Hi peeps! We have J. Scott Coatsworth visiting today with the tour for his brand new RE-release The Stark Divide, we have a brilliant unique excerpt, a fantastic $25 Amazon GC, & a signed paperback set of his Oberon Cycle trilogy giveaway and my review, so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
The Stark Divide
(Liminal Sky: Ariadne Cycle Trilogy 01)
J. Scott Coatsworth
Some stories are epic.
The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.
Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.
From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.
Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.
Jasper Warren is a happy-go-lucky young man in spite of the tragedy that’s marred his life. He’s on a road to nowhere with his roommate, Lacy, whom he adores, and a dead-end retail job in Chicago.
And then everything changes in a single night. Though Jasper doesn’t know it, his road is going somewhere after all. This time when tragedy strikes, it brings with it Lacy’s older, wealthy, sexy uncle Rob. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, an immediate connection forms between the two men.
But the secrets between them test their attraction. Will their revelations destroy the bloom of new love… or encourage it to grow?
“Hey! I don’t think you should go through that,” Rob said, barely audible because he didn’t want his fear to show. He sucked in a breath and clutched his suitcase close to him, as though it were a child—or a flotation device. Or a boy he loved and didn’t want to lose…
The water spread out on the road under the overpass like a black mirror. It could have been a few inches deep or a few feet. From just a visual, there was no way to gauge how deep it was. No person with any sense would drive into it.
His Uber driver, a sallow-complexioned man in his forties wearing a black baseball cap, gave out a low whistle. “We’ll be okay,” he said cheerfully, with a confidence Rob simply didn’t have. “Just sit back and let me worry. We’ll be fine.”
Rob wished he had the nerve to speak up, to command, “No! Don’t! Just turn around.” After all, this driver was putting them both in danger. But he felt like protesting would make him seem insane or, at the very least, silly. So what’s worse, he wondered, seeming crazy or drowning? He cursed himself for the ridiculous lengths he went to so as to avoid confrontation.
A thunderclap as loud as an explosion sounded then, and Rob swore the black Lincoln Continental shuddered under its vibration. Lightning turned the dark, cloud-choked dawn skies bright white for an instant, as though day had peeked in, seen the weather, and then ducked back out.
“This baby can get through it,” the driver said, giving the car a little more gas.
Rob tightened his lips to a single line and furrowed his brows as his driver set off into the small lake stretching out before them. As the driver moved completely under the overpass, the drumming sound of the rain on the roof suddenly ceased, and the silence was like the intake of a breath.
“C’mon, c’mon,” the driver urged almost under his breath as he sallied farther into the water, giving the car more gas.
Even before the engine started to whine in protest, Rob knew they were in trouble by the way the water parted to admit the Lincoln. Waves sloshed by on either side.
Rob thought again he should speak up—like maybe to suggest that the driver could attempt to back up—but held his tongue. The guy was a professional, right? He knew what he was doing.
They’d be okay.
And the driver continued, deeper and deeper into the water standing so treacherously beneath the overpass.
The engine made a lowing sound, like a cow’s moo, as the flood rose up the sides of the vehicle.
Rob gasped as brackish, foul-smelling water covered his loafered feet, pouring in through the small spaces around the doors.
The driver eyed him in the rearview mirror. There was a defeat in his voice as he said, “You better open your door and get out while you can.”
Rob wondered, for only a moment, why he would want to. Then it struck him with the adrenaline-fueled clarity born of panic that if he didn’t open his door now, he might never get another chance. The rising water and its pressure would make it impossible to open the door.
If it wasn’t already too late…
Rob leaned over and pressed against the door. The engine stalled at that moment, and his driver reached for his own door handle up front.
For a brief moment that caused his heart to drum fast, Rob feared his door wouldn’t open. He slid over and leaned against it with his shoulder pressed against the black leather, grunting.
The door held and then suddenly gave way.
Granted access, water rushed into the vehicle. The icy current rose up, covering his ankles and his calves. It was almost over his knees when he managed to slide from the Lincoln.
Outside the car, he stood. The water rose up almost to his neck. He felt nothing, only a kind of numbness and wonder. His driver was already sloshing forward toward the pearly light at the other side of the overpass. He didn’t give Rob so much as a backward glance.
Rob started moving against the water, wondering what might be swimming in it.
Thunder grumbled and then cracked again. The lightning flared, brilliant white, once more. And the rain poured down even harder.
He looked back for a moment at the Lincoln Continental, thinking about his TUMI bag on the seat. There was no hope for that now!
He slogged through the water and progressed steadily forward, feeling like a refugee in some third-world country, bound for freedom. In his head he heard the swell of inspirational music.
After what seemed like an hour, but was really only about five minutes, Rob reached dry land at the end of the overpass, where the entrance ramp veered upward toward the highway. Cars whizzed by, sending up sprays of water, the motorists oblivious.
His driver eyed him but said nothing. He was out of breath.
Rob stood in the rain and remembered his iPhone in the front pocket of his khakis. He pulled it out, thinking to call for help. But when he pressed the Home button, the screen briefly illuminated and then blinked out, the picture of an ocean wave crashing toward the shore first skewing weirdly, then vanishing.
“Shit,” he whispered and then replaced the phone in his soaking-wet pants pocket.
He needn’t have worried about calling for help, however, because it seemed the universe had done it for him. On the other side of the overpass, a fire truck, lights on but no siren, pulled up to the water’s edge. Then two police cruisers. And finally, surprisingly, a news van with a satellite antenna on top brought up the rear.
The rest was kind of a blur. Through a bullhorn, one of the firemen advised them to come back toward them but to use the median instead of slogging through the flood. The concrete divider was only a few inches above the sloshing water.
Somehow, Rob and his driver managed a tightrope walk across the lake the underpass had become, balancing on the concrete divider.
When they reached the other side, one of the newscasters, a guy in a red rain slicker, stuck a microphone in his face and asked him to tell him what happened. Was he afraid? Stunned, Rob shook his head and moved toward the cop cars. Behind him, he could hear the driver talking to the reporter.
At the first police car, a uniformed officer got out from behind the steering wheel. She shut the door behind her and held a hand above the bill of her cap to further shield her from the rain. She was young, maybe midtwenties, with short black hair and a stout and sturdy build.
“You okay, sir?”
Rob nodded. “Yeah, I guess.” He smiled. “Didn’t expect a swim this early in the morning.”
The officer didn’t laugh. “Where were you headed? We might be able to take you, or at the very least, we can summon a taxi for you.”
And Rob opened his mouth to say, “To the airport” and then shut it again.
One thought stood out in his head. I could have drowned. He looked toward the Lincoln, which was filled now with water up to the middle of the windshield.
“Sir? You need us to get you somewhere?”
Rob debated, thinking of a young man, perhaps out in this same rain, getting almost as drenched as he was. He opened his mouth again to speak, unsure of how he could or should answer her question.
What he said now could very well determine the course of the rest of his life.
