~Blog & Review Tour~ Rough Terrain by Annabeth Albert

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“Sexy, sensitive, smart, and thoroughly researched, Annabeth Albert’s gay romances have rocketed to the top of my to-be-read pile. I’ve fallen as hard for her books as her heroes fall for each other.”

-Christopher Rice, New York Times Bestselling author of A DENSITY OF SOULS and the Burning Girl Series

 

“Rough Terrain was a delicious blend of cool Navy SEAL and sweet former drummer with a sprinkle of some of my favorite flavors like “fake boyfriend” and “trapped in a storm” mixed in. This story was both healing and heartwrenching in the very best ways. A strong finish to a definite auto-buy series. Strong recommend!”

-Lucy Lennox, bestselling author of the Made Marian and Forever Wilde series

ROUGH TERRAIN by Annabeth Albert

Series: Out of Uniform, #7 *Final book in the series*

Publisher: Carina Press (Harlequin)

Release Date (Print & Ebook):

eBook: Monday January 14, 2019

Print (mmp): Tuesday January 29, 2019

Length (Print & Ebook):

384 Pages

Subgenre:

Contemporary Romance, Male/Male Romance, Military Romance

Warnings (if any):

No content warnings needed. Hot fake relationship shenanigans dominate along with being trapped outdoors, but HEA for everything. No addictions/bdsm/deaths etc.

Links:

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Synopsis:

 

The camping trip from hell may be the first stop on the road to happily-ever-after in Rough Terrain, the final book in Annabeth Albert’s critically acclaimed, fan-favorite Out of Uniform series.

Navy SEAL Renzo Bianchi has a soft spot for Canaan Finley, and not only because the man makes a mean smoothie. He’s the first guy to get Renzo’s motor revving in a long time. But when he agrees to Canaan’s insane charade—one all-access fake boyfriend, coming right up—he never expects more than a fling.

Creating a hot Italian SEAL boyfriend to save face seemed like a good idea…until his friends called Canaan’s bluff. Now he’s setting off into the woods with the very man who inspired his deception, and Canaan is not the outdoorsy type. The sparks are already flying when a flash flood separates them from their group, leaving Renzo and Canaan very much trapped…very much alone in the wilderness.

Working together to come up with a plan for survival is sexier than either of them expects. But back in the real world, being a couple is bringing its own set of hazards…

Blog Tour Exclusives:

 Teaser #1:

 “Canaan. Baby. Everyone will be coupled up. I’m bringing Eric, and everyone else has someone. I don’t want things to be awkward between us.”

God forbid they were awkward. Like breaking up in Prague hadn’t been bad enough, or Damian taking up with Eric, the replacement drummer, mere minutes later, now apparently they had to socialize like adults because the rest of their friend circle demanded it. And quite honestly, Canaan had lost enough the past few years. He wasn’t losing his oldest friends too. “Things will be fine.”

“Of course,” Damian said, a little too quickly and brightly. “But last time we talked, you said you were seeing someone… Just bring them. It’ll be easier. On everyone.”

More like easier on Eric’s jealous ass. And had Canaan said that? He supposed it was possible in some vague make-Damian-happy way that he’d alluded to such a thing.

“I…uh…” The absolute best thing would be to say the truth, which was that he was exactly as single as he’d been boarding that plane in Prague. As single as he’d been in the three years since, flitting from hookup to hookup, nothing sticking. But what came out was “He’s a SEAL. You know, unpredictable hours. Could be deployed anytime. Can’t say for sure if he’ll have leave…”

“Well, can he try?” Damian did not sound in the least impressed by the SEAL factoid. “And really, I’m happy for you. About time you moved on.”

“Yeah.” About that…

“Listen. Since your guy’s military and all, I’ll just tell Kelly you’re bringing him. I’ll cover the fee, and you guys just show up.”

“I’ve got money.” Not much, but he did have some, and didn’t feel the best about letting Damian float him. Not to mention his imaginary boyfriend.

“My present to you. I insist. Just get your ass to Flagstaff.”

“I’ll try. Probably by myself though because—”

“Bring. Him. Don’t be a loser.”

Too late. He already was a loser. Giant L and all. Twenty-six and concocting relationships out of thin air like some sixteen-year-old might. And he’d be showing up alone with some bullshit story, and things would be awkward with Damian and Eric, because of course they would be.

