Release Blitz + Giveaway: Perfectly Mismatched (Pine Wood Falls #4) by Sarah Havan


Join author Sarah Havan and Gay Book Promotions as they celebrate the release of Perfectly Mismatched (Pine Wood Falls #4)! Find out more about the mpreg romance and enter in the $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Perfectly Mismatched (Pine Wood Falls #4)

Author: Sarah Havan

Publisher: Sarah Havan Books

Cover Artist: Sarah Havan

Release Date: June 22, 2021

Genres: Mpreg, Non-shifter Mpreg romance

Tropes:  Frenemies to lovers 

Themes: Recovering from trauma, starting a new life

Heat Rating: 4 flames      

Length:  approx. 80 000 words

It is part of a series but can be read as a standalone.

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links - Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US   |  Amazon UK 

They’re fated even though they can’t stand each other.

Blurb

Dekker Baines decides he wants to start a family, but he doesn’t have an alpha, so he goes to one of Pine Wood Falls get-togethers. It’s where you go if you need someone to mate with, but his evening goes sideways when a few alphas don’t take no for an answer.

Ryder Remington is Dekk’s business partner, and when he gets a call that Dekk is in trouble, he runs to his rescue and comes across a scene that makes his blood boil. A month after the attack, when Dekk goes into heat again, Ryder tells him he’ll be the father of his children. Dekk is reluctant at first but can’t fight his urge to be with child.

Now they’re starting a family, but the thing is, they can’t stand each other. They are as mismatched as two people can get. Together they have to navigate recovering from trauma, try to tolerate living with each other, and get ready for quintuplets. If they can manage all of that, they might get their happy ending, but things never go according to plan.

Excerpt 

BALLING MY FISTS AT MY SIDE, I TOOK IN A DEEP BREATH. It was one of those moments where I wondered why I went into business with this man. Ryder Remington was very punchable, but like I could have ever punched him, he towered over me.

“There’s no way in hell we’re naming the bar that.” He scratched the dark stubble on his jaw and shook his head.

I crossed my arms over my chest and smiled. “Why? It’s cute, a play on words.”

“Bars aren’t supposed to be cute,” he grumbled.

“Not everything has to always be macho and manly.” I sat at the bar with my laptop in front of me. 

“Macho. Who uses that word? You know who? Someone who likes cute. For now, the bar is staying named bar.” He couldn’t even be bothered to capitalize it. The sign above the door outside seriously said bar. From where he squatted on the floor, he bore his dark-brown eyes into me, pressing his lips together. It was his go-to I’m an alpha, and you’re going to listen to me look.

“But The Ballet Bar has such a nice ring to it.”

“No.”

I stuck my nose up in the air. “Fine, always so grouchy.”

“I’m not grouchy,” he said, snarling his lip. 

“Gruff.” A perfect word for him. Demeanor and looks. He was a six-foot-five wall of muscle with light tan skin and a head of thick wavy hair. He always wore dark jeans and a black T-shirt and seemed to favor the perfect amount of stubble. And if I didn’t know him and was in a dark alley with him, I’d turn and go in the opposite direction. He always looked like he wanted to harm somebody.

“Aren’t you supposed to be doing some kind of work?” he asked as he emptied the box of bottles next to him.

“Aren’t you?” I flicked my wrist in his direction, and besides, I was doing work. Someone had to keep our business affairs in order. I had just finished placing an order for a new local craft beer we were going to try.

“How did I get talked into opening this place with you?” He stood and folded up the now empty box.

“You saw the brilliance behind my plan.” Basically, I was able to front half the money to open the place. Pine Wood Falls offered a lot of assistance if you opened a business there, like land or a storefront, but there were plenty of other things needed to open a business that required capital. I had moved back to the area about half a year before and wanted something new in my life. Plus, being my own boss sweetened the deal, and my friend Lucas told me he heard about how Ryder was looking for a business partner.

He furrowed his brow and began to wipe down the counter. “And you know what?”

“You know what I know? You’re still trying to come up with a response.”

“You’re supposed to be the business end. In the back, doing the books.”

“Do you know that running a business entails more than some money and doing the books as you say?”

He ignored me and continued to wipe the counter.

“And I put up half the money, too, so I should have just as much right naming the place. You’re the one that makes the drinks, but it doesn’t make you special.” He thought since he was the alpha, he got to call the shots, but we were in it fifty/fifty. Therefore, even if he only saw me as some little omega, I still had an equal say, and I was not ready to give up my fight on naming the bar, but for the day, I let it go.

“It does. I’m so goddamn special.”

“You precious little peach you.”

“Said the ballerina.”

“Said the college dropout.”

“I went and tried. Did you ever take a college course? No.”

Well, he had me there. “I was at an elite dance academy.”

He put his hands on the edge of the bar and leaned in toward me. “For high school.”

“I was actually there until a year after high school,” I said.

“See, and you’re making fun of me. I’m a proud college dropout. You, it seems, was held back at your fancy pants school.” He smirked and threw the towel he wiped down the counter with over his shoulder.

About the Author 

Sarah Havan writes all kinds of LGBTQIA+ romance, loves watermelon flavored candy, and has a vast flannel shirt collection. When not writing, Sarah loves to read and watch shows about murder.

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Instagram  |  Patreon

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

a $10 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Courting Nightfall by Amanda Meuwissen

The Courting Nightfall release blitz from author Amanda Meuwissen and Gay Book Promotions visits the blog today! Fantasy lovers check it out, find out more about the darker fantasy romance and enter in the eBook giveaway, courtesy of the author and JMS Books!

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Courting Nightfall

Author: Amanda Meuwissen

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Release Date: June 19, 2021

Genres: Paranormal, High Fantasy, Horror, Dark M/M Romance

Tropes: Reincarnation, vampires, enemies to lovers, his first time, blood play

Themes:  Self-acceptance, redemption, love means letting go

Heat Rating: 4 flames  

Length: 182 pages

It is a standalone story

Goodreads 

Buy Links

Amazon US   |   Amazon UK 

JMS Books

Zen had only—literally only—ever dreamed that someone would want him this much…

Blurb

Zen is a half dark elf in a world that hates him, protected by being raised by the Order of the Sun to become a priest. He longs for a different life with a mysterious, beautiful man he only glimpses in dreams. After encountering an adventuring party, Zen is drawn to accompany them to destroy a fabled vampire lord, but the pull he feels toward those lands might be more fated than he realizes.

