Giveaway + Release Blitz: The Secrets We Keep by Rick R. Reed


Join author Rick R. Reed & IndiGo Promotions in celebrating the release of The Secrets We Keep. Find out more about this contemporary romance, read an excerpt & enter in the giveaway for a $10 NineStar Press credit too!


Title: The Secrets We Keep
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: July 6, 2020
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 61200
Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, family drama, age-gap, men over 40, celebrities, family estrangement

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Synopsis


Jasper Warren is a happy-go-lucky young
man in spite of the tragedy that’s marred his life. He’s on a road to nowhere
with his roommate, Lacy, whom he adores, and a dead-end retail job in Chicago.

And then everything changes in a single
night. Though Jasper doesn’t know it, his road is going somewhere after all.
This time when tragedy strikes, it brings with it Lacy’s older, wealthy, sexy
uncle Rob. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, an immediate connection
forms between the two men.

But the secrets between them test their
attraction. Will their revelations destroy the bloom of new love… or encourage
it to grow?

Excerpt


The Secrets We Keep
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
“Hey! I don’t think you should go
through that,” Rob said, barely audible because he didn’t want his fear to
show. He sucked in a breath and clutched his suitcase close to him, as though
it were a child—or a flotation device. Or a boy he loved and didn’t want to
lose…

The water spread out on the road under
the overpass like a black mirror. It could have been a few inches deep or a few
feet. From just a visual, there was no way to gauge how deep it was. No person
with any sense would drive into it.

His Uber driver, a sallow-complexioned
man in his forties wearing a black baseball cap, gave out a low whistle. “We’ll
be okay,” he said cheerfully, with a confidence Rob simply didn’t have. “Just
sit back and let me worry. We’ll be fine.”

Rob wished he had the nerve to speak up,
to command, “No! Don’t! Just turn around.” After all, this driver was putting
them both in danger. But he felt like protesting would make him seem insane or,
at the very least, silly. So what’s worse, he wondered, seeming crazy or
drowning? He cursed himself for the ridiculous lengths he went to so as to
avoid confrontation.

A thunderclap as loud as an explosion
sounded then, and Rob swore the black Lincoln Continental shuddered under its
vibration. Lightning turned the dark, cloud-choked dawn skies bright white for
an instant, as though day had peeked in, seen the weather, and then ducked back
out.

“This baby can get through it,” the
driver said, giving the car a little more gas.

Rob tightened his lips to a single line
and furrowed his brows as his driver set off into the small lake stretching out
before them. As the driver moved completely under the overpass, the drumming
sound of the rain on the roof suddenly ceased, and the silence was like the
intake of a breath.

“C’mon, c’mon,” the driver urged almost
under his breath as he sallied farther into the water, giving the car more gas.

Even before the engine started to whine
in protest, Rob knew they were in trouble by the way the water parted to admit
the Lincoln. Waves sloshed by on either side.

Rob thought again he should speak
up—like maybe to suggest that the driver could attempt to back up—but held his
tongue. The guy was a professional, right? He knew what he was doing.

They’d be okay.

And the driver continued, deeper and
deeper into the water standing so treacherously beneath the overpass.

The engine made a lowing sound, like a
cow’s moo, as the flood rose up the sides of the vehicle.

Rob gasped as brackish, foul-smelling
water covered his loafered feet, pouring in through the small spaces around the
doors.

The driver eyed him in the rearview
mirror. There was a defeat in his voice as he said, “You better open your door
and get out while you can.”

Rob wondered, for only a moment, why he
would want to. Then it struck him with the adrenaline-fueled clarity born of
panic that if he didn’t open his door now, he might never get another chance.
The rising water and its pressure would make it impossible to open the door.

If it wasn’t already too late…

Rob leaned over and pressed against the
door. The engine stalled at that moment, and his driver reached for his own
door handle up front.

For a brief moment that caused his heart
to drum fast, Rob feared his door wouldn’t open. He slid over and leaned
against it with his shoulder pressed against the black leather, grunting.

The door held and then suddenly gave
way.

Granted access, water rushed into the
vehicle. The icy current rose up, covering his ankles and his calves. It was
almost over his knees when he managed to slide from the Lincoln.

Outside the car, he stood. The water
rose up almost to his neck. He felt nothing, only a kind of numbness and
wonder. His driver was already sloshing forward toward the pearly light at the
other side of the overpass. He didn’t give Rob so much as a backward glance.

Rob started moving against the water,
wondering what might be swimming in it.

Thunder grumbled and then cracked again.
The lightning flared, brilliant white, once more. And the rain poured down even
harder.

He looked back for a moment at the
Lincoln Continental, thinking about his TUMI bag on the seat. There was no hope
for that now!

He slogged through the water and
progressed steadily forward, feeling like a refugee in some third-world
country, bound for freedom. In his head he heard the swell of inspirational
music.

After what seemed like an hour, but was
really only about five minutes, Rob reached dry land at the end of the
overpass, where the entrance ramp veered upward toward the highway. Cars
whizzed by, sending up sprays of water, the motorists oblivious.

His driver eyed him but said nothing. He
was out of breath.

