Release Blitz: Gateway To Love by Sarah Hadley Brook

Gateway To Love | Sarah Hadley Brook

States of Love Series

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner

Length: 32,793 words

Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

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Blurb

 

Ten days to finally make the leap from friends to lovers…

Craig and Mitchell have been friends for years, but each of them reached a point where that camaraderie became… more.

Mitchell’s kept his feelings close to his chest. So has Craig, but now that they’ve graduated from UMKC, he knows it’s his last chance to show Mitchell they’re meant to be before their careers take them to opposite sides of the country.

He insists they can’t leave Missouri behind without one last adventure. Mitchell agrees to a road trip to visit all the touristy spots and say goodbye to their home state.

As they spend their days and nights together, buried feelings rise to the surface and hope blossoms. When their journey ends with a dance beneath the Branson stars, will they find love and a future together at the end of the road?

Excerpt

THE SOUND of a horn jolted Mitch from a sound sleep, and he blinked his eyes for a moment, staring out the window at the busy highway.

“Sorry. Some idiot guy almost hit us. I had to lay on the horn,” Craig explained.

Mitch straightened himself in his seat and rubbed his eyes. “No worries. Sorry I fell asleep.”

Craig grinned at him. “You should be. I’ve had to listen to your snoring for almost two hours.”

“Hey, I don’t snore. You do, but I don’t,” Mitch said emphatically.

Craig snorted. “Whatever. I can hear you through the wall at night.”

“I don’t snore,” Mitch reiterated, and frowned when Craig chuckled. Then he started feeling bad about sleeping so long. “Want me to take a turn at the wheel?”

“Nah. Maybe when we stop for lunch? Although, we’ll probably be in Hannibal before then. We’ve only got about an hour and forty-five minutes left, give or take.”

Mitch nodded and checked his phone, but he couldn’t help watching his best friend out of the corner of his eye. Even after knowing him for four years, Mitch was still blown away by the reaction he felt whenever he looked at Craig. He’d certainly never forgotten the first day they met. It was imprinted on his brain forever.

That first day at Longview Community College had been brutal. He’d had to spend two hours in the admissions office because when he’d shown up for his first class, the professor didn’t have him listed. By the time his schedule was corrected, he’d missed two classes and was nearly late to his third.

He’d slid into an empty seat near the door just as the teacher turned around from the whiteboard. Someone next to him giggled and he glanced over to see the cutest boy he’d ever laid eyes on. Mitch had felt dumbstruck as his cheeks heated in reaction.

“Close call,” the kid had whispered with a nod toward the teacher. “I heard she doesn’t put up with latecomers.”

Mitch pulled himself together and smiled.

It wasn’t until class was over that they were able to talk.

“I’m Mitchell Moon,” he’d offered, as the guy rose from his desk. “Everyone calls me Mitch, though.”

Craig had beamed at him, his blue eyes sparkling a little as he leaned down until their faces were only inches apart. “Hi, Mitchell,” he said with a wink. “My name’s Craig Pruitt.”

And that was that—they became instant friends, bonding over video games, movies, and their love of Star Trek. It was the kind of friendship only found once in a lifetime. Mitch had come out to Craig within the first week of meeting him and his friend hadn’t even blinked.

There was only one problem with their friendship—Mitch had never been able to shake the attraction he felt for Craig. And over the years, as they earned their associate’s degrees from Longview and moved on to UMKC, their bond grew and his feelings for Craig only strengthened.

When Craig had confided in him that he thought he was bisexual their sophomore year, Mitch’s hopes had been raised, but by that time he was firmly planted in the friend zone. So he did what a best friend should—he supported Craig as he came to terms with things and accepted who he was.

He’d admitted that he’d had a crush on a guy in high school, but it ran its course and he never acted on it. As far as Mitch knew, Craig had only dated two guys since then, nothing panning out toward a full-time relationship, though. But he’d had his share of casual hookups with men. Craig had gone a little wild when he’d first come out as bisexual, but had calmed down over the years. In fact, Mitch couldn’t remember him even going on a date during their senior year.

He’d seen the types of men Craig seemed to be attracted to, and they were nothing like Mitch, so he’d tucked his feelings away again and told himself not to go there anymore. It was an ongoing internal battle, but most of the time, he had a handle on it.

This last year of college, they’d found a cheap two-bedroom apartment near campus and moved in that summer. Sharing a small space with the man of his dreams had been hard. Especially when Craig often walked around their place wearing only a pair of boxers.

Mitch was honest enough to admit he’d fantasized about Craig too many times to count and would probably continue to do so long after he’d moved. Maybe that’s how it always was with a first love or major crush.

