Release Blitz + Giveaway: 760 Miles (Northern Horizons #1) by A.E. Lister

Author AE Lister and Pride Publishing celebrate new historical erotica release, 760 Miles (Northern Horizons #1)! Learn more about the new series and enter in the First Romance giveaway!

 

760 Miles by AE Lister

Book 1 in the Northern Horizons series

Word Count:  92,758
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 342

Genres:

ACTION AND ADVENTURE
BONDAGE AND BDSM
COWBOYS AND WESTERN
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
HISTORICAL

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 Book Description 

How far would you travel for one man?

The very last thing Jimmy Downing needed was a skinny traveling partner who acted half his age with a chip on his shoulder and no idea how the real world worked, because Jimmy had a lot of experience with the world and he wanted no part of it anymore.

He was trying his best to be an honorable man after two decades of being outside the law. He’d stolen things. He’d killed people in the name of survival. He’d helped other men do horrible things. But now he was keeping his head down and trying to live under the radar. T’wasn’t his fault that Oscar needed someone to show him right from wrong, give him something to eat on the regular and try to keep him out of trouble, so he didn’t end up making a mess of his life the way Jimmy had. Maybe that was what being a good man was all about.

Except the things Jimmy wanted from this twenty-one-year-old man were far from respectable, and he couldn’t stop thinking about them, especially when Oscar Yates of the big brown eyes, cackle of a laugh and insatiable appetite for anything grilled over an open fire insisted on pushing all his buttons.

How was Jimmy going to last the 760 miles to Port Essington without giving in to those needs Oscar called to with the hint of a smile and a smart-assed curse? Because if Jimmy did give in, it would mean both of them living outside the law and never having the chance at a decent life again.

Excerpt

The stench of Dawson City hit me before anything else. My wagon full of supplies for Mr. Henley had merged with more traffic several miles before, so I must have been getting close to civilization—or what passed for civilization in these here parts.

And by more traffic, I only meant there was one other wagon and a couple of horses with riders on the road ahead of me. Most who traveled this country in the summer months used the river systems instead of picking their way through the tricky overland passes and uneven ground.

I liked the risk of it, seeing as how this was a safer way of living than anything I’d done o’er the past twenty years. I was traveling the straight and narrow now, trying to be an honest, hardworking man. I’d wasted the glory of my youth with a band of no-good thieves and murderers, doing their dirty work for nothing but a smile and a kick to the trousers. Yeah, I’d had a place in the world, but it hadn’t taken long to realize t’wasn’t a good one. Problem was, it had taken more time to figure out how to leave that life behind than it had to realize that I wanted to.

But I had found a way out, and my theories on how much I was worth to them had been correct. Nobody had lifted a finger to find me. I was nothing to them and always had been. Spook, Whitlaw and the gang were rotten, immoral men who used folks then tossed them aside when they weren’t of use no more—or simply didn’t care if those people decided to quit them.

Even though it stung, since there’d been a time that I’d imagined they’d liked me and maybe thought of me as a valuable addition to their circle, t’was a blessing. Because if either of them had decided t’was in their best interests to get me back into the gang or to make sure I didn’t go joining any other gangs, I would have been disposed of a long time ago. But I figured they didn’t care one way or another what I was doing now, and they’d probably rounded up a couple of greenhorns to train into the life the way they wanted, doing their dirty work and being witness to more cruelty than they could ever imagine.

Now I was hauling supplies on the regular by way of the Overland Trail and doing it for less money than Mr. Henley would pay a riverboat captain. It didn’t leave much extra for me, but it paid for keeping up the horses and the wagon, gave me something to do that I enjoyed and a way to be my own boss. My life was my own, small as t’was, and I was eternally grateful for that.

T’was rough terrain I traveled, and there were wild animals that would kill me if I wasn’t on the lookout. But I loved this country, and I knew it from twenty years of roaming and outlawing with the gang before I’d left that life in the Yukon dust.

The gold rush that had mobilized half the continent was long o’er, and most of the folks left were simply hanging on. To what, I wasn’t rightly sure. I’d been delivering supplies to Mr. Henley for a couple of years, since 1904, and ‘The Paris of the North’ had long since failed to live up to its name. The city just kept getting dirtier and the people more desperate. What little economy was left centered around small shops and mining operations that remained, trying to make sense of a world where towns were built up then abandoned in the blink of an eye, when better offerings were found elsewhere.

The city was on the decline and full of desperate people.

There were one or two decent hotels left, so after I’d unloaded the wagon at Mr. Henley’s store with the help of his son, I made my way to the Miner’s Rest Hotel on Front Street in the middle of all the action. By ‘action’, I meant the dubious operation of a number of saloons and cathouses that were left o’er from the gold rush days. But, where they might have enjoyed a brief time of luxury and the illusion of respectability, now they languished in a sorry state of lefto’er offerings and a dank sense of necessity.

There were still miners in and around Dawson City with gold to spend, but they were few and far between, and a far cry from the gold dust that had flowed for a few years at the end of the century. That gold had made this city, and now t’was dying without it. T’was a shadow of its former self, and I knew that because I’d seen it at its height, back when I’d been with the gang. We’d make the occasional trip into town after a good job and spend our money on whores and liquor.

The whores in those days had been personable, intelligent and outspoken women—lots of them pretty, many of whom were in Dawson to mine the gold out of the miner’s themselves, make their fortune on their backs and head back to the places they’d come from, to lead respectable lives with no word as to how they’d gotten their money. They were a special breed, these young women, hardy and enterprising. But they’d left to follow the gold and the miners to Alaska when the pickings got slim in Dawson, and now the only ones left were the ones who had no other choice but to do the work they did. I’m not saying a man couldn’t find a good one, and some of the cathouses had higher standards than others in terms of cleanliness and the way they did business.

But things were different now, and the town was dying of neglect.

