Release Blitz + Giveaway: Restitution (Regalos #4) by Rebecca Cohen


Author Rebecca Cohen and Signal Boost Promotions share info on the latest release from the Regalos series, Restitution (Regalos #4)! Discover more and enter in the giveaway!

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design

Reagalos Series

Book #0.5 - College Days - Pre-order Here (Out Jan '22)
Book #1 - Servitude - Buy Links
Book #2 - Idolatry - Buy Links
Book #3 - Avarice - Buy Links

Lornyc is good at keeping secrets, because secrets can get you killed.

Will someone rid him of this troublesome Mage? Seemingly not, and Lornyc’s going to have do it himself. There’s a good reason no one had invoked the Reckoning to become the Supreme Mage of Beher for over a quarter of a century, but Lornyc couldn’t keep his big mouth shut.

Five tasks, five chances to fail, and that’s just the warm up for the magical head-to-head. Pity his Reagalos powers don’t work like Mage magic, so he’ll need to think fast, and run even faster.
REBECCA COHEN spends her days dreaming of a living in a Tudor manor house, or a Georgian mansion. Alas, the closest she comes to this is through her characters in her historical romance novels. She also dreams of intergalactic adventures and fantasy realms, but because she’s not yet got her space or dimensional travel plans finalised, she lives happily in leafy Hertfordshire, England, with her husband and young son. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and sloe gin with lemon tonic in the other.

With contemporaries, historicals, sci fi and fantasy in her back catalogue, there should be something for every taste in Rebecca's work.

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Salvaging Christmas by Brian Lancaster

Author Brian Lancaster and Pride Publishing share Christmas erotic romance, Salvaging Christmas! Read more about the new book and enter in the First Romance gift card giveaway!

Salvaging Christmas by Brian Lancaster

General Release Date: 30th November 2021

Word Count: 67,278
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 264



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Book Description

For years they have kept the Yuletide Gay Club going with like minded friends until this year grim providence decides to stick in his ugly snout. But just as everything starts to fall apart, the son of the owner turns up and the real fun begins.

Tired with awkward family Christmases, Trevor McTavish and his best friend have planned a getaway each year for twelve close gay friends to enjoy the festive season together in remote country locations around Britain. Far from the maddening crowds. Beautiful Stratham Lodge in Scotland, hugging the shores of Loch Arkaig, is set to be this year’s rental destination.

Except this year, one by one, friends have dropped out. Against their better judgement, they decide to bite the bullet and forge ahead with a much reduced, and somewhat contentious party, which includes Trevor’s formerly gay ex-husband and his new girlfriend.

On the second day, Trevor realises this year’s break is going to be a disaster. But then the son of the lodge owner, Rudy Mortimer, appears and saves the day.

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of homophobia, domestic abuse and sexual assault.


Trevor McTavish loved traditions.

Or, more to the point, new traditions built on old ones. After all, wasn’t that what most of them were, a blend of old and new, built layer upon layer over time? They provided a foundation, something people could rely on, even when everything else around them broke down, or changed unexpectedly, or disappeared entirely from their lives—which seemed to happen to him all too often of late.

Traditions ensured continuity, and even with the few hiccups this year had brought, Trevor loved the Christmas tradition he and Cheryl had created for their friends.

As the sullen driver of the prepaid cab steered in silence through the early morning streets of London, Trevor rested his head against the ice-cold window. Gentle vibrations from the hybrid engine massaged his skull. Already the sky had begun transitioning from purest black as the night shift packed up and daylight took over. Fully alert despite the early hour, he looked for homes with their Christmas lights still burning and gardens or roofs decorated with seasonal figures. A part of him instinctively knew he would get along with the person who had gone to all the effort to put them up, most likely done to make other people smile.

Nothing could shake Trevor’s upbeat mood as the cab turned into the familiar road where the Madison family lived. Since he'd packed last night, the sense of anticipation and excitement at the promise of a road trip with best friends had kept him pumped up and grinning like an inflatable snowman.

Six in the morning on that pre-dawn Friday in December, he climbed out of the overheated car and crunched down onto a pavement of overnight frost. After collecting his luggage from the boot, he pulled out a five-pound note from his wallet and tapped a fingernail on the driver’s window. With a smile, he held up the banknote, ready to wish the man a heartfelt season’s greetings. After all, if the poor guy had to drive a cab at this early hour, he obviously needed the money.

Without even bothering to acknowledge Trevor, the driver pulled away.

Left standing alone in the road, Trevor shrugged and put the fiver back. Perhaps the man had somewhere better to be. Not everyone shared his passion for all things festive.

Humming to himself, he manoeuvred his wheelie luggage up the broken-tiled garden path and prodded the front doorbell. Bing-bongs chimed from somewhere inside. Cheryl Madison’s mother opened the door in her furry-hooded olive parka and mismatching navy Wellington boots. Further at odds with the ensemble, her pink floral nightie peeked out from beneath the jacket.

Trevor almost let out a giggle.

Until he saw the expression on her face.

After a furtive glance at the staircase behind her, Mrs M nodded sharply towards the Volvo out front while handing him a small but deceptively heavy cardboard box. Hauling a larger one from the floor, she strode past him and he trailed after her, the wheels of his luggage clunking arrhythmically on the broken pavement. Only as she unlocked the hatchback and placed her carton inside did she reveal the predicament.

“Hannah’s not coming. She broke up with Cheryl last night. Met someone at their Christmas office party on Tuesday night. Supposedly.”

The way she articulated that final word said everything. Trevor dropped onto the tailgate—causing the car to bounce—and placed his container next to hers. Mrs M stood there studying him, arms folded, appearing to wait for his response. Instinctively, he mirrored her body language and sighed. Of all their friends, he understood only too well the devastating effects of being dumped. Right before their long-anticipated Christmas trip, too. Hannah had always possessed a selfish streak, an immunity to the sensibilities of others. She had often manipulated Cheryl but he’d never thought she would stoop so low.

“Shit. Poor Cheryl. How’s she coping?”

“You’ll see in a minute. Putting on a brave front. I tried to sound surprised when she told me, but something’s not been right for months. The important thing, Trevor, is that we’re down by one more guest.”

“Double shit,” he said, staring down at the road between his legs.

“I’ll let you think about that before I bring out any more boxes, and while I go and put the kettle on,” she said, before heading back to the house.

So much for the Yuletide Gay Club.

They had started the group five years ago. Cheryl, his best friend since high school, could take credit for the idea and him for its successful implementation. Sick of hearing in January how many of their gay friends had spent the holiday season either alone or with families who barely tolerated them, they had created their own tradition.

Six couples shared the cost of renting a country cottage in rural Britain. Seven or eight days spent enjoying Christmas their own way, with their own people, in the countryside.

