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RELEASE DAY & GIVEAWAY: Well-Tailored by Silvia Violet

Silvia Violet has a new book out. Check out the book and follow the tour to see some reviews for this story set in the Thorne & Dash world.

 



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | iTunes | Barnes & Noble | KOBO


Cover Design: LC Chase


Length: 62,000 words


Thorne and Dash Series


Professional Distance (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Personal Entanglement (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Perfect Alignment (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Marc longs for a grand romance, but he doubts he’ll ever be that lucky. Then he meets Darius, an arrogant tailor who pushes all his buttons. When Darius offers him a job, Marc hesitates—he needs a direction for the future, not another man who doesn’t believe in relationships.


Darius lives by a few unbreakable rules: never sleep with employees, fashion should be simple, and romance is for fools. Marc, with his shimmery-sweaters collection, makes him want to break every single one.


They quickly give in to desire, but Darius wants to protect himself and Marc refuses to repeat past mistakes. It’s only when they let go of assumptions, that love has a chance to take hold.

 
Well-Tailored is a companion novel to the Thorne and Dash series. It can be read as a standalone. 
 
Author Bio



Silvia Violet writes fun, sexy stories that will leave you smiling and satisfied. She has a thing for characters who are in need of comfort and enjoys helping them surrender to love even when they doubt it exists. Silvia’s stories include sizzling contemporaries, paranormals, and historicals. When she needs a break from listening to the voices in her head, she spends time baking, taking long walks, curling up with her favorite books, and spending time with her family.


Newsletter: http://silviaviolet.com/newsletter
Website: http://silviaviolet.com
Facebook: http://facebook.com/silvia.violet
Twitter: http://twitter.com/Silvia_Violet
Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/silvia.violet/
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/silviaviolet/

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EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: The Rainbow Clause by Beth Bolden

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BLURB

Heisman winner. Member of the National Championship team. NFL Rookie of the Year. Quarterback Colin O’Connor knows he’s become the ultimate romance novel cliché: all the success he’s ever dreamed of but nobody to share it with. Too bad it’s not as simple as asking out the next girl who intrigues him – because the next girl to intrigue him probably won’t be a girl at all.

Unexpectedly, the solution comes in one neat package: Nick Wheeler, lead journalist for a leading sports and pop culture blog. Hired by Colin’s team, Nick comes to Miami to shine a spotlight on the NFL’s most private quarterback.

The heat in Miami rises when Nick discovers that Colin is nothing like the hollow personality he pretends to be in interviews and he’s even hotter in person than on his Sports Illustrated cover. Nick knows this is the story of his career, and after spending his teenage years as a bullied, closeted teen, it hits very close to home. What he needs is to help Colin share his story while keeping their growing relationship from boiling over in the press, but what he wants is to tell the world.

Purchase: Amazon US | Amazon UK

TRC teaser 1

The Rainbow Clause Exclusive excerpt

Nick walked over to where Colin was sitting on the lounger. Every molecule was screaming at him to stay away if he wanted to keep things platonic between them, but he needed to have enough self-control for this. Because somewhere along the line, someone had convinced Colin that he wasn’t the ’right’ kind of person to be who he was, and he needed to understand that was just plain bullshit.

Nick gingerly sat at the end of the lounger and when Colin lifted his eyes to look at him, his face was finally out of the shadow. Perfect. If he could only ignore the way Colin looked and sounded and even smelled. How did he smell so clean after a night of dancing and drinking? Nick was sure he smelled like a locker room full of flop sweat and too much booze.

“Listen, you don’t have to do what everyone expects. Even if it’s easier. Especially if it’s easier.” Nick inched closer and tried to ignore the desperate pounding of his heart at Colin’s nearness. If he moved half a foot closer, he’d be close enough to kiss.

Kissing was definitely not what Nick needed to be thinking about right now, especially when Colin’s expression was still skeptical.

Nick changed tactics. “Do you know what they call weird people if they’re rich? They don’t call them weird. They call them eccentric. Money and success buys you the ability to break the mold. You can do whatever you want. You’re about to change your whole life. Embrace that you’re different. Stop apologizing for it.”

It was slow, but the doubt on Colin’s face had begun to melt a little. Nick prayed a little and threw his Hail Mary. “The first time we met, you told me that your personal role model wasn’t Tom Brady. It was Nelson Mandela. That’s you, that’s not the cardboard cutout the media wants you to be. Be you. Trust me, you’re a hell of a lot more interesting than the cardboard cutout Colin O’Connor.”

“But you’ve always been easy to win over,” Colin smirked, echoing that first interview. Nick had to swallow down the lump that had grown in his throat, because Colin had insisted he hadn’t remembered that interview. But maybe some of it had come back.

“True,” Nick said. Anything else was a complete lie. He’d been easy to win over from the first moment. The easiest, probably.

TRC teaser 4

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About the Author

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Beth Bolden lives in Portland, Oregon with her supportive husband and their beloved cat. She wholly believes in Keeping Portland Weird, but wishes she didn’t have to make the yearly pilgrimage up to Seattle to watch her Boston Red Sox play baseball. She’s a fan of fandoms, and spends too much of her free time on tumblr.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published two novels, The Lucky Charm and Getting Lucky, and a short story, Eye of the Storm. Her next novel, Summer Attractions, will be released in August 2016.

Links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr | Goodreads | Amazon

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GUEST POST: Sexy to Go Anthology

Sexy to Go Sexy to Go started back in December of 2014 as a VCI or very crazy idea. It was inspired by a freebie collection of stories called Stories on the Go and meant to take advantage of reader’s preference for shorter works. While the original short story box set didn’t focus on romance or erotic romance, Sexy to Go did.

As many of the writers for Sexy to Go write M/F, M/M, F/F, and ménage, and skip around from genre to genre, there was plenty of gay romance mixed into in our 2015 box sets. But the ongoing mix always gave Sexy to Go a little bit of an identity crises. Which genre and which pairing to tout became a problem that wasn’t easily solvable. Enter the idea of themed boxed sets. Yes, others were already doing them, and in a sense Sexy to Go was tardy to the party, but we never for an instant thought we wouldn’t jump on that band wagon.

With so many great authors on board for Sexy to Go Gay Romance, it’s our very best volume to date!

Blurb

Sexy to Go Gay Romance features nine scorching hot MM romances to make your blood sing. Whether finding love at a Jewish singles dance or while crossing the River Styx, these men remind us that love is always worth fighting for, no matter what the cost. Meet a handyman who’s an ace with his tools, a king who kindles the passion of a Greek god, and an architect who erects more than buildings. From the everyday to the fantastical, these stories explore male-male love in all its simmering intensity.

Matzo Ball by Avery Duran

When Jacob’s outgoing best friend talks him into attending a party for Jewish singles, neither man realizes that it’s not a gay event. Things go from bad to worse when Jacob’s friend doesn’t show up. The night turns around when Jacob befriends Ian, a sexy bartender. After a spectacular kiss good night, they go their separate ways. But Jacob can’t forget the chemistry he shared with Ian, and hungers for more. In a city the size of New York, will these men be able to find their way back to each other?

Styx & Stone by Leigh Ellwood

What’s the afterlife really like? Charon the ferryman knows the River Styx like the back of his hand, and he enjoys giving newly departed Stone the full tour.

First Swallow of Spring by Asta Idonea

The first swallow of spring draws Seanán back to the fae circle each year, where he dances with the handsome fae lord, Iorweth. He knows the four rules he must follow if he wishes to be free to leave at the end of the night; however, Iorweth is growing ever more inventive in his attempts to trick Seanán into breaking them.

How Hercules Got His Bruise by Eva Lefoy

Hercules might have completed his 12 labors and become immortal, but he’s still not out to himself. Until he meets Sisyphus, a man who turns him on in ways not even a goddess can compete with. When Zeus threatens to destroy their new bond, Hercules must again rise to the challenge, this time to protect his right to love a man.

