Release Blitz: Best Player by Jacqueline Snowe #eroticromance #sportsromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

Best Player by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 3 in the Cleat Chasers series

Word Count: 77,372
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 297



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Book Description

Falling for my brother’s best friend is not an option—right?

Kenzie Hill needs a place to stay the summer before college, so when a spot opens up at her brother Aaron’s ‘baseball’ house, she accepts. Living with a bunch of dudes who walk around shirtless won’t distract her—she has plans and nothing will get in her way. Not even her brother’s best friend.

Tanner Johnson has one thing on his mind—his future in the MLB. After choosing to wait another year before entering the draft, he now dedicates every second to getting better on the field, or letting loose. His best friend’s sister shouldn’t even register on his radar.

The first kiss is an accident and the second leads to more. They agree it’ll just be a fling and that Aaron can never know. Kenzie’s just starting her future, while Tanner’s is already planned.

Falling for her brother’s best friend was never an option—but what happens when suddenly, it is?

Reader advisory: This book was previously released by Finch Books.


Leaving the home I’d grown up in—the house packed with every memory I had—hurt more than I’d anticipated. My throat burned each time I held back emotion, but it wouldn’t do any of us good to mention the overwhelming worry and sadness. We couldn’t afford wasted sentiments when every second of every day we worried about our dad—fighting cancer wasn’t a single person’s battle. It took all our efforts.

“I can’t believe our baby girl is going away to college,” my dad said from the front seat of the old navy mini-van that smelled like used sports gear. He craned his neck and gave me a weak smile. I returned the gesture, hoping I hid the bubbling anxiety growing in my chest, and raised my fists in the air.


He coughed, the sound better than it used to be, but I still tensed every time I heard it. Each breath he took was a struggle. “While I’m not thrilled you’re going to be living with Aaron and two of his teammates for the summer, they seem to be decent young men. They’re better now than they were his freshman year. Good lord, they were hellions. But he promised he’d take care of you for us.”

“Dad,” I mumbled. “Come on.”

“I mean it. Your mom and I are going to be hours away trying out different treatment facilities. Someone needs to look out for you, K-Bug.”

I will not cry. Nope. I will not. “I’ll be fine. Really. I’ve been looking forward to college for years.”

“But not everyone goes two months early…” My mom let the words hang and our eyes met in the rearview mirror. Hers were tired and gray. My heart hurt for her and how strong she’d been for all of us. She’d been our family rock forever and while the thought of being away from them was freeing, it also left a hole.

“It’s better like this, I promise. It’ll be a good way for me to get acclimated to the campus and I signed up for two classes already. Introduction to Film and Online Biology. Both sound awful, but it’ll help me get ready for my hard schedule this fall.”

“K-Bug, you’ve never had to worry about grades. You’re our smart girl,” my dad said, not hiding his pride. Another wave of gratitude went through me. Despite Aaron’s insane athletic abilities, my parents had never once made me feel less important or talented. Not once. The world needed more of them and the gratitude switched to anger at the injustice of my dad getting sick.

It wasn’t fair.

But showing my internal battle would do none of us any good on the already emotional day. I swallowed down the grief and worry, plastered a smile on my face and spoke with a practiced enthusiasm that I’d mastered with all the hospital visits. “I’m just excited for the newness. New friends, new experiences, new things to learn and new mistakes to make. I’ve always heard about how college is this life-changing experience of fun, embarrassing stories and the place where you meet lifelong friends. I want that. I’m ready for it.”

“Then that’s what you’re going to do.” My dad’s voice held a finality to it and we all remained quiet for the rest of the drive. The campus was about two hours away from our childhood home—the house my parents had sold—and the moment we left the driveway that morning was the last time I’d set foot there. It was an odd combination to experience—utter excitement about what was next, and longing for what used to be. My constant battle was defining myself. I had always been Aaron’s younger sister. The daughter. The girlfriend.

I wanted to be me.

College was my answer.

“Honey, we’re going to stop and get some shakes. Would you like anything?” my mom inquired as she pulled into a fast-food place. My dad had a softness for milkshakes and we’d made an unspoken agreement that when he wanted one, he got one.

“Yeah, I’ll get a coffee. Want me to run in and buy one?”

“That’d be great, K-Bug.”

They handed me a twenty-dollar bill and I grabbed my phone before heading inside the diner. The humid air was hard to swallow, but it was a brief escape from the confines of the car. My dad got cold real fast, so we couldn’t have the air on too high. I fanned myself, moving the end of my old jersey-shirt to get air on my midriff. Sweat dripped down my muscles and a cold milkshake sounded perfect. I ordered—my mom preferred chocolate, my dad mint-cookie and I always got banana.

My phone went off and I almost ignored it, since my ex-boyfriend had thought it a great time to reconcile after our disastrous prom weekend. No thanks, Sean. That ship sailed. But it wasn’t him. It was Aaron, my ridiculous, awesome and obnoxious older brother.

Aaron: Yo, you almost here?

Kenzie: Stopped for milkshakes. Maybe fifteen minutes out.

Aaron: Coach just called and wants to meet me at the field—Tanner is here though. He’ll help you unpack. That cool?

Kenzie: That’s fine. Mom and Dad will be pissed if they don’t see you though.

Aaron: I’ll try and be back in an hour. Coach knows they’re here but said this is important.

Kenzie: Okay, see you soon.

Aaron: No backing out now, kid. You absolutely sure about living here?

Kenzie: There’s no home to go back to. Yeah, I’m sure.

I didn’t expect a response from him, and the few minutes I had to wait for the shakes were spent thinking about my future roommates. Sure, it was only two months, but these guys had the personalities of celebrities.

Aaron—my brother who’d slept with countless ladies the past two years and suffered a sex scandal. Zade Willows—the all-star pitcher who had a fan club named after him. Tanner Johnson—the giant center fielder who could make girls faint with a wink. Yeah. It was going to be an adventure living with them until their fourth roommate, Jeff, got back from playing baseball overseas.

Me, the awkward kid without an ounce of athletic ability, was living in the baseball house in the center of Jockville. Life was funny sometimes.

“Order’s up!”

I thanked the hostess and carried the drinks back to the car. Too soon, we were pulling into the chipped driveway of my new temporary digs. White house, large porch that had seen better days, overgrown trees in the front and backyard and the door wide open. I pulled my long dark-blonde hair into a high messy bun and took one final breath.




“What’s up, Hill family?” Tanner’s voice boomed from him. He leaned against the front railing, his height almost putting his head on the roof of the house. His hair was midnight black and it spilled from his head in messy curls, but his light brown eyes were killer. Yeah, I had a little bitty crush on him after having met him a couple times over the past three years, but it was hard not to. He was my kryptonite—long eyelashes, mischievous grin, the perfect dimples and real tall with broad shoulders. I gave him a little wave, hoping I didn’t blush too much.

I was going to be living with him, so it didn’t bode well for anyone to know about my crush. “Hey, TJ.”

“Roomie, let me grab your stuff. Aaron had to head to the field, but he’ll be back. Good to see you, Mr. and Mrs. Hill.” He swaggered—it was the only way to describe it—to the car and gave both my parents a hug. It pleased me to see how good he was to my family. The warmth on the back of my neck had nothing to do with his fitted shirt and workout shorts that showcased how much time he spent in the gym.

“You’re too kind, Tanner. Really,” my mom gushed and I had to roll my eyes. Even she succumbed to his charm. She had to know how much he got around… I mean, he was one of two single guys who lived in the baseball house. I snorted into my fist and Tanner slid me a look.

“Laying it on thick there, TJ.”

“What? I can’t hug my second-favorite set of parents?” He dared to raise one beautiful dark eyebrow, challenging me to call him out. I did.

“They brought you all beer and homemade casserole for at least a week. You don’t need to suck up.”

His grin widened and, after patting my dad on the back, he walked to the trunk of the car to help get my five bags. It was sad that, moving into college, I only had five bags’ worth of stuff. That was one lesson learned after seeing my dad go through his struggle—material things didn’t matter all that much. Life was more about the experience.

He walked past me, smirking, and picked up two of the bags. “Come on, Kenny. Let me show you to your room.”

He didn’t lower his voice or do anything weird, but those words coming from his mouth sent a shiver down my body. I cleared my throat and picked up the final load. “After you, Johnson.”

My parents took their time bringing food into the small kitchen while I followed Tanner into the house and up the stairs. I had been there before, but only for a small amount of time where they could hide their craziness. Now, they’d let it all hang out. The mess, the dirty bathroom, the pile of useless things stacked in the corner. Why did they have a stack of empty boxes? And empty cups? They had a kitchen…why didn’t they use it?

He led me down the upstairs hallway. There were two rooms on each side, two with their own bathrooms, but I wasn’t that lucky. While Zade and Aaron across the hall had one each, Jeff and Tanner shared theirs. And Jeff’s was the room I was using…meaning I had to share a bathroom with Tanner Johnson.

Two months was going to be a long time.

“Okay, Kenny. Here’s Jeff’s room.” He opened the door and gave me a bemused look. “He’s the neatest out of all of us. I saw you scowl on the way up. We’re not total pigs.”

“I’ll just have to do some cleaning, that’s all.” Thank God I brought supplies.

He chuckled and dropped my large duffel bags on the beige carpet. I took a hesitant step inside the room and sniffed. Nothing smelled off and there weren’t any weird stains on the carpet.

“Did you just smell the room?”

“Yes, I did.” I jutted my chin out at him. “I’ve lived with Aaron. I know how smelly boys can be. It seems fine so far.”

“God, this is going to be fun.”

“I’m bursting with excitement,” I deadpanned.

It earned me another grin, showcasing his impressive dimples, and I scanned the rest of the room. The walls had various baseball posters of the team and MLB teams. The sheets had been stripped from the queen-sized bed and the dresser drawers opened and emptied. I placed my bag on the desk and spun around. Tanner watched me with a curious expression and I did not look at his mouth when his lips quirked up on one side.

“We need to talk about some ground rules.”

Shit. Butterflies formed in my gut and I felt foolish. I wasn’t sure what I’d thought he was going to say, but it wasn’t that. Crossing my arms, I scrunched my nose and asked, “About what?”

“Living here.” He stepped farther into the room and with that small action, the walls seemed to close around us. He took up so much space and his warmth crowded me. “I know you’re pretty chill from everything Hilly’s told us, but I want to get it all out in the open, you know?”

I bit my lip to prevent myself from smiling. Was he going to give me the talk? Holy shit. I hoped he was because I wasn’t going to make it easy for him. “Okay. I’m listening. Should I write this down?” I moved toward my backpack, but he shook his head.

“We share a wall and a bathroom. The foundation here isn’t great and I don’t plan on being a saint just because you’re here.” He winced and moved his hand to his neck, stress lines forming around his eyes. “I mean, I’ll be more discreet about it. I won’t…you don’t have to see anything.”

“Tanner, what are you talking about?” I asked, successfully keeping my face blank. He had to know what my life had been like with Aaron. Hell, everyone knew the baseball house was notorious for hooking up. I wasn’t dumb or naïve. But watching him struggle through this was worth it. “What do you mean by saint?”

“Christ,” he said, then rubbed his hand over his face. Gone was the playful expression—uneasiness replaced it. “I don’t want you uncomfortable, but you might run into girls who…spend the night.”

“Ohhh, you have a girlfriend?” I whistled, getting another worried look. “Do I get to meet her?”

“Kenzie.” His cheeks turned just a little bit red and I pressed my lips together to prevent breaking character. “You might hear…stuff. I don’t want you to… Shit. I don’t know how to do this. I didn’t think it through.”

“Okay, enough. I’ll stop.” I laughed and enjoyed the myriad expressions crossing his face. They ended in curiosity and I closed the distance between us so we stood a foot apart. “I know you’ll have hook-ups. That’s fine. All I ask is that she doesn’t hog the bathroom the morning after and that you don’t fuck too loud.”

He blinked. It was slow and telling, and I bit my lip, but it did no good. I burst out laughing at how uncomfortable he was and I hit his shoulder without real force. “I was messing with you before, but I appreciate you trying to warn me.”

“I thought—Aaron said… Never mind. I didn’t want to shock or upset you.”

His comment warmed me, but his use of my brother’s name did not. “Whatever warning Aaron gave you, forget it, okay? I’m not this naïve, innocent kid.”


“Your tone doesn’t agree with your word.” I pursed my lips and gave him my best leveling stare. “Mean it.”

He gave me his signature crooked grin, narrowed those baby browns just a smidge and lowered his voice like a soccer coach. “Okay.”

We stood, not in a face-off or battle, but in a weird bubble of not really knowing the other person. He was the playboy with a bright future. I was the innocent younger sister of his best friend. Two months living with him, good or bad, would be an adventure, and my excitement for something new overshadowed the awkwardness. I held out my hand, grinning, and broke the tension that had formed in the last two minutes. “Thanks for letting me live here, roomie. I think we’re going to have a hell of a time.”

He placed his large hand against mine and shook, a slow smile forming on his too-handsome face. “I already regret agreeing to this.”

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About the Author

Jaqueline Snowe

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the ‘dry heat’ really isn’t that bad. She enjoys making lists with colorful Post-it notes and sipping coffee all day. She has been a custodian, a waitress, a landscaper, a coach and a teacher. Her life revolves around binge-watching Netflix, her two dogs who don’t realize they aren’t humans and her wonderful baseball-loving husband.

You can take a look at Jaqueline’s Website and Blog and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Release Blitz: Safe Harbour by Thom Collins #gay #eroticromance @firstforromance @pridepublishing

Safe Harbour by Thom Collins

Word Count: 58,382
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 229



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Book Description


Two lovers seek shelter in a storm of jealousy and passion.

