Big Backlist Weekend with Jessica Scott & Tara Lain #2giveaways #Romance

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 author Jessica Scott. She’s giving away 1 paperback copy of the Before I Fall (Falling Series, bk 1), a contemporary romance

I’m giving away an ebook copy of Fast Balls

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

 

Before I Fall 
(Falling Series, Bk 1) 
by Jessica Scott

Blurb:
Stay focused. Get a job. Save her father’s life.
Beth Lamont knows far too much about the harsh realities of life her gilded classmates have only read about in class. She’ll do whatever it takes to take care of her father, even if that means tutoring a guy like Noah – a guy who represents everything she hates about the war, soldiers and what the Army has done to her family.

Noah Warren doesn’t know how to be a student. All he knows is war. But he’s going to college now to fulfill a promise and he doesn’t break his promises. Except he doesn’t count on his tutor being drop dead gorgeous and distracting as hell. One look at Beth threatens to unravel the careful lies Noah has constructed around him.

A simple arrangement turns into something neither of them can deny. And a war that neither of them can forget could destroy them both.

 

 

Excerpt

Chapter One

Beth

My dad has good days and bad. The good days are awesome. When he’s awake and he’s pretending to cook and I’m pretending to eat it. It’s a joke between us that he burns water. But that’s okay.

On the good days, I humor him. Because for those brief interludes, I have my dad back.

The not so good days, like today, are more common. Days when he can’t get out of bed without my help.

I bring him his medication. I know exactly how much he takes and how often.

And I know exactly when he runs out.

I’ve gotten better at keeping up with his appointments so he doesn’t, but the faceless bastards at the VA cancel more than they keep. But what can we do? He can’t get private insurance with his health, and because someone decided that his back injury wasn’t entirely service-related, he doesn’t have a high enough disability rating to qualify for automatic care. So we wait for them to fit him in and when we can’t, we go to the emergency room and the bills pile up. Because despite him not being able to move on the bad days, his back pain treatments are elective.

So I juggle phone calls to the docs and try to keep us above water.

Bastards.

I leave his phone by his bed and make sure it’s plugged in to charge before I head to school. He’s got water and the pills he’ll need when he finally comes out of the fog. Our tiny house is only a mile from campus. Not in the best part of town but not the worst either. I’ve got an hour before class, which means I need to hustle. Thankfully, it’s not terribly hot today so I won’t arrive on campus a sweating, soggy mess. That always makes a good impression, especially at a wealthy southern school like this one.

I make it to campus with twenty minutes to spare and check my e-mail on the campus WiFi. I can’t check it at the house – Internet is a luxury we can’t afford. If I’m lucky, my neighbor’s signal sometimes bleeds over into our house. Most of the time, though, I’m not that lucky. Which is fine. Except for days like this where there’s a note from my professor asking me to come by her office before class.

Professor Blake is terrifying to those who don’t know her. She’s so damn smart it’s scary, and she doesn’t let any of us get away with not speaking up in class. Sit up straight. Speak loudly. She’s harder on the girls, too. Some of the underclassmen complain that she’s being unfair. I don’t complain, though. I know she’s doing it for a reason.

“You got my note just in time,” she says. Her tortoise-shell glasses reflect the fluorescent light, and I can’t see her eyes.

“Yes, ma’am.” She’s told me not to call her ma’am, but it slips out anyway. I can’t help it. Thankfully, she doesn’t push the issue.

“I have a job for you.”

“Sure.” A job means extra money on the side. Money that I can use to get my dad his medications. Or, you know, buy food. Little things. It’s hard as hell to do stats when your stomach is rumbling. “What does it entail?”

“Tutoring. Business statistics.”

“I hear a but in there.”

“He’s a former soldier.”

Once, when my mom first left us, I couldn’t wake my dad up. My blood pounded so loud in my ears that I could hardly hear. That’s how I feel now. My mouth is open, but no sound crosses my lips. Professor Blake knows how I feel about the war, about soldiers. I can’t deal with all the hoah chest-beating bullshit. Not with my dad and everything the war has done to him.

“Before you say no, hear me out. Noah has some very well-placed friends that want him very much to succeed here. He’s got a ticket into the business school graduate program, but only if he gets through Stats.”

I’m having a hard time breathing. I can’t do this. Just thinking about what the war has done to my dad makes it difficult to breathe. But the idea of extra money, just a little, is a strong motivator when you don’t have it. Principles are for people who can afford them.

I take a deep, cleansing breath. “So why me?”

“Because you’ve got the best head for stats I’ve seen in a long time, and I’ve seen you explain things to the underclassmen in ways that make sense to them. You can translate.”

“There’s no one else?” I hate that I need this job.

Professor Blake removes her glasses with a quiet sigh. “Our school is very pro-military, Beth. And I would consider it a personal favor if you’d help him.”

She’s right. That’s the only reason I was able to get in. This is one of the Southern Ivies. A top school in the southeast that I have no business being at except for my dad, who knew the dean of the law school from his time in the army. I hate the war and everything it’s done to my family. But I wouldn’t be where I am today if my dad hadn’t gone to war and sacrificed everything to make sure I had a future outside of our crappy little place outside of Fort Benning. There are things worse than death and my dad lives with them every day because he had done what he had to do to provide for me.

I will not let him down.

“Okay. When do I start?”

She hands me a slip of paper. It’s yellow and has her letterhead at the top in neat, formal block letters. “Here’s his information. Make contact and see what his schedule is.” She places her glasses back on and just like that, I’m dismissed.

Professor Blake is not a warm woman, but I wouldn’t have made it through my first semester at this school without her mentorship. If not for her and my friend Abby, I would have left from the sheer overwhelming force of being surrounded by money and wealth and all the intangibles that came along with it. I did not belong here, but because of Professor Blake, I hadn’t quit.

So if I need to tutor some blockhead soldier to repay her kindness, then so be it. Graduating from this program is my one chance to take care of my dad and I will not fail.

 

Available for purchase at

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About The Author

Jessica Scott is the USA Today bestselling author of stories set in the heart of America’s Army. She’s an active duty army officer and holds phd in sociology focusing on status and morality. She has 12 years prior service, earning the rank of SFC prior to commissioning in 2007. She commanded at Fort Hood twice and deployed as part of OIF/New Dawn in 09 with 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, First Cavalry Division.

She has written for the New York Times At War blog, War on the Rocks, Modern War Institute, PBS Point of View Women and War and has been featured in Esquire Magazine as an American of the Year in 2012. She has published 14 novels and novellas about soldiers returning from war.

She has compiled two nonfiction projects about her time in Iraq and the return home. She holds a Ph.d & Masters Degree in sociology from Duke, a Masters Degree in Telecom Management from University of Maryland University College, and a BA in Cultural Studies from State University of New York.

Fast Balls
(Balls To the Walls Series, #5)
by Tara Lain

Blurb:
Can two men with skewed self-images see their true reflections in each other’s eyes?

Jerry Wallender—firefighter, surfer, and occasional nude model—knows he’s no rocket scientist. So why does he keep choosing intellectual guys who make him feel dumber? He worked his buns off to overcome his reading disability and pass the firefighter’s test, and he loves everything about the job. Well, except for Mick Cassidy, the big, blond, hunky homophobe who harasses Jerry for being gay. But Jerry is smart enough to realize it’s not hate driving Mick, but the pain of a very unhappy upbringing.

Mick Cassidy, Firefighter Assist and Search Team, fights fires, but he can’t fight his attraction to the kindest, most generous—and sexiest—guy he’s ever met. Does that make him gay? If it does, he just might get himself killed by his gay-hating preacher father—and take Jerry down with him.

Grab your copy at
Kindle | iBooksNook | Kobo | Dreamspinner


Excerpt

Mick wrenched the bag from
Straight’s hands. The guy tried to pull back, but he was so off base. No one,
certainly not this pipsqueak white trash, was keeping Mick Cassidy from trying
to save the kindest, best man he knew.

Mick threw an arm toward
Straight, and the guy fell backward on his ass. Get out of my way.

He crouched, focused, breathed
deeply, and hurled himself through the flames. It felt like a mountain of fire.
Please God, let there be another side.

And there was. The solid wall
of burning hell thinned, and Mick fell through.

Jerry.

Quiet, still, broken like a rag
doll. One of his long legs lay at an odd angle.

No.
No. No.

He scrambled to Jerry’s side,
pulled the respirator from the bag, and pressed it over his face.

“Breathe. Breathe, Jerry.”

A new hot spot flared up beside
him. Damn!

He looked over his shoulder,
back the way he’d come. Wall of flame. No exit. Embers rained and a chunk of
the ceiling fell a foot away. He leaned over Jerry’s still body to shield him
and felt the heat closing in. So this is
it.

He stared down at the closed
eyes of the man he had rushed to save. No question. No hesitation. Funny. It
felt like a choice. A choice that had been no choice.

He looked up. Was God up? Up in
that flaming ceiling? Up in the roof that now opened to the sky?

He took a deep breath and bowed
his head. Okay, God, I spent my whole
life hearing what you love and what you hate. According to my father, you hate
the man who’s lying here, and I should hate him too, and leave him here to die.
If he’s not already dead.

He looked up, and sparks lit up
a disintegrating beam. It would fall real soon.

The
thing is, God, if you hate this man and love my father, your priorities are
screwed up. And if that’s true, I guess I don’t care so much about dying
because I’ll be going to hell, and I know it will be full of people I like.
People like Jerry.

I
sure wish I could have saved him, though. The world is better with him in it.

He looked down at the man who
had said he cared about him. That and being a firefighter were about the only
things he could think of that amounted to much in his life, but they were a
lot. He lowered his head to Jerry’s chest.

 

Big Backlist Weekend with Molly Harper & Tara Lain #2giveaways #Romance

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 an author I’m a huge fan of, Molly Harper! I’ve grown fangs and run with many a naked werewolf in her company. Her newest series Southern Eclectic is awesome!! She’s giving away 1 paperback copy of the first book in the series, Sweet Tea And Sympathy!

I’m giving away an ebook copy of Return of the Chauffeur’s Son! This is as close as i get to romantic comedy. I call it champagne romance.

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

Remember to grab your copy of Molly’s SWEET TEA AND SYMPATHY at Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible | Nook | Kobo

 

Sweet Tea and Sympathy
(Southern Eclectic) 
by Molly Harper

Blurb:

Nestled on the shore of Lake Sackett, Georgia is the McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop. (What, you have a problem with one-stop shopping?) Two McCready brothers started two separate businesses in the same building back in 1928, and now it’s become one big family affair. And true to form in small Southern towns, family business becomes everybody’s business.

Margot Cary has spent her life immersed in everything Lake Sackett is not. As an elite event planner, Margot’s rubbed elbows with the cream of Chicago society, and made elegance and glamour her business. She’s riding high until one event goes tragically, spectacularly wrong. Now she’s blackballed by the gala set and in dire need of a fresh start—and apparently the McCreadys are in need of an event planner with a tarnished reputation.

As Margot finds her footing in a town where everybody knows not only your name, but what you had for dinner last Saturday night and what you’ll wear to church on Sunday morning, she grudgingly has to admit that there are some things Lake Sackett does better than Chicago—including the dating prospects. Elementary school principal Kyle Archer is a fellow fish-out-of-water who volunteers to show Margot the picture-postcard side of Southern living. The two of them hit it off, but not everybody is happy to see an outsider snapping up one of the town’s most eligible gentleman. Will Margot reel in her handsome fish, or will she have to release her latest catch?

Excerpt

 MARGOT CARY LEANED her forehead against the warm truck window as it bounced along the pitted Georgia highway. She closed her eyes against the picturesque landscape as it rolled by. Green, green, green. Everything was so effing green here.

GREEN WAS NOT her lucky color. It certainly hadn’t blessed the opening of the botanical garden’s newly completed Wesmoreland Tropical Greenhouse. Maybe it had been a mistake to carry the green theme so far. Green table linens, green lanterns strung through the trees, down to emerald-green bow ties for the catering staff. Weeks later, she still remembered the terrified expression on one waiter’s face when she caught him by the arm before he carried his tray of crudités into the party space.

Despite her glacial blond beauty, the younger man practically flinched away from her touch as she adjusted his tie. Margot would admit that she’d been a bit . . . demanding in organizing this event. She had taken every precaution to make sure that this evening’s black-tie opening was as smooth as Rosaline Hewitt’s recently Botoxed brow. She’d commissioned a silk-leaf embroidered canopy stretching from the valet station to the entrance to prevent the guests’ hairstyles and gowns from being ruined by the summer rain. She’d researched each invitee meticulously to find out who was gluten-free or vegan and adjusted the menu accordingly. She’d arranged for two dozen species of exotic South American parrots to be humanely displayed among orchids and pitcher plants and a flock of flamingos to wade through the manufactured waterfall’s rocky lagoon.

She was not about to have all of that preparation undone by a cater waiter who didn’t know how to keep a bow tie on straight.

“Go,” Margot said, nodding toward the warm, humid air of the false tropical jungle. He moved silently away from her, into the opulently lit space.

Margot turned and tried to survey the greenhouse as it would appear to the guests, the earliest of which were already filtering into the garden, oohing and aahing. Calling it a greenhouse seemed like an understatement. The glass-paneled dome reached four stories into the sky, allowing the tropical plant specimens inside plenty of space to stretch. Carefully plotted stone paths wound through the flower beds, giving the visitor the impression of wandering through paradise. But knowing how much Chicago’s riche-est of the riche enjoyed a nice soiree, the conservators had been smart enough to add a nice open space in the middle of the greenhouse to allow for a dance floor. She’d arranged elbow-high tables around the perimeter, covered in jewel-tone silk cloths. Gold LED lights cast a hazy sunset glow over the room, occasionally projecting animated fireflies against the foliage. And since society’s ladies would never do something so inelegant as visit a buffet, the waiters had been informed to constantly circulate with their trays of canapés in a nonobvious, serpentine pattern around the enormous shrimp tower in the middle of—

Wait.

“No,” Margot murmured, shaking her head. “No, no, no.”

She snagged the next waiter to walk through the entrance and took his tray. The sweet-faced college kid seemed startled and alarmed to have the chief planner for this event grabbing him by the arm. “You, get two of your coworkers and very quickly, very quietly, very discreetly get that shrimp tower out of here. If anyone asks, just tell them that you’re taking it back to the kitchen to be refilled.”

The poor boy blanched at the brisk clip to her tone and said, “But—but Chef Jean was very specific about—”

“I don’t care what Chef Jean was specific about,” she said. “Get it out of here now.”

The waiter nodded and pulled away from her into the gathering crowd.

Margot stepped forward into the fragrant warmth of the greenhouse, careful to keep her expression and body language relaxed. She was aware that, while professionally dressed in her black power suit, she was not nearly as festive as the guests in their tuxedos and haute couture gowns, but she was perfectly comfortable. She’d attended hundreds of events like this growing up. She would not be intimidated by some plants and a pretentious wannabe Frenchman. She pressed the button of her earbud-size Bluetooth and whispered, “This is Margot. I need to speak to Jean.”

She could tell by the way her words were echoing in her own ear that the head chef of Fete Portable had taken his earpiece out—despite Margot’s repeated requests to keep a line of communication open with her—and set it on the stainless steel counter in the makeshift kitchen. She blew out a frustrated breath. Jean LeDille was not her preferred caterer for high-profile events, but the de facto hostess of tonight’s opening—Melissa Sutter, first lady of Chicago and head of the botanical garden conservators’ board—had insisted on using him. So far he’d been temperamental, resistant to the most basic instruction, and a pain in Margot’s Calvin Klein–clad ass. And when she was done with this event and had secured her partnership at Elite Elegance, she would have Jean blacklisted from every Chicago party planner’s contact list. Theirs was a close-knit and gossip-driven circle.

Someone in the kitchen picked up the earbud and said, “Ms. Cary, he says to tell you he’s unavailable.”

Margot gritted her perfect white teeth but managed a polite smile to the head of the opera board and his wife as they passed. Jean wouldn’t be able to get a job making a clown-shaped birthday cake by the time she was done with him.

“So I guess I’ll just have to make myself available to him, then.”

Margot’s assistant, Mandy, a sleek brunette who reminded Margot of a Russian wolfhound in four-inch heels, fell in step behind her. “Make sure that tower is gone. You have two minutes.”

“On it,” Mandy snapped, and peeled off after the hapless waiters.

Margot pushed through the heavy plastic curtain that separated the greenhouse from the kitchen tent. Far from the muted music and golden-green light of the greenhouse, the tent was ruthlessly lit with fluorescents and heating lamps. Jean’s shouts filled the air, demanding that the canapé trays be restocked tout de suite.

Jean was a stocky, balding man with thick, dark eyebrows and an unfortunate mustache. His chef whites were splattered with various sauces and he sneered—actually sneered—at Margot as she walked into his kitchen.

“What are you doing in ma’ kitchen?” he demanded in an exaggerated French accent. “I tell you before. No outside staff when I am creating.”

“Jean, would you explain to me why there is a shrimp tower in the middle of my venue?”

“I was overcome by the muse this morning. I decide to build you a shrimp tower. Only four hundred dollars extra. I do you favor, eh?”

“Wait. Is that shrimp salad on the crostini?” Margot asked, stopping a waiter before he left with his tray of appetizers. “Because we agreed on poached quail eggs. Mrs. Sutter, the hostess of tonight’s event, whom you’ve cooked for on several occasions, is allergic to shrimp. As in, she can’t even be around people who are eating shrimp because she might come into contact with the proteins. I wrote it on everything. Everything.”

Margot motioned to the field refrigeration unit where she had taped a neon-green sign that read PLEASE REMEMBER THAT MRS. SUTTER IS HIGHLY ALLERGIC TO SHRIMP.

Jean waved her off. “I do not read the cards. My sous chef reads the cards.”

“Jean. Drop the French accent that we both know is about as real as that ridiculous hairpiece and tell me what you are feeding the mayor’s wife.”

