Mar 13

Book Blitz: Shaper by Christine Danse (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Shaper

Series: The Mi’hani Wards, Book 1

Author: Christine Danse

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 13

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 14100

Genre: Romance, NineStar Press, LGBT, lesbian, age gap, cyberpunk, UST, psychic ability, abduction, amnesia, captivity, magic users, prison, secret agents

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Synopsis

Nameless and without an identity, she wakes on the streets of Shapertown, an abandoned city that defies the laws of physics. She’s fleeing a threat she can’t remember. One woman holds the key to unlocking her memories and the dangerous truth: She is the threat.

Excerpt

Shaper
Christine Danse © 2017
All Rights Reserved

I didn’t dream.

I existed in a black space where for a time I almost had a family and friends, school, the everyday pleasures of domestic life. I drifted close to the shores of memory but didn’t make landfall.

The sound of voices pulled me out again, a man and a woman. They drew me out to sea and up into the sky, into my skin.

I came to on my side under the warmth of covers. Home, in my bed.

But no, not my bed. Not my room. No room I recognized.

Instinct told me to kick to my feet and bolt, but like a small animal, I felt safe under cover.

I scanned the contents of the small room. White dresser, table against the side with two chairs, one door. No more than that.

I made another pass with my eyes just to be sure, but there was only the one door, so only one way out. The voices came from just on the other side of it, so I wouldn’t be slipping out unseen. I would have to wait this out. I had no choice. It had nothing to do with the fact that the pillow was soft under my head, the blankets a bank of clouds atop me. A comfort like home, which I hadn’t known for…

For a long time. The feeling didn’t quite come with a memory, but a strong sense of hard surfaces and shivering sleep.

“I realize,” the woman was saying. She spoke in a hushed tone, but I could just get her words.

The man responded in a low rumble I couldn’t make out.

“I know that,” she said. “But you must understand the position this puts me in.”

Something about her voice made me uneasy. Maybe her tone. There was an edge to it, a wariness and also a weariness.

“I’m retired,” she said at last, flatly.

Nothing after that. They might have moved off, leaving me, forgetting me. But I didn’t move, just lay with the blanket pulled up to my eyes and held still, waiting for something, because something always came.

The rattle of the doorknob warned me just before the door opened. The man entered first. Tall, with dark brooding eyes and a presence like a storm cloud compacted into a man’s shape. But it was the woman at his elbow who scared me. Thin, with straight brown hair and luminescent blue eyes. Beautiful but tired, mouth in a line like it had never known a smile.

I sat up and clutched the blanket, never mind that I was clothed. I pushed back my curls.

“You’re awake,” the man said. He drew out a chair and sat. The woman stood leaning back against the doorframe with her arms crossed, seemingly impassive, but our awareness of each other pulled like a taut string.

“I’m Nero,” the man said. “And this is Natalia.”

After that came a pause. They seemed to be waiting for something. I looked between them, fingers curled around the top edge of the blanket. My gaze caught the woman’s and snagged.

He prompted: “Can you tell us your name?”

I opened my mouth and— “No.” I felt an instant pulse in the air, like a throb of hostility from them, and added, “I don’t know.”

The man’s eyes flickered. The woman shifted from one leg to the other and propped the foot against the wall.

“I don’t know,” I said again. “I don’t know my name.” The edge of panic crept into my voice.

They exchanged a glance.

The man asked me more questions. It was a terror and a relief not to have the answers. They could get nothing out of me. I could betray no one.

He seemed to get the same idea. He stood and exchanged a conversation with the woman that consisted of a look, a subtle glance in my direction, a scowl, and a tight nod. Then the man told me that Natalia would make me comfortable.

“I’m comfortable here,” I said. At that moment, I would have rather been huddled in the corner of that crumbling building like a dog behind the dresser.

The woman, Natalia, dredged up a smile that didn’t quite make it to her eyes but also wasn’t unkind, and held a hand up, gently beckoning. I couldn’t decline.

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Meet the Author

Christine lives with her writing partner in the wilds of urban Oregon, where they raise weeds, worms, and eyebrows.

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Mar 13

Blog Tour: Fangs Like Me by Lyssa Dering (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Fangs Like Me

Author: Lyssa Dering

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 13

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 40000

Genre: Romance, NineStar Press, LGBT, paranormal, shifters, vampires, kink, intercultural/interspecies, Alpha, knotting, light D/s, new adult, hurt-comfort, angst

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Synopsis

Lane, a newborn vampire, still feels the pain of betrayal. Two years ago, a faithless boyfriend took his life, and now, Lane’s Maker has also left him behind. The pain of separation burns strong when all Lane wants are arms to hold him and enough warm blood to satisfy his voracious appetite. At a shifter party, Lane is drawn to a hunky Alpha werewolf who tries to console him.

Parker is more than a thoughtless hookup. Since his family disowned him for finding boys just as hot as girls, all he wants is someone to love and look after. The sweet little vamp calls to his protective instincts, but he sure is jumpy. Cuddling with boys is new and delicious, but when this boy also wants him as a food source, things get complicated.

Vampires and shifters aren’t supposed to get along, and Parker’s rough dominance triggers bad memories for Lane. But Parker’s wolf wants Lane, and he knows he can give Lane what he needs. Can Lane learn to navigate his past and give the thing growing between them a chance? Or will the very real possibilities of heartache, abandonment, and even death, keep them apart?

Excerpt

Fangs Like Me
Lyssa Dering © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Lane owed his Maker everything, so he had no right to be sad. Except the Maker/progeny Bond that had been a pain in his ass (not literally, unfortunately) since Theo had saved his life ensured that he would be sad, regardless. Theo had gone off to some vampire summit just last night, and he would be gone for a whole year. Lane, “babyvamp” that he was, was not important enough to go to a summit. As everybody in the den kept telling him, he had to learn to survive distance with his Maker eventually. It still hurt like a cracked sternum, though.

Maybe Lane had accepted the invitation to this shifter party as a fuck-you to Theo and his other denmates. Or maybe it had been Heather’s good-natured prodding that had brought him to the alley behind her house in Ferndale. She’d said he shouldn’t be alone right now, which was true. But he wasn’t sure if being in a house full of shifters was going to be all that helpful. He’d been to her house a few times before when other shifters were present. A good few of them hated vampires and had no qualms about giving him dirty looks whenever he showed. “They’re more open-minded than you think,” she’d told him over and over, but those looks said different.

Prime example: the shifter smoking on the back porch.

Brown and orange leaves crunched under Lane’s sneakers as he ascended the wooden stairs, and he shoved his hands into the pockets of his hoodie. He didn’t need the hoodie; he was impervious to the temperamental Michigan weather, after all, but it was best to keep up appearances.

The shifter was tall and fit, dressed in a flannel shirt and gray beanie. Lane had to edge past him to get to the sliding double doors that led into the living room. As he did so, the shifter’s confident gaze landed on him. Behind smoke tendrils, his eyes glowed orange.

Lane’s skin broke out in goose pimples—his vampire instincts telling him there was a threat here.

“Problem?” The shifter exposed his eyeteeth with a crooked grin.

Lane shook his head and hurried inside.

As soon as the soles of his sneakers hit the carpet, pleasant warmth washed over his cold skin, getting rid of those goose pimples. Shifters burned even hotter than humans, and there were a lot of them packed inside the house. A few of them were around the coffee table, playing what appeared to be Euchre, but most of them merely sat around talking.

Lane headed past them, looking for Heather and her head of dirty-blonde waves. He found her in the kitchen. She was spraying whipped cream into glasses filled with coffee-colored liquid.

“Who’s the guy smoking outside?” Lane knew Heather hated being around smokers; like many shifters, she disliked the smell. Lane didn’t mind it, even though he also had enhanced senses. His denmate Erica smoked out of a vintage cigarette holder like Cruella de Vil.

