A.L. Boyd's Blog

October 12, 2018

A Dance of Water And Air By Antonia Aquilante-- Exclusive Exerpt

Title: A Dance of Water and AirSeries: Elemental Magicae, Book OneAuthor: Antonia AquilantePublisher: NineStar Press, LLCRelease Date: October 1, 2018Heat Level: 3 - Some SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 83600Genre: Fantasy, Romance, fantasy, trans, magic, elements, court intrigue, arranged marriage, friends to loversAdd to GoodreadsSynopsis
Edmund is heir to the throne of Thalassa and a wielder of Water magic. Devoted to his kingdom and his duty to it, Edmund can do nothing but acquiesce to an arranged marriage with the queen of a neighboring kingdom. The marriage and the child it is required to produce will seal an alliance between Thalassa and Aither that is vital to Thalassa’s safety, and far more important than Edmund’s personal misgivings.
Arden is the younger brother of Aither’s queen and a wielder of Air magic. Raised in the politics of the court to support his sister’s rule, he understands the alliance is important to Aither, even as he worries about his sister marrying someone she’s never met. When Edmund arrives in Aither to prepare for the wedding, Arden is tasked with helping him settle in at court. As they spend more time together, Edmund and Arden develop a close friendship, then stronger feelings, but with Edmund’s wedding approaching, they must hide their feelings, even from themselves.
When someone tries to assassinate the queen, Edmund is blamed, and Arden rescues him before he can be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. To prevent a war between their kingdoms and protect them from a dangerous enemy, Edmund and Arden will have to discover who wants to pit Aither and Thalassa against each other and mend relations between the two kingdoms as they evade those searching for them—all while finding a way to be together.
Exclusive Excerpt
The Dance of Water and AirAntonia Aquilante © 2018All Rights Reserved
Edmund studied the people on the dais as he approached, keeping his steps steady and slow. Queen Hollis sat on a gleaming silver throne, flanked by men standing at either side of her. One was likely her brother. He wasn’t sure about the other. Another relative, maybe? An advisor of some kind?Hollis was lovely by any standard. She had large eyes set in a pale oval face. Her cheeks were flushed delicately, her lips a rosy pink. Her hair was swept over one shoulder, falling in thick curls nearly to her waist. The closest description he could come to its color was rose gold, one curl streaked with a strand of icy blue-white. A crown of diamonds and pearls nestled in the curls on her head. More diamonds and pearls circled her neck and dripped from her ears. Her gown was bright blue, the skirts that spread around her overlaid with silvery lace. She watched him as he approached, her face expressionless, her eyes watchful.Her brother—Arden, Edmund remembered—was equally striking, and Edmund had to force himself to only study him covertly. It wouldn’t do to take his attention from Hollis, but Arden drew it nevertheless. Edmund didn’t think Arden stood as tall as he did, but he had a willowy frame that gave the illusion of height. Arden had dressed in ice blue trimmed in pale silver from head to toe. A sash wrapped around his slender waist and tied at his side; a short cape swept back, hanging from silver clasps at his shoulders. But his face, undeniably lovely and intriguing, drew Edmund in. His skin was alabaster, his eyes wide and green, mouth full and lush. Chin-length copper curls topped his head, a sparkle of diamonds just visible through them at Arden’s ears. The curls were streaked with icy blue-white.The number of streaks surprised Edmund. An Affinity for a particular element’s magic wouldn’t produce changes in hair or eye color on its own; only prolonged practice and strength of magic would do that. It wasn’t common any longer for royalty to take that time to learn and practice beyond the smallest uses of magic—hence the single streak through Hollis’s hair. Most directly in line for the throne didn’t bother studying much magic as they weren’t likely to have to use it. Royal cousins were far more apt to train extensively. Edmund had broken with tradition and indulged his interest, and his eyes had changed accordingly. It seemed that Arden had done the same and quite extensively.Perhaps that shared interest might be a point in common between them. He couldn’t expect friendship, but maybe Arden could become an ally. Certainly, it would help if he and Hollis’s brother got along. And if he longed for more than that, for a friend without the constraints on his relationship with Peregrine, then he’d have to put that aside, as he had so often in the past.When Edmund’s measured walk brought him to the foot of the dais, he bent into a bow. He’d learned the protocols for meeting nobility of the surrounding kingdoms years ago and had been tutored once more before he left. Father and his council were taking no chances. He straightened from his bow and looked at the queen. She didn’t display even a flicker of emotion. Not encouraging. She was bound by the same rules and expectations he was, but he would have liked something—some small sign of welcome.He glanced to Arden before he even thought. Before he could stop himself from making that small breach in protocol. Arden’s gaze, vivid and green, caught his and held it. Arden’s eyes were not emotionless. There was an intensity in them that Edmund felt down to his toes and left him mildly shaken. He fought the urge to look down or turn away. Either of those actions would be an insult to Hollis and her brother. Instead, he forced his attention back to Hollis, hoping his moment of inattention had gone unnoticed.Hollis gave no indication that she’d seen his lapse, but the man on the other side of the throne gave the briefest impression of a frown. Edmund didn’t react and wouldn’t let himself worry.“Prince Edmund, welcome to Aither,” Hollis said in a clear, bell-like voice. “We hope you’ll be at home here.”PurchaseNineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo Meet the Author Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after. She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her. Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.
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Published on October 12, 2018 06:00

