Release Blitz: Kidnapped by the Pirate from Keira Andrews

 Buy Links: Amazon US |Amazon UK

Length: 85,000 words

Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Design

Blurb

Will a virgin captive surrender to this pirate’s sinful touch?

Nathaniel Bainbridge is used to hiding, whether it’s concealing his struggles with reading or his forbidden desire for men. Under the thumb of his controlling father, the governor of Primrose Isle, he’s sailing to the fledging colony, where he’ll surrender to a respectable marriage for his family’s financial gain. Then pirates strike and he’s kidnapped for ransom by the Sea Hawk, a legendary villain of the New World.

Bitter and jaded, Hawk harbors futile dreams of leaving the sea for a quiet life, but men like him don’t deserve peace. He has a score to settle with Nathaniel’s father—the very man whose treachery forced him into piracy—and he’s sure Nathaniel is just as contemptible.

Yet as days pass in close quarters, Nathaniel’s feisty spirit and alluring innocence beguile and bewitch. Although Hawk knows he must keep his distance, the desire to teach Nathaniel the pleasure men can share grows uncontrollable. It’s not as though Hawk would ever feel anything for him besides lust…

Nathaniel realizes the fearsome Sea Hawk’s reputation is largely invented, and he sees the lonely man beneath the myth, willingly surrendering to his captor body and soul. As a pirate’s prisoner, he is finally free to be his true self. The crew has been promised the ransom Nathaniel will bring, yet as danger mounts and the time nears to give him up, Hawk’s biggest battle could be with his own heart.

Excerpt

Cover

 

1710

If pirates were to be the bloody, savage end of Nathaniel Bainbridge, he wished they’d get on with it.

The windswept deck was damp beneath his bare feet, prompting thoughts of the dewy grass of home. What he wouldn’t give for the freedom to run across the fields of Hollington Estate, wind rushing in his ears over the steady thump of his heart, the world falling away in his wake.

Instead he was confined by an endless, restless sea taunting him with its wildness. In England, he’d heard countless tales of villainous pirates and their dastardly deeds. People spoke as if the ocean teemed with the brigands, but the voyage had been mile after mile of…nothing.

Nathaniel shook his head at his foolishness. Not that he actually wanted pirates to attack their ship and massacre them. If only he could move, he would keep boredom at bay.

He gripped the railing, longing for dirt beneath his nails, scratches on his palms from tree bark as he climbed and explored, wonderfully aching muscles from hours in the lake. If he could only run a simple mile. Hardly any distance at all, but trapped on the ship, that much clear land would be a marvel.

He wiped sea spray from his eyes. If only the ability to run and jump and swim was worth anything at all in his world instead of being childish folly he was supposed to have outgrown. Men did not climb trees or swim for hours, and certainly they didn’t run for the sheer pleasure of it the way he had at Hollington.

Of course, the estate wasn’t theirs anymore, sold off to pay debts, so even if he made his way back to Kent one day, he would never return to those rolling hills. Its verdant trees and round, tranquil lake would now be home to another family.

No, for the foreseeable future, home would be Primrose Isle, a new colony his father desperately wanted to see flourish. Walter Bainbridge had found his fortunes in England not the least bit fortunate, and as a governor in the New World had the thing he loved most dearly: power.

Nathaniel’s future bride waited there. Elizabeth Davenport stood to inherit quite a fortune, and for the colony—and Walter—to thrive, alliances had to be made. So Nathaniel would do the only useful thing he could and marry.

He brushed a fresh spray of briny seawater from his face as he stared out at the endless night, keeping a firm hold on the rail. His untucked shirt flapped in the breeze, the lower fastenings on his breeches unbuckled under his knees.

In the dark, there was no one to comment on his state of undress, and he supposed the crew didn’t care a whit anyway. His trimmed hair curled at the ends in the dampness, and he tucked a lock behind his ear. It had been his little act of rebellion to cut it much shorter than most gentlemen. He certainly wouldn’t be wearing dreaded wigs, either, if he could help it.

