Release Blitz: The Art of Hero Worship by Mia Kerick

Title: The Art of Hero Worship

Author: Mia Kerick

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 29, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 51500

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, bisexual, new adult, college, self-discovery, crime/school shooting, PTSD/disability, grieving/depression, family drama, violence, stalking

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Synopsis

College junior Liam Norcross is a hero. He willingly, even eagerly, risks his life to save a stranger as a murderous, deranged shooter moves methodically through the darkened theater on the Batcheldor College campus, randomly killing innocent men, women, and children.

The stranger he saves is college freshman Jason Tripp. Jase loses everything in the shooting: his girlfriend, who dies on the floor beside him, and his grip on emotional security. He struggles to regain a sense of safety in the world, finally leaving college to seek refuge in his hometown.

An inexplicable bond forms between the two men in the chaos and horror of the theater, and Liam fights to bring Jase back to the world he ran away from. When Jase returns to school, they’re drawn together as soulmates, and soon Liam and Jase fall into a turbulent romantic relationship. However, the rocky path to love cannot be smoothed until Jase rescues his hero in return by delving into his shady past and solving the mystery of Liam’s compulsion to be everybody’s savior.

Excerpt

The Art of Hero Worship
Mia Kerick © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
Pop-pop-pop…

At this point, he’s in the back of the theater, and the shooting hasn’t slowed down at all. Gunshots ring out steadily in the shadowy darkness…always in sets of three, letting me know where he is. I’m scared…so fucking scared…but not too scared to wonder what I did to deserve this special little slice of hell.

And I’m frozen…I can’t even move enough to swallow my spit. I know what I have to do—I have to search for Ginny, but I can’t since I’m frozen solid, like a leg of lamb in a walk-in freezer.

Pop-pop-pop…pop-pop-pop…

“I’ve been shot! Oh, sweet Jesus, I’ve been shot!”

Earsplitting blasts of sound—one, two, three. The gunshots have a life and a plan—no, a mission—all their own, to maim and kill by ripping through the flesh of everyone in this theater. I’m panting and sweating and wishing to God I knew how to pray because I’d so pray right now.

And as suddenly as it started, the shooting stops. Is it over? With the utmost caution, I exhale the breath I’ve been hanging on to so jealously…as if part of me fears I’ll never get the chance to take another. But one more wary breath moves in and out, and I know I have to get hold of myself so I can find her. Because it’s over now… yes, I think maybe it’s ov—

Pop-pop-pop…

Life-sucking and blood-spattering and gurgle-inducing, evenly spaced sets of three that are becoming so horribly predictable. I brace myself for the impact because I just know the next pop is going to come with excruciating pain that explodes in my head or my back or, if I’m lucky, my ass. Or, if I’m not so lucky, in all three places, one right after another.

This isn’t happening. It can’t be happening.

Is nineteen too old to want my mommy?

“Get down! Get on the floor!” Somebody yells. Too late for that warning. I’m already flat on the floor in the narrow space between the rows of seats; my head is bleeding all over the arm it’s resting on… My left arm? My right arm? Somebody else’s arm? Not so sure. Not so sure it matters.

“Don’t shoot me—please don’t—”

Pop-pop-pop…

“Put the gun down! Put it do-o-own!”

Pop-pop-pop…

I belly crawl forward a few inches and reach around in search of Ginny’s hand, but when I pat the floor all I can feel is a pool of blood that wasn’t there the last time I checked, and then there’s this cooling mound of flesh in its center.

“I don’t know what to do…” These words escape on a single breath followed by a few sharp coughs from an elderly man.

Pop-pop-pop…pop-pop-pop…

Annoying cough…forever suppressed.

Right after the second round of shots, when everybody had started rushing around, all frenzied and scrambling, I’d lost track of Ginny… In fact, I’d lost track of everything. Maybe because it had suddenly sunk into my stunned brain that this place was now a death chamber. My death chamber.

It seems as if so much time has passed since the first bullet whizzed past my right ear…that for a month or a year—or for my entire lifetime—I’ve been waiting for the gunshots to stop. But a tiny voice inside my head suggests that I’ve been in this living hell for less than five minutes, at most.

Pop-pop-pop…

Right after the shooting started, but before I lost Ginny, I caught a glimpse of the gunman’s silhouette against the bright stage. He’d seemed huge in his dark baggy clothing. He towered over the audience, or maybe it just seemed that way because he was pointing a long gun at us. I recognized the shooter from seeing him around campus. And when I saw his face profiled in the light—the bulging forehead, prominent nose, and receding chin—a name had sped through my brain, but soon the name was as lost to me as my girlfriend’s lax hand.

Pop-pop-pop…

The gunman doesn’t say a word; his weapon does the talking. And the deafening popping sounds are closer again, like the gun has something it wants to say to me personally…something like, “You’re gonna die today, Jason.”

“I’m gonna push on your back really hard, and I want you to squeeze as much of your body underneath the chairs as you can, got it?” The voice seems to come from a million miles away, but it’s coming from right behind me. On top of me, really. I feel his breath on the back of my neck.

Pop-pop-pop…pop-pop-pop…

“Are we going to die?” I’m not sure if I ask this or if it comes from the lips of the little old lady who’d been sitting on the other side of Ginny at the start of the play. The old lady who told us she’d come to the Harrison Theater to see her granddaughter play Ophelia in the Shakespeare in the Spring Performance Series, not to die in a hail of bullets. I know that Ginny didn’t ask the question, though. She’s been silent since the second volley of gunshots when her head slumped over unnaturally onto my shoulder, and by instinct, I’d pulled her to the floor.

Batcheldor College’s small theater has been called “an acoustic gem,” and right now, it’s ringing with the erratic sounds of screaming and moaning and crying and shouting and shooting. But most impressive is the resounding silence of the gunman, which speaks louder than words, or gunshots, ever could.

All in all, it’s noisy and confusing and crazy…the Beatles’ tune “Helter Skelter” comes to mind. This is not how I want to die. Mostly because I don’t want to die!

The guy on my back is poking a single finger into the blood on my head, then twisting in such a way that I think he’s reaching to his back…like maybe he’s smearing my blood there. I’m distracted from his action by the squealing of the fire alarm, and I find my blurry mind wondering if, in addition to the problem of a crazed gunman, we also have a fire to put out.

Would I prefer my death be a result of hungry flames or a hail of bullets?