Loggerhead by Dale Lowry

Soon after they fall in love, Jake makes Eric a promise inspired by an old track uniform. But demanding work schedules at Jake’s four-star restaurant and Eric’s newspaper keep them from following through. Six years later, they take the honeymoon they never had, heading to the Florida coast in search of sea turtles – and rekindling their passion for each other in the process.

Handyman by Jodi Payne

Danny is haunted by memories of his ex, Peter, who moved out six months ago. He recognizes just how bad off he is when he wakes up to a flood in his condo, a problem Peter would have adeptly handled. Danny can’t find the insurance paperwork, he doesn’t know who he should call first, and he’s about ready to strangle his stoner neighbors. His day starts looking up, though, when the workmen arrive to deal with the water, replace his breaker box and demolish the soaked ceiling. Ken, a handyman, shows up to handle the drywall, but can Danny handle Ken?

Clipped Wings by Shiloh Saddler

When a male swan shifter is captured by a cruel master he develops feelings for another male slave. The master has plans for the shifter that go against every fiber of his being. Will the two men bow down to their station in life or take flight to keep their love alive?

Rebuilding the Future by Sam Thorne

Allen’s peace has been seriously disturbed. As the shy architect takes on the task of extending the home he inherited from his late aunt, his life becomes a battle. The building work is going fine, but he can barely contain his one-way lust for sexy foreman Declan, who’s a one-man generator of testosterone and mixed messages. As the build completion approaches, Allen’s ready to do just about anything to keep Declan around a little longer…

Man in the Mirror by A.E. Wasp

A companion story to the Paper Hearts novel, Man in the Mirror is the first short in a new erotic series set in the world of the Veterans Affairs books.

Benny hasn’t let Mikey see him naked in a week, will barely let Mikey touch him. Mikey’s going to get to the bottom of the issue if it takes all night.

Where to Buy

Universal link (includes Amazon, Kobo, iTunes, B&N, and Google in every country):

Individual links:

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RELEASE BLITZ and GIVEAWAY! Dirty Games by Barbara Elsborg



Buy Links:

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

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2oyifgF

Length: 108,000 words


Blurb:

The last thing Linton needs when he arrives home after three months in the States, is to find his beautiful flat is a squat, complete with his younger brother Dirk, whoís lying in Lintonís bed with a couple whoíve paid him for sex. Dirk isnít even supposed to have a key. But after Linton throws Dirk out, life slams in hard and if his brother is to have any hope of a future, Linton has to play dirty. Or at least pretend to. What he hasnít factored in is having to play the game to the bitter end.

Film star Thorne Morrisey has everything. Good looks, charm, seductive magnetism and a voice that could charm a snake from its basket. He can also be a real shit and yet people still love him – though heíd rather not have the love of his ex. Owenís a suicidal wreck after Thorne dumped him in a very public and humiliating way and Owenís wealthy brother has his own reasons for wanting revenge on Thorne. Maxís weapon of choice is his employee, Linton.

Linton and Thorne are on a collision course and in for the game of their lives. But whoís playing who?

 
Author Bio:
Barbara Elsborg lives in Kent in the South of England. She always wanted to be a spy, but having confessed to everyone without them even resorting to torture, she decided it was not for her. Vulcanology scorched her feet. A morbid fear of sharks put paid to marine biology. So instead, she spent several years successfully selling cyanide.
After dragging up two rotten, ungrateful children and frustrating her sexy, devoted, wonderful husband (who can now stop twisting her arm) she finally has time to conduct an affair with an electrifying plugged-in male, her laptop.Her books feature quirky heroines and bad boys, and she hopes they are as much fun to read as they were to write.

https://www.facebook.com/barbara.elsborg

 

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Release Blitz and Giveaway! GOODNIGHT, MY ANGEL by SUE BROWN

 

Cover: Meredith Russell

Angel Enterprises Series

Morning My Angel (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb:

Callum Ross has a tough decision to make. After years of working for the covert ops agency in the UK and owning his own security firm in the US, heís forced to choose between the business he loves, and the new fragile relationship with his partner, Josh Cooper.

A bottle of whiskey and almost being killed by a motorbike helps Cal make the decision, and he moves to the UK with plans to set up his own security consultancy. Then the head of the covert ops agency where Josh now works asks Cal for help. Agency operatives and their families are being injured or killed, including Calís friends.

Cal is asked to investigate with Joshís assistance. As the number of victims increase, theyíre aware either of them could be the next target for the killer. Josh wants Cal to back away from the investigation in case he gets hurt, but Cal refuses, putting a strain on their relationship.

Then they discover the motorbike incident wasnít an accident. Who tried to kill him, and why?

 

Buy Links:

Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2oct2hk

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2cYTkPc

Author Bio

Sue Brown is owned by her dog and two children. When she isn’t following their orders, she can be found plotting at her laptop. In fact she hides so she can plot, and has become an expert at ignoring the orders. Sue discovered M/M erotica at the time she woke up to find two men kissing on her favorite television series. She had an Aha moment and put pen to paper that same day. Sue may be late to the party, but she’s made up for it since, writing fan fiction until she was brave enough to venture out into the world of original fiction.

 

Come over and talk to Sue at:
sue@suebrownstories.com
http://www.suebrownstories.com/
http://www.facebook.com/suebrownstories
http://twitter.com/suebrownstories
http://suebrownsstories.blogspot.com/

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BLOG TOUR, EXCERPT, AND GIVEAWAY! Enemy Within by Tal Bauer

Title:  Enemy Within

Series: The Executive Office, Book 3

Author: Tal Bauer

Publisher:  Self-Published

Release Date: 3/28/2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 176K

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense

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Synopsis

The White House, infiltrated.
The president, running for his life.
A traitorous general, intent on burning the world to the ground.

When everything falls apart, who do you trust?

President Jack Spiers fled Washington DC on the heels of a devastating attack on CIA headquarters, masterminded by one of America’s own, former General Porter Madigan. While the world believes Jack was killed in the bombing, he embarks on a wild infiltration mission, smuggling himself into occupied Russia to rescue the love of his life: former Secret Service Agent and First Gentleman Ethan Reichenbach.

Reunited, Jack, Ethan, and deposed Russian president Sergey Puchkov, along with President Elizabeth Wall—the only person left in Washington DC who Jack trusts—must work together. They piece together a desperate plan, hunting Madigan to the ends of the earth and the bitter frigidity of the Arctic, where Madigan’s world-shattering doomsday plan comes together.

Outnumbered, outmaneuvered, and outgunned, Jack, Ethan, Sergey, and the rest of the team struggle to put a stop to Madigan and his army. In the desolate extremes of the Arctic, their resolve, their strength, and even their love is tested, pushed to the absolute limits as choices must be made: choices that pit the fate of the world against the love in their hearts, and the loves of their life.

As the world crumbles around them, Jack and Ethan find themselves waging a war on two fronts—against an enemy they can see, and another, hiding within their ranks.

Who can be trusted when the enemy is within you?

Excerpt

The sounds of the convoy coming alive in the frosty morning started clattering through their patch of snowy forest. Grumbled Russian, slamming doors and squeaky metal hinges, the crackle of logs in a fire, and the clang of pots and pans that Vasily insisted on bringing from Volga.

Jack nuzzled at Ethan’s neck, and the roughness of his beard, grown thick in the five days they’d been on the road, scratched over Ethan’s skin just before Jack dropped a kiss beneath his jaw. “Morning, love.”

Ethan smiled down at him, de-cocked his pistol, and slid it into his hip holster beneath their blankets. He wrapped both arms around Jack as Jack turned and faced him. “How are you? Are you warm enough?” As Ethan spoke, his breath clouded the air between them.

“I’m good.” Jack peeled off his gloves beneath the blankets and snaked his warm hands up under Ethan’s jacket and sweater. His gentle, searching fingers found the long line of ragged stitches in Ethan’s side.

Ethan flinched.

“Sorry. You know we need to check them.” Carefully, Jack felt around the stitches, testing the skin, and then rested his palm over the top of the mostly-healed wound. “No heat. No swelling. No pus. No infection.” He smiled. “You had me worried after yesterday.”

