Tag Archives: new release blitz

New Release Blitz: Starting From Zero by Lane Hayes

Starting From Zero | Lane Hayes

Starting From #1

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Release Date: April 15

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 68,000

Genre: Romance, Rock star, May/December romance, Bisexual, LA, Humor, New beginning

Buy Links:

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Blurb

Justin Cuevas is going through a rough patch. A broken relationship, a scandal, and the demise of his band have shaken the aspiring rock star’s confidence. Working two jobs and sleeping on his friend’s sofa isn’t ideal, but Justin isn’t ready to give up yet.

With a little luck, he’s hoping to re-launch his music career in LA with his new band, Zero. The key is to stay focused, and not get distracted by his past…or the sexy songwriter he can’t get out of his head.

Gray Robertson has written dozens of hits and worked with some of the biggest names in the industry. But he’s never met anyone like Justin. The younger man is fiery, passionate, and smart. A powerful voice for a new generation. Other than an unforgettable one-night stand and a passion for music, the two men have nothing in common.

Or do they? Justin knows the out-of-the-blue challenge to write a quintessential love song is a huge opportunity. And it’s the ultimate test for someone who’s doesn’t believe in happily ever after. When sparks fly, Justin and Gray realize they have a shot something special if they start from zero together. Maybe even love.

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Excerpt

Justin turned to me with a fiery expression and gestured toward the glittering lights below. “Everyone here wants more than what they have. And I guess I’m the same. I don’t need recognition and I sure as fuck don’t want love, but I wouldn’t say no to a few bucks,” he commented with a laugh. “What about you?”

I did a double take. I was two steps behind, struggling to keep up, and if possible, memorize every word he’d said. I hadn’t been around anyone so raw or so honest in a long time. He made rules and broke them with at whim, letting me in and then shutting me out. He had a way of revealing himself that made me feel as though he was holding a mirror to me, daring me to acknowledge my broken pieces too. He was either slightly insane or incredibly gifted. I suspected it was the latter. The cadence of his speech lured me in…and made me want more. I’d tell him anything he wanted to know, just to be near him and this intense spark of…newness, creativity, and wonder.

“What about me?” I asked in a low raspy voice.

“What do you want to accomplish before you leave the planet?”

“I want to write the perfect song,” I replied unthinking.

“There’s no such thing.”

“Maybe, maybe not. But it would be nice to leave something that felt special.”

Justin held my gaze then inclined his head in agreement. “Yeah. I want that too.”

We stared at each other. Whispers of conversation floated from the far corners of the rooftop deck. We weren’t alone, but we might as well be. I couldn’t remember ever feeling so intimately connected to someone I’d never really touched. It was puzzling and enchanting at the same time.

He shivered when the breeze kicked up. I took it as a sign from above and pulled him against me. I had to feel him. I studied the sexy indentation in his bottom lip before giving into impulse and resting my hands on his hip. Justin gave me a funny look but he didn’t push me away.

“You shouldn’t be anonymous. You have too much to share. Too much to say,” I said.

“What are you doing?”

“I…I’m not sure. Is this okay?”

“Yeah. It’s good.” Justin nodded and snaked his arms around my waist.

We were still for a while. He was so close I could feel his breath on my lips. The lingering quiet was deceptive. A casual observer might have mistaken us for old lovers engaged in a tender moment. Or maybe they’d guess we were tentative strangers anxious to make the right moves. Not too fast, not too slow. Neither was correct. There was no quiet here. An electric current sizzled and hissed between us. Intense sexual awareness and something more. Something fiery and passionate. He was wild and rough with jagged edges and a sharp mind. Instinctively, I knew I should proceed with caution because walking away wasn’t an option.

“I want to kiss you,” I whispered, inching closer so our noses brushed.

Justin gave me a crooked smile and tugged at my belt loop. “Then do it.”

I tilted my chin slightly and pressed my lips to his. He was deceptively tender at first. He closed his eyes and hummed into the connection. When I licked at the corner of his mouth, he let me in without hesitation. I couldn’t get enough. He tasted like gin and nicotine with a hint of peppermint. All the things I apparently couldn’t do without.

I pulled him closer, cupping the back of his neck to kiss him harder and deeper. Our tongues twisted in a growing frenzy until everything and everyone around us dissolved into white noise. Justin lulled me into complacency and let me think I was in control. I pushed him back slightly and wrapped my fingers around his neck to keep him in place when he leaned forward to nip my bottom lip. He grinned like a madman and then lowered his eyelashes in a show of faux subservience. I didn’t trust him to stay still or obey for a second. Justin was wild and headstrong. He wasn’t going to do anything that wasn’t either his idea or a bad idea.

I should have known then that I’d met my match.

About the Author

Lane Hayes is finally doing what she loves best. Writing! An avid reader from an early age, Lane has always been drawn to romance novels.

She truly believes there is nothing more inspiring than a well-told love story with beautifully written characters. Lane discovered the M/M genre a fews ago and was instantly hooked.

She is the bestselling author of the Better Than, Right and Wrong, A Kind of Stories and Leaning Into Series and the Out in College series. Lane’s novels placed first in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards.

She loves travel, chocolate, and wine (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in an empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Bookbub


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New Release Blitz: Moonstruck by Aleksandr Voinov & L.A. Witt

Moonstruck | Aleksandr Voinov & LA Witt

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Publisher: 44 Raccoons

Release Date: 12 April 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 95,000

Genre: Romance, contemporary, friends to lovers, May/December

Buy Links:

Amazon

Add to Goodreads

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Blurb

Anthony Rawson is screwed. Fans, producers, and his agent are all chomping at the bit for the next book in his wildly popular Triple Moon series, but he’s got epic writer’s block and is way behind deadline. Then he reads Axis Mundi, a fanfic novel by his online friend “SirMarrok.” It isn’t just a great story—it’s exactly what the series needs.

Samir Daoud is thrilled when “Ulfhedinn” wants to meet up after reading Axis Mundi. When Ulfhedinn turns out to be Anthony Rawson himself, Samir is starstruck. When Anthony tells him he wants to add Axis Mundi to the Triple Moon series, Samir is sure he’s being pranked. And when their online chemistry carries over—big-time—into real life, Samir is convinced it’s all too good to be true.

The problem is … it might be. The book deal, the sex, the money—everything is amazing. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Samir is left wondering if Anthony really loves him, or just loves his book.

Previously Published as Lone Wolf in the Bluewater Bay series

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Excerpt

Grimacing, he stood and went back into the kitchen to plug in his phone. While it charged, he poured himself a cup of reheated half-day-old coffee, and as he drank it, he stared at his darkened phone. Axis Mundi was amazing. No two ways about it. He wondered what SirMarrok would think if he knew who he’d sent it to. He was probably shy and socially awkward—what writer wasn’t?—and thought he was sending this book to some other Triple Moon fan. Not the author himself.

I need to know the face behind this book.

Anthony tapped his fingers on the counter beside his phone. The two of them had chatted and emailed, even flirted a bit—okay, a lot—but they’d never exchanged photos or real names. According to SirMarrok’s administrator profile, he lived in a suburb of Seattle, so just a few hours away.

Anthony opened his email and quickly wrote out a message.

SirM,

This book is fucking amazing. Would you be interested in discussing it over coffee?

Ulf

Before he could think twice, he hit Send.

Even though he reloaded the page a few times, SirMarrok didn’t respond immediately.