Even as I stabled the horses and left the wagon in the care of a stableman at the hotel, I saw a young fella in grimy clothes and worn shoes swipe an apple from where it sat on the wagon bed, where it must have tumbled out of one of the boxes I’d delivered to Mr. Henley. T’was hard to guess his age under all the filth—probably an adult, although barely. He looked awful young to me…and scraggly.

I met his gaze, and he froze like he thought I’d go after him or mention him to the stable hand. But I wasn’t gonna do that. I held his wary gaze for a whole second, trying to let him know I didn’t have anything against him, and I wasn’t gonna tell anyone about the apple. He narrowed his eyes at me as his grimy hand tightened around the bruised fruit, and he took it and turned tail, moving fast into the street so he wouldn’t get caught if I changed my mind.

A shiver snaked down my spine because I’d seen a desperate look like that before. Those eyes knew pain and abuse, hunger and hopelessness. I hated everything about those eyes and what they meant—that this youngster was reduced to the most basic of human needs and even those weren’t being met. But I shook it off, because there was more than one desperate, starving fella in this town, and I couldn’t do anything about it. And there wasn’t no use worrying about any of them.

In the hotel I paid for a large room with a double bed because I had the money and I was sick of camping on the ground. Mr. Henley had paid me and given me a bonus because he was pleased with my punctuality and the quality of the goods I’d delivered. So, goddammit, I was gonna spend a few days living in style.

First off, I needed a bath then a meal. Then I was gonna get myself a whore and fuck all the hardships of the past few weeks of rough travel out of my system..

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First For Romance

About the Author

AE Lister

AE Lister/Elizabeth Lister is a Canadian non-binary author with a vivid imagination and a head full of unique and interesting characters. They have published 10 books, one of which received an Honorable Mention from the National Leather Association – International for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.

“Sensual and visceral BDSM.” – Amazon.ca

Find out more about AE Lister at their website, and follow them on Instagram and Patreon.

Giveaway

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Daring Duplicity (The Wellington Mysteries Vol. 1) by Edale Lane

Welcome author Edale Lane and Other Worlds Ink as they make a tour stop for, Daring Duplicity (The Wellington Mysteries Vol. 1)! Read more and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Daring Duplicity

Edale Lane has a new FF historical steampunk book out: Daring Duplicity. And there's a giveaway!

Solving mysteries is her business. Finding love is her dream. Will combining the two get her killed?

Victorian Era England. Stetson revels in being unconventional. So when society shies away from her independent nature, the bold woman creates an imaginary boss and opens her own detective agency. And her keen observational skills, convincing disguises, and Holmesian methods quickly bring in a string of tough-to-crack cases.

Struggling to squeeze a personal life in around a series of hazardous investigations, Stetson worries she'll never find a woman of like-passions. But with her heart set on true love despite the risk, she carries on hunting for the perfect relationship.

Will her clever escapades lead to death… or delight?

Daring Duplicity: The Wellington Mysteries, Vol. 1, Adventures of a Lesbian Victorian Detective is a collection of five sequential novellas, each encompassing its own exciting mystery while furthering the story of Stetson’s life in London. If you enjoy crime dramas, Victorian era fiction, or a sweet lesbian romance, then you’ll love award-winning author Edale Lane’s Daring Duplicity. Order yours today!

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Giveaway

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

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Excerpt

Jewel gripped her own gloved hands and scanned the room anxiously. "It is a matter of the utmost discretion," she began in a tone much more demanding than she had intended. "It is of a personal nature, you see," she continued more gently and forced a polite smile. "May I speak with Mr. Wellington in private?"

Miss Goody responded with a pleasant smile of her own. "I'm afraid that will not be possible. Mr. X is extremely successful in foiling criminals because of his anonymity. In fact, no one has ever seen him but me. All correspondence between the investigator and the clients goes through his assistant—me. So how this works is, you tell me the specifics, I talk to him, and he gives me a list of questions to ask, and so forth. I assure you, anything you say to me will be kept in the strictest of confidence, just as if you were conversing with the detective himself."

"I see." The assistant paused for a moment before continuing and her attention fell on Miss Goody for the first time, being specifically drawn to ample breasts squeezed into her buttoned waist coat. It required conscious effort for Jewel to raise her gaze, but doing so she became captivated by two warm, caring cognac eyes. "Very well, then. I am being blackmailed, and the nature of the information being held over me makes it impossible to go to Scotland Yard, or a constable, or even my father, for the money. I receive an allowance, not enough to meet the foul villain's demands, but sufficient to cover your agency's fees and expenses I'm sure."

"I see," she replied with a soft expression of compassion. "Was the man you were seen with married, or simply from the wrong side of the tracks?"

"Well," Jewel stammered, cleared her throat, and fixed her gaze on a painting on the wall. "Not exactly. And he has a photograph."

Miss Goody sighed and leaned forward, her palms on the desk top. "Now, Lady Jewel Ashton, if we are to find this blackmailer and save your reputation, you cannot hold anything back. How can Mr. Wellington help you if you won't tell us the whole story?"

"It is not my reputation I am concerned with," she admitted, a hint of real fear trembling in her voice. "My whole family could be ruined, utterly ruined, and destroy my father's political career. We would be forced to retreat to our estate in the countryside. I cannot allow shame to come upon my family for one moment's indiscretion."

Miss Goody met her eyes. "I assure you if you provide Mr. X all the information he needs, he can find this scoundrel, take back the photo and the plates, and give him every reason to keep his deceitful mouth closed on the matter."

Jewel held her gaze for a long moment, and believing her sincerity, made a decision—the only one she could really make. She opened her reticule and withdrew a tan envelope. "Someone left this in my carriage while I was shopping. My driver said he didn't see or hear a thing." She placed the parcel on the desk within Miss Goody's reach and held her breath.

