Guest Review: One Cup of Daddy and a Dash of Love (Unexpected Daddies #1) by Victoria Sue

Can an accidental Daddy love a boy for real?

Jensen Cartwright managed to get to forty-seven years old thinking he would never meet a man that wanted the sort of relationship he craved until Dashael literally fell into his arms.

Homeless, and convinced adulthood is some cruel joke forced on him to make him lonely, Dash is overawed by the sexy older man who seems to offer him everything he's ever wanted including story time, bath time, and special play time.

One Cup of Daddy contains an overworked businessman who finds out that cuddling a sweet boy and keeping him safe might be the best thing he's ever done, and a scared boy who discovers that finding a Daddy and holding on tight might just be the best recipe for love ever written.

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Dashael has had a tough life so far. His beloved grandmother has died leaving him all alone, save for the father that doesn’t really want him except to abuse him. He’s hiding above the cafe shop his grandmother had lovingly run for years, as the realtor shows round a wealthy businessman who wishes to buy the place to add to his portfolio. When Jensen spots Dashael, he doesn’t want to frighten the younger man who raises up a fierce need in Jensen to care and protect.

The story unfolds as Jensen discovers he is perhaps the daddy who needs a little, just as Dashael is a man who needs the care and protection of the perfect daddy. It is such a shocking discovery for Jensen that ‘this’ special kind of caring relationship is in fact what he has always longed for, as he is guided by his sister and his friend who both have their own littles into the lifestyle that can give him exactly the joy and love connection he needs. Dashael is tired of being frightened but doesn’t want to push Jensen away when he is everything Dash longs for.

This sweet and sexy kinky tale is a real feel-good read that provides an HEA where everyone gets just what they need.

Highly recommended.

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

Release Blitz: Hunger Strike: The Road of Bones by T.J. Pike

Welcome author T.J. Pike and Gay Book Promotions as they host today's release blitz for dystopian YA, Hunger Strike: The Road of Bones!


Book Title:  Hunger Strike: The Road of Bones

Author: T.J. Pike

Publisher: Gnaw Publishing

Release Date: November 20, 2020

Genre/s: Dystopian, YA, sci-fi/fantasy

Trope/s: Reluctant Hero

Themes: Friendship, family, freedom versus oppression

Heat Rating: 1 flame      

Length:  95 391 words

It is book 1 in a series of 4


Buy Links 

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 


The road must have its blood


Hunger Strike, The Road of Bones drops you two centuries into the future. The moon has been sheared in two, much of the Earth is a wasteland, and the world is ruled over by witches and sorcerers with cruelty and indifference. When the town of Endly is threatened by the tinkerer and his army of animorphs, sixteen-year-old Hunger Strike, alongside his best friend, Winda, and his adopted brother, Denver, devises a plan to move thousands of its residents across the treacherous wilds, in the hopes of finding a new home within the borders of a strange land far to the west, known only as The Weird Wood.


Winda is the adult in the room. Always. She approaches challenges logically. Where I’m a bumbling mess of emotions, Winda has a way of removing emotion from any given situation, and then, with a clear head, she begins to formulate a plan of action.

So, I relate every detail of the past couple of hours to her, ending on a sour note with the impending invasion, and then I sit back, fold my arms across my chest, and I watch the gears spinning behind Winda’s eyes, a flickering candle between us.

A minute passes. Two. Three.

“The beasts!” she shouts suddenly, jumping to her feet and kicking the leg of the table. Next, to my horror, she pulls her machete from its sheath and, in one lightning fast motion, she stabs its tip into the table, plants her hands, locks eyes with me, grits her teeth and she spits; “Well, I’m not going down without a fight, you hear?? We’ll certainly die, but we’re damned well going to take a few of them bastards down with us, and we’ll bathe in their blood together before our glorious deaths!”

I knit my eyebrows together. Clearly, someone has taken my Winda and they’ve replaced her with a person who delights in taking baths in other folks blood. I, however, do not. Where’s the adult in the room? The lack of emotion? The clear-headed plan? We really are screwed if even Winda can’t wrap her head around this thing and spit out a strategy other than bathing in blood and glorious deaths - a duo of rather unappealing options in my less-than-knowledgeable opinion on the subject.

“Um – I don’t like that plan, Winda,” I whisper, painfully aware that Denver is in my bedroom and probably listening to every word we say.

“What else is there??” she spits back at me, once again taking her seat.

I furrow my brow. “Running?”

“Leave – all these people to be slaughtered?” Winda hisses across the table at me. “Is that what you’re suggesting, Hunger?”

“No, Winda, that’s not what I’m suggesting,” I say.

“Then what?”

“We take them with us,” I say.

There’s a pause while Winda looks across the table at me like I’ve just grown a hideous extra head or two. “There are – thousands of people living in Endly, Hunger.”

“Two thousand, three hundred and thirty-seven,” a raspy little voice says.

I glance over my shoulder. Denver is peeking into the kitchen from the hall.

Winda sneers at him.

He gulps.

Denver has always been quite anxious around Winda. It might be her machete, or the pistol, or the fact that he overheard us discussing how she had accidentally murdered her pet cat, Mr. Wiggles. Or all three.

About the Author

T.J. Pike has been writing since splashing down on this tiny blue marble in late 1986, when a native of the planet observed what a brilliant liar he was. “You should either write a book or go into politics,” the woman was heard to say. Having been a VIP guest at the White House several thousand times over the past hundred years, he chose the former. Hand cramps, cold feet and early mornings soon inspired him to invent the computer, wool socks and coffee, though not in that order. Pike is currently number one on the Epsilon Delta Bestsellers list, and if you visit the Planet Arkon, you can find a bronze statue of him in the alleyway behind Smirk’s Liquor Mart, just to the left of the dumpster. Dubbed the most prolific story-teller of his time by Deckon-the-deceiver, Pike currently resides in New England, where he spends his days in the clouds, atop his dragon, Dinky, only stopping to allow her to feed on the occasional villager or two.


Author Links

Amazon  |  Twitter


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Release Blitz My Ticket Out by J.N. Marton

Don't miss today's release blitz for My Ticket Out, hosted by author J.N. Marton and Gay Book Promotions! 