Teaser #2:

 “Big plans this weekend?” Canaan asked while he made the drink.

“Working out with a friend tomorrow. Gonna film some new moves.”

“Please tell me you put those clips online.” Thinking fast, Canaan grabbed a blank stamp card and a pen and thrust it at him. “I’ll fill a stamp card for you if you give me your handle.”

“Well…” Rooster’s eyes shifted to his friends, who were deep in conversation. “Navy doesn’t exactly approve of me being on social media…”

“Not gonna tell a soul,” Canaan promised. “I just like workout videos and fitness pics.” And how.

“Yeah?” Rooster gave him an appraising stare, one that had Canaan damn near preening. “That so?”

“Yup.” Canaan set the blender going and returned to the counter. He filled a stamp card and waved it at Rooster. “So how about it?”

“Okay, okay.” Rooster scribbled something on the other card and pushed it at Canaan. Their fingers brushed as they traded cards, thick callused fingers rubbing against his, and Canaan swore his toes curled from the contact.

“So how about you?” Rooster asked as Canaan poured his drink into a purple plastic Smoothie Palace cup.

“How about me what?” Canaan was still busy celebrating getting his username and felt a little punch-drunk on the contact to boot.

“Big plans?”

Here was the opening Canaan had been waiting months for, and no way was he missing it. “Dunno. I get off at nine. Wanna help me find trouble?”

“You make that offer to all your customers?” Rooster studied him intently, and Canaan straightened his spine, trying to pass whatever test he was giving him.

“Just my favorite ones.” The more honest answer would be just you, but Canaan didn’t want to seem too desperate, so he kept his voice light and easy. “How ’bout it?”

“Rooster!” Bacon called out before Rooster could answer. “Come on. We’ve got that meeting in ten.”

“Sorry. Gotta head out. Thanks for the card.” Rooster gave him a smile but no answer before hurrying over to join his friends.

Teaser #3:

Maybe they were better off as buds. But telling himself that didn’t stop his brain from taking note of how Canaan looked digging into the soup. His lips parted, a sigh escaping, and his eyes went soft, happiness smoothing his features. The sound of pleasure he made at the first taste of the broth had Renzo shifting in his chair.

To distract himself, he asked Canaan all about his favorite foods while they ate, and he liked discovering that they had a lot in common with a taste for all things Asian, a dislike of beans, and a high tolerance for spicy foods. Hell, he liked just hanging with Canaan in general. He was fun and spontaneous and easy to be around.

The food was as good as Canaan had advertised—well worth the drive—spicy broth balanced with sweet barbecued pork, loads of delicious noodles, and crisp veggies. Heaven.

“Good thing this isn’t closer to base. I’d lose all my ab definition in a week,” he joked.

Canaan gave him an appraising stare that made Renzo’s face heat. “I don’t think you have much to worry about there.”

“Ha. You have no idea how hard I work for this body.”

“I think I speak for all your admiring fans when I say it is well appreciated.” Canaan gave him another of those looks that made Renzo think about sex again. Damn it. Just buds was hard.

 

Teaser #4:

And as he watched him sleep, it hit Canaan that while he was on this weird adrenaline high, Renzo did this every day. Every day for days on end he confronted danger, high risks, threat of death, and he had a whole team of people counting on him the entire time too. While Canaan had been busy freaking out, he’d worried a lot about himself, about Grandpa, about what he’d miss out on. And he’d worried some about what he and Renzo could have had, especially when Renzo had been threatening to go out on his own.

But Renzo had neither freaked out nor focused on himself—the whole time, he’d been worried about Canaan. Keeping him warm. Making the alarms to drink and eat. Making sure Canaan had first choice of food. Coming up with plans to keep them safe and ensure the rescuers spotted them. Damn. It was humbling to think of all Renzo had done for him. And now Renzo was exhausted. Spent. Energy reserves clearly gone.

And yet, he would do something like this again, soon probably. With better equipment and better teammates, but he’d face danger again, head on. Because that was what he did. Who he was. His moral fabric was made of camo—tough as ripstop, unwavering and unyielding. Maybe Renzo had joined up because of his brother originally, but he hadn’t been lying about finding himself on the teams. And who he’d found there was possibly the best man Canaan had ever met. His throat ached just looking at Renzo, hands tightly clenching to stop from touching him.

