My Reviews > Forged In Fire: Paranormal Dating Agency by Sheri Lyn

Forged In Fire: Paranormal Dating Agency (Phoenix Pack #1)Forged In Fire: Paranormal Dating Agency by Sheri Lyn
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Love the twist within this story. Gerri will make you think of that one family member that has to make every one around them happy. The story was well written with some characters and their issues. How they all come together within the pack when there is problems. Cant wait to see what happens next hopefully with Soren. If you love to read about shifter then this a must read book

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Ruby Moone – Trusting Jack



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 45,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Blurb

With only a few days to go until Christmas, Michael Cross has to admit there is something amiss about his latest employee, Jack Whelan. Quiet, jumpy, thin… he never seems to eat. He is also incredibly gorgeous with dark spiky hair that Michael aches to touch. But as his boss, Jack is off limits. And when it comes to relationships, he…well, he sucks.

Jack Whelan is at the end of his tether. He’s living rough in the middle of winter, and paying off a massive debt, so getting a job with MC Securities is a lifeline. His new boss is also the hottest guy ever. Geeky, broody, and scarily clever.

When Michael stumbles upon the reality of Jack’s life, he offers to help. But as Michael’s feelings deepen, and Jack’s terrible past catches up with him, Michael has to decide between believing in the awful truth that is staring him in the face, or trusting Jack.


My name is Ruby Moone and I love books. All kinds of books. My weakness is for romance, and that can be any kind, but I am particularly fond of historical and paranormal. I decided to write gay romance after reading some fantastic books and falling in love with the genre, so am really thrilled to have my work published here. The day job takes up a lot of my time, but every other spare moment finds me writing or reading. I live in the north west of England with my husband who thinks that I live in two worlds. The real world and in the world in my head…he probably has a point!

Facebook Page – https://www.facebook.com/RubyMoone/?ref=bookmarks
Twitter – @RubyMooneWriter
Instagram https://www.instagram.com/rubymoone/

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Love Blooms

Title: Love Blooms

Author: Stephanie Hoyt

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 10, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 61800

Genre: Fantasy, Santa, elves, magic, holiday

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Synopsis

Nico Hamurişi is the one and only son of Santa Claus. All his life, Nico has known he’s expected to fall in love and find lifelong commitment by the Christmas of his thirtieth year—like every other heir before him. But knowing and accepting are vastly different things, and as the final countdown begins, Nico has yet to embrace his fate. His once great enthusiasm for eventually becoming Santa has been dimmed by uncertainty over how the Santa Line will be affected when he marries a man. With only a year left, will Nico have time to find love and commitment all while learning how magic will transform the family line to accommodate who he is and who he loves?

