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Blog Tour: You Can Do Magic by R.L. Merrill

You Can Do Magic - R.L. Merrill

R.L. Merrill has a new MM rock ‘n roll fantasy/paranormal romance (bi, gay) out in the Carnival of Mysteries shared universe: You Can Do Magic. This is also book three in Merrill’s Summer of Hush series. And there’s a giveaway.

From the author of Foreword Indies Finalist Summer of Hush and BookLife Prize Quarterfinalist Brains and Brawn comes a new installment in the series, a contemporary gay romance with a side of time travel and magic.

Musical prodigy Kallos Alexandrou has played his calliope for countless visitors at Errante Ame’s Carnival of Mysteries, but his one-year residency has come to an end. Scars from a terrible tragedy in his past are the only explanation he has for his loss of speech and memory, but it’s time to move on, so when a music festival sets up next to the carnival, Mr. Ame sends him off with identification, a bottomless billfold, and a set of new clothes. Outside the carnival’s perimeter, Kal finds himself in an unfamiliar world surrounded by strange instruments and vibrant people like nothing he’s ever seen.

Ryan Wells is the troubled and celebrated lead singer of the metal band Backdrop Silhouette. He’s brought more than his share of baggage on the last cross-country Warped Tour, including harsh restrictions placed on him by his parole officer and the band’s label, but it’s the treatment from his bandmates that have him feeling unsettled. After a tough morning, he spots a strange young man playing carnival music on a keyboard backstage, and the sound takes him back to a particularly vulnerable time in his youth. Intrigued, Ryan asks the young man’s name, but he flees only to appear later as a replacement stagehand for the tour.

An invitation from the band Hush to ride on their bus gives Ryan and Kal a welcome distraction. They find the camaraderie and support they’ve both been craving…as well as a little magic and a fresh new romance. But the music business makes personal relationships difficult to maintain, and when the tour ends, Ryan and Kal will have to make a choice: move forward together on an uncertain path, or let fear keep them from trusting that sometimes you really can have everything you desire.

You Can Do Magic is part of the multi-author Carnival of Mysteries Series. Each book stands alone, but each one includes at least one visit to Errante Ame’s Carnival of Mysteries, a magical, multiverse traveling show full of unusual acts, games, and rides. The Carnival changes to suit the world it’s on, so each visit is unique and special. This book contains a Depression-era calliaphone, a Ouija board with a purpose, and tour bus hijinks that will warm your heart and make you gigglesnort. Reading Summer of Hush and Brains and Brawn before this book will give you the full Warped Tour experience, but You Can Do Magic can be read as a standalone as well as the other books in the shared universe. Recommended 18+.

Warnings: Mention of prior sexual abuse, off-page, no descriptions

About the Series

Welcome, everyone, to the Carnival of Mysteries! In this shared element multiverse, we invite you to partake of an array of stories by an eclectic group of authors. You’ll find action, intrigue, mystery, danger, sweetness, and sorrow, but, above all, true love! So grab your ticket, indulge in some treats, experience a few thrills, maybe have your fortune read… there is something for everyone at the Carnival!

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R.L. is giving away a $30 Spotify gift card with this tour:

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You Can Do Magic meme - R.L. Merrill

Chapter One

A new day breaks
Under the blue skies above
A new crowd waits
All they need is a little shove
The Carnival is here
With mysteries galore
To satisfy your cravings
To leave you wanting more
We’re here today, gone the next,
Taking along our magic and song.
Come inside, take a peek
Surprises like these won’t wait long
Here we have the fantastical calliope,
come dance with our talented Kal
His music will delight and seduce you
With the power of the siren’s call
So step right up, and don’t be shy
For his time is coming to a close
Come shimmy and shake with this talented guy
And celebrate the last of his shows…

I’d memorized the ringmaster’s introduction, though it was more sensational than I deserved. And last night’s version had a new ending, one I’d been expecting, but hearing it brought a sliver of anxiety to my bones.

The instrument I played was actually a calliaphone—a more efficient and portable version of the forced-air organ—and I’d built it myself, that much I knew. It was my voice. It spoke all I knew to say, my own words lacking. I possessed the ability to speak, but I’d mostly forgotten how, therefore I preferred to let my music speak for me. I played for the crowds. I smiled for them, but I was transparent to the onlooker.

One year had passed in this way, one year of my life, and I had nothing of my own. No friends to help, no family to love, and no safe place to lay my head away from the carnival. What would I do, where would I go, and would someone see me for me?

The boss, Mr. Ame, told me soon it would be time to move on to the next phase. I’d no clue what that meant other than I would no longer travel with the carnival. There was nothing to pack, nothing to carry, only the clothes—and the scars—I wore on my body. I would miss my calliaphone and the crowds, but I knew it was time. My stay had been healing, educational. My time taught me plenty. The carnival would go on without me and my music, on to the next place to entertain…and seduce the locals. They’d fall under the spell of my fellow travelers. Some might even be chosen to come along.

I remembered little from my time before I, too, had joined the carnival. Humiliation and regret reverberated within the structures of my cells, but I didn’t recall more than that, much less the reason for the debt that forced me into servitude. The boss took me away from the darkness, and promised to set me free one day. But what was free, what would it mean, who would I be? A musician, a man, alone? I’d forgotten my past. I’d learned all I could in this place. Would I survive what lay ahead?

I took my questions to the man in charge, the one they call Errante Ame, and he confirmed that my time with the carnival was at an end.

“My dear, Kallos,” the boss said to me. “The world has done you wrong, not the other way around. You have been a part of something important here, and we shall never forget the joy your music has brought to our clan and our guests. But now it is time for you to move on, as all in the crew must do.

It is your choice where you’ll go once you leave the perimeter, what you will do with the time you have left.

“You have been invisible to our guests for so long, adored for your playing, of course, but who you are remains unseen, unspoken. A blank canvas, a puzzle. Only you can solve the riddle of your life. The time is near when you will set out on your greatest adventure, the journey to find your purpose. Being reborn can be frightening. You will have questions, but the answers you seek can be found within yourself. All you must do is follow your instincts, and your heart’s desire. Do what you feel is right and true. Be good to yourself and your fellow creatures, and walk the path of least harm.

“When the next sun rises, you will step outside the bounds of the carnival. You will have all that you need to begin anew. By the following sunrise, our carnival will have moved on. A traveling music festival will share these grounds with us tomorrow. Perhaps you can start there.”

I knew down deep in my bones that he was correct, that something momentous was about to occur.

Author Bio

R.L. Merrill

Whether she’s writing swoon-worthy contemporary romance featuring quirky, queer, and relatable characters or diving deep into the supernatural to give readers a shiver, R.L. Merrill loves creating compelling stories that will stay with readers long after closing the book. Ro writes inclusive romance for the Happily Ever After collective, contributes paranormal hilarity to Robyn Peterman’s Magic and Mayhem Universe, and pens horror-inspired tales and music reviews for HorrorAddicts.net. A mom, wife, daughter, and former educator, you can find her rocking out in her Bronco with Great Dane pup Velma, being terrorized by feline twins Dracula and Frankenstein, or headbanging at a rock show near her home in the San Francisco Bay Area! Stay Tuned for more…

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

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

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

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/rlmerrillauthor

Author Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/9828914.R_L_Merrill

Author QueeRomance Ink: https://www.queeromanceink.com/mbm-book-author/r-l-merrill/

Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/stores/R.L.-Merrill/author/B00PI6Q1LI

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Why I Love Ryan Wells…

Greetings and thanks for stopping by the blog tour for You Can Do Magic: Carnival of Mysteries. My story features a troubled rock star who meets a mysterious musical prodigy on the last cross-country Warped Tour. It’s a contemporary romance with a little magic and woo woo, which I think is becoming my brand! I’ve written both contemporary and paranormal stories, but several of my recent books have blurred that line a little more than usual. While I love vampires and shifters immensely, I’m also fascinated by the everyday magic that occurs when ordinary folks meet the extraordinary. When people are faced with the unexplained phenomenon such as spiritual intervention or the manifesting of the things in life you desire, that’s the magic I love to explore. 

Enter Ryan Wells, lead singer of metalcore band Backdrop Silhouette. Ryan is a conglomeration of several different real-life musicians I enjoy listening to and reading about. He’s the embodiment of sexuality, so naughty he can’t help himself. Never intentionally hateful, but never the best decision-maker, Ryan struggled through a childhood of neglect and abuse to become a star, only to plummet to earth after a series of bad decisions land him in prison. He’s out on parole and trying to make things better by following his 12-step program, going to therapy, and making amends to those he’s hurt. Through all of this, he’s taken responsibility for his misdeeds and is attempting to live a life in service to the people he cares about. But doing the right thing isn’t always met with acceptance, and Ryan is tired and on the verge of hopelessness when he meets carnival musician Kallos Alexandrou. Whose got secrets. Big ones. 

Ryan first appeared in my book Summer of Hush where he is a sort of playful rival of Silas Franklin, the lead singer of metalcore band Hush. The two have a mutual respect for each other, but Ryan tends to keep to himself. We soon learn that Ryan and the former guitarist for Hush—Gavin West, who committed suicide two years prior to the start of the books—became close friends and even wrote an album together after Ryan got out of prison, however Ryan’s label put the kibosh on their plans to produce it together. Ryan grieves with his acquaintances in Hush, and throughout the two books, he appears at times to commiserate with the members of Hush. I loved him from the start in all of his black-leather-wearing, ass-shaking, crotch-grabbing, sex-on-a-stick persona. This collaboration with the authors in the Carnival of Mysteries shared world was the perfect opportunity for me to give him his own book and show a bit more about his connection to Hush as well as to bring those characters back for more tour bus hijinks and backstage tomfoolery. 

Here’s a little bit from Ryan’s POV:

I stood in the bathroom of my band’s tour bus applying the day’s sunscreen, foundation, and eyeliner while I listened to the new guy bitch.

Getting ready for a performance, putting on makeup, was a ritual that helped me focus. I liked to get a little creative with the corners of my eyes and tops of my cheekbones, but I wasn’t good at makeup like Brains from Hush, or Chris Motionless from Motionless in White. I was more old school, like Scott Weiland maybe. He’d been one of my role models growing up. Same with Chester Bennington, Chris Cornell, Layne Staley. Notice anything those guys had in common? 

Yeah, me too. 

Every day I woke up was a gift. I had to remember that, especially when I was trapped on a tour bus with my closest friends and biggest detractors. Those two characterizations fit all the members of my band at one point or another. Over the course of a day they’d love or hate me within minutes. This was our fifth Warped Tour, and though I was sad it was going to be the last one, I was also ready for a break from touring. We’d only been on the road together about six weeks at this point, but that was enough. 

They were all on my last nerve, and I wasn’t their favorite person either. 

That should all be par for the course in a rock band, but we had some extra baggage thrown in there, namely my prison term, my parole requirements, oh, and my sobriety. 

I guess it was fair to say I was the baggage in this scenario. 

Someone pounded much louder than was called for on the bathroom door. “You almost done in there?”

I opened the door to find TJ, one of the two newest members of Backdrop Silhouette. When I got locked up, our previous rhythm guitarist and bass player quit the band. They weren’t original members either. 

Burke, Parker, and I founded the band seven years ago and were used to each other’s quirks. We didn’t have a lot of tolerance for assholes, and yet we kept ending up with them on the payroll. After my little “fuck up,” I guess I’d become one of them myself. Parker and Burke hadn’t come out and said it, but there was a deep, dark crevice between us that hadn’t existed previously. They’d tried to have me fired, but the label assured them they could hang up their instruments if they chose to do so. My face, my ass, my sparkling personality, my stage antics, and my voice were our moneymakers. Probably those five traits could be a band on their own. 