“I’m going to take better care of you,” he whispered softly. “You took care of me, so maybe it’s time someone took care of you like you deserve. How about me?”

Renzo, of course, slumbered on, but something inside Canaan shifted. Changed. Accepted this new reality in front of him where this sleeping giant was suddenly the most important person in Canaan’s life.

 

About Annabeth Albert:

Annabeth Albert grew up sneaking romance novels under the bed covers. Now, she devours all subgenres of romance out in the open—no flashlights required! When she’s not adding to her keeper shelf, she’s a multi-published Pacific Northwest romance writer. Emotionally complex, sexy, and funny stories are her favorites both to read and to write. Her critically acclaimed and fan-favorite LGBTQ romance series include the #OutOfUniform, #Gaymers, #PortlandHeat, #RainbowCove and #PerfectHarmony series.

To find out what she’s working on next and other fun extras, check out her website: annabethalbert.com or connect with Annabeth on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Spotify! Also, be sure to sign up for her newsletter for free ficlets, bonus reads, and contests. The fan group, Annabeth’s Angels, on Facebook is also a great place for bonus content and exclusive contests.

Connect with Annabeth Albert:

~MY REVIEW~

Rough Terrain (Out of Uniform #7)Rough Terrain by Annabeth Albert

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This one was an up and down of good and so-so for me. I liked Renzo for the most part but didn’t like the way it felt like his family manipulated him. I liked Canaan but his inner dialogue kind of drove me crazy and his ‘fall on the sword and sacrifice myself to everyone’ attitude was annoying. I’m glad these two got their hea but this one dragged a bit and was a struggle. I do plan on continuing with the series though because I do really like it.

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Giveaway information:

 

Prizes:

1) Paperback copy of any back catalog Out of Uniform series book. Open Internationally.

2) e-copies of any back catalog Out of Uniform series book. Open Internationally.

Code: a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/88d45f0379/

~Cover Reveal~ I Wished For You by Colette Davison

COVER REVEAL

Book Title: I Wished For You

Author: Colette Davison

Cover Artist: Designs by Dana

Genre/s: mmm contemporary romance

Release Date: January 22, 2019

Heat Rating: 4 flames

Tagline

Since childhood, their friendship has been steadfast; falling in love will test that bond.

Blurb

Three wishes.

Seb wants to be happy.

Matt wants to find ‘the one.’

Connor wants them.

Two drunken kisses.

Seb didn’t plan to kiss Matt and Connor, but he doesn’t regret it, even if it has changed their friendship forever.

Matt has never considered dating a man before, let alone two. Despite his confusion, being with Seb and Connor feels right.

One uncertain future.

Connor’s potential fate has stopped him living and loving. Can he face his fears to be with the men he loves?

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.

Author Links

Blog/Website

Facebook

Twitter

Facebook Group: Colette’s Cosy Corner

BookBub

Goodreads

Instagram

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~Review~ 5 Stars for ‘Is It Over Yet?’ by L.A. Witt

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 60,000 words 
 
Cover Design: Lori Witt
 
Blurb
 

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.

But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.

And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.

Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?


Excerpt
 

Chapter 1
Rhys
The suburban Chicago house I’d lived in for the past six years came into view, and my stomach knotted tighter. It was the same feeling I’d had on my way to a job I’d hated a lifetime ago, when pulling up to the building made me groan out loud at the prospect of another shift in that godforsaken place. Didn’t seem right to feel that way coming home, but there it was, same as it had been for the past two months.

By the time I pulled into the garage beside the familiar red Corolla, my jaw ached from clenching my teeth. Probably because that’s what I’d been doing every night this week at the same time. Ugh. If I didn’t move out of this place soon, my dental bills were going to be astronomical. That was a good enough reason to step things up, wasn’t it? So I didn’t grind my teeth to dust?

As if I didn’t already have a laundry list of reasons why I needed to get out of here.

