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Release Blitz: Learning Curve by N.R. Walker

Learning Curve | N.R. Walker

Franklin University #6

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Release Date: Sept 29th, 2022

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Blurb

Cobey Green

There I was, moving into the dorms at Franklin U, and not into the shared party house I’d lived in my freshman year. Last year had been all about football and afterparties, not schoolwork. Which was why my grades tanked, and why I was one failed class away from being kicked off the team.

Why I needed to live on campus, and find myself a tutor.

Funny that my new roommate just happened to be a tutor. Funny that he was oblivious to how hot he is. For a smart guy, he was pretty clueless. Maybe I could tutor him in how to be more outgoing in exchange for help with calculus? I could teach him how to talk to people, how to make new friends. Hell, maybe I could even help him punch his V card.

Actually, now that I thought about it… that was a really good idea.

Vincent Brandt

And there I was, happy to be back at college, happy to be where I was most comfortable. Happy to be starting another school year, happy to start tutoring again so I could earn some money.

And yes, there I was, equal parts excited and dreading to see who my new roommate would be… Until Cobey Green’s smiling face appeared at the door. A huge football player, loved by everyone, gorgeous, rich, and out of the closet.

Everything I was not.

It didn’t help that he was genuinely a really nice guy. It didn’t help that I could make him laugh, and we could talk so easily, and it certainly didn’t help that we started having private tutorials which ended up way more private than I’d ever dared imagine.

I’d ranked top of my class in every subject since the first grade yet there I was falling stupidly in love with him.

This was going to be a hell of a year. And one very steep learning curve for both of us.

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Excerpt

Cobey Green

“You’ll thank us one day,” Mom said.

I was in the backseat of the car, having flashbacks of when I was thirteen and my parents had enrolled me in a summer camp for mathletes instead of football. Only this time, they were moving me back to college, but not back to the fun house where I’d spent my first year. Oh no. They were moving me into the dorm. Why?

Because I was failing school.

I didn’t thank them when I was thirteen, and I wasn’t thanking them now.

Sure, they meant well. But come on! I was a nineteen-year-old guy on the college football team. My education was secondary to my social life. Well, and to my football life, so make that thirdary . . . if that’s even a word.

And therein lay the problem. Or so my father had said. School needed to be a priority.

So yeah, a great start to the new school year.

I was trying not to be mad about it. While I wasn’t thanking them, I could see their point.

Kinda.

“And who knows,” Dad said brightly, eyeing me in the rearview mirror as he drove. “Your new roommate might be nice. A good influence, perhaps.”

I stared.

Did I just hear him correctly?

“I’m sorry, my new room-what?”

“Your new roommate.” Dad shot Mom a panicked look. “You didn’t tell him?”

If Dad looked panicked, Mom looked stricken. “Didn’t you?”

“Didn’t tell me what?” It came out as a yell-squawk. I leaned forward through their front seats so I could try to see their faces. “A roommate?”

“All the single rooms were taken,” Dad offered.

I slumped back in my seat. They gotta be fucking kidding me.

But no, they weren’t.

“It won’t hurt to make friends outside of your football buddies,” Mom added. “Broaden your circle a bit. Broaden your horizons.”

Cool.

And when we get to the horizon, we can just keep on driving. Right off the fucking edge.

“I’d rather not broaden anything, just so you know,” I mumbled. “I like my football buddies just fine.”

They droned on about how it won’t be so bad, and it could even be great, and how it will mean more study time. Thankfully Dad realized now was not the time to lecture me again on my priorities and last year’s poor grades, because all I could think about was who I was going to have to live with.

What if they were a slob? What if they left their crap all over the floor?

Oh god.

“What if they don’t do laundry and our entire room stinks like a gym bag?”

Dad snorted. “You mean, like your gym bag?”

Mom turned to give me that look. You know that sorry-patronizing-grimace look that moms can do. “It’s highly unlikely it could be worse than what you lived in last year, darling. And anyway, maybe your new roommate will be a quiet, clean, and considerate person.” Then she mumbled under her breath, “Unlike whom you lived with last year.”

“The guys I lived with last year were just fine,” I grumbled. “They’re my friends. My teammates. And what if this roommate person is super weird? Like crazy-weird.”

“I’m sure they’ll be fine,” Dad said. “And if they’re not, if you really can’t live with them, then you can see about changing rooms. Just give it a couple of weeks. Who knows . . .” He gave me a hopeful glance in the rearview mirror. “They could turn out to be someone great.”

I sighed.

Now, I was normally an optimistic guy, always trying to look on the bright side. But this semester was going to blow.

* * *

Vincent Brandt

My new roommate was Cobey Green.

Cobey freaking Green.