His stomach grumbled again, and he opened the fridge to check for edibles, but nothing appealed to him. There was one lone pomegranate in the crisper, but that didn’t count for a full meal, especially after Ryan had warned him about not eating enough protein right after training. Nobody delivered pizza out here, and he might have been able to throw something together based on the two vine tomatoes, the half jar of pesto, and the red onion he’d spotted, but what he really wanted to do was sit down and read the rest of the story, even though he should probably do his fucking job and at least go up to the office to bang his head against the half novel that was mocking him from the twenty-four inch screen.

Just then, the intercom buzzed—one long, two short. Thank God, it was Chastity. He padded to the door and opened it. She held a pile of letters and a cookie tin. “Hey, do you have time?”

Code for, “You’re not writing, are you?”

“Come on in.” He stood aside and waved her into the house. “You know you don’t have to buzz me, right?”

“I know, but God forbid I let myself in while you’re in the zone.”

“Much appreciated. Fortunately, I’m not.” He started toward the kitchen. “I was reading. Checking something in the chronology.”

“So how’s the book going?” she asked.

“It’s not really going, but I’m working on it.” He resisted checking whether SirMarrok had responded. He knew stalkers and obsessives, and he wouldn’t turn into either of those. “How’re you?”

“Jesse’s off to his grandparents, so …” She shrugged. “Kind of bored, I guess.” Between being Anthony’s bodyguard, part-time PA, and the mom of a very active eight-year-old, Chas had the patience of a Swiss glacier. Bored or not, she deserved a break.

“Have you eaten yet?”

“I have. And I brought you muffins, in case you’re interested.” She put the tin down. “Jesse didn’t manage to eat all of them, though he gave it a good try.”

“Thank you, St. Jesse, patron saint of starving artists.” He opened the tin and found one of the banana-and-chocolate ones that he loved. Beat cooking for one person while feeling guilty about not writing. “Coffee?”

“I’m too wired. I’ll make tea?”

“Sure.” He offered her the kitchen with a sweeping gesture, “Mi casa es su casa.”

She gave him an ironic glance, considering she lived on the property as part of her package (and because her last house had been torched by her crazy ex). While she went through the cupboards to assemble a teapot and hot water, Anthony demolished the muffin in a few bites, and then set up the coffee machine again.

“So, planning a long night?”

“There’s a full moon. I absolutely plan on a long night.” He had the most amazing view from the office, and he could happily spend a few hours gazing at the moon if the novel didn’t budge. The whole werewolf thing had started because some of his Army buddies had teased him about being a secret werewolf: nocturnal, “dark brooding charm,” a penchant for taking solo night hikes during full moons—all of that. And look where it had taken him.

“You getting anywhere with that book?”

Anthony groaned.

Chas laughed. “Still?”

“Still.” His eyes darted toward his phone. “Of course, then one of my fans manages to figure out exactly where the story needs to go.”

“You’re letting fans beta read for you now?”

“No, no. I told you about SirMarrok, right?”

“Sir—” Her eyes lost focus. “Oh, right. From that fan site.”

“Yeah. He finished his book. And it’s …” Anthony sighed and threw up his hands. “It’s amazing.”

“So what are you going to do? Ask him if you can use it?”

Anthony straightened. “I’m not going to take his work.”

“No, but if it’s really that good for the series …”

“I don’t know. Leanne will probably blow a gasket if she even finds out I’ve been reading fanfic, never mind wanting to incorporate some of it into the series.”

“If the alternative is waiting another year for the eighth book, she might be flexible.”

Anthony laughed dryly. “Good point. Well, I emailed him to see if he wants to meet and talk about it.” His stomach clenched. Had that been too forward? Didn’t SirMarrok like meeting people in real life? Might think—

“Oh, Anthony.” Chas snickered. “You’re so adorable when you’re flustered.”

“What?”

She rolled her eyes. “The second you mentioned meeting him, you got all tense and pink.” She gestured at her cheeks, and Anthony could suddenly feel the heat in his own.

“I’m just a little nervous. He has no idea who I am.”

Her eyebrow arched. “Is that the only reason you’re nervous? Because he’ll find out his biggest fan is Anthony Michael Rawson?”

“I …”

Chas laughed again and patted his arm. “So adorable.”

“Shut up.”

“Is that any way to talk to the woman who keeps the stalkers away at cons?”

He groaned theatrically. “Fine. Sorry. And yes, it is the only reason I’m nervous about meeting him.”

“Bullshit it is.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

She ticked the points off on her fingers. “You blush whenever you mention him. You’re clearly more nervous about meeting him than you were about being on a panel with a bunch of your literary idols at Comic-Con. You actually think I’m going to believe for a second you’re nervous about meeting another writer who’s—”

“Okay, okay, I get it. But you’re still wrong. I’m just, okay, maybe a little intimidated by this kid.”

Chas blinked. “Intimidated? Why?”

He waved a hand at his phone. “Because he can write fucking circles around me with my own goddamned characters! What the hell am I supposed to say to him, anyway? ‘You clearly know my own world better than I do, so how much do you charge to save my ass?’” He shook his head. “Fuck, I shouldn’t have emailed him. It isn’t like I can use his book, and for all I know, he completely botches the ending anyway.”

“And how likely do you think that is?”

Anthony met her gaze, then sighed. “About as likely as me finishing book eight by tomorrow morning.”

“Sounds like he might save your ass, then.” She smirked and started to speak, but he gestured sharply at her.

“Don’t even say it.”

“Say what?”

He glared, and she smothered a laugh.

“All right, I won’t say it. But has he responded to your email yet?”

“I don’t know.” He glanced at the phone again, eyeing it like it had morphed into a spider that was about to bite his hand. “I haven’t checked.”

“Well.” She nodded toward the spider-phone. “Check it.”

He hesitated, but figured there was no point in arguing with her—there never was—and picked up the phone. He refreshed his inbox, revealing several new emails. Most were notifications about posts on threads he’d been following on the fan site, but there it was:

SirMarrok.

Holding his breath, he tapped the message.

Are you serious? Coffee? That’d be great. When/where? — SM

Anthony was almost certain that if Chas hadn’t been standing there, he’d have made a very undignified sound. Only her presence and playful scrutiny saved him.

“He wants to meet.” And Anthony couldn’t help grinning like an idiot. Probably blushing again, if the heat in his cheeks was any indication.

“Aww.” Chas grinned. “So it’s a date?”

“It is not a date.”

“Why not?”

“Besides the fact that he’s probably half my age?”

She snorted. “Or maybe twice your age?”

Anthony rolled his eyes. “Point being, I want to meet him because I want to talk writing. Maybe I can hook him up with Leanne, get his career going.” Unless, of course, he was already a seasoned writer who’d been impersonating a newbie to get his kicks. But no. No. SirMarrok had seemed really fucking genuine about everything. Anthony didn’t know that much about him in real life—they’d mostly talked writing and wolves and fan stuff. He’d kept his own life under wraps so he could be himself. Which was ironic. This whole fame thing locked him into behaviors and reputation and expectations.

“Anthony.” She folded her arms and arched her eyebrow. “It is okay to get involved with someone. You know, if you click.”

“And it’s okay not to get involved with people.” He sipped his coffee. “I’ve done just fine this long.”

Chas studied him. “You get lonely sometimes.”

