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Blog Tour – All the Way Out by Ingrid Sterling @ing_sterl24 #KindleUnlimited #giveaway

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: All the Way Out

Author: Ingrid Sterling

Publisher: Literary Wanderlust

Release Date: April 1, 2021

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, New Adult

Trope/s: One-night stand turned into true love; Forced proximity; Athlete with musician; closeted sports star

Themes: Self-acceptance, coming out publicly

Heat Rating:  4 flames

Length: 79 000/263 pages

It is a standalone book.

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Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

Literary Wanderlust  |  Bookshop.org

 

 

Blurb 

Ever since Zach was 14 years old, he knew two things about himself:

1) He wanted to play football at the highest levels of college and pro ball.

2) He was gay.

Even at that young age Zach knew that those two truths – all-star athlete and homosexual male – could not exist concurrently. So, he’d started dating Rebecca, his devoutly Catholic girlfriend who wants to wait to have sex until she’s married, during his junior year of high school and never looked back.

But on the last night of a team trip to Rome, on the cusp of his senior season at Northwestern University, a Heisman, a number 1 draft pick and a National Championship, Zach seeks out one last anonymous encounter. He opens Grindr and slips out into the Italian summer night to meet Liam – Liam who has a face that looks like it was carved from Carrara marble by one of the ancient greats and whose brazen facade becomes sheepish when he’s asked about his past in Paris. The night is intense, better than Zach could have imagined. But like all one-night stands, it comes to an end by morning’s light.

But what happens to Zach’s carefully manicured plans for a professional football career and a life in the closet when Liam shows up, not only on the Northwestern campus the first day of the fall semester, but in Zach’s upper-level Plato seminar, too?

 

 

Excerpt 

“What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar?” Liam snapped.

 “Um, I’m fulfilling my degree requirements,” Zach snapped back. “What are you doing in my upper level classics seminar? You live in Rome.”

 “No, I was regrouping in Rome. I’d been going to school in Paris before that but—Wait, degree requirements? You’re a Classics major? Mr. Hotshot-starting-quarterback is a Classics major?” Liam’s voice came out shriller than he would have liked.

 Zach set his hips back against the table, crossing his arms with a sudden smugness. “A Classics major focusing in Pax Romana philosophers with a 3.7 GPA, you mean? Yeah. I am. How do you think I recognized that ridiculous Metamorphoses quote on your Grindr profile?”

 “I figured you Googled it like everyone else usually did.”

 Zach’s face softened at Liam’s unintentional reveal. “Why didn’t you say anything about coming to school in the States that night?” Zach asked.

 Liam leveled him with a look. “I don’t remember us doing an awful lot of talking.”

 “We talked enough. You could have mentioned it.”

 “I’d only decided to come here a week or so before we met,” Liam explained. “I barely knew anything about Northwestern aside from the fact that it has a pretty well-respected music program. Certainly not enough to know it has some big deal football team. And besides, what were the chances?”

 “I’m not a betting man, but I definitely wouldn’t have taken these odds.” Doe-eyed panic lingered on Zach’s face even as he shifted to a more conversational tone. “So, the music school, huh? That’s cool. I remember you had music on your desk. What do you play?”

 “Piano mostly, but I’m a composition major. I added a Classics minor ‘cause I can, here. My other school didn’t offer liberal arts courses.” Zach nodded, and Liam realized it was probably his turn to attempt conversation. “A jock with a brain, then. Color me impressed.”

 Zach gave a bored lift of his shoulder. “It makes for a great human-interest story. I think every bad pun about Greek gods or Roman gladiators has been made about me at least once. The ESPN announcers think they are so fucking clever.”

 Liam stared at him. “You keep saying these things thinking I know what they mean.”

 “ESPN.” Zach gave him a patient grin. “It’s a cable sports network that shows games. You know, on the TV.”

 “Yeah, alright.” Liam’s pursed lips morphed into an unbidden smile.

