Published in 2019

99c BOOK BLAST: Distant Cousins by Eric Huffbind + Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Distant Cousins

by Eric Huffbind

Aaron was walking, while an airline employee was pushing Konner in the wheelchair, heading towards the arrivals area. Konner noticed a gentleman, dressed in a chauffeur’s attire, holding a sign that read “Kirkman Party.”

Aaron walked towards the man, who was quick to say, “Good Morning, Mr. Kirkman. My name is James and I’ll be driving you and Mr. O’Flattery to the Hyatt Regency. Do you have any checked luggage we need to retrieve before we leave.?”

“Yes, we do, James.” The driver explained to the airline employee he would take over pushing the wheelchair. Konner had the definitive facial expression of, “What the hell is this all about? A chauffeur?”

Aaron was quick to notice his appearance. “Arnie always arranges for a limousine to meet me when I travel.”

“Oh—I see. Aaron, this is so foreign to me. A house in Bel Air was one thing, but flying first class, and a chauffeured limousine. Let me guess, we’re staying in the presidential suite at the hotel.”

Aaron responded, “Uhhhh…” Followed by clearing his throat. “Actually, yes, we are staying in the presidential suite. I would’ve thought you would like it. You don’t?”

“I wouldn’t say I don’t like it,” Konner answered “I feel like a country bumpkin next to you. I’ve never had your kind of money. And I’m not used to being taken care of, like you are. I’ve always made my own way in the world.”

“Can’t I make life nicer for you? It’s important to me.”

“You mean living the high life is important to you?” asked Konner.

“No. It’s not that. It’s important to me that you live a nice life.” Aaron said. “Let’s talk about it after we get in the limo. Okay?” Konner nodded in agreement.

Within five minutes, they were waiting at the baggage carousel. Aaron pointed their bags out, and the driver obtained the luggage to carry. Aaron offered to push Konner’s wheelchair the rest of the way. Once they were outside, a black stretch limousine was waiting at the curb. The driver placed their luggage in the trunk and then opened the passenger door for the boys. Aaron helped Konner to his feet and into the back seat of the car. The chauffeur closed the door for them and drove them straight away to their hotel.

The back seats were in the form of wrap-around couches. The smell of leather and alcohol floated in the air. As Konner sunk into the smooth feel of the black leather, he noticed a sunroof above them. “Am I too plain for you?” Konner asked.

Aaron felt as if it caught him off guard. “Absolutely not! Why would you think that?”

“Because, you said it was important to you I live a nice life. The high life as I call it. My feelings are a little hurt, you made me feel inadequate. Like I wasn’t rich enough, or fancy enough to meet your high standards.”

“Oh, my God! Sweetheart, nothing could be further from the truth. It has to do with the question you wanted answered when I said you need to ask your parents. It’s all tied together.”

“I see. So, I still need to talk to my parents for the solution.” Aaron gave a yes nod. “It has to be the something that badly hurt you. It’s become obvious your parents must’ve been the offenders.” Another yes nod from Aaron. “Then you don’t look down on me for living a plain-Jane life?”

“No! Not at all! I may live a fancy life, but I swear to you…” Aaron took an audible breath and sighed. “I may be an asshole who’s gone around seducing men, but I’m not a snob. I still want to make your life better, but not for the reason you think. I promise.” Aaron reached for Konner’s face to caress, always enjoying the feel of his facial hair, and gave him a kiss.