September 18, 2018

New Release-- Love Spell by Mia Kerick

Title: Love SpellAuthor: Mia KerickPublisher: NineStar Press, LLCRelease Date: September 17, 2018Heat Level: 1 - No SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 43300Genre: Contemporary YA, contemporary, YA, non-binary, bullying, homophobia, coming-of-age, humorousAdd to GoodreadsSynopsis
Chance César is fabulously gay, but his gender identity—or, as he phrases it, “being stuck in the gray area between girl and boy”—remains confusing. Nonetheless, he struts his stuff on the catwalk in black patent leather pumps and a snug-in-all-the-right (wrong)-places orange tuxedo as the winner of this year’s Miss (ter) Harvest Moon Festival. He rules supreme at the local Beans and Greens Farm’s annual fall celebration, serenaded by the enthusiastic catcalls of his BFF, Emily Benson.
Although he refuses to visually fade into the background of his rural New Hampshire town, Chance is socially invisible—except when being tormented by familiar bullies. But sparks fly when Chance, Pumpkin Pageant Queen, meets Jasper (Jazz) Donahue, winner of the Pumpkin Carving King contest. Chance wants to be noticed and admired and romantically embraced by Jazz, in all of his neon-orange-haired glory.
And so at a sleepover, Chance and Emily conduct intense, late-night research, and find an online article: “Ten Scientifically Proven Ways to Make a Man Fall in Love With You.” Along with a bonus love spell thrown in for good measure, it becomes the basis of their strategy to capture Jazz’s heart.
But will this “no-fail” plan work? Can Chance and Jazz fall under the fickle spell of love?
Love SpellMia Kerick © 2018All Rights Reserved
Chapter OneShine On, Harvest Moon
Just call me brazen.
It occurs to me that brazen—unabashedly bold and without an inkling of shame—is the perfectly appropriate word to describe moi right about now. It is, however, the only perfectly appropriate part of this evening. Which is perfectly appropriate, in my humble opinion. So get over it.
I lift my chin just enough to stop the stiff orange spikes of glitter-gelled hair from flopping forward onto my forehead. Who can blame me? These spikes are razor sharp—best they stay upright on my head where they belong. And gravity can only do so much to that end.
Okaaaayyyy…sidetracked much? Forces rebellious thoughts on business at hand.
Chance César is a brazen B.
I stare ’em down, but only after I pop the collar of the blinding “Orange Crush” tuxedo I’m rockin’ and shrug my shoulders in a sort of what-the-fuck fashion. Rule of thumb in this queen’s life—first things must always come first.
Pop, shrug, and only then is it kosher to stare. I clear my throat.
“Eat your ginger-haired heart out, Ed Sheeran.”
Based on the buzz of scandalized chatter blowing about in the crisp evening breeze, I’m reasonably certain that nobody in the crowd heard me speak. And although several of the girls currently gawking at me may do double backflips over my red-haired counterpart across the pond, they don’t give a rat’s ass about Chance César. In fact, I have a sneaking suspicion that they view my atomic tangerine locks as more reminiscent of Bozo the Clown than of the smexy singer-songwriter.
They are, however, completely unaware that this carrot top is going to make Harvest Moon Festival history tonight.
Refusing to succumb to the impulse to duck my head, I take a single shaky step forward onto the stage that’s been set up on the dusty ground beside a vast—by New England standards—cornfield. The stage doesn’t wobble, but my knees sure as shit do. Okay, I’m an honest diva and I tell it like it is. And I’m what you might call a freaking wreck.
Nonetheless, this brazen B takes a deep breath, blows it out in a single gush, and starts to strut. This boy’s werkin’ it.
Smi-zeee!! Yeah, my smile is painted on, just like my trousers.
Chance, you are by far the edgiest Miss Harvest Moon this ramshackle town has ever had the good fortune to gaze upon. I am a major fan of positive self-talk.
Using the feigned British accent I’ve perfected—thanks to long hours of tedious practice in my bathroom—I dish out my next thought aloud. “I wish I’d put in a tad more practice walking in these bloody heels before going public in ’em.” And despite one slight stumble—a close call to be sure—the clicking sound my pumps make is crisp and confident. I saunter out onto the catwalk.
#TrueConfessions: Faking foreign accents is a hobby of mine. I can yammer it up in improvised French, German, Mexican, Russian, and plenty more accents, but I don’t mimic Asian languages, as it seems too close to ridicule. My plan for the rest of the night is to continue vocalizing my abundant thoughts in Standard British, with a hint of Cockney thrown in for charm. After all, New Hampshire is the “Live Free or Die” state, and I’ll do what I laaaa-like. Yaaasss!
“Introducing this year’s lovely…or, um, handsome Miss…ter…Harvest Moon. Let’s hear an enthusiastic round of applause for Chance César!” Mrs. Higgins always speaks using a lolling Southern twang, although I’m sure she’s lived her entire life right here in less-than-gentile, way-too-many-dirt-roads, Fiske, New Hampshire. (Like, can you say backwoods Fiske without it sounding too much like backward Fiske?) TBH, I’m thrilled: it seems I’m not the only one with an affinity for a colorful accent. But the applause is disappointingly, but not surprisingly, scattered.
“Woot!” A solitary hoot splits the night—it’s quite impossible to miss— and I recognize an undeniably shrill and nasal quality in the sound. I know without a doubt that the hooter is my best (only) friend, Emily Benson. In my not so humble opinion, Emily’s hooting for my benefit is as liberating a sound as Lady Gaga bellowing “Born This Way” live on the Grammy Awards after emerging from a large egg.
My Emily is everything! Not to be dramatic, but whatevs.
In any case, the single, supportive hoot is followed by mucho expected heckling. “Chances are, Chance César is gonna moon the crowd!” It’s a girl’s voice, for sure. I do not have a lot of female fans here in Fiske.
“Come on, Miss Harvest Moon, bend over and flash us your full moon!” A dude mocks me next. I’m proud to say I’m an equal opportunity victim of harassment.
I don’t blink once in the face of the jeering. This type of inconvenience is par for the course in my life, and thus, I consider it a challenge of stoic endurance. I simply place one fine pointy-toed pump in front of the other, my eyes focused on the mountain in the distance. I’m especially proud that, amidst the chaos, I remember to offer the crowd my best beauty queen wave.
Yeah, this is some beauty pageant realness.
“Thank you, lovelies, for coming here today.” I speak in my most Princess Diaries-esque tone.
“Werk it, girlfriend—werk hard!” Yes, it’s Emily again. And like always, she’s got my spectacular back.
“Aw, shit, we must be havin’ a lunar eclipse or somethin’.” It’s another pubescent male voice, and a deep one at that. “There ain’t no moon to be seen ’round these parts!” The heckler is a douche I know too well from school named Edwin Darling—whom I less than fondly, and very privately, refer to as “Eddie the Appalling.” I watch as he looks away from me to take in the full moon in the dark night sky and shrugs.
The lunar eclipse one-liner is actually fairly humorous. I toss out ten points for creativity in Edwin’s general direction by allowing a restrained smile, but I never remove my eyes from the single treeless spot on Mount Vernier.
Time for a mental detour. Why is this one spot bare-assed of all trees?
That’s when the music starts, and I’m more than glad for the downbeat. It helps me focus, plus it’s much easier to sashay to the sound of a jazzy snare drum than to the unpleasant clamor of heckling. Not that my backside won’t wiggle righteously to any sound at all. Because, rest assured, it will.
“Shine On, Harvest Moon.” Whoever is in charge of the sound system plays the Liza Minnelli version, which may be the silver lining to this farce. For as long as I can remember, it’s been the more traditional, not to mention folksy, Four Aces version for Miss Harvest Moon’s victorious stroll up and down the creaky runway. I will say that tonight is a first for the Liza rendition, and I’m curious as to whether it is coincidental.
But who really cares? Ring them sparkly silver bells for Liza M!
On a side note, I wonder: Is it a good thing or a bad thing that Liza Minnelli’s voice brings out the dramatic streak in me? Okay, okaaaayyyy…so maybe it doesn’t take more than a gentle nudge to get me going in a theatrical direction. But, hey, drama ain’t a crime. My mind is pulled to the back of my bedroom closet (how ironic), where my flapper get-up hangs. Panic sets in… Should I have worn that instead? But it’s a muted peach—not a vivid orange—as seems fitting for a pumpkin festival. And then there’s the whole not-a-single-soul-except-Mom-Dad-and-Emily-has-yet-seen-Chance César-in-full-female-garb thing that held me back from rockin’ the vintage coral dress with its spectacular tiers of flesh-colored fringe.
Tonight is Beans and Green Farm’s Annual Harvest Moon Festival, and for northern New Hampshire, this is a big freaking deal—the whole town shows up for cheesy shit like this. In light of this recognition, I confirm that pumpkin orange attire is mandatorbs. I mean, I went so far as to dye my hair for tonight’s festivities; the least I can do is choose garments that enhance my Halloween-chic style.
At the end of the catwalk, I indulge the audience by providing them with their deepest desire. I stand there, still as a scarecrow—for ten seconds, give or take—so they can drink in the sight of me, from spiky glittering head to pointy patent leather toes. I allow them this rare opportunity for freeze-frame viewing pleasure. Whether they admire me for having the balls to strut around ultraconservative Fiske wearing a scandalously snug-in-all-the-wrong-(right)-places orange tuxedo and four-inch black pumps—which I will admit is a public first for me—or they wish the shining harvest moon would fall on my house and crush me while I sleep, what they all really want most is a good long moment to study me.
To twerk or not to twerk, that is the question.
When the spectators finally start to squirm, I throw out a few of my best vogue fem moves to the tune of some subtle arm, wrist, and hand action, followed by several full-body poses, avoiding the death drop move as I haven’t yet mastered it in pumps. And when it’s time to once again get this glam show on the road, I pivot on my toes and strut briskly—America’s Next Top Model style—back to the stage where my boss, the owner of Beans and Greens Farm, stands nervously clutching my crown.
Mrs. Higgins is a tall glass of water, in the manner of a large-boned Iowa farm girl, but she’s accustomed to crowning petite high school junior girls, not nearly grown senior boys in four-inch heels. I crouch beside her politely and, I dare say, delicately, and she carefully nestles the crystal-studded crown in my spiky mop of neon-orange hair.
“Be careful, Mrs. H,” I warn beneath my breath. “Those spikes might look harmless, but they’re sharp enough to slice off your little finger.”
She offers me half of a crooked smile, for which I give her credit. I, Mrs. Higgins’ very own “boy with the bad attitude on cash register three,” have broken about every rule Beans and Greens has established for its hordes of Fiske High School summer workers, right down to the “no jewelry at work” clause. But a couple of points go to the lady because she manages to force out a grimace that could be mistaken for a smile…if your standard for smiles is on the low side. Besides, I’m not about to remove my nose ring. It in no way impedes my ability to count, ring up, and bag cucumbers.
This is when I spin on a single heel to face the crowd.
“You don’t happen to have any…very brief…words of wisdom for our audience, do you, Chance?” Mrs. Higgins asks, speaking into an oversized microphone. But despite the laid-back accent, I can tell she’s wary. Like a rat in a corner.
“Yes, as a matter of fact, I do.” My clipped British accent momentarily stuns the woman, and I take the opportunity to snatch the microphone from her less-than-dainty hand. Realizing it’s now in my possession, Mrs. Higgins shudders. “I just want to thank you all, my beloved coworkers at Beans and Greens Farm, for voting me in as this year’s Miss Harvest Moon.” I wipe imaginary tears from my eyes with my wrist, sniff for added effect, and, of course, I employ a most gracious, high-pitched tone of voice. “I am so honored to represent you all here tonight.” I sound like Eliza Doolittle in the stage play, My Fair Lady.
The crowd is silent. Maybe it’s a stunned silence. I sincerely hope so.
I follow dainty sniffling with my best duck-faced lip pout. Mrs. Higgins makes a sudden grab for the microphone, but I’m more agile. I only have to twist my shoulders ever so slightly to the left to block her move. She eyes me with a new respect.
And then I lower my voice so it’s all man—momentarily losing the delightful British inflection—and pose my question to the crowd.
“So you thought voting for me as Miss Harvest Moon would humiliate me—dull my shine or rain on my parade, perhaps?” I wag one well-manicured finger at the crowd while swishing my ass back and forth in matched rhythm. “Well, in your face, my sorry backwoods homies, cuz I’m here and I’m queer and I’m shining on—just like that big ol’ harvest moon!”
Without hesitation, I bend, just enough to grab Mrs. Higgins around the waist, and lift her off her size eleven feet (by my best visual estimate) and swing the lady around, probs ’til she’s seeing more stars than the ones in the dark Harvest Moon sky.
I’d bet my ahhh-mazing ass that no other Miss Harvest Moon has ever given Mrs. Higgins a joyride like that!
PurchaseNineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | KoboMeet the Author
Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another at a dance conservatory, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She has published more than twenty books of LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.
Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to NineStar Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.
Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.
Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com or visit at www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.
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Published on September 18, 2018 10:46