Ethan ducked his head, his cheeks warming. While rummaging through an abandoned barn, he’d walked right through a rotted-out baseboard and fallen into a cellar, into the rough, loose earth. Not his finest moment. They’d wrangled some supplies, but he’d come away filthy and bruised, his ego smarting. Jack’s worried eyes and his gentle ministrations after they’d stopped for the night had helped sooth the ache.

Jack’s gaze darted over Ethan’s face, searching. He frowned. “Did you get any sleep?”

“Some.”

“Liar.” Arching an eyebrow, Jack sat back but kept his hands under Ethan’s clothes and on his skin. “You should let me watch over you at night, too.”

“I’d rather do it. I have you close to me.” He patted his hip and his holstered weapon. “I have constant protection on you all night long. There’s no way anyone can get to you. Not without going through me.”

“Literally.” Jack smiled, but it faded fast. “I’ll drive during the day again. Rest, and let me watch over you.” He squeezed Ethan’s hip as if to emphasize his point.

Ethan nodded, and the corners of his lips quirked up. This was new, this give and take of caretaking and watching out for each other. In DC, at the White House, there had been their jobs and their duties and the world to react to. They took care of slights and wounds inflicted by the press, their suits and ties a kind of armor against the world. Out in the wilderness, in the forest, they’d fallen into a different kind of caretaking. A sharing of two lives, each supporting the other’s existence. It was primal, in a way, how they had fused together. Half of his life was in Jack’s hands, and instead of feeling vulnerable, it was the most natural feeling in the world. “Deal.” Leaning forward, he pressed a kiss to Jack’s lips.

A question hovered in the forefront of Ethan’s mind, weighing on his thoughts. Every morning, he felt the weight of his secret resting over his heart: two rings, made before the world fell apart around them. Some moments, asking Jack was on the tip of his tongue, ready to tumble from his lips with his next breath. He forced himself to swallow the words. Not yet. It wasn’t the right time. Not yet.

Jack leaned into Ethan, and his hands wound around Ethan’s back beneath his sweater. “At some point, we won’t be sleeping in this jeep anymore,” he whispered into their kiss. “We’ll have room to stretch out… share a sleeping bag…”

Smiling, Ethan pulled off his gloves and brought his hands up to Jack’s face, his thumbs caressing Jack’s cheeks. “We don’t need a sleeping bag…” One hand snaked around Jack’s neck, and the other dropped to his hip.

In a flash, he flipped Jack, laying him on his back across the bench seat. Jack wrapped his legs around Ethan’s waist as Ethan slid his hands through Jack’s blond strands.

Jack grabbed his shoulders and pulled Ethan closer, his legs tightening and holding Ethan in place. He captured Ethan’s lips, kissing greedily as his hips rocked upward. Even through the layers they wore, Ethan felt Jack’s hard cock, pressing against his own.

“I want you,” Jack breathed.  “I want you to make love to me.”

Ethan’s blood burned, searing through his body from his head to his toes, and part of him wanted to tilt Jack’s head back and ravage his throat, work his way down, unwrap him like a present until he found his cock. Suck him deep. Work him open with his tongue until Jack begged for more, and then sink his cock into Jack’s warm, tight body. Jesus, he wanted Jack. So much.

The springs on the jeep’s suspension squeaked with their rocking, and the tires groaned and crunched against the snow on the ground. In the distance, low chuckles sounded, and one catcall.

Deflating, Ethan dropped his forehead to Jack’s chest. He rode Jack’s deep, heaving breaths and listened to his racing heartbeat. “I don’t want an audience when I make love to you again.”

Jack’s legs dropped, one falling over the back of the front seat, and the other squishing against the window. His hands stroked over Ethan’s back and tangled in his hair. “I don’t want to have to be quiet.”

“Jesus.” Ethan gripped Jack and surged against him, thrusting against his hard cock once more. “That’s not helping.”

Smiling, Jack rocked his hips up once and then scooted backward, propping himself up on his elbows as Ethan sat back and tried to straighten out his clothes. A prominent bulge strained the front of his cargo pants. He ached, nearly painfully hard for Jack.

From the center of the camp, Scott called, “Coffee’s ready if you are!”

Rumbling laughter, deep and throaty, from nearly all the men.

Shaking his head, Jack started to pull himself together next to Ethan and fished out his balaclava from the pocket of his cargo pants. Outside of the jeep, he wore a full-face balaclava and, on their drive, he kept everything but his eyes covered. Ethan insisted, and Scott and Sergey both backed him up. The members of their convoy, of course, knew who Jack was, and just after Jack had shown up, Sergey had delivered a scathing speech in Russian to his people that had had even Ethan flinching, though he didn’t understand a word that had been said. But, they were traveling through a war zone, parts of Russia that were contested in the coup, under attack from Moroshkin’s forces, and that had been bombed by the United States and other nations, all trying to stop Moroshkin.

Who knew what was out there, or who was out there. Jack was, to the world, brain dead in Bethesda Naval Hospital. A front-page picture of him alive and well in Russia would go over as well as a nuclear bomb.

“Scott came by?” Jack tucked his undershirt into his pants, taking a moment to readjust. His cheeks were dusted crimson, a faint flush that Ethan wanted to nibble.

“Yeah.” He tore his eyes away from Jack and fanned the bottom of his sweater, trying to cool his body.

“How’d the scouting go?”

“The route is clear for the morning. More abandoned villages. They found fuel and some supplies. Vasily is cooking eggs.” Ethan reached out, and his fingers traced Jack’s spine through his sweater and jacket. “And you should talk to Sergey.”

Turning, Jack stared at Ethan.

“I think Scott’s worried about him.” A tight, strained smile, curved his lips. “And that’s saying something.” Scott’s trust in Sergey, and in their Russian allies, extended from meal to meal. Day to day, hour by hour. If everything came apart, Scott would be the first to say “I knew it”.

“He hasn’t wanted to talk to me.” Swallowing, Jack leaned back with a sigh. His hands dropped to his lap, and he picked at the wool fibers of the balaclava. “He’s kept his distance since Volga. I’m not sure I’m the person he wants to see right now.”

Nodding slowly, Ethan frowned. Sergey’s harsh accusations, thrown at Jack at Volga air base, had been the last direct contact the two had. “After all this time, you think he’s pulling away because of…”

Because of their love? Because he and Jack were together? Because Sergey had been loved by a gay man? Was this some kind of reaction, a fear that falling in love with another man “was contagious”, as he’d hurled at Jack?

“He’s pulled back before.” Jack sat forward, slipped the balaclava over his head. He tugged it down around his neck. “I want to do the right thing by him. I don’t want to piss him off.” He frowned, deep lines furrowing his brow. “But, no matter what else is going on, he’s devastated about losing Sasha. I remember what it felt like when I thought you were dead. I can at least try to talk to him about that.”

Ethan’s chest constricted, and his heart almost seized. Was it only a week ago that he’d thought Jack was dead and gone as well? Never, ever, again. He’d do everything in his power to keep Jack safe, keep him from ever coming to harm. And, he’d never lose faith like that again, either. The darkness that had swallowed him on his race from Saudi Arabia to Russia. The emptiness, the silent scream within his soul. The way he had wanted to die, had begged the world to kill him.

Together. They’d face everything together from now on. No matter what.

Adjusting the balaclava, Jack leaned over and pressed a chaste kiss to Ethan’s lips. “Time to face the music, love.”

Ethan pulled out his own balaclava, tugged it down around his neck, and gripped the door handle. They piled out of the back of the jeep, and Ethan caught the smothered grins and barks of laughter sent their way. Scott raised a dented metal mug toward them both. Jack headed for him, and for the small fire on which Vasily was cooking.

One of the Russians who went out with Scott every morning, Aleksey, slid up to Ethan. Middle-aged, Aleksey had been a federal police officer in Sochi and had fought back with Sergey against Moroshkin and Madigan’s forces the night of the coup. Now, he was one of Sergey’s officers in the insurgency. He had a small beer gut and a thick salt and pepper mustache beneath ruddy, pockmarked cheeks, a quick, sharp smile, and perpetually messy hair.

