Top 10 Jane Austen Adaptations in Honor of High Balls! #PrideandPrejudice

Hi — Do you love Jane Austen? I do and i had a great time in my recent release, High Balls, inventing my hero’s PhD thesis that explored the direct connection between Jane Austen novels and the modern day romance novel market. Then i found this great video that goes through the Top 10 movies and TV adaptations of Jane Austen novels. I really like their choices. When i was watching it and got to #3 being Pride and Prejudice I figured they’d made a mistake since no movie was better than that. But they are right IMO. See what you think.

Thank you for coming by! : )

Tara Lain’s Cowboys are 30% OFF! #DreamspinnerPress

Hi —

What a great sale. Dreamspinner Press is offering 30% off of all their Cowboy romances — and that includes two of mine. If you haven’r read them yet, this is a great time to give them a try.

Cowboys Don’t Come Out is a unique story of a California cowboy who goes to Hawaii for a vacation with his parents and meets a Hawaiian paniolo, the Hawaiian cowboys. In fact, Hawaii had cowboys before the mainland, so it’s an interesting tradition. Both men have lots to hide plus the fact that one is just a tourist makes romance seem unlikely — but never fear. Great time to grab the book at 30% off! HERE

Cowboys Don’t Ride Unicorns matches a hunky bullrider and the most femme of femmes — who also happens to be a top in bed. That combo is rare as a unicorn! The story of Danny and Laurie is a lot of fun with some angst along the way. While characters from the first book show up in this one, it can be read as a stand alone with no problem. Grab it at 30% off HERE.

To read excerpts from these two books, just click on the titles. They are also available in paperback and in audio as well as translations.

High Praise for HIGH BALLS by Tara Lain #TopPick #5Stars

Hi! I’m back from my vacation — which turned out to be a staycation since we weren’t able to take our trip due to changing schedules. I did get to go to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park on Monday, my actual birthday, and that’s one of my favorite things to do, so i had fun. My nicest gift was all the lovely praise for my new release, High Balls, that came in while i was gone. Thank you to all who have bought, read, reviewed, commented and messaged me about how much they like the book!

Yesterday, Night Owl Reviews named High Balls a Top Pick! ELF, the reviewer, said, ““High Balls” by Tara Lain reminds me of why I have long been a fan of this author. Her stories address painful and realistic subjects in a fashion that reminds us that there is light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how dark it seems. I always finish her books with a satisfied and uplifted attitude, and this story really was wonderful to read during the dark times we are living in, and my favorite, in a series that has featured some wonderful and unique men. I adore reminders that one needs to look beyond the surface before making an intelligent judgment, and Snake epitomizes that precept. Young Andy is beautifully presented and serves as a great reminder that children are definitely shaped (and sometimes scarred) by the adults who should be their role models. And who can resist Theodore, with his wonderful defense of romance novels and his unselfish devotion to his young son?”

A Kindle Fan called her 5 Star Review “My New Favorite” and said, “First of all I loved Teddy and Snake. The whole story is pure Tara. She makes situations so real. Emotions are so well portrayed you can feel them. As usual there is so much love in this story. The love between a father and child. The love of a new relationship. The love of a tight-knit group of friends become family. This is a true love story. Enjoy!”

Veronica at V’s Reads, says “For me, I loved the tenderness, and interactions between Theo, Andy and Snake. It’s a fun juxtaposition, this strapping biker-ish guy and the curious child, but they make great co-conspirators. Snake loves his “Teddy Bear” and he’s set to prove it any way he can. And, he’s not afraid to go to Theo’s friends and ask for their help, either. All the boys of the Ball to the Walls books assist Theo or Snake as they ensure Theo’s thesis gets fair treatment, and Andy’s paternity is affirmed. It’s a feel-good romance with a sweet HEA to enjoy.”

Lorraine L. says 5 Stars and “Tara Lain may have helped me in curing my phobia of snakes. I’ve finally one that’s doesn’t want to make me run away. This one however is not only pierced, has tats, big, oozes sex appeal and goes by the name of …..Snake Erasmo.
Now I don’t want to take the limelight away from the truly wonderful Theo, because he was special as well and of course the adorable Andy, but Snake was the naughty forbidden fruit for me.”

And these are just a few. Check out a bunch of great reviews on AMAZON. Or just click on the High Balls page. Thank you for stopping by and helping make this book a great success. And if you’re a Peter Pan fan, you might be surprised at how Peter and Wendy might look if Wendy happened to be Wendell and both guys were gay in my upcoming release Never, the next Pennymaker Tale, available November 3rd.

Special Guest: Mary Calmes with A Day Makes!

Hi. This is Tara. Thank you for stopping by the blog. I’m on vacation right now — the first longer-than-a-weekend vacay I’ve taken in years that didn’t include writing workshops. While I’m gone, I invited a bunch of my friends — some of your fave authors — to stop by and share their news and new releases. I know you’ll love it. Enjoy. Talk soon. : )

Please welcome author Mary Calmes

 

 

A Day Makes
By Mary Calmes

Blurb: 
First from The Vault

Mob enforcer Ceaton Mercer has killed a lot of people in a lot of different ways—he stashed the last two bodies in a toolshed belonging to a sweetheart marine researcher in an idyllic island community—but he’s really not such a bad guy. Over time he’s found a home of sorts, and he even learns he’s found a place in the hearts of the people he works with… at least enough so that they won’t put a bullet in his head because he’s outlived his usefulness to the boss.

But he never thought he’d find one day could change his life, and he’s about to discover how wrong he is.

Because in a single day, he meets the man who looks to be the one, the love of his life. It’s an improbable idea—a man who deals in death finding love—but it’s like it’s meant to be. That single day gets weirder and troubles pile up, forcing Ceaton to take a hard look at his dreary life and accept that one day can change everything, especially himself. His future might be brighter than he expects—if he can stay alive long enough to find out.

 

Available for purchase at
Dreamspinner | Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible | Nook | B&N Paperback | Kobo | iBooks

Excerpt

 

Chapter Two

BEING MOB muscle was probably not a lot of people’s idea of being safe and sound, but for me, it was grounding. There’s comfort in knowing exactly what you’re supposed to be doing at any given moment. It’s what I loved about being in the Marines, the lack of questions. Being on Grigor’s payroll was similar. I knew what to do when I got up, where to go, who to check in with, and that I was to follow up with Grigor if I found any issues.

What started out as me standing in the background, listening, watching, changed over the past eighteen months to me leading. Grigor grew to trust me to get things done without him having to be there with me or me having to check in with him. I was not a guy who needed to be micromanaged, and he appreciated that. Since he traveled almost exclusively with Doran Loncar, who was in charge of his protection, that left me, Pravi, Marko, and Luka Novak to do the things Grigor preferred not to dirty his hands with.

For instance, Grigor didn’t want to talk to the drug pushers. He had no interest in meeting them, handing out the product, or making sure that what was sold and the money that came in balanced. Marko wasn’t terribly patient with that either. I’d been surprised that there was a Russian in Grigor’s inner circle, once I figured out that everyone else was Serbian, and it turned out that Marko was just as amazed by my inclusion.

“How did you start working for Grigor?” I asked Marko one day, drunk enough that I was brave and sober enough to process the answer.

“Grigor and my old boss, they wanted to do business, but there was no trust.”

“Sure.”

“So they switched us, me for him. I would protect Grigor; Grigor’s man Todor, he would protect Bohdan.”

“But?”

He leaned forward on the table, looking at me, and I realized he was sloshed too. “Todor, he was no good, and Bohdan died choking on own blood.”

“What’d you do?”

“I gut Todor and killed man who came after Grigor in the night.”

“Did whoever took over for Bohdan want you back?”

He lifted his brows to indicate the yes. “But already, my loyalty was for Grigor. If I went back—with new boss there, I start at bottom.”

“That sucks.”

“Da.”

I blinked. “How come ‘yes’ is the same in Serbian and Russian?”

