Series Review Tour: Shoes & Ties by Jena Wade

Shoes & Ties Series | Jena Wade

SERIES REVIEW TOUR

Book 1: Shoes & Ties 

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design

Genre/s: gay contemporary romance

Length: 33 000 words

Goodreads

Blurb

Ashten Brody is a chef fresh out of college. He lands his dream job working as a personal chef to Trent Cole, local luxury hotel owner. As it turns out, Trent is also his dream man.

After working together, the two are unable to deny their attraction. One late night they can’t hold back any longer. Too bad Ashten rushes off soon after.

In the weeks that follow, it appears to Ashten that he has landed his dream man and his dream job. He and Trent appear to be on the path to a serious relationship and life-long happiness. Life seems to be just too perfect…

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Excerpt

Ashten Brody smoothed his hands down the front of his suit one more time. He hadn’t expected Trent Cole’s security guards to frisk him at the door. The man ran a luxury hotel in North Carolina. It wasn’t like he was a celebrity. Though he had the appearance of one.

As flustered as he was now, Ashten was confident that he was the right person to be Trent’s new personal chef. He was not confident, however, that Mr. Cole would hire him. He’d only just finished his degree in culinary arts and hospitality management. He was young and green, but he wanted this job and would do anything to get it. Well, that was a slight exaggeration, but he would wear a bland, conservative suit complete with a tie and jacket if it helped him beat out the competition.

The elevator pinged, and he took a deep breath as he stepped out, still in awe that he had gotten an interview. The main office was located on the top floor of the ten-story hotel—convenient if Trent ever worked late and needed to crash at the office.

Finding the secretary easily, Ashten stood next to her desk and patiently waited for her to finish her phone call. The lobby area was comfortable, with decor that matched the rest of the hotel. Doors lined the walls, and a few windows revealed the insides of conference rooms and small offices. Ashten rested his hands on the mahogany horseshoe desk. It was large enough to fill his old apartment.

“May I help you?” Annette, as her nameplate said, asked as she hung up the phone.

“I have an interview scheduled with Mr. Cole. I’m a bit early. My name is Ashten Brody.” His voice sounded calmer than he felt. It was important to make a good impression on the secretary, though; they were the ones who ran the whole office.

The secretary raised her brow. She opened her mouth to speak, but the elevator at the opposite end of the room dinged, and Mr. Cole stepped onto the floor, a deep scowl etched on his handsome face.

Ashten’s breath hitched in his throat. He bit his lip, pain stopping any reaction his cock might have had to the man capturing his attention. The pictures he’d found in his Internet search hadn’t done the man justice. Trent Cole oozed confidence. Ashten’s eyes followed him as he crossed the floor. A touch of afternoon stubble shaded his strong jaw, and his tailored suit outlined his broad shoulders perfectly.

The open jacket revealed lean hips, which brought Ashten’s tongue out to wet his lips. Trent walked directly past the desk, not bothering to glance at Ashten or Annette. Everyone in the office moved faster and looked busier now that the boss was in the room.

“Annette, please send in the applicants as they arrive. The sooner I get these interviews over with, the sooner I can get back to real work. Thanks.” Without waiting for a reply, he stepped inside his office, leaving the door wide open.

Ashten’s face heated, and his heart pounded. He rolled his shoulders back to try to get ahold of himself.

“Go right in, dear. Good luck.” Annette gave him an encouraging grin.

Ashten flashed a broad smile. “Thank you, ma’am.” He turned and walked toward the open door.

Book 2: Lumber & Law 

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design

Genre/s: gay contemporary romance

Length: 29 000 words

Goodreads

Blurb

A few months after his brother’s accident, Jesse Brody can’t stop thinking about Troy Evans, the police office that helped solve the case. Even though Troy almost had to arrest him, Jesse is sure he has a shot at a date.

The two meet by chance and share a nice dinner at Jesse’s apartment, which ends with Jesse all over Troy’s lap. Though he isn’t out at work, Troy agrees to give a relationship with Jesse a chance.

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Excerpt

Jesse settled onto his usual park bench. The warm sun beat down on his back through his T-shirt as he leaned forward, elbows resting on his knees. Runners and walkers passed him without a glance. The happy chatter of Frisbee games and families sitting on outspread picnic blankets filled the air.

Taking a deep breath, he touched the tablet in his hand, pulling up today’s news. He checked the time and tapped his foot against the concrete of the running path. His reason for being here today and every Sunday for the past six months had yet to show.

Any minute now Troy Evans would jog by, his golden retriever following closely behind him.

Jesse ran his fingers though his hair and glanced around the park. Annoyance prickled at his skin. Until his twin brother, Ashten, had been attacked three months ago, he hadn’t even known Troy’s name. It was just by chance that Detective Evans had been on duty when the police were called to investigate Ashten’s hit-and-run assault.

In the week that followed, Jesse and Troy had spoken over the phone and occasionally met at the precinct to discuss the case. Since the woman responsible for hitting Ashten had been arrested, Jesse hadn’t spoken with Troy.

