Blog Tour & Giveaway: Every Breath You Take by Robert Winter


Title:  Every Breath You Take
Author: Robert Winter
Publisher:  Dreamspinner Press
Release Date: May 5, 2017
Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 221 pages
Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis
When Zachary Hall leaves Utah for a job in Washington, it’s finally his chance to live as a gay man and maybe find someone special. In a bar he meets Thomas Scarborough, a man who seems perfect in and out of the bedroom. But Thomas never dates. He never even sleeps with the same man twice. Despite their instant connection, he can offer Zachary only his friendship, and Zachary is looking for more.
Thomas is tempted to break his own rules, but years before, he became the victim of a stalker who nearly destroyed his life. Even though his stalker died, Thomas obsessively keeps others at a distance. Despite his fascination with Zachary, he is unable to lower his barriers. Frustrated, Zachary accepts he will never have what he wants with Thomas and soon finds it with another man.
But young gay men in Washington, DC are being murdered, and the victims all have a connection to Thomas. Once again someone is watching Thomas’s every move. Can it be a coincidence? When the depraved killer turns his attention toward Zachary, Thomas must face the demons of his past—or lose his chance to open his heart to Zachary forever.

Excerpt
Across the street the man with the silver-framed glasses stood back in the shadows and stared at the front window of the garden apartment. He could see the back of his quarry’s head as he watched a small flat-screen TV.
Time passed.

Eventually the head nodded forward and then jerked up. When it happened a second time, the creature turned off the TV and then the lamp and headed to bed.

The man waited for another half hour with his back pressed against an alcove formed where two brownstones met. The street was quiet. Almost no one walked by, and the lone person who came down the street failed to notice him in the shadows.
The man felt his breath grow hoarse, and blood rushed in his ears as his heart began to pound. He cultivated that sensation as he reached into his coat pocket for the screwdriver that rested there and made himself imagine the creature’s hands touching the Beloved’s face. Stroking his body. He curled his fingers around the screwdriver and then clenched and unclenched rhythmically. Its thick handle felt rough against his palm because of the grooves and sharp edges he had chiseled into it. He had ideas for other implements that would serve his purpose, but for now, this would do just fine. This would make his point.
His throat was dry, and his eyes burned from focusing on the darkened window, but he felt invincible. The tension in his body climbed exquisitely, and when he could take no more, he slipped across the street and stepped down to the locked gate. It opened easily with his small set of picks. The gate made no noise when the creature went through it earlier, so he was confident and quick and didn’t bother to lock it behind him. Child’s play, he thought as he worked the lock on the apartment door.
The tumblers clicked into place.

He stored his lockpicks, slipped inside the darkened apartment, and then closed the door behind him as silently as he could. Streetlight came through the slatted blinds the boy had failed to close completely. He waited quietly until he heard a faint snore from the back and then removed his glasses and tucked them in an inside pocket of his jacket. The scarf his quarry had been wearing caught his eye, and the man bared his teeth as he lifted it off the coat tree and tugged it tightly between his hands. It was well made. It would hold. He smiled.
He slid through the gloom toward the room where the creature lay sleeping. He was hard, and the blood in his erection pulsed in time to the pounding of his heart. That boy had dared to touch his Beloved. He had probably even been fucked by him. But that wasn’t enough—oh no. He came back for more.
It had taken the man so long to find his Beloved and interpret his subtle clues. He finally understood what was required of him. The undeserving gnat must be chastised, and he would be the Beloved’s angel of retribution. He was conscious of the weight of the screwdriver in his pocket, the scratch of the wool scarf in his hands, and the power in his arms.
He reached for the boy on the bed.

My Top 10 Scariest Movies

There’s something delicious in being scared, isn’t there? In Every Breath You Take, a young gay man is murdered, and the reader gets glimpse into the mind of the killer as he turns his sights to his next victim. My goal in writing scenes from the killer’s perspective was to build a sense of dread, because that’s the feeling I crave when I read or watch something suspenseful. I also love it when the reader or viewer knows more than the main characters and therefore has a better sense of their peril than the hero.

I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite movies that accomplish the kind of dread that I love to experience. These are in no particular order, because what scares me one dark night may not work the next. Still, if you’ve missed any of these, I’d recommend you give them a try.

  • Silence of the Lambs – this one is a winner on so many levels. The story of a serial killer who skins his victims pits Jodie Foster against Anthony Hopkins in some of the most compelling filmmaking I’ve ever encountered. Hopkins is beyond chilling as he seems to help the FBI, but always at a price. The final confrontation with the killer in a darkened basement still gives me chills.
  • Alien – The first time I watched this, I had to leave the theatre when Dallas and the rest of the crew were searching through the ship for the monster. Ripley sees the danger coming on her scanner, but is helpless when the blips representing her friends begin to disappear.
  • Aliens – In some ways the sequel to Alien is even better because Ripley knows what the team of gung-ho jarheads faces, but they don’t believe her until it’s too late. The showdown with the queen remains tremendously exciting and satisfying.
  • The Babadook – Another one I had to turn off and come back to, with judicious peeks. This one plays on childhood fears and manipulates shadow to produce something really terrifying.
  • The Blair Witch Project – Nightmares for days after I saw this in the theaters. The found-footage motif shouldn’t really work, but the last shot in the basement kept me awake and still makes me tremble.
  • Don’t Look Now – it isn’t a traditional scary movie, but the slow build and misdirection culminate in a horrifying but perfect climax that has you replaying the movie to see how it got there. The shots of a chase through crumbling Venice, not to mention an allegedly real sex scene between Donald Sutherland and Julie Christie, make this a worthy Fright Night feature,
  • Rosemary’s Baby – Again, it’s the slow build that makes this such a great movie. The audience sees more than Rosemary does, and realizes that what she thinks is a bad dream is something far worse. It’s a really smart movie that almost demands repeat viewings.
  • Seven – so, so creepy. There’s something about Kevin Spacey’s monotone deliveries that scares the bejebus out of me. The build of dread is so masterfully handled that when it all comes together, you think there was no other way for the story to end. “What’s in the box?”
  • Cape Fear (the 1962 version with Robert Mitchum) – Gregory Peck is great in anything. When he squares off with Robert Mitchum as the rapist who went to jail from Peck’s testimony, the two strike so many sparks you’d think the screen would catch fire.
  • Let the Right One In – This is a slow, quiet movie, except when it isn’t. The types of horror are many and varied. We get some traditional movie scares, but the quieter macabre moments are even worse. The plight of the mysterious little girl’s companion and what that portends stayed with me for a long time.

Did I leave off your favorite scary movie? Tell us about it in the comments.

I hope this look into my tastes has you intrigued and that you take a chance on Every Breath You Take to see whether I accomplished what I set out to do. You can also find out more about me and my books at my website.

Purchase

Dreamspinner ¦ Amazon

Meet the Author

Robert Winter is a recovering lawyer who likes writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.

Robert divides his time between Washington, DC, and Provincetown, MA. He splits his attention between Andy, his partner of sixteen years, and Ling the Adventure Cat, who likes to fly in airplanes and explore the backyard jungle as long as the temperature and humidity are just right.

Website ¦ Facebook ¦ Twitter ¦ Goodreads ¦ Email

 

Blog Tour Schedule

May 8 – Stories That Make You Smile | Books, Dreams, Life
May 9 – two chicks obsessed Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
May 10 – Oh My Shelves | Butterfly-o-Meter Books
May 11 – Bayou Book Junkie | Boy Meets Boy Reviews
May 12 – Urban Smoothie Read | Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Addict by Matt Doyle

Title:  Addict

Series: The Cassie Tam Files, book 1

Author: Matt Doyle

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 8, 2017

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 56000

Genre: science fiction, Sci-fi, futuristic, addiction, friends to lovers, private detective, lesbian

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Synopsis

New Hopeland was built to be the centre of the technological age, but like everywhere else, it has its dark side. Assassins, drug dealers and crooked businessmen form a vital part of the city’s make-up, and sometimes, the police are in too deep themselves to be effective. But hey, there are always other options …

For P.I. Cassie Tam, business has been slow. So, when she’s hired to investigate the death of a local VR addict named Eddie Redwood, she thinks it’ll be easy money. All she has to do is prove to the deceased’s sister Lori that the local P.D. were right to call it an accidental overdose. The more she digs though, the more things don’t seem to sit right, and soon, Cassie finds herself knee deep in a murder investigation. But that’s just the start of her problems.

When the case forces Cassie to make contact with her drug dealing ex-girlfriend, Charlie Goldman, she’s left with a whole lot of long buried personal issues to deal with. Then there’s her client. Lori Redwood is a Tech Shifter, someone who uses a metal exoskeleton to roleplay as an animal. Cassie isn’t one to judge, but the Tech Shifting community has always left her a bit nervous. That wouldn’t be a problem if Lori wasn’t fast becoming the first person that she’s been genuinely attracted to since splitting with Charlie. Oh, and then there’s the small matter of the police wanting her to back off the case.

Easy money, huh? Yeah, right.

Excerpt

Addict
Matt Doyle © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I always did like Venetian blinds. There’s something quaint about them in a retro-tacky kinda way. Plus, they’re pretty useful for sneaking a peek out the front of the building if I feel the need. That’s something that you just can’t do with the solid, immovable metal slats that come as a standard in buildings these days. That said, a thick sheet of steel is gonna offer you a damn sight more security than thin, bendable vinyl, so I keep mine installed. Just in case.

Another round of knocking rattles the front door, louder this time than the one that woke me.

