Exclusive Blog Tour: An Echo in the Sorrow (Soulbound #6) by Hailey Turner

Author Hailey Turner and A Novel Take PR promoter the latest in the popular urban fantasy series, An Echo in the Sorrow (Soulbound #6)! Don't miss today's exclusive excerpt!


Title and cover: An Echo in the Sorrow

Series: Soulbound 6

Publisher: Self-published

Release Date (Print & Ebook/Audio): March 1, 2021

Length (Print & Ebook/Audio): 117,943 words

Subgenre: LGBTQ Urban Fantasy

Warnings: None

Cover artist: AngstyG LLC

All buy links or pre-order links: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08R6BD3GX/

Book blurb:

Forgiveness is a hollow prayer you only hear in your dreams.


Patrick Collins has spent years handling cases as a special agent for the Supernatural Operations Agency, even as his secret standing in the preternatural world has changed. He should have confessed to his role as co-leader of the New York City god pack when he and Jonothon de Vere took up the mantle months ago, but he didn’t. Now that split loyalty will cost him at a time when he can least afford it.

Outmaneuvered, framed for murder, and targeted by the Dominion Sect, Patrick has to face a past full of lies to regain his freedom. Revealing the truth means he’ll need to give up the life that has defined him. Everything he’s fought to build with his pack is at stake, and losing them isn’t a price Patrick is willing to pay, but some choices aren’t his to make.

Jono knows they can’t cede any more territory if they want to win the god pack civil war spilling into the streets of New York City. But the souls of werecreatures are free for the taking when demons come to town and angels sing a warning no one can ignore. When Jono’s worst fear comes to life, and he loses the one person he can’t live without, the only option left is to fight.

Facing down the demons of their past and the ones in their present, Patrick and Jono will learn the hard way that some sins never wash away clean.

An Echo in the Sorrow is a 118k word m/m urban fantasy with a gay romantic subplot. It is a direct sequel to On the Wings of War. Reading the first book in the series would be helpful in enjoying this one.

Boy Meets Boy Excerpt:

“Weren’t the two of you were getting a ride?” Sage asked.
“We were until our driver saw my eyes. He kicked us out of the car and canceled the pickup.”
“The news is rife with werecreature stories right now, and none of them are positive. That’s still a rude thing to do.”
“See?” Wade interjected. “Even Sage thinks he was an asshole.”
Jono rolled his eyes. “I wasn’t going to have a row with the bloke when it’s his car.”
“I can send someone to pick you guys up,” Sage said.
“We’ll be fine.”
“You’ll be at risk.”
“I understand that, but they’ve proven we’re at risk no matter what we do. Hiding won’t change that.”
“I wasn’t talking about hiding, but about being cautious.”
“We’ll be fine. You know why.”
Sage ignored his subtle reminder about Fenrir. “Are you falling back on your do as I say, not as I do idiocy? Because we’ve discussed your stupidity in that area before.”
Wade cackled loudly at that and smirked at Jono.
Jono shook his head. “That’s more Patrick’s state of being.”
“You both hold the title of idiot when it comes to personal safety sometimes. Traveling outside right now isn’t safe. I thought yesterday was enough of a reminder?”
“I’m aware of that, but I don’t want to be late. We should be fine on the subway.” Jono sidestepped a woman walking her dog, ignoring the way the dog growled at him. “If we keep arguing over this, Wade and I will be at the office by the time you end the call.”



About the Author: Hailey Turner is a big city girl who spoils her cats rotten and has a demanding day job that she loves, but not as much as she loves writing. She's been writing since she was a young child and enjoys reading almost as much as creating a new story.

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Audiobook Tour: Blue Moon: Call of the Alpha by AE Via


 

Author A.E. Via and Vibrant Promotions promote Tim Paige narrated action romance, Blue Moon: Call of the Alpha! Check it out!

Blue Moon: Call of the Alpha

AE Via

Gay Action Romance

Listening Length: 7 hrs and 18 min

Narrator:  Tim Paige

Publisher: Tantor

Audio Release Date: 01.05.21

Blurb

It’s been a couple years since Commander John Marion – the US Navy’s most decorated SEAL – hung up his dog tags, choosing his cherished Alpha over war.

Call and Alpha have settled comfortably into their carefree lives nestled in the mountains of South Carolina. No more combat for the Commander and no more ordered killings for the deadliest assassin in the world.

However, nothing stays peaceful forever.

When Alpha’s brother Omega comes to their secluded home with a distressing message from their Order, Alpha has to answer the call. But what neither of them expect is for the Order to send them a new assassin, one just as deadly as both of them, to seek their counsel and bring them back Persia.

Lion’s commanding presence was not at all what any of them anticipated. Especially Omega. Lion realizes what Omega is to him right away, but the stubborn man fights his every advance. Lion knows he and Omega have to connect if they’re going to be victorious. He was sent to bring back an army but if he can’t get his cherished to yield to him, they are sure to fail.

Call refuses to let Alpha fight a gang of rebel assassins without him. Omega will fight by his brother’s side, no matter what… and Hawk saw them coming for his help before anyone else. Together they’ll fight the toughest opponents they’ve ever faced. As always… these badass warriors are up for the challenge.

This book ends in an HEA and does not end in a Cliffhanger. This book contains graphic violence

Universal code: http://mybook.to/CallOfTheAlpha

Excerpt

Call lifted his head slowly at Alpha’s sensual voice and was surprised to see him in the doorway wearing dark jeans, a black, V-neck shirt and a dark scarf wrapped around his neck and draped over his head as a hood. Call stared at the bottom half of Alpha’s face that was visible beneath the silky fabric. “Wow. Deja vu. I haven’t seen you like that in quite a while.”He looked like the assassin that had breached their headquarters a couple years ago and tilted Call’s world on its axis. 

Alpha pulled his hood back so Call could see his eyes. “Better?”

He nodded his head, his mouth suddenly dry. 

“It’s alright, John. Omega will be here soon with the assassin Lion, I think we should get ready,”Alpha said, turning to leave. 

“Ready for what?”Call yelled after him. 

He heard the slight sigh before Alpha turned around. “Ready to receive him.”

“I’m sorry if I don’t know the ceremonial procedures for letting a highly trained assassin into my home Daskshuan. So why don’t you enlighten me on what I need to do?” Call said angrily. 

