Blog Tour + Giveaway: Hex Work (Babylon Boys #1) by TA Moore


Author T.A. Moore returns with the final stop of a new blog tour for new urban fantasy release, Hex Work (Babylon Boys #1) ! The author not only visits us but shares an excerpt from an exclusive short story prequel! And host an Amazon gift card giveaway! Good luck!
 

Title: Hex Work by TA Moore
Publisher: Rogue Firebird Press
Release: 23 November
Amazon Link:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B09H66B6GX/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3


Blurb:


My name is Jonah Carrow, and it’s been 300 days since I laid a hex.

OK, Jonah Carrow isn’t actually an alcoholic. But there’s no support group of lapsed hex-slingers in Jerusalem, so he’s got to make do. He goes for the bad coffee and the reminder that he just has to take normal one day at a time.

Unfortunately, his past isn’t willing to go down without a fight.

A chance encounter with a desperate Deborah Seddon, and a warning that ‘they’re watching’, pulls Jonah back into the world he’d tried to leave behind. Now he has to navigate ghosts, curses, and the hottest bad idea warlock he’s ever met…all without a single hex to his name.

But nobody ever said normal was easy. Not to Jonah anyhow.

Tour:


Hi! Can you believe it’s November already? I feel entirely adrift in the calendar these days. It’s 1934th of Morch! One thing I have managed to keep on track for, more or less, is the whole publication schedule for Hex Work...more or less!

Hex Work is NOT the book I was meant to be writing, but it’s the one that wanted to come out of my head. So I hope people like it in order to make the absolute shambles it made of my writing schedule worth it. I like it, so I guess that’s a good start!

Thanks for having me and I hope you enjoy the exclusive short story prequel to the Hex Work novella!

Read the rest of the story at TAMooreWrites.com

Stories of Babylon - Chapter Five

“Red string, red string, birth and death string,” Jonah said. He pulled a length of the string off, snapped it between his teeth, and flicked it out like a whip. “Red string chase you, away away away.”

The end of the thread tapped John’s cheek. The crust of chalk powder shattered and fell away as the string flared with bright, blue-sharp fire that flashed back down to sting Jonah’s fingers. For a second John sat--dead and bloody--on the seat. He looked at Jonah with desperate eyes and opened his mouth to say something--to ask something maybe--but he’d left it too late.

He faded away and was gone. Lot whined briefly in disappointment at losing his scratches, but then scrambled up into the front seat to stick his head out of the cracked window. His tail thumped against Jonah’s arm, hard as a whip.

Jonah shifted to the side and sucked his singed fingers as he drove. No-one lived on Zoba Road. There was a slaughter house halfway down the road, all high fences and muddy lots. Animals didn’t leave ghosts, not usually, but something big, slow, and sour with blood prowled the barns and squeezed between the livestock vans. It stank of glue and death, and it wasn’t friendly.

A few people had tried to build near here, the ugly practicality of industrial slaughter warded off by high fences and thick hedges. They always left, daunted by grassy, awful dreams and a stink that no amount of febreze could get off their clothes.

The thing in the slaughterhouse followed the Plymouth along the road, a darker shape against the darkness. Most of the dead were cold, but it steamed with bloody, animal heat that made Jonah sweat and itch.

He ignored it. Carrows dealt with the human dead, that was enough to have on their plate It stopped at the property line, just behind the fence, and watched Jonah roll into the dark. About half a mile on, nearly at the end of the road, Jonah saw a flicker of light in a field. He pulled in to the side of the road, the Plymouth tilted up as the tires mounted the verge, and checked the time.

Nearly midnight.

Not a good time to fight a ghost, but it wasn’t a good time to fight a Carrow either. Jonah grinned briefly to himself as he turned the engine off. He supposed that made the odds even.

Wife stuck her head between the seats and breathed on him, hot and dog-food meaty.

“You wait till you’re needed,” Jonah said.

He leaned over--gave Lot a quick scratch under the chin on the way by--and popped the glove box open. It was stuffed with the detritus of however long it had been since he last cleared it out. A jar of wormwood and nails, nails that had spilled out of the jar and he’d not cleaned up yet, and monopoly money that had been soaked in a tincture of black cohosh. He pushed them out of the way and grabbed the knife that had, as always, worked its way to the bottom.

It had been his Grandfather’s once. The old man had kept the flick knife tucked in his boot and sharpened it--patient and mindless--every Friday night while he drank whiskey and brooded. Jonah slid it into his pocket and didn’t bother to lock the car behind him as he headed to the gate.

A heavy chain was looped through the metal bars. It was new. The metal was smooth under Jonah’s touch, not rusted or stiff. He’d used enough magic tonight that he could feel it in his bones, eager to age the metal brittle or slip the pins of the padlock. That was the trick you had to watch for with magic, the urge to use more and more of it.

Gran had always said that the end of that road was at a gingerbread cottage deep in the woods, spackling up holes with buttercream.

Jonah climbed over the gate instead. The ground was dry and uneven, lined with stubble from the harvest. He didn’t bother to be quiet as he headed toward the old, patched up Airstream he could see in the moonlight.

Read the rest of the story on tamoorewrites!

Author Bio:

TA MOORE


TA Moore is a Northern Irish writer of romantic suspense, urban fantasy, and contemporary romance novels. A childhood in a rural, seaside town fostered in her a suspicious nature, a love of mystery, and a streak of black humour a mile wide. As her grandmother always said, ‘she’d laugh at a bad thing that one’, mind you, that was the pot calling the kettle black. TA Moore studied History, Irish mythology, English at University, mostly because she has always loved a good story. She has worked as a journalist, a finance manager, and in the arts sectors before she finally gave in to a lifelong desire to write.

Coffee, Doc Marten boots, and good friends are the essential things in life. Spiders, mayo, and heels are to be avoided.

Website: www.tamoorewrites.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TAMoorewrites/
Twitter: @tamoorewrites

| Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads |

Giveaway:

T.A. Moore is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour! Good luck!

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Crossed Lines (Summerskill and Lyon #4) by Steve Burford


The Crossed Lines (Summerskill and Lyon #4) release blitz is presented by author Steve Buford and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the latest and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Crossed Lines

Series: Summerskill and Lyon, Book Four

Author: Steve Burford

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/23/2021

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 69600

Genre: Contemporary Crime, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, crime, family-drama, gay, policeman, murder, gay and lesbian switchboard, MP

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Description

“Victor really was a very good man.”

Why then did someone brutally murder Victor Whyte, an elderly man chiefly known for his dedication to helping the gay community?

