Tag Archives: FF

Release Blitz: A Hive of Secrets and Spells by Ellen Jane

A Hive of Secrets and Spells | Ellen Jane

A Cupcakes & Sorcery Novel

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Release Date: October 25, 2019

Buy Link:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07YFJ8F2F

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Blurb

Cupcakes, romance, and lovable canines abound in Heather and Sinead’s next adventure, but it isn’t all fun and games.

The girlfriends are investigating a very personal kidnapping, and the threatening notes left behind accuse Sinéad and her punk-rocker twin brother of hiding something.

But after solving their first mystery together last Christmas, this one should be a piece of cake.After all, no one’s been murdered this time, and their witch-sorcerer rivalry is a thing of the past. Except it turns out there is a murderer, and a jewel thief as well, and why on earth does everyone keep talking about bees?

It appears Starford is a lot more exciting than Heather’s home town of Old Wetchhaven, and Sinéad’s insistence that Heather move in with her brings a whiff of trouble to their private paradise. Can Heather adjust to life near the big city? Or will the mounting secrets prove too much and turn their second case into their last?

A Hive of Secrets and Spells is a witch cozy mystery with a sweet lesbian romance and heart-warming magic.

Excerpt

“Look who’s come crawling back,” Cian said with a grin, holding out two steaming ceramic mugs of coffee to Heather and Sinéad.

He picked the third mug up from the brick fence he leaned on and stood to join them. They were meeting a couple of blocks down from the Dunnes’ house so as not to raise suspicion.

“Do I look like I’m crawling?” Sinéad asked with narrowed eyes, accepting the cup and taking an appreciative sip.

“Physically? No. But emotionally?” Cian gave a contented sigh and rested his hand over his heart. “Contrition is a beautiful thing.”

“Your ego is a beautiful thing. Does it take performance requests?”

Heather laughed at the disgruntled expression on Cian’s face. Sinéad hid her smile behind her coffee mug, her eyes crinkling with laughter. She wore a new necklace today, its small tile pendant an abstract swirling design she must have painted herself because when Heather looked at it, she felt revitalised, almost peppy. Sinéad’s magic was particularly strong when it came to mood spells, something only sorcerers could do.

About The Author

Ellen Jane Phillips is an Australian indie author of WW romance. She loves writing about LGBTQ women who experience complex lives, emotions, needs, and desires. Her books are written for people who crave love stories where friendship is just as important as romance, and who want to experience cosy warmth with a hint of mystery, magic, and emotion.

You can find her writing under two pen names: Ellen Jane, and E.J. Phillips. If you like light, cosy WW romance suffused with magic and mystery, Ellen Jane is the pen name for you.

If you prefer something a little heavier, and you like your WW romance tinged with magic and tender angst, E.J. Phillips is the one you want. When she isn’t writing, you can find her walking the dogs, playing D&D, or bemoaning the number of days since she last ate nachos.

 Social Media

Website: www.ellenjanephillips.com

Instagram: http://instagram.com/ellenjanewrites

Tumblr: https://ellenjanewrites.tumblr.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/ellenjanewrites

Giveaway

Win one of 2 packages with e-copies of Magic, Murder & Mistletoe, A Hive of Secrets and Spells & A Match Made at Christmas by Ellen Jane.

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New Release Blitz: Never Knew Until You by L.E. Royal

Never Knew Until You | L.E. Royal

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 7, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Length: 63,900

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

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Blurb

After the dissolution of her fourteen-year marriage to her cheating ex-wife, forty-year-old college professor Parker Freeman finds herself adrift. Suddenly middle-aged with so much time wasted, she seeks solstice online where she stumbles upon The Pandora Agency—an organization claiming to help individuals find themselves through submission. Encouraged to be a little wild by her best friend, Parker speaks to the agency and sets up a meeting with a female dominant, Miss Diaz.

Greeted at the door of an impressive Miami townhouse by a young woman, Parker questions her decision as she waits for the girl’s mother. Stunned by the reveal that 24-year-old Kristina is in fact the Miss Diaz she has come to meet, she is dragged headfirst into a new world.

Despite Kristina’s commitment issues and Parker’s shattered confidence, the two enter into a tenuous agreement that sparks Parker’s rediscovery of herself. Both are surprised by their compatibility until they stumble across the line from arrangement into relationship, and Kristina calls their time together to an end. When an unexpected catastrophe throws them back together, old demons are finally brought into the light, and both women must decide if letting go of the past is worth the future they could have together.