“We’re gonna survive; just stay still. Completely still. ’Kay?” I feel the pressure on my back that he promised me, and even though it hurts to have my belly pushed into the metal rungs at the base of the seats in front of us, I feel strangely safe. He speaks into my ear. “Play dead, dude.”

Pop-pop-pop…

No, I’m not even remotely safe. But thankfully, I play dead far better than my dog Goliath did when I tried to teach him that trick at the age of seven.

The shots are already earsplitting, and growing louder, as the shooter’s heading our way. I’m so fucking scared I tremble as if I’m having a seizure, and I promised the guy lying on top of me that I’d stay still. I concentrate on taking short shallow breaths, one after another, in my effort to stop shaking. To stay frozen—the way my heart has been since I pulled Ginny to the floor and promptly let go of her hand so I could curl up into a tight fetal ball.

Somebody near me sits up, scrambles to his knees, and impulsively crawls toward the far aisle.

Pop-pop-pop…

“Bang, bang…you’re dead.” The voice comes from directly above me; it’s blank and monotone and controlled. The snicker that follows is chilling. I want nothing more than to throw the big guy off my back and run like hell toward the double doors, but I just keep on going with the short, shallow breaths and stay as still as I’ve ever been in my life. The guy on top of me is totally exposed; I can’t move because if I do, I’ll cheat him out of his life, for sure. Which is so not cool when he’s trying to save mine.

I smell blood. Never noticed the smell of blood before. It reminds me of Grandma’s penny collection…if it got spilled onto the sticky floor of the theater. The scent of old copper is everywhere like wet pennies strewn all around me on the floor.

Pop-pop-pop…

Shooter’s practically on top of us now. Don’t move…don’t move…don’t move…

“Dear God, help me!” This request seems to catch the shooter’s attention, and he turns around and steps away from us. I curse myself for feeling as relieved as I do.

Pop-pop-pop…

We wait and it seems like forever. We wait as voices beg and plead and pray and he shuts them up with bullets. We wait as the sound of shots moves to the front left near the exit, where I figure he’s shooting at anyone who tries to get out through the double doors.

And then, for a second, it’s quiet.

“Now…” The big guy whispers, but the sound seems to blast into my left ear. “We have to make our move now.” Before I agree, the heaviness of his body lifts and I feel cold and exposed. “This is our chance to get outta here…”

His hand is attached to the back of my wrist, clutching me so hard I’ll have fingerprint bruises for a week…if I live so long.

“Come on! Get up!”

“Ginny…” I whisper back. “I can’t leave Ginny.”

He reaches out to touch the flesh mound in the center of the pool of blood and whispers firmly, “Ginny’s already gone.” He releases my wrist just long enough to adjust his grip. “I worked here last year. I know how to get away. Come on…”

He pulls me to my knees and drags me. Ginny. I only think her name this time because I’m literally too petrified to speak. We crawl like two sneaky toddlers through the narrow alley between the rows of seats and then down the outside aisle, over a couple of bodies—small ones, kids’ bodies that are way too still and cool—and to a trapdoor at the base of the stage. It’s a small gray square in the wall. I never noticed it before, and I’ve been to the Harrison Theater at least five times this year to see Ginny’s roommate perform. The guy beside me pulls out a pocketknife and fiddles silently with the screws holding the little door in place.

Pop-pop-pop…

The thin slab of metal covering the small door drops to the floor and contributes a new sound to the quieting chaos. It clangs in such a way that nobody left alive in the theater could miss it.

“Where do you think you’re going?” The gunman has stopped shooting, and I hear the heavy stomping of combat boots coming toward us, down the aisle. Not running…just walking in swift, determined steps. My guardian angel grabs me and stuffs me through the opening in the base of the stage. I land on my chin in a pile of music stands. My helper isn’t far behind in squeezing his bulky frame through the small square in the wall. We’ve landed in some type of a cluttered crawl space, maybe the orchestra pit, and I struggle to make my way through the music stands in the pitch-blackness. When we’re halfway through the mess of metal, crawling through unruly stacks of folding chairs, the overhead light in the pit flicks on.

“What’s going on in the theater, you guys? It’s mega-loud in there.” A clueless college girl’s voice. I can’t see her clearly because the sudden bright light stings my eyes, making me squint.

“Get out of here, lady—just run for it!” shouts my guardian angel. We can’t run yet because we’re still trapped in a dense forest of metal.

“I see you two… I see you.” The shooter’s voice is deadly calm. “And I think I know you.”

Pop-pop-pop…

For some reason, he doesn’t climb into the orchestra pit to come after us but pushes the gun through the opening and pulls the trigger three times. Bullets ricochet off the metal chairs and stands. Again I freeze, not sure which way to go. I’m grabbed fiercely by my right forearm and dragged over the remainder of the chairs to the door.

I expect more shooting, but there’s none. Instead, that cold, creepy voice increases in volume, to assure us, “Don’t worry, I’ll find you.”

We take to our feet and start to run. Soon we’re holding hands in a narrow hallway…running for the back of the building…and then we’re outside in the breezy darkness, still clinging to each other. We sprint through the muddy grass in the direction of the parking lot.

And we stop at an old model, cherry-red muscle car—a Dodge Charger.

“Get in!” His voice is husky as he opens the passenger door, pushes me inside, and quickly shuts it. Then he scrambles over the hood to get to the driver’s side. He flings the door wide open and jumps into the seat, not gracefully, but with more speed than I could ever have imagined was possible for a guy his size. Adrenaline counts for a lot… And soon we’re driving off the college grounds, out of the supposed safety of the “Batcheldor College Bubble,” and into the real world.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Mia Kerick is the mother of four exceptional children—one in law school, another at a dance conservatory, a third studying at Mia’s alma mater, Boston College, and her lone son still in high school. She has published more than twenty books of LGBTQ romance when not editing National Honor Society essays, offering opinions on college and law school applications, helping to create dance bios, and reviewing English papers. Her husband of twenty-five years has been told by many that he has the patience of Job, but don’t ask Mia about this, as it is a sensitive subject.

Mia focuses her stories on the emotional growth of troubled young people and their relationships. She has a great affinity for the tortured hero in literature, and as a teen, Mia filled spiral-bound notebooks with tales of tortured heroes and stuffed them under her mattress for safekeeping. She is thankful to NineStar Press for providing her with an alternate place to stash her stories.

Her books have been featured in Kirkus Reviews magazine, and have won Rainbow Awards for Best Transgender Contemporary Romance and Best YA Lesbian Fiction, a Reader Views’ Book by Book Publicity Literary Award, the Jack Eadon Award for Best Book in Contemporary Drama, an Indie Fab Award, and a Royal Dragonfly Award for Cultural Diversity, among other awards.

