Cover Reveal

Tall Dark and Evil by Alexi Blake & May Sage

Tall Dark and Evil
Alexi Blake & May Sage
Publication date: January 27th 2022
Genres: Adult, Paranormal, Romance

The Five Realms University is an open battlefield. After surviving three years of pranks, insults, and the occasional attempted murder, Alis thought she knew the rules of the game.
One encounter with Reiks, the golden prince everyone adores, shows her just how mistaken she was. He’s decided she’s his to torment for his last year at Five, and no one can save her from his clutches, until an actual war comes knocking at the doors.
Alis had her reasons for staying under the radar for so long, but to survive, she might have to embrace the devastating magic in her blood, at the risk of destroying the entire world.

Born to take over a kingdom divided to its very core, Reiks has grown calculating and cruel, for the greater good.
He treats friends and foes as unwitting pawns on his board, until he comes to realize one piece might have been his enemy’s queen in disguise. Alis could be his undoing.
Or his salvation.

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Author Bio:

May is a USA Today Bestselling Author who recently moved to The Hague, in the Netherlands. She writes many sub-genres of romance; mainly fantasy, paranormal and contemporary. You’re signing up for strong, sassy, kick-ass women and swoon-worthy alpha protagonists. Enjoy the ride!

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Book Tour

The Garret Cooper Series

The Greatest of These

Garret Cooper Series Book 1

by Greg Wendleton

Genre: Thriller, Mystery

What happens when a global pandemic, a life-saving vaccine and a criminal conspiracy come to a boiling point? Garret Cooper is a naïve, paid assassin who is leading a double life. Conspiring against him and looking for a massive payday are his mentor and former teammates. When they attempt to frame him for murder, conspiracy and treason, he must question everything he thought was true, and confess his hidden life to his wife. In this first book in the series, Garret Cooper uses his wits to overcome the obstacles he faces on the beautiful island of Maui.

The Greatest of These is a fast-paced page-turner that will capture your imagination…a must-read!

Goodreads * Amazon

Roads to Redemption

Garret Cooper Series Book 2

Garret Cooper continues his search for Conrad Bishop and Jackie Ming throughout Central America in this, the second book in the Garret Cooper Series. While Garret and Fonda attempt to establish a new life on Maui, the threats posed by the dangerous fugitives continue to threaten their existence. Conrad finds himself embroiled in a feud and Jackie battles demons that continue to haunt him. Friends, both new and old, lend assistance to the manhunt as well as the efforts of many men to find a better path in life…their personal road to redemption.

Goodreads * Amazon

Greg Wendleton is a resident of Overland Park, Kansas where he lives with his wife, Jan, and their Chocolate Labradoodle, Chief. Greg and Jan first met in Hawaii while attending Radford High School. Their fathers were both career Air Force NCOs. Life took them in different directions until they reunited thirty-five years later. They have four adult children, all of whom are married, and four amazing grandsons.

After more than forty years in food service sales, Greg retired due to a rare eye malady. Afflicted with Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy which left Greg unable to drive or travel alone, he discovered a new passion. Always harboring a desire to write, but lacking the time to dedicate to the craft, his recent life changes opened new doors.

The Greatest of These”, an action/suspense novel introduces Garret Cooper, a flawed man who must overcome his own demons to rescue his father figure from imminent death. The author utilizes exotic settings, current events and a touch of self-deprecating humor to develop his characters and to create his stories.

Roads to Redemption”, book two in the Garret Cooper series was released on July 16, 2021, and “Judgement”, book three in the series is slated for release in late 2021.

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Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!

$10 Amazon giftcard,

Signed paperbacks of the two books

-1 winner each!

Release Blitz

Perfect Mess by Fabiola Francisco

Perfect Mess by Fabiola Francisco is available!

Series: Mason Creek, Book 10 – Standalone
Genre: Small Town Romance
Trope: Opposites Attract

Available now:

Add it to your TBR on Goodreads:

A toxic relationship crumbled my self-esteem, so when my uncle needs someone to temporarily run his butcher shop, I swap the hectic city for small-town life.

I have no idea what butchering entails, and Wilder James, the sexy—albeit grumpy—rancher, reminds me of it every time I see him.

His snap judgment of me because I’m a city girl is infuriating, but I’m forced to work with him. It isn’t until he begins to drop his guard that I learn the reasons for the walls around his heart.

My ex’s words cut deep, sitting like invisible wounds on my skin, but Wilder is crumbling every insecurity, showing me what it feels like to be wanted.

My time in Mason Creek is temporary, and soon I’ll have to say the hardest goodbye.



Welcome to Mason Creek, Montana.
12 Books by 12 Bestselling Authors, all linked together by one fictional small town.

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Cover Reveal

Wings of Silk

Historical Fiction

Date to be Published: November 2, 2021

Publisher: Acorn Publishing

After surviving a childhood under the oppressive rule of Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution”, a young, courageous teenager abandons her life in China for the freedom of the unknown in America.

Arriving at the New York City doorstep of family members she’s never met, Ying-Ying has been promised they’ll help her learn English and accomplish her dream of attaining a college degree.

But weeks later, she’s kicked without explanation.

Now a homeless immigrant, Ying-Ying must learn who to trust, how to find work, and how to succeed in a bustling metropolis that looks the other way.

Overcoming obstacles of abandonment, heartbreak, and injustice, in a foreign land, she never gives up on becoming a woman who will impact the world. An incredible story of second chances and fierce determination, Wings of Silk, reminds the reader that underneath the fragile form of an individual, a strong and resilient heart is always ready to take flight.