#

Stetson opened the envelope and spilled its contents out onto the desk. Inside was a note and a photograph, not of Jewel kissing a married man, but another young woman! For an instant, time stood still. A flush rose in Jewel's cheeks while Stetson's mouth absently fell agape as she stared dumbfounded at the image. Stetson's mind raced almost as fast as her heart. Could it be that this beautiful gem who walked in this morning has the same inclination as myself? Could there actually be other women who love women, that I am not a singular oddity? She not only had these thoughts, but acted on them! She had never met another like-minded woman—not to mention one whose looks could stop a locomotive in its tracks like Jewel Ashton.

She was roused from her musings when she heard a desperate voice from across the desk. "So now you see the urgency and delicacy of the matter."

She quickly shoved the note and the photograph back into the envelope and replied with sincerity. "Do not be distressed, Lady Jewel Ashton. We will take care of this with great expediency. I shall show these to the detective and he will know just what to do. Wait here. I'll return anon."

Stetson stepped into the room behind her, leaned against the closed door, and let out a deep sigh. With eyes shut and hugging herself, she took a moment to process the warm thrill that rose from her loins. Reveling in the euphoric rush, she wanted to believe the impossible–that maybe her dreams could come true. Mayhap there was a chance, ever so slight, that she, too, could act on her passions. Her breathing became ragged as she imagined kissing Jewel, and being kissed in return. Her heart pounded in excitement. Until reality stuck its ugly head into her dream reminding her there was a case to solve. Stetson moaned softly in aggravation and opened her eyes to glance around her inner sanctum.

Within the confines of Mr. Wellington's lair were all the implements one would need to be a successful private investigator. On the wall to the left was an array of weapons, including both an umbrella and walking cane hiding swords in their handles, an umbrella with a singleshot rifle barrel and a trigger in the handle, several knives, guns, and gadgets. A glass-doored cabinet contained other curiosities such as a wristwatch that concealed a tiny explosive, a unique copper and brass miniature camera with flash attachment, a mirror attached to a long folding pole for seeing around corners or over walls, telescopic opera glasses, and a voice recording device. There was a table holding an array of wigs in vast colors and styles for both men and women, false beards and moustaches, along with an exhaustive selection of hats. Hanging from hooks on another wall were various costumes for the well-to-do business people, and the poor, male and female alike. There was a large vanity with a mirror and cases of cosmetics and face powder as one might see backstage of a theatre. Yes, the windowless room had all the trappings to outfit a man of mystery save one—there was no Xavier Wellington… only Stetson.


Author Bio

Edale Lane

Edale Lane is an award-winning author (Rainbow Awards, Imaginarium Awards, Lesfic Bard Awards) who is realizing her dream of being a full-time writer. She is the alter-ego of author Melodie Romeo, (Tribute in Blood, Terror in Time, and others) who founded Past and Prologue Press. Both identities are qualified to write historical fiction by virtue of an MA in History and 24 years spent as a teacher, along with skill and dedication regarding research. A native of Vicksburg, MS, Edale (or Melodie) is also a musician who loves animals, gardening, and nature. After driving an 18-wheeler cross-country for eight years, she now lives with her partner in beautiful Chilliwack, B.C. Canada.

Author Website: https://pastandprologuepress.lpages.co/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/melodie.romeo/

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Pastandprologuepress/

Author Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/EdaleLane

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/edale_lane/

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/15264354.Edale_Lane

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/edale-land/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/edale-land/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Edale-Lane/e/B07GRFPDRZ

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Cover Reveal: Venerably Daray (D’Vaire #28) by Jessamyn Kingley

Author Jessamyn Kingley and Gay Book Promotions return to preview the new cover of upcoming fated mates romance, Venerably Daray (D’Vaire #28)! Learn more about the book today!

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Venerably Daray (D’Vaire, Book 28)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Publisher: Independently Published

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson of Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: March 31, 2022

Genres: MM Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

Trope: Fated mates

Themes: Love

Heat Rating:  3 flames

Length: 95 441 words

It is book 28 in the D’Vaire series and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads Series Link

Even with Fate’s blessing, there are no guarantees in life or love.

Blurb

Skeleton Lord Brynnius Daray is happiest when he’s wielding his daggers or elbow deep in flour, baking some wondrous treat. As an elite assassin, Brynnius spends his days protecting the Council of Sorcery and Shifters, and his evenings are for family. The Darays are lively and dedicated, and Brynnius loves them fiercely. However, at night he is alone, and Brynnius yearns for his mate.

Having been recently resurrected, Samson is desperate to prove his worth as a fallen knight. The trouble is, Samson is part of a ground-breaking experiment—and the new spell is flawed. Or perhaps it is the man himself that has issues. While Samson struggles to understand his purpose, he learns that Brynnius is the other half of his soul.

Although Fate has brought them together, neither man is sure what the future holds. To figure it out, they must confront the past and reconcile their present. Just when Samson and Brynnius finally find common ground, the world intrudes. Nothing will ever be the same for the Darays.

Excerpt 

Brynnius loved his job, and he had a wonderful family and a beautiful home, which he shared with the rest of the Darays. When he wasn’t fighting crime or combing through Council bills to aid Alaric in voting appropriately, Brynnius was baking. If there was a recipe for something sweet or delicious, the sentinel wanted to hunt for the ingredients.

Around him, the Darays and his larger extended family, known as D’Vaire, praised his baked treats, which gave Brynnius the confidence to continue to make them yummy things. It was fun to travel around the world to grab things unavailable within the Council, and Brynnius liked surprising everyone with novel treats. 

Brynnius was pondering whether to make the blackcurrant tarts he’d recently found a recipe for when he pulled open the door to the resurrection room inside the shared training center that belonged to the fallen knights and sentinels.