“Why have you been so ill-tempered lately? We haven’t disagreed this much since we been together. Now everything I say, or ask, or do, I hear a bunch of opposition from you and frankly, it’s starting to piss me off.”

“Piss you off?” Call said, quickly stepping closer to him. 

“See, that’s what I’m talking about, John. Right there. You go from zero to ninety. What’s going on?” Alpha asked quietly. 

Call ran his hands through his hair, turning to compose himself because Alpha was right. He was frustrated and stressed. Unsure about leaving their home, unsure what he was going to do with the rest of his life. He wasn’t old and decrepit, he was a virile, healthy man, but who’d want someone around that they were afraid to look at. On top of everything else, now they had a killer coming to ask Alpha for help with god knew what. The strong arms that wrapped around his waist were so comforting. He needed to trust that Alpha was his equal and knew what he was doing.

A.E. Via has been a best-selling author in the beautiful gay romance genre for six years now, but she’s no stranger to MM. She’s been an avid reader of gay literature for over twenty years before she picked up her laptop to place her own kiss on this genre. She’s also the founder and owner of Via Star Wings Books, having published a couple great, new up and coming MM authors.  

A.E. has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Virginia Wesleyan College that she used to start her own paralegal firm after she graduated in 2008. She spent five years preparing and filing bankruptcy petitions for struggling blue collar workers who couldn’t afford to file with a lawyer. It was a rewarding and satisfying career… but another path called to her. 

Writing. 

A.E.’s novels embodies everything from hopelessly romantic to adventure, to scandalous. Her stories often include intriguing edges and twists that take readers to new, thought-provoking depths. 

She’s recently celebrated her 20th book anniversary, and is well-known for her hardcore, love hard, bad boy, alphas. However, she does like to push herself to step out of her comfort zone, exploring different tropes. She’s head over heels for gay romance and she has tons of more hot stories to tell.  

Be sure to visit Adrienne on her social media pages and subscribe to her newsletter to never miss another release date! Go to A.E. Via’s official website http://authoraevia.com  for more detailed information on how to contact her, follow her, or a sneak peek at upcoming work, free reads, VSWB submissions, and where she’ll appear next. 

Author Official Website: http://authoraevia.com

A.E. Newsletter Signuphttps://goo.gl/4hfuMh

Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/aeviaauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AuthorAEVia

Review: Afloat (Staying Afloat #3) by Isabelle Adler

No place is safe anymore.

Matt and his crew know it all too well—and it’s especially true now as the war with the Alraki has reached the heart of Federation space and struck close to home. Suddenly, Matt is faced with a difficult choice. He has the opportunity to sway the tide of the war and rectify a past wrong by helping the Fleet obtain a groundbreaking Alraki technology. But to do so, he must risk his ship and the lives of his crewmates.

With Matt’s archenemy, the infamous Captain Rodgers, still on the loose and bent on revenge, the Alraki aren’t the only ones who pose a deadly threat to Matt and the people most dear to his heart. With danger and betrayal haunting their steps, Matt and Ryce must find a way to save their friends even as sinister secrets from the past threaten to tear them apart.

This time, the price of staying afloat might be higher than what Matt is willing to pay.


A seriously satisfying space adventure!

What I’ve come to realize about this trilogy is that this is all about Matt and his journey. He’s a guy who grew up in a military family, who couldn’t handle or didn’t want to handle authority, who became disillusioned and wanted no part in being simply a tool. Thus, Matt left the Federation and his family and hasn’t really looked back. He’d say he’s a loner, one who doesn’t care about anything but making the next dollar, but that would be a lie. As much as he may protest, Matt has an extremely strong moral campus when push comes to shove, not to mention loyalty to his crew of three, which happens to include his lover Ryce, a genetically modified superhuman whose skills often come in oh so handy. Matt’s living life by his own rules, despite many disgruntled adversaries who make it difficult for him to make an honest living, but he wouldn’t have it any other way.

One day, Matt gets a call from his sister’s first officer. She’s a major in the Federation and has been gravely injured in an alien Alraki skirmish, so much so that he might want to come and possibly say his goodbyes just in case.... and thus, this brings Matt full circle, returning him to the fold and up close and personal with his estranged admiral of a father. Somehow, Matt finds himself recruited for a suicide mission as lives, mainly humanity in its entirety, hangs in the balance when it’s discovered that the Alraki enemy has powerful technology that could turn the war in their favor. Reluctantly, Matt and his crew join a special ops team to steal a prototype to help even the odds, and that’s when things get hairy.

In and amongst this covert operation, it becomes known that despite his often fatalist attitude and his own self hatred of past mistakes, Matt’s brand of resilience serves him very very well in times of extreme life threatening situations. This makes for very intense storytelling that has been consistently seen throughout all 3 books. Ensue fingernail biting action as they fight aliens, encounter government cover ups, suffer betrayals on the highest order, and undergo death defying stunts, all in and amongst some swoony romance. Toss in the return of a most vile enemy who just won’t fucking die, and Matt and Ryce must trust in each other (as well as the rest of their team) to pull out all the stops to possibly maybe have a chance at surviving.

So, in the spirit of any good space saga a’la Star Trek and/or Star Wars, the stakes are sky high, the probability of failure is basically a forgone conclusion but remember, smarts, pure grit, and lots of luck go a long way.

Obviously, I quite enjoyed myself, and Adler delivers a gratifying conclusion to this story arc. I urge you to start with Adrift, in the hopes that she might get a second wind and tell more stories of Matt and his scrappy crew. I suspect there’s plenty of trouble they can get themselves into without even looking. One can only hope.




Re-Release Blitz + Giveaway: Destined Prey (Wild Ones #1) by Bailey Bradford

Welcome author Bailey Bradford and Pride Publishing host today's blitz for re-release, Destined Prey! Rediscover this paranormal romance and enter in the giveaway for a chance to win a fabulous gift package and a FREE Bailey Bradford romance book! 

Destined Prey
Bailey Bradford

Book 1 in the Wild Ones series

Word Count: 43,119
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 178

GENRES:

CONTEMPORARY
EROTIC ROMANCE
GAY
GLBTQI
PARANORMAL
WERESHIFTERS

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Book Description

The call of the wild has never been so hot.

