Leaning Into the Look (Leaning Into Stories 06) by Lane Hayes and Nick J. Russo #audio #LGBT #romance #Spotlight #Giveaway

 

Title:  Leaning Into the Look

Series: Leaning Into Stories, #6

Author: Lane Hayes

Narrator: Nick J. Russo

Publisher: Lane Hayes

Original Release Date: March 23, 2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 8 hours and 20 minutes

Genre: Romance, friends to lovers, San Francisco, humor, businessmen

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Synopsis

Grant Kostas made a career based on his looks before joining his family’s real estate firm. He may not love his job but he’s better at sales than he thought. And when he’s poised to bring in the biggest account of the company’s history, even his father is impressed. Unfortunately, the extra attention highlights Grant’s personal life. His parents accept that he’s gay. They just wish he’d meet a nice Greek man.

Miles Harrison is a fabulous red head going through a rough patch. Between getting dumped by his long-term boyfriend and finding a new place to live in the city, he’s nearing his wits end. He’s not sure why he thought rooming with his boss’s friend was a good idea. Miles has had a crush on Grant for years. However, he knows attractive people aren’t always pretty on the inside. As the two men grapple with external problems, they form an unexpected bond of friendship and trust that feels like the real thing. The only way to know for certain is to let go of fear and lean into the look.

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Excerpt

I stopped short when we reached the other side of the street and then backed him against the brick façade of a bank building and pressed my lips over his. It was a bold move and not one I’d ever tried on any man in public before. But I couldn’t help myself. It felt oddly freeing to share one of the bleaker parts of my past with him. I wanted to thank him somehow but that seemed awkward so I kissed him instead. I held his head and glided my tongue alongside his, loving the moment when he flung his arms over my shoulders and responded with fervor. When we broke for air, I rested my forehead on his and grinned.

“Your ass is pretty spectacular too, Mi.”

He chuckled good-naturedly. “Thanks.”

“No really. I think I’m love with it.” I lowered my hands down his back and squeezed his cheeks as I molded his pelvis to mine.

“That’s kind of romantic. But if you’re thinking about falling in love with me too…don’t.”

I backed up slightly to get a better look at him. “Okay. I won’t.”

“Pinky promise.” He held up his right hand and wiggled his fingers.

“What makes you think you’re so irresistible?” I asked, wrapping my pinky finger around his.

“I’m not and you’ll figure it out sooner or later. But I like you and I want you and…”

“And what you’re really saying is you don’t want to fall for me.” I kept my tone light, hoping a jocular vibe would steer us from turning this into an uncomfortable conversation.

“Maybe.”

“Look, Mi. I’m not—”

“No. Listen. Don’t make this into a big deal. It’s not. We’re going to have a grand adventure. Just me and you. We’ll do incredible things and have amazing conversations and lots of sex. And when it’s time to say good-bye, we won’t ruin it by pretending we were ever in love. What do you say?”

Nothing. I had nothing to say. All I could think was maybe he really was crazy because who said shit like that?

But when I looked past the lighthearted swagger I saw the cracks in his armor. He was scared and battered and raw on the inside. Kind of like me. And somehow I had a feeling it wasn’t an ex-lover that made him so cautious. I only knew he was right. We were a couple of oddballs who unexpectedly found ourselves inhabiting the same circle. Temporarily.

But love? I should have walked away. Or at the very least, laughed at his wild leap. Instead I cocked my head and squinted. “What kind of adventures?”

Miles grinned. A slow-moving, gorgeous upturn of the lips that morphed into something celestial. He literally took my breath away. I hoped the dizziness faded before I gave him a reason to think it was a good thing he’d issued a warning about getting too attached.

“All kinds! We’ll turn this town upside down being one hundred percent ridiculous.”

“Okay…” I gave a half laugh and pushed a stray lock of hair behind his ear. “What do you have in mind? Dancing, parties—”

“No. More like Trivial Pursuit marathons, Netflix binge-watching fests in our Pjs, the compare and contrast game and—”

“The what?”

“Don’t worry. We’ll have fun. You’ll see,” he assured me earnestly as he laced our fingers together and pulled me away from the wall.

I glanced down at our joined hands and briefly thought about joking that he should be careful about giving me mixed signals. But I knew my limits. My comedic timing was crappy and the last thing I wanted was to push him away. I might not love Miles but I liked him. A lot. And holding his hand while we wandered through town under a sea of rainbow flags on a random Sunday felt special. The way new beginnings sometimes did.

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Meet the Narrator

Nick is an award winning narrator with a fan following for his work in fiction, specifically in the romance genre. His performances in two of Amy Lane’s books, Beneath the Stain and Christmas Kitsch, made him the recipient of Sinfully M/M Book Review’s Narrator of the Year – 2015. When he’s not in the booth, Nick enjoys spending time with his wife, Jessica, and kids, (aka their beagle Frank and cat Stella), drumming in his cover band, exploring rural back roads with his wife on his motorcycle, or being enthralled in a tabletop role playing game with his friends.

Facebook | Twitter

 

 

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Leaning Into Forever (Leaning Into Stories 07) by Lane Hayes #LGBT #romance #Spotlight #Giveaway #Contemporary

Title:  Leaning Into Forever
Series: Leaning Into Stories, #7
Author: Lane Hayes
Publisher: Lane Hayes
Release Date: June 29
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 75K
Genre: Romance, Comfort, Healing , Heartbreak, New Beginnings, Contemporary Romance

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Synopsis

Geordie de la Rosa is a legend among wine lovers in Napa Valley. His ultra-fabulous style paired with a penchant for leading impromptu sing-a-longs has made him a star attraction at Conrad Winery. Co-owning a well-respected winery was never Geordie’s aspiration but he likes the niche he’s made for himself. He won’t deny that his job and his friends have helped ease his heartache and grief after the death of his longtime partner.

Levi Yeager excels at the art of reinventing himself. He’s been a minor league baseball player, a college coach and now a restaurant owner. The problem is he doesn’t know a thing about the food business. And when his chef quits unexpectedly, he’s afraid his new venture is doomed. But Levi isn’t a quitter. It may be the only thing he has in common with the beautiful, sassy man from the neighboring winery who agrees to help get his new business up and running. Neither man counts on their fast friendship or the wild attraction they feel for each other. However, they know they won’t stand a chance until they let go of the past and lean into forever.

Excerpt

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“My game is coming back. If I keep
talking and you keep listening, you’ll eventually warm up to me. Where was I?”
“The psychology of alliterations,” I
deadpanned.
“Right. Your tone is imperial, you use
alliterations like a poet and you dress like a diva. You’re pleasant to
strangers but you hold them at bay. You’re kind but controlled. Most likely you
were an elite member of a royal family in a former life.”
“You’re probably right,” I said, amused
in spite of myself. “Since you have me figured me, let me see if I can do the
same.”
“Be my guest.” Levi made a sweeping
motion with his left arm before resting it on his steering wheel. The casual
gesture was ripe with potent masculinity. And I hated that I noticed.
I tore my gaze from his stubble jaw and
cleared my throat. “You’re a newly out sports enthusiast at a crossroad.”
“Sports enthusiast at a crossroads,” he
repeated with a laugh. “I guess that’s better than has-been athlete looking for
a new gig.”
“As you said, I do have a way with words
and I’m a firm believer it’s crucial to accentuate the positives.” I set my
hand over his without thinking then pulled back when a familiar spark of
awareness skittered along my spine.
Levi smirked. “You’re weird. I like
you.”
“Thanks. I like you too. Platonically of
course,” I added.
“Of course. What exactly is my
crossroad?”
“I’m not sure. Perhaps you quit your job
to try a new venture with this lover who dumped you and now you’re heading to
LA to woo him back—”
“Not a chance,” he snapped.
I raised a brow at his vehemence.
“Or…you’re going on a fact-finding mission to salvage what you can of your
original idea and determine what comes next.”
Levi nodded. “Closer.”
“Have you thought about selling the
diner?”
“Yes. But I’m not going to.”
“Why not?”
“I have nothing to lose. And you know
what? It’s kinda liberating. No net required ’cause I’m already free falling.
Have you ever felt that way before, Geord?”
Every fucking day.
Silence fell like a blanket between us.
Soft and warm and safe.  I didn’t want to
break the quiet but I couldn’t allow myself to be pulled under either.
I licked my lips and whispered, “Yes.”
Suddenly, I couldn’t move and I couldn’t
look away. Maybe I was a sucker for ruggedly handsome men who weren’t ashamed
to reveal their vulnerable sides. I admired that he made free-falling sound
like an adventure. I’d been doing it for nearly four years and my outlook was
nothing like Levi’s. I worked my ass off to make sure no one knew how tired and
raw and afraid I felt every damn day. I clung to the best parts of my past like
a lifeline, hoping my ghosts would ease the inevitable ‘splat on the concrete’
nosedive I had coming my way.
Levi’s story was certainly different,
but I recognized something in him I knew too well. A desperate spirit that
wasn’t quite ready to give up. I’d like to think that sense of acknowledgment
was why I leaned across the console, closed my eyes and pressed my lips against
his.