Rob stood in the rain and remembered his
iPhone in the front pocket of his khakis. He pulled it out, thinking to call
for help. But when he pressed the Home button, the screen briefly illuminated
and then blinked out, the picture of an ocean wave crashing toward the shore
first skewing weirdly, then vanishing.

“Shit,” he whispered and then replaced
the phone in his soaking-wet pants pocket.

He needn’t have worried about calling
for help, however, because it seemed the universe had done it for him. On the
other side of the overpass, a fire truck, lights on but no siren, pulled up to
the water’s edge. Then two police cruisers. And finally, surprisingly, a news
van with a satellite antenna on top brought up the rear.

The rest was kind of a blur. Through a
bullhorn, one of the firemen advised them to come back toward them but to use
the median instead of slogging through the flood. The concrete divider was only
a few inches above the sloshing water.

Somehow, Rob and his driver managed a
tightrope walk across the lake the underpass had become, balancing on the
concrete divider.

When they reached the other side, one of
the newscasters, a guy in a red rain slicker, stuck a microphone in his face
and asked him to tell him what happened. Was he afraid? Stunned, Rob shook his
head and moved toward the cop cars. Behind him, he could hear the driver
talking to the reporter.

At the first police car, a uniformed
officer got out from behind the steering wheel. She shut the door behind her
and held a hand above the bill of her cap to further shield her from the rain.
She was young, maybe midtwenties, with short black hair and a stout and sturdy
build.

“You okay, sir?”

Rob nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” He smiled.
“Didn’t expect a swim this early in the morning.”

The officer didn’t laugh. “Where were
you headed? We might be able to take you, or at the very least, we can summon a
taxi for you.”

And Rob opened his mouth to say, “To the
airport” and then shut it again.

One thought stood out in his head. I
could have drowned. He looked toward the Lincoln, which was filled now with
water up to the middle of the windshield.

“Sir? You need us to get you somewhere?”

Rob debated, thinking of a young man,
perhaps out in this same rain, getting almost as drenched as he was. He opened
his mouth again to speak, unsure of how he could or should answer her question.

What he said now could very well
determine the course of the rest of his life.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Real Men. True Love.



Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Goldie by Danni Maxwell


Join author Danni Maxwell and IndiGo Marketing as they promote the release of QUILTBAG fantasy, Goldie! Learn more about the tale and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!


Title: Goldie
Author: Danni Maxwell
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: July 6, 2020
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 12400
Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, mythical creatures, Magic/Magic users, Fairy tales, fantasy, romance

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Synopsis


Cast out of her village after being accused of killing her father, Marigold Lovelock has nothing but the clothes on her back and the willpower to make it into the woods.

With the company of an Ursidae, a mythical creature known as Squeak, she seeks out The One, the Storyteller who speaks the truth.

Throw in a nasty beast called the Gromas, a pack of wolves, and a girl with lips as red as blood, Marigold knows she must learn how to embrace the person she was always been destined to be

Excerpt


Goldie
Danni Maxwell © 2020
All Rights Reserved

A person falls in love with three people in their lifetime. At least that’s what the Storytellers will show you in their legends.

Each love will come at a time in a person’s life when they need it most. Even if they don’t realise they needed it in the first place.

There’s the first love, the one who teaches what the magical thing called love is. It’s young love. It’s innocent, and it’s pure. It ends far before it can truly begin, but it will always remain the first love of one’s life.

The second love is a hard love to endure. It changes a person, teaches them that a heart can break, that a person can wound you more than a knife, that not every love is a fairy tale. It makes a person stronger; it shapes them, helps them grow, teaches them that a heart can mend in time.

Then there is the third love, a love that has no warning, that sneaks up on a person and takes them by surprise. It’s the love that they didn’t know they needed, the one they were not looking for. It’s the love that will truly last the test of time. This is the love that can withstand all the battles a person has to endure. It’s unwavering. This is the love that feels like a fairy tale.

*

Marigold Lovelock had heard these legends more times than she could count, but she never once believed in them.

Her father was a Storyteller. His job was to be the one a person seeks for the knowledge, the truth, the wisdom. His job was his life. It took precedence over everything else, including Marigold. Her father’s favourite thing about his title, his powers, was the fact that people blindly adored him. They believed her father could do no wrong, that he was the one with all the answers. He could gather as many of the townspeople as he wanted, tell them of the stories, the legends, the prophecies that had been passed down to him by Storytellers past. And the townspeople would gather; they would flock, run, rally to the town’s centre to hear a new story each day; their eyes and hearts full of belief, of wonder and whimsy.

They truly loved her father, for he could tell them all the things their hearts desired to hear, could warn them of the dangers of the beasts and demons that lay beyond the town’s edge. Her father was the light, and Marigold his shadow. The people treated her like she was nothing, like all she did was bring the darkness wherever she went. They skittered away if she got too close, made shifty, judging glances with narrowed eyes and lips pressed in tight lines. The children were ushered away and taught to keep their distance.

Though Goldie never knew why they did this, she wondered if it was out of fear, and if that were true, perhaps she was afraid of them too. She’d shy away from everyone as they would hiss and pull away from her. Because why would you even try to fit in when you’re a puzzle with one too many pieces that will never be completed?

