Tag Archives: angst

Blog Tour: Fight For You by Jaclyn Quinn

Fight For You | Jaclyn Quinn

Beyond The Cove #4

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Release Date: April 26,2020

Universal Link: http://mybook.to/FightForYou

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Blurb

Is this a love worth fighting for?

One man is haunted by a past he can’t outrun.

One man is branded by a legacy he can’t hide.

One man is burdened by a guilt he can’t deny.

The usually peaceful town of Riverside Falls has had its very core shaken by traumatic events. Three men find themselves at the center of it all, thrown together by circumstances beyond their control.

Sawyer Levy came to Riverside Falls four years ago to escape from…well…life, but when he finds himself in need of care, he’s forced to trust not one but two men for the first time in years.

Grant Belford is riddled with shame in the tragic aftermath of incidents he didn’t see coming, blaming himself for the terror that rocked his town over the last few months.

Captain Mason Lockley is struggling with the recent events that have shaken up the quiet town of Riverside Falls, tormented by one thought, over and over again: Did he miss the signs because of jealousy?

Having no choice but to lean on each other, the three men suffering with their own demons aren’t expecting to have such an undeniable connection—or to fall so hard. It’s a love they don’t understand, but will they realize it’s worth fighting for?

 

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Excerpt

Sawyer watched Grant’s hasty exit in complete bewilderment. He didn’t think it was just his imagination that Grant had been acting weird, but it didn’t help that his energy was fading quickly, and his mind was getting foggy. Mason approached the bed slowly, his attention moving from the door Grant had just fled through to Sawyer.

The look on the man’s face was an odd mix of frustration and longing. “What the hell was that all about?” Sawyer asked.

Mason huffed and slumped down in the chair next to the bed. Dark circles marred the skin under his blue, fatigued eyes. It had been a while since Sawyer had studied the features of a man, yet he found himself memorizing the golden hints in Mason’s perfectly styled, dark blond hair. In usual form, there wasn’t a strand out of place. A few days’ growth covered the bottom half of his face, surrounding a plump mouth that Sawyer had purposely ignored in the past. His sudden fascination with it burst like a bubble in mid-air when that mouth said, “He’s been here…every day…in this chair. Did you know that?”

Grant had? “Seriously?”

“He’s barely left your side since the day you were brought in. Hell, he told the staff you were family so they would tell us what condition you were in.” Mason sat with his arms crossed and a hard tick to his jaw. Why did Sawyer feel like the cop was interrogating him?

“I don’t get it; he hates me.” Lord knows, Sawyer had tried to hate Grant back, but there was something about the broody man that got under his skin. Something he didn’t want to acknowledge let alone feel at all. He’d ignored Grant for the past four years as much as he’d ignored his reaction to the man sitting in front of him.

Mason shifted his eyes toward the doorway Grant had just fled through. “Wish I could say I understood any of the decisions that man makes.” He set pensive eyes back on Sawyer, and for a split second, Sawyer felt like all the air had been sucked out of the room. “Would’ve made the last ten years a lot fucking easier.”

About The Author

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I have been an artist from a very young age. From drawing cartoon characters and evolving into portraits, making jewelry, photography, and now writing. I have an amazing support system in my family and friends and couldn’t be more grateful.

I live in central New Jersey, love summers at the Jersey Shore, rock music, wine, sexy men, and laughing a lot with my amazing friends and family. Sunday dinners at my parents’ house are crazy, hysterical and you can count on a movie quote…or ten…being thrown out. Insults between siblings is how we show our love for each other!

When I’m not creating, you can find me reading books from my favorite authors. I’m a hopeless romantic, starving for passionate characters and always craving that happy ending, whether in reading or in writing my own books.

https://linktr.ee/JQbooks

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Release Blitz: The Deeper You Go by Logan Grey

The Deeper You Go | Logan Grey

Heartbelt Records #1

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Release Date: May 5th, 2020

Universal Link: http://getbook.at/TheDeeperYouGo

Add to Goodreads:

 https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/53282808-the-deeper-you-go

the deeper you go (b&g)

Blurb

Travis Cherry’s record label disowned him in almost every way, shape, and form when he was outed in the media.

The thing that sucked?

He still owed them an entire album. But that didn’t meant he’d make it easy on them.
They were the reason he was there, in that nightclub—the gay nightclub— shaking his ass and making a complete fool of himself.

They were also the reason he met Bailey.

And this is their story.

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Excerpt

TRAVIS

A nightmare. That’s what his life had just turned into. One Travis Cherry had lived through time and time again, only for the sun to rise and save him. But this time he wouldn’t be waking up to discover it was all a dream. He stared down at the eleven missed calls on his phone from various people in his life and shook his head, not really seeing what was in front of him. It was like his brain couldn’t quite catch up to what he knew to be true.

He kept waiting for his alarm to go off and shatter the illusion of the dream, but he knew it would never come. This was real, and it was time to face the music.

He swiped over the most recent call, the most urgent one, and swallowed hard as he pressed the speaker button. Hanging his head, he propped his elbows on his knees and stared at the floor as the dial tone shattered the silence of his apartment.

“Travis! It’s about time you answered that damned phone. I assume you’ve seen the news, yes?”

As his mother’s voice rang loud and clear through his apartment, he glanced across the room to the muted television. Without sound, the entertainment newscaster mimed excitement over the most recent breaking scandal. His breaking scandal.

Clearing his throat sharply, he tried to force his voice out. “Yeah. Yeah, I’ve seen it.”

She paused for a long moment, and Travis’s vision tunneled, his surroundings blurring into a fog he couldn’t touch or see but was real all the same.

“Honey… You know it’s okay, right? I mean, I’ve known for the longest time.”

