Hi guys! We have Amy Ainslin popping in today with the cover to her upcoming release Risking the Shot, there’s also a Goodreads giveaway so check out the post then enter the giveaway!❤️ ~Pixie~
Risking the Shot
Time for distractions? Hardly.
A chance at making the playoffs? It’s a dream for NHL forward Taylor Cunningham that just might come true. If he can keep his eyes on the ball—ahem, puck. And study for midterms. Dakota Cotton, eleven years his senior, isn’t just a distraction, though—he’s everything Tay’s ever wanted.
Dakota has no interest in introducing someone who might not stick around to his four-year-old son. Been there, done that, with the divorce to prove it. But there’s something about Tay that hits all of the right buttons and has him wanting to take a chance.
As things heat up between them, and the pressure to succeed hits an all-time high, will they risk a shot at happiness or choke?
Amy Aislin’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.
An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join herFacebook Group to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her onInstagramandTwitter, or sign up for her infrequent newsletterhere.
Enter the giveaway on Goodreads for a chance to win one of five signed copies of Risking the Shot. (Unites States and Canada only. (Sorry, international readers! Goodreads doesn’t allow for international giveaways).)
When she lands her dream job, Maya Scott thinks her luck may finally be about to change. Eager to prove herself a successful adult and win back custody of her young daughter, Maya is determined to excel at the Mars Fund. Her new boss, New York’s notorious ice queen, Elena Mars, could prove difficult to please. Their relationship gets off to a rocky start and Maya learns from her coworkers, some who love her while others loathe her, that Elena has Cerebral palsy.
Embarrassed by her assumptions, Maya avoids Elena until the appearance of her Elena’s young daughter at the office opens a line of communication and provides some common ground. A tentative connection blossoms between them and Maya realizes there is much more to Elena than the outward appearance. Between the complexities of learning about disability and navigating the distance between them in age and wealth, they find that what matters in the end is the family we choose.
Hot coffee soaked the sleeve of her shirt. The elevator was packed tight as they ascended the staggering height of the office building. The shining chrome of The Mars Fund sign greeted Maya. She stumbled into the lobby, finally catching her breath and then losing it again when she looked at the opulent marble clock on the wall. She was late.
Blonde hair billowing out behind her, she burst into the office space, cheeks beginning to flame as all the eyes in the room turned to her and her urgent entrance.
“Maya, you made it!” Margaret, the overly friendly lady with the pixie cut and cardigan who had interviewed her for the position, called to her.
“I am so sorry. The bus was late and there was a huge line for the elevator.”
Margaret was already waving off her explanation as she led her over to the desk she had inhabited the previous day, today being her second as a project coordinator at the Mars Fund.
“We’re all still working on the preliminaries for the winter benefit,” Margaret explained.
Maya nodded as she hurriedly stripped out of her leather jacket, grateful as ever for the relaxed dress code. She plopped down into her swivel chair, tight jeans and a thin black T-shirt clinging to her body. She rushed to turn on her computer.
“Miss Mars is back at work today.”
Maya looked up. She studied Margaret as she offered her a noticeably tentative smile with the words.
“It’s probably best if you just stay out of her way while you’re getting the hang of things. I imagine she’ll be busy in her office all day, anyway, catching up from yesterday.”
With a pat on her shoulder Margaret was gone before she could reply, and finally, she was free to take a breath and let some of the stress from her hectic journey to work leave her. She needed this job; she could not afford to mess up.
Once she’d logged into her computer, she went back to the list of attendees she’d received and continued to work on emailing each of them to inform them of the benefit event the Mars Fund was planning for late in the year.
“Glad to see you made it, love.” A male voice interrupted her, and she threw a quick smile to Kevin, her neighbor to the left, who seemed to be reclining in his chair doing very minimal work as he had done most of the day before. “Better watch yourself now, Scott. The evil old boss lady is back, and she’ll eat a pretty little thing like you all up, given half a chance.”
At first, she had been glad for Kevin, a seemingly instant friend, but as yesterday had worn on, and he leaned over toward her again, he was starting to irk her.
“Looks like you’re going to be on her hit list, too, if you don’t get back to work,” she told him.
Seeming to take the hint, he tipped his head in silent concurrence and turned back to his own screen.
Getting lost in a blur of names and emails, she tried not to think too much about her boss. The woman was a bitch—that was the impression she’d received from the moment she stepped foot in the building. In her interview Margaret had been sweet, a little nosy but warm and welcoming, yet even she had clammed up when talking about the elusive Miss Mars.
The mood yesterday was jovial. Kathryn had perched on the edge of her desk for a good half an hour, and Maya was surprised to find she liked her as well as Dave and Graham, who had both welcomed her to TMF too. Today, the atmosphere was positively somber in comparison. The office was silent save for Kathryn talking softly into her phone and the click of keyboards. The presence of their boss hovering ominously over them all was palpable.
Another hour bled away, and she was pleased with the progress she was making on her list. Clicking out of her email program and back to her spreadsheet, she scanned down until she reached the next name. Robert Holt. Her blood turned to ice in her veins, and without thinking, she closed the window and shot up out of her seat. Heading for the restroom, she tried unsuccessfully to steady her ragged breathing.
She burst through the door, let it swing closed behind her, and leaned back against the cool wood, shutting her eyes. Her heart was hammering, a frantic staccato she fought to get under control. I can’t let him ruin this for me, again.
The shock of seeing that name, of having it touch even this, taint it so soon, sent panic spilling through her, choking her and making it hard to breathe.
She opened her eyes at the sound of a toilet flushing and watched a woman step out of the stall. Jarred completely from her panic by the surprise of not being alone, her mood dissolved into a shy sort of embarrassment because this woman was gorgeous.
The stranger’s dark eyes nailed her to the door, and even glaring daggers in her direction, Maya couldn’t help but think she was beautiful and probably ten years older than herself. Thick mahogany hair hung down to her shoulders; she had smooth caramel skin and dark expressive eyes. A beat passed between them, too fast and too slow, and Maya pushed off the door, meaning to introduce herself. When the woman moved forward, her shoulders rocked back and forth, her hands clenched and jumped by her sides, and oddly enough she looked like she was dancing.
“I—um, having a good day?”
Not her greatest entrance, she could admit.
The woman’s stoic expression was completely at odds with the jovial movement of her body, and Maya smiled tentatively at her, wondering if perhaps she was drunk or high.
She gripped the porcelain of the sink with tan fingers and seemed to steady herself some. As she turned to fully face Maya her head bobbed slightly, sending her hair dancing around her face. She was undeniably beautiful and odd.
“Do I look like I’m having a wonderful day?”
The words were pure venom, dripping disdain, a dark fire blazing in her eyes, and all the levity left the room. Maya’s brain grappled to put together the pieces: the slight tremor in her frame, the occasional rock of her hips, and the way her fingers bounced lightly on the edge of the sink.
“Are you drunk?” And apparently today her brain to mouth filter was completely broken. Crap.
The woman advanced on her at an alarming pace, stiletto heels ringing out her steps, one, two, three, until Maya was back against the door and staring down one hundred and twenty pounds of furious Latina in a business suit.
“Do you need help?” She tried again weakly, still not grasping what was happening, still reeling from the name on the list and the turbulence of this rapidly spiraling encounter.
“What I need is for you to tell me who the hell you are?”
Maya swallowed thickly. The woman was close enough that her breath was soft on her cheek, and she definitely didn’t smell like she just came from the bar. Her perfume was light, pleasant, and smelled expensive.
“My name is Maya Scott. I’m a project coordinator for the Mars Fund… I—um, who are you?”
The woman sneered, and God, anything that terrifying should not also be that sexy. Her head still rocked every so often, her shoulders jumping occasionally, something slightly off in the way she spoke. Her eyes darkened as if irritated by her own movements.