About The Author

Li-Ying Lundquist was born and raised in China living under the strict regime of Chairman Mao’s “Cultural Revolution.” The daughter of intellectual parents, her life was in constant danger and she grew up believing that academic performance and perfectionism were the keys to survival and fulfillment.

After high school, following a strong desire to find freedom and get to know family members who lived in the United States, Li-Ying left her life in China to pursue the American dream.

Overcoming the plights of a young immigrant who did not speak the language, Li-Ying obtained her Master’s in Computer Science from a prestigious university and became a successful lead engineer. While working for AT&T Bell Labs, her team made the world’s first “Text Message” for mobile phones.

Today she is happily married to a wonderful man and has two darling sons who she loves with all her heart. She is an advocate for living a life of freedom founded on self-respect and pursuing happiness.

She hopes readers of Wings of Silk will be inspired by the lessons of forgiveness, grace, and God’s powerful love.

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Looks that Deceive


MedAir Series, Book 1

Thriller, Medical Thriller, Crime Thriller

Publisher: Christen Haus Publishing

FREE in ebook format at all online retailers.

Two prominent medical malpractice attorneys are dead.

Can you imagine the stuff flowing downhill into Detective Lynch Cully’s lap? From his lieutenant’s office. From his chief’s office. The mayor’s office. The governor. He’s already facing the toughest case of his career: a serial assailant who leaves his victims unable to testify. Are these cases related? Has the perpetrator upped his game?

Amy Gibbs, RN is a newly recruited med-evac flight nurse who left the ER, its stress, and memories of a certain detective behind. On one fateful call, she hears the deathbed confession of a man whom police are seeking as a person of interest in the attacks.

Within hours, the lives of Amy Gibbs and Lynch Cully intertwine in a story that unravels a web of identity theft, electronic eavesdropping, and stalking amid a confusion of identities. Can Lynch move one step ahead of this killer? Or is the distraction—of a girlfriend he regrets leaving—too much?

Other Books in the MedAir Series

Rescued and Remembered

MedAir Series, Book Two

Coming back from the dead isn’t easy . . .

When you have to save the one who saved you.

The Silenced Shooter

MedAir Series, Book Three

Tired of federal gridlock?

Can you trust the federal government anymore?

Wrongfully Removed

MedAir Series, Book Four

What would you do to protect your family?

Would you stand up to the government?

A Zealot’s Destiny

MedAir Series, Book Five

Who is trying to eliminate the British Royal Family? And why? After all, the monarchy is largely ceremonial and symbolic.

Kidnapped Nation

MedAir Series, Book Six

Will the people elect the status quo?

Or is a major presidential upset in the wind?

The Khmer Connection

MedAir Series, Book Seven

What do you do? Where do you go?

. . . when the devil is right on your heels.

Resurrected Trouble

MedAir Series, Book Eight

Lynch Cully and Amy Gibbs have returned home, leaving the worst behind them in Southeast Asia. Or did they?


About the Author

Braxton DeGarmo spent over 30 years in Emergency and Family Medicine, both in and out of the military, before retiring to focus on writing in 2014. Many of the incidents in his books are based on real occurrences, people, and experiences in his own life, such as learning to escape a water crash in a helicopter. Human trafficking, medical kidnapping, government corruption, and other social injustices have become the premises used for his stories. And the technologies described in his books are all current . . . and possible.

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New Release

Wrapped Up in You: A Second Chance Romance anthology.


★.•°`☆ NEW RELEASE ☆`°•.★

#ReleaseBlitz for #PhoenixAnthologies Hosted by Phoenix Book Promo 

Wrapped Up in You: A Second Chance Romance Anthology

C.N. Marie

Danielle Jacks

Eleanor Lloyd-Jones

Lizzie James

Rosie East

Scarlet Le Clair

Sienna Grant

Stacy McWilliams

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Second chances…

We all want them: another opportunity to impress that one guy or a shot at telling the girl you’re secretly in love with just how much you’ve yearned for her.

But what do you do when the one person you are desperate to reconcile with walks back into your life?

Do you take the risk and try again or do you sit back and let it all slip through your fingers?

Join nine romance authors, writing in a range of genres, as they travel the path of second chances that we all wish came around more often.

A mistake. A chance. A future


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@c.n.marieauthor @chaptersthroughlife1 @eleanorlloydjones @lizziejames_86 @rosieeast_author @scarlet_le_clair @authorsgrant @stacemcwilliams @phoenixbookpromo

Release Blitz

Held for the Stud

Held for the Stud by Vonna Harper

Word Count: 42,592 Book Length: SHORT NOVEL Pages: 180



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Book Description

  A man determined to have his way. A woman in need of taming. The battle begins. One look at the big, half-wild stallion and Asha vows to ride him. One look at the beautiful stranger sneaking toward his newly acquired stud and Banner vows to teach her that he’s in control. Banner is a soldier, a man who has experienced little beyond weapons and war, but he and the men he’s responsible for need more than conflict. Otherwise they’ll lose what’s left of their humanity. He turns abandoned ranch land into an escape and offers it to battle-weary fighters. Nothing will stand in his way, especially not the slight, determined woman who insists that only she can handle Koko. He won’t allow her to risk her life. When she disobeys, he disciplines her. Repeatedly. Asha loathes the man who brought her, naked, to her knees, but her body isn’t listening. Reader advisory: This book includes references to sexual harrassment, PTSD and war injury. There are elements of corporal punishment and dubious/ambiguous consent.


