Release Blitz

Any Day

Any Day by Brian Lancaster

General Release Date: 5th October 2021

Word Count: 101,106 Book Length: SUPER PLUS NOVEL Pages: 381

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE GAY GLBTQI MYSTERY

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Book Description

For some, it takes a lifetime and a mystery to find each other. Successful businessman Leonard Day’s life revolves around his work until a call from his mother summons him back to his family home in Drayton, Norwich. His father has died. With a past he would rather forget, builder Adrian Lamperton prefers to live alone. But when Lenny Day arrives in town, feelings of attraction resurface. Leonard learns he has inherited a Welsh farmhouse, something nobody knew about, and employs Adrian to help inspect the property. But tragedy and mystery surround the house and very soon they start to unearth things that others would prefer remain buried. Reader advisory: This book contains references to suicide, attempted murder and religious bigotry. There are mentions of drug use, prostitution, child abuse and abandonment, and homophobia.

Excerpt

Sunday morning, Leonard Day lowered himself into the plush black leather chair at his sixteenth-floor office desk. Still wearing his warm grey tracksuit and saffron Bluetooth headphones, he sank back into the soft padding, pressed a button to boot up his laptop, then placed his phone and car keys alongside the mouse mat designed to resemble a Persian rug. Issuing a bark of laughter only he could hear, he ripped off the two fluorescent-pink Post-it notes, one stuck in the middle of each of his monitors. Both carried warnings in vivid purple felt-penmanship—one to ‘Go Home!’ and the other to ‘Get @ Life!’ Shaking his head but still grinning at being caught out again, he dropped the notes into his wire wastebasket as his gaze trailed to the day outside the room. Framed by the tinted office windows, a beautiful spring morning had woken to life. Sunlight glistened off the rain-slick roofs of regimented rows of South London terraced houses. From a music app playlist on his smartphone, the opening strains of Vaughan Williams’ Symphony No. 5 in D major provided the perfect soundtrack to the tranquil morn. Naive perhaps, but he used to think none of his staff knew about his habit of slipping into the office on Sunday mornings. He went there not so much to check figures and plan the week, but to avoid being at home on what had once been his favourite day of the week. The easiest way to change a habit is to create a new and better one, his late Qigong teacher had once advised. So after performing a regular morning routine of gentle moves and stretching exercises in the back garden and after locking up the house, Leonard escaped to his office, the perfect distraction and a familiar sanctuary in his otherwise solitary world. And his team were none the wiser. Until the day Kieran had rumbled him. His young, energetic marketing manager, who had impeccable attention to detail, had caught Leonard out a few months ago. Kieran—dropped off at the office each weekday morning before anyone else arrived—had noticed reports on Leonard’s desk on Monday morning, ones that hadn’t been there the previous Friday because Leonard had been travelling. Confronted, Leonard had confessed but had tried to fob off the action as a one-off urgent business need. Kieran hadn’t bought the excuse, and, like the Post-it warnings this morning, he often booby-trapped Leonard’s desk. ‘If you insist on everyone having a work–life balance,’ Kieran had stated aloud at a staff meeting, ‘then you should set an example and live by your words.’ Had Leonard listened to the office designer’s recommendations, he would now have a lockable corner office. But ever since taking the floor space, Leonard had insisted on open-plan for everyone, the only enclosed spaces being a fish tank—glass conference room—at either end of the office. Leonard’s desk sat in the middle of the open space, the same size as everyone else’s, surrounded by a team he considered his surrogate family. And he loved being in the thick of things. None of his team just worked for him. They contributed, not one of them complaining about extra effort when business ramped up, not one having anything but positive things to say about their working environment. Leonard preached work–life balance—even if he didn’t exactly live by his own ethos—and made sure nobody stayed beyond five-thirty every day unless absolutely necessary. And every Friday, to show his gratitude, he either prearranged snacks and drinks in the office from four-thirty if he happened to be away or took them to a local wine bar. In the office, at least, Leonard found smiling effortless. But Kieran didn’t miss a trick. On his day off, he’d brought his Cockapoo canine rescue called Ed into the office—a fiery red bundle of havoc—and had tried to persuade an amused Leonard to get a pet dog himself. Leonard blamed his schedule, which meant him being regularly away from home, travelling to various parts of the country for a week or more, assessing listed buildings or attending antique shows or car auctions. Kieran hadn’t bought the excuse. ‘Sorry, Len,’ he’d said one Friday evening as the whole team had gathered around a wine bar table for drinks. ‘But I’m calling bullshit for three very distinct reasons. First off, you can employ a dog sitter for when you’re travelling. I can even provide names. Second, did you or did you not employ Izzy here as your assistant director for the sole purpose of reducing your workload?’ Only Kieran dared challenge him publicly this way, always in a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek manner. He’d wanted intelligent, creative, personable Kieran as his number two. But when Kieran and his husband Kennedy had added twin boys to their family unit, many of their priorities had changed. ‘You already know the answer to that.’ ‘Then let her. She’s more than capable of hunting out grubby antiques around the country, or looking over run-down, borderline derelict properties.’ Isabelle had sat smiling down at her glass of Merlot and said nothing. ‘Remind Kieran again what they’re called, will you please, Isabelle?’ ‘Listed buildings,’ Isabelle had said, laughing along with the rest of the team. ‘We call them listed buildings, Kieran. But thank you for your advice. Your point has been made and will be taken into consideration.’ ‘Then I rest my case,’ said Kieran, folding his arms and sitting back. ‘Hang on, you said three reasons.’ ‘Ah, yes. Thirdly—and most importantly—Ed needs a playmate.’ ‘Of course he does. Let me think about it.’ Leonard raised his gaze to Kieran’s haphazard workspace and smirked. The monitor had been plastered randomly with an assortment of colourful Post-it reminders in his distinctive handwriting while trade magazines lay open across the keyboard. Pride of place on his desk sat a large, framed photo of him, his husband and their kids. Another showed their cheeky-faced mutt with what looked like a television remote control in his mouth. Thirty-two years old and Kieran had surrounded himself with so much love. The quiet young man Leonard had first encountered on a cruise ship had blossomed into a doting husband and father. Leonard turned forty-seven in May, and what did he have? A handful of successful businesses, but there it ended. At home? Not even a goldfish. Then again, perhaps he’d already had his time in the light. The real reason Leonard had not followed through on the dog plan was because he didn’t share Kieran’s affinity for pets. During his childhood he’d broached the subject once only—he must have been seven or eight at the time—and both parents had stated their disgust at domestic animals, dismissing them as unruly and unhygienic. There the conversation had ended. Both accomplished scientists—microbiologists—they’d lived in a simple semi-detached a few miles away from the university campus. Work had been their lives. His father specialised in mycology, the study of mushrooms, toadstools and other fungi, and particularly how various species can kill or cure. At the same time, his mother, more interested in classification, had concentrated her efforts on microbial taxonomy—the naming and classification of micro-organisms. As couples went, they could not have been a more perfect match. For a few seconds, he stared at his Cisco desk phone, toying with the idea of ringing them. Usually the call entailed dull generalities and awkward silences, neither party having much of any interest to share. Both parents had retired from university life. Heaven only knew what they talked about at home. Being an only child, Leonard wondered if he had been an experiment rather than a child born of intimacy. Neither parent had demonstrated the kind of tactile warmth or fondness he had witnessed in other families. Not that his were uncaring or cruel in any way. Nutrition and learning had been equally valued in their house. As academics, they had encouraged his studies, praising him for good grades while trying hard to mask their disappointment when he failed at any subject related to the pure sciences. Their frustration had been mitigated when he’d excelled at mathematics, social sciences and, in particular, business studies. After a quick check of message headings in his inbox, most of which he had already opened and drafted replies to—he never sent his team emails over the weekend—he returned to the one containing attachments sent by his finance officer. Spreadsheets often proved too long and detailed to open on his home laptop but displayed adequately on his two monitors. End-of-month figures popped up on his screens, much as Leonard had expected except for the incredible numbers on their latest venture, the online auction. Between the two of them, Isabelle and Kieran had come up with the idea as an extension of their antiques