Here For Us (Us #1) by A.M. Arthur

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I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Here For Us by A.M. Arthur
Series: Us #1
Release Date: 3/17/17
Pages: • Format: 94k words
Genre: Romance (Male/Male Menage)
Published By: Briggs-King Books
Purchase Links: Amazon US
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four-half-stars

Cris Sable doesn’t walk into popular gay bar Big Dick’s expecting to find more than a casual hookup, so he’s surprised by his instant attraction and intense chemistry with go-go dancer Jake. Jake’s sexy as hell and a firecracker in bed. The sparks between them are undeniable, and what starts as a hookup evolves into something deeper, possibly permanent—until Jake dumps Cris flat on his ass for no good reason.

Angry and confused, Cris finds comfort with his longtime friend and employer Charles “Chet” Greenwood. Cris’s emotional state stirs up Charles’s long-buried feelings for Cris. Feelings he’s denied for eight years, because Cris is his employee and therefore off limits—not to mention two decades younger than Charles. Cris admits he has feelings for Charles, too, but he’s still getting over Jake and both men agree nothing can happen between them while Charles is still Cris’s boss.

Jake Bowden knows he doesn’t have anything to offer a guy. He’s a go-go dancer with no degree and no real career aspirations. He’s also used to everyone who loves him leaving, so it makes sense to cut Cris loose before things get too serious. Cris is kind, passionate and totally deserves a guy like Charles—wealthy, owns a home, successful businessman. Jake can’t compete so why bother? They’re better off together. But when Jake has a serious personal crisis, Cris and Charles unite to pull him back together, and the three men discover it’s possible—maybe even inevitable—to fall in love with more than one person at a time.
Man, I loved this one. It had all the things I love in a love story except little kids. It had damaged characters, a love story not overshadowed by sex, and growth by the main characters. This was a story of some guys that found refuge in each other as their various life journey converged into one lane.  It felt like going through a storm and coming out on the other side to basking in sunshine.

I really liked Cristian “Cris” Sable. I wasn’t sure what he found so intriguing about Jake Bowden, but I suppose a sexy and unpredictable guy is just too much sauce to for a stable guy like Cris to pass up. Cris and Charles “Chet” Greenwood is one of those relationships where the time was never right, until it was. Cris and Chet felt like the joy I get while unwrapping a Christmas present. The author laid a proper foundation and that relationship felt like it was rooted in much more than physical attraction and curiosity. Cris and Chet had an enduring respect, affection and trust created from years of working together. These two really made the book for me because they were both caretakers and selfless men. That’s probably what drew them to Jake because he definitely need taking care of.

I’ll admit that I didn’t care for Jake. He alternated between abrasive and sharp-tongued to overly emotional and dramatic. I am glad he got counseling for all he had been through but at times I kept thinking he wasn’t worth the effort Cris and Chet were putting forth. In caring for Jake, Chet and Cris showed the depth of their loyalty and their capacity for patience and love. It made me love them that much more.

The chemistry between the three was palpable though I liked Cris as the connection, not Jake. I didn’t feel the attraction between Chet and Jake as strong because it felt more like compassion than passion.

My only complaint in this book was that the author introduced so many characters. Some of the secondary characters were necessary as it was clear they would be getting their own books in the future. But it was too many new people and I got annoyed trying to remember them as I didn’t know what role they would play in the threesome’s relationship down the road.

Despite that, I really enjoyed this book. I was so impressed with the way the author layered this romance. It wasn’t quick and insta-love, but it wasn’t so slow that I felt bored. It was just a steady pace of attraction, friendship and love. I can’t wait for the next book which I really hope is Taro and Dell.

Ezi

About A.M. Arthur

A.M. Arthur was born and raised in the same kind of small town that she likes to write about, a stone’s throw from both beach resorts and generational farmland. She’s been creating stories in her head since she was a child and scribbling them down nearly as long, in a losing battle to make the fictional voices stop. She credits an early fascination with male friendships (bromance hadn’t been coined yet back then) with her later discovery of and subsequent love affair with m/m romance stories. A.M. Arthur’s work is available from Samhain Publishing, Carina Press, Dreamspinner Press, and SMP Swerve.
When not exorcising the voices in her head, she toils away in a retail job that tests her patience and gives her lots of story fodder. She can also be found in her kitchen, pretending she’s an amateur chef and trying to not poison herself or others with her cuisine experiments.