Mia Kerick is a social liberal and cheers for each and every victory made in the name of human rights. Her only major regret: never having taken typing or computer class in school, destining her to a life consumed with two-fingered pecking and constant prayer to the Gods of Technology. Contact Mia at miakerick@gmail.com or visit at http://www.miakerickya.com to see what is going on in Mia’s world.

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Release Blitz: Escaping Solitude by Sara Dobie Bauer

Title: Escaping Solitude

Series: The Escape Trilogy, Book Two

Author: Sara Dobie Bauer

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 29, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 29400

Genre: Paranormal, bisexual, gay, vampires, polyamorous, sailors

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Synopsis

Ancient vampire Andrew escaped his tropical island exile with his beloved human sailor, Edmund. They’ve now returned to Andrew’s home in nineteenth-century New Orleans and must navigate not only their developing relationship—and equally haunted pasts—but also a hungry coven of vampires Andrew used to call friends.

Desperate to stay by Andrew’s side forever, Edmund examines the impressive coven library in search of an Elder, the only creature capable of turning Edmund. Although missing for centuries, Andrew believes an Elder must still survive somewhere; they just have to find him.

The search is put on hold when Edmund receives word that his mother is ill in London, and the lovers set off on an oceanic journey surrounded by new friends and old enemies. When things go terribly wrong, Edmund’s fragile human life hangs in the balance, and an Elder must be found or Andrew will be alone forever.

Excerpt

Escaping Solitude
Sara Dobie Bauer © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
My sailor is getting very good at nightmares. In the bed of our rented hotel room in the New Orleans French Quarter, he thrashes against me in the dark and whimpers. When Edmund is lost in the thralls of passion, I adore that noise—but not when he’s afraid like this. I pull his naked body hard against mine and press kisses to his clammy forehead. He claws at me for but a moment before allowing himself to be enveloped in my embrace. He murmurs my name and falls back asleep.

We’ve only been on dry land for a day after an oceanic journey that felt interminable. Perhaps it’s my having been alone for so long on my island of exile, but I now abhor the presence of so many other people. Edmund said I acted like a she-wolf with her pup, my hands on him whenever anyone drew near. Yes, I’m territorial of my dearest, but he doesn’t yet know how other vampires can be.

He’ll find out soon. Michelle demanded we appear at my old vampire coven. I’m to present Edmund to my old friends, but I plan to make it clear that no other immortal will even breathe on my sailor without getting a fist to the throat. Monsters are not to be trusted with something so beautiful, and God, is Edmund ever beautiful.

He danced on the harbor as soon as he set foot on American soil. I didn’t miss the way Michelle’s eyes glittered as she watched. Although he requested to immediately explore, I refused to let him walk New Orleans barefoot in my hand-me-down, bloodstained clothes. I carried him, laughing, away from the harbor before remembering myself. The way I love my sailor isn’t appropriate to many small-minded Southerners. After so much time spent alone, we have to alter our behavior. I can’t very well grab him and kiss him in the middle of a Bourbon Street afternoon, can I?

At our hotel, Edmund marveled at the crystal chandeliers, and although we received several strange looks, my coven’s money guaranteed us a room on the top floor. First thing we did was bathe together in a tub practically the size of our island lagoon. I requested a barber and watched as the white-haired gent shaved Edmund and trimmed his hair. Skin once again soft, Edmund hurried the barber away so we could make love. He has done nothing but sleep and eat since, but in the morning, we will visit a tailor.

It’s been four years since I left. Will old man Peters still be alive?

Edmund shifts beside me. His fingertips press against my chest, and he hums. “You’re awake.”

I run my fingers through his hair. “How did you know?”

“Your breath changes.” He kisses the edge of my jaw. “I know you don’t need to breathe, but you do it anyway, as though your body won’t give up the habit.” He must notice how tightly I hold him. “Did I have another nightmare?”

“Mm. Do you ever remember what they’re about?”

“Water. I think. Lots of water.” He yawns and rubs his legs against mine.

“Don’t tell me you’re now going to be scared of the sea.”

I feel him smile against my skin. “Never. I’d just rather not be dragged under it in a sinking ship.” He sits up and stretches his arms over his head. His back makes a slight popping sound when he twists his ribs and stands, walking naked to the pitcher of water in our gilded basin. Most of the high-ceilinged room is painted gold. A huge bouquet of white magnolias sits on the table by my side, although the sweet, floral scent doesn’t cover the New Orleans odor of sweat, salt, and sewer.

Of course, if I focus, I smell only Edmund. It’s hard to not focus on his bare skin as he drinks straight from the water jug before wiping his face with the back of his hand. The long, angry scar on his back shivers in the moonlight, and the bandage on his arm glows white. I suppose it’s my fault he earned a new scar during our time on the island. His blood was a gift to me that managed to save his life.

He rubs at his shoulder as though sore. “My body is confused,” he says.

I lean up on my elbows. “How so?”

“It’s accustomed to hard work.”

“I’ll work you hard.”

He laughs, and the sight of his lean stomach contracting has me half hard already. He flops into bed on his belly. “Do you even listen when I talk?”

I run my fingers through his dark hair. It’s shorter now than when we first met. “I love listening to you talk.”

“I’ve spent years living at sea. When I wasn’t busy playing sailor on deck, I walked through wild forests and fought cannibals and pirates. Now, I’m here in this bloody posh hotel, eating pastries all day—”

I steal a kiss. “They’re called beignets.”

“And, if we’re not careful, I’m going to end up fat and lazy like all the other British dukes.” His eyes go wide in the darkness. “Jesus, Andrew, I have to write my mother! She might think me mad, but she doesn’t want me dead. And the trading company. Their ship is at the bottom of the sea!”

I tackle him and put my hand over his mouth. “Quiet. Are you trying to wake the entire hotel? It’s nowhere close to morning yet. Your letter writing will have to wait.”

He mumbles against my skin.

“What was that?” I pull my hand away.

“Are we going to see the city in the morning?”

“Yes. I have plans.” I think of my tailor, Peters…and a possible nocturnal enticement.

Edmund’s callused palms run up the sides of my biceps. “I’ll have to pretend I don’t adore you, won’t I? Out in the city. Two men together is frowned upon. I won’t be able to do this…” He cups my head in his hands and pulls me closer until his open mouth finds mine. He sucks on my tongue, and I grind against his hip.

