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

Join author Mell Eight and IndiGo Marketing as they celebrate the re-release of Magnifiied (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.

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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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Book Blast: Ordinary Whore by Dieter Moitzi

Check out today's book blast from author Dieter Moitzi and Gay Book Promotions for mystery romance, Ordinary Whore!

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Ordinary Whore

Author: Dieter Moitzi

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Dieter Moitzi

Genre/s: Mystery, Romance

Trope/s: Family secrets, escort, healing, rebirth, finding a soulmate

Themes: High society, escort, finding oneself, false perceptions, finding the sense of life, resilience

Heat Rating:  0 - 1 flame       

Length: 87 222 words / 328 pages

It is a standalone book.

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Buy Links

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |   Amazon UK  |   Kobo  

A story of loneliness, loss, treacherous perception, family secrets, and… rebirth.

 
Blurb

People tell me I should count my blessings. “You’re handsome, Marc,” they say, “handsome, rich, young, and intelligent.” But then, given time and opportunity, people would always say inanities, I think.

Am I handsome? Honestly, I don’t know, but it seems so; handsome enough, at any rate, that I’m allowed to live comfortably off my looks. I’m not rich, mind you, but the men and women paying for my company fling enough crumbs of their wealth my way. I’m still fairly young, too, but since when is youth anyone’s personal achievement? Last but not least, I’m not sure about my intelligence. I’m not even sure being intelligent would be a blessing.

Anyway, I can’t complain—my life is not unpleasant. I’m a bit bored, a bit melancholic, my mood often as black as the clothes I wear all the time.

And now my father has died. It shouldn’t mean anything to me—for years we tried to have as few ties or dealings with each other as possible. But all of a sudden, everything comes crumbling down, and my life turns into an unwholesome mess…



Excerpt


—107—

He is just that guy. In his sixties, balding, short and slender; some would even say gaunt. His skin is white and papery. Thin lips, thin features, a jaded attitude. His eyes are… wait a second… grey? Yes, grey, I think, the shade of light-coloured steel, and his gaze is cold but not too cold. He is no man of extremes; a nondescript guy in fact who looks like an accountant or a small-town solicitor.

Someone of little interest or concern for me, more present in the media than in my thoughts.

And yet, by one of those strange, sly whims that destiny seems to love, that guy is my father.

Or rather, that guy was my father. Because he is dead now.




—106—

My older sister is the one who spills the beans. It’s half past nine in the evening. I’m sitting on my white sofa, turning the pages of a fashion magazine, my gaze empty like the faces of the models who are striking poses on the glossy pages before me. Gentle boredom seeps in through the half-open windows, glides over the walls, oozes from every piece of furniture, glistens on the glass or metal surfaces, forming a motionless, invisible, indolent space-time that surrounds me like a halo.

I’ve switched the television on but turned the volume down to a subdued whisper. The soft sounds of a TV game blend with the persistent hum of the traffic downstairs. From time to time, I lift my eyes from the magazine to look at the game host’s white-toothed smile, which seems as genuine as a handbag purchased from a street vendor in Italy. I don’t really follow the show; it is just a means to drown the mortal silence of my apartment. My other choices would have been to listen to the unutterable sadness of a Mahler symphony, or bear the silent cries of my immaculate walls.

That’s when the phone rings.

I pick it up and recognise Raphaëlle, my older sister. Apart from sounding breathless, she is the same as usual. Her vocabulary remains precise, her weary and cold inflections suggesting that we are not on earth to have fun but for other purposes, none of which very pleasant. That’s her in a nutshell: unfazed, unaffected, wintry. Imagine an emotionless automaton. Well, I’m speaking of so-called positive emotions, of course. She knows how to be curt and authoritarian. She knows how to throw an angry fit if needs be.

“Hi Marc. It’s Raphaëlle,” she says. Then, without further ado, she tells me the news. She is staying with our mother, because the old man died.

“Did he? When? And how?” I enquire.

“Let me think… Two days ago. Or was it three? I don’t know. You want me to ask Mother?”

“No, don’t bother. I’m simply surprised it wasn’t announced on the news yet. Where is she now? Mother, I mean.”

“In the kitchen. Said she was feeling peckish.”

“Opening a new bottle, you mean. I should’ve known. Nice try, though…” I trail off, my brain blank for a second. What should I say now? Am I supposed to condole Raphaëlle? Would that be the appropriate next step?

I don’t want to make a mistake, so I ask, “Do I need to come over? I suppose there’ll be a funeral, right?”

“Of course.” My sister makes a strange noise, something between dry laughter and a sniff. “One doesn’t say funeral,however; one prefers to say obsequies, brother dearest. I even brought my pearls for the occasion. One needs to be glam, you know. But you don’t sound eager to join us.”

“Are you kidding me? To be filmed during Father’s—obsequies, is it?— why, nothing could enchant me more.”

My sister sighs. “Marc, spare me your sarcasm, okay? The funeral takes place the day after tomorrow. It goes without saying that you should assist. But if you prefer to stay away, no problem. Do what you want. You’re free, after all.” Her voice remains monotonous.

“All right. I’ll check the train schedule,” I reply. “And call you back sometime tomorrow. Is that okay?”

“Perfect.”

I notice how peculiar her voice sounds, hoarse and croaky. “What’s up with you?” I ask, incredulous. “Don’t tell me you’ve been weeping!”

“Don’t be ridiculous! It’s just that… it’s bloody freezing in this house. I guess I’ve caught a cold. That’s all.”



You can read another excerpt on the author’s website.



About the Author 

Born in the early 70s, I grew up in a little village in Austria. At the age of 18, I moved to Vienna to get my master’s degree in Political Sciences, French, and Spanish. Today, I’m living in Paris, France, with my boyfriend and work as a graphic designer. 

In my spare time, I write, read, cook fancy recipes, take photos, and as often as I can, I travel (Italy, Portugal, Morocco, Egypt, the UK, and many more places). My literary tastes are eclectic, ranging from fantasy, murder mysteries, gay romances to dystopian novels, but I won’t say no to poetry or a history book either. I’m more a hoodie/jeans/sneakers kind of guy than a suit-and-tie chap. 

So far, I’ve published two short-story collections as well as four poetry collections. My first murder mystery novel “The Stuffed Coffin” has been released on January 6, 2019 and is also available in German and French. The French version has won the prestigious French Gay Murder Mystery Award 2019 (Prix du roman policier – Prix du roman gay 2019). My second novel “Till Death Do Us Part” was released on June 24, 2020. You can also find me on Rainbow Book Reviews, where I write book reviews under the pseudonym of ParisDude (for French reviews, have a look at my review site livresgay.fr).  


 


Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook

 

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

Review: Dark Flame (Flame Born #1) by Kat Silver

"I know who you are because you belong to me. You were born to be mine." ~ Prince Alexei Vasiliev

Haunted by the death of his parents, Michael Blakeley wants answers. The twenty-six-year-old martial artist seeks their killer, but he also wants to know why electronics short out at his touch, and why his libido is a raging fire.

