Monday, January 22, 2018

Promotional Post: A Way With You by Lane Hayes ~ Guest Post #Review #Giveaway





Author: Lane Hayes
Book: A Way With You
Publisher: Kindle World
Publication Date: January 16, 2018
Length: 95 pages

Reviewed by Truus


Synopsis

Reeve Nelson is determined to make it in Manhattan. He’s hardworking, dedicated and willing to put in the extra hours required to be successful at his new job at a prestigious real estate firm in the city. There’s no way he’s going back to small-town living and an ex-girlfriend who won’t let go. But his boss isn’t making it easy.

Leo Rodriguez enjoys his reputation as a ruthless businessman. He’s a lone wolf who’s scraped his way from the gutter to rebuild his life and launch a distinguished career on his terms. When an opportunity to expand in the market comes up, Leo wants the eager new agent with a sense of wonder on the project. But nothing goes quite as planned. Reeve expected to be intimidated and overwhelmed by Leo, however, the explosive mutual attraction and fierce desire between them is a big surprise. Neither man is looking for love and yet, something special just might happen if they can find their way…together.






Review

Reeve and Leo.

Reeve moved to New York City to start his new job at The McAllister Group as an estate manager.
He's got a beautiful and dynamic boss, Leo, only that's it... the man is like a gyre. He has a lot of energy and a grumpy mouth. Everyone shivers when the almighty Leo is around, including Reeve.

The job is impossible and Reeve is questing himself... he has a breaking point.
When he's face to face with Leo, again, and getting insulted by Leo he snapped.. and in the heat of the fight he does something stupid and afterward....he's gone.

Somehow, after he quit his job, he ends up in a bar with... Leo... the untouchable Leo.

Then some unexpected things are happening.  They start to talk and talk and even end up on the sofa...together. The next morning there is no regret...and maybe Leo isn't as unattainable as Reeve thought.

This was a wonderful read, after reading A Way with Words, it was great to meet Remy, Tony and Tony's nephews and nephews from nephews again. This was such a good addition to the whole story.

The main characters, Reeve and Leo, were greatly developed. The layers piece by piece are exposed, it was not heavy-heavy but some bits were heartbreaking and affected me quite a bit. It looks like a light read but when you take a good look you see much more. The whole story was written in a captivating way, in all the right proportions. 

Reeve and Leo were steaming hot together but also funny and heartwarming. This was all written in a vivid way, really well done!
A must-read for the ones who are a fan of some charming love story.






Guest Post

A Way with You is here! Thanks for letting come by to chat about the second novella I’ve written for Felice Stevens’ Memories with the Breakfast Club Kindle World. For those who don’t know how it works, let me give you the gist. Both books are set in New York City and at some point there is a mention of a place and person readers who are familiar with Felice’s two series will recognize. You don’t have to read hers to read mine or vice versa. It’s just a fun continuation of a world that’s already there.

In A Way with You, Reeve is thrilled to start a new job in Manhattan with a well-respected real estate firm. It’s the chance of a lifetime for a small-town guy. But his boss doesn’t make it easy. Leo’s intensity is daunting but there’s something about him that Reeve finds fascinating…and irresistible.

I love a good office romance with a twist of “opposites attract”. Throw in my favorite city and a couple of quirky characters who can’t keep their hands to themselves and I’m sold! I’ve loved getting to know a few of Felice’s MCs and building on to her enchanting world. It’s been a great challenge to me as an author and an opportunity I truly appreciate!


Happy Reading!  Lane Hayes xo





About the Author

Lane Hayes is grateful to finally be doing what she loves best. Writing full-time! It’s no secret Lane loves a good romance novel. An avid reader from an early age, she has always been drawn to well-told love story with beautifully written characters. These days she prefers the leading roles to both be men. Lane discovered the M/M genre a few years ago and was instantly hooked. Her debut novel was a 2013 Rainbow Award finalist and subsequent books have received Honorable Mentions, and won first prize in the 2016 and 2017 Rainbow Awards. She loves red wine, chocolate and travel (in no particular order). Lane lives in Southern California with her amazing husband in a newly empty nest.

Books by Lane Hayes:


Contact Information:

Twitter:   @LaneHayes3
Facebook: LaneHayesauthor







Giveaway

Enter to win a $5.00 Amazon GC and a copy
of A Way With You!
Contest will end January 29th
Thanks!




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Saturday, January 20, 2018

Saturday Author Spotlight: Nora Phoenix #Interview #Giveaway



Hello to one and all and welcome to another Saturday Author Spotlight! Today we are talking with Nora Phoenix. She's fairly new to the publishing circuit but has had many releases in the last few months. We are going to take a look at them, do an interview, and round it all up with a wonderful giveaway. Get comfy and enjoy.





No Filter


Indy will do anything to prevent his mobster ex from finding him. Their last encounter left Indy recovering for months in the hospital, and ever since he’s become an expert at hiding in plain sight. Determined to stay under the radar, he takes on a new identity and moves from place to place. His life has no room for friendships, let alone love, so he keeps his heart firmly closed. After all, he has nothing to offer but a damaged body and a broken soul. Plus, he’s so done with men. Until he meets the man who breaks through all his defenses.