I pull away and press my forehead to his. “Will I ever stop wanting you?”

“No.” He smiles. “Men rarely do.”

“Cocky.”

He grabs my hand and presses it to the hardness between his legs. “Very.”

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Sara Dobie Bauer is a bestselling author, model, and mental health / LGBTQ advocate with a creative writing degree from Ohio University. Twice nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she lives with her hottie husband and two precious pups in Northeast Ohio, although she’d really like to live in a Tim Burton film. She is author of the paranormal rom-com Bite Somebody series, among other sexy things.

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Release Blitz: Death of a Bachelor

Title: Death of a Bachelor

Author: M.A. Hinkle

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 29, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 75,200

Genre: Contemporary, contemporary, bisexual, enemies to lovers, grief/grieving, UST (unresolved sexual tension), teenage kids, family drama, humorous

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Synopsis

Cathal Kinnery is an arrogant, overeducated jerk, and Damon Eglamore is not afraid to tell him so. But Damon married Cathal’s best friend, so they have an uneasy truce. Then she passes away. Now they’re stuck together in close quarters, trying to honor her memory without shouting at each other all the time.

At first, they have no idea how to move forward. Damon is a chef, but all his favorite recipes remind him of his late wife. Cathal would love to start tomcatting around town again, except for that annoying promise he made to his best friend about looking after Damon.

Then Damon’s son comes to them for help, convinced the only way to win over his first crush is a gender-bending Shakespeare production. After that, Cathal talks Damon into taking up baking as a new way to use his talents. Next thing they know, they’ve begun a new life working as a team instead of jumping at each other’s throats. But can they trust each other long enough to make it last, or will they fall into old bad habits again?

Excerpt

Death of a Bachelor
M.A. Hinkle © 2018
All Rights Reserved

First Prologue: Cathal Crushes Olives and Damon’s Dreams.
December 31st, 1997

The man sitting at the end of the bar was older than Damon, maybe twenty-four. He had a thin, foxlike face and long, dark hair that he twirled around a finger as he wrote on a napkin, and he was wearing a Cherrywood College shirt under his suit jacket. A martini sat untouched in front of him, and his eyes were lost in thought. Definitely gay, but he wasn’t…intimidating. Unlike every other man who wasn’t on the dance floor or making out with someone else.

Damon sat next to him and gestured to the bartender for a beer. He was already a little drunk, but if he wanted to relax, he’d have to get a lot drunk. The other patron continued writing out a math problem. He finished his equation, considered it, and then scribbled the whole thing out, his brow furrowed. Scowling, he drank the martini at one go. Only then did he glance in Damon’s direction. “Fuck off,” he said, biting the olive from the swizzle stick. “I’m not looking for company tonight. I came here to get drunk.”

Damon colored, but he kept the embarrassment from his voice. “Why’d you think I came here for anything different?”

“There’s plenty of room, but you sat by me.” He looked at Damon, taking him all in, and his eyes narrowed further. The scowl fit his face too well, and Damon didn’t appreciate his scrutiny. “And guys like you don’t come here for the conversation.”

Damon didn’t care for the man’s tone. But he was the first to admit he didn’t know what he was doing—and, anyway, he was drunk enough not to care. “I wasn’t aware anyone came here for conversation.”

The man snorted. “It’s not the fucking sixties anymore. Gays can have meet-cutes as easily as everyone else.” He gestured to the bartender for another martini, rubbing his forehead.

Damon didn’t know what he meant, and he wanted to ask what kind of guy this man thought he was. But he had a feeling that would piss him off, and he was looking for a good time. Instead, he took another drink of his beer. “I’m Damon,” he said, without expecting much.

The man accepted another martini from the bartender and sipped it, looking at Damon over the top. “Cathal.”

Damon drummed his fingers on the bar, wondering if he ought to cut his losses and head to a straight bar after all. But he settled for finishing his beer in one long drink.

Cathal watched him. Not friendly watching. At this point, Damon didn’t know how to leave, so he signaled for another beer. “What were you working on?”

Cathal glanced at the napkin and made a face. “Bullshit. It doesn’t matter.”

Damon screwed the cap off his second beer and took a drink. “Who comes to a bar and does their homework?”

Cathal raised his eyebrows. His face was dangerous, but he couldn’t be that bad. Too scrawny. “Who comes to a bar already drunk?” He tilted his head to the side and smiled. Not a nice smile. Damon was starting to wonder if he had a nice smile, or if he always looked like someone had pissed in his drink. “Oh. I know. Guys like you.”

Damon frowned, feeling the first stirrings of anger. “You said that before. What do you mean?”

Cathal leaned toward Damon. His voice was calm, unhurried, but his eyes were full of fire, the sort that burns unnoticed and then flares up to take a tree down in seconds. “Guys like you. Guys who are maybe straight, maybe not, who come to one of our places for a little fucking fun and then go home to their wife or girlfriend or whatever. Never mind that it’s guys like you—guys with enough gay in them to be scared when they see one of us—who cause the goddamn trouble in the first place, because you’re not man enough to face down what’s inside you.” He drank the rest of his martini and bit off the olive again, viciously. “Don’t say you play for both teams if you’re only going to bat for one side.”

Damon blinked. It wasn’t only that he was surprised by the onslaught. He was hurt, too. “Are you this much of an asshole to everyone, or just me?” His temper was throbbing now, but he wasn’t drunk enough to punch Cathal. Even though he wanted to be, because he could never match him with words.

“Everyone,” said Cathal, like he was proud of it. He got up. “If you want a fuckbuddy for the night, that’s fine. So do plenty of guys here. But go find someone who doesn’t care if you’re throwing the rest of us under the bus, because I do.” He reached to tuck the napkin into his pocket; Damon grabbed his wrist, even though he had nothing to say. Cathal shot him a look that promised every possible bad thing in the known universe. And some unknown things.

Damon let go of him, scowling. “I’m not like that. I’m not.”

Cathal smiled that prim, insipid smile again. “Yes, you fucking are.” He walked off without another word.

Damon sat there, stunned. Then he turned around and finished his beer at a go.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

M.A. Hinkle swears a lot and makes jokes at inappropriate times, so she writes about characters who do the same thing. She’s also worked as an editor and proofreader for the last eight years, critiquing everything from graduate school applications to romance novels.

