Sweet Nothings Excerpt by T. Neilson

April 10, 2018

Sweet Nothings Excerpt

 

TRISTAN was not running away.
He was driving. At the speed limit. In a rental car

that he’d picked up at the airport under his real name and everything. And he was going to a cabin on a lake. That was totally, de nitely, one hundred percent the opposite of running away. Besides, he left a note for Christopher, so it wasn’t like he just vanished on the guy. He did the responsible thing because he was a responsible guy. Not the sort of person who would do something heinous like send a breakup text. Even if he had been really, really tempted.

Tristan de nitely didn’t sigh with relief when he passed the Welcome to Lake Balmoral—trout shing paradise! sign, and he certainly didn’t turn up “This Year” when it came over the car’s weak stereo system.

And he didn’t keep glancing at his left hand where, until very recently, an engagement ring he never wanted used to be. Nope.

And heck, since he was now single and heading to a vacation rental and in control of his own life and nances and person again, he made an executive decision. He icked on the signal and pulled the little rental rocket into Ollie’s Super Market and Farm Equipment Emporium. It had been a long time since he’d set foot there. They probably hadn’t painted the lines in the parking lot since he left town, and the whole place—from the big farm-produce crates that held watermelons and bushels of corn and tumbling peaches just outside the doors of the market to the maroon-and- brown color scheme of the place—looked just like it had when he ran down there, ip- ops slapping the hot tarmac, the smallest of the Love children trailing after six older brothers on hot summer evenings.

They took their pocket money down every weekend and hunted for freezer pops and ice cream sandwiches and Drumsticks. Being the youngest and smallest of six brothers had been an educational experience, and one of the things he’d learned was that candies his brothers liked would soon go missing. So he cultivated a taste for things like black licorice. And while Ollie’s might be your average small-town grocery store, it had one other rare and precious thing—it carried the incredibly elusive and unbelievably delicious tiger tail ice cream.

He grabbed a plastic shopping basket from the stack by the doors, snagged a little watermelon on the way in, and made a beeline for the frozen food. Just like the exterior, the interior was exactly as it had been all those years before, including the ice cream selection. Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, Neapolitan, butter pecan, and best of all, tiger tail. He sighed happily at the sight of it—orange and black licorice avor, swirled together. What could be better? And how better to celebrate getting out of a screwed-up romance and getting your life back on track?

He dropped the container into the basket and paused for a moment to consider. The website said the place was out tted with a kitchenette. He might as well stock up with good things. It had been a long time since he was in a position to have whatever he wanted, and that night would be a love letter to all the delicious things he’d longed for the last few years.

Being the son of chefs, brother to foodies, and a baker himself, the tiger tail ice cream would be the best/ worst thing he bought. He might be hard up for kitchen space, but frozen pizza was not on the menu. Besides, it was high summer in the countryside—fresh peaches that smelled like candy when he lifted them to his nose, sprigs of damp green mint standing near knobby cucumbers. Who could resist? He picked two—one to slice and put on toast with cream cheese, and another for watermelon salad. Thinking of which, he took himself to the dairy and grabbed a carton of feta and then a pot of ricotta to smear on toast and top with honey and peaches. He’d have to content himself with whatever bread the grocery store had, but that would be ne.

Once he got settled, he’d be a bakery owner, and there would be plenty of time to eat good bread again. He found himself in the baked-goods section, stunned to nd a sourdough loaf that, judging by the browning pattern on the crust, might have been brick-oven baked. “No way,” he said, turning it over in his hands. “Amazing.”

Someone laughed softly.

He looked up. Across the aisle somebody was watching him—a cute guy with messy dark hair and a basket of his own stuff, mostly boxes of add-water- and-slurp things. Nosy though Tristan was about the food people were eating, he didn’t care about what was in the basket. The guy, on the other hand, was another story. Dressed in a pair of tattered old jeans and a gray sweatshirt, the guy could have come from work or been a tech millionaire or just rolled out of bed. Hard to say. But one thing was for sure—that messy brown hair and cute grin were worth looking at.

“Sorry,” the guy said. He shrugged shoulders that seemed to be trying to escape the con nes of his sweatshirt. “You just make it sound like it’s a treat, not a chore. It’s… cute.” He grinned right at Tristan. It had been a heck of a long time since anybody had looked at Tristan like that and a heck of a long time since Tristan felt good about it instead of trapped and frantic.

“Well, I—” Tristan started. Everyone does not want to hear about your accidental engagement and your crappy breakup. “Uh… it kind of is for me. I’m a… food nerd,” he nished lamely.

“Food nerd?” the guy echoed slowly, as though he were tasting the words. “I’ve been away for a bit. Is that what the kids are calling foodies these days?”

Tristan made a series of noises that weren’t exactly coherent. “Yes,” he blurted nally. The guy was still smiling at him, a softer smile, amused but not mocking, and Tristan started to feel warm all over, but mostly in the southern region. It had been a long time since he’d been really interested in anybody. After Christopher’s latest string of stunts, he’d gone from not interested in his boyfriend to at-out repulsed.

But this? This was great. He hadn’t felt like this in a long time, and he loved it. And if tonight was going to be a love letter to all the things Tristan had been unable to have for so many years, well…. This guy t the bill pretty nicely.

Tristan smiled at the guy. He said, “I too have been away,” and then heard the words after they left his mouth. Oh no. I just turned Victorian.

The guy chuckled. “No need to get formal. We’re just talking bread.”

All the lovely heat in his southern region headed north real fast, right into his face. He didn’t remember irting being dif cult. Was it always dif cult? Hadn’t it been easy once? Was irting a thing that went rusty if you didn’t use it enough? “Uh,” Tristan fumbled, “I mean, I grew up here, but it’s been a while. I just got back to town. And I-I need food. So”—he gestured at his basket—“shopping. Hah.”

“Okay,” the guy said. “So, you seem to know what you’re doing. What do you suggest for me?”

Someone asking him to talk about bread. He could have sighed with relief. Bread was easy. Solid footing. Tristan could talk bread until the next ice age and still have stuff to say. “Well, what are you using it for?”

The guy shrugged. “Eating.”

“Toast or sandwiches or…?” The guy shifted the basket to his hip. Tristan

lingered on the hint of skin showing between his jeans and shirt for what was probably too many seconds.

“I’m easy,” the guy said. “I like everything.”

He means bread. That was not an innuendo. “Uh, well….” He dragged his attention back to the display. Bread, right. With a wave of his hand, he discounted the stuff in plastic bags. “Most people just want a sandwich loaf. That’s what I usually go for. I like something versatile.” And once again, his brain pointed out the word he had chosen to use after it came out of his mouth. Tristan absolutely did not look at the cute guy. Instead he picked a brown-paper-wrapped pan-baked bread with a grainy topping. “Get something like this one here.” He handed the loaf to the guy, and absolutely ignored the electric sensation when the guy’s warm, calloused hand brushed his.

“Versatile,” the guy said. “Just like me.”

Really? Did he actually purr those words or was that Tristan’s imagination? Imagination. Get a grip.

“So, you consult on this stuff, I guess?” the guy asked. “Should I give you my contact info so you can send a bill, or…?”

“Actually, I’m a baker,” Tristan answered. It was true. When he was with Christopher he’d just been Christopher’s boyfriend, and then, much to his horror and chagrin, Christopher’s fiancé.

But he was his own guy again. And for the third time that night, he realized he’d missed a seriously important moment. He just offered me his number. “I… look, sorry. I get a bit crazy with the bread, and I’m….” He stopped and took a moment to get himself back together. “And I’m kinda bad at talking to normal humans these days.”

The guy laughed. “Well I think it’s cute.”

Tristan stared. No admonishment, no eye-rolling, no teasing. Just, “it’s cute.” And that came with a sparkle in the eyes and a glance down and then up Tristan’s whole body. He held back a shiver. I’m less than twenty-four hours out of a relationship, and I’m already panting after someone. I’m a danger to myself and others.

“The name’s Jake, by the way,” the guy said.

The smile. It just seemed so easy and natural. Like he was born to wear it. Tristan realized he was staring.

“And you?” Jake asked.

“Oh, yeah. My name.” He was babbling, but what was he going to say? I was staring at you and thinking about sex, and I forgot my own name for a second. “Uh. Oh, umm… I’m Tristan. Fresh out of a bad relationship and a little off balance.”

Jake’s eyebrows lifted. “Oh,” he said quietly. So maybe that was the wrong thing to say? God, how much time does it take for the flirting muscle to get back in shape?

“Just back in town for the first time in five years,” Tristan added, trying desperately to forestall what was sure to be an awkward pause in the conversation.

“Oh yeah? That’s a long time away.”

“Yeah. I—” Jake ran a hand through his hair, and Tristan forgot what he was saying. He opened and closed this mouth and then laughed helplessly. “Honestly, I’m a little overwhelmed. So I should go.”

He turned around and started for the nearest cash register.

“Hey,” Jake said.

Tristan stopped in his tracks, aware that his heart was beating hard enough to make him blush all over and suddenly afraid that if he didn’t get out of the grocery store, he was going to misinterpret something, and things would go sour fast. He turned back to Jake. “Er… yeah?”

“You forgot your bread,” he said. He held the loaf out in one tanned hand that, to Tristan’s astonishment, was striped with small, white scars.

“Oh.” Tristan lurched back over to Jake, grabbed the bread, and then dropped it into the basket, trying not to stare at his hand, but doing it anyway. You’re acting weird. He took a deep breath. “Look, sorry about all this,” he blurted. “I don’t get out much.”

Oh no.

Jake laughed, his green eyes bright. “Too bad.”

“I’m getting out more now.” Great. Awesome. So you sound like you’re out on a day pass. Hurray.

“Well then I’ll see you around.”

“Yeah,” he answered. Then he shook himself, and hurried toward the nearest cash register.