Excerpt

Love Blooms Stephanie Hoyt © 2018 All Rights Reserved Chapter One The sun hasn’t even begun to brighten the sky when Nico reaches the family estate. He shuts his car’s engine off in front of his childhood home and waits, staring at his watch as the seconds tick by. The hour hand strikes five and snow starts to fall. His father must have made his first delivery right on time. Nico sighs, relief washing over him at having successfully avoided the annual Christmas conversation for the next twenty-something hours. For the moment, no matter how fleeting, he can go inside without bracing himself for confrontation. The snow falls soft and cold on his face as he walks to the door, and for an instant, Nico thinks it may have been worth coming home earlier to avoid the snowfall. He laughs, short and bitter, as last year’s predelivery family dinner flashes in his mind and he remembers what avoiding the snowfall entails. He’d much rather deal with this cold, wet mess than the disappointment in his father’s eyes at another year passing by without him fulfilling his obligations as heir apparent. If last year was bad, this year will be infinitely worse. His father had been disappointed then, but now with the deadline looming so close, Nico can imagine how his father’s mood will have shifted to something far worse than disappointment. He wipes his feet on the welcome home mat and opens the door. He takes a deep breath as he steps inside and tries his best not to let this place get the better of him. It stopped being home years ago, but he can do this. He can. Except, the utter lack of even a shred of welcoming quality fills him with dread. This house has been the site of nearly every argument he’s ever had with his father and he knows he’s opened the door to yet another lecture on the expectations and obligations that come along with being the son of Kristoff Hamurişi. This year won’t be any different, especially since the final year of the countdown begins at midnight. If he’s being realistic, which he hates to do, any discussion of his failings is going to be much more tense than they’ve ever been before. But for now, the lights inside are off, save for the Christmas tree, his father is out for more than a full day’s worth of deliveries, the rest of the house seems to be fast asleep, and Nico can slip upstairs to his childhood bedroom without being noticed. At least, that’s what he was counting on. Unfortunately for him, someone had different plans for his arrival. He opens his bedroom door to a lit room and a ball of limbs and hair curled up in the middle of his bed. He sets his suitcase down with a loud thud and the ball moves, revealing the face of Noelle, the youngest of his four older sisters. “My dear little Santicholas,” she says, words and laughter both swallowed in a yawn. “I can’t believe you thought you could sneak in here unnoticed.” Nico rolls his eyes. “You know I hate when you call me that.” She untangles herself and pushes up on the tips of her toes to wrap her arms around Nico in a big, tight hug. “It’s hard to believe you do when you’re smiling so big.” Nico’s words get muffled by her hair and his own laughter. “Yeah, yeah. I missed you, too.” She lets him go, shaking her head as he starts to yawn. “You should’ve come home at a decent hour if you wanted to be well rested.” Nico narrows his eyes. “If it’s such an indecent hour then why are you up?” Noelle lets out a short huff of air, annoyed. “I wanted you to see a friendly face before…” Nico closes his eyes. Here it comes. He should have known better than to think he could avoid confrontation, even for a moment, even from his closest friend and sibling. When he opens his eyes again, Noelle’s sitting on the edge of the bed and her face has softened in a way that makes Nico feel worse. He smiles but it does nothing to wipe the gentle expression off her face; she knows him too well, knows he wears it as a shield. “You don’t have to pretend with me. I know failing is what worries you.” “Failure isn’t my concern here, Noelle.” Not entirely true. “I’m worried about what will happen if I don’t fail.” Unbearably true. Noelle raises her eyebrow, confused, and Nico’s stomach clenches. Am I actually doing this? He plows on before she can interrupt and he loses his nerve. “And I’m angry! I’m so incredibly angry I even need to be concerned by all this shit in the first place. I don’t want to think of heirs and continuing a family legacy and everything else riding on me falling in love when I don’t even know how who I love will affect any of this.” Noelle blinks, breathing out a barely audible “Oh.” Nico’s heart skips, his pulse is erratic. “I’m gay.” Noelle blinks again, and again, and again, and then, after what feels like an eternity of his stomach turning over in knots, she smiles. “Okay.” “Okay?” “Yes, okay.” She motions for Nico to sit next to her, and he does, knocking his shoulder against hers. “I was expecting a little more than an okay, if I’m being honest.” Noelle laughs, embarrassed. “I didn’t think I should start quizzing you on if you’re seeing anyone, so okay seemed, well…okay.” Nico smiles, and this time it’s not a shield. He feels lighter and more at peace in this house than he has in years. It’s such a relief to have finally shared such an important part of himself with such an important person in his life. “Who all knows?” Nico doesn’t answer immediately, and Noelle asks, “Oh, am I the only one who knows?” “No, it’s not exactly a secret. I mean, everyone I know who doesn’t know this family knows. So work and friends from college and yeah. I’m basically out to everyone except the family.” Noelle appears confused and curious. “Not even Joy? She knows how—” Nico cuts her off. “No, not even our dear lesbian sister knows. Only you.” Noelle hums an acknowledgment but doesn’t say anything else for a long while—Nico can tell she’s working through what to say next. He has an idea of what she might be thinking and supplies an answer, “I haven’t told Mom and Dad because, even though it wasn’t a thing when Joy came out, what if… I mean it’s got to be different when you don’t have to produce an heir.” Nico can’t keep the disdain out of his voice. For as long as he can remember, the heir has been his biggest concern regarding his father and, in turn, his mother finding out his sexuality. “There’s all this added pressure surrounding me finding someone to love. I know they don’t have a problem with queer people, but what if they have a problem with me being gay. There’s a lot riding on my love life.” “Okay,” Noelle nods. “Well, yeah. I can’t deny there is a lot of pressure put on you falling in love. But I’ve got your back here. No matter what happens, I’ll help you find out how this affects you being the heir apparent to the Crimson Sleigh.” Nico bursts out in laughter. “God, shut up. Why do you insist on calling it that?” Noelle smiles, pleased as can be. “Because it makes you laugh.” Nico purses his lips, trying to stifle his laughter. “You’re ridiculous, you know?” “Yes, obviously. But I am also wonderful and magical and dearly beloved by you.” “I guess.” He draws the word out, teasing, and Noelle shoves him, laughing. “Though I wouldn’t consider magical one of your finer qualities since we all are.” Noelle crinkles her nose. “If you got it, flaunt it.” Nico sighs. He wishes he was pleased with the extra magic they have, but it’s different—like everything else—when the full extent of his own powers is contingent on falling in love. “I’d much rather have no magic at all, but that’s probably just me.” “Yeah, it’s got to be just you.” She pauses, furrowing her brow in thought. “Is it even possible to have no magic, though? Everyone’s got some when it comes down to it, even the Immunes. Magic’s everywhere little bro; it’s a fact of life.” “I’d gladly trade with anyone who doesn’t have a love stipulation placed on their magic.” He doesn’t mean to sound so wishful, but so much of his life since college has been spent wondering how his life would be if he didn’t have all this extra pressure resting on his shoulders. He’d much rather be gifted with any other sort of magic; no need for the frills of Santahood. “Besides, I’m not much more powerful than anyone but Dad as it is. Since love eludes me.” Noelle’s eyes light up. “So you’re not seeing anyone?” Nico shakes his head, chuckling. He can always count on Noelle for poor segues and making him laugh. “Have you been waiting this whole time to ask me?” “No, of course not; that’d be absurd. But since you’ve brought it back up…” “I didn’t exactly bring it up.” Noelle waves her hand, dismissing his words. “Yeah, yeah. But you gave me the perfect opportunity to ask, so.” “So, what?” Nico knows what she means, but he wants to mess with her, make her work for the answer. “So”—she draws the word out, her warm brown eyes twinkling with familiar mirth—“are you or are you not seeing anyone?” “No, not at the moment.” Noelle seems surprised, and Nico supplies an answer before she can ask, “It’s not necessarily a coincidence I pursued a career in something that affords me the opportunity to travel so much—I’m not entirely sure I want to settle down or fall in love.” It’s the unfortunate truth of his life, but Noelle’s face falls. She isn’t pleased with the answer. “Oh, Nico. You can’t deny yourself love because of the things expected of you. That’s not fair to yourself.” Nico shrugs. He wishes it were that simple, but his obligations are always at the back of his mind, and it only gets worse when he meets a man who has the potential to be something more. Noelle smiles, soft and sympathetic. She gets up and ruffles his hair like she has since they were children; her fingers catch at the end where it’s starting to curl, and she clucks her tongue. It’s annoying and comforting all at the same time, as it always has been, and more of Nico’s tension slips away. Noelle’s always been such a good friend. “Mom will be up soon enough, and the rest of the house won’t be much longer after that.” Nico yawns and Noelle continues, hand on the door, ready to leave, “The kids missed you last night so you might want to nap and get a story ready for why you didn’t arrive with everyone else because I’m sure they’ll pester you for one. Especially Timmy. Belle says he’s become quite the inquisitive little boy as of late.” Nico motions for the door. “Will you stop fretting over me and go already. You said I need a nap. So let me nap.” “Okay, okay. I’m going,” she says, but before she closes the door, she peeks her head back through and says, “I’m going to help you figure this all out, Nico. I promise.” She shuts the door and Nico, for the first time in a long time, feels calm and relieved and a tad hopeful since he’s told Noelle. She’s right: he shouldn’t deny himself love. There might be a deadline and a world of responsibilities, obligations, and powers that come with being the heir apparent to the sleigh, but at the very least, he can’t let this change what he wants. He can’t let a part of his life he has never had a say in control his happiness. He wants to fall in love; he wants to settle down; he wants to open his heart and build a life with someone else. And honestly, Nico thinks, as he starts to doze off, Santa be damned if being gay will change any of that.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Thematically, Stephanie likes magic and spies and magical spies. Aesthetically, she likes glitter and gold and pineapples. She wants to put more soft, sweet bi representation into the world so that people like her teen-self can see themselves in their favorite genres and know that who they are is nothing to be ashamed of. She currently lives in the Great White North (Wisconsin) with her husband, daughter, and three dogs. The only thing getting her through these Midwest winters is the soothing sound of Tim Riggins saying “Texas forever” and the prospect of one day moving back there. She loves a good astrology twitter but ultimately only believes in it when her husband calls her stubborn and then her response is: “Well, I am a Taurus.”

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RJ SCOTT – HOME FOR CHRISTMAS



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Length: 45,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Texas Series

Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #8 – Texas Gift – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

Can Connor show River a real family Christmas?

When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.

River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.

From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Connor skidded to a stop.

The cold December wind whipped around his face, ice and snow knifing into his skin, and at first, he couldn’t make sense of what he was seeing.

Maybe he should have stopped, called 911, shouted for help, but it could’ve been too late, so he’d acted on instinct alone. He’d taken the four flights of stairs at a run, reaching the roof and throwing the door open. His lungs burned from the freezing air and his voice had gone. What now?

Why was River on the roof in nothing but jeans and a T-shirt, clearly drunk? Why was he standing on the ledge, his feet spread, his arms wide, and a bottle of vodka in his hand?

When the girl from his floor told him she’d seen River go up to the roof, he thought she’d meant something else. He often went up there to read or watch life go by. But not in a snow storm.

He didn’t expect to see River standing on the ledge in the snow.

Don’t scare him. He’ll stumble and fall. He might jump.