Matt arrives in the seaside town of Nyemouth for a much-needed vacation. As a successful lawyer, Matt has a hectic career, and with an ex-husband still pestering him for money, he is long overdue a break. A holiday home perched above the town and its breath-taking harbour seems like the perfect place to unwind. Matt can’t wait to explore the beautiful, jagged shorelines and lose himself for a couple of weeks.

Jake has made a home in Nyemouth. After growing up in the city, living on the coast is everything to him. Running a business with his sister and volunteering on the crew of the local lifeboat, he is exactly where he wants to be. But Jake’s life is far from peaceful. Though he left his domineering husband Vince a year ago, Vince refuses to consent to a divorce or loosen his controlling hold on Jake.

On Matt’s first night in town, he encounters the couple having a blazing row. When Vince turns violent, Matt intervenes and takes Jake inside to escape his angry ex. Despite what happened, Matt feels a powerful attraction to the younger man. Jake is bright, endearing and unbelievably attractive, but the young man’s life is complicated. Matt already has enough problems of his own. He came away looking for an escape, not a starry-eyed distraction. As Matt and Jake get to know each other better, the gamble on a holiday romance becomes hard for either of them to resist. They have both been unlucky in love before. Maybe this time will be different.

Vince will not be shaken off so easily. He has no intention of letting Jake go…ever. As Matt’s and Jake’s emotions deepen, they do not understand how far Vince will take things to keep his husband. As far as Vince is concerned, they made a vow to each other… “till death do us part.”

Reader advisory: This story contains stalking and assault, physical and emotional spousal abuse, attempted murder with a firearm and references to abusive parenting and substance additions.


“Will you be staying long in town?” the shop assistant asked as he ran items through the till.

“Two weeks,” Matt Ramsey replied.

“Really?” The assistant, a pleasant-looking man in his fifties, didn’t look up from what he was doing. “It’s a small place to spend such a long amount of time. Won’t you get bored?”

“I doubt it. I want to use Nyemouth as a base to explore the local area—country walks, coastal trails, that kind of thing.”

“Oh, then you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. There are some stunning locations nearby, both up and down the coast.”

Matt smiled. He’d already done extensive research into this area of Northumberland. He’d visited here a couple of times before, just for the day, and it was a place he’d always wanted to discover further. With two weeks ahead of him and no other commitments, there would never be a better time.

He had finished work at five p.m. promptly and got straight into his car. Despite the Friday evening traffic, he’d made good time on the journey from York to Nyemouth, arriving at the holiday home just before seven-thirty. The old man who lived next door, a friendly guy called Jacob, had greeted him at the door with the keys and given him a quick rundown on the property and what he could find in town. Matt had left home without picking up supplies, and Jacob directed him to the small shop near the marina, less than ten minutes from the house, where he could get all he would need to see him through the next few days. Matt had thanked him and hurried down to the store.

He intended to get a takeaway for dinner tonight, but picked up bread, eggs, bacon, milk and tea bags for breakfast. He also bought three bottles of red wine, a bottle of dark rum and two litres of Diet Coke. It was his intention to eat out as much as possible while he was there, but he wanted to have some alcohol in for the times he came home late, so he could unwind in the comfort of the beautiful house that looked down on the marina and the mouth of the river.

“Have you lived here long?” he asked the cashier as he paid for his shopping.

“All my life,” the man said, sounding proud. “I know I knock the place for being small and there’s not a lot to do here out of season, but I do love it. I can’t imagine living anywhere else.”

Matt nodded. “Even in the winter, I imagine it’s still a lovely place to be.”

The man gave a good-natured laugh. “Come back in February when there’s a seventy-mile-per-hour gale coming in from the North Sea and see if you feel the same.”

“If the next fortnight goes well, I might just do that.”

“Well, if you do, I’ll be here.” He handed over the two bags of groceries. “Enjoy your stay. Hopefully I’ll see you around.”

Matt thanked him and left the shop.

That evening, it was difficult to imagine the brutal winter conditions the shopkeeper had spoken of. It was coming up to nine o’clock and the clear sky was deepening into shades of lapis and blueberry, marred by just a few wisps of cloud, high in the atmosphere. The perfect sky was mirrored on the still water of the harbour. The fishing fleet was home for the night, the boats lying motionless in their moorings.

There were a lot of people milling around the marina, couples and families enjoying the mild July weather. The bars and restaurants along the waterfront had set tables outside and looked to be doing a good trade. Matt had heard great things about The Lobster Pot, a bar-come-restaurant in the heart of the bay, and intended to treat himself to at least one good meal there during his stay—maybe one night next week when it wasn’t so busy.

He walked across the harbour, passing by the lifeboat station, towards the footpath back up to the house on South Bank Terrace.

Nyemouth’s lifeboat had made worldwide news the past summer when it was involved in the frantic rescue of the actor Arnie Walker and his young son. The publicity afterwards had brought hordes of tourists to the small seaside town. When Matt had been searching for a place in Northumberland to stay for his summer holiday, he’d almost discounted Nyemouth, remembering the scenes of chaos he’d seen on the news less than a year before. He wanted somewhere peaceful as a base for his hiking trips, and the interest Arnie’s rescue had created for the town made it far from ideal.

Matt had done some extra research and, while it was true that Nyemouth was now on the map as a major tourist attraction, the initial ghoulish interest people had taken in it had settled down, although he’d read that Arnie Walker was now a permanent resident here with a home on the north bank of the river. When Matt had discovered a house on the south side was available for the dates he required, those niggling concerns had disappeared.

Now he was here, breathing in the fresh sea air, and he knew he’d made the right choice.

At thirty-nine, Matt had no qualms about going on holiday by himself. He was a free man, able to do what he wanted and pursue his own interests without having to compromise for someone else. Some of his friends and colleagues had tried to talk him out of it and persuade him to join them for his summer break. Matt had no interest in their Spanish villas or their all-inclusive trips to the Caribbean. He’d always wanted to explore Northumberland, and now, divorced and one year short of his fortieth birthday, he intended to do exactly what he pleased.

Those same colleagues were always trying to fix him up with their gay friends. It was four years since he’d split with Clinton, and people seemed determined to pair him off with someone else.

It was all well-meant, but Matt didn’t need it. This was his time to do his own thing, and he intended to enjoy it.

He followed the path upwards, through the cobbled backstreets of the old town. Living in a city, albeit a modest one like York, gave him a greater appreciation of small towns and villages, especially those on the coast. The pace was much calmer here, more peaceful. He knew he was looking through the rose-tinted eyes of a tourist, but tonight he was happy in the belief that life was simpler in a place like this.

A middle-aged couple walking a small terrier smiled at him and nodded as they passed.

“Hey,” he said in return.

After a busy day at court, he looked forward to a quiet night in the holiday home. He would pour a glass of wine, order some food and unpack his stuff while waiting for it to arrive. He was too tired to explore the town this evening. There would be plenty of time for that tomorrow. He intended to get acquainted with Nyemouth this weekend, checking out the shops, pubs and cafés, before exploring the wider area next week.

Matt was a keen walker and hiker. Though the path from the marina to the house was steep, he managed it with the two bags of shopping without getting even mildly out of breath. The path levelled out as he reached South Bank Terrace and the last stretch was straight. The views from up here were second-to-none, taking in the entire valley and the river mouth. Maybe he’d be able to enjoy it with a glass of wine in the front garden before darkness cut in.

There were two men on the path that ran in front of the garden wall. He heard their raised voices as he approached.

“I’ve told you a million times before that the answer is no,” one of the men said. He was dressed in running shorts and a T-shirt—younger and slimmer than the other man. Pretty hot, Matt noticed the guy with long, muscular legs and dark brown hair that swept back from his face in luxurious waves.

“You’re being unreasonable,” the second man said. His voice sounded tight, like he was speaking through gritted teeth. He was stocky and thickset, with closely cropped grey hair and a narrow face. He wore grey suit trousers and a white shirt, the sleeves rolled up and the neck open.

“You’re the one who followed me up here,” the younger man said, sounding like he was close to losing it.

“What was I supposed to do? You won’t answer your damned phone. You don’t respond to my voicemails.”

“Don’t you get it, Vince? I blocked your number. I’ve told you before—I don’t know how many times—but I’ve had enough.”

A lover’s tiff, Matt guessed, though they seemed an unlikely couple. The young guy could do so much better for himself. Not that looks were everything, but he was way out of the older man’s league. Matt gave them a wide berth as he passed, but came close enough to see just how attractive the young man was. He had large, expressive eyes, a long, straight nose and a wide mouth. He looked wholesomely handsome in his running gear, giving off cute Clark Kent vibes.

The other man, he realised, was not as old as he’d first seemed, maybe early-to-mid-thirties. His prematurely grey hair and sharp features created a false impression. Even still, the two men did not look well matched.

“Just come with me,” the older man, Vince, snarled. “Listen to what I have to say.”

“Vince, I’ve heard everything before. There’s nothing you can say now that will make any difference.”

“How do you know if you won’t give me a fucking chance?”

Matt opened the gate and carried his shopping to the front door. He would not get involved. As a lawyer, he spent his entire working life dealing with the relationship problems of other people. These were two grown men. They could sort out their own issues. He put the key in the door.

“Get off me,” the young man snapped.

Matt glanced back to see him pull his arm out of Vince’s grip, and the man immediately lunged for him again. The young man dodged the grip.

“Stop being such a prick,” Vince said, his voice much louder now.

Matt groaned. This had the potential to get out of hand. He’d witnessed this kind of behaviour so many times—not just through work and handling messy divorce proceedings, but at home. Throughout his childhood, his father had been a pig, quick to anger and keen to use his fists. Matt didn’t want to get involved, but he couldn’t ignore this either.

“Is everything okay, fellas?” he asked, turning to face them.

Vince snapped his head around in his direction. “Piss off and mind your own fucking business. Prick.”

Matt ignored him and directed his gaze at the younger guy.

The man forced a smile. “It’s fine. Really.”

Matt nodded, unconvinced, but reluctant to involve himself any further in what was clearly a domestic argument. He carried his bags inside and through to the kitchen. As he put his supplies into the cupboard and the fridge, he could still hear their raised voices.

Vince sounded like the worst type of man—the kind of inadequate dickhead who tried to compensate for his own shortcomings with bullying and aggression. Matt knew the type well, having grown up with one until the age of twelve, when his mother had finally thrown his father’s sorry arse out. And he’d represented so many women and children during divorce and child protection cases who’d been caught up in relationships with controlling men.

Although he wanted to leave them to it, Matt’s conscience wouldn’t allow him to. He went into the living room and watched them through the window, hoping their argument would die down before it got any worse.

The young man had his hands up, warding Vince off to no effect as the little man puffed himself up and tried to get in his face.

“You stupid little prick,” he heard Vince say. “You’re worthless, you know that. Nothing. You were no one when I met you and you’re no one again.”

The skin of the young man’s face and neck was flushed. “If that’s how you feel, why don’t you go? Go on, and leave me alone.”

“I can’t leave you alone,” Vince said, changing tack. “You need me, Jake. You can’t get along without me. You’re useless on your own. You can’t cope.”

The young man, Jake, turned his back and tried to walk away. Vince grabbed his arm again and hauled him around, pulling him close, then wrapped his arms around him, taking him in a bear hug.

“Let go of me,” Jake protested.

“Enough of this shit. We’re going home.” Vince tried to lift him up and carry him.

Jake struggled, twisting out of his grip. Vince raised his hand to strike him.

Matt had seen enough. He pulled his phone out of his pocket and turned on the video camera as he headed for the door. He was filming when he stepped outside, training it on the two men. They might not like it, but he was determined to have a clear record of what happened next in case he had to call the police to deal with them.

As Matt walked down the path, Vince hauled back and struck Jake, his fist connecting with the side of his face, sending the young man sprawling to the ground.

“What the hell?” Jake complained, scrabbling backwards in the dirt, shuffling on his butt to escape his attacker.

“Stop pissing about and get the fuck home,” Vince jeered. “I’ve had enough of this fucking around. Do what I tell you to for once.”

Matt’s own anger mounted. Now that things had turned violent, he couldn’t let it continue. “Pack it in,” he shouted, coming to the end of the garden path.

Vince twisted in his direction. Matt saw the uncontrolled emotions flicker across his face—surprise, confusion, anger, then the aggression was back. He bared his teeth like a feral dog. “I’ve told you once already. Piss off and mind your own business.”

“I was prepared to do just that,” Matt said, keeping his voice calm and even, like a headmaster addressing a petulant teenager. “But when you throw your fists about, I can’t let that go. And, yes, I got that punch you just threw on camera, in case you’re wondering. It’s something I’m sure the police will be interested to see.”

Vince’s focus flickered between Matt and Jake. The bastard was no longer so sure of himself.

“This is a private matter. Nothing to do with you or the cops.” He puffed out his chest as he spoke, trying to assert his manhood.

“Again,” Matt said, amazed by his own composure, “that was the case until you started punching in the street. Now, it’s very much a matter for the police. Why don’t I call them and see what they think about it?”

“You fucking busybody… You should stop twitching your curtains and getting involved in things that have nothing to do with you.”

Matt kept the camera trained on him. “You’re not very bright, are you, Vince? For the third time, you made it my business. Now, are you going to take yourself off down that hill, or do I have to call the police to do it?”

Vince strutted towards the garden gate. “Why don’t you try to make me? Show me if you’re man enough to take me on.” He clenched his fists.

Matt wouldn’t fight him, but there was a good chance Vince would take a swing at him, regardless. “We have different ideas of what makes a man,” he said. “Violence won’t get you anything other than jail time, Vince. Even if Jake there doesn’t want to press charges against you, my testimony and video evidence will be enough to charge you and get you in front of the local magistrates on Monday. Is that the way you want this to go? To spend the weekend in a police cell? Or would you rather leave before you make it any worse?”