He shrugged. “Happily married people feel crowded sometimes. Doesn’t mean they want the other person to leave. In my case, yeah, I get lonely once in a while.” Another shrug. “Doesn’t mean I want someone else in my space.” They’d had this discussion before, and the thought of going through the whole thing again exhausted him, so before she could answer, he held up his phone. “You mind if I send him a quick reply?”

She waved a hand. “Sure.”

He typed out, You’re in the Seattle area? What about Saturday, around lunch? You choose the location. He knew SirMarrok was working in IT—he sometimes referred to a “job” and a “boss.” And if they hit it off, he wanted the option of spending a few hours rather than being constrained by schedules and such. Damn that need for a day job for most writers. A talent like SirMarrok should be raking it in and choosing his own hours.

“So what’re you going to wear, Casanova?”

“Uh. I was planning to go kind of low-key.” Thank God he’d only given in to that author photo-related pressure after the publisher had agreed that it didn’t necessarily have to resemble him; some atmospheric black-and-white shoots and Photoshop had made sure he didn’t really look like the guy on the jacket. However, if SirMarrok was the überfan he appeared to be, he’d have seen Anthony at conventions, or on Tumblr and YouTube. “Won’t be fooling him I guess. Damn.”

“Ah, the burden of fame.” Chas put a hand on her heart.

“Well, I could use a little break. Head out to Seattle on Friday, watch a movie or something, and come back on Sunday? You want to come along?”

“Movie sounds great.” She opened his fridge and made a face. “I have a nice ratatouille bake at the house.”

“No competition from the lone pomegranate.”

“I thought so. And while I go get that …” She pointed at the pile of letters. “A few nice ones this time.”

“That’s because you burn the nasty ones.” He finished off his coffee. “How bad were the bad ones?”

“Mostly threats over the next book not coming out.”

“Christ, every time I read one of those I want to kill a character.”

“Yeah, yeah, Mr. George R. R. Martin, we know.” She laughed. “I’ll go get that ratatouille.”

She left the kitchen, and Anthony’s gaze went back to his phone. So that was that. In a few days, he’d meet the guy who apparently knew his own stories better than he did. And much like the unfinished book upstairs, he had no idea how this weekend was going to play out.

Meet the Author

Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he works as a financial editor, writing coach, and complementary therapist.

At 43 years of age, Voinov has written more than two dozen novels and published five novels with German publishers. After many years working in the horror, science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy genres, Voinov is now primarily writing queer fiction.

Described as a “workaholic speed-writing freak” by fellow writers, a “creative writing class drill sergeant” by his writing ‘padawans’, Voinov is a self-confessed geek and has enlarged his days by 12 secret hours in return for the sacrifice of ten albino virgin pygmy hippos.

Voinov’s style has been called “dynamic to the point of breathlessness” and “disturbingly poetic” by publishers and literary agents. A recurring theme in his fiction is “the triumph of the human spirit” or an individual rising to challenge the status quo in a world gone bad.

Intellectually, he is drawn to the dark side of human nature and history. As a trained historian, he is fascinated by wars, religion and the conflict between the individual and society.

Interests at the moment include WWII, medieval siege warfare, William Marshall, the Golden Age of Piracy, and whale-hunting. These interests are subject to change from one day to the other, and Voinov single-handedly sustains two bookshops in London.

Public Contact Email: vashtan@gmail.com
Website: http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aleksandr.voinov.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vashtan
Goodreads Author Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3074905.Aleksandr_Voinov
Tumblr: http://aleksandrvoinov.tumblr.com/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/aleksandrvoinov
Newsletter: https://us3.list-manage.com/subscribe


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New Release Blitz: New Boy at the Academy by Sam Hawk

New Boy at the Academy | Sam Hawk

Tales from the Academy #1

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Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 25, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 79,800

Purchase:

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Synopsis

Timmy had no clue that the first day of 10th grade at the Academy would rock his world. He thought it would be just like last year, with its endless bullying and recesses spent reshelving books in the library with his best and only friend Carleen. The sissy boy and the fat girl had bonded over their shared outcast status.

But Carleen shows up filled with sassy confidence and declares they’re going to rule the school. By Christmas, the freaks and nerds would be the cool kids, and the mean girls and jocks would be the outcasts. Something had happened to her over the summer, but what?

And then, the two of them lay eyes on the new boy at the Academy. Doug has auburn feathered hair, veiny biceps, and green eyes the color of Sprite bottles. Plus, he’s come all the way from exotic Los Angeles, California. He rocks out to Patti Smith while Timmy loves ABBA. How does someone so cool end up in tiny, conservative Edgewood, South Carolina?

When Carleen immediately declares Doug a fox and her new prospective boyfriend, Timmy is shocked at his jealous reaction. He’s not supposed to like boys in that way, is he? Doug stirs up weird new emotions deep inside him as Timmy embarks on the adventure of his life. He and his hometown will never be the same.

Excerpt

New Boy at the Academy
Sam Hawk © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Edgewood, South Carolina

1980

God didn’t answer my prayers and bring the Rapture on Labor Day, so I had to start tenth grade after all. I stepped in front of the mirror to assess my new back-to-school outfit. I hated it. I’d begged Momma to buy me the alligator shirt from Belk’s, which really cost her a lot, but did it have to hug my body so much? I tried stretching it out, but it would only stretch so far. I thought I’d look like Tom Selleck with his big veiny arms. Instead, I looked like the Pillsbury Doughboy. I was trying to flex my chest when Momma walked in.

“Honey, get a move on. We have to be out the door in fifteen minutes, and you haven’t even touched your Pop-Tarts.”

“Momma, I think I need to change clothes.”

“What are you talking about?” she asked as she pulled and tugged on my shirt. “This is what you wanted. You look very handsome.”

“But it fits so close.”

“Timmy, I have told you time and again you’re not fat. It’s all in your head. You are absolutely average on the height and weight scale and exactly where you need to be at fifteen.” She patted my tummy, causing me to suck in. “You’ll lose that little bit of pudge in no time in gym class.”

My heart sank at the thought of gym class, and I almost lost my appetite for Pop-Tarts. Almost. Momma smoothed down my cowlick at the kitchen table as I bit into the brown sugar cinnamon pastry.

“Thank goodness you inherited the Ashburn hair,” she said. “Such a beautiful chestnut brown and such a noble hairline. It’s a sign of your aristocratic heritage, you know, on my side of the family. All the Ashburn men had beautiful hairlines. Thank goodness you take after me and don’t have your daddy’s stringy mess.”

I guessed my hairline was okay, but my new haircut was way too short. Daddy had taken me to get it cut only after Momma called him ten times to remind him. He and Momma got divorced when I was two, and it was always weird when he came by, which wasn’t often. Naturally, he took me to the awful old barbershop next to the pool hall instead of the new unisex salon in the Augusta Mall I was secretly hoping for. He told the barber to “buzz it” and then went next door for a beer. I managed to talk the barber into keeping a little length, but not much.

“Now go brush your teeth quick as a bunny rabbit,” said Momma. “Carleen’s mother called this morning and said her car’s not running and could I run by and pick her up for school. So, we have no time.”

Carleen’s house was across the tracks, and I knew Momma didn’t like going over there, but Carleen had been my best friend since kindergarten. Actually, you could say she was my only friend. She was the only one I talked to for hours on the phone at night; the only one I hung out with after school; the only one to ever invite me to a sleepover, which Momma had never allowed me to do since boy-girl sleepovers just weren’t done. I hadn’t seen her all summer because she’d been working at her grandparents’ peach farm. I was glad we’d be going to school together on the first day. I needed my friend with me.