Far from the maddening crowds.

At first nobody had known whether bringing together couples who were occasional friends would work. That first time, the gathering in the six-bedroom farmhouse in Devon had turned out to be nothing short of a miracle. Everyone had gelled quickly and mucked in together, laughed and got drunk together, played games like Cards Against Humanity until sunrise and raved about the break well into the New Year. So good was the experience that Trevor had already had the next event booked up by February. The same thing had happened the following years, with the small group growing closer.

Except this year—the fifth—grim providence had made a personal appearance. Tragically, Mrs M’s seventy-two-year-old Scottish girlfriend, Monica, the only other person allowed in the kitchen at Christmas and the life and soul of the party, had succumbed unexpectedly to a brain aneurism and passed away in late January.

Next up, at the beginning of March, they had received a cryptic email from regulars Johnny and Frank. Both having quit their jobs, they’d decided to take a hiatus from the rat race, managed to rent out their home, and set off on their travels. Finally free, they’d also committed to a technology-free tour of the world and their last handwritten postcard had been sent from somewhere in the Middle East.

As the year progressed, the casualties had continued to fall like autumn leaves until the usual company of twelve had dropped to five.

Then in April, Trevor’s husband of two years, Karl, had not only announced his newly discovered heterosexuality, or bisexuality, or sexual fluidity—he had yet to settle on a label—but admitted that he had fallen in love with a woman. Four years together, and Trevor’s spouse had woken one morning and realised he had been wrestling for the wrong tag team.

Which left four of them. Initially, they had considered cancelling the event. But without consulting any of them, Hannah had tactlessly filled one space with a new girl from her office, twenty-year-old Jessica, who, in turn, decided that bringing along a male colleague would be perfectly acceptable.

Could things get any worse?

Apparently, they could. After Trevor had signed the online divorce papers, there had followed a doorstep altercation with Karl about which artwork, pillows, bed linen, dishes and cutlery he was entitled to take in the divorce. Not thinking straight, Trevor had succumbed to all his demands. In addition, for their Christmas excursion, Karl had seen no reason why he should be ostracised, why he should not still be invited with his new partner. Maybe because of dwindling numbers, or more likely the result of a temporary lapse in sanity, Trevor had capitulated.

Cheryl had refused to speak to him for three weeks after he’d told her.

By the beginning of December, the promise of a seasonal sanctuary, which used to be the epitome of a cosy, warm and cuddly Christmas Hallmark movie, had morphed into the awkward, dysfunctional cast of characters befitting a Woody Allen feature.

“The question remains,” came the voice of Mrs M. Lost in his thoughts, he jumped when she perched down beside him. “Is it too late to cancel?”

Trevor huffed out a steamy breath and searched for seasonal inspiration along the row of terraced houses. All year he had been looking forwards to their getaway. But this wasn’t only about him.

“Technically, it isn’t. But we won’t get a refund, so we’ll lose the full amount, deposit and all. I’ll also need to ring around and let everyone know pretty swiftly before people set off tomorrow. And I’ll try, but I’m not sure I can contact the owner. Apparently, she has her own family gathering abroad.”

Two nights ago, he had received an email from Mrs Mortimer-King telling him that she would not be in Scotland to meet them, but would arrange for someone to hand the keys over and settle them in. Even though he’d never met her, he liked dealing with her, enjoyed her clear instructions, efficiency and her friendly communications.

“I had a long talk with Cheryl last night,” said Mrs M. “She still wants to go. Doesn’t want to spend Christmas at home sitting around moping.”

“Understandable. How about you?”

Mrs M provided another smile before gazing wistfully to the heavens.

“No matter where I am, I’m going to miss having Mon by my side. She always made this time of the year special. Might as well be busy in Scotland as stuck here with too much time on my hands. Cheryl can help me in the kitchen. How about Karl?”

“Karl? What about him? He’s going to be there.”

“That’s my point. How do you feel about that?”

“It’s fine. I’ll deal.”

Total nonsense, of course. Privately, Trevor prayed his ex-husband would do the decent thing and not show up, or perhaps the new significant other would be better at talking him down from the ledge of his principles. Most of all, he dreaded the idea of seeing Karl fawning over a new partner. Over the years Trevor had grown to love the man, had looked to their life together. Karl suppressed his emotions well and had never been afraid to put on a front and fight for what he believed to be right. Trevor had never been a fighter. He had felt emotionally volatile during their doorstep argument. After Karl had gotten everything he came for, he’d promptly turned on his heel and headed back to the comfort of his newfound relationship. That evening, Trevor had curled up on his side of the double bed he had managed to keep, feeling so painfully alone and pathetic. All night he had lain awake, wondering why Karl had never fought for him the same way.

“In different ways, we’ve both lost someone this year, Trevor. But you know we’ll be there for you, Cheryl and me, don’t you?” said Mrs M, as though hearing his thoughts.

“And I really appreciate that, Mrs M. But if they do show up, promise me you won’t let the break turn into an us-and-them fiasco. You know what Karl’s like when he becomes militant.”

“Wouldn’t dream of doing so. But I’m also not standing quietly and letting him order anyone around. Like he usually does.” She pushed a lock of grey hair from her face before turning to him. “He’s still going to the SLAGO meetings. Turned up at the Christmas fundraiser. Did he tell you?”

Karl had said nothing, but Trevor was unsurprised. His ex might have woken up one day and realised he wasn’t gay anymore, but he still loved a cause, a fight to champion. Hence his unfailing loyalty to the Surrey and London Association of Gay Organisations. After the break-up, Cheryl had mused somewhat unkindly whether Karl had ever really been gay, whether he had decided to call himself queer because he needed to wear a badge of honour, to fight on the side of something subversive and radical, become a member of the Great British LGBTQ Cause Club. Trevor knew different, because their relationship had not been a sham even if Karl had shunned affection outside the bedroom. Trevor accepted those things because they meant having someone to care for, to love and share a life with. And more than anything, even after everything that had transpired, Trevor still respected Karl as a person.

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About the Author

Brian Lancaster

Brian Lancaster is an author of gay romantic fiction in multiple genres, including contemporary romance, paranormal, fantasy, crime, mystery, and anything else that tickles his muse’s fancy. Born in the sleepy South of England where most of his stories are set, he moved to Southeast Asia in 1998, where he now shares a home with his husband and two of the laziest cats on the planet. 

Find out more about Brian at his website.