His eyes glittered as he clapped Ethan on the back. “You are good Russian lover!” he crowed. “Quick!”

Others laughed, and Ethan spied Jack smothering his grin and rolling his eyes as he took the coffee Scott offered. Scott shrugged and hid his smile in his next sip.

Ethan clapped Aleksey on the upper arm, smiling along with the others. When he and Jack had first met the men in Sergey’s insurgency, they’d worried about how they would be received. Two men in love in a country where only months before, Sasha had almost been killed for being gay. Another man, Evgeni Konnikov, had been murdered.

Sergey’s men, however, had been nothing but accepting. They were believers in Sergey’s government, after all, and Sergey had made equality a foundational platform of his politics and administration.

They just showed that acceptance through good Russian ribbing and teasing. The more ribald the better.

“If we had actually got going,” Ethan began, winking first at Jack and then sending Aleksey a grin, “we’d be here for days.”

More laughter. Aleksey wagged his finger in Ethan’s face and squeezed his elbow before handing him a cup of bitter, sludgy coffee. Vasily waved him and Jack over, and he scooped the last of the eggs into a scavenged plastic bowl they shared. “I save for you,” Vasily said, pointing to them both.

Jack thanked him. As they ate, Ethan spotted Sergey standing in front of his jeep, his hands resting flat on a spread-out map of Russia draped over the hood with his head bowed low. He looked up, and his piercing gaze fell on Jack. There was a moment where his face flickered, something dark passing through his eyes, but it was gone before Ethan could catch it.

And then, Sergey folded up his map and climbed into the driver’s side of his jeep. He kept his eyes downcast, not once looking at Jack again.

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Meet the Author

Tal Bauer is an award-winning and best-selling author of LGBT romantic thrillers, bringing together a career in law enforcement and international humanitarian aid to create dynamic characters, intriguing plots, and exotic locations. Tal is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America.

Pronouns: They/them & he/him

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail

 

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COVER REVEAL: Runaway by Nic Starr

Releasing a new cover is always a thrill. There’s something special about sharing the visual representation of a book – all the blood, sweat and tears, that have turned into a tangible thing!

Runaway is part of the Dreamspinner Press World of Love collection. Hopefully, the cover gives enough of a hint as to the location of the story. 🙂

The beautiful cover is by L.C. Chase.

Happy reading,

Nic xx

Blurb

Dr Nathan Powell is ready to settle down near his family, and hopefully find the man of his dreams. He returns to the small coastal town where he grew up, but while life is simpler than it was in the city, there are also complications—like patients’ reactions to an openly gay doctor. And like running into Nate’s first love, Damien, an out-and-proud local business owner who is unwilling to be any man’s dirty secret. The reunion reignites old desire even while it stirs up Nate’s guilt over the way things ended with Damien.

When Nate’s nephew runs away, Damien accompanies Nate on his mission to find the young man. The drive to Sydney, and the search of the city, gives Nate time to reconnect with Damien—and to wonder if he made the right decision years ago—when he determined a future for them was impossible. Is a fresh start realistic for two men in their forties? But before he can ponder the second chance they’ve been given, Nate must locate his nephew.

World of Love: Stories of romance that span every corner of the globe.

Cover Artist: L.C. Chase

Release Date: 12th April 2017

Length: 86 pages

Pre-Order Link

Dreamspinner Press – available for Pre-Order

 

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Release Blitz & Giveaway: Ghost (Sanctuary #9) by RJ Scott

Buy Links:  Amazon US  Amazon UK
Cover: BitterGrace Art

Length: 45,000 words

Sanctuary Series

Guarding Morgan (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Only Easy Day (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Face Value (Book #3) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Still Waters (Book #4) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Full Circle (Book #5) Amazon US | Amazon UK
The Journal of Sanctuary One (Book #6) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Worlds Collide (Book #7) Amazon US | Amazon UK
Accidental Hero (Book #8) Amazon US | Amazon UK


Blurb


Can you ever hold on to a ghost?


Elliot is tracking an elusive killer, codenamed Ghost, with ties to organized crime. Every time the Sanctuary team gets close, Ghost slips their grasp.


Cole has nowhere left to turn. With his father dying and his sister in danger, he turns for help to the very people trying to track him down. Sanctuary’s assistance is what he needs to punch another hole in Varga’s organization.


When Elliot and Cole meet, it isn’t just passion that consumes them. When lust becomes something more, Elliot realizes that sometimes you can’t hold on to a ghost, and that sacrifice is often the only way to make things right.