A knot formed in Jesse’s gut as he remembered why he never tried to contact the man again. When he’d found Trent, Ashten’s boyfriend, and Troy together, he’d assumed the worst. Jealousy and anger had spurred violence in him he didn’t know he had. Anger because it appeared as if Trent could replace Ashten so easily, and jealousy because he’d replaced him with the one man Jesse wanted.

Jesse had punched Trent square in the jaw.

Shame filled him at the memory. He’d read the situation completely wrong, and he’d looked like a fool because of it. Had Troy not threatened to arrest him, he might’ve messed up their little sting operation further, and Ashten’s assailant wouldn’t have been arrested that day.

It had only been a few months earlier that Jesse had seen Troy jog by at the park. He’d been mesmerised by the man’s movement. Troy had worn blue basketball shorts and a tank top that stretched nicely across his chiselled chest and abs. Jesse hadn’t hidden his admiration for the man very well. His neck craned until he had to stand in order to continue watching his magnificent form.

The man never noticed him.

Book 3: Forever & Always

Cover Artist: Silver Heart Design

Genre/s: gay contemporary romance

Length: 8 000 words

Goodreads

Blurb

Now that they’re living in their Happily Ever After, Ashten, Trent, Troy, and Jesse are ready to take the next step.
But what happens when the twins choose the same wedding date? May the best couple win…

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

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About the Author

Jena began writing in January of 2013 as a New Year’s Resolution–and so far she has stuck to it!

She lives in Michigan. By day she works as a web developer, and at night she writes. Born and raised on a farm, she spends most of her free time outdoors, playing in the garden, or riding her horses. She also helps run the family dairy farm.

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Book Blast – Rip Cord: The Complete Trilogy by Jeanne St. James

Rip Cord: The Complete Trilogy | Jeanne St. James

Publisher: Self Published

Cover Artist: EmCat Designs

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance, MM, Sports Romance

Length: 198 paperback pages

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Blurb

The Reunion

Gil Davis hated high school. Ever the geek, he has no intentions of attending his 10th year class reunion. The last thing he wants is to relive the taunting and teasing he received during his teenage years.

However, there is one thing he misses from high school: the star Varsity football player. The one he had a crush on from the first day he laid eyes on him. But the last thing he expects is the now pro football player to come back to their hometown to attend a lame high school reunion.

Known as the Bad Boy of the NFL, Ripley “Rip” Cord, not only shows up, but shows up without a date and an eye for Gil.

The Weekend

Geek Gil Davis hasn’t heard a word from NFL player, Rip Cord, since hooking up at their class reunion. Then Rip calls him unexpectedly, he’s taking Gil to his cabin for a weekend of erotic exploration.

The Ever After

When Rip Cord is kicked out of the NFL, he shows up unexpectedly at Gil Davis’ front door. With his career over, Rip’s finally ready for a future with Gil, if Gil’s willing to give him another chance.

Excerpt

Ripley “Rip” Cord was just as tall as Gil remembered. Around five inches taller than him, not that Gil was a squirt. The football player was at least six foot two.

And every inch of him was muscle. Not lean muscle, but heavy muscle. Heavy, rounded, lickable muscle.

Gil glanced at Katie. “You’re drooling.”

Katie wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “As if you aren’t.”

Gil snagged her wrist and backpedaled until he rammed into something hard. It was the table with the place settings.

Gil peered over Katie’s shoulder to see if his klutziness had caught Rip’s attention.

Luckily it hadn’t. The man was completely surrounded by their old classmates clamoring for his attention.

Throughout the years, he’d followed Rip’s career in the newspapers, on the evening news, on ESPN.

And in the tabloids.

Rip was well-known. Unfortunately it was as the “bad boy” of the National Football League. He started out with a great career in the NFL, drafted straight out of college. He was one of the best wide receivers in the league, but it was all his rumored problems that kept him in the spotlight, not his stats.

And that famous wide receiver was here. Now.

“C’mon, Katie! Don’t stare.”

“Why?”

“Because—”

“Jesus, Gilly, because you have a crush on him!”

Heat crawled up Gil’s neck. He was glad the lights were turned down in the gymnasium. He didn’t want anyone seeing him blush.

Hell, he was twenty-eight years old. He shouldn’t be blushing. He felt seventeen all over again.

He pulled away from Katie to study the name cards remaining on the table. Of course, he read the same card over and over before Katie squealed.

Oh. My. God. Here he comes!”

Gil nervously tugged Katie next to his side and threw an arm haphazardly around her shoulders.

“Ouch,” she yelped as her curly red hair got caught on the button of his cuff.

“Sorry,” he whispered and straightened up just as Rip arrived at the table.

Gil swore he saw spots. He was not going to faint. He was not going to faint.

His knees buckled, and he grabbed for the nearest solid thing: Rip.

Rip grasped his forearm and held Gil steady. “You all right, buddy?”

Gil looked up—and up—into deep blue eyes. Eyes he had never forgotten. To this day they haunted his dreams.

Dreams he usually woke up from with a raging hard-on.

Gil opened his mouth to answer, but nothing came out. Rip smacked him hard on the back.

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Gil nodded.