The clock says 23:47, and the unfamiliar low-end car out front screams “Don’t notice me, I’m not worth your time,” which makes for the perfect combo to stir up the paranoia that the evening’s beer and horror-film session left behind. This is my own fault. My adverts are pretty descriptive in terms of telling what I do: lost pets, cheating partners, theft, protection, retrieval of people and items, other odds and sods that the city’s finest won’t touch…I’ve got ways to deal with it all. That’s right, I’m a real odd-job gal. The one thing that I don’t put in there are business hours. The way I see it, even the missing pet cases usually leave me wandering the streets at half-past reasonable, so what’s the point in asking people to call between certain hours?

More knocking, followed this time by the squeak of my letter box and a voice. “Hello? Cassandra Tam?”

It’s funny, really. For all the tech advances that the world has made, no one has been able to improve upon the simple open-and-shut letter box. I stumble my way through the dark and wave dismissively at the frosted glass. The light switch and the keypad for the door lock are conveniently placed right next to each other on the wall to the right of the door, so welcoming my apparent guest is a nice, easy affair. The lock clicks a moment after the lights flood the room, and I pull the door open.

“Cassie,” I say, turning and skulking my way back into the room. “Or Caz. Drop the Tam.”

I hear a sniff behind me, and the lady from the letter box asks, “Are you drunk?”

“If I pass out in the next five minutes, then yes,” I reply, turning the kettle on. I’d left it full, ready for the morning, but I guess this is close enough. “Take a seat at the table. Would you prefer tea or coffee? I’d offer beer, but since I reek of it, I guess I must’ve finished it.”

Footsteps creep unapologetically across the room, and a chair squeaks on the floor. Good. If you can’t deal with a snarky response to something, don’t say it all, and if you can deal with it, then as far as I’m concerned you don’t need to apologise.

“Coffee,” the lady says. “So, do you always see potential clients in your underwear, or is it just my lucky day?” Her voice has a slightly playful edge to it, but with a sarcastic kick to round it off.

The business portion of my apartment comprises entirely of a small open-plan room separating my kitchen from my living room. And by open plan, I mean an allotted space that encroaches on both territories but is conveniently large enough to house what I need. Or, in other words, a table, four chairs, and nothing else. Since filing went near entirely digital, filing cabinets have pretty much become obsolete, so the two that I found dumped outside the building when I bought the place currently live in my bedroom, and contain a mix of quick access work stuff and personal files I’d rather not have floating on the net. Most things, though, I store electronically, the same as everything else.

I rarely use the business table to eat, read, or any of that junk, so until this evening it’s been entirely empty for a good few weeks. The lady sitting there now is studying me, I can see, and probably wondering if this was a mistake. Whatever she may have expected, a Chinese-Canadian gal of average height in a cami top and a loose pair of sleep shorts most likely wasn’t it. For what it’s worth, though, I’m studying her just the same. She’s a lithe-looking thing, dressed in a casual pair of jeans and a plain black fitted top under a leather jacket. If the metal plugs running down her shaven head like a shiny, rubber-tipped Mohawk weren’t a giveaway for what she is, the light scarring punctuating the outer edges of her pale blue eyes certainly would be. She’s a Tech Shifter, and like most of her ilk, she looks like a punk rocker gone cyborg.

Interview with author

 

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

The first one that I remember writing was a story called ‘Malfunction’, and that was way back when I was about ten or eleven. It was actually a school piece. My teacher had given us creative writing as homework and basically told us all to write a short story. There weren’t really any boundaries as to what we could or couldn’t do, as she said that we could write about whatever we wanted. The story was about a circus comprised entirely of robot clowns, and the title came about because the robots malfunctioned and started wreaking havoc in a small town. I’m not really sure what the inspiration for it was exactly. I was already reading Point Horror novels and I always loved shows like Are You Afraid Of The Dark?, Goosebumps, and the Tales From The Crypt Keeper cartoon, so at a push I’d say that my early love of horror was probably to blame. Given that the rest of the class wrote stories about superheroes and princesses, I’m surprised that my parents didn’t get a call.

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

I’m kinda mixed when it comes to schedules. For the most part, it’s when I can find the time. A lot of the time though, that equates to early evening, as that’s the time that I’m most likely to be free. If I get the chance during the day, or if inspiration hits, then I can usually find some time, but not always.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I should really outline more than I do, but I can get a little impatient with myself at times, and have the habit of just throwing myself into the story. The problem then becomes that I realise part way through that I’m going to struggle without an outline and end up having to pull one together. That inevitably results in me having to go back and make some early changes to the manuscript too, as I know full well that I’ll forget to do it later and probably lose my notes somewhere down the line. It does depend on the project though. I had a full outline in place before I began Addict because I knew that I was going to need it to keep things on track in terms of revealing different snippets of information. On the other hand, when I started The Spark Form Chronicles, I stubbornly refused to outline for most of the first book. Not outlining worked for me there because that whole world is a little chaotic at times, so writing on the fly kinda fit with the feel of it. I do find that music helps though, and have a number of albums and live performances ready to load up.

Where did the desire to write LGBTQIA+ stories come from?

It would be so easy to say that, being openly bi/pan (depending on your definition), it was natural for me to just slip into writing stories about LGBTQIA+ characters, but that simply isn’t true. I do think that having non-heterosexual characters out there is important. I know myself that having more positive role models in the world of fiction would have assisted me when I was still unsure of myself, and it’s always good to see characters that are relatable to people and their lives. It’s not necessarily something that I set out to do in most cases though. My main goal has always been to write stories that people will enjoy, and it’s just happened organically that most of my work features at least one LGBTQIA+ character. Addict was actually the first novel that I’ve written where I planned to have a non-heterosexual lead from the onset.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

It really depends on the subject matter, especially for world building. As an example, The Spark Form Chronicles is set during a futuristic card tournament. The card battles themselves form an important part of the story, so I had to do a lot of research into different CCGs, not only to get my head around common gaming mechanics outside those that I already played, but to ensure that I wouldn’t be doing anything too similar to something else when I set out the rules of the game in the books. The game itself went through about five different incarnations before I had one that I was happy with. When I wrote my Teller Tales MG horror series, far less research was required because, outside some Egyptian mythology, I was better acquainted with the subject matter. With Addict, my research covered a few more subjects, so that was more varied. Reading up on the Chinese-Canadian population in Vancouver, whether Cantonese or Mandarin was more widely used at different times, Cantonese slang, the common traits of hardboiled detectives, how crime noir fit with the cyberpunk genre … there was a lot to cover there. It did give me a good excuse to chill-out with The Maltese Falcon, Blade Runner and L.A. Confidential on the TV though.

As to ensuring that characters have authentic voices, other than trying to ensure that any cultural points are adhered to, I try not to think about things too deeply in my first drafts. I have an awful habit of second guessing myself and getting far too self-critical, so I find that my best option is usually to just write and write and write, then pick myself up if something feels off during editing. Honestly though, just having an understanding of how your characters are likely to think can be enough to get you on track like that.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

Oh, I’m awful at all of the above. The amount of times that I’ve gone through manuscripts and realised that most of my characters have got similar names or initials is ridiculous. And book titles? I have this odd obsession with having single word titles, so I don’t really make it easy for myself to find something suitable that sums up the book. Cover designs have been fine when I have professionals to help me, but when I’ve had to venture into doing the legwork myself, I just end up either over-simplifying or over-complicating things.

How do you answer the question “Oh, you’re an author…what do you write?”

“Words. And sometimes numbers. Mostly though, just … weird things.” It’s a simple answer, but it sums it up nicely. Whether it’s a novel or a story, I tend to avoid sticking to one genre and end up in the ‘hybrid genre’ category instead, so quantifying a general feel is difficult. I don’t think that anyone has ever accused me of writing something ‘normal’ either, so to claim otherwise would be very disingenuous of me.

What does your family think of your writing?

They’re very supportive. I’ve spent most of my life telling stories, whether that be through writing, in the wrestling ring, or in some other way, so they all see it as part of me. Everyone has been really proud of me getting stuff out there, and they usually enjoy my work too, so I’m pretty lucky in that respect.

Tell us about your current work in process and what you’ve got planned for the future.

There are so many! I take on far too many projects at once, so I’m never short of stuff to work on. Currently though, and excluding my blog stuff … I’ve just finished the first draft of the untitled sequel to Addict. That’ll see Cassie Tam take on a new case that spirals out of control pretty quickly, and adds a fair bit of world building to New Hopeland. I’m editing the second, third and fourth books in my MG horror series, Teller Tales. Books two and three are titled Ouela and Stoth respectively and almost ready to go, while the final book, Anubis, needs some work. I’m outlining a number of books too: The fourth Spark Form Chronicles book is a novella that focusses on Fahrn Starchaser, an ex-mercenary and out lesbian who is about to find herself in a whole lot of trouble. There’s a YA horror novella that I’m planning to write in an ergodic style, and a children’s sci-fi novel about a dystopian world full of anthropomorphic animals in the works, as well as a children’s book that features some education about wolves. I also recently found a load of old short stories that I wrote years ago, so I want to start tidying them up and moving them away from being HP Lovecraft pastiches.

Do you have any advice for all the aspiring writers out there?

Keep going! If you really want to write, then do it. Don’t be afraid to get criticism, and don’t expect everyone to like everything that you do, but know that if you like your own stories then someone else is going to too. Just keep learning, keep improving, and be proud of what you accomplish.

 

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Matt Doyle lives in the South East of England and shares his home with a wide variety of people and animals, as well as a fine selection of teas. He has spent his life chasing dreams, a habit which has seen him gain success in a great number of fields. To date, this has included spending ten years as a professional wrestler, completing a range of cosplay projects, and publishing multiple works of fiction.

These days, Matt can be found working on far too many novels at once, blogging about anime, comics, and games, and plotting and planning what other things he’ll be doing to take up what little free time he has.

