New Release from Elizabeth Noble: Ringed Love

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Please welcome Elizabeth Noble as she shares with us about the final installment in the Sentries series: Ringed Love!

Hello and thank you, Sarah, for hosting me today. The first chapter of Ringed Love is posted on Dreamspinner Press, so over the next two weeks I’ll be offering the first one hundred or so words of each subsequent chapter.

Today’s excerpt is from chapter 8

Excerpt

Todd juggled two shopping baskets and elbowed Nick in the side. “Grab a newspaper, will you? And see if we have any mail.”

“I can carry—” Nick held out his good hand. His other one was wrapped in bandages from wrist to shoulder and in a sling. Dark bruises splattered his skin where the top few buttons of his shirt were left open. There was a long bruise snaking up the side of his neck that stopped just under his jaw.

Todd glared. Nick backed down with a frustrated sigh. “Don’t make those huffy noises at me!” Todd snapped. “All the crap we’ve gone through in the last five years, and you almost get taken out by a ticked-off bull calf.”

Blurb

New Colorado Protectorate fell with the assassination of Chancellor Clarke. Like many others, Todd and Nick Ruger left the land of their birth and made a home to the north in Yellowknife. Their world was ever changing. The time came to say a sad farewell to some of their friends and loved ones, but they were taken in with open arms by others and in turn offered shelter to yet more. Through the years they remained steadfast in their duty as sentries to protect and defend those that needed it the most.

Time marches on but through it all they hold each other dear and cherish the love they’ve shared. There are still angry ghosts, Windigos and water spirits to contend with. Their lives change, offering them new roles. When the time comes, they do what sentries have done for generations prior and teach others the skills to carry on as sentries. The Rugers lives were rich and their hearts full with their devotion and love for each other. The tradition of the sentries lived on forever. It was the legacy of Todd and Nick Ruger. That was the way it was always meant to be.

nerw logo EN 61915 copyresizedBio

Elizabeth Noble started telling stories before she actually knew how to write, and her family was very happy when she learned to put words on a page. Those words turned into books and fanfiction that turned into a genuine love of M/M romance fiction.

Being able to share her works with Dreamspinner is really a dream come true. She has a real love for a good mystery complete with murder and twisty plots as well as all things sci-fi, futuristic, and supernatural and a bit of an unnatural interest in a super-volcano in Wyoming.

Elizabeth has three grown children and is now happily owned by an adorable mixed breed canine princess and her sidekick, tabby cat.  She lives in her native northeast Ohio, the perfect place for gardening and winter and summer sports (go Tribe and Cavs!) and stargazing all year long. When she’s not writing she’s working as a veterinary nurse, so don’t be surprised to see her men with a pet or three who are a very big part of their lives.

Elizabeth received several amateur writing awards. Since being published two of her novels have received honorable mentions in the Rainbow Awards. Her novel Jewel Cave was a runner up in the 2015 Rainbow awards in the Gay Mystery/Thriller category.

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Tour Stops

May 16 Kris Bethke

May 17 Susan Laine

May 18 Meg Harding

May 19 Jamie Lynn Miller

May 20 Charlie Descoteaux

May 23 Grace R. Duncan

May 24 Sarah Madison

May 25 Rick R. Reed

May 26 Skylar M. Cates

May 27 Lou Sylvre

May 30 Ki Brightly

May 31 Shira Anthony

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Dreamer’s Destiny: New Release by Tempeste O’Riley, excerpt & giveaway!

(click HERE to find the full tour listing)

Welcome to the Dreamers’ Destiny Blog Tour. I want to begin with special thanks to Dreamspinner Press Blog for welcoming me today. I hope you’ll follow the entire tour. There are plenty of chances to win a signed paperback copy from my backlist, $25 at Dreamspinner Press, an audiobook of either Designs of Desire or Caged Sanctuary, and more!

Each tour stop will feature an excerpt along with some question that relates to the post. Check the Rafflecopter at the end of the post to enter your answer to the question. A few stops will have special (additional) giveaways as well, so make sure you check out the whole post!

Now, let’s see what I have for you today….


Which comes first: the story, the characters, or the setting?

For each author it’s different. For each story it’s different. For me, it’s usually the character that comes first. Yes, not the characters, but the character. I usually have one that comes and pokes me until I begin writing about him, then I meet his to-be-partner and boom, find the story—though sometimes the story is a little harder for me to figure out. They don’t always tell me upfront what’s going on. That was true in Whiskers of a Chance.

However, in Dreamers’ Destiny I was challenged to write a story that was pagan based, that might skirt into paranormal but that wasn’t full on PNR (Not Potter-esque was how he worded it, lol). I worked on the basic idea of what I wanted to write about, deciding on dream walking. Then I met Liam and Cam when the first seen in the book happened, lol. If you read it (Chapter 1 is available on Dreamspinner Press free) you will see that everything kind of happened all at the same time past that point, lol. I met my guys, it was obviously contemporary, and well, Liam was the dreamer.

Still, it’s always fun for me to see which comes first to me, the idea for the story or the guys that will be the leads in the next book. The setting is always dependant on the first two, so that’s never a first for me 😉 Happy reading!

People don’t just materialize into reality simply because you want them to so desperately that waking up breaks your heart.

Dreamers’ Destiny

by Tempeste O’Riley

M/M Erotic Contemporary, Occult/Paranormal, Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Release Date: May 13, 2016 (ebook/print)

Length: Novel / 200 pages

Order:

Dreamspinner Press All Romance Amazon

Add to: Goodreads

Description:

Liam Grady is the owner of the Feathered Quill, a quirky little bookstore in Asheville, and—though he doesn’t realize it yet—a dream walker. His last relationship failed almost a year ago, and he’s not had the interest or nerve to pursue anyone he’s met since.

Cameron Danu is a tattoo artist from rural Georgia. Cameron is left without a job after his boss, Jose, is forced to close the shop after a heart attack. When Cameron learns Jose has set up an interview for him at a small tattoo parlor in Asheville, he hopes for a fresh start in a new town.

Fate brings Cameron and Liam together, and they realize they’ve met before—in their dreams. A chance encounter and a winged tattoo might lead them to their destiny—if fear doesn’t turn their dreams into a nightmare.

Excerpt: Liam walked beside Cam, noting every nuance of the man he’d been with most of his life, even if they’d never met while awake before. He was entranced with how Cam moved. He thought of the way Cam had spoken using his hands to emphasize and punctuate his voice when they were inside the tattoo shop, and even the little sidestep to separate them didn’t surprise or bother Liam any. Liam had expected it, truthfully, but he’d needed to feel Cam, to know he wasn’t imagining all this, either—that fleeting touch in the tattoo shop hadn’t been nearly enough.

