Review: Gifts for the Season: Winter & Christmas MM Charity Anthology by Various Authors

 A charity anthology from your favorite MM romance authors featuring fifteen brand new stories.

RJ Scott - Single Dad Christmas
It would be a Christmas miracle if he loved me back.

Annabeth Albert - Must Be Santa
Tis the season for Operation Christmas Papa!

Joanna Chambers - The First Snow of Winter
Christmas Eve, 1814: a maimed war hero and the childhood friend he almost kissed five years earlier are trapped together by the first snow of winter.

Eli Easton - Twelve Days of UPS
What happens when your Secret Santa is less intriguing than the delivery man who brings the gifts?

Suki Fleet - Sometimes, Always
When Echo’s Christmas Eve surprise for Peri goes a little sideways, it turns into a night they’ll both remember for the best reasons, for always.

Lane Hayes - Out For The Holidays
Good Things Happen When You’re Out for the Holidays!

Annabelle Jacobs - Driving Home For Christmas
A road trip, snowstorm, and only one big bed at the Inn…

Alex Jane - Homestead for the Holidays
Alone in a cabin in snowy Nebraska for Christmas

Amber Kell - A Santa for Trin
Everyone needs a bit of Christmas magic.

Garrett Leigh - No Place Like Home
As long as they’re together, love always wins

V.L. Locey - Dressed In Holiday Style
Can the spirit of Christmas save this budding love affair?

Clare London - Five Gold Blings
Where Christmas sparkle leads two lonely hearts.

Posy Roberts - Sojourn with You
This year, a place to stay is the best Christmas gift Sawyer could ask for.

Felice Stevens - The Gift of Forever
What do you get the man who has everything?

AE Via - An Unworthy Gift
What do the lonely do at Christmas?


Adam - 3.5 Hearts

This holiday anthology will definitely put you in the seasonal mood! The stories are a mixed bag, but overall they brought feels, some heat, and a lot of Christmas cheer. And even better - all proceeds go to The Trevor Project.

Oddly enough, my favourites from the anthology both had deliverymen in them - Twelve Days of UPS by Eli Easton and Five Gold Blings by Clare London. I too would like a hunky deliveryman at my door for Christmas!

My one complaint - most of these short stories have connections to prior books, and that wasn’t always clear in the blurb. Prior reading will definitely make a difference in the experience.

However, all of these shorts can be read on their own regardless. So bundle-up and enjoy!

Out for the Holidays by Lane Hayes - 2 Hearts

I haven’t read Lane Hayes’ Out in the Deep, so I was a bit in the dark about the relationship. This is very much so a case where reading the couple’s backstory makes all the difference in enjoyment. Also the holiday vibe was a bit too low-key.

And beyond the relationship between the two MCs, I also felt that the family drama was a lot without the context of the background.

That being said, they’re still a cute couple and they get full points for their bedroom performance. Recommended for past readers of Gabe and Derek’s love story.

Single Dad Christmas by R.J. Scott - 3.5 Hearts

This was such a sweet little story. But I also wanted to give Austin a thump on the head - he just needed to tell Paul how he felt, and then let Paul talk. Kudos to Paul for wrangling the kids and Austin.

Readers won’t necessarily get the background of how Paul and Austin fell for each other, but there’s definitely no doubt that they’re head-over-heels in love.

Bonus points for fitting all that Christmas cheer into such a short story. And for the delightful kids! Their antics were hilarious.

I would definitely read a follow-up to see where Austin, Paul, and the kids go next.

Twelve Days of Christmas by Eli Easton - 4 Hearts

Right off the bat, kudos to the author for writing a COVID-era love story. 2020 has been anything but sunshine and roses, but I appreciated the realism.

And it made the romance all the more precious - because we deserve some joy these days!

This was an absolutely adorable short story - the mystery of the gifts, how Paul and Dan went from relative strangers to friends with mutual crushes, and the happy ending.

In just a few pages, I was thoroughly sold on Dan and Paul’s romance. The connection between them is undeniable.

This was very much so just the beginning to their story, so there’s room for more!

Must be Santa by Annabeth Albert - 3 Hearts

I thoroughly enjoyed Teddy and Nick’s love story in Better Not Pout. It was the perfect mix of romance and holiday feels. So I was excited to read this short story!

The two men are still head-over-heels in love with each other. And they’re also still complete polar opposites.

But what they’re definitely on the same page about - making a home for Nathalie and James.

It’s not easy, but slowly the four do come to understand each other. And just in time to celebrate their first holiday season together as a family, with the requisite visit to Santa, baked goods, and some time with the large McNally family.

Overall, this was a cute follow-up to Teddy and Nick’s story. Recommended if you’ve read Better Not Pout.

The First Snow of Winter by Joanna Chambers - 3.5 Hearts

This was trademark Joanna Chambers - two complex men skirting around each other before they figure out how to make things work. All against an atmospheric Regency era holiday setting.

Sam and Jasper’s romance is one of childhood friendship and a love cut short. So it was entirely believable that they’d fall back into each other’s arms quickly once they had the chance.

And I was all for it! They’re sweet together, and accept one another as he is. Sam could understand Jasper’s struggles with hiding his sexuality, while Jasper saw beyond Sam’s injury.

If you’re looking for a short interlude in Regency MM, ‘The First Snow of Winter’ will do the trick!

Five Gold Blings by Clare London - 4 Hearts

This was an excellent amuse-bouche! I haven’t read anything by Clare London before, so I wasn’t sure what I would get.

This short little story delivered laughs, feels, sexytimes, and holiday cheer, all with a bow on top!

Both of the characters were adorable - Gray’s grouchiness and Alec’s sunshine. And it was absolutely adorable how quickly Gray got with the program, despite his protests.

The sweetest part was how they both brightened each other’s lives so quickly. Yes it’s insta-love and that’s not always believable, but hey I’m more than happy to root for it when it’s undeniable!

Overall, very sweet story. Would read more of Alec and Gray.

Sojourn with You by Posy Roberts - 2 Hearts This short story started off pretty cute, between Sawyer’s earnest crush, Gregg’s unintentional flirting, and Murphy the sweet dog.

I was digging how the two men were becoming close friends, all the while circling towards something deeper.

And then it ended with no resolution.

This is apparently just the beginning of Sawyer and Gregg’s story. I think there really should be something in the blurb to indicate that. Frankly, I was expecting a complete story and the decidedly non-romantic and unexpected ending just left a bit of a sour taste.

As it is, I don’t expect I’ll be continuing Gregg and Sawyer’s story.

