Tag Archives: #releaseblitz

New release

We aim to bring you the best LGBT+ romance book deals, the hottest new releases and some awesome giveaways. Happy reading!

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Today we have Tricia Owens on the blog to tell us a little more about their new release!

Book Title:  Damaged

Author: Tricia Owens

Publisher:  Self-Published

Cover Artist: Tricia Owens

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M romance, BDSM

Heat Rating: 5 flames (Graphic scenes of rough sex, BDSM)

Length: 44 000 words

This is a standalone story

Release Date: February 12, 2019

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Blurb

After Detective Jack Beckam’s partner is killed during the line of duty, Jack retreats to a small Indian casino in the Colorado mountains to deal with his guilt. There, he encounters the mysteriously hostile casino manager, Taylor Brant.

Jack is on a downward spiral. Unfortunately for him, the strange forest surrounding the casino only increases his desire to do something reckless. Something desperate. Taylor Brant is not only dangerous, he’s damaged. He’s someone Jack should steer clear of. Yet Jack, hurting and needing to pay penance, tumbles into a series of dark, highly charged encounters with Brant which threaten to shatter them both.

 

Excerpt

Amusement briefly lit Brant’s gray gaze. “You’re an interesting man, Jack. Under other circumstances I’d enjoy feeling you out.”

“I thought you hate cops. Sounds to me like you’re flirting with one.”

He was immediately embarrassed for having said it. Taylor Brant was one of the most attractive men he’d ever seen, much less had dinner with—but Jack recognized the nugget of fear rolling around in his own gut. He was in foreign territory, literally and figuratively. All his experience as a detective, all his street smarts, meant next to nothing when it came to his occasional and unwanted attraction to specific men. It was like a flare-up of a rash—unpredictable, unwelcome, and woefully incurable.

“I’d be reckless, wouldn’t I,” Brant said, “to flirt with a detective?” Brant’s gaze grew intent. “I’m not reckless.”

“Sounds to me like you’re a masochist.”

“Would it take one to know one?”

The restaurant was emptying out. Jack wished it were busier. Louder. He wished that the waiter was intrusive. He could feel himself sweating and felt ridiculous; he was only sitting there eating dinner.

Brant didn’t appear to be all that relaxed, either. The casino manager was tense. Nervous. Jack was too experienced in studying people to miss the signs. Was Brant regretting his boldness? Maybe they were both stumbling around in the dark in their own ways. It was strange to look at Taylor Brant and consider him anything other than one hundred percent sure of himself.

Or was it? He was well groomed and sophisticated, yet the broken nose hinted at his past experience with abuse. The book, too, suggested deep waters and a hint of vulnerability.

But Jack wasn’t completely sold on Brant being a man you could easily take advantage of. Maybe back then, back when Brant had dated those cops, he had been a man like that. But not any longer. The man sitting across from Jack had been honed by pain, anger, and disappointment. Brant had gone through hell and come out the other side as a more powerful man. It was there in those steely eyes, a hint of the danger he presented: he needed to control every situation he entered because he would never allow himself to be at anyone’s mercy again. He was using his fear to become something—someone—unbreakable.

Jack’s cock pulsed at the prospect of being under Brant’s control, even for an hour. It wasn’t something he’d ever experienced, and the fantasy of it was probably better than the reality. Hell, he didn’t know how he’d react to someone attempting to take the upper hand with him. There was a good chance he’d throw a punch.

 

About the Author

Tricia Owens has been writing m/m fiction since 2000, after stumbling onto the term ‘slash’ and thinking it referred to horror stories. She is the author of the Sin City, A Pirate’s Life for Me, and Juxtapose City series, among several others. She lives in Las Vegas.

 

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Release blitz

We aim to bring you the best LGBT+ romance book deals, the hottest new releases and some awesome giveaways. Happy reading!

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Today we have Colette Davison on the blog to tell us a little more about their new release I Wished For You!

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Designs by Dana 

Genre/s: mmm contemporary romance

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Heat Rating:  4 flames

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Blurb

Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.

Matt wants to find ‘the one.’

Connor wants them.

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

 

 

Excerpt

Matt adjusted his jogging bottoms and leaned back against the sofa. The next words popped out of his mouth unfiltered. “I could do with a blow job.”

Seb snorted out a loud laugh. “Too much information.” He patted Matt’s shoulder. “But hey, if you’re desperate, I don’t mind obliging.” Seb’s laughter trailed off into a nervous chuckle. “Umm… that was a joke.”

“Yeah, yeah, of course.” Matt couldn’t look at Seb. A week ago, he’d have taken a comment like that and ribbed his friend with it mercilessly. Now, he wasn’t sure at all that it had been meant in jest. He wasn’t even sure that he wanted it to be a joke. He rubbed his jaw, clearing his throat again. “What would you do if I said yes?”

Seb twisted on the sofa so he was facing Matt. “You’re not going to say yes.”

“What if I did?” Matt kept his stare on the ceiling, but he was still able to see Seb shrug out of the corner of his eye.

“I’d give you one.”

Seb’s reply was so matter-of-fact that it sent a chill running up Matt’s spine. It did nothing to ease the pressure in his cock. If anything, blood pumped to it faster.

“Really?” Matt asked. Why the hell was he still talking? It was like he was engaged in a game of chicken with Seb, trying to see which one of them would back down first. He had no idea how far his head, or his cock, was willing to take it.

“Sure, why not? It’s just a blow job, right? It wouldn’t mean anything.”

“But we’re friends,” Matt stuttered.

“Wouldn’t be the first time I’ve sucked off a friend.”

 

About the Author

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

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Release blitz & giveaway

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We’re excited to welcome Joshua Landon on the blog today! Joshua is here with a giveaway but more importantly to tell us a bit more about their new release Teach Me to Touch You.

Book Title: Teach Me to Touch You (Novella 1 in the Teach Me Series)

Author: Joshua Landon

Publisher: Self-Published

Genre/s: Gay Romance

Length: 27 000 words approx. /100 pages

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Release Date: December 23, 2018

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Blurb

When Austin’s father deserts his young family, he leaves Austin and his sister to struggle with poverty and neglect at home and bullying at school. When Austin’s first girlfriend kisses him in high school, his PTSD flashback to childhood abuse scares his girlfriend away.

A Marine at eighteen,  Austin returns home after four years with his PTSD aggravated by nightmares of war. He fears he’ll never have a sex life.

Daniel, a psychiatric technician with a speciality in PTSD, helps Austin readjust to civilian life. Over months of work together, trust grows between them along with an attraction they hide from each other, since Austin is straight and Daniel is gay.

A gifted healer, Daniel believes a sexual relationship between them could harm Austin, though Austin is anxious to learn to touch again. But when their visits are scheduled to end, both men must deeply examine their concerns and untangle their desires for the future.