Inspector Claire Summerskill and Sergeant Dave Lyon investigate and are drawn into the world of the Hereford and Worcester Lesbian and Gay Switchboard, a telephone helpline for LGBQT+ people. Operatives and callers help piece together a picture of the murdered man, and gradually a surprising picture of Victor emerges with the possibility of a murderer in the very last place Summerskill and Lyon would have thought of.

Even as they deal with this latest case, the two officers are forced to deal with turning points in their personal lives. Can Claire balance the demands of her position as an inspector with those of her husband and children? Is Dave ready to settle into a relationship with earnest young police officer Joe Jones or will he opt instead for the excitement of an almost certainly shorter fling with charismatic MP Sean Cullen? And what exactly is Sean’s real motivation?

Crossing Lines is the fourth in the series of Summerskill and Lyon police procedural novels.

Excerpt

Crossed Lines
Steve Burford © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Dave Lyon examined the muscular, naked man smiling up at him from the sheepskin rug. “I’m a Power Bottom,” read the caption beneath him, “And I Always Have Safer Sex.” Dave sighed.

“Wishing you were curled up with him?” his immediate boss, DI Claire Summerskill, asked as she entered the cramped office. “Or is there only room on your rug for one other now?”

“You know you get very camp when you take the piss. Ma’am.”

Claire shrugged. “That was quite a longing look there. Love’s young dream isn’t fading already, is it?”

“Love’s young dream is, at this moment, on hold while Love’s young dreamers investigate a murder.” Dave indicated the poster they had been considering. “And actually, I was wondering why gay men have to be in such a rush to label themselves. ‘Top’. ‘Bottom’. ‘Passive’. ‘Submissive’. It’s more confusing than quantum physics.” He gave one last look at the happy stud on the rug, particularly at his magnificently rounded arse. “Still, this was in a good cause, I suppose.”

“Eyes back in your head and on me, Sergeant. Let’s have a look at what we’ve got here. Could you give us a moment, please, Maggie?”

The SOCO officer in whites put down her camera and stepped away from what she was photographing, revealing the figure of a man slumped in a chair in front of a desk. His face was distorted and blackened. Around his neck was a length of telephone cord wrapped several times and pulled tightly into the flesh.

“I’ve only seen one other person killed like this,” Claire said quietly.

“Bill Kilby.”

“Yeah. But he was a big man, prime of his life.” She grimaced. “Bit of a shit, too, as you’ll recall. But this. An old man. On his own.” She scanned the cramped room. “Surely there wasn’t anything of value here?”

“I wouldn’t have thought so,” Dave said. “We’ll find out soon enough, I suppose.”

Claire took a moment to imprint the unpleasant scene on her memory. She hated it, bitterly resented filling her mind with such vile imagery. But it was her job, and the only way to exorcise the picture was to find the bastard responsible for it, and if that meant sitting on any squeamishness she had till it was done, then that was what she would do. “All right, Maggie,” she said finally, gesturing for the SOCO officer to return to her work. She turned to Dave. “Let’s go and talk to these witnesses Chris has got for us and see if we can’t begin piecing together what’s gone down here.”

Summerskill and Lyon stepped out of the office and into a large, incongruously ornate hall. On three sides was a series of doors, all presumably leading to small offices or rooms similar to the one they had come out of. Above them, there was a mezzanine, with more doors all around that. White columns, presumably wooden but carved like something out of a Greek temple, reared up around the space, topped with gilded wreaths of what Claire assumed were meant to be laurel leaves. “What is this place?”

“How long have you lived in this city?” Dave reached for his notebook.

Claire scowled but couldn’t deny the implied criticism. The building they were in stood on the very edge of the city’s high street, its worn brick and wood exterior a sharp contrast to the clean-cut brightness of the metal and glass shop fronts surrounding it. Over the years she had lived in Worcester, Claire must have passed it several hundred times, either while on duty or when out shopping, but beyond its name, which was carved in stone over the impressive main double-door entrance, she realised she didn’t know anything about it at all.

“The Halo Centre,” Dave read from his pad. “Grade Two listed building. Built 1887 by the Congressional Church as a Sunday school. Repurposed as Vagabonds Nightclub, 1974. Repurposed again in 1990 as a centre for various arts and charity groups.” He flipped his notebook shut and slipped it back into his jacket pocket. “Including the Worcester and Hereford Gay and Lesbian Switchboard.”

“And what’s that when it’s at home? Some kind of hook-up operation?”

“It’s a telephone helpline. The sort of place you can turn to in the face of all too prevalent homophobia. And microaggression.” He gave his boss a look that he would have described as “jaundiced” and she would have dismissed as “sarky”. “The Centre is noted as having an unusual plan with offices in rows around a central two-storey hall with a gallery on columns in polygonal plan.’”

“You had time to look up and memorise all that, and you still got here before me?”

“Other way round, ma’am. I got here first and then had time to learn it. While I waited.”

Claire scowled at him again and strode out across the hall towards the small group of people gathered at the far end. “I might be slow in traffic, but you’d be amazed how fast I can bust mardy sergeants. Chris!” she called out.

Sergeant Chris McNeil looked up from the seated person he was dealing with. “Inspector. Sergeant.”

“What have we got?”

“Will you excuse me for a minute, please?” Sergeant McNeil stepped away from the man he’d been talking to and moved to one side so he could speak to Claire and Dave in a low voice. “You’ve seen the victim? Name is Victor Whyte. Midseventies. Was working for the Worcester and Hereford Lesbian and Gay Switchboard. That’s their office where you saw him. The Switchboard is for—”

“I know what the Switchboard is for,” Claire said. Dave coughed. She ignored him. “And these people are witnesses?” She indicated the man McNeil had been talking to and the woman across the hall who was also seated and being attended by a pair of paramedics.

“Kind of. Both that bit too late to stop the killer, and neither able to detain him. He was long gone before we got here, ma’am.”

Claire looked across to the seated woman. “Is she okay?”

“Slight bump on the head and a small amount of bleeding from a cut on her cheek. Nothing major. Bit shook up though.”

“Not surprising. And what were these two doing here at this time of night? Do they both work for the Switchboard?”

“The man does. He’s another Switchboard volunteer. The current chairman in fact. The woman is a cleaner for the Halo Centre. Works in all the offices.”

“Right. Pad out again, Sergeant,” she said to Dave. “Let’s go and talk to these people.”