The chef, whose real name was John Dill, shrugged and in his natural, Midwestern voice said, “The market didn’t have enough quail eggs, so I took the shrimp. It’s not a big deal. If she’s allergic, she’ll know not to touch it. People make too much of their food allergies anyway.”

“It’s just lovely to know that someone with that attitude is making food for innocent bystanders,” Margot snapped. She called out loud enough for the entire kitchen staff to hear, “Eighty-six the shrimp crostini. Throw them out and take the bags out of the tent. All of you wash your hands—twice—and any utensils that have touched the shrimp—also twice. I need one uncontaminated staff member to make a special shrimp-free plate of food for Mrs. Sutter so we can feed her tonight without poisoning her. Get it done, now.”

Jean was seething, but Margot didn’t give a single damn. Mandy popped through the plastic curtain, a stricken expression on her angular face.

“There’s a problem with the tower,” she said. “It’s too heavy to move. But they’re working on disassembling the shrimp trays to bring them back in before people notice.”

“I don’t care if it’s made of concrete. I need it—” Margot’s response was cut short by a strange honking ruckus from the greenhouse, followed by screams and crashing . . . and running?

One of Margot’s golden eyebrows rose. “What is that?”

Mandy grimaced. “Don’t flamingos eat shrimp?”

Margot dropped her clipboard and her headset to the ground and scrambled through the plastic curtain. “Oh, no.”

The flamingos were making a run at the shrimp tower, pink wings flapping, pecking at the waiters who were attempting to remove the shellfish. The guests were falling all over one another trying to get away from the shrimp-frenzied birds and in the process had knocked over several cocktail tables and the votive candles on top. Those candles had set fire to the tablecloths, which set off the greenhouse’s sprinklers and alarms. The parrots did not appreciate the clanging alarms or the sudden scramble of people. They broke free from their perches and were flying around the greenhouse, leaving “deposits” on the guests in protest. Oh, and Mrs. Sutter was purple and covered in hives.

Margot gave herself ten seconds to surrender to the panic. She let her stomach churn. She let her ice-cold hands shake. She allowed herself to hear everything and nothing all at once. In her head, she saw her career going up in flames with the tablecloths. The promotion and partnership she’d worked for were disappearing before her eyes in puffs of smoke. Everything she’d planned, everything she wanted in life, was slipping out of her fingers because of some misplaced shellfish.

And then Margot put a lid on her anxiety and did what she did best. She put out fires metaphorical and literal. She called an ambulance and the fire department, grabbed the EpiPen from Mrs. Sutter’s purse, and jabbed her in the thigh. Hell, she even took off her pumps and wrangled the shrimp-seeking flamingos back into the lagoon.

But the damage was done. The news photographers who’d prepared themselves for a boring evening shooting glamour poses gleefully snapped photos of society matrons in soaked designer gowns and runny makeup dashing for shelter from the sprinklers. A guest who happened to be a member of PETA started screaming at Margot for mistreating the flamingos while trying to herd them away from (attacking) the guests. And a conservators’ board member handed her an invoice for the thousands of dollars in rare orchid species that had been trampled in the melee.

The next morning, an exhausted Margot sat slumped in the offices of Elite Elegance as her boss, Carrington Carter-Shaw, slapped newspapers with headlines like FLORAL FIASCO and REAL-LIFE ANGRY BIRDS! on her desk. One particularly cheeky tabloid had printed a picture of Margot beating the smoldering remains of a matron’s hairpiece with a wet napkin under the headline FLOWER POWER F***-UP!

“How could you let this happen?” Carrington cried, her carefully blown-out dark hair dancing around her heart-shaped face. “We’re the laughingstock of the Chicago social scene. Guests from last night are trying to stick us with dry-cleaning bills, medical bills—Michelle Biederman claims a parrot flew off with her two-karat diamond earring! The mayor’s office has contacted us—twice—to call our business license into question. I had to move three guys from the mail room just to handle the incoming phone calls. Margot, you’re my star! My rock! You can make a backyard potluck birthday party look like a black-tie gala. You’re the planner I call when it’s clear in the first meeting that the client is absolutely batshit insane. What happened?”

Margot wanted to blame the untested Chef Jean and his “inspired” impromptu shrimp, but ultimately the fault rested with her. She’d lost control of the party. She’d lost control of the food. She’d lost control of two dozen species of birds.

“I don’t know,” Margot mumbled, shaking her head. She took a prepackaged stain wipe out of her Prada clutch and dabbed at a questionable blotch on her lapel. “It all happened so quickly. I—I know, at this point, the partnership is off the table—”

“Partnership?” Carrington scoffed. “Honey, I can’t even keep you on staff. You’re professional poison. I’m going to have to fire you and do it in a very public manner—I mean, picture the polite urban equivalent of putting you in stocks in the town square and pelting you with rotten fruit—so people know that our company is safe to use again.”

Margot let loose a breath she didn’t know she’d been holding. She nodded. In some way, she’d been expecting this. She knew it would be rough for a while and she would have to put off some bullet points in her five-year plan, but she could handle this. She had contingency funds and a secret contact list of important people who owed her favors.

Margot cleared her throat and tried to straighten her rumpled suit jacket. “And what, you’ll shuffle me out to one of the branch offices in the suburbs and I’ll organize bar mitzvahs until this all blows over?”

Carrington frowned. “No, Margot. Fired. As in employment permanently terminated. The partners are willing to give you a three-week severance in recognition of the work you’ve done for us. And I’ll write you a positive recommendation letter. But that’s it.”

“But I’ve worked here for almost ten years. I’ve put in eighty-hour weeks. Ninety during the holiday party season. I don’t have a social life because I’m always here. I haven’t been on a date in more than eight months.”

“Yes, I know. That’s why you get the third week of severance pay. Really, Margot, I think we’re being more than generous here, considering the fallout from this fiasco.”

As Margot walked out of Elite Elegance’s plush offices with a banker’s box full of her belongings and a severance check in hand, she told herself that it would be okay, that this was what backup plans were for, that this situation couldn’t possibly get worse.

It got worse.

Stage one of Margot’s plan had been to retreat to her apartment to regroup, polish up her résumé, and compose a list of companies she could apply to, but her unit’s new tenants kept stopping by to measure for new flooring and curtains. Just a week before the “Floral Fiasco,” she’d given up her lease in preparation to move to a newly purchased condo in Wicker Park. Between the down payment she’d saved and the raise she was supposed to get with her promotion, she would have been able to afford it. But the day after she was fired, she’d gotten a call from the mortgage officer handling her condo loan. Mrs. Meade had seen the news about the greenhouse incident and her firing, and informed Margot that without a job, the mortgage company could not guarantee her loan. The only good news was that the mortgage company was willing to return 70 percent of her down payment. So now, with her lease running out and her condo being sold to someone else, Margot was effectively homeless.

And still, it got worse.

Without a job, she couldn’t get an apartment in a decent building. And the buildings where she could get an apartment were not places where she wanted to live. And she could not find a job. Anywhere. Receptionists laughed and hung up when she called the best event-planning companies in Chicago. Receptionists from second- and third-tier event-planning companies in Chicago also laughed at her. She couldn’t get the companies in New York or Los Angeles to call back. Hell, she couldn’t get companies in St. Louis to return her calls. She still had her savings, but thanks to Mastercard and her monthly expenses, they were dwindling quickly.

Her friends weren’t returning her calls or messages, either. And she couldn’t turn to her adoptive father for help. Gerald hadn’t spoken to her since her mother’s funeral three years before. And she’d promised herself that she wouldn’t take a dime after her parents made their last tuition payment. She still had the shreds of her pride.

The shreds were costing her. She was three days away from living in the storage unit where she’d moved her stuff, sitting at her breakfast bar—because it was the only table space she had left—actually filling in a JobLink profile, when a Skype notification popped up on her laptop. The message said it was from “hotsy-totsy45.”

Margot frowned. She used this account for after-hours and long-distance consultations with clients. She definitely would have remembered a client nicknamed hotsy-totsy45. Leaning back from the screen, she clicked decline.

Blowing a long breath out through her nose, Margot continued to fill out the JobLink form. Another notification from hotsy-totsy popped up.

“Still a ‘no,’ creep,” she muttered, clicking decline again.

But hotsy-totsy would not be denied. And given the amount of chardonnay Margot had consumed just for the sake of not having to move it out of her apartment, it wasn’t surprising that her hand slipped a bit and she clicked accept.

“Damn it!” she grunted, trying to close the chat window before it opened. She did not want to witness the latest in creative junk shots currently being embraced by the Internet’s weirdos. But instead of the expected random nudity, Margot’s screen was filled with the face of an adorable little granny lady with a cloud of snow-white hair and Dalmatian-print reading glasses balanced on the tip of her nose.

“Hello?”

A brilliant smile lit up the granny lady’s face, showing teeth too white and too even to be original parts. “Well, hello there! It took me a little while to track you down, but here you are!” the lady crowed in a Southern drawl so pronounced that Margot had trouble processing what she was saying at first. “You look just like I thought you would. A lot like your mama, mind, but you got a bit of your daddy in there, too. Of course, I thought you’d be a little more polished up, but I’m guessing you haven’t left your house in a while.”

Margot caught sight of her appearance in the little preview window in the corner of the screen and winced. She looked like someone who was unemployed. She was wearing a grubby Northwestern sweatshirt. Her carefully highlighted blond hair was piled into a haphazard topknot. She was wearing her thick-rimmed black glasses, making her hazel eyes look owlish and too big for her face. She hadn’t worn makeup in days, so her skin had taken on a cheesy appearance in the blue light of the computer screen.

“I’m sorry, do you know my parents?” she asked. As friendly as this lady might be, she didn’t exactly look to be Linda and Gerald’s speed. Linda McCready, a nobody from nowhere with traces of a Low Country accent and a toddler daughter in tow, had managed to snag Gerald Cary, MD, while she was working as the records clerk in the hospital where the handsome British expat practiced surgery. She had spent considerable time and energy clawing her way into the upper middle circles of Chicago society. Linda Cary would have gone blind before she wore Dalmatian reading glasses.

“Well, your mama and I were never close, but your daddy is my nephew, so I guess you could say I know that sad-sack face of his pretty well,” the woman said with a chuckle.

Margot’s jaw dropped. Her stepfather had adopted her when she was four years old. But considering that he was from just outside London, it was unlikely he had relatives in Georgia. “You know Gerald?”

“No, honey, your daddy. What do you young people call it—your ‘biological father.’ Stan McCready. I’m your great-aunt Tootie.”

“Beg pardon?” Even Margot couldn’t be sure which part she was questioning—the “biological” bit or the ridiculous nickname. Even in the South, people knew better than to name their children Tootie, right?

“I’m Stanley McCready’s aunt, honey.”

Stanley McCready. Margot slumped on her bar stool. She’d never met her father’s family. Linda had made no secret of her “unfortunate” first marriage to a man named McCready, but she’d referred to it as a youthful mistake she’d corrected when Margot was barely three years old. Stanley was a heavy drinker, Linda had insisted, a train wreck of a man who couldn’t provide for them. After Linda left, he’d almost immediately given up his rights to his daughter without so much as a court motion.

Margot didn’t know where he lived. She couldn’t remember what he looked like. Her mother had never even shown her a picture, insisting that it would be disloyal to Gerald. Neither Mr. McCready nor his family tried to contact her in thirty years, which was fine with Margot. She didn’t have room in her life for an irresponsible drunk who couldn’t be bothered to send so much as a birthday card. And frankly, she resented the idea that her father’s family only reached out now, when she was at her lowest.

And it wasn’t even her father, just some wacky great-aunt with a ridiculous name.

“You know, I thought you’d have that nasal-sounding Chicago accent, but you sound like you should be having tea with the queen. So proper and prim. I suppose that’s your mama in ya. Did she make you take those diction lessons?”

“No, I just like using all the letter sounds.”

The woman snorted a bit and said, “My point is, honey, I’ve been looking for you for weeks now, after I saw the video of your party on YouTube. I spotted you and knew you had to be Linda’s daughter.”

“YouTube?” Margot winced. “How many hits did it get?”

“Hundreds of thousands! Honey, you’re your own meme!” Tootie exclaimed. Suddenly, a window popped up in the corner of Margot’s screen, showing one of the press photos of Margot herding the flamingos away from the shrimp tower with giant print reading NO CAN HAZ SHRIMP, FLAMINGOZ! NO CAN HAZ!

Margot buried her face in her hands. She’d spent most of her twenties carefully policing her own social media posts so as not to damage her professional reputation. And now this. Also, her great-aunt seemed to be awfully tech savvy for a woman who looked to be in her eighties.

“Well, thanks for contacting me and mocking me with age-appropriate Internet humor . . . and dredging up a bunch of unresolved emotional issues,” Margot muttered. “But I’m going to have to sign off now.”

“Oh, sure, honey, I’m sure you’re busy with your job search. How’s that going?”

“I’ve submitted quite a lot of résumés,” Margot said, trying to sound casual.

“Any interviews yet?” Tootie pressed.

Margot floundered a bit while searching for an answer. “It’s still early. You don’t want people to think you’re too eager.”

“Not one callback, huh?”

Margot pursed her lips. “Not one.”

“Well, that’s just fine, because I have a proposition for you.”

Margot’s instinct to say no right that second was quelled when the bank paperwork that showed her checking account balance caught her eye. “What sort of proposition?”

“We need an event planner here at the family business. We’d be willing to provide room, board, and a generous salary.”

“How generous?”

“Well, now, you’ve got to remember that the cost of living is much lower here as opposed to the big city,” Tootie cautioned.

“How generous?” Margot asked again, and Tootie’s blue eyes sparkled behind those reading glasses.

“Here, I’ll send you the compensation package the family put together.”

Another box popped up on Margot’s screen. She clicked on the file and grimaced at the salary, which was about one-quarter of what she’d made at Elite Elegance. “How much lower is the cost of living there? Also, where is ‘there’?”

“Did you notice that the package includes health insurance?” Tootie asked. “When does your coverage run out?”

“Soon,” Margot grumbled. “Also, I noticed you didn’t answer the question about location.”

“And I’m guessin’ from the packing boxes in the background that your lease runs out pretty soon, too. So really, I could see why you would want to stay where you would be homeless and at risk of huge medical bills, in a city where you could be mugged or run down by a taxi or have a windowpane fall on you from twenty stories up. That’s far preferable to coming down to Georgia, to a town where the crime rate is next to zero.”

Margot had never passed the Mason-Dixon Line, not even to Florida. Her mother had always insisted on family vacations to Lake Geneva, to New York, to France. Anyone could go to Disney World, she’d told Margot; Linda was trying to give Margot the world. Margot didn’t know how well she would function in a rural environment, much less a place where she would constantly hear the banjo music from Deliverance in the back of her head.

“But my life is here. My friends are here. I need to stay where the jobs are. And right now, that’s in Chicago.”

“So you lay low for a few months in God’s country, get to know your kinfolk, get that city air out of your lungs, and then relaunch yourself at people who will have forgotten your foul-up once someone else messes up worse. It will be good for you,” Tootie told her.

Margot stared at the offer. Tootie had thought of everything: financial compensation, meals covered, a clothing allowance, and health insurance. She’d even attached a picture of a small cabin on the edge of a lake, labeled housing. And another photo of a huge family posed in front of a lakeside dock. Tootie stood with an older man, holding his hand. Two couples in their fifties stood behind them next to a man with deep frown furrows barely touched by his lopsided smirk. His arm was thrown around a twentyish girl with purple-streaked hair in pigtails wearing a black T-shirt with a pink radiation symbol on it. Another couple stood on the far left, a man in his thirties with curly reddish-blond hair hugging a laughing blonde. The sun was setting behind the family and they looked so happy together, so at ease with one another. And it felt like a punch to the chest. These people didn’t miss her at all. They didn’t feel a Margot-shaped hole in their family, they’d just moved on without her. It shouldn’t have hurt as much as it did. She’d spent a lot of time on visualization exercises so it wouldn’t hurt. And yet . . .

She cleared her throat. “The whole family put this together? Even my . . . even Stan?”

“Everybody,” Tootie said emphatically.

Margot skimmed the top of the document and caught sight of the letterhead, which read McCready Family Funeral Home and Bait Shop.

“Funeral home? Wait, you run a funeral home? And a bait shop?”

“Well, it’s more of a full-service marina, but yes! For four generations now! You’re part of a Lake Sackett institution, hon.”

“Why would a funeral home–slash–bait shop need an event planner?”

“Well, the baby boomer generation is dropping like flies around here, so we’ve got more business than we can handle. We’ve needed to add another planning consultant for a while now, and when I saw your video and looked up your background, I knew you’d be perfect.”

“I’m an event planner. For major society parties, galas, charity balls, that sort of thing.”

“Well, a funeral is a kind of event. And some of the considerations are the same—timing, speeches, music, food, and such.”

“Oh, I just don’t think I could—”

Suddenly, the lights flickered out and her refrigerator died with a whine. Because she’d shut off utilities in preparation for the move to the condo that was supposed to have taken place the week before. But she had nowhere to go. And no health insurance.

She pursed her lips. “When can I start?”

AUNT TOOTIE—MARGOT was still refusing to call her that out loud, on principle—had been very helpful in organizing her immediate move to Lake Sackett. Using her above-generational-average tech skills, Tootie arranged for a local company to ship the few belongings Margot was bringing to Georgia. Tootie booked a flight from Chicago to Atlanta and then assured her that she’d have a car pick her up at the airport and drive her the two and a half hours to the lake country.

Tootie was just so efficient.

Three days later, Margot’s flight was taxiing down the runway at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport and she was clutching her cell phone to her chest. Margot had no idea what she’d face when she deplaned. She’d intentionally avoided reading up on the funeral home or her new base of operations because she was afraid that additional information would convince her to cancel the whole agreement.