“Did you find your name card yet?” Rip asked, flashing him a bright, white smile.

Gil shook his head.

Rip moved closer, almost hip to hip with Gil, to study the table of white folded cardstock. Gil fought the urge to lean in and nuzzle the larger man’s neck, inhaling his manly scent. Roll around in it like a dog.

Hell, he’d probably end up sporting a black eye if he tried.

About the Author

JEANNE ST. JAMES is a USA Today bestselling romance author who loves an alpha male (or two). She was only thirteen when she started writing. Her first paid published piece was an erotic story in Playgirl magazine.

Her first erotic romance novel, Banged Up, was published in 2009. She is happily owned by farting French bulldogs. She writes M/F, M/M, and M/M/F ménages. Want to read a sample of her work? Download a sampler book here.

To keep up with her busy release schedule check her website at www.jeannestjames.com or sign up for her newsletter: http://www.jeannestjames.com/newslettersignup

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Release Blitz: A Chance At Love by Silvia Violet

A Chance At Love | Silvia Violet

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M/M ROMANCE

RELEASE DATE: 08.05.18

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COVER DESIGN: LC CHASE

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BLURB

On the flight back home to San Diego, Chance Emerson meets an intriguing older man. They flirt, and Chance hopes for more, but the man never calls. Months later, they meet again at a charity auction. Chance decides this time he isn’t walking away.

Darren Walsh can’t stop thinking about the gorgeous grad student who almost had him joining the mile-high club. When Chance suggests they hook up, Darren says the only thing he can—yes.

From their first moments together, Chance and Darren know there’s more between them than lust, but their differences in age and income make a real relationship challenging. They decide to keep things secret, yet as they learn more about each other, Darren realizes he wants something real and open.

To have that, he’ll need to convince Chance that he has a place in Darren’s world, and Darren will have to take some risks of his own.

A Chance at Love Graphic

EXCERPT

Chance touched Darren’s arm again, and Darren felt an honest-to-God jolt of electricity zip through him. “Thank you for distracting me.”

Their gazes met, and Chance licked his lips, a provocative move that made Darren wonder if he really wanted to say goodbye.

“Are you getting a cab or something?” Darren asked. Was he really going to ask Chance to share a ride with him?

Chance shook his head. “A friend is picking me up.”

“Right. That’s easier, I guess.” Darren hated how disappointed he was.

“But…” Chance pulled something from the outer pocket of his bag. “Here’s my card. Give me a call if you want to play cards again or just talk or…something else.”

Darren took the card. Was it already warm from Chance’s touch, or was that his imagination?

Chance didn’t seem like the type to carry business cards around. He glanced down at it and realized the front was simply an artistic rendering of a DNA double helix. He flipped it over and saw Chance’s number and his email.

When he looked back up, Chance had a wary look on his face. “No pressure or anything if you don’t—”

The plane hit the tarmac then, jolting them. Darren hadn’t realized they were so close to the ground.

“I gotta text my friend,” Chance said, pulling out his phone.

Darren forced himself to focus on arranging a Lyft for himself rather than staring at Chance. By the time he finished, they were pulling up to the gate. Darren tucked Chance’s card into his leather iPad case and then slipped the device in the pocket of his briefcase.

For the first time since Darren had been startled by the young man holding a giant container of cheese balls, an awkward silence fell between them. He considered assuring Chance he’d call just to make him feel better, but he’d be lying.

He’d be tempted to, especially on nights when he was lonely. Going out or using an app to find a hookup often seemed like far too much trouble. But if he saw Chance again, it wouldn’t be the same. In the real world, Darren and this exuberant, young grad student had nothing in common.

Are you sure? You talked to him more easily than with anyone else you’ve encountered in months, maybe years.

About The Author

 

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Silvia Violet writes erotic romance in a variety of genres including paranormal, contemporary, and historical. She can be found haunting coffee shops looking for the darkest, strongest cup of coffee she can find.

Once equipped with the needed fuel, she can happily sit for hours pounding away at her laptop. Silvia typically leaves home disguised as a suburban stay-at-home-mom, and other coffee shop patrons tend to ask her hilarious questions like “Do you write children’s books?”

She loves watching the looks on their faces when they learn what she’s actually up to. When not writing, Silvia enjoys baking sinfully delicious treats, exploring new styles of cooking, and reading to her incorrigible offspring.

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A Chance at Love Teaser 1

Price Drop – Without A Compass by Helen Juliet

Without a Compass | Helen Juliet

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Special limited price drop from Tuesday, May 8 for 10 days – down to 99c/99p

Also available on Kindle Unlimited

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Blurb

Riley Anderson has always been smitten with his older brother’s best friend, Kai Brandt. But Kai is straight and he and Riley have nothing in common. Riley’s a desk jockey and hunky Kai is obsessed with the great outdoors, just like the rest of Riley’s family.

It’s bad enough that Riley is forced to go camping for his dad’s 50th birthday. Even worse when gorgeous Kai shows up too and Riley isn’t sure how long his crush will remain secret.

