The Russian Obsession (Foreign Affairs #3) by Nikki Navarre

 

To uncover the truth, Max and Christa must win their toughest battle yet. 

The battle of hearts between them.  

 THE RUSSIAN OBSESSION

Foreign Affairs #3

Nikki Navarre

Releasing Feb 21, 2017

 

Christabel Orlova remembers nothing before the night she woke in a Turkish bazaar with two passports, two governments on her tail, and no memory of her shadowy past. Armed only with keen wits, survival instincts and mad skills in the research lab, Christa has three goals. Stay alive. Stay one step ahead of her hunters. And find a cure for the Ebola bioweapon whose secret is locked in her brainbox—before it wipes out the human race. Gypsy, loner and wild child, her first rule of survival is never to trust.

Ex-Russian fighter pilot Max Vasylko is a gun-for-hire smuggler who’ll fly contraband cargo anywhere in the world, no questions asked. But he can’t fly far enough to forget the wife and daughter who died in an Ebola outbreak. When a bioweapon from a rogue U.S. program is to blame, Max’s mission turns personal. Find the scientist responsible for designing the super virus—and make her pay. The last villain he expects is Christa: a smart, sexy, scrappy survivor in hiking boots who’s lost her own brother to the virus.

Now Max is flying high above the African jungle with enemy agents in his six and a sweet redhead he’ll risk his backside to protect. Christa’s tempted to trust this hot-as-hell jet jockey with his wildcat courage and Mafia past. But the vaccine isn’t the only secret locked in her head. To uncover the truth, Max and Christa must win their toughest battle yet. The battle of hearts between them.

Top Five Facts about Author Nikki Navarre

Subject under Surveillance:

                                           

Nikki Navarre          Alias: Laura Navarre

Globetrotting author of sexy spy romance with a dangerous past.

Warning:  State secrets have never been this sexy.

Character Briefing:

  • In her other life, Nikki Navarre is a diplomat who works on weapons of mass destruction issues. In this capacity, she meets many of the world’s most dangerous men.
  • Nikki lived in Moscow, Russia for five years and is a fluent Russian speaker.
  • Nikki’s real-life bodyguard was the inspiration for Nikolai “The Maestro” Markov, ex-KGB hit man turned protector in The Russian Temptation, Book Two in Nikki’s Foreign Affairs series.
  • Nikki’s innocent twin, Laura Navarre, writes historical and paranormal romance set in the Tudor period for Harlequin/Carina. Laura’s Tudor fallen angel romance Magick by Moonrise won the Pacific Northwest Writers Association romance award. Still, she’s secretly jealous of Nikki’s success!
  • Nikki’s Foreign Affairs series is under consideration for episodic television in Holllywood.

Guest Post & Giveaway with Allison Cassatta

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Allison Cassatta to the blog. She’s here to talk about “When Loves Goes Bad” and to  drop off an exclusive excerpt from her newest release Dearly Stalked out January 23, 2017. We are giving away $10 Dreamspinner Gift Certificate to one lucky commentator below! Don’t forget to comment and give a big welcome to Allison Cassatta for being here!

When Love Goes Bad

Many adults, those who have had the pleasure–or in some cases, displeasure–of falling in love, know that love doesn’t always end like it does in fairy tales, with white weddings and happily ever afters. Sometimes, the person you fell so head over heels for, who was going to be your alpha and omega, doesn’t turn out to be the person you thought they were. They might lie, or cheat, or maybe you just can’t deal with the fact they took the last cup of coffee and didn’t bother making more. Whatever the reason, you figure out that they’re not the one for you.

But how many people can say that the inevitable break-up turned so sour they actually feared for their life? In Dearly Stalked, one of our heroes gets to see first hand how falling in love with someone who isn’t necessarily stable in the brain can turn a person’s world upside down. Have you ever had someone go crazy on you after a breakup? How did you handle it?

I’m not going to show you the decline of any of the relationships in the book because well, I think that might ruin the way the relationships develop, plus I’m not ready to give any secrets away. This excerpt is from Morgan and Ben. It’s the hook-up. *wink*

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Thank God Ben had to drive less than a quarter of a mile to get back to the precinct, and most of that was maneuvering back onto Union Avenue. He pulled up, parked his squad car, went inside to turn in his paperwork and clock out, then changed into his gym clothes so he could work out before going home.

Hey, Logan,” someone yelled from behind him.

Ben lifted his head. It was one of the Charlie-shift guys. Brown. Ben always avoided him because Morgan Brown triggered all the wrong responses for Ben. He had the piercing blue eyes that sparkled like diamonds against his tan skin. Short curls of golden blond twisted out from his scalp. Kid had to have been a surfer before moving to Memphis and joining the force. They sure as shit didn’t make ’em like that here, and his accent sounded more West Coast than Deep South.

I’m off tonight,” Brown said. “What are you getting into?”

Headin’ to the gym,” Ben muttered, half hoping his faked lack of interest would put Brown off any more interrogating. It didn’t. Brown sat down right beside him. The wooden bench jostled enough for Ben to grab its edge.

Skip the gym.” Brown gave Ben’s arm a playful punch. “You’ve got mad guns already, dude. Come hang out and have a beer with me.”

Why? For what reason? We’re not friends. “I’m not a big drinker.”

Then drink small,” Brown quipped with a wink.

What. The. Fuck? Where was this attention coming from? Morgan Brown had never spoken two words to Ben before. They weren’t chummy, not even a little, and Ben was pretty fucking certain if he told his fellow officer about the not-so-little man crush he had on him, then Morgan wouldn’t want to hang out and have a few beers. Jesus H. Christ, Ben did not want to spend his night sucking down booze while fighting the urge to suck face with someone who could potentially ruin his career.

Stop thinking so hard,” Brown said. “This isn’t a life-or-death situation.”

Ben snorted.

Two beers. Then I’ll let you go home.”

You’ll let me go home?” Ben arched a brow.

You know what I mean.”

Who else is going?”

Nobody.” Brown leaned in a little closer. His cologne nailed Ben right in his olfactory, but dammit he smelled good. Like he’d just climbed out of a hot shower and took a run through an evergreen forest or something. Shit. Brown whispered, “I don’t really know anyone, and they don’t really seem to want to know me. You know?”

No,” Ben said flatly, reclaiming his personal space before little Ben decided to steal the show. He shifted on the bench, turning more toward his locker, hoping the renewed lack of interest would put Brown off enough to make him get up and walk away. It didn’t work. Brown didn’t budge. “Look, I just wanna go to the gym and go home.” Exasperation dripped from Ben’s voice. He couldn’t help it, didn’t care to help it. Brown needed to know he was seriously pushing his luck and trying the shit out of Ben’s patience.

Then let me work out with you.”

Dammit. Ben sighed. “I prefer working out alone.”

Then tell me to go the fuck away.”

Brow furrowing, Ben turned a pointed stare on his tormenter. He couldn’t believe Brown actually said that. He couldn’t believe how aggravated Brown sounded.

What the hell is your problem?” Ben asked.

How the hell can you be so oblivious?”

Book Info

Dearly Stalked: by Allison Cassatta
Release Date: January 23, 2017
Pages: 266 • Format: e-Book
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerBarnes & NobleAmazon

Writing crime novels catapulted Memphis native Silas Cooper to fame and fortune, but when his words backfire and he becomes trapped in what could be one of his books, he needs a hero of his own.


Silas’s publicist insists he hire a personal assistant, and Silas chooses Scott Kramer. But before Scott starts, he already has a round of steamy phone sex to hold over Silas’s head, and his interest in his boss isn’t decreasing.

Benjamin Logan joined the Army to see the world, and while deployed he read every one of Silas’s books. With his military career over, Ben is back in Memphis working for the police department—and attempting a deeply closeted relationship with fellow cop Morgan Brown.

Over coffee, Silas and Ben become friends who support each other as relationships fall apart, and the attraction between them slowly emerges. When a dangerous stalker threatens Silas, it’s up to Ben to stop him.

If Ben fails, Silas might not live to tell this story… and Ben might not be able to live with himself.

 

Author Info

I am a married, 33 year old, female, with no children. By trade I am a network engineer with far too many years under my belt. My first book was published in 2010 by Kerlak Publishing, followed by a short story in 2011 through Dreamspinner Press. I don’t have any formal training, I simply write what I feel. I have a vivid imagination and love building dream worlds for my readers to escape to.

I recently discovered that I am a hopeless romantic and that usually makes for some very turbulent stories. As most know, love is a mountain and at its peak there’s infinite beauty, but it’s best appreciated after a difficult climb… that’s how I write. The world would be a boring place if we didn’t have to fight a little for what we wanted, now wouldn’t it. Allison can be reached at the following places:

Google+ – https://plus.google.com/101105647923210482296

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/allison.cassatta.page/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/allisoncassatta

Pinterest – https://www.pinterest.com/allisoncassatta/

Tumblr – http://allisoncassatta.tumblr.com/

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/allisoncassatta/

Blog – http://allisoncassatta.blogspot.com/

 

∗∗∗∗Giveaway∗∗∗∗

Comment below for a chance to win $10 Dreamspinner Gift Certificate

 

Guest Post & Giveaway with Hunter Frost

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Hunter Frost to the blog. She’s a first time author here and let’s give her a warm welcome! Today she stops by with an exclusive excerpt from her newest release Cemeteries by Moonlight out tomorrow everywhere. She also comes baring gifts. She is giving away a $20 Amazon Gift card! Don’t forget to join in the fun!

