Release Blitz + Giveaway: Limits and Stakes (Suite of Harte’s #3) by Jacqueline Grey

Author Jacqueline Grey and IndiGo Marketing host today's release blitz for Limits and Stakes (Suite of Harte’s #3)! Read more and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway! 

Title: Limits and Stakes

Series: Suit of Harte's, Book Three

Author: Jacqueline Grey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/21/2020

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 32500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, BDSM, Gay, Erotic Romance, Contemporary, Exhibitionism, Bondage, Sensation Play, Professor/Student

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Professor Danny Stone doesn’t date students. Though the university does not forbid such relationships, he’d rather be safe than sorry, but with his sparkling blue eyes and silky blond hair, Christopher Owen is a temptation begging him to break the rules. He already bent them when he kissed Chris over winter break.

Spring break will be different. Danny’s plan is to spend the week at a BDSM club a few towns over. Playing with a sub or two who have no connection to his university will do him a world of good, and he can put Chris out of his mind.

But when the first sub that catches his eye turns out to be Christopher, Danny’s willpower is put to the ultimate test. Chris is brand new to the scene and feels safest with Danny. Will Danny be able to introduce him to the wonders of BDSM without crossing too many lines? Or will fate pull them together and show them sometimes rules are destined to be broken?


Limits and Stakes
Jacqueline Grey © 2020
All Rights Reserved

It was spring break, and Daniel Stone was enjoying a full week of student-free days. Dressed head-to-toe in tight black leather and itching to play, Daniel entered the Lock & Key. The club wasn’t as big as the one he’d been a member of before moving to Georgia, and membership wasn’t as exclusive, but it was well-recommended, and the staff kept an eye out for the patrons. Most of the members seemed to be well-versed in the lifestyle as well, enough to give him the confidence that, if he were to play with someone, they would at least know what they were doing or say something if they didn’t.

The club was a sufficient distance from where he worked, so he didn’t have to worry about being spotted as a familiar face outside of the scene. A BDSM club in a college town was not where a professor wanted to be found, no matter how liberal the residents claimed to be. A five-hour drive and the expense of a hotel room for the week was a worthy price for freedom.

He ordered a bottle of water and scanned the crowd for potential company. A small group of men caught his eye. Two of the three he disregarded immediately, but the third, a lean blond in the skimpiest pair of leather shorts he’d ever seen, held his attention. He was unable to tear his gaze from all that pale skin or the way the leather hugged his perfectly round bottom.

The boy was obviously new to the scene. There was uncertainty in his movements, but he was doing his best to keep up the conversation. Daniel had full confidence the young man would succeed. Anyone brave enough to go out in public in shorts like those could hold a simple conversation.

When the group moved toward the bar, Daniel finally saw the young man’s face. He froze in surprise. Of the students crowding Georgia State University campus, he now faced the one he’d wanted to avoid the most, the one he wanted to forget. Against his better judgment, he intercepted the group.

“Chris,” he said.

Chris Owen looked up at him, startled. His eyes widened in recognition, and his mouth fell open.

“Pr—” He stopped himself just in time. “Mr. Stone.”

Relief flooded through Daniel. He preferred to keep his daily life separate from the club and was glad it would remain that way.

“You know this kid?” asked one of the men. He stood too close to Chris for Daniel’s liking.

“Yes.” Daniel resisted the impulse to claim anything more. He had no right to claim anything, but his instincts wouldn’t let him back down completely. “My apologies for the interruption. I wasn’t aware Chris planned to be here today.”

The stranger scrutinized the young man, paying particular attention to his neck. “He’s not marked.”

“I’m instructing him,” Daniel said. Well, he had been. For half a semester, he’d tutored Chris in advanced calc, but that had changed after winter break. Either way, the details didn’t apply here. He clutched at straws with half-truths, but he couldn’t help himself. He wanted to know why Chris was there and what he had in mind. He wanted to keep the boy safe.

He wanted to keep him.

No. He’s a student. You promised him two months ago nothing would happen between the two of you, and now you’re trying to put a collar on him? Get a grip, Stone!

“Of course, he’s free to choose who he goes with,” Daniel added, attempting to pull himself out of the hole he’d been digging.

The other man looked at Chris expectantly. Chris flickered his eyes back and forth between them, seemingly lost on how to answer. Daniel put a hand on his shoulder.

“You can continue to the bar as you were, or you can take a tour of the club with me. Which do you want to do? There is no wrong choice.”

“I…” Chris’s gaze locked on Daniel’s. “I…” He swallowed. “I want to go with you.”

There was a tsk from behind Chris, but Daniel ignored it. He also did his best to ignore the sense of triumph running through him.

“Follow me,” he said and headed toward the bar.

“I thought we were going for a tour.”

“One step at a time, boy.” Daniel ordered another water, then scanned the room for somewhere to sit. When the bartender put the drink on the counter, Daniel left it for Chris to pick up and led the way toward the table he’d found. He was glad to hear the crinkle of plastic as Chris followed. The seating he’d chosen had a semblance of privacy. Daniel took the chair against the wall and gestured for Chris to take the other.

“Now, I take it this is what you meant about trying new things over spring break?” he asked.

The boy flushed red. “I… Yes. I’ve always wanted to come here and finally worked up the courage to do it.”

“You did more than that.” Daniel dropped a pointed glance in the direction of Chris’s shorts.

The color in Chris’s face deepened. “You’re not gonna tell anyone, are you?”

“I believe a person’s private life is their own business.”


Daniel took a sip of his water. After a moment, Chris did the same. Daniel caught himself staring when Chris licked his lips. He’d kissed that mouth.

The small details of that moment were forever embedded in his mind. One evening during winter break, they’d come across each other outside the math building on campus. He couldn’t recall why they’d lingered. All he remembered was huddling in his coat against the winter chill and then not caring about the weather as he became entranced by the puffs of air dancing between them as they spoke, the rosy color on Chris’s cheeks, and the sparkle in his clear blue eyes. There had been silence all around them when the conversation had hit a lull and a pull, an irresistible urge that had driven him to kiss a student. Granted, Chris was a grad student and not in any of Daniel’s classes, but Daniel had been his tutor at the time. Even if he hadn’t, Chris was still a student at the college where Daniel worked, and that wasn’t something Daniel was comfortable with. Recklessness led to trouble, and so he’d pulled away. Yet here was that face again, looking at him so openly as if the kiss had never happened and Daniel hadn’t ruined an innocent student-teacher relationship.

He mentally shook himself from his reverie. “Did you have anything in mind when you came here tonight, or was getting through the door the main goal?”

Chris’s blush deepened. “That seemed to be a big enough goal to start with.”

“Now that you’ve accomplished it, what do you plan to do next?”


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Grey currently lives on an island on the east coast of the United States. She spends her time outside her day job juggling her many interests which include reading, writing and drinking tea. She loves M/M romance, usually focusing on stories that include BDSM themes to one degree or another. 

Jacqueline has always been driven by characters. She loves a good plot, but it’s the characters that pull her into a story. She loves romance and believes everyone has a right to be happy. She enjoys seeing her characters find that happiness for themselves.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Pinterest


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Review: A Bridge to Love by Lee Colgin

Everyone knows a proper troll must never leave his post. Arlo is thrilled to have his own bridge to guard, though it’s a lonely job. A troll should enjoy being alone, but Arlo has never been very good at being a troll. He longs for companionship, but guards that secret like he guards his bridge.

Toby, a cheerful wolf shifter, serves as a messenger between villages. When his route is suddenly blocked by a fearsome troll, he must charm his way across the bridge. Little does he know, he’s charming his way into Arlo’s heart as well. But Toby has his own secrets he dare not reveal.

