Release Blitz: The Station by Keira Andrews

 Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Designs
 Blurb


Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster spied on stable master Patrick Callahan mastering another man, he’s longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death for his crime, Colin speaks up in his defense and confesses his own sinful nature. They’re soon banished to the faraway prison colony of Australia.

Patrick never asked for Colin’s help, and now he’s stuck with the pampered fool. While it’s true that being transported to Australia is a far cry from the luxury Colin is accustomed to, he’s determined to make the best of it and prove himself. Although Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale, he’s inexorably drawn to sweet, optimistic Colin.

From the miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must rely on each other. Danger lurks everywhere, and when they unexpectedly get the chance to escape to a new life as cowboys, they’ll need each other more than ever.

This historical gay romance from Keira Andrews features an age difference, an eager virgin, hurt/comfort, and of course a happy ending.

Excerpt


Waiting only a moment after knocking, Colin’s mother, Elizabeth, entered his room. Colin glanced over from the window seat. He’d been watching Patrick in the meadow exercising the young colt born several days before. “Yes, Mother?”

Elizabeth was forty-two and quite beautiful, with a regal nose and posture and the same thick, chestnut brown hair as Colin. “You haven’t bathed yet? Guests will be arriving within the hour.”

“I was about to, if you’d leave me to my privacy.”

When he wasn’t studying or walking the grounds, Colin whiled away the hours sitting by his window reading novels of thrilling adventures in faraway lands. Sometimes Patrick would appear in the meadow, training the horses. Colin’s book would lie forgotten on his lap as he watched Patrick at work. He seemed as if he belonged in one of the fictional tales Colin devoured. Colin could easily imagine him with sword in hand.

“Of course, dear. I had Charles press your jacket. It’s hanging there.” She pointed across the room, where, sure enough, his formal wear waited. “Katherine was partial to that one, if I do recall.”

Colin couldn’t hold back a sigh. “Yes.”

“Darling, you gave up on Katherine far too easily. Tonight will be another chance for you to win her hand. You’re quite a catch, you know. Off to Cambridge soon. Katherine will want to ensnare you now.”

“Mother, Katherine Crawford has turned her favor elsewhere. She’s moved on.” So had he. Most definitely.

Elizabeth’s pretty face pinched into a frown. “It’s an honor that the Crawfords are attending this evening. You will be on your best behavior. I don’t know what exactly you did to ruin things with Katherine, but tonight you will do your utmost to undo it.”

“Yes, Mother.” He would attempt no such thing, but Colin had learned years before that arguing with his parents got him nowhere. Soon he’d be at Cambridge and he would be able to make his own decisions. Soon he’d have a new life.

Mollified, Elizabeth closed the door behind her. Flopping down on his bed, Colin thought of Katherine and cringed. It wasn’t until a most ill-fated outing with Katherine Crawford several months ago that Colin had admitted to himself that his interest in Patrick was far from intellectual.

Katherine was a beauty, all glossy blonde hair and moist, pink lips. For some reason Colin couldn’t fathom, she had shown an interest in him at a holiday gathering down the road. The courting had begun soon thereafter, with Colin escorting Katherine on various activities. Unlike William, who railed against the inconveniences of chaperones, Colin was grateful for the matrons’ presence.

He liked Katherine well enough. She was intelligent and kind and pleasing to look at. But Colin knew something was missing. Katherine didn’t set his blood on fire, and he rarely thought of her when she was absent.

The absences were as long as Colin could manage while still maintaining the guise of courting. He was a perfect gentleman at all times with Katherine, which he found a simple feat. William and his school chums all needled him in private and made winking suggestions of what was actually going on between him and Katherine, and Colin let them believe what they wanted.

The Lancasters and Crawfords had both been guests at a country estate for an Easter celebration. Colin’s sister, Rebecca, was delighted. On the ride over, she had chattered constantly about the beautiful Katherine and how she might one day be her sister-in-law. Colin loved his sister dearly but wished she’d find a new interest.

Colin had been fast asleep the first night at the country estate when Katherine crept into his room. Despite his protests about the impropriety, she’d insisted he dress and accompany her for a moonlight stroll. He hadn’t really a choice.

It went badly.

Despite Katherine’s obvious beauty and heaving bosom, Colin had remained utterly uninterested. He’d tried. Truly, he did. Under a large willow tree, Colin had kissed Katherine and caressed her soft skin under her skirt, her hand firm on his wrist, guiding him. He had been unable to get excited, and when she’d reached for him to find him flaccid, Katherine Crawford had had quite enough.

She’d stomped back to her room and avoided Colin for the remainder of the weekend. Colin could hardly meet anyone’s eyes. His family had obviously required an explanation, and he’d had none.

When they returned home after a torturous journey, Colin had jumped from the carriage, eager to be away from his inquiring parents and sister, who’d demanded to know how Colin had made such a mess of things. Colin had almost barreled straight into Patrick, who had come to take the horses. At the sight of him, his lean muscles, his maleness, Colin had been struck with the vivid memories of what he’d witnessed in the stable that day long ago. He had to bite his tongue to stop himself from begging Patrick to take him into some dark corner and have his way with him.

That was what he wanted. He would never want the Katherine Crawfords of the world. No matter how beautiful, how rich, how ideal for a wife. Colin wanted a man. Oh, God, did he want a man.

“Can I be of assistance?” Patrick had affected a guileless expression, and Colin had realized he’d been staring dumbly.

Awkward and ready to crawl out of his own skin, Colin had mumbled something and hurried off. All the denials he’d repeated to himself had finally been silenced. He’d locked himself in his room, took himself in hand, and, muffling his face in a pillow as he thought of Patrick, attained the most satisfying release he’d experienced since that day at sixteen years old, hiding in the stable.