Margot managed to find her bags without problems, but she couldn’t find the car service at the arrivals terminal. She scanned the little signs held by the handful of drivers near the exit. Not one of them said Cary. Maybe Tootie hadn’t sent anyone, she thought. Maybe she could take the airport transit system to the departures terminal and book a flight back to Chicago. She didn’t believe in signs, but maybe this was an omen. Maybe she wasn’t meant to meet her father’s family. Maybe she wasn’t supposed to live in Georgia. Maybe she should step back on the sidewalk before that enormous green truck barreling through the pickup area squashed her flat.

The battered early-model truck skidded to a stop in front of her. The side door was marked MCCREADY FAMILY FUNERAL HOME AND BAIT SHOP—LAKE SACKETT, GA in bold gold print.

Margot murmured, “Oh . . . no.”

Tootie hadn’t arranged for a car service. She’d sent a family member to pick Margot up. A stranger in a pickup truck. Everything inside of Margot seemed to tense at once. She’d thought she’d have at least a few more hours to pep-talk herself into the right frame of mind to meet any of her extended family—not to mention the little bottle of vodka she’d purchased on the plane to help prepare her to meet her father. But here it was, spewing exhaust at her, while the driver’s-side door opened. The windows were tinted too darkly to allow her to see the driver. Would it be Stan McCready? Was she ready for that? Was it too late to run back into the airport and hide behind the baggage carousel?

A man in his thirties—the man with curly reddish-blond hair from the family photo she’d studied relentlessly for the last three days—popped his head over the truck frame and grinned at her. His eyes, the same ocean blue as Tootie’s, glowed with amusement as he held up a poster-board sign that read WELCOME HOME, COUSIN MARGOT! in bright red glitter letters. The sign had been decorated with balloons and glittery star stickers. He waved it madly and yelled, “Hey!”

Definitely not her father, then. Margot stepped back, eyes wide, and in a move natural to someone who spent most of her life in a major city, pulled her purse closer to her body.

The bearded man scampered around the front of the truck and threw his arms around her. “Hey, cuz!”

“Who . . . are you?” Margot whispered as he squeezed her tight. His T-shirt smelled of citronella and sunscreen, a pleasant combination, but she generally liked her personal space bubble to be a little more . . . bubbly.

“Oh, I’m sorry! I’m Duffy McCready, your cousin. Well, my grandpa is your grandpa’s cousin, which always muddies the waters with third cousin and once-removed and all that. So we’ll just keep it simple and say ‘cousin.’?”

“And Tootie McCready sent you?” she asked, just in case there was some other half-wild McCready picking up his long-lost cousin at the domestic arrivals terminal.

“We’re so excited that you’re here,” he drawled in his heavy Georgian accent. “I’m sorry I’m late. I had this nightmare customer, refused to give up the search for Billy the Mythic Largemouth Bass. And then Atlanta traffic is always awful.”

“You’re still hugging me,” she noted.

“Sorry,” he said, detaching himself from her. He was a pleasant-enough-looking guy, thin but nicely muscled, with a cheerful face. He was dressed in well-worn jeans, work boots, and a plaid shirt over a forest-green T-shirt that read MCCREADY FAMILY FUNERAL HOME AND BAIT SHOP.

He attempted to take her Vuitton suitcase from her and she held firm to the handle, shaking her head. “I’ve got it.”

After he realized that she was not, in fact, going to let go of her luggage, he raised his hands in surrender. “Suit yourself. I just can’t believe I’m finally getting to meet you,” Duffy said, opening the passenger door for her. “Everybody’s excited that you’re comin’ back home.”

“Everybody?” Margot whimpered.

About The Author

 

Molly Harper is the author of two popular series of paranormal romance, the Half-Moon Hollow series and the Naked Werewolf series. She also writes the Bluegrass ebook series of contemporary romance. A former humor columnist and newspaper reporter, she lives in Michigan with her family, where she is currently working on the next Southern Eclectic novel. Visit her on the web at MollyHarper.com.

You can find Molly at

 

 

 

 

Return of the Chauffeur’s Son
(Movie Magic Romances Book 1)
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.

Grab your copy at
Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible Nook | Kobo


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.

 

Big Backlist Weekend with KC Burn & Tara Lain #2giveaways #Romance

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 my dear friend, KC Burn! I just got to hang out with her at RT and had such a good time. Kc is also a brilliant writer and one of her most popular books ever is North on Drummond. I think you’ll see why.

I’m giving away an ebook copy of Brush With Catastrophe, the second book in the The Aloysius Tales Series. I loved writing this book because it involves a geeky nerd, a favorite type of hero for me, and he’s an artist. Some of my most loved heroes are artists. I studied both painting and collage and love bringing those details to my stories.

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

 

North on Drummond
by K.C. Burn

Blurb: 
Sandy Bottom Bay, Florida – Come for the Haunts, Stay for the Beaches! Drew Drummond might call himself a psychic tarot reader, but he doesn’t believe in the supernatural. The business was left to him by his grandmother, and seemed the best way to rise above the chronic criminal behavior of the Drummond family. Despite his efforts, few of the townspeople consider him a good romantic match. Being gay only makes finding love more difficult. When Cliff Garcia, Drew’s teenaged crush, moves back to town and joins the police force, Drew doesn’t think he has a chance. After all, the skeptical cop considers Drew’s profession on par with professional con men, and Cliff had spent his entire school career feuding with Drew’s volatile brothers. Despite the obstacles, Drew and Cliff begin a fiery relationship. Just when Drew starts to believe they might have a chance, he suffers a head injury and begins having visions of the future. If Drew tells Cliff the truth, he’ll lose the man he’s falling for, but keeping his new ability a secret is no longer an option. If he can’t convince Cliff he’s for real, a murderer will walk free.

Available for purchase at

Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible | Nooks | Kobo

Excerpt

 A rapping sound, subtly different than the constant throb in his head, caught Drew’s attention. Was someone knocking at his kitchen door?

“Is anyone here? Drew? Kyle?”

Ah, so Cliff was here. Drew waited a moment, but he didn’t hear Kyle respond.

Drew pulled in a deep breath and forced himself to project his voice. “Come on in. The door’s open.”

Or he assumed it was. When he was home, he didn’t usually lock the door. Not only did he have very little worth stealing, no one in town was that stupid. Despite last night’s fiasco, his brothers were very protective of him, and from the explanations he’d been given, his concussion was a result of that. An accident of timing. Probably a good one, truth be told. Brett Cavanagh with a broken jaw would mean jail time for one or both of his brothers, whereas Drew with a concussion had been able to keep them safe. Although he still suspected there would be some harsh words exchanged next time Cliff came across either of them.

A muffled thump and a squeak told Drew Cliff had placed something heavy on the floor next to the kitchen table.

“Where are you?”

It was a good question. Where was Kyle? How long did it take to get rid of a client?

“In here.” This time Drew’s voice was quieter.

Cliff peered into the bathroom like he was doing a perp check— was that even what it was called? He’d only ever seen it on Law & Order when the cops busted into some suspect’s home; he’d never seen firsthand what happened when any of his relatives had been arrested.

In seconds, the wary cop became the concerned cop as Cliff knelt beside Drew.

“Are you okay? Did you fall? How’s your vision? I can call an ambulance.”

The barrage of questions had Drew blinking in shock, unable to answer any questions fast enough, but he reached out a hand to stop Cliff from pulling out a cell phone.

“I’m fine.” Drew let out a chuckle but stifled it quickly. “I just stopped here to rest a bit in the cool, and then I guess I dozed off.”

“And Kyle left you here like that?” Anger made Cliff scowl, and like a flash of lightning, Drew had his first insight into Cliff the man. One he should have twigged to earlier, but morphine was going to be the scapegoat for a lot of things. Cliff had a temper. Drew didn’t recall seeing signs of it in the teenaged Cliff, nor did he feel at all threatened, but a temper. He’d have to remember that.

“Well, he can’t exactly lift me up.”

Cliff’s scowl eased up not at all. “Then he should have texted me instead of going off God knows where and leaving you here on the floor.”

Another laugh escaped, and this one didn’t feel like knives dancing in his brain, which was a big improvement. “God and I happen to know he’s just in the front room, getting rid of a walk-in client. He’s coming right back.”

“Oh.” This time Cliff’s angry expression faded. “A client. Funny, I guess I never asked what you do for a living.”

Drew had no trouble interpreting the odd grimace on Cliff’s face. He’d seen it more than once. What did a Drummond do for a living aside from lie around drinking beer, or stealing shit and causing trouble?

About The Author

KC Burn has been writing for as long as she can remember and is a sucker for happy endings (of all kinds). After moving from Toronto to Florida for her husband to take a dream job, she discovered a love of gay romance and fulfilled a dream of her own — getting published. After a few years of editing web content by day, and neglecting her supportive, understanding hubby and needy cat at night to write stories about men loving men, she was uprooted yet again and now resides in California. Writing is always fun and rewarding, but writing about her guys is the most fun she’s had in a long time, and she hopes you’ll enjoy them as much as she does.

You can find KC Burn at
Website | FacebookTwitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Newsletter

Brush With Catastrophe 
(The Aloysius Tales Series, #2) 

By Tara Lain

 

Blurb:
Sammy Raphael is a crappy witch, and on top of that, he can’t seem to get a boyfriend. Where other supernaturals can bring down lightning and manifest wealth, Sammy can paint. Granted, the “prophetic” paintings he creates at night always come true, but they never predict anything important. Sammy feels like a total loser with a worthless ability.
One night he paints a gorgeous guy who turns out to be his secret crush, the human Ryder, but Ryder’s changed so much he’s almost unrecognizably beautiful. Then Sammy paints an angel who turns out to be a witch. But is that witch also a devil—a devil who can bring down Sammy’s whole community and everyone he loves? And why the hell does Ryder keep changing? Aloysius, the black cat familiar, always backs a winner. So why is he backing Sammy?
This is a 2nd Edition of BRUSH WITH CATASTROPHE
Available for purchase at

Excerpt

 

Sammy looked down into the soup. “That’s the only kind of guy who would ever be interested in me. A cheating rat.”

“Sam, that’s not so.”

His voice shook. “Why the hell do you think he even bothered with me to begin with? What would he want with a stupid loser if he was planning on cheating with half the fucking college?” The tears squeezed out and started to drip down his cheeks.

Ryder put the tray on the dresser and wrapped Sammy in his arms. “You’re not a loser at all. You’re one of the finest people I’ve ever known. You’re kind and funny and so smart. You paint like a master. Even if you do pick strange subject matter sometimes.” Ryder chuckled and nodded toward the painting on Sammy’s easel.

“You saw that?” Sammy snuffled. Maybe if he didn’t move too much Ryder would forget to let him go.

“Hard to miss that painting in a room the size of most closets.”

Pretty embarrassing. But compared to having had your energy drained by a cheating pig and your neck chained by the selfsame bastard while you were blacked out, painting a picture was small potatoes in the shame department.

“Ready to sleep?”

No. “Yeah.” Sammy pulled the pillows out from behind him and lay back down. Al crawled up next to him. His eyelids felt weighted. “Thank you so much for taking care of me. I’ll rest tomorrow, and I should be able to go to school on Monday.”

“Yes, you’ll rest tomorrow, and I’ll see that you do. I’m not going anywhere. I want to make sure that asshole doesn’t come back. I’ll sleep on your couch and be here to take care of you in the morning.”

Sammy shook his head. “No way a human can sleep on that couch. Aloysius won’t even do it. It has lumps the size of Everest. I’ll be fine. Really.”

“Not leaving, so forget about it.”

Sweeter words were never spoken. I don’t want to be alone. He opened his eyes a slit. Ryder gazed down at him. That expression. He remembered it—from the painting. His deep eyes. So soft. So much like love.

A thick fog of exhaustion rolled over Sam, and his eyes wouldn’t stay open. “Sleep in the bed with me and Al. We don’t move much. Sleep here… prommmmissse….”

Giveaway

Rafflecopter Giveaway

 

 

 

Big Backlist Weekend with Amy Lane and Tara Lain #2giveaways #Contemporary #Romance

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 my dear friend, Amy Lane! Keeping Promise Rock is the first book in the Promises Series and a romance classic. I’m giving away an ebook copy of Knight of Ocean Avenue, the first book in the Love in Laguna Series, and one of my most popular romances.

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

 

Keeping Promise Rock
(Promises #1)
by Amy Lane

Blurb:

Carrick Francis has spent most of his life jumping into trouble with both feet. The only thing saving him from prison or worse is his absolute devotion to Deacon Winters. Deacon was Crick’s sanity and salvation during a miserable, abusive childhood, and Crick would do anything to stay with him forever. So when Deacon’s father dies, Crick puts his college plans on hold to help Deacon as Deacon has helped him.

Deacon’s greatest wish is to see Crick escape his memories and the town they grew up in so Crick can enjoy a shining future. But after two years of growing feelings and temptation, the painfully shy Deacon finally succumbs to Crick’s determined advances and admits he sees himself as part of Crick’s life.

It nearly destroys Deacon when he discovers Crick has been waiting for him to push him away, just like Crick’s family did in the past. When Crick’s knack for volatile decisions lands him far away from home, Deacon is left, shell-shocked and alone, struggling to reforge his heart in a world where love with Crick is a promise, but by no means a certainty.

Available for purchase at
Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible | Dreamspinner

Excerpt

 WHEN Carrick was seven years old, his mother dated a Bible-thumping bigot who had taken one look at Carrick’s straight, dark hair, liquid black eyes, and pale skin and subsequently declared that “the little Mex kid could pass for white, so he didn’t reckon it would be too much of a problem raising him right.”

“The little Mex kid” had promptly kicked the fucker in the shins and run out of the house. His mother married Bob Coats anyway, but thank the good Lord, he’d never forced Crick to take his name.

Francis was his mother’s last name—and he liked it. Wasn’t so thrilled with her—especially after she married Bob—but the name sounded good. Sounded a hell of a lot better than “the little Mex kid,” anyway.

They moved to Levee Oaks, which could loosely be termed a “suburb” of Sacramento but wasn’t. Levee Oaks was an odd sort of town—sweet little suburban neighborhoods sat cheek-by-jowl next to horse property. The high school was part of a larger Sacramento district that covered some of the less savory parts of the city, but the grammar schools were all part of an elementary district, and so they behaved like the high school and junior high were on Mars and not worth their consideration. The result was a whole lot of confused junior high students and a high school environment that was known for sending substitute teachers screaming for tequila and a gun permit.

A lot of the residents in Levee Oaks had jobs in the considerably larger city of Sacramento. A lot of the residents didn’t have jobs, period. A whole lot of the residents attended one of the churches that seemed to sit large on every corner. After Carrick lived through his first flood at the age of eight and a half, he’d figured that the churches were there to keep the water back.

After living through another levee break only one year later, Crick figured the churches were not doing their job and were therefore pretty goddamned useless. This was why he started ditching out of Sunday school, which was how he met Deacon.

Ditching out of Sunday school was not as much fun as it sounded. There were no arcades, no movie theaters—hell, there was barely a 7/11 to haunt, and besides, he didn’t have any money, anyway. Mostly what Carrick did, dressed in his threadbare khakis and striped polo shirt, was wander. He’d wander up one narrow road, down one tiny road, and along East Levee Road, and finally, he’d find his way to the levee.

One day, he found his way to the levee and followed it to Deacon’s father’s horse ranch and fell in love.

At first, he thought he was in love with the place, because it was everything his own home was not. The ranch house was big enough (whereas his mother’s house always seemed too small) and painted a whimsical blue, with a nice little patch of lawn and a U-shaped driveway that circled around to the back, where the spread opened up a bit. There was a barn four times the size of the house and two work-out rings, as well as enough sun-browned pasture-land for twenty horses to graze comfortably outside, and enough sun-scorched riding land beyond that so that not all the workouts had to be in the workout rings.

But the house, as nice as it looked, was just a house, so the next thing Crick figured he loved was the horse, because she was—as Deacon said for years—one of the prettiest little fillies he ever did raise. Her movements were liquid-silver, her gait smooth as lube, and her color was a fine, dark chestnut. As Crick grew to love horses he had to agree with Deacon’s assessment—even when he thought that ‘lube’ meant engine grease.

So Crick fell in love with the horse next, but then he found his final love, and that was the boy in the ring, the one guiding that pretty little mare through her paces. His brow knotted in concentration, his face lit with some sort of holy joy—well, he really made the poetry of muscle, sinew, hide, and motion come alive.

Crick looked around and saw that there were a number of folks hanging off the fence of the workout ring, so he wiggled between two kids his own age and stood up on the lowest rail of the fence, the better to look over the top rail and get a better view.

“Isn’t she pretty?” the boy next to him whispered, and Crick looked at the horse and thought of wind.

“Yeah,” he said.

“Deacon says that if they can breed Lucy Star here and produce a stud, The Pulpit will start rolling in money.”

“Deacon?” It sounded grownup but pretty too. In the years that followed, Crick never got tired of hearing Deacon’s name.

The kid—a plain-looking boy with straight brown hair and a rather aggressive brow—nodded to the boy in the ring, and Crick found out what real love was all about.

Deacon Winters had been beautiful his entire life. Crick would never see him acknowledge it, even once, which was fine. Crick could do all the appreciating of Deacon’s beauty all by himself.

The boy in the ring took off his blue ball cap and revealed brown hair streaked blond by the sun, slicked back against his head with sweat and falling across his brow from what had once been a buzz cut on the top of his head. His face was a very square-ish oval—he had a square chin and high cheekbones and a wide forehead, and wide-set green-hazel eyes that were remarkably pretty, even in the glaring sun.

His face and hands were tanned, but his upper arms under his T-shirt were pale, and even at thirteen or fourteen, he was showing long swathes of knotty muscle in his biceps, chest, shoulders, and across his back. His wrist-bones were wide, because he had a bit of growing to do, and his collarbones peeked sharply through his sweat-soaked blue T-shirt.

Deacon had always thought of food last and horses first—one thing among many that had made Carrick love him even more over the years. Even so, the seeds of that love started at that very moment, as Carrick watched those wide, capable hands carry that horse through her paces like a cloud carried water from the sea to the valley.

