I’m so happy and honored to be a part of the Xpresso Book Tours blitz celebrating the release of the heartwrenching romance Dear Holden by Kathleen Maree’! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win an ebook copy of your own choice!
It all started with a letter.
This letter I am now holding in shaky hands that I must have read at least a dozen times already. A letter I felt compelled to retrieve from the public trashcan after that woman all but tossed it away. I know it was none of my business. It was wrong, and I know that. But after suffering through the kinds of loss that I had, my gut insisted that whoever took the time to write down their words didn’t deserve them to be left in the trash like they didn’t matter.
Because they should matter.
What’s the big deal right? It’s just a letter…
But the problem was, my name wasn’t Daphne.
And I wrote a letter back.
About the author
Kathleen grew up in the south-western suburbs of Sydney, where family holidays by the beach and tormenting her two younger brothers, was how she spent her early years. But at the young age of 11, when she submitted a short story to a talented writing competition through the NSW schools program, not only did she win it, but she quickly found a love for it as well.
Throughout her schooling, writing was a hobby, along with sketching and various sports. But fast forward to her adult years when she moved to Europe to follow her husbands field hockey dream, and her love for writing surged to the surface.
Her debut story, Cut, was penned over two years where her hobby seemed to lead to the completion of Pennys’ world. The rest of the series came the following year.
Kathleen enjoys writing stories full of self-discovery, emotional journeys and of course, love.
Something else she loves is hearing from her readers, so feel free to follow her blog or drop her an email.
For signed copies of her novels, more information about upcoming stories, or to follow her blog, please visit her website www.kathleenmaree.weebly.com
Connect with Kathleen Mareé
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I’m so happy to be part of Gay Book Promotions blog tour celebrating the release of the wonderful feelgood Christmas story A Gift-Wrapped Holiday by Amy Aislin! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win your own signed paperbook copy!
Mal’s first priority is giving his six-year-old son the best Christmas ever, a goal made trickier by a recent move to New England after losing his job. As a single dad, he’s not looking for romance—especially not with a blond California boy ten years his junior.
After being ridiculed at the family business, Luca sets out to prove himself by opening an eco-friendly gift-wrapping store in a small town with a hard-on for Christmas that’s about as far from LA as he can get. Out of his comfort zone in snowy Maine, love is the last thing on his mind.
But the magic of the season has other ideas. As Mal and Luca collide on wintery streets, will they let their first Christmas in Lighthouse Bay lead to happily ever after?
Content warning: stillbirth. Although it took place off-page and in the past, it is discussed on-page.
Mal slowed at the bottom of a driveway and nodded at the house. “This is me.”
“I was wondering who lived here,” Luca said, taking in the house’s boxy structure.
“Why? Because it’s hideous?”
That startled a laugh out of Luca. “Well . . . yes. It doesn’t match the rest of the houses.” The area just west of Christmas Lane housed Lighthouse Bay’s historic homes, but this modern construction was decidedly not historic. Luca had passed it a couple of times on his evening gift deliveries and wondered what the owner had been thinking. “Why’d you buy it if you don’t like it?”
“I’m not. I’m leasing.”
Even so, Mal had gone all out with the decorations. Icicle lights hanging from the roof, flashing multicolored lights framed around each window, static white lights around a nine-foot-tall pine tree, and a lit-up reindeer family. He even had some sort of spotlights buried somewhere in the yard that swirled red and green snowflakes on the house in an unidentifiable pattern.
“Which is probably another reason I haven’t unpacked,” Mal continued. “I hate this place.”
“Why lease it, then?”
Mal blew out a breath that ghosted the air in front of him. “The short version is that I was in a rush.”
“And the long version?”
“The long version is something I’ll have to give you another time.”
Luca glanced at Otis. “I think he’s asleep.”
“Bet he gets a second wind as soon as I walk in the door.” Mal’s voice was a disgruntled grumble that Luca shouldn’t have found as charming as he did.
“Thanks for walking us home.”
“Thanks for letting me. I like talking to you.”
Mal’s smile went lopsided. “I like talking to you too. Still want to do it again sometime? I promise not to feed you ice cream while it’s below freezing outside. Real food only. Scout’s honor.”
Luca’s armpits went damp despite the winter weather, and butterflies took flight in his belly. He dug his toe into the sidewalk. “You must really want to date me if you’ve asked me out twice in one week.”
“Or I just want an adult to talk to for once,” Mal said, a teasing tilt to his smile.