Remembering now, Colin stroked himself quickly, careful not to muss himself too much before the party. He thought of Patrick, of his Gaelic lullaby and of his grunts as he’d penetrated the man in the stable years before. As he rubbed himself with one hand, legs spread, Colin caressed his lips with his fingertips, imagining what it would be like to be kissed—really kissed. He didn’t even know if men kissed each other, but he would like to try it.

Sometime later, Colin straightened his navy tie and vest under his dark jacket and peered into the full-length mirror in the corner of his bedroom. His large eyes were a deep brown that matched his hair, and his jaw was narrow. His nose was straight and unremarkable. Katherine had once told him that his smile turned her knees to jelly and his eyes were bottomless pools she could stare into for eternity.

Colin doubted it, somehow.

He decided he looked as presentable as he was able to and went to join the party. Naturally, the first person he saw was Katherine. Dressed to the nines in an ornate, yellow, bell-shaped gown and looking lovely, she was laughing gaily at something William had said. Her hand was placed just so on his arm, and Colin saw the flash of her eyes as she spotted him. She laughed again, even louder.

Colin felt like laughing himself. If she only knew. Before he could do anything, Rebecca towed him into the drawing room, her voice low and urgent, grip firm. “Honestly, I don’t know what William is thinking. You mustn’t pay them any mind, Colin. Are you very upset?” Her pretty face, very much like their mother’s, creased with worry.

Shaking his head, Colin kissed his dear sister’s cheek. “I won’t give it another thought. William is welcome to her. Perhaps Father will take some solace if the family is connected to the Crawfords in the end.”

Rebecca, fourteen and very dramatic, hugged him tightly. “Oh, Colin. You’re ever so brave.”

Biting back his mirth, Colin thanked her and pointed her toward her newly arriving friends from down the road. He made his rounds of the soiree, shaking hands and making polite conversation. Dinner was served, and Colin listened to a neighbor tell him about what a wonderful time he’d have at Cambridge. Colin hoped it would be true. The one thing dampening his excitement about finally getting away from home was that he’d also be leaving Patrick behind.

As he spooned his custard, Colin brooded. He knew it was deeply foolish, since the strange affection and desire he had for Patrick was certainly one-sided. He’d only been a child when they were friends. Even if by some miracle Patrick desired him now that he was grown, would Colin really have the nerve to lie with another man? His trousers tightened at the notion, and he was glad for the napkin across his lap.

After dinner, Colin endured the ladies’ singing and gentlemen’s card games. Unable to shake Patrick from his mind as the night wore on, he found himself walking to the stable, unable to stay away. He was almost there when a cry came up. A man burst out from the large wooden doors and fled across the meadow, barely visible in the darkness. In the lantern light from the stable, Patrick tumbled outside, followed by two men Colin recognized as shopkeepers in the next county. Brothers named Harris, he thought.

Colin realized he was running and skidded to a halt just as one of the brothers landed a vicious kick to Patrick’s ribs. “Stop!” Colin shoved the man aside. Blood already streamed from Patrick’s nose and mouth.

The man ignored Colin as if he were naught but a fly, and kicked Patrick again. “Unnatural piece of filth!”

Several other guests who heard the melee drew near. The other Harris brother called out to them. “We need the inspector. A crime’s been committed here.”

“What crime?” Colin demanded.

The man spit at the ground where Patrick lay beaten. “Buggery.”

The world tilted on its axis, and Colin’s stomach churned. He realized Patrick’s breeches were loose, and that the man he’d seen fleeing must have been…

Suddenly Colin’s father was there. In the lantern light, Colin could see the rage on his father’s face, and it chilled him. Edward was short and stout, yet an imposing presence. He issued a terse command to the Harris brothers to follow him and bring Patrick.

Patrick was dragged around the back of the manor house, a growing number of curious guests following. Several women were told to go back to the party, and the servants watched with wide eyes as the brothers hauled Patrick through the kitchen. Inside Edward’s study, a group of men gathered. Patrick was deposited on his knees in the middle of the room as Colin crowded inside with the others. They were soon joined by Colin’s mother.

“What’s going on?” she hissed to her husband. “There are whispers everywhere.”

Edward barely spared her a glance. “This is no place for a woman. An ungodly crime has been committed. Go see to the other guests and tell them everything is fine. We don’t want this getting out.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Tell me what’s happened!” Elizabeth’s cheeks flamed.

The man who’d kicked Patrick spoke. “My wife is feeling ill, so my brother and I went to the stable to ask for our carriage to be brought round.”

“Ill? Not from the food?” Elizabeth appeared horrified.

“For God’s sake, woman, forget the food!” A vein in Edward’s temple throbbed, and Colin feared his father might explode with rage.

“Where’s the other one?” Colin glanced behind him, surprised to hear William’s voice. Apparently the whispers were indeed spreading.

One of the Harris brothers answered. “Gone. I think it was the Nelsons’ carriage driver. Quick bastard, we couldn’t catch him. This one was still tangled up in his breeches. Caught him dead to rights.”

“No need to get the courts involved. Take him out back and hang him from his bollocks,” said one of the other guests.

There was a murmur of agreement, and Edward seemed to seriously be considering it. Colin’s panic increased exponentially as the tension simmered. Many of those present had long been into their cups, and a reckless air swirled through the room. He looked to Patrick, who knelt silently, blood dripping down his face, his hands now bound behind his back. Colin hadn’t seen who restrained him.

“Kill him,” agreed one of the Harrises. To Patrick, he said, “Wouldn’t you rather be put out of your misery now than rot in a jail cell knowing you’re going to the gallows? We’d be doing you a favor.”