“Parker. He’s new. Want a shot?” Heather dipped a finger into one of the glasses and sucked whipped cream off her glossy nail.

Lane scrunched his nose. “No, thanks.” He preferred hard liquor. He opened one of the cabinets, found some vodka, and took several swallows straight from the bottle before wiping his mouth on his sleeve.

“Trying to get drunk?” asked Heather.

“Yeah. Fuck everything.” He’d have to wake up his heart to get drunk, but pouring the liquor down his throat was the first order of business. He needed to drown the ache in his chest. He needed to forget the hard line of Theo’s shoulders and the way his curls looked after he got out of the shower, dark and shining. How he’d lock eyes with Lane sometimes and—

“You should try talking to some people,” said Heather. “You need to make some friends.”

“You’re my friend, aren’t you?”

She gave Lane a knowing, playful look that probably would have melted some guys.

Lane screwed the cap back on the vodka bottle and headed toward the hallway, where the bathroom was. There were only two ways to get his heart to start beating, and he needed to be alone for one of them. Or with someone else, but that wasn’t happening. Not unless it was Theo, who was 1) not interested, and 2) on the other side of the world.

He was about a foot from the bathroom door when he stopped and gasped. The goose pimples sprouted back up, and his heart kicked into life. Wolf. Threat.

But this was a shifter party. Just because it usually happened much later at night didn’t mean they couldn’t shift now. Lane closed his eyes and took a slow breath. He registered the scent of cigarette smoke as the alcohol swam in his bloodstream, egged on by the heavy, unnatural thud of his vampire heart.

“Parker?” he said softly. The wolf’s orange eyes matched those of the smoker outside. “You scared me.”

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Meet the Author

Lyssa Dering is an author of queer erotic romance. She writes about damaged characters in impossible situations who, despite often horrifying struggles, will always get their happy ending.

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Tour Schedule

3/13 – Happily Ever Chapter

3/14 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/14 – Queer Sci Fi

3/15 – MM Good Book Reviews

3/16 – Bayou Book Junkie

3/16 – Zipper Rippers

3/17 – Alpha Book Club

3/18 – Love Bytes Reviews

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Mar 06

Book Blitz: Dragon Void by Ophelia Bell (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Dragon Void

Series: Immortal Dragons Book 2

Author: Ophelia Bell

Publisher: Animus Press

Release Date: January 7, 2017

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Male/Female (Male/Male interaction)

Length: 312 pages

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Fantasy, paranormal, shifters, dragons

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Synopsis

A woman born on the wind…

A Turul princess, Evie North has waited long enough for her “one true love” — a man she’s stopped believing truly exists. She throws caution—literally—to the wind and decides to take matters into her own hands. She chooses a handsome stranger from a crowd and falls into bed with him, hoping love might find her in his arms.

A human man drawn to powers beyond his comprehension…

The only thing Marcus Calais knows is that he’s likely to die in a pointless war but also honor-bound to run into battle. At least until he meets an angel named Evie in Central Park who incites stronger desires than he’s ever had and whose songs drive him to levels of passion he never imagined. After just one night with the lovely, waifish beauty, he discovers he has so much more to live for. Will he sacrifice his principles to stay alive for her?

The immortal dragon who owns both their souls…

“Ked” is what his five siblings call him, but others simply refer to the huge black dragon as The Void. He is darkness personified, but nothing is darker than the enemy he is up against. It will take true darkness to fight the evil permeating his world, and to save the female Fate intended for him. But Fate has a funny way of switching things up when he least expects. What will he find when he ventures forth into the enemy’s lair in search of love?

What other surprises does Fate have in store?

Excerpt

“You terrify me,” he said softly, and she knew what he said was true. Even if the Wind hadn’t been there to verify his honesty, she’d have known it by the wetness in his eyes. “You are the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen and the first one I’ve ever wanted so much I’d behave like a rutting stag the first time we meet. I don’t do this, Evie. What I want to do with you is entirely out of character for me. I know you have no reason to believe that because we just met, but it’s the truth.”

She laughed shakily, taken aback by his bare honesty. “Surely there have been others… Look at you.” She waved her hand down his sturdy frame, still crouched before her.

He shook his head. “I’ve tried off and on, but somehow the women I’m most drawn to are wildly inaccessible. You’re the first who’d give me the time of day. That in itself makes you infinitely more amazing to me. But there’s something deeper.”

He reached up a hand and placed his palm against the center of her chest. The simple touch stole her breath. “I can’t put my finger on it, but I really want to know everything there is to know about you.”

Evie found it hard to fill her lungs enough to speak. Finally, in a near whisper, she said, “What if I never trust you enough to share my secrets?”

“Then I’ll have to prove to you that you can.”

She sighed, relieved that he told her the truth, but also more anxious than ever that she hadn’t heard any hint of a lie. If she had, she’d have had an excuse to avoid following through with her crazy plan.

She urged him to stand and laced her fingers through his again. Taking a deep breath, she found that steely will of hers along with the wicked streak that had urged her to seek him out to begin with.

“Rutting stag, huh? I think I like the sound of that.” She grinned up at him. Abruptly he wrapped her in his arms and laid a hot, hungry kiss against her lips. In spite of the cold brick wall he had her pressed into, all she could feel was his heat flooding through her thin dress. She clung to him, melting against him, both of them oblivious to the traffic on the sidewalk passing by like nothing out of the ordinary was occurring. Like she wasn’t on the verge of letting this man fuck her silly against the wall right out in public on a cool spring evening.

The honk of a cab caused Marcus to jump and draw away from her. She held on, reluctant to lose the warmth of his body and the sweet pull of his mouth. A small, petulant sound came out of her and he groaned in response. He placed his hands against the wall on either side of her head and peered down into her eyes.

“You’ll be the death of me, Evie North. But I think you’ll be worth it.”

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Meet the Author

Ophelia Bell is the author of the super steamy bestselling Sleeping Dragons series. Ophelia loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories—women who aren’t apologetic about enjoying sex and bad boys who don’t mind being with a woman who’s in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom. Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.

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Mar 06

Blog Tour: A Matter of Duty by J.C. Long (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  A Matter of Duty

Series: Hong Kong Nights, book 1

Author: J.C. Long

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: March 6

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 85000

Genre: Romance, LGBT, Gay, kidnapping, Hong Kong, gangs, romance

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Synopsis

Noah Potter has come to Hong Kong to find his missing sister, Lianne, who disappeared after leaving him a voice mail pleading for his help. Unfortunately the Hong Kong police are unwilling to help him, so Noah has to find her himself.

Noah’s search for his sister brings him across Wei Tseng, leader of the Dragons, a group of dedicated men and women willing to do whatever it takes to keep their district safe from the violence and triads that plague the rest of the city’s underworld. Wei is a man of violence but also one of incredible compassion, and his history is one that resonates with Noah, igniting a passion neither man expects.

Together they search for Lianne, a search that will lead right into a conflict with the Dragons’ greatest rivals in the city.

Excerpt

Hong Kong International Airport sat on a small island all its own, like most airports in Asia that Noah had visited. To enter the city proper, one needed to take the metro system or hail a bus or a cab. Noah knew all this when he arrived; he’d prepped for this the moment two weeks ago when he’d tried to call his sister back and received no answer any of the one hundred seventy-two times he’d called over the course of two days. That made him realize he needed to come to Hong Kong and find his sister. He needed to bring her home, if he could.

No, no if—he would bring her home. He’d just stepped off the plane, there must be no doubt in his mind; if he did not have hope, he might as well give up right now.

The interior of the airport’s beauty matched its exterior. Skylights hovering high above his head cast afternoon sunlight down on him, bathing him in its warmth. The architecture was modern, all sleek glass and deceptive perspectives, but even here, surrounded by large numbers of tourists pouring into the city at the end of their summer vacation, hoping to enjoy Hong Kong’s best summer month, he could not mistake this for the West. Everything felt different; a foreign flavor filled the air, swirling in Noah’s lungs and coating his tongue. Announcements made over the airport’s intercoms came in Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and English. The signs read in those languages and more—German and French and Vietnamese as well.