“Elena Mars. I do believe I’m your boss, Miss Scott.”
Her stomach dropped into her shoes, and Maya wondered momentarily if she was about to pitch forward and puke all over Elena Mars’s expensive black patent Louboutins. She could not lose this job, and things were off to a less than wonderful start if this woman was her boss.
“I’m sorry, ma’am. I just—”
“Enough,” Elena snapped, silencing her.
Maya had never felt more underdressed, her messy blonde curls hanging over her shoulders and her plain black shirt wilting next to Elena’s perfectly tailored, crisp dress-and-blazer ensemble.
“I do not care who put you up to this.” The final word was slurred slightly as Elena’s mouth seemed to jerk sideways against her will. Even beneath her tan complexion, her cheeks colored slightly in response, and her eyes turned steely. “While you’re in my employ, you will respect me. Is that clear?”
The words had something oddly toneless to them, and she rocked on the spot as she spoke. Maya nodded frantically, desperate to apologize, to somehow find a way to explain.
“Return to your desk and have Margaret show you the employee bathroom. This one is mine, exclusively.”
“I’m so sorry. I just—”
“Leave.” Elena took one shaky step back, teetering on her heels so badly that Maya almost reached out to steady her. Thinking better of it, she turned and quickly yanked open the door. She rushed back out into the hallway and headed for the office, her cheeks burning, dread clawing at her throat.
She needed this job.
“So, you met the evil bitch then?” Kevin’s eyes were back on her before she had even sat down at her desk. “We did try to warn you, but you ran out of here so fast I suppose you didn’t hear. Too much coffee?”
She offered him a weak smile and then scrubbed her eyes with the heels of her hands, attempting to shake off the mortification shrouding her. Her heartbeat was loud in her ears, and she was busy trying to breathe, to breathe around and through and over Robert Holt and Elena Mars and all the ways she might have ruined this for herself before it could really even start.
“Don’t worry about it, love. She gets her kicks making us feel like shit. She’s probably in her office downing half a bottle of whiskey and watching those Spanish sitcoms while we’re all out here running the gig. Everyone knows she only has the job because Mommy owns the foundation.”
Maya opened her mouth, trying to assimilate the information into her already clamoring brain while formulating a way to politely ask what the hell the nationality of the sitcom had to do with anything when Margaret appeared.
“Kevin, that’s not true and you know it. Elena can be…difficult, but she works really hard for the foundation.”
“When she’s wasted.” He muttered the words under his breath, causing Margaret to tut and perch on Maya’s desk, blocking him from her view.
“Maya, Elena has a…medical problem, cerebral palsy. That’s why she sometimes makes strange gestures and odd movements and can’t seem to sit still. She’s not drunk, so please don’t listen to Kevin.”
Maya’s heart plummeted into her stomach, and she felt like such a fool.
“She is strict, and she can be difficult to work for, but I’ve worked with her for four years and known her much longer, and some of the events she’s pulled off and all the money she has raised, it’s amazing,” Margaret continued. “She’s helped an awful lot of kids.”
Pieces fell into place with a horrible click. No wonder Elena had been so defensive and seemed embarrassed, though Maya had no way of knowing she had a disability. She wished silently that Elena would simply have explained it, rather than reacting like she had, though her own ignorance and lack of thought before she spoke bothered her the most.
“I had no idea…”
Margaret patted her shoulder kindly.
“She’s very abrupt and can come off a little stern.” A scoff from Kevin punctuated the statement, and Margaret paused to glare over her shoulder at him before she turned back and offered Maya a reassuring smile. “Elena values people who work hard and add something to the foundation. Just continue to do your best and I’m sure you’ll have nothing to worry about.”
Even as her supervisor walked away, Maya struggled to find comfort in the words.
She reached behind her into her jacket pocket to pull out her phone. She hit the home button and lit up her lock screen. A little girl with long blonde curls and emerald-green eyes like her own smiled back at her.
She could do this. She needed this job, and she was not going to let Elena Mars take it from her.
L.E. Royal is a British born fiction writer, living in Texas. She enjoys dark but redeemable characters, and twisted themes. Though she is a fan of happy endings, she would describe most of her work as fractured romance. When she is not writing, she is pursuing her dreams with her multi-champion Arabian show horses, or hanging out with her wife at their small ranch/accidental cat sanctuary.
The beaches of Grand-Barachois had been Kat’s summer home for years. There, she created her own world with her “summer friends,” full of possibilities and free from expectation. But one summer, everything changed, and she ran from the life she’d created.
Now seventeen and on the brink of attending college, Kat is full of regret. She’s broken a friendship beyond repair, and she’s dated possibly the worst person in the world. Six months after their break-up, he still haunts her nightmares. Confused and scared, she returns to Grand-Barachois to sort out her feelings.
When she arrives, everything is different yet familiar. Some of her friends are right where she left them, while some are nowhere to be found. There are so many things they never got to do, so many words left unsaid.
And then there’s Tristan.
He wasn’t supposed to be there. He was just a guy from Kat’s youth orchestra days. When the two meet again, they become fast friends. Tristan has a few ideas to make this summer the best one yet. Together, they build a master list of all the things Kat and her friends wanted to do but never could. It’s finally time to live their wildest childhood dreams.
But the past won’t let Kat go. And while this may be a summer to remember, there’s so much she wants to forget.
“Not again,” I sighed, pulling the covers off me. Right at the top of the covers was a smattering of reddish-brown smears, prominent and angry.
I held my arm over my head and assessed the damage. The eczema that covered my inner arm burned bright against my pale, freckled skin. A few sores had broken, but no trace of blood. I lifted the other arm to check. The back of my hand was also flaring up, the knuckles bursting open.
“Goddamn,” I moaned, pressing my broken knuckle to my lips. Kissing wouldn’t make it better, but at least it was something. Months ago, my skin had been smooth and cold to the touch. Now, it was red, dry, and hot. All because one thing in my life had changed. Skin was so weird.
One big thing. But still. One thing.
I dragged myself out of bed and pulled the sheet off the mattress. This needed some serious stain removal. No dabs of water with a washcloth could save this mess.
I passed a brush through my hair, working out the knots, from the top of my head to the tips. I never brushed it back. I never put it up. Not anymore. The box of hair accessories stayed closed on the top of my dresser, the bows I’d collected over the years forgotten.
They had to go. But parting with them proved difficult. Every time I tried, I’d remember where they came from. Some were gifts, some were bought on significant days, some I’d worn on nights that held meaning. They all mattered to me in some capacity. Not enough for me to wear them without question, but enough that I’d hesitated whenever I tried to throw them in a donation bag.
The hair bows weren’t me. They used to be. I used to love vintage dresses and paper bag curls tied in a bow. Used to get all dressed up in blouses with lace and frills. It was my thing, the ultra-girly retro aesthetic. But since Christmas, wearing those clothes hadn’t given me the same joy it used to. The bows became young and kiddish, the clothes a caricature.
I was trapped between two versions of myself, and I didn’t know how to cross over from one to the next. I didn’t know how.
The bedroom door creaked open as I stepped into the hall, the smooth, painted wooden floorboards cool on my feet. Kay always left the stair window open, though nights were cold in Grand-Barachois. She said the air was good for us, and there was something refreshing about waking up in a chilled room.
The bathroom window had also been left open, and I went to it to lower the pane. Below, the water from the bay lapped on the beach. The cool air sifted into the small bathroom and hit my face. I pushed the pane down so it was only open a crack and moved to turn on the water at the tub.
I opened the cupboard below the sink, grabbed the box of baking soda, and shook some in, not bothering to measure the amount. When a small mound formed under the water, I considered that a success. Swishing my hand back and forth, I watched it dissolve and cloud the water.
This was my morning routine.