 

Purchase at Amazon

Meet the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

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Level Up by Annabeth Albert #Romance #LGBT #Contemporay #Gamers #Review

Moonbeams over Atlanta welcomes Annabeth Albert!

Title:  LEVEL UP
Series: loosely related to the #gaymers series, but stands alone
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Annabeth Albert
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 40,000 words
Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

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The Review

4.5 Stars

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This book was provided by IndiGo Marketing & Design for an honest review.

The blurb got me when a physicist is doing a nude calendar photo shoot. I had to see how this would go. Annabeth provided a painted a wonderful picture of how Landon and Bailey meet and the initial miscommunications that happen. Landon has been hurt with a past history of rape (nothing on page), and Bailey comes to provide the support Landon needs to be himself after a traumatic experience.

Bailey has his own hangups that show, and Landon helps him as well. It’s cute, fun, and neat to see these two lovebirds circle each other until their love shines through. In some ways, it’s shorter that I would want but still very good. I’ve read most of the #gaymers series but now have to go back and refresh my memory of a few of the characters that appear here. It is stand alone and didn’t detract from the enjoyment, but now I want to remember the others. I would highly recommend reading it, especially if you’ve read the #gaymers series.

Overall, I give Level Up 4.5 out of 5 stars.

Eloreen Moon

 

Synopsis

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

 

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

 

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

 

Approximately 40,000 words. Previously
released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers
universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a
guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no
on-screen violence or flashbacks.

 

Excerpt

LEVEL UP EXCERPT—This is their first
kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!

 

***

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

“Ow,” they said simultaneously.

 

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

 

“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away.
Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his
head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but
he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he
stroked down Landon’s jaw. God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a
chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been
since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah
goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last
LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet.
Arousing.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

Purchase at Amazon

 

Meet the Author

 

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance
novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in
the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf,
she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series
joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers,
#PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on
next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or
connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be
sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests.
The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus
content and exclusive contests.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny
stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding
happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights
supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a
rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

 

Website | Facebook | Twitter |
Goodreads
| Instagram | Annabeth’s Newsletter | Annabeth’s Angels

 

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New Release Blitz: Level Up by Annabeth Albert #Romance #LGBT #Contemporay #Gamers

Title:  LEVEL UP
Series: loosely related to the #gaymers series, but stands alone
Author: Annabeth Albert
Publisher: Annabeth Albert
Release Date: May 17, 2018
Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex
Pairing: Male/Male
Length: 40,000 words
Genre: Romance, contemporary m/m romance, gay romance, geeks, nerds, friends-to-lovers, gamers, gaymers

Add to Goodreads

Synopsis

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Landon can’t believe he’s let himself
get roped into participating in a charity calendar, let alone one that features
tastefully photographed nudes. The genius physicist is hardly model material
and he’s dreading the nude part of the photoshoot. Amid his reluctance, the one
bright spot is his emails back and forth with the photographer.
However, Bailey ends up being not quite
what Landon expects, and their first meeting is decidedly awkward. Bailey’s
persistent though, and gradually Landon warms to the burly photographer, and
they discover they have a shared love of gamer culture.
A tentative friendship is born, but the
road from friends to lovers isn’t easy. Landon’s battling past trauma and must
decide how much of a risk he’s willing to take. A sexy connection may not be
enough to keep them together unless both are willing to put their hearts on the
line.
Approximately 40,000 words. Previously
released as part of the EXPOSED anthology, and loosely linked to the #Gaymers
universe, this friends-to-lovers, hurt/comfort story stands alone with a
guaranteed happy ending. Contains a brief mention of a prior assault, but no
on-screen violence or flashbacks.

 

Excerpt

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LEVEL UP EXCERPT—This is their first
kiss, because I absolutely love writing first kiss scenes!
***
Bailey was the type who moved a lot as
he gamed, biceps flexing, knees wiggling, shoulders jostling. Landon always
liked people who got so into gaming, but it was more than a little distracting.
His body was quickly coming to associate that orange scent of Bailey’s with
good things, and other parts of him apparently liked Bailey’s nearness, which
was a novelty because instead of intimidated, as he would have expected, he was
more than a little turned on.
“Oh man, that was a rush.” Bailey
laughed as both of their health meters dipped to zero. “I’m almost wishing I’d
gone into game art, not photography. Amazing how these graphics have held up
over the years.”
“Totally. And speaking of art, let me
find the Space Villager stuff.” Landon reluctantly stepped away from the game.
He headed to the nearby kitchen, where he was pretty the papers were buried
with a stack of mail. Paper control was not his strong suit. “You’ll go nuts at
the latest screen shots and promo teasers.”
“Cool.” Rather than follow Landon,
Bailey went to sit on the couch.
“You want a drink while I’m in here?”
Landon called to him after he found the papers under a pile of pizza ads. “I’ve
got four flavors of Snapple, soda, and water.”
“Surprise me with a Snapple flavor.”
Bailey looked right at home on Landon’s couch, lounging back.
He really did not look at all like any
photographer Landon had ever met, and curiosity had him asking, “So why
photography? You said you could have done game design?”
“Yeah, I had plenty of friends at the
art institute go that direction. But I’ve been in love with photography ever
since I worked on our middle school yearbook. I figured out quickly that taking
pictures of events and sports was far more fun than trying to do the sports
myself, so I did yearbook all through high school, got a photography scholarship
to the art institute in Portland.”
“So you don’t play a sport?” Landon had
a hard time believing that. With Bailey’s height and breadth, he totally looked
like he lived for weekend games of some type.
“Nope. Hopelessly uncoordinated.” Bailey
shot him an endearing smile when Landon handed him the bottle of tea.
“Me too.” Landon clinked bottles with
him, then held up the papers. “Found the codes. But can I show you some stuff
on the TV screen while you have your drink?”
“Absolutely.” Bailey took a long swig of
tea, and Landon had to look away before he got mesmerized by Bailey’s full
mouth, how it looked when his tongue chased a stray drop of moisture, how pink
it was in contrast to his paler skin and brown beard.
Landon queued up the pre-release trailer
Josiah had sent him a link to. Bombastic music filled his small living room as
on the screen, and a spaceship pulled in for a landing on a planet filled with
ruins of a once-powerful civilization. The narrator had an iconic voice and
detailed all the special features of the expansion pack. Landon had already
watched this a half-dozen times, and it still gave him happy chills.
“Wow. I can’t wait.” Bailey looked
suitably awed. “This is even cooler than when War Elf added the mystic raids.”
“I know, right? Now look at the in-game
screen shots.” He brought up another video, body relaxing more and more despite
Bailey’s nearness. It was just so awesome to have someone new to share this
with. He’d been hyped about this all week, but Pike was distracted by his
boyfriend Zack’s deployment, Savannah didn’t game much, and the rest of his
regular crew seemed to have other things occupying their attention.
Somehow, as he shared more video clips,
he drifted closer to Bailey, so that their knees were almost rubbing. It wasn’t
a giant couch, so there wasn’t a ton of room to move back, but even so, Landon
wasn’t looking for an escape. He was aware of Bailey, very much so, but not
nearly as freaked out as he’d been a few hours ago. Instead, his senses seemed
to soak up Bailey’s scent and nearness, and it wasn’t until the fourth or fifth
video that he realized that he was aroused.
Clink. Somehow Landon’s left hand,
holding his drink, and Bailey’s right hand tangled.
“Oops.” He tried to extricate himself
without spilling both beverages. Bending to put his on the floor, he hadn’t
realized that Bailey had also leaned down until their heads collided.
“Ow,” they said simultaneously.
“Oh my gosh. I’m so sorry.” Bailey
reached out, feeling around on Landon’s head. “Did you see stars? Break the
skin?”
“I’m fine.” Landon didn’t pull away.
Bailey’s hand felt damn nice. Gentle. Soothing more than just the bump on his
head. Their eyes met, and he really needed to move back, break this spell, but
he didn’t, instead leaning into to the touch. Bailey’s eyes darkened, and he
stroked down Landon’s jaw. God, that felt so good, like an extra blanket on a
chilly night, warmth he hadn’t realized he was missing. How long had it been
since he’d been touched like this? Hugged, sure. He’d hugged Savannah
goodnight, and hugged and wrestled around with his best friend Pike at the last
LAN party, but neither of those things was touch like this. Caring. Sweet.
Arousing.
Bailey leaned in again, way slower this
time, all the time in the world for Landon to stop him. But he didn’t. Bailey’s
beard tickled an instant before their lips met, a soft slide of mouths. Not
aggressive at all, not the on-a-tight-schedule rush of a hookup, Bailey kissed
like they had a sleepy Sunday afternoon to kill, like each reaction of Landon’s
mattered, like he was trying to memorize something important and was going to
take his time learning the lesson.
Landon was the first one to take things
further, mouth opening on a sigh, welcoming Bailey’s agile tongue. He tasted
sweet, like tea, and minty like the gum he’d popped after the pizza, familiar
yet new at the same time. How had he managed to forget how awesome kissing
could be? A laugh bubbled up in his chest, but quickly transformed to a groan
of pleasure as Bailey nipped at his lower lip.
Not content to let Bailey be the one
exploring, Landon sent his own tongue on a quest, tracing Bailey’s full lower
lip, delving inside to rub tongues, retreating playfully to earn another nip.
Fuck. This was nice. The video switched over to something random, and he barely
registered it. He couldn’t say how long they kissed, just that he didn’t want
it to ever end.