Exclusive Excerpt

“Drew.” He clapped me on the shoulder but left his hand there as I leaned against the headboard. “These last three days have been horrific, haven’t they?”

“Indeed.” It was strange to be openly having tics in front of him. I tried not to feel self-conscious, but it was impossible when he looked at me like that. Like he couldn’t care less that my body had a mind of its own.

As silence fell over us, I realized how close he was and how naked I

was under the sheets.

Tension hung in the air.

“Last night in the alley,” he began, finally breaking the quiet. “Was it

wrong to kiss you?”

Shit. I let the question sink in for second before I answered. “No.”

His reply was hesitant. “Then pourquoi—”

“Because I like you,” I said, rubbing the back of my neck.

His sweet grin sparkled in the moonlight. “I don’t get it. Did you stop

me because I was drunk?”

I took a long deep breath.

He squeezed my shoulder encouragingly.

Finn wasn’t stupid, that’s for sure. But I had to make him understand. “You don’t realize how Tourette’s has messed with me. And you don’t know what it’s like to deal with every day.”

“Drew, I like you too.” He covered my hand with his. “A lot. And if it’s part of you, I want to get to know it.”

“It,” I repeated and sighed. “You say that now.”

“You think I’m that shallow?”

“Not at all. I just know how it is. I wouldn’t subject anyone to it by choice.” “You’re making it sound like you’re hideously disfigured and lasers shoot out of your eyeballs without warning.”

“This is worse!” I pulled my hand from under his and flipped my arm over. “It’s random and painful and intrusive. Imagine knowing your body is doing these freakish things that make people think you’re some kind of mental case, but ultimately having no way of controlling it. My childhood was sad. No one wanted to be my friend, and I spent most of my time hiding from the outside world. It made me lonely and angry and I hoped the cure would be to cut myself every time I had a tic.” I showed him my arms, covered in scars. “All it did was give me another thing to hide.”

Finn made a soft sound in the back of his throat. “Drew….” His voice was barely a whisper. He held my arm, sweeping his gaze over it. I didn’t like him staring at my imperfections, but the compassion in his eyes left me unable to move.

He brought my hand up and kissed the inside of my wrist, over the raised and puckered skin of the scars. I would have shivered if I hadn’t been so shocked. But then he kept going, kissing his way down the inside of my arm, his lips warm and firm and tender on my flesh.

I must have made a noise, for he paused to look up at me, his gray eyes soft. “This okay?”

I managed to nod. He made me dizzy with need.

“Tourette’s doesn’t make you any less attractive to me. Since I saw you standing there in my living room, I haven’t been able to get your blue eyes out of my head. You’re sexy, Drew.” He took my hand in both of his and massaged my palm.

“You’re kidding.” Pull the other one.

He shook his head, and I could see a slight tint to his cheeks. “I love the way you look at me. Like I’m a bowl of bread pudding from Commander’s Palace.”

This time my cheeks burned and I turned away.

He grabbed my chin and turned my face back to him. “I said, I loved it.”

That only made me blush more. But since we were on the subject. “I’m obsessed with your dagger tattoo. I’ve been curious to find out where it ends, with my tongue.”

Finn whimpered. “Oh shit… c’est chaud.”

“Did you just say ‘that’s hot’?”

He nodded and fanned himself.

I smiled.

His lips parted a bit. “Um, do you have tics during….” He looked away and then down at our hands. “You know.”

I smirked, and my cock twitched at the suggestion. Was he asking about sex? “Sometimes. But usually if I’m concentrating or focused, I hardly tic at all.” I eyed him. “Why?”

He ran a finger over the back of my hand. “Because I really want to kiss you, and touch you, and… I don’t want you to tic and think I’m going to run away. I won’t. Je l’ai promis.”

 

Book Information

Cemeteries by Moonlight: by Hunter Frost
Series: States of Love
Release Date: January 18th, 2017
Pages: 108 • Format: eARC
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonBarnes & Noble

When a serious bout of writer’s block threatens to delay mystery author Drew Daniels’s newest book, his aunt offers her New Orleans apartment in the heart of the French Quarter as a writing retreat. She neglects to mention that it’s occupied by the enigmatic and sexy Finn Murphy, a cemetery tour guide with a penchant for Victorian attire and a Cajun accent.

A body discovered in an open crypt forces reclusive Drew to deal with Finn’s eccentric group of friends and his underlying attraction to the hot Cajun—despite warnings about Finn’s violent past. Drew might write this stuff, but he’s never had to solve a real-life murder. With a deadline looming and a killer on the loose, this retreat is proving to be anything but helpful for Drew’s novel. Drew can only hope he won’t end up a tragic tale for the Ghostly Legends & Lore, Inc. haunted tour. 

States of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the United States.

 

Author Bio

Hunter’s early addiction to the smell of printed books led her to spend most of her childhood in libraries and bookstores. There she fell in love with stories featuring medieval castles, ghosts, and handsome heroes. Though writing has always been a part of her life, after college she went on to explore careers in graphic design, the culinary arts, and dog grooming before returning to graduate school to get her MA in British history. To pay the bills she spends her days working for the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, but to appease her overactive muse, she writes the kind of fiction that keeps her sane. She adores romance in all forms, but prefers her stories with two heroes that find their happily-ever-after with each other.

Hunter would rather watch Spaceballs (or any Mel Brooks movies really), despite being born in the same year as Star Wars. She loves Monty Python, MST3K, and cheesy rom-coms from the ’80s and ’90s. Her wacky sense of humor is only paralleled by her hopeless romanticism. She’s a goth at heart and a sucker for men with long hair. She adores everything British, but insists tea be drunk without milk. She’s a pescetarian with vegan tendencies and has two fat little cats named after her favorite beverage – Latte and Java. She dreams of coastal living, marshmallows, and Matt Bomer.

Feel free to connect with her through any of her social media accounts, or send her an email. She welcomes messages from readers and/or Brits looking to adopt. Hunter can be reached at the following places

E-mail: hunter@hunterfrost.net

Website: www.hunterfrost.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/hunterfrostMM

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/@hunterfrostmm

Pinterest: https://www.pinterest.com/hunterfrost75/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/hunterfrostmm/

 

 ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗Giveaway ∗ ∗ ∗ ∗

$20 Amazon Gift card
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Guest Post & Giveaway with Bonnie Dee

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Bonnie Dee to the blog. Today she is here to talk about her upcoming release “The Might Have Fallen” out January 18, 2016 . Please give her a big welcome and thanks for coming! Comment below to win a $10 Gift Certificate from Dreamspinner Press!

 

I’m happy to be here at On My Shelves to share my new release, The Mighty Have Fallen. I’m Bonnie Dee and my name is usually associated with the historicals I write with Summer Devon, as well as some solo works. Taking a break from the manners and customs of yesteryear, I decided to write a story set in modern day London.

Dreamspinner Press had a call for submissions around the theme of fame and power. Being a contrarian, I was immediately drawn to the idea of the loss of both those things and how it would affect a man. And since I was going to hurl disaster at my protagonist, why not give him heaps of loss all at once. The little novella quickly sprawled into something longer. The manuscript was ultimately accepted into Dreamspinner’s new Perchance to Dream line, helmed by UK editors who gave my story more authenticity.

Theater headliner Trevor Rowland is at the peak of his career when disaster strikes. In one fell swoop, he loses his eyesight, his fame, and his boyfriend, who absconds with most of his money. Trevor must take on a flatmate, hardworking East Ender Jack Burrows, to afford the rent. Anger and bitterness have taken up residence in his heart—but Jack shines light into the shadowy corners with his relentlessly sunny disposition.

Jack introduces Trevor to a local drag club and convinces him he can enjoy the stage again. Trevor’s defenses slowly come down as Jack becomes much more than a barely tolerated roommate.

But will Trevor’s fragile trust be destroyed when it appears he’s been manipulated yet again by a man he’s come to care for? Will he reclaim his life or crawl back into a shell of defeat? Trevor must learn to trust not only a man, but himself, once more.

On my blog tour for The Mighty Have Fallen, I’ve chatted about writing historical versus contemporary and about describing scenes using Trevor’s other senses. Today I thought I’d tell a little about my writing process. I start with a kernel of an idea with some thought about what the main character(s) must learn during the story. I usually launch into it without being quite certain how those lessons will be learned. As the work progresses and I get to know the characters better, I’ll know what actions they need to take on their journey. But quite often I struggle in the third act to figure out what exactly that dark moment that tears the lovers apart ought to be and what brings them back together. Sometimes I call on author friends to read what I have and throw out ideas. Sometimes a character says that reveals what has to happen to bring everything to a head. I’d rather write intimate moments and pillow talk than anything else. Leave the knotty parts of plotting to someone else. But somehow it always comes together and I’m able to finish.

