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Author Spotlight Amanda Meuwissen + Exclusive Excerpt from After Vertigo & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from After Vertigo

by Amanda Meuwissen

The Streak sat back on Ben’s thighs, not truly holding him down anymore, but not moving from his lap either. “If I’m so little a threat, why waste time with me?”

“Because I need your help,” Ben said. “I built the gun and others like it to temporarily depower Supers, and it works on others, but not you.”

“That’s what you were trying to do?” He looked at the gun with interest now. “I thought they just stunned people. The cops caught Talon because this thing can remove powers?”

Disrupt powers,” Ben corrected. “It lasts about ten minutes. No one’s been able to figure out how to override the Vertigo gene completely.”

“But with your guns, you’re close?”

“You hardly need to worry since the output doesn’t affect you. Do you know why it doesn’t affect you? Any idea at all why you might be different from the others?”

The Streak kept his eyes turned away as he answered, “No clue.”

Ben wished he could tell if he was lying. “Regardless, your powers are unique. Extraordinary.”

“Thanks for noticing, but I don’t do handouts.”

“Please, I’m only asking—”

“I look out for me.”

“Then I’ll turn you in,” Ben said boldly—amazed at how bold he felt. “I’ll give the police your name and address. Even if you run, you won’t have an easy time living your life.”

He gaped at Ben but also seemed impressed. “You’re blackmailing me now? How heroic.”

“The desperate get creative.”

“Desperate why?”

“Because….”

Ben hadn’t fully admitted it to himself, why this mattered so much outside the thrill, but he had so few people in his life that meant something to him—Tony, Beverly, his mother. They were it. Tony was easier to protect. As a captain at the FCPD, he didn’t hit the field as often, and he had all the equipment Ben could provide him.

But Beverly was a civilian. Worse, a politician, someone people could target. She was in danger just walking the street, and so was their mother. If anything ever happened to any of them….

“My family lives in this city. Sister, best friend, mother. I don’t want to lose any of them because I was too weak to do something. Don’t you understand that even a little? Friends? Family you want to protect?”

The smugness drained from Streak’s face, but he didn’t say anything.

“Please. I just want the innocent to have a chance against impossible odds. If there are any Supers out there wanting to be heroes, we haven’t seen them. You’re the only option left.”

He was quiet for a while, but when he spoke up, it was with a twist at his lips again and a resettling of his body on Ben’s thighs. “I’m no hero, so… got any other perks to offer?”

“I-I’ll… cover your grocery bills?”

He laughed. “It’s cute you think I pay for my groceries.”

“Then I’ll… keep the police off your back! My friend’s a captain.”

“Not really endearing yourself to me right now.” He grimaced. “But you got me at a disadvantage and you’re not exactly wrong. I don’t want to move, and your resources might be enough to keep me safe while bringing in these psychos out doing more than property damage. So, if I say yes”—he leaned closer, almost nose to nose with Ben—“what else is in it for me? Do I get a kiss to seal the deal?”

“I-I-I beg your pardon?” Ben felt his face heat up hotter, certain he had to be as red as the Streak’s T-shirt. He could feel so much of the man in this position with his knees parted around Ben’s waist. The Streak was handsome and strong and lean while also just the right amount of muscled. The dimples hiding beneath his beard and the occasional sunspots were nice too.

But he couldn’t be serious! He was mocking Ben again. And even if that wasn’t the case, Ben would hardly want an impudent thief to ravage him like Ryder from his eBook. His dream man was supposed to be charming and sweet, not unlawful and crude.

Not that the Streak was Ben’s dream man!

“I don’t kiss men I hardly know,” Ben said, which was true since he’d barely kissed anyone.

“But you do kiss men. Glad to know I guessed right. And you know more than most, handsome.” His eyes darted down Ben’s body. “You’re here. How’d you find me, anyway?”

“With hard work and ingenuity. And my name is Ben. Benjamin Krane.”

“Nice to meet you, Benji. You can call me Grey.”

“And you can call me Ben,” Ben corrected, since Benji was intimate and something to be earned.

“Oh, I like you.” Grey chuckled, resting his hands on Ben’s chest and causing a shiver to course through him. “I’ll play along for now, but just you wait, I’m gonna get that kiss out of you someday.”

Finally, he extricated himself from Ben’s lap, and Ben stood slowly after him, unable to tamp down his blush.

“Why on earth would you want to kiss me?” He glanced away when Grey’s eyes bore into him like he’d said something scandalous.

“You have no idea how hot you are, do you?”

Ben was not hot. He was a science geek, like Grey had pointed out. But since he didn’t know if he was being teased, he simply said, “I thought, because of my gun, you called me Cold.”