Excerpt

Never Knew Until You
L.E. Royal © 2019
All Rights Reserved

“Miss Freeman?”

Parker snapped her head back to her lawyer.

She still had her name, thank God for that. Amanda hadn’t wanted to go through the trouble of changing her medical license after they married, and transitioning from Professor Freeman to Professor Miller had just seemed like too much work.

“Doctor Miller has proposed that you keep the house in South Beach, and she will keep the condo downtown. Is that agreeable?”

Of course she wanted the condo. God, this is happening.

“Fine.”

Her reply was terse, and she tried to look anywhere but at Amanda, perfectly put together in her usual designer slacks and jacket. The resident she had been having an affair with for years—early thirties and gorgeous—waited for her in the hall. Parker felt frumpy, plain in comparison in her blue jeans and politely heeled boots, and forty years old.

She cried on the way home, still lost and furious. Deep down she’d known Amanda was having an affair for some time, but their life had been so comfortably routine, and the loss of that comfort scared her, so she’d adhered to the routine blindly.

Monday through Wednesday Amanda was on call and stayed at the hospital—or so she’d said—Thursday they went out for dinner, Friday Parker finished late after her office hours, and Saturday morning they had sex before Amanda disappeared to a conference, or a clinic, or some other work-related necessity. She’d resurface for her token appearance Sunday night, before it all began again.

Her mind still grappled with it all. How the hell she’d come to accept this as her life. The cheating, the lying, the regularly scheduled sex for God’s sake? She’d been so scared to lose the status quo, the only life she’d known for years, she’d just let it happen, and then she’d lost it all anyway. How is that fair?

The house was empty, which was nothing new. Amanda’s schedule left her alone a lot of the time before, but somehow, Parker noticed it more now.

She kicked off her boots, poured herself a glass of wine, and sat down with her laptop. Miserable, she resigned herself to answering emails.

Somewhere between recommending chapter nine and a review of last month’s lectures for the third time, she drifted out onto the internet. It had become a guilty not-quite-pleasure of late. Browsing divorce forums, searching in the sea of dissatisfied women behind keyboards for something, anything, to make her feel like any of this was going to be okay.

Part of her liked the bitterness of these women, and part of her was left desolate by it. Her brown eyes tracked line after line, post after post, before a thread caught her eye. Moving On and Rebuilding?

She clicked and began to read. Even on these forums among hundreds of others in her situation, she felt alienated, alone. Most of the posters had been scorned by ex-husbands. Very rarely did she find a woman trying to figure things out after the loss of her cheating, lying wife. The responses ranged from funny to sad. She didn’t want to go clothes shopping, her wardrobe was…fine, and although slashing Amanda’s tires had a certain appeal, she knew she would never go through with it.

Frustrated, left empty again, she was about to click off. A response caught her eye and made her pause.

If you are open-minded and serious about rediscovering yourself, I highly recommend the Pandora Agency. Through them I transformed my life and my views on my situation and myself.

The link took her to a website, dark and sophisticated with a definite erotic aura. She almost clicked away, but her eyes caught the first line and then she was reading.

Find yourself through submission. A professional and discreet agency, dedicated to connecting searching souls to their perfect counterpart to facilitate personal growth and groundbreaking life change.

Licking her suddenly dry lips, she carried on reading. The site was certainly convincing, and the testimonials were glowing.

Could I do that? Let someone dominate me?

She blushed at the thought. Of course she’d read the books—who doesn’t like a racy story every now and then—but that was honestly as much as she knew about…this. She was surprised to read testimonials from lawyers, CEOs, teachers, people with professional careers, people who sounded more like her than any of the tire-slashers had.

She told herself the agency probably had a line-up of controlling, chauvinistic men to choose from, though the idea was totally at odds with all the comments from women who felt empowered and in control after using it. She didn’t understand it.

Opening a new tab before she could think about it any harder, she did a quick Google search for “the Pandora Agency.” She was surprised to find more well written, articulate, and genuine rave reviews.

Am I seriously considering this?

The shrill ringing of her phone sounded. Jumping guiltily, she knocked it off the coffee table while trying to grab it. She scrambled to pick it back up and swiped to accept the call.

“Hello?”

She sounded breathless, flushed, heat on her chest and her cheeks as she snapped her laptop closed.