Here’s an exclusive, sexy excerpt from The Mighty Have Fallen.

In the year and a half since his illness and Barry’s defection, which had coincided in a perfect storm of disaster, he’d lost any desire for sex. Now, as Jack slid on a condom, Trevor’s body shook awake and recalled it was still young, vital, and very neglected. When Jack’s mouth covered his cock, Trevor tried to hold still, but he couldn’t keep himself from thrusting into that warmth.

More, more, more, his body clamored.

Jack’s hands seemed to be everywhere at once, rubbing his thigh, cupping his balls, sliding a finger from his scrotum to his entrance and probing lightly, while stroking his shaft in a strong rhythm. This perfect symphony of movement included a mouth that licked and sucked his shaft, making the tension in his groin mount inexorably.

Trevor’s climax seized him too quickly and unexpectedly. He rode the high as he’d once floated on the thunderous applause of an audience—a few moments of perfect, undiluted joy and satisfaction.

Oh yes, this was something he could definitely still do.

He opened his eyes, half expecting to look into Jack’s eyes watching him from down below. But still only a fog bank met his gaze. A flicker of that trapped, claustrophobic feeling returned. In the early days of his blindness, Trevor had wanted to rip out his offending eyes or run screaming from the cage of his body. Panic attacks had been common. Now he slowed his breathing, reined in his frantic mind, and the looming anxiety subsided.

“Fantastic!” he said as Jack moved to stretch out beside him again.

Now what? He supposed Jack would withdraw to his own room and that would be the end of that. Wasn’t that how one-night stands were meant to end?

“Mind if I lie ’ere awhile?” Jack murmured. “Yer bed’s really comfy and mine’s crap—all lumpy.”

“That’d be fine.” Trevor tried to suppress a burst of happiness far out of proportion to Jack’s offer to stay. What they’d done meant nothing—just two men seeking a little pleasure and comfort from each other for a single night. They’d be back to normal by tomorrow.

He closed his eyes and settled into the warmth of Jack’s body, while Jack draped a heavy arm over him, anchoring Trevor to his side.

Book Info

The Mighty Have Fallen: by Bonnie Dee
Release Date: January 18, 2016
Pages: 112 • Format: e-book
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerBarnes & NobleKobo • Amazon

Theatre headliner Trevor Rowland is at the peak of his career when disaster strikes. In one fell swoop, he loses his eyesight, his fame, and his boyfriend, who absconds with most of his money. Trevor must take on a flatmate, hardworking East Ender Jack Burrows, to afford the rent. Anger and bitterness have taken up residence in his heart—but Jack shines light into the shadowy corners with his relentlessly sunny disposition.

Jack introduces Trevor to a local drag club and convinces him he can enjoy the stage again. Trevor’s defences slowly come down as Jack becomes much more than a barely tolerated roommate.

But will Trevor’s fragile trust be destroyed when it appears he’s been manipulated yet again by a man he’s come to care for? Will he reclaim his life or crawl back into a shell of defeat? Trevor must learn to trust not only a man, but himself, once more.

Author Bio

You can learn more about me, Bonnie Dee, and my back list of many romance books at http://bonniedee.com. Find me on FB at Bonnie Dee Author or Bonnie Dee. My Twitter handle is @Bonnie_Dee. I’m not the most active social media person but I turn up occasionally. Most importantly, please take a moment to sign up for my newsletter to learn of upcoming releases. Newsletter signup form

Guest Post & Giveaway with Lou Slyvre

Oh My Shelves welcomes Lou Slyvre to the blog with Holiday Cheer and A Giveaway. Her newest release Falling Snow on Snow is out December 23rd. Don’t forget to follow the blog tour, comment below and enter the Giveaway!

 

Falling Snow On Snow: by Lou Sylvre
Release Date: December 23rd, 2016
Pages: 79 • Format: eBook
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonBarnes & NobleKoboIndigo Books

Beck Justice knows holiday sparkle and snappy carols only mask December’s cruel, black heart. He learned that lesson even before he landed on the streets eight years ago, and his recent step up to a tiny apartment and a busker’s permit for Seattle’s Pike Place Market has done nothing to change his mind. But one day in the market, Oleg Abramov joins his ethereal voice to Beck’s guitar, and Beck glimpses light in his bleak, dark winter.

Oleg, lucky to have a large and loving family, believes Beck could be the man to fill the void that nevertheless remains in his life. The two men step out on a path toward love, but it proves as slippery as Seattle’s icy streets. Just when they get close, a misunderstanding shatters their hopes. Light and harmony are still within reach, but only if they choose to believe, risk their hearts, and trust.

Hi! Lou Sylvre here, very happy to have a spot on Oh My Shelves for the first time ever! This is stop two on my “official” tour for Falling Snow on Snow, a holiday novella releasing in three days from Dreamspinner Press. I’m excited about this book—mostly because I admittedly love the characters. I interviewed MC Beck Justice over at MM Good Book Reviews on December 16, so today I thought we might like to get to know Oleg. He was a little reluctant to talk, so I got some other people involved, too.

Character Interview

I’ll start with the only question Oleg would answer. Do you think the romance you and Beck Justice have will last? I mean, it’s brand new. Is he your one and only, and if so, how do you know?

Ms. Sylvre, don’t pretend you don’t know. You’ve seen me with Beck. You know how hard I’ve fallen for him. And yes, I think it will last. Remember what you wrote about my mom and dad’s example?

Oleg’s mother had done her best to instill in her children a belief in the miracle of love at first sight. It had happened for her. She’d been a rising star at the Moscow Conservatory of Music when she’d seen his father perform at a wedding. They’d become devoted to each other within days, married within months, and through all their years—and despite all she’d let go of for a poor Jewish boy—she’d never once regretted her choice.

And it’s almost like it was fate for us to meet anyway. That day in the market, it was only chance that led me past while he was playing, and maybe I wouldn’t even have noticed if it hadn’t been that particular song, “In the Bleak Midwinter” is one of the winter songs I love best—to sing, I mean—and his music, the chords and patterns yes, but mostly the depth of it, the… I guess it was loneliness, or longing I heard. I felt compelled to join him. And it was all like that, chance meetings. It could have gone so wrong. But… anyway. Yes. I believe our love will hold true.

After that, Oleg thought he’d said more than enough, so I found his oldest sister, Lara, in her photography studio, which is at the family home in Greenwood—a middle class neighborhood in Seattle. I asked her what she would want the world to know about Oleg, particularly since she’s always been protective of him.

Ah, well… yes. I’ve always tried to look out for him. He is so much younger than the rest of us, you know. Such a little boy when we came from Russia. The rest of us, we all still keep our roots in culture from our home—not because we choose that, so much as because we can’t help it. It is who we are. But Olejka, he’s different. He’s in two worlds, you might say. And sometimes I think he’s two people. (She laughs, and it is a delightful sound!) No, no. I don’t really mean that, but always, even when he was little, he was quiet and thoughtful, but with a wild streak.

I know you wrote about how I tried to hide him so he wouldn’t have to go to kindergarten when he was a boy. I was so silly, but I was just a kid too. Even so, I worried for him, going to school. I was afraid the kids would be mean because he’s so… soft, in a way. But then I worried too what if that wild streak comes out? Then he would really get in trouble. It was not useful, my “helping,” and he did fine in school most of the time. But even after he grew up… You know, going out, he called it. Men… strangers. I’m so glad now he has Beck, because, well I don’t want to speculate on their private lives, but I imagine that tall, strong guitar player might give him an outlet for that wild streak, if you know what I mean.

Lara has to tend to her work, so I leave her in the darkroom and am on my way out of the house when I run into Andrei Abramov, Oleg’s father. He seems a rather self-contained man, and studious, with glasses and an absent-professor look to him. He’s just shown one of his music students to the door, and when he turns, he looks surprised to see me. After a greeting, he surprises me when he just starts talking. Lara’s accent was mild and musical, but Andrei’s is thick, though subtly different from what I think of as a Russian sound. I listen carefully, and after just a few words, I’m able to understand him without trouble.

You’re here to talk about my son, Oleg, yes? He is very precious to us, you know. He was always small, not so robust as a babe, and in Moscow we struggled to keep him healthy. We didn’t have much. It was very hard on the children and my wife, whom I miss so much. Mostly, it was hard because of me, because I’m Jewish, and she gave up everything to marry me. We came here to America, and it got easier, after a while, though many of our fellow refugees didn’t fare so well. Oleg grew strong, and that was a blessing. Then we learned he was gay, as you say, and again we gave thanks we were here, not in Russia. Not long after we came here, my brother, both gay and Jewish disappeared from Moscow—or at least we’ve been unable to find him. Possibly he’s in prison, or dead. Oleg, he is so much like that brother of mine, one who loves men, looks like him, too. But Oleg, he has been safe here—free to be the person he was born to be. But now I worry, these politics, these changes I see all around. I know Beck is a good man, and he will do good by my son. But I worry for their future. Do you not?