He stared at me.

“That’s weird, right?”

He tipped his head back and forth like, maybe.

“We’re bonding, am I right?”

The look I got told me the jury was still out, but that was okay. We were the two odd ducks, the two everyone else gave the side-eye to when they first met us, which, of course, made us closer. He was the one I ended up taking with me whenever I went to talk to club owners, another thing Grigor didn’t like to do.

Collecting protection money on a large scale was something Grigor approved of. Nothing small, no mom-and-pop gas stations, no diners, no quaint little bed and breakfasts. Big dance clubs, lounges, restaurants, and anyone who owned a string of something like car dealerships, food trucks, check-cashing places were fair game. He liked funds rolling in, but again, going to those places, showing his face, was not his bag.

Not that I blamed him. As the head of the Serbian mob in Las Vegas, making deals with drug cartel kingpins was more glamorous than collecting money from pimps, running down leads from guys who stole guns or product from us, or killing people. With me in charge of those efforts, Grigor drew further and further away from anything remotely criminal. And while no one was stupid enough to think that Grigor Jankovic was completely on the up-and-up, he couldn’t be directly tied to anything particularly illegal… at least on paper. The dirt had to be excavated, and since no one could get a warrant to do any digging, he looked really good from the outside.

He made huge real estate deals to buy and sell hotels as well as investments in startups, casinos he had his fingers in, and the stock market. He built a wing in the local children’s hospital that he got to do the ribbon cutting for when it opened. He donated a shit-ton of money to the symphony and got his own private box, and he really enjoyed flipping mansions. Not big houses, but actual mansions that sold in the millions. When he took over a strip mall that turned into an urban renewal project, he couldn’t be seen in public with me and the others anymore. Only his lawyer, his accountant, and Doran were allowed in photographs with him. The rest of us were a little too shady.

When he was invited to a fundraiser for the mayor, I thought Marko was going to choke on his laughter.

“What?” Pravi asked.

“Is so—” Marko looked at me, gesturing with his fingers, searching for the word in English. “How do you say—against what is right?”

“Hypocritical?”

“Da.”

Pravi nodded. “He doesn’t do his own killing.”

“That’s what we’re for,” I told him.

On his way out the following night, before he left in the limousine in his Armani tuxedo with his socialite tobacco heiress girlfriend on his arm, he stopped and passed me a box. I got a pat on the cheek, and then he was gone.

Inside, there was a nickel-plated Armscor Rock Island Armory M1911A1 with pearl grips. It was gorgeous, and just like the one he carried. I was very touched.

“Is pussy gun,” Marko said at dinner later that night after we’d made our runs. Luka Novak, who had joined the crew right before me, still lived at home with his mother, and when we dropped him off—or tried to—she always made sure we had a little something to eat before we went home.

At the moment, she was bustling around the table, having made goulash that smelled like heaven, cheese rolls, and Salcici—sort of a puffed pastry filled with jam—for dessert.

“She’s cooking too much for us,” I told Luka, smiling up at Mrs. Novak as she stopped behind me, put her hands on my face, and then pressed a kiss to my cheek.

“What about my nice nephew, Ceaton. He asked after you last Friday after Mass.”

I whimpered and looked at Luka, who pretended to be very interested in his roll.

“Oh, Ma, the cheese in here is so good.”

She was delighted and flitted off to get him a couple more.

“You should have never told anyone you were gay,” Pravi stated. “It was a mistake. Now all the mothers who have a son who doesn’t want to get married to a woman have their sights set on you.”

“Was mistake,” Marko agreed.

“At least they’re trying to get me laid,” I chimed in. “That’s nice.”

“They’re trying to get you married,” Pravi said, enlightening me. “Which is not so nice.”

The issue was, besides the occasional blind date, I wasn’t seeing anyone at all. There wasn’t time. Much like the other guys, if I had an itch, if the lack of sex went so long that I thought I was going to die, then I’d find some guy willing and able to help me out. I got the occasional fuck, but what I did couldn’t actually be classified as one-night stands because they never took that long.

I’d hooked up with men in bathrooms, in the backseat of cars, in alleys, and very rarely, in their apartments. It made no sense to follow someone all the way home and be leaving fifteen, twenty minutes later. It could have lasted longer, but I just wanted to get off and go. Kissing was a lost art with me; I had no interest, it took so much time. Fucking was about fast and dirty and hot and done.

I tried to want more from people, but no one held my interest at all. I never stopped dead in my tracks, overwhelmed by another person’s beauty or allure. I noticed men, but no one made my whole body go still in anticipation of the next words out of their mouth. I’d never stood transfixed in another person’s glow.

Not that I didn’t want to find a man who made me look at him twice. I had dreams of finding the one, the guy who would care as much about my mind as he did about my body. I had the whole lazy Sunday morning fantasy going on, where making love and talking were spread out through the entire day.

But my reality was guys hanging upside down on meat hooks while Marko carved pieces out of them so their boss or their friends didn’t fuck with Grigor. We had to intimidate and enforce, collect and distribute; it was a full-time job that did not leave a lot of time for dating. What I realized, however, was that despite all that, I was still a romantic at heart. And while it was difficult, surrounded by death, by the solitary existence I led outside of work, I still took every corner wondering if this was the turn that would lead me to the one.

It wouldn’t be easy, with the company I kept.

“You should not be married,” Marko said, interrupting my thoughts. “To leave someone behind to bury you is not kind.”

I shot him what I hoped was a pained look.

He scowled quickly. “Is true.”

“Wouldn’t it be worth it to find love?”

“For who?” He arched an eyebrow at me.

“And is it fair to drag a nice person into this life of guns and death?” Pravi posed. “I say no.”

Both fair points.

Marko tipped his head at the new gun in my holster. “You should not carry that. People will try and take it from you for no good reason. A man who carries that kind of gun has small dick.”

I smiled at him. “Grigor carries the same gun, asshole.”

He shrugged and leaned sideways, lifting a gun from his ankle holster and passing it to me. It was a Sig Sauer P226. “Take this.”

“I don’t need a new gun, M,” I assured him. “I have the one I got originally, and now I have one that’s really fancy.”

“Is too fancy,” he declared, using my word, enunciating it and making it sound stupid. “And this one I give you, I have Osprey silencer that fits it. You need this.”

I glanced over at Pravi, whose mouth was hanging open, and then at Luka, whose eyes were huge and round. I understood why. Marko didn’t hand out firearms to just anyone.

Leaning sideways, I bumped against him and was surprised when he didn’t let me straighten up instantly, instead curling his hand around my cheek and pressing me to his shoulder for a second. I had no idea he was capable of any sort of warmth at all, so really, I was as shocked as the others.

I told Grigor when I saw him the next afternoon how much I loved the gun but that carrying it would bring attention, even under my coat, and that wasn’t a good idea. The idea was to be forgettable, not memorable in any way.

“So the gun is too pretty?”

“Yeah.”

He squinted at me. “It’s the same gun I carry.”

“You seldom carry a gun anymore.”

“True.”

“And when you are strapped, I’m thinking you carry this one to be memorable. Am I right?” I asked, hoping it would make sense to him. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings over the fact that I wasn’t going to use his gift, but Marko was right. It was too flashy for me.

His nod, along with the smirk, made me laugh.

“You are not as easy to forget as you think,” he assured me. “You’re a handsome man, Ceaton Mercer. All the women ask after you.”

I grunted.

“You’re lucky you’re gay, or I’d have to get rid of you.”

“Oh?”

“No man wants to be in competition with his own, and I have enough problems already with Pravi.”

He was right about that. Pravi gave new meaning to the words “smooth operator.” The charm that oozed off that man was lethal. A few times there had been a woman on Grigor’s arm who had watched Pravi with the eyes of a huntress. And even as I thought about the ridiculousness of the conversation, I saw how flat Grigor’s stare had become as he gazed off into the distance.