Former Army Medic Noah came back damaged from his last tour—in more than one way. Between supporting his best friend-with-benefits Josh who’s struggling with PTSD, dealing with his own issues, and the stress of his job as a physician assistant, rebuilding his life seems impossible. There's little time for what Noah needs, let alone for what he wants. When he meets Indy, Noah discovers what he wants more than anything: for Indy to stay. But how will a relationship with Indy work when Noah needs Josh as well?

Indy never expected the strong, confident Noah to be as damaged and broken as himself. But what will happen if he starts letting Noah in? Indy knows he should run to protect Noah and Josh.

Noah needs Indy to stay more than anything. But will what little he has to offer be enough to make Indy trust him and stay?

No Filter is a steamy M/M romance featuring an open relationship (no cheating!) that ends with a HFN, but with the promise of a HEA. It’s the first book in the No Shame Series, and is not a stand-alone novel. It contains hot sex, a hint of a ménage, lots of talk about hot sex, flashbacks of said hot sex, and…Oh well, you get the idea. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse.
 

Buy Link



No Limits


Josh is convinced he’ll never find someone who’ll love him the way he is. He’s not exactly a catch with his PTSD, which has transformed him into a homebody most of the times. Sweet, maybe, but also boring as hell. Plus, there’s that submissive tendency he recently discovered and is dying to explore. His complicated relationship with Noah and Indy don’t make it easy, either. When Connor shows interest in him, he can’t believe the sexy cop would look at him twice, let alone make an effort to get to know him. When he does, Josh discovers they have more in common than he’d ever thought possible.
Connor had survived the ordeal that left his best friend and fellow Marine dead, but that survival came at a price. He’s a robot, going through the motions, but barely alive. Until fate intervenes when he meets Josh. The vulnerable man triggers all kinds of protective and dominant urges in Connor, but what would a cute guy like Josh want with an inexperienced, closed-off, bossy steamroller like him?
When Connor discovers his past endangers Indy, all hope for a future between him and Josh seems lost. After all, there’s no way Josh will ever choose Connor over Indy’s safety and Noah’s lifelong friendship. When a crisis hits, can Connor prove he’s strong enough to deal with everything that’s thrown his way?
No Limits is a steamy M/M romance that ends with a HFN, but has a continuing storyline as well. It’s the second book in the No Shame Series, and IS NOT A STAND ALONE NOVEL, so make sure to read the first book (No Filter) first. It contains hot sex, a little BDSM kink for beginners, more hot sex, and a beautiful friendship that transcends labels. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse

Buy Link



No Fear


Aaron is drowning. After coming out as gay, he lost his parents’ approval, his job, and his sense of identity. He feels like a freak who doesn’t fit in anywhere. His last hope was his brother Josh, but Josh can’t seem to forgive him for how Aaron treated him when they were teens. Not that Aaron can blame him, because he did treat Josh like crap. 

All Aaron wants is for someone to accept him, guide him, because he doesn’t have a clue. When sexy jiujitsu teacher Blake takes him in and starts mentoring him, Aaron has hope for the first time, even though he can’t understand what Blake sees in him. 

Blake doesn’t do relationships. At all. He’s more than willing to help Aaron find solid ground under his feet, but that’s it. Until insecure, vulnerable, and surprisingly sexy Aaron gets under his skin, triggering all kinds of protective instincts that make Blake long for more. He wants to take care of Aaron, give him what he needs, but how can he convince Aaron of that? 

When Josh’s friend-with-benefits Indy’s past finally catches up with him, it endangers them all—and leads to heartbreaking decisions for everyone involved. 

No Fear is a steamy M/M romance that ends with a HFN for Aaron and Blake, but has a continuing storyline as well. It’s the third book in the No Shame Series, and is not a stand alone novel, so make sure to read the first book (No Filter) and the second book (No Limits) first. It contains hot sex, a little kink, more hot sex, very mild puppy play, and a beautiful friendship-with-benefits that transcends labels. Also: trigger warning for mentions of sexual abuse.

Buy Link



Rebel (co-written with KM Neuhold)


"I don't do relationships, I break them." ~ Troy

If there’s one thing life has taught me it’s that everyone eventually leaves. But that's okay because I have a strategy: no friends, no boyfriends, limit repeat hook-ups, no sleep overs, and above all leave them before they leave me. I’ve put my break-up skills to work doing others’ dirty work for them.
The last thing I expected when I agreed to do an embarrassing breakup song and dance was to end up on the doorstep of the very recognizable—and stupidly sexy—Rebel. When you meet a man like Rebel you'd be insane not to make a move. And just because he has me tossing out every single one of my rules doesn't mean I'm in trouble, right?


“I’m everyone’s friend, but no one’s everything.” ~ Rebel

I love working for Ballsy Boys, but when you make the kind of videos I do relationships are pretty damn impossible. Besides, guys find me sexy and want to either be with me or be me, but no one has ever cared enough to see the real me.
Until I meet Troy. He has no problem whatsoever with my job, but he’s determined to keep me at a distance. For the first time, a hook-up alone is not enough. I want more with him. Hell, I want everything. But he resists at every step until I’m about ready to give up. What do I need to do to show him that this is real and worth fighting for?