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Steve Burford lives close to Worcester but rarely risks walking its streets. He has loaded conveyor belts in a factory, disassembled aeroplane seats, picked fruit on farms, and taught drama to teenagers but now spends his time writing in a variety of genres under a variety of names. He finds poverty an effective muse, and since his last book has once again been in trouble with the police. (He would like to thank the inventor of the speed camera.)

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Twelve Days of Murder by Jason Wrench

 

Happy Thanksgiving to our American unicorns! And to those who don't celebrate, happy Thursday to you! 

 Welcome author Jason Wrench and Pride Publishing as they promote Christmas romantic suspense, Twelve Days of Murder! Read more and enter in the First Romance gift card giveaway!

Twelve Days of Murder By Jason Wrench

Word Count: 65,722
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 257

 
Genres:

CHRISTMAS
CRIME
CRIME AND MYSTERY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
MEN IN UNIFORM
THRILLERS AND SUSPENSE

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Book Description

The holidays are hard enough for widowed NYC detective Frank Schultt without the gifts of a Christmas serial killer and a handsome FBI criminalist.

On the first day of Christmas, a serial killer gave to me, twelve holiday murders…

A killer is on the loose in New York City during the Christmas holidays and it’s up to NYC Detective Frank Schultt and his partner to figure out who the killer is and put a stop to it.

Five years before, during the Christmas season, the widowed detective had found his husband shot dead in a liquor store robbery. He’s finally on the mend and trying to get his life and career back on track, but this case might prove too much for his recovery.

A mysterious FBI criminalist named Aaron Massey is assigned to help him solve the crimes, but the witty and attractive profiler raises feelings in Frank that he doesn’t know how to handle.

Can Aaron help Frank break through his emotional walls fast enough to stop the killings, solve the case and fall in love before Christmas?

Reader advisory: This book contains vivid descriptions of crime scenes and body parts, plus a hostage scene with a shooting, references to drug addiction, trafficking and implied sexual abuse of children.

Excerpt

Mornings were never something Frank looked forward to. His usual routine consisted of waking up at around six a.m. and heading over to Club H, a couple of blocks from his walkup apartment in Hell’s Kitchen. Club H had all the trappings of a top-notch gay bar—pumping rhythms commonly heard at circuit parties, guys cruising each other left and right, hot, fit men as far as the eye could see. But Frank wasn’t interested in any of those. Frank came to Club H for its intended purpose—to work out. This particular morning would have to be cut short, as Frank was meeting his best friend Logan for breakfast before heading over to the precinct.

Frank arrived at the gym and stored his stuff in an available locker, noting the locker number in his head. 101… That shouldn’t be too hard to remember. He grabbed his iPhone, found the first free treadmill and started jogging. Frank found the early morning ritual a great way to clear his head. He increased the speed and incline, losing himself in his workout. He looked around at some of the younger guys in the gym. Many were over in the free-weight section, lifting weights with partners in an erotic exchange of muscle and steel. Frank had long ago realized that being ripped was less important than being healthy.

When Frank had been in the academy, one of his classmates—a tall, brutish guy named Theo—had stood out because of his bulging muscles and neck thicker than a Christmas ham. Unfortunately, the guy had ended up having a heart attack during his second week, due to having no cardiovascular ability at all. Sure, he may have made the Incredible Hulk a little jealous, but, as a cop, Frank had become aware that brawn didn’t get anyone very far if it wasn’t equally matched with stamina.

Frank looked around the room and nodded politely to some guys he’d known over the years. Jerry was over in the corner with his new boyfriend, Seth. Frank had met Jerry about three years ago in a back room at The Eagle, an NYC bar that catered to people looking for edgier sexual experiences. After Adam had been murdered in the liquor-store burglary almost five years earlier, Frank had tried to find solace in a range of sexual fetishes. As each one failed to make him feel whole, he’d moved on to something even edgier. He’d also started doing some light drugs and graduated to crystal meth, fearing each day he’d be randomly drug tested. He was good at keeping up appearances at work and never did drugs that required a needle.

His wake-up call had happened while sitting in a trailer getting ready for a porn shoot he’d impulsively agreed to do. He’d caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror and just hadn’t liked what was looking back. His body, while still in shape, had just looked worn down. His eyes were sunken into his head and his cheekbones were visible. He’d looked like a slightly healthier version of an Egyptian mummy. In that one glimpse, he’d seen more than his physical appearance. He’d seen his future. The one porn shoot could easily get him censured or thrown out of the NYPD altogether. Frank had grabbed his duffle bag and headed home. He’d told no one he was leaving. He’d just left.

He’d gone right from the porn set to his Chief’s office and admitted he had a problem with drugs. Since Frank had come in voluntarily, the NYPD had allowed him to enter rehab and he’d never been disciplined. Still, he’d been required to receive random drug tests regularly for a year to ensure he wasn’t relapsing. That had been a year and a half ago, and Frank had thrown himself into getting straightened out physically.

After finishing his six-mile run, he grabbed his towel and iPhone and hit the showers. Although showers in most gyms took on a certain homoerotic quality, Club H’s were notorious for hookups. Frank had learned long ago to just go in, shower and pay no attention to anyone around him. He toweled off and got dressed, throwing his dirty gym clothes into his duffle bag. As he was leaving, he heard two guys having sex in the steam room. He thought about warning them that Club H was a public space and that sex was technically illegal there but decided it wasn’t worth his time.

As Frank exited Club H, the cold morning air hit his warm face like a thousand little icicles. Frank pulled out his cell phone and dialed Logan’s number. “You up and at ‘em yet?”

“As a matter of fact, I’m already at the Midtown Diner.”

“Great. I just got out of the gym, so I should be there in ten minutes. Order me the usual.”

“Sure thing.”

Frank hung up his cell phone, putting his AirPods in his ears. “Siri, check messages.” A female electronic voice informed him that he had zero new messages. Frank had Siri play his favorite podcast as he continued trekking down East Forty-Third Street, crossing Broadway and heading toward Central Park. Frank liked it when he was by himself, alone in his head, taking in the early morning rush that was Midtown at eight a.m. Midtown had more foot traffic by that time than most cities did in an entire day.

Ahead, Frank recognized the yellow-and-purple awning, the entryway to the Midtown Diner. Frank and Logan often met there for breakfast, as it was near both Frank’s precinct and Logan’s law office. Logan and Frank had been friends at the Leysin American School in Switzerland. It was a boarding high school. Frank’s parents owned Schultt Pharmaceuticals and had sent Frank there since both of them had been too busy with their own lives to worry about their son. When he’d graduated from high school, Frank had come back to the States and gone to Yale, where he’d majored in business, the heir apparent to the Schultt empire. Instead, Frank had come out right after graduation and his family had disowned him. The blowup had happened when Frank had told his father he was gay. Those had been the last words Frank had ever spoken to his folks. He’d dropped off the map for a while, moved to New York, got a master’s degree in Criminal Justice from New York University, joined the academy and the rest was history.