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Turnabout by Laury A. Egan

Welcome author Laury A. Egan and IndiGo Marketing as they promote historical coming of age romance, Turnabout! Read more and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Turnabout

Author: Laury A. Egan

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 78500

Genre: Historical (20th Century), LGBTQIA+, teenage romance, lesbian, lesbian love, sailing, PTSD, Vietnam War, 1960s, first love, mother-daughter relationships, young writers, class differences, New Jersey, coming-of-age

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The summer of 1964. Four teenage lives intertwine as each searches for love, identity, and a passage through painful family conflicts, social isolation, and the confusion of sexual orientation.

During a sailing class, four teenagers meet.

Jessie Schaffer is fourteen, an intelligent and solitary girl, who dreams of becoming a writer. When she sees nineteen-year-old Lindsay Ames, the instructor, standing on a dock, sunlight illuminating her blond hair and blue eyes, Jessie falls in love but is too afraid of her feelings and what they mean.

In an attempt to reassure herself she is “normal,” Jessie becomes involved with two boys in the class: Kenny Crenshaw, also fourteen, a darkly handsome and flirtatious guy, and Calvin Brayburn, a year younger, who will be in their freshman class because he’s academically brilliant.

On the first day of sailing, Cal is smitten with Jessie, though he is hindered by shyness. As the romantic relationships take unexpected twists, Jessie, Lindsay, Calvin, and Kenny relate their individual stories, their hopes, fears, and longings, all the while being buffeted by intense pressures.

Set in coastal New Jersey, the plot roams from its beautiful rivers to lush scenes in St. Thomas and Vietnam’s jungles during the war.


Laury A. Egan © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“I’m not going!” I state this as a firm fact; my mother hears acquiescence.

“And wear your new clam diggers and that boat-neck shirt I bought you.”

“No! I feel like an idiot in those clothes!”

My mother, who dresses perfectly for every occasion, arches an eyebrow, one that took hours to sculpt. “You are attending sailing class, and I want you to look nice. We will hear no more about it, Jessie.”

When the singular “I” migrates into the royal “we,” my goose is cooked.

“I will see you in the car. Ten minutes,” she says.

After she leaves the room, I go to the closet, slip the fake nautical clothes off hangers, and throw them on the bed where I slump beside them. “I’ll look like a fool,” I mutter as I stare at the blue-and-white-striped shirt and the white clam diggers decorated with red piping and baby sailboats. I shut my eyes in frustration and follow imperial orders.


I’m standing by the entrance to the Lenape Sailing and Yacht Club, hoping my mother will reconsider and take me home. I turn to plead with her, but she’s already backing the big black T-Bird out of the drive, its whitewalls spitting sand four feet past its chugging tailpipe. For a minute, I picture the car getting stuck but no luck. It’s me who’s stuck.

I scan the sky and beach. The morning sun has taken a hike, leaving a mash of clouds in its wake. The breeze sucks the tops off the cattails and raises goosebumps on my arms and the whitecaps on the river. With no real alternative, I walk through the clubhouse’s double doors, wishing I could fly out the other side, shoot off the dock, and do a Superman back home.

Inside, it smells like salt air, tired sun, and dried old wood. About ten kids—probably my class—are milling around looking self-conscious. Even though they appear nervous, my years of experience tell me they’ll do just fine, once the preliminary jitters smooth off, while I will not. Oh, sure, I can pick up the sailing stuff, but the rest? I stand by the window, thinking I don’t like groups because groups don’t like me.


I turn. A boy with thick glasses is staring at me with a curious expression. His hazel eyes, magnified by the lenses, appear intelligent. He has small cuppy ears, an epidemic of brown freckles across his face and arms, and bright-red hair cut in straight bangs and parted unevenly on the left side of his square head. The boy is a little hunched, as if he’s already apologizing for future tallness. Despite his neat green shirt and navy cotton shorts, he doesn’t wear his body comfortably. The kid looks as ill at ease as I feel.

“Hi,” I reply, though I’m lukewarm in interest. I look over the group, hoping there is someone better to hitch up with. Most of the kids are about my age. Next week, on July 5, I’m turning fourteen.

“My name’s Calvin Brayburn.”

Calvin seems younger. Perhaps twelve nudging thirteen and oblivious to the huge barrier a year’s difference makes.

“Mine’s Jessie.”

“Jessie what?” He tilts his head and squints a little, as if his poor eyesight dulls his hearing.

“Jessie Schaffer.” I’m not a chatty type, particularly with strangers, which includes just about everyone I’ve ever met. How can I lose this kid? Should I play it high and mighty or chilly-neutral? Then, the teacher enters from a side room, saving me the decision.

“Hello, everyone. I’m Lindsay Ames, your sailing instructor.”

Lindsay is tall, or at least she is from my five-foot-four perspective. Short blond curly hair. Blue eyes. Long arms and legs already tan from being outside. Can’t tell if she is a senior going to be a freshman or a freshman home from college. Probably four or five years older than I am. I breathe easier. I’m more comfortable around adults.

Lindsay hands out mimeographed papers. “The parts of a sailboat and two pages of nautical knots,” she explains. “Don’t worry—we’ll go over them, but you’ll have to memorize the parts and how to tie a bowline and a cleat hitch by next week.”

One of the girls giggles and nudges her neighbor. I don’t see anything funny about knots, but maybe that’s because I’ve already taught myself a few—Dad said this would be expected.

“It’s too windy to go out today,” Lindsay continues, “so we’ll get acquainted and learn some of the basics.”

She takes a seat in a wooden armchair, and everyone sprawls onto couches and chairs around her as if she’s going to tell us a story. I sit on the floor opposite and stare at the blue Keds’ stamps on the back of my white sneakers.

“Let’s go around the room.” She nods to a girl with a ponytail. “What’s your name?”

When the kid smiles, silver braces glint like chrome on a Chrysler grille. “Melinda Whitmore,” Ponytail replies. “Hi!” She jerks her hand in the air and gives half a wave. She’s growing boobs that overwhelmed her training bra a long while ago.

“Hi, Melinda,” Lindsay replies. “Welcome aboard.”

I’m not positive I like this sailor heartiness, but so far, Lindsay seems okay. She then points to a guy with black, wavy hair and dark Romeo eyes.

“Hey,” he says in a false sheepish tone. “I’m Kenny Crenshaw.”

Melinda and the other girls exchange blushing glances. Kenny is instantly crowned “king” without any contest. I’m no slouch at rating pecking orders in social gatherings. Of course, none of the girls look at me for confirmation, a fact I also file away in my mental account ledger.

As if he senses his royal anointment, Kenny squares up his shoulders and drops his voice. “I already know how to sail,” he explains. “My dad has a boat.”

“Oh? What kind?” Lindsay asks.

Kenny Crenshaw smiles, confidence spreading across his face. “It’s a thirty-two-foot O’Day.”

“Nice boat,” the instructor says, smiling. “So, you must be quite accomplished.”

