Guest Review: A Husband for Santa by Doreen Heron

Father Christmas knows his time delivering presents is coming to an end, and his son is more than ready to take his place at the helm of the sleigh. But family tradition stands in Turk’s way.

He must find a Mrs. Claus to help share the burden. Unfortunately for tradition, he would rather a husband than a wife, and he doesn’t have time to meet anyone anyway.

At the same time, Christmasologist and PhD candidate Symeon Golightly finds himself sad and alone over the holidays.

Maybe a chance encounter and a Christmas wish will bring them together.







Reviewer: Shee Reader

I adore a cute Christmas romance more than just about anyone I know, but I love a new premise for said romance even more!

Father Christmas is due to step down and hand over the magic to his son, but knows his son would do better with a Mrs Claus to help him along. Turk is deeply offended that his parents think he couldn’t do the job himself, plus he’d much rather a husband, so off he storms to London, England. As if by magic *squee* Turk crosses paths with Sym, and guess what, they are perfect for each other!

Turk is enjoying his year off to date Sym and may have accidentally told his boyfriend who he is really, when he is called back to the North Pole as his father is unwell.

This is a super cute and adorable tale that is a very quick and cheery festive read. The HEA is decent, but I would have loved more!

Recommended.

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



Blog Tour + Giveaway: Nicki's Fight (Twin Peeks Bookstore Romance #2) by Mellanie Rourke


Nicki's Fight (Twin Peeks Bookstore Romance #2) blog tour visits us today! Join author Mellanie Rourke and Vibrant Promotions as they promote the second chance romance. Check it out and enter in the giveaway to win your own eBook copy!

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Nicki's Fight
Twin Peeks Bookstore Romance Book 2
Mellanie Rourke
M/M Romance
Release Date 12.09.19

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Blurb

KAINE
A lifetime of abandonment leaves its mark on a person. So much so that when Nicki left, it made a twisted sort of sense. After all, everyone else I had loved in this world had left me, why should he be any different?
Six years later and he’s back in my life. He’s still the same Nicki. Still the same sensitive, intelligent, loving and compassionate man he was years ago. Except…there are shadows in his eyes that were never there before. How do I love him again, trust him again? If he disappears now, there’s no way I’d survive.

NICKI
I love Kaine Devereaux. I always have. But sometimes love just isn’t enough. When my family moved thousands of miles away to chase the dream of a cure for my mysterious illness, Kaine and I had no idea that more than distance would end up separating us.
How do I ask Kaine to trust me again when I almost destroyed him? How do I ask him to love me again, when I’m still haunted by the specter of my past?

Nicki’s Fight is a M/M Romance with danger, heat, and a snarky cat who saves a life. This story does include explicit sex scenes and descriptive domestic abuse. Please pay heed to the Trigger Warning: Scenes of domestic violence and abuse
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Excerpt
“Nicki… What happened?” he asked. “I can’t help but feel like there is something major you haven’t told me. Something more than just your parents breaking up kept you away for six years.”

I jerked away from Kaine and headed for the door. Why had I thought I could do this? He deserved so much better than me. He deserved someone stronger, someone who would have fought, who would have found a way to escape. Someone who wasn’t sick, who wouldn’t die and leave him, like so many other people had left him…

Through the dark storm raging in my head, a little voice tried to convince me that I could tell Kaine the whole story, that he’d understand what I’d done to protect my mother. To protect him. That voice was drowned out by the flood of vile words I’d absorbed from my father like a sponge.

I made it to the door before I was able to force myself to stop running. I leaned against it, shaking my head in the vain hope that I could shake off the sound of my father’s voice. I saw my palms flat against the wooden door, the hated tattoos staring at me.

How was Kaine going to react when he found out about the deal I’d made with my father? Would Kaine agree if he knew my dad hated me? What if he thought being sick was some kind of punishment, that I was an abomination? A worthless waste of human flesh, who had caused my parents to split and humiliated my father…

I felt like I was standing on a precipice. To either side of me a yawning chasm that threatened to swallow me whole. My terror of Kaine’s judgment made the breath in my lungs freeze and I stood leaning against the door. Then I felt it… a touch, feather light, gently running over my back. I tried to pull away. I didn’t want him to feel my scars, to know… Fuck!

To know how fucking weak I was.

I made myself turn back around and I took a deep, hoarse breath that turned into a cough that rumbled through my chest. Nausea swirled in my gut as I tried to get the words out, to tell him what had happened…

“I—My dad, he— he was—” I saw Kaine’s eyes narrow and his jaw clench. I tried to choke out an explanation, but the words still wouldn’t come. I felt the censure in his gaze. “Fuck, Kaine! I’m so sorry…” I doubled over with a sob, my hands grabbing my hair in a punishing grip, the pain anchoring me in the midst of my emotional storm.

I couldn’t speak, just shook my head wildly in frustration as Kaine tried to talk to me, but the words were just noise roaring in my ears. I couldn’t get the words out to tell him, so I did the only thing I could do. I showed him.

I stood up quickly and ripped the shirt off over my head and turned my back to him, head bowed. I could feel my whole body flushing with humiliation, my face scarlet as I faced the closed bedroom door. A full-length mirror hung on the back of it, and I could see the look of horror on Kaine’s face. I knew what he’d see, and the shame of it stung through my body like a million angry bees. I’d seen it hundreds of times in my own mirror.

Sound returned slowly, and I heard him gasp as he saw my back. Then I heard a whispered, “What the fuck…”

I just shook my head as I showed him my secret, my shame.

If I’d just done better, been better, Dad wouldn’t have done it. If I hadn’t been gay, I could have been a better son, a better man, and he wouldn’t have been pushed to this extreme. It was all my fault.