Carrick couldn’t hardly contain himself, and when he couldn’t hardly contain himself, he never could contain his damned mouth.

“Geez, that’s a pretty horse. Did you breed her yourself? How old is she? Do you get to ride her? Damn, I want to ride her—do you think I could ride her? Are you Deacon? This boy says your name is Deacon and mine’s Carrick. Deacon’s not anything like Carrick, but maybe your name is Irish, like mine. My name is Irish because my mom is Irish, even though my real dad was Mex. But we don’t talk about him, so if I am Irish, and you are too, we could be brothers, right? I wouldn’t mind a brother, because my mom’s pregnant again and it’s another girl…,” and so on. Anything—anything—to get that boy to look up at him, to get him to respond, to get someone that beautiful to notice that Carrick existed.

But Deacon ignored him for the next fifteen minutes. He was working the mare, and that was where his concentration went, and that was all she wrote. The two boys next to Crick shifted on the fence and gave him pitying looks before hopping down and going elsewhere. (Crick found out later that they were clients, waiting for their riding lesson, and they would eventually form the background haze of his miserable adolescence.) Carrick was left there—him, his mouth, and the boy of his dreams.

Finally the workout was done, and Deacon led the mare off for water and a good brushing. He looked up at the little nuisance on the fence and jerked his chin, indicating that Crick should follow him.

“You want to ride?” he asked as Carrick trotted up beside him, and Carrick nodded furiously, for once blessedly silent.

“You want to ride, I’ll teach you after lesson hours. But you gotta help muck out the stables, right?”

Crick thought that sounded fair. Besides, even horseshit sounded better than Sunday school.

“And another thing,” Deacon said, looking down at Crick from what seemed an impressive height. (Crick would grow a good four inches taller, but he didn’t know that.) “Please don’t talk so much. You’ll spook the horses.”

Please don’t. It was as harsh as Deacon ever got. He didn’t talk much—never did. Teachers thought he was stupid until he aced their tests. Riding clients talked at him continuously, trying to get him to break into conversation, but Deacon would blush and turn away. It took Crick years to get him to open his heart and spill it out, and even then didn’t realize how rare it was that Deacon would talk to anyone at all. But all that impressive silence had its perks.

If Crick wanted to know if he’d ever crossed a line, all he had to listen for were those words, please don’t… and he’d subside.

Deacon had that effect on a person.

In fact, Carrick would later reflect that Deacon’s effect on him was about the only thing that kept Crick alive and out of prison during the next eleven years.

That evening, Parish Winters drove Carrick home, Deacon on the other side of him in the big, steel blue Chevy truck. Crick liked Deacon’s dad—he had gray hair, a weathered face, and a sort of sweetness around his smile. Deacon might have had the same sweetness, but he tended to pinch his mouth closed, concentrating all the time.

It didn’t matter—Parish saw the heart of his son, and, in that first night, Crick could tell that he saw the heart of a lonely, angry boy as well.

“I reckon we’ll take the boy on Saturdays and Sundays,” Parish said after Crick’s stepdad had opened the door.

Bob Coats had made noises. “Sunday’s the Lord’s day! Boy belongs—”

“Wandering the levee, looking for trouble? I reckon the Lord would rather we kept him busy, you think?” Parish snorted, and Bob had opened his mouth to argue again, but one up-close-and-personal glare from Deacon’s father had shut him down.

“Now you listen here. This ain’t the first time I’ve seen your kid wandering the roads. You wanted to keep him in church on Sunday, you needed to spend some more time with him every other day.”

“He’s not my kid,” Coats denied hotly. “Little Mex bastard is Mel’s mistake. But we need him to take care of his sister….”

“Well, you’ll have to need him some other days, then,” Parish said, his implacable face a testament to his disgust.

“Why this kid, Winters?” Coats asked snidely. “He’s pretty enough—is that your thing?”

Carrick had looked up as though shot. It was like Bob Coats had seen directly into his heart and made note of the lovely glow that had surrounded it since he’d seen Deacon. But Coats was purely invested in pissing off Deacon’s father, and it worked. Parish grabbed Crick’s stepdad by the front of the sweat-stained T-shirt and shoved him against the door.

“You listen here, you ignorant bastard,” he growled. “My son is a good kid—he gets good grades, he works his ass off—and he don’t ask for nothing but the right to sit a horse. Birthdays, Christmases—that boy’s been neck deep in sweaters, because he doesn’t want a damned thing. Until today. Today he asked me for Carrick to work at The Pulpit two days a week. And since you don’t give a damn about that boy, I’m going to give Deacon what he wants and Crick here what he needs.” Parish punctuated this speech—one of the longest Crick would ever hear him make—with a shove at Bob’s shirt against the door.

“If you want him that bad you can have him!” Coats spat to the side then, and Crick barely missed getting snot in his hair. “But he damned better be here after school to watch the little one for his mom.”

“I will!” Carrick swore fervently. He actually didn’t mind sitting the baby—Bernice, Benny for short, was a sweetheart with a wicked smile. Until he’d talked to Deacon Winters, his two-year-old sister had been about his best friend.

And so it had started. Carrick’s lifelong love affair with horses—and with Deacon Winters—was well on its way.

The next weekend, when Crick was ass-deep in horseshit and still happier than he’d be watching television at home, he asked why. Why’d Deacon put him and his daddy out to rescue Crick from domestic misery?

Deacon had shrugged and grinned at him. His grin was a tight-muscled, sunshine-powerful thing that made Carrick’s stomach fly. “You’re as honest as a horse, Crick. Loud, but honest. That don’t come easy.”

So Crick had a quality—a virtue of sorts. He clung to it. There were some difficult years—some damned rough years, in fact—but Deacon had seen honesty in him, and Crick determined that Deacon would never see anything less.

Which was why, that very same weekend, when Deacon put him on the back of a horse and walked that placid, bombproof gelding around the circle with a gait as soft as a cotton ball on a cloud, Crick had grinned fiercely at his hero and laughed. “Dammit, Deacon, it’s awesome… but I want to go faster!”

Deacon tilted his head back and laughed. “All right, Speedy. Let’s try a canter.”

And Crick held on for dear life. He never realized that from that moment forward, so did Deacon—but Deacon did manage to drop him some hints.

The time Crick got busted for smoking weed under the high school bleachers in the sixth grade, Deacon had dropped a big one.

At Crick’s (panicked, tearful, shameless) begging, the school authorities had called Parish to take him in hand instead of his mom and stepdad, and Deacon had come with him.

If Crick had room for one more request, it would have been that Deacon would never have known about his complete idiocy. The kid who asked him had Deacon’s brown hair and eyes, only a little darker, and grooves in the sides of his cheeks, and he had… had smiled at Crick. Had let him in on the joke. Had copied off his math homework and given him some cookies from his lunch in return. It was as close as Crick would ever get to actual popularity—smoking weed hadn’t seemed like that big a price to pay.

Then he saw the fearsome look on Deacon’s face as Parish’s big blue pick-up drove up, and it had seemed like entirely too high a cost.

Parish had needed to deal with the school authorities—and from what Crick figured out, a whole lot of lying had gone on about how Bob and Melanie Coats would be the first ones to know and how a month’s worth of detention would be impossible for him to serve, since he was helping at The Pulpit to feed his family.

And while Parish was doing that, Deacon was making a month’s worth of detention sound like a dream come true.

“What. In. The. Hell.” It was all he could say. Crick stared at his hero as Deacon struggled with words, with breathing, and with the tremble of temper in his hands as he apparently debated whether to strangle Crick or turn him over his knee.

“I’m sorry, Deacon.” He tried to be stoic. Oh, he really did, but the tears were slipping out, and his nose was starting to run. Screw Brian Carter and his Oreo cookies—he’d trade them all just to have Deacon’s good opinion back.

“Do you know what happens if you smoke weed, get drunk, do stupid shit like this? Do you have any idea?” Crick’s back was to the school wall, and Deacon was looming over him, his fist pulled back and cocked like he was going to hit something. Crick didn’t quail. Bob tanned his hide at least twice a week—Crick could handle pain, and this time he deserved it.

“I’m sorry…. Please don’t say I can’t come over any more. Please let me keep working at The Pulpit….”

Deacon let his fist fly—straight at the wall above Crick’s head. He grunted at the impact, and Crick heard bones crunch, but Deacon just looked down at him, holding his blood-dripping hand and shaking his head.

“That shit can kill you on a horse. Horses don’t know drunk from mean, you don’t know a buzz in your brain from a tree in your head—you do that shit, you can’t come around no more. That shit’ll get you killed!”

Crick looked at the blood on Deacon’s hand and cried harder. Without hardly knowing what he was doing, he rubbed the abused knuckles with his thumb. “I won’t, Deacon. Please. Just… just please don’t be mad at me. Don’t….”

“Why’d you do it?” Deacon asked, shaking off the attention as he always did.

Crick hiccupped and yielded to the one virtue he’d ever been accused of having. “He was nice to me, and I was lonely.”

Deacon dropped his head with a sigh and carefully repositioned his baseball hat with his good hand. “You gotta hold out for the weekends, Crick. Just remember, you got friends and family from Saturday morning to Sunday night. Please don’t make me say you can’t come over. Please.”

Oh, Jesus. Deacon had said “please.”

Parish came out and got them then, and he took his son to the ER at Kaiser in the city without much more than a “Jesus Christ, Deacon—you couldn’t lose your temper on a pillow or something?”

When the hand and wrist had been stitched and set in a cast, he’d taken the boys out for ice cream. There had been no mention of school, detention, or the many reasons drug abuse was bad and horses were good. There was just the three of them, eating ice cream and asking Deacon how he was going to hold the reins with the awkward cast on his hand. Deacon shrugged. “That little gelding’s so sweet, I just gotta think in the right direction. We’ll be all right.”

And they were. Crick’s troubles were by no means over, but following Parish’s and Deacon’s examples, that was his last flirtation with substance abuse. Of course, three days later, after Deacon’s cast had been replaced with the waterproof fiberglass variety, Deacon took Crick on a trail ride along with Deacon’s best friend, wide receiver Jon Levins, and Deacon gave him another reason to never risk losing the best thing in his life.

The Sacramento River could be downright foul in some places, but in Levee Oaks, there were a few tributaries, mostly used for irrigation, that were both deep and clean. One of these ran through the far end of The Pulpit, complete with a big granite rock underneath a couple of oak trees. Deacon called it Promise Rock, and so did Jon, and Crick caught their excitement as they packed up the saddlebags with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches, apples, water, and towels.

The ride itself wasn’t long, but it was hot. You didn’t wear your swimming trunks on the back of a horse, and it was already in the nineties, even though it was only May. They didn’t care. Parish and Patrick, The Pulpit’s one permanent employee, were off showing Lucy Star, trying to get up points so Lucy Star’s babies could be sold with a pedigree. Deacon had been slated to show her until he broke his hand, so there were no riding lessons and no football practice and pretty much nothing but mucking out stalls and working the other animals until the damned cast got taken off.

Deacon had asked nicely, and he and Parish figured that taking three horses to the end of the property and back counted as working them. The result amounted to a holiday better than going to the zoo or the movies or anything else that Crick hadn’t been able to do because step-Bob hadn’t wanted to spring for it.

For one thing, Crick got to ride a horse just as far and as fast as he wanted. Ever since his first ride around the little circle, Crick had lived and died for that chance to be free, and the only thing different about this was that there were two other horses in front of him, going mach one with their tails on fire.

It was awesome.

Eventually, they had to slow to a canter, which was probably good, because the muscles in his legs were going to give out—it was hard work holding on to a horse in a gallop, even harder if you were going to ride him, help him with the lifting of your body and the guiding of your legs and hands and stomach. About the time Crick thought he was going to humiliate himself by asking for a sedate walk, the oak trees they were heading for became clearly visible over the scorched fields that Parish mowed once a year for hay.

A little more cantering and they were swinging off the horses and leading them to the sloped bank of the swimming hole for water, and Crick got a good look at the only place in his life he’d ever held sacred.

Promise Rock was nothing really—a stand of rocks above a wide, deep spot in something less than a river and more than a stream. The rocks were surrounded by oak trees, so the place was shady, and they were sentinel oaks, so there were no scorched grasses in their shade. But the air there, in the shade and by the water, was about fifteen degrees cooler than it had been crossing the field, and they were far enough away from the levee and the roads that the only sounds there were the jangle of tack and the boys’ rough, happy breathing now that the ride was done. It was pretty, peaceful, and secret, and for the first time in his life, Crick felt like he was in the center of things. Only this little group of people—and Parish, of course—knew about this swimming hole. There was no trash, no used condoms or soda cups, and no reminders about step-Bob or his little sisters or the classes he hated or the fact that the whole rest of his life seemed to be wrapped up and tied into this crappy little town.

Crick thought that if The Pulpit was his world and Parish was his holy father, then Promise Rock was the church where he’d come to worship.

Deacon had the saddlebags, and he rustled inside them quickly and then threw trunks at Jon and Crick and began to strip off his own clothes to put his on without ceremony.

Crick tried hard not to swallow his tongue.

He’d always known he was in love with Deacon Winters, but he’d figured that was a “normal” kind of emotion that every boy felt for a hero. The boys around him had been talking about girls, and as sixth grade progressed, Crick had assumed he eventually would want to look at them and talk about them too. He had been afraid of that time—because it would mean less of his soul was centered on Deacon—but he assumed it was an age thing and it would pass.

Deacon’s skin was pale—especially next to Jon, who was tanned and blond from days in his parents’ swimming pool—and he had scars from riding and playing ball and one across his stomach from an appendix surgery, so he was not perfect. But oh God and boy howdy, was that boy beautiful. The tight, knotty swathes of muscle he’d seen the first time he’d seen Deacon had massed out a little in the last two years, but he still didn’t eat quite enough. His collarbones stood out vulnerable and delicate from his defined chest, and the hollow between his neck and the slope of his shoulders seemed to be especially tender. He had a flat beauty mark next to his right nipple, and another one low on his collarbone, and Crick tried hard—very hard—not to stare at the same time he was memorizing their positions so he could claim them at some later date. He had to take off his own clothes anyway, or he’d look like a dork, so for a minute that broke his concentration.

He had just skinned off his underwear when Jon said something inconsequential and witty, making Deacon throw back his head and laugh, and Crick looked up instinctively.

Oh God. Deacon was naked, his trunks held out in front of him as he prepared to step in, and Crick got a clear view of him, laughing and nude and beautiful enough to make his heart break.

And his little pecker stood at attention with a rush of blood Crick swore came directly from his brain. He flushed—probably so badly it looked worse than sunburn—and threw on his trunks haphazardly. Without looking at either of the other boys, he gathered his clothes into a knot and dropped them in a little wad up on the rock, then looked up with the most innocence he could muster.

“Can we just jump right on in then?” he asked, and Deacon nodded with a slight smile.

Thank God the water was cold, or Crick might have tried to drown himself in it, just for form.

As Jon and Deacon ran up the rock and leapt in from the height to a shrieking splash in the swimming hole, Crick had time to come to a couple of realizations.

He was never going to start looking at girls.

And he would probably love Deacon Winters truly and deeply for the rest of his entire life, in the way that most men loved their wives.

And someday, because Deacon thought he was honest, he would have to take his balls in one hand and his heart in the other and tell Deacon himself.

But not on this day. On this day, he would laugh and splash with Deacon and Jon. On this day, he would laugh at Jon (who was as extroverted and witty as Deacon was not) and watch Deacon on the sly to see his eyes crinkle and his mouth open wide as he laughed.

On this day, he would listen to the older boys shyly talk about their girlfriends and try very hard not to break his heart over it. They were not flirting with each other—and a phantom girl that Crick could not see did not feel like much of a threat.

On this day, Crick would be happy, and he would be good, and he would strengthen his resolve to behave at school so that Deacon would never again have to see the worst of him, the way his mom and step-Bob did.

He managed to make that resolution stick for three years.

About The Author

Amy Lane has two kids in college, two gradeschoolers in soccer, two cats, and two Chi-who-whats at large. She lives in a crumbling crapmansion with most of the children and a bemused spouse. She also has too damned much yarn, a penchant for action adventure movies, and a need to know that somewhere in all the pain is a story of Wuv, Twu Wuv, which she continues to believe in to this day! She writes fantasy, urban fantasy, and gay romance–and if you accidentally make eye contact, she’ll bore you to tears with why those three genres go together. She’ll also tell you that sacrifices, large and small, are worth the urge to write.

You can find Amy at
Website | Twitter | Amy Lane Anonymous–Facebook Group

Knight Of Ocean Avenue
By Tara Lain

Blurb: 

How can you be twenty-five and not know you’re gay? Billy Ballew runs from that question. A high school dropout, barely able to read until he taught himself, Billy’s life is driven by his need to help support his parents as a construction worker, put his sisters through college, coach his Little League team, and not think about being a three-time loser in the engagement department. Being terrified of taking tests keeps Billy from getting the contractor’s license he so desires, and fear of his mother’s judgement blinds Billy to what could make him truly happy.

Then, in preparation for his sister’s big wedding, Billy meets Shaz—Chase Phillips—a rising star, celebrity stylist who defines the word gay. To Shaz, Billy embodies everything he’s ever wanted—stalwart, honest, brave—but even if Billy turns out to be gay, he could never endure the censure he’d get for being with a queen like Shaz. How can two men with so little in common find a way to be together? Can the Stylist of the Year end up with the Knight of Ocean Avenue?

Available for purchase at

Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audiobook

 GAGA’S “EDGE of

Glory” played in his ear. Damn. Quit.
He reached out and pawed at the edge
of the coffee table until he finally felt the phone. His fingers found the mute
button and he clicked it. Peace. He tried to roll over. Heavy.

 “Merwaorwr.”

“Mewr.”

Claws dug into his
chest as the weight lifted, then disappeared. “Go back to sleep.” He rolled
over until his face and body were pressed against the back of the couch. Ouch.
His dick hurt. Sleep. Ouch.