In his heart, he knew being apart would be good for them. Well, at least it would be for Mitch. Maybe he could finally go out with someone without constantly comparing him to Craig. But in the meantime, he continued to fight the attraction. The desire. The love.

Because that’s what it had turned into. Love. Over the years, the longing, the emotional connection he felt with Craig, it had all turned to love. He wasn’t even sure when it had happened, but there was no denying Mitch was in love with his best friend.

And just when he was close to being free, there they were. One last hurrah before moving out of state. One last adventure with Craig.

What was he going to do without him? He turned to stare out the window, his eyes blind to the passing scenery. All he could see was a future without Craig, and it was shrouded in gray. Mitch was so tired of fighting his feelings. He chuckled to himself.

He was the stereotypical guy in love with his best friend. He knew it was useless, but if Craig had asked him to go to California with him, Mitch would have dropped everything and followed him out west. He knew how pathetic that sounded, but when it came to Craig, Mitch didn’t care what others might think.

About an hour later, Craig pulled over to a gas station to fuel up and grab some snacks. Mitch used the disgusting bathroom, holding his breath as he did his business, quickly washed up, and made his way into the convenience store.

Craig was at the counter paying and held up a bag of items.

“I’m just going to get a drink,” Mitch told him as he walked past Craig. His friend grabbed his arm, wrapping his fingers around his wrist.

“I already got you your Dr Pepper,” he told Mitch with a smile. “And your Kit Kat.”

Mitch wanted to respond. Wanted to say thank you. But all he could do was revel in the sensation of Craig’s touch. Electricity prickled his skin, skittering through him.

“Mitchell?” Craig’s voice was low. He sounded worried.

“Sorry. Just… forgot what I was going to say,” he lied, knowing he sounded lame. He noticed Craig hadn’t let go of his wrist and raised his eyes to meet his friend’s gaze. Mitch was surprised at the intensity. The large black pupils. The flushed cheeks. “I-I’m… fine. Thanks for grabbing some things for me.”

Craig studied him, looking like he wanted to say something, but finally let Mitch go and they walked back out to the car and settled in.

“Less than an hour left,” Craig announced.

Mitch tried to tamp down his excitement, but it was difficult. He’d always wanted to visit Hannibal. He’d read all of Mark Twain’s stories, and knowing he was from Missouri had encouraged him when he’d dreamed about becoming a writer.

Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in English had put him closer to that dream. Being hired to work on a grassroots website devoted to getting people registered to vote had been exciting and he was looking forward to starting next month. He was less excited about the magazine internship. West Virginia tourism was definitely not something he remotely cared about.

He’d only taken it because his sister, Samantha, lived in West Virginia, where the magazine was headquartered, and she had helped him get the interview. Plus he could stay with her until he got a feel for the area. Samantha was also providing him with apartment information, so he would have several to check out when he moved.

The magazine hadn’t been in his original plans. He’d wanted to stay in Kansas City after graduation and work on his writing. His dream was to become a published author. Mitch lived to write, creating fantasy worlds and bringing characters to life.

Over the years, he’d managed to put some money away, through his work at the coffee shop. Add what he’d been given as graduation gifts from his mother, his sister, and various relatives, and he was confident he could afford to give the writing thing a try for a while—as long as he had a roommate and a part-time job.

When Craig announced he’d taken a job in California, working for a nonprofit that helped homeless teens, Mitch’s plans took a nosedive. While he’d been proud of Craig, the idea of staying in Kansas City without him was depressing.

If he was going to start a new chapter in his life and really get over Craig, staying where he’d be constantly reminded of their times together was out of the question. Writing would have to take a back seat to making a living. Mitch was trying to be an adult and make responsible choices—decisions that would help him move forward.

Maybe a new start in a new city would help him finally find a man that he could be in a real relationship with.

He just had to survive this trip without telling his best friend the truth he’d hidden for years.

Author Bio

Sarah Hadley Brook lives smack-dab in the middle of the Heartland and is the mother of two wonderful young men, as well as two cats. During the day, she works in the nonprofit world, but reserves evenings for her hobby-turned-passion of writing, letting the characters she conjures in her mind take the lead and show her where the story will go.

When not working or writing, she can be found reading, working on dollhouses, trying her hand at new recipes, or watching old movies and musicals. In her ideal world, Christmas would come at least twice a year, Rock Hudson and Doris Day would have co-starred in more than three movies, and chocolate would be a daily necessity.

She dreams of traveling to Scotland some day and visiting the places her ancestors lived. Sarah believes in “Happily Ever After” and strives to ensure her characters find their own happiness in love and life.