Working with Nosha the last couple of weeks had been interesting, and he’d started to believe Cam might be real. However, seeing and touching Cam was very different from trying to willfully take control of his dreams or debating Cameron’s possible existence. And touching him? Liam suppressed a shiver as he opened the door for Cam to enter the little coffee shop.

“Thanks,” Cam murmured. “You always do things like this in the dreams too,” he added so softly Liam almost missed it.

Liam smiled, hoping Cam could adjust to this new knowledge and glad he’d noticed how Liam acted both in their dreams and now.

Thankfully, it wasn’t busy right then, so they got their coffees and were seated at the farthest table from the other patrons in a few minutes. Liam waited, watching Cam as he fidgeted with his cup, steadfastly refusing to meet Liam’s eyes.

Liam cleared his throat and asked, “Will you look at me, please?”

Cam raised his head slowly before finally meeting his gaze. “I don’t understand how you’re here. You’re supposed to only exist in my head. Well, in my dreams, anyway.”

Liam chuckled, thinking of how he’d made the same argument with Di and Nosha not that long ago about his seeing Cam at the club. “I’m still not entirely certain how all this works, but I’m quite real. As are you, it seems.”

The silver eyes before him flashed a moment before Cam snorted softly, then smiled, almost. “Why don’t you seem more, I don’t know, upset? I mean, this should be just as much of a shock for you as it is for me. Or do you go around invading people’s dreams and doing all those things with others you do with me all the time?”

He blinked hard as he thought about what to say and which questions to even answer.

Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Other Works by Author:

Designs of DesireSimple Desires*+ – Bound by Desire* – Desires’ GuardianTemptations of DesireTruth in Lace* – Desires’ Pride* – Signs of Desire

Micah’s Medicine+ – Caged SanctuaryWhiskers of a Chance

*shorts in series +shorts in anthologies

About the Author:

Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t—defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since.

Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. They has done many things in their life, yet writing has always drawn them back—no matter what else life has thrown their way. They counts her friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life. They lives in Wisconsin with their children, reading, writing, and enjoying life—especially now that they have joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® (as Novice Sister Eroti-Quill… can’t imagine where that name came from).

Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, WisRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Tempe’s preferred pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themselves. To learn more about Tempeste and their writing, visit http://tempesteoriley.com.

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Tempeste’s Temptations

New Release: Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward by Joe Cosentino

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When I first heard about the Cozzi Cov e Beach series, I  was entranced! I’ve asked author Joe Consentino to share a little about what inspired him to write a series of stories about such a diverse group of characters. Welcome, Joe!

The Cozzi Cove Beach Series and Me

COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK and COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD

published by NineStar Press

by Joe Cosentino

 

I was incredibly lucky as a kid to spend my summers at the New Jersey Shore. Far from The Jersey Shore TV series on MTV, my summers with my family were spent in a quaint bungalow between the ocean and the bay. My sister and I swam, made sandcastles, flew kites, played miniature golf, played pirates and Peter Pan (guess who was Peter) at a private cove, ate salt water taffy, jumped up and down on trampolines until we (literally) saw green, dined at our favorite seafood restaurant with a colorful player piano, and watched handsome blond surfers in rubber suits at night.

Having already written a number of series, I enjoy the serial format, where I and the readers get to watch the characters develop and grow. So I decided my next series would be set in a fictitious place I call Cozzi Cove, a gay resort of eight bungalows in a private cove on the Jersey Shore. Each bungalow is based on my aunt and uncle’s where I stayed as a kid, and is furnished with hand-carved nautical furnishings, and also has a stunning view of the bay and lighthouse in the distance. The main beach and boardwalk are only a mile away. It’s a place I love to visit over and over again in my head, and I know you will too.

The bungalows on Cozzi Cove are set on a stretch of cove formed when softer rocks were worn away by the sun and salty water faster than the harder rocks surrounding them. This created a gorgeous bay of turquoise water shielded by large rocks in the distance and smaller rocks near the water’s edge.

My leading character is Cal Cozzi.  Cal, short for Calvin, is thirty years old, tall, and muscular. His Italian and Scottish heritage left him with striking auburn hair, golden skin, and strong features. That’s him on the book covers. He dabbled as a professional football player then restaurant owner, but neither was a good fit. After Cal’s parents died in an automobile accident, he found his calling: managing Cozzi Cove in the New Jersey shore town named after his great-grandfather. Sensing Cal’s sexual orientation as a boy, Cal’s father had turned Cozzi Cove into a gay resort. Cal is honored to follow in his father’s footsteps.

Cal’s husband Lance is twenty-four, short, stocky, African American with dark hair and dark eyes and amazing dimples. He grew up poor, and worked hard getting scholarships and maintaining good grades throughout school. As a second grade teacher, Lance is off during the summers, his favorite time of year. This leaves him more time to do what he loves most: being with Cal.

Connor, the college student assisting Cal, is packed with muscles and hormones. He revels in Cozzi Cove, and in checking out each resident for a possible fling on the cove—which he often enjoys!

Tommy, the bald, muscular, tattooed resident of Cozzi Cove who owns the local bar has held a torch for Cal since high school. Carla Mangione who runs Carla’s Seafood Restaurant holds a similar torch for Cal’s sister.

Cal’s sister, Taylor, drops in from Rome, Paris, Wall Street, or Palm Springs. As a tough as nails top one-percenter, the world revolves around her, which makes her hysterically funny. I also admire her devotion to her brother.

Finally there’s Michael, the college kid who throws a monkey wrench into Cal’s ordered life.

After my An Infatuation novella (Dreamspinner Press), was released, countless readers begged me for more time with one of the characters from An Infatuation (Divine Magazine Readers’ Choice Award 2nd Place for Best MM Romance). So that character and his brother are the first guests in Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (NineStar Press). They are two brothers/college students who look alike, but couldn’t be more different. Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust.

The other vacations in book one are a wealthy older couple, Josh and Greg, who play matchmakers for their gorgeous son Christopher. Opposites attract as player Tim meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. Finally computer game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman. Even Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected for him. Everyone has a secret at Cozzi Cove, and nothing is what it seems at the magical place called Cozzi Cove.

cozzicovebouncingbackcoverresizedAfter Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back released, many readers and reviewers praised its romantic, humorous, dramatic, mysterious style, and interwoven captivating stories. I was thrilled when the readers of the TBR Pile voted it Favorite Book of the Month (March)! Having received numerous requests for another visit to Cozzi Cove, I wrote Cozzi Cove: Moving Froward (NineStar Press). As with the first book, nothing is what it seems in book two, and romance is everywhere.