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Tour Schedule

5/8 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

5/8 – Queer Sci Fi

5/9 – Oh My Shelves

5/10 – Booklover Sue

5/11 – The Novel Approach

5/12 – love bytes reviews

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Teaser Blitz: Lethal Lies

Title: LETHAL LIES​

Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Series: Blood Brothers, #2

On Sale: May 16, 2017

Publisher: Forever

Trade Paperback: $14.99 USD

eBook: $5.99 USD

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“4 1/2 stars! Top pick! This is a true thriller that will keep readers frantically flipping the pages as death and danger come at the protagonists from several directions. Zanetti’s brilliance at storytelling is on full display…When it comes to high-octane thrillers, they don’t get better than Zanetti!” —RT Book Reviews on LETHAL LIES

“Zanetti balances the adventure and menace of Zara and Ryker’s lives with a relatable romance. The result is a story that’s sexy and emotional, and filled with a rich look at love in all its forms.” —The Washington Post on DEADLY SILENCE 

“Budget your time, readers, because this is one that’s hard to put down.” —HeroesandHeartbreakers.com on DEADLY SILENCE


A deadly secret can’t stay buried forever . . .

 Revenge. It’s the only thing that will help Anya Best sleep at night. The serial killer who murdered her sister is on the loose, and Anya will stop at nothing to put him behind bars—even use herself as bait to lure him out of hiding. But she can’t do this alone.

 Private investigator Heath Jones’s job is to bring bastards to justice. This time it’s personal. He knew the Copper Killer’s latest victim so when her sister asks for his help, he’s all in. But when Anya uses the media to taunt the killer, she exposes Heath’s identity, putting them both in jeopardy. Now, secrets buried long ago are coming to light and the forces determined to destroy him are watching Heath’s every move, waiting to exact their own revenge. And they’ll use anything and anyone to get to Heath. 

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EXCERPT 

“All the more reason to get you out of town,” Heath said quietly.

She shook her head. “No. I’m staying.” Her words were brave, but her chest hurt. No way could she deal with a serial killer all on her own. She could train every day for the rest of her life and not end up as practiced or as deadly as Heath already was, and she knew it. “I understand you have other cases and people after you. So leave, and I’ll handle this myself.”

“Those are big words, baby,” he said softly.

Her lip quivered, and she bit down on it. “I know. I promised her, Heath. It’s all I have left to give to her.”

He paused, understanding crossing his expression. “Ah, sweetheart. Your sister wouldn’t want that for you.” His voice turned velvety and soft. Soothing.

Anya nodded. “I know. But she was my sister. We shared blood and part of a childhood. She took me trick-or-treating when I was five, and it’s one of my best memories. Then when I needed help as an adult, she didn’t hesitate. She came to me right away, like family. She was the first person I really cared about in far too long, and it hurts like hell that I got her killed.”

He breathed out, the emotion in his eyes deepening.

She swallowed. “I have to do this for her. Either you understand that or you don’t.”

“Why don’t you just let us handle it?”

She pressed her point. “I could, but you need me. I’m the bait.” Inwardly, she winced at the description. That wouldn’t help her to convince him. “Also, here’s the deal. This could be a long op. At some point, you have to leave and deal with whatever is haunting you from your past. When you do, I’ll just challenge him again, and next time you won’t be around to assist.”

“That’s extortion,” Heath said, amusement curving his lip.

She grinned. “Apparently I’m getting quite good at it.”

Heath shook his head. “You’re putting me in an untenable position, baby.”

“No, I’m not.” She shrugged out of his hold. Finally. “I’m not yours to protect, Heath. We’re not together, and we’re not responsible for each other.” The words sliced through her even as she said them. “You’ve been more than clear on that score.”

“There’s something here, Anya. Maybe something real and lasting, if I get everything done I need to do.”

She blinked. “What’s that?”

“The less you know the better. Believe me.”

“What a bunch of bullshit. Go back to your ‘This is fake’ proclamation,” she all but yelled. “Your position is one of work . . . and this is just work.”

His chin lifted. “You think this is just work?” The tone—low and filled with tension—zinged through her body.

Her legs trembled with the urge to take a step back. “Yes.”

“Want me to prove otherwise?” His eyes darkened to the color of the sky right before midnight hit.

As a threat, as a warning, it was damn good. But she’d gone too far to give in now. “You can’t.” Yeah, she’d just waved a red flag in front of a bull.

He didn’t move a muscle. His focus on her was so absolute, she wanted to squirm. “You’re into challenging dangerous men these days, aren’t you?”

She kept her stance. “You’re not all that dangerous, Heath.”

His smile stole her breath. Then he moved. Faster than she could track, he had her by the armpits and up in the air as he carried her toward the bedroom with such speed that her legs automatically wound around to clasp his rib cage. By the time she sucked in air to protest, her butt was on the bed, and he was flattening himself over her.

She struggled, her body on fire, fighting the urge to laugh out loud.

His mouth crushed hers, and she stilled.

Heat.

Fire.

True danger.

He held nothing back, kissing her hard, pressing her head into the comforter. His tongue worked hers, his powerful body plastered against hers, and his hands dug into her hair to hold her in place. Desire spun so quickly into need she couldn’t breathe, even when he wasn’t controlling her mouth.

She shifted against him, closing her eyes to kiss him back. This was what she’d wanted. All of this.

He nipped her lip, soothing the slight pain with another kiss. Then he traced along her jawline, kissing and nipping, finally reaching her earlobe, where he bit.

She arched against him, letting out a soft sigh.

“Anya.” His fingers tangled in her hair, and erotic pain tingled down her scalp. One of his strong arms slid around her waist and then down. His palm spread across her butt, and he ground her against his hard cock.

Pleasure swamped her, and mini explosions flew through her sex. The idea passed, somewhat fleetingly, that he wasn’t playing. Not at all.

Yet she couldn’t stop herself. Her knees widened, and she rubbed against him. “This feels real,” she whispered.



THE BLOOD BROTHERS SERIES

 DEADLY SILENCE, #1

LETHAL LIES, #2

TWISTED TRUTHS, #3

Series Page on Goodreads


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rebecca Zanetti is the author of over twenty-five romantic suspense, dark paranormal, and contemporary romances, and her books have appeared multiple times on the New York Times, USA Today, and Amazon bestseller lists. She has received a Publisher’s Weekly Starred Review for Wicked Edge, Romantic Times Reviewer Choice Nominations for Forgotten Sins and Sweet Revenge, and RT Top Picks for several of her novels. She lives in the wilds of the Pacific Northwest with her own alpha hero, two kids, a couple of dogs, a crazy cat…and a huge extended family. She believes strongly in luck, karma, and working her butt off…and she thinks one of the best things about being an author, unlike the lawyer she used to be, is that she can let the crazy out.

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Blog Tour & Scavenger Hunt: Beneath The Layers, a NineStar Anthology

Beneath the Layers, a NineStar Press Anthology.  Eight stories of men who like a little satin and lace.

A Linebacker in Lace by Caitlin Ricci
This ex-linebacker is impossible for his friend to resist.

Satin Secrets by CL Mustafic
Sometimes secrets are better when they’re shared.

Backwards and in High Heels by Elizabeth Coldwell
Tonight he has the chance to live out his dream.

Angels in Delaware by Sita Bethel
When one finds two partners, it helps to dress for the occasion.

All That Entails by E.M. Hamill
A gender-fluid prince with a penchant for gowns finds his unlikely match in an arranged marriage.

After the Dance by Sydney Blackburn
Sometimes happily ever after requires a pretty frock.

A Secret Shared by C.A. Blocke
One sweet secret shared—and a spicy one returned.

Ruffle My Feathers by Asta Idonea
Sometimes love can be found behind a feather boa.

RELEASE DATE: April 17th

Beneath the Layers is our first multi-author anthology and to celebrate, we decided to do something a little different for its release. A scavenger hunt!

An excerpt from each one of the stories in the anthology will be posted at each blog stop along the tour.

The questions for the hunt are listed below and the answers to the questions will be provided in the blog posts. Be sure to visit each stop on the tour to gather all the answers for a chance to win a $15.00 gift code for NineStar Press site!

Once you have all the answers, send them in an email to Raevyn@ninestarpress.com. Make sure BtL Hunt is in the subject line.

Two winners will be randomly chosen from readers who email the correct answers by May 1st, 2017

Look for the answers to these questions at each of the blog stops.

  1. What color were the first panties Arliss showed Brent?
  1. What was Gavin wearing under the sweatshirt?
  1. Why was Oliver seeing Mia?
  1. What did the perfume Delaware smell like?
  1. What costume did Darian wear?
  1. What did Frances long to do?
  1. What did Tommy shave?
  1. What is Barrett’s stage name?
  1. Which author’s answer surprised you?

Add to GoodreadsSynopsis

A Linebacker in Lace by Caitlin Ricci

Brent likes wearing lace underwear, but it’s not something he plans to reveal, and he never thought he’d meet a guy who shared his kink. So when Arliss approaches him at a bar and mentions he can see lace underwear peeking out from his waistband, Brent is embarrassed—until he finds out Arliss has got a thing for guys in lace.

Satin Secrets by CL Mustafic

When Dr. Gavin Addison answers his doorbell, instead of the delivery guy he expected, he gets Officer Lex Turner, who takes Gavin’s invitation to step in out of the cold a little too far. Before he leaves though, he investigates the satin lace peeking out between Gavin’s shirt and pants. Will what he finds be the only secret revealed?

Backwards and in High Heels by Elizabeth Coldwell

Dancing cheek-to-cheek with his lover while wearing a beautiful gown has always been Billie’s dream. But how can he persuade a sympathetic teacher that he needs to learn how to dance backwards—like a woman—so he can make that fantasy come true?