Frank took off his coat and hung it on a peg inside the door as he entered the diner. He looked around and found Logan sitting at a table reading The New York Times.

“How’s my favorite useless attorney?”

“I’m not useless. Real-estate law is an important branch of law in this town, mister.”

“Oh yes, helping all those fat cats who own this city get richer and richer while the lower and middle classes end up committing crimes just to make it by.”

“Dear God, what a sob story. Just because you think everything is a matter of who’s getting screwed and who’s screwing, don’t bring my job into it.” Logan looked at Frank and smiled, likely knowing full well that this would hardly be the last time this little conversation would occur. “So, any hot guys at the gym today?”

“Remember Jerry?”

“The leather dude?”

“That’s the one. Well, he was there with his newest ‘thing’.” Frank always told Logan everything that was going on in his life, even the seedier parts. Unlike most people, Logan never outwardly judged. Frank could tell when Logan wasn’t happy with him, and Frank never wanted to hurt or disappoint him. So, when he did, he knew he’d screwed up royally.

The waitress arrived at the table and put a plate with two pieces of bacon, two eggs and two sausage links in front of Frank. She came back a minute later and freshened Logan’s cup of coffee.

“So, Frank, how are you doing? I know you don’t want to talk about it, but dammit, I’m your best friend and have the right to be concerned.”

“Logan, I’m fine. Don’t worry.”

“Well, we’re creeping up on the fifth anniv—”

“I know, so drop it.” Ever since Adam’s murder, Frank had kept that part of his past bottled inside, refusing to release it. Once or twice a year, Logan would check in and see if Frank was ready to open up, but he never was.

“Oh, I was watching It’s a Wonderful Life last night with Ben. He says ‘hi’, by the way.”

“How’s that new show of his going?”

“Well, the soap is officially canceled. Apparently, America wasn’t ready for a daytime science-fiction soap opera.”

“Even hearing you talk about it sounds like a bad idea.”

“I know… Tell me about it. But Ben was so proud of being on another soap. Anyway, he has been cast in the off-Broadway revival of Arthur Bicknell’s Moose Murders.”

“Now, I’m not exactly a Broadway aficionado, but what the hell is that?”

“Yeah, that was my response. Apparently, it was some play from the 1990s that was a huge flop. I googled it. The story sucks and should never have been revived, but I’ve got to be supportive, nonetheless.”

Frank laughed and choked on his coffee. “So, why’d you bring up It’s a Wonderful Life?”

“Oh, Ben and I always watch it a couple of times each Christmas season and again on Christmas…” He realized what he’d just said to Frank. “Oh God, I’m so sorry. I totally forgot for a moment…”

“It’s okay. I hate that film. It’s so fucking sappy. Every time a bell rings an angel has its wings ripped off and is bludgeoned to death.”

“Well, hello, Scrooge McScrooge. Talk about jaded.”

Frank was about to make a comeback when his pants pocket vibrated. He pulled out his phone. “I’ve got to get this,” he told Logan. “Detective Schultt… Oh, hey, Jasika… There’s a what? At FAO Schwarz? Okay, I’ll be there in about ten minutes, depending on how many tourists get in my way.”

“What was that about?” questioned Logan.

“They’ve found a body part over at FAO Schwarz, hung like a Christmas ornament. You call me jaded. I may hate this fucking holiday, but at least I’m not hiding body parts in a toy store.” Frank took out his wallet and threw down enough cash to cover his meal and coffee. “I’ll talk to you later.” With that, Frank turned and headed toward the door, grabbing his coat as he walked back outside into the December cold.

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About the Author

Jason Wrench

Jason Wrench is a professor in the Department of Communication at SUNY New Paltz and has authored/edited 15+ books and over 35 academic research articles. He is also an avid reader and regularly reviews books for publishers in a wide number of genres. This book marks his first full-length work of fiction. Find out more about Jason at his website.

Giveaway

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Notice: This competition ends on 30th November 2021 at 12am EST. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group. 

Review: Crooked Shadows (Whitethorn Agency #2) by M.A. Grant

Everyone has secrets. Especially those who live in the shadows.

Cristian Slava doesn’t fear much. After he was betrayed by the man he called an uncle, leaving upstate New York for the Carpathian Mountains of his childhood is more a matter of practicality than fear. With him is Atlas Kinkaid, a former marine turned fierce bodyguard…and fierce lover, albeit a hell of a complicated one.

Cristian’s cunning is tested by the politics and intrigue of the vampire families of Romania, and the warm welcome he and Atlas were assured of quickly turns to ash as they race to unravel the mystery of an old friend’s disappearance. Searching for the missing vampire draws them into a web of betrayal and half-truths that reaches further than Cristian ever could have imagined, and they uncover a string of grisly murders that bear a striking similarity to the attack that changed Atlas’s life forever.

Stalked by the past and uncertain of the future, Cristian learns he does have something to fear after all…

Losing the man he loves.



Starting immediately after Rare Vigilance ends, our heroes Cristian and Atlas are on the run for their lives determined to find some answers about strange monstrous attacks that have made their way across the ocean to the United States. As they wend themselves throughout Cristian’s birthplace of Romania, the very place that still haunts Atlas’s nightmares from his military past, these two really truly need to get their shit together if they’re going to survive another day.

This time the story is told from Cristian’s POV, lending more insight to the enigmatic character who has seen and suffered much, who has maybe skirted/avoided his responsibilities a lot, but is now ready to do anything to help save himself, his lover, and his father’s empire. As other reviewers have said, this is more steeped in the mystery, trying to find who is hunting fellow vampires, investigating a friend’s mysterious disappearance, and avoiding the brutal machinations of a clan that won’t take no for an answer, all the while landing smack dab in the middle of a decades in the making power grab.

To say the least, this was atmospheric and dark, heavy with paranoia, as Grant further expands on the paranormal world she has created. There’s a very complex plot being woven here that is not quite finished, and the reader is lured by the growing bond between Cristian and Atlas (along with my utter disbelief that bodyguard Atlas’s only weapon is a small silver sword) amongst a compelling setup where enemies are a dime a dozen, true allies are a rarity if at all, and betrayal around every corner should always be expected.