Take Me Back By Meghan March

(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: InkSlinger PR

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TakeMeBack_FrontCoverWe fell in love on a beach, got married in paradise, and I carried her off into the sunset. It should have been perfect, but saying “I do” doesn’t guarantee a happily-ever-after.

Two years later, I barely recognize either of us behind the walls we’ve built.

It’s time to bring it full circle. Back to a tropical paradise. Back to find out if we can still make this work.

I’m not willing to give her up, but to save us, I have to risk everything.

Two damaged people.

Countless secrets.

The fight of our lives.

We might be broken, but we’re not done.

Add to Goodreads

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Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

FACEBOOK | WEBSITE | INSTAGRAM | AMAZON AUTHOR PAGE | TWITTER | PINTEREST

About Meghan March

Meghan March has been known to wear camo face paint and tromp around in woods wearing mud-covered boots, all while sporting a perfect manicure. She’s also impulsive, easily entertained, and absolutely unapologetic about the fact that she loves to read and write smut. Her past lives include slinging auto parts, selling lingerie, making custom jewelry, and practicing corporate law. Writing books about dirty talking alpha males and the strong, sassy women who bring them to their knees is by far the most fabulous job she’s ever had. She loves hearing from her readers at meghanmarchbooks@gmail.com.

Release Day Blitz & Giveaway: MoMo: My Everything by Posy Roberts

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Publisher: Labyrinth Bound Press

Length: 27,000 words

Cover Image: Igor Madjinca

Photo Editing: Posy Roberts

Cover Typography: Natasha Snow

Blurb

William Harris is a reserved man, private and guarded. He has no one to go home to. He’s never found a man worth sticking around for. He’s never been in love. And he’s convinced he’s happy with his lone-wolf life.

Nate Kelly is William’s opposite, social and easy going. He comes into William’s life as the elegant geisha Momo. When William realizes Momo is a man in drag, he’s captivated.

From their first date, William’s world changes. Nate is nothing like his usual type. And William soon finds out being with this carefree man means always being on display and attracting attention, which makes him want to retreat. He tries to keep Nate at arm’s length, but it’s no use. Nate’s transformed his life in a matter of months and keeps drawing him back in.

If they stand a chance, William has to be comfortable standing next to someone so at home in the limelight. Their future together and William’s happiness depend on it. Is Nate the man finally worth giving up William’s solitary existence? Is he worth sticking around for?


*Extensively reworked from the short story, The Measure of a Man.


Author Bio

Posy Roberts writes about the realistic struggles of men looking for love. Whether her characters are family men, drag queens, or lonely men searching for connections, they all find a home in her stories.

Posy is a Jill of all trades and master of the drill and paintbrush. She’s married to a partner who makes sure she doesn’t forget to eat or sleep during her writing frenzies. Her daughter, a budding author and cinematographer, helps her come up with character names. For fun, Posy enjoys crafting, hiking, and singing spontaneously about the mundane, just to make regular life more interesting.


Facebook Reader’s Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/757618490928296/
Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/6YnZL
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Twitter: http://twitter.com/posyroberts

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Review Tour & Giveaway: Imago by N.R. Walker

Review Tour: February 21st until March 13th!
Buy Links: Amazon US| Amazon UK
 
Length: 45,000 words
 
 
Blurb
 

Nerdy, introverted genius lepidopterist, Lawson Gale, is an expert on butterflies. He finds himself in a small town in Tasmania on a quest from an old professor to find an elusive species that may or may not even exist.

Local Parks and Wildlife officer, Jack Brighton, is an ordinary guy who loves his life in the sleepy town of Scottsdale. Along with his Border collie dog, Rosemary, his job, and good friends, he has enough to keep from being lonely.