September 6, 2018

New Audio--Leaning Into Forever by Lane Hayes

Title: Leaning Into Forever AudioSeries: Leaning Into Stories, #7Author: Lane HayesNarrator: Nick J. RussoPublisher: Lane HayesRelease Date: August 9th, 2018Heat Level: 4 - Lots of SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 7 hrs and 31 minsGenre: Romance, Comfort, Healing , Heartbreak, New Beginnings, Contemporary RomanceAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisGeordie de la Rosa is a legend among wine lovers in Napa Valley. His ultra-fabulous style paired with a penchant for leading impromptu sing-a-longs has made him a star attraction at Conrad Winery. Co-owning a well-respected winery was never Geordie’s aspiration but he likes the niche he’s made for himself. He won’t deny that his job and his friends have helped ease his heartache and grief after the death of his longtime partner.

Levi Yeager excels at the art of reinventing himself. He’s been a minor league baseball player, a college coach and now a restaurant owner. The problem is he doesn’t know a thing about the food business. And when his chef quits unexpectedly, he’s afraid his new venture is doomed. But Levi isn’t a quitter. It may be the only thing he has in common with the beautiful, sassy man from the neighboring winery who agrees to help get his new business up and running. Neither man counts on their fast friendship or the wild attraction they feel for each other. However, they know they won’t stand a chance until they let go of the past and lean into forever.
“My game is coming back. If I keep talking and you keep listening, you’ll eventually warm up to me. Where was I?”
“The psychology of alliterations,” I deadpanned.
“Right. Your tone is imperial, you use alliterations like a poet and you dress like a diva. You’re pleasant to strangers but you hold them at bay. You’re kind but controlled. Most likely you were an elite member of a royal family in a former life.”
“You’re probably right,” I said, amused in spite of myself. “Since you have me figured me, let me see if I can do the same.”
“Be my guest.” Levi made a sweeping motion with his left arm before resting it on his steering wheel. The casual gesture was ripe with potent masculinity. And I hated that I noticed.
I tore my gaze from his stubble jaw and cleared my throat. “You’re a newly out sports enthusiast at a crossroad.”
“Sports enthusiast at a crossroads,” he repeated with a laugh. “I guess that’s better than has-been athlete looking for a new gig.”
“As you said, I do have a way with words and I’m a firm believer it’s crucial to accentuate the positives.” I set my hand over his without thinking then pulled back when a familiar spark of awareness skittered along my spine.
Levi smirked. “You’re weird. I like you.”
“Thanks. I like you too. Platonically of course,” I added.
“Of course. What exactly is my crossroad?”
“I’m not sure. Perhaps you quit your job to try a new venture with this lover who dumped you and now you’re heading to LA to woo him back—”
“Not a chance,” he snapped.
I raised a brow at his vehemence. “Or…you’re going on a fact-finding mission to salvage what you can of your original idea and determine what comes next.”
Levi nodded. “Closer.”
“Have you thought about selling the diner?”
“Yes. But I’m not going to.”
“Why not?”
“I have nothing to lose. And you know what? It’s kinda liberating. No net required ’cause I’m already free falling. Have you ever felt that way before, Geord?”
Every fucking day.
Silence fell like a blanket between us. Soft and warm and safe.  I didn’t want to break the quiet but I couldn’t allow myself to be pulled under either.
I licked my lips and whispered, “Yes.”
Suddenly, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t look away. Maybe I was a sucker for ruggedly handsome men who weren’t ashamed to reveal their vulnerable sides. I admired that he made free-falling sound like an adventure. I’d been doing it for nearly four years and my outlook was nothing like Levi’s. I worked my ass off to make sure no one knew how tired and raw and afraid I felt every damn day. I clung to the best parts of my past like a lifeline, hoping my ghosts would ease the inevitable ‘splat on the concrete’ nosedive I had coming my way.
Levi’s story was certainly different, but I recognized something in him I knew too well. A desperate spirit that wasn’t quite ready to give up. I’d like to think that sense of acknowledgment was why I leaned across the console, closed my eyes and pressed my lips against his.
Listen to a sample & purchase at Audible
Meet the Author Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | AmazonMeet the Narrator Nick is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane's books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review's Narrator of the Year - 2015. When he's not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends.
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Published on September 06, 2018 02:30

August 31, 2018

New Release- Out in the Deep by Lane Hayes

Title: Out in the DeepSeries: Out in CollegeAuthor: Lane HayesPublisher: Lane HayesRelease Date: August 29Heat Level: 4 - Lots of SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 41KGenre: Romance, New Adult, Bisexual, College romance, Water Polo, Coming outAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisDerek Vaughn is a little too serious. He’s a type A control personality with a penchant for order and a love of water polo. But he’s determined to enjoy his last year of college. The real world with a serious job and big expectations can wait for a few months. He’s going soak up every minute on campus with his friends and teammates before he moves on. The only possible kink in his plan is the new guy on the team… also known as his nemesis.

Gabe Chadwick has big Olympic dreams. His transfer between Southern California universities has nothing to do with scholastics. The degree is his backup plan. He’s not there to party or make friends. And he certainly isn’t going to announce his sexuality. But he can’t deny there’s something special about the uptight team captain. However, when an unwitting friendship and mutual attraction collide, both will have to decide if this is the real thing or if they’re about to lose it all in the deep.

Maybe I just needed a good night’s sleep. It had been a long day. And a weird one. I could never have dreamed up a scenario featuring Gabe Chadwick in my house after this morning. But here he was.

I gave him a thorough once-over as he walked into the kitchen. And again, the first thing that crossed my mind was, “Wow, he’s really fucking hot.”

“Nice place.”

“Thanks. Do you want some water or something?” I asked, awkwardly pointing at the fridge.

“No, thanks. I’ve had enough tonight,” Gabe replied with a laugh.

I should have said good-bye then and escorted him to the door, but I had a strong desire to keep him talking and maybe dispel the weird admiring thoughts going through my brain. Yes, Gabe was a good-looking guy, but I shouldn’t be fixating on his long eyelashes and the way the kitchen light framed him in a halo of sorts. I couldn’t let him go until my brainwaves returned to normal, and he was the same annoyingly smart and talented opponent I’d played against occasionally for years. The thing was, I didn’t really know him and at that moment, I wanted to.

“Where do you live?” I asked.

“About fifteen minutes away. I scored an apartment by campus. I have one roommate. Brent’s a volleyball player. We might get a third to cut expenses, but I don’t want to share a room, so that’ll be up to him.”

“Sharing a room gets old fast. Evan and I knew we wanted to live together, but I’d probably smother him in his sleep if I had to listen to him snoring every night a few feet away from me,” I said in a lame-ass effort to keep him talking.

Gabe chuckled. “That would be rough. Evan seems like a cool guy. Is he as neat as you? This house is spotless.”

“No, that’s all me. I can’t help it. I have a thing about order. Evan’s a slob. You should see his room. At least he tries in shared spaces. I don’t bug him about his unmade bed, scattered clothes, and random dishes he leaves on his nightstand as long as he keeps the bathroom and kitchen tidy. He’s been on the receiving end of a couple of classic Vaughn meltdowns,” I said with a self-deprecating shrug.

“A Vaughn meltdown,” Gabe repeated. “That must be a version of what I experienced this morning when you tried to drown me.”