“Cold it is.” Grey snickered. “When I’m not calling you Benji. So, Benji, where do we go from here? Dinner? A movie? Or straight to the extortion?”

Ben hadn’t thought that far ahead, but it seemed he had a super-speedy thief at his disposal to finally make progress against the city’s villains.

It was definitely the best and worst decision he had ever made.

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Book Review: The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows by Olivia Waite

Reviewed by Ami

Title: The Care and Feeding of Waspish Widows
Author: Olivia Waite
Series: Feminine Pursuits #2
Heroines: Agatha and Penelope
Genre: F/F Historical Romance
Length: 292 pages
Publisher: Avon Impulse
Release Date: July 28, 2020
Available at: Amazon
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: When Agatha Griffin finds a colony of bees in her warehouse, it’s the not-so-perfect ending to a not-so-perfect week. Busy trying to keep her printing business afloat amidst rising taxes and the suppression of radical printers like her son, the last thing the widow wants is to be the victim of a thousand bees. But when a beautiful beekeeper arrives to take care of the pests, Agatha may be in danger of being stung by something far more dangerous…

Categories: 3 Star Ratings, Ami's Reviews, Book Review, Guest Reviewer, LGBT, Published in 2020 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Two Princes by Maggie Blackbird: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Two Princes

by Maggie Blackbird

“If you’ll excuse me, since I didn’t expect to have to stay after school, I have a few phone calls to make. I’ll be right back.” The teacher turned and swished out the door.

Billy finally expelled the laughter from the back of his throat. He wasn’t writing anything. If they wanted to lock him up and throw away the key, they could try. He only had four more months until he turned sixteen, and his get-out-of-jail-free card was burning a hole in his back pocket to finally escape this prison.

“What’re you laughing about?” René snapped open the three rings on his binder and shucked four pieces of paper onto the desk.

“From where I’m sitting—nothing.”

“Whatever.” René started writing.

This would piss off His Royal Highness, but big deal. Billy had to find some kind of amusement to pass the time. He wormed his desk against the floor until it bumped Rene’s.

“Get back to your spot.” Warning lingered on René’s order.

“How am I s’posed to help if I’m sitting a mile away.” The crisp clean scent from this morning settled under Billy’s nose. “What’re you doing?”

“What’s it look like? Completing our assignment. Go ahead, call it a joke. But I got a job to work and had to get someone to cover my shift at the store. There isn’t a chance I’m coming here tomorrow.”

“Giving your version, huh?” Billy leaned over to peek at the paper.

“I told you to step off.”

“Watch it. I get a say, too. I wasn’t even bugging Stu. He was invading my turf.”

“Your turf?” René snorted. “It figures you’d claim ownership of Indian Corner.”

“Not like you’d be caught dead there, eh? Can’t be seen near ‘skins.”

“As if.” René kept writing.

The five-dollar words on the paper jumped out at Billy: Billy Redsky’s family is responsible for his attitude problem, because they aren’t respected in the community. This is of their own doing since none of the adults work and refuse to maintain their home. Therefore, Billy feels the need to assert power over others whom he feels inadequate to, which resulted in his dispute with my cousin’s son, Stuart, this morning.

“Bullshit. Erase it.” He snatched the paper and crumpled it in his hand. The fancy report mirrored what Chief Oshawee probably said at the dinner table every night. “Stu approached me. Got it?”

“Don’t you ever disrespect me again.” René looked down his nose, as he’d done this morning. “You want something from me, you ask. Got it?”

“I ain’t asking for nothing. You didn’t ask me if you could write that bullshit about me and my fam.”

“Seriously? You want to help write our report?” René tossed the pen on the desk. “Fine. Have at it.” He snatched the extra paper and slammed it in front of Billy. “Get writing… if you know how to write.”

Billy seized the paper. He shouldn’t have crumpled the other one. Maybe in the upper grades they had to write those important essays, but not in the lower classes. He had to come up with something or René would laugh.

Billy began writing what he believed was the truth. René Oshawee is the chief’s spoiled-rotten son who thinks he can get away with anything…

“Get real. Chrome Dome isn’t gonna buy what you’re selling. He knows I’ve never been in trouble. I shouldn’t have agreed to what he asked.” René sat back, shaking his head.

“What’d he ask you to do?” Suspicion crawled up Billy’s spine.

“He said he saw potential in you and asked me to help. That’s why he has us writing this dumb report. He thought if you had a chance to work with me, you might smarten up.”

“Uh… he did?” The hostility vanished. The tension crawling along Billy’s spine melted. Finally, after fifteen years, someone gave a shit, even if it was the lame Chrome Dome. “You… uh… agreed?”