The clerk said nothing as she zapped labels and weighed the produce. She even managed to deadpan while he made small talk, but when she lifted the bag of groceries for him to grab, she gave him a pitying look. “Not so smooth there, Casanova.”

He groaned. “I know. My God, I’m so out of practice.”

“Well.” She shrugged. “Honestly, you seem like a nice guy. It’s probably for the best.”

He didn’t ask her what she meant by that, but he probably should have.

 

Check out Sweet Nothings today!

 

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Blurb:

Will a bitter bite from the past spoil a sweet romance?

Tristan Love, the youngest of seven brothers, is back in his hometown. He’s left the New York food scene and an abusive relationship behind him, but he holds his love of French pastries close to his heart and is determined to put his skills to use in a bakery of his own.

Returning to his childhood home means his meddlesome brother Simon will butt into his business, but before the bakery even opens its doors, Tristan’s delectable creations have the town’s mouths watering, and Jake, a cute mechanic, asks Tristan out. It all seems worthwhile….

That is, until the bakery burns down, Jake’s criminal past comes to light, and Tristan’s nasty ex rears his head where he is decidedly not wanted.

 

Author Bio:

T. Neilson writes flirty, silly, contemporary m/m romance featuring recovering addicts, mental health problems, and abuse survivors. Honestly, honestly, the books are silly.
Okay, maybe sometimes her books get a little heavy. But her books are also full of good things like the boy-next-door getting mush-mouth in front of a cutie, and his brain betraying him with a Freudian slip, and that gorgeous guy he never thought he had a chance with suddenly, whoa, in his arms. Because, heck, who doesn’t want a happy ending?

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Tumblr: tamthewriter.tumblr.com
Twitter: @TamMacNeil

 

Births and Dedications w/ j. leigh bailey + Giveaway

February 12, 2018

births & dedications

 

Thank you for joining me to celebrate the release of CHASING THUNDERBIRD (Dreamspun Beyond #13), the second book in my Shifter U series.

The release of CHASING THUNDERBIRD is a bit of a bittersweet moment for me. I’d dedicated it to my aunts (both of whom had the unforgivable habit of calling me Fer-Fer!). One of them, my aunt Sharron, lost a battle with cancer before I had the chance to show her the dedication.  She loved words in all their forms—she was a poet, an actress, a story teller, a voracious reader—and I think she’d have been tickled to see the shout-out in one of my books. While going through her things, I came across a letter my grandmother wrote to my grandfather (who was stationed in Europe during World War II) telling him of the birth of their first child, my aunt Sharron.

 

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In CHASING THUNDERBIRD, much of Simon’s family history (and his relationship with his grandfather who was battling cancer) drives his determination to prove to the world that thunderbirds exists. So when I came across a document from my own family history, it was too perfect not to share. And, it feels like a fitting tribute to Sharron, who’s birth stopped a war (so to speak…).

So here’s the letter. I’ve typed exactly how it was written, spelling and punctuation and all. And, head’s up, there’s some pretty frank descriptions of a birth 1940s-style…

 

Wednesday afternoon
August 15, 1945

My dearest darling Eddie (daddy)

 Yep! Honey it’s all over with except the shouting and I aint talking about the war! I hope you have my cable by now. Sharron Kay arrived about ten minutes after six last night. Darling I wish you could see her! She is a perfect little doll. Lots of black hair and eyes that are so dark blue that they look black. She is, I’m sure, the most wonderful little girl ever to be born.

Yesterday morning I got up feeling fine except every time I moved I almost left a puddle of water behind. Pa brought me down. Got here at 12:30 and I still felt fine except I was still flooding. The nurse brought me in and undressed me, then took me to the bathroom for an enema. About two o’clock I started having pains five minutes apart but they were easy. About three thirty they came every two or three minutes and got harder and harder. Was in a bit of misery from about four until five minutes till six when they had me on the push cart and took me to the delivery room. Things really began to happen fast and furious then and about the third hard pain I had out popped the baby. It was fine from there on out and I’ve never had a single hurt. President Truman was just starting his VJ speech when Sherry made her debut with a loud bawl and by the time she quit crying, the Pres. was thru talking. Sure starting the life out as an important one isn’t she? Guess she is too!

She sure is grand. I sorta hoped for your sake that it would be a boy but we can have him when you come back. She is so bright eyed and lively. After they bathed her when she was born they brought her in and I darn near blew a fuse with pride. She is so sweet. Then this morning at six they brought her in to nurse. When she snuggled her little pug nose up against me I felt like I was the only woman in the world. And how she did suck. She is a regular glutton although there is nothing much but watery milk in my breasts yet. I hope I can continue to nurse her.

I’m so glad the war is finally over. Now maybe you can come home to us before too long. We sure hope so.

We love you very much Eddie and hope you are half as tickled as we are. I really feel wonderful. Loads of love and hugs and kisses. Toots + Sherry

 

Anyway, I love that my aunt was born literally as the US’s involvement in World War II was ending, and I love that I got her same fascination and appreciation for words and stories of all kinds.

 

**GIVEAWAY** I’ll be giving away an access code for the audio version of Stalking Buffalo Bill to a random commenter who shares with me: Do you have any fun family stories that carried down through generations? Superstitions?

 

EXCERPT

Back at home, I’d barely hung my coat up when my phone quacked at me. I smiled at the familiar ringtone. Years ago, I’d set my phone to quack like a duck whenever my grandfather called. My mother cringed at the noise. I didn’t know if she objected to the not-very-refined sound or if she resented the relationship I had with my grandfather. I’d been named after him, but they were a little disturbed by how closely I followed in his footsteps. I knew absolutely that she blamed him for my interest in cryptids, especially thunderbirds.

I wondered if somehow Grandpa knew I needed someone to talk to. It wouldn’t be the first time a phone call came at exactly the right time. Hitting the Accept icon, I lifted the phone to my ear. “Hey, Gramps. What’s up?”

“Hey, kiddo. How’s Wyoming treating you?”

My breath caught a bit. Every time I spoke with him, it seemed his voice grew shakier and weaker. It was a constant reminder, a subtle countdown to the day he’d no longer be a part of my life. I made sure my own tone was light, free from worry, when I answered. “Oh, you know. The semester just started, so things are a little unsettled. I’m getting there.” For a second I considered telling him about my evening. He’d always given me good advice, or just let me vent if that’s what I needed. And he always knew which I was looking for without me having to clarify. But he didn’t need any additional stress in his life. I pulled my phone away for a second to check the time. It was after ten here, which meant it was almost midnight in Illinois. “A little late for you, isn’t it?”

Grandpa snorted. It was weaker, rougher than it used to be, but I took comfort in the sound. “I’m retired, boy. I set my own hours.”

I bit back a laugh. He might set his own hours, but Loretta, the nurse at the assisted-living facility Grandpa stayed at, would take away his phone if she knew he was up so late. The thought sent guilt eating at my guts. I hadn’t called in a few weeks—too busy with the new house, new school, new job. I shouldn’t have let it go so long. Grandpa had stage four lung cancer, and his condition was worsening almost daily. Weeks-long gaps in phone calls were inexcusable.

“So, what’s up? You know I’m happy to talk with you, but it is a little late for you to call.”

He harrumphed, and nostalgia and grief nearly overwhelmed me. I was going to miss that about him. “I got a strange phone call.”

“A phone call? From whom?”

“Called himself Richard Smith. Said he was a researcher. Claimed to be interested in the family legends.”

Doubt twisted in my gut. “The family legends?”

Another wet cough and a wheezing breath. I knew the muffled sound I caught next was him spitting into a tissue. Lung cancer sucked.

“In fact,” Grandpa said after clearing his throat, “seems he ran into an artifact from 1897 that he thought I’d be interested in.”

I stilled. It couldn’t be. “You don’t actually think….” I couldn’t bring myself to voice the question. What were the chances after all this time?

Back in the late 1890s, an ancestor of mine had shot a huge bird out of the sky. Its feathers were pitch-black, so dark that light didn’t reflect off them but was instead absorbed into the filaments. He claimed its wingspan was nearly twenty feet—larger than any living bird on record, then or now. It had a hodgepodge of features that, in combination, didn’t fit any other known bird species. According to his journal entry—and a very badly executed drawing—the animal had a relatively narrow sternum with unusually strong flight muscles, a broad wingspan with primary feathers that tilted up like an Andean condor. Instead of the condor’s nearly featherless neck and head, this bird’s head more closely resembled the shorter-necked, sleek-feathered, and hook-beaked golden eagle. Unlike either the condor or the eagle, it also had a pair of long paddle-shaped feathers that stretched out nearly a yard behind the broader, denser tail feathers.

So my relative did what anyone would do with such a creature. He dragged the local newspaperman—the only person in a fifty-mile radius who had a camera—to take a picture of the fantastical bird. The Arizona newspaper even ran the article. But not too long after, all copies of the newspaper and the photographic image plate had disappeared.

 

Check out Chasing Thunderbird today!

 

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BLURB

A Shifter U Tale

A legendary love.

Ornithology professor Simon Coleman’s reputation is at risk, and the only way to save his name is to prove thunderbirds are more than creatures of Native American myth. Grad student and part-time barista Ford Whitney has a lot on his plate, but it’s also his duty to make sure the resident bird nerd doesn’t discover shape-shifters—like himself—live on campus.

When a series of incidents related to Simon’s search put him in harm’s way, Ford’s instincts kick in, and they become closer than is strictly proper for student and teacher. Ford is forced to reveal his secrets to Simon, and their relationship is put to the test—Simon must choose between salvaging his reputation and protecting the man who protected him….

 

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Author Bio

j. leigh bailey is an office drone by day and the author of Young Adult and New Adult LGBT Romance by night. She can usually be found with her nose in a book or pressed up against her computer monitor. A book-a-day reading habit sometimes gets in the way of… well, everything…but some habits aren’t worth breaking. She’s been reading romance novels since she was ten years old. The last twenty years or so have not changed her voracious appetite for stories of romance, relationships and achieving that vitally important Happy Ever After. She’s a firm believer that everyone, no matter their gender, age, sexual orientation or paranormal affiliation deserves a happy ending. For upcoming releases and appearances information, sign up for her newsletter athttps://t.co/FfL9gFVJLQ.