***Rebel is the first book in the Ballsy Boys Series and is a super sexy MM romance with plenty of good times. While this book and this series do contain some instances of sex outside of the main relationships, they DO NOT contain cheating.
 

Pre-order Buy Link





Interview

Thank you, Nora, for being here today as our Saturday Spotlight author. You are a recently published author in this genre and it’ll be fun getting to know you a bit.

Thanks for having me!

What is something you discovered about being an author that surprised you?

I’d never realized how attached I would get to characters, that they would feel like real people to me. Now that my first series is coming to an end, I have to say goodbye to characters I’ve followed on their journey for four books…and it’s hard! I will honestly miss them, and I did not expect that.

What are the easiest and hardest parts about writing and publishing?

For me, the easiest part is coming up with ideas for new books. I still have so many ideas I’d like to develop into stories and books one day. The hardest part is the administrative side to it, like figuring out taxes and forms and things like that. There are a lot of details you need to get right, and that part I definitely not like.

For people not familiar with your work how would you pitch your books to them?

My No Shame series are steamy yet emotional MM romances that are slightly different than many others, because they follow the same characters in all four books while also introducing new couples, they have a suspense/action elements as well, and contain some unconventional storylines and kinks. I’ve been told you shouldn’t start them late at night, because you won’t be able to put them down…

Is there one character you write that holds a special place in your heart, if so who and why?

I think Josh is my favorite. He’s a guy who’s been through hell, yet has still managed to come through it as a real sweetheart, the most loyal friend you can have, and a caretaker. He’s selfless, always sacrificing himself for others, and I love how well he fits his bossy man Connor.

Will you be attending any conventions or signings in 2018?

Yes! For now, the plan is to attend the EuroPride Con in The Netherlands in July, which should be fun since that’s my home country. I’m also planning to go to the UK Meet in Briston, England in September, and I’ll be at GRL in Portsmouth, Virginia in October. So there will be lots of chances to see and meet me!


Can you tell us what you’re currently working on or future projects?

I’m always working on multiple projects at the same time…No Shame, the last book in my No Shame series, will release later this month on the 26th. One project I’m excited about is my new Ballsy Boys series that I’m co-authoring with K.M. Neuhold. The Ballsy Boys are the hottest gay porn stars in LA and everyone thinks they have it all, but underneath that fame they’re vulnerable men looking for real love. The first book in the series, Rebel, will come out January 31st, and we hope to publish at least three more this year. I also have a few solo books planned, so it will be a busy year for me.

How can readers and fans follow you in the interwebs? Twitter, FB, etc….

The best place to hang out with me is in my Facebook reader group Nora’s Nook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/norasnook/
I’m also pretty active on Twitter: @norafromBHR and on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/nora.phoenix/
And I also have a website where I post at least once a week and where readers can always follow my current projects: http://www.noraphoenix.com/

Fast Fire Questions:

Winter or summer? Summer (I need the sunlight!)
Favorite color? Pink
Favorite animal? Giraffe (they’re awkward, funny, and beautiful at the same time…)
Swimming or walking? Walking (I hike three times a week, weather permitting)
Hero or Villain? Hero
Favorite holiday? Christmas
Night or Day? Day


Thank you so much for talking with us and we all look forward to seeing what you write this year.




Giveaway

Nora will gift one person with any e-copy of an ebook of hers your choice. May be a future release as well, since she has two books coming out this month.

contest will end January 26th
Thanks 


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Friday, January 19, 2018

Flashback Friday: The Long Fall Of Night by AJ Rose #Review #Giveaway






Author AJ Rose
Book: The Long Fall Of Night
Publisher: The Grim Writer Press
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Length: 557 pages

 Reviewed by Morningstar


Synopsis

In a flash, everything changes.

When NYU student Asher Caine’s uncle calls to warn him something big is coming, he has no idea it will be so devastating. Not even years of training can prepare him for what he's about to face. The only plan he has is to get his sister and nephew across country to safety, whatever it takes.

The darkness is full of potential. For good or evil, only time will tell.

Elliot Davenport isn’t about to let his Chemistry lab partner leave him behind, though he’s never done a spontaneous thing in his life. Ash is mysterious, aloof, and so damned sexy, Elliot can’t get the guy out of his head. But his crush takes a backseat as the gravity of the situation becomes clear: the eastern two-thirds of the United States has gone dark.

What happens when all the rules change in a split second?

200 million people are without access to sustainable food and water, let alone coffee and the Internet. Facing the worst humanitarian crisis the western world has ever seen, the government calls the military to step in. The entire military.

The soldiers of Team Shockwave are tasked with evacuating civilians to the safety of refugee camps, and then patrolling the new border between the East and West. Shockwave are on the front lines and the fate of an entire nation rests on them.

Welcome to the long fall of night…
 


Buy Links





Review

I chose this as my flashback Friday review because even though it’s been just shy of two years since I’ve read it, it is a book that often comes up in my thoughts. It’s a book that when reading it consumes you, you’re there, invested in every little part of the story and I can say that feeling never goes away.