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About the Author
Mellanie Rourke lives in Akron, Ohio with her loving (and long-suffering) husband, snarky children, and furry menagerie.
She has been writing since she was a child but never had the impulse to publish until she was introduced to the world of MM Romance.
Now her husband has to put up with a variety of new ways to say "penis", and her children aren't allowed to tell their teachers what she writes.
For more information on Mellanie's upcoming work, join her Facebook group Misfits & Malcontents at https://www.facebook.com/groups/MisfitsandMalcontents/

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Review: The Lost Boy by Anna Martin

Five years after his band Ares shot to success, Ben Easton is struggling. He’s holed up in a mansion in Los Angeles while he fights depression and a dark drug addiction that threatens to destroy everything. In a final attempt to save Ben’s life, his best friend Tone does something desperate—he calls Ben’s ex-boyfriend Stan and begs him to help.

Stan Novikov is living in New York and thriving in his career as a fashion journalist. He hasn’t been back to London since he and Ben broke up, but that seems like the right place to go—along with Tone—to try and shock Ben out of his unhealthy lifestyle.

The band have to finish their album before Christmas but without Ben, work has stalled. Ben has to decide whether he’s going to stay with Ares and keep making music, or find another path for his future. One that might just include Stan.



This is a story about redemption, salvation and finding home.

Ben and Stan had found a home in each other but life happened and it slipped away. Now, five years later Ben is mired in an addiction that's on the verge of killing him when Tone intervenes and brings them back together. Good ole Tone.

The blurb is pretty straightforward and the narrative is as well, so I'll refrain from summarizing. Suffice to say, it's brimming with the same unfussy writing and unambiguous dialogue that enchanted me in The Impossible Boy.

Life is tough enough without histrionics and that is what works most for me with this duet. Stan is a gay, gender fluid, fashionista with an eating disorder and Ben is a bisexual rockstar with anxiety and a raging drug addiction. Simply navigating the hands they've been dealt while being ever mindful of the landmines that could trigger either of them into a relapse that would quite literally kill them is more than enough to deal with on a daily basis.

But make no mistake becoming 'we' again is an odyssey that is both heartbreaking and joyous, gritty and poignant, just without antics. I found the honesty of Ben's addiction and the stripped down approach to his recovery refreshing. He's an addict. He'll always be an addict but what resonated with me was the fact that he undertakes treatment for himself with Stan's help rather than for Stan and I applaud Ms. Martin for making that distinction.

More than once along the way I found myself becoming emotional while reading The Lost Boy. I actually think 'The Lost Boys' is a more apropos title since they've both lost a part of themselves through their separation; both are shadows of their former selves. I guess losing your soulmate will do that to a person. Rebuilding the trust between them is incremental; the love is still there. Always. Learning how to do it again with all the new extraneous stuff factored in is the trick, so expect more of a love story than an erotic romance.

Some will probably say the story is meandering and could've been tightened up and they may be right but, honestly, I didn't care. I wanted more time with Stan and Ben and that's what I got, so zero complaints from me. I don't know that I can let them go now but I'm happy with how their story ended and, frankly, I cannot bear the thought of them breaking up again. So, au revoir, Stan and Ben. Be well. I'll see you in a reread.

Fans of The Impossible Boy, this is a must read.
If you enjoy love stories free of artifice, this duet is golden.
If you enjoy second chances, The Lost Boy is a melodic ballad to the trope.
If you enjoy fashion or rockstars, this is an ode to both.
Lastly, it's a love song to London so if that appeals, give it a whirl.


Triggers for mentions of sexual assault and drug usage.


An ARC was provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.


Amazon US Link
Amazon UK Link

Re-Release Blitz + Giveaway: Saving Sean (Seattle Stories #2) by Con Riley


Join author Con Riley & Signal Boost Promotions in celebrating the re-release of Saving Sean (Seattle Stories #2). Find out more about this contemporary romance & enter in the giveaway to win your own e-copy of the book!





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

Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Seattle Stories 

Book #1 - After Ben - Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal Link


Blurb

No more running from love…


Nearly a year after being rejected for another man, Seattle paramedic Peter Morse is still pining, so when the one that got away asks him for a favor, he agrees. His mission: track down Sean Reid, the runaway brother of a mutual friend. Peter isn’t thrilled about it—until he finds Sean injured by the side of the road.


Everything about Sean stirs Peter’s protective instincts—saving people is what he lives for—but he never anticipated falling for someone so hell-bent on running from him. On top of his physical wounds, Sean struggles with grief and guilt, and the mess his estranged father left when he died threatens to overwhelm him.


Saving Sean means Peter must let go of his pride and turn to friends and family. Asking for help is a bitter pill for Peter to swallow, but if he can’t, how can he expect Sean to accept his help—and his love—in turn?



CON RILEY lives on the wild and rugged Devonshire coast, with her head in the clouds and her feet in the Atlantic Ocean. Injury curtailed her enjoyment of outdoor pursuits, so writing fiction now fills her free time instead. Love, loss, and redemption shape her romance stories, and her characters are flawed in ways that make them live and breathe. When not people-watching or wrangling her own boy band of teen sons, she spends time staring at the sea from her kitchen window. If you see her, don’t disturb her—she’s probably thinking up new plots.





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Review: The Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings (Black and Blue #1) by Lily Morton

Levi Black is at a crossroads. After suffering a loss and breaking up a long-term relationship, he’s looking for a change. When he receives the news he’s inherited a house in York, he seizes the opportunity to begin a new chapter in his life.

However, when he gets there, he finds a house that has never kept its occupants for very long. Either through death or disinclination, no one stays there, and after a few days of living in the place, Levi can understand why. Strange noises can be heard at all hours of the day and night, and disturbing and scary things begin to happen to him. He never believed in ghosts before, but when events take a sinister turn, he knows he must look for help. He finds it in the unlikely form of the blue-haired leader of a ghost tour.

