Tag Archives: LGBTQ Romance

Red Sun (The Shifter Chronicles Book 14) by M.D. Grimm Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A cat shifter discovers a young wolf shifter roaming the streets of El Paso, TX, after spending his life believing he had a demon possessing him. Taking the wolf under his wing, he brings him to a sanctuary for shifters, developing a close relationship along the way as a shifter hunter is on their trail in author M.D. Grimm’s “Red Sun”, the fourteenth book in The Shifter Chronicles series. 

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The Synopsis

Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.

Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.

Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.

Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.

If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.

Raphael’s blood.

The Review

Going into this read, I was worried that I would be totally lost. In the fourteenth book in this series, I was sure that there would be too much history and too many character introductions in past books to be able to understand the foundations of this book. I am very happy to say that I was wrong. The author did such a perfect job of writing this book in a way that could allow it to be a stand-alone style narrative while also delving into the history and mythology of the Shifters and the Knights of the Dawn who are always after them. 

The atmosphere of tension that this war brought into Raphael and Ahmes’s story was entertaining, and the balance the author struck between that facet of the narrative and the more personal LGBTQ-driven romance narratives found on both sides of the story was truly inspiring. The way the author mirrored the coming out process that many LGBTQ people have to undergo and the confusion and even hostility both from family and from themselves with the evolution of Raphael’s story of coming to terms with his wolf spirit was emotional and drove me as a reader forward, eager to watch the emotional evolution of the character as well. 

The Verdict

Engaging, thoughtful, and heartfelt in its delivery, author M.D. Grimm’s “Red Sun” is the perfect next chapter in the Shifter Chronicles series and a must-read LGBTQ-driven fantasy read to start out 2022! With emotional storytelling, great new additions to the Shifter mythos, and memorable characters with a relatable mirrored character arc that readers will be living for, the story will resonate with so many while also delving into the history and culture this genre is so well known for, making this a brilliant story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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M.D. Grimm has a new MM paranormal book out, Shifter Chronicles book 14: Red Sun. And there’s a giveaway!

Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.

Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.

Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.

Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.

If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.

Raphael’s blood.

Amazon | Smashwords


Giveaway

M.D. is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

Red Sun Meme

When next he knew anything, he was naked, shivering in the chilly night air, and covered in blood. He whimpered and sat up, tears clogging his throat and the taste of blood ripe in his mouth. His stomach rebelled and he vomited.

He’d killed them.

He’d killed them.

Not only was he possessed by a beast but now he was a murderer.

God help me!

Disoriented, Raphael looked around. He didn’t know where he was. It was too dark for him to recognize any structures, and he was too weak to investigate further. Dizzy, he lay down and curled into the fetal position, the blood drying on his skin. Not for the first time, he wondered if he should end it all. But then he would be damned to hell. He was Catholic and that just wasn’t something he would do. There must be another solution.

“Can I go home now?” he whispered, shivering.

The angry growl made him cry.

“I hate you.”

A mournful howl echoed in his mind and he prevented himself from releasing it into the darkness by clenching his jaw.

It was dawn when Raphael woke, surprised he’d managed to sleep. He sat up and cringed at the gore covering him. He didn’t consider it too closely and ignored his small pool of vomit. He needed to get clothes and clean up without being noticed. He realized he was in a narrow alleyway, and from the smell emanating from the dumpster, he guessed the buildings were restaurants.

A soft sound caught his attention, and he blinked at the large cat staring at him. His eyes widened. That was one big housecat. And so beautiful! This one was hefty, but slinky with big ears and equally big green eyes. As the sun rose steadily, he could see the cat had silver, black-spotted fur.

“Wow,” he whispered.

The cat sat staring at him for a long, poignant moment before stepping closer.

“Hey kitty,” Raphael said. He lowered his hand cautiously and held it out for the cat to inspect.

Upon seeing it, he winced, once again reminded what the beast had done. Blood was caked on his arm and under his fingernails. The cat paused and stretched his neck forward, sniffing at his fingers. Then he jerked back as if punched and hissed, showing small pointy teeth.

Raphael flinched and huddled tighter into himself. “I won’t hurt you.” Tears choked his words. “Non sono un mostro. I swear to God I’m not a monster.”

Overcome, Raphael sobbed, face pressed against his knees. Not even a cat trusted him! Why was he being punished? What had he done to earn God’s wrath? Why was he cursed?

It was a long moment before soft fur touched his arm, accompanied by a deep purr like a well-tuned engine. He lifted his head and realized the cat was rubbing his head against his arm. Raphael sniffed, reached over and scratched the cat’s head. The cat arched into the touch, still purring.

“You’re a good kitty,” he said with a wobbly smile. “You’re a pretty kitty.”

The cat regarded him with those hypnotic eyes, whiskers twitching. Such intelligence in his gaze.

“I’m not bad, you know?” he said. “I can’t be all bad if you don’t hate me.”

The cat set his front paws on Raphael’s thigh and lifted himself up until their faces were level. Then the cat leaned forward and surprised Raphael by licking the tip of his nose with his rough tongue. Raphael jerked with a watery laugh.

“Whoa, what was that for?”

The purring continued as the cat climbed into Raphael lap and settled there, his body heat a wonderful thing. Raphael resituated himself, taking care of his genitals, before wrapping his arms around the cat, taking comfort from his warmth and gentleness.

As the sun rose higher and the day grew warmer, Raphael was surprised to realize the beast didn’t mind the cat in the least. Not a snarl or growl came from the monster inside him. It seemed to hate humans but the cat had apparently earned its approval. Whatever the reason, Raphael was grateful. He didn’t want to hurt this cat. He didn’t want to harm anyone else.

“I won’t hurt you,” he whispered in Italian into the cat’s fur. “I promise I won’t hurt you.”

It wasn’t long before his protesting stomach could no longer be ignored. Raphael set the cat aside and approached the dumpster, aware of his nakedness. He lifted the lid and breathed through his mouth. The rising heat of the day did the garbage no favors. He’d be lucky if he didn’t get horribly ill from whatever was in there.

“Meow!”

The sharp sound caused Raphael to jump along with his heart. He swung his head around to stare at the cat as it gazed at him with apparent disapproval. And why did the feline’s eyes appear to be glowing? Must’ve been the sunlight.

“What? I have to eat something. I can’t catch birds and mice like you can. If you’re hungry, go do that.”

The cat flicked his tail, sitting with an air of royalty.

Raphael picked through the garbage, distressed to find nothing remotely worth the risk to eat. Sighing, he lowered the dumpster lid and rubbed his stomach.

“This is your fault, beast,” he whispered. “Are you trying to kill us?”

The beast snarled.

Raphael scowled.

The cat bumped against his leg, distracting him. Blood transferred to the cat’s pristine fur, and Raphael loathed to see it.

“Stop that.” He stepped away. “You’re getting my grossness on you.”

Determined, the cat trotted over to him and continued to rub himself against his legs.

“Il gatto pazzo. That’s what you are.”

Noise near the mouth of the alley had Raphael scrambling behind the dumpster. The cat followed him. He squeezed the cat in his arms, his heart racing. He didn’t want to hurt anyone else.

Behave yourself! he told the beast silently.

It growled.


Author Bio

M.D. Grimm decided to become an author in the second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things, actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!).

After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?), she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier.

Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain (or else what’s the point?), finding their soul mate in the process.

Author Website: https://www.mdgrimmwrites.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001710645622

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4574220.M_D_Grimm

Author Liminal Fiction (LimFic.com): https://www.limfic.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/m-d-grimm/

Author Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/M.D.-Grimm/e/B00I0KZMY6/

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And now, here is an amazing post from the author…

Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Red Sun.” This is the latest entry in The Shifter Chronicles. I am overjoyed and relieved to finally release a new book in this series. It’s been a long time coming. 2021 was quite a successful and productive year for me. I succeeded in re-releasing all books previously published with a former publishing house after much tweaking and revising. Now I can work on all brand new projects! “Red Sun” is only the first and considering how much I love it, I have a good feeling about the rest. I also have to say that this is probably one of the sweetest stories I’ve written so far. So many scenes that give the warm fuzzies.

So how did I come up with the storyline for this book? Glad you asked. The seeds of it started decades ago when I was still a newb and unpublished. I had the outline for a werewolf series that never got off the ground, and it is unrecognizable to the finished story of today. In fact, I found that outline the other day and was amused at my ambitiousness so early in my writing career.

First, Raphael and Ahmes were very different. While Raphael was still an unusual wolf shifter, he was older and with a completely different past. Ahmes was the younger of the two and had a different name. He was a stray that Raphael saved from adolescent boys who thought it was entertaining to harass a poor cat. I honestly don’t remember where their story fell in the series or what the bigger plot was, but the dynamic between the two intrigued me and kept me interested. Despite that series fizzling before it started, the interest continued until I managed to work it into this series.

From what I can remember, the series was The Silver Moonlight Chronicles, and it revolved around the first five werewolves, who were cursed into monsters during the crusades (I think), and their romantic drama, as well as those of their descendants. It was the stepping stone I needed to create The Shifter Chronicles, so I will forever be grateful for it.

After I plucked the characters from one series to the other, I realized I needed to overhaul the narrative. After that it was a series of trial and error before I nailed down the story that was waiting to be told.

I think the only thing I have a twinge of dissatisfaction about is the title. While it fit with my first draft of the story, after finishing the final version, I realized the title didn’t gel as well for me. I had more Ancient Egyptian elements included in the first version, related to Ahmes and his heritage. And the idea of “red sun” was supposed to invoke the Eye of Ra and the sun and other Egyptian iconography. I certainly include bits and pieces in the published version as Ahmes tries to help Raphael cope with his nature. However, giving such things prominence didn’t work anymore after the story evolved. Red sun could also be seen as the opposite of moon, an element or icon often associated with wolf shifters/werewolves. And since Raphael is different from other wolf shifters… Though the title could also be a play on words (sun vs. son) and “red” is the color of blood, which is what Gregor is after. So the title still works but not the way I first envisioned. 