Somewhere in the midst of all this, I usually cried. It was hard to not, to let it all go. The love I’d had for him still lingered, but a hurt did too. An abandonment. And something else I couldn’t name yet, something that drove me to tears every day.
You need to move on.
My friend Gianna had told me that a few weeks ago, done with my pity party, with my lack of interest. Done trying to make me feel better. So, she snapped.
And who was I? What right did I have to be this upset, this…whatever? Gianna had had her heart broken three times. She had mastered the art of steeling herself, of being strong in the face of heartbreak. I was crying over a first love because I was naive enough to think we’d be together forever.
For the record, I never thought that.
I was crying because it hurt so much to be left the way Aaron had left me. Like I was nothing, and I didn’t matter. I was crying because he’d been nearly my first everything, and it had all happened the way he wanted it to. I was crying because…
Now, I was actually crying.
I slipped into the tub, holding my breath, as though that’d stop the tears. I splashed my face with water, rubbed it into my eyes. A melody hung in the air above me as I cried, the words repeating in my head over and over.
How did I end up here?
If you cried in the tub, were you really crying? Or was it water in your eyes? Or leftover soap on your hands making the tears well up?
If you cried in the tub, the water swallowed your tears. Like they were never there at all.
Abigail de Niverville is an author and composer based in Toronto, Canada. Born on the East Coast of Canada, Abigail draws inspiration from her experiences growing up there. When she’s not writing frantically, she also composes music and holds an M.Mus from the University of Toronto.
Hi guys! We have R.L. Merrill popping in today with the cover for her new release Summer of Hush, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic Amazon GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Mel~
Summer of Hush
(Summer of Hush 01)
Hush is back… and it’s about to get loud. After two years grieving the death of his best friend, Silas Franklin is back on the road with his metalcore band, Hush. With a new member, a brilliant new album, and a headlining spot on the last cross-country Warped Tour, life couldn’t be better—unless Silas could meet the intriguing music blogger known only as the Guru.
Silas has followed his blog for years and feels the Guru might be the only person who “gets” him. For years Krishnan Guruvayoor has reported on the metal scene as an anonymous blogger, and he’s just landed an internship on the Warped Tour as well as a potential position with a well-respected music magazine.
His best friend arranges for him to meet singer Silas Franklin—but only as Krish the Intern. Their chemistry is instant, and Krish is thrilled to get to know the man behind the music. The rock star and blogger quickly go from meet-cute to cuddle session, but secrets, overprotective bandmates, meddling media, and a terrible accident all conspire against them.
What happens when Baer spills his big secret about monsters and magic to a total stranger?
In Baer’s defense, he really thought Wiley was a lost brother.
This case of mistaken identity forces the cute artist to stay at the plantation house for his own protection while they search for a way to take down a witch.
He never should have gotten in Baer’s Jeep.
But in Wiley’s defense, Baer is really sexy. And funny. And so sweet. And did he mention sexy?
All his life he’d dreamed of superheroes and a life of action. He just never expected to find himself swept up into a world filled with monsters and goddesses.
Wiley will do anything to stay with this magical band of brothers and help them with their fight. He just wished he could be Baer’s soul mate.
Wild Warrior is the second book in the Weavers Circle series. It includes fast-paced action, running through Savannah, secrets, swimming pool fun, shapeshifting, an elephant, sexy times, lots of snakes, insecurity, three crazy old ladies, and magic!
There were about five people ahead of Baer in line—all of them staring at their phones or the shiny glass case of a tantalizing rainbow of doughnuts and pastries. Including the sexy blond Mini Cooper owner who was right in front of Baer in line. While Baer was a relatively average height of five ten, the blond was at least a delicate five seven or maybe five eight. The guy looked up from his phone as Baer stepped up behind him, and he flashed a nervous smile.
“Hey,” he greeted in a slightly husky voice and then flushed some more.
Yeah, this guy was all kinds of adorable.
“Mornin’,” Baer replied. “You ever been here before?”
The man shook his head, shoving his phone into his pocket. “No. It was recommended to me recently. When I woke up this morning, I just had to have doughnuts.” He gave a nervous little laugh. “I guess that’s the result of nonstop marketing at its best. It’s fall, so we’ve all gotta eat pumpkin-flavored everything for the next month.”
Blondie had the sexiest southern drawl. It wasn’t too thick. Probably a local, but he’d spent some time out of the area. Just enough to lose some of its natural thickness, but those lilting drawls still mesmerized Baer when he spoke, leaving him wondering how his lips and tongue wrapped around each vowel and consonant.
Good grief. He really did need to grab Grey for a boys’ night out in Savannah if he was going to start fantasizing about a nerdy twink’s mouth. Soul mates and forever sounded great, but it was clear that he needed to get laid. And what better time was there? Things were quiet. They weren’t running and fighting for their lives.
Pumpkin doughnuts and sex could do a growing boy good.
The bell hanging from the front door announced the arrival of another customer. Baer was about to ask the man’s name when the heavy scent of rotting flesh rolled through the room, overpowering the delicious miasma of frosting and fried dough.
He didn’t even need to turn around to know that behind him, pestilents had stepped into the bakery. It wasn’t enough that the alien race was attempting to steal the power of the earth to save their own dying planet while killing all Weavers in the process, but they had to interrupt his attempts at flirting as well? Just not cool.
Silently, Baer cursed himself and his luck. They’d all grown a little complacent over the past couple of months. They’d even started venturing away from the protection of the plantation without backup because the pestilents had stopped attacking.
Apparently they’d gathered enough numbers to make another go at the Weavers, and he’d not been paying enough attention to his surroundings to check to make sure there were no pestilents close. Instead of checking in with the animals in the area that there were no pestilents around, he’d let himself get distracted by big chestnut-brown eyes and a sweet smile.
Twisting around to glance over his shoulder, Baer swore under his breath to find a male and female pestilent standing in front of the door. Humans wouldn’t notice anything different about them, but Weavers could. The air wavered around them as if they radiated heat. And, of course, there was the godawful stench. Pestilents were not meant for this world, and their bodies started rotting from the moment they arrived. Their time in this place was limited, but what time they had was spent trying to kill the Weavers.
The pestilent woman wore a pair of ragged jeans, and her brown hair was pulled back in a tight ponytail, making her angular features seem that much sharper. A feral grin pulled across her thin lips when she spotted him. She lifted the shotgun in her hands to her shoulder and pointed it straight at his chest.
Baer sucked in a breath. Was she really going to open fire in a small building crowded with people? Everyone was going to be killed or injured. Not only one fucking Weaver.
Pivoting on the balls of his feet, Baer wrapped an arm around Blondie’s slender waist and dove over the closest table. A shocked yelp left the man’s lips, but he didn’t fight Baer as they tumbled to the floor. With his free hand, Baer grabbed the edge of the table, pulling it onto its side. They landed with the surprisingly thick wooden barrier at their backs just as the shotgun exploded in the room, slamming into the far side of the table and a scattering of chairs.
Jocelynn Drake and Rinda Elliott have teamed up to combine their evil genius to create intense gay romantic suspense stories that have car chases, shoot outs, explosions, scorching hot love scenes, and tender, tear-jerking moments. Their first joint books are in the Unbreakable Bonds series.
Hi guys! We have Dahlia Donovan stopping by today with the tour for her new release Poisoned Primrose, we have a great exclusive excerpt and a fantastic giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
(Motts Cold Case Mystery 01)
Meet Motts and the quirky cast of characters in her world. Poisoned Primrose is a quintessential cosy British mystery and an all-round fun story to throw yourself into.
Autistic, asexual, and almost forty, Pineapple “Motts” Mottley flees London with her cat and turtle to a quaint cottage in Cornwall. She craves the peace of life in a small village. The dead body buried in her garden isn’t quite what she had in mind, though.