His heart skipped a beat as his breath exploded, the fog fading until the familiar pattern of his hardwood floor was visible once more. “You have?” he croaked out.

Even her scoff sounded southern, and Travis could have cried were he still not so shell shocked by the news. “I’m not blind, nor am I stupid. This isn’t really how I wanted you to tell me, but I’ll take it if the only other option was never to say anything. I mean, really—”

Travis threaded a hand through his hair and shut his eyes. “Mom, I’m sorry.”

“Well, I mean, I guess it’s okay. It’s really not a big deal, you know. But at least I’ll have something to talk about in book club now. Susan will be so pissed. I can’t wait to put her in her place.”

Shaking his head, Travis allowed himself a smile at his mother’s antics. “Mom, please don’t parade around the breaking news of my sexuality. I really—I need to figure things out with the label first. Hold off on all that, please?”

“Fine. But you let me know when you’ve got everything squared away. They’re all always bragging about their grandkids and new marriages and all that bullshit. Now I’ve got something to one up them with.”

Travis swallowed. “Mom, is telling everyone you have a gay son really worth bragging about?”

“Well, considering I haven’t been able to say anything about your love life thus far, Mr. Rock Star, I’d say it’s a major step forward. Maybe Susan will shut her whore mouth about Bethany and her stupid grand baby. It’s not even here yet, and it’s all we talk about all the time.”

Travis finally laughed, he couldn’t help it. “Thanks, Mom,” he said quietly.

“Shut your mouth. You have nothing to thank me for. But if anyone gives you any trouble, you let me know. I’ll open a can of whoop-ass on—”

“Mom! It’s fine. It’ll be fine,” he insisted with a smile, even though he wasn’t sure if he spoke the truth yet. The next phone call would be the deciding factor.

“It better be. If you need to come home for a few days, you know your room is—”

“I know. Thanks again. I’ll uh… I mean, I still need to call the label and make sure everything is okay.”

His stomach knotted at just the thought, but he hoped his mother’s reaction was a good omen.

“Alright, call me if you need to talk. I love you, and nothing is going to change that, you know?”

“I know.” Now, he added silently. “Bye, Mom. Love you too.”

After he ended the call, he squeezed the phone between his fingers and sighed.

All his life, he’d known he couldn’t control how other people reacted when he came out. But part of him had at least held on to the power that he could control who knew.

And that power had been stripped from him with just a few photos.

He glared at the television, the red bar scrolling across the bottom in all caps.

TRAVIS CHERRY EXPOSED.

Photos appeared on the screen, blurry ones that had been blurred even more to conceal the very exposed parts of him… and the other man he’d been with.

So he hadn’t been able to control it after all. Coming out, that was. But he couldn’t help the relief filling him, and once he recognized it for what it was, he could breathe again. No, he hadn’t made the decision to reveal to the world that he was gay, but now that it was out, he felt a thousand pounds lighter.

The phone slipped from his fingers to bounce against the floor. I don’t have to hide.

He didn’t have to hide anymore, he didn’t have to pretend to date women who were really just very close friends. No more lying, no more—

The phone buzzed on the floor, muffled against the carpet and he gulped as his agent’s name lit up the screen.

Leaning down, he lifted the phone from the floor with a shaky grip. Swiping to answer the call, he parted his lips to say hello, but before he could even get a word out, his agent blurted, “Are they real?”

The intensity of her voice surprised him, and he blinked, unsure how to answer.

“Travis, the photos? Are they real?”

Finally, he cleared his throat and answered, “Yes. Yeah, they’re real.”

Over the line, she sucked in a deep breath and released it, and Travis sat up straighter. It didn’t sound like a sigh of relief, and he suddenly feared whatever came next.

“It’s fine. We can get ahead of it. If anyone contacts you, just deny. Deny, deny, deny. The label is already working on discovering who leaked the photos. All we have to do is—”

“Wait,” Travis interrupted, and waved a hand through the air as if she could see him. “Wait, what? What do you mean?”

The pause through the line was more telling than anything she could ever say aloud, and Travis’s heart sank. “Travis, Diamond Nights Records does not want to represent a gay artist. For legal reasons they may not say as such, but you know they’re going to make your life a living hell if you don’t fight this.”

Frustration made his chest tighten.

“But…” He slumped down before he just gave up and laid back on the bed, swiping a hand over his face. “What if I don’t want to deny it? That would just be more lying.”

He’d only woken up an hour before, if that, but in that short period of time, the thought of freedom, of not hiding, was too sweet to ignore. Now that it was all out there, he didn’t want to pretend it was a lie.

She didn’t speak for a long time, instead he heard the clicks of keys as she typed something. “They can’t break the contract with me just because of my sexual orientation. That’s discrimination, right? We could sue them for that,” he reasoned.

“Yes, true. However, while they won’t break your contract for this, they’ll just make your life very, very hard until you break the contract. And if you do, you’ll owe them a lot of money, Travis.”

“Can’t we just amicably part ways or something?”

“Your contract says you still owe them an album,” she argued. “That’s a lot of potential income they wouldn’t want to miss out on.”

He sighed, his stomach rolling with nausea at the thought. “They’re the ones wanting you to shove this all under the rug, aren’t they?” Her pause was all the confirmation he needed. “You’re supposed to be on my side.”

“No, Travis, I’m on your career’s side. And from a business standpoint, working against your label instead of with them is not a good idea.”

Right then, Travis couldn’t give less of a shit about the label or the album he owed them or anything they wanted from him.

“We can get ahead of this, we just have to release a statement directly claiming the photos are fake, and eventually they’ll forget about it.”

As her words sank in, he let his phone fall to the bed beside him as she laid out a step by step plan to shove him back into the closet. To tell more lies, to erase the evidence, and discredit the witnesses. It didn’t matter if anyone believed his lie, so long as he didn’t ruin the image of Diamond Nights.

