Review: Falling for My Roommate by Garrett Leigh

Falling for his roommate gives ex footballer Micah the second chance he deserves, and what could be better than loving your best friend?

Micah
I’m a broke ex-football player with a bum leg and PTSD. Last summer, I had two choices: the streets, or find a cheap room to rent in the city. I chose the second option, which landed me with a brand-new problem, cos I hadn’t banked on my roommate becoming my best friend. Or that before long I’d find myself head over heels in love with him. Trouble is, even if Sam likes me back, I ain’t fit to be no one’s boyfriend. I don’t know how. All I do is wade through every precious moment and hope that he doesn’t regret the day he ever met me.

Sam
I’m a gay book nerd with no business falling in love with hunky athletes. Micah is the dictionary definition of beautiful, inside and out, he just doesn’t know it. And he definitely doesn’t know I’m ridiculously in love with him. The embarrassing kind of love.

He’s all I can think about.

But it’s not as simple as loving someone who doesn’t love me back. Micah is damaged goods—at least, that’s how he’d put it. The world has chewed him up and spat him out, and he thinks he deserved it. That he’s still the battered mess he was a year ago.

I want to shake him, and shout in his face that he’s not. To force the truth on him and make him believe in himself the way I do. But I can’t save Micah. One day, perhaps he’ll realise that he already saved himself.


Ex-football star Micah and bartender Sam make for unlikely roommates, and even unlikelier friends. But the two men oddly understand each other and find common ground.

They have a good thing going.

Until feelings rock the boat.

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Right off the bat, I felt like I was entering the book in the middle of the relationship. Sam and Micah were already the most important people in each other’s lives, and were already halfway to love.

That aside, I thought the two were very cute together. The small ways they looked after one another, how they gravitated towards each other, and how both men knew deep down that this was more than just a friendship.

And I was looking forward to seeing them admit their true feelings and explore their relationship!

Unfortunately, the pattern that emerged was very off-putting.

There is miscommunication galore. Again and again. There’s also a lot of refusal to communicate, even when both men acknowledge that they need to. It was very tiresome.

But what really rubbed me the wrong way - Micah. He’s a complex and gloomy character with a lot of demons, as are many of Garrett Leigh’s characters. But Micah uses Sam as his crutch and lifeline, with absolutely no care or thanks given, and then lashes out when things get rough.

And Sam takes it, never truly protesting the way he’s treated. Because Micah and his problems come first; they’re central to the entire relationship.

I could appreciate that Micah went through a lot and dealt with the mental and physical trauma of it, but that didn’t justify his behaviour at all.

By the end, though I was glad to see the two get their happy ending, I was no longer invested in Sam and Micah’s story.


A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Blog Tour + Giveaway: Mating the Enemy (Stone Haven #1) by Shea Balik


Author Shea Balik and Other Worlds Ink visit on the Mating the Enemy (Stone Haven #1) audio blog tour! Discover more about the Gavin McAllister narrated paranormal romance and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway!


Mating the Enemy


Shea Balik has a new MM paranormal dystopian romance out in eBook and audio formats: "Mating the Enemy."

Siberian Tiger shifter, Aleksi Rykov, is amused to watch the enemy chasing one of their own, psy, Seth Tilton, until he realizes it's his mate. Rescuing his mate isn't difficult for the powerful Alpha but keeping his mate safe from the war raging between their races may be more difficult.

Seth is taking a chance running to the one man he knows can keep him safe, Aleksi. Seth knows the psy's secrets and the psy will do anything to get him back but with Aleksi's help Seth can help turn the tide of the war and uncover the horrible truth. The question is will Aleksi be willing to help the enemy?

Both sides are against their mating and doing their best to tear the two apart but Aleksi and Seth are determined to stay together against all odds. Can Aleksi and Seth manage to find happiness by mating the enemy?


Amazon eBook | Audible Audio | Amazon UK


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Giveaway

Shea is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour – enter via Rafflecopter:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47118/?




Excerpt


Mating the Enemy audio meme

December 21, 2012, 4:00 a.m., Sydney, Australia.

Aahhhh!”

“That’s it. You’re doing a great job.” Even with his body begging for just a few hours of sleep, the adrenaline was keeping Eli alert as he was only two hours shy of finishing a forty-eight-hour rotation on the maternity ward. His only chance at a nap had been interrupted when Abbey and her husband, Frank, came in. Eli would swear there was a conspiracy to keep him awake. How he was even functioning he wasn’t sure anymore.

“Okay, it’s time to push again,” he gently told Abbey, who was about to be a mom for the first time. Frank held her hand, or to be more precise she gripped his hand like a vise. It looked like the circulation had been cut off from the man’s hand for some time but Frank never once complained, just encouraged his wife and kept her as calm as possible.

This was the type of delivery Eli preferred, the parents not screaming at each other, just happy to bring their child into the world. Yeah, he knew it was painful, but still, he really hated it when the women got hysterical.

The head pushed through and he went to work cleaning out the baby’s airway. One more push and he held the infant as it took a stuttering breath before letting out a cry at being shoved out into the cold, unforgiving world.

The parents were smiling, beaming as Eli brought the child up to lie on his mother’s stomach. “It’s a boy—” was barely out his mouth before the infant changed into a dog. No, more like a dingo.

There was no way he was seeing this. Scrunching his eyes closed and shaking his head, Eli quickly reopened his eyes and, yep, it was a dingo he was holding instead of a baby. Suddenly the baby was back and screaming at the top of his little lungs.

Without missing a beat he laid the child on his mother’s stomach, cut the umbilical cord, and let one of the nurses quickly take the baby away to be cleaned. It just couldn’t have happened and he hoped if he ignored it so would everyone else.

“What…” Frank’s mouth kept moving but no sound came out as his eyes stayed on his son. Suddenly his gaze found the doctor’s and he demanded, “What happened?”

Damn. Somehow Eli didn’t think he’d be leaving when his shift was over.

#
Same day, 5:00 a.m., small village in India.

Murali ran as fast as his legs would carry him from his family’s home, a small hut set in the middle of the land they farmed. It took him just a few minutes to reach Nanda, the woman who would help his mother deliver his next brother or sister. “Come, come. She is ready,” he told Nanda when she came to the doorway.

When she nodded her understanding, Murali rushed back home to let his parents know Nanda was on her way. Once he told his parents, he quickly went out to start his chores along with his brothers and sisters.

He’d just turned eight and with each birthday his list of chores grew. Each morning he had to help feed the animals and shovel the manure. He loved the animals and enjoyed the time he spent feeding and watering them but today he rushed through his chores so he could get back and see the new baby. Was it even born yet?