He stares at his feet and shrugs, as if he’s embarrassed. In that moment, my dislike of him rushes in like a squall.

“Yes, I am,” he answers. “Sort of.”

The “sort of” is another attempt to appear modest, though it doesn’t wash with me. His smug perfection stings like a pissed-off wasp. We’ll see who the better sailor is. I don’t have a clue why I’m feeling so competitive.

Melinda’s friends are Janey and Gretchen. The three of them are jump-rope types. That’s how I used to classify the popular girls in elementary school. I never mastered their games—skipping rope or their other activity—flirting—and still nourish a fine disdain for both. Sure, back then, the girls let me play sometimes, so I wasn’t on the outer orbit of Pluto, but I wasn’t really accepted, which is typical of the flip-flop nature of my life. Graduation from eighth grade didn’t improve my standing with boys either, and neither did the spring dance, a perfect ten on the misery scale. My mother tortured me into going solo and wearing an itchy chiffon dress and patent leather shoes that pinched. I was the weed amid the wallflowers and didn’t dance once. I’m glad we just moved to Bingham, where I’ll attend high school and hopefully make some friends.

There are four more students who introduce themselves: Steve, Cathy, Mary Lou, and Gene. The girls all cross their arms over their chests, protecting their budding growths, and the boys look careless and bored, like they’d just as soon be throwing rocks at beach rats. Everyone is sort of average looking compared to Kenny and Melinda, who, despite her dental work and giggles, has drawn the longest glances from the boys. Calvin is saving me from last place on the unpopularity register. When it’s my turn to say hello, I’m tempted to tell everyone my father has a sixty-nine-foot sailboat, just to see how it goes down. But one of my rules is that I only lie when I’m sure no one will catch on. Because I don’t know who makes boats that size, the last thing I want is King Kenny announcing there is no such thing. So, after giving my name, I clam up, ceding round one to him. At least Lindsay gives me a warm smile, but she smiles at all the kids.

After that, we go outside and investigate a Turnabout, a little ten-foot catboat we’re using for our lessons. Lindsay gives us the port/starboard/stern/bow info, shows us how to tell which way the wind is blowing by the little pink ribbon fluttering near the top of the mast, and demonstrates how to attach and hoist the single sail. The whole time she does this, my new friend Calvin sticks to my side tighter than a tick. Whenever I look at him, he grins like we’re already buddies. Melinda and Kenny aren’t listening to Lindsay because they’re whispering and digging elbows into each other.

Two hours later, when my mother arrives, I announce I don’t want to take sailing lessons anymore. She doesn’t listen.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Laury A. Egan is the author of the YA novel, The Outcast Oracle; three suspense novels, Jenny Kidd, A Bittersweet Tale, and The Ungodly Hour; a comedy, Fabulous! An Opera Buffa; a collection, Fog and Other Stories; and a literary work, The Swimmer. Four limited-edition poetry volumes have been published: Snow, Shadows, a Stranger; Beneath the Lion’s Paw; The Sea & Beyond; and Presence & Absence. She lives on the northern coast of New Jersey where she sailed Turnabouts during her teenage years.

Website | Facebook | Twitter


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Release Blitz + Giveaway: When Love Calls Your Name by LBJ Harris

Author LBJ Harris and IndiGo Marketing share new release info for When Love Calls Your Name! Learn more and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: When Love Calls Your Name

Author: LBJ Harris

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 11/30/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Female, Male/Male

Length: 91100

Genre: 1970s Historical, LGBTQIA+, 1970s, promiscuity, in the closet, college, bisexual, sexual discovery

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When Desmond goes off to college, he allows himself to be more open about his attraction to men rather than the secreted-away experiences he’s had in the past.

As Desmond grapples with the pressures and expectations society forces upon him, while trying to understand what his heart is telling him to do, he is initiated into a high-class gay underworld and attracts the attention of an influential—and potentially dangerous—closeted businessman.

Set in the fictional coastal town of Oakvale, New Jersey in the mid-1970s—a decade of alternative eroticism, experimentation, and promiscuity—When Love Calls Your Name follows Desmond as he discovers who he is and who he is expected to be.


When Love Calls Your Name
LBJ Harris © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Fantasies. What teen doesn’t have them? We’re taught that boys’ fantasies revolve around lust, while girls dream of love and romance. As a young man, I certainly fit that mold. And while my boyhood fantasies came true—to an extent—they evolved somewhere along the way, from lust to love. Moreover, they ended up clouding my judgment so completely and ruling my heart so firmly that they changed my life forever.

That evening, thoughts raced through my head as I stepped onto the field at the Oakvale High School stadium. The band played “Pomp and Circumstance” from the stands, and I wondered to myself, How many times have I sat up there, playing this same damn song for past graduates? How many times have I watched others walk the full length of this football field and wished it was me? Now it was my turn!

I scanned the stands for my family, but the crowd of faces was a blur. Carla—my senior-year sweetheart—was by my side, and she had never looked prettier. Now, it had taken a little manipulation on my part to get her there next to me, but it had been worth it. Or so I thought.

The day couldn’t have been more perfect. Ask, visualize, claim it, and it will be so.

At the height of the day, it had climbed to eighty degrees: warm enough for us to catch a swim at the Ocean Club. Around four in the afternoon, a light breeze cooled the air down to seventy degrees. The glowing full moon peeked over the eastern horizon, the sun not yet having set, far to the west, with a cool pink and blue salutation. High above, the heavens were a dome of sparkling diamonds. The stage was set. My high school graduation had arrived.

My name is Desmond Cameron Dawson. I am a Pisces, born on March 19; the middle of three children. My older brother is Calvin Vincent Jr., aged 25, whom we called Vinny. He attended law school at George Washington University in DC. My younger sister is Nina Nicole, who was to be a freshman at Oakvale High that upcoming fall.

I had what was known as bougie parents (upwardly mobile Black people), who achieved their success ten years ago. They decided to move us away from Newark, New Jersey, to this white, ocean-side town called Oakvale. It was just off the Garden State Parkway, halfway to Atlantic City.

Calvin Vincent Sr. and Mildred Nicole (Cal and Millie to each other; Mom—or, endearingly, Momma—and Dad to us) owned a small but prosperous advertising firm, with the original branch in Newark and a newer one here. Business was good—so good that my folks had achieved upper-middle-class status. They were good United Methodists too, raising their children in a predominantly African American church. We kids were acolytes; we sang in the choirs, did youth ministries. If you’re a United Methodist too, you know the drill.

So, what the hell were we doing in good old Whites-ville, USA? To hear our parents tell it, they’d moved us down here to ensure we’d get a good education.