It was one thing for some stranger to reveal his secret to the world, but it was completely different for his label to prefer the lies over his truth. Prefer a persona he’d created to who he really was.

A feature film played out in his mind of what his life would be like if he went along with their plan, if he followed their rules. He’d live even more of a lie, deny who he was for the sake of his career, and write an album—all for them. Assuming he could even find the inspiration to finish it, he’d then go on tour, and pretend the entire time that he wasn’t a total fraud, and the label would make money off his music. His name. His creation. And Travis would have to live with that while knowing that they didn’t support or accept who he was, not truly. They only valued him for what he could bring them. So long as he upheld their image.

An idea snaked its way into his head, and once he fully envisioned it, he couldn’t let it go.

What if he didn’t uphold their image?

“Annie, you’ve been great. But you’re fired,” he stated.

“Wait, what? Travis—”

He hung up on her and tossed his phone to the side, ignoring it when she immediately called back.

If he couldn’t drop the label, he’d just have to make it so they didn’t want to represent him as an artist anymore.

~~~

Lights pulsed around him, throbbing and flashing in time with his heartbeat. Music thumped through the club just like his pulse beneath his skin. Sweat dripped down his forehead, but whether that was from the bodies crushing against him or the amount of alcohol he’d swallowed, he didn’t know.

All he did know was that finally, for the first time in weeks, he was free.

We can get ahead of it.

A voice trailed through his head, the memory pulling his lips into a frown, but he tried to push it aside. More than anything, he wanted to lose himself in the sexy twink who was grinding against him, take the guy home, and fuck his brains out. He wanted to stay in this club forever—just another face, just another body in the sea of other bodies. All his problems dumped at the door while he remained an anonymous person with needs. With thoughts. With feelings.

You’re a risk.

Shaking his head against the persistent memory, he slid his palms against the chest of the guy in front of him, fingers drifting across his nipples through the mesh shirt he wore. His head of red hair leaned back onto his shoulder to mix with his own dark locks as their hips swayed together to the furious beat. Head to toe, they were plastered against one another, and he’d never reveled in another person quite that way. Had never allowed himself to. Travis leaned down to lick a stripe up his neck, the saltiness of his sweat like candy against his tongue.

Deny, deny, deny.

Groaning, he threw his head back and stared at the strobes above. The lights were blinding, his heart pounded, and his memories were tenacious. Before he got sick, he tugged the twink with him and pushed through the crowd.

It wasn’t until they were in the back hallway, the lights dimmer and consistent, not flashing like those on the dance floor, that his flavor of the night recognized him.

“Hey, don’t I know you?” he asked, tilting his head to the side in a way that made Travis want to devour him.

“Probably. I’m Travis Cherry.”

His eyes sparkled with recognition. “Oh my god, I love your music.”

He shrugged. “Thanks. Sorry to pull you away. I needed a minute.” More like a distraction.

“That’s okay,” he murmured as he moved closer. “I think I prefer having you to myself instead of sharing you with all those bumping bodies.”

“Just my line of thinking,” Travis replied with a smirk, framing his face with his hands, and taking his mouth like he fuckin’ owned it. Took the rest of him too, before he’d snuck away before the break of dawn.

The next morning, images of himself and the twink wrapped in one another were plastered all over the Internet—scandal.

The next weekend he went to another club. Drank his nerves away and swayed to another beat with another guy.

His night out was trending everywhere the next morning.

The following weeks were more of the same. He drank, he partied a lot, and he let loose more than he ever had before. Travis danced on bars shirtless and kissed random men on the street just so the cameras could blind him with their nosy flashes. Hell, he even tipped them off to his whereabouts so he’d always have an audience.

The afternoons were spent ripping his hair out over lyrics that wouldn’t come, melodies that wouldn’t match.

The evenings became his escape from it all. Drinking, smoking, and kissing.

One morning, several weeks, several scandals, and too many nameless men later, his phone rang. It vibrated the glass table in front of him, seeming loud in the silence of the early hour.

His cheeks concaved as he sucked on a cigarette, pulling the smoke into his lungs as he answered the phone. He didn’t say hello when he pressed accept.

“William would like to schedule a meeting with you,” a bright, feminine voice said.

“When?” he questioned on an exhale, the cloud of smoke pouring into the cold air to dissipate before his eyes. Just like his career.

“As soon as possible.”

“I’ll be there by ten.”

The call ended. Travis leaned over in his balcony chair and stubbed his cigarette into the concrete with a bitter grin.

‘Bout damn time.

About The Author

TAGLINE

Logan Grey resides in Tennessee, convinced her southern twang is part of her charm. With two cats and a dog, her hands are full, and not just of treats like her pets would like to believe.

As a full time author, she dedicates all of her time bringing to life different characters and developing new worlds for her readers to lose themselves in. And more often than not, she loses herself in them, which is her favorite place to be: with a cat in her lap, a snack in hand, and voices in her head.

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Website: https://lanakoleauthor.com

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To celebrate Logan’s new release, we are giving you a chance to win a $20 Amazon Gift Card

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Release Blitz & Blog Tour: Burn Zone by Annabeth Albert

Burn Zone | Annabeth Albert

Hotshots #1

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Publisher: Carina Press

eBook On-Sale: April 27, 2020

Length: approx. 90,000 words

Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Burn-Zone-Hotshots-Book-1-ebook/dp/B07YCQ7VQW

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/burn-zone-annabeth-albert/1133792901

iTunes: https://books.apple.com/us/book/burn-zone/id1481346634

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/burn-zone-2

