Review: A Touch of Color by Sloane Kennedy

 

A Touch of Color

 

***PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED AS PART OF AN ANTHOLOGY***

This SHORT STORY (15k words) was previously published as part of the Heart2Heart Anthology but is now being offered as a single title since the anthology is no longer available. Please make sure you haven’t already purchased this story as part of that anthology unless your intent is to own two copies of the story. There is no new content.

When Nate signs up with a matchmaking app, the sparkly, colorful, always-fashionable florist is hoping to find the guy who will finally see him as more than just a one-night stand. In fact, he’s hoping he’ll find “the one” who wants the same things he does – white picket fence, kids, minivan, dog – and doesn’t mind having them with a man others might think shines just a little too bright sometimes.

Enter Harrison Garrison.

The uptight lawyer is all wrong for Nate. He’s rigid, distant, controlling, emotionally closed off, and content to live his life in black and white…with maybe a little gray thrown in here and there. But when a misunderstanding leads to an encounter that is all kinds of white-hot, Nate starts to think maybe the matchmaking app got it right after all.

Until he finds out the real reason Harrison signed up for the app…

Will Nate be the one to finally add a touch of color to the staid Harrison’s life, or did the app completely miss the mark?

Please note that this story was previously part of an anthology so it was intended (and required) to be a certain length. Although it is a complete story with an HEA, if you don’t care for short stories, Nate and Harrison’s tale may not be for you.

This story was formerly titled “The Florist and the Lawyer” and was part of the Heart 2 Heart Charity Anthology. There have been no changes to the content of the story.

 

REVIEW

 

It was such a sweet and lovely story. It is the first time I read something from the author and I was very happy with the result. I choose it because its length because I was looking for something short. I liked both characters. I was a little worried about liking Harrison at the beginning but he ended up being the one that I liked the most.

 

It was free of angst, romantic enough. The relationship, as expected for its length, was developed really quickly but I don’t think it felt rushed or unrealistic. I prefer slow burn relationships but I get I wasn’t going to have that here and I’m perfectly fine with it.

 

I’m not really sure of what the author writes, for reviews I’d read I think is into darker subjects and if that’s the case, is absolutely someone I’ll be checking out in the near future. I enjoyed this very much. I would recommend it to anyone looking for a short, sweet and free of angst M/M story.

 

 
 

BOOK LINKS

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AUTHOR

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Release Blitz: Riding the Track by Kara Ripley (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Title:  Riding the Track

Author: Kara Ripley

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 28, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 28600

Genre: Contemporary, Australia, bisexual, lesbian, outback, trail ride, vacation

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Synopsis

Herding cattle and drinking Australian beer aren’t pastimes that particularly appeal to an ‘indoor girl’ like Clara, but she’d be damned if she’d let her cheating ex-boyfriend have the vacation they were meant to share. So, to salvage some piece of her self-respect after a bad break-up, she finds herself riding a horse along the Oodnadatta Track for five days.

When Clara arrives, she can’t help but feel an intense attraction to Evelyn, the drover who guides their group through the immensely unique landscape between Coober Pedy and the Anna Creek Station. Clara’s never been one for a no-strings-attached fling, but cowgirl Evie becomes increasingly difficult to resist.

In combination with the exquisite outback, soulful horses, and overly cheerful tourists, Evie may just be exactly what Clara needs to escape her own pessimism.

Excerpt

Riding the Track
Kara Ripley © 2018
All Rights Reserved

A week traipsing around the ass-end of Australia was not my idea of a good time. As I exited the airplane, all I could think was: what the fuck am I doing here? Rather than at home in Sacramento, curled up with my sociopathic cat on my favorite sofa, drinking away my sorrows with my favorite wine, and obsessively rewatching my favorite episodes of Gilmore Girls. Instead, I was on my own—yes, traveling alone is a thing people do—waiting to be picked up by a tour guide who would probably smile too broadly, laugh too loudly, and abbreviate every other word to the point where I wouldn’t be able to understand a damn thing.

Regardless, it was still worth taking the trip, because it meant Austin (otherwise known as my idiot ex-boyfriend) had to stay home. Standing in line, another international zombie waiting to get my passport stamped, the thought made me smile.