Excerpt 

That night, before falling into an exhausted sleep—in his tiny, wooden bed with minimal padding and coarse blankets—Zen gently touched the scar that ran full circle around his neck. He tried ignoring it during the day, hidden by the high collar of his vestments, but in bed, out of his robes, his fingers often strayed there. 

He didn’t know what had caused the wire-thin line. He’d had it all his life and often wondered if it had been a failed attempt to kill him as an infant. Like Father Lewis had said, he’d been abandoned on the steps of the temple. 

No one wanted a darkling child. 

Zen’s existence, his life, was most people’s nightmare, which was why it amazed and yet soothed him that he never experienced nightmares himself. His dreams were sweet. There he had no scars. In his dreams, he was whole and wanted. 

Desired, even.

A warm, human hand trailed slowly across Zen’s unmarred neck and down his naked body. Here his bed was plush and opulent, or perhaps it belonged to the man he imagined himself with. Zen had never met anyone like him in waking life, yet every dream he’d had since he first knew he desired men starred the same mysterious figure. 

Zen never saw his face clearly, but he was still a vision of noble beauty. Skin pale as cream with soft color in his cheeks, neatly trimmed black hair that occasionally fell into his eyes—and oh, his eyes. Some might think them haunting or eerie, being such a rich, ruddy brown that they almost looked red, but Zen adored them. He adored the smooth, flawless form laid out beside him, trim but well-muscled, and as naked as he was. 

Still, all those features painted an incomplete picture that he could never quite bring into focus. 

The man’s sex was impressive though, no doubt conjured from Zen’s most carnal fantasies, as ruddy as his eyes, swollen and leaking wetness onto the sheets. Zen had often longed to know the feel of it in his hands, his mouth, and deep inside him, but his dreams never allowed more than a tease. 

Zen didn’t know the man’s name and had never made one up, but he thought of him as an angel, giving him pleasures where real life never could. 

“You are a beautiful crystalline snowflake, my love, silver and blue and pure blinding white.” He kissed Zen’s cheek, his fingertips tracing mischievously down Zen’s stomach. His other hand ran blunt nails through Zen’s short white hair.  

That wasn’t right. Zen kept his snowy-white locks tied back, but his hair fell well past his shoulders. Like the missing scar, he was different here in the dreamworld. 

“I miss you,” his angel whispered and bent to kiss Zen’s lips. 

Then touch me, Zen thought, pressing upward and opening his mouth to connect them more deeply, while instantly wanting more. 

He didn’t know why his mind created a human man instead of someone more like him. Maybe because humans were all he’d ever known. The man was stunning regardless and saw Zen the way he’d always wished someone would. 

“Come, my love.”

Zen wanted to—

“Come to me. Come for me, my beautiful darkling, but come to me as well.”

Zen didn’t understand. How much closer could they get? His angel was between his legs, warm hand curling around him and squeezing with promise. Still, for all the lust that stirred in Zen, it was the intimacy of another kiss to his cheek that filled him with the most want. 

“Please, love, come to me. Come…” He stroked Zen firmly while licking up along one of his pointed darkling ears, inducing a deep shudder from low at the base of Zen’s spine. “Come… my Zenos.”

That wasn’t—

“Now!”

Zen’s eyes snapped open as if triggered by a spring, his sheets sticky and damp atop him from how he’d come before waking. 

Damn it. He rarely did that, usually waking hard and unfulfilled, and then taking himself in hand. Today he’d made a mess, and it wasn’t even morning.  

About the Author 

Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual author, with a primary focus on M/M romance. As author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and several other titles with various publishers, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter

Instagram  |  Pinterest  |  Newsletter Sign-up

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

an eBook copy of Courting Nightfall

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Way to a Man's Heart (Kingdom of Corazón #1) by Ann Marie James


Author Ann Marie James and Other Worlds Ink promote new Pride Publishing release, The Way to a Man's Heart (Kingdom of Corazón #1)! Find out more about the contemporary romance and enter in the Amazon gift card giveaway!

 
The Way to a Man's Heart - Ann Marie James

Ann Marie James has a new contemporary gay romance out: The Way to a Man's Heart. And there's a giveaway!

The heart wants what the heart wants…

Christian Diaz grew up as the best friend and unofficial bodyguard to the Crown Prince of the Kingdom of Corazón. After an incident left him questioning his place in the castle, Christian joined the military and didn’t return for ten long years.

Now he’s been assigned to the castle as Royal Military Liaison to investigate the source of some recent threats against the crown. The annual Midsummer’s Ball is the perfect place for the anti-monarchy group to make their next move, so that’s where Christian will be too. If it gives him a chance to reconnect with his friends in the castle and make a play for the man he has compared all others to, it’s even better.

Max Ramirez is now the head chef for the castle. He started as a sous chef at age twenty when Christian was just an awkward teen. Now that Christian’s back at the castle, all grown up and interested in Max, the chef is determined not to let an opportunity with Christian pass him by.

When someone tries to sabotage the Midsummer’s Ball, Max and Christian need to work together to track down the people determined to make this event their last.

Warnings: This book contains mentions of drug use, obsession, references to parental abuse, drink spiking, violence, attempted rape, and attempted murder.

About the Series:

There’s evil brewing on the Island of Corazón. While the ruling monarchy is almost universally well loved, both at home and abroad, there are rumors of a group who believe the monarchy needs to be eliminated, by any means necessary.

Publisher | Amazon | First for Romance


Giveaway

Ann is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47190/?


Excerpt

The Way to a Man's Heart banner - Ann Marie James

The royal family of the Kingdom of Corazón greeted their guests for the Midsummers Ball as Christian watched. He ran a hand down the front of his dress military uniform to straighten it while he waited for his turn to be announced. This was his first formal duty as the newly appointed Royal Military Liaison, and he needed to make sure he looked his best. He shifted his feet to find some relief for his ankle, which was still sore from him standing for a long time. His last mission had not gone to plan, and a broken ankle had been the result. Although the cast had come off a couple of weeks prior, it still wasn’t one hundred percent.