About the Author

L.E. Royal is a British born fiction writer, living in Texas. She enjoys dark but redeemable characters, and twisted themes. Though she is a fan of happy endings, she would describe most of her work as fractured romance.

When she is not writing, she is pursuing her dreams with her multi-champion Arabian show horses, or hanging out with her wife at their small ranch/accidental cat sanctuary.

Facebook | Twitter

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Release Blitz: The King’s Dragon by W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns

The King’s Dragon | W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns

Fire and Valor #1

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Release Date: September 26, 2019

Buy Links:

Universal: http://mybook.to/thekingsdragon

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XC67S95 

Add To Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47945724-the-king-s-dragon

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

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Blurb

Lord Tristram Radcliffe has a secret—he is the only dragon at the king’s court in Llangard. It’s a secret he’s kept from the knights he’s fought beside, from the ladies who bat their lashes at him, and from his closest companion, Prince Reynold. If it were to get out, he’d be banished to the Mawrcraig Mountains along with the rest of his kind, but the kingdom of men is the only one he’s ever known, and his heart lives in the stone halls of those who’d count him an enemy.

When the old king dies and Prince Reynold takes the throne, two visitors from the north throw Tristram into the middle of the ancient conflict between dragons and men. They put him on a collision course with the king’s shadow, Bet Kyston, a dangerous assassin who may want him dead or may want more of Tristram that he’d ever thought to give.

With the eyes of dragons upon him and a threat from the north creeping toward the home he loves, Tristram must weigh his allegiances before his dual legacies tear him apart.

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Excerpt

“Could you get me some wine, Alf?” His squire’s eyes went wide, and with good reason. Tris never drank wine before or during tourneys. He stuck to watered ale that didn’t dull his senses. At the moment, though, the important thing was calming his nerves.

The best of squires, Alf nodded and ran off instead of asking questions. It was obvious enough why Tris was asking for the stuff. He just had to toe the line of calming himself without getting intoxicated.

He caught motion from the corner of his eye, and his head snapped up to make sure he wasn’t in danger. When he took in the motion’s source, danger remained to be seen. His Majesty’s shadow, Bennet Kyston—known to everyone as simply Bet.

There wasn’t a person alive who invoked more turbulence in Tris. He was dangerous, obviously. Tris didn’t know what he did for Rey—for the king—but no one spoke of it in polite company, which included himself. He seemed perpetually angry, and seemed to particularly dislike Tris.

On the other side, the man was beautiful beyond all, and no one seemed to notice it. Those shining dark curls and intense black eyes, the way his lips curled up in a combination of smile and sneer when he felt . . . emotions of whatever kind it was he felt.

But not right then. Bet’s expression was blank as he marched right up to Tris, grabbed his chin and tipped it to the side so that he could inspect his face, specifically the side that Jorun had nearly removed. “The eye?” he asked tersely.

Tris blinked for a moment before he realized he was supposed to answer. “Fine. It’s fine. Are you—” How could he ask if the man was concerned about him without seeming ridiculous? “Is something wrong?”

Bet wore an unfamiliar scowl, with no hint of that smile to tame the curl of his upper lip. Tris didn’t think he’d been at fault, but Bet’s sneer could make a man apologize for being born. It was all he could do to keep his mouth shut.

After a long, silent moment, Bet nodded sharply and turned to march off.

When Alf came back with the wine, Tris downed the goblet, sobriety be damned.

About The Authors

WM Fawkes logo

W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three Halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.

Social Media

http://fawkeswrites.com

https://facebook.com/w.m.fawkes

https://twitter.com/fawkeswrites

https://www.instagram.com/w.m.fawkes/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18156587.W_M_Fawkes

https://www.pinterest.com/fawkeswrites/

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Sam Burns lives in the Midwest with husband and cat, which is even less exciting than it sounds, so she’s not sure why you’re still reading this.

She specializes in LGBTQIA+ fiction, usually with a romantic element. There’s sometimes intrigue and violence, usually a little sex, and almost always some swearing in her work. Her writing is light and happy, though, so if you’re looking for a dark gritty reality, you’ve come to the wrong author.

