Friday, February 26, 2021

Socially Orcward by Lisa Henry & Sarah Honey Bog Tour with Excerpt and Giveaway


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Blog Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
Socially Orcward
By Lisa Henry & Sarah Honey


Adventures in Aguillo, Book 3

Dave is a simple orc with a simple life. He has his dragons, his music, and his friends, and that’s mostly enough. Sometimes though, he gets lonely and wishes there was someone he could share his interests with—maybe even someone he could hold hands with, although he knows it’s not likely that there’s a special person out there for someone who’s seven feet tall and green to boot.

So it’s a delightful surprise when Simon Perrin, the new kitchen boy, not only knows all about dragons, but seems to like Dave as much as Dave likes him back. But all is not what it seems, and Simon is hiding a dark secret. There are sinister forces at work, and Simon needs to find a way out of the situation he’s trapped in. If he doesn’t, it could mean disaster for the entire kingdom of Aguillon, and an even more terrible fate for Pie, Dave’s beloved fingerdragon.

When Dave discovers Simon and Pie are in danger, he’s swept up in a rescue mission that spans an ocean, tests a friendship, and has more dragons that you could poke a lute at. It’s going to be a wild ride—literally.

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New Tour Excerpt:

“What’re you doin’ to my babies?” a monstrous, seven foot tall, pale green figure demanded, tusks gleaming and face a picture of rage as he stormed across the room and clamped a meaty hand on Simon’s shoulder. The other hand poked Simon’s chest with one thick finger, knocking all the breath out of him, and all Simon could manage was a gasp.

This must be the orc, and he was terrifying. In that moment Simon didn’t care what James had said, he was certain he was about to get eaten, or thrown out of a window, or something equally fatal.

The orc was still scowling at him, so Simon managed to squeak out, “Theeggwasoutoftheflames!” in a single garbled sentence that he hoped desperately would save him.

The green face scrunched up in confusion before Dave loosened the grip on Simon’s shoulder fractionally. “What?”

Simon nodded frantically. “It—the egg rolled out and I didn't want it to get cold. I know they need steady temperatures,” he added, “and judging by the black shell it’s an Ebony Oriental, and those are especially tricky to hatch.”

Like magic, Dave’s face lit up in what Simon assumed was a smile, although it was hard to tell with the tusks. “Tha’s right! I was gonna call him Inky when he hatches.”


Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Socially Orcward, Lisa & Sarah are giving away a $20 Amazon Gift Card!

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About the Authors:

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About Lisa:

Lisa likes to tell stories, mostly with hot guys and happily ever afters.

Lisa lives in tropical North Queensland, Australia. She doesn't know why, because she hates the heat, but she suspects she's too lazy to move. She spends half her time slaving away as a government minion, and the other half plotting her escape.

She attended university at sixteen, not because she was a child prodigy or anything, but because of a mix-up between international school systems early in life. She studied History and English, neither of them very thoroughly.

She shares her house with too many cats, a dog, a green tree frog that swims in the toilet, and as many possums as can break in every night. This is not how she imagined life as a grown-up.

Lisa has been published since 2012, and was a LAMBDA finalist for her quirky, awkward coming-of-age romance Adulting 101, and a Rainbow Awards finalist for 2019’s Anhaga.

To connect with Lisa on social media, you can find her here:


She also has a Facebook group where you’ll be kept in the loop with updates on releases, have a chance to win prizes, and probably see lots of lots of pictures of her dog and cats. You can find it here: Lisa Henry’s Hangout.

About Sarah:

Sarah lives in Western Australia with her partner, two cats, two dogs and a TARDIS.

A teacher once told her life’s not a joke.

She begs to differ.

Her proudest achievements include having kids who will still be seen with her in public, and knowing all the words to Bohemian Rhapsody.

You can connect with Sarah on Facebook, or send her an email at


Bounce by Becca Seymour - Cover Reveal with Excerpt and Giveaway



Cover Reveal, Excerpt & Giveaway:

Bounce by Becca Seymour

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Outback Boys, Book 2

Standoffish Aiden is content keeping people at a distance and ensuring his boundaries are impenetrable. There’s safety in not opening up, but there’s also a loneliness he doesn’t realise exists until he meets Riley, a new member of the LGBTQI+ adventure group Outback Boys.

Fascinated by the new guy, Aiden is quick to discover his flirtation skills are rusty and his sweet-talking is cringeworthy. But sweet and clumsy Riley doesn’t seem to mind so much.

Even though Riley doesn’t quite know how to handle Aiden’s intensity, he’s willing to step out of his comfort zone and see how their tentative friendship unravels.

Between a surf lesson that resembles a kangaroo on acid and paddle boarding that is trickier than walking a tightrope, Aiden and Riley discover love may be a possibility after all.

Happiness relies on honesty and openness, though. And with both men holding on tightly to past struggles, their future together is at risk. Can the two Aussies bounce back and heal themselves and each other, or are some wounds too raw to recover from?

Outback Boys is a sweet and sexy M/M romance series complete with bruised butts, rope burn, and overworked muscles… all in the pursuit of adventure, of course!

Trigger Warning: Contains themes (discussions) of mental health and suicide.

Coming March 27!

Pre-Order Universal Link


Cover Reveal Excerpt: Bounce by Becca Seymour

*Disclaimer: Unproofed copy


“You did great. Now look at you,” Mark said to Trey. “Speeding on ahead and giving even hardened adventurers a run for their money.” He turned his attention to me. “Honestly, just get through today, and you’ll find you’ll love it. Doesn’t mean you won’t feel the burn tomorrow, though.” He grinned.

A low groan tumbled from me. “Is it going to be that bad?”

Mark laughed good-naturedly. “Tomorrow we’re kayaking, so at least your legs will be given a break. You’ll be fine.”

I hoped he was right.