Sometimes, Always by Suki Fleet - 3 Hearts

I haven’t read Peri and Echo’s story in ‘Sometimes There’s Stars’, but I didn’t find it difficult at all to see the love between the two men. They were so entwined.

Perhaps a bit too entwined at times with the borderline mind-reading, but hey, that didn’t detract from the feels and cuteness.

This short will probably do more for you if you’ve read Peri and Echo’s full story. But regardless, it’s an enjoyable sweet holiday read, with a surprising amount of heat.

No Place Like Home by Garrett Leigh - Did Not Read

Garrett Leigh’s Roads series is one of the few that I never got into, and that I didn’t complete. This short continues Pete and Ash’s story. I’m sure fans of the series will appreciate this story!

The Gift of Forever by Felice Stevens - 3 Hearts

I haven’t read Frisco and Torre’s full story in Never Say Never, but that didn’t at all detract from this follow-up. It’s obvious that they have a very sweet and very steamy romance.

I was all for it!

Overall, I quite enjoyed this short story. It was a perfect holiday morsel, complete with sugar cookies and good food.

Recommended if you’ve previously read and enjoyed Frisco and Torre’s love story!

Driving Home for Christmas by Annabelle Jacobs - 3.5 Hearts

This was sweet! I do like a good snowed-in story. Plus, Tom and Jared definitely warmed each other up.

Even better was the friends-to-lovers angle. It was easy to believe that Jared and Tom would be able to build on their friendship for their happy ending.

However, this was definitely a major case of miscommunication/lack of communication, which was frustrating. Which isn’t my favourite, but wasn’t at all a dealbreaker.

Recommended if you’re looking for a friends-to-lovers short with some angsting.

A Santa for Trin by Amber Kell - 2 Hearts

This short holiday story follows two couples from Amber Kell’s Moon Pack series (Dara/Steven and Anthony/Silver). And also Anthony and Silver’s son Trin.

I haven’t read any of those books previously, so I’m definitely missing that connection/context.

That being said, it was still an okay read. I got the vibe - the joy of Santa for kids, and how family brings people together during the holidays.

Recommended if you’ve read the Moon Pack series previously.

Homestead for the Holidays by Alex Jane - 4 Hearts

A perfect friends-to-lovers Christmas romance!

I really liked how obvious Jace and CJ’s love for each other was, even if it was only (outwardly at least) as friends at first.

Bonus points for CJ being a big old softie, with a love for holiday decorating and jingles.

This may be a very short read, but it packs some great feels and sweet moments. I would definitely read more of CJ and Jace’s story!

Shee Reader - 5 Hearts

I read a few of these stories and they were festive perfection! Some were re-visits to established couples from other books, and some were brand new stories. Each had its own merits , and the whole thing was a real joy.

I absolutely loved the Single Dad Christmas (by RJ Scott), An Unworthy Gift (by AE Via) and The Gift of forever (by Felice Stevens) but my absolute fave was Twelve Days of UPS by Eli Easton.

The story of a successful and nice, but lonely guy who is new to the area getting gifts from a secret Santa was so lovely. The fact that the gifts were perfect because they were from dear old friends was even better, but the loveliest but was that the gifts were sent because the friends thought the UPS guy would be an excellent love match! Seeing the development of the relationship from delivery guy and homeowner to the joyous Christmas “I wanted it to be you” moment was a delight from start to finish!

The whole anthology was great (and for charity too) but my heart was stolen by Eli Easton.

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

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs (Elemental Rain #1) by Jeanne Marcella

Author Jeanne Marcella and Other Worlds Ink host today's tour stop for dark fantasy, Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs! Read more today and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway! 

Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs - Jeanne Marcella

Jeanne Marcella has a new MM/MMF dark fantasy out: "Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs." And there's a giveaway!

Her past is postage due and centaurs are ready to collect.

Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs is a dark fantasy most daring and eccentric. A tale not for the faint of heart. Pony is a bipedal half-breed centaur with no desire to waste tears on a past she can't remember. She's busy enough with her mail routes and package deliveries, and of course, floundering through hot-cold love affairs with the high class courtesans Mardyth and Lullaby.

The mundane drudgery of her life shatters when Konstantine Bywater takes over as Lightfoot Delivery's new boss. He asks questions she can't possibly answer, and stirs up a tragic past better left dead and buried.

But running away is no longer an option. Not when Kon and his minions accuse Mardyth of an unspeakable crime. With her lover's life at stake, Pony won't stop until she uncovers not only the truth of Mardyth's innocence, but the truth of the past as well.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Angus Robertson | Indigo | Universal Buy Link | Goodreads | Liminal Fiction


Jeanne is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Through Rain and Missing Mantaurs meme

Chapter 1

Saddle-sweating, horse-humping, gods-cursed bastards! The rumors were true. Shit! Bad luck must be in love with me or something. Maybe it could give Mardyth lessons.

Arms pumping high and heart hammering in her parched throat, Pony pushed to reach her top speed. The rumble of centaur hooves behind her vibrated both earth and air. She absorbed those rumbling shock waves into her svelte, bipedal runner’s body. And knew her two human legs—versus their four equine ones—would not be enough.

Still, she would try.

The sweltering heat weighed heavy. Her ratty brown and tan courier’s tunic clung like a starving tick. Rocks and pebbles further split the threadbare soles of her worn-out boots as she pounded down the rutted road. She grimaced at the sweaty slap of calloused arches sliding around in rotted footwear that could fall apart any day now.

Pony squinted at the onslaught of bright blue sky. Her brain cooked in its own juices as the summer sun withered the forest corridor. Her brown hair slipped from its limp topknot; stray strands plastered her sunburned cheeks. It was almost too hot to breathe. Too dry to live. And the damn fools giving chase wanted to die of heatstroke right alongside her.

As it always did in situations like these, Callum’s unfavorable input surfaced to harass her. Stupid, gods-damned centaurs—worthless scraps of horsemeat to toss to the dogs. Her former guardian’s mantra, though crude and offensive, might hold slivers of truth. It was most certainly stupid to be running full-out in this blistering heat. At any other time, she might’ve been curious about this, her first ever centaur encounter.

Just to say she’d finally met one.

Give a lecture about overexertion in extreme weather.

Maybe engage in some harmless flirting.

To finally decide, once and for all, that Callum was right about them.

Or wrong.

But not when this chase proved that they were hunting for courier blood.

Any courier’s blood.

Keep running. Don’t look back.

She looked back.

Six tall shapes, the merging of man and equine. Hooves kicking up clouds of rising dust. The whip of long, flashing manes. The distance between them shrank with each passing second.