Excerpt

Austin

I was seven when my dad left for work in the morning and never came back. My sister Julie was six.

It was a bad year, the first truly awful year. Not that the years before had been ideal, with my parents snapping at each other over each little affront, but at least they’d both been part of my life. And with either parent alone, I’d felt like a normal kid. It wasn’t entirely self-deceptive—it was all I knew.

But the day my dad pushed my mom against the wall, cocking back one huge fist to strike her, I ran to push myself between them.

“No, Dad, don’t!” I’d cried.

He’d looked at me, lowered his fist, and never spoke another word to me.

In the morning, he was gone.

At first, the dad-sized hole inside me seemed about to swallow me up. I was sure I’d die like the baby bird I’d found in the yard early that spring. I’d given it water and worms in a shoebox with crumpled toilet paper for warmth, but it wouldn’t eat or drink and grew steadily weaker. When it quit moving altogether, my mother stroked my hair, soothing me in a whisper.

“Its tiny heart quit beating, Tintin. Baby birds are too small to survive without their parents. But you gave it the best care you could. Its death isn’t your fault.”

I buried the bird in the back corner of our Mountlake Terrace yard without fanfare, digging its grave in the frozen ground with icy fingers that held a bent teaspoon. Despite my mother’s insistence that I wasn’t to blame, I knew the truth. I’d failed the bird just as I had failed my father.

About the Author

A fanboy of books, theater, and cinema and a supporter of the LGBT+ community, Joshua Landon lives in the greenbelt and park-filled community of Lynnwood, Washington not far from Seattle, Edmonds and Everett—a great location to experience the outdoors, music and the arts. He recently authored the three Teach Me novellas, a romance about two young men: a troubled Marine and a talented healer. They will become available for order through Amazon online in multiple countries, releasing between December 23, 2018 and February 2019.

When not writing, Landon enjoys building stage sets, bungee jumping, river rafting, and watching films from all eras. He shares his bookshelf-lined home with a middle-aged tomcat, and his back yard fills seasonally with wild rabbits.

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Review

As soon as I read the blurb I wanted to read this story. It has everything for all the feels – hurt/comfort trope, a marine with PTSD suffering from an abusive childhood. It’s a real slow burn of a story so if that’s not your thing then maybe give this one a miss. For me, I couldn’t get over the writing style which read more like a romanticised journal and I struggled with it to be honest. I think this book just didn’t appeal to my tastes so I’d urge you to give it a go if you don’t mind this style of writing.

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Release blitz & giveaway

We aim to bring you the best LGBT+ romance book deals, the hottest new releases and some awesome giveaways. Happy reading!

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Book Title: Lost and Found – A May/December Gay Romance

Author: Quin Perin

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: X Potion Designs

Genre/s: Second Chance Gay Romance

Length: 21 500 words/80 pages

It is a standalone story.

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Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited Amazon Universal Link | Amazon US Amazon UK

 

Blurb

He is…

half my age,

my son’s friend,

and he calls me Daddy.

I brought him to his knees until he did the same to me.

“He was like a greedy little puppy, trying to please me. And goddamn, I needed him to need me.”

A May/December Second Chance Romance with a sprinkle of Daddy Kink. After their first encounter in “Take it All”, Lost and Found explores how Dave and Carter’s relationship took root and blossomed.

As a standalone novella, Lost and Found features explicit adult m/m content, Daddy Kink, age gap as well as romantic elements. The book ends…well, let’s see how it ends, shall we?

 

 

Excerpt

“Please,” Carter begged, tears in his eyes. Desperate, that’s what he was. The schedules I’d given him worked most of the time. But he needed the physical contact.

I released his hair and cupped his jaw, fingers digging into his cheeks. “You crossed a line, boy. Now go sit on the couch and think about what you’ve done before I do something I’ll regret.”

There it was again, that daring glimmer in his eyes. His hands almost touched the thick bulge I sported, but he knew better. He receded, never breaking eye contact while I nodded and praised him, “Good boy.”

It took another fifteen minutes to clean up the kitchen and cool down. I felt sick thinking about what had just happened. Our kinky connection almost exposed because Carter loved to play with fire. He wasn’t an ordinary submissive. Not like the ones I’d read about online. He was cheeky as fuck. But there he sat, with his head bent and his hands resting on his thighs, waiting for me to come over.

“I am sorry, Daddy,” he whispered when I rounded the couch and stood in front of him.

“Look at me.”

Staring up at me from the couch, he worried his bottom lip, chewing the right side of it until it was raw and swollen. I hated that habit.

“Stop biting your lip,” I ordered and brushed my thumb over it. The moment we connected, Carter’s eyes slid closed, and the tension seemed to flow from him. It’s what he needed, my touch, my affection.

“I’m sorry,” he murmured when I dipped my thumb into his mouth, pulling his lower lip down.

“You gonna make it up to Daddy?” Arousal was beating rage into submission, shutting off my brain. I needed to punish him as much as he needed me to do it. He’d won.

I made him undo my jeans. Which he did with such enthusiasm, I almost forgot the way he’d behaved. Next, he pulled down my briefs, letting my pulsing erection jut free. He tried to catch it with his mouth, but first it slid over his cheek, a string of precum landing there. I’d never seen anything sexier.

I moaned at the way he worked me into his mouth. That tight and warm heat. That goddamn tongue teasing me. I placed my hands on the back of his head, helping him to take in more. I’d never had someone suck my cock like they fucking loved it. Until Carter did exactly that. He slurped and moaned, his hands at the back of my thighs pulling me in deeper. He was going wild, bobbing and pumping and making my knees shake. I freed my balls while he went at it, blinking up with those big brown eyes, glazed with lust.

“You’re doing so good,” I rasped, “make it up to Daddy.”

His nose nuzzled my pubes, and my balls drew up tight, the tension spiking to new heights, ready to burst. But I didn’t let him finish me. Instead, I yanked him off, eliciting a surprised cry when I spun him around on the couch so his body splayed out on top of it. Carter scrambled, waving his ass at me as though it were my prize. Which it was. But he had to learn he couldn’t risk what we had. Not like that.

Without even undoing his loose-hanging jeans, I tore them down his legs. Another yelp. His underwear and pants pooled around his knees. Gazing over his shoulder with his bare ass on display, I straddled him, my wet cock bouncing with the movement, hanging out of my undone jeans. Carter tried to prop up onto his elbows, but I pinned him down, one hand slamming between his shoulder blades.

“Stay, boy!” I hissed and rubbed my free hand over the globes of his perfect ass. I’d never seen an ass like that, so round and taut and just…yeah, perfect.

Then, the spanking began.