Book Title:  My Ticket Out

Author: J.N. Marton

Cover Artist: 100Covers

Release Date: November 17, 2020

Genres: Contemporary F/F Romance,  Coming-of-age

Tropes: Forbidden love(ish) and friends to lovers

Themes: Coming out, Embracing who you are

Heat Rating:  2-3 flames 

Length: 260 pages

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

A senior basketball player. A mysterious new girl. A secret romance…


Charlie Baker wants out. She wants out of her small, southern hometown of BluHaven and she has her sights set on a basketball scholarship to a college as far away as her dreams can take her. Everything is going according to plan until she moves to town.

Aspen Sullivan is breathtaking. She is beautiful, smart, talented…. She evokes feelings in Charlie that she hadn’t thought possible. When their friendship blossoms into something more, Charlie discovers a new truth about herself. But with Aspen’s mysterious past, they must keep their relationship a secret.

Will their love be strong enough to endure the trials of deceiving those closest to them? Do they have what it takes to escape the constraints of the south and the closet together?

My Ticket Out is a Young Adult, LGBT story about love, and self-discovery. If you enjoy stories that include romance, heartbreak, and embracing who you are, then you will definitely love this book by author J.N. Miller.

Pick this book up today to see if Charlie will find her ticket out.


Chapter 1

“We did not come this far to roll over like a bunch of pigs! Take the ball and put it in the damn basket!”

Falcons on three… one… two… three… FALCONS.”

Twelve seconds left on the clock.

One more shot.

One more play.

One last chance.

Twelve seconds is all the time we need.

Defense pounces the second the ball is inbounded like a leach latching itself to the only available life source.

The fast break is swift--over before it even started. One hard dribble towards the middle and the ball is launched to the center of the court.

Seven seconds left.

What comes next is second nature. A hard cut to the basket and back out to the wing, my hands raised in the air as I catch the ball before defense has time to adjust.

Four seconds left… Three seconds… the ball rolls off my fingertips.

Two seconds… it swirls around the rim.

One second… and falls to the ground.

The sound of the buzzer erupts through the gymnasium, solidifying our defeat. Final score thirty-six to thirty-seven.

I inhale the musty stench of sweat, perfume, and hairspray as we sulk into the locker room and take a seat while we wait for the aftermath that is Coach Stewart. I lean forward, resting my elbows on my knees and focus on the sweat dripping from my forehead, plummeting to the ground, leaving a minuscule puddle between my shoes.

One shot.

That’s all we needed. And I blew it.

My main priority from the second this year started was getting a basketball scholarship out of this small town. From our very first game, it’s felt like my life has been dependent on one specific goal. A single accomplishment--like making the game winning shot--is going to make or break my future.

Coach Stewart charges through the door, letting it slam against the concrete wall as he steps in front of us. His gaze is intentional and cold, his demeanor full of discontent and indignation. His eyes trace over us, one by one, pausing just long enough for us to feel the misery set in.

He dips his head, slowly shaking it back and forth, before he holds up his index finger. “One shot. One damn shot. That’s all we needed to be undefeated this season.” He lifts his head, settling his hands on his hips. “We made mistakes tonight. And sometimes one mistake is the difference between winning and losing. The season’s not over yet. We’ll just have to practice a little harder to end it on a high. We’ve got a few games left, don’t give up now. Practice tomorrow after school. Bring it in.

Falcons on three… one… two… three… FALCONS.”

I shuffle to my locker, ignoring the hushed conversations happening around me, and begin gathering my stuff.

“That was a nice shot, Charlie,” Riley says as she pulls off her jersey, tossing it to the growing pile on the floor and retrieves her tshirt from the locker next to mine.

“Thanks,” I mutter, “I’ll see you tomorrow,” and sling my bag across my shoulders, heading for the door.

I get about three steps away from the locker room when I’m cut off by Ben. He’s wearing faded jeans, a red and black flannel over a plain white shirt, and boots with dried mud on the sides. The typical wardrobe of the boys that live around here. He’s taller than me by about three inches, with chocolate brown hair falling in his face, and forest green eyes that can’t seem to focus on what’s in front of him. “Hey, Charlie. Nice game.”

“Thanks,” I say, trying to brush past him.

He takes one long stride to the right, blocking my path. “I was thinking about checking out that new movie this weekend. Thought you might like to join me?”

“No thanks, I’m busy.”

He leans in closer, the smell of popcorn lingering on his breath, “C’mon, Charlie,” He whispers, “It’ll be fun. It wasn’t too long ago you jumped at the chance to go out with me.”

That’s not actually true. I only went out with him because Riley insisted and I finally agreed in order to get her off my back, not because I found him even remotely attractive. Of course, he doesn’t realize that, which isn’t all that surprising when I really think about it. We did the typical dinner and movie date but he couldn’t hold a conversation that didn’t revolve around him. Within the first twenty minutes of the movie, he’s shoving his tongue down my throat. I managed to wrangle him off before awkwardly sitting there trying to pretend I was somewhat interested in the film playing on screen. I haven’t gone out with him since.

“Ben, I need to get home. Can we talk about this some other time?”

“So,” he says, straightening up, his tone chipper as a smile plays around his mouth, “You’ll think about it?”

I stagger past him, picking up my pace as the EXIT sign beacons above the door, hoping my silence will answer his question.

I step outside, breathing in the bitter, frigid air of late February and make my way to my old grey Sedan. I pull out of the parking lot and head towards downtown. BluHaven is a small, southern town where the same families, shops, restaurants, and business have been here for generations. There’s a church on nearly every street corner, everything shuts down on Sundays, high school sports are the main source of entertainment, and everybody knows everything about everyone.

They say you have the freedom to be whoever you want to be, to express yourself in your own way. But if that goes against the belief system that’s been set in stone since before I was born, then don’t even bother. It’s not that I hate living here. It’s just that I never felt like I truly fit in, like my place has always been somewhere else in this world.

About the Author

J.N. Marton graduated from the University of Central Arkansas with a Bachelor’s degree in education. Along with educating the future of our nation, she enjoys taking her daily morning run, reading any book she can get her hands on, and binge watching the latest shows on Netflix. Marton happily lives with her wife, Hollis, and their Lab/Basset Hound mix, Sam.

Email her at and follow her on her favorite social media platform, Twitter @jn_marton.


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Naughty & Nice by D.J. Jamison

Author D.J. Jamison and Gay Book Promotions celebrate the release of holiday romance, Naughty & Nice! Read more about the ex-stepbrothers romance and enter in the $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!