There was a sort of magic to this place, magic he felt being in the airport, not even truly out in Hong Kong yet. The airport dominated a man-made island, and as he took it all in, Noah felt the strangest sense of anticipation. Part of Noah could not wait to see what the rest of Hong Kong felt like once he was out amongst its crowded streets, deep within the pulse of this city with the highest population density on the entire planet. He did his best to repress that part, though; this was no pleasure tour. He was not a tourist like those who passed him, whiling away their Septembers before slipping back to the mundane banality of their lives. He envied them that, wished he could explore the avenues of a new place before slinking back home, back under the thumb of his cold, uncaring father.

Noah had a task to do, though, so he would have to control the wanderlust that gripped him as tightly as it ever gripped Lianne.

He reached the escalator that would descend deep underground to the metro. As he waited, he dug into his backpack, seeking out the crumpled paper where he’d jotted down instructions on how to get where he needed to go, making sure he did not get lost. It was merely reflex, however; he’d committed that paper to memory a week ago.

Noah hadn’t spoken to Lianne right before she left. He’d been angry and made damn sure she knew it. He hadn’t known where in Hong Kong she went, what she’d do when she got there, or even how to contact her once she got there, other than the cell phone—and how reliable would a cell phone be? Hong Kong was basically China, right?

Before she left, though, she’d left information about her flight with their father, along with an address for a room she’d found online. It was in the Eastern District, so all he had to do was find it and see what was going on.

People and their luggage crowded the subway. Though the surface hadn’t seemed so bad, the subway car was stifling hot with so many bodies crammed close together. Noah felt the earlier claustrophobia’s nauseating grips on the corner of his mind and forced himself to focus on the different colorful advertisements all along the upper portion of the subway to distract himself. It was a forty-minute subway ride according to the app he’d downloaded on his phone, and he would have to transfer once he reached a place called Center. He needed to keep it together until he did.

Impulse driving him, he dug his iPhone out of his pocket and stared at it. His background picture was, as usual, a picture of himself and Lianne together. Though she was four years older than him, some people thought they must be fraternal twins since they looked so similar. Both had pale skin that tanned to a beautiful copper in the summer sun, similar brown-blond, almost ash-gray hair, and the same round blue-green eyes they’d inherited from Vivienne Maureen Potter, their beautiful mother.

According to the top of the phone’s screen, he had service—he’d made damned sure he’d be able to use the cell phone once he got here in order to contact his sister. Without consciously choosing to, his fingers hit the call button on his sister’s name. He watched as it said connecting, hoping she would answer the phone, explain that she’d gone off to visit some other place for a few weeks and was back now, safe, and the voice mail was some angry reaction to a breakup with the fifth boy she’d been dating since her arrival in Hong Kong. He prayed she’d pick up, like every other time he’d tried to call her in the last two weeks.

Hands shaking slightly, he brought the phone to his ear. Straight to voice mail, just like every time since he received her message. It didn’t even give him the benefit of hearing her voice, either; it was one of those generic “This number is not available. Please leave a message after the tone” messages. The hope that had been growing in his heart crumbled to dust, just as it had each time before.

It took every ounce of control he possessed not to redial the number immediately, but he managed. A man could only take so much disappointment at a time.

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Meet the Author

J.C. Long is an American expat living in Japan, though he’s also lived stints in Seoul, South Korea—no, he’s not an army brat; he’s an English teacher. He is also quite passionate about Welsh corgis and is convinced that anyone who does not like them is evil incarnate. His dramatic streak comes from his life-long involvement in theater. After living in several countries aside from the United States J. C. is convinced that love is love, no matter where you are, and is determined to write stories that demonstrate exactly that. J. C. Long’s favorite things in the world are pictures of corgis, writing and Korean food (not in that order…okay, in that order). J. C. spends his time not writing thinking about writing, coming up with new characters, attending Big Bang concerts and wishing he was writing. The best way to get him to write faster is to motivate him with corgi pictures. Yes, that is a veiled hint.

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Tour Schedule

3/6 – Books,Dreams,Life

3/6 – Happily Ever Chapter

3/7 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/7 – Erotica For All

3/8 – Divine Magazine

3/8 – Outrageous Heroes of Romance

3/9 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

3/9 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/10 – Love Bytes Reviews

3/10 – MM Good Book Reviews

 

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Mar 06

Book Blitz: The Broken Butterfly by Caitlin Ricci (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  The Broken Butterfly

Series: In the Shadows, book 2

Author: Caitlin Ricci

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: March 6

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 14900

Genre: Romance, NineStar Press, LGBT, gay, romance, ghost, demons, law enforcement, paranormal

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Synopsis

Carter is closer than ever to solving his latest cold case, but his disturbing dreams seem to be a warning to stay away from the truth. The victim, Jacob, deserves justice, and Carter can’t let a few bad dreams get in the way of that. When he goes to Malphas and Jamison for help, Carter learns that his dreams are more than they seem. What he learns is enough to send Malphas running, and as much as Carter wants to go with him and Jamison, he knows he can’t abandon Jacob so easily. Malphas says Jacob is being held by a powerful demon, and Carter knows he’s not in the business of doing favors for humans who aren’t Jamison. But to free Jacob, Carter is willing to do just about anything to convince Malphas to help him, even if it means making a deal with the devil.

Excerpt

The Broken Butterfly
Caitlin Ricci © 2017
All Rights Reserved

Some days Carter found it almost easy to be around Malphas. There were afternoons where Malphas would get Jamison and Carter drive-through cheeseburgers for lunch. He would sit quietly next to Jamison as if he was attempting to be on his best behavior during their lunch hour. During those afternoons, Carter could almost forget who Malphas was, what he was, and pretend he might have simply been a man Jamison was interested in and not the demon he actually was.

Then there were those times, like now, when Malphas was stretched out on the couch by himself while the three of them watched TV in the evenings. It had become routine since Carter had started staying with them. They each had a few slices of pizza in front of them, but unlike a normal person, Malphas had his pizza hovering in front of his face, close enough that he hardly had to move to take a bite, and whenever he wanted to turn the channel, he wiggled his fingers at the TV instead of using a remote.

Carter would have said something about how very nonhuman he was being, but it really didn’t matter. Malphas had gotten better about trying not to act so strangely when he was out with them or when he visited them at the precinct, and that was the important thing to remember when dealing with a demon. He was trying. Sometimes he still made light bulbs explode or people inexplicably changed their minds around him, especially when it benefited him or Jamison, but for the most part, Malphas was pretending to be just another normal human in the world. It was a relief not to have to feel like he had to constantly supervise the demon and remind him when he was acting out.

Two months ago, when Malphas had first come barreling into their lives, Carter would have never thought Malphas was anything other than a monster, and some days he hadn’t changed much at all, but he was always trying to be better. If only to please Jamison and stay on his good side.

Carter froze as he felt something warm drape over his shoulder. It still unnerved him sometimes to have his shadow around, especially since it was just a feeling and nothing nearly as corporeal as Malphas was. That would have made it easier, he was sure, if he could see whatever it was, whoever it was, that was following him around almost constantly.

“Is he here?” Carter asked Malphas. He’d started to give his shadow a gender. It made referring to him easier.

Malphas glanced over and then lifted his black eyes to something just above Carter’s shoulder. “Yep.” After a second, he added, “Well, it’s not my fault he can’t see you. Clearly you don’t belong in this realm. You should really go away.”

“That’s rich coming from a demon,” Carter replied, instantly coming to his shadow’s defense for no reason at all.

Jamison looked between them but said nothing. He’d been getting between them less and less. They hadn’t needed him to play referee when Malphas had shown no real interest in hurting Carter lately. There was the occasional jibe about him being an idiot, but even that had turned mostly playful.