The urgency to get back to the hut to find out had him finishing quickly. A loud scream from his mother as he neared told him the baby hadn’t been born yet. Without making any noise he quickly darted into the hut so he could watch.

Just as he got into position, his mom let out an exhausted shout and the next thing he knew Nanda was holding a baby. Wanting to get closer, he stepped over to the mat his mom was lying on, his gaze completely focused on his little sister.

Suddenly, his sister was completely surrounded by flames that licked over her body, consuming her. Nanda screamed and dropped her. Fortunately, she was only inches off the ground. Nanda started spewing horrible names at his sister and mom.

The blankets around his mother caught fire and before Murali knew what was happening the entire hut was engulfed in flames. Nanda ran, leaving his mom and sister to die.

Murali jumped into action by running to his mom but by then the blankets had done their damage and he knew there was no way he could save her. Turning to his sister, Murali could see the flames around her were no longer there. In fact, it looked like the flames were avoiding her.

Picking her up, he ran from the hut just before the roof collapsed.

#
Same day, 12:00 p.m., Nashville, TN

“You no good redneck. How dare ya do this to me? I swear ya ain’t touching me again, do ya hear me, Billy Joe?”

It had been like this for the last three or four hours, and as much as Betty enjoyed seeing the stupidity of first-time parents, she was over it.

Her shift ended an hour ago but her replacement was late, again. So here she stood, trying to encourage the woman to push as Betty waited for the doctor to get in. Seeing the head crown, she hoped the doctor got in quickly or she’d be delivering this baby.

Not that she was surprised. The doctors tended to waltz in at the last second to basically sit down, catch the baby, and walk back out, while she had to sit with the parents the whole time, listening to them bitching.

The door swished open and in strode the biggest jerk on the planet. “Good afternoon, folks.” Betty quickly hopped out of his way as the doctor sat. “Looks like it will be just another couple of pushes and your new son will be born.”

Just as predicated, two more pushes and the baby boy was in his hands. Holding the newborn up, the doctor announced, “I’d like you to meet your son.” A round of shocked gasps were heard as the baby suddenly changed into a bear cub.

The mother of the bouncing baby bear passed out. The father just stood there, his mouth agape and his eyes opening and shutting repeatedly as if hoping that would change things. The doctor screamed like a girl and dropped the bear onto its passed-out mother’s stomach.

Betty was just glad the doctor had come in before this happened.

#
Same day, 6:00 p.m., Oahu, Hawaii.

The storm was bad, trees were down, the electricity was out, and Tia knew there was no way she was going to get to the hospital before she delivered. She tried 9-1-1 and they told her it would be miracle if they could get out there, but they would try.

Her lover of ten years, Trent, was online trying to find information about delivering a baby from home. She knew she should be panicking about now, but she wasn’t. What was the point really? There was nothing she could do about it.

It had been that way through much of her pregnancy and she often wondered about it. She was normally a nervous person, prone to anxiety attacks. When she first learned she was pregnant, she had to be hospitalized. But sometime around the third month a sense of peace and calm fell over her like a veil, shielding her from all those chaotic feelings she normally had.

So now she lay in the guest bedroom, because she refused to ruin her own mattress, and waited patiently for her baby to be born. There was no doubt in her mind her son would come with or without a doctor.

It wasn’t until the need to push came that she finally called for Trent, who looked about ready to pass out as all the color bled from his body. She honestly didn’t think a guy who spent so much time in the sun surfing could be that white.

He’d only just made it into the room when she started pushing, her body not willing to wait any longer. Trent’s eyes filled with panic, but he still came over to help. Grabbing one of the towels he’d set next to the bed as he got into position to deliver their son.

A new life came into the world, one that looked like every other healthy child. A baby boy who had the gift of empathy, one who not only could feel the emotions of others but could change their feelings also. He would quickly learn to hide his abilities, which would save his kind from the torture of the scientific community.




Author Bio


Shea Balik logo

Bestselling author of the Cedar Falls Series, Miracle Series, and Paranormal Wars Series, Shea Balik has always had a vivid imagination with stories running around in her head. Often her stories are taken from observations of other people with her own spin. Traveling is one of her favorite ways of fulfilling her passion of people watching. You never know, one day you may spark her imagination for her next book.

Whether at home or traveling she is usually in front of her computer writing or curled up with a good book. Find Shea at any of the links below!

Author Website: https://www.sheabalik.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/sheabalikpage/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/BalikShea

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sheabalik/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://queeromaceink.com/author/sheabalik

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Shea-Balik/e/B00LX82KHE


LOGO - Other Worlds Ink

Release Blitz: Nailed (Four Bears Construction #2) by K.M. Neuhold


Nailed (Four Bears Construction #2) is officially released! Join author K.M. Neuhold and Vibrant Promotions in today's celebration to learn about the new enemies to lovers romance!

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Nailed
Four Bears Construction Series, Book 2
KM Neuhold
M/M Romance, Enemies to Lovers
Release Date: 04.28.20
Nailed-f900

Blurb
My new neighbor is a total tool
He hated me from the second he laid eyes on me, and I don’t have the first clue why…
But, if he wants to hate me, I’m happy to give him a few reasons: mowing the lawn at dawn on the weekend, leaving garbage cans in front of his driveway, renting a petting zoo for my backyard...making a list of ways to drive him crazy is half the fun.
He deserves it with the way he’s driving me crazy right back without even trying— walking around without a shirt on, sweaty rippling muscles on full display, well-worn denim jeans perfectly molded to his...well, you get the idea.
My point is, if he wants a war, I’ll give him one.
***Nailed is an enemies to lovers, neighbors who can't stand each other, omg the anger banging, drool worthy, low angst story, which happens to be the second in my Four Bears Construction Series. It CAN be read as a stand alone. There are NO shifters in this series, only the OTHER kind of bears. 


Nailed teaser 3Nailed teaser 2

Excerpt
I’m in the midst of a lovely dream involving a cherry seventy-nine Triumph Bonneville between my thighs, purring like a kitten as we tear down the winding back roads of the Midwest on a gorgeous summer afternoon, when the image is shattered by the deep, booming bark of my furry best friend.

I jerk awake, nearly falling out of bed, my hand flying out to catch myself on the nightstand before I can topple to the floor.

“Dammit, Rudy, knock it off,” I growl, my voice like gravel from the dryness of sleep. I kick at my sheets, tangled around my legs and rub my hands over my eyes while the damn mutt ignores me and continues on with his canine theatrics. “Rudy!”

He whines and trots into the bedroom, jumping up onto the foot of the bed and cocking his head at me, one ear flopping to the side while the other stands up straight like it always does, as if to ask why I wouldn’t want to wake up to his barking at six in the morning on a Saturday.