All Jack Tucker wanted was to come home for a little while and try to figure out where his life had gone wrong. Moving from Wyoming to New York didn’t turn out the way he’d thought it would, and a bad breakup has left him bruised—emotionally and otherwise.

He doesn’t expect to be glad he’s back on the Double T Ranch with his brother, Rhett, and he sure doesn’t expect to find the place crawling with coywolves, wolves and coyotes. There seems to be some kind of animal warfare going on, and he and Rhett are caught in the middle of it.

Coywolves—the hybrid of wolves and coyotes, hated by both, and more predatory than either. Add in the fact that all the battling species are shifters, and there’s bound to be trouble.

Ben Akers is part of his brother’s pack. The only coywolf shifters in existence, they find themselves under constant attack from wolf and coyote packs determined to make the Akers pack extinct. But coywolves don’t die out so easy, and when Ben’s life takes a surprising turn in the form of one sexy human named Jack Tucker, they’re both in for surprises, danger and the chance at the kind of love most people—and shifters—can only dream of…

Reader advisory: This book contains references to the main character's abusive relationship, scenes of fighting and death in shifted form.

Publisher's Note: This book was previously released elsewhere. It has been revised and reedited for release with Pride Publishing.

 Excerpt

Jack Tucker watched his brother retrieve the rifle from the gun cabinet in the office. “Um. Rhett? What’re you doing?”

Rhett didn’t even glance back at him as he loaded the gun. “What does it look like I’m doing? You been living in the city so long you forgot how a Wyoming rancher lives?” Then he did look over his shoulder at Jack, and Jack kind of wished he hadn’t.

He hated seeing that judgment in his brother’s eyes, and knowing he’d never be good enough for Rhett, never be the man Rhett was. “No,” Jack mumbled, “I didn’t forget.”

Rhett sighed and turned until he faced Jack. “Look, that was uncalled for. I’m… I’m sorry, okay?”

Jack was so startled by the apology that he gulped and couldn’t think of a word to say.

Rhett grimaced. “Yeah. Well, okay. Gotta check on some tracks Eddie said he found leading from his property to ours. I’ll be back in a few hours.” He left, striding from the room without seeming to hesitate.

Jack groaned and closed his eyes. Of course Rhett didn’t hesitate—he never had. Rhett always knew what to do, and how to do it, and who he was and that he was right… Except, he apologized to me, and it screwed my head right up.

“Worse than it already is,” he muttered. Jack couldn’t stop himself from touching his left side, where his bruised ribs throbbed as the pain meds wore off. He was lucky, very lucky, that Rhett hadn’t pushed him on the accident that had sent Jack running home from New York, and possibly into the unemployment line. His boss hadn’t been happy with Jack taking off, even with a medical note as an excuse. Jack hadn’t told Rhett much about any of that. As far as Rhett knew, Jack had fallen down some icy steps, and that was all he was going to ever know about the incident.

Jack replayed his brother’s apology in his head and somehow it mingled in with Alex’s. Cold fear trickled down Jack’s spine and his gut cramped hard enough to make him worry about the dinner he’d just eaten.

After several minutes of trying to calm himself down, Jack stood and left. He’d wanted to sit and talk with Rhett about finances and try to decide if he should offer to let Rhett buy him out. Jack wasn’t made to be a rancher. He wasn’t made to be a New Yorker, either.

Jack didn’t know what he was supposed to do in life, and at the age of twenty-seven, he kind of thought he should have an inkling.

His cell phone rang as he stepped into his bedroom. Without looking, he knew it was Alex calling. “Who else would it be?” he huffed. It wasn’t like he had any friends left.

Rather than check to see how many times Alex had called and how many texts he’d sent, Jack turned the phone off, then stuck it in the nightstand. He eased himself onto the bed, then took a couple of pain pills and washed them down with the rest of the water he’d brought in earlier.

The glass was old and familiar, and he felt a pang of regret as he looked it over after he set it down. Green glass, nothing special about it, yet it brought back so many memories.

He could see his mom in the kitchen, fixing a pitcher of tea, talking to him and listening as he told her about his day at school or the chores he’d had to do around the ranch. She’d always been so kind and understanding that Jack had to believe she’d have been fine about him being gay. He’d spent many afternoons in the kitchen, helping her prepare meals or just basking in her presence. Losing her had almost broken him.

For a few more minutes, he let his mind go back to happy childhood days. His dad wasn’t in nearly as many of those good memories, but Chauncey Tucker hadn’t been a bad man. His dad had been more like Rhett—stoic, focused on the ranch and less on the people around him.

Jack ran one finger around the rim of the glass. He was surprised, really, that there were any of the old things left.

The sound of gunshot startled him so badly he jerked and nearly sent the glass flying.

“Shit!” He winced, then stood as quickly as he could manage.

Another shot rang out, then a third, and fear quickly overtook every other sensation he’d felt until then.

Rhett had always been an ace shot. If he’d had to use three bullets, then there was something bad outside—a bear or a whole pack of wolves.

Jack didn’t like guns, but he went and got one from the gun cabinet anyway. He loaded it as he walked to the front door, and hoped like hell Rhett wasn’t hurt.

As soon as he stepped outside, the fine hairs at his nape seemed to stand up and vibrate, like some kind of primitive survival instinct. Jack froze, his back to the door and his heart slamming hard against his ribs.

Another shot sounded, and it jolted Jack into action. “Rhett! Rhett!” He rushed down the steps and toward the direction the shots had come from. “Rhett! Are you okay?”

When Rhett didn’t immediately answer, Jack ran, aware that he was being careless with his gun but had all his attention on finding his brother as soon as possible.

“Rhett!” He stumbled over something on the ground and almost fell before he managed to flail enough to keep himself upright.

Pain tore down his injured side, but he ignored it, calling out for his brother yet again. He cursed himself for not thinking to grab a flashlight. The sky was overcast and there was no moonlight to assist him in his search, and once he was past the barns there was no light coming from the house or other structures, either.

The cattle in the closest field were making enough noise to drown out his voice or Rhett’s, making it impossible for them to hear each other—the sounds of the gunshots must have scared them. Jack worried about a stampede, but he’d never seen any of the critters take out a fence, so he dismissed the idea.