Stalemate. They glowered at each other across the fence. Bigger and more menacing men than Vince had tried to intimidate Matt, and he had not backed down. He wasn’t about to cave under the glare of this prize arsehole.

Vince’s face twisted in an ugly expression before he spat at the ground. He stepped away, turning his back on Matt. “Are you coming?” he demanded of Jake, who had risen to his feet and stood brushing the dust off his shorts. Matt noticed a smear of blood on the younger man’s face.

Jake shook his head. “Just go—and leave me alone. I don’t want to see you again.”

Vince loitered, his fists still clenched, his arms trembling.

There’s so much anger simmering under his lid that he looks like he’s about to explode.

“I think the message is clear,” Matt said. “Why don’t you do everyone a favour and leave?”

“Fuck you,” he said at last, his voice low and contemptuous. And as a parting shot to Matt, “Cunt.”

He strutted down the road, his shoulders back, knees wide, trying to look like a big man.

Matt, realising he’d been holding his breath, exhaled.

This was not the quiet evening he’d intended for the first night of his holiday.

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About the Author

Thom Collins

Thom Collins is the author of Closer by Morning, with Pride Publishing. His love of page turning thrillers began at an early age when his mother caught him reading the latest Jackie Collins book and promptly confiscated it, sparking a life-long love of raunchy novels.

Thom has lived in the North East of England his whole life. He grew up in Northumberland and now lives in County Durham with his husband and two cats. He loves all kinds of genre fiction, especially bonkbusters, thrillers, romance and horror. He is also a cookery book addict with far too many titles cluttering his shelves. When not writing he can be found in the kitchen trying out new recipes. He’s a keen traveler but with a fear of flying that gets worse with age, but since taking his first cruise in 2013 he realized that sailing is the way to go.

You can take a look at Thom’s Blog and follow him on Twitter.


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Release Blitz: Promising Love by Sara Ohlin #eroticromance @firstforromance @totally_bound

Promising Love by Sara Ohlin

Book 3 in the Rescue Me series

Word Count: 73,343
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 279



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Book Description

When a glamorous spa owner seduces the grumpy neighborhood bartender, passion smolders…

Ruby Naylor, confident, successful proprietor of Spa La La, has been crushing on Lachlan MacGregory for ages and finally throws herself at the grumpy bartender as he’s helping her tipsy butt home to her apartment above his pub.

Ruby is the only woman Lachlan has ever loved—from afar. When she makes a pass, he finally admits he’s wanted her for a long time. He leaves her that night with three promises—a kiss, a special connection between them and an epic tomorrow.

Unfortunately, when tomorrow arrives and Lachlan is smacked with the knowledge that she’s already in a relationship with two men, he feels he has nothing to offer her.

His day gets worse when his addict father is on his doorstep again, demanding money. The thought that he could end up sick and miserable like his father eats at Lachlan, making him focus on what has never let him down, his successful pub in the burgeoning Corvallis neighborhood.

Learning that Ruby is not taken, Lachlan finally goes all out to win her back. With his heartfelt apology, it’s easy for Ruby to forgive him—she believes in joy, in romance, in happy ever after. What she never expected was how vulnerable Lachlan could make her feel.

Can their love withstand life-shattering events to lead them into a beautiful future?

Reader advisory: This book contains mention of a parent suffering from addiction and some violence.


“Lachlan MacGregory, are you ever going to kiss me?” Ruby whispered. Leaving the key in the lock, she turned so they fit flush together, front to front. What’s a successful, sexy woman supposed to do anyway?

She’d been waiting for an eternity, it seemed, for Lachlan MacGregory to make a move, or accept her move. Okay, so it had only been a year and a half, but everyone knew time could be its own demon or goddess when love was concerned. Either way there was magic involved when sashaying around her feelings for Lachlan. It definitely felt more demon than goddess-inspired to her. Time she’d spent watching him casually date other women, while she herself had occasionally casually dated other men. They’d circled each other. And yet the forces had never aligned in their favor. Either that or neither one of them had been brave enough to step up.

Until now. Now she was going to ask for what she’d dreamed of. “I want you to kiss me.”

Aside from the deep burn in his gorgeous eyes, Lachlan’s face was stone and his entire body was rock-hard. Large and sexy, but most definitely a fortress at the moment. Or most moments, she’d found, during all the months she’d been drooling over him. She almost spun away from the freeze.

Maybe he’s not interested? It didn’t seem so, standing this close to him—even though he held himself like granite, his eyes gave him away. Using that courage, she searched into those golden-brown depths of his. Swirling pools of secrets or desire, or maybe both. They had a mind of their own and she’d caught him many a time sneaking glances her way. There were a few occasions when she’d almost made him laugh, and she’d taken them as wins. Stoic statue of a man. Does he even know how to laugh?

She hadn’t actually ever gotten a laugh from him, but she had gotten a different, more subtle and—in her mind—no less cute reaction. His mouth sometimes quirked up on one side while his left eyebrow did this little curve as if to say, “Give it your best, woman. You can’t break me. But it’s damn amusing to watch.” The man tried so hard not to show emotion, not to ask her out, not to kiss her. So, right this perfect minute when he was walking her upstairs to her apartment above his pub, when neither one of them was dating someone else, when the tango had put them smack-dab together, she’d decided to take matters into her own hands, and words and mouth. That’s what a confident woman does.

Or was it the hot-and-bothered woman in her? Because his body was so supremely close to hers, whisking all rational thought away from her. She’d tried flirting with him, and she’d tried ignoring him. It was time to ask for what she wanted, and hope, hope he felt the same. She leaned against him. He was a wall propping her up by her apartment door. She couldn’t take it one second longer. Pressing closer, she reached up and placed her hands on his shoulders. His hands immediately went to her waist. Oh, the warmth.

“You’re drunk,” Lachlan said. He looked down at his hands on her almost as if he couldn’t believe how they’d gotten there. One twitched and he gripped her, steadying her or himself—she wasn’t sure. But he didn’t pull away. When he began to move his thumb on her waist, searching little circles, exploring the tiniest bit of her, he watched, lost in her. Goody, goody, goody!

Lachlan’s fingers seared a brand on Ruby’s skin and almost took her legs out from under her. Nothing casual about our connection at all. She’d known it. And maybe that gave her the power to push her luck.

“Not drunk.” She pouted and got to see that almost-smile with the eyebrow betraying his attempt to remain stoic. Okay, maybe a teeny bit drunk, which did not dull the fact that she desired him.

“The gin and tonics were flowing to your table tonight, Ruby. And you ladies came in tipsy. I know Ellie wasn’t drinking them.”

This time there was no subtle eyebrow-lift, but both eyes—sparkly brown orbs that seemed to have a novel written in them, and boy she longed to read that story—lifted, his tone and his expression reprimanding. His voice was deeper. Perhaps because his eyes were both serious and searching, that reprimand went straight to her core. I wonder if he’d reprimand me in the bedroom?

She smiled, a full-on smile, because she, Ruby Naylor, had no problems showing her emotions, and leaned into his powerful muscles. “No, it wasn’t Ellie, although the ginger seltzer concoctions you made specially for her with the cute umbrella-cherry garnish were a huge hit and calmed her stomach. You thoughtful, thoughtful man.” Ruby gave his shoulders a gentle squeeze. My God, the man even has sexy shoulders, powerful, firm. She’d love to get her hands all over him, massage all his muscles, investigate each and every one.

“Besides, I’m tipsy from talking about love, dear man. I only had a few of your spectacular drinks. Ellie sipped her ginger drink while swooning over her life with Jackson and the new baby coming, and Natalie drinks like a sailor. But I’m not asking you to kiss Ellie or Nat, Lachlan MacGregory. I’m asking you to kiss me. Don’t you like me? It’s hard to tell some days,” Ruby purred. She was not above using all the tactics in her arsenal to seduce him. The man was a vault and she aimed to crash through, so he’d never know what hit him. Watching and waiting on the sidelines had gotten her nowhere, except a lot of great dreams. Now, Ruby sought the reality.

He’d offered to help her drunk butt upstairs, and even though she could have made it to her apartment above his bar perfectly fine, she wasn’t stupid. And whoosh, did it feel good to be so close to him. Finally. She was tipsy. Tipsy on Lachlan contact. It was a real thing, she could say, now that he was touching her.

His one hand clenched and unclenched at her side, then he slid it around to her back bringing them into a nice snug fit. What is happening? Maybe I am dreaming? His other one braced against the door behind her, almost as if he needed to balance himself, to hold on. And, holy smokes, he was looking at her now. Looking was too calm a word. His eyes had woken from their stoic slumber and were piercing and hot. And to have Lachlan MacGregory holding her, finally giving her the full direct force of his gaze? Oh, she could melt into a puddle. It was all too powerful.

“I like you.” His voice was deep and quiet, with a sharpened edge to it.

“I like you, too.” She watched those eyes of his, a page flipped over, or perhaps opened to her. “I’ve liked you for so long.” He blinked. But he didn’t focus on her eyes—he concentrated on her lips. A battle waged in his expression. To stay through the storm or run away to safety…which would he choose?

“Please,” she whispered. Please don’t run.

He tightened his grip on her, his fingers molding her through her jeans. “When I kiss you, I want you to remember it in the morning,” he rasped out. He was standing up taller now, all traces of casual disappeared into the night. He was intent.

Yay! He does want to kiss me! Ruby almost jumped up and down in cheers, but she settled for putting her hand on his cheek, unprepared for the sigh that wove through his body at her touch, how it sang through her nerves, but also gave her joy and strength. “I promise, Lachlan. I’ll remember. Will you?”

“Yes, beautiful, I’ll remember,” Lachlan said. He lifted her gently against the door and ghosted his lips over hers, sending shivers through her as he moved those amazing lips of his over her cheek and down her neck. Ruby’s head fell against the door, while the rest of her body tried so hard to stay molded to his. He stopped right beneath her ear. “I’ll remember how soft your skin is right here.”

Oh, my! It was a good thing that he held her up or she might have blown away from lack of oxygen. The man hadn’t even kissed her yet, and he’d stolen the breath from within her. And she could shoot herself for wearing a coat and her blouse tucked in when she craved the man’s hands all over her bare skin, not just the tiny patch where he’d snaked his fingers underneath the fabric to reach her waist. Although it might cause her to combust. She welcomed that combustion.

“I’ll remember how you smell, that fucking sexy, musky perfume you command.”

Huh. I was wrong, I am drunk. The man has skills. Command? Does he realize he’s going to brand me with his words?

Keeping her close, Lachlan took one hand away to unlock her door and walked her through the opening. Ruby had had no idea such intense concentration could be so fucking sexy. Lachlan’s heady gaze on hers, while walking them to her kitchen island, without a sound, added to the feeling that she was floating. A whimper escaped her mouth and she gripped his arms to hold on. This was not the time to close her eyes—this was her chance, warm in his embrace, to see his beauty up close. A man on a mission. And his mission was her. No distractions allowed. The power of that type of gaze mixed with his words went right to her head and her heart and other parts of her body. All those other parts that wanted his skin, his lips on her.

“The way you feel in my arms, Christ, Ruby, you have no idea.”

I do! I so do. I feel it too.

Now he’d kiss her. Yes, please! Lachlan lifted her onto her counter and, keeping his hands braced on her hips, held himself at the tiniest bit of distance. She had been waiting for forever for this. She’d beg. I wonder what other talents he keeps close to his belt? She reached to pull him closer.

“Ruby.” He’d nearly lost his voice, raw, edgy need feeding out of him with one word. My name. Jesus, he was going to undo her.

“Promise?” he asked. No, he was going to break her heart open with one request. If she was this turned on and whimpering with the touch of his lips soft on her neck, whispering gorgeous words to her, his kiss would probably brand her. Stake your claim, Lachlan. I’m here waiting for you.

She nodded. “I won’t forget. I promise, Lachlan.”

He gave it to her then, not the kiss she was desperate for, but the smile, his true smile. It changed his face from broody stone to brilliant, handsome man one hundred percent zeroed in on her. His eyes caught the fire and a shade lifted from those dark mysteries, like he’d been searching for light and he’d discovered it in her, finally. Holy cow!

And he strode from her apartment with one final announcement. “Goodnight then.”

What? Wait! What the heck is happening? “Goodnight?” She slid down from the counter and tried to anchor her feet on the floor because her legs were wobbly noodles and her heart was trying to beat out of her chest. Lust raced through her blood and she gripped the countertop for support.

He paused in the doorway, his hands on the frame, facing away from her, gathering himself.

No! Don’t gather your wits—come here. Throw your wits out of the window with mine.

And when he faced her, he blew her world into a million pieces of stardust. “I’m going to kiss you all night, kiss you into the morning, make you remember every single caress I place on your skin because I’ve imagined kissing you since the day you filled out the lease and teased me about lacking any sort of smile. When I nearly fell over at your beauty, the shimmer in your gorgeous eyes, that glow you spread out to everyone in your path. You have no idea.” Lachlan shook his head, lost in his thoughts. Or a memory? “I’ve wanted to kiss you since…since you altered my world.”

“Lachlan,” she whispered and took a shaky step toward him. Her body pulled her to his. They were connected now and the path to him was the only one for her. It was the feeling she’d had when she first met him too, and it had only grown stronger over the months. His words validated her romantic heart that existed in a world with so many people who didn’t believe, who walked their gray path and were fine with mediocrity.

He held up his hand to stop her. “Now that I know we’re here in the same space.” He made a circle in the air with his hands. “Now that I get to taste you, there’s no way I’m going to rush it. I’m going to savor every damn second.”

The man knew how to seduce, wielding anticipation like a gift, not a weapon. But she enjoyed rushing too. She loved rushing. Rush me into bed with your kisses now, you wonderful man, you!

“See you tomorrow,” he said. Then the handsome, frustrating-as-hell man smiled and strode out, closing the door behind him.