That thought had me chuckling to the point that I forgot TJ wanted something.

“What’s so fucking funny?”

TJ was four years younger than me, and damn he had a chip on his shoulder bigger than he had any right to have. I don’t think he’d always hated me this much, but lately he looked as if he wanted to throat punch me every other minute. For that reason, I delighted in fucking with him.

“Your face. Oh, come on. What did you think I was going to say?” I pushed past him, being sure to knock him off his unplanted feet. Dude should have been on his toes. I was always on mine. Prison will do that to you.

He stumbled over his words, scoffed, and told me to fuck off before slamming the door. 

“You’re going to pay for that when it breaks,” I said in my sing-songiest voice. 

“Do you have to start with him every morning?” Parker sat at the booth in the kitchen drinking coffee with Burke. My other big fan, Oscar, was out jogging. He ran every morning, which I admired. Fitness was important in this life we led, a fact some of the guys could stand to get on board with. I had my own routine that I’d done every day for the past three years save two days: the first full day I had out of Soledad, and the day my best friend died. 

I hope you fall in love with Ryan as much as I have. I spent 27 years of my life as an educator, most of which working with kids in alternative education programs, and I have a soft spot for the ones who work hard to make that second chance count for something. It’s for them that I wrote this book. 

Thanks for checking out You Can Do Magic: Carnival of Mysteries. I hope you enjoy! For more fun, check out the other stops on the blog tour and pick up the books in my adjacent series, Summer of Hush and Brains and Brawn, both in KU for a limited time. And Stay Tuned for More…

Blog Tour + Interview with Timoteo Tong, author of Magic, Monsters and Me

1.When you got your very first manuscript acceptance letter, what was your initial reaction and who was the first person you told?

I was so nervous about being rejected that when I got the email, I made my husband read it watching his face carefully. Well, he has poker face so he kept me on edge until he said, “Wow, they love it and want to offer a contract! I immediately told my brother because he was the one who pushed me to write down the stories I’d dream up with my legos as a kid.

2.Post on how you came up with the plot and/or character(s) and/or worldbuilding:

I grew up on welfare as a kid. And I remember worrying where our next meal would come from and if we’d have enough money to meet rent. I dreamed up the fantastically wealthy Delomary family as a coping mechanism, shrinking myself into their world so I could escape the reality I was living in. For the worldbuilding, I was inspired by the works of L. Frank Baum and Tolkien. I created this fantasy world growing up during the Reagan years and imagined a world that was similar to ours only better, there was no crime or hunger or violence, and especially, free of racism and bigotry. 

3. Have the character share a favorite recipe.

Elijah loves his Mom’s Roast Beef, slow roasted with onions, mushrooms and simmering in red wine (My mom put wine in almost every dish, I think it’s a Sicilian thing) served with mashed potatoes and peas. 

4. If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be?

I would definitely want to fly. In my books, I feature a lot of characters flying, floating and walking on air. I was inspired by Wu Xia movies from Hong Kong, where the characters can fly while they fight. I think this is so cool!

5: What is your favorite food.

Cheese, hands down,I love it sliced, in cubes or chunks, melted down and dipped with bread, stuffed into lasagna and shells and especially cheese pizza. I can’t get enough of cheese, to the chagrin of my doctor.

Magic, Monsters, and Me - Timoteo Tong

Timoteo Tong has a new MM YA sci-fi/fantasy/paranormal romance out: Magic, Monsters, and Me. And there’s a giveaway.

Sixteen-year-old Elijah Delomary loves the City of Angels. The sunshine, the palm trees, the ocean. He especially enjoys battling the monsters infesting the dark corners of the vast metropolis.

As he starts his junior year at Burbank High School he meets a new friend, Austin who also fights monsters to keep Angelenos safe. As their friendship develops and love blooms, Elijah’s arch nemesis Devlina reappears, threatening to use magic to destroy the world.

Elijah must now juggle pursuing his feelings for Austin, meeting the lofty expectations of his affluent and influential family, and fulfilling his destiny to combat the forces of evil and save his hometown.

Warnings: Bullying, racism, homophobia no HEA cliffhanger

Publisher | Amazon


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

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Magic, Monsters & Me Meme

Fifteen-year-old Austin Kang Jr., well over six feet tall, lean and lanky with a mop of black hair falling over his eyes, adjusted the thick black glasses on his face. He studied the white stone and glass mansion jutting out over a hillside on North Sunset Canyon Drive. The house appeared to have good feng shui, with a Southern exposure to allow absorption of positive chi, a panoramic view of the Valley below, and a clear path to the front door.

Feng shui was important to Austin and his parents. They believed it helped center their family and keep them grounded and safe. Austin and his parents were descended from a long line of Magicals called Glimmerers who could tap into a glimmer of magic and twist, turn, and manipulate it as if it were hot ore being turned into a sword.

Coaugelus, as they were known in the Old Language, the mother tongue of the Magicals, were a class of warriors. They defended Magicals and Ordinaries, or humans without magic, from dark forces, creatures, and monsters that lived in the dark shadows of Earth—a place called the Gloom.

Coaugelus, Magicals, and Ordinaries lived in the light in our world, also known as the Shimmering. Everywhere that the sun touched was part of the Shimmering. Austin, his parents, even the people driving by in cars, walking their dogs, and watering their lawns shimmered and lived in the light.

Long ago, the Gloom and the Shimmering met face-to-face in a great war that killed and destroyed countless Ordinaries, Magicals, and monsters. The war raged on and reached a crescendo. A Pàcifimenta, a treaty among Ordinaries, Magicals, and the Gloom was signed. The war ended. Peace settled over the Shimmering and the Gloom.

Still, many in the Coven, the collective of monsters in the Gloom, did not agree with the Pàcifimenta. They didn’t like that they had to sacrifice feeding on Ordinaries or haunting, possessing, or simply terrorizing them. Others wanted power to control the Coven, and to defeat the peace created by the Pàcifimenta. Some creatures didn’t like peace as part of their nature. These monsters were fought by Coaugelus like Austin and his family.

Austin loved three things in life: playing soccer (known as football back home in Hong Kong), listening to grunge music like his dad, and fighting the Coven. For Austin, being a Coaugelo gave him a purpose in life and a place where he felt like he belonged. He particularly enjoyed kicking, punching, and using Xem Sen Ou, the ancient martial art from Minerva in Old Earth in the Seventh Dimension where all Magicals came from.

He also fancied his PlasmX, a purple plasma staff that folded into nondescript metal object akin to a lighter that he always carried with him. He had used it only last night while hunting down a group of rather angry werewolves, or Malloupus, that were attacking tourists at the night market in Kowloon. Austin enjoyed watching the pure purple plasma slice through the heads and arms of werewolves that were in the middle of reaping the souls of innocent Ordinaries.

Austin loved saving Ordinaries from monsters.

“What’s our assignment?” Austin asked his parents.

“Trouble is breaking out within the Coven here in Los Angeles,” said Austin Sr.

Austin and his family spoke with posh accents, a holdover from when Hong Kong was a colony of the UK. “We’re here to investigate and report back to XAQ2,” continued Austin Sr.

“Bleedin’ hell,” Austin complained. “XAQ2 are wankers. Full of rules. Can’t we simply report to the Anti-Coven League and be done with it?”

“Xutactiendo Allégansa Qu’elicallen Duzo have moved more operations of the League from the clandestine to the legal,” said Austin Sr.

“What does that mean?” Austin asked.

“The Alliance is strained and weakened. As leaders of the Alliance, the Còngréhassa are trying to placate their counterparts in the Coven and maintain the Pàcifimenta. Part of that entails relying more on formal procedures. The League works in secret, whereas XAQ2 works through formal channels as the official body of the Alliance.”

“Tossers,” Austin said. “XAQ2 can all go to hell as far as I’m concerned.”

Austin glanced at his parents, who were standing beside him holding hands. His parents were madly in love, even all these years later. He wanted to be in love. He was going to find it—here in Burbank where he’d have four passions: soccer, grunge, being a Coaugelo, and being in love with a cute, wonderful, and smart boy. That was Austin’s secret.

Coaugelos shouldn’t kiss other boys, or so some said—at least, the old-timers in the Alliance. He didn’t care what they thought, but he worried what his parents would think. They were his best friends.

Austin fought and traveled all over the world with his parents. He was worried that if he told them his secret, they wouldn’t understand or accept him anymore. Losing the closeness with, and love of, his parents would hurt more than the bite of a Qu’muqa, a monster with green scales and ten mouths on two heads.

His parents worked as agents for the Anti-Coven League. When they got a new assignment from the League, they took on new day jobs for cover.

“What jobs are you supposed to be doing?” asked Austin.

“This time around, I manage a highly profitable import-export business specializing in Chinese antiquities,” responded his mother.

“Jolly right you are,” Austin quipped. “How many bloomin’ vases do we have?”

Austin Sr. frowned. “Too many,” he observed.

“What about you, Dad?”

“I run a gas station somewhere called Van Nuys,” Austin Sr. said.

Austin glanced at his mom and dad. “Looks like you got the shit job this time, eh Dad?” he said.

They all laughed.

“I ran a nail salon in Bangkok last time for six months,” Austin’s mother said. “I hate salons.”

“Yeah,” his father said. “I had to collect garbage in Berlin for a year. Remember?”

“How could I forget the smell? I had to be a maid in Buenos Aires.”

Austin tuned them out. This was one of his parents’ games: try to top each other in who had the worst fake job while they were out in the field fighting monsters for the League.

Austin caught sight of his cousin Barnhard “Barn” Wong strutting up the street toward him and his family.

Barn was Austin’s best mate. His father was Austin’s uncle. Austin was an only child, as was Barn. When they were together, they acted like brothers.

Barn waved, jumping up and down. Barn was always full of life and energy. Austin loved being around him. Life was better around his cousin.

“Oi, Kangs!” Barn shouted in Cantonese.

Austin noticed a red-haired boy with brown eyes and a band of freckles on his nose walking next to Barn.

Austin’s heart melted. He was the most beautiful boy Austin had ever seen—from Mumbai to London to New York and Tokyo and Sydney. He felt the universe shift inside him. He could feel the boy pulling him in as if Austin were a satellite circling the Earth.

Austin liked that feeling. His parents orbited each other, and like them, he wanted to circle this boy—forever.

Barn and the red-haired boy parted ways. Austin watched the boy walk across the street under the canopy of jacaranda trees, disappearing into a four-story white stucco Spanish colonial mansion.

“What’s my assignment?” Austin asked as Barn arrived, pausing to hug his uncle, aunt, and Austin.

Barn was affectionate and loved hugs and kisses, or smooches, as he called them. “Reconnaissance with my mate here? Hunting down Àzmadus? Orgmas?” Austin continued.

Barn high-fived Austin. “Let’s destroy monsters!” Barn exclaimed.

Barn was a Coaugelo like Austin. Barn’s extended family owned the Wong Aero-Magicals Corporation that made the PlasmX in factories in Chicago, Tokyo, and Bangkok as well as other equipment used by the Alliance to fight the Coven.

“You’re just a high school junior,” Austin’s mother said. “You need a break from hunting and fighting. You need to have fun!”

“You need to be a boy,” his father echoed.

“Killing monsters is fun,” Austin responded.

“Really fun, Auntie!” Barn added. “Austin can train at the Dáu Xhà, the dojo with Dáumo Máurso, the sensei.”

“Who?” asked Austin.

“He’s an Immortal—Mars, the God of War. He runs the best Dáu Xhà in the world. You’ll learn the most powerful Xem Sen Ou with him,” explained Barn.