 It was impossible not to note how the tension in the room had slipped away. The looks that passed between them carried a certain playfulness once they were forced to accept the inconceivable fact that they were both here in the same city, at the same school, and even in the same class. And into that ease slipped the feelings of attraction and memories of the intimacy they’d found on Liam’s mattress by the end of their night together. Liam had sought hidden parts of Zach’s body with his fingers. That small, insinuating touch, burned into his memory, had ignited such terrified want in Zach’s bright blue eyes that Liam had known that he would have been allowed to feel Zach from the inside if only they’d had more time. One more night. One more hour, even. And now here Zach was, standing before him. It was as baffling as it was thrilling. Liam certainly wouldn’t mind if they wound up hooking up again.

 “Look,” Zach started, “This is crazy that you’re here, and I hope you love your time at Northwestern as much as I have, but it’s probably for the best if we don’t interact.”

 Liam was rendered mute.

 “I mean, I know we’re in class together,” Zach continued. “We’ll have to interact, discussion grades and everything, but what I mean is, we shouldn’t be friendly.”

 “Why not?” Liam asked after another stunned beat.

 “It’s nothing personal. In fact, I think you’re—” Zach stopped. He pressed his eyes closed and shook his head sadly. He took another steadying breath before speaking again. “It would make things really difficult for me. Like I told you in Rome, no one knows about me. About me and…” He spoke the next word at a careful volume. “Men. In fact, you’re the only person on this entire campus who does.”

 Zach’s sexuality was a secret that should have bound them. But instead, Zach was using it to put a wedge between them, between even the possibility of them. Liam didn’t think the conversation could get any more ridiculous.

 

About the Author  

I named myself “Ingrid” after a character in a story I started writing and will never finish.

I named myself “Sterling” after my dad’s boyhood dreams.

I’m a Yankee who has lived south of the Mason Dixon for a decade and I use ‘Y’all’ without irony. I dance in my kitchen. I vote. I love all the cats in the world and a good IPA. I will scream over college sports.

I write about love, with love, because #loveislove. 

With two degrees in music performance, I strive to make my words sing. The rhythm and pacing of the prose are as important to me as my complicated, imperfect characters and my guaranteed happily-ever-afters.

 

 

Author Links

Blog/Website  |  Twitter  |  Instagram  |  Newsletter Sign-up

 

Giveaway 

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one of three ebook copies of All the Way Out

a Rafflecopter giveaway
 

 

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New Release – Naughty & Nice by DJ Jamison #KindleUnlimited #giveaway

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Book Title: Naughty & Nice

Author: DJ Jamison

Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood

Release Date: November 19, 2020

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance 

Tropes: Ex-stepbrothers, snowed in, holidays 

Themes: Christmas, family, making up for past mistakes

Length: approx. 60 000 words

Heat Rating:  4 flames     

It is a standalone story.

Goodreads 

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

Why can’t I forget your kiss…

 

Blurb

Why can’t I forget your kiss…

Dear Quinn,

Why must I have these feelings for you? You’re my ex-stepbrother, and nothing will change that truth, no matter how many letters I write. 

I never expected to see you again–or to rescue you from the side of the road in a blizzard. I didn’t think you would ever like me, much less kiss me in a steaming hot tub on a snowy night. It seems we make better lovers than brothers, which is all kinds of naughty and nice while we’re snowed in together.

But can this new intimacy last when the skies clear and my family finally arrives for the holidays, or are we just two guys in a mountain cabin with a great view of everything we want but can’t have?

Hopelessly yours,

Jonas

 

Naughty & Nice is set in the same universe as Secret Admirer but stands alone.

 

Excerpt 

“So, this is the hot tub,” I said, apropos of nothing.

“Yep,” he said, grinning. “Nothing gets by you.”

“I’m very observant that way,” I said, nodding seriously. I looked around as if taking in my surroundings, and when I got back to Jonas, I looked at him boldly, straight-on, my gaze skimming from his lips to his shoulders to his nipples, visible just above the water line.

He cleared his throat. “I’m starting to notice that.”

I wasn’t being subtle.