Blue Billings is edgy, beautiful, and lost. Utterly lost. He conceals so many secrets that some days it’s a miracle he remembers his own name. He knows that he should ignore Levi because he threatens the tenuous grip Blue has on survival. But there’s something about the kind-eyed man that draws Blue to him. Something that demands he stay and fight for him when he would normally run in the opposite direction.

As the two men investigate the shocking truth behind Levi’s house, they also discover a deep connection that defies the short length of time they’ve known each other. But when events escalate and his life is on the line, Levi has to wonder if it was wise to trust the Mysterious and Amazing Blue Billings.



Wtfffff… where did all these creepy ass ghosts come from Lily? I chose this thinking it would be full of snark, funny ghosts, some suspense, and main characters having a merry ol’ time. Yeah nah! This was creepy AF, and I was unable to read it at night because #wimp. However, this nightmare inducing read was done really well even if it’s worlds away from my other favorites she has written.

Grab your snuggie and buckle up because there’s a serial killer ghost on the loose and he wants what’s his.

The blurb sets the story up rather nicely so we start as Levi has given up the London life for York after some rough times. The expensive house he inherits is just the ticket to smooth the way for him to start anew. Everything is going amazing as he gets the key to his new house and gets ready for demo day. Well, as amazing as it can with a house that makes noises, feeling like you’re being watched, doors slamming, windows opening, and many of creepy things that can’t be explained. Luckily there are ghost tours taking place in York and it’s there that Levi meets Blue, the tour guide.

Blue is homeless, has an awful past, and knows how important it is to rely on himself and no-one else. As the blurb mentions, he’s broken and Levi’s kindness throws him for a loop. What begins as Levi offering Blue a place to live in exchange for information on the possible ghosts residing in his house, turns into a sweet relationship that has a solid foundation. Levi and Blue move slowly through each phase of their relationship as Levi shows Blue how he deserves to be treated. Gahhhh they’re so sweet and funny together, when they aren’t running for their lives. Don’t get me wrong… along with creepy ass ghosts are moments laced with humor, chemistry, and imperfect characters finding their way to a little bit (or a lot) of happy.

I’m not sure I want to encourage Morton to continue writing ghost stories with this creep factor but this is enjoyable during the daylight hours. *shrug* There was a friendly ghost without many boundaries that made me cackle so I suppose that evens it out a bit. Anywho, clearly I’m along for the ride on Morton books and this one was no exception. I love Levi and Blue. Recommended.



An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Hunt (Psychic Underground #2) by Sarah Elkins


Happy New Year!

Author Sarah Elkins and IndiGo Marketing are here celebrating the release of The Hunt (Psychic Underground #2)! Learn more today and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!



Title: The Hunt
Series: Psychic Underground, Book Two
Author: Sarah Elkins
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: No Romance
Length: 82100
Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, psychic ability, shifters, captivity, law enforcement/FBI, fantasy, medical personnel, shifters, paranormal

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Synopsis

The Facility is undergoing repairs after a chaotic failed escape attempt by several psychic test subjects some months ago. Neila and Henry’s mission is to locate potential psychics for the scientists at the Facility to study, but they have other ideas.

Neila can’t shake the idea of Nikola Tesla from her mind, and it’s getting worse as bizarre things start happening to herself and Henry. As they hunt for more about Neila’s possible past life, they aren’t sure if they will find answers or if they will become the hunted.

Things are not peaceful back at the Facility as troubling secrets come to light, and the Psychic Underground may never be the same.

Excerpt

The Hunt
Sarah Elkins © 2019
All Rights Reserved

The repair work on the Facility was slow going, but the director refused to forego using her office. The ceiling was still missing. New modern cameras, a phone, and internet were being installed: the works.

Director Lianne McClaine sat behind her desk with her elbows on several paper files while she read the results from her last checkup with her oncologist on her tablet. The cancer had vanished. Out of nowhere. Gone. Her doctor was sure there had to be some sort of error with her previous tests. Cancer didn’t just go away.

Not the type she had.

The newly installed landline phone rang on her desk.

“Director McClaine,” she said, leaving her answer vague. A director could be in charge of all sorts of things. No need to out their secret operation because of a wrong number.

“Director, you wanted to see us?” Agent Henry Anderson replied. She remembered him saving her life. The painful feeling of them being temporarily linked; her bullet wounds healing at his beckoning. He had hijacked her body with his shapeshifting ability, but it had saved her life. She wasn’t sure how to feel about it. Despite being grateful to be alive, she also felt violated. The director tried to put the latter feeling out of her mind.

“Yes. You and Blackbird report to my office.”

“Yes, ma’am.” The call ended.

The director glanced over the two paper files once more before she put them back in the bottom drawer of her desk. Agent Henry Anderson’s blood work and DNA tests had the same error the other shapeshifters at the Facility had. The results read as if he had just had a minor blood transfusion from multiple donors. There were traces from more than one blood type. The sort of errors that are normally attributed to contaminated samples. She should have noticed the pattern, even if the doctors hadn’t made the connection. They still hadn’t, but no denying it, he was a shapeshifter.

Henry’s results weren’t the only ones with the error. Besides the known shapeshifters, there were two others with the same anomaly: the pyrokinetic, Wallace, who had been killed by Shorty four and a half months before and “Blackbird” Neila Roddenberry, who had killed Shorty after he had almost succeeded in killing everyone in the Facility.

The whole incident had been a complete clusterfuck. Shorty, a telekinetic ex-con who, sick of being a prisoner and test subject in the Facility, rallied the rest of his test group of four men, Blue Team, to lead an escape attempt. The only reason anyone survived was because Henry had joined forces with several other test subjects.