“Fuck off.” I laughed, then looked away quickly when a rush of heat flooded my cheeks. Oh, my God. Please don’t let me blush. Not now. He’ll know something’s wrong with me.

Gabe stepped closer to me and cocked his head. “Are you blushing?”


“I don’t blush.”

“Whatever you say.” He winked and gave me a mischievous smile that turned me inside out.

This couldn’t be happening.
Purchase at AmazonUS: https://amzn.to/2wl2Qql UK: https://amzn.to/2NotdlR CA: https://amzn.to/2BSj53p AU: https://amzn.to/2wAplHl IT: https://amzn.to/2NlHBeE
Meet the Author Lane Hayes is finally doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels. She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a fews ago and was instantly hooked. She is the bestselling author of the Better Than, Right and Wrong, A Kind of Stories and Leaning Into series. Lane's novels placed first in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an empty nest.
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Published on August 31, 2018 07:31

August 27, 2018

New Release-- On Andross Station By J.C. Long

Title: On Andross StationAuthor: J.C. LongPublisher: NineStar Press, LLCRelease Date: August 27, 2018Heat Level: 2 - Fade to Black SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 37000Genre: Science Fiction, science fiction, adventure, romance, gayAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisHikaru Adachi has come to Andross Station to discover what happened to colleague and fellow Inquisitor Katya. Thane, a tracer, has arrived at the station seeking a bounty on Galen Horn, one of the Unity of Planets’ most wanted men. They will find their paths cross as their interests intersect, and soon they are on a hunt that is more dangerous than they know, for Horn has enlisted some dangerous allies, including one from Thane’s past. If Thane and Hikaru together can’t bring Horn down, he will set in motion a plot that will see the entire station destroyed in an attack of massive proportions.

On Andross Station
J.C. Long © 2018
All Rights Reserved


One second the café was calm, the next it exploded into chaos. Tables flew and chairs tipped and slid over the floor as people scrambled away from sudden gunfire. Only one person at the café seemed to maintain her calm. She dropped behind the table she sat at, taking shelter from the bullets. The shooter moved with purpose, seeming to seek an angle to make her his next victim, but she was not going to be so easily caught off-guard. She drew her legs back and then slammed them into the table as hard as she could. The table, made of some sort of ultra-light plasteel material, soared, slamming into the gunman’s knees. The woman jumped to her feet, efficiently disarming the shooter before pistol-whipping him with his own gun. With a harried look, she walked away from the café.

“Rewind image five seconds.” The hologram projector obeyed Hikaru Adachi’s command, playing back to the moment right after the woman disarmed and incapacitated the gunman and looked toward the camera. “Freeze image.” The image’s movement halted. Hikaru squinted, focusing on the woman’s face.

This was the last moment recorded of Katya—no other camera in the station caught sight of her. It was as if she walked out of the frame and then disappeared. No matter how many times he combed through the security footage, he couldn’t find a single sign of her again.

“Vi, time to arrival at Andross Station?”

“We will be arriving in just under two standard hours,” answered the “voice” of his personal VI, which he called Vi. It was a generic voice, free of any identifying inflection, the same sort of VI used throughout the Unity of Planets for ease of communication. The voice was easy for those not accustomed to speaking Terran—not too fast, not too slow. Only Hikaru could hear it, its “voice” processed directly to his brain.

Hikaru rolled his head, trying to release tension in his neck. “Reaccess information regarding Katya’s current assignment.”

“Note that access to some of the information is listed as restricted,” the AI informed him, as it did each time he asked to access it. “Most recent updates to assignment were made twenty-nine standard hours ago.”

That time significance was not lost on Hikaru, even though it was probably lost on the VI. She’d received an update on her assignment an hour before the shooting at the café. It was unlikely to be a coincidence.

He examined the material on a secure personal access point, as was proper protocol. It didn’t do much to alleviate his confusion. According to the files, Katya was assigned to Andross Station to monitor what might be a hotspot for subversive activity—not much surprising; Katya was, like Hikaru, an Inquisitor, enacting the will of the Unity of Planets as they were ordered. Inquisitors often found themselves in the role of watchdogs, keeping an eye on pockets of discontent that might boil over into open rebellion. The assignment was classified level two—which meant discontent was high, and in certain conditions might spill over into violence.

Twenty-nine hours ago, it was upgraded to a level four—danger imminent. After that, everything was sealed. When given the assignment to investigate Katya’s disappearance, Hikaru was granted a temporary higher security clearance, which gave him access to one more piece of information, and it was probably the most critical piece he could get: approximately thirty-one hours ago, the Unity learned that Galen Horn, a notorious terrorist and murderer, was on his way to Andross Station. Two hours later, the threat level was upped, and an hour after that, Katya was gone.

Hikaru didn’t believe in coincidences. Galen Horn was somehow related to Katya’s disappearance. If the connection was there, he’d find it. He was one of the best; it was why they sent him.

Hikaru disconnected the data stream with a sigh, sat back in the chair, and stared at the bulkhead of the small fast-cruiser all Inquisitors used to convey themselves to their missions. He’d set out from Engiminon VI with little notice very late in the night; when an assignment came, you didn’t wait until morning; you boarded the cruiser and set off. Once on board, he opted to review all the material he could relating to the assignment, foregoing sleep. Now he was too close to his destination for sleep to be a valid option.

Instead he would spend the time remaining in his transit to reinforce his psychic walls. Being a telepath was difficult, but it was most challenging on a space station or vessel. People crammed into contained areas while recycled air swept through, carrying the emotional vibrations of every passenger with it. If given the choice, Hikaru would never go to space stations, never make a transit on a crowded ship. But he was an Inquisitor, and he didn’t have the luxury of choice.

He sat on the bed cross-legged and then closed his eyes in preparation for the mental exercises to come.

He spoke aloud to Vi. “Has the station’s security been notified of my arrival?”

“Affirmative. Their head of security will meet you at the docking bay.”

“Thanks, Vi.” Inquisitors and local security or police forces never got along well; the security teams didn’t take kindly to an “outsider” stepping on their toes and taking over. Not that it mattered, in the end. Inquisitors had the authority, and Inquisitors did not work with other forces. The security team would just have to take a step back. They wouldn’t like it, but what they liked wasn’t of great concern to Hikaru.

“Notify me when we begin docking procedures,” Hikaru instructed Vi. With a deep breath, he began building his mental walls, visualizing impenetrable steel panels falling into place one by one, until he was encased in a psychic Fabergé egg. Something told him he was going to need them on Andross Station.
PurchaseNineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | KoboMeet the Author J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his life-long involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C. Long’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing and Korean food (not in that order…okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts and wishing he was writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.
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Published on August 27, 2018 07:32

August 22, 2018

New Release-- Trouble's on the Way by CL Mustafic

Title: Trouble's on the WaySeries: Outcasts, Book TwoAuthor: CL MustaficPublisher: NineStar PressRelease Date: August 20, 2018Heat Level: 3 - Some SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 52500Genre: Paranormal, shifter, bonded mate, menage, lycanthrope, werewolf, bigender, gender fluidAdd to GoodreadsSynopsis

After leaving the Outcast pack, Clay Anderson and Damian Macoon head to Alabama where they’ve both secured a job with the construction company that employs Damian. Their new relationship is off to a good but not too harmonious start in no small part due to Clay still holding a grudge against Damian for turning him into a werewolf. So when they walk into the office trailer parked on the job site and Clay realizes that their boss is none other than Damian’s fated mate, things get even more tense between the two.

Billy Ray Hicks was raised believing he was going to find his mate and be a cherished member of whatever pack he ended up in, but those dreams came crashing down when his bonded mate ran away and disappeared from his life before the mate bond was completed. Billy Ray always figured he’d run into Damian again but never suspected his mate would have a boyfriend when he did.

With tensions mounting between Clay and Damian, Billy Ray becomes the focal point of their ire. Damian ends up in the middle of two men—one he wants and one he needs—who both want him. Now he needs to convince them that they all belong together before he loses both.

Trouble’s on the Way
CL Mustafic © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

Almost nine hours of sitting in the pickup with Damian gave me plenty of time to think. Part of me thought going with him to Alabama was an okay idea. Sure the money would probably be decent, and since I was no longer gainfully employed, what did I have to lose? Another part of me thought I was crazy for not only shacking up with the guy who’d turned me into a werewolf, but now I was letting him drag me halfway across the country. Maybe contracting lycanthropy had messed up my ability to make a good decision.