Unable to resist her curiosity, she falls directly into a mess of trouble and runs head-first into the attractive detective inspector, Teo Herceg. She tries to balance her business with the investigation, but as the killer focuses on her, staying alive becomes trickier than advanced origami.
Will Motts survive the onslaught of murderously bad luck?
Can she solve the mystery before it all spins out of control and off a cliff?
At twenty-two years old, Rhett Hawkins lives a life full of secrets and lies. Nobody knows the truth about his childhood growing up in an abusive home, the eating disorder that threatens to take his life, the obsessive thoughts about death that play like a movie in the back of his mind, and the sexuality he hides.
Nobody until he meets Colt, that is.
Police Constable Colt Williams is the only person ever took the time to look past the lies and see Rhett for who he really is: a damaged, beautiful young man desperate for love and acceptance. When Colt steps in and tries to get him help, Rhett makes a choice that takes him further away from life than he’s ever been before.
With his world turned upside down and his secrets laid bare for all to see, Rhett realizes it’s only by facing death that he can learn what it truly means to be alive.
Rhett Hawkins knew them all by name and as he stood in front of the mirror naked, he counted the ones he could see poking through his pale skin.
Count the clavicles.
One and two were there. He reached up and touched them both reverently, his eyes tracing the outline of the twin curves underneath his skin. Rhett loved how graceful they looked in the reflection of the bathroom mirror. If he had to pick a favorite bone, it would be the clavicle. His eyes got stuck on a small bruised mark on the right one and he was captured there for a few seconds staring at it. It shouldn’t be there anymore, yet it was. He was marked. Branded on the outside to mimic the inside where he carried the wounds on his heart he’d caused all on his own.
Count the ribs.
A knock on the bathroom door jolted him out of his ritual and he frowned. The knock was followed by a jiggle of the locked doorknob and he called out to his roommate letting him know he was inside still.
“Did you get lost in the shower or something?”
“Just getting out,” he responded, as a shiver raced through his body. Rhett briefly wondered if he was getting sick. He seemed to be shivering a lot more than he usually did even though it was winter outside. Dylan kept the townhouse warm enough that they could walk around in shorts and be comfortable when it was freezing out but for some reason the heat wasn’t warming him like it used to.
Footsteps moved away from the bathroom door and he turned his eyes back to the mirror, noticing for not the first time the darkened circles his eyes seemed to sink into. He was definitely getting sick. Maybe Dylan had picked up some bug from work and spread it to him, or maybe someone at the art studio gave him the gift of bacteria during class. Rhett briefly considered jotting down a reminder to make a doctor appointment before he gazed down at his body again.
Count the ribs.
One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. He tapped each one with a fingertip as he counted in his head until he reached the seventh pair. Rhett frowned as he dug his fingers into his skin, searching for pair seven. He pinched the flesh between his fingers as his frown deepened. Below pair six, the rest of the ribs were hidden under a layer of fat that made him sick to his stomach. No matter what he did, those stubborn ribs never seemed to appear. His gut bucked and heaved though it was empty, the handful of carrot sticks he’d eaten at the reception having long been removed from his system. Rhett huffed a disappointed sigh as he gazed further down his body at the bruises on his hips.
He bruised easier than he really should. The outlines of his lover’s hands were present in his flesh even though he hadn’t been with the man in four days. Maybe that was a sign of whatever sickness he had. Rhett nodded in agreement at himself in the mirror as another loud knock broke his concentration again. “Jesus, Dylan,” he mumbled, “I’ll be out soon.”
This time, Dylan’s voice smacked of concern. “Rhett, are you okay?”
“I’m fine, Dyl, I’ll be done soon. Just shaving.”
“Can we talk about tonight when you’re done?”
He shivered, though he didn’t know if it was because he was cold or because he knew what Dylan wanted to talk about. “Can we leave it alone right now? Please?” Rhett knew if he begged, Dylan would drop the conversation. He always did; it was one of the reasons Rhett still talked to him. Dylan wouldn’t pry and ask questions where he shouldn’t be sticking his nose. There was a pause outside the door followed by a small noise that sounded like agreement as his body relaxed. He didn’t want to unpack everything that had happened at the wedding reception because then he’d have to tell the truth and the mere thought of doing that was like bile on his lips.
Rhett grimaced as he gazed toward the door, waiting for the footsteps to meander away as they had before, but he heard no movement. Please don’t let this be the one time Dylan pestered and prodded for answers. He had none to offer.
“I just think maybe we need to talk?”
Fuck. He hadn’t gone away.
They didn’t need to talk. The day had started off well enough but had devolved into the usual shitshow he’d come to expect of his family. On the ride home, he had realized Dylan’s reaction wasn’t the same as his own response. His roommate had been shaken to the core by the words his mother had spat at him, but he just felt numb.
When had he gotten used to her?
“I told you my mother is different.”
“You said different, not batshit.”
“Rhett, you know that’s not normal, right?”
He paused, weighing his words carefully before finally answering. “It is for me.”
A silence outside the door made a small thrill of hope that the conversation was over lace down his spine. Thirty-three vertebrae. He’d count them last.
Count the bones.
Rhett swung his eyes back to the mirror, goose bumps pimpling his flesh. He was turning blue from the cold but couldn’t put clothes on. Not yet. He had to count. As Dylan talked outside the door, his voice faded into the background.
Two hip bones.
Count the ribs.
He always got stuck on the ribs no matter how much he tried to forge forward with his examination of his body. If he could just see them all, he knew he’d feel better. He’d be better. Dylan continued mumbling outside the door and he was growing annoyed with the chatter behind the lock.
Count the ribs.
Deep breath. Find the seventh pair. Dig fingers in. Jab. There they were.
Rhett’s head spun as he shivered in front of the mirror. His knees knocked together as his body quaked from the effort of standing for too long. How long had it been? It felt like hours.
Count the knees.
“Rhett, I’m getting really worried. You’re not even talking to me anymore.”
Count the bones.
Rhett’s impatience grew. He needed to finish this so he could be warm and get some sleep. He was so tired, his body shivering and shaking as he stood in front of the mirror wondering what it would take to get Dylan to go away so he could be done.
No. Not the truth. He couldn’t explain that the person he’d been spending so much time with wasn’t a girl. That he’d met him at the club, his devilish gray eyes promising freedom and comfort unlike any he’d ever known until he’d wrecked it all. That he was the very word his mother had hurled at him during her tirade of abuse.
Born and raised in the wild prairies of Alberta, Canada, B. Rourke grew up knowing she was meant to tell stories. It wasn’t until much later that she realized those stories were meant to star beautifully flawed men learning who they are, overcoming obstacles, and falling truly, madly and deeply in love. B has a soft spot for outspoken misfits, weirdos who crack inappropriately hilarious jokes, and loners who enjoy silence above all else, and firmly believes that everyone deserves their happily ever after.
It should have been a perfect night out. Instead, Mark and Donald collide with tragedy when they leave their favorite night spot. That dark October night, three gay-bashers emerge from the gloom, armed with slurs, fists, and an aluminum baseball bat.
The hate crime leaves Donald lost and alone, clinging to the memory of the only man he ever loved. He is haunted, both literally and figuratively, by Mark and what might have been. Trapped in a limbo offering no closure, Donald can’t immediately accept the salvation his new neighbor, Walter, offers. Walter’s kindness and patience are qualities his sixteen-year-old nephew, Justin, understands well. Walter provides the only sense of family the boy’s ever known. But Justin holds a dark secret that threatens to tear Donald and Walter apart before their love even has a chance to blossom.
The night had turned cold while they were in the Brig, one of Chicago’s oldest and most infamous leather establishments. A strong wind out of the north had blown away the cloud cover that allowed the city of Chicago to retain a little Indian summer heat this late October night. With the wind, the temperature had plunged nearly twenty degrees, from a relatively balmy sixty-two, down to the low forties. But the wind had also revealed a sprinkling of stars, visible even with the ambient light from downtown. And the moon had emerged, almost full, lending a silvery cast to North Clark Street.