And try as I might, I couldn’t create a title that worked better. By then, my “working title” had become the only title. Sometimes it just works like that. I couldn’t put Moon in the title since that would link it too close to “Psychic Moon” and “Shifting Moon,” and the story has nothing to do with Derek and Brian. Sometimes you just have to work with what you have and allow the story to just be how it will be. It’s a small little nitpick that I’m sure no one will ultimately care about. As long as the story is good, who cares about the title?

That’s what I tell myself anyway….

The Shifter Chronicles 1-14 (plus short story sequels) are available for purchase at Amazon (also in print!) and Smashwords. I have a newsletter that I send out monthly with all the goodies you can expect in the future. That’s the best way to find out about my current and future projects. Also, you can check out the first three chapters of “Red Sun” on my blog if you’re curious and unsure if you want to commit!

For fans of The Stones of Power series, book 8, “Sapphire: Home and Abroad” is due out in June 2022. Keep your eyes peeled for that! I’m also working diligently on the third book in Saga of the Bold People, “Resistance.”

I am booked (pun intended) solid this year, working on the next shifter book, the next stones book, a couple single titles, and the next On Wings Saga book. Wish me luck!

More information on my catalog can be found at my website.

I hope you stay safe and healthy, and may dragons guard your dreams,

M.D. Grimm

Opposed Desires (Rehoboth Book 2) by Katherine McIntyre Review 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

When a woman known for her bravado and sexual casualness is confronted with a shock that brings down her defenses, the bar owner and woman that has made it a point to avoid her finds herself drawn to this new side of the woman during one fateful summer in author Katherine McIntyre’s “Opposed Desires”, the second book in the Rehoboth series. 

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The Synopsis 

Closet Romantic falling for the Hookup Queen? Never gonna happen… until one memorable vacation changes it all.

When it comes to women, Aubrey Moore believes in no-strings-attached hookups and keeping things simple. On her beach trip, her plan is clear—hit the bars and find single hotties. What she doesn’t bargain on is the phone call from her sister. Distraught, Aubrey would like to have a breakdown in private, but the one woman who’s never fallen for her slick lines takes her by surprise and blurs her simple rules.

The last thing owner of the Renegades bar, Selina Beckett, expects to see on vacation is Aubrey Moore in the middle of a personal crisis. Every time they meet, they clash—whether Aubrey was picking up women at Selina’s bar or flirting to try and get her attention. Selina’s not interested in flings, cheaters, or womanizers, so she’s made a point to avoid Aubrey at all costs. But this raw, real side of Aubrey convinces her to bend those rules, just a little.

The more Selina gets to know Aubrey beyond the bravado, the more she begins to fall. But each day closer to the end of their vacation marks a return to reality—one where this entanglement between them won’t survive.

The Review

This was a gripping and heated LGBTQ-driven romance! The author shows the perfect way to balance emotional storytelling with passionate and driven relationships between two protagonists that readers can relate to and root for. The exploration of two women who only know one another’s surface-level personas and grow close after those personas are shed was such an amazing storytelling tactic, as it explores what happens when what begins as an antagonistic relationship can quickly develop into a whirlwind romance overnight. Yet it was the way the author showed how much work and baggage this kind of relationship takes to work through that made the payoff of this relationship so enjoyable.

The author’s pacing of the narrative was what really sold this story to me. The set-up between these protagonists obviously set up this feud of sorts between two very different women, and yet the pacing allowed readers to see how the layers surrounding their feud were shed and the mystery behind both of their circumstances and mindsets on relationships as a whole came to be, allowing them to find a bond and connection neither thought possible.

The Verdict

Emotional, heartfelt, and sizzling, author Katherine McIntyre’s “Opposed Desires” is a must-read romance. The book is perfect for readers missing those steamy summer romances during these cold winter months, and fans of LGBTQ narratives that give purpose and the perfect amount of romance into the story will absolutely fall in love with this story. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Opposed Desires - Katherine McIntyre

Katherine McIntyre has a new FF contemporary romance out: Opposed Desires. And there’s a giveaway!

Closet Romantic falling for the Hookup Queen? Never gonna happen… until one memorable vacation changes it all.

When it comes to women, Aubrey Moore believes in no-strings-attached hookups and keeping things simple. On her beach trip, her plan is clear—hit the bars and find single hotties. What she doesn’t bargain on is the phone call from her sister. Distraught, Aubrey would like to have a breakdown in private, but the one woman who’s never fallen for her slick lines takes her by surprise and blurs her simple rules.

The last thing owner of the Renegades bar, Selina Beckett, expects to see on vacation is Aubrey Moore in the middle of a personal crisis. Every time they meet, they clash—whether Aubrey was picking up women at Selina’s bar or flirting to try and get her attention. Selina’s not interested in flings, cheaters, or womanizers, so she’s made a point to avoid Aubrey at all costs. But this raw, real side of Aubrey convinces her to bend those rules, just a little.

The more Selina gets to know Aubrey beyond the bravado, the more she begins to fall. But each day closer to the end of their vacation marks a return to reality—one where this entanglement between them won’t survive.

Publisher | Amazon | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

Kathleen is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47215/?


Excerpt

Opposed Desires Meme

They reached the edge of the boardwalk, the sand and the sea stretching before them in a pale strip that clashed with the inky darkness of the waters. Something loosened in Selina’s chest at the sight. The ocean always calmed her, especially at night when most of the daytime rabble had retreated. She was used to being surrounded by people, but sometimes she preferred the solitude.

“I’m sorry for dragging you away from your friends,” Aubrey said, loosening her ponytail to run her fingers through her hair. The moonlight highlighted her deep brown strands, and the way they fell down to her shoulders made her seem a little softer than the sharp, pointed woman Selina’d come to know. She found this side of Aubrey far more alluring.

“I could’ve done this by myself,” Aubrey admitted. “I just lost my mind a little bit back there.”

“I wouldn’t have left if I didn’t want to.” Selina shrugged. “Bars aren’t really my scene.”

“Said the bar owner.” Aubrey gave her the side-eye. “Why even own one then?”

Selina swung her arms by her side, staring at the half moon overhead. It glowed with pearlescent promise, a steadiness she’d always longed for. “Spend your whole life traveling from one town to the next and you get desperate to set down roots. I wanted to create a safe space for folks like me, and I needed to stay in one place. Renegades ensured that.”

Aubrey shook her head, a throaty laugh escaping her throat. “I’ve known you for four years now, and I’m pretty sure that’s the most you’ve ever shared about yourself.”

“Well, we’re having a truce tonight,” Selina said. “Tomorrow I can go back to loathing you, and we can return to the usual witty repartee.”

Aubrey pointed at herself. “Me? Witty? Glad you think so, doll. I don’t keep track of half of the things that leave my mouth.”

“Good to know,” Selina murmured, a smile nudging her lips. The earnest note in Aubrey’s voice had her warming up to the woman far faster than she had in years. The lack of an agenda helped too. Selina slipped off her sandals to hold them in her hand, walking barefoot on the sandy shore. “Won’t the girls be wondering where you went?”

Aubrey shrugged. “They’ll assume I took someone home. It’s my MO when I pull the vanishing act.”

“That sounds pretty lonesome.” The words slipped out before she could help herself. Selina licked her lips, not knowing what to say. The salt air wove past her, caressing her senses.

“Different bed every night? How could that be lonely?” Aubrey joked, yet her voice scraped over the words like a tire crunching uneven rocks. She cast Selina a sideways glance. “Maybe a little,” she admitted, her dark eyes somber in the surrounding dark. The slight gleam from the moonlight only enhanced that sharp, vibrant beauty. This version of the woman, framed by moonlight and unguarded with her hair down, struck Selina as far more gorgeous than the sweet-talker she regularly saw at the bar.

Aubrey bent down to slide off her sneakers, and Selina couldn’t help but follow the motion. Those long legs were on full display, all corded muscle and defined calves, and the red shorts she wore showcased a gorgeous sculpted ass. Selina never argued that the woman was hot—Aubrey Moore undeniably, unequivocally raised her temperature, but she was also the exact sort of person Selina needed to avoid.

She wanted someone to settle down with. Someone who wouldn’t get bored, or cheat, or ditch her when the routine got too monotonous. Been there, done that. She’d learned her lessons well and committed them to heart.


Author Bio

Katherine McIntyre

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—and there’s an equally high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women.

Author Website: http://www.katherine-mcintyre.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/kmcintyreauthor

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pixierants

Author Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorkmcintyre

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473654.Katherine_McIntyre

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katherine-McIntyre/e/B00J8U4VNU

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The Ex’s Boyfriend by Hurri Cosmo Blog Tour Spotlight

Hello everyone! I’m so honored to be working on this next blog tour, for author Hurri Cosmo’s “The Ex’s Boyfriend”. I had the pleasure of working on the author’s last book, The Superior Jewel, and I have always been so honored and proud to work with and connect with authors and writers in the (or who celebrates the) LGBTQ+ community. I hope everyone will check out this amazing excerpt, and the chance to enter this giveaway as well.

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The Ex's Boyfriend - Hurri Cosmo

Hurri Cosmo has a new MM paranormal ghost romance out: The Ex’s Boyfriend. And there’s a giveaway!

Mark has always been a Dominant. The Top in every relationship. Just ask Leon, his very ex-boyfriend, because that’s what he told Mark he was.