As the season’s fly by and the holidays approach, their friendship blooms and begins to flourish into something more. But can Toby risk his heart for a troll bound so tight to duty? Will Arlo leave his bridge for love?

Admittedly, the thought of a troll and a wolf shifter caught my eye, and I was pleasantly surprised by this sweet holiday story.

Yes, Arlo is a troll. Convention tells him he must stand guard and diligently take care of his newly designated bridge, never to leave it until he’s ready to start his own family. He’s an assumed solitary sort, and despite his love of bantering for tributes, deep down Arlo is lonely.

When wolf shifter Toby, traverses Arlo’s bridge, a friendly connection is created. Toby’s a runner between his family’s packs, and he soon finds himself meeting up with Arlo on the regular. This is a slow burn and over months, Toby and Arlo form a friendship that becomes more and more meaningful with each encounter.

However, each is held back by not wanting to ruin the friendship but each also yearns for so much more. How can two very different beings, with two very different life goals and expectations, ever find a middle ground?

Look, this breaks no extraordinary literary barriers. However, it’s different because who has ever read a troll as a main protagonist? Not I! Arlo is quite the gentle giant. He’s uncomplicated, guileless, and earnest in his desire to be loved and accepted. Toby, in turn, is friendly and full of generosity and thoughtfulness and is ready to work with Arlo to get their happy ending just in time for Christmas!

Overall, if you want a slight fantasy/supernatural twist with a seriously sweet (albeit seriously simple) love story, then this will satisfy! Cheers!

Blog Tour + Giveaway: In the Winter Woods by Isabelle Adler

Merry Christmas to all that celebrate it! 

Welcome author Isabelle Adler and IndiGo Marketing to the blog and they visit on the In the Winter Woods blog tour! The author not only visits and shares more information about the Christmas "cozy-ish" mystery and host a $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: In the Winter Woods

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 14, 2020

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 61800

Genre: Contemporary Holiday, LGBTQIA+, contemporary, romance, gay, bi, seasonal/holiday, Christmas, Vermont, writer, law enforcement, crime, crime procedure, mystery, small town, maple syrup

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Declan Kensington isn’t really in the mood for Christmas. His latest mystery book sales are tanking, his finances are in a dismal state, and his spirits are anything but festive. Perhaps spending the holidays alone at his family lakeside cabin in the small village of Maplewood, Vermont, will provide him much-needed peace and quiet. Then he might finally get to work on a new book and (hopefully) jumpstart his stalling writing career.

When he starts receiving anonymous letters threatening him to leave, Declan realizes his solitary writer’s retreat isn’t at all what he bargained for. And if the threats aren’t enough, a killer strikes, casting Declan in the role of the most likely suspect. Now it’s up to him and the handsome local Public Safety Commissioner Curtis Monroe to find out the truth before Declan spends Christmas (and the rest of his life) in jail. But as dead bodies pile up and dark secrets are revealed beneath Maplewood’s picture-perfect facade, Declan’s heart may yet be in more danger than his life…

Author Visit 

Hi, I’m Isabelle! My newest release, In the Winter Woods, is a Christmas-themed, cozy-ish mystery that centers an M/M romance between Declan Kensington, a gay mystery author who struggles to get on track with his writing, and Curtis Monroe, a local Public Safety Commissioner, who investigates the murder of Declan’s closest neighbor. The story takes place in a charming lakeside village of Maplewood, Vermont, a week before Christmas, with a murder investigation adding an unexpected twist to a sweet holiday romance.

I write LGBTQ romance in a variety of genres (including sci-fi, paranormal, fantasy, and contemporary), but this book is my first foray into mystery. When I began writing it, I was incredibly excited about the concept, but I also approached this undertaking with a great deal of trepidation. A successful, gripping mystery narrative calls for a special kind of balance which is notoriously hard to achieve. On the one hand, the plot and its resolution should be plausible and believable, with clues peppered throughout as to give the reader the opportunity to play detective and attempt to solve the mystery before the sleuth character does; and on the other hand, the solution can’t be too obvious, or the reader will become bored with the whole thing. And the task becomes even more difficult when you throw romance into the mix and hope the readers will find the characters endearing enough to care for their potential Happy Ever After.

With all of this in mind, it’s not surprising that I was nervous about whether or not I could pull it off, but I was so enamored with the idea that I decided to take the plunge and see where it would take me. I chose to write a cozy mystery in order to take advantage of its conventions regarding setting – a small town, a limited set of characters, a quirky vibe – to better fit the holiday theme. I love reading and watching those sweet small-town Christmas romances (all the bonus points if they are queer!), so I thought it would be interesting to add murder to the tried-and-true formula.

Usually, I start writing a new book off a very limited outline, sometimes even just a general idea and an opening scene. In this case, however, this approach would simply not do, so I took the time to prepare a detailed plan, going chapter-by-chapter and scene-by-scene, making sure I hit all the basic beats for romance and the mystery plot. I also made a list of all the characters, noting their motivation and relationships with each other. I believe this approach had helped a lot with having everything in order and keeping track of the pacing, the clues, and the obligatory “red herrings”. Naturally, the plane changed here and there as the work progressed and it became apparent where and why some alterations were needed, but the backbone of the story remained the same. In fact, this technique proved so efficient, that I’m looking forward to implementing it in my future projects.

I’m very glad that I took the chance to explore a new genre, despite the challenges it presented, and I hope that my readers will like the result!

Where can readers find out more about you and your books?

I have a website where I post all the information about my books and upcoming releases, as well as some extra content for my readers. I’m also pretty active on Twitter, talking about books and posting snippets of my works in progress, so if you ever want to chat, follow me there!

Twitter: @Isabelle_Adler


In the Winter Woods
Isabelle Adler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

At first glance, there was nothing sinister about the lakeside village of Maplewood, Vermont.

In fact, there wasn’t much of anything in the village. I had passed the post office, the fire station, the town hall, and a big billboard announcing the construction of some sort of theme park, all situated along the half-mile stretch of Main Street before parking my car in front of the convenience store. It abutted the first gas station I’d seen in the last few hours. The faded sign at the front was fitted with twinkling lights and plastic green holly garlands that had seen better days. Despite the general shabbiness, there was something charming and distinctly Christmas-y about it, like looking at a vintage postcard.

I got out and tightened my parka around me. Snow crunched under my sneakers, which were hardly suitable for the weather. I’d forgotten just how cold the winters here in Vermont could be, and now I was paying the price for neglecting to properly equip myself for the long trip from Manhattan’s Upper West Side all the way to Lake Champlain.

Granted, it had been a spur-of-the-moment decision. Not the part about leaving New York City, but coming here to Maplewood. I didn’t remember much of the town, having last been here with my family when I was thirteen or fourteen, but I doubted it’d changed much in the last twenty years.

The doorbell chimed as I entered the store. It seemed to be empty aside from a gray-haired elderly lady behind the counter, who looked up and offered me a distracted smile before turning back to a talk show on a small TV set tucked beside the register.

I blew on my hands and rubbed them together, then picked up a basket and started off down the aisle toward the refrigerators in the back. I suspected I would have to stock up on everything before going up to the cabin. It hadn’t been used for something like five years, since the last vacation my sister Jenny and her husband had taken there after being married, when the cabin still belonged to our parents. Everything still lurking in the depths of the pantry would have to be thrown out anyway.

Between grocery shopping and another full tank of gas, this retreat was turning out more expensive than I initially imagined. And it was a retreat, I told myself firmly, a writer’s retreat of one. Jenny would say I was running away from my problems, but it was the opposite, really. I’d come here to tackle them head-on.

I wanted to do battle with my lingering writer’s block somewhere where I wouldn’t have to stretch my dwindling income to cover rent for a Manhattan apartment. It’d come down to either living in the center of the known universe or, well, eating. And whoever had come up with the idea an artist had to starve to produce great art was clearly full of it.