Donald wrapped his arms around Mark as they headed south on Clark, toward the side street where they had left their car. Even with his chaps, biker jacket, and boots, Donald felt the chill bite into him, vicious. He couldn’t imagine how Mark was faring, wearing only a T-shirt and jeans. He’d get his boy into leather one of these days! It was just past three a.m., and the far north side neighborhood called Andersonville, once the province of Swedes and working class folk, and now the home of yuppies and gays, was quiet. A lone taxi headed north up Clark, looking for fares. Someone even unsteadier on his feet came out of the adult bookstore ahead of them, blinking rapidly, and looking around, perhaps for more excitement than he had found in the bookstore. Donald thought that, once upon a time, he could have been the sad, singular man emerging from an adult bookstore while the rest of the world slept, but things had changed since he had met Mark six months ago.
“I feel almost—almost—like we’re the only two people on earth,” Donald said to Mark, drawing him in close for a sloppy, beery kiss. When he pulled his mouth away, he flashed the crooked grin he knew entranced his boyfriend and completed the thought with, “And that’s fine by me.”
Mark grinned back, then rubbed his upper arms. “It’s not fine by me. Not when it’s this frickin’ cold! Let’s get home!”
They wrapped their arms around each other to ward off the cold, much as they had done the night they met, back in March, in the same leather bar. And once again, they were just a bit boozy and flushed with need for each other. Tonight, the weather outside may not have been as frigidly cold as it had been last winter when they had first laid eyes upon one another, but the heat and electricity passing between them was still burning as brightly as that very first night.
Donald stopped again in the middle of the sidewalk, pulling Mark close and planting a kiss on his cheek. There was no one around, and in this neighborhood, such displays really were nothing to worry about, Donald thought. Hell, most anyone they encountered would either be sympathetic or jealous. He nipped at Mark’s earlobe and whispered, “I love you, you know that?” He paused to breathe in Mark’s scent and to nuzzle his nose in Mark’s blond curls.
And Mark stopped, right there in the middle of Clark Street, on an early Sunday morning, and placed his hands on Donald’s shoulders, so he would stop walking and so he could look right back into Mark’s penetrating stare. “And I love you, Donald.” He gave a small grin and looked down at the ground for just a second, almost as if he was embarrassed, and then said, “And I always will. This is a forever thing.”
Donald felt a rush of warmth go through him at the exact same moment a harsh wind, full of chill and with the smell of dark water, glided east from over Lake Michigan. He pulled Mark close and kissed him full on the mouth, his tongue lifting Mark’s and doing a little duel with it. Neither of them closed their eyes, preferring instead to stare into each other’s rapt gazes. Just as they were breaking apart, they stiffened as the roar of a souped-up engine shattered the still of the night. The backfire issuing forth from the car’s muffler made both men jump. They gave each other a quick glance, then laughed.
The car, an old maroon Duster that had been tricked out beyond good sense, taste, or fiscal responsibility, slowed across from the pair. Three shadowy figures moved inside. One of them rolled down a window, and a young male face, pale and marred by acne in the moon’s light, emerged making a kissing sound, exaggerated and prolonged. Donald heard the other guys in the car laughing. He stiffened and felt a trickle of sweat roll into the small of his back, in spite of the chill in the air.
Just as suddenly as they had arrived, they roared off, leaving them in a wake of sour-smelling exhaust. But they did not leave without casting a parting shot out the window. “Fucking faggots!”
Donald shook his head, glancing over at Mark, whose young face was creased with worry. “Don’t let shit like that get to you. They’re idiots. And chickenshits… It’s pretty easy to call names at people from a speeding car.”
Rick R. Reed is an award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction. He is a Lambda Literary Award finalist. Entertainment Weekly has described his work as “heartrending and sensitive.” Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” Find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA, with his husband, Bruce, and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix, Kodi.
Elsenna Hazen left spaceport security and ended up a royal bodyguard. She should have known better than to fall in love with a princess.
It’s been two years since one ill-advised kiss in the garden pulled them apart. With uprisings in the streets, the nervous princess transfers Elsenna back into her service. Her Highness has no idea Elsenna is leaking data to the revolutionaries bent on overthrowing the princess’s oppressive father.
Now Elsenna wakes up each day wondering what will happen first: her own execution, or that of the woman she could never stop loving. When rebel attacks escalate and the king plans retaliation, Elsenna discovers that the fights for her love and her life are one and the same.
It had been difficult that morning to fit treason in around my duties as vice-captain of the castle complex’s security forces. Every professional conversation had taken twice as long as it should have. When His Majesty, the Most Victorious Born on the 24th Day of Winter, the King of Iospary, was finally overthrown for corruption and tyranny, I would not miss the part of my job where incompetent colleagues argued with me.
Of course I wouldn’t miss it because I’d be dead. With so much blood on my hands since the last change in rulers, I had no illusions. My acts of sedition over the last two years wouldn’t save my soul, let alone my head. Not after serving this king for so long.
By the time I won the latest personnel allotment struggle with my overly promoted counterpart in spaceport security, it was almost the middle of the day. I took a short walk outside. Anyone who saw me found somewhere else to be—a common reaction to the combination of my height and my uniform—so I had privacy to drop the latest data packet to the rebels. I used the comm behind my ear to access a secure channel I could only hope stayed that way. While the packet uploaded, I found a terrace where I could look down at the city. The apartment blocks were overcrowded, the hospitals neglected. Businesses paid extortionate taxes to fund the lavish lifestyles of the king and his favorites. Hopefully not for much longer.
Data sent, I returned to the security center, crowded with surveillance screens and too many desks for the small room, and settled down to work.
“Vice-Captain Hazen,” one of the guards said from behind me. “You have a call.”
“I’ll call them back.” Whoever it was, my patience for bullshit had run out, and the duty roster for this week needed finalizing.
“Ma’am,” the guard said again, nervous this time. “It’s the princess. She asked for you specifically.”
The security center went silent around me. Her Highness, the Most Glorious Born on the 13th Day of Spring, the Crown Princess of Iospary, did not personally call the security center. She had staff for making calls, and assigned bodyguards as well.
I’d been one of them once.
Lest anyone think I was hesitating, I transferred the call to my comm. “Your Highness, this is the vice-captain on duty. What may we do for you?”
“Hello, Elsen—Vice-Captain. Are you free for a short conversation? I hope I’m not interrupting anything crucial. I know you have many more responsibilities now.”
I’d thought to go the rest of my days without hearing that voice again. I was grateful I’d learned long ago not to show my emotions on my face. I couldn’t imagine what would be there now. Two guards near the door had gotten up, ready to move in case of an emergency. I signaled for them to stand down.
“Your Highness,” I replied. “Of course.”
“I wish to ask a favor of you, if I may,” the princess began. Then she paused so long I began to wonder if she was making this call in secret, and someone had walked into the room. Or maybe things were this awkward between us after more than two years with no direct contact. “I have heard rumors of disturbances. I hoped you might provide a briefing. In person.”
I needed a deep breath. I tried to take it silently. Here she was, speaking with me for the first time since our long-ago night in the garden, and she wanted news about the movement to bring her father down.
Not that I would want it to be a personal call. The further apart I kept memories of her from my current activities, the better. During my sleepless nights, I already struggled to avoid imagining what might befall her when the end came. That the rebels would distinguish her innocence from her father’s guilt was unlikely; the chance I would be in any position to change that even smaller.
“Your Highness,” I said once I’d composed myself. “I would be happy to arrange for the appropriate royal advisor—”
“No,” she interrupted, polite but firm. “Thank you, but I would prefer to hear from you. If you…would be so kind.”
All three guards were watching me now, curious.
“Immediately, Your Highness.”