Well, damn. Slowly
he rolled onto his back and stared at the ceiling. He glanced to the side.
Clancy and Yerby gazed at him like they could command him with will force alone
to open the tuna. “Hang in there, guys.”

Oh man. Not hung
over. He’d had half a beer. But here he lay fully clothed on his couch, aching
in his bones and feeling like someone had kicked him in the nuts. That would be
him. He’d done it to himself.

He swung his legs
over the side, sat up on the edge of the couch, and dropped his head. Four eyes
stared up at him. “Go open it yourself.”

Three times. He’d
wanked himself into oblivion three times while rewinding that frigging porno.
Was there one line he didn’t engrave in his brain? Every “unh, unh, unh. Fuck
me harder” was emblazoned in his memory. Jesus, Ballew. Yeah, Jesus was the
operative word. But if he was going to hell for jerking off, he’d be taking
every male in the world with him.

Of course, he didn’t
just masturbate; he wanked to gay porn. What the hell is that about? Truth?
He’d been kicked in the teeth so many times by so many women, the idea of
fucking a nice uncomplicated man kind of did it for him. Well, not seriously,
but the theory was attractive. And no, he would not be sharing this revelation
with the guys on the job site.

The bang on his door
about sent him into outer space. Who the hell? Nobody came here. He didn’t
share his address much. No poker with the boys or make-out sessions with the
girls. His place. His. Who was it?

The knocking came
again.

Shit!

He jumped up.
“Yeah?” The cats looked up at his loud voice.

“Billy, it’s Jim.”
The voice came through the door.

Jim. Billy looked
around, grabbed the laptop, closed it tight, and slid it onto the end table.
Lube. Shit. He shoved the open tube into the drawer, then staggered over to the
front door. How much did he smell like sex? Damn, his sweats were halfway to
his knees. He dragged them back up, then opened the door.

 “Hi. Sorry,
overslept.” He ran a hand through his hair.

Jim Carney was a
little older than him and a good guy, if a bit of a hound dog. He grinned.
“Sorry. My truck broke down. I was kind of close to here and remembered your
address. Thought I’d see if I could get a ride.”

“Uh, sure.” He
glanced over his shoulder. It felt strange having somebody here. “Come on in. I
need to feed my cats and take a quick shower, if you want to wait.”

“Sure. Too far to
walk and all uphill.” He stepped in. “You have cats?”

 Billy looked at Jim.
The guy had a tough face with a broken nose that some women liked. “Yeah, I got
two. You like cats?”

“No. Just think it’s
kind of funny that you do.” He smacked Billy’s shoulder. “You crazy cat lady,
you.”

Well, hell. “Make
yourself at home.” Kind of. He walked into the kitchen, the boys behind him,
and scooped out some cat food into both dishes. “Here ya go, guys.” He raised
his voice. “Don’t let feline haters make you feel bad.”

Jim laughed from the
living room. “This is quite a place you have. Jesus, man, what are you, some
closet decorator?”

Billy frowned and
walked into the living room. “No, I just like having a nice place of my own.”

“But you’re so
damned neat.” He was holding a glass globe Billy had found in a yard sale.

“So?” He took the
globe and put it back on the shelf.

“Nothing. No wonder
women like you so much.”

“I’m taking a quick
shower.” He started for the bedroom, stopped and grabbed the laptop, then went
into his room—small with a big bed.

He glanced at his
watch, still ticking on his wrist. Double shit. If he didn’t hurry, they’d both
be late for work. Saturday shifts were good for making extra cash, but not if
he didn’t get there.

 He stepped under the
water. Too cold. Shaved so fast he nicked himself and finally got some clothes
on and hurried back into the living room. Jim sat on the couch holding a book,
the two cats staring at him from across the room. He stared back. Billy laughed.
“Have they got you cornered?”

“Shit, man, those
two are scary. What are they, ninja attack cats?”

Billy sat and pulled
on his work boots. He nodded at the book. “What you got?”

Jim held out the
book. “This is heavy shit, my man.” The copy of Jane Eyre kind of weighed down
his hand.

Billy tried to keep
his brows from scrunching together. “I just like to read. I didn’t get to go to
school too long, so I read, okay?” He didn’t say he read because it was like a
fucking gift to finally be able to do it.

Jim set down the
book and stood up. “You really are different, you know?”

“Thanks a shitload.”

“I don’t mean it
bad. You’re just—not like most of the guys.”

 Man, was he tired of
hearing that.

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Big Backlist Weekend with Jennae Vale and Tara Lain #2giveaways #Historical #paranormalromance

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 Jennae Vale! A BRIDGE THROUGH TIME is the first book in the The Thistle & Hive Series. If you love sexy highlanders and time travel, then this is the series for you! I’m giving away an ebook copy of SPELL CAT, which is paranormal romance about witches in New York. Since Jennae’s book is historical time travel and my sexy witch is a history teacher who teaches about the witch trials I thought we could pair them up.

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

A Bridge Through Time
(Thistle & Hive Series, Bk #1)
by Jennae Vale

Blurb:
Ashley Moore’s life in San Francisco has hit a few snags, not the least of which involves sightings of a mystery man around every corner. Is she losing her mind or does he really exist? Her search for this grey-eyed stranger leads her to Scotland. There she meets a witch with a secret, a vindictive English knight who is bent on revenge, and she crosses a fog shrouded bridge into the arms of a 16th century Highlander.

Cailin MacBayne is no stranger to beautiful women, but has always managed to stay one step ahead of commitment. That all comes to an end when he meets Ashley. He doesn’t care where this beautiful, yet unusual lass came from, he’s just happy to have found her. Ashley cannot resist the handsome Scot and finds herself falling hopelessly in love. In the process, a secret is revealed, a battle is waged and Ashley must ultimately decide whether to return to her own time or give up her 21st-century life to stay with the love she has found in the past.

Available for purchase at
Kindle | Amazon Paperback | Audible

 

Excerpt

 

“Ashley, love.” Grey Eyes was calling her. “Where are ye? I’m waiting. Hurry.” He held his hand out to her, his eyes telling her something was wrong. She struggled to make her way through the invisible wall which held her back, but no matter how hard she tried, she couldn’t get to him, and as usual, he disappeared.

Ashley jolted upright, with her heart pounding in her chest and a sense of urgency she hadn’t felt before. His appearance was different this time. It left her feeling uneasy and anxious. Get a grip; it was just a… a what? What was it and why did it feel so real? Why did she feel such a connection to this man?

As Ashley prepared for her hike, her mind kept returning to the same questions. Could she possibly find him? Or had she gone completely stark, raving mad?This is getting you nowhere, Ashley; you have plans for the day. Besides, she’d have plenty of time to think about it on the hike, and she was anxious to begin. She was experiencing the same urgent pull, which had brought her all the way from California to Glendaloch.

Downstairs, Edna greeted Ashley with her usual exuberance. “Good morning, dear. Would you like something to eat before your hike?”

“I’m not very hungry this morning. I ate too much good food last night.” Ashley smiled and patted her belly.

“Well, I’ve packed you a bag to take with you, and as I promised, there’s plenty in there for you to snack on once you’ve walked off last night’s dinner.”

Ashley had expected a small lunch sack, so she was quite surprised to see a backpack sitting on the front desk instead.

“I know it seems a bit much, but I wanted you to be prepared for anything that might come up,” Edna continued.

Ashley didn’t want to seem ungrateful, so she thanked Edna, grabbed the backpack, and walked to the door, with the older woman

following close behind. When they exited the building, Edna pointed down the street. “Just past the last building down there on the left, is a path that goes out into the countryside. Just stay on it and you won’t get lost.”

“Thank you, I’m excited to start exploring.” Ashley was about to walk away when Edna grabbed her and pulled her into a hug.

“You’re a very special young lady, Ashley.”

Ashley had the distinct impression Edna was saying goodbye to her for the last time. She didn’t know how to respond, so she gave Edna a small wave and headed off towards the edge of town, with a prickle of apprehension running up her spine.

 About The Author

Jennae Vale is a best selling author of romance with a touch of magic. As a history buff from an early age, Jennae often found herself day-dreaming in history class – wondering what it would be like to live in the places and time periods she was learning about. Writing time travel romance has given her an opportunity to take those daydreams and turn them into stories to share with readers everywhere.
Originally from the Boston area, Jennae now lives in the San Francisco Bay area, where some of her characters also reside. When Jennae isn’t writing, she enjoys spending time with her family and her pets, and daydreaming, of course.

 

You can connect with Jennae at
Website | Facebook Page | Twitter | Goodreads | Amazon Page |

 

 

Spell Cat
by Tara Lain

Blurb:

When Killian Barth, history professor, meets Blaine Genneau, quantum physicist, they ignite their own big bang. But Killian can’t pursue a physics professor—or a human. As the most powerful male witch in ten generations, Killian must bolster his dying race by reproducing—despite the fact that he’s gay.

Even a fling with Blaine is out of the question, because Killian has been told sex with humans drains his power. But if that’s true, why can young human Jimmy Janx dissolve spoons with the power of his mind? If Killian can sort through the lies he’s been fed, he’ll still face his biggest obstacle — convincing rational scientist Blaine to believe in magic.

With his ancient and powerful cat familiar, Aloysius, on his shoulder, Killian brings the lightning against deceit and greed to save Blaine from danger and prove love is the greatest power of them all.

Available for purchase at
Dreamspinner Press | Amazon | B&N | iTunes | Kobo

Excerpt

He looked around and spotted the City Hall building a block away. That’s right; there’s a park there. He walked toward it, moving past the tall buildings and late-afternoon pedestrians. Inside the park, he stopped. Blaine sat on a park bench. Killian just wanted to stare at him. So beautiful. Not that perfect kind of beautiful like Moran. Blaine looked… what? Smart as hell, yes. Free, self-actuating, brave. That was a kind of beauty no picture-perfection could match. Oh gods, I love the way the black-rimmed glasses sit on his high-bridged nose.

Blaine looked up as if he’d felt Killian staring at him. Goal achieved. He looked entranced without benefit of spells.

Killian paused. It wasn’t without benefit of spells. The man was righteously bespelled. He took a breath. But at least he had Blaine for now.

He walked toward Blaine, putting a little extra sway in his walk.

The green eyes shone. “You look beautiful.”

Killian smiled. “Thank you. I wanted to be fitting of your surprise, whatever it may be. You look pretty yummy yourself.” It was true. Blaine was usually very casual, but he’d made an extra effort today. Freshly washed jeans, a white shirt, and a dark sport coat. What was the occasion?

Blaine looked up at Killian’s shoulder. “Hi, Al. Good to see you, buddy.”

“Merwaor.”

Blaine glanced at his watch. Hmm. Was he taking Killian to a show? Maybe he had a restaurant reservation. He patted the bench. “Come sit down.”

Killian sat. Curiosity gnawed. He glanced around the park for a clue. “I hardly ever come here. I forget what a great building the City Hall is.” He looked at Blaine. “Are we going on a tour?”

“Not exactly, but there is another building I want to show you, I hope in a few minutes.” Blaine’s eyes crinkled. He looked like he wanted to laugh.

“What’s going on? What’s the surprise?” Why did he feel anxious? Aloysius began to purr.

Blaine giggled. Giggled? Really? “I’m so bad at secrets.” Al’s purr got louder. Blaine reached in his pocket. Oh, Killian had an odd feeling.

Blaine pulled a box out of his pocket. Oh gods. He couldn’t breathe. Blaine opened the box, revealing the most beautiful antique gold and sapphire ring. He looked up at Killian. “I love you. I know it seems fast, but I think you feel it too. I’d like to walk you over to the marriage license office this afternoon and apply. Will you marry me?”

Killian couldn’t breathe or speak—he just stared at the ring. His life passed before his eyes. Every dream and barely acknowledged wish. Every lonely moment’s ache of longing. It lay there in that box. Tears pushed behind his eyes. He had to say yes. In all his life, no matter how long he lived, there would never be another moment like this. There would never be another Blaine. He looked up. “I can’t.”

A crease pushed between Blaine’s eyebrows. “You told me you weren’t going to marry her.”

“I’m not. Though I haven’t told the family yet.”

“So tell them you’re marrying me instead.”

“I can’t. You’re the most wonderful thing I’ve ever known, and that’s the most beautiful ring on earth. But I can’t.” And that was it. If his heart had one tiny sliver still intact, it broke.

Blaine took Killian’s hand, wringing it tight. “Why? Tell me.”

Killian sighed. So his hope to have this magic in his life just a little longer was over. “Because you don’t love me, really.”

“What the hell?”

“It won’t last, and soon you’ll be glad you dodged this bullet.”

“Bullshit! I’m a grown man, and I know how I feel.” Blaine glanced around at the few passersby and lowered his voice. “How can you believe that idiocy?”

“Because it’s true.” Aloysius bit Killian’s ear. “Ow. Dammit, Al.” He pushed the cat onto the bench.

“At least Al’s on my side.” Blaine took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Sweetheart, I know you’ve been sheltered and never allowed to explore your feelings for a man. It makes sense that you’d be nervous. Maybe expect me to leave like your father did. But I love you, and I want to be with you for the rest of our lives.”

Killian stared at his hands. “It can’t happen. You won’t love me much longer. Maybe days are all we have left. It’s different for everyone.”

“What’s different? Killian, you’re not making sense.”

It seemed there was only one way to persuade him. He looked up into those confused and beloved green eyes. “The spell is different.”

“What do you mean ‘spell’?”

Killian sat up straight. “I mean the witch’s spell I cast on you to make you love me. And Aloysius helped.” The cat hissed. “Get over it, Al.” He looked back at his hands. The hands Blaine was no longer holding. “The witch’s spell that is right now running out. Though in my defense, I had no idea you would be the target of the spell. If I could have taken it back, had you love me in truth, I would have done it a thousand times. If I could stop being a witch so you could love me, I’d do it in a heartbeat. None of those things are possible, even for me.” He looked up. Blaine—the human—stared at him with wide eyes.

“You’re a witch?”

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Big Backlist Weekend with Sasha Summers & Tara Lain – 2 Giveaways!

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 Sasha Summers! COWBOY LULLABY is her latest release and the sixth book in The Boones of Texas Series! If you love cowboys, this is the series for you! You can learn more about COWBOY LULLABY here.
Sasha is giving away an ebook of A Son for the Cowboy (The Boones of Texas #5). I’m giving away an ebook copy of COWBOYS DON’T COME OUT! Cowboys for everyone!! LOL

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

 

A Son For The Cowboy
(The Boones of Texas Series, #5)
By Sasha Summers

Blurb:

IT’S TIME TO DADDY UP!

For retired rodeo queen Poppy White, settling down in the picturesque little town of Stonewall Crossing, Texas, had seemed ideal. Until Toben Boone showed up on her doorstep. It had been a lifetime since their explosive one-night encounter in Cheyenne. Her son Rowdy’s lifetime. And she hadn’t heard a word since.

Toben was still easy on the eyes, still able to set her pulse racing–and still breaking the hearts of buckle bunnies all over the circuit, she had no doubt. But if he thought his boyish cowboy charm, dangerous dimples and baby blues were going to sweep her off her feet again, he was in for a big surprise. A big six-year-old surprise!

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

Excerpt

Toben’s cut-off jeans were uneven, but the length of muscled legs revealed was impressive. He wore a short-sleeved button up shirt… hanging open to reveal far too much of him. His jeans rested low on his hips. The sharp cut and dip of muscles of his chest and stomach had her dipping beneath the water again.

            When she came up, Toben was laughing.

            “Did you hear that, Ma?” Rowdy asked.

            She shook her head. “What?”

            “Otis’s joke,” Rowdy said.

            Otis had told a joke? She glanced at her nephew. He was smiling. So was Dot. Were they really having a good time? She grinned. “What joke?”

            “What do you call a bear with no teeth?” Otis asked.

            Poppy shrugged.

            “A gummy-bear,” Otis answered.

            She laughed.

            “Next time the water’s up we could float down to the first bridge?” Toben asked. “Not much current right now, but it sure feels good.”

            “Your eye’s all messed up.” Dot pointed out. “Looks like it hurts.”

            He nodded. “It doesn’t feel good.”

            “What happened?” Otis asked.

            Toben glanced at her. “I walked into something.”

            She frowned. The thing he’d walked into was sporting an angry bruise on his jaw. Mitchell had left before Rowdy woke up because he didn’t want to upset her son. She knew boys would be boys, but why would Mitchell and Toben exchange blows? What good would that do? Maybe Toben hadn’t changed. The Toben she remembered had either been picking up women or starting fights.

            “Next time you should watch where you’re going.” Rowdy said, swimming to the flat rock.

            Toben was still looking at her. “There won’t be a next time.”

            She hoped that meant he and Mitchell had reached an understanding. If they were going to do this, raise Rowdy together, no one should be throwing punches.

            “I’m jumping,” Rowdy said, leaping off the rock.

            The water splashed, eliciting laughter all around.

            Poppy smiled, watching them together. For the first time in days, the three of them were getting along.

            “How deep does it get?” Otis asked.

            “I’ll find out,” Poppy swam out. The water they’d been swimming in wasn’t deep, she could sit and the water reached her chin. But in the middle of the river, she had to stand on tip-toe in places. “Too deep.”

            Surprisingly, none of them argued. They took turns jumping off the rock, splashing each other and spinning in the inner tube she’d carried down.

            Toben surfaced beside her. “Good to see them smiling. I was beginning to think they didn’t have it in them.”

            Poppy nodded, acutely aware of how close he was. “What happened with Mitchell?” she asked.

            He swam around her, putting them face to face. “Does it matter?”

            Her gaze locked with his. “Yes.”

            “He the one you’re engaged to?” he asked, his voice wavering slightly.

            “No.” She opened her mouth, then closed it. “Does it matter?”

            His blue eyes narrowed but he didn’t say anything. Instead he disappeared beneath the water. Seconds later, his hand grabbed her ankle and he tugged her under.