“Great job, everyone.” I turned my attention to a new voice. A guy called Frank had done a small greet and intro when we’d set up camp this morning. The tall, brown-haired guy currently holding my attention was most definitely not Frank—a smiley guy in his sixties. Nope. The hunk of deliciousness was perhaps close to my age and had such sculptured, toned legs that I doubted the measly eighteen kilometres from today would be felt. “My name’s Aiden, for those first-timers.” He glanced around, his eyes connecting with mine, a friendly smile forming on his lips.

Hot damn.

I gulped, impressed I remembered how to complete that simple action since my whole body reacted to the man.

“We’ll stop for twenty minutes, then continue the trail.” He looked at his watch. “We should be able to take another pit stop when we’re on the last leg and be back at camp by five.”

Frank walked to his side, saying, “Don’t forget to holler if you need anything, and we’ll let you know tonight about the plans for tomorrow.” He turned to Aiden, who said something and laughed. While I couldn’t hear the words, his laughter was deep and loud. Goosebumps travelled up my skin at the sound.

An elbow in my side had me whipping my head around. My gaze landed on Pete’s shit-eating grin. “Pick your jaw up off the ground.” While he spoke a little lower than usual, Mark and Trey snorted, clearly having heard him.

Heat flushed up my neck, spreading across my cheeks. I cleared my throat and narrowed my eyes at Pete. “I was only paying attention.”

“Uh-huh.” Pete nodded, amusement dancing in his eyes. “And the drool?”

I huffed and shook my head. “Piss off.”

Check out where it all began...

Outback Boys, Book 1

Trey has a problem he’s worked hard to manage. It involves not turning into a bumbling mess while around a gorgeous brown-haired man who’s way out of his league. Eight months’ practice from being part of the same LGBTQI+ adventure group, Outback Boys, means he’s perfected the skill.

That’s until an epic stumble makes his head spin and he throws all caution to the wind. But there’s no turning back now, especially since a snow-filled trip means they’re forced to spend even more time together.

Mark has no concerns about the changes unfolding between him and Trey, the giant of a man who’s adorably reserved. He’s been crushing on him for so long that he’s eager to explore more. But when their latest adventure is over and they fall back into the real world, balancing work, life, and a relationship proves more challenging than he envisioned.

Something has got to give, and neither man knows the best way ahead without upsetting the status quo. Can the two Aussies work their way through their new connection, or will they stumble at the first hurdle in their way?

Outback Boys is a sweet and sexy low-angst M/M romance series complete with bruised butts, rope burn, and overworked muscles… all in the pursuit of adventure, of course!

This title was originally part of the Winter Wonderland Giveaway. The Amazon version, however, includes new bonus content--two extended scenes and a must-read epilogue.

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Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate Becca's Cover Reveal, we are giving readers the chance to win 1 of 3 e-copies of Bounce!

Enter the Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win!

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Becca Seymour Author Profile

About the Author:

Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.

Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.

Connect with Becca:


Thursday, February 25, 2021

Keeping Casey by Amy Aislin - Release Blitz with Excerpt and Giveaway


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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway:

Keeping Casey by Amy Aislin

Keeping Casey Ebook

Keeping Him, Book 1

Casey Preston is the guy with the plan. The list-maker. The one who micromanages his own life.

Spontaneously offering to be his best friend’s fake boyfriend to get Ethan’s annoying team captain off his back?

That’s not thinking things through. It’s not even smart given Casey’s been fighting his feelings for Ethan for years.

Ethan Rain just wants to play hockey and get his college degree. Adding a fake boyfriend to the mix? He doesn’t need that complication.

If Casey were his real boyfriend, though? If he got to keep Casey forever? Now we’re talking.

But what if Casey doesn’t want to be kept?

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Teaser 1

Teaser 2


Ethan must’ve made a sound. Casey’s head swung in his direction, gaze examining him head to toe in what had become standard for Casey ever since his dad died—checking Ethan over for injuries after practice.

Apparently satisfied, he smiled wide, making Ethan’s stomach tumble, and said, “Hey. I have things for you.”

“So you said.” Dropping his gear bag and backpack next to the door, Ethan moved Casey’s backpack off his desk chair and sat, discreetly rubbing a wrist while Casey wasn’t looking. Wrapping them for practices and games helped, but they were always sensitive afterward, no matter what. He rubbed the other wrist while Casey’s back was turned.

A rustle drew his attention to Casey. There was a pile of . . . stuff on Casey’s bed. Brochures, flyers, buttons, business cards, even a GH pennant. Two piles, actually. He picked up the second, smaller one and handed it to Ethan. “Thought you might be interested in these.”

Ethan dropped them on the desk and sorted through them. “I don’t really have time for clu— Oh, hey! Cross-Stitch Fun-Stitch?”

“Closest I could find to needle felting.”

“Speaking of.” Digging into the outer pocket of his bag, Ethan came out with a squat, felt owl only a couple of inches tall and as round as a bowling ball. He tossed the white-and-gray bundle to Casey. “Forgot to give this to you earlier.”

“Another hootie for my collection?” Casey placed it on the windowsill where a dozen other little felt owls sat in a row. Ethan had been making them for Casey since he’d started needle felting in high school, and he knew there were probably three dozen more in Casey’s bedroom back home. “I’ve got something else for you too.” From the other pile on the bed, Casey fished out a button and leaned over Ethan to affix it to his T-shirt, over his heart.

Ethan stilled, worried he’d pull Casey onto his lap to nuzzle his neck if he so much as twitched a finger. At the end of the day like this, Casey didn’t smell like anything excerpt something uniquely him and, very faintly, of shampoo. This close, the olive green in Casey’s hazel eyes was more pronounced and Ethan had to resist the pull to poke at the tiny beauty mark on his chin.