Her mail satchel, empty except for the meager bait of Escape Plan Number Two, bounced against her spine. Slung across her chest and anchored into the strap of her mailbag, a dozen small throwing blades awaited use. The large knife hanging at her hip, anchored at her thigh, allowed slight consolation.

Escape Plan Number One took the form of the few coins she couldn’t spare; the bits of metal jingled in her trouser pocket, muffled by a scrap of cloth.

Your job is to run, but hold strength in reserve. Callum’s voice echoed in the back of her mind. If cornered, kill without hesitation or remorse.

Okay. Good advice. She was good at running. That was all she ever did.

Pony crushed dry cracked lips between her teeth. Escape Plan Number One never failed. But would this tactic work on centaurs?

Wait. She had to revise that. Would Escape Plan Number One work on murderous, marauding centaurs who’d probably noticed she was a half-breed suffering through the last few days of her estrus?

If Callum were alive, he would’ve wagered against her.

Might as well give the plan a go, Horsemeat.

She sensed the distance closing between them. Imagined their hot breath blowing down the back of her neck. Their tall, bizarre forms hovering over her. Their hands tearing at her tunic to confirm the hidden tail braided and wrapped around her waist like a belt…

Pony shook off the terror. No time to panic.

Dipping into her trouser pocket, she pulled out several bronze skull coins and flung them over her shoulder. It was back to rummaging through garbage cans when she got home. The currency thudded along the highway and pinged off rocks. On her old southern routes, tossing money always worked with the undesirables skulking around looking for a mark.

The thundering sound of hooves sped up and deepened. Pony ground her teeth. All right, so they weren’t after money. Not typical highwaymen then. Why couldn’t they be greedy bastards like everyone else?

Escape Plan Number Two.

Reaching into the mailbag, Pony pulled out the four carrots she’d pilfered from the company stables. She glanced at the vegetables, shrugged, and took a bite out of one. Then she proceeded to fling the orange darlings over her shoulder in two-second intervals.

High-pitched squeals of disgust and indignation answered.

Oh well. It’d been worth the try. Maybe they weren’t all animal after all. Or maybe centaurs were fussy eaters. Maybe she should’ve grabbed a salt brick instead. Then she could’ve brained them with it.

Escape Plan Number Three then.

The road continued to bend, the thick forest jutting into her direct line of sight. She darted for the ferns and scrub brush. Towering pines blotted out some of the sun’s glare—for a few seconds she was running blind.

Two centaurs armed with longbows jumped out in front of her. The younger one took aim at her heart.

Horseshit! She was speedy, but not quick enough to outrun a flying projectile. Gulping, she dropped into a slide, feet first. Gravel tore open her calloused palms and ripped holes into the back of her trousers.

Great. Bleeding in several places, and now she had clothes to repair. “Arggh!” She slammed slick fists to the ground. “What’s wrong with you swag-bellied tail-waggers? You’d shoot one of your own?”

Author Bio

Jeanne Marcella writes dramatic, and often character driven fantasy fiction not for the faint of heart. Quests, adventure, danger, and the grit of living are foremost, but relationships and mild romance might also share the pages.

Granted unlimited access to books at a very early age via the library, she quickly acquired a fondness for creating her own stories through word and drawing. She was born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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Audiobook Tour: Treasure Trail by Morgan Brice

Welcome author Morgan Brice and Gay Book Promotions as they host today's audio book tour stop for John Solo narrated Treasure Trail! Find out more about the paranormal romance today!


Book Title: Treasure Trail

Author: Morgan Brice

Publisher: Darkwind Press

Narrator: John Solo

Release Date: September 22, 2020

Genre: Romance paranormal MM romance

Trope/s: second chance at love, ex-law enforcement, wounded warriors, small vacation town, starting over, found family, paranormal abilities. 

Themes: letting go of the past, unfinished business, taking chances, following your heart, listening to intuition, finding where you fit in, learning to trust again.

Heat Rating: 4 flames      

Length: 7 hours and 12 minutes

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Buy Links

Audible US  |   Audible UK  |

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  


A cursed, haunted hotel. Old scandals and secrets that won’t stay buried.

Can Ben and Erik find the killer before they become Cape May’s newest ghosts?



Erik Mitchell traveled the world uncovering art fraud and relic theft, which pitted him against spoiled billionaires, unscrupulous collectors, mobsters, and cartels. He worked with law enforcement across the US and Europe, but then a sting goes wrong, Erik ends up injured and returns to find his partner cheating. He decides to stop globetrotting and buy an antique shop in scenic Cape May, New Jersey, rebuild his life, and nurse his broken heart.

Undercover Newark cop Ben Nolan went down in a hail of bullets when a bust went sideways, after a tip-off from a traitor inside the department. When he recovers, he spends a couple of years as a private investigator, only to tire of seeing the worst of human nature. So when his aunt offers him the chance to take over her rental real estate business in Cape May, it seems too good to be true. Now if he could just believe he could ever be lucky again in love.

Sparks fly when Erik and Ben meet. But when a cursed hotel's long-ago scandals resurface, the two men are pulled into a web of lies, danger, and deception that will test their bond - and might make them Cape May's newest ghosts!

About the Author  

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!  

Author Links

Website  |  Audible Profile  |  Amazon profile

Facebook Group  |   Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)  |  Twitter: @MorganBriceBook    

Sign up for my newsletter and never miss a new release

Read a copy of my Badlands short story Restless Nights here for free

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Hosted by Gay Book Promotions



Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

Blog Tour + Giveaway: Mazarin Blues (Hep Cats of Boise #1) by Al Hess

Author Al Hess and Indigo Marketing visit with the Mazarin Blues (Hep Cats of Boise #1) blog tour! Not only does the author give more info about the science fiction tale, they also share cocktail recipe called the Bee's Knees (yum!) and host a giveaway where 9 lucky winners can win an eBook copy of Mazarin Blues and a grand prize winner could win signed paperbacks of Mazarin Blues and Sable Dark (Hep Cats of Boise #1-2)!

Title: Mazarin Blues

Series: Hep Cats of Boise #1

Author: Al Hess

Publisher: Cozy Dystopia Press

Release Date: January 7, 2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, NB/NB

Length: 85k

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQ+

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Introvert Reed Rothwell is part of a subculture of art deco era enthusiasts, pushing back against bland mainstream society and its mandated technology. Stuck with an AI assistant in his head is bad enough, but when he's inflicted with a forced upgrade to a new beta version, named Mazarin, the navigator starts to take on feelings and opinions of his own.