            Poppy plunged beneath the water, swallowed in sensation. His hands sliding up her bare stomach. His arm sliding around her waist, anchoring her against him. He was warm, and strong, his bare chest pressing against hers and lighting a fire inside of her. She was going to drown, in this—not the water. And then he was tugging her back to the surface.

            “He got you, Ma,” Rowdy said, laughing.

            She sputtered, her hands gripping Toben’s shoulders until there was air in her lungs. But seeing his chest, the rounded muscles of his shoulders, his thick neck and square jaw… She was gasping for air. Her fingers curled into the wet fabric of his shirt.

            Don’t look at him. Don’t do it.

            Her eyes met his. And the hunger she saw there, raw and fierce, had her pushing off of his chest and back under the water. She swam back to the rock, pulling herself out and onto the flat surface. It was hot, so she spread her shirt out and sat, dazed.

About The Author

 

Sasha Summers grew up surrounded by books. Her passions have always been storytelling, romance, and travel. Whether it’s an easy-on-the-eyes cowboy or a hero of truly mythic proportions, Sasha falls a little in love with each and every one of her heroes. She frequently gets lost with her characters in the worlds she creates; forgetting everyday tasks like laundry and dishes. Luckily, her four brilliant children and hero-inspiring hubby are super understanding and helpful.

You can connect with Sasha at
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Amazon | Goodreads | Pinterest | Youtube

Cowboys Don’t Come Out
by Tara Lain

 Blurb:

Rand McIntyre settles for good enough. He loves his small California ranch, raising horses, and teaching riding to the kids he adores—but having kids of his own and someone to love means coming out, and that would jeopardize everything he’s built. Then, despite his terror of flying, he goes on a holiday to Hana, Hawaii with his parents and meets the dark and mysterious Kai Kealoha, a genuine Hawaiian cowboy. Rand takes to Kai’s kid brother and sister as much as he drools over Kai, but the guy sports more prickles than a horned toad, and more secrets than the exotic land he comes from.

Kai’s earned his privacy and lives to protect his “kids.” He ought to stay away from the big, handsome cowboy for everyone’s sake—but since the guy’s just a haole on a short vacation, how much damage can he do? When all of Kai’s worst fears and Rand’s darkest nightmares come true at once, there’s not much chance for two cowboys who can’t—or won’t—come out.

 
Available for purchase at

Excerpt

He stopped and tried to hear over the rushing of the surf out beyond the reef if anyone else hid in the dark. No sounds. Fortunately, no big water hit this beach, so he didn’t have to worry about getting swamped. Actually, between the lapping waves and the brilliant moonlight, the scene resembled some fairy-tale romance. Fuck that.

Right where the dry sand verged on the wet, he flopped on his butt. What she’d said—that he settled for a good-enough life. That he wasn’t happy. Don’t I get to decide that?

He leaned back on his elbows. Yeah, but she’s right. I created a whole life—as if I was somebody else. Most people find “the one” and build a future so it suits them both. I imagined a cowboy and slid into his boots—Rand McIntyre. Say that with a drawl, son. Just one problem. I’m gay—always have been—and cowboys don’t come out. Where does that leave me? A-fucking-lone, pardner. Always will be.

You’re not the only gay cowboy.

Have you seen Brokeback Mountain? Shit.

Phosphorescence sparkled on the tops of the waves farther out. Pretty. Guess there could be all kinds of weird man-eating shit in that water.

Do you think more sharks and barracudas swim at night than during the day?

Yeah, right.

He sprang up, stripped his Hawaiian shirt off and tossed it on the sand, then pulled off the shorts his mom had given him. Commando. What would it feel like to have fishes nibbling at his balls? Not like anybody else was doing any nibbling. He strode into the water. Whoa! Not cold, just startling.

When he waded out past his thighs, his penis and balls started to float. He chuckled. Kind of like being a kid in the bathtub. Endless hours of fun playing with your own built-in toys. A few more steps, and he submerged to his shoulders. He gave a tiny shiver. Weird being sunk in inky blackness. Still, the water felt good. He kicked off and swam a few yards out, turned, and stroked back towards shore. He wasn’t a good enough swimmer to push his luck alone at night.

After treading water a couple of minutes, he pulled himself back into the shallows and sat on the hard wet beach. He glanced down. Some shrinkage, but his balls still lay on the sand. Remember to rinse them off or you’ll itch. Slowly he released his breath. What was he going to do? Answer? Same as always. Nothing. He couldn’t risk all the great shit he’d made to try to make it better.

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Big Backlist Weekend with Santino Hassell & Tara Lain – 2 Giveaways!

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 Santino Hassell! Santino is giving away an ebook of CITYWIDE:  A Five Boroughs Novella Collection.

I’m giving away an ebook copy of HIGH BALLS!

 

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

 

Citywide
by Santino Hassell

Blurb:
A record-breaking heat wave engulfs the Five Boroughs, and emotions run as hot as the temperatures.

In Rerouted, Chris Mendez is trying to live a drama-free life. That doesn’t include another threesome with Jace and Aiden Fairbairn. But then a citywide blackout leaves them trapped together, and Chris is forced to re-examine everything he thought he knew about relationships and his own heart.

In Gridlocked, former Marine Tonya Maldonado is keeping real estate heiress Meredith Stone on permanent ignore. Mere isn’t Tonya’s type. Not even close. Who cares if she kisses like a dream and has the filthiest mouth this side of the East River? But then a security detail at a summer party ends with her saving Mere’s life and discovering they have more chemistry than she’d ever imagined.

In Derailed, Stephanie Quinones escapes the heat and her complicated love life by going on a company retreat. Trouble is, it’s a couples’ retreat, and she lied about having a boyfriend. Unfortunately, the only person willing to play pretend is her on-again/off-again fling, Angel León. They’re currently “off again,” but after a week in the woods, Stephanie realizes she wouldn’t mind them being permanently on.

Available at
Amazon | iBooks | RiptideKobo

Excerpt

Stephanie was still eyeing Scott like he’d just wandered in off the street. Then she glanced at me, but she had a weird look on her face, and that weirdness spelled reluctance. She did not want me to meet this person. “Scott is my boss. He’s the, um, DeFrancis of Berger & DeFrancis.”

“Uh-huh.”

I stared at her hard, waiting for her to introduce me, and watched that panic grow. What the fuck? There was absolutely no way Stephanie was banging her boss. She had too much integrity. And besides that, she’d often complained about the inequity of salaries, and how her fellow paralegals and the legal assistants irritated her by obsessing for years over her not having a boyfriend or girlfriend. She’d never once said anything to imply . . .

But it wasn’t my business. She did not belong to me.

I pasted on a half-assed smile and held out my hand. He had a limp, damp handshake.

“I’m Angel León. Nice to meet you, man.”

Scott nodded, cocked his head, and then awareness sparked. “Oh, you’re Stephanie’s fiancé.”

I stared. “What?”

Beside me, Stephanie’s face was flaming. She seemed close to exploding right there in the glass-encased office as Caleb and Oli looked between us in confusion. They, wisely, didn’t speak.

“Stephanie’s fiancé,” Scott awkwardly clarified. “We don’t, uh, well, that is, I don’t talk about personal things with my employees, but—” Holy fuck, would he ever get a sentence out? Stephanie appeared ready to melt into a puddle of humiliation on the floor. “She said she couldn’t come to the company retreat in Lake George next weekend because she had plans with her fiancé. Angel.”

The effort to not crack a smile was monumental. This was stupid. I knew it was stupid. She’d thrown my name in the fray at work to keep them off her back. It had nothing to do with some actual desire to ever be engaged to me. But even so . . .

I wrapped my arm around her shoulder and pulled her in with a shit-eating smile. “Gotcha.”

Across from us, Oli was also turning red from an obvious effort not to laugh. Caleb looked like he wanted to die from secondhand embarrassment.

“Um . . .” Stephanie shuffled besides me. “Right . . .”

“But you know what, Scott?” I dug my fingers into Stephanie’s arm. “Those plans may dry up. Is it too late for her to go along?”

Oli had taken a sip of his drink and choked. Stephanie gave me a hateful glare. I kept smiling at Scott.

“No, not at all. We’re going to have cabins, do team-building activities, and there will even be a hike.” Scott listed these activities as if in theory they were awesome, but his voice barely made it to semi pleased to be participating. “There are a lot of couples going, so you’re more than welcome to attend. We still have one room available.”

This time it was Stephanie who brightened like her wattage had suddenly received a boost. “Well, we might just take that into consideration, Scott. My Angelito loves outdoorsy stuff.”

I kept my mouth sealed into a smile even as I saw this plan backfiring.

About The Author

Santino Hassell was raised by a conservative family but grew up to be a smart-mouthed, school cutting grunge kid, a transient twenty-something, and eventually transformed into a grumpy introvert and unlikely romance author with an affinity for baseball caps. His novels are heavily influenced by the gritty, urban landscape of New York City, and his desire to write relationships fueled by intensity and passion.

You can connect with Santino at
Website | Facebook Group “Get Hasselled” | Twitter | Instagram | Patreon | Newsletter

 

 

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

Excerpt

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.”

 

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Big Backlist Weekend with Charlotte Casey & Tara Lain – 2 Giveaways!

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 Charlotte Casey! Charlotte is giving away a copy of Chance, the first book in the Rusted and Reckless series!

Since Charlotte’s CHANCE is about a rock star, I thought I’d giveaway another type of star…… Prince of the Playhouse!

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

Chance (Rusted and Reckless #1)
One night. One moment. One chance.

Buried in obligation, Aveline Michaels is in over her head, caring for her bed-ridden mother, taking college courses, and working her ass off to make ends meet. When she finally agrees to let loose and take one night off from her duties, everything changes.

College student, Greer McQueen knows meeting Aveline face-to-face is exactly what he wants. After all, he’s wanted her since the day they met in his online class. But when she learns that he’s “the” Greer McQueen, bassist for Rusted & Reckless, her all-time favorite band, everything changes.

Aveline can’t possibly give up on her responsibilities to be somebody’s groupie. And there’s no chance Greer will give up on her.​

Available for purchase at
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Excerpt

CHANCE
Rusted & Reckless Book One
2017 © Charlotte Casey ~ All Rights Reserved

Chapter One“She’s here.”

“Who?” Jason asked as he mopped off his face with a towel. The kilted drummer sweat more than anyone else he knew. He worked harder too. Greer was fit, he had to be in this business, but he wasn’t Jason Keefer fit. Every practice, sound check and show was a full workout for the man.

Greer finished off his bottle of water and grabbed another. They only had another minute before having to get back on stage. “University girl.”

“Holy shit! Here. Like, right now?” His best friend and drummer of Rusted and Reckless looked out the side of the stage, actually expecting to see her in the horde of thousands of people with no knowledge of what she looked like. Then again, neither did he. “Why is she not backstage right now? I need to meet this girl.”

That was the problem, wasn’t it? Greer was bassist of a country band that had finally hit it big. They were double platinum country artists halfway through their first headlining tour across the country. His passion was all for music but he also loved to learn. Had he not gotten into music, he would have been an academic type collecting degrees like they were Pokémon cards. It’s why he was enrolled online for an English degree right now. Greer had three bachelors degrees and two masters

that he would probably never use. That didn’t bother him at all. It was the process that he loved. The start of a new semester was like Christmas. None of the guys understood it but they didn’t rag on him about it either. They all had their obsessions and this was his.

He met Aveline in a few of his classes. Last year they had enrolled in almost all the same courses. Her face just kept popping up in class lists and discussions. Having noticed the same thing, she had emailed him asking if he was stalking her. Greer was done for right then and there.

They were both from North Carolina but she was from the coast while he considered the mountains his home. She was sweet and intelligent, always proofing papers for him and yelling at him for his comma misplacements. (She was for the oxford comma and he was against.) They got into arguments that could last days over punctuation. Greer called her all the time, her voice was like candy, all sweet and innocent. He enjoyed the hell out of it, especially when she laughed. Aveline was a known giggler and he felt their conversation was not over until he heard it at least once.

He’d been crushing on this girl for months but had never told her the truth about him. He never told anyone in his classes who he was and what he really did. He was there to learn, not to get special treatment and fangirled on. It’s why he took online classes and not classes

at the university campus. Well, that and his tour schedule.

Greer had talked to Aveline that afternoon and when she said she was going to the Rusted and Reckless concert, he stammered. It had been his chance to tell her, his chance to meet her and he chickened out. Greer told her to enjoy herself and hung up like the pussy he was.

“I didn’t tell her.”

Jason rolled his eyes. “Of course you didn’t, buddy.” Jason, Rory and Nix were the man sluts of the group. They enjoyed the groupies that hung around while Greer was his socially awkward self. He lost all lust for a woman when she could barely even converse without trying to touch him. Brains were what attracted Greer, brains and wit. Sawyer, their guitarist and stand in singer, wasn’t into groupies like the others either. He was a romantic and would fall too hard and fast for a woman. He learned the hard way that their groupies would say anything to get into bed with him and that he couldn’t believe a word of it.

Their break over, Greer and Jason stepped back onto the stage, the lights like hundreds of small suns blaring down on them. He loved it, loved the crowd singing and dancing along with them. Loved the oppressive heat from the lights and the thumping of the amps. He loved

his callused fingers and aching feet. Greer truly loved his life. He worked hard for that spot on the stage. They all had.

Sawyer stepped up to the mic and adjusted his guitar. He looked over his shoulder first at Greer and then back to Jason. Rory clapped him on the back as he walked passed to his corner of the stage across from Greer. They were adjusting to this new dynamic between them. Three months before their singer and Sawyer’s brother, Phoenix, had disappeared. He was a heroin addict and as much as they wanted to believe he was in rehab somewhere, odds were he was shooting up in a dingy hotel room in a nameless city. Nix’s disappearance had rocked them all but none more that Sawyer. They wanted to cancel the tour but their contract wouldn’t allow that. So here they were, making due.

Sawyer had stepped up to sing but he wouldn’t give up the guitar. They called in favors from other bands, borrowed players from the opening band when needed, but it was just a temporary fix. Soon they were going to have to make some tough decisions. Things that he really didn’t need to be thinking about right now.

“Ya’ll got your refills?” Sawyer asked the crowd. The stadium erupted. Greer couldn’t help keep the smile off his face. Country fans were the best. They knew how to drink, have fun and dance their hearts out.

“Now, I think it’s time for-“

“Any of you English majors out there?” Jason interrupted from behind his drum kit.

Fuck. No.

Both Greer and Sawyer looked back at the drum kit where Jason was lazily spinning a drumstick between his fingers. He had a devious smile that Greer knew well, too well. That smile had gotten him in so much trouble over the years.

“Any online English majors from Penn State University?”

Aveline fluffed her limp hair. It had rained while they were waiting in the queue to enter the concert. Rob, her cousin and gay man extraordinaire, bought the tickets for her birthday and she was determined to have a good time, even if she looked like an air dried, drowned rat. This was her first night out in almost nine months. If she wasn’t working one of her two jobs, Aveline was taking care of her mother or studying. She’d sacrificed her social life for real life. It wasn’t like she had a choice in the matter. Her mother’s health was priority number one, after the car crash two years prior left her brain damaged. Aveline also had to earn an income to pay for the medical bills

that incurred a never ending stream of threats from collection agencies. Tonight was probably the only night that she would be free to be a twenty-four-year old.

Aveline tried to salvage what she could of her makeup in the crowded bathroom mirror. She smudged her finger under her eyes catching some of the eyeliner and mascara that had run in the rain. There was not much helping the rest of her. Then again, everyone looked like hell but no one else seemed to care.

She left the bathroom and Rob immediately grabbed he arm and started pulling her the opposite direction of their seats.

“They are looking for you!”

“Who?” she asked as she stumbled behind him. He was a tall lanky man of thirty and her best friend. Rob helped take care of her mother alongside the nurse that came daily. It wasn’t an easy road she traveled but she had company and that made it manageable. Rob was a huge country music fan and had gotten her into it a few years ago. Aveline enjoyed the easy going melodies and lyrics that spoke to her. He had introduced her to the genre via Rusted and Reckless. They crossed the line between country and rock and it was hard to distinguish what genre they were. They were her gateway band into the world of country and held a special place in her heart.

“The band!” he yelled in a laugh.

“What?” He wasn’t making any sense. She tried to pull her arm free but his grip was strong. He steered her towards a security guard. “Rob, what do you mean the band is looking for me? Rob?”

She’s never seen a grin so big on his face. “They asked if anyone went to Penn State and was an English major. That’s you sweetie.”

“Me and a ton of other people.”

“Come on.”

Rob tugged her forward again and right into the security guard’s personal space bubble. “This is the girl,” he said confidently. “This is the one the band is looking for.”

The guard didn’t even give them a glance. “Move along.”

He was beginning to worry her. Aveline wasn’t sure what had gotten into her cousin. “Let’s just go. Are you feeling ok? Maybe we should just leave.”

They were close enough to the stage at this point that she could hear the band talking. The second set was about to start. If they wanted to make it back to their seats they needed to leave.

“Jason! Knock it off and let’s get back to giving these people the music they came to hear.” The crowd laughed at the bassist’s obvious discomfort but that wasn’t what

stopped her. Aveline turned toward the stage and gaped. She knew that voice, had talked to it just a few hours earlier.

“Greer?”

Rob jostled her. “See! She is the girl!”

Security looked at her long and hard and then pulled out his phone. A moment later he asked, “Are you Aveline Michaels?”

“Yes,” she answered dumbfounded as Rob jumped around like a four year old going to Disney World. How the hell did he know her name? “What’s going on?”

“This way.” He waved them through the barrier and took them backstage. It was a flurry of activity back there and no one looked twice at them. Aveline just kept moving forward. This, whatever this was, moved much too quickly for her brain to process.

“What is going on?” she asked Rob again who was pushing her faster, with a hand on her lower back.

“I told you. The band is looking for you. Let me see you.” He pulled her to a stop and turned her. After a quick once over he gave her the okay. “You look sexy hot. Less nerd and more sex panther. He’d going to drool all over you.”