“Royal Military Liaison Lieutenant Diaz,” the herald announced. Christian caught the eye of Crown Prince Sebastian toward the end of the greeting line and his best friend’s eyes widened in surprise before his face lit up with happiness at seeing him. As the only child of the Castle Commander, Christian had grown up here, but he’d been in the service away from the castle for ten years. At thirty, Christian was the same age as Crown Prince Sebastian. They had been best friends from the time they had been in diapers, and even though Christian and the prince still got together when their schedules allowed, it wasn’t the same as seeing and being with him every day. Christian had missed him fiercely.

The royal children of the kingdom were usually paired with a young playmate from the age of about ten. Christian had started earlier than age ten as Sebastian’s companion, since he was always with him anyway. As Castle Commander, his father was the head of the guard slash castle security. He’d taken the companion idea a step further and trained Christian to be as good as he could be in martial arts and marksmanship. In his father’s eyes, Christian was to act as another line of defense for the Crown Prince. While Christian had not carried a gun—that was the role of the actual bodyguards—he was trained in case he ever had to use one.

With a nod to the herald, Christian stepped forward to greet the Queen of the Kingdom of Corazón. Queen Tania reached out both hands to Christian, and he clasped them and raised them to his lips while bowing over them. “My Queen… It is a pleasure to see you. You haven’t changed a bit.”

“Lieutenant Diaz, it is a pleasure to see you as well. Ten years is way too long. We have missed you.”

“I apologize for the lengthy absence, Your Highness. I needed a change, but I am assigned here for the foreseeable future, so you will have time to get sick of me again.”

“So my husband has told me. I am excited to have you home, although in a different capacity as the Royal Military Liaison. I look forward to catching up.”

“As do I.”

The queen turned a stern eye on her eldest daughter, who was standing to her right. “Princess Zia, isn’t it wonderful that Christian will be back with us for a while?”

Christian tried to mask his sneer as his gaze went to Zia, who was not at all happy this evening. Of course, she wouldn’t be, since she wasn’t the center of attention. She wasn’t a very nice person and never had been. She was also part of the reason he’d left and joined the military. What she did… No, he wasn’t going to think about it. It was in the past. He was stronger and even more deadly now. It was time for him to face his demons. The military had finished the training his father had started, turning him into a true weapon. At twenty-eight, Christian had hoped Zia would have grown up and stopped being so self-absorbed, but the affliction seemed to have gotten worse instead of better in the time Christian had been away.

Christian gave Princess Zia a shallow bow. “Princess Zia.” That was all he could manage. He wasn’t going to lie and say he’d missed her.

Princess Zia tossed back her hair and gave him her haughtiest look. “Mr. Diaz.”

“It’s Lieutenant Diaz, actually, Your Highness.” Christian didn’t wait for her to respond, instead turning to greet the king of the Kingdom of Corazón. A striking man, even in his fifties, King Raul Hart exuded a sense of calm authority that Christian had always admired, making him seem larger than life. “King Raul.” Christian bowed low in front of the man. When he straightened, Christian was shocked to realize that he was now taller than the king. When they had met briefly the day before, the king had been busy on a phone call and had just waved him into his office and into a chair. Christian had experienced another surprise growth spurt after he had joined the military at age twenty and was now six-three, but he hadn’t realized that made him taller than the king.

“Hello again, Royal Military Liaison Lieutenant Diaz.” The king’s eyes twinkled at him as he ignored protocol and pulled Christian into a hug. “I didn’t get a chance to do that when we met yesterday. I wanted to correct that error.”

“Yes, sir.” Christian returned the hug before stepping back and offering him a crisp salute. “Lieutenant Diaz reporting for duty, sir.”

“As you were, Lieutenant. Now I think there’s someone here who can’t wait to greet you. It was hard keeping this a secret from him.”

“I know. I talked to him earlier, and I almost spilled the beans.”

Christian moved down the line and tried to keep a stern expression on his face as he saluted before grinning at one of his best friends. “Crown Prince.”

“Why didn’t you tell me you were being assigned to the castle as Royal Military Liaison?”

“I thought you would like the surprise of it. It just happened a few days ago.” Christian once more ran a hand down the front of his military uniform. “First mission, the Midsummer’s Ball. It’s a very tough assignment.”


Author Bio

Ann Marie James Avatar

Ann Marie James is fluent in two languages, English and sarcasm. She believes that you will never learn anything new if you don’t read as much as you can, and/or talk to every stranger you meet. She always looks for the best in people and to treat people the way she wants to be treated. Above all Ann Marie believes in love, whatever form it takes. Relationships are hard, love is the glue that keeps it together.

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100011440126760

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/groups/1937561223055168

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

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

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Ann-Marie-James/e/B07S2SYBZ3/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

Other Worlds Ink logo

Audiobook Review: Call of the Alpha (Blue Moon #3) by A.E. Via

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.

Contains mature themes.

Listening Length: 7 hours and 18 minutes
Narrator: Tim Paige



Reviewer: Shee Reader

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.

I really enjoyed the first two books in this series, and jumped at the chance to review this one! I absolutely adore audiobooks and enjoyed Tim Paige’s performance.

It took me a while to get into the story, because it opens on the MC’s from the previous book and I found I couldn’t remember why I had liked them! John in particular ground my gears, but I began to enjoy things much more once Lion arrived. He is an intriguing character and I was glad for Omega to meet his match. Lion is a fearsome assassin in his order, but for Omega, he would cook complex meals and run him a bath. Seemed odd to me, but I liked him!

Once the men had stopped posturing and lowered their hoods, they could set about getting an ‘army’ together and travelling to the homeland to avenge the foe.

It was nice to revisit Hawk and his husband on the way, before everything started to go badly.

The rest of the story is a terrific swing of violence, amazing skills and incredible talents. I did enjoy it, but the identity of the person who had put them all at risk was a bitter pill to swallow (no spoilers here) but wowzers!

AE’s writing always encompasses hugely strong men who have soft hearts for their lovers, and this is no exception. I did enjoy the book and found Tim’s narration to be excellent with realistic accents throughout.

Recommended.

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



Release Blitz + Giveaway: Liam (Love @ the Haven #4) by Stella Shaw


 Author Stella Shaw returns with new release blitz from her rent boy series, Liam (Love @ the Haven #4)! Read more about the BDSM lite romance and enter in the $10 Amazon gift card giveaway!