Social Media Links

Twitter @JenniWrites 
Facebook @JLeighBailey
Instagram @j.leigh.bailey_author
Website

Falling Into Place w/ Deanna Wadsworth + Excerpt

January 30, 2018

falling into place

 

I’m really excited about all the positive feedback I’ve gotten so far about two of my favorite heroes I’ve written, Forrester and Kyle from LA FAMIGLIA, the second official Men of Gilead book. My holiday advent story WELCOME HOME, SOLDIER also takes place in my Ohio small town of Gilead, if you’d like to catch all of the books so far.

Forrester and Kyle have been in my head for a long time, and they have  through many unfinished versions and rewrites. When I finally realized that Kyle was deaf (all the clues had been there for me but I wasn’t seeing them) the story just fell together so very quickly. I brought along an excerpt to share of they way they flirt before their first date.

Enjoy!

Men of Gilead 3

 

Excerpt:

“So, Forrester.” Kyle said his name in a way that never ceased to send shockwaves down his back and straight to his cock. “How does one go about trading in books around here?”

Forrester pressed his groin closer to the back of the checkout counter, not wanting his thin khakis to reveal what Kyle’s voice did to him. He knew it wasn’t an accent anymore, but the soft way Kyle spoke lured him in like a siren’s song.

Since no one else waited to check out, Forrester took a moment to soak in those gorgeous hazel eyes, then smiled impishly. “First you have to bring them in.”

“That would be helpful.” Kyle’s generous mouth cracked a grin.

He tried his damnedest not to picture those downright kissable lips wrapped around his cock while he ran his fingers through Kyle’s sun-streaked hair.

He’d always had a thing for blonds.

He plucked up one of the flyers from the counter. Somehow he managed to sound professional, educated even, when he handed it over. “Our policy is we only take gently used books.”

“Mine are in great shape.”

“I bet they are,” Forrester drawled.

“They’re like new,” he insisted. “No folded corners, never dropped one in a tub either.”

“Good to hear. I hate it when people ruin a good book.” Dammit, now I’m picturing Kyle in a bathtub!

“Me too.” Kyle folded the flyer and tucked it into his pocket.

“For every book you trade in, we give 15 percent off the purchase of a new book or 25 percent off a used one. And for every three books, you get a free used book or half off a new one.”

Kyle flashed those pearly whites, making his eyes crinkle and his dimples deepen so much Forrester longed to flick his tongue inside them. “Guess I got some free books coming.”

“I guess you do,” he quipped. “Do you want to buy these today or wait till you do the trade?”

Kyle withdrew his card. “Nah, I’ll buy them now. I’ve been dying to see what happens since you got me hooked on this series. And Scott already signed this one.”

Forrester offered him a sideways smile. “I’ll just give you 15 percent off on good faith.”

“Gosh, you don’t have to do that.”

Good Lord, the guy said gosh. Could he be more adorable?

When Forrester noticed Holly watching them, he resisted the urge to stick his tongue out at her. Instead, he shrugged off Kyle’s modesty and entered the discount into his computer. “No problem. Just make sure you bring me some good stuff, capisci?”

“Will do. Thanks a lot.”

Forrester swiped his card, then offered Kyle another inviting smile. The one Ma called his suck-up smile. “Can I get you anything else? Answer any more of your questions?”

Kyle kept smiling. “No. You’ve been pretty thorough, as usual.”

“You sure?” he prompted, unable to stop flirting so shamelessly. “You don’t need to know anything else? What’s on the bestseller list? Today’s weather? The meaning of life?”

“Forty-two.”

Official report: Forrester was in love with Kyle Benson.

Or at least in serious lust.

His grin widened so big he swore his face might crack. “A Hitchhiker fan. I should’ve known.” He tore off the receipt and slid it forward for Kyle to sign.

“Hells yeah.” Kyle laughed.

Forrester bagged the books. “Receipt with you or in the bag?”

“Bag’s fine.” He accepted his purchases, then cleared his throat and fiddled with the bag. “All right, um, thank you, Forrester. Always a pleasure.” He extended a hand and Forrester took it, electric jolts running through his blood at the feel of those lightly calloused fingers.

“No problem,” he managed, not letting go.

Kyle kept his gaze locked on Forrester, blinking and glancing from his eyes to his mouth. Warming, Forrester ran his thumb across the back of his hand. He couldn’t believe his forwardness, but Kyle had some kind of tractor beam sucking him in. Powerless against its pull, he stroked the soft skin once more with a nervous, light touch, pulses of heat and desire stirring inside him.

Forrester let go and cleared his throat. “Um, Kyle?”

“Yeah?”

The phone rang, shattering the moment.

Sighing, he snagged it on the third ring. “Thank you for calling A Novel Idea. This is Forrester, how may I help you?”

“Hey, it’s me.”

Only real friends or family could answer a phone with an “it’s me.” Lucas Beale was the former. Though totally weird, and he hated sports of all kinds, Lucas was Forrester’s “boy best friend”—Holly having the honor of being his “girl best friend.” He didn’t know what he would do without either of them.

“Hey, Lucas, what’s up?” He tried not to sound annoyed at the telephone cockblock.

Kyle waved goodbye. “I guess I’ll see ya later, Forrester.”

“Can’t wait.”

“Can’t wait for what?” Lucas asked in confusion.

He covered the receiver, hoping he didn’t sound lame to Kyle. “I mean… uh, I can’t wait to read that book together?” His entire body froze in one breath of anticipation.

Kyle cocked his head to the side, then smiled. “Absolutely.”

Still grinning, Kyle turned and walked away.

Ignoring Lucas as he started talking again, Forrester watched Kyle’s spectacular ass as he headed to the door. A woman was coming in and, like a perfect gentleman, Kyle held the door for her. Outside, Kyle slid on and strapped his helmet. Then he threw his leg over and straddled the chrome-and-black Sportster parked out front.

I got something he can straddle and ride…. Forrester’s skin flushed all the way to his toes. Was Kyle a top or a bottom? Being versatile, he really didn’t care. As long as there was manly skin touching his, lots of kissing, and he got to come, Forrester was a happy camper. But the prospect of finding out what Kyle liked made his entire body warm.

He watched Kyle put his bike into gear and walk it back out of the space. As it did every time Kyle left, a deep ache settled in his stomach.

God, I just need to marry him.

 

Check out La Famiglia today!

 

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Blurb:

Forrester Giordano comes from a huge, nosy Italian family, and with their homophobic jokes and slurs, he’s decided to stay in the closet. He finds respite in his bookstore in the quaint village of Gilead—where he has a huge crush on one of his customers, Kyle Benson.

Kyle is determined to live his dreams, and though life isn’t easy being deaf, one by one he’s making them come true. He’s scored a great job practicing law, bought a cute bungalow where he can finally have a big flower garden, and he has a dog he loves, Jasper. Now he just needs one thing to complete his happiness: a family of his own to make up for the one he never had.

Forrester and Kyle’s relationship starts off hot and heavy, and neither man can deny the depth of their connection. When Forrester’s little brother gets mixed up with their heroin-dealing cousin and his mother falls ill, Forrester has a decision to make—maybe the hardest of his life. For the first time, he’s found a man worth coming out for.

Unfortunately nothing ever goes according to plan with la famiglia.

 

Author Bio:

Deanna Wadsworth might be a bestselling erotica author, but she leads a pretty vanilla life in Ohio with her wonderful husband and a couple adorable cocker spaniels. She has been spinning tales and penning stories since childhood, and her first erotic novella was published in 2010. She has served multiple board positions for different RWA chapters, including President of the Rainbow Romance Writers in 2017. When she isn’t writing books or brainstorming with friends, you can find her making people gorgeous in a beauty salon. An avid reader, she also loves gardening, cooking, music, and dancing. Often she can be seen hanging out on the sandbar in the muddy Maumee River or chilling with her hubby and a cocktail in their basement bar. In between all that fun, Deanna cherishes the quiet times when she can let her wildly active imagination have the full run of her mind. Her fascination with people and the interworkings of their relationships have always inspired her to write romance with spice and love without boundaries.

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You can also find her young adult alter ego, K.D. Worth FacebookTwitter

Buy Deanna’s books at Dreamspinner Press, Decadent Publishing or at any reputable eBook seller like Amazon

Donovan and Ethan by Anne Barwell + Giveaway

November 14, 2017

Donovan & ethan

 

Thanks for hosting me today as part of my blog tour for One Word, the 3rd book in my Hidden Places series from Dreamspinner Press.  I have a Rafflecopter running as part of the tour so be sure to enter.

Although One Word is the third book in my Hidden Places series, it takes place during the last six weeks of the events in book one—Cat’s Quill.  One of the fun parts about that was writing a new relationship for a couple who were already together in a story that had been published a few years earlier.  Instead of describing what that was like as a writer, I figured it might be more interesting to invite Ethan and Donovan to talk about the experience from their perspective.

Silence.

The author clears her throat.  “Umm, guys, that means you.”

There is a muffled noise of clothing being rearranged, and a discreet cough, and then a room lined with books comes into view.  In one corner sits a rocking chair. The cat on it opens a lazy eye, glances at the two men, and then starts washing her paw.

“Bloody hell,” mutters a male voice with a distinct British accent. “What is it with the cats in this place?”

The camera pans the room before settling on two men sitting next to each other on a nearby sofa.  “Technical difficulties,” one of them says in an American accent. “Right, Ethan?”

Ethan rolls his eyes, and slips his hand into Donovan’s. “Yeah, that.”

“So…. ?“ the author prompts. She picks up the cat, settles her on her lap and then takes a sip of kawakawa tea.  “Floor is all yours. Pretend I’m not here.”