When rumors spread of beta navs turning on their pilots, Reed is determined not to become a victim. Mazarin hasn’t become violent yet—the AI is sympathetic and understanding—but with beta participants coerced into slitting their own throats, it’s only a matter of time before Reed is next.

The AI megacorporation already has an unhealthy interest in Reed, and all the beta testers who have sought help for their navigators have disappeared. The swingin' cats of the deco scene have the means to illegally terminate Reed's AI. But Mazarin has never tried to harm Reed—he loves Reed.

Grappling with ridding himself of intrusive technology, the morality of hurting his self-aware AI, and avoiding the attention of a company that wants to sweep Reed’s existence under the rug might be too much for one hep cat to handle.


A bookcase faced Reed; antique tomes with thick leather or paper spines, creased from decades of use, lined the shelves. The bottom shelf held records in cardboard sleeves, the colors eye-searingly vibrant as they were replicas. Sometimes Reed entertained the idea of living in a time when books and shellac records were in every store. He’d seen photos of old time supermarkets, paperbacks and magazines filling racks next to the checkout lanes. The very idea! He pictured scooping up every travel adventure, every literary classic, and dumping them in his cart next to the ground sirloin and organic peas.

Slipping a Blue Devils platter from its sleeve, Reed set it gingerly on the player next to the bar and flipped the toggle. He set the needle against the grain and leaned back, closing his eyes as jaunty piano filled the den. Some purists only listened to original jazz and swing from the early twentieth century, but he loved it all. If he lived in a world with paperbacks on grocery store shelves, with plastic shopping carts colored cherry red, and cashiers bedecked in snarky enamel pins, he wouldn’t need to confine his love to his den. He could wallpaper the whole house, buy a couch to match the wingback chair, and burn that horrible landscape painting.

But he didn’t live in that time, and doing so now would mean not fitting in. When his delivery woman came to the door, she saw a man with carefully parted ginger curls, wearing neutral dress clothes and sensible shoes, standing in the entryway of a perfectly boring house, amid every other perfectly boring house on the cul de sac, and that’s the way it was going to stay.

Owning wood furniture and swing records and pink socks wasn’t a crime, but it may as well have been. His tortoiseshell glasses made him stand out much more than he liked, and only one person in a million ended up with eye surgery lasers malfunctioning and searing their brain, but he wasn’t going to be that .0001 percent.

A muffled thud rose above “Rejection on the Rocks.” Reed opened his eyes and pulled the needle off the record. How long had he been sitting here? The repairmen said they were leaving. Maybe Carter was still in the house, waiting for him to go to sleep. If the basement door was easy to break open, there was nothing stopping him from coming back whenever he wanted. There wasn’t a deadbolt on the outer basement door, and the repairmen had the access code to the knob. If he changed it, Jerry and the other men wouldn’t be able to get in come morning, and it would delay wrapping up this whole migraine of a house repair.

“Um, navigator? Mazarin?”

What’s wrong, Reed?

“Were you in sleep mode?”


“I heard a thud from somewhere in the house. Going to go check it out. If I’m stabbed to death with a rusty garden trowel, please don’t let them send me to that mortician on Cloverdale. He gives all his corpses grins the Joker would be jealous of.”

Duly noted, though if you die, so do I.

“You aren’t backed up on some server somewhere?”

Oh, my program is stored on servers at Wave, but in the event of your death, my memories would be lost. The program evolves to adapt to each pilot, and if I was reset, I doubt I would be the same. If I still had my consciousness at all. I suppose this is too much philosophical musing. At any rate, who I am right now—memories, knowledge, personality—could be backed up, but you’ve never done that.

He set his tumbler on the bar. “Do you… want me to do that?”

Why was he asking that? Navigators were software, not people. They didn’t have desires.

Mazarin paused far longer than seemed necessary. I wouldn’t want to exist without you.

Okay. That was a weird thing for his AI to say. But so many automated systems had such coddling language now. Mirrors that said you looked great, radios that insisted you had awesome taste in music. He supposed Mazarin wasn’t any different, though he couldn’t say for certain because he’d never really talked to it before, unless it was an irritated comeback. Giving him a better route to work or anticipating something he needed before he asked might not be so bad. And maybe it would anticipate his needs better if he treated it nicer. It was a silly thought, but this beta version was obviously different than his old version with pre-programmed responses.

He scraped his nail along the cut designs in his tumbler. “Well… you didn’t have trouble picking a name for yourself, so do whatever you think you need to. I, uh, I’m sorry if I’ve been rude to you in the past.”

I think you’re lovely, Reed. The real you that you hide from the world.

“O-kay.” That definitely sounded like an opinion, but he could worry about weird navigator responses later. Right now, he needed to address what was making thuds in the house.

Purchase at Amazon

Get book #2 in the Hep Cats of Boise Series

Sable Dark

Mazarin has everything an AI could want: a hep holographic body, a joyfriend she’s dizzy for, and asylum from Wave, the shady AI megacorporation that once held her captive. In their clutches, she’d been confined to the anxious brain of her host, Reed, serving as his navigator. Now separate, they enjoy a friendship and the knowledge that Wave’s lead engineer, Phil Rice, who terrorized them for months, is locked away in a court-ordered hospital stay.

But when Rice escapes, Reed’s stress skyrockets. Though Mazarin is no longer in Reed’s brain, their connection lingers, and she can’t resist the desire to stick close and protect them both from Wave. If Rice abducts Reed, it means certain death, and there’s no telling what the megacorp would do to Mazarin if she’s captured.

Reed’s sudden nosebleeds, paranoia, and skewed sense of perception lead Maz to believe more is at play than his galactic anxiety. With Rice on the loose, she can’t be too careful. Desperate for a solution to Reed’s deteriorating health, Mazarin risks her safety venturing into the company of untrustworthy AI, decoist gangsters, and even Wave themselves, to find help for her beloved pilot before it’s too late.

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Bee Sting recipe:

Em’s Gator Club on 8th Street has a secret knock, a back room full of illegal tech, and an iconic drink. The first time you enter, you have to have a Bee Sting. It’s tradition.

Here’s how to make this copacetic, Prohibition-inspired shot:

1 oz gin (I don’t recommend the bathtub variety)

1/4 oz honey

1/4 oz lemon juice

Pour ingredients into a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake well and strain into a shot glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

The cocktail version of this is called, of course, the Bee’s Knees.