 
Chapter One
 

“This is not going to end well,” his sister warned him, an edge to her voice.
“I just need five minutes.” Cole was aiming for composed and in control, despite the fact his adrenaline was spiking dangerously high. Where was his center? Where was his ability to see events unfold before him with calm consideration?
Gone as soon as your two worlds began to collide with the horrible realization that today would finally be the day you might not make it out alive.
“Cole—”
“Do your job, sis.”
“Fuck you, big brother.”
Cole didn’t answer that one. As the controller of the op, she wouldn’t take her eyes off the meeting she was tasked with watching—six of Varga’s key men in a restaurant on Halsted, giving him the heads-up when they disbanded and headed toward the run-down warehouse district for the meeting. He was there to deal with a man who didn’t deserve to live on this earth, and he was already fighting the sickness roiling in his stomach.
Unfortunately, things had taken a turn for the worse, and Cole wished he could say he’d expected the shit to hit the fan, but he hadn’t. He’d honestly thought tonight would go smoothly given he’d evaded Sanctuary again.
He’d been the mouse avoiding the trap for so long that he’d not seen the pattern emerging. Slowly but surely, Sanctuary was getting closer, the proverbial thorn in his side. It was as though they were second-guessing him, tracking him enough to see patterns.
Patterns killed people in his line of work.
He checked his gun, considered holstering it. No one was supposed to die tonight; it was just a deal—money for human lives—something he’d been working on for months. His job was to fix this, but Sanctuary kept getting in his way.
And if they caught up with him again, with their do-good meddling and their freaking unanswered questions, he was way too smart to get caught.
Normally.
“Bad guys are only five minutes out,” his sister warned again. He didn’t answer, and she wouldn’t expect him to. “And you’ve got company with Sanctuary tracking your way.”
“Fuck.”
“You need me there?”
Cole weighed his options. She needed to be with their father, who couldn’t be left, so it was just Cole and his gun and his sorely tested wits.
He’d need his gun if he needed to get away from that Sanctuary fucker Elliot. The man was like a dog with a bone, and Cole couldn’t afford to be compromised tonight. Every meeting, every mission, Elliot got closer, yet Cole couldn’t move from his spot or everything would go to shit and he’d lose his chance of getting the best human return for his cash.
Sanctuary was the elite, but he knew he was better, or he’d have died a long time ago. Bravado and confidence had gotten him this far in life, mostly unharmed and thankfully alive. But if Elliot arrived when the shit was hitting the fan, he’d be collateral damage, and Cole wasn’t ready to work on those terms.
He moved even deeper into the shadows, his back against the brick wall, an exit to the street on his right, the parking lot on his left. Above his head was the fire escape pull-down ladder for that apartment block; at his feet, the ground was damp with the rain that had only eased up a few minutes ago, and distant streetlights sparkled in puddle remnants just outside the cloak of darkness. Everything was quiet; but moments away, following fuck-knows-what lead to get there, was Sanctuary.
Or, more correctly, Elliot, with his dogged determination and his uncanny ability to see beyond a scene and know exactly where Cole had gone.
Last time, Elliot had only missed him by a single minute, and Cole wasn’t ashamed to admit that the near misses sent a frisson of excitement up his spine. Too often he’d been the steady one, staring down a scope, a surgical removal to keep others safe, distanced from the kill and the action. The cat and mouse with Elliot was a game that he was enjoying far too much.
Add to which, Elliot was gorgeous and sexy, and all kinds of a hard-ass, and Cole was happy to surveil the guy every moment he could. Elliot was a good guy who didn’t smile much, but he’d broken up with his boyfriend two months before; he shopped organically and lived close to the place Sanctuary called Head Office in Chicago. All things being even, Elliot would score high on Cole’s list of ideal attributes in a lover. There was nothing better than roughing up an organic-loving tight-ass and reducing him to a puddle of goo in the middle of snow-white sheets.
Not that he’d spent a long time fantasizing about Elliot naked and in his bed.
He listened for the tiny noises that would give Elliot’s arrival away, not as close as breathing, but his movement could block sounds from the street beyond, if only infinitesimally.
The cold air promised more snow; Cole knew the only thing that could give him away would be the puff of his breath, so he burrowed down into the scarf twisted around his neck.
A soft scuff of leather on the sidewalk had Cole stiffening, and he briefly tightened his grip on the lethal SIG in his hand. He relaxed only a millisecond later when a woman’s laughter and a man’s voice had him focusing past the light and to the street beyond. He was right on Englewood’s district line, and the whole meeting was playing out in a place where he felt way too exposed. He knew his mark had set this meet here for a reason. Mario was a shifty fucker who played the game of criminal very well. Little did the man know that nothing was going to keep him safe if he fucked Cole over. Not tonight. Not ever.
The woman laughed again, but this time the sound seemed a little off, as if she hadn’t really meant to laugh. There was no real joy in the noise.
Too late he realized what that meant.
Too late when the whisper of a movement to his left turned into the barrel of a weapon smacking his temple.
The wall kept him standing, but the sweep of a foot behind his knee had him landing heavily on one side, in stagnant water. Cole didn’t lay there waiting for the next part of this dance; he was rolling even as he fell, one leg darting out as he rose, catching his assailant in the thigh and causing him to stumble back. Coming to a crouch, Cole admired the way the other man’s stumble turned into nothing more than a sidestep and a twisting motion that missed Cole by inches.
Cole took the initiative, stepping right into the man’s space, up close to Elliot’s face, and in seconds he’d pushed him hard against the wall.
“Leave it,” Cole growled, when what he wanted to do was sit Elliot down and explain exactly why he needed Elliot to leave right the fuck now.
“Fuck you,” Elliot snapped, even as he fell limp in Cole’s hold, then yanked free to shove a knee right into Cole’s groin.
He missed by inches; the force of the shove went to Cole’s inner thigh, hard enough to give him a dead leg long enough to give Elliot the upper hand.
But Cole wasn’t done. He countered with a punch to Elliot’s face, feeling the wetness of fist on skin at the point where Elliot’s head snapped back with a spray of blood. A normal man would be on the ground after that—hell, a normal man wouldn’t have gotten out of Cole’s press against the wall.
Elliot wasn’t a normal man. He was trained, focused, and fucking vicious at it.
“They’re really close now; you need to end this with Sanctuary.”
His sister’s voice in his ear was enough to make Cole follow through with another punch that caught cheekbone and hair and then slid past to slam the wall. He cursed the contact and his stupidity at giving Elliot the upper hand. This time it was Cole himself up against the wall, and he could see dark eyes, focused and hard, and feel the fingers tightening on his throat. He attempted to go limp, but all Elliot did was push harder, which left only one thing. Elliot was close, and with a concerted effort, Cole snapped his head forward, the top smacking Elliot between the eyes.
Elliot crumpled at first, momentarily stunned, and then he stumbled to stand.
But Cole was prepared, retrieving his weapon and pointing it directly at Elliot. “Run,” he snapped.
Elliot said nothing, stepping toward him. Fuck, did the man not care that Cole had a gun on him?
“You have company one minute out.” The voice in his ear sounded a little frantic.
Fuck, this whole thing was going wrong. Cole had his mark and various cronies bearing down on him, and Sanctuary in the shape of Elliot right in the freaking middle.
But if Cole left, then what about the kids? Teenagers the same age as his brother, straight from the boat, working in slavery for the Varga organization. They had a deal, and tonight Cole had the money and the upper hand.
Or at least he had until Elliot tracked him down.
“You have to leave,” he snapped and gestured with the gun.
Surprise made Elliot frown, and only when he saw that did Cole realize he’d fucked up—they were standing under the street light. They needed to get back into the shadows. Cole shoved him back against the wall, wincing at the sound of Elliot’s skull making contact with the bricks before he wordlessly slid to the ground in the darkness.
And then it was too late to think of anything.
At the same time his sister’s frantic voice warned him that a car was turning onto the street, Cole heard a voice from the darkness.
So, his mark had sent an advance guard, and all Cole could think was that if it was his time to die, he didn’t want to take anyone with him.
“Drop the gun, asshole,” a voice said from somewhere beyond the light. He caught sight of the semi-automatic weapon as the person stepped forward; he didn’t stand a chance against that kind of firepower. The barrel of another gun poked at the base of his skull.
Cole dropped his pistol to the ground, feeling abruptly bereft. “It’s done,” he said to whoever the hell was behind him.
Cole lifted his hands and laced them behind his head, looking right into the darkness, not able to see Elliot’s form but hoping to hell he stayed the fuck down. Very deliberately he turned to face the man with the gun at his head.
“Talk to me,” his sister snapped at him, her voice dead and cold, gone past emotional and well into focused.
“You realize I have a meeting with Mario, right? That this was organized? He won’t take it well when he finds out you’re here with a gun on me.”
A nasal voice joined in. “I’m quite happy with the situation,” Mario said.
And right there and then, Cole knew time was up. He needed to confront this; he had a legitimate cover there, and he needed to maintain it. Slowly he unclasped his hands and let them hang loosely at his sides. “What the fuck, man?” he asked.
“Do you have access to the money?”
Cole wasn’t letting the evil fucker get control of the conversation. “How many?” he asked firmly.
Mario looked at him; a group of others, all armed, were crowding around him. Mario was nothing if not the nervous type, twitchy like a ferret, all sharp angles, and meth-head eyes. He’d made it so far in the Varga organization only due to the fact he was Varga’s nephew or cousin, or some such shit.
He was also suspicious as hell of anything and everything, which was why it had taken this long for Cole to get anywhere near him. Tonight wasn’t the night that Cole got to deal with erasing Mario from existence; he had kids to get out alive. That was his priority.
“You can have seven of them,” Mario said, his lips stretching in an obscene grin.
“The deal was for all ten.”
Mario shrugged as if he wasn’t playing with people’s lives. “I have a market for the other three,” he said nonchalantly.
Cole knew exactly what that meant: the younger girls parceled up and sold on. “All ten, or no deal,” he stated, keeping emotion out of his voice.
“Then the price goes up. No skin off my nose who gets them.”
“How much?”
“Well now… just how badly do you want them all?”
One of Mario’s men snickered, and the sound echoed in the otherwise quiet alley.
Cole could play it two ways: show his hand and admit he was desperate to get all ten of the illegals Mario had, or try to call his bluff.
“Fuck you,” Cole said, and drew himself tall. He wished he had his weapon, but he’d just have to hope to hell that confronting was the answer. “The deal’s off.”
He bent to pick up his weapon, slowly placing it back into the holster and straightening his jacket. Varga senior would be pissed with his lieutenant blowing a deal like that. Getting illegals to the city was one thing, offloading them with profit above and beyond what the illegals had probably paid to get there was an entirely different ball game. He could visualize the thought processes going on…Mario was the youngest of three lieutenants that reported to Varga, the one still out to prove himself, and he wouldn’t want to lose the deal.
“An extra ten,” Mario said, throwing it out as if it meant nothing to him.
“Five.” Cole couldn’t give in too easily.
“Hell, I can get double that on the ’net for the seven-year-old,” Mario said.
Cole had to stop the panic pushing at his chest and nausea that threatened to have him vomiting on the sidewalk. The idea of a child as young as seven being under this bastard’s control made him sick to his stomach. He pretended to consider the deal, knowing full well he’d pay every fucking cent. “Seven-five and we’re done, cash in the bank.” He even injected a small note of respect into his voice, which had Mario preening in front of his posse. He’d save face, and Cole would keep his persona of didn’t-give-a-shit human trafficker intact.
“I’ll take that,” Mario said.
One of the posse stepped forward, and intel was buzzing in his ear about twelve souls being inside the warehouse. Not ten, twelve. Two of them were moving around, the other ten not moving much. Twelve heat signatures, so all ten kids were alive—but the extra two? Mario was fucking with him, had likely placed two men inside. Cole would take a step inside the warehouse, and be a dead man.
How had he blown his cover? This wasn’t the first deal he’d brokered with Mario, setting up his cover as a trader in human flesh, looking for ways to save lives and get deep into Varga’s organization at the same time. But something wasn’t right…
Very carefully and deliberately he pulled out his cell, and with a few button presses, transferred the fifty, plus the extra seven-five, into the account he’d been given details of. Next to Mario one of the guys checked his own cell and nodded.
“It’s cleared.”
Mario tossed the key card for the warehouse to Cole, who caught it deftly. “All yours,” Mario said, and then he turned and left, taking everyone with him.
“Heads-up,” his sister said. “The extra two have left the building at the rear. Hovering outside the closed door.”
What the fuck?
Cole crossed to the steel door and waved the card at the lock, half surprised when the door actually clicked and swung open. He pushed his way in to be faced with piles of packing cases and pallets. Pulling the door shut behind him, he cautiously made his way around the piles and checked out the corners of the warehouse. He’d lost contact with outside assistance since he’d walked in there, just one hell of a lot of static and not much in the way of a voice.
He rounded what he imagined was the last corner to find ten—he counted—kids and teenagers, none older than fourteen: six girls and four boys huddled together, bound with chains to a metal framework. Most of them stared at him with dead eyes; only the youngest was whimpering and crying. What had they been through to get here? Torn from their families, placed into shipping containers, and then passed around to their new owners on payment of money?
Immediately he went to a crouch and held out a hand in a gesture of innocence. “It’s okay,” he said in English. “I’m here to help.”
He repeated it in as many languages as he’d learned those words in, hoping to hell he’d hit the jackpot somewhere along the way. He approached the closest child, a boy of thirteen or so who stared at him blankly. Apologizing in soft tones, Cole reached over and checked the chain. He found a simple lock that he could have them out of quickly. He pulled out his kit, dealt first with one lock, then another, his hands shaky at first, waiting to die in a hail of bullets. At least he could get the kids away.
The radio crackled and hissed in his ear; he could only make out a few words. Fire! Get out.
Resolutely he continued with the chains until all ten were free; he realized they’d all gathered close to him, some holding hands, but all looking to him as smoke edged under the boxes and into their corner. Cole was considerably taller than the children, and he could see past the nearest blockage to a hint of fire beyond, cutting them off from the exit.
So, that was how he was being taken out of the equation; that was how Mario deleted him from the Chicago sex trade. Mario was removing a rival, along with ten innocent kids.
Think.
“Sis? Can you hear me?” He spoke loudly above the sound of the littlest girl crying. In a smooth move, he scooped her up, holding her tight. If there was no way out of here and they were all going to die, what would he do? He had bullets; he could shoot some of the kids? Fuck, the horror was sick inside him. Think. Think. He wasn’t going to let anyone burn to death.
Stop, he told himself. There’s nothing to be won by planning for the worst.
He looked up at the vents and tiny windows about twenty feet from the floor. He could pile boxes, pass the kids up, smash the window.
The heat was getting noticeable; the huddle of kids pressed tighter. They didn’t have much time. An explosion of glass had them all ducking as panes shattered around them. Had the fire reached the windows?
Then he heard shouting.
“Up here!” a voice demanded, and peering up, Cole could see Elliot scrambling through the space and lowering himself in, dropping and rolling awkwardly. “Get the boxes.”
For a second, Cole was immobile, and then adrenaline flooded into him. Between him and Elliot, they made a pile of boxes and crates. A step up, lifting and dragging, and one by one the kids were out of the window, wriggling through the space. Elliot went next, going out, then reaching back in as fire began to lick at the boxes.
Cole’s breathing became labored. And then he spotted the smallest kid, curled into a ball, her face hidden by her hands and her long dark hair. She was so tiny and scared, way down on the ground, not climbing up as the others had done. Cole thought she’d been first out, but in the chaos, he’d missed her.
“Kid!” Elliot shouted from the window.
But if anything, she curled tighter, her hands over her ears, rocking slowly. “I’m going back down,” Cole said.
“You have thirty seconds before this whole place lights up.”
Cole didn’t hesitate—he wasn’t about to leave a child behind. He jumped lithely to the floor and into a crouch, cursing at the pain shooting up from his knee, as he crawled low under the choking smoke to where the girl huddled.
He grabbed her, but she wailed and fought against his hold. Cole ignored the scratching of fingers and the sheer panic, and climbed the crates up to the window, his chest tight; breathing hard. There he unfurled her fingers, shoving the girl through the space to Elliot, who yanked her through.
“Is that ten?” Cole gasped as the box he stood on wavered; he gripped hard at the windowsill.
“Get out.”
“Is that all ten kids?”
“Yes, grab hold!” Elliot held out a hand.
Cole tried to grip as the pile toppled, their fingers touched, and then the world fell away, stopped in a millisecond by Elliot leaning in and grabbing at Cole. Elliot pulled, and Cole scrambled, and the hungry fire bit at him, burned him even as he fell out of the building and the force of hitting the trash cans below was enough to steal his breath.
“Jesus,” Elliot snapped, smacking at Cole’s jacket to extinguish the flames as Cole shrugged it off in a panic.
As he rolled, he pulled his weapon from its holster and pointed it right between Elliot’s eyes, waiting for him to make a move. All Elliot did was raise his hands and stare at Cole with an expression that Cole couldn’t read.
Cole asked, “Where are Mario’s two goons?”
“Out cold. You’re not the man we profiled. Who the fuck are you really?”
Cole didn’t answer.
“You should know I called 911,” Elliot said, his expression unreadable.
Was Elliot giving him a chance to leave? A warning? He seemed more interested in hugging the kids to him protectively than in taking Cole down.
Cole looked away from the kids to Elliot and holstered his gun. “Do this for them,” he said. To get involved with the cops at that moment would destroy everything. “The Andreas Home on Windsor Street. It’s a special place for kids taken from their parents like this. Will you take them?”
Elliot nodded. “Yes,” he said, all seriousness. Then he inclined his head toward the sound of sirens.