“I wish.”  Ethan sounds as though he would have said more, but Donovan squeezes his hand and whispers something into his ear.  Ethan clears his throat. “It’s wasn’t easy,” he finally admits.  “We’ve been together two years now, and although it brought up memories of when we first met, we’ve come a long way since then.”

“And been through a lot together,” Donovan smiles softly.  “I’ll always remember that first time I saw Ethan at the train station.  I thought he was hot then felt guilty as I didn’t think I should be hitting on someone who was worried about a missing friend.”

“I’ve always been rubbish at making friends, and I was still trying to put a… relationship behind me,” Ethan adds. “We took so many steps forward and then back during those few weeks. I was such an idiot.”

“If you were an idiot, then so was I.” Donovan bits his lip. “When I think about how close we came to—”

“Spoilers,” mutters the author, looking up from her tea.

“Says the person who wrote a story with a prologue set six months after the epilogue of the last book.” Ethan doesn’t sound impressed. “So yeah, if you want the truth, it was bloody difficult.  You put Donovan through all that crap again, and made him relive those nightmares. And not only that, you put me in a position when I couldn’t help him like I usually do. So don’t—”

“Ethan…” Donovan leans over and kisses Ethan gently on the cheek. “Sorry, we know how difficult it is to write something like this, and we appreciate the fact that you took the time to write our story. Don’t we, Ethan?”

“Yes.” Ethan pauses for a moment. “I must admit, I enjoyed reliving our first kiss. I’m looking forward to the rest of our future together too.” He glances at the author suspiciously.

She studies her tea. “A future together?  Hey, I’m a romance writer. Of course you’ll get a future together.”

Donovan glances at Ethan. “She’ll make us work for it though. But, whatever happens, we’ll get through it together. Right, Teach?”

“Right.”  Ethan looks over at the author, but she’s gone.  “I love you,” he murmurs to Donovan, pulling him close for a kiss.

“Love you too.”  Their lips meet and the screen fades to black.

 

Check out One Word today!

 

OneWord_postcard_front_DSP

 

Blurb:

A Hidden Places Story

Ethan Leavitt arrives in the idyllic village of Oakwood to search for a missing friend. Having always prided himself on his ability to find rational explanations, Ethan’s trust in concrete evidence and logic is tested by the mystery of Oakwood and Tomas’s disappearance.

Donovan Campbell’s happy, sometimes flippant, exterior hides a past he’d rather forget. As he struggles with his memories and to hold on to the inn he owns with his best friend, the last thing Donovan needs is for some guy he’s only just met to start getting under his skin. When a bank robbery escalates into a dangerous situation, Donovan must embrace a part of himself he can no longer ignore in order to save a future that might never have the chance to exist.

Ethan learns that often the person you’re looking for is not the one you find. But have he and Donovan both realized that too late…?

 

 

Excerpt:

“I’m so sorry, Jane,” Ethan said, “and I apologize for my insensitivity earlier. It was completely out of line.”

She managed a shaky smile. “Thank you for being understanding. Good afternoon, gentlemen. I guess it’s a good thing that I have the day off, isn’t it?”

“I’m sorry for kicking you,” Donovan said after she’d left.

“I can be an insensitive jerk at times. Lord knows, I’ve been told that often enough.”

“Not always. You’ve got a kind side to you too.”

Ethan’s concern for Jane had been real enough, as was his mortification that he’d been rude once he’d seen that she was upset.

“You say that like it’s a good thing.” Ethan retrieved his napkin from the side of his plate and wiped his mouth. “Sometimes it’s not, you know. People take advantage. Not that I’m saying she is, but….” He sighed. “Just forget it, okay.”

“Okay.” Donovan wondered who had hurt Ethan and recently. He’d seen enough to connect the dots. “Lots of assholes in this world, unfortunately.”

“And some decent people too. Oakwood’s been good for reminding me of that.”

“Are you sure you’re okay to come to London with me tomorrow?” Donovan couldn’t help but think that something in their conversation had triggered Ethan’s reaction. He’d said Mitchell and Vincent were good friends. Perhaps it was this acquaintance he’d mentioned? The one who had introduced him to them.

“I’m looking forward to it.” Ethan glanced at Donovan’s empty plate. “Have you had enough lunch?”

“Yes, thanks. I was hungrier than I realized.” Donovan finished the last of his beer.

“I went to see the owner of the Chronicle the other day, but he was too busy to talk and suggested we meet briefly today instead. I’m hoping, as he’s been working at the newspaper a while, he can tell me some old stories about Oakwood that didn’t end up in print. You’re welcome to come if you’d like.”

“Thanks for the offer, but I need to do some work at the inn this afternoon. We had to replace some weatherboards a few months ago, and I need to get them painted before winter.” Donovan wished he could have said yes, but Heidi was stressing about it. If he didn’t get onto it soon, she’d be out there doing it herself, and she did enough already. Part of their agreement in taking on the inn was that they split the workload between them, and Donovan made sure he pulled his weight. “You’re okay to find your own way back?”

“Yes, I’ll be fine. Thanks for asking.” Ethan pushed back his chair and walked over to the counter to pay for their meal. “I’ll see you later, at the inn.”

“Okay. Sounds good.” Donovan didn’t follow him immediately but instead stayed at the table watching Ethan at the counter. His hair curled up slightly at the back, his jacket falling to mid-ass, not quite covering it. He had a very nice ass.

Bet he kisses well too.

Oh fuck. Donovan closed his eyes for a moment. Where the hell had that thought come from? He was falling for the guy, wasn’t he—falling for a guy who wasn’t interested and would be walking out of his life in a couple of days.

Donovan heard footsteps walking away. He opened his eyes just in time to see Ethan disappear out the door. It was time to leave and bury himself in the work he needed to get done. He stood and headed for the door, giving Eoin and his friends a wave as he passed their table.

He hadn’t missed the money the three men had given Craig or the grins they all wore.

Donovan groaned. Great, that was all he needed. The pub door slammed as he stalked through it. Yep, they were running another betting pool all right.

It wasn’t his fault they were wasting their time. They’d find that out soon enough for themselves.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

You can find the list of sites taking part in the blog tour here:

https://annebarwell.wordpress.com/blog-hops/

November 3 – Open Skye Book Reviews
November 6 – Book Reviews and More by Kathy
November 6 – Top to Bottom Reviews
November 6 – Two Men Are Better Than One
November 6 – Gay Book Promotions
November 7 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words
November 8 – Happily Ever After Chapter
November 9 – Love Bytes Reviews
November 10 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews
November 10 – Nic Starr
November 13 – The Novel Approach Reviews
November 14 – Dreamspinner Press Blog
November 15 – Aisling Mancy

 

Bio:

Anne Barwell lives in Wellington, New Zealand.  She shares her home with two cats who are convinced that the house is run to suit them; this is an ongoing “discussion,” and to date it appears as though the cats may be winning.

In 2008 she completed her conjoint BA in English Literature and Music/Bachelor of Teaching. She has worked as a music teacher, a primary school teacher, and now works in a library. She is a member of the Upper Hutt Science Fiction Club and plays violin for Hutt Valley Orchestra.

She is an avid reader across a wide range of genres and a watcher of far too many TV series and movies, although it can be argued that there is no such thing as “too many.” These, of course, are best enjoyed with a decent cup of tea and further the continuing argument that the concept of “spare time” is really just a myth. She also hosts other authors, reviews for the GLBTQ Historical Site “Our Story” and Top2Bottom Reviews, and writes monthly blog posts for Authors Speak and Love Bytes.

Anne’s books have received honorable mentions four times and reached the finals three times in the Rainbow Awards.  She has also been nominated twice in the Goodreads M/M Romance Reader’s Choice Awards—once for Best Fantasy and once for Best Historical.

Website & Blog: http://annebarwell.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/anne.barwell.1
Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sylvrebarwellhoffmann/
Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/115084832208481414034/posts
Instagram: https://instagram.com/anne.barwell
Twitter: https://twitter.com/annebarwell
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4862410.Anne_Barwell
Dreamspinner Press Author Page: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/authors/anne-barwell-65
DSP Publications Author Page: https://www.dsppublications.com/authors/anne-barwell-49
Queeromance Ink Author Page: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/anne-barwell/
New Zealand Rainbow Romance Writers: https://www.facebook.com/groups/491382394538058/

 

Overcoming Obstacles w/ Heidi Champa + Excerpt

February 3, 2017

Overcoming Obstacles with Heidi Champa

 

I started writing this book back in 2014. In the first draft, my main character, Wes, was a very different guy, angrier and a lot less likeable. And, ‘Clean Slate’ was a very different story, one I wasn’t sure anyone would want to read. Around that same time, I was going through some medical issues that were getting steadily worse. I had just started a major revision of my novel when I got extremely ill with what at the time was an undiagnosed autoimmune disease, which put a stop to my writing.

During that time, I thought ‘Clean Slate’ would never see the light of day. I’d all but given up finishing the book when I finally got a diagnosis that gave my disease a name. But my road to recovery was just beginning.

When I finally started to feel like myself again, many months later, one of the first things I did was open up my laptop and started to slowly work on my novel. What I’d been through gave me a whole new perspective on Wes, my main character, who in the course of the novel goes through some big changes trying to deal with the trauma of his past. I saw him so much clearer and ‘Clean Slate’ became the book I wanted it to be. This is the book I’m most proud of because of all I had to overcome to finish it. I hope you enjoy reading the book as much as I enjoyed writing it.

I’m always interested in other people’s stories of triumph over adversity, so tell me, what is the thing in your life you’re most proud to have tackled? It can be big or small, funny or sad. It all shapes who we are.

 

Excerpt:

“This may sound weird, Wes,” Sam slurred.

“Okay…,” I said, waiting for what was about to come.

“Do you think we could cuddle?”

“You wanna cuddle?”

He smiled and looked at the floor.

“Yeah. I’ve never really done it. You know, cuddle on the couch while watching a movie. So what do you say?” Sam asked, his body swaying a bit.