The murmur of assent grew frighteningly loud. “Should have expected it from an Irishman,” someone shouted.

“Hang ’im! Save the courts some time and money.” The bookkeeper from the local village reached for Patrick, attempting to haul him to his feet as other men cried their agreement.

“No!” When all eyes turned to him, Colin realized he’d spoken aloud. “No. You can’t kill him.” He thought of that day six years before, when Patrick had raced after him and plucked him from the fleeing stallion. His heart hammered as it had that day.

Edward’s eyes narrowed. “Colin, the punishment for buggery is death. It’s what he deserves. This man—if you can call an animal a man—is a degenerate criminal.”

“Then so am I!”

Silence gripped the room in an instant, as if everyone held their breath collectively. Elizabeth went pale. “Colin, you have no idea what you’re saying.” She pulled his arm, urging him toward the door. “I’m sorry, everyone; he’s had far too much brandy this evening. He isn’t himself.”

Colin yanked his arm away. “No, Mother. I know what I’m saying.” He swallowed, his throat dry and thick. “I am myself.” Perhaps for the first time.

A shocked William spoke up, his eyes wide. “Colin, this is madness!”

Edward simply stared, stunned into silence for the first time in Colin’s memory. Elizabeth pulled at him again, but Colin shook free. “If you will kill this man for his crime, then you’ll have to kill me too. Shall you take me outside and string me up?”

“What in God’s name are you doing?” Patrick spoke for the first time, and all eyes turned to where he knelt. He stared at Colin with dazed astonishment.

The sound of Patrick’s voice seemed to spur Edward out of his daze. Edward turned a murderous gaze on Patrick. “If you’ve laid a finger on my son, I swear—”

“I’d sooner bed a horse,” Patrick sneered.

“And probably has!” a voice called out.

Colin felt a ridiculous stab of pain at Patrick’s words.

Patrick went on. “Sir, your son is clearly not in his right mind.”

William’s father, John, a lawyer, spoke next. He was tall and distinguished, the opposite of his brother, Edward. He seemed to be the only calm person left in the room. “Colin, are you saying you’ve committed acts of buggery?”

“Yes.” Even if it wasn’t true, Colin couldn’t let them kill Patrick. At least not tonight, not if he could help it.

Elizabeth shrieked and collapsed into a chair. “Oh, my son. What have you done? It can’t be true!”

“I’m sorry, Mother. They’ll have to kill us both.”

“Don’t listen to him! For God’s sake!” Patrick tried to stand but was shoved back down by Edward, whose face flamed with rage.

John spoke up. “No one’s killing anyone.” He turned to the Harris brothers. “Did you witness the act?”

One of them laughed tersely. “Didn’t have to. They heard us coming, and the other one was off and running. But we saw and heard enough to know what was going on.”

John pondered this, and everyone waited. He seemed to have quietly taken control of the proceedings, for which Colin was grateful. He hoped Patrick wouldn’t be harmed any further for the moment.

“No concrete evidence. None in regards to Colin either,” John said after a lengthy pause.

“Because it’s not true!” Elizabeth cried.

John ignored her and turned to Edward. “I have some friends in the magistrate’s office who should be able to help. I’ll go speak to George Crawford and get him on our side. But too many people have heard Colin’s confession. Something must be done.”

Edward nodded grimly, not looking at Colin. He pointed to Patrick. “We’ll keep this one locked in the pantry for the night. Colin will be in his room with a guard placed outside. William, take him upstairs.”

The shock of his actions slowly settling in, Colin didn’t resist as William led him away. They opened the door to the study to find the hallway crowded with party guests. Katherine was among them, her delicate face transformed into a hard mask. “Fiend!” She dashed down the hall, weeping.

Accusing eyes glared from all sides, and William led Colin to the servants’ back stairway, sparing him the spectacle of being marched up the grand staircase. In his room, Colin tried to speak. “Will, I…”

William raised a hand. “Don’t.” He shook his head sadly, his expression deeply wounded. “I don’t understand. I’ve always thought of you as a dear friend. A brother. Now I feel I’ve never known you at all.” He turned his back, closing the door behind him. A moment later, Colin heard the key turn in the lock, and his life as he knew it was over.

Author Bio

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

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Release Day Blitz: A Way with You by Lane Hayes

Title:  A Way with You
Series: A Way With, Book 2
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Amazon
Release Date: January 18, 2018
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 30K
Genre: Romance, Bisexual, Humor, Office Romance, New York City

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Synopsis

Reeve Nelson is determined to make it in Manhattan. He’s hardworking, dedicated and willing to put in the extra hours required to be successful at his new job at a prestigious real estate firm in the city. There’s no way he’s going back to small-town living and an ex-girlfriend who won’t let go. But his boss isn’t making it easy. 

Leo Rodriguez enjoys his reputation as a ruthless businessman. He’s a lone wolf who’s scraped his way from the gutter to rebuild his life and launch a distinguished career on his terms. When an opportunity to expand in the market comes up, Leo wants the eager new agent with a sense of wonder on the project.

But nothing goes quite as planned. Reeve expected to be intimidated and overwhelmed by Leo, however, the explosive mutual attraction and fierce desire between them is a big surprise. Neither man is looking for love and yet, something special just might happen if they can find their way…together.

Excerpt

Yeah, this was my idea but I wasn’t prepared to be this close to Leo again. His mere presence overwhelmed me. He smelled so good. I wanted to bury my nose in the collar of his button-down shirt and just…breathe. I told myself Leo was a regular guy like every other guy here, but truthfully, he wasn’t the least bit ordinary.

Even in executive chic, Leo turned more heads than the shirtless bartenders. And when he smiled at the young man next to me who offered him his stool, he added another admirer to his list.
 