Warmth spread down his shoulder to his arm, and Carter lifted his palm as the comfortable feeling flowed to his hand. He closed his eyes and imagined that whatever it was following him was holding his hand. Carter felt the slightest bit of pressure, but it wasn’t much, and he was half-certain he was actually imagining the whole thing.

“Hey,” he whispered. He could almost believe that he, whatever it was, was pushing back against him too.

Jamison got up from where he’d been sitting, and his movement distracted Carter enough that he lost the connection with his shadow.

“I wish I knew his name,” Carter said as he glanced behind him.

Mal snorted. “Why? He’s not actually part of this plane. He’s like…déjà vu or something like that. You know he’s here. I know he’s here. But he doesn’t actually exist here. It’s weird. He’s not a ghost or something like that. He’s stuck.”

That got Carter’s attention in a hurry, and Jamison paused on his way into the kitchen as well. “What do you mean he’s stuck?” Jamison asked Mal.

“Just that he’s where he is because he’s trapped there. It’s hard to explain to people who aren’t dead yet. When you die, I’ll show you.” Mal shrugged.

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Meet the Author

Caitlin was fortunate growing up to be surrounded by family and teachers that encouraged her love of reading. She has always been a voracious reader, and that love of the written word easily morphed into a passion for writing. She comes from a military family, and the men and women of the armed forces are close to her heart. She also enjoys gardening and horseback riding in the Colorado Rockies where she calls home with her wonderful husband and their two dogs. Her belief that there is no one true path to happily ever after runs deeply through all of her stories.

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Mar 04

Book Blitz: Guns n’ Boys: Bloodbath by K.A. Merikan (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Guns n’ Boys: Bloodbath

Series: Guns n’ Boys 6

Author: K.A. Merikan

Publisher: Acerbi & Villani ltd.

Release Date: 4th March 2017

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 115 000 words

Genre: Romance, Thriller/Suspense, mafia, organized crime, cartel, adopted, undercover, homophobia, assassin

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Synopsis

“I don’t even know who I am anymore.”
“All you need to know is that you’re mine.”

Seth would follow Domenico to the depths of hell. He promised to always be at Domenico’s side. But hell becomes all too real when they infiltrate the world of Toro – a notoriously security-obsessed arms dealer, who has eyes and ears everywhere.

Seth becomes unable to steal even a moment of intimacy with Domenico, and the tension grinds them down each day. Beyond the deceptive paradise of Toro’s villa, violence is an everyday occurrence, and the swimming pool could just as well be filled with blood. To survive, Seth has to become the man Domenico needs him to be, but in the process, he might lose who he truly is.

With Seth trained up, and Mark as backup, victory is so close Domenico can taste it. They just need to prove themselves to Toro as valuable assets. With each day though, Seth seems to be drifting away from Domenico, hidden behind a mask of cruelty and indifference. It is exactly what Domenico asked of him, so why is it so difficult to see Seth become his mirror image?

POSSIBLE SPOILERS:

Themes: mafia, cartel, assassin, organized crime, homophobia, human trafficking, undercover, family ties

Genre: Dark, twisted romance / crime thriller

Erotic content: Explicit scenes

Length: ~115,000 words

WARNING: Adult content. If you are easily offended, this book is not for you.
‘Guns n’ Boys’ is a gritty story of extreme violence, offensive language, abuse, and morally ambiguous protagonists. Behind the morbid facade, there is a splash of inappropriate dark humor, and a love story that will crawl under your skin.

Excerpt

“He doesn’t know us yet, but he will once I’m done with him,” Domenico said in a voice so chilling Seth felt odd about having wanted his hands all over in the morning, just hours before. Then again, even now, Domenico’s cool demeanor wasn’t a deterrent. If this side of Dom were something Seth truly despised, he’d have taken any opportunity to leave Dom many times over. Which of course he didn’t because he was a dumb, fat moth to Domenico’s flame, and he’d stick around no matter how many times he got burned.

The prisoner spat out some bloodied saliva and grinned, shaking his head. “Who are you even working for?”

Domenico let out a cloud of smoke, which swirled in the dim space. “We’re working for ourselves, and we’ve had an excellent track record so far.”

The man laughed, shaking his head wildly. “You’re in way above your head! What do you think is in that box, huh? A golden machine gun? Diamonds? You will regret ever stepping foot on our boat.”

Anger boiled over in Seth, and he planted his foot in the man’s stomach. Bile rose in his throat when he thought that the bloodshed and the risk they’d taken to hijack the vessel could have been for nothing.

Dom shifted on top of the trunk. “What is in the trunk?” he asked, almost softly, and nodded at Seth. A signal to keep going. To torture. First beat up, and then what? Cut off the guy’s fingers?

The man curled up as much as he could with his hands tied to the chair, and Seth hesitated, only to get a nasty surprise kick to the shin when their prisoner decided attack was the best way of protecting himself.

“You motherfucker!” This time, Seth had no mercy. He kicked the bastard’s stomach so hard the chair twisted, and he fell over, trapping one of his wrists between the chair and the floor. The choked scream did not soften Seth’s resolve that he was doing the right thing now. This was a man working for a cartel, caught on his way to deliver some goods to Raul Moreno. Why would he be worthy of Seth’s pity anyway?

Domenico leaned forward, watching the man’s face twist in discomfort. “What’s in the trunk?”

The mercenary gave a breathless laugh. “Something as common as mosquitoes,” he uttered, and it must have piqued Dom’s interest, because he stood up and approached.

“What then? Cocaine?”

The man grinned at them with his reddish teeth. “More than that.”

Seth stood back at the other side of the tiny cabin and crossed his arms on his chest. This was one guessing game he wasn’t about to play with the bastard.

Domenico sighed and slowly lowered himself. The burning end of the cigarette in his hand was bright red when it pressed against the mercenary’s cheek. The fucker gave a choked noise, clenching his teeth so hard Seth could practically hear them crack.

“You sure you don’t want to tell me? You’re dead anyway, so what is it to you?” asked Domenico.

“Well, it’s not explosives, so why don’t you just check yourself?” the man hissed after taking a few raspy breaths. Watching it made Seth so tense his muscles felt like made out of concrete.

Domenico sighed and looked back at the trunk.

“It’s sealed,” Miguel said from his spot at the door.

“I know,” Dom muttered, still gazing at the piece of luggage that might as well hold a medium-sized fridge.

The prisoner laughed. “Go on. Or are you scared of Raul Moreno?”

Seth rolled his eyes. “Pathetic attempt at reverse psychology there.”

The guy looked back at him with a frown, and Seth could bet he had no idea what that meant.

Domenico stayed silent, then pulled out a knife and presented it to Seth, handle first. “Open the trunk.”

Seth took the knife and approached the leather-bound box, but he licked his lips and watched the seal, giving himself a few more seconds. He wasn’t exactly afraid of it being explosives, since he doubted their prisoner would encourage them this way, but on the other hand, maybe that was exactly what it was, since the man had to understand by now that he would die soon anyway.

But Domenico knew his job like no other man, and he must have thought of that possibility. If he insisted Seth open the trunk, it had to be fine, even if the contents turned out to be disappointing, like a batch of Raul Moreno’s favorite popcorn.

Seth still decided to ask. “Are you sure? What if it’s a caiman?

“Just be careful. Nice and slow,” said Dom, moving his hand to their prisoner’s neck when Seth kneeled in front of the trunk.

The paper seal marked by some symbols and letters beckoned Seth’s attention, and it almost felt like he was about to slice into flesh. How would they explain the open seal upon arrival? Would they even need to? Maybe it was just a formality no one paid attention to anymore? His stomach clenched as he cut through the paper. The cracked and dusty leather suggested it wasn’t the first time the trunk had been used, and its size held no answers as to what secret it could hold.