“What brings you to the land down under?” The customs officer’s words might’ve suggested he was interested, but his monotone made it obvious he’d already asked at least fifty other people the same thing. But he was making an effort. I hadn’t realized how utterly terrifying the officials were in the airports back home. Contrast was sobering.

“Here for one of those outdoor adventure vacations,” I told him. I left out the part about taking the trip as a way to say “screw you” to my moronic, cheating ex-boyfriend, the one who’d actually wanted to go to South Australia. “It’s a cattle drive.” My voice was scratchy, my throat dry. I hadn’t actually spoken to anybody for hours. I didn’t have reason for complaint, though, since I managed to get an empty seat next to me and the flight attendant didn’t push too hard for conversation.

“Wonderful. Well—” He returned my passport. “—have a fantastic time, Clara Adler.” It always sounded strange to me when a stranger used my full name. I tucked the passport into my back pocket and nodded politely before moving on.

A few hours and two way-too-strong cappuccinos later, I was on yet another flight. This time, though, a small crowd of us were crammed into the world’s smallest cabin. The guy in the window seat next to me had serious need of some mouthwash or a mint. I had to keep my face turned away from him to avoid breathing in his noxious cigarette breath. It was a shame because, from what I saw through the window across the aisle, the landscape became increasingly orange as we put more distance between us and the capital city. It wasn’t quite the same color as the Nevada desert I’d visited with my parents. Nor did it seem as stagnant. Even with brief glances, the scorched land below us asserted itself as a living entity—a bear reaching the end of its hibernation period. Still and seemingly peaceful, yet hungry.

From the sky, the low-lying rectangular building in Coober Pedy reminded me of a roller-skating rink more than an airport, as though I could reach through the window and pick the whole thing up. When they finally opened the hatch and let us out, I wanted to guzzle the fresh air like a dehydrated alcoholic with their lips wrapped around a beer tap. I hadn’t been all that excited about the whole idea of being outdoors, but after such a suffocating trip, I wondered if there was something to be gained from this whole affair after all.

The tour guide waited on the tarmac, holding a sign that read “Clara, Louise, and Michael. Let’s round ’em up!” I suppressed the urge to roll my eyes. To be fair, she was probably trying to be welcoming. Ordinarily, I might have even appreciated the effort. Reflecting on how hostile I’d been lately made me remember the-idiot-named-Austin again. It irritated me that my loser ex-boyfriend had made me so moody.

The woman holding the sign noticed me staring and waved, lifting up onto her toes, even though there wasn’t anyone between us. Her dark eyes widened beneath a charcoal-colored hat as she smiled at me, gesturing for me to join her. The hat fascinated me. It looked like something a cowboy would wear, except the crown didn’t reach so high, and the brim had a less severe curl than I would have expected. I suddenly remembered mention of them in a magazine I’d skimmed on the flight over. An Akubra.

I took a deep breath to prepare for extended social interaction and walked over. Two others fell into step with me. Louise and Michael?

“Welcome to Oz!” The shine of the sign-holder’s white teeth was intensified by the dark tones of her face. “I’m guessing you two are Louise and Michael,” she said, offering a handshake.

“You guess right! You maybe ought to be a fortune-teller,” Louise replied enthusiastically, her Southern accent asserting itself. It was clear that Louise was going to get under my skin for the next few days. She was too cheerful. It just wasn’t natural to be that excited to meet new people.

“G’day. Good to meet ya,” the Australian replied. “My name’s Evelyn. But you can call me Evie, yeah?” I’d always assumed films and television programs exaggerated the Aussie accent and vernacular. If the woman was any indication, the stereotypes were more than fair. My guess, though, was that she probably had to speak that way to appease the tourists. “That leaves Clara,” she said as she held out her hand. Her grip was strong as she gave my arm one quick up-and-down before releasing it. I wanted to rub the back of my hand like a child but decided it probably wasn’t a good idea to offend the one who’d be guiding us. I needed another coffee. Or maybe a cider. Was the early afternoon a reasonable time to start drinking in Australia?

“Right.” Evie clapped her hands together. “You lot are the last ones to arrive. A few hours and we’ll be at base camp. You can get some good bush tucker, have a few drinks, enjoy a few songs, meet your horses, and get a solid night’s sleep before the real adventure starts.”

