Tag Archives: PTSD

New Release Blitz: Halfway to Someday by Layla Dorine

Halfway to Someday | Layla Dorine

Halfway to Someday Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 27, 2020

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 110,300

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Blurb

Rocker Jesse Winters just wants to be left alone. If he could melt into oblivion, he would and bid farewell to the wild child of rock n’ roll so many had dubbed him in recent months. Truth is there was never anything reckless, wild, or even deliberate about most of the things that had happened on Wild Child’s last tour, but had anyone cared to listen? No! Which was precisely why he was sitting in a cabin high up in the Colorado mountains, hoping the incoming blizzard would bury him forever.

Ryker Jorgensen left the VA hospital with a bunch of prescriptions and pamphlets on how to deal with reentering the civilian world, not that he’s in any hurry to do so. His nightmares still keep him up at night, and every new limitation he discovers gives him more reason to believe that he’s hopelessly useless now. Better to drive up to his cousin’s cabin and lick his wounds. Come spring, maybe, he’d look into being around people, if only for long enough to make the kind of money he’d need to buy his own secluded place.

The last thing Ryker ever expected to see was the man whose face had been plastered in his footlocker and his dreams for the better part of the past six years, but Jesse Winters is nothing like he imagined. When trying to leave Ryker out in the storm doesn’t work, Jesse resorts to ignoring him.

But two wounded souls trapped in a snowed in cabin have little choice but to reach out for one another when emotions get frayed. His only hope is that Jesse will trust him enough to let him drag him back from the edge before he’s just another burned out star in the legacy that is rock n’ roll.

Excerpt

Halfway to Someday
Layla Dorine © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Firelight flickered against the stone mantel of the fireplace, yet despite its warmth, Jesse shivered and huddled in the blankets he’d wrapped around his shoulders. The winds outside had picked up as the sun sank lower in the sky. Now, as the minutes ticked closer to sunset, they howled like the crowds in the stands at every show he’d ever played. Staring into tear-blurred flames, he wasn’t sure if he’d ever climb up on a stage again. His fingers itched to touch his guitar, but what was the point in creating anything with the way his bandmates had turned their backs on him.

“Way to go.”

The sarcasm in Tish’s voice was unmistakable. Whirling, Jesse turned to glare at her.

“You think I ruined the concert on purpose?”

“What are we supposed to think!” she spat, crowding into his space. Didn’t matter that she was shorter, she had a way of getting right in his face. “The way you played tonight was abysmal. The fans didn’t deserve that. We didn’t deserve to have you out there ruining the set like that. You let everyone down tonight, so instead of making excuses, why don’t you tell us what the hell you’re on so you can get the treatment you need!”

“I’m not on anything!” he roared; then Kyle and Griffin were there, crowding him back against the wall.

“You garbled half the words to songs you wrote!” Griffin shot back.

“Not to mention how many times you were off-key and singing in an entirely different pitch than you were supposed to!” Kyle rebuked, staring into his eyes. “Were you drunk up there? High? Are you high now?”

“It was a bad night, okay? Why the hell can’t you all leave it at that?”

“One night is a bad night,” Tish hissed. “Hell, even two nights out of an eight-month tour, but this was what, the eleventh, twelfth time you’ve fucked everything up?”

“Fourteen,” Griffin said. “You’re forgetting the show he had to cut short in Reno, and the one we had to cancel in San Diego when he called and said he couldn’t perform. Couldn’t even bother to come tell us to our faces, he was so strung out.”

“I. Don’t. Use,” he snarled, exhausted, throat hurting as they’d loomed over him like vultures ready to pick him apart.

“Then tell us what the fuck is going on!” Kyle snapped.

Jesse shook his head, defeated, as he stared up into the eyes of his oldest friend. “I-I can’t.”

“You mean you won’t!” Tish chided. “And you’ll drag all of us down with you as our band, our dream, fizzles and burns.”

“It’s not like that. That’s the last thing I want.”

“Could have fooled me,” she snapped, sidestepping him and walking away, leaving the others to follow her.

“I just need time to work a few things out,” he called after them, cringing at the burn in his throat any time he tried to get loud. None of them even so much as turned back to look at him.