A gust of air slapped Connor. River swayed to the left but righted himself with the casual grace of a gymnast. River wouldn’t fall by accident. Hell, Connor had seen him balance on one hand on a diving board, perfectly still, before falling gracefully and accurately with spins and pikes into the water below. He’d never seen River falter.

“River?” Connor asked, only an inch from grabbing River’s shirt and holding him tight. He saw River tense, but he didn’t wobble in surprise or slip and fall to the ground.

“I canbalance. Look at me.” River sounded so damn proud of himself.

Connor took a small step forward, finally being able to hold River’s shirt, hoping to hell that would be enough to stop River from falling.

“Come down, buddy.”

River lifted the bottle over his head, sloshing alcohol over his hair, his tongue flicking out to catch any that ran over his face.

“Fuck,” he shouted.

Connor tugged at him, not knowing what else to do. “Come back,” he said, loud enough that River actually looked at him.

“Leave me alone,” he said.

“I’m not leaving you on the roof,” Connor snapped and got a better hold of River, hooking a finger into his belt. River wasn’t a big guy, a diver’s body, no more than five ten and a buck sixty soaking wet, but if he fell, would Connor be able to hold him long enough to save him?

River pulled against Connor’s grip, and for a second the world stopped turning as Connor had to use his entire body weight to keep him upright. Something about the action must have scared River. He cursed and rocked backward, but he still wouldn’t come down.

“Come down,” Connor pleaded. “You’re scaring me.”

“You think you gotta save me? Huh?” River threw his arms wide again, more alcohol sloshing over the top of the bottle. “I don’t need saving.”

“I want you to come down.” Connor tried for calm. What was he doing? He should have called the cops immediately when he spotted River. Or firefighters, negotiators? Or whoever the hell should’ve been here. He’d seen things like this on the television, the mediator knowing all the right things to say and do, standing by River and connecting him to his family or childhood or his faith. All Connor knew was that he needed to pull River down, use the only thing he had going for him; the fact that he was bigger and stronger.

“I like it up here!” River explained with another wide gesture. He wobbled a little but righted himself immediately.

“Come down, Riv.”

“Saint Connor tries to save everyone,” River shouted, ending with a hysterical laugh. He was clearly losing control of himself, and even if Connor did have the words to talk him down, he thought maybe he’d just yank River back onto the concrete roof of the building and worry about injuries later.

But River wasn’t finished. “Even if they don’t need saving!”

“River!”

“Who the hell cares if I can balance, huh?”

“I care,” Connor shouted back. This was so out of character.

“Yeah, right, telling me what Christmas and family is like for you, making me see it in my head, and then leaving me here alone.”

“River, please.” Connor tugged him, but River wouldn’t move back.

“Leaving me here, alone, because that’s all anyone ever does. They fuck off, leave me, and what happens when college is over, huh? What happens when I lose that?” He lifted one clenched fist to the sky. “Fuck you!”

Connor had never heard River curse like this, and he was done with holding on to him. So evaluating where they would end up if they fell backward and not caring how much it hurt, he yanked, hard. River tumbled with him, arms flailing and the vodka bottle slipping from his grasp and falling into the tub of snow-covered plants on the roof patio. The two of them fell onto the roof, Connor using his body to cushion River’s descent, getting his arms full of an icy cold man, the breath forced from his lungs when they hit the ground.

Connor enveloped him in his arms and locked his hands in place, fighting a frozen, wet, drunk River. He wouldn’t get free. Connor had his pappa’s height, a rancher’s build, and he was a solid anchor in the wind and snow. There was no point in River fighting, and somehow he must have realized he couldn’t get free and went still in Connor’s arms.

All Connor could think was that he’d wanted River back in his arms for a long time now, but he’d expected soft lighting and mood music, not driving winds and snow.

“What the hell are you doing?” Connor demanded.

“Let me the fuck go.”

“Jesus, are you trying to kill yourself?”

River attempted to wriggle free. Connor’s grip didn’t falter in his hold. With his arms securely around River, he shuffled them back so they were protected by the low wall. He wanted to get them back inside, but he wasn’t ready to let River go yet, and the door was at least ten feet away. What if River wriggled free and ran for the ledge? The idea of River on the ground, twisted in death, blood… Connor didn’t want to think about it. He opened his coat, one-handed, and then pulled River closer, trying to get as much of the material to go over him, attempting to keep them both warm. River’s skin was like ice. How long had he been standing up there?

“What were you doing?” he demanded, but River didn’t reply, only burrowed deeper into Connor’s hold. This was stupid. He needed to get them off the roof, or he needed help. His phone was in the car. The campus was emptying for Christmas. It was ten a.m., snowing. What the hell was he going to do now?

“I have no one,” River muttered, then laughed and buried his face deeper.

“What do you mean? Talk to me, River.”

“No.”

“We need to get inside.”

How the hell do I get River inside?

He imagined struggling with River’s weight, trying to get him down four flights of stairs and across to his room. Maybe if he could just get him to the car, with its heated seats and the warm air blower and the coffee in a flask that Connor had made for the start of his journey back to Dallas. Then he could call someone, the cops or a doctor? That seemed like a plan, a focus. He scrambled to his feet, bringing River with him, and stumbled inside. As soon as the door shut, warmth hit them, prickling at his exposed skin, and he moved toward the radiator, still gripping River’s belt. He let go of him long enough to remove his jacket and place it around the shivering man’s shoulders.

River buried himself in the coat, and Connor went into disaster assessment mode. He’d seen hypothermia back home at the D, and it wasn’t pretty. He remembered his pappa saying there were signs to look for, and when Jack spoke, Connor always listened. He pulled up the facts he could remember. Did River have hypothermia? His teeth weren’t chattering, and he wasn’t talking at all, so it wasn’t obvious if he was slurring. Then, even if he did talk and his speech was slurry, how could Connor tell how much vodka he’d drunk? Connor tried to remember the symptoms. The college hospital wasn’t far away. He could drive there, and they would help.

Why the hell did I leave my phone in the damned car?

“It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“No, you’re not.”

“You can go,” River said dully. He wriggled closer to the radiator.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“But you are,” River murmured. “You kissed me, you got me off, and now you’re leaving today.” Then he hid his face in his hands. “Shit, shit, shit.”

Wait. Was this about what happened at the thanksgiving party?

Is this my fault?

Connor didn’t usually drink that much, but he’d had one beer too many at the party, to the point where he had all the courage he needed to wait for River to come out of the bathroom.

“Can I kiss you?” he’d asked, and River had stared at him, stone-cold sober and narrow-eyed.

But then, holy shit, River had pushed him back into the nearest bedroom, shut the door, and the kiss had turned into something more, hands tangled in hair, the two of them kissing and rutting against each other until they were coming in their jeans. Really unromantic. Nothing more than getting off, and River had left before Connor could even get his breath back. Not the best of outcomes. Then River had ignored him. Not returning texts, no more study sessions in the library, and he’d even missed the last lecture of the semester.

All of that told Connor on thing: River wasn’t interested in anything more with him. But that didn’t mean they weren’t still friends. They sat in silence for a few minutes, River’s face still buried in his hands, and he was clearly crying.