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Release Blitz: Pisces Hooks Taurus by Anyta Sunday

Pisces Hooks Taurus | Anyta Sunday

Signs of Love #4

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Release Date (Print & Ebook): October 16, 2018

Length (Print & Ebook): 69000 words / 285 pages

Order now: https://www.anytasunday.com/#pisces-hooks-taurus

Synopsis

It’s a time for searching, and a time for finding, Pisces: keep casting your line and you will hook what you’re looking for.

Zane has it all planned out: land the perfect Meet Cute, fall in love, and live happily ever after.
Should be simple enough if he put his mind to it. A little creativity and some thinking outside of the box, and voila, he’d be married to the woman of his dreams.
It would be perfect.
And it would be before his visa ran out.

But why are his feelings running wild now that the pressure’s on? Why is his picture-perfect plan turning into a muddled mess of morphed metaphors he can’t make sense of any more?

Just as well he’s met an English professor to help. And even though their first meet is anything but cute, this down-to-earth teacher may just be the realist Zane needs to ground him and give him a shot at love after all.

Don’t cast your line too wide, Pisces. Your perfect catch may already have bitten.

Pisces Hooks Taurus (Signs of Love #4) is an MM opposites-attract romantic comedy featuring an unapologetic romantic and a broken realist.
More wit, banter and bad puns – and even more heart-stopping slow burn!
Can be read as a standalone.

Tropes: friends-to-lovers, slow burn, will-they-or-won’t-they

Genre: New Adult, light-hearted, contemporary, gay romance

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~ – ~ – ~

Excerpt

“What is that?
Beckett’s mum and guests had left, and Beckett had brought Zane and his worldly belongings into an exposed-beam attic with a chain-pull light.

Zane set his box and suitcase against a slanted wall. The small, empty space contained a tiny window, a chest of drawers, and a low futon. Dust spokes glittered under the swaying light.

Beckett pointed at Zane’s box, one brow arched.

Zane laid the bearskin rug on the floor and straightened out the kinks. Beckett gaped at the bear poised as if to eat his ankle.
“I thought it was romantic,” Zane said with a sigh. He rested back on his heels, soft fur against his knees. “Now I’m kinda stuck with the beast.”

“Tough cross to bear.”
Zane grinned. “What’s with the word-wittage, anyway?”

“Word-wittage. Nice alliteration. I like playing with words.” Beckett sidestepped the bear and gestured around the attic. “The wooden slats are creaky, the bathroom is back down the ladder. My sister is returning from Europe Thursday, staying here until she finds her own place. The couch is too small for you, so . . . .”

“I’m totally cool to bunk with you.”
Beckett swept a hand through his hair, gaze darting toward the bed, the window. “There’ll be no bunking.”

Understood. He had a few days to find another accommodation—or convince Beckett that bunking could be fun.
Zane pulled his drawing tablet and stylus from their cushioned compartment. “Did you want to head to Chiffon with your friends? Whatever Chiffon is.”

“It’s a bar where we professors drink pinot noir and pontificate on the pleasures of punning.”
“Um . . . .”
“It’s a pretentious penis party.”

Zane turned around, armed with the supplies he needed to finish—or fix—the comic. “Sounds like a . . . picnic?”
The corners of Beckett’s mouth pulled up. Zane dropped the electronics to the bed and crossed over to the professor.

He tapped a finger against the wine stain at the side of Beckett’s blazer lapel. “Proof that you snorted your wine while we texted? I’ll have it dry-cleaned, if you’d like?”
“It’s not your fault. I’ll sort it out. Use it as an excuse to buy another one.”
Zane caught a whiff of Beckett’s clean scent with a subtle spicing of aftershave. Blue eyes met his, curious and hesitant.

A fat, black spider bungee-jumped from the beam above them and dangled in Zane’s face. He dropped the fingers that had lingered on Beckett’s chest and scrambled to the wall.
“Does a big, strapping man like you need me to remove the tiny bastard?”
“That’s a big, strapping yes.”

A few precise movements later, Beckett trapped the hairy beast in his hands. Insane yet heroic.
The bed squealed as Beckett kneeled on it. Zane crawled next to him, opened the window, and beat a quick retreat as Beckett set the spider free. “The sheets are freshly changed, and you can help yourself to breakfast.”

Fresh bed and breakfast? Lovely. But Zane was more concerned about suicidal spiders. He studied the ceiling with a shudder. “Do you think there are more?”
The window clapped shut, sealing off the cool breeze. “Would you feel better sleeping with my cat?”