The moment Brynnius crossed the threshold, his entire body went haywire. As a sentinel, Brynnius lacked sexuality, and had no concept of outer beauty, so his dick growing hard stunned him. It was a sensation foreign to Brynnius, yet it wasn’t unpleasant. 

His mind was overloaded with the terrific smell—a mixture of vanilla cupcakes and cinnamon coffeecake. At the end of the hall, Brynnius spied Venerable Knight Arvandus Ruarc-Daray—a member of his family and the only man to be permanently resurrected twice.

Next to Arvandus was a stranger with a head full of glossy, gorgeous black curls. He was built on a massive scale. As they moved closer, Brynnius wondered if the stranger’s shoulders were even broader than his own. Although he wanted to get closer to the stranger, there was too much chaos in Brynnius’s mind for him to move. The man at Arvandus’s side was Brynnius’s mate, and Brynnius had no idea what to do. 

A beautiful smile crossed the man’s face, and there was a confused curiosity in his gaze. Since the man was freshly resurrected, Brynnius doubted he understood their connection or felt the same clamoring inside himself. 

“Fallen Knight, Rank One Samson, this is Skeleton Lord Brynnius Daray,” Arvandus said with a flash of his oft-used grin.

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Skeleton Lord. I apologize that I don’t have a last name yet to give you. The Arch Lich wishes to honor my dragon and needs to speak to the Emperors in order to decide how best to do that.”

“The pleasure is mine, Samson,” Brynnius remarked softly and offered him a nod. 

Sentinels did not touch strangers, though Brynnius readily admitted to himself that he wanted to be close to Samson. It would have to wait. The fallen knight was unsteady on his feet, so Brynnius didn’t want to keep him in the hall, despite his innate desire to know everything about him and not leave his side. 

“Are you on the way to your room?” Brynnius asked.

“Yes, VK Arvandus told me to pick the one closest to the cafeteria.”

That was no surprise to Brynnius; he was aware Arvandus always offered that favored space to the first recruit. Flustered, Brynnius was unsure if he’d remembered to offer Samson a traditional sentinel nod in greeting, so he bobbed his head. 

“Good choice. Good luck with your training,” he said.

“Thank you, Skeleton Lord.”

“See ya later, Brynn,” Arvandus remarked. 

They turned the corner toward the dormitories, and Brynnius smiled at Samson, who turned back twice. The fallen knight might not understand their connection yet, but Brynnius was bolstered by his interest. It’d help him get through the next eight weeks, since Brynnius couldn’t be with Samson until he graduated. 

Brynnius was determined to allow Samson to train without distractions as Reverent Knight Drystan had allowed his mate to do when he was resurrected. But unlike Drystan, Brynnius intended to tell no one about his encounter with Samson. The last thing Brynnius wanted to do was keep his family on pins and needles with excitement over the next two months. 

After Samson was discharged from the Ascension Center, Brynnius would finally be able to talk to him again, and they’d be able to start their journey as mates. Until then, Brynnius planned on reflecting often on the extraordinarily handsome man with the unique eyes, and preparing for their future.

About the Author 

Jessamyn Kingley lives in Nevada where she begs the men in her head to tell her their amazing stories which she dutifully writes it all down in what has become a small mountain of notebooks. She falls in love with each couple and swears whatever book she wrote last is her absolute favorite.

Jessamyn is married and working toward remembering to start the dishwasher without being distracted by the scent of the magical detergent. For personal enjoyment, she aids in cat rescue while slashing and gashing her way through mobs in various MMORPGs. Caffeine is her very best friend and is only cast aside briefly for the sin better known as BBQ potato chips.

Visit her website 

Join her Facebook group, Jessamyn's Ruffian's

Social Media Links

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Toxic by Rick R. Reed

Author Rick R. Reed and IndiGo Marketing share new release info for Toxic! Find out more about the new horror and enter in the NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Toxic

Author: Rick R. Reed

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/15/2022

Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77900

Genre: Horror, LGBTQIA+, author, men with children, mystery, criminal, murderer, celebrities, dark, over 40, revenge, tear jerker, Seattle

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Description

Connor Ryman thought he had it all—a successful career as a mystery novelist, a condo with stunning views of Seattle’s Lake Union, a supportive and long-term partner, Steve, and a loving daughter, Miranda, who was following in her father’s creative footsteps.

It all went bad when Steve left the family suddenly. Jilted and heartbroken, Connor begins to search for love online. So long off the market, he enlists his daughter’s help in crafting a dating profile.

His prayers are answered when Trey Goodall, smart and handsome, answers his ad. He’s witty, urbane, a wealthy attorney, and his sex appeal is off the charts. But he’s a liar, a monster under a pretty mask. Miranda sees through the red flags and senses something very wrong beneath the fa├žade.

Can she convince her father to save himself before it’s too late? Or will Trey, a master manipulator with a very tainted history, play upon Connor’s innocence to ensnare him in a web of deceit, intrigue, and, ultimately, murder?

 


 

Excerpt

Toxic
Rick R. Reed © 2022
All Rights Reserved

“I know who you are and I saw what you did.”

The voice on the phone was tinged with acid, yet came out a little shaky and short of breath.

Despite the fear and acrimony in the voice, Trey Goodall hoped that the caller, a man named Jimmy Dale, was making a feeble joke, a lame reference to an old black-and-white thriller from the ’60s. Trey wasn’t ready for his game to be over.

“That’s funny, Jim. Did you watch that movie when you were a kid too? Back in the days of black-and-white TVs and Chiller Theater?”

“I’m not trying to be funny, Trey.” Jimmy halted, obviously frustrated. A slow grin creased Trey’s features. Jimmy sucked in air, obviously holding a sob in check.

There’s something delicious about when they cry.