Cole grabbed what was left of his jacket, and with one last look at Elliot and the kids, he was gone.

 

Author Bio


RJ Scott is the bestselling romance author of over 100 romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men and women who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.


The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.


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RELEASE DAY! READ THE ENTIRE FIRST CHAPTER HERE! As the Sun Sets (Love for the Seasons, 3) by RJ Jones

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RJ is back with the third installment of her Love for the Seasons series.

This story is about Scott (who features briefly in book one) a paediatric oncologist who burns out watching kids die in his care. He’s been celibate for a year. He’s emotionally broken and takes an A&E position in Brighton hoping a sea change is what he needs to get his life back in order. What he didn’t expect was to meet Ben, a childhood nurse with a clinically depressed dog. How does Ben help Scott pick his life up? Just how much of Scott’s history influences his day to day life? You’ll have to read it to find out.

Here’s the blurb:

A sea change could be just what the doctor ordered.

Doctor Scott Penney used to be a Paediatric Oncologist—until he burned out. Watching children suffer and die took its toll on his mental health. To cope, he used anonymous sex as an emotional crutch, thinking it was better than hitting the bottle. But that inevitably destroyed his relationship with the man he loved.

With his tail between his legs and a year’s worth of celibacy under his belt, Scott accepts a position as an Accident and Emergency consultant, leaving his career in oncology and London behind.