Zane’s attention pivoted to Beckett’s hands fitting the lock. Long-fingered, deft, sure. “I’d feel better sleeping with you.”

Beckett let out a strangled sound, swung off the bed, and zipped to the ladder. “Good night, Zane,” he said, and dropped out of sight.

Zane called after him. “Fine, I’ll take the cat.”

Pisces Hooks Taurus 2

About Anyta Sunday

HEART-STOPPING SLOW BURN

A bit about me: I’m a big, BIG fan of slow-burn romances. I love to read and write stories with characters who slowly fall in love.

Some of my favorite tropes to read and write are: Enemies to Lovers, Friends to Lovers, Clueless Guys, Bisexual, Pansexual, Demisexual, Oblivious MCs, Everyone (Else) Can See It, Slow Burn, Love Has No Boundaries.

I write a variety of stories, Contemporary MM Romances with a good dollop of angst, Contemporary lighthearted MM Romances, and even a splash of fantasy.

My books have been translated into German, Italian, French, and Thai.

Connect with Anyta

Author website: http://www.anytasunday.com/

Author newsletter signup: http://www.anytasunday.com/newsletter-free-e-book/

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/anytasunday

Instagram: https://instagram.com/anytasunday

Giveaway

Win an e-book set of 3 Signs of Love books: Leo Loves Aries, Scorpio Hates Virgo, and Gemini Keeps Capricorn or a reader’s choice of back catalog e-book by Anyta Sunday

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Smashing best friend’s brother romance from Baylin Crow

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was just smashing. I do enjoy a good best friend’s brother romance and, while this is a young adult one, it never felt like it.

Now, that’s not to say the characters read older either, they didn’t, and for the vast majority of this book, both Dean and Hayden were acting as I’d expect an 18-year-old and a 22-year-old.

Apart from the big conflict, which I must admit, didn’t quite work for me only because I don’t think enough build-up had been given to why Dean reacted as he did.

Instead, it felt like an overreaction to something which hadn’t, imho, been justified by the narrative at that point.

That is my only minor criticism though, the rest of the book is a delightful romance between someone who never expected to fall in love and the guy who had always been in love.

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

View all my reviews

Guest Post: An interview with A Dance of Water and Air author Antonia Aquilante

When did you write your first story and what was the inspiration for it?

I’ve been writing forever, so I honestly have no idea what the first one was! My mom still talks about a story I wrote when I was 8 or 9 for a school assignment. It had a girl on an adventure through Leprechaun Land (the assignment was for St. Patrick’s Day), and I have no idea where the inspiration for that came from, but I’ve always liked creating magical worlds.

I wrote a 60-page murder mystery with a romantic subplot for a short story assignment when I was 12 that was absolutely inspired by all the Agatha Christie books I was reading around that time and the romances I’d just begun to read. That was also when I decided I would be an author when I grew up. As I got into high school, more of what I wrote was fantasy romance. I loved fantasy, but I needed more happily ever afters in them!

Do you have a writing schedule or do you just write when you can find the time?

My day job schedule isn’t consistent, so I write whenever I can find the time. I do write every day, and I have daily word count goals to try to keep myself on track.

Briefly describe the writing process. Do you create an outline first? Do you seek out inspirational pictures, videos or music? Do you just let the words flow and then go back and try and make some sense out it?

I don’t outline. I’m not a strict planner. For every new manuscript, I pull out a new notebook—which I pick out from the stack of pretty notebooks I’ve collected based on if it feels right for the story (it’s a little strange, I know). In the notebook, I first scribble out anything I know about the story. It’s usually broad strokes at this point. Then I try to get to know my characters. I write everything I know about them and try to figure out as much as I can.

I don’t need to know every detail of the plot to write, but I do need to know my characters. I also make notes on the world, if I need to. A Dance of Water and Air starts a new series set in a new world with a different magic system, so I did a lot of figuring that out before I started writing. Once I’ve gone as far as I can, I start writing and figure out the rest as I go. I jump around, so I have to put everything together at the end and make sure it flows. And make sure everything is consistent because sometimes things change as I write.

Where did the desire to write LGBT romance come from?

I mostly followed the characters to it. I had an idea that became my first published book, The Prince’s Consort, which was a gay romance. I’m a firm believer that everyone deserves love and hope and joy and happily ever after and deserves to see that in books.

I hope my books can bring a little more of that into the world. I’ve been writing more stories with demisexual characters lately—both A Dance of Water and Air and my previous book, The Merchant’s Love, have demisexual main characters—because I want more of them. I’ve always tried to write the stories I want to read.