Now that he’s quiet though, it becomes obvious that the rumbling sound wasn’t only in my dream.

“Mother fucking god damn shithead,” I grumble, throwing my blankets back and tear out of bed with my jaw set and my hand already forming into a fist. Rudy gives an excited bark, jumping off the bed and trotting after me.

Two months. That dickhead has lived next door for two months and I swear to god he has made it his mission to find a new way to piss me off nearly every day. I stomp through the kitchen towards the backdoor, flinging it open and stepping out onto my back deck, not bothering with the fact that I’m not wearing anything besides my boxers.

Sure enough, he’s out there mowing his lawn like it’s a thing to do at such an ungodly hour. Last weekend he was using a buzz saw, the one before that it was a leaf blower. Never mind the fact that it’s goddamn July and all the motherfucking leaves are still on the cock sucking trees.

Okay, maybe I’m a little moody before my coffee, but it’s justified. I wouldn’t be surprised if I woke up next weekend to find him using a jackhammer to tear up his entire driveway just to piss me off.

“What the fuck is wrong with you?” I roar. Of course, he doesn’t hear me over the noise of his lawnmower. “Hey, Asshole!” I shout again, waving my arms in hope of catching his attention.

After a minute he looks in my direction, a cocky grin spreading over those full, irritating lips of his. The sound of the lawn mower cuts off and he waves at me.

“Howdy neighbor. How are you this morning?”

“I swear to all that is holy, if you don’t knock it off, I’m going to dig a hole in my backyard and bury you alive.”

KM Neuhold Logo__
Author K.M.Neuhold is a complete romance junkie, a total sap in every way. She started her journey as an author in new adult, MF romance, but after a chance reading of an MM book she was completely hooked on everything about lovely- and sometimes damaged- men finding their Happily Ever After together. She has a strong passion for writing characters with a lot of heart and soul, and a bit of humor as well. And she fully admits that her OCD tendencies of making sure every side character has a full backstory will likely always lead to every book having a spin-off or series. When she's not writing she's a lion tamer, an astronaut, and a superhero...just kidding, she's likely watching Netflix and snuggling with her husky while her amazing husband brings her coffee.


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Working Stiffs - A Charity Anthology by Various Authors


Gay Book Promotions host today's release blitz for charity anthology, Working Stiffs! This paranormal anthology proceeds benefit the World Health Organization's COVID-19 Response Fund! The multi-authored collection has 13 vampire sories from 13 authors including H.L. Day, Lyra Evans, Megs Pritchard, Roberta Blablanski, Sadie Jay, Mel Gough, A.J. Sherwood, Crystel Greene, Eliott Griffen, Tanya Chris, R.J. Sorrento, K. Evan Coles, and Edie Montreux! Plus there's a $25 Amazon gift card giveaway attached! Good luck! Stay safe!

RELEASE BLITZ
Book Title: Working Stiffs (A collection of short stories)
Authors:
Bad Blood by Lyra Evans
Bad Decision by H.L Day
Call My Number by Megs Pritchard
Dial a Vamp by Roberta Blablanski
Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay
Fire and Ice Cold Skin by Mel Gough
How To Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood
Graveyard Cops by Crystel Greene
Life Hacks by Eliott Griffen
Long Haul by Tanya Chris
Off the Menu by R.J. Sorrento
Overexposed by K. Evan Coles
Quality Assured by Edie Montreux
Genre/s: Paranormal
Trope/s: Vampires, workplace romances
Length: 13 stories
Heat Rating: Varies from story to story - between 2 and 5 flames

Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited
Sometimes work sucks in a good way
Blurb

Not all vampires are idly rich. Some of them have day jobs. Er, night jobs.

In a world struggling to come to grips with the existence of vampires, where reactions range from excitement to fear to determined disbelief, these vampires are just trying to make ends meet. Some of them do mundane work—like waiting tables or driving a cab. Others have more prestigious careers in medicine and crime prevention. But what all their jobs have in common is people. Unpredictable, interesting, frustrating, hostile, helpless, tasty people.

Whether they’re pouring drinks, answering phones, hacking into a computer system, or serving up the perfect food/wine pairing, these working stiffs are too busy to fall in love. Or are they?

This International Workers Day, celebrate by sinking your teeth into thirteen awesome stories about vampires at work. Because even the undead have to earn a living.

Proceeds benefit the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.


Story Blurbs

Bad Blood by Lyra Evans

Dr. Alek Matsouka and Dr. James Crawford have been at each other’s throats since the first night of their ER residency. And not in the way that gets Alek fed. He doesn’t know why Crawford is so hostile—whether he’s an anti-Vampire bigot or just hates that Alek is the better doctor—but Alek does like to provoke the arrogant prick. When their competitive antics get the better of them one night and a case takes a dangerous turn, both doctors will have to face the truth of their bad blood—or risk their careers.

Bad Decision by H.L Day

A stranger searching for a night of ecstasy with a vampire. A cabbie with the irrational urge to stop him from making the worst decision of his life. The next few hours could be lifechanging for both men.

Call My Number by Megs Pritchard

He always calls when I’m working. He has my direct number too. We both know why he does, but he knows I won’t accept his obvious invitation… until I do. How will he react, my sweet human, when his vampire comes calling?

Dial a Vamp by Roberta Blablanski

Wyatt’s life is in a total slump and working as a phone sex operator doesn’t help his frustrations. After a century, being a vampire is getting old and losing its appeal. He feels stuck and aimless, until one phone call changes his immortal life.

Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay

Rollie Brown was 20 years old when he staked his vampire boyfriend. Now, fifteen years later, he’s discovered Alex is alive, bartending, and more forgiving than Rollie deserves. They might have a second chance at love—but first they have to rescue Rollie’s wayward ex.

Fire and Ice Cold Skin by Mel Gough

When a firefighter takes pity on a gorgeous young man who has been made homeless by a blaze, he has no idea who he’s invited into his home—and soon into his heart.

How To Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood

The funny thing about living forever is that you still have bills to pay, which is why Justus is now working for JD Cooper. The man is a writing raconteur—known to craft a mean mystery—but he’s one step away from hoarder level. When Justus takes a job as his housekeeper, he expects eccentricity. But he gets so much more.

Graveyard Cops by Crystel Greene

Police officer Jesse Hendricks, twenty-one since 1900 and hating being a vampire, is secretly in love with his patrol partner Angelico “Lico” DiMarco. Chronically upbeat Lico doesn’t believe in anything supernatural, thankfully, but he keeps teasing Jesse for his vampire-like reserve, pallor, and beauty in the most annoying of ways. Then, one fateful night, Jesse is injured with a silver blade and needs to feed to survive. Lico steps up and saves him—body and soul.