Also after my novella A Shooting Star (Dreamspinner Press) was released, many readers wanted more time with two of the leading characters, college theatre majors Jonathan and Barry. So two of the guests at Cozzi Cove in book two are loosely based on how Jonathan and Barry might be as middle-aged men. I call them Rodney Maxwell and Dennis O’Halloran, a Tony Award winning actor and his estranged producer/husband at Cozzi Cove with their two hired bodybuilder studs, Jarek and Zeus. Computer analyst, Sam, enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract Sam’s hunky, unsuspecting best friend, Raul. Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, is hoping to experience gay life off the page. Middle aged Gil Van Truren wants to end it all—until he sees a vision of his first love from college. Cal’s new young lover, Michael Rodgers, is an African American college student with exotic eyes and a toned body. After going through tough times, Michael landed at Cal’s doorstep and the two have never looked back. Cal has his hands full, however, with Michael’s study buddy the gorgeous and muscular Carlo, and resident man of mystery George Valis who seems to know a great deal about Cal’s past.

Once again I’m thrilled to report that readers loved their second visit to Cozzi Cove. So I’m writing book three now, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out.

So grab your Speedos, suntan lotion, and shades and head to Cozzi Cove. I hope to see you there again and again!

 

COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK

by JOE COSENTINO from NineStar Press

purchase links:

Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back

http://myBook.to/Cozzi_Cove_BB

https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-cozzicovebouncingback-2001509-149.html

http://www.barnesandnoble.com/s/2940152795226

 

 

On Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey shore, handsome Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are open for summer and love. Mario and Harold are brothers and college students who happen to look alike, but couldn’t be more different: Mario is searching for love, and Harold is searching for lust. Josh and Greg, a wealthy older couple, are matchmakers for their son, Christopher. When it comes to Connor, the maid, packed with muscles and a roving sponge, anything can happen. Opposites attract as wild Tim with the secret past meets shy Mark, and porn star Chuck Caliber connects with Sean, a virgin romance novelist. And what will happen when computer-game designer Arthur has a midnight sea rendezvous with a merman? Even married Cal faces an emotional upheaval when a gay bashing turns into something quite unexpected. What secrets and passions lie in magical Cozzi Cove?

 

Praise for COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK:

 

“I loved this story. It carries you through the full range of emotions, from joy to sadness, from happiness to anger.  The characters are beautifully written.” “I look forward to a return visit to the Cove.” TBR Pile

 

“Heartbreaking and heartwarming, sweet beginnings for some, sour endings for others, emotions jumping off the page as you turn eagerly to read more, welcome to Cozzi Cove. The author measured his scales to perfection in delivering the perfect balance of love, laughter and tears in this sexy, fun filled holiday romance entwined with some sadness. Summer magic waved it’s wand at all who visited and stayed at Cozzi Cove and I was one of those who wanted to stay.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

 

“poignant and full of beautiful imagery. It’s one crazy mix of characters, all weird and wonderful in their own way” “It made me laugh out loud, cry and want to snuggle up with someone I loved. I couldn’t have asked for more.” Divine Magazine

 

“In true Joe Cosentino style, this book is packed full of drama! This cast of characters will have you laughing out loud one minute before ripping your heart out the next.” Joyfully Jay

 

“If you like a lot of angst, some humor, love, sadness (be sure to have a couple of boxes of tissue handy), and some hot sensual man-sex, I highly, highly recommend this book. I loved all of the Joe Cosentino’s books, but I think this is my favorite to date! I am ready for book 2!” Cathy Brockman Romance

 

“Joe Cosentino has the amazing ability to combine heartwarming, feel good moments with droll, sometimes biting humor, along with insights into the frailties and peccadillos of being human.” “Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back is the very finest in literary fiction with a romance theme, yet it’s more than just that—it’s about human connections and empathy and finding a way out of the fear and inertia faced by so many. It’s also about courage and strength, about respect and coming to terms with all that life has to offer, and it’s about letting go. I loved this book and look forward to the next in the series. This is a highly recommended read, well-deserving of Five Stars.” GGR Reviews

 

“Cosentino tells the stories of the guests and owners at Cozzi Cove as separate yet intertwining stories, a delivery style that’s genius. It’s a bit like watching segments unfold in soap opera fashion.” “While the story is rife with the humor and lighthearted romance I’ve come to associate with Joe Cosentino, it also addresses several serious topics associated with the gay community: homophobia, stereotyping and coming out.” 3 Chicks After Dark

 

“The humour is full of double entendres and tongue in cheek wit. I can’t help but grin my way through his novels.” “Beneath the comings and goings and toings and froings and sex and arguments and innuendo are real issues. Coping with the death or illness or betrayal. Learning to love. Hoping. Yearning. Becoming different. Growing. Accepting.” “This author has yet to disappoint me with his stories.” “For me it’s love all the way.” Boy Meets Boy Reviews

 

“There were parts that were hilarious, parts that were serious, parts that were happy and parts that were sad. Regardless of the emotion that the character was portraying at that moment, I was able to feel it myself.” “an amazing book.” “I also truly loved the storyline.” Inked Rainbow Reads

 

resizedAmazon Bestselling author Joe Cosentino wrote Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back (NineStar Press), Drama Queen and Drama Muscle Nicky and Noah mysteries (Lethe Press), An Infatuation, A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland (Dreamspinner Press), Paper Doll and Porcelain Doll (Wild Rose Press) Jana Lane mysteries, and The Nutcracker and the Mouse King (Eldridge Plays and Musicals). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. His one-act plays, Infatuation and Neighbor, were performed in New York City. He wrote The Perils of Pauline educational film (Prentice Hall Publishers). Joe is currently Head of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. His upcoming novels are Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward (Nine Star Press), Drama Cruise Nicky and Noah mystery (Lethe Press), and Satin Doll and China Doll Jana Lane mysteries (Wild Rose Press). Joe was voted 2nd Place for Best MM Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards for 2015!

 

Web site: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino

Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

 

 

COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD

by JOE COSENTINO from NineStar Press

purchase link:

http://ninestarpress.com/product/cozzi-cove-moving-foreward/

 

 

On Cozzi Cove at the New Jersey Shore, handsome Cal Cozzi’s seven bungalows are once again open for summer and love. The vacationers include Rodney Maxwell and Dennis O’Halloran, a Tony Award winning actor and his estranged producer/husband with their two hired studs, Jarek and Zeus. Computer analyst Sam enlists his best friend Chase in a scheme to attract hunky Raul. Middle aged Gil Van Truren wants to end it all—until he sees a vision of his first love. Cal also has his hands full with college student Michael—his new young lover—Michael’s study buddy Carlo, man of mystery George Valis, and Connor, the houseboy packed with muscles and a wondering sponge. All the while Hunter, a female gay romance novel enthusiast, experiences gay life off the page. What secrets, humor, tragedy, mysteries, and passions lie in the magical place called Cozzi Cove?