I’d angled for this to happen. To be in this hot tub with Jonas. I’d told him I wanted to soak away the cold in my bones, and that wasn’t a lie, but it wasn’t entirely true either. I’d wanted to get closer to him. Wanted to feel another flash of the heat I was sure I’d seen in his eyes at dinner. Maybe it was an anomaly, and we’d have a soak and move on with our lives. Or maybe…

Maybe it’d combust, given the right circumstances.

To my frustration, Jonas’s phone chimed with a message. He looked away to pick it up. I watched as his lips quirked into a smile while he tapped out a response. He’d gotten a couple of these texts in the car too, tonight. It wasn’t like before, when he was avoiding messages. This was someone else.

“Who’s texting you?”

He glanced up, then irritatingly right back down to the phone. “No one important.”

I huffed. “They have a lot of your attention.” My stomach tightened. “Is it a hookup?”

Jonas didn’t answer immediately, and every second wound my insides a little bit tighter. If Jonas had someone in his life—or more than one, as his busy phone led me to believe—I wouldn’t be surprised. Why wouldn’t someone want him? He was effortlessly gorgeous; I’d seen him roll out of bed and ruffle his hair with his hand and look fabulous. That was it; his whole morning routine. And there I was in front of the mirror, trying to tame flyaway hairs and choosing my clothing with care. He was smart and self-reliant too. He didn’t bail on school or his future just because he was in a messy relationship. He dealt with life. Guys like him were never alone.

I edged closer, our legs brushing underwater. “Is it someone you’re serious about?”

“Nah, I don’t do serious.”

“Why not?”

His eyes met mine and held. “Tried it once. It didn’t suit me.”

I suspected he meant me, even though that didn’t make any sense. We’d never had a relationship. We’d had one brief kiss, and that was it. Surely he hadn’t been serious about his stepbrother with a bad attitude? I must be reading too much into that look…

“So, you’re texting with a non-serious hookup?”

He set the phone aside, lips quirking. “A potential hookup. Guy lives near here—”

I slapped my hand onto the surface of the water. “Oh, hell no!”

He laughed a little in disbelief. “What?”

Something came over me. All the tension that had stretched between us, all my restraint, snapped.

“No,” I repeated. “No hookups with other guys while you’re here.”

He raised an eyebrow. “Other guys?”

I was busted. He saw right through me, to the jealousy I had no right to have. I sucked in my bottom lip, tasting the faint tang of chlorine from the water droplets that had misted my face.

“Go on, Quinn. If you’ve got something to say about my sex life, I’m all ears.”

My face flushed hot. Words of apology were on the tip of my tongue. It wasn’t my place; it was none of my business.

Unless I made it my business.

Pulse speeding up, I turned toward him. “I’ve got nothing to say.”

“No? Because it seemed—”

I pushed forward in a rush, letting my mouth do the talking. Our lips pressed, clung. Jonas’s breath caught as I licked his bottom lip. Then, as if I’d hit fast-forward on a video, he was all in. His hand clamped around the back of my neck, pulling me hard against him as he deepened the kiss. My blood leapt with the thrill of lust and adrenaline as his tongue slid along mine, tasting and teasing. Jonas was a skilled kisser, advancing and retreating, giving me just enough to want more, then changing tactics to wind me up all over again.

The kiss went on forever. One kiss blended into the next. We sipped air as we repositioned our mouths, kissing one direction, then the other.

I was burning up in the steamy water, and yet I was shivering as cold winter air brushed over my neck and shoulders.

Jonas grabbed my hips, dragging me into his lap. I felt how hard he was, and ground down against him until he groaned satisfyingly against my mouth.

“Fuck, baby.”

“No.” I finally pulled back to look into his eyes. “I’m not baby, or honey, or any other thing you call your hookups. I’m Quinn.”

His voice was husky but soft as he responded. “Quinn.”

I shivered to hear my name in that sexy, velvet tone.

“You sure you want to do this with me?” he asked. “I know we’re not related by blood, but…”

Was I sure it was a good idea? No. But did I want it? Desperately.