And speaking of education, isn’t it funny, the things that run through your mind at milestones in your life? For instance, standing with my fellow seniors, waiting to march across that field, I thought to a time when—only five years old—I had been so sick I was unable to start school with the other kids my age.

I’d spent a year visiting over a dozen specialists, undergoing every test conceivable, trying out all sorts of medications—all to no avail. My illness had been so bad, making me weak to the point where I couldn’t get out of bed even to go pee, that doctors had finally given up hope, telling my parents the devastating news they would likely lose their youngest son at some point that year.

Momma wouldn’t accept it—not at all! She prayed long and hard—feverishly hard—and God answered her prayers. Miraculously, some weeks later, I had a full recovery. From then on, she would always tell me I was her prizewinning fighter.

I skipped from this memory to a present one—to what I considered my second major accomplishment of my life (after surviving my illness). Imagine this, if you can: I was about to become the first African American in my predominantly white high school to graduate at the top of my class. First out of three hundred and ninety-six students! Yep—I beat all those white folks to the top of the list! And despite being in law school, my brother Vinny hadn’t come close to matching me in the brains department: he graduated high school forty-fifth out of three hundred and fifty.

My parents were proud of me, to say the least. Their crazy-acting, late-blooming middle kid managed to get his shit together and come out on top. Top of my class, awards in French, history, and politics, captain of the debating team, top track athlete, and in the marching band, to boot. Momma cried tears of joy when the guidance counselor called to give her the news; Dad couldn’t stop calling our relatives to boast about his boy.

You want to know how hard it was to become valedictorian? Well, I knew for a fact the girl who finished second to the top hated me with a passion. Miss Dirty-Blonde-Bombshell-With-Glasses had worked her ass off for every top grade she earned. But as for me? By the time grade nine rolled around, I’d figured out the game. From that point onward, I found all this school shit straight up easy. Yeah. I’m one of those kids.

To an outside observer, everything in my life looked pretty good, right?

The truth was, I couldn’t wait to be done with it. I was ready to leave this small, meddlesome, dysfunctional community that would have chewed me up and spit me out without even blinking an eye, had I let it.

It was all good, though—I was on the verge of being done and had a foolproof plan to get out of here: I’d aced all my courses in school, gotten involved in the “right” extracurriculars, and scored 1600 on my SATs. And halfway through my senior year, I found out I had been accepted to some pretty prestigious universities, most of them with full scholarships: Princeton, Yale, Harvard, Temple, and Dartmouth.

Not wanting to be too far from Momma but needing to put a bit of distance between me and Oakvale, I chose Temple University in Philadelphia—an hour and a half down I-95. Temple had a great communications and journalism program there—rated one of the top ten programs in the country. I’d decided I was going to be a television correspondent, and come September, I would be taking my first step toward television stardom!

But back to graduation day. That ended up being a condensed reminder of the things I wanted to forget about high school, beginning—and not ending—with the memory of Samuel Garrison, an unexpected fantasy twist.

I guess I need to explain some things before I go on.

Samuel Garrison. My best and oldest friend in all of Oakvale. He and I had both been having…problems with our girlfriends that whole year. We’d ended up talking and consoling each other for much of that time. And before you ask the all-important question of who was getting poontang and who wasn’t: well, I was the less fortunate.

Samuel and I spent a lot of time barhopping during that year as well. Two years prior, they had lowered the legal drinking age to eighteen. We had died and gone to heaven, my posse and I—they turned eighteen at different points during our senior year, while I had reached the drinking age the year before. And believe me, they didn’t miss a beat trying to catch up to me. We quickly established some favorite watering holes we took girls to, but we also reserved a spot for gents only.

Every Friday night, we would sneak out to this strip club called The Cabaret. We couldn’t get enough of the place. Well, at least, Samuel couldn’t.

Back to the posse—there were four of us who went through Oakvale High School together: Matt, Samuel, Michael, and me. We all played trumpet in the band together. We ran indoor and outdoor track. Two of us were on the yearbook committee. Matt and I acted in school plays together. We may as well have lived together, we spent so much time in each other’s company.

I was the oldest of our group and the only brother. Did that make me feel uncomfortable at times? Yes! I was the butt of Samuel’s too-frequent racist jokes, and as I look back now, he was a real redneck. Yet there was more to him than that.

When I moved to Oakvale, I was just an average seven-year-old kid. I didn’t know anything about racism or prejudice. All I knew was that I wanted a friend—someone I could simply play with. Samuel was that person.

The day we moved in, I sat on the curb outside my new home, “staying out of the way of the movers.” Across the street sat a little boy, watching me. We stared at each other wordlessly for quite a long time. Finally, he yelled across the street, saying, “My name’s Samuel; what’s yours?”

I called back, “Desmond.”

Then he surprised me by saying, “You wanna be friends?”

And not wanting to seem overly keen on the idea, I said, “Mmm…okay.”

He stood up, looked both ways, and ran across the street. He held out his hand and I mine. We shook. And then he hugged me. It felt really strange, like a spark arcing between us; from that moment on through high school, we were essentially inseparable.

Despite being close, Samuel and I didn’t attend the same school until high school. His parents didn’t care much for public schools, so he attended St. Catherine’s Catholic School until the end of eighth grade. The Catholics didn’t have a high school, so he had no choice but to transfer to Oakvale High for ninth grade. I introduced him to Matt and Michael, and just like that, he was one of the boys. I knew from then on, high school life would take me and him to another level. And it did.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

LBJ Harris was born on October 1, 1958 in Neptune, New Jersey. He is one of seven children born to civil rights leaders. His mother chose his first name because it was unique, as she knew her baby would grow to be.

When he was seven years old, his parents moved the family to an all-white community, to ensure he and his siblings received a good education, and to guarantee their safety against opponents of their parent’s civil rights work.

Harris knew from an early age that he loved performing on stage. Throughout his early years and young adulthood, he performed in church choirs, his high school band, and in the high school drama club. Upon graduating from high school, his love of the arts led him to West Chester State College in Pennsylvania.
In 1979, Harris earned his Bachelor of Arts in Speech, Communications and Theater. While at college, he worked for the Three Little Bakers Dinner Theatre as a performer, lead dancer, and stage designer. His set designs and acting roles earned him major acclaim in local newspapers.

In 1981, he moved back to New Jersey where he formed a two-man performing duo, a joint company KapSig and eventually his own company, ‘Le Noir Cabaret Repertory Theater Company’.

Harris would move to writing, directing and producing originally written musicals for his local community as founder of Le Noir Cabaret. Those works included: ‘Moments in Love’, ‘An African American Musical Review’, ’SIBONISO’, ’Anna Mae’, and ‘Ashbury Cove’.