Pain sliced through his insides like broken glass, and he cringed and curled inward, rocking in the hopes of easing the ache. It wasn’t fair—he’d never set out do anything that would hurt the band or their music, never meant to get up there and fail or worse, not make it up there at all. But he’d screwed up both his personal and his professional life in all the worst ways possible…well, all except the ways they’d thought. He wasn’t stupid. He’d never use any of the hard stuff; he knew what it could do to bands, and he didn’t drink to get drunk, despite how free-flowing the whiskey and liquor got. Pot was different; it came from the earth, and besides, he only smoked it in the states where it was already legal recreationally. It mellowed him out when his brain was racing a mile a minute, and sometimes, that hazy silence was the only way he could relax enough to sleep. They knew him; they knew how deeply he loved the music, how it was all he had aside from them, and yet…

Did he even have them anymore?

Not knowing the answer doubled his pain, leaving him desperate to make it stop shredding his insides. The wind screamed and he raised his head, stared out the window, and watched the trees wave like angry shadows across the sad, gray sky, before turning his attention back to the song he’d been struggling since morning to write. The half-filled page in the journal on his lap taunted him with all its unfilled lines.

Too soft. It wasn’t enough. It wasn’t anything but another feel-good fluff piece like the rest of the shit he’d been writing for the past year. With a growl, he ripped the page out, crumpled it, and tossed it into the flames. Orange licked around white, curling the edges, blackening them before devouring it completely.

Good riddance.

Glaring down at the previous song, he skimmed a couple lines, then yanked it from the journal and hurled it into the fire too. The sound of tearing paper brought some sick kind of satisfaction, so he ripped out several more and consigned them to the flames, leaving nothing but the darker pieces he’d penned earlier in the week. Now those words he could connect with.

“Holy shit, guys, do you know what this means?”

They all turned their attention toward Kyle, who was still bent over the contract on the table, rereading every line of the document they were preparing to sign.

“Yeah,” Griffin called out. “It means no more ramen-noodle stew and day-old Bolivian creams. We can finally buy the fresh ones instead of the stale fifty-nine cent kind.”

They all broke into laughter then, the energy level in the room so high everyone was vibrating with it. Tish moved to stand behind Kyle, hugging him and rereading the contract over his shoulder.

“Means we beat the odds,” Tish said, her voice trembling with awe. “We really did it. We got a record deal.”

“Hell yeah, we did!” Jesse laughed, high-fiving Griffin, who caught him by the wrist, yanked him into a headlock, and proceeded to muss up his hair, which turned into a wrestling match that Jesse had no chance of winning. He’d resorted to tickling Griffin instead, their drummer writhing on the carpet as Tish decided to get in on the action and tickle him too. Of course, that had led to Kyle tickling her and all of them eventually collapsing into a laughing pile beside the couch.

Now, as he poured all his angst and rage onto the page, he found it impossible to remember when they’d last laughed together. Back in the studio, maybe, when they’d recorded their last album before the tour? He tried to think back that far, tried to temper the darkness of the would-be song with thin tendrils of lightness and hope, but the only images he could conjure in his mind were angry ones. Bitter accusations hurled at him the way he was hurling sarcasm and ire at the page, dotting it all with a heavy dose of scorn and a metric fuckton of guilt.

Snarling, he scrawled a few more words in the journal then tossed it aside, kicked a blanket off to the side, and squirmed around until his back was against the couch and his fingers were beside his pillows. For several moments, he caressed one of the soft, fluffy pillows before jamming his hand underneath, fingers fumbling below the plush overstuffed feathers, brushing against the coolness of the blade he kept tucked there. He curled his fingers around it, pulled it from its hiding spot, and let the firelight glint off the sharpened steel, the sparkle mesmerizing him for a moment. The flashing red-and-orange hues reminded him of strobe lights. He ran the blade up the back of his hand and arm, watching the tiny lines of blood well up and drip over the scars. Old white lines, angry red raised ones, an endless pattern that disappeared beneath his sleeve. If the photographers ever saw, they’d have a field day selling those shots to every music magazine they could find, which was why he never went sleeveless on stage. Here though, in the solitude of this borrowed cabin, he’d left his scars uncovered, if only to make it easier to carve in more.

Turning his hand over, Jesse pressed the blade against his wrist, traced the sharp edge along his flesh, but didn’t part it. Not this time. It was so tempting though. Maybe later when he dreamed of all his failures and woke up crying again.

How long he sat that way he’d never know, firm grip pressing the knife to his arm, body poised for action, muscles tense, beginning to ache from being held on edge so long. The voices in his ear warred, screamed, raged, one telling him to do it, the other pleading with him to think. All he wanted was the shame to stop and the heavy pressure in his chest to ease up enough to let him breathe.