He didn’t like being second in any area of his life, and that included being the best-looking of us. I hadn’t really considered the idea that his ego would extend to something so small and petty.

“Yeah, but you like your women classy,” I commented, going with the pretext that we were just shooting the shit and that this wasn’t, possibly, a life-and-death discussion for Pravi. “And your boy likes them easy.”

It took a moment, but my words sank in, and he turned and grinned at me. “Yes, that’s true. Pravi has a definite type.”

I snorted out a laugh. “And it ain’t the same as yours. Can you imagine Brooke Collingsworth looking twice at Pravi?”

She was Grigor’s latest socialite, her father worth a cool billion.

“No,” he replied smugly, “she would not.”

I shrugged. “So who cares.”

He nodded and gestured for me to sit with him.

I was about to do as he asked when the door opened and Jaja came rushing into the living room and over to Grigor. She grabbed his hand and told him that something was wrong with Sonya.

Normally Sonya, Jaja’s youngest daughter, called Grigor every Sunday while he was hungover and watching soccer. They had been raised together, and he thought of her as more of a sister than a cousin. Because it was his veg day and the one day a week she didn’t have classes or have to work, always, without fail, they spoke at some time between one and four. Now he looked at the time and saw that it was only three, so he told her not to worry.

“No,” she insisted, her grip on his hand tightening. “A mother knows. I know.”

He stared at his aunt for a moment and then turned to me. “Go check on Sonya.”

“Going now,” I agreed, getting on my phone and calling Pravi. “I’ll call when we get there,” I said to Grigor before I walked out the door.

Luka, Marko, Pravi, and I were on a plane for Boston two hours later.

 

 

About The Author

Mary Calmes believes in romance, happily ever afters, and the faith it takes for her characters to get there. She bleeds coffee, thinks chocolate should be its own food group, and currently lives in Kentucky with a five-pound furry ninja that protects her from baby birds, spiders and the neighbor’s dogs.

 

You can find Mary at

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon 

 

Special Guest: Damon Suede with Lickety Split

Hi. This is Tara. Thank you for stopping by the blog. I’m on vacation right now — the first longer-than-a-weekend vacay I’ve taken in years that didn’t include writing workshops. While I’m gone, I invited a bunch of my friends — some of your fave authors — to stop by and share their news and new releases. I know you’ll love it. Enjoy. Talk soon. : )

Please welcome author Damon Suede

 

 

Lickety Split
By Damon Suede

Blurb:
Lickety Split: Love won’t wait.

Patch Hastle grew up in a hurry, ditching East Texas for NYC to make his name as a DJ and model without ever looking back. When his parents die unexpectedly, he heads home to unload the family farm ASAP and skedaddle. Except the will left Patch’s worst enemy in charge: his father’s handsome best friend who made his high school years hell.

Tucker Biggs is going nowhere. Twenty years past his rodeo days, he’s put down roots as the caretaker of the Hastle farm. He knows his buddy’s smartass son still hates his guts, but when Patch shows up growed-up, looking like sin in tight denim, Tucker turns his homecoming into a lesson about old dogs and new kinks.

Patch and Tucker fool around, but they can’t fool themselves. Once the farm’s sold, they mean to call it quits and head off to separate sunsets. With the clock ticking, the city slicker and his down-home hick get roped into each other’s life. If they’re gonna last longer than spit on a griddle, they better figure out what matters—fast.

Available for purchase at
Dreamspinner | Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Nook |B&N Paperback | Kobo | iBooks

Excerpt

 In this excerpt from Chapter Four, the day after their first awkward, intense sexual encounter, Patch takes a dip in the pond not expecting Tucker to show up.

 On the big rock near the pond’s center, Patch stood again and scraped the water from his wavy hair. He had a memory of his pa balancing him on a horse as a boy. Steady now. The sun felt like heaven through his closed eyes. He turned and dove back in.Even at its deepest, the water only came up to his chest and the carp in the weeds weren’t something he’d ever eat. The bottom was broken rock at one end and cool mud at the other.

Patch had learned to jerk off against those flat rocks, snuck beers, and smoked the only two cigarettes of his life too. Sophomore year, he’d fooled around on the rockier shore with teammates because it was private and navigable in the dark. Against that tree, he’d kissed his first girl (meh) and blown his first boy (yeah!).

“Afternoon.”

Patch stiffened and straightened, twisted to face the gravelly drawl with a cold twist in his gut.

Tucker stood on the opposite shore in Carhartt overalls and that straw work hat. His muscular arms looked tan and greasy against his white undershirt. “I guess we had the same idea.” He glanced at the sky, the water. “It’s hot as a whorehouse on nickel night.” He shifted his weight but came no closer.

A flicker of Tucker naked in the armchair, glittering eyes gazing down at him, the taste of his semen pinning them both in place… Patch blinked it away, hyperconscious of his wet, bare skin and the distance between them. He went no closer to the pebbly shore.

They eyed each other. One Mississippi, two Mississippi, three—

“So…. Uhh.” Tucker took his hat off with one hand and wiped his brow and mouth with the other. “We talking?”

Patch frowned, trapped by his nudity and the water.

“I mean, do we talk about what we done?” Tucker crouched at the water’s edge, his boots sinking into the smooth mud. No one had a right to look that good. “Last night. Or are you fixin’ to run off again?” He said run like a cuss word, painting Patch a coward for having some sense.

Patch started to snap back at him out of habit, but then he thought better of it. “Naw.”

“How you today?” Tucker seemed to be actually asking a legitimate question. “Better?”

He shrugged. “I guess. Sure.” Exposed and motionless, he let Tucker’s gaze rest on him across the water. Whatever had passed between them last night had not vanished in sunlight.

Tucker looked relaxed, and cautious.

Patch swallowed, his shaft fattening underwater. “I shouldn’t have done that.”

He crossed his arms. “Which part?” Tucker squinted. “Come to visit? Squirted the side of my trailer? Eaten my load?”

“None. All.” Knowing it was a mistake, certain he would regret it, he pushed through the cool water toward the one person he had no business wanting. He moved as he would’ve for a racy photo shoot, fucking the imaginary lens with his presence, demanding a reaction.

Tucker watched him warily from under the trees still, overalls hanging from one strap. “I guess we are.” A crooked smile bent the edge of his mouth. “Talking.”

The closer Patch got to the shore the more of his torso was revealed: nipples, navel, and gradually the darkened trail down to his pubes. His dick thickened and shifted in the water, swirling around his waist as he advanced. Now his body was clean but his thoughts were everything else.

Tucker stared as if hypnotized. He wiped his lower face, lip to chin, and swallowed. He was sweating now. Was that a boner in his overalls?

Patch strode in slow motion, stirring the calm pond water as if sleepwalking. He shouldn’t want this so much but couldn’t make himself care. Conscious of the picture he made, he crooked a sinful grin just for effect.

Eyes wider, Tucker stood and took a step back. “Well, okay, now. Okay.”

“You afraid of me now?” Patch paused one step before his erection broke the surface. Tucker stood as if rooted to the shore. “Or you gonna come for a swim?”

“I’m good.” Tucker swallowed and his tongue slipped out to taste his lips. He couldn’t seem to look at Patch’s face. “Fine. Y’know.” His hands squeezed and released beside his pockets.

So Patch took the step that brought his knob out of the water and his boner dripped between them. Way too much fun watching the big cowboy squirm. He’d come out here looking for trouble; Patch was happy to give it to him.

On the shady shore, Tucker rocked back on his heels and shifted his straw hat to cover the lump under his coveralls.

Patch couldn’t look anywhere else. Another step. The cool mud sucked at his toes in the water dripped from his skin with each step he shouldn’t take.

How had he gotten here? Naked on the family farm, thigh-deep in stagnant water, walking toward a bear trap. New York City and all its fancy bullshit seemed like the other side of the world. Hot wind pushed through the trees overhead; the kudzu hissed and the live oaks whispered above them.