Doubtful. Very doubtful.

Aveline had just seen her reflection and sexy hot was nowhere to be seen in that mirror. Rob turned her again and they

continued their path through the maze of the stadium.

“Greer, I’ve got some good news for you,” Sawyer said on stage.

“Oh fuck,” the familiar voice groaned and the crowd laughed.

Sawyer came into view first, he had his arm draped over top of Greer’s shoulders. “She’s on her way up to the stage. You look a bit nervous.”

“I’m going to kill you both.”

Sawyer laughed and slapped the brim of Greer’s hat down. He caught Aveline and Rob standing on the wings. The security guard had left them at some point to return to his post. Rob was vibrating beside her. He was a huge fan of the band and she knew he was beyond excited to be this close to them.

“There she is!” Sawyer yelled excitedly and ran over to her.

Rob, being the helpful cousin he was, pushed her forward onto the stage, but Sawyer was there to steady her. “Aveline, how are you darlin’?” He put his arm over her shoulders like he had done with Greer. She tried to look over at him but Sawyer angled her away and toward the audience.

“I’m good.” She tried not to look at the people. Aveline knew how big the stadium was because just a minute earlier she had been one of them.

“Just good?”

She decided to look at the man talking to her, which was almost worse. Sawyer was every girl’s country dream. Soft t-shirt, worn jeans that actually had dirt on them, boots that were well broken in. Sawyer’s soft blonde hair was no nonsense and hung where it dried. He hid his eyes behind a pair of dark aviator glasses but his smile was devastating enough that she didn’t need to add his eyes to the mix. Sawyer was already the sexiest man she had ever touched.

“Um…yeah. I’ll be better once I know what’s going on.”

“Do you go to Penn State University?”

Easy question, easy answer. “Yes.”

“And are you an English major?”

“Yes. Well, literature actually.”

Sawyer turned his head away from her to where Greer was standing. “Is this her?”

“Sounds like her.” As annoyed as he had sounded earlier, there was a smile in his voice now. Aveline stood on her tip toes to look over Sawyer’s shoulder and saw Greer for the first time up close. There was no way that was the literature major who she accused of stalking her. Both his arms were covered in tattoos, monochromatic designs wove like ivy down his arms. His fiery orange bass hung off his shoulder and she couldn’t help but think about the body he was hiding behind it. Like Sawyer, Greer wore a t-shirt but no cowboy boots for him. He had on sandals and looked

like he just woke up, put on a well-worn favorite baseball hat and walked on stage. She knew Greer to be twenty-seven but he had a face that would get him carded at the liquor stores for at least another ten years.

“Holy shit,” Aveline cursed softly. The crowd began to laugh but she didn’t hear them. All she could do was look at Greer. Was this really her crush? The man who entertained her to no end?

“We are going to continue on with the show so why don’t you and your…” Sawyer looked to the wing where Rob was all but drooling with jealousy. “Uh oh…someone has a boyfriend.” The low moaning “Ohhhhhh” came from the crowd.

Aveline swallowed and shook her head. She looked between Sawyer and Greer trying to explain. “No…he’s not…” but the mic wasn’t on her. No one could hear that Rob was her cousin, her very gay cousin. Sawyer walked her off stage but Aveline kept trying to look at Greer and explain. He wouldn’t look at her. Wouldn’t even glance in her direction.

“Sawyer…it’s not…we’re not…” She grabbed his hand before he could leave.

“It’s alright darlin’,” he said in his slow draw that calmed her immediately. “Stay here. We’ll hang after the show.” Aveline nodded and dropped the hand she had on his arm.

“Sorry.”

“Just hang here. No place better to watch a concert than backstage.”

“Sawwwyeeer!” Rory’s sing song voice sounded from the stage.

He left and flicked off the guitarist as he walked back on stage. “We ready to get this party back on track?”

Aveline and Rob did have the best seat in the house. It was a truly amazing experience. The blinding lights, the heart pumping sound and the incredible view was something she would never forget. Unfortunately, she didn’t enjoy one moment of it. All she could do was watch Greer avoid her from the other side of the stage and play.

Her heart thudded when the final notes were played and the goodbyes were made. Aveline ran her fingers through her knotty head of hair. First time meeting Greer and she looked like she just woke up with a bad case of bed head. Figures. Even her clothes were still wet from the earlier rain. Sexy hot, Rob had called her. Right, because the squishing of water in her soaked boots and the blister on her heel that made her limp was sooo hot. The circumstances could not be worse.

Oh wait, he also thought that Rob was her boyfriend.

So yeah, it could be worse.

It was worse.

Aveline had been in more classes than she could count with Greer. It was on their second

semester together that she had emailed him. It had started out as a friendly “Hello, I really admired your short story,” but turned into “Are you stalking me?” She had no idea why she asked that but he had found it funny. They had hit it off. She knew she could always ask him for creative advice, since he was full of it and he could always come to her for technical help. He joked that Aveline was an honorary member of the Grammar Police. Last Christmas, Greer had gotten her a badge and everything.

Never once in her time talking to Greer had he let on that he was anything more than a guy from Canton, North Carolina. He might have mentioned playing some instrument at some point but very casually. This was so not casual. This was mega.

The guys of Rusted and Reckless were smiling as they walked off stage. It had been a good show, a great show. Even without Nix, the singer, it had been amazing. Greer looked up and saw her still waiting in the spot where Sawyer had left her. She lifted her hand and gave a hesitant wave like a complete idiot.

Why the hell was she waving?

Jesus.

Why was she still waving?

Rob seemed to sense her distress and pushed her hand down. Greer looked to where Rob’s hand laid on her skin and scowled. Shit. She was messing this all up.

Jason stepped around Greer who had slowed his pace and came over to them. “Hello, University Girl,” he stated with a smile. “May I escort you two to the green room?”

Aveline looked around his sweaty broad shoulders to where Greer had just been but he was gone. Aveline sighed. This really wasn’t how she had planned their first meet and greet. Jason moved in her way again so all she saw were the lines of his very defined chest. Slowly, because she wanted to remember this man as he was before her now for those night she needed a little imagination, she lifted her eyes up from his kilt to his abs, to his pecks, to the sweat beading on his shoulders and neck, and finally up to a face that knew and enjoyed the visual lick she had just given his body.

“Sure.” She cleared her throat. “I’m Aveline, by the way, and this is Rob, my cousin.”

Jason’s grin spread wide across his face. “Cousin. That is good to know. Very good. Nice to meet both of you.”

With a hand on her lower back he steered them through the maze backstage to a room marked Rusted and Reckless. “Why don’t you guys head in there and make yourselves comfortable. I’m going to shower and then I’ll be back to entertain and amaze. The other guys should be around in a few minutes.”

“Ok,” Aveline said with nerves jittering. She’d finally meet Greer. How often had she dreamt of this moment? How many times had

she been talking to him and could picture just how this meeting would go? Jason swung open the door and ushered them inside.

It was like no after party she ever expected, mainly because there was no one there save a few radio people milling about. Weren’t these things supposed to be all sex, drugs and alcohol? Rob looked just as bewildered beside her. Her last birthday party had more entertainment than this, and she had spent it alone with a tub of ice cream and a new subscription to Netflix.

“So Greer McQueen is actually your Greer from school?” Rob asked putting his back to the small group of people.

Aveline nodded. “I guess so.”

“Damn.”

“That about sums it up.”

About The Author

USA Today Bestselling Author, Charlotte Casey, has roots in country that go back to singing Achy Breaky Heart in her car seat at the top of her lungs. She finds nothing sweeter and nothing more desirable than a southern man with drawl. A romantic at heart, Charlotte couldn’t imagine reading or writing anything that doesn’t revolve around romance. Her stories may be fiction but her characters will leap from the pages and pull you into their world.​ ​

You can connect with Charlotte at
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Prince of the Playhouse
(Love in Laguna Series, Bk #3)
By Tara Lain

Blurb: 

Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland has let obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen replace his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.

Gray Anson has what most people only dream of—great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the truth.

Available for purchase at
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Excerpt

 Food arrived. Ru had ordered the salmon, one of his faves, and Gray copied him. Merle had gone for Rick’s famous fish sandwich, as had most of the others. As the waiter placed the plates in front of Ru and Gray, Gray’s napkin dropped to the floor between his legs. He scooted back, spread his knees so he could reach between them, and managed to press the full length of his hard-muscled thigh against Ru’s. Perfect paralysis. Don’t move, don’t speak, don’t make him aware of what he’s done. Shocks of heat streaked into Ru’s balls, and he enjoyed the boil.Gray snagged the napkin, scooted his chair back in, and—didn’t move his leg. From knee to hip, his long limb rested fully against Ru’s. Didn’t he notice? Was being pressed against another man normal for him? Maybe an action-star thing?

Forget about food, conversation, breathing. Don’t miss a moment.

Artie started talking to Gray about some entertainment industry thing. Gray ate heartily. Nothing abnormal or extraordinary going on in his universe. Ru pushed his salmon on the plate and gazed into near space, every ounce of his consciousness living in his tingling flesh.

“Ru?”

Ru’s glance flicked up to find Merle staring at him. “Sorry?”

“Boy, you were a million miles away. Designing costumes?”

“Oh yes.” He liked Merle. He didn’t want to wish the guy would shut up so he could listen to the sound of his balls expanding.

Merle lowered his voice. “I wondered if you’d like to get that drink we didn’t quite get to have later?”

Gray shifted and pressed his knee harder. Ru sucked wind. “Oh!”

Merle cocked his head. “Is that an unexpected invitation?” He grinned. “I did everything except hire a billboard.”

“Oh no. Sorry. I, uh, have so much to do—”

“It’s not really late. We could go over to the Ocean Bar for a little while, and then you can get home to your designs.”

“I—”

Gray turned abruptly to Ru. “Did you talk with Artie about your great design concepts for the Hamlet character?”

“Oh no, not yet.”

Artie grinned. “I’m all ears.”

Ru glanced at a deflated-looking Merle but launched into an explanation of his glamorized gangster costume. The more he talked, the more excited he got. “It immediately sets Hamlet apart from his family and everyone else. He has other allegiances, a different take on the world. When he says ‘to be or not to be,’ he’s not just depressed and melancholy. He’s seriously considering his options, and they’re violent.”

Gray started beating out a rap rhythm on the edge of the table. “To be or not to be. Yeah, to be or not to be. That’s the question in front of me.”

The others laughed, and Merle joined in.

Ru nodded. “Horatio would have some of the same gang colors as Hamlet, but we can see that he’s being sucked in by the man.”

Artie clapped. “Brilliant idea, Ru.”

“But remember, this will be fashion, not costume, so it will suggest the look but not be slavish.”

“Can’t wait to see it.”

Beverly nodded and sipped more wine. “Amajing. Ruj’s amajing.”

Ru sat back and smiled. Even while he’d been rapping, Gray had never moved his leg. If anything, he’d pressed it harder against Ru. Jesus, he wanted to pull Gray to his feet and press more than their legs together.

Penelope leaned forward and looked toward Ru. “I agree, you’re amazing.”

He nodded. “Why, thank you, lovely lady.” It made him feel a little squirmy to think he was lusting after this woman’s boyfriend, but maybe she and Gray had some kind of agreement?

She put a hand on Gray’s arm. “I think I should ask him.”

Gray frowned. “No, not now.”

“No better time. Ru, I’m soon going to be looking for a designer for my wedding gown, and I’d like to invite you to submit a concept. It’s not right away. I know you’re working on a collection, but I wanted to tell you, so you can keep my needs in mind.”

Ru didn’t move. Even his heart must have quit. He couldn’t hear it beating over the rushing in his ears.

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Big Backlist Weekend with Elisabeth Staab & Tara Lain – 2 Giveaways!

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 Elisabeth Staab. Elisabeth is giving away a copy of By The Rules, the third book in the Evergreen Grove series.

Since Elisabeth’s book is New Adult, i thought i’d add a New Adult book to the BBB and give away Outing the Quarterback. This book was my first foray into sports romance, although in truth, sports play a smallish role. I did have to learn a LOT about football.

Here’s your chance to win one or the other of our books. Just enter on the Rafflecopter below and watch for Big Backlist Weekend with special guests every month.

By the Rules (Evergreen Grove Book 3)
He thinks I want him because of the rumors around town. Because I think he’s easy. I want AJ, because he’s AJ.

No liars. No suits. Absolutely no straight guys…

AJ Fabin’s list of rules keeps him safe. Since getting kicked out of his parents’ home and attacked by a former escorting client, his rules and his life in the tiny town of Evergreen Grove provide a quiet haven. He may be lonely, and he may stick out like a sore thumb, but the folks like him well enough. When he’s not dodging his old pimp, things are peaceful.

Hayden Price is having a quarter-life crisis. Engaged to a woman he can’t connect to and working a job he secretly hates, he comes to Evergreen Grove to help his mother through a health scare. Returning to his childhood home makes Hayden reevaluate a lot of things, including himself. When he meets AJ and finds he can’t stand the mouthy jerk—almost as much as he can’t stop thinking about him—he has a lot more to change than his career.

To be together, they’ll both have to break all of their rules.

By the Rules is book 3 in the Evergreen Grove series, but reads as a standalone.

Available for purchase at

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Excerpt

 You know that movie where the devastatingly handsome billionaire falls head over heels for the former rent-boy with a heart of gold and they ride off into the sunset with their limo, their unicorn, and a cuddly little bichon?What? Are you kidding? Okay, me neither.

Nobody’s ever gonna make that movie, because nobody would buy the premise. Not even if Julia Roberts does make the prospect look good all kinds of glittery-ever-after on camera. And for real, I’m telling you I could rock a string of diamonds just as well as her (I could!) even if you wouldn’t catch me dead in an evening gown. Or dating a douche who drives a five-speed penis-mobile. Well… maybe it would depend on the penis-mobile.

God bless Richard Gere’s fine ass in a three-piece, though. I may have a rule against dating a guy like him in real life, but there’s nothing wrong with a little fantasy. Like a big ole slab of red velvet cake, it may not be good for you to eat, but looking doesn’t cost any calories.

Rule #1: Keep your distance from rich guys in business attire. They’re sleek, gorgeous, and powerful-looking like jungle cats, and as likely to take a chunk out of you when your back is turned.

 

About the Author

Elisabeth Staab started hunting mutant hedgehogs back in 1842… Oops, wrong bio… Elisabeth Staab digs coffee, saucy stories, and sexy things that go bump in the night. Once, she ate dinner in a jail and liked it. She lives in the Washington DC area with her incredible family and does her best to juggle life while ignoring the laundry.

You can connect with Elisabet at
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But Wait! There’s more!!
The At the Stars, the first book in the Evergreen Grove series is FREE! Make sure to grab your copy now!

A GIRL TRYING TO LEAVE HER PAST BEHIND

I was a normal teenager who loved music and dancing, until the day I was attacked in my favorite record store. A few years later when my mom succumbed to depression and took her own life, I couldn’t stay in my hometown with all the memories and the curious stares. I decided to get in my car and just go – except my car decided it was done going outside a tiny place called Evergreen Grove. That’s where I found Jake. Or I guess Jake found me.

A GUY WHO CAN’T LET HIS GO

For the last eight years, all I can think about is the day I ended another man’s life. Then I manage to save Cassie’s, and I feel like maybe I’ve got some kind of second chance. To do what I couldn’t before, or maybe even for something bigger. Something like love. If only I could feel like I deserve her…

At the Stars is a story of lost hope, new beginnings, and found love.

Available for purchase at

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Outing The Quarterback
(Long Pass Chronicles Series, #1)

Blurb:
Will Ashford lives in two closets. He meets his wealthy father’s goals as both the quarterback for the famous SCU football team and a business major, but secretly he attends art school and longs to live as a painter. And he’s gay. But if he can win the coveted Milton Scholarship for art, he’ll be able to break from his father at the end of his senior year.

In a painting master class, Will meets his divergent opposite, Noah Zajack. A scarred orphan who’s slept on park benches and eaten from trash cans, Noah carefully plans his life and multiple jobs so he has money and time to go to art school. Will’s problems seem like nothing compared to Noah’s. Noah wants the scholarship too and may have a way to get it since the teacher of his class has designs on him, a plan Will isn’t happy about.

When a gossipmonger with a popular YouTube channel finds evidence that Will is gay, the quarterback’s closet doors begin to crumble. Hounded by the press and harassed by other players, Will has to choose. Stay in the closet and keep his family’s wealth, or let the doors fall off and walk out with nothing. Nothing but Noah.

Available for purchase at

Kindle Amazon Paperback | Audible |  Nook | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

Excerpt

 “You’re not telling me that your own parents don’t know you’re gay? No way.”

“Way. I’ve never come out to them.”

Noah opened his mouth, then closed it. Being alone looked better and better. “How is that possible? Did you just decide you like guys last week or something?”

“No. I think I pretty much knew when I was twelve.” He smiled. “Our neighbors had a son who was about sixteen. His bedroom was across from mine. I used to peek through the curtains and watch him dress. Watched him jerk off too. Man, he did that a lot.” Will laughed. “I got hard every time, and I ended up beating my meat as much as he did. One day I finally realized that he had a sister who walked around the backyard wearing, like, nothing. I never looked at her, just him. That’s when I got worried.”

Had Noah ever been worried about being gay? Maybe a little. “But you date a girl. I saw you with her hanging all over your body.”

“Yeah. For the last couple years I’ve had sex with girls. I hoped I was bi.” He leaned his elbows on his knees and shook his head. “It doesn’t work very well. I even had to take Viagra once. I finally gave up and broke up with her.”

“When?”

“Today.”

“Jesus.”

He smiled, kind of sad. “Yeah, it’s been a helluva day.”

“So are you going to come out now?”

His golden eyebrows drew tight above that straight nose. So damned Aryan. “I wish I could. No, that’s a lie. I dread the whole thing. But the truth is, if I come out, the whole team takes it in the ass. Other teams will harass me, which means my guys will defend me. Some of them will. And they’ll get suspended for fighting. Anyway, it’s a fucking mess trying to come out in team sports. I’ve got to wait until after I graduate.”