The wind raged, and he longed to go out in it, throw his head back, and howl until his voice was shot. It wasn’t fair. He’d been scared and sick and struggling with what to do, choking on feelings of inadequacy and rage, a whirlwind of words in his head, and yet he hadn’t been able to string them together. Each time he’d attempted to stammer out something, they’d hit him with another accusation; if anything, that had hurt more than what Troy had done.

His fingers shook, so he pressed the knife deeper into his arm, trying to still the shaking. Pain shot up the back of his neck, throbbing in his temples and behind his eyes, his body coiled so hard it hurt.

There was no one left to believe in him, so why keep fighting? His band was the only family he’d had since his folks died. Without them, why keep playing? Why write another song? Why even bother to live another day? It would be so easy to give in, become another statistic. There was no one to stop him, no one to find the body until spring, and by then it wouldn’t matter—they’d have already replaced him anyway.

Taking a deep breath, he let it out slowly, the vicious voice in his head telling him to get it over with.

Meet the Author

Layla Dorine lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.

Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls.

She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.

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Halfway to Someday Now Available

Book Blast: Earnest Ink by Alex Hall

Earnest Ink | Alex Hall

EARNEST INK

Publisher: Nine Star Press

Published: October 14, 2019

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Heat Rating: 1 flame

Length: 72,100 words/244 pages

It is a standalone book

Buy Links

NineStar Press | Amazon US | Amazon UK

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sarah-remy

Blurb

While twenty-year-old FTM Hemingway is making an excellent living as a tattoo artist in a near-future version of Hell’s Kitchen, the rest of the country is splintered and struggling in the wake of a war gone on for too long.

Technology has collapsed, borders rise and fall overnight, and magic has awakened without rhyme, reason, or rule, turning average unwitting citizens into wielders of strange and specific strands of magic.

Hemingway’s particular brand of magic has made him a household name. Not only is he a talented artist, but his work comes to life. Literally.

When NYC’s most infamous serial killer—the East River Ripper—abducts Hemingway’s best friend, Grace, he has only days to save her. Hemingway teams up with his stoic cop roommate to hunt for the killer and rescue Grace before she becomes the Ripper’s latest victim.

But as the duo chase clues to the serial killer’s identity, Hemingway begins to fear the magic he and the Ripper share might eventually corrupt him too.

Excerpt

Earnest Ink

Alex Hall © 2019

All Rights Reserved

I work without speaking because that’s the way I prefer it. The vibration of my machine, the softer buzz of the fluorescent lights overhead, the tap of my foot on the pedal—it’s the best music in the world.

When I hit a ticklish spot, the girl I’m working on gasps, jolting in my chair.

“Don’t move,” I say. And then, with a salesman’s false cheer: “Almost done!”

The girl is sweating down the crook of her neck. She’s got silver glitter paint on her eyelids and cheeks, a new fashion trend I just can’t quite get behind. Under my lights the mix of perspiration and makeup looks like a blurry constellation.

She wanted a bee inked onto her collarbone, one of those tiny honeybees you find on good tequila bottles. Easily done, and she met the cash requirement. She’s eager, nervous, and breathing in and out in little puffs.

I can’t remember her name, but that’s fine. Customer relations is Eric’s job.

There’s another kid leaning over my glass counter, watching eagerly as I work. “Does it hurt?” he asks. “When the magic happens?”

The bee’s fat yellow thorax wriggles from side to side as it begins to wake, fighting the pressure of my needle, hungry for life.

“It looks like it hurts,” the kid says. I ignore him.

One minute more and—thanks to my peculiar magic—this bee will fly free.

I’m perched on a swivel stool, a wet paper towel in my hand to wipe away ink. It’s too hot in my studio, even with the industrial fans whirling overhead and the door propped wide open. Evening light slants in through the door and the north-facing, floor-to-ceiling window panes that look out onto West Forty-Sixth. It’s muggy, too warm for New York in October, and all of Hell’s Kitchen is wilting, including my client.

“What does it feel like?” the kid demands. He’s leaving greasy fingerprints on the surface of the glass as he strains to get a better look at what I’m doing. I study him out the corner of my eye, wiping sweat off my nose with the back of my wrist before it drips on my customer. He looks like one of the street punks who have taken to running in packs near the cruise terminals, sleeping in old, abandoned cargo containers and panhandling up and down the marina.

He’s skinny and tall, hair dyed an unsettling violet and styled into spikes all over his head. He’s got a silver ring in his septum and more hoops in his ears; his eyelashes are coated with purple mascara to match his hair. Green glitter paint sparkles on his lids. His T-shirt and jeans are torn and dirty, and he’s got a pack of black-market cigarettes rolled into one sleeve against his upper arm.

