRIMINAL DELIGHTS. Each novel can be read as a standalone and contains a dark M/M romance.

Warning: These books are for adult readers who enjoy stories where lines between right and wrong get blurry. High heat, twisted and tantalizing, these are not for the fainthearted.

Reviewer: Annery

Sean Azinsalt, is a ‘new to me’ author, who also writes as Shane Morton, and this is Bk.11 in the CRIMINAL DELIGHTS series. I don’t think (I hope) the reading order matters. I haven’t read the others, but I think it’s more of a thematic link, rather than continuing or interconnected stories. The theme being love or rather lust in the dark alleys of the soul. I liked this one.

Mark Edwards is a stereotypical, but no less authentic, NYC gay man. He works as the lifestyle and fashion editor for an online magazine, and though fit and good looking, he’s on the verge of a nervous breakdown because he’s turning 40, which is like 60 in gay years. He’s not wrong, and he’s also endearingly self aware. You can’t hate him. To portray him otherwise, particularly in his line of work, would be false. Rescue, destiny, or a curse, depending on how you look at it, comes via a work assignment. Mark is the research guinea pig for a series of articles, he himself will write, about a company called Youthology which promises to reverse the effects of aging by the transfusion of blood from a young, vital, and healthy person directly into the veins of their clients. As you can imagine things take an unexpected turn.

I liked the author’s grasp on the geography and culture of the city, while also not getting super specific. I liked the interactions between Mark, his friends, and his work colleagues. It helped ground a story that, for some reason, had me both in mind of a vampiric folk tale, cannibalism, and ”Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

Even though he has some doubt as to the science of the treatment, Mark proceeds, and at first things are even better than he would’ve hoped for. His energy and vitality are skyrocketing, he’s become a gym rat with the body to prove it, and even his sexual proclivities have changed. Bottom to top. However there are additional, unexpected, and unwelcome changes too. It would seem that Mark is taking on, not only the physical attributes of his ‘donor’, Nick, but also his dark dreams and desires. Nick is not a nice guy. Will Mark remain a nice guy? Define nice. We all do what we deem is right or necessary. Are Mark’s decisions prompted by the alien DNA living in his bloodstream, or where these latent qualities given a nudge by Nick’s blood. Given that Mark was given a choice of picking his ‘donor’, after reading bios and seeing pictures, was his choice of Nick a reasoned one or the call of something deeper? The author doesn’t answer, or even directly ask many this questions, but reading this did prompt them in me along with a light meditation on free will, narcissism, and the different shades of right and wrong. Not a bad way to spend a few hours.

If you came for the smex, it’s here! Brutal, raw, and most of it skirting the edge of bad/wrong, but who am I to say, when it’s what the participants want? There isn’t much romance, this series isn’t about that, though you could argue that the dark roads Mark takes are prompted by love or obsession. To each their own.

***This could use a once over by an editor to fix weird switches in tense and assorted distractions.***

Guest Review: Kiss Me Again by Garrett Leigh

Tree surgeon Aidan Drummond is content with his own company. He works alone, and lives alone, and it doesn’t occur to him to want anything else until a life-changing accident lands him in hospital. Then a glimpse of the beautiful boy in the opposite bed changes everything.

Ludo Giordano is trapped on the ward with a bunch of old men. His mind plays tricks on him, keeping him awake. Then late one night, a new face brings a welcome distraction. Their unlikely friendship is addictive. And, like most things in Ludo’s life, temporary.

Back in the real world, Aidan’s monochrome existence is no longer enough. He craves the colour Ludo brought him, and when a chance meeting brings them back together, before long, they’re inseparable again.

But bliss comes with complications. Aidan is on the road to recovery, but Ludo has been unwell his entire life, and that’s not going to change. Aidan can kiss him as much as he likes, but if he can’t help Ludo when he needs him most, they don’t stand a chance.

Reviewer: Annika

Kiss Me Again is not a happy story. It’s almost bleak and subdued in a way. Just like Aidan and Ludo are. There’s not much happiness or warmth really, the pages are loaded with pain, angst and struggle. It was well written as you could feel the despair coming of the pages. At times it nearly drowned you too. Just like it did Aidan and Ludo.