Kai always liked his best friend’s cute but shy little brother. When they reunite after a few years apart, Kai is surprised to find that Riley has grown up…and Kai can’t get him out of his head. Maybe now that Riley is an adult they can be friends?

When their trip takes an unexpected turn, Kai and Riley find themselves stranded together in the wilderness. The chemistry between them is undeniable. But Riley is too afraid to believe this could be real, even though Kai knows this is no longer just about friendship for him.

They don’t have long before they will have to rejoin civilisation. Can they face the truth in front of them before their lives pull them apart once more?

***Without a Compass is a steamy, standalone MM romance novel with campfire kisses, a dog with a mind of her own and a guaranteed HEA with absolutely no cliffhanger.***

Author Bio

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Helen Juliet is a contemporary MM romance author living in London with her husband and two balls of fluff that occasionally pretend to be cats. She began writing at an early age, later honing her craft online in the world of fanfiction on sites like Wattpad.

Fifteen years and over a million words later, she sought out original MM novels to read. She never thought she would be any good at romance, but once she turned her hand to it she discovered she in fact adored it.

By the end of 2016 she had written her first book of her own, and in 2017 she fulfilled her lifelong dream of becoming a fulltime author.

She also writes contemporary American MM romance as HJ Welch.

**

You can contact Helen via social media:

Website – www.helenjuliet.com

Email – helenjulietauthor@gmail.com

Twitter – @helenjwrites

Instagram – @helenjwrites

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Facebook Page – @helenjulietauthor

Facebook Group – Helen Juliet Books

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Release Blitz: The California Dashwoods by Lisa Henry

The California Dashwoods | Lisa Henry

A modern retelling of Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

Publisher:  Self Published

Release Date: May 1, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 62 000

Genre: Romance

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Buy Links

Amazon UK https://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B07BJLJ4FK

Amazon US https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07BJLJ4FK

Synopsis

Make a new future. Choose your true family. Know your own heart.

When Elliott Dashwood’s father dies, leaving his family virtually penniless, it’s up to Elliott to do what he’s always done: be the responsible one. Now isn’t the right time for any added complications. So what the hell is he doing hooking up with Ned Ferrars? It’s just a fling, right?

Elliott tries to put it behind him when the family makes a fresh start in California, and if he secretly hopes to hear from Ned again, nobody else needs to know. While his mom is slowly coming to terms with her grief, teenage Greta is more vulnerable than she’s letting on, and Marianne—romantic, reckless Marianne—seems determined to throw herself headfirst into a risky love affair. And when Elliott discovers the secret Ned’s been keeping, he realizes that Marianne isn’t the only one pinning her hopes on a fantasy.

All the Dashwoods can tell you that feelings are messy and heartbreak hurts. But Elliott has to figure out if he can stop being the sensible one for once, and if he’s willing to risk his heart on his own romance.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

His father’s hand was weightless. Elliott held it gently, rubbing his thumb over the loose, wrinkled skin of his knuckles. His father’s fingers were thin and fragile now, and scrubbed clean. Elliott had never seen his father’s fingers without paint under his nails.

“Elliott,” Henry Dashwood whispered, and Elliott lifted his blurry gaze. The smile on his father’s face was almost beatific, but that was probably down to the morphine.

“I’m here,” he said, his throat aching. “John’s here too, Dad.”

John Dashwood was seated on the other side of the bed, his hands folded in his lap. His jaw was clenched tight, and his gaze was fixed on some point just above Henry’s pillow.

Henry lifted his free hand and held it out toward John. John looked startled for a moment, and then reached out and took it gently.

“My boys,” Henry murmured. “My sons.”

They sat for a long moment as Henry drifted off into a doze, only the sound of his heart monitor punctuating the silence.

Elliott didn’t even realize Henry was awake again until he spoke.

“John,” he said. “John, promise me that you’ll look after your brother and your sisters.”

John seemed to recoil for a moment, and then he wet his lower lip with his tongue. “I will, Dad.” He met Elliott’s gaze and then looked down at their father again. “I promise.”

“Is Abby coming?” Henry asked, his voice faint.

“Mom’s on her way, Dad,” Elliott said. “She’s on her way with the girls.”

Henry passed away before they arrived.

***

Francesca Dashwood, John’s wife, arrived the day after Henry passed away. She organized the entire funeral, shoving Abby and her children aside as though Henry’s second marriage had been nothing more than a footnote in the Dashwood Family history. Norland Park was filled with a curious mix of mourners, well-wishers, and gawkers. Elliott, Abby, and Marianne suffered their attention, or lack thereof, with varying degrees of politeness. Greta, thirteen years old, locked herself in her bedroom and threatened to stab anyone who tried to drag her out again.

Three days after the funeral, the Naked Blue Lady vanished from her place above the fireplace, and that was when Elliott knew for certain that Francesca had made her move.

The Dashwood Family—always a capital F in Elliott’s mind, to distinguish it from the tiny offshoot that he considered actual family—had never forgiven Henry for running off with the help—Abby—and proceeding to prove their dire predictions wrong by living in wedded bliss with her for over twenty years before the cancer took him.