“Rhett!” His throat burned as he hollered again.

Lightning streaked across the sky, blinding Jack for a moment, then thunder followed and he couldn’t contain his startled yelp as his ears rang from the sound.

Or his shriek when six pairs of glowing yellow eyes appeared between him and the fence line.

“Shit!” Jack skidded to a halt, hoping he could steady his hands, and force himself to do what he had to do.

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About the Author

 

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn't happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey's brain demanding to be let out.

Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey's office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey's presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.

You can follow Bailey on Facebook here and Twitter here.

Giveaway

Enter to win a fabulous gift package and a FREE Bailey Bradford romance book!

Bailey Bradford's Destined Prey Giveaway

BAILEY BRADFORD IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GRAB YOUR FREE BAILEY BRADFORD ROMANCE BOOK! Notice: This competition ends on 16th March 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Release Blitz + Giveaway: At His Mercy by Elvira Bell

Author Elvira Bell and Pride Publishing host the release blitz for historical fantasy erotica, At His Mercy! Find out more and enter in the giveaway for a chance to win a LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! 

At His Mercy 

Elvira Bell

Word Count: 22,321
Book Length: NOVELLA
Pages: 90
Genres:  EROTIC ROMANCE, FANTASY, GAY, GLBTQI, HISTORICAL

Add to Goodreads

Book Description

A thief and his captor… A spicy demand in exchange for freedom. Will Lio give in to the lord of the manor?

Young thief Lio should have known better than to steal from the mighty Lord Callen. After he’s been locked up in a cold cell in Callen’s manor, he’s told that he’ll be set free on one condition—that he agrees to share Callen’s bed for one night. Lio refuses, but can’t help wondering what sleeping with Callen might be like. Callen, on the other hand, takes the rejection badly and thinks Lio finds him old and unattractive. He can’t stop thinking about the pretty boy with the white hair though, and they’re about to overcome their hostility toward one another when something happens that brutally cuts off their budding friendship and causes Callen to throw Lio out headfirst.

For months they are apart. Callen isolates himself in his chamber, enraged and bitter, while Lio struggles to make it through the winter. In the end, starvation forces him to seek out the last man he wants to see—Lord Callen. Callen, who resents him and does nothing to hide it. Will Lio be able to get through to him? Will they ever have what they both want—each other?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, threats of sexual harrassment, captivity and homophobia.

Excerpt

They never should have taken the forest road at night.

“We could go back,” Lio said, stumbling after his father on the muddy path. “That cottage we passed a mile back, maybe we could…”

Athos grunted, his boots leaving large, wet prints in the sludge. Almost doubled over from the weight of the burlap bag, he looked like a hunchback. “You’ll walk until I tell you to stop.”

Lio drew his hand over his eyes to wipe the icy rain away. “But…” He racked his brains for words that might make his father see reason. They were far away from the manor by now, and they had merely taken some tools and iron from the smithy, after the smith and his apprentice had left for the day. With luck, the theft wouldn’t be noticed until morning. Lord Callen certainly had enough gold to replace the tongs and hammers he’d lost. To Lio’s family, though, the stolen goods meant they could repair the hole in the roof, and his father could forge nails and horseshoes the villagers would be only too happy to pay for. Athos had been a blacksmith once, in his youth, but Lio had never dared ask why he had left such a good profession. His work was fine, and although there were some people who’d never buy anything made by his hands, he could make enough money this way to see them through the winter.

Athos coughed, a nasty, hollow sound Lio was all too familiar with.

“Father, you’re not well. Let me carry it.”

“No!” Athos spun around to give him a wild look. He towered over Lio, the way he always had. “I don’t take orders from a whelp like you, understand? While you’re living in my house, lad, you do as I tell you.” He coughed again, but pressed on through the darkness. The lantern swinging in his hand wasn’t strong enough to light up much of the surroundings, and a shiver ran down Lio’s spine at the thought of packs of wolves out on the hunt, or trolls and monsters eager to lure wanderers into their lairs. Traveling through the woods in daytime wasn’t so bad, though he wouldn’t like doing it without company, but everyone knew that one shouldn’t be out after dark. His mother would scold them when they got home—if they did. Lio had accompanied his father on similar business before, but they had been closer to home then and back by the hearth before midnight. Athos didn’t steal unless there were no other options, and before this he had only taken the odd bread loaf or piece of meat from those of the nearby farmers who spat after him and his family. ‘Only steal from those who deserve it,’ he had told Lio often. Lio didn’t know much about Lord Callen, but if he owned half as much land and gold as people said he did, he deserved it more than most. It wasn’t fair that someone like him had everything, while others starved.

“I can carry the lantern, at least,” he tried, uneasy at the sound of his father’s labored breathing.

“The lantern?” Athos scoffed. “It weighs nothing. Now be quiet, all right? I brought you as a lookout. Wouldn’t expect a wisp of a thing like you to carry anything, would I?”

Lio bit back an angered reply. He was small compared to his father, it was true, closer in height to his mother and with her slender build, too. From her he had his ghostly pale hair as well, that made the villagers hiss ‘Devil-child’ and other such nonsense after him. The one thing he had from his father was the dark color of his eyes. His little brother and sisters had those eyes, too, but their hair was dark as coal. He often wished his own was, too.

Wrapping his arms around himself in a futile attempt to get warm, he wondered how far they had left. Their cottage was on the other side of the woods, in a clearing out of sight from any other people. The nearest farm was only a short walk away, but Lio and his family had never been counted among the villagers who were their neighbors. Young women sought out his mother secretly, when her herbs were the only thing that might help them end unwanted pregnancies or cure their sick babies. His father was the one the villagers called for when they needed shameful or dangerous tasks done, like gelding foals or burying disease-spreading corpses. Shame, filth—that was all they were associated with. They always had been.

A strange sound pierced through the roaring of the rain. The neighing of a horse? He stopped, throwing anxious looks around him. “Father, did you—”

“Quiet!” Athos trudged on, muttering to himself. The rain streamed down Lio’s face, plastering his hair to his skin. He shivered, not sure if it was from the cold or from fear. Another sound came through the darkness—a voice? Several voices?