We pulled in front of the house, and Carleen came right out.

“Good Lord, Carleen’s put on even more weight this summer,” said Momma.

Momma was right. Carleen had always been the biggest girl in class, and she wasn’t getting any smaller. I recognized her smock top from last year. A smock top was supposed to fit loose, but hers pulled in all the wrong places.

“Hey, Carleen,” said Momma as Carleen got in the car. “You sure do look pretty for your first day of school.”

“Thank you, Mrs. Thompson,” said Carleen. I waited for an eye roll, but she just smiled at Momma like she really believed it. I looked at her more closely, and there was something different about her. Was it confidence? If so, it was new. Was that lip gloss she was wearing?

“Hey, Timmy, did you hear we’re getting a new boy in our class this year?”

“No,” I said, dreading the addition of another redneck bubba to the roster.

“They say he’s from California and he’s real cute.”

“Really? California?” said Momma. “What’s he doing here?”

“I think his momma’s people are here. He’s related to all those Herlongs.”

“Does that explain the lip gloss?”

“Timmy, don’t be rude,” said Momma.

“I just wanted to look pretty for the first day of school,” replied Carleen.

“And you do,” said Momma.

When Momma pulled up in front of Patriot Christian, Carleen looked me square in the eye and gave me a big smile and a thumbs-up.

“Come on, Timmy. We’re gonna rule the school in tenth grade. Let’s do it.”

Meet the Author

Sam Hawk’s fiction is inspired by his experiences at a private Christian Academy in rural South Carolina in the ’70s. He survived his Southern adolescence with his sanity relatively intact and went on to earn degrees from the College of Charleston and the University of South Carolina Law School.

He also served in the US Army as a JAG officer for twelve years. He resigned his commission when it became clear he was expected to persecute homosexuals as part of his job.

Sam then moved to Dallas, Texas where he met the man of his dreams and found his LGBT family. Sam and his husband have been married for over ten years and live with their Corgi and Chartreux cat in the requisite charming old house in a historic district where gay couples are legally compelled to live.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram


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New Release Blitz: We are the Catalyst by Tash McAdam

We are the Catalyst | Tash McAdam

The Psionics #2

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 106,900

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, cliffhanger, espionage, spies, military, young adult

Purchase

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

Add to Goodreads

Blurb

Kidnapped and imprisoned, telepathic children are forced to gather military intelligence. Repeatedly stripped of their memories, they live in ignorance of the world above. You can’t tell anyone a secret if you don’t remember it. It’s not child abuse if no one knows you exist.

Epsilon 17 appears to be just another mindless tool, empty of thought. But it’s a lie. The carefully constructed shell she hides behind protects her from their mind wipes. One day she will destroy the Institute. All she needs is a chance.

That chance could be Toby, if he doesn’t die first. He should never have left the safety of the suburbs, but cornered in an alley by a gang, he’s out of options. Of course, if he realized he had superpowers, he probably wouldn’t have been so worried. Unfortunately, they come at the cost of a finger, and his old life. Injured and panicked, he would have stayed on the dirty ground until the Institute came for him, if it wasn’t for Serena. Name-taking, ass-kicking Serena. She can punch through walls and practically fly, surely she can keep him safe…

But the Institute is sending Epsilon 17 to hunt him down, and she’s never lost a trail.

Can ARC, the mysterious group Serena works for, protect him? He has to get his powers in order, fast. It’s time for Toby to stand up for himself. An underground war is raging, and Toby’s just been drafted.

Join NineStar Press Authors Alex Harrow, L. A. Ashton, and Tash McAdam on FACEBOOK for a virtual launch party of their releases, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, ECHOES, and WE ARE THE CATALYST!

Find the party HERE. The event is February 25th from 8-10 PM CST, but feel free to drop by and stay as long as you wish!

For more info on each author and their books, visit:

EMPIRE OF LIGHT by Alex Harrow
ECHOES by L.A. Ashton
WE ARE THE CATALYST by Tash McAdam

Stop by for exclusive snippets, character takeovers, prizes, and swag!

Excerpt

We are the Catalyst
Tash McAdam © 2019
All Rights Reserved

E17

I’m floating, weightless, sensationless. The gel covers my body, every inch of my skin submerged and cushioned. The drowning sounds almost pleasant when I describe it this way, but my eyes are covered, liquid is pressing against my lips. It’s in my ears, filling my nose, dulling my senses. I’m drowning in breathable fluid, oxygenated goop. The sensation of lungs pleading for air lasts the short minutes I can hold my breath…then I have to inhale and my body is flooded.

I scream. The noise vibrates soundlessly in my throat, and then my body goes limp as my insides adjust, and my brain revels in the fresh oxygen. This isn’t new to me, I’ve been here before. I know how the gel works, giving me the oxygen my body requires at the cost of instinctive terror and panic that overrides all logic. It turns out there’s no getting used to suffocation. Even once the lungs realize they can drag oxygen from the fluid, it’s an emotional drowning.

You lose every sense of who you are like this, blurring at the edges until disappearing into nothingness, every sense of self fading as you drift out of your body, into a void. The sensor pads connected to my poor, bald head were itchy when they were applied, now they may as well not be there—except I know they’ll still be doing their jobs. The wireless connections to the computer equipment in the laboratory above me will continue to let the doctors know when I have disappeared, when I can’t think anymore.

It comes too fast. It always does. Without any variation in pressure or sound around me, my mind rebels and flails for anything to hold onto. It takes me hours, maybe. It could be minutes or weeks, I suppose, but I think it takes me hours to calm myself, to drag back the knowledge I have skin, I have a border, and I’m impenetrable and separate from what is around me.

This is the Tank.

In the Tank, there’s no gauge of time, nothing to touch or feel, no sensory hooks to hold onto. Insulated against life, I can’t do anything except hang there, helpless. There’s no one here for me to reach for, this time. Sometimes there will be others—different people, different ages. I reach out to them, feel for them with the telepathic powers that are both the reason I suffer and the only thing saving me from true madness. Even momentary connections with others remind me I’m not alone. I reach out, but they never feel me. They are truly alone, isolated from everything and everyone.

I’m the only one who survives the Tank. And I don’t know why. Of course, the scientists would never tell me anything. I’d be punished if I asked. I’m supposed to come out blank and empty and unknowing, like the others.

Thanks to the Tank, and the loneliness of my life, I spend a lot of time speculating why I’m different. I think it might be the dreams keeping me safe. I dream of a boy, a boy who runs in the sunshine and plays a sport with bats and balls. A boy who lives a blessedly unremarkable life. I think I made him up, to save me from the nothing. Could I have invented a place to go and hide in vibrant experiences and Technicolor feeling? Not like the Tank, where there’s nothing, nothing at all.

I’ve been in fourteen times as far as I remember. Other people have been dipped opposite me, or next to me, ten of those times. I feel their thoughts, their confusion and panic. I can’t see them. I can’t see anything at all except for vague shadows which pass my prison. Once a hand was pressed to my Tank, a black blur against the grey dark. The thoughts buzzing in the person were angry and desperate. They wanted to help me, but they couldn’t. I don’t know who it was.

Today, I’m alone. There’s no one else being wiped. Even if there were others, I can’t Project—send thoughts or feelings out of myself—so there’s no way for me to communicate. It seems to me if we connected, maybe they’d stay.