But then he meets Lawson, and he knows he’s met someone special. There’s more to catching butterflies, Jack realises. Sometimes the most elusive creatures wear bowties, and sometimes they can’t be caught at all.

Lawson soon learns there are butterflies he can’t learn about it in books. They exist only in a touch, in a kiss, in a smile. He just has to let go first, so these butterflies can fly.

Imago is the story of finding love, bowties, and butterflies.



 

February 25 – Foxylutely Books
 
Author Bio
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love. She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since… You can find me at these places:

Facebook Fan Page
Facebook Group
Twitter
Google +
Amazon Author
Authorgraph
Blog

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Saved by Darkness (Darkness #6) by Katie Reus

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(Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Source: IndieSage PR

Saved by Darkness

by Katie Reus
Darkness Series
Publication Date: February 21, 2017
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

He thought he lost her decades ago.

Half-demon, half-dragon shifter Ian McCabe is hellbent on getting back the only woman he’s ever loved. When Fiona O’Riley kicked him out of her life decades ago, he thought she was gone for good. Now that she’s back, nothing will stop him from claiming her. But she wants nothing to do with him—or his family.

She’ll do anything to save him.

Fiona knows that Ian is the only male for her. The only way to keep him alive is to stay away from him. But when tragedy strikes and they discover a wicked agenda for the mass murder of humans, they must work together to take down the enemies that threaten everyone. But there’s so much more on the line. As their undeniable desire intensifies, they’re faced with an unbearable choice. If Fiona and Ian succumb to their temptation, mating could be the last thing they ever do.

About Katie Reus

Katie Reus is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Darkness series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it.

However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.

For more information on Katie please visit her website: www.katiereus.com. Also find her on twitter @katiereus or visit her on facebook at: www.facebook.com/katiereusauthor.

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About Katie Reus

Katie Reus is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Red Stone Security series, the Darkness series and the Deadly Ops series. She fell in love with romance at a young age thanks to books she pilfered from her mom’s stash. Years later she loves reading romance almost as much as she loves writing it.

However, she didn’t always know she wanted to be a writer. After changing majors many times, she finally graduated summa cum laude with a degree in psychology. Not long after that she discovered a new love. Writing. She now spends her days writing dark paranormal romance and sexy romantic suspense.

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

Series:

 

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.

Review: Rough & Tumble (Haven Brotherhood # 1) by Rhenna Morgan

Series:

I received this book for free from in exchange for an honest review.
This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Title: Rough & Tumble by Rhenna Morgan
Series: Haven Brotherhood # 1
Release Date: February 20, 2017
Pages: 432 • Format: e-ARC
Published By: Carina Press
Purchase Links: Amazon US Barnes & Noble iBooks

A self-made man with his fingers in a variety of successful businesses, Jace Kennedy lives for the challenge and he always gets what he wants. From the start, he sees Vivienne Moore’s hidden wild side and knows she’s his perfect match, if only he can break it free. He will have her. One way or another.

Vivienne’s determined to ditch the rough lifestyle she grew up in, even if that means hiding her true self behind a bland socialite veneer. Dragging her party-hound sister out of a club was not how she wanted to ring in the New Year, but Viv knows the drill. Get in, get her sister and get back to the safe, stable life she’s built for herself as fast as humanly possible. But Viv’s plans are derailed when she finds herself crashing into the club’s clearly badass and dangerously sexy owner.

Jace is everything Vivienne swore she never wanted, but the more time she spends with him, the more she starts to see that he loves just as fiercely as he fights. He can walk society’s walk and talk society’s talk, but when he wants something, he finds a way to get it. He’s proud of who he is and where he came from, and he’ll be damned if he lets Vivienne go before showing her the safest place of all is in the arms of a dangerous man.

four-stars

What a pleasant surprise. I was expecting a smut biker read but the story had more depth than I was expecting. There were many more layer to the characters and the plot that I found myself engrossed in the story. There was romance, suspense, character development and entertaining brotherly interaction. This book ended up being more than meets the eye.