What the hell should I do now?

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

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Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 

Length: 45,000 words approx.

Cover Design: Meredith Russell

Texas Series

Book #1 – The Heart of Texas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Texas Winter – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Texas Heat – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #4 – Texas Family – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #5 – Texas Christmas – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #6 – Texas Fall – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #7 – Texas Wedding – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #8 – Texas Gift – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

Can Connor show River a real family Christmas?

When Connor finds River on the roof of the campus admin building, he doesn’t know what to do. His friend is drunk, and shouting into a snowstorm, a bottle of vodka in his hand. The easy part is getting River down; the hard part is insisting River comes home with Connor for Christmas.

River doesn’t have a family, or any place outside of college that he calls home. Not that it matters to him; he’s happy being alone for Christmas in his budget motel, watching reruns of Elf. Only, Connor keeps telling wildly improbable stories of the perfect family celebrations at his parents’ ranch in Texas, and it’s wearing River down. He didn’t ask to be kidnapped. He didn’t want to fall in love with the entire Campbell-Hayes family. But he does.

From one Christmas to the next. This is Connor’s year to rescue River, and himself, for them both to mess things up, make things right, fall in lust and finally, for Connor to show the man he loves what being part of a family can mean.

Excerpt

Chapter 1

Connor skidded to a stop.

The cold December wind whipped around his face, ice and snow knifing into his skin, and at first, he couldn’t make sense of what he was seeing.

Maybe he should have stopped, called 911, shouted for help, but it could’ve been too late, so he’d acted on instinct alone. He’d taken the four flights of stairs at a run, reaching the roof and throwing the door open. His lungs burned from the freezing air and his voice had gone. What now?

Why was River on the roof in nothing but jeans and a T-shirt, clearly drunk? Why was he standing on the ledge, his feet spread, his arms wide, and a bottle of vodka in his hand?

When the girl from his floor told him she’d seen River go up to the roof, he thought she’d meant something else. He often went up there to read or watch life go by. But not in a snow storm.

He didn’t expect to see River standing on the ledge in the snow.

Don’t scare him. He’ll stumble and fall. He might jump.

A gust of air slapped Connor. River swayed to the left but righted himself with the casual grace of a gymnast. River wouldn’t fall by accident. Hell, Connor had seen him balance on one hand on a diving board, perfectly still, before falling gracefully and accurately with spins and pikes into the water below. He’d never seen River falter.

“River?” Connor asked, only an inch from grabbing River’s shirt and holding him tight. He saw River tense, but he didn’t wobble in surprise or slip and fall to the ground.

“I canbalance. Look at me.” River sounded so damn proud of himself.

Connor took a small step forward, finally being able to hold River’s shirt, hoping to hell that would be enough to stop River from falling.

“Come down, buddy.”

River lifted the bottle over his head, sloshing alcohol over his hair, his tongue flicking out to catch any that ran over his face.

“Fuck,” he shouted.

Connor tugged at him, not knowing what else to do. “Come back,” he said, loud enough that River actually looked at him.

“Leave me alone,” he said.

“I’m not leaving you on the roof,” Connor snapped and got a better hold of River, hooking a finger into his belt. River wasn’t a big guy, a diver’s body, no more than five ten and a buck sixty soaking wet, but if he fell, would Connor be able to hold him long enough to save him?

River pulled against Connor’s grip, and for a second the world stopped turning as Connor had to use his entire body weight to keep him upright. Something about the action must have scared River. He cursed and rocked backward, but he still wouldn’t come down.

“Come down,” Connor pleaded. “You’re scaring me.”

“You think you gotta save me? Huh?” River threw his arms wide again, more alcohol sloshing over the top of the bottle. “I don’t need saving.”

“I want you to come down.” Connor tried for calm. What was he doing? He should have called the cops immediately when he spotted River. Or firefighters, negotiators? Or whoever the hell should’ve been here. He’d seen things like this on the television, the mediator knowing all the right things to say and do, standing by River and connecting him to his family or childhood or his faith. All Connor knew was that he needed to pull River down, use the only thing he had going for him; the fact that he was bigger and stronger.

“I like it up here!” River explained with another wide gesture. He wobbled a little but righted himself immediately.

“Come down, Riv.”

“Saint Connor tries to save everyone,” River shouted, ending with a hysterical laugh. He was clearly losing control of himself, and even if Connor did have the words to talk him down, he thought maybe he’d just yank River back onto the concrete roof of the building and worry about injuries later.

But River wasn’t finished. “Even if they don’t need saving!”

“River!”

“Who the hell cares if I can balance, huh?”

“I care,” Connor shouted back. This was so out of character.

“Yeah, right, telling me what Christmas and family is like for you, making me see it in my head, and then leaving me here alone.”

“River, please.” Connor tugged him, but River wouldn’t move back.

“Leaving me here, alone, because that’s all anyone ever does. They fuck off, leave me, and what happens when college is over, huh? What happens when I lose that?” He lifted one clenched fist to the sky. “Fuck you!”

Connor had never heard River curse like this, and he was done with holding on to him. So evaluating where they would end up if they fell backward and not caring how much it hurt, he yanked, hard. River tumbled with him, arms flailing and the vodka bottle slipping from his grasp and falling into the tub of snow-covered plants on the roof patio. The two of them fell onto the roof, Connor using his body to cushion River’s descent, getting his arms full of an icy cold man, the breath forced from his lungs when they hit the ground.

Connor enveloped him in his arms and locked his hands in place, fighting a frozen, wet, drunk River. He wouldn’t get free. Connor had his pappa’s height, a rancher’s build, and he was a solid anchor in the wind and snow. There was no point in River fighting, and somehow he must have realized he couldn’t get free and went still in Connor’s arms.

All Connor could think was that he’d wanted River back in his arms for a long time now, but he’d expected soft lighting and mood music, not driving winds and snow.

“What the hell are you doing?” Connor demanded.

“Let me the fuck go.”

“Jesus, are you trying to kill yourself?”

River attempted to wriggle free. Connor’s grip didn’t falter in his hold. With his arms securely around River, he shuffled them back so they were protected by the low wall. He wanted to get them back inside, but he wasn’t ready to let River go yet, and the door was at least ten feet away. What if River wriggled free and ran for the ledge? The idea of River on the ground, twisted in death, blood… Connor didn’t want to think about it. He opened his coat, one-handed, and then pulled River closer, trying to get as much of the material to go over him, attempting to keep them both warm. River’s skin was like ice. How long had he been standing up there?

“What were you doing?” he demanded, but River didn’t reply, only burrowed deeper into Connor’s hold. This was stupid. He needed to get them off the roof, or he needed help. His phone was in the car. The campus was emptying for Christmas. It was ten a.m., snowing. What the hell was he going to do now?

“I have no one,” River muttered, then laughed and buried his face deeper.

“What do you mean? Talk to me, River.”

“No.”

“We need to get inside.”

How the hell do I get River inside?