 

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Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance
novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in
the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf,
she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. The #OutOfUniform series
joins her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance #Gaymers,
#PortlandHeat and #PerfectHarmony series. To find out what she’s working on
next and other fun extras, check out her website: http://www.annabethalbert.com or
connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be
sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests.
The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus
content and exclusive contests.
Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny
stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Annabeth loves finding
happy endings for a variety of pairings and is a passionate gay rights
supporter. In between searching out dark heroes to redeem, she works a
rewarding day job and wrangles two active children.

 

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Aerie by Jon Keys (The Chinjoka Saga 01) #Spotlight #LGBT #Romance #Fantasy #NewRelease #Giveaway #Rafflecopter

Title:  Aerie

Series: The Chinjoka Saga, Book One

Author: Jon Keys

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: February 19, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 77900

Genre: Fantasy, NineStar Press, LGBT, shifters, magic, gods, friends to lovers, enemies to lovers, slow burn

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Synopsis

Askari, Dhala, and Gyam grew up as childhood friends during happier days for the Chinjoka, an Iron Age people with the ability to shapeshift, but now they must learn their place among the tribe while dealing with both a devastating plague and war with the Misiq.

Ena is a young warrior for the more savage Misiq, a tribe whose cruelty exemplifies their deity—the Angry God. The Misiq, also shifters, have declared a genocidal war against the Chinjoka, blaming them for the disease devastating both tribes. As a result, they are locked in a battle for survival. But when Ena is shown compassion by those he means to harm, he begins to question all he’s ever known.

A chance meeting changes their lives, and maybe their tribes, forever.

Excerpt

Aerie
Jon Keys © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Dhala’s world overflowed with desperation as he filled a bowl with crystalline water trickling along the edge of the sky portal for Gyam’s aerie. His attempt to spot Gyam in his flyer form was thwarted by the dense early spring fog that limited the visibility of the surroundings. Even the river running along the cliff was hidden from Dhala’s sharp eyes.

Assigned to be the Saat responsible for the last two Athru, Dhala took his worker caste’s responsibility of caring for Gyam and Choro with much weight, especially since Choro was in the final throes of the deadly plague that had devastated the Chinjoka over the last few cycles. As Choro’s health diminished ever more rapidly, Dhala and Gyam had become ever more desperate until, before first light, Gyam had left on the final attempt to gain their friend and mentor more time.

A gust sent a spray onto Dhala’s face and moistened the nest of short curls framing it. With the bowl having long ago been filled, he wiped the water from his skin and sighed.

“You can’t will him to travel faster, Dhala.”

Startled from his dower mood, he grabbed the bowl of fresh water from the trickle and moved to Choro’s side. “I’m so sorry. I was lost in thought.” He dropped a soft piece of trade cloth into the liquid, squeezed it almost dry, and ran it over the man’s face. Choro’s labored breathing echoed through the room, a symptom of how far the disease had progressed. Dhala found some solace knowing they’d had no new cases for a cycle. But sadness overwhelmed him each time he allowed himself to consider Choro losing his battle against the sickness.

With a hand withered to little more than talon and sinew, Choro caught his wrist. “Dhala, I’m neither fevered nor in need of cleaning. We both know my time is limited. Gyam set himself on this task hoping to change my fate, but this sun cycle is likely my last.”

Dhala scrubbed the tears from his face and scowled at the feeble figure lying before him. With a fierce determination, he grabbed the older man’s hand between his. “Choro, you will live. Gyam will find an osa herd, and the fresh meat will give you the strength to last until we discover a healing.” Dhala glanced out the cave opening to the fog-swathed valley that stretched to the forests surrounding Mother Falls high in the mountains to the north. Nothing of Gyam was visible, but he turned to Choro filled with a stubborn glint. “Soon. He must return soon.”

Choro lay back with a rattling breath. “Fledgling, we have not cured what is killing the Chinjoka in all the cycles since it began. Each caste suffered losses. Once I am gone, Gyam is the last Athru. None of the fledglings show signs of the Athru change, and the responsibilities weigh heavily on Gyam.”

Dhala dropped his gaze as Choro reminded him of his greatest shame. But there was a gentle touch on his chin, and he lifted his head. He took the elder’s hand in his, and Choro smiled sadly.

“It’s no fault of yours that you never left the Saat caste. The Father of the Twins decides who takes to the sky, who are the protectors, and who cares for others. We are all born with the abilities of the Saat, and many become able to shift to the protective plates of the Onija. But the few who are gifted with the faculty to shift into one of the Chinjoka flyers guard us from the sky. We all stop where the Father decrees.”

Dhala sighed again but released Choro and moved the bowl aside. The elder was right. Dhala needed to accept his place and the disappointment of never becoming one of the Athru caste as his father always believed he would. He would never develop the stone-hard plate of the Onija, much less the ability to become the taloned and winged protector of the Chinjoka.