Noah frowned. “If big-time athletes like you never come out, it will never change.”

“I get that and I hate to say this, but I’ve got enough shit in my life without carrying the damned rainbow flag.”

Noah sucked in his breath to call the guy a pussy. And stopped. Coming out had been no big deal for him. Just one more weird thing about weird Noah. No one expected anything different. Will’s life was another whole pile of bullshit. Different but maybe not better. “So why did you come here?”

The green eyes glanced up, then away. “To tell you I didn’t lie to you about my name because I wanted to deceive you. I’m just so deep in lies I can’t see over the top.”

“Why?”

“Why what?”

“Why did you want me to know? Why did you care?” He held his breath.

Will frowned. “Did you just have sex with Masterson?”

What the—? He pushed himself back on the couch. “What the fuck business is that of yours?”

He didn’t look up. “If you’re committed, spoken for, I want to know, that’s all.”

“Nobody speaks for me. I’m committed to no one. And I’ll have sex with whomever I please, got it?”

Will looked up from under his eyebrows, and this time he grinned. “I just wanted to check to see if you were too tired.”

Noah suppressed a snort. “What makes you think I’d want to have sex with you?” He tried to keep his lips from turning up.

“You kissed me, remember?”

The smile must show by now. “What if I didn’t like it?”

“Not an option.”

“You think you’re that good, huh?”

Will steepled his fingers in front of his own smile. “Yep.”

“I might catch girl cooties from you.”

“You’ll have to take that chance.”

Noah cocked his head at the big, handsome quarterback. Did he dare suggest it? Hell, the guy ate painters for breakfast. “There’s just one thing, jockoid.”

“What?”

“I like to top.”

“Oh. My. God.”

Giveaway

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Big Backlist Weekend! ZA Maxfield & Tara Lain. Free Books

Drawn-Together-KindlePrinceOfThePlayhouseWelcome to Big Backlist Weekend!! ZA Maxfield & Tara Lain. 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 Z. A. Maxfield who is A. a spectacular author. B. one of my best friends and C. a huge influence on my decision to write novels (not in that order. She was A and C before i had the privilege of meeting her and calling her friend.) ZAM is giving away a copy of DRAWN TOGETHER which is a recent re-release of one of her most popular books ever — and one of my personal favorites. I think it might be the first ZAM book i ever read.

I’m giving away an ecopy of PRINCE OF THE PLAYHOUSE which is Book 3 in my Love in Laguna series. I chose this book because book 4 in the series, LORD OF A THOUSAND STEPS releases this coming Wednesday!!!! August 31st. So someone can win Prince of the Playhouse and get ready for the next one!!

How do you enter? Simple. Just leave a comment — one comment enters you to win both books (only one book to a winner) and i will choose the two names at random. If you already have the book you win, we’ll work something out, so enter even if you’ve read them both.

Drawn-Together-KindleDRAWN TOGETHER by Z. A. Maxfield

Amazon

Blurb:

Re-release of bestselling 2009 novel – What happens when Rory travels halfway across the country to meet the girl of his dreams? Certainly not what he expected…

Rory’s just be a simple southern boy from St. Antoine’s Parish, Louisiana, but he knows what he wants — the girl of his dreams, reclusive and mysterious artist Ran Yamane. He’s loved her since junior high school, and now he has the chance to meet her. He chucks everything and travels 1,500 miles to Anime Expo in Long Beach just so he can tell her. He’s determined that nothing and nobody are going to stand in his way.

Turns out, Ran Yamane isn’t a girl, but he gets that a lot. People come to him with teddy bears and chocolates and disappointment by the truckload. He’s trusted fans in the past and paid the price. So when he meets Rory he is understandably wary, but resigned. He isn’t prepared for his magnetic attraction to the young man, Rory’s apparent willingness to overlook his gender, and the chaos that ensues when his number one fan (and psycho stalker) shows up to get revenge.

Excerpt:

Rory stood tapping his foot in line behind about a hundred others who wanted an autograph from the singular Ran Yamane. His trip to California and the complete dedication it required to drive fifteen hundred miles in three days made it the first opportunity he had to relax and just enjoy the pleasant sensation of inertia.
In fact, in the fragrant, floral-scented bubble of space he was occupying, Rory took immense pleasure in imagining the moment when he would first see his idol. He imagined her shy surprise, and perhaps her humble acceptance of his floral tribute. From there, he would ask her to autograph his book and then his line drawing from eBay.
Rory was certain she would remark on his accent, because thirty or forty minutes away from the bayou simply everyone did. While it made an excellent icebreaker, he didn’t like the way people thought it made him slow. On the other hand, it never failed to interest women, whether they thought he was slow or not.
What that said about women, he didn’t know, but he hadn’t been too proud to use it to his advantage on more than one occasion. He could simply say, “Please allow me,” in New York City and open a door for a woman, and he wouldn’t have to look for a hotel room for the night.
Behind his floral tribute, Rory was wondering just what he would do to attract Ran Yamane’s attention when he reached the front of the line. He could see her from behind; her long black hair hung in a loose braid down her back. She sat at a desk on a large platform three steps off the ground, flanked by two men standing almost at attention. She faced away from the line of autograph seekers. She chatted briefly with each person as she signed her name; then they moved on. Rory could see she wore some sort of long black coat with the collar turned up, so he was tormented by his inability to catch even a brief glimpse of her face.
At last his turn came, and one of the men flanking her motioned for him to come up. He mounted the three stairs and went to stand before her. He took a deep breath and held his floral tribute out with a low bow. In the dark recesses of his mind, over the pounding of his heart, he thought he heard someone murmur something that sounded like “another one.”
When at last he raised his head to look at the woman of his dreams, he froze with his mouth gaping open like a fish. Before him, with his arms folded demurely across his chest, was the most beautiful man he’d ever seen, but still, a man. Nothing less than a man, with a pitying expression on his face.
“You thought I was a woman, didn’t you?” he asked. “I get that a lot.”
The men next to Yamane chuckled, and one motioned with his head toward a pile of lovely floral tributes in a heap on another table, which was also stacked with stuffed animals and heart-shaped candy boxes like a vast pyramid made out of the dashed hopes of countless would-be admirers.
Rory looked at his flowers. He looked back at Ran Yamane. As if the last fifteen hundred miles were a film going backward, he saw the whole thing slipping away from him.
Yamane stood and leaned over the table. “Look.” He spoke with a soothing voice. “I know it’s a disappointment, but surely there’s someone else at this convention who would enjoy receiving flowers from a nice young man? I’ve seen no less than fifteen Princess Celendriannas. Maybe you could make a new friend.”
Rory couldn’t speak right away. He waited for Yamane to sit back down and then wordlessly drew his portfolio out of his bag. “I bought this on eBay, sir, and I wonder if you would be kind enough to sign it for me.”
“My,” said Ran. His pen stopped in midair. “That’s quite an accent you have. I presume you’re from the South?”
“Yes, sir,” said Rory politely. He noted another one of his cherished notions was being destroyed before his eyes. His artist was as American as he was. “New Orleans. You’re American?”
Yamane nodded. “My mother is Japanese, but I lived in New York with my father until I was in my teens. I now claim Japan as my home, and Ran as my surname, but I sound as American as…” The man trailed off and grew silent.
“As what?” asked Rory, used to his accent being the subject of much conjecture. He frankly thought the man was rethinking saying, “As you do.”
“I’m very sorry to have to tell you this, but this drawing isn’t one of mine,” Yamane said quietly.
Rory digested this. “Are you sure?” He frowned, looking at the picture in question. “There’s no mistake?”
“I’m sorry.” Yamane shook his head. “Did you pay for this?”
“Not much,” Rory lied. “I got it on eBay.”
“Here.” Yamane motioned to one of the men standing beside him to get him a book from a stack next to all the abandoned flowers. “Here, I’ll sign this instead. It’s a safe bet you don’t have this. It’s brand-new.” He slid his thumbnail into the top of the shrink-wrap covering the book and removed it. “What’s your name?”
“Rory Delaplaines,” Rory answered, swallowing his disappointment.
“Fine,” said the man as he autographed the book. “Thank you for your interest. I’m sorry I wasn’t what you expected.” He handed Rory the book and turned on a smile of such detached Asian politeness that Rory’s heart shattered into a million tiny pieces.
“Thank you, sir.” He opened the book Ran Yamane had signed for him and gave himself wholly up to his quiet despair. It read, Best wishes to Laurie Dellplane from, and some kanji characters Rory could never hope to read. He felt tears sting his eyes and hesitated on the platform that had been his dream destination for half his life.
Rory briefly studied the cover of the book he held in his hands. He felt an immense, almost consuming desire to convey what he was feeling to Yamane. He lowered his head again, holding the flowers out before him. If anything, his bow this time was deeper.
“Excuse me,” Yamane said in a stage whisper. “What are you doing?”
Rory didn’t lift his head. “Well, as to that, sir, after careful consideration, there is no one in the world on whom I can bestow these flowers but you.”
“No,” Yamane said implacably.
Surprised, Rory straightened. He leaned over to speak to Yamane quietly. “I’ve thought about this, sir, I really have. I came to venerate the artist who created the work I admire, and I simply must be allowed to offer this token of the gratitude I feel.”
“Don’t you see I have enough flowers?”
Rory frowned and felt himself dig in his heels a little. “That is why I don’t understand why you won’t take mine with a simple thank-you instead of giving me a hard time.” He pushed the flowers at Yamane. The men who’d been flanking Yamane stepped closer.
“Your flowers were for a woman named Ran Yamane who does not even exist and into whose image you have been pouring fantasies from your fevered imagination.” Yamane pushed them back.
“Well, of course they were!” Yamane blinked in apparent shock, and Rory gained the upper hand. He smacked the flowers against Yamane’s chest so the artist had no choice but to wrap his arms around them. “But it cannot be considered your fault that none of it was true. I love your work. I really, reallylove it.” Rory bowed again and took a deep breath.
He continued. “I traveled a long way to get here. I left my home and my job and I arrived here this very morning with no plans, no place to stay, and nothing more than the cash it took to get in and buy some food. Whether you are a man or a woman, surely you can accept that graciously.” He remained with his head bowed, but he didn’t really know why except that maybe he was afraid if he lifted it he would see people laughing at him.
“Hey, Forrest Gump,” someone behind him called. “You’re holding up the line; get a move on.”
Rory stood and began to walk away.
“Wait,” called Yamane, “wait a minute.”
He said something quietly to the two men who stood next to him and motioned Rory to follow him. To the assembled crowd, he said, “I need a cigarette. I’ll be back in five minutes.” He mimicked smoking with his free hand. Holding his flowers against his chest like a shield, he left the platform.
Rory trailed after Yamane as he wove between exhibits and vendors of every kind. Where normally Rory strode briskly, he found himself taking smaller and slower steps than usual, noting that Yamane’s way of walking was rather furtive, even timid by comparison. When they reached the end of the convention center floor, Rory noticed they were headed straight for a burly security guard standing before a door that said NO EXIT.
“Perhaps,” Rory said tentatively, slowing down, “this would be a good time to mention that I mean you no harm, and even had you been a woman, you would have been safe with me. I am not any kind of stalker so there’s no need to…”
Yamane nodded to the security guard, who let him through the door. “He’s with me.” He gestured toward Rory behind him and went through to the brightly sunlit area behind the convention center.
Rory followed him out.
“You scared me; I thought you were going to have me arrested,” said Rory with a sigh.
“Is there any reason why I should?”
“No, sir, there is not,” Rory said, practically standing at attention. “I’m sorry we got off to a bad start. I was just rather surprised by you.”
“And disappointed,” Yamane added.
“Perhaps a little,” Rory agreed. He took that opportunity to look, really look, at the man standing before him. Yamane was a diminutive man, reaching no higher than Rory’s shoulder. He wore his long hair in a braid, but some wispy strands floated around his face in what seemed, to Rory, a rebellion against the man’s perfection. He wore a pair of black jeans and a white linen shirt buttoned all the way to the collar. Over that, he wore a long black overcoat made of some lightweight fabric, probably silk, which accentuated his shoulders and chest. Instead of buttoning down the center from a traditional trench coat lapel, this coat buttoned down the side and was held together by knotted black silk ropes, the style at once exotic and distinctly Asian in its design. His hands where they clutched his flowers were long-fingered and elegant, even though they bore ink stains from the marker he’d been signing autographs with all day. Rory had to give credit where credit was due; this was a very, very beautiful man.
“Sorry.” Yamane fumbled in his coat pocket and pulled out a pack of cigarettes and an expensive-looking gold lighter. He tapped out a cigarette and placed it in his mouth. Rory stepped forward. He took the lighter out of Yamane’s hand, which trembled very slightly as he relinquished it.
“Please allow me.” Rory reached out and removed the cigarette from Yamane’s lips, threw it on the ground, and crushed it under his foot. “Those things will kill you dead.”
“Are you insane?” Yamane seemed shocked. He tried unsuccessfully to retrieve his lighter.
“Now, how can I stand by and watch you kill yourself?” Rory drawled.
“You remind me of a dog I once had as a very small child. I used to twist its ears until it howled in pain, and still it came running whenever I called it.”
Rory frowned. “Well, to my mind, that does nothing to recommend either you or the dog.” He held the lighter out. Yamane took it but merely put it in his pocket with his cigarettes.
“Are you always like this?” Yamane asked. “Like a radio tower, broadcasting everything you think on your face as clearly as if it were written there?”
“Probably.”
“You’re very simple.”
“But enough about me — what do you think of me?” Rory leaned against the wall, enjoying the feel of the sun on his face. He closed his eyes for a minute. When he opened them, Yamane was staring at him with something like…interest.
“Why did you really come here?” Yamane asked. “I want the unvarnished truth.”
“To find someone I thought…” Rory remained silent for a minute. “Someone I thought I loved.”
“Give me your arm, please.” Yamane uncapped his marker.
“Why?” Rory did as he was told.
“Blind faith should be rewarded, and outright stupidity should be eradicated. I haven’t decided which we have here, yet.” He wrote something on the interior of Rory’s forearm.
“What is that?” Rory asked when he saw the numbers on his arm.
“That’s the number of my room at the Hyatt. I’ll be in and out at events all evening and into the early morning. If you wish, you may rest there since you have nowhere to stay. I’ll let the hotel know I have a guest. Ask for a key at the desk.”
“That’s very kind of you, but –”
“Do you have a cell phone?”
“No, sir, I do not.”
“Hm,” murmured Yamane. “I see. Then if you are a complete fool, I’ll probably never see you again.” He knocked on the door of the convention center and the security guard let him in. When Rory made to follow him back inside, the guard closed the door in his face.
“Well, now,” he said aloud, picking up the paper and filter part of the cigarette he’d crushed, watching its loose tobacco blowing lazily around on the ground. “That was unexpected.”

PrinceOfThePlayhousePRINCE OF THE PLAYHOUSE by Tara Lain

See Buy Links and more information HERE.

 Driven by his desire to become a successful fashion designer and concerned with hiding his questionable past, Ru Maitland’s obsession with action movie star Gray Anson on the big screen has replaced his social life. Then obsession and reality collide when Ru is asked to design fashion costumes for a special performance of Hamlet at the Playhouse in Laguna starring none other than Gray Anson. Gray turns out to be a compelling mix of shy and brash and, despite a high profile engagement to a female socialite, the signals Gray sends Ru have his libido doing the salsa.

 Gray Anson has everything any person can want – great wealth, huge fame, a job he loves. For that, he’s given up any semblance of privacy and the right to say no to the thousands of people who depend on him and the millions who love him. He sees everything he’s ever wanted just outside the bubble of his life, but how can he make the compromises needed to embrace it? When Ru’s shady past crashes into Gray’s paparazzi-haunted present, both men have to learn that sometimes the only acceptable compromise is the whole truth.

 Excerpt:

Ru nodded and words blurted out. “I’d say you just bought and paid for the right to do most anything you want.”

Gray’s forehead creased for an instant, then smoothed again. “Okay, come with me.” Gray led the way through the crowd and stopped beside Chris. “I need to talk with Ru. We’ll be back in a few.”

“Sure thing, boss.” He turned to face the crowd as Gray pulled Ru through the doors that led to what could now officially be called Ru Maitland Designs. People crowded the halls. Gray muttered, “Well, hell.” He nodded and smiled as he kept exploring all the way back to Ru’s office. A couple of cameramen snapped pictures inside.

Ru snorted. “Had I known I was about to be preserved for posterity, I might have been neater.”

The last door led out to the parking lot behind Shazam. Gray glanced back at Ru. “Will an alarm go off if I open it?”

“Nope. It’s our secret exit.”

“Good.” He pushed down on the bar and opened the door, pulled Ru into the parking lot, and closed the doors behind them. He fished in his pocket and pulled out a key ring, then pushed a button. A chirp came from the black limo parked under the trees. He opened the back door, grabbed Ru’s arm, and pulled him inside with him. “Close the door.”

“Gray, I—”

“Close the damned door.”

Well, okay. He slammed the car door, closing them into a secret hiding place, barely illuminated through the heavy tinting on the windows. Ru turned toward Gray, who now full-on frowned. “Open your fly and lie back.”

“What? What the fuck are you talking about?”

“I’m going to give you a blowjob. You said I bought the right to do anything I want, and that’s what I want.”

“Fuuuuuck me.” The words came out on a long, slow breath.

“We can do that too, but we’re a little short on time, so a blowjob is more practical.”

“Are you always practical?”

He gazed directly at Ru. “When you’re a gay man in the biggest, deepest closet in the world, you pretty much have to be. So unzip.”

“Hang on. You can’t just—”

“I can’t? I thought you said I could.”

Ru frowned back at him.

“Oh, you mean we might have something to talk about? Maybe I didn’t just spend a ton of money to buy sex from you? Is there a chance of that?”

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Thank you for coming by! Remember to leave a comment below. One comment enters you for the two drawings. :  )