Tucker stood waiting and wary now, a sexy, lazy no-account who’d only ever wanted to scare him straight. They both knew better, but now they stood a yard apart with disaster churning between them.

 

About The Author

 

Damon Suede grew up out-n-proud deep in the anus of right-wing America, and escaped as soon as it was legal. Though new to romance fiction, Damon has been writing for print, stage, and screen for two decades. He’s won some awards, but counts his blessings more often: his amazing friends, his demented family, his beautiful husband, his loyal fans, and his silly, stern, seductive Muse who keeps whispering in his ear, year after year.

Get in touch with him at
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon

Special Guest: Z.A. Maxfield With All Wheel Drive!

Hi. This is Tara. Thank you for stopping by the blog. I’m on vacation right now — the first longer-than-a-weekend vacay I’ve taken in years that didn’t include writing workshops. While I’m gone, I invited a bunch of my friends — some of your fave authors — to stop by and share their news and new releases. I know you’ll love it. Enjoy. Talk soon. : )

Please welcome author Z.A. Maxfield

 

All Wheel Drive
(Bluewater Bay #18)
By Z.A. Maxfield

Blurb:
Healey Holly is battered, depressed, and looking to go to ground in his childhood home. He wants to rent the garage apartment, but it’s Diego Luz’s place now, and the last thing Diego wants is to share it.

Diego is recovering too—from the accident that put him in a wheelchair and the death of his mother shortly after. The garage apartment is where he’s keeping his mother’s things, and as long as they’re up those stairs and he’s down on the ground, there’s no way he can deal with his loss. And that’s just how he likes it.

Healey believes in science. Diego believes in luck. It will take a blend of both, and some prayer thrown in besides, for these two to learn that it’s the journey and the destination that matter.

Available to purchase at

Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Nook | B&N Paperback |  Kobo | iBooks 

Excerpt

 

 

Chapter 1

Diego

The man at the door was a mess.

Diego’s first look through the peephole showed a sort of monster silhouette—a weirdly shaped humanoid dragging a wheeled duffel bag.

In the porch light’s acrid yellow glow, the very shape of him set off a boogeyman, stranger-danger skin-crawl. Ruthlessly, he suppressed any instinct for self-preservation and opened the door wide, but his visitor was just an ordinary man with a mass of healing facial wounds, one arm in a cast, and the haunted look of a recent combat veteran. Diego didn’t recognize him, but there was nothing to be scared of. Whatever had happened to him was potentially frightening, but he was only a guy.

“Can I help you?”

“I hope so. I called about the room over the garage?”

“And I told you when you called: I’m not renting it out. I need it for storage. How did you even know—”

“I’m still hoping you’ll change your mind. I grew up around here. I remember the family that used to live here, and I feel like—” The man stopped. Gathered himself. “I need a room for a little while, and if you’re only using it for storage . . .”

Sorrow limned what few features Diego could guess at behind the bandages, healing abrasions, and the shiny pink newness of burns. Dude had shaved his hair on the sides but the top was long, the result being a man-bun swirl of wavy brown hair that looked greasy. How was this guy even keeping himself clean? Despair, and something infinitely worse hung around him like a toxic cloud. Hopelessness.

Diego recognized the man’s helpless anxiety and anguish all too well.

“What’s your name?” he asked.

“John Smith.”

Irritated, Diego eyed him sourly. “I take it you ain’t filling out a rental application?”

“Sure. I’ll fill one out.” It was hard to watch a smile crack those dry, scabbed lips, but it was a nice smile. A friendly smile. Dude wasn’t using it very often, obviously. “I’m thinking of taking up fiction writing as a career anyway.”

“You make it so hard to say no.”

Diego started to close the door, but that soft cast shot out, and Diego didn’t have it in him right then to add injury to . . . injury.

“You want to try and convince me some more?” Diego asked sarcastically. “You want to add you’re also a known terrorist carrying small pox?”

“Two thousand cash a month. Six months tops. It’s a room with a toilet, a sink, and a shower, right?”

“How do you know that? How’d you even get my number?”

Dude’s eyes widened. Then narrowed. “Never mind how I know. My Uber driver left me, and I’ll have to walk all the way to the nearest motel. Where is that, anyway?”

“Three thousand,” Diego countered, “and you move whatever shit’s up there down to the garage.”

“Done.” The dude frowned. “Wait. What’s up there?”

Diego shrugged. “Stuff from my mother’s place, probably. I told the company that moved me to put whatever wasn’t marked for immediate use up there. And since I can’t exactly fly up there to take a look around”—he thumped the wheels of his chair—“I don’t give a shit. Haven’t missed a thing, so whatever’s up there can’t be too important. You move it, hand me thirty Benjamins, and we’re good.”

“Yeah?”

Was that relief on his face? Diego didn’t smile back. “Trial basis. For a month.”

“Fine.”

“Too much drinking, drugging, loud sex? Not fine. Loud parties? Not fine. No one better bother me, leave trash around, or even look at me askance. No redneck music. In fact, give me your number.” He took out his phone, opened the contacts, and let his new tenant type it in. “I control all of the music around here, or you can leave right now. I can’t walk up those stairs but I can light the place on fire from below and rebuild. If you piss me off, I’ll shoot you and tell the police you frightened my permanently-seated ass, and we’ll see who they blame.”

“Askance? Is that a thing now?”

Oh, there it was again. That elusive spark of humor. “It’s always been a thing.”

“I’ll be sure not to do it.”

“All right, then. I’ll get you a key.”

“No need.” Dude reached gingerly into the pocket of his leather jacket. He pulled out a fat wad of cash and a Costco card. “That lock’s always been a piece of shit.”

Diego took the cash, counted it out. “This is only two grand.”

“I’ll get you the rest tomorrow. I’m good for it.”

Diego nodded, wheeled backward, and gave the door a shove to shut it. It banged in the dude’s face, but that was partly the wind. Dude couldn’t blame him for the wind, could he?

So. Now he had a tenant for a bit.

He could have said no.

He could have said hell no.

As soon as the dude got a look at his room, he’d probably come back down. If he caused any trouble, Diego could give back the money and boot his ass. If John Smith gave him any attitude, Diego could call the cops. But that would be a lot of bother to go through, when spending the night in a dank-ass garage apartment with no bed, no food, and a single hanging overhead lightbulb was punishment enough.

A quick look at the time told Diego he’d better call it a night. While he went through the motions getting ready for bed, the part of his brain that remembered the haunted look in his new tenant’s eyes—the part of him that recognized and responded to and acknowledged the unfairness of things and the failure of good people to alleviate human suffering in the long run—listened with half an ear for the sound of boxes being shuffled around.

The man couldn’t move things in his condition. He’d have to ask for help, at which point Diego planned to drive him to the nearest bed-and-waffle-buffet motel. Such a thing would probably cost less than the three grand he’d promised Diego anyway, and sure as fuck nobody’d be feeding him here.

Diego definitely did not think about dust or spiders or other critters. He was not imagining a room he’d never even been in but could visualize from realtor’s photos—wood-paneled walls and vinyl flooring in sickly, faded shades of brown and orange and yellow. But he’d never wanted a tenant. He hadn’t sent anyone but the movers up there after he’d come to Bluewater Bay. Hadn’t cleaned the place. Hadn’t advertised it.

It was almost a public service letting the dude get his fill of it. Returning home after a traumatic event might seem like a good thing to a guy like that. There was a lot to be said for nostalgia. But an old childhood hangout wasn’t the place for someone so physically banged-up, and he’d soon realize it.

What he needed was his family. Friends. Tribe. What he was looking for was safety. Diego could tell him that safety was an illusion, but it looked like he’d already gotten the news.

Even as he grew sleepy, Diego kept an ear tuned for unusual noises.

John Smith’d be back if he couldn’t get the door open. He’d knock if sleeping on the floor beat to hell like that was as fucked up as it sounded.