Okay, Mark’s only had the one relationship so the ‘always’ was a reach, but it didn’t matter. It was more than over with now, and Leon was long gone. That is until Leon felt it necessary to show off his new boyfriend, a gorgeous mountain called Rogan, by evidently telling him that Mark was stalking, bullying, badgering, harassing and get this, abusing him.

“He’ll kill you, Mark, because he loves me and wants to protect me.”

From whom? Skinny little Mark? What a joke. Because all Mark has ever done was exactly what Leon told him to do and that now included staying as far away from Leon as he could get. But how can he do that when Leon is hell-bent on proving all the lies he’s told Rogan about Mark were true, and by any means possible except the actual truth? Thankfully, it seems Rogan’s not quite as clueless about Leon’s wild imagination as Mark has always been. In fact, the big, beautiful man has come to Mark’s rescue a couple of times and has made it clear, Leon and he are not a thing. At least, not anymore.

Which is good since Mark is going to need Rogan’s help. Mainly because something else is out to get Mark. Something not Leon.

This something isn’t even human…

Amazon | Smashwords


Giveaway

Hurri is giving away an Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47210/?


Excerpt

The Ex's Boyfriend meme

They took the elevator to the sixth floor and headed cautiously down a deserted hall. Okay, maybe it was only Mark who walked warily. Rogan marched slightly ahead of him and seemed to barge down the hall with his chest puffed out like some storybook bodyguard protecting the prince. However, no apparitions flew out at them this time, no lights exploded trying to kill them. When they got to Mark’s apartment, Rogan snatched the set of keys Mark dug out of his pocket and opened the door of 612 and attempted to turn on the light.

“It doesn’t work,” Mark remarked. “It never has.”

As if that might have been important in the whole scheme of things, Rogan turned to him. “Really? Why?”

“I have no idea. They have never been able to fix it, either.”

Rogan grumbled a string of profanities against landlords as he pulled out his phone. “Hey Raptor. Flashlight.” The phone shot out a bright beam and Rogan shined it into the apartment. “Where is a switch that does work?”

“Right here.” Mark glanced around the apartment before he tiptoed over to the switch in the kitchen and turned it on. The apartment lit up enough to see that everything was normal―so to speak. The destroyed TV was right where it had been when they left, debris still everywhere. Not the chaos Mark had walked into with Leon, but shivers of that time chased through him as well. “What I don’t get is why you don’t even have a scratch on you.”

“That is a mystery,” Rogan murmured. “What’s even more an unknown is why you were basically sliced in the first place. Cut, I would understand. But sliced?” He walked over to the large, jagged piece laying against the wall, the piece that had been laced with blood but no longer appeared to be and picked it up. “This should never have been sharp enough to do that.” He brought it over for Mark to see.

“Fuck,” Mark whispered as he gazed at the piece of plastic. “It’s… like a knife.” And it was. The six-inch, razor-edged side appeared paper thin, to the point of it being see-through. As if someone had purposely honed it down to that sharpness. “But… didn’t it have blood on it?”

Rogan narrowed his eyes and glared back at the plastic as if it had just lied to him. “You’re right. It did. Exactly my point.”

“Which is?”

Rogan glanced briefly at Mark. “This isn’t right. I mean, how does something like this even happen?” Rogan’s lips pursed together.

“So, what are you saying?”

“I’m not sure.” Rogan gazed down at Mark. “And I don’t like not knowing. I will find some answers. That I promise.” He sighed. “Now what do we need to take with us so we can get out of here?”

Mark packed a backpack while Rogan kept watch. Mark would have thought it laughable if he wasn’t so panicked. It was one thing to be bullied by Leon. Quite another by a ghost.

“The extra apartment key is in the kitchen drawer,” Mark told Rogan as he threw the backpack over his shoulder.

Rogan immediately reached over and grabbed the backpack. “Go get it. I got this.”

Heat climbing Mark’s face he walked quickly to the drawer. “I can carry it. I’m not a princess.”

Rogan smirked but remained silent as he adjusted the backpack and held out a hand to accept the key. “Thanks,” he said, winking at Mark when he dropped the key in his hand.

“I don’t know what you plan on doing but have at it.”

Rogan grimaced as if he were guilty of something and shook his head.

When they arrived at Mark’s dad’s house, Rogan insisted on walking Mark in. “I didn’t keep you safe like I promised. He deserves an explanation.”

“Are you kidding me? I’m not some fragile teenager on a date. Besides, I can take care of myself.”

“I know that. But security is my job, and I should have…”

“Should have what?”

“Known.” He knocked on the door.

“Known? How? Why?”

But Rogan remained silent. Except it was clear he was battling something in his head.

“Whatever,” Mark mumbled. “Just… I can take care of myself.” Mark went to knock as well but the door flew open in front of him, Mark’s dad standing on the other side.

“What the fuck is going on out here?” Rob snarled, startling both Mark and Rogan.

“Sir!” Rogan nearly shouted back, gaining the older man’s attention. Then he lowered his voice probably realizing how loud he was being. “Mr. Corda. Sorry to wake you…”

“What the hell happened to you?” Rob grabbed Mark and pulled him into the house. “Why the bandages?” He turned his attention back to Rogan. “Why is my son covered in bandages?”

Mark took immediate offence. “Dad, I’m standing right here! Ask me!”

“Um… sir…” Rogan interrupted. “it’s a long story.”


Author Bio

I am Hurri Cosmo and I live in Minnesota where I hold tight to the idea that here, where it’s cold a good part of the year, I won’t age as fast. Yep, I avoid the truth as much as I avoid mirrors. But one of the reasons I love writing is reality doesn’t always offer up a “happily ever after” and being able to take control of that is a powerful lure.

Being a happy ending junkie, writing just makes them easier to find. Oh, I don’t mind “real life” and I do try to at least keep it in mind when I write my stories, but I truly love creating a wonderful couple, knowing they will fall in love and have their HEA. Every – single – time. And, of course, that is exactly the reason I love reading this genre, too.

Give me a glass of red wine, some dark chocolate, and my computer, whether I am reading or writing, and I will entertain myself for hours. The fact I actually get paid to do it is Snickers bars on the frosting on the cake.

Author Website: https://www.hurricosmo.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/hurri.cosmo

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/HurriCosmo

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6466687.Hurri_Cosmo

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Hurri-Cosmo

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Exclusive Excerpt

Two nights later Anna, Rogan and Mark were standing at the back warehouse of Streeter Manufacturing. Rogan had a couple of his people help haul the boxes to the entrance but told them they were not needed for anything else. Mark understood the reason but didn’t necessarily agree with it. He was thinking the more humans in this place, the better. Rogan had made it clear he had no idea how this night would go. 

“Why night, Rogan? Why darkness?”

Rogan only rolled his eyes at him.

Shit.

Anna had brought all kinds of things with her. She was the first to enter the space burning some foul-smelling thing. ‘Smudging’ is what Rogan whispered to him.

“What’s it supposed to do?”

“Clean the space.”

“Of what?”

“Bad energy.”

“I thought you wanted the bad energy to come, not run and hide.”

“Yes…” Rogan shook his head. “It’s complicated.”

“Hmmm.”

They set up the equipment, seven each of the Molecular Polarization Arrays and Variance Sequencers, after Anna finished her chants, of which, the words and tone of voice oddly sent shivers through Mark. He never saw the stone that she banged on the cement either, Rogan explaining that that was what it was, but the vibrations of each tap seemed to shake his very bones. Finally done, the two of them picked a spot to wait for the action to start, Anna decided to venture to the other side of the warehouse. 

“Are you okay with her being all the way over there?”

Rogan huffed. “She does what she does. I don’t question her. I’m grateful she once again listened to me that this damn shadow was back.”

“Oh.” 

“It’s not like that,” Rogan whispered. “She knows things and sees things that I just don’t. I have to trust her judgment of what she feels she has to do in a space and where she thinks she needs to be. Just as she implicitly trusts me and my equipment to do what we do.”

“How long will we have to wait?”

“Honestly, I expected to be interfered with as we set up the equipment. The last few times I have entered this space the shadow has attempted to stop me.”

“So, you don’t know?”

“I do not.”

“Okay. So, we wait.”

And wait they did.

And waited.

“There’s no sign of the shadow,” Rogan whispered after they had sat silently for what seemed to Mark hours. 

“Is that a problem?” Mark whispered back. He had been crouched down ready to spring to action, but his legs and feet were completely asleep now. He needed to move. He squirmed to scratch an itch he could not find.

“Might be.” Rogan glanced at him, his eyes narrowing. “My equipment needs to have close proximity with the energy, or it can’t even read it much less capture it.”

“That’s unfortunate.” Mark squirmed some more trying to allow blood to flow back into his lower extremities but then the pins and needles began in earnest. Oh hell. He wouldn’t be able to stand now anyway. 

“Are you alright?”

“No. I have to go to the bathroom.”

“Are you serious?”

“Yeah. Bad.” It was true. The moment he thought it, he couldn’t think anything else.

“I really don’t want you out of my sight.”

Mark’s heart stuttered. “I don’t want to be out of your sight.” Mark wiggled some more. “But I got a go.” 

Rogan sighed. “I could go with I suppose. Not much going on here anyway. I’ll radio Anna.” Rogan had insisted on the walkie talkies if Anna wanted to be separated. She had complied as long as the volumes were low, and it didn’t interfere with her aura. “I’m walking with Mark to the bathroom,” he announced softly into the radio.

“You’re what?” came the instant reply.

“Mark has to go to the bathroom. I don’t want him going alone. We’ll be right back.”

“Fine but be careful.”

“Don’t worry. We will.”