The first thing that caught my eye was a display rack of Champ the Champlain Lake Monster merchandise. Much like the Loch Ness monster in Scotland, “Champ” was a popular piece of local folklore and somewhat of a draw for holidaymakers all around the lake. A cardboard cutout of Champ wearing a Santa hat invited the customers to peruse the display. I glanced at the selection of postcards and printed T-shirts and moved into the food isles.

I picked some sensible items—dried pasta, canned tomato sauce, eggs, bread, and some packaged vegetables. Then (because I wasn’t living in complete denial) I added instant coffee and a box of sugary donuts.

The doorbell rang again as I was contemplating adding cocoa to the selection. I glanced briefly above the shelves and saw a tall man in a dark blue uniform step inside. He wore one of those heavy-duty puffer jackets and a hat.

I hadn’t heard another car or a bike pull up, so I assumed he’d walked here. His cheeks were red, his pale skin flushed with the bracing cold of midday winter air. Maybe he was one of those people who found regular outdoor exercise invigorating. I shuddered.

The uniform clearly marked him as some sort of law enforcement officer. He was also handsome in that macho, all-American-good-looks kind of way I found inexplicably irritating. The blue eyes and chiseled jaw reminded me of the D-list actors who drifted from one episodic role in a network show to another for the length of their careers, relying on their appearance rather than talent to get them through.

The officer’s gaze swept over the store and lingered on me for a split second before he turned to greet the shopkeeper. I tuned out their chatter as I tried to figure out what else I needed for the next week or so. The cabin wasn’t that far away, but I preferred to avoid making frequent trips to the village if I could help it.

Having finally concluded my shopping, I took my basket over to the counter, which was decorated with green and silver tinsel. Both the newcomer and the elderly lady fell silent at my approach.

“Hi,” I said awkwardly.

The shopkeeper put on the spectacles that hung on a dainty beaded chain around her neck and began scanning my items. She looked for all the world like a prim schoolmistress in her pale-pink sweater and upswept hairdo, her gray hair almost white against her deep brown skin. However, the look she gave me above the glasses now perched on the tip of her nose was friendly enough.

“Renting a cottage or just passing through?” she inquired.

The officer turned to examine a rack of magazines near the window, but for some reason I got the distinct impression he was listening in.

“Renting. That is, I’m staying in one of the cabins, up near the lake. It’s my family’s, actually. The Kensingtons?”

“Oh, yes!” Her face lit up. “I remember. Such a lovely family; came here nigh every year in the summertime. But not anymore.”

This wasn’t phrased as a question, precisely, but her voice rose expectantly at the last bit.

“My parents died last year.” Saying it still hurt, but I’d made my peace with it enough by now to be casual about it. “The cabin passed down to me. Well, to my sister Jenny and me, but I don’t think she has much interest in coming to Vermont anymore.” Neither did I, for that matter, but I wasn’t about to say so in front of the locals. “My name is Declan Kensington.”

The old lady raised her head, her eyes going wide behind the thin golden rims.

“The Declan Kensington? The mystery writer?”

“One and the same,” I said.

The man finally picked a newspaper and moved to stand behind me. He was definitely paying attention to our conversation, though why it would interest him, I had no notion. He didn’t seem in any hurry to leave, in any case.

“My goodness!” the shopkeeper gasped. “You know, I’ve never made the connection with the Kensington family. I’m a huge fan of your work.”


“Oh, yes, Mr Kensington, am I ever!”

I was somewhat surprised that an old-fashioned-looking small-town shopkeeper would be reading crime thrillers that featured an openly gay protagonist, but perhaps I was being unnecessarily judgmental. Times were changing, after all—at least according to my Twitter feed.

She continued, oblivious to my incredulity.

“I’m Janice. Janice Bentley. I have all your books! Well, most of them,” she added almost apologetically.

I knew what she meant, of course. Even the most die-hard fans of my Owen Graves mystery thriller series had been loudly critical of the last books I’d produced, and the rest voted with their wallets. Which was why I was here, in Maplewood, in an attempt to cut down on my living expenses by taking up in an old family cabin while I worked on my next masterpiece.

And boy, did I need a masterpiece.

“Strange timing for a lakeside weekend getaway,” the man said. We both turned to look at him, and he shrugged. “It’s freezing.”

As if the fact wasn’t self-evident.

“I’m not here on a vacation,” I said icily. “I’m here to work.”

Not that it was any of their business, of course, but it struck me that saying it out loud was a commitment of sorts, as if their expectations would somehow keep me accountable. It was a bit pathetic, really, that I had to resort to such excuses to trick myself into writing, but I had to face the truth. I was fumbling my way through the worst writing block of my career, and I had to take all the incentives I could claw out. If I didn’t force the words out somehow, and soon, I might as well throw in the towel and become a junior analyst in my mother’s (and now my sister’s) financial advisory firm, waiting for a nice zombie apocalypse to put me out of my misery.

“Your light is broken,” the man said.


He nodded toward the parking lot.

“The Honda Accord. It’s yours, right? I saw one of the taillights was busted when I walked by. You should get it fixed.”

“I’ll take care of it, officer,” I said, still reeling from the unpleasant way his words echoed my grim musings. “Unless you’d rather slap me with a fine.”

I don’t know why I was being snappish, really. The officer wasn’t being belligerent, but something in his careless standoffishness irked me. That, and I was already in a foul mood; not much was needed to set me on edge.

He didn’t exactly roll his eyes at my challenge, but I got the distinct impression he did so in his mind.

“The roads here can be dangerous in winter if you’re unfamiliar with them, especially at night,” he said with a hint of reproach. “If someone is driving behind you, you might be putting them at risk. Better be safe than sorry.”

I felt instantly bad. The man gave me no reason to be rude. And besides, my behavior smacked of the kind of privileged white-male arrogance I was doing my best to check myself on.

Clearly, I wasn’t doing a very good job.

“Sorry,” I said, hoping I sounded sincere this time. “I’ll have it fixed.”

The officer nodded and pushed a couple of dollar bills across the counter to pay for his newspaper, which turned out to be The St. Albans Messenger.

“Have a nice stay, Mr. Kensington,” he said and headed out. I saw him throw another glance at my Honda before walking off down the road, the newspaper tucked under his armpit.

“That’s Curtis Monroe, our public safety commissioner,” Janice said, dropping her voice conspiratorially, even though he couldn’t possibly hear her. “He’s a sweetheart, really.”

From our very brief acquaintance, “sweetheart” wouldn’t be the word I’d associate with Commissioner Monroe, but the last thing I wanted right now was to argue the point with Janice.

“Commissioner? So you have a large public safety department here at Maplewood?” I asked, looking longingly at the till. The light was beginning to fail ever so slightly, and I was itching to be off.

Janice laughed as if I were being purposefully funny.

“Oh, heavens, no! It’s just him and Jack Gleason, his deputy. It’s such a small, peaceful village; we hardly have any trouble going on except for the tourist season. And even then, it’s mostly folks having one too many drinks and making a ruckus. You’ll be bored with us quite soon, Mr. Kensington, I’m sure.”

“You know, maybe boredom is exactly what I need right now to focus on my work,” I told her, handing her my credit card. “It looks like the perfect place to get some peace and quiet.”

In retrospect, I couldn’t have been more wrong.