“Oi,” Austin said, “training with an Immortal. That’s amazing.”

He’s amazing,” Barn said. “He’s nearly ten feet tall, a knot of muscle, and his voice makes the earth tremble.”

“Sounds a tad frightening,” Austin admitted.

“He’s the God of War, mate,” Barn explained, nudging Austin in the side with his elbow.

“Fair enough,” Austin replied.

“He likes cats—he has a dozen at his home. He also likes hot dogs—a lot—and slushies,” Barn said.

“Yuck,” Austin said, rolling his eyes. “I hate slushies.”

“Let’s go to the Dáu Xhà after you drop your stuff off,” Barn said, “So I can introduce you to Máurso.”

Austin glanced expectantly at the moving truck, the boxes on the sidewalk, and his parents.

“Go,” his mother said in Cantonese. “Have fun, boys! And no killing monsters!”

“Oi,” Barn said, already ignoring his aunt. “There’s a poltergeist at Dirk Delomary’s department store in the mall—third floor, women’s hosiery. We can destroy it after we get hot dogs and hang with Máurso,” he said. “And I know a cute girl at Chicken on a Stick who’s an Encantreina. She can turn satay into powerful silver daggers that will kill any monster.”

Austin grinned. He loved Burbank already.

Author Bio

Timoteo Tong grew up on a quiet street in Burbank, a suburb of Los Angeles located in the San Fernando Valley. He dreamed of one day living in a Victorian mansion with many rooms filled with antiques and artwork. He imagined himself fighting monsters.Timoteo grew up and began writing stories of a family of fighters battling monsters to save humanity.

Timoteo currently lives with his husband and a plethora of houseplants in San Francisco. He enjoys reading, writing, drawing, naps and binge watching TV. He loves cheese pizza, Pepsi and Vans.

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

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/timoteo.tong

Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/timoteoktong/

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Blog Tour: A Riff of Retribution by Amir Lane (Heavy Metal Hunters Book 1)

A Riff of Retribution - Amir Lane

Amir Lane has a new gay paranormal vampire book out, Heavy Metal Hunters book 1: A Riff of Retribution. And there’s a giveaway.

Dead men are filled with life.

Eleven years ago, world-renowned guitarists Hale and Aleksandr learned that monsters were real. Hale lost the love of his life, and Aleksandr lost his brother.

When the carnage was over, they vowed to make sure no one else had to go through what they did.

But since then, another band’s bassist has been killed at a festival, and she wasn’t the only one. Hale suspects a vampire was responsible, and that their drummer — the singer of his new band — knows more about it than she’s letting on. When a member of their new act is also attacked by a vampire, everything Hale has tried to keep in the shadows comes to light.

Hale has made a bargain with the gods for the power to heal. But he can’t save everyone.

The dead are rising. The gods are angry. And even they won’t be Hale’s biggest problem.

From USAT Bestselling Author Amir Lane comes a story of music, magic, and mayhem.

Warning: Substance abuse, self-harm, mentions of attempted suicide.

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A Riff of Retribution meme

A woman’s voice cried out in the darkness.

“Help me! Help me!”

Hale ground his teeth against the instinct to find her. He didn’t know if this tactic was something they learned or if it was ingrained into them. The nearest cabins were all empty right now. They had checked before sundown and found no sign of human life.

That had been several hours ago. Somebody very well could have wandered up into the mountains and gotten hurt or lost in that time.

Hale doubted it.

The same cry came from behind him. This time, it was a man’s voice.

“Help me! Help me!”

Hale stood and raised his crossbow with both hands. Though it was fairly light, he was mindful of the way the weight tugged at the scars behind his left shoulder. In his periphery, Aleksandr sheathed the dagger and raised his own crossbow instead.

This wasn’t right.

Draug weren’t like European or North American vampires. They didn’t move in pairs. It was likely why Hale and Aleksandr had survived doing this so long. It was always two against one.

They had a strategy. His job was to slow the bastards down so Aleksandr could finish them off. Two of them coming from different directions complicated things.

“Hale,” Aleksandr said.

Hale knew that tone.

“Don’t,” he warned.

“You’ve been a good brother.”

“Fuck off.”

Aleksandr laughed softly.

“I love you too, Hale.”

Hale’s lip twitched into a smile despite himself.

“Come on, you fucks,” he muttered.

The silence was worse than the noise. Had they seen the weapons and retreated?


From his left—


Hale spun.

Eyes glowed yellow in the light of the fire. His finger twitched on the trigger. The bolt went wide.


The draug moved fast, too fast for Hale to follow. There was no point trying to see it. He allowed instinct to take over. He turned in the direction of the hairs prickling on the back of his neck as he released the bolt without letting himself think about it. A howl of pain rang through his eardrums. The draug paused long enough that Hale could see the bolt sticking from her thigh. She stared at him with sharp teeth bared and wide eyes a blue so pale, they were nearly white. She was thin enough that he could make out the bones of her skull and collarbones where her torn and bloody clothes hung loose from her body. It was impossible to tell how old she’d been as human.

Jeans and a t-shirt.

Had she been killed in the summer?

Hale smothered down the guilt before it could distract him. One week a year. That was the agreement. Anything outside that week wasn’t his responsibility. All he could do was put the poor thing out of her misery and keep her from killing anybody else.

His weak shoulder gave out a little as he pulled the trigger again. The bolt stuck between the draug’s ribs instead of her heart.

“How are you doing, Aleksandr?” he shouted.

The lack of verbal response wasn’t encouraging.


“I’m fine!”

Hale slipped his shoulder to the side, narrowly avoiding the woman’s claws aimed for his face. The ash poisoning was slowing her down already. She was too close for the crossbow. He let it fall to the ground and moved his right leg back.

A sharp cry rang out behind him.


Hale made the mistake of looking back. He didn’t see Aleksandr or the other draug.


Gods, where was he? Where—

The woman slammed into him. The snow broke his fall, and the pain was muffled by the spike of adrenaline in his veins. He braced his left hand against her rotting throat to keep her teeth from his face. Cold pain pulled at the scars behind his shoulder. The weak muscles quivered with the effort of holding her back against gravity. Her ugly snarl looked even more inhuman in the firelight.

Hale’s pendants were hot where they’d fallen back against his skin.

Protect him, you bastards, not me. He’s not a fighter!

Hale could handle himself, but Aleksandr—

Aleksandr could hold his own. He wasn’t as soft as he looked. Hale couldn’t think of him while the woman’s short claws raked at his arms. She was clearly young enough they hadn’t had a chance to grow long yet. The sleeves of his jacket kept them from breaking his skin.

Hale shifted to push the woman back a few inches with his good arm. He wedged his knee up between them. His fingers scrambled over his thigh until they found the hilt of his dagger.

Blood splattered on his face as he drove the blade into the underside of her jaw. She howled and screamed around the metal. He kept his grip on the hilt as she jerked back, dislocating her jaw. She fell back, and Hale was on her in a less than a breath. He dropped his weight onto the dagger. It took two tries to get it between the ribs and into her heart.

It was concern for Aleksandr that made him stand as the draug woman thrashed on the snow, not the sick feeling that came with watching her die.

This never did get easier.

Author Bio

Amir Lane author logo

Amir Lane writes supernatural and fantasy with LGBT+ characters. From the frigid and mysterious land of Northern Canada, Amir is obsessed with loud music and black magic. They spend most of their writing time in a small home office or doing the circuit of local coffee shops. They live in a world where magic is an everyday occurrence, and they strive to bring that world to paper.

When not figuring out what kind of day job an incubus would have or what a necromancer would go to school for, Amir enjoys visiting the nearest Dairy Queen, getting killed in video games, and watching cat videos.

Author Website: https://amirlane.com

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Jade: First and Last by M.D. Grimm Blog Tour + Excerpt

Good day lovely readers! Thank you for joining me. I am M.D. Grimm and I am here to promote my newest release, “Jade: First and Last.” This is the latest entry in The Stones of Power, and the structure became a quest story, much the same as the first book in the series. I kept making it worse for my guys as they searched for the jade stone of power. And I had a bit too much fun doing so. I only have four books left before I wrap things up for Lord Morgorth and Aishe, and I am both excited and saddened. They’ve been with me for a decade, and it will be an end of an era when I let them go. If you like magic, surly, anti-hero mages (wizards), their loyal, long-suffering mates, and a fun setting with quirky supporting characters, this series might be for you!

Enjoy this exclusive excerpt!


I stared in fascination as Morgorth’s skin rippled and the air around him shimmered. He’d confirmed how agonizing the change was, and I gritted my teeth at the sounds of breaking bones and snapping tendons. His proportions shrank, his skin erupted in feathers, and his face grew a beak. His low moan turned into a ruckus caw.

A long moment later a large black bird stood on the floor, ruffling his feathers, and clicking his beak. He flapped his wings and cocked his head, familiarizing himself with his new form.

I knelt in front of him and slipped the small cord over his head. The thumbnail-size crystal lay against his chest. “You are beautiful.”

He let out a soft sound, almost a coo, and flapped his wings hard, gaining lift. I stood and he fluttered over to land on my shoulder.

“Are you ready?”

He nipped at my hair.

I hid him under my cloak as we snuck out. Once outside, I drew up my hood, since Morgorth advised against using the same disguise potion as yesterday. He didn’t want to make me sick. I stepped around the corner once outside, and Morgorth took flight, wheeling a bit unsteadily through the air. I watched for a moment, anxious before following him on foot. The city was far busier in the early afternoon. Everyone moved with a purpose and rarely made eye contact or even greeted each other. I didn’t sense unfriendliness, more unease and a bit of fear.

As I followed Morgorth down a few side streets we’d tried the other night, I noticed the graffiti on the walls and spots of vandalism. I hadn’t spotted them in the dark. The words were in the local dialect, but I could understand the meaning well enough. Calls for revolution or for someone to depose the king.

I got a bit distracted, trying to decipher a few of the words and graphic pictures, and wondering if the current state of the city, and the kingdom as a whole, could have an impact on the thief’s actions. A group of children, none at puberty yet, ran past me, screaming and hollering in manic glee. I flinched at the noise but found myself smiling. Even in this devastated city, the perseverance of children couldn’t be dampened. But their ragged clothing, dirty faces, and bare feet, concerned me. They were far too skinny, and their body odor lingered in their wake.

“What’s all this noise?” an old man bellowed as he stuck his head out of his door. “You get out of here, you little maggots! None of us wants to hear you carrying on.”

The kids jeered and called him names, making the old man red in the face.

I was moving forward before I knew it, hoping to stop an altercation. But then the swooping of wings, and the brush of feathers against my hood brought me back to our mission. Morgorth cawed as he soared higher. I gritted my teeth against the instinctive urge to interfere. But the kids had already run away, and the old man turned his attention to me.

He glared. “What you looking at, you davish?”

I stiffened, the insult burning. “Nothing.”

He snorted. “Get back to your own country and out of our city, tree whore. We don’t want your kind here.”

I gaped as he shut the door.

Did he just…? Was that a derogatory name for dialen? Had to be. And how dare he call me a davish! The nerve of accusing a perfect stranger of rutting with animals. The old man’s vitriol staggered me. He hated me for even existing in his presence. It appeared that generations of war turned some bitter and hateful, and irrationally bigoted.

How had he known I was a dialen, though? My hood was still in place, and the cloak was big enough to cover my clothing. Could it be my bow? Perhaps. It wasn’t the same shape and style as the bows of the city.

I sighed and tried to shake it off as I turned and followed Morgorth again. The encounter shook me despite my best efforts. The despair permeating the city was even worse in the daytime when I could see the faces of the citizens and the resignation in their eyes.