How much research do you do when writing a story and what are the best sources you’ve found for giving an authentic voice to your characters?

How much research depends on the book. I tend to research random things as I go along. With A Dance of Water and Air, I fell down the research rabbit hole briefly when I was thinking about the elemental magic system I was creating. It was all really interesting, though it didn’t all make it into the book. As for giving authentic voices to characters, I think talking with people and reading widely are so important.

What’s harder, naming your characters, creating the title for your book or the cover design process?

The title! I’m horrible at titles. I love naming characters. Names have always interested me (I got some strange looks as a teenager buying baby name books at my local bookstore, but I was fascinated by meanings and origins and connotations), and picking the right name for each character is one of my favorite things.

Titles can be bad though. I either am struck with inspiration once the book is mostly written, or I’m struggling for weeks and begging for help. My mom actually came up with the title for my first book.

 

Blog Tour: A Dance of Water and Air by Antonia Aquilante

A Dance of Water and Air | Antonia Aquilante

Elemental Magicae #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press, LLC

Release Date: October 1, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 83,600

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, fantasy, trans, magic, elements, court intrigue, arranged marriage, friends to lovers

Add to Goodreads

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Purchase

NineStar Press, LLC | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Synopsis

Edmund is heir to the throne of Thalassa and a wielder of Water magic. Devoted to his kingdom and his duty to it, Edmund can do nothing but acquiesce to an arranged marriage with the queen of a neighboring kingdom. The marriage and the child it is required to produce will seal an alliance between Thalassa and Aither that is vital to Thalassa’s safety, and far more important than Edmund’s personal misgivings.

Arden is the younger brother of Aither’s queen and a wielder of Air magic. Raised in the politics of the court to support his sister’s rule, he understands the alliance is important to Aither, even as he worries about his sister marrying someone she’s never met. When Edmund arrives in Aither to prepare for the wedding, Arden is tasked with helping him settle in at court. As they spend more time together, Edmund and Arden develop a close friendship, then stronger feelings, but with Edmund’s wedding approaching, they must hide their feelings, even from themselves.

When someone tries to assassinate the queen, Edmund is blamed, and Arden rescues him before he can be executed for a crime he didn’t commit. To prevent a war between their kingdoms and protect them from a dangerous enemy, Edmund and Arden will have to discover who wants to pit Aither and Thalassa against each other and mend relations between the two kingdoms as they evade those searching for them—all while finding a way to be together.

Dance of Water and Air Teaser

Excerpt

The Dance of Water and Air
Antonia Aquilante © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Edmund swam, long limbs slicing through the clear, warm water. His mind quieted in the repetitive motion, in the weightlessness and the comfort of being surrounded by his Element. Everything washed away, leaving him calm and relaxed, the only time he ever was lately.

If only he could stay there.

He imagined it for a moment. Spending his life swimming and sailing. All his time in the soothing embrace of the water, or at the shore or bank, feeling Water’s power, learning to use its magic. It was a lovely dream. A lovely, impossible dream. With that thought, tension—the tension his morning swim had briefly dispelled—came flooding back. He stopped swimming and flipped onto his back, closing his eyes and taking a deep breath before letting it out in a long sigh.

The sigh had barely left him when he heard the scrape of a shoe against stone. He bit back another sigh and flipped over again to straighten and tread water in the center of the large pool. His secretary stood on the tiled terrace. Peregrine knew better than anyone that this time was Edmund’s and wouldn’t disturb him unless it was urgent. Disaster or grave injury were top of the list.

“Good morning.”

“Good morning, Highness.” Peregrine would never call him by name when someone else might hear, and Edmund would never try to convince him otherwise. Edmund was far too aware of the dictates of his own position. And far too grateful to have found a friend in Peregrine to quibble overly about how they had to behave in public. “I apologize for disturbing you, sir, but the king has called for you.”

A summons from Father certainly counted as a valid reason to disturb him, especially with the rising tensions between Thalassa and their neighbor, Tycen. It seemed Edmund would be cutting his swim short this morning. He struck out for the terrace where Peregrine waited, swimming with steady but unhurried strokes. He wouldn’t dawdle, but if there had been reason to rush, Peregrine would have said.

Soon enough, he reached the terrace and pulled himself up to sit on the edge. Peregrine handed him a towel. He wiped his face first and stood to strip off his soaking wet swim pants and dry the rest of him. Peregrine wouldn’t care about Edmund’s nudity, and he didn’t worry that someone else would come upon them. The pool he chose for his swims wasn’t the largest of the many on the palace grounds, but it was the most private. The terrace they stood on was the only one that connected to the palace, and it was shaded from view. The rest of the area was screened with trees and shrubbery. The smaller terraces on the side opposite them were even more secluded. He’d spent much time in the pool, which was fed by the same underground spring as the rest of the palace waterways, and on the terraces over the years.

