Release Blitz: Level Up by Annabeth Albert

Level Up | Annabeth Albert

Level Up Cover

Release Date: May 17, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40,000 words

Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

Goodreads

Blurb

Landon can’t believe he’s let himself get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.

However, Bailey ends up being not quite what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.

A tentative friendship is born, but the road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the line.

Previously released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a guaranteed happy ending.

Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no on-screen violence or flashbacks.

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Excerpt

Annabeth says: “This is their first kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!

***

Bailey was the type who moved a lot as he gamed, biceps flexing, knees wiggling, shoulders jostling. Landon always liked people who got so into gaming, but it was more than a little distracting. His body was quickly coming to associate that orange scent of Bailey’s with good things, and other parts of him apparently liked Bailey’s nearness, which was a novelty because instead of intimidated, as he would have expected, he was more than a little turned on.

“Oh man, that was a rush.” Bailey laughed as both of their health meters dipped to zero. “I’m almost wishing I’d gone into game art, not photography. Amazing how these graphics have held up over the years.”

“Totally. And speaking of art, let me find the Space Villager stuff.” Landon reluctantly stepped away from the game. He headed to the nearby kitchen, where he was pretty the papers were buried with a stack of mail. Paper control was not his strong suit. “You’ll go nuts at the latest screenshots and promo teasers.”

“Cool.” Rather than follow Landon, Bailey went to sit on the couch.

“You want a drink while I’m in here?” Landon called to him after he found the papers under a pile of pizza ads. “I’ve got four flavors of Snapple, soda, and water.”

“Surprise me with a Snapple flavor.” Bailey looked right at home on Landon’s couch, lounging back.

He really did not look at all like any photographer Landon had ever met, and curiosity had him asking, “So why photography? You said you could have done game design?”

“Yeah, I had plenty of friends at the art institute go that direction. But I’ve been in love with photography ever since I worked on our middle school yearbook. I figured out quickly that taking pictures of events and sports was far more fun than trying to do the sports myself, so I did yearbook all through high school, got a photography scholarship to the art institute in Portland.”

“So you don’t play a sport?” Landon had a hard time believing that. With Bailey’s height and breadth, he totally looked like he lived for weekend games of some type.

“Nope. Hopelessly uncoordinated.” Bailey shot him an endearing smile when Landon handed him the bottle of tea.

“Me too.” Landon clinked bottles with him, then held up the papers. “Found the codes. But can I show you some stuff on the TV screen while you have your drink?”

“Absolutely.” Bailey took a long swig of tea, and Landon had to look away before he got mesmerized by Bailey’s full mouth, how it looked when his tongue chased a stray drop of moisture, how pink it was in contrast to his paler skin and brown beard.

Landon queued up the pre-release trailer Josiah had sent him a link to. Bombastic music filled his small living room as on the screen, and a spaceship pulled in for a landing on a planet filled with ruins of a once-powerful civilization. The narrator had an iconic voice and detailed all the special features of the expansion pack. Landon had already watched this a half-dozen times, and it still gave him happy chills.

“Wow. I can’t wait.” Bailey looked suitably awed. “This is even cooler than when War Elf added the mystic raids.”

“I know, right? Now look at the in-game screen shots.” He brought up another video, body relaxing more and more despite Bailey’s nearness. It was just so awesome to have someone new to share this with. He’d been hyped about this all week, but Pike was distracted by his boyfriend Zack’s deployment, Savannah didn’t game much, and the rest of his regular crew seemed to have other things occupying their attention.

Somehow, as he shared more video clips, he drifted closer to Bailey, so that their knees were almost rubbing. It wasn’t a giant couch, so there wasn’t a ton of room to move back, but even so, Landon wasn’t looking for an escape. He was aware of Bailey, very much so, but not nearly as freaked out as he’d been a few hours ago. Instead, his senses seemed to soak up Bailey’s scent and nearness, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth video that he realized that he was aroused.

Clink. Somehow Landon’s left hand, holding his drink, and Bailey’s right hand tangled.

“Oops.” He tried to extricate himself without spilling both beverages. Bending to put his on the floor, he hadn’t realized that Bailey had also leaned down until their heads collided.

“Ow,” they said simultaneously.

“Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry.” Bailey reached out, feeling around on Landon’s head. “Did you see stars? Break the skin?”

“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away. Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he stroked down Landon’s jaw.

God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet. Arousing.

Bailey leaned in again, way slower this time, all the time in the world for Landon to stop him. But he didn’t. Bailey’s beard tickled an instant before their lips met, a soft slide of mouths. Not aggressive at all, not the on-a-tight-schedule rush of a hookup, Bailey kissed like they had a sleepy Sunday afternoon to kill, like each reaction of Landon’s mattered, like he was trying to memorize something important and was going to take his time learning the lesson.

Landon was the first one to take things further, mouth opening on a sigh, welcoming Bailey’s agile tongue. He tasted sweet, like tea, and minty like the gum he’d popped after the pizza, familiar yet new at the same time. How had he managed to forget how awesome kissing could be? A laugh bubbled up in his chest, but quickly transformed to a groan of pleasure as Bailey nipped at his lower lip.