Clouds conspired to hide the stars and razor-thin crescent of moon. He shivered in the late September night’s chill; he really should have worn his hated shoes and jacket.

At least the wind was no longer the bitter cold of the mid-Atlantic as they neared the West Indies. He shifted back and forth on his feet, lifting them like a racehorse stamping at the starting line.

The Proud William was fairly large, a merchant ship carrying a cargo of salt fish and forged metal tools to the colonies. But when he’d attempted even a light trot around the main deck, the crew had reacted with consternation at best, hostility at worst.

Running was his very favorite activity and the thing he excelled at most in life—much to his father’s disgust. Swimming in the lake in summertime, cutting through the placid water with sure, even strokes, was a joy as well.

To be surrounded now by endless water but unable to dive in and soothe his cramped muscles was the worst torture. He’d asked the captain if he could at least climb the mast or sail rigging and had been flatly refused.

So he stood by the starboard rail and sometimes paced, careful to stay out of the crew’s way. At least he had been told their progress was swift, and that after a month’s voyage—thirty-one days and some thirteen hours since they left England, to be exact—they would reach the island in a fortnight if the wind held.

He was informed that some ships took several months to reach the colonies. Ships could leave London the same day and arrive weeks or more apart. Such was the way of the sea.

Staring out at the nothingness, he stopped his restless shifting and squinted. The weak sliver of moon had valiantly escaped the clouds for a moment, and Nathaniel thought he spotted a strange kind of movement. The night took on shape before becoming uniform once more.

Perhaps it had been a great ocean creature surfacing—a whale or giant squid, or some kind of mysterious monster.

He chuckled. Earlier that evening, Susanna had read aloud fables from one of the old leather-bound tomes they’d brought from home, and his imagination was clearly running wild.

She’d always been the far more indulgent of his two older sisters, and he knew she’d packed books he’d favor, although she certainly had a taste for adventurous tales rather than the sentimental stories ladies were supposed to read. They’d both enjoyed the diary of a naval captain who’d served on several ships of the line and described life aboard in vivid detail.

Although the cabin Nathaniel and Susanna shared was tiny, at least they had privacy. He really should rejoin her in their cabin to sleep and end another interminable day, but the walls closed in on him, and it felt like a prison. Susanna’s thunderous snores didn’t help matters, but he couldn’t begrudge her anything.

For the hundredth time, he wondered what his life on Primrose Isle would be like. The colony was only a few years old, and there had been whispers of struggles with agriculture and trade, rumors of corruption and settlers packing up already.

He’d be forced to work for his father or at some other respectable job procured for him, like Susanna’s husband, Bart. Handsome Bart was thirty and penniless, but of good breeding and an agreeable disposition. He and Susanna had insisted on each other, waiting several years until both their fathers gave in and agreed to the match.

Bart seemed happy enough to do Father’s bidding, including leaving early for Primrose Isle some months ago, not knowing at the time Susanna was with child. When Walter Bainbridge made a demand, it was met. Sometimes Nathaniel marveled that a man he had rarely seen since childhood could loom so large.

Susanna and Bart had hated to be parted, but she was needed to oversee the packing up of the estate and auction of the more valuable items. Certainly it couldn’t have been left to Nathaniel, who wouldn’t have known where to begin given he’d spent as much time outside away from the ornate house as he could.

Nathaniel had considered refusing when he and Susanna were summoned. But what would he do? Where would he live? His marriage to Elizabeth had been agreed upon by their fathers, and should he fail in his duty, Walter would disown him. He’d have nothing, not even a roof over his head.

Bile rose in his throat. No, that would not do. So onward to Primrose Isle he went, to marry as his father saw fit. All he knew of Elizabeth Davenport was that she’d lived with her wealthy family for some years in Jamaica before her father joined forces with Walter to establish a shipping company on Primrose.