I’d never been around anyone who changed the temperature in a room simply by entering it the way he did. It wasn’t his appearance either. His height and sharp sense of style might garner a second glance, but his true appeal was innate. It was in the way he spoke and moved.
He didn’t mince words or waste time. He was concise and direct and acted with purpose. I got the impression Leo Rodriguez had a reason for everything he did, including wanting to meet with me.
 
Leo perched on the vacated stool and then hooked his thumb at me when I didn’t reply. “He’ll have a martini too.”
 
“No. I mean, yes. But with olives, please. No onions.” I thanked the bartender then swiveled to face Leo, accidentally bumping his knee.
 I muttered a quick apology and cautioned myself to pull it together. Leo wasn’t my boss anymore, for fuck’s sake. I just wished he didn’t make me so anxious.
 
Commence the nervous chatter.
 
“Onions? No one orders onions,” I snorted. “And vodka-soaked onions are especially gross.”
Leo’s lip curled on one side like a pirate. “When was the last time you had a vodka-soaked onion?”  
“Uh…well, never,” I admitted with a frown. “But it sounds gross.”
 
“Chocolate covered scorpions and braised frog legs are gross. Onions aren’t in the same zip code.” 
I made a face and shivered. “Have you actually eaten those things?”
 
“Yeah, and actually, they’re not so bad. Chocolate hides the taste of anything, even insects, and frog legs taste like chicken. But you never know unless you try.”
 
“No thanks.”
 
Leo tsked playfully. “You have big opinions, a big mouth, and a hot temper, Nelson. No wonder I like you.” He nodded his thanks when the bartender delivered our cocktails then raised his glass in a mock toast. “To onions.”
 
“Onions?” 
“We sure as fuck ain’t drinkin’ to olives,” he quipped.
 
I chuckled at his comedic expression then sipped my martini while I wracked my brain for a non-confrontational topic of conversation to stall the inevitable one.
 
“What do you have against olives?” Weak. But it was better than nothing, and Leo seemed willing to play along.
 
“Nothing. It’s a texture thing. I don’t eat them if I can help it but I love olive oil. And tapenade is cool as long as those little suckers are chopped really fine. Otherwise, olives are a hard pass for me. Everyone has a food like that. What’s yours?”
 
“Kidney beans,” I replied quickly. “I like them in chili but not in salad. I have a great recipe for spicy chili that requires multiple glasses of water on standby. My grandmother made it when we were kids and”— I stopped to take a gulp of my drink before braving a look his way— “I’m sorry. You make me nervous.”
 
“Why, Reeve?” he purred, leaning into his elbow on the bar next to mine. “Is it because of last night?”

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked.

Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

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Cover Reveal: In Wild Lemon Groves by Selina Kray

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Cover Design: Tiferet Design
Length: 110,000 words approx.
Blurb
 
A telltale knock on a quiet winter night is a sound no husband wants to hear.
 
Sébastien Osaki has spent the past three years surviving the loss of his beloved Henry. When Seb lands in Amalfi, Italy, for their would-have-been tenth-anniversary trip, he’s haunted by the memory of the man he loved. Following Henry’s notebook leads him to some breathtaking coastal views but also right back to his despair. Seb’s there to get his groove back, not let the past wrong-foot him at every turn.
 
Enter Andrea Sorrentino, chauffeur, part-time pet whisperer, a Bernini statue in a soccer tee and tight shorts. From the moment Andrea picks Seb up from the airport, he knows just how to soothe Seb’s case of the sulks. But Seb isn’t sure he’s ready for Mr. Right Now, let alone a potential Mr. Right, in a part of the world where all roads lead back to Henry.
 
Can sun, sea, and eating your weight in pasta mend a tragedy-stricken heart? Will wine-soaked Amalfi nights and long walks through lemon groves work their magic on Seb’s wounded soul? Or will he slink back into the shell of his grief once his grand Italian adventure is over? 
 

Author Bio

Selina Kray is the nom de plume of an author and English editor. Professionally she has covered all the artsy-fartsy bases, having worked in a bookstore, at a cinema, in children’s television, and in television distribution, up to her latest incarnation as a subtitle editor and grammar nerd (though she may have always been a grammar nerd). A self-proclaimed geek and pop culture junkie who sometimes manages to pry herself away from the review sites and gossip blogs to write fiction of her own, she is a voracious consumer of art with both a capital and lowercase A.

Selina’s aim is to write genre-spanning romances with intricate plots, complex characters, and lots of heart. Whether she has achieved this goal is for you, gentle readers, to decide. At present she is hard at work on future novels at home in Montreal, Quebec, with her wee corgi serving as both foot warmer and in-house critic.

If you’re interested in receiving Selina’s newsletter and being the first to know when new books are released, plus getting sneak peeks at upcoming novels, please sign up at her website: www.selinakray.net

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Release Blitz: The Fortune Hunter by Bonnie Dee

 Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

 Length: 68,000 words
Cover Design: Fantasia Frog Designs
 
Blurb
 

A man with nothing finds everything.

Abandoned at birth, WWI veteran Hal Stanton faces bleak employment prospects in post-war London. Desperation spurs him to reinvent himself to hook a wealthy wife, one he will be devoted to even if he feels no real passion. But when he meets his fiance’s cousin, Julian Needham, it’s all he can do to keep his heart in check and his eye on the prize.

From the moment he’s introduced to the charming stranger Margaret plans to marry, Julian suspects the man’s motives yet fights a relentless attraction. He’s determined to reveal Hal as a fraud but must handle the matter delicately to protect his sweet cousin’s feelings. A weekend at the family estate should allow time and opportunity for him to expose Halstead Wiley.