Social Media

http://burnswrites.com

https://www.facebook.com/sam.burns.52459

https://www.instagram.com/samburnswrites/?hl=en

https://us15.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ef13dc96493795a8fdb75611c&id=e0fb058bf2

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16897949.Sam_Burns

https://twitter.com/SamBurnsWrites

https://www.pinterest.com/samburnswrites/

Joint Facebook Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FlickerFoxBooks/

Giveaway

Win one of two e-copies of any book from the Lords of the Underworld series by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

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New Release Blitz: Complex Dimensions by Brenda Murphy

Complex Dimensions | Brenda Murphy

A Rowan House Novel

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: September 23, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 65,100

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

Smashwords | Barnes & Noble

Add to Goodreads

Blurb

Sick of living in her parent’s basement and encountering her ex-girlfriend on a regular basis, former graduate student Veronica Fletcher signs on to manage the stable for Rowan House, Skye’s most exclusive resort for women. After arriving at Rowan House Veronica’s vow to remain celibate is tested when she meets Millie Reid.

Sexy, sweet, and funny, Millie is the woman of Veronica’s dreams. Or is she? When Millie’s past threatens their future together, Veronica is faced with a choice she doesn’t want to make. The butterfly effect has never been more personal.

Excerpt

Complex Dimensions
Brenda Murphy © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Veronica followed her mom through the grocery, navigating the phalanx of Saturday afternoon shoppers. Her thoughts wandered as she trailed behind her mother as she maneuvered their overloaded cart around people staring at the overcrowded shelves, children straying from their parents, and the occasional mobility scooter.

“Ronnie, would you go back and pick up another can of tomato paste? I need two for my sauce. I’m so out of step since they rearranged the store. I don’t understand why…”

Not ready to listen to her mom go on about the changes in the store layout for what must be the hundredth time since she had been released, Veronica interrupted her. “Relax, Mom, I got it.”

She turned and jogged back two aisles and caught sight of a familiar face. Dee stood at the far end of the aisle, her arm draped around the shoulders of Veronica’s ex-friend, Paige. A toddler, her round face and dark brown eyes so much like Dee’s she could have been a clone, sat in the basket of the cart in front of them. Paige pressed a kiss to Dee’s cheek.

Say hello. Don’t act invisible. Get over yourself. So, she’s here with Paige and their baby. Should be me. Should have been us. She looked away and gathered herself. Say something. Be a grown-up. Congratulate them. She looks happy.

Veronica walked down the aisle toward the women, working hard to keep a smile plastered on her face. She lifted her hand in greeting. Dee glanced up and made brief eye contact before a frown crossed her face. She turned her head away from Veronica. Paige looked past Dee and shot Veronica a challenging glare before she pushed their shopping cart briskly away. Fuck. No mistaking the message. She’s moved on. Let it go. She stopped and shoved her hands in her pockets to keep from balling them into fists. She turned away, walked to the main aisle, and followed the overhead labels until she reached the canned vegetable aisle.

She stood in the center of the aisle and groaned inwardly as she studied the shelves. Why do they need twelve different kinds of paste? Damn it. Where the hell is the Bella tomato paste? Mom will flip if it’s not the right brand.

A short woman dressed in a bright red T-shirt and jeans stepped up on the bottom shelf of the section. She extended her arm, her fingers straining shy of the can of tomato sauce she was trying to reach.

Veronica stepped closer. “Hey, let me…” The shelf rocked and teetered. The sharp sound of metal scraping made the hairs on Veronica’s arm stand up as the shelf tilted toward the woman.

“Watch out!” Veronica grabbed the woman around the waist and tugged her out of the way as the entire section of heavy metal shelving crashed to the floor. Cans of vegetables slid off the shelves and filled the aisle. A dented can of stewed tomatoes rolled past her shoe as cans continued to randomly slide from the twisted metal shelves.

“Are you okay?” Veronica let go of the woman’s waist. Other shoppers crowded around them, drawn by the noise.

A store employee arrived. Red-faced and wheezing, he pointed to the avalanche of cans. “Is anyone under there?”

“No. I don’t think so.” Veronica leaned away from the stale smell of cigarettes and sweat wafting from the employee.

The woman stared at Veronica, her eyes wide. “You…I would have been under there. I would have…” Her cheeks grew pink. “Thank you.” She ducked her head, pushed through the crowd, and fled.

More store employees showed up and blocked the aisle with warning signs and yellow tape. The crowd filtered away. Veronica stepped back from the chaos.

The dull edge of the can she was still holding dug into her palm. What if my mom hadn’t needed another can of tomato paste? What if Dee had wanted to chat? What if I hadn’t noticed the shelf shift? We both would’ve been under there. A minute. A second. So much can change in a moment. Butterfly effect. Chaos Theory on display.