and artisans site. Traffic had increased tenfold, but more importantly, sales in both had skyrocketed. He folded his arms, sat back in his chair and allowed himself a private moment to gloat. Fortunately for him, a single-minded determination to focus in the field of business management had allowed him to study for his undergraduate degree in Bournemouth, far enough away that his parents only deemed the occasional visit home necessary. When the time had come to leave at the age of nineteen, he had been able to fend for himself, had learnt to appreciate his own company. A more challenging lesson had been in realising he had developed a singular attractiveness in his late teens. One female college student had referred to him as the sexy lone wolf, but despite getting plenty of offers from girls, his heart hungered only for other boys. After scanning other columns of figures, and satisfied all of them headed in the right direction, he checked the time on his phone—ten o’clock. An hour before he needed to set off for the hotel in York to spend two days in business meetings and viewing potential properties around the area. Far enough from home he might even try for a random hook-up using the app he had recently discovered and downloaded. Kieran had been right about one thing. At some point, he needed to get himself a life. Although made in jest, a quip about him by a male friend on a cruise holiday still stung. Thinking Leonard to be out of earshot, someone had asked this friend why he’d nicknamed Leonard ‘Any Day’. He had replied, ‘Because any day is better than Lenny Day. The man is a walking misery.’ Overhearing this, he had been shocked to the core. When had he changed from being a sexy lone wolf to a ‘walking misery’? Naturally Kennedy had stepped in to defend him even though, in fairness, the friend had less-than-respectful names for all of their acquaintances. The main problem? Leonard had sensed the truth behind the quip. Maybe he needed to make more of an effort to be cheerful outside of his day-to-day. As he closed down programs on his laptop and pulled off his earphones, he raised his head and froze, his attention drawn to a distant sound. Barely audible beyond the building’s thick glazing, somewhere out there in the suburbs, cutting through the constant hum of traffic, came the peal of church bells. For as long as comfortably possible, he held his breath, squeezing his eyes shut and absorbing the simple melody. Church bells, like Sunday mornings at home, reminded him of Kris. And without warning or witness, he was overcome by the kind of immobilising grief that he had hoped would have receded after the death of his lover ten years ago. He rarely allowed himself to wallow in thoughts of their time together, but the memory blindsided him and filled him with such warmth and love and togetherness. And when those tender recollections inevitably melted away they would leave him emotionally desolate, standing alone in the stark coldness of reality. But for now he would allow himself to listen to the bells, and wallow and remember… Until the shrill ring of his desk phone drowned out everything. For a moment, he sat there, appalled at the intrusion, glaring at the device, deciding whether or not to answer. Eventually, after several rings, he relented. “Days-Gone-By Enterprises,” he answered gruffly, ripping a tissue from a box on his desk and dabbing at his eyes. “Leonard,” came his mother’s stern voice. Although no explanation had been forthcoming, she no longer called his mobile phone. “I tried you at your house but you weren’t answering. You need to come home. Your father passed this morning, and I need your help arranging things. When can you be here?” “What?” said Leonard, caught off guard. “Oh, God, Mum. Dad died? I’m so sorry. What happened?” “Not now. When can you be home?” “I—I can come now.” He had a case in his car for the business trip. By some stroke of fate he had even packed his black Hugo Boss suit for meetings. With a few clicks of his phone he could cancel the York trip. “I suppose I could be there around three or four. Traffic willing.” “I’ll get your room ready.” “Mum, what—?” Before he had a chance to probe any further, she ended the call. Annoyance bubbled in him. Most of the time he accepted his mother’s natural candour, and admired her ability to view and deal with the world dispassionately. Right now, he wished he had a parent who could be sensitive to the emotions a son might be feeling at the passing of the only father he would ever have. Perhaps she knew without asking that he considered grief an old friend. As he left the office, he did something he hated and called Isabelle on her day off to hand over the reins for the week ahead. At home, his own house, everything would be fine. Striding across the empty car park, Kieran’s words came back to him and cemented inside. He needed to find a life. At the moment, he seemed to be surrounded by too much death.