NineStar Press | Books2Read Universal Link

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Website | Twitter

Tour Schedule

12/21 Joyfully Jay

12/22 Bayou Book Junkie

12/23 Love Bytes

12/24 My Fiction Nook

12/25 Boy Meets Boy Reviews


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Home Ice Advantage (Sophie Fournier #4) by K.R. Collins

Author K.R. Collins and Indigo Marketing host today's release blitz for Home Ice Advantage (Sophie Fournier #4)! Find out more and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Home Ice Advantage

Series: Sophie Fournier, Book Four

Author: K.R. Collins

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/21/2020

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 86100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, sports, romance, lesbian, gay, bisexual, demisexual, ice hockey, coach, teammates, slow burn

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Winning the Maple Cup has always been Sophie Fournier’s dream, ever since she was a little girl watching hockey in her grandparents’ basement. She isn’t satisfied after a season where she won hockey’s biggest prize. She wants to hoist the Cup again, in back-to-back seasons. She’s done it once before and, like any good hockey player, she knows to repeat a successful formula in order to find success again.

Only, this season is determined to be nothing like the last. Coach Butler breaks up not only the top line which drove their success, but he splits Sophie and Elsa. She’s cut off from her favorite winger on the ice and off it, Elsa begins to date, leaving Sophie on her own. And with this being a Winter Games year, their NAHL season is halted for international play. For the first time since becoming teammates, Sophie will compete against Elsa for a gold medal.

It’s a year of change and Sophie hates it. She knows what worked to win the Cup the previous season. Now, with multiple factors working against her, including her own coach, she has to figure out a new way to win the Cup. If she can’t, it will be her shoulders the blame falls on.


Home Ice Advantage
K.R. Collins © 2020
All Rights Reserved

“Let’s talk expectations. What do you want out of your contract?”

“Eight years, nine point three million a year,” Sophie answers. She did her research. It might be her first real contract, but she’s Sophie Fournier. She’s the first woman drafted into the North American Hockey League, she’s the captain of the Concord Condors, she led the League in points for two of her three seasons, and a month ago she led her team to their first-ever Maple Cup.

There’s a long silence on the other line, and she checks to make sure her agent is still there.

“Let’s talk realistic expectations,” he finally says. “Cut both those numbers in half.”

It’s Sophie’s turn to be stunned into silence. Hers doesn’t last as long. “Half? At least women outside of hockey make seventy-five cents to a man’s dollar.”


“Half?” she demands. “I ran the numbers. It wouldn’t be out of line to ask for ten million. Dima’s being offered at least ten, and he’s a winger, and he doesn’t have a Maple Cup to his name.”

“You can’t compare yourself to Dmitri Ivanov. You can’t compare yourself to anyone. Whatever numbers you ran, toss them out. They’re based on your male counterparts. We’re starting from scratch.”

“I did not fight as hard as I did to make it to and succeed in this league to be told I’m worth half of a man. You’re supposed to be on my side.”

“Of course, I’m on your side but you have to be realistic.”

She hangs up. It isn’t her best moment, and her guilt is almost enough to call back. But then she shoves her phone in her pocket and stomps into the kitchen where she pauses, scowl frozen on her face. Her mom and five other women are gathered around the island counter. There are piles of fruits and vegetables, multiple cutting boards, and three blenders. Sophie recognizes two of the women as neighbors. She played street hockey with their kids growing up.

“Oh, Sophie,” Mrs. Milchard greets. “We’re making smoothies. I bet you have all sorts of tips.”

Sophie smiles, automatic, but it’s strained. “I’ve made a few in my day. I’m actually about to go for a run, but if you still have questions when I’m back, I’ll answer them.”

“And test them.”

Sophie nods and flees upstairs to change. She hadn’t planned on going for a run but now she has to. She switches her T-shirt for a racerback and tugs her sweatpants off. She pauses as she pulls her shorts up. She has new ink. One hip has a pair of crossed hockey sticks. There’s a small 93 to the left of the sticks, because it’s the number she wears on the ice. This tattoo was a present to herself years ago. Her new one is on the other hip. It now says 2013-2014 in honor of their Maple Cup win.

Her win? Concord’s win? She is the captain and cornerstone of Concord’s franchise. She wants to be a Condor forever. But, if she believes her agent, Concord won’t offer the kind of deal given to players of her caliber.

She buries her contract thoughts as she pulls her hair up into a ponytail. She takes the stairs by two but doesn’t make it through the kitchen unnoticed.

“Are you going around the block?” her mom asks.

“The park, probably.” She wants to run trails, disappear into the woods until the only people she sees are ones training for marathons or running with their dogs, people who won’t want to stop and chat.

“Then you should take this with you.” Her mom hands Sophie a Gatorade and a bag of pretzels. “You’ll have your phone, right?”

Sophie holds up her phone in answer. She takes the snack and gives her mom a kiss. “Have fun juicing.”

She escapes to the woods, turns her music up, and runs until there’s no space in her head for thoughts. By the time she’s back at her car, her skin is slick with sweat, and she’s grateful for the pretzels. She sits on the curb as the sun beats down on her back. Sweat drips down her spine and dries on her arms, sticky, proof she worked hard. She musters up enough energy to stretch and then drives home.

There are still cars along the curb. She pulls up behind an SUV and takes the keys out of her ignition. Her gym card dangles from the key ring. She turns the car back on and drives down the street. She did her weight training this morning before her call with her agent, so she just uses the gym’s showers, changes into one of the many spare sets of clothes she keeps in her car, and drives to the store.

She goes through the salad bar, loading up a plastic container for herself and one for Colby. It’s on the early side for lunch so she picks up a few things for dinner. On the way to the checkout, she pauses at the Maple Cup display. She’s used to seeing Winnipeg Porcupine gear at home with the sparse collection of shirseys for other Canadian teams. Even Quebec carries Team Canada Ducasse shirseys, though they refuse to stock his Montreal merch.

But in the heart of Thunder Bay, Ontario, there’s a rack of Concord Condors Maple Cup gear. There are shirts with the Cup on the front and the whole roster on the back. There’s one with New Hampshire reshaped to look like the Cup. There are even a few shirseys. Sophie finds a number 13 and traces the NYBERG on the back.

She takes a picture and sends it to Elsa, knowing she’ll get a kick out of it. She’s tempted to buy the shirt and mail it to Lenny Dernier. He’ll have an on-air meltdown when he realizes the good Canadian province of Ontario is stocking fan-wear with a foreigner’s name on it.

Like most Canadian kids, Sophie was glued to the TV when Lenny Dernier came on to host his program after games. Only, as the years have passed and the game has changed, Dernier hasn’t. He clings to an era of hockey where a majority of the players were Canadians and where there were often as many, or more, fights than goals in a game. Back when hockey was a man’s sport.

She’s learned to tune him out, or mute him, these days. He sometimes tolerates Sophie because she had the good sense to be born Canadian even if she is a woman. But he hates Elsa, because he thinks Swedes are lazy, and he really hates Lexie. The last one Sophie finds hilarious, because he hates her for being crass and too aggressive, traits he would praise her for if she were a man. She dropped an f-bomb on live television once, caught up in the adrenaline of a big win, and he declared her a bad role model for all Canadian children.

She would probably find his shtick funnier if he didn’t believe it. And if he didn’t have a loyal following. Sophie’s rookie season saw the Clayton Trophy, the award given to the top rookie, as a competition between Dmitri Ivanov, herself, and Victor Serov. Two Russians and a woman. Dernier was apoplectic. He’s back on his “end of hockey as we know it” rant because this year the three Clayton nominees were two Americans and a Swede. He’s apparently looking to help fund Canada’s youth hockey program in order to restore their country to greatness.

It’s bullshit.

Elsa calls as Sophie goes through the self-checkout. “Did you buy it?”

“Why would I need to buy it? Do you know how many of your shirts I have? I swear you left half your wardrobe.”

“Are you wearing one right now?”

“No.” Though it’s an idea. Maybe if she wears a Nyberg shirsey everywhere, people won’t recognize her. She weighs her salad, weighs Colby’s, and places them in her reusable bag.

“See, you don’t have enough.”