They left the warehouse and Mark led the way to the bathroom nearest the back warehouse area which happened to be the same one that he had accused Leon being in. Maybe he should have gone to the one in the other warehouse. Too late now. Didn’t matter. He would be fast. Mark slipped into a stall while Rogan remained at the main door. He kept it open as he gazed out. “Do you think it will show?” Mark called from the stall.

“I have no idea.”

After he finished, Mark went to the sink to wash his hands. “Have you had this happen before where the ghost never shows?”

“Yes.” Rogan said as he continued to gaze beyond the bathroom. “Sometimes in big areas like this or like your apartment building ―”

“Or yours.”

“― or mine, an energy can move around. The repeats can also be random. I have had several incidents where I was called to what I understood to be a very active sighting and before I could do anything, the activity stopped. Completely.”

“Wow. Unpredictable.”

“Very. That was going to be my next focus. Some sort of way to detect the paranormal that isn’t active. Find even dormant paranormal energy. I would be able to rid a place of the ghosts prior to there being any problems with them.”

“Sort of a housewarming service?”

“Hey. Yeah.” Rogan chuckled as he turned to Mark. He lowered his voice to mimic a radio announcer. “Hire Ghost Securities to clear your new home of any and all paranormal energy.”

“Um…we’ll have to work on that catchy phrase though,” giggled Mark as he wiped his hands.

Rogan laughed but then jerked back around with an in-take of breath to look out the door again. “What was that?” he breathed.

What’s wrong?” Mark squeaked as he jumped back from the sink farther away from the door.

“I don’t know. Stay here for a moment,” Rogan said and left the bathroom, the door swinging shut.

“Oh God, don’t leave me,” Mark whispered, his heart beating in his throat. He backed up until he was up against the far wall of the small bathroom. Why why why had he agreed to come? Fuck. He slid down the wall as he waited for Rogan to return and put his head in his hands. The stupid endorphins he had been floating on for days now were totally gone and who in their right mind ever wanted to face a fucking ghost. Or a shadow. Demon. Fuck. Clearly Rogan did! 

Marky,” came a voice from in front of him. It was more a hoarse whisper, maybe a grumble. One thing for certain, it wasn’t Rogan’s voice. Fuck. He didn’t look up right away. He honestly did not want to see what the thing that wasn’t Rogan actually was. 

But he knew. 

Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

Two sisters seeking to shed the restrictions their father and society has placed upon them look to not only discover their identities, but their role in the midst of the Great War in author Suzanne Feldman’s “Sisters of the Great War”.

The Synopsis

Two sisters. The Great War looming. A chance to shape their future.

Sisters Ruth and Elise Duncan could never have anticipated volunteering for the war effort. But in 1914, the two women decide to make the harrowing journey from Baltimore to Ypres, Belgium in order to escape the suffocating restrictions placed on them by their father and carve a path for their own future.

Smart and practical Ruth is training as a nurse but dreams of becoming a doctor. In a time when women are restricted to assisting men in the field, she knows it will take great determination to prove herself, and sets out to find the one person who always believed in her: a handsome army doctor from England. For quiet Elise, joining the all female Ambulance Corps means a chance to explore her identity, and come to terms with the growing attraction she feels towards women. Especially the charming young ambulance driver who has captured her heart.

In the twilight of the Old World and the dawn of the new, both young women come of age in the face bombs, bullets and the deadly futility of trench warfare. Together they must challenge the rules society has placed on them in order to save lives: both the soldiers and the people they love.

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The Review

This was so beautifully crafted and vividly descriptive that readers will feel instantly transported into the narrative. The stark contrast between the restrictive household the protagonists started out into the visceral hellscape of the front lines of WWI and the interlaced story of deeply personal growth with strong themes throughout really made this story shine brightly. The horrors of war the sisters endured showed a much different aspect of the Great War than most projects tackle, highlighting the physical and mental effects the battles had on nurses and physicians in the field. 

The psychology and personal development of both Ruth and Elise were so engaging and brilliantly written. The themes of feminist struggles and the deep hardship of the LGBTQ community who had to remain hidden in the face of overwhelming battles like those faced in WWI really highlighted the intimate relationships they both formed with friends and loves alike, and their bond with one another as well. 

The Verdict

A gripping, thought-provoking, and entertaining women’s fiction and historical fiction read, author Suzanne Feldman’s “Sisters of the Great War” is a must-read this fall. The growth and perseverance the sisters held onto in the face of great adversity, and the way their historical storyline and struggles can resonate with so many readers today made this a thoroughly enjoyable read and is not to be missed. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Suzanne Feldman, a recipient of the Missouri Review Editors’ Prize and a finalist for the Bakeless Prize in fiction, holds an MA in fiction from Johns Hopkins University and a BFA in art from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her short fiction has appeared in Narrative, The Missouri Review, Gargoyle, and other literary journals. She lives in Frederick, Maryland.

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Twitter: @suzanne21702

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Q&A with Suzanne Feldman

Q: Your books have won quite a few awards. Do you ever feel pressure when you write a new book to make it an award winning book?

A: I do love awards and who doesn’t? (I’m striving for a Pulitzer!) But awards are sort of a wonderful perk for what I already love doing, which is making something big from a little spark of an idea. I think it’s a stretch to think to yourself, ‘I’m going to write something for THIS award.’ because what if the book doesn’t win anything? I’m much happier just writing and editing until I think it’s ready to go out into the world–then we’ll see how it does.

Q: What inspired this book?

A: Sisters of the Great War was a four-year project that started one morning as I walked into my classroom at some pre-dawn hour. I’d been thinking about my next project after ‘Absalom’s Daughters’ and I knew I wanted to write a war story–but there were already so many books about WW2. So I thought, what about WW1? Could I write something epic yet intimate about that period? I wrote on a post-it: ‘WW1; epic yet intimate,’ and put it in my pocket. After school that day, I found the post-it and by some miracle, I still knew what I’d meant.  

I started doing research and realized pretty quickly that the reason WW1 literature peaked with All Quiet on the Western Front was because it was a trench war, and over the space of four years, the trenches barely moved so there were very few ‘victories.’ The war itself was awful beyond description. Troops went out and were mowed down by new weapons, like the machine gun, tanks, and poisonous gas. It’s hard to write a glorious book about a barbaric war that had no real point, so I decided to explore the lives of the forgotten women–the nurses and ambulance drivers who were in the thick of the action, but not really mentioned in the movies and books about the period. 

Q: Where is your favorite place to write?

A: I have a room where I write, my ‘office.’ I have all my favorite art, my most-loved books, and a bed for my dog. I love being able to close the door and just get into the groove of writing, but I have been known to write in coffee shops and libraries. When I was teaching, when I would get an idea, I would write on a post-it and put it in my pocket, so, yes, technically I have written at work as well.

Q: Do you have a writing routine?

A: My writing routine involves getting really wired on coffee in the morning and then taking a long walk with my dog, sometimes by the river and sometimes in the mountains. I get my ideas for the day in order, and the dog gets tired. Then I spend about four hours working on writing projects–sometimes novels, sometimes short stories, and drinking a lot more coffee. By then the dog has woken up, and we go out for another walk. I like to treat writing as a job. It’s not too exciting, but it works for me.

Q: Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing?

A: I’m a pantser and proud of it! I love not really knowing what’s going to happen, and I love the discovery of plot points and personalities that might not show up in an outline. My favorite part is when a character does something on the page that I never thought of, and I get to go with that. What’s funny is that as a teacher (before I retired) I needed a plan for everything!

Q: What is a fun fact about you?

A: I was a high school art teacher for almost 30 years, and I am also a visual artist. I do a lot of abstract painting, which you can see on my Instagram account, Suzanne Feldman Author. I’ve taught every art class you can imagine, from darkroom photography to ceramics. I had a wonderful time teaching, and I loved nearly all of my students.

Here is an Exclusive Excerpt from “Sisters of the Great War”

1

Baltimore, Maryland

August 1914

Ruth Duncan fanned herself with the newspaper in the summer heat as Grandpa Gerald put up a British flag outside the house. If he’d had a uniform—of any kind—he would have worn it. People on the sidewalk paused and pointed, but Grandpa, still a proper English gent even after almost twenty years in the U.S., smoothed his white beard and straightened his waistcoat, ignoring the onlookers.

“That’s done,” he said.

Ruth’s own interest in the war was limited to what she read in the paper from across the dining table. Grandpa would snap the paper open before he ate breakfast. She could see the headlines and the back side of the last page, but not much more. Grandpa would grunt his appreciation of whatever was in-side, snort at what displeased him, and sometimes laugh. On the 12th of August, the headline in the Baltimore Sun read; France And Great Britain Declare War On Austria-Hungary, and Grandpa wasn’t laughing.

Cook brought in the morning mail and put it on the table next to Grandpa. She was a round, grey-haired woman who left a puff of flour behind her wherever she went.

“Letter from England, sir,” Cook said, leaving the envelope and a dusting of flour on the dark mahogany. She smiled at Ruth and left for the kitchen.

Grandpa tore the letter open.

Ruth waited while he read. It was from Richard and Diane Doweling, his friends in London who still wrote to him after all these years. They’d sent their son, John, to Harvard in Massachusetts for his medical degree. Ruth had never met John Doweling, but she was jealous of him, his opportunities, his apparent successes. The Dowelings sent letters whenever John won some award or other. No doubt this was more of the same. Ruth drummed her fingers on the table and eyed the dining room clock. In ten minutes, she would need to catch the trolley that would take her up to the Loyola College of Nursing, where she would be taught more of the things she had already learned from her father. The nuns at Loyola were dedicated nurses, and they knew what they were doing. Some were out-standing teachers, but others were simply mired in the medicine of the last century. Ruth was frustrated and bored, but Father paid her tuition, and what Father wanted, Father got. 