Slowly, he opened several metal latches, and then three leather straps that further secured the lid in place. The silence inside the cabin was absolute, and he even heard the rubbing of leather against leather. His last thought before he raised the top of the trunk, which felt oddly heavy and sturdy, as if there was metal under the thick layer of leather, was that it had to be a very specialized container if it had been so clearly used for a long time.

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Meet the Author

K. A. Merikan is the pen name for Kat and Agnes Merikan, a team of writers, who are taken for sisters with surprising regularity. Kat’s the mean sergeant and survival specialist of the duo, never hesitating to kick Agnes’s ass when she’s slacking off. Her memory works like an easy-access catalogue, which allows her to keep up with both book details and social media. Also works as the emergency GPS. Agnes is the Merikan nitpicker, usually found busy with formatting and research. Her attention tends to be scattered, and despite pushing thirty, she needs to apply makeup to buy alcohol. Self-proclaimed queen of the roads.

They love the weird and wonderful, stepping out of the box, and bending stereotypes both in life and books. When you pick up a Merikan book, there’s one thing you can be sure of – it will be full of surprises.

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Mar 03

Book Blitz: Dragon Blues by Ophelia Bell

Title:  Dragon Blues

Series: Immortal Dragons Book 1

Author: Ophelia Bell

Publisher: Animus Press

Release Date: December 2, 2016

Heat Level: 5 – Erotica

Pairing: Male/Female/Male (No Male/Male interaction)

Length: 327 pages

Genre: Romance, Erotica, Fantasy, paranormal, bdsm, shifters, dragons

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Synopsis

Even immortal dragons can have crazy exes.

Three thousand years ago, immortal blue dragon Belah and her old lover took their kinks just a step too far, and she’s been trying to get over it ever since. The problem is that her ex is still out there wreaking havoc on her world, while Belah spent the last three millennia in hiding.

With her race’s world changing, it’s time for Belah to show her face again. Finding a new mate should be easy for a dragon as powerful as her, but “baggage” is an understatement when your ex is your race’s mortal enemy, and he’s just let you know he wants you back.

Determined to move on, Belah finds Lukas and Iszak North–not one, but two gorgeous, musically talented, and especially kinky brothers from one of the dragons’ sister races. The pair are perfect for Belah. Their race of falcon shifters mate for life–one look at Belah, and both North brothers know she’s their One. The problem is, they have baggage of their own, and Belah’s old lover is at the center of it. The brothers can’t help but love her in spite of her past, and when Belah answers their mating call and gives herself to them completely, they would do anything to keep her, even forgive her connection to their enemy.

When Belah’s old lover calls in a promise, she and her new mates learn there is more at stake than love, and it might take more than fancy knots and an adeptly wielded whip to find true happiness.

Excerpt

“We’ll be gentle,” Lukas said. He leaned in and Belah gladly opened up for his kiss.

“Don’t lie to her, brother,” Iszak said. “It’ll be as rough as we need it to be, but I have a feeling that’s what you’d rather have, isn’t it, Belah? You’re going to feel so much pleasure it’ll blow your mind, but we’re going to get one thing straight first. You’re going to submit to us the way your kind does to you. By ‘you’ I mean the Dragon Council. I’ve met a few dragons who broke your laws, so I’ve heard stories. If you want to tell me I’m wrong, please feel free to explain, but at the very least, tell me you understand.”

Belah balked, then was rudely reminded of her bindings when a knot dug in hard between her shoulderblades. Behind her, Lukas’s warmth came close and she felt him kneel between her legs. His warm cock brushed against her ass as his lips went to her ears.

“Do you submit?”

“To submit in the manner you ask would be no punishment,” Belah said. “Because it would mean being allowed to neither give nor receive pleasure from anyone besides those I submit to.”

She gazed up at Iszak, her eyelids fluttering when Lukas’s hands slid around her waist and up to cup her breasts and tease her nipples. “That sounds perfect, so do you submit?”

Before her, Iszak moved closer, the head of his cock radiating heat and the delicious aroma of his arousal mere inches from her lips. He reached down and cupped her cheek, stroking his thumb across her lower lip.

“Promise you submit to me and Lukas and only us.”

“I submit to only you, Iszak North and Lukas North, as my true and fated mates. I will take pleasure in no other partner until Fate decrees my days on this earth are done.”

Iszak let out a groan of pleasure that spilled into his gaze. “Fuck, your voice is beautiful when you say all the right words. Shame you won’t be using that mouth to speak for a good long while. Open up, baby.”

Purchase

Animus Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | iTunes

Meet the Author

Ophelia Bell is the author of the super steamy bestselling Sleeping Dragons series. Ophelia loves a good bad-boy and especially strong women in her stories—women who aren’t apologetic about enjoying sex and bad boys who don’t mind being with a woman who’s in charge, at least on the surface, because pretty much anything goes in the bedroom. Ophelia grew up on a rural farm in North Carolina and now lives in Los Angeles with her own tattooed bad-boy husband and four attention-whoring cats.

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Feb 27

Blog Tour: Time by Eden Darry (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Time:

Author: Eden Darry

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: February 27

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 56800

Genre: Romance, NineStar Press, LGBT, lesbian, romance, addiction, drug use, celebrities, coming out, reunited, farming, prison

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Synopsis

Shannon is a young talented movie star celebrating the release of her new blockbuster. Jay is struggling to rebuild her life and hiding a dark secret. They meet and spend two nights together, forging a connection that neither can let go. With their lives heading in different directions, they agree not to stay in touch.

Ten years later, with their fortunes reversed, they meet again and neither has been able to forget the other. Will this time be different? Can they have a real chance at love? Or will Jay’s secret and a tragic event pull them apart again?

Excerpt

Time
Eden Darry © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

Jesus, what I am I doing here? Jay spun around on her stool, and came face-to-face with a nervous dark-haired woman.

“Hi, I’m Claire.” Clearing her throat, Claire extended her hand and waited. Jay watched Claire’s hand as it hovered awkwardly between them before she dropped it limply to her side. Jay had no intention of shaking.

“My employer has asked me to come downstairs and invite you to join her for a drink.” Claire looked uncomfortable.

“What are you, her pimp? Who’s your employer?”

“I’m afraid I can’t tell you that. I’ll need you to sign a nondisclosure agreement first. My employer is a well-known celebrity.”

Claire’s voice was tinged with pride, despite the strange situation.

“You’re kidding?” Jay smiled humourlessly. “A nondisclosure agreement?”

“Yes—” Claire nodded. “—to prevent any negative press coming to light.”

“Listen, love.” She leaned forward on the stool, bringing her face close to the other woman and doing her best to be condescending. “I’m not interested, okay?”

Claire flinched. She obviously wasn’t used to being told no.

“Maybe you should think about it? My employer—”

“I’m not for sale. It doesn’t matter who’s paying. Understand?”

Something in her eyes must have convinced Claire. Nodding, she backed away and hurried off.

Jesus, a nondisclosure agreement? Time really does march on. She could remember when you bought someone a drink, made small talk for an hour, then went back to her place. Of course, she’d never had a celebrity want to shag her before. Jay wondered briefly who it might be. As if you would even know. It’s not like you’ve kept up to date with show business since you’ve been away. Even before, when other girls were poring over gossip magazines, she read books about gardening.

Before. That was how she thought of it now. There was before, when things had all looked bright and filled with promise, and now.

Now was something she didn’t really want to dwell on too much.

She nursed the beer for a few minutes longer, unsure why she didn’t just leave.

“Hey.” A soft American voice roused her from her thoughts. “Did you really call my assistant a pimp?”

The voice alone got her blood up. Husky and low, it had to be the sexiest voice she’d ever heard.

She turned slowly on her stool, taking in the woman before her. Long, wavy, golden-brown hair, and large grey eyes. Surprisingly, Jay knew who she was. Shannon Somebody—she couldn’t remember her last name. Jay raked her gaze over the woman’s body and lingered purposely on the full, creamy swell of breasts. Jesus, she is hot.