Dhala’s father held several unique beliefs, including that the earthbound Saat were as important as the soaring Athru. When he was a child, Dhala spent many hours with his friends, climbing the precipice above the village as the Athru flyers glided across the azure sky. He’d loved the time among the heights, regardless of the season, but warm summer mornings were his favorite. By afternoon, the sun would heat the rocks, making them uncomfortable, but during the early mornings, the breeze coming from the warming grasslands northward to the cutleaf forest made it easy to imagine what flight over the last Chinjoka settlement would be like.

He glanced again to the outside, thrilled at the rays of sun cutting through the dawn haze and bringing the river far below them into sharper relief. The dry-fit stone wall that formed the flight path for this aerie glowed with the golden light of morning.

“He’s fine. Gyam is the strongest Athru I’ve met during my time in the aeries. When the Father takes me, he will need your help.”

Choro’s reference to the afterlife made Dhala cringe. He and Gyam had been determined to heal Choro of the plague since his first symptoms. Anyone who’d shown signs of the disease had left on the Long Flight with no exceptions. Dhala lost far too many of his friends, as had most of the Chinjoka. But when Choro showed the difficulty breathing that was the typical first symptom, Dhala fought with ferocious determination to save his friend and advisor. Choro’s downward spiral caused Dhala and Gyam to drift apart. They’d been among the best of friends since they were fledglings, but Choro’s terminal condition left Gyam bitter and unpredictable.

The result might be different if their only Athru healer hadn’t been one of the first to die. Others tried to find a cure, including his mother who was a well-versed Saat healer. The failure to determine a cure made people doubt their skills and, in some cases, blame the spread of the disease on the Saat healers. Regardless of the truth, no healer had been successful, and most had stopped their efforts, for fear they might be blamed.

“He comes.”

Dhala glanced at Choro, who nodded toward the aerie’s sky portal. An instant later, the slow beat of wings came closer. Dhala swept the room with his gaze and found everything to his satisfaction. He moved close as Gyam landed on the rock opening. Dhala couldn’t keep from gasping in awe any time he saw Gyam.

Each smooth wing was as long as Dhala’s height. The muscles across his shoulders and down his torso flexed with each swipe of his webbed appendages. Dhala stepped away when Gyam thrust his elongated muzzle toward him and screamed a high piercing call, demanding attention. Dhala wanted to clasp his hands over his ears but knew instead he would do as Gyam demanded. Gyam tensed and released another scream.

Dhala dashed forward and grabbed the blood-dripping osa heart from Gyam’s taloned hand. The fresh organ from the small grazer still quivered with the final throes of life. He rushed to Choro’s side, ignoring Gyam’s cry.

He knelt beside the older man and offered him the fist-sized heart. Choro preferred the meat of the smaller grazers, and a freshly harvested heart was a special treat. Both Dhala and Gyam hoped it would give him more strength, but Dhala feared it was Choro’s last meal. More of Choro’s presence in this world disappeared with each breath.

But he wouldn’t give up hope. Dhala arranged Choro’s bedding to make him as comfortable as possible while he enjoyed the treat. Choro sank his teeth into the morsel with clear relish as blood coated his fingers. Dhala couldn’t help but smile at the elder attacking the tidbit with the same enjoyment as a fledgling with a sweet treat. A short time later, Choro finished and glanced around him.

Dhala squeezed out the cloth he’d been using earlier and handed it to Choro, who took it with a grin and wiped himself clean. Once he’d finished, he lay back on the bed, closed his eyes, and sighed.

His voice rolled across the room. “Delicious, Gyam. That was the best osa I’ve eaten in many seasons.”

Dhala glanced over his shoulder to find Gyam in the midst of his change from his Athru form. The webbing was absorbing into wings, which were disappearing into Gyam’s muscular body, and interlocking scales were becoming supple skin as Gyam left the form marking him as Athru. Dhala relished the beautiful body being revealed to him. When front paws and talons became work-roughened hands, Gyam made his final shift to leave his Athru form and stood nude behind him. Dhala tried not to stare but lost his struggle. Usually, Gyam covered himself, but today, he held his loincloth in one hand while watching Choro. His stout, muscular body demanded Dhala’s attention until he realized how inappropriate he was being, especially given Gyam’s current state. Dhala was painfully aware of the attraction he’d had for Gyam since they’d both grown beyond fledglings, but he would keep his role as Saat for Gyam and Choro during his time of sorrow for them all.

He wrenched his gaze to the ailing man and got a smile and quick wink. Caught staring at Gyam, Dhala dropped his attention to the floor. A slight rustling served as warning when Gyam walked past him, making the last tie on his loincloth before kneeling at the side of Choro’s pallet.

“Elder, how are you feeling? Did the osa help?” Gyam asked.

Choro smiled and tapped Gyam’s cheek. Gyam grinned, and Dhala caught a glimpse of his friend from cycles past. He leaned in to give Choro a kiss on each cheek, but Choro’s gaze included both of them.

“It was warm and delicious, exactly what I needed. We must be honest. In spite of all your work, there is no cure. I am not long for this flight. My wings are tattered and bones are brittle. I will soon be with my mate. Both of you must accept this.”

Hot tears rolled down Dhala’s cheeks as he listened. He knew the truth of Choro’s assessment. His body was failing. Dhala’s gut twisted with grief, and a sob leaked from his lips.

Gyam turned on Dhala and snarled. His face elongated and his canine teeth grew as his emotions overtook his body. But before anything happened, Choro spoke.

“That’s enough, Gyam. You two stretched my life further than any of the others who have fallen victim to this illness. For that, I thank you. But the time is here.”

Gyam motioned at Dhala as he spoke. “He’s given up. He’s letting you die.”

Choro glared and sat up. Dhala scrambled to change his bedding to make it easier, but Choro waved him away. The movement threw Choro into a coughing spell that left him gasping for air.

“Please, Elder. Don’t strain yourself. I will do as you wish,” Gyam said.

Choro again motioned them off, but not before Dhala saw the flecks of blood on his lips. He lacked none of the weight of his role as elder Athru when he turned to Gyam.

“You will be the last Athru. You need your friends. You have been together with Dhala since you both ran free of clothing during the warm moons. You’ve protected and guarded each other through your time together. Now you have let this come between you, and it must stop. Dhala is your friend even though he is Saat. You have grown up together and must regain your ability to work together. Athru, Saat, or Onija, you are all Chinjoka. This disease has almost destroyed our people. So many have died, and only one village remains. You must rebuild the people. You cannot succeed without all three castes who make up the Chinjoka.”

Choro lapsed into another coughing fit. This one left him flat on his bed, sweating and gasping for air. He covered his eyes with an arm and tried to breathe. A morning breeze curled around them, bringing a mix of scents of the Chinjoka Basin, from the verdant growth of the shortgrass plains in the south to the crisp scent of the great cutleaf trees nourished by the Pilea River. The single wisp of air reminded Dhala of everything at stake for the Chinjoka nation. Dhala moved closer, pushing an immobile Gyam aside. He checked Choro’s pulse and found a weak thread. He ran his hands down the older man’s neck, but halfway along his path, Choro grabbed his wrists with the strength of a failing butterfly. The silent command left no doubt. He met Dhala’s gaze and nodded.

“Soon. But not now.” His gaze moved to encompass both of them. “You look like the gods are testing you. Both of you should rest, but I know neither of you will listen. I plan to sleep and won’t argue with either of you any further.”

With that, Choro sank into his bed and closed his eyes. Dhala waited but worried. He moved when Choro parted his lips.

“If you check my heartbeat, Dhala, I will hurt you in ways to prevent any enjoyment with a mate for the rest of your life.”

Dhala drew away and turned at a snort from Gyam. His dark eyes twinkled as he looked at both Choro and Dhala. “He’s not making idle threats. Even as he is now. Come. We can build up the fire and plan the evening meal. I asked a group of Onija caste hunters to bring the osa carcass. We must be ready for its arrival.”

They had created a bed of glowing coals when a voice came from the passageway carved into the interior of the cliff as a way to reach the upper caves.

“I could use a little help here! Gyam picked the biggest Twins-blessed osa in the entire basin.”