“I’d better give Anna a call. Let her know we’re here.” Konner pulled his cell phone from his carry-on bag and dialed her number. “Hi, Anna, it’s Konner. Aaron and I have arrived. We’re staying at the Hyatt Regency Sacramento; that’s where we’re driving to right now… We’d love to have lunch with you and your husband tomorrow…”

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Book Review: Bitten by Fate by Annabelle Jacobs

bitten by fate

Reviewed by Susan65

Title: Bitten By Fate
Author: Annabelle Jacobs
Series: The Regent’s Park Pack #6
Heroes: Jason Black & Daryl Easton
Genre: MM Paranormal
Length: 215 Words
Publisher: Self
Release Date: March 5, 2109
Available at: Publisher, Amazon and Barnes & Noble
Add it to your shelf: Goodreads

Blurb: Daryl plays with fire and gets burned by fate… 

Former Primrose Pack member Jason Black happily accepted his role as beta in the new Regent’s Hill pack, knowing that merging the two was the best decision for everyone involved. Daryl Easton is loyal and honest but wary of change. The joining of the two packs wasn’t his preferred outcome, and he’s struggling to see all the newcomers as pack, including those now working alongside him.

When the alpha council proposes a two-week pack-building course to help improve troubled relationships, Jason and Daryl are sent along as backup. It soon becomes clear that the unit members and their betas won’t be the only ones taking part in tasks—Daryl and Jason will have challenges of their own to complete.

With the full moon adding to the rising tension, emotions are volatile, and tempers flare among the unit members. Jason and Daryl become closer than either of them expected, but with such opposing views on relationships, a messy outcome seems inevitable unless Daryl can let go of the past.
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Categories: 4 Star Ratings, Book Review, LGBT, Published in 2019, Susan65's Reviews | Leave a comment

A Broken Promise by Mel Gough: Exclusive Excerpt!

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Exclusive Excerpt from A Broken Promise

by Mel Gough

CHAPTER 2

“Hey, sweetie.”

Donnie rolled onto his back, trying to locate the source of the familiar female voice. He struggled to get his eyes open, but they were sticky and uncooperative. When he managed at last, there was Sara, their friend and a doctor at Emory Hospital. She crouched by the bed, looking worried.

“Ben call you?” Donnie whispered. The words hurt his cracked throat and he winced.

Somewhere out of his field of vision, Ben said, “Sara needs to inject your ART. You’re not keeping anything down, so you can’t take your pills. It was that, or get you to the hospital.”

“He’s worried about you,” Sara added, her gaze so gentle it was like a caress. “He hates to see you hurting.”

A surge of guilt gripped Donnie and he squeezed his eyes shut. He still wasn’t used to someone loving him this much. Ben just wanted to help. Why could he never just shut up and accept it? Ben meant more to him than his own life. You’re being a ginormous dick, Saunders. His insides gave a warning rumble, bringing the pity party to a hurried end. With a groan, Donnie pushed himself up.

“C’mere…” Ben’s strong arms got him to his feet, mindful not to press on his aching belly. Ben was always there, no questions asked. Love, shame and embarrassment warred inside Donnie’s heart, but his more pressing problems distracted him immediately.

“Ouch.” Donnie bit his lip and pulled away, holding on to the furniture and stacks of boxes as he made his way to the bathroom.

Over the last hour, Ben had made him drink what felt like a gallon of ginger tea, and everything that hadn’t come straight back up had gone through in minutes. So how was there anything left inside now? And his stomach hurt something awful. Was this really just a bug? What if Ben was right? The pain was so similar to the pancreatitis. But Donnie pushed that thought away. He couldn’t go through that ordeal again.

“I brought some IV anti-emetics as well as the ART,” Sara said when Ben had helped him back to bed. She stroked his sweaty brow. “Don’t worry, sweetie, we’ll have you back on your feet in no time.” She set about getting the injections ready.

Donnie’s eyes drifted shut. He felt so tired, it was impossible to stay awake. Sara’s voice and her hands on his arm startled him from his doze.

“I should get you to Emory,” she murmured, looking for a vein. “You’re so dehydrated, and your temperature is climbing.”

“No, please, don’t,” Donnie pleaded.