Diego drifted off to sleep wishing he was the type of guy to treat a man’s pride like it wasn’t as important as his body.

 

About The Author

Z. A. Maxfield started writing in 2007 on a dare from her children and never looked back. Pathologically disorganized, and perennially optimistic, she writes as much as she can, reads as much as she dares, and enjoys her time with family and friends. Three things reverberate throughout all her stories: Unconditional love, redemption, and the belief that miracles happen when we least expect them.

If anyone asks her how a wife and mother of four can find time for a writing career, she’ll answer, “It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you give up housework.”

 

Readers can visit ZAM at her
Website |  Facebook | Twitter | InstagramGoodreads | Amazon

Special Guest: Charlie Cochet with Gummie Bears and Grenades! #THIRDS

Hi. This is Tara. Thank you for stopping by the blog. I’m on vacation right now — the first longer-than-a-weekend vacay I’ve taken in years that didn’t include writing workshops. While I’m gone, I invited a bunch of my friends — some of your fave authors — to stop by and share their news and new releases. I know you’ll love it. Enjoy. Talk soon. : )

 

Please welcome author Charlie Cochet! 

 

Gummy Bears & Grenades
(A THIRDS Novella, #9.5)
By Charlie Cochet

Blurb:
THIRDS agent Dexter J. Daley can’t wait to marry his fiancé, Team Leader Sloane Brodie, but first he’s looking forward to celebrating his bachelor party—which he intends to be a shenanigans-free evening of getting his groove on with family and friends.

Of course events don’t work out as planned, but for Dex that’s nothing new. One thing is for sure, dodging drug dealers and hired thugs amid booze, dancing—and even a bear costume—will guarantee it’s a night Dex will never forget. Now he just needs to survive all the fun.

Enjoy this bonus story from the THIRDS universe. These events occur between Darkest Hour Before Dawn and Tried & True in the series timeline. While reading this story would enhance your experience of the THIRDS series, it is not necessary to read before Tried & True.

Available to purchase at

Kindle | Amazon (Paperback Combo) | Kobo | iTunesDreamspinner Press

 Excerpt

 

Sloane let out a loud belch and laughed. “That tasted like lemonade.” He frowned as it struck him. “Fuck, I’m so wasted.”“I don’t care if you’re in a coma. You’re finishing this damn game.” Tony motioned to the air hockey table. “Move your ass, Brodie. You’re not winning this time.”

Wait. Sloane peered at Tony and thrust a finger at him. “You purposefully got me drunk so you could win. Dex told me I shouldn’t play air hockey with you.”

“Yeah, he also told his sixth-grade teacher that he couldn’t take his math test because numbers were against his religion.”

Sloane snorted vodka and lemonade through his nose and almost choked. He coughed and sputtered, wiping his nose and mouth with his arm as Tony laughed his ass off. “You couldn’t have waited until I’d finished drinking to say that?”

“And miss your impression of a sprinkler?”

“Why aren’t you drunk?” Sloane narrowed his eyes at Tony, who’d had almost as many drinks as Sloane had. Why was he so sober?

Tony shrugged. “Clearly I can hold my liquor better.”

“Bull. Shit.”

Tony arched an eyebrow at him, and Sloane marched over to him. He grabbed Tony’s glass off the edge of the table, sniffed it, then took a sip.

Sloane gasped. “This is just lemonade! I’ve been bamboozled!”

Tony reached into his back pocket and pulled out his wallet. He took a ten-dollar bill and held it up to Sloane. “I will give this to you if you say bamboozled again.”

“You are a crafty bastard.” Sloane snatched the bill from Tony’s hand.

“Bamboozled.” Ignoring Tony’s cackle, Sloane shoved the bill into his back pocket. He should have known the man would be sneaky. He was Dex’s dad after all. Sloane grinned smugly. “Doesn’t matter, I still kicked your ass. Like, eight times,” he said, glaring at his hands when he counted seven fingers. He put one more finger up. “Eight.”

Tony eyed him. “That booze is making you bold.”

Sloane nodded. “It is.”

“So you gonna put your money where your mouth is and play? Or you afraid you’re gonna get your tail whipped? I’m sure Dex will make it all purrrfect.”

Sloane eyed him. There was something Tony wasn’t telling him. “Why did you say it like that?”

“What?” Tony frowned. “I was just saying that Dex knows how to make it all better.” A wicked gleam came into his dark eyes.

Purrrfect.

Sloane’s jaw went slack. He shook his head. “No.”

Tony’s smile was terrifying. “Oh, yes.”

 

 

  About the Author

Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From adventurous agents and sexy shifters, to society gentlemen and hardboiled detectives, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!

Currently residing in Central Florida, Charlie is at the beck and call of a rascally Doxiepoo bent on world domination. When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.If you’d like to connect with Charlie, just drop her an email, or find her on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Google Plus.

 

New Release! HIGH BALLS by Tara Lain and Enter to Win! #new #BallsstotheWall

Sometimes only the wrong guy can bring the 
right happy ever after.

Hi everyone — I’m so thrilled to be able to announce the release of High Balls. As you may know, this is the first entirely new book in the popular Balls to the Wall series since 2013. Volley Balls is mostly new, but this one is a brand new story and set of heroes. I had a blast revisiting my ballsy guys and weaving their lives into the love story of Theodore and Snake. I hope you love it — and be sure to enter to win! HUGS!

Blog Tour Stops

October 4, 2017
MainelyStories
books are love
Books,Dreams,Life

October 5, 2017
Making it Happen
Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews
Readaholics Anonymous

October 6, 2017
V’s Reads
Bookworm Brandee
My Fiction Nook

October 9, 2017
 Love Bytes
Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

October 10, 2017
The Reading Addict
Bayou Book Junkie

High Balls
(Balls To The Wall Series #6 )
by Tara Lain
 
Blurb:
Though only twenty-six, single father Theodore Walters lives with his head in the clouds and his feet firmly planted in reality. At the center of his life is Andy, his seven-year-old son, with whom he shares no DNA, though nobody—including his religious-fanatic in-laws—knows that, and Theodore will do anything to keep them from finding out. Theodore works hard to get his PhD and the tenure and salary that might follow to make a better life for Andy—but the head of his department thinks his dissertation on Jane Austen and romance novels is frivolous.
Theodore’s carefully planned life goes off the rails when he walks into a popular Laguna Beach bar and meets the bartender, “Snake” Erasmo, a pierced and tattooed biker who sends Theodore’s imagination—and libido—soaring. Snake has even more secrets than Theodore and couldn’t be a less “appropriate” match, but he might be the only guy with the skills to show Theodore that happily-ever-after is for real.

Available for purchase at

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press

Excerpts

 

A second later in his bedroom, as Theodore stood in his boxer briefs staring at his minimal wardrobe, Andy stuck his head in the door. “Hiya, Dad.”

“Hi.”

“Whatcha doing?”

“Trying to figure out what to wear.”

He wandered in and plopped on the unmade bed. “You got a date?”

“Uh, kind of. I mean, yes.”

“So what kind of guy is he?”

“What do you mean?” Was his son checking his date’s résumé?

“You know, is he, like, really conservative—I don’t mean, like, Republican, I mean, does he wear ties and stuff? Or is he, like, ace?”

“Ace?”

“Uh, like, rad, cool?”

“Definitely cool.”

“Okay.” He flipped on his stomach and pointed toward the closet. “Black jeans.”

Theodore pulled his one good pair from the hanger and slid them on.

“Excellent. Now white shirt.”

“Really? Isn’t that kind of conservative?”

“No, you gotta trust me.”

“Okay.” He shrugged on the shirt. “Do I tuck it in?”

“Of course. Black belt.”

He did as instructed. Had to admit those jeans did show off his ass and the shirt made him look more mature and a bit—well, cool.

“Okay, now take the vest you wear to work.”

“You mean, like, a suit vest?”

“Yeah.”

“Which one? I have two.”