Luca stuck his tongue in his cheek and backed down the driveway, keeping his gaze on Mal’s. “Or maybe you like me.”
“Damn. And here I thought I wasn’t being obvious at all.”
The butterflies floated into Luca’s throat. “Text me?”
“I will.” The darkness enveloped Mal as he moved away from the sidewalk and into the shadow of the house, but Luca could still see the quirk to his lips. “Good night, Luca.”
Luca watched Mal and Otis head inside, waved at Mal through the glass-fronted door, then turned toward his own home only a couple blocks away, an extra bounce to his steps.
This was such a wonderful feelgood story with all the right Christmassy ingredients; Christmas markets, charity tournaments, hot chocolate, gift-wrapping, family celebrations and of course, a truly sweet and heartwarming love story. Great fleshed-out and relatable characters, with a wonderful small town community. Very low on angst, but full of warmth, forgiveness, redemption and kindness. Highly recommended for anyone who wants to get into the Christmas spirit and read a book that will warm your heart and make you smile!
You can find my full review here: A Gift-Wrapped Holiday by Amy Aislin
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 to stay up-to-date on upcoming releases and for access to early teasers, find her on Instagram, or sign up for her infrequent newsletter.
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I’m so happy to be a part of Xpresso Book Tours blitz for the dazzling and evocative romance Maybe in Monaco by Kaya Quinsey Holt! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win your own ebook copy!
Immerse yourself in the dazzling world of best-selling author Kaya Quinsey Holt’s in this evocative romance full of “unrest, deceit, and heartbreak in one of Europe’s most spectacular places” (Readers Favorite).
Charlotte Levant left Monaco ten years ago in order to allow the man she loved to pursue his dream but she left with more than a broken heart. Only a select few knew that she gave up her baby. Facing a personal crisis, Charlotte returns to Monaco, thinking she can quietly sneak back without a fuss. But it’s hard to keep a secret in Monaco.
For recently retired Formula One driver Freddie Ridgeport, losing Charlotte was more painful than a car crash, but he quickly found company among his fans. Now back in Monaco, the responsibility of caring for nine-year-old Nicholas has been thrust upon him after he is unexpectedly named as the legal guardian in a will.
Will fate finally reunite these star-crossed lovers? And if so, can the truth make up for a ten-year-long secret that runs deeper than the adjacent Mediterranean sea?
“So, where are you visiting from?” the taxi driver asked, turning briefly to look at her.
Charlotte smiled. “Manhattan.” The driver returned his attention to the road. New York City was another world, Charlotte mused as the car performed a hot lap past the Monte Carlo Casino. A throng of tourists with cameras crossed in front of the taxi, slowing all of the traffic behind it. Perhaps the two cities had some similarities, Charlotte thought.
Today, the body of water and anonymity that protected Charlotte was 4,000 miles away.
Charlotte was a French teacher at a private school on the Upper East Side, where she put her New York University education to use. Ample time, money, and effort were spent on rebuilding her life—an accomplishment she previously thought unimaginable. What Charlotte accomplished in those ten years astonished her and her grandmother.
In Manhattan, Charlotte cultivated a refined and private image. She socialized vigilantly, and her acquaintances consisted mainly of private school colleagues. Though she scarcely noticed, Charlotte was admired and desired by many. Charlotte enticed people with her softness, attentiveness in conversations (aided by her social media avoidance), adoration for anything vintage, and passion for French impressionist art. However, Charlotte’s romantic affairs were often cut short, and she developed a reputation for fleeing when relationships threatened to become too serious or prodding.
The men who courted Charlotte inevitably crashed into the walls that guarded her. Privacy was Charlotte’s priority, and the less that people knew about her, the better. She feared the discovery of her imperfections, which lurked beneath every layer.
Charlotte preferred blending in to standing out. As usual, she was dressed in simple, high-quality items, which she—or her relatives—had owned for years. Her haphazardly-piled, classic travel bags were passed down from Charlotte’s late mother, and her antique camera and matching leather bag belonged to her late father.
Contrary to her intention, Charlotte’s subtleties spawned second glances. Strangers couldn’t help noticing the authentic glamour of her well-worn Hermes handbag, slightly upturned nose, chestnut blunt cut grazing her freckled collarbones, and sparkling eyes that never gave anything away.
Slowly, Charlotte’s destination crept into sight. Le Soleil was a luxury condominium with coastal views of the Côte d'Azur. Charlotte dreaded stepping out of the car, and wondered if returning was a dire mistake. “Monaco is my home,” she silently repeated, as she promised herself she would.