What I wouldn’t give to ride him. His energy and power everywhere, me becoming part of him. Heat, endless heat. Wild all the way to his core. His body in absolute control. No fear or doubt. Potent. Even with her heart’s jagged pace warning she might be having a stroke, Asha continued to stare at the prime example of maleness. She’d seen unwavering confidence before. Hell, she was pretty damn confident herself. But this… Not wanting to miss a moment of this rare experience, she willed herself not to blink. The object of her admiration was far enough away that she doubted the stallion was aware of her, but even if he locked his dark eyes on her, she’d go on staring open-mouthed at him. She had no choice. You don’t have to chase after them, she silently told the stud. Females will always do whatever they think it takes to convince you to breed with them. You can be selective. You assess and most times reject because you know there’ll always be another. Only the best will do. Sweat pooled at the base of her throat while another kind of moisture soaked her panties’ crotch. From first glance she’d known she couldn’t be objective about him, but she hadn’t realized her reaction would be so primal. She’d caress that sleek dark flesh, run her fingers through long, coarse hair, climb onto his back and ride him until there was nothing left of both of them. As if reading her thoughts, the stallion stared at her, a front hoof furiously attacking the ground. He wasn’t quite coal black, but close, with a tail that swept the ground and a rich, thick mane. Do it, he seemed to say. Take the chance. “You’re tempting me.” He whinnied, the sound sharp. His muscles repeatedly knotted as he continued his attack. “There’s a mare in heat somewhere, isn’t there? You sense her. Maybe you smell her.” Barely aware of what she was doing, Asha jammed her hands in her jeans’ back pockets. The gesture tightened the fabric against her crotch and brought her attention back to herself. “Is that it? You’re primed for breeding? You can’t think of anything else. Hot blood runs through you all the time, keeping you keyed-up. You’d service an entire herd if they let you.” Head high and thick neck arched, the stallion pranced closer. There was a wooden fence between them, but even if it hadn’t been there, she wouldn’t have shied away. “You don’t intimidate me. That’s because it’s possible I know more about how you’ll behave than you do. I respect you, but you need to do the same.” The animal stopped and again beat at the ground. He shook his head, eyes showing more white now. “You want to run, don’t you? Gallop without this corral hemming you in. Work off some of that energy. Believe me, I get it.” Head now cocked to the side, the stallion seemed to be considering her proclamation. She took him to be a little over sixteen hands high and probably thirteen hundred pounds, the majority of it muscle. The way his coat shone, people who didn’t know horses would assume he got a lot of grooming, but his hooves were ragged, his mane and tail tangled. “I’m guessing your coloring has a lot to do with why you were picked for stud service. At least I’m pretty sure that’s what’s going on. That’s why you aren’t out with the herd.” Frowning, she fingered the lock on the corral door. She’d been looking for him since she’d ventured onto the mysterious place known as Escape, her attention initially drawn to whistles and thuds. Thanks to her career, she’d concluded she was listening to an agitated or aroused horse. The sounds and air of energy had drawn her magnet-like to this remote section of the acreage. “It probably doesn’t matter to you, but I’ve been listening to you for a while, feeling you in my muscles and bones, letting you command me.” Command. Yes, that was what it had been. Like a starving woman with the scent of something on a barbeque filling her senses, she’d made the decision to let instinct have its way with her. She had no business being here, but who would run her off? At what she understood was over a hundred acres, chances were she was the only human on most of them. It hadn’t been called Escape for long. A lot of mystery surrounded who owned it. She figured farmers or ranchers acquired the land which was dotted with a couple of barns and a sprawling older house. Not that she should give a damn. Command. Pushing her hair out of her eyes—someday, maybe, she’d figure out how to contain the auburn mass that reached the middle of her back—she gripped the top board and gave the stud her full attention. She wanted him, to own and ride him, to love him and earn his respect. She’d slip a rope around his muscled neck and guide him to a tree stump or boulder. Using his mane for leverage, she’d half haul and half boost herself onto him. She’d settle her crotch on his broad back and tighten her thighs against testosterone-filled muscles. She’d weave fingers made strong from a lifetime of physical labor into his mane, lean forward and whisper in his alert ears. “Run for me. Race the wind. Gather your legs under you and take us over the fence. Free both of us. Gallop until your lungs heave and I’m hoarse from screaming my delight.” Her breath snagged, her cheeks burned and her muscles bunched in reaction to what she was certain the stallion was capable of. Her already charged pussy got into the act, muscles clamping down. Her nipples hardened and she gave up trying to close her mouth. As if reading her thoughts, the stallion pranced even closer. He was all sexual energy, every inch of him leaving no doubt that he’d been created to excel at one task. She’d seen more stallions than most people, but there was something outstanding about this creature. “You’re making me crazy.” She should ask herself if she really wanted to confide in the stallion, but right now it was too much effort. She started to drop to her knees in preparation for wriggling under the fence when a shiver of sensation along her spine stopped her. Was someone watching? Assessing and judging her? She looked left, right, behind her and as far into the distance as she could. She didn’t see anything worthy of alarm but she’d been in enough precarious situations that she knew better than to dismiss what her nerves were trying to tell her. To hell with it! Touching the stallion was more important. Breathing quickly, she wriggled under the fence. As she straightened, the stallion pranced back. “You can’t be afraid of me. I know it isn’t that. You just have trouble containing all that energy. God, but you’re magnificent. Devil and angel in one package.” Talking took too much effort so she concentrated on wiping dirt off her jeans. Thinking she probably wouldn’t see anyone today, she hadn’t bothered with a bra, but then she rarely wore one. She was a C-cup, which meant people would notice, but bras weren’t worth the expense when being true to herself meant so much. Her untethered breasts and hard-as-hell nipples were clearly visible under the wear-softened cotton T-shirt. If she were one for introspection this would be when she’d question why she’d decided to spend her day off exploring Escape. However, between being more than a little worn down from the long hike and her reaction to the stallion, she wasn’t sure she knew what she was thinking. “Do you know what the phrase sex appeal means?” she asked the stallion. “What a woman is trying to get a man to understand when she tells him she’s turned on? Going by my less-than-extensive experience, I’m not an expert when it comes to putting out the right vibes.” She clamped down on a chuckle. Her suspicion that some man might have his eye on her right now had twisted her thinking a bit. So she wasn’t as experienced regarding the opposite sex as she’d like people to believe. That was her business and had nothing to do with the moment. If a man was watching, he could come to his own conclusion. It wasn’t as if she had to have anything to do with him. She again slid her hands into her back pockets. Fabric tightened. “I don’t know if I’m going to sleep tonight. I’m also not sure I care. Damn, but you’re beautiful. One of a kind.” She paused as a surge of something hot ran through her. “Right now, I’d give anything to be a mare.” As if agreeing with her, the big, black, glistening creature stretched out a densely muscled neck. Holding her breath, she dragged her right hand out of her pocket and extended it toward him. Warm, moist air caressed her fingers and sent a fresh frisson of excitement into her. “Will you let me ride you? I didn’t bring a bridle or saddle, but I’ve ridden bareback more times than otherwise. As for a bridle…” The thought of pushing a metal bar between those white teeth made her shudder. She didn’t want to command him in any way. As long as she was astride him, he’d be in control. She’d trust him not to throw her, to know she preferred a canter over a trot and a gallop over everything else. Together they’d run like the proverbial wind and win every race. The stud drew her fingers into his mouth. She embraced the moment. “I know you. I think in some regard I always have.” Tears she didn’t know she had in her burned. Blinking repeatedly, she struggled not to let them loose. When they continued to threaten, she withdrew her damp hand and stroked his neck where muscles and veins pulsed. Maybe she could go from standing flat-footed to being astride him on will alone. She tightened a hand around the rough mane and crouched in preparation for springing. Nothing else mattered. In one or two seconds she’d— “Don’t even think it!”