This had only ever been my second apocalyptic story that I’d ever read, although I’ve seen them in movies, books bring you more in-depth than a film ever could. It changes the way I view the end of the world movies that I’ve watched or will watch because it brings a sense of realism that a lot don’t deliver. My very first apocalyptic story had me hooked, but this author created a unique story all her own that I still cannot wait to read the sequel too. Which, by the way, I’m willing to wait as long as it takes to get because I know she will make it worth it.

I cannot say enough that A.J. created a unique world where we know this seems completely possible. It's not aliens taking over (which I love), it’s not a zombie virus spread across the world (also love), but it’s in a world we live in today. It’s epic and profound, and Elliot and Ash were a set of characters that just made an already freaking amazing story go straight to the top in my opinion. The way they were together and how, through such adversity, it never seems to waned was amazing.


It’s not an easy story to read. It’s sad and hard and frankly terrifying but oh my god fantastic! If you haven’t read it, do, because you will never regret it!



Giveaway

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Review & Blog Tour: Not All Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks by Rebecca Cohen #Excerpt #Review #Giveaway ~Guest Post



Since my new release is set in Basel, Switzerland, I thought I’d share with you one of my favourite things about the city: Basel’s Fasnacht, the Spring Carnival. Before I moved to Basel I had never heard of it, even though Fasnacht is celebrated throughout Germany and Switzerland. I was amazed to experience 3 days of orchestrated mayhem, which were not what I was expecting, especially considering the prim and proper reputation of the Swiss.

In Not All Chocolate and Cuckoo Clocks, Mark is awestruck by Fasnacht which starts with Morgenstreich, an even beginning the Monday morning at 4 am, where every streetlight in the old town is switched off and the city is plunged into darkness. As the bell tolls, the piccolos and drums drown the city in a wave of music, and the cliques march through the unlit streets carrying huge painted lanterns.



At this point I think I'd better introduce you to the Waggis – a strange a creature who’s a mix of clown, demon and French farmer. They roam the streets during Fasnacht armed with confetti, oranges and sweets. 


Marching bands playing drums, tubas, trombones and trumpets and huge floats and wagons, many of them making political statements may up the Cortége (the parade). The Waggis are out in force so beware! It starts early afternoon and continues into the night. 


The evening of day two brings the battle of oompah bands. Let me tell you, you’ve not lived until you’ve heard ‘I Kissed A Girl’ by Katy Perry played on a tuba! I’ve also heard interesting versions of ‘Dirty Old Town’ and ‘Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls’.

Just when you think you’ve had enough, Wednesday arrives with another full day of parades. And, since this is the last chance the Waggis have to offload their confetti, you’re guaranteed to get covered.

Fasnacht is great fun, and my little boy is already super excited for this years’ festival on the 19th February. Does where you live have a special event like this?


Review

This read felt immediately strong, the environments, the observations, the conversations.

I just loved the way this was put together.
 Mark is working on a project in Basel Switzerland, for a few months. There he meets Steffen.

Steffen is blunt, unfiltered and direct, making Mark choke on his wine. He wants to fuck Mark.

No strings just a good time being...
 We behold delightful babel and some grandeur attitude confusion...if you know what I mean.

Steffen is one strong specimen, he has a big apartment, he owns a company and talks openly about the other lovers he’s had, but meanwhile, he is head over heels.

Mark understands what Steffen says... no strings just hot sex... but what they didn't expect was feelings... a lot.

Because what follows, besides hot nights, is a warm friendship with a lot of fun and humor... my heart did strange things while reading, I just loved these charming honest men.
 God, it felt so natural the way they made love... the way they behaved around each other.
No perfection, but so many beautiful flawed situations. It took my breath away.

 The Swiss environments with their traditions were a really great addition to this story.
 I was happy with the different pov's because both men were engaging, and both deserved a grand place in this story.

Written in a wonderful style, it was a warm, loving, friendly read, no drama... very positive and all this was the reason it made me emotional... I felt a bit sad when I reached the last line.


When a story touches my heart I don't want it to end. This one deserves all the stars!

Excerpt

Where Morgenstreich was magical, covering the route with an ethereal blanket of charm, the Cortège was loud, brash, and like a 1960s drug-inspired hallucination. Somehow, he’d been expecting carnival floats like those he’d seen in Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, but apart from the scale of some of the creations, that was where the similarities ended. A group dressed as Roman soldiers marched past, their oversized papier-mâché heads bright green, and it only dawned on him that they were meant to be the aliens from the Bugs Bunny cartoons when he saw the conductor was a giant zombie bunny and that they were playing “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane on a collection of brass instruments and drums.

A large wooden wagon, which looked like the progeny of a threesome between a milk float, a flatbed lorry, and a wardrobe, came next. A team of Waggis, with bright green hair and sailor uniforms, were delighting the crowd by juggling oranges and performing slapstick falls. Small children cried out “Waggis!” for their attention, and they responded by throwing daffodils and handfuls of sweets into the throng. Mark didn’t see the orange until it had bounced off his head, since he’d been half blinded by the cloud of confetti one of the green-haired bastards had launched right at him.

Mark spat out a mouthful of paper and rubbed the impact site on his temple. He glowered at Steffen. “I thought you said my badge thing would protect me from the Waggis.”