*****

Shannon usually got pissed off when someone blatantly stared at her tits. She wasn’t sure why it didn’t bother her this time. Even from another woman, it should have. Maybe because the woman ogling her was the same woman who’d just turned her down.

“So, are you going to answer me, or just carrying on fucking me with your eyes?” Shannon asked as she slid onto the barstool beside the woman, pushing her tits out a little more. That’s right. Have a good look at what you just turned down.

When Claire had come back, flustered and embarrassed, and relayed her conversation with the hot barfly, Shannon hadn’t hesitated in marching downstairs. It wasn’t often she got turned down—in fact, she couldn’t remember it ever happening before.

Who the hell does she think she is? Calling my assistant a pimp? Shannon caught herself at the bottom of the stairs. The woman was still on her stool looking moodily around the room with a slight air of bored arrogance which, to her surprise, Shannon found appealing. She felt the familiar tingle between her legs and decided maybe this prey would be worth chasing.

“Drink?” the woman asked, ignoring Shannon’s eye-fucking comment with a half-smile on her full lips.

“Honey, my drink costs eighty pounds a glass,” Shannon replied. She leaned forward and offered another view of her chest. To the woman’s credit, this time her eyes didn’t leave Shannon’s face.

“Fuck that then. You can buy me drink.”

Shannon frowned. She didn’t know what to say because this never happened either. The woman broke into a smile, and it was like the clouds had parted—she looked even sexier when she smiled.

Shannon grinned in return.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

Eden lives in London with her partner and their small, earless rescue cat. She runs her own business, and when she’s not working or writing, can usually be found rowing up and down the Thames.

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Tour Schedule

2/27 – Books,Dreams,Life

2/27 – Boy Meets Boy Reviews

2/28 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cents

2/28 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/1 – Divine Magazine

3/1 – Erotica For All

3/2 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

3/3 – Happily Ever Chapter

3/4 – Love Bytes Reviews

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Feb 27

Blog Tour: Ardulum: First Don by J.S. Fields (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Ardulum: First Don

Author: J.S. Fields

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: February 27

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 83500

Genre: Literary Fiction, Science Fiction, NineStar Press, LGBT, lesbian, bisexual, space opera, aliens, bonded, captivity, coming of age, criminals, kidnapping, pilot, religion, science, slow burn, smugglers, space, spaceships, telekinesis, telepathy

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Synopsis

Ardulum. The planet that vanishes. The planet that sleeps.

Neek makes a living piloting the dilapidated tramp transport, Mercy’s Pledge, and smuggling questionable goods across systems blessed with peace and prosperity. She gets by—but only just. In her dreams, she is still haunted by thoughts of Ardulum, the traveling planet that, long ago, visited her homeworld. The Ardulans brought with them agriculture, art, interstellar technology…and then disappeared without a trace, leaving Neek’s people to worship them as gods.

Neek does not believe—and has paid dearly for it with an exile from her home for her heretical views.

Yet, when the crew stumbles into an armed confrontation between the sheriffs of the Charted Systems and an unknown species, fate deals Neek an unexpected hand in the form of a slave girl—a child whose ability to telepathically manipulate cellulose is reminiscent of that of an Ardulan god. Forced to reconcile her beliefs, Neek chooses to protect her, but is the child the key to her salvation, or will she lead them all to their deaths?

Excerpt

Ardulum: First Don
J.S. Fields © 2017
All Rights Reserved

 

“Get those skiffs off our tail!” Captain Yorden Kuebrich yelled as Neek rounded the corner.

She looked out the viewscreen just in time to see the Pledge—her engines dead—exit the Callis Wormhole into the middle of a much-unexpected dogfight. A wedge-shaped Risalian skiff zipped past the Pledge, catching the edge of the ship on its wing, and started her into a slow spin. A pod, deep purple and about half the size of the skiff, chased the skiff and grazed their starboard flank. Neek braced herself against the console and heard Yorden tumble into the wall behind her, his substantial girth denting the aluminum.

Mentally cursing the ship’s poor artificial gravity, Neek launched herself into the pilot’s chair, grabbed the yoke, and scoured the latest damage report. “Aft stabilizer is shot,” she called out after checking the computer. Other skiffs near them suddenly swooped back into a larger group, and the Pledge was, for the moment, left alone. Neek released the yoke and let her fingers move deftly over the interface. “Those new spray-on cellulose binders for the hull are holding, but only just. What’s left of the Minoran armor plating is now officially cracked beyond repair.”

She swiveled to see the captain buckling himself into a much larger version of her own chair. His brown hair puffed about his head, per usual, but his body language spoke of surprise and tension. That concerned Neek because Yorden was old enough to have lived through actual conflicts. If anyone knew how to react in a situation like this, it was him.

“Were we just attacked?” she asked incredulously. Neek took a closer look out the viewscreen. The rectangular cutter that sparkled with pinpricks of light and the wedge-shaped, agile skiffs were Risalian. The pods—both the smaller purple ones and the frigate-sized, maroon ones—were unfamiliar. Their formations were just as strange, stacked in columns like stones on a riverbank instead of in pyrimidal and spherical formations like Systems ships would. “Are those all Charted Systems ships?”

Yorden threw up his hands in disgust. “They’re not just Charted Systems ships—they’re Risalian ships. The cutter and skiffs are, anyway. No clue on the pods. What those blue-skinned bastards are doing out here with fully weaponized ships, I can only guess. However, they’re firing lasers. If we lose our armor and take a hit from any of those, we are space dust.”

“Comforting,” Neek mumbled. She hadn’t noticed the laser ports on any of the ships, but now that she looked closer, all of the vessels were covered with armor plating and had at least two laser turrets each.

Neek continued to watch as the pods begin to cluster around a Risalian cutter. A pod ship zipped beneath the cutter, firing wildly at its underside, before making a quick right turn and heading back to a larger pod. Five others followed suit. The cutter’s shielding began to splinter, but the ship remained where it was.

Neek leaned towards the viewscreen, still unsure what she was seeing. “The Risalian ships aren’t chasing, they’re just defending. What is going on? If they’re going to appoint themselves sheriffs of the Charted Systems, they could at least fight back.”

Yorden smacked his hand against the wall, loosing a shower of dust. “Something on that Risalian ship is holding their attention. Get us out of here, before either of them gets any closer.” He pointed to a cluster of ships to Neek’s right, and her eyes followed. Little flashes of bright light sparked and then died intermittently as ships were destroyed, their flotsam creating an ever-expanding ring. A large piece of metal plating floated past the Pledge’s port window. The edge caught and left a thin scratch in the fiberglass as it slid off.

“What are they protecting that is so damn important?” Neek wondered out loud and then snorted. “Something worth more than our hold full of diamond rounds and cellulose-laced textiles?” she added cheekily.

Scowling, Yorden pushed Neek’s hand away from the computer and began his own scan of the Pledge’s systems. “Communications are still up, but I don’t think either party is listening right now.” Frustrated, he kicked the underside of the console. “Try one of them. Better than being crushed.”

“Captain, come on. We are dead in space. If another one comes at us, why don’t we just fire at it? It’s better than being rammed.” She pointed upwards at a circular hole in the ceiling. “What’s the benefit of flying a ship so ancient it falls apart if you’re not taking advantage of the grandfathered weapons system?”

Yorden’s terse response was cut off when a short burst impacted the ship. Another group of skiffs flew past, depositing laser fire as they did so. The Pledge banked to port, carrying momentum from the impact. From the direction they had come lay a trail of shattered ship plating.

A panicked voice called down from the laser turret. Neek bristled, steeling herself against the inevitable irritation that came whenever their Journey youth spoke. “That skiff just fired at us. How does it even have weapons? I thought we were the only ones in the Systems with a ship older than dirt.”