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.
Hi guys, we have Rick R. Reed popping in today with his new re-release Bigger Love, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
(Big Love 02)
Rick R. Reed
Truman Reid is Summitville High’s most out-and-proud senior. He can’t wait to take his fierce, uncompromising self away from his small Ohio River hometown, where he’s suffered more than his share of bullying. He’s looking forward to bright lights and a big city. Maybe he’ll be the first ever genderfluid star to win an Academy Award. But all that changes on the first day of school when he locks eyes with the most gorgeous hunk he’s ever seen.
Mike Stewart, big, dark-haired, and with the most amazing blue eyes, is new to town. He’s quiet, manly, and has the sexy air of a lost soul. It’s almost love at first sight for Truman. He thinks that love could deepen when Mike becomes part of the stage crew for Harvey, the senior class play Truman’s directing. But is Mike even gay? And how will it work when Truman’s mother is falling for Mike’s dad?
Plus Truman, never the norm, makes a daring and controversial choice for the production that has the whole town up in arms.
See how it all plays out on a stage of love, laughter, tears, and sticking up for one’s essential self…
Hi guys, we have Rick R. Reed popping in today with his new re-release Hungry for Love, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
Hungry For Love
Rick R. Reed
Nate Tippie and Brandon Wilde are gay, single, and hoping to meet that special man, even though fate has not yet delivered him to their doorstep.
Nate’s sister, Hannah, and her kooky BFF, Marilyn, are poised to help fate with that task by creating a profile on the gay dating site, OpenHeartOpenMind. They are only exploring, but when a face and body are needed for the created persona, they use Nate as the model.
When Brandon comes across the false profile, he falls for the guy he sees online. Keeping up the charade, Hannah begins corresponding with him, posing as Nate.
However, real complications begin when Brandon wants to meet Nate, who doesn’t know he’s being used in the online dating ruse. Hannah and Marilyn concoct another story and send Nate out to let the guy down gently. But when Nate and Brandon meet, they feel an instant and powerful pull toward each other. Cupid seems to have shot his bow, but how do Nate and Brandon climb out from under a mountain of deceit without letting go of their chance at love?
As the first-born son of a royal duke and cousin to the prince, Cathal has always put his duty to family and country first, even when it conflicts with his own wishes. When Cathal’s father arranges a marriage between him and Velia, cousin to the emperor of Ardunn, without consulting him, he sees no alternative but to go along with his plans for the good of Tournai. But it’s Velia’s companion, Flavia, who fascinates Cathal from the moment he first sets eyes on her. Cathal doesn’t know Flavia is really Flavian, an artist masquerading as a woman to escape Ardunn, a restrictive and repressive place where Flavian’s preference for men is forbidden.
Even when Cathal discovers Flavian’s identity, even as he struggles with his obligations and duty, he cannot fight his attraction to the sharp-tongued artist. Flavian is intrigued by him as well, but Cathal is still betrothed to Velia, and Flavian worries he is more taken with the feminine illusion Flavian presents than the man beneath it. He came to Tournai to start a new life—a safe one—as an artist, and an inconvenient attraction to his friend’s betrothed, a man who happens to be a member of the royal family, is not a part of his plans. While both men battle their longings for each other, spies from Ardunn infiltrate the capital, attempting to uncover Tournai’s weaknesses and secrets. They are also searching for Flavian, who possesses a magical Talent giving him the ability to see the truth of a person just by painting their portrait—something that would be invaluable to Ardunn’s emperor.
Cathal managed to keep his surprise hidden with some difficulty. That blunt statement was not what he’d expected when he received the summons to his father’s office. A discussion of family business, perhaps, or questions about happenings at the palace, even a diatribe about one of his cousin’s choices—since Father seemed to hate every one of them since the prince’s marriage to Amory—was what usually precipitated a call to Father’s presence.
He’d never imagined Father would bring up marriage. Cathal had seen no indication Father was even thinking in such a direction. Father had said plenty as he’d pushed the prince to marry, and plenty more when Philip had married a man of his choosing instead of the woman Father would have chosen, but he’d never said a word about his own sons’ need to marry.
Cathal probably shouldn’t have been so surprised. He was twenty-five years old and his father’s heir, and Father was a royal duke and dynastically minded. Producing an heir for the dukedom was Cathal’s duty, despite the existence of his younger brothers. He’d always known it, and he would never think of shirking that duty.
“Yes, Father.” He wasn’t interested in anyone in particular, but there were plenty of women who would make him a suitable wife in Father’s eyes. He was certain he could find someone who wouldn’t make the duty a chore. “I will begin looking for a wife immediately.”
“No need. It’s all arranged.” Father returned his attention to the papers on his desk, as if what he’d just said was of no particular consequence. As if he hadn’t just told Cathal his entire life was about to change and taken Cathal’s last bit of choice away at the same time.
Cathal snapped his mouth shut when he realized it was hanging open. “It is?”
Of course it was. Cathal should have expected that as well. Father would never leave such an important choice—a family alliance, a mother for future dukes—up to Cathal. He should have done so, or at least he should have asked for Cathal’s opinion. Cathal was of age and had proven himself trustworthy time and again, or he thought he had. It left a sour taste in his mouth to think Father respected him so little.
“May I ask whom I will be marrying?” He immediately regretted his tone as Father arched a single brow.
When Cathal didn’t jump to apologize quickly enough, Father let out a huff that expressed his disappointment more eloquently than a hundred words would have, but he answered anyway. “She’s a cousin of the emperor of Ardunn. Velia is her name. Beautiful, by all accounts, and accomplished, but the connections are the important part.”
Cathal hardly heard anything after Ardunn. Cousin to the emperor of Ardunn? What was Father thinking? And how had he even managed it?
Father looked up again, and this time his huff held more than a little annoyance. “Why are you staring at me that way?”
Cathal didn’t know how he was looking at his father. Usually he had more control, but incredulity seemed to have obliterated it. “Ardunn, Father? I don’t understand. Why—?”
“Don’t be stupid. If your cousin isn’t going to do his duty and marry for the good of this country, then it falls to you to take up where Prince Philip failed.”
And that statement made even less sense. “But, Father, you negotiated a marriage contract with the emperor of Ardunn. Does Philip know?”
His cousin couldn’t know. Cathal had damaged their relationship and weakened the trust Philip had in him—he knew and regretted it—but Philip wasn’t vindictive enough to keep something so big from Cathal, especially considering the prince’s hatred of arranged marriages. Though how a prince came by such a view, Cathal would never know. Nevertheless, Philip would have said something, which meant Father had been negotiating with someone in Ardunn without Philip’s knowledge or consent.
Father scoffed. “He’ll know soon enough.”
“But, Father, negotiating with Ardunn…what did you—?”
“Are you questioning my ability to negotiate a marriage for my son?” Father snapped.