I lifted the crystal to my lips. “We have to do something about this war, Morgorth. After we find the jade, we have to… I don’t know. This place, it… we have to help if we can.”

He gave two clicks.

I sighed.

The afternoon wore on, and I witnessed a half dozen thefts, and it sickened me to turn away. But when I spotted three men harassing a woman, I couldn’t stand by. They had her backed into the end of an alley and were tugging at her arms, her clothes. I didn’t want the attention of the patrols or soldiers, so I kept my arrows and sword sheathed and used my bow as a club instead.

“Hey, you should leave her alone if you know what’s good for you!”

They all turned to me. I kept my hood up, bow at the ready.

“Who are you?” one of them asked, the one gripping her arm.

“And if you know what’s good for you, you won’t interfere,” another said.

The two speakers were rather scrawny, underfed, and their clothes were more patches than fabric. The third was a wide, short stump of a man who scowled and said nothing.

“Please help me!” the woman said, struggling against the first man’s hold.

“I won’t offer another warning,” I said, wondering where in the underworld the patrols were.

“Neither will we. Ander!”

The stump of a man charged me.

I braced and lifted my bow.


The Stones of Power 1-9 are available for purchase at Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo, and Barnes & Noble. 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.

I’m currently working on the next Shifter Chronicles book, as well as the first book in a duology concerning two sisters and their love lives with dragons and wolves.

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

Jade: First and Last - M.D. Grimm

M.D. Grimm has a new MM fantasy book out, Stones of Power book 9 – Jade: First and Last.

Morgorth and Aishe must contend with a deadly threat that could spell disaster for their world.

Payshthas were the first of the Mother’s intelligent children. It is rare for true friendship to form between them and another species—which makes Morgorth’s bond with Enfernlo unique. And it is due to their friendship that Morgorth doesn’t hesitate to answer Enfernlo’s plea for help.

A thief has stolen something vital from Enfernlo’s colony—a stone of power.

Their hunt for the stone leads them to a war torn kingdom, and Aishe can hardly stomach what he sees. The devastation urges him to assist however he can, no matter the risk. Meanwhile, Morgorth is faced with reminders of the monster he used to be, and contemplates how far he’s come, and yet how far he still has to go. And when his estranged mentor joins them on their search, Morgorth is forced to confront his resentment and sense of betrayal, and use Master Ulezander as a tool to save the payshthas.

Forced into a deadly quest where trust is in short supply, and faced with challengers for the stone, Morgorth must put his faith in those he loves and in himself… and become a champion not just of the Mother but for Karishian itself.

Warnings: magic violence, dragon violence, war-torn country

About the Series:

Lord Morgorth is a dark mage on the planet Karishian. His peers consider him a villain, but there is more to him than they choose to understand. Cursed by a dark destiny and tormented by painful memories of the past, Morgorth struggles to find his place in the world. Far from innocent, Morgorth has teetered between embracing his destiny and fighting against it his entire life. A decision that is made easier when Aishe comes into his life.

Aishe is a creature of the forest, a warrior and healer. He has the moral compass that Morgorth needs, and Morgorth gives Aishe the companionship he craves. Together, they forge ahead, weathering the storms and fighting the enemies fate puts into their paths.

However, their greatest enemy is not a living being, but gemstones infused with deadly power. They are addictive, seductive, and completely treacherous. Morgorth hates them and is determined to find and imprison all of them. But he soon realizes they are keys to a greater power. He learns his destiny is not all he thought it was. And an even greater enemy stirs in the darkness.

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Jade: First and Last meme

Morgorth snarled a word, and his magick speed shot him like an arrow into the tunnels. I followed in his wake, focusing on the eight gVattaren who were running away. The hard sand didn’t hinder us, and I caught up with their shorter strides. I shot two in the neck before those remaining reeled around and attacked. They cursed and squealed as their blades blinded me when the sun broke the horizon. I dropped my bow and grabbed my short sword.

With my own snarl, I barreled into them. My blade sang as I swung at their arms and heads while also dodging and swerving as they tried to stick me with their knives. The six surrounded me, and while a few broke through my defenses and slashed at my legs, their blades glanced off my armored clothing. It didn’t take long for the gVattaren to realize they couldn’t puncture through the cloth to my flesh.

One sneaky fellow sliced the back of my uncovered hand while another threw a blade at my face. I ducked and hissed at the sting on my hand. I cut off their arm while slashing at the one who’d flung the knife.

“What do you hope to accomplish?” I asked, spitting mad. “Do you not see the payshtha over there? He can burn you to a crisp in an instant!”

“Then why hasn’t he?” one of them said, voice raspy and filled with dark amusement.

I turned to the mocker and found an opening to kick them in the head. They dropped like a stone and the other five hissed and snarled.

“I’m not done having fun yet,” I said.

I trusted Morgorth to recover whatever they’d thrown into the tunnel as I gradually moved them farther away from the Jesllan. The small group was vicious and quick, fueled by rage. I would have been bleeding from many shallow wounds if Morgorth hadn’t enchanted my clothing. But then they surged toward me all at once, and one leapt upon my back, trying to stab my face. I gripped their wrist and twisted sharply. With a snap and a scream, they fell off me, dropping the blade. Unfortunately, with their other hand, the stabber grabbed my wrist and used their weight to force me to drop my sword arm. Then they clung and bit my hand, turning the previous slice into torn and mangled flesh that gushed blood.

I screamed, unable to shake them off.

I dropped my sword.

Seizing the opportunity, the other four attempted to saw their way through my clothing. They clung like leeches, and their combined weight made it hard for me to move.

“Get off me!” I punched at their heads with my free hand and struggled to keep my face beyond their reach.

“Close your eyes!” Enfernlo bellowed.

I snapped them shut an instant before hot air slammed into my back and engulfed me. The gVattaren shrieked in agony as the five spasmed against me. Then all the weight vanished, and it was silent except for the roar of the wind. Then that, too, dissipated.

I swayed and fell to one knee, panting. When I opened my eyes, I grimaced. The streaks of ash against the crystallized sand told me it hadn’t been hot wind, but payshtha fire. He’d disintegrated the gVattaren, just as I’d warned them he’d do.

Payshthas, like mages, could control their fire and who it harmed. To some extent, at least. But while mages needed to retain the connection to their fire, payshthas could direct it even when the bond was severed.

I tucked my mangled hand to my chest and grabbed my sword with the other. It was no worse for the wear, much to my relief. I turned and jolted. Enfernlo stood just behind, towering over me, his teeth bared, his eyes glimmering dark with rage. His wings were unfurled to their full span, and his posture reminded me of a striking snake or diving bird.

I was grateful my bowels didn’t betray me.


I turned and Morgorth engulfed me in his arms.

“Careful,” I said, grunting.

He jerked back and swept his gaze over me before focusing on my hand. His mouth twisted and his magick flared. “I’m sorry. Right after I retrieved that bomb they threw in, another group leapt out of the sand and attacked.”

I cupped his cheek with my good hand and met his gaze. “I’m all right.”

“Show me your hand,” Enfernlo said.

He no longer looked about to attack, and I breathed easier as I held out my hand. A gentle stream of fire blew out of his mouth and landed on my wound. It seeped into the torn flesh, glowed yellow, and then vanished. The pain stopped, my hand as good as new.

“Thank you.” I touched his snout.

Then I turned to Morgorth and cupped his cheek again. “And thank you for the clothes.”

He grunted. He covered my hand on his cheek and kissed my palm.

Author Bio

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since 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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Blog Tour: Lord Manetu (Blackwood Pack Series Book 12) by Mary Rundle + Exclusive Excerpt

Hi Everyone! So glad to be here and today there’s an exclusive excerpt from Lord Manetu, Book 12 of the Blackwood Pack series. It’s about Theo, Norm, and Smokey who have a rocky path  to their HEA but not to worry because the Blackwood Pack is always ready to step in with a helping hand. Please enjoy! 


After promising Jackson he would not seek out Theo until given permission, Smokey left the study, heading outside. He needed the peace of the forest to help settle his thoughts about what his options were concerning his mate. Opening the front door, he stepped outside, ignoring his bear’s objections. While he could understand and even agree with his animal’s demand for vengeance, he knew they belonged here with their mate. Revenge would have to wait. 

Pausing on the porch, Smokey glanced around, smirking at the enforcers casually scattered around the edge of the forest. There wasn’t a doubt in his mind what their assignment was but that wouldn’t be necessary. He had no intention of doing anything that would cause his mate more anxiety. Nodding briefly to the leader, he stepped off the porch, heading for a path leading into the trees. 

The quietness of Smokey’s footsteps on the thick bed of pine needles had the effect on his bear he hoped for. The anger was gone, stripped from his animal by the stillness of the forest surrounding them. Now he could think without dealing with the wild mood swings of his bear. 

Moving slowly through the trees, Smokey let his senses savor the forest sounds and scents, reminding him of the many times spent with his grandfather learning the ways of the ancient ones. He kept that knowledge locked up, guarded against all who might seek to destroy it or use it for nefarious purposes. It was a part of him that had remained a secret—at least most of it—from even his two best friends.

But somehow Ghost had found out about some of it, which is why he’d insisted Smokey use it to save Harte. Thinking it over as his mind cleared in the peaceful surroundings of the forest, the impact of Ghost’s knowing about his power chilled him to the core. Not only did it expose him to danger, but it also compromised his friend—who couldn’t possibly know how vulnerable he might now be. Dammit! 

Continuing on the path, Smokey headed deeper into the forest, letting the shadows cool his agitation. Ghost’s knowledge would have to be handled soon, but there were other matters he needed to figure out first. Turning his attention to his mate, the image of Theo filled his mind, causing his bear to roar in approval. I agree…our mate is gorgeous…and brave…and smart! Everything he learned from Jackson told him the Fates had found him a mate worthy of sharing the world he was born into; the problem was Theo was already spoken for.

Fucking hell! Slamming his fist into the trunk of the nearest tree, Smokey howled in frustration, cursing the turn his life had taken. Nothing had ever been easy, so why did he expect his mating to be? Rubbing his fist, he resumed walking, concentrating on the questions Jackson asked him, questions he hadn’t been able to answer. 

He decided to start with the easiest one. Can you raise Theo’s cub even though you’re not the father? Smokey carefully examined his feelings and those of his bear and after talking it over with his animal, he knew the answer. Blood alone did not make a father, but the love he already felt for the cub certainly did. And the thought he might never get to show the cub his love caused a deep ache in his heart.

Trying to ignore it, Smokey moved on to the next question. Can you accept the father of the cub and welcome him into your mating? Listening to his bear growl in response, he knew it would be a problem—not for him, but definitely for his animal. That was the reason he couldn’t immediately give Jackson the assurances he was looking for. As far as he was concerned, he owed…what was his name? oh yeah, Norman…Norman for saving Theo’s life. According to Jackson, Norman was the reason his mate made it through the hell of Arald’s prison.

Pausing as the growls of his bear grew louder, Smokey gave his animal the finger, refusing to kowtow to his demands this time. It was rare for Smokey to stand up to his bear, but too much was at stake to give in. Finding a fallen tree trunk, he sat down on it and called to his animal’s spirit, seeking a meeting with him. Once the spirit appeared, Smokey closed his eyes and released control of his human spirit. Falling into a trance, he watched and listened as his spirit explained the issues to his bear’s spirit. Smokey knew the only way to gain his animal’s cooperation was if their spirits were in agreement. 

Lord Manetu - Mary Rundle

Mary Rundle has a new MM paranormal romance out, Blackwood Pack book 12: Lord Manetu. And there’s a giveaway.