Three members of Green Team, the shapeshifters, used their powers to help the perpetually disoriented group of telepaths and several doctors escape, bypassing the Facility’s biometric scans by copying Lianne’s own DNA. Green Team’s efforts weren’t what put an end to the assault though. Shorty had his eyes on another test subject, the only other one down on paper as an agent, Neila Roddenberry. The woman had more than one ability and the skill to use them.

After a vicious fight between members of Shorty’s Blue Team and the Facility’s surviving pyrokinetic, a nonbinary person named Lor, that wrecked the hallway leading to the Facility’s solitary holding cell, Henry managed to free Neila from the holding cell. Lianne wasn’t entirely clear on what happened afterward, but the two men Shorty sent to reach the Hole were soon very dead.

Not long after, Shorty and his remaining team member found the director, killed her guards, and almost killed Lianne just before he brutally broke Neila’s leg and dragged the small woman away by her hair.

Director McClaine was surprised she hadn’t been handed her ass on a platter by her superiors. They wanted an excuse to privatize the work the Facility was doing. The vultures circling the Facility had only grown in number since the incident. Defense contractors were interested in taking over where the clandestine government agency had continually failed. Private companies like White Rook and HUGO Defense had personnel trained to use the abilities most people assumed were utter bullshit, such as psychic powers like telekinesis, telepathy, pyrokinesis, shapeshifting, and God knew what else. The federal government was behind the private sector and had been for years. All Director McClaine had left was one more strike, just one more mistake, and she’d disappear into another dark hole somewhere. And even God wouldn’t have a clue what would happen to everyone else at the Facility.

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Meet the Author

Sarah Elkins is a comic artist and writer who nearly had to give up art entirely due to a form of ossifying tennis elbow that forced her to be unable to use her dominate hand for nearly a year. She spent much of that time writing novels with her left hand as a means to deal with the pain and stress of possibly never drawing again. Thanks to a treatment regimen she is able to draw again albeit not as easily or quickly as she once did.

Sarah enjoys reading science fiction, horror, fantasy, weird stories, comics of every sort, as well as any biographical material about Nikola Tesla she can get her hands on (that doesn’t suggest he was from Venus.) She has worked in the comics industry since 2008 as a flatter (colorist assistant,) penciler, inker, and colorist. She contributed a comic to the massive anthology project Womanthology. Currently she (slowly) produces a webcomic called Magic Remains while writing as much as her body will allow.

Facebook | Twitter | Deviant Art

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Essex Colony (The Moon Mirror #1) by Lia Cooper


Welcome Lia Cooper and IndiGo Marketing as they celebrate the release of Essex Colony (The Moon Mirror #1)! Discover more about the science fiction romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!


Title: Essex Colony
Series: The Moon Mirror, Book One
Author: Lia Cooper
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 36600
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBT, mutations, scientists, space travel, moon colonists, AI, shifter, interspecies, alien influence

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Synopsis

It’s been 227 days since Essex Colony’s last transmission…

Dispatched to the surface of Essex Prime and tasked with discovering what happened to the colony, Doctor Soran Ingram discovers that most of the colonists are dead and the surviving Executive Officer—Aline Aster—has turned into a ravening wolf-beast. The human survivors claim the XO and her Lunaran fellows went mad and killed everyone, but Soran has her doubts.

Following Aster’s testimony, as well as clues left behind, Soran embarks on a fact-finding mission to retrace the colony’s last steps before disaster struck.

She’ll soon discover more than uncertainty lurks in the dark spaces of the world.

Excerpt

Essex Colony
Lia Cooper © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Federal Standard Days since Last Essex Colony Transmission…227

Essex Colony, Location: Essex Prime/Equatorial 10S, Greenwich Meridian

06:55 AM, Colony Time

Soran stood at the forward port viewing station on board the starship Emery and watched Essex Prime spin slowly below her, a bright blue and green marble hanging in the dark of space. Technically speaking, the planet bore only a superficial resemblance to Earth, but she could see the appeal it must have had for the Earther colonists who had signed on to colonize it for the company. In her time working aboard the Emery, she had learned the importance of superficiality for her Earther colleagues. Something as simple as a color was often enough to evoke an emotional resonance for them.

They had picked Essex Prime for colonization because someone in the company had nicknamed it Earth 3—not to be confused with Earth 2, a planet locally know as L’n’ze-q24—but Soran wondered what they would find when they went down there now. Two hundred and twenty-seven days since since the colony’s last official transmission plus no sign of comms signals since the Emery crossed into local communication range combined into an anxious loop in Soran’s lesser subroutines. Fear, she realized, fear of what they would find.

Essex Prime wouldn’t be the first colony lost to catastrophic failure, whether from some unforeseen natural disaster or a breakdown in the colony’s equipment, or from a dangerous local agent that went unnoticed in the initial planetary surveys. There were a hundred things that could go wrong this far from galactic center.

The ship’s computer beeped at her through the ship’s network to remind her she was expected on the airlock deck in fifteen minutes.

She was dressed in her ground suit and had her go bag packed at her feet—just the essentials. The ship’s sensors hadn’t shown anything out of the ordinary, besides a lack of collected life signs large enough to belong to the colonists. This trip was intended as a brief scouting mission to ascertain the situation on the ground.

<<Contact. Doctor Ingram, did you receive your departure reminder?