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About the Author

Vonna Harper

What prompts a mild-mannered mostly law abiding woman to write erotica and erotic romance, a lot revolving around BDSM and capture/bondage? Is it the complex issue of taking or giving up control? Vonna Harper doesn’t know and she has given up trying to find the answer. It’s enough that many readers are drawn to what some call the dark side. All she asks is that readers understand she writes fiction–a brand of fiction she finds fascinating. Vonna has lost count of the number of books, novellas, and short stories she’s written. What she has no doubt of, it’s a hell of a ride. You can follow Vonna on Facebook.


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ENTER HERE AND GET A FREE EBOOK FROM THE AUTHOR! Notice: This competition ends on 24th August 2021 at 5pm GMT. Competition hosted by Totally Entwined Group.
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Godsend by Elvira Bell

Word Count: 36,520 Book Length: SHORT NOVEL Pages: 154



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Book Description

  Ari and Vidar are Viking warriors and blood brothers. Will handsome thrall Elric break their bond…or make it even stronger? When young Saxon Elric is sold to Norse slave traders, he thinks that his life is over. He is brought across the sea to the settlement of the Norsemen and becomes the chief’s thrall, and neither the chief nor the warriors are lenient with him. Two of the warriors are different, though—Ari and Vidar. Elric senses that their bond goes beyond mere friendship, and wishes that he himself had someone who would care for him. Ari and Vidar have been lovers for years, but they have to sneak away whenever they want to be together. Vidar is next in line to be leader, as the chief’s nephew, but he’s shy and insecure and only feels at home on the battlefield. Ari looks different than the other warriors, since his mother was of foreign descent, and he’s had to learn how to stand up for himself. The two of them are blood brothers, linked together forever, but even though they are lovers they can’t go against the taboo that prohibits free men from being passive during sex. Ari feels that something is lacking, and Elric’s arrival gives him an idea—what if they invited Elric to join them in bed? The thought excites him, and Elric himself seems eager to please. The only question is how Ari is supposed to get Vidar to agree to letting another man into their relationship…