“Let me look.” He hopped to a cross-legged position as Theodore held up his navy blue vest and his tan vest.

“That one.” He pointed toward the tan.

“You sure?” Andy nodded. Hell, humor the kid. I can take it off later. He slid on the vest and—son of a bitch if it didn’t look bitchin’. “Hey, good job, this looks—” He grinned. “—ace.”

“Told ya.”

Theodore sat on the edge of the bed next to his fashion consultant. “I won’t be real late, but go to bed on time for Jillian so you can get up and be smart tomorrow. How’s your homework?” Personally he thought they gave second graders too much, but he didn’t want to have Andy falling behind.

“I’ve got a lot done.”

“Ask Jillian to check it over when you’re finished, okay? If you need me, call me.”

“Sure. Have a good time with the ace.” He flashed his little teeth with the big gap in the middle.

“I will, derp.” He kissed Andy’s nose.

“Dad, nobody says that. Especially not grown-ups.”

“How could someone so hopelessly uncool have such an awesome son?”

“Good question.”

 

 

“Mr. Walters, please explain the methodology of your research.”

And so it began. The words flowed across his tongue—the thousands of questionnaires and over a hundred personal interviews showing the education, expertise, and experience of romance writers, their use and extension of techniques pioneered by Austen and other major literary figures. He discussed tropes and their application in so called “fine” literature as well as genre fiction. Quoting verbatim from scholars he’d interviewed, he showed how many academics dismissed romance fiction purely because of its association with female readers.

Dr. Willamette said, “How large is the romance market, Mr. Walters?” She actually seemed interested.

“It’s a moving target and difficult to pin down due to the vastness and fluidity of the ebook market, but well over a billion dollars, for sure. It’s the largest book market in the world by double over the next genre.”

“Oh my. Wouldn’t it be nice to bring those people more actively into the field of literature? More teachers and more students?” She smiled.

“My point exactly.”

Ashworth sputtered, “You want to bring these illiterate, uncultured old maids and housewives into the literary tent? You must be joking.”

Dr. Willamette’s face fell, and Theodore worked to ungrit his teeth.

Dr. T. tried to keep the tone upbeat, but every time Mr. Karl or Dr. Willamette asked a good question or seemed to show interest in his research, Ashworth would find a way to belittle their opinions. They practically shrank in their seats. The chances they’d stand up to the chairman? Zilch.

Theodore kept fighting, but he felt like a salmon on a dammed-up stream.

Dr. T. said, “Why did you undertake this research, Mr. Walters? What do you feel it contributes to the future of literature?”

Theodore gazed at the carpet for a minute. “When my wife was dying, I would read to her. Classics and current literary fiction felt so cold and helpless in the face of death. Only love prevailed. So I bought a romance novel, just for diversion. I was amazed at the true literary value the book possessed. I tried another and another. Yes, I found bad ones, but then that can be said of any type of literature. Gradually I came to realize that what I’d been taught about romance fiction was bull. Here were truly gifted writers, more of them than in any other type of fiction, toiling away with not only no recognition, but also actual denigration, and still producing exceptional work. I decided to find out why.”

He looked up at each member of the panel, even the sneering Ashworth. “I think if I can encourage or inspire even one of these excellent authors to persevere and have some of their work recognized, my research will have succeeded.”

Dr. T. said, “Thank you, Theodore. I wish to add that the dissertation reader agrees with Mr. Walters. She states that the paper has done more to legitimize one of the most popular forms of world fiction than anything she’s seen. She highly recommends the paper for publication.” He looked down the panel. “If there are no more questions, Mr. Walters can go and we can determine the time for our deliberation.”

Ashworth said, “I have one more. Walters, do you really expect us to take this dissertation seriously?”

Theodore stood. “Yes, sir, I do.” He looked down the table. “Thank you all for your consideration.” He turned and walked from the room with a straight spine.

 

 “Dad?”Snake whispered, “Showtime.” He stood.

Teddy looked up and rose.

Andy rubbed his eyes and his nose. “How come you guys are on the floor?”

Teddy smiled and picked up Andy. “I was just surprised and unhappy when Snake told me what your grandparents did.”

“Yeah.” He snuffled and snuggled into his dad’s shoulder.

Teddy sat on the couch and settled Andy on his lap. Snake started to sit in the chair across from them, but Andy looked up. “Snake? Will you sit by me?”

“Sure, buddy.” He glanced at Teddy, who looked up quickly and then away. Snake sat beside Teddy, who held Andy in his arms. Snake took Andy’s feet.

Teddy started to rock him. “So you know about babies coming from mommies, right?”

“Sure.”

“Moms might have different possible dads around before their baby is born, but after the baby is born, the mom might choose a dad.” He looked at Snake, pleading in his eyes.

Snake picked up the thread. “It could be that the dad the mom chooses isn’t the same dad that actually caused the baby in the first place. But that doesn’t matter.”

“Right.” Teddy kissed Andy’s hair. “You mom chose me, and we got married right away, and I was there the whole time you were in her tummy, and I saw you get born and loved you when you were barely an idea.”

Snake blinked hard. “That guy who came to talk to you might have caused the baby, but then he was gone, and he never married your mom or helped her or saw you born or raised you—or loved you. So guess who your dad is?”

Andy tightened his grip on Teddy. “Daddy is my dad.”

“Ding, ding, ding, ding. Give the prize to Andy Walters!”

Andy was quiet for a minute. “But that guy caused me?”

Teddy’s chest rose and fell. “He might have, sweetheart.”

Andy sat back and stared at Teddy with his brows scrunched over his nose. “You didn’t cause me ’cause you don’t like girls, right?”

Snake bit the inside of his cheek.

Teddy smiled. “Kind of. I actually loved your mom a lot. She was my best friend. And when she told me she was going to have a baby, I said maybe I could be the dad. She loved that idea, and we had such a good time raising you.”

“Wish I remembered her better.”

Snake had to look away or Andy might see the tears pushing out of his eyes.

“She loved you so much. Just like I do.” Teddy hugged him tight.

 

 

The Balls to the Wall Series


Volley Balls
Bk #1

Available to purchase at
Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press

 


Fire Balls
Bk #2

Available to purchase at
Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press

 


Beach Balls
Bk #3

Available to purchase at
Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press

 


FAST Balls
Bk #5

Available to purchase at
Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Dreamspinner Press

 

Prefer paperback?
The first and second book are now available in paperback! 

Amazon | B&N

 

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

Giveaway

 

Presented By

 

Big Backlist Weekend with Monica Burns & Tara Lain – 2 Giveaways! #InnocentHeroes

Hi everyone!
Welcome to Big Backlist Weekend! This is a special event I post every month or so where I ask a wonderful author to come and join me in giving away a copy of an ebook from their backlist.

My guest today is Monica Burns! She writes beautiful historical romance …. Monica is giving away a copy of Pleasure Me which is a recent release. This book sounds so great, you guys. I’ve put it on my TBR.

I don’t write historical, but i do have some relatively naive heroes, so let me give away an e-copy of Sinders and Ash. This is the first book in my Pennymaker Tales and a modern retelling of Cinderella. 
Pleasure Me
by Monica Burns

Blurb:

A virgin alpha hero risks everything for the courtesan who steals his heart.

Youth and beauty are a courtesan’s greatest assets. At forty-one, Lady Ruth Attwood appears to have lost both, as her latest lover just abandoned her for a younger mistress. Struggling with the knowledge that she’s no longer considered desirable, she’s uncertain whether to be offended or flattered when a younger man makes her an unusual offer. In need of funds, she agrees. But then she does the unthinkable. She falls in love.

Despite his reputation as a man’s man, Baron Garrick Stratfield has never been with a woman. His physical impairment is such that he knows not even a whore will touch him, and he needs a mistress who’s willing to be kept without sharing his bed. But passion is just a delicious kiss away because his new mistress is wreaking havoc with his senses. Worse yet, someone is not only out to ruin his reputation, but frame him for murder.