Google: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Annabeth_Albert_Burn_Zone?id=3eWxDwAAQBAJ

READ MY REVIEW

Burn Zone cover

Blurb

Danger lurks everywhere for Central Oregon’s fire crews, but the biggest risk of all might be losing their hearts…

Smoke jumper Lincoln Reid is speechless to see Jacob Hartman among his squad’s new recruits. Linc had promised his late best friend he’d stay away from his little brother. And yet here Jacob is…and almost instantly, the same temptation Linc has always felt around him is causing way too many problems.

Jacob gets everyone’s concerns, but he’s waited years for his shot at joining the elite smoke jumping team, hoping to honor his brother’s memory. He’s ready to tackle any challenge Linc throws his way, and senses the chemistry between them—chemistry Linc insists on ignoring—is still alive and kicking. This time, Jacob’s determined to get what he wants.

Close quarters and high stakes make it difficult for Linc to keep his resolve, never mind do so while also making sure the rookie’s safe. But the closer they get, the more Linc’s plan to leave at the end of the season risks him breaking another promise: the one his heart wants to make to Jacob.

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Annabeth joins us with an excerpt from Burn Zone

I’m so excited to be here today celebrating BURN ZONE, my latest release, which launches my new Hotshots series from Carina Press and is available at all your favorite retailers & in print!

This has many of my favorite tropes, including older brother’s best friend with a forbidden romance between two smoke jumpers on the same team. For today’s excerpt, long time readers know I love to bring the heat! And in a fire fighting series, you know the chemistry is going to be sizzling!

This is the lead up to the first love scene, and I so enjoyed writing this one and the almost palpable tension as they finally give into all that longing and want. They’re an explosive duo together, one of my very favorite that I’ve had the pleasure of writing! I hope you enjoy them both as much as I do!

***

Linc had expected the crunch of tires on gravel that evening, but he still couldn’t stop the mix of dread and anticipation and lust at war in his gut as Jacob’s truck pulled into view. He let the dogs out as Jacob parked, making his way to the front porch slowly, trying to tone down his own eagerness. Shadow and Bandit could handle the foolish devotion for him. They both danced around Jacob, mesmerized as usual.

“Who’s a good dog? Is it you?” Jacob dispersed lavish amounts of praise and pats on the way to the house, coming to stand in front of him. Like Linc, he’d show­ered since work, arriving with unstyled damp hair and a fresh blue hoodie that advertised one of the local ski resorts. His smile, however, was far less cocky than Linc had expected. He’d won. He should be strutting.

And Linc wasn’t even sure what part of the week had made him give in to Jacob’s crazy idea. Jacob’s increased competence, taking on new tasks and skills with an ease that settled some of Linc’s nerves about his ability to do the work, was strangely appealing. Work­ing alongside him did something for Linc’s soul that he’d never really been able to explain, but it was deeper than lust, more than the physical appeal of watching his muscles flex. It was the appreciation and joy with which Jacob approached every task. With each jump, his enthusiasm was infectious, making Linc see the mundane with fresh eyes. And perversely, there was also the way he’d been nothing other than professional all week. Distant even. Making Linc crave his usual flirty closeness and making him more restless with each passing day even as he respected the hell out of Jacob not continuing to push.

Finally, there had been this moment out there today when Jacob had looked like an angel disguised as a lumberjack, an almost reverent expression on his face as he’d taken in his surroundings. Maybe that was the moment Linc had known. He wasn’t ever getting over this through sheer force of will. There was want, which he had denied years now, and then there was need, this new level of attraction bolstered by the knowledge of what Jacob smelled and tasted like. Need didn’t listen to reason, cared not about well-thought-out rationale, and need continued to grow, wild and frantic. It was all kinds of ridiculous, giving Jacob’s plan a try, but he was simply that desperate.

“You’re not sending me away. Not this time.” Jacob sized him up, determined eyes, stubborn tilt to his chin.

“Nope.”

“Good.” One step. Two. Three, and they were face-to-face on the porch. Long inhale as their eyes met. Held. They’d kissed in grief, and they’d kissed in frustration, but Linc still hadn’t kissed him deliberately, in full control of his judgment and knowing exactly what was likely to happen the moment Jacob crossed the threshold to the house. The moment dragged on, charged, neither of them backing down, but no one taking that last step.

“You should come in.” Linc swallowed hard. If Jacob was waiting for some sort of signal, that might be the best Linc had in him, suddenly as unsure as a teenager. But maybe that invitation was all he needed to do, because Jacob grabbed his wrist, tugging him into the house, dogs rushing ahead of them. He swiveled to get the door, and when he turned back, Jacob was on him, pressing him into the wall. He might be younger, but there wasn’t a damn thing timid about him, and hell if that didn’t rev Linc even further.

Stretching, Jacob claimed his mouth with more of that intoxicating aggression. His lips were warm and soft and everything Linc had tried so hard not to remember. But his body did, each note of his taste and scent a familiar melody until he was welcoming Jacob like a long-lost lover with a groan. He let Jacob have his fun, plundering Linc’s mouth with an eager, needy tongue, until the last shred of his control snapped, and he had to take over. Nipping and sucking at Jacob’s lips, he drank in every moan and gasp. Fuck but he loved how Jacob didn’t back down one inch, sucking hard on Linc’s tongue, until Linc was no longer sure who was leading, only that it was all better than it had ever been because it was Jacob and he was right here, right now.

About The Author

Annabeth Albert

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.

Social Media

Website: http://annabethalbert.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/annabethalbert

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/annabeth_albert/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6477494.Annabeth_Albert

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Annabeth-Albert/e/B00LYFFAZK