Book Title: Naughty & Nice

Author: DJ Jamison

Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood

Release Date: November 19, 2020

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance 

Tropes: Ex-stepbrothers, snowed in, holidays 

Themes: Christmas, family, making up for past mistakes

Length: approx. 60 000 words

Heat Rating:  4 flames     

It is a standalone story.



Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal LinkAmazon US  |   Amazon UK 


Why can’t I forget your kiss…


Why can’t I forget your kiss…

Dear Quinn,

Why must I have these feelings for you? You're my ex-stepbrother, and nothing will change that truth, no matter how many letters I write.

I never expected to see you again--or to rescue you from the side of the road in a blizzard. I didn't think you would ever like me, much less kiss me in a steaming hot tub on a snowy night. It seems we make better lovers than brothers, which is all kinds of naughty and nice while we're snowed in together.

But can this new intimacy last when the skies clear and my family finally arrives for the holidays, or are we just two guys in a mountain cabin with a great view of everything we want but can't have?

Hopelessly yours,


Naughty & Nice is set in the same universe as Secret Admirer but stands alone.


“So, this is the hot tub,” I said, apropos of nothing.

“Yep,” he said, grinning. “Nothing gets by you.”

“I’m very observant that way,” I said, nodding seriously. I looked around as if taking in my surroundings, and when I got back to Jonas, I looked at him boldly, straight-on, my gaze skimming from his lips to his shoulders to his nipples, visible just above the water line.

He cleared his throat. “I’m starting to notice that.”

I wasn’t being subtle.

I’d angled for this to happen. To be in this hot tub with Jonas. I’d told him I wanted to soak away the cold in my bones, and that wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t entirely true either. I’d wanted to get closer to him. Wanted to feel another flash of the heat I was sure I’d seen in his eyes at dinner. Maybe it was an anomaly, and we’d have a soak and move on with our lives. Or maybe…

Maybe it’d combust, given the right circumstances.

To my frustration, Jonas’s phone chimed with a message. He looked away to pick it up. I watched as his lips quirked into a smile while he tapped out a response. He’d gotten a couple of these texts in the car too, tonight. It wasn’t like before, when he was avoiding messages. This was someone else.

“Who’s texting you?”

He glanced up, then irritatingly right back down to the phone. “No one important.”

I huffed. “They have a lot of your attention.” My stomach tightened. “Is it a hookup?”

Jonas didn’t answer immediately, and every second wound my insides a little bit tighter. If Jonas had someone in his life—or more than one, as his busy phone led me to believe—I wouldn’t be surprised. Why wouldn’t someone want him? He was effortlessly gorgeous; I’d seen him roll out of bed and ruffle his hair with his hand and look fabulous. That was it; his whole morning routine. And there I was in front of the mirror, trying to tame flyaway hairs and choosing my clothing with care. He was smart and self-reliant too. He didn’t bail on school or his future just because he was in a messy relationship. He dealt with life. Guys like him were never alone.

I edged closer, our legs brushing underwater. “Is it someone you’re serious about?”

“Nah, I don’t do serious.”

“Why not?”

His eyes met mine and held. “Tried it once. It didn’t suit me.”

I suspected he meant me, even though that didn’t make any sense. We’d never had a relationship. We’d had one brief kiss, and that was it. Surely he hadn’t been serious about his stepbrother with a bad attitude? I must be reading too much into that look…

“So, you’re texting with a non-serious hookup?”

He set the phone aside, lips quirking. “A potential hookup. Guy lives near here—”

I slapped my hand onto the surface of the water. “Oh, hell no!”

He laughed a little in disbelief. “What?”

Something came over me. All the tension that had stretched between us, all my restraint, snapped.

“No,” I repeated. “No hookups with other guys while you’re here.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Other guys?”

I was busted. He saw right through me, to the jealousy I had no right to have. I sucked in my bottom lip, tasting the faint tang of chlorine from the water droplets that had misted my face.

“Go on, Quinn. If you’ve got something to say about my sex life, I’m all ears.”

My face flushed hot. Words of apology were on the tip of my tongue. It wasn’t my place; it was none of my business.

Unless I made it my business.

Pulse speeding up, I turned toward him. “I’ve got nothing to say.”

“No? Because it seemed—”

I pushed forward in a rush, letting my mouth do the talking. Our lips pressed, clung. Jonas’s breath caught as I licked his bottom lip. Then, as if I’d hit fast-forward on a video, he was all in. His hand clamped around the back of my neck, pulling me hard against him as he deepened the kiss. My blood leapt with the thrill of lust and adrenaline as his tongue slid along mine, tasting and teasing. Jonas was a skilled kisser, advancing and retreating, giving me just enough to want more, then changing tactics to wind me up all over again.

The kiss went on forever. One kiss blended into the next. We sipped air as we repositioned our mouths, kissing one direction, then the other.

I was burning up in the steamy water, and yet I was shivering as cold winter air brushed over my neck and shoulders.

Jonas grabbed my hips, dragging me into his lap. I felt how hard he was, and ground down against him until he groaned satisfyingly against my mouth.

“Fuck, baby.”

“No.” I finally pulled back to look into his eyes. “I’m not baby, or honey, or any other thing you call your hookups. I’m Quinn.”

His voice was husky but soft as he responded. “Quinn.”

I shivered to hear my name in that sexy, velvet tone.

“You sure you want to do this with me?” he asked. “I know we’re not related by blood, but…”

Was I sure it was a good idea? No. But did I want it? Desperately.

“We’re not brothers.”


About the Author 

DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.


Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Facebook Group  |   Twitter: @dj_jamison_ 

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Review: Roman (Demon Rising #1) by Hurri Cosmo


I belong to a Demon Lord. His name is Roman. He’s tall, strong, has long dark hair, a deep sexy voice and, let me tell you, absolutely f-ing gorgeous. Yep. I even wear his ring. Third finger, left hand. 

Except – its’s not a wedding band. Far from it, actually. It simply means I’m his submissive. 

Well – it doesn’t really mean that either, although I wish it did. 

No. The ring’s function is only to give me “sight”. Being human, once I had it on, I could suddenly see Roman’s stupid lost legions; very nasty scary things that would as soon kill me as look at me. And because I wear the ring, guess what? It’s now my job to recapture all those creatures for him. Yay me, right? 

At least I get to be close to Roman… sometimes. 

But, to tell you the truth, I was tricked into putting this damn ring on by Cathy, some random woman I met at a park, who unfortunately likes Roman, too. A whole lot. She brazenly flirts with the demon every chance she gets and right in front of me, too. Crap, it pisses me off. In fact, she brags she was the one who found me, got the ring on me and then offered me up to Roman like I was a T-bone steak or something. 