Well, he also knew her writing was unfailingly neat, and from Susanna’s recounting of the letter, that Elizabeth enjoyed needlework and greatly looked forward to sharing her life with him.

He’d received her letter just before leaving England and had burned it in the grate in his room. At least the voyage was a worthy excuse for not responding. And as much as he’d wished to stay in England, he couldn’t allow dear Susanna to sail the perilous Atlantic alone.

Although with how smooth their journey had been, completely lacking in beasts of the deep or even a gale of note, he apparently hadn’t needed to fret. Still, it was done.

He’d accepted years ago that he was feeble-minded, and although he knew he should be grateful for the opportunity to hold a position of at least some stature on the new colony, he dreaded the notion of truly being under his father’s thumb once more.

It had been blissful having his father overseas for years. He supposed he should feel remorse for such churlish thoughts, but there was so much else to consume his stores of guilt.

So much else indeed.

He turned away from the rail, resigning himself to another long night in the swaying hammock. Susanna was of course sleeping in the cot in the only cabin their father could afford now that he’d squandered so much money.

The cry from above pierced the night, and Nathaniel jumped a mile.

“Sails!”

In the flurry of activity and shouts, he pressed himself to the ship’s side as the crew emerged from the hull like ants. Nathaniel squinted into the darkness, turning to and fro and seeing nothing.

Then he spotted it—the hulk of a ship emerging from the night, not a single light flickering upon it, drawn to The Proud William like a moth to flame. With a sickening twist of his stomach, he realized he had indeed spotted a monster, and it was upon them.

He raced down to the cabin, bursting inside. Chestnut curls unpinned and tumbling over her shoulders, Susanna bolted up on the cot, her book thudding to the floor. One hand pressed to her round belly, she cried out, “What is it?”

“I think it’s pirates.” He could hardly believe the words as he uttered them. Had he wished them into existence by grumbling over boredom? Oh, what a fool he was.

The blood drained from Susanna’s sweet, round face. “Pirates?”

“I don’t know what else it could be.” He threw open a trunk and dug for his sheathed dagger, cursing himself for not raising the alarm sooner. His mind raced, thoughts jumbled as he grasped the hilt of the weapon and tossed the leather scabbard aside.

The thunder of the crew’s footsteps shook the ceiling, dust motes shaking loose and shouts filling the air. Susanna looked down at her nightgown, despairing.

“There’s no time for petticoats or any of that nonsense.” She threw her flowing green gown over her head, her voice muffled by it. “My God, it really is pirates, isn’t it? Oh, I think I’m stuck.”

Nathaniel helped tug the material down over her swollen belly. She emerged from the folds of soft fabric and peered up at the ceiling, as if she could see through the hull. Footsteps scuffled and thumps reverberated, tense voices shouting commands too distant to make out clearly.

Susanna whispered, “No gunshots. Must be too many. The crew isn’t fighting them. Help me pin this shut.” She had stopped wearing her corset, adopting what was apparently a new French style while she was with child.

After he’d pinned the material enough that the robe-like gown would stay put, drawing a prick of blood from his fingertip in his haste, Nathaniel yanked on his stockings and refastened his breeches below his knees before jamming his feet into his buckled shoes. He wouldn’t face these brigands in a state of undress.

He tucked the dagger into the back of his trousers and whipped on his sleeveless waistcoat, fingers clumsy on the buttons. But there was no time for his cravat or jacket. Raised voices already echoed down the corridor. He spun about, belatedly hoping to find something to bar the door.

Susanna had apparently had the same thought. “The trunks aren’t heavy enough. Besides, it will only anger them. It’s no use.”

“Get behind me.” He urged her to the back of the cabin, which was barely wider than the breadth of one’s outstretched arms.

“Be sure to mind your tongue,” she said. “You know how thoughts can sometimes go right from your head and out your mouth without pausing for assessment.”