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Release Blitz: Trusted

Title: Trusted

Series: Until You, Book Three

Author: Karrie Roman

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 29, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 84,100

Genre: Contemporary, bodyguards, hurt-comfort, grief, men with children, rescue operation, kidnapping

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Synopsis

Zach Piper has escaped his father’s cult only to find himself in a world he doesn’t understand. Abused and neglected, he’s grown up an outcast among outcasts. He has no business trusting anybody after what he’s been through, but when Cameron Cronin takes him in and shows him a world he never knew, he willingly hands over his trust. In Cameron he finds honor and decency—someone who cares.

Cameron lives without love and he prefers it that way. He never wants to fall in love again. The last man he loved shattered Cameron’s heart as surely as his trust. When he takes in much-younger Zach, who recently emerged from his own hell, he hears the familiar whisper of long-dead feelings. But he doesn’t want to love. He cannot trust he won’t be broken again if he does.

As time passes and the two men get to know each other, Cameron’s feelings for Zach deepen whether he wants it or not. But just when Cameron decides to trust in Zach, and act on the love he knows is there, both of their pasts come storming back to threaten everything they’ve built. When their lives hang in the balance they must trust each other enough to get out alive.

Excerpt

Trusted
Karrie Roman © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
“Zach, stay there, honey.”

“But, Momma—”

“It’s okay. Momma’s, okay.”

Momma said she was okay and Momma didn’t lie to him, but there was so much yelling and he was scared. How could she be okay with all that yelling? He wanted to scream, but Momma told him to stay real quiet. He wanted to go see what was happening, but Momma told him to stay in the stream and finish washing. It sounded like Momma needed help. But he was just a little boy and Father always told him he was no good at anything, so what could he do to help anyway?

But she was his momma and she was the only one who loved him.

That shouting was getting louder, but he couldn’t hear Momma yelling back now; she was crying and making a funny noise. He was going to go help; he didn’t care if Father said he was a useless little shit. She was his momma. He looked down so he’d put his hand on the right rock to hoist himself out of the water, but something was wrong. The clear water of the stream was all red—the brightest red he’d ever seen.

Zach screamed.

Zach wasn’t sure if the scream in his nightmare carried over into the real world—he hoped not. He sat quietly for a moment, listening. He couldn’t hear anyone coming toward his room. Sweat danced trails down his back and plastered his hair to his head. His body was working through the last of the tremors as his breathing slowly calmed back to normal.

This wasn’t the first time he’d had this nightmare, and it wouldn’t be the last. But it seemed worse this time, and Zach couldn’t quite work out why. Perhaps it was the turmoil of the last few days.

Three days ago, Zach had fled his father’s religious cult with two young girls, one a maybe fourteen-year-old who’d been about to be forced into marriage with his father. The three of them had almost literally crashed into two men, Ben and Ethan, who had been searching for Ethan’s infant nieces. The little girls had been kidnapped by their father and taken to the cult. It had all been such a mess, made even worse by his father’s plans for the mass suicide of the cult members.

But he was safe; the girls were safe; everyone was safe. Ben and Ethan and the FBI—they’d saved everybody.

Right now he was sleeping in the house of Ben’s brother, Cameron. Cameron had also helped in their eventual rescue. Just thinking about Cameron woke up the butterflies in his belly, causing them to flutter around like crazy.

When he’d first encountered Ben out there in the wild, he’d thought him beautiful—and then he’d seen him kissing Ethan. Raised as he had been, secluded from the world in his father’s cult, Zach had no idea men could be together in the same way the men had been with the women of the cult. He hadn’t known such a thing was possible. Suddenly, the way Zach had always watched the men of the cult with such fascination and yearning had made sense. He finally made sense.

But all of that was nothing compared to how his body had reacted when he had seen Cameron for the first time. Beautiful hadn’t seemed a good enough word to describe Cameron. Zach didn’t even know of a word that could define the perfection he saw in Cameron Cronin. All he could think was how he wanted to press his lips to Cameron’s just like he’d seen Ben do to Ethan.

For now, the remnants of the nightmare clung to him, refusing to leave him in peace, so he knew he’d never get back to sleep. In the past, there’d never been anyone to comfort him, no one for him to go to for a few whispered words or a gentle touch to ease him through the lingering terror, but tonight Cameron’s face flashed in his mind, so he pushed the covers back to go in search of him. Everyone had been kind to him since his escape, but there was something about Cameron, something he didn’t understand but knew it made him feel good—safe—anyway.

As soon as he left his room, he noticed lights toward the end of the long hallway and heard soft voices coming from the same direction. Zach walked quietly, unsure of his welcome.

Four men sat in the room at the end of the hall: Cameron, Ben, Ethan and the FBI agent who’d been in charge of the raid on his father’s cult, Alec Banner. They were talking, and none of them seemed to notice his arrival.

“Cameron,” he called softly. His voice was so quiet he wasn’t even sure if Cameron would hear him from across the room, but he must have because he jumped up from his seat, immediately striding forward.

Zach’s tummy churned in that good way as Cameron came toward him. Everything about him was so perfect. He was tall and broad, thick muscles cording his arms and legs. He was so handsome. His face looked hard, as if it had been chiseled from stone, all angles, but it was stunning to look at. He had a bit of stubble covering his jaw, and Zach yearned to scrub his fingers over it just to see if it scratched his skin like he thought it would. Cameron’s pale-blue eyes never wavered as he watched Zach with concern.

“You okay, Zach?”

“Only a nightmare,” he replied, nodding his head.

“Do you want to sit with us for a while?” Cameron asked and Zach looked over his shoulder at the other men, shifting his gaze to each of them.

“No, that’s okay. I just…needed to know you were here.” His words sounded pathetic to his own ear, but he saw only concern in Cameron’s gaze.

Cameron reached out an arm as though he was going to touch him and then just as quickly pulled it back. “I’m right here, Zach. I’m not going anywhere…you’re not alone anymore.”

Zach nodded, suddenly embarrassed a dream had chased him out here to these men like a frightened child. He nodded and turned to walk back to his room.

When he got there, he pulled his blankets onto the floor, hoping the familiar hardness of the ground would help him sleep. Comfort wasn’t something he was used to.

Cameron had told him he wasn’t going anywhere. He’d also offered for Zach to stay here with him until he got himself sorted out. The rest of the cult members were staying together. They’d set up a campsite just outside of town until the FBI had interviewed them all, but Zach didn’t want to go with them. He’d always been invisible to most members of the cult—an outcast even among outcasts.