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New Release Blitz: The Parable of the Mustard Seed by Lisa Henry

The Parable of the Mustard Seed | Lisa Henry

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Release Date: April 3rd, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79,000 words

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Blurb

The past never stays buried forever.

John Faimu is an Australian-Samoan police officer who deals with hurt kids every day. He loves what he does, but he’s tired of the grind of shift work, and of trying to find a balance between his job, his family, and the young man who straddles the increasingly blurry line between both.

Caleb Fletcher was the teenager John saved from a cult eight long years ago, and he’s now the young man John wants in ways that neither of them should risk.

Eight years after his rescue, Caleb is still struggling with PTSD and self-harm. John has always been his rock, but now Caleb wants more. Can he convince John to cross a line and love him the way they both crave? And when the monsters from Caleb’s past come back seeking to silence him for good, will John’s love be enough to save him?

The Parable of the Mustard Seed is an MM gay romance featuring hurt/comfort, first times, found family, and angst with a happy ending.

Excerpt

Fucking hospitals.

John scrubbed his knuckles over his scalp. He felt more tired now than he had for a long time, and it wasn’t just the shift work. It was Caleb, and this place, and the knowledge that they’d been here before and they would be here again. Different hospitals, different beds, different scratchy blankets and too-cold air conditioning, but all of them stuck in the same old cycle.

Eight years of this.

It wasn’t always this dramatic. Most of the time it didn’t end in a hospital. Most of the time it was increasingly erratic behaviour. It was risk-taking. It was subtle and pervasive, but John knew how to read the signs. He’d talked Caleb down from plenty of metaphorical high places before. Enough to wonder every time if he was only delaying the inevitable. If Darren was, and the psychiatrists and psychologists were, and the pharmacists.

John sighed.

Of course it felt hopeless. It was almost three in the morning and he was sitting in a fucking hospital. Shit always felt dire in the middle of the night.

John reached out and brushed his fingertips against the back of Caleb’s right hand. His skin was cold to the touch, his fingers white and bloodless. Several of his knuckles were grazed. The wounds weren’t fresh.

Darren had said last week that Caleb had punched a wall. Out of nowhere. No warnings signs, no meltdown, just a sudden, furious burst of anger that had broken over him. And afterward, Darren said, when Caleb was sitting on the floor nursing an icepack, he’d refused to talk about it.

Sometimes even Caleb didn’t know what the fuck was happening in his head.

John’s fingertips brushed the wrinkled edge of the tape that held the canula in the back of Caleb’s hand. The plastic tape was dry and rough.

“I bleed and you’re here.”

Fuck.

John straightened and turned his face toward Caleb’s. His face was pale, his lips colourless. Dark circles carved out hollows under his eyes.

“Your dad called me,” John said. “He’s on his way.”

Caleb’s gaze dropped away.

John leaned closer and frowned. “What the fuck are you doing, mate?”

“Bad night.” Caleb pressed his lips into a thin white line.

“Were you clubbing?” John gestured at his clothes: dark jeans, a tight shirt, and—what were the kids calling them these days?—expensive kicks.

Caleb inspected the bandages on his arm. “Yeah.”

“What happened?”

“Nothing.”

“Don’t bullshit me, Caleb.” John was always there to pick up the pieces, but he didn’t coddle Caleb. He never had, not even at the start. “You think I drove all the way here to listen to you lie to me?”

“I was with a guy.” Caleb flinched as he said it.

“Were you safe?”

Caleb’s gaze faltered. “I was with a guy.”

“So you said.” John wondered what reaction Caleb had been expecting. “Were you safe?”

Caleb nodded, turning his face away.

John studied him for a moment, unsure how to react. A part of him was afraid to react at all in case any reaction was an overreaction. Caleb wasn’t coming out as gay—he’d done that at nineteen—but by admitting to a sexual encounter he was coming out in another way: Caleb was coming out as a human being who wanted to be touched. A human being with sexual needs. This was a big step. The biggest in a long time. Nobody had expected him to remain celibate forever; nobody thought that was remotely healthy. But fuck, this big step had turned into a hell of a stumble, hadn’t it? Caleb was in freefall.

John reached out and squeezed Caleb’s shoulder. “Did this guy try something? Something you didn’t want to do?”

“No.” Caleb shifted. His worried gaze found John again. “No, it was me, not him.”

John nodded.

“We went to a hotel.” Caleb’s gaze slipped away again. “He said I was a slut.” His voice hitched. “Said I was bad.”

John moved his hand from Caleb’s shoulder to his cheek. Caleb was still so cold. “If you tell me he was being a prick, I’ll track the fucker down.”

“The way he said it, I was supposed to like it. Wasn’t his fault.” Caleb closed his eyes. “I didn’t even mind, not much, not when he was there.”

John sighed. “What happened when he left?”

Caleb shuddered. “When he left, all I could hear in my head was Ethan.”

John tensed, and tried not to let Caleb feel it.

“So loud,” Caleb sighed.

John withdrew his hand. “Look at me.”

Caleb opened his eyes.

“Next time you hear Ethan Gray in your head, you don’t listen to him.” John shook his head. “You call your dad, or your doctor, or you call me, doesn’t matter what time, you call me and I will be there. You understand me?”

Caleb jerked his chin in a nod.

“You don’t cut yourself, Caleb.” John frowned. “You understand me?”

“Okay,” Caleb murmured.

The worst part, John knew, was that Caleb meant it, and would go on meaning it right up until the next time he was holding a blade against his wrists.

You’ll break my heart one day, Caleb Fletcher, I know you will.

John forced a smile. “Okay.”

Caleb sighed and closed his eyes.

John watched him until he fell asleep, then got up and hunted down a blanket.

About the Author

LH-Avatar

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn’t know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she’s too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.
She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Lisa has been published since 2012, and was a LAMBDA finalist for her quirky, awkward coming-of-age romance Adulting 101, and a Rainbow Awards finalist for 2019’s Anhaga.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | eMail | Instagram