He huffed. “What exactly do you think I’m going to say to pirates?”

“Shh!” She slapped his shoulder. They waited, listening.

More pounding footsteps, and shouts that possessed an undeniably feral quality. The hair on Nathaniel’s body stood on end, his mouth going dry. Perhaps the pirates would pass them by. Perhaps they’d plunder the cargo and be done with it. Perhaps—

The door burst open, almost flying off its hinges, and Nathaniel barely held in his yelp. His heart drummed so loudly he was certain the two invaders could hear. One of them brushed matted hair from his eyes. They both wore ripped and stained trousers as baggy as their shirts, and their boots were worn out.

The long-haired man’s beady gaze raked them up and down, and he asked his squat companion, “You ever fuck a bitch with pup?”

Nathaniel’s stomach swooped. How do they know? Susanna was hidden behind him. He lifted his chin, forcing strength to his words. “You shan’t lay so much as one filthy finger on my sister.”

Ignoring him, the squat man leered, baring snaggled, yellow teeth. He answered his friend’s question. “Good and juicy, I tell you.”

Behind him, Susanna dug her fingers into Nathaniel’s shoulder. Heart in his throat, he yanked the dagger from the waist of his breeches, brandishing it toward the pirates. “Stay back!”

The two blinked at Nathaniel, then each other, before bursting into raucous laughter. The long-haired man said, “Oh no, we’re done for, Deeks!”

Heavy footfalls sounded in the corridor, brazen and commanding. Spines snapping straight, the pirates stepped aside as a man filled the doorway, shoulders almost brushing the frame. He was tall enough to duck slightly as he entered, and his sharp gaze swept the cabin, which had never seemed quite so small.

He wore black from head to gold-tipped toes—open-collared shirt, trousers tucked into knee-high boots, and a long leather coat that flared out behind him. A pistol was tucked into his wide belt, and a cutlass winked from his hip. Gold gleamed on the belt buckle, matching the small square earring in his left ear, rings on his fingers, and the tips of those black boots.

The ends of a red sash dangled over his hip, the only splash of color aside from the gold. He had to be twice Nathaniel’s age, his face weather-worn, a scar jagging across his left temple. His dark hair was cut fairly close to his head, a surprise since Nathaniel had expected all pirates to have long, unruly hair like the animals they were.

His trimmed beard shadowed his strong jaw. In the low light, the color of his narrowed eyes was impossible to ascertain, but Nathaniel imagined they must be as black as the pirate’s soul.

He might have been the very devil himself.

Nathaniel’s palm sweated around the handle of the dagger, and he hated the tremors in his outstretched arm. His throat was painfully dry, and he croaked, “We—we don’t have anything of value. No gold or jewels worth your effort.”

Susanna added, “Even my wedding ring is plated.”

Tully, one of the Proud William’s young crew, had entered the cabin. The man—the pirate captain, undoubtedly—glanced to him. Tully nodded. “’Tis true. Only clothin’ and trinkets in their trunks.” He sniffed dismissively, tossing his reddish hair. “Nothin’ hidden anywhere in here we could find since we left London.”

Nathaniel had thought better of the crew, but saw now how naïve he’d been. It must have been Tully who had informed the pirates that Susanna was with child. “What a coward you are, Tully.”

He snorted. “As soon as I got a good look at the flag, I knew we were done for. Everyone knows the Sea Hawk will gut you from stem to stern once you’re in his talons. I ain’t dying for cargo I don’t give a fuck about and a captain who treats us like garbage.”

“Your destination is Primrose Isle?” The pirate—this Sea Hawk—demanded, his tone low and calm.

“Yes,” Nathaniel answered. “It’s a new colony.”

Tully nodded. “Her husband’s there. We’re to drop them off with their father. The old man’s the guvnor or some such thing.”