Harris and his theatre troupe toured his musical SIBONISO in 1994 at the newly renovated Paramount Theater, Asbury Park, NJ, and at the Carver Community Center in San Antonio, Texas.

In 1989 Harris chose to become a single father, adopting the first of his four children. He elected to place his arts career on hold after the arrival of twins in 1998. Over the next 15 years he focused on raising his four children and one grandnephew.

In August of 1999, while completing a second Master’s Degree in Education, Harris saw the birth of one more child: his novel, “When Love Calls Your Name”. He finished the manuscript in April of that next year, though ultimately shelved it, along with a number of other unpublished works.

After his youngest two children graduated from high school in June of 2014, Harris chose to return to the stage. That October, he appeared in the ensemble cast of African American men entitled, “Messages from Men: Machismo, Magen, Mirth & Maturity” at the Cape May Playhouse. He wrote and performed an original piece, “Letter to My Children”, in dedication to his children.

With a renewed yearning to pick up his career where he left off, Harris anticipates publishing his first fiction novel, “When Love Calls Your Name” in the fall of 2021.

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Guest Review: Wicked Lovely (The Black Blade Chronicles #1) by J.K. Hogan

Darkness grows in the realm of Taleth. To the west, a power-hungry despot schemes to conquer kingdoms and territories alike by chasing an ancient elven prophecy that could give him the power to rule all. In the east, after a prince’s murder goes years unanswered, a princess learns there was much more to her brother’s death—and to her life—than she realized.

The House of Kjenelach is shaken to its foundation when Princess Sigrid is stolen away. Her faithful guardian, Sir Senne Clayward, reluctantly accepts help from his nemesis, a notorious halfling mercenary of questionable morals—but indispensable tracking skills—called Kasimir vas Hjardar.

Kasimir makes his living hunting monsters, both creatures and men. While he exists outside the law, he lives by his own unassailable code of honor. At the top of that list: never harm a child. When he turns down a contract to kidnap Sigrid and later finds out she was taken by someone else, he offers his help to the prickly knight tasked with protecting her.

Together, they embark upon a journey across the continent to save Sigrid and foil King Prosper’s plans to conquer Taleth. The way is fraught with dangers and pitfalls, from supernatural beasts to Senne’s deathly fear of magic, but they must not fail, for Sigrid may very well be the savior of the realm: the long prophesied Aisnellach Fuil. Somehow, the two men must set their differences aside and work together to rescue Sigrid, and possibly find love along the way.

Reviewer: Free Dreamer

Prophecies, magic, action and adventure with just a dash of romance? Count me in!

The prologue starts the book off with a bang. I was hooked right away. The plot is fairly action-packed and while there were no shocking turns, "Wicked Lovely" still proved to be an enjoyable page turner.

The setting is a bit generic. There's so many Fantasy books set in a world that's heavily inspired by the Western Europe during the Middle Ages. Some of the creatures we encounter seem to be vaguely influenced by Irish mythology. Kasimir is a halfling, which in itself isn't exactly innovative. But unlike all the other halflings I've encountered so far, he's not half human and half something else.

I'm usually not a huge fan of the enemies to lovers trope and this book certainly had a bit of that. It wasn't overdone, though, and since we got both Kasimir's and Senne's pov, I could relate to their actions and the animosity in the beginning. I didn't particularly care for the sex scenes, however. Since they were on the move a lot, hygiene wasn't exactly great. Not many baths for these two. And I'm sorry, but I just think rimming after a few days of hard riding and no bath to be found is just kind of gross.

Sigrid also gets her own pov, but not as often as the guys. From what there is, she seems a bit stereotypical. The wild princess who doesn't want to be a princess and doesn't behave like one at all. But she's only 15 and teenagers tend to rebel anyway.

The world building was good, but not great. I would have liked a bit more depth, but there are a lot of elements I really enjoyed.

Overall "Wicked Lovely" was a good read. Not amazing, but definitely enough to keep me interested in the series. I'm looking forward to part 2!

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

Audiobook Release Blitz: Tristan by S. Legend

Author S. Legend and Gay Book Promotions celebrate the audio release of arranged marriage fantasy romance, Tristan! Learn more about the Curtis Michael narrated book today!


Book Title: Tristan

Author: S. Legend

Publisher: S Legend Fiction

Narrator: Curtis Michael

Release Date: November 24, 2021

Genre:  Arranged Marriage M/M Romance, fantasy

Tropes: Enemies to lovers, age gap

Themes: Self-discovery, forgiveness

Heat Rating: 4 flames     

Length: 9 hours    

It is not a standalone story. Tristan is book one of the Tristan Trilogy. The story ends on a cliffhanger.


Buy Links

Audiobook Out Now

Audible US  |  Audible UK

Also available in Kindle Unlimited, Hardback and Paperback

Amazon US   |  Amazon UK  

An alliance forged through marriage.  The cost?  One Man’s dream.


An alliance forged through marriage.  The cost?  One Man’s dream.

Tristan dreams of the day he’ll succeed his father as the next Warlord of Markaytia.  Elves—creatures famous for their darker passions and tantalizing culture—approach the Markaytian king with an offer he can’t refuse: an alliance with the Elves for the one Tristan Kanes. 

Tristan is forced to give up his dream. 

He’s not thrilled, but Tristan is a man of duty above all else.  What choice does he have?  He cannot refuse the king or Markaytia. He begrudgingly comes to terms with the arranged marriage. Is he a tad sour about it?  Yes, but he’ll get over it.  


Maybe it won’t be so bad.  Elves have cool weapons, maybe he’ll get one? 

Corrik bans him from cool weapons.

Corrik’s seen Tristan’s gruesome death on the point of a sword in a prophetic vision.  He bans Tristan from picking up a sword ever again.  Tristan wants to accept the marriage with grace to make his people proud, but he resents Corrik for his remorseless attitude over his life’s work.

Facing the Ice Prince and himself.

Tristan’s conflict follows him on the journey to the mysterious Elven land of Mortouge.  He hates Corrik for taking him from the life he loved, boy does he, but his new Elven husband is an enigma and he’s captivated.  He sets Tristan’s blood on fire and freezes it at the same time.  Corrik unravels Tristan’s true nature and despite his best efforts, Tristan falls for his ice prince. 

But Corrik won’t bend.

Corrik wants to be obeyed.  He’s demanding and possessive.  He’s overbearingly protective. 

Can these two find a suitable compromise?  Or will Tristan’s resentment and Corrik’s arrogance ruin forever their chance at love?

Tristan by Mock (S. Legend) is a gay romance fantasy featuring enemies-to-lovers vibes, an age gap, arranged marriage, first times, and a happy ending (um, eventually). This is the first action-adventure romance in the Tristan Trilogy.  Mock may have written it down, but truly it’s told by your lovable host, Tristan Kanes.  He’s funny, sarcastic and while it may not seem it at times, he’s the real person in charge of this story.