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We first meet Carter and Dave in the short story Take It All where we see how the pair gets together. I really enjoyed it although it’s not necessary to read it to enjoy Lost & Found.

Carter is half Dave’s age and sets up the Daddy role which is given a twist as Carter knows Dave’s actual son!

We catch up with the pair after the events of Lost & Found, and their story unfolds over a long chunk of time but in a small amount of story which left me a little disconnected with them. Because this is a novella, it’s understandably hard to fit so much story and depth to the relationship in. Also, with only one character’s POV, it’s hard to know what the other character is feeling and the overall relationship. Dave gives Carter structure in his daily life and tries to be a good Daddy, and I loved Carter’s youthful exuberance – like a Labrador pup!

If you’re after a quick read with a flavour of Daddy Kink, then you’ll enjoy Lost & Found.


About the Authors

This is Quin&Perin. We are a team of Sultry Gay Romance writers who focus on detailed, toe-curling, and realistic smut scenes with a fair share of dirty talking (Oh, boy). Unlike other authors, we write without the goal of publishing anything. Publishing is just the cherry on top of a cream-covered bubble butt.

 

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Title: The Journalist and the Dancer

Author: Liam Livings

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: October 1, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 49700{

Genre: Contemporary, Ibiza, contemporary, family drama, romance

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Synopsis

Christopher, a quiet, reserved, British journalist, reviews restaurants and night clubs in Ibiza. After a painful breakup and nervous breakdown in the UK, he aims to live a more spiritual possession-free life on the Mediterranean island.

Lucas flees an abusive ex in Madrid to live his dream of dancing in Ibiza’s large prestigious night clubs.

They meet at a night club and both feel an instant attraction which soon develops into an emotional connection neither of them feels ready for.

Sharing their painful pasts with each other brings them closer together, though neither of them planned on being in a proper relationship. But when a family crisis pulls Lucas back to Madrid and a painful encounter with his abusive ex, Christopher deals with painful experiences of his own.

Excerpt

The Journalist and the Dancer
Liam Livings © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“What are you drinking?” the barman asked. He wore a low v-neck sleeveless T-shirt and looked far too skimpily dressed for what was purporting to be another straight bar.

“Gin and tonic. Large.” Christopher winked—it was always worth a try wherever he was, and Ibiza’s bars were very mixed anyway. Straights and gays shared most drinking establishments happily. A relationship of equals, was that too much to want?

He checked the invite, scanning down for anything unusual. Among the rubbish about it being the new place to be seen on the island and where all the it people hung out, whoever they were—Christopher had lived on Ibiza for a year or so and had yet to meet these so-called it people—were pictures of men and women laughing and drinking together, so probably aiming for the straight crowd.

“Excuse me. We’ve run out of soda water. Can I get you something else?” The barman shook the hose contraption and shrugged.

“Surprise me.” Because nothing else here is surprising. The red walls were covered in likenesses of the island’s shape, with large white skulls painted on either end, and the dark corners of the club were filled with silver chairs and tables. The latest Eurotrash track boomed from the stage on the far side of the room. Christopher stifled a yawn. Somehow, this wasn’t quite what he’d imagined looking for a less materialistic life would be like.

But he still had to eat.

The barman slid a tall, multicoloured cocktail adorned with a blue umbrella and red cherry along the bar. “Surprise!”

Christopher took a sip and was pleasantly shocked that he enjoyed the bitter sweetness. “When is the actual opening happening?”

“Eight, eight thirty.” The barman talked enthusiastically about the cannons, which were going to spurt white foam over the revellers on the dance floor.

“Foam cannons? Really?” I think the year 2000 called and it wants its nightclub back. Christopher rolled his eyes behind the tall cocktail glass.

“It’s not a club here without one—apparently.” The barman shrugged and his biceps rippled in the light. “Mind you, have you seen the cages hanging above the dance floor?”

“Where?”

The barman pointed through an archway to the source of the pulsing noise that passed as music here.

Bit tacky. How can I say it’s a bit tacky without actually saying it’s a bit tacky? How about fanciful? Or maybe enthusiastic? Christopher pondered the right words for a few moments.

The barman left to serve another customer, tiny white shorts about two sizes too small encased his tight arse cheeks—definitely a good seven or an eight—wiggling as he walked.

Christopher contemplated what a waste that arse was on a straight man, then pulled a white wafer-thin laptop from his bag and began writing his Ibiza Discovered review for yet another nightclub opening. If I ask the barman a few more questions, that, and a few words about the ambiance—always deathly dull at these things—I’ll be done and home to chill out with the TV and Sally within the hour. Maybe that’s why I’m still single. Or maybe it’s because I don’t think I’ll ever find a man who’s equal to me…

“The VIP area is ready when you are.” A slight man in a black suit with sweat on his brow appeared at Christopher’s shoulder.

With a sinking feeling that his leaving within the hour plan was looking less likely now, he followed the man to an area with a red velvet rope and clipboard-checking woman who flicked her long brown hair more often than she checked the guest list.

Christopher gave his name, waited as the woman checked it and was then shown to a table with other people talking and toasting with champagne.

People. And they’re talking. They’re going to want to talk to me and want to know who I…Damn!

“Who are you reviewing for?” a man at the table asked.

“Ibiza Discovered.” Different people asking the same questions, probably going to suggest the same bloody drinking game as the evening progressed. Being this standoffish was definitely not improving his chances of finding a date any time soon, he realised.

After introductions around the table—a few local papers, a website mag, and a clubbing scene mag—Christopher gritted his teeth as the first man suggested they play a drinking game, based on how many times the manager said certain words in his welcome address.

He checked his watch. With no sign of the manager announcing the formal opening, and already half an hour late, his quiet evening plans were gradually disappearing, drink by drink.

One of the journalists was talking about the last club opening he’d been to, something about a fire alarm and how they’d all ended up in the… Christopher’s attention drifted from the man’s story to a gentlemen who skipped and floated across the dance floor. Nothing too unusual so far, but the fact that he was wearing only a pair of tight gold trunks with glitter over his athletic hairless chest made Christopher sit up, his shorts tighten, and his stomach flutter.

The man shouted, “Me cago en tu puta madre!” and turned to face Christopher, staring for what seemed like a minute, smiling and not breaking eye contact.

Christopher couldn’t take his eyes off this exotic passionate creature, staring so intensely and deeply it felt as if he were staring into his soul. He knew that no man dressing like that would take himself too seriously. He felt sure that a man like that would humour his partner, was comfortable with himself fully without censoring, wouldn’t mock every decision of other people like… Christopher stopped that particular avenue of memories.

Then, as suddenly as he’d arrived, the man shook his head, clapped twice, and ran through a door to the side of the stage.