“It’s coming, lad. Your first day as a free man.” Hrodgar’s heavy hand slapped Elric’s shoulder. His grin was as wide as when he’d told Elric about the birth of his youngest child. “I know.” Elric smiled back. He’d be embarrassed to admit just how often he’d studied the lone apple tree behind the byre this spring. Not that Hrodgar would find it odd—Hrodgar was the one who had struck that deal with him, after all, that balmy night five years ago when he’d found Elric stealing from his crops. Elric had no trouble recalling the strong, burly farmer grabbing him by the neck and shaking him so hard that the carrots he’d hidden under his tunic fell to the ground. “What do you think you’re doing? I could kill you for trying to steal from me. I have the right.” Elric had cried and begged for his life, exhausted by fatigue and hunger and that hollow pain in his chest that had been there ever since his parents died. He’d only been fifteen, a half-grown boy who had never stolen before. And Hrodgar had sighed and made him a proposition. “Stop your crying now, all right? I won’t hurt you, if you agree to become my slave for five years. After that, you’ll have paid for what you’ve done and you’ll be free to go. Five years from now, on the day when the apple tree blossoms.” He had nodded to a large tree outside the field—even in the dusk, Elric had seen the white flowers shine like stars. He’d agreed, and Hrodgar had become his master. But not for much longer. It had been almost five years. The crown of the apple tree was exploding with flower buds. “Strange,” Hrodgar said, shooing away some crows. “To think that you’ll be gone soon.” They were at the edge of the field, the barley tickling Elric’s hands when he touched it. They’d been getting plenty of both sun and rain this summer—it would be a good harvest. A bearable winter. But he wouldn’t be here for it. “I could stay until the harvest’s all done and—” Hrodgar shook his head. His hair was like polished copper, thick and wavy. “No such thing. A deal’s a deal. If you’ll come with me to the market tomorrow, that’s good enough. Make sure the chickens stay in their place until I’ve found a buyer for them.” * * * * They left for Bristol the next morning. Hilda was unusually kind, handing Elric a piece of fresh bread to eat on the way. Hrodgar’s wife had never spoken much to him, though she seemed to appreciate having him in the house. Her children were too young to be of much help and working the field was hard. It would be years before they could help their father out. No, Hilda had always had little to do with him—but Hrodgar was different. In a way, Elric thought of him as a friend. What would have become of him if Hrodgar hadn’t taken him in? He’d had no one to turn to. In Hrodgar’s household he was a servant, certainly, but he ate with the family and slept on a sheepskin by the hearth. It was a better life than the one his parents had been able to give him. The work had made him strong, though he’d never be big and threatening like Hrodgar, and Hilda’s food had put a bit of meat on his bones. In those five years his body had transformed. He was still slender, but his hands were tan and veiny like a man’s, and when he flexed his arms they swelled with muscle. Just like Hrodgar’s. “Going to be a fine day.” Hrodgar wiped his brow and called for the oxen to move faster. “Plenty of people in town, I should think.” Elric had been to Bristol Market many times, and he was excited about the trip. Before he’d come to Hrodgar’s house, the only people he’d met were his parents and a couple of neighboring families. His first visit to Bristol had been a shock. There weren’t that many houses, but the people had been far more than he could count—merchants trading their goods and buyers eager to get their hands on livestock, pelts, jewelry and fancy garments. Some of the merchants spoke in strange tongues, and when Elric had asked Hrodgar where they were from, he’d shrugged. “From all over the world, but do you think I know what they call their lands? Some of them are from the north, though, from lands of eternal snow. You and I wouldn’t survive a day in a place like that.” Now Hrodgar handed him the reins and reached for the pack by his feet. “Best eat before we get there.” He brought a sweet-smelling loaf to his mouth and chewed off a chunk. Elric reached into his pocket and had a taste of his own bread. It was so soft that his teeth sank into it—he’d never had anything better. All the bread he’d eaten before had been stale and dry. “Hilda must’ve meant to give this to you.” He glanced at Hrodgar, who wiped crumbs from his beard without looking at him. “It’s much too nice for me.” “Oh, maybe she did.” Hrodgar grinned, still without meeting his gaze. “But you have it.” When he reached for the reins, his warm hand landed on top of Elric’s. Hrodgar pulled away as if he’d been burned. For the remainder of the trip, he was oddly quiet, and Elric wondered if maybe it had something to do with their hands touching. Ever since he had joined Hrodgar’s household, he’d felt a tingling in his chest every time the other man spoke to him. At first he’d thought it was pure childish admiration, nothing more. By now he knew better. They’d spent every day of the last five years together—alone in the field all day, then sometimes heading down to the brook on hot summer evenings to rinse off the sweat. The image of Hrodgar’s brawny, hairy body was etched into his mind. And he had thought, more than once, about the fact that he was a slave and that he had to do whatever Hrodgar asked of him. Including sharing his bed. Hrodgar had never requested it. But if he’d asked, Elric wouldn’t have refused. They reached Bristol some hours later and Hrodgar found a place for his cart in the crammed street. There were people and animals everywhere and the smell of dung mixed with that of roasted meat and beer. And something else, a smell that seemed to whisper to Elric from far away—tar from the huge, slender ships anchored by the shore. “Watch the goods for me, will you?” Hrodgar seemed hurried, and when he squeezed Elric’s shoulder, his grip was painfully hard. “Just going to… I’ll be back soon.” He disappeared into the crowd. Off to take a leak, probably—but when he wasn’t back a long while later, Elric got worried. He hadn’t been robbed, had he? Part of him wanted to go and check what had happened, but he couldn’t leave the cart. Then, finally, Hrodgar returned. He was with some men in strange clothing—it took a while before Elric recognized them as Norsemen. They were all bearded, with heavy woolen cloaks and cloak pins that shone in the sunlight. One of the men was older than the rest, with long gray hair and steely eyes. Hrodgar discussed something with him, both of them gesturing wildly. What was that about? Why would the Norsemen have any interest in a simple farmer’s goods? “Hrodgar!” Elric called when the men were within earshot. “What’s going on? Are they giving you trouble?” Hrodgar exchanged a look with the gray-haired Norseman, then made a gesture in Elric’s direction. Before he had time to realize what was happening, Elric was seized by two young Norsemen and his hands were tied behind his back. “What—help! Hrodgar, help me!” Hrodgar looked at him. His face was empty, as if they’d never met. “I’m sorry,” he said, but there was no emotion behind his words. Turning to the gray-haired man, he said, “Silver. You promised me silver and I want it now.” The gray-haired man called out a command and another man came forward with a leather pouch that he put in Hrodgar’s outstretched palm. It wasn’t until then that Elric understood. He’d been sold. Hrodgar had sold him to slave traders. “You bastard!” Tears of rage stung his eyes as the Norsemen dragged him through the crowd, away from Hrodgar and the cart. “You lying bastard!” He kicked and thrashed. The Norsemen laughed, shoving him between them like a plaything, talking in their twisted language. He was their slave. And he would never see Hrodgar again.