Lost in the laser hit of that smile for a minute, Ruby swayed on her feet as if she were truly drunk. Then his words filtered through her loopy state, wove themselves into her heart and set her on fire. “Oh, my beautiful goodness!”

Well, she hadn’t gotten a kiss. Any other man, any other spectacular moment and she might be pouting. Instead, her world had been spun in gold. She gently pressed her fingertips to her heart to feel the flip-flops it was doing. Drop-dead gorgeous, kind, sexy Lachlan MacGregory had zapped lightning through her with merely the promise of a kiss. Yet so much more than a kiss—he had noticed her. He did want her. Ruby held tight to the special moment, closed her eyes and cherished the luminous glow bursting in her dreams, in her heart at the promise tomorrow would bring.

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About the Author

Sara Ohlin

Sara Ohlin has lived all over the United States, but her heart keeps getting pulled back to the Pacific Northwest where it belongs. For years she has been writing creative non-fiction and memoir and feels that writing helps her make sense of this crazy world. She devours books and can often be found shushing her two hilarious kids so that she can finish reading. When she isn’t reading or writing, she’ll most likely be in the kitchen cooking up something scrumptious, a French macaron, shrimp scampi, a fun date-night-in dinner with her sexy husband, or perhaps her next love story.

You can follow Sara on Instagram and Pinterest and check out her website here.


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Release Blitz: Rogue Royal by Megan Slayer #eroticromance #gay #contemporaryromance @pridepublishing @firstforromance

Rogue Royal by Megan Slayer

Word Count: 52,160
Book Length: NOVEL
Pages: 209



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Book Description

You are formally invited to the royal ball…to become the husband to the king!

King Charles of Lysianna needs a husband and fast. He’s up against the biggest time crunch of all—a royal decree stating he must marry or lose the crown. It’s already December and he’s running out of time. Throwing a royal ball to find a suitable man for the role of husband seems like the king’s only option…until he meets Nathan. This royal has always done things his own way—and maybe now it’s time to go rogue.

Nathan Pratt doesn’t want much from life except to raise his son and be happy. Dating isn’t on this single father’s radar until he sees Charles in the castle solarium and his heart goes out to the sad-looking man. Once he meets Charles, he starts to think love might be possible. There’s just the small issue of Charles being the king…

Will Nathan be able to handle the glare of the spotlight with Charles beside him, or will the notoriety that comes with dating a royal be too much?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of gunshots as well as the threat of kidnapping. This book is linked to Runaway Royal.


“I’m in charge.” Charlie stared out at the kingdom, admiring the park leading to the hall of government. Snow lay soft on the ground and the land looked crisp but clean. The trees were dusted in bright white and kids played on the grounds of the park, tossing snowballs at one another.

He’d used to toss snowballs—before his father had handed him the keys to the monarchy. He’d become the king. The entirety of Lysianna was now under his protection. He should feel invincible, but he didn’t. To be honest, he didn’t feel like a king.

He was just a man with a fancy crown…and an entire country expecting him to keep order.

“Sire? You have a problem?” Newt, one of the pages, held a document out. “Lord Spencer gave this to me. He’s just finishing up in the other room. According to this, you must be married by end of this year. It’s already December fifth.”

“You’re kidding me.” He wanted to see Spencer right away. Why would his right-hand man send the page in to alert him to this notice? “I thought I had a while.” He’d known about the time limit, but could’ve sworn the deadline was more than thirty days away.

Spencer swept into the room and flicked his fingers to dismiss Newt. “Go.” He waited until Newt left the room, then continued. “You have to be married by the new year. That’s how that rotten woman had the decree worded. You’ve had all year to pick, and now if you don’t choose, the kingdom goes to the next in line.”

“That’s Zara’s little boy, Alistair.” He’d never know why she’d named her child that, but whatever. “Well, shit.”

“What’s worse? You’re supposed to marry a girl. According to this, you need to procreate.” Spencer shook his head. “You’d really think your former stepmother hated your guts.”

“She did.” He leaned back in his office chair. “She wanted nothing more than to ruin my life.” His former stepmother had sworn that he and his sister Zara weren’t right for the crown. She’d wanted to be queen, and when the king had stepped down, she’d lost her connection to the line. She hated her stepchildren and even more that Charlie was gay. Unfortunately, she’d managed to get a decree into the records which stated that Charlie, the current king, needed to not only be married, but to have children.

“What are you going to do?” Spencer asked.

“Nothing yet.” He had no prospects or ideas—just a kingdom to himself. He wasn’t good at being alone. Ever since he’d come out, he’d had a boyfriend. Being with someone made him feel more secure. Except now… He didn’t know what to do.

“We should throw a ball.” Spencer clasped his hands behind his back. “That’s it. A ball to find you a…husband. Would he be the prince? We don’t have co-kings. Duke? That doesn’t feel right.”

“It doesn’t matter, since I don’t have anyone in mind,” Charlie said. “Plan out the ball. I don’t care. I’ve got roughly thirty days to find a husband. It’s only almost impossible.”

“I’m on it.” Spencer picked up his tablet. “We’ll have to fast-track the details, but it’s been done before.”

“A king should be self-assured, not wallowing in self-pity. So I’m alone and being forced to wed?” He stared at Spencer. “I’m the king, right? So I can add an addendum to the decree, correct? Saying that I’m entitled to marry the man I choose, not a woman, since I’m gay?”

“You can. I’ll get the decree written up.” Spencer took his place at his desk. “Won’t be more than a minute to get the words on the parchment.”

Charlie paced the length of the office. He had no business being king. Sure, he could handle passing judgments and thought himself fair, but he wanted to be happy—not just there to mete out justice.

He wanted to be loved in the way Zara had found love with Luke. They were meant for each other and the stuff of fairy tales.

What about him? It’d taken most of the year for the people of the empire to warm up to him being gay and the king. Would they accept him being married to another man? For all he knew, they’d revolt.

Spencer finished writing up the document. “Here. Look this over and sign it if the wording is correct. This addendum should at least give you the right to marry a man. But I should mention, you’ve always been roguish in the way you handle things. This isn’t that far out of normalcy for you. Don’t sweat it.”

“Thanks.” He settled behind his desk and read through the document. If he needed something done fast and correctly, then Spencer was his man.

“So, we’ll have the ball on the twenty-fourth.” Spencer held his tablet again. “You’ll find someone among the attendees, but this gives us a small pad in case you can’t.”

“I suppose.” He signed the document. He should take the reins on the ball and his search for a husband. “For the ball, I want the colors blue and silver. Not Christmas colors. Everyone should attend wearing blue or silver. Advertise it as a Christmas event, not my misadventures in finding a possible husband.”

Spencer nodded. “Understood, but I would brace yourself. Once the pages find out there will be a ball, the speculation will run rampant. Everyone knows you need to find a husband and they’ll try to figure out who it will be.”

“Of course.” He knew the staff liked to gossip. “I don’t like the idea of this forced marriage. It’s unfair.”

“Not if you find a good husband—and you could.” Spencer continued, tapping on his tablet. “It’s a long shot, but it’s possible.”

“How? I don’t have time to meet anyone. I’m busy with affairs of state.” Charlie stared out the window. “How will I know that the man I’ve met at the ball will be the right one? After one night? It’s ludicrous. For all I know, the guy is just trying to get money from the family.”

“I know,” Spencer said. “I’m glad your father divorced your former stepmother, because all she wanted was to see you fail. She was determined to have the Earl of Lender take over as king. Now, because of her, he believes he’s owed the position.”

“I know.” He wasn’t a fan of Lender. People who wanted something for nothing drove him berserk. Lender had married to get his title, bought his position in government, paid off individuals to keep from getting sued after he left office disgraced and had still managed to con the former queen into helping him attempt to gain a position in the line of succession. Lender didn’t belong there. Charlie sighed again. “Here’s to hoping that I find someone before we get to the point where Lender thinks he’s got a chance.”

“Agreed.” Spencer stopped tapping. “You need to go to the solarium now. It’s almost time for the interview with Media Magazine. They want to take your photo first, but they wanted something informal.”

“They don’t want me walking around in the snow? I assumed they’d want me to be strolling through the park or something.” The magazine had a certain look for their photos and most included formality.

“No, they want you to look relaxed.” Spencer tucked the tablet to his chest. “They want to discuss you being on the throne.”

“It’s boring.” He snorted. “What else do I say? It’s thrilling?” He left his seat and gestured to the door. “Let’s go.” He made his way through the castle to the solarium at the west end of the building. The camera crew had already set up the shot and the brunette interviewer stood next to the oversized carved chair. Her pantsuit swathing her body in crimson, she drummed her fingers on the back of the chair.

Charlie sighed. He didn’t mind the publicity aspect of his role, but he hated answering the same questions over and over. Besides that, everyone wanted to know about his sister. So why not ask her to sit for the interview? She was quite approachable and happy now that she’d married Luke, had Alistair and settled into life as a mother.

Spencer directed Charlie to the main chair. “They insisted you sit here. Not the throne.”


“It looks royal,” Spencer replied.

He rolled his eyes, then pasted a smile on his lips. “Very well.”

“King Charles.” The interviewer gasped, then bowed. “It’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Lady Teresa Bushe and I’m humbled to be in your presence.”

“I’m honored you’ve chosen me for the interview. You didn’t need to set up such a posh space. I’m a simple man.” He nodded to her. “Shall we?”

“Yes.” She gestured to the fancy chair. “First, let’s get the photos, then we can chat.”

“Of course.” He’d done a dozen of these interviews. Every magazine and paper wanted a report on his ‘hot bachelor king status’. He didn’t see the big deal. He didn’t have a significant other because the right one hadn’t come along. That didn’t mean he couldn’t rule. It just meant he wasn’t getting any.

He suffered through the interview and expected the woman to bring up his string of ex-boyfriends. Until his father had stepped down as king, Charlie hadn’t expected to become the leader so soon. He’d thought he had time to play the field and find a husband properly.

He listened to the woman chatter, but the view out of the windows caught his attention. A man and a little boy were walking along the brick path leading past the solarium. Charlie wondered who the man was and why they hadn’t met before. He knew the little boy—Heather Dawn’s son, Emmett. The child wasn’t the best at reading and Charlie recalled being told the boy needed tutoring to get up to his grade level. Was this man the tutor? Or Heather Dawn’s new boyfriend? She had two young boys and Charlie couldn’t imagine being a parent.

The man, though, caught Charlie’s attention. The coat covered his frame, but he appeared trim and Charlie liked the way the slight winter breeze caught in his dark hair. He had a thing for dark, brooding and handsome men. Was this one brooding?

“Do you believe you’ll find a husband before the deadline?” Lady Teresa asked. “Are you aware Lender believes he’s next in line to the throne?”

Shit. He needed to pay attention and not watch the guy outside. “I’m confident I’ll find someone, although I believe this decree to be out of date. A ruler should be permitted to choose a worthy partner on his or her own timeframe.”

“And Lender?” she asked.

“Has no connections to the crown. He’s not in line.” Not if he had anything to say about it.

Spencer nodded behind her. “Is that your last question? The king is very busy and needs to attend to the planning of the Christmas Ball.”

“One more,” she said. “What would you like to tell our readers and your loyal subjects? Any words of wisdom?”

“Yes, I appreciate every one of my subjects and I’m endeavoring to do what’s best for all of them. We are a proud nation and should be proud to be of the kingdom of Lysianna. I am both humble and proud to be your leader and hope to be for many years to come.” God, he needed to work on his speaking skills.

“Thank you.” She stood and shook hands with him. “It’s a pleasure to have interviewed you. So easy.”

“You’re welcome here any time. Thank you for interviewing me.” He stood and watched the team pick up the gear. At least she hadn’t begged him to pose in his crown.

He waited until the crew and interviewer had left, then settled on the chair again. “Spence? Anything else? I need a break.”

Spencer checked the tablet. “You have a meeting with the planning commission for the Christmas festivities. They wish to show you the itinerary for the royal celebrations and will want to incorporate the ball into their plans. They’ve got in mind a rather large bash for the New Year portion of the celebrations.”

“Of course.” He folded his arms and looked out of the window again. “Who is the guy with Emmett? Is he new?”

“Him?” Spencer rubbed his chin. “That’s Nathan Pratt. He works as a tutor and with archives. Seems bright and fair. I’m not sure if he’s gay, but I was told he’d used a surrogate to have his son. The surrogate is one of your subjects, so since the child is half-Lysiannan, Nathan was permitted to live here as he raised the boy.” He eyed Charlie. “Do you wish to meet him?”

“Maybe.” He wasn’t sure if he wanted to make a move. Still, Nathan was handsome in a faraway manner. He must be decent enough with kids if he had one. But would he be dazzled by Charlie’s role as the king and not genuine?

One of the stewards brought in coffee and snacks.

“Thank you,” Charlie said and smiled. “How are you, Cort?”

The steward blushed before he blushed. “I’m well, your highness.”

Charlie clasped his hands together. Cort couldn’t be more than eighteen and looked every bit the young man he had to be. “I have a question. Are you happy here?” He knew Cort’s name, but not much else about him. “To be working for the crown?”

“Will I get sent to the gallows if I answer wrong?” The color drained from Cort’s face. “I’m not supposed to talk to you, am I? And this is a test?”

“You may speak to me,” Charlie said. “I enjoy your company. Feel free to talk to me whenever you like.”

“Wow.” Cort stood tall and clasped his hands together. “You’re nicer than I was told.”

“Who told you I’m mean? No one will die if you’re honest.” Charlie picked up the cup of coffee. “Tell me.”

“Cook. She said you’re grumpy.”

“Only at five in the morning.” He laughed. “Thank you for your honesty and the coffee. I’ll return the cups later. You’re dismissed.”

“Yes, my king.” Cort tripped over his feet as he left the room.

“Nice kid.” Charlie leaned on the chair. “So young and impressionable.”