Life Hacks by Eliott Griffen

Josh is a corporate big shot, living the life he thought he wanted. Vin is a vampire on the hunt, with zero self-confidence and a truckload of regrets. Living on opposite sides of the equation, they have nothing in common, until one day their lives collide in the worlds of ones and zeros.

Long Haul by Tanya Chris

When Vlad intervenes to stop a shakedown in progress, he doesn’t plan on keeping the young sex worker he saves, but Silver has an irresistible tenacity. He also has a little something extra in his blood—something that drives Vlad wild in both good and bad ways.

Off the Menu by R.J. Sorrento

Johnny Russo, a newbie-vampire and chef, refuses to feed from humans. His new job at a Chicago restaurant is going well until he’s forced to work with Nate Beaumont, a handsome but snobby sommelier with an intoxicating scent. The tension between them builds for weeks, and Johnny fights the urge to feed. Despite first impressions, they could be good together if Johnny can be himself. But feeding from Nate might make him feel less than human, and Johnny would be crushed if Nate sees him as a novelty instead of boyfriend material.

Overexposed by K. Evan Coles

Crime scene photographer Noah Green may be the only vampire employed by the NYPD’s Crime Scene Unit, but he keeps his head down and stays focused on the work. While shooting a murder scene one night, Noah is dismayed to discover he knows the only witness, bakery manager Dan Kaes, a human who has intrigued Noah from their very first meeting. Combining forces with the police to keep their witness safe, Noah welcomes Dan into his home, only to find that keeping him at arm's length is harder than he ever imagined.

Quality Assured by Edie Montreux

Quality Analyst Kellan Ford doesn’t know what to expect when Medicorp overnight representative Derek Houston’s calls aren’t recording properly. Kellan’s side-by-side evaluation turns into an early-morning field trip and changes everything Kellan knows about vampires. Is he doomed to die at the hands of vampires like his sister did, or can Derek offer him a new lease on life?



Short excerpt from Fangs for the Memories by Sadie Jay

I tried to not stare but I couldn’t help myself. He was exactly the same except his long white hair was streaked with a rainbow of colors and pulled up into a messy bun. An inch taller than my five foot nine, he was straight and lanky. There was no curve to him at all, not an ounce of fat. Under the sleeves of his dress shirt, I pictured his ropey forearms with raised veins, easy to trace with a fingertip, while his hip and rib bones would be well defined under his skin. I admittedly have a thing for skinny men.

I still saw his translucent albino skin in my dreams, and his silvery blue eyes that darkened with anger. Or with desire. His feathery white eyelashes, his straight nose, his thin lips framing his over-wide mouth. When I’d met him, back when I was 19 and taking night classes, I thought he was the most exotic, beautiful person I’d ever met.

He still was.




Excerpt from How to Keep an Author (Alive) by AJ Sherwood

“I need to know how to tie a person down like this on the table and make it realistic. I mean, can I tie down both legs? Or would that make it too awkward for the attacker?”

Rubbing at my forehead, I tried for patience. “Coop. I’ve never tied someone down for sex. I have no idea.”

He came up on an elbow, looking at me curiously. “Really? Oh, right, the vampire-sexual-feeding thing. How does that work, anyway?”

“There’s a mild aphrodisiac in our saliva that—you know what, I’m not having this conversation with you.”

Cooper didn’t pout, but it was a near thing. He loved asking me questions about vampirism and how it all worked. Often inappropriate questions, at that.

“Okay, tell me later. For now, come help me figure this out. I’m stuck on this scene until I do.”

After two months of dealing with these sorts of weird requests, I’d more or less become immune to them. At least he hadn’t tried to smother me in my sleep again. It made sense that he’d gone through a housekeeper every month before my arrival. A lot of the help he asked for bordered on sexual harassment. Like now. He honestly didn’t mean it that way, though, which was why I was willing to play along.

Shrugging, I abandoned my wall perch to come forward. “You said the potential victim is a man?”

“Yes.” Cooper smiled, delighted I was cooperating.

“Hmmm. Yeah, I don’t think you can tie both legs down.” Knowing he would prefer a hands-on approach, I grabbed the leg tied down and hoisted it up as much as I could. “And even this is too tight. I can’t roll your hips up and into position like this. And think, too, pants have to come off, at least partway.”

“All very good points and what made me wonder. The few times I’ve had anal sex—”

I about swallowed my tongue. Just what had he casually confessed?!

“—I was on hands and knees, so I wasn’t sure.” Cooper did an awkward half-crunch. “So, say my character is in this position. Loosen that rope, let me see how much play has to be there. Yeah, okay, like that. Can you—”

This man, seriously. He was bad for my heart. He kept tapping into emotions I didn’t know I had, and he did it effortlessly and in strange ways that ambushed my guard. I liked him. I knew I did, but it was a precarious situation. I had no idea how he felt about me because his behavior was so oddball, I found him impossible to read.

Take this situation right now. Someone with a crush would use this situation to perhaps slyly flirt or signal their interest. But he was just trying to experiment and prove a point. Right…? I think. It left me in a strange emotional limbo because I didn’t know how to react to him. I knew what he wanted me to do, but I hesitated, because I had a feeling something would change if I did. If I even mimicked having sex with him, it would unlock a door in my head I’d kept chained shut. And yet.

And yet.

I moved like I’d been hypnotized, because touching him like that was too much of a temptation. Even with clothes in the way. I moved in and set my groin against his ass, lifting his legs up to make the position possible. It looked awkward and uncomfortable on his part.

Cooper’s expression didn’t betray any awkwardness, though. His lips parted as he stared up at me with a sort of bludgeoned surprise. A blush spread across his pale skin, and his breath quickened a touch.

An impulse stole over me—to lean in, to close the gap between our bodies, to get him off this damn table. He was all warm skin, the heat of him pouring into me even through our jeans. I could feel his leg twitch, the urge to wrap around my waist clear, and I wanted that quite badly. Oh god. Oh god, he was attracted to me after all. That reaction was unmistakable. But did that mean I should act on it? He was still my employer. What if this went very, very wrong?

“Should I leave?”

The female voice startled me so badly I dropped Cooper’s legs.


Giveaway



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Shelter in Place by Simon Strange


Author Simon Strange and Gay Book Promotions host today's release blitz for Shelter in Place! Discover more and enter in the $25 Amazon gift card giveaway!

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Shelter in Place
Author: Simon Strange
Publisher: Simon Strange Books
Cover Artist: Simon Strange
Release Date: April 11, 2020
Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance
Trope/s: First time gay, Gay for you, scars (very light), low-angst,
forced proximity, kink exploration, exhibitionism, experimenting.
Heat Rating: 5 flames
It’s pretty much non-stop sex and filthy dialogue with no limits.
Length: 90 000 words/ 300 pages
It is book one in a series.
Book 2 is on pre-order with a book 1.5 available via the newsletter.

Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

I'm stuck in a straight guy's apartment. How am I supposed to deal with this?


Blurb

I hadn't planned on living with Ross very long. I just needed a place to stay to get on my feet after a bad break up, and happened to be friends with his sister. But when the shelter in place order comes down, not only do I lose any chance of finding my own space; my bartending job dries up, too.

And Ross is taking this order very seriously. He grew up in a family of Montana doomsday preppers, and his rules are very clear: we've got three months of food, and neither of us is leaving—for any reason.

I don't have a ton of money, and there are bills to pay. But there are a few different ways to make some cash online—especially when the rest of the world is shut inside, too, and need something to entertain them. Who would have imagined I would end up on a cam site entertaining guys from all over the world just by being myself and having fun? So long as I wait until Ross goes to sleep before I log on, anyway—I definitely do not want him to know what I'm up to on his couch.

But Ross is full of surprises, it turns out. And I guess I am too. Because what I end up sharing with him is something I've never shared with anyone before. I just worry that things are about to get very complicated. Because every gay boy knows the cardinal rule:

Never, ever fall for the straight guy.



Excerpt

“Holy... shit,” I muttered. I looked at the camera. “Did you guys see that?”

@LuckyTom: That was the most beautiful thing I’ve seen in my life.

@Look3r123: Shit, is he okay? Is he breathing? Did he die?

@YourDad57: Russ I think you killed him, brother. What’s in your cum?

I laughed, and swiped a bit from the end of my cock, and looked at it like I was seriously wondering. “Hell, I don’t know. Maybe I have a super power. What do you think, Cal?”

Cal opened his eyes, and I angled the iPad to make sure he was fully in frame. He shook his head, and waved a hand. “I don’t know. Gotta be something, though. Here, let me...” he reached for my arm.

I let him take my hand, and he pulled it close and closed his lips around my fingertip, nursing the drop of cum off it. He shook his head once it was clean. “Not sure. Not enough of a sample.”

I grunted, and grabbed the base of my dick to shake it at him. “Maybe you better clean this off, then.”

I couldn’t even help myself at that point. Cal glanced up at me, questioning and exciting. I gave him a nod, and he sat up as I lifted my cock so he could get to it more easily. His mouth closed over the head of my dick and my head rolled back as a shiver ran through me. Then I sank into his mouth, and maybe changed my mind about whether I could go a second time. He groaned quietly, and his slick fingers, covered in my cum, his, and some vaseline, found my nuts and gave them a gentle kind of squeeze as he took me down until I pushed into his throat and then past.

“Fuck,” I gasped, barely able to get a breath. “Yeah, fucking clean it all up, Cal.”

He grunted, leaned in, gripped my dick with his other hand, and began to work me. I shuddered, looked down and almost stopped him. I didn’t think I could really come again, not so soon, not after that. But the first one had been weak. Nothing special, nothing extraordinarily intense. Not like the time he sucked me. I tangled my fingers in his hair and moved my hips with his head, pulling away the same time he did and thrusting in slow.

It was like the first time all over again—all that head, that suction, the magic of his tongue. It made me drunk, made my tongue loose. Except this time I knew what was in his head when he did it. How he was desperate to please me, to treat my cock just right. His groaning grew higher pitched, more urgent. He fucking loved sucking my dick. And I realized that it made me feel like a god that he did. “Good,” I rumbled. “That’s good, Cal. Fucking suck it all up. Think you can make me come again? Try. Get that cum, little guy. You wanna own this dick? That’s rich. Look at you, you don’t own shit. This dick owns you, doesn’t it? You fucking dream about it, think about it all day... you want another taste. Work for it. Suck it out of me, good boy.”

Ding, ding, ding. Ding-ding. Ding. Ding ding ding.

Oh yeah—they fucking loved it.



About the Author
Simon Strange loves coffee, red wine, craft beer, and men. Especially men. Especially the men you should never, ever screw...

What is it about the forbidden that gets our blood hot? Is it just the rebellious instinct to do what we're told is wrong? Those men we grew up with, the ones that were either always looking over us or always by our side—or chasing us around—the ones that say they don't want us, and would never ever... well, just this once, if you don't tell...

So that's what you get from Simon Strange. Stories of the forbidden, of the filthy, and the naughty, and the never-ever-tell, and of course, the strange. With nearly 150 reviews for his collection of erotica and romance, and an average of four and a half stars across the board, you'll almost certainly find something you like in the pages of his work.

Just be sure to bring a change of undies. ;)

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Guest Review: My Other Half (Must Love Dogs #4) by Megan Slayer

A pet adoption leading to lasting love?

Kelly Haas thought he’d lost everything when his first dog, Sally, passed away. He wasn’t looking for a new pup, but couldn’t resist checking the local rescues. One look at Louie and Kelly knew he’d found the right dog—a happy bagle. When Kelly meets the man running the rescue, he realizes he’s smitten with Rob, too.

Rob McMann isn’t the type of man to fall for a potential animal adopter, but he still believes in happy endings for the animals—and himself. Kelly isn’t like the other adopters. He knows how to get Rob, a perpetual loner, to come out of himself. He can be open with Kelly, but he leans on him hard when he hits a low time in his life.

Can these two find the love they deserve while raising four dogs, or are they destined to just be friends?

Reader advisory: This book contains expressions of homophobia, references to the death of beloved pet, and abusive exes.



Review: Shee Reader

This book was an adorable sweet little hug of a read!

It was a gentle tale of two men who had both been shortchanged by their previous relationships and found the other half they were missing. It was low in angst, high in cute, and lots of lovely doggy adoption thrown in.

I enjoyed it so much, I devoured it in one sitting. The current uncertain times mean a nice easy read is just what the dog-tor ordered haha!

Kelly’s loss of Sally was so real it was tangible, the worst side effect of loving your hound is losing them, and the grief was real for me as a reader. To see Kelly fall in love with a new dog and a new guy is just story book perfection.

Recommended.

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




Release Blitz + Giveaway: A Family Affair by Rob Loveless


Author Rob Loveless and IndiGo Marketing host today's release blitz for A Family Affair! Find out more on the new adult story and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: A Family Affair
Author: Rob Loveless
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 27, 2020
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 50100
Genre: Contemporary, bisexual, college, gay, HFN, holiday season, jealousy, new adult, revenge, unrequited love

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Synopsis

It’s been said that if you love someone, set them free. If they come back they’re yours; if they don’t they never were. But what does it mean when they come back into your life—as your sibling’s significant other?