She made a soft noise of disagreement, a sound so familiar, but one I hadn’t heard in what felt like a lifetime. “At your convenience. I have no plans outside my rooms until this evening. Please call when you’re on your way.”
“Yes, Your Highness.”
The call disconnected.
I stared down at my screen again, though the schedule I’d been preparing was now a blur. When those around me concluded they’d get no further entertainment, the regular sounds of the security center picked up again: chairs squeaking, guards talking with others in the castle or stationed around the sprawling royal complex, an occasional cough or frustrated mutter.
The king’s staff could advise his daughter in a way he’d find palatable. Surely the princess would have been steered in that direction if she’d expressed misgivings to her own people about whatever she’d overheard. There was no reason for her to call the security center—to call her former bodyguard—directly.
Unless she was in trouble.
The last time I’d seen her, in a corner of the Fall Gardens after her birthday dance, I’d let my heart get the better of me. I’d held her. Kissed her. Would have done more if not for the chasm between her station and mine.
I put away the unfinished guard duty schedule, stood, and pulled on my jacket.
“Vice-Captain,” Mbala said. “We have a vehicle fire in one of the garages near the outer wall. Fire suppressors are malfunctioning. A truck is on its way, but it’s drawing a crowd.”
I wished I could believe this was one of his practical jokes, but not with how this day had been going so far. “Have Proce take a team over.” My fellow vice-captain could stand to get his hands dirty for a change, even if he was off-shift.
“He’s across the river on a personal errand.”
Damn. We were stretched too thin for me to delegate this. I thought about letting the whole thing burn, but that would draw the wrong kind of attention. “I’m on it.”
If the princess was in trouble, hopefully it wouldn’t get worse over the next few hours.
Skye started writing fiction in elementary school on a Smith Corona electric typewriter because that’s all people had back in the early 1980s. She didn’t realize she wanted to read and write romance until much later, when it finally dawned on her that she adored X-Men comics for the soap opera aspect as much as for the superpowers.
Now she writes queer romance, both contemporary and science fiction, that is mostly F/F and F/M with queer main characters. Her work is sometimes polyam and usually at least a bit geeky. After all, she does some of her writing in her local comic book shop.
She is bi, and she currently lives in Austin, Texas because of all the libraries and breakfast tacos.
Hi guys! We have Jules Radcliffe stopping by today with her new release Pirate Master, we have a brilliant guest post, a great excerpt and a fantastic $10 Amazon GC giveaway, so guys check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Mel~
(Pirates of Port Royal 03)
A strait-laced lieutenant. A free-living pirate. A hopeless love.
Quinn has never met a man quite like Perry. Stern and cold on the outside, burning up inside with secret passion. Yearning for a mastery only Quinn can satisfy. But Perry is no outcast—he’s a respectable officer in His Majesty’s navy. Reluctant to test his love for a pirate, Quinn baulks at asking him to give up everything he holds dear.
Though he has no regrets about their night of glorious sin, Perry sees no future with Quinn. Unlike the pirates of Port Royal, he isn’t free to love where he pleases. If word of his illicit affair came to the ears of Commodore Pobjoy, his career would be at an end. And the disgrace might mean he could never return home to England.
With war on the horizon, the Caribbean is a hotbed of intrigue. Quinn is betrayed and thrown into Monte Gris, an impregnable dungeon even the fearsome Brethren of the Coast aren’t strong enough to breach. Perry is stunned. Everything he valued is hollow and meaningless without his master.
Willing to risk all to get Quinn back, he refuses to abandon hope and plots a daring and dangerous rescue. But he can’t do it alone. He’ll need every scrap of ingenuity at his disposal to persuade the Black Wolf and the crew of the Audacious that his plan will work.
This time, it’s not just Perry’s career and reputation at stake. If he fails, men will die. And both he and Quinn will suffer a gruesome fate at the hands of a terrifying acolyte of the Spanish Inquisition.
Warnings: Rape and torture of a MC off screen, murder of minor characters
Hi peeps! We have M.D. Grimm visiting today with the tour for her new release Healing Lance, we have a great exclusive excerpt and a brilliant $10 Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
(Warrior’s Redemption 01)
A baby’s laughter.
A mind uncaged.
Lance is known as Scourge, the warrior in the black armor, the dog of the warlord Ulfr Blackwolf. He was just a boy when Ulfr found him and molded him into the perfect weapon. He slaughters and pillages on command, merciless and numb, devoid of emotions. Then a baby girl laughs at him during a raid.
And everything changes.
When Gust, a talented healer, is out deer hunting and stumbles across a magnificent horse bearing a mortally wounded rider, he has no idea that his life is about to change forever. Gust applies all his skills to his patient, determined to save the rider’s life, and is rewarded when the man opens his eyes.
As friendship, and more, bloom between warrior and healer, so does the danger over the horizon. Ulfr has not forgotten, and Lance must take his first steps on the long road to redemption.
Hi guys! We have Richard May popping in today with the cover to his upcoming release Gay All Year. so check out the post and enjoy! ❤️ ~Pixie~
Gay All Year
Twelve optimistic MM stories, one for every month of the year.
How do men meet? Each story is connected to a holiday or event—Epiphany, Valentine’s Day, Pi Day, Arbor Day, Mothers’ Day, Fathers’ Day, summer vacation, a rodeo, Labor Day, Columbus Day, Thanksgiving, and Hanukkah—but may not be quite the celebration you’re expecting.
Neither may the men, and when these men meet, attraction does not always equal love—at least immediately—but chemistry finds a way.
Warning: racial prejudice, infidelity, puppy play, death of a partner, racist language and stereotypes
Release date: 17th August 2020
.•.•.**❣️ NineStar ❣️**.•.•.
Richard May’s short fiction has been published in his collections Inhuman Beings: Monsters, Myths, and Science Fiction and Ginger Snaps: Photos & Stories (with photographer David Sweet) and numerous anthologies and literary periodicals. Rick also organizes two book readings at San Francisco bookstores, the Word Week annual literary festival, and the online book club Reading Queer Authors Lost to AIDS. He lives in San Francisco.
Hi guys! We have Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood stopping by today with their new release Too Close to the Flame, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $25 Amazon GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
Too Close to the Flame
Ryan Taylor & Joshua Harwood
Can he ever learn to trust again?
Brandon Weber’s old boyfriend almost beat him to death. Brandon survived, but still bears the emotional scars. Eighteen months later, he has withdrawn into himself, convinced he’ll never be able to trust another man.
Devin Macadam, fresh out of law school, has an exciting new job. He is also on the lookout for just the right guy, someone to take care of and love.
When Devin shows up for the first day of work at his new office, he meets Brandon, a legal assistant there. Sparks fly, but Brandon is paralyzed by fear and isn’t about to give another man the power to hurt him again. Devin, never one to give up easily, doesn’t want to take no for an answer. Both men feel the magic, but can their relationship ever get past the friend zone?
Too Close to the Flame is a dark-to-light, sweet romance featuring out and proud gay men, lots of feels, steamy love scenes, and a wonderful happy ending. The book is approximately 86,000 words and has X-Ray enabled for your reading pleasure.
Trigger Warning: Too Close to the Flame contains specific memories of physical abuse.
Hiya peeps! We have Angel Martinez stopping by today with the tour for her new release A Fine Mess, we have a brilliant interview with Shax, a great excerpt, a fantastic $25 Mischief Corner Books GC giveaway and we also have Shorty’s review, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Mel~
A Fine Mess
Beware the demon prince who’s sick and tired of running.
Federico Duomo is dead, to begin with. But this is only the first bit of Shax’s problems resolved. Powerful crime lords and an obscenely wealthy oligarch are still determined to destroy him and his crew, and Fluffy’s original owner may be coming after the Brimstone now, too. It would be splendid to be able to take on one thing at a time.