I tell Andrei that yes, I do worry, yet I have hope, and encourage him to hold on to the same. I’m very surprised when he sees me to the door and then hugs me in farewell. I step out into the rain—it’s a cold pelt today, coming down hard enough to feel like ice. As I step out on the paved walkway heading for the street, Beck comes striding toward me, and when we meet, he greets me warmly, with that great big smile of his. We chat about weather and such for a moment and then I ask him, “What are four of your favorite things about Oleg?”

Four! Hard to choose, but I’ll try.

  • His smile—it’s never the same, it says so much without him having to add words, and it’s always from the heart.
  • His voice, of course. My god, there could not possibly be an angel who could sing more wondrously.
  • I love the way he’s so very practical, always sees the way to get something done, but it never gets in the way of the part of his fun-loving side.
  • This is a little personal. (He blushes.) But when we make love, he gives himself so… consciously, yet with complete abandon, and I always know it’s me, he’s loving. Nothing random or habitual about it. Every moment, every motion, every look and word and touch, they each matter to him more than anything else in the world—and so it’s that way for me, too.

But there’s so much more to Oleg than I could put in a list. You just have to know the man, Lou. Then you love him. That’s just the way it is.

I thank Beck, but we’re both freezing, standing out in the winter rain, so he trots up to the door, and I run out to the curb where my car awaits. I’m glad I got to talk to Oleg’s family. He’s a guy worth getting to know, I think—and I hope you agree! If you haven’t read Falling Snow on Snow and you’d like to, it’s up for preorder now. And don’t forget the rafflecopter giveaway, with a couple of chances to win the book, and more.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks, Tamika, for hosting me, and thanks, everybody, for reading! I’ve got a number of stops coming up on the tour, and I hope you’ll join me. Here’s the schedule and links.

 

Author Bio

Lou Sylvre lives and writes on the rainy side of Washington State, penning mostly suspense/romance novels because she can’t resist giving her characters hard times but good love. Her personal assistant is Boudreau, a large cat who never outgrew his kitten meow, and he makes a point of letting her know when she’s taken a plot tangent too far. Apparently an English major, he helps a lot, but Lou refuses to put his name on the byline. (Boudreau invites readers to give their feedback as well!) When Lou isn’t writing, she’s reading fiction from nearly every genre, romance in all its tints and shades, and the occasional book about history, physics, or police procedure. Not zombies, though—she avoids zombies like the plague unless they have a great sense of humor. She plays guitar (mostly where people can’t hear her) and she loves to sing. She’s most often smiling and laughs too much, some say. Among other things and in no particular order, she loves her family, her friends, the aforementioned Boudreau, his sister George, and their little brother Nibbles, a chihuahua named Joe, a dachshund named Chloe, and a slew of chihuahua/dachshund puppies. She takes pleasure in coffee, chocolate, sunshine, gardens, wild roses, and every beautiful thing in the world. You can contact here at any of these spots:

Blog:http://www.sylvre.rainbow-gate.com
Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/AuthorLouSylvre
Twitter:https://twitter.com/Sylvre
Goodreads:http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4873260.Lou_Sylvre
Email:mailto:lou.sylvre@gmail.com

Guest Post & Giveaway with A.J. Rose

Oh My Shelves welcomes A.J. Rose to the blog she shares the inspiration for her newest release Defenseless, available from The Grim Writer Press on September 13, 2016. Please welcome A.J. Rose to the blog, and she leaves an excerpt to follow. Comment below for a chance to win an e-book copy of winner’s choice!!! 

On September 11, 2014, two men in the heart of Philadelphia’s Gayborhood were attacked because they’re gay. The three attackers, part of a larger group of fifteen, consisted of two men, Kevin Harrigan and Philip Williams, and one woman, Kathryn Knott. One of the victims, Andrew Haught, spent five days in the hospital with facial fractures and had his jaw wired shut for eight weeks. His boyfriend, Zachary Hesse, suffered bruising and cuts. Haught and Hesse were in an area of Philadelphia where they felt safe. Where they thought they could hold hands without fear of being sneered at or targeted. And yet they were.

From the start of the news coverage, this case held me captivated. Horrified in the beginning at the extent of the injury suffered by one of those attacked, I was also gratified to see the outpouring of support for the victims on social media. The police sought help from the public in identifying the attackers from surveillance video, and within hours, Twitter and Facebook sleuths had narrowed down the group of fifteen out on the town for a friend’s birthday, and within days, the three responsible were identified and charged.

As the case went on and we learned more about the three attackers (information about the victims was sparse and rightly so, as their privacy became paramount to their recovery), I’d like to say I was surprised by the behavior of the perps, but I wasn’t. Well, I shouldn’t say that. The two guys, Harrigan and Williams, I wasn’t surprised by them. I’ve seen their brand of bigotry played out over and over in the news and on social media.

Kathryn Knott, however, did surprise me. She was a nurse (until her employer fired her when they discovered she’d violated HIPAA laws by posting confidential patient information on Twitter of all places). She was supposed to care for the sick and injured, not be responsible for inflicting injuries. Then we found out her father was a police chief, and my gut sank. She’s going to get out of this, I all but convinced myself.

In that moment, the idea for Defenseless was born. I often wondered, during the updates on the case—including the sweet plea deal Harrigan and Williams agreed to that kept them out of jail—how the two men bashed were doing, what had gone through Zachary’s mind as he watched them beat his boyfriend Andrew in front of him, what the days immediately following the attack were like. Had they been out to their parents or was this the first they’d learned their sons were in love with each other? Were Andrew and Zachary surrounded by friends who would love them through it? What sort of emotional fallout would they face?
As Kathryn Knott, the only one to refuse a plea, went to trial, I was riveted. Having grown up with a lawyer for a father, who watched CourTV in his spare time (I remember doing a puzzle at the kitchen table while the JFK Jr. rape trial played in the background), I absorbed quite a bit of law-based knowledge just by being around conversations my dad and mom had at the dinner table (at least the things he was allowed to discuss, anyway). So I knew how the trial was going without having to read legal analysis. It didn’t look good for Kathryn. Colluding witnesses, testimony from eyewitnesses with no personal stake who contradicted her statement to the police, and her damning Twitter history of bigoted slur-filled tweets all pointed to her getting convicted of two counts of aggravated assault, two counts of simple assault, two counts of reckless endangerment, and one count of criminal conspiracy. For a case I never expected to see the inside of a courtroom, I was on tenterhooks waiting for the outcome.

Then the jury returned with a guilty verdict, but reduced the most serious charges from aggravated to simple assault, and Kathryn Knott would, at best, face months in a county jail. Months. Maybe even less time than Andrew Haught’s jaw was wired shut. Legal experts debated whether the judge would make an example out of Knott and impose the max sentence allowed, or let her off with probation and community service in lieu of jail time. But to me, justice had already failed.

That’s when I began writing Defenseless, a story of two men in a supposedly safe environment bashed for whom they love. Kyle and Jesse are not Andrew Haught and Zachary Hesse, and yet they are. Kyle and Jesse are embraced by loved ones no matter what and also judged by loved ones for their orientation. Kyle and Jesse are closeted, and out and proud. They are gay and bisexual, and they are my wife and me. They are every kid who’s ever feared coming out, and every adult who’s ever said, “It gets better.” They are those who’ve been accepted, and those who’ve been rejected. They are us. We are them.

The good thing about writing fiction is I get to decide the outcome, and even if it’s make-believe, I get to represent the victims—no, the survivors—in Kyle and Jesse’s story. I had the privilege of telling their story to the best of my ability. I hope I did them justice, not only by respecting their survival of that moment and the fallout, but by honoring them, too. And I hope those who read the book feel, even if it’s fiction, that justice was served.

Excerpt from Defenseless

Their trek to the courthouse was made in stoic silence, neither of them feeling comfortable talking about the trial in front of work commuters, and nothing else took precedence over their thoughts. Despite having to run a gauntlet of reporters outside the courthouse, they went through the metal detectors with little trouble. Schultz and Lamott led them to a small room used primarily by attorneys for privacy with clients or witnesses. Once the door was shut, Schultz eyed them.

“Your testimonies yesterday were spot on, and I think Walsh stepped in it by going after you so hard, Jesse. He came across as a brute with no sympathy for the injuries you suffered, and I think the jury is most definitely aware of that. In the media, there’s a lot of backlash about victim blaming, and by trying to play up how much you two drank that day, Walsh fell right into that. It’s a definite clue on the type of defense they plan to mount, and I want you to be aware of it, because even though you’re not on the stand anymore, you are in full view of the jury. Your facial expressions and body language will be analyzed by them, and that can’t be helped.”