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About the Author

Brian Lancaster

Brian Lancaster is an author of gay romantic fiction in multiple genres, including contemporary romance, paranormal, fantasy, crime, mystery, and anything else that tickles his muse’s fancy. Born in the sleepy South of England where most of his stories are set, he moved to Southeast Asia in 1998, where he now shares a home with his husband and two of the laziest cats on the planet. Find out more about Brian at his website.

Giveaway

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The Game Changer

The Game Changer by Jaqueline Snowe

Book 2 in the Cleat Chasers series

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

Genres:

CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE FAKE RELATIONSHIPS FRIENDS TO LOVERS SPORTS

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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.

Excerpt

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.

Giveaway

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Release Blitz

Whisper

Whisper by Ellen Mint

Book 3 in the Coven of Desire series

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

Genres:

ANGELS AND DEMONS CONTEMPORARY EROTIC ROMANCE MULTICULTURAL PARANORMAL REVERSE HAREM WERESHIFTERS

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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.

Excerpt

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.” No!

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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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666 Things to Do with a Demon

666 Things to Do With a Demon by Catherine Curzon & Eleanor Harkstead

Word Count: 12,431 Book Length: SHORT STORY Pages: 50

Genres:

COMEDY AND HUMOUR CONTEMPORARY HALLOWEEN ROMANCE

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Book Description

What you can’t see could kill you.

When Cecily arrives at her new home with her fiancé, Raf, she’s looking forward to a happy life with all her fears behind her. No longer a put-upon drudge, she is loved and free, ready to explore their new world.

After a summer spent battling the forces of darkness, Raf’s happy to get back to the garden of his chaotic ancestral home. There are flowers to tend and vegetables to harvest and he’s determined to create a perfect sanctuary for Cecily to call her own.

But when a demon made of glass escapes from an ancient church window, the peace of their idyllic village is shattered. Neighbour turns against neighbour, crops turn bad in the soil and flies blacken the air. As a child lingers between life and death, bewitched by the glass demon’s bite, Raf and Cecily must remind the villagers of what really matters and unite the community in a battle to send their infernal tormentor back to hell.

Excerpt

Peri sat cross-legged on the floor in the middle of her chalked-out pentagram with Grizelda, her sleek black cat, on her knee. Supposedly this made looking for a boyfriend more effective, but all she was doing was swiping left on the app, with Grizelda occasionally intervening to swipe left for her. Why did none of the men on Spellr look even vaguely appealing? Some weren’t too bad. In fact, some were quite handsome, but they all lacked that certain something. And Peri had no idea what that something was. All her friends were getting married, one by one, and Peri’s wardrobe was bulging with bridesmaids’ dresses. But there seemed to be no sign of her ever adding a wedding dress to her collection. Her friends had tried to pair her off, usually with their own brothers or their husbands’ friends. They told her she couldn’t keep hunting for the perfect man, because he just didn’t exist. But Peri couldn’t help it. Life was too short to settle for second best. But the Assistant Great Wizard’s Halloween ball was that evening and Peri still didn’t have a date. She could have turned up as a merry spinster, but she just wanted to be able to sweep up the grand steps with a devastatingly handsome man on her arm. Is it too much to ask for? She got up to her feet and paced back and forth across the room. Spellr was hopeless. Her friends’ matchmaking attempts had been hopeless. Then her gaze fell on the pentagram. What if I—? She’d once found a spell that would conjure a demon who would materialise in the form of the most perfect man one could ever meet. He would exist for the night, then by morning would be gone—much like Peri’s last experience with the opposite sex. But at least he’d be her demon for a few hours, because after she’d summoned him, he would be hers, to follow her bidding. At least, within a carefully defined set of rules, because no one wanted to upset a demon. Peri switched on her computer and flipped through a folder of photographs she’d taken on her various visits to the National Witchcraft Archives. She found the image she wanted, of crabbed handwriting on a page of parchment. A very rare spell, one that had been assumed lost, or known only to sorcerers of rank like the Assistant Great Wizard, until Peri had found it. It hadn’t been in the grimoire’s table of contents, and had looked like nothing more than a blank page to start with. But slowly the words had appeared, as if bubbling up from the parchment beneath, and quite by accident Peri had found herself staring at Ye Spelle to Summune A Daemon Lover. Or, as it had been whispered about at university, The Sex Demon Spell. Peri hadn’t photographed the page with any intention to use the spell. It had been more of a trophy find. But that was then. Now she needed the perfect man for the party, and if that meant summoning a demon lover for the evening, so be it. She made her preparations, lighting candles at the five points of her pentagram and sweeping the space with a bundle of lavender. She set up her cauldron on a trivet in the middle of the pentagram and added the vast number of ingredients demanded by the spell, including an Eve root and an Adam root in a pouch, rosemary oil and red rose petals, all stirred with a length of unicorn horn. Which would have been easy had Grizelda not decided to help. She rubbed herself around Peri’s legs and nearly knocked her over. She sent a candle flying, spilling wax onto the floorboards. She climbed up the shelves of grimoires and ingredients and batted at the jars. She leapt with no warning over Peri’s head, hell-bent on catching a spider. And brought down a shelf with a clatter. “What are you doing?” Peri folded her arms as Grizelda nonchalantly rolled about on her back, tummy uppermost, and proceeded to have a wash. “Some witch’s cat you are!” Peri crawled about on her hands and knees with a dustpan and brush, trying to clear up the mess. At least the jars were old and sturdy—none had broken, even though some had lost their lids, spilling their contents all over the floor. But Grizelda continued in her efforts to be as unhelpful as possible. She walked through powdered centaur tears and chased a bead of quicksilver. “Griz!” Peri picked the cat up and Grizelda slipped out of her clutches, purring as she slunk onto Peri’s shoulders and draped herself there. “Right, let’s hope you behave now.” Peri carried on clearing up, balancing the cat as she worked. But when she went back to the cauldron, the ingredients had turned into a revolting soup. Peri gave it a stir, trying not to inhale the rancid stench. Will this work? She intoned the words of the spell anyway, hoping things might not be quite as bad as they seemed. Lightning cracked overhead and she stepped back, holding the unicorn horn aloft and chanting the last line of the spell again over the motorboat roar of Grizelda’s purr. “Demon I summon thee! Asmodeus, come!” Peri fully expected the room to fill with the smell of scorching, swiftly followed by her perfect man. But nothing happened. Rain battered against her windows now, the storm growing keener all the time. No demon appeared. As Peri blew out the last candle, Grizelda hopped down from her shoulders and twined around her legs. “You can’t really be my date, Grizelda, sorry…” And now it was time to get ready for the party.