“They get younger every day,” Spencer said. “He’s a bit young for you.”

“Spence? Seriously?” He crinkled his nose. “I’d like someone closer to my age. Are there any men, late-twenties or early thirties, single and looking to be with a man who wants love, tenderness and a partner? Find that for me and we’ll talk.”

“It gives me a better idea as to what to look for.” Spencer abandoned the tablet on the tray. “Do you want to meet Nathan?”

“He’s got a kid?” Charlie asked. “I wouldn’t turn down someone who happened to be a father.”

“You’re kidding.” Spencer snorted. “What about who will inherit the throne?”

“It’ll be Alistair. That’s already been arranged.” He didn’t see the big deal. “Look, I haven’t found anyone yet and we still have to plan the gala or ball—that the interviewer already knew about. I thought we’d just decided on it.”

“I let her know while you were getting your picture taken.” Spencer shrugged. “It’s going to come out sooner than later.”

“True,” Charlie said. “Focus on the ball.”

“Very good,” Spencer replied. “I’ll be right back.”

Charlie sank onto the carved chair and sighed. What Spencer didn’t understand was that he wanted to find someone. He didn’t want to be lonely, but he needed to find the right person.

He gazed out of the window at Nathan. He had no idea if they’d be compatible or if Nathan would even want to date a king. He might not even be gay. The unknowns didn’t mean Charlie couldn’t gawk at him and consider what could be.

He was a king and deserved a fairy-tale ending, right?

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About the Author

Megan Slayer

Megan Slayer, aka Wendi Zwaduk, is a multi-published, award-winning author of more than one-hundred short stories and novels. She’s been writing since 2008 and published since 2009. Her stories range from the contemporary and paranormal to LGBTQ and BDSM themes. No matter what the length, her works are always hot, but with a lot of heart. She enjoys giving her characters a second chance at love, no matter what the form. She’s been the runner up in the Kink Category at Love Romances Café as well as nominated at the LRC for best author, best contemporary, best ménage and best anthology. Her books have made it to the bestseller lists on

When she’s not writing, Megan spends time with her husband and son as well as three dogs and three cats. She enjoys art, music and racing, but football is her sport of choice.

Find out more about Megan on her website, and sign up for the newsletter here. You can also check out her Blog, Amazon Author Page, Bookbub and Instagram.


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Release Blitz: Dark & Deadly Collection #halloween #bondage #eroticromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

Dark & Deadly Collection

It’s Halloween, and the trick-or-treaters won’t be satisfied with candy. These Halloween-themed BDSM stories are sure to cause a thrill. You’re invited to a fancy dress party in the dungeon and introduced to Doms even scarier than their costumes…will it be love at first strike?

Under His Dominance by Jasmine Hill

Can he keep her forever, under his dominance?

Asmodeus is the Archdemon of lust. Ever since he became a fallen angel, he’s been walking the earth, inciting and encouraging lust and lechery amongst mankind. In his guise of Barrett Lord, he rules over an empire of clubs that cater to the lustful urges and fetishes of humans.

When he spots Arianell Monroe at his annual Halloween party, he determines to have her. Her angelic beauty and innocence are too much for him to ignore. He wants to take her purity as his own, corrupt her and ruin her for any other man. And he’s going to start by introducing her to his private BDSM dungeon.

Arianell is fascinated by BDSM, but her shyness, coupled with the reactions others have had to her albinism, has kept her from exploring her curiosity. But something about Barrett Lord puts her instantly at ease. She’s immediately attracted to the powerful and dominant club owner and finds herself quickly sucked into his heady orbit. She naturally submits to his commanding alpha presence and sexual dominance but determines to set her heart and head against him. Even she knows that he’s not the sort of man who will commit—to anything.

Arianell is special and Asmodeus wants to keep her, but to do so, he’ll have to risk everything. Will she agree to his plans? Or will he lose her forever?

Reader advisory: This book contains instances of possessive behavior as well as pain play.

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Reclaimed by Her Alphas by Jayce Carter

Halloween is the perfect time for these three alphas to give their omega a treat…

When Claire fell in love with Bryce, Joshua and Kaidan, she thought she’d found her happily ever after, but her life seems more trick than treat these days. A year after having their daughter, Claire barely recognizes her own mates. Between their new roles as parents, their exhaustion as they raise a child and Claire’s fears about how her body has changed, they’ve become little more than roommates.

Hoping to give them all a break, Claire throws a Halloween Party for the alphas and omegas of their group. The tension between Claire, Bryce, Joshua and Kaidan is on display, and their friends are willing to intervene for the good of the foursome, even if that means risqué clothing, a bag of toys and more than a little manipulation.

Claire and her alphas finally get some time alone…but they’ll have to risk taking off the masks they’ve been hiding behind if they hope to turn their scary story into a Halloween treat.

Reader advisory: This book is linked to The Omega’s Alphas series.

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Show Me Something Good by Hannah Murray

Kit Howard likes to watch. Nathaniel Saint likes to watch Kit…

Kit Howard loves everything about her job except for one: Nathaniel Saint. Her boss’s grumpy, grouchy twin brother and co-owner of the company is both a thorn in her side and fodder for her fantasies. She does her best to stay out of his way—having a crush on the boss is the reason why the previous executive assistant left, and while that worked out okay for her, Kathleen isn’t willing to risk her job for sex, no matter how good it might be.

Since sexy, sulky Nate isn’t an option, she’s forced to consider others. Thanks to a friend, she has an invitation to a “private” Halloween party held by the local BDSM club. While Kit has no interest in bondage, pain, or the power games of BDSM, she does have one kink—she likes to watch. And the glorious thing about the kink scene is that it’s often on glorious display. scene is one of the few places where voyeurs are welcomed along with everyone else.

Including, apparently, the grumpy, grouchy Nathaniel Saint. Because he just walked in the door, and he’s headed straight for her.

Reader advisory: This book is linked to the Perfect Taboo series.

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About the Authors

Jasmine Hill

Jasmine was born in Australia and grew up in Sydney. She currently lives in Madrid, Spain with her husband.

She adores reading all genres but in particular she enjoys erotic romance novels and thrillers.

Jasmine loves writing and is always looking for new ideas for stories that will provoke inner passions, stimulate the senses and ignite the imagination.

Her interests include cooking, traveling, yoga and skiing.

She has won some short story competitions and is now excited to have started publishing her erotic romance stories through Totally Bound Publishing.

Jayce Carter

Jayce Carter lives in Southern California with her husband and two spawns. She originally wanted to take over the world but realized that would require wearing pants. This led her to choosing writing, a completely pants-free occupation. She has a fear of heights yet rock climbs for fun and enjoys making up excuses for not going out and socializing. You can learn more about her at her website.

Hannah Murray

Hannah has been reading romance novels since she was young enough to have to hide them from her mother. She lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband—former Special Forces and an OR nurse who writes sci-fi fantasy and acts as In-House Expert on matters pertaining to weapons, tactics, the military, medical conditions and How Dudes Think—and their daughter, who takes after her father.

Find out more about Hannah at her website and blog.


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Release Blitz: Dream Demon by Samantha Cayto #Gay #eroticromance #halloween @pridepublishing @firstforromance

Dream Demon By Samantha Cayto

General Release Date: 26th October 2021

Word Count: 33,173
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 123



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Book Description

Sometimes nightmares turn into dreams come true.

Colby is new to the BDSM scene and longs for a Master to take control and show him the pleasure that can be found in pain. When he receives a Halloween invitation to play from a mysterious man, he takes the risk of delving into an unknown world.

Sebastian is a blood demon masquerading as a human Dom. Unlike others of his kind, he strives to fill his need ethically instead of preying on humans. He seeks consent to satisfy his urges and knows how to woo Colby with patience. The only thing he fears is whether or not his new sub will be able to accept him as he truly is.

Trusting Sebastian is easy, even as Colby’s dreams are plagued by an unknown shadow that attracts him as much as it scares him. Sebastian needs to build trust before revealing his true nature. He thinks he has all the time he wants, but he’s about to learn that even demons cannot control their fate.

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of blood, pain and wax play.


The creature gained on him. As Colby dashed through the winding, narrow alleys, the sound of the steady, measured steps behind him grew louder. No matter how fast he ran, his heart thumping, his breath labored, his pursuer grew closer, not farther away. He bit back a whimper, determined not to show the terror that wanted to scream out. There was nowhere to escape to, no end to the twisting path he traveled. He would not make it. He would be caught. Then what? A shiver racked his body. Pain with a hit of pleasure weaved within. That reaction scared him more than anything else. He strained to run faster. The hairs on the back of his neck stood up as hot breath wafted over him. The scent of it should have been repulsive, fetid and evil, yet it wasn’t. It smelled exotic, like toasted spices for mulled wine. Instead of shivering with fear, he felt almost cocooned in some safe, warm place—with a spike of arousal. It made no sense.

What is wrong with me?

Colby bolted up into a sitting position, his breath caught and pain lanced through his chest. His heart pounded in a skipping tattoo that scared him into thinking he might be having a heart attack. He rubbed his palm over his sweat-coated pec and tried to rein in his breathing. Just a dream. Just a dream. That reassurance wasn’t enough to calm his body. Logic and truth be damned. The dream had felt so real and vivid, both the fright and the excitement. The evidence of the conflicting effects was on display. Below his ribcage against which his heart knocked, the twisted bedsheet was tented by his cock. That was nothing new. It was how he woke every morning—hard. But he wasn’t usually so achingly so, his balls cramping with the need for release.

Instead of waiting to deal with his dick in the shower, Colby wriggled his hand under the covers and clasped the shaft with clammy fingers. A few quick tugs had him coming with such force that he doubled over. Fragments from his dream danced inside his head as he worked his cock, goosing the pleasure and forcing him to stifle a moan. He didn’t want his roommate to hear—not that Marquis would care. Colby had never met anyone less inhibited than him. He could hear Marquis puttering in the kitchen, the apartment being small. If it were summer, the guy would be buck-naked, wearing only an apron to protect his precious assets. Colby was different, though. He couldn’t quite shake all the primness of his Midwestern upbringing.

Besides, it was almost shameful how aroused he’d been. Although he’d worked hard to accept his submissive and masochistic needs as nothing to feel guilty about, something about how he’d almost welcomed the nameless, faceless thing that had chased him in his dreams brought back those early feelings of remorse. BDSM was a consensual and often loving form of play. There wasn’t supposed to be real fear. Doms weren’t truly predatory, and yet…whoever had chased him in his dreams was different from any man he’d ever seen playing with ecstatic subs. There had been a menace that he’d instinctively felt and fled from. He should have only wanted to escape, but part of him had wanted to be caught.

“It’s just Halloween,” Colby muttered.

The pseudo-holiday had been a verboten day in his childhood, an alarming celebration of the devil and all that was evil. His family had prayed for those foolish people who thought it was a silly night for dress-up and getting free candy. For him, however, it was liberation day. Six months ago, he’d finally come out of the one remaining closet in his life and had declared that he was a masochistic sub yearning for a Master to take firm control of him. He’d spent an amazing night in the one local dungeon in the Boston area, watching others play and longing to join them—not that he’d had the courage to approach any of the enticing men dressed in black leather… They’d all been occupied with boys of their own. It had still been thrilling. Too bad they weren’t holding another open house this night. Things might have been different. As it was, he hoped to find some similar fun being held somewhere—or perhaps if he dressed in the clothing he’d purchased a few days ago at a sex shop, he might attract the right kind of man.

“Yeah, right. As if you’ve gotten any braver over the summer.”

The self-admonishment chased away the last remnants of his dream. Colby untangled himself from the sheet and stripped it off the bed before heading to the bathroom. He stuffed the soiled bedding in the hamper and hopped into the shower. That hot spray beating down perked him up and he would have loved to have lingered there. But water cost money and he and Marquis had precious little, so, he washed quickly and got out.

Wiping away the condensation on the mirror, he stared at his own reflection. Even wet, his nearly white-blond hair color was visible, and there was still a smattering of freckles on his pale cheekbones. Marquis had said when they’d first met that Colby was the whitest white boy he’d ever seen. There was no denying that, but Colby also knew that he was prettier than perhaps a boy should be. Certainly the bullies back home had thought so, jeering at him while they’d tried to push his face into their laps. It’ll be just like having a girl blow me, the instigator had said to be clear that, unlike Coby, he wasn’t gay. The taunting echoed in Colby’s head as it did from time-to-time, even though he was miles away from that life and comfortable in his own skin now. And he’d escaped—that assault and others, the endless praying of the congregation trying to make him ‘right’ with the Lord, as well as his family’s condemnation. He was an adult, living on his own and making the rules by which he lived. Looking back accomplished nothing.

He returned to his literal closet of a room and threw on jeans and an old sweater. The apartment was chilly. Heat was another expense they had to manage and growing up on a Nebraska farm meant that he could handle the cold. Marquis, poor guy, would be miserable for the next six months. Following delicious smells, Colby found his roommate plating up breakfast.

“Is that French toast?” Perhaps the smell of cinnamon had influenced his dream. Yeah, that’s it. Appreciation for his friend’s cooking had infiltrated the more menacing aspects of his visions.

Marquis put the plates on the counter that separated the galley kitchen from the rest of the room that served as their communal living space. “What can I say? I woke up with a fierce taste for it.”

Colby poured a mug of coffee, laced it with a cheap cream substitute and sat in his usual spot. He downed half of his coffee before forking a piece of his meal. “Hmm, thanks. This will fortify me for work and keep away the temptation to get something there.” He had a late afternoon shift at the coffee house he worked in, and even with his employee discount, the pastries cost more than he could budget for.

Marquis joined him. “Yeah well, I’m due at the gym in an hour. I’m going to have to get in some extra workout time of my own if I want to keep this off my hips. No one likes seeing a chunky guy mixing their healthy smoothies.”