“There.” Casey stood back with a grin.

Ethan read the button upside down. I dig you. “Let me guess,” he said with a chuckle. “You joined the Archeology Club.”

“And the Hiking Club. Signed you up for it too.”


“I know you don’t have a lot of free time, but I figured there might be a few outings you could attend. Like, the first event is on a Sunday afternoon a couple of weeks from now. You can come then, right?”

Sundays were free of hockey practice and games, so unless Ethan was traveling back from an away game with his team, he had Sundays off. “Yeah, probably.”

“Cool. I’ll RSVP us.”

Ethan played with his button, the metal making a click-click sound as Casey moved the rest of his stuff off the bed and onto the coffee table. I dig you. It was simply one friend giving it to another. Ethan shouldn’t read anything further into it, even if he desperately wished Casey meant something else.

There were other buttons that Casey had gotten for him too and Ethan parsed through them on the desk.

Keep your ion the prize. He chuckled. Casey must’ve stopped by the chemistry club to pick these up for him.

There was also Make like a proton and stay positive, Chemists in a lab are in their element, I like to hear chemistry puns, periodically, and Forget hydrogen, you’re my number one element.

The last one he pinned to Casey’s backpack.

Teaser 3

Enter the Giveaway:

To celebrate the release of Keeping Casey, Amy is giving away a signed copy of Keeping Casey to one lucky winner!
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About the Author:

Amy's lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she's read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she's been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn't at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada's largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group, Amy Aislin’s Readers, to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram and Twitter, or sign up for her newsletter.

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Her Shelter by Terri Anne Browning - Release Day Blitz


Title: Her Shelter
Series: Angels Halo MC Next Gen #6
Author: Terri Anne Browning
Genre: New Adult/MC Romance
Release Date: February 25, 2021


The beautiful, ethereal creature ran across the road on my way home one night. I nearly hit her and ended up wiping out in the process. A little dazed, I ran after her…

And found her in the woods. Dirty and cold from living on the streets for weeks—but still so breathtaking, I was sure I was dreaming her.

Delaney is deaf, scared, and on the run from her uncle.

But now that I’ve found her, I won’t let anything hurt her ever again.

She makes me feel something I’ve never felt before. This tightness in my chest causes the beast within me to snarl unless she’s beside me. She becomes my obsession, my reason to get out of bed in the morning. She makes me want to be…better. For her.

I’m never letting this girl go.

No matter who tries to take her from me.










Releasing June 29



Terri Anne Browning is a USA TODAY bestselling author. Being dyslexic, she never thought a career in writing would be possible, yet she has been on bestselling lists multiple times since 2013. Reese: A Safe Haven Novella was her first Indie published book. The Rocker Who Holds Me changed the tables and kicked off The Rocker... series featuring the sinfully delicious members of Demon's Wings. The Rocker... Series is now complete with 12 books and the occasional novella. Other books by Terri Anne include the Angel's Halo MC Series, as well as The Lucy & Harris Novella Series, The Vitucci Mafiosos Series, and The Tainted Knights Rocker Series.

Terri Anne lives in Virginia with her husband, their three demons---err, children--and a hyper Frenchie named Grunt.


Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Mr. Uptight by Felice Stevens - Release Blitz with Excerpt

Title: Mr. Uptight
Author: Felice Stevens
Genre: MM Romance
Release Date: February 18, 2021


What do you do when you wake up with a hangover and find yourself in bed with your best friend’s younger brother?
Who happens to be your new brother-in-law?
The man who drives you crazy.
The man who’s always skated by on fast-talk, good looks, and a bright smile.
The one who makes you want to break all the rules.
You hire him as your assistant, of course. And pray you can keep your sanity.
And your hands off him.

How do you prove you’ve changed?
That you’re no longer the party-boy who always needed rescuing from his own mistakes—and boy you’ve made some big ones.
But no one needs to know your secrets.
You take a job with the one man who doesn’t trust you.
The man who’s waiting for you to screw up.
You try and forget that one explosive night together.
Except you can’t.
And to your shock...neither can he.
What do you do when the one man you can’t imagine living with is the one you can’t live without?



Free in Kindle Unlimited



“You’re still here?”
Jude stood in his doorway. Mason glanced at the clock, shocked to see it was approaching six thirty.
“I guess I am.” He rubbed his eyes and stretched the kinks from his back. “Damn, I haven’t moved in two hours.”
“I didn’t figure to see you once five o’clock hit.”
Irritated, Mason saved his files and shut his laptop. “Why is that?”
In that annoying manner he had, Jude simultaneously rolled his eyes and raised a shoulder as if he hadn’t a care in the world. “I’s summer, and you’re not used to working in an office.”
“So once again, you’re thinking the worst of me.” Growing hot, Mason pushed away from the desk and stood, glaring at Jude. “I thought after I showed you all the work I did today, you’d get off my case. I had my meeting with Pryce, sat through the afternoon conferences until three, and have been working here since then.”
“Off your case?” Jude snorted. “You think I’ve been hard on you? That’s priceless.”
“I didn’t say you were hard on me. I said I was doing my work and you still give me shit. Now I’m going home, unless you have something else for me to do?”
In a perverse way, Mason wished Jude would ask him to stay. He had little desire to pick up dinner and go to his parents’ place. Whoever said you can’t go home again was right, and he made a mental note to get his ass in gear and set up some appointments to look at apartments.
“Nope. Nothing else. I’m leaving too.”
That earlier conversation he’d listened in on popped into his head. “Got a hot date?”
Jude shot him a quelling look, one Mason knew would make any other of Jude’s associates quake in their loafers, but Mason had been on the receiving end of worse from Jude.
“No,” Jude snapped at him. “I’ll see you tomorrow.” He walked away without another word, and Mason shook his head.
“Jerk,” he muttered to himself, packed up his stuff, and hurried after Jude, who walked with his usual strong, lengthy stride through the empty office.
They rode the elevator together, and he followed Jude down the block. When they reached the corner, Jude stopped abruptly, making Mason almost run into him.
They stood so close, Mason noticed little fiery specks of gold in Jude’s velvety brown eyes. His breath caught, and Jude’s gazed sharpened into something hard. Dark.
Mason licked his lips, and Jude followed the movement with his eyes. Watching the quick rise and fall of Jude’s chest, Mason reached out, his fingertips skimming Jude’s face. Pleasure washed over him as he grazed the man’s sharp jawline. He wanted Jude, and judging by the flush rising on Jude’s face and his glittering eyes, Jude wanted him as well.
And then his hand touched air.