That arse in those trunks was at least a nine, possibly a ten. Who is he? What’s the English equivalent to that sweary Spanish phrase? Where is he going? And why aren’t I talking to him instead of this group of idiots?

Purchase

NineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Meet the Author

Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socializing with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

Published since 2013 by a variety of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as http://www.realpeoplewritebooks.com and has also ghost written a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography.

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New release review

IMG_0824What happens when a star-gazing professor falls for his hot young housekeeper? One heck of an earthy explosion…

Professor Marek Janos’s genius at analyzing stellar explosions doesn’t apply to his own disordered world. Forgetting to eat, sleep, and leave his lab has triggered some epic personal disasters. When his family insists he hire live-in help, he discovers home life has awesome benefits. His new housekeeper’s smile sparks more energy than a supernova. And the way he moves? It rocks Marek’s galaxy.

Pete Schulz took a tough fall from his high-flying life in Hollywood. But how does a guy whose best skill is getting dirty clean up his act? His new gig with Domesticated Inc seems like a great first step. Keeping house for a nerdy young astrophysics professor is exactly the low-key, no-chance-for-trouble job he needs, right?

Living together is surprisingly easy for both men. And fun. And more than a little hot. It’s when they’re faced with the idea of living apart that the truly messy work begins…

This is a 90,000 word stand-alone novel with two quirky heroes–one who actually likes to vacuum, and one who enjoys studying Weakly Compressible Homogeneous Isoptropic Turbulences.
Pete the housekeeper appears briefly–and messily!–in Unraveling Josh (Ellery College Book 3), and Nick and Josh from Unraveling Josh, make a short–and sweet!–appearance in Professor Adorkable.


aa7e2-fullsizeoutput_622“Life is messy, so messy that I prefer to study faraway stars.”

Professor Adorkable is totally adorkable. I love Marek in all his nerdy, clumsy ways. A man who can get lost in his work and forget to eat or sleep, which explains his need for a live in housekeeper – Pete.

People tend to look after Marek too much which I found a little annoying – he’s a twenty-six year old man but as the story progresses Marek learns to stand on his own two feet and stand up to his family.

I really liked Pete. Back from LA & trying to make up for some questionable acts in his past he doesn’t want Marek to know about. Pete appears in Unraveling Josh which I didn’t know before reading this, but Professor Adorkable can be read as a stand alone.

I am a huge fan of this author’s writing  style and as ever delivers fantastic characterisation and really get inside the characters head. 

The story starts after they have known each a while so it feels a little like the reader is playing catchup but the story is sweet and funny especially when Marek and language factor in. 

The story focuses on them realising they love each other and why they can’t be together.

“Because there is something between us – some energy we generate that connects our hearts.” 

The author has an amazing  ability to draw the story out yet draw you in simultaneously like time slows down.

“Adorkable is the best. I love adorkable. I don’t want anything else.”

Available for purchase at Amazon

New Release & Giveaway

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We’re excited to welcome Amy Aislin on the blog today! Amy has brought a fun swag and paperback filled giveaway, but more importantly is here to tell us a bit more about their new release The Heights! 

Series:Lakeshore #1

Publisher:self-published

Release Date (Print & Ebook): September 20, 2018 

Length (Print & Ebook): approx. 75,000 words, or 320 pages

Subgenre: m/m contemporary romance

Reader warnings: one of the main characters suffers from panic attacks

Cover artist: Stacey Blake @ Champagne Book Design

Synopsis

51w3IepzfpLTwenty-one years ago, a four-year old child was kidnapped from his front yard. He was never found. Until now.

All Nat Walker wants is to make his late father’s dream of running a father/son woodworking shop come true. And he had the perfect building in mind—until the new guy in town came in and bought the place right out from under him. The fact that the new guy is adorable means nothing. For all Nat cares, he can take his new dance studio and waltz back to New York City.

Professional dancer Quinn Carroll couldn’t be happier that he made the move to the small town of Lakeshore, Oregon. Sure, it’s not New York, but now he’ll be living closer to his adoptive brother. And since his studio will be the only one in the area, he should get enough business to keep him busy. Besides, there’s something about this place that seems familiar…

He doesn’t expect to fall hard for the local, grumpy woodworker who won’t even smile at him.

Or find out that his entire life is a lie.

rainyteaser

 Excerpt

“That’s also the most I’ve heard you talk since we met.”

He removed his stick from the fire and let his burned marshmallow cool. “I talk.”

“Not much.” Quinn assembled a second s’more and ate it in short order. “But that’s okay. You talk when it matters.”

Nat froze with the marshmallow halfway to his mouth.

Aloof. Uncommunicative. Grumpy. Words that had been used to describe him at various times in his life by people who hadn’t made an effort to get to know who he really was.

Quinn had him pegged in only a couple of weeks?

He ate his marshmallow, chewing slowly, half an eye on Quinn. Quinn, who was adorable and sweet and charming but who Nat had judged as flaky and immature. Turned out he was smart and exceptionally astute.

Quinn assembled yet another s’more, his foot tapping in tune to whatever song played in his head. Jesus, did he never sit still? The fingers of one hand drummed on his thigh as if playing a mental piano even as he attempted to eat a s’more one-handed.

He was like a coiled spring, tightly wound. What did Quinn do to expel all that energy besides dance? Soccer? Running? Hockey?

Sex?

Nope. Not going there.

Except now that his brain had gone there, it didn’t want to go anywhere but there.

Purchase

Amazon (universal Amazon link):http://geni.us/TheHeights

iBooks (universal iTunes link): http://geni.us/TheHeightsApple

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Meet the Author

Amy-logo-complete2 (1).pngAmy started writing on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class was forced to stay inside for recess. Tales of adventures with her classmates quickly morphed into tales of adventures with the characters in her head. Based in the suburbs of Toronto, Amy is a marketer/fundraiser at a large environmental non-profit in Toronto by day, and a writer by night.

Book enthusiast, animal lover and (very) amateur photographer, her interests are many and varied, including travelling, astronomy, ecology, and baking. She binge watches too much anime, and loves musical theater, Julie Andrews, the Backstreet Boys, and her hometown of Oakville, Ontario. 

Connect with Amy

Website: https://amyaislin.com/

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Win a fantastic The Heights prize pack: signed paperback, one of a kind art print, and a set of wooden star ornaments. 

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New release & Giveaway

We’re excited to welcome Mia Kerick on the blog today! Mia has brought an awesome giveaway, but more importantly is here to tell us a bit more about their new release Love Spell!