“Okay,” Kyle said. “Any advice?”

“Keep as neutral an expression as you can,” Lamott said, squeezing Kyle’s elbow. “It’ll be hard, but you have to. If you look angry, you’ll play into the defense’s tactics, and the jury could wonder if maybe you provoked the defendants with the same attitude the day of the attack.”

Jesse rolled his eyes, but nodded anyway. “I’ll do my best.”

Schultz said, “That’s all we can ask, and it’s why I’m warning you now, so your immediate reaction remains private. The defense they’re planning to mount is what’s generally known as a gay panic defense, which is actually illegal in California. Basically, by stating one or both of you made sexual advances toward the defendants, one or all of them snapped and felt the need to defend themselves against you.”

Kyle went cold from his scalp to his toes, while beside him, Jesse exploded. “Are you fucking kidding me?” Kyle took Jesse’s hand, both to ground himself and keep Jesse from a more fiery outburst.

“I wish I were,” Schultz continued as though Jesse’s reaction was exactly what he expected. “Kyle, you’re a little pale. Why don’t you sit down?”

Jesse went from angry to concerned in an instant, and pulled out a chair for Kyle, then stood behind him, kneading his shoulders as Schultz went on.

“Between victim blaming and this farce of a defense, it’s about the best they can come up with against the evidence and witnesses we have. If they can convince the jury that either of you came on to the defendants, or drank enough to otherwise provoke them, they believe the jury will have enough doubt in their minds to obligate them into a not guilty verdict. But I want you to keep in mind two things. We have a portion of the attack on cell phone video, which clearly shows the fight’s escalation falling squarely on the defendants’ shoulders. Second, we have Parker Harris, who will be testifying to the defendants’ behavior prior to their crossing your path that night. The defense will do everything they can to discredit him, but we’re well prepared for that.”

Kyle focused on the heft of Jesse’s hands on his shoulders rather than the anger and despair threatening to swamp him. Jesse spoke his thoughts perfectly.

“How do they get away with such a shitty defense if it’s illegal in at least one state?”

Lamott crossed her arms. “Because it’s not illegal in Illinois and has actually worked as recently as 2011 to acquit a man charged with murder. But that was a different crime, different time, and different charges. We’re warning you up front so you’re not sucker-punched, and because Walsh’s tactics will be much more subtle in front of a jury. This isn’t to say we aren’t prepared to counter their argument. Not at all.”

Schultz asked, “Are you going to have too much trouble maintaining your composure? There’s a closed-circuit camera room where you can watch out of sight of the jury if necessary.”

Jesse’s refusal was vehement. “No, we can handle it.”

“There’s no shame in giving yourselves distance,” Lamott said. “Better the jury not see you at all than see you stewing in your seat.”

“I’m good, I promise,” Jesse said, voice steely.

“Kyle?” Schultz focused on him. Kyle looked up, took a fortifying breath, and nodded. “Okay. Today’s going to be tough. There’s nothing that says you have to remain in the courtroom. If you think you can’t stay, it would be better to wait for a break, but if you need to leave immediately, do it with as little disruption as possible.” Schultz moved toward the door. “You have about twenty minutes before they call us into session. Take a moment to compose yourselves, and we’ll see you in there.” He and Lamott left.

Jesse bent to kiss the top of Kyle’s head, then took the seat beside him and rested his chin on Kyle’s shoulder.

“You going to be okay?” Kyle asked him.

“Yeah. I’m more worried about you.”

“Why?”

“Because I’ve had more practice keeping my temper in check. Your therapy is much less extensive than mine.”

Kyle gave him a self-deprecating smile. “I’ll be okay, as long as you’re next to me.”

“Then we’ll be each other’s strength.” Jesse grinned. “You look hot in your suit.”

Kyle snorted. “We may need to get another one for each of us, so it doesn’t look like these are the only ones we own.”
Jesse nuzzled the side of his face. “Could be fun.”

They spent ten more minutes in the quiet room, gearing up to face the trial. Kyle had thought the day they’d give their testimony would be the most difficult. Obviously, he’d underestimated the time the defense would paint them as terrible people, but as long as he could hold Jesse’s hand, and feel their friends and his brother near them, he’d be all right.

Book Information & Blurb

ajroseTitle:Defenseless by
Release Date: September 13, 2016
Pages:438 • Format:Kindle Edition
Published By: The Grim Writer Press
Purchase Links:
AmazonARe

Kyle Decker knew dating Jesse McGovern would change his life. Young and in love, and with the Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality, the world is theirs to conquer.

But their victorious Pride celebration ends in a savage attack, brutally demonstrating they’re far from equal. Instead of wedding planning, Jesse and Kyle face an arduous recovery and a shattered sense of their place in the world, their once-promising future suddenly something to survive.

While Jesse struggles with a permanent injury and its emotional aftermath, Kyle’s single-minded focus on Jesse’s recovery is the only thing keeping his demons at bay…for now. What was a once-in-a-lifetime kind of love is now full of lies and resentment.

With their dreams tattered and forever changed, trusting anyone—even each other—is daunting. So how can they have faith in twelve strangers on a jury? They’ve already learned the hard way it only takes a moment to become truly defenseless.

∗∗∗∗Giveaway∗∗∗∗

Comment below for a chance to win an e-book copy of any choice from A.J. Rose.

About A.J. Rose

I talk to imaginary people, speak of events that didn’t happen. I tell lies. Also known as fiction, of the gay erotic variety.

Guest Post + Giveaway with Avon Gale

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Oh My Shelves welcomes author Avon Gale to the blog to share an exclusive excerpt from her new story, Empty net, Available from Dreamspinner Press September 2, 2016. She’s also giving away a copy of Power Play, the Third Book in the Scoring Chance Series!

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Blurb:

Spartanburg Spitfires’ goalie and captain Isaac Drake ended last season with an unexpected trip to the playoffs. He’s found a home and family with his coach and mentor, Misha Samarin, and he’s looking forward to making a serious run for the Kelly Cup. But things take an interesting turn when Isaac’s archnemesis, Laurent St. Savoy, is traded to the Spitfires. After Laurent’s despicable behavior in the playoffs last year, Isaac wants nothing to do with him – no matter how gorgeous he is. But that changes when Isaac discovers the reason for Laurent’s attitude.

Laurent St. Savoy grew up the only son of a legendary NHL goalie in a household rife with abuse, constantly treated like a disappointment on and off the ice. When a desperate attempt to escape his father’s tyranny sends him to the Spitfires, the last thing Laurent wants is to make friends. But there’s something about Isaac Drake that he can’t resist, and Laurent has an opportunity to explore his sexuality for the first time, but he’s cracking under end-of-the season pressures. When facing the playoffs and a rivalry turned personal vendetta, Isaac’s not sure he’s enough to hold Laurent—or their relationship—together.

Please be advised: This book does contain some non-graphic references to past childhood physical/emotional abuse as well as issues relating to ED (bulimia and restricted eating, disordered thoughts about eating)