She held up the syringe. “Is it likely? I brought these, didn’t I? But you need to promise you’ll stay in bed until this has passed, and to keep going with the fluids, even if they make you feel bad.” She raised an eyebrow at him. “Deal?” When he nodded, she picked up a butterfly needle. “And once you’re feeling better you’ll go for a full check-up at the HIV clinic. Blood tests, doctor visit, the works.”

Donnie sighed. He had no energy to protest. And anyway, she was right.

Ben sat on the other side of the bed. He looked so worried it made Donnie’s insides hurt even more. He reached out a shaking hand. Ben took it. “You hate this fuss, I get it,” he said quietly. “But I’m really worried.”

“I know,” Donnie sighed. “I appreciate it, and I’m sorry…ouch!” His stomach gave an angry spasm.

“Here.” Ben helped him roll onto his side.

Sara asked, “Have you guys got an electrical blanket or a hot water bottle?”

“I think there’s one in the moving boxes in the living room.” Ben got up. “I’ll get it.”

Sara took Donnie’s arm again and lifted the butterfly syringe. “I’ll put this in your arm so I can give you the meds over the next few days, all right?” Donnie nodded, and Sara swabbed a small spot near his wrist. “Is Zac at Arthur’s?” she asked.

Donnie flinched as the needle pierced skin. Sara secured the catheter, then stroked the back of his hand. He willed himself to relax. “Yeah,” he said, more pain piercing his heart. He missed the little guy already. “It’s too much work for Ben, looking after two of us. I just hope bub’s all right, though, and didn’t catch this.”

“I’ll call Arthur and check in.” Sara patted his hand. “You rest now, sweetheart. Sooner you’re better, sooner bub can come home.”

“Yeah, all right.” Donnie wiped away a tear. He missed their baby so much. Out of all the things that sucked about being sick, being separated from Zac was the worst.

Ben returned with a hot water bottle, and more tea. Donnie curled up around the heat. It felt wonderful against his aching middle.

Ben took Sara’s spot and held up the mug. “Here, drink something, and then you can go back to sleep.”

He helped Donnie take a few sips, then Donnie lay back down and closed his eyes. The pain in his gut was mirrored by the misery and guilt in his heart, but he was so exhausted that he dropped off within minutes.

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Honorary Blogger Morgan Brice: Secrets and Southern Gothic + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Secrets and Southern Gothic

by Morgan Brice

Haunted mansions. Dark family secrets. Restless ghosts. They’re what you think of when the term ‘Southern Gothic’ comes up….and for me, they’re the perfect mix for telling a sexy, spooky tale of supernatural suspense!

The Rising is the newest book in my Badlands series, set in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and his boyfriend, homicide lieutenant Vic D’Amato deal with a supernatural string of murders, pirate ghosts, a shipwreck and a haunted plantation. That’s plenty of spooky goodness along with Simon and Vic’s evolving romance!

Back in the day, pirates were the terror of the Carolina coast, and the waters are full of old shipwrecks. Some of the most famous pirates frequented the area, and left behind plenty of legends. Large rice plantations sprawled along the rivers, with their own tragic history. Wealthy families made unspeakable deals to gain and keep power, then hid dirty deeds to maintain respectability, going to their graves with their secrets. That provides a lot of plot fodder for stories!

If you visit Myrtle Beach, you’ll see white sand, high rise hotels, a neon-lit Skywheel, plenty of beach shops, and great restaurants, shopping and nightlife. But the vacation resort town is relatively new in the Carolinas history, and as with any glittering city, there are always dark alleys and shadows. Simon is a medium, and he hears the stories the ghosts need to tell to move on, or find justice. Vic works homicide, and as a cop, he knows that bad things happen anywhere.  So when they tackle murders that have a supernatural cause, Simon and Vic delve into dangerous territory, and while some people would do anything to keep secrets buried, those tales have a way of rising….

Thank you for having me as a guest! I hope folks will check out The Rising and the whole Badlands series, as well as my Witchbane books. You can also stay in touch by joining my Facebook Group.