Colby snorted. As thin as he was, Marquis was even more so without even trying that hard. A few pieces of French toast weren’t going to change that. “And I should go for a run before starting my shift.” He wouldn’t be done until closing at ten at night, and there was no way he wanted to run by himself so late. The South End of Boston was a pretty safe neighborhood, but still…

“Mm-m.” Marquis gestured toward the front door with his mouth full. After swallowing, he said, “I got the mail earlier and there’s something interesting for you.”

“Me?” Colby frowned. The only mail he got was junk. His bills were paperless, and no one wrote to him…ever.

“Yup, I was tempted to open it myself. If it’s junk, someone spent a lot on it.”

Curiosity had him leaving his delicious breakfast and going to the small table where they put the mail. He spotted the envelope immediately. It was black and thick, with gold lettering in a fancy script with his name and address clearly written. It was obviously for him unless some other Colby Taylor had lived in this very apartment at some point. He reached for it, then paused. A strange feeling stole over him, as if he were about to take some monumental step—that once he opened this letter, his life would never be the same.


He snatched up the envelope before he could think any more of it and flipped it over. The back flap was sealed in an old-fashioned way with black wax and short red ribbons dangling below. A stylized S and R were embossed within the wax. Colby held it close to his face to study the unusual markings. As he stared at them, he felt as if he were falling into some dark tunnel, being pulled into the seal, into the envelope itself. His world tilted for just a second before he blinked the feeling away and took a deep breath to ground himself.

Too much caffeine, too quickly, that’s all.

“What’s it say?” Marquis’ impatient voice called from the counter.

Colby broke the seal quickly before he could think better of it and pulled out a stiff invitation written in blood-red ink on cream paper bordered in black.

Mister Colby William Taylor,

You are hereby invited to play at a party, to be held at the Mayflower Dungeon this All Hallows’ Eve at 9 p.m. Dress optional

Come if you dare

Sebastian Reeves

There was no address given. Then again, there didn’t need to be. He knew where to find the place. His heart pounded, much as it had in the aftermath of his dream. The French toast sat heavy on his now slightly queasy stomach. But that wasn’t the only reaction to seeing the invitation. His dick had hardened instantly, pressing painfully against his fly with aching balls, as if he hadn’t come a mere fifteen minutes before. His hands shook slightly as he grasped the card and the envelope fluttered to the floor.

“Come on. What’s it say?” Marquis snatched the invitation from Colby and whistled. “Holy shit! Isn’t this the place you went last April?” When Colby could only nod, his roommate gave him a sly smile. “You didn’t tell me you made a friend there.”

Colby blinked slowly. “I didn’t. I-I just watched. I don’t know who this guy is or why he’d send me an invitation to play.” He remembered something. “Oh, I did give my contact information, because you can’t get in without filling out a waiver. I never heard from them, and I didn’t expect to.” The prices for joining the club were too steep for him, so it had been a relief not to get solicitations in the months since. There was no sense in torturing himself—ha ha—with something he couldn’t have.

“You must have met this Reeves guy. Why else would he invite you?” Marquis pressed.

Colby shook his head. “No, I didn’t. Other than the man at the entrance, I didn’t speak to anyone. I have no idea who he is.”

Marquis handed him back the invitation. “Huh. Well, you obviously made an impression on this dude. I can’t imagine why it would take months to contact you, though. Maybe he just got out of a relationship or he’s a Halloween freak.”

“Is there such a thing? I mean, is it a fetish or something?” There was a lot about the world of BDSM that Colby still didn’t know about.

His roommate shrugged. “How would I know? But isn’t there a fetish for everything? What are you going to wear?”

Colby frowned. “I’m not sure I’m going.” As tempting as it was to check out the party, there was a distant alarm bell ringing inside his head.

“Seriously? I thought this was your jam. Why wouldn’t you?” Marquis stooped to sweep the envelope off the floor and waved it in front of Colby’s face. “And this takes bank. I bet the dude’s from Beacon Hill or one of the flush suburbs. It couldn’t hurt to have a rich boyfriend.”

“Oh, please. You know I’m not looking for a sugar-daddy.” But he was looking for a play partner, if only for one night. His cock pulsed at the idea of finally being under a man’s control and feeling the exquisite pleasure of pain inflicted by someone who knew what they were doing.

‘Oh please’, yourself,” Marquis scoffed. “Aren’t you the one longing for a husband and a dog in some nice condo around here?”

Colby smacked the guy in the arm without any heat. “That’s not the same thing.”

“Isn’t it? In those dreams of yours, do you still sling lattes for minimum wage and measly tips? Just because he’s put a ring on it, doesn’t mean he isn’t a sugar-daddy.”

“You’re such a cynic.” Even as he laid the charge against his friend, Colby had to admit there was truth in it. When he thought about his future, the idea of kneeling and taking punishment in a home that Colby kept for his Master made his heart stutter with joy.

“I’m not sure I’m going,” he reiterated, even though, before the last word was out of his mouth, he knew that was a lie.

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About the Author

Samantha Cayto

Samantha Cayto is a Boston-area native who practices as a business lawyer by day while writing erotic romance at night—the steamier the better. She likes to push the envelope when it comes to writing about passion and is delighted other women agree that guy-on-guy sex is the hottest ever.

She lives a typical suburban life with her husband, three kids and four dogs. Her children don’t understand why they can’t read what she writes, but her husband is always willing to lend her a hand—and anything else—when she needs to choreograph a scene.


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Release Blitz: Skeletal Equation by A.E. Lister #Gay #eroticromance #bondage @firstfirromance @pridepublishing

Skeletal Equation by AE Lister

Word Count: 30,378
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 135



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Book Description


What do medical kink, pup play and Halloween have in common? Scott Vernier. A visit to the local leather bar offers an unexpected treat!

Scott Vernier is lonely and bored, but he’d rather sit at home and mope than go out. A promise to a friend forces him to attend the annual Halloween party at Sonny’s, his local leather bar. Amid the tacky costumes and seasonal desperation, Scott meets two people he never expected to encounter.

Can a man well-versed in medical kink and his leather-pup boyfriend introduce Scott to a whole new world of illicit pleasure?

When Dr. Jericho Griffin gets down to business, Scott finds himself responding in explosive ways.

Reader advisory: This book features discussion only of scat, enemas and needle play. There are scenes of pup play and a scene involving voyeurism.


The scariest thing about Halloween currently was how little I cared for it. As a younger gay man, I’d have planned my costume for months, figuring out the sexiest way to be a zombie, a vampire or any of the other popular standards, and I’d have attended at least three parties to try to get laid. Now I was too old and jaded to care about any of that.

But it was a week until Halloween, and I had no excuses. I’d told Duke I’d be at the local gay leather bar for the annual party. He was scheduled to bartend that night and I’d foolishly committed to being there, at least for part of the evening.

I hated Halloween.

I’d loved it as a child, and as a teen and young adult, it had been an excuse to get smashed and flirt with people I’d be too intimidated by otherwise. But now, as an adult? Halloween seemed like a waste of time. I definitely had better things to do.

Or did I?

It was true that I hadn’t socialized a lot recently, because my job was exhausting, even though it fulfilled me. As an anthropology professor at the local college, I had classes to teach most days and students to support during office hours. Then there was the prep time and marking… I’d managed to fit my life into an organized and workable routine, but I was a busy man.

I had promised Duke I’d try to have some fun, simply to get him off my back and stop him from calling me ‘old before my time’—although the annual Halloween Ball at Sonny’s wasn’t exactly my idea of a great time.

For one thing, I didn’t have a costume. For another thing, I didn’t want to wear one.

But costumes were compulsory for this event, so I had to make at least a minimal effort. I had a T-shirt, somewhere, with glow-in-the-dark bones on it. If I could find it, I’d wear that and say I was a skeleton. Yeah, that was pretty dumb, but the guys who worked the door knew me, and I was pretty sure they’d let me in. It paid to be friends with the bartender, even though he pressured me to be more social.

I liked Duke a lot. He was a bear of a man but the sweetest guy anyone would ever meet. I’d gotten to know him when he’d taken one of my anthropology courses. He’d invited me for dinner once the semester had ended, and he and his cute-as-hell boyfriend Julius had cooked me the most amazing spaghetti Bolognese I’d ever eaten. It was a fast friendship with them both after that. Julius worked in IT and made good money, so Duke could bartend a few nights a week and spend the rest of his time making small sculptures out of reclaimed ‘junk’ and taking occasional classes of interest to him.

I didn’t have many close friends, and I considered Duke and Julius to be an important part of my life, especially as I hadn’t been able to find a partner to join me on this questionable journey. I’d had the occasional boyfriend, but the long-term bond had never become anything significant before either I or the other guy decided things weren’t working. I wondered if I had the temperament for a permanent relationship.

Some people were meant to be single and maybe I was one of them.

I dug through three drawers before I found my skeleton shirt scrunched in the corner. Great, it will be wrinkled as well as dumb. Ah well, there was nothing to do about it. I wasn’t gonna fucking iron it. I didn’t even think I owned an iron. Ironing seemed like the most useless and annoying chore on this planet, and I wasn’t going to be a part of it.

I slid the shirt over my head and stepped in front of the mirror. It fit a little tight, but that was okay. That just showed off my slim build to my advantage and made some of the wrinkles disappear. The sleeves were plenty long and the fabric gathered slightly at my wrists. I pulled down on the bottom edge of the shirt. It wasn’t too bad but would probably show skin if I had to reach my arms up. I wasn’t planning to do that, so it should be fine.

The bones glowed in the dimness of the room, even though the shirt had been in my drawer. I’d wear it around the house so it could absorb more light. I’d have to be careful not to spill anything on it while doing the dishes, but the more I wore it, the quicker the rest of the wrinkles would come out.

Luckily, I was able to load the dishes and wipe the counter without incident, and when I checked myself again, I was pleased with my half-assed attempt at participation. It would have to do, and at least I looked sexy. I’d put on my brown faux-leather pants that hugged my hips and showed off my long, slim legs. I was of average height and my black hair had begun to streak with gray, but I was fit and strong and didn’t look half bad tonight, if I was honest. Maybe the visit to the popular club would be worth it and I’d be able to bring someone home for the evening. It had been a while since I’d seen any action. I didn’t want to contemplate how long.

I went to the bathroom and used some gel to muss my hair into an artfully untidy style. At the last minute, I applied some black eyeliner that I saved for special occasions when I was feeling it. Even though my enthusiasm for the Halloween party was negligible, my interest in seducing a warm body for a few hours began to rise.

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About the Author

AE Lister

AE Lister/Elizabeth Lister is a Canadian non-binary author with a vivid imagination and a head full of unique and interesting characters. They have published 10 books, one of which received an Honorable Mention from the National Leather Association – International for excellence in SM/Leather/Fetish writing.

“Sensual and visceral BDSM.” –

Find out more about AE Lister at their website, and follow them on Instagram and Patreon.


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Release Blitz: La Petite Mort by Pelaam #horror #paranormal #LGBTQ @pridepublishing @firstforromance

La Petite Mort by Pelaam

Book 4 in the The Devil’s in the Details series

General Release Date: 19th October 2021

Word Count: 45,548
Book Length: SHORT NOVEL
Pages: 195



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Book Description

The little death… Sometimes you never wake up.

When Samael, an incubus-possessed witch, escapes Garen and Luke, leaving not just another victim but also one of their own injured in the process, Garen is determined to track down the demon.

Its trail vanishes when it leaves New Zealand, only to be eventually picked up again by a team working in the UK.

Invited to assist them, Garen and Luke travel to England to meet the other team of investigators—Emery, his husband Alex and their friend Kadin. They also meet an unusual and unofficial team member, Grim.

The incubus has gone to ground in the country home of Steven Huntleigh, rich playboy and president of the Hellfire Club.

Emery, Luke and Kadin infiltrate the club and Kadin risks flirting with the incubus.

When the time comes to battle the demon, will the team be able to resist its lure—or will they become additional victims of its insatiable appetite?


From his vantage point at the back of the room, Luke watched Garen as his husband paced back and forth, gesticulating sharply and trying to get the woman across the table to engage with him.

But, far from cooperating, she looked increasingly more irritated. Luke stifled his sigh, knowing that the sound would only annoy her further. It’s not like I’m surprised. Melani-Leigh Waru-Richards was a socialite—rich, attractive, at least superficially, and used to others doing what she wanted, not vice versa. Her reputation had preceded her—arrogant, spoiled, demanding and downright rude.

But she’s also one of our three prime candidates for dying at the hands of a demon or demonic entity on the night of the upcoming full moon.

With Thomas’ approval, Garen had brought her to their headquarters where he and Luke were hoping to persuade her of the danger and have her agree to protective care until the moon waned. The full moon is just two nights away. As much as she’s proving to be a stupid, stubborn fool, I still don’t want her to be another victim.

“We wouldn’t be wasting your time, our time or anyone else’s if we didn’t believe the threat was very real, Ms. Waru-Richards.” Garen stopped pacing, slammed his hands down on the table and leaned toward the woman. It was a tactic that had worked many times in the past, but not with Melani-Leigh, who pursed her lips tightly and glowered at him before rising slowly from her seat.

“Inspector Morloc—”

“The name is Warnock.” Garen growled the words and Luke quickly went to his husband’s side, laying a hand at the small of his back, wanting to defuse the situation. Now that he was closer to the woman, he could see why she’d been described as a ‘plastic princess’.

Although her face appeared wrinkle-free, her hands told another story. Luke already knew her hair owed more to extensions than natural tresses. False eyelashes, fake tan, synthetic nails, artificial hair and silicone breasts. But for someone who’s in her late forties, from a distance she could pass as still in her twenties.