Ruth tugged at her school uniform—a white apron over a long white dress, which would never see a spot of blood. “What do they say, Grandpa?”

He was frowning. “John is enlisting. They’ve rushed his graduation at Harvard so he can go home and join the Royal Army Medical Corps.”

“How can they rush graduation?” Ruth asked. “That seems silly. What if he misses a class in, say, diseases of the liver?”

Grandpa folded the letter and looked up. “I don’t think he’ll be treating diseases of the liver on the battlefield. Anyway, he’s coming to Baltimore before he ships out.”

“Here?” said Ruth in surprise. “But why?”

“For one thing,” said Grandpa, “I haven’t seen him since he was three years old. For another, you two have a common interest.”

“You mean medicine?” Ruth asked. “Oh, Grandpa. What could I possibly talk about with him? I’m not even a nurse yet, and he’s—he’s a doctor.” She spread her hands. “Should we discuss how to wrap a bandage?”

“As long as you discuss something.” He pushed the letter across the table to her and got up. “You’ll be showing him around town.”

“Me?” said Ruth. “Why me?”

“Because your sister—” Grandpa nodded at Elise, just clumping down the stairs in her nightgown and bathrobe “—has dirty fingernails.” He started up the stairs. “Good morning, my dear,” he said. “Do you know what time it is?” “Uh huh,” Elise mumbled as she slumped into her seat at the table.

As Grandpa continued up the stairs Ruth called after him. “But when is he coming?”

“His train arrives Saturday at noon,” Grandpa shouted back. “Find something nice to wear. You too, Elise.”

Elise rubbed her eyes. “What’s going on?”

Ruth pushed the letter at her and got up to go. “Read it,” she said. “You’ll see.”

Ruth made her way down Thirty-Third Street with her heavy bookbag slung over one shoulder, heading for the trolley stop, four blocks away, on Charles. Summer classes were almost over, and as usual, the August air in Baltimore was impenetrably hot and almost unbreathable. It irritated Ruth to think that she would arrive at Loyola sweaty under her arms, her hair frizzed around her nurse’s cap from the humidity. The nuns liked neatness, modest decorum. Not perspiring young women who wished they were somewhere else.

Elise, Ruth thought, as she waited for a break in the noisy traffic on Charles Street, could’ve driven her in the motor-car, but no, she’d slept late. Her younger sister could do pretty much anything, it seemed, except behave like a girl. Elise, who had been able to take apart Grandpa’s pocket watch and put it back together when she was six years old, was a use-ful mystery to both Father and Grandpa. She could fix the car—cheaper than the expensive mechanics. , For some rea-son, Elise wasn’t obliged to submit to the same expectations as Ruth—she could keep her nails short and dirty. Ruth wondered, as she had since she was a girl, if it was her younger sister’s looks. She was a mirror image of their mother, who had died in childbirth with Elise. Did that make her special in Father’s eyes?

An iceman drove a sweating horse past her. The horse raised its tail, grunted, and dropped a pile of manure, rank in the heat, right in front of her, as though to auger the rest of her day. The iceman twisted in the cart to tip his hat. “Sorry Sister!”

Ruth let her breath out through her teeth. Maybe the truth of the matter was that she was the ‘sorry sister.’ It was at this exact corner that her dreams of becoming a doctor, to follow in her father’s footsteps, had been shot down. When she was ten, and the governess said she’d done well on her writing and math, she was allowed to start going along on Father’s house calls and help in his office downstairs. Father had let her do simple things at first; mix plaster while he positioned a broken ankle, give medicine to children with the grippe, but she watched everything he did and listened carefully. By the time she was twelve, she could give him a diagnosis, and she remembered her first one vividly, identifying a man’s abdominal pain as appendicitis.

“You did a good job,” Father had said to her, as he’d reined old Bess around this very corner. “You’ll make an excellent nurse one day.”

Ruth remembered laughing because she’d thought he was joking. Her father’s praise was like gold. “A nurse?” she’d said. “One day I’ll be a doctor, just like you!”

“Yes, a nurse,” he’d said firmly, without a hint of a smile. It was the tone he used for patients who wouldn’t take their medicine.

“But I want to be a doctor.”

“I’m sorry,” he said. He hadn’t sounded sorry at all. “Girls don’t become doctors. They become nurses and wives. Tomorrow, if there’s time, we’ll visit a nursing college. When you’re eighteen, that’s where you’ll go.”

“But—”

He’d shaken his head sharply, cutting her off. “It isn’t done, and I don’t want to hear another word about it.”

A decade later, Ruth could still feel the shock in her heart. It had never occurred to her that she couldn’t be a doctor because she was a girl. And now, John Doweling was coming to town to cement her future as a doctor’s wife. That was what everyone had in mind. She knew it. Maybe John didn’t know yet, but he was the only one.

Ruth frowned and lifted her skirts with one hand, balancing the bookbag with the other, and stepped around the manure as the trolley came clanging up Charles.

Excerpted from Sisters of the Great War by Suzanne Feldman, Copyright © 2021 by Suzanne Feldman. Published by arrangement with Harlequin Books S.A.

Confined Desires (Rehoboth Pact #1) by Katherine McIntyre Blog Tour

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two women who have been best friends for years find themselves sharing a home during a required Quarantine during a pandemic, and in the process find their buried feelings for one another coming to the surface in author Katherine McIntyre’s “Confined Desires”, the first in the Rehoboth series.

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The Synopsis

Sky’s crush on her best friend has always been unrequited… until they’re stuck in quarantine together and sparks fly.

Sky’s high school bestie is moving back to the area and staying with her for a few weeks. Easy, right? Not when she’d held a torch for the woman since high school. The moment Mia walks through Sky’s door, those unrequited feelings return full-force. So, when a spreading virus keeps them confined in Sky’s apartment even longer, Sky is screwed.

Mia returns home after a bad breakup, but Sky is the only one who offers a safe place to land. However, the seven years they spent apart has her looking at her best friend through a different lens, attraction sparking with every inside joke, shared dinner, and cuddle on the couch.

That flare of desire fast turns physical. They can’t get enough of each other. Yet, whenever Mia tries for the “where is this going” talk, Sky dodges. Sky lost her sister in high school, and ever since, she’s become ace at keeping dates at a distance. Yet if she doesn’t manage to push past her own fears, she might lose her one shot at happiness with the woman she’s waited a lifetime for.

The Review

This was such a well-balanced and engaging read. The author brilliantly delivers a powerfully romantic story of two friends who reunite after years apart, only to be forced into quarantine together where feelings both had pushed down without the other’s knowledge begin to stir up. The author expertly brings the real-life feelings and complications from a romance such as this to life, from the fear of losing that best friend should the relationship fail, to the pain of the past threatening to loom over their relationship, and more.

What makes this novel stand out is not only the amazing relationship between these two women and its evolution throughout the narrative but the setting of the novel as well. While not the exact same virus, pitting this romance story against the backdrop of a pandemic is inspired at a time like this. The real-world pandemic has not only been stressful and painful for many around the world but has forced us all to reexamine our lives and the relationships we hold dear as well. This makes the romance even more profound and emotional in this story.

The Verdict

A romantic, emotionally investing and remarkable read, author Katherine McIntyre’s “Confined Desires” is a must-read novel. The author’s use of the two central protagonists for a majority of the novel’s plot was an inspired choice and really elevated the book’s setting as well. Combine this with the extreme emotions these two women share together and apart from one another throughout the narrative, and readers will be thoroughly invested in this book. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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Confined Desires - Katherine McIntyre

Katherine McIntyre has a new FF contemporary romance out: Confined Desires. And there’s a giveaway!

Sky’s crush on her best friend has always been unrequited… until they’re stuck in quarantine together and sparks fly.

Sky’s high school bestie is moving back to the area and staying with her for a few weeks. Easy, right? Not when she’d held a torch for the woman since high school. The moment Mia walks through Sky’s door, those unrequited feelings return full-force. So, when a spreading virus keeps them confined in Sky’s apartment even longer, Sky is screwed.

Mia returns home after a bad breakup, but Sky is the only one who offers a safe place to land. However, the seven years they spent apart has her looking at her best friend through a different lens, attraction sparking with every inside joke, shared dinner, and cuddle on the couch.

That flare of desire fast turns physical. They can’t get enough of each other. Yet, whenever Mia tries for the “where is this going” talk, Sky dodges. Sky lost her sister in high school, and ever since, she’s become ace at keeping dates at a distance. Yet if she doesn’t manage to push past her own fears, she might lose her one shot at happiness with the woman she’s waited a lifetime for.

Publisher | Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon CAN | iBooks | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Universal Buy Link | Goodreads


Giveaway

Katherine is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d47177/?


Excerpt

Confined Desires meme

Mia twined her arms around Sky and leaned her head against her shoulder. “See, this is why I missed you so damn much.”

Sky froze, unable to move. Part of her melted at this touch, while the other freaked out. The last thing Mia needed was her best friend dumping a lifelong crush on her lap. This close, she could feel the woman’s sleepy heat, and the sweet scent of peaches wafted off her. Sky’s mouth watered—the response instinctual. She forced her hand up to run her fingers through Mia’s silken strands. That was friendly, right?

“Missed you too, babe,” she murmured.

“So, wait, are you working tonight, or no?” Mia asked, pulling away to grab her mug.

“Uh, no,” Sky murmured, mind racing as she tried to come up with an excuse to leave.

Mia tapped the edge of her mug with her fingernail. “Then maybe we could take the day to play catch up?” she asked. When Sky didn’t respond, the words refusing to leave her tongue, Mia’s eyes widened. “I mean, as long as you didn’t have plans or anything. I know I kind of dropped this on you. Fuck, I don’t even know if you’re seeing anyone or who you hang out with anymore.”