Sophie checks to see what she actually is wearing. There’s a porcupine on the front which means it’s left over from her bantam days. “I’m in a knockoff Winnipeg shirt.”


“Your face is gross.” She finishes scanning her items and pays.

“You miss my face.”

She does but she won’t admit it. She first met Elsa Nyberg when they were opponents at a U-Tourney. Sophie was there representing Canada; Elsa was there for Sweden. She left the tournament with the gold medal and without knowing the impact she had on Sweden’s rising star. Now, they’re teammates in the NAHL. Last year, they won the Cup together. “What’re you up to?”

“Family picnic.” Elsa sighs as if it’s a burden, but Sophie knows she hoards all the time she can spend with her family in the offseason. “Patric and Henrik want to play basketball.”

Sophie laughs as Elsa complains about how her cousins like all the wrong sports. By the time Elsa’s dragged away to participate, Sophie feels better. Of course, once she hangs up, her car is too quiet, not even the radio playing softly in the background.

I have family to see too. And before I know it, Elsa and I will be back in Concord together.

When she arrives at Colby’s office, she’s surprised to be greeted by the receptionist. Too late, it occurs to her dropping by to visit Colby isn’t the same as dropping by a hockey rink. Her steps falter.

The receptionist, whose nameplate says Dianne, offers her a smile. “Do you have an appointment?”

“Uh, no. I’m here to see my brother, but I can call him.”

“Then I’d be out of a job. Have a seat, dear. I’ll call Colby and let him know you’re here.”

“How’d you know I’m Colby’s sister?”

“Everyone here knows who you are. We had office viewing parties. Congratulations, by the way.”

Sophie sits in one of the wingback chairs and picks up an out-of-date hunting magazine. She opens it but doesn’t read a single word. Colby comes down the side hallway after she’s flipped a few pages. He’s in slacks and a nice dress shirt. If his hair was gelled within an inch of its life, he’d look ready to board the bus for an away game. Instead, he has a legal pad tucked under his arm and his phone in hand.

“Hi Dianne. I’m on my way to the sales meeting. What’s up?”

She points and Sophie sets the magazine down. She feels conspicuously out of place in her running clothes. She fishes Colby’s salad out of her bag. “I was in the area.”

“I have a meeting.”

“It’s okay.” She holds the salad out to him. “Mom had friends over. They’re juicing so I needed to escape before I became a test subject. Uh, good luck in your meeting.”

“We’re trying to figure out how to boost our numbers. Cross-selling might be the key. You don’t care about this. Sorry.”

“I care.” Well, she cares because he does. But this is a completely unknown world to her. She wants to spend the next fifteen years of her life in the NAHL and then become a coach or advisor to a team, find a way to stay involved in the sport.

Colby’s hockey career ended after college. He plays in a men’s league now, but his days are spent here. It’s a world she doesn’t understand. And, after years of having hockey connecting them, she doesn’t know how to talk to him. Does he resent her for still playing when he can’t? She’s living their childhood dream, and he’s stuck here—cubicles and meetings.

She clears her throat. “I don’t want to make you late. I’ll see you for dinner sometime this week?”

Another change. Colby’s moved out of their parents’ house. He has an apartment and a new girlfriend, Charlotte, and her name is everything Sophie knows about her. A job, his own apartment, a girlfriend, her brother’s growing up, and Sophie feels left behind.

“Absolutely.” He lifts his salad in a thank-you and hurries back the way he came.

It leaves Sophie with an environmentally friendly bag with only her lunch in it now.

“Nice shirt.” Dianne nods at the porcupine logo. “Your contract is up. Any chance you’re signing with Winnipeg?”

“Probably not.” And she should go through her spare clothes to make sure any hockey clothes she wears bear Concord’s logo. She doesn’t want to start any rumors.

Dianne nods as if she was expecting the answer. “Concord would be stupid to let you go. Maybe next contract. It’ll be a big homecoming.”

Sophie offers a parting smile and slips out.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

K.R. Collins went to college in Pennsylvania where she learned to write and fell in love with hockey. When she isn’t working or writing, she watches hockey games and claims it’s for research. Find K.R. on Twitter.


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Review: Angels in the City by Garrett Leigh

A fake relationship with a stranger. An office romance with doughnuts and white knights. An addictive arrangement—friends with benefits—fast turns to love.

Jonah Gray is rich, successful, and the most eligible bachelor in the city, according to his mother, at least. But the truth is, despite her efforts to pair him off, he’s fine on his own. All he needs is a date to the Christmas ball.

Sacha Ivanov is a lone wolf, content in the cycle of long days, late nights, and anonymous hook ups, but when a chance encounter in a broken-down lift brings a gorgeous copper-haired CEO into his life, everything begins to change.

As Christmas fast approaches, a favour for a stranger blooms into something more. He doesn’t do second dates or relationships. But for kind-hearted Jonah, his angel in the city, he might just change his mind.

When Jonah Gray and Sasha Ivanov first meet in a stalled lift (or elevator, for us colonists across the pond), the attraction is instant. On a whim, Sasha accompanies Jonah to his parents’ annual Christmas party as his impromptu date, and follows Jonah home later that night.

I really liked the set-up of Sasha and Jonah’s story - office colleagues (although for different companies), a “fake” date, and a glittery upper-class Christmas in London.

And even better - the heat between these men. They were setting things on fire from their first hook-up. A cranky Russian with a penchant to get bossy in the bedroom? Hell yeah!

But while the two men find it easy to handle the physical connection, the emotional part is trickier to deal with.

They may wear the same designer suits, but Jonah and Sasha are two very different men. Jonah has a warm personality and loving family and friends. Sasha is outwardly cold and has little to no human connections in his life.

From the outset, the two men were bound to clash in terms of emotional compatibility.

I think this is where it hit a bit of a snag for me - for the majority of the book, I found things to be a bit too stilted between Sasha and Jonah. How Sasha treated Jonah got repetitive.

I’ve read and rooted for many an MC that does the whole hot-and-cold thing, but usually it’s cases where readers really get to know the character. In this case, Sasha just remained an enigma for too long.

I would have liked to get more from Sasha earlier in the book - his backstory, how he viewed things, how he really felt. Luckily, Sasha does get his head out of his ass and apologizes for how he acted, which went a long way in making him worthy of Jonah!

That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed seeing the relationship unfold, and all the sweet moments that went with it. Like how the two brought each other food and goodies, or how they both tried to get a rise out of each other.

And best of all, how they found peace together in their crazy busy lives. Jonah and Sasha pack a lot into just a few short weeks, but there was no denying that they clicked.

Their happy ending was the perfect cozy English Christmas with a cherry on top!

If you’re looking for a sexy read that’ll bring the holiday feels, give ‘Angels in the City’ a try!

A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Series Tour: Weeps Indigo (Books 1 and 2) by J.K. Jones


Author J.K. Jones and Gay Book Promotions host today's visit for dark mystery romance series, Weeps Indigo! Find out more about the first two books: Weeps Indigo and Cage the Night today!




Book Title: Weeps Indigo

Author: J.K. Jones

Publisher: Self-Published

Length: 370 pages

Release Date: May 18, 2019

Genre/s: Dark M/M Romance, Murder Mystery, LGBTQ horror and tragedy

Trope/s: Forbidden love, underage love, infidelity, mental illness  

Themes: Coming out, forgiveness, cheating, lies, secrets, prostitution,

psychological abuse, physical abuse, unreliable narrator

Heat Rating: 3 flames      

It is not a standalone story.



Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 




The Sheriff of Byrmonville, Richard Clayson, has a dark secret.

That night he found Beau walking down the familiar bleak streets, he knew exactly what he was doing. Watching him in the interrogation room, his eyes coveting the way that cigarette easily slid between his lips, the way the tattoos wrap easily around his flesh. Those eyes haunting and familiar, awakening something in him long since beaten dead.