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About the Authors

Eleanor Harkstead

Eleanor Harkstead likes to dash about in nineteenth-century costume, in bonnet or cravat as the mood takes her. She can occasionally be found wandering old graveyards. Eleanor is very fond of chocolate, wine, tweed waistcoats and nice pens. Her large collection of vintage hats would rival Hedda Hopper’s. Originally from the south-east of England, Eleanor now lives somewhere in the Midlands with a large ginger cat who resembles a Viking. You can follow Eleanor on Facebook and Twitter

Catherine Curzon

Catherine Curzon is a royal historian who writes on all matters of 18th century. Her work has been featured on many platforms and Catherine has also spoken at various venues including the Royal Pavilion, Brighton, and Dr Johnson’s House. Catherine holds a Master’s degree in Film and when not dodging the furies of the guillotine, writes fiction set deep in the underbelly of Georgian London. She lives in Yorkshire atop a ludicrously steep hill. You can follow Catherine on Facebook and Twitter and take a look at her Website.

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Gentle Scars by Willow Winters

Gentle Scars by Willow Winters is now live!

From USA Today best-selling author, Willow Winters, comes a tempting tale of fated love, lust-filled secrets and the beginnings of an epic war.

There was never a question of whether or not I would be his. It’s simply what fate demanded.

There’s a knowing when the werewolves find their mates. It’s an aching need, a desperation… one they would die for. But for their mates, it’s a trance, a pull, a submissive desire that’s at odds with the shadows of my past and how I’ve learned to survive.

I didn’t know how hard I’d fall. I didn’t know what destiny would bring.
I didn’t know it then that I would die for him as he would me.

This is book 2 of the To Be Claimed Saga. Wounded Kiss is book 1 and should be read first.

 

Download today on Amazon, Apple Books, Google Play, Kobo, Barnes & Noble!

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Meet Willow


I started writing after having my little girl, Evie, December of 2015. All during my pregnancy with her I read. I only wanted to read romance novels and I read everything I could get my hands on. I would read a book a day — sometimes two. In January I was staying up late with her and just thinking of all these stories. They came to me constantly. I finally sat down and just started writing. I always wanted to do it so I figured, why not?

I never thought I would reach this point of success to be honest. It’s insane to me that I have connected with so many readers.

And I love each and every one of them for all of their support. I’ll be honest, some days are HARD. I have my littles during the day and I write at night. Some days are just simply exhausting and then I hear from a reader and it motivates me to push through and keep writing. I couldn’t be more grateful for this wonderful career.