Her life had never been easy. She lost her mother to childbirth, she lost her father to the Storytellers, and she lost herself to the darkness of being alone. The darkness enveloped the townspeople too but not as heavy as it weighed on her. They all had lost their light; her father had died this past spring, and though the doctor had said he passed from age and peacefully in his sleep, Marigold wondered if he had died of a broken heart. He was always so lost without her mother, and he blamed Marigold for that loss; it’s why she never felt close to him, to anyone.

Everyone believed Marigold was cursed, that she possessed something inside her so dark and wicked that it had killed her mother, and that anyone who got close to her, anyone who loved her, would fall dead to the curse too. Her father was just another reason for them to fear her. The townspeople were lost without their Storyteller. The next was still learning the stories and prophecies, and so they had no one to turn to for guidance, for what should be done about Marigold, about who they thought she was, what she was to become, and who she might hurt in the process. The elders of the town were brought up on the stories, but they could only remember so much. Only the mind of a Storyteller could remember all. Their older minds were forgetting, slowly with time, but they never failed to forget the prophecy of the Kalakuta. That is what they believed Marigold was.

The Kalakuta were ancient beings, the ones the elders and Storytellers alike would call “the potion people of death.” Their prophecy tells of the Kalakuta being a sentient being that lived long before the time of people. Beings that, once they found a host, would kill any human or being in its path, for the darkness inside told them to do so. They were the makers of death. Her father, the Storyteller, had spoken of a Kalakuta preying on their town, feasting on the sick, the weak, the lost, believing that over time they would eventually take everyone, and there would be no one left to stop it. The minute Marigold’s father had passed, it was like any suspicion they had of Marigold being a Kalakuta had all but been confirmed.

This is why she now stood at the edge of the wood, at the final edge of sand between the unknown and the town, her only belongings scattered just beyond the trees, and the entire town standing at her back, waiting to be rid of her at last. Their mourning period was over for the Storyteller. The townspeople were no longer grieving; they were rioting. The moment their mourning cloud had lifted, they went on a manhunt for her. They found Marigold hidden away, wishing to be forgotten in her small hut of a home. They were all afraid of her, just as she was afraid of them. No one was willing to get too close to her. She cowered in her corner, begging someone, anyone, to leave her alone.

Someone looped rope around her body, cinching it at her waist and all but dragging her out of her home toward the dark wood. She was scrambling to grab anything she possibly could, begging them to stop, promising them that she would willingly go if they just let her grab her things. They stopped for a moment, enough time for her to grab a satchel with two dresses to change, her pouch of every coin she had saved that her father had hesitated to give her as gifts on special days, and the only drawing she had of her mother, one that her father had tried to throw away in anger and mourning on the anniversary of her death, Marigold’s birthday. It was the one thing Marigold had treasured all her life. It was the last thing she had.

“Now. Get going,” the man holding the end of the rope had grunted, tugging on the rope so hard her chest ached with the effort to breathe.

The people gathered in her hut parted at the door. They led Marigold out of the town to the wood with a rope around her waist, something hard pressing into her back, pushing her forward while tears streamed down her face. She gripped at her satchel, her heart breaking with every step she put in behind her. Please, she had begged them. Please don’t send me away.

All that resulted in was her being shoved even harder, falling to the ground, her crying out in pain as something hard, no doubt the broom handle of a local keeper, cracked down on her back. Her things were grabbed by the children, her satchel tossed, her dresses strewn, her photo crumpled into the tiniest ball. Her pouch of money pressed against her hip, hidden in the pocket she’d sewn into her dress herself. It was the only thing they couldn’t take from her.

“Be gone, Kalakuta!” They were all shouting obscene comments at her now, where she stood straight as a pin, her bare toes touching the edges of the dark wood.

“Please, I am not a—”

“You are a killer, Marigold Lovelock. You killed your parents; you kill the elders, the children even! You have a darkness in you that will never settle. We ought to kill you, but that would be too kind of us. We shall let the beasts of the woods decide your fate. Never return to Veritas, or we will change our minds. Kalakuta.” The man spit at her. The crowds were throwing things at her, rocks and sticks and anything they could use to hurt her.

“Please—” Marigold pleaded one last time, her cheeks dripped with tears, her whole body trembling. She had never been so scared in all her life.

“She does not learn. We have no pity,” an elder breathed in hushed tones.

“Let us show her what we do to Kalakuta.”

This was the last thing Marigold heard before she felt a sharp, blunt pain at the back of her skull, and the world went black.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon

Meet the Author

Danni Maxwell has been writing stories for as long as she can remember. Born and raised in Ontario, Canada, she is a debut author who is currently studying to become a librarian, a job she defines as the best of both the reading and writing world. She has won multiple prestigious writing awards in the past few years. Her favourite genres to write are contemporary, LGBT+, and more recently she’s been dabbling in YA, sci-fi and poetry. When she’s not writing, you can find her creating book- and writing-related videos on Youtube’s Booktube community, at Danni Darling.

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