“We’re not brothers.”

 

 

About the Author 

DJ Jamison writes romances about everyday life and extraordinary love featuring a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual. DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, one snake, and a sadistic cat named Birdie.

 

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |  Facebook  |  Facebook Group  |   Twitter: @dj_jamison_ 

Instagram  |   Newsletter Sign-up  |   KoFi for bonus content  |  BookBub

 

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

$10 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

 

Follow the tour and check out the other blog posts and reviews here

New Release – Gingerbread Mistletoe by Amy Aislin #KindleUnlimited #giveaway

BLOG TOUR

Book Title: Gingerbread Mistletoe

Author: Amy Aislin

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Natasha Snow

Series: Lighthouse Bay #2

Genre/s: Contemporary m/m holiday romance

Trope/s: Enemies to lovers, small town, forced proximity

Heat Rating: 2 flames 

Length: 62,000 words 

It’s book two in the Lighthouse Bay series, but can be read as a standalone. 

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available in Kindle Unlimited

Universal Amazon Link  |  Amazon US  |   Amazon UK 

 

 

Blurb 

The last thing Jeff wants is to spend time with the man who totaled his car—the one he spent years restoring with his late father. But if he wants to resurrect his childhood town’s annual outdoor hockey tournament, he’s got no choice.

The last thing Mika wants is to work with the guy who took off right after the accident, without ensuring he was okay. And working together on organizing Jeff’s proposed tournament sounds like a complete nightmare. He’s got enough on his plate after surviving cancer.

Sparks fly as they’re forced to work together, but is that enough for them to set their differences aside and pull off the tournament in only two weeks? Or will they prove to be immune to the magic of Christmas?

 

 

Excerpt

Standing, he held a hand out to the man who was so much his type it was almost laughable. Three or four inches taller than Mika’s own five-ten height, dark brown hair that shone red under the warehouse’s lights, like the deepest shade of mahogany, with charcoal-gray at the temples and above his ears, and lines that fanned out from narrow eyes a dark shade of blue. A high forehead in a heart-shaped face and the physique of a footballer completed the package.

All of that wouldn’t have been a big deal on its own, but the way he held himself with the cool confidence of someone who knew his place in the world?

Yowza. Talk about Mika’s type wrapped in a black wool coat and a stubbled jaw more gray than brown. He’d have been giving Jeff his number if the guy wasn’t scowling at him.

Wait, that scowl . . .

Jeff stared at his outstretched hand. “No.”

“Uh.” Rearing back, Mika dropped his arm back to his side. “Excuse me?”

Zach crept up behind him, gaze swinging from Mika to Jeff. “What’s wrong?”

Jeff waved a hand at Mika. “This is the guy you want me to work with?” He put special emphasis on this, as though Mika were a criminal who’d steal his wallet when he wasn’t looking. Straightening his spine, Mika planted his hands on his hips.

Zach blinked once. “Yes?”

Holland Stone—Zach’s boyfriend and Mika’s ex—approached from where he’d been working on his float for the parade, clad in a dusty T-shirt and even dustier jeans. He squinted at Jeff before turning to Zach and Mika. “You two okay?” He held a hammer in one hand like he meant to wield it. Not that he ever would, but the image would’ve made Mika chuckle had he not been so confused.

And frankly? Kind of hurt. What the hell had he ever done to this guy?

“I can’t work with him.” There was no give in Jeff’s tone.

“Why not?” Zach stepped in close to Mika, butting in against his left side. “Mika’s the best.”

Aw. The ire in Mika’s chest faded a little at Zach’s words. It was nice of him to say, especially since Mika had made the worst of first impressions on him last Christmas.

The amount of disgust in Jeff’s scoff would’ve been impressive had it not been directed at Mika. “I’m not working with the guy who totaled my dad’s car.”

Mika’s head jerked back. “What?”

Zach and Holland swung their gazes his way.

“I didn’t!” Taking a step back, he raised both hands. “I’ve never totaled anybody’s car in my life.”