Garrett Leigh has a way with words. The way she painted Aidan and Ludo, their feelings and the world they saw. She pulled you in, made you walk among the trees marveling at them. Made you a part of Aidan and Ludo’s lives. I almost want to say existence – at least in Aidan’s case.

Their romance scares me just a little bit. They are both tethering on a cliffs edge and a whiff of air can make them tumble over. You can’t doubt their connection, or obsession with each other. They both have this innate instinct about what the other needs. It was there from the moment they met, lying beside each other in the hospital. Yet at the same time, theirs is a romance that have the power to really and truly shatter each other beyond repair if something goes wrong.

Many books depicting disabled or mentally ill characters still have this light and hopeful fell to them. This “I’m going to conquer the world” mentality. Kiss Me Again was on the other side of the spectrum. The harsh reality of it. Where a single thought has the ability to send you down the rabbit hole without a clear way up. Where you can’t trust what you see and hear. It was humbling to learn of the struggles that others don’t or won’t see.

I don’t think that this is a book that I will go back and read again, but it is one I’m glad to have read. It stands out for all the right reasons.

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

Review: Paint It Black (Beneath the Stain #2) by Amy Lane

Everybody thinks Mackey Sanders’s Outbreak Monkey is the last coming of Rock ’n’ Roll Jesus, but Cheever Sanders can’t wait to make a name for himself where nobody expects him to fill his famous brothers’ shoes. He’s tired of living in their shadow.

Blake Manning has been one of Outbreak Monkey’s lead guitarists for ten years. He got this gig on luck and love, not talent. So hearing that Cheever is blowing through Outbreak Monkey’s hard-earned money in an epic stretch of partying pisses him off.

Blake shows up at Cheever’s nonstop orgy to enforce some rules, but instead of a jaded punk, he finds a lost boy as talented at painting as Mackey is at song-making, and terrified to let anybody see the real him. Childhood abuse and a suicide attempt left Cheever on the edge of survival—a place Blake knows all too well.

Both men have to make peace with being second banana in the public eye. Can they find the magic of coming absolute first with each other?

Cheever watched his brothers rocket to stardom, while he remained behind in the hellhole of their hometown. Full of resentment and broken by trauma, Cheever barely makes it day by day.

When it finally becomes too much, Cheever decides to end it permanently. But Blake gets to him just in time.

Blake may have gotten fame and money through the band, but he still has scars from his own past. He knows he needs to take care of Cheever, for as much his own sake as Cheever’s.

Cheever was a decidedly unlikeable character in ‘Beneath the Stain’. He was an awful brother, and just unpleasant.

But it turns out there were some underlying reasons for it all. Heartbreaking reasons.

‘Paint It Black’ is full-on angst-and-pain Amy Lane. My heart broke for Cheever. He definitely could have been a better brother in book 1, but he was just a kid after all. And one who went through the worst.

Seeing Outbreak Monkey’s rise to fame through Cheever’s eyes certainly put things in perspective. The band may have struggled, but so did the people they left behind.

And so it’s not surprising that Cheever would latch on to Blake so quickly, as deprived of love and friendship as Cheever was.

Blake, used to being the one who fades into the back, suddenly becomes someone’s center of everything. He was incredibly sweet. He’s not a hero, and makes mistakes, but he was completely committed to Cheever from the get-go.

Plus, they had the support of the Outbreak Monkey family.

This was the part of the book I struggled with - Outbreak Monkey was just a bit too domestic. The band’s become a bit of a commune. They’re all constantly up in each other’s business.

Though what really made me a tad uneasy was the gender roles within that commune. The Outbreak Monkey women seem to have become relegated solely to childrearing. It didn’t fully mesh with how I remember them from book 1.

While Blake and Cheever fell for each other fairly quickly, I wouldn’t call it insta-love. There’s years of history beforehand, just not in a romantic sense. And when it’s meant to be, it’s meant to be!

The two men struggle through a lot, and get thrown a few curveballs (it’s Amy Lane, after all). But both were committed to dealing with the issues, past and present, to get to their happy ending.

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Paint It Black’. It wasn’t as grand of a romance as Beneath the Stain, but still delivered the angst, complex emotions, growth, and true love you can expect from this author!

A review copy was provided.