Title: Love Spell

Author: Mia Kerick

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: September 17, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 43300

Genre: Contemporary YA, contemporary, YA, non-binary, bullying, homophobia, coming-of-age, humorous

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Synopsis

Chance César is fabulously gay, but his gender identity—or, as he phrases it, “being stuck in the gray area between girl and boy”—remains confusing. Nonetheless, he struts his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug-in-all-the-right (wrong)-places orange tuxedo as the winner of this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon Festival. He rules supreme at the local Beans and Greens Farm’s annual fall celebration, serenaded by the enthusiastic catcalls of his BFF, Emily Benson.

Although he refuses to visually fade into the background of his rural New Hampshire town, Chance is socially invisible—except when being tormented by familiar bullies. But sparks fly when Chance, Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper (Jazz) Donahue, winner of the Pumpkin Carving King contest. Chance wants to be noticed and admired and romantically embraced by Jazz, in all of his neon-orange-haired glory.

And so at a sleepover, Chance and Emily conduct intense, late-night research, and find an online article: “Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love With You.” Along with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure, it becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.

But will this “no-fail” plan work? Can Chance and Jazz fall under the fickle spell of love?

Excerpt

Love Spell
Mia Kerick © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Shine On, Harvest Moon

Just call me brazen.

It occurs to me that brazen—unabashedly bold and without an inkling of shame—is the perfectly appropriate word to describe moi right about now. It is, however, the only perfectly appropriate part of this evening. Which is perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion. So get over it.

I lift my chin just enough to stop the stiff orange spikes of glitter-gelled hair from flopping forward onto my forehead. Who can blame me? These spikes are razor sharp—best they stay upright on my head where they belong. And gravity can only do so much to that end.

Okaaaayyyy…sidetracked much? Forces rebellious thoughts on business at hand.

Chance César is a brazen B.

I stare ’em down, but only after I pop the collar of the blinding “Orange Crush” tuxedo I’m rockin’ and shrug my shoulders in a sort of what-the-fuck fashion. Rule of thumb in this queen’s life—first things must always come first.

Pop, shrug, and only then is it kosher to stare. I clear my throat.

“Eat your ginger-haired heart out, Ed Sheeran.”

Based on the buzz of scandalized chatter blowing about in the crisp evening breeze, I’m reasonably certain that nobody in the crowd heard me speak. And although several of the girls currently gawking at me may do double backflips over my red-haired counterpart across the pond, they don’t give a rat’s ass about Chance César. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they view my atomic tangerine locks as more reminiscent of Bozo the Clown than of the smexy singer-songwriter.

They are, however, completely unaware that this carrot top is going to make Harvest Moon Festival history tonight.

Refusing to succumb to the impulse to duck my head, I take a single shaky step forward onto the stage that’s been set up on the dusty ground beside a vast—by New England standards—cornfield. The stage doesn’t wobble, but my knees sure as shit do. Okay, I’m an honest diva and I tell it like it is. And I’m what you might call a freaking wreck.

Nonetheless, this brazen B takes a deep breath, blows it out in a single gush, and starts to strut. This boy’s werkin’ it.

Smi-zeee!! Yeah, my smile is painted on, just like my trousers.

Chance, you are by far the edgiest Miss Harvest Moon this ramshackle town has ever had the good fortune to gaze upon. I am a major fan of positive self-talk.

Using the feigned British accent I’ve perfected—thanks to long hours of tedious practice in my bathroom—I dish out my next thought aloud. “I wish I’d put in a tad more practice walking in these bloody heels before going public in ’em.” And despite one slight stumble—a close call to be sure—the clicking sound my pumps make is crisp and confident. I saunter out onto the catwalk.

#TrueConfessions: Faking foreign accents is a hobby of mine. I can yammer it up in improvised French, German, Mexican, Russian, and plenty more accents, but I don’t mimic Asian languages, as it seems too close to ridicule. My plan for the rest of the night is to continue vocalizing my abundant thoughts in Standard British, with a hint of Cockney thrown in for charm. After all, New Hampshire is the “Live Free or Die” state, and I’ll do what I laaaa-like. Yaaasss!

“Introducing this year’s lovely…or, um, handsome Miss…ter…Harvest Moon. Let’s hear an enthusiastic round of applause for Chance César!” Mrs. Higgins always speaks using a lolling Southern twang, although I’m sure she’s lived her entire life right here in less-than-gentile, way-too-many-dirt-roads, Fiske, New Hampshire. (Like, can you say backwoods Fiske without it sounding too much like backward Fiske?) TBH, I’m thrilled: it seems I’m not the only one with an affinity for a colorful accent. But the applause is disappointingly, but not surprisingly, scattered.

“Woot!” A solitary hoot splits the night—it’s quite impossible to miss— and I recognize an undeniably shrill and nasal quality in the sound. I know without a doubt that the hooter is my best (only) friend, Emily Benson. In my not so humble opinion, Emily’s hooting for my benefit is as liberating a sound as Lady Gaga bellowing “Born This Way” live on the Grammy Awards after emerging from a large egg.

My Emily is everything! Not to be dramatic, but whatevs.

In any case, the single, supportive hoot is followed by mucho expected heckling. “Chances are, Chance César is gonna moon the crowd!” It’s a girl’s voice, for sure. I do not have a lot of female fans here in Fiske.

“Come on, Miss Harvest Moon, bend over and flash us your full moon!” A dude mocks me next. I’m proud to say I’m an equal opportunity victim of harassment.

I don’t blink once in the face of the jeering. This type of inconvenience is par for the course in my life, and thus, I consider it a challenge of stoic endurance. I simply place one fine pointy-toed pump in front of the other, my eyes focused on the mountain in the distance. I’m especially proud that, amidst the chaos, I remember to offer the crowd my best beauty queen wave.

Yeah, this is some beauty pageant realness.

“Thank you, lovelies, for coming here today.” I speak in my most Princess Diaries-esque tone.

“Werk it, girlfriend—werk hard!” Yes, it’s Emily again. And like always, she’s got my spectacular back.

“Aw, shit, we must be havin’ a lunar eclipse or somethin’.” It’s another pubescent male voice, and a deep one at that. “There ain’t no moon to be seen ’round these parts!” The heckler is a douche I know too well from school named Edwin Darling—whom I less than fondly, and very privately, refer to as “Eddie the Appalling.” I watch as he looks away from me to take in the full moon in the dark night sky and shrugs.

The lunar eclipse one-liner is actually fairly humorous. I toss out ten points for creativity in Edwin’s general direction by allowing a restrained smile, but I never remove my eyes from the single treeless spot on Mount Vernier.

Time for a mental detour. Why is this one spot bare-assed of all trees?

That’s when the music starts, and I’m more than glad for the downbeat. It helps me focus, plus it’s much easier to sashay to the sound of a jazzy snare drum than to the unpleasant clamor of heckling. Not that my backside won’t wiggle righteously to any sound at all. Because, rest assured, it will.