At this, the Sea Hawk seemed to jolt, but a moment later the ripple had vanished and he was still again, fearsome and dispassionate. Nathaniel thought he must have imagined the hiccup.

Yet a gleam entered the captain’s devilish eyes, and dread slithered through Nathaniel. The Sea Hawk loomed nearer and demanded, in the same deliberate but undeniable manner, “Your name, boy.”

Heart hammering, all he could manage was, “Uh…”

“This one’s called Bainbridge,” Tully offered.

“Bainbridge,” the captain repeated, barely a whisper now. “As in Walter Bainbridge?”

Fingers going numb around the dagger, Nathaniel nodded. He’d have bruises where Susanna clung to him, her sharp exhalations ghosting over the nape of his neck. There was no sense denying it. “Our father.”

“You’re the son Walter Bainbridge killed his wife to achieve?” The captain’s focus sent chills down Nathaniel’s spine.

He couldn’t hide his wince, and had to nod. His mother had never even held him before the rest of her lifeblood drained away. Susanna had been but six, spying through the keyhole, and she’d confessed it all after Nathaniel’s endless badgering when he was a lad.

Strange how he could experience the aching, hollow absence of a touch he’d never had, even after eighteen years.

The captain’s eyes glinted. Good God, the man was enormous. Nathaniel was tall enough, five feet and seven inches or so, but this monster towered well over six feet. It was all Nathaniel could do to hold his ground and not stagger back against Susanna. The tip of his blade quivered mere inches from the villain’s black heart.

The Sea Hawk gazed down at them as though they were prey he was most eager to consume. “Your father is a liar. Corrupt. An evildoer in silk stockings and a curled wig.”

Nathaniel swallowed hard, hand shaking. Could he lunge and push the dagger into this vile man’s heart? Not that he had much love for his father, but who was a pirate to talk of evildoers?

The Sea Hawk’s eyes glowed with hatred. “Your father cheated me. He was tasked with justice, with fairness. Instead he conspired to steal from me. He branded me a pirate when I was a privateer.”

“Aren’t they the same thing?” Nathaniel blurted. As the Sea Hawk’s nostrils flared, Susanna dug her nails into Nathaniel’s shoulder.

“No, they fucking are not,” the pirate gritted out. “Privateers are licensed. Legal. Privateers follow rules. Laws. Just as your father was supposed to as a judge in the Court of Admiralty in Jamaica. Your father tried to strip me and my men of everything we’d worked and suffered for. We escaped him, but in the years that have followed, he has never paid the price.”

Dread consumed Nathaniel. His father’s greed and avarice would once again bring suffering. If not for Walter’s mounting debts, Nathaniel and Susanna would still be safe at home, waiting until she had her babe before making the journey. Hollington wouldn’t have had to be sold at all, and now they faced God knew what at the mercy of pirates.

Oh Lord. Please spare Susanna and her child!

Bile rose in his throat at the thought of any harm coming to his sister, terror clammy on his skin. Sweat slipped down Nathaniel’s spine. “I…” He racked his brain for something—anything—to say, some means of escape. His dagger shook, and he licked his dry lips. “I’m sorry.” He had to fix this.

A slow, ghastly smile curled the devil’s lips. “You will be.”

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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I need more of this ‘not a romance’ pairing

ShiverShiver by Ella Frank

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Firstly can I just say OMG this takes possession to a whole new level and second to that – where’s book two?!

If there is to be no book two then this is the ultimate in edging and Ella and Brooke have scaled the heights of how to write a ‘not a romance’ and then some.

This book is all ends screwed and twisted and brilliantly so. Wolfe is an addiction that takes Jesse into a world he really has no place in going and my apprehension levels were on full alert throughout.

It works so well because you, as the reader, are given a tiny bit more insight, but still not the full picture, and are then drawn through the narrative alongside our clueless hero.

There is an element of convenient plot bunny but it works as a unforeseeable happenstance within the wider story arc, and didn’t feel too obvious, and I can’t think of many other ways it could have been done without it feeling clumsy.