Not content to let Bailey be the one exploring, Landon sent his own tongue on a quest, tracing Bailey’s full lower lip, delving inside to rub tongues, retreating playfully to earn another nip. Fuck. This was nice. The video switched over to something random, and he barely registered it. He couldn’t say how long they kissed, just that he didn’t want it to ever end.

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Meet the Author

Annabeth-Headshot-Small

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

The #OutOfUniform series joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: www.annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify!

Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

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

Author Links

Website: http://www.annabethalbert.com/

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

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/AnnabethAlbert

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

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

Newsletter: http://eepurl.com/Nb9yv

Annabeth’s Angels: https://www.facebook.com/groups/annabethsangels/

Giveaway

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Seriously sweet and totally nerdy

Perfect Game (Legendary Pairs, #1)Perfect Game by Casey Cameron

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

3.5*

Holding my hand up now to owning a multitude of Magic the Gathering decks. My avatar is the .44 magnum by NeNe Thomas from the Vampire the Masquerade: Jyhad card game. I am that CCG nerd.

So this book was ace. I loved this little sneak peak into the world of pro card gaming, it’s one that’s a study in contrasts from the excitement of realising you’ve got a winning deck to soul crushing despair when you can’t get any cards out and you get your arse kicked.

Loved Neil and Robin and while things moved fast, it did work as a pairing and their little argument was both realistic and truthful. I’ve fallen out with the OH on more than one occasion over his white angelic deck.

The epilogue was super sweet and I liked that it was a big jump in the future, not just a few weeks! It lost a star for being so short but otherwise, great story with enough steam to keep things bubbling.

View all my reviews

My favourite – hot military men and geeks

Connection Error (#gaymers, #3)Connection Error by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

My favourite of the three. I’m a sucker for military men and hurting ones in needed of finding the right person to comfort them is my kryptonite.

I also loved that the other MC in this story is someone living with ADHD, and the sympathetic and brutally truthful way Annabeth Albert deals with both these men’s disabilities makes this book a little more real but no less a romantic journey.

Sex is also dealt with with an honesty that throws the spotlight on how a profound life changing incident can make someone lose all sense of who they are and how they used to be. For Navy SEAL Ryan, it means not only facing months of rehab, but also having to find how to be a sexually active gay man again.

With some beautifully crafted scenes and a little bit of Josiah’s innate inability to cut through the bull and just say what he’s thinking, their relationship slowly grows and changes from Ryan feeling like he can’t desert the younger man who he helped out when they got stuck with a cancelled flight into a friendship which is both soothing and stimulating.

It’s difficult to pin just what made this book so good for me, there isn’t a lot of steam in it, although there are a couple of very hot sessions, but there is a real sense of a relationship slowly blossoming from a chance encounter into a partnership of equals and the lodestone on which each man is able to lean on the other.

Plus it had ridiculously cute Labrador puppy Gracie, two wonderfully sympathetic mothers and the same madcap setting and secondary characters as the first two.

Will we get Pike and Zack next perhaps?

View all my reviews

Emotional and sensual romance

Beta Test (#gaymers, #2)Beta Test by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Tristan, how could I not fall in love with your spreadsheets, your Spartan life, your fluorescent yellow marker pen, your fear of letting go, your confusion about why Ravi attracted you so much.

And Ravi, beautiful, colourful, unashamedly out there Ravi, with your fear of complications, your rebellion against family traditions, your love of geekdom and 80s musical playlists.

With these two, Annabeth Albert proves that opposites not only can attract, but that they can find their soul mate in someone they are able to open up the deepest parts of themselves to and find only acceptance.

The sex in this one is achingly emotional, scorching hot and powerfully sensual all at once. They connect at a primeval level as they fight against their attraction to each other.

Throw in a road trip, a gaming convention, Pac-Man tattoos and the aforementioned 80s soundtrack to life ( which being a teenager in that decade I can highly recommend) and you have a joyous exploration of how finding our place in the world can be the scariest but most fulfilling adrenaline rush.

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I am a geek – these are my (gay) people

Status Update (#gaymers, #1)Status Update by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I seriously loved this. I’m a huge gamer so anyone that plays tribute to that world has a big advantage when I’m reading their books.

But there was more than just that to this story, it’s a low angst romance and, daft as it sounds given the circumstances and timeframe of it starting, it has a real slow burn feel to it, not a case of insta love.

Both the MCs are beautifully complex and fleshed out, birth have their own insecurities and fears but both see something in the other which makes them feel more stable, more willing to risk, even if it could result in losing everything.

Noah has the biggest hurdle to climb and he stumbles along the way, Adrian, while he never gives up hope, also finally realises he needs to stop offering excuses for why he only ever has long distance relationships.

Together we get virgin sex which is so tender and emotionally fulfilling without ever venturing into an outbreak of erotic porn, just one man finally allowing himself to be free to love and the perfect partner to take him on that journey.

That’s not to say they’re not hot together either, they are, but everything is done with a freshness and a care born of emotions that it’s infinitely more than just sex.

And the ending is so perfectly sweet it matches the cute cover. Oh, and there’s dogs too, big anti social Ulysses and teeny tiny Pixel, and their friendship journey is just as cute as their humans’ one.

View all my reviews