He imagined struggling with River’s weight, trying to get him down four flights of stairs and across to his room. Maybe if he could just get him to the car, with its heated seats and the warm air blower and the coffee in a flask that Connor had made for the start of his journey back to Dallas. Then he could call someone, the cops or a doctor? That seemed like a plan, a focus. He scrambled to his feet, bringing River with him, and stumbled inside. As soon as the door shut, warmth hit them, prickling at his exposed skin, and he moved toward the radiator, still gripping River’s belt. He let go of him long enough to remove his jacket and place it around the shivering man’s shoulders.

River buried himself in the coat, and Connor went into disaster assessment mode. He’d seen hypothermia back home at the D, and it wasn’t pretty. He remembered his pappa saying there were signs to look for, and when Jack spoke, Connor always listened. He pulled up the facts he could remember. Did River have hypothermia? His teeth weren’t chattering, and he wasn’t talking at all, so it wasn’t obvious if he was slurring. Then, even if he did talk and his speech was slurry, how could Connor tell how much vodka he’d drunk? Connor tried to remember the symptoms. The college hospital wasn’t far away. He could drive there, and they would help.

Why the hell did I leave my phone in the damned car?

“It’s okay. I’m okay.”

“No, you’re not.”

“You can go,” River said dully. He wriggled closer to the radiator.

“I’m not going anywhere.”

“But you are,” River murmured. “You kissed me, you got me off, and now you’re leaving today.” Then he hid his face in his hands. “Shit, shit, shit.”

Wait. Was this about what happened at the thanksgiving party?

Is this my fault?

Connor didn’t usually drink that much, but he’d had one beer too many at the party, to the point where he had all the courage he needed to wait for River to come out of the bathroom.

“Can I kiss you?” he’d asked, and River had stared at him, stone-cold sober and narrow-eyed.

But then, holy shit, River had pushed him back into the nearest bedroom, shut the door, and the kiss had turned into something more, hands tangled in hair, the two of them kissing and rutting against each other until they were coming in their jeans. Really unromantic. Nothing more than getting off, and River had left before Connor could even get his breath back. Not the best of outcomes. Then River had ignored him. Not returning texts, no more study sessions in the library, and he’d even missed the last lecture of the semester.

All of that told Connor on thing: River wasn’t interested in anything more with him. But that didn’t mean they weren’t still friends. They sat in silence for a few minutes, River’s face still buried in his hands, and he was clearly crying.

What the hell should I do now?

USA Today bestselling author RJ Scott writes stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the author of over one hundred romance books, writing emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

She’s always thrilled to hear from readers, bloggers and other writers. Please contact via the links below:

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NSP Holiday Stories

Books Sold Separately

Publisher: NineStar Press  
Release Date: December 10, 2018

Title: A Very Vampire Christmas  
Author: Mark Lesney  
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex  
Pairing: Male/Male  
Length: 21600  
Genre: Paranormal, vampire, romance writer, humor, Wild West, Christmas

Stuck for ideas on what to get his wealthy, blind, vampire lover for Christmas, Kevin comes up with the idea of recovering Danton’s long-lost but much-favored glass eyes from their home in a Wild West museum. But one touch of the eyes and Kevin is swept by his developing clairvoyant powers into a psychic nightmare of the old Wild West the eyes ‘witnessed’ while still in Danton’s head. The journey reveals a gunslinger Sheriff Danton, brings to light the lingering threat of Danton’s violent vampire ex-lover, and ultimately seals a new bond between Kevin and Danton in a Christmas to remember.

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Meet the Author

Mark Lesney is a single gay man of a certain age, living with the obligatory cat. His only fiction credential before “Interview with the Kevin” is a semi-comic steampunk M/M romance novelette, “The Golden Goose,” published in the “Steamed Up” anthology, sadly now out of print.

His non-fiction writing credits, however, are extensive. Currently, he is the managing editor of two medical newspapers, for which he also writes routinely. For over 6 years, his science and history articles appeared monthly in two newsmagazines, for which he was a writer/editor at the American Chemical Society. His credits also include science articles published in Analog Science Fiction/Science Fact. He has a PhD in plant pathology and a second PhD in the history of science.

He has worked as a research scientist and university professor. But his love has always been reading and writing fiction—with science fiction/fantasy, mystery, paranormal romance, and historicals all grappling for his affections. He is now determined to pursue that dream intensely.

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 Title: Midnight Angel  
Author: Kevin Klehr  
Heat Level: 1 – No Sex  
Pairing: Male/Male  
Length: 10500
Genre: Fantasy, angel, new year’s eve, holiday, contemporary

Dinner is overcooked. The guests haven’t arrived. Luke is sitting alone at his dining table on New Year’s Eve. He was hoping to romance Nathan, one of the people he invited for this intimate evening meal. As midnight draws closer, it seems an angel, who has magically appeared in Luke’s apartment, is the only person to drink champagne and watch the fireworks with. But this angel has other ideas. He’s about to grant Luke the New Year’s Eve party he thought he wanted.

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Meet the Author

Kevin lives with his long-term partner, Warren, in their humble apartment (affectionately named Sabrina), in Australia’s own ‘Emerald City,’ Sydney.

From an early age, Kevin had a passion for writing, jotting down stories and plays until it came time to confront puberty. After dealing with pimple creams and facial hair, Kevin didn’t pick up a pen again until he was in his thirties. His handwritten manuscript was being committed to paper when his work commitments changed, giving him no time to write. Concerned, his partner, Warren, secretly passed the notebook to a friend who in turn came back and demanded Kevin finish his story. It wasn’t long before Kevin’s active imagination was let loose again.

His first novel spawned a secondary character named Guy, an insecure gay angel, but many readers argue that he is the star of the Actors and Angels book series. Guy’s popularity surprised the author.

So with his fictional guardian angel guiding him, Kevin hopes to bring more whimsical tales of love, life and friendship to his readers.

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The Selkie Prince’s Unexpected Omega

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Book Title: The Selkie Prince’s Unexpected Omega

Series: The Royal Alphas, Book 3

Author: J.J. Masters

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Megan Parker of EmCat Designs

Genre/s: Contemporary Romance (PNR/Gay/mpreg)

Length: 58 368 words/240 pages

It’s a standalone story within a series

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  Blurb An alpha claim. A possible heir. A Selkie prince whose mistake might just be what the fates intended. Zale, the third alpha-born son of King Solomon, is concerned. His youngest brother, Caol, has been spending time with an unbonded omega. Being a responsible alpha, Zale feels it’s his duty to warn the omega Finn before he and Caol get into trouble. Especially since Finn had only been brought to the colony by their father in case his oldest brother’s fated mate couldn’t conceive. However, when Zale goes to Finn’s quarters to have a word with him, he isn’t expecting to discover what he does: the omega in the throes of oestrus and begging for an alpha’s assistance. Finn has nowhere else to go. Not only unwanted by his own family, his previous alpha perished in a tragic accident. So for the past two years, the omega has relied on the King of the North’s generosity, even if it means he may end up as a surrogate for one of the alpha-born princes. Or even worse, the king’s sixth mate. But when the Prince Zale comes upon him during his heat, Finn demands relief from the alpha. Although afterward, has to live with the guilt. Now, he might not only be carrying the prince’s son, he may have very well ruined Zale’s chance to find his true fated mate… Note: A 58k-plus word m/m shifter mpreg story, this is the third book in the Royal Alpha series. Due to the “knotty” times in this book, it is recommended for mature readers only. While it can be read as a standalone, it’s recommended to read the series in order. And, like all of my books, it has an HEA.  