He looked so sweet, I couldn’t think of a reason not to.

“Yeah, sure.”

“I knew I could count on you, Wes.”

Sam downed the rest of glass of wine before we got comfortable. I settled onto the couch, laying on my side with Sam in front of me, his back pressed tightly to my chest. My eyes were focused on the television, but all I could think about was how nice it felt to be close to him. He pulled my arm over him and put my hand to his chest. I could feel his heart racing, despite his relaxed demeanor. He smelled really good, obviously putting on cologne before his date.

The movie continued, but I wasn’t watching. Every time I got into the plot or let my mind cling to part of the story, Sam would shift in my arms, his ass pushing back against my crotch. I ignored it, as much as I could, but it soon became clear that Sam wanted to do a lot more than cuddle. I didn’t want to be the one to make the first move. Sam had drunk far too much wine to be thinking clearly. Taking advantage wasn’t on my agenda that evening. I was feeling much more sober, and I knew it was time to make my escape.

“Sam, I should really go. It’s late.”

He held my arm tight and shook his head.

“Movie’s not over yet.”

“I’m not really watching.”

Sam turned himself around, until we were face-to-face, his leg slipping between mine.

“Me neither,” he whispered.

His lips brushed against mine, their surface sweet from all the wine he’d drank. Sam soon had me forgetting my best-laid plans, our tongues twining and dancing.

“I mean it. I should go,” I insisted between kisses.

Sam ran his fingertips down my spine, his lips teasing my neck.

“You should stay. I want you to stay.”

I opened my mouth to object, but it died when Sam put his hand on my ass.

“You can’t really want to leave, Wes. Not when you can stay right where you are. Right here with me.”

His eyes met mine, more serious than I’d ever seen them.

“I can’t. We don’t do that.”

“We could. You could. You should.” His words ran together, his altered state showing clearly.

I had to figure a way out without hurting his feelings.

“Sam, you’re drunk. It’s late. Let’s do this some other night.”

He clung tighter to me, trapping me against him and the back of the couch.

“I’m not drunk.”

“Yeah, you are. It’s cute, actually.”

He shook his head, closing his eyes for a few seconds.

“So what if I am? Why does it matter?”

“Trust me, Sam. You think you want me to stay right now, but come morning, you’ll see things differently.”

Sam eased back a fraction, the furrow between his brows deepening.

“If you don’t want to stay, just say so,” he said, a flash of anger in his voice.

I sighed, letting my forehead rest against his for a moment.

“I was only saying it would be better if I go. And you would think so too, if you were your usual, sensible self.”

He tried to move away from me, but as he attempted to get onto his back, he slipped and fell onto the floor. I laughed, but as he rose up to his knees, he looked pissed. Very pissed.

“Maybe I’m tired of being my sensible self. Maybe for tonight, I wanted to be more like, more like….” He trailed off, his butt hitting the carpet.

“Me?” I asked, sitting up on the couch.

He looked at me, his eyes glassy even in the flickering light of the television.

“Would it be so terrible?”

I raised my eyebrows, not sure how to respond.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, would it really be that awful to stay? I’m not even talking about sex. Just to fall asleep next to me? To wake up with me in your arms, would that really be so bad?” he asked, his voice making my heart clench.

Every word out of Sam’s mouth was shocking me. My first instinct was to chalk it up to the alcohol, but there was something else going on. There was something so sincere about what he was saying. I swallowed, hoping what I was feeling wouldn’t show in my voice.

“No. It wouldn’t be terrible at all. I just wanted you to be sure it was what you really wanted,” I reasoned, hoping he bought it.

“I’m sure.”

I held out my hand, which he had a bit of trouble taking.

“Then get back up here. We have a movie to finish,” I said.

He slipped onto the couch next to me, our faces inches apart.

“I don’t care about the movie,” he said before kissing me.

“Good. Me neither.”

 

Check out Clean Slate today!

 

Clean Slate by Heidi Champa

Blurb:

Wes Green keeps everyone at arm’s length, either by pushing buttons or simply pushing them away. When that doesn’t work, Wes runs, as far and as fast as he can. This time, bolting from his boyfriend also costs him his professional organizing job. His last resort is to retreat to his brother’s basement and try to pick up the pieces. The only bright spot in his new life is his niece, Kelsey.

One day, while in Kelsey’s school drop-off line, he meets Sam Montgomery, the father of Maya, Kelsey’s best friend. When Wes finds out Sam is gay and interested in some no-strings-attached fun, Wes thinks he’s hit the jackpot. With boundaries firmly in place, keeping Sam at a distance should be easy.

What starts out simple quickly gets complicated when fun turns to feelings between Wes and Sam. But the baggage both men carry threatens to stop things before they start. Can Wes stay put long enough to find real love, or will old habits be too hard to break?

 

Author Bio:

Heidi Champa is a typical last-born child. Snarky, attention-seeking and rebellious, she started to create dirty stories to keep herself out of real trouble. Having tried her hand at a million terrible jobs, she bought herself a laptop and finally started typing up those handwritten tales. After much deliberation, she started to let other people read her work.

In addition to her flare with the written word, she knows every sentence of the movie Clue by heart and bakes a mean Funny Cake. When she is not writing, she can be found reading, hiking or filling her iPod with more music. Her life has taken her all over the world, but a piece of her heart will always be in Australia. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband.

https://www.facebook.com/HeidiChampaAuthor/
https://twitter.com/heidichampa

 

That Magic Moment w/ Allison Cassatta + Giveaway

January 26, 2017

 

That Magic Moment with Allison Cassatta

 

As a writer, I normally go into a story knowing exactly how a relationship will develop. I have a roadmap in my head, and most of the time, the characters follow the path they’re supposed to follow. Ironically, Silas and Ben’s magic moment didn’t happen that way. It came in the form of a suggestion from the editors, actually. They wanted to see more scenes between Ben and Silas. They wanted to see the two on page more often, more than casually bumping into each other around Midtown. Then this scene happened, and I couldn’t thank my editors enough. From their suggestion came one of the cutest scenes between the two, and god knew they needed some cute.

As a reader, what is your favorite aha moment for the characters? Do you like the sweet, funny scenes when two men who keep running into each other but don’t slow down enough to experience the spark? Do you prefer love at first sight? Or fireworks and explosive passion right out the gate? What makes the relationship feel more real to you?

 

EXCERPT:

The silliest of all silly grins stretched across Silas’s face. It was the booze. Had to be. Silas didn’t do goofy or funny. However, something about Ben drew the giant kid right out of Silas. Almost like being in high school again and working through his first big crush. Silas hadn’t known then if the boy he pined over played for his team, but he knew Ben did. Oh, happy day!

Running into Ben made leaving the house on one of the worst nights of the year worth every minute of this unexpected adventure. Silas had been sitting at home, wishing—as ironic as it was—that he had someone to spend the evening with. He would’ve been happy sitting on the couch, watching the Times Square ball drop with a close friend and a few cocktails. He would’ve been fine with the kind of kissing that led to hot sex at the stroke of midnight. Neither of which was going to happen.

He hadn’t heard from Scott since early December, and though Silas didn’t exactly mourn the death of their relationship, he did—from time to time—miss having someone around to chat with when he got bored, someone to snuggle with when he got lonely. Neither was an issue prior to Scott. Now both were reasons to get up and do something, anything, that didn’t involve being alone.

“I truly am glad I left the house tonight.” Silas spoke softly, more to himself than anyone else. Oh, but Ben heard him. Silas could tell by the pitiful look that devastatingly beautiful cop gave him. Not that what he said deserved any kind of pity. Maybe it’d been the tone of his voice or something in his eyes, or the fact he hadn’t looked at Ben once since he returned to the malaise of his own mind.

“Ten. Nine. Eight….”

The countdown to the New Year pulled Silas out of his ruminating. He turned eyes on Ben, who now watched the DJ count into the mic while half-naked women danced around him.

“Three. Two. One. Happy New Year!”

“Auld Lang Syne” played over the loudspeakers. People yelled the lyrics—mostly out of key. “Should auld acquaintance be forgot….” Strangers swayed together as old friends. Some random woman hooked her arm around Silas’s, forcing him to move his body too. He didn’t want to. He wanted to watch Ben’s lips as he tried to hide his mumbling the lyrics along with everyone else’s boisterous crooning. He wanted to watch the glisten in Ben’s eyes as the moon poured soft light over the crowd. He even loved the way pieces of confetti stuck in Ben’s short brown hair. God, he was absolutely mesmerized

When Ben caught him staring, Silas immediately turned his gaze away, even though he wanted nothing more than to give Ben a quick New Year’s smooch. He didn’t dare. It wasn’t right. Ben didn’t want that. So instead of lifting up on his toes and reaching for Ben’s cheek, he gave a tight smile, and said, “You stay safe on these wild Memphis streets, Benjamin.”

Silas turned to walk away.

“Wait, Silas.” Ben reached out and grabbed Silas’s upper arm before he could escape. The strength and heat of Ben’s grip sent a shiver down Silas’s spine. “You’re not walking, are you?”

Aww, he’s concerned. “I live right around the corner.” Silas thumbed over his shoulder. “Not literally, but close enough.”

“And there are a lot of drunk people out tonight. You have to cross Union to get home.”

“I learned to look both ways before I learned to spell my name.”

Silas’s cheeky comeback won him another warm smile from Ben. He was so adorable, in that cute boy-next-door kind of way.

“Please let me at least get you an Uber.”

“A what?” Silas frowned.

“Uber. It’s like a taxi.”

“Benjamin, seriously, there’s no need. I appreciate your worry, but—”

“I’m not taking no for an answer,” Ben said with finality, reaching into his pocket for what Silas assumed to be a cell phone. The device fit right in the palm of Ben’s large hand.

Mmm. Large hands. “Don’t. Please.” Silas wrapped his fingers over Ben’s. “I promise I can get home just fine.”