Steffen chuckled, looking delighted as he brushed confetti out of his hair. “Against individual Waggis, yes, but you are standing here voluntarily, and they just happen to be releasing Räppli in your general direction.”

“That sounds like an excuse you’ve used.”

“Maybe once or twice.” He smirked. “I never had the talent to play an instrument, but I was an extremely diligent Waggis in my youth.”

“I bet you used to offer to help get the bloody confetti out later.”

“I may have—to the most receptive and attractive of my victims. But I was young and foolish, and thought only about getting my cock sucked.”

Enter the rafflecopter draw or leave a comment below telling me a favourite even that happens were you live, and be entered into the blog tour giveaway of your choice of an ebook of one of my backlist titles (excluding Crofton Chronicle bundle).



Length: 45,613 words

Cover Design: Brooke Albrecht

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Blurb

Neither of them wants to fall in love, but getting exactly what they don’t want might be the best thing to ever happen to them.

Mark hopes his boredom with his current job will be alleviated by a short stint in Basel, Switzerland. When he meets Steffen, who struck out on his own from an old-money family to establish an IT firm, Mark expects some fun, great sex, and a clean break when his job is done. The arrangement is perfect for Steffen, who has been content with casual after a betrayal—and has a taste for British men after attending university in the UK. But as they explore the city’s rich history and traditions, Mark begins to see Steffen as much more than a tour guide with benefits. If he isn’t careful, the trip meant to break the lull in his career might end up breaking his heart instead….




January 12 - The Novel Approach - Blog Post
January 15 - Cupcakes & Bookshelves
January 18 - Love Bytes - Blog Post
January 19 - Diverse Reader (Blog Post), BFD Book Blog, Sarandipity Reviews, Making It Happen
January 20 - Gay Book Reviews - Blog Post
January 22 - Drops of Ink, Valerie Ullmer, Mirrigold: Mutterings & Musings, Book Lovers 4Ever
January 23 - MM Good Book Reviews - Blog Post

Author Bio

Rebecca Cohen is a Brit abroad. Having swapped the Thames for the Rhine, she has left London behind and now lives with her husband and young son in Basel, Switzerland. She can often be found with a pen in one hand and a cup of Darjeeling in the other.

Blog: http://rebeccacohenwrites.wordpress.com/
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/rebecca.cohen.710
Twitter: http://twitter.com/R_Cohen_writes



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Thursday, January 18, 2018

Random Review: A Hockey Player's Heart by Jeff Adams & Will Knauss #Review #Giveaway





Authors: Jeff Adams & Will Knauss
Book: The Hockey Player's Heart
Dreamspun Desires Book
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Bree Archer
Publication date: January 16, 2018
Length: 226 pages

Reviewed by Morningstar 


Synopsis

When hockey star Caleb Carter returns to his hometown to recover from an injury, the only thing he’s interested in is a little R & R. He never expects to run into his onetime crush at a grade school fund-raiser . Seeing Aaron Price hits him hard, like being checked into the boards. The attraction is still there, even after all these years, and Caleb decides to make a play for the schoolteacher. You miss 100 percent of the shots you never take, right?

Aaron has been burned by love before and can’t imagine what a celebrity like Caleb could possibly see in a guy like him. Their differences are just too great. But as Aaron spends more time with Caleb, he begins to wonder if he might have what it takes to win the hockey player’s heart.



Buy Links






Review

Sometimes when I read, there are parts of the story that I fall in love with. Sometimes it’s the world and the universe that the author has created for us to take this journey. Sometimes it’s the characters or even just one character that I connect with. In this story, although I loved the small town feel of the story, it was Caleb and Aaron that I truly fell in love with.

Caleb was this character who was full of life and happy and had this very fun quality about him, it was easy to be drawn to him as a person. Aaron was more reserved and quiet although it easily came out that he had this fun quirky personality underneath all of that. And the connection between the two of them was slow and it was cute and it was wonderful. I just kept wanting to read more and see more of their journey together.

Aaron had reservations about their relationship, real valid reservations. He was hurt before by someone in a similar position is Caleb and he didn’t want to hurt Caleb and Caleb‘s career. And what I loved was Caleb‘s determination and showing Aaron he was there and he wanted to be there with him. Even with how vastly different their lives were.


The story was more sweet than hot but it was perfect for me! It was a story about trusting your heart and knowing that relationships can sometimes be a struggle and need compromise. I love the combination of these two authors together and I can’t wait to see what else we come up with! 





Giveaway

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Contest ends January 31st
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Release Blitz: The Station by Keira Andrews #Excerpt #Giveaway



Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Cover Design: Dar Albert @ Wicked Smart Designs

Blurb

Ever since Cambridge-bound Colin Lancaster spied on stable master Patrick Callahan mastering another man, he’s longed for Patrick to do the same to him. When Patrick is caught with his pants down and threatened with death for his crime, Colin speaks up in his defense and confesses his own sinful nature. They’re soon banished to the faraway prison colony of Australia.

Patrick never asked for Colin’s help, and now he’s stuck with the pampered fool. While it’s true that being transported to Australia is a far cry from the luxury Colin is accustomed to, he’s determined to make the best of it and prove himself. Although Patrick learned long ago that love is a fairy tale, he’s inexorably drawn to sweet, optimistic Colin.