Despite the delight in Jimmy’s pain, Trey feared it might come to this. This one, he knew, was too smart to stay in the dark for long. Sooner or later, Trey always got found out. He had a trail of broken hearts—and shattered bank accounts—behind him to prove it. Still, later was better because he could usually walk away with a little something in his pocket.

“Then what are you trying to be, dollface?”

“Oh, please save the terms of endearment—”

Trey interrupted. “Another movie reference! Bravo. When do I get a chance to play?”

His question, predictably, was answered with silence on the other end. Trey pressed the phone closer to his ear, listening for further telltale signs of tears, of trauma, of despair. Not that his aim was to instigate any of those emotions, but Trey was like a dog—any attention was good.

Finally, Jimmy spoke. “I don’t want to see or hear from you ever again.”

“Aw, you’re breaking my heart here.” Trey threw open the door to his motel room on Aurora Avenue. Outside, in the waning purple-gray light of dusk, a couple fought, seemingly to the death, in the litter-strewn parking lot. The woman had bleached blonde hair, a handful of which her companion had clutched in one hand. She wore an old flannel shirt, the sleeves cut off. It had come open and her dirty bra showed. The guy was a brute, big and hairy, and obviously had never learned how to treat a lady.

A kid of about eighteen, at most, sat on the curb in front of a parked rusted-out SUV. He was wearing a hoodie, ripped jeans, and a pair of work boots. His head was shaved and this, combined with his whitish pallor and skin-and-bones physique, made him look like a concentration camp survivor. A rheumy, bloodshot gaze moved dully over to Trey. The kid made a lame attempt to hide the meth pipe in his hand.

Trey slammed the door. He deserved better than this sordid dump. He should have been living in a luxury condo downtown overlooking Puget Sound, or maybe a house on Bainbridge Island with expansive mountain and water views.

Instead, here he was on Seattle’s Aurora Avenue, in one of a cluster of rundown motels where the clientele consisted of addicts, prostitutes, and those seeking to party with a capital T in one of the rooms.

He didn’t deserve enduring the chance of bedbugs or crabs. He didn’t like living amid cigarette-burned carpets and mold and hair decorating the bathroom fixtures.

“Stop.” Jimmy sucked in some more air. The guy’s gonna need an asthma inhaler soon. But Trey supposed he was trying to gain a measure of control. Jimmy was wounded, and of course he wanted to hide it, but he couldn’t. “Your heart can’t be breaking because you haven’t got one to break.”

“Ouch.” Trey chuckled, as though to demonstrate the insult was simply water off a duck’s back.

But it wasn’t.

Trey would never let on, but the reference cut like a knife to his very real heart, which was a broken thing.

In his mind, a vision arose. Trey chased it away as quickly as it appeared—but there it was: a vision of his mom, back in Trey’s old hometown of Wellsville, Ohio, burning him with her cigarette and laughing as Trey tried to be brave, tried desperately not to scream or wince because he knew if he showed his pain, his fear, it would only make things worse. Now it was his turn to try to buck up, be brave. “Things not working out the way you expected?”

There was no mirth in Jimmy’s laugh. Trey wanted to ask which was better—bitter laughter or abject tears. But he kept quiet and waited. He’d been through this before. Caught. Discarded.

There was always another sucker in the wings.

“What I expected…” Jimmy trailed off and started again. “What I expected was maybe a relationship. I’m forty-seven years old, Trey. I’ve spent my whole life pushing love away so I could build my career. Now I have a thriving law practice and make more money than I really know what to do with. But you know all that. You knew all that, I figure, before we even met, when you were researching me. I know you don’t have it in you to feel compassion or empathy, but all the money and success in the world doesn’t change the fact that I come home every night to a professionally decorated condominium in the clouds. Alone. Wishing I’d spent more time seeking love instead of that almighty dollar.” He drew in a breath that sounded like a shudder. “Ah, what do you care? You wanted my money. You’re not alone, but you were greedier and sneakier than most.”

Jimmy stopped and Trey listened again for some sign. Would it be worth it to try to save things? Maybe woo Jimmy with the old lines—this was all a misunderstanding. I really love you, man. I started off with bad intentions, but then you caught me. Can we start over? Sometimes crap like that worked. Trey was smart enough, and experienced enough, to know it wouldn’t here.

It’s too late, baby.

“Was any of it true?” Jimmy wondered.

Trey was getting bored. He had no use for this man with whom he’d shared so many recent days and nights. He was worthless now that he’d exposed Trey for who he really was. What Jimmy didn’t know, and didn’t need to know, was that what he’d discovered about Trey was only the tip of the iceberg.

It’s time to move on.

Trey glanced in the mirror over the bathroom sink and nodded approvingly. He still had it. Pushing fifty, but looking at least a decade younger, he was gorgeous. Black wavy hair, ice-blue eyes, full lips, a body taut and packed with muscle. He could always dazzle, and all the magic hadn’t escaped.

There’d be someone else.

And with that someone else, he might hit that elusive jackpot.

The laptop was already open on the desk. And there were eleven new messages.

For once, Trey might as well tell the truth. “No, kid. None of it was true. You’re pathetic. Weak. I feel sorry for you, more than anything else.” He said the words casually, as though they were discussing the weather or how the Seahawks were faring this season. “You’re a fool. A fool for love.” Trey chuckled.

And that broke Jimmy. He began to sob harder now, the grief confirmed and kicking its way to the surface.

Trey listened as the sobbing grew in volume and agony. This is a drag, a bore. He stared longingly at the door, wishing this would be over. How long did he have to listen anyway? Just to be polite? He cut to the quick. “You’ve been played,” Trey said softly. “Get over it.”

He hung up. The computer’s glow reminded him that it was time to find someone else. The right one. A chime alerted him he had yet another message.