Zach had accepted Cameron’s offer because he’d need help learning how to live in this strange new world he’d been dumped in. He’d lived on the periphery growing up, knowing there was another world there but not really understanding it. Hushed and whispered conversations of the decadence and sinfulness of the world had often reached his ears. Awed stories about televisions and phones and other such evil inventions of mankind had often enthralled him. Regardless of the threads of knowledge he had, though, he really knew so little of this world he’d suddenly been thrust into since his escape. And with his father arrested and the cult disbanded, there was no going back behind the closed walls of their commune. He’d have to find his way in this world, and he’d have to find it alone—or perhaps not as alone as he’d thought, if Cameron was truthful with him.

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Meet the Author

Karrie lives in Australia’s sunshine state with her husband and two sons, though she hates the sun with a passion. She dreams of one day living in the wettest and coldest habitable place she can find. She has been writing stories in her head for years but has finally managed to pull the words out of her head and share them with others. She spends her days trying to type her stories on the computer without disturbing her beloved cat Lu curled up on the keyboard. She probably reads far too much.

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Release Blitz: The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane by Bryce Bentley-Tales

Title: The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane

Author: Bryce Bentley-Tales

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: October 29, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 49000

Genre: Young Adult Paranormal, young adult, werewolves, Ireland, urban legend

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Synopsis

Thirteen-year-old Colton and his best friend Jade spend their free time investigating a local urban legend concerning an old abandoned house in their hometown in Ireland. The run-down building is said to be haunted and some of the things they’ve seen seem to confirm it.

Colton has a crush on foreign-exchange student, Dylan, who is visiting his aunt from America. But Dylan isn’t your average American kid, and soon Colton and his friends are embroiled in more than urban legend and must find a way to save everything they know and love.

Excerpt

The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane
Bryce Bentley-Tales © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
I rotated the zoom dial on my binoculars. The three-story stone house loomed large in my view.

Jade whispered behind me, “Colton, what’d you see?”

“Shhh.”

I surveyed the gloomy home from side to side. The house sat on the crest of a small hill and far from the cobbled street where I crouched. Spidery cracks filled a couple of the second-story windows. The paint had faded and peeled, and the rooftop sections were missing shingles. It had to be one of the oldest residences in Arklow.

“Colton,” Jade said, tapping my shoulder.

“Jade, you’re breaking me concentration.”

Huddled near the stone column at the end of the winding driveway, I inched around the base a bit farther to get a better look. A light, cool breeze blew, swaying the sea of tall weeds in the house’s lawn and filling my nose with the scent of dogs.

Deep, guttural barks erupted behind me. Startled, I whirled before realizing that the noise was just Jade’s ringtone. I glared while she squatted close to the curb, frantically patting the outside of her lightweight jacket in search of her phone.

“Are you a complete tool? Turn the blimey thing off.”

Jade glanced up, her eyes wide. “Can’t find it.” Then she straightened, grinned at me, and said, “Found it.” She removed the phone from a side pocket, and the barking grew in volume. Brushing her lengthy brown hair from her face, she stared at the caller ID. “Oh…it’s me mum.”

“Shut it off! All of Ireland will know we’re here!”

She didn’t move but held the smartphone in both palms. The phone quit ringing finally, and she sighed. “I should go. It’s probably suppertime.”

“You can’t. This was your idea.”

A loud clanging echoed across the yard, and we both cowered behind the stone fence post. Adjacent to the old post, a crumbling stone wall shielded us from anyone standing by the house. When I poked my head around the ledge, nothing but the motionless tall weeds could be seen in the yard and the same gloomy look the house had had before. It was dead quiet.

Jade put her hands on my shoulders, her mouth next to my ear. “S-see, I told you. You believe me now? It’s haunted.”

I tried to speak, but my mouth was dry. I brought my binoculars up, gripping them hard with both hands.

“Probably just varmint inside,” I said.

“Aye. And maybe you and your butterfingers could be captain of the rugby team.”

“Har-har. You think the Kennedy twins really disappeared inside?”

“I told you. I saw them at the house when I was with Erin two nights ago. They said they were going inside.”

“Maybe they’re hanging out at the local pub downtown?”

“Colton, no one has seen those fellas since that night. They went inside and never came out, sure of it.”

I swiveled the binoculars around, peering at the large, arched front doorway, which had a wolf face doorknocker.

Jade whispered close to my ear, “You see anything?”

“Shhh, I can’t focus with your tongue in my ear.”

“My tongue isn’t in your ear,” Jade said, her voice irritated.

After a few seconds, she pushed on my shoulder. “By the way, you find out the new foreign-exchange fella’s story? You didn’t take your eyes off him in class. I missed a lot while I was away.” She giggled. “You fancy him, don’t you?”

I cringed, lowered the binoculars, and spoke in a hushed voice over my shoulder. “Don’t say that out loud.”

“And who’s going to blimey hear us? Just us and the ghouls at 44 Lowre Few Lane.”

“Dylan. That’s his name. We’ve spoken barely a couple of words since he started. I took him to Headmaster Collin’s office on his first day and managed to say hello. And for your knowledge, he is right bloody in front of the board. I can’t help but look in his direction.”

“Mm-hmm,” Jade said.

I started to bring my binoculars back up when Jade said, “Well, I like his accent. Oh, I think he noticed you after school today. Did you see that? Maybe he likes boys too. You never know.” She swatted my back. “Are you blushing?”

I shook my head. My face was hot, though. I had seen Dylan outside talking to a couple of boys on the rugby team. Our eyes had met, but I’d been quick to look away.

I shifted my weight on my knees. Jade now leaned against my back, and it was getting hard to bear her weight.

“Oh, Colton, you are so darling sometimes. I missed you while I was gone the last two weeks.”

“It’s been bloody miserable,” I said. “I’ve eaten lunch a couple times with Thomas until he was sent to detention. Tried to eat with Erin, but she just smiles at me.”

“Well,” Jade said, “I’m back now. So we’ll eat lunch together. Where’s Dylan from again?”

I opened my mouth to say he was from America but never got a chance. A barking ringtone erupted again. I jumped a foot in the air and whipped my head toward Jade. She brought out her phone and stared at it.

I put my hands on my hips and snarled, “Oh for bloody sake, Jade. You can’t be serious. Put it on vibrate.”

Jade held her finger up, stepped to the curb, and answered her phone. “Mum?”

I sighed, leaning my back against the stone column.