From the miserable depths of a prison ship to the vast, untamed Australian outback, Colin and Patrick must rely on each other. Danger lurks everywhere, and when they unexpectedly get the chance to escape to a new life as cowboys, they’ll need each other more than ever.

This historical gay romance from Keira Andrews features an age difference, an eager virgin, hurt/comfort, and of course a happy ending.



Excerpt

Waiting only a moment after knocking, Colin’s mother, Elizabeth, entered his room. Colin glanced over from the window seat. He’d been watching Patrick in the meadow exercising the young colt born several days before. “Yes, Mother?”

Elizabeth was forty-two and quite beautiful, with a regal nose and posture and the same thick, chestnut brown hair as Colin. “You haven’t bathed yet? Guests will be arriving within the hour.”

“I was about to, if you’d leave me to my privacy.”

When he wasn’t studying or walking the grounds, Colin whiled away the hours sitting by his window reading novels of thrilling adventures in faraway lands. Sometimes Patrick would appear in the meadow, training the horses. Colin’s book would lie forgotten on his lap as he watched Patrick at work. He seemed as if he belonged in one of the fictional tales Colin devoured. Colin could easily imagine him with sword in hand.

“Of course, dear. I had Charles press your jacket. It’s hanging there.” She pointed across the room, where, sure enough, his formal wear waited. “Katherine was partial to that one, if I do recall.”

Colin couldn’t hold back a sigh. “Yes.”

“Darling, you gave up on Katherine far too easily. Tonight will be another chance for you to win her hand. You’re quite a catch, you know. Off to Cambridge soon. Katherine will want to ensnare you now.”

“Mother, Katherine Crawford has turned her favor elsewhere. She’s moved on.” So had he. Most definitely.

Elizabeth’s pretty face pinched into a frown. “It’s an honor that the Crawfords are attending this evening. You will be on your best behavior. I don’t know what exactly you did to ruin things with Katherine, but tonight you will do your utmost to undo it.”

“Yes, Mother.” He would attempt no such thing, but Colin had learned years before that arguing with his parents got him nowhere. Soon he’d be at Cambridge and he would be able to make his own decisions. Soon he’d have a new life.

Mollified, Elizabeth closed the door behind her. Flopping down on his bed, Colin thought of Katherine and cringed. It wasn’t until a most ill-fated outing with Katherine Crawford several months ago that Colin had admitted to himself that his interest in Patrick was far from intellectual.

Katherine was a beauty, all glossy blonde hair and moist, pink lips. For some reason Colin couldn’t fathom, she had shown an interest in him at a holiday gathering down the road. The courting had begun soon thereafter, with Colin escorting Katherine on various activities. Unlike William, who railed against the inconveniences of chaperones, Colin was grateful for the matrons’ presence.

He liked Katherine well enough. She was intelligent and kind and pleasing to look at. But Colin knew something was missing. Katherine didn’t set his blood on fire, and he rarely thought of her when she was absent.

The absences were as long as Colin could manage while still maintaining the guise of courting. He was a perfect gentleman at all times with Katherine, which he found a simple feat. William and his school chums all needled him in private and made winking suggestions of what was actually going on between him and Katherine, and Colin let them believe what they wanted.

The Lancasters and Crawfords had both been guests at a country estate for an Easter celebration. Colin’s sister, Rebecca, was delighted. On the ride over, she had chattered constantly about the beautiful Katherine and how she might one day be her sister-in-law. Colin loved his sister dearly but wished she’d find a new interest.

Colin had been fast asleep the first night at the country estate when Katherine crept into his room. Despite his protests about the impropriety, she’d insisted he dress and accompany her for a moonlight stroll. He hadn’t really a choice.

It went badly.

Despite Katherine’s obvious beauty and heaving bosom, Colin had remained utterly uninterested. He’d tried. Truly, he did. Under a large willow tree, Colin had kissed Katherine and caressed her soft skin under her skirt, her hand firm on his wrist, guiding him. He had been unable to get excited, and when she’d reached for him to find him flaccid, Katherine Crawford had had quite enough.

She’d stomped back to her room and avoided Colin for the remainder of the weekend. Colin could hardly meet anyone’s eyes. His family had obviously required an explanation, and he’d had none.

When they returned home after a torturous journey, Colin had jumped from the carriage, eager to be away from his inquiring parents and sister, who’d demanded to know how Colin had made such a mess of things. Colin had almost barreled straight into Patrick, who had come to take the horses. At the sight of him, his lean muscles, his maleness, Colin had been struck with the vivid memories of what he’d witnessed in the stable that day long ago. He had to bite his tongue to stop himself from begging Patrick to take him into some dark corner and have his way with him.

That was what he wanted. He would never want the Katherine Crawfords of the world. No matter how beautiful, how rich, how ideal for a wife. Colin wanted a man. Oh, God, did he want a man.

Can I be of assistance?” Patrick had affected a guileless expression, and Colin had realized he’d been staring dumbly.