Abby had never been interested in the Dashwood Family money. She’d signed the prenup the Family lawyers had asked her to. In exchange, the Family had allowed Henry to retain Norland Park and had provided him with a monthly allowance. Those, however, had only been guaranteed for as long as Henry lived.

And now, staring at the blank space above the fireplace where the Naked Blue Lady had hung, Elliott knew that he and his mother and his sisters were next to go.

“She’s evil,” Marianne announced. “She’s a horrible evil troll, and we should let Greta stab her.”

“She’s not evil,” Elliott began, and caught Marianne’s look. “Okay, so maybe she’s a little bit evil, but she’s also John’s wife, so can we try and be civil, please? Also, why does every scenario that anyone in this family comes up with always involve Greta stabbing someone?”

“Not every scenario,” Marianne said, her slight smile vanishing as she looked at the blank space above the fireplace. “Mom is going to be pissed.”

Right on cue, the French doors flung wide open and Abby Dashwood swept through in one of her trademark kaftans. She stopped when she reached the fireplace, and pressed a hand over her heart. “That bitch! Where’s my painting?”

Elliott exchanged a glance with Marianne, and together they stepped forward and put their arms around their mother.

“I’m fine!” Abby shook them off. “It’s fine!

It clearly wasn’t fine. Their wonderful, vibrant mother had been badly shaken by their father’s death. She had never once allowed herself to believe that Henry wouldn’t go into remission.

You have to think positive,” she’d said a thousand times, and thought so positively herself that she had refused to even begin to entertain any thoughts to the contrary. “Positive thoughts are positive energy, and that’s what your father needs right now.

Elliott wasn’t certain she’d actually come to terms with the fact that he was gone. Even though they’d all sat in the front row at the funeral, the Family on the left side of the chapel, and Abby and her children on the right side, with poor John constantly darting between both factions like some frazzled emissary, silently begging Elliott to please prevent Abby or the girls from making a scene.

“Mom,” Elliott said now. “Come upstairs.”

“Yes,” Abby said, and lifted her chin. “Yes, let’s go upstairs and pack our bags! I’m not staying in this house a minute longer!” She raised her voice for the benefit of any eavesdroppers. “We’re clearly not welcome here!”

Marianne met Elliott’s gaze.

“Mom,” Elliott said, “we don’t have anywhere else to go. We can’t just leave.”

“Oh, honey.” Abby smiled at him, her eyes shining with tears. She reached up and cradled his cheeks in her palms. “Of course we can! All we need is each other.”

And somewhere to stay. And jobs. And money for college for Marianne and school for Greta. And health insurance. And a million other things that their father’s savings would barely begin to cover. But Elliott didn’t have the heart to say any of that.

“We can’t go anywhere yet, Mom,” he said. “Not without a plan.”

“Oh, honey,” Abby said again, her smile softening. “You worry too much.”

Marianne twined her fingers through Abby’s and tugged her gently toward the stairs. “Come on, Mom. Let’s go and see if Greta’s stabbed anyone yet.”

Elliott watched them leave, and then headed down the hallway toward his father’s study.

Norland Park, outside of Provincetown, was the only home Elliott had ever known. It had seven bedrooms, a sunroom, and a large parlor that Henry had used as a studio. The house had been built in 1910 in the American Craftsman style, and purchased by the Dashwoods a little over a decade later when Alexander Dashwood made his first million in the burgeoning aeronautics industry. It had served as a summer house for the Family for generations. And now they clearly wanted it back.

Henry Dashwood’s study was on the ground floor beside his studio. The hallway smelled of his oil paints. Tears pricked Elliott’s eyes, and he wiped them away before he opened the study door.

John was sitting at Henry’s desk, flicking through paperwork. He looked up.

“Elliott,” he said, his expression suddenly guarded. “Is everything okay?”

“Mom’s pretty upset,” Elliott said. “The, um, the painting?”

John had the decency to look abashed. “Francesca felt it was confronting.”

A wave of grief rose up in Elliott. He could almost hear Henry’s voice. “Art is supposed to be confronting, Elliott. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable! It’s supposed to challenge you, to shake you up, to make you feel!

Which were all good points, but Elliott still didn’t feel he could invite his friends over with the Naked Blue Lady hanging over the fireplace. She was very, very blue, and she was very, very naked. She was also his mom. Elliott had been twelve at the time, and not sure how to explain to his friends that yes, that was his mother sitting spread-legged on that chair, and yes, that was her vulva.

“It meant a lot to them,” he said.

John’s mouth pressed into a thin line.

And yeah, the painting meant a lot to John too, didn’t it? It represented the moment Henry Dashwood had walked out of his life and away from all his responsibilities as a father and a husband to be with the college student he’d hired as John’s au pair for the summer.

John wasn’t a bad guy, but he was never going to be able to put that betrayal aside. Elliott couldn’t blame him. Henry had been a wonderful father to Elliott and Marianne and Greta. They’d stolen that from John, in a way.

“There’s a little over ten thousand dollars in Dad’s savings account,” John said at last.

Elliott nodded. “It’s what he’d been putting aside, except there’s not even enough for Greta’s school fees, let alone Marianne’s college tuition.”