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About the Author

Elvira Bell

Elvira Bell lives in Sweden and spends most of her time writing, reading or watching movies. Her weaknesses include, but are not limited to: vintage jazz, musicals, kittens, oversized tea cups, men in suits, the 18th century, and anything sparkly. Elvira writes m/m romance and has a penchant for historical settings. She adores all things gothic and will put her characters through hell from time to time because she just loves watching them suffer. It makes the happy endings so much sweeter, after all. Find out more at Elvira’s website.


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Antiques by Bailey Bradford

Book 2 in the Intrinsic Values series

Word Count: 53,479 Book Length: NOVEL Pages: 214



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Book Description

  Elliot Douglas lived his life on the sidelines—until Drew Harrington smashed front and center into it… Since rebuilding his life, Elliot Douglas has led a quiet existence, hiding behind a routine and the old-fashioned clothes and behavior that make him seem older than his early forties. Now he’s taking one step at a time toward creating a more fulfilling life…one in which his sexual needs to submit are met. However, baby steps are left behind when he meets Detective Andrew Harrington. A driven—some say obsessed—Scotland Yard detective, Drew lives by compartmentalizing, focusing on his work and, as a Dom, enjoying BDSM sex as a stress relief. On the track of stolen paintings, he’s traced them to San Antonio, where he’s distracted from the case by an infuriatingly handsome antiques trader who’s not as predictable or fuddy-duddy as he wants the world to think. Intrigued, Drew’s drawn to that mystery as much as the one he’s there to solve, which blindsides him. Elliot and Drew’s attraction is instant, and their feelings strong, especially when Drew poses as Elliot’s boyfriend to infiltrate the local antiques scene. But nothing is what it seems—not the case, not Drew…and not even Elliot. With deception all around them, what hope do two men unused to trust and commitment have of a relationship? Reader advisory: This book contains a scene of on-page stabbing, assault and the threat of sexual assault.