“Shine On, Harvest Moon.” Whoever is in charge of the sound system plays the Liza Minnelli version, which may be the silver lining to this farce. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the more traditional, not to mention folksy, Four Aces version for Miss Harvest Moon’s victorious stroll up and down the creaky runway. I will say that tonight is a first for the Liza rendition, and I’m curious as to whether it is coincidental.

But who really cares? Ring them sparkly silver bells for Liza M!

On a side note, I wonder: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Liza Minnelli’s voice brings out the dramatic streak in me? Okay, okaaaayyyy…so maybe it doesn’t take more than a gentle nudge to get me going in a theatrical direction. But, hey, drama ain’t a crime. My mind is pulled to the back of my bedroom closet (how ironic), where my flapper get-up hangs. Panic sets in… Should I have worn that instead? But it’s a muted peach—not a vivid orange—as seems fitting for a pumpkin festival. And then there’s the whole not-a-single-soul-except-Mom-Dad-and-Emily-has-yet-seen-Chance César-in-full-female-garb thing that held me back from rockin’ the vintage coral dress with its spectacular tiers of flesh-colored fringe.

Tonight is Beans and Green Farm’s Annual Harvest Moon Festival, and for northern New Hampshire, this is a big freaking deal—the whole town shows up for cheesy shit like this. In light of this recognition, I confirm that pumpkin orange attire is mandatorbs. I mean, I went so far as to dye my hair for tonight’s festivities; the least I can do is choose garments that enhance my Halloween-chic style.

At the end of the catwalk, I indulge the audience by providing them with their deepest desire. I stand there, still as a scarecrow—for ten seconds, give or take—so they can drink in the sight of me, from spiky glittering head to pointy patent leather toes. I allow them this rare opportunity for freeze-frame viewing pleasure. Whether they admire me for having the balls to strut around ultraconservative Fiske wearing a scandalously snug-in-all-the-wrong-(right)-places orange tuxedo and four-inch black pumps—which I will admit is a public first for me—or they wish the shining harvest moon would fall on my house and crush me while I sleep, what they all really want most is a good long moment to study me.

To twerk or not to twerk, that is the question.

When the spectators finally start to squirm, I throw out a few of my best vogue fem moves to the tune of some subtle arm, wrist, and hand action, followed by several full-body poses, avoiding the death drop move as I haven’t yet mastered it in pumps. And when it’s time to once again get this glam show on the road, I pivot on my toes and strut briskly—America’s Next Top Model style—back to the stage where my boss, the owner of Beans and Greens Farm, stands nervously clutching my crown.

Mrs. Higgins is a tall glass of water, in the manner of a large-boned Iowa farm girl, but she’s accustomed to crowning petite high school junior girls, not nearly grown senior boys in four-inch heels. I crouch beside her politely and, I dare say, delicately, and she carefully nestles the crystal-studded crown in my spiky mop of neon-orange hair.

“Be careful, Mrs. H,” I warn beneath my breath. “Those spikes might look harmless, but they’re sharp enough to slice off your little finger.”

She offers me half of a crooked smile, for which I give her credit. I, Mrs. Higgins’ very own “boy with the bad attitude on cash register three,” have broken about every rule Beans and Greens has established for its hordes of Fiske High School summer workers, right down to the “no jewelry at work” clause. But a couple of points go to the lady because she manages to force out a grimace that could be mistaken for a smile…if your standard for smiles is on the low side. Besides, I’m not about to remove my nose ring. It in no way impedes my ability to count, ring up, and bag cucumbers.

This is when I spin on a single heel to face the crowd.

“You don’t happen to have any…very brief…words of wisdom for our audience, do you, Chance?” Mrs. Higgins asks, speaking into an oversized microphone. But despite the laid-back accent, I can tell she’s wary. Like a rat in a corner.

“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” My clipped British accent momentarily stuns the woman, and I take the opportunity to snatch the microphone from her less-than-dainty hand. Realizing it’s now in my possession, Mrs. Higgins shudders. “I just want to thank you all, my beloved coworkers at Beans and Greens Farm, for voting me in as this year’s Miss Harvest Moon.” I wipe imaginary tears from my eyes with my wrist, sniff for added effect, and, of course, I employ a most gracious, high-pitched tone of voice. “I am so honored to represent you all here tonight.” I sound like Eliza Doolittle in the stage play, My Fair Lady.

The crowd is silent. Maybe it’s a stunned silence. I sincerely hope so.

I follow dainty sniffling with my best duck-faced lip pout. Mrs. Higgins makes a sudden grab for the microphone, but I’m more agile. I only have to twist my shoulders ever so slightly to the left to block her move. She eyes me with a new respect.

And then I lower my voice so it’s all man—momentarily losing the delightful British inflection—and pose my question to the crowd.

“So you thought voting for me as Miss Harvest Moon would humiliate me—dull my shine or rain on my parade, perhaps?” I wag one well-manicured finger at the crowd while swishing my ass back and forth in matched rhythm. “Well, in your face, my sorry backwoods homies, cuz I’m here and I’m queer and I’m shining on—just like that big ol’ harvest moon!”

Without hesitation, I bend, just enough to grab Mrs. Higgins around the waist, and lift her off her size eleven feet (by my best visual estimate) and swing the lady around, probs ’til she’s seeing more stars than the ones in the dark Harvest Moon sky.

I’d bet my ahhh-mazing ass that no other Miss Harvest Moon has ever given Mrs. Higgins a joyride like that!

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Meet the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another at a dance conservatory, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She has published more than twenty books of LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to NineStar Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com or visit at http://www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.

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New release & giveaway

We’re excited to welcome Edie Danford on the blog today! Edie has brought an awesome giveaway, but more importantly is here to tell us a bit more about their new release Professor Adorkable!

Series: Domesticated Inc, Book One

Author: Edie Danford

Publisher: Edie Danford

Release Date: September 18, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 90,000 words

Genre: Romance, Boss, Housekeeper, Best Friends, Nerd

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Synopsis

What happens when a star-gazing professor falls for his hot young housekeeper? One heck of an earthy explosion…

Professor Marek Janos’s genius at analyzing stellar explosions doesn’t apply to his own disordered world. Forgetting to eat, sleep, and leave his lab has triggered some epic personal disasters. When his family insists he hire live-in help, he discovers home life has awesome benefits. His new housekeeper’s smile sparks more energy than a supernova. And the way he moves? It rocks Marek’s galaxy.

Pete Schulz took a tough fall from his high-flying life in Hollywood. But how does a guy whose best skill is getting dirty clean up his act? His new gig with Domesticated Inc seems like a great first step. Keeping house for a nerdy young astrophysics professor is exactly the low-key, no-chance-for-trouble job he needs, right?