Book Title: Liam, Love at the Haven book 4
Book Author: Stella Shaw
Publisher: self-published
Length: 55,000
Release date: 21 June 2021
Subgenres: Contemporary, MM, romance, BDSM-lite
Other: Available at Amazon and in KU
BUY LINK: books2read.com/liamhaven4


Book Blurb:


The brawny Dom and the beautiful Diva—and the secrets they keep.

A personal trainer and part-time escort, Liam is burly, bossy, and perfectly cast as the resident Dom at the Haven Hotel. And if anything falls outside that box—like the lacy lingerie he keeps hidden in his gym bag—that’s easily ignored, right?
Felix’s career as a successful model means being at the beck and call of anyone who requires him. He’s expected to be satisfied with glamour, money, and subservience. No one would ever believe his secret desire to take control. When Liam agrees to show the outrageously pretty and delicate Felix around Liam’s infamous Room 8, neither one expects the disobedient desire that sparks between two such opposite men.
Felix is looking for a lover who’ll let him call the shots, whereas Liam is fighting the desire to submit. Their passion and power could make for a kinky role reversal.
They just have to surrender to their deepest needs.

General Excerpt:

Felix’s curiosity was fascinating. In many ways, he was so cool and so confident: he made me feel large and clumsy when he strolled past me to peer in the top drawer. And I was well aware of the looks he drew, both at the gym, and when we arrived at the Haven. But the longer he was in Room 8, just the two of us together, the more the surface glamour faded and he just seemed like… another guy.

He made an irritated noise and pushed back his hair. It had worked loose from its topknot, as I’d noticed it often did. A drop of sweat glimmered under his ear. I had an irresistible urge to lean forward, settle my hand at the base of his skull, and lick that up.

“Here. Let me.” I stepped behind him, swept his hair up in my hand, twisted it, and fastened it back into place.

“What did you use?” he asked.

“It’s just a leather tie.” There was a pile of them in the drawer, of various lengths. This one was dark red, glossy, and looked good against his blond hair. The tips were pale green today, and brought out a muted hint of the same colour in his irises.

I watched the pulse in his throat as he swallowed, my hand lingering, brushing my fingertips over the shorter hairs on his nape. I wanted to take hold of him; to stroke him all over.

“Did you ask me?” he said softly.

I paused, because there was a jarring, yet strangely familiar edge to his voice. “Ask you what?”

“If you could touch my hair.” His casual tone had faded, the laughter no longer behind his words. “If you could touch me.”

I’d just wanted to help. But something stopped me saying that aloud.

“I should have checked first,” I said, instead.

“Yes. Just remember that.” He turned until he faced me, his eyes unnaturally bright. There were spots of colour high on his cheeks as if he was already aroused. He cupped my jaw with his left hand, and brushed his thumb over my lower lip. “Though my answer would have been Green.”

About Stella Shaw

Stella Shaw is a pen name of the best-selling author of MM romance, Clare London. Stella's series of Rent Boy romances, Love at the Haven, launched in January 2021.

Join Stella's newsletter at http://bit.ly/stellashawNews or find her on Facebook at StellaShawAuthor

Author links*

Website www.stellashawauthor.com
Newsletter http://bit.ly/stellashawNews
Facebook www.facebook.com/stellashawauthor
Facebook Group www.facebook.com/groups/stellasstars
Amazon www.amazon.com/author/stellashaw
Goodreads www.goodreads.com/stellashaw
Bookbub www.bookbub.com/authors/stella-shaw
Instagram www.instagram.com/stellashawauthor




GIVEAWAY:

Stella is giving away a $10 amazon GC

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d51793e0578/?

Release Blitz + Giveaway: Hollywood to Horses by Dez Schwartz


Celebrate the release of Hollywood to Horses with author Dez Schwartz and IndiGo Marketing! Learn more about the romantic comedy and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: Hollywood to Horses

Author: Dez Schwartz

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 29800

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Equestrian, Horses, Sports, Rivals to Lovers, Over 40, Gay, Bisexual, Rom Com

Add to Goodreads


Description

Mateo Harris, a retired Olympic Show Jumper, achieved just about everything he could want in life. Rising from a nobody to becoming a beloved gold-medalist, co-owning H&H Riding Academy with his cousin—and best friend—Emily Hall, and he’s one of the most powerful and respected men in his hometown of Sweetspire, VA. Nothing can shake the foundations of the life he’s built for himself. That is until he hears his nemesis and former crush, Christopher Wright II, has moved back to town.

Christopher, a runaway movie star, has returned to Sweetspire to inherit the family business: Wright Stables, the only rival riding academy Mateo has ever had to worry about. With Christopher’s charm, talent, and fame taking charge, Mateo is faced with real competition both in and out of the arena. He’ll have to be at the top of his game to prove he’s still the number one equestrian in town, but every encounter with Christopher becomes as challenging as any obstacle he’s faced on horseback.

Excerpt

Hollywood to Horses
Dez Schwartz © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Mateo Harris and his black Belgian warmblood soared over a post-and-plank obstacle, then galloped in a curve to face two gates in proximity. They leapt over both with swift ease. The final stretch sent them gliding over the triple bars as they completed the course in a flawless fashion.

Mateo’s students applauded from the fence where they each sat astride their own horses, the eagerness for a chance to try the course themselves apparent.

The solid thud beneath Mateo’s riding boots reverberated through him, a satisfying crescendo indicating the finale of his performance. He believed a rider should never consider themselves finished showing until they were no longer on horseback. Although he hated to admit to himself, the ache in his right knee also grounded him in the truth—injury and age.

Defying reality, and because of his inherent showmanship, Mateo pivoted his athletic body in one graceful movement to face his pupils.

“And that’s how you win an Olympic gold medal in show jumping,” he announced. “Any questions?”

His students applauded, and he grabbed the reigns to lead his horse out of the arena.

“Why can’t you still win them?” a snide voice rang out. “Maybe you could teach us how to not fall off our horses.” The comment, which referenced an injury he sustained at his last Olympic competition, came from a tall blonde girl, Payton Parker, who Mateo found irritating on any given day; this one especially.

Most of the students appeared to hold their breath after the bold insult as if all the oxygen of the pleasant Virginian afternoon had been depleted. Their wide eyes showed they’d never dream of saying such a thing to someone so well regarded. Known for his equestrian accomplishments in the city of Sweetspire, the waitlist to get into H&H Riding Academy—the school Mateo and his cousin, Emily Hall, ran together—was as long as his list of accolades.