“Oh no?” Jeff argued, raising both eyebrows, and god, the sarcasm. “Not even a turquoise 1956 Chevy Nomad near the Bluffs in Pacific Palisades? About this time last year? Ring any bells?”

That was where Mika knew this guy from! Jesus, he was still holding a grudge? “Okay, first of all, I apologized, like, seven times. Second, I gave you my number. It’s not my problem that you didn’t call. Like I said—I would’ve paid to get it fixed. And third.” Leaning over the desk, he narrowed his eyes on a squinty-eyed Jeff Bellmoor. “Totaled?”

Jeff winced. “Fine. That’s maybe the wrong word.” Uttered so begrudgingly, it was a miracle he managed to say the words at all. “But like I said—it’s not about the damage.”

A huff of exasperation escaped Mika and he threw his hands up. “I don’t know what that means.” He hadn’t known then either.

“Never mind.” Rubbing his forehead, Jeff turned away. “You wouldn’t understand.”

 

 

About the Author  

 

Amy’s lived with her head in the clouds since she first picked up a book as a child, and being fluent in two languages means she’s read a lot of books! She first picked up a pen on a rainy day in fourth grade when her class had to stay inside for recess. Tales of treasure hunts with her classmates eventually morphed into love stories between men, and she’s been writing ever since. She writes evenings and weekends—or whenever she isn’t at her full-time day job saving the planet at Canada’s largest environmental non-profit.

An unapologetic introvert, Amy reads too much and socializes too little, with no regrets. She loves connecting with readers. Join her Facebook Group, Amy Aislin’s Readers, to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram and Twitter, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.

 

Author Links

Website  |  Facebook group  |  Facebook page  |  Facebook

Newsletter  |  Instagram  |  BookBub  |  Twitter  

Pinterest  |  Goodreads  |  QueeRomance Ink

 

Giveaway 

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

signed paperback of Gingerbread Mistletoe

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Hosted by Gay Book Promotions

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New Release – Cabin Fever by Roe Horvat #KindleUnlimited #giveaway

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Cabin Fever

Author: Roe Horvat

Publisher: Self-Published

Cover Artist: Roe Horvat

Release Date: June 18 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M erotic romance

Trope/s: forced proximity, bodyguard, Daddy/boy, hurt/comfort

Themes: bodyguard and his client, remote cabin in the woods, light kink,

submission, punishment, bratty boy, protective & controlling Daddy

Warning: self-harm off page

Heat Rating:  5 flames    

Length: 41 000 words

It is a standalone story.

Goodreads 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

Blurb

Michael Bourgeon is a talented artist, young and gorgeous, a stinking rich heir from a well-connected family. He’s the infamous libertine behind the most extravagant parties in Manhattan, and his exploits often lead to juicy tabloid stories. Enjoying his wealth and freedom to the fullest, Michael has the world at his feet.
Until someone tries to kill him. Repeatedly. After a security breach among his own staff, he has run out of options where to hide while the FBI hunts the killer.
A high-profile private security expert Vincent Nowak is supposed to provide the miracle solution. And while Michael struggles with nightmares and anxiety due to the looming threat, Vincent becomes not only the ultimately reliable protector, but a wonderful distraction, too…
A small cabin in the woods, a cocky brat with a soft heart, his gruff, controlling bodyguard, and weeks of tension in a confined space.

A standalone novella based on the original short story Yes, Daddy. HAE, no cliffhangers.

 

Excerpt 

“The rules, Michael.”

“I was literally ten steps away from the cabin, Vincent.” I wanted to defend myself more, but my voice sounded shaky and weak. I snapped my mouth shut.

His hand on my neck tightened, and he pushed me through the door. I stumbled but regained my balance. Vincent shut the door behind us and turned to me.

“Did you do it to rile me up, Mikey?” His expression stayed suspiciously neutral.

“No,” I answered honestly. “I was just bored. You were in your room doing whatever, and I didn’t want to disturb you.”

“My work here is for nothing if you don’t follow the rules.”