Or following me on Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail) where I post photos of places and people who inspire my books. I’m also on Twitter: @MorganBriceBook and you can get a free Badlands short story (Restless Nights)  and sign up for my newsletter here.

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Cover Reveal: Take the Edge Off by TA Moore + Giveaway!

Take the Edge Off

by TA Moore

You don’t end up an ex-car thief and ex-con because you’re good at resisting temptation… and Cal Tate’s rich new boss is very tempting.

Cal has always been the bad boy lovers don’t bring home to Mom, but now he’d like someone other than a debt collector waiting for him at home. He has a legit job as a driver with his brother’s company, he’s got a doctor on the hook, and he still can’t help crawling into bed with Joseph Bailey.

Joe has never met anyone as easy in their own skin as his new driver. Or as ridiculously beautiful. He’s in London to downsize the family business… and to investigate the abusive emails that imply a dark secret around his mother’s death. But unpicking the lies he’s been told makes Joe realize he isn’t sure who is without them.

When his life falls apart, the only person he can be himself with is Cal. But with the anonymous stalker’s threats increasing, Joe worries that someone will finish the job they started over two decades ago—and end any chance for a happy future between him and Cal.

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Release Blitz: The Demon Lord of California by Jeanne Marcella + Giveaway!

The Demon Lord of California by Jeanne Marcella

Earth, 1900.

Calico Winghorse has no choice but to flee to the plane of existence called Earth. His great grandfather, suffering from a terrible curse, strips him of his psychic abilities and nearly murders him.

As a mixed-blood phoenix concealing himself in human form, Calico first settles in England, then in the San Francisco Bay Area. In order to make a living, he opens a small bakery and quietly licks his wounds.

But just how Calico escaped his childhood home—via interdimensional portal—is the very reason why he’s drawn the unwanted attention of Infinity Corporation.

Representing this angelic-run company is Agustín Chávez de la Cruz, the Demon Lord of California. Even though Agustín is IC’s heir, he finds himself demoted from his daily duties for a new assignment: take absolute control of Calico’s portal.

Calico and Agustín’s first brief encounter ignites sparks of attraction. Their second is highly explosive, bogging down initial communication with innocent mistruths and a healthy dose of fear.

As Agustín struggles to restore trust, Harper, the demanding head of IC interferes, further complicating matters. With negotiations slowed, Calico and Agustín realize they both wish to establish more than just a business deal.

However, until the extensive and brutal psychic injuries Calico received from his great grandfather are healed, the portal remains vulnerable to the darker forces that want it at any cost. Agustín will have to push both his angelic heritage, and his psychic powers to the very limits to mend someone who bears more than celestial blood, but who is also the god of space and time.

And the clock’s ticking.

Available at: Amazon

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Honorary Blogger Kay Doherty: Meet Tanner McBane + Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Meet Tanner McBane

by Kay Doherty

Hi, everyone, I’m Tanner McBane. I’m the Alpha wolf shifter in Kay’s newest book, Hearts of Fire. She told me to tell you a little about myself, but I don’t think I’m all that interesting. She wrote a book about me and Luca, but it’s because the two of us together are far more interesting that I could ever be alone. I’m twenty-two-years old and gay, but I’m not sure that matters. I’ve recently come to learn my childhood was horribly sheltered. Unfortunately, I think that was deliberate. My father is Alpha of the McBane Pack and he was grooming me to be his successor, or so I thought. I’m not so sure now. Luca, my dragon mate, has a pretty strong opinion about my father’s actions and motives. Doesn’t matter anymore, anyway, because the second I told my dad I was gay, he kicked me out of the pack. Kay didn’t go into too much detail about my disownment because it sounds horrible to have everyone you ever loved and trusted tell you you’re not worth the air you breathe, and it was awful, still is if I think about it too much. Turns out it was the best thing to ever happen to me, though. If my dad hadn’t sent me packing, I would never have found Luca. I never would have been in those woods to help him when he got hurt. I never would have gone looking for a job, or been hired by Luca, or met Deacon and his wolves. Wolves aren’t meant to be alone. I needed a pack more than I knew, and Deacon and the others give me the connection I need. But I love that dragon more than anything — despite his bossy possessiveness. It’s okay, though, because we protect each other and together we’re going to figure out why everyone seems to hate us. We don’t know why everyone is so afraid of us…yet…but we will. I promise you that.