Available for purchase at

Kindle | Nook | Kobo | iTunes 

Excerpt

“Are you sure friendship is the only reason you told me the truth? I’m a courtesan, Garrick. Although I do much more than fulfill a man’s sexual needs, my skills in the bedroom are considered excellent.”

“Instruction?” He choked out the word. Sweet Jesus, the woman was offering to tutor him in the art of lovemaking. How in the hell was he supposed to respond to that?

“If not that, then perhaps someone to confide in?” she said in soothing voice. “There must be a reason why you’ve never been with a woman. I am a good listener, when I wish to be.”

“That topic isn’t up for discussion,” he said through clenched teeth, not even smiling at her ironic comment about listening.

“As you wish.”

The heat of her brushed against him as she walked past to sit down at her dressing table. Stunned by her ready acquiescence, he stared at her as she calmly reached for a jar of cream and proceeded to apply the emollient to her hands. Awkward. It was a sensation he’d never liked, and he was feeling extremely awkward right now. He clasped his hands behind his back then drew in a deep breath in an attempt to calm himself.

“You’re going out this evening?” The question only reflected how ill at ease he was. She stopped rubbing her hands and met his gaze in the dressing table mirror.

“I was, but I’ve changed my mind,” she said quietly.

“I see.” A rush of pleasure surged through him. She hadn’t said so, but he was certain he was the reason she’d changed her plans.

“And you? Do you have plans?” In a casual gesture, she shrugged one shoulder out of her robe to rub cream on her skin. He inhaled a sharp breath as he saw the lush curve of her beautiful breast reflected in the mirror.

“No. . . I. . . I wasn’t sure . . .” He swallowed hard as she finished rubbing cream on her shoulder and pulled her robe back up. His breathing eased for a mere fraction of an instant before she repeated the exercise with her other shoulder. A knot developed in his throat, making him cough.

“Are you all right, Garrick?”

She turned quickly to face him, her robe discreetly closed. The concerned look on her face would have eased his discomfort it he hadn’t seen the flash of something far more dangerous in her eyes.

“I’m. . . fine.”

With a shake of his head, he cleared his throat again. She tilted her head in contemplation. In the quiet glow of the gaslight, the movement emphasized the sweet curve of her shoulder and throat. A sense of impending doom swept over him, but he ignored it, unable to take his eyes off of her.

“Do you trust me, Garrick?” The softly spoken question took him by surprise, and he frowned.

“I would not have confided in you otherwise.”

“There’s nothing shameful about your innocence. In fact, I find it quite. . . arousing.”

She turned to pull a long scarf from one of the dressing table’s drawers. When she stood up to face him again, the gentle determination reflected on her face made him tense. In the next instant, the air in his lungs was dragged out of him in one large whoosh as he watched her slowly untie her robe. Bloody hell, why wasn’t he racing toward the door?

“Desire is a pleasurable thing, Garrick.”

Her voice was hypnotic, and he couldn’t take his eyes off her as she trailed one hand across her throat and then downward. The languid movement parted her wrapper as she leisurely brushed her fingertips along the side of her breast. It was an erotic movement that sent heat blasting through him until his palms were damp.

“Let me show you what it’s like to feel that pleasure.” The thin robe hiding her from him slid to the floor with a whisper, and his mouth went dry at the sight. “Let me show you how wonderful it can be between us.”

Why was he still standing here? He should have been at the door by now. He tried to move but couldn’t. If he didn’t do something fast there was no hope for him. His feet remained rooted to the floor as he watched her undo her hair so it fell down over her shoulders. God, she was beautiful. Her eyes closed, the scarf she still held in her hand drifted across the tips of her breast in a way that seemed natural, yet he knew it was deliberate.

“Do you like looking at me, Garrick?” The throaty whisper scraped across his senses.

“Yes,” he rasped.

The scarf fluttered against her skin like a butterfly touching first one delicate curve and then another. Her hands cupped her breasts, and in a move that made it impossible for him to breathe, she circled her fingers around her rigid nipples. With great difficulty, he suppressed the raging need to stride forward and take her into his arms. Instead he forced himself to take a step back from her. It did little to assuage the hunger assaulting his rigid cock. Almost as if she could sense his need, her eyes flickered open, and she stretched out her hand to offer him the scarf.

“Tie me to the bed.” It was a soft command that made him stare at her in astonishment. A sensual, yet gentle, smile curved her mouth. “I want you to be in control of your pleasure.” 

 

About the Author

A bestselling author of spicy historical and paranormal romance, Monica Burns penned her first short romance story at the age of nine when she selected the pseudonym she uses today. Her historical book awards include the 2011 RT BookReviews Reviewers Choice Award and the 2012 Gayle Wilson Heart of Excellence Award for Pleasure Me. She is also the recipient of the prestigious paranormal romance award, the 2011 PRISM Best of the Best award for Assassin’s Heart. From the days when she hid her stories from her sisters to her first completed full-length manuscript, she always believed in her dream despite rejections and setbacks. A workaholic wife and mother, Monica believes it’s possible for the good guy to win if they work hard enough.

You can find Monica at
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram | Youtube

Sinders and Ash
By Tara Lain

Blurb: 
Housekeeper Mark Sintorella (Sinders) works diligently at a resort hotel while designing clothes anonymously, hoping to get into fashion school. Then his carefully planned life is upended with the arrival of Ashford Armitage, son of the fifth richest man in America—and the most beautiful guy Mark has ever seen. Ash must find a wife or he’ll lose his grandfather’s inheritance, and he settles on Bitsy Fanderel. But secretly Ash is gay, and the guy who cleans the fireplaces sets his heart ablaze.

Further stirring the pot is the little elf of a man, Carstairs Pennymaker, who has Mark wearing his own designs and masquerading as a girl to impress the fashion investors in the hotel. When the clock strikes twelve, two beautiful princesses line up for the wedding—but one isn’t a woman. Will the slipper fit? Only Mr. Pennymaker knows for sure.

 

Available for purchase at

Kindle Nook | Kobo | iTunes | Audible

Excerpt

The soft knock reminded him of a cue in a bad play. He knew who it was and knew he shouldn’t answer. That insane little man gave him hope when he knew he had no hope. Only hard work. But dammit, he liked Mr. Pennymaker.
He huffed, dragged himself off the bed, cleared the couple of steps to the door, pulled it open, and headed right back to the bed and curled into a ball.
“Helloooo, my boy. How are you this lovely day?” The chirpy voice paused, and Mark peeked at him from his armadillo-like position. Mr. Pennymaker had his hands on his knees and was gazing at Mark. Yes, he was an elf. “Hmm. I gather we are not tip-top?”
Mark shook his head. “No, sir.”
“What seems to be the problem?”
“Don’t really want to talk about it.”
“Might as well. I want to listen.”
He had a point. Mark needed another angle of vision. “I did something very bad.”
The dark suit Pennymaker was wearing today would have been conservative but for the bright pink vest and the gardenia in his buttonhole. He sat on the rickety chair. “Would you like to tell me about it?”
Mark sat up. Would he? There was something about the man. Like he was on Mark’s side no matter what. Mark had never had that feeling… at least not since his mom died. It made no sense. Mr. Pennymaker was a stranger, but there it was. “Well, you see, Richard the Bastard tried to force himself on me, and I was so—”
“Hold on! What happened?”
“Oh, the bastard sous chef finally quit perving on me and decided to do the deed. He didn’t get to hurt me because Armitage—you know, the rich guy—came to my rescue. And now I know I’m going to get fired any minute, and I really need this job, and I don’t know what I’ll do if they give me a bad referral.”
“Now, now, even Herman Marcusi won’t fire a man for avoiding rape.”
“No, you don’t understand. Because I was really upset. See, I had this thing happen and I guess I went into flashbacks or something, but I was pretty messed up, and Armitage tried to help me and, shit, I kissed him.”
The man grinned. “Kissed him?”
“Yeah.” Mark returned to armadillohood.
Mr. Pennymaker’s voice dripped with amusement. “I’m sure you were grateful.”
Didn’t he get it? Mark sat up. “No! I kissed him kissed him, like, with tongue and, you know.”
The grin got bigger. “I’m sure you were very grateful.”
Mark sighed. “Maybe. But I imagine he’s reporting it to Marcusi right now and I’ll be out on my ass by tomorrow.”
“Maybe he enjoyed it.”