Well – honestly – that part’s okay. 

However, there’s something else going on. Something big. Because there’s another gorgeous Demon Lord in our little earth realm and he will stop at nothing to capture Roman’s loose legions for himself. Not only that, seems he’s out to catch me, as well. 

Huh. My name is Micah and things just got very interesting. 

I’ve read quite a few books by this author and have had a fun time getting caught up in the worlds she creates. The Oletti Shiftters series is a goodie! So, I knew I was a fan of her, generally angst free tales, and the paranormal ones specifically. Roman sounded very intriguing, how do you make a demon a romantic hero? I need to know these things. 

Well, apparently a surefire way is to make the other MC less likable than a demon. The start of the book was strong and the paranormal aspect had a good level of creepy to get me hooked. Unfortunately, Micah, who should have been a sympathetic character, really wasn’t. I liked him until he interacted with other humans for the most part. The conversations didn’t flow and it felt like conclusions were jumped to on the regular. I felt like I must have missed integral portions to interactions that would have made some of the banter make more sense. 

The demon side of the world building was confusing and I’ll be the first to admit that I’m not the best at following along sometimes, especially when I’m wrapped up in characters, but since I really wasn’t this time around I ended up with a lot of unanswered questions. Why was Micah the chosen human? Why was the plant just around his house? The legions? I needed a better, more logical, fully fleshed out description of those things. I went through my notes on my Kindle and found I marked spots with just question marks after a while. I kind of just gave up and flowed with it all after a bit. 

I wanted to root for Micah and Roman and I do believe the two of them were really into each other. I don’t really know why, but there was a lot of good lust flying around. Most of the time I forgot Roman was supposed to be a demon and probably some of that came from my preconceptions of what a demon should be. I expected more evil to be honest, not mentions of cuddling. I think I would have been way more accepting of Roman if he would have been just about any other paranormal creature. He definitely didn’t come across as evil or a tormentor from the fiery depths of hell. A little darker than some characters, sure, but not demonic. Micah referenced debating whether Roman was “good” or “bad” on multiple occasions and even said “Why were they so fucking secretive and devious and...and…”. I couldn’t help but think, “ummmm, DEMON, soooo, definitely bad and also DEMON, sooo, duh! But yeah, anything but a demon would have worked much better for me for the way Roman was written. 

I could have done without Cathy completely. She was just a shell of a character and there to be the token woman bitch. Comments directed at her ended up being pretty sexist and unnecessary. I get she was the catalyst for a lot of the evil bits, but her presence cheapened said catalyst and detracted from Roman and Micah. I would have much rather read how the two of them truly connected rather than have her character muddy the waters. 

My very last note was at 94% and it was “the answer to everything is ‘because’”. I can only work with that so much myself and really only if the rest of the book is strong enough that I just don’t care. Unfortunately Roman wasn’t strong enough for me, so the unanswered questions stood out. The typos didn’t help either, I didn’t need another thing pulling me out of the story. 

Overall, Roman wasn’t a win for me. That doesn’t mean it won’t be for you or that I won’t be reading more from this author. One personal miss for me doesn’t make me forget how much I’ve enjoyed others books from this author and I look forward to reading more from her.

**a copy of this story was provided for an honest review**

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Cupcakes and Christmas by RJ Scott

Join author RJ Scott and Signal Boost Promotions in celebrating the holiday romance release, Cupcakes and Christmas! Learn more and enter in the backlist eBook giveaway!

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Length: 67,000 words approx.

The story of long nights in a wintry mountain hotel, a baking show with secrets, a snowman called Jeremy, and finding the greatest love of all.

After winning season four of ratings hit the World’s Best Baking Show, Brody Thomas had become a sought-after cake maker to the stars. Happily married, he dreamed of a bright future, but his perfect life imploded when he discovered that his husband had done nothing but lie to him. A year later, Brody is mid-divorce, and his life has been turned upside down, so being part of the WBBS charity event is excellent timing. He’s sure it will give him time away from home and space to get his head straight, only he never expected to meet the man of his dreams in a snowy Alberta.

Winning season one of WBBS gave Justin Mallory a chance to outrun the demons of a childhood lost in the foster system. He’s a social media influencer, with millions of followers, and works every hour to make money that equals security for the rest of his life. His marketing team signs him up for the WBBS Christmas charity show, but he’s convinced he’ll fall at the first hurdle. Only, after a few days in the competition, his worry isn’t that he’ll be the first to leave, it’s that he’ll lose his heart to a rival baker, Brody.

RJ Scott is a USA TODAY bestselling author of over 140 romance and suspense novels. From bodyguards to hockey stars, princes to millionaires, cowboys to military heroes to every-day heroes, she believes that love is love and every man deserves a happy ending.

Find RJ here: Amazon | BookBub | Facebook - Also, Never miss a release

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Eye of the Beholder by Thomas Grant Bruso

Author Thomas Grant Bruso and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of paranormal tale, Eye of the Beholder! Read more about the horror and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway! 


Title: Eye of the Beholder

Author: Thomas Grant Bruso

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 16, 2020

Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 41900

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, established couple, evil spirits, businessman, law enforcement, mental illness, horror

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In the middle of a psychic session with Madame Petri, David hears a ghostly voice calling his name. But he is not sure if it’s the elderly fortuneteller exaggerating the reading or bizarre grumblings coming from a mysterious old man in a painting hanging in the psychic’s foyer.

When Madame Petri disappears in a ball of flames, David rushes home, terrified. From that moment on, David and his policeman boyfriend, Zane, find themselves trying to solve the series of murders and mayhem that begin to haunt David.


Eye of the Beholder
Thomas Grant Bruso © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“What do you see?” I asked.

I was sitting across from Madame Petri at the oval-shaped table in the dimly lit backroom of her business, Spiritual Crossings.

The devil-white glow in the medium’s iron-gray eyes pierced through me. “A dead body,” she said. Her bloodred nails were sharp and pointy like talons and wrapped around the cloudy white edges of the crystal ball.

I bit back the sour taste of Cote Rotie from an art exhibit event I had hosted earlier in the evening. All I wanted was a reading of my future, I had told myself after closing the gallery and walking three blocks to Madame Petri’s Spiritual Crossings. Now, I turned to the neighborhood medium and shuddered, my gut clutching.