Angels in Delaware by Sita Bethel

Stranded at a nightclub, Beau thought he’d have a long, solitary walk home. He never expected to meet two gorgeous strangers willing to give him a different kind of ride instead.

All That Entails by E.M. Hamill

Prince Darian is prepared to set aside his scandalous preference for gowns and take a wife to benefit his royal brother’s treasury. Henry is resigned to the fate his outward sex dictates and determined to follow through with an arranged marriage to the prince, rather than risk his father’s threat of an asylum. But he will enter this union with the truth known—or not at all.

In each other, they find unlikely kindred spirits and realize they may finally get the acceptance for which they’ve always longed.

After the Dance by Sydney Blackburn

Mechanic Frank Dixon knows his unrequited love for the boss’s son, Charles Quinn, is an impossible dream, even after he and Charles work together on a special project and become friends. When Charles confides his parents are going to force him to choose a bride during an old-fashioned ball, Frank’s roommate uses his influence to help Frank fulfill his wish to attend the ball in a pretty frock. But after the dance, will his heart be broken, or will all his dreams come true?

A Secret Shared by C.A. Blocke

When Michael told Tommy of his nerdy secret life as a Dungeon Master, after a few months of casual dating that seemed to be heading for serious territory, he didn’t expect anything in return. He certainly didn’t expect his new boyfriend to join him for a game session, and he definitely didn’t anticipate Tommy divulging his desire to dress up en femme. Thankfully, the surprise comes out well—for both of them.

Ruffle My Feathers by Asta Idonea

Barrett leads a double life—builder by day and drag act by night. Having successfully kept this from his colleagues, he’s stunned when he spots his boss, Keith, at a performance. Unlike Barrett, Keith is still completely in the closet. And though he promises not to reveal Barrett’s secret, the sight of Barrett in dress and feather boa awakes hidden desires, and he may not be able to keep them at bay.

 

 Exclusive Excerpt

Ruffle My Feathers by Asta Idonea

Once he’d shut the door behind him, Barrett undressed, tossing his T-shirt and jeans carelessly over the back of the chair. Then he moved to the clothing rail and perused the garments. Red tonight, he decided, with gold accents. He eased the dress from its hanger and stepped into it. The silky fabric sent a pleasurable shiver through him as he slid it over his hips and slipped his arms through the spaghetti-strap sleeves. It zipped at the side, pulling the fabric taut across his chest, squeezing his pecs into the semblance of a bosom.

He moved to the mirrored dressing table, sank into the chair, and reached for his makeup. The crimson lipstick was a perfect match for the dress and complemented his dark skin. The fake eyelashes and eyeliner highlighted the whites of his eyes, making them appear larger and brighter than usual.

A knock sounded on the door. “Ten minutes, Miss James,” the stagehand called, before dashing off, his footsteps fading.

Barrett reverently lifted the blonde wig from its stand, set it atop his head, and fixed it in place. He arranged the curls and assessed his reflection. Only one thing was missing. He rose, turned toward the rack, and selected a gold feather boa from amongst the vast selection. With it draped around his shoulders, the transformation was complete. Barrett James was gone, and in his place stood Betsy James, blonde bombshell.

Unlike some others in the show—slender “pretty boys” who lived their personas off stage as well as on—no one would ever mistake Barrett for a woman. His biceps bulged, making the dress straps look insubstantial, and his thighs strained the skirt’s seams. It didn’t matter though. Not to him. This wasn’t about deceiving others, but for his own pleasure. The patrons didn’t seem to mind either. His boss, Grant, said his appearance pleased those looking for something a little more masculine and macho amongst the twinks.

Barrett had fallen into this weekend profession by pure chance. He’d never before evinced a fetish for women’s clothing; it wasn’t a secret from his teenage years or the result of childhood trauma. It had all started with his brother’s bachelor party when they’d decided to dress in drag for a lark as part of the evening pub crawl. To his surprise, Barrett had enjoyed the experience. He’d loved the caress of the feminine fabrics against his bare skin. The heels had been a pain at first, but he’d come to like the way they made him walk, straight and tall. When the rowdy revellers rolled home in the early hours of the following morning, he’d spent ages in front of the mirror, staring at his reflection and pondering how different he looked in a wig and lipstick.

For several weeks he’d thought back to that night with fondness and longing. He knew he wanted to do it again, but unless someone else in his set got married, he saw no opportunity. Eventually he purchased a few items and dressed up in private at home, never daring to venture past the front door. Until he received a leaflet in his junk mail one morning. The pamphlet advertised a new drag club opening in the city, and they were looking for acts.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Tour Schedule

4/17 ~  Erotica For All

4/17 ~  Love Bytes

4/18 ~  Boy Meets Boy Reviews

4/18 ~  Zipper Rippers ­

4/19 ~  Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/19 ~  Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/20 ~  Oh My Shelves

4/20 ~  The Novel Approach

4/21 ~  Stories That Make You Smile

4/21 ~  Happily Ever Chapter

 

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Falling For Him by CL Mustafic

Title:  Falling for Him

Author: CL Mustafic

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Female/Male (No Male/Male interaction)

Length: 116000

Genre: Romance, attempted murder, coming out, divorce, hate crime, law enforcement, medical profession, MFM, OFY

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

Doctor Gavin Addison’s marriage didn’t end on the friendliest of terms, and his estranged wife’s continual harassment has the local police visiting his home so often they’ve started calling him “the doc.” One of those cops, Officer Lex Turner, has a crush on the handsome doc, even though he knows there’s no chance the doc would ever consider dating a man.

A chance encounter on a crowded dance floor ends with both men in the same bed with the same woman—but with questionable results. When the doc wants to try that again, Lex becomes more involved than he’d dreamed possible as he helps his new friend navigate the kinkier side of sex. Knowing it’s just sex for Gavin, Lex finds it hard to keep his feelings hidden. But when Gavin finally figures out he has feelings for Lex that go beyond what a guy should feel for his buddy, will he let Lex convince him to take a chance with him—even if it turns both their lives upside down?

Excerpt

Falling for Him
CL Mustafic © 2017
All Rights Reserved

“How much paperwork we got tonight?” Grady asked. He turned on his computer and started digging through his desk drawer, looking for god knows what.

“Not too much. Gotta finish up that report on the doc’s vandalism, and you need to write up that accident report. Then we can get back out there for another fun-filled night,” Lex said, making Grady wrinkle his nose.

“That damn woman makes for a lot of fucking paperwork. I’ve got half a mind to handcuff her to her water heater and forget her,” Grady said with a smirk for his own cocky bravado. “Don’t know how a nice guy like the doc got mixed up with a crazy bitch like that.”

Lex sat back in his chair. That was the question, wasn’t it? The doc seemed like a decent enough guy. Why his ex, one Cassandra Addison, would want to make the poor guy’s life hell was beyond Lex. It was even more fucked up when you added in the fact that, from what Lex had gathered, she’d cheated on him. He just hoped they wouldn’t end up with a Fatal Attraction–type ending with this case.

“Yeah, well, sometimes they hide the crazy until they have you in their clutches; then, bam presto chango, psycho chick is in your bed, and you’re fucked in more ways than one,” Lex said.

“Sounds like you got some experience in that area.”

“Don’t we all?”

Grady’s gaze shifted to something over Lex’s shoulder. “Speak of the devil,” Grady whispered.

Lex turned around, hoping that Cassandra Addison was not, in fact, standing behind him. Nope, not the bitch, but Gavin was, and he didn’t look thrilled to be in Lex’s humble workplace. Lex cast an appreciative look over the handsome doctor. He was one fine-looking man, with blond hair that curled wispily around his head and those deep-brown eyes, where you expected to see crystal blue, got Lex every time. Gavin had the greatest smile, and the dimples that peeked out at the slightest grin made Lex want to dip his tongue in them. He shook his head to clear away the thoughts of what he would like to do to the doc, if the doc was so inclined, that was.

“You got him, Grady. You know you’re better with this kind of crap.” He didn’t tell Grady that he got tongue-tied around Gavin and was afraid he’d make a fool of himself.

Grady stood up, smiled, and gestured for Gavin to take a seat by his desk. “Hey there, Doc, what’s up today?” he asked as if Gavin’s was a social visit.

Color rose on Gavin’s cheeks as he flushed a little before answering. Lex was glad he was sitting at his desk because the doc blushing like that did things to his body that weren’t acceptable in polite company. “There’s been another incident. I can’t be one hundred percent sure she did this, but I can’t think of anyone else who would want to humiliate me so much.”

“So what did she do this time?” Grady asked, “Or allegedly do?”

Gavin handed Grady a little slip of paper. “If you punch that into your web browser, you can see for yourself.” Grady took the paper and turned to his computer to type in the web address. He waited a second, and when Grady’s brow furrowed at what he saw on the screen, Gavin’s blush deepened. Lex itched to see what was on that screen but stayed in his seat.

“Why do you want me to look at your personal ad?” Grady asked.

“Because I didn’t post it, and that little sticky note was stuck to a computer at the nurse’s station on the fourth floor surgical unit where I happen to do rounds every morning. Everyone at the hospital now thinks I’m some kind of kinky pervert,” Gavin explained, visibly upset.

Lex had to see what was on Grady’s screen. He got up to look at his partner’s computer. He instantly understood why the doc had turned pink when he handed over the little piece of paper. Lex shook his head; that woman was pure evil.

 

Exclusive Excerpt from Falling for Him by CL Mustafic

The frickin’ doc was one of those people who called back even when they didn’t know who was calling them. “Is this Dr. Addison?” Lex asked, though he’d recognized the voice immediately.