So when a group of soldiers calling themselves Guardians rescue him from a back alley ambush and claim to have the answers he needs, he agrees to go with them. Especially when they tell him the attackers were vampires. But nothing in this supernatural underworld is as it seems, and when the silver-eyed commander cages him instead, Michael's answers slip further away.

Can Michael find safety from the vampire prince who claims him? Can he escape the dark destiny he discovers is written into his blood? And will he break the chains of the commander who keeps him captive? The one man he has no desire to leave?

Dark Flame is the first pulse-pounding book in the Flame Born LGBT urban fantasy series. If you like enemies to lovers, shifters, sexy vampire princes, and scorching heat, you'll love this smoldering tale of bloodlust and magic. There is content some readers may find distressing. Meant for mature audiences.

Can I let you in on a little secret? The first line in the blurb is what sold me on reading Dark Flame.

"I know who you are because you belong to me. You were born to be mine." ~ Prince Alexei Vasiliev

That one sentence can be really magical if the character can back it up. And after reading, I am a fan of Prince Alexei....though he doesn't have much page time in the overall book, his presence was definitely there. I do enjoy a good villain. 

 

Debut novel Dark Flame is told in first person POV. Our protagonist is 26 y.o. orphan martial artist, Michael. He has no idea of his background other than being found as an infant with his slaughtered parents. He wants answers but doesn't know where to start. And strange things keep happening to him. He shorts out electronics and it's difficult to  hold a job. Plus, he sees a shadow that no one else can see. A late night hook up with a lady (there's only a brief M/F encounter) changes his entire world.

The reader and Michael are thrust into this new urban fantasy world with vampires, shifters, witches, fae and magic, oh my! And the most important of all, Flame (think of it as supernatural life source). There are battles and cool mystery as to what the hell Michael is and why his sexuality is not as defined as he thought it was. 

Gabriel Flanagan is the head of supernatural soldiers and takes charge of introducing Michael to his new world (in more ways than one). Michael also has a dark fae/vampire prince Alexei that wants him all to his self. Alexei introduces himself around the 20% and wields a lot of intensity that Michael can't resist, though he tries.  Alexei's words are very seductive and one ever knows what tricks he has up his sleeve because Alexei is not only seductive, he's cunning. Whenever he's on page, he uses his influence to his best ability. I want more of him in the rest of the series. *fingers crossed*

Michael has a lot of his plate. He's learning his new abilities, the magical world where creatures he thought were make believe actually exist and exactly what makes him special. He's trying to find out the truth about his heritage. And he's trying to figure out his attraction to two specific men. 

Is this a romance? Nope. It's urban fantasy with romantic elements. There is some eroticism, but it's more about the seduction and intense moments. No penetrative scenes, but what is written fits the characters and is hot. More sensual and sexy than balls deep, if you will.  I do enjoy a good slow burn and love triangle. And though I'm Team Alexei, and I want him to devour Michael and show him a thing or three. Trigger warning: attempted rape

This is Michael's story through and through. And at first, I was indifferent to him. As the story progressed, I grew to like him. The secondary characters for me stole the show, though he's a close second. The world building is solid. There is modern day UK where the story seems to be set and different realms. There is long histories just waiting to be delved into. There wasn't a lull moment, I found the novel to be evenly paced. 

I ended the story with questions that I'm sure will be answered in the overall arc of the story: 

  • What is Michael's background? 
  • What happened to his family? Was this foretold? 
  • What is the set up between Alexei, Gabriel and Michael? (I hope it ends with menage because I don't think I can choose)

The story ends at a hopeful for now spot and no defined relationship...yet. I see the author offered an erotic freebie, Two Nights and a Day, featuring Gabriel and Michael which I will be jumping right into. (You must read book #1 first)

This seems perfectly set up for a second (and third) book. I'm curious to see what else author Kat Silver has up their sleeve. Consider me a fan of the Flame Born series.

Recommended for fans of urban fantasy with secrets, action, dark characters and solid world building.

A copy provided for an honest review.


Blog Tour + Giveaway: graphic noiz 3 by Natsuya Uesugi

Author Natsuya Uesugi and Other Worlds Ink host today's blog tour for the latest in the graphic novel series, graphic noiz 3! Read more and enter in the $20 Amazon gift card giveaway!


graphic noiz 3

Natsuya Uesugi has a new queer/mm yaoi romance out: graphic noiz 3. And there's a giveaway!

Noiz (Wolf Tadashi Begay) is anxious as he gets involved in the New York City manga artist community who teases him calling him "Gaijin." The community says he is not "Japanese enough" to be a mangaka while New Yorker's say he doesn't "act Black enough."

Having grown up in Japan and on the Reservation after his parents died, his childhood trauma causes Noiz to doubt himself and his talents going on a journey of self-discovery as he navigates being an artist, coming out as gay, and being Hafu (half Japanese and half Native American). He finds he doesn't seem to fit in anywhere.

Turning to Shiro Ijima, the famous Japanese SF writer who initially insults him, the aloof writer uses his own sordid past as a mangaka who was abused by his narcissistic mentor to help Noiz accept that being different does mean inferior but unique.

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Amazon AUS


Giveaway

Natsuya is giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47171/?


Series Blurb:

Year old raving otaku and anime fanatic, Noiz a indie manga artist, fresh out of art school with a two year degree. Crator of his original SF manga, Disaster Code, he is eager to show off his first finsihed volume at New York Comic Convention.

Discouraged when no one stops by his table, he is intrigued when famous former manga artist, Shiro Ijima, author of the bestselling SF Fissure novels is showcasing his latest book at the con. When Noiz notices Shiro at his table and compliments his art, a chain of events that leds Shiro’s agent Keita to inquire if Noiz is available to work on Shiro’s new property.

Keita asks Noiz to illustrate Shiro’s new Fissure manga and the game of cat and mouse as Shiro leads Noiz on flirting with him in a seductive and manipulated game starts roping Noiz in hard. its all about the contract, but Shiro has other things in mind?


Author Bio

Natsuya Uesugi

An award-nominated writer and manga artist with a BA degree in English, a minor in Japanese, an art degree in animation, and an MBA in International Management, certificate in Social Engineering and multiple awards for articles on Net Neutrality, Privacy,, LGBT Youth Homelessness, Cybersecurity and Cyberbullying, Natsuya is writing his dream of showcasing fictional minority characters in positions of power.

Of Multi-cultural Mixed heritage,, he sees life through the lens of challenge, marginalization, personal power and systemic marginalization of QPoC minority voices that are often silenced and invisible in mainstream literature, film, and comics. Focused on bringing stories of empowerment, truth, triumph and hope against insurmountable odds, Natsuya uses fiction, fantasy, and yaoi to spread his positive message encouraging young people to live their truth and dare to be their genuine selves. His stories, lauded for bringing visibility featuring Queer People of Colour, showcase the power of a multicultural viewpoint and the power of daring to pen diverse, real world fiction fostering the complex aesthetic of #OwnVoices realness, beauty, and truth.