Meet the Author


Al lives in the middle of the Nevada desert, and when not hunched before a computer screen, can be found hunched over an art desk. Author of the post-apocalyptic Travelers Series and the 1930s flavored dystopian series, Hep Cats of Boise, Al writes cozy and uplifting stories in normally gritty genres.

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Tour Schedule

1/7 Joyfully Jay

1/7 Boy Meets Boy Reviews

1/8 Queer Sci Fi

1/8 Love Bytes

1/9 Mickie B. Ashling

1/10 Never Hollowed By The Stare

1/10 The Faerie Review

1/11 Matt Doyle Media

1/11 Pine Enshrined Reviews


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Release Blitz: Blood Winter by S.J. Coles

Author S.J. Coles and Gay Book Promotions host today's release blitz for vampire forbidden romance, Blood Winter from Pride Publishing! Check it out today!


Book Title: Blood Winter

Author: S.J. Coles

Publisher:  Pride Publishing

Release Date: December 29, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Paranormal/Vampire Romance

Trope/s: Forbidden love, enemies to lovers, stuck together, rural romance

Themes:  Healing, belonging, finding acceptance, alternate reality

Heat Rating:  4 flames  

Length: 71 797 words/ 266 pages

There is a sequel planned.

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Buy Links

Pride Publishing  |   Amazon US  |   Amazon UK  


Vampires are attempting to integrate into human society.

When Alec MacCarthy first meets a ‘haemophile’ in the flesh, it’s not the obvious dangers that frighten him.


Alec MacCarthy, Lord of Aviemore and largely-forgotten descendent of a once-proud family line, keeps the wolf from the door of the crumbling family mansion by restoring classic cars.

He leaves the real world alone and wishes nothing more than for it to return the favor. But in a reality where haemophiles—still colloquially known as vampires, despite the publicity campaigns—have come out of hiding and are attempting to integrate into human society, the real world is rapidly becoming a disrupted and conflicted mess that threatens to trouble even Alec in his remote Scottish hideaway.

When he unwittingly attends a Blood Party to please a friend, he has his first meeting with one of these mysterious and dangerous beings. Terje is like nothing he has ever encountered before…literally. His reactions are as troublesome as they are undeniable.

Alec’s snap decision to help the haemophile rather than sample his sense-heightening and addictive blood sets them both on a path that will lead them into a tangled web of intrigue with consequences that will change their lives—and the world—forever.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, murder, kidnapping, blood stealing, drug use, addiction and blood drinking.


“You have questions.” He sat and uncorked the bottle. The electric lantern made his pale skin glow. It shone off his high cheekbones and the lines of his neck. His mouth was soft, his lips slightly curved, even at rest. I remembered it open, redder than blood, the teeth shockingly white and sharp. I remembered his hands, strong enough to crack the wood of the basement door, strong enough to break Brody’s bones. But now he sat easily in my kitchen chair, regarding me steadily with calm, entrancing eyes. He was terrifying, but he was beautiful, like a freezing winter morning in the very heart of the mountains. I bridled at the thought and dropped my gaze to the tabletop.

“How old are you?” I heard myself ask.

“Not old enough to have known Jacob More,” he said, with something like amusement in his voice.

“That’s not an answer.”

He still didn’t smile but something like humor flickered in the dark depths of his eyes. “I don’t know exactly. Over eighty, less than a hundred.”

“How do you not know how old you are?”

He lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug. “You stop counting after a while.” I narrowed my eyes and his mouth twitched. “And, well…at the time, it wasn’t considered important where I’m from.” His brow creased slightly, his eyes far away. “I remember the Second World War but not the first. Do I get to ask a question now?”

I chewed on the inside of my cheek, regarding him closely and trying not to think about the fluttering in my belly. “What question?”

“Is this really your home?”


He tilted his chin slightly. “I knew you must live here when we arrived. I could smell it. But the place looks like it belongs to someone else.”

Something prickled over the skin of my back. “Again, why do you care?”

“Just curious, like you.”

“I’m not curious about you,” I said in tight voice. “That’s not what this is.”

He inclined his head. “Very well. You don’t have to answer. Next question?”

I picked at a splinter on the table, not looking at him. “Daylight…”

“What about it?”

“Does it kill you?”


“Then why—?”

“The cellar?” He sipped his wine. His mouth was stained slightly pink. I hurriedly lifted my gaze. “We have to sleep, just like you do.”

“During the day?”

“We’re sensitive to sunlight,” he said slowly, factually. “We don’t produce melanin in the same way, so we burn easily. And it’s hard to see.”

“So you just…sleep?”

He frowned at his glass. “Not the way you sleep. The Blood requires us to…offline. Recharge.”

“Could you stay awake if you wanted? During the day?”

“Yes, though it’s hard. But the Blood wakes us if there’s a threat. Is it my turn now?”

I hesitated and reached for the other glass. “I thought you said you were supposed to answer my questions.”

“Polite conversation normally goes both ways.”

I fought a scowl. “We’re not exactly meeting at a dinner party here.”

“No,” he said softly, looking into the fire. “But that’s not my fault, is it?”




About the Author

S.J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.

She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.

Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.


Author Links

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Demon's Wish (Demon Mates #1) by Xenia Melzer

Author Xenia Melzer and Pride Publishing host today's release blitz for paranormal romance, Demon's Wish (Demon Mates #1)! Read more about the first in the new series and enter in the giveaway for a chance to win: SIGNED/PERSONALIZED COPIES OF BOOKS 1 & 2 IN THE CLUB WHISPER SERIES AND A $5.00 FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CODE!

Demon's Wish by Xenia Melzer

General Release Date: 5th January 2021

Format: EBOOK 

ISBN: 978-1-83943-091-6 

Word Count: 53,035 

Language: English 

Book Length: NOVEL 

Pages: 201



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Book Description

Finding love is hard—especially when you’re a demon and your potential mate is your sacrifice…

Sammy is content with running his bookshop and leading a book club consisting solely of paranormal creatures. Despite the persistence of his friends, he has resolved himself to a life without romance, since he doesn’t think anybody could find him and his tendency to spill useless knowledge whenever he gets nervous attractive.

Dresalantion is a demon prince and slightly—make that majorly—annoyed when somebody persistently tries to summon him. He finally decides to show up and put the fear of Dresalantion into his summoners but finds himself rescuing their sacrifice instead.

Sammy intrigues him from the get-go, and when Dre realizes that Sammy can get him the manga he’s been hunting for months—not to mention that he refuses a wish he offered him—the sexy demon decides to get to know this fascinating man better. Much better.

Reader advisory: This book contanis scenes of kidnapping and an attempted human sacrifice. 