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Website: www.WillowWintersWrites.com

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Release Blitz

Alpha Elite Series by V.T. Bonds

A dark, action-packed Omegaverse Romance
The Alpha Elite Series by V.T. Bonds
https://geni.us/AlphaEliteSeries
Available on all platforms

Blurb for Unknown Omega!

Alpha Elite Series Book 1

Her
Wretch. Cur. Useless.
These are the things I’m called, for I am nameless.
Overworked. Abused.
This is my life.
My body may be weak, but my will refuses to break.
Yet one glance from a stranger at the market sends my defenses crumbling.
Can I survive him?

Him
Cunning. Fierce. Lethal.
A weapon in human form, there is no task beyond me. No mission I can’t complete. No target I cannot annihilate.
As Alpha Elites, my unit is the deadliest on the planet. Our newest mission requires a trip to the most derelict city on the planet.
Finding my Omega lifemate is not part of the plan.
Will she be my first failure?

*This story is not for the faint of heart. It is a dark action-packed Omegaverse story set in a world where violence and sexual situations occur, sometimes together. Scenes are not glossed over. Sensitive readers please abstain.*

About the Author:

V.T. Bonds is an avid reader of all things filthy and enticing. They began the slide into the darkness one book at a time.

And now the results are complete.

V.T. Bonds’ imagination has blossomed into darkness so extensive that they cannot withhold it from you any longer. Embark on a thrilling, steamy journey with them.

Let them share their corruption with you, one book at a time.

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Caged In Fire by Amy Thorn

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Release Blitz, Excerpt & Giveaway: Caged in Fire By Amy Thorn

Caged in Fire Cover

Caged Duet, Book 2

ISAAC

There are enemies all around and I’m in the hands of the worst ones my club has ever faced. They plan to sell me as punishment for what Thanatos has done to them and caught up in the cross fire, I have no idea if I’m going to survive long enough to see the man I love again. I have to keep fighting, despite the darkness that’s swallowing me whole. I have to live because dying would destroy him.

THANATOS

I never expected to fall for Isaac, but he’s fast become my reason for breathing. I’ll stop at nothing to save his life, even if it means risking my own. He’s mine and no one is ever taking him from me.

But that choice may not be mine. People are moving against me and my club. If i don’t act fast enough, Isaac could be the one to suffer.

*Warning : Contains adult content, reading age 18 +. Graphic violence and dark emotional scenes that may trigger some readers.

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Excerpt:

Thanatos

I hit the tarmac hard enough to bruise. My hands bound behind my back make it impossible for me to soften the blow as I smash into the ground, rolling a few times before I come to a sudden stop.

I lie stunned for a brief moment, my chest aching, my hips throbbing. Fuck.

Then, I remember Isaac.

Scrambling awkwardly to my knees, my gaze seeks him out, but he’s not on the road next to me. My eyes shift towards the van that is getting further and further away.

Isaac is nowhere to be seen.

He didn’t get out of the van.

That lump of meat in my chest that has only just started to beat again gets a fucking workout as it begins to gallop.

Heat and cold rises simultaneously in my body as I lurch up to my feet and sprint after the van.

I can hear the bikes behind me, can hear the rumbling of the pipes getting closer as the back of the van disappears off the horizon. I keep running, fear nipping at my heels, but it’s too late. I’m too late.

Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

I drop back to my knees, not caring about the pain that ricochets through my legs. I failed him. I let Garrett take him.

A pain lances through my chest that steals my breath. I’m going to have a heart attack. Everything feels tight, wrong.

Empty.

“Boss!”

I ignore the voice yelling at me, ignore everything but the last spot on the horizon where I saw the van.

“Than?”

A hand drops on my shoulder and I spin to see Hades. His mouth is pinched as he takes me in.

“You hurt?” he demands.

I can see my other brothers abandoning their bikes and rushing in my direction.

“Get after that van.”

The words are garbled. Hard to understand. My tongue feels too big for my mouth, my brain disconnected. Panic like I haven’t felt since Tillie was taken claws at my heart.

“Where’s Isaac?”

My eyes go to Spider as he jogs up to us.

“They took him.” I never thought anything could hurt more than losing my sister, but fuck, I was wrong. I’m drowning in blood right now, the blood of the people I’ve failed to protect. Whatever happens to Isaac is on my head.