Felice Stevens has always been a romantic at heart. She believes that while life is tough, there is always a happy ending around the corner, Her characters have to work for it, however. Like life in NYC, nothing comes easy and that includes love. 

She lives in New York City and has way too much black in her wardrobe yet can't stop buying "just one more pair" of black pants. Felice is a happily addicted Bravo and Say Yes to the Dress addict and proud of it. And let's not get started on House Hunters. Her dream day starts out with iced coffee and ends with Prosecco, because...why shouldn't it? You can find her procrastinating on FB in her reader group, Felice's Breakfast Club.


All That Is Solid Melts Into Air by C. Koehler - Release Blitz with Excerpt and Giveaway


Title: All that is Solid Melts into Air

Series: The Lives of Remy and Michael, Book Two

Author: C. Koehler

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/22/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 107500

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, romance, new adult, family-drama, gay, sports, college, rowing team, HIV positive

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Remy thinks life after high school will be easier. He’ll go to California Pacific for a year while he gets a handle on his HIV, then after Michael graduates from high school, they’ll blast out of there for colleges—and life—on the East Coast. Then Remy visits Boston and everything changes. He realizes he likes CalPac. Turns out, Boston doesn’t have anything for him beyond one of the biggest regattas in North America.

Life grows more complicated when he gets home. He can’t find a way to tell Michael that he’s just blown their plan for their lives out of the water. Then Remy’s CalPac coaches drop a bomb on him. Those rowing officials who have been watching him? They are recruiters for the national team, and his coaches want him to try out. They’ll even let Lodestone coach him. Now he has to choose, school or crew, CalPac or Michael, and he still hasn’t told Michael he can’t transfer. Is there even a place for Michael in his life? Somehow they have to withstand training at the highest levels and having different goals. Will love hold them together…or tear them apart?


All that is Solid Melts into Air
C. Koehler © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One

So far, I’d made it halfway through the first semester of my freshman year at California Pacific, and you know? I had to admit that it didn’t suck. I know, I know, that was a bizarro thing to say about one’s choice of school, but there’s something you had to remember. CalPac was most assuredly not my choice of school. I made some very…I’ll call them colorful…choices the summer before my senior year of high school, and the gods of indiscriminate love rewarded me with HIV. It almost killed me—mostly because I neither told anyone but my brother and my boyfriend, nor did I seek medical care—but my parents made a decision I resented at the time: rather than sending me across the country to Boston University, as I wanted, they spoke to the men’s crew coach at CalPac. Between their persuasion and some fast talking from my high school coach, the ever-awesome Peter Lodestone, I wound up going to the local private university in the Sacramento area with a full-ride scholarship so long as I stayed brilliant in the boats. Mom and Dad’s idea was that I spend my first year in college at CalPac as I learned to quote, unquote manage my condition, and at the end of that we’d discuss transferring.

I flipped out when they dropped this bomb on me, and I dropped an R-bomb on them in return. R-bombs. That’s what Michael affectionately called my rages. They’re like daisy cutter cluster bombs but involved words and caused a lot more damage. All my plans—all our plans, as Michael and I had our future worked out—gone, just like that. But my parents knew me well, surprisingly enough, or at least knew my temper, and to take the sting out of it, they made a contract with me: in return for my cooperation, they gave me a notarized promise that at the end of my freshman year I could transfer to the school of my choice. Or maybe the school of my choice that chose me back might be a better way to phrase it. At the time I felt so sure of my future. Row my seat, keep my grades up at CalPac while I applied to BU, and bide my time while Michael finished high school. As soon as he graduated, I’d transfer so fast people behind me would get pneumonia from the wind in my wake. Michael and I would stay on the same schedule on the East Coast. That was the Plan. I’d worry about NCAA eligibility later.

Oh, and then there was my father’s edict that despite the fact they lived across the Yolo Causeway from CalPac, I would live in the dorms. That went over well.

“You’ve got to make the break, Remy,” my dad had said.

As I recall, I made a face. “Dad, no. I’ll be what, fifteen miles from home? How much of a break could I possibly make?”

“Trust me.” Dad snorted. I remembered that clearly. “Once you’re there you’ll realize we might as well be on the moon. It’ll seem like a world away, and one more thing—you can come home maybe once in a while, but under no circumstances will your mother and I allow you to come every weekend.”

“What? Why not?” I think I whined.

Then Mom jumped in. “That seems a bit harsh, Steven.”

“He’ll never make the transition to any kind of independence if he does, Dina. He’ll be more likely to drop out, and he’s too good a student to allow that. I can show you the research if you want.”

“There’s research?” Mom had sounded surprised, and I didn’t blame her. Dad could be autocratic sometimes.

I still saw Dad nodding. “You bet there is, hon. This isn’t me being arbitrary, for once.”

“Then I agree,” Mom had pronounced before turning to me. “We want you to stay close to home to make sure you learn what you need to know about your HIV from Dr. Kravitz, not to create a state of permanent dependency.”

So, there I was at CalPac and living in the dorms. There was one thing I was absolutely unprepared for when I agreed to all of this with my parents.