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

Author Facebook (Personal): https://m.facebook.com/natsuya.uesugi

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://m.facebook.com/graphicnoiz/

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

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

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4558587.Natsuya_Uesugi

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/tag/natsuya-uesugi/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Natsuya-Uesugi/e/B00J6EDQQ6

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Release Blitz + Giveaway: Straight to the Heart by S.J. Coles

Author S.J. Coles and Pride Publishing visit with the Straight to the Heart release blitz! Read more about the contemporary romance and enter in the giveaway to win a LOVELY GIFT PACKAGE AND GET YOUR FREE S.J. COLES ROMANCE BOOK!

Straight to the Heart
S.J. Coles

Word Count: 33,482
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 142
Genres: CONTEMPORARY, CRIME, CRIME AND MYSTERY, EROTIC ROMANCE, GAY, GLBTQI, MEN IN UNIFORM

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Book Description

What happens when the person you can’t get out of your head also happens to be the number one suspect in your murder investigation?

Derek Benson, CEO of Benson Industries, is found dead in his office at a time when everyone in the building, including him, should have been at an important meeting about the company’s future. Conveniently for the killer, the security footage from the time of the murder has vanished.

None of this fazes FBI Agent James Solomon. James knows himself, his job and how to set aside his ongoing personal problems to get the job done, even when the investigation is in a small-town backwater like Winton.

There’s just one problem—the intriguing form of young lab technician Leo Hannah, an employee of Benson Industries and a key witness, who appears to know more than he’s admitting to.

As the investigation progresses, James finds that his previously steadfast ability to separate personal from professional becomes increasingly unreliable. Can he get his head in the game before he compromises the investigation and his future career?

Reader advisory: Ths book contains a scene of public sex, graphic corpse description, and scenes involving violence, abduction and attempted murder.

Excerpt

James Solomon knew it was unprofessional—unethical, even—to be grateful for the murder of a high-profile businessman two days before what would have been his parents’ fortieth wedding anniversary. But his robust professional pride couldn’t put a dent in the very real relief he felt when the call had come through.

He climbed out of the rented car outside Benson Industries HQ and breathed in the brisk sea breeze. The early morning was still gloomy, casting everything in shadow. Gibson slammed the passenger door with a sigh as a woman in a sheriff’s uniform hurried over to meet them.

“Agents, thanks for coming so quickly.”

“No problem, Sheriff,” Gibson replied, her face schooled professionally blank. “The sooner we start, the better. Sheriff Coyle, right?”

“That’s right,” the middle-aged woman said, her smile doing nothing to warm the pale set of her face.

“Agent Lisa Gibson,” Gibson responded, shaking the other woman’s hand then indicating James. “Agent James Solomon. We’ve had the incident reports, but can you fill us in using your own words?”

“Sure. Follow me,” Sheriff Coyle said, her voice a bit steadier. She preceded them to the wide, glass entrance and swiped a card through a reader. They paced past the empty reception desk and down a marble-tiled corridor. The place was deserted, the black eyes of cameras the only things watching them. “The vic is Derek Benson, fifty-five years old,” the sheriff continued. “Born here in Winton, then got a job with the FDA in Maryland after college. Struck out on his own at age thirty. Now he’s the owner, CEO, director—you name it—of Benson Industries.”

“Specialist pharmaceuticals, right?” Gibson asked, scanning reports on her phone.

“That’s right. Pulling in some pretty serious business these days. Some big names on the client list. That’s why we called you guys in.”

“So what happened?”

“Benson was found by the janitor in his office this morning, shot three times in the chest.”

“Time of death?” Gibson asked.

“Our ME is putting it around nine p.m. last night, though he says he can be more accurate after the postmortem.”

“And you said the security camera footage is missing?” Gibson asked, eyeing another camera as they strode past.

“Yeah,” said the sheriff with a weary exasperation James could more than identify with. “The security system backs up everything onto disk. The disks from eight p.m. last night to three this morning have been taken.”

“No online backup?” James ventured, not hopefully, as they stepped onto an elevator.

Coyle shook her head. “I don’t think Benson trusted the cloud and all that. They’re dusting the Security Room for prints where the disks were kept now.”

“Did Benson often work that late?” Gibson asked as the elevator hummed up to the seventh floor.

“He put a lot of hours in, sure, but there was some kind of business presentation last night. All the heads of department and senior staff were here from seven-thirty onward. Plus, some of the lab rats were working late on a deadline.”

“Lab rats?” James queried, as Coyle led them out onto a level that was all glass walls and spacious offices with big desks and bold, minimalist furniture.

“The technicians,” she said, glancing this way and that, as if wary of what might be hiding in the maze of glass. “We have a list of everyone who was in the building at the time from the swipe system, though so far no one saw anyone leave the conference room or the labs.”

“How many people are we talking?” Gibson, warily.

Coyle pulled a battered notepad from a back pocket and flipped through it. “Thirty-one.”

“That’s a lot of people with opportunity,” Gibson muttered.

“One of them was his wife,” Coyle added. “Melissa Benson.”

“His wife was at the business meeting?”

Coyle nodded. “She’s a senior partner in the firm. She delivered one of the presentations.”

“At what time?”

“Pretty much the same time they reckon he was shot,” Coyle said and grimaced. “Sorry.”

“Well, we wouldn’t want it to be too easy. She looks younger than him,” Gibson said, examining a photo of Melissa Benson on the arm of her husband at some event on a news website.

“She’s his second wife. He and his first divorced about ten years ago.”

“Amicably?”

“I’m afraid so,” Coyle said with another sympathetic expression.

“What did you think of the victim?” James asked, watching the sheriff’s face.

“Me?” Her forehead creased. “I didn’t know him.”

“But you knew of him,” James pressed. “Big company. Small town. You had to have some impression of what he was like.”

Coyle slid him a sideways glance. “He did stuff for some local charities. Donated to a few nature conservation causes and the homeless actions—that kind of thing.”

“But?” James prompted, seeing her face had tightened.

Coyle looked uncomfortable. “He hired most of his staff from out-of-town. They don’t live here. They don’t contribute to the economy and they can get the locals’ backs up. Snobbish, some say. Elitist.”

“What would you say?”

“I’ve never had much contact,” Coyle hedged. “They’re law-abiding and keep to themselves.”

“What do you make of the wife, Melissa?”

“Reserved.”

“She’s not upset?”

“Oh, she’s upset,” Coyle said. “But she’s not the sort to go to pieces in front of the likes of me.”

“The report said the murder weapon was his own gun,” James said, carefully logging the sheriff’s last reply away for further consideration.

“Sure looks that way. He kept it in his desk.” Coyle stopped at one of the glass doors, where a uniformed officer, looking a little green, stood at attention. The body of Derek Benson was slumped in a large, designer office chair under the window. Blood splattered up the glass behind him, looking like red rain suspended in the gray sky. The crime-scene photographer was taking close-ups of the bullet wounds while his partner, who looked old enough to have been the scene technician at the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, was bent over the desk, sweeping for prints as delicately as if he were applying makeup.

“We don’t get much murder here,” Coyle murmured. “Winton’s a peaceful town. We get some drugs, some drunk and disorderlies, a bit of fraud. But stuff like this?” She shook her head.