He, of course, had no idea who I was. Which probably wasn’t surprising, let’s be real. Everyone at Franklin U knew who Cobey Green was. He was the incredibly popular, six-foot-three linebacker for the Kings, totally gorgeous, with a killer trademark grin. If that hadn’t been enough to annoy my cynical little heart, I’d never heard anyone say a bad word about him.

“Hey, man,” he’d said, carrying a box in. I’d opened the door, saw him holding said box with the aforementioned killer grin, and I’d stood there like an idiot. “Name’s Cobey. Your new roomie.”

It took a second for my brain to function. “Oh, sure.” I stood aside. “Come in. I, uh . . . I moved in already and put my stuff on the left.”

Cobey put the box on his bed. “I’m cool with whatever,” he said, still wearing that ridiculously stunning grin. “Oh, this is my mom and dad. Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”

“I’m Vincent Brandt.”

There was a forty-year-old dad version of Cobey, clearly where he got his height from. And a woman, from whom he’d very obviously inherited his smile.

“Hi, Vincent,” his mom said. She had a huge bag of bedding. “I’m Sheree, and this is Chris.”

I gave Cobey’s parents a smile and a nod. “Nice to meet you.”

The room was small enough as it was—with two single beds, two desks, two closets—but now with three tall people all looking at me, it was kinda crowded. And I was never good with parents.

“I’ll, uh, I’ll let you get settled in,” I said, shoving my hands in my jean’s pockets.

“Oh, we didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable,” Sheree said. “You can stay. This is your room.”

“No, it’s fine. It’s not that.” I gave them my best smile and pointed to the door. “I have to go see about a . . . tutor program thing. In the tutoring center . . . it’s in the library.”

“Oh, a tutor program.” Chris’s eyes lit up and he gave Cobey an excited nod. “See, son? Vincent here’s in the tutor program too. There’s no shame in needing a tutor.”

Cobey was clearly horrified, and he hissed, “Dad!”

Oh god.

That was my cue to leave.

“Nice to meet you,” I said again, edging my way around them toward the door. “Oh, Cobey, you might not want to open the blind. It fell down before.”

He gave me an apologetic smile, and after giving him a nod, I bailed. I did have to go to the library to see about the tutor program; that wasn’t a lie. And the room was too small for four people anyway. Giving them the space to get settled and organized without me sitting on my bed like an awkward lump, getting even more awkward questions from Cobey’s parents . . .

No thanks.

Not today.

In the tutoring center, I found Rafe behind an armful of books. “Hey, Vincent,” he said warmly. “Glad to see you back, man.”

Rafael was a junior English major, and we’d been friends since my first day there. I didn’t have many friends. Like maybe three I could name. We didn’t hang out often, or at all, really, but we were friends enough to strike up a conversation. Like now.

I took half his burden of books. “Hey. Yeah, it’s good to be back. How was your summer?”

“Not bad. Time with the fam, and earned some money helping my dad. How about you?”

“Yeah, much the same,” I lied, on both counts, and quickly changed the subject. “Just met my new roommate.”

“Oh? Who is it?”

“Cobey Green.”

Rafe put the books down and gave me a smile. “Oh, he’s a nice guy.”

That was the consensus. Absolutely everyone at Franklin U knew him and liked him. I wasn’t sure why that annoyed me.

Jealousy?

No.

I just didn’t hold people who coasted in high regard. The type of people who had everything come easy: money, social life, sports. And Cobey was the epitome of that. Superstar football player, tall, gorgeous, rich, friends with everyone, had loving parents.

He was also out and proud.

He was literally every single thing I wished I was . . . but wasn’t.

Was that his fault? No. Was any of his good fortune his fault? Also no.

Was I being an ass with my generalizing, broad-sweeping, stereotypical assumptions?

Possibly yes.

“Yeah, I’m sure he’s great,” I added. “He’s gotta be better than the guy I roomed with last year.”

Rafe chuckled. “We can only hope.” I helped him sort through the books in a comfortable silence for a while. “Please tell me you’re here to sign up for the tutor program?”

“Oh, yeah. That’s what I came in here for.”

“You mean you didn’t come in just to see me?”

I rolled my eyes, but he did make me smile. “Oh, sure. That too.”

See? I sucked at the whole friend thing.

“We’re having a bit of a welcome back party this weekend.” Rafe handed me the clipboard. “You should come.”

I took the clipboard, my introverted heart panicking at the mention of a social outing. “Oh.”

He laughed. “The look on your face . . .”

“No, I could come,” I tried, regretting it as soon as I’d said it. “Who else will be there?”

He looked at me, obviously deciding not to laugh when he realized I was trying to be serious. “Just the usual crew. It’s just a small thing. You know how we are.”

I nodded. I did know. They were good people. My kind of people: quiet and studious.