“Father, run!” But he hadn’t taken more than a step forward before someone grabbed him by the neck, pulling him back. In front of him he saw his father stop as a rider blocked his path. A dark-clad man on a black steed, carrying a torch in his hand. His hair was obscured by a helmet. There were four men in total, including the one with the forceful grip on Lio’s neck. Lio struggled in vain to free himself, and the man chuckled in a low, raspy voice.

“Well,” said the rider in black, as two of his henchmen closed in on Athos with their swords drawn. “We found our prey at last. Did you really think I’d allow anyone to steal from me?” His voice was smooth but cold. It was difficult to tell his age—Lord Callen was hardly a young man, but he was well-built and tall, with broad shoulders and a straight, proud posture. His eyes were just as icy as his voice.

Athos dropped the burlap sack, rising to his full height and taking a step closer to Callen, as if to challenge him. “You’ve got enough for a whole village, but we ain’t got a thing!”

“Oh, is that so?” Callen curled his lip. “While I applaud your courage, I really can’t let a thing like this slide. You understand, surely? Men, how should we punish this pitiful crime?”

“Their right hands,” said one of the henchmen, giving Athos a nudge with the blunt side of his sword. “Off with them.”

“Death,” suggested another man with an ugly grin. “That’d stop them from doing it again, my lord.”

Callen nodded. “Why, certainly, but I personally feel it’s a tad…boring?” His cool gaze landed on Lio’s face. He scrutinized him for a few moments before turning away. “Seize them,” he said. “We bring them with us.”

“I’ve got little ones at home, sir!” Athos called out. “They’ve had nothing to eat for the last week, and me and my wife—”

“What a pity,” Callen said.

Athos roared, trying to make a run for it, but one of Callen’s men stabbed his sword into his shoulder before he’d gotten away. Callen snorted as Athos was tied up and thrown over the back of one of the horses as if he were a sack of flour. Lio stared, his eyes fixed on his father’s shape. That wound… How bad is it?

“Now the boy,” said Callen.

“Yes,” murmured the man who held Lio captive. He jumped to the ground and pulled Lio toward him, his breath hot and revolting against Lio’s neck. “I’ll take care of you.”

“Let me go!” Lio squirmed, but the man quickly tied his wrists together and put him face down in front of the saddle before mounting the horse again. Lio’s breath hitched in his throat as the man put a big, gloved hand on the back of his thigh.

“Keep still now,” he said, voice low. “Filthy little thief. You’re going to regret what you’ve done.”

Yes. As the riders started retracing their tracks through the woods, back to Lord Callen’s manor, Lio thought bitterly that he regretted everything. He couldn’t see his father, but he heard his pained groans and whimpers, and the men shouting at him to keep quiet. If only he could do something! What would happen to them once they reached the manor? His father’s injury—how bad was it? His mother would have been able to stop the blood—she would have healed him in no time. But Lio didn’t have any of her knowledge. He couldn’t do anything but hope, in spite of everything, that they would make it out of this alive.

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About the Author

Elvira Bell

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly.

Elvira writes m/m romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all.

Find out more at Elvira's website.

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Enter to win a fabulous gift package and get a First For Romance Gift Card!

Evira Bell's At His Mercy Giveaway

ELVIRA BELL IS GIVING AWAY THIS FABULOUS PRIZE TO ONE LUCKY WINNER. ENTER HERE FOR YOUR CHANCE TO WIN A LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET A FIRST FOR ROMANCE GIFT CARD! Notice: This competition ends on 16th March 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.

Cover Reveal: Brazenly Daray (D’Vaire #22) by Jessamyn Kingley

Author Jessamyn Kingley and Gay Book Promotions reveal the cover of the latest from the popular urban fantasy series, Brazenly Daray (D’Vaire #22)! Check it out and more information about the upcoming romance!

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: Brazenly Daray (D’Vaire, Book 22)

Author: Jessamyn Kingley

Publisher: Independently Published

Cover Artist: LJ Anderson, Mayhem Cover Creations

Release Date: March 18, 2021

Genre: M/M Urban Fantasy

Trope:  Fated Mates

Themes: Fate, love

Heat Rating:  3 flames  

Length: 97 844 words

It is not a standalone story.

Check out the series on

Goodreads  |   Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

 

For one sentinel, tradition is everything until he meets a pointy-eared photographer who is no elf.

  

Blurb

Teverild is a man who refuses to allow anyone to call him an elf, despite his pointy ears. Having left his tribe behind centuries ago, Teverild is now a successful photographer. Although his phone contains the numbers of powerful people within the Council of Sorcery and Shifters, and they endeavor to include him in family and other important events, he rebuffs friendship. The concept of mates eludes him, and he doesn’t want that connection either.

As a sentinel, Skeleton Lord Cassius Daray strives for perfection. His purpose is to aid his people, and he works diligently to further the goals of the Sentinel Brotherhood. At home, Cassius enjoys being with his family and throws himself into his hobbies, but there is something missing. What Cassius wants most is to find a mate.

With a penchant for trouble, Teverild winds up on the wrong side of the law. His penance is to teach a group of sentinels the basics of his craft. Teverild wants to get the class over with, but his life changes forever when he meets Cassius. Drawn together immediately, they must overcome their ghosts if they want to forge a future and build a love that will sustain them both.

 

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.


Join her Facebook group, Jessamyn's Ruffian's

 

Social Media Links

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Altered Tides (The Galactic Captains #5) by Harry F. Rey

Author Harry F. Rey and IndiGo Marketing host today's blitz for the latest in science fiction series, Altered Tides (The Galactic Captains #5)! Find out more and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway! 

Title: Altered Tides

Series: The Galactic Captains, Book Five

Author: Harry F. Rey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/01/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72600

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, Action/adventure, aliens, dark, M/M romance, #ownvoices, pirates, reunited, royalty, sci-fi/futuristic, space, folklore, gods, intercultural, interspecies, merman, war of worlds, religious extremism

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Description

A malfunctioning STAR drive strands Captain Ales in a new galaxy. Trapped on a dry, dusty red moon where the rains fall only once every forty years, the restless population barely survives on a teardrop ration of water. Now, the rains are years overdue, and the ruling clerics view Ales as a savior—or a devil. Just as Ales and the She-King’s brother discover a secret the clerics have been hiding for far too long, this world is invaded and torn apart from a most unlikely source.