At twenty-five years old, Cal Adams has only ever truly loved one man, the one who broke his heart three years earlier—Andrew Hall. Since then, he has searched for meaningful relationships but cannot smolder the flames of the past his family remains unaware of.

As the holiday season approaches, Cal’s younger sister, Claire, brings her boyfriend home to meet the family. When she arrives, Cal is shocked to meet her boyfriend, who is none other than Andrew. In a darkly humorous tale, Cal decides to show his ex what he missed out on.

Excerpt

A Family Affair
Rob Loveless © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Cal Adams sat at his desk and shuffled through some papers as he eyed the clock: 5:47 p.m. A mixture of excitement and anxiety churned uneasily in his stomach as the seconds hand ticked away. In thirteen minutes, he would relinquish his work responsibilities and prepare for what was sure to be a big night. A few days earlier, Cal’s parents had called to invite him to dinner Friday night for a special occasion—his baby sister would be home from college for the weekend.

Claire Adams was a senior in college and only three and a half years younger than Cal, yet he couldn’t help but refer to her as his baby sister; perhaps that was part of being a big brother. As Claire’s older brother and only sibling, Cal was a bit on edge about that night’s family dinner. After all, Claire wasn’t just coming home to visit; she was bringing along her new boyfriend to meet the family.

Cal tuned out the clinking of weight machines and the grunts of fatigued gym patrons as he sat in his office and concentrated on the circumstance at hand. His sister hadn’t had a boyfriend meet their parents since her junior year of high school, which meant this was serious. Cal and Claire had become very close in recent years, but he had not heard much about this boyfriend, including his name. Claire had always been one to maintain a low profile on social media, and only acknowledged she was “in a relationship” a month or so ago—without posting any photos. From what Cal had been able to gather from his phone calls with her, Claire and her boyfriend had only been seeing each other for about six months. So they hadn’t been together that long. Still, this was serious, which worried Cal a bit.

Being the big brother, Cal was somewhat protective of his sister, but he was happy for Claire, and he was sure he’d love her boyfriend. After all, Claire had a good head on her shoulders. However, this whole situation made Cal uneasy since it made him reflect on his own lack of success in the relationship department.

As the eldest sibling, Cal had always anticipated he would be the first to settle down. However, being twenty-five years old and never having been in a serious relationship, he often felt frustrated and unfulfilled—like something was missing in his life.

It wasn’t that Cal was undateable. On the contrary, he was quite attractive, with medium-length, dark-brown hair, piercing gray eyes, sharp features, and a lean build. He was successful, independent, and had an easygoing, fun-loving personality. In fact, he went on plenty of dates, but nothing ever seemed to pan out. Either the chemistry wasn’t there or things just didn’t advance. Cal hadn’t experienced genuine feelings for anyone since—

“Hey,” a friendly voice chimed, which snapped Cal’s attention back to work. A petite young woman with a pretty, freckled face and long, ginger tresses appeared at his office door.

“Hi, Sophie,” Cal greeted. “Getting ready to head out?”

“Yeah, my six o’clock canceled on me,” she informed him.

Sophie was a personal trainer at the gym Cal managed and also one of his closest friends. Sophie was a year his senior, and the two had been friends since childhood. They knew everything about each other’s lives: the good, the not-so-good, and the bad.

Cal glanced at the clock: nearly six now. “I’ll be leaving in a few too.”

“Any fun weekend plans?” Sophie asked.

“Well, I have that family dinner tonight, but I’m not sure if I would call it fun.”

“Ohh, that’s right!” she said. “Claire’s bringing home the boyfriend. What do you know about him?”

“Nothing,” Cal replied. “Honestly, I don’t even think my parents know much about him.”

“So this is a pretty big deal,” Sophie stated. “It sounds serious.”

“Yeah, it does,” he sighed with a lack of enthusiasm before he shut off his computer.

“Uh oh, sounds like someone’s big brother senses are tingling,” she teased.

“It’s not that. I’m sure this guy is great. And I’m happy for Claire, I really am. But I’m twenty-five years old and—”

“Cal, you can’t keep thinking like that. You’re young, and you’ll find someone.”

“That’s what all my friends say, but you guys are all in relationships,” Cal countered. “You and Rich have been together for years.”

“Believe me, you’re gonna find someone. Soon. I’m sure of it,” Sophie reassured him as she gave his arm a squeeze. “By the way, I forgot to ask, how did the date go with that guy last night?”

“Eh, it was fine…at first.”

“At first?” she questioned.

“Yeah, I mean, he was cute. We just grabbed a coffee. And he seemed to have a good personality.”

“So what happened?”

“He started talking about how he loves popping molly.”

“No!”

“Oh yeah. And then he told me Lana Del Rey’s music makes him horny. Those were his exact words.”

“What!” Sophie gasped in disbelief. “He did not!”

“I’m telling you I can’t make this stuff up,” Cal chuckled as he shook his head in disbelief. “And really, Lana Del Rey? I didn’t know melancholic songs could get someone all hot and bothered.”

“You’re such a normal guy. How come you always find these crazies?”

“I don’t know, I guess they’re drawn to me,” he joked. “But, in all seriousness, I hate these stupid dating apps. I wish I didn’t have to use them, but I don’t know how else to meet someone. Every time I do meet someone from the apps though, they’re crazy or—”

“Or you don’t feel the spark.”

“No. At least not like I had with—”

“Hey”—Sophie interrupted in a soft voice—“it’s been over three years.”

“I know. I know,” Cal stated. He stood from his desk and grabbed his charcoal peacoat. “And I’m over it—believe me—I am. I just get scared that—”

“Don’t be. You’ll have those feelings again. You’ll find that spark.”

“Yeah, I know,” he sighed with a slight shrug before he hit the lights and left his office with Sophie. The two exited the gym in silence and were soon embraced by the crisp air of late November.

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Meet the Author

Rob Loveless is a corporate communications professional, and currently resides in Pittsburgh, PA. He has been an avid reader and writer from a young age, being influenced by authors like J.K. Rowling and Dan Brown. When he’s not working or writing, Rob enjoys being active, exploring what the Steel City has to offer, and traveling.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Legally Wed by Rick R. Reed


Join author Rick R. Reed and IndiGo Marketing in celebration of new release, Legally Wed! Learn more about the second chance romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!


Title: Legally Wed
Author: Rick R. Reed
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 27, 2020
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 68600
Genre: Contemporary, elementary teacher, gay marriage, grief, Lake Union, men with pets, receptionist, romance, same-sex marriage, Seattle, second chances, Washington State, wedding planner

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Synopsis

Love comes along when you least expect it.

That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants―a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life―and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.

Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?