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Blog Tour: The Pathfinders by Geoffrey Knight

The Pathfinders | Geoffrey Knight

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Release Date: March 12, 2020

Length: 163 Pages

Universal Link: http://mybook.to/ThePathfinders

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Blurb

JACK

Hell, I knew the divorce from Sophie would break my heart, but I had no idea how lost and lonely I would feel once she was gone. Everything ended amicably, almost too peacefully, but now I’m facing a whole new chapter of my life. The only problem is, I don’t know what that chapters holds, or if anyone will ever be there to catch me if I fall again.

My only savior right now is my cousin and best friend Hux. We’ve known each other just about our whole lives, and his invitation up to the woods to help him rebuild the old cabin by Pathfinders Lake could be the one thing I need to figure out what plans the universe has in store for me… and the path I need to find.

HUX

Hell, I knew Jack’s divorce from Sophie would break his heart, but I had no idea it would bring to the surface all the yearning and pain and hopelessness I’ve felt over the years. The fact is, Jack’s the one and only person I ever want to spend the rest of my life with. But how do you tell your best friend—your cousin—how you truly feel?

I know I need to help him through the dark days following his divorce, but will I be able to keep myself from betraying all his trust by letting my true feelings show? Will inviting him up to the woods to help me rebuild the old cabin by Pathfinders Lake be the end of our relationship? Or will we finally find our very own path in this world together?

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Excerpt

OH. My. Fuck.

Jack was gonna strip. He was seriously gonna strip and go skinny-dipping, right there, right then. I knew that look on his face.

“Ah… Jack? What are you doing?”

“What does it look like I’m doing?”

“It looks like you’re about to get naked.”

“Finish your beer and grab another,” he told me. “I’m in the mood to feel young and daring again. Like the old days at the quarry. I wanna feel free again, Hux. Don’t you?”

I chugged down the rest of another bottle in one gulp, watching as his shirt came off, revealing that toned, smooth torso of his.

“You seriously wanna go skinny-dipping?”

He unraveled the bandage around his hand. He unbuttoned his shorts, then unzipped them. “Why not?”

He dropped his shorts to the jetty boards and stepped out of them. Then, sliding his thumbs under the waistband of his briefs at the hips, he pushed his underwear down the length of his strong legs, kicked them out from under his feet, and stood upright in all his naked glory.

I stared up at him, trying to keep my mouth shut, my eyes close to watering as I marveled at his perfect form, his handsome face smiling somewhat nervously back down at me. His muscles were white in the bright sunlight. His nipples were hard even though the air was hot and still. His cock, the one I had tried so many times not to stare at, was flaccid and thick, but I could see it was gaining length with each passing moment that I stared at it.

I wondered whether I was allowed to stare at it, now that I had come out.

Or whether it was completely off limits forever.

As if to answer my question, Jack said, “It’s okay, you can look at it. I don’t mind. In fact, I think I kinda like it. I’m a single man now. So are you. We’re already stripped bare. What do clothes matter now?”

God, he shrugged so casually I could have kissed him.

Before I had a chance, Jack launched himself off the jetty and dived into the lake.

My heart was a thunderstorm of excitement.

Of terror.

Of panic when he didn’t surface after a few moments.

Suddenly he broke through the water and flicked his black hair out of his eyes, and with that enticing grin of his he said, “Well? Are you coming in?”

I sucked in a breath. “I would, but I’m kinda… you know.”

Jack just laughed. “Hard again?”

I nodded almost guiltily, but Jack just responded with, “I’d be insulted if you weren’t, knowing what I know now. So, are you coming in or what?”

He splashed me with water and drenched my shirt and shorts. He seemed determined to get me wet, either in or out of clothes.

“Okay, okay. Calm down, Flipper.”

He made a dolphin noise then turned and dipped under the water, the moons of his bare ass briefly breaking the surface before he submerged.

“You fucking tease,” I muttered to myself as I watched his air bubbles leave a trail through the water, heading away from me. “You have no idea what you’re doing to me.”

Or did he?

He surfaced again and called out once more, “Come on!” before breast-stroking his way to the middle of the lake.

I took a deep breath and stood from the edge of the jetty. I hesitated a moment longer, enough to make me try and imagine what would happen next. Naturally one of the many fantasies I’d kept buried deep my entire life began playing in my head.

The cool, shimmering water.

The movement of our feet treading water to keep us afloat.

The kiss I would suddenly steal, wet and tender.

And his reaction?

“Just keep your shit together,” I warned myself quietly. “He’s trying to prove that things are still normal between us. Don’t fuck it up.”

With another breath I peeled my T-shirt off and began to unzip my shorts. The bulge in my crotch was impossible to hide so there was no point trying. All I could do was act like it was no big deal. Like everything was still normal between us, right?

Anxiously I pushed my shorts down to my ankles and stepped out of them.

As I did, my enormous hard-on slapped up against my hairy belly.

“Woah,” called Jack from the lake. “You really do need to keep a leash on that thing, don’t ya.”

I felt myself blush, but I knew there was no malice in his remark. Hell, he was just using humor to deal with the situation, to make it feel like this was no biggie, excuse the pun. After all, he would have made the same joke before he knew I was gay, so why hold back from using it now?

“Jealous much,” I joked back. “Envy won’t make yours any bigger, you know.”

Yes, everything was just as it had always been.

At least that was the line we were both trying to walk. We sounded like teenagers unable to face the situation with any amount of seriousness. We relied on wisecracks to avoid my coming out turning our friendship into a train wreck. We chose levity over gravity, as men often do. Was I truly expecting anything else?

I wondered if he had detected the overcompensation in my words. I wondered if he knew he was trying too hard to overcompensate too. Or whether he was convinced by his own denial that me being gay changed nothing.