Living together is surprisingly easy for both men. And fun. And more than a little hot. It’s when they’re faced with the idea of living apart that the truly messy work begins…

Excerpt

“I made the mess,” I tell my housekeeper. “So I will clean it up.”

“Yeah, I know you can clean it up if given several hours,” Pete responds, his smile crooked. There are no signs of exasperation on his face or in his tone. No signs that he’s upset I’ve woken him up with the sound of breaking glass, and that his once-pristine kitchen floor is now covered with a mess I could have easily avoided if I’d been paying attention. “But it’s my job. Tomorrow morning your job is to go teach a class. You’ll sleep until eight, eat a good breakfast, and then be off.”

I raise my eyebrows. “That is exactly how it will happen?”

“I’ll make sure of it.”

“What if I want to negotiate?”

“Negotiate?”

“Yes. Things can be negotiated in a democratic household, yes?”

“Democratic?”

I smile. “We have no dictators here. Or kings or queens.”

“Well.” He snorts. “There is that matter of your uncle signing my paycheck. But I get what you’re saying, I guess. What were you interested in negotiating?”

“Tonight I feel…antsy? Unable to relax.” I move my shoulders up and down to show him all this tension I’m experiencing. “I’ll go upstairs and sleep, but first I would like company. To hang out with you. For a while.”

His mouth droops as he folds his arms across his bare chest and stares at me. “So you’re saying you’ll let me do my job. But only if I give up my free time for you?”

“Um.” It’s cool in the kitchen, but my face suddenly becomes steam-burn hot.

Damn. I’m incredibly bad at talking to him—or any guy—I find attractive. Doesn’t matter where I am—Prague, Pasadena, Chicago. My language barrier isn’t about Czech versus English. It’s about my head versus my tongue.

What I want with Pete is complicated, not simple. But, as usual, I’ve said words that could be construed as—

God, I don’t even know what.

“You suck at negotiating, Marek.” He says it with a kind note in his voice.

“Yes.” I clear my throat. “I do.”

He sighs and runs his hand over his short hair—hair I want so fucking badly to touch. Is it bristly, soft? Would it sift through my fingers easily, or would it be like my hair and cling to my skin?

“I suppose we could listen to one Harry Potter chapter,” he says, lacking his usual enthusiasm for the idea. “But just one. And if you fall asleep or if I fall asleep or if we both fall asleep, it will be your job to wake up and go back to bed. No sleepovers. That’s a rule that’s not allowed to change.”

I swallow. Ordinarily I would give him shit about the unreasonableness of his request—if we’re asleep, how will we know we’re asleep and thus breaking his rules?

But I keep quiet tonight. I know I’m pushing him. I know he’s beginning to figure out I want more than just his company. So much more.

If this were a work-related matter, I would get my way with a few basic words. Logic applies in my lab. When it comes to my personal life, however, logic rarely applies. Basic words never seem to work.

If I tell Pete what I really want—to take him into his room, to put him on his comfortable bed, to kiss his clever mouth over and over and over, to blow him until his sweet hotness spills down my throat, to hold him tightly and use friction to excellent effect (inside or outside our bodies, I don’t care) until we both come—then he would say “no” quickly and firmly, and quietly shut that detestable door in my face. And I’ll be lucky if he’s still around in the morning.

The situation between us is confusing. I hope this is more than just his workplace. We are friends. He’s my best friend, actually. And he’s the one who makes this place a home.

Occasionally, I have a hard time understanding…what had my language tutor called it? Nuance. Nuanced meanings. Pete and I have a lot of nuances happening between us.

“One chapter would be good,” I tell him. “Chapter Twelve. ‘The Tri-wizard Tournament.’ I need to know all about it.”

He nods and tips his head toward the open door to his suite. “I’ll meet you in there.”

My heart bounces around in my chest—more zaps from that ionizer—but my head doesn’t like the take-care-of-business look on Pete’s face. No smile, no teasing, no dancing notes to the way his boots clap against the tile floor. He checks the locks and the deadbolts on the back door and walks toward his room.

He glances at his doorway and then me, his eyebrows rising. He looks as though he’s holding his breath, maybe holding back a sigh.

Maybe it would be better to give him space tonight. Better for me to be apart from what I want so much, but can’t have. I should walk away, go back to my room without bothering Pete.

My damp toes stick to the cold floor. I want to be more than a job for him. I want to be more than some guy he feels sorry for, some guy who can’t even say what he wants.

I walk over to the sink and retrieve a glass from the nearby cabinet. I fill the glass half full at the tap and then drink. I set it down carefully. The water is cold, but my skin feels hot. I can feel Pete watching me, waiting.

My eyes shift to the hallway. But my feet carry me toward Pete.

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Meet the Author

Edie lives in Vermont with her husband, two sons, and random creatures that might or might not be pets. She loves libraries (where she’s found play, work, and love since she was a kid), long walks (unless ice is involved), lewd language (in the right context), luscious romance (of any variety), and alliteration.

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New release

We’re excited to welcome Keelan Ellis on the blog today! She has brought an awesome giveaway with her, but more importantly she’s here to tell us a bit more about her new release High Time!

Title: High Time

Series: The Solomon Mysteries, Book Two

Author: Keelan Ellis

Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: September 10, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 55400

Genre: Contemporary Crime, contemporary, police/detectives/law enforcement, crime procedural, family drama

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Synopsis

When skeletal remains turn up in Baltimore’s Leakin Park, Detective Paul Solomon is pessimistic about their chances of solving the case. But a clue discovered near the bones soon leaves his partner, Tim Cullen, in little doubt as to their identity. As the case leads him close to home, Tim struggles to find a balance between professional responsibility and family, testing Paul’s patience and loyalty in the process.

In his personal life, Paul wrestles with his own increasingly precarious balancing act. His friendship with David Haygood threatens his new relationship with Owen, and he finds himself questioning not only his own judgment but his motivations as well. When Paul makes a choice that may irreparably damage his budding romance, the only person he can think to turn to is his ex-lover and friend Andy.

As Paul and Tim sift through details of the short life of a young woman who died over a quarter of a century ago, what eventually emerges from the web of connections and coincidence is a story that’s both shocking and sadly familiar to the seasoned detectives.

Excerpt

High Time
Keelan Ellis © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
“It’s huge,” Paul said. “Won’t it be too much for the space?”

“No, the simplicity of it will keep it from overwhelming. I think it might even make the room seem bigger.”

It was a chilly Sunday in March, and Owen had dragged Paul to the studio of a friend of his from his art school days, promising to find him something to put on the large expanse of blank wall in his apartment. Paul wasn’t sure he really cared, but he knew it was the kind of thing that bothered other people. He liked having art on the walls and furniture that looked nice, but he wasn’t gifted with an eye for any of that. His ex-boyfriend Andy had handled all that stuff for eight years, and now he had Owen to help him with it.