Even as the men match wits in a battle of attempted unmasking, powerful sexual attraction threatens to overcome them both and win the day. Can a true love connection possibly grow between these adversaries without destroying lives and loved ones?

Excerpt

Drawing up in front of the Needham house on the curved driveway, Hal felt as if he ought to be arriving in a carriage and four rather than Margaret’s Daimler motorcar. The sprawling limestone house was a convoluted collection of roof peaks, turrets, and wings added on over the years. It looked like a castle, proclaiming nobility dwelt within and an outsider like him would never belong.

Hal didn’t resent the upper class their wealth, power, and prestige. He merely wanted to become one of them. Was that so awful? A friend had once come to Hal’s flat begging a sanctuary to spend a night or two. The stay had turned into something more like two months. But Hal certainly understood that desire to lay down the burden of constant struggle to survive and find a quiet, comfortable resting spot.

Margaret would be his safe place, and he would be hers, making certain she never wanted for companionship. In return, he’d have a nice house, good food, and a fine wardrobe. He would guard her fortune as if it were his own, spending wisely and increasing it shrewdly. He wouldn’t be a burden but a life companion in an easygoing, if chaste, arrangement.

He got out of the passenger side of the car, and Margaret came around to join him. “What do you think? The house may appear grand, but don’t let the battlements fool you. Inside, it’s quite shabby. Despite a respectable family name, my aunt and uncle aren’t wealthy by any means.”

Hal tucked her hand through the loop of his arm. “I’m not nervous. I’m quite ready to meet them and explain why I’ve fallen in love with their one-of-a-kind niece. This must have been a wonderful place to grow up with all those nooks and crannies to explore.”

“It truly was. Mother and I could have afforded to stay in our own home after Father died. But I’m so glad we came to live with Aunt Agnes and Uncle Harold; otherwise, I never would’ve had brothers like Julian and James.” She frowned. “After nearly two years, I still have trouble thinking of James in the past tense.”

Hal recalled James had survived France but died in the influenza epidemic almost immediately upon his return home. He put an arm around Margaret and hugged her. “You must miss him terribly.”

“His passing has been difficult for me but nearly killed my aunt and uncle. They’re still mourning. And Julian…” She shook her head.
“Misses his brother and perhaps blames himself for being alive,” Hal guessed. “I understand that feeling, having lost many comrades at the front.”

Margaret stopped at the doorstep and turned to him, eyes shining. “You survived because God had more for you to do in this life. He brought you to me, for which I am ever grateful.”

Hal hated himself just a little more at her declaration. When he’d begun this plan, he’d imagined landing a wealthy older widow who knew the score and didn’t mind so long as she had a handsome young husband to show off to her friends like a trophy. But then he’d met Margaret. He’d been so taken with her blend of sweetness and assertiveness that it had seemed possible to make a sham marriage work. Now he was stuck with the plan he’d devised.

The door opened before they knocked. A stooped older man with a paunch swelling his waistcoat greeted them. “Welcome home, Miss Margaret.”
“Hello, Grover. You’re looking very dapper today. I’m so glad to be back. I’ve missed home these past months. May I present my fiancé, Mr. Halstead Wiley.”
The butler bowed. “Good day, sir. Welcome to Barton Park.”
Hal almost returned the bow, then recalled his proper standing and nodded politely instead. “I’m happy to be here.”

Grover escorted them to the drawing room, where Mr. and Mrs. Needham and Julian were already gathered. Hal assessed the room before following Margaret inside. Pale blue walls and rug offered a sense of tranquility and the room was not overly cluttered. The dark, heavy pieces of furniture from an older century didn’t fit the pale color palette that suggested a more chic, modern décor.
Margaret’s aunt and uncle rose to greet him. The outdated style of Mrs. Needham’s gown didn’t detract from her aura of grace and refinement as she offered her hand. “Mr. Wiley, we’re pleased you could come. Darling Margaret is the daughter we never had, and we were eager to meet the man she’s chosen.”

“Quite so,” Mr. Needham said.

Hal wasn’t certain if he was meant to shake Mrs. Needham’s hand or kiss it. The customs of the gentry weren’t familiar to him. He gave a polite press before letting go, then turned to offer a hearty shake to Mr. Needham. “The pleasure is mine. Your niece is a prize.”
“Yes she is.” Mr. Needham gave Hal an assessing look with gray eyes very much like his son’s.
Hal scanned the rest of the room to find Julian standing near the window. Sunlight burnished his brown hair with golden highlights. His well-cut profile with its straight nose and strong jawline was haloed in light. When he turned his stern gaze toward Hal, a little hum of anticipation awoke within him.

Hal squelched this reaction to a man he considered an adversary. Needham had invited him here to poke holes in his story, so he must be on guard every moment not to give himself away. If this wedding were to be called off, he’d be jobless and desperate again. One would expect work to be plentiful in the aftermath of the Great War with so few veterans returning, but the economy was in shambles. Odd jobs were all Hal had been able to find, spurring him to his mad scheme to land a wealthy woman.

He offered a bright smile. “Good to see you again, Mr. Needham.”

As much as it wasn’t, it actually was. Needham intrigued Hal, not only his physical demeanor but his affectionate manner with Margaret and his magnetic presence. Had they met under other circumstances, he and Julian might have been friends—or probably something more than friends, for Hal guessed “confirmed bachelor” Julian shared his attraction to men.

Hal dragged his thoughts away from the sorts of activities they might have gotten up to in another time and place, as he sat beside his betrothed on a sofa. “You have a lovely home,” he complimented his hosts. “Its history must be fascinating.”

“Thank you,” Mrs. Needham said. “Barton Park was built in 1640 and belonged to several families before the Needhams took possession.”