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Marked by J. Jay Barrett: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from Marked

by J. Jay Barrett

Logan looked down at his pale fingers.  Hours of folding and refolding these sweaters were starting to take a toll on his skin.  The cheap cotton and polyester fabric blend had sucked the moisture out of his fingertips, much the same way his boss had sucked the fun from his social life.

He looked at his watch. 10:45. He was supposed to have left his job at The Rift almost 3 hours earlier.  A new, unexpected shipment had come in that morning, and his bitch-of-a-boss decided that half of the displays needed to be redone and the new clothes put out.

‘Mandatory overtime’ she called it.  He just called it bullshit. Corporate didn’t want this stuff out until next week.  It was an ill-fated attempt to inflate the store’s sales statistics artificially.

He looked across the sales floor at his best friend Sarah, who was struggling trying to move an awkward rack full of belts. They’d been friends for years, meeting in their orientation class when he started at The Rift. They’d both been young and poor, just starting out in the adult world.  She was exactly his age, their birthdays were only a few weeks apart, she was short, and her body had a sultry curve to it, with cleavage that drove men insane. Acne scars peppered her skin, so she overcompensated with expensive makeup. Logan always noticed but he didn’t dare say anything.  He’d never do anything to hurt her feelings purposely.

She must have felt his gaze, because she almost immediately looked up, cocked her head to the side and mouthed the word “fag” at him.  He smiled, rolled his eyes playfully and responded with his usual retort of “hag”. She laughed. It was the usual game they played when they were having a terrible day at work.  She’d call him “fag”; he’d call her “hag”. It might have been immature, but it made them smile and helped to pass the time. And it was true, he was a fag, and she was the ultimate faghag. Sarah looked down on at her watch and looked back at him with an expression that said: “What the fuck?” Logan shrugged in surrender and turned his attention back to the table full of sweaters he’d been folding.  All finished.

He called his manager on the two-way radio headset they all were required to wear, “Janice, you there?”  He thought the radios were stupid. The entire store, including the stock room, wasn’t more than three thousand square feet, but Janice tended to get pissed if you didn’t use them. God forbid you walk into the office to ask her a question and catch her browsing the internet for a better job or another ugly pair of discount knee-high boots.

A few moments passed before the headset squawked to life.  “What is it?” she sounded busy, but then again, she always pretended to look busy, but everyone knew she wasn’t.  The entire staff called her ‘The Store Micromanager’, behind her back of course, as a joke. She sat in her office playing games or browsing the internet while dictating chores via the radio and spying on them via the security system.

“I’m all done with the sweaters from that new shipment.  Do you think I could duck out now? I was only scheduled until 8.”  He threw that last part in just to reiterate that he’d already been at work long past his scheduled time.  He was really hoping to get a run in on the lakefront before it got too late. He wasn’t afraid of the dark, but every runner knew that the darker it got, the more dangerous your hobby became.

“Well,” she hesitated, her voice barely cutting through the static on the cheap radios, “You really shouldn’t leave until the entire shipment is done but go ahead and head on home, I’ll clock you out, but need you back here at noon tomorrow for inventory. Do not be late!”

Sweet.  He looked at Sarah across the store, who must’ve been listening in on the radio.  She looked up at him with a face showing a combination of jealousy and rage. He just shot her a cocky smile and threw up two fingers and mouthed ‘bye bitch’ at her.  She laughed and flipped him off.