Once Edmund was dry, Peregrine handed him the robe he’d left hanging over the back of a chair when he’d arrived. He’d also left a book there—he’d been far too optimistic about his time when he came down here, apparently. He thanked Peregrine and shrugged into the blue-green silk. It was new, something he hadn’t really needed, but he liked the color against his brown skin and the feel of the smooth, cool silk.

“Any idea what my father needs?” Edmund stepped into his sandals and picked up his book from the table.

“None.”

He raised his eyebrow at Peregrine in surprise. Edmund could always rely on Peregrine for more information than seemed possible about everyone from the maids to the king. He’d long since gotten over any misgivings about Peregrine’s seeming omniscience and begun to rely on it. For Peregrine not to have an inkling of what was brewing… Odd. And slightly disturbing.

“I guess we’ll find out.”

Not immediately, of course. A summons through official channels called for more formality. Edmund couldn’t appear in the king’s presence in nothing but a thin robe and sandals. Peregrine kept pace as Edmund walked to his rooms, informing him of other court news and gossip that he might find interesting or useful as they walked.

Edmund’s rooms were a floor up from the garden pool. A guard stationed near the door jumped to open it for Edmund as he approached. He nodded but didn’t slow as he sailed through the door, Peregrine at his heels. His sandals made soft tapping sounds on the green and white tile of the entryway. His sitting room opened up in front of him, curtains fluttering in the breeze blowing in off the ocean below. He had no time to relax there or even to eat the breakfast that was sure to be laid out in the dining room. Instead, he turned left, taking the short hallway leading to his bedchamber, dressing room, and bathing room.

He went directly to the bathing room. Wide windows let in sunlight over the large tub, empty because he usually bathed after breakfast. There was no time to fill it, let alone soak. He settled for rinsing the salt from his skin with water from the basin and briskly rubbed a towel over his shoulder-length hair. Having it drip all over his clothing while he met with Father just wouldn’t do. When he’d squeezed as much of the water from it as he could, he left the towel and went to the dressing room.

Peregrine was there, laying out clothes.

“That isn’t your job,” Edmund said.

“I’m aware.”

“I can select my own clothing.”

“I’m aware of that as well. Put them on anyway.”

Edmund laughed and did as he was told. Peregrine was only saving him time and knew what would be appropriate for him to wear, considering the meeting with Father and the day ahead. He pulled on undergarments and slim gray pants and dropped a sleeveless white shirt over his head. Peregrine held out a dark teal jacket for him, helping him shrug into the embroidered silk. Edmund murmured his thanks and fastened the jacket over his chest, fingers working quickly over the row of little silver buttons. When he was finished, he stepped into shoes and fastened the silver and aquamarine drop earrings Peregrine had just pulled from their box into his ears. It was the only jewelry Peregrine had chosen, and as he looked in the mirror, Edmund had to admit he was probably right in that. The clothing didn’t need more.

“Thank you,” Edmund said.

“My pleasure, Edmund.”

“Perhaps I should have you dress me every day. You have an eye for it. Much better than anyone else. Do you think you’d prefer it to being my secretary?”

Peregrine sent a stern frown at Edmund. “Funny.”

It was, for any number of reasons. Only one being that Peregrine was frighteningly efficient in his present position and far too good at it to do anything else. In fact, he was far too skilled to be anything except a royal secretary, and it was Edmund’s good fortune to have him.

“Shall we?” Peregrine didn’t mention that Edmund shouldn’t keep Father waiting, but he didn’t have to.

“Yes. Catch me up on any changes to my schedule as we walk.”

Peregrine did so, barely consulting his notebook. Edmund listened carefully as they left his rooms and strode through the palace corridors. His own wing, reserved for the rooms of the royal children, was quiet as it was only occupied by him and Kerenza. His sister would still be abed—she preferred to rise late when she had the opportunity—and he had no appointments that might bring anyone to his office until later in the day. When they passed out of the wing, the entrance marked by a three-tiered fountain decorated in mosaics of blue and green tiles, the corridors became more populated. But everyone gave way for the prince and his secretary, bowing as Edmund passed them.

Father’s office was near the council chambers and other administrative offices in the main block of the palace. He worked sometimes in the small private library attached to his rooms, but all his official meetings took place here. If Edmund had any doubt that today’s summons was serious and formal, it would have been dispelled by the location of the meeting.