  Excerpt Zale’s jaw was tight and his teeth gritted as he waited in the hall outside of Finn’s quarters. He knocked again. This time more loudly using the heel of his fist, since, apparently, his knuckles weren’t getting the job done. The alpha-born prince was losing his patience, which he usually had an abundance of. Just not today. Especially since the visiting omega, Finn, had been seen sneaking off with Zale’s youngest brother Caol. Which was dangerous. Particularly since Caol was considered a Selkie slut. What humans would call a man-ho. He loved to rut with anyone who would let him, be it Selkie, human or hybrid. Most likely any male with a cock swinging between his legs. Hell, he probably rutted with other species of shifters. But even so, it brought Zale back to the problem at hand. He and his brothers had told their father, the King of the North, that he should send Finn away. Return the omega to his own colony. That he was no longer needed here at the Northern colony. But his father hadn’t listened. No surprise there. They all suspected that King Solomon had considered taking the omega for himself. But a whole two years had passed since the King first brought Finn to the castle, so it made no sense for the unbonded male to remain. His father needed to shit or get off the pot. Either take Finn as his own to bear more sons or send the poor omega home so he could find an alpha of his very own. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a fated mate waiting for Finn anywhere. His supposed alpha had been killed and eaten by an orca during their bonding swim from what Zale understood. None of them had ever asked Finn about it because neither Zale or his brothers wanted to know those cringe-worthy details and they also were inclined to avoid him since he was an unbonded male. Again, being around an unbonded omega could be dangerous. However, Caol tended to be reckless. If the omega came into heat, Caol would most likely be the proud father of a future pup. Zale could just imagine how the king’s head would spin at that news. So, Zale needed to nip whatever was going on between Finn and Caol in the bud. For his youngest brother’s sake and also for Finn’s. If the omega had the urge to rut, he could do so with some of the betas the king kept on hand for that purpose. Nothing stopped Finn from taking a beta lover, especially since his corona membrane was no longer intact. But an alpha? No. He could not rut with an alpha that was not his mate. That was against Selkie law. Caol knew that. As did Finn. Therefore, Zale was being a good older brother and trying to head off a disaster. Or that’s what he told himself. Yes, he was protecting not only Caol but this omega… who continued to live among a castle-full of alphas even though that was unsafe. He stared at the heavy wood door and cursed. Why wasn’t Finn answering? He leaned closer and shouted, “Finn! Are you in there? Open your door.” Zale listened carefully. Nothing. He was done knocking. He had announced his presence and now it was time to take the next step… Into the omega’s quarters.

 

About the Author

J.J. Masters is the alter-ego of a USA Today bestselling author who writes hot, gay romance filled with heart, humor and heat. J.J. became fascinated with mpreg romance as soon as she figured out what mpreg stood for. She loves to write about “knotty” men! You can join JJ’s FB Group here: https://www.facebook.com/JJMastersAuthor/ or her newsletter here: https://bit.ly/2E2zcaB to keep up with exclusive content and news.

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The Northstar by Elle Keaton

The Northstar: A Christmas Novella (Accidental Roots)

Author: Elle Keaton

Genre: Gay Romance

Pairing: Holiday

Release Date: 12/7/18

 

Synopsis:

“John was back on his knees—a position he historically enjoyed, but not in this scenario, checking under Dumpsters in foul weather. An unfamiliar voice startled him from his brooding. The sound came from the other side of the container, near the alley door John had left propped open. Focused as he was on searching for the kitten John hadn’t heard any approaching footsteps.

Dammit, he’d hoped the kitten would come inside on its own a human person was more than he wanted to deal with. Without the marquee turned on it seemed pretty obvious, to John at least, that the theater was closed, and why would anyone but him be back here in the alley? A chill ran down his spine. Was he about to get jumped? A bit hysterically, he wondered if his boxers were clean like his mother had always warned him they should be, just in case. But what hoodlum would call out a hello first? He was such an idiot.

After unsuccessfully searching the hallway and places the kitten could have gotten to inside, he’d come back outside to look more diligently, thinking he couldn’t see it because it was hiding under the other side of the container or it had found a box or something.

“Hello?” the voice repeated coming closer. “Are you all right then?”

A distinctly English accent, asking if he was okay—so he wasn’t about to be mugged and left for dead in a dark alley.

Carefully, John stood back from the trash container and turned to look over the top of it. It proved impossible for him not to stare at the handsome man waiting where he shouldn’t be. And, thankfully, he remembered taking a shower before leaving the house and putting on entirely clean clothing, including underwear, so he was good.

The stranger was backlit by security lights mounted on the opposite building, and John was standing a few feet away from him, but a trick of the light meant John could see his features clear as a sunny day. If he hadn’t been recovering from a terrible breakup and off men almost entirely, he might have thought an angel had decided John deserved a gift.

“Is there something you need?” he asked, attempting to shove aside his immediate attraction to the dark-haired man standing in his alley.

The man contemplated John for a moment before replying, “No, I think I’ve found it. I may have something of yours, however.”

Lord save him, the man had a smooth, deep voice and an English accent.”

OR:

“Lips softer than he’d imagined pressed against his own. It had been so long since he’d been kissed that John had forgotten how much he enjoyed it, how much he craved the sensual touch of another man. The errant thought Not just any man: this man crossed his mind, but he shook it off.

Chance deepened the kiss and put a hand on John’s waist, pulling him closer. They each had a day’s growth of whiskers, and they caught against each other, tangling suggestively before loosening and releasing as they kissed. For a moment, John forgot everything and let himself enjoy the contact.

A knock followed by the front doors rattling brought him to his senses. John jerked away, shocked he’d allowed a complete stranger to kiss him, this compelling complete stranger. And not just kiss him, but kiss him well enough that he’d momentarily forgotten his own name. He discreetly wiped his mouth, pretending to himself his fingertips didn’t linger against his lips longer than necessary.”

““Well?” he asked. His voice cracked like a thirteen-year-old boy’s, and he cleared his throat, trying to hide his sudden nerves.

“I think you should taste it.”

“Oh.” Disappointment shot though him. It was that bad? Normally he was pretty good at making espresso at home. He reached for the cup.

“No, here.”

John was confused. He glanced over at Chance, who was abruptly right next to him. When had he moved from the barstool? The only thing there was the sleeping kitten. Next thing John knew, he was tasting the bittersweet coffee on Chance’s lips, from Chance’s mouth. And holy fuck, Batman, it was hot. Without a doubt it was the most carnal espresso John had ever tasted.

Neither of them had shaved or showered yet that morning. Aside from the earthy flavor of the coffee, John tasted Chance himself, his very essence. Indescribable yet immediately addicting: a human opiate.”