“You’re drunk. Anything could happen.”

“I’m only”—Silas held up his thumb and forefinger, not even a full inch apart—“this drunk now. Wine wears off fast.” Or something.

“Mm-hmm.” Ben pinched his lips and shook his head. “I could give you my number. You could text—”

Silas’s laughter cut off Ben’s offer.

“What’s so funny?”

“I don’t need to have your number. Your significant other will hate me.”

“I don’t think he….” Ben looked left, then right, then back to Silas. “It’ll be okay.”

“How about you give me your number when you’re not as interested in my safety as you are in me?”

Ben nodded. The movement was so slight, so curt and tense, that had Silas not been paying attention, he would’ve missed it.

With a sigh, Silas left the cop formerly known as Officer Hot Body standing on the edge of the road just beneath the balcony at Lafayette’s. The farther Silas walked away, the more invisible Ben became, until he was lost to a sea of drunken bodies.

Silas made a right onto Cooper, heading south toward Peabody, all the while wishing he’d stayed back with Ben until all the booze wore off. He still had enough of a buzz that his lips tingled and walking felt… well, weird. He stopped at the corner of Union and Cooper, watching the blur of cars speeding by. This was the spot where he needed to pay attention, be careful. The last thing that needed to happen was him turning into roadkill for the beautiful Officer Logan and company to scrape off the road. That would be a hell of a way to end a pretty decent night.

 

Check out Dearly Stalked today!

 

Dearly Stalked by Allison Cassatta

DSP
AMAZON
BARNES & NOBLE

 BLURB:

Writing crime novels catapulted Memphis native Silas Cooper to fame and fortune, but when his words backfire and he becomes trapped in what could be one of his books, he needs a hero of his own.

Silas’s publicist insists he hire a personal assistant, and Silas chooses Scott Kramer. But before Scott starts, he already has a round of steamy phone sex to hold over Silas’s head, and his interest in his boss isn’t decreasing.

Benjamin Logan joined the Army to see the world, and while deployed he read every one of Silas’s books. With his military career over, Ben is back in Memphis working for the police department—and attempting a deeply closeted relationship with fellow cop Morgan Brown.

Over coffee, Silas and Ben become friends who support each other as relationships fall apart, and the attraction between them slowly emerges. When a dangerous stalker threatens Silas, it’s up to Ben to stop him.

If Ben fails, Silas might not live to tell this story… and Ben might not be able to live with himself.

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

CHECK OUT ALLISON CASSATTA:

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Forever a Foodie w/ Jon Keys + Exclusive Excerpt

January 24, 2017

Forever a Foodie with Jon Keys

 

Hello! Thanks so much for having me visit on the release of “Camouflage”. I’m so thrilled with all the help from Dreamspinner Press. As always, the editors were so great and I love the book.

I thought I’d talk about an unusual character with several cameos in Camouflage. Who is this rascal? Food. I’ll admit it, I’m a foodie. More than once my birthday and Christmas gifts have circled around something food related. A new cookbook, the latest kitchen gadget, or trying a new place to eat, any of them are great gifts for me. I’ve always heard our strongest memories are tied to smells. I can believe without any trouble. I love trying new things, but comfort foods are such an important part of my life. Everyone has their way of dealing with problems. A great comfort meal is my way of dealing with the crap life deals out. Yes, sometimes the memories are better than the fact, but I’m always up for a good run at it.

Why the obsession with food? I have no idea, it just is. But it also means my characters enjoy food as much as I do. Some like Peter from “Home Grown” are hard-core foodies always looking for the latest food obsession. Others, like Luke in “Camouflage”, love the comfort food they grew up with. He enjoys the food his grandmother made (I’m sure chicken-fried steak was a favorite!), to local specialties, yes, including fried pickles. Luke is sharing his life with Nash by sharing the foods that gives Luke that warm feeling of place.

I think shared experiences with food are an important part of any relationship. The ritual and sharing of food are important in my stories, whether it’s Luke and Nash arguing about catsup or mustard on corndogs from the fair, to Anan roasting fresh taken daggerhorn in my high fantasy series, food plays an important role.

Check out Camouflage today!

 

Camouflage by Jon Keys

 

Blurb:

Nash Gallo and Luke Meyers seem like complete opposites on the surface. Nash is a city boy from Atlanta, while Luke is a rancher from rural Oklahoma. Nash is covered in tattoos and piercings, while Luke is self-conscious about his muscular, hairy body. Luke doesn’t have much sexual experience with other men, while Nash has plenty to go around.

But both men are lonely, and neither of them has ever been in love.

They also both have secrets. For Luke, it’s his shame over an affair with a local closeted and married man, something Nash accepts. Will Luke be as tolerant of what Nash is hiding—his job as a prostitute back in Georgia?

A week-long vacation on Luke’s ranch and the idyllic landscapes surrounding it gives both men the chance to relax and explore the attraction growing between them. But can the budding relationship survive secrets and small-town prejudices? As they search for the place where their lives might intersect, Nash and Luke risk far worse than broken hearts.

 

Author Bio:

Jon Keys’ earliest memories revolve around books; with the first ones he can recall reading himself being “The Warlord of Mars” and anything with Tarzan. (The local library wasn’t particularly up to date.) But as puberty set in he started sneaking his mother’s romance magazines and added the world of romance and erotica to his mix of science fiction, fantasy, Native American, westerns and comic books.

A voracious reader for almost half a century, Jon has only recently begun creating his own flights of fiction for the entertainment of others. Born in the Southwest and now living in the Midwest, Jon has worked as a ranch hand, teacher, computer tech, roughneck, designer, retail clerk, welder, artist, and, yes, pool boy; with interests ranging from kayaking and hunting to painting and cooking, he draws from a wide range of life experiences to create written works that draw the reader in and wrap them in a good story.

Email: Jon.Keys@ymail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jon.keys.773
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Jon4Keys
Website: http://jonkeys.com

 

Exclusive Excerpt

Nash’s stomach knotted as he stared at Luke while waiting to see what he was going to do. The teasing banter they’d been exchanging made him hope they were becoming more comfortable with each other, but now Luke had been stalling on the bank of the lake for at least fifteen minutes. One thing after another kept him from getting into the water. Nash paddled closer, wondering what was going on.

“Luke, come on. It feels great.”

“Yeah, okay. Give me a sec.” He fiddled with the hem of his T-shirt, pulling it up and letting it drop, unconsciously giving a better tease show than some of the strippers in Atlanta. The glimpse of Luke’s flat stomach was having its effect. Nash moved closer until he sat on a submerged rock a few feet from Luke.

“What’s up? I thought everything was okay.”

Luke pressed his hands down his torso and shrugged, his eyes never meeting Nash’s. “Yeah. It’s all good. But, yeah….”

“What? It can’t be that big of a deal.”

“I’m kinda hairy,” Luke blurted out.

“So?”

“Yeah, well. Some people don’t like hairy guys. I tried keeping it shaved but it itches like crazy.” His gaze dropped. “Besides, who would see it?”

Nash stood and made his way up the rocky shoreline to Luke, grabbed his shirt, and pulled it over his head with no further ceremony. He tossed the shirt onto the grass and stood admiring Luke’s chest.

“Your fur is fucking hot. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Now stop being a dipshit.” With a light slap on Luke’s stomach, Nash walked back into the lake, submerging to his neck. The sight of Luke without a shirt sent pulses of attraction through Nash. He hoped the cool water would help bring his cock down from the raging erection it was. But instead he only got harder as he watched Luke climb into the water.

So far as Nash was concerned, Luke’s chest was about as perfect as possible. The dusting of hair across his pecs darkened to a line down his stomach, which disappeared into the cutoff jeans he wore. His broad shoulders tapered to a waist that had a thick Adonis belt coming from both sides. Whoever had Luke worried that he didn’t look hot was a twisted son of a bitch.

Luke started into the water, following Nash. When he reached knee deep, he stepped off a rock shelf and instantly submerged to midchest. Nash chuckled at his gasp.

“Man! It’s kinda cold.”

“Nah, you’re being a pussy. Or are you worried about shrinkage?”

Luke snorted and splashed Nash. “Not me. Shrinkage isn’t a problem.”

Nash shot a rooster tail of water at Luke and drenched him.

“You fucker! I’m gonna get your ass.” Luke launched himself at Nash while the taller man took off swimming. But Luke was a strong swimmer and caught him in a few strokes. He grabbed Nash’s shoulders and shoved him under.

Nash came up sputtering and flipped his head to get the wet hair off his face. “Oh, you want to play that way.”

He grabbed as Luke yelped and dodged. They dove and wrestled until they both gasped for air. They’d moved farther into the lake until the water was over Luke’s head. To keep from being pushed under again, he wrapped his legs around Nash. But now with his crotch pressed against Nash’s stomach Luke’s erection was obvious. Their gazes met. Luke blushed and released the leg lock. “Sorry, didn’t—”

Nash wrapped his arms around Luke and pulled him tight. The kiss he planted went on for several minutes and left them both winded.

“Stop apologizing. You’re not doing anything I’m not enjoying,” Nash said.

Muscular legs wrapped around Nash’s midsection and in an instant they were tight against each other. Luke slipped his work-toughened fingers through Nash’s wet hair and pulled them into a snug embrace. Their lips met again. A slow kiss this time, but the fire it ignited in Nash was like nothing he’d felt before. As the kiss faded away, Luke nibbled at his ear and soon had Nash moaning in response.

Luke released his leg lock, but it seemed to be a reluctant gesture. “I think we better stop while we can.”

Journaling Opens the Heart and Mind w/ CJane Elliott + Giveaway

November 29, 2016

Journaling Opens the Heart and Mind with CJane Elliott

Hello, all! I’m CJane Elliott and it’s my privilege to be on the Dreamspinner Blog today to talk about my new release, All the Way to Shore. One of the elements in the story I most enjoyed writing is the journal that Marco keeps.