From the moment Henry had been diagnosed, he’d saved what he could from his monthly payments from the Dashwood family trust, but in the end it had been too little, too late. In the end he’d gone so quickly, and there were funeral costs, and taxes, and bills for the alternative treatments they’d tried when it was clear the chemo wasn’t working—bills the insurance hadn’t covered.

John sighed. “Elliott, I promised Dad I’d do what I could to help, but most of my assets are tied up in the corporation, or held in trust. I mean, the board isn’t going to . . .” He cleared his throat.

Elliott nodded, his eyes stinging again.

“I’ll see what I can do,” John said. “But Francesca wants the house.”

Elliott nodded again, and slipped outside before John could see him crying.

***

Greta’s bedroom overlooked the front entrance of Norland Park, and she’d taken to leaning out of her window like a particularly malevolent gargoyle and glaring at anyone who came or went. She was a pretty girl, usually, when she wasn’t plotting murder behind the curtain of her dark hair, but Elliott couldn’t blame her.

“Oh my God,” she exclaimed. “There’s another car coming, Elliott! Another one!”

Elliott couldn’t bring himself to care enough to climb off her bed and go and see.

“It’s like Francesca can’t even wait until she kicks us out to start filling the place with her awful friends! These ones are driving an Audi.” She leaned further out the window.

“Greta!” Elliott leapt off the bed and crossed to the window before she dived out of it. He wrapped an arm around her and looked down.

The black Audi was parked close to the front entrance of the house, and the two young men climbing out were both wearing blazers, khakis, and boat shoes.

“Oh, look! It’s the Brooks Brothers!” Greta exclaimed.

Greta had no volume control.

The young men looked up.

Elliott and Greta pushed back from the window at the same time, and landed in a heap on the bedroom floor.

Greta stared at Elliott wide-eyed, and he stared back.

Then, for the first time in what felt like weeks, they both started to laugh.

***

The Brooks Brothers, Elliott learned at dinner, were actually the Ferrars brothers. They were Francesca’s younger brothers, Ned and Robert, and they apparently did something in construction. By the looks of them, nothing at the dirty end of that business. The Ferrars family resemblance was clear.

The brothers were both tall, blond, and good-looking in a way that had just as much to do with presentation as it did with genetics. Skincare lotions and hair products and designer clothing gave a glossy shine to the brothers’ otherwise ordinary exteriors. Elliott found himself glancing at Ned’s profile more than once during dinner.

His nose was a little long for his face. His jaw was a little wonky. His ears stuck out a bit. Without that two-hundred-dollar haircut working for him, would he still be as handsome, or would the slightly awkward way he held himself be even more apparent?

Elliott had never had a two-hundred-dollar haircut in his life. His father might have grown up obscenely wealthy, but his mother hadn’t. Two hundred dollars for a haircut when there was a perfectly good pair of scissors lying around? Not on Abby’s watch.

Even now Elliott’s dark hair was tousled and unruly. When it was wet after a shower, it hung in tendrils in his eyes and down the back of his neck. When it was dry he rubbed some wax through it, stood it on end, and let it do whatever the hell it wanted for the rest of the day.

And he was the most presentable of his side of the family. He’d heard Francesca telling Robert exactly that after the brothers had arrived, before conceding that he was also “the least objectionable.”

Not exactly high praise, then.

Elliott glanced at Ned again, and this time Ned caught his gaze and offered him a small smile. Elliott smiled back, a little embarrassed to have been seen looking, and stabbed a piece of carrot.

Dinner with the Family was an ordeal. And Elliott meant that in the most ancient judicial sense. At this point he would rather choose ordeal by fire and walk over red-hot plowshares than endure another round of stilted conversation and barely concealed barbs.

In addition to John and Francesca and the Ferrars brothers, Great Uncle Montgomery had been in residence since the funeral. He hadn’t done much except wander around Norland Park poking his cane into the wainscoting and announcing the presence of dry rot, then making grumbled threats to sue Abby for failing to keep the house maintained while she was a tenant.

A tenant.

Aunt Cynthia and her husband, Aldous, had also been staying since the funeral. Elliott couldn’t decide if they were better or worse than Montgomery.

Oh, such pretty children,” Aunt Cynthia had said the night she’d arrived. “They don’t look anything like Abby, do they?

Aldous had grunted. “That girl’s got metal through her nose.

Worse, probably. They were worse than Montgomery. Montgomery might complain about holes in the wainscoting, but at least he didn’t comment on the hole in Marianne’s nose.

With the arrival of the Ferrars brothers, it didn’t take long for conversation at dinner to turn to the fact that they now had more guests than available guest rooms.

“Well,” Francesca said, with a thin smile in Abby’s direction, “I’m sure that the children can share, can’t they?”

Abby narrowed her gaze. “Excuse me?”

“I think it’s only fair to offer guests a proper bedroom, isn’t it?” Francesca asked.

Elliott met John’s gaze. John glanced away.

Invited guests, yes,” Abby said. “But I didn’t invite them.” She grimaced in the direction of Ned and Robert. “No offense.”

They both mumbled something that sounded vaguely polite.