“Is everybody set?”

Sammy looked around the group of people gathered in his bookstore. It was Wednesday, which meant there would be a book club meeting after closing hours. Their little group met at least twice every month to discuss books and interesting topics related to books, and Sammy loved it. It had formed half a year after he had opened his shop, Sammy’s Book Corner, and the participants had become something like a family to him, which he desperately needed after his parents had died five years before. He gazed around to make sure everybody had their stash of cookies—this time provided by Mavis and Maribell, the two witches—along with their favorite drink.

The delicious smell of freshly baked cookies mixed with the aroma of two hazelnut toffee lattes, the sharper tang of two Chai teas—heavy on the cinnamon—and his own hot chocolate before the familiar background scent of books, both old and new, made him once again congratulate himself on buying the fancy coffeemaker and establishing the little lounging area across from his cash counter. The members of their book club were seated on the four old couches around two low tables, getting comfortable.

Sammy was especially proud of this setup, since he had found all the furniture at flea markets and had given them each a do-over. The whiskey-colored leather couch hadn’t been much work. Just cleaning and treating the leather with a special balm had made the piece shine again. It now smelled faintly of beeswax, something that made Sammy crave a peppermint tea with honey every time he sat on it. The two chaises had required more effort. He had upholstered them and given them each a new cloth as well. Now customers could sit down on the colors of the rainbow to read their latest purchase. The last item was a lounger whose frame he had painted in pink then sprinkled with golden glitter for good measure. A turquoise throw made the piece stand out. One of the tables was covered in dots of various sizes and colors, and the other one had wall tattoos of Drogon and Smaug looking at each other on a black background.

Sammy was the first to admit that his artistic talent was closer to what a six-year old could produce than the fine artistry people with a real gift made, but he had done a good job with the furniture and his shop. Perhaps it was because he loved his little haven of books so much that it brought out the best in him. Except for the laptop in his office and the coffeemaker, nothing in the shop was new. Most everything had come from flea markets and garage sales, making for an interesting and charming mix of styles. Sammy had dedicated quite some time matching his books with the furniture. His antiques were stacked in open wardrobes that matched their age—or came close to it. The fantasy and science fiction books lived on shelves from IKEA, which he had sprayed silver. The romance books had found their home in old wooden wine crates that were clustered around the shop in small stacks of six to ten. Comics and manga were stashed in big boxes he had built from panoplies and painted in different hues of blue. The shop was Sammy’s idea of home, a feeling that seemed to convey itself, because most of his customers were regulars and loved hanging out in the place.

Sammy looked at his fellow book club members and adopted family and felt a brief shudder when he remembered their last meeting, where Amber the banshee had insisted on providing the baked goods. She might be four hundred years old, but just like every other banshee in the world, her baking skills were those of a blind man who had to find his way in a kitchen with both arms tied behind his back. Nonexistent. According to Emilia, the vampire in their group, this had something to do with their magic, which allowed them to pinpoint the exact time of death for every person. Apparently, the mixture of being able to look into the future without upsetting the balance of time and still warning people of their impending end didn’t go well with any kind of cooking. As to why exactly that was, Emilia couldn’t—or wouldn’t—tell. As the only human in a group of paranormals, Sammy had gotten used to not knowing everything. There was too much going on and he had learned soon after stepping into this world that ignorance truly was bliss in many cases where paranormals were involved. He would have preferred to know about Amber’s anti-talent in the kitchen, though, before he’d accepted her offer to bring snacks.

Per group vote, Amber had been banned from ever bringing sweets to the meetings again, even though Jon, the zombie living in the cellar under the bookshop, had later confessed to Sammy that the stone-hard lumps weren’t that bad, once one managed to get through the crust—the burnt, black crust that may or may not once have been sugar. Sammy swallowed hard. Just remembering the taste made his stomach revolt. And he hadn’t even been able to get to the core of the—he tried to find a fitting word for the deadly pieces of ballistic bakery and finally settled for ‘pastries’. Declan and Troy, the two werewolf alphas, as well as Emilia, had sharper teeth and more strength in their jaws, yet the looks on their faces when the crust gave way had been disturbing, to put it mildly.

“I don’t see what’s so different about these,” Amber declared with a pout while holding up a perfectly shaped chocolate chip cookie. Her pixie cut with the neon green hair went well with the huge, sapphire-green earrings, the thick golden chain with various amulets dangling from her neck, the five leather bracelets with Celtic runes etched into them and the approximately twelve rings she was wearing on her fingers. Compared to her jewelry, her outfit was plain—black skinny jeans, black sneakers and a black shirt with a sparkling unicorn on it, declaring Eat My Stardust, Suckers.

“The difference, my dear Amber, is that these cookies can be eaten without costing you a tooth. I’m so sorry to break this to you, but your baking skills are what I imagine Terry Pratchett had in mind when he created dwarf bread.”

Declan put one of the cookies in his mouth, munched on it with an expression of pure bliss on his ridiculously handsome face and gulped it down. He and Troy, who wasn’t there on that day due to business, looked like everybody’s wet dream. They were tall and had angular faces with chiseled jaws and sharp cheekbones, broad shoulders, slim hips, long, muscular legs and hair so thick and healthy that Sammy knew women would murder for it. Apparently, the good looks were part of the genetic makeup of shifters, but Sammy still found it almost offensive how perfect Declan and Troy were. Like two sides of a coin, one dark and dangerous, the other blond and…well, dangerous, they were a constant temptation for women and men alike. When they’d first joined the book club, Sammy had had some disturbingly hot dreams about threesomes with them and it had taken him almost four months until he had been able to put them firmly in the ‘friend zone’. It had helped—once they’d felt comfortable enough to relax during the meetings—to see their true selves. Because, no matter how perfect their looks were, the two werewolves were almost annoyingly arrogant and overconfident, as was typical for alphas—or so Sammy had been told by Jon. Their saving grace was a great sense of humor and their unusual choice of favorite book—Pride and Prejudice. After they had confessed this, nobody in their little circle was able to take them too seriously anymore, because how could somebody who loved the perfect book be a bad person? The posturing was just that—a fa├žade to frighten potential enemies away—and the paranormal world was full of those.

“Dwarf bread?” Amber lifted one of her meticulously plucked eyebrows, a hint of steel in her voice.

“Don’t take it to heart, dear. If you want, you can come over and maybe we can teach you how to get them right.”