“Ronnie?” Her mother’s hand squeezed her arm. She turned and stared down the aisle, her lips pressed together in a thin line. “Good Lord, look at that. You’d have been crushed.”

Veronica held up the can in her hand and grinned at her mom. “Got the tomato paste.”

Her mother quirked her mouth, “All right, joker, let’s get the rest of the groceries before anything else falls down.”

About the Author

Brenda Murphy writes short fiction and novels. She loves tattoos and sideshows, and yes, those are her monkeys. When she is not swilling gallons of hot tea and writing, she wrangles two kids, two dogs, and one unrepentant parrot. She writes about life, books, and writing on her blog Writing While Distracted.

Website | Facebook | Instagram | Blog

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Blog Tour: The King’s Dragon by W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns

The King’s Dragon | W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns

Fire and Valor #1

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Release Date: September 26, 2019

Buy Links:

Universal: http://mybook.to/thekingsdragon

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07XC67S95 

Add To Goodreads:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/47945724-the-king-s-dragon

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns are doing a takeover in Hailey Turner’s Facebook Group on September 25!

Link: Hailey’s Hellions

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

Lord Tristram Radcliffe has a secret—he is the only dragon at the king’s court in Llangard. It’s a secret he’s kept from the knights he’s fought beside, from the ladies who bat their lashes at him, and from his closest companion, Prince Reynold. If it were to get out, he’d be banished to the Mawrcraig Mountains along with the rest of his kind, but the kingdom of men is the only one he’s ever known, and his heart lives in the stone halls of those who’d count him an enemy.

When the old king dies and Prince Reynold takes the throne, two visitors from the north throw Tristram into the middle of the ancient conflict between dragons and men. They put him on a collision course with the king’s shadow, Bet Kyston, a dangerous assassin who may want him dead or may want more of Tristram that he’d ever thought to give.

With the eyes of dragons upon him and a threat from the north creeping toward the home he loves, Tristram must weigh his allegiances before his dual legacies tear him apart.

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Excerpt

When he glanced up to meet Bet’s eyes, they were wide, the whites showing all around them. He wondered, for a moment, if he’d earned a stabbing, but then those eyes dropped to his lips, and Bet’s own parted a fraction.

As was his most unfortunate habit, Tris dove in head first.

Their mouths crashed together, a clash of tongues and teeth that started out anything but good. Tris tasted blood in his mouth, and he wasn’t sure whose it was.

In a flash, Bet turned them so that Tristram was the one with his back to the wall. He wrapped a hand around the side of Tristram’s neck, thumb coming up to hold his jaw in place in a grip that felt downright dangerous. Then he turned his head a fraction, opening up a little space between their noses and allowing himself full access.

Not to stab anyone, thankfully, though he pushed his way into Tris’s mouth as though convinced he’d be rebuffed and wanted to taste his fill before that. Tris just tilted his head up to meet the onslaught, eyes sliding shut and fingers scrabbling against the tapestry on the wall.

Bet kissed like he fought: hard, fast, and with no intention of taking prisoners. His free hand fell to Tristram’s trousers, as though he would strip them off right there in the hall, and slowed to press against his growing arousal. It seemed he appreciated what he found there, because he let out a growl that reminded Tristram of his own nearly inhuman one.

What he’d have done, Tris would never know, because a giggle echoed down the hallway, and Bet pulled back as though he’d been slapped. He turned to see a couple of ladies’ maids enter the hall, and before Tristram could so much as say his name, Bet turned and melted into the shadows.

What The Authors Say

Simmering with sexual and political tension, The Kings Dragon will pull you close, and wont let go until its final pages. A wonderfully rich and compelling world.

~ Ariana Nash, author of Silk & Steel

Intricate plot threads intertwined with gripping tension, chemistry, and built on a fantasy world that rivals any peer in the genre. Vivid characters that aren’t cutouts of fantasy tropes, but real people with faults and virtues that will engage the reader. 

This book showcases the best of Fawkes and Burns’ writing and styleperfectly meshed storytelling rich in complicated and complex characters, with a plot that kept me afraid, engrossed, and my heart in my throat. An added dash of upended gender stereotypes and a refreshing addition of varied LGBTQ+ romances made this a standout in the genre. A fantastic start to a series and I cannot wait for the rest!