But there would be time to attend to that in the morning. Time also for reading. He glanced down at his nightstand. A mystery novel, Cookie Cutter by Alfred Knox, lay there in its mass market paperback edition. It had a stark white cover with only an illustration of a heart-shaped cookie cutter which dripped blood into the crimson title. Below it, a stack of old magazines with articles about Knox, who lived only a few miles south.

Right now, though, Trey needed a little oblivion. He crossed the room and opened the door. The kid with the meth pipe still sat out there on the curb. He didn’t even bother to hide his glass pipe now.

Trey cast his most winning smile. “Wanna come inside?” He opened the door wider, stepping back and confidently waiting as the kid stood.

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.

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Review: Making History at Crofton Hall (Modern Crofton #2) by Rebecca Cohen

Crofton Hall is buzzing with anticipation for the filming of the Secret Histories TV special about a scandalous affair that has been hidden for over four hundred years.

The hall's new historian, Dara Callaghan, is drawn not just by the hall's rich history but to TV producer, Nathan Lorimer. Nathan is finally ready to start dating again, several years after the death of his husband. There's something about Dara, a quietly spoken Irishman, and the romance that surrounds Crofton Hall, that makes him want to take a chance.

Meanwhile, Ben Redbourn, 16th Earl of Crofton, is trying to persuade his boyfriend Ashley Niven that he'd like to don doublet and hose and play Sebastian to his Anthony. But Ashley's not having any of it... until someone else agrees to the take the part of the 1st Earl of Crofton's lover.

This is the second Modern Crofton novel, featuring Benjamin Redbourn, the 16th Earl of Crofton and descendant of Anthony Redbourn, 1st Earl of Crofton from my historical series, The Crofton Chronicles. While designed to be read as a standalone, events that lead to this novel follow chronologically from Saving Crofton Hall.

Trigger warnings: discussion of grief and dealing with bereavement.



I feel like I should begin this review with a disclaimer that I have read The Crofton Chronicles and Anthony and Sebastian hold a very special place in my heart. So with that, when I saw the author was writing a series on the modern Crofton’s I knew I had to read them.

In the first book, Saving Crofton Hall, we get the situation Benjamin Redbourn, 16th Earl of Crofton is in and how he will open Crofton Hall for public use so that his family can regain their financial loss. We meet Ashley as the events coordinator and get their fun romance as they turn a family estate into the premier location for weddings etc. But along the way to all of that, Ben and Ashley had found a box that contained some pretty interesting letters from Anthony Redbourn, the first Earl, to possibly his lover, an actor named Sebastian Hewell.

Now, as I said before I know the story of Anthony and Sebastian; how they met, the deceit they portrayed with Sebastian as his sister Bronwyn and their life together. I adored their story so much that when I went back and read the epilogue of Forever Hold His Peace, the last book in The Crofton Chronicles, I turned into a redheaded mess of emotions. But back to what’s happening now. Ben and Ashely find the box with the letters, they contact the needed people who could authenticate the letters, matching Anthony’s handwriting etc and this launches a television special of Secret Histories series.

So, that’s where Making History at Crofton Hall begins. We meet the hall's new historian, Dara Callaghan and TV producer, Nathan Lorimer. These two don’t have an instant love story but rather one of slow burn that takes time to get started. You see, Nathan is a widower and loved his husband deeply and part of that love is still with him so while he finds Dara attractive, he needs to take his time. It’s wonderful that our resident Irishman is so damn patient and his being so definitely pays off.

Now while this is Dara and Nathan’s romance, the love story of this series truly belongs to that of Crofton Hall and it’s history. The beginning of this book is loaded with everything about the hall and it’s previous earls focusing primarily on Anthony and Sebastian; including the excavation of the family crypt to see who is really buried with Anthony. So if you’re looking for insta love with this, don’t. I’m not saying there isn’t ample opportunity for the on page romance and intimacy, I’m just saying this series is more involved.

It was an interesting decision from the author to give this book four POV’s. Yes, I said four. We get Dara, Nathan and we get Ben and Ashley. While I like getting more of the previous couple, I think they stole the show more so than even Anthony and Sebastian. Their sex was hotter than Dara and Nathan’s and even Ashley’s jealousy won me over more than the cuddling of Dara and Nathan. I don’t know if it was a good decision to put SO MUCH of them in this book, but I am not the one making that decision.

Anyway, all of this rambling leads to one conclusion; I adored this book. I do think new readers can enjoy it and give them the intrigue and angst of the reveal about Anthony and Sebastian. For me, as someone who already knows their story, it’s fun to see how these new characters react to the possibility that an Earl of Shakespearean time loved another man so much, he would sacrifice everything to be with him.


A copy was provided in exchange for an honest review.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Devil's Demigod (Hellbound #3) by Alexa Piper

Author Alexa Piper and IndiGo Marketing share new release The Devil's Demigod (Hellbound #3)! Find out more about the paranormal suspense from Changeling Press and check out the giveaway!
 

Title: The Devil's Demigod

Series: Hellbound #3

Author: Alexa Piper

Publisher: Changeling Press, LLC

Release Date: March 11, 2022

Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 140 pages

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, Action Adventure, BDSM, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, Gay, Murder Mystery, Romantic Comedy, Urban Fantasy, Dark Desires

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Synopsis

Not long ago, necromancer Lionel didn’t know who his parents were or why they abandoned him. He’s starting to think that ignorance was bliss as the fact he has a death goddess for a mother is becoming increasingly hard to ignore. That his father is a murderous magic user comes as an even darker revelation.

Lucifer is well aware that his boyfriend and powerful necromancer Lionel is not the easiest person to love, but Lucifer is the Devil, and he doesn’t lie, not even to himself. He’ll take Lionel any way he can get him, and Lucifer will do whatever it takes to keep Lionel safe. It’s turning into a fulltime occupation with Lionel’s penchant for attracting murderous individuals.