Elliot Douglas knew he should have been hurrying. He detested being late for anything, considering it disorganized at best and impolite at worst, when he prided himself on being neither of those things. In addition, he was very much looking forward to this appointment. No—he very much needed this appointment. While those undeniable facts made him lengthen his stride a tad, his interest in the architecture and design of the houses on the midtown streets he was walking along meant he kept glimpsing things that grabbed his attention. As the proprietor and manager of San Antonio’s Intrinsic Value antiques shop, his wide-ranging interest in art and design had him taking in everything from the houses’ building styles to their colors and trims. He’d been to many well-known interactive museums and ever since his first visit to this area of San Antonio had thought of it as a living architectural gallery. His whimsical feeling that he should have a chart or worksheet so he could tick off examples of the different building types all around him made him smile. Maybe he should make something along those lines, some mini poster to be labeled and even colored in? Edwardian, Victorian, Tudor… His quickening steps echoed the rhythm of his thoughts that listed the design styles he passed. I would design that, yes, if I could draw. Should he have chosen this neighborhood to settle in? The question surged whenever he came here to Tobin Hill, where his love of collectible objects and period pieces had him slowing down to appreciate details of everything from lawn or porch furniture to hanging lanterns or even lampposts that caught his eye. If his pace slackened, it was because of that and nothing to do with him being in his forties. Forty-two wasn’t old, no matter how old-fashioned he was or even how he might feel at times, and Elliot kept his six-foot-plus frame fit and in shape. But the visual appeal of this community, and the location, so convenient for his store, had him second-guessing yet again the area he’d actually bought real estate in. Well, too bad. With all the work he was putting into his property, he couldn’t see himself moving. And besides, he really liked his house, his refuge from the world. His destination was in sight, and he hurried up the short drive and onto the small porch of the square ranch-style house, smiling anew as always at the realtor description of these nineteen-seventies stucco properties as “California bungalow style”. There would be no need to lift the brass knocker, so Elliot raked both hands through his light-brown hair to settle the slightly long waves that sprang from his temples, trying not to think that he’d combed his fingers through where his hair had started to silver. He even went to polish his wire-framed glasses before remembering he didn’t wear them in the daytime any longer…which of course had him blinking, aware of his relatively new contact lenses. “Lars.” Elliot greeted the man who’d opened the door for him and who now stood back to usher him in with his usual pleasant, welcoming expression. “Elliot.” Lars was discreet, never saying Elliot’s—or anyone’s name—until the front door was firmly closed. He tended to blend into the room, tasteful yet unremarkable, and was now unobtrusively noting Elliot’s arrival on a slim handheld tablet, the dark-gray cover of which he flipped open and immediately flicked closed again. The computer equipment had grated on Elliot at first. He wasn’t at all a fan of technology, but he knew he couldn’t expect people to keep track of appointments in ledgers or books these days. And goodness, he had a cellular phone—as he still called it—himself nowadays. A friend from the club where Elliot exercised and swam worked in IT and had helped him choose a sleek, slimline model. Nothing big or bulky or flashy, and Elliot was still in the forgetting it in his office or kitchen phase of coexistence with it. Karl, the man he was here to see, came out into the waiting room and regarded him. “Good morning, Elliot. Do come on in…or do you need another minute yet to look around and think how you’d decorate and furnish the place?” He’d told Karl about that silly habit of his, something he did in homes or stores or restaurants, and Karl had found it charming, always remembering it. Elliot gave a rueful nod of acknowledgment and, casting his eyes down, walked past Karl into the next room, where there was calm and peace and barely audible soft music playing. He waited for Karl to enter behind him, close the door and sit, then nod toward a chair for Elliot to seat himself. “You walked here?” Karl asked, his steely blue eyes catching the light. The morning sun made his neatly groomed dark hair, short beard and mustache shine. He probably chose to sit where he was on purpose and his stillness ensured he’d remain in the light. “Elliot?” “Oh, excuse me. Wool-gathering. Yes. I like the walk. It’s part of coming here, for me. A warm-up.” He knew what he meant. The distance was nothing from Intrinsic Value, in the city’s cultural Pearl District, but more of a stretch from his home in Lavaca. “And you came from home? I’d hate to think you were at work so early.” Karl gave him an assessing once-over. “Help yourself to water.” His short, sharp chin jerk indicated the jug and glasses on the small table. “Have you been overworking since your last visit?” “Well…” Elliot hedged, pouring himself a little water that he didn’t want and wouldn’t drink. “Elliot. You know better than that.” Karl sharpened his tone a little. “Tell me.” He hadn’t gone into recent…incidents in any great detail with Karl but had shared some of what had been happening at the store and with his employees lately. Now he caught Karl up on how things had finally settled down again after the events that had been set in motion when Elliot had purchased items from the Buckman sale. “I swore off them, but I did go to another estate sale last week actually. There’s the local art and antiques fair coming up soon and I have a list of items to look out for there,” he finished. “With most of them being for your house, on which you’re still working nonstop,” Karl surmised. Elliot dropped his gaze. “But you’ve found time to relax, to exercise? You look in great shape.” Elliot’s face heated at the kind words. “Swimming most evenings, and I took up squash again.” More like he’d forced himself. But… “Excellent. And we’ll have you switching to racquetball soon!” Karl’s eyes gleamed and he stood, motioning Elliot to his feet with a quick crook of his fingers. “It’s time. Go on through.” Through into what Elliot thought of as the real room, after he’d showered and prepared, of course. Elliot was used to older mirrors, in the store and his house, and tended to avoid modern ones, but the full-length bathroom mirror here didn’t give too stark a reflection. The recessed lighting made his eyes seem more tawny than brown when he peered at his irises, checking on his lenses. Towel tucked around his waist, he walked into the treatment room. The real room. “Elliot.” Karl coming in the other door caught him by surprise. “You’re not lying down.” “Sorry,” Elliot muttered. “Don’t be sorry. Be more obedient.” Karl took off his suit jacket, leaving him in his shirt and vest. He rolled up his sleeves, revealing his muscular forearms. He was powerfully built, with quiet, contained strength. It was starting, frissons whispering down Elliot’s spine. Nodding, he lay on the table, swallowing at the snick of the door being locked, then the splat of the oil being pumped. The noises, the scents, were familiar, as were Karl’s hands smoothing his upper back and shoulders. Him pressing strong thumbs up the nape of Elliot’s neck had Elliot holding in a moan. “Head to the side on the rest…hands on the wings…” Karl ordered, a second before the table’s mechanism popped out the armrests either side for Elliot to hold on to. In seconds, a padded strap snaked across his neck, holding his head in position and leather straps were buckled around his wrists, keeping his hands in place. Buckled by Lars, who Elliot hadn’t even heard come in or lock the door again after him, although Elliot knew he would have, just as he knew Lars would now position the flat mirror to the side of the head of the table, angling it in such a way that Elliot could see what Karl would be doing to him. Everything Karl would be doing to him. Karl paused, even after Lars finished, making Elliot shiver and ask, “Now what?” “You know what.” Karl whisked Elliot’s towel away, leaving him naked. In seconds, the table’s end section was extended and widened, spreading Elliot’s legs to Karl’s satisfaction, and further straps secured his ankles to the corners. He peeped in the mirror—he was fully bound, as pulling at his bonds showed him. “The ball gag, I think,” Karl said. Elliot shook his head. “Hmm. I’ll let you have that…” Karl’s voiced faded as he appeared to think. A quiet command had Lars offering him a tray from which Karl made his choice of the selection of bandannas it held. He twisted the cotton cloth into a strip and made a knot in