 

Praise for COZZI COVE: MOVING FORWARD

 

“Beautifully written, the story pulls me in and keeps me in Cozzi Cove. I look forward to my next visit there.”  TBR Pile

 

“I jumped straight in after finishing Cozzi Cove last night. And, as I expected, it was fantastic.” Divine Magazine

 

“Loved it!” Three Books Over the  Rainbow

 

Excerpt of COZZI COVE: BOUNCING BACK by Joe Cosentino

published by NineStar Press

 

As Lance rested in bed and Cal was putting on jeans, sandals, and a canary polo shirt, they heard Connor enter the living room and call out to Cal. After giving Lance a kiss on the cheek, Cal begrudgingly left his lover, shut the front bedroom door after himself, and then met up with Connor, who was standing next to the living room sofa.

Connor said, “It’s good to be back at work.”

“How were your grades at college this year?”

Connor shrugged his muscular shoulders. “Pretty average.”

Cal thought, If average is getting Cs and Ds. “I’m guessing you were quite involved with extracurricular activities.”

“One or two.” He giggled. “Maybe, three.”

Cal had a soft spot for the kid. “You did a nice job preparing the bungalows yesterday.”

“I aim to please.”

Cal thought the nineteen-year-old looked like an American flag in cutoff blue jeans that matched his eyes, a T-shirt and sneakers that matched his red hair, and pale skin with freckles.

“How can I be of service to you today, boss?”

Cal ignored Connor’s obvious double meaning.

“Just the usual routine.” Cal wasn’t immune to Connor’s charm, but Connor was a kid, and Cal was a one-man man. “Carry their luggage into the bungalows when the guests arrive. Turn down beds at four p.m.” He attempted to look sternly at the boy. “… Without you in them.”

Me come on to a guest?” Connor feigned surprise.

“Yes, you, Connor. This is a vacation resort, not the baths.” Cal moved behind his desk. “After today, make up the rooms late mornings and early afternoons. Leave the sheets and towels in front of the garage for the laundry pickup. And don’t forget to sweep out the parking area.”

Connor saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán .”

They heard a knock at the front door. Cal shouted, “It’s open.”

“Is this the office?”

“We’re informal here,” Cal explained. He typed into his computer, and then motioned for the young man to join him.

“I’m Mario Ginnetti.” He placed a piece of luggage at his feet. “Is it okay to park in the lot?”

Connor seemed to nearly salivate at Mario’s arms in his violet short-sleeved shirt. “You can park anywhere you like.”

Ignoring Connor, Cal said, “Yes, that’s the lot for the bungalows.” Cal handed Mario a key. “You’re in Bungalow One. I’ve got your credit card, so you’re all set.” He took a map from the topmost desk drawer. “The ocean beach is open to the public and is only minutes away. You can swim, surf, snorkel, or go on a glass-bottom boat there.” He pointed to various black dots on the map. “You’ll want to get some groceries here. Tommy Malone’s is a good bar, and Carla’s is my favorite seafood restaurant. This place has killer ice cream, which you can work off here at the gym.”

Connor interjected with, “If you need help finding anything, just ask me. I’m a native.”

“Or you can come into the office and ask me.” Cal handed Mario the map and then pointed outside. “The cove is private property. You can sit out there all you like. The bay water is calm and warm. As you can see, the view is amazing.”

Connor added with a grin, “Nude sunbathing is permitted.”

Mario was visibly trying to take it all in.

“Any questions?” asked Cal.

Mario’s dimples appeared. “Will the weather always be this nice?”

“From your lips to the sea gods’ ears.” Cal smiled. “The weather report calls for rain, so that means it’s going to be sunny all week. Connor will take you to your bungalow.”

Connor looked like the wolf meeting Little Red Riding Hood as he took Mario’s luggage. “Follow me, Mario.”

 

 

Excerpt of Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward by Joe Cosentino published by NineStar Press

 

Cal Cozzi sat on the white sandy beach like a king on his throne. The thirty-one-year-old thought about his great-grandfather, Calvin Cozzi III, who had built the eight bungalows, seven of which Cal’s father, Calvin Cozzi II, had rented to guys like Cal when Cal was a boy. With both men long gone, Cozzi Cove was Cal’s heritage, lifeblood, and oasis. As he gazed out at the ancient lighthouse near the horizon, Cal filled his lungs with salty sea air. He was happy to be home.

A familiar yawn and warm breath on his neck caused Cal to turn around and throw his arms around the stocky young man who plopped down next to him. Over a decade younger than Cal, Michael Rodgers rubbed his fingers over dark eyes. Resting his head with its chestnut-colored locks on Cal’s chest, Michael said, “I missed waking up in your arms.”

They shared a long kiss and then rose and stood at the water’s edge, watching the seagulls fly across shades of amber, violet, and flame that were fading to reveal a bright-blue sky. With Cal’s Italian and Scottish heritage and Michael’s Swedish and African lineage, Cal thought their skin glistened in the sun like jewels.

Shorter than Cal, Michael licked Cal’s neck.

“Hey, stop licking. I don’t have any pets.”

“You do now.”

Cal took the boy in his arms and smothered his youthful face with kisses. Though Cal would never forget Lance, the soul mate he’d lost to cancer two years prior, he couldn’t escape the fact that he was growing more and more in love with Michael every day they lived together. Michael’s high-energy zest for life and brutal honesty in speaking his mind both infuriated and delighted Cal. And Cal was well aware that his straightforward, hardworking masculinity still made Michael weak at the knees after living together in the main bungalow for nearly a year.

“Let’s get some breakfast.” Cal ran his fingers through Michael’s curly hair.

Michael kneaded the muscles in Cal’s back. “What are we having?”

“I’m having the honey buckwheat pancakes I made. What are you having?” Cal slapped Michael’s firm buttocks playfully, and then ran away as Michael chased him, laughing.

As they headed for the main bungalow, Cal scanned the row of seven guest bungalows on the cove. Cozzi Cove itself was a quiet stretch of beach with waves tickling jagged rocks perched on white sand only a mile away from the open ocean. Though he was excited about the start of the summer rental season, Cal knew he’d miss the tranquility of having the cove to himself—with Michael.

Michael followed Cal into the kitchen. As Cal gazed at the lantern-shaped kitchen clock on the wall, he admired his grandfather’s taste in decorating all of the bungalows with wood-carved, nautical-themed furnishings.

Sitting at the table, Michael said, “When do the guests arrive?”

“Check-in starts at eleven a.m.”

Michael giggled. “Do I have to check in?”

Cal kissed the top of his head. “Yeah, into my bedroom.” He served the pancakes and orange juice before sitting next to Michael. “What time do you have to leave for school?”

Michael answered with his mouth full. “College! I’m taking a summer class at State, not going to morning kindergarten. I’m a junior.”

“Okay, Junior.”

“Very funny. In the fall I’ll be a senior, like you.” He kissed Cal’s wide nose.