Horses. Fuck. I was so busy avoiding Mr. Stink-Mouth on the plane that I’d forgotten the horses, even though it was one of the main reasons Austin had wanted to come on this vacation. The fifteen hours of travel before that probably hadn’t helped my memory either.

Five days wandering through the South Australian outback. Sure, I could handle that. Probably. But on a horse? Jesus H Christ. I hadn’t been atop a horse since the seventh grade. Summer camp. A ripped seam in my jeans. Jonas Egan laughing at me from his saddle. God, Jonas was such an asshole. I imagined him as an adult, living in some overcrowded apartment building with his eight illegitimate children and underage girlfriend, still scratching his balls when he thought no one was watching.

I was going to have to actually ride a horse. For five days. Shit. My crotch and thighs were practically aching already. Fuck you and your cowboy obsession, Austin. If I kept my bad track record up, I was going to need an asshole display cabinet for my growing collection.

As the four of us walked through the small building toward the baggage claim, I couldn’t help but notice the jeans Evelyn—Evie the Drover—was wearing. Dark blue. Bootleg. Tight. Did my eyes just linger on her butt? I had to admit, it was a damned impressive butt. I wanted to ask her if she had a regular routine of squats or if the muscle tone came from all the riding. Either way, I didn’t think too much of my little rear-end inspection at the time. It’s not as though it was the first time I’d checked out a woman, and there wasn’t anything else to see at the Coober Pedy airport.

The car was a well-traveled pickup truck, the kind with two rows of seats. It was probably white, but under all the orange dust, it was difficult to be sure.

“I’ll take that for ya,” Evie said as she made for my duffel bag. Her fingers grazed against mine as she wrapped her hand around the handle and gently pulled it out of my grip. Though we both had dark hair and eyes, my skin was pale against hers, almost sickly.

“Thanks.” I redirected my gaze to a rather exciting rock a few inches away from the rear tire. It was the safer option, given my brain seemed to want me to inspect the front of Evie the drover in much the same way I had the back.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Kara Ripley is the romance-writing alter ego of Australian sci-fi and fantasy author, Rebecca Langham. Even though she’s named after two iconic sci-fi characters, Kara reflects Rebecca’s inner romantic, that part of her secretly wanting to leave the aliens, magic, and spaceships behind every now and then.

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Release Day: Conflicted: A Novel by Katze Snow

 

Conflicted: A Novel

 

Gabriel Valentino is certain of one thing—he wants Caleb Matthews. He asks for so little. But when Caleb refuses an offer that could change his future, Gabriel’s patience wears thin. Unaccustomed to rejection and incensed at Caleb’s disobedience, he takes the matter into his own hands.

Everything has a price. For Caleb the price of rejection is freedom.

Imprisoned and alone with only his alluring captor for company, Caleb wants desperately to escape. But breaking free isn’t so simple. Awakened to a pleasure he’s never known, Caleb feels lost—conflicted. Can he escape? Or will the bonds of pleasure prove stronger than any lock and key?

 

 
 

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AUTHOR

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Review: Found At the Library by Christi Snow

 

Found At the Library (Found, #1)

 

His entire life, Tommy Garrett has dealt with self-doubts. He thought he’d conquered the majority of them until a chance meeting with an author brought his illiteracy to the forefront…again. Growing up with un-diagnosed dyslexia has left Tommy barely able to read, but books are his Nirvana. Now he spends his life creating art dedicated to the love of those “untouchable” items.

Robert McIntyre, Mac, is a best-selling, highly celebrated author. But his point of view has become a little bit too narrow…until Tommy opens his eyes. That chance meeting has changed everything about his world. He has no idea how to find the beautiful man he met, and offended, at the library book sale. But when he does, Tommy’s life is in crisis-mode. It’s the holidays and Mac can’t just standby when Tommy needs help, whether Tommy wants it or not.

Two artistic men. One shared passion for books.

Life is hard, and sometimes when conflict arises you have to write your own plot twist to pull yourself out of the fray.

 

REVIEW

 

This was an entertaining story. It was a new to me author, I win the book in a giveaway and I decide to give it a try. I wasn’t sure what to expect but I was pleasantly surprise.

Tommy was such a nice character. He was struggling with some family issues and it was so easy to care for him. It was nice to see how much he was willing to sacrifices for what he consider important in his life. I had a few issues with him because there were times when I think he was overreacting but I forgave him because I liked him the most.