“No, sir.” Just the prudence of doing so with a powerful foreign emperor without the knowledge of their own ruler. “But—”
“This is the marriage your cousin should have negotiated for himself, but since he wouldn’t do his duty, we have to do it for him. For the good of Tournai and this family.”
“No more.” Father slapped a hand down on the wooden surface of the desk. “It’s done, and when she arrives next month, you will marry this woman. We’re finished discussing it.”
Cathal gritted his teeth against further protests and gave a sharp nod.
A few moments later, dismissed by his father, Cathal dragged in a lungful of crisp air. Spring was taking hold, but the mornings were still cool. At the moment, he was thankful for the gulp of bracing air.
That had been unexpected.
He shook his head and strode down the steps into the garden. The home where Cathal had grown up was probably the largest in the city. Constructed generations ago of pale-gray stone, the house had three stories surrounding the inner courtyard and the garden it contained. He’d played in the garden as a child with his brothers and cousin, chasing each other, hiding among the statuary and bushes. As he grew older, he’d come here when he needed a moment of peace. These days, he spent most of his time at the palace, and the garden was the domain of his mother and younger sisters, who often sat on the benches near the central fountain to do their needlework.
He didn’t linger, couldn’t have if he wanted to. Cathal couldn’t even go up to the palace and inform Philip of the betrothal, because he was due at the port to inspect improvements to the harbor defenses. Taking the most direct route from Father’s office to the front of the house, he strode through the garden and ducked inside again and then made for the entrance hall without slowing.
His sister’s melodic laugh and the quiet murmur of his mother’s voice floated back to him. Smiling, he stepped from the corridor into the grand room. His mother and sister stood at the polished table in the center of the large room. At his first step onto the red marble floor, both women looked up from where they were arranging early spring flowers in a large vase. Identical smiles of welcome lit their faces. His youngest sister looked remarkably like Mother, though Meriall was just fourteen. She was the only one of them to inherit Mother’s golden-brown hair and not Father’s much darker locks.
Each time he saw Meriall, he was surprised at how grown up she was becoming. It seemed just yesterday she was trailing after their brother Etan and getting into scrapes and jumping on her brothers whenever she saw them. Now she was a young lady. The oldest of his three younger sisters was married, and his second sister was nearly seventeen. Cathal might have expected, if he’d thought of the subject at all, Father to be negotiating a marriage for Ottilie, not for himself.
Meriall and Mother were still smiling at him, and they left off fussing with the flowers and greenery as he approached. When she was younger, Meriall would have flung herself at him. She’d learned more appropriate behavior since then, but a part of him missed her enthusiasm. Then again, she would probably still throw herself at Etan. They’d always been closer.
“Cathal.” Mother held out her hands to him and tilted her head for his kiss to her cheek. “I didn’t know you were here.”
He brushed a kiss over Meriall’s cheek as well. “Father wanted to meet with me.”
Because he was watching, he saw the flash of concern in Mother’s warm-brown eyes. Did she know her husband’s plans for Cathal? “Is everything all right?”
No, he didn’t think she knew. He doubted Father would have consulted her anyway. He flicked his glance at his sister, wondering if he should speak in front of her, but everyone would know soon enough. “Father wants me to marry.”
Mother blinked, once, twice, the only sign of surprise in a serene face. “I didn’t realize, but you are getting to be of an age to. There are many lovely girls you could meet and consider. Perhaps we can have a party and invite some of them.”
“Actually, Father has it all arranged already.”
“Oh. Well.” Mother fussed with the flowers before dropping her hands to smooth her skirt. “I didn’t realize you and your father had chosen someone. I wish you’d told me.” The statement wasn’t much of a rebuke, not the way she said it, but from his gentle mother, it was still censure.
“I wish he’d told me.” He bit back impatience. His ignorance of Father’s actions wasn’t Mother’s doing. “I only just found out myself, Mother. She arrives in a month. I assume we’ll all meet her then.”
“Arrives? From where? Who is she?”
He didn’t blame Mother for her bewilderment. “Father says her name is Velia. I only know she’s a cousin to the emperor of Ardunn.”
“The emperor? Does His Highness know?” Mother had been the wife of a royal duke for nearly thirty years. She could see the implications as well as he could.
“It doesn’t appear so.” He glanced from Mother, who was admirably controlling her surprise and concern, to Meriall and her avid, undisguised curiosity. Well, he shouldn’t be talking about Philip’s lack of knowledge of Father’s actions anyway. “You’ll have to ask Father for more information. I don’t know anything else.”
Mother frowned. “Will you tell your cousin?”
“I can’t now. I’m due at the port, and I may be tied up there for most of the day.” And he didn’t want to put this information in a note. Still, someone needed to tell Philip, and Cathal wasn’t sure when Father would. “I’ll tell him when I return to the palace later.”
She nodded. “I’ll speak with your father. We’ll see you soon?”
“Of course.” He took his leave of his mother and sister and strode out through the large front doors into the morning sunlight again. A servant appeared immediately with his horse. He mounted up and guided the horse out through the imposing gate, open in anticipation of his departure. He needed to hurry if he was going to be on time for his appointment, and he refused to be late. He would sort out the rest afterward, including informing the prince.
Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.
She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.
Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.
On the run from his former allies in 1943, Janos Nagy’s life is turned upside down when he stumbles through a mysterious doorway and finds himself in the hands of the Temporal Research Institute, a covert organization that verifies historical events through time travel.
The year, he is told, is 2041. Wounded, exhausted, and helpless, he’s in a time he doesn’t know and a world that has changed beyond his wildest imagination. Dieter Schmidt, one of the TRI linguists and historians, offers his aid in making sense of this strange new existence.
But Janos’s arrival has broken the TRI’s prime rule of non-interference. It’s not long until someone in the TRI decides that if the rule can be broken once…well, why not break it again?
Chapter One The heavy rain had lightened, which was a small mercy.
The moonlight, thin and sickly, barely broke through the clouds. The trees shone a dull grey in the darkness. Only the rustle of leaves in the wind and the cries of some small creatures out in the darkness broke the silence.
A soldier broke cover from beneath the undergrowth. He stumbled and slithered down a muddy slope towards the track. Grass and dirt tore beneath his boots, and he caught himself against the trunk of a tree to keep from falling, his breath coming in ragged gasps.
In the distance, he was sure he could hear the howl of the dogs, the hunting party. He gulped down a breath before running onward.
He was armed, it was true, but what was one shot against a legion of men? He could turn it on himself, but he had escaped death once. He had no wish to face it again.
Though rough and little used, the narrow track was easier than breaching the undergrowth again. He had to get as far ahead as he could. They wouldn’t continue the hunt much longer, not with the chill of night setting in, but they might follow just long enough.
So he ran.
His legs shook with each step, but terror drove him onward. If he stopped, even to catch his breath, he didn’t think he would be able to start again. If he stopped, he would die. If he rested, he would die. If he did anything but run, he would die.
Something howled in the night, and his heart slammed against his ribs.
It might have been a dog, but it could have been a wolf.