“Hey, your lips are covered in honey.”

“So they tell me.” Michael continued eating.

“Does your study buddy tell you that?”

Michael raised his eyes to the mermaid-shaped lighting fixture as if gathering patience. “Carlo is my partner.”

“Really?”

“In my advanced photography class.”

“Is that what they call it at State?”

“Maybe in your day.” Michael’s eyes gleamed devilishly. “Hey, did they have college back then?”

“I’ll put you over my knee, young man.”

“Promises, promises.” Michael swallowed his last piece of pancake and then gulped down the rest of his orange juice. “Carlo is coming here before our class. We’re taking some shots of the cove.”

Cal felt his expression harden. “I thought you were going to mow the lawn, rake the pebbles, and hose down the sidewalk around the bungalows.”

“Done.” Michael put his plate, glass, and fork in the sink.

“When?”

“Last night, when you were in the shower.”

“That’s why you didn’t come in with me.”

Michael wrapped his arms around Cal. “Can I take a rain check for tonight?”

“Maybe you should ask Carlo.”

“Carlo doesn’t shower. He takes baths.”

Cal did a double take. “And you know this how?”

“He told me.” Michael ran into the back bedroom, the home of his computer and photography equipment.

Cal felt his blood boil. Taking in some deep breaths, he told himself to calm down.

Michael came back holding a number of prints and placed them on the kitchen table. “What do you think?”

Cal looked down at photographs. “Nice composition, proportions, and shading.”

“Thanks!”

He pointed at the dark-haired, dark-eyed, olive-skinned, very muscular young man with a stoic Roman nose, dimples like craters, and a cleft chin like the San Andreas Fault. “Your professor brought in an Italian porn star?”

“Watch many Italian porn films, do you, Cal?”

“Obviously you don’t have to.”

“That’s Carlo. I took them in class.”

Cal offered a weak smile, trying hard not to let the anger and jealously he was feeling show on his face.

Michael ran his finger over the photographs. “Our professor complimented me on the line and shape.”

“I can see why.”

“And the contour and shading.”

“Yup.”

“I’m really proud of them. Tommy loved them too.”

Cal rose and put his breakfast things in the sink. “When did you show these to Tommy?”

“Yesterday afternoon when I was working at Tommy’s bar. The pictures of Cozzi Cove are for our next assignment.”

“‘Hot Italian guy on the beach’?”

“‘Summer magic.’ ” He hugged Cal’s neck. “And there’s no place more magical or more romantic than Cozzi Cove in the summer.”

After Michael headed into the bathroom, Cal heard Connor’s jeep pull up into the parking lot.

A minute later, Connor’s voice rang out. “Hi, boss. Private Connor O’Riley reporting for duty.”

Cal met Connor in the living room. “Hi, Connor. Good job cleaning the bungalows yesterday. I aired them out last night. Do me a favor. Get some fresh towels from the bin outside and put them in the bungalows.”

In his usual skintight white T-shirt and short-shorts, the freckled twenty-year-old saluted. “Aye, aye, Capitán.” Connor licked his red lips, which matched his frizzy hair. “Where’s Michael?”

“In the shower.”

“Does he need more towels?” Connor headed toward the bathroom.

Cal grabbed his muscular arm. “Down, boy. And keep it in your pants when the guests get here.”

Connor feigned shock. “Me? Make a play for a guest? Never! Cal, you wound me to the heart.”

“You must have studied dramatics at the college this year.”

Connor batted the long lashes over his sky-blue eyes. “How else could I have dated all the gay dudes?”

Cal laughed. “I’m sure you dated them.”

“I did.” Connor revealed his pearly-white teeth. “It was the football team last year who went straight, pardon the pun, for the touchdown.”

Cal put his arm around the boy’s wide shoulders and walked him to the front porch. “Please get straight to work so everything is ready when the guests arrive.”

Connor said with the eagerness of a child at Christmas, “I can’t wait to see our pick of the litter.”

“Look, don’t touch.”

Connor opened the front door and bumped into Carlo, whose crimson dress shirt had enough buttons open to reveal impressive pectoral muscles. “Welcome to Cozzi Cove!”

As he entered the front porch, his dark eyes glistened in the morning sun. “I’m Carlo. I’m looking for Michael Rodgers.”

Cal shut the door behind him and shook Carlo’s hand, noticing the bulge in Carlo’s black slacks. “Please come in.”

Jaime Reese: A Mended Man Book Tour

May I take a moment here to gush over how much I love Jaime Reese’s Men of Halfway House Series? Phenomenal characters with an underlying theme of destroyed lives seeking redemption. I’m a sucker for that kind of thing every time! Add to that the delectable cover art and the incredible writing, and you have a winning package every time.

This time is no different.

Title: A Mended Man
Series: The Men of Halfway House #4
Author: Jaime Reese
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romance
Release Date: April 28, 2016
Photographer: wagnerLA Photography
Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Detective Aidan Calloway is rock-solid strong. He’s a man of justice—loyal to his friends, family, and job—even if it requires bending a law…or two. He shields himself behind an abrasive, fearless facade, until a phone call one night chips his armor and throws his perfectly planned, hollow life into a tailspin.

Jessie Vega is the epitome of optimism. His carefully crafted attitude of hope and positivity protects him from a past filled with too much pain. When a ghost from a dark time resurfaces and nearly breaks him, he must tap into his inner strength or risk losing everything he’s worked so hard to build.

But Jessie can’t do it alone. He must fight to break through Aidan’s ironclad defenses to reveal the heart of the man hiding beneath the tough surface and mend his damaged spirit. Only then can they truly heal and become strong enough to battle the demons that haunt them and threaten their chance to finally be together.

———

***This book contains scenes and subject matter some readers may find distressing.***

———

Although part of a series, this book can be read as a stand-alone.

“This book is wonderful and beautifully worded. Jessie has a gift with words.” – Reader Review

“This story is not only an emotional roller coaster but it is full of action and mystery as well. There are several different stories all coming to a proverbial head in this book, and the outcome is excellent.” – Alpha Book Club

(This is taken from a scene between Aidan and Jessie.)

“You don’t give up, do you?”
“Not when it comes to you. No.”
“Jess, I’m not easy. I have more baggage than the underbelly of a cargo plane.”
“Then I’ll set my bags right next to yours.”
He shook his head. No one had ever been this relentless to be with his miserable ass.
“I’ve got one last question for you,” Jessie said.
Aidan turned his head slightly toward him but refused to make eye contact.
“Do you…” Jessie hesitated and rubbed his hands on his thighs again, revealing a hint of that introverted, vulnerable side others usually saw when they looked at him. “Do you want to be with me?”