Some of my art friends had recommended her to me.

“You’ll like her,” one of them had said. “She’s colorful and full of spirit.”

“Go in with an open mind,” somebody else had told me.

Maybe I need new friends.

Clenching the border of the velvet-soft tablecloth, I leaned forward to see if I could glimpse what she had seen in her crystal ball.

There was a bright light in her gaze when she noticed me rising off my seat a few inches to get a better look at the dead body in the cloudy glass ball. But I was drawn back to my chair with a hand clutching my shoulder from behind and pushing me back into my seat.

Blackness swallowed the light in her eyes as if a switch had been turned off inside her, and her gaze fell back to the crystal ball, which was dimming like the low lights in the room.

A steely silence engulfed us.

Balls of sleet smacked against the front glass window in the outer foyer, and the soft sound of thunder rumbled around us. Lights flickered overhead, and a cold draft snuffed out some of the burning incense candles in the dark alcove behind me. A murmur of fear climbed the back of my throat, and I let out a mousy squeal.

When I looked up at Madame Petri’s waxy face, her expression froze.

I clenched my teeth, biting down hard on the cloying taste of cigarettes in my mouth.

Over Madame Petri’s shoulders, I noticed shadowy movements in the other room, and beyond the half-open velvet curtains, the drifting clouds of smoky incense danced like ghosts in the pallid light.

A pale, narrow face stared back at me from the inky blackness: decrepit, deathly white.

I shouted and rose from my chair, breaking the medium’s stern concentration.

Madame Petri stared up at me, her firm grip on the white glass ball unmoving. Her eyes were wide and frightened.

I sucked in short, tight breaths, glancing behind Madame Petri to the outer room, to the far wall where an abstract painting of a haunted face of an old man glared back at me.


I heard my name and froze. Looked around. Let out a deep, shaky breath.

Nothing there.

A trick of the light, that’s all it was, I thought. I adjusted my eyes to the dense grayness and took my seat across from Madame Petri.

“I’m sorry,” I said, wiping my clammy palms on my jeans. “I thought I saw something.”

“You saw it too,” Madame Petri said. The lights in the room dimmed and died and came back.

My mouth was cotton dry, and I shook my head, staring into the still deadness of the medium’s eighty-year-old eyes, thick and hazy with cataracts.

“Saw what?” I stared over her shoulder again at the dark slashes of color in the evocative painting hanging askew in the foyer. It looked like one of the paintings hanging on the walls of my art gallery.

“Death,” Madame Petri said, a crackle in her voice. She raised a jewel-encrusted finger and pointed at me. “Somebody is going to die.”

I rubbed my arms to ward off a chill and heard the harsh warnings of my partner in the corridors of my mind, ridiculing me for shelling out a day’s worth of work to talk to a psychic. How much did it cost you this time to have your future predicted by that phony would-be clairvoyant?

Then the sound of somebody whispering evoked a troubling memory of dead voices. Their small screams floated in the dark like distressed spirits.

“What was that?” I asked, clenching the arm of the chair.

Madame Petri looked around the room and then over at me, a web of wrinkles bracketing the edge of her small mouth. Her tangerine-orange lips stretched into a wide, clownish smile. “The spirits, dear. They’re coming.”

I rose to leave. As I pulled out two twenties from my wallet, Madame Petri reached across the table for my hand. Her fingers were dead cold, and I felt a tremor of electricity when she touched me. “Be careful,” she said, flipping over the Death card from the pile of her tarot cards and tapping it with a black, pointy fingernail. “He who opens the gate must shut it.”

I jerked my hand away and tucked my wallet back into my pants pocket.

The lights flickered again and went out.

Panicking, I stayed still in the dark, calling out for Madame Petri, and hearing movement ten feet from where I stood behind my chair.

“Madame Petri,” I said. “Are you there?”

The heightened smell of decay and burnt flesh and cigarettes aggravated my senses, and a spark of strong pain ignited in the back of my mind.


I heard movement at the other end of the room, somebody bumping into something, and a vase falling and crashing to the floor. Glass shattered.

When I called out Madame Petri’s name again, there was no answer.

I navigated in the dark to the foyer, staying close to the edge of the room and reaching out for the wall to help guide me to the front door.

At the opening to the velvet curtains, lights flashed and turned on in the adjoining rooms. My heart was pounding, my breath short and raspy.

I went to the rain-smattered front door and pushed it open, turning around once at the sound of a door creaking open behind me down the hall, its hinges squawking in protest. I called out Madame Petri’s name, but there was no response. I couldn’t see her anywhere in the semidark hallway through the hazy tendrils of smoke from the blown-out incense candles, but my gaze drifted to the far wall where the painting of the decrepit face of an old man was mounted.

“Madame Petri,” I called out. I reached into my back pocket for my half-smoked pack of Salem’s and my Bic lighter. Flicked it a few times, my hand shaking hard, my heart pounding.


A cold, wet rain blasted me on the back of the neck, and I shivered from the early evening chill.

I lit the end of my cigarette, barely managing to work the lighter, and inhaled a lungful of smoke before shoving the pack of smokes and the cigarette lighter back in my pants pocket.

Then quickly, as if a bolt of lightning flashed through my jumbled thoughts and illuminated my worst nightmares, I glimpsed the haunted painting again to make sure I wasn’t hallucinating. The man in the painting was gone, the canvas blank.

Animalistic, ghostly murmurings in throaty growls awakened down the hall.

I ran.


NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

Thomas Grant Bruso knew at an early age he wanted to be a writer. He has been a voracious reader of genre fiction since he was a kid.

His literary inspirations are Dean Koontz, Stephen King, Ellen Hart, Jim Grimsley, Karin Fossum, Sam J. Miller, Joyce Carol Oates, and John Connolly.

Bruso loves animals, book-reading, writing fiction, prefers Sudoku to crossword puzzles.

In another life, he was a freelance writer and wrote for magazines and newspapers. In college, he was a winner for the Hermon H. Doh Sonnet Competition. Now, he writes book reviews for his hometown newspaper, The Press Republican.

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Release Blitz: Starting Over by Rob Browatzke

Today, read more about second chance romance release blitz Starting Over, courtesy of author Rob Browatzke and Gay Book Promotions!


Book Title: Starting Over

Author: Rob Browatzke

 Publisher: Rob Browatzke

Cover Artist: AJ Corza

Release Date: November 15, 2020

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance 

Trope: Second chances

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 51 000 words/ 210 pages

It is a standalone story.



Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 


Life doesn’t often give a second chance. Take it when it comes.


Fourteen years ago, Dylan and Kent became something more than friends, but it didn’t end well. Now, they’ve run into each other again. This time, they’re both adults, they’re both out, and they both know what they want.

Will that long-ago teenage heartbreak stand in the way of what’s happening between them? Life doesn’t often give second chances, but maybe this is theirs, to start over.


Dylan wasn’t one of those guys who would normally stare off into space reflecting on the past. He liked living in the moment, mostly because he knew his past would trap him like a mosquito in amber if he spent too much time looking back.

But that was before he’d run into Kent Campbell the night before.

He’d known Kent lived in the same city, but Dylan had been here four years now without seeing him. He’d assumed Kent had moved. It was a big city, but not that big. And then, BAM! There he was.

He’d looked good. Damn good. Looking back, Dylan could see that Kent had always been good looking, even if it was something Dylan had never been able to admit. Small wonder Kent had bolted, considering everything that had happened.

It may be water under the bridge, he thought, but it’s water that’s still rising. “Dylan! Enough!”

Dylan blinked and came back to the moment, to Luc snapping his fingers in his face. “Sorry, mind wandered.”

Luc gave him some serious side-eye. “I was telling a story.”

“I live with you,” Dylan reminded. “I know all the stories.”

“That’s not important. Pay attention. You know I like an audience.” He paused. “And speaking

of having an audience...”

Dylan tuned out again as Luc told Ellis and Jay about last night’s sexcapade. It would normally

not be appropriate brunch conversation, but this was the Duchess, and the Sunday morning brunch crowd was almost entirely gays nursing the hangover with bottomless mimosas.

The mood in the room was celebratory for sure. The last months had felt like some endless Thursday afternoon, but the weekend had finally arrived. Everything was moving forward again. Everything, that is, except Dylan, who had barely been able to enjoy the Torch after Kent left. Dylan had ended up calling it an early night just to toss and turn alone in the dark.

He had to find him.

He should have followed him out, is what he should have done. But the boys were pretty insistent he stay and dance, and Kent had been crystal fucking clear that he wanted nothing to do with Dylan. And that made sense. Dylan couldn’t blame him, but he had to find him and tell him that things were different now.

All the things Dylan hadn’t been able to say before, he could say now.

“Dylan Thomas Hedderson, I am not telling you again. Snap the fuck out of it!”

Dylan turned his head to glare at Luc. “Did you just middle name me? You know I hate my

middle name.” His name was the last remnant of his mother’s one-time goal to be an English professor, long before she had traded that in to be Mrs. Richard Hedderson.

Thinking about his father was guaranteed to lead back to thinking about Kent, but it would also get him no closer to finding him. When Dylan had crawled into bed the night before, the first thing he’d done was punch Kent’s name into every social media app he could, with no luck. Disappointing but not unexpected. Most socials were increasingly toxic. Dylan’s own were locked down as tight as they could be, but just in case Kent was lying in his bed somewhere thinking about Dylan the way Dylan was thinking about him, Dylan loosened up those settings before trying to sleep.

He’d barely slept, and when he had, Kent had wandered through what passed for his dreams. When Luc banged on his door to say it was brunch time, he’d barely found the strength to get up.

“Why are you so quiet?” Ellis asked him.

He could lie. He could say he was just tired, which was pretty much not a lie anyway. He could make something up. He could...

“Dylan ran into a boy from his past last night,” Luc said, which pretty much eliminated any of Dylan’s other options.

“Do tell!” Jay said. “Did our golden boy finally get some?”

“He wishes,” Luc said.

“Did you want to tell them everything then?” Dylan asked. “I could just go home.” Luc opened

his mouth, but then clearly thought better and closed it again. Too late, as was typical with Luc, to be honest. It wasn’t that Dylan didn’t want Jay and Ellis to know; it wasn’t even that there was anything to know, really.

It was just whatever there was, it was sitting in this heavy mass in the center of Dylan’s chest. He wasn’t proud of what had happened between them. Actually, he was downright fucking ashamed, and all the guilt he had learned to ignore was now throbbing again.

“A friend from school,” he said, which was, strictly speaking, a lie. It bordered the truth anyway. “A high school sweetheart friend?” Ellis asked, playfully nudging him.

“It was complicated,” Dylan finally answered, in what had to be the understatement of the

fucking century.

“Ugh, those are the worst,” Jay groaned. “I remember our high school’s tight end. He had the

tightest end, let me tell you...”

Grateful to Jay’s interruption and distraction, Dylan let his mind wander again. Not through the

past, because there was nothing there but regret. No, he let it wander through the here and now, because he had made up his mind.

He was going to find Kent Campbell and get the closure they both had never got.

About the Author 

Rob Browatzke, 43, is a storyteller and club owner in Edmonton, Canada. 

This is his ninth published work, his second mm romance.

Audiobook Review: Bitten by Mistake (Regent's Park Pack #1) by Annabelle Jacobs

From animosity to searing passion in a lunar cycle… but can their bond survive?

Wolf shifter Nathan Kohl’s pack is his whole life. Arrogant and handsome, he avoids commitment to anything or anyone outside of his pack. He works hard, plays hard, and pursues humans as lovers because there’s little to no chance of him forming a permanent bond. However, when Jared Taylor comes into Nathan’s life, every rule is broken.

After a bad experience, Jared vowed to never get involved with another shifter, no matter how much they got under his skin. Despite being physically attracted to Nathan, who’s all kinds of hot, Jared only sees an arrogant, domineering bastard.

A disastrous case of mistaken identity throws Nathan and Jared together until the next full moon. Forced to spend the next twenty-eight days in close proximity, they can no longer ignore the powerful attraction between them. Passion ignites, and their relationship takes a turn neither of them wanted.

But when the full moon comes, everything might change again.

Narrator: Antony Ferguson
Listening Length:8 hours and 41 minutes

Reviewer: Shee Reader

Nathan spots Jared in a club and tries to chat him up, but Jared is not interested. His experience with a shifter really could have given rise to the expression ‘once bitten, twice shy’ and he gives the sexy wolf the slip and gets out of there. On the street though, things get complicated. Jared finds himself caught up in someone else’s drama that leads to him being jumped in an alley and bitten, hard. When he falls to the dirty floor covered by Nathan from the club, Jared is furious (and bleeding). From here, things just get steadily more and more complicated as Nathan somehow convinces Jared to come home with him to his pack house, masking the scent of human with both ejaculate and urine. Such a delightful end to the evening.