The driver slowed to a stop, and carefully unloaded the aged Keepalls onto the unblemished cobblestone.
Charlotte remained still for a few more moments, summoning enough willpower to open the door. Once she touched her feet to the ground, the truth would land. She was in Monaco.
The trunk of the cab shut with a thud that rocked the whole vehicle. Taking a few deep breaths, Charlotte opened the door and set one ballet flat onto the pavement. She was home.
The suitcases appeared smaller and fewer to Charlotte when she left Manhattan. The driver gawked at the mountain of luggage that now blocked the sidewalk.
“That’s everything,” Charlotte lied, for the driver knew not of her heaviest baggage, smuggled into Monaco upon her freckle-dusted shoulders.
Charlotte paid the driver and watched as the car faded into a sea of traffic. She glanced helplessly at the unattended concierge desk and sighed. Keeping a watchful eye on her remaining belongings, Charlotte hauled her luggage into the air-conditioned lobby. She was no stranger to strenuous labor, but her arms ached and her breath grew heavier with each bag.
Ten years since she stepped foot on that cobblestone sidewalk. Ten years since she left the country—and the person—she loved. Ten years since she fled with two hearts beating inside of her. Ten years, and she was still wondering if she made the right decision. Ten years, she kept a secret.
But it was very hard to keep a secret in Monaco.
I’m so happy to be part of Gay Book Promotions blog tour celebrating the release of the adorable Hockey Ever After series! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!
Falling for his teammate wasn’t in the game plan….
Winging It (book 1) blurb
Hockey is Gabe Martin's life. Dante Baltierra just wants to have some fun on his way to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Falling for a teammate isn't in either game plan.
But plans change.
When Gabe gets outed, it turns his careful life upside-down. The chaos messes with his game and sends his team headlong into a losing streak. The last person he expects to pull him through it is Dante.
This season isn’t going the way Dante thought it would. Gabe’s sexuality doesn’t faze him, but his own does. Dante’s always been a “what you see is what you get” kind of guy, and having to hide his attraction to Gabe sucks. But so does losing, and his teammate needs him, so he puts in the effort to snap Gabe out of his funk.
He doesn’t mean to fall in love with the guy.
Getting involved with a teammate is a bad idea, but Dante is shameless, funny, and brilliant at hockey. Gabe can’t resist. Unfortunately, he struggles to share part of himself that he’s hidden for years, and Dante chafes at hiding their relationship. Can they find their feet before the ice slips out from under them?
Excerpt from Winging It
Dante waited in the lobby, curled into a chair that wasn’t quite big enough to be comfortable. He kept his back to the flow of people and his nose buried in his phone. Any other night, sure, he would be happy to sign autographs. Tonight… his brain was going to endlessly replay the scene he’d just walked in on.
How had he not known Gabe was into men? It seemed obvious now. Of course he never picked women up in bars or brought a girlfriend to a team event. Dante felt stupid for not noticing.
Somehow Dante had stumbled onto a huge secret.
And now he had to work out what to do about it.
First, though, apparently he was going to think about Gabe’s broad palm on his partner’s chest. Gabe was a big guy—two inches taller than Dante, even if Dante was more solidly built. His partner had been clinging to Gabe’s muscular shoulder.
He should stop thinking about it, but his brain was trying to fill in details. Where had Gabe’s other hand been? Had it been placed on his partner’s thigh? Had he been putting his weight on it to steady himself? Or maybe he’d used it to tilt the man’s face to the right angle.
Dante exhaled sharply. This was really, really not his business. Dwelling on it would not do him any favors. He needed to pretend everything was normal. And obsessing about your teammate feeling up some guy—and kissing, can’t forget the kissing—was not that.
So. Normal. He’d been sexiled by a roommate. That was fine! It had happened before. Today, actually. He hoped Yorkie was having a better night than Gabe.
Most importantly, sexiling was normal.
Was it hot in here?
Footsteps jarred him out of his spiral, and he looked up to see Gabe walking toward him, head down, shoulders hunched. He didn’t exactly have the look of the freshly laid about him.
Or, like, probably not.
Gabe dropped into the chair across from him. He was loudly projecting that he would rather stand in front of fifty of Kitty’s slap shots than have this conversation.
At least they were on even footing in that respect.
Dante put his phone away. “So, uh, sorry for cockblocking you.” Even if it’s kind of your fault. Who doesn’t use the Do Not Disturb sign? Why didn’t you tell me to pound rocks when I asked to share?