Lionel will have to come to grips with his own still unfamiliar demigod magic before the past can catch up with him, but he also needs to figure out if and how he can love the Devil. Lucifer cannot wait for his long game to tame his stubborn necromancer to bear fruit, but before the Devil can savor his prize, he might have to rescue Lionel yet again, this time from getting lost in the labyrinth of the past.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Lucifer

I stood in the too-high snow outside of the dragon mother’s house, leaning on the shovel and staring at my phone.

Sleeping in your arms was nice, Nelly had texted. Well, if it really was the PTSD getting him to soften up finally, I approved.

I love holding you, babe, I texted back. I’ll do it whenever you need me to.

He didn’t immediately respond to that, so I cleared away some snow, which was a damn workout. Across the street, one of the dragon mother’s neighbors was watching me unsubtly from a window. I ran a gloved hand through my hair and hoped it made them gasp.

After five minutes, Nelly hadn’t texted back, and I leaned the shovel against the dragon mother’s house.

“You are not done,” she said from where she looked down on me from a window on the second floor.

“Tiamat, I am the Devil, and I am taking a break,” I said, trying to use lack of candor to circumvent the truth.

“Dodging your chores is how even the Devil gets a permanent bad-hair-day curse, Lucy.”

Well, to hell went the circumnavigation of truth. “Nelly didn’t text me back, so I need to go check on him. I’ll get my chores done, Tiamat.”

“Ah, the tribulations of young love. You’ll need the good hair, then,” she said and closed the window back up again. What I wouldn’t give to know what was going on in her head sometimes. And I was more than my perfect hair. I had character. And he loved my wings.

I teleported to the station, to right outside Nelly’s office, which was basically a broom closet. The door was closed, and I heard wet noises from inside that made me burst straight in.

Marc Deacon, instead of doing what I knew he wanted to with my boyfriend, was sitting in a cheap folding chair and crying. Good for him. I’d have given him a genuine reason for tears if I’d found him fondling Nelly, like a missing tongue or twisted testicles.

“What? I didn’t think you’d be the gloating type,” the unskilled necromancer said.

“Meaning?”

“Meaning Lionel picked you.” He shook his head and rubbed at his swollen eyes. “He’s too good for you. I don’t care if you turn my bones to jelly, but Lionel is smart and shy and sexy and really funny when he opens up, and you don’t deserve to use him for your own amusement and cheat on him while you do it.” He looked back up at me, but even my hellpoodle had a more intimidating glare. “You could have anyone, I’m sure. Several anyones. Let him go, please. He just -- he just deserves something real, and I can give that to him. I want to.”

When had my charm ever failed me so massively? With Marc Deacon, I understood, a little, because he wanted my boyfriend, and badly. Still, he didn’t even have a little crush on me, hadn’t even fantasized a little about a threesome? And Christine was a mystery of a different order. I had to find out about whether she liked poker or not already.

“You have no idea what Nelly wants and definitely don’t know what he needs. You’d do better finding another man to pine after,” I told Marc Deacon and closed the door behind me. Necromancers. They all came with issues, apparently.

Before I could look around and locate my once again errant boyfriend, I felt the sharp sting of one of the defense spells built into his necklace activate. It was close, so I ran rather than teleported, and good thing, because it allowed me to feel the magic that was being hurled at him, even as I cracked open the office door behind which I could sense the necklace’s protective spell flare bright and hot.

This was siphon magic. It wasn’t so common that I knew it well, although I’d felt Sephy use it when I’d visited her and Hades.

This siphon magic was something else entirely, and just from the strength of it, from the elegance with which the siphon wove its magic, from the sheer, irrefutable force of it, I could tell the immensity of power the person who’d made it had access to. And since I had no doubt at all that the maker of this siphon was Ariadne, I knew where Nelly got his brutish power. Once he learned to really own and use it, refine it rather than just go smash with it, my boyfriend would be magnificent, something to behold. I’d take him even if he weren’t. But the more powerful he was, the more I would flaunt him, of course.

I pulled the office door open all the way. Several equally concerning things made up the scene ahead of me, and all of it was so dramatically crafted by the terrors of the real world that it should have been a painting set in oil rather than happening.

If reality were a painting, it would be called something to invoke hubris, like The Reclamation of the Prodigal Son, because the man on my left, beautiful like Nelly was, but darker in every aspect of his features and with cruel lines around his mouth and eyes, was without a doubt the man who wanted to be a bull, the beast trapped in a labyrinth by the goddess he had loved or lured into loving him.

I could guess what the Minotaur wanted with Nelly.

Purchase

Changeling Press, LLC | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: The Scars That Bind Us (The Magi Accounts #1) by Michele Notaro

Author Michele Notaro and Other Worlds Ink visit on The Scars That Bind Us (The Magi Accounts #1) blog tour! Discover more info on the new urban fantasy series and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway!

The Scars That Bind Us - Michele Notaro

Michele Notaro has a new MM urban fantasy out: The Scars that Bind Us. And there's a giveaway!

Sometimes the worst scars are the ones you can’t see.

Growing up in the magi compound was far from easy. I didn’t think I’d ever get out of that horrid place, but eighteen years ago, my world changed. I was allowed freedoms I’d never had before, although, even today, I was still at the Non-Human Specialties Operations’ beck and call.

Which is how I find myself on a team with my best friend, five shifters, and a human.

Now, I have to figure out a way to work with others—with shifters. I’ve never been one to trust easily, and I don’t see that changing, but this shifter pride has a way of getting past my walls. Unfortunately, all that means is now I have even more people I need to protect against the evils of this world, and I really don’t know how I’m gonna do it.

All three species have been at odds for more than a century, but maybe Cosmo—a lion shifter—and I can put aside our differences to work together and keep everyone safe. And if I’m secretly crushing on the guy, well, I think I’ll keep that to myself.

The Scars That Bind Us is a 115K word novel and the first book in the MM urban fantasy series, The Magi Accounts.