Instead, I talk to myself all the time, even under the draining numbness of the gel I drown in. It does something to me, to them, to us. As soon as I’m submerged, I can barely sense at all, the techs and other people mere scratching tickles at the surface of my consciousness, not like the normal swirling chaos of the thoughts always spinning around me, every fleeting miniscule flicker of awareness loud and seething for my attention. For the vast majority of my life, I have to block everything, block it all out so I don’t lose myself in the minds of others.

Not in the Tank, though. My powers are muted and tamped down by whatever is happening to me. And the others? Eventually their minds recoil at the endless nothing and they withdraw into the safety of white noise, the illusion of peace.

Then the wipe begins—a skull full of bees buzzing, crawling through memories and erasing the pathways making someone’s self. People fade away as I listen to their mental screams and pleas for mercy. They’re loud, then, as they beg for their memories, but the cries always dissolve into whispers and then nothing, nothing at all.

They cease to exist.

I don’t know why I alone remain “myself” in the Tank; perhaps I’m mad and there is no me. Maybe all I ever do is float here in the numbing absence of everything and tell myself stories. But I don’t believe so. I’m Epsilon 17, and I remember what that means. It is the name they gave me—not one I want, but it defines me, nonetheless. Epsilon is my class; I’m Epsilon Class, number seventeen. Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Epsilon…there are mostly Beta class here—the lowest, the least gifted. Alpha talents are so low the Institute has no interest in taking them on as students. That is what the Shepherds call them…call us, when they speak to us. Alpha talents get to live their lives away from this.

We are “students,” as though they are our teachers, here to help and educate us. In their heads, they call us sheep. They have no idea I can hear them—hear everything they think. They are trained to hide themselves, as I have taught myself to do, and it never crosses their minds they aren’t as safe as they believe. Because they are wrong about me. They have no idea I can tuck myself into a secret space inside my head and resist the nothingness of the Tank. Maintain my sense of self. Protect my memories. They know I’m special, but they have no idea how strong I really am…and how much stronger I’ll be. Every time they leave me in the Tank, I come back to my memories faster, and I hate a little more.

Soon all there will be left of me is hate.

This is how I stay myself in the Tank. Instead of waiting for it to end and feeling my mind snap when I realize it never, ever will—I have been here forever and will stay here forever—I take all the scraps of me, all the pieces making up who I am, and tuck them away, out of sight, in a private bunker in my mind.

While I’m suspended, I disappear into my dreams, if I’m alone. When there are others, I always wait until they have gone, in case one day one of them stays with me. They never do.

Once I’ve hidden I don’t come out until I’m sure I’m safe. Until I feel a soft, scratchy sensation and smell the faint, fresh bleach of my sheets. The triggers my body remembers. When I’m tucked up in my bed, I come back to reality, I realize I am not the boy-who-runs. And I remember everything they tried to take from me.

The moments before it comes back are the only times I feel safe.

It wasn’t always this way. When I was a child, I didn’t remember at all. They cleaned me the same way they clean everyone, and I became a fresh slate, a new start. You can’t tell anyone a secret if you don’t remember it. It’s not child abuse if no one knows you exist. We are the perfect soldiers in a war most of us repeatedly forget. We are forced to participate and then erased as though we were never there, gifted in a way people don’t expect and can’t plan for.

Mindreaders. Telepaths. Psychics. There are many names, but here at the Institute, they like the scientific terms. We are the Psionics, and they use us without shame.

If you are powerful, The Institute is there, listening to your thoughts, guiding your hands when you are writing, perhaps sending you dreams. Even controlling your every move like a puppet. Assignments can last for years if the Government wants a consistent presence monitoring one individual. You get to know them when they’re your target. I’ve been in heads which haunt my dreams. It makes me wish I did forget, but never enough to let go.

Two years ago, I was assigned to a political leader in Muntgummery, near the East, for eight months. He was a bad man. He liked to hurt women, and I had to watch it so the Institute could blackmail him. The Government knew the city was going to drown in the ravenous coastal waters as they rose and wanted to control who was saved. At the end, I worked with a Projector, who used my knowledge of the target to get into his head and overtake him completely. The city was abandoned to the flooding shortly after. The top Test-scorers were evacuated, and then the tube tunnels were sealed, Citizens, slumdwellers, and refugees alike were left to drown. I remember them screaming as we flew over the rioting streets.

The list of secrets I know is long, and I have nowhere and no way to write it down, so I keep them in my mind. It’s safe there because, though the business we are in is to take secrets, nobody knows I have any, and so nobody even looks. I hide everything under a blank, unmarked surface, and their probes slide over me like I’m invisible, or empty like the others—an untouched piece of paper waiting to be filled with their knowledge and used to affect the course of the world.

I have been aware for five years, give or take. It’s possible I have remembered myself before but didn’t manage to hide it and was wiped so I really did forget again.

But I learned.

The first time I came back to myself, they tried to wipe me again and again. Three times they put me back in the Tank, until I thought I was lost, gone and mad. But then it happened. I found the way—the way to leave what they were doing behind with my body—and keep my mind safe inside another life. A better life.

I don’t know how many days passed after that dip, but when I came to, I was restrained on a cold, hard table. I felt a grasp at my thoughts, a touch against my mind. I knew what it meant—they would put me back in, drown me again to kill these memories. We’re not supposed to remember the Tank. We’re not supposed to remember who we are. I scampered away inside my head and drew myself into the smallest ball possible, shielding my thoughts. I was small and tight and tucked away in a corner, and I tried so hard to hide and make the man go away. I felt him grope around—a blind man fumbling through my head. He must have been satisfied, accepted the lack he found inside me. He thought I was empty, and they could start again.

This is my story, and I’m putting it away to keep it safe. That way when I disappear again, I can find all the thoughts I’ve had, see the feelings I stored here. I don’t know how it works, but it is enough for me that it does.

Because this is my mind, my secret self, the weapon with which I’ll one day destroy everyone who has a hand in this. I’m Epsilon 17, and I’m going to bring this regime down in flames.

The Tank fades away and I’m gone. The boy’s packing a bag, this time. I think he’s frightened. I wonder what he has to be scared of, this boy with parents who ruffle his hair and friends who shout with laughter.

Meet the Author

Tash is a 30-year-old teacher candidate at UBC in Canada, although they were born and raised in the hilly sheepland of Wales (and have lived in South Korea and Chile before settling down in Vancouver). Tash identifies as trans and queer and uses the neutral pronoun ‘they’.

They’re also an English teacher and fully equipped to defend that grammar! They have a degree in computer science so their nerd chat makes sense and a couple of black belts in karate which are very helpful when it comes to writing fight scenes.

Their novel writing endeavours began at the age of eight and included passing floppy discs back and forth with a friend at swimming lessons. Since then, Tash has spent time falling in streams, out of trees, learning to juggle, dreaming about zombies, dancing, painting, learning and then teaching Karate, running away with the circus, and of course, writing.

They write fast-paced, plot-centric action adventure with diverse casts. They write the books that they wanted to read as a queer kid and young adult (and still do!)

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Tumblr | Pinterest


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New Release Blitz: Echoes by L. A. Ashton

Echoes | L. A. Ashton

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 78,500

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, Vampires, werewolves, paranormal, romance, friends to lovers, immortal, reunion, Viking

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Blurb

After one thousand years of listless eternity, Oskar is used to his particular brand of loneliness. But a long walk through Middle America and a few chance encounters will lead him straight to a man he’d known to be long since dead―his childhood best friend, Aranck.