Soran shouldered her go bag and acknowledged the computer’s check-in. Externally, she kept her expression blank as she made her way down to the airlock. That fear feeling squeezed at her regulatory system. If she were inclined to hope, she told herself, she’d hope that the colony’s comms equipment had simply suffered a mechanical breakdown and the colonists would greet them on the ground, all accounted for—all of them, but especially one Lunaran in particular. But even as the idea flickered through one of her lesser processes, another part of Soran wanted to shunt it away where it couldn’t hurt her to be disappointed. If she could only match her interior to the smooth expressionless surface of her exterior, then whatever they found couldn’t make that fear feeling worse.

But her interior felt riotous, clenching and twisting tight as her boots crossed the threshold, loud on the docking bay floor. The transport ship awaited her along with the two dozen security and medical personnel scheduled to fly down for the recon.

It had been nearly three years since she’d last seen Aline Aster, but Soran’s memory banks were nearly perfect—far superior to her Earther counterparts’—and she could recall with crisp clarity the feel of the Lunaran’s skin under her cutaneous sensors, the taste of her mouth, the sting of her teeth against Soran’s breasts, and the cadence of her voice winding down as she fell asleep still murmuring the words of a bedtime story from her homeworld. What would it feel like if Soran disembarked on Essex Prime to…nothing. No signs of life, no colony, no Aster waiting with a sheepish explanation for their silence?

But Security Chief Ryan was gesturing at her impatiently to board the transport vessel and Soran did the only thing she could do with this reductive thought string—she cut and pasted it into its own file and then buried it deep below her internal checklist for the mission. They were minutes away from an answer one way or another.

Or more precisely, fourteen hours later, she’d be staring into the malformed face of an answer while that fear in her chest crushed her heart into the sliver of a black hole.

Soran didn’t have a single word in her mouth as she stood next to SC Ryan outside the detention cell, staring in at what remained of XO Aster. Soran had to think of her—it like that or she was afraid the anguish would overwhelm her. She’d never lost someone with a personal—and emotional—connection to her before, and she wasn’t sure that her software had been properly programmed to handle that sort of emotional upheaval. The last thing she could afford to do would be to lose herself here on the ground, especially in front of SC Ryan.

“They found…it lurking around the edge of the forest. At the backside of the emergency compound,” SC Ryan said in a deep, bland voice, his eyes heavy on XO Aster’s hunched form. “Took enough electricity to stop an animal twice as big to subdue and facilitate capture.”

Soran swallowed around the bile in her throat. “And you want me to…?”

Ryan glanced at her finally, with a scowl, and said, “I don’t— Chelsea wants you to find out if it can talk. Find out why it killed the settlers. If there are any other Lunarans running around out there still. Probably a waste of time, but seeing as there’s nothing else for you to do down here, I figure you can’t hurt anything. Maybe ask it if this was their plan all along.”

“Who? The Lunarans? You don’t really think this was intentional?” Soran angled her face so she could glimpse Ryan’s expression without looking at him directly. She knew it unnerved the Earthers when she stared at them too closely.

“From what the survivors have told us—” he began.

“XO Aster is a survivor,” Soran insisted, choosing to ignore that part where she showed little resemblance to her former shape and sentience.

SC Ryan snorted and thrust a thick, calloused finger at the barrier separating them from the detention cell. “That’s a fucking monster,” he said.

“If that were true then what is the point of me—”

“I’m getting tired of your attitude, Ingram,” SC Ryan interrupted. He shot her a narrow-eyed look, a quick up and down that took in her entire person and always made Soran feel like a bug under a microscope—even if the Security Chief had probably never touched a microscope before. “You’re the ship shrink. Ask your questions, see what information you can get out of it, and report to Chelsea. Those are your orders. Don’t think about it too much; that’s not what they pay you for. Just collect the fucking data.”

Soran watched him leave, the door shutting behind him with an ominous clang that seemed to resonate in her perfectly shaped enamel plated teeth. She stared down at her boots, straight and shoulder-width apart, holding her up while her processor counted the individual beats of her circulatory system. A minute passed, or what more felt like a quarter of an hour, before a hoarse voice scraped across the air between her and the detention cell.

“S’not safe.”

A shiver raced down her spine. Soran looked up and met Aster’s all too familiar eyes, her circulatory regulator thumping painfully against the metal ribs of her geneered skeleton.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Lia Cooper is a twenty-something native of the Pacific Northwest, voracious reader, pop-culture addict, and writer. She cultivated an early interest in writing through fandom and completed writing her first full length novel with the help of NaNoWriMo.

In the years since, she’s dabbled in catering, barista-ing, and working as a pastry chef before finally returning full time to the thing she loves most: storytelling.

When she’s not glued to Scrivener, Lia enjoys playing video games with friends and reviewing books for her booktube channel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTube

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Testament by Jose Nateras


Join new author Jose Nateras and IndiGo Marketing as they celebrate the debut release of Testament! Learn more about the paranormal thriller and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!


Title: Testament
Author: Jose Nateras
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: No Romance
Length: 51400
Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, Chicago, paranormal, supernatural, thriller, Latinx, #ownvoices

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Synopsis

Gabe Espinosa, is trying to dig himself out of the darkness. Struggling with the emotional fallout of a breakup with his ex-boyfriend, Gabe returns to his job at The Rosebriar Room; the fine dining restaurant at the historic Sentinel Club Chicago Hotel. Already haunted by the ghosts of his severed relationship, he’s drastically unprepared for the ghosts of The Sentinel Club to focus their attentions on him as well.

When a hotel guest violently attacks Gabe, he finds himself the target of a dark entity’s rage; a rage built upon ages of racial tension and toxic masculinity. Desperate to escape the dark spiral he’s found himself in, Gabe flees across the city of Chicago and dives into the history of the hotel itself. Now, Gabe must push himself to confront the sort of evil that transcends relationships and time, the sort of evil that causes damage that ripples across lives for generations.

Gabe must fight to break free from the dark legacy of the past; both his own and that of the hotel he works in.