~SJ Himes, author of Knight’s Fire

“Incredibly detailed world-building, and a raft of characters who keep me guessing and turning pages!

~ Allison Temple, author of Cold Pressed

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About The Authors

WM Fawkes logo

W.M. Fawkes is an author of LGBTQ+ urban fantasy and paranormal romance. She lives with her partner in a house owned by three Halloween-hued felines that dabble regularly in shadow walking.

Social Media

http://fawkeswrites.com

https://facebook.com/w.m.fawkes

https://twitter.com/fawkeswrites

https://www.instagram.com/w.m.fawkes/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18156587.W_M_Fawkes

https://www.pinterest.com/fawkeswrites/

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Sam Burns lives in the Midwest with husband and cat, which is even less exciting than it sounds, so she’s not sure why you’re still reading this.

She specializes in LGBTQIA+ fiction, usually with a romantic element. There’s sometimes intrigue and violence, usually a little sex, and almost always some swearing in her work. Her writing is light and happy, though, so if you’re looking for a dark gritty reality, you’ve come to the wrong author.

Social Media

http://burnswrites.com

https://www.facebook.com/sam.burns.52459

https://www.instagram.com/samburnswrites/?hl=en

https://us15.list-manage.com/subscribe?u=ef13dc96493795a8fdb75611c&id=e0fb058bf2

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/16897949.Sam_Burns

https://twitter.com/SamBurnsWrites

https://www.pinterest.com/samburnswrites/

Joint Facebook Group:

https://www.facebook.com/groups/FlickerFoxBooks/

Giveaway

Win one of two e-copies of any book from the Lords of the Underworld series by Sam Burns & W.M. Fawkes

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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A brilliant series opener to this new dragon fantasy tale

dragonThe King’s Dragon by W.M. Fawkes & Sam Burns

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Full review tomorrow when I’m at the laptop

***

I’m not sure where to start with this one. Is it utterly brilliant and absolutely jam-packed full of interesting characters, great world-building, slow-burn attraction and twists and turns? Oh Hell Yes.

Is it not what I was expecting at all based on the blurb and the first few chapters? Again absolutely yes.

Did that mean I read it all in one go and stayed up past my bedtime because I had to find out what was going to happen and where the narrative would end up? A very definite yes

Am I going to thump Waverly and Sam because of that last line in the book? Let’s just say they’re lucky there’s an ocean between us 😂

So, to the book itself. It’s intricately plotted, has multiple PoVs which work surprisingly well and it errs more on the side of fantasy with a side of romance than the other way round. I loved the intriguing take on dragons, I’m still not 100% sure who the bad guys are and I absolutely adore Bet and am fascinated by Tris.

The romance is integral to the plot but isn’t the main thrust of the storytelling. Events occur because of the attraction between the two men, but they’re not the driving factor. Characters are carefully woven throughout the action so that, while there is a focus on Bet and Tris, they’re not the only pairings we get introduced to (and I absolutely love the building FF relationship which runs parallel to the main one).

There are some wonderfully mixed female characters in this, the scene-setting really does lay foundations down for the new realm and I was in two minds about how I felt over the fate of one of the major players (even if I did have a bit of a sneaky smirk at the end) as there were other elements in play I think which accounted for the rapid change in behaviour.

Superb start to what promises to be a really excellent and quite different fantasy tale.

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

View all my Goodreads reviews

New Release Blitz: Stray by Nancy J. Hedin

Stray | Nancy J. Hedin

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: August 12, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 65,800

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Add to Goodreads

Blurb

Lorraine Tyler should be in vet school, but she stayed behind in her home town of Bend, Minnesota to care for her nephew, spend time with her lover, Charity, and give her momma a chance to complete nursing school.

Lorraine is content until her momma brings home a steady stream of bachelors to straighten her out. Charity is out of town more and more, and Lorraine’s brother-in-law is looking for a new mom for Little Man. To make matters worse there’re new people in town. A politician is drumming up fear and hate, a social worker is flirting with Lorraine, and Lorraine’s new friend, Ricky, is beaten into a coma.

Lorraine suspects Ricky was beaten because of being gay. Lorraine is determined to find out who did it, protect Ricky from the hater who might try to finish the job, and she’s worried she might be next on the hater’s list.

Stray is a story of politics fueling hate, competing romantic interests, and regular people examining their hearts, souls, and hormones. Will the people of Bend harbor the fear-rattled haters of some, or will they provide sanctuary for all?