Ben Jenkins is a paediatric nurse who loves his seaside city, his job, and his faithful old Labrador, Happy. When he meets the new doctor, Ben falls for Scott’s kind-yet-reserved personality—not to mention his good looks. Scott is great with the children who come to the hospital, but Ben senses there’s more to Scott than meets the eye.

Scott tries to resist Ben’s sunny charm—Scott’s not boyfriend material, after all—but it’s impossible not to fall in love with the sad looking old dog and his charming owner. As Scott and Ben get closer and the weather heats up, tragedy strikes and Ben is left wondering how much of Scott’s history he actually knows.

For them to move forward, Ben must show Scott that no matter what happened in the past, a beautiful day can always start after the sun sets.

**This can be read as a standalone**

(Keep scrolling to read the entire first chapter)

 

Books #1 and #2 are now available on Kindle Unlimited.

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Buy links:

As the Leaves Fall   As the Ice Melts   As the Sun Sets

 

Chapter One:

HOW DO you know if you’ve made the right decision? What tells you to go left instead of right? Is the devil you know really any better, or is he just as fucked up as the other guy?

I could stay in London, stay in paediatric oncology—even though it sucked the life from me—and continue living a half-life. I had no partner and no desire. My sex life had become non-existent by choice. My passion for my work had been flushed down the toilet along with my relationship with Noah.

On the other hand, I had an offer to move to Brighton and start a new role as a consultant paediatrician in the Accident and Emergency department at the children’s hospital. Would I be happier there? Dealing with kids who had been in a car accident or unwittingly drank a bottle of cleaner didn’t mean I wouldn’t have to deal with kids dying. I may see less of it than I did in oncology, but…

Should I run away and start a new life by the sea? Was it running or knowing when to move on? Could it be as simple as taking an offer to get out of a city that was sucking my soul to the point I didn’t recognise myself anymore? Wasn’t the ocean supposed to be healing?

When I first received the offer from Brighton, I’d thought about telling Noah, but after the last time I saw him, I thought better of it. I didn’t know if I still loved him or not, but we’d been good together, and I missed the closeness, the intimacy, and the company. You couldn’t call what I’d done at the sauna intimate. It was fucking. Pure and simple. Well, maybe not so pure. But I had used anonymous sex like a drug to get out of my head after a bad shift the same way some people used drugs or alcohol.

I’d become addicted to the endorphin rush sex could bring, and I kept telling myself it was a better form of therapy than illicit substances or booze. Anonymous sex meant I went home to Noah feeling better about my day and not dwelling on the fact I had just told a young couple that their beloved child wasn’t responding to treatment and there was nothing else I could do. I was a doctor, for fuck’s sake. Unless they counted on a miracle, I was their last hope, and to watch that hope sputter and die in front of me killed a little part of my sanity each time.

Maybe drinking would have been less damaging, but I vowed to never touch alcohol.

Looking back—hindsight is a wonderful thing—I couldn’t even say I enjoyed the sex at the sauna all that much. I’d been safe, always, but the men I’d been with—and God knew there were many—had been nothing but substitute hands. Which, when I thought of Noah and how much we’d been in love, made my infidelity all the more foolish and shortsighted.

When Noah kicked me out for the last time, I hit rock bottom. Unless I wanted to end up like my parents and self-destruct, I knew I had to reassess my life and stop going to the sauna. My inability to distance myself emotionally while working in the paediatric oncology department still sucked the life from me, but I had stopped using sex as a distraction. Instead, I cried. I got angry at the world and threw things around my flat in frustration and cursed God for giving babies cancer their little immune systems had no chance of fighting. Then I cried some more, retreating into myself. After all that, I got up the next morning and prayed it would be a good day.

But there were some happy times in amongst all the crap. My job could be rewarding and fulfilling. Not every child I saw succumbed to the disease, and I revelled in the way some patients seemed to take on the world, as well as the cancer, and win. Those were the times that made me look forward to going to work, knowing I could help save a life and save the parents from the heartbreak of burying a child.

That was what drove me.

I’d always wanted to work with kids, had always understood them. They could be brutally honest and innocent as hell at the same time. I hadn’t yet met a child I couldn’t talk to. When I was initially offered the position in oncology four years ago, I jumped at the chance, keen to get my hands dirty and kick cancer’s arse. I was ambitious—if a little naïve—and ready to take on the world. It was almost an obsession to give the patients the best chance of survival I could. I did everything I could to stop cancer ravaging their little bodies. I studied new treatment methods, researched what alternative medicines other countries were trialling, and subscribed to every relevant medical journal I could.

But despite doing everything humanly possible, sometimes it wasn’t enough.

It wasn’t just the loss of young lives that had sent me over the edge. It was the loss of my chosen career. As much as I hated cancer, I also loved it. I loved the complexity of it and how it seemed determined to outsmart the medicine I threw at it. Sometimes I won, which made me feel like I’d not only saved a life, but saved the entire world. In the eyes of the parents, I had. I’d saved their world, and to me, there was no greater joy.

So, when I stumbled upon the A&E position at the children’s hospital in Brighton advertised through the BMA website, I thought why the fuck not? I could still help kids, maybe save a life or two. Because God knew, trying to help kids with cancer was slowly killing me.

Maybe trying to save a kid’s life and actually succeeding more often than not would enable me to be me again. I may be able to have a taste of that same joy once more. Maybe the salty air and wide-open ocean would do me some good. Maybe I could have sex again. Then again, maybe not. It’d been close to a year since I’d been touched by another man. I wasn’t sure I knew what to do anymore.

Decisions. Which was the best one?

Stay or go?

London or Brighton?

Only time would tell if I’d made the right choice, I guess.

I signed the contract.

I wondered briefly if Noah was still with that guy with the long hair.

I shook my head. It no longer mattered.

I couldn’t go back now anyway.

 

I FOUND a small flat not far from Brighton Marina and a short walk to the hospital. After spending most of the day unpacking, I took a walk along the beachfront, sure I’d find a chippie nearby so I could grab some dinner. I had unpacked most of the kitchen items but had yet to come across the crockery. I’d find that box eventually.

I walked almost all the way to the pier before I came across some shops. Most of what I’d seen on my walk so far were mansions and upmarket apartments overlooking the beach. As summer was fast approaching, the weather wasn’t too cold but I still needed a jacket and scarf, and I hoped the nearest chip shop had the heat going. I must’ve walked into the gay part of town, as a few rainbow flags flew proudly from the odd flat window and storefront. I should’ve done some research on the area before I committed to the move, but my head hadn’t been in the right place. When I signed the employment contract, I didn’t care where I went, as long as I left London and oncology behind.

I truly hoped the wide-open spaces of the coast was what I needed.

After paying for my fish and chips, I took my meal down to the beach and sat on the edge of the promenade wall. I wasn’t far from Brighton’s famous pier, and I made a mental note to explore the area more thoroughly after I settled into the flat. I didn’t start work for another week, which gave me plenty of time to check out my new neighbourhood and surrounding area.

Tearing open the chip shop paper, a waft of salt and vinegar threatened to knock me over. It was heaven, and my stomach rumbled loudly after not eating all day. I had lost weight over the last year. There were a lot of days I couldn’t bear the thought of food, and I hoped this was another aspect of life I would be able to eventually enjoy again. I was a mess, but I knew how to fix myself and get back the old me, and as I sat on the beach, dinner in hand and the breeze making sure summer stayed away for a little bit longer, I was confident this was the break I needed.

Closing my eyes, I breathed in the fresh salty air, filling my lungs and mentally purging everything that was my old life in London on an exhale. I opened my eyes, stared out at the churning waves, then dug into my dinner.

I’d nearly finished eating when I saw a guy running along the beach with his dog. There weren’t that many people about, the cold obviously keeping them at bay, but this guy seemed to revel in the wind as he ran. I couldn’t see his features. He wasn’t running fast but his dog appeared to be slowing down. The guy coaxed his dog along with the odd pat on his leg and an encouraging “come on, Happy” but Happy was having none of it. With a final lurch, Happy flopped on the beach, all four limbs spread out as he panted into the pebbles. The guy waved at his dog and kept running. Was he just going to leave his dog on the beach? What if Happy decided to wander off? Surely he was about to turn around and come back for his companion? But, no. He kept going and Happy continued to lie on the pebbles.