Awkward and ready to crawl out of his own skin, Colin had mumbled something and hurried off. All the denials he’d repeated to himself had finally been silenced. He’d locked himself in his room, took himself in hand, and, muffling his face in a pillow as he thought of Patrick, attained the most satisfying release he’d experienced since that day at sixteen years old, hiding in the stable.

Remembering now, Colin stroked himself quickly, careful not to muss himself too much before the party. He thought of Patrick, of his Gaelic lullaby and of his grunts as he’d penetrated the man in the stable years before. As he rubbed himself with one hand, legs spread, Colin caressed his lips with his fingertips, imagining what it would be like to be kissed—really kissed. He didn’t even know if men kissed each other, but he would like to try it.

Sometime later, Colin straightened his navy tie and vest under his dark jacket and peered into the full-length mirror in the corner of his bedroom. His large eyes were a deep brown that matched his hair, and his jaw was narrow. His nose was straight and unremarkable. Katherine had once told him that his smile turned her knees to jelly and his eyes were bottomless pools she could stare into for eternity.

Colin doubted it, somehow.

He decided he looked as presentable as he was able to and went to join the party. Naturally, the first person he saw was Katherine. Dressed to the nines in an ornate, yellow, bell-shaped gown and looking lovely, she was laughing gaily at something William had said. Her hand was placed just so on his arm, and Colin saw the flash of her eyes as she spotted him. She laughed again, even louder.

Colin felt like laughing himself. If she only knew. Before he could do anything, Rebecca towed him into the drawing room, her voice low and urgent, grip firm. “Honestly, I don’t know what William is thinking. You mustn’t pay them any mind, Colin. Are you very upset?” Her pretty face, very much like their mother’s, creased with worry.

Shaking his head, Colin kissed his dear sister’s cheek. “I won’t give it another thought. William is welcome to her. Perhaps Father will take some solace if the family is connected to the Crawfords in the end.”

Rebecca, fourteen and very dramatic, hugged him tightly. “Oh, Colin. You’re ever so brave.”

Biting back his mirth, Colin thanked her and pointed her toward her newly arriving friends from down the road. He made his rounds of the soiree, shaking hands and making polite conversation. Dinner was served, and Colin listened to a neighbor tell him about what a wonderful time he’d have at Cambridge. Colin hoped it would be true. The one thing dampening his excitement about finally getting away from home was that he’d also be leaving Patrick behind.

As he spooned his custard, Colin brooded. He knew it was deeply foolish, since the strange affection and desire he had for Patrick was certainly one-sided. He’d only been a child when they were friends. Even if by some miracle Patrick desired him now that he was grown, would Colin really have the nerve to lie with another man? His trousers tightened at the notion, and he was glad for the napkin across his lap.

After dinner, Colin endured the ladies’ singing and gentlemen’s card games. Unable to shake Patrick from his mind as the night wore on, he found himself walking to the stable, unable to stay away. He was almost there when a cry came up. A man burst out from the large wooden doors and fled across the meadow, barely visible in the darkness. In the lantern light from the stable, Patrick tumbled outside, followed by two men Colin recognized as shopkeepers in the next county. Brothers named Harris, he thought.

Colin realized he was running and skidded to a halt just as one of the brothers landed a vicious kick to Patrick’s ribs. “Stop!” Colin shoved the man aside. Blood already streamed from Patrick’s nose and mouth.

The man ignored Colin as if he were naught but a fly, and kicked Patrick again. “Unnatural piece of filth!”

Several other guests who heard the melee drew near. The other Harris brother called out to them. “We need the inspector. A crime’s been committed here.”

“What crime?” Colin demanded.

The man spit at the ground where Patrick lay beaten. “Buggery.”

The world tilted on its axis, and Colin’s stomach churned. He realized Patrick’s breeches were loose, and that the man he’d seen fleeing must have been…

Suddenly Colin’s father was there. In the lantern light, Colin could see the rage on his father’s face, and it chilled him. Edward was short and stout, yet an imposing presence. He issued a terse command to the Harris brothers to follow him and bring Patrick.

Patrick was dragged around the back of the manor house, a growing number of curious guests following. Several women were told to go back to the party, and the servants watched with wide eyes as the brothers hauled Patrick through the kitchen. Inside Edward’s study, a group of men gathered. Patrick was deposited on his knees in the middle of the room as Colin crowded inside with the others. They were soon joined by Colin’s mother.

“What’s going on?” she hissed to her husband. “There are whispers everywhere.”

Edward barely spared her a glance. “This is no place for a woman. An ungodly crime has been committed. Go see to the other guests and tell them everything is fine. We don’t want this getting out.”

“I’m not going anywhere. Tell me what’s happened!” Elizabeth’s cheeks flamed.

The man who’d kicked Patrick spoke. “My wife is feeling ill, so my brother and I went to the stable to ask for our carriage to be brought round.”

“Ill? Not from the food?” Elizabeth appeared horrified.

“For God’s sake, woman, forget the food!” A vein in Edward’s temple throbbed, and Colin feared his father might explode with rage.

“Where’s the other one?” Colin glanced behind him, surprised to hear William’s voice. Apparently the whispers were indeed spreading.

One of the Harris brothers answered. “Gone. I think it was the Nelsons’ carriage driver. Quick bastard, we couldn’t catch him. This one was still tangled up in his breeches. Caught him dead to rights.”