I loved CalPac.

No matter how much I held myself back, no matter how hard I tried to cultivate a “just passing through” attitude, no matter how hard I tried to remember that Michael and I dreamed of life together on the East Coast, I grew more and more attached to this small private school among the leafy greenness of Sacramento. That proved to be a major roadblock to my plans for escape, to the Plan. The campus was beautiful. Unlike some local schools I could name, the buildings at CalPac didn’t look like poured-concrete monstrosities or cheap interpretations of New England campus Gothic. CalPac’s campus was a place all its own, its architecture unique, suited to its environment, like the building committee actually listened to the school’s Architecture and Design Department instead of whatever was trendy when new buildings were approved. The result was a campus at peace with its host city and the surrounding geography. Okay, some of it stuck out. The Art Department owed a little too much to DalĂ­ and whatever came after postmodernism, and the History Department looked like a Renaissance palace in the Florentine style, only smaller. The scale was all wrong, and it made me giggle every time I walked by. But mostly everything worked.

I hit my second roadblock not long after I moved into the dorms, only I didn’t know it. More of my obliviousness to everything that didn’t involve rowing shells and oars, I guess. This was hardly a revelation. Michael and Goff both had teased me about that for years, telling me I needed a keeper. I’d been counting on Michael fulfilling that role. I knew I would always find my way to the boathouse—whatever boathouse I was currently rowing out of—but the rest? I needed firm guidance, and how lucky was I that Michael liked to provide firm guidance? My pants always got a little uncomfortable when I thought about Michael and his firm guidance too much.

Anyway, my plan to bail when Michael finished high school also meant I at first held myself aloof from collegiate life, so maybe that’s why I missed all the signs that my roommate at the very least thought I was an asshole and more likely hated me. I promised myself I’d get my head out of the clouds one of these years. But the air was so much fresher up there…

I thought we had had a decent roommate-type relationship, although I had no real grounds for comparison other than what Goff, as I called my twin brother, Geoff, and his girlfriend, Laurel, told me. Okay, Laurel lucked out with her roommate. A month into the fall quarter at UC San Diego and, according to Laurel, she and Olive were as close as sisters. Goff and his roommate were taking longer to warm up, but that’s because Goff was pretty sure Craig was gay but hadn’t admitted it to himself, let alone to Goff. Goff knew that once Craig came out it would all be fine. I tried to caution Goff not to push the issue, but he brushed me off. After all, what did I know, I was only gay. I was sure Craig would be subject to all manner of “my brother and his boyfriend” stories in the coming months. The thought of meeting this guy made me cringe.

Anyway, Brady Watts and I might not have hit it off like Laurel and Olive, but we were at least cordial. Or so I thought until one afternoon. Brady and I waited outside a classroom in the Life Sciences building for our fresher seminar to start. CalPac trotted all freshpeople—yes, it’s that liberal and averse to gendered language—through a series of half-semester seminars. They were part breadth requirement and part help choosing a major and included the social sciences (boooring), life sciences, physical sciences, and humanities. CalPac was a semester school, so we started our fall semester in early August and ran sixteen weeks until the middle of December. We had barely started our second eight-week seminar, life sciences, obvs. I already knew the life sciences were for me.

So anyway, a bunch of us were waiting for class to start, and I wasn’t the only one with earbuds in, listening to my jam. I was, apparently, the only one not blasting said jams.

I heard someone say, “Stuck-up asshole.”

That someone was Brady.

Ouch. I tried not to let it show. I clenched my jaw, instead.

Then I got angry.

It was not as if he and I never spoke. We both spent time in our room. He knew why I got up stupid early in the morning and why I went to the gym every afternoon. He knew where I was from, just as I knew he hailed from LA, hated Sacramento, and wasn’t adapting well to college. He knew I had a twin brother whom I missed terribly, and I knew he had a little sister who had died young from an anaphylactic reaction to antibiotics. The only thing I hadn’t told him was my serostatus. If I ever cut myself and bled everywhere, then I’d tell him that too. What more did he want from me?

I shoved all of this aside. I had a class. I’d deal with my roommate later. Thank God I was a master of compartmentalization.

Later that evening, after I’d returned from weightlifting and seeing Michael, I faced Brady. It’s not like I had a choice. He glowered at me when I came back to our room.

Seriously, he looked up from his reading when I walked in. Then he went right back to his studying with the most dismissive glance ever. Not even Michael looked at me like that when we were on the outs before my senior year of high school. If looks could kill…

Of course, back then Michael had ignored me too studiously for it to count. Me, I’d shoved things into tidy little boxes in preparation for my first Youth Nationals.

I noted with a certain humor Brady was cramming for the next life sciences quiz. I barely cracked the book. I didn’t have to. I was acing the class. Like I’d told Mom once, Davis High had prepared me well for college.

After dealing with a duffel bag full of smelly gym clothes, I checked the dry-erase board to make sure everything on it was out-of-date. For reasons of its own, the housing office thought each room needed such an accessory. Personally, I didn’t care why our room had a dry-erase board. I merely welcomed a canvas on which to make my point. I pulled up a handy meme I’d saved on my phone to refer to and started drawing. After a few minutes, I felt Brady’s eyes on me. Mission accomplished.

Then I kicked off my shoes and sat down on my bed.

“What’s that?”

I smirked, looking up at the picture of a donkey stuck in a hole in the ground. “It’s an asshole.”

“A what?” Brady acted like he didn’t know what I was talking about, but really? An ass in a hole? C’mon, buddy.

This wasn’t my first time around the block. When I wanted to make a point, I made it stick. “I’m not an asshole…you asshole.”

Brady flushed. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Yes, you do. I heard you before fresher biology seminar today.”

I met his eyes and then stared, unflinching, unblinking. I’d faced my own mortality. A snippy college freshman didn’t compare.