I knew it wasn’t his intention, but the command in his voice did things to me. I licked my lips. Don’t think about the fear. You’re safe. Look at him. His shoulders are rising with angry breaths, his eyes flashing with fury. He’s gorgeous…

“Fucking hell, Mikey. I mean it!”

“I’m sorry.” I was getting hard. He was magnificent when he was pissed at me.

“Stop looking at me like that. This is serious.”

“I know.” But I couldn’t help it. My nipples were tingling, and I had to swallow. “Will you punish me?”

“No, you fucking incubus. I’m not rewarding you for endangering yourself on a whim, dammit. You will follow the rules, Michael. How is it possible that if I tell you to keep your hands off your dick, you obey me, but if I ask you to be reasonable so I can keep you alive, you don’t care?”

He was frustrated with me. Shit. It seemed like I wasn’t getting any tonight. My nerves quivered again, my anxiety looming close. Double shit.

“My people report to me every day about everything and anything that happens in the area,” Vincent said. “It takes quite a lot of effort, but it means I can let you out to breathe sometimes. If you do this again, I’ll fucking lock you in the panic room for the rest of the week, I swear.”

“I’m really sorry, Vincent. I won’t do it again.”

He shook his head and took a deep breath, bracing his hands on his hips.

“You are the client from hell, you know that?” His words were hard, but his voice sounded gentle.

Yeah, I wouldn’t want to babysit myself either. “I can double your pay.”

He chuckled at that. “No money can compensate for what you’re doing to me, Mikey.”

I drew in a breath. I was lousy at expressing emotion. Seriously, complete shit at that part. I mean, in sex, I could tell anything and everything, but actual feelings? This man worked tirelessly to keep my stupid head intact, and I only made it more difficult for him from the start because I was a sex-crazed, twisted nervous wreck. I had no words to explain to him how grateful and how sorry I was.

So I stripped naked in the middle of the room and knelt on the floor while Vincent stared, mouth parted, eyes burning. I bent my head in complete submission, arms hanging limply by my sides, and spoke quietly.

“I’m so sorry, Daddy. I promise I won’t break the rules again. Please, forgive me.”

I closed my eyes and waited.

 

 

 

About the Author 

Queer fiction author Roe Horvat was born in the post-communist wasteland of former Czechoslovakia. Equipped with a dark sense of sarcasm, Roe traveled Europe and finally settled in Sweden. He came out as transgender in 2017 and has been fabulous since. He loves Jane Austen, Douglas Adams, bad action movies, stand-up comedy, and pale ale. When not hiding in the studio doing graphics, he can be found trolling cafés in Gothenburg, writing, and people-watching.

 

Social Media Links

Blog/Website  |   Facebook  |   Twitter  |   Newsletter Sign-up  |   

FREE Reads on Prolific Works

 

Giveaway

Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win

one of five e-book copies from Roe’s backlist

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

 

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New Release – Hazardous Things (Star Shadow, #3) #KindleUnlimited #giveaway

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Hazardous Things (Star Shadow, #3)

Author: Beth Bolden

Publisher: Beth Bolden Books

Cover Artist: Cate Ashwood Designs

Release Date: May 29, 2020

Genre/s: MM Rock Star Romance, Friends to Lovers,

Bisexual Awakening, Forced Proximity

Heat Rating: 4 flames   

Length:  80 000 words

It is NOT a standalone story. Reviewers/readers need to have read either Terrible Things or both Terrible Things and Impossible Things.

Goodreads

 

Buy Links – Available on Kindle Unlimited

Universal Link

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK 

 

 

Blurb

Felix Humphries can’t even remember the first time he crushed on Star Shadow’s drummer, Max McCloud.

It’s been an embarrassingly long time, but he’s still never acted on his feelings. One, because Max is his older brother’s best friend. Two, because Max is also his friend. Three, Max is technically his boss. And four, worst of all, Max is straight.

But when Max unexpectedly needs a caretaker for a few weeks, Felix can’t leave his friend in the lurch. He’s all ready to suffer through being so close but not close enough, when the unexpected happens.