Vivienne Moore was a woman working hard to escape her family’s troubled past featuring two drunks, her dad and youngers sister Callie. Viv was determined on exerting control of her desires so she doesn’t end up like her father, mother or sister. Instead, Viv concentrated on growing her event planning business, Amaryllis Events which couldn’t seem to get going.
Viv met Jace Kennedy, when she was rescuing her drunk sister and she decided it would be better to stay away from him as he could be the one to unleash the wild child hidden under her professional demeanor.

Jace Kennedy was the co-founder of the conglomerate, The Haven Brotherhood and he was definitely looking to get under Viv’s icy exterior. Jace projected an image of rough biker boy but inside hid a man with a heart of gold. While Jace was a sexy alpha biker, he was also a highly successful business man with a number of businesses as well as a number of charities. Jace hired Viv to plan a charity event for Haven brotherhood, it was the opportunity they both were hoping for to satisfy an itch. The author wasted no time ramping up the sexual tension before she turned up the heat with Jace and Viv.

The story was well written as there were layers to Viv and Jace. The dual point of view narration allowed the readers to be in both protagonist’s head. Each character was carefully developed so the reader was able to see the growth as both Viv and Jace wore masks that wasn’t exactly who they were. While there were hot scenes and love in this book, there were also thought-provoking themes about self-acceptance, brotherhood and giving back. I think those subthemes showed the range in Rhenna Morgan’s storytelling. The readers were treated to a realistic relationship with great interactions with secondary characters as well as the community at large. I was excited that there are six brothers because that means that there will be at least five more books.

Rough and Tumble was a really great start to a biker-plus series. I am looking forward to the next installment.

Wicked Beast (Wicked Ever After, #2) by Nazarea Andrews @InkslingerPR and @NazareaAndrews

Series:
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WICKED BEAST by Nazarea Andrews is coming in 3 days!!

Join Nazarea’s newsletter to hear more about the series http://eepurl.com/MtHwj

Pre-order: http://bit.ly/WickedBeastAMZ

BLURB:

James “Beast” Lutz isn’t like his friends.
He doesn’t crave control the way Charm and Mal do, and he doesn’t play the games Wolf thrives on.
He lives on his knees, all of his strength bent to the will of his Domme.
He’s never regretted that, until now.
Now, when he’s trapped in an arrangement serving a Domme who can’t keep a sub.
Now, when he’s not sure how to trust a woman wrapped in mystery and less sure he wants to.
But the more he gets to know the Domme everyone knows as Beauty, the more Beast realizes everything he thought he knew was wrong.
Teaser:
My knees ache, my back stings from the cane. And then she kisses me, and it’s delicate. It’s as soft as she has ever been with me, all gentle pressure and the tentative nip of teeth. It drags a groan from me and I want to reach for her.
And it terrifies me.

PURCHASE WICKED CHARMING (Now Live):  Amazon US ** Kobo ** Barnes & Noble

PRE-ORDER WICKED WOLF (Coming Feb. 27): Amazon US

About Nazarea Andrews

Nazarea Andrews (N to almost everyone) is an avid reader and tends to write the stories she wants to read. Which means she writes everything from zombies and dystopia to contemporary love stories. When not writing, she can most often be found driving her kids to practice and burning dinner while she reads, or binging watching TV shows on Netflix. N loves chocolate, wine, and coffee almost as much as she loves books, but not quite as much as she loves her kids. She lives in south Georgia with her husband, daughters, spoiled cat and overgrown dog. She is the author of World Without End series, Neverland Found, Edge of the Falls, and The University of Branton Series. Stop by her twitter (@NazareaAndrews) and tell her what fantastic book she should read next.

Release Day Launch: A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart

Source: InkSlinger PR

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Today we have the release day for A Thousand Letters by Staci Hart! I love this fantastic new contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion.

Check it out and grab your copy today!

Cover

Title: A Thousand Letters

Author: Staci Hart

Genre: Contemporary Romance

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About A Thousand Letters:

Sometimes your life is split by a single decision.

I’ve spent every day of the last seven years regretting mine: he left, and I didn’t follow. A thousand letters went unanswered, my words like petals in the wind, spinning away into nothing, taking me with them.