Adding to the external conflicts, life on board the Brimstone has only grown increasingly stranger. Shax has no idea what to do with the seven partly human children that Heckle rescued from slavers. Heckle himself has grown short-tempered, even with Mac. Someone from Julian’s past catches up to them on Barbary. It’s enough to put a demon off his cinnamon buns.
Shax isn’t panicking, though. In fact he’s had it up to his handsome royal nose with the people he loves having to live in constant fear. The fox has turned at bay and the Brimstone’s enemies are in for a shock. The demon prince of thieves is coming for them.
Hi guys! We have Matthew J. Metzger stopping by today with his new release Supernova Soul, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Mel~
(Roche Limit 02)
Matthew J. Metzger
The Swift is gone.
Weeks after the catastrophic power failure that triggered the evacuation in the first place, the ship has powered up and taken flight, abandoning its jettisoned escape pods deep in uncharted space. Stranded with dwindling supplies and no way of calling for help, Hélène LeFebvre needs a plan. Or at least somewhere to bury the dead.
Hélène isn’t a people person at the best of times, and trying to build a new comms array on a hostile alien moon is definitely not the best of times. Her only help is a nurse who won’t stop praying, a pilot whose attitude adjustment could take several centuries, three maintenance crew gambling with coffee beans to pass the time, a homicidal cook, and a medical officer convinced that the unseen monsters that stalk their pods at night are there for him personally.
All too aware they’re running out of time, Hélène doesn’t have time for their flaws, or to examine her own. She can’t afford to be human if she’s going to save them.
But perhaps she needs to remember she’s human in order to save herself.
Warning: discussions of homophobia and transphobia, misgendering, a depiction of past child abuse, off-page suicides, and the deaths of side characters
Hi guys! We have Damian Serbu stopping by today with his new release The Buchmann Family Secret, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Mel~
The Buchmann Family Secret
Jaret Bachmann travels with his family to his beloved grandfather’s funeral with a heavy heart and, more troubling, premonitions of something evil lurking at the Bachmann ancestral home. But no one believes that he sees ghosts.
Grappling with his sexuality, a ghost that wants him out of the way, and the loss of his grandfather, Jaret must protect his family and come to terms with powers hidden deep withinghosts himself.
Warning: graphic violence, homophobic language, mentions of past murders
Hi guys! We have Lou Sylvre & Anne Barwell popping in today with their new release The Harp and the Sea, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC Giveaway! ❤️ ~Mel~
The Harp and the Sea
Lou Sylvre & Anne Barwell
In 1605, Robbie Elliot—a Reiver and musician from the Scottish borders—nearly went to the gallows. The Witch of the Hermitage saved him with a ruse, but weeks later, she cursed him to an ethereal existence in the sea. He has seven chances to come alive, come ashore, and find true love. For over a century, Robbie’s been lost to that magic; six times love has failed. When he washes ashore on the Isle of Skye in 1745, he’s arrived at his last chance at love, his last chance at life.
Highland warrior Ian MacDonald came to Skye for loyalty and rebellion. He’s lost once at love, and stands as an outsider in his own clan. When Ian’s uncle and laird sends him to lonely Skye to hide and protect treasure meant for Bonnie Prince Charlie’s coffers, he resigns himself to a solitary life—his only companion the eternal sea. Lonely doldrums transform into romance and mystery when the tide brings beautiful Robbie Elliot and his broken harp ashore.
A curse dogs them, enemies hunt them, and war looms over their lives. Robbie and Ian will fight with love, will, and the sword. But without the help of magic and ancient gods, will it be enough to win them a future together?
Jeanne G’Fellers has a new queer historical dark fantasy/magical realism book out: “Striking Balance.” And there’s a giveaway!
An Appalachian Elementals Historical Dark Fantasy Side Tale.
Benjamin Schnell is the possessor of secrets he wishes he could bury beneath the rich Nolichucky river flat dirt he farms alongside his dear friend, Conall. But secrets lead to lies, lead to more secrets, and all eventually come home to roost in a bed of distrust, even on the 1779 Appalachian frontier.
After Ben is injured, he realizes there are odd things happening around him that others cannot see. Corner shadows take human shapes, lightning bugs dance in broad daylight, and the farm’s strange owner, Master Gow, returns with an offer Conall cannot refuse if Ben is to live. But making a deal with Master Gow will take them deep into the mountains to where a haunted king reigns and Fire balances Water in a delicate natural friendship.
Ben must learn self-acceptance and trust if he and Conall are going to survive because there can be no secrets in the mountains, only truth.
Another rich tale from the Appalachian Elementals world focusing on complex families containing rich LGBTQIA+ characters.
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47132/?
Ten Questions With Jeanne G’Fellers, Author of Striking Balance 776 Words
Can you tell us some about Striking Balance?
First off, thanks for having me. I appreciate the opportunity to share my work on your site. Striking Balance is the personal journey of Beatrice Benjamin Sophia Scott Schnell Gow. The tale is best described as magic realism meets the American Revolution meets the Appalachian frontier. Ben’s deepest secrets lead to lies, lead to more secrets, and all eventually come home to roost in a bed of distrust in a world where Fire and Water maintain a careful friendship and haunted kings reign. Striking Balance is late 18th Century Appalachian Dark Fantasy. It’s set very close to where I live, but in a place that seems far away.
What literary pilgrimages have you gone on to write this novel?
Not many, really. I’ve actually only gone as far as a side road along the base of Embreeville Mountain for this series as a whole. Boring, I know, but there it is. Fact is, my stories are either set in the distant future in far-off worlds or very close to home. One requires looking at the sky, some astronomy websites, and my imagination, while the other is my everyday world with some added magic. Or, in the case of Striking Balance, a good bit of local history thrown in with that magic.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Writing both energizes and exhausts me, but let me explain. It energizes me in that I get so excited about my characters and their escapades, but then it exhausts me because I don’t want to quit writing. I so lack a stop button that I’ve actually asked my spouse to tell me when it’s time to put things away and go to bed. It’s quite a problem truth be known.
What is a common trap for aspiring writers?
I don’t have time to write. Yes, you do. Five minutes. A poem. A haiku. Journal. Bullet list ideas. It doesn’t need polish. You don’t have to share it unless you want to. Just. Write.
Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
It hurts. Hurts. HURTS. It hurts writers because they forget where they came from and that their words have true power over their readers. Case in point… Rowling’s present dirty dishwater spew of hate. Enough said.
Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Yep. Reader’s block plagues me anymore. Okay, perhaps it’s not truly a block, but I get on tangents. Major tangents. I’ve been on a history and folk medicine tangent since I began researching Striking Balance and I can’t seem to shake it.
Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Nope. And I’ve been asked this before. If I’m going to write it, I’m putting my name on it or why write it at all? That doesn’t mean I’m knocking those who do write under pseudonyms, but it simply isn’t for me at this point.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I write mainly for myself. I write the stories I’d like to read. I write what’s swimming around in my head and won’t leave except via the keyboard. Some readers love it, some don’t, but my work is always original from beginning to end. Striking Balance might be the most original of all my works because I’ve had to set this story within the framework of existing history.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
If I could tell… Hey, Jeanne? That idiot student teacher who’s going to criticize your poetry senior year? Ignore him because he’s jealous. That’s right. Jealous. You’ve got talent he wishes he had. You’re never going to see him again after fall semester so his words are meaningless. Hug your poetry notebook tighter and put it somewhere for safekeeping after you graduate, maybe with Mom, until the coast is clear. It’ll take a while, but by the time you’re in your early thirties, you’ll wish you’d saved it.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Believe it or not, aside from my current work in progress, none. I’m not one to half-finish works. I never have been. I’ve completed and published every single novel I’ve written. (winces and grimaces) I probably jinxed myself by saying that, but it’s true.