Being undead hasn’t stopped Aran from living life to the fullest. He has all the money and power his charm and business savvy could earn him, and plenty of friends. Lately, though, something seems to be missing. After a millennium, perhaps the world’s shine has worn off—and that’s when Oskar stumbles back into his life, reminding him of who he used to be.

Together the two vampires remember what it felt like to live, all the while navigating a conflict with the local pack of werewolves. A lot has changed in a thousand years, and only time will tell if those changes will bring Oskar and Aranck closer together, or ensure they remain apart.

Excerpt

Echoes
L.A. Ashton © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Prologue

Ana’s eyes opened, unseeing. Her limbs were heavy, anchored to the floor by her own weakness and fatigue. And yet, she was alive.

That confused her.

The rough punctures of a bite burned at her neck. Blood dripped slowly from the wound, traveling the few short inches from her throat to the hardwood. Everything else felt fine; no broken limbs, no gashes or extraneous injuries. Her head rang, a high trill in the dark―perhaps a minor concussion sustained while collapsing.

The room smelled like blood, wolves, and a bit of spilled beer. But shapes were still hazy black masses in dim red lighting, and even with her superior sight, she couldn’t discern foreground and background, solid artifacts and darkness.

She closed her eyes. What would be more useful to grasp first, memory or sight? She could recall vague things: the laughter of her brother beside her as he beat them at another hand of poker, the limited light of the room, and the shuffle of cards against skin. Then there was…

She tipped her head, pressing her cheek against the coolness of the floor.

A vampire. A vampire had charged into the bar―their bar―and attacked.

After all the work she and Jackson had done, after all the effort they’d put into pack and vampire relations…

She opened her eyes again. There was movement, slow and deliberate as if the person wasn’t entirely coherent. She could barely see her packmates around her. Four of them were strewn about the floor, unmoving. They were alive, though, and that confused her as well. Their heartbeats and breaths filtered into her range of hearing as her mind cleared, and she could see the steady rise and fall of her brother’s chest.

Why would a vampire attack them? No―why would a vampire attack them and leave them alive?

She attempted to track the motion. There was a figure moving above them, heavy boots clomping against the floor. She looked toward their face and they paused, gazing down at her with a face swathed in shadow.

Her focus was bleary. She wouldn’t have been able to make out their features even if they’d looked at her full-on, dead in the eyes. They were all outlines… short or close-cropped hair… average height…

They had no heartbeat.

Her lips parted. She wanted to ask them why. Here lay five of her pack, drained to the point of immobility but not death. They would heal fast, as werewolves do, and they would track this assailant, as werewolves do. And then, without trial, they would kill them.

What kind of fool are you?

But she didn’t ask; her mouth was too dry and her body too slow, and by the time her mind had formed a proper question, the vampire was walking toward the entrance. The door opened up―a single rectangle of blue-black cut into the red-black of the bar―and bright stars shone quietly, like everything in the world was at peace.

The vampire sent one last look at her pack. Then they closed the door―softly, as if to not disturb. Ana stared at the doorway in sedated wonder.

Eventually she closed her eyes. The rest of their pack would find them, or their hearts would slowly beat them back to health, and the hunt for a vampire would begin.

Join NineStar Press Authors Alex Harrow, L. A. Ashton, and Tash McAdam on FACEBOOK for a virtual launch party of their releases, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, ECHOES, and WE ARE THE CATALYST!

Find the party HERE. The event is February 25th from 8-10 PM CST, but feel free to drop by and stay as long as you wish!

For more info on each author and their books, visit:

EMPIRE OF LIGHT by Alex Harrow
ECHOES by L.A. Ashton
WE ARE THE CATALYST by Tash McAdam

Stop by for exclusive snippets, character takeovers, prizes, and swag!

Meet the Author

L.A. Ashton is an LGBT+ author writing LGBT+ fiction. They enjoy rock music, traveling, and anything else that adds color to their daydreams.

They believe in the healing properties of art and of having a cat firmly stationed on one’s lap.

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New Release Blitz: The Cost of Living by Emilie Lucadamo

The Cost of Living | Emilie Lucadamo

In the Darkness #2

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Female

Length: 50,800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, paranormal, college, demons, magic, fantasy, ghosts, horror

Purchase

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Blurb

Once people die, they’re not meant to wake up.

For college student Beck Murray, this doesn’t quite sink in until he’s sitting in a stranger’s apartment, reading his own obituary. He has no memory of how he died or how he happened to wake up—all Beck knows is that he’s been dead for six months, and now, incredibly, is not.

He assumes his biggest challenge will be explaining himself to his family and friends. This proves not to be the case as, one by one, Beck and his friends become the target of something evil.

A darkness hangs over Beck, following every footstep he takes in his new life. He cannot fight it because he does not understand it. Soon, it becomes clear that Beck isn’t the only person who’s returned to life, and far from the only person in danger.

With the help of a young witch and a mysterious bookshop owner, Beck must learn to overcome the evil plaguing him before it drags him back down to the grave… and takes everyone he cares about with him.

Excerpt

The Cost of Living
Emilie Lucadamo © 2019
All Rights Reserved

After his fourth failed attempt to pull himself to his feet, Beck gives up and collapses against the pavement once more.

It’s no use. He could have the willpower of Hercules, yet he wouldn’t be able to haul himself off of the ground. His body is too strung out; his limbs are exhausted. He feels drained from head to toe. Whatever happened to lead him here, it sure did a number on him.

Here—where is here? Beck has no clue. Naked, in the middle of an unfamiliar street, with a dizzying headache and no memory of where he is or how he came to be there. That’s where he is right now.

It’s far from the best situation to be in. Not to mention the fact that the world’s biggest storm cloud seems to be focusing all its wrath on him alone. Rain lashes his skin, chilling him, and the thunder booming overhead rattles in his bones. He tries to move once more, and a fiery pulse of pain shoots through his entire body.

Beck has had better nights.

He’s wound up in some pretty undignified places over years spent growing up with his best friends, but this has to take the cake. This is a lot worse than the time his best friend James dared him to sleep on the roof in his underwear. This is even worse than the time he and his brother, Dylan got locked out of the house during a snowstorm and had to spend the night huddling for warmth on the porch. At least in those situations, he knew where he was. He had some choice in the matter, (even if it was between Dylan’s bony elbow in his side or freezing to death). This—this is a whole new level of weird.

He tries to lift his head, and a pulse of pain sends it right back down again. Thunder crashes overhead, followed by a flash of lightning. Beck swallows past his parched throat, realizing for the first time what a dangerous situation he could be in.

“Oh man,” he rasps, realizing too late that these are the first words he’s said since waking up. This absurdity is not helped by the fact that he’s scrambling around on his back like a lethargic bug. It seems like a miracle he’s able to speak at all. “Mmm…c’mon, c’mon…”

It’s no use. He can’t pull himself to his feet. Defeated, Beck collapses back onto the pavement again and closes his eyes. He’s so tired… Maybe a few moments’ sleep will give him the energy he needs.

He’s just about to drift away, when a sudden interruption startles him from his haze.

“You look like you could use some help.”

The voice is deep, clear as a bell over the roaring storm around them. Beck jumps, eyes springing open. It would take more self-control than he possesses not to gape up at the shadowy figure towering above him, silhouetted against the distant glow of a streetlight.