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On the first day of camp, the room fell into a hostile silence the moment Laurent walked in. He could feel his new teammates’ icy stares as he made his way to his locker.
Someone had written St. Dickhead on his nameplate. Cute.
Hazing the new guy happened in every locker room, but Laurent knew it was more than that. It was a statement that said “we hate you” and “we liked watching you fail in the conference finals.” In addition to the new nameplate, someone had posted a picture of him from the end of the game in Asheville, when the Ravens were swept by the Storm. The words “spit on this” were inked in red over his face.
His first time on the ice with his new team went about as well as he expected. During goalie drills he found himself on the receiving end of more than a few snow showers, and when the coaches weren’t looking, a few of his new teammates pretended to spit on him. Laurent was good at not reacting, so he just kept his mouth shut and tried to do his job.
Matt Huxley, the team’s enforcer, took a shot that came close to hitting Laurent in the face—and earned himself a whistle and a stern talking-to from the coaches. Laurent saw him fist-bump Shawn Murphy when he didn’t think anyone would notice. Those two were Drake’s best friends, and Laurent supposed he couldn’t blame them for wanting to make him suffer for that incident last season.He thought about apologizing for it, but he didn’t. No one wanted to hear it anyway.
No one spoke a word to him when practice was over. Laurent could hear Drake, talking and laughing like Laurent wasn’t there. It made him angry, but he didn’t know why. He didn’t want anyone to like him. And at least when practice was over, he could go back to his apartment. That was the best thing about living in Spartanburg, and it was worth the intensity of his new teammates’ dislike.
Laurent’s apartment was one of two located on the top floor of a partially renovated Victorian-
style house. The owner, Mrs. Bowen, lived downstairs. She was old, hard of hearing, and couldn’t say any part of Laurent’s name. But she gave him a hot plate and let him move in a week before he had his housing allowance, which was the nicest thing anyone had done for Laurent—ever, probably. The apartment itself was a furnished studio with a surprisingly large bed, a bay window that let in way too much light in the morning, and creaky floors. It had a radiator for heat and a window-unit AC, a bathroom with a sink that dripped, and an honest-to- God claw-foot tub with a shower. It had clearly been a large bedroom with an en suite bath before it was converted into an apartment.
The kitchenette was definitely out of place, but it had a fridge, a microwave, and now the hot
plate. Mrs. Bowen had offered to let him use her oven, but Laurent doubted that would ever be necessary. It wasn’t his room at home with his king-size bed and soft plush carpeting, but it was his. And best of all, his father wasn’t lurking downstairs like a Leviathan, stewing in his usual discontent and anger until his son gave him a convenient outlet for whatever pissed him off that day. Laurent had never understood where his father’s seemingly endless anger came from. Denis St. Savoy was a famous, hugely successful goalie who’d had a long and celebrated career. What he had to be upset about was a mystery to Laurent.
Once he’d put his clothes away on the lavender-scented, padded purple hangers Mrs. Bowen had so thoughtfully provided in the closet, he showered, changed, and went to explore the neighborhood. That’s when he found Charlie’s Comic Shop.
Laurent loved comics, and he loved drawing, and hidden under a stack of sweaters he hoped he’d never need to wear was a sketchbook with some of his own artwork. His father had flown into a rage when he found Laurent drawing as a child, and Laurent had hidden his sketchbooks ever since. They were shoved in a bottom drawer in the rickety old dresser, even in his own apartment. He spent an hour or so in the comic shop, and he was looking forward to reading a few of his purchases when he got home. But instead he found himself sitting at the small kitchen table with his sketchbook, some freshly sharpened pencils, and his kneaded eraser. And for the next few hours, he lost himself in the quiet scratch of his pencil and the lines taking shape on the page.
They were sketches of his teammates—there were the defensemen, Matt Huxley and Shawn Murphy, who flanked Drake like bodyguards and shot Laurent nasty glares at every possible moment. He drew Coach Samarin, tall and imposing, who reminded Laurent of the Witch King from the Lord of the Rings movie, and Coach Ashford, all-American and everyone’s best friend, easy with a smile or a word of praise, or a correction when he thought it necessary—or, when he thought no one was looking—a smile of a different sort for Coach Samarin. He drew Isaac Drake, with his lean dancer’s body that looked nothing like a goalie’s. He had a loud voice and a habit of waving his goalie stick around and shouting at practice. Laurent thought he was kind of an asshole to his own teammates, but they seemed used to it and, more surprisingly, to expect and even respect it. Laurent drew his dumb, dyed-blue hair and his stupid Jeep, and that look on his face when Laurent had spat on him.

And finally Laurent drew himself, all alone in a Spitfire airplane, crashing into the sea. Then he rolled his eyes at himself, slammed the book closed, and shoved it back in the drawer. Time to read his favorite comic—about a cop with a hellhound for a partner—and concentrate on someone else’s demons for a change.

Giveaway

Win a copy of Power Play, the third book in the Scoring Chances series!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Purchase Links: DreamspinnerAmazonGoogleKoboBarnes and NobleAll Romance Ebooks

About Avon Gale

Avon Gale wrote her first story at the age of seven, about a “Space Hat” hanging on a rack and waiting for that special person to come along and purchase it — even if it was a bit weirder than the other, more normal hats. Like all of Avon’s characters, the space hat did get its happily ever after — though she’s pretty sure it was with a unicorn. She likes to think her vocabulary has improved since then, but the theme of quirky people waiting for their perfect match is still one of her favorites.

Avon grew up in the southern United States, and now lives with her very patient husband in a liberal midwestern college town. When she’s not writing, she’s either doing some kind of craft project that makes a huge mess, reading, watching horror movies, listening to music or yelling at her favorite hockey team to get it together, already. Avon is always up for a road trip, adores Kentucky bourbon, thinks nothing is as stress relieving as a good rock concert and will never say no to candy.

At one point, Avon was the mayor of both Jazzercise and Lollicup on Foursquare. This tells you basically all you need to know about her as a person.

Virtual Tour – Sideshow by Amy Stilgenbauer

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OMS welcomes author Amy Stilgenbauer to the blog to answer a few questions for us and to celebrate her latest release, Sideshow – Available from Interlude Press, August 25, 2016 – to share an excerpt and offer a giveaway.

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OMS:  Hi Amy, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself, your background, and your current book.

AS: Thanks for having me! I’m a writer and giant history geek from Michigan who grew up in a small festival-obsessed town. That might be why I’m so fascinated by them. Sideshow is my second novel. It tells the story of Abby Amaro, a first generation Sicilian-American young woman in the late 1950s who is struggling with her place in this world, and ends up finding it, and love at a traveling carnival.

OMS:  Tell us something about your character’s friends.

AS:  The great, and also awful, thing about traveling around the country with your coworkers is that you become a family, the kind that has your back and at the same time can get incredibly annoying. The people Abby travels with in the carnival are exactly that. Ruth takes her under her wing and helps her navigate being the new girl. Vinnie does his best to bring her out of her shell. Even Della, antagonistic and bitter as she is, has Abby’s back when it counts.

OMS:  What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food? Banner300x250

AS: Food actually plays a far more prominent role in Sideshow than I had initially realized. It’s probably because so much of my own memories have specific meals at the center of them. Abby, as we learn, has a fondness for foods that might be a little off palate for most, such as chicken livers and anchovy pizza for dinner and marzipan for dessert. My personal favorite food fact about her is that though she never explicitly said so, her favorite snack food is kettle corn for a very sappy reason.

OMS:  What activity does your character absolutely hate?

AS: While it may seem strange for an aspiring opera singer and carnival talker to say, Abby has an almost debilitating case of stage fright. When she gets in front of people, though she wants to push through and be a good performer, it’s not always that simple. She works on this struggle throughout the novel. She and Suprema are very much alike in this way. Suprema is fine on stage; it’s opening up in real life that she struggles with.

OMS:  What other author’s book do you think your character would be good in?

AS: I could see Abby slipping rather seamlessly into the world of Judy Blume’s In the Unlikely Event. Not just because it is set in the 1950s and Abby would have heard about the events that take place, but also because the general theme of community struggles and the first blush of independence are things that Abby also deals with. Also, I would really like to see Boleslaw, one of the carnival’s lot managers, in charge of things in Like Water for Elephants. He’s got the sort of calm demeanor that circus sorely needed.

OMS:  What’s your favorite decade and why?

AS: That’s a tough one, being the archivist and life long history nerd that I am. I find that every decade has some really high points, but then there are also so many things to not love, including the one we’re currently living, so it’s really hard to pick. I choose to set Sideshow in the 1950s, because I find that particular decade fascinating to study. The aesthetic is iconic, and I am enthralled by the anxieties, struggles, and changes that were bubbling under the surface of society. Those are exactly the kind of themes that I love to explore.

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RC~EXCERPT~

 

Abby couldn’t remember falling asleep. She only remembered the dark night and how, outside the window of Della’s trailer, the rolling slopes of Eastern Ohio slowly flattened into the farmland of the western side of the state and faded into darkness. She didn’t say much during the trip, but her mind was spinning, unable to process what she had done.

Once, when she had been a little girl, barely older than Annette was now, her mother had taken her and Natale to visit their aunt in Chicago for a week. It had been a nice visit. They had embarked on the train with a great deal of ceremony, and Za Teresa had spoiled the pair rotten, loading them up with peach-shaped marzipan and pizzelle until they were both sick. She hadn’t left Cleveland for any extended period of time since. Oh, sure, she’d talked and dreamt about it. Nonna often wistfully mentioned taking a trip back to her girlhood home one more time now that the war was over and taking Abby along to look after her, and then, if her opera career took off as she had once hoped, she would be visiting all the great cities. In her scrapbook, clippings of Palais Garnier, La Scala, and The Met were decorated with carefully drawn hearts and hopeful stars and the scrawled word: someday. Still, she had never imagined


Sideshow 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Sideshow by Amy Stilgenbauer
Release Date: August 25, 2016
Pages: 224 • Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Published By: Interlude Press
Purchase Links:
InterludeAmazonARe • B&NSmashwords • IndieboundGoogle 

Abby Amaro wants to sing at La Scala Opera House, but she’s a good girl, and in 1957 good girls get married. Still, when she receives her first marriage proposal, she freezes, knowing the way her suitor makes her feel bodes trouble. When he won’t take no for an answer, she flees, joining up with a traveling carnival.

Thanks to a burlesque trapeze artist and the world’s saddest clown, Abby bides her time and fits in until she can rejoin the world she knows. She doesn’t expect a sideshow strongwoman named Suprema, who captures her imagination. As the carnival makes its way across the Midwest, Abby learns much more than she had ever imagined—about herself, about her identity, and, most importantly, about love.


Follow the Tour!