Dhala recognized the voice as another of their friends. Askari was of the Onija caste and one of the most successful hunters among the Chinjoka, but as a warrior, he was unequaled in the village. The plates he formed as Onija were as strong as iron but as mobile as Dhala’s soft skin. Dhala should have known it would be him who retrieved Gyam’s kill. That the three of them had been inseparable since they began to walk made it even more certain that Askari would be the one who would retrieve Gyam’s take. Even though the Father had spread his gifts through the castes as they went through puberty, bodies changing in line with their castes, their friendships had remained. They rushed to the path and found Askari balanced precariously while gripping the carcass he’d thrown across one shoulder. Dhala moved down the first few steps, grabbed the carcass by the stag’s straight-spiraling horns, heaved it upward, and settled it onto his shoulder. Once the body was securely in place, he carried it into the aerie.

Askari followed a few steps behind him, and as they reentered, he spared a glance toward Choro’s sleeping form before turning to the other men. Dhala stripped to his breechcloth and used his long knife to cut openings in the hind legs’ tendons so he could hang the osa from the tripod kept for that purpose. With practiced knife work, he peeled the hide from one side while Gyam worked on the other. With a soft crackle, he pulled the skin loose around the neck and glanced toward Askari. The plates from his Onija shift were still prominently displayed over his torso and brow. While scales proved invaluable in protecting one from the Onija caste during battle or hunting, they limited Askari’s finger mobility. The limitation made tasks requiring fine dexterity more difficult. Askari maintained his distance from the work being done, but Dhala knew his friend too well to allow him to avoid the dirty work of butchering the carcass.

“Askari, wake up and shift back from your Onija form. You can help.” He gestured his knife toward Gyam. “We want osa for dinner. The rest needs to be spread on a drying rack.”

Askari closed his eyes and skewed his face in an expression Dhala recognized as he shifted from his warrior form. Once Askari began, it took little time before his skin was as smooth, flexible—and vulnerable—as Dhala’s. He flexed his fingers a few times before pulling his side knife. Askari’s skill with a blade was evident by the speed the meat was prepared. With the three of them working together, butchering proceeded with well-practiced efficiency. As often as the three of them had hunted together, they should be skilled at sharing the work.

Dhala checked on Choro and saw his chest rising and falling. Signs of life, even if his breathing was shallow, gave Dhala hope. He had the urge to evaluate further but considered Choro’s earlier threat. He found the others cleaning the osa blood from their hands. Askari held out the bowl of water he’d filled earlier.

“Here, use what’s left, and I’ll get more.”

Dhala nodded and let Askari pour the cool liquid over his hands. He rubbed them together to loosen the drying bits from his skin. Once that was done, Askari splashed more water onto Dhala’s hands. After a few repetitions, Dhala was clean, and the pottery bowl was empty. He dried himself on his tunic and nodded to Askari.

“Thank you. We appreciate your help.”

Gyam glanced up and one brow lifted. But a moment later, he returned to the task he was trying to complete. His knife flashed in the light as he sliced the loin free from the backbone, cut the meat into thick slices, and threaded them onto fire-hardened skewers before hanging them over crimson coals. The meat was soon sizzling and filled the aerie with delicious aromas.

They tended the meat, constantly turning it to get a perfect sear on all sides. But while they did, Dhala kept a continual watch on Choro. All three friends worked to carve what remained into thin strips and hang them from the drying rack Dhala put in the small fire’s draft. The sun approached its peak when they finished. The skewered loin had cooked to perfection. Askari had always claimed a talent for cooking. He’d often said if Gyam had no choice but to eat his own cooking, he would learn how to do a decent job with its preparation. The smells of food had Dhala’s stomach growling, but he checked on Choro first to see if he might be interested in eating.

He walked over and squatted beside Choro’s bed. When he leaned forward to shake him awake, Choro’s eyes fluttered open.

“I’m still here, Dhala. The aroma of cooking osa was enough to keep me. It smells delicious. I haven’t eaten a meal from Askari in too many moons.”

“You will enjoy his cooking many more—” Dhala’s throat tightened, and he could not complete what he and Choro both knew was a lie. The older man patted his hand and smiled sadly.

“I relish sharing this meal with you. Bring me a piece of that delicious meat, fledgling. Invite the others to join us. I think we’ll have the best meal we’ve had in seasons.” He studied Dhala and continued. “Be certain to put out an offering of the osa to the gods, especially the Father. Their favor is needed by all of us.”

Dhala rushed away, glad to be focused on anything other than Choro’s rapid decline. The others turned to him as he approached. He glanced at them as he brought his emotions under control.

“Choro says the meat smells delicious and would like for us to share the meal with him,” Dhala said.

Askari leaned closer and whispered, “How is he?”

Dhala motioned toward the sleeping area. “He asked me to assure the offerings from the successful hunt. I will take care of their placement on the fire. Go. Sit with Choro and enjoy sharing our meal with him.”

Dhala drew his blade and carefully sliced thick pieces from the osa’s mineral-rich liver. After adding more wood to the fire, he dropped the raw meat into the searing hot coals. As the scent of the roasting delicacy filled the aerie, Dhala began a simple chant of thanks every Chinjoka was taught before their first blooding. As the last of the flesh turned dark, a breeze blew across the fire, hiding it in the smoke. Once Dhala’s sight returned, no trace of the meat remained. He hesitated but then joined the others with a shake of his head.

The three young men gathered the food they had prepared and sat on the floor surrounding their elder. Dhala brought small drinking bowls, one for each of them, filled with clear water Askari had brought from the river while they cooked. The mood was somber; everyone had seen the disease progress too many times. Choro only nibbled at his meat before setting it to one side. He lowered himself into the bedding and stared toward the open sky as they finished the rest of the meal.

“There are so few of us left. I don’t know how the Chinjoka can survive. Our gods have deserted us and the sickness destroyed the tribe until we are tempting targets to our enemies,” Choro whispered. The others fell silent as they explored their own dark memories. Blood-laced saliva and the gradual failure of the victims’ ability to breathe were the symptoms burned into the memory of any Chinjoka. The number of people Dhala had eased onto their Long Flight left him numb. Even at his young age, he remembered when the plague began. Hysteria made a bad situation worse. Early, when so many were dying, terror ruled people’s actions. Saat healers suggested any possible cure or at least a way to stop its spread. Its progression was slow but always fatal. It didn’t seem to spread through contact. In many cases, some members of a family would not develop symptoms, while their fathers, mothers, brothers, or sisters perished. The Athru healer who might have been able to develop a cure died in the first wave of fatalities. Saat healers could do nothing, but ignorance and malice caused them to be blamed for the disease. The first season was devastating for the Chinjoka, physically and emotionally.

One village had thrown a Saat healer from the burial heights in a confused effort to gain attention from the Father. Choro, and the other Athru caste who lived then, championed the Saat healers. But people still feared the illness that was wiping out entire villages, and the healers’ fear of retribution led them to stop aiding, not only those afflicted with the plague but other diseases normally not considered serious. This caused more deaths, this time from lack of rudimentary healing. The last of the plague victims received the best possible care. But even with the finest healing, like Choro was given, the ending was too predictable. And too tragic.

The small group finished their meal, and Dhala cleared the remains, dropping them into the cooking fire. The other two sat near Choro to fulfill any request. Dhala studied them, trying to think of anything to make Choro more comfortable. But he’d done all he could. To give Dhala something to occupy his thoughts, he began the work of tanning the osa hide. First, he brought a frame from the storage room. He cut a thin strip from the outer edge of the skin and made small slits along the edge. With care, he laced the pelt to the frame, stretching it into place.

“You have a skill to appreciate, Dhala. Don’t forget others take note of your labor,” Choro said.

Dhala faltered at his task. Tears flowed again as he met the gaze of the elder. He broke contact to refocus on his task even though emotions overwhelmed him. One thing he had learned early in life, emotional and fragile Chinjoka suffered short and miserable lives. He nurtured the strength to continue even when overwhelmed with impending loss. This was no different as he focused on scraping the hide clean, fingerwidth by fingerwidth.