Hi. I’m Tristan Kanes. At least I was once upon a time. Tomorrow, who knows who I’m going to be? But I digress. I’m getting ahead of myself as usual. I’ll back up a bit. I thought it would be a good idea to attempt to run away from my destiny, but destiny tends to follow a person.

I’ve reached the upper ridges of Markaytia’s North Wood and I’ve been gone for several hours. Lucca will come after me soon. I creep to the edge of the plateau and look out to her, to Markaytia. Tomorrow, I’m to marry an Elven Prince. I know it sounds luxurious, every boy’s dream and all, but it isn’t that simple.

I must give up my entire life for this man.

It’s not long before I hear footsteps I recognize behind me. I’m certain of whom it is. I don’t even turn to look, until the tree branch pokes into my back.

He wants to fight me today, does he? I jump up with lightning speed, conditioned from the day I could stand on two feet and because I always take reconnaissance of my surroundings, I know there is a stick for me to use against him, two feet away. I snatch it up and take a defensive stance against my assassin. I strike, slice, slash, pierce, and segment his pathetic battle strategy—well, pathetic against mine. My cousin is a formidable swordsman—I outsmart him at every turn with my dexterous footwork and accom‐ plished foresight.

We’ve fought in many battles since the time we were fifteen and trained together from almost the moment we sprang from the womb—it’s in our blood. Peace is a warrior’s mission, yet in succeeding, he renders himself useless. It makes him no less driven to battle. Peace is a fleeting season, even for Markaytia, and I sense that this season of peace has had its turn and war is on the horizon. Either way, everywhere is dangerous now and the people need protection. War will continue to happen whether I want it to or not and when it does, I want to be the one leading the troops.

Now to convince my husband-to-be of that.

About the Author 

Some of you know her as Mock, others as S. Legend, or Miss S.  She welcomes all names but will often go by Mock, a name given to her by her readers.

Mock is an ambitious creative, weaving the most precious aspects of her soul into stories.  She is an architect, building fascinating worlds, designed from inquiry, rooted in worldly wonderings.  It’s an intuitive process where she is the scribe, the translator, the conduit. 

It helped that storytelling was the language spoken at home.  One simply didn’t say, “We have an ant infestation. ” In Mock’s family it was, “I was on my way to the living room, when a peculiar ant crossed my path.  I looked to my right, a suspicious line of them marched toward the pantry.  In that moment I knew; my kitchen was under siege.”  The natural flow of conversation always took this form.  

And so. 

When Mock wrote her first novel, she didn’t plan it chapter by chapter, there was no outline, no “plotting” to speak of.  But she didn’t “pants” it either, she didn’t make it up as she went along.  She knew how the story felt, where it curved in places and hollowed in others; she knew the destination it rushed toward.  Instead of orchestrating, she let the world inspire her, and held space for the words to come, trusting the characters knew what they were doing.  All she had to do was tell a story, as she always had done; like breathing.  

This is her peace, her healing and solace: Gifts better shared.

Mock’s works are the comfort you seek when you need to come home.  Her unique writing style will take you, wayfaring reader, to unexpected destinations. 

She always says, “I’m not in the business of making up stories, I couldn’t if I tried.  I’m lucky enough to get picked to share someone else’s story when I ask a question to the universe.  Someone answers; I write it down.” 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Facebook  |   Twitter  |  Instagram  

Newsletter Sign-up: Can either sign up at the website or email

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About the Narrator

Curtis Michael is a worldly creative and proud member of the LGBTQ+ and BIPOC communities. Having traveled and taught drama overseas for upwards of the past decade, he has somewhat recently taken up voice acting and narration. You’ll hear some of the flavourings of his experience in the Tristan audiobook, as the characters are wildly inspired from not only the world of Tristan, but also Curtis’ different cultural encounters. With two dogs, two cats and a Corrik of his own, Curtis currently resides in Southeast Asia. He can be found on the many beaches or secluded in his vocal booth poring over juicy stories at every chance he gets.

Website  |  Instagram

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Cover Reveal + Giveaway: Tangents & Tachyons by J. Scott Coatsworth

Author J. Scott Coatsworth and Other Worlds Ink share new cover for sci-fi collection, Tangents & Tachyons! And they're also hosting a giveaway! Check it out!

Tangents & Tachyons - J. Scott Coatsworth

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi collection out: Tangents & Tachyons. And there's a giveaway!

Tangents & Tachyons is Scott's second anthology - six sci fi and sci-fantasy shorts that run the gamut from time travel to hopepunk and retro spec fic:

Eventide: Tanner Black awakes to find himself in his own study, staring out the window at the end of the Universe. But who brought him there, and why?

Chinatown: Deryn lives in an old San Francisco department store with his girlfriend Gracie, and scrapes by with his talent as a dreamcaster for the Chinese overlords. But what if a dream could change the world?

Across the Transom: What if someone or something took over your body on an urgent mission to save your world?

Pareidolia: Simon's not like other college kids. His mind can rearrange random patterns to reveal the images lurking inside. But where did his strange gift come from? And what if there are others like him out there too?

Lamplighter: Fen has a crush on his friend Lewin, who's in a competing guild. But when the world goes dark, only a little illumination can save it. And only Fen, Lewin and their friend Alissa can light the spark. A Liminal Sky short.

Prolepsis: Sean is the closeted twenty-five-year-old editor of an 80's sci-fi 'zine called Prolepsis. When an unabashedly queer story arrives from a mysterious writer, it blows open Sean's closet door, and offers him the chance to change the world - and the future.

Plus two flash fiction stories – The System and The Frog Prince, never before published.

This is the first time all of these stories have all been collected in one place.

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From Pareidolia

(Never Before Published)

Simon slammed the lid on his sugar-free, two-pump, pulse-heated vanilla latte, before he might accidentally get a good look at the pattern on the coffee’s surface.

Ethan, the barista, usually covered it for him, but he’d forgotten this time. Simon, distracted by the coffee shop’s textured wall, had almost missed it.

He’d jerked his gaze away when the whorls and lines in the plaster had shifted into a mountain landscape. He looked around as casually as he could manage, hoping no one had noticed the wall moving.

Simon put his prescription glasses back on. They blurred his vision just enough to block his curse from shifting any other patterns. If anyone ever found out what he could do, they'd stick him in a cage like a lab rat.

Fooling the optometrist had been easy enough—he’d just pretended that the clear letters were fuzzy and vice versa. Unfortunately, they made the handsome barista fuzzy too.