There’s some powerful erotic sex in here, some hugely manipulative behaviour, some elements of the BDSM canon which work in Wolfe/Tor’s favour as he pursues his little lamb, and ultimately there’s heartbreak, betrayal and obsession as the narrative comes to a surprising end.

I still can’t make my mind up how much ‘not a romance’ this book actually is because it contains a lot of love – of the dark and twisted kind – and I loved it!

But I will agree with other reviewers that it’s not a particularly dark book in terms of what happens to Jesse and there are far far darker ones out there if that’s your thing.

View all my reviews

Give me all the ice hockey men! Love these stories

Changing Lines (Harrisburg Railers, #1)Changing Lines by R.J. Scott

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The sign of a good book for me is when the ending comes upon you without you realising you’ve got through the whole narrative without wondering how long it is.

This book did just that for me. I’m a fan of RJ Scott anyway, this was the first I’ve read of VL Locey (although I have her Point Shot series on my Kindle waiting to be read) and together they put down a very good ice hockey romance.

I loved the fact there actually was ice hockey in this book! Games happened on the ice, training happened, it wasn’t all off the ice with the relationship being the only story. I liked the complexities of the two main characters’ families.

The age gap element was well done, never felt like a big deal and – while everything goes swimmingly with very little angst and is perhaps a touch unrealistic – you know what, I didn’t care. I don’t want to read about the horrors of a sportsman or woman coming out because that shit already happens in Real Life and it makes me incandescently angry.

That Mads and Ten could just be themselves with only a few hiccups made me happy. As this is book one in an interconnected series, it may be that some of that side of the story still has to come and I’m happy with that too.

View all my reviews

Book Tour: Tender with a Twist from Annabeth Albert

Title: Tender with a Twist

Series: Rainbow Cove #2, but stands alone well

Author: Annabeth Albert

Publisher:  Annabeth Albert

Release Date: October 2, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79,000 words

Genre: Romance, Contemporary, May-December, BDSM (light), Small Town

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Synopsis

One kinky wood carver. One younger chef looking to try new things. A series of lessons that bring both men more than they bargained for…

Curtis Hunt has made a name for himself as a chainsaw wood carver, winning national competitions and operating a small business in Rainbow Cove, Oregon. As winter whittles away his tourist traffic, his goal is just to survive the season and try to not get lost in grief for his dead lover. It’s been two years, but he’s sure he’ll never be over the love of a lifetime. However, his body has a certain restlessness that he doesn’t quite know how to calm.

Logan Rosner knows a thing or two about restlessness. It’s what drove him to Rainbow Cove to be a chef at a bar and grill run by his friends. And it’s what drives him to a single sizzling encounter with the local legendary lumberjack. Both men get far more than they expected and learn that first impressions aren’t always accurate…

But when Logan proposes a series of sexy lessons, Curtis must decide how much he’s willing to risk. He knows he can’t afford to get attached to Logan’s good cooking, his easy smiles, or his caretaking, but he keeps going back for more, even as deeper emotions become involved. Soon, Curtis must decide whether to risk his heart again or risk losing Logan for good.

Tender with a Twist is a 75,000 word stand-alone gay romance with a May/December theme, featuring a second chance at love, opposites attract, loads of sexy times with mild BDSM elements, and one emotionally-charged, guaranteed happy ending with no cliffhangers.

Excerpt

Logan

The crazy woodcarver was shirtless. Again. It was a sleepy Thursday in January on the Oregon Coast which meant most sane people were in flannel and jackets and bundled for the sharp bite of the wind. I was wearing fleece-lined bike pants and a long-sleeved cycling jacket myself as I celebrated the first good ride of the year, and I was still chilly when I stopped my ride near the jewelry store on 101—the main highway running through Rainbow Cove. I told myself that I’d stopped for some water from my bottle, but I knew it was a weak excuse. Really, I’d been transfixed by the sight of Curtis Hunt carving up a giant tree trunk with his chainsaw.