Brady started shaking and breathing heavily, only glaring at me harder. “Do you have any idea how hard it is for me to live with you?”

“Uh…no?” I wasn’t expecting that. I’d thought I was pretty easy to get along with. I kept my things on my side of the room. I was quiet and clean. What else could anyone ask for in a roommate?

“You never talk to me. Did you know that? We have no late-night dorm room bull sessions. We don’t go out for beers, we don’t get high together, you’re an asshole,” Brady continued.

I rolled my eyes. It’s a bad habit of mine, one I’ve never succeeded in breaking. “You do know I’m here on an athletic scholarship, right? We’re both underage, so don’t even talk to me about alcohol, and smoking of any kind—really? World-class rowers have the highest VO2 max of any athlete, and before you trip out at the thought of having to look something up and accidentally learn something, two things. One, putting it crudely, VO2 max is the measure of how much oxygen an athlete can extract from a lungful of air, and two, I really do have a shot of being that good. So yes, I’m that much of a straight edge, and no, we’re not going to bond doing any of that shit.” There went that eye roll again. “As for late-night bull sessions, we’d actually have to be friends for that, and calling me an asshole in public isn’t likely to bring that about in a hurry either.”

“Can you even hear yourself?” Brady’s voice rose. “You’re so patronizing. It’s…it’s like you’re not even human or something. You’re this unstoppable machine who marches out and gets what he wants.”

I sighed. “It’s called having goals. You should try it.”

“You are such a…such an asshole!”

This grew more tiresome by the minute, only now I was losing my temper. “You’ve said that already.”

By this time, he’d jumped up from his desk to confront me. We both realized at the same time exactly how much shorter he was. If he decided to take a swing at me, it’d be the shortest confrontation in the history of everything. Seriously, I had seven inches on him.

He looked up at me, hopefully reconsidering his plans for the immediate future. “I’m failing our biology seminar, and…and you never talk to me, and you’re gorgeous, and you don’t even look at me, and you’re probably some kind of fundamentalist creep who’s about to pound me.”

I stared at him. “I…what?”

Brady pointed at my neckband. It was a tight-fitting leather collar given to me by Michael, studded with metal. Hanging from it was a metal plus sign, plus for poz. A cross was the last thing it was, if only because I was pretty sure Mom’s parents were born Jewish. Since she was never bat mitzvahed, we’d lapsed hard. “You’re really, really wrong. My boyfriend lives in Davis. You’ve met him, so what the hell are you talking about?”

“That figures.” Brady slammed his hand into the wall.

I laughed. I couldn’t help it. “Dude…you don’t know the half of me. If you did, you’d never say those things.” Brady exploded again and moved to storm out of the room, but I was lightning fast. I grabbed his arm. “Don’t go, not if you’re serious about help or getting to know each other.”

“And whose fault is not knowing each other? You bailed on those roommate mixers.” Brady jerked his arm out of my hand, but at least he stopped reaching for the door.

I sighed. “Those things are terminally stupid, and you know it. You never would’ve learned the things you seem to want to know at those. I actually think you’re a nice guy. Or did. So, you’re failing biology seminar. Did it ever occur to you to ask for help? Because I’ll be honest—I haven’t heard a thing out of you.”

He didn’t say anything at first. Then, “No.”

“Did you go to the tutoring center or talk to the prof?”

More silence.

“Riiight.” I rolled my eyes again. “Let’s look at your quizzes. I’ll see if I can help, because there’s another quiz coming up, you know.”

So little Brady was gay. I hadn’t noticed any signs, but then again, he wasn’t made of carbon fiber and was therefore unrowable. I told him nothing else about my life, my condition, or anything else of substance, certainly nothing about Michael. After tonight he was on a need-to-know basis. Brady would have to earn his way in.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Christopher Koehler always wanted to write, but it wasn’t until his grad school years that he realized writing was how he wanted to spend his life. Long something of a hothouse flower, he’s been lucky to be surrounded by people who encouraged that, especially his long-suffering husband of twenty-nine years and counting.

He loves many genres of fiction and nonfiction, but he’s especially fond of romances, because it’s in them that human emotions and relations, at least most of the ones fit to be discussed publicly, are laid bare.

While writing is his passion and his life, when he’s not doing that, he’s a househusband, at-home dad, and oarsman with a slightly disturbing interest in manners and the other ways people behave badly.

Christopher is approaching the tenth anniversary of publication and has been fortunate to be recognized for his writing, including by the American Library Association, which named Poz a 2016 Recommended Title, and an Honorable Mention for “Transformation,” in Innovation, Volume 6 of Queer Sci Fi’s Flash Fiction Anthology.

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Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Dawn's Light by Shannon Blair - Release Blitz with Excerpt and Giveaway


Title: Dawn's Light

Series: Duskblade, Book One

Author: Shannon Blair

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: 02/22/2021

Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 86300

Genre: Fantasy, LGBTQIA+, Royalty, first time, sexual discovery, elves, goblins, duplicity, mercenaries, kidnapping, revenge, action/adventure, coming out, enemies to lovers, in the closet, slow burn, road trip

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Moranthus is an elf who has lost everything. With his lover dead and his career stagnating, he jumps at a chance to redeem himself by rescuing a human prince from the goblins hunting him—even if failure means death or eternal exile from his homeland.

Gerrick, a human soldier who bears an uncanny resemblance to his prince, has always chosen duty over desire. As the sole parent of his young daughter, he needs the extra coin that working as the prince’s body double provides—even if it may one day cost him his life.

When a case of mistaken identity puts the prince in the hands of a goblin raiding party, Moranthus’s and Gerrick’s paths collide. With winter closing in and miles of hostile goblin lands ahead, they must set aside their differences and work together to bring the prince home safely.