“A big company shoe-horned into a small community,” James ventured, watching both the officers’ faces, “can cause friction.”

Coyle raised her eyebrows. “Big companies are fine. But BI’s too big—and only likely to get bigger.”

“Oh yes?” Gibson prompted, pulling on some gloves and pushing open the door.

“That’s what they’re saying that presentation was about,” Coyle said, hanging back near the door as Gibson bent over the body. “They’re striking a deal with an international distributer for their newest antiviral.”

“Do you know which distributer?” James asked, examining the photographs hanging on the interior wall. Black-and-white shots of the local harbor, mostly, plus a few of the hills west of the town.

Coyle frowned at her notepad, ruffling the pages. “It’s in here somewhere. I’m sure it went in the report.”

“It did,” Gibson replied, giving James a hard look. “Loadstone Inc.”

Coyle smiled a relieved smile, and Gibson went back to scrutinizing the crumpled form of Derek Benson. His chin was on his chest. A rope of blood-speckled saliva hung from a corner of his lined mouth. His skin was yellow-gray and his limbs stiff with the rigor of someone dead nearly twelve hours. His hands, hairless and manicured, rested in his lap. His eyebrows were heavy and dark. His thinning hair was iron gray, though still almost black at the nape. He wore an expensive suit and a dark, conservative tie. Blood soaked his shirtfront and pooled under the chair. The gun was on the floor by the desk. A desk drawer stood wide open.

“All three shots went right into his heart,” Gibson said, leaning close to the wounds. “The killer knew how to shoot.”

“There’s a lock on the drawer but not a complex one,” James said, examining the keypad on the drawer front.

“And there’s no signs of a struggle,” Gibson replied, surveying the rest of the meticulously tidy office.

James nodded. “Someone he knew. Someone he trusted too—or at least someone he wasn’t afraid of or he’d have been standing.”

“But that could be any one of the thirty-one people in the building last night,” Gibson said sourly. She stood with her hands on her hips, glaring at the corpse like it had done her personal harm. “The question is, did he get the gun out himself or did the killer?”

“Business expansion,” James said, tilting the computer monitor toward him. The screen saver was another artistic shot of Winton Harbor. James began entering the most popular password choices. “Not always a popular move.”

“And why was he here?” Gibson frowned. “With a big-deal presentation evening happening in the conference room and the future of his company in the balance?”

“And he’s sitting in his office four floors up,” James affirmed, smiling when ‘qwerty123’ allowed him into the computer. “Writing an email to personnel, by the look of it.” He gestured at the screen. Gibson came to his elbow and bent to examine the open, unsent email with ‘Contract Termination’ typed into the subject line and a blinking cursor in the blank form.

Gibson was quiet a moment. James moved to a set of bookshelves against the far wall and scanned the titles. Tomes on business management, chemistry, biology, academic journals on pharmaceuticals and FDA manuals took up most of the upper shelves. The lower ones held several battered volumes on the history of Winton and the surrounding area, plus some on blues, jazz and soul music, with a Frank Sinatra biography thrown in for good measure.

“I think we have all we need,” Gibson said to Coyle, who was watching them with an expectant air. “The ME can take him away now.” Coyle nodded and stepped back out into the corridor, dialing a number on her cell. “And how about you stop making digs at the local law enforcement, Agent?” Gibson scolded softly.

“If they slip up this early on, it’ll end in roadblocks,” he returned, watching Coyle through the glass. “And we need to establish local feeling about the situation.”

“Consider it established. Are you getting anything on this guy?”

“He loved his town…and music,” James mused, glancing around the office again. “But I think he loved his company more.”

“His company grossed several million last year. I can see why he had a soft spot for it.” Coyle was just hanging up the phone as they rejoined her. “Okay, Sheriff. We need you to round up the employees from last night. We’ll question them here.”

“Yes, ma’am,” she said. “Most of them will be turning up to work at eight anyway.”

“Good,” said Gibson, looking at her watch and repressing a sigh. “Tell them they can only have the building back when we’re done. That’ll get them through the door.”

Coyle nodded and hurried off.

“We’re doing the interviews here?” James questioned.

“One,” Gibson said, holding up a finger and moving back toward the elevator, “interviewing near the crime scene could get the killer twitchy and we might get a hit early, meaning I can be back in time for my husband’s promotion dinner tomorrow. And two,” she said, stabbing the elevator button with more force than was necessary, “getting everyone across town to the Winton Police Station with its single interview room and stone-age Wi-Fi will add hours to the whole damn circus. I’m not paid enough to be here any longer than necessary on what should have been my vacation week.”

James set up his interview station in the room he was directed to, put the digital recorder on the desk, pulled out a new, leather-bound notepad and re-read the initial reports on his phone as the clock ticked toward eight a.m.

He frowned when his personal phone buzzed in his pocket. He pulled it out, saw the number and cut the call. Shortly after, a police officer ushered in a tall woman in a business suit. She was already flustered and annoyed. James could already see a queue of similarly well-dressed and irritated people lining up outside. He flipped open his notebook, indicated the chair opposite and began.

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About the Author

S. J. Coles

S. J. Coles is a Romance writer originally from Shropshire, UK. She has been writing stories for as long as she has been able to read them. Her biggest passion is exploring narratives through character relationships.

She finds writing LGBT/paranormal romance provides many unique and fulfilling opportunities to explore many (often neglected or under-represented) aspects of human experience, expectation, emotion and sexuality.

Among her biggest influences are LGBT Romance authors K J Charles and Josh Lanyon and Vampire Chronicles author Anne Rice.

Find S. J. Coles at her website and follow her on Instagram.

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Afloat (Staying Afloat #3) by Isabelle Adler

It's the final day of the Afloat (Staying Afloat #3) blog tour! Author Isabelle Adler and IndiGo Marketing host an exclusive excerpt, as well as more info about the series finale! Read more and enter in the $10 NineStar Press gift code giveaway!

Title: Afloat

Series: Staying Afloat, Book Three

Author: Isabelle Adler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/15/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 70900

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, sci-fi, spaceships/pilots, action-adventure, space battles, abduction, aliens, alien ships, bisexual, demisexual, military

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Description

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.

Afloat is the third book in Isabelle Adler’s exciting debut series, Staying Afloat, and concludes the series. For best enjoyment, advise reading the books in order.

Excerpt

Afloat
Isabelle Adler © 2021
All Rights Reserved

“Can’t wait to get the hell out of here,” Matt muttered to himself.

A Federation space map slowly revolved on the large canopy screen, illuminating the darkened bridge with the light of distant stars. A red dot flashed sedately at the very edge of the map, marking their current location. The Elysium system was as remote as an inhabited corner of the galaxy could possibly be.

Unfortunately, as it turned out, “remote” didn’t always mean “out of harm’s way.”