But now he’s back.

I barely recognize the man he’s become, but I can still see a glimmer of the boy who asked me to be his forever, the boy I walked away from when I was young and afraid.

Maybe if he’d come home under better circumstances, he could speak to me without anger in his voice. Maybe if I’d said yes all those years ago, he’d look at me without the weight of rejection in his eyes. Maybe if things were different, we would have had a chance.

One regretted decision sent him away. One painful journey bought him back to me. I only wish I could keep him.

*A contemporary romance inspired by Jane Austen’s Persuasion*

Get Your Copy Today!

Add on Goodreads

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About Staci Hart:

Staci has been a lot of things up to this point in her life: a graphic designer, an entrepreneur, a seamstress, a clothing and handbag designer, a waitress. Can’t forget that. She’s also been a mom, with three little girls who are sure to grow up to break a number of hearts. She’s been a wife, even though she’s certainly not the cleanest, or the best cook. She’s also super, duper fun at a party, especially if she’s been drinking whiskey. Her favorite word starts with f and ends with k.

 

From roots in Houston, to a seven year stint in Southern California, Staci and her family ended up settling somewhere in between and equally north, in Denver. They are new enough that snow is still magical. When she’s not writing, she’s sleeping, cleaning, or designing graphics.

teaser 2

Connect with Staci:

Facebook: http://facebook.com/stacihartnovels.com

Twitter: @imaquirkybird

Instagram: @quirkybird

Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/imaquirkybird

Website: http://stacihartnovels.com

Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Staci-Hart/e/B00BFCANRW/ref=dp_byline_cont_pop_ebooks_1

 

Blog Tour & Giveaway: The Lawrence Browne Affair by Cat Sebastian

Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? 
THE LAWRENCE BROWNE AFFAIR
Cat Sebastian
Releasing Feb 7th, 2017
Avon Impulse
 

 

An earl hiding from his
future . . . 
 Lawrence Browne, the Earl of Radnor, is mad. At least, that’s what he and most of the village believes. A brilliant scientist, he hides himself away in his family’s crumbling estate, unwilling to venture into the outside world. When an annoyingly handsome man
arrives at Penkellis, claiming to be Lawrence’s new secretary, his carefully planned world is turned upside down.
A swindler haunted by his past . . .
Georgie Turner has made his life pretending to be anyone but himself. A swindler and con man, he can slip into an identity faster than he can change clothes. But when his long-dead conscience resurrects and a dangerous associate is out for blood, Georgie escapes to the wilds of Cornwall. Pretending to be a secretary should be easy, but he doesn’t expect that the only madness he finds is the one he has for the gorgeous earl.Can they find forever in the wreckage of their lives? Challenging each other at every turn, the two men soon give into the desire that threatens to overwhelm them. But with one man convinced he is at the very brink of madness and the other hiding his real identity, only true love can make this an affair to remember. 

Excerpt

Cornwall, 1816

CHAPTER ONE

All this fuss about a couple of small explosions. As far as Lawrence cared, the explosions were entirely beside the point. He had finished experimenting with fuses weeks ago. More importantly, this was his house to burn to the ground if that’s what he wanted to do with it. Hell, if he blew the godforsaken place up, and himself right along with it, the only person who would even be surprised was the man sitting before him.

“Five servants quit,” Halliday said, tapping Lawrence’s desk in emphasis. Dust puffed up in tiny clouds around the vicar’s fingertips. “Five. And you were woefully understaffed even before then.”

Five fewer servants? So that was why the house had been so pleasantly quiet, why his work had been so blissfully undisturbed.

“There was no danger to the servants. You know I keep them away from my work.” That was something Lawrence insisted on even when he wasn’t exploding things. The very idea of chattering maids underfoot was enough to discompose his mind even further. “And I conducted most of the actual explosions out of doors.” Now was probably not the time to mention that he had blown the roof off the conservatory.

“All I’m suggesting is a sort of secretary.” Halliday was dangerously unaware of how close he was to witnessing an explosion of the metaphorical variety. “Somebody to keep records of what you’ve mixed together and whether it’s likely to”—he puffed his cheeks out and made a strange noise and an expansive gesture that Lawrence took to represent explosion—“ignite.”