A few uncontrolled giggles cropped up, and Payton smirked at him to show she found the power-play to her peers worth any repercussion.

Mateo pursed his lips and produced a warning smile as he approached Payton, taking his time to remove his black riding gloves finger by finger.

He addressed her but did so loud enough so the entire class would be sure to hear him. “Your parents pay me excessive amounts of inherited money to turn entitled leeches like yourself into professional equestrians. As if any amount of funding could ever supply you with the aptitude you so obviously, and painfully, lack. You’ll be lucky to ever win so much as a participation trophy awarded for anything other than nepotism. You’re hereby dismissed from this class, Payton. In fact, because I’m feeling particularly plucky today, you are expelled. Good day, Miss Parker. I’ll expect a call from your parents as soon as the nanny reminds them they have children.”

The same student giggles returned, this time siding with Mateo and proving to be as good as a slap in the face for Payton. Fuming, she coaxed her Hanoverian toward the exit of the outdoor arena. She shouted over her shoulder as she left. “There are other riding academies, you know! I’ll go to Wright Stables! I don’t need you to win a blue ribbon!”

“I agree. You need talent!”

Nothing made him see red faster than mention of Wright Stables, his only real local competitor.

He chided himself for being drawn into an immature argument with a spoiled teenager and moved to get his class back on task.

“If anyone else would like to be expelled today, please, negligently criticize me. Otherwise, run your courses!”

Mateo waved them off, and they rushed to begin taking turns practicing the paces.

He led his prized horse, Top Shelf, back to the stables and handed him off to a stable hand. Once out of the long corridor on the other side of the luxury barn, Mateo reached inside his navy-blue riding blazer, grabbed his flask, and threw back a swig of French vodka.

He took a deep breath of the balmy late afternoon air, letting the heat of the drink warm his chest and relax him.

He spotted Cameron Myers leaning on the fencing of a corral where he had a student practicing dressage basics. The lines from Cameron’s dancer’s muscles showed through his thin white shirt whenever he leaned forward on the railing, and he combed his fingers through his wavy chestnut hair as he shouted out instructions to the student for improvement. Cameron clapped his approval when the student followed his recommendation to the letter.

He’s a much nicer instructor than I could ever be. It’s a good thing I hired him, or my student body might be severely lacking in numbers.

Cameron raised an eyebrow once he turned to Mateo. “Little early for that, don’t you think?”

Mateo found his youthful naivety charming and smiled. “Just a light afternoon snack.”

The corners of Cameron’s eyes crinkled sympathetically. “Tough day?”

“I teach overly indulged teenage millionaires how to make an animal jump over brightly colored poles for a living.” He took another drink at the thought. “Every day is tough.”

Cameron chuckled and turned his attention back to his own student. “You know you love every minute of it.”

Mateo grinned, putting the flask away. “No, you love it. I just have an affinity for collecting dead presidents.”

“You know I don’t believe that for a second.” Cameron signaled to the young rider to start their routine over. “I wouldn’t be here if that were true.”

Appreciative of his candidness, Mateo patted Cameron’s shoulder.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

 

Meet the Author

Dez Schwartz is a LGBTQ, Dreampunk, & Gothic Romance author and artist based in San Angelo, Texas. She holds a BFA in Studio Art and worked as a graphic artist, and a Director’s Assistant at a fine arts museum, before transitioning to writing full-time. Her longtime love of Victorian spiritualism, gay literary fiction, and romantic comedies inspired her to begin writing all of the stories she wished existed. When she’s not passionately crafting tales, she can be found drawing, researching, or traveling with loved ones.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Pinterest

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway 

  Blog Button 2

Audiobook Tour + Giveaway: Shadow Voice (The Blackwood Pack #5) by Mary Rundle


Don't miss today's audiobook tour stop hosted by author Mary Rundle and Other Worlds Ink for Shadow Voice (The Blackwood Pack #5)! Discover more about the Nick J. Russo narrated paranormal romance and enter in the giveaway for a chance to win: an Amazon gift card and a Blackwood Pack Pub Mug!

Shadow Voice Audiobook - Mary Rundle

Mary Rundle has a new paranormal MM romance audiobook out: Shadow Voice. And there's a giveaway!

The Blackwood Pack saga continues…

This is part of an on-going series and reading the previous titles is advised. Readers of the past books will enjoy meeting old friends once more as the pack does what it does best ̶ caring for each other.

Slate, one of the last Dire Wolves, has carved out a life which suits him fine—plenty of traveling to exotic locations and an abundance of one night stands to handle his needs. While he’s happy for his brother, who has found his Fated Mate, Slate isn’t interested in finding his—at least not for a long time. That is, until his body betrays him. Seeking his mother’s help—who is an Oracle—Slate pays a visit to the Blackwood Pack where he finds the Fates have once again, messed with his life.

Dakota, the chef for the Blackwood Pack, fell in love with cooking as a young child and ultimately the kitchen became a place of refuge for him. Suffering with a ‘curse’ through much of his childhood, he relied heavily on his mother’s help to deal with it. After the massacre of his mother and siblings by their greedy uncle, Dakota barely survives, but finally forges a life for himself, content to stay home and take care of the people he loves.

A long-hidden secret, rejection of a mate, acceptance of rare gifts, and a brutal kidnapping are just some of the obstacles Dakota and Slate must battle together to save their relationship. As the pack rallies around them, both must learn to trust the other before they can find the happiness that the Fates have ordained for them.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon France | Amazon Germany | Audible Germany | iBooks | QueeRomance Ink | Goodreads


Giveaway

Mary is giving away an Amazon gift card and a Blackwood Pack Pub Mug with this tour:

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47188/?


Excerpt

Shadow Voice audio meme

The sounds of the forest faded as Dakota lost himself in the pleasure of kissing his mate’s soft but firm lips—that was, until the sound of his growling stomach broke the spell. Breaking off the kiss, an embarrassed Dakota said, “Uhm, sorry, I haven’t eaten since this morning.”

“Babe, mine has been growling too; I haven’t eaten since last night. Didn’t you hear it?”

Dakota shook his head. “I guess I was a little preoccupied,” he said, shyly. Glancing around the glen, he realized how late it was. “Holy shit! I have to get home and make dinner!” Dakota said, stumbling, as he tried to get up.