He knew exactly what Beau's nighttime occupation was.

It was his job. To investigate the things unknown, the things hiding in the darkness. He loved a good puzzle piece, a good riddle he could unravel.

Richard wasn't a cop for nothing.

This is dangerous. Reckless. He could lose everything, hunting Beau like this.

So why can't he stop?


It’s all about a boy.

A boy who changed his life. He’s not just any kind of boy. Not someone of social status or unforgettable features. Not a boy that throws tantrums or is the sort to excel at everything.

Richard bets he isn’t particularly athletic, nor is he quick when it comes to arithmetic. However, he isn’t ordinary. In retrospect, there’s absolutely nothing ordinary about him. For one thing, his attitude is foul, so much so that half the guys in the office cringe when he opens his mouth.

He’s rough around the edges with a boorish attitude which does nothing to inspire the idea that the youth of today will amount to much in the world. However, there is something incredibly striking about his pitch black, thick curly hair, his long straight nose, thin lips, dimpled grin and a beauty mark hovering the corner of his upper lip.

Richard mentally runs through the Blackwell’s sordid history in town. His brother’s been arrested more times than he can count and it seems Beau was headed in that same direction.

Beau smokes too much, drinks too much, swears too much—hell, he does everything he shouldn’t do in abundance.

Richard even spots a couple tattoos peeking out from underneath his shirt, and is immediately repulsed. How old is he anyway?

Beau takes out a packet of smokes, slides one between his thin lips, tilting his chin up exposing that beauty mark in a way that makes Richard feel things—things long since beaten dead.



Book Title: Cage The Night

Author: J.K. Jones

Publisher: Self-Published

Length: 600 pages

Release Date: November 20, 2020

Genre/s: Dark M/M Romance, Murder Mystery, LGBTQ horror and tragedy

Trope/s:  Forbidden love, underage love, infidelity, mental illness  

Themes: Coming out, forgiveness, cheating, lies, secrets, prostitution,

psychological abuse, physical abuse, unreliable narrator

It is part two in the Weeps Indigo series. Book 3 is due for release in September 2021.



Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 




What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted?

When instead of running he is being chased? Richard doesn't understand when or how things turned. He just knows the tightness in his chest intensifies, the demon is growing restless.

All he wants to do is go back in time and stop this whole thing from happening. Starting with the first day when he saw Beau in the interrogation room, Richard wants to stop himself from becoming mesmerized by those haunting emerald eyes and that otherworldly face.

He would stop the world from turning, the heavens opening up and beaming sunlight down on them. He would stop his heart, his lungs, and all the creatures in the world just so that he would never ever have to meet Beau.


By the time he makes it to the Blackwell residence the blood is pounding in his ears.

He can barely see straight. The rage is boiling over and there isn’t anything stopping the demon from tearing its way through.

The house comes into view, dilapidated on the hillside, crumbling piece of shit that Richard loathes more than anything. He presses harder on the gas, dirt and debris flies everywhere as he drives recklessly up the pathway. Sirens blare loudly, as he slams his foot on the brake, nearly crashing into the front porch. Richard flies out of the vehicle, leaving the door hanging wide open and stumbles up the porch with his gun heavy in hand.

There is nothing, white noise, air bustling in his ears and the tunnel vision of paralyzing vehemence. It’s dark, raw and savage, the demon’s lips curl, breathing fire and brimstone as he clatters his way up the stairway of the Blackwell property.

The M1191 is secure in his grasp, fingers tightening around the trigger because there will be nothing, but brutality, sickening violence of blood and guts and gore.

Wooden stairs creak and groan under his foreign weight, the screen door is hanging off its hinges and he knows, that there is something very very very wrong here.

About the Author

Heaven and hell, demons and angels. J.K Jones has always had an affinity for other worldly things. From her debut novel it's easy to see she loves all things crawling in the shadows. As it so happens, J.K Jones is the author of a gritty, fun, action-packed, soul-rending novel. Her characters are so dark and twisted they defy the dimensions of this world. She is an avid reader, poet and LGBTQ activist. She is a York University graduate with a BA in Sociology, also has a TESOL certificate for teaching English as a Second Language.

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Little Match Girl by Dianne Hartsock

Author Dianne Hartsock and IndiGo Marketing visit with the Little Match Girl release blitz! Check out today's stop and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Little Match Girl

Author: Dianne Hartsock

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 12/21/2020

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/NB

Length: 21400

Genre: Contemporary Holiday, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, Genderqueer, Found Family, friends to lovers, coffee shop romance, Holiday

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Christian can’t help himself. He’s falling in love with the sweet guy who’s been coming into the sandwich shop for the past several months. But Christian’s been avoiding the candle-seller all year, going so far as to cross the street to avoid walking by him. Ashamed, he wonders if Dani can ever forgive him.

Losing his mother to cancer, Dani has spent the last year in a haze of grief and loneliness. His life is selling candles, giving himself to any man who can pay, and saving himself from having to go home to his father’s brutality.

Desperate for a place to belong, Dani sets out, with Christian’s help, to find his mother’s family. Christian wants Dani to be happy, though the cost might be losing Dani forever.


Little Match Girl
Dianne Hartsock © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The door chimed, but Christian finished wiping down the coffee machine. He didn’t want to appear too eager despite his thumping heart. He ran the rag over the counter, scrutinizing the bright reflection of lights on the gleaming surface from the Christmas Giving Tree in the center of the room; the tree empty of its cards the day after Christmas.

“Hey, Christian, isn’t that your fairy?” Jordan mocked in a stage whisper from where he was adding wood to the glowing embers in the fireplace on the far wall. Asshole.

Christian leaned a hip on the counter, his gaze intent on the guy sliding into the corner booth. He came to the sandwich shop nearly every night right before closing time to order a coffee, rain or shine. Or like tonight, when it was beginning to snow. None of the other servers would deal with him. Not that Christian blamed them. Dani never tipped more than fifty cents, if that much.

That didn’t bother him. The man was beautiful—wispy blond hair cut in a pixie style around his sweet face. Big gray eyes full of shadows. Christian gave him a minute to count out his change on the glossy tabletop the way he always did, then approached him around the scattered tables and sofas. The fireplace warmed the cozy seating area, empty now since most of the students from the nearby college had gone home for winter break. Wind howled at the windows, but they were snug enough inside.

“Hi, Dani. How’s it going?” he asked, as usual.

“I’m good,” came Dani’s standard reply in a lilting voice that made Christian’s pulse jump. Dani peered up at him, his expression somehow softer tonight, his spectacular eyes less fierce. He bit a plump lip, betraying his nerves, and Christian stifled a groan. He’d dreamed of those lips wrapping around his dick only the night before.

As if guessing his thoughts, Dani lowered his gaze, pretty color flooding his cheeks. Christ, he was gorgeous, his features neither masculine nor feminine. If Christian didn’t know for a fact he was a man, he would have thought Dani was a girl tonight, despite his rough clothing. There was something decidedly sweet about him, a definite change when he showed his gentler side. Christian wondered what it would be like to have Dani in his bed in this mood. The thought of him, soft and yielding, in direct contrast to a hard cock, had Christian stiffening inconveniently. He took the seat opposite Dani in the booth to hide his interest.

“Hi,” he said again when Dani gave him a tentative glance. “Coffee and sandwich, as usual?”

Hunger flashed over Dani’s face, but he dropped his gaze and moved the coins on the table with a fine-boned finger. “Only coffee, please.” His voice cracked, and he covered his eyes with a shaky hand. “I’m sorry. I barely have enough money for that. Nothing for a tip.”