Overall, an intense read with a very appreciated organic plausible growing romance. Some questions were answered, but be forewarned that this ends abruptly on one hell of a cliffhanger! The next book to come will indeed be a very long wait!



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Mongrel by Lee Colgin


Author Lee Colgin and Gay Book Promotions share new release info for Mongrel! If you enjoy historical paranormal romances, check out today's blitz! Plus, enter in the Kingsumo giveaway for a chance to win a series and an Amazon gift card!
 

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Mongrel

Author: Lee Colgin

Publisher: Colgin Enterprise

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Release Date: November 18, 2021

Genre: MM Paranormal Romance

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length:  76 000 words

It is a standalone story and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads 

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

A misfit wolf

A guilt-ridden vampire

A chilling mystery

Blurb  

Mongrel, a creature more wolf than man, leads a lonely life on the fringes of pack society—until the night a handsome vampire shows up with a mysterious request.

Bowie—a vampire cursed to a life of endless nights—maintains close ties with his human family. When young girls in their village go missing, he must act quickly. But to find them, he’ll need to convince the local werewolf pack to loan him their best tracker—a wolf known as the Mongrel.

Though he hates the slur, Andras is used to being called Mongrel. When Bowie refuses to refer to him by anything but his given name, Andras can’t help a flicker of unexpected trust toward the stranger. He volunteers to help Bowie, risking banishment.

Can two tender-hearted men overcome their traumatic pasts and work together to rescue the girls before it’s too late? Or will the world’s most prolific killer snuff the flames of their passion along with the lives of her captives?

***

This steamy love story spans the country of Hungary as Andras and Bowie journey through cities and wilderness on their quest to right a killer’s wicked wrongs. Mongrel features a sweetly possessive werewolf, a cinnamon roll of a vampire, and the worst serial killer in history. A surprisingly fluffy MM Paranormal/Historical Romance considering the subject matter.   

HEA guaranteed with loads of laughs along the way and no cliffhanger ending!

Excerpt 

The Kingdom of Hungary, 1610

I watch the ground pass by beneath my paws rather than risk meeting the eyes of the other wolves. They probably aren’t looking anyway, having better things to do than greet the mongrel, even on a full moon. I’ve spent so long pretending not to care it’s almost worked. Who needs them? Not me.

I give a full-body shake to settle my fur how I like it and amble toward the heart of the village, a cool night breeze keeping me company. The chattering of insects pings from the forest beyond a row of humble cottages as I continue past.

Anticipating tonight’s run has me eager. I imagine the frantic heartbeat of my prey as I target my dinner. Pent-up energy dances in my muscles, tickling every nerve and rumbling in my chest. 

I love the hunt. Nothing else in my life brings the satisfaction I take from stalking, chasing, and tearing into my prize. It’s one of the few activities where the others tolerate my presence. Though they’ll never admit I’m the better predator, they’re always willing to devour the feast I provide.

Only Ava treats me as equal. She’s too old and frail to hunt for herself these days, but I’ll be sure to bring her a choice portion. Nothing beats a fresh meal, and she deserves the pleasure more than anyone.

It wasn’t always like this. I had friends once when childhood still sang with innocence and the world had yet to slam its doors on me. But remembering better times only brings sorrow, so I move forward to whatever tonight might hold.

Voices sound from fifty paces ahead. Odd because most of the pack would normally have shifted by dusk. Among them, a voice I don’t recognize floats to my ears.

“I must speak with your alpha,” says a smooth tenor, calm, though his timbre vibrates with urgency. “The matter is vital.”

Risking an upward glance, I scan the gathering. Jolan and Ozor, the pack’s enforcers, stand in their human forms facing the speaker, both tense and braced for a fight. But the stranger’s posture isn’t threatening. He’s neat, wearing charcoal stockings under a crisp blue tunic. Knee-high black boots gleam with a recent polish. Spine straight, shoulders back, weight settled in the heels, not the toes. Nut-brown hair hangs tied at his nape, most of it hidden beneath a fashionable black hat. If his features weren’t puckered with annoyance, he might be handsome. 

I creep closer on silent paws, ears flicked forward.

“We’re busy,” barks Ozor. “Or hadn’t you noticed the moon? Come back another night.”

The stranger’s lips part, but before he can reply, Farkas storms through his front door.

Clad only in a pair of worn tan breeches, the pack alpha thunders down the porch stairs and into the commons. Even barefoot, Farkas is intimidating, towering head and shoulders over the others. His black eyes land on the stranger in a threatening glower, but the man isn’t shaken.

“You’re the alpha, I presume?” The stranger extends a hand, his movement graceful, as if he’s been invited to a friendly tea instead of invading hostile werewolf territory on a full moon.

Farkas ignores the proffered hand. “Your kind isn’t welcome here.”

Your kind. Wondering what that means, I inch forward so I can scent him for myself.

The stranger returns his arm to his side, fingers curled but not fisted. “And you have my apologies, but this couldn’t be avoided.” His eyebrows arch as he inclines his head. “We must speak.”

I sniff the air. His scent is masked by soaps. Lavender was used for his clothes, rose for his skin and hair, but beneath the added fragrance lies the spiced scent of blood—his own, yes, but also…someone else’s? That’s odd.

“Then speak,” growls Farkas. “What do you want from me, vampire?”

A vampire! I’ve never seen one before. He looks so…human. Fragile. Not what I’d expect of a blood-drinking night terror at all. 

About the Author 

Lee Colgin has loved vampires since she read Dracula on a hot, sunny beach at 13 years old. She lives in North Carolina with lots of dogs and her husband. No, he's not a vampire, but she loves him anyway. Lee likes to workout so she can eat the maximum amount of cookies with her pizza. Ask her how much she can bench press.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: A Highland Hogmanay (Christmas Masquerade #2) by Meg Mardell


Author Meg Mardell and IndiGo Marketing host a release blitz for new Christmas historical, A Highland Hogmanay (Christmas Masquerade #2)!  Find out about the Highlanders and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!
 

Title: A Highland Hogmanay

Series: Christmas Masquerade, Book Two

Author: Meg Mardell

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/23/2021

Heat Level: 1 - No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 37700

Genre: Historical holiday, LGBTQIA+, historical, Victorian England, holiday, Christmas, Scottish Highlands, lesbian, wlw, mistaken identity, humorous, family drama, interracial, intercultural, road trip, age gap

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Description

The daughter of an Indian raja and renegade Englishwoman, Sharda Holkar, was gifted with a magnificent dowry but little say in her future. Until now. She must endure one more depressing holiday season with her controlling cousins, then she will be free to begin her emancipated life. But her discovery of a plot to marry her off to the preening son of the house has Sharda wondering if her new start should begin at once. When Sharda meets the intriguing owner of a Highland castle at a Christmas Eve masquerade, she wastes no time in forming a plan—she will escape across the Scottish border!