“Whoa! Trust me…my mother has made dinner for everyone, well, except for us.”

“But Jackson will worry why I’m staying out so late. I never told anyone where I was going.”

Grabbing Dakota’s hand, he pulled him back down beside him. “No he won’t, because I told him where you were and he knows I was headed out to find you.”

“Did you tell him we’re mates?”

“Yes, do you have a problem with that?”

Sighing, Dakota shook his head. “Not really. It would’ve come out sooner or later anyway.”

The resignation in Dakota’s voice wasn’t reassuring but Slate decided to not worry about it right now; instead he wanted to get his mate back to the house and then, feed him. “Why don’t we head back and I’ll make you something for dinner.”

Dakota’s face brightened. “That’s right, Colton told me you like to cook. Okay, do you want to shift and run back or walk back?”

“I’d prefer to walk back with you in the moonlight, if that’s all right.”

Dakota thought it over and decided he really did want to spend more time with his mate. He knew they needed to talk about having pups and all of that, but right now, he just wanted a moonlight stroll with Slate. “That’s fine, I’d rather do that too,” he said, rising to his feet again, and offering his mate a hand.

Grabbing it, Slate rose, and slinging the empty backpack over his shoulder, led Dakota down the mountain on the dirt path he’d followed when he was searching for him. “I’m hoping you know the way back.”

“Yup…just follow this path until you get to a fork, then take the one to the right and it’ll lead us back to the house.”

Walking in silence for a few minutes, Slate wished they were already mated so at least he could know what his mate was thinking, but he knew it would take some time before that happened because of the promise he made to his mother.

“Was Jackson angry I left?” asked Dakota, worrying about what he would find at home.

Slate stopped, turned around so he was facing Dakota, then grasping his other hand, he looked intently at his mate. “Not at all. Please stop worrying about it. I told Jackson you were my Fated Mate and I wanted to claim you, but I told you I won’t do that until you agree, okay?”

Dakota stared at his mate’s face, loving how the moonlight highlighted Slate’s features. Nodding slowly, he felt his worry disappear as his body was flooded with his mate’s love. Smiling in response, he said, “You know when you do that, it makes it so easy for me to forget everything except you.”

Growling his approval, Slate said, “Good, now let’s go so I can show off my cooking skills.”

Giggling in response, Dakota happily followed his mate. “Tell me more about the trouble you got into as a pup.”

Snorting, Slate said, “Only if you promise never to tell anyone what a complete shit I was back then. Sometimes when I think back about all the crap I pulled, I’m amazed my parents still speak to me now after surviving my youth. Half of it was spent going to bed early as punishment and my poor brother spent half his youth trying to talk me out of my crazy ideas. By the way, he never did…the best he could hope for was getting me to make a few changes in the interests of protecting me from the danger that made my ideas so cool.”

“Did he get punished too?”

“Sometimes, but usually when he came up with his own ideas,” Slate said, laughing. “My mother told my father I was a bad influence on Steel the time we took her car and drove it into town so we could go to the fair.”

“Why, cause you didn’t get permission?”

Smiling broadly, Slate said, “No, though we didn’t do that either. My parents were furious because Steel was only twelve.”

“Twelve? Holy shit! Now I know why you didn’t ask.”

“Right. We knew what the answer would’ve been even though my brother could drive very well. The funny thing, it was actually my brother’s idea to drive us and, of course, I was all for it.”

“What was the big deal about the fair?”

“We heard there’d be lions and elephants and since we’d never seen any, Steel thought it’d be the only time we’d have a chance to. So off we went and had a fucking good time eating all the different foods and going on rides. We never did see any animals, but the fun we had playing the games…and winning…made up for it. You know, if it weren’t for the games, we’d have gotten away with it.”

“I don’t get it. How could games give you away?”


Author Bio

Mary Rundle

The first book I ever wrote was Dire Warning in 2017 and, much to my delight, it became an Amazon Best-Seller. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicling the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates—stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings.

As my books began to be translated into other languages, I also became an Amazon International Best-Selling author and then achieved the honor of becoming an Amazon All Star due to their popularity. My tenth book, Darkness Master has just been published and audible versions of the entire series are in progress.

I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box.

My readers tell me they feel like they’re members of the pack as the stories unfold…as if they’re right there in the middle of the action. Others tell me it’s like watching a fast-paced movie. My writing style pulls no punches…readers love it and are always clamoring for the next book.

Stories come to me as if channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures and are not inhibited when it comes to revealing steamy, sexy details.

I currently live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order. I’m always happy to hear from my readers and can be reached through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or my website.

Author Website: https://www.maryrundle.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundle69

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

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/MaryRundle69

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryrundle69

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14246427.Mary_Rundle

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/mary-rundle/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Mary-Rundle/e/B0763CDQQ6

Audiobook Review: Following the Rules (The Script Club #1) by Lane Hayes

The geek, the jock, and a new set of rules…
Topher-

My friend’s brother needs an academic assistant and I need a job. Problem…jocks are my weakness. Seriously. I lose my ability to speak coherently around muscle-bound hotties. Oh yeah, I lose my inhibitions too—not a good look for a guy with a genius IQ. So what am I going to do about Simon?

Simon-

Finishing college isn’t high on my list of priorities, but my future in professional football is looking bleak. I need a plan B or C, and I could use some help navigating life as an undergrad. Topher is perfect. He’s also a little strange…but in a good way. And I like the way I feel when I’m around him—as though anything is possible. Maybe if we follow our hearts, we’ll find what we’re looking for. But that means changing the rules…

Following the Rules is a MM, bisexual awakening romance starring a lovable nerd, a cool jock, and some extracurricular fun.

Listening Length: 4 hrs and 50 mins
Narrator: Alexander Cendese




I will readily admit that I’m not a Hayes expert, and though I’ve had some wins with this author, I’ve not read her in years. When the chance to sit back and relax with an audio crossed my path, I said, why not?

Suffice it to say, I immensely enjoyed myself.

This starts off with happy go lucky Simon. He’s a pro football player on hiatus due to several concussions, anxiously awaiting for a call to return to the game that just might not come. Simon’s reluctant backup plan is to finally finish getting his college degree, but he needs some help with his classes, and that’s where his brother’s best friend Topher comes in.