Her husband added dryly, “You may learn the entire history on every second Wednesday of the month, when the house is open. I daresay the tour guide is more educated on both the history and the architecture than we are.”

“Tours?” Julian abandoned his spot by the window to stride across the room with long-legged grace. “When did this begin?”

“Surely I mentioned this in one of my letters. A company that arranges tours approached us this past summer,” Mrs. Needham explained. “At first, your father refused to speak with their representative, but when we learned other owners of other estates were allowing tours, we decided to give it a go. It’s a respectable way to share one’s heritage and is little trouble at all. Thus far, the tourists, both domestic and foreign, have been orderly and respectful.”
“Not at all annoying having strangers troop through one’s home,” Mr. Needham continued in his sub-Saharan tone. “And you’d know about this if you paid the least attention to what your mother writes, or if you came for a visit every so often.”

Julian stood before his parents, scowling. “You did not mention this in any of your letters. I’d no idea you’d reached such a…” He glanced at Hal and seemed to reconsider airing his family’s financial business. “That you were considering such a thing.”
“It has become quite common these days for historical houses to be on display,” Mrs. Needham pointed out. “As you’ve said, times are changing.”
“More’s the pity,” the elder Needham growled.

Hal sat very still, wishing he were someplace else and not witnessing this family argument. He’d had no idea the Needhams were in such difficult straits until today. Apparently, their children hadn’t either. Surely Margaret would want to offer financial help, which would cut into the inheritance from her father’s side. He was a horrible person to immediately consider how the Needham family’s misfortune might affect him and his plans.

“Honestly, I think it’s rather brilliant to open the house to tours.” Margaret smoothed the folds of her modish knee-length dress. “Tourists enjoy seeing grand houses from a former century. The building should earn its maintenance at the very least. But if you require more financial assistance, please let me know. I want to do my part for the family.”

Julian Needham quickly added, “I can offer help as well. My investments are doing well enough.”
“We’re not quite destitute, although apparently our home has become a museum artifact to be gawked at by strangers,” Mr. Needham said.
“Thank you, my dears, for your generous thought. But such a discussion is most inappropriate at this celebratory occasion.” Mrs. Needham turned her attention to Hal. “Tell us how you two met.”

“We were both browsing at a bookstore. I shared a recommendation with Hal, and we talked for hours. You can see how that conversation ended.” Margaret turned her beaming smile on Hal. “Or never ended, for we always find something to discuss.”
“I was taken with Margaret from the moment we met. She manages to be both imaginative and levelheaded at the same time. One doesn’t let a quality woman like Margaret slip away.”
“Your family approves the arrangement?” Mr. Needham probed.

Hal seized a quick breath before plunging into his embroidered history. He hadn’t tried to pretend to Margaret that he came from any sort of gentility, instead inventing middle-class parents of modest means.

“My parents have passed, and I have no extended family. But I’m certain both Father and Mother would have welcomed Margaret with open arms.”
“Tell us about your parents,” Needham senior pushed.
“My father owned several shipping concerns. But in one year, a freighter was lost at sea and another seized by pirates. This put a great strain on his fortune and took a toll on his health.”

Hal patted his chest, indicating possible heart failure or a broken heart. Let them decide which. “He passed away within a year, and my dear mother followed soon after. I believe she couldn’t face life without him.”

Mrs. Needham gave a soft murmur, and Margaret reached to pat Hal’s hand. He bowed his head, hoping he wasn’t overdoing the drama.
“Were you left penniless then?” Julian’s tone was cool and less than sympathetic.
“Julian!” Mrs. Needham exclaimed at his shocking ill manners.

“It’s all right, Mrs. Needham. It is quite reasonable to wonder about the stranger your niece has brought home. I should have followed custom and asked permission for her hand.” Hal offered an apologetic smile, then continued trying to reassure them he had nothing to hide.

“I invested the small inheritance I received and have increased it over the years, so I live quite comfortably. I won’t pretend to be more than I am. I come from a middle-class background, and I’m in love with a woman who is clearly above me. But I care for Margaret very much.”
The last part at least was true. Hal took her hand, gazed into her eyes, and prayed his selfish intentions could be forgiven.
Margaret smiled. “As I care for you.”

Julian made a small sound that might have signaled either acceptance or disgust.

Hal darted a sharp glance at him.

“It’s a lovely afternoon. I should like to take you on a tour of the land before supper,” Margaret said.
“Perfect weather for an invigorating walk,” Hal agreed and blessed her for freeing him from the relentless questioning.
“I’ll go with you.” Julian had not taken a seat during the entire conversation, and now he started for the door. “I should like to see how the farms are doing.”

They bid their elders goodbye and entered the hallway. Margaret excused herself to change into proper attire.
Hal had brought no walking shoes and lingered awkwardly with Julian, who scanned him up and down.

“You’ll want a pair of Wellingtons. The fields and woods are muddy. And a drover’s coat to cover this fine wool.” He fingered the lapel of Hal’s jacket, tailored for a gentleman and discovered by Hal in a secondhand store.

Julian stood so near, Hal felt the heat of his body and inhaled the scent of his shaving lotion. Did Julian mean to be intimidating? Probably, because he stared at Hal with the assessing eyes of judge, jury, and executioner.

When Julian at last stepped back, Hal took a deep breath. Unfortunately, the man wasn’t only a barrier to breach, he also unleashed attraction such as Hal hadn’t felt in a long time. Perhaps Julian sensed his desire and was baiting him to make an impulsive move.

But Hal wouldn’t reveal himself so foolishly. Nothing could come between him and the quiet, calm, comfortable life he craved. He must convince this doubting Thomas before he derailed Hal’s matrimonial plan.