Matt set the empty coffee mug on the edge of the console and leaned back, linking his hands behind his head as he considered the vastness of the galaxy, sprawled before him in all its unassuming majesty. At first glance, it appeared to hold endless possibilities, but as it turned out, they were unfortunately limited by constraints that had nothing to do with Matt’s dreams and preferences. Even the parts of the galaxy ostensibly under Federation control weren’t always safe for humans, and out of those, quite a large number of places weren’t safe for him personally.

“Permission to come on the bridge,” a voice chimed over the speaker. Matt smiled and spun around in his chair to greet Ryce as he walked in.

“So formal. Are you going to salute me next and call me ‘Captain’?”

Ryce grinned back at him and leaned down for a quick kiss before sitting beside him in the copilot seat.

“Now who’s being kinky? I thought adherence to a chain of command wasn’t your thing.”

“It’s not. But it’d still be nice to get some respect around here.”

“Knowing your crew, there’s not much chance of that,” Ryce remarked and cocked his head as he studied the map. “Have you been here all morning?”

“Pretty much. And where were you? I didn’t see you at breakfast.”

“I was playing chess with Val in the rec room.”

“Really? Two geniuses playing chess? Could you be any more cliché?”

“Neither of us is technically a genius,” Ryce observed, his eyes still glued to the screen.

“Close enough from where I stand.”

“Val and I have also tested the new power converter for the engine, and, as far as he’s concerned, it’s all systems go.” The digitalized starlight reflected in Ryce’s eyes as he pulled up the specs at the bottom of the screen, making Matt’s attention momentarily slip. “We can be out of this system the second you decide where we’re going. Have you?”

Matt sighed and ran a hand through his hair. His auburn locks had grown a bit too long for his taste, but with everything that’d been going on lately—namely, his engineer having been kidnapped and his pilot having been roped into participating in deadly drag races—he hadn’t had a chance to cut them.

“Not really. Since we’ve changed registration twice in one year already, there are only so many sectors where we could apply for a working permit, and a lot of the others are now a warzone. This whole war business is a real nuisance when you’re on the run.”

“Do you think Griggs is still after us?” Ryce asked. “It has been rather quiet lately.”

“I don’t know, but I’m not planning on hanging around much longer to find out.”

Griggs, the black-market king of the Freeport 73 station, was the man behind their crew’s recent misadventures, and though they’d managed to strike an uneasy truce, Matt wasn’t naive enough to believe the crime lord would swallow the bitter pill of blackmail without some kind of payback. Having to—literally—piece his engineer back together was more than enough incentive for Matt to look for opportunities elsewhere.

“Tony says we’re due a vacation, and for once, I tend to agree with her. We’ve all been through some tough shit in the past few months, and we all deserve a break while we have the cash to afford it. But before we go booking that luxury resort stay on Nova, I’d like to have all my bases covered.”

Matt shook his head and looked at Ryce.

“What about you? Is there anywhere you’d like to go, even if it’s just for a little while?” he asked gently, reaching out to stroke the other man’s hand. “Have you considered getting in touch with your mother?”

“I don’t think it’s time for that yet,” Ryce said, looking away. “I’m grateful for the money she sent me, of course, but it still doesn’t mean she wants to see me.”

There was something evasive about the way he said it, as if he wasn’t completely sure or completely truthful in his answer.

“Okay,” Matt said slowly.

It really wasn’t his place to pry or push Ryce into being more open about this particular subject; God knew, Matt was prickly about discussing his own family with other people. But he couldn’t help but feel a pang of disappointment. It was silly, really, but there he was, unable to hold back a frown because it implied Ryce didn’t trust him enough to share something a little more personal.

But his disappointment was his hang-up, not Ryce’s. So instead of quietly sulking, Matt squeezed Ryce’s hand in reassurance. The feel of Ryce’s skin against his was still wondrous to him, despite them spending barely any time apart, his own private miracle. Not only because he still couldn’t quite believe a man like Ryce could love someone as flawed as him, but because after everything they’d been through, they were incredibly fortunate to be alive to enjoy their happy ever after. This was what he should be focusing on, not some imaginary slights he was learning to recognize as self-sabotage.

Ryce smiled and covered Matt’s hand with his own, his cool touch sending sparks of excitement down Matt’s spine. “What are you thinking? You have that funny look on your face.”

“Must be the aftermath of last night’s dinner.”

Ryce scoffed. “You didn’t have to be quite so unequivocal about how bad you thought it was,” he chided, but there was a spark of laughter in his eyes.

“I’m actually glad you suck at cooking. Just goes to show nobody can be perfect at everything. And if you’re not perfect, there’s hope for the rest of us mortals.”

“Remind me to gloat with the same level of delight when I discover something you suck at.”

“So pretty much anything?”

“I can think of a few things you’re good at,” Ryce murmured, sliding from his seat and onto Matt’s lap in a fluid motion.

Matt’s heart sped up. He pulled Ryce closer, greedily drinking the kiss as he closed his eyes and lost himself to the whirlwind of stars around him.

He slid his hand over the front zipper of Ryce’s fatigues, but then Ryce withdrew abruptly, frowning, and touched the adapter on his temple, the one linked to Lady Lisa’s computer.

“There’s an incoming call,” he said.

“They’ll call later,” Matt said impatiently. Whoever it was, they could damn well wait another ten minutes. “We’re kind of in the middle of something here.”

“It’s a military channel.” Ryce’s frown deepened, and he stood up to sit back in the copilot seat.

“Damn it.” Matt sat up in his chair, pushing down on his arousal and frustration. His disdain for authority didn’t extend as far as ignoring contacts from the military. This could be Nora, of course, but his sister rarely used encrypted communications simply to check up on him. “Bring it on-screen.”

The face that appeared in front of them wasn’t Nora’s, but it was familiar. The bright white background didn’t look like the bridge of a ship. Something beeped steadily just out of sight, jolting unpleasant memories of Matt’s several stays in medical facilities.

“Commander Walker,” Matt said, trying to keep the worry out of his voice. “Not to sound rude or anything, but why are you calling?”

Matt had been questioned ad nauseam by the man almost eight months ago, after their unfortunate stint on the Colanta-3 moon and the discovery (and subsequent destruction) of a Mnirian superweapon. He hadn’t liked Walker then, and he wasn’t thrilled to see him now, but he couldn’t deny he owed the commander his life after being saved from a slow, oxygen-deprived death in the depths of the alien bunker.

“I’m contacting you on behalf of Major Cummings.” Walker sounded unusually subdued. The stress lines around his eyes and mouth seemed deeper, marring his otherwise classically handsome features. “I thought you should know your sister was gravely injured in the line of duty.”

Ryce’s sharp intake of breath indicated that Walker had said something terrible, but for some reason, the moments stretched and stretched until the meaning of the words finally registered in Matt’s brain, hitting him with the force of a freight barge.

“How gravely?” he asked, digging his fingers into the arms of his chair.

Walker pursed his lips. “Enough for me to contact you on my own initiative,” he said, his voice clipped.

“What happened?” Ryce asked while Matt was busy remembering how to breathe.

“We were deployed back in the Sonora sector, and our ship, the Lennox, was on her way from Freeport 16 to the Sonora-11 outpost when we were attacked.”