Excerpt

Testament
Jose Nateras © 2019
All Rights Reserved

I pulled out my phone and checked the time. I needed to be at work at six thirty, and unless the train started moving within the next five seconds, I would be late. A commute that usually took thirty minutes, door to door, was stretching closer and closer to taking forty minutes. Still, the train sat there, idle in its dark underground tunnel. There’s nothing worse than being late and getting stuck on a delayed train car at six fifteen in the morning. Fuck.

I rocked back and forth impatiently, a loose rivet in my seat clicking arrhythmically in its socket. Most of the Chicago Transit Authority’s train cars were in some state of disrepair. This car in particular had maps of the train lines missing overhead, cracked lighting fixtures, fractured chrome, and unsecured hardware. The homeless man stretched out asleep across the seats at the other end of the car didn’t seem to care. Neither did the middle-aged nurse sitting kitty-corner from me, listening to music on her phone through bright-pink earbuds.

I took a deep breath to stop my agitated rocking. The thick smell of synthetic flowers wafted along the length of the train car. An otherwise pleasant smell, in the enclosed space of the train car the scent was overwhelming, almost sickening. It had to be coming from the nurse. How’d I not notice the strength of her perfume sooner?

It occurred to me, if I puked on the ‘L’ right then and there, I’d have no excuse but to call in sick. It wouldn’t be the first time someone threw up on the Blue Line. I wouldn’t even have to actually vomit. I could just call in, hop off the train at the next stop, and grab the next one headed back toward my apartment. Tempting, but I could practically hear the voice of my manager Leslie. “Really, Gabe? What the fuck? Aren’t you just coming back from an extended leave of absence, Mr. Espinosa?”

With the sound of metal grinding on metal, the train started to move. I closed my eyes, allowing the momentum to build and hurdle me toward the misery of employment in the service industry.

Maybe misery was an exaggeration. As the train came to an abrupt stop at the Monroe station, I tried to remind myself there were worse fields to work in. Six blocks stretched between the train platform and the Sentinel Club Hotel. More specifically, six blocks stretched between me and the hotel’s restaurant, the Rosebriar Room, where I worked as a host. Walking so far would typically take around nine minutes, and at 6:25 a.m., I only had five minutes to do so. Officially late, I somehow found the energy to hustle up the stairs from the underground train platform and race out into the November chill.

I found myself caught behind a herd of Chicago commuters: business-bros and cubicle drones trotting to their respective jobs scattered across the Loop. Dodging between the office workers drowsily heading to work, I sprinted through the concrete canyon of downtown skyscrapers.

It was still dark. Only after I made it to Michigan Avenue, across from the green expanse of Millennium Park, could I see the first streaks of orange in the dark-gray sky. I pulled out my phone again. 6:31 a.m. “Shit.”

Speeding through the front doors of the hotel, I hurried to the service elevator. With no time to stop at the staff locker room down in the basement, I headed straight up to the thirteenth floor.

People often say hotels are naturally creepy places. I hadn’t really thought about it one way or another until I started working in one. It was true. The Sentinel Club Chicago was creepy, and being one of the oldest buildings in the city only made it all the more eerie. Before becoming a boutique hotel, the SCC was a historied private men’s club, and the Rosebriar Room, now the hotel’s wood-paneled fine-dining restaurant, once served as the private dining room for the club’s most elite members.

I’d been working there for a year and a half or so, and things I hadn’t noticed at first had started to weigh on my mind. More and more I found myself aware of the creepiness of the place. A laugh echoing in quiet, empty rooms. A flicker of movement out of the corner of an eye. A shadow on a wall with no one there to cast it. The feeling of being watched.

The prospect of spending my morning in such a place sounded pretty miserable. Perhaps I hadn’t been so far off in describing my job as a “misery” after all.

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Meet the Author

Jose Nateras is a Chicago based Actor, Writer, and Director who’s worked extensively on stage and screen. Having trained at The Second City, The British American Drama Academy (Midsummer at Oxford ’09), Jose is a graduate of Loyola University Chicago. Having graduated with his MFA in Writing from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC), he’s a resident playwright with ALTA Chicago’s ‘El Semillero’ (residing at Victory Gardens). Jose has written a number of shorts, pilots, and full length films, and is a contributor for The A.V. Club and elsewhere. He’s also been known to play the role of adjunct professor and teaching artist around town from time to time as well.

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Review: Unlikely Reunion (Improbable Bonds #1) by Lily Michaels

Erik’s adolescent crush becomes a very adult relationship at his high school reunion.

Seeing his former bullies starstruck is definitely on Erik Stevens’ agenda for his high school reunion. Hooking up with someone is not. He has resolved to end the meaningless sex that has dotted his life, even though it fed his need to dominate. Now he is looking for a man—a submissive—for a relationship that will last forever.

But Erik hasn’t counted on Kyle.

For ten years, Kyle Lincke has cursed his repressed sexuality that, in high school, kept him from acting on his crush…Erik. As soon as he receives Erik’s RSVPed ‘yes’ to the reunion, Kyle begins working up the courage to finally act on his desires, difficult for him to do following a disastrous break-up.

But six weeks of exploration into BDSM and small steps toward a deeper relationship are thrown into jeopardy when Erik’s fame threatens their bond—and Kyle’s fragile psyche.


Occasionally I like to get out of my comfort zone and try to new things. Sometimes they work out. Sometimes they don't. The blurb was a siren's call promising kink and public sex wrapped up in a second chance bow that proved too tempting too resist.

However, this wasn't my cuppa. It's a little too saccharine, a little too instalove, a whole lot underdeveloped and the kink was virtually nonexistent.