*Intended for adults only. Warnings: Violence, mentions of past abuse, hints of past sexual assault (nothing on-page), oppression of magi and shifters

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Amazon CAN | Universal Buy Link


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

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Excerpt

The Scars That Bind Us meme - Michele Notaro

“That sounds nice.” I hesitated, then added, “I’ve never been to a cookout before.”

He froze. “What?”

My brow furrowed. “Uh, I’ve never been to a cookout. It’s not like we had anything like that at the compound, and every mage I know who lives off-base is in an apartment.” I shrugged like it wasn’t a big deal even though I knew it was. Cookouts were a normal thing for humans and shifters. I’d seen enough of them in movies and shows, and read enough about them, to know that I’d love to go to one someday. But that wasn’t really in the cards for me.

“You’ve seriously never been to a cookout? Not even once?”

“Uh, nope. Pretty sure I’d remember something like that.”

A strangled sound came out of his throat before he rubbed his eyes with his thumb and forefinger. “Madeo…”

“What?”

“I… Jesus, I don’t even know what to say to that. I’ll have to have a cookout and invite you, Jude, and Logan.”

My eyebrows rose. “Really?” Despite myself, a strange flutter of hopefulness flitted around my chest. Which was stupid. People said things like that all the time. It didn’t mean they’d follow through.

Cos smiled softly and shoulder-bumped me. “Yeah, cat lover, really.”

I smiled up at him before entering the sandwich shop. I knew what I wanted, so I ordered, then gestured to Cos, saying, “What do you want?”

He was staring at the menu as he ordered a shit-ton of food. When he finished, paid—even though I’d tried to pay for both—and we sat down to wait, I asked, “Are you trying to feed your entire pride?”

He snorted. “No. I’ll finish it all.”

My eyes widened. “How? You’re a big guy, but you have like zero fat on you, and I’ve never seen you eat that much.”

“You’re asking me that? You’re a mage, and you just ordered an extra sandwich for yourself and a bucket of fries that I have no doubt you’ll finish off.”

“I like to save half of the second sandwich for tomorrow.”

He shook his head. “I have no idea where all this food goes on you. But for me, it takes a lot of energy, burns a ton of calories, to shift, and since I shift at least once a day, I eat a lot. I shifted a couple times yesterday and already once this morning, so I need the calories.”

“Gotcha. That makes sense. I wonder if my magic burns up some of the calories I eat?” I shrugged. “Whatever. Doesn’t matter.”

He grinned. “What are your plans for the rest of the day?”

“This is literally the only thing I have to do all day. I’m wide open. Except I don’t want to stray too far from Jude.”

He nodded. “Can I ask you a couple questions about your bond with him?”

“Uh, sure.”

“Can you feel him all the time? Even when you’re far away from each other?”

“Yes. He’s my focus, so we’d be able to find each other anyway, but it’s more than that, too. We’ve been bonded since I was three days old, so it’s completely normal to me to, uh, carry someone else in my chest.” I patted my chest where my heart was. “It’s like I can feel his heart beating right beside mine. And if he has a strong emotion, I feel it there. It’s… kind of hard to explain.”

“That was a pretty good explanation.”

I grinned. “If you say so.”

“I do.” He scratched his cheek. “Are you and Jude… involved in any other way?”

I stared at him for a few seconds, not understanding the question at first. But then I got it, and my eyes widened in horror. “Ew. Are you fucking serious? That’s… that’s… ew. No. Not even a little bit. Not ever. He’s my dyad. He’s the other half of me, and I… I wouldn’t want to date myself, right? Goddess.”

He laughed. “Okay, okay. Sorry. I didn’t realize.”

“So fucking gross.”

“Okay, so you two aren’t romantically involved. Good to know.”

“No, we’re not. Fucking duh.”

He snorted. “Alright, you don’t have to be an ass about it.”

“Pretty sure you already know I’m always an ass.”

With a grin, he reached across the table to flick my hand.

I snatched it away. “Not cool, jerkhole.”

He snorted again, then gestured to the counter. “Looks like our food’s ready. I’ll go grab it.”

“Thanks.” I watched him walk to grab the two trays of food—no way would it all fit on one—and my eyes accidentally-on-purpose strayed down to his ass.

It was a good ass. Like the rest of him, it was muscled and firm. Round. Bitable.

Thinking about biting his glorious buttcheek made me hum in appreciation out loud. And of course, Cos chose that moment to turn around. I didn’t even get the chance to look away and pretend I wasn’t ogling him before he caught me.

He had a huge grin on his smug face when he sat down and passed me my food. We started eating in companionable silence, and I thought he was going to let me get away with it without saying anything.

But then he opened his mouth and said all casual-like, “So you’re an ass man, huh?”

I almost spit out my food. “What? No. Nope.”

“Uh-huh. Real convincing, cat lover.”

I glared. “I don’t know what you’re talking about, kitty cat.”

He just grinned that smug grin at me.


Author Bio

Michele Notaro

Michele is married to an awesome guy that puts up with her and all the burnt dinners she makes—hey, sometimes characters are a bit distracting, and who doesn’t plot when they’re supposed to be cooking? They live together in Baltimore, Maryland with two little monsters, three-legged and four-legged fiends, and a little old man (aka their two sons, their two cats, and their senior dog). She hopes to rescue another cat soon, and if her hubby wouldn’t kill her, she’d get more than one… and maybe a few more dogs as well.

She loves creating worlds filled with lots of love, chosen family, and of course, magic, but she also likes making the characters fight for that happy ending. She hopes to one day write all the stories in her head—even if there are too many to count!

Author Website: https://michelenotaro.com/

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100013432570194

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/author.notaro/

Author Instagram: https://instagram.com/michelenotaro.author

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16187122.Michele_Notaro

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/michelenotaro

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