Even though they weren’t touching, Matt felt Ryce tense beside him.

“Attacked? By whom?”

“An Alraki frigate,” Walker said after a pause. “A torpedo took out a portion of the bridge. Major Cummings was lucky to be able to get out before the shields gave and the section was sealed off.”

Matt and Ryce exchanged a look. Judging by Ryce’s startled expression, the same thought must have occurred to him, one that made Matt’s stomach, already tied in knots by the news, lurch with awful premonition.

“I haven’t heard anything about the fighting reaching as far as Sonora,” Ryce said, frowning. “The military bases in this sector are designated mainly for training and redeployment.”

“It hasn’t,” Walker said. “This was…an isolated incident.”

“An Alraki frigate attacking a destroyer battleship in the heart of Federation space?” Matt said, barely recognizing his own voice for the strain. “That’s—”

“Disturbing. I know,” Walker said. For the first time since Matt had met the man, he looked troubled, but a second later, he visibly pulled himself together, as stern as ever in his officer uniform. “By rights, I shouldn’t even be telling you this. But I know how much your sister cares for you, and I thought you should be here by her side. Before it’s too late.”

Exclusive Excerpt – Afloat (Staying Afloat #3) by Isabelle Adler

Matt adjusted his face mask and looked around the dim cavern of the hold from where he was crouching next to Lady Lisa’s hull. The space around them seemed empty, the Alraki probably still busy fending off the Falcon fighters, but it didn’t mean they could dawdle. As loath as Matt was to leave his ship, eventually he’d have to make that first step into the belly of the beast and hope to God he wouldn’t be swallowed.

“Ready?” Ryce whispered beside him, and Matt nodded. Ryce’s face was half-obscured by the mask needed to adjust to the different oxygen and nitrogen levels inside the Alraki craft, but otherwise, they didn’t bother with any cumbersome protective gear, especially as the artificial gravitational pull was slightly higher than the regular 1 g. The environment wasn’t toxic, per se, just deeply…well, alien.

They ran across the floor, their feet bouncing softly on what felt like rubbery coating. Out in the open, the vibrations were much more pronounced but not strong enough to throw them off balance.

“Do you know where to go?” Matt whispered when they neared the tall arched doorway.

“Yes. I memorized the ship’s map from Walker’s briefing.” Ryce scanned the corridor in both directions, a blaster gun set on maximum impact at the ready.

“Of course you did. Watch out!”

They ducked, hiding behind opposite sides of the opening as several Alraki trotted down the corridor, their bio-mech armor creaking softly. Another party followed in their footsteps after less than a minute.

“They’re gonna spot us,” Matt said. “There’s no way we can evade them if they find us in the hallway, not without that fancy stealth armor.”

“You’re right. They’re on high alert now that Walker’s team has been compromised.” Ryce peered into the corridor again. Thin veins of reddish light ran through the curved walls, illuminating it. He gestured upward with his gun. “We’ll use the air ducts.”

Matt looked in the direction Ryce was pointing, at an opening in the ceiling covered with a ridged grate that made him think of gills. He shuddered involuntarily.

“Do you think the ducts are big enough for us?”

“Only one way to find out.” Ryce holstered his gun and stepped into the corridor, motioning for Matt to follow him. “Come on, I’ll give you a boost.”

Matt sighed. He didn’t think it was possible to like this mission any less, but every new development seemed to prove him wrong.

Ryce knelt on the floor and laced his fingers to make a support for Matt to step on. He pushed upward as Matt hoisted himself up, shoving hard at the grate. It had the same rubbery texture as the floor and the walls as if it were a part of a giant animal rather than an intelligently designed piece of machinery, which made him squeamish about touching it. With a bit of extra pressure, the grate gave, and Matt pushed it inward, grabbed the edge of the opening, and scrambled to slither inside as Ryce lifted his feet, giving him more leverage.

“Quick, someone’s coming,” Ryce warned.

Matt cursed and wiggled forward. The ventilation tunnel was just wide enough for a grown man to crawl inside, but it was hardly a comfortable fit, and its round shape was vaguely reminiscent of a corroded pipe or a blood vessel. Behind him, Ryce jumped, catching onto the edge of the hole as Matt had done before him, and heaved himself inside just as the footsteps of more Alraki soldiers echoed in the corridor below them.

They both held their breath, lying still as the aliens passed underneath them. Thankfully, none of them glanced up to notice the open grate.

“Now what?” Matt whispered after the Alraki retreated to a safe distance.

“Onward and upward,” Ryce said, deadpan.

Matt snorted, adjusted his mask again against the stronger flow of cold air blowing in his face, and pushed forward, putting his elbows to work.

They passed several more grates, spaced at what seemed like irregular intervals but which must have made sense for the Alraki. The advantage of the ducts not being made of metal was that the sound of their passage was much more muted and less likely to attract attention. Even so, they crawled in relative silence, with Ryce giving directions when the duct split. It was just as well because Matt didn’t have the slightest idea as to their location or which way they were headed, so he was more than happy to let Ryce take the lead, going on his recollection of the frigate’s layout. The ducts curved along with the corridors and the open spaces rather than running in straight lines, which made their progress more difficult, slowing them down.

Every minute they spent fumbling inside the alien ship’s guts was a minute Walker and his troops were fighting for their lives, and Tony and Val were sitting ducks aboard the captured Lisa. Matt didn’t dare switch on the communications channel so as to not be distracted by the noise. They had to pay close attention to what was going on directly below them, and the anxiety of not knowing what was happening in that sensor array room or the holding bay wore on his nerves.

“Wait,” Matt said, stopping. Ryce halted behind him. The tunnel ended abruptly, meeting with a vertical shaft. “Damn it.”

He peered up and down, both ends of the shaft lost in reddish gloom. The air rushed past him from below, making him squint.

“We go down,” Ryce said.

“That’s what worries me.”

Note on the series:

For best enjoyment, the books in the Staying Afloat series should be read in order:
Adrift (Staying Afloat #1)
Ashore (Staying Afloat #2)
Afloat (Staying Afloat #3)

Purchase

NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

A voracious reader from the age of five, Isabelle Adler has always dreamed of one day putting her own stories into writing. She loves traveling, art, and science, and finds inspiration in all of these. Her favorite genres include sci-fi, fantasy, and historical adventure. She also firmly believes in the unlimited powers of imagination and caffeine.

Website | Twitter | eMail

Get the first two books in the series on Amazon


 Tour Schedule

2/22 Queer Sci Fi

2/23 Joyfully Jay

2/24 Love Bytes

2/25 Bayou Book Junkie

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Blog Tour + Giveaway: Time Cures (Time Adventures #4) by Tag Gregory & Lily Marie

 
Authors Tag Gregory and Lily Marie, along with IndiGo Marketing, make a tour stop for time travel romance, Time Cures (Time Adventures #4)! Not only are they hosting a Time Blitz eBook giveaway, author Tag Gregory chats about having strange browser history as a result of being a writer. Check it out!