“Who took him?” Spider’s voice is raw, because he already knows the trouble his brother is facing. He already knows the man who took him, and what he’s capable of.

“Garrett and his bastards.”

Hades pulls out a knife and cuts through the ties on my wrists. Free, I stumble to my feet.

“We have to go after them. Where’s my fucking bike?” I don’t miss the desperation in my tone, the sheer panic as I peer around, trying to see it. When I don’t, I start towards the nearest hog, intending to go after him.

“No, I’ll go,” Hades says. He gestures to Shakespeare and Weaver. “You’re with me.”

I want to argue, but my legs choose that moment to give out. Spider reaches out and grabs me, stopping me from hitting the ground, but my weight drives us to the tarmac anyway.

Ice clogs my veins as the three bikes roar off up the road in the direction the van went. I don’t fucking believe in a higher power, but if it saves Isaac’s life I’ll get on my knees and I’ll fucking pray. I know what Garrett is capable of, the hurt he will inflict on Isaac just to destroy me. I know it because I’ve seen it before. His men had broken my sister one piece at a time. They’d raped her, drugged her, shattered her like glass.

I can’t do this again.

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To celebrate the release of Caged in Fire, we is giving away 2 e-sets of the Caged Duet (2 eBooks)!

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About the Author:

Amy Thorn lives in a small market town in the Midlands, England. She lives with her dog and when she’s not writing, she’s playing with crochet hooks.

Connect with Amy: https://www.facebook.com/AmyThornAuthor https://www.facebook.com/groups/amythornreaders


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Release Blitz

BY THE RED MOONLIGHT – AMANDA MEUWISSEN

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: By the Red Moonlight

Author: Amanda Meuwissen

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Artist: Kris Norris

Release Date: October 5, 2021

Genre: Shifter Paranormal M/M Romance

Tropes: Forbidden love, enemies to lovers, found family

Themes: Destiny

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Length: 221 pages

It is book 1 of a new series but does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads

Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Dreamspinner Press

On All Hallow’s Eve when the sky glows bright…

Blurb

Alpha werewolf, crime boss, and secret Seer Bashir Bain is neck-deep in negotiating a marriage of convenience with a neighboring alpha when a tense situation goes from bad to worse. A job applicant at one of Bash’s businesses—a guy who was supposed to be a simple ex-cop, ex-con tattoo artist—suddenly turns up undead.

A rogue newborn vampire would have been a big wrench in Bash’s plans even without his attraction to the man. After all, new vampires are under their sire’s control, and Ethan Lambert doesn’t even know who turned him. When Bash spares his life, he opens himself up for mutiny, a broken engagement, and an unexpected—and risky—relationship.

Ethan just wants a fresh start after being released from prison. Before he can get it, he’ll need to turn private investigator to find out who sired him and what he wants. And he’d better do it quick, because the moon is full, and according to Bash’s prophecy, life and death hang in the balance.

Excerpt 

Blood. Not visible, but he could smell it. A lot of it. Impossible to detect inside the parlor, because it always carried a faint scent of blood due to the needle work, but outside, Bash had no doubts. Those who knew about him being a Seer knew his hunches were never wrong.

A man sprinted toward him and was stopped cold when Bash shot out an arm to catch him by the throat.

No, not a man.

vampire.

The hiss and growl and snap of fangs made it difficult to hold the creature at bay, especially since he was strong—incredibly strong. Bash could barely contain him, which should not have been a challenge as an Alpha against a newborn, but that’s what this vampire had to be, because Bash recognized him, and he hadn’t been a vampire a few hours ago. The sire had to be powerful to create a fledgling this strong on its first night turned.

“A shame we couldn’t offer you that job, Mr. Lambert,” Bash said evenly. Poor man never even made it out of the neighborhood after his interview.

Lambert—Ethan Lambert, Bash recalled—snapped again with a click of fangs. A shame indeed, but this had to be Ethan. Bash would have known anyone else lurking about these streets, shifter or human, and the young vampire had natural red hair and a handsome face beneath the raging hunger, just how Siobhan had described him.

Shifter eyes glowed with power when they gave in to their true forms, but a vampire’s changed entirely. They shone yellow when fed, amber when hungry, and red when feral. Ethan’s eyes matched the moon above. What little control he might have had if he wasn’t a newborn was buried in the back of his mind by the overwhelming need to feed.