“Yes, this is he. Who’s this?”

“This is Officer Turner. You left a message for me to call.”

“Oh yeah, I mean yes, I did. I um thought you would…I mean the cops, the police would want to know that Cassie’s parents called me this morning,” Gavin said, stumbling over the words. Lex wondered what had made him stutter like that. Maybe the parents had threatened him? He bristled at the thought.

“That may be helpful, but really you should call Detective McDaniels with any information since he’s handling your case,” Lex said, repeating what the front desk officer had told him.

“Yeah, I…um… Woo…uh…could we…um… I mean…wouldyouwanttogetadrinksometime?”

“Huh?” Lex couldn’t believe his ears; they must be playing tricks on him. The doc surely hadn’t just asked him out?

There was a nervous chuckle on the other end of the line and then a few deep breaths. “Would you want to go out and get a beer with me sometime?” Gavin asked slower this time.

“Um…I guess…” Stuttering was contagious, and it didn’t help that Lex’s mind was running wild. He had to get a grip and play it cool. Gavin wanted to go out for a beer. That was all. He took a deep, cleansing breath. “Sure, we could do that. When’s good for you?” Lex was proud of how normal he sounded.

There was an audible sigh from the doc’s end. “Um, any night, really. I’d, ah, prefer sooner, rather than later though.”

“Tonight?” Lex asked and then quickly added, “I’m off tonight, and then I have three midnight to noon shifts, so I wouldn’t have another free night until Sunday.” There was what seemed to Lex an extremely long pause, and the dead air made him nervous. Maybe he’d been too eager? “Doc, you still there?”

“Yeah, I’m still here,” Gavin said. He didn’t say any more than that though, which left Lex pondering what the doc was thinking.

“It’s fine if tonight doesn’t work. I didn’t mean—”

“No, no, tonight’s fine, I was just…um…Stucky’s? I mean do you want to meet at Stucky’s?” Gavin interrupted to ask.

“Depends on what you have in mind,” Lex said.

“Wh-what do you mean?”

“I mean, if you want to talk, somewhere without the loud music would be better,” Lex said. “There’s a little pub on Washington. I’ve been there before. It’s quieter and not quite as busy.”

“Yeah, okay, that sounds fine. Do you have an address? I don’t think I know which bar you’re talking about,” Gavin asked. He didn’t sound excited by Lex’s choice of venue. Lex wondered if he’d made the wrong choice by suggesting it.

“I could pick you up,” Lex offered.

“I don’t think so. I’d rather drive myself if that’s okay.”

“Yeah, no problem. So it’s Carlson’s Pub, next to the appliance store. You can’t miss it. Is seven okay? I’m not sure how late I’ll be able to stay awake. I haven’t been to bed yet,” Lex said.

“Oh crap, really? I’m sorry if tonight’s not going to be good. We could wait.”

“No, it’s fine. So, seven?” Lex asked again.

“Yeah, seven. I have to go. Patients to see, you know?”

“Yeah okay, see ya tonight then,” Lex said. He couldn’t keep the smile out of his voice because he had a date with the doc.

“Okay, bye.”

Lex fell back on his bed. Who’d have thought after what had happened that night with Rachel that the doc would be the one to call him and ask him out? He tried to contain his excitement by reminding himself Gavin was still the same straight man who had refused his kiss. God, he was stupid; Gavin probably just wanted to be friends, or maybe Lex had gotten it completely wrong, and the doc actually wanted to talk about his case. But why out of all the cops, would he pick Lex for that?

Lex let his thoughts drift with fantasies about Gavin. He couldn’t wait to see the doc again and was glad that it was only a few hours wait.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

CL Mustafic is a born and bred American mid-westerner who mysteriously ended up living in one of those countries nobody can ever find on the map of Europe. Left with too much time on her hands—let’s be honest here: it was the lack of television channels in her native language–and too many voices in her head trying to fill the silence, she decided to give her life-long dream of writing a novel a shot. So now, between shuttling kids back and forth from various activities and risking her life on the insanely narrow, busy streets of her new hometown, she loses herself in her own made-up world where love always wins.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Email

Tour Schedule

4/17 – Stories That Make You Smile

4/17 – MM Book Escape

4/18 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

4/18 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

4/19 – Oh My Shelves

4/19 – MM Good Book Reviews

4/20 – Slashsessed

4/20 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

4/21 – Happily Ever Chapter

4/21 – Love Bytes

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Shelter The Sea by Heidi Cullinan

Oh My Shelves welcomes author Heidi Cullinan to the blog today. She brings her highly anticipated release Shelter The Sea out today. Along with her is a sneak preview of chapter one of Shelter the Sea  and a great giveaway. Please give Heidi a really big OMS welcome!!!!

 

Chapter One

Emmet

My boyfriend, Jeremey, thinks the moon looks like a watermelon.

He said this the night we visited my aunt for Christmas. My aunt who lives in Minneapolis, not the one who lives in Ames, though Althea was there that night too. Aunt Stacy has a telescope, and she let me use it to show Jeremey the moon up close. I was listing the names of the seas and craters when he told me what the moon reminded him of.

“It looks like a watermelon.”

I tried to work out how the moon could be similar to a watermelon, but I couldn’t do it. “Jeremey, it isn’t even green.”

“But it has the lines across it, the same as a watermelon, and they all come from a single point, the stub where the stem would have been, leading back to the rest of the plant. See? That spot there. The bright one at the bottom.”

He let me use the telescope again. I still didn’t see a watermelon. “That’s Tycho. It’s a crater.”

“Like the toy company?”

“No. The toy company is spelled T-y-c-o. This is T-y-c-h-o, for the Dutch astronomer. It was seventy percent likely formed by the asteroid 298 Baptistina, which they used to think was the same one that made the dinosaurs go extinct, but then they found out it wasn’t.”

“It will always be a watermelon to me now. But I’ll remember the stem’s name is Tycho.” Jeremey leaned on my shoulder, gazing at the moon without the telescope. “I didn’t realize there were so many seas on the moon. I didn’t think it had any water.”

“It doesn’t on the surface. Solar radiation burned all the water off, but they thought it might be in lunar rocks. Surface ice has been discovered recently, however.”

“Why do scientists always look for water on the moon and other planets?”

“Because it’s the essential element for any human habitation. Unfortunately, so far lunar habitation isn’t looking good.”

“But they have all those seas on the moon. Does that mean it used to have water?”

“No. Those are lunar maria, basaltic plains. The early astronomers thought they were ancient seas, but they were in fact formed by ancient volcanic eruptions.”

Jeremey settled his head more heavily on my shoulder, listening, and so I kept talking. I told him about the lunar dust, how it covers the surface and comes from comets hitting the surface, five tons of dust rising and falling every day. How the dust takes ten minutes to land.

Jeremey shook his head. “What do you mean, ten minutes to land? That’s how long until the dust hits?”

“No. It hits, then rises, but because there’s so little gravity, it takes five minutes for it to rise and then five minutes to fall back down. Which means the moon has on average one hundred and twenty kilograms of lunar dust rising one hundred kilometers above the surface at all times.”

“Wow. You know a lot about the moon.”

I knew a lot more than what I’d said so far, and when I told him this, he asked to hear the rest. We sat there for another hour, me telling him everything I knew, until my voice was scratchy and I needed water. He went inside and got some for me, and then he talked while I drank it.

“It’s so weird to think the moon has all those seas but no water. The names are so pretty. I almost prefer the Latin ones because they’re so mystical. Mare Nubium. Though Sea of Clouds is nice too.” He hugged his arms around his body. “Are there places on Earth called seas or oceans without any water?”

“They call the deserts sand seas, sometimes.”

“That sounds sad, though.”

He swayed back and forth, and I rocked and hummed with him because I was so content.

Then he spoke once more, his voice quiet. “I heard your mom talking inside. About The Roosevelt. Bob is worried about money.”

I stopped rocking, but my insides felt jumbly the way they always did when this subject came up. The Roosevelt was the place where Jeremey and I lived, and Bob was the man who owned it, the father of David, one of our best friends. “David would tell us if something serious was wrong. Bob’s having a fundraiser on New Year’s Eve.”

“Your mom is worried it won’t be enough. Not with the budget cuts the state is proposing and the way they’re restructuring the mental health system as a whole.” Jeremey hugged himself tighter. “I don’t want to lose The Roosevelt.”

I didn’t want to lose The Roosevelt either. I didn’t think it was a good idea to worry, though. “Why don’t we wait to talk to David. There’s not much we can do about anything up here on the roof. We should enjoy the moon and think about how slowly the dust is rising and falling.”

We did exactly that, and I noticed Jeremey relaxed. The next time he had something to say, it was about the moon, not about fears of losing our home. “Sometimes we say people have seas of emotion. What would sea of emotion be in Latin?”

“Mare Adfectus. And sand sea would be Mare Harenam.”

“I like sand sea in Latin better. But mostly I enjoy hearing you tell me all about things like the seas of the moon. Even if they are salt.”

“Basalt isn’t salt. It’s silica.”

“Can you tell me all about basalt and silica?”

I could, and I did.

Most people don’t want to hear me talk about the things I know, but most people aren’t Jeremey. He doesn’t mind that I’m autistic. He says it’s one of his favorite things about me. He says sometimes my autism is the best medicine for his depression and anxiety, which was why we’d gone up to the telescope in the first place. Jeremey was anxious in my aunt’s house, and he’d been depressed for a few days as well, he’d told me. He’d been depressed more often than not for several months now, in fact, and it didn’t matter how they adjusted his meds or how often he went to see his therapist, Dr. North. Depression, and sometimes anxiety too, kept getting the better of him. I wondered if it was because he was worried about the rumors we kept hearing about The Roosevelt being in trouble, though it was hard to say with depression. It could be for no reason except because depression eats happiness.