“I don’t care about that,” Christian said, leaning forward. Only then did he notice how pale Dani appeared, face pinched with cold. Surely his jacket was too thin for December? “Did you eat today?” he asked with concern, and stared when Dani shrugged, noncommittal. Appalled, remembering that Dani hadn’t come in yesterday, Christian unconsciously raised his voice. “Did you eat yesterday?”

Dani made a violent movement as if to stand. “I’ll go—”

“Sit down, please. I’ll get your coffee,” Christian assured him, heart squeezed by Dani’s distress.

He rose to his feet and crossed the room. Rounding the counter, he called into the tiny kitchen where his coworker was washing dishes while he pulled a mug from the cupboard over his head. “Jordan, I’m taking my break. Can you bring me a sandwich and the leftover soup?”

Jordan looked up from the sink and sauntered over to him, drying his hands on a dishtowel. He glanced at their single customer and frowned. “What? You gonna feed the little queer now?”

Anger burned through Christian, and he stepped up to Jordan, raising his chin when Jordan stared at him in surprise. “Just what’s your problem with Dani?”

The redhead blinked, and then a slight sneer curled his lips. “Sorry, man. I know you’re gay and all, but at least you’re a guy. I don’t know what that is.” Jordan flashed Dani a scowl.

Christian balled his hand into a fist. “He’s a fucking human being, asshole. That’s all you need to know. Now, get my dinner.”

He turned back to making the coffee, relieved when Jordan huffed but returned to the kitchen. Jordan was a big guy and could probably snap him in two, but Christian was so over the homophobic crap he dealt with in this small town. He needed to seriously consider moving back to Portland.

Coffee made, he added steamed milk and chocolate. Dani usually had his coffee black, but he definitely needed the calories. Christian peered across the room and smiled. Dani was undeniably lovely in the glow from the fireplace and the twinkling fairy lights encircling the ceiling. What was his story? Christian couldn’t remember seeing him around town, though he’d lived there close to two years, attending the local college.

He joined Dani at the table, delighted when his eyes widened as Christian pushed the mug in front of him, mounded high with whip cream.

“Just drink it,” he warned when Dani opened his mouth as if to protest. The color deepened in Dani’s face, but he obediently picked up a spoon. Christian watched, mesmerized, as he brought a dollop of cream to his mouth, the spoon passing those exquisite lips. Dani’s eyelids instantly fluttered, bliss suffusing his face, starting an ache in the pit of Christian’s gut. He imagined Dani would look like that, lost in orgasm. Something he keenly wanted to see.

Jordan approached the table, and Christian tore his gaze from Dani, frowning when Jordan put the plate he carried down with a thump.

“Hurry and eat,” he groused. “I want to start closing the kitchen.”

“Whatever.” Christian waved him off. Jordan had no grounds to complain, having eaten his dinner an hour ago. The turkey and cheese sandwich was grilled to a golden brown, the tomato and roasted red pepper soup hot and savory. Jordan could be a dick sometimes, but he was a fantastic cook.

Dani stared at the plate of food then glanced away with effort. Damn, the guy must be starving. Christian picked up half the sandwich and pushed the plate toward Dani. “Here. Eat up.”

Dani appeared distressed. “I don’t have the money…”

Christian waved that off. “Don’t worry about it. You can pay me back later.”

Dani seemed startled and then a sad, lost expression crossed his face, but he nodded. “Okay,” he said hoarsely and started on the sandwich. He ate slowly, as if to make it last. The soup followed, and Christian tortured himself watching the slim neck work as Dani swallowed each mouthful. He bet that creamy white skin would taste like sugar under his tongue.

Finished, Dani shyly pulled his coffee mug to him, chewing his lips in a nervous habit Christian had noticed. Christian wanted to lean across the table and kiss those sweet confections. A pot banged in the kitchen, reminding him of the time.

“We’ll be closing soon,” he told Dani kindly. “Why don’t you take your coffee and sit by the fire while we put things to rights?”

Dani nodded, and Christian studied him as he crossed the room to the dwindling fire. His clothes seemed worn and hung loosely off his thin frame. Poor as a church mouse, Christian guessed. Where did he get the money for coffee every night? One of the many questions he meant to get an answer to.

Christian joined Jordan in the kitchen, and they closed down the shop, working with practiced efficiency. When the kitchen was in order, Christian went out to wipe down the tables and was disappointed to find that Dani had left; his coffee mug was sitting empty on the low table beside the hearth. Damn. He’d wanted to talk with him some more.

Once they’d swept the floor and counted the register for the morning deposit at the bank, they left the shop, Jordan locking the door behind them. A gust of icy wind laced with snow struck them, and Christian turned up the collar on his jacket.

“See you tomorrow,” Jordan said with a wave and started down the well-lit sidewalk toward his car. Christian turned in the opposite direction to his own beat-up sedan and jumped, pulse racing, as a figure detached from the wall.


He nodded, coming up to him. Dani clenched his hands at his sides and raised his chin in defiance. “I’m ready. The alley is dark, or we can go inside where it’s warmer…”

Christian looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?”

“Payment. You said I could pay you back later. I’m ready.” His face was deathly white, but there was a determined, desperate gleam in his eyes that made Christian’s chest hurt.

“This wasn’t what I meant at all,” he said, needing to be perfectly clear. What kind of life did Dani have that he thought… Yes, he wanted Dani in his bed, but not like this. He moved closer, cupping Dani’s face with care. He leaned in and rested their foreheads together, gazing into the wide, shadow-filled eyes.

“When we have sex, Dani, it will be because you want me to. No other reason,” he promised. Desire flared in Dani’s gray eyes, and Christian touched Dani’s full lips with his thumb, groaning as they parted for him. “Go home, sweetheart, before you catch your death of cold. We’ll talk tomorrow, okay?”

Dani nodded, eyes glimmering with a few tears. He hesitated as if to say something but shoved his hands in his coat pockets and hastened down the dark street. Christian watched him go, pressing his lips together.

“I’ll find out your story, Dani,” he promised to Dani’s retreating back. After fishing his keys from a pocket, he got in his car and drove carefully on the icy road to the apartment he shared with his college buddies. He hoped Dani didn’t have far to walk on this cold night.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Dianne is the author of paranormal/suspense, fantasy adventure, m/m romance, the occasional thriller, and anything else that comes to mind. She lives in the beautiful Willamette Valley of Oregon with her incredibly patient husband, who puts up with the endless hours she spends hunched over the keyboard letting her characters play. She says Oregon’s raindrops are the perfect setting in which to write. There’s something about being cooped up in the house with a fire crackling on the hearth and a cup of hot coffee warming her hands, which kindles her imagination. 

Currently, Dianne works as a floral designer in a locally-owned gift shop. Which is the perfect job for her. When not writing, she can express herself through the rich colors and textures of flowers and foliage.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest


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Audiobook Review: The Christmas Deal by Keira Andrews

Will fake boyfriends become the real deal this holiday?

It’s the most wonderful time of the year—except ex-Marine Logan is jobless and getting evicted. Worse, he’s a new single dad with a stepson who hates him. A kid needs stability—not to mention presents under the tree—and Logan’s desperate.

Then he meets lonely Seth and makes a deal.

Can Logan temporarily pretend to be live-in boyfriends to increase Seth’s chances at a promotion? If it provides a roof over their heads for the holidays, hell yeah. Logan considers himself straight—he doesn’t count occasional hookups with guys—but he can fake it. Besides, with his shy little smile, Seth is surprisingly sexy.

Make that damn sexy.

Shocked that Seth has only been with one man, Logan can’t resist sweetening their deal to teach him the joys of casual sex. No strings attached. No feelings. No kissing.

No falling for each other.

Easy, right?

Listening Length: 8 hours and 13 minutes
Narrator: John Solo

As per the blurb, Seth and Logan are both in a pickle. Seth needs to look attached in order to be considered for a promotion, and Logan needs a place to stay for the holidays as he struggles with his own demons of being unemployed and a newly single dad.