its middle, tying another on top of the first to make it bigger. Big enough to gag Elliot, when placed in his mouth and the fabric tied around the back of his head. “I like the look of over-the-mouth on you,” Karl reflected. “And it soaks up the saliva. But it’s the ball gag next time.” The hard edge to his voice had tiny tremors rippling Elliot’s skin and his rapidly filling balls had him shifting on the table. “Although I do like to hear you,” Karl commented, drawing a sharp fingernail down Elliot’s spine. Elliot, eyes wide, struggled around the gag. “You struggle so prettily,” Karl told him, watching his face. Elliot didn’t think he looked pretty at all. He thought he looked like the thickset, almost middle-aged man he was. But here, at Karl’s, he felt pretty, perhaps, and loved the sensation. He thrilled at all the different feelings that each part of the appointment provided, and underlying them all was pride in himself for having taken this stride toward what he needed. Another step out from behind the wall I built around myself. Karl’s “Ready?” had hardly reached Elliot’s ears before Karl delivered the first blow, an open-handed spank to one ass cheek. Although Elliot knew what was coming, the first strike was always a jolt, a blow he felt radiate out from the point of impact to his toes in one direction and his head in the other—Karl hit hard. Elliot breathed out around the cloth in his mouth, riding the sensations in the few seconds Karl allowed before he followed the initial smack with a second to the other cheek, one that made Elliot pant through the gag. More powerful, meaty smacks followed, Lars’ quiet voice counting them. Having Karl’s sub witness what his Dom, Karl, did to Elliot was part of the process. “Ten. And that’s the warm-up.” Elliot was almost relieved. He was already burning, tears slipping from his eyes. He turned slightly to catch Lars’ impassive expression and that added to the sensations buffeting him. He turned back to see Karl in the mirror, shaking out his hand. “Now, sting or thud?” Karl watched Elliot’s hand and repeated, his voice harsher, “Elliot, sting? Thud?” On the second choice, Elliot curled his fingers twice, their agreed signal for yes. Everything they practiced was always pre-negotiated. “Good.” Karl took a wooden paddle from the flat box Lars held out to him. He motioned to Lars to loosen Elliot’s gag a little. “How many?” “U…up to you, sir,” Elliot managed before Lars replaced the gag again. “Is the correct answer.” Elliot thought Karl rewarded him for it by hitting extra hard. “Five, I think…” The blows Karl, pro-Dom, landed were precise. He’d never once come anywhere near to striking Elliot’s hip or tailbones. The impact of each tightened every nerve in Elliot’s body and fired heat through every vein, intensifying with each hit. “Ai’ive,” Elliot counted, as well as he could around the soaked cloth in his mouth. “And now the other…” Karl murmured, and selected a new paddle for Elliot’s other butt cheek. “No!” Elliot implored through the gag, trying to struggle. “Nuff. Can’t take more…” Karl waited a few seconds then bent low to speak next to Elliot’s head. “Oh, you’ll take it, Elliot. And any more protest, and I add strokes to the tally.” That extra bite, that element of being forced that inch beyond what he said he could handle—thought he could handle—was everything to Elliot. It had started with being strapped down—he still remembered his struggles—then having another person witness his play… All things Elliot had barely understood deep down in the recesses of his psyche that he craved. But he was starting to understand more and more…and act on his needs. Karl straightened and began again, and there was only the impact, the blows, and Elliot’s soul vibrating to each one, to take him soaring. Heat burning through him, he was shaking and sweating when Karl finished. He had his eyes closed, but felt hands undoing his straps, then Karl was helping him to turn over. He cried out when his abused ass made contact with the table. “Look at you.” Karl’s voice held admiration for Elliot’s straining cock, the head wet and shiny with pre-cum. “How badly do you need to come?” This was another Karl question that didn’t need an answer. “You’re going to wait a full minute. Do not touch yourself until I say. Understood? Say the word.” “Understood.” It came out in nothing like his usual cultured tone. The second hand on the large wall clock had never moved so slowly. Elliot, desperate, was just beginning to suspect something was wrong with it or that Karl had rigged it, when Karl nodded. “Do it. Let me see you.” It didn’t take Elliot long. A few pulls at himself, a loud moan and he climaxed over his stomach and chest, his body a rigid arch off the table. His eyes on Karl, basking in the warmth on his face and the praise he loosed, Elliot milked his cock to the last drops. He accepted the soft tissues Karl held out to him to dab at himself. It didn’t matter, because the session always finished with another shower. His after-shower always felt totally different from the one before, and now Elliot was less keyed up, he could appreciate the finer details, such as Karl having ready the bergamot and sandalwood soap Elliot liked, which he used at home. Elliot lathered his body, wondering as he always did if he’d ever have someone do that for him, in the same ways as he’d soap that person, both of them caring for the other. He made himself wait until he was toweling himself dry to examine his ass cheeks. What he saw had him grinning, and not just at the reddened color—the paddles Karl had used on him had been imprinted. He’d tried to glimpse the words or designs on them during the session but had been unable. Now, though, he stared at his right cheek, with its new image of a heart, right in its center, and at his left, which bore the word love. He did love it, every aspect of coming here, the service Karl provided, the careful way he ran his business, how it didn’t feel like a transaction… As much as Elliot thrilled to the anticipation and thrived on the acts themselves, he also loved the winding down. The final stage was always out on the back porch with Karl, for light chat and the herbal tea they both enjoyed…and Elliot forced himself not to wince at how sitting on his recently paddled ass felt. “Do you get to the club much?” Elliot thought to ask. The place they’d met, where Karl played as a Dom. “Not as much now.” Karl put his cup down. “And I know you don’t either. The atmosphere’s a little different in there recently. I think there are some changes on the horizon—I heard it’s getting a little harder-edged, more extreme, and maybe new management? But we’ll see if the changes are for the better. Some can be.” Elliot’s preference for a routine was a half-joke between them. When he stood to go, Karl looped a hand around his upper back to bring him close. “Take care,” he murmured. Elliot started his walk to the store. He felt good, lighter, as he always did after a session with Karl, yet heaviness was creeping in sooner than it usually did. He reviewed the progress he’d made. Trying to come out from behind the barricades he’d shuttered himself behind, he’d gone for coffee with a couple of guys from his sports club and even a drink once, but there’d been no spark. Then, when he’d come to understand that rough, submissive sex was what he craved, he’d gone looking for it in Caress, where there were plenty of Doms. But as much as he might crave to play in public, the idea of subbing to someone he didn’t know, who didn’t know him, and who Elliot didn’t know if he could trust, made him freeze up. He’d found a good compromise in Karl and his behind-closed-doors service. He liked the kind of man Karl was, and also their arrangement, but couldn’t help envying what Karl and Lars had. What must that be like, that sort of relationship? To be with someone he could give all of himself to, voice all his needs to, and for that person to act on them with him…because they met his needs too? And all of them, including companionship, domesticity… He’d never had that and doubted he ever would. “Wishes and dreams, maybes and moonbeams.” It was a silly expression of his grandmother’s, one he hadn’t thought of for years, and it came to him out of the blue. No. Elliot focused on the day ahead, on his schedule, what he’d be doing and when. He planned to order something different for lunch—that was the next brick he was going to topple from the wall around himself. Maybe one day, in the future, h Now was longing, as tenuous and as strong as a moonbeam, slipping through the cracks.

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About the Author

Bailey Bradford

A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn’t happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey’s brain demanding to be let out. Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey’s office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey’s presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.


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