I’ve kept a journal for most of my life. I still have my first diary, started in the 4th grade, in which I talk mostly about food, a preoccupation that continues to this day! Journaling has always been a form of therapy for me—a way to pour out whatever’s bothering me, muse about the previous day’s events, and center myself for the day ahead. It clears my mind and gets me in touch with my heart. I often work out story ideas too! If you’ve never tried journaling, I recommend giving it a try.

In All the Way to Shore, Marco’s journal entries are included throughout the story and show a side of Marco that most of the world never sees, because on the surface he’s a hard-charging CEO. No one would suspect he loves his cat and his Mama and his little sister, and actually has a tender heart. I’ve never written journal entries into a story before, but I think it worked really well. It was a way to get a first-person point of view of Marco without having to write the whole story that way. We’re able to see right into Marco’s mind as he talks to himself about everything that’s happening. I include an example below. By this time in the story, Marco has met “Jonah” (the name Jonathan is going by) on the cruise and things are already going way beyond expectations:

 

EXCERPT

MARCO’S JOURNAL

A fling, I said. A hot shipboard affair. Blowing off some steam was my plan. Not falling for some sweetheart of a guy. But why not? What am I protecting myself from? The days of strategic relationships are over. I torpedoed that game when I broke it off with Ashley. But having a serious relationship—like something real—wasn’t on the table. Was it?

All I can say is I’ve never talked to anyone but Sophia as much or as freely as I talked to Jonah today. He feels so comfortable—like a comfy pair of slippers or my ratty red sweater I wear at home. Home. That’s the word. He feels like home.

But how can that be? I don’t know the guy. I’ve talked to him for a sum total of six hours. I think—no, I know—he was disappointed when I didn’t pursue something physical tonight. But damn. It’s already gone beyond a quick fuck. I don’t need that kind of action, no matter what I was thinking before I got on the ship. I’ve got Hank, the masseur with the happy endings, for that. And I don’t want to hurt the guy. Jonah. I don’t want to hurt Jonah. There’s something kind of naïve, almost innocent, about him, despite how hot he is. He doesn’t seem very experienced, in sex or relationships. I have to step carefully or this could end up being an unholy mess.

Enough whining, Pellegrini. What’s the game plan? 1. Spend more time with Jonah and get to know him better. 2. ???

Hmm. I’m rarely at such a loss. But maybe that’s what this trip is really about—venturing into unknown territory in more ways than one. Tomorrow we reach the first port of call. I want to take Jonah onto the island and wander the streets. Maybe find a little church. Spending time with him has me wanting to reconnect to my spirituality.

Gratitude: Being in the middle of the ocean. Jonah’s blue eyes. Sophia the magical sister having so much fun. Rest. Renewal. A sweet man to spend time with. It’s enough.

**********

Check out All the Way to Shore today!

All the Way to Shore by CJane Elliott

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BLURB

Jonathan Vallen has never felt good enough. A gentle musician who loves to garden, he’s woefully unsuited to running Vallen Industries, the family business. When his father hires a hotshot executive, Marco Pellegrini, to save the company, Jonathan moves away and leaves his humiliation behind. A year later and forty pounds lighter, Jonathan runs into Marco on an LGBT cruise. Marco doesn’t recognize him, the sparks fly, and Jonathan pretends to be someone else for the week—Jonah Rutledge—someone good enough to be loved.

Marco Pellegrini has always been driven. He rose from poverty to the pinnacle of business success, and he’ll do anything to protect his reputation—including hiding his bisexuality. Having saved Vallen Industries, he’s weary of the rat race and ready for a more meaningful life. When Marco meets his soul mate for that new life—Jonah Rutledge—on an LGBT cruise, he prepares to stop hiding and start living.

Back on land, the romance crashes when Marco discovers his perfect man is not only a lie but the son of his boss, Frederick Vallen. Jonathan resolves to win Marco back, but Frederick takes vengeful action. Jonathan and Marco must battle their own fears as well as Frederick’s challenge to get to the future that awaits them on the horizon.

 

GIVEAWAY

For a chance to win an ebook of your choice from my backlist, please comment. Here’s a question or two for you: Have you ever kept a journal? If so, did it help you? If not, do you think you might try?

Thanks, everyone! I look forward to hearing from you and I hope you all enjoy reading All the Way to Shore as much as I enjoyed writing it.

 

ABOUT CJANE

After years of hearing characters chatting away in her head, CJane Elliott finally decided to put them on paper and hasn’t looked back since. A psychotherapist by training, CJane enjoys writing sexy, passionate stories that also explore the human psyche. CJane has traveled all over North America for work and her characters are travelers, too, traveling down into their own depths to find what they need to get to the happy ending.
CJane is an ardent supporter of LGBTQ equality and is particularly fond of coming out stories.
In her spare time, CJane can be found dancing, listening to music, or watching old movies. Her husband and son support her writing habit by staying out of the way when they see her hunched over, staring intensely at her laptop.

E-mail: cjaneelliott@gmail.com
Website: www.cjaneelliott.com
Twitter: @CJaneElliott
Facebook: www.facebook.com/cjane.elliott

More Than Friends? with J.R. Loveless – Giveaway + Excerpt

November 9, 2016

More Than Friends with J.R. Loveless

Release day is always exciting! Today is November 9th and the release of my newest novella You Belong With Me. There are some of you who may know me from my first novel from Dreamspinner Press, Touch Me Gently, but for those who don’t, I’m J.R. Loveless, and I have been writing gay romance for a little over ten years now. Dreamspinner gave me a chance in 2010 and I have been publishing with them ever since. My long term dream is to be able to spend my days writing, but until then, I work in an office as a manager of a System Support department while dreaming up countless stories I hope to bring to you all someday.

Many of us have experienced, or are experiencing right now, the most painful of all type of loves – unrequited. There is nothing more heartbreaking than watching from afar as the person we want to be with showers their affection and attention on someone else. Except when they’re your best friend and they don’t even realize you’re in love with them. Because then it’s an up close and personal view that you wish you never had to witness.

In You Belong With Me, Scott is in love with his best friend Craig and has been for some time. He’s been there to experience the heartache of Craig falling for someone for the first time and then having to listen as Craig tells him everything about the relationship, including the night Craig lost his virginity. The story is told from the POVs of Scott, Craig, and Scott’s twin sister Karen, giving you the perspective of an outsider who cares very deeply for Scott and would love nothing more than to knock some sense into Craig. Maybe some will be able to relate with Scott and some may even be able to relate with Craig, but hopefully by the end of the story you’ll be cheering for them both. Just don’t hate on either too much because without communication misunderstandings happen and yes, Craig does do something which some may find unforgivable, but you’ll have to read the story to find out!

Keep reading for an excerpt to whet your taste buds and give you a glimpse of what is to come in You Belong With Me.

Want to win a free e-book copy of You Belong With Me or have your choice of one of my backlog if you’ve already pre-ordered or purchased YBWM? Then post a comment answering this question: What is the one thing you’ve wanted more than anything in the world and did you get it? A random winner will be chosen from the commentators! Please include your email address so I know how to contact you. :)

Check out You Belong With Me today!

You Belong With Me by J.R. Loveless

Buy Links:

Dreamspinner Press
All Romance eBooks

 

Blurb:

Scott has been in love with his best friend Craig for years, but watching Craig with his manipulative boyfriend has worn Scott down, and he knows he needs a break from the pain and maybe a change of scenery and perspective. His twin sister, Karen, convinces him to spend a summer in Paris.

Karen is sick and tired of seeing Scott suffer, and she’s not going to stand for it anymore. She confronts Craig and tells him what he’s been missing by spurning Scott’s affection in favor of a jerk who mistreats him.

When Craig unknowingly breaks Scott’s heart, Craig opens his eyes—and his own heart—to the possibility of a future with Scott. He plans to use the time while Scott’s abroad to orchestrate a romantic surprise that will show Scott they belong together. But when he sees Scott with another man at the airport, Craig fears he’s too late.

Excerpt:

Scott

Anger and hurt simmered beneath the surface as Scott slammed the door behind him. He was glad the house was empty, because he didn’t want to talk to anyone. The fact that for the first time in four years Craig wasn’t there at lunch and didn’t even text him made him so angry, but the anger paled in comparison to the pain he felt. As the lunch hour had ticked by and he came to the realization Craig wasn’t coming, it had felt like a sharp knife in his stomach. A hollow feeling had swamped him on his way home. His best friend had forgotten him.

Scott’s eyes stung but he gritted his teeth and refused to let the tears fall. He wouldn’t allow Derek to do this to him. He wouldn’t cry. He tossed himself across his bed and buried his face in the pillow. Somehow Derek had guessed his feelings toward Craig and, whenever he could, went out of his way to make Craig hurt Scott without realizing it. The bastard was so coldhearted he made the devil seem nice.

Scott had gotten each and every one of Craig’s texts, but he knew if he responded, Craig would get the brunt of his pain and anger. Before he spoke to him, he needed to get control of his emotions. If he didn’t, he’d wind up blurting out something he shouldn’t. More than likely it would be about Derek being an asshole, and it might cause a rift between them too wide to repair. He’d lose Craig for sure.

Scott allowed his mind to drift as he lay there. The internship to France being offered by Emerson was starting to look better and better every day. Maybe some time away would be a good thing. If he could get over the way he felt about Craig, his emotions could even out and he wouldn’t constantly have to worry about destroying their friendship. Closing his eyes, he concentrated on breathing in and out slowly. Eventually he started to fall asleep. Only there was no peace, even in his dreams. Immediately he started dreaming of Craig.