This is part of a continuing series by Amazon Bestselling Author, Mary Rundle – reading the previous titles is advised. Readers will enjoy catching up with members of the Blackwood Pack and reading about what is happening to them as the pack does what it does best ̶ caring for one another and helping shifters everywhere.

Barely surviving Arald’s prison, Theo’s luck has finally changed. Discovering an unknown passion for cooking, he’s settled into his new life with his fiancé at the Blackwood Pack. He’s excited about tying the knot with Norm in the company of all their friends. It’s everything Norm promised him during their bleakest days of incarceration and he doesn’t think he can be any happier.

Waking up at Arald’s, Norm’s sole mission in life is to help his Fated Mate, Theo, survive the horrors inflicted on them both. Now free, he sets about to make all of Theo’s dreams come true, including the most important one, the cub his mate so dearly wants.

Smokey heads North to pick up Kevin’s parents and deliver them to the Blackwood Pack before hurrying back to LA. Easy-peasy…right? That’s what Smokey thinks but then, what is supposed to be a simple mission, turns into a race to avoid human hunters who have already shot Kevin’s father. Using his skills honed as a secret agent, Smokey manages to elude the hunters, heal the father’s wound and then successfully transport them to safety only to find the Fates have a surprise waiting for him.

After a series of misunderstandings and then with some help from Jackson, the pack’s Alpha, Theo and Norm finally accept Smokey as their mate and set upon a journey to unite the three of them. Discovering truths about their past lives leads to uncovering long-kept secrets that end up bonding Theo, Norm and Smokey together, giving each more love and happiness than they ever knew existed.

Astounding surprises, rare and unique gifts, an action-packed mission, and many unexpected twists and turns make this passionate love story by Mary Rundle impossible to put down once you’ve read the first page.

Get It On Amazon


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Peering into the underbrush to his left, Smokey found the glowing eyes of Ivan’s mountain lion staring back at him, waiting for the signal to attack. Then swiveling his head to the right, he found a pair of gleaming wolf eyes focused on him. Satisfied, he looked up through the branches of some huge pine trees, searching for Hawkeye, but the sky was empty. Huffing quietly, he turned his attention back to the three men in front of the cave where Kevin’s parents were holed up. Studying his preys’ body language, he deduced that the man on the left was the leader, while the other two were carrying out his orders.

Gesturing with one of his paws to Ivan, Smokey pointed out the man he was going to kill.

Ivan nodded, impressed by the giant paw with razor sharp claws.

Suddenly a hoarse screech broke the silence as a Red-Tail Hawk dive bombed the clearing at the mouth of the cave, causing the men surrounding it to scatter and duck. Before they could recover, a thunderous roar froze them in place.

Smokey’s bear rushed forward, his paw aimed at the leader, his four-inch claws easily piercing the man’s back. Ignoring the ear-splitting scream of pain, he clutched his prize then, pausing for a moment, he tore the man’s heart out. Swinging around, he saw Ivan’s mountain lion momentarily incapacitated by bear spray. Smokey’s eyes glowed red with anger as he aimed a paw at the man with the spray, his claws sinking deep into his stomach, eviscerating him. Scooping out his victim’s guts and scattering them on the ground, he then moved on to the next target.

Though all three men had now been killed, Smokey’s bear was still in a frenzy. Anger pulsed through him, demanding further revenge against those who dared hurt Kevin’s parents. Lifting up his head, Smokey’s bear roared again, silencing the forest as he broadcast his displeasure. Finally, after several more bellows, Smokey forced his bear into a shift and reclaimed his human form, his body still filled with adrenaline. Opening and closing his fists, Smokey slowed his breathing, calming himself. Standing in the clearing, he surveyed the bloody scene before turning to Ivan. “Anyone injured?”

Smirking, Ivan’s eyes lingered on the bodies of the men lying on the ground. “I’m assuming you don’t mean them. In that case, nope, other than a few scratches, everyone’s fine.”

“Smartass!” Before Smokey could say more, he heard Elen calling his name. Whirling around, he ran toward the cave, his gut tightening at the sound of panic in her voice. Once inside, he blinked several times until his eyes adjusted to the darkness, then spying Elen kneeling next to Harte, he rushed over to her. Dropping down beside her, he asked, “What happened?”

“He’s been shot and I can’t stop the bleeding, Gabriel.”

“Lemme see.” After Elen removed her hand from the blood-soaked cloth, Smokey gently lifted it, inhaling sharply at the still-bleeding wound. With the amount of blood Harte was losing, it was impossible for him to be moved. Replacing the bandage quickly, he said, “Here, press down as hard as you can.”

“Gabe, he needs to shift now. His heart has already stopped once.”

“I know…” Lifting his right hand, he extended a claw before cutting open his left wrist. Waiting a second until blood flowed from the wound, he put the open cut tightly against Harte’s mouth. “C’mon Harte…drink,” he muttered.

“Will it work?” asked Elen, trying to hide her fear.

“I don’t know…he’s weak.” Reaching down, with his right hand, he pinched Harte’s nose closed, hoping the lack of air would cause him to open his mouth. Waiting for Harte’s survival instinct to kick in felt like hours for Smokey, who was running through other options in his mind. But suddenly he felt a tugging at the cut as Harte started swallowing his blood. Removing his fingers from the man’s nose, Smokey was relieved to see the rise and fall of Harte’s chest as his breathing became steady.

Harte drank for several minutes before Smokey gently pulled his wrist away, licking his cut to seal it. “That should be enough for it to work,” he murmured, leaving the part ‘if it’s gonna work’ unsaid. There wasn’t any reason to stress out Elen anymore than she already was, especially since she was critical to her husband’s survival.

Glancing at the man she regarded as her second son, Elen softly said, “Thank you for coming, Gabriel.”

“No thanks needed,” Smokey smiled. “Kevin would kick my ass if I hadn’t.”

A shadow passed over Elen’s face at the mention of her son. “You haven’t found him yet.”

Placing his large hand over Elen’s delicate fingers, Smokey squeezed lightly. “No, but I will…promise.”

Author Bio

Mary Rundle logo

A few years ago, I wrote my first book, Dire Warning. Readers loved it and I was on my way to chronicle the Blackwood Pack, seven brothers who are gay wolf shifters in search of their fated mates—stories about love at first sight with twists and turns, angst and humor, romance and adventure and, of course, happy endings. Since then, the pack has expanded, allowing more stories to be told and different paranormals to be included. The series has become, as one reader described it…an “Epic Saga.”

Now, twelve books later, Lord Manetu, has just been published. I love the M/M paranormal genre because it gives my imagination a lot of territory in which to roam. My mind can really run wild and come up with some amazing stuff when it doesn’t have to stay inside the box. My story ideas come to me as if they were being channeled by my characters, all of whom I love (except for a few villains). They are eager to recount their lives, loves and adventures, and are not reluctant to let it all out when it comes to revealing steamy details. My writing style is free-wheeling and uninhibited and my readers tell me they love it that way; that it makes them feel like they’re right in on the action and a member of the Blackwood Pack.

I live in the Northeast and love the beautiful change of seasons, my husband, and our quirky calico cat, though not necessarily in that order. I read a lot (good for the mind) and love gardening (good for the soul). And I’m always happy to hear from my readers and can be reached through Facebook, my private Facebook Group, Twitter, Instagram, or my website.

Author Website: http://www.maryrundle.com

Author Facebook (Personal): https://www.facebook.com/maryrundle69

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Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/maryrundle69

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Author Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/author/maryrundle

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Better Latte Than Never by CC Bridges Blog Tour + Guest Post

When I start writing a book, I always seem to know one character better than the other. That means I have to work a little harder at getting to know the second character. I find that as I write the story, I learn more about the characters, and then I usually have to go back and revise the beginning with what I’ve learned.

It was no different when writing “Better Latte Than Never.” When I started writing this book, I really got Finn. He is, after all, like me, a writer.

But there is more to Finn than that. 

Finn writes incredibly popular books under the pen name Morgan Heart. All of his novels are tragic love stories, where one half of the couple always dies at the end. Originally his first novel had a happy ending, but before he submitted it, he went back and changed it. Why? Because it’s not realistic.

Finn doesn’t believe in happy endings. 

In “Better Latte Than Never”, he confesses to Enzo why. His own parents had the greatest love story he’d ever seen, only for his mother to die young of cancer. His father never recovered from her loss, dying of a heart attack a few years later. This tragedy shaped Finn, made him the person he is today, writing his parents story over and over, although he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it.

Finn has a bubble around his own heart. He expects every relationship he has to fail. He keeps looking for the cracks, knowing an ending must come at some point. Because of this, he never lets himself relax, knowing something tragic is going to happen. He’s so focused on the ending, that sometimes he sees problems where there aren’t any.

When I started writing, I knew I had this poor shattered character, someone walking around with a broken heart but unwilling to do anything about it. Who could heal his heart? 

That’s where Enzo steps in. I knew he had to be completely different, that he had to shine a light on all of Finn’s shadows. But at first, I didn’t know who he was other than he worked in the coffee shop.

It became very clear that Enzo was an artist. And in contrast to Finn, he had absolutely no problems with his own creativity. In fact, his art is how Enzo sees the world. He frequently thinks of things in shades of paint.

Enzo doesn’t immediately heal Finn’s heart. No, first he heals his soul, opening Finn to a new world of creativity, bringing him back to the time before his writer’s block. 

But Enzo isn’t just Finn’s muse. In a now deleted line from my first draft, I have Enzo angrily tell Finn he’s “not his manic pixie dream boy.” Enzo has his own dreams and problems. He’s estranged from his parents. His best friend and roommate is moving out. He’s got to figure out if he wants a real 9 to 5 job or if he wants to keep trying to make it with his art. And that’s when Finn steps into his life and turns everything upside down.

I hope you check out “Better Latte Than Never” to see how these two manage to make it work, and the incredible art they make together.


CC Bridges has a new MM contemporary romance out: Better Latte Than Never. And there’s a giveaway.

Finn’s love stories always end in death.

He’s made millions writing as author Morgan Heart and his fans can’t get enough of his tragic love stories. But a bad breakup results in a killer case of writer’s block, and Finn needs to try something drastic to fix it, like. . .going to a coffee shop to write. There’s got to be a reason it’s a cliche, and in his world, cliches sell.

He shouldn’t be flirting with the hot, younger barista. He shouldn’t be using said beautiful barista as another character to kill off in his new book. And he sure as hell shouldn’t be getting his heart involved, especially since he’s still keeping his real identity secret.

Working at his aunt’s coffee shop is a temporary thing. . . that’s been going on for eight years now. One day soon Enzo is finally going to make it big with his art and move on. But when Finn walks into the cafe – confident, mature, put together, everything Enzo is not – he can’t help developing a huge crush, even if Finn is a customer.

As their relationship deepens, Finn’s deceptions and Enzo’s insecurities threaten to undermine everything they are starting to build together. If they can each confront their inner demons, then Finn might be writing a happy ending for the first time in his life.

Better Latte Than Never is an m/m age gap, coffee shop romance featuring a slow burn attraction that grows steamier than an espresso machine.

Warnings: Mention of partner betrayal, death of character’s parents in the past

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Better Latte Than Never meme

Yeah, the cafe was so damn predictable. Except for this new guy.

Enzo downed his cake and tossed the plate into the trash. He should really square up with his aunt before she left for the day. Still. What if the guy left before Enzo could say anything? He’d make his rounds with the regulars after, but right now, Enzo couldn’t contain his curiosity about the stranger.