He made a beeline to the front door, dropping his headset at the nearest register; someone else could worry about charging the battery.  Once out the door, it was just a quick walk, across Broadway Avenue and down a side street to his little studio apartment.

It was located on the upper level of a coach house behind an early twentieth-century brownstone.  He’d lived there since he was seventeen after his parents had kicked him out of their comfortable North Shore home for being gay.  His mother had been kind enough to pay the first year of the lease, although, after that, he’d never heard from either parent again.  He’d gotten his job at The Rift right after that, and minimum wage had never really enabled him to be able to afford to move into anything more significant.  But it was big enough for him, and it was his space. That was all that mattered to him.

He walked past a diner on the corner, the happy hour crowd noshing down their pancakes and fried eggs on the patio after a few too many after-work cocktails.  He ducked his head hoping not to run into anyone he might know. No distractions, he thought. Had he run into a friend, he’d end up sipping vodka cocktails at one of the local bars on Halsted rather than getting this run in.  Fall was setting in, but that didn’t mean getting fat would be okay.

It took all of three minutes to get to his apartment. He turned down the gangway that led between the two brownstones and into the courtyard that stood between the two-unit coach house and the main house in front. The building was nothing like the house in front. Literally, an old garage transformed into two apartments, a one bedroom on the ground level, and then up an old, creaky wooden staircase attached to the side was his studio.  The building had more layers of paint than could easily be counted, the latest, a light gray, was so haphazardly applied that the different coats of paint underneath could be seen in different spots. He counted once and was able to identify at least six different colors that the building had been painted at one point during its lifetime.

The apartment itself was a small space, about twenty feet by twenty feet with vaulted ceilings and exposed rafters.   A small bathroom in one corner that didn’t even have a proper door, just a curtain. It did have a cheap vinyl walk-in shower encrusted in years of hard water build-up, and a toilet and sink were attached to the wall.  No real kitchen to speak of, but it did have a microwave, range, small sink, and a small dorm sized refrigerator tucked into the short stretch of wall between the bathroom and the closet. Logan didn’t know how to cook anyway.

His bed was actually a futon, so on the rare occasion that he had any guests over, it would fold up into a proper sitting area. It really wasn’t too bad of a set up for a young, single guy.  He was just now getting to the point he could probably afford to move into a bigger place, especially if he got a roommate, but he didn’t see the need. It was all he felt like he needed. Besides, he’d grown quite attached to his little refuge.  It had been his savior when everyone he knew and loved turned his or her backs on him. Living alone had distinct advantages too when he met a cute guy out at the clubs.

He threw his keys on the table next to his futon, which was in its usual state of disarray, and went straight to the closet to change into his workout clothes.  The smell signaled to him that it was time to do some laundry even before he pulled the string to ignite the single light bulb that hung from the closet ceiling.

Tomorrow, he thought, no distractions.

He tore off his Rift uniform, which was actually just a few well-coordinated pieces of clothing from the store. The corporate offices had concocted an ingenious scam to get their employees to spend almost all of their paycheck back at the store, by changing the uniform practically monthly. Different days required different colors of clothing, all of which had to be purchased from the store, all of which varied with each passing season, and wasn’t recyclable from year to year. He grabbed the first pair of gym shorts he got his hands on, a dry fit, neon green tank top and his shoes.  He hastily threw them on, as he walked back to the door and grabbed his keys. “It’s super late,” he said out loud as he grabbed his keys and walked out the door. He looked at his watch. 11:09, it was getting really late. “Maybe only 5 or 6 miles, that’s better than nothing.”

He went down the creaky wooden steps, two at a time, through the gangway and started in a slow jog towards the lake just a few hundred yards to his east. Logan jogged down the car-lined side street, headed towards the lake.  It was late, but he had to get this run in, at least a few miles. He decided he’d head south along the main path until he got to the mouth of Diversey Harbor, then he’d swing around north along the break wall and run the perimeter of Belmont Harbor.  From there, he’d head along the isolated service road between a golf course and the lake up to Montrose Avenue and then back south along the main path again to home. It’d be a good four or five miles, not a particularly long run, but good enough for this late hour.  The night was warm, but a cool breeze was coming in off the lake, and if it persisted, he would probably be too cold before long.