I filled out the tutoring information, and we chatted a while. I liked Rafe. He was chill and nothing fazed him much.

But I couldn’t put off going back to my room forever.

Cobey was alone in our room when I got back. “Oh, hey,” I said. “Your folks gone already?”

“Yeah, they had to go back home,” he replied and nodded to the window. “Dad fixed the blinds.”

I sat on my bed, trying not to let things get awkward. “So is, uh, is home far?”

Great job, Vincent. Don’t make it awkward by asking a straight-up personal question.

“Nah,” he said effortlessly. “San Diego. What about you?”

“San Luco.”

“Ah, sweet. This is your hometown.”

Not far enough for me.

“My parents just wanted to make sure I moved in okay,” he added. “I was in Mundell last year and my grades tanked.” He sighed. “It’s a catch-22. My grades were shit because of football. You know, games, training, the social side of it. It takes up so much of my time and studying isn’t a real priority for me. But if I don’t maintain at least a 2.0 GPA, I can’t play football. It’s part of my scholarship deal. I just scraped through. Coach was pissed, but my parents went kinda nuclear. And here I am. In the dorm.”

Plenty of guys maintained a football and school ratio, and they managed just fine. I didn’t doubt it wasn’t a difficult seesaw of commitment, but I had to wonder if there was more to Cobey’s story.

“It’s not so bad here in the dorm,” I said. “Not as much fun as the Mundell house, I bet. But that’s probably the point.”

“That’s exactly the point. Apparently.” His grin was something special, and it was easy to see why people liked him.

He’d put up some posters and pictures on his side of the room above his bed. There was a vintage Coca-Cola poster that was kinda cool, and there were some group photos, team photos, all smiling faces. There was a poster of Post Malone wearing a dress and a poster of Jesus . . . no, Mary . . . no, wait. “Is that Adam Driver?”

Cobey burst out laughing. “Yep. It’s funny as fuck.” Then he stopped, his eyes quickly finding mine. “Uh, if you don’t like it, I can take it down. I didn’t mean to offend you, or anyone. Shit. Sorry.”

I snorted. “No. I’m not offended. It is kinda funny.” Then I nodded to a small rectangular flag stuck with the photos. “Is that the bi flag?”

His gaze shot to mine. “Do you have a problem with that?”

“Oh, no. Absolutely not,” I replied quickly, trying not to panic. The last thing I needed was for him not to like me just two minutes into the year. “No problem. Actually, I kinda like it. That you . . .”

Shut up, Vincent.

Just shut up.

“That I’m what?”

Gawd.

I wanted to die. I certainly didn’t want to answer, but his stare was drilling into me. It made my mouth dry. “That you’re, you know, out and proud.”

“Oh.” He was clearly relieved, but then I could almost hear the penny drop. He stared. “Oh.”

Panic struck me. “No, it’s not like that,” I said. Except it was. “I’m not . . . I’m not . . .”

He tilted his head. Patient. Curious. “You’re not what?”

“Out,” I blurted. “I’m not out.”

Way to go, Vincent. Announce that to a complete stranger. Something you’ve never told anyone, and you just blurt it out to Cobey freaking Green. Of all the people. One of the most popular sophomore guys at college.

Way to fucking go.

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About the Author

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N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She’s been writing ever since…

Social Media

https://smart.bio/nrwalkerauthor/

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To celebrate the release of Learning Curve, N.R. Walker is giving away an eBook of the Winner’s choice from her backlist and a $10 Amazon Voucher

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Release Blitz: Wildfire by Garrett Leigh

Wildfire | Garrett Leigh

In Vino Veritas #1

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Release Date: September 8th, 2022

Universal Link: https://geni.us/Wildfire-amz

Audio: Coming soon

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Cover Design: Christine Coffey

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Blurb

A gorgeous new sexual awakening romance with sizzling first times, snarky British banter, and off-the-charts chemistry.

Life doesn’t always pan out as you expect. When it explodes in my face, literally, an old friend offers me a place to heal and a job renovating the kitchen of Burlington’s coolest wine bar.

V&V is a chill fest. Living above it should be a blast. But I’m not built to be a social butterfly. Not anymore. I’m a damaged man.

And I’m not its target clientele.

At least, I think I’m not until I come face to face with the most beautiful human I’ve ever seen. Joss is the new chef and my roommate. He has hair like spun gold and it’s as pretty as the rest of him. Crystal blue eyes. Megawatt smile.

I can’t stop staring. Or thinking about him. He chases my nightmares away. And when he spots my crush a mile off, his solution to our chemical attraction blows my mind.

An experiment of sorts. Science. Is this sexual exploration or sex education?

Either way, Joss is only here for the summer. He’s leaving.