Neek wrapped her right hand back around the steering yoke. Each of her eight fingers fit perfectly into the well-worn grooves, and the brown leather darkened a shade as her naturally secreted stuk smeared from her fingertips. She smiled to herself. Flying a geriatric tramp was still better than flying nothing at all.

“Look, Captain,” she said, keeping her eyes on the battle. “I can steer this thing if we get pushed, but that is it. We don’t have any other options. They have guns. We have guns. Well, we have a gun. Why don’t we use it?”

Yorden stared at the approaching ships and then took a step back. “I am willing to ignore the illegality of what you are suggesting because I don’t want to spend my retirement as incinerated flotsam. Attracting more attention to ourselves is a terrible idea, but we won’t have a choice if a ship comes at us again.” Neek raised an eyebrow, and Yorden snorted. “Better incarcerated than dead, I suppose.”

A large plume of yellow smoke burst from the far wall panel as Yorden spoke, almost as if the Pledge were agreeing. Two more shots impacted the tramp and sent the small transport into a tight spin. Neek gripped the yoke with both hands and pulled hard, trying to steady the ship. Yorden’s hip smacked the main console, and the thin metal scaffold dented.

“Do it!” he bellowed, rubbing his hip. “We can worry about Risalian consequences for owning weapons if we live past the next ten minutes.” The captain got onto his knees to inspect the new cloud of smoke that was billowing from underneath the console. Neek fanned the computer interface and coughed, attempting to assess the damage. The smell of burning wood wafted towards her, and she suspected some of the new Cell-Tal bindings were on fire.

“I don’t hear any firing, Nicholas,” the captain called, his voice hoarse.

“I don’t know how to work any of this stuff,” Nicholas yelled back as the sound of frantic button pushing could be heard over the panic in his voice. “I’m just supposed to be observing!”

“Just press buttons until something happens,” Neek called up to him. Her head rolled back slightly as she relaxed the Pledge from a tailspin to a gentle rotation by opening the gas vents. As the internal gravity system began its whirring to adjust to their decreased movement, laser bursts—sporadic and utterly uncoordinated—began to ring from the Pledge’s turret. The bright streaks of yellow light shot in the general direction of the fray.

“Try to aim, Nicholas!” Yorden bellowed over his shoulder. “Did they teach you nothing useful in school? We’re not trying to piss off both fleets, just keep them away from us.” He bent down and opened an access panel beneath the yoke, searching again for the source of the smoke that was now seeping through the upper console.

“Half of these switches don’t do anything!” Nicholas yelled back, his voice muffled by laser fire.

“Why not try hitting the ones that do do something?” Yorden retorted.

“Ha!” Neek exclaimed. She entered the final series of commands with her left hand, and the star field outside the viewscreen stabilized. “Did a little back alley reroute, so I think this waste of space might just stay upright for a little bit. We’re far enough below the battle that maybe we’ll be left alone for a while.”

As Neek finished her sentence, she watched a Risalian skiff break formation and align perfectly with the Pledge. Neek’s breath caught in her throat.

“Uh, Captain?” she said, not wanting to turn around.

“Figure it out, Neek,” came Yorden’s terse response. “If I don’t fix the air quality breaker, we’re going to suffocate to death.”

The skiff edged closer, staying in their direct line of sight. Neek assumed they were being scanned, but with the archaic technology on the Pledge, she had no way to confirm it. She wondered briefly if the pilot on the skiff was staring as intently out the viewscreen as she was. She tried to imagine the mindset it took to fire on an unarmed ship that was dead in space and, as she contemplated, rubbed the back of her head. Of course, the Pledge was not unarmed, but the likelihood of the Risalians having pulled the ship’s registration since their emergence from the wormhole was low. Neek ground her fingertips into her temples. A funny tickle was starting there—one she couldn’t quite place but hoped wasn’t the start of a headache. Likely, it was just residual tension from speaking to her uncle.

A pod disengaged with the Risalian cutter and swooped on top of the skiff, showering it with laser fire. The skiff banked to starboard, avoiding each blast, and then righted. The pod moved to the other side of the Pledge and bobbed around her edges.

“We’re being used as a shield,” Neek muttered. Louder, she yelled, “Nicholas, pick one and just fire already!” The pressure in Neek’s head grew. Irritated, she pressed a stuk-covered finger to the affected area and visualized pushing the pain away.

A ringing sound came from the laser turret. A bright yellow shot appeared from the top of the viewscreen and opened a hole in the skiff’s hull. The ship began to list and, a moment later, exploded when two additional shots were added by the pod.

“I got one!” Nicholas yelled. The sound of his whooping could be heard distinctly through the ceiling. “Take that you tiny skiffs!”

“Get the other one! Don’t stop until—” Neek cut herself off as she took in the battlefront. Nicholas’s destruction of the skiff caused a ripple effect among the others. The rest of the small Risalian skiffs had broken formation and begun flying erratically. Some were running into each other, others simply heading off course. One was listing at an odd angle, expelling occasional bursts of red fuel. The Risalian cutter was left unattended, and the strange pod frigate was closing in.

“Were the skiffs on autopilot?” Neek asked incredulously.

“Autopilot doesn’t work for those kinds of maneuvers,” Yorden responded. “It is only useful for fixed points and straight lines.” Both watched in confusion as the smaller ships continued to drift apart and the largest pod docked with the cutter. “The round ships aren’t firing anymore,” Yorden murmured. “That’s something.”

“Do you want me to keep shooting, Captain?” Nicholas had come down the ladder from the turret and into the main cockpit. He was noticeably shaken, and the sweat stains on his shirt spoke of the stress he had been under moments before. His expression darkened as he asked, “I didn’t kill anyone, did I?”

“Maybe,” Neek responded casually, trying not to think about the implications. She’d forgotten how sensitive Journey youths could be. She tried to mitigate the snark in her tone but couldn’t quite figure out how to do it. “It saved our lives though. Something worth writing home about, anyway.”

Nicholas shifted uncomfortably on his feet but remained uncharacteristically quiet.

A tiny, purple light began to flash at the base of the console. Neek tapped the area. “Incoming hail from the pod that’s docked with the Risalian cutter. You want to answer?”

“The troublemakers are contacting us?” Yorden considered and then shrugged his shoulders as he accepted the hail. “This is Captain Yorden Kuebrich of the Mercy’s Pledge. We’re a tramp ship on our way to Oorin. To whom might we be speaking?”

A grainy image finally materialized on the comm, revealing a hovering, purple-black, spherical being with no apparent appendages, eyes, or mouth. It did, however, have distinctly human-looking ears that protruded from the sides of the sphere.

“That’s a giant, sentient beach ball,” Nicholas stated flatly.

“At least it’s not a traveling planet,” Neek muttered.

Yorden glared at both of them and then turned his attention back to the comm.

The ball creature bobbed up and down twice. A lateral slit formed right in the center of its body and slowly opened.

“We’re off course,” the creature said in perfect Common. “We’ve sustained heavy damage and must dock for repair. As you are also disabled, we can offer you a tow to a planet with repair capabilities.”

Yorden looked quickly to Neek, who shrugged. They had to get a tow from someone. Why not a beach ball? There was no way the Risalians would give them a tow after what they’d just done to their fleet, and they definitely couldn’t just spin near the exit of a wormhole forever.

“That’d be Oorin. We’ve got a pull loop just under the port plating. I’ll have my pilot extend it, and you can latch on however you want.” Yorden gestured at Neek, who, in an exaggerated movement, brought two of her fingers up into an arc and then back down onto a blue button on the far upper section of the console.

“Pull loop extended, Captain. Can we have Nicholas get out and push?”

The young man scowled, but his retort was cut off when the Pledge gave a large jerk as one of the alien pods latched onto the pull loop with a coiled metal rope.

“Prepare for towing,” the sphere said before cutting off the communication.