Craig kissed his way down Scott’s spine, lips traveling over each vertebrae slowly. He smoothed his calloused hands over Scott’s arms and shoulders with calculating accuracy. Scott moaned when he felt Craig’s hot breath on his lower back, just above his pale rear end. The moan grew louder as Craig slid the tip of his wet tongue along the beginning of the crease leading to Scott’s tight entrance. Sweat built along his skin in a fine sheen at the roar of pleasure that rushed through him. Craig tenderly spread Scott’s cheeks open with his strong hands, baring the puckered channel dying to feel him inside. A small cry rattled in Scott’s throat when his tongue came into contact with Scott’s hole. Quick lapping motions against him made Scott’s cock throb painfully against the sheets. But when Craig probed into his body, Scott heard himself shamelessly begging, “Please.”

He felt Craig smile. “Please what?” Craig asked huskily.

“Craig,” Scott whimpered.

“Tell me.”

“I want you inside of me,” he growled in frustration.

Craig laughed softly and rose up to press the full length of his body over Scott’s. Scott could feel Craig’s hard prick rubbing into the crease of his ass. “Do you, Scott?”

“God yes,” he hissed.

The blunt tip of Craig’s dick nudged the entrance to his hole. Scott reached back with one hand to grip at his hip to try to pull him inside. He shuddered when he felt Craig drop a kiss on the nape of his neck. His firm lips grazed Scott’s ear as he whispered, “I love you, Scott.”

Just when he started to enter him, Scott heard his name again from a distance. Then someone was shaking him. “Scott, wake up.”

Find Me Here:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authorjrloveless
Twitter: https://twitter.com/jrloveless
Blogger: http://jrloveless.blogspot.com/
Website: http://www.jrloveless.com

The Tropes That Never Grow Old with Clare London

November 3, 2016

The Tropes That Never Grow Old with Clare London

Today my book Romancing the Wrong Twin is released at Dreamspinner Press. This is maybe the most fun I’ve had writing a book for years! The inspiration for this story of identity swap came from the romantic comedies I’ve watched and read over the years – and I hope the readers get that feeling too.

The Dreamspun Desires line is an initiative at Dreamspinner to re-tell the popular Harlequin/Mills and Boon romance stories from a male/male point of view. It’s a chance to embrace the tropes we all know but still bring a fresh perspective. Many people think romance tropes, i.e. clichés, must be stale and tired after being reiterated time and again over the years. But as readers, we all know how a type of book can attract us, don’t we? We always want good writing, sympathetic and sexy characters, a plausible and often exciting plot. But we also have personal preferences, for example, a theme of ‘friends to lovers’ , ‘opposites attract’, ‘rich man/poor man’, or ‘mistaken identity’. Those stories will never grow old in our hearts, and every author brings their own special style to the telling.

So I hope you enjoy the series – and especially my own contributions, starting with Romancing the Wrong Twin. It was written for your entertainment, and shared by me as well!

 

 Check out Romancing the Wrong Twin today!

 

 Romancing the Wrong Twin by Clare London

 

BLURB:

How tangled can a romantic web get?

When gruff mountaineer Dominic Hartington-George seeks sponsorship for his latest expedition, his London PA insists on a more media-friendly profile—like dating celebrity supermodel Zeb Z.

Zeb can’t make the date, so he asks his identical twin, Aidan, to stand in for just one evening. Aidan, a struggling playwright, shuns the limelight to the extent people don’t even know Zeb has a sibling, but he reluctantly agrees.

When the deception has to continue beyond the first date, Aidan fights to keep up the pretense. Dominic likes his sassy, intelligent companion, and Aidan starts falling for the forthright explorer. But how long can Aidan’s conscience cope as confusion abounds? Will coming clean as “the other twin” destroy the trust they’ve built?

Buy links:

Dreamspinner
Amazon (your local store)
All Romance Ebooks
Kobo
B&N
iTunes

AUTHOR BIO:

Clare London took her pen name from the city where she lives, loves, and writes. A lone, brave female in a frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home, she juggles her writing with her other day job as an accountant.

She’s written in many genres and across many settings, with award-winning novels and short stories published both online and in print. She says she likes variety in her writing while friends say she’s just fickle, but as long as both theories spawn good fiction, she’s happy. Most of her work features male/male romance and drama with a healthy serving of physical passion, as she enjoys both reading and writing about strong, sympathetic, and sexy characters.

Clare currently has several novels sulking at that tricky chapter three stage and plenty of other projects in mind… she just has to find out where she left them in that frenetic, testosterone-fuelled family home.

Clare loves to hear from readers, and you can contact her here:

Website: http://www.clarelondon.com
E-mail: clarelondon11@yahoo.co.uk
Blog: www.clarelondon.com/blog
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/clarelondon
Twitter: https://twitter.com/clare_london
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/clarelondon
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/author/clarelondon/
Google+ : https://plus.google.com/u/0/+ClareLondon/posts

 

EXCERPT (PG):

“I know you didn’t want to do this,” Aidan murmured.

“What?”

The music was louder than when they’d arrived. Maxima was more club than restaurant and someone had upped the volume, but Aidan had no problem hearing Dominic over the background music.

“Go on this date. Be with me.” Aidan felt the devil rise up in him. “You said it yourself: we’re not much of a match. I expect your usual partners are far more impressed with your credentials.”

“My… what the hell?” Dominic looked genuinely surprised. “I don’t know what you’re on about, but I don’t set out looking for someone to impress. I want someone who’s good company, a strong character. Who’ll give as good as he gets.”

Aidan couldn’t help the wash of pleasure he felt at the indirect compliment. “No. I meant… well, you probably date bears like yourself, usually.”

“Bears?”

Shit. Aidan knew he’d slid onto thin ice, but his stupid tongue wouldn’t stop blabbing. “Sorry. I just meant tough guys like yourself. Big. Burly.” Could he sink any further into the pit he was digging?

But it seemed to have broken Dominic’s introspective mood. He started to laugh uproariously. “Burly? Does that mean you think I’m hairy too?”

H-G. No! Dominic! Aidan gulped. What was he meant to say to that after he’d been sitting there, peeking at the dark hairs curling over the neckline of Dominic’s shirt, wondering how far down the rest of it went? Whether Dominic’s legs were as deliciously furred, whether there’d be a decent treasure trail down to his groin that a man could tangle his fingers and nuzzle his nose into, to smell the sweet warmth of male skin….

Hairy skin. Strong arms. Warm, muscular thighs. Oh fuck.

The goose bumps ran over every inch of Aidan’s skin.

“I am hairy, can’t deny it. You like that idea?” Dominic’s voice was low and growly. He couldn’t have failed to notice Aidan’s sucked-in breath, the tensing of his stomach muscles. “Do you want to check out my hairy credentials?”

Aidan stared at him. Was that a joke? Was Dominic really attracted to him? Aidan had never found his build much of an advantage. Yes, he and Zeb were blessed with excellent bone structure, and in Zeb’s case the grace of a dancer, but out in the bars and clubs Aidan always seemed to blend into the background.

Ah, but he was meant to be Zeb now, wasn’t he?

“I think you’ve misjudged me, Zeb.” Dominic’s voice was very close to Aidan’s ear now. He’d placed his hand over Aidan’s, pressing Aidan’s palm onto Dominic’s thigh.

“I—what do you mean?”

“I wouldn’t have thought you were my type, I admit. But there’s a spark between us, isn’t there?”

Oh God, yes. But Aidan couldn’t admit that, could he? He gulped, wishing he’d eaten three pies, if only to soak up the effect of the champagne. The warm, heady excitement from his newfound courage wasn’t as robust as he’d thought.

Dominic smelled really good: a mix of vanilla aftershave, or maybe just soap, and a breath of tannin from the wine. Aidan couldn’t help it; his lips opened slightly and his tongue slipped out to moisten them.

“Dear Christ in heaven,” Dominic said on a ragged sigh. “You’re really gorgeous.” He sounded shocked. Aidan remembered him saying it when they met at Dominic’s house, but now there was an extra rumble underlying his voice. “Say my name again. I like it. Most people call me Dom.”

“Dom… Dominic.” Aidan heard the words but barely registered speaking them aloud. He was fixated on Dominic’s mouth, not his own.

Their lips touched.

Aidan gasped. It was the lightest of touches, but like the heaviest bolt from the blue. It was as if Dominic had breathed a flame into him through his mouth. His whole body shivered with excitement: a trickle of pure, heated delight on his skin compared to the sweaty air of the club. Dominic rested his hand lightly on Aidan’s shoulder, at the junction with his neck. He slid his fingers to the front of Aidan’s throat and stroked the hollow under his Adam’s apple.

It’s not enough! Aidan wanted Dominic to slide his hand down under the T-shirts—remind him why he was wearing so many, none of which actually fitted properly?—and touch his skin. Properly, firmly, with need.

With a soft moan of pleasure, Dominic leaned in to take the kiss deeper.

Aidan responded very, very willingly. He slid his outer arm around Dominic’s waist and pulled them closer together. Dominic lifted his other hand away from Aidan’s and rested it on Aidan’s knee. Their lower halves were hidden by the table, and Dominic’s knee pressed very tightly against Aidan’s. His large hand squeezed gently, and then slowly, teasingly slid up between Aidan’s thighs. He nudged harder, trying to push Aidan’s legs farther apart.

Aidan’s head was swimming from the kisses. Dominic’s mouth was still on his, his surprisingly soft beard rubbing along Aidan’s jawline, his breath quickening. When Aidan twisted to get even closer, he felt the heat from Dominic’s groin and Dominic’s solid erection against his hip. He wanted to climb onto his date’s lap, however ridiculous or rash that seemed. Instead he ran his free hand behind Dominic’s neck and leaned in, excited despite himself at making out in a semipublic club. Dominic had cupped Aidan’s cock and balls, trapped inside Zeb’s skintight jeans. Now Aidan was aroused too; the seam of the jeans was pressing against his flesh, causing a strange, awkward, intoxicating pain. He half closed his eyes, relaxing into the embrace, enjoying Dominic’s firm caresses under cover of the table. It had been a long time since Aidan did anything like this, a long time since he’d wanted to do it, in fact.

He wanted more, needed more. Ached for more—

And that was the exact moment a camera flash went off in his face.