“Pitifully single,” Sky responded. “My girlfriend and I split up last year, and I’ve been so busy with work that I haven’t been able to get out to the bars or clubs in Philly at all to jump back into the dating scene. Trust me, you haven’t missed much.”

“Bullshit,” Mia said, placing her mug of coffee down. “Get dressed. We’re heading out to Lucky’s, and I’m buying you breakfast.” Her blue eyes twinkled as she doled out the commands, and Sky’s heart thumped harder.

Sky scratched the nape of her neck. “Yes, ma’am.”

She headed to the bedroom, cursing her lack of an excuse. A large part of her was thrilled to be spending all of this time around Mia after so long. Yet the other part of her just wanted to solder metal sheets around her heart.

As if she’d stand a chance with Mia Brownstone living at her house for the next two weeks.

 


Author Bio

Katherine McIntyre

Snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes.

Katherine McIntyre is a feisty chick with a big attitude despite her short stature. She writes stories featuring snarky women, ragtag crews, and men with bad attitudes—and there’s an equally high chance for a passionate speech thrown into the mix. As an eternal geek and tomboy who’s always stepped to her own beat, she’s made it her mission to write stories that represent the broad spectrum of people out there, from different cultures and races to all varieties of men and women.

Author Website: http://www.katherine-mcintyre.com

Author Facebook (Author Page): http://www.facebook.com/kmcintyreauthor

Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pixierants

Author Instagram: http://www.instagram.com/authorkmcintyre

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6473654.Katherine_McIntyre

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Katherine-McIntyre/e/B00J8U4VNU

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The Superior Jewel by Hurri Cosmo Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Ryan runs into the man who rescued him from a violent altercation (and has been dominating his dreams) and must compete for his affections with his beautiful ex-girlfriend Cheyenne in author Hurri Cosmo’s “The Superior Jewel”. 

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The Synopsis

Ryan was shocked when he saw the man who had rescued him from a psychotic co-worker three months ago, a man Ryan had been having very sexy dreams about ever since, standing on the same yacht as he was. Learning the man’s name was Jansen Branwyth should have rung a few bells, but Ryan was never one to keep up with the rich and powerful.

Now this big, gorgeous man seemed to be in hot pursuit, relentlessly and expertly, backing the confused Ryan against a hard wall. Deliciously turned on by the man’s erotically suggestive flirting, Ryan finds himself now in competition with his former, incredibly beautiful girlfriend, vying for Jansen’s attention. As the heat ramps up, so does Ryan’s self-doubt, forcing Jansen into making it perfectly clear who he intends on taking with him off the boat, even if he must chase down, subdue and throw that certain someone over his shoulder to do it.

The Review

This was an incredibly engaging and intoxicating read for fans of the LGBTQ romance genre. A blend of heavy erotic MM scenes and a heartfelt story of a young man discovering and coming into his own sexuality and finding love in the process marks this as a must-read for the genre. 

The author does an amazing job of character development in this novel, crafting a romantic pairing that compliments one another. Ryan’s softer and shy nature and his awakening at the hands of the confident, rich playboy who finds his heart opening up to the young man make for some amazing storytelling, and the balance between the steamier scenes in the novel and the emotional character growth really allowed this narrative to shine.

The Verdict

A memorable, passionate and entertaining read, author Hurri Cosmo’s “The Superior Jewel” is a must-read romance novel. A great story for fans of the LGBTQ Romance/MM genre, this story starts off with a punch and never lets up, giving readers a steady supply of exciting character growth and relationships and romance worth investing in. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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The Superior Jewel - Hurri Cosmo

Hurri Cosmo has a new MM D/s romance out: The Superior Jewel.And there’s a giveaway!

Ryan was shocked when he saw the man who had rescued him from a psychotic co-worker three months ago, a man Ryan had been having very sexy dreams about ever since, standing on the same yacht as he was. Learning the man’s name was Jansen should have rang a few bells but Ryan was never one to keep up with the rich and powerful.

Now this big sexy man seemed to be in hot pursuit, relentlessly and expertly, backing the confused Ryan against a hard wall. Deliciously turned on by the man’s erotically suggestive flirting, Ryan finds himself now in competition with his former girlfriend, vying for Jansen’s attention.

As the heat ramps up, so does Ryan’s self-doubt, forcing Jansen into making it perfectly clear who he intends on taking with him off the boat, even if he has to chase down, subdue and throw that certain someone over his shoulder to do it.

Amazon | Smashwords


Giveaway

Hurri is giving away a $20 Amazon gift card with this tour:

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Excerpt

The Superior Jewel meme - Hurri Cosmo

“Come on, Cheyenne, please? This table is fine.” Ryan tried to whisper the words, incredibly embarrassed the waiter stood right behind him with an anxious frown, basically wringing his hands. He hadn’t had the time or the courage to search and find Jansen Branwyth. All he knew was Jansen did not grace any of the tables closest to this one and so this was the best table in the house as far as he was concerned.

“No! I want one closer to the windows.” She huffed, stomping her small foot and pointing farther into the large space.

“But, Cheyenne, you’ve made it clear you don’t even like Lake Superior. Why do you suddenly have to sit near a window?” Although Ryan would not have minded in the least. But as he glanced in the direction she’d been pointing, his heart began to race. Great. There he sat—at a table totally alone and watching them. Well, watching Cheyenne, which had to be the reason she wanted to sit over there.

And then again, maybe not. The man had actually been flirting with him earlier. Fucking bastard.

And now Cheyenne was making them a spectacle, a show. Damn it.

“I am sorry, ma’am”—the waiter fidgeted nervously—“but this is the table assigned to you and your guest. Please accept my sincere apologies if this table is not to your expectations.”

“No,” Ryan pleaded. “This table is fine. Thank you.” He turned again to Cheyenne. “Please, Cheyenne. Let’s just get through this night, okay?” He took the chair the waiter held for her and told her as best he could with his eyes to sit down.

She stood for a moment glaring at him, then walked to a chair on the other side of the table, most likely so she would face Jansen, and waited for Ryan to come around to seat her. Ryan let out a breath, simply grateful she gave in. Besides, better she face Jansen, because he sure as hell didn’t want to. His stomach was still doing little flips every time he thought about the man. He had a very real longing to talk with Jansen some more, to hear his voice, have his attention, and those strong emotions were extremely confusing and frightening. In the man’s presence, he could handle them. However, outside that direct influence he was more inclined to have a melt down.

He walked shakily over to the chair and pulled it out for Cheyenne. She deliberately and artfully sat, pulling on her too-tight dress and making a show of placing the napkin in her lap.

She glared up at Ryan with murder in her eyes. “Fine,” she said under her breath, “but you owe me.”

Oh dear God, he owed her? As if. Ryan tried to smile, failed, but made his way to the chair he’d originally held for her, sat. Glancing up at the waiter he asked, “Scotch and soda—easy on the soda—please?”

The waiter’s expression was warm and grateful. “Of course, sir.” Then he turned toward Cheyenne, the smile disappearing, returning to nervousness again. “And for the ma’am?”

Cheyenne shot the waiter a glare. “Quit hovering! Bring me a cosmo.”

Ryan touched the waiter’s arm when he turned back to Ryan. “Thank you.”

The waiter beamed. “Please, sir, call me James.” He bowed slightly and left.

“What now, Ryan? You flirting with the wait staff?” She snickered.

Ryan blushed hard yet again. Flirting? Maybe, but not with the wait staff. She had no clue how close to the truth she had come, but it still made him dizzy… and pissed. His drink could not get there soon enough. He had tossed back only that one—well one and a half—before he made his way down to the dining room doors to wait for Cheyenne. Of course, she wasn’t there on time, no big surprise. He’d finally found her upstairs on the other side of the boat, near the back bar.

“What are you doing?” he had asked her. “Why didn’t you meet me at the dining room doors? We’re going to be late.”

She had sniffed, obviously angry for some reason, but it was something she didn’t seem to think Ryan needed to know. And he sure as hell wasn’t going to argue that point. She pasted on her dazzling Cheyenne smile, put her arm through Ryan’s, and tugged him in the direction of the stairs.

“I was just chatting with Jansen. He is such a flirt. It’s a good thing you and I aren’t together any longer because you would have been livid. He asked me to accompany him to the dining room, but I told him I was going to sit with you. However, we will be getting together later for a drink and… well, whatever should follow, I guess.” She giggled. “He is just such a charming man.”

So, he was charming to her too? Flirting with her, as well? Asshole! He asked her to sit with him, and then he asked her on a date? Damn it. Why did it hurt so badly? This had been expected, which was the exact reason he had trained his mind and body not to feel anything. Instead, it felt like a fucking heart attack, a bag of rocks in his stomach, a thunderstorm in his head. Of course, he would pick the girl. Especially the amazing Jansen would pick the gorgeous girl.

I am nowhere near drunk enough for this night.

Cheyenne leaned over the table with an expression of pure disgust. “No kidding? Are you seriously flirting with that male waiter?”

He had been getting those vibes all along. She hated many things but “other than heterosexual” was something to be scorned. So were taxis but that was a totally different story. And even though the battle he waged by himself in the middle of his own mind whether or not he was “other than” would continue, he would no longer support her ridiculous ideals. “The truth is no, even though there would be nothing at all wrong with it. But I really do wish you would stop drooling all over Mr. Branwyth.” And by that he meant himself.

“Really, Ryan?” she murmured, having leaned back again, digging into her small pocket purse for her compact mirror. “Are you jealous? It’s so not like you.” She fussed with her hair, rubbing a finger across her lips. Why did women think primping at a dinner table was ever appropriate?