Peregrine knocked when they arrived, and a moment later, the door was opened by Father’s secretary, who bowed and stepped aside. Edmund bowed slightly as soon as he entered the room, then walked closer to Father’s desk. Peregrine remained back near the closed door. Father looked up from the papers he was examining to study Edmund with a keen eye. Edmund was sure Father was cataloging every detail of his appearance from his attire to his still damp hair.

Father was dressed formally, as Edmund would expect. His jacket was green, heavily embroidered in gold and white, the color vivid against his dark skin. The circlet of his rank sat on his head amid black curls now streaked with gray. Edmund had not worn his own circlet, deeming it unnecessary for the day he had planned; he hoped he wouldn’t regret that decision. The set of Father’s features caused Edmund’s stomach to churn unpleasantly.

“You called for me, Father?”

“Yes. Come sit down. I need to speak with you.” The seriousness of his tone did nothing to alleviate Edmund’s sudden concern.

Edmund took the chair across from Father’s desk, hoping he properly concealed his anxiety. He’d been trained all his life to mask every emotion, so he’d best be able to. He looked at Father and waited for him to speak.

“As you know, we’ve been pursuing an alliance with Aither,” Father said.

And, of course, Edmund did know, though he hadn’t been involved in the negotiations. Aither sat at their western border. Theirs was generally a friendly border to begin with, trade flowing freely between the two countries, but Father and his council had hoped that the looming threat of Tycen’s aggression might worry Aither’s young queen as much as it had them and would tempt her into an alliance. Edmund hadn’t been informed about the state of the negotiations in some time. Had they gone horribly wrong?

“We’ve come to an agreement with Queen Hollis.”

“You—” Edmund stopped. He’d been so sure Father was going to say just the opposite that he couldn’t believe what he’d heard. “That’s wonderful, Father. Did the final agreement go as you’d hoped?”

“We got what we needed from it.”

“Good.” And yet the relief Edmund should’ve been feeling didn’t come. Father didn’t look as if he’d just concluded a successful negotiation, didn’t look as if he was pleased by the outcome. Or…no, not as if he was displeased, but too serious. “Is something wrong?”

“Not at all. However, the promises of increased trade and mutual protection were not enough on their own to secure the alliance we needed.”

Edmund wasn’t surprised, though he hadn’t been privy to the particulars of what Father wanted, aside from Aither standing with them should Tycen press their aggression. “What did they ask for?”

“Queen Hollis and her advisors required more assurance of our compliance, and truth be told, I wasn’t upset to have more of theirs. They’re Air wielders, so they’re different from us, but Water and Air are compatible. Even if I would have preferred an alliance with no deeper entanglements.”

“Father?” A rush of cold spread through Edmund’s veins.

“You and Queen Hollis will wed with the expectation of a child being born within two years. The alliance will be secured by blood and all the stronger for it.”

Meet the Author

Antonia Aquilante has been making up stories for as long as she can remember, and at the age of twelve, decided she would be a writer when she grew up. After many years and a few career detours, she has returned to that original plan. Her stories have changed over the years, but one thing has remained consistent—they all end in happily ever after.

She has a fondness for travel (and a long list of places she wants to visit and revisit), taking photos, family history, fabulous shoes, baking treats (which she shares with friends and family), and of course, reading. She usually has at least two books started at once and never goes anywhere without her Kindle. Though she is a convert to e-books, she still loves paper books the best, and there are a couple thousand of them residing in her home with her.

Born and raised in New Jersey, Antonia is living there again after years in Washington, DC and North Carolina for school and work. She enjoys being back in the Garden State but admits to being tempted every so often to run away from home and live in Italy.

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Read My Interview With The Author Below

10/8 – Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings

10/9 – Love Bytes

10/10 – Bayou Book Junkie

10/10 – Divine Magazine

10/11 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

10/12 – Valerie Ullmer | Romance Author

10/12 – AL Boyd

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Release Blitz: Craft Brew by Layla Reyne

Craft Brew | Layla Reyne

Trouble Brewing #2

Craft Brew

Release Date: E-Book and Audio – October 8
Paperback – October 30

All links

Carina: http://bit.ly/2luKFZr
AMZ: https://amzn.to/2NVKiUB
UBL: https://books2read.com/craftbrew/
Genre: MM, Romantic Suspense

Publisher: Carina Press

Synopsis

Assistant US attorney Dominic Price is staring down the barrel of his father’s debts. The bull’s-eye on his back makes him a threat to everyone he cares about, so when his lover wants to go public with their relationship, he bolts. Not because he isn’t in love—he can’t stomach the thought of putting Cam in danger.