Dear Readers,

I began telling stories as a child. Whenever there was a sleepover, I was the designated ghost tale teller guaranteed to frighten and thrill with macabre tales. I still have a story printed on yellow legal paper in second grade about a ghost, a witch and a talking cat.

As an adult, I enjoy reading stories about people damaged by life who find healing with a like-minded soul. When I couldn’t find enough such books, I began to write them. Whether you’re a fan of contemporary historical or fantasy romance, you’ll find something to enjoy among my books.

To stay informed about new releases, please sign up for my newsletter. You can also find me on Facebook and Twitter @Bonnie_Dee.

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Cover Reveal: Love Time Five by Lily G. Blunt

Title: Love Times Five

Author: Lily G. Blunt

Cover Art: Jay Aheer at Simply Defined Art

Release Date: January 19, 2018

Genre/s: paranormal, gay romance, contemporary, polyamory

Length: 77, 000 words

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Blurb

There’s safety in numbers and plenty of love to go around.

When Colin searches for his missing colleague and buddy in the hills of northern England, his life is changed forever. Not only does he find Shaun living in a cabin with the mysterious and undeniably gorgeous Zach, but he also discovers the reason Shaun went AWOL in the first place. Colin wants to draw his friend away to safety, but Zach soon mesmerises him, and he’s happy to stay in his company, for now.

Passing hikers, Wes and Dane, need some assistance, and the three men are willing to oblige. Thus begins a friendship that develops into much more.

The five men each have their own secrets. Some are shared, others are kept hidden. It’s only a matter of time before they are exposed and the consequences could change everything for them all.

Available to purchase now from PayHip

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Excerpt – From Chapter One

The wooden cabin situated across the sloping meadow was a decent-sized dwelling, with two curtained windows on either side of the door. A covered porch stretched across the front with two old-fashioned rocking chairs and a new SUV was parked to the side.

Movement on the grass in front of the cabin confirmed the place was indeed inhabited. Colin halted in his tracks at the edge of the tree line, his breath on hold, wary of making his presence known. He squinted to get a better view of the two men walking close together. One was sleek and elegant, dressed in dark clothing. He towered over the other smaller, more familiar, figure in a sky-blue T-shirt.

Shaun?

Even from that distance, there was something recognisable about the upward lift of the chin of the shorter man; the way he held his body and the way the breeze ruffled his dark hair.

Yes, thank God. That’s got to be Shaun.

Colin snuck behind the nearest tree and peered from around the trunk, not wanting to be seen nor to interrupt them. Not yet anyway. Perhaps he wouldn’t need to make himself known. If he was mistaken and it wasn’t Shaun after all, he could slink away and return home without disturbing them. If it was him, Colin wanted answers. He wouldn’t be able to leave without finding out what the hell Shaun was doing here. With this stranger.

The stranger placed his hands on Shaun’s biceps and leaned in closer. He raised an arm, gripped Shaun’s jaw and pushed him backward.

Colin’s stomach clenched.

If he hurts Shaun… Colin patted his penknife, a comforting weight where it nestled in his trouser pocket. He’d lost count of the number of times just carrying the knife had given him the confidence to stand up to thugs who thought it was okay to call him out on his sexuality. Colin was proud he could hit most targets with it and had his father to thank for his accurate throwing skills. He was proficient enough to frighten this guy.

The cabin stood on the far side of a wild grassy expanse leading down to a small lake beyond. It was a picturesque setting with early spring flowers peeking through here and there. The sun glinted off the dark surface of the lake, and a rowing boat lay overturned at the water’s edge. Normally, Colin would have taken shot after shot with his phone to capture the charming view. But not today. This was not a sightseeing trip. It might even be a matter of life or death. For Shaun, for himself, maybe for them both considering how the taller guy unsettled Colin. If Shaun was being held captive, it would be up to Colin to rescue him.

A pained groan filled the quiet of the meadow; louder than the songbirds and the insects humming in the air.

Colin shuddered all over. His skin prickled with the fear rippling through him.

He slowly eased the penknife from his trouser pocket. The handle felt cool in his sweaty palm. Running his thumb over the edge of its sheathed blade, he itched to flick it open. It would take a second to expose the knife and throw it. If only he were a little closer, he’d be sure of hitting his target spot on. He’d need to be accurate if he wanted to rescue his buddy from his captor.

Colin held back a growl. He’d do everything in his power to help Shaun. His body was strong and muscled—too big, Colin worried sometimes. Shaun was slender and wouldn’t stand a chance against this imposing man.

The man steered Shaun towards the large stump of a felled tree, and pinned him onto his back. Shaun didn’t struggle or fight, only crying out when the man lunged towards him.

What the… are they kissing and making out?

The powerful man nuzzled on top of Shaun: licking, nipping, and sucking on his neck. Submitting and not resisting, Shaun allowed the man to take what he needed. A sludge of sickness rolled through Colin’s gut, making him want to puke, like it often did whenever Shaun hooked up with another guy.

Swallowing the bitter-tasting bile, Colin crept over the ground to the adjacent tree, placing his feet gently, trying to make himself light, so as not to disturb the entwined couple. A twig snapped beneath his cumbersome weight and he froze.

The two men remained engrossed in each other. Neither of them glanced his way. Sweat trickled down Colin’s back. His skin burned. He wiped the moisture from his brow and stepped closer, gripping the knife so hard his knuckles cracked.

What the hell is he doing to Shaun’s neck?

A chill ran over Colin’s damp skin. Shaun had mentioned a possessive date who’d bitten him at a nightclub a week or so before he’d disappeared. In fact, it was after that encounter Shaun had started acting out of character. Colin had been worried enough to persuade him to get the bite checked out by his doctor, in case it got infected. Could this be the same sick fuck who was currently grinding his hips against Shaun, trying to get himself off as he latched onto his neck?