About the Author

Sarah Remy/Alex Hall is a nonbinary, animal-loving, proud gamer Geek.

Their work can be found in a variety of cool places, including HarperVoyager, EDGE and NineStar Press.

Social Media

Blog/Website | Twitter: @sarahremywrites

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New Release Blitz: Out of Time by C.B. Lewis

Out of Time | C.B. Lewis

Out of Time #5

Out of Time Banner

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: January 20, 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 113,100

Buy Links:

NineStar Press | Amazon

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Kobo

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OutofTime-500

Blurb

For Ben Sanders—traitor, thief, and temporal orphan—time is running out.

After three years as a fugitive, with the police task force led by Lysander O’Donohue and Jacob Ofori hot on his heels, Ben has to resort to desperate measures to evade capture and find the key to locating his missing father, lost in time for over two decades. With secrets and conspiracies at every turn, the net grows ever tighter around him.

Haunted by the people he betrayed, the loved ones he left behind, and the lives he ruined, it’s too late to stop now. But no matter what Ben does, there’s no escaping his past.

With this exciting conclusion to the Out of Time series, it is recommended to read the first four books for full enjoyment.

Excerpt

Out of Time
C.B. Lewis © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The house was unnaturally quiet.

It looked the same as usual: portraits of a family—mother and baby, father and toddler—on the walls, a scatter of Lego and jigsaw puzzles on the floor, a forgotten coat slung over the bannister at the top of the stairs.

The man walked onwards towards the staircase.

It was too quiet.

All he had to do was call out and break the silence, but he couldn’t.

Run and hide.

That was what his dad had told him. He had done what he was told.

The front door was cracked open, a thin slice of pale morning light cutting across the patterned tiles on the hall floor. It stretched on towards the lab, which was impossible. The sun was too high for it to stretch so far.

Something wasn’t right.

The stairs creaked underfoot as he crept down. The tiles in the hall were cold. His clothes were soaked. He didn’t remember why. They were wet, and he was cold, and it was all too quiet.

He saw—did he?—the body. A sheet. A shoe on a foot from under it. He saw it. A glimpse. He walked closer, and the sheet was still there. He reached out and grabbed the sheet to see the face of the one who did it.

There was nothing there. No one. The sheet fell from his numb fingers, vanishing before it hit the floor, and he walked onwards.

The door was open, no longer secret. They had cleaned the bloodstains, but he’d heard them talking quietly when they thought he couldn’t hear, and the handprints were back, smeared on the wall. Whose? He didn’t know.

Light shone up from the basement. The walls were white where they weren’t red. It wasn’t silent down there. The electric crackle of power hummed around him as he made his way down. It should all have been bigger. When he was there the first time, it all seemed so much bigger. He remembered the crackle, too, and knew what it meant.

Their secret, something no one had ever known.

He crossed the floor of the laboratory, ignoring the computers and the information all over them. The sound was coming from the next room, and he knew what he was going to see.

The temporal gate connected, blazing with light. The man standing before it, barely more than a silhouette.

“We’re running out of time.”

The voice was familiar, but it was wrong too, not the voice he remembered. Too many years without. Too many years of his memories being worn away. He couldn’t remember it now, not exactly, not the intonation, not the lilt or the accent.

He tried to speak, but his throat was closing up. He reached out towards his father, trying to catch him before he did what he always did. His fingers passed through his father’s shoulder as if it was nothing more than a shadow; then his father stepped through the gate. The world blazed white, dazzling him.

“No!” He ran towards the gate only to collide with a solid wall. Wall on all sides. Enclosed. Trapped. He was somewhere safe. Safe and closed and dark and alone until Dad came for him. The door was sealed and there was no way out, and in the dark he screamed—

Ben Sanders jolted, sitting bolt upright, panting. Iron bands squeezed his chest. He twisted frantically towards the glowing nightlight on the stool beside his bed. Staring at it, he counted down from thirty until his heartbeat evened out, and he could breathe again. He always kept the lighting low throughout the studio in case the nightlight failed. A shaft of white cracked through the ajar bathroom door. Not dark. Never dark.

His sheets clung to him, soaked with sweat. He pushed them aside and got out of the bed on unsteady legs. It took more effort than he liked to make it to the bathroom. He sank to the floor to sit by the toilet. The porcelain was cold as he propped his elbow on the seat, his fingers sinking into his sweat-matted hair.

Every night, it was getting worse. He knew why. How could he not? With every day that went by, he took another step closer to the day that would ruin his life. Time, time, time. That was what it came down to.