For all that rumors flew about his eccentricity, the man was an unparalleled artist, and watching him do his thing was a true pleasure. Sweat dripped from his head and back despite the cool temperature, and he worked like a man possessed, moving this way and that around the piece, dancing almost as his chainsaw flitted about with the sort of grace I’d expect from the jeweler, not this buff lumberjack with heavy machinery.

He wore sawdust splattered jeans, heavy boots, safety goggles and ear protectors, but his red flannel shirt lay discarded on a nearby sculpture of a falcon, showing off his shimmering muscles and tats that even from a distance were impressive. For all that the guy had probably fifteen years on me, he was in amazing shape. Hell, if I had ink and muscles like that, I wouldn’t keep my shirt on, either. All the muscles made something warm unfurl in my gut, but I dismissed the low thrum of arousal as a never-happening-in-this-lifetime thing. Chances were very high that he’d laugh at any of my fantasies, especially the ones involving him, some rope, and his usual intense stare replaced with something closer to supplication.

But, a guy could still look. And want. So I took my time drinking my water, watching as the outline of a bird slowly emerged from the raw tree trunk.

In a town as tiny as Rainbow Cove, the rumor mill worked overtime, and I knew all the rumors about Curtis. Knew he’d lost his longtime lover a year or two ago and that the two of them had been mythic fixtures in the area. Curtis had apparently gotten more eccentric since the other guy had passed, moving into the old gas station he used as a gallery for his carvings, growing his own food, and going notoriously cranky about change.

And change was what had driven me to Rainbow Cove. Change was what my restaurant represented—hope that the area economy could find a new foothold in tourism. So it wasn’t surprising that Curtis didn’t seem to like my friends and me any. Probably wouldn’t appreciate me looking at him like he was a lumbersexual Tumblr all queued up for my viewing pleasure.  But damn, those muscles…

I gave myself last look before I pedaled away, heading away from the center of town, taking the turnoff that would lead me to the narrow residential road that skirted the beach to the south. I was alone on the road, glorious, vast gray skies and sprawling blue ocean my only companions. This was what I’d come to Rainbow Cove for, the space to be alone, the quietness that I’d only ever found before in a dojo. Portland was crowded, and not just with people. My parents’ expectations always loomed large, as did past mistakes and hurts, and the general hustle of the area made it hard to catch my breath, hard to think and breathe and simply be. The traffic. The noise. The demands. All of it had gotten to be too much for me, and when my friend Mason had proposed the idea of the bar and grille here on the coast, I’d leapt at the chance to start fresh, especially since I’d loved the coast from some of my earliest memories of family weekends away.

Eventually, my ride returned me to the tavern where Mason was signing off on a meat delivery from a local farm.

“Chef!” The driver greeted me with a wave as I locked up the bike. “We’ve got some new fillets in. Think you might want some for a special this week?”

My mind immediately flitted away the shirtless woodcarver and back to my real passion—cooking. I loved being the chef here, the guy who made the decisions and the specials. I’d had years of sous chef positions in Portland, growing ever more eager for my own menu, one where I could play with sauces and presentation and choose my own local ingredients.

“I’m picturing a peppercorn crusted fillet with red wine reduction.” I inspected packages Mason was loading into the freezer and fridge. We’d do most of our business with the endless stacks of burger patties, but I loved changing things up with my daily specials, too.

“Don’t know if anyone will pay fillet prices.” Mason shook his head. The slow winter season was starting to wear on my friend, who also served as our business manager. “You can try it as a special, but let’s not over-order.”

I reluctantly took a small order of fillets, ceding to Mason’s wishes, and rounded out my weekly specials plan with cheaper options like shepherd’s pie.

“How was your ride?” Mason asked after the delivery guy was on his way.