“All we’re asking you to do is to allow us to put you somewhere safe for the duration of the full moon. It’s just for a couple of nights.” Luke turned on all his persuasive powers, but Melani-Leigh simply folded her arms, her posture ramrod straight.

“You don’t even know for sure that I’m even in any danger, do you? Well, do you?” She looked from Luke to Garen then back at Luke. “Exactly as I thought. No, you don’t. You don’t know anything.”

“We know two people have already died, and we’d like to prevent a third.” Garen drew himself to his full height and glared down at Melani-Leigh.

“If we could be more specific, we would be,” Luke added as he rubbed soothing circles on Garen’s back.

“I have two very important functions to attend.” Melani-Leigh flicked at imaginary dust on her designer jacket sleeve. “Both involve charities that I personally sponsor—and not only am I expected to be there, I shall be. There will be top celebrities in attendance. Look… I’m no fool. I have a hand-selected team of expert security personnel who will be with me at all times. I can assure you that I won’t dismiss your concerns, but they won’t stop my life, either. No one but those closest to me, or most trusted, are permitted anywhere near me. I take it that this…creature doesn’t attack in full view of hundreds of witnesses.”

“No, but—” Garen started, and Luke winced as Melani-Leigh held up a perfectly manicured hand.

“No. You said it yourself. I will invite no strangers into my home. I’ll even salt the doors and windows and burn sage.” She cocked an eyebrow at Luke. “See? I’m aware of protections.”

“There’s nothing we can say to persuade you otherwise?” Luke asked. We can hardly threaten to lock her up if she won’t accept our help, and it is possible that she isn’t the intended victim.

“No. And if I thought I was in danger I’d have already done something about it. In my position, I have to be mindful of stalkers, overzealous fans, potential thieves and would-be kidnappers. Tell you what…” Melani-Leigh reached into the Gucci purse that she’d set on the table and drew out two gold-embossed invitations. “I’ll have you added to the guest list, Inspector.” She scribbled quickly on each card. “There we are, Inspector Warnock and guest. You can keep an eye on things right through the evening.”

“Thank you.” Garen accepted the invitations, passing them straight to Luke without as much as a glance. “We won’t keep you. There’s nothing more to be said.”

“Look… I appreciate you have a job to do, but believe me, my security is second to none. I pay for them to be the best.” Melani-Leigh hooked the purse over her wrist and sauntered to the door. “See you on Friday night.” Without a backward glance, she left the room, the door closing softly behind her.

For a moment there was silence in the room and Luke finally allowed himself the heavy sigh he’d previously banked.

“Fucking arrogant idiot.” Garen snapped out the words, his expression a mix of irritation and concern. “‘I pay for them to be the best’.”

“I suppose we could have shown her the desiccated corpses we have.” Luke sat on the edge of the table. “But she’d have probably put in a complaint against us. At least we can be on hand.” Luke fanned the invites and Garen snorted.

“But we can’t have a protective circle or a backup team ready to support us.”

“No.” Luke ran his hand through his hair. “Or can we?”

“What?” Garen turned to face Luke. “How?”

“If Thomas will throw his weight behind us, I’m sure that we can arrange with the hotel manager to allow us to have a room where we can set up a protective circle…just as a precaution. She was right in one respect. Neither of the victims were attacked in the open. One was in bed, and the other was sprawled across a kitchen table.”

“And both were naked.” Garen cocked his head. “Which suggests to me that sex may be involved. We couldn’t tell anything useful from the bodies. They were far too desiccated.

“Which could point toward a succubus or an incubus.” Luke sighed. “One that doesn’t care whether its victims are male or female. So many ifs, buts and maybes. We need to narrow down the search for ‘what’. Then we may find the ‘who’.”

“No signs of forced entry. Nothing out of place or missing. In both instances the victim’s friends even described them as very happy.” Garen rubbed his chin. “No. There was another phrase.”

“A new lease on life.” Luke snapped his fingers.

“Yes.” Garen nodded slowly. “That’s it. Over the past few weeks, they’d had a new lease on life—almost identical in both cases.”

“Then I suggest we find a few close friends of Melani-Leigh’s and see if she’s having a new lease on life. If so, then she’s the one we’ll target, and I’ll organize teams for the others.”

“Perfect.” Luke pecked a kiss to Garen’s cheek. “And I’ll make sure we have protections and spells for dealing with an incubus or a succubus.”

“Take care out there. Keep in touch. I’ll see you later. Come back here when you’ve got what you need.” Garen pulled Luke into a tight hug, and Luke wrapped his arms around his husband’s waist.

“I will.” Luke tilted his head and Garen gave him the kiss he craved. For a moment Luke lost himself in the feel, taste and scent of his husband. Reluctantly he slowly eased back. “I won’t be too long.”

“Good. By the time you return, I’ll have the teams organized and get Thomas to deal with the hotel hosting our potential victim.”

“Get schematics. We can map the place out and ensure we have everything covered.” Luke grinned up at Garen. “If the demonic force strikes there, we’ll have enough protections in place to deal with it.”

“Will do.” Garen gave a curt nod, then spun Luke around, swatting his ass to make him move forward. “Let’s get this started. I’ll feel happier when you’re back here.’

“I won’t be long.” Luke set off at a trot. The sooner I get going, the sooner I’ll be back.

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About the Author


Living in clean, green New Zealand, Pelaam is a multi-published author of gay romance and erotica.

When not working at writing, Pelaam likes to indulge in her other passions of cookery and wine appreciation.


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Release Blitz: The Game Changer by Jacqueline Snowe #sportsromance #eroticromance @totally_bound @firstforromance

The Game Changer by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 2 in the Cleat Chasers series

Word Count: 76,673
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 298



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Book Description

Pretending to date your best friend is always a good idea…right? Wrong.

Greta Aske has a lot on her mind, and a string of bad dates has her giving up on men, at least for the time being. Her life contains a little too much drama, meaning she needs a break and to save money and get good grades. The perfect solution presents itself—pretend to date the campus playboy. That’ll keep the guys away for sure.

Aaron Hill is desperate to save his baseball career because, with his dad fighting cancer, he damn well knows he can’t ask for a single penny from his parents. Baseball is his past, present and future, so when a scandal threatens his chance in the MLB, he turns to his best friend for help. A fake relationship will keep him out of trouble. It’s perfect, really. Greta’s taking a break from dating and Aaron needs to focus on training.

Nothing could go wrong…as long as neither falls for the other. But when lines are crossed, what’s real and fake blurs and the two are forced to face their fears. Could Greta be the game changer Aaron needs?

Reader advisory: This book was previously released by Finch Books.


Action movies are full of shit, feeding us fake information our entire lives. For instance, when a fight breaks out in a bar, there’s no Mark Wahlberg look-a-like to rescue the damsel in distress. Second the sound of flesh hitting flesh is repulsive and meaty. There are no wooshes or bangs or ka-pows. Nope. It’s just disgusting.

I cringed at the smack and crashing of a fist meeting the face of my date. That’s right. I always picked the best of the best when it came to dating and tonight was no different. Todd, who had blood dripping down his eye, chin and nose, had made the bold decision to ask me out. I’d accepted, like a fool, and would live to regret this night for all eternity.

“Where is my money, Todd?” The broad-shouldered man with a beard longer than my hair pummeled his meaty fists into my date’s face. “Where the feck you keepin’ it?”

No response. Burly Guy didn’t like that. He grunted, swung his arm back past the table and hit Todd square in the nose. What happened in my past life for me to witness this?

No one got up to help. No one moved. They all watched with half-smiles on their faces and I knew in the pit of my stomach I needed to get the hell out. Like, ten minutes ago. I slowly slid my trembling hand into my purse to find my phone, but Mr. Burly heard me. He whipped his face toward mine, the terrifying glint to his eyes making me gasp. I gulped, the fear suddenly very real.

“You know this fecking asshole?” he barked at me. Countless gazes followed his voice and now stared at me. They wanted a show and I was so not the person for the role. My chin trembled as I shook my head.

“N-n-no. I j-just met him tonight.” I clutched my phone to my chest. I would use it as a weapon if necessary, although I had no fucking clue what damage I could do on this beast of a man.

He ran his fat tongue over his lips and studied me. I stood stock-still, my spine straight as a rod. “I think it’s time for you to go, doll. My boss ain’t gunna like me lettin’ ya leave, but your blonde hair don’t fit in here. Get the feck out and don’t come back.”

I nodded, glancing one more time at Todd. My gut screamed to get out, but I had been raised Catholic. Do I leave my epic failure of a date to get killed? Do I call the cops?

Mr. Burly thought I took too long and put his grimy fingers around my wrist. I squealed, yanking it out of his touch.

“Get gone, girl.” He kicked open the door and threw me outside. I stood on a rundown street with one streetlight working correctly. The others flashed and made a high-pitched buzzing sound that sent chills down my spine. “Fuck. Fucking. Fuck.”

I called my best friend with shaking fingers and snot running down my face. Oh, did I mention I had blood on me that wasn’t my own? I gagged, looking at the splatters. The phone rang and rang again. I loved Callie to death, but if that bitch didn’t answer right then, I would get her for it. Big-time. Because what the fuck? It appeared the downward spiral my life had begun a month ago still had a way to go before hitting pure rock bottom. Nothing topped this story, as long as I got home alive.

“Give me my fecking money!” A booming voice traveled through the closed door. My longtime sixth sense had sent warning after warning all day and I’d chosen to ignore it. This is my own damn fault.

I gripped my phone tighter and took a deep breath. Count to eight. Make a box with your breathing. It did me no good and my fingers still shook. After three failed calls to Callie, I called the other number I knew by heart. Aaron Hill answered after the first ring with his obnoxious and playful voice.

“G-spot, what’s crackin’? Finally calling me for a booty call?” His voice had the power to make me smile and roll my eyes simultaneously. This was not that time.

“I need you to come get me.” My voice shook as the shouting picked up. Why had I let Todd convince me this place was cool and a ‘real biker bar’? Standing alone on the dark country road made it feel more like a place where girls went missing than a legit biker hangout. I fell for it. Dumbass.

“Where the hell are you?” His good-natured tone shifted and I imagined his steel eyes going dark. “It’s past midnight. Shit, G, are you alone?”

“Uh, pretty much.” I sent him the address while still on the phone. “I texted you the place. I’m calling in my favor.”

“Jesus, Greta.” He let out a string of cuss words. “Why the fuck are you all the way out there?”

“A date gone bad.” Shame filled my chest, regret chasing it. The feelings had my throat closing. Tears weren’t far behind.

“Goddamn it. I’m on my way. Stay on the phone with me. I swear, I’m going to wring your neck. I hate this shit.” A door slammed—he’d just gotten into his car. After a minute of silence, he sucked in a breath. “Are you at Dirty Matt’s? Please say no. Tell me no, right now, Greta.”

The neon signed mocked me, Dirty Matt’s, blinking over and over. “I’m at Dirty Matt’s.”

“Jesus Christ.” His deep voice got so low, so calm, I made a vow to end all my plans for dating. His anger and disappointment in me were well deserved.

I gulped. Ever since my childhood best friend Callie had found love the year before, I’d wanted to try it. She’d fought it, but seeing how damn happy she had been all year and how she’d grown into herself had motivated me. I was damn happy for her and in no way jealous. I just yearned to have the closeness she had with her boyfriend, Zade.

Okay, so all the longing and searching had led me to a series of bad, awful and miserable dates. Not one had clicked. Not one had ended with the promise for more. And, not one has ended with a guy acting like a gentleman. Apparently, I had a stamp on my head that read, I tend to date losers. And, now, I could add I dated felons. It was the only explanation I could muster why Todd had brought me here, and why they’d beaten the shit out of him.

“I’m twenty minutes out and I’m beyond pissed at you. You know the rep this place has? Do you?” His deep voice held nothing but rage and worry. I closed my eyes and leaned against the wall. I had known about the reputation, but I’d wanted an adventure. Todd rode a motorcycle. He had tattoos and looked as good as sin. I wanted, even an inkling if possible, of the happiness Callie felt. Is that so bad?

Yes. I shivered.

Aaron’s shaking voice pulled me from my self-pitying thoughts. “Greta! Did you know and still go there?”

Shit. He was past mad. “Yeah.”

“Why? Tell me why. I know shit hasn’t been great for you recently, but stop with this self-destruction crap. I can’t watch you do this.”

The squealing tires informed me he was close. His dark SUV sped down the road on a mission, the headlights showcasing how wretched this place looked. He pulled up to the spot right in front of Dirty Matt’s and threw open his door. He stormed out, his anger evident on his handsome face.

“Aaron, look—”

“You asshole,” he said, yanking me into his arms. “You worried the hell out of me. I lost ten pounds on the drive here.”

“Aaron,” I managed to squeak out before he pressed my face into his chest. “I’m okay.”

“Just, let me be.”

So, we stood like that for at least three minutes. His ridiculously large frame towered over me, but not in the way Mr. Burly back there had. Aaron was different. His body was sculpted from hours and hours in the gym. My arms barely fit around his middle, but I tried anyway. He squeezed me one last time and broke our hug. His gray eyes still held on to some anger, but relief took over. “Thank you.”

“You’re welcome, G.” His lips turned white while he glanced at the sign. “Now, get in the car.”

I obeyed, not foolish enough to piss him off even more. He opened the passenger door and glared at me until I buckled myself in. Without a word, he shut it and pinched his nose walking to the driver’s side. His cologne clouded the car, the pleasant aroma of wood and leather comforting my nerves.

My body shook, the adrenaline wearing off. Aaron must’ve seen, because he turned on the heat despite the high July temperatures. I understood him well enough to let him stew. We had been close for over two years, but last year things were different. His dad being diagnosed with cancer had made the Aaron we all knew and loved change and we had grown closer and closer. Callie was my girl for life, but I couldn’t envision a future without knowing Aaron would be there. He understood me, respected me and pushed me to be better. He was allergic to feelings and emotions while I was forever giving up on men. Our friendship worked.