Now all they need to do is avoid the authorities or the pack finding out about the bite as Nathan would surely be killed, until the next full moon when the hapless men will find out if ‘the change’ has taken, or if Jared will return to being fully human.

To add to all this drama, the guys conclude the best way to keep Jared safe is to pretend to be dating, hide the bite mark and avoid falling into bed together. Or indeed fall in love!

This story is one rush after another culminating in a dramatic ending and surprising HEA that just about makes up for all the stress and excitement as we see the wolf pack fight a deadly threat, and avoid triggering Jared’s friends to call the authorities when he starts acting even more crazy than usual. It is a real roller coaster that has funny moments and smartly written dialogue and character driven relationships.

One of my favourite scenes was a ‘pretend’ kiss leaving on the side of Nathan’s van, to fool other shifters that they were a hot and heavy couple that left both men feeling all out of sorts and hard as a rock!

The story was written in a style that was unashamedly English in tone and language (set in London) and had a super English narrator. As a Brit myself, it is a rare treat to read a book that hasn’t been ‘smoothed out’ or had language changed for the international market. This book had sofas and flats and vans etc with not a couch, apartment or truck to be seen! The narration was clean and classy.


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

Cover Reveal: The Valet by Mel Gough


Historical romance fans, check out today's cover reveal for The Valet from author Mel Gough and Gay Book Promotions!


Book Title: The Valet

Author: Mel Gough

Cover Artist: Black Jazz Design

Release Date: December 1, 2020

Genre/s: Historical M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forbidden love

Themes: Restoring trust

Heat Rating:  3 flames



When love does not dare speak its name, trusting is the hardest thing to learn.


England, 1910 – Ted has a good situation as first footman at Montague Hall, the splendid Gloucestershire manor of the 6th Earl of Carran. But he has just made a mistake so serious it could cost him his position, and even land him in prison if the authorities found out.

As valet to the 9th Duke of Argyll, Richard’s London life is glamorous. But when he has his heart broken, he longs to get as far away from the city as possible. The pace at Montague Hall might be sedate, but its tranquillity is like a salve to his shattered soul. And unforeseen diversions are to be found even here. Like handsome, despondent first footmen.

The last thing Ted needs is a new temptation. But his Lordship’s new valet isn’t just gorgeous. Richard is also brave and kind – and he wants to make Ted happy, something Ted never dreamt would come to pass.

Trusting again is hard, and in a world that reviles their love happiness is hard-won. Can they hope to carve out a contented life against all odds?


Dorcas was just coming through the baize door, carrying a tray stacked high with serving bowls. Ted hurried to hold the door for her.

“Thank you.” She gave him a smile and quickly but gently deposited her load on a sideboard.

Ted was fond of the head housemaid. They got on well, and unlike many of the other servants, Ted trusted her. Dorcas was plain-spoken and a hard worker, and she didn’t tolerate the mean kind of teasing that some of the younger servants engaged in with impunity.

He went to open one of the tall cabinets where a couple of shelves were bare. “Here, I’ll do it.” He started stacking the bowls on the shelves, which were too high for Dorcas to reach without a footstool.

“Thank you.” Dorcas rubbed her arms. “Golly, those were heavy. Good thing Mrs Stokes didn’t see me. That would’ve been quite the hiding.”

“She would’ve had good reason.” Ted hefted the bowls. “Imagine if you had tripped with these!”

“Yes, but the stairs are steep and narrow, and it’s bad enough coming up once with that huge tray.” She watched as Ted opened a different cupboard and started counting bread plates. “Aren’t you done yet? You’ve been up here an age!”

Ted made a face. “You know what Mr Wymer is like. He won’t stand for a single spoon out of alignment. And Jimmy’s managed to wriggle out from under him, so I’m doing the dogsbody work.”

Dorcas clicked her tongue impatiently. “You have to stop letting him walk all over you, Ted.” She stood with her hands pressed into her sides, shaking her head. “Who’s the first footman, hmm? You or him?”

Ted kept his eyes on the plates. He might have confided many things in Dorcas, but the reason why he didn’t dare vex Jimmy was too shameful to share even with her. “You’re right, of course. But…you know what he’s like.”

“Oh Ted.” Dorcas sighed. “What are we to do with you?” She turned back towards the door to the back stairs, but then wheeled back around. “I nearly forgot! You were up here, and you wouldn’t have heard yet.” With a glance at the door to the dining room, which was half-open, she lowered her voice. “You won’t believe what happened. Mr Brown has handed in his notice. He just told us.”

Ted stared at her. “What do you mean?” He nodded towards the dining room. “But Mr Wymer didn’t say anything. He must be aware.”

“You know what Mr Wymer is like. Discreet to a fault.” Dorcas put on a serious face and lowered her voice. “An upstanding servant does not gossip, Theodore.”

Despite himself, Ted grinned. The imitation was spot on. Then he remembered the news and grew sombre again. “So Mr Brown’s gone.” After Dorcas, the Earl’s valet was Ted’s second favourite amongst the servants. They weren’t bosom friends – clearly, or Mr Brown would’ve confided his plans in him – but Ted valued the man’s support against Jimmy and Mrs Dankworth, who was the Countess’s lady’s maid and who liked to team up with Jimmy to make Ted’s life hell. Losing the valet would bring change to the balance downstairs, and that would not bode well for Ted. An unease settled in his gut.

Dorcas seemed not to notice. “He’s not gone yet, but he will be by the end of the week. The Earl agreed to let him go on short notice. You know he’s courting the daughter of that Cheltenham pub. Her father died a few days ago, and they need to move quickly so that the pub can stay open.”

“Mr Brown is going to be a pub landlord.” Ted was bemused by the idea. “You’d think that being valet for an Earl would beat that life any day.” He couldn’t imagine leaving service. The work at Montague Hall wasn’t exactly a walk in the park, but the house was comfortable and the Peytons were fair employers. After what he’d left behind at home in Yorkshire, this house was paradise. But then he remembered the impossible situation he’d gotten himself into with Jimmy. Maybe starting over new somewhere wouldn’t be so bad.

Dorcas shrugged. “I guess love trumps all in the end.”

Ted didn’t know what to say to that. He knew that people like Dorcas believed this, but he also knew that for people like him, this was not likely to ever happen. He picked up the stack of plates. “I better take these through, before Mr Wymer sends out a search party.”