About Elle:

Hi there, I’m Elle Keaton and I hail from the northwet (hahaha) corner of the US where we are known for rain, rain and more rain. I write the Accidental Roots series, set here in the Pacific Northwest featuring hot mm romance and the guarantee of a happy ending for my men. They start out broken, and maybe they end up that way too, but they always find the other half of their hearts.

I started writing way back when but only began publishing about two years ago and now have seven (almost eight) books out. Each features a couple in my little universe, sometimes there is added mystery and suspense.

Currently, I am working on the ninth in the series as well as a mm paranormal romance. I’m dabbling with an m/f set in the same universe as Accidental Roots, featuring a character who has been around from the beginning who really needs her own HEA. Feel free to email me with questions about the series or my writing elle@ellekeaton.com

Social Media Links:

Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/ElleKeatonWrites

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Website: https://www.ellekeaton.com/

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Charity Parkerson – An Alpha For Christmas



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 12,000 words approx.

Blurb

Christmas Eve night with a sexy new friend turns into the perfect Christmas. But Austin never expects his dream holiday to ruin his life.

Hoping to avoid another yearly gathering of the worst people Austin knows—his family—he volunteers to play Santa’s little helper at the department store where he works. That’s where the sexiest Santa on the planet comes to his rescue.

Will plays Santa every year at his grandfather’s department store. It’s something he oddly enjoys. This year is twice the fun when he’s paired with a mouthwatering elf. When Will finds Austin stranded in the parking lot, he’s more than willing to help. A ride turns into an amazing night together. The night turns into a weekend that changes both their lives forever. Not necessarily for the good.

It’ll take more than a good time in bed to fix Austin’s life. For the first time, Will might have to put someone else first.

This is a short and steamy story, featuring a character from Charity Parkerson’s Low Blow series. It was written to be a complete standalone, separate from the series.


Charity Parkerson is an award winning and multi-published author with several companies. Born with no filter from her brain to her mouth, she decided to take this odd quirk and insert it in her characters.

*Eight-time Readers’ Favorite Award Winner
*2015 Passionate Plume Award Finalist
*2013 Reviewers’ Choice Award Winner
*2012 ARRA Finalist for Favorite Paranormal Romance
*Five-time winner of The Mistress of the Darkpath

Connect with her online:

–Website: charityparkerson.com
–Facebook: facebook.com/authorCharityParkerson
facebook.com/TheMenofSin
–Twitter: twitter.com/CharityParkerso


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Forbidden Pursuits

Title: Forbidden Pursuits

Series: The Galactic Captains, Book Two

Author: Harry F. Rey

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: December 3, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 47700

Genre: Science Fiction, sci-fi, futuristic, war, space, multiple partners, royalty, romance

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Synopsis

When Daeron’s mother, Captain Sanya, is offered a risky but lucrative job, rescuing an experimental galinium scientist from Aldegar, the lost loves lurking in her past mean she must send Daeron away to the other end of the galaxy—to the father he’s never met on the Kyleri Empire’s capital, Jiwani. On Jiwani, the heir to the galaxy’s most powerful empire, Prince Osvai, balances deference to rigid Kyleri customs with his desire to explore the forbidden secrets of the Royal Baths, and the dark pursuits no prince should have. But when a mysterious stranger from the Outer Verge turns up to work with his ambitious Uncle Viscamon, Osvai’s temptations lead him into a web of intrigue that could change the Galactic Balance forever. As Sanya, Daeron, and Osvai pursue their forbidden desires, they become entwined in a galactic power struggle stretching from the frozen tundra of Jansen to the searing memories of Captain Ales’s lost homeworld, Teva. They’ll soon discover all love has consequence, and the more forbidden the desires, the more deadly the pursuits.