Title: Time Cures

Series: Time Adventures Series, #4

Author: Tag Gregory & Lily Marie

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: 2/14/21

Heat Level: 4 - Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 238

Genre: Romance, Time Travel, Adventure, LGBTQ

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Synopsis

Cocky American Ad Exec, Bradley Connors, and his courageous ex-RAF fighter pilot husband, Janes Garrett, are back in London and once again separated through the power of time. With James stranded  in 1956 during a polio outbreak, a world of homophobia threatens to keep him from the man he loves. How will he talk himself out of the trouble he’s unwittingly creating? Who from his past can he rely on to help him get home to Bradley? Will they be able to save their friends from the deadly pandemic or will they too perish in the attempt? And can they do all this while reaffirming that nothing can tear their love apart, not even time itself? Time Cures is a love story like no other. It’s a romance through time.

Excerpt

“Considering the length of time he was unconscious, I feel it imperative that he remain in hospital for at least the next twenty-four hours for observation. Provided no other symptoms manifest, he can be released to his family at that time,” Dr. Donaldson advised.

James was relieved that the diagnosis wasn’t worse. He knew Bradley was still going to be angry at him for getting hurt. Again. At least he would be angry - once Bradley got over being relieved - when James finally got around to calling him.

“Pardon me, Doctor,” the nurse interrupted before the doctor could make his grand exit. “But, before ya came in, the patient was showing signs of confusion and talkin’ all sorts a nonsense. I’m thinking he mighta banged his ‘ead a bit harder than he’s lettin’ on.”

“Confusion?” That got the good doctor’s attention.

“Yes, Doctor. He was spoutin’ some nonsense ‘bout needin’ to ring his husband, an’ seemed to think he had a telephone in that kit bag of ‘is.” The nurse pointed to James’ messenger bag while giving the doctor a knowing look.

“Is that so . . .” The doctor turned back to his patient, one bushy eyebrow raised inquisitively, much more interested in the young blond man now than he had been initially. “Do you remember your name, son?”

“Yes, of course. It’s James Garrett.”

The doctor nodded and asked another question. “Do you remember the accident that gave you that bump on the head?”

James thought about it, but just came up blank. He started to shake his head to indicate ‘no’, only the gesture made the dizziness and nausea worse. He groaned and dropped his head into his hands. “No,” he moaned.

“Well, that’s not a good sign,” Doctor Obvious surmised, his eyebrows knitting together so closely that they now looked like one long, hairy caterpillar creeping across his forehead. “Now, what’s all this chit chat about a telephone and a husband?”

“I just want to call him and let him know where I’m at,” James offered, feeling and sounding pathetic even to his own ears.

“You say you have a . . . Husband ?” The doctor very clearly emphasized the word ‘husband’ in a disbelieving tone of voice.

“Yes! I want to call MY HUSBAND, okay?” James was losing patience with the proceedings and his voice had risen commensurately with his annoyance level. “His name is Bradley Connors. We’re here visiting from the United States; Bradley has business with a big client here. We’re staying at The Strand Palace. He’s probably waiting for me there and, most likely, has already called the police to help find me. If you’d just let me get my cell phone out of my bag I can call him and he’ll come down here and take me to a different hospital where they’ll stop asking me idiotic questions . . .”

The doctor interrupted him before he could continue his rant. “Do you know where you are right now?”

“You mean the hospital? The nurse said it was St. Bart’s. Or do you mean London?”

“Righteo. And what’s the date?”

“Um . . .” James had to think a little about that, his memory going a little fuzzy on him. “I think it’s still Monday, right? August . . . August 14th?”

“Close. You got the date correct but it’s Tuesday. What about the year?”

“2017 . . . ?” James answered, starting to get a funny feeling about where all these questions were leading.

“Hmmmm,” was Donaldson’s only reply. Then he turned to the nurse with more directions. “Clearly, this is a much more serious case than I previously suspected. We could be looking at Traumatic Encephalopathy or, perhaps, some type of advanced psychosis. I’m going to call in Dr. Abbott for a psychiatric evaluation. Change the charge order to note a seventy-two hour hold.” Returning his attention to the patient he added, “never fear, young man. We’re going to take good care of you. Hopefully, by the time we’re done here, you’ll be in tiptop shape once more, back in full possession of all your mental faculties.”

With that proclamation, Dr. Donaldson spun about and started for the door.

“Wait,” James shouted after the departing man before he could exit. “What year is it, really?”

“1956, of course!”

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Author Visit

Strange Browser History
By: Tag Gregory


What’s the difference between a serial killer and an author?

Well, if you’re judging them by the search history that comes up on their computers, not much.

In the decade or so that I’ve been writing, I’ve pretty much researched everything. That’s not much of an exaggeration, either. You name it and I’ve either researched it or I’ve asked someone else about it. Because that’s what a meticulous writer, who’s lived a relatively sheltered life, does. We research the crap out of stuff so we can write about it more convincingly. And it doesn’t matter if that ‘stuff’ is about how to knit a sweater or how to kill someone without getting caught. It’s really all the same thing to us authors.

This, of course, reminds me of the give and take in the writing community between ‘own voices’ vs. imagination. Don’t get me wrong; I’m a 100% supporter of ‘own voices’. Traditionally marginalized groups SHOULD get more representation in the literary world. I would never argue against that proposition or begrudge a person from an underrepresented group writing about her or his own experiences and getting their work recognized.

But, in my personal opinion, there’s still a place in the writing community for imagination too. Nobody should be arguing that an author can’t effectively write about something outside their lived experience. Because, as long as I can imagine it, I can write about it. That’s the best part of writing, to be honest; the celebration of imagination. It’s all about getting to the essence of the creativity of the author. With the magic of research, I can be anyone or anything I want to be. It’s all about translating that spark of imagination into a reality you form with your words and your intellect and your curiosity through the medium of your research. And that’s what makes it fun.

I mean, Stephen King isn’t a psychopathic killer - or at least I don’t think he is - but he writes a damn convincing murderer. And I don’t think J.K. Rowling is really a wizard either. So you shouldn’t be giving me a hard time about writing scenes set in a gay bath house in the 1940s. I may not have lived in that time or seen those sights with my own eyes, but I’m one hell of a great researcher, and I can and do write about anything and everything I can discover through my research.

With a library card and an internet connection I can write anything.

You don’t believe me? Well, here’s just a short list of some of the crazy things I’ve had to research over the years...

I mentioned before that I’ve researched how to kill people. I’ve done that for more than one story, so the methods I’ve read up about span the gamut from the damage a bullet does to the human body, to blunt force trauma, to poison, to how fast anaphylactic shock sets in if you’re dosed with something you’re allergic to. Because of this morbid bent, a lot of my characters end up in the hospital - repeatedly - so I’m always looking at medical websites to figure out how to treat them, whether they’ll die from whatever injury or illness I’ve given them, and how fast they’ll take to recover. Along the way I’ve had to know about the history of vaccines, when the first x-ray was taken, how an iron lung works, and what first aid kits looked like in the 1940s. I spent one whole evening researching infectious disease control measures and the history of virology. I know the entire history of how CPR was developed. I know all the symptoms and treatments for both OCD and PTSD. I’ve written a lot of stories centered around abuse, so I’m pretty much an expert these days on everything including physical, mental and narcissistic abuse. I don’t know why I love torturing my characters so much, but I really should learn to write at least one story that doesn’t involve a hospital.