“Well, I just thought that Marianne and Greta could share,” Francesca pressed on. “That would free up a room.”

Abby drew a deep breath. “Excuse you. My daughters don’t have to—”

“Ned and Robert can have my room,” Elliott said, to head Abby’s diatribe off at the pass. Francesca looked smug, John looked relieved, and Abby looked like she had a hell of a lot more to say on the subject. “It’s fine. I don’t mind.”

Ned shot him a worried glance. “That’s really not necessary.”

“I don’t mind,” Elliott repeated.

In the awkward silence that settled over the dining room, Great Uncle Montgomery muttered about nonexistent mold spores, and Greta turned her steak knife over and over in her palm in a thoughtful manner that made Aunt Cynthia shuffle her chair a few inches further away.

Happy families.

***

Elliott trudged upstairs after dinner to grab some spare clothes and his laptop and phone. He dragged a duffel bag down from the back of his closet and shoved clothes into it. This was his room, but he had known since his father died that he wouldn’t be allowed to stay in it. The Family wanted them out of the house. It was a matter of when, not if.

Elliott slid his laptop into his bag, then zipped it up and slung it over his shoulder. He stared down at his rumpled bed, but fuck it. If the Ferrars brothers wanted clean sheets, they could find them for themselves. Elliott crossed to the door and wrenched it open, surprising Ned Ferrars.

He had a suitcase on wheels.

“Sorry,” Elliott said, and stepped outside his room.

“No, um, I’m sorry.” Ned pressed his lips together. A faint wrinkle appeared at the top of his nose, right between his drawn-together eyebrows. “For, um . . . for your loss, and for everything.”

Elliott’s heart skipped a beat. He didn’t think a single person associated with the Family in any way had stooped to offer him their sympathies. At the funeral, everyone gave their condolences to John, as though Abby and her children, even in that moment, were interlopers with no claim on Henry Dashwood.

He was our dad too.

“Thanks,” he murmured, his throat aching.

Ned nodded and wheeled his little suitcase into Elliott’s room. The door snicked shut behind him.

***

Henry’s studio was largely undisturbed. It smelled of oil paints and turpentine. Stacks of unfinished canvases leaned against the walls. Elliott set his duffel bag down on the old paint-spattered couch his dad used to take his naps on every afternoon. It still smelled faintly of weed.

He crossed to the wall and traced his shaking fingers down a canvas. The paint was laid on thick, in a choppy texture that read like Braille. He closed his eyes and could hear Henry’s voice.

“This is art, my boy! Art! Nothing matters more in the world!”

“Says the man living in a Cape Cod mansion!”

Henry’s laughter had filled the room, and then he’d grown uncharacteristically solemn.

“Alexander Dashwood used to fly kites, you know? He used to watch the birds, and fly kites. He wanted to soar. He had an artist’s soul as well, I think. What would he make of his descendants, hmm? Making their fortune by manufacturing military drones. All innovators become oppressors, given enough time.”

Elliott smiled, his chest aching, and lifted his fingers away from the canvas.

“Love you, Dad,” he whispered to the silent studio. “Miss you.”

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Meet the Author

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 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.

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Release Day Blitz: Medley by Layla Reyne

Medley by Layla Reyne |  Changing Lanes #2  

 Will the race for gold cost them their hearts?

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 Publisher: Self-Published | Release Date: April 30 (Print & Ebook)

Length (Print & Ebook): Approx 270 pages

 Subgenre: MM Romance, Bisexual Romance, Contemporary Romance, Sports Romance, New Adult Romance

Buy Links

Amazon: https://amzn.to/2EqhvBR | B&N: http://bit.ly/2HDCbcO

iTunes: https://apple.co/2qCf4XVKobo: http://bit.ly/2IXrD7D

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Book synopsis:

 Sebastian Stewart was never Mr. Dependable; he was more the good-time guy who only wanted to swim, party, and ink tattoos. Until he cost his team the Olympic gold four years ago. Bas is determined to do right this time around—by his medley relay team and his rookie mentee.

Jacob Burrows is in over his head. The Olympic experience—from the hazing, to the endless practices, to the unrelenting media—makes the shy nineteen-year-old’s head spin. He’s trying to be everything to everyone while trying not to fall for his gorgeous tattooed teammate who just gets him—gets his need to fix things, his dorky pirate quips, and his bisexuality.

When Jacob falters under the stress, threatening his individual races and the medley relay gold, he needs Bas’s help to escape from drowning. Bas, however, fearing a repeat of his mistakes four years ago, pushes Jacob away, sure he’ll only let Jacob down. But the only path to salvaging gold is for Jacob to finally ask for what he needs—the heart of the man he loves—and for Bas to become the dependable one. 

“How can you be your best when you’re not sure if your best will measure up? That’s the dilemma facing Bas and Jacob, as they deal with the immense pressure of swimming for Olympic gold while also trying to sort out their tangled hearts.” —Layla Reyne

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Excerpt:

 Lawyer, priest, shrink.

Maybe bartender.

Ask someone to name their confessor and those were the usual suspects.