25-Aug: The Novel Approach, Unquietly Me, Velvet Panic, Bayou Book Junkie

Badge26-Aug: Oh My Shelves, Book Lovers 4Ever, Book Reviews and More by Kathy, A.M. Leibowitz

29-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Dawn’s Reading Nook, Love Bytes

30-Aug: Butterfly-O-Meter, Kirsty Loves Books, MM Good Book Reviews

31-Aug: My Fiction Nook, BFD Book Blog

1-Sep: Prism Book Alliance, Open Skye Book Reviews, Happily Ever Chapter

2-Sep: Foxylutely Book Reviews, Bonkers About Books

5-Sep: Divine Magazine, Havan Fellows

6-Sep: Alpha Book Club, Molly Lolly

7-Sep: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Charley Descoteaux

 

Final

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About Amy Stilgenbauer

Amy Stilgenbauer is a writer and aspiring archivist currently based in southeast Michigan. She is the author of the novelette series, Season of the Witch, as well as the Young Adult novel, The Legend of League Park. Her short story, The Fire-Eater’s Daughter, was included in Summer Love, an LGBTQ Young Adult collection published by Duet, an imprint of Interlude Press. When she isn’t writing, Amy enjoys all things bergamot and tries to keep her cats away from her knitting.

Virtual Tour – Burning Tracks by Lilah Suzanne

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Oh My Shelves welcomes Lilah Suzanne,  author of Burning Tracks to the blog for a short interview and she shares an excerpt with us. Check out the giveaway at the end of the post!  

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OMS: Tell us something about your character’s friends.

LS: Gwen has historically had a tough time with friends. She’s a lot to take sometimes, with all the raunchy jokes and chronic foot-in-mouth disease. She’s been pretty career and relationship focused, which doesn’t help. So she keeps in touch with a few college friends and even fewer high school friends, and is pretty friendly with some of her styling clients, but her closest friend is Nico. What Nico has discovered along the way is that once you look past the dirty jokes and constant blurting (and that braying laugh, sheesh) is that Gwen is fiercely loyal and incredibly loving and he couldn’t ask for a better friend. And her laugh is pretty amazing once you get used to it.

OMS:  What is your character’s favorite meal? Favorite dessert? Favorite snack food?RC

LS:  Gwen’s wife Flora is one of those people who shows love through cooking meals, so anything Flora makes is at the top of the list. Gwen also loves big salads and lots of produce, she doesn’t just choke it down because it’s good for her like Nico, or to maintain a rockin’ six-pack like Grady (or Clementine.)

OMS: What activity does your character absolutely hate?

LS: Phone calls with her mother. Gwen tries to not take it personally, but when every other sentence sound like criticism, it’s hard to take. Flora says it’s how Gwen’s mother shows love, but it’s difficult to remember that.

OMS: What other author’s book do you think your character would be good in?

LS: I’d put her in one of those absurd 1950s lesbian pulp novels. I think that would amuse her. But with a happy ending, of course.

OMS:  What’s your favorite decade and why?

LS: I’m fascinated by the period of time when the end of prohibition and the Great Depression overlap, late twenties to early thirties or so, but only in a romantic sense. I certainly wouldn’t want to have lived then instead!

* * * * * *

~Excerpt~

“There’s a reason you two aren’t allowed to hang out alone.” Arms crossed, one impeccable eyebrow raised, lips twisted, hair artfully tousled, and dressed to the nines: Alexander Wang black-on-black tropical-printed board shorts, a slim fit black-and-white chino and matching black lapel jacket, black boots, and a black and white scarf to tie it all together. “Nico,” Gwen says.

“Nico?” Grady is up in a flash. “You came?”

Nico’s face softens into his Grady look. “Of course I came. Did you really think you were getting rid of me that easily?” Grady comes closer, and Nico brushes a spiraled lock of hair from his face. “I’m sorry it took me so long. There were storms over Dallas, and I got stuck on the tarmac with a dead phone. I barely made my connection, and the clusterfuck of morons known as the United gate at JFK could not get its shit together, and I may be banned outright from Charlotte-Douglas International, can you believe they flag you as a security risk and hold you in a room with no phone signal or Wi-Fi just for threatening one person with shoving that goddam intercom up their—”  He opens his arms for Grady; his look of annoyance slips away the moment they touch. “Anyway, I’m here.”

Grady sighs, crowds into Nico’s space, and tucks himself into Nico’s body. Much better, a perfect fit. “God, I love you.”

“I love you, too.” Nico sinks one hand into his hair, strokes the nape of his neck with other, breathes him in, and closes his eyes. “I’m so sorry. About the apartment and taking off and not being here yesterday, I tried to so hard to make it because I know how difficult it is for you. You shouldn’t have been alone.”

BannerTemplateGrady sniffs and holds him tighter. “It’s okay. We’re okay. I’m sorry, too.”

Still ensnared in the sheets and duvet and barely awake, Gwen presses her hands to her cheeks and awws. “You guys,” she coos.

Grady lifts his head from Nico’s neck to smile at Gwen. “I wasn’t alone, though.”

“Mmm” Nico says. “And how much trouble did she get you into?”

None,” Gwen says, defensive. Here she kept Grady safe and sound, searched all over Nashville and Las Vegas while he was off burying himself in work and what thanks does she get? None.

But then Grady smirks and says, “Kind of a lot.”

“Grady.” Gwen throws a pillow at him. “You’re such a tattletale, gosh.”

He bends to whisper something in Nico’s ear, and Gwen doesn’t miss the way his lips drag and linger on the shell of it, or the way Nico’s breath catches and his eyes roll back. When Nico lifts Grady’s shirt and traces around the tattoos with reverent fingers, Gwen takes that as her cue to extricate herself from the bed, put on some pants and a bra, and go fetch her luggage.

“‘Kay you guys have fun and make sure to change the sheets when you’re finished.”

“Wait.” Nico tugs Grady’s shirt down. Then he goes to the case he always has nearby. “You have trouble of your own, Gwen. Thought you might want to know about this.”

Gwen catches the magazine and folded-up papers he tosses her way: screen grabs from a few entertainment websites printed out in black and white.

Is This Clementine Campbell’s Girlfriend? Our source says, “It wouldn’t surprise me.”

Clementine and Gal Pal Definitely More Than Pals Sunning On Vegas Pool Deck.

Our exclusive source and close confidant of both says: Clementine’s married girlfriend “would cheat for sure. She was always touching her. There’s been an energy between them from the very beginning.”

 There are pictures: her rubbing sunscreen on Clementine’s bare back, which looks far steamier in a fuzzy long-range picture than it actually was; a picture of them from the back at the store in the Venetian with their hands clasped and Clementine curled in close and her lips on Gwen’s cheek; and most damning of all, grinding together at the VIP club at the Bellagio just last night.

“I don’t—” Frantic and confused, she flaps the magazine and printouts in the air. “What is this? This isn’t— Nico, I didn’t, I swear.

Nico holds both hands up. “Hey, I am well aware of the slander of tabloids. I get it.” He gives her a sympathetic look. “I’m just not sure Flora is going to.”

 


Burning Tracks 900px FRONT (Tumblr)Burning Tracks by Lilah Suzanne
Series: Spotlight, Book Two
Release Date: August 11, 2016
Pages: 224 • Cover Artist: Victoria S.
Published By: Interlude Press
Purchase Links:
InterludeAmazonARe • B&N  • Book Depository  • Smashwords • iBooksGoogle 

In the sequel to Broken Records, Gwen Pasternak has it all: a job she loves as a celebrity stylist and a beautiful wife, Flora. But as her excitement in working with country music superstar Clementine Campbell grows, Gwen second-guesses her quiet domestic bliss. Meanwhile, her business partner, Nico Takahashi and his partner, reformed bad-boy musician Grady Dawson, face uncertainties of their own.


Follow the Tour!

11-Aug: Havan Fellows, Jessie G. Books, Divine Magazine, 3 Chicks After Dark

12-Aug: BFD Book Blog, Unquietly Me, The Novel Approach

15-Aug: Molly Lolly, Inked Rainbow Reads, Oh My Shelves

16-Aug: Book Reviews and More by Kathy, Alpha Book Club, Bayou Book Junkie

17-Aug: Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews, Velvet Panic, Prism Book Alliance

18-Aug: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Kirsty Loves Books, Bonkers About Books

19-Aug: V’s Reads, My Fiction Nook, Happily Ever Chapter

22-Aug: Love Bytes, Foxylutely Book Reviews

23-Aug: Nephy Hart, MM Good Book Reviews

24-Aug: A.M. Leibowitz, Open Skye Book Reviews, Book Lovers 4Ever

 

Final

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About Lilah Suzanne

Lilah Suzanne has been writing actively since the sixth grade, when a literary magazine published her essay about an uncle who lost his life to AIDS. A freelance writer, she has also authored a children’s book and has a devoted following in the fan fiction community. She is also the author of the Interlude Press books Spice, Pivot and Slip, and Broken Records, which was named a Top Pick by RT Book Reviews Magazine.

Guest Post: Yolande Kleinn

Running Hot Banner

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Yolande Kleinn to the blog to share an excerpt from her new short story, Running Hot, Available from Dreamspinner Press August 10, 2016.