Suddenly two hands appeared on the table on either side of Ryan and a very hot presence loomed over his head. The heat of the tall body immediately permeated the fabric of his shirt and even before the man spoke, he knew who crowded into his personal space.

“Who is drooling all over me? This beautiful young lady… or this intriguing young man?” The last part Jansen said directly into Ryan’s ear when the man leaned over farther yet, his long hair enveloping them for a moment, making Ryan’s heart skip several beats and his finally cooled-off “demeanor” jump back to attention.

“Jansen!” Cheyenne probably would have clapped her hands if they had been free. She quickly threw her mirror back into her clutch. “How lovely to see you again so soon.”

Ryan was more than shocked and even embarrassed when Cheyenne all but batted her eyelashes at the man. Could she be more obvious? Of course, Cheyenne believed in beating the hell out of the bush as opposed to anywhere around it. Subtle as a November gale, she went full-out after everything she ever wanted. At one point, she had wanted Ryan. Now it was obvious she wanted Jansen.

It was becoming increasingly clear Ryan did as well.

What a fucking turn of events.


Author Bio

Hi, my name is Hurri Cosmo and I am a happy ending junkie. I always have been. You can be pretty rest assured everything I write will have one. I am not big on angst. I believe we get enough of that in real life so when I go to read something, to make the real world go away for awhile, I will most likely not chose something that will make me cry. So I write for those people who, at least occasionally, feel the same way. I’m okay with the fact I will probably never write anything “important” but I guess I will have to see where my imagination takes me. I would love it if you would come along.

Author Website: https://www.hurricosmo.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/hurri.cosmo

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/OfficialHurriCosmo/

Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/HurriCosmo

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6466687.Hurri_Cosmo

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/hurri-cosmo/

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The Stark Divide: Liminal Sky #1 by J. Scott Coatsworth Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

As Earth is on the verge of collapse, one of three ships makes the journey across the stars to find a new home as several generations look to become humanity’s future in author J. Scott Coatsworth’s “The Stark Divide”, the first in the Liminal Sky series. 

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The Synopsis

Some stories are epic.

The Earth is in a state of collapse, with wars breaking out over resources and an environment pushed to the edge by human greed.

Three living generation ships have been built with a combination of genetic mastery, artificial intelligence, technology, and raw materials harvested from the asteroid belt. This is the story of one of them—43 Ariadne, or Forever, as her inhabitants call her—a living world that carries the remaining hopes of humanity, and the three generations of scientists, engineers, and explorers working to colonize her.

From her humble beginnings as a seedling saved from disaster to the start of her journey across the void of space toward a new home for the human race, The Stark Divide tells the tales of the world, the people who made her, and the few who will become something altogether beyond human.

Humankind has just taken its first step toward the stars.

Book One of Liminal Sky

The Review

A truly engaging, emotional and heartfelt sci-fi epic that does a phenomenal job of setting up the saga the author has laid out before readers. The way the author is able to take a universally used concept of Earth on the verge of destruction and humanity’s last hope and blend this theme into a wholly original mythology and sci-fi goodness was a real work of art. 

The defining drive behind this novel was the amazing character development. These characters quickly became the heart of the story, showcasing the diversity and natural way the characters interacted with one another in this sci-fi epic story. The author’s use of LGBTQ+ characters felt natural and part of the fabric of this universe the author has created more than something forced, making these characters and their stories shine brighter than ever before. 

The Verdict

A truly one of a kind read filled with action, emotionally charged stories spanning multiple generations, and a wonderful cast of characters, this is a great sci-fi story that is not to be missed. The Stark Divide is a magnificent story filled with a unique mythology surrounding the survival of the human race, and the eloquent mixture of epic sci-fi with personal character growth and interactions make this a truly memorable read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Scott spends his time between the here and now and the what could be. Ushered into fantasy and sci-fi at the tender age of nine by his mother, he devoured her library of Asimovs, Clarkes, and McCaffreys. But as he grew up, he wondered where the gay people were in speculative fiction.

He decided it was time to create the kinds of stories he couldn’t find at Waldenbooks. If there weren’t queer characters in his favorite genres, he would write them himself.

His friends say Scott’s brain works a little differently–he sees relationships between things that others miss, and often gets more done in a day than most folks manage in a week. He transforms traditional sci-fi, fantasy, and contemporary worlds into something unexpected.

He also runs Queer Sci Fi and QueeRomance Ink with his husband, Mark, sites that bring LGBTIQA communities together to celebrate fiction that reflects queer life and love.

Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworth

Facebook Author Page: www.facebook.com/jscottcoatsworthauthor/

Author Website/Blog: www.jscottcoatsworth.com

Dreamspinner Page: www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/index.php?cPath=55_1189

QueeRomance Ink Author Page: www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/j-scott-coatsworth/

Goodreads Author Page: www.goodreads.com/author/show/8392709.J_Scott_Coatsworth

Amazon Author Page: www.amazon.com/J.-Scott-Coatsworth/e/B011AFO4OQ

Just Like That (Albin Academy #1) by Cole McCade Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young teacher returns to the school that tormented his youth, and is surprised by the bond he creates with his former teacher, who soon becomes something much more than colleagues in author Cole McCade’s “Just Like That”. 

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The Synopsis

Summer Hemlock never meant to come back to Omen, Massachusetts.

But with his mother in need of help, Summer has no choice but to return to his hometown, take up a teaching residency at the Albin Academy boarding school—and work directly under the man who made his teenage years miserable.

Professor Fox Iseya

Forbidding, aloof, commanding: psychology instructor Iseya is a cipher who’s always fascinated and intimidated shy, anxious Summer. But that fascination turns into something more when the older man challenges Summer to be brave. What starts as a daily game to reward Summer with a kiss for every obstacle overcome turns passionate, and a professional relationship turns quickly personal.

Yet Iseya’s walls of grief may be too high for someone like Summer to climb…until Summer’s infectious warmth shows Fox everything he’s been missing in life.

Now both men must be brave enough to trust each other, to take that leap.

To find the love they’ve always needed…

Just like that.

In Just Like That, critically acclaimed author Cole McCade introduces us to Albin Academy: a private boys’ school where some of the world’s richest families send their problem children to learn discipline and maturity, out of the public eye.

The Review

A powerful and emotional read, the author does a great job of building a complex story that focuses on character development above anything else. The bond between Summer and Professor Fox is engaging and real and draws the reader in immediately. 

The balance of the two characters and their personalities was unique to see unfold here, as was the way they balanced one another. From Summer’s submissive, quiet, and yet determined personality to Professor Fox’s strong, reserved, and more assured personality, these two drive home the romance and drama of the two character’s pasts, which compliments their growing bond as well. 

The Verdict

A moving, engaging, and emotional read that plunges the depths of the reader’s hearts, author Cole McCade’s novel “Just Like That” is a fantastic LGBTQ read that pushes the genre forward and creates memorable and relatable characters. If you haven’t yet be sure to grab your copies today! 

Rating: 10/10

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Buy Links

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1335146458 

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/just-like-that-cole-mccade/1135613577

Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/just-like-that/id1491922418 

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Cole_McCade_Just_Like_That?id=tsbEDwAAQBAJ 

Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/just-like-that-12 

About the Author

Cole McCade is a New Orleans-born Southern boy without the Southern accent, currently residing somewhere in Seattle. He spends his days as a suit-and-tie corporate consultant and business writer, and his nights writing contemporary romance and erotica that flirts with the edge of taboo—when he’s not being tackled by two hyperactive cats. 

He also writes genre-bending science fiction and fantasy tinged with a touch of horror and flavored by the influences of his multiethnic, multicultural, multilingual background as Xen. He wavers between calling himself bisexual, calling himself queer, and trying to figure out where “demi” fits into the whole mess—but no matter what word he uses he’s a staunch advocate of LGBTQIA and POC representation and visibility in genre fiction. And while he spends more time than is healthy hiding in his writing cave instead of hanging around social media, you can generally find him in these usual haunts: 

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Excerpt

“Extinguisher first, then sand,” the voice ordered. “Dr. Liu, if you insist on getting in the way, at least make yourself useful and remove anything else flammable from the vicinity of the blaze. Quickly, now. Keep your mouths covered.”

Summer’s entire body tingled, prickled, as if his skin had drawn too tight. That voice—that voice brought back too many memories. Afternoons in his psychology elective class, staring down at his textbook and doodling in his notebook and refusing to look up, to look at anyone, while that voice washed over him for an hour. Summer knew that voice almost better than the face attached to it, every inflection and cadence, the way it could command silence with a quiet word more effectively than any shout.

And how sometimes it seemed more expressive than the cold, withdrawn expression of the man he remembered, standing tall and stern in front of a class of boys who were all just a little bit afraid of him.

Summer had never been afraid, not really.

But he hadn’t had the courage to whisper to himself what he’d really felt, when he’d been a hopeless boy who’d done everything he could to be invisible.

Heart beating harder, he followed the sound of that voice to the open doorway of a smoke-filled room, the entire chemistry lab a haze of gray and black and crackling orange; from what he could tell a table was…on fire? Or at least the substance inside a blackened beaker was on fire, belching out a seemingly never-ending, impossible billow of smoke and flame.

Several smaller fires burned throughout the room; it looked as though sparks had jumped to catch on notebooks, papers, books. Several indistinct shapes alternately sprayed the conflagration with fire extinguishers and doused it with little hand buckets of sand from the emergency kit in the corner of the room, everyone working clumsily one-handed while they held wet paper towels over their noses and mouths with the other.

And standing tall over them all—several teachers and older students, it looked like—was the one man Summer had returned to Omen to see.

Professor Iseya.