The wind was picking up, whirling around him, the icy rain lashing his face cut through with scalding tears on his cheeks. Running and weeping. No honor. No dignity. All he knew was that he wanted to live.
Ahead of him, the track broadened, which meant it was coming closer to civilization, to people.
He hesitated a moment before plunging off the path and back into the forest, branches whipping at his face and limbs. His foot caught on a root, and he fell, rolling down the slope. He crashed into a stream at the bottom, breaking through a film of ice and plunging into the frigid water below. The cold it cut to the bone, so sharp he couldn’t even draw breath to cry out.
Blindly, he tried to find purchase on the bank. He fell forward heavily onto the ground, a thin keen of pain escaping him as he crushed his left arm beneath him. Warmth spread from the limb. The wound was open again.
“Ángele Dei,” he whispered desperately, “qui custos es mei, me, tib…”
A shout cut him off.
Lights glowed, flickering lanterns visible, like fireflies between the trees.
He pushed himself onto his knees, keening in pain, and grabbed at the low branches of a tree to pull himself upright. Splinters of bark cut into his skin, fresh blood warm on his hands. His legs were numb with cold and pain, but he ran.
The bitter wind cut into his throat and chest. He pushed deeper into the thicker, denser undergrowth—somewhere to hide, somewhere safe, somewhere unseen. Thorns tore at his face and hand, and he tasted blood in his mouth.
He was scrambling over a fallen tree trunk when it gave way beneath him. His ankle folded under him, and he yelped, falling onto his knee. It was only when he fell that he saw the hollow beneath the fallen tree. A hiding place.
Breathing hard, he squirmed through the gap, the tree and ground tearing at him, at his clothing. It was a small space, tight and narrow, but enough to shield him. He pushed dirt up to block the opening, his nose and mouth full of the taste of moss and mud, and lay still and silent as the grave.
C.B. Lewis has been making up nonsense since she was able to talk. Now, she puts it into computers and turns it into books. She is chuffed to bits to officially be yet another one of the collective of authors from Edinburgh.
That’s what Duncan Taylor’s sister, Scout, tells him. Scout has everything Duncan wants―a happy life with a wonderful husband. Now that Seattle has made gay marriage legal, Duncan knows he can have the same thing. But when he proposes to his boyfriend Tucker, he doesn’t get the answer he hoped for. Tucker’s refusal is another misstep in a long line of failed romances. Despairing, Duncan thinks of all the loving unions in his life―and how every one of them is straight. Maybe he could be happy, if not sexually compatible, with a woman. When zany, gay-man-loving Marilyn Samples waltzes into his life, he thinks he may have found his answer.
Determined to settle, Duncan forgets his sister’s wisdom about love and begins planning a wedding with Marilyn. But life throws Duncan a curveball. When he meets wedding planner Peter Dalrymple, unexpected sparks ignite. Neither man knows how long he can resist his powerful attraction to the other. For sure, there’s a wedding in the future. But whose?
Same-sex marriage had just become legal in Washington State, and Duncan Taylor didn’t plan on wasting any time. He had been dating Tucker McBride for more than three years, and ever since the possibility of marriage had become more than just a pipe dream, it was all Duncan could think of. He thought of it as he gazed out the windows of his houseboat on Lake Union on days both sunny and gray (since it was late autumn, there were a lot more of the latter); he thought of it as he stood before his classroom of fourth graders at Cascade Elementary School. He thought of it when he woke up in the morning and before he fell asleep at night.
For Duncan, marriage was the peak, the happy ending, the icing on the cake, the culmination of one’s heart’s desire, a commitment of a lifetime, the joining of two souls. For Duncan, it was landing among the stars.
And for Duncan, who would turn thirty-eight on his next birthday, it was also something he had never dared dream would be possible for him.
Now, too excited to sleep, he was thinking about it—hard—once again. It was just past midnight on December 6, 2012, and the local TV news had preempted its regular programming to take viewers live to Seattle City Hall, where couples were forming a serpentine line to be among the first in the state to be issued their marriage licenses—couples who had also for far too long believed this right would be one they would never be afforded. Many clung close together to ward off the chill, but Duncan knew their reasons for canoodling went far deeper than that.
The mood, in spite of the darkness pressing in all around, was festive. There was a group serenading the couples in line, singing “Going to the Chapel.” Champagne corks popped in the background. Laughter.
Duncan couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he watched all the male-male and female-female couples in the line, their moods of jubilation, of love, of triumph, traveling through to him even here on his houseboat only a couple of miles north of downtown. Duncan wiped tears from his eyes as he saw not only the couples but also all the supporters, city workers, and volunteers who had crowded together outside city hall to wish the new couples well, to share in the happiness of the historic moment.
And then Duncan couldn’t help it; he fell into all-out blubbering as the first couple to get their license emerged from city hall. Eighty-five-year-old Pete-e Petersen and her partner and soon-to-be-wife, Jane Abbott Lighty, were all smiles when a reporter asked them how they felt.
“We waited a long time. We’ve been together thirty-five years never thinking we’d get a legal marriage. Now I feel so joyous I can’t hardly stand it,” Pete-e said.
It was such a special moment, and it was all Duncan could do not to pick up the phone and call Tucker and casually say something like, “Hey honey, you want to get married?”
But he knew he had to wait even if patience was a virtue Duncan had in short supply. On Sunday, when the first marriages would take place, he planned on bringing Tucker to their favorite restaurant, an unpretentious little joint on Capitol Hill called Olympia Pizza. There, amid the darkened and—for them—romantic interior with the smells of garlic, basil, and tomato sauce surrounding them, Duncan would propose, saying something clever like:
“I’m thinking about changing my Facebook relationship status to ‘engaged.’ Would you mind?”
In his mind, Tucker would chuckle and then rub at the tuft of blond hair that grew from his chin, regarding Duncan with his dark-blue eyes. Duncan could see the flicker of the candle lighting up his man’s features as he held the silence for a few moments, building the suspense. Then he would say something like, “I think I’ll change mine too.”
That would be one way it could play out—very twenty-first century.
Duncan would then imagine all his friends and family congratulating the newly minted fiancés with “Likes” and words of encouragement and shared happiness. Maybe he could get their waiter to take a picture of them, holding hands over a sausage and mushroom pie, right after the moment when they went from two guys dating to two guys anticipating…marriage.
Duncan found himself wiping yet another tear from his eye. Sunday was going to be perfect.
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.
Blurb: The truth is rarely seen on the surface, and getting to it might mean digging deep….
After a devastating accident and a long stay in the hospital, the last thing petroleum engineer Sean Wilkinson wants to deal with is the settlement the oil company tries to force on him. He’ll never be able to work in his field again, his education is all but useless, and his surgeons are pessimistic about whether he’ll ever walk again. He needs someone in his corner, but most lawyers take one look at his tattoo-covered father and turn their backs. It’s just Sean’s luck that the one attorney willing to give him a chance is also the hottest guy he’s ever seen.