Topher needs money, and what better way to do that than to do what he does best, and that’s being smart. There’s just one snag. Jocks are his kryptonite, and Topher literally cannot function properly when around them. It doesn’t help that he’s had a crush on Simon for years either. The arrangement in theory might be perfect, but it’s SO not gonna work. However, Simon is desperate and suggests a nonsensical plan - they’ll role play so as to focus Topher’s mind off the obvious. What it does instead is set these two up for some ridiculous scenarios that do nothing but incite absurd witty banter and spur their libidos in the best way possible.

I’ve only listened to Alexander Cendese once, but he outdid himself here. He imbues Simon with a brash charming pushiness that means absolutely no harm. Simon’s seriously the friendliest, laid back guy ever, nothing seems to phase him and though he’s a teeny tiny bit dim, he handles himself and Topher’s quirkiness with aplomb. In contrast, Cendese aptly portrays Topher with all his uptight fumbling clumsiness that endears you to his geeky stuttering as he spouts obtuse facts while being brazenly forward when it comes to all things sex. The juxtaposition between these two was fun, funny, and simply entertaining.

Let’s be frank. Regarding one’s expectations, just know this is obviously pure fiction in its utmost carefree form. Check your BS meter at the door, and come on in and get comfy! This is sweet, quite smexy, and with barely a smidge of angst, if you could really call it that. No in the closet anxiety, no lamenting anguish, no self sacrifice. If I’m gonna read a contemporary these days, and a sporty one at that, this is exactly how I like it and need it to be!

Overall, the narration only elevated this story with spot on comedic timing and gleefully increased the playful silly sexiness whenever these two were interacting. To say the least, I’ve never been so tickled by a Hayes book. I smiled, snorted, and laughed out loud.

Apparently, this is the beginning of a new series about Topher and his brainiac friends, and if they are as delightful as this first installment, then I’m definitely on board for more!



Release Blitz + Giveaway: The Mayor of Oak Street by Vincent Traughber Meis


Author Vincent Traughber Meis and IndiGo Marketing celebrate the release of The Mayor of Oak Street! Discover more about the contemporary romance and enter in the $10 NineStar Press credit giveaway!

Title: The Mayor of Oak Street

Author: Vincent Traughber Meis

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 06/14/2021

Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 88400

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, age-gap, coming-of-age, coming out, college, political, friends to lovers, period piece, reunited

Add to Goodreads


Description

In the 1960s, Midwestern boy and Boy Scout, Nathan delivers newspapers and mows lawns. Nathan uses his cover to move about yards and sneak into the homes of his neighbors, uncovering their secrets.

In high school, one of the local misfits introduces him to diet pills, which help him overcome his shyness. In an amphetamine high, he meets Cindy, who he hopes will steer him along the “morally straight” path of the Boy Scout Oath he swore to.

Nathan is infatuated with a young doctor down the street, Nicholas (Dr. B), who embodies all the things his mother would love him to be. On one of his secret forays in Dr. B’s house, he hides in a closet and witnesses his idol having sex with man while the wife is out of town. Dr. B’s affair leads to tragedy, forcing the doctor to leave town.
At college in New Orleans, Nathan meets a group of rebels and expands his drug use. Marc, a bisexual Cajun charmer becomes Nathan’s first male sexual experience, but promptly leaves town.

Nathan has a chance encounter with Dr. B, who has moved to New Orleans. Dr. B is in a relationship, but still closeted. Frustrated by Dr. B’s cool reaction, Nathan goes on a six-month binge of amphetamines and anonymous sex. On one night of debauchery, he overdoses and ends up in the emergency ward.

Nathan’s near death rallies Dr. B and Nathan’s other friends to force him into rehab. On the way home from work, Nathan witnesses the gruesome aftermath of the 1973 Up Stairs Lounge fire that devastated the gay population of New Orleans. As a result of the fire, Dr. B’s live-in boyfriend leaves town, freeing Dr. B to explore his feelings for Nathan.

Excerpt

The Mayor of Oak Street
Vincent Traughber Meis © 2021
All Rights Reserved

The Sangamon flows muddy and rank through the corn and soybean fields of central Illinois, giving its name to my city and the lake it fills on the south side before continuing its meander west. One of its tributaries, the even lazier and muddier Harold’s Creek, ran practically up to my back door in its own journey through the woods behind the homes on Oak Street.

The afternoon sun filtered through the tall trees, warming my shoulders as I walked along the creek, imagining building a raft like I had seen my brother and his friends do a few years before. I would ride it down the creek to the Sangamon and into the Illinois, eventually reaching the Mississippi. The Mississippi would take me to New Orleans, a city memorialized in song, literature, and film as a place of wonder. It wasn’t that I needed to run away like Huckleberry Finn. I hadn’t yet learned to hate everything the Sangamon gave its name to. It was a boy’s fantasy brought on by the heat of summer and the mesmerizingly sluggish flow of water.

I heard a branch snap deep in the woods. I often saw hobos from the nearby Wabash Line wandering in the woods, and my mother told me I needed to avoid them, but I sometimes watched them from behind a clump of bushes. My eyes darted around the area and saw nothing. I glanced at my watch. Time to go. For most kids, these were the carefree days of summer, but I had things to do. From the creek, I walked up the hill, through our backyard, and out to the street.

Mrs. Sloan’s heavy oak door hung wide open while a screen kept the swarms of late summer flies and mosquitoes at bay. I put my face to the mesh in what felt like an invasion of her privacy, causing me to tingle from the top of my head down to my big toes.

“Hello? Mrs. Sloan?” I shouted into the dim interior of the hall.

No answer.

I opened the screen door haltingly and stepped inside. The door creaked shut, sounding painful in the silence of the house. I took a step, and then another. My legs shook. I peered to the right into the living room and left into the dining room. A force had taken control of me and pushed me on, my sneakers barely touching the carpet.

I went as far as the kitchen, passing two empty bedrooms on the way. Her purse sat on the yellow chrome Formica kitchen table, the keys to her Oldsmobile right next to it. Out the kitchen window, I searched for her floppy straw hat in the sunny backyard. She was neither in the garden where she often tended her vegetables nor in the lawn chair where she sometimes sat, large sunglasses on her nose and a cocktail in hand. I took note the lawn needed mowing.