Paul had been dating Owen for almost four months. It worked out pretty well because Owen worked in a bar and usually had to be there until the end of the night. It was a relief for Paul not to feel guilty when work kept him late. Sometimes Owen would knock on his door at two or three in the morning, and Paul would stumble out of bed to let him in. He sometimes thought, in that sleep deprived state, that maybe he should just give him a key. That idea rarely made it to the light of day.

“Can I even afford it?” Paul asked.

“Well, what else do you spend your money on?” He eyed Paul up and down in a conspicuously critical way. “Not clothes, that’s for sure.”

“Ha,” Paul said, rolling his eyes.

“Your apartment is a one bedroom on the second floor, next to a house full of stoners in Charles Village. Come on, Paul. Be an adult and buy some art.”

“Yeah, well…” Paul stopped himself before he could say something he’d regret. It was kind of ironic to hear Owen telling him to grow up, but it wasn’t worth getting into. “Never mind. Fine. You’re right, I should spend money on something real.”

“Great!” Owen pulled Paul over to his friend Ara and helped him work out the details. When she went to wrap up the painting, Owen said, “Don’t think I don’t know what you were going to say before, by the way.”

“What are you talking about?” Paul asked innocently.

Owen smiled and shook his head. “I don’t want an argument. I just want you to know that I know.”

Paul studied his face for a moment. He didn’t look pissed. He looked a little bit smug, but that was fine. “I don’t want an argument either,” Paul said. He snaked an arm around Owen’s waist and pulled him tight to his side. “I still need you to hang this picture for me.”

“I understand,” Owen said. “I have a few requests myself that I hoped you could help me with.”

“Will I need a hammer?” Paul asked, grinning.

“Always.”

Once Owen had the picture up, Paul had to admit it improved the look of his modest apartment quite a bit.

“Thanks for doing that,” Paul said.

Owen shrugged. “No big deal. It looks great, don’t you think?”

“Yeah. Thanks for picking it out for me.” Paul put his arms around Owen’s shoulders. “We should go out for dinner. Anywhere you want.”

“I kind of want to just stay in tonight. Would you mind? We could just order food and find something on streaming.”

After a pause that went on slightly too long, Paul said, “Uh, yeah. Sure.”

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing,” Paul said, shaking his head. “Sorry. I was just thinking of where we should order from. You want Indian food?”

With a slight frown, Owen said, “Sure, that sounds good. Do you have a menu?”

Paul wasn’t sure what had shown on his face that caused Owen to react, but there’d been a second when Paul felt a twinge of panic. It made no rational sense. Staying in and ordering dinner was exactly the kind of thing Paul usually wanted. His job was tiring, and he didn’t like crowds. But coming from Owen, for some reason, it bothered him, and Paul knew it was unfair.

“I’ll go get it,” Paul said. “You pick out something on Netflix.”

Paul put his unease aside. They watched an entire season of Luther, which Paul loved. He assumed it was as full of inaccuracies as most American police dramas, but because it was English, he wasn’t clear enough on the details of their system to be annoyed by it. Plus, Idris Elba. Owen ended up falling asleep with his head on Paul’s leg by the end. It was as domestic as any evening he’d ever spent with Andy, but instead of making him feel content and comfortable, he only felt restless. He prodded Owen awake and got him into bed.

It was still dark out when Paul was awoken by the phone in the middle of a confusing dream in which he was at a baseball game at Camden Yards with his dad, while somehow simultaneously on the field, playing shortstop for the Blue Jays. His dad was rooting against Toronto, of course, but every time he made a play or got a hit, his dad would say, “That’s okay, son, I love you no matter what.” Not the most subtle dream he’d ever had.

He groped for his phone on the nightstand and picked up. “Solomon.”

It was his boss, Lieutenant Cherise Masters. “I’m sorry to call you so early. I need you to meet Tim and the forensic team at a scene in Leakin Park. I’ll text you the coordinates.”

“Someone dumped a body?”

“You must be psychic, Solomon. Buried it, actually, and a long time ago by all accounts. Pretty much just bones at this point.”

Paul sat up and put his feet on the floor. “Wait. Bones? Seriously? You’re calling me in early on some cold case whodunit?”

Masters was silent, no doubt in an effort to intimidate him. Paul waited her out, and she finally sighed in resignation. “Human remains were found by a couple of guys with a podcast who are apparently doing a series of episodes on the so-called ‘bodies of Leakin Park’.”

“You have got to be shitting me.”

“The last thing we need is another goddamn Serial situation. It has to be done properly.”

“Yeah,” Paul said. “I’m on my way.” He hung up and looked over at Owen.

“You have to go right now?” Owen mumbled.

“Yeah, sorry. I hate to do this to you, but you have to get up. I’ll drop you off at home.” Paul pushed the hair out of Owen’s face and gave him a kiss.

Owen stretched and then burrowed further into the blankets. “I don’t have to work until four. I’ll just hang around and take the bus from here.”

“That would be fine, except you won’t be able to lock the deadbolt when you leave. Come on, get dressed.”

“Don’t you have an extra key?” Owen asked.

“No,” Paul lied. “I’m sorry.”

It was obvious Owen wasn’t buying it. He narrowed his eyes and said, “You said that already.”

Paul looked at him and realized that some kind of fight was brewing, and it wasn’t one he particularly wanted to have at the moment. Things between him and Owen had been great, for the most part, but that was going to change if they had to have the relationship conversation. It wasn’t a question Paul was in any way ready to answer. Regardless, he didn’t have time for it. He had to get to a crime scene. “I really need to get going. Can we do this later?”

“We could, but we probably won’t,” Owen grumbled. Still, he got out of bed and pulled his clothes on.

The silent ride from Charles Village to Mount Vernon was mercifully short, and when they pulled up in front of Owen’s building, Paul grabbed his wrist before he could get out. “Hey,” he said, “I don’t want to be in a fight with you.”

Owen sighed. “We’re not in a fight, Paul. You just hurt my feelings. I feel like you don’t trust me in your place.”

“It’s not that,” Paul said. “Look, it’s early. We’re both not in the best of moods. Can we do this later?”

“Sure.”

“I had a nice time yesterday. Thanks for helping me with the painting. It looks great in my apartment, and there’s no way I could have picked it out myself.”

Owen smiled. “I had fun too.”

“Are we okay?” Paul asked.

Owen leaned over and kissed him. “More or less,” he said. “I’ll call you tomorrow.” He got out and walked into his building.

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Meet the Author

Keelan Ellis is an author of romance and detective fiction, who is always seeking to expand her literary horizons. She is a lover of music and food, and has an intense love/hate relationship with politics. Her stories reflect her passions.

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