He blinks up at the stranger in a daze, trying to make out any features past the rain and his blurry vision. The man looming above him is slender, not too tall and not too muscular. The fact that he seems unfazed at finding a naked guy in the middle of the street probably says the most about him. Being the naked guy in question, Beck’s not about to judge.

Beck weighs his options. Common sense tells him not to trust shadowy figures in dark alleyways. Common sense also tells him not to pass out in the middle of the street naked, and not to wake up in the middle of a street with gravel digging into his back. Common sense is failing him today.

He isn’t about to get up without assistance, anyway, so yeah, he probably could use some help. “Wow, you figured that out?” he croaks, and tries for a laugh. It comes out as a wheeze. Beck is left choking when he attempts to take in a breath. He collapses again onto the street, landing hard on his side. His chest convulses with each ragged cough. By the time he is able to breathe again, he’s quaking like a leaf in a thunderstorm. Hell, that’s just about what he is.

“Easy…” The figure is kneeling by his side now and has a hand on his back. He’s warm; subconsciously, Beck leans into the touch. The smooth hand runs along the curve of his spine, leaving a trail of tingling heat in its wake. The pressure in Beck’s lungs slowly ebbs away, like water receding after high tide.

“Feels like you’ve got a pretty bad fever,” the man says, his strange, precise accent twisting the words until they sound more like a melody. “This rain can’t be helping. Wanna get out of it?”

“Yeah…” Beck nods hazily. “That’d be real great.”

Hands grip his biceps, helping him to his feet. Beck’s legs feel like noodles. He stands up, wavers, and would have fallen back down were it not for the grounding presence keeping him upright. He tries to straighten up, and his stomach does a perilous somersault. Hot bile rushes up his throat, and he only has time to double to the side before he’s heaving up acid.

By the time he straightens up again, he’s trembling from the exertion. He feels dizzy enough that he’s afraid to close his eyes, doubting his capability to open them again. When he tries to turn to his good Samaritan, he finds himself confronted with a sharp-featured face, dark eyes studying him and brows creased in concern.

“Sorry,” Beck tries to say. It comes out garbled. Fortunately, the guy doesn’t seem to care.

“Come on,” he urges, hooking an arm around Beck’s waist. “Let’s get you someplace warm and dry.”

Needless to say, Beck’s in no state to argue. Besides, he isn’t sure he wants to. The guy’s being nicer than he has any obligation to be, and it’s probably the fever talking, but his touch is the most soothing thing Beck can remember in a long time.

They don’t walk far. The stranger leads a stumbling Beck down the street, and they pass only a few shops before coming upon one with its windows piled high with books. A sign above the door reads Lehexe’s Books in spindly hand-painted lettering. The shop is dark enough that Beck can’t make out much through the window, but Beck’s new friend—Lehexe, presumably—doesn’t hesitate to open the door. He hustles them both inside and shuts out the storm behind them. No sooner are they standing in the middle of the shop floor than Beck finds rain pooling at his feet, soaking into the wooden floor. He sways in an effort to keep from dripping, and nearly overbalances again.

Lehexe—busy fumbling with a set of keys near a door behind the counter—casts a look over his shoulder and huffs. “Try to keep upright for two seconds. You can do that.”

Beck definitely can. He’s not an infant. (If he maybe has to grab hold of the counter to keep his balance, well, he thinks the other man is too preoccupied to notice.)

The right key finally slips into the lock, and Lehexe opens a door to a darkened hallway. He turns to look at Beck, raising an eyebrow as he gestures to him. Beck lets go of the counter, takes a step forward, and gets blindsided by a head rush that sends him falling on his face.

Being naked on the floor of some poor guy’s very nice bookshop is better than being naked on pavement in the middle of a storm…but only just. There’s a lot more indignity to his situation now that Beck is actually trying to keep himself upright. He can’t. It’s not just his legs refusing to cooperate with him. His entire body feels sluggish, achy and weighed down. His veins feel like they’ve been pumped full of lead. His skull is throbbing, stuffed with cotton and running with all the efficiency of a dying engine.

“I’m really sorry about this,” he manages to slur into the nice stranger’s woodwork. “’S not my day.”

“I figured,” Lehexe says as he helps peel Beck off the ground—and he is really being much nicer than Beck deserves. “I hope stuff like this don’t happen to you often.”

“It really doesn’t.” This is the weirdest thing Beck can remember happening to him in, well, ever. He’s not handling it well.

By some miracle, Lehexe manages to get him back on his feet again and leads him out of the shop. The hallway behind the door is small, narrow, with several doors lining the walls. One clearly reads Bathroom; the other, Beck suspects is a closet; as for the third, he doesn’t have a clue what could be behind it. (His half-delirious mind flashes back to the vintage game shows his grandma used to love, where shoulder-pad-flaunting contestants chose between Door One, Door Two, and Door Three for the chance to win “the prize of a lifetime!” Lehexe doesn’t make a good game show host, and Beck’s hairstyle isn’t nearly exciting enough for 80s television.)

There’s a final door at the end of the hallway, styled differently from the others. This one is great mahogany, with a firm frame, and another lock just beneath the knob. Lehexe turns to his set of keys yet again, and in seconds he has the door open to a set of stairs that tower over Beck’s head, making him feel dizzy.

His heart sinks. His stomach drops. He feels himself slump further to the floor, until Lehexe stubbornly hoists him back up again. Just looking up there makes his head spin, and the notion of dragging his noncooperative body up the stairs is nothing short of a pipe dream. There’s no way he can do it—just no chance.

“Yeahhh,” he groans. “Dude…don’t think that’s gonna happen…”

“You gotta try for me,” Lehexe says. “Can you do that?”

Beck considers this. “If I pass out, will you catch me?”

“I’ll try my best.”

Well, that’s good enough for him.

Meet the Author

Emilie Lucadamo has too many stories, and not enough words to tell them. At eighteen years old, she has been writing for most of her life, and telling stories even longer.

Her dream is to one day become a critically acclaimed author. When not writing, she’s probably reading, or spending quality time with her dog.

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New Release Blitz: Empire of Light by Alex Harrow

Empire of Light | Alex Harrow

Voyance #1

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: February 25, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 102,000

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBT, gay, pansexual, demisexual, sci-fi, romance

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Blurb

Damian Nettoyer is the Empire’s go-to gun. He kills whoever they want him to kill.

In exchange, he and his rag-tag gang of crooks get to live, and Damian’s psychokinetic partner and lover, Aris, isn’t issued a one-way ticket to an Empire-sanctioned lobotomy.

Then Damian’s latest mark, a suave revolutionary named Raeyn, kicks his ass and demands his help. The first item on the new agenda: take out Damian’s old boss—or Raeyn will take out Damian’s crew.

To protect his friends and save his own skin, Damian teams up with Raeyn to make his revolution work. As Aris slips away from Damian and his control over his powers crumbles, the Watch catches on.

Damian gets way too close to Raeyn, torn between the need to shoot him one minute and kiss him the next.

With the Empire, Damian had two policies: shoot first and don’t ask questions. But to save the guy he loves, he’ll set the world on fire.

Excerpt

Empire of Light
Alex Harrow © 2019
All Rights Reserved

One: Shootings with a Chance of Explosions

Funny how I always had to be the guy who ended up with a gun to his head.