Finella Forbes cannot imagine why a sophisticated heiress like Sharda would even associate with someone who manages a castle for a living, let alone accompany her all the way back to the Highlands in time for the raucous celebration of Hogmanay. But a wealthy buyer is just what Balintore Castle needs. Fin is determined to prove she is just as good an estate manager as her father, but with the negligent lordly owner refusing to do his duty, she needs help fast. When mistaken assumptions jeopardise their initial attraction, Sharda and Fin will need all the mischief and magic of a Highland holiday to discover the true nature of their feelings.

Excerpt

A Highland Hogmanay
Meg Mardell © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“It’s getting quite sticky in here, isn’t it? Don’t these people perspire a lot in their ridiculous costumes? But the fools will insist upon picking characters that require false beards and headwraps and the lot. What do they expect?”

Mr Edward Pilkington watched the white-masked Pierrots and Pierrettes rotating around the Mayfair ballroom the same way he looked at everything else—right down his upturned nose. Of course, on this occasion, he might just be stopping his own mask from slipping.

“I must say, I consider it in poor taste of Lady Belleville to host such a gaudy entertainment on Christmas Eve. There’s enough blinding d├ęcor in every home and shop window without humans dressing like a bunch of tinsel ornaments.”

Sharda thought the display of Venetian masks in gold, silver, and red rather complemented the miles of glittering white ribbon their hostess had threaded around her every enormous window and door. But five days of Edward’s persistent company had taught her to neither agree nor disagree with his frequent judgements as both fanned the flames of his perpetual dissatisfaction.

“Perhaps you now see, Miss Holkar, the wisdom of my selection of attire. A simple mask and fancywork vest, and perhaps a sash, is really all that is required on these occasions.”

“For women as well as men?”

Sharda’s costume took its inspiration from the opulent carnival style of Venetian women from the height of that city’s pomp and power two centuries back. Her square-necked black silk gown cut away to a blaze of scarlet underskirt. Tiny stitched-in crystals covered the tight scarlet front bodice as well as her matching silk hat. Jutting out over one eye, the bold topper terminated in a cascade of black feathers that brushed her black half mask. Edward’s mother, one of Sharda’s inexhaustible supply of second and third cousins, had tried to convince her to wear what that lady was pleased to call her “native finery.” But when Sharda had insisted on purchasing a new costume for the ball, Lavinia Pilkington had graciously conceded that the Venetian style looked well on Sharda, for “many ladies of the Italian peninsula are quite of your complexion, my dear.”

The lady’s son was equally talented at giving compliments.

“A bit of exotic finery is not amiss on a woman. Provided she’s young, of course. There’s nothing more displeasing than an old woman got up like the Queen of Sheba. Now, perhaps I can see if these insolent Turks of footmen have some iced sherbet. You must be awfully hot in all your…” The gentleman gestured to Sharda’s hat. “Er, not that you look to any disadvantage or are…” The gentleman sought in vain for an acceptable substitute for sweating.

Sharda suddenly wished she had selected a full mask to hide her private mirth. She should not find it so amusing when Edward remembered, too late, that he was trying to woo her. Though maybe if she did not find the clumsy courtship so funny, she might cry.

“Or perhaps you would like to take the air in the garden, Miss Holkar? And escape this dreadful crush.”

“They seem to have brought much of the garden in here, Mr Pilkington.”

She gratefully caught the crisp scent of the evergreen branches that wrapped every available railing in Lady Belleville’s house. A delicious freshness that made one forget one was in London.

“Hmm, yes, quite. But then you don’t have the same animal noises outside, of course. It’s much easier to talk.”

She had not noticed the noise of the ballroom impairing his ability to talk in the slightest. But she knew what type of conversation he had in mind. He wasn’t the first young man to try to negotiate her out onto a cool veranda.

“Perhaps I would like an ice, Mr Pilkington. If you would be so kind.”

“Yes, of course… Though it will be a dreadful ordeal making my way over to the refreshment area now… No matter. I will see that you get your ice…my lady.”

Sharda took a few calming inhales of the pine-and-wood-polish scent of the Belleville townhouse. Now she could face Lavinia Pilkington, a spare lady fluffed up with a great deal of feathers, descending upon her beside a very grand person in purple.

“Here she is, Lady Belleville. I thought we should have to send some of your splendid footmen in search.”

“That might have proved difficult. I have my own runaway to locate, Mrs Pilkington. My wretched nephew.”

Lavinia trilled a nervous laugh, unable to tell if this was a joke.

“This is my young friend, Miss Sharda Holkar, who is staying the holidays with us. Sharda, meet Lady Belleville.”

“I do like your hat, Miss Holkar. You need a bit of height for such a topper. I, alas, have always extended out rather than up. I do envy women who can carry off such plumage. You are enjoying the ball?”

“Yes, indeed, ma’am.”

“And you’ve been dancing?”

“Not yet.”

“Oh dear, I do like young people to dance.”

“Do not worry, your ladyship. I am sure my son Edward will do the honours soon.”

“Excellent. Now, you must excuse me, for I hear my dear husband’s growl even now. I should make at least a half-hearted attempt to save my guests from his best Scrooge impersonation, should I not?”

Sharda and her cousin each dipped a curtsy—Lavinia’s embarrassingly low—to their hostess as she moved back into the crowd like the prow of a ship easily carving a path through lesser crafts. Sharda was left stranded on an island of two.

“I do hope you truly intend to dance as you promised Lady Belleville. And what did you think of her ladyship? Quite a superior person, I think, but Edward says she wears too many jewels for true breeding. I only wish I had such a problem! Whatever is taking Edward so long, do you think?”

Lavinia had a fidgety manner that made it impossible to relax in her company. After nearly a week as her guest, Sharda was almost as high-strung as her hostess. The prospect of enduring even another five minutes with this wearisome woman was unbearable. Especially as her only reward would be to eat a melted ice and then dance in Edward Pilkington’s sticky grip.

“He promised me he would return very soon. Perhaps I might wait for him in the garden, Mrs Pilkington?”

Lavinia’s eyes glittered behind her feathered mask.

“Ah, yes, that would be an excellent idea. It is far too noisy and hot in here.”

“Should you like to come with me, cousin?”