Essentially, Seth is a lot in stasis after his breakup a year ago. He’s been passed over for advancement due to not being married, so Logan’s situation is the perfect solution. Seth will get a ready made family with his fake fiance, and he’ll also get his house finally finished for dinner with the boss to show he’s the right man for the job. Meanwhile, Logan can provide his stepson his first holiday without his mom while not feeling like a complete loser as he earns his keep. Eventually and not surprisingly, close quarters allow Seth and Logan to fortuitously make another “deal”. Seth, having only been with one other person, is locked up real tight, and Logan desperately needs some stress relief. It’s only just “getting off” with absolutely no strings attached and absolutely no feelings involved. Uh huh.

Beware Logan, who insists his same sex attraction is only relegated to hook ups and is adamantly still straight. He also has some serious self loathing due to his unfortunate bad luck in all things regarding love, career, and finances. Seth in turn, has boatloads of insecurity and an awful hateful family to come to terms with. Mix this with a grieving surly teen, and this really runs the emotional gamut.

Narrated by John Solo, I truly appreciated the different tones and inflections as his performance was spot on with all the feelings Andrews brings to the table. This audio version is highly recommended if you’re a fan of Solo, Andrews, or both!

Reassuredly, Andrews rarely skimps on the smexy, and here she doesn’t fail in the UST, the explicit, or the dirty talk. Thankfully too, there’s no protracted angst as both Logan and Seth eventually realize their love for one another and become the family they always desired. So yes, this is quite the implausible romance, but as Christmas stories go, the reader is advised to just kick back and go with the flow. Cheers!

Release Blitz + Giveaway: T.A.G. Family Christmas (The Assassins' Guild #3) by A.G. Carothers


Author A.G. Carothers and Gay Book Promotions host today's release blitz for T.A.G. Family Christmas (The Assassins' Guild #3)! Read more about the latest holiday romance from the series and enter in the $15 Amazon gift card giveaway!


Book Title: T.A.G. Family Christmas (The Assassins' Guild #3)

Author: A.G. Carothers

Publisher: A.G. Carothers

Cover Artist: Amai Designs

Release Date:12/15/20

Genre/s: MM Romance, Holiday Romance, 

Trope/s: Age Gap, Sweet, Established Couples, 

Themes: Ensemble Cast, Holiday Vacation Fun, Bratty Twinks

Heat Rating:  2 flames

Length: 22 000 words/94 pages 

It is not a standalone story. 

The Assassins' Guild Series are enclosed stories but they are all connected and best read in order. T.A.G. You're Seen T.A.G. You're Heard T.A.G. Family Christmas



Buy Links - Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |   Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  



Happy Holidays from everyone at T.A.G. Your one-stop shopping source for all your killing needs.

It isn't all stabbings, poisonings, and shootings here at The Assassins' Guild. We decided to pause that and take a little time to celebrate being alive, and for some, being in love.

This is your friendly communications agent, Mr. No, here to tell you about the holiday fun Mr. H and his boys got up to this one Christmas.

Once upon a time, there was a Bob. This Bob got tasked with three missions. Not just any old ordinary missions, but missions of love...

Between guarding Connor, being stalked by Enrique, and being his usual sneaky self, Bob must put into motion three big surprises for his chosen family.

But it's not all snowman contests and catching Mr. Ti in potentially embarrassing situations while they vacation in a chateau outside of Paris. Oh no, something is afoot. Mr. H won't let the new problem code-named The Poacher interfere with family time.

So, take a little time out of your busy schedule and join us for a T.A.G. Family Christmas the likes of you'll never forget.

Attention: This story contains adorableness taken to a whole new level. There are adult situations, language, kinky snowmen, and all the churros you can eat.



Paris, France

Sixteen Days till Christmas

Lights twinkled, making the bare trees that lined the Champs Elysée seem full once more in the early evening darkness. This far north, the sun was long set by five. My breath puffed in the chilly air in front of me as I looked down the wide avenue with the Arc de Triumph behind me. The sound of the cars zooming around the large roundabout was dim to my ears as I stood in awe of the sight before me.

Ice glistened on the branches as the smell of—a sharp elbow jabbed my bicep. “Are you going to stand here all evening gaping? I’m freezing my nuts off here, and you promised me lots of mulled wine and fresh churros.”

I side-eyed Yoshi with a huff. “I was imprinting this moment to my memory. Plus, look how pretty it is. Besides, I told you to wear a thicker jacket.”

“Well, if we move, I won’t be so cold, and I didn’t want to look like a marshmallow man.”

“At least I’m warm and fashionable.” I’d worn a poofy teal coat that went to mid-thigh, toasty flannel lined jeans with fleece-lined boots. I topped off my outfit with matching earmuffs that had cat ears on them and a pair of our special cold weather gloves that kept my hands perfectly warm while not losing any dexterity nor the ability to operate any of our touchscreen electronics.

Yoshi pogoed on his toes, and I looked back over to Bob, who shrugged. “Well, at least let me get some photos first.”

“Fuck. It’s cold.” Yoshi blew into his hands.

“Well, I offered you earmuffs, but you scoffed at me. Dmitry told you to at least take a scarf and you scoffed at him. I think you just like suffering and complaining about it.” I took the opportunity to pull my scarf over my nose to try to warm it. The wind by the Arc was a bit too much for my comfort.

Yoshi laughed heartily. “Of course I like suffering.”

“That’s not what you said this morning. You were begging for Dmitry to stop torturing and fuck you,” I quipped.

“Damn thin walls in that place.” Yoshi blushed a little then shrugged it off. “I’m not the only one who’s loud. How tight is your Daddy’s hole? I don’t think I quite heard.”

I grinned wide and licked my lips. “Mmmmm, so tight. He hugs my cock—”

Yoshi shoulder checked me, nearly making me stumble into someone walking in the opposite direction. “And he’s so hot and the way he flexes—” I dodged Yoshi and caught up to Bob, who had taking point. He arched an eyebrow at me as I used him as a shield.


“You’re just jealous.” I stuck my tongue out at him.

“I do not want to know what Oz’s ass even looks like, much less feels.”

I fell back in step with Yoshi. “Eww, no, of course not, but I meant that you never get to fuck Dmitry.”

Yoshi shrugged. “Eh, it’s not something I need. Sometimes it’d be nice but I’m good.”

We were finally topside again. So many people were out shopping or having dinner. There were many tourists as well, but it was the Champs Elysée, so that was expected. The next day they were going shopping in the fashion district. I wasn’t a clothes whore by any means, but if you’re going to come to Paris, you must at least do some clothes shopping.

“Do you want to stop for a coffee?”

“No, let’s go to Tiffany’s like you want first.”

A nervous excitement bubbled in my gut as we got closer to the store. “Are you sure you don’t want something too?”

“Yeah, I’m sure. We do a lot of things together, but I think we can skip this one.”

“Don’t you want to marry Dmitry?”

“Sure, someday, but it’s not something I really think about. He’s not going anywhere. He promised and he has my key.”

I nodded as I walked through the door that Bob held open to the multilevel shop. “Maybe you can get him like a diamond-encrusted cock ring?”

“Nah, do you know what a pain that would be to clean?”

About the Author

A.G. Carothers is actually a dragon very cleverly disguised as a human. They are a non-binary author of LGBTQIA Romance and Urban Fantasy, who enjoys writing original and entertaining stories. They are very excited to share the worlds they've created with you.

A.G. currently lives in Tennessee with their platonic life partner, who is not a dragon. They yearn to live back in Europe and will some day. In their spare time they are addicted to losing themselves in the lovely worlds created by other authors

A.G. is committed to writing the stories they see in their head without restrictions. Love is blind and doesn't see gender, race, or sexuality.   

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