He stood head and shoulders above the rest, his broad-shouldered, leanly angular frame as proud as a battle standard, elegant in a trim white button-down tucked into dark gray slacks, suspenders striping in neat black lines down his chest. Behind slim glasses, his pale, sharply angled gray eyes flicked swiftly over the room, set in a narrow, graceful face that had only weathered with age into an ivory mask of quiet, aloof beauty.

The sleek slick of his ink-black hair was pulled back from his face as always—but as always, he could never quite keep the soft strands inside their tie, and several wisped free to frame his face, lay against his long, smooth neck, pour down his shoulders and back. He held a damp paper towel over his mouth, neatly folded into a square, and spoke through it to direct the frazzled-looking group with consummate calm, taking complete control of the situation.

And complete control of Summer, as Iseya’s gaze abruptly snapped to him, locking on him from across the room. “Why have you not evacuated?” Iseya demanded coldly, his words precise, inflected with a softly cultured accent. “Please vacate the premises until we’ve contained the blaze.”

Summer dropped his eyes immediately—habit, staring down at his feet. “Oh, um—I came to help,” he mumbled through the collar of his shirt.

A pause, then, “You’re not a student. Who are you?”

That shouldn’t sting.

But then it had been seven years, he’d only been in two of Iseya’s classes…and he’d changed, since he’d left Omen.

At least, he hoped he had.

That was why he’d run away, after all. To shake off the boy he’d been; to find himself in a big city like Baltimore, and maybe, just maybe…

Learn not to be so afraid.

But he almost couldn’t bring himself to speak, while the silence demanded an answer. “I’m not a student anymore,” he corrected, almost under his breath. “It’s…it’s me. Summer. Summer Hemlock. Your new TA.” He made himself look up, even if he didn’t raise his head, peeking at Iseya through the wreathing of smoke that made the man look like some strange and ghostly figure, this ethereal spirit swirled in mist and darkness. “Hi, Professor Iseya. Hi.”

Copyright © 2020 by Cole McCade

Music From Another World by Robin Talley Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

Two young penpals discover a far deeper connection than either realized during a time of the fight for social change in author Robin Talley’s “Music From Another World.”

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The Synopsis

It’s summer 1977 and closeted lesbian Tammy Larson can’t be herself anywhere. Not at her strict Christian high school, not at her conservative Orange County church and certainly not at home, where her ultrareligious aunt relentlessly organizes antigay political campaigns. Tammy’s only outlet is writing secret letters in her diary to gay civil rights activist Harvey Milk…until she’s matched with a real-life pen pal who changes everything.

Sharon Hawkins bonds with Tammy over punk music and carefully shared secrets, and soon their letters become the one place she can be honest. The rest of her life in San Francisco is full of lies. The kind she tells for others—like helping her gay brother hide the truth from their mom—and the kind she tells herself. But as antigay fervor in America reaches a frightening new pitch, Sharon and Tammy must rely on their long-distance friendship to discover their deeply personal truths, what they’ll stand for…and who they’ll rise against.

A master of award-winning queer historical fiction, New York Times bestselling author Robin Talley once again brings to life with heart and vivid detail an emotionally captivating story about the lives of two teen girls living in an age when just being yourself was an incredible act of bravery.

The Review

This book is unique in that it speaks of the fight for equality for the LGBT community in the ’70s, yet can easily speak to the struggles facing that very same community today. The battle against hatred and violence not only from the outside world but the people who are supposed to love you most is felt strongly throughout this novel from both protagonists and those in their lives. 

Novels need to have an emotional component to a tale such as this, to keep the readers invested and to showcase the very real struggles facing the LGBT community, and the author does a fantastic job of creating a setting and characters that do just that. The conflicted feelings of identity, love, and friendship during this era that demonized anyone who didn’t fit into a specific box really drove the narrative forward, crafting a unique story that really speaks to the heart. 

The Verdict

An emotional evenly paced read with an impactful cast of characters, author Robin Talley’s “Music From Another World” is a stellar read that captures a gripping era of social change and the fight it took to get there. The brutal struggle of being surrounded by religious-based hatred towards an entire group and fighting to understand themselves, the protagonists bring readers on a whirlwind journey that many can get behind. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Robin Talley studied literature and communications at American University. She lives in Washington, DC, with her wife, but visits both Boston and New York regularly despite her moral opposition to Massachusetts winters and Times Square. Her first book was 2014’s Lies We Tell Ourselves. Visit her online at robintalley.com or on Twitter at @robin_talley.

Social Links:

Author website: https://robintalley.com/

Facebook: @robintalleywrites

Twitter: @robin_talley.

Instagram: @robin_talley.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6469490.Robin_Talley

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Music-Another-World-Robin-Talley/dp/1335146776

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/music-from-another-world-robin-talley/1131130958#/

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335146779

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Music-from-Another-World/Robin-Talley/9781335146779?id=7833509719461

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/music-from-another-world/id1458725405

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Robin_Talley_Music_from_Another_World?id=yEy7DwAAQBAJ

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Excerpt

Excerpted from Music from Another World by Robin Talley. © 2020 by Robin Talley, used with permission by Inkyard Press.

Tuesday, June 7, 1977

Dear Harvey,

I hope it’s okay for me to call you Harvey. In school, when they taught us to write letters, they said adults should always be addressed as “Mr.” or “Mrs.,” but from what I’ve read in the newspaper, you don’t seem much like the adults I know. I’d feel wrong calling you “Mr. Milk.”

Besides, it’s not as if I’m ever going to send you this letter. I’ve never kept a diary before, but things have been getting harder lately, and tonight might be the hardest night of all. I need someone I can talk to. Even if you can’t answer back.

Plus, I told Aunt Mandy I couldn’t join the prayer circle because I had too much homework. Tomorrow’s the last day of school, so I don’t have any homework, but she doesn’t know that. If I keep writing in this notebook, maybe she’ll think homework is really what I’m doing.

I guess I could write to my new “pen pal” instead. That might count as homework. It would be closer than writing a fake letter to a famous San Francisco homosexual, anyway, but I can’t handle the thought of writing to some stranger right now.

Technically you’re a stranger, too, Harvey, but you don’t feel like one. That’s why I wanted to write to you, instead of “Dear Diary” or something.

It’s ironic, though, that my pen pal lives in San Francisco, too. I wonder if she’s ever met you. How big is the city, anyway? I read a magazine article that said gay people could hold hands walking down the street there, and no one minds. Is that true?

Ugh. The prayer circle’s starting over. Brett and Carolyn are leading the Lord’s Prayer again. It’s probably the only prayer they know.

We’ve been cooped up in the church basement for five hours now—my whole family, plus the youth group, plus a bunch of the other Protect Our Children volunteers. Along with Aunt Mandy and Uncle Russell, of course. The results from Miami should come in any minute.

You probably already know this—wait, who am I kidding? Of course you know, Harvey—but there was a vote today in Florida. They were voting on homosexuality, so our church, New Way Baptist, was heavily involved, even though we’re on the opposite side of the country. Everyone in our youth group was required to volunteer. I worked in the office Aunt Mandy and Uncle Russell set up in their den, answering phones and putting together mailings and counting donations to the New Way Protect Our Children Fund. We had bake sales and car washes to raise money to send to Anita Bryant, too.

You know all about Anita Bryant, obviously. You’re probably just as scared of her as I am. Although, come to think of it, whenever I see you in the newspaper, you look the opposite of afraid. In pictures, you’re always smiling.

Don’t you get anxious, having everyone know? I’m terrified all the time, and no one even knows about me yet. I hope they never find out. 

Maybe I should pray for that. Ha.

Okay, the Lord’s Prayer is over and now Uncle Russell’s making everyone silently call on God to save the good Christians of Florida from sin. I hope I can keep writing without getting in trouble.

Ugh, look at them all, showing off how devout they are. The only two people in this room who aren’t clasping their hands in front of them and moving their lips dramatically are me and Aunt Mandy, but that’s because I’m a grievous sinner—obviously—and Aunt Mandy keeps peeking out from her shut eyes at the phone next to her.

I’m not sure how much you can concentrate on God when you’re solely focused on being ready to snatch up the receiver the second it starts to shake. Maybe she’ll grab it so hard, it’ll crush to a pulp in her fist like one of Anita Bryant’s fucking Florida oranges.

I wonder what you’re doing tonight, Harvey. Probably waiting by your phone, too. Only you’re in San Francisco, and if you’re praying, you’re praying for the opposite of what Aunt Mandy and everyone else in our church basement is praying for.

It seems pointless to pray now, though. The votes have already been cast, so we’re just waiting to hear the results. There’s a reporter from my aunt and uncle’s favorite radio station in L.A. sitting at the back of the room, ready to interview Uncle Russell once we know what happened. Even though we basically already do.

My mom showed up at church tonight with a box of balloons from the supermarket, but Aunt Mandy wouldn’t let anyone touch them until the announcement, so at the moment the box is sitting in the closet under a stack of old communion trays. The second that phone starts to ring, though, 

I just bet Aunt Mandy’s going to haul out that box and make us all start blowing up those crappy balloons.

I wonder if you’ve heard of my aunt. She wants you to. She knows exactly who you are, of course—you’re her enemy.

Which makes me your enemy, too, I guess. I’m not eighteen, and it’s not as if I could’ve voted in an election in Miami even if I were, but I’ve still spent the past two months folding up comic books about the destruction of Sodom to mail out to churches in Florida.

I’m a soldier for Christ. That’s what Aunt Mandy calls me, anyway. And since I do everything she says, she must be right.

Writing to you instead of praying with the others is the closest I’ve ever come to rebelling. That’s how much of a coward I am, Harvey.

I wish I had the nerve to tell my aunt to go shove it. That’s what I’d really pray for—the nerve, I mean. If I thought prayer ever helped anything.

Shit, the phone’s ringing. More later.

Tammy