But his walls broke and loneliness poured into Dhala. Too overwhelmed to continue, he let his hands drop to his side as he wept. No one chastised him for his lack of control, even though it was certain everyone heard. His strength waned as his sorrow leaked out as salty tears.

A light touch shocked Dhala, and he turned to find Gyam standing beside him. He stiffened, expecting a reprimand. But no rebuke came. Gyam instead knelt beside him and hugged him. Dhala returned his embrace. During that moment, his friend since birth returned, and the formal Athru of recent seasons vanished.

“He will be fine. I think the fresh meat brought him new energy. He will recover. Don’t grieve for him.”

Dhala schooled his expression before meeting Gyam’s gaze. Unable to lie, he spoke a different truth. “I believe Choro is one of the strongest Chinjoka I’ve ever met. If anyone can conquer the disease killing us, it will be him.”

Gyam patted his shoulder and flashed a smile at Dhala.

“Exactly. Now, one of us will sit with him so we are close if he needs anything. Otherwise, we will continue our day.”

“Of course, Gyam.”

Dhala tried to add more, but his knowledge of the Saat healing was too limited to enable him to sense the state of Choro’s rapidly deteriorating health. He nodded and turned to his work.

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Meet the Author

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.

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September by Robert Winter #audio #LGBT #romance #Spotlight #Giveaway

Title:  September

Format: Audiobook

Series: Pride and Joy, book 1

Narrator: Kale Williams

Author: Robert Winter

Publisher:  Robert Winter Books

Release Date: February 7th,  2018

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 10 Hours 01 Minutes

Genre: Romance, May December, hurt comfort, second chance

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Synopsis

A May-December contemporary gay romance for lovers of second chances

David James is smart, successful, handsome… and alone. After the death of his lover, Kyle, from cancer, he buried himself in his law practice and the gym. At forty-eight, he is haunted by his memories and walled off from the world. When David injures himself working out, he’s assigned to Brandon Smith for physical therapy. The vibrant young therapist is attracted to David and realizes he needs a hand to get back into dating. What begins as a practice coffee date escalates to friendship, passion, and maybe something more, as they navigate a new relationship in Washington, DC, and the gay mecca of Provincetown.

But David remains trapped behind the barrier of fear and guilt. Will he remain loyal to Kyle’s memory if he moves on? Can he and Brandon manage a twenty-two-year age gap? Brandon thinks he understands David’s concerns, and for him, the answer to those questions is yes. He wants to be with David, and he believes he can overcome David’s barriers. But Brandon fails to account for the world’s reaction to a handsome young man attached to an older, wealthy lover.

David’s memories, Brandon’s pride, and an unexpected tragedy might cost them something very special…

Listen to an Audio Excerpt

September Sample

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Robert Winter Books | Audible | Amazon | Itunes

Meet the Author

Robert Winter lives and writes in Provincetown. He is a recovering lawyer who prefers writing about hot men in love much more than drafting a legal brief. He left behind the (allegedly) glamorous world of an international law firm to sit in his home office and dream up ways to torment his characters until they realize they are perfect for each other. When he isn’t writing, Robert likes to cook Indian food and explore new restaurants.

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Meet the Narrator

Kale Williams lends his voice to bring to life romance books of all stripes. Known for his distinct characterizations and natural intimate storytelling, he is as comfortable with the cowboys on the prairie as he is with the cops of the big city, from the slow burn to the hot steam to the HEA. Love is love is love.

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The Stark Divide by J. Scott Coatsworth #ReleaseDay #SciFi #LGBT #Spotlight

 

 

J. Scott Coatsworth has a new queer sci fi book out:

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

DSP Publications (eBook) | DSP Publications (paperback) | Amazon | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | QueeRomance Ink | Smashwords | Goodreads


Excerpt

DRESSLER, SCHEMATIC,” Colin McAvery, ship’s captain and a third of the crew, called out to the ship-mind.

A three-dimensional image of the ship appeared above the smooth console. Her five living arms, reaching out from her central core, were lit with a golden glow, and the mechanical bits of instrumentation shone in red. In real life, she was almost two hundred meters from tip to tip.

Between those arms stretched her solar wings, a ghostly green film like the sails of the Flying Dutchman.

“You’re a pretty thing,” he said softly. He loved these ships, their delicate beauty as they floated through the starry void.

“Thank you, Captain.” The ship-mind sounded happy with the compliment—his imagination running wild. Minds didn’t have real emotions, though they sometimes approximated them.

He cross-checked the heading to be sure they remained on course to deliver their payload, the man-sized seed that was being dragged on a tether behind the ship. Humanity’s ticket to the stars at a time when life on Earth was getting rapidly worse.

All of space was spread out before him, seen through the clear expanse of plasform set into the ship’s living walls. His own face, trimmed blond hair, and deep brown eyes, stared back at him, superimposed over the vivid starscape.

At thirty, Colin was in the prime of his career. He was a starship captain, and yet sometimes he felt like little more than a bus driver. After this run… well, he’d have to see what other opportunities might be awaiting him. Maybe the doc was right, and this was the start of a whole new chapter for mankind. They might need a guy like him.

The walls of the bridge emitted a faint but healthy golden glow, providing light for his work at the curved mechanical console that filled half the room. He traced out the T-Line to their destination. “Dressler, we’re looking a little wobbly.” Colin frowned. Some irregularity in the course was common—the ship was constantly adjusting its trajectory—but she usually corrected it before he noticed.

“Affirmative, Captain.” The ship-mind’s miniature chosen likeness appeared above the touch board. She was all professional today, dressed in a standard AmSplor uniform, dark hair pulled back in a bun, and about a third life-sized.

The image was nothing more than a projection of the ship-mind, a fairy tale, but Colin appreciated the effort she took to humanize her appearance. Artificial mind or not, he always treated minds with respect.

“There’s a blockage in arm four. I’ve sent out a scout to correct it.”

The Dressler was well into slowdown now, her pre-arrival phase as she bled off her speed, and they expected to reach 43 Ariadne in another fifteen hours.

Pity no one had yet cracked the whole hyperspace thing. Colin chuckled. Asimov would be disappointed. “Dressler, show me Earth, please.”

A small blue dot appeared in the middle of his screen.

Dressler, three dimensions, a bit larger, please.” The beautiful blue-green world spun before him in all its glory.

Appearances could be deceiving. Even with scrubbers working tirelessly night and day to clean the excess carbon dioxide from the air, the home world was still running dangerously warm.

He watched the image in front of him as the East Coast of the North American Union spun slowly into view. Florida was a sliver of its former self, and where New York City’s lights had once shone, there was now only blue. If it had been night, Fargo, the capital of the Northern States, would have outshone most of the other cities below. The floods that had wiped out many of the world’s coastal cities had also knocked down Earth’s population, which was only now reaching the levels it had seen in the early twenty-first century.

All those new souls had been born into a warm, arid world.

We did it to ourselves. Colin, who had known nothing besides the hot planet he called home, wondered what it had been like those many years before the Heat.


Author Bio

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Enticed into fantasy and sci fi by his mom at the tender age of nine, he devoured her Science Fiction Book Club library. But as he grew up, he wondered where all the people like him were in the books he was reading.

He decided that it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at his local bookstore. If there weren’t gay characters in his favorite genres, he would remake them to his own ends.

His friends say Scott’s mind works a little differently – he sees relationships between things that others miss, and gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He loves to transform traditional sci fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

Starting in 2014, Scott has published more than 15 works, including two novels and a number of novellas and short stories.

He runs both Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband Mark, sites that bring queer people together to promote and celebrate fiction that reflects their own lives.

Return of the Chauffeur’s Son by Tara Lain #BlogTour #Review #Contemporary #LGBT #Giveaway

Will the promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery see the dark, quiet lure of his long time crush’s conservative older brother, Dylan Armstrong?