Excerpt

Stray
Nancy J. Hedin © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
It was supper time on a weeknight and there were two vehicles I didn’t recognize and a hearse parked next to our farmhouse. It wasn’t really a hearse, it was Pastor Grind’s tan Toyota, but any visit from him meant bad news. God how I hoped Momma had started a book club or extorted people to attend a Tupperware party. More likely she was bringing me a parade of potential husbands. She wanted to straighten out her queer daughter, me. I didn’t know if she was acting alone or if she’d again claim she had God on her side. Maybe she got Pastor Grind to agree to marry me to one of those men on the spot.

“Lorraine, Lorraine!” Momma came rumbling out of the house onto the open front porch, waving her arms. “Don’t change out of your college clothes. We have guests for dinner.”

It’s not like I routinely changed clothes in the yard. I parked my truck in between Dad’s beat-up pickup and Momma’s dented station wagon. Momma had parked on half the pink flamingo pair of lawn ornaments Dad had installed the day before.

“We’re having chicken. Ricky wants to learn to make my gravy.” Momma wiped her hands on her denim apron.

Before I could ask her who Ricky was—like I didn’t already know he’s some guy she found at college and deems him a good husband for me—the only requirement being a penis in his pants—she put her hands on her wide hips like she had more to say. “That Charity girl is here too, but she’s not staying.” Momma swiveled around and marched to the house.

My girlfriend, Charity, was there. Finally, some good news. At least it meant she was driving her dad’s car and he wasn’t with her. There was no way that holier-than-god man would come to the queer’s house and have his daughter with him.

Dad and my three-year-old nephew, Little Man, came out of the barn with the dogs, Sniff, Pants, and Satan. Dad was telling Little Man some damn animal story—something about what they can tell from smelling another dog’s pee. Little Man and the dogs came running to me. “Raine, Raine, we’ve been throwing balls for the dogs.”

Most days I took care of Little Man, but Tuesday was a school day for me at the junior college where I had enrolled in as many math and science classes as I could manage until I left for Grayson School of Veterinary Science in Duluth. Grayson wasn’t a top ten veterinary school, but it was my first choice because I didn’t have to have a bachelor’s degree before entering their program. That was good for me since I had already delayed my college entrance by a couple of years because of the needs of my family.

Grayson accepted two years of college level science and math and allowed degree candidates to take summer classes for the entire four years of pre-veterinary science programs. It floated my boat, but what really got me excited was if I was short on the college level courses, which I was, they’d let me take skills and knowledge testing which would count toward coursework. All those things I’d learned from helping Twitch with his vet business could be parlayed for course credits. Sweet.

Little Man hugged my legs. When I looked at him and Momma and Dad, I had a hollow ache in my chest for who was missing. My twin sister, Becky, was dead. She left behind a dope of a husband and the sweetest little boy I could imagine existed in the world. My brother-in-law Kenny’s truck was gone. He must have still been at work at the lumber yard.

I scooped up Little Man. He wore the matching blue and white T-shirt and pants I’d put him in early in the morning, but he was filthy from playing. As I kissed his doughy neck, I sniffed him to know what he’d done while I was away. I detected the scent of outdoors, dogs, dirt, and snickerdoodle cookies, an average day.

I dropped him off in the mudroom. He climbed the green plastic, frog-faced step stool so he could reach the mudroom sink to wash his hands, and I looked for Charity. Charity leaned against the kitchen counter. Damn she looks good. I forgot all about supper. My whole body hungered for her touch and the sweet things she always said to me. I wanted to wrap my arms around Charity and kiss her until my lips fell off.

No kissing for me. Momma came back in the kitchen looking like she owned and ran the place, which she did. Momma and Charity were as far apart from each other as possible in the room and despite the temperature outside being near eighty degrees, the air temperature between them was colder than a well-digger’s lunch, as my dad would say.

“Hi.” I touched Charity’s shoulder. “I’m glad to see you. Why are you driving your dad’s car? You about scared me to death.”

She smiled and squeezed my hand quick, her eyes glued on Momma. “Dad needed my truck to help somebody move some boxes or something.”

I smelled her shampoo and she’d just put on some lip gloss I wanted to methodically taste and remove.

Momma gave the queer girls only cursory attention. I almost snuck a kiss, but I realized half a man twitched and kicked on the kitchen floor. The other half of him was tucked in the cabinet under the sink. When the top of him emerged I about lost my mind.