He threw on his apron and sauntered over to the corner where the stranger sat half-hidden behind a laptop. If this went wrong, Enzo could claim he’d come over to offer a refill. Not to, you know, see if the guy’s smoldering look when Enzo had walked in the door meant anything.

“Hey.” Enzo cleared his throat. “Thanks for coming to my birthday party.”

The guy looked up from his computer, those gorgeous eyes moving slowly upward in a way that made Enzo want to blush. His jaw was straight and covered with a smattering of stubble. Enzo wanted to rub his hands along it and enjoy the feel of the soft roughness against his fingertips…and in other places. There was an adorable sprinkle of freckles across his sloped nose. But his lips—perfect and pink and a bit too full for a man—were what made Enzo’s thoughts move straight into the gutter.

“It was my pleasure. Enzo, right? I’m Finn.” He held out his hand.

Enzo took it, squeezing tightly. Finn had a firm handshake, but his palm was soft and warm against Enzo’s. When he pulled away, Enzo curled his hand into a fist, wanting to savor that feeling.

“Finn? Is that a nickname?”

“It’s short for Finnegan.”

“Ah, a nice Italian name.” Enzo grinned and, happily, Finn laughed at his joke.

“What brings you to our cafe?” He winced at how terrible that sounded. Apparently Enzo completely forgot how to flirt when it was a customer he thought was hot. He could charm the old ladies like nobody’s business, but a cute guy? Nope.

Finn nodded at his laptop. “Came for the Wi-Fi and stayed for the coffee. And then the surprise party.”

He picked up his fork and stabbed the last piece of cake left on his plate. “This cake is amazing.”

“Everything my aunt bakes is amazing.” Enzo watched the bit of chocolate make its way to Finn’s mouth and the sensual way his lips closed around the metal of the fork. That shouldn’t be turning Enzo on right now, but God, if he didn’t want to follow that piece of cake with his own tongue against Finn’s lips.

“So what do you make that’s amazing?” Finn asked with a wink, and that was when Enzo knew they were in business, or at least on the same wavelength.

He could feel the blush creeping up his cheeks. “I don’t bake, but I do brew a mean cup of espresso.” “I’d love to have a taste.”

“You’ve got—” Enzo gestured to his own face. A smear of chocolate had found its way to Finn’s chin.

“Here.” He picked up a napkin from the table and brushed it away.

Finn took the napkin, his fingers tangling with Enzo’s for a moment. His eyes were smoldering. “Thank you.”

Author Bio

CC Bridges spent her childhood visiting other worlds in books, comics, and the starship Enterprise. It’s no surprise that she ended up a librarian, being surrounded by the books she loves so much. She writes about amazing worlds with honorable heroes. Her hobbies include paying money to get locked in a room for an hour so she can solve puzzles to escape, along with the aforementioned reading. She lives with her husband and son on the Jersey Shore. She is currently pursuing an MFA from Southern New Hampshire University

Author Website: https://www.ccbridges.net

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

Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/ccbridges10

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Blog Tour: Try the Tofu (Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat Book 4) by Karenna Colcroft Guest Post + Promotional Post

My Co-Writers

Some writers have human co-writers with whom they work on books, or at least are friends with other humans who help them with the writing process. I do have human writing friends.

I also have cats. Two of them. Both of whom watch me judgmentally every time I sit down to write anything. Or look at social media. Or watch TV. Actually, they watch me judgmentally anytime I do anything other than feeding them…

In the photo you can see them judging me for wanting to take their picture. The tortoiseshell is Shinobi; the tuxedo cat is Moony. Shinobi is as old as my writing career; we got her as a kitten in May 2009, while my first book was published in March of that year. We’ve had Moony since March 2014. (NOTE to blog host: Insert attached photo here and delete this sentence, please.)

Like many pet owners, I talk to my cats. Including about plot points in my books. They aren’t usually very helpful in figuring things out, though. Their ideas simply aren’t useful.

Writing can be a very solitary profession. One sits at their computer day after day hoping coherent words come out of their fingers and onto the screen. As a writer, I wrangled with plots, with the characters—who can be even more stubborn and judgmental than my cats sometimes—and with the realization that once I finish writing, I have to edit the dang thing. While I do have friends, and know other writers, and have friends who are writers, most of the time I’m on my own doing this.

Except for the cats. While they do occasionally wander off to chase each other, grab a snack, or, in Moony’s case, chirp at the birds congregating outside my window, they’re always here. They aren’t big fans of the fact that I write about werewolves, though they give me disdainful looks when I suggest werecats instead, but nonetheless they stick by me, as long as I remember to feed them.

I wonder if Kyle Slidell, the vegan werewolf in my Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat series, would want a pet cat? Then again, his mate Tobias probably wouldn’t let him have one…

As with all of my books, my revising and re-editing of the just-released updated version of Try the Tofu (Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat 4) was accomplished with the help and encouragement of Moony and Shinobi. I hope their fur didn’t get stuck in the pages.

Try the Tofu - Karenna Colcroft

Karenna Colcroft has a new MM paranormal romance out, Real Werewolves Don’t Eat Meat book 4: Try the Tofu. And there’s a giveaway.

As Alpha Tobias Rogan and his mate Kyle Slidell prepare to travel to the regional Alpha gathering, Tobias receives a threatening phone call. If he brings his mate to the gathering, Kyle will not return to Boston. But stubborn Kyle, believing the threat is actually against Tobias, refuses to stay home.

Tobias’s foreboding is proven correct when a visiting stranger challenges Zane Wolfskin, Arkhon of the Northeast Region, to a fight for rank–and wins. Tobias and his allies learn that the challenge was part of a larger plan to destroy their region, something Tobias will not allow. To prevent disaster, Tobias must challenge the new Arkhon himself. But can he survive the attempt?

Warnings: reference to past sexual abuse and trauma, PTSD, violence

About the Series:

Kyle Slidell didn’t move to Boston expecting to be changed into a werewolf. But that’s what happened. He can’t control whether he shifts at the full moon, but he can damn sure continue being vegan–even in wolf form.

Tobias Rogan, Alpha of Boston North Pack, never expected to fall in love with anyone, let alone a man. A male Alpha is not supposed to have a male partner. But when he meets Kyle, he’s immediately attracted. And after Kyle is changed, Tobias realizes the truth: Kyle is not only his partner, but his mate.

The werewolf world isn’t a simple place, and Kyle and Tobias are thrown into the middle of conflict within and among the packs of the United States–a conflict that extends all the way to the top of the werewolf hierarchy. Can they and their love survive what they face?

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I entered our room and closed the door. Kyle flopped down on the bed again. “Sleep.”

“Food,” I said. “Plus our bags will be here any second, so you wouldn’t be able to get much sleep.” I sat on the bed beside him. “What you said earlier.”

“Yeah.” He sat up and took my hand. “I love you. Things have been rough as hell on both of us the past few months, and sometimes it’s hard not to think that they’ve been rough because of us. But we didn’t make bad things happen, and I wouldn’t have gotten through everything if it hadn’t been for you. I don’t want to lose you.”

“I love you too.” My heart melted. No matter how much I wanted to shut him out, I didn’t know whether I would ever actually be able to do it. We had been through hell, no question, with all the times I’d almost lost him, not to mention my own brush with death. But we’d faced it together. He’d brought back a part of me I hadn’t even realized existed, let alone missed, until he made me aware of how long I’d lived without it.

That didn’t mean I was ready to let go of the idea that we might be better off apart. A lot would depend on what happened over the next several days. I couldn’t stand the prospect of him being in danger, and if things went as badly as they had the last time we’d come to Zane’s, I would have some serious decisions to make.

“Tobias, don’t,” he said softly. “Please don’t think about the bad things. We’re here together in our honeymoon suite.” He chuckled. “Zane put us here for a reason, you know. I don’t know if you’ve talked to him about us or if he just figured something out the way he seems to do, but he had an ulterior motive for giving us this room.”

“Yeah, he probably did.” I had to smile at that. Zane was not only tolerant of one of his alphas having a male mate, he wholeheartedly supported the idea. In September, he’d treated Kyle and me the same as any other mated pair, and that meant more than I could express. Just as some werewolves were stuck in the past when it came to the idea of a woman being in charge, some were mired in prejudice and hatred of those who were “different.” Pretty ironic considering that werewolves were different by definition.

But for Zane, Kyle and I weren’t different. He wouldn’t accept any hatred toward us from any other attendees of the gathering, and if he suspected Kyle and I were having problems, it wouldn’t be surprising for him to try to fix them.

“There’s going to be a lot going on.” Kyle moved closer against me. “I know you’ll be busy with all the meetings and things, and I know you have a lot on your mind. But please, Tobias, while we’re here, let’s try to spend some time on us. I want things to be good again.”

“Yeah, me too.”

I put my arm around him and held him tightly. My mate. My lover. The man who had changed my life for the better, bringing me so many good things I’d been missing without even realizing it. I loved him, even if things weren’t great between us right then. He was right to have insisted on coming with me. We could spend time together and try to make things better.

Back in Boston, I had to attend to the pack’s needs. Here, even though I would have to sit in meetings that dealt with anything from changes in protocol to sorting out which pack had the right to hunt deer near the Kancamagus Highway in New Hampshire, I didn’t have to be in charge, and that meant I might have time to actually talk to Kyle. And to listen.

We both turned at the same time and our mouths were together before we had time to think. His tongue touched my lips, and I opened to let him in. The kiss was both tender and rough and sent heat and arousal through to my core.

Author Bio

Karenna Colcroft

Karenna Colcroft lives just north of Boston, Massachusetts, and has been in love with the city since childhood, though she has yet to encounter any werewolves, vampires, or other paranormal beings in her travels. At least none that she knows of. Though since in her non-writing life, under another name, she offers services as a channel and energy healing practitioner, it could be said that she herself is a paranormal being. The jury’s still out on that.

Karenna is a polyamorous, nonbinary human who splits time between the home she shares with her husband and the one she shares with her committed partner. She also has two adult children and a bonus son, three grandchildren, and two and a half cats. (Half in terms of time the cat lives with her, not in terms of the cat itself…)

Find out more about Karenna online at http://www.karennacolcroft.com or https://www.facebook.com/KarennaColcroft. You can also sign up to receive a free short story, and be added to Karenna’s mailing list, at https://karennacolcroft.com/get-your-free-short-story/.

Author Website: https://karennacolcroft.com

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

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

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Blog Tour: Head over Feels by Bix Barrow + Excerpt

Head Over Feels - Bix Barrow

Bix Barrow has a new MM contemporary romance out (gay, pan): Head Over Feels. And there’s a giveaway.

A luscious pet massage therapist, a gorgeous but grumpy ex-FBI agent, and glitter bombs gone deadly…


I shouldn’t be jealous of my cat. I am, though. Her pet massage therapist (who knew that was even a thing?) is exactly my type. Smart, funny, and adorable with just the right amount of meat on his bones.

But a guy like that deserves more than a grouchy forty-something ex-FBI agent with a broken body and a screwed-up brain. I’m shocked when he offers a no-strings night together, though I don’t think twice before I’m all in.

I should’ve known better, because one night will never be enough. But before I can ask Felix for more, our awkward morning after turns explosive. And not in a good way

Now I just have to keep Felix alive long enough to catch the bomber. And to capture Felix’s heart.


What would happen if everyone you’d ever dated got together and plotted against you?

For me, it’s glitter bombs. Lots and lots of glitter bombs.

Okay, maybe I deserved the first one or two. Or three. But I’ve learned from my mistakes and I’m a better person now. I definitely don’t deserve the latest bomb—this one isn’t made of glitter. Now I’m in hiding with Malcolm, the smokin’ hot older client I just had a sizzling one-night stand with.