But Jeremey said when we sat together in the moonlight and I told him all the facts about the moon and basalt, he felt better.

Jeremey and I have been boyfriends for over two years now. We’ve lived together for most of that time in The Roosevelt. Neither of us is okay to function in the world alone, but together and with the help of our friends and family, and the staff at The Roosevelt, we’re independent and happy.

Except that night with Jeremey wrapped in a blanket and arranged carefully in my arms, I decided I didn’t want to be quite so independent anymore. I wanted to keep Jeremey with me, to take care of him and to let him take care of me. I wanted to be dependent on him. I wanted him to be there to tell me the moon looks like a watermelon and then ask me to talk for another hour about basalt. I wanted to do everything with Jeremey, forever. This is a special kind of thing between boyfriends, when you feel this way. This meant I wanted to marry Jeremey.

With people on the mean, coming to such a realization would be simple. I would have bought a ring, asked him, and we’d have gotten married. But I’m not a person on the mean, and neither is Jeremey. And when I made the decision to marry Jeremey, it was only December. There were so many changes about to happen, earthquakes coming because the world wasn’t content to let people such as Jeremey and me simply enjoy the next step in our happy ever after. Not without a lot of complications.

This story is about how we undid those complications and got ourselves the rest of our happy ever after anyway.

#

Asking Jeremey to marry me was a big question, and it deserved some serious consideration and preparation. I knew getting married was complicated no matter what, but I didn’t know what kind of accommodation my autism and his depression and anxiety would require from a practical standpoint. I was nervous, but not because I thought asking him was a mistake. Marrying Jeremey was a logical move, and I felt confident about our relationship. I didn’t worry about Jeremey’s answer, either. The probability of him saying no was low.

But I knew our families would be concerned, especially Jeremey’s. They didn’t like that I was autistic. They hated the autism part more than the gay part, Jeremey said. They would be upset if we got engaged, and this would upset Jeremey, which would only make his depression worse.

Jeremey’s depression was often challenging for me. I had a difficult time understanding how to live with it as his partner. His anxiety was okay. He had the AWARE anxiety management strategy to manage himself, and I knew all the steps and could help him remember to do them. But depression was tricky. Anxiety I could see on the outside, but depression happened on the inside. It scared me. He’d already attempted suicide once, and I never wanted it to happen again. I knew I couldn’t necessarily stop this from occurring, but I also knew the variables which influenced the odds.

My mother would call this splitting hairs. I will never understand either this metaphor or how anyone could split a hair with any knife or ax or sharp instrument of any kind.

There were other considerations to proposing to Jeremey, though. I didn’t get disability anymore because of my employer, but Jeremey did. He had a job as our friend David’s uncertified aide, but it was part-time. He attended community college for a short while to be a Certified Medical Aide, but it was too stressful for him. He took some classes online, but it was hard for him. Eventually he decided to stay on disability and maybe try classes another time. He made a small salary as David’s aide, but it was basically a discount on his fees for being at The Roosevelt.

Right now his insurance comes from Medicaid, which is complicated and messy since the State of Iowa decided to make it privatized. My mother, a medical doctor, has a great deal to say about this, and most of it is swearing. All I know is when Jeremey had to switch to the private plan, he had to pick one of three insurance companies, and now he has to drive to Des Moines for half his appointments since most of the providers he used stopped taking his insurance due to the Medicaid privatization. Some of the doctors he saw only took one kind but not another, so he had to choose which ones he wanted to see. He has regular panic attacks over dealing with his health care management now, and this is with me, my parents, and The Roosevelt staff helping him. My mother says people who don’t have support staff are up “shit crick.” Crick is a colloquial way of saying creek, which is a synonym for small stream. She assures me they do not actually need to walk up a river of poop, but they might as well because it would probably be less awful than navigating our new health system.

I’ve never been on Medicaid. Even if I had been, it wouldn’t have mattered as we also had my family’s insurance, which meant we could make other choices. Technically Jeremey could use his family’s insurance until he is twenty-six, but then he would have to negotiate with his parents, who are challenging, so he’s elected to deal with the messy state system alone. I don’t use my family insurance anymore either, since I work full-time now at Workiva. I worked for them part-time while I was still in college because they think I’m a genius. This is because I am a genius.

Workiva gives me a generous salary and benefits package, including insurance. I thought if I married Jeremey, he could be on my insurance, but I didn’t know if Jeremey’s disability payments would change if he was my husband. Jeremey’s job with David and his SSI payments cover his part of our bill for our apartment and fees at The Roosevelt with a tiny bit of spending money for Jeremey left over. The truth is if he didn’t live with me, he couldn’t afford to live at The Roosevelt. I don’t know, to be honest, how he would live at all.

I hoped marrying me would make things easier, but it was worth checking to make sure they didn’t get more complicated instead. The trouble was, I didn’t know who to talk with about my plan. I thought about talking to David, who was my friend as much as Jeremey’s, but he wasn’t my first choice. David was disabled, but he wasn’t on the spectrum. I felt these were spectrum issues, and so I decided I should go to a friend who was also on the spectrum, Darren.

I made the decision to contact Darren on my way home from work one day, so when I arrived at The Roosevelt, I was eager to go upstairs and begin the conversation. First, however, I had to stop in the lounge and say hello to Jeremey and my friends. I didn’t want to because I was so focused on the potential conversation with Darren, but it would have been rude to skip them. Since the whole point was to figure out how to marry Jeremey, it was logical to take the time to care for his feelings first.

I was already being a good husband before I’d even proposed.

When the Workiva car dropped me off at The Roosevelt, I hummed, feeling happy. I liked that we had snow. Everything felt quieter when we had snow. There had been a blizzard the day before, and we’d made snow residents on the lawn. They smiled at me as I passed, and I smiled back.

As I entered the lounge, I counted seven people in the room, eight now because I was also present. David and Jeremey were there, as well as Sally and Tammy, the support staff for the building. Paul had his back to them as he played Xbox, but he had no headphones and the TV sound was off, so I knew he was listening to the conversation. Cameron was with Sally at the table, running his Spirograph while he spoke. This meant he was concentrating.

Stuart sat beside him, watching the circles and patterns and occasionally making yelp noises to let Cameron know he enjoyed the drawings and was excited to be included in the conversation. Most people wouldn’t consider drawing a conversation, but it was to Cameron and Stuart.

Stuart is a strange guy. He’s on the spectrum too—a lot of us in the building are—but there’s something about him that makes me want to flap my hands. Technically the term for flapping is stimming, but I’ve always thought of it as flapping, so that’s what I call it. Stuart makes me feel flappy. He uses his camera eyes to watch me, the same as I watch him. Like a lot of autistic people, he doesn’t have to look directly at something to see it. Yet I always feel as if he’s watching me whenever I’m in the lounge. Tammy says this is because I did a viral video with David and Jeremey last year. We dressed up like the Blues Brothers and danced through Target to Stuart’s favorite song by his favorite artist, “Happy” by Pharrell Williams, and became YouTube stars for a few days. To this I say, why doesn’t he watch Jeremey or David?

Tammy says it’s because they don’t dance like Elwood Blues or have autism the same as he does. Except our autism isn’t the same, but Tammy doesn’t understand. She means well, but autism isn’t one size fits all. Stuart and I are living proof.

Beside Stuart was David in his wheelchair, and beside David was Jeremey. I signed my special hello to Jeremey, and then I flapped at the room so they knew I was happy to see them too.

Sally waved me over. “We’re making plans for a party, Emmet. A New Year’s Eve party. Come join us.”

I ignored her for a minute because every time I see Jeremey after work I give him a touch. Jeremey loves touches and hugs about as much as they make me feel as if someone put my skin on inside out. Sometimes I hug him after work and sometimes I don’t, but he always gets some physical contact from me.

I put a hand on his shoulder, and his body went soft as he leaned his cheek on my hand.

Though physical contact isn’t my favorite thing as a general rule, when I touch Jeremey it’s a different story. Today as it usually happened, when I rested my hand on his shoulder, I wanted to sign for him to go upstairs with me and have sex. But it would be rude to leave the party-planning meeting when I’d just arrived, plus I had the chat with Darren to do. So I found a straight-backed chair I could put near David and Jeremey.

David had waited to greet me because he knew Jeremey came first, but when I sat, he held out his fist for me to bump. Our fist bumps are awkward since I clunk too hard and he can’t close his fist all the way or aim well to meet mine, but it’s okay.

Tammy had a list in front of her with two columns, one labeled activities and another snack food. Karaoke and dancing were under the activities column. They were not my favorites. But Mexican train dominoes was on the list too, and I enjoyed this game a lot. I don’t know what is Mexican about it, and I’ve asked, but Sally says it’s only a name. I haven’t been able to find any research that explains why it’s called that either, but I enjoy the game a great deal.

I studied the snacks side of the list and flapped excitedly when I saw what she’d written. Parmesan popcorn was a treat Tammy made when she was extra happy or wanted to reward a resident. It was on the list twice, once with plain written beside it and the other saying there would be M&M’s in the popcorn. This is because some residents enjoy the sweet and salty mixed together in the same bowl and some of us would need to go to the corner and hum if food were jumbled like that.

I didn’t say much while the others planned. Too many people were talking at once, and work and thinking about how to propose to Jeremey had drained my energy, so when I had an idea, I sent texts to Jeremey, who read them to the group. But then I had a thought so big I wanted to say it myself. I tapped the table, and when Sally called on me, I said, “Can we invite Darren?”

“That sounds like a great idea. I’ll talk to his staff and see about arranging for him to come over.”