The blue moon is a world covered in water—water that flows over to the red moon as rain every forty years, thereby drying up the domain of King Sarlord. He’s finally had enough and gathers an army to sail into the sky on the waterspout, land on the red moon, and defeat the god who steals his ocean. His son, Prince Malar, will do anything to avoid staying behind, but even he gets much more than he bargained for when the world as he knows it is swept away on altered tides.

Excerpt

Altered Tides
Harry F. Rey © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The girl lifted her eyes over the dry, dusty horizon bathed in a sandy haze. She blinked through the pain, through the dryness, as she always did. On the shore of an ancient seabed, the girl kicked clumps of dust heaped on the ground like forgotten eggs that had never hatched. They fell apart with barely a touch. There was no water to hold the dust together. No rain fell to fill the sea nor waves to break against the shoreline.

She’d last had water two nights ago. Her father gave her and her four sisters their one allotted teardrop of stale, salty liquid. Two for the baby; although even her mother, Sanhelda, said it was a waste. The baby would not live till the rains came—if they ever did.

Out here by the cliffs along the empty shore, she could at least get away from the cries of thirst that haunted the village throughout the baking days and stuffy nights. Their settlement was not a wealthy one. They lived far from the city with its water vats. Although her father’s brother had returned from the city a few nights before with the news even those had run dry. Rations had fallen to one teardrop per day. Hoarders went without. Soldiers patrolled the dusty streets, but they couldn’t prevent the nightly gatherings outside the palace of the She-King. The people were thirsty, and they were starting to blame the drought on her.

The girl knew this was nonsense. The king did not control the rains. According to the clerics, the goddess Aquina sent the rain from the blue moon in the sky. Although her mother, always a practical woman, said the rains came when their world was perfectly aligned with the blue moon. The king didn’t control the movement of stars and moons, the girl knew that much, nor was the gender of the King stopping the clouds from forming and the rains from filling up the cenotes, the water pits and boreholes, despite what most people now thought.

The girl bent over and scooped a clump of dust from the ground. Gazing into the hazy sky, she rubbed the dust into her cracked lips, soothing the broken skin. The girl wondered what she would do if she were king. She’d never wondered that before she knew a woman had taken the throne.

The rains came once in forty years. The entire system of life on these dusty plains depended on this climactic event. When it did rain, the water filled the vats and boreholes, every drop saved and stored and rationed because everyone knew the water had to last another forty years. Whatever was wasted evaporated in the stifling heat. Whatever was used disappeared into the dusty ground the clerics expressly forbade any person to dig into. Disobeying the clerics meant going a week or more without a teardrop to drink.

The clerics spoke with the gods and calculated each family’s allowance of bottles. Families planned the children they could have and the crops they could grow with the aqua supply front of mind. Donating a little bit extra to the clerics was never a bad idea, though. If the gods pronounced, speaking through a cleric of course, that a person was destined to die before the blue moon rose again in the night sky, the water rations of the condemned individual would be cut to nothing. There was no water to waste on the dying.

It had happened to the girl’s uncle a few years back. He’d had an argument with their local cleric over something obscure that old men passed their time by squabbling over—the price of beets, perhaps. But the cleric won the argument by foretelling her uncle’s sudden death within the month. The family fretted; his wife and children terrified their provider would have a sudden accident. They drastically cut their own rations to keep him alive and at home, even as their crops rotted in the field. Eventually, after much scrambling and scraping and late night discussions on how much the wider family could afford to spend, they managed to sell off a valuable young calf at market in the city in exchange for a bottle of fermented beet wine. The cleric dutifully accepted the sacrifice to the gods, and after returning one night from the sacred temple, his lips stained red and speech slurred from the beet wine, had pronounced to an anxious family that he had interceded with the gods on their behalf, and her uncle would not fall foul to an accident after all. His rations were restored, although their crops went to ruin and the calf they had been counting on to provide milk for three new babies had been sold off for tender meat, but at least her uncle would live. Could live, indeed, now he had water to drink. Such were the petty tyrannies of life under the clerics.

But life was not all terrible. In the thirty-ninth year, a great celebration was held in advance of the coming rains in the fortieth year. A diligent population suffering from a generation of thirst had their rations increased. The clerics and their influential friends would feast and crack open vintage bottles of beet wine as soon the rains would come and replenish their cisterns and water bores.

That had been two parched years ago.

The old king refused to believe anything was wrong and ordered the populace to continue swigging and feasting because the rains could not be far off, the clerics had assured him. That king was dead, and his daughter now sat on the clay throne.

The girl couldn’t believe people could be so shortsighted as to blame someone who was only trying to do her best. The She-King diligently slashed the rations of the clerics and soldiers down to the same as the general populace: one teardrop per day. She’d banned all travel and commerce to prevent thirst, and called on all pregnancies to be prevented while the world remained dry.

Otherwise, there was little else that could be said or done except to gather each night and stare into the clear black sky and pray for it to darken with clouds.

Standing on the bone-dry shore, the girl could only hope. In the distance, something caught her eye. A fiery flash in the sky blazed a trail of false clouds across the blue moon rising from the horizon. She blinked away the haze in her vision, not understanding what she saw, and took a step closer to the edge of the empty sea.

Whatever it was sliced through the dusty atmosphere and left a trail of smoke in its wake. Was this rain? She did not know what rain was meant to look like, but from the stories her parents and grandparents had told her, this didn’t seem like rain.

The dusty rocks underfoot dislodged and crumbled down the cliff edge, and she held back a bare foot in caution. Yet something drew her forward. She needed to know what this fiery thing shining like a metal star was. Had their god Calini returned? Perhaps he had come from the blue moon after forging a peace with the goddesses Aquina and Terrina, and ending this long drought. The gods were fighting, so the clerics had quickly explained as to the reason why the rains refused to fall, and they must all be diligent in their prayers and listen to the men lest the evil goddesses seep into their minds and turn them wicked.

The girl glanced back at the open plain, but there was no one else around. Not in the heat of the day, at least. Biting her broken lip and tasting dust, she decided to climb down the short distance and make her way toward the streak in the sky, tumbling ever closer to the ground.