Excerpt

Legally Wed
Rick R. Reed © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Same-sex marriage had just become legal in Washington State, and Duncan Taylor didn’t plan on wasting any time. He had been dating Tucker McBride for more than three years, and ever since the possibility of marriage had become more than just a pipe dream, it was all Duncan could think of. He thought of it as he gazed out the windows of his houseboat on Lake Union on days both sunny and gray (since it was late autumn, there were a lot more of the latter); he thought of it as he stood before his classroom of fourth graders at Cascade Elementary School. He thought of it when he woke up in the morning and before he fell asleep at night.

For Duncan, marriage was the peak, the happy ending, the icing on the cake, the culmination of one’s heart’s desire, a commitment of a lifetime, the joining of two souls. For Duncan, it was landing among the stars.

And for Duncan, who would turn thirty-eight on his next birthday, it was also something he had never dared dream would be possible for him.

Now, too excited to sleep, he was thinking about it—hard—once again. It was just past midnight on December 6, 2012, and the local TV news had preempted its regular programming to take viewers live to Seattle City Hall, where couples were forming a serpentine line to be among the first in the state to be issued their marriage licenses—couples who had also for far too long believed this right would be one they would never be afforded. Many clung close together to ward off the chill, but Duncan knew their reasons for canoodling went far deeper than that.

The mood, in spite of the darkness pressing in all around, was festive. There was a group serenading the couples in line, singing “Going to the Chapel.” Champagne corks popped in the background. Laughter.

Duncan couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he watched all the male-male and female-female couples in the line, their moods of jubilation, of love, of triumph, traveling through to him even here on his houseboat only a couple of miles north of downtown. Duncan wiped tears from his eyes as he saw not only the couples but also all the supporters, city workers, and volunteers who had crowded together outside city hall to wish the new couples well, to share in the happiness of the historic moment.

And then Duncan couldn’t help it; he fell into all-out blubbering as the first couple to get their license emerged from city hall. Eighty-five-year-old Pete-e Petersen and her partner and soon-to-be-wife, Jane Abbott Lighty, were all smiles when a reporter asked them how they felt.

“We waited a long time. We’ve been together thirty-five years never thinking we’d get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can’t hardly stand it,” Pete-e said.

It was such a special moment, and it was all Duncan could do not to pick up the phone and call Tucker and casually say something like, “Hey honey, you want to get married?”

But he knew he had to wait even if patience was a virtue Duncan had in short supply. On Sunday, when the first marriages would take place, he planned on bringing Tucker to their favorite restaurant, an unpretentious little joint on Capitol Hill called Olympia Pizza. There, amid the darkened and—for them—romantic interior with the smells of garlic, basil, and tomato sauce surrounding them, Duncan would propose, saying something clever like:

“I’m thinking about changing my Facebook relationship status to ‘engaged.’ Would you mind?”

In his mind, Tucker would chuckle and then rub at the tuft of blond hair that grew from his chin, regarding Duncan with his dark-blue eyes. Duncan could see the flicker of the candle lighting up his man’s features as he held the silence for a few moments, building the suspense. Then he would say something like, “I think I’ll change mine too.”

That would be one way it could play out—very twenty-first century.

Duncan would then imagine all his friends and family congratulating the newly minted fianc├ęs with “Likes” and words of encouragement and shared happiness. Maybe he could get their waiter to take a picture of them, holding hands over a sausage and mushroom pie, right after the moment when they went from two guys dating to two guys anticipating…marriage.

Duncan found himself wiping yet another tear from his eye. Sunday was going to be perfect.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

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.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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Audiobook Review: Out on the Ice (Out in College #5) by Lane Hayes

Colby Fischer is a bad boy with attitude and a chip on his shoulder. As a senior at a Southern California college, he knows this may be his last shot. He doubts he’ll ever become the hockey legend he dreamed of being as a kid, but he definitely doesn’t want to be an accountant. Things get interesting when he’s asked to train the new intern at his step-dad’s firm, who happens to be the troublemaker from his econ class. And the one guy Colby can’t stand.

Baseball is Sky Jameson’s life. He’s happy to be back at Chilton for his senior year, but he’s burned a few bridges and has a bit too much free time off-season. He could use the money and something to keep him busy until his season begins. But his accidental crush on his prickly coworker could be a problem. Colby is straight and Sky is in the closet. Their timing isn’t great, but the intense attraction is hard to deny. With his final season on the hockey team in the balance, Colby may have to decide if he’s ready to come out on the ice.

Listening Length: 6 hours and 22 minutes
Narrator: Michael Dean


Colby Fischer lives for hockey. School and family are obligations he puts up with. He’s fairly got it together - except for the one thorn in his side in econ class. Things take an interesting turn when said thorn, Sky Jameson, turns out to be the new intern at Colby’s step-dad’s accounting firm.

For his part, Sky’s more than happy to tease the straight boy who won’t stop looking at him. He doesn’t expect much to come of it. But the pull can’t be denied.

I didn’t think I’d like Sky, after his less-than-impressive behaviour in previous books. But I actually warmed up to him pretty easily!

Part of it was that we finally see things from Sky’s perspective and get his background story. But mostly it was the fact that he’d matured a lot, and accepted that his actions were wrong. Character growth!

In fact, I found Colby a bit harder to get used to. He has a massive chip on his shoulder, and his treatment of his step-dad was incredibly childish. He was likeable over time, but it took some convincing.

Regardless, I really liked the set-up to Colby and Sky’s story. Nothing like a misunderstanding and some mutual dislike with a strong undercurrent of physical attraction to really make things interesting.

And these two delivered, once Colby decides to give in! While Colby does have doubts about his attraction to a man, he was pretty open to giving things a try.

I thought Sky was the perfect tutor. He respected Colby’s boundaries and didn’t try to push him into anything he wasn’t ready for.

And while the two explored their intense attraction, they slowly developed a friendship beyond the physical. They bonded over mutual interests and shared dreams.

I thought it was very sweet that the two didn’t second guess making time for casual dates and just hanging out together. And that they both acknowledged when their feelings became deeper.

But inevitably their relationship in the closet hits a wall. It was predictable, but the resolution and Colby’s grand gesture were cute regardless!

Overall, I enjoyed ‘Out on the Ice’. If you’re looking for a well-narrated audiobook of a fairly simple and sexy romance, give this a try!


A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.


Giveaway + Release Blitz: Dream Weaver (Roam #3) by Dez Schwartz


Dream Weaver (Roam #3) is out now! Celebrate with author Dez Schwartz & IndiGo Promotions today. Find out more about this paranormal romance, read an excerpt & enter in the giveaway for a $10 NineStar Press gift code.