Kidnap and rescue expert Cameron Byrne is determined to figure out what trouble Nic is running from, but devastating news from home brings him back to Boston and to the cold case that has haunted his family for two decades. Shoving aside his pride, he calls Nic for help.

Together they search for answers, navigating the minefield of Cam’s past. But when they get too close to the truth, Cam must use every skill in his arsenal to save the man he loves…before it’s too late.

Tropes and Themes: Workplace romance, forced proximity, friends-to-lovers, coming out

Craft Brew #2

Excerpt

He took the steps two at a time, but ground to a halt inside the door. Across the cabin, Cam stood by the mini-bar, arms braced on the polished wood, torso heaving with deep, labored breaths. Nic glanced over his shoulder; Aidan and Jamie hadn’t emerged from the terminal. Stealing a moment, while he still had a chance, he crossed the cabin and wrapped his arms around Cam from behind.

Cam stiffened at first, but after another hitched breath, he relaxed into the hold, and Nic hugged him tighter, same as he’d done earlier. He nuzzled the nape of his neck, inhaling deep. “I wish you’d let me go with you,” he whispered.

So I can make sure you come back.

Cam’s “I do, too” was so quiet Nic barely heard it.

But it landed like a kick to his chest.

“Then why—”

Cam rotated in his arms, silencing him with a quick, hard kiss. “Please wait until I get back to move on Vaughn.”

Maybe he was worried about the mess Nic’s family was in somehow reaching his in Boston. “Is that—”

“Your turn to be quiet and careful. I can’t be there dealing with my family and worrying about you back here. Just wait to make any moves, please.”

Nic nodded, because at least Cam was talking about returning. “Okay, we won’t move on Vaughn until you’re back.”

Cam lifted his hands, framing his face. “And think about telling Aidan, at least about the mole inside the Bureau. And go to Moore. I trust him.”

“Shh, Boston.” Nic laid his hands over Cam’s. He was rambling again, worrying about him and Vaughn instead of what was truly terrifying him. “Don’t worry about me,” Nic reassured him, making up for the earlier lost opportunity, as best he could. “I’ll fly under the radar. I’ll be safe. You worry about your family.”

“You are—”

Using Cam’s own moves against him, Nic kissed him quiet, silencing the demanding flutter of his own damn heart as well.

“Call me if you need me,” Nic said. “I’ll be on the first plane out. Or I’ll phone a friend again, if need be.”

Craft Brew #1

“CRAFT BREW is a fast-paced, suspenseful novel that will take you on an emotional thrill-ride from beginning to end. I couldn’t stop turning the page to find out what happened next!” — Hailey Turner, bestselling author of the Soulbound series and Metahuman Files series

 “I loved this book. In the second installation of the Trouble Brewing series the relationship between Nic and Cam is stretched to breaking point, as Nic’s troubles circle ever closer and they have to delve into Cam’s past.

“Layla Reyne infuses the story with all her trademark action scenes and taut plotting, but she never loses sight of the romance at the centre. This is both hot and touching, and remains the spark that totally lights up this series.”  — Lily Morton, author of the bestselling Mixed Messages series

About Layla Reyne

Layla Reyne - Author Photo

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.

Author Links:

FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/216903272072959/
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Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/laylareyne

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Release Blitz: Not Just Friends by Jay Northcote

 

Not Just Friends | Jay Northcote

RBBanner (6)

Buy Links: 

Amazon US: https://amzn.to/2pAxxnz

Amazon UK: https://amzn.to/2NnIT8b

Length: 200 pages

Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design

NotJustFriends_2018

Blurb

 

Is it worth risking a friendship for a chance at love?

Leaving home to go to university is an exciting phase in anyone’s life. One that’s full of new places, new friends, and new experiences. But Lewis isn’t prepared for the sudden and intense crush he develops on his out-and-proud flatmate, Max, because Lewis had always assumed he was straight.

Max starts dating another guy, and Lewis’s jealousy at seeing them together forces him to confront his growing attraction. When Max’s relationship goes awry, Lewis is the one to comfort him and one thing leads to another. After a night together, Lewis is devastated that Max wants to go back to being just friends.

Lewis tries his best to move on and their friendship survives, but the feelings he has for Max don’t go away. He faces other challenges as he deals with coming out to his parents, and needs Max’s support more than ever.

But Lewis isn’t the only one who’s conflicted. When Max finally admits he cares for Lewis too, Lewis must decide whether he dares risk his heart again on being more than just friends.

Please note that although this edition has been re-edited for publication, there is no new or additional content.

80f57-copy2bof2bjay2b252812529

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

 

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