With my dinner finished, I should have started the walk back to my new flat, but I didn’t want to leave Happy alone, scared he’d be left behind or roam up to the road and into traffic. My mind wandered. What would I do if the guy didn’t come back? Where could I take Happy? Was there a shelter nearby? I couldn’t have him in my flat, the lease didn’t allow it. Happy got up and sniffed around, occasionally digging then rolling in whatever he’d managed to dig up while I tried to come up with a solution for him. He lay on his back in the pebbles, his feet in the air, and I thought he was about to start rolling in something again, but when he didn’t move, I realised he must’ve fallen asleep. About ten minutes later, Happy rolled over and sniffed around once more. He seemed calm and content to stay in roughly the same spot his owner had left him. It was only a few more minutes before Happy’s tail started going ten to the dozen. I glanced up the beach and saw Happy’s owner running back, minus his shirt, which I could see swaying from the back of his shorts where he’d tucked it in the waistband. Happy didn’t move—except his tail was still wagging madly—till his owner ran past and Happy trotted beside him again. The guy reached down and scratched the dog’s ears while he loped along.

I watched until they ran out of sight.

 

THE FOLLOWING day, after finishing my unpacking and sorting out my flat, I walked along the beach again. This time I found a kebab shop and I sat in the same spot I had yesterday while I ate. Today was a bit warmer but the breeze was still cool, and I huddled in my jacket as I devoured the garlicky goodness. It was lucky I didn’t have someone to go home to. My breath would be awful.

Just as I was about to head home, I saw Happy running beside his owner again. Sure enough, the large dog came to a slow halt and spread out on the beach as his owner continued running. I watched Happy for a while. He seemed a cheerful sort of dog as the occasional passer-by stopped and gave him a pat. That was probably how he got his name. I had always wanted a dog, but my working hours were long and unpredictable. Still, it’d be nice to go home to someone again.

After throwing my rubbish in a nearby bin, I wandered over to meet Happy. When I got closer, I could see he was an old Labrador. His golden coat was matted with the grit he’d been rolling in and his muzzle showed a hint of grey. When I approached, Happy looked up at me with large, sad brown eyes and a droopy mouth. Now I wondered how he got his name. He looked downright miserable.

I scratched his ears. “Hello, Happy. I see you’ve been rolling around getting dirty again.” Happy pushed his head into my hand and thwapped his tail before rolling onto his back. “Does that mean you want a tummy rub?” I took his muffled grunt as a yes and knelt down to rub the soft fur of his belly. Happy lapped it up. He may have looked clinically depressed, but his wagging tail and soft grunting told me a different story.

A few minutes later, Happy rolled over, got to his feet, and stared up the beach. I was being completely ignored, so I guessed he had had enough of me. When Happy’s tail started swishing, I looked up to see Happy’s owner returning from his run. He was still a fair way off, but I could tell it was him just by how excited Happy had become. That was my cue to leave.

I scratched the old Lab’s ears and gave him a pat on his rump. “See you next time, Happy. Be good.”

I headed towards the road for the walk home. I’d been in Brighton for two days, and it didn’t escape me that the longest conversation I’d had so far was with a dog.

The following day I walked along the beach a little earlier and explored that part of the city. Brighton Pier was bustling with late-April tourists.

From a distance the pier was huge, but it wasn’t until you were on it that you realised just how large the wooden structure was. There were roller coasters and fun rides, games arcades and restaurants, dodgem cars and a carousel. It was a kid’s dream and a parent’s budget nightmare. Standing against the railing, I watched kids of all ages run about, driving their folks crazy. I spotted an elderly couple sitting on a bench eating ice cream. There were people holding hands as they ambled around, arms heavy with bags full of their purchases and winnings. Everyone was smiling and laughing, and I couldn’t help but feel… not happy as such, but more relaxed and content as the late sun warmed me. I vowed to come back to the pier when the weather was a little better and spend the day.

Yes, moving to Brighton had so far been a good thing. I could breathe a little bit easier.

When I stepped off the pier, I saw Happy lying on the beach in his usual position; his owner was far off in the distance still running the other way. I knelt down beside him and said hello before rubbing his belly. Happy stood and licked my hand, his rough tongue scraping over my skin, before nuzzling his snout in my chest then lifting up to lick my face. He still looked miserable, though. Maybe it was just his way. Happy sat next to me and we looked out at the ocean together as I ran my hand down his back and over his fur. Before long, Happy stood and moved away, his focus directed down the shoreline. I knew his owner was returning from his run, and again I took that as my cue to head home. With a light scratch of Happy’s ears, I said goodbye, then walked home feeling lighter than I had for months.

Happy and I continued our routine for the next three days, then it was time for me to start my job at the A&E department at the children’s hospital.

I told myself I wasn’t nervous.

 

 

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GUEST POST & GIVEAWAY: Eye Candy by Pauline Allan

 

Pauline Allan joins us with a guest post plus you can win a copy of the ebook by commenting on the post, and visist Pauline’s website for the chance to win a Kindle Fire!

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When I sat down to write Eye Candy the same image continued to float through my head. A young man in a yellow pair of tight fitted boy shorts swaying his hips to a trance beat that carried me to another world. The colorful lights flickered and broke away over his bare chest when he shuffled his feet on top of the scarred wooden bar top. That wicked smile will stay with me always.

The bar was Napoleon’s Itch in the heart of the French Quarter in New Orleans. I’ve been back to that bar many times, but the young man with the sexy grin made an impression destined to spark my creative imagination in the form of Gavin Rossi.

Dutch Williamson’s smooth voice filtered through me, promises of smooth bourbon and sweet treats lingered as the words hit the pages. The handsome chef’s inspiration stood behind the bar at Yo Momma’s located right down the street from Marie Laveau’s Voodoo shop in the French Quarter. The dark, wood paneled bar served the best burgers in New Orleans along with tasty drinks and a bathroom guaranteed to make you blush. The pictures on the walls kept you returning to swoon over the sexy posters.

As you can see New Orleans sparked the rich atmosphere for Eye Candy. From tight bottoms shimming in skimpy shorts to decadent foods of all sorts, this new release is guaranteed to bring you some passionate inspiration too. It’s time to sit back and find out why sticky and sweet never tasted so good.

Leave your comment and email below to enter to win a free digital copy of Eye Candy! Three copies will be rewarded on Feb. 19th.

Blurb

Gavin Rossi is one sexy piece of Eye Candy wrapped in a tight body and sweet smile. With his goals on the horizon, he mounts a handsome stranger’s lap and rolls his hips for the tips he’s hoping will get him out of the desperate situation keeping his plans out of reach. The hot breath on his neck, the mesmerizing rhythm, the strong chest rising and falling beneath his hands make for a distraction he’s terrified to see play out. This is a dance. This is a tease. God, this is so much more.

When Dutch Williamson feels a set of perfectly sculpted thighs slipping over his lap, the last thing his liquor-hazed brain registers is this is my future. The sweet piece of Eye Candy grinding on his lap is going to cut him at the knees, and he knows it. Fierce protection grips his heart and his only hope is the passionate go-go boy will make this private dance last more than one night.

Giveaway

Stop by www.paulineallan.com between Feb. 17-19, 2017 to enter a drawing to win a Kindle Fire! The winner will be announced on Feb. 20th.

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About the author

619tizmkjbl-_ux250_Pauline lives in the Midwest with her hero husband, two handsome boys, one ornery cat, and a lovely Pitbull. She enjoys writing erotic romance for all readers. From MM contemporary romance series to LGBT fairytales, Pauline shares stories that she holds close to her heart. By day Pauline is a special care baby registered nurse and by night a hopeless romantic. She loves to travel to New Orleans twice a year to recharge her creative battery and enjoy a bag full of powdered sugar covered beignets. Sit down, relax and Laissez les bons temps rouler!

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