“No,” Jade said. “I’m fine. Just out of breath. I’m with Colton.” Jade stared at me, the end of her mouth curled down. “Oh, Mum. You’ve too met him. You had him over for dinner five times this summer. He’s the Asian?” Jade rolled her eyes. “Mum, that’s who I just said. Colton. It is too what I said. And it’s not impolite. He is half-Asian. Remember, you thought it right peculiar his mother was from Singapore and the father Irish, asking me how they ever met.” She looked at me before turning away and lowering her voice. “Uh, no, Mum. He can’t hear me.”

She walked away from me, but her voice still carried. “No, Mum, we haven’t seen any packs of dogs. No.” She turned back, giving me an inquisitive look.

I shook my head. Over the last week, I had heard from a couple of friends there had been sightings of a pack of dogs, but that was just rumor.

“Colton hasn’t seen any either.”

I looked at the horizon and down the cobbled road. The few homes in this part of Arklow stood far off the roadway and scattered about, giving off a sense of remoteness. With the sun turning reddish and less than an hour from setting, that isolation magnified the creepy vibe from the small wood surrounding the manor we’d come to investigate. We needed to go.

I whirled my finger in the air for Jade to hurry it up. She stood in the middle of the road, held up a hand to me, and offered a nervous smile. She told her mother, “We stayed after school and helped Ms. Griffin with decorations in the auditorium. Yes, for Hollow’s Eve. It’s tomorrow, remember?” Jade fussed with her hair while she talked. “Oh, Mum, good grief, you met her too. She’s me sixth-grade history teacher. Sings in the town choir?”

Rubbing the back of my neck, I sighed and took a quick gander back at the house from my vantage point. I raised the binoculars and peered at the porch. A couple of rickety boards stuck up. Close to the bottom steps, on either side, gray wolf statues sat back on their hindquarters. They stared straight ahead in my direction.

A shadow crossed over one of the statues. I moved the binoculars a hair to the right. A black-haired wolf crouched at the statue’s base, its amber eyes pointed in my direction. I stepped back and tripped over my feet, landing on a cushion of waist-high grass.

Jade knelt down to my side. “Colton, what is it?” She no longer had the phone to her ear.

I pointed to the house. “W-w-wolf.”

Jade’s eyes widened. “Wolf?” She stared toward the house, shaking her head. “I don’t see anything. You mean the statues?”

I got up to my feet and tugged on her hand. “L-let’s go.”

“Okay, good,” Jade said. “I told Mum we’re going home.”

As I glanced over my shoulder, the black wolf was gone, but I remained fixated on the statues. I took in a sharp breath. The statues were no longer staring straight ahead, but instead, the snout of one of the wolf statues was up in the air as if howling. The second one’s head was turned toward me.

I sprinted with everything I had.

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

Bryce was raised by his mother and father in the countryside near Wichita, Kansas and learned to become an avid reader from his mother and maternal grandfather who carries the last name of Bentley. Stephen King novels still stack his two shelves in his old bedroom at home. After graduating from his high school with a class size of 69, he completed college where he had never came out gay, then took a winding journey over his entire 20s. This took him to Indiana, then to the San Francisco Bay Area where he still did not come out but obtained a master’s degree. He traveled to Bangkok, Thailand during his late 20s to teach English for a year and he met his first boyfriend. Five years later, he completed his doctorate degree in psychology, which was inspired by a youth and young adulthood of feeling internally bewildered. Bryce started dabbling in writing in 2011 or in his mid-thirties. He self-published several works under his name over the last few years, but it was in 2016 he felt like he was finally getting the hang of this writing thing. The Werewolf on Lowre Few Lane is his first work under his pen name of Bryce Bentley-Tales. His next YA novel with a working title of Orion: The PreRobo Era Boy, is a work he is finishing up currently. Bryce currently lives in Dallas, Texas.

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Review: Slide and Rare (Roads Book #1 and 2) by Garrett Leigh

 

 

Roads Series – Available Exclusive to Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited
 
Book #1 – Slide – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #2 – Rare – Amazon US | Amazon UK
Book #3 – Circle – Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
 
SLIDE
 

Don’t look back. Don’t you ever look back…


Shy tattoo artist Ash has a troubled past. Years of neglect, drug abuse, and life on the streets have taken their toll, and sometimes it seems the deep, unspoken bond with his lover is the only balm for wounds he doesn’t quite understand.


Chicago paramedic Pete is warmth, love, and strength—things Ash never knew he could have, and never even knew he wanted until Pete showed him. But fate is a cruel, cruel mistress, and when nightmares collide with the present, their tentatively built world comes crashing down.


Traumatic events in Pete’s work life distance him from home, and he doesn’t realize until it’s too late that Ash has slipped away. Betrayal, secrets, and lies unfold, and when a devastating coincidence takes hold, Pete must fight with all he has to save the love of his life.

 
Review

I really liked it a lot, I had very few issues with it but overall it was a very good book.

One of the things I liked the most about it was that both main characters were so far from perfect. That is something I love to read, characters who make mistakes, who struggle with self-confidence, who find it hard to trust in others. That’s one of the things I look in a book and both were really good, but it was Ash who got my heart. I loved how silence was so important and said a lot without even saying it, how every gesture, every sight and every little movement they did had an important meaning and how well they knew it.

It was very slow paced, but I didn’t really found it bothersome, it seem appropriate to the overall feeling of the book, a little bit depressive but it provide an emotion to the reader and that is always something that I appreciate.

I loved Ash and Pete’s relationship, the struggles they had, the mistakes and, most of all, how much love there was between them. Overall it was a great book. I’m really glad I’d read it.

 

RARE

 
Paramedic Pete Adams lived through the year from hell watching his lover, Ash, fall apart, and the precarious balance between work and home is becoming more strained. His heart is always home, with Ash, but the dark side to his job is weighing him down.


Tattoo artist Ash Fagin is recovering from a nervous breakdown triggered by revelations about his traumatic childhood. His battle with mental illness is far from over, but with Pete by his side, he’s feeling good again, so good he doesn’t notice something missing until it walks right into his living room.


Ash believes he’s had enough coincidence in his life, but when a voice from the past comes looking for him, it takes the devastating injuries of the one he loves most to convince him to let a ghost become the family he never knew he wanted.

Review

I’m completely in love with this characters. I loved the book. It was a great experience to read it. A thing that remain in the series, which is a particular reason to love it, is the presence of flaw characters. Ash and Pete are far from being perfect. They make mistakes, they hurt others but there’s always love in them, even in the toughest moment.