Excerpt

Forbidden Pursuit Harry F. Rey © 2018 All Rights Reserved Chapter One A trembling fear crept over Osvai as he wandered through crystal corridors, his destination no place for the heir to the Empire of a Million Suns. High-heeled shoes clicked against the glass floor while floating robes of crimson silk swished around his legs. Thankfully, the floor wasn’t translucent, but the walls were, and outside shone the brilliant view of a bright Jiwani day, the shimmering towers of the Crystal City set against the deep-green forested hills of Alsatan in the distance. The hills were oddly misshapen: lumps of raw clay dried out and taken over by vegetation. The ones in the distance appeared as ridges etched in shadow in the ocean-blue sky. It would not be the end of the imperium if someone spotted Osvai here on his own. But questions would be asked. Serious ones. Most likely from his uncle Viscamon. Trips to the baths were affairs of state, not jaunts for pleasure. He may only be nineteen, but Osvai knew, with a frail father entering his one hundred and fiftieth year and a ruthless uncle on the prowl, danger lurked around any wrong turn. Hence the pink silk scarf covering his smooth black hair and wrapped tightly around his face, so anyone he passed would only see dark-brown eyes set against sunset-colored skin. Dressed like this, he’d pass for any other highborn Kyleri noble taking a pleasurable midafternoon stroll around the artisanal boutiques and raw fish delicatessens of the Crystal City. The jewel of the planet Jiwani, heart of the ancient and powerful Kyleri Empire. Alsata itself a shimmering city with towers of pure crystal and diamond that could blind a ship’s captain long before she even approached orbit. At certain points in the summer season, the sun reflecting off the Crystal City fired beams of light deep into space. A constant reminder to the souls existing in the orbital stations and surrounding moons of an imperium with the power of a star itself. The Royal Baths of Alsata were carved into the very crust of Jiwani, far below the Crystal City. The flow of natural volcanic water channeled into a thousand different pools throughout the cavernous labyrinth frequented daily by Kyleri nobles. The Emperor’s Pool in the center by far the largest, surrounded by multiple viewing galleries carved into the rock above for courtiers to see and be seen. Osvai instantly recalled his trips there with his father and the rest of the imperial court; the smell of the sulfurous rock and the incredible smoothness of his skin after every visit. He used to sit, bored to infinity, splashing at the warm water’s edge as thousands of naked men milled around, conducting their business in steam baths and hot springs as military men swam never-ending laps to show off their physical prowess. Meanwhile, the inner circle of Emperor Kantori would lounge upon silken beds on the raised royal dais next to the Emperor’s Pool, their bodies slathered with oil and their muscles massaged by young servants as they traded gossip and intrigue from across the Million Suns of the Empire. Osvai had spent many long hours as a child simply staring at those servants’ bodies, watching sweat drip down chiseled chests as thick arms worked through the fat of the imperial court. The customs and etiquette of the Royal Baths were the last fragment to a measure of supposed equality in the Kyleri system of government. Affairs of the empire conducted in hundred-degree heat amid clouds of steam and hot bubbling water came without the trappings of office. Instant judgment by a snobbish courtier based on the quality of one’s silks or the value of jewels around one’s neck was suspended. While a man must be of certain pedigree to attend the baths, indeed even to live on Jiwani, in nakedness, all men at least appeared equal. Osvai had become so wrapped up in his thoughts he hadn’t noticed he’d nearly arrived at the elevator which would take him straight down into the bowels of the planet. A door of clouded glass opened and a gaggle of laughing men emerged wrapped in soft silks and crystal heels. Their faces colored pink from the baths and their bright skin looking fresh, peeled and scraped in preparation for the upcoming Feast of the Thirteenth Star. For a split second, Osvai wondered why they didn’t gasp in awe at his presence and bow down to the floor, as is custom upon seeing a member of the imperium, but he quickly remembered his attempt at disguise and moved aside as the men passed by him without another look. Although who could even recognize him outside of royal garb and accompanying heavy makeup was anyone’s guess. Osvai took long, deep breaths, trying to calm his fluttering stomach; but the hot air against the silk only made him warmer. No one would ever imagine these ancient baths, which held such exalted status in the imperial court, had such a dark and dirty secret hidden within. He still wasn’t completely sure the hidden gallery was real, having pieced together its existence from the whispered snippets of hushed chatter overheard from palace servants and pleasure slaves. To think all this had been going on right under the nose of his father’s moral crusade terrified him. The elevator descending hundreds of meters into the darkness underground caused him to tremble as a rock trapped in a stream, leaving nothing but a trickling fear rushing through his ears. The elevator doors opened into the heat of the underground. Hundreds of robed men floated around the grand entranceway to the baths, the ceiling supported by columns of carved rock. The soft light of mini-pulsars beamed down as the sound of trickling water from inside the rock mingled with the din of polite conversation of a self-serving elite. Banners of crimson hung all around them, displaying the golden thirteen-pointed star, the sigil of the Kyleri Empire. Being alone among a flock of groups, Osvai felt rather exposed. One came to the baths as part of a social group, or with those with whom one wished to do business. So Osvai walked with haste past huddles of men, from the young and ambitious to the aging and powerful. His robes fluttered behind him and diamond heels clipped the polished rock floor. But instead of going straight toward the wide archway of the main entrance, he veered to the right. Behind a column of intricately carved rock, displaying ancient scenes from the Kyleri past, the promised service entrance emerged. A group of half a dozen older men who appeared to be royal courtiers stood near the narrow opening in the rock wall, idly chatting. Osvai’s heart almost stopped when he recognized one of their faces. He would have to walk past them to get inside. They’d wonder where he was going. He would simply die if any one of them pointed out he was going the wrong way. Osvai kept his head down and brought the silk scarf lower over his forehead. He kept walking; there was no other choice. Out of the corner of his eye, he thought one glanced at him strangely, but before long he’d made it around the rocky corner, now shielded from any penetrating gaze. Suddenly alone, he should’ve felt relief, but only more nerves came from worrying about what further obstacles might lie ahead. Eventually, the narrow corridor cut into the rock ended at a bolted door of heavy wood. “Poor man’s entrance” had been scrawled across the top of the doorway. Osvai recoiled for a moment at the words. The conversations he’d eavesdropped on were right. Any self-respecting Jiwani noble would run to the end of the empire before going anywhere near a poor man’s entrance. Unless of course, one knew what lay behind. Osvai’s heart pounded far louder than the light tap he gave the door. A growing part of him worried this was all a terrible mistake. He’d let his base desires run away with him. He’d snuck out of the imperial palace for this. To be caught now was nowhere near suffering the indignity of being seen out of royal dress or walking unescorted among the people. Those behaviors could, albeit with difficulty, be explained as youthful exploration. No, this was disobedience on a whole new level. The shame it would bring to the very heart of the imperium. The legacy of his father left in tatters by the crudest actions imaginable of his only remaining son. Actions that went against everything Emperor Kantori had dedicated his life to. The scandal would envelop the court; even the empire itself. Fornication among men with the imperial heir in the sanctity of the royal baths. It would only confirm the subtle assertions Viscamon whispered around court that Osvai was unfit to inherit the largest and most powerful empire in the galaxy. The light tapping had worked. The door opened. Osvai swallowed hard, not listening to the pounding in his ears, and stepped into the darkness. The door closed behind him. Now there was no turning back. “Which side are you after?” A gruff voice said. An old man wearing nothing but a loincloth and a utility belt covered in keys and tools emerged from the darkness, illuminated by a candle in his bony hand. It seemed to be the entrance to maintenance, not the pathway to debauchery. “I’m sorry?” “Which side?” The maintenance man held up the candle and peered into Osvai’s eyes. “If you’re after the top side you’re in the wrong place. Their entrance is from inside the baths. This is bottom only, you understand?” Osvai swallowed, his breath hot against the scarf again. Heat radiated from the rocks cramped around him. His heart felt close to bursting out of his chest. Sweat pricked all over his body. He had to breathe. Hoping the darkness would add extra cover, he pulled off the scarf, took in a deep breath, and nodded. “You know the rules here?” Osvai nodded again and bit down on his bottom lip, his face now exposed in the candlelight flickering in the hot shadow of danger. He didn’t know the rules but didn’t care to either. He knew what he might get here, and that was enough. Talking would lead to thinking, and thinking would cause him to run for his life. Right now, Osvai only wanted to feel the forbidden touch of men, countless hundreds of men the hidden gallery promised. The keys jingled on the man’s belt as he apparently finished his investigation, turned away, and began to walk down the cave, holding the candle high and beckoning Osvai to follow.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch with influences ranging from Alan Hollinghurst to Isaac Asimov to George R.R. Martin. He loves all things sci-fi and supernatural, and always with a gay twist. Harry is originally from the UK but lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his husband.

Website | Twitter

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G.R. Lyons – Illumined Shadows




Release Date: December 28 2018

Length: 100,000 words approx.

Treble & The Lost Boys Series

Book #1 – Ice On Fire – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Heavens Aground – Amazon US | Amazon UK

Blurb

When Victor Lucius was sixteen years old, a few cruel words out of his mouth led to a brutal tragedy, one that Vic has been trying to make up for ever since. Now, working as a missing persons expert, Vic tracks down and rescues people from abandonment or abuse, trying to alleviate the guilt constantly weighing him down.

His latest case—a boy who was kidnapped at the age of two and then held captive for nineteen years—is by far the darkest of his career. If there’s any chance of Vic finally redeeming himself, helping this boy might be it.

But rescuing Colby from his basement prison is only the beginning, and brings a whole new struggle to Vic’s life:

Temptation…

(Note: This story takes place in a fictional world, the same as in the Shifting Isles Series. There are multiple gods, different names for the days of the week, etc. A glossary is included.)

Author Bio

While daylighting as office manager for the family auto repair business, G.R. Lyons can often be found working on one of multiple manuscripts or desperately trying to keep up with the TBR pile.

Anarcho-capitalist, quietly ‘out’ trans guy, former belly dancer, coffee guzzler, highly-sensitive introvert, CrossFit enthusiast, and lover of m/m romantic fiction.

Email: grlyons@grlyonsauthor.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/grlyonsauthor
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/grlyonsauthor
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/grlyonsauthor
Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/doumteksonata/
Amazon.com: https://www.amazon.com/author/grlyons

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