Thanks letting me drop by today to talk writing and my new release, Striking Balance. It’s history, fey, magic, and queer acceptance pressed into your choice of print or ebook formats, a world at your fingertips. I hope y’all enjoy, and thanks again for your time.
I open my eyes to whitewashed walls and sunlight streaming through large open windows covered by gauzy curtains. This is a quiet space reminiscent of my youth. The window is wide to the afternoon air, my pillow is soft, my bed comfortable with sweetgrass, and I rest beneath the lightest of patchworks. And my shirt ‘tis cotton. Heaven. Yes, I am certain I have reached the hereafter. Perhaps I can see Mutti again and—
“Get back here ye’ fool!” I turn my head in time to see Alexandria pause before a window. Her face is flushed, and her hands are in fists at her sides. “Get back here wit’ mah pie!”
“Come get it, you flightless baggage!”
My thoughts of Heaven erode when Alexandria launches into a long line of Scots-Gaelic curses of the likes I have not heard since I left the mine. This is not the Alexandria I know and respect, not the voice of a proper lady at all. She hisses as she threatens to cut off his twiddle-diddles with her kitchen knife, cook them in the pottage, and feed them back to him.
“Return Lexy’s hard work, boy.” This is Master Gow’s voice, but ‘tis also not, higher in tone but equally powerful, and I wonder if he has a sister. “And the crust best not be broke!”
“But… ow!” I am unable to see what occurs next, but a man crosses in front of the window with a pie in his hands and something or someone I cannot see is dragging him. “Ow! King Dane, please! I am sorry, Lexy, real sorry!”
King? This woman who I suspect is related to Master Gow is named King Dane? Whatever… My cough returns, deep and fluidic, but ‘tis clearly not to be my death so I look for something to spit into.
“There’s a bucket of sawdust at your bedside, Benjamin.” Master Gow’s sister speaks from just outside the window. “I’ll be there shortly to talk with you.” Her voice turns away. “Go cut two days of wood for the main kitchen,” she tells the man who is still apologizing to Alexandria.
“But I got hides to scrape and…”
“Do it! Then scrape them hides.”
“Ow! Yes, King Dane.”
I crawl deep beneath my quilt when their voices fade. Where am I? At this point, I have no clue, but I believe I am alive. The table beside my bed is laden with bottles, jars, a fleam and cup, but there is also a mug so I sit up, examining the contents, water, before I drink.
I startle when the door to the apartment swings open. “Ah brought ye soup an’ tea.” Ceardach deposits a tray onto my lap. There’s also buttered bread on the tray, along with bacon, eggs, and a bowl of beans.
“Thank ye, but I need to…”
“Of course.” Ceardach pulls the tray away. “Th’ pot’s under th’ bed.”
I hesitate, but my need is too great so I swallow my pride, thankful when he moves to stand in the doorway with his back to me.
“Ye need tae drink more.” Ceardach returns to my side when I am abed and pushes the pot under the bed after he examines the contents. “An’ ye best get over bein’ bashful right quick. Someone will use it against ye.” He drops the tray onto my lap, “Eat.” pulls his pipe and pouch and begins filling the bowl, watching as I take up my spoon. The food has most certainly been made under Alexandria’s watch. I can tell by the seasonings, and… I am nearing famished.
“Slow an’ steady. Let one bite settle afore th’ next.” Ceardach lights his pipe so quickly I see nothing but a flash. The outside din continually grows while I eat, but Ceardach pays it no heed. I hear hammers striking anvils, a proliferation of swearing, wood being split and stacked, the sounds of a wider community. The smells coming through the door would be enough to turn my stomach if I was not so hungry. Baking bread, multiple privies, wood, ash, dirt, burning wood, herbs, and… I smell iron and sulfur, but none of it quells my appetite to the point I cease eating.
“Am I in a town?” I shovel more into my mouth.
“Of sorts. Ye will grow accustomed tae it all.” Ceardach blows out a billow of white smoke that rings his head then drifts away. “Yer cough an’ congestion will fade in time.”
I nod and bite into my bread. My appetite must be part of my recovery, a drive for nourishment so I might heal quickly. There is another bed I have ignored until now, unmade, with blankets folded neatly at the foot. “Where am I?”
“In the kingdom.” He points to my water. “Drink.”
I am obedient, but he tells me to empty the mug before he will speak further. “Good, now—” Ceardach raises his head. “Ah, here’s yer answer.”
I attempt to sort through all I see, but ‘tis difficult. Is this Master Gow or—
“Stop gawkin’. ‘Twill get you slapped ‘round here.”
“If not hit or cut,” adds Ceardach. “Sit, Dane. Ah will step out but stay close.”
“Aye, Ceardach, thank you.”
I see a woman’s face, a man’s work cap atop her head. “You’re still under my protection. That hasn’t changed, but the rest…” She wears trousers and a calf-length smith’s apron over a man’s red check work shirt with rolled sleeves. “You’re starin’ even longer than Conall did.” She pulls a tobacco twist from her apron pocket and bites off a piece. “Are you as tongue-tied too?”
“I…” This woman bears the same tattows as Master Gow. “No, sir, I mean, miss, I mean…”
“You’ll address me as King Dane ‘til I tell you elsewise.” My spit bucket slides across the floor to her feet. “How will you address me?”
“Say it, Benjamin.” She spits into the bucket. “‘Tis important you know my station ‘round here.”
“Yes, King Dane.” But this is a woman. How does she warrant the title of king?
“And you never disobey your king, right, Benjamin?”
“Yes… King Dane?”
“Smart man. ‘Tis why I chose you, but I made Conall in the process, an excellent deal I am pleased we could accommodate.” King Dane seems amused by my gaping mouth. “Calm yourself. I hear your heart poundin’ from here.”
Born and raised in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Science Fiction and Fantasy author Jeanne G’Fellers’ early memories include watching the original Star Trek series with their father and reading the books their librarian mother brought home. Jeanne’s writing influences include Anne McCaffrey, Ursula K. LeGuin, Octavia Butler, Isaac Asimov, and Frank Herbert.
Jeanne lives in Northeast Tennessee with their spouse and five crazy felines. Their home is tucked against a small woodland where they regularly see deer, turkeys, raccoons, and experience the magic of the natural world.
Hi guys! We have Mell Eight popping in today with her new release Dragon Dilemma, we have a great excerpt and a fantastic $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
(Supernatural Consultant 03)
Dane hasn’t spoken with his mother in years and he’s never met his father. But somehow his mother finds out about Mercury and the kits anyway, and it’s difficult to throw one’s mother out when she happens to be a powerful, dangerous witch.
She isn’t the only uninvited guest, and the others are even less likely to take no for an answer—and much more likely to leave everyone dead if they don’t get what they want.
Hi guys, we have Rick R. Reed popping in today with his new release The Man From Milwaukee, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
The Man From Milwaukee
Rick R. Reed
It’s the summer of 1991 and serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer has been arrested. His monstrous crimes inspire dread around the globe. But not so much for Emory Hughes, a closeted young man in Chicago who sees in the cannibal killer a kindred spirit, someone who fights against the dark side of his own nature, as Emory does. He reaches out to Dahmer in prison via letters.
The letters become an escape—from Emory’s mother dying from AIDS, from his uncaring sister, from his dead-end job in downtown Chicago, but most of all, from his own self-hatred.
Dahmer isn’t Emory’s only lifeline as he begins a tentative relationship with Tyler Kay. He falls for him and, just like Dahmer, wonders how he can get Tyler to stay. Emory’s desire for love leads him to confront his own grip on reality. For Tyler, the threat of the mild-mannered Emory seems inconsequential, but not taking the threat seriously is at his own peril.
Can Emory discover the roots of his own madness before it’s too late and he finds himself following in the footsteps of the man from Milwaukee?
Warning: Deceased family member, kidnapping, violence/gore, attempted murder, death of a parent