By the time she got close to the bottom, the bright shiny streak had nearly disappeared from view. As her foot landed onto the cracked ground, a shudder rumbled through the rock. Or even through the very world.

The girl peered forward, tracing the rock line of the other side of the sea shore, looking for lumps or sites of impact. Then she saw it, a plume of dark black smoke snaking into the hazy sky. It looked to be just beyond the cliff edge. Glancing back once more, the girl wondered what to do. What would the She-King do? Would she rush back to the village and alert the sleeping elders? They would just bring more people from the city to come and investigate, priests and soldiers, people who would need to drink.

She could ignore it and turn back now. Pretend like nothing had happened. But her curiosity would never forgive her. And that was a coward’s way out. The She-King would never ignore a mystery such as this.

Suddenly her throat did not seem so dry. Her vision cleared with a flush of cleansing tears, and a spurt of energy rushed through her muscles like she’d just swigged a whole bottle dry. Without trepidation, without fear, the girl put one foot forward on the scarred and empty seabed and walked toward the mystery beyond.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch with influences ranging from Alan Hollinghurst to Isaac Asimov to George R.R. Martin. He loves all things sci-fi and supernatural, and always with a gay twist. Harry is originally from the UK but lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his husband.

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Review: A Dragon’s Fortune (The Magic Emporium) by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

Cillian Roarke is the world’s sweetest dragon. He’s a great boss, a good person, and he spends his days making honey-glazed caramel treats in the shape of bunnies for his bakery, Honey Bunny. Still, the highlight of every day is watching the adorable college student who’s Much Too Young For Him stuff his face full of Cillian’s sweet buns.

Finnick West is a college student who dreams of baked goods, much to the consternation of his figure-skating partner. She’s not offended by the temptation, but by Finnick’s continuing failure to ask out the cute baker. With pressure from all sides, Finn knows it’s time to take something for himself, if only he can catch Hot Baker’s eye.

While the two of them work up the nerve to ask each other out, an assassination attempt reveals forces working to not only stop their interspecies romance in its tracks, but destroy everything and everyone they love.

A Dragon’s Fortune is part of the Magic Emporium Series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains dragons, ice skating, a whole bunch of sugar, and a guaranteed HEA.


Another sweet edition to this series of completely stand alone, but interconnected, novels all touched by the intervention of the peculiar Magic Emporium.

As per the blurb, Finn has been crushing hard on the reticent owner of the The Honey Bunny. Not only does Finn love every delicious concoction that Cillian creates, he’s smitten on the guy even though they’ve barely spoken a word.

Cillian in turn, is reluctant to start anything because he’s hiding a pretty big secret. He’s in the closet - not because he’s gay but because he’s a dragon, and he fears the inherent prejudices of being such could possibly interfere with his comfortable life. However, Cillian’s wish for anonymity is crushed when an assassination attempt is made on his highly public figure of a brother, so when the truth comes out, this has unforeseen consequences as Finn’s unknown shady past comes to the fore. Suddenly, both these men have some very difficult decisions to make as to whether or not they’ll allow biology to dictate their lives and whether the other is worth fighting for.

Overall, I enjoy this author duo, both together and separately (shout out to Fire and Valor!), but I typically equate a more simplistic storytelling with Burns. Though this sets up the world building and sociopolitical implications that come with in-the-know humans living with other supernaturals, I felt the plot lines regarding both Cillian being a dragon and Finn’s mysterious background were not fully realized.

Having said that, Cillian and Finn are the nicest guys around, and they’re obviously perfectly perfect for each other. This had some good bones and ends on a solid HFN for these two but leaves broader plot threads dangling which would benefit from a sequel that we probably won’t get. Regardless, fans of Burns and Fawkes should not skip their latest foray into urban fantasy! Enjoy!




Release Blitz + Giveaway: Openly Yours (Offbeat Shifters #2) by Colette Davison

 Author Colette Davison and Gay Book Promotions returns to celebrate the release of the latest in pop star ABO shifter romance series, Openly Yours (Offbeat Shifters #2)! Read more and enter in the $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Openly Yours (Offbeat Shifters #2)

Author: Colette Davison

Publisher: Independently Published

Cover Artist: Colette Davison

Release Date:  March 2, 2021

Genre: Supernatural M/M romance

Trope/s: shifters, mpreg setting but there isn’t pregnancy or childbirth in the books, age-gap, pop-stars

Themes: The price of fame, treatment of omegas in the pop industry 

 Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 68 000 words

Book 2 is a direct follow-on from book 1 and will not have the same impact without having read book 1. 

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Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |   Amazon US  |   Amazon UK

 

 

Falling in love was the easy part. When we have to face more tragedy, will it bring us closer or drive us apart?


Blurb

Now the tour is over, Isaac has to adapt to depending financially on someone else for the first time.

When my world gets thrown into turmoil again, I need to learn that relying emotionally on others isn’t a bad thing.

We have to face our biggest challenge together—creating a different dream from the one we had envisioned.

Openly Yours is an m/m paranormal romance with a loving tiger shifter, a sweet monkey shifter, enthusiastic family members, and lots of cuddles. Whilst it is set in an alternate universe where omegas give birth, there are no pregnancy or birth scenes in this book.

Trigger warning for scenes revolving around infertility.




Excerpt

“You had news. Is it about the Arches?”

I grinned, unable to keep it from him.

“They accepted our offer?”

“Yes.”

Jesse bounced up and down in my arms, squealing excitedly. “That’s fantastic!”

“We’ve got to get all the building and land checks done and a survey, so it’s not a done deal yet. But all being well, our youth centre is one step closer to opening.”

Jesse grasped my face and kissed me hard. “It’s exciting, isn’t it?”

“Very.”

His eyes widened. “You should invite your dads to come and stay so we can show them the Arches.”

“I’d been thinking about that.” I carried him over to the sofa and sat down with him on my lap. “Maybe it’s about time we moved out of this flat.”

Jesse tilted his head to the side. “Why?”

“Well, right now, if we want to invite my family down, they have to stay in a hotel.” I paused, measuring my next words carefully. “And at some point, we’re going to have a family, Jesse. There’s not going to be room for children in a one-bedroom flat.” I stroked my thumbs over his lower back. “You wanted a house filled with music and the patter of tiny feet, remember?”