I glanced over at Damian, who was concentrating on the road signs because he was looking for the exit just outside Iowa City that would lead us to one of the campgrounds. I couldn’t lie to myself enough to pretend I wasn’t attracted to him. Hell, who didn’t have a fantasy about the tattooed bad boy? Reminding myself Damian wasn’t the stereotypical bad boy, I tore my eyes off him before he could feel me staring. I spotted the exit we were looking for, but before I could point it out, Damian switched lanes and pulled off the interstate.

“You sure you don’t want to drive? We could make it to Tuscaloosa by morning and sleep the day away,” Damian asked for the millionth time.

“I told you I don’t want to drive this rig and I’m tired anyways.” I’d dozed some but not enough to stay awake and drive all night. Plus, I wasn’t confident about my ability to drive the pickup with a thirty-five-foot trailer attached to it.

“You’d only have to drive for about four hours, and then I’d be fresh enough to take over, but if you’re too scared to drive, I’m fine with that.” A grin tugged at the corner of his lip at his dig, but all I had to do was let a growl rumble up out of my chest to kill his urge to smile.

Pulling up to the campground’s reception building, Damian got out of the truck and stretched before turning back to me. “I’ll go pay for the night. You want to run into the store and maybe get us some snacks and beer?”

“Sure. You want anything special?” I opened my own door but waited for his response instead of getting out.

“Maybe some ice cream, chocolate, oh, and some nachos and gummy worms.”

“Are you pregnant?” I snorted and shook my head at his request as I dropped down to the ground from the pickup.

“You know those are just stories, right?” Damian called over the hood of the pickup at me.

“Hey, I have no idea what to believe anymore. I used to think werewolves were just stories.” I made air quotes around “just stories” to get my point across, making him roll his eyes at me.

“Go get me my junk food.” Turning, Damian went to pay for our stay while I went into the little convenience store.

The woman behind the counter watched my every move as I loaded down the little red basket with Damian’s requested junk food and then grabbed a case of beer to go with it. She rang up the sale but before she was done, Damian came in the door. Her eyes widened and I could smell the change in the atmosphere around her. Apparently, she also liked bad boys, and her interest in what my beast thought of as his brought out its jealousy.

“Hey, are you buying the whole store or what?” Damian’s sexy grin was at full wattage as he sauntered up to the counter. Turning it on the woman, he nodded a greeting, making her blush like a school girl.

“Not my fault your cravings are so weird.” I managed to swallow the possessive warning my beast wanted to growl out at the woman. Instead, I put my arm around Damian’s waist and pulled him to my side, making his smile falter. Taking it a step further when the woman’s scent didn’t change once she saw Damian wasn’t on the market, I pointed to the row of condoms behind her. “Give me three boxes of the magnums too. I have a feeling we’re going to need them tonight.” I winked as Damian stiffened at my side.


“Make it four.” I reached down and squeezed Damian’s ass. His arousal wafted up to join that of the woman’s, who’d turned to get the requested condoms. She didn’t make eye contact with either of us as she finished tallying the items and took my card. “Have a good night.” I practically sang the words as we walked out the door.

Damian pushed away from me when we hit the parking lot. “What the fuck was that all about?” His glare would have been much more menacing if I hadn’t found his mismatched eyes to be so damn alluring; plus his anger only made my beast want to make him submit to it.

“What was what all about?” I shrugged and held out the bags I was carrying in one hand. “Just getting stuff for the night.”

“And what do you expect to do with twelve condoms?” His eyes narrowed as he tried to cross his arms over his chest, forgetting he was holding the case of beer, so he had to drop them back down to his sides.

He had me there. We didn’t use condoms, since neither of us could catch anything, so did he think I’d intended to go out and find someone else for the night? Shit. That was not my intention, but just to see how pissed off I could make him, I decided to throw the possibility out there. “Well, maybe there will be a hot guy in the spot next to us. We should be prepared, right?”

“You’re an asshole.” Damian stomped off to the truck and before I could get in, he pulled away, leaving me to walk behind.

He was right. I was an asshole, but he knew that, so it was his fault for sticking around. Our spot was a bit down the road from the lodge and when I got there, Damian had already hooked up the power and was standing by the door pressing the button that pushed out the pop outs on the camper. I’d only glanced inside before we’d left so when I stepped past him, I had to stop and stare.

“Holy shit, this thing is huge.” I looked over my shoulder at Damian, who was squatting to pet Stumple and Grumpkin, his cats.

“I wanted there to be enough room for both of us so we wouldn’t have to be tripping over each other.” Damian stood and walked across the kitchen to the living room at the end of the trailer where I was inspecting the entertainment system. “There’s only one bedroom but if you want to bring someone back here, I can always sleep on one of the convertibles.”

I turned to look at him because I could tell he was hurt, and though I’d wanted to keep the space between us, I didn’t much like him feeling he didn’t matter to me. He did mean something to me; I just wasn’t sure what. I crowded him up against the wall, pressing my body to his, making his breath catch. “You’ll sleep where I tell you to sleep. And if I want you in the bed with me while I’m fucking someone else, you’ll lay there and watch,” I growled. Where the fuck did that come from?

Damian whimpered. He knew when my beast was talking and his beast deferred to mine, always. It still boggled my mind how his huge wolf was afraid of my tiny puppy one. “I hate you sometimes, you know that?” he asked through clenched teeth.

“I know, and the feeling’s mutual.” I stepped back and let him go about taking care of the cats and then hooking up the water. I would have helped, but I had no idea how to do any of the things that made the camper run. I went to the bedroom on the other end of the trailer and grabbed a fresh pair of underwear before going into the bathroom and taking a shower.

When I came out of the steamy little room, Damian had changed into a pair of low-hanging sleep pants. He was curled into one of the arm chairs in the corner, watching a movie with Stumple purring on his lap and his array of snacks on a folding tray next to him. I grabbed a beer from the fridge and sat on the couch. Grumpkin jumped up and sat next to me, and after sending a look at his owner, he lay his head on my lap and started purring.

“Fuck you too,” Damian mumbled to the cat before shoving a handful of gummy bears in his mouth.

“How can you eat all that shit?” I shook my head in disgust as he chased the gummies with a spoonful of ice cream.

“Fast metabolism. If I don’t eat like this, I’ll start looking like you.” He let his eyes run over my upper body, which I’d noticed lately was getting a little scrawnier than it normally was. “I told you, the beast needs food; either you feed it or it eats away at you.” He shrugged and filled his mouth with chips so his next words were interspersed with crunching noises. “Take advantage of it while you can, eat the good shit before the beast gets old and tired and then you get a pot belly.”
PurchaseNineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | KoboMeet 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.
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Published on August 22, 2018 07:07

August 21, 2018

New Release: Adventures in Dating...in Heels By Liam Livings

Title: Adventures in Dating...in HeelsSeries: Kev, Book OneAuthor: Liam LivingsPublisher: NineStar Press, LLCRelease Date: August 20, 2018Heat Level: 3 - Some SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 66200Genre: Contemporary, cross-dressing, family drama, gay, coming out, coming of age, drag queensAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisKev Harrison is a teenager looking for a boyfriend and friends who will accept his cross-dressing. Only thing is, he lives in a small village near Salisbury, England, and it’s the nineties.

Tony Collins is Kev’s best friend, a Goth with a passion for fashion and anything to do with the Human League. He stands as the voice of reason while Kev muddles his way through coming out, career choices, and dating…in heels.
ExcerptAdventures in Dating…in Heels
Liam Livings © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

I first realised I wasn’t quite like other boys when I was seven. By then, I was old enough to know what I liked and what I didn’t like and, more importantly, confident and talkative enough to do something about it.

One afternoon, when Dad was at work and Mum was making cakes in the kitchen, I found a pile of Mum’s large dresses in the living room, waiting to be ironed. I knew they were hers as I’d seen her bustling about the house in them, just before Dad came home from work. At four o’clock every day, after I’d been home from school a while, Mum would disappear upstairs dressed as Mrs. Mop and reappear at quarter to five in one of her long flowing dresses, full makeup, and heels, her hair brushed out from spending a day under a head scarf.

Mum was really into the Mamas and the Papas, and during the summer holidays while Dad was at work, and once the house was straight and she’d “done through” as she called it, we’d dance to her twelve-inch records in the living room. She would come in from hanging out the washing in the back garden and say, “A good day for drying. If they’re done in time and I’m all done through, we can have a little dance with my records.”

One afternoon while Mum was upstairs making herself look nice for Dad, I grabbed one of her dresses and climbed into it, ready for our dance.