However, I feel certain there is an audience for "Unlikely Reunion". Fans of Sean Michael will love this to pieces with its 64 'mines' in just a scant 123 pgs and its warp speed ascent to the boom boom in the first chapter!

Another potential audience is the new to MM crowd who are looking to dip their toes into MM waters and who perhaps have an affinity for a certain ├╝ber famous "BDSM" series featuring a somewhat bratty heroine who is new to kink and a bit... temperamental?

Even though this was a miss for me I'm certain there is an audience for it. I'm just sorry it wasn't me but as always my opinions are my own and YMMV. I'll be off back to my comfort zone now.



An ARC was provided in exchange for an honest review.



Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Empress of Xytae (Tales of Inthya #4) by Effie Calvin


Author Effie Calvin and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of The Empress of Xytae (Tales of Inthya #4)! Discover more about the science fiction/fantasy series' latest and enter in the $10 NineStar press credit giveaway!


Title: The Empress of Xytae
Series: Tales of Inthya, Book Four
Author: Effie Calvin
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: December 30, 2019
Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 83500
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy, LGBT, royalty, new adult, magic, paladins, gods, goddesses

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Synopsis

Crown Princess Ioanna of Xytae has kept her truthsayer blessing a secret for twenty years. In any other nation, her powerful magic would be cause for celebration. But Xytae’s patron is the war goddess Reygmadra, and the future empress is expected to be a brutal warrior.

Reserved and peaceful by nature, Ioanna knows the court sees her as a disappointment. She does her best to assuage their worries every day, working quietly beside her mother to keep the empire running while her father is away at war. But when news of the emperor’s untimely death reaches the capital, Ioanna finds herself ousted by her younger sister Netheia, who has the war magic Ioanna lacks.

Princess Vitaliya of Vesolda has come to Xytae to avoid her father’s upcoming wedding, which she sees as an affront to her mother’s memory. Vitaliya has absolutely no interest in politics or power struggles and intends to spend her time attending parties and embarrassing her family. But when she saves Ioanna’s life during Netheia’s coup, the two are forced to flee the capital together.

Despite their circumstances, Vitaliya enjoys travelling with Ioanna and realizes that the future empress’s shy and secretive nature is the result of her unhappy childhood. Ioanna is equally unaccustomed to being in the company of one as earnest and straightforward as Vitaliya, for she has spent her life surrounded by ambitious and cutthroat nobles.

Ioanna cannot allow her sister to continue their father’s legacy, and plots to rally supporters to her side so she can interrupt Netheia’s coronation. Vitaliya knows she ought to leave Xytae before the nation is ripped apart by civil war but finds she is unwilling to abandon Ioanna. But Ioanna’s enemies are always watching…and they’ve realized that Vitaliya is a weakness to be exploited.

Excerpt

The Empress of Xytae
Effie Calvin © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Reygmadra

The Imperial Palace at Xyuluthe buzzed with anticipation. Empress Enessa had finally gone into labor, and the heir to the Xytan Empire would be born within a few hours. The archpriest of Adranus and the archpriestess of Pemele were both there to aid with the birth along with countless members of the imperial court who would bear witness to the historic event.

Reygmadra, Goddess of Warfare and Eighth of the Ten, waited just outside the empress’s chambers, unseen by all who passed. She would not deny she was beginning to grow impatient. She was only here to bless the child, the future empress. Then she would be on her way.

If the child ever arrived.

Reygmadra had no tolerance for children, nor for the tedious conversations that always surrounded a birth—discussions of size, weight, and bodily functions. She had left the empress’s room because she had grown tired of the pointless hysterical screaming, but this was undoubtably worse.

Unfortunately, she could not grant a blessing to a mortal until after it had taken its first breath. This was one of the rules she and her fellow gods had agreed upon when they’d first set out to create Inthya. Even Reygmadra could see the value in this one, for if babies could use magic in the womb, nobody would ever risk giving birth ever again.

Emperor Ionnes was occupied, as always, by his campaign in Masim. He would not return to meet his new daughter for several months. Some of the members of the court were muttering about this, but Reygmadra did not see the trouble. What help could Ionnes be right now? He would only be in the way if he tried to help. At least in Masim, he was serving his nation by leading the army.

She longed to be there, whispering ideas in his ear as he slept, soaking up the power she received when tens of thousands of warriors prayed to her in unison. Of course, the prayers would find her no matter where she was on the mortal realm of Inthya or in the celestial planes of Asterium. But there was nothing like experiencing it firsthand.

Babies seemed to bring out the stupidest, weakest aspects of mankind. One of the Xytans was now relaying a tale of someone else’s labor, and Reygmadra decided to take a walk before she lost her temper and stabbed someone.

She moved through the palace like a specter, her face unseen and heavy footsteps unheard. She was dressed as she usually did when she manifested on Inthya, as a common soldier with short sword and breastplate. If someone did somehow see her, they would think nothing of her.

One of the rooms led out into a garden, and Reygmadra decided she had been indoors for too long. She stepped out into the sunlight, into the fresh air.

Reygmadra didn’t think much of gardens—they were really just a waste of space—but this one was empty, so she would stay for a while. As she moved, she kept an ear to the palace, hoping she would soon hear distant cheers.

“Still waiting?”

A woman dressed as a Xytan noble stood there among the flowers. She had olive-toned skin and long, wavy ebony hair, and her face was impossibly, supernaturally beautiful. The dress she wore was simple but elegant, all wine-colored silk that perfectly emphasized wide hips and a narrow waist. Despite her disguise as a mortal woman, Reygmadra recognized Dayluue—Goddess of Love and Seventh of the Ten.

“It will be a while yet,” said Reygmadra. “Why are you here?”

“I’m feeling neglected,” Dayluue said. “You haven’t come to see me in ages.”

“I’m busy.”