“Right you are.” Dorcas gave him a smile and a wave, and vanished through the baize door.

About the Author 

Mel Gough loves writing about love – but with a twist. Nominated for the 2019 Selfies Awards, her bisexual romantic suspense novel He is Mine is a typical Mel Gough story. She needs her HEA fix, but on the way there will be thorns and fire, and sometimes brimstone. All right, that might be over the top, especially since her stories are firmly based in the real world - though not always in the here and now.

Born in Germany, exploring other realities has been Mel’s siren call since she was young. Books opened up a plethora of worlds, and soon gave her a strong love of the English language. After an MA in Anthropology, field work in the middle of nowhere seemed like one adventure too far, so Mel settled in London, which, to misquote Dr. Johnson, she will never tire of.

Mel loves to bend genres – her romances are gritty and dark, and sometimes there’s a dead body. She’s been told that her prose is beautiful yet disturbingly real. She’s curious about bygone times, and hopes to speculate about the future in one of her next books.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Love in the Shadows by Maggie Doolan

Join author Maggie Doolan and IndiGo Marketing as they host today's release blitz for Love in the Shadows! Learn more about the romance set in the 70's and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway! 

Title: Love in the Shadows

Author: Maggie Doolin

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: November 16, 2020

Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 49400

Genre: Historical (20th century), LGBTQIA+, UST, coming out, Ireland, slow burn, Student, teacher, historical, 1970s

Add to Goodreads


Meg Mitchell is about to enter her final year of secondary school in the small close-knit village of Curramore in rural Ireland. But even at eighteen, she has never had the joyful experience of first love with any of the boys she has met or gone out with. However, that’s about to change with the arrival of dynamic young English teacher, Harriet Smith. Under the charismatic Harriet, Meg blossoms and discovers that she has a real talent for English. She also finds herself inexplicably drawn to Harriet. Over time, Meg’s feelings deepen, but this is 1970s Ireland where homosexuality is still a crime, where sex of any description is never discussed, and where an all–powerful harsh and repressive Catholic Church holds sway over every aspect of family life. In this climate, Meg will face many challenges, from her family, her community, and her own desires. She will have to choose a path forward despite difficulties that, at times, seem insurmountable.


Love in the Shadows Maggie Doolin © 2020 All Rights Reserved August 1975. County Limerick, Ireland. The August evening is gloriously mellow and warm with insects flitting among the bushes in the garden, and Sheridan’s Hill across the way is covered in a golden haze. “This is the kind of day,” Meg mused, “that signals the end of the summer holidays. A day this perfect has to be an omen of some misfortune.” “Wow, how philosophical,” Aisling said, rolling her eyes. She lay sprawled under the old horse chestnut, taking advantage of its dappled shade. “But I know what you mean. Think, this day next week—an end to freedom. Instead, we’ll have the jangling of bells, boring old classes, and teachers constantly talking about the Leaving. Blah, blah, blah.” She let out a long groan, the palm of her hand against her forehead. Meg grimaced. “Yeah, and Boyce threatening us at least once in each class with being thrown into Ordinary level maths.” They both fell silent, lost in their own worries. Meg, at eighteen, older than Aisling by a mere two months, frowned. At five foot four, she wished she would grow another few inches. She had brown hair with a natural wave, a narrow face that lit up with mischief, and mesmerising green eyes, or so she’d been told. She and Aisling had met on the first day of primary school, and they’d been friends ever since. Standing at least five foot eight tall, Aisling had shoulder-length blonde hair and never found herself at a loss for a word. Her father had died when she was only a baby, and she’d grown up with her older brother and mother under a mile from where Meg lived with her parents and brother on the far side of the small village of Tullybawn. They were constantly in and out of each other’s houses, and both mothers joked they had each acquired a second daughter. Aisling was outgoing and interested in doing while Meg, though popular and quick-witted, loved reading, and was, as her exasperated mother reminded her frequently, “A bit of a dreamer.” “This year is going to be pretty grim, I fear.” Aisling frowned. “I’m terrified of biology, and I badly need that honour to get into nursing.” “Yeah, I know how you feel,” Meg replied, blowing out through puffed cheeks as she shook her head. “I’m depending on the council grant for college, so I need four honours. Irish is grand, and I’m fine with geography and history, but English is a real challenge. I don’t understand what those poets are babbling on about. And as for Shakespeare, oh my God! At least Boyce can teach, but Clancy is a total disaster.” They fell silent again. Meg glanced around the garden, her gaze caught by the swing hanging from the old beech. The wood faded now with age, and she visualised her father, sleeves rolled up and tongue slightly protruding, as he fixed the timber seat in place before climbing up the ladder to hang it from the tree. She and her brother, Luke, had danced around with excitement, driving her father mad with their impatience to try it out. She recalled the heady sensation of whizzing through the air. She had imagined taking off and soaring skywards like a bird. “Higher! Higher!” she’d shouted at her father as Luke pulled at his trouser leg, impatient for his turn. She loved their large garden with its trees, and the river at the bottom where her mother showed them how to catch minnows in jam jars, as excited as they were. Barefoot, they’d burrow one foot under the bank to flush out the tiny, darting fish. Her face softened, worries about the Leaving temporarily forgotten as she basked in the warm glow of the past. A bike whizzing past the house and a hello thrown over the hedge recalled her to the present. She scrunched her face at Aisling, and they both giggled. “C’mon,” Aisling cried, jumping up and striking a dramatic pose. “Things might be a whole lot worse. We might have lived during the time of arranged marriages, and at this moment, be contemplating your wedding to Mr Timmy Cronin, known to one and all, friend and foe alike, as Timmy Bucket Arse. Imagine, that would give you the unenviable title of Mrs Timmy Bucket Arse, honeymooning on a bicycle made for two…” The last few words were sung theatrically before they both dissolved into fits of giggles again. For the moment, the Leaving Cert and honours and grants were swept from their minds. Time enough to worry about all that when they returned to school next week.


NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

Maggie Doolin lives in County Cork, Ireland. She was born in the late 1950s into an Ireland that was dark, harsh and repressive. She has two adult children and works as a secondary teacher to keep her pet miniature Yorkie Terrier in the style to which she has become accustomed. Maggie is also a successful playwright and with a fellow playwright has a small theatre company that stages plays bi-annually. Love in the Shadows is her debut novel.

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