His stomach clenched, and he vomited, acid burning in his throat.

Any day now.

He got up and filled a glass of water at the sink. His reflection seemed more like someone half-dead, pale, with deep shadows beneath his eyes. He needed to rest, but not now. Not with his heart still pounding and the faint echo of his father’s voice lingering in his ears.

There was still so much to do.

About the Author

C.B. Lewis is small, Scottish and writes pretty much anywhere, any time. She loves to travel and tends to bring home at least four new plot bunnies from every trip she goes on. She’s very excited to continue the adventures of the Out of Time series.

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A wonderful Christmas romance that looks at reconnecting and renewing

48658545._SY475_.jpgThe Christmas Oaks by V.L. Locey

My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars

For Christmas VL Locey gives the reader a wonderful romance with an edge to it and focuses the story on reconnecting and renewing life.

It’s a lovely mix of serious and sweet as Bryan returns home to the sleepy town he left 15 years earlier and faces memories if a grandfather who’d rejected him when he came out.

I loved the connection between Bryan and Parson, one of the few kids who had supported him and stood by him at school.

It’s not quite a gay for you but there are elements of that within the narrative and I think it’s handled well. As is Parson’s PTSD and Bryan’s client’s addiction issues.

This festive romance gives the reader a bit more to think about than just glitter and presents and it has a wonderful Epilogue.

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

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Blog Tour: Just Like Heaven by T.L. Bradford

Just Like Heaven | T.L. Bradford

BLOG TOUR BANNER.jpg

Cover Artist: Photo by Neospot, design by T.L. Bradford

Release Date: September 4, 2019

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 181,000 words/ 479 pages

It is a standalone book.

Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Add on Goodreads

47108161._SY475_.jpg

Blurb

What do you covet?

Noah Sinclair
Noah Sinclair is best described as an egotistical, pompous, anal-retentive, asshat. And those are his better qualities. Lately, Noah has lost touch with his playboy character “Jace” on the show Americana and can’t quite put his finger on why. The studio decides it is time to shake up his character by making him an offer he can’t refuse, literally. They will introduce a new love interest for his character “Jace.” Only this time, there’s a twist.

Josh Hill
Josh Hill is up a creek and sinking fast. He’s got no job, no money, no credit and is about to be kicked out of his apartment. Opportunity comes in the form of a job offer from the show Americana. Everything should be perfect; only there is one hitch. He will be the new love interest for Noah Sinclair’s character on the beloved show.

So, opposites are supposed to attract, right? Not so fast. No one said life was that easy. Both actors find themselves in untested waters. Will they be able to play a same-sex couple with no prior experience authentically? Well, they say practice makes perfect.

Carefree, fun-loving Josh and uptight, overbearing Noah, realize they need to make the best of their bad situation and are forced to find common ground. Over time, their roles in each other’s lives become blurred. Is their attraction fake, or is it real? To top it off, Noah has a dark skeleton in his closet that can prevent them from ever moving forward.

Can they get on the same page and save both of their careers and their relationship?

Or will they end up yesterday’s tabloid fodder?

 BLURB.jpg

Excerpt

Chapter 1

It’s been almost 10 minutes. Five to go. Fuck.

I have no clue what this meeting is about, and I am not in the mood to be dealing with Steph and Genie’s crap today. Some random stagehand just came back here to let me know my attendance was required. I try to think back and wonder if I personally offended anybody yet today. Hmm… Nope. Not today, anyway.

Four minutes.

Steph and Genie are the producers for the show I star on called Americana. It’s a newer concept in programming. The show streams daily on Netflix as an evening drama. Small town life under a microscope is the idea. It’s a modern-day spin on a soap opera really, but there is no way on earth I am admitting to working on a soap opera. The show itself is heavily ingrained in social media where the characters have taken on a life all their own. It’s been almost two years now since they cast me, and the show has been live.

Three minutes.

I graduated from college several years ago. After that, I spent a couple of years bartending and serving. With good parts so scarce, I was lucky to get this opportunity. The show has been a ratings winner, and the entire cast is becoming well known.

What drew me to the part was its unique take on the dissection of America and how different communities have changed over time. Our show takes place in America’s heartland. It focuses on the lives and loves of the residents of Greenfield, Indiana.

My character, Jace, is the town barkeeper. He was a great role to play early on because he had a lot of interaction with the main cast. Lately, though, something has changed, and I’m not feeling in touch with the character as much as I once did. It’s showing in my performance, so I’m sure that’s what this meeting is about.

Two minutes.