Title: Dream Weaver
Series: Roam, Book Three
Author: Dez Schwartz
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: April 27, 2020
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 45400
Genre: Paranormal, celestials, death, dream world, dreams, Elementals, ghosts, magic, MM Romance, sandman, witches

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Synopsis

Ethan Roam has faced a lot of nightmarish challenges—finding out he’s a sandman, falling in love with the man who once hunted him, and thwarting attacks from The Order of Azoth, a secret occult organization set on using his bloodline to conquer the universe by controlling immortality. And the battle is far from over.



To defeat The Order and its leader, Phantom, Ethan must first find the original Sandman and then bring the fight to the Dream World. Saving the universe might be too tall an order for one dream creature, but with the help of his friends and some Celestial beings with questionable motives, Ethan just might be able to weave a trap of surreal proportions.


Excerpt





Dream Weaver
Dez Schwartz © 2020
All Rights Reserved

The Misguided Travelers

“Maybe it’s broken.” Ethan Roam, the
sandman, shook the orb as though giving the device the magic-eight-ball
treatment would bring it pulsing back to life.

“It had better not be. Technical support
doesn’t exist for magical artifacts,” Mercury said.

Unsuccessful at reviving the device,
Ethan set the orb down on the flattened surface of a nearby stalagmite. “I’m
surprised to say it, but I really wish Chris was here. If anyone could fix
this, it would probably be him.”

“The Sandman Orb doesn’t need to be
fixed. You’re just a bad driver,” Mercury, the former vampire, Dacey, who was
now transformed into a celestial entity, chided. Guarded, he turned a
one-eighty to view what little he could make out about their dark cavernous
surroundings. This wasn’t the first alien planet Ethan had transported them to.
But without the Sandman Orb working to give them a proper idea of where they
physically were, it was becoming the most foreboding.

“Well, it would help if I had the
driver’s manual,” Ethan defended, referring to the Codex, which had been left
behind in Grady Hunter’s study during the battle with the Hunters of Azoth,
forcing them all to escape to the Dream World. “My driving doesn’t explain why
the orb just stopped working all together.”

“Of course, it does. You took a wrong
turn into an uncharted dimension. You’re off the grid, darling.”

“Sorry I didn’t pull over to ask for
directions,” Ethan snipped.

Before he could add anything else to his
sarcastic rebuttal, Mercury grabbed his arm in a protective manner and
whispered, “Hide the orb. We’re not alone.”

Ethan scooped the archaic device up and
stowed the orb away inside his jacket’s inner lining, thankful Grady had
bestowed the hand-me-down to him. His boyfriend’s wardrobe had all sorts of
custom pockets and restraints for portable weaponry, which Ethan found to be
more and more a necessity.

A cluster of glowing eyes appeared in
the darkness, followed by the sound of grunts. Ethan released a pulse of
glowing blue dream energy from his palm to light up the space. The alien animal
let out an annoyed squawk. Now that Ethan could get a good peek at the
creature, he wished he hadn’t.

The alien matched the murky gray
sediment of the walls around them and appeared just as bulky. Its long body
reminded Ethan of a salamander, only several feet longer and the size of a
large crocodile. Once its gaggle of eyes adjusted to the light, the creature
used six legs to propel itself rapidly toward them.

“Ball play is over. Back to basics,”
Mercury instructed. Mercury had no reason to worry for his own life, seeing as
he currently held the title of Death. Instead, he’d be more interested in
protecting Ethan’s.

Picking up on his meaning, Ethan opened
a portal back to the Dream World. In the blink of an eye, he and Mercury left
behind a confused, angry, and hungry alien life-form.

*

Luckily, Mercury noted, Ethan has
mastered the art of landing on his feet and not on his face when traveling
between worlds.

Mercury grinned his approval. “You’re
improving.”

“Not nearly fast enough,” Ethan reminded
him, producing the orb once again. At least now they knew for certain the
device wasn’t broken since the orb glowed back to working order with the
atmosphere of the Dream World to energize it. “And this thing is basically
useless without the Codex.”

“There’s more than one way to navigate
foreign waters. Might I refer you to the Age of Exploration?” Mercury patted
him on the shoulder in encouragement.

“No need to ask if you had any luck. I
see Vincent still isn’t with you.”

They turned to see Marcus von Rottal,
the vampire, standing nearby, his hands casually resting in his pockets.

Mercury had reason to be wary of
Marcus’s extreme interest. They were all in limbo until they could find Vincent
Roam, Ethan’s father—the original Sandman. Unbeknownst to the others, Marcus
was the reason for Vincent’s disappearance. He’d pushed Vincent into a portal
out of unfounded jealousy. Mercury had guarded their secret in order to protect
Marcus. However, the truth seemed destined to come out. Especially if they were
successful in finding Vincent alive. Mercury imagined Marcus would want to put
all his efforts into doing whatever he could to prevent that from happening.

As long as Mercury had known him, Marcus
had put his own interests above everyone else’s. Nothing could stop him or
deter him once he set his mind on something. Mercury would have to play his
hand very close to keep Marcus from interfering or suspecting he mistrusted his
intentions. And as unrealistic as his desire was, a part of him also hoped the
others never would know the truth. Regardless of everything which had
transpired to drive them apart in the last century, and as much as he’d shed
the coil of his past life as Dacey, Mercury still felt protective over him. Or
at least responsible for him.

“Marcus, darling! I’m so glad you’re
here,” he lied. “Would you be a doll and fetch Grady and perhaps even the
portly fellow? What’s his name again?”

“Arthur,” Ethan helped.

Mercury snapped his fingers in
confirmation. “Yes! I have an ever-growing list of questions needing answers
from those bookish occultist blokes.”

“Hunter wandered into the dream forest,”
Marcus informed them. He often referred to Grady by his surname to slight him.
“I was quite hoping he’d lose himself in there, but I suppose I’ll go fetch him
out if I must. Must I?”

Mercury nodded.

Marcus pursed his lips in response
before making his way into the fluorescent-hued woods surrounding them.

Knowing full well Ethan would question
the need to interrogate the other men, Mercury went ahead and answered. “Who
has read the Mechanics of Sleep Travel more times than anyone else, and even
better, who helped write the damned thing?”


Purchase

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

Meet the Author





Dez Schwartz is a LGBTQ, Dreampunk,
& Gothic Romance author and artist based in San Angelo, Texas. She holds a
BFA in Studio Art and worked as a graphic artist, and a Director’s Assistant at
a fine arts museum, before transitioning to writing full-time.

Her longtime love of Victorian
spiritualism, gay literary fiction, and romantic comedies inspired her to begin
writing all of the stories she wished existed.

When she’s not passionately crafting tales, she
can be found drawing, researching, or traveling with loved ones


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