Mac was odd. He had a good heart, no big issues there, but his actions were questionable. I understand where all it came from and I know he was trying to do something good, but if it wasn’t because this was fiction, I wouldn’t hesitate to call the cops on him. He was a nice character in general and I think his actions might not be seeing as an issue to other readers. He was very likable but I think I liked Tommy better.

They make a nice couple, I liked them together although some of the dialogs between them were a little bit unpleasant but overall I had a really good time reading it. Another thing that I liked a lot was Ryder. I was so happy to see there is a book about him because I was really intrigued by the character. Definitely planning on reading his story.

 

BOOK LINKS

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AUTHOR

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Review: Dream in Color by Crystal Lacy

 

Dream in Color

 

Undergrad art student Ruth desires Dr. Mie Kamigawa from the moment they meet. But in addition to being a professor, Dr. Kamigawa—the sexy English professor with a beautiful body and silver-streaked hair which she doesn’t bother to dye—is married. Will Ruth be able to hide her attraction to the older woman when she takes her class for a semester?

A steamy 3,700 words long short story.

 

REVIEW

 

It was a lovely story. I liked the characters and the way the story was told but I think it was way too short. I guess it was the length what didn’t allow me to love it that much because it made hard to get in touch with the emotions and to really believe in them as a coupe. It feel a little bit too rushed and it felt more like lust than love at this point. I would love to see them fall in love in slower and sweeter way, both characters were really nice and I also would love to see what the future might bring to them. Overall it was a very enjoyable read. I think the issues I had with it are more related with my expectations on romance and not exactly with the story itself, so I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it to someone looking for a FF story with age gap.
 

BOOK LINKS

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AUTHOR

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Release Day: Want: A Dark Taboo Tale by R. Phoenix

 

Want: A Dark Taboo Tale (The Need Trilogy #1)

 

For years, Rex Mirza has been controlling every aspect of his twin brother’s life. Using the fact that Tavi is a magicless witch — a mere human — in a family of powerful witches, he has justified every harsh treatment. All of it is only for Tavi’s own good, of course. How could a human possibly know what was best for him?

When Tavi gets the chance to turn the tables on his brother, will he take it? Or will he take the punishment Rex says is due for trying to run away?

*This is a dark, taboo tale with several kinks that may offend or trigger some readers, including (but not limited to) age play, ABDL, and humiliation. Not every dynamic or element is 100% consensual.

 

 
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AUTHOR

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Release Blitz and Review: What it Seems by Sydney Blackburn (Excerpt and Giveaway)

Title:  What It Seems

Author: Sydney Blackburn

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: May 21, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 19,700

Genre: Contemporary, ace, bisexual, romance, self-discovery

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Synopsis

Michael’s straight and infatuated with a woman he worked with one day, over a year ago. But when he finally sees her again, he’s astounded that the woman of his dreams is a man in drag.

Darcy is ace and not interested in dating anyone, so he and Michael just hang out. A lot. When he needs to do an on-screen kissing scene, Michael is the best person to ask for help.

Michael soon discovers he isn’t as straight as he thought he was, and Darcy likes kissing him a little too much for someone certain he never would. Those are a lot of changes to accept, but they just might be worth it.

Excerpt

What It Seems
Sydney Blackburn © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Michael Eden did not believe in love at first sight—it was a completely ridiculous notion. First came attraction, or lust if one was to be blunt about it, then a discovery of shared interests and a passion for discussing opposite interests. And from that, an intimate history of shared experiences. There was a science to it, right down to the feeling. And that was cool; it was still a wonderful, magical thing, but it didn’t just happen instantly.

He believed that right up until the day he found himself on the closed set for a music video, dancing a complex choreography around the love of his life. She wasn’t the most beautiful woman he’d ever seen—she was slim to the point of being flat-chested, and her jaw was a little too square. But she had long dark-brown hair that hung in heavy waves around her shoulders, sexy legs, and her eyes, dear god, her eyes. Big and cinnamon brown, surrounded by long dark lashes. One look in those eyes and Michael Eden had lost his heart forever.

When filming ended, though, he couldn’t find her. All he knew was her first name. Darcy.