“You’re always busy.” Crimson lips pressed together in a pout as Dayluue adjusted the neckline of her dress aggressively. “Maybe I should call on someone else. I wonder what Nara is doing.”

Possessive rage seized at Reygmadra, and Dayluue began to laugh. But the sound was cut short when Reygmadra grabbed her by the shoulders. A moment later, she had Dayluue pressed between the garden wall and her own body.

“I love it when you get jealous,” Dayluue said breathlessly. “Kiss me?”

Reygmadra brought her lips to Dayluue’s throat. Dayluue tilted her head back, hands clasping at Reygmadra’s hair, and laughed again. “I have missed you,” she said.

“I don’t believe you,” said Reygmadra because expecting strict monogamy from Dayluue was like expecting a bird to refrain from flight.

“I’ll prove it, then.” Dayluue’s eyes sparkled.

“No. I’m busy.”

“I never took you for the sort to get excited over a birth. Or are you finally realizing what I’ve been saying about the population—”

“No. I’m just giving her a blessing, and then I’m leaving.”

“It might be a while,” warned Dayluue. “Labor can last an entire day.”

Reygmadra shuddered. “Awful.”

“Well, they wouldn’t have to do it so often if you didn’t keep convincing them to kill one another.”

Reygmadra rolled her eyes. “Did you come here just to argue?”

Dayluue pressed her lips to Reygmadra’s. “Only if you really want to,” she murmured into her mouth. The scent of her mortal body, flowers and sweat and pheromones, was intoxicating.

They were antithesis to each other, and yet, there was an undeniable symmetry to their domains. They were two primal forces, mindless impulse given sentience. And sometimes the fiery lust Dayluue elicited from her felt identical to the thrill of battle.

Perhaps that was why Dayluue always returned to her. Perhaps that was why Reygmadra did not object to Dayluue’s wandering.

When they met like this in Asterium, it was a union of selves, of auras and magic, and two becoming one in the way none but their own kind could hope to understand. It was delightful to have Dayluue’s energy surging through her, to feel her own spirit within Dayluue. Reygmadra always came away from these unions feeling softer, lighter. But not weaker. Never weaker.

On Inthya, with warm bodies made of blood and flesh, things were different. On Inthya, Dayluue was in control, and Reygmadra was helpless under her expert fingers.

“Kiss me again,” said Dayluue. “But lower, this time.”

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Meet the Author

Effie is definitely a human being with all her own skin, and not a robot. She writes science fiction and fantasy novels and lives with her cat in the greater Philadelphia area.

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Swipe by T.A. Moore


Author T.A. Moore visits on the Swipe blog tour today! Learn more about the romance from the Plenty, California series and enter in the $10 Dreamspinner Press credit giveaway!


Title: Swipe
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Release: December 31
Cover Artist: Kanaxa

Blurb: Swipe by TA Moore - A Novel of Plenty, California
As one of the top trauma surgeons in Plenty’s ER, Dr. Taggart Hayes knows how to fix broken things—fractured legs, ruptured spleens, allergies, and traumatic brain injuries. He can put them back together good as new.
A broken heart, though? That’s a bit trickier. Especially when it’s his own.
When Tag swipes on the photo of the hot man in the dating app, he just wants a distraction from the wreck that used to be his life. A one-night stand with a safely inappropriate stranger, no names, no feelings, and no complications.
But the headless photo on the app belongs to a man who isn’t so easy to forget the next day... or the next week. And it becomes increasingly clear that Bass is neither safe nor uncomplicated. Drawn into the dark, criminal underworld his lover inhabits, Tag has to decide if the cure for his broken heart is worse than the disease.

Tour




Tyra’s Book Nook - 26 Dec

MM Good Book Reviews - 27 Dec


Blogger Girls - 28 Dec


Boy Meets Boy - 29 Dec


Two Chicks Obsessed - 30 Dec


Love Bytes - 31 Dec


Author Visit

First of all, thank you so much for having me! I’m thrilled to be here with my new contemporary novel SWIPE by TA Moore. I had a lot of fun writing this book. I hope you enjoy reading it!

I thought I’d share my writing playlist for SWIPE with you guys today. Well, sort of writing playlist. I don’t really have playlists that I write to. Most of the time I actually write to a low murmur of coffee shop noise or occasional environmental ASMR video (a lot of them creep me out, but I like library or bookshop ones). Music distracts me, it keeps one part of my brain focused on something outside the world that I am trying to pin down on paper.

What I do use music for is when I’m...daydreaming about the book I’m writing. I stick my headphones on and let the scenes in my head play out like a movie to a randomly shuffled playtrack while I do...whatever. Shopping, the washing up, or aggressively not sleeping even though I have to get up early tomorrow (I don’t always sleep great).

Sometimes the scene I’m working on doesn’t need any specific music, it can rattle along with anything. Other times the scene needs a certain...beat to set the pace of the scene or something that fits the tone. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I consider ‘I’ve a Horse Outside’ by the Rubber Bandits acceptable for any situation, but I’m not going to try and write an emotional scene to it. Well, not so far. Fight scenes and sex scenes are the most demanding, you really need to get the songs right for them.

As I write I pick songs out of the rotation that really work for this book or a particular scene, so I can queue them up when I need to shortcut my brain into the right frame of mind. By about halfway through Swipe I had this playlist. It’s actually a pretty good one, for me. The music is actually pretty good, it’s varied, and it’s not too long or too short (look, I’m not proud of this, but one book I just listened to three songs on constant repeat).

I hope you like it too! You’re certainly never getting to see the playlist for ‘Collared’ from Devil Take Me. That one was weird.





Author Bio:


TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

Website: www.tamoorewrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMoorewrites/
Twitter: @tamoorewrites





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