I’ll bet it has to do with me flubbing lines lately. I haven’t been able to focus, and it looks like they have noticed. My part is getting reduced to nothing. Maybe this is the kick in the pants I need to move on. Ash, one of my castmates on the show, mentioned that they are having open auditions for a new show on FOX. Who knows, it may work out for a season or two. The only thing is that FOX has a bad reputation for short-term junky shows.

One minute.

Maybe they aren’t going to renew my contract. Oh god. I’m being sacked. I can see it now. Gah, I’m already planning my pity party table for one.

I reluctantly get up from my chair, padding out of the room, trying hard not to make eye contact with anyone. I arrive at the end of the hall and hold my hand on the doorknob. “Okay here it goes,” I say to no one in particular.

I enter the room and see Genie and Steph seated across from each other around a large square glass table. Steph is probably in his early 40s, (never can tell for sure in Hollywood), smallish frame with short sandy brown hair, mischievous eyes and a car salesman smile. He is kicking back with his half-eaten Subway sandwich hanging out of his mouth.

Genie looks up to see me. She has her requisite Starbucks Spiced Vanilla Chai Latte and is eating some salad that looks unhealthier than Steph’s meatball sub. “Noah, right on time, per usual.”

“Hey, guys.” I’m hoping to keep good vibes flowing.

Steph says, “Come on in and take a seat. Shut the door behind you.”

Oh boy, that doesn’t sound good. I move toward the desk, taking a chair next to the window, moving it in close next to Genie. The smell of the eggs on her salad is strong. Steph takes a napkin to his lips to wipe the marinara sauce off and starts talking.

“Noah, you’ve been here for over a year, right?”

“Uh, yeah, almost two years next month.”

“So, you’re up for contract negotiations then, right?”

“Yeah, I haven’t talked with my agent about it yet.”

“Well, that is what Genie and I would like to discuss.”

I swear the smell of the eggs is getting stronger. It is permeating the entire atmosphere.

“You know we get the daily stats on the show’s overall performance and having talked; we decided we are going to have to make some changes.”

It’s coming. I feel it. With the show being purely streaming, it is easy for the showrunners to pull up all types of analytics on the show, like what age group is watching, and income bracket. Annoyingly, they can also track what parts of the show are being watched and skipped over. A favorite character will have higher click averages than a third-tier one. With my part being scaled back so much, I’m fairly sure my numbers are in the gutter. For sure I’m getting the boot. I start sweating.

Genie jumps in and says, “Your numbers have been pretty consistent, but not growing at the pace we would like to see.” All I can smell now is the nauseating stench of eggs. I am going to puke. Right here. Right now. Right on their fancy $3000 glass table.

Genie looks at me with concern in her eyes. “Are you okay? You don’t look so hot. Would you like a glass of water?” She jumps up from the table to grab me a glass. Her dark hair is nearly falling out of the messy bun at the back of her head.

“Yeah, that would be great.” She comes back and sets the glass down in front of me. I pick it up and drink slowly. My throat is constricted, and I nearly choke. She is still concerned and looks over to Steph. She pushes her black-framed glasses up on her nose and turns back to me.

Sensing my stress, she quickly says, “We are thinking of taking your character into a new direction.”

“A new direction? Okay, what were you guys thinking about?”

Steph says, “We’ve done some marketing research and have found some niches that we think will work well for our show.” He crams in another mouthful of sub.

Ever the tag team, Genie says, “It’s a direction that may be more challenging, but we think given your range that you would best be able to play the role.”

“What’s the direction you were thinking?”

She looks over to Steph, then back at me. “Your character, Jace Alexander will enter into a relationship with a new character, named Max.”

“Max? Well, what is Maxine’s backstory?” I let out a huge breath. They had me there for a minute.

“It’s just Max, not Maxine. Specifically, Max Shephard,” Steph says.

Slowly my head starts to wrap around what they are saying. “So, wait, Max is a guy?”

“Yep,” they say in unison.

“You made him gay?”

“Look, Noah, I know this is a real shock, but think of it this way. You will have a unique storyline, and it will get people back into your character again,” says Steph. “It’s been what, a year now since Jace broke up with Gracie? The character has just been drifting, and we need to get that viewership back.”

“Are you kidding me? How the hell am I supposed to play gay? This is so far out of my league. I—”

“I’m going to be honest with you,” Steph says, finally having put this sub down. “Genie and I had to go to bat for you to keep you on the show. They were ready to cut you. We pulled this idea out that we had a little while ago and they went for it. So basically, you stay on the show on the condition that you accept this storyline. Otherwise, they are releasing you at the end of your contract.”