Point-blank. That was the million-dollar question that determined how this conversation would end. Even if he did have enough energy to erect his shield, he couldn’t lie to Jessie. He exhaled heavily. “More than anything.”

“Then that settles it.”

“Jess…it’s not that easy.”
“Don’t make it harder.”

Aidan sighed. “I’m not used to this,” he said, gesturing between them with his hand.

“Talking or having a relationship?”
“Either. Both. Fuck if I know.”
“Okay. Well, you’ve never had a problem talking to me before, so we’ll work up to the big stuff. One detail a week. I’m not going to stress you out with a one-a-day quota. One detail we wouldn’t share with anyone else.”
One a week. Aidan forcefully rubbed his hands together. He could handle that. Maybe. Sorta.
“And as far as the whole relationship thing, I’m not an expert. But, we kinda already have something. Don’t you think?” Jessie looked over to him with a hint of a smile playing in his expression, cocking his head.
He definitely wasn’t an expert in relationships, but if Jessie thought this defined a relationship, then maybe he could totally handle this.
Jessie bumped his shoulder. “We’re just missing out on all the fun stuff.”
Aidan groaned. It drove him nuts when Jessie teased him.
“I’m not saying it’ll be easy. I know…” Jessie hesitated and rubbed his thighs again. “I know we’re both very different from each other and from what other people usually see when they look at us. But…I see you, not the guy you want everyone else to see. And you’re worth it, Aidan. It bothers me that you don’t recognize how amazing you are, but I’m willing to give this a shot. I just…I hope you think the same of me.” He quieted for a few moments then subtly nodded, concluding some internal conversation. “You work at things so you can appreciate the success at the end.”
Aidan shook his head and scoffed. Jessie and his inspirational poster lines…too fucking cute to deny. His ability to take a mountain and turn it into a few pellets of dust always amazed Aidan. Jessie was bossier than people could imagine and far more of a control freak than anyone suspected.
“Jess.”
“Yeah?”
“You’re totally worth it.”

Jaime Reese is the alter ego of an artist who loves the creative process of writing, just not about herself. Fiction is far more interesting. She has a weakness for broken, misunderstood heroes and feels everyone deserves a chance at love and life. An avid fan of a happy ending, she believes those endings acquired with a little difficulty are more cherished.


The Men of Halfway House
A Better Man
A Hunted Man
A Restored Man
A Mended Man

…More to come…


HOSTED BY:

Gina Storm Grant: Re-inventing Love Book Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway!

Re-inventing love blog tour

Reinventing Love Final Front Cover 3 28 2016 Full size 72 dpi

Amazon ~ Goodreads ~ All Romance ~ MLR

Engineer and assistant inventor Maximilian Grün is in love with his employer, but he daren’t reveal the truth. It’s 1910 and if Canadian authorities learned of his homosexuality, they’d deport him back to Germany where the country of his birth would become the country of his death.

When promising young inventor and mathematician Dr. Jasper Hamilton expresses his own feelings for Max, the young German regretfully declines. He cannot risk their partnership, their reputations—their very lives!

Then a rival inventor sabotages their inventions. Jasper is caught between the physical and the metaphysical, reduced to atoms, and transported to the spirit plane! Max is devastated, deeply regretting his lost chances.

But Jasper manages to communicate across the aether, telling Max he must reverse the machine’s polarity. But without Jasper’s talent for mathematics, the calculations defeat him.

Can the would-be lovers bridge the gap between life and death to finally be together?

Links to Buy:

Amazon: http://amzn.to/1XMDmaP
MLR: http://bit.ly/1Whtx5J
All Romance: http://bit.ly/1SB6X8R

 

 

Excerpt

Max trembled as Jasper’s calloused hands travelled firmly over his body, coming to rest on Max’s hips. Jasper tugged Max toward him the last inch or two. Max followed willingly. They pressed up against one another, the pressure so welcome, so satisfying, and yet, not satisfying at all.

Jasper moved to Max’s ear, kissing and caressing, even nipping softly. Max shuddered, a wave of bliss coursing through him, foreshadowing pleasures to come.

Jasper wedged his fingers between them at Max’s neck, unfastening the top button of Max’s shirt. He exposed the tiniest bit of throat, kissing and licking as he reached for another button. Max pulled away, panting and dizzy.

“Let’s move to the divan,” Jasper whispered before taking Max’s earlobe between his teeth.

“Yes,” Max agreed. Then, “No. No!” He yanked himself from Jasper’s embrace. “I can’t. We can’t.” His voice broke, and he stood, half bent, clutching his gut like a man in pain. He’d felt so complete in the circle of Jasper’s arms, safe, cherished. But at the same time, as if he were caught in a trap. How could he bear such conflicting emotions?

Gina GrantAuthor Bio

Storm Grant writes engaging male/male fiction, more light than dark. Since 2007, Storm has published with MLR, Riptide, Amber Quill, Phaze, Torquere, and more.

Her alter ego, Gina X. Grant, is represented by Rosemary Stimola, the agent who also represents the Hunger Games series. Check out Gina’s RELUCTANT REAPER trilogy, published by Simon and Schuster.

“I’m a joiner,” says Storm. “Find me wherever fun people hang out.” That includes membership in the RWA, Sisters in Crime, SFWA, and Novelists Inc. She attends as many conferences as she can, including RainbowCon, GayRomLit, and NinC, plus many local sci-fi cons and writerly meet-ups. She’s a big fan of Kobo Writing Life’s gatherings and has shared designer pizza with the likes of Kevin J. Anderson, Joanna Penn, and Hugh Howey.

Storm lives in Toronto, Canada, just blocks from the house she grew up in. She’s married to a friendly curmudgeon from a mining town in Northern Ontario, where he played hockey against Shania Twain’s brother. Storm and Mr. Grumpy have rescued many dogs and cats over the years, but are busy spoiling just one now.

Storm loves to travel, spending time each winter in San Miguel de Allende, an artists community in the mountains of Mexico. This past fall, she and a buddy toured China where, yes, she did climb the Great Wall.

Storm and Gina’s books are available at your favorite online booksellers. She can be found on all the cool social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter.

These days Gina has joined the ranks of the authorpreneurs. “I’m a tri-brid author,” she says. “I’m traditionally published with a Big Five, e-published with several successful digital-first publishers, and now I’m indie-publishing my own books through my own company, Wit & Grit Co.”

The company name is derived from the signature line Storm and Gina have shared for many years, because she really does write: “Quirky fiction that’s pretty, witty and gritty.”

EMAIL: storm.grant@gmail.com / ginaXgrant@gmail.com

WEBSITE: http://stormgrant.com / http://ginaxgrant.com

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Cover Reveal, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Tempeste O’Reilly’s Dreamer’s Destiny

People don’t just materialize into reality simply because you want them to so desperately that waking up breaks your heart. 