I was annoyed because I wanted to invite Darren myself, not have staff do it. I thought if I hurried to the apartment, I could maybe invite him first, but before I could excuse myself, Jeremey tapped my leg twice to get my attention. When I turned to him, he didn’t speak, he signed.

A teacher of mine a long time ago taught me and my family to use American Sign Language to communicate during a period when speaking out loud felt too intense for me. I speak out loud often now, but I still use ASL sometimes because it’s handy. My family, friends, and boyfriend use it too, especially when we wanted to have conversations without other people getting involved. When I saw what Jeremey had to say to me, I understood why he was signing instead of speaking.

I caught Sally and Tammy whispering about budgets in the staffroom when they didn’t think I was close enough to hear.

Jeremey was worried about The Roosevelt closing again. Though if Sally and Tammy were whispering about it, maybe he was right to worry. I signed back to him. We need to talk to David instead of eavesdropping.

Jeremey nodded. I thought I would go see him now before we went upstairs to make dinner. But it might mean we start making dinner and do our laundry late.

This worked out perfectly. I need to talk to Darren about something anyway. We can adjust our schedule by a half an hour or even forty-five minutes without a problem.

Jeremey smiled at me, and my chest felt warm and tight. I love you, Emmet.

I love you too, Jeremey.

I kissed the inside of my palm, then pressed that palm to Jeremey’s. His eyes were bright as he took the kiss tight in his fist and his open palm to his lips.

I couldn’t stop smiling. I loved him so much.

“I’ll see you at dinner,” I said, then stood to go get some advice on what would be the best way to marry him.

 

Book Info

 

Shelter The Sea: by Heidi Cullinan
Series: The Roosevlet #2
Release Date: April 18th, 2017
Pages: 190 • Format: eARC
Published By: Heidi Cullinan
Purchase Links:
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Some heroes wear capes. Some prefer sensory sacks.

Emmet Washington has never let the world define him, even though he, his boyfriend, Jeremey, and his friends aren’t considered “real” adults because of their disabilities. When the State of Iowa restructures its mental health system and puts the independent living facility where they live in jeopardy, Emmet refuses to be forced into substandard, privatized corporate care. With the help of Jeremey and their friends, he starts a local grassroots organization and fights every step of the way.

In addition to navigating his boyfriend’s increased depression and anxiety, Emmet has to make his autistic tics acceptable to politicians and donors, and he wonders if they’re raising awareness or putting their disabilities on display. When their campaign attracts the attention of the opposition’s powerful corporate lobbyist, Emmet relies on his skill with calculations and predictions and trusts he can save the day—for himself, his friends, and everyone with disabilities.

He only hopes there isn’t a variable in his formula he’s failed to foresee.

Giveaway

Carry the OceanShelter the Sea signed paperbacks and Roosevelt Blues Brother kit (black fedora and skinny tie)

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Author Bio

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys cooking, reading, playing with her cats, and watching television with her family. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Saved by Karrie Roman

Title:  Saved

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 10

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 70000

Genre: Romance, gay, kidnapping, law enforcement, criminals, PTSD, thriller

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Synopsis

Detective Jack Mitchell is not a people person. After fourteen years dealing with the monsters of society, he has learned to keep people at arm’s length. Failing is his biggest frustration, and on the case of his career, he is having no luck hunting down a copycat serial killer…or the one man who survived the original case.

Six years ago, Will Blaikie was taken by a monster who changed his life forever. Narrowly surviving, he has become a prisoner in his own home. Friendless and alone, he watches in horror as a new monster emerges who only wants to copy the murderous deeds of Will’s monster…including taking Will.

When these two men are thrown together, and the monster comes for them both, one must learn to feel safe and protected, and the other must learn to feel love and peace.

 Exclusive Excerpt

Saved
Karrie Roman © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Every now and then Jack murmured nonsense into Will’s ear as though he could feel when Will’s anxiety rose. Perhaps he could.

“Do I…do I need to answer some questions, Jack?” The thought of talking about the attack left Will cold, but he knew he had to tell the police whatever he could to help as soon as possible, while it was fresh in his mind. He watched strangers moving through his home in their easily recognizable crime scene technicians’ jumpsuits. They were the good guys, and Will had done nothing wrong, yet their presence still felt like a violation. He could hear Henley whimpering outside, unable to come into the house in case he contaminated their crime scene.

“When you’re ready, Will, but the sooner you can, the better. We can do it here or go down to the station if you would feel better. Whatever you need, okay?” Jack continued rubbing small circles into Will’s shoulder as he spoke.

It had to be done, and he knew he could do it with Jack there. “Okay. Let’s do it now.” There was something he wanted first though. “Jack, would I be able to go out to Henley?”

Jack turned his head towards the sound of Henley’s whimpering, looking slightly startled. Obviously, in the commotion, he had forgotten about the dog. “Shit. Yeah, of course. Sorry, Will, I didn’t even think.” Jack seemed abashed at the oversight though he shouldn’t.

They moved towards the patio door, watching as Henley just about shook his body in half with the excitement of his master’s approach. Jack slid the door open far enough for them both to squeeze out before the excitable pooch could launch himself in to the middle of a crime scene. Will immediately dropped to the ground, pulling the dog into a fierce embrace. He was rewarded with copious amounts of slobber from the constant canine kisses bestowed upon him. Will could hear Jack chuckling as he stood above them, watching the affectionate spectacle. Reaching up with his free hand, Will pulled Jack to join him on the ground. The irrepressible Henley seeing fit to bestow a few of his kisses on Jack, whose disgruntled noises made his displeasure clear. Until tonight, Henley had merely tolerated Jack, but his part in reuniting Henley with his master must have upped him in the friendship stakes.

After what had happened to him years ago, Will had learnt to relish the joyful times. Watching big, tough Jack Mitchell covered in slobber, trying to disentangle himself from an over-exuberant mutt, was one of those times.

Once Henley had wriggled and slobbered and cavorted himself to exhaustion, Will sat with his back to the side of the house, Henley lying contentedly with his big furry head on Will’s legs. Jack sat on the opposite side of Will, clearly trying to stay out of range of the big, slobbering tongue. “He never saw it coming, Jack.” It was harder than he thought to get the words out. “He was at the door with a big smile on his face one minute and the next minute…”

“It’s okay, Will. Take your time.”

“It’s a bit of a blur. I remember coming out of the kitchen just as Nathan was opening the door. Jim was standing there about to walk in, and then there was this bang and Jim was falling. By the time Mosley got to me, the monster was there, and he just stepped over Jim’s body. How does someone do that?” Despite witnessing the worst of it, human nature still baffled Will. “Mosley just grabbed me, and we ran, and the next thing I knew I was in the bathtub.”

“Did you get a good look at the guy?”

“Not really, just a passing glance. I couldn’t take my eyes off Jim, and then I had my head down in the tub. He seemed average-looking. It’s just an impression more than anything, but nothing about him stood out.” It amazed Will that real monsters looked so normal rather than the malformed imaginings of childhood monsters.

Jack was sitting motionless, staring out at the night sky. He was calm and that gave Will courage. “What happened once you were in the bathroom?”

“I had my head down, and then there was a gunshot, and it was so loud. I looked up and Mosley was standing in front of the tub, guarding me. He stood there solid as a rock with his gun, but his hands were trembling. He was so brave, Jack, and he’s so young.” Will was in awe of the courage it took to stand so stoically in the face of danger.

“He did very well, Will. Thank God.” There was a tiny unmistakable wobble in Jack’s voice.

“After the gunshot, there was a thud on the door. I think the monster was trying to break in at that point, but that’s when we heard the sirens.”

“Why do you call them ‘monster’?” Jack’s voice pitched up at the end of his question, and Will suspected that hadn’t been what he intended to ask.

“What else are they? I can’t think of them as human. They don’t deserve it. We’re not supposed to be like that.”

 

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

Website | Twitter | eMail

Tour Schedule

April 10th – MM Good Book Reviews       

April 11th – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words          

April 11th – The Novel Approach  

April 11th – Oh My Shelves

April 12th – Love Bytes      

April 12th – MM Book Escape       

April 12th – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents           

April 13th – Urban Smoothie Read

April 13th – Erotica For All

April 14th – Happily Ever Chapter

April 14th – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews   

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Blog Tour: Maybe Never by Sadie Allen

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Welcome to the blog tour for Maybe Never by Sadie Allen! I am so excited to share this sexy contemporary romance with you! Be sure to check it out and follow the blog tour!

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Title: Maybe Never

Author: Sadie Allen

Genre: Contemporary Romance

About Maybe Never:

One golden boy…

Judd Jackson had it all—star football player with a college scholarship, perfect family, tons of friends, and a beautiful girlfriend. He was the most popular guy in town … until a family secret burned it all to the ground. Now, he’s the object of scorn and ridicule, and the only thing he has left is his scholarship and counting down the days until he can leave town.

One goal-oriented girl…

Sunny Blackfox was alone in the world, but she had big plans and big dreams to keep her occupied. She didn’t have time for anyone in her life. That was, until she came to the rescue of the boy she always had a thing for.

They have everything going against them, but maybe, if they are lucky, they will make it out of town after graduation together … or maybe never.

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Buy Your Copy Today!

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About Sadie:

Sadie Allen lives in Texas with her family and her dog Penny. When she’s not writing, she’s reading, catching up on her favorite shows, or chasing her family around the house.