He drove the silent, dark path back to campus, one hand on the wheel and the other repeatedly making a fist. I blamed myself for his anger. He had enough to worry about and now picking me up… Remorse filled my chest and my eyes stung. “I’m fucking sorry. I’m an idiot. I don’t know why I went there. I wanted to have an adventure or something.”

He nibbled on his bottom lip, keeping his expression blank. Shit. Instead of remaining silent and letting him deal with it, I’d decided to ramble. Rambling was a favorite sport of mine and I couldn’t stop.

“He had a motorcycle…”

“I thought he would be a winner…”

“I want what Callie and Zade have…”

“I didn’t realize he was a felon or something and would get the shit beat out of him…”

“I had no fucking clue I would get manhandled…”

“Excuse me. What did you just say?” His jaw tightened.

“I didn’t have a clue—”

“No. You said manhandled. Someone hurt you?” His grip on the wheel tightened and I swallowed, loudly.

“Not hurt, no.” I tucked my arms further into myself. A bruise had already formed and Aaron was in no state to know that. “Forget I said anything.”

“I swear to God, Greta.” He pulled off the road and stopped the car. He shook, his large frame tight with pent-up rage. I wanted to crawl into a hole. Pissed-off Aaron could scare the boogeyman into retirement. “Don’t fucking lie to me. Are you hurt?”

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About the Author

Jaqueline Snowe

Jaqueline Snowe lives in Arizona where the ‘dry heat’ really isn’t that bad. She enjoys making lists with colorful Post-it notes and sipping coffee all day. She has been a custodian, a waitress, a landscaper, a coach and a teacher. Her life revolves around binge-watching Netflix, her two dogs who don’t realize they aren’t humans and her wonderful baseball-loving husband.

You can take a look at Jaqueline’s Website and Blog and you can also follow her on Facebook and Twitter.


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Release Blitz: Whisper by Ellen Mint #eroticromance #reverseharem @totally_Bound @firstforromance

Whisper by Ellen Mint

Book 3 in the Coven of Desire series

Word Count: 75,583
Book Length: SUPER NOVEL
Pages: 288



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Book Description

Hot? Check. Romantic? Double check. Alive? Well…

Balancing school, work and two boyfriends is draining enough, but Layla is drowning in her witchcraft duties—literally. Monsters that she has to stop are flocking to her city and she thinks she knows why. But her impetuous incubus and winsome werewolf don’t believe her wild theory.

Spring break gives Layla time away from anatomy tests, but sends her to the public library in her quest to uncover the truth about the elusive Mr. White. She doesn’t know where to start until a mysterious stranger drops a book at her feet. Curious about the attractive man with a punk edge, Layla tries to chase after him, only for her hand to go straight through his shoulder.

Daniel Lu is not the drop-dead gorgeous librarian helping wayward students. He actually dropped dead five years before Layla was born. This wayward ghost forced to haunt the library needs her help to find his killer. Hunting down that man that shot Daniel thirty years ago leads Layla on a wild chase through the city and into the sights of a creature that could kill her with a snap of its claws.

She’s willing to risk it all to help the charming and well-read Daniel even while Ink laughs at her caring about a ghost. What kind of fool would fall for someone who’s little more than a whisper in the dark?

Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of violence, the death of minor characters, injury to main characters, a scene of near-drowning and gun violence.


A cross March wind sheered through the air and straight up my skirt. I latched onto the hemline to keep from flashing the world and stumbled. The back of my ankle twisted, causing the side of my foot to touch the frozen, drink-splattered cement. Disgust crawled up my spine from who knew what was sprayed outside the club buzzing with college students about to flee town on spring break. I tried to contort my body to gain my balance, yank my foot off the ground, and somehow keep my foot as far from me as possible.

The neon lights of a dancing horse outside the Gallon Stallion blurred into warp lines. That vomit and urine-soaked ground I’d tried to avoid rushed up to meet me. I foresaw a broken nose in my future. Hands unnaturally warm in this unforgiving night’s chill wrapped around my waist.

I didn’t just stop falling—I righted onto my stilettos while blinking in surprise. The hands became arms winding around me and hot breath curled around my ear. “Beware the terrain, there is treachery in the air.”

My skin shivered from the heat of his body caressing mine. March’s unforgiving cold tried to break in between us but he rarely left any room. Shaking my head, I tried to fight off the sexual hunger of my personal incubus. It was like attempting to battle a ten-story lizard with a French fry.

Falling into a warm, clean bed with Ink brushing his fingertips over every inch of my skin sounded better with every frost-tipped breath. Heat finally wound its way down my thighs, and I turned to face him…when a car turned and slowed.

The jet-black Mustang was a few decades out of date but kept in great condition. It shone like an oil river as it stopped right beside me. The dancing neon horse galloped on the hood while the driver rolled down his window. A face eclipsed by shadow called out, “Layla Leeland?”

“That’s me,” I said, my heart racing. Was this one it? I glanced back at Ink, my partner in more than one sense.

While I was freezing in my dress that was too tight thanks to lots of study nights plus pizza, Ink showed no signs of the cold. He’d dressed in his usual crimson shirt and black slacks, but left the top three buttons undone. On his shirt. Not that it’d take much to get his pants opened.

As I leaned closer to Ink, the driver suddenly called out, “I only take one passenger!”

I nodded hard to my incubus. He clasped his hands around mine and tugged me closer to whisper, “Are you certain?”

Only one way to know. Taking my purse from Ink, I said to the driver, “No problem.” To Ink I added, “I’m certain you can find your own way.”

“I have been known to improvise a time or two.” His wavy black hair caught in the wind, aiding in the nonchalant air projecting off him. But in his eyes, fire flickered against the amber irises.

With a set in my shoulders, I opened the backdoor of the Mustang. Water dribbled from the upholstery, drops striking the dry blacktop. I slipped into the car and closed the door. It surprised me to find the dry leather caught my nearly exposed ass, but I was grateful to be out of the cold.

The Mustang roared to life. With the edge of my vision, I watched Ink pass by. For a moment, black wings of shadow trailed behind him.

Stop worrying, Layla. You’ve been through worse. Standing outside clubs until two in the morning for starters. I rubbed my legs to try to get some life back.

“Any chance you could turn the heat on back here?” I asked.

“Sorry, lass. Heater doesn’t work,” the driver called. In the rearview mirror, I could only see the lip of a cap tugged tight over his eyes. The rest of his face hugged the shadows even as streetlights buzzed past. “You use DriveDrop a lot?”

I checked my phone. The screen was fully cracked, not from attacking witch hunters or even werewolf claws but from my keys rattling around in the same pocket. A dozen other ride-share apps were open, all waiting for pickup. I quickly closed each one while smiling. “No. This is my first time.”

“Good. Good. You go to university?”

His accent flitted in and out like a brush fire he couldn’t quite stomp down. I moved to put my phone in my purse when a text message popped up from Calvin. He was worried. “Huh? Uh, yeah. I’m a nursing student.”

“Oh, so you like saving people?”

“As many as I can.” There wasn’t time to soothe my beast boyfriend. Slipping the phone into my purse, I glanced out of the window. I hadn’t been this far downtown in months, maybe years. In my younger days, I’d have thought nothing of staying up till two, four, even six in the morning.

God, I sounded like a decrepit crone at twenty-five.

A hair caught against my neck and I absently moved to scratch it, when the driver’s head snapped up. In an instant, I remembered what I’d hidden under my full hair and dropped my hands to my lap. Nothing pierced the shadows of his face but a tongue the driver drew across his open lips. They didn’t move as he asked, “You from here? Got a lot of family?”

The only family I knew of was six feet under in a random cemetery. I wound up in this city because it was where my life stopped, thanks to a reckless driver. Biting my lip to keep the roiling thoughts at bay, I glanced up at the shadows in the mirror. “No.”

Only the salivating tongue lashed through the air as an answer. A force rocketed me up out of my seat, the wheels striking something hard. It sent my purse tumbling, and the edge of my book poked from the folds. My spell book. Shit.

I raced to cram it back in to try to hide it. The hairs on the back of my neck rose. Piercing through the shadows of the drawn hat, the driver’s eyes focused on me. Did he see the proof I’m a witch?

A low chuckle rose, his laugh matching the rumbling of the road under the tires. When did the car speed up? The city’s streetlights were a myopic blur. Instinctively, I locked my hand around my purse and held my breath.

“Wh…?” The architecture’s all wrong. My brain screamed that fact at me as I stared up not at the seventies cement apartment buildings that made up my neighborhood but at warehouses. The driver rammed the Mustang up a ramp. It sent me flying skyward again. “Where are we?”

“Packing district, I think. Lots of unloading and the like. Not an easy place to find,” the driver said.

Only the stretch of the half-moon reached through the cold March sky. The city lights faded to a blotchy gray behind us. A pounding began in my heart, one I’d come to recognize as my innate warning system. I had to get out of here. This was stupid. What was I thinking? I wasn’t ready to…

The car swung a turn and ahead of us rested the choppy, endless depths of blackest ink. A single buoy cast a red light from the tip, revealing the rolling waves of the great lake we were driving straight for. “What are you doing?” I shrieked, clamping onto my purse.

His laugh shifted into an unholy whinny. The engine roared, shooting us up a pile of pallets at fifty miles an hour. They crunched under the wheels like the bones of children in a cauldron. I gritted my teeth, my soul wrenching at the sound. A steel barrier wrapped around the dock, trying to keep the lake life away from dry land.

It didn’t even give the madman pause. Giggling in glee, he rammed straight into the barrier. The iron ripped in half as we flew into the air. I lashed a hand out to try to catch myself. The palm planted onto the back of his seat, my nails digging into the headrest, when the whole car splattered into the freezing water.

“What the fuck are you doing?” I screamed and reached for the door handle. I heard the sound of the car being put into park, as if it mattered while we sank into the lake. Water seeped up through the floorboards, its icy grip stabbing into my bare toes. I tried to pull away, when I realized my feet were trapped. The soles of my shoes were glued to the floor. Every time I tugged, nothing happened. Not even the carpet would come up.

“Sit back, don’t struggle,” the madman said calmly.

No fucking way was I going to let him drown me. I moved to yank my foot out of my shoe when I realized the hand on his headrest was glued down too. An unnerving warmth pulsed against it, like a heartbeat inside a whale.

With only one hand left to me, I wrapped it around my wrist and tried to pull. All it got me was a slow laugh from the maniac. “I got a bad feeling about you. If’n we’d met in person, I’d ha’e sensed it. Technology. The great equalizer, eh?” He waved his phone in the rearview—which was when I realized the mirror dripped green slime. My reflection faded to a bubbling mass of mucus.

“Oh, god!” Water washed up to my knees. My skin ached from the cold, but I couldn’t do anything. My legs were trapped, my hand stuck, and freezing cold water was going to drown me.

“Told ya not to fight it. Makes the meat all tough.” He smiled, this time revealing his teeth below the hat. They were serrated like a shark’s. “Just let it go. Sit back and wait for the inevitable.”

“Fuck you!” I shouted and reached for my purse. Damn it. It too was glued to the sinking car. Water seeped up over the seat, waves rushing into my purse. I didn’t care about my phone, but focused on the only means of escape—my book.

“Whatcha doing there?”

“Ending you.” It wasn’t that great of a line, rendered toothless as the car buckled to the right. My book tumbled from my bag, the front page stuck to the gooey seat. Now I could feel the tendrils of the creature suckering to the whole of my back. Why did I wear a backless dress?

Straining, I tried to reach for my book even with my hand and feet trapped. The creature laughed, all semblance of his human shell fading away. A full whinny, high-pitched and squealing like nails on a chalkboard, erupted from the monster.

“What are you up to now, witch?”

What was I? I needed my book. It was the only way to… Water swept up my chest, the cold punching into me harder than a fist to my ribs. All breath fled my lungs in an instant and I blanched. Hold it. Hold it for as long as possible.

Sucking in air, I glared at the creature taunting me. It’d reformed to nothing more than a swiveling pillar of green goo, but that jaunty newsboy cap remained. “Do not fight the inevitable.”

“Why are you doing this?” I shouted, as if knowing why the monster wanted to kill me would help stop it.

The green blob split apart and elongated to a horse’s mouth. It opened wider, drawing me to the razor teeth bursting from inside. “To survive. You humans have such delectable organs. It’s cruel of you to keep them all to yourself.”

“I think my liver’s quite happy where it is,” I said, only for water to rush into my mouth. Straining, I tried to tip my head back, but it sent more waves up my nose. A choke burst from my lungs, spraying the swallowed lake water at the monster.

It shook its deformed horse head but didn’t let me go. Why couldn’t all these damn creatures die from the common cold? Not about to give up, I tugged on my seat one last time. But there was no escape.

Tipping my head back, I pulled in the last of the air I could and sank under. Sound dulled. The beating of my panicking heart overtook me. I’d hoped—once under—he’d let go, or his glue would dissolve, but no luck.

“Abandon your struggles, witch,” the creature taunted. His words didn’t slip from the horse’s mouth now submerged, but reverberated up my skin attached to the seat and into my brain. “The water will cascade down your lungs and I shall feast on your corpse.”


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About the Author

Ellen Mint

Ellen Mint adores the adorkable heroes who charm with their shy smiles and heroines that pack a punch. She recently won the Top Ten Handmaid’s Challenge on Wattpad where hers was chosen by Margaret Atwood. Her books, Undercover Siren and Fever are available at Amazon as well as a short story in the Lucky Between The Sheets anthology. Married, she lives in Nebraska with her dog named after Granny Weatherwax. Her hobbies include gaming, painting, and halloween prop making. The basement is full of skeletons because they ran out of room in the closets.

You can find Ellen at her website here and also on Bookbub..


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