 

Hell, he hadn’t thought of that. The guy had seemed shocked, but he hadn’t worked very hard to get away. After all, Mark wasn’t exactly Mighty Joe Young. Still, the look on his face…. “I doubt it. Hell, you can’t do anything good with Sinders and Ash.”

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Special Guest: Kay Berrisford


Love mermen? Paranormal romance? Hot guys? And… maybe the odd lurking dragon?

Hi! I’m Kay, and I’d love to share an EXCLUSIVE excerpt from the second installment in my brand new “Landlocked Heart” series, Lyle’s Story. The books tell the story of Ben, an ordinary guy working in an ice-cream parlour in a seaside town, and Lyle, the flamboyant merman who he falls in love with.

If you enjoy the excerpt, please leave a comment here to be in with a chance of winning a $15 voucher for Less Than Three Press.

Landlocked Heart (book 1): The Lonely Merman is out NOW.
You can grab it from Amazon and Less Than Three Press.

 

Lyle’s Story (Landlocked Heart, book 2) is out this week – 28th September! You can order it now from Amazon or Less Than Three Press.  Book 3, entitled Dragon Rider, is out early November.

Lyle’s Story Blurb:  Lyle, a merman, and Ben, his human, work together in a seaside ice-cream parlour and their life together is bliss. Or would be, if not for Ben’s constant worries about career and money, and Lyle’s dark past—a myriad of secrets, lies, wild magic, and foul deeds, which now threaten to catch up with him.

When Lyle’s merfolk family accuse him of murder, Ben and Lyle’s bond is stretched to the limit. Not only does Lyle seem unsuited to Ben’s dreams of domestic happiness, his magical powers are spinning dangerously out of control. Even Lyle isn’t entirely sure he’s innocent.

With Ben dragged deep into the enchanted processes of merfolk justice, escaping with his life—and getting home to an important job interview—is just the start of the challenge. Uncovering Lyle’s inner truths without destroying their love could be a step too far…

Excerpt

“That’s it, Lyle,” called Jarvis, “you’re killing it!”

Shirtless, somewhat chilly, but beginning to enjoy himself, Lyle draped backward over the breakwater and swished his hair.

“Let’s have more of that gorgeous pout,” coaxed Jarvis, while his camera rolled out a frenetic series of clicks. Lyle obeyed, puckering his lips and fluttering his lashes. A couple of elderly ladies who’d been taking a stroll along the prom had stopped to watch, and they’d been joined by others to form a small but appreciative audience by the railings.

“I wonder if he’s a pop star or model,” said one of the women, and Lyle couldn’t help smirking. He wasn’t too keen on Jarvis’s leering comments, but he liked being admired. Perhaps there were more career options open to him than he’d thought.

“Okay, babe,” said Jarvis. “That’s enough like that. You got decent underwear on, by any chance? That skyscape is fascinating. We could get real arty if I take some sepia shots and if you stripped off another layer.”

Sliding off the breakwater, Lyle baulked. Thickening fog rolled in off the sea, and it looked like it might rain. Besides, taking his top off had seemed harmless, but he wasn’t sure he wanted to share his underwear with anybody other than…

“Lyle, what the hell are you doing?”

Lyle heeded Ben’s angry shout before he spotted him, crunching down the stones towards them. Lyle winced and reached for his t-shirt, slipping it over his head. He wished he’d just gone home, like he promised. The last thing he wanted was to have lied… again. “When do I get paid?” he asked Jarvis.

“We’re not done yet,” said Jarvis. As Ben neared with a face like a gathering storm, he mumbled, “Shit, babe, is that your cranky boyfriend? Call me if you ever want to do better.”

He flicked a business card at Lyle’s chest then started off at a lick across the beach. Realizing the show was over, the crowd also dispelled, which proved a small mercy. Lyle’s anger struck with such violence, he struggled not to lose his faculties and drop his shape-shifting spell.

“How dare you, you smarmy rat-face bollocks!” he screamed after Jarvis, scrunching up the card and hurling it. “You’ll never be half the man Ben is! When do I get my money, you—”

“Shhh, for heaven’s sake!” Ben grabbed Lyle’s arm and spun him around. “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same thing,” said Lyle, still reeling from his own anger.

“Because I was working alone, Mr. Bertrand told me I could shut down the parlour for a lunch hour. I was popping home to check you were okay. But rather than keeping a low profile, I find you making a ruddy spectacle of yourself with that… that… who the heck was that?”

“It’s the guy who took pictures of my art,” said Lyle, drizzle now plastering his hair to his nose. “He asked me to pose and said he’d pay me. I thought you’d be… oh, I don’t know, pleased maybe?” Ben scrubbed his palms against his stubbly cheeks in such an exaggeratedly weary fashion that Lyle snapped further. “But you’re never bloody pleased, are you? Everything I do it wrong. It’s not like I was flirting with him or anything.”

“Stripping your shirt off isn’t flirting, then? I suppose it’s nothing to a master of seduction like you. How many lovers have you had again? Forty-one, wasn’t it?”

“That’s unfair! You told me you understood.” The rain grew heavier, the clouds pressing low over the beach, and Lyle felt like ripping his hair out. “It was over centuries, anyway, and I was lonely.”

“Oh, poor Lyle, maybe you should’ve been flirting with that photographer.” Ben pinched the bridge of his nose. “I love you, I always will, but sometimes I wonder if I’m what you really need.”

“What do you mean?” Lyle froze, anger quelled by a spasm of fear. “You’re my Benjamin. You broke the curse and you’re gorgeous. Why would I want any other man?”

Ben looked down, rolling a pebble beneath his trainer. “One day I fear you’ll see the truth. I’m not gorgeous, I’m very ordinary, and I can’t give you what you desire. You want a millionaire sugar daddy to buy you a luxury home with a swimming pool and patronize your art.”

“Er, sugar daddy?” Lyle let out a humourless chuckle. “Even if I wanted one, it’s going to be hard for me to find an older man around here. And anyway, he won’t want me when he discovers I’m a merman.”

“Believe me, Lyle, most chaps are going to see tentacles as a bonus feature.” Ben dropped his voice to a whisper, although the only creatures within earshot were some large herring gulls who’d settled on the breakwater. “There’ll be a queue of rich guys who want you—including those who can afford the repairs when you accidentally bring the ceiling down. Somebody out there must be able to keep better tabs on you than me.”

The despair-filled suggestion hit Lyle like a knee to the groin. “Keep tabs on me? You mean I need controlling? Is that what you think I need?”

“No!” Ben’s raw panic suggested he was backtracking fast. “I’m sorry, love. I didn’t mean it like that, uh… oh shit, I…”

“Maybe that is what I need.” Lyle turned his back on poor stammering Ben and gazed out into the fog. “Maybe he’ll tie me up and put me in a cage, treat me like the monster I am. I’m a killer, Benjamin. I can’t control myself, let alone my magic. You should just walk away now.”

Ben stepped to his side and slipped a hand to his waist. “Honey, I—”

“Go!” Lyle’s holler set the gulls on the breakwater flapping and wheeling and crying out. He spiralled to face Ben, the white heat of his anger returning with vengeance, fins ripping forth from both his shoulders, spoiling his shirt. Two more burst out from his upper legs, lacerated the trousers at his thighs. “See? A monster!” He flicked them around, feral. “I killed my own brother, Benjamin, so you’d best get the hell away from me!”

 
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Closing date 4th October 2017 (midnight GMT).

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