Simon sighed under his breath. An imperfect solution to an unwanted gift. He waved. "Have a good one."

"You too." Ethan winked at him.

Simon hurried out of the Student Union, keeping his eyes pointed forward, avoiding the patterns that flocked to him like birds to seed—clouds in the sky, the grains of wood on a table… even the swirls on Tracey Martin’s designer bag in class. He emerged into the fresh morning air, ducking as a drone zipped past overhead carrying a pizza to someone's dorm.

He’d learned to control his curse in elementary school. Mostly. The glasses helped, and if he blurred his vision when the patterns started to become actual things, they stopped. Usually. Still, he’d gone to detention more than once for, "whatever you just did to your desk."

There was a name for seeing things in random patterns—pareidolia. But most people didn't seem to do it so literally.

"Ally, what’s the time?"

His PA responded in his ear in her usual chipper Italian accent. -It’s eleven-fifty-seven, Simon. You have a class in three minutes.-

"Crap." He ran down the steps, knocking the wallet out of a woman’s hands. He grabbed it and tossed it to her. "Sorry!"

Then he bolted down the sidewalk, dodging a group of students flicking data over their wrists, and leapt like a track star over a short hedge to shave off fifteen seconds.

One of the Sac State professors shouted after him, "Slow down!"

"Sorry! Late for a lecture!" He hated being late—it drew attention to himself, and he liked to blend in. Plus, it's a damned good course.

Professor Dandrich’s course—Finding Meaning in Interstellar Noise—was one of his favorites. If he could just find a job like that where he could use his strange ability…

Simon slipped into the hall and slammed into his seat in the front row of the lecture hall at a minute past noon, splashing his latte all over his arm. "Dammit."

Everyone turned to look at him, and heat rushed to his face. So much for blending in.

Author Bio

J. Scott Coatsworth Avatar

Scott lives with his husband Mark in a yellow bungalow in Sacramento. He was indoctrinated into fantasy and sci fi by his mother at the tender age of nine. He devoured her library, but as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were.

He decided that if there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

A Rainbow Award winning author, he runs Queer Sci Fi, QueeRomance Ink, and Other Worlds Ink with Mark, sites that celebrate fiction reflecting queer reality, and is a full member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA).

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Death in Bloomsbury (The Simon Sampson Mysteries #1) by David C. Dawson

Author David C. Dawson and Other Worlds Ink drop by on the Death in Bloomsbury (The Simon Sampson Mysteries #1) blog tour! Check out more information on the new historical mystery series and enter in the Amazon gift card giveaway!

A Death in Bloomsbury - David C. Dawson

David C. Dawson has a new gay historical crime thriller out: A Death in Bloomsbury. And there's a giveaway!

Everyone has secrets… but some are fatal.

1932, London. Late one December night Simon Sampson stumbles across the body of a woman in an alleyway. Her death is linked to a plot by right-wing extremists to assassinate the King on Christmas Day. Simon resolves to do his patriotic duty and unmask the traitors.

But Simon Sampson lives a double life. Not only is he a highly respected BBC radio announcer, but he’s also a man who loves men, and as such must live a secret life. His investigation risks revealing his other life and with that imprisonment under Britain’s draconian homophobic laws of the time. He faces a stark choice: his loyalty to the King or his freedom.

This is the first in a new series from award-winning author David C. Dawson. A richly atmospheric novel set in the shadowy world of 1930s London, where secrets are commonplace, and no one is quite who they seem.

About the Series

The Simon Sampson Mysteries start in London 1932 and continue through the 1930s across Europe. Set against the rise of fascism in the continent, the series features a man who does his patriotic duty to fight the enemy, even though as a gay man he's an outlaw.

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Simon arrived at Piccadilly Circus at ten minutes to eight that evening and waited to cross the road to the statue of Eros on its traffic island. This part of London always gave Simon a thrill of excitement. It buzzed with activity, like a giant beehive. There were swarms of people hurrying from work, or strolling towards a restaurant, theatre or bar. The metaphor was apt, because within fifty yards of where Simon stood there were so many queens.

Across the road was The Trocadero. Its Long Bar was always guaranteed to provide a gay evening for gentlemen in search of pleasure. A little farther on was the Empire Theatre in Leicester Square. Its Upper Gallery was popular with painted boys and men dressed in smart suits who spent an evening either exchanging acid-tongued witticisms or seeking a friend for the night.

Even at that time of the evening the traffic on Piccadilly Circus was almost stationary. Simon stepped off the pavement and wove his way between taxis and omnibuses queuing to drive up Shaftesbury Avenue or down the Haymarket. Cameron was waiting for him, and Simon was pleased to see he was once again soberly dressed in his immaculate black coat. This time with a grey scarf and black leather gloves. Young men of a similar age to Cameron were also standing on the steps of Eros, and they wore far more flamboyant clothing. Simon preferred to be inconspicuous when out with a gentleman friend. There was less chance that they might draw the attention of the police, or busys as his friends in the Fitzroy Tavern would call them.

“I do hope you’ve not been waiting long.” Simon took Cameron’s outstretched hand and squeezed it firmly. “It’s getting awfully cold. I think it might snow this Christmas.”

Cameron reached out his other hand and rested it on Simon’s hip. Simon pushed it away. “Best not here, old chap,” he whispered. “Awfully public you know.”

He released Cameron’s hand and pointed across the road. “We need to head towards Leicester Square. The Lily Pond is two roads up. And we can walk past the Trocadero on the way and see who’s out gadding tonight.”

“I’m glad I’m wi’ ye,” Cameron replied. “I’m still finding ma bearin’s in London. I’ve nae come down to this part of town since I moved to York House.”

“Oh, you should.” Simon led the way through the still stationary traffic to Coventry Street. “It’s frightfully exciting. And you can always be sure of meeting someone interesting.” He pointed to the corner of Glasshouse Street. “That’s the Regent Palace Hotel. Awfully good bar. Perfect place to meet gentlemen from overseas, and they can hire a room for you by the hour if that interests you.” He grabbed Cameron’s arm and pulled him to safety as a motor car attempted to circumvent the traffic jam and drove up onto the pavement.

“Try not to get yourself killed, my dear.”

Author Bio

David C. Dawson

David C. Dawson is an award-winning author, journalist and documentary maker. He writes gay romance and contemporary thrillers featuring gay heroes in love.

His latest book The Foreign Affair was published in 2020. It's the third in the Delingpole Mysteries series.

The first in the series: The Necessary Deaths, won an FAPA award in the best suspense/thriller category.

David’s also written two gay romances: For the Love of Luke and Heroes in Love.

He lives near Oxford, with his boyfriend and two cats. In his spare time, he tours Europe and sings with the London Gay Men's Chorus.

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