Malcolm might be grumpy and prickly, but to me he’s also warm, caring, and romantic. My exes can’t hold a candle to him. But all that glitters is not gold. The bomber still wants me dead, and I’m pretty sure the police arrested the wrong guy.

If Malcolm and I want our HEA, we have to identify the real culprit. I just hope it all doesn’t blow up in our faces.

Head Over Feels is a low-angst MM contemporary romance. Come for the grumpy/sunshine, forced proximity (but there are two beds, sorry), hurt/comfort, and found family. Stay for the bombs (glitter and real), the 1985 Buick Riviera convertible, dreams coming true, atoning for past mistakes, game nights, a dead body, and an online date gone very, very, wrong. HEA guaranteed!

Warnings: PTSD symptoms, bomb explosion, off-page murder, recount of dog euthanasia

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Head Over Feels meme

(from Felix’s POV)

I was still furious at Jaime’s holier-than-thou attitude about pet massage therapy. Where did he get off thinking he could judge me? At least I’d be helping animals and their owners. He built skyscrapers for rich jerks.

If I winced a little thinking my ex-dates would have a very similar opinion about me if they found out I’d held them up for the world to laugh at, well, that was no one’s business but my own.


Anger and guilt were fighting in my gut as I clomped up the stairs and down the hall, turning the corner to reach my apartment. A small box sat in front of my door. Usually the apartment complex sent an email when I had a package delivered, but maybe one of my neighbors had picked it up by mistake.

I checked, and it was addressed to me. Someone is thinking about you was plastered across the outside of the box on colorful tape.

Could it be from my grandma? Sometimes she sent cookies. I’d been planning to spend the rest of the night on the couch with a bottle of cheap vodka, but cookies would be a welcome addition to help drown my feelings. The night was looking up at last.

After dumping my wallet and keys on the kitchen counter, I rooted around in my junk drawer for a pair of shears to open the package with. Inside the outer box was another box tied with curly multicolored ribbon. Thinking of you, said the sticker on the lid.

Smiling, I lifted out the smaller box and tugged on the ribbon.

The box burst open. I flinched back and yelled as a shower of glitter exploded all over the kitchen. And me.

“Ugh!” I spat into the sink to get the glitter out of my mouth. I tried to wipe my face on my sleeve, but my shirt was covered in it too. Luckily I hadn’t gotten any in my eyes, but it was crusted on my eyelids and in my beard.

I swiped at my head to get it out of my hair. The glitter rained down on the counter. Silver glitter. Gold glitter. Red, blue, green glitter.

It covered the counter and the kitchen floor. I didn’t have to look to know it had spread over the opposite side of the counter onto the living room carpet.

Freaking fantastic.

I brushed my hands together to get the worst of it off, then I studied the remains of the box. A spring had powered the little explosion. I found a notecard underneath the glitter and pulled it out. One side of the card showed a drawing of a tree and proclaimed, Our glitter is non-toxic and biodegradable! On the other side someone had handwritten, This is the least you deserve.

It wasn’t signed.

I flashed to my ex-dates. Surely not. I mean, what were the odds they would’ve seen Felicia in the City, much less recognized themselves.

Shaking my head, I set about washing the glitter off my hands, cleaning as much as I could from the counter and the floor, then running my ancient vacuum cleaner over the living room carpet.

I couldn’t think of anyone I’d aggravated recently. Except Jaime, of course. Not to mention his boyfriend. But the timing wasn’t right. I snorted to myself. If anyone deserved a glitter bomb, it was Jaime.

The kitchen was as clean as it was going to get, at least tonight. I went into the bathroom and stood in the tub to take my clothes off. Biodegradable meant it could go down the drain, right? Showering was a relief. The glitter had been starting to itch.

After putting on a t-shirt and pajama pants, I flopped down on the couch. I was exhausted but too wired to sleep yet. Groaning, I heaved myself up again and trudged to the kitchen. After pouring myself a generous vodka with a hint of tonic, I shuffled back to the couch and sank into the cushions.

With the kitchen light on, the carpet sparkled from embedded glitter. The vacuum hadn’t done much to get it out.

I slugged back about a third of my vodka tonic, then I picked up my phone to text Cal.

Me: My date was cheating on his boyfriend. And when I got home someone had sent me a glitter bomb.

Little dots appeared almost immediately, so I sipped my drink somewhat more sedately while I waited.

Cal: WTF, man? I hope u gave ur friend Cole shit about it. Do u know who sent the glitter bomb?

Me: I did and no, no idea. The note said “This is the least you deserve”

Cal: I hate to bring this up again, but how about those guys u dated who ended up on Felicia in the City?

Me: Marcie changed their names, and the show’s set in a different town

Cal: Well, I didn’t have anything to do last night, so I binged the first season. How many guys have model train tracks throughout their entire house and can’t sleep without it running? And how many guys show photos of their ex to their date and cry about him?

Well, fuck. Trent, the train guy, would definitely recognize himself. Or his friends would. And if you saw the episode with the guy crying over photos of his ex—who was very much alive, mind you—you might remember the appetizer in question was calamari. Something Marcie had kept consistent with my real date, since she liked how I’d described it as crying in the calamari. I hadn’t considered it might be a clue for Xavier to recognize himself on the show.

And none of the guys would have a hard time figuring out it was me who told their stories.

Me: Crap, you might be right

Cal: Well whichever of those guys did it, hopefully sending the glitter bomb got it out of their system

Me: I hope so

I rubbed my chest, frowning. Maybe letting Marcie pay me to use the stories from my dates hadn’t been the nicest thing I could’ve done.


Author Bio

When Bix Barrow got an idea for her first book, it ended up turning into her second — and thus the first two stories in the Bent Oak, Texas series emerged. An aspiring author for most of her life, it took a foray into the MM romance genre to spark the steamy scenes and blazing banter Bix now weaves into her novels. Accompanying her on her writing exploits are her two dogs and multitude of cats (seven at last count). An avid traveler, Bix has started to view her expeditions as interviews for her future home. Born and raised in Texas, she is eager to move somewhere with fewer politicians, hurricanes and flooding. Connect with Bix at http://www.bixbarrow.com

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

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Book Excerpt

Head Over Feels

by Bix Barrow

Unique Excerpt

(Felix’s POV)

My alarm went off too early for my taste. The insistent buzzing broke me out of a deep sleep, and I woke confused about where I was for a moment. I’d been sleeping with my face pressed into a pillow, and I blinked as I sat up and glanced around. Malcolm wasn’t in the bed, and the sheets next to me were cold. 

The room was a little stark, but it could’ve been due to Malcolm not having lived in the house very long. The bed had a black metal headboard with two crossbars. The comforter was white with a black swirling pattern and a significant swath of dark brown cat hair. There was no rug on the hardwood floor, and a tall black chest of drawers was the only other piece of furniture in the room. I guessed Malcolm didn’t spend much time in here.

I picked up my phone and thumbed off the alarm. I had a couple of hours before I needed to be at the rescue ranch.

Malcolm appeared in the doorway, wearing some ancient-looking sweatpants and no shirt. His hair was damp. I spared a brief regret for missing an opportunity to suggest sharing the shower. 

“Hey,” he said. His face was almost expressionless. Fuck, was he going to be awkward again? I would’ve liked to take a moment to appreciate his furry chest, but not if he wasn’t into it, so I kept my eyes trained on his face. I was acutely conscious of my nakedness under the sheet, and not in a sexy way. 

“When do you need to leave?” Malcolm asked. “I can make breakfast.”

Breakfast? Would that be weird? But he was offering, and I didn’t want to make it weird if he wasn’t weirded out. I wished I could tell what he was thinking. 

“Um, sure. I don’t have a set appointment, but I need to go home and change before I drive out to… a ranch outside of town this morning sometime.” Jason had asked me to come over and look at an elderly alpaca they’d taken in. She had a limp, and Doc Pinkerton said it was a muscle strain.

Malcolm gave a sharp nod. “I should head to the office early as well. Feel free to use the shower. Come to the kitchen when you’re done.” He pivoted on his cane and then vanished down the hallway.

Well, okay. Were we supposed to pretend we hadn’t seen each other naked? I mean, I didn’t expect any boyfriend-y behavior like kissing me awake or bringing me coffee in bed. But after a night of hot sex, a guy likes to at least be ogled a little the next morning, you know?

My clothes had been folded neatly and placed on the chest of drawers. I showered as quickly as I could, then got dressed. Maybe it’d be better to skip breakfast and take off. 

But when I found Malcolm in the kitchen, he’d already plated our food. Eggs, bacon and toast. Coffee was already poured, milk and sugar displayed prominently to the side. 

“Come eat,” he ordered, shoving one of the chairs back for me. 

Well, I was hungry. Internally shrugging, I sat. “Thanks.” I’d eat as quickly as possible and then bolt.

Mariposa sauntered in. After winding herself around my ankles a couple of times, she jumped up into the chair to my left. I raised my eyebrows and glanced at Malcolm, but he ignored me. He forked up a bit of egg from his plate and held it out to Mariposa. She daintily accepted the offering, and Malcolm withdrew his fork and began eating again. 

“Um, you know cats lick themselves everywhere, don’t you?”

Malcolm shrugged and sipped his coffee. One eyebrow went up as if in challenge. “You know some men lick their lovers everywhere, don’t you?” 

He’d barely spoken to me all morning, and now he was making sex jokes? Screw that noise. I glared at him. “There’s no reason last night has to make things awkward, Malcolm.”

He sighed and looked down at his plate, then back up at me. “Yeah, I know. Sorry.” He cleared his throat. “It’s just… been a while for me. I’m out of practice or something.” 

“We’re good,” I reassured him. “It was only casual. Nobody’s expecting any commitments.”

He nodded, and we both focused on finishing our breakfasts. At least the tension in the air had eased a little.

After we’d eaten, Malcolm rinsed the plates and put them in the dishwasher before grabbing his car keys. “Let’s go out the side door here.”

“Sure.” I picked up my messenger bag from the living room, checked my phone was in my pocket, and followed him out to the carport.

We stepped out into the humid morning air. Mockingbirds called to each other, drowning out every other bird who might have wanted to greet the day. I wandered over to look Malcolm’s giant convertible while he shut the door and locked it. 

“Felix,” he said. I turned to look back at him. “I wanted to—” 

I caught sight of my sedan at the end of the driveway. “Fucking hell!” I shouted. “Are you kidding me!” I ran toward the car. 

Sitting on the roof, right over the driver’s door, was a small brown cardboard box.

Blog Tour: West on Grainger by KC Burn + Book Excerpt

COVER - West on Grainger

KC Burn has a new MM Paranormal book out (gay, bi): West on Grainger. And there’s a giveaway.

Is Sandy Bottom Bay truly full of ghosts?

Wendell Weston is in a slump. Paranormal stories are his life. His income. His sole focus for as long as he can remember, not that he actually believes any of it is real. His obsession has complicated his love life, but for the most part, he hasn’t minded. But now his muse has gone quiet. In search of inspiration, he flies across the country to the purportedly haunted bed and breakfast, just before Haunt Fest. Soured on romance by the cynicism and superficiality of the Hollywood actors he works with, he’s not expecting a chance encounter with an attractive man to go anywhere.

But Kyle Grainger isn’t just a pretty face. He also hosts local ghost walks. The closest thing to an expert Wendell has encountered, and with any luck, Kyle will lead him to a spectral encounter. Before long, Wendell realizes he wants to follow Kyle anywhere, ghost or not. As a true skeptic, Wendell doesn’t believe he’ll see a ghost for real, but he’s going to have fun trying. Especially with Kyle. One of the many local legends will surely trigger his muse, but in the meantime, getting to know a sweet, mesmerizing man would make the trip worthwhile.