I sit back in my chair, dumbstruck. I look between the two of them and see there is no way out. I have no words.

Genie says, “I know you feel blindsided and I don’t blame you for being upset but think about this rationally. This is the opportunity you have been waiting for. A chance to stretch your acting skills.”

“Yeah, but…”

Then she pulls forward in her chair, she grabs my hand and looks me in the eye. “You don’t have to answer right now. Think about it over the weekend, and we can all talk about it again on Monday.”

I don’t say a word, still unmoving and dazed.

“We have an audition video for the actor we have in mind. Why don’t you take this copy and see if you think you can make this work?”

Wordlessly, I take the flash drive and get up to leave. I go back to my dressing room and finally lose the contents of my stomach.

About the Author

T.L. always hated math, so it was a good thing she had a way with words. Since she was a shy and quirky kid; words were her best friends. She would imagine entire worlds in her head and talk to herself endlessly. Her mother wondered if she was speaking with ghosts for a while.

Her older sister was a voracious reader of trashy romance novels and would pass them down to her after she had finished them. T.L. was the only 10-year-old kid sitting in class reading “The Stud” by Jackie Collins during reading time. Oddly enough, she never got called out on it.

As she grew older, her tastes evolved, but one thing held fast; her undying attachment to love stories. One day out of the blue, she decided to write the love stories she always wanted to read instead of searching for her story. Since then, writing has been a dream fulfilled for her and she could not be happier.

She enjoys writing about love, regardless of gender and is a proud supporter of the LGBTQ community.

T.L. calls the Pacific Northwest her home and enjoys the quiet rural life of her little oceanside home with her playful/crazy husband and their giant dog Noah.

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Book Blast: Complementary Colors by Adrienne Wilder

Complementary Colors | Adrienne Wilder

Cover Artist: Adrienne Wilder

Heat Rating: 5 flames

Length: 362 pages

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links:

Available on Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Add on Goodreads

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Blurb

My sister Julia manipulated my life into a prison to keep me silent about our dirty family secret. Her greed made me a slave and circumstance left me with no way to escape.

Trapped, the only way I could silence the nightmares driving me to insanity was to wrap them in color, hold them with shadow, and stitch them to negative space with line.

But no matter how bright the pigments, no one could see my confession.

Except for Roy Callahan.

I thought he was just another nameless one-night stand in a long line of many.

But I was wrong. Roy could see past the façade of my life and through the veil color over the canvas. He could see what the world couldn’t.

And with him I’d find the courage to tell the truth about the boy.

The boy who kissed me.

The boy who loved me.

The boy whose name I couldn’t remember.

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Excerpt

Chapter One

I knew he didn’t belong the moment I saw him.

He wasn’t cut by money or shaped by political interests, and the rental he wore was a bad joke in the ocean of Versace suits and Chanel ball gowns, fitting him tight across the shoulders and short in the arms. A belt held up his pants, and the waves of extra fabric did nothing to accentuate the ass I knew was just as perfect as the rest of him.

I drank my champagne while the stranger picked his way through the clumps of people gathered in front of the hideous paintings I had on display.

“Paris, darling, Mr. Darcy was asking you about one of your works.” Julia put her hand on my arm. I ignored my sister and Mr. Darcy. Whatever it was he wanted to say to me, I’d heard it before; Mind-blowing, so unique, see the passion, the fire, and my favorite, it speaks to me.

Bullshit.

Only one person could see the dirty secret hidden within the lines, the color, the violence.

Me.

I handed Julia my empty glass.

She tightened her grip on my arm. “These people came a long way to meet you.”

They always came a long way to meet me. Even if it was a block away.

“Bathroom,” I said. Julia frowned. I think she knew I was lying but didn’t want to call me out on it in front of her friends. I peeled away her fingers. “If you don’t mind, of course.” I slipped into the crowd.

Julia would give Mr. Darcy and his flavor-of-the-year wife some excuse on my behalf. Then she’d slay them with her silver tongue, and by the end of the night, they’d write a check for some ungodly amount and buy a piece of hell I’d spewed out into the world.

They’d hang it in their country home or put it in their yacht. They’d smile and laugh and remain deaf to the confession screaming to be told.

Heat from the track lighting pressed down on my shoulders. Greetings cast out by guests floated in shades of black and gray.

I followed the stranger’s trail of color all the way to the back of the gallery. He disappeared around a partition and through a door. I checked to see if anyone was watching before I went in.