Considering the circumstances, he kept a lid on these criticisms. He could bring them up later, when Gabe didn’t look like he was about to puke all over the hotel lobby.
“I wasn’t expecting it to be a problem,” Gabe said. He slumped farther, but Dante thought his shoulders were relaxing too. “Did you strike out or something?”
“Sort of. We passed her ex on the way back to her place and she made it like ten more feet before she burst into tears. So we stopped at Dairy Queen for ice cream, and then she went to the bathroom and fixed her makeup and we took a selfie for her Instagram, and I came back here.”
The color returned to Gabe’s face and he met Dante’s gaze for the first time since that hideously awkward moment upstairs. “Guess neither of us is getting laid tonight,” he said, a little tentatively, like he wasn’t sure Dante would laugh.
“I won’t tell if you won’t.”
“Deal,” Gabe said. The lines of tension in his face disappeared under a relieved half smile.
Good. Dante was glad they’d settled that. “Great.” He yawned. “So can we go upstairs now? I’ve had just enough booze and ice cream to make me sleepy.”
When they got up to the hotel room, Dante said, “I wish you’d told me you liked guys.” His shoes thunked dully against the wall as he kicked them off. “I wouldn’t have tried so hard to hook you up with chicks last season.” Or last week.
Gabe stared at Dante’s shoes. Then he lined his own up neatly under the desk. “It’s not something I advertise.”
“No shit.” Dante shimmied out of his jeans.
After a beat, Gabe said, “You’re being really cool about this.”
Dante sat in the desk chair. He had a habit of saying the first thing that came to mind, and right now that was Actually, I’m kind of freaking out. He needed to take his time. “I mean, obviously I’m not mad or upset or whatever. I’m—accepting? Ugh, that’s a garbage word.” He huffed, frustrated with himself. “Look, you’re… gay?”
The muscle at the hinge of Gabe’s jaw bunched. “Yeah.”
“Cool.” He drummed the fingers of his left hand on the desktop, realized he was doing it, and forced himself to stop. “And obviously if you haven’t told the team, you’re expecting some of them to be assholes. And that sucks. Because as far as I’m concerned, my reaction? Is, like, a pretty low bar.”
Gabe rubbed the back of his neck. “I mean, it’s not like you could come in and introduce yourself.”
If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em. Dante was losing his grip on reality. “Yeah, maybe not. You mind if I shower now? I stink like dance club.”
“Sure. I’m just gonna….” Gabe picked up the television remote.
The television came on, and a moment later Dante closed the bathroom door behind him and started the water. Mechanically, he removed his clothes and stepped under the spray. The hot water sluiced over him, washing away the sweat and club grime and what had maybe been just a little too much hair gel.
But the image of Gabe kissing another man on the bed in their hotel room stuck with him, and now, in relative privacy and naked, alone with his thoughts, Dante was forced to confront the truth of his own semi.
“I did not see this coming,” he muttered as he reached for his shampoo.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.
Scoring Position (book 2) blurb
Ryan Wright’s new hockey team is a dumpster fire. He expects to lose games—not his heart.
Ryan’s laid-back attitude should be an advantage in Indianapolis. Even if he doesn’t accomplish much on the ice, he can help his burned-out teammates off it. And no one needs a friend—or a hug—more than Nico Kirschbaum, the team’s struggling would-be superstar.
Nico doesn’t appreciate that management traded for another openly gay player and told them to make friends. Maybe he doesn’t know what his problem is, but he’ll solve it with hard work, not by bonding with the class clown.
It’s obvious to Ryan that Nico’s lonely, gifted, and cracking under pressure. No amount of physical practice will fix his mental game. But convincing Nico to let Ryan help means getting closer than is wise for Ryan’s heart—especially once he unearths Nico’s sense of humor.
Will Nico and Ryan risk making a pass, or will they keep missing 100 percent of the shots they don’t take?
This was such a wonderful and sweet mm hockey romance series, with the perfect amount of steam and lovable main characters with an absolutely sizzling chemistry! This series truly warmed my heart!
You can find my reviews of both books here: The Hockey Ever After Series by Ashlyn Kane and Morgan James
About the Authors
As an adult, she received a starred review in Publishers Weekly for her novel Fake Dating the Prince. There were quite a few years in the middle there, but who’s counting?
Her hobbies include DIY home decor, container gardening (no pulling weeds), music, and spending time with her enormous chocolate lapdog. She is the fortunate wife of a wonderful man, the daughter of two sets of great parents, and the proud older sister/sister-in-law of the world’s biggest nerds.