Connect with Sadie:

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Follow the Blog Tour

April 3rd

Rabid Readers Book Blog Excerpt

All Things Dark & Dirty Excerpt

Angels With Attitude Book Reviews Excerpt

Smut Lovers Wonderland Excerpt

April 4th

Smut Lovers Wonderland Excerpt

Oh My Shelves Excerpt

Books,Dreams,Life Playlist

Hello Beautiful Book Blog Excerpt

April 5th

2 girls who love books Excerpt

Reese’s Reviews Excerpt

Briar’s Reviews Excerpt

Southern Belle Book Blog Playlist

The Ordinary Housewife Book Blog Excerpt

April 6th

A Novel Glimpse Review

Tome Tender Excerpt

Books n Wine Review

a geordielass honest blog on reviews Review

MrsLeif’s Two Fangs About It Book Reviews Excerpt

April 7th

Ashley Book Blog Review

My Slanted Bookish Ramblings Review

Romance Playlist Playlist

The Smut-Brarians Review

Zili in the Sky Review

April 8th

Joandisalovebooks Review

What Is That Book About Excerpt

Readers Retreats Excerpt

Evermore Books Excerpt

April 9th

Angel Reads Review

Tania’s Book Blog Review

Jax’s Book Magic Excerpt

I’m A Sweet And Sassy Book Whore Review

The Escapist Book Blog Review

April 10th

Shahla’s bookcorner Review

G & T’s Indie Café Excerpt

Jeri’s Book Attic Review

Beware Of The Reader Guest Post

The Ordinary Housewife Review

EskieMama Reads & Dragon Lady Reads Excerpt

Bookalicious Babes Blog Review

 

 

 

Blog Tour: After the Dark (Killer Instinct #3) by Cynthia Eden

Series:
Source: Social Butterfly PR

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After the Dark by Cynthia Eden

Release Date: March 28th, 2017

Genre: Romantic Suspense

After the Dark from Cynthia Eden is now available now!

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Four months after being fired from the FBI and retreating to her hometown of Fairhope, Alabama, former special agent Samantha Dark is still learning to enjoy the peaceful anonymity of small-town life. Her confidence shaken, Samantha avoids contact with others. After all, when monsters live in plain sight, it’s hard to trust anyone. But when her former partner, Agent Blake Gamble, the ultimate good guy and someone who’s always believed in her, comes to town seeking her help with his latest case, Samantha is torn. Her fabled instincts let her down once before, when the killer who ruined her career got away under her watch, and there are no guarantees they won’t again.

But Blake doesn’t believe in ever giving up…especially when it comes to Samantha. While they could never pursue their mutual attraction before, when they were partners, now there’s nothing standing in their way…except the specter of known serial killer Cameron Latham. Cameron always claimed he and Samantha both had a darkness within that connected them…until Blake came into her life. Samantha knows that darkness is real—that it’s what allows her to penetrate the minds of sadistic killers. The last thing Samantha could bear, however, is to reveal her dark side to Blake and have him recoil from her. Blake wants to prove to Samantha that he can handle all her secrets—she just needs to trust him. But Samantha learned to be careful about whom to trust. Those close to you can turn on you in an instant…

Blake’s current case turns out to be the work of a copycat killer—a psycho pupil of Cameron’s who is seeking vengeance for his former master by planning to kill Samantha. But it serves as a catalyst for something more venomous—a reason for Cameron himself to reemerge, deadlier than ever. The last person Cameron wants harmed is Samantha. He’s more interested in eliminating perceived rival Blake for good.

Two deadly killers are after them, but Blake and Samantha know every monster has a weakness. It’s just a matter of finding who it is before it’s too late…

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Read Today!

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2kX13Ei

Amazon UK: https://goo.gl/8iSj5A

iBooks: https://goo.gl/4ZcjRD

Nook: https://goo.gl/4gL99M

Kobo: https://goo.gl/QzuGEC

Google Play: https://goo.gl/Z6MltG

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About the Author:

Award-winning author Cynthia Eden writes dark tales of paranormal romance and romantic suspense. She is a New York Times, USA Today, Digital Book World and IndieReader bestseller. Cynthia is also a three-time finalist for the prestigious Romance Writers of America RITA® Award. Since she began writing full-time in 2005, Cynthia has written over fifty novels and novellas.

Cynthia lives along the Alabama Gulf Coast.

Connect with the Author:

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

Twitter: @CynthiaEden

http://www.cynthiaeden.com

Review Blitz: The Hard Truth About Sunshine by Sawyer Bennett

Source: InkSlinger PR

 

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The Hard Truth About Sunshine AMAZONNew York Times bestselling author Sawyer Bennett has written her most gripping and poignant tale yet. Provocatively heart-breaking, audaciously irreverent and romantically fulfilling, The Hard Truth About Sunshine exposes just how very thin the line is between a full life and an empty existence.

An angry, bitter amputee.

An optimist losing her eyesight.

A dying kid.

A suicidal thief.

Four people with nothing in common but their destination.

Despite having narrowly escaped death’s clutches, Christopher Barlow is grateful for nothing. His capacity to love has been crushed. He hates everyone and everything, completely unable to see past the gray stain of misery that coats his perception of the world. It’s only after he involuntarily joins a band of depressed misfits who are struggling to overcome their own problems, does Christopher start to re-evaluate his lot in life.

What could they possibly learn from one another? How could they possibly help each other to heal? And the question that Christopher asks himself over and over again… can he learn to love again?

He’s about to find out as he embarks upon a cross country trip with a beautiful woman who is going blind, a boy with terminal cancer, and an abuse victim who can’t decide whether she wants to live or die.

They will encounter adventure, thrills, loss and love.

And within their travels they will learn the greatest lesson of all.

The hard truth about sunshine…

Warning: This book deals with some tough issues including suicide and sexual abuse.

Amazon | Paperback | B&N | iBooks | Google Play | Kobo

LaurenBlakelyQuote

 

Jillian holds my gaze for a moment, her eyes drilling into mine before she gently tugs on the material of my jeans near the shin rod of my prosthetic. “What happened to you?”

She doesn’t look away. Not down at the fire, not down to my legs. She stares right at me. Although my gut is turning slightly at the thought of telling her what she asked, I forge straight ahead. For the first time, I tell someone who is not medical personnel or a shrink my story.

“I was driving a military Humvee and the right front tire ran over a roadside bomb,” I say, and Jillian makes a sound of distress low her in throat as her eyes turn sad. “It completely obliterated my buddy sitting in the passenger seat.”

To my surprise, Jillian scoots over closer to me and lays her head on my shoulder. She pushes her hand in between my ribs and my arm, curling her fingers over my bicep. It’s a show of support. Solidarity. That she’s settled in for the long haul of this story, and she wants to hear it all.

“It didn’t blow my leg off,” I tell her, and I can feel her body jerk slightly in surprise. Her fingers squeeze my bicep. “The fingers yes, the leg no. It just shattered and shredded it badly, but the doctors tried hard to save it.”

“Obviously, they couldn’t,” she whispers the obvious.

“They tried for three months,” I tell her, reaching down to grab my phone laying near my left hip. Jillian lifts her head up, watching as I pull up my pictures. I scroll backward, but it doesn’t take long to find what I’m looking for because I don’t take a lot of photos. I hold the phone out so she can see. “This was taken about a month after my injury.”

Jillian makes a strangled sound as she looks at the photo of me in bed. My eyes are half open because I was bombed out on so many heavy-duty pain medications, and I have a grimace on my face. I vaguely remember this picture being taken, and I think it may have been by my brother, Hank, when he came to visit once during that first month. He came a few more times after that, and then he didn’t.

Jillian’s eyes roam over the photo. My leg is encased in the external fixator with several rods leading from the outside of the cage right into my skin, where it’s drilled through and into the bone to hold the pieces together. The wounds on my leg are all open to the air, red and some of them dripping with puss and lined with blisters. I’ve got IVs in both arms and a PICC line in the right side of my neck to deliver the hordes of antibiotics and pain meds I needed to keep me alive and functioning. I took the maximum dosages they allowed me, preferring to try to be oblivious to what was happening. Yet, the pain was so great it just couldn’t be fully erased.

Jillian turns her head to look at me, and I lay the phone back down. “How long were you like that?”

“Three months. But they couldn’t get ahead of the infections, which were delaying the bones from knitting. I was in so much pain that I wanted them to amputate.”

“You had to make that decision?” she whispers.

I nod. “Yup. I mean… the doctors were at the point they felt it was the right way to go, although they were willing to keep trying if I wanted. But I wanted it gone. I was tired of being in the hospital and being in so much pain. I just wanted it gone.”

“Do you regret that decision?” she asks me bluntly, but with that still-sweet melody her voice makes. The question doesn’t bother me, because even her hard questions sound lovely.

“Yes,” I tell her without any shame. “I wonder what would have happened if I held on just a little bit longer. Not long after the leg came off, the pain receded and I became more lucid. Once I’d forgotten how bad the infections smelled, I regretted it.”

“Three months is an awful long time to be in pain like that,” she points out the obvious.

I shrug. “And the rest of my life is a long time to wonder ‘what if.’”

 

 

AuthorPhotoSince the release of her debut contemporary romance novel, Off Sides, in January 2013, Sawyer Bennett has released more than 30 books and has been featured on both the USA Today and New York Times bestseller lists on multiple occasions.

A reformed trial lawyer from North Carolina, Sawyer uses real life experience to create relatable, sexy stories that appeal to a wide array of readers. From new adult to erotic contemporary romance, Sawyer writes something for just about everyone.

Sawyer likes her Bloody Marys strong, her martinis dirty, and her heroes a combination of the two. When not bringing fictional romance to life, Sawyer is a chauffeur, stylist, chef, maid, and personal assistant to a very active toddler, as well as full-time servant to two adorably naughty dogs. She believes in the good of others, and that a bad day can be cured with a great work-out, cake, or a combination of the two.

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