Nylons hung over the bathroom shower curtain rod, hypnotically swaying in the breeze from the open window. Though we called her Mrs. Sloan, I had never heard of a Mr. Sloan. My father once complained about entering the bathroom and finding my mother’s nylons drying in plain sight. I wondered if Mrs. Sloan was sad living alone or happy she had the freedom to do what she wanted.

I should have been scared of her coming home and finding me lurking in her house, but a stronger force blocked the fear, a compelling energy moving my mind and body, making me feel impervious to danger. I continued down the hall to the living room, stopping to gaze at each of three framed needlepoint messages: “There’s nothing to fear but fear itself,” “A cheery smile makes life worthwhile,” and “You belong among the wildflowers.”

I had come to Mrs. Sloan’s door in my rounds, collecting for my paper route. She was a month behind in her payments. And I rationalized my invasion of her home out of concern for her welfare. My mother once said she wouldn’t be surprised to find her passed out drunk on the front lawn one day. My brother in high school sometimes came home from a night of drinking with his buddies and would collapse face down on his bed in our shared room without removing his clothes or shoes. One time, he ended up on the floor. Perhaps Mrs. Sloan had fallen like my brother. Perhaps she had fallen asleep in the bath and was at risk of drowning like I had seen on a television program.

I spent a few more minutes in the house before exiting through the front door into the calm and quiet on Oak Street. I continued up the block to do the rest of the collections. That night I drew a floor plan of her home, noting doors and windows. My brother called me a weirdo when the first thing I looked at in the Sunday paper was the page with the floor plan of a new house on the market while he went for the sports section, my father the news, and my mother the book reviews. I also scribbled notes about Mrs. Sloan’s house: the color and shape of her purse, the black-and-white photo of a somber older couple in the living room, the buff-colored nylons, the approximately twelve-inch cross hanging over her bed, and the needlepoint messages.

Before I entered my teenage years, I would know my way in and out of most every house on the block without being discovered. It was the Midwest. It was the ‘60s. Crime happened elsewhere. In addition to delivering papers, I mowed lawns. I could cross barriers, move within fences, and befriend dogs. Access. Getting inside the house was usually the easy part.

Everybody told me my paper route and lawn-mowing jobs would be good experience though I had no idea how much I would learn about myself, about others, about life, the good and the bad. I could assume the face of the upstanding neighborhood boy, appearing at their doors to collect subscription payments, smiling and making small talk while below the surface I was another person, motivated by desires they would never understand.

The second time I entered a home was as spontaneous as the first. It was the Pruitts’. While mowing the front lawn, I noticed Mrs. Pruitt lock the front door, take her two identically dressed little girls by the hand, jump into their Ford station wagon, and drive off. When I got around to the back of the house, I spotted the kitchen door standing open, beckoning me. I turned off the mower so I would hear if the car returned. I went into the kitchen. My mother would die rather than let our kitchen fall into such disorder; the sink filled with dirty dishes, and the kitchen table covered with open schoolbooks and scattered papers.

A half-full milk carton sat on the counter. I opened the fridge and saw a whole shelf of soda pop. I took an orange Crush and drank it as I did a quick tour of the house. Not much interesting. The rest of the house was as messy as the kitchen. I finished the soda outside, threw the bottle in the trashcan, and finished mowing the lawn. Before I went to bed that night, I drew a floor plan of their three-bedroom and put it in a folder with Mrs. Sloan’s.

I thought of these intrusions as accidents, isolated incidents that wouldn’t be repeated. But images of those escapades kept dancing through my head, enticing me to do it again. The rush of danger, the real possibility I might be caught, was like a drug. At the time I was still ignorant about drugs and addictions, but my body clearly knew sensations it wanted to revisit. I managed to stave off my urges for a few months. I turned twelve over the summer, and several of my customers who had heard it was my birthday tacked on a bit extra to their payments.

Lawn-mowing season came to an end as the weather turned cold, and we had our first snowfall. Soon after, I started receiving calls about paper holds for the Thanksgiving holidays. To me, they might as well have been invitations. I prayed it didn’t snow as the soft whiteness would show the hard dirty prints of my boots, a trail of my activities. I had to start thinking about such things: tracks I might leave, who in the neighborhood tended to snoop out their windows, or how often people left doors unlocked, windows open.

I made a point of being friendly with the dogs on my street as I knew my extracurricular activities at houses with animals could be a problem. The Jackmans had a golden retriever. I’d received notice to put their paper on hold for five days, making me guess they weren’t going to leave the dog in the house for that length of time.

When I did my collections the week before Thanksgiving, I casually mentioned to Mrs. Jackman that I had received the hold notice. People loved to give out information they didn’t have to. She revealed they were going to their lake house in Arkansas. Butch was curled up at her feet. He raised his head as she took a ten out of her wallet and gave it to me. She told me to keep the change, and I thanked her profusely while I tore off her receipt.

I reached down to pet the dog. “I guess Butch is going to get a vacation too.”

“Oh, yeah. He loves it down there.”

Bingo, I was in. After our Thanksgiving meal, Dad and my brother watched the football game on TV while Mom cleaned up. I went to my room, saying I was going to read. Nobody thought it was odd. In my family, everybody did pretty much what he or she wanted. Normally, after a Thanksgiving meal, Dad and my brother passed out in front of the TV, and Mom curled up in a chair to read after cleaning up the kitchen. They had all had a lot of wine at dinner, including David, who my parents allowed to drink though he was only sixteen, something about him learning to drink responsibly at home keeping him from being irresponsible when he went out. I wasn’t sure that was working.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Vincent Traughber Meis started writing plays as a child in the Midwest and cajoled his sisters to act in performing them for neighbors. In high school, one of his short stories won a local contest sponsored by the newspaper. After graduating from college, he worked on a number of short stories and began his first novel. In the 1980’s and 90’s he published a number of pieces, mostly travel articles in publications such as, The Advocate, LA Weekly, In Style, and Our World. His travels have inspired his five novels, all set at least partially in foreign countries: Eddie’s Desert Rose (2011), Tio Jorge (2012), and Down in Cuba (2013), Deluge (2016) and Four Calling Burds (2019). Tio Jorge received a Rainbow Award in the category of Bisexual Fiction in 2012. Down in Cuba received two Rainbow Awards in 2013. Recently stories have been published in three collections: WITH:New Gay Fiction, Best Gay Erotica Vol 1 and Best Gay Erotica Vol 4. He lives in San Leandro, CA with his husband.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

  Blog Button 2