Morgan James is a clueless (older) millennial who’s still trying to figure out what they’ll be when they grow up and enjoying the journey to get there. Now, with a couple of degrees, a few stints in Europe, and more than one false start to a career, they eagerly wait to see what’s next. James started writing fiction before they could spell and wrote their first (unpublished) novel in middle school. They haven’t stopped writing since. Geek, artist, archer, and fanatic, Morgan tends to pass their free hours with in imaginary worlds and people on pages and screens—it’s an addiction. As is their love of coffee and tea. They live in Canada with their massive collection of unread books, where they are the personal servant of too many four-legged creatures.
Connect with Ashlyn Kane
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Today I’m excited to share a stop in the Promo Tour for Entangled With An Elf Prince by Amanda Ferreira! Enter the Bookstagram Giveaway hosted by MTMC Tours to win a $25USD Amazon gift card!
There’s a reason monster hunters are rarely human.
Immune to the mists that flood the woods every night, Keenyn is a dark elf prince with exactly one fear — that he’ll stray too far from his demi-god partner, Bren, and lose him to the curse.
After all, Keenyn’s seen what’s beneath that suit of armor. In detail. And if he ignores his best friend’s perfect body, god-like strength, and endless stamina, it’s obvious that Bren is just a man, as likely to die in the mists as any other.
Now, if only Keenyn’s ability to ignore things was foolproof...
Entangled With An Elf Prince is an adult standalone M/M fantasy romance novella perfect for fans of Ariana Nash, C.S. Pacat, Jennifer L. Armentrout, and Madeline Miller. Expect some spicy (18+) sexual situations and gore.
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I’m so happy to be a part of Xpresso Book Tours blog tour for the magical and engaging YA fantasy Stolen City by Elisa A. Bonnin! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win a print copy!
Twin thieves attempt to pull off a daring heist in Stolen City, the sophomore fantasy novel from Dauntless author Elisa A. Bonnin.
The city of Leithon is under Imperial occupation and Arian Athensor has made it her playground.
In stealing magical artifacts for the Resistance, bounding over rooftops to evade Imperial soldiers, and establishing herself as the darling thief of the underground, Arian lives a life wrapped in danger and trained towards survival. She’ll steal anything for the right price, and if she runs fast enough, she can almost escape the fact that her mother is dead, her father is missing, and her brother, Liam, is tamping down a wealth of power in a city that has outlawed magic.
But then the mysterious Cavar comes to town with a job for the twins: to steal an artifact capable of ripping the souls from the living–the same artifact that used to hang around the neck of Arian’s mother. Suddenly, her past is no longer buried under adrenaline but intimately tied to the mission at hand, and Arian must face her guilt and pain head-on in order to pull off the heist.
As Arian and Cavar infiltrate the strongest fortress in Leithon and Liam joins the Resistance as their resident mage, the twins find themselves embroiled in court politics and family secrets, and the mission becomes more than just another artifact theft. The target is now the Imperial rule, and Arian will go to any length necessary to steal her city back.
The Legend trilogy is one of my favorite dystopian/fantasy series and this book gave me such wonderful Legend vibes! It had the same kind of strong, fleshed out and morally grey characters and the same kind of creative and unique world building, plus a thrilling magical heist plot. I’m definitely hoping for a sequel to this magical and engaging story!
Read my full review here: Stolen City by Elisa A. Bonnin
A lifelong learner, Elisa is always convinced that she should “maybe take a class in something” and as a result, has amassed an eclectic collection of hobbies. But writing will always be her true love. Publishing a book has been her dream since she was eight years old, and she is thrilled to finally be able to share her stories. Dauntless is her first novel.
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I’m so happy to be a part of Gay Book Promotions book blast for the empowering and highly enjoyable Unexpected Departure by Shannon O’Connor! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win one of five ebook copies of Shannon O’Connor’s FF fake dating romance Only for the Summer!
Will she be able to confront her past, learn to move on, and learn to love herself?
Riley is stuck —in a job she hates, a toxic relationship, and in life. She knows the relationship is bad for her, but she also can’t seem to let her go. After catching her girlfriend cheating, again, she finds comfort at her favorite bar, with her best friend by her side.
After punching someone in the face and meeting a mysteriously gorgeous bartender, Riley thinks things may be changing. Sawyer is adventurous, sexy, and confident— all the things Riley yearns to be. And a sunrise motorcycle ride starts to give her hope that things can change.
When she suddenly gets a phone call from her brother, she discovers her estranged mother is dying. After almost a decade of silence, she’s forced to return to her small homophobic hometown, say goodbye, and confront her demons.