Colin’s heart thudded, his blood heating with a mix of anger and jealousy. He mustered all his strength, and his nostrils flared when his next breath filled his lungs.

He strode towards the rutting couple, but Shaun’s groans of arousal slowed Colin’s pace.

“Yes, Zach, that feels good.” Shaun’s passion-filled voice drifted across the meadow.

Was his friend in any real danger? Had he been drugged and was being held against his will? It didn’t seem like it. Fuck, what should he do? Goddamn Shaun, he’d worried the hell out of Colin, and here he was having some sort of debauched make-out session with this creep while Colin had been traipsing the hillsides looking for him.

Colin gritted his teeth. Whatever had happened to Shaun, he needed to find out what the hell was going on. He continued his steady approach.

Surely these guys must know he was standing not ten feet away from them by now, but Shaun’s eyes remained closed, his lips parted, a look of ecstasy on his face. The guy on top sucked on his neck like there was no tomorrow. He’d have a massive hickey later, and Shaun didn’t seem bothered by it.

Colin’s dick twitched, and he huffed at its traitorous response. How many times had he witnessed other lithe young men rubbing against Shaun like this in clubs and he’d wanted to take their place? And he would have too, if he’d thought for a second he was the kind of guy Shaun wanted.

Right now, Colin should haul this leech off Shaun and drag his friend back home, back to work, back to where he belonged.

And still the guy feasted on his neck, sucking and lapping as if his life depended on it. And Shaun was getting off from that. His erotic purrs and moans captivated Colin. Damn it, his dick hadn’t been this hard in weeks. Why couldn’t someone… Shaun… suck on him like that?

Shaun’s eyes fluttered open, and on catching sight of Colin, widened.

“Stop, Zach,” he said, pushing him away.

Had they not heard his approach?

His neck-sucking friend—Zach—turned leisurely. He raised an eyebrow in challenge, wiped a trickle of blood from his mouth with the back of his hand, and stared with a self-satisfied smirk at Colin. Had he known Colin was standing there all this time?

Cocky bugger. Granted, he was a good-looking cocky bugger. Lean torso and long legs, with smooth, pale skin, yet his eyes were dark and mesmerising. His features appeared almost sculpted, his nose was perfect, and his clean-shaven square jaw made him so very handsome.

Don’t get distracted. He’s dangerous.

Shaun rose to a sitting position on the tree stump. Blood trickled from two round marks on his neck. He raised a hand and covered the injury.

Colin blinked. Zach had bitten into Shaun’s neck and hurt him. The reality slammed into Colin. He shook his head, trying to clear away a fuzzy feeling, and flicked open his knife. He held it poised, ready to throw. He still wasn’t sure if this was consensual or if Zach was a nutter who’d done something to overpower Shaun.

“Step away from him,” Colin ordered, making his voice deep and commanding, his arm steady with the knife. “I’m taking Shaun home with me.”

Zach shook his head slowly, but he stayed put. Shaun rose to his feet, his eyes fixed on Colin. He held his hands out in a calm down and take it easy posture.

“I mean it, sunshine. One sudden move and I’ll throw this blade at you. I’ll make you bleed.” And Colin meant every word. He was prepared to take this guy out to rescue his friend.

“Hey, Col. You’ve got it all wrong. He wasn’t hurting me.” Shaun took a step closer to Zach instead of Colin.

And that action hurt Colin more than a solid punch in the gut.

“Yeah, Col. Listen to him.” God, Zach was smooth, with a sexy drawl of a voice. His dark, imposing gaze shifted between the knife and Colin’s eyes. And still his body language screamed be wary of me. He couldn’t be trusted. He was going to pounce any second, Colin just knew it.

With a flick of his wrist, Colin tilted the knife, and before he could sound off another warning, it was Shaun who leaped forward, snarling. His clothing shredded and scattered into the air and, out of the blur of movement, before him stood a pale grey wolf baring its teeth.

About the Author

Lily G. Blunt enjoys writing contemporary gay romance and paranormal stories. She loves to explore the relationship between two or more men and the intensity of their physical and emotional attraction. Angst often features in her stories as she feels this demonstrates the depth of feelings between them. Lily is often inspired by the lyrics to songs and is forever writing imaginary scenes and plots in her head. Only a few of these ever make their way to the page.

Lily reviews for several blogs and has recently launched Gay Book Promotions, an online book promotion service for authors of LGBT+ romance and fiction. She loves to hear from readers and other authors.

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Release Blitz: Coach’s Challenge by V.L. Locey

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Point Shot Trilogy – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Cayuga Cougars Series
Book #1 – Snap Shot – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Open Net – Amazon US | Amazon UK
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Blurb

Victor Kalinski and his husband, Dan Arou, are living the dream. Married for over a year now, the couple have settled into life in Cayuga surrounded by friends, family, and a team that’s poised to make another championship run. Each man is enjoying professional success as well as personal bliss. Who knew life in the suburbs with a spouse and a child could be so darn satisfying? Not Vic. K, that’s for sure.

The happy times are about to turn rough, though. The Cougars have picked up a new player, Sander March, a brash young center whose sass, skill, and attitude can rival Victor’s. When it’s revealed that this new player and Dan have history, tensions begin to rise between the newlyweds. As Victor and Dan work on those issues, the one person Victor never thought he would meet arrives in the small New York hamlet and proceeds to flip everything in Vic’s life upside down.

Can Victor and Dan’s marriage withstand what life is about to drop on it, or will the challenges be too much for them to handle?

Author Bio

V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers.

When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

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