The Reverend Arthur Halliday did not know what was good for him. If he did, he would have fled the room as soon as he saw Lawrence reach for the inkwell. Lawrence’s fingers closed around the object, preparing to hurl it at the wall behind the vicar’s head. Sod the man for even suggesting Lawrence didn’t know how to cause an explosion. He hadn’t invented Browne’s Improved Black Powder or even that bloody safety fuse through blind luck, for God’s sake.

“Besides,” Halliday went on, “you said you need an extra set of hands for this new device you’re working on.”

Oh, damn and blast. Lawrence knew he shouldn’t have told the vicar. But he had hoped Halliday might volunteer to help with the device himself, not badger Lawrence into hiring some stranger. The vicar was convenient enough, and when he wasn’t dead set on sticking his nose where it didn’t belong, he wasn’t entirely unpleasant company.

“I’ve had secretaries,” Lawrence said from between gritted teeth. “It ends badly.”

“Well, obviously, but that’s because you go out of your way to terrify them.” Halliday glanced pointedly at the inkwell Lawrence still held.

And there again was Halliday missing the point entirely. Lawrence didn’t need to go out of his way to frighten anyone. All he had to do was simply exist. Everyone with any sense kept a safe distance from the Mad Earl of Radnor, as surely as they stayed away from rabid dogs and coiled asps. And explosive devices, for that matter.

Except for the vicar, who came to Penkellis Castle three times a week. He likely also called on bedridden old ladies and visited the workhouse. Maybe his other charity cases were grateful, but the notion that he was the vicar’s good deed made Lawrence’s fingers curl grimly around the inkwell as he plotted its trajectory through the air.

“I’ll take care of the details,” Halliday was saying. “I’ll write the advertisement and handle the inquiries. A good secretary might even be able to manage the household a bit,” the vicar said with the air of a man warming to his topic, “get it into a fit condition for the child—”

“No.” Lawrence didn’t raise his voice, but he slammed his fist onto the desk, causing ink to splatter all over the blotter and the cuff of his already-inky shirt. A stack of papers slid from the desk onto the floor, leaving a single dustless patch of wood where they had been piled. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a spider scurry out from under the papers.

“True,” Halliday continued, undaunted. “A housekeeper would be more appropriate, but—”

“No.” Lawrence felt the already fraying edges of his composure unraveling fast. “Simon is not coming here.”

“You can’t keep him off forever, you know, now that he’s back in England. It’s his home, and he’ll own it one day.”

When Lawrence was safely dead and buried, Simon was welcome to come here and do what he pleased. “I don’t want him here.” Penkellis was no place for a child, madmen were not fit guardians, and nobody knew those facts better than Lawrence himself, who had been raised under precisely those conditions.

Halliday sighed. “Even so, Radnor, you have to do something about this.” He gestured around the room, which Lawrence thought looked much the same as ever. One hardly even noticed the scorch marks unless one knew where to look. “It can’t be safe to live in such a way.”

Safety was not a priority, but even Lawrence wasn’t mad enough to try to explain that to the vicar.

“Villagers won’t even walk past the garden wall anymore. And the stories they invent…” The vicar wrung his hands. “A secretary. Please. It would ease my mind to know you had someone up here with you.”

A keeper, then. Even worse.

But Lawrence did need another set of hands to work on the communication device. If Halliday wouldn’t help, then Lawrence had no other options. God knew Halliday had been right about the local people not wanting anything to do with him.

“Fine,” he conceded. “You write the advertisement and tell me when to expect the man.” He’d say what he needed to in order to end this tiresome conversation and send the vicar on his way.

It wasn’t as if this secretary would last more than a week or two anyway. Lawrence would see to that.

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Cat Sebastian lives in a swampy part of the South with her husband, three kids, and two dogs. Before her kids were born, she practiced law and taught high school and college writing. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’s doing crossword puzzles, bird watching, and wondering where she put her coffee cup.