“No need to get the courts involved. Take him out back and hang him from his bollocks,” said one of the other guests.

There was a murmur of agreement, and Edward seemed to seriously be considering it. Colin’s panic increased exponentially as the tension simmered. Many of those present had long been into their cups, and a reckless air swirled through the room. He looked to Patrick, who knelt silently, blood dripping down his face, his hands now bound behind his back. Colin hadn’t seen who restrained him.

“Kill him,” agreed one of the Harrises. To Patrick, he said, “Wouldn’t you rather be put out of your misery now than rot in a jail cell knowing you’re going to the gallows? We’d be doing you a favor.”

The murmur of assent grew frighteningly loud. “Should have expected it from an Irishman,” someone shouted.

“Hang ’im! Save the courts some time and money.” The bookkeeper from the local village reached for Patrick, attempting to haul him to his feet as other men cried their agreement.

“No!” When all eyes turned to him, Colin realized he’d spoken aloud. “No. You can’t kill him.” He thought of that day six years before, when Patrick had raced after him and plucked him from the fleeing stallion. His heart hammered as it had that day.

Edward’s eyes narrowed. “Colin, the punishment for buggery is death. It’s what he deserves. This man—if you can call an animal a man—is a degenerate criminal.”

“Then so am I!”

Silence gripped the room in an instant, as if everyone held their breath collectively. Elizabeth went pale. “Colin, you have no idea what you’re saying.” She pulled his arm, urging him toward the door. “I’m sorry, everyone; he’s had far too much brandy this evening. He isn’t himself.”

Colin yanked his arm away. “No, Mother. I know what I’m saying.” He swallowed, his throat dry and thick. “I am myself.” Perhaps for the first time.

A shocked William spoke up, his eyes wide. “Colin, this is madness!”

Edward simply stared, stunned into silence for the first time in Colin’s memory. Elizabeth pulled at him again, but Colin shook free. “If you will kill this man for his crime, then you’ll have to kill me too. Shall you take me outside and string me up?”

“What in God’s name are you doing?” Patrick spoke for the first time, and all eyes turned to where he knelt. He stared at Colin with dazed astonishment.

The sound of Patrick’s voice seemed to spur Edward out of his daze. Edward turned a murderous gaze on Patrick. “If you’ve laid a finger on my son, I swear—”

“I’d sooner bed a horse,” Patrick sneered.

“And probably has!” a voice called out.

Colin felt a ridiculous stab of pain at Patrick’s words.

Patrick went on. “Sir, your son is clearly not in his right mind.”

William’s father, John, a lawyer, spoke next. He was tall and distinguished, the opposite of his brother, Edward. He seemed to be the only calm person left in the room. “Colin, are you saying you’ve committed acts of buggery?”

“Yes.” Even if it wasn’t true, Colin couldn’t let them kill Patrick. At least not tonight, not if he could help it.

Elizabeth shrieked and collapsed into a chair. “Oh, my son. What have you done? It can’t be true!”

“I’m sorry, Mother. They’ll have to kill us both.”

“Don’t listen to him! For God’s sake!” Patrick tried to stand but was shoved back down by Edward, whose face flamed with rage.

John spoke up. “No one’s killing anyone.” He turned to the Harris brothers. “Did you witness the act?”

One of them laughed tersely. “Didn’t have to. They heard us coming, and the other one was off and running. But we saw and heard enough to know what was going on.”

John pondered this, and everyone waited. He seemed to have quietly taken control of the proceedings, for which Colin was grateful. He hoped Patrick wouldn’t be harmed any further for the moment.

“No concrete evidence. None in regards to Colin either,” John said after a lengthy pause.

“Because it’s not true!” Elizabeth cried.

John ignored her and turned to Edward. “I have some friends in the magistrate’s office who should be able to help. I’ll go speak to George Crawford and get him on our side. But too many people have heard Colin’s confession. Something must be done.”

Edward nodded grimly, not looking at Colin. He pointed to Patrick. “We’ll keep this one locked in the pantry for the night. Colin will be in his room with a guard placed outside. William, take him upstairs.”

The shock of his actions slowly settling in, Colin didn’t resist as William led him away. They opened the door to the study to find the hallway crowded with party guests. Katherine was among them, her delicate face transformed into a hard mask. “Fiend!” She dashed down the hall, weeping.

Accusing eyes glared from all sides, and William led Colin to the servants’ back stairway, sparing him the spectacle of being marched up the grand staircase. In his room, Colin tried to speak. “Will, I…”

William raised a hand. “Don’t.” He shook his head sadly, his expression deeply wounded. “I don’t understand. I’ve always thought of you as a dear friend. A brother. Now I feel I’ve never known you at all.” He turned his back, closing the door behind him. A moment later, Colin heard the key turn in the lock, and his life as he knew it was over.


Author Bio

After writing for years yet never really finding the right inspiration, Keira discovered her voice in gay romance, which has become a passion. She writes contemporary, historical, fantasy, and paranormal fiction and — although she loves delicious angst along the way — Keira firmly believes in happy endings. For as Oscar Wilde once said:

“The good ended happily, and the bad unhappily. That is what fiction means.”

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