“Wanna dance?” We both turn and see a greasy guy at least twice our age. I bask in the audacity of men.
“NO THANKS!” I shout back over the loud music.
He ignores me and starts grinding on Luna’s ass and her eyes almost pop out of her head. She politely tries to move away but he follows her, keeping his body pinned to hers. Luna mouths ‘help’ so I try to pull her away.
“WE DON’T WANNA DANCE!” I yell at the guy. What the hell is wrong with men?
He either doesn’t hear me or he doesn’t seem to care because he grabs Luna’s other arm. She tries to get out of his grasp and he just laughs, enjoying her squirming. I turn to face this guy now. He’s barely an inch taller than me, with sweat stains under his armpits and oily black hair.
“We said NO! Now let go of my friend.” I am nose to nose with this guy and he still doesn’t let go.
“What are you going to do about it?” He laughs, and I can smell the onions he had for dinner on his breath.
Without hesitating, I take a step back as if I’m going to walk away before turning around at the last second and punching him square in the jaw. He stumbles backward, surprised by my strength and action. He falls to the ground, the crowd backing up to avoid catching him. He looks stunned for a moment before he looks angry.
I grab Luna’s hand and try to maneuver out of the crowd. We need to get out of here as fast as we can. Let me just say trying to run through a crowd of people, wearing heels, while half-drunk, and pulling your fully drunk best friend on your arm is not an easy feat.
I turn back to see if he’s still following us, giving me a second to catch my breath. He’s still halfway across the club but he seems to be looking for us, so I hold on tighter to Luna and pull her toward the exit. Only when I feel the cool breeze on my bare legs do I feel safe. We walk to get out of the way of people to where we can take a second to breathe.
“Dude, are you okay?” Luna’s eyes are wide and that’s when I finally realize the impact of my punch. My fist is starting to swell and my knuckles are quickly turning purple; only now do I feel how bad that hurt.
“Jeez, I wouldn’t wanna be on the other end of that hand.” The voice comes from next to us and I look up curiously.
A woman about our age is leaning against the brick wall smoking a cigarette, looking like something out of a magazine. She’s wearing tight dark jeans and a low cut opened floral button-down. Her blonde hair is slicked back like Danny Zuko from Grease. She’s gorgeous. Where did she come from?
“They had it coming,” I mumbled instantly, losing my confidence.
“They did,” Luna confirms. I try to flex my fist and wince in pain. Shit, did I break something?
“Want some ice?” The mystery woman puts out her cigarette and motions for us to follow her.
I look at Luna and we both shrug, following the woman into the side entrance of Puzzles.
Unexpected Departure was a quick and enjoyable story about confronting your past, and learning to love and stand up for yourself. There was a wonderful friendship and a promising sapphic romance around the corner, but also a lot of homophobia and a toxic relationship, so please check the trigger warnings before reading.
Read my full review here: Unexpected Departure by Shannon O’Connor
About the author
Shannon O’Connor is a twenty-something, bisexual, self-published poet of several books and counting. She released her first novel, Electric Love in 2021 and is currently working on several sapphic romance novels. She believes there is a lack of positive Female/Female romances in the world, and wants to make them more accessible. She is often found in coffee shops, probably writing about someone she shouldn’t be.
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I’m so happy to be a part of Xpresso Book Tours blitz for the gripping and wonderful Saving Sophie by Debbie Schrack! Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card or one of five Kindle copies of Saving Sophie!
Seventeen-year-old Gabe Hunter knows he has a purpose in life. He has always strived to be the “best of the best,” but lately nothing has gone his way. Gabe was devastated six months earlier when his half-brother Josh had a drunk driving accident that killed four members of a family and left a sixteen-year-old girl named Sophie an orphan. Josh went to prison and Gabe struggles to forgive him because how can he forgive the unforgivable? When Gabe reluctantly agrees to do math tutoring for his senior service project, he discovers that the girl he will be tutoring is also named Sophie. But in a town of eighty thousand people, what are the odds it will be the same person? Astronomical, Gabe figures.
Gabe soon discovers, though, that it is the same Sophie. A former National Merit Scholar finalist, Sophie had a severe brain injury in the accident. She has seizures, amnesia, and can barely read or write. When he meets her, Gabe realizes what his purpose in life must be—to help Sophie and make amends for his brother. His plan is to spend the rest of the school year tutoring Sophie, then say goodbye and go quietly off to college without ever telling her that his brother was the one who killed her family. What Gabe doesn’t count on is falling in love.