I can’t fall in love with him.

I can’t.

Shame my foolish heart never got the memo.

WILDFIRE is a heartfelt MM friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort romance in the True North world, with a brooding lumbersexual, a wild-hearted chef, sweet angst and all the Vermont food. Content warning: contains mentions of depression, ADHD, suicidal ideation, and PTSD recovery.

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Series Page: https://hearteyespress.com/wotn#/in-vino-veritas

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About The Author

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Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer.

Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.

When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.

Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock site moonstockphotography.com with photographer Dan Burgess.

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Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5893561.Garrett_Leigh

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

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

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

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Release Blitz: Playing The Player by Beth Bolden

Playing The Player | Beth Bolden

Miami Piranhas #2

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Release Date: August 3rd, 2022

Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood Designs

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 91,000 words

Available in Kindle Unlimited

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Blurb

Center Logan Banks didn’t come to Miami looking for a best friend.

He came for football and for a chance at freedom—the freedom to live out of the closet.

But after a water main break, he lands an unexpected roommate, the new Piranhas kicker, Dylan Leonard. Between practices, games, and too many late nights on the couch, a best friend is exactly what he gets.

When Logan’s past rears its ugly head and threatens to destroy the freedom he’s hoped for, Dylan becomes more than just a friend. He becomes a lifeline.

But then their friendship gets incorrectly labeled as something more, and Dylan shocks Logan by suggesting they play along with a fake relationship.

Logan knows it’s off limits to fall in love with Dylan. He’s supposed to be straight, he’s his best friend, his roommate, and his teammate. But the closer they grow, and the more he and Dylan fake falling in love, the more real it feels.

The more real Logan wants it to be.

Making a play for love is the biggest risk he’s ever taken, but he wants it all and he wants it with Dylan.

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Excerpt

Dylan’s jaw dropped. “You’ve never seen Star Wars?

“Guilty as charged.”

“Well, first, we’re gonna remedy that ASAP,” Dylan said with relish. “I can’t believe I get to pop your cherry.”

Logan froze, his hand still on the controller. “Uh,” he said. “Hate to break it to you but that’s been done . . .”

But I could pop yours, that voice that didn’t want to cooperate, inserted slyly. And now Logan was fucking thinking about it. A dark head, between his heads, tongue flicking out uncertainly. A hand pressed to the middle of his chest, as Dylan squirmed on his dick.

Stop. Do not cross Go.

“Your Star Warscherry, silly,” Dylan said, laughing, punching him lightly in the arm.

“Is that a thing?” If it was, then Logan wanted it to be Dylan who did it. Logan wanted him to do all kinds of things.

It was a problem, even though he kept trying to pretend it wasn’t.

“Sure, it can be,” Dylan said, one of those quicksilver grins lighting up his whole face.

“So why this game?” Logan asked, trying to pluck the game from Dylan’s fingers, but he was too quick, and pulled it away. “’Cause it’s easy?”

“Well, it’s simpler, sure, but it also requires less hand-eye coordination,” Dylan said, and Logan shot him a glare. But Dylan only laughed. “We’re being honest here, dude. Set you on a football field, and you’d destroy most everyone, but with a video game controller in your hands?”

“Fine, fine, fine,” Logan said with a resigned sigh. He grabbed for the game again, and Dylan wasn’t quite fast enough this time, and when Logan got ahold of it, he didn’t let go.

Yanked both it and Dylan over the side of the couch, and Logan froze as the other guy landed basically in his lap.

He 100% did not mean to freeze. It wasn’t in his nature to freeze.

After all, they had a touchy-feely friendship. Logan had never shied away from touching Dylan and vice versa. It worked for them.

But now he was in his lap.

And he wasn’t moving.

Logan could count every shade of green in Dylan’s eyes as they stared at each other. His hand hovered right over Dylan’s back. He wanted to push him in, pull him close, but no matter how touchy-feely they were, they weren’t in the habit of embracing. Not like this.

Not with Dylan straddling him, not only wearing a pair of athletic shorts each.

Then Dylan reached out, pressing a palm against Logan’s chest. Right where his rose tattoo sat, right over his heart. Not pushing him away. Not using him to get up. Just resting it there.

Like he couldn’t help it, he just wanted to touch.

You’re wrong. He doesn’t want to. Not like that. Not like you want him to.

Logan opened his mouth to make a joke, but his brain was empty, and nothing came out.

Dylan leaned forward a fraction. Licked his lips.

There was something soft and hazy and affectionate in his gaze. Something curious.

And then he spoke. “Guess,” he said, voice low, “that your reflexes really do suck, Banks.”

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About the Author

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A lifelong Pacific Northwester, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal.

She’s published twenty-three novels and seven novellas.

Author Links

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