Jesse nodded, but he didn’t speak. His eyes were brimming with tears, and his chin wobbled.

“And I wanted a big bath.”

That made him laugh. “We need a huge bath.”

I stared into his dark eyes. “I want to find our forever home, Jesse. And I want to get married.”

Jesse frowned. “We can’t, not until—”

I silenced him with a kiss. “We know roughly when your heats will be. We can plan around it. We’re already mated. You know I want to spend the rest of my life with you. Now I want to show everyone else that—your family and mine.”

“And the world?” Jesse asked. “Because we’re not gonna get a cosy little wedding.”

I smiled. “The whole world. I’m yours, Jesse, now, always, and openly.”

Jesse gasped. “I’ve got it!”

“Got what?”

“The title of the song I’m going to write for you.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Will you share it with me?”

He smiled mischievously. “Nope. I think I’m gonna keep it a secret.”

I tickled him until I reduced him to a giggling, writhing wreck on my lap. Then I flipped him onto the sofa and lay over him, tickling him more until he was gasping for air.

“Now are you going to tell me?”

He put his hands around my neck as his breathing slowly returned to normal. “‘Openly Yours’.”

I nuzzled his nose with my own. “That’s beautiful.”

“So are you.”

We looked at each other, my heart filling as I saw how much love radiated from his eyes and smile. I kissed him, teasing his mouth with my tongue. “Let’s set a wedding date and start looking at houses.”

Jesse nodded. “Okay.”



 Check out Secretly Mine, Book 1 in the Offbeat Shifters Series

 

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

 

Books 3 and 4 Coming Soon

    



About the Author 

Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Facebook Page   |  Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub   |   Twitter    |   Goodreads  |  Instagram: @colettedavison

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Re-Release Blitz + Giveaway: Magnified (Magnified #1) by Mell Eight

Join author Mell Eight and IndiGo Marketing as they celebrate the re-release of Magnified (Magnified #1)! Find out more about the supernatural/fantasy and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

 

Title: Magnified

Series: Magnified, Book One

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 03/01/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63955

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, college, demons, djinn, mage/magic user, vampires, werewolves, religion

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Description

On her deathbed, Yani’s great-grandmother reveals she has one last story from her past to tell: that of his great-uncle Yakov, who helped her survive the Nazis. It’s a story of vampires and werewolves he can scarcely believe—and in the wake of his great-grandmother’s death, Yani discovers the story is far from over.

The world of vampires and werewolves isn’t a safe place for a human, even one with Yani’s unusual family history. With danger at his door, the smart thing would be to run, but much like his great-grandmother, Yani has never been very good at running away—especially with his loved ones and the whole world at stake.

Excerpt

Magnified
Mell Eight © 2021
All Rights Reserved

2004

“Gramma, are you really dying?” Shira asked. She spoke around the thumb tucked in her mouth, but Great-grandma Chana still smiled down gently at the small three-year-old girl and her very chubby cheeks. Yani’s sister was such a baby, but she could say things that Yani didn’t dare. He was thirteen after all, and post-bar-mitzvah children knew better.

“I’m sorry to say that is finally true,” Gramma replied gently. The Eastern European accent she had never lost despite her many years living in the US, softened her consonants. Yani had heard her kind voice almost every day of his life, and it hurt to know that was about to end. “It is my time, as such a time comes to us all. God writes in his book, every Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, who will live and who will die. Shira, this year I asked God to take me to him. I have been on this earth for long enough.”

“But I’m gonna miss you, Gramma,” Shira sniffled.

Mom came over then and pulled Shira into a hug. Yani wished he were still young enough to get the same treatment. He could use a hug too. Gramma had been around for forever. She was nearly a hundred years old, although since her original birth certificate had been lost, no one was exactly certain of her precise birthdate. Instead, they celebrated on the day she had finally earned enough money to buy an actual house and move the entire family out of the city.

Gramma Chana was such a constant fixture in Yani’s life that he couldn’t imagine what it would be like with her gone. She had held him when he was born and had attended every birthday party and Passover Seder. In fact, just ten years ago, she’d still held Thanksgiving dinner at her house. Tzimmes for Thanksgiving was weird, according to Yani’s non-Jewish friends, but the sweet-potato-and-marshmallow dish was a staple for his stomach, and he couldn’t understand why no one else had it too. It was one of Gramma’s specialties.

Gramma had stood tall at his bar mitzvah just a few months back when she read an aliyah. Her hug after he read from the Torah while she stood next to him and watched with pride visible in every bone had been the strongest one of that day. In fact, Yani couldn’t think of a single important moment when Gramma hadn’t been there with a wide smile on her face.

But now she was lying in bed at a hospital, surrounded by her family. Grandpa Gideon was there, holding her hand while his younger brothers, Aharon and Shmuley, and their two much younger sisters and all their kids and grandkids hovered nearby. Great-uncle Shimon stood in the corner watching with tears in his eyes; Gramma had raised him too.

Mom was still holding Shira, standing next to Grandpa with her two older brothers. All of Yani’s many cousins were across the room. In fact, the room was packed with people.

Gramma sighed and smiled happily as she looked around the room. “Truly, I have been blessed. To have such a family. If only—” She paused on another sigh. “Yani.” She beckoned toward him. “I have a story to tell you. A very important story.”

Yani slowly walked closer to her bed, taking her wrinkled and scarred hand in his. She had worked hard when she first immigrated to America. Sixteen-hour days mending and sewing in a tiny basement apartment, trying to feed five people while learning to speak and read English and all of the new and strange American customs, had left their scars.

“I’ve already heard all of your important stories, Gramma,” Yani said gently, hoping to escape from one last telling of her days as cargo with four young children in tow aboard the steam ship that had brought her and her entire family across the Atlantic Ocean to America.

“Not this one, my dear,” Gramma Chana said with a very gentle smile. “This one I have not told you, but it is my most important story. It is the story I have kept close to my heart all these years; the story of survival and love in utmost adversity. In fact, everyone should listen and remember, Shimon especially,” she added in a louder voice to the rest of the room. “About my younger brother, Yakov.”

“Yakov? He stayed behind in Europe,” Grandpa Gideon said, but Gramma just continued to smile and began telling her tale.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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