As a trial lawyer, Nate Delany has a lot to prove—to his father, the world, and himself. Sean intrigues Nate, and he struggles to reconcile the gifted tattoo artist he can’t stop fantasizing about with the quiet, brilliant engineer. His investigation reveals facts left out of the accident report—including an illicit affair, greedy coworkers, and a vicious corporation that will do anything to protect its bottom line. When Sean’s life is threatened, winning Sean’s case, and his heart, becomes a lot more dangerous.
Review: An intriguing read about Sean and how he copes after an accident leaves him in a wheel chair battling the company he worked for over a settlement. In steps Nate Delaney to negotiate the terms of the settlement.
These two men are not without their struggles in life but they grow closer amid a wide variety of suspicious things going on around them. I found both characters to be interesting. I liked the way they interacted with each other and others.
This story will draw you in and not let go until the very end. I enjoyed this story and it’s characters. Well written with the right amount of mystery and romance.
Blurb: ICraig Rosen thinks he’s pretty happy with his quiet geeky life working in a lab in London and playing Warhammer. But one of his colleagues has other ideas and drags Craig along to an audition at the amateur dramatic society, the Sarky Players, for their Christmas pantomime, Aladdin. Meeting Jason Carter makes Craig think that maybe he’s not as content as he thought.
Jason accepted he’s gay a little later in life than most, but now with an ex-wife and in his late thirties, he’s ready to embrace who he really is. He can’t believe his luck when he meets Craig, and the cute younger man’s patience and gentleness make him the perfect guy to help Jason navigate his new life.
While there’s no denying the attraction between them, it’s not just Jason’s insecurities that might upset their best performance. Craig is convinced that someone as confident as Jason, a corporate lawyer who looks sexy in a suit, could never settle for a man like him. Together they will need to re-write the script to give themselves the happy ending they deserve.
Review: Rebecca Cohen’s series, Treading the Boards, is as fun as the pantomime and plays that amateur theatre group the Sarky Players thrive on so much. While these books may be read as standalones, I do like that we do get to catch up with the previous characters so it would be good to read the previous installments.
In He’s Behind You we get the story of Craig Rosen and Jason Carter. Craig is a post-doctoral research at medical research labs somewhere in London. He’s a quirky guy, who has known who he is for a long time; including the fact that he loves the role playing game, Warhammer. Jason is a corporate lawyer who got married at the age of seventeen after getting his girlfriend pregnant. Now at the ripe old age of thirty-eight he is finally divorced and has made the step to come out of the closet. One aspect of Jason that I love is that he is still great friends with his ex-wife and his two kids are fantastic. These three make really good minor characters. But I am sidetracked, after a chance meeting Jason and Craig meet while auditioning for the Sarky Players.
For me it was way too easy to relate to Craig. Partly because I know people that are similar to him in personality and this also includes me, but mostly because this portrays academia and scientific research and generally life working in a lab with great accuracy. I should know: I’ve done the whole PhD thing and work in a lab. Craig and Jason work really well together, I loved and believed their chemistry.
Blurb: Milt Grabaur has left his life, home, and teaching career in Ohio to start anew. The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, butted up against the San Jacinto mountain range, seems the perfect place to forget the pain of nursing his beloved husband through Alzheimer’s and seeing him off on his final passage.
Billy Blue is a sexy California surfer type who once dreamed of being a singer but now works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s focused on recovery from the alcoholism that put his dreams on hold.
When his new neighbor moves in, Billy falls for the gray-eyed man. His sadness and loneliness awaken something Billy’s never felt before—real love.
When a summer storm and flash flood jeopardize Milt’s home, Billy comes to the rescue, hoping the two men might get better acquainted… and maybe begin a new romance.
But Milt’s devotion to his late husband is strong, and he worries that acting on his attraction will be a betrayal.
Review: I didn’t really know what to expect with Blue Umbrella Sky by Rick R Reed. Rick R Reed is not unknown author to me, but he is an author that I’ve never really been able to really get into his writing. I never had a problem with his stories or characters, it was just that the various books I had tried in the past I had been unable to really connect to. However, the reason that I wanted to give this book a go was because of the blurb – a colleague of mine lost her mother to early onset Alzheimer’s disease last year, with a similar family history and age to Corky in the book, so I kind of felt some connection to the story already because I had seen my colleague go through this heartbreak.
Milt, who has struggled to move on with his life after his partner died, merely exists in The Summer Winds trailer park in Palm Springs, California. He takes a long journey to healing throughout the course of this book. He deals with the loneliness, wanting to push everyone away when it seems to easiest thing to do, and feeling as though he has nothing left to give emotionally and physically to the world after giving his all to his deceased husband, Corky. Milt’s journey is one of heartache and hope but it something that I felt was representing so well and the depth of the emotions involved was not glossed over.
The man to help heal Milt’s heart is Billy Blue. Billy had big dreams to become a singer, and is hoping to find a place for himself in the world. For now he works at Trader Joe’s and lives in his own trailer at Summer Winds. He’s trying his best to get his life together and get over his problems with alcohol so that he can heal himself. Billy has just as much healing to do as Milt. Two men are neighbours, their trailers parked next to each other. The sadness of Milt calls to Billy, and he seems to see that they could do a lot more healing together than they could apart.
Blue Umbrella Sky is an intense book, which I found myself crying through off and on. Because this includes something I’ve seen distantly in my own life, I think that is why I was able to start and finish this book. I found it difficult due to the intensity but totally worth it. This is about hope and healing and finding new love when one man thought that he would never find his place in the world again.
As to my thoughts on the author, I’m not sure if this book has bumped Rick R Reed from my “mostly avoid” list, but I think I will be open to other books if anything else sparks my interest.
Hi guys! We have Ava Kelly popping in today with her new re-release Havesskadi, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
(Dragon Souls 01)
The red dragon is hunting her own. Up in the icy peaks of the northern mountains, Orsie Havesskadi spends his days hiding from her, but eventually he is found and his dragon magic stolen. Cursed to wander the lands as a mortal unless he recovers his magic before twenty-four rising crescents have passed, Orsie embarks on an arduous journey. Spurred by the whispers in his mind, his quest takes him to a castle hidden deep in a forest.
Arkeva Flitz, a skilled garrison archer, discovers an abandoned castle in the woods. Trapped there, he spends his days with his two companions, one cruel, the other soothing. One day, a young man arrives at his gates, and soon they are confined by heavy snowfalls and in danger from what slumbers in the shadows of the castle.
According to the rules, Simon Osborne should ignore the children’s cries for help. After all, they’re werewolf cubs, and he’s an apprentice mage. But for once in his life, Simon breaks the rules and rescues the cubs, saving them from a demon intent on draining them of their magic.
Of course, all actions have consequences, and Simon’s bold move earns him the displeasure of his peers and the attention of the cubs’ alpha, a man named Gray Townsend.