“The hell?” Deanna bellowed from the mouth of the alley, throwing back her shoulders and letting her fangs and claws extend, her skin darkening to a deep indigo-black, fur sprouting rapidly across her skin. She was ready to tear the vampire to pieces as soon as Bash threw him her way, which was what Bash planned to do….

When he caught the glow of the scarlet moon above Ethan’s head.

Somewhere deep within the red of Ethan’s eyes was green. Bash couldn’t see it, but he knew, like a vision of the man Ethan had once been, beautiful and smiling and utterly enchanting.

With a howl, Bash slammed Ethan’s head down into the pavement once, twice, three times before he stilled.

“What did you do that for?” Deanna growled. “Rip his damn head off!”

“No,” Bash said, the claws of the hand that had seized Ethan the only part of him changed, and now that too shifted back. He bent beside Ethan, whose fangs were still visible with his lips parted, but his eyes were closed, chest still since he no longer needed to breathe. “We’re bringing him back to the den. I have questions.”

“What?” Deanna balked, all towering force even as she shifted human, save the glow of her burning violet eyes. “That’s a vampire, Bash! A parasite!”

“I’m aware, and we are taking him back with us. Now pick him up.”

“Fat chance!”

“Deanna, I am your—”

“Fuck you, big shot Alpha! When you’re being an idiot, you’re just Bash, and you can’t go bringing some fanger home when negotiations with Russell are heating up. If you ever thought a Halloween was the night, this is the one. Kill the guy and be done with it.”

That was the easy answer, but if it was easy, why bother with a prophecy? When had a vampire even entered Bash’s city? And what did it want? It couldn’t be a coincidence that Ethan had been turned and left on Bash’s doorstep.

Vampires were vermin, an infestation to be rid of if even one was discovered in pack territory. As they aged, they became far stronger than shifters, which was why they had to be eradicated before they spread, or they might take over. They were messy and foolish and too easily made feral, just like their wild newborns. Better to kill them on sight, always. Bash couldn’t even remember the last time a vampire had been spotted in Centrus City.

But if the prophecy meant for Bash to kill Ethan, why have his art so entrancing? Why have his eyes cut through Bash like bullets? Why have every part of Bash’s instincts screaming at him that killing was not the answer? There were too many connecting pieces for him to take the easy route like his father would have in his place.

“Pick him up. If I’m right, my future betrothed never needs to know.”

“Yeah,” Deanna scoffed despite bending to do as ordered, “and if you’re wrong, we’re all screwed.”

About the Author 

Amanda Meuwissen is a bisexual author, with a primary focus on M/M romance. As author of the paranormal romance trilogy The Incubus Saga and several other titles with various publishers, Amanda regularly attends local comic conventions for fun and to meet with fans, where she will often be seen in costume as one of her favorite fictional characters. She lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, John, and their cat, Helga.

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Blog Tour

The Single Dad’s Holiday Match by Tanya Angler

On Tour with Prism Book Tours

The Single Dad’s Holiday Match
(Smoky Mountain First Responders #1)
By Tanya Agler
Contemporary Romance, Sweet Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 Pages
September 28, 2021 by Harlequin Heartwarming

‘Tis the season… For unexpected love! 
 
Officer Jonathan Maxwell is just as devoted to his job as he is to his two young daughters, leaving zero time for a social life. Until he meets Brooke Novak. The newly hired community center director is a single parent, too, and also part of his latest investigation. Jonathan needs Brooke’s help if he’s going to close his case by Thanksgiving…but she might be the biggest distraction from keeping his mind on his job.

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About the Author


Tanya Agler is a write-at-home mom, wife, and beagle and bunny wrangler who writes sweet contemporary category romance, three of which have been published by Harlequin Heartwarming. She moved often as a child, attending twelve different schools before attending the University of Georgia where she received degrees in journalism and law.

She lives in Georgia with her wonderful husband and her four kids (Kath, MJ, Cupcake, and Chunk). She often talks about her new rescue beagle, Linus, on Twitter and Facebook. One of her favorite things to do is to curl up with a glass of iced tea and a dessert while watching a classic movie (think all the way back to Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn, snappy dialogue, and shoulder pads).

She loves visiting new parts of the country while attending writers’ conferences.
 

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