 

Return of the Chauffeur’s Son
By Tara Lain
 
Blurb: 
Luca McGrath may be returning to Napa Valley, California, as a promising chef with dreams of starting his own restaurant and winery, but his heart still lives with the bad-boy son of a billionaire, James Armstrong. Luca spent his childhood playing games with the golden boy of California society, so blinded by James he barely noticed the dark, quiet lure of his conservative older brother, Dylan Armstrong.
But now Luca’s home, and his own powers of attraction are enough to make James question his dedicated heterosexuality and his promised marriage to a wealthy and powerful businesswoman. The obvious attraction between Luca and James spurs Dylan into action—but he’s fighting a huge secret. While Luca dreamed of James, Dylan dreamed of Luca. When Luca gets caught in the struggle between the brothers and gets accused of culinary espionage he’s ready to chuck the fairy tale—unable to even imagine Dylan’s power to make his dreams come true.

 

         

 

 

Excerpt

 

 That soft, deep voice slithered up his spine and filled his brain with even more fog. He turned and watched Dylan amble toward him across the grass, dressed in black jeans and a black long-sleeved T-shirt. He moves like a cat. “I’m not sure I’ve ever seen you in anything but a suit before.”“It does happen—occasionally.” Dylan half smiled.

“They should star you in a movie about a panther that turns into a human.”

Cat People?”

Luca cocked his head. “You know that old movie?”

“Yes. Movies are a passion of mine.”

“Seriously. I thought you just worked all the time.”

“Surprise.” His light green eyes sparkled.

Luca leaned back against the fence. “What are some of your favorites?”

Dylan stepped to the fence and leaned against it too, about two feet from Luca. Do I really feel heat coming off his skin? Luca took a deep breath.

Dylan looked up at the stars. “I love No Country for Old Men.”

Luca barked a little laugh.

Dylan glanced at him. “Funny?”

“It’s just the stereotype of the powerful businessman taking out his enemies wholesale. Sorry.”

“Okay. Well, I love The Notebook.”

“You’re kidding?”

“Nope. I don’t think it’s a great movie, but I do love the chemistry between the young couple.”

“Yeah, the old couple’s story was even too sappy for me.”

“I love Michael Clayton.”

“No shit!” Luca chuckled. “One of the least appreciated movies ever. Love that film.”

“But I’ll see almost anything with Tilda Swinton in it.”

“Me too.” He shook his head. How could they have so much in common?

“I also love My Fair Lady.”

“Now you are joking.”

Dylan smiled and gazed at Luca. “No, I’m not joking. I’m gay. Remember?”

The word felt like a karate chop to the windpipe. “Uh, right. Sometimes I forget.”

“So, how’s the new job?”

“Uh, wonderful. They really want me to develop new recipes and dishes. It’s what I love—along with wine making.”

“Oh? You’re interested in viticulture?”

Luca nodded. “Part of my degree is in winery management.”

Dylan pushed away from the fence. “You’re a man of many talents, Luca.”

 What the fuck did he mean by that?

Dylan strolled a few feet toward the house.

Luca said, “By the way, I wanted you to know that James invited my dad and me to your party and polo match this weekend.”

That got his attention. He looked back with a crease between the beautiful eyes. “Oh? When did he do that?”

“Earlier tonight, when he and Nila had dinner at the restaurant. She seconded the invitation and, since it’s kind of her party, I figured it would be okay.” Did that sound like he had a chip on his shoulder?

“Then I’m sure it must be okay.”

Luca stared at the grass. “If you ever want somebody to watch a movie with, just holler.” Crap! He wanted to bite off the tip of his tongue.

Dylan looked equally astonished. “I’ll keep that in mind.” He turned and walked into the shadows.

 Why the hell did I say that? The sound of the big house door opening and closing carried across the quiet space.

 Dylan just looks so lonely.

 And so damned beautiful.

 

Review
I was provided a copy for an honest review.
I love Tara Lain’s work. I was given the opportunity to review and post for the blog tour, and I jumped on it. The blurb hooked me, and seemed somewhat familiar, but I couldn’t put my finger on it. I saw mention, I think in the book itself, that it was based on a favorite movie of Tara’s. So, I went searching. Sure enough, you have to see Sabrina (of which I had seen and loved it) with Audrey Hepburn (there is a remake later) to get the idea of this tale. Thank you Google fu and Tara for doing a MM version.
Tara did a beautiful job of this retailing of a classic love story. Luca McGrath is the son of the billionaire Armstrong family’s chauffeur who dreamed of the heterosexual bad-boy James. Meanwhile, the older brother, Dylan, has dreamed about Luca. We see the start of something between James and Luca despite a female fiance, but there grows the attraction between Luca and Dylan that has everyone involved confused but the families themselves. There is much dating and making between both he and James and he and Dylan as Luca’s affection changes from one to the other. I wanted to find out how it worked out in the backdrop of Luca’s working as a Chef for a local spotlighted contest, subsequent accusations of espionage with the rival restaurant, and Luca coming into his own.
I did have a little trouble with how long it took Dylan to realize his love for Luca, but it all worked out and I’m happy with the storyline. There is an HEA, and I won’t go more into the dynamics between the brothers and Luca. Needless to say, family is everything including those that you make. Overall, it was a great story that everyone should read even if you haven’t see the movie it’s based on. I give it 4.5 stars out of 5.
Eloreen
About the Author

Tara Lain writes the Beautiful Boys of Romance in LGBT erotic romance novels that star her unique, charismatic heroes. Her first novel was published in January of 2011 and she’s now somewhere around book 32. Her best-selling novels have garnered awards for Best Series, Best Contemporary Romance, Best Paranormal Romance, Best Ménage, Best LGBT Romance, Best Gay Characters, and Tara has been named Best Writer of the Year in the LRC Awards. In her other job, Tara owns an advertising and public relations firm. She often does workshops on both author promotion and writing craft.  She lives with her soul-mate husband and her soul-mate dog near the sea in California where she sets a lot of her books.  Passionate about diversity, justice, and new experiences, Tara says on her tombstone it will say “Yes”!
You can find Tara at Lain

               



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Flight by Eloreen Moon published in @MischiefCorner’s Flight #NewRelease #Anthology #FlashFiction


front-coverThe 2016 Queer Sci Fi Flash Fiction anthology, “Flight”, is here, and I have a story in it! It’s a really cool concept:

A 300-word story should be easy, right? Many of our entrants say it’s the hardest thing they’ve ever written.

Queer Sci Fi’s Annual Flash Fiction Contest challenges authors to write a complete LGBTQ speculative fiction micro-story on a specific theme. “Flight” leaves much for the authors to interpret—winged creatures, flight and space vehicles, or fleeing from dire circumstances.

Some astonishing stories were submitted—from horrific, bloodcurdling pieces to sweet, contemplative ones—and all LGBTQ speculative fiction. The stories in this anthology include AI’s and angels, winged lions and wayward aliens. Smart, snappy slice of life pieces written for entertainment or for social commentary. Join us for brief and often surprising trips into 110 speculative fiction authors’ minds.

The book us available in eBook form (4.99), and will soon be available in paperback with b/w illustrations inside (12.99) and in a special collector’s edition with color illustrations (24.99).


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Excerpt

We lay on the earth caressed by its illusionary
Comfort, as we recover from love’s flight.
“We have to go back, you know,” I say
Wistfully, wanting things to be different.
“I know,” he says wistful as well.

5 Star #Review of “Pib’s Dragon” (Twisted Fairy Tales 1) by Beany Sparks #LGBT #Romance #Fantasy #ReleaseDay

Moonbeams over Atlanta welcomes guest Beany Sparks for insight on and review of her book Pib’s Dragon published by Rainbow Ninja Press with general release today.

Hi Eloreen *waves*

Thanks for having me 🙂

Okay so I’m here for a quick chat about Pib’s Dragon!