Mum walked into the living room as I held the Mamas and the Papas album, wearing her size-twenty dress covered in bright-pink daisies, a wide grin filling my face.

She took the record off me. “What you doing in my dress, love?”

“I like the flowers and I want to see what it feels like when I dance around in it, like you do.” Perfectly reasonable as far as I was concerned.

“They’re for me, not for you, love.” She put the record on and turned to me, her hands on her hips. “Take it off and we can have a dance together.”

But I didn’t want to take it off. I wanted to keep it on with my whole being. As I swayed from side to side, brushing the dress between my hands as I swung my arms around, I felt so right I couldn’t understand why I had to take it off.

“I’ll be careful. I won’t make it dirty.” Dirty was the worst thing in that house as far as Mum was concerned, and I knew I wouldn’t do that to the dress.

As the music filled the room, Mum knelt in front of me. “One dance. But it’s our little secret. Don’t tell Daddy, all right?” She made a zipping motion with her hand across her lips.

I nodded emphatically and started to dance with her to the music. It was the one that made me dance the most on the whole album, it was “One Way Ticket.” It all felt perfect: the swishing sound of the dress as it moved around me, the feeling of the gap between my bare legs, and how different it was from wearing trousers.

As I danced, I caught a glimpse of myself, stood in my mum’s frock, smiling as I jumped about.

The song finished, and Mum lifted the needle on the record player and told me to take off the dress.

There was a bit of a disagreement as I begged for one more song, held up my He-Man figure and said, “I want to dance for him.”

“You like He-Man, do you, love?”

I nodded and Mum kept looking at her watch. In the end, she unzipped the dress behind my back and lifted me out of it. As the dress lay on the ground, pooled around my feet, the back door clicked, signalling Dad’s return from work. Mum scooped up the dress and folded it quickly into the ironing pile in the living room, then greeted Dad, in his grey suit carrying a black briefcase, with a hug and a kiss.

“What’s for dinner?” Dad asked over Mum’s shoulder, staring at me.

I was still moving a bit to the song continuing to play in my head.

“What’s he dancing about for? Why’s he not got any clothes on? Hasn’t he got something useful to do, like lay the table?”

Mum pulled back from the hug and told me to throw on some clothes, and then asked me to lay the table as dinner would be five minutes. Raising her eyebrows towards me, she said, “Fish fingers, peas, and chips. Your favourite.”

I ran upstairs to dress, nipping in ahead of Dad. Once we had both changed, we made our way downstairs again. Mum beamed at my dad, who was now wearing a shapeless grey tracksuit he’d bought from a catalogue when Mum had complained his old tracksuit had too many holes to be darned anymore.

We continued with our little secret most evenings. Sometimes, I would watch Mum putting on her makeup from their bed and I’d ask what each item was for as she applied them.

“Can I have a go?” I asked once got the courage.

She turned, half her lips bright red, the lipstick in her hand. “Not on you. You can do it on me if you want.” She handed it to me. As I applied it to her lips, I had to force my whole body not to put a bit on my own.

“How does it come off?” I asked innocently.

She showed me the makeup remover in the jar on her dressing table and the cotton wool in the drawer.

Now I knew everything I needed to know.

When Mum was hanging out the washing or deeply involved in dinner preparation, I would take some of Mum’s makeup into the bathroom and make up my whole face and then stare at myself in the mirror, amazed at how I no longer looked like me. Afterwards, I’d dutifully remove it all with the bottle and cotton wool just as Mum had done.

That Christmas, Mum opened her present from Dad: a pair of shiny black high-heeled shoes. The toes went to a sharp point and the heel was longer than my index finger. She tried them on, parading around the room and twirling her feet at every turn.

I looked at the Meccano tractor set I’d just opened and my heart sank. Why didn’t I have a little sister so I could play Barbie dolls with her as I was growing up? I’d seen these dolls in their bright-pink boxes and blonde hair next to the muddy-grey Action Man in the toy shop. When I’d asked for one of those, Dad had said not to be so silly. I wanted an Action Man, didn’t I?

Now, Dad said, “Shall we build the tractor?”

Desperate for something to have in common with Dad, I nodded, opened the box, and cleared a space on the living room carpet. Soon the tractor was built, with its red shiny three-inch wheels, bent tube of a body, and frame around the seat where my old Action Man could sit—if I could have found him. I’d just handed Dad bits and pieces, watching him build it. It was the most we’d talked to each other in years.

After everyone went to bed that night, I sneaked into the living room, pushed my tractor aside, put on Mum’s shiny black high heels, and walked around the kitchen, enjoying every quiet tap they made on the floor. After I’d had my fill, I put them back where they’d been left and went to bed.
PurchaseNineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo
Meet the Author Liam Livings lives where east London ends and becomes Essex. He shares his house with his boyfriend and cat. He enjoys baking, cooking, classic cars and socialising with friends. He has a sweet tooth for food and entertainment: loving to escape from real life with a romantic book; enjoying a good cry at a sad, funny and camp film; and listening to musical cheesy pop from the eighties to now. He tirelessly watches an awful lot of Gilmore Girls in the name of writing ‘research’.

Published since 2013 by a variety of British and American presses, his gay romance and gay fiction focuses on friendships, British humour, romance with plenty of sparkle. He’s a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association, and the Chartered Institute of Marketing. With a masters in creative writing from Kingston University, he teaches writing workshops with his partner in sarcasm and humour, Virginia Heath as www.realpeoplewritebooks.com and has also ghost written a client’s 5 Star reviewed autobiography.
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Published on August 21, 2018 07:21

August 20, 2018

New Release--Eidolon By E.S. Yu

 Title: EidolonAuthor: E.S. YuPublisher: NineStar PressRelease Date: August 20, 2018Heat Level: 1 - No SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 83000Genre: Science Fiction, PTSD, Assassin, amnesia, dystopian, asexual, mental illnessAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisWhen Cyrex Corp, one of the foremost bioaugmentation companies in the world, sends Vax to assassinate Zai Lumero, Vax thinks it’ll be a simple, straightforward job. Zai is only a journalist, after all, and with his bioaugments, Vax has never botched a job before. But then the hit unexpectedly goes south, and before Vax can correct his mistake and finish Zai off for good, he discovers that Cyrex has turned on him, putting him in their crosshairs as well.

With no one else to turn to, he strikes a grudging partnership with Zai to help him expose Cyrex’s connection to a missing persons case and take the company down. Getting along with a justice crusader who hates Vax’s profession with a burning passion isn’t easy—though Vax finds himself drawn to Zai in a way he never expected.

As they race against time to unearth Cyrex’s secrets, Vax can’t shake the feeling that Zai is hiding something from him. And the closer he gets to uncovering the answers—of how he’s related to Zai’s investigation, and how Zai is connected to a past that Vax can’t remember—the more he suspects that finding out the truth might destroy him.
E.S. Yu © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The call came, as it always did, out of the blue, making Vax choke and nearly spill his latte down his jacket. He reluctantly set his cup on the café table with a stifled sigh and, after another minute of buzzing, finally tapped the node in his ear. There was only one person who ever called him, and the call always meant bad news.

“You’ve reached Corporate Murder Services. How can I help you?” he answered.

“Very funny,” a smooth voice said. “I have a new assignment for you. Get to my office.”

“Now?” Vax massaged the bridge of his nose. For once, he’d managed to snag an unoccupied window table, and now he wouldn’t get to enjoy the sunshine or the view. “I’ll need thirty minutes to get there, give or take traffic.”

“Fine. See you soon.”

The call ended. Vax swallowed, his appetite suddenly gone. He downed the rest of his latte, got up from his seat, and texted for an AutoRide. Not for the first time, he thought about suggesting a text message next time, or even a video call, as being much more convenient than an in-person meeting; also not for the first time, he reminded himself glumly that that was never going to happen.

The world had to have been determined to hate him today; he got in the driverless car as it drove up, and just after it pulled away from the curb, the screen inside began broadcasting a news story about Cyrex’s CEO.

“Over the weekend, Cyrex Corp CEO, Atali Norman, pledged five million dollars to support STEM programs in schools across the country…”

Vax immediately changed the channel to one that aired several bioaugment commercials—including the one for Cyrex’s latest weight loss bioaug model that seemed to be everywhere lately—before reporting grim updates on the war overseas. He sighed, gazing morosely out the window at the passing traffic and the colorful screens on the street. Just the way he wanted to start his morning.