There was silence in the cockpit for a long moment before Yorden exhaled and slumped into his chair. He leaned back, and the chair reclined, groaning under his weight. “I think that took twenty years off my life. We need to get answers from Chen when we hit the spaceport. If the Charted Systems are being invaded—or whatever just happened to provoke the Risalians—the Systems are not prepared for it.”

“This is just another notch on your belt, I’d imagine, Captain.”

When Yorden didn’t respond, Neek playfully punched him on the shoulder before she settled back and closed her eyes. Notch on his belt, and another irritation on hers. She’d have to put off calling her uncle back for at least a few days now, which wasn’t going to look good on the yearly report. Maybe she should just write this year off altogether and send the president a few recordings of her actual thoughts. Neek grinned. That would be incredibly satisfying but, unfortunately, detrimental to her goal.

At least the funniness in the back of her head was gone. Whatever the last ten minutes had been about, Neek was glad things hadn’t gotten more serious. Hopefully, they would soon be far, far away from the Risalians, their ridiculously overpowered ships, and whatever it was they wanted so desperately to protect.

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NineStar Press | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Smashwords

Meet the Author

J.S. Fields is a scientist who has perhaps spent too much time around organic solvents. She enjoys roller derby, woodturning, making chain mail by hand, and cultivating fungi in the backs of minivans. Nonbinary, but prefers female pronouns. Always up for a Twitter chat.

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Tour Schedule

2/27 – Wicked Faerie’s Tales and Reviews

2/27 – Books,Dreams,Life

2/28 – Molly Lolly; Reader, Reviewer, Lover of Words

3/1 – Queer Sci Fi

3/1 – Celticlady’s Reviews

3/2 – Fangirl Moments and My Two Cent

3/3 – Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

3/4 – Love Bytes Reviews

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Feb 24

Book Blitz: Fallen Angel by Eden Winters (Excerpt & Giveaway)

Title:  Fallen Angel

Series: The Angel of 13th Street 2

Author: Eden Winters

Publisher: Rocky Ridge Books

Release Date: 2/27/17

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 63,000 words

Genre: Romance, Age difference, urban, rent boys, redemption, second chances

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Synopsis

Who can save the rescuer of lost souls?

For ten years ex-rent boy Noah Everett has fought the good fight, offering second chances to those still in the life. Now he’s cracking under the stress. What began as a two-man mission is now going corporate, meaning rules, regulations and inexperienced volunteers needing guidance in a field Noah makes up as he goes along. Who can he turn to when his mentor’s strength is all but gone and his lover is leaving for college—possibly for good?

Four years at State with a full ride scholarship will launch Jeremy Kincaid’s future, but his present includes Noah, Doc, and the closest he’s ever had to a family. And a meth addict who’s become Jeremy’s own personal mission.

An attack sends Noah spinning out of control. Jeremy has to find the way to reach Noah before the man he knows and loves disappears forever.

Excerpt

Noah slammed a case of beer down in the cooler and fished his ringing cell phone out of his pocket. Nobody called his personal phone at this time of day without good reason.  “Noah Everett.”

“Noah? Hey, man. It’s Chip.”

Noah emerged from the cooler, passed through the bar and mouthed, “I’ll be back,” to Mary behind the bar. He stepped out the back door of The Twelfth Street Bar and Grill and plunked down onto a dry spot on the stoop. The rain had finally stopped, raising the humidity to sweltering levels. If this call didn’t need privacy he’d have stayed in the cooler.

“Have you thought any more about what we discussed?” Given the phone call, the caller probably had. Trouble was, thinking alone didn’t seem to be getting them anywhere.

The casual, “Yeah,” didn’t bode well.

“And?” Fuck.

A long silence followed. “Well, my… my boyfriend isn’t a bad man. I mean, he treats me good and stuff, it’s just that I don’t like… I don’t like—”

“You don’t like him pimping you out to other men,” Noah finished for Chip.

Inside his bar, sixty-seven notches decorated a doorframe, signifying sixty-seven rent boys who’d left prostitution behind and started over someplace else.

Had Doc Cook carved a notch somewhere when he’d pulled Noah from the gutter, dusted him off, and pointed him in the right direction?

What the hell made Chip stay with the user? Noah should’ve notched him in at sixty-eight by now. Instead Chip sat on a fence, dreaming of a better life and fooling himself into believing he could have it here.

 

An exasperated huff sounded in Noah’s ear. “Yeah. Things were cool until he started arranging dates for me.”

Arranging dates? Noah ran his fingers through his short hair and blew out a breath. Motherfucking pimps. More like pimples on the ass of mankind.

Chip continued trying to talk himself out of seeing reason. “I dunno, maybe he’ll stop. I mean, I know he loves me.”

Loves me? Chip had strange ideas of love. He loves me, and we’re only doing this until we have enough money to go away and have it be just us. Noah had said those same words to himself once.

 

But “us” never happened.

Empty promises had sustained him through sleazy meetings that had started with come-ons and a handful of cash and ended with Noah grateful when johns did him in a hotel room so he could scrub himself raw after they left.

And some johns had scared the fuck out of him.

Chip would be a hot commodity in certain markets. Cute, in an innocent, boy-next-door kind of way, easily influenced, with an inborn willingness to please, and, worse yet, gullible, much as Noah had been many years ago. Chip might as well hang a sign around his neck: “Use me!” No way would the boyfriend give up such a low maintenance source of cash.

Noah began pacing behind the building, boots crunching against gravel. Every kid who called forced him to relive his own past, his own fuck ups.

Damn it all to hell! Had the kid known so little love in his life that he’d cling to a sick illusion?

“Do you actually believe he’ll stop?” Noah kept because I sure as hell don’t to himself.

More silence, a sigh, and then a rare scrap of reality from Chip. “No.”

Noah forced his voice calm when he really wanted to jump through the phone and fix the dumb kid’s life before it was too late. “From what you’ve told me, your parents are out of the question, but how about your grandparents? Or older brother?” Those were Noah’s first choices: stick Chip on a bus and let others with a personal interest manage putting his life back together. Second choice? Put him on a bus to a safe house; let those better qualified handle the details.

This time, no uncertainly colored the adamant, “No! Definitely not! I can’t go home.” More quietly Chip added, “But I’m not sure how long I can stay here, either. He… he talked to a friend of his yesterday.” Even through a telephone connection, Noah envisioned a shudder. “I don’t wanna be in videos.”

Oh shit. Videos. Noah slammed his hand against the wall. No!

“Charge extra for pictures, Noah,” Stevie had said. Noah’s pimp didn’t want to miss a buck, and every time Noah flexed and stretched, it was an easy extra that went straight into the pimp’s pocket.

 

Bad enough how Noah had made his living without adding hard evidence. It was only a matter of time before Stevie sent him to a studio.

 

Noah couldn’t go back in time and save his eighteen-year-old self, but he could save Chip. If only the guy would listen.

Purchase

Rocky Ridge Books | Amazon

Meet the Author

You will know Eden Winters by her distinctive white plumage and exuberant cry of “Hey, y’all!” in a Southern US drawl so thick it renders even the simplest of words unrecognizable. Watch out, she hugs!

Driven by insatiable curiosity, she possibly holds the world’s record for curriculum changes to the point that she’s never quite earned a degree but is a force to be reckoned with at Trivial Pursuit.

She’s trudged down hallways with police detectives, learned to disarm knife-wielding bad guys, and witnessed the correct way to blow doors off buildings. Her e-mail contains various snippets of forensic wisdom, such as “What would a dead body left in a Mexican drug tunnel look like after six months?” In the process of her adventures she has written fourteen m/m romance novels, has won several Rainbow Awards, was a Lambda Awards Finalist, and lives in terror of authorities showing up at her door to question her Internet searches.

When not putting characters in dangerous situations she’s a mild-mannered business executive, mother, grandmother, vegetarian, and PFLAG activist.

Her natural habitats are airports, coffee shops, and on the backs of motorcycles.

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