Cold fluorescents replaced track lighting, and the hum of the ventilation system snuffed out a burst of laughter. There were only two doors in the maintenance hall, besides the one that shut behind me.

A deep mechanical sound chugged from behind the one left open. I slipped inside and turned the knob so I could control the catch.

The man crouched beside an opening in one of the large metal units. Even on his knees, I could tell he was about my height, but his shoulders were wide, and his limbs were thick.

I hoped that trait didn’t stop at his legs and arms.

After a few minutes, he seemed satisfied and replaced the panel. When he stood, I had a brief glimpse of the curve of his ass when his slacks tightened.

He turned and dropped the tools he held. His hip hit the metal hull of the unit, and it boomed.

“Jesus Christ. You scared the shit out of me.”

A five o’clock shadow dusted his jaw, hardening his features enough to make him look dangerous. And there was already no doubt left in my mind that he could kill me if he wanted to.

He wiped his hands with a rag from his pocket. Scars crossed the knuckles of his callused fingers. The thought of his rough grip on my body left me hard.

“I replaced the coil.” The sound of his voice wrapped me in red and tied me up with gold. “That should relieve some of the strain on the unit. It’s pretty old, though.” He put his tools into a toolbox. “You might want to consider replacing it.”

I engaged the lock on the door.

He followed me with his eyes as I made a half circle around him. His physical appearance didn’t make him alluring. It was how he carried himself. Like a man who was one with the world and not above it. I grazed a look up and down his body.

“I’ll send you a bill.” He reached for his toolbox.

I got in the way, trapping him against the air-conditioning unit.

“Is there something else you ne—” He cleared his throat. “Need?”

“Are you afraid of me?”

He pulled himself to his full height. “Do I have a reason to be?”

“That depends.”

“On what?”

“On how much the idea of fucking me appeals to you.”

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About the Author

I am a writer of contemporary and speculative fiction and artist of all things monster. I live to create new worlds and the people in them. Several of my books have been best sellers both nationally and internationally. I have also been a finalist in the LAMDA awards, the “Oscars” of gay literary works.

I do my best to write original stories with powerful characters and emotion as well as a fast-paced plot. My goal isn’t just to deliver a good story but to take the reader into the story and let them experience the characters as if they are right there with them.

While almost all my books have a romantic element, I will be the first to admit, they are not traditional romance. In fact, I’d like to think there is nothing traditional about them. And the stories I paint are done so way outside the lines of traditional genres.

One of my favorite things to do as a writer is push the boundaries of what makes a story and to deliver the unexpected and maybe even change the perspective of the reader.

My characters are more often than not, beautifully flawed, not always the good guy, and make mistakes. Their stories will take dark turns which, in the end, make the light at the end of the tunnel all the brighter.

If you’re looking for something different, exciting, and unique, my books are for you.

Check out my website for updates and how to contact me. I love hearing from fans.

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2 x e book copies of Complementary Colors

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Review Tour: Room For One More by Ari McKay

Room For One More | Ari McKay

Herc’s Mercs #8

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Buy Links:

Amazon US | Amazon UK

Universal Link

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 80,000 words approx.

READ MY REVIEW

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Blurb

Love may not be pie, but when it comes to your lover, sharing isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

When Joe Morrissey returns home, heartsick and traumatized by his latest mission, the last thing he expects is to find his partner and lover, Brian Finnegan, has fallen for someone else.

Even though Joe knows Finn has never been a one-man man, he has difficulty accepting Drew Martin’s place in Finn’s life — and especially in his heart. But when Finn is kidnapped by criminals seeking revenge on Joe, he’s forced to pair up with his rival to make sure Finn is kept safe.

Joe has no choice but to face his deepest issues, not only about Drew, but also about his own past that has come back to haunt him. Doubt and pain are tearing Joe apart…

Can Drew help put him back together, or does Finn risk losing both of the men he loves forever?

Trigger warnings: This book deals with PTSD and human trafficking. There are mentions of sexual and physical abuse, kidnapping, and child abuse (NOT GRAPHICALLY DEPICTED).

Herc’s Mercs Series

The Bigger They Come (Book #1) – Universal Link

Line In The Sand (Book #2) – Universal Link

Bloody But Unbowed (Book #3) – Universal Link

Once A Hero (Book #4) – Universal Link

The Harder They Fall (Book #5) – Universal Link

Where Angels Fear To Tread (Book #6) – Universal Link

No Pain, No Gain (Book #7) – Universal Link

Review Tour Schedule

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Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure.

Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge-watching TV shows together.

Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full-time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.

McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.

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