The door to the bakery opens and Sophie and Joe come in on a blast of cold air. I shiver. Cold has penetrated every cell in my body; not from the air, but from what Sophie’s uncle just told me.
“Sophie set up a spot in the back where you guys can work,” Jim says, getting up from the table. “I’m going to make the dough for tomorrow. If you need anything just give a holler.”
I stand up and take a deep breath. Now’s the time, I think. Now’s the time to tell Sophie and her uncle the truth about me. My brother killed her family. He’s the reason she has seizures and amnesia and has to learn how to read and write again. But they’re looking at me like I’m one of the superheroes from The Avengers. My mouth opens and this is what I say: “I’ll do my best, sir.” You chickenshit.
Jim claps me on the back. “I know you will. And call me Jim.”
Sophie waves to me. “Come on, Gabe.”
I follow her to a table in the corner. She takes off her hoodie and drops it over a chair. She’s wearing a green long-sleeved shirt with Edgewater emblazoned across the front in white. It’s like a slap in the face.
“I’m impressed you went to Edgewater,” I say. “I heard it’s harder to get in there than Harvard.” I have the sense that this is all an illusion, that I’m watching us play ourselves in a movie or a Netflix series.
“Edison’s a good—school, too,” she says. “Uncle Jim talks about it—all the time.” She speaks with a slight hesitation—not a stutter, exactly, but more like her words can’t keep up with what her brain is trying to say.
We sit down at the table. Joe parks himself on the floor next to Sophie. There’s nothing on the table except a folder and some pencils. I don’t see any books anywhere, although a backpack is sitting on one of the chairs.
There’s an awkward silence as we stare at the folder. Then Sophie looks at me.
There were so many times I wondered if her eyes were blue or gray. But I never imagined they were this shade of blue—like the sky on a June day. And I never would have guessed there were pinpoints of violet inside the blue.
“I’m so sorry about what happened to you,” I blurt. As soon as the words are out, I want to take them back.
She looks down at her hands in her lap. Her hair falls like a curtain around her face. When she looks up at me, her eyes have tears in them.
My heart cracks open. I didn’t know anything could hurt this much. My face burns like I have a fever, while the rest of my body is frozen, like it’s encased in ice. I’d give anything right now to go back in time and talk to Josh about his drinking. Insist he get help. Maybe if Mom and I had paid more attention, I wouldn’t be sitting here with the innocent victim of this nightmare. Of everyone affected by the accident, Sophie’s the one who bears the heaviest burden. Her family is dead. Josh will be out of prison at some point. But Sophie—she’ll have to deal with this for the rest of her life.
This teen romance was such a vulnerable, gripping and realistic story about finding forgiveness and your purpose in life.
You can find my full review here: Saving Sophie by Debbie Schrack
Although the character Sophie in her debut novel SAVING SOPHIE is fictional, she is a composite of many of the struggling learners Debbie has taught over the years.
Debbie lives with her family in Fairfax, Virginia, a suburb of Washington, D.C. Debbie finds personal fulfillment in creating new things, whether it be a novel, a painting, or a batch of croissants. She loves animals, and horses are her special passion. When she’s not writing or horseback riding, Debbie is a sucker for musicals, enjoys visiting art galleries, and desperately wants to travel more. She also loves hanging out with her three children, who she will always consider her most amazing creations.
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Cover reveal! Today I’m excited to help reveal the cover of A Lust For Blood by K.C. Smith! Enter the Bookstagram Giveaway hosted by MTMC Tours to win a signed paperback! Furthermore, all ebook preorders of A Lust For Blood are eligible to receive an exclusive art print of Oriana and Garren, please see more info below!
A gender bent reimagining of the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde meets the Witcher in K.C. Smith’s debut novel. A Lust For Blood is the first in an Adult Fantasy series and it will be published on November 1st, 2022 from Phantom House Press.
See the stunning cover designed by TS95 Studios here:
There is no escape when the monster is you.
When Oriana awakens in a field of blood and bodies, she is devastated to realize the patchwork of death was caused by her own hand. A curse lingers in the air, and there is only one option to save herself from further bloodshed. Oriana uses her magic to create an enchanted forest imprisoning the monster responsible for the massacre–herself.
Garren has built a career around slaying demons. When he learns of a centuries old creature locked away in the strange Phantom Wood, the opportunity is too great. He will stop at nothing to destroy the demon filth that lurks in those shadows if only to satisfy his own haunting memories.