Cyrex’s headquarters formed the tallest building in Orphis City, visible from miles away. All glass, as though inviting the world to come and look inside; it had no secrets to hide. It made Vax think of an obnoxiously shiny diamond in the center of Orphis’s gleaming crown of wealthy, high-tech development, which was very photogenic and good for luring tourists to America’s fastest-growing biotech hub, if not exactly an accurate representation of the city as a whole. Vax got out of the car as it pulled up and walked through the glass doors at the entrance.

The sleek, modern lobby bustled with people. Vax waved the microchip in his finger through security and stepped into the elevator. He kept his gaze averted as people in suits and lab coats got on and off with each stop, fixing his eyes on the glimpses of his own reflection in the glass, flickering in and out of existence, like a ghost.

At the top floor, he exited the elevator. He tapped the touch screen panel by the glass door that read Atali Norman, CEO, and the panel flashed green as the door unlocked with a click. Bracing himself, he pulled the door open and walked into the spacious office. Atali himself was standing by the floor-to-ceiling windows that provided a view of the entire city, talking to someone through his node as Vax entered.

“Honey, I know you’re nervous about starting at a new school, but I guarantee that your classmates will be nice kids who want to become friends with you. Trust me, you have nothing to worry about. Getting into Exelor Academy was the hard part; everything else should be a piece of cake. And if anyone’s mean to you? Just tell me, and I’ll take it up with the school. I’m serious!” He turned around and caught sight of Vax. “Sorry, Cathy, I have to go. Call me back later if you’re still anxious, okay? All right. Love you. See you later.”

He ended the call with a press to his ear and turned to face Vax fully. Holographic text flashed in front of his eyes, projected from the transparent augment by his temple. The morning sunlight turned his blond hair into pallid silver, matching his pale skin, as he smiled.

“Hello, Vax. You’re looking well.”

Vax wasn’t in the mood for small talk. “Who’s the target?”

Atali sighed in mock disappointment. “Always business with you.” He produced a microdrive from his pocket, which he inserted into the desk before tapping the touch screen desk surface. The windows behind him darkened and displayed a picture of a young, East Asian man with black hair and light-copper skin.

“Do you know who this is?” Atali asked.

Vax studied the picture more closely. The guy was quite good-looking—as much as Vax wished he could block that thought from his mind—but he didn’t recognize him. “No, sir.”

“That’s Zai Lumero, age twenty-five. He’s a journalist who writes for the Daily Voice, one of those independent news sites that aims to report on ‘true issues’ affecting people’s lives.” Atali spoke with the bored disdain of someone talking about an infestation of rats in a neighboring building. “He lives right in the city.”

So Vax wouldn’t be traveling this time. That was a bit disappointing, but he’d live. Journalist…what, had Lumero written something online that offended Atali? It seemed like overkill to Vax. Not that his opinion counted for anything, though.

“He’s also the son of Lin Zhao Lumero, the current head of Meridian, Inc. Though he’s been estranged from his family for a few years, due to his decision to become a justice crusader.”

“Wait, the son of Meridian’s CEO?” Vax echoed. Meridian might have been Cyrex’s biggest competitor, but he didn’t think Atali was reckless enough to order a hit against its CEO’s son.

“Yes.” Atali’s lips thinned into a displeased line. “Unfortunate that he has such a prominent connection, but it can’t be helped.”

Oh. So this wasn’t directly related to inter-corporation politics. Still… “How estranged are we talking about? This sounds like it could bring down a lot of heat.”

“Do your job correctly, and that won’t be an issue,” Atali said, his voice turning icy.

Vax flinched at his tone and dropped his gaze. “Yes, sir.”

“Ambush him in his apartment. Make it look like a home invasion gone wrong.”

That was a first…and this assignment was sounding worse by the minute. “That doesn’t sound like a good idea.”

“Did I ask for your input?”

“No, sir,” Vax muttered, “but you got it anyway.”

Atali gave him a cool look. That was as much as Vax dared to push him.

“After you take care of him, take his computer, pod, anything he might’ve stored his information on, and destroy them somewhere far from his apartment, so no one can retrieve the information.”

Because Atali was genuinely afraid of what Lumero had found, or because he thought it would divert attention from the murder? In any case, Vax wasn’t being paid to care. He picked up the microdrive with Lumero’s information from the desk and slipped it into his pocket.

“How soon do you need it done?”

“By the end of the week.”

Vax tried not to look too disappointed. For a journalist with presumably minimal security, it was doable, though he would’ve liked more time. “Okay,” he said.

“So,” Atali said, in a pleasant tone now, “how have you been? Do anything fun lately?”

“No, sir.” Vax stuffed his hands into his jacket pockets. He’d hoped the conversation would be strictly business; now he was stuck trying to figure out the least offensive thing to say that would allow him to exit.

“It’s been a while. We should catch up once you’ve taken care of Lumero.”

A wave of dread swept through Vax. He kept his eyes fixed on his shoes, trying to breathe through his nose, clenching his trembling hands in his pockets. No, I’m fine not catching up. Really.

He was aware of Atali slowly circling toward him, all of his senses instantly snapping alert as soon as Atali crossed an invisible threshold from close to too close. Without warning, Atali grabbed his chin and jerked it up and to the side, forcing him to meet his gaze. Vax winced at the sharp movement and the way Atali’s thumb dug into his jaw, hard enough to bruise, his skin crawling at the unwanted contact.

“You’re supposed to look at someone’s eyes when they’re talking to you.”

“Yes, sir,” he answered in a flat tone, struggling not to let his gaze slide away. He didn’t want to make things worse, even though Atali’s eyes were cold scalpels, flaying and dissecting him into pieces of pulpy flesh.

Atali held his jaw for a moment longer before releasing it. “Don’t screw this up,” he said, his voice cool and clipped with dismissal.

Vax exhaled, rubbing at where Atali had grabbed him. He could still feel the lingering pressure, like phantom fingerprints left behind on his jawbone.

“Yes, sir.” He left as quickly as he could.

PurchaseNineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | KoboMeet the Author E.S. Yu is a writer of speculative fiction and a geek who lives for video games, superhero comics, and all things sci-fi/fantasy. E.S. is a recovering law school graduate who lives off green tea and dreams of writing full-time; for now, she follows wherever her muse takes her to places sometimes dark, sometimes quirky, but always hopeful.
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Published on August 20, 2018 07:05

August 13, 2018

New Release: Escaping Exile By Sara Dobie Bauer

Title: Escaping ExileSeries: The Escape Trilogy, Book OneAuthor: Sara Dobie BauerPublisher: NineStar PressRelease Date: August 13, 2018Heat Level: 3 - Some SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 21400Genre: Paranormal, paranormal, historical, vampires, cannibals, gay, bisexualAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisAndrew is a vampire from New Orleans, exiled to a tropical island in the 1800s as punishment for his human bloodlust. During a storm, a ship crashes off shore. After rescuing a sailor from the cannibals native to the land, Andrew becomes fascinated with his brilliant, beautiful new companion, Edmund.

Edmund is a British naturalist who has sailed the world seeking new species. Intrigued by creatures that might kill him, immortal Andrew is this scientist’s dream-but so is making his way back home. Edmund will fight to survive, even while wrapped in the arms of a monster.

As light touches and laughter turn to something much more passionate, the cannibals creep ever closer to Edmund. Can the ancient vampire keep his human alive long enough to escape exile and explore their newfound love, or will Andrew’s bloodlust seal his own doom?
ExcerptEscaping Exile
Sara Dobie Bauer © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The crack as the hull breaks echoes across the beach, into the woods, and inside my head as I try to sleep. I was just beginning to dream of New Orleans. I almost smelled whiskey and muddy streets—almost. Instead, I jolt awake, still surrounded by the fresh flowery scent of this blasted tropical island in the middle of… Well, I don’t know really. That’s the point of exile.

I pull on a worn linen shirt. For the first few months here, I slept with my clothes on in case the cannibals came knocking. They never did. I think they knew this strange white man would make a disgusting meal. As if they could smell death on me. I wonder if eating my flesh could actually kill them. Wouldn’t mind offering a bite if only for some entertainment. I haven’t watched a human die in ages, but now, here we go: a shipwreck. There’s bound to be death in abundance tonight.

It’s not raining when I step outside my house. Yes, I have a small house on a tropical island in the middle of the ocean, overrun with cannibals and all manner of man-eating beasts. Michelle wasn’t that cruel when she sent me here. She did provide me with a home. Congratulations, you heartless bitch, you gave me a house in which to spend eternity alone.

I didn’t even mean to kill that last human back home in Louisiana.

Or maybe I did.

A leathery leaf to the face brings me back to the present as I stomp in tall boots through thick foliage. Despite the lack of rain now falling on my island, a flash of lightning illuminates the beach ahead long enough for me to see them—the natives who’ve managed to steal so many meals from me.