Max isn’t straight after all, and what Max wants is Felix—but only in his bed, not in his heart.

Hazardous Things is the third book in the Star Shadow series and should not be read as a standalone. 

 

Excerpt

When Felix came back into Max’s room, the nurse in tow, Max was still awake. He was staring out the window, a harmless drugged smile on his face.

“He’s gonna sleep for a while,” the nurse said, “at least when you get him back home.”

“I’m assuming he’s better off sleeping than being coherent and in pain,” Felix said quietly.

“Oh yeah,” the nurse said. “There’s prescriptions for the pain. And it’ll be significant. Make sure he takes them. If he doesn’t, it’s going to be real uncomfortable for both of you.”

“That won’t be a problem. I’m staying with him,” Felix said. After all, once he committed to something, he committed to it.

“I see you’re awake again,” the nurse said, going over to Max’s side. “How you feel about taking off?”

“Home,” Max repeated firmly.

“That’s right,” the nurse said, and after donning a pair of gloves, began to work on getting the IV out of Max’s arm.

Felix wasn’t exactly squeamish—he’d better not be, anyway, considering that the nurse had already gone over Max’s care instructions and he would definitely be the one changing the surgical dressing and making sure it stayed clean—but it was hard to watch when it was Max. When it was someone he cared about as much as he did Max.

Especially when Felix saw Max flinch.

“Hey,” Felix said, reaching for Max’s other hand and tangling those long, calloused fingers with his own. There’d been a point when he’d have cut off his other hand just to hold hands with the man in front of him, but he couldn’t think about that now. Now, he needed to distract Max from the IV being removed.

“Heeeeey,” Max said, and that was definitely not what Felix had expected. Was that . . .a leer?

“Hi yourself,” Felix said, squeezing Max’s hand.

Max raised their joined hands and brushed them against Felix’s forehead. “Pretty,” he said. “So pretty.”

Felix ordered himself not to blush, but it was useless. He glanced up, and the nurse was looking at them. “Your brother, huh?” she asked, amusement in her voice.

He squirmed. “My brother’s best friend,” he finally confessed. He’d been worried that they wouldn’t let him stay in the waiting room during the surgery or wouldn’t let him in to see Max in recovery if he wasn’t a family member, so he’d fudged the truth a little.

“Ah, that kind of brother,” the nurse said, her voice knowing.

Even though Felix wanted to explain it couldn’t ever be like that, because Max wouldn’t ever be interested in him that way, he didn’t, because it was already humiliating enough that his crush was visible from space.

When this ordeal was over, the only person on earth who didn’t know was going to be Max himself—and Felix would do just about anything to keep it that way.

“I’m just about done here,” she continued. “Just keep him distracted for a moment longer.”

Max’s hazel eyes were speckled with green in this light, unfocused and utterly focused on Felix all at the same time.

“Hey, it’s gonna be alright,” Felix said, his voice so much more tender than he’d intended. If he looked up, he might see quiet amusement on the nurse’s face, but he didn’t look, because he was finding it tough to look away from Max.

“Alright?” Max repeated, but he didn’t sound certain. At least not certain enough for Felix’s peace of mind. Even if this was hard—even if it felt impossible—to be there for Max over the next few weeks, he knew deep down in his bones that it was the right thing to do. Max was alone and understandably, justifiably scared—and even if there was never anything more than friendship between them, Felix wanted to be the one who reassured him.

“It’s going to be more than alright,” Felix promised. Promised himself that he would do whatever it took to make this vow come true.

 

About the Author 

A lifelong Oregonian, Beth Bolden has just recently moved to North Carolina with her supportive husband and their sweet kitten, Earl Grey. Beth still believes in Keeping Portland Weird, and intends to be just as weird in Raleigh.

Beth has been writing practically since she learned the alphabet. Unfortunately, her first foray into novel writing, titled Big Bear with Sparkly Earrings, wasn’t a bestseller, but hope springs eternal. She’s published seventeen novels and six novellas.

 

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