The last thing Gray needs is a mage in his life, but Simon did save his son. Since Simon is now a friend of the pack, Gray doesn’t have much choice about it—or the forbidden attraction that goes along with it. Unfortunately for the alpha, he needs Simon’s help to track down the demon behind the kidnappings—before it strikes again. Simon and Gray must join forces to protect the pack, even as they struggle to resist the temptation that threatens to destroy them both.
2nd Edition. Originally published in 2012 as Poppy Dennison..
So much happens in this amazing story. Simon, a mage, helps wolf children in trouble. He meets Alpha Gray and the attraction is instant. But mix paranormal pairings are frowned on. They team up to get to the bottom of the kidnapping and who is behind it. What they discover along the way rocks their world.
I loved everything about this story from the colorful characters and the creative way they are introduced to the details about certain things about Simon’s heritage. I was enthralled from to finish and am looking forward to continuing to read more about the three types of magic, what happens with the conclave and seeing what new issues arrive for the new allies.
Fantastic read and highly recommended.
Pixie’s Review: 💖💖💖💖💖 5 Hearts
Simon breaks the rules when he saves some werewolf cubs from a demon and two humans. He becomes further involved when their alpha (Gray) asks for his help and lands in further trouble when he saves Garon’s (Gray’s son’s) life. Gray needs all the help that he can get when it comes to Others, because they don’t mix he has no clue how to deal with the problem of the demon. With the help of Simon, they just might get to the truth.
This is an extremely well written fantasy that grips you from the start. Simon breaks the Mage’s rules when he goes to the rescue of some werewolf cubs. Even knowing that he will be punished doesn’t stop him from helping them… and then he has to face their Alpha who he feels an instant attraction to. But, the troubles that he faces just keep coming as he has to face his Master and then coming to Garon’s rescue again, all while feeling ill from a magical attack. Gray also feels the attraction, but his concern is for his pack and the demon who took the cubs. As they work together to get to the bottom of the problem, secrets emerge from Simon’s family history.
I thoroughly enjoyed this book and found the characters to be enchanting, the storyline incredible and the plot great. Macy Blake has wrote a fantastic piece of work that draws you in from the beginning and doesn’t let you go as you discover the well woven plot and the intrigue and secrets and deceptions of this fantasy world.
I loved the way that the supernatural circles were set up; each species keeps to themselves and has no interaction with the Others, instant distrust towards Others and it is filled with a world of possibilities. In this story, we have werewolves, mages, a demon and a vampire, the background building is brilliant and we get an idea of the everyday workings of werewolves and mages.
The characters in this book were great and I especially loved the cubs, Garon and Emily, and their personalities. The adults were good as well, with Simon and Gray being a good match, but the one who intrigued me the most was Cormac and I would love to learn more about him (hint). There are some really hot scenes between Simon and Gray. I loved the way that they worked together and just seemed to fit so well together. The way that the pack was described as a huge family and the interactions between them warmed the heart, but the way that the mages worked left me feeling sorry for the loneliness that they most all feel.
With this one, I am going to recommend it to everyone who loves fantasy, shifters, mages, vampires, demons, unexpected danger, intrigue, hot sex and a fantastic storyline… I advise everyone to give this a go because I really don’t think that you will be disappointed if you give this one a shot.
Hi guys, we have Rick R. Reed popping in today with his new re-release IM, we have a great excerpt and a brilliant $10 NineStar GC giveaway so check out the post and enter the giveaway! ❤️ ~Pixie~
Rick R. Reed
One by one, he’s killing them. Lurking in the digital underworld of Men4HookUpNow.com, he lures, seduces, charms, reaching out through instant messages to the unwary. They invite him over. He’s just another trick. Harmless. They’re dead wrong.
When the first bloody body surfaces, openly gay Chicago Police Department detective Ed Comparetto is called in to investigate. Sickened by the butchered mess of one of his brothers left on display in a bathtub, he seeks relief outside where the young man who discovered the body waits to tell him the story of how he found his friend. But who is this witness…and did he play a bigger part in the murder than he’s letting on?
Comparetto is on a journey to discover the truth, a truth that he needs to discover before he loses his career, his boyfriend, his sanity…his life. Because in this killer’s world, IM doesn’t stand for instant message…it stands for instant murder.
Warning: Graphic depictions of violence and mutilation, murder, pedophilia, scene of underage rape
Blurb: Jason Jachovich never dreamed he’d be sold to the Psy only to be turned into a monster from an old Hollywood movie. When the Psy try to use him and the other humans they changed in a war with other paranormals, Jason manages to get free, only to watch as the others like him die in a war they didn’t want to be a part of.
The Alliance is stunned to see what the Psy have created in their attempt to defeat the Alliance. In order to defeat the were-creatures the Psy have sent to fight, the Alliance must kill them, but one manages to survive. Dr. Adam Pratt is sent to study this were-creature in hopes of saving any more they come across. What he didn’t expect was to find his mate and become willing to do anything to save him.
This is the second edition of the original 2014 release. Although there are no significant changes to the story, it has been re-edited and revised.
Review: Jason, one of the Psy’s experiments, wakes up not knowing where he is. He only knows there is a lovely smell and a heavenly voice calling to him. At first he is terrified until the man tells him everything will be alright. Adam is happy he met his mate Jason but is concerned for his welfare at the same time. The two try and help the other understand things that are happening.
There is a lot that happens throughout this story. From confrontations others to rescue missions without planning there is an adrenaline rush as different characters play a role in bringing each scene to stunning life. Action packed and suspenseful this book packs a punch.
I loved everything about the book. I am looking forward to reading about the many characters that were rescued as well as Maui and Ian as in this story we find out they are mates.
Blurb: As part of the investigation into the murder of a young woman, Seattle P.I. Tony DeMarco poses as a patient of Dr. Jack Halloran, the therapist who treated the victim at a Seattle sex clinic. This isn’t the first time Tony has gone undercover, but it’s the first time he’s wanted to go under cover with one of his suspects. He can’t help it—Jack Halloran is just the kind of steely-eyed hero Tony goes for. But he’ll have to prove Halloran’s innocence and keep the doctor from finding out about his ruse before he can play Romeo.
Dr. Halloran has his own issues, including a damaged right arm sustained in the line of duty as a combat surgeon in Iraq and the PTSD that followed. He’s confused to find himself attracted to a new patient, the big, funny Italian with the puppy-dog eyes, and Tony’s humor slips right past Jack’s defenses, making him feel things he thought long buried. But can the doctor and the P.I. find a path to romance despite the secrets between them?
Review: Private Investigator Tony has been asked to look into the death of a young woman, a young woman who apparently committed suicide; it leads Tony to go undercover as a patient at a Seattle sex clinic and getting him help for his own little problem. Tony doesn’t believe that the doctor who treated the young woman, Jack Halloran, was involved but he wants to make sure he doesn’t miss anything and that it isn’t his attraction to the doctor clouding his judgment. Jack has his own issues, injured in the line of duty as a combat surgeon; he has lost all confidence in his own appeal and becomes confused by his attraction to his new patient, Tony.