I honestly didn’t know what he was thinking.

I wasn’t sure he even knew himself.

All I knew was, I couldn’t stand there a moment longer thinking about it.

Quickly I dived into the lake, swimming as far as I could under the water before breaking the surface and freestyling toward him. I stopped swimming and started treading water a short distance from him. I wouldn’t allow myself to get any closer.

“Okay, so you win. I’m wet. I’m naked. We’re skinny-dipping. Happy now?” I asked.

It was Jack who paddled closer to me, stopping within a few feet of me. Our arms swished the water and my fingers accidentally brushed his forearm. I felt my hard dick flinch. I tried to glance down, to see if my cock was noticeable through the water. The lake was crisp and clear and the shape of my dick rippled under the waves, unmistakeably hard.

But then again, so was Jack’s.

Water splashed into my mouth. I swallowed some of it and coughed up the rest, quickly looking up before I got caught eyeing Jack’s hard-on.

It was too late.

“Yes, I’m happy now,” he said, answering my question. “See? Not threatened. Nothing’s changed. Just like the old days.”

Playfully he lunged at me in the water and pushed me under. I got a breath of air just before disappearing under the surface, then wrestled my way out of his grip. For a moment I was there, submerged and directly facing his distinctly erect penis.

I couldn’t take it anymore.

I broke the surface with a splash, sucked in a lungful of air and said, “Okay, wait. Stop. I have to say something.”

Jack was about to splash me again but he saw the troubled look on my face and stopped. “Hux? What’s the matter?”

“This,” I said, gesturing to the two of us. “This is the matter. Us pretending that nothing’s changed when in fact a lot has changed. Jack, I just told you I’m gay. I know it’s still the same old me, but that doesn’t mean I want to shrug off that fact that the two of us should maybe try to deal with who I am now. I can finally be myself around you. I don’t want to keep pretending to be someone when you’re only seeing half the man I am. I want you to know all of me.”

For a moment I almost kept going. I almost blurted out how much I loved him, how I had been in love with him since the day we met. But I slammed the door on that fast. Coming out to him was already a big deal and he was trying to deal with it as best he could. He didn’t need me to bury him in an avalanche of secrets and revelations.

And so I held it in.

We treaded water for a few moments longer, just looking at one another.

Then quietly Jack said, “I do wanna know all of you, Hux.” He paused and added, “But that’s not all I want. There’s something else.”

“What is it?”

“I want you to kiss me.”

I creased my brow and squinted my eyes at him, as though the words I’d heard couldn’t possibly be the same words he just said. “What did you say?”

It took him a while to repeat it, as though he was considering backing out and changing his words to something else. But he didn’t. “I said I want you to kiss me. Will you kiss me?”

I kinda gave a half-smile of disbelief. My face didn’t know what it wanted to do. “What are you saying? Are you saying now that I’m out you’re feeling all… I dunno… gay curious? I think you’ve had one too many beers. Are you drunk?”

Jack shrugged and his arms made angel-wing movements through the water. He looked more beautiful to me in that confused moment than ever before. I had no idea why I insisted on asking questions and delaying something I’d dreamt of almost my entire life. Maybe I was having trouble accepting that what was happening was indeed real and not another fantasy. Maybe now that my wish might finally come true, I was petrified of what consequences it might hold. Or maybe I was holding back, terrified he was about to burst out laughing at any second and tell me he was just joking. My heart couldn’t have survived that kind of taunting and rejection.

But Jack didn’t laugh.

His gaze didn’t flinch, and neither did the earnest expression on his face. “I’m not drunk. Well, not that drunk. But maybe I am a little… I dunno… gay curious, maybe? I don’t really know. I don’t know what I want anymore. I don’t really know who I am. I’ve been with Sophie for so long, I’m not sure who I’ve grown into. Part of me doesn’t even want to find out.” He swam closer to me then and added, “But part of me does.”

My heart was a drummer with delusions of grandeur. My stomach was a sheet in a washing machine, twisting itself into knots. I didn’t know what to say other than, “You want a kiss?”

Jack paused. Then nodded. “I do. But not here. Take me inside. Take me to your bed.”

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About The Author

Geoffrey Knight is the author of more than 25 gay fiction novels, novellas and short stories, ranging in genre from gay adventure, gay romance, gay suspense and gay comedies. He is the recipient of two Rainbow Awards including Best Mystery Winner and Best Overall Gay Fiction Runner-up. His work has been featured in several anthologies including Best Gay Erotica 2013, and he appeared as Guest of Honor at the inaugural Rainbow Con in Florida, 2014.

Geoffrey has worked in advertising, politics and journalism, but nothing is as fun as telling stories. He lives with his partner, their young daughter and their small furry family in a rambling old house in North Queensland, Australia, where the paint is fraying and life is good.

Social Media

Facebook: https://facebook.com/Geoffy.knight

Twitter: @FathomsFive

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Geoffrey-Knight/e/B002F89TV6

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Release Blitz: The Rivalry by Beth Bolden

The Rivalry | Beth Bolden

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Cover Artist: AngstyG Design

Release Date: March 9, 2020

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 100,000 words

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Amazon Link

Amazon US | Amazon UK

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Blurb

The first time NFL quarterback Heath Harris meets Sam Crawford, it’s just them, a luxury yacht and a few days of fun in the sun. Sam turns out to be nothing like Heath expects. He’s kind and funny and irreverent—and also unbelievably, shockingly sexy. For three short, glorious, life-changing days, there are no rules.

The second time they meet, Sam has just been traded to Heath’s team, and instead of lovers, they’ve become rivals instead. Heath has spent the last five years working desperately to be the best quarterback the Riptide could ever need, but when injuries threaten to derail his career, Sam is right there, standing on the sideline. Ready to take over, and ready to ruin everything Heath has given his life for.