Bas would argue tattoo artist for the last spot in the top five. Humming needle in hand, he’d heard more than a few confessions over the years.

From the second a client stepped into his shop, they told a story. The design they picked. How much liquid courage it took. The tale of joy or woe that spilled from their lips after the first shock of the needle. Their reaction when it was done—relief, pain, regret, pleasure.

He’d heard almost every story.

In love, in lust, in rebellion, in hate, in freedom, in chains.

But he still couldn’t figure out the story that’d nagged him most the past ten days. He swiveled on the stool in the rented studio, droplets of dark ink splattering his worn jeans. “You gonna give me something to go on, Pup?”

Straddling the fancy tattoo-massage chair, Jacob laid a cheek in the cradle and glanced to his side. Mint green eyes, tequila-hazy, peered out from under long burnished lashes. “This was your idea, not mine.”

Maybe there was the start of a story. Why did his nineteen-year-old teammate have a fake ID, and why was he so friendly with Mr. Cuervo? Was it the same story as countless other college undergraduates?

Bas didn’t think so.

Jacob’s eyes slipped shut again, lips turning up in a faint smile. “You said you needed to get out of there and work.” He shrugged his bare left shoulder, the one closest to Bas. The breaststroker’s upper back was wide, like most swimmers’, his delts and lats hard and lean beneath suntanned skin. Not yet fully developed, given his age, but stronger than most.

“So do what you need,” Jacob said. “Work it out.”

There.

There was the start of the story.

Lela Rayne

About Layla Reyne

 Author Layla Reyne was raised in North Carolina and now calls San Francisco home. She enjoys weaving her bi-coastal experiences into her stories, along with adrenaline-fueled suspense and heart pounding romance.

When she’s not writing stories to excite her readers, she downloads too many books, watches too much television, and cooks too much food with her scientist husband, much to the delight of their smushed-face, leftover-loving dogs.

Layla is a member of Romance Writers of America and its Kiss of Death and Rainbow Romance Writers chapters. She was a 2016 RWA® Golden Heart® Finalist in Romantic Suspense.

 Connect with Layla Reyne: Twitter | Instagram | FB Page | FB Group | Newsletter | Goodreads | Pinterest

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Refresh Tour: Accepting the Fall by Meg Harding

Accepting the Fall | Meg Harding

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Publisher: Oceanside Press

Release Date (Print & Ebook): June 8, 2017

Refresh Tour dates: April 23 – 30, 201

Length (Print & Ebook): 62k

Subgenre: Contemporary Romance

Buy  link: http://amzn.to/2HrrgSX

~

Blurb:

Confronting the past is never easy.

Cole Whitaker is happy. He has the job and boyfriend he always wanted. His heart’s in no danger of being broken, and he can’t ask for more from life. As a kindergarten teacher, he sees it all; however, one troublesome student has him reaching out to the parent, wanting to help. There’s something about Savanah that tugs at his heartstrings.

He never expected her father.

Zander Brooks hasn’t had an easy life, and he’s made some mistakes. Freshly retired from the military and working as a firefighter, Zander thought he’d left Cole in the rearview mirror.

He’s not expecting him to appear in St. Petersburg, Florida, of all places, teaching his daughter’s kindergarten class. Suddenly, his biggest mistake is being shoved in his face.
This is Zander’s chance to close a door he’d never fully shut, but time with his former flame might change his mind.

~

Author Meg Harding’s take on Accepting the Fall: “Not everything is perfect, and it’s not always going to go right the first time around. It’s not any less special because it was flawed.”

Praise for Accepting the Fall: “A character driven, second-chance romance. Recommended for anyone craving a low-angst, tender, contemporary story stuffed to the brim with feels and sweetness.” – Piper Vaughn

~

 Extract

It was softness and warmth, the slide of their noses bumping, their chins scraping, their lips relearning the feel of one another. Zander held Cole steady, tilting his head for a better angle.

With his tongue, he traced the curve of Cole’s lips before venturing into his mouth. Cole met him push for push, and what had started out gentle turned heated quickly. Their tongues tangled together as Zander and Cole teased and chased. Cole tasted sweet and sugary, and vaguely like strawberries.

The air between them was damp and heavy, neither willing to pull away. Zander felt as if the oxygen was being sucked from his body, and he hadn’t the slightest inclination to do anything about it.

The world would end if the kiss stopped. He didn’t need anything else but the slick glide of their tongues and the dull graze of teeth as they fell into their own private world.

About the Author

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Meg Harding is a sucker for things on four legs and works as a pet sitter when she’s not writing. She’s an editor and a lover of fanfiction.

She enjoys the theatre, concerts, and lazing about in front of the TV. Meg Harding is a graduate of UCF and Anglia Ruskin, with a bachelors in Psych and a masters in publishing.

For as long as she can remember, writing has always been her passion, but she had an inability to ever actually finish anything.

She’s immensely happy that her inability has fled and looks forward to where her mind will take her next.

She’s a sucker for happy endings, the beach, and superheroes. In her dream life she owns a wildlife conservation and is surrounded by puppies. She’s a film buff, voracious reader, and a massive geek.

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