I’m a total perfectionist, so I’m constantly looking at maps of the settings for my stories. I love maps. I especially love interactive maps. When we were writing Time Blitz I spent days playing around on this amazing interactive map that shows where every single bomb was landed in London during WWII. And I don’t even want to calculate how many hours I’ve spent on Google Street View looking at places I can’t go myself. I’ve calculated the exact distances between buildings and city blocks and cities and continents. I’ve even drawn my own maps of places that didn’t quite exist in reality. I’m not above using real life places while also augmenting them with additions I make up to fit my plots. So, while I often work off real photos - thus making sure I describe something as meticulously as possible - I’m not above embellishing where needed. I’m so hung up on place settings and maps and locations, though, that I’ve flown all the way across the country to take pictures of buildings I plan to use in my stories and walk the streets of a city just to make sure I soak up the correct ambience.

My research isn’t limited to physicalities. I research pretty much anything that comes across my computer as I write. I’m such a nerd. I once spent an hour researching the history of M&Ms. I’ve researched architectural styles. I’ve researched the history of various schools of art. I’ve researched art school and the typical curriculum particular schools offer. I’ve looked up the names of the US Senators from Pennsylvania back to the 1950s. I’ve had to search for the names of various styles of dress and styles of eyeglass frames and who makes designer wristwatches and where you buy vintage suits and how long Burberry has been in business. I know when the first showers were put into hotels and when en suite bathrooms became popular. I once had to look up when photo booths were invented. I’m an expert in how tall a stack of $5,000 worth of $100 bills would be. I know the RAF’s motto - Through Adversity To The Stars. I know the most popular Sikh boys names in 2017. I looked up the release date of Fantasia and what the top grossing films of 1941 were and the name of the best selling novel in 1956. I even watched about a million hours of videos of swing dancing so I could write about it. And, yes, all these things are tediously esoteric, but I get off on this kind of stuff, so sue me.

Perfectionist that I am, I even research all the sexier parts of the stories I write. Because I wouldn’t want to write a sex scene that involves multiple partners and have it come off as unrealistic. So, yeah, I watch my share of porn - but only for educational purposes. *Wink* I’ve read ‘The Joy of Gay Sex’, The Kama Sutra and articles on tantric massage. I’ve also researched the history of condoms and, specifically, what types and brands of condoms were available in WWII. I’ve researched all sorts of STDs. I spent almost a week reading a detailed history of the AIDS epidemic. I’ve read books about what it was like being gay in various eras and how homosexuals were treated throughout history. I’ve spent many facinated hours researching the history of sex toys, and learned so much, you wouldn’t believe it. And, just to make sure that I’m accurately describing what I’m writing, I’ve drawn diagrams (using stick figures, because I’m not that artistic) to work out kinky sex scenes and watched YouTube videos of judo throws to see just how a man’s body would work and how his muscles would flex in specific scenes. I know, it’s tough work, but somebody HAS to research these things. I wouldn’t want to get any of it wrong.

The Time Adventures Series - because they are time travel stories - have been especially interesting for a born researcher like myself. I’m in seventh heaven here, folks. I literally can’t get enough of researching and writing these books.

For the latest book, Time Cures, I had a lot of fun learning more about 1950s London and the post-WWII changes that happened to the City. But that wasn’t enough, because our heroes do a little travelling in this book. So I had to research the history of jet airplanes, commercial airlines, and the exact specifications, air speed, fuel capacities, and maximum ceiling of prop-engine planes from the 1950s. That led down a rabbit hole where I ended up reading all about Howard Huges for several hours. To get a more personal take, I interviewed my step-dad - who had a pilots’ license back in the 1960s and 1970s before he lost it for flying under a bridge in a crop duster plane (he promises he wasn’t as drunk as they claimed) - about the quirks of flying older planes. He gave me some great ideas about how to crash an airplane. Then I spent most of one whole night sitting down and actually writing out a flight plan for how to cross the Atlantic ocean in a prop-engine plane; which I later scrapped as soon as it became clear the idea was completely infeasible. This endeavor was complicated by trying to figure out which airfields existed in 1956, which was made more difficult, in part, because the names of the various airports in use since then have all changed. Spoiler: I had a LOT of fun working on this plotline and I think it shows when you read the story.

Thankfully, my co-author, Lily, is Brit herself, so I had some help with the more British parts of the research. Lily is the one who helped me write effectively about pre-decimalized English pounds, shillings, and pence. Lily is the one who recommended we make reference to The Great Ormond Street Hospital. She’s also the one who researched and supervised my attempts to write Irish and Scottish and Welsh accents. Lily also knows about London and corrects anything I get wrong about the locations there. When needed - at least in the pre-COVID days - I could always send her on field trips around the City. These books couldn’t have been written without Lily’s expertise.

Oh, and don’t even get me started on my ridiculously extensive research - including reading I don’t even remember how many scientific articles found on Google Scholar - about how magnets can be used to extend batteries and enhance electrical fields. Armed with that knowledge, I spent Christmas Eve in a long and deliciously technical conversation with the husband of a friend, who happens to be a Physics Professor, over homebrewed cider, discussing whether or not time travel was theoretically possible. (He assures me it isn’t no matter how many times I tried to point out papers I’d read by physicists theorizing about how strong magnetic fields actually alter Einstein’s famous E=mc2 formula . . .) We’ll see about that; because remember how I was going on about imagination? Pretty sure H.G. Wells never really invented a time machine. Or did he?

Which brings me back around to my strange browser history again. I’ve never actually had the need, but I now know how to forge a passport. I looked up the best ways to get or create a fake ID. I’ve thoroughly researched how to pick a lock. I know where to steal explosives. I know how to fake my own death and even how to frame someone else for the crime. I’ve lost track of exactly how many men I’ve killed over the years without ever getting caught.

So, I’m just saying . . . If you’re with the FBI and you’re reading this post, please don’t arrest me for that last search I did on how to build a bomb. I swear it’s only for a story. Really. I promise.

Meet the Authors

TAG has been writing for almost a decade, starting out with a hesitant toe in the realm of fanfiction before venturing into the scarier world of self-publishing original works. With an eclectic background as a lawyer, microbiologist, all-around nerd, and adventurer, TAG brings that off-kilter sense of humor, unbounded curiosity, a love of details, and astonishing powers of research to all their writing. If you are looking for a griping story, with compelling characters that deal with real world issues, then you're in the right place.

Lily has been writing close to for twenty years, but has only ever (until recently) dipped her toes into writing fan-fiction. Lily is a born and bred Londoner and loves nothing more than getting lost in a book - whether it be writing one of her own, or reading something from one of her favorite authors. In her spare time, Lily likes to think of herself as somewhat of a disability rights activist, helping to create change for those that may not have a voice to speak up or, like Lily herself, those that may have been too quiet to stand up for themselves.

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