Rival. Enemy. Teammate. Friend. Lover.

As their orbits collide, sparks fly, and Heath struggles to find the right label and the right box to shove Sam into, hoping to keep him contained. But Sam—and Heath’s feelings—refuse to cooperate.

Sam might not be just one of those things, he might be all of them, and so much more.

THE RIVALRY BLURB

Excerpt

Heath had forced himself not to get (even more) self-conscious when he changed into his swim trunks. You work your ass off in the weight room, he told himself firmly, you look good. But it was hard to ever imagine he looked as good as Sam did. Sam looked . . . Heath forced himself not to think about it, because the last thing he needed was to get hard in his trunks right now.

Brooke was already lying out on the open deck, a skimpy bikini revealing all her best assets. “Drew and Mark already took the skiff out with Captain Tom,” she said when Heath and Sam approached.

“Yeah, we’re going for a swim,” Sam said.

“And share secret quarterback tips? You two have fun.” Brooke’s knowing expression was baffling, but maybe she thought it was weird they were hanging out because they played for different teams.

“Uh,” Heath said, and then latched on to the bin of sunscreen options next to her. “We should put some protection on . . .”

Both Brooke and Sam looked at him shocked. “Um,” he realized, “sun protection.”

“Right,” Sam said, grinning. “You first.” Instead of the easy spray option, Sam plucked a bottle of lotion from the selection. Heath went hot and then cold, realizing that Sam definitely intended to touch him all over, and he was somehow going to have to keep his erection under control.

Normally, that wouldn’t have even been an issue, but somehow his dick had discovered its purpose in life after meeting Sam. He was already half-hard now, and as soon as Sam touched him, all bets were going to be off.

The lotion was cold as Sam squirted it onto his back, and that helped initially, but then his hands, warm and broad and confident, were there, smoothing the cream all over his back and shoulders. He used soft, long strokes, like he was both trying to reassure Heath and turn him on, all at the same time—even though Heath knew that couldn’t possibly be true. When his fingers drifted lower, nearly hitting the waistband of his swim trunks, Heath nearly gasped. It was the most erotic application of sunscreen that Heath had ever experienced, and the only thing that kept him from totally busting out of his trunks was latching on to the thought of how smelly Bran’s locker was by the end of the season.

“My turn,” Sam said, and to Heath’s surprise, his own voice was rather gravelly. Like he’d actually enjoyed touching Heath.

Sam touching him had felt like a combination of heaven and hell. Heath never imagined that reciprocating would somehow feel even more dangerous, but from the moment his fingers lightly brushed Sam’s skin, it was nearly game over. He was so smooth and powerful and soft, all contradictions wrapped up in this sexy, gorgeous package, and it was nearly impossible to stop when the lotion had been evenly distributed.

“Aren’t you two just the cutest,” Brooke said, and Heath jerked his hands back like he’d been electrocuted.

“I mean, so helpful with each other, even though you’re supposed to be rivals,” Brooke added.

They weren’t really rivals—Sam wasn’t even the starting quarterback for the Piranhas, but Heath latched on to her distraction like a lifeline. “We’re not rivals,” Heath said. “It’s not like that.” Sam nodded vigorously, and grabbed the lotion from Heath’s hands, clearly also eager to change the subject. Heath didn’t know why, but he was intrigued.

“You about ready to go in?” he asked Heath.

“Yeah, let me just get my face,” Heath said. He knew he was still too pale, especially considering he lived in Southern California. Too much time still spent indoors. Frankie was always harassing him, accusing him of becoming a recluse. She wasn’t completely wrong.

“Good, because I’m definitely ready,” Sam said, obviously eager to get away from Brooke, her inquisitive gaze still pinned to the pair of them.

Sam took off in a cannonball leap, before Heath could warn him that they didn’t know how deep the water was. You’re always looking before leaping, he thought ruefully. It was definitely a less exciting existence than the one Sam clearly enjoyed. Instead of jumping off the boat, Heath sat on the back ledge, and swinging his legs around, dropped down gently into the water. It was surprisingly warm, and he kicked powerfully to bring himself over to where Sam had surfaced, pushing his wet hair back, like he was a fucking supermodel.

“Feels damn good,” Sam said, and Heath nodded, keeping his distance as they both treaded water.

It would feel even better if they were pressed up together, wet skin against wet skin, but Heath would take the water reflecting in the intense blue of Sam’s eyes every day of the week. He’d never felt a color so viscerally—burning deep in his stomach, magnifying his arousal until the only thing keeping him from flying apart was the cool water against his dick.

About the Author

Banner.beth

A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband and their sweet kitten, Earl Grey. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published sixteen novels and six novellas.

Social Media

Blog/Website | Facebook | Twitter | BookBub.

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An uplifting and joyous romance from RJ & Vicki

50577636._SY475_Shadow and Light by R.J. Scott & V.L. Locey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What a thoroughly uplifting and joyful book, even though it’s dealing with the aftermath of some horrendous events.

I loved everything about this book, from Henry’s determination to get back on the ice, to Apollo’s warmth and caring heart.

Third in the Arizona Raptors series, I think it could stand alone but the reader would have a much better understanding of the background if they’d read the first two – which are brilliant books in their own right anyways!

Great pacing, the tensions grew organically out of the fears of the two men following their previous experiences and I liked that the friendships which have grown in this series, and the other interlinked ones, were still going strong.

My favourite one yet in this series because I was rooting for Henry to be able to get over his traumatic accident and he did that with the help of a bunch of expert professionals and his own determination.

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

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