“Yeah.” René grabbed the paper. “Are you in or not?”

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Fancy Love by A.F. Zoelle: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Fancy Love

by A.F. Zoelle

At the sound of Jules’s cheery greeting, I turned around to face him. My initial response died on my tongue when I saw that he wasn’t alone. Rune was with him, looking like sin itself in a dark gray suit, black shirt, and silver jacquard tie with purple, blue, and red flourishes. In black-rimmed glasses, he resembled a sexy professor I desperately wanted to teach me a lesson.

It was almost impossible to tear my gaze away from Rune, but I forced myself to focus on Jules. I was proud I managed to squeak out the word “Hi,” when inside I was losing my shite over Rune being there with his brother.

Jules was kind enough not to laugh at my response. “How’s it going?”

“Uh, good? Yeah, good. Good is good. Great, actually. Right?” Fantastic, I sounded like an idiot in front of Rune again.

“Right,” Jules agreed, amusement lacing his tone. “I’ll go bug Xander now, so I’ll see you around.”

My heart leapt into my throat when I realized he was leaving me alone with Rune. I dared to glance up at him through lowered lashes, causing my pulse to skyrocket at how beautiful he was. How was it possible for one person to be that attractive? God, and he smelled so fucking good. Was there an aphrodisiac in his cologne? It made me want to lick his neck to see if he tasted as good as he smelled. Where did those weird thoughts keep coming from?

I knew I needed to speak so I didn’t come off as a total gobshite. If I had been outgoing like my brother, it would have been easy to say, “It’s great to see you again. Are you doing well?” Instead, all I got out was a breathy “Um, hi? Again. Hi. Hello. Hi again.”

The corners of his mouth quirked up at my pathetic attempt at greeting him. His voice was smooth as silk as he replied, “Hello, Callum.”

I hadn’t known my name could be sexy until I heard Rune say it. The sound of it on his lips sent shivers through me. It made it exceedingly hard to respond, but I valiantly fought against my ineptitude. “How have you been?” I applauded myself for getting out a complete sentence. It was a serious triumph in the face of his good looks.

“It’s been brought to my attention that I’ve been a shitty friend.” He carded his fingers through his hair, making me feel faint. “I owe you yet another apology.”

“Huh?” I cleared my throat and tried again for a better response. “What? Why?” Oh well, so much for those complete sentences. They were overrated, anyway.

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Standard Candle by G.B. Lindsey: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Standard Candle

by G.B. Lindsey

It’s quiet out. A few porchlights are on, mostly in the tiny apartment complex. Denny’s is one of them. His stoop is plain and flat, just a concrete slab with a railing, a single potted plant at the edge. The broken step is fixed, filled in with barely smoothed cement, and the old screen door has finally been replaced.

When you knock, the front door opens. Den looks bewildered, still in the jeans he wore to the party, the dark lines hugging his legs and washing out to thundercloud blue at the knees. His green shirt’s off, just a thin, ribbed tank top. “Avery?”

“Hey.” The sight of him shoves core deep. You want this. You don’t need any more parties or deals.

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People Like Us by Ruby Moone: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from People Like Us

by Ruby Moone

Joseph arrived clutching two tankards of ale. He put them down and settled himself opposite.

“Your good health,” he said, raising his ale, before taking a long drink then wiping the residue from his whiskers which the back of his hand.

Arthur took a smaller, more delicate sip, tilted his head, and regarded Joseph. “You know, you should let me shave you.”

Joseph’s eyes widened with alarm. “Why?” He ran what looked like a protective hand over his face.

“I’ll wager you’ve forgotten to trim your beard for a while.”

Joseph shifted uncomfortably.

Arthur gave him a playful pout. “I suspect there’s a jolly handsome man under all that fur.”

Joseph’s gaze dropped to Arthur’s mouth. Arthur’s mouth promptly went dry. Blinking rapidly, he took a long drink of the ale.

“How old are you anyway? It’s hard to tell with all that hair.”

“Five and twenty. Why, how old are you?” Joseph was still watching his mouth. Intently.

Arthur sighed in a theatrically wistful manner and waved a careless hand. “I can almost give you twenty years. You’re a babe in arms.”

He expected a witty retort, but instead Joseph’s arm stilled in midair, holding his tankard.

“I’m no babe.”

Arthur held his gaze for a moment, then swallowed and looked away. “No. No, you’re not.”

Joseph took a long drink of his ale, still looking directly at him. “You can shave me if you like.”

Arthur swallowed. Wondering just what Joseph was agreeing to. “Thank you.”