“I thought you said this was going to be easy,” Aris said somewhere to my right. His voice was thick, the words choked out past the gun shoved underneath his jaw. The two Reds who kept us pinned were all broad shoulders and raw muscle. Huge white guys. Buzz cuts. Built like fucking tanks. In the low light of a fading sunset spilling into the empty warehouse, their leather coats gleamed like congealing blood.

The run had started out simple enough: get in, dump the cargo—a couple dozen barrels of diesel and some tech we’d snatched off a derailed train—and get the hell out. The place’d been abandoned for years, just another slouching ruin on the outskirts of Low Side. The perfect hiding spot to stash away things you didn’t want the Watch to find, while waiting for the highest bidder to jump the gun. A surefire way to some quick and easy cash and still get to my real job for the night.

Standing there with my face mashed against the crumbling brick wall, a gun barrel against my skull, it looked more like a surefire way straight to a cell in the Finger of Light.

If we were lucky.

The guy above me seemed happy to put a bullet into my brainpan and chalk both Aris and me up as “casualties, resisting arrest.” The Watch, safeguards of the Empire, the Consolidated Nations at their best. To protect and serve. Right.

I couldn’t just tell our dear upstanding Reds to go ahead and stick their guns and handcuffs up their asses because we kind of were on the same team. I might be running the Empire’s off-the-books hits for extra cash, but officially, I didn’t exist. Blurting out I was on their boss’s payroll wouldn’t get me anything but a bullet to the head and my body dumped into the East River. Talk about employment perks.

That’s what I got for double-booking myself. Fucking Murphy’s Law.

And worse, I’d dragged Aris into it.

“Guess Jay was sugarcoating it a little when she said there might be slight complications.”

Someone ratted us out. No way the Watch had just shown up here, far from their usual patrol routes, without any reason. The whole thing’d been a sting from the get-go, and once I found out who’d set us up—

My fingers twitched for my Colt. My Colt that lay cold and useless five feet away from me. Slim chance I’d be able to shoot both Reds before one of them got to either Aris or me, but I might get lucky and get the drop on one of them. Especially if I could piss him off enough he got stupid. At the very least I could distract them from Aris.

“You know, I kind of need to be somewhere. And I’d appreciate a little more leg room here,” I said and squirmed under the Red’s grip.

Honestly, by now I probably should’ve memorized some of the regulars’ names or something. To me, they all looked the same. All fists ready to punch and guns ready to fire; neatly wrapped in black uniforms and their trademark red coats. Not like this was the first time either. By now, the Watch should issue us a punch card for frequent visits, maybe something with a rewards program.

“Shut up.”

The Red jerked me around and slammed my head into the murky stained-glass window to my right. Point taken. A distant rushing filled my ears. Spots started to slow-dance in front of my vision. I went down hard, twisting away from the Red’s reach and blindly fumbling for my Colt. I’d barely moved before his boot came down on my fingers with a dry crunch. I bit back a grunt that came out more like a breathless scream.

“Next time it’ll be your head,” the Red—I mentally tagged him as Captain Crunch—said, towering above me, gun aimed at my forehead. If he shot me from that angle, there wouldn’t be enough of my head left for Aris to scrape out of the wall cracks behind me.

Here was hoping he had more fun beating the shit out of me than making shooting me look like it’d been his only option.

The Red didn’t shoot me. Instead, his knee dug into the small of my back, his free hand going for a pair of handcuffs. “In the name of the Empire of Light, I hereby place you under arrest for—”

“Oh, I don’t think so,” Aris said.

He’d been standing perfectly still, his head slightly bowed, a model of the “hands above your head and don’t make a move” arrestee. The unthreatening kind. The kind who came quietly and wouldn’t even think to make any trouble for our dear upstanding officers of the Watch who only did their job.

When he straightened, brushing away a few errant blond curls that’d slipped out of his loose ponytail, a slow smile curved his lips. A dangerous smile, turning positively radiant until it teetered on the edge of manic as he glanced from the guy above me to the one holding him.

“In fact, I’d suggest you two start running. This is going to get messy.”

His eyes flicked to me. “Damian, stay down. And get out.”

And like that, all color drained out of his eyes until they were a stark, milky white.

Oh shit.

“Aris, no!”

Too late.

The Red pinning me tensed. He slapped his hand on his right ear to call out for reinforcements. His headset shorted out with a buzz and the burned-copper smell of fried electronics. The guy holding Aris cursed and flinched away, as if he’d been zapped by a high-voltage fence.

Aris didn’t move. His expression wiped completely blank, like someone’d snuffed out the lights behind his eyes, now fixed on some point far above me.

Then he blinked.

I felt the zing of the Voyance crack through the air like a power surge. The window wall at my back blew up in a shower of broken glass and toppling bricks.

Sacred, bleeding fuck!

I managed to duck and roll away before half the wall collapsed on top of me. I flattened myself onto the ground and then scrambled to my feet, cursing and coughing through a cloud of red-brick dust settling on the crumbling remains scattered all over the cement floor and the cracked pavement outside.

The explosion hit the Red above me completely by surprise. I only spared him a quick glance to make sure his hunched form wasn’t moving, and he wasn’t faking being unconscious. Or dead. A slow trickle of blood ran down his temple where one of the flying bricks must’ve hit him. People died from less. I didn’t push my luck.

I grabbed my Colt, its weight solid and familiar against my stiff, throbbing fingers.

“Aris?”

“Over here.” His voice was a thin thread, fraying at the edges. “Told you to get out.”

I ignored that last bit. Aris stood only a few feet away from me, his back pressed against the remnants of the wall. His face was gray, and he was trembling badly; he probably would’ve fallen over if not for the second Red who kept him pinned.

“Fucking Voyant,” the Red snarled, gun shoved against Aris’s temple, ready to put him down. As if Aris was nothing but a rabid animal.

Aris stood perfectly still, blood running out his nose—a steady drip down the collar of his shirt. Looking at him, knowing how easily I could lose him, hurt worse than all the bruises and broken bones any Red could ever give me.

“Damian—”

The Red’s finger tightened around the trigger. I shot him in the head. His body sagged sideways and hit the ground with a meaty thud, his gun slipping uselessly from his fingers.

“Just to be clear,” I said to the body at my feet. “He’s my fucking Voyant, so back the fuck off.”

Join NineStar Press Authors Alex Harrow, L. A. Ashton, and Tash McAdam on FACEBOOK for a virtual launch party of their releases, EMPIRE OF LIGHT, ECHOES, and WE ARE THE CATALYST!

Find the party HERE. The event is February 25th from 8-10 PM CST, but feel free to drop by and stay as long as you wish!

For more info on each author and their books, visit:

EMPIRE OF LIGHT by Alex Harrow
ECHOES by L.A. Ashton
WE ARE THE CATALYST by Tash McAdam

Stop by for exclusive snippets, character takeovers, prizes, and swag!

 

Meet the Author

Alex Harrow is a genderqueer, pansexual, and demisexual author of queer science fiction and fantasy. Alex’ pronouns are they/them.

When not writing diversity with a chance of explosions, Alex is a high school English teacher, waging epic battles against comma splices, misused apostrophes, and anyone under the delusion that the singular ‘they’ is grammatically incorrect.

A German immigrant, Alex has always been drawn to language and stories. They began to write when they realized that the best guarantee to see more books with queer characters was to create them. Alex cares deeply about social justice and wants to see diverse characters, including LGBTQ+ protagonists, in more than the stereotypical coming out story.

Alex currently lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with their equally geeky wife, outnumbered by three adorable feline overlords, and what could not possibly be too many books.

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