Oriana soon finds herself caught in a cat and mouse game, fighting to keep her identity secret. As the two grow closer, secrets unravel. But could they each be the answer the other has been searching for?
All ebook preorders of A Lust For Blood are eligible to receive an exclusive art print of Oriana and Garren. Email proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org to claim it!
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Welcome to the Gay Book Promotions release blitz for Don’t Hold Back by Colette Davison, celebrating this sweet and adorable M/M sports romance with a grumpy gymnast who falls for his sunshiny rival. Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card!
Can rivals gain Olympic glory and love?
Garret has spent years training in gymnastics, but the pressure has taken its toll. Despite qualifying for the Olympics, failing to medal at the World Championships is all he can think about.
Anger is taking control and strangling his ability to focus on training, when his main rival, Team USA gymnast, Ryder Anderson, arrives at the gym to train alongside him.
Garrett wants to hate Ryder, but he can’t ignore his rival’s sunshine personality and handsome looks. Discovering Ryder is fighting a battle against himself, Garrett’s anger turns to admiration and then love.
Dating his rival isn’t against the rules, but that doesn’t make it a good idea. Can they make a relationship work despite the pressure of the Olympics, or will they crack under the strain?
Don’t Hold Back is an M/M sports romance with a grumpy gymnast who falls for his sunshiny rival. It has a slow-burn relationship and some hurt/comfort.
Trigger warnings: Don’t Hold Back features a character who has anorexia.
“Ryder.” Lennie waved him across. “Good work. I’ve got two options for you.”
Ryder raised his eyebrows as he waited. From the look on Lennie’s face, he wasn’t sure he’d like either of them.
“You could go to Boulder and train alongside David Marshall.”
David was a two-time Olympian.
“Isn’t he trained by Isaiah Hobbs these days?” Ryder asked, trying hard not to scowl.
“That’s not really an option, then is it?”
“Hobbs said he’d have you.”
Ryder shook his head and half turned away. “I don’t particularly care.”
“I didn’t think you’d go for it. But Boulder’s closer to home than my next suggestion.”
“There’s not much farther away than that.”
“The other option is to come with me.”
Lennie nodded. “I’ve called in a favour at my old gym in Leeds. They’d be happy to have us. We could train around visiting hours. They’re pretty prescriptive. You’d get more training hours in if you went to Boulder.”
“I’d rather take the week off than train under Isaiah again.” He folded his arms and dipped his chin. “England, huh? I’ve always wanted to see Buckingham Palace.”
Lennie laughed. “Leeds and London aren’t exactly next door.”
“Seriously, what do you think?”
Ryder drew in a breath. “Travelling’s always harder than being home, but I’d rather train with you in England than with Isaiah. But only if you’re sure.”
“I am. We can stay at my parents’ house. Dad won’t mind if you take over the kitchen. Or if you prefer, we can rent somewhere.”
“Sounds good.” It was easy to say, less easy to feel.
Ryder always felt anxious about travelling, especially when it meant staying somewhere else for any length of time. But travelling was unavoidable at his level of gymnastics, so he dealt with it.
Ryder smiled and nodded. He wouldn’t train under Isaiah again. He couldn’t.
“You won’t be the only Olympian training at the gym we’ll be using,” Lennie said.
“Two members of the British team train there. Reece Matthews and Garrett Kidd.”
“They’re great gymnasts.”
Ryder laughed. “Garrett’s the handsome scowling one, right?”
Lennie gave him a stern look.
“What? He is handsome, and he was very scowly at Worlds when I went to congratulate him.”
“You beat him.”
Lennie rolled his eyes. “He probably thought you were rubbing your win in his face.”
“Me? Nah. Why would I do that?”
Lennie raised an eyebrow.
“I barely beat him in the all-around final. It was by point four or something.”
“Oh. Even closer than I thought.” Ryder shrugged. “Either one of us could have won on the day. I was just luckier. See? Now I’m looking forward to a trip to England.”
Lennie shook his head and sighed. “Let’s see your floor routine again.”
Ryder grinned. “On it.”
Don’t Hold Back was such a sweet grumpy/sunshine, M/M sports romance, but also a story about dealing with mental health issues and the constant fight that is required to find your way back after severe anorexia.
Read my full review here: Don’t Hold Back by Colette Davison
About the author
Colette’s personal love story began at university, where she met her future husband. An evening of flirting, in the shadow of Lancaster castle, eventually led to a fairytale wedding. She’s enjoying her own ‘happy ever after’ in the north of England with her husband, two beautiful children and her writing.
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