He darted into the pedestrian tunnel under the Drive at Roscoe, admiring the mural on the wall illuminated by the yellow lights on the ceiling for the hundredth time.

He quickened his pace as he popped out on the east side of Lake Shore Drive and turned south on the main running bath.  He didn’t even think twice about how isolated his route was. He’d done this same run a hundred times before.

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Book Blitz: The Forever Kind of Love by LA Bryce + Excerpt & Giveaway!

The Forever Kind of Love by LA Bryce

You never forget your first love … especially when they cause you pain. Chase thought he was doing the right thing when he left Liam years earlier, but when he finds out he was wrong, it might be too late. The trust they once shared may be past the point of repair.

The Forever Kind Of Love is a story of second chances that asks the question — is a good reason enough to wash away the years of hurt it caused? Chase comes home from the military ready to start his life with Liam. But he discovers Liam’s life has already started without him. Is there a place for him in it? Is the possibility of more pain worth the risk for Liam?

If that isn’t hard enough, they only have the week Chase is on leave to come to terms with their future. Can they find forever in seven days?

Available at: Amazon

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A Love Like Fire by Tricia Owens: Exclusive Excerpt & Giveaway!

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Exclusive Excerpt from A Love Like Fire

by Tricia Owens

“I’m glad I met you, Hadrian.” The quiet rumble of the mercenary’s voice against his ear made him shiver. “I’m not sure I’ve encountered anyone quite like you.” Rough fingertips were gentle as they tucked a strand of hair behind his ear. Hadrian’s lashes fluttered like moths attempting to fly away. “I’ll see you this evening. I promise.”

Something long repressed made Hadrian turn his head and blurt, “Will you?”

Caledon’s evident surprise gave way to low-lidded look of pleasure that melted Hadrian’s defenses. Caledon’s gaze dipped to Hadrian’s mouth for a moment before the mercenary’s thumb replaced with look with a touch. “I always keep my promises, love. And this is one I want to keep very badly.” He stroked Hadrian’s bottom lip, staring as his mouth opened for him. “Very badly, indeed.”

Hadrian’s heart pumped so erratically he feared it would explode. Oh, gods, he wanted to lick Caledon’s thumb. He wanted to grab him and, and―what? Sadly, he didn’t know what he wanted, just more of this luscious, blood-stirring feeling that made him ache in all those secret places and left him hungry. Hungry for touch, for taste, for emotions.

He knew he was trembling by the way Caledon’s eyes darkened as they looked over him. “Gods be damned,” the mercenary said abruptly. “Meet me in the stables beside the Fickle Harper Inn.”

Hadrian started to nod automatically, then stopped himself as reason began to intrude. “No, I―I can’t. I need to meet too many―”

“Later tonight,” Caledon breathed. “After you’ve had your supper. I want to see you.”

Gods, if his father ever found out…But, found out what? What if the mercenary only wanted to speak with him? Ah, but what if he wanted more? Hadrian had little idea what that “more” could entail, but he wanted to find out.

He nodded, regretting the action as it dislodged the touch from his mouth. Caledon smiled at his expression as though he understood. “Meet me tonight and I’ll give you more,” he promised.

More. Whatever it was, Hadrian wanted it. He couldn’t tear his gaze away as Caledon backed away and strode from the room. When the tavern door closed behind him, Hadrian cupped his face in his palms. He was flushed with heat and his heart was a wild thing. A smile flirted with his lips, begging to be expressed. He normally only felt this way when he magicked. He wondered if what he had just experienced with Caledon wasn’t its own form of magick.

He prayed he would soon find out.

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