“Oh, no. No, no. I declare I see my dear friend Mrs, er…Bamtree just over there. But you go right ahead, my dear.”

Sharda needed no further encouragement.

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Meet the Author

Meg moved from the US to England because she fell in love with the Victorians’ peculiar blend of glamour and grime. After a decade of exploring historical excesses in a prim scholarly fashion, she realized that fiction is the best way to delve into that period’s great female-focused and LGBT+ stories. Weaned on the high-seas romances of the 1990s, Meg’s lost none of her love for cross-dressing cabin boys but any tolerance for boorish heroes. She’s delighted to now have a whole raft of quirky and queer characters to cheer for on their quest for Happily Ever After. She frequently breaks off writing for an Earl Grey tea (milk not lemon). She’s trying to learn Polish and Portuguese at the same time. She plans to escape Brexit Britain.

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Release Blitz: Fractured Mind (Fractured Boys #2) by Matthew Dante


 

Author Matthew Dante and Gay Book Promotions share new release info for dark thriller, Fractured Mind (Fractured Boys #2)! Read more today!

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Fractured Mind

Author: Matthew Dante

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: The Ravens Touch 

Release Date:  November 18, 2021

Genre: M/M Thriller

Tropes: Obsessive love

Themes: Dark Romance, obsession, revenge

Heat Rating: 3 flames       

Length: 60 000 words/ 300 pages

It is the second book in the Fractured Boys series and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

There is nothing more dangerous than a man alone with his thoughts.

Blurb

People have been disappearing all across the State with no apparent connection to one another. Police are baffled and struggling to determine if the disappearances are connected or are simply isolated incidents. There are no bodies or evidence- only abandoned vehicles and missing persons reports. 

Meanwhile, Alex Sanders is battling his own demons... 

Almost a year after surviving a horrific weekend held captive by his former best friend, Marc, Alex is now a freshman at the University of Tennessee. Desperately trying to start over, he is consumed with depression, anxiety, and guilt for the murder that he helped cover up. Always fearful of being discovered, Alex can’t help but wonder, is Marc still secretly watching him? 

Could Marc's obsession with him have something to do with the current flood of disappearances across the State? 

All things seem to lead back to that fateful weekend… the one that started with murder … and ended in betrayal.


Warning: This book contains scenes which may be considered triggering events for some involving extreme violence, murder, kidnapping, and torture.

Excerpt 

Alex had never felt such excruciating pain! It was as if his shoulder was leaning against a furnace during a winter blizzard. His shoulder was on fire, and he began to see stars in front of his eyes. He wished for the pain to stop! Please, God, if you are watching, please make this pain stop! I’ll do anything you ask! I’m sorry I was not a better man! 

Perhaps this was karma finally catching up to him for the role he played in Shawn’s death. While Alex was not the one that ultimately ended Shawn’s life, he also did nothing to report the murder or try to find Marc and bring him to justice. 

Yes, Karma was finally here to collect.

The figure standing in front of Alex slowly began to turn the blade as blood and flesh began to tear aware from his body. 

Alex cried out again in pain as his tears mixed with the blood that now slid down his arm and onto the straws of hay that peppered the ground of the barn.

He deserved this. He watched a man die and remained silent. Alex was finally getting what he deserved. 

Alex’s cry of pain was cut short as his face was splashed with a warm liquid. He opened his eyes startled, just in time to watch his torturer fall to the ground with a thump. Puzzled, Alex looked up.

Standing in front of him, holding a blood-stained bat, was his demon savior… the man who had caused so much pain in his life… the man whom he once cared for deeply… Marc. 

“Marc?” Alex whispered, half in shock, half in disbelief. 

This had to be one of his hallucinations brought on by the pain he was enduring. There was no way that Marc was standing right in front of him. No way.

Marc dropped the bloody bat and pulled the butterfly blade from his back pocket. He knelt down and gently touched Alex’s tear-stained face. 

Alex felt a slight tingling sensation when Marc’s fingertips touched his face. It was as if a thousand little electric currents were running from Marc’s fingers to his cheek.   

Alex stared up into Marc’s soft brown eyes. There was so much emotion in those eyes; fear, anger, and a hint of something else… longing?? 

Staring into those eyes, Alex thought about the countless nights the two of them stayed up late chatting together. The days when it had just been the two of them, living in a simpler world. A world before all the pain, murder, and betrayal. 

Yes, Alex had broken Marc’s heart when he refused to help him deal with Shawn’s dead body- a murder Marc had committed in order to protect Alex. But being here now, staring into Alex’s soulful eyes, it seemed as though all that had been forgotten by Marc. Marc was staring at Alex with such loving eyes.  

“I’m here now. Everything will be okay, I promise,” Marc blurted as the anger seemed to melt from his eyes and was replaced with so much love. 

“Wh… what are you doing here?” Alex asked, still in shock that Marc was actually standing in front of him. 

“I’m so sorry it took me so long to get here,” Marc apologized, as he touched the side of Alex’s bloody face. 

Alex noticed the look of pain in Marc’s eyes as he wiped the blood from Alex’s face. 

“Marc… I can’t believe you’re… how…” Alex was at a loss for words. He could not believe that Marc was standing right in front of him. Coming to his rescue once again. After all that he had done. But how did Marc know?

The lights in the barn suddenly went black. 

About the Author 

Matthew Dante is a Canadian indie author who loves to write about magic, fantasy, and romance. He is an avid reader, world traveller, lover of all things Marvel and DC, and a romantic at heart. 

Most of his stories center around gay main characters who are usually the love interests and the heroes of these stories. He writes these novels, so that other LGBTQ people will be able to read about characters and stories that they can relate to and be proud of.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Sexted by Santa by DJ Jamison


 Ho ho ho! Check out today's holiday romance release blitz from author DJ Jamison and Gay Book Promotions for Sexted by Santa! Get into the Christmas spirit and check out more book info! Plus, they're hosting a $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Sexted By Santa

Author: DJ Jamison

Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood

Release Date: November 18, 2021

Genre: Contemporary MM romance/holiday romance

Tropes: App hookup to lovers, neighbors, single dad, reluctant Santa, age gap

Themes: Choosing love over regret, found family, holiday feels, love and acceptance

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 83 500 words

It’s set in the Thrust into Love universe, but with no real overlaps.

The book does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads 

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |   Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Christian Kringle: College professor, reluctant Santa, and...fake dating my neighbor?

Blurb

I'm a grinch and proud of it--but this year, there’s no avoiding the Christmas cheer.

