SHADES OF LUST
The Carnal Tower #1
by E.M. Lindsey
Release Date: February 2, 2022
Natasha Snow Designs
Genre: M/M Romance
Golden Czermak @ FuriousFotog
Trope: Bi-awakening, found-family
“The path to paradise begins in hell.”
― Dante Alighieri
On a small path leading to nowhere sits a looming cathedral, once-abandoned, now hosting the most dangerous of pleasures.
And Stone Brice is the most dangerous of all: Lust. A former acrobat, Stone’s life was changed dramatically after an accident, and now he runs The Carnal Tower, a place where people can go to have their deepest and sometimes darkest fantasies realized.
Stone is a man who is rarely taken by surprise, so when he meets the artist, August Ashley, he doesn’t expect to trip and fall at his feet—literally. But there’s something about the quiet stranger in the park that Stone wants to take apart, and that feeling only gets worse the more Stone gets to know him.
Stone is well aware he can’t mix business and pleasure, but when August comes to him with a proposal for a trade—seven paintings for seven nights with Lust—he can’t say no. Not when it means he’ll be able to have August exactly the way he wants him—even if it’s just for a week.
Stone has every plan to strip August down to his very soul, but the longer the week goes on, the more Stone comes to realize that August might very well be his undoing.
Shades of Lust is the first book in The Carnal Tower Series. It features a bi-awakening, high heat, low angst, and the human embodiment of a seven deadly sin whose sole purpose is to make sure his client never forgets their week at The Carnal Tower. Each book in the series can stand on their own, and all contain no cheating, and a happily ever after.
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Stone whipped his shirt off and tossed it onto the seat of a chair that was heavy with books. August watched the motion of it, almost transfixed, then he looked back at Stone, and there was fire back in his gaze.
“Turn around for me?”
The question was almost a whisper, but Stone heard the words like they were a gunshot, and he only just had control of his balance as he did what August asked. He felt tense and too hot and too cold all at the same time. He heard the man’s footsteps, but he still jolted when warm fingers pressed against the lower part of his spine.
“Is this alright?” August asked.
Stone took a moment to breathe. “You can touch me however you like, whenever you like.”
“This isn’t…We’re not on the clock,” August stammered. His fingers spasmed a bit, but they didn’t pull away, and Stone considered that a victory. “I don’t want to presume.”
“You’re a special case. And anyway,” he said, conjuring those words from before, “we’re friends, right? And my friends can touch me however they need to.”
“Friends,” August echoed. His fingers traveled up like they were counting the bumps of Stone’s vertebrae, then they paused in the space between his shoulder blades. “I want to mark you.”
“However you need,” Stone repeated. He jolted a second later because he’d thought August meant with his mouth. Then he felt the press of something hard and rough against his back. The charcoal, he realized.
“Too much?” August asked.
“Not at all. I’m,” he said, then stopped. Yours, he was going to say, and it was true, but he couldn’t cross that line. “I’m good,” he offered instead.
August let out a puff of air, then Stone bent his head forward as he felt the first pass of the burnt lump. For the longest stretch of forever, he wasn’t sure what August was doing, and then, as his hand passed over huge curves and swirls, he realized it.
August was giving him wings made of long-dead fire.
He had never felt more like a fallen angel than he did standing there in that chaotic studio with the man he was falling for right behind him. And that feeling was making him want to cross every line and break every rule.
When August’s hand began to falter, Stone looked over his shoulder and saw the man staring at him, blinking slowly. He cleared his throat, and August looked up, but his reactions were delayed.
“Sweetheart,” he murmured.
August’s lips turned up in the slowest smile. “You always say stuff like that. It’s nice.”
“And you’re high,” Stone shot back.
When he wavered, Stone spun all the way and caught him around the waist with his arm. “How about we get you into bed?”
August said nothing, but he didn’t fight when Stone steered him out of the studio and into the next room. The light was dim, and Stone looked around for the switch before leading August to his bed. The man flopped down and burrowed under the covers, smiling a little and making Stone’s heart seize in his chest.
“Want me to tuck you in?” he asked, half joking but more than willing.
August made a soft noise and rubbed his face against the pillow, so Stone took that as a request and carefully knelt down on the floor before pulling the blankets from where they were tangled up and settling them over August’s body.
“What else can I do for you?”
“A kiss,” August said, his voice barely there.
Stone swallowed thickly. “Sweetheart…”
“I know,” August said. “I’m…The meds are working, but I know what we are. I know what…what I said. I just wish it was real.”
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