The plot was interesting. I wasn’t expecting the things they had to deal with. I sometimes forget the blurb of a book I’d decided I wanted to read for a while and that happened this time. It gave me the opportunity to read the book completely unaware of what to expect and I loved it. It is slow pace but interesting enough to keep my attention the whole time. It deals with a lot of angst, something I love. It was so easy to get in touch with Ash and Pete’s feelings. There is a lot of nice surprises in this book. The story is told from both points of view. I liked it that way because we had the opportunity to be inside two beautiful minds. It was fantastic.

There were very few things that I didn’t like about it and none of them was big enough to change my overall feeling about the book. I had a great time with it. I can’t wait to know what else is in the future for this lovely couple.

 



October 16 – Two Chicks Obsessed, October 18We Three Queens, Open Mind For A Different View, October 20Love Unchained Book Review, Book Corner Reviews, Mikku-chan, October 22The Secret Ko, Wicked Reads, October 24Mainely Stories, Kimmers’ Erotic Book Banter, MM Good Book Reviews, October 26Amy’s MM Romance Reviews, Bayou Book Junkie, My Fiction Nook, Lillian Francis, Xtreme Delusions, Jessie G Books, Book Review By Virginia Lee, Mirrigold, Jim’s Reading Room, My Book Filled Life

Garrett Leigh is an award-winning British writer and book designer, currently working for Dreamspinner Press, Loose Id, Riptide Publishing, and Fox Love Press.


Garrett’s debut novel, Slide, won Best Bisexual Debut at the 2014 Rainbow Book Awards, and her polyamorous novel, Misfits was a finalist in the 2016 LAMBDA awards.


When not writing, Garrett can generally be found procrastinating on Twitter, cooking up a storm, or sitting on her behind doing as little as possible, all the while shouting at her menagerie of children and animals and attempting to tame her unruly and wonderful FOX.


Garrett is also an award winning cover artist, taking the silver medal at the Benjamin Franklin Book Awards in 2016. She designs for various publishing houses and independent authors at blackjazzdesign.com, and co-owns the specialist stock sitemoonstockphotography.com with renowned LGBTQA+ photographer Dan Burgess.


Website: http://www.garrettleigh.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/garrettleighauthor/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Garrett_Leigh

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Release Blitz: : Orc Haven by Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Orc Haven

Author: Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Anna Tiferet Sikorska | tiferetdesign.com

Genre/s: Fantasy FF Romance

Heat Rating: 1 flame out of five (A romantic relationship between the couple but no intimate scenes or sexual situations are described in the book. The book fades-to-black before any love scene.)

Length: 73 000 words /225 pages

It is a standalone story.

Release Date: October 13, 2018

Goodreads Link

 

Buy Links

Amazon US

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Blurb

The great war is over. The Dark Queen has fallen, slain by a dwarven champion as the prophecies foretold.

Still struggling with her transition from farmer’s daughter to Hero of the Free Races, Irma barters her newfound fame for the power to change things for the betterment of all – including her former enemies.

With the Dark Queen’s death, her subjugated orcs either succumbed to madness or were slain in battle. Only few orcs remain, and Irma has sworn to protect them, to help them find their place among the Free Races. One of them is Vash, a breeding mother from the pits, searching for a new home among the ruins of her old world with a tiny horde of orc children in tow.

When they meet, they discover that despite their differences in size, upbringing and race, they share the same hopes for the future. And while the odds they face seem overwhelming, the feelings growing between them may be strong enough to overcome them all.

From Rainbow-Award-winning authors Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus comes a sweet, happy f/f romantasy that begins where other epic fantasy novels end, a stand-alone novel about courage, hope, and the importance of family.

 

Excerpt

Vash sniffed the pale blue berry. It didn’t smell of much, but that might have been due to the fact that her fingers smelled so much stronger, sour with sweat. Cautiously, she bit into it and nearly spit it out when its sharp taste exploded on her tongue, tangy enough to prick like needles. She had to force herself to keep her mouth closed and wait. It didn’t burn, so that was good. Her only way of telling whether it was poisonous was to trust her instincts, and so far, they had proven surprisingly accurate.

Like those roots she had found her maggots chewing on once. She had told them to keep away, but ‘no’, they just had to. A few hours later, they had been whimpering about their belly aches. They had been lucky nothing worse had happened. They could have died. Or they could have been back in the pits, where they would have been thrashed – first for disobeying and then for whining.

With a shudder, Vash forced that thought away. They were all lucky to have gotten out.

She swallowed the bit of berry and waited for that queasy feeling she got whenever she tried something inedible. Surprisingly few things out here were. The orcs‘ fabled constitution apparently also applied to being able to eat almost anything. Until their escape from the pits, she had never eaten anything but the slop cooked in their huge, grimy kettles. All the food delivered to them from outside went into those pots and was cooked until it didn’t taste of much at all. Even when their guardians had been set on slim rations, they had still received plenty. Vash were more important to the war effort than some stupid grunt that could easily be replaced. Vash were who made those replacements. They were the rarest kind of orc – those who could breed.

Her stomach grumbled angrily, but it was a pang of hunger, not nausea. Vash smiled. The berries were good and there were several bushes of them. A single one didn’t bear many fruits, but all together, they would feed the maggots tonight. And, if she managed to reign them in, they might even have some for tomorrow. She popped the other half into her mouth, and this time, she welcomed the taste. She started picking the bushes clean, gathering the berries into the makeshift bundle she had made of a tattered cloak.

Her own clothes were a ragged mix, the simple, coarse shift she had been wearing in the pits and whatever she had picked up since – a pair of sturdy leather pants that were a little too short, and a thick, padded tunic which she wore over the shift. Her lower arms and her feet were wrapped in rags both for warmth and protection. She’d even found a pair of fitting boots on a corpse a few days ago.

 

 

About the Authors

Beryll and Osiris Brackhaus are a couple currently living their happily ever after in the very heart of Germany, under the stern but loving surveillance of their cat.

Both of them are voracious but picky readers, they love telling stories and drinking tea, good food and the occasional violent movie. Together, they write novels of adventure and romance, hoping to share a little of their happiness with their readers.

An artist by heart, Beryll was writing stories even before she knew what letters were. As easily inspired as she is frustrated, her own work is never good enough (in her eyes). A perfectionist in the best and worst sense of the word at the same time and the driving creative force of the duo.

An entertainer and craftsman in his approach to writing, Osiris is the down-to-earth, practical part of our duo. Broadly interested in almost every subject and skill, with a sunny mood and caring personality, he strives to bring the human nature into focus of each of his stories.

 

Author Links

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Twitter: @brackhaus

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