This is a great story that has some brilliant humorous moments including an Italian mother who has no boundaries. Tony is a great character who puts his all into solving his clients cases, his newest case is a puzzle though, and no matter the alibi, he still suspects the husband. Going undercover Tony wants to discover just what treatment the dead woman received, but he gets a surprise of his own when his own little problem rears its ugly head. Jack is a man who has had his confidence knocked, forced to change his speciality he is now a sex counsellor and is intrigued by his new patients problem, but he also find himself attracted to the man.
This is a great novella that has some incredible sexual tension and a pretty good investigation. Tony is a character that you fall in love with, he is so cute with his blushes and embarrassment and his intense attraction to Jack. Jack is a man who has had some hard knocks, but he is so nice that you want him to break the rules for Tony. Tony’s investigation is great but the budding relationship with Jack is better, both of them entwine and I loved Jack’s reaction to the truth about Tony.
I recommend this to those that love humorous private investigators, hot doctors, great sex, an interesting storyline and a very amusing ending.
Blurb: Ryan Penniford needs a break from the daily grind of London life. A trip down to Porthcurno, Cornwall, to perform at the stunning Minack Theatre with his amateur dramatics society, the Sarky Players, is the perfect answer. Playing Puck in A Midsummer’s Night Dream will certainly lighten his spirits.
After meeting Stuart Box, a local who has returned to Cornwall after earning his PhD in London, Ryan thinks he might have finally found someone who can see behind his mask of flirty Ryan to see the real man. They quickly realise they have great off-stage chemistry, and want as many repeat performances as possible.
Pity Ryan is only visiting Cornwall for two weeks, but Stuart is keen to return to London and he may have found another incentive to get a new job, and fast. Both men want to see where this more-than-just a holiday romance might take them.
Review: This is the second instalment to Rebecca Cohen’s Treading the Boards series (and I am well aware that there is at least one other series in MM called Treading the Boards). You don’t need to have read book 1 to get into this one. The couple of the previous book, Overly Dramatic, Andy and Phil, are mentioned a couple of times but nothing that requires a back story.
We are back in the world of the Sarky Players amateur theatre group and they are now on the road from London for a summer performance in Cornwall. This time round we get to meet member of the Sarky Players, Ryan as he readies himself to play the part of Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s at the local outdoor amphitheatre that he meets local guy Stuart. The road to romance is rocky for them, and probably a bit predictable, but it is entirely pleasing. However, once again I enjoyed the chemistry between the MCs and the romance was hot.
On a more personal note, I have to say that it took me a few days to realise that I did indeed enjoy this story more than I originally thought. Stuart’s story of finishing his PhD and having problems finding a post-doctoral research position just hit too close to home for me, the problem being that I am approaching the end of my PhD and finding myself in the same position (and in a similar field of biology) to Stuart. Maybe I can find my very own Ryan!
In saying all that, people towards the end of their PhDs will find some of the descriptions so close to home that it’s almost depressing. For everyone else, rest assured this is a pretty damn realistic look at the life of research scientists.
Nevertheless, cannot wait for book 3!!! Even if that will also be alarmingly close to my own life.
Blurb: What if your first love was abducted and presumed dead—but returned twenty years later?
That’s the dilemma Cole Weston faces. Now happily married to Tommy D’Amico, he’s suddenly thrown into a surreal world when his first love, Rory Schneidmiller, unexpectedly reappears.
Where has Rory been all this time? Has he time-traveled? What happened to him two decades ago, when a strange mass appeared in the night sky and lifted him into outer space? Rory has no memory of those years. For him, it’s as though only a day or two has passed.
Rory still loves Cole with the passion unique to young first love. Cole has never forgotten Rory, yet Tommy has been his rock, by his side since Rory disappeared.
Cole is forced to choose between an idealized and passionate first love and the comfort of a long-term marriage. How can he decide? Who faces this kind of quandary, anyway? The answers might lie among the stars….
Twenty years ago Cole and Rory were young and in love. Then one night Rory mysteriously disappears never to be seen. Cole spent years looking for Rory. I felt his pain and despair of not knowing what happened. Then Cole meets Tommy. The two start a relationship and marry. Now twenty years later Rory is back and Cole has a decision to make.
I really felt for both Rory and Cole. So much had been taken from them when Rory was taken. But at the same time Cole finds someone new years later. I felt that Cole found Tommy comforting but at the same time never really gave Tommy his all because of what he felt for Rory. This was a deep story with plenty of drama and emotional aspects as well as what exactly happened to Rory.
I felt Cole’s decision in the end was the right one. What added to the story was the thoughts and feelings from Cole, Rory and Tommy. We got to see what each thought and their feelings on certain things as the story progressed. I don’t want to ruin the ending by giving anything else away but I will say it was a well written story with deep thoughts and heartfelt decisions to be made by Cole.
Fantastic read and highly recommended.
Lisa’s Review 💖💖💖 2 1/2 Hearts:
Cole and Rory were so in love and belonged together like no other. Then Rory disappeared one night after making love. Cole could hardly eat, hardly sleep and hated going to work. Then he accidentally runs into Tommy with his bike and things were changing for him. He just never forgot the man he loved.
Twenty years have past and his love has changed. He married Tommy and their lives were looking good. The problem was his past love was the one he always thought about. Then Rory showed back up.
Rory has been gone for twenty years but to him he was only gone for a night or two. He even still looked like he was in his twenties and his love for Cole was still strong as ever. He just had no clue what happened to him.
When I came across this book I actually figured the author was just going to turn it into a menage a trois story. That however was not the way he took it. I hate to admit that this book was twisted and not in the good way. There were no clues to where Rory had ended up for twenty years and you never get the answer. The book was down right creepy and I hated the ending.
I was glad that **** didn’t end up breaking ****’s heart, but what happened was ****’s heart was the one being broken. However I guess it was the only way that could have ended but I was disappointed in it either way. I would have loved it better if the three of them had gotten together in the end.
To be truthful I hated this story and it is going straight to the never read again list.
Overall the story is quite unique and is a very refreshing type of story. It just wasn’t for me…
Blurb:Andy Marshall has moved back to London with plans for a fresh start. A little heart sore from a nasty break up, he joins a local amateur dramatics society called the Sarky Players based in Greenwich. Despite his best efforts at the audition, Andy lands a leading role in play called Whoops, Vicar, There Goes My Trousers, a ridiculous farce written by a local first-time playwright.
The play might be bad, but the Sarky Players are a friendly bunch. Andy quickly makes new friends and finds himself drawn to Phil Cormack, a local artist helping with the set and props. But despite their growing attraction, Phil’s not in the right place to date, and Andy won’t wait forever.
Life doesn’t run to a script, and if Andy and Phil want to get their happy ending, they need to move past rehearsals and put each other centre stage.