Christ, she’s at it again. This time the man was old enough to have possibly signed the Declaration of Independence, or at least the Constitution.

“Momma, I hope you haven’t been trying to find a date for me again.” Next, I addressed the fossil under the sink. “Ricky, I’m sorry you come all this way for nothing but a busted sink.”

Just then Little Man came in the kitchen. Momma’s face brightened as she whisked Little Man into her arms. He dried his wet hands on the front of Momma’s good apron—the full-length one with chickens embroidered on it and pockets on both sides of the skirt. Next Momma pulled me into the utility room with her and Little Man. “Excuse us.” She slid the accordion door closed.

Oh Christ, she’s going to murder me. No. She wouldn’t murder me in front of Little Man and so many witnesses in the house, but there was a fair chance she was going to lecture me and possibly brain me with one of her sacred books. She appreciated the Old Testament shock and awe. She didn’t much go for the patient tolerance of God’s later work or “the mushy parts,” as she called them. However, she did like the way her slim New Testament fit in the oversized pockets of her denim apron, and she liked the way it fit nicely in her hand when she wanted to swat someone, usually me. But she didn’t hit me. Instead, she reminded me of the way her mind worked and how she got everything done with speed and efficiency.

“That’s not Ricky. It’s Harold. Has it ever occurred to you, Lorraine, that we needed the sink replaced?”

That’s Momma for you. She could probably kill more than two birds with one stone. She weaseled getting our sink fixed and paraded a bachelor for my appraisal. She was so efficient, I was surprised there were any birds left.

Momma continued, “Besides, you can’t marry Harold. He’s already engaged to a gal from the square-dancing club.”

“Square dancing,” Little Man said.

Little Man, at three years old, needed an interpreter. I caught most everything he said because I listened to him most days. He had acquired a new habit of repeating parts of whatever he’d heard somebody else say.

“Well, do-si-do and an allemande right if I’m not relieved.”

“Smarty pants,” Momma said. “Behave yourself. It wouldn’t hurt you to try to make friends with our guests. Supper is almost ready.”

“Great. I want to sit by Charity.”

“She’s not staying.”

What? Hadn’t we made any ground at all? Couldn’t my girlfriend at least enjoy a meal at our house? It’s not like we would make out at the dinner table.

Momma pushed me out of the utility room, put Little Man down with half a cookie, and helped Harold get up off the kitchen floor.

“Can’t you stay for supper?” I asked Charity.

Charity glanced at Momma. Then she looked at her feet and bit her lip.

Those lips. I knew how pillowy soft and warm they were. The first time she ever kissed me it felt like I had known her mouth forever.

Charity turned her back on Momma and she half whispered and half gasped, “Lorraine, are you ever leaving for college? This is too small, too much.”

“How can something be both too small and too much?” I tried to joke, but Charity wasn’t having it.

“I don’t know, but Bend is and you need to decide. I’m going home.” Charity headed to the door.

I wanted to remind her I was moving as fast as circumstances would allow. I’d enrolled in as many science classes as the junior college offered while I worked with Twitch…and I minded Little Man. But I didn’t speak up for myself.

“Are you still coming over tomorrow?” I whispered. “Little Man has some new plastic animals. I’m thinking of decorating the kitchen like an African safari.” My scheme kept Little Man busy and allowed me to study animal physiology and anatomy at the same time.

“See you tomorrow.” Charity called over her shoulder with very little enthusiasm.

I watched Charity through the window walking away. My heart raced. I almost ran after her, but then Momma grabbed me and harped at me to go sit in the dining room and talk to the guests. Why is everybody so mad at me? Why is everyone pressuring me to move faster or be different? Momma wanted me to not be queer and marry a man. Charity wanted me to leave Bend before I had Little Man settled. I took deep breaths and prepared to enter the dining room.

About the Author

Nancy Hedin, a Minnesota writer, has been a pastor and bartender (at the same time). She has been a stand-up comic and a mental health crisis worker (at the same time). She wants readers to know that every story she writes begins with her hearing voices.

In 2018 Nancy’s debut novel, Bend was named one of twenty-five books to read for Pride Month by Barnes and Noble and was named Debut Novel of the Year by Golden Crown Literary Society and Foreword Indies Honorable Mention for GLBT Adult Novel of the Year.

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