They drank in silence for a while. It wasn’t a comfortable silence, unlike previously. From nowhere, Arthur’s body was humming in a way it hadn’t done in years. He was aware of each movement Joseph made. Aware of his hands, large and work roughened around his tankard, the way his eyebrows plunged in a frown that looked entirely forbidding, but Arthur now knew that he was simply thinking. The swipe of his tongue over his lips to collect the foam from the ale that left them soft and glistening. Arthur drew in a long, slow breath and realised he might be in trouble. He was hard in his breeches, but the biggest worry was the ache in his chest. The pleasurable ache in his chest, he noted, that came when he watched Joseph Wilkinson do anything at all. The realisation that he could happily spend a long time just … watching him. It was an attraction that caught him completely unawares. He’d acknowledged at some level that Joseph was an extremely attractive young man, but this… He sighed. He needed to get things back on an even keel.

He glanced up at Joseph. Those penetrating blue eyes were wary, but curious.

Arthur smiled, raised his tankard, looked away, and took a long drink. It was the best he could do.

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Giveaway Winner!

It’s time to pick a giveaway winner! Yay!!!

So, the winner of a $20 Gift Certificate to E-tailer of Their Choice is…. Continue reading

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Honorary Blogger Kristoffer Gair: Not A Horror Novel This Time + Excerpt!

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Not A Horror Novel This Time

by Kristoffer Gair

“You do psycho a little too well.”

I laughed out loud when I read that comment from Martha Davis in her e-mail to me. She’s just finished reading Chapter 18 of Falling Awake III: Requiem and decided to drop me a little note. There’d been chapters of buildup, and when it finally came to this one, I felt unleashed. The crap had to hit the proverbial fan in a big, big way. Writing the main characters (Daniel, Tam, and Alex) meant keeping true to their personalities as they fit in with each other and their families, plus their inability beyond gut feelings to know what they were up against. But when the bad guys make an appearance? All bets were off.

I wrote a couple of villains in the comedy, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell (under my old pseudonym, Kage Alan), and they were borderline stock characters because that’s what the story called for. The focus wasn’t on them. It was on the heroes. The same could be said in the Falling Awake novella. We didn’t get to know the antagonists then other than they were mentioned in passing. That seemed enough for the story. Then came Falling Awake II: Revenant.

Instead of picking up where the novella left off, I decided we needed to take a little trip backwards in order to see just what Daniel, Tam, Alex, Larenz, and Amanda were truly up against. It’s easy to say characters are bad or evil. You’d have to take my word for it, though, right? Not much of an impact, is it? But if I show you the horrors these characters inflict, and also that they’ll never stop? That’s a whole different matter. It’s this sharing of our antagonists that turned Revenant into a horror novel. I never meant to. I didn’t set out to. The story turned out that way organically.

The character of Andrew in Revenant lived a nightmare. I wrote that nightmare. Readers consumed alcohol after reading this nightmare.

There is such a thing as overdoing it, though. I didn’t want to approach Falling Awake III: Requiem as a continuation of a nightmare. Yes, there are some horrible things that happen, but we now already know what could happen because of the previous book. Will it happen again? Will things go in a different direction? That’s the suspense of it. Do I need to duplicate the second book with a horror show at the end? No. The third book can be its own entity. Yes, all three books are completely connected, but each is unique and different from the others.

I once joked that the second book was my Empire Strikes Back. If so, and I’m about to jump franchises here, then this is my Search For Spock. You have the characters you’ve grown to care about, there’s loss, there’s a little adventure, a little humor, a little philosophy, and an ending that gives us a taste of what we’ve been searching for all along: hope.

Incidentally, Martha Davis e-mailed me again after she finished reading Falling Awake III: Requiem. She said, “You do love better than psycho (thank god!).”

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Release Blitz: The Man from Milwaukee by Rick R. Reed + Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Man from Milwaukee by Rick R. Reed

It’s the summer of 1991 and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer has been arrested. His monstrous crimes inspire dread around the globe. But not so much for Emory Hughes, a closeted young man in Chicago who sees in the cannibal killer a kindred spirit, someone who fights against the dark side of his own nature, as Emory does. He reaches out to Dahmer in prison via letters.

The letters become an escape—from Emory’s mother dying from AIDS, from his uncaring sister, from his dead-end job in downtown Chicago, but most of all, from his own self-hatred.

Dahmer isn’t Emory’s only lifeline as he begins a tentative relationship with Tyler Kay. He falls for him and, just like Dahmer, wonders how he can get Tyler to stay. Emory’s desire for love leads him to confront his own grip on reality. For Tyler, the threat of the mild-mannered Emory seems inconsequential, but not taking the threat seriously is at his own peril.