Wouldn’t it be amazing to encounter a ghost?

That’s what Kyle thinks every time he hosts another ghost walk in Sandy Bottom Bay. Not once in hundreds of tours has he seen one, but he remains hopeful. Kyle hasn’t had a lot of amazing in his life. After an injury in college, he had to pivot on his life’s dream. He’s content, more or less, professionally. His romantic dry spell, on the other hand, could turn the Everglades into the Sahara. Wendell is an unexpected pleasure, one Kyle hopes is more than a Haunt Fest hookup.

What if the ghost isn’t harmless?

After one of the other guests at the local bed and breakfast dies suddenly, Wendell and Kyle experience a number of odd occurrences that suggest Kyle might be more sensitive to spirits than either of them imagined. If Wendell can’t shake his skepticism about the paranormal, Kyle’s sanity and even his life could be the price they pay.

Warnings: self harm (appears off page), references to murder

Universal Buy Link


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

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West on Grainger Meme

A crash broke the silence, shattering the sense that they were alone in the world together.

In unison, they both stood up, Wendell’s heart pounding as he strained to listen.

“Did someone fall? Should I call the police or an ambulance?” He couldn’t hear any cries of pain or pleas for help.

Kyle darted his gaze around. “It sounded more like something fell? Not heavy enough for a person, I don’t think.”

True. And maybe not thump-y enough to be a body hitting the ground. But better safe than sorry.

“I need to check this out”.

“I’ll come with you.”

Wendell smiled gratefully at Kyle. He’d much rather not be alone if there was an emergency. He snatched up his phone and keyring, then led Kyle into the lobby.

“Where do you think it came from? Upstairs?”

Kyle shrugged. “Maybe. But it sounded closer than that. I think.”

He hoped he wouldn’t have to start knocking on doors. Like Kyle said, it didn’t sound loud enough to be a human body, but if someone was hurt in their suite, well, he had a responsibility for that, didn’t he?

They peeked into the tea room and the main dining room, both of which were dim and obviously empty. Wendell flicked on lights but that only confirmed that the rooms were empty and undisturbed, ready to serve guests tomorrow first thing.

“Library’s next.” Then the game room. Then opening unoccupied rooms. Not long before he’d have to figure out if he had to start knocking on doors. Pretty much the last thing he wanted to do.

Kyle nodded, and gestured for Wendell to proceed.

Wendell flicked a switch by the door and various tabletop lamps flickered to life, filling the room with a serene yellow glow. This particular room had no windows—the one existing window had been blocked up at some point to accommodate the later addition of a fireplace—and as such, always required lighting.

Wendell strode into the room, almost at the far wall, when he spotted it.

“This must be it.” He turned back to Kyle, who hovered in the doorway. “Is something wrong?”

An indecipherable expression crossed Kyle’s face, before he sucked in a breath and walked into the room.

“Nothing’s wrong.”

“Uh. Okay.” Something definitely was, but Wendell wasn’t about to poke his new friend about something sensitive. “Anyone else here?” Wendell called out.

“Don’t say that,” Kyle said from just inside the doorway.

“Why not?”

Kyle rolled his eyes. “This town is full of ghosts. You don’t want to accidentally invite one in.”

Wendell’s eyes widened. “For real?”

“Eh. I don’t know. I’ve never seen a ghost, but Eddie—he’s a medium—and he says stuff like that all the time.”

Wendell made a mental note to seek him out at some point during his stay. Interviewing a ‘real’ medium would be excellent research.

Then Kyle approached close enough to see what Wendell had found. “What the hell happened here?”

It looked like someone had swept an arm across an entire shelf of books, sweeping them to the floor, along with some sort of ceramic sculpture, which lay in shards on the floor amongst the haphazard pile of hardcover books. This had to be the source of the crashing sound they’d heard.

Wendell frowned. “If we were back home, I’d assume we’d had an earthquake, and these books hadn’t been shelved securely or something. But you don’t get quakes out here, do you?”

Kyle shrugged. “Not that I’ve ever heard of. I guess there’s a first time for everything, but wouldn’t we have felt an earthquake strong enough to dump books off their shelves? I’ve never been in an earthquake.”

“Yeah, we definitely would have noticed that.”

“Kids, then? A stupid prank?”

Wendell chewed at his bottom lip. “Think there’s any way outsiders, like kids from the town, could easily get in here and do this? Although I have no idea why they would.”

“The Lady isn’t exactly Fort Knox, but I also don’t see any reason why anyone, kids or not, would sneak in here to do this. And it’s not like there aren’t any security measures.”

“Yeah, I know. So weird.” But it wasn’t a prison. Any number of employees, past and present, could have either gotten around the current security. Maybe it had been a localized weather phenomenon?

And just like that, Wendell could believe it was a freak weather thing as a gust of chilly air swept across his neck.

Kyle also rubbed his arms. “It’s cold in here.”

One of the table lamps nearby flickered, then the bulb blew with a sharp pop.

Kyle yelled, and clutched at his chest. Wendell flinched, then curled a lip at the shards of lightbulb glass that had been added to the mess on the floor.

“Can you grab me a broom or something to clean this up? I’ll start putting the books back.”

Within minutes, the mess had been cleared up but the vibe between him and Kyle was still weird.

“You sure you’re okay?” Wendell asked as they returned to the lobby.

The question got him a big sigh. “It’s stupid but I’ve never liked that room. I don’t know why.”

“Haunted? The Orange Lady?” Wendell could not be that lucky. But Kyle snorted and rolled his eyes.

“Not hardly. I don’t think there have ever been any sightings of her in the library. Besides, I’m sure I’m not sensitive to ghosts, or I would have seen one at least once during the many, many ghost tours I’ve done.”

“And you don’t think hating a room for no good reason might be a haunting?”

Kyle smirked, and Wendell smiled back, relieved to see Kyle’s good mood returning.

“Nope. It’s probably something wonky in the proportion of the rooms and it’s messing with my equilibrium or something. Maybe asbestos.”

“Asbestos?” That was the sort of horror story Wendell was not interested in living. Not a tiny bit. “Wouldn’t there have been inspections or something to correct that?”

“I’m just kidding. But I wasn’t kidding when I said that room hadn’t been changed since the house was built.”

“Original? That’s pretty cool, actually. What about the rest of the place?”

“The guest rooms upstairs are mostly original too.”

“I suppose so.” Nevertheless, the mental gears that Wendell had feared were rusted over for good had, well, they hadn’t started moving. Nothing as solid as a faint idea. But this simple discussion tweaked something in his mind. Like it was lubing his gears, or scrubbing away the rust. Preparing for work. Too soon for hope yet, but if he relaxed and let it happen, he might be able to coax his muse back.

“And I guess you haven’t seen the Orange Lady, have you?”

“Nope. But I haven’t been here overnight, either. She doesn’t show herself during the day, or so I’m told.”

Kyle’s phone buzzed and he pulled it out of a tight pocket.

“I have to get ready or I’m going to be late for my tour.” Kyle grabbed his bag and swanned into the employee bathroom.

Shortly after, Kyle emerged wearing the same pirate-esque outfit he’d worn the previous night, except this time his eyeliner was thicker and more dramatic.

Butterflies swooped and soared in Wendell’s belly. Kyle was just so beautiful. Too beautiful for a writer nerd like him.

That didn’t stop those damned butterflies.

Author Bio

KC Burn

KC Burn is a Canadian transplanted to Florida who writes happy-ever-afters about men loving men, whether they’re psychics, space travelers, aliens, professors, construction workers, cops, amateur sleuths… you name it, she’ll probably write it. She’s got a pair of black cats, aka muses/nuisances, and a supportive, understanding hubby.

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Book Excerpt

Kyle stood under the shade of an old oak tree and watched Wendell peer at the engravings on various gravestones. One of his teachers had brought his class on a field trip here to do rubbings of gravestones and something else historical related, but he didn’t recall anything of significance, historical or otherwise, in the gravestones they looked at. But he’d rather hang out in this cemetery than the library at the Lady. Perhaps he was just allergic to books that weren’t on his Kindle. 

Wendell would occasionally pause and take a picture of various stones, rub away some of the moss, or pull back creeping ivy. 

He could hardly believe Wendell had blurted out that he wanted to start dating. Amazed and thrilled, but so surprised. Sure, Wendell was only in town for a short amount of time, but that could be a good thing. A test run. Or, if things went well… no, he wasn’t going to leap ahead like he often did. He was going to be chill. Take things as they came. Be a normal person. The complete opposite of what he’d been when Wendell had asked about Eddie. 

A breeze from the ocean ruffled Wendell’s hair and he brushed it out of his face in a distracted manner. Definitely more intense than the average tourist, but maybe not as intense as some of the hardcore paranormalists?

“What made you come to Sandy Bottom Bay?” Kyle wandered over to the tombstone Wendell was crouched over. He wasn’t going to stay out in the sun long. It might be edging into autumn but the sun was still strong and Kyle had not applied his heavy-duty sunscreen this morning, since he’d anticipated hanging out at the store most of the day. 

“Oh, well, I saw an episode of this show, Phantoms?”

Kyle’s earlier anger came boiling back. “Oh really?”

Wendell rocked back on his heels and stared up at Kyle, who had been unable to hide his ire about the host and the damage that man had nearly done to people he cared about. 

“You don’t like Phantoms?”

“The host is a total jerk and I refuse to even speak his name.”

“Agreed, he’s a total jerk. Did you meet him when he was filming here?”

“Yes, and I hope to never repeat the experience. He needs to drop off the face of the earth.”  

Wendell laughed. “I could get behind that.” 

“How do you know he’s an jerk? I mean, he seems so charming on the show. It was a real disappointment to find out how self-centered he is in person.”

Wendell stared at him for a moment before standing. “We’re going to try dating, right? We agreed to that? I mean, I’m only here for a few months, but I don’t really like casual, and I’d like to see how it goes.”

“Yes…” Although Kyle had no idea how those two ideas were connected. “I’m interested in that too. If it’s a vacation fling, that’s fine. If it gets more serious than that, we can talk long distance stuff later.”

Wendell nodded and blew out a breath. “And no one told you what I’m doing here?”

“You’re helping out at the inn. That’s all I’ve heard.” And somehow, it had never come up in their recent text conversations.

This time, Wendell’s laugh was rueful. “I honestly thought the small town gossip network functioned better than this.”

“Well, I heard that you were coming long before you got here.” Kyle frowned. “But it sounds like you’ve… got a secret?”

“It’s not really a secret. But I guess it could change things. I probably should have told you earlier.”

Oh great. Just what he needed. “Let me guess. You’re married?” Kyle wasn’t going down that road again. No way, no how.

Wendell’s eyes widened. “Oh, no. It’s nothing like that.”

“It’s getting hot out here. Let’s go by the Dairy Devil, and find a quiet place to talk.”

“Dairy Devil?” 

“Yup. Soft serve ice cream. It gets mobbed in the summer, but it shouldn’t be too busy right now.”

“Maybe some lunch afterward?” Wendell was hopeful.

“Yeah, maybe.” Although it would depend entirely on what this ‘secret’ was. Because if it was Wendell was married or had an open marriage or whatever crap guys tried to pull when they wanted their cake and to eat it too, Kyle wasn’t going to stick around for a meal.

Ice cream was more carbs than he needed, but he had a bad feeling he was going to need the ice cream therapy after this discussion. 

“Lead the way.”

They left the cemetery, and Kyle only hoped this fledgling relationship wasn’t as dead as the cholera victims whose graves they walked over on the way out.