Their deepening connection comes with a growing certainty that rescuing the prince may be fatal. Moranthus and Gerrick must each find a way to reconcile his heart’s desires with his homeland’s needs—or die trying.


Dawn’s Light
Shannon Blair © 2021
All Rights Reserved

Moranthus had spent the better part of a fortnight chasing his quarry along the Dawn’s Gate edge of the Ghostwood. His meager diet of chalky waybread and oversalted jerky did little more than take the edge off his hunger, and spending weeks on horseback had left him beyond saddle sore. His days blurred together like the colors of the glowstone he kept cradled in the center of his palm. Though it was his only reliable guide at the questionably mapped edges of this unfamiliar country, the strain of determining where each of its shades faded into the next, counting off one less mile between him and his ever-moving destination, left him with a near-constant headache.

The wide, hilly landscape around him certainly didn’t offer much else to guide him on the rare occasions he glanced at it to ensure he hadn’t strayed too far from the Ghostwood’s edge in his search. Dawn’s Gate’s northern plains didn’t look so different from the southern steppes of Moonridge, his homeland, but in the absence of the bone-chilling winds that screamed across Moonridge’s southern steppes, the still air around him felt foul and stagnant, as though a dozen people had breathed it before him and sucked all the life from it.

But Moranthus wouldn’t have traded any of it for the world. This was the first real hunt he’d seen in over a decade, after he’d made a pariah of himself by getting caught on the losing side of the coup that had killed his Patriarch and set his Patriarch’s illegitimate daughter on Moonridge’s throne. A few minor discomforts were nothing to complain about.

Even the solitude came as a welcome change after finding himself at the center of attention in every human village he passed through. The adults gave him veiled stares and treated him with just enough politeness to make him feel unwelcome. Their children’s endless questions over what had made his ears so long and pointy and whether he’d gotten his purple skin from frostbite, of all things, made him feel like one of the framed butterflies his Patriarch had kept in his study. Moranthus wondered if they treated all elves that way. Or if they knew the shaved sides of his head marked his probationary status in Moonridge and didn’t want him trying to find a place for himself in their community. Not that anyone in Moonridge had treated him much better lately.


Just over two months earlier, he’d lounged on the narrow, rickety bed pressed against the left wall of his rented room, happy to be home after the latest in a series of jobs only marginally more interesting than watching snow melt. Beside him, his amethyst cameo of his former Patriarch sat in its usual place near his pillow. Moranthus absently rubbed the carved likeness of his Patriarch with his thumb, missing the days when his work left him feeling fulfilled instead of frustrated. In his service, Moranthus had spent his days tracking down fugitives, missing persons, and lost or stolen valuable objects.

His Matriarch’s latest orders had gotten his hopes up by sending him in search of a messenger who had vanished en route to his destination while carrying sensitive correspondence. But when Moranthus found the messenger’s belongings and gnawed bones strewn about an abandoned wolf den, the “sensitive correspondence” in question turned out to be nothing more than a dinner invitation to the head of a minor noble household. Moranthus had been reduced to a glorified follow-up letter.

The room’s low ceiling and windowless walls made him wonder if it had been part of an attic before its conversion into a living space. The cramped space around him—occupied by a table and single chair pressed against its right wall in addition to the bed and chest of drawers that lined its left—felt comfortable enough compared to the inns he stayed in on the road. After ten years, he hardly noticed the draft his poorly sealed walls let in. The fire he kept blazing in the small fireplace against his back wall kept the worst of the cold out anyway.

The smell of blood from the butcher’s shop beneath him wafted through the gaps between his thin floorboards, mingling in a not entirely unpleasant manner with the crisp, sweet taste of the bowlful of plums he’d made into his evening meal. As he finished each plum, he tossed its pit across the room, where it bounced off his doorknob with a sharp ping before clattering along his floor. It made a completely unreasonable amount of noise, really. But that was the point.

He’d done it as his latest mild act of revenge against the butcher downstairs, who had woken well before dawn that morning for what seemed to be the sole purpose of loudly and thoroughly fucking his wife. For the past several years, the butcher had made a point of waking Moranthus that way every morning after Moranthus returned from a mission and wanted nothing more than a good, long sleep.

Moranthus still hadn’t decided whether the butcher did it as a backhanded reminder that Moranthus wasn’t getting any, or as a bizarre way of marking his territory. More than once, he’d considered pulling the butcher aside and explaining that, if he had any intention of running off with a member of the butcher’s household—which he did not—he would’ve been far more interested in the charming young fellow the butcher had recently brought in as an apprentice. If the charming apprentice in question hadn’t already taken up with the butcher’s wife, anyway. But pointing out that the butcher had an attractive apprentice and an unfaithful wife would probably get him banned from the butcher’s shop, and he didn’t want to go to the trouble of finding another reputable place to buy meat in the lower district of Aurora, Moonridge’s capital. Or a new landlord, for that matter.

The first knock at his door caught Moranthus off guard. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d had a visitor. He’d halfway decided to dismiss it as a trick of the wind, or a child throwing rocks as an ill-advised form of amusement, when a second knock echoed through his room, followed by several more in rapid succession.

Moranthus slid off his bed and retrieved the dagger he kept beneath his pillow before padding, barefoot, across the floorboards between him and the door, careful to avoid the ones that creaked. No one who’d come to his door unannounced was likely to have anything pleasant in store for him. Not anymore.

He opened his door to find one of his Matriarch’s messengers standing outside, an official-looking satchel in his arms. In that moment, Moranthus wanted nothing more than to tell the bastard that his next set of orders could wait until he asked for them and slam his door shut again.

Instead, he sighed and asked, “What do you want?”