Maribell smiled at Amber and patted her hand. The witch looked like a nice, elderly lady with her flower-print dress, the square handbag and the perfectly coiffed bun at the back of her head. Her thick black hair was infused with gray strands, and around her almond-shaped eyes—a heritage from her Asian father—laugh lines softened her features. Sammy knew better, though. Maribell reminded him of his first-grade teacher, Mrs. Smithson, who had been able to shut unruly pupils up with one stern look. Those who inspired her displeasure quickly learned that there was nothing worse than the wrath of a teacher provoked…except for the wrath of witches. And with Mavis and Maribell, the first lesson was also the last.

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About the Author

Xenia Melzer

Xenia Melzer was born and raised in a small village in the South of Bavaria. As one of nature's true chocoholics, she's always in search of the perfect chocolate experience. So far, she's had about a dozen truly remarkable ones. Despite having been in close proximity to the mountains all her life, she has never understood why so many people think snow sports are fun. There are neither chocolate nor horses involved and it's cold by definition, so where's the sense? She does not like beer either and has never been to the Oktoberfest – no quality chocolate there.

Even though her mind is preoccupied with various stories most of the time, Xenia has managed to get through school and university with surprisingly good grades. Right after school she met her one true love who showed her that reality is capable of producing some truly amazing love stories itself.

While she was having her two children, she started writing down the most persistent stories in her head as a way of relieving mommy-related stress symptoms. As it turned out, the stress-relief has now become a source of the same, albeit a positive one.

When she's not writing, she translates the stories of other authors into German, enjoys riding and running, spending time with her kids, and dancing with her husband. If you want to contact her, please visit either her website, or write her an email.


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Give Way by Valentine Wheeler

Join author Valentine Wheeler and IndiGo Marketing as they celebrate the release of Give Way! Find out more about the interracial contemporary romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway! 

Title: Give Way

Author: Valentine Wheeler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/04/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 31400

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, MM romance, men over 40, second chances, sexual discovery, interracial romance, retiree, mail carrier

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Kevin McNamara’s life after retirement is…fine. He has friends, a few consulting gigs, and an ex-wife he’s finally on good terms with. But when he meets an intriguing stranger–a rarity in close-knit Swanley, Massachusetts–in his apartment lobby, he can’t stop thinking about him or about the unexpected attraction that knocked him flat.

Awais Siddiqui never thought he’d want to come back to his childhood hometown, but when his grandmother falls ill, he’s the only one who can move back to help. Awais figures he’ll be back in a big city soon enough–but then a silver fox on his route catches his eye.

It’s never too late to accept a second chance at love.


Give Way
Valentine Wheeler © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Kevin McNamara was not having a good day.

As he trudged up the street toward his block, his building loomed ahead, five stories of forbidding concrete. His kids kept telling him he had to find a nicer apartment–he’d only meant for this one to be a stopping place after the divorce, but here he was fifteen years later, solidly into his retirement, still crammed into his tiny two-bedroom. It was fine. He didn’t have to mow a lawn, and most of the other residents were older people or divorced dads, so he fit right in. A few kids visited their fathers on weekends and livened things up, and it was close enough to downtown that he could walk to get whatever he needed. On less soggy, snowy days, a stroll home was appealing, but not after a four hour transit meeting in Boston and with gray slush soaking into his loafers.

As he pulled his keys from his pocket in the vestibule, ready to open the door to the lobby, tires crunched on the asphalt outside and he turned to see a mail truck pulling up. He pushed open the vestibule door and got ready to greet Doris–she’d been his mail lady for ten years, so she deserved a smile even if Kevin’s toes were numb. But instead of his compact, South Asian mail lady, he was surprised to see a man in a postal uniform standing on the sidewalk, tall, dark, and–well, attractive. He was staring at the front of the building, glancing down at the mail in his hands and back up again.

“Hi,” said the man. “This is 210 Washakum Avenue, right?”

Kevin nodded. “Yes, the two fell off the sign last week and nobody’s been by to fix it.” He wasn’t sure why he’d felt the need to explain and wished he hadn’t.

The man grinned, showing very white, very even teeth. They looked even brighter against his short beard and light brown skin, which even in December was a few shades warmer than Kevin’s ever got. “Great. I’ve got a couple packages here, and I really didn’t want to leave them out in all this wet.”

“Yeah,” said Kevin. “Um.” He glanced behind him at the door to his building’s lobby, feeling unaccountably flustered. “Doris usually leaves them inside. Is she not in today?”

The man nodded. “She took the day off, so I’m helping out. I can’t believe they approved the time. December’s usually a no-go for leave, you know? Busiest season for Santas like me and Doris.”

“I bet.” Kevin pushed the door open. “Here, I won’t let the door lock you out.”

“Oh, I’m sure Doris left me a key somewhere,” said the man. “Don’t want to hold you up. I’m helping deliver packages for my overtime, and I’m still learning the town.” He paused. “I’m Awais, by the way.”

“Kevin,” said Kevin. “And it’s fine. I’m happy to hold the door. I’m in no rush.”

“McNamara? Kevin McNamara, is that right?” asked Awais.

“How did you guess?”

Awais grinned again, this time showing a dimple in one cheek, barely visible under his close-trimmed beard. “You’ve got a package, man.”

Kevin swallowed as Awais gathered a tub of packages in his arms and brushed past him into the lobby. The door wasn’t wide and neither was the lobby. He set the tub on the floor and knelt beside it. His slacks hugged his thighs: they seemed tighter than the usual postal cut as he bent over. And was the foyer suddenly warm?

“Let’s see.” Awais dug in the tub, setting a few packages aside. Kevin stood awkwardly, still holding the door. Dropping it would be rude, and it would trap them together in the small space, but he’d been holding it open for what felt like a long time. “Okay. Here we go!” He pulled out a large manila envelope, stacked the rest of the packages back in the tub, and rose to his feet gracefully. He was slender, Kevin noticed, but his shoulders were broad enough that the small space was awkward with both of their nearly six foot frames crowding it. “Here,” said Awais, holding it out.

Kevin took it. His fingers brushed Awais’s, shockingly warm against his own chilled ones. “Thanks,” he said, putting a bit of his usual charm in his smile. He knew the effect it had on people, and maybe it would counteract the incredibly weird impression this guy was getting of him.

Awais smiled back. “No problem. Gift for the wife?”

Kevin blinked. “Um, no,” he said, flummoxed. “I’m single.” Divorced, he’d meant to say. But it was too late to correct himself without drawing attention to it.