The irony would make me crack a smile if not for my ever-growing bitterness. I once considered capturing a cannibal, but then, they might come hunting me and I’m not half as strong as I once was. And I don’t think Michelle means to leave me here forever. I must wait out her overblown sense of justice.

From where I stand, sheltered behind a fence of palms, I see remnants of a great ship washing to shore. Thunder cracks as a man screams. My focus darts toward the dancing orange light of the native’s torches, and I see but outlines of their naked bodies as they tug and pull on a creature wrapped in white fabric. I squint and identify a man in his sleeping clothes. Dinner is served.

My gaze skims the beach, but it’s mostly detritus and dead men. Dead men are no good to me as their blood is most certainly not part of my unique diet. Oh, but then, there’s a scent on the wind. There is something alive nearby, and it’s bleeding. The smell of blood mixes with the salt of the sea and bitter stress-sweat.

I hone my senses to find the source of blood, but it’s been so long. Once a master, my hunting skills are now out of practice. I take a step back into the jungle and move to my right, away from the dancing torches and the man’s screams, and almost trip over a body. Out of practice is apparently a gross understatement as he was near me this whole time.

Unlike his soon to be devoured compatriot, this man is fully clothed in a coat and trousers. His hair is dark, and he wears black gloves. He’s but a shadow on the sand as I lift him and carry him farther into the woods.

Finally, a meal they won’t steal from me.

Safely inside my little house, I lay the man on the floor and poke at the fire until it roars like the thunder outside. Now, it rains. The ocean storm falls heavy, rocks on the roof, and an animal howls nearby, woken wet from its slumber.

I peel off his soaked clothes as the wound on his head continues to bleed. Unconscious, it’s a wonder he wasn’t pulled away by the current to die in the arms of some mythical mermaid. As I look at him in the firelight, I realize he is indeed a wonder. Perhaps it’s been too long since I’ve felt another man’s skin, but perhaps not. This injured sailor might be beautiful.

Looking at his hairless face, I would have guessed him barely a man. The thick muscles of his chest, arms, and legs dictate otherwise, as do the calluses on his hands. Not only is he a full-grown man, but he’s also a man who works hard. He is lean with hair the color of the ocean on a moonless night—and if I don’t stop his head bleeding, my curse of nothing but dead flesh could continue.

“Don’t die,” I say to him. It’s the first I’ve spoken to a human in ages.

I move him, naked and dry, to my bed and cover him in blankets before wetting a cloth and wiping his wound. It’s a sizeable gash high on his forehead. The dark creature inside me wrestles at the sight of his blood, but I woo it with promises of later, later.

I hold the rag to his head and realize I have no bandages. It’s not as though I need them. I’ll just have to sit here then. I perch on the side of my bed, and my thumb touches his bottom lip. Like a sunrise, this man is becoming more beautiful by the minute. I want to ravage him. I push the blankets away enough to run my hand over his chest. An angry scrape mars the pale skin, and I bet my guest will be covered in bruises by morning. The sea is not a gentle mistress. I know. I’ve tried to escape my exile by swimming out into white waves to no avail. The crushing currents always bring me back.

A log pops in the fire as the rain continues. My house now smells of smoke, mud, and him. I climb farther into the bed and recline at his side. I still hold the cloth to his head as I wrap him in my arms and run my nose up the side of his neck.

I think Michelle would be angry to see how happy I am.
PurchaseNineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | KoboMeet the Author Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series, among others sexy things.
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Published on August 13, 2018 07:36

August 10, 2018

New Release: In Vino Veritas by Sydney Blackburn

Title: In Vino VeritasAuthor: Sydney BlackburnPublisher: NineStar PressRelease Date: August 13, 2018Heat Level: 2 - Some SexPairing: Male/MaleLength: 33200Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, family drama, gayAdd to GoodreadsSynopsisAnthony Beretta inherited the family winery at the tender age of twenty-four. It’s a struggle to keep it up, but he loves it and is determined to make it work even if it kills him. That is, if a motorcyclist doesn’t kill him first. He initially judges the man, attractive as he may be, on the basis of his appearance and apparently limited vocabulary. He soon discovers he’s wrong, but by then Oscar Kennett has already judged Anthony on his appearance.

Oscar thinks Tony Beretta is uptight and snobbish, and Tony’s speech for the charity they’re working on together reinforces that, even when he finds out Tony did it just to push his buttons. His adorable curls and sexy glasses might not be enough to change his mind, but maybe there’s more to Tony than meets the eye.
In Vino VeritasSydney Blackburn © 2018All Rights Reserved
One: Beretta Estate WineryAnthony Beretta hovered in his office, listening to his cousin Katie extol the virtues of their Concord wine.
“It’s a heritage grape,” she was saying, “the kind they make grape juice from.”
Because wine that tasted like commercial grape juice was so popular. Still, there were customers to extol its dubious virtues to, and that was something. Didn’t mean he wanted to meet them, not over the Concord.
“It makes a great spritzer and is the perfect base for a sangria,” she continued. “Not too sweet, but with a full fruity flavour.”
He had to hand it to her. She knew how to sell it. Then again, Katie loved the winery almost as much as he did.
He moved away from his office door and sat behind his desk, looking once more at the open agenda. The winery hosted events, mostly weddings, and provincial regulations had recently changed. He had an appointment with his insurance broker in Bayham in little more than an hour. Which was why he was wearing his suit, instead of the jeans, T-shirt, and heavy cotton button-down he normally wore when he worked at the tasting room. He tugged at the lavender tie that felt like it was strangling him.
After checking the time on his phone once more, Anthony cleared his desk and locked the files away. No one else needed to know how shaky the winery’s finances were. He got to his feet and patted his jacket pocket for his car keys.
There was a mirror beside the door, so one could double-check one’s appearance before going to talk to customers. Anthony gave himself a critical look, pushing his glasses up his nose automatically. The mirror showed him what he was—a rail-thin man just shy of six feet tall, with hair that would never look anything other than dishevelled and dark-framed glasses. At least the glasses went some way towards disguising the shadows under his eyes. He looked like an upended mop, albeit a well-dressed mop.
He scowled. He’d much rather be in his jeans and work boots, out with his stubborn Foch vines. Three years ago, he’d put those bastards in, after his father had the gall to die of a heart attack.
His mouth tightened. He couldn’t think of his father without a sour mix of anger, grief, and guilt.
A discordant jangling let him know the customers had left, and he pushed his door open wider just as Katie rounded the corner. “Ant,” she said, “so glad I caught you. Could you pick up some of that jalapeño sauce from the Mexican store? It really shows off the Viognier. It’s a hard sell on its own.”
He refrained from scowling. Ant was a childhood nickname he’d long outgrown. His name was Anthony. She was right about the Viognier, though.
“Jalapeño sauce. Yes.”
“I don’t suppose you’ve thought about giving me Friday off,” she said, her tone rising at the end of the sentence, but not quite enough to make it a question.
He stifled a sigh. “And you’re not asking Leigh to switch with you because…?”
“Because it’s her wedding shower. Jesus, Ant, pull your head out of your ass once in a while.”
He ground his teeth as he bit back a sharp reply. “Fine. You have Friday off.” It wasn’t like he had anything better to do on a Friday. The tasting room closed at seven. He could catch up on the paperwork while he ate, and on Saturday, he could spend the day in the vineyard, trying to discover why the Foch vines were underproducing.
“You’re a prince,” Katie replied, but her snark had hardly any bite.
Happy employees were long-term employees, his father had always said. Katie really did care about the winery. She just had a social life. He shouldn’t be so hard on her.
And what about my happiness?
As the owner of the winery, there was no one around to see to his happiness. He didn’t even know what would make him happy anymore.
“Sorry, Katie.” He forced a smile. “Do you mind picking out a gift the estate can give her?”
“Yeah, give me a hundred dollars. It can be from the winery, you, Aunt Rosie, and me.”
“Take it from petty cash.”
“There’s no petty cash left, remember?”
He turned to hide his wince. “I’ll take some money from the account while I’m out.”
She hesitated. “The Wine and Song event will go on this year, right?”
“That’s why I’m going to town.”
“I know. It’s just… Is there anything I can do?”
His answering smile was forced. “Be careful what you volunteer for, cuz. Keep your fingers crossed the insurance hasn’t gone up too much.”
PurchaseNineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & NobleMeet the Author
Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… Oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories.
She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry.
Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.
Besides writing, she also designs book covers for poor people.
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Published on August 10, 2018 01:00