Review: This is a bit of a fun novella which was thoroughly enjoyable and good when you just want to read and relax. ‘
It’s a bit of a usual story – main character moves town/city to get away from a bad relationship and a fresh start. Andy has done exactly that after a long-term relationship breaks down and takes up a job in London where he works as an accountant. After talking to one of his co-workers he winds up joining a small amateur theatre group called the Sarky Players.
This is a funny story, helped particularly by the fact that Andy finds himself cast in the horrendously named Whoops, Vicar, There Goes My Trousers. It’s especially funny when Andy encounters the play right and her reaction that the play she wrote as a bet was being put on by the local am-dram company. It’s through the Sarky Players that he meets one of the props managers, Phil, and instantly there are sparks between the guys. Sometimes it felt like the romance was a bit slow in coming along but I love the chemistry between Andy and Phil, nonetheless.
I liked the very human and relatable feel of the other characters in the Sarky Players, including the woman and her husband that had introduced Andy back into the world of theatre. It’s a lot of fun and nothing to take more seriously than the words on the page.
Ford Nixel has two law offices, two fancy condominiums, and all the right connections. He definitely thinks he has everything he wants.
The last thing he needs is his Uncle Ty’s stake in the Leanin’ N, a ranch that’s been in the family for generations. Ford hasn’t even been to the ranch in over a decade, not since he left his boyfriend Stoney behind and headed back to college alone.
Ford arrives at the Leaning N to find Stoney, now a single father, right where he left him. A fist fight, a snowstorm, and a stolen kiss in the barn later, and Ford knows none of the heat between them has dissipated, but can they make their second chance work?
Review: When Ford’s Uncle Ty asks for his help Ford doesn’t hesitate to rush back to the ranch he hasn’t set foot on in twelve years. Ford returns to the Leaning N not looking forward to seeing his ex-boyfriend Stoney, the man who preferred the ranch and knocked up Ford’s cousin. But even with twelve years and a child putting distance between them Ford’s feelings for Stoney haven’t changed and when Stoney reveals a secret Ford can’t fight how he truly feels for Stoney.
This is a great story that has two men reuniting and finally putting the misunderstandings between them to rest. Ford is a great character who is struggling with his resentment for Stoney, having to work with Stoney proves to be like getting blood from a stone, they clash, bitch at each other and Ford wants nothing more than go punch Stoney. Stoney is a solid character who doesn’t believe he is any good at anything other than being a cowboy, Stoney resents Ford coming home, and he resents Ty asking him to work with Ford but if the Leaning N is going to keep going he needs Fords help.
I really like how this story was written, while Ford and Stoney’s relationship plays out throughout the story we also have them learning to work together, moving forward to improve the ranch, we have Ford trying to find his place as the people who work on the ranch are like family and we also have some great characters who shine like Quartz (Stoney’s son) and Geoff (the vegan cook).
The story is easy to follow and is well paced; there are some hot moments between Ford and Stoney and some tense moments (snowstorm), the relationship doesn’t instantly strike up again when Ford and Stoney meet again in fact it takes quite some time before they are even in the same room without them wanting to punch each other. B.A. Tortuga has again written a story that produces some warm and fuzzy feelings and while it does have tension it isn’t angsty.
I recommend this to those who love second chance love stories, who adore characters who can put the past behind them for a new future, and great characters who are determined to get a happy ending.
Blurb: The sparkling jewel of the Hidden Gem, City M’s most renowned brothel, Misaki “Aki” Ito is living the good life. He’s not subjected to torture for his psi abilities, he has a roof over his head, food to eat, and all the sparkly shoes he could dream about. He also has one particular regular he can’t get enough of, Shane McNaughton, even if Shane occasionally asks for Aki’s help on a case.
Shane is a cop specializing in missing persons. He’s good at finding people, not just because of his years as a seasoned detective, but because he survived the Third World War and resulting plague with a few supernatural abilities himself. Mutated by the virus that wiped out two thirds of the world’s population, Shane no longer considers himself human. Which is why he limits his visits to a very breakable psi companion when not working a case, no matter how much he might want Aki.
When a high ranking official’s daughter goes missing and feared dead, Shane has no choice but to ask Aki to use his abilities to help him track down the kidnapper. The case opens a door to a past Aki thought he had escaped. Will Shane’s love be enough to save them all when something dark is awakened inside of Aki?
Note: Re-edited, but content still the same. Short fiction added to the end.
Review: Aki is a psi; he has mutated DNA that means he is able to read your past with a touch, but living in a world that fears those that are different left him starving and beaten until he was taken off the streets to become a contracted companion. The Hidden Gem welcomed him with open arms and he has repaid them by becoming their top companion, earning enough money to keep him in sparkly shoes and pretty clothes. Shane survived the Third World War greatly changed; now working as a cop finding missing people and assisting in the odd homicide but keeping people at arm’s length to hide the monster inside him. Shane has visited Aki many times over the last two years for both work and personal needs and he wishes he could have more from the companion. As Shane tracks down a serial killer it becomes clear to him that Ari is somehow connected, but can Shane save him from what is to come?
Oh my, this story certainly surprised me with the intriguing plot and stunning characters. The world has changed from what we know; World War Three changed not only the landscape but for some it changed their very genetics, A-Ms (Animal-Mutation) and not long after came the psi’s. A country split and containment camps and shunning for the psi and A-Ms hiding their natures, this is the world we find ourselves in and it is fascinating. Shane is investigating a puzzling serial killer, asking Aki to help seems to be his best bet for any clue but not even Aki could have seen the outcome that they are heading for.
Shane and Aki are wonderful characters, Shane may be big, growly and not very friendly and when you learn his past you can understand his stand-offish attitude, but he has a soft spot for Aki, then there’s Aki who seems to be a young innocent who has an obsession with sparkly shoes, but has an horrific past and it’s amazing after everything he has been through that he has a soft heart for Shane. They have much to work out before they even start dating, Aki must learn to shield himself and Shane must learn to be what Aki needs and Shane also needs to get to the bottom of his serial killer case which seems to get bigger and more complex with every victim.
I have to admit that I couldn’t put this story down, it’s growth was amazing with plots and twists that just seemed to get bigger and bigger, there was also a couple of moments where my jaw dropped in surprise because the twist just came from nowhere. We are treated to a host of wonderful characters besides Aki and Shane; some of those include Candy, Paris and Jack. We are led a merry chase as we try to figure out who the serial killer is, and just where Aki fits in to Shane’s feeling that he might be connected…. And I will tell you now I think I was shell-shocked by the revelation because that had never even crossed my mind!
The two bonus stories are absolutely brilliant, giving us a special glimpse of Aki and Shane in the first one and of Aki and Candy in the second.
I have to recommend this to those who love science-fiction that blends with the paranormal, who love unconventional love stories, who love surprising thrillers and mysteries, fantastic characters who all have their own stories and a rollercoaster ride that you don’t want to get off.