Awais’s eyes widened for the briefest moment, then his smile stretched even further. He winked. “Well, the ladies are missing out then.” He slung his satchel back over his shoulder, brushing past Kevin again where he was standing, still holding the door like a chump. He smelled like snow and woods and a little bit of sweat. Kevin decided to pretend he hadn’t just smelled the guy. He couldn’t help it in the hot, steamy foyer.

Through the glass, Awais climbed back in his truck, slid the door closed, waved, and pulled away.

Kevin looked down at the envelope. He didn’t even remember what he’d ordered. He took a step backward and winced at the squelch. He’d completely forgotten about his soaked shoes.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Valentine is a latecomer to writing, though she’s always been a passionate reader. Through fanfiction she found her way to an incredible community of writers who’ve taught her to love making stories. When she isn’t writing, she’s making bad puns, yelling about television, or playing with her small child. Her life’s ambition is to eat the cuisine of every single country. Follow Valentine on Twitter


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Hunted and the Hind (Lost in Time #3) by A.L. Lester

Author A.L. Lester and IndiGo Marketing share The Hunted and the Hind (Lost in Time #3) release blitz! Find out more about the historical fantasy romantic suspense and enter in the giveaway to win your own e-reader cover! 


Title: The Hunted and the Hind

Series: Lost in Time #3

Author: A. L. Lester

Publisher: JMS Books LLC

Release Date: 30 December 2020

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/NB

Length: 40,000 words

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Mystery, Non-binary, Paranormal, Romantic Suspense, Historical, 1920s

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Inadvertently tumbling through the border after Fenn and then thrown into the middle of the internecine political disputes of their people, Sergeant Will Grant of the Metropolitan Police has spent three months in prison in the Underhalls of the Frem. When Fenn comes to free him and return him home through the border, he has very little time to work out what’s going on before the sudden appearance of Fenn’s missing younger sibling, Keren, throws Fenn for a loop.

Instead of returning them to London as planned, the trio step through the border to the Egyptian desert. Once they work out where they are, it’s a two week trip back to England with the possibility of pursuit both onboard ship and when they reach home.

Will the journey give Fenn and Will time to resolve the feelings they have been dancing around since the day they met? How will they keep Keren from recapture by the faction who tried to persuade Fenn they were dead? And has Will’s friend Alec forgiven Fenn for lying about their motives when they first traveled to London four months ago?

The Hunted and the Hind is the third and final book in the 1920s ‘Lost in Time’ trilogy. The books need to be read in order.


“Can I ride the one over there, please, Will Grant?” Keren called across the yard, pointing at creature with a white stripe down it’s face that they’d become enamored of earlier.

Will Grant nodded and came across the courtyard toward them. “You may. That was my intention, anyway.” They looked at Fenn. “Do you have animals you ride in the Outlands?” they asked.

Fenn stroked Olive’s nose. “Not like these,” they said. “These are beautiful creatures. We sometimes ride the antacas we use for pack animals. Some  people breed them for meat, too. They have horns and a very sharp spine. And are extremely bad tempered. They’re smaller than these, though. Bumpy.”

Will Grant leaned against the stable door next to Fenn, as Keren took themselves across the yard to quiz the horse-keeper. He rubbed at Olive’s ears absently. “You’re not bumpy, are you girl? No-one would dream of accusing you of such a dreadful thing!”

The horse shook its head and buffeted Will Grant’s stomach. He staggered a little against Fenn’s side and blew out a laugh. It was very strange to see them like this, out of their city clothes, in what Fenn assumed were special clothes for riding. The humans seemed to have a variety of different clothes for each task, rather than sensible clothing that would serve for most things. Here in private, both Fenn and Keren had donned the extra clothes made for them in Port Said, patterned more or less on their usual loose trousers and robes.

It was even stranger to see Will laugh like this. After the conversation with their parent this morning, Will had seemed to let go of a little of the tension that had gathered round them since this trip had been mooted. It was a nice look on them, Fenn decided. Underneath it all was the tension and sadness that was Will’s permanent signature. But a little of that had eased. Fenn wondered what it would take to ease the rest of it.

“Come on, then,” Will Grant said, straightening. “Let’s get Keren up and we can go out for a wander through the woods and down to the lake. And once we’re there we can try our kias out near the water. We’re lucky Mama has kept the stable going, with no-one but her here to ride.” He glanced around. “The men coming home needed the work.”

Fenn nodded. “Your parent is a good person,” they said, cautiously. “They reminded me of Ana. Very…,” they searched for an accurate, polite word.

Will Grant laughed. “Very, yes,” they said. Their eyes had softened. “I haven’t done right by her,” they said. “I’ve been too wrapped up in my own head. I should have come home before.”

“It doesn’t sound like you were ready,” Fenn replied. “Home is a difficult place to be, sometimes.”

Will Grant shook their head. “But still. She’s my mother and she lost all of us. Father died a few years before the war and she missed him dreadfully. It was a love match, I think. They spent a lot of time together, anyway.”

Both of them were leaning against the stable door now, talking quietly whilst they watched the bustle as the horse-keepers got animals out for them all to ride.

“Is that not always the case, here?” Fenn asked, curiously.

Will looked at them over Olive’s nose. “For Mama’s generation, not always. Sometimes, marrying well is more important than whether you have strong feelings for your potential partner. Making the marriage and producing children is the thing, you see.”

Fenn looked at him.

“Not for me,” they hastened to add. “Mama has given up trying to marry me off. She made it clear this morning that she has no expectations in that direction at all.” They hesitated. “She said, you are welcome to visit here, too. She knows that I…have feelings…for you.”

Fenn was silent for a moment. “I would be honored to visit them,” they said. “Whether or not you have feelings for me, Will Grant.” They felt the shiver of embarrassment in Will’s kias. Humans did not talk about this sort of thing, apparently. Probably because most of them didn’t have kias and had to articulate everything verbally. It was very graceless and left a lot of room for misunderstanding. How did people without any kias at all between them manage?

They gently opened the edges of their kias to Will Grant and allowed their own feelings to be felt. Admiration, friendship, desire, love. All of it. Will glanced over and smiled, clearly picking some of it up without even trying to reach back.

The two of them stood against the door in amicable silence until the chief horse-keeper called across the yard, “Ready, Mr William? I’ve got Peter tacked up for you, here!”

Will Grant started. “Coming, Ralph. Thank you.

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Meet the Author

Writer of queer, paranormal, historical, romantic suspense. Lives in the South West of England with Mr AL, two children, a badly behaved dachshund, a terrifying cat and some hens. Likes gardening but doesn't really have time or energy. Not musical. Doesn't much like telly. Non-binary. Chronically disabled. Has tedious fits.

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