 

Dreamers’ Destiny

by Tempeste O’Riley

a Standalone story

M/M Erotic Contemporary Romance

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Reese Dante

Release Date: May 13, 2016 (ebook/print)

Length: Novel

PreOrder:

Dreamspinner Press

Add to: Goodreads

 

Liam Grady is the owner of the Feathered Quill, a quirky little bookstore in Asheville, and—though he doesn’t realize it yet—a dream walker. His last relationship failed almost a year ago, and he’s not had the interest or nerve to pursue anyone he’s met since.

Cameron Danu is a tattoo artist from rural Georgia. Cameron is left without a job after his boss, Jose, is forced to close the shop after a heart attack. When Cameron learns Jose has set up an interview for him at a small tattoo parlor in Asheville, he hopes for a fresh start in a new town.

Fate brings Cameron and Liam together, and they realize they’ve met before—in their dreams. A chance encounter and a winged tattoo might lead them to their destiny—if fear doesn’t turn their dreams into a nightmare.

xxx Insert excerpt choice here XXX

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

“I found it a beautiful tale of unhappiness changed to romance and then love with a happy ending.”

—Rainbow Book Reviews, on “Designs of Desire”

Designs of Desire is a tough realistic book that is touched by violence countered by the growing love between the two heroes.”

—Sensual Reads, on “Designs of Desire”

“It paints a stunning image of rebirth as Deacon and Kaden’s relationship begins to unfurl, like a rose as it opens its petals to the sun.”

—Carly’s Book Reviews, on “Caged Sanctuary”

“This is my favorite in this series so far. I love seeing how these characters are growing, all of them. As individuals, as couples, as friends, and as a family.”

—MM Good Book Reviews, on “Desires’ Guardian”

“The writer did an excellent job with the characters, they are likable and perfect. Not perfect in the way that they have no flaws, but in a way that they grab you and complement each other.”

—Love Bytes Reviews, on “Temptations of Desire”

“Tempeste created an amazing world for these paranormal species. I got lost in the story and wondering how all the pieces wove together.”

Molly Lolly, on “Whiskers of a Chance”

 

 

Designs of DesireSimple Desires*+Bound by Desire*Desires’ GuardianTemptations of DesireTruth in Lace*Desires’ Pride* Signs of Desire

Micah’s Medicine+Caged SanctuaryWhiskers of a Chance

*shorts in series +shorts in anthologies

 

Tempeste O’Riley is an out and proud pansexual genderfluid whose best friend growing up had the courage to do what they couldn’t—defy the hate and come out. He has been their hero ever since.

Tempe is a hopeless romantic who loves strong relationships and happily-ever-afters. They has done many things in their life, yet writing has always drawn them back—no matter what else life has thrown their way. They counts her friends, family, and Muse as their greatest blessings in life. They lives in Wisconsin with their children, reading, writing, and enjoying life—especially now that they have joined the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence® (as Novice Sister Eroti-Quill… can’t imagine where that name came from).

Tempe is also a proud PAN member of Romance Writers of America®, WisRWA, and Rainbow Romance Writers. Tempe’s preferred pronouns are they/them/their/theirs/themselves. To learn more about Tempeste and their writing, visit http://tempesteoriley.com.

Website Goodreads Twitter Facebook Google + DSP Blog

Tempeste’s Temptations (FB Group)

 

Grace Duncan’s hot new BDSM release, What About Now is available for pre-order!

WhatAboutNowFSWhat About Now
Dreamspinner Press
Cover by Reese Dante
Release date: 5/9/2016
100k words
Preorder:
Ebook: http://bit.ly/1q9U75b
Paperback: http://bit.ly/1SsdMDx

Blurb:

Five years ago, everything went wrong.

Braden Kirk and Rafe Jessen’s long-term relationship started unraveling. They stopped talking, fears mounted, then Braden walked in on Rafe and another man, completely misreading the situation. Without giving Rafe a chance to explain, Braden walks out. Out of their home, their relationship, and the game development company they started together in college.

After months of therapy to deal with the attempted rape Braden walked in on, Rafe begins to understand that his dominant tendencies in the bedroom aren’t a bad thing and that Braden’s submission is likely what scared his partner into silence. But Rafe isn’t ready to let go of the man he loves more than life itself. He arranges for himself and Braden to end up on the same charity cruise, knowing Braden won’t let his phobia—terror of vast, deep waters—rule him.

With a plan and twenty-eight days, Rafe is determined to get Braden back, make him see there’s nothing wrong with being submissive, and find a way to get Braden to stay with him when they get home to LA.

 

Excerpt:
Braden stared at the monstrosity that was to be his home for the next four weeks. He shifted his weight from foot to foot as he tried to remind himself this was a good idea. He was helping a charity he felt strongly about. He really did need a vacation.

He kept telling himself that as he moved forward with the rest of the passengers along the ramp to the gangway. He’d heeded his cruise-veteran mother’s advice and arrived after two so he could go straight to his room. She’d mentioned if he went earlier, he could eat while on the ship, but Braden was delaying boarding as long as possible. Since they were set to depart at four and it appeared most of the passengers had already boarded, Braden had gone from curb to gangway in what he felt was much too little time.
He didn’t know if he was ready to step on that ship.

Braden shook his head at himself, went through the open doorway, smiled at the uniformed lady on the other side, and nodded at something she said. He had no idea what it was, possibly directions to somewhere. He was a bit too overwhelmed at the moment to worry about it. He figured there’d be maps. He could handle that.

He didn’t know if he could handle being trapped in a ship, even one as huge as this one. In the middle of the ocean. For four weeks.

He was committed now. Braden blinked when he was offered what looked like a glass of champagne. Deciding alcohol could only help, he took the offered drink. He half expected to hand over his card—his mother told him they sometimes charged for drinks—but the lady simply smiled. He managed to say “thank you” and moved farther down the hallway, hoisting his backpack, the only carry-on he’d bothered with, a little higher on his shoulder.

But before he got too far, he stopped dead again. He knew he probably looked a bit like a fish, his mouth gaping, but he couldn’t help it. He looked up, then up, and farther up still as he took in the huge atrium.

Plants, marble, wood, glass, and gold seemed to be everywhere. Glass-backed elevators rose to his right, with a white grand piano nestled between them. Groupings of chairs set around glass tables created cozy chatting areas, scattered around the space. Across from him, he could just see the front of a shop, and off to the other side, what looked to be a florist. A three-story fountain poured along still more marble off to his left. And a pair of glass-and-gold curved staircases led to the second and third floors.

Someone bumped into Braden and he shook his head again, cheeks reddening. “Sorry,” he mumbled, moving out of the way. He remembered the glass in his hand and downed the fizzy drink in one long gulp.