* * * * * *

Excerpt

One thing most people never realized about Kurt and Lena Trench: they weren’t just siblings. They were twins. It was the best joke they’d ever shared, because they looked nothing alike. People rarely guessed they could be cousins, never mind that they’d been born minutes apart to the same parents. Lena cut a slim figure, all sharp edges and narrow shoulders. She’d built up a lifetime of muscle working in the garage—strong arms and stronger hands—but her frame was slight, her face all delicate features and big, dark eyes. She wore her hair pixie short, the better for keeping it out of her face while she worked.

Kurt was the opposite in almost every way: tall, stocky, and sturdy as a pack mule. He had shoulders built to intimidate, all the more imposing for the wall of muscle he’d accumulated between gym and garage. There was nothing delicate about his broad nose and heavy brow. He wore his hair buzzed short despite the fact his ears were too big for his head, and his jaw always sported a shadow of stubble by noon, no matter how closely he shaved.

They were a mismatched set, he and his sister, but they made a good team.

“Hey, man.” Shane extended a hand toward Kurt on reaching him, inviting a familiar clasp. A year ago, when Shane was still a new face, Kurt might have avoided the handshake for fear of smudging a customer with oil and engine grease. He knew better now, and shook Shane’s hand warmly. A smile crept across Kurt’s face at the cocky strength in Shane’s grip.

“Hey, Dolan. What the hell did you do to your car? You were just in here two weeks ago.”

Actually, Shane had stopped by only five days back, but that had been purely a social call. No car troubles, just a box of pistachio muffins to share with everyone on shift. Somewhere in the past few months Shane had crossed the rocky divide from customer to friend, and his presence at the garage was easy to take for granted. It had something to do with Shane’s earnest eagerness around engine blocks and gearshifts, and even more to do with his stubborn and unquenchable charm.

Shane was a genuinely good guy, and Kurt hadn’t had the heart to run him off, even when Shane started hanging around the garage with the unspoken sincerity of a lost puppy. Lena had that effect on men sometimes. The fact she always smiled when Shane turned up told Kurt everything he needed to know.

Shane gave a rueful shrug when he dropped Kurt’s hand. “Could be I pushed the engine too hard yesterday. She’s running okay, and everything looks fine, but she doesn’t sound right. I was hoping you guys could work some magic, figure out what’s up?” He finished like a question, peering into Kurt’s eyes. Shane was nearly as tall as Kurt despite his lean frame, which meant he didn’t have to crane his neck to lock Kurt with a hopeful look.

“Could be your wheel bearings, from the sound of it.” Lena nudged Shane with an elbow. Her eyes met Kurt’s a moment later when she added, “Paperwork’s all yours, bro. I’ve got shit to do.” She retreated smirking, heading toward the hopeless old truck she’d been fighting for two days straight. Kurt had glanced under the hood when she wasn’t looking and honestly didn’t know why she was still trying; then again, it wouldn’t be the first time Lena had coaxed life back into a vehicle Kurt had judged beyond saving.

“Come on.” Kurt cocked his head toward the office at the back of the garage. He lead the way, barely aware of the creak of old hinges as he pushed open the door. “Coffee?”

The coffeemaker in the office was an outdated and fussy appliance, but it did the job. A fresh pot sat barely touched—Lena’s work for sure. No one else craved the caffeine badly enough to drink coffee in this heat.

“No. Thanks.” Shane followed him inside and flopped into one of the mismatched office chairs. Both were low and creaky, but Shane chose the sturdier of the two. He seemed completely at ease as he slouched against the faded back of the chair and kicked his legs out in a careless sprawl. Shane and his lanky limbs belonged in this space, his bright presence somehow perfectly natural in the dingy and well-worn gray of the room.

The whole office felt comfortingly like home, from the metal-sided desk to the scuffed leather couch on the other side of the room. Wide panes of glass took up most of the wall between the office and garage, and a row of smaller windows ran high along the opposite wall, sneaking sunlight in from outside. Both sets of windows were smudged with grime, but the office itself was cleaner than the rest of the garage. Kurt had a fastidious streak in him, and since the office was almost entirely his domain, neither Lena nor their staff imposed uninvited clutter.

Kurt slid into his chair behind the desk and grabbed the mouse to wake the garage’s clunky desktop computer. The ancient machine still ran the books and kept the schedule well enough to prevent Kurt pining after a replacement, but it was only a matter of time. Kurt predicted another year and a half before he admitted defeat and changed over to a new system.

“We’re a little swamped this week,” he admitted as he glanced through the pages of calendar on his screen. “If it’s a difficult fix, you might be waiting a few days before we squeeze you in. I could recommend another garage….” Kurt hated the very idea, but he’d do it if Shane was in a hurry. Shane was no slouch beneath the hood of a car himself. If Shane hadn’t been able to spot a problem—even one too complicated to fix himself—chances were it’d take some time to track down the fault.

“Nah.” Shane shook his head. “I’d rather leave it in your hands. The wait’s not a problem. I just bought my dad’s old Camaro off him, anyway. Car like that deserves a proper welcome.”

Kurt snorted. “Damn right it does.” He and Shane had shared only a handful of nonbusiness conversations, but even Kurt knew how long Shane had been coveting his father’s ’69 Camaro. “How’s she run?”

“Like a dream.” Shane’s eyes went distant, and the daydreamy look made his smooth face seem impossibly young. Kurt returned his attention to the computer with difficulty, focusing on entering data into the scheduling software. He didn’t need to ask Shane any of the usual intake questions, but there was no such thing as a tune-up without paperwork.

When Kurt finished and shifted in his seat, he found Shane watching him. Something other than quiet patience glinted in Shane’s expression, but it was a cryptic something, and Kurt couldn’t decipher it.

“I’ve got you booked in.” Kurt scooted his chair back more sharply than he intended. “We’ll give you a shout when she’s ready to pick up. Need me to call a cab?”

“Got it covered.” Shane fished his phone from his back pocket and tipped it in salute. From his front pocket he grabbed the Mustang’s spare key before Kurt had a chance to ask for it. “Here. Thanks for fitting me in.”

As Shane handed over the key, he smiled a different kind of smile than any of the ones Kurt had seen before. This was no smirk or laugh or giddy grin. This was something lazy and warm, the kind of look Kurt would take for an invitation coming from anyone else. He knew damn well it wasn’t an invitation, but the fact didn’t stop his stomach from clenching tight with a sudden kick of want. The unexpected feeling hit him hard, and he barely heard himself grunt a reply to Shane’s thanks.

A moment later Shane was out the office door, but Kurt’s head was still spinning.

Christ, where the hell had that come from?

Kurt was a pro at not wanting things he couldn’t have, and it didn’t take a headful of genius to figure out Shane Dolan belonged on the list. Sure, Kurt had looked. Shane was a knockout, charming, and easy on the eyes. Exactly Kurt’s type. But Kurt had no reason to believe Shane was interested in men, considering the way he’d hit it off with Lena; and even if he were, so what? Lena had dibs. Shane might not be her boyfriend exactly, but they were damn well headed that way.

Kurt sat, the wheels of his chair squeaking in protest when he landed too hard. Suddenly the fact he couldn’t make a move on Shane actually hurt, and that was a new sensation. It was a shitty way to feel about the guy Lena was into.

Kurt leaned forward and let his forehead hit the desk with a dull thud. He shoved all thoughts of Shane to the back of his mind and vowed not to revisit them.

Fuck.”

 

 


running-hotRunning Hot by Yolande Kleinn 
Release Date: August 10, 2016
Pages: 50 • Cover Artist: LC Chase
Published By: Dreamspinner Press
Purchase Links:
DreamspinnerAmazonARe

Kurt Trench loves running a successful auto repair shop with his twin sister Lena. Lately loyal customer Shane Dolan has been coming around more often, and Kurt assumes it’s because of his sister. While Kurt wouldn’t dream of coming between them, he can’t help being drawn to Shane himself…. Or thinking about him in ways he definitely shouldn’t.

One night everything changes. Kurt doesn’t reciprocate Shane’s kiss—he’s got no intention of stealing his sister’s man—but when he tells Lena what happened, she can’t believe how thick her brother is. She’s not the reason Shane’s been coming around the garage, and Kurt and Shane have more in common than a love of classic muscle cars. Now it’s on Kurt to make the next move, assuming he hasn’t blown his chance for good.


About Yolande Kleinn

Yolande Kleinn may be a shameless dreamer and a stubborn optimist, but she is also a proud purveyor of erotic romance. Excitable, fastidious and a little eclectic, she spends every spare moment writing the stories she wants to read. If she can drag other people into the pool along with her, then so much the better.

A Minnesotan by both heart and geography, Yolande has plenty of experience weathering tough winters. Her favorite method: distracting herself with warm beverages and even warmer stories. A night spent with a good book is heaven. A morning free to write, with a hot cup of coffee close at hand, is even better.