“Fine.” I didn’t feel the need to report on my perving of the woodcarver. It had been a little personal indulgence. Not to mention the fact that Mason’s police chief boyfriend, Nash Flint, was close friends with Curtis, which meant I’d be in for double the teasing if I let on that I’d let my eyes wander in that direction.

“You’re not too lonely, are you?” Mason pressed. “It’s your first winter on the coast, and I know that can be hard.”

“Not lonely,” I said, truthfully. I was so happy to be free of all the voices of Portland—my well-meaning parents, my ex, my aikido master, my many opinionated friends, the executive chefs and restaurant managers who hadn’t seen fit to promote me. The silence of the off season meant that for the first time in my life I was finally free to figure out my own direction, and I intended to seize that. I wasn’t telling Mason, but that was my New Year’s resolution—be the person I’d been reluctant to embrace in Portland. It was high time I took a chance on myself.

Purchase at AmazonMeet the Author

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer.

Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a rewarding day job and wrangles two children.

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Gray for You hit all the right notes

I might be your your fantasy. But I’m nobody’s forever…

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Spencer Spears’ second installment in the 8 Million Hearts series is a fun romp through the making of a high class porn film – yes there exists such a thing! In fiction at any rate, and centres on Gray, owner of Maggie’s Bar where Ben and Adam played their music in book one.

Now, you’d expect, it having the porn link (Gray is an ex New York porn star voted best in the game for four years running) that this book would be all about the sex.

But, surprisingly not. The other protagonist is former child star Tyler Lang, now in his early 20s and reeling after one two many disasters and a media storm of epic proportions.

He’s looking for something different, a way to take control of the life which had, up until his latest drugs related disaster (and oh how my heart went out to him when he couldn’t remember even buying the coke that had been found in his beat up minivan) been firmly operated by his presently estranged father (more on that ass later).

Their two worlds collide during the filming of a book which has been gaining attention as a high-brow, literary gay porn novel. Tyler is deliciously inexperienced but has a reputation for being a player, all untrue. He’s not even 100% sure he’s gay until he meets Gray and then watches one of his old scenes online.

For Gray, he’s been hanging on to the hope that his dick of a “boyfriend” will finally tell his family about them and admit they’re a couple when he’s dumped, yet again. He’s felt rejected and unworthy his whole life, with the exception of Maggie, who took him in, became his guardian angel and eventually left him her bar and a shedload of properties.

Together they start to navigate their way to a relationship which is both supportive and encouraging of each other, it’s beautiful to read how each opens up to the possibility that there might be someone who sees them for who they are.

#ARC received from the author in return for an honest and unbiased review

 

My favourite of the series

All Note Long (Perfect Harmony, #3)All Note Long by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Loved this one, just shades as my favourite of the three because Michelin needed Lucky to help him find his way but when he decided to go for it, he took it full on with no apology.

I felt so bad for Michelin through most of this book, I loved his demisexual status too and I think Annabeth did really well getting it across how he needed the emotional connection to let loose with his desires.

The sexual tensions in this one were both hot and steamy but also hugely emotional and tender and I loved how Lucky was quick to pick up on what was needed for Michelin to let himself free.

Great to see the guys from the other books, even in passing, and I liked the exploration of that last bastion of ‘traditions’ – country music – which is also finding it needs to move with the times when it comes to LGBTQ+ representation.

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Lots of humour make this delightful romance a hit

Hard For My BossHard For My Boss by Daryl Banner

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I like Daryl Banner’s style of writing, he has a wry sense of humour which helps to colour the edge of what he writes and stops it becoming too sweet.

This May to December romance has lots of highlights alongside a really gentle love affair as Trevor the intern falls for his boss.

It’s relatively low angst, the sexual tensions built up beautifully and it has a resolution which leads into a wonderful epilogue. Both Trevor and Ben are believable characters and there’s a good setting and world building to fit them in.

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