“I am looking for Moranthus. I’ve come to the wrong place, I take it?” The messenger frowned as he cast a disdainful glance over Moranthus. His eyes lingered on the shaved sides of Moranthus’s head and the thick stripe of red hair—the only thing separating him from a clean-shaven full exile—that ran down its center, woven into a disheveled, three-strand commoner’s braid. Outside of Aurora’s upper district, Moranthus rarely bothered with the elaborate, seven-strand affair that marked him as a veteran duskblade. In Lower Aurora, it only served as a marker of how far he’d fallen.

“Not at all. You’ve already found him, in fact.” Moranthus flipped his dagger so its blade rested in his palm and presented its pommel—engraved with a stylized snowhawk, the duskblade insignia—to the messenger for inspection.

The messenger’s face snapped into a toothy smile, oozing false cheer as he presented the satchel to Moranthus. “Excellent. I come bearing orders from our most esteemed Matriarch,” he said, each syllable accompanied by a tap of his well-fitted, overembroidered right boot. The steep, narrow streets that wound their way through Lower Aurora—slick with mud and whatever other refuse trickled down from the upper city—had left it and its twin covered in a layer of filth that would never quite wash off. It served him right for wearing that sort of footwear on the job.

He was a mousy little thing, with pale, watery eyes set in a bland, but well-proportioned face, his ears perfectly pointed and skin a flawless shade of dusky lilac. Probably hadn’t set foot outside Upper Aurora before their Matriarch had sent him on this delivery, no doubt as a punishment of some sort. Moranthus would’ve much preferred the sight of the butcher, his face flushed ruddy-violet from exertion and his blood-stained apron draped over his ever-growing paunch. At least he’d earned his place in the world.

“So I noticed.” Moranthus made no move to accept the satchel.

The messenger blinked at him, brow furrowed in an almost comical display of confusion. “Would you like to invite me in then? I’d prefer to conclude my business here as soon as possible.”

“Not particularly, but I take it I don’t have much choice in the matter.”

“You don’t. There are certain…details our Matriarch insisted I explain to you in person. To prevent any misunderstandings.”

Moranthus opened his door wide and gestured for the messenger to step through. “Let’s get this over with.” Before he lost his temper at being forced to offer hospitality to a highborn busybody, who’d no doubt leave grimy footprints all over his floor.

The messenger made himself comfortable in Moranthus’s chair, his hands folded over the satchel on his lap. Well aware the messenger expected him to remain standing as a way of acknowledging that the messenger acted as an extension of their Matriarch’s will, Moranthus seated himself on his bed and leaned back against the wall behind him. The frustrated glare it earned him made him confident he’d chosen the right course of action.

“So, what’s this all about?” Moranthus gave the messenger the most ingenuous smile he could manage. Best not to press his luck too far.

The messenger took a deep breath, pinching the bridge of his nose as though he meant to fend off a headache. “Our Matriarch has, for reasons far beyond the comprehension of one such as myself, chosen to entrust you with a highly sensitive mission of the utmost urgency. I would advise against treating it with the same flippancy you have shown me thus far.”

Moranthus sat up straight, eyeing the satchel with a sense of curiosity he hadn’t felt in years. “Is that why she was so adamant about you explaining my orders to me?” When they’d last spoken, their Matriarch had told him in no uncertain terms that he should consider himself lucky she’d spared even his life after he’d chosen his master so poorly. She’d then evicted him from his hard-won room in Aurora’s palace and made a point of restricting him to assignments well below his rank, most of which took him as far away from Aurora as possible. Putting this sort of trust in him wasn’t like her. “Because that won’t be necessary. I’m sure our Matriarch has told you all sorts of wild stories about me—most of which, in her defense, are probably true—but I assure you, I am perfectly capable of reading and understanding whatever’s in that satchel of yours.”

“The orders themselves aren’t what she asked me to explain,” the messenger replied. “In fact, I couldn’t explain them if I wanted to. Our Matriarch felt that sharing the exact nature of your orders with me would compromise their security. They should be self-explanatory once you’ve taken the time to read over them.”

“So, if I can’t ask you anything about my orders, what did our Matriarch want you to explain to me?”

“That a great deal depends upon your success in this matter, and that you may find yourself in a more…favorable position upon your return so long as you do not disappoint her. She also instructed me to give you this, to be used in the unfortunate event of your failure.” The messenger retrieved a razor from a pouch on his belt and tossed it onto the bed beside Moranthus. Even tucked inside its wooden handle, its steel blade had a cold, sobering shine. “Does it clarify the gravity of the task that lies before you?”

Using only his fingertips, Moranthus picked up the razor, casting a wary eye over the ceremonial carvings that adorned its handle. So, that was his Matriarch’s game. Either he returned home with news of his success, or he faced the grim choice he’d so narrowly avoided ten years ago: death or exile. Whichever he chose, the razor’s edge would suit his needs. “That it does. I suppose I’d best get to work,” he said. His voice sounded hollow, like a distant echo carried on the wind.

“Indeed, you should. Sooner, rather than later, if you’ve any sense left in that space between your ears.” The messenger got to his feet and placed the satchel on Moranthus’s table. “This contains your orders, as well as everything you’ll require to carry them out. I wish you the best of luck. You’re going to need it.” With that, the messenger let himself out of Moranthus’s room, leaving the door open behind him.

The autumn air it let in felt warm compared to the ice in Moranthus’s veins.


NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Shannon Blair is a fantasy author with a fondness for elves, goblins, and general otherworldly goodness. Their love of fiction and storytelling drove them to pursue an MFA in Creative Writing from Regis University, where a short writing exercise spiraled out of control and eventually became their first novel. When they aren’t on a quest to make the fantasy genre a more LGBTQA-friendly place, Shannon can be found inventing whimsical backstories for the colorful crafts and vendors at the craft market where they work. They live on the outskirts of the Denver metroplex with their partner and two spoiled rotten cats.

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