The book is the first in a multi-author series called Twisted Fairy Tales. Authors will be taking some well-known (and some not so well-known) fairy tales and twisting them together.

Pib’s Dragon was supposed to be my only contribution to the series but as I was writing it, a couple of other characters started jumping up and down wanting their story. So there will be a sequel, tentatively titled Del’s Wolf, which I’m hoping to get started on this weekend. I have an idea of what I’m going to do with it so now all I need to do is sit down and write (not always easy to do though).  But I’m looking forward to spending some more time with my cheeky serval and his dragon mate because they will definitely be around in the sequel.

After Del’s Wolf is done, I’ll be going back to Arcane Magic. Book 2 was started before Pib pushed his way to the front so I need to finish that one. I might go straight on to Book 3 but we’ll see. PITA (my muse) has a way of helping other characters push their way to the front and demand attention *glares at muse*

Eloreen: How did the idea of the Twisted Fairy Tales get started?

Um, it was a while ago that the series came to mind. It’s been so long that the idea came to me that I can’t even remember what sparked the idea. I do remember talking to Ellen (Cross) at the time and whatever we were talking about had my mind spinning with ideas.

Eloreen: Who inspired you to write?

I always let my mind wander and came up with stories to amuse myself when I was driving or at work but it wasn’t until a couple of friends encouraged me to try that I decided to give it a go. Once PITA was let out, I had no way of getting him back in his box.

Eloreen: Who designed the cover for Pib’s Dragon? 

Um, I did. I got to a point in the story where Arty (my artistic muse) demanded a cover for the story so I had to stop writing and get a cover done before I could continue. Once I had the background for the cover, I had to come up with a title. Pib’s Dragon was initially just a temporary title, but then it fit the story so I kept it. It also made it easier to pick the title for the sequel.

Eloreen: Do you write to an outline or off the cuff (a pantster)?

I’m a total pantser! I’ve tried to plot out the stories but every time I did, PITA would take the story in a completely different direction so I gave up. I might have a basic idea or plan, but nothing else. I also find that sometime as the story progresses, my initial idea doesn’t fit the story. The initial idea I had for Pib’s Dragon was a bit different to how it actually ended up but I’m happy with the end result. Del’s Wolf has a number of things that I need to make sure get resolved, and I’ve got an idea of how the story will go, but there are a lot of unplanned sections. I can’t wait to see what happens!

Eloreen: Thank you Beany. 🙂 I love the cover, btw. Continue on for the review of this great story. I can’t wait for Del’s Wolf. 😉

The Blurb:

A dragon is about to find out what happens when a cat discovers his cave of shiny treasures.

After nine years, Pib is finally free from his contract with the newly wed prince. Slipping out in the middle of the night to avoid getting stuck in another contract, Pib shifts into his cat and makes his way home to the little village he foolishly left, hoping his best friend Wil still lives there.

Dray is bored. His services as a princess-guarding dragon are no longer needed and even his gold and jewels are unable to cheer him up. His mood changes quickly when he catches someone in his treasure cave, and it starts a series of events that change his life forever.

When the two finally meet, sparks fly, but Dray will have to move quickly if he’s to save his cat after Pib gets kidnapped.

Pib's Dragon - 600x900

 

Excerpt:

Prologue

Pib snuck into the darkened room, tiptoeing quietly so as not to wake the newly crowned prince Geraint and his princess. Looking around, he both thanked and cursed his shifter senses. While he was grateful he could see inside the room, the smell of sex throughout the air was something he could have done without.

Reaching the desk on the far side of the room, he paused and glanced at the couple. Once he was satisfied they were still asleep, he eased open the cover and found what he was after—his freedom. After nine long years as the bastard’s slave, the letter freeing him from servitude almost brought tears to his eyes. Carefully folding it and placing it in his inside pocket, Pib gently shut the desk and tiptoed back toward the bedroom door, leaving the room as silently as he’d entered.

He knew there was only a limited window of opportunity for him to make his escape. Even though the pompous bastard had made a production of signing the form and granting him his freedom, Pib knew it was all for show. If he didn’t escape now, Geraint would get him alone and force him to sign another contract and then make some sort of bogus announcement about how Pib wanted to stay.

Pib snorted, unable to help himself. Luckily there was no one else around the castle at this time of the night, though even if there was, Pib didn’t care. He was leaving, and no one was going to stop him. Anyone who tried would have a close encounter with his knife, or his claws, he wasn’t picky.

“Hey, Pib, where are you off to in the middle of the night?” asked the guard at the front door of the castle. Pib never bothered learning their names or getting friendly with them, especially since Geraint could force him to kill any of them at a moment’s notice. He’d learned that it didn’t pay for him to form any attachments with those surrounding Geraint.

“Getting an early start on my retirement,” Pib replied, smirking at the man while he continued to stroll toward the exit.

“Sorry, Pib, but I have to check. Do you have a signed letter from Prince Geraint?” The guard shifted from foot to foot, showing his unease.

Pib stopped in front of him and forced a smile. “Of course,” he said, carefully extracting the letter and handing it over to the guard.

He waited, watching the guard closely as he read the letter. One wrong move and Pib was going to gut him. Nothing could happen to that letter.

“Looks good,” the guard said, handing the letter back to Pib. “It’ll sure be different without you around, but all the best. And, uh, don’t take this the wrong way, but I hope I don’t see you again.”

Returning the letter to his pocket, Pib looked up and smiled a real smile at the man. He wanted to laugh when the guard’s face paled as he caught sight of Pib’s canines, but restrained himself. “Don’t worry, I hope never to see you again either.”

With that, Pib walked out of the castle and made his way through the sleeping village. Pulling his hood up, he used the dark material to blend into the surroundings. He wasn’t taking any chances that Geraint wouldn’t wake up any moment and send guards running after him. After all, Pib was practically friends with all of the skeletons in Geraint’s closet.

Pib reached the edge of the village and paused. After nine long years, he was finally free of Geraint, his orders, and most importantly, his shackle. The magical cuff that had decorated his right ankle for nine years had been removed after Geraint had signed his release. The cuff was the only thing ensuring Pib’s obedience, and finally, it was gone.

Taking a deep breath, Pib stepped over the invisible boundary line and felt the remaining enchantments shatter and disappear, leaving him standing as his true self for the first time in years. Reaching inside, he called out his inner cat to come out and play, and in seconds, his clothes disappeared and he was standing on all fours in his serval form. Stretching, he threw one last glance back at the castle and the village before slinking away into the trees, using the natural camouflage to shield him as he made his way toward the start of his new life.

The Review:

Rainbow Nina Press provided the story to me for an honest review.  I read the blurb above and was intrigued by a story about a dragon and a cat meeting and getting to know each other.

5 Stars

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While this is the start of a new series, this title can be read as a standalone. This is a fun story full of action, humor, a little mystery, and fun interactions between Pib, the serval, and Dray, the dragon. There are plot abound, twists and turn, that made it interesting and fun to read. The secondary characters are fleshed out and stand on their own. I’m glad that Del will get his own story. 😉 While there is not a lot of sex scenes, the story line more than makes up for it and you just want to go “Awwww” several times. I had to finish it once I started. Luckily, I read fast. 🙂 I definitely will like to see what the other authors will do with this series.

With this, I give Pib’s Dragon 5 stars.

Eloreen Moon

Book Links:

Rainbow Ninja Press | Rainbow Ninja Press – EU Customers | All Romance Ebooks | Smashwords | Amazon | Goodreads

Author Bio:

Beany lives in Western Australia. She first started reading romance novels in 2008, but it wasn’t until January 2010 when her Kindle got delivered that the world of erotic romance opened its doors to her, and she hasn’t looked back. With suggestions and support from friends, her muse—”affectionately” known as PITA—was finally able to break free, and in January 2014 her first story was written. Since she can’t put PITA back in his box, Beany has decided to give in and team up with him.

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