First, I get roped into playing Santa. Shudder. Then, while trying to dodge a setup with my boss's brother, I somehow promise to attend a holiday party with my boyfriend--who doesn't exist.

Next thing I know, my (soon-to-be former) best friend has set up a profile on a hookup app to find me a date. With the username of....wait for it...SantaWantsYourChimney.

Go ahead and laugh. He sure did, the traitor.

Before I can delete the profile, I match with an easygoing guy with amazing photos. His teasing about Santa kink makes me laugh, and blush, and feel things I haven't since my divorce. For the first time in years, I look forward to dating.

Until we meet, and he turns out to be my neighbor. My very young, very off-limits neighbor who I've clashed with for years. Only now I know just how sexy, charming, and sweetly devoted to his daughter he is.

I should walk away, but I still need that fake boyfriend. The only problem? Jaxson's so convincing I can't tell where the pretense ends and real feelings begin.

Falling for him is easy. Loving his daughter? Effortless. Trusting that I can keep them is the hard part.

It'll take the magic of love, family, and yes--even Christmas--to teach this old grinch new tricks.

Sexted By Santa is a standalone holiday romance set in the Thrust Into Love universe.

Excerpt

In the following scene, Christian logs onto a hookup app after his friend made him an embarrassing profile with the username SantaWantsYourChimney:

I finally opened the app that Barry had installed on my phone.

Time to change this ridiculous profile—or maybe delete it altogether.

There were a handful of notifications. Huh. I had some match requests, more than I would have expected given the lack of any real photos on my account. But my notifications also included men who had accepted my request—a neat trick since I hadn’t made any yet.

Barry, you scoundrel…

I should delete the whole lot of them. Why would a normal guy go for this Santa schtick? With great skepticism, I took a peek at one of the messages.

I want to ride Santa’s pole!

Charming. I checked the guy’s stats. He was older, at fifty, but clearly not mature, as my profile—well, the one Barry had written for me, at any rate—had requested. He wasn’t bad looking, slim but handsome. His user name, Best_You’ll_Ever_Have, didn’t encourage me. It was too close to my ex-husband’s brand of ego. Fynn was beautiful, and he knew it. He’d used it to his advantage on more than occasion. But when that didn’t work…Oh, he became furious. His ego was huge but fragile. Even for a single date to a work party, I wanted a guy who’d be a little more even-keeled. The last thing I needed was some ridiculous drama playing out in front of my colleagues.

I bypassed him to review another match. This one in his sixties.

If you’re tired of naughty boys, maybe Santa needs a Daddy.

Nope. Delete.

I picked through a few more, not overly impressed with the offerings—until I reached CasualDad.

I almost passed him by—until I realized this wasn’t another Daddy wannabe. This was an actual dad. Was that good? Not for anything serious—I wouldn’t know the first thing about dealing with a kid—but luckily I only needed a date to a party. No commitment required.

I checked his profile for red flags.

It read: I’m a dad first. Just looking to relieve some stress and have fun. Open to casual dating, but I don’t have the time or energy for anything serious.

Well, that sounded perfect. Plus, he’d accepted a match request Barry sent on my behalf—rather than seeking me out—so perhaps he wasn’t a weirdo turned on by a pixelated Santa. Why he’d accepted the request was a still a mystery though. Maybe he didn’t see it actually going anywhere. Why would he, when the guy requesting a match was a fictional person?

CasualDad’s pics were enticing.

He had a broad, firm chest with script over his pecs that read Love leaves no room for regret. A nice sentiment, though I didn’t know if I agreed. My love for Fynn had created plenty of regret. But I didn’t have to agree with the man’s tattoo to take him on a date. Preferably, a date that ended very pleasurably for us both.

I’d gotten on this app to find a date to a work party, but these pictures reminded me that my body had its own needs, which had been ignored for some time now. Maybe I could get more than arm candy for a boring night with my colleagues out of this.

My mouth watered as I studied the various pics showing his chest and stomach, not overly muscled but solid. There was no direct face shot, but there was one shot of him in profile. He had nearly shoulder-length hair, which was blowing across his face. Water—maybe a lake—filled the background of the image. I could just make out the edge of his smile—and it was mischievous, maybe a little amused by someone off camera.

Jaxson Hicks flashed through my mind for a split second. His smile as he took pot shots at my Santa performance had that same edge of mischief. But I shut that thought down. I’d set my filters to hide anyone under thirty-five—and a quick look at CasualDad’s profile confirmed he met that threshold. Jaxson was much younger. He’d dropped out of college about seven years ago. If my math was correct, he would be somewhere around twenty-six or twenty-seven.

Even if he were old enough, Jaxson and I had never been anything but oil and water since we’d first met as student and adviser. He hadn’t liked what I’d had to say, and the feeling had been mutual.

Better to focus on this guy in front of me. This delicious-looking guy.

I decided to send him a quick message.

Hey, there. I like your pics and your profile. You seem like someone I’d like to know better, maybe over drinks? Apologies for the ridiculous username and profile. I’ll update soon.

His response came just as I was putting aside my reading for the night and turning off the light.

CasualDadThe name gave me a good laugh. If you change it, does that mean you won’t be cleaning my chimney? And is that a euphemism for what I think it is?

I groaned, mentally cursing Barry again.

SantaWantsYourChimneyMy jerk of a friend thought it was funny. Obviously I need a new friend. If this doesn’t work out, you can have the spot. As long as you can resist matchmaking and setting up ridiculous profiles for me on dating apps.

CasualDadThat’s a high bar. I don’t know if I can meet it. I kind of want to see where a Santa kink could go ;)

SantaWantsYourChimneyBut I hate Santa, and Christmas, and all this seasonal nonsense.

CasualDadThat only makes this name funnier. Now you have to keep it.

I dropped my head back on the pillow. It seemed as if I were destined to play Santa in all aspects of my life. But even I had to admit it had served as a pretty good ice-breaker with CasualDad. His easy teasing made me smile.

Maybe I can keep the name if it means you chat with me again, I typed.

He was quick to reply: Maybe I’ll chat with you again if you send me some sexy Santa pics.

Oh, hell no. Volunteering as Santa was bad enough. But posing for X-rated Santa selfies wasn’t happening. I sent him a reply, then turned off my phone before I could be tempted into embarrassing myself.

Listen, I’m just not that kind of Santa. I don’t rush down anyone’s chimney. But I do hope we can chat again…

When I woke the next morning, the first thing I did was check the Thrust app for his reply.

Hahaha, okay, Santa. We’ll play it your way. Message me again when you’re ready. I’m not going anywhere.

About the Author

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

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