Can Emory discover the roots of his own madness before it’s too late and he finds himself following in the footsteps of the man from Milwaukee?

Available at: Amazon

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Prancing of a Papillon by Tara Lain: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Prancing of a Papillon

by Tara Lain

“I’ll bet you played football in college.”

Jericho squeezed the words out between his teeth. “No. I studied education. What about you?”

Malcolm ran a hand over his slicked-back hair. “I’m an administrative assistant.”

“Oh, how interesting.” Jericho swallowed and rushed on. “I mean, it must be interesting if you have an interesting, uh, person you assist.”

“She’s a pain in the ass.” Uneasily, he glanced at Batshit. “So, you like dogs, huh?”

“Truthfully, she belongs to friends. I’m just taking care of her.”

He smiled bigger. “That’s nice of you.”

“Yes. My dog’s under the table.”

Malcolm glanced and said, “Oh dear God.”

“I gather you don’t like dogs?”

“I don’t have a lot of experience. I mean, I travel a lot, and I hear they need somebody to take care of them all the time and shit.”

“Yes, dogs are a lot of work.”

“Woof.” Batshit looked up at Jericho with implied criticism.

Malcolm frowned as he glanced around. “Jesus, who do I have to kill to get a cup of coffee?”

“Sorry.” Jericho waved a hand and the waiter, Timmy, hurried over.

“Hi, Jericho. How’s your mom?”

“Pretty good. How about your auntie?”

“Oh dear, her arthritis get’s worse and worse.”

Jericho nodded. “I understand. It can be so debilitating.”

Malcolm made a huffing sound. “Could I get some coffee, please?”

“Oh sure.” Timmy rushed off, came back with a pot, and filled the empty cup in front of Malcolm. “Are you ready to order?”

“Just coffee and keep it coming. Gotta keep the boyish figure.” He leaned over toward Jericho. “I’ll bet it’s steak and eggs for you, right?”

“Uh, no. I’ll have the feta and spinach scramble and a lemon scone, please, Timmy.”

“Aka, your usual?” Timmy grinned. “I’ve already got it ordered.”

Jericho giggled. “And, of course—”

Timmy and Jericho spoke simultaneously. “A side of turkey bacon.”

“Woof!” Batshit gave a little hop on Jericho’s knee and Malcolm again pulled back. Behind him, Timmy made a face, then walked away.

Malcolm said, “I would’ve thought at a restaurant in such a ritzy town they’d have better service.”

Jericho stroked Batshit to calm his nerves. “Timmy’s actually a great waiter. He just knows me really well, so he’s a little familiar. Sorry.”

“Oh sure, no problem. So you must be some big-time educator to get to live in Corona del Mar.”

“I teach first grade.”

“First grade?” He laughed. “Kindergarten Cop. Jesus. Aren’t people afraid to leave their kids with you?”

Jericho tried hard not to scowl. Scowling made him look scary, but he’d heard that tired Kindergarten Cop joke so many times. He cringed, waiting for Malcolm to say, “Boys have a penis. Girls have a vagina.”

He was saved by Timmy who bustled to the table with a tray, set it on a stand, served Jericho’s eggs and scone, and then poured more coffee for both of them.

“Woof!”

“I didn’t forget you, cutie.” Timmy made kissy sounds at Batshit. With a flourish, he picked up a plate loaded with turkey bacon and put it on the table. “There’s your favorite.”

Bat’s expressive ears stuck straight up at that moment. While she was super finicky about food, turkey bacon got her attention. Jericho took the saucer from under his coffee cup, broke up some bacon on it, and pushed the saucer toward Bat. Then he grabbed a saucer from under an extra cup, ripped two pieces of bacon in half, and set the plate on the ground. Killer was on it like a rat on a pile of rocks, the job cairn terriers had been bred for.

Batshit cocked her head, daintily removed a single piece of turkey bacon, and pulled it onto the tabletop, where she stuck out her tongue, and slid it into her mouth. Her head disappeared as she ate it—on Jericho’s good jeans, of course, but if he put her down, Killer would have her food in a flash. Jericho smiled as she gracefully chewed. He looked up to say something to Malcolm.

Malcolm stared at him in horror, like Jericho had just invited Godzilla to the table and fed him one of the diners. Jericho tried to make his smile reassuring. “It’s no big thing. Everyone in Corona del Mar has a dog, and they all feed them at the table.”

Malcolm literally cringed, pulling his coffee cup off the table’s surface.

Jericho added, “I suspect they do clean the tables between dogs.”

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