He needed to get out of public for a few moments and collect himself. He was being ridiculous and he knew it. With another head shake, he looked down at the paper he’d been handed when he checked in and saw a map—or more like a series of maps of each of the decks. In the upper right, he found the ship name and a list of abbreviations below it that made no sense to him. He ignored those and looked at the tiny maps. A big red arrow pointed to the center of the right-most map. Braden guessed that was this atrium.

He scowled at his boarding pass, then at the map, and squinted at the ridiculously tiny numbers. He had good eyesight but could barely make them out. Where the hell was he supposed to go?
He went back to his boarding pass and found his room listing. Emerald Deck, stateroom E519. Well, he could find the deck, then worry about his room. According to the map, he had three flights up to go, so he headed for the curved stairs in the middle of the room. He paused long enough to leave the glass on a table, then started up the closest set of steps.

It didn’t take him long to find the right deck. They were, at least, clearly marked by big brass plaques between the elevators on each floor. So, a moment later, he was walking along the hallway toward midship on the correct deck and was counting down numbers. He breathed a sigh of relief when he finally stood in front of the correct door.

Braden’s first impression was that his parents had spent an absurd amount of money for him to live in a closet for a month. It seemed impossibly small, despite the queen-sized bed—or perhaps because of it. Braden didn’t know, but there was barely enough space to move around the bed. The tiny desk didn’t look deep enough to hold his laptop, and the LCD television mounted to the wall was even smaller than the pictures made it look.

His luggage wasn’t there yet, but he’d been expecting that. His mother had told him it wouldn’t show up until a few hours, at least, after he got there. He set his backpack on his bed and slipped around it to peer out the window.

He’d agonized over that decision for what felt like forever. He had no wish to look at the vast deep waters, but he wasn’t much fonder of being closed in. Then he’d discovered the obstructed-view rooms and was relieved to find he could have light without having to look at the water.

When he pulled the curtain aside, he was happy to see lots of blue sky… and a huge red lifeboat. If he stood on tiptoes, he could just glimpse the water, but that was fine with him.
Braden let the curtain go, and turned back to his room, dropping onto the side of the bed. He rested his face in his hands and forced himself to breathe deeply. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. He hated big bodies of water. Well, hated seemed… mild. He was, in a word, terrified.

But he’d agreed to go. He’d accepted the ticket his parents wanted to buy him, especially when they’d explained it was to benefit the house he’d been helping raise money for, to provide shelter for homeless LGBT youth. He’d seriously considered buying the ticket himself and just not going on the cruise, but his mother convinced him he was letting fear rule him and the vacation was more than needed.

She was right about that. Braden had spent more of the last nine months quite literally at his office than in his apartment. As the lead developer on a new game his company was finalizing, he’d put in upward of eighteen hours almost every day. Once the game went live and their first update completed and released, he had no more excuses. He’d earned plenty of money, which he hadn’t spent while practically living at work. His boss had pretty much ordered him to take a month off. When the cruise came up, he knew there was no reasonable reason for him to not accept.

Braden didn’t like the idea of letting his fears rule him. His terror of deep waters had bothered him for years, but he’d managed to avoid the ocean for the most part, despite living in Los Angeles. He’d once had help with that, but that help was gone and it was up to him to face his fear, now, alone.

His mother had pointed out that he didn’t need to spend a lot of time at the railings. He could stay in the lounges, read his Kindle at the pool—which didn’t scare him—or in any of a dozen inside places, work out in the gym, or watch shows in the inside theater. He didn’t need to expose himself unnecessarily.

What he hadn’t told his mother was there was another reason he didn’t necessarily want to go. Exactly the same one, he was sure, she had for pushing him so hard to go on this cruise in the first place. The charity group functions on the ship focused on gathering LGBT singles. And while Braden knew there were more than a few lesbians on the ship, the coordinator had told him the larger portion of their group of more than three hundred was made up of gay or bisexual men. It didn’t take Sherlock Holmes to deduce his mother wanted him to find someone.

Braden loved his mother and would do almost anything for her, but he had no interest in that whatsoever. He’d avoided relationships for the last five years and had no intention of breaking that record. When he’d walked out of the last one, he promised himself he wouldn’t make the same mistakes again. He refused to admit his insistence on not dating had as much to do with the fact that he still loved the man.

He rubbed his face hard and took a deep breath, then sat up. For good or ill, he was on the ship and staying. He’d be damned if he let his fears dictate his actions—whether that was his fear of the ocean or of getting hurt, it didn’t matter. Theywould not rule him, neither of them.

He stood up and snatched up his bag, opened it, and pulled out the information sheet from the group coordinator. He found the location for the group welcome reception, consulted the map, then stuffed it in his pocket. After stowing his wallet and money in the safe, he snatched up the card that served as identification, payment, and key while on board and headed out.

With any luck there’d be an open bar. The champagne in the atrium hadn’t been nearly enough.

Rafe Jessen stepped quickly into an alcove and waited for the man to pass. He hoped he wouldn’t be seen or at least recognized. After all, the man had no idea he was even on the ship and thus wouldn’t be expecting to see him. Which was exactly what Rafe wanted. For now, anyway.

When he was sure it was clear, he stepped out and walked along the same hallway. A couple flights of stairs and a few turns later, he found a quiet corner of the Explorer’s Lounge where they were holding the welcome reception. He held a slightly weaker rum and Coke than he usually liked—but didn’t much mind, since it was free—and settled in to watch the man he’d been waiting to see again for what felt like forever.

He didn’t look happy. That was the first thing Rafe noticed. The brown hair was a bit longer than he remembered and currently disheveled, as if he’d run his fingers through it a lot. Rafe smiled. Braden had been guilty of doing that quite a bit when something didn’t work in the game he was developing.

The blue eyes looked a bit sadder. Well, maybe not than the lasttime Rafe saw them. The last time he’d seen them, they’d been spitting the blue fire of Braden’s rage. Now, they were sad. But Rafe remembered when those eyes crinkled at the corners with humor. He remembered heat and want. He remembered love. All for him.

Rafe hated that he was the one to put that sadness there. And as it had for five long years, that knowledge still pierced him. He finished the rum and Coke and waved at the bartender for another, never taking eyes off the man he’d never stopped loving. Braden stood barely thirty feet away and didn’t know he was there. Rafe’s heart thudded, his throat closed, and he reminded himself to breathe. Take air in. Let it go.

As he started in on his second rum and Coke, he drank in the lean frame he knew hid muscles and strength—both mental and physical. He ate up the quick smile Braden flashed at their charity coordinator, Janie, who’d made a joke. And he reminded himself he was on that ship for a reason, and with any luck, the plan he had would work.
It had to. He’d been without Braden for far too long.

Five years. Five years that felt like an eternity.

 

* * *

grace_nohateGrace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica.

A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind.

As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art.

Find Grace here:

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