Over a year later, without ever finding her again, he still dreamed about her regularly. Dreamed of her eyes closing as her lips pressed to his, of her slender body against his. Dreamed her breasts barely apples in his hands, tiny, with perfect, rosy nipples. Sometimes his dreams were explicit enough to wake up covered in spunk, which was worse when he’d spent the night with a woman as much like his beloved Darcy as he’d been able to find.

They never satisfied him, not really, and he’d stopped picking up women for what was basically masturbation. Oh, he tried to make sure they got off, too, not because he wanted to please them so much as he felt guilty for pretending they were someone else. It wasn’t worth it.

His current gig was a production of Bite Me! at the Mermaid Theatre. He was assistant choreographer in addition to leading the chorus dancers, and while it wasn’t headline fame, it was satisfying. In fact, if he could just forget Darcy, his life would be close to perfect.

He shook his head briefly as he pedalled his bike home from the theatre. Maybe he should seek professional help. He grimaced, hating the very idea of a psychiatrist.

His phone chose that moment to chime. He knew it was Dave by the ringtone, and that it was a text by the vibration. Nothing he had to stop and answer.

He was sweating by the time he locked his bike into the sheltered rack behind his building and climbed the back stairs. It was a small three-story walk-up, built in the early fifties. His apartment still had a milk door outside the kitchen, although it had been long since blocked off and screwed shut. He couldn’t imagine someone carting crates of milk bottles up those stairs every morning to deliver to the apartments.

He flipped the air conditioner switch to suck out the July heat, put a pot of water on to boil for his mac and cheese, and took a quick shower before checking Dave’s text—it just read: Call me when u get a chance.

Michael finished his supper, supplementing the boxed meal with a small plastic clamshell of blackberries. His laptop was playing tunes in the background, and he left it on as he called Dave.

“Sup?”

“Michael! Hey, listen I need a favour.”

“Anything, buddy.”

“They’re going to be fumigating my place, so we all need to bug out for a couple of days. I was wondering if I could stay with you?”

Michael had a tiny one-bedroom apartment, and he knew he was lucky to be able to afford it. Most guys he knew had roommates or lived in apartments so small their kitchen was their bedroom. Dave could crash on his couch or sleep in his bed. Dave was gay and he was straight, but they’d been friends forever, and sleeping in the same bed was no big deal.

He and Dave had swapped hand jobs on occasion and once, while drunk, blowjobs. Dave had told Michael he was bisexual. Michael didn’t feel bisexual, though—more like an open-minded straight guy. Jerking another guy to relieve some horniness wasn’t the same as thinking guys were hot or wanting to date one.

“It’s not like we have sex,” he’d protested.

“Bro, even if your definition of sex is limited to dicks going into another person’s bodily orifice, blowjobs count.”

Michael had rolled his eyes and shook his head. “One time. It was one time. And alcohol was involved.”

“River in Egypt.”

He and Dave could sleep in the same bed with nothing remotely sexual too. They were friends, and once in a rare while, they shared special benefits and that was it.

Now he said, “How many days?”

“Two, three at the most. I guess ants are almost as hard to kill as roaches. That a problem? You finally got a real girlfriend?”

Michael laughed. “Nah. Still waiting to find the woman of my dreams.” He took a split second to think about it and said, “Of course you can stay.”

Review

 

I had such a good time reading this book. I really wasn’t expecting to like it that much. I hesitate a little before choosing it because there were a few things that made me doubt about it, but I’m so glad I’d read it. It was a lovely book.

 

The plot was really nice, but what I liked the most about it were the characters. I loved the way they start realizing what they feel for each other and never really allow the labels to choose for them. They were able to go against what they tough was expected and decide to act on what they feel. It was great.

 

I liked them both, Michael and Darcy, the same. I loved Darcy’s reaction to their first kiss, it got me by surprise but I was pleased by it. I loved how sex wasn’t the main subject on their relationship as I read so frequently on romance. It felt more realistic and I appreciate that a lot. They made such a nice couple, even though they were a little bit too perfect for my taste but I had a good time with them.

 

Overall it was a beautiful book. Definitely recommend it for someone looking for something sweet and free of angst to read.
 

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… Oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories.

She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry.

Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.

Besides writing, she also designs book covers for poor people.

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