With an ache in my jaw and a sour feeling in my throat, I collected my coffee cup, lunch bag, and briefcase, and got out of the car. On the way inside, I couldn’t help limping a little, which added to my festering annoyance. It wasn’t unusual for my leg to be sore by the end of the day, especially after I’d been coaching basketball, but it wasn’t doing much for my shitty mood. I couldn’t think of much that would, though. Nothing short of substances that would get me fired. Or maybe finding a note on the counter that said I moved out. There wasn’t a plant on this earth that would get me higher than reading those three sweet little words.

But unless my soon-to-be ex-husband had won the lottery since this morning, he was just as stuck here as I was.

At the door, I paused for a deep breath to steel myself, then went inside. The kitchen and living room were empty. Derek’s car was here, so it was a safe bet he was home, but he was somewhere else in the house. Good enough for me. If I was lucky, he’d stay that way long enough for me to wind down.

I went through my usual motions—cleaning out my lunch bag, rinsing the Tupperware dishes, checking the cats’ food and water, perusing the mail. For years this routine had soothed me. Helped me shift from work to home so I could relax. Not so much these days.

Our long-haired calico, Lucy, hopped upon the counter and chirped at me, and I managed to crack a smile as I scratched her back the way she loved. She arched under my hand and purred. I chuckled, and I didn’t even mind that she was kicking the mail everywhere as she strutted back and forth on the counter.

“Hey, sweetheart. You miss me?”

More purring.

I kept scratching and petting her for a moment, trying not to think about the future. Or the fact that Derek and I still hadn’t come to a custody agreement about the cats. They were littermates, and though they could fight almost as loudly as we could, they were inseparable. There was no “you take Lucy and I’ll take Chico.” When this was all over and we finally went our separate ways, someone was taking both cats, and someone would be living without them.

I scooped Lucy into my arms, and I hugged her tight, which just made her purr louder and my conscience burn hotter. Guilt had been a constant friend for the past couple of months, and every time I thought about either losing my cats or taking them away from Derek, I wanted to cry. As if I hadn’t done enough of that recently.

I’m so sorry, guys. I buried my face in Lucy’s plush fur. I fucked everything up.

The click of a door at the opposite end of the house made my spine stiffen. Lucy tensed too. By the time Derek was halfway up the hall, she’d stopped purring. As he cleared the corner into the living room, she wriggled in my arms, and I sighed as I set her back down on the counter. She jumped to the floor and trotted out of the room, probably to the office where Chico was likely watching birds.

I watched her go, fresh guilt gnawing at me. Things had really gone to shit when even the cats didn’t want to be in the same room with the two of us.

Without the cat to hold my attention anymore, I turned to see where Derek was headed so I could make my own escape. I still needed to change clothes anyway, not to mention take off my prosthetic and sit for a while to give my joints a rest. If he was going to hang out in the living room, then I could go into my bedroom or join the cats in the office.

But Derek wasn’t heading into the living room. He was coming into the kitchen. And from the way his gaze was fixed on me, he wanted to talk about something.

I swallowed. “Hey.”

“Hey.” He slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Do you have a few minutes?”

I struggled to hold his gaze. He didn’t seem like he was looking for a fight. There was some tension in his features, but it didn’t read as hostility or anger.

I shifted my weight, wincing at the vicious ache in my hip. “Yeah. Do you mind if we sit, though?”

“Sure. Yeah. Living room?”

“Okay.” I followed him out of the kitchen, and we sat on opposite ends of the sofa. As soon as I was seated, I leaned down, rolled up my pant leg, and disconnected my prosthetic. Derek didn’t speak while I removed it; for all our inability to coexist lately, he was still in the habit of giving me a minute to get situated, particularly when I needed to kick off the prosthetic after a long day on my feet.

I leaned the prosthetic against the end table and sat back, releasing a relieved sigh. Everything ached, especially my hips, knees, and right ankle, and taking some weight off them felt so good. I might’ve even relaxed if not for Derek waiting a cushion away to have a conversation. Ugh. God. What now?

Schooling my expression, I twisted toward him. I stole a second just to look at him. There would come a time in the very near future when all I had left of him was pictures, and even with the constant tension hanging between us, it hurt to imagine not seeing him anymore. Seeing him like this hurt too. The dark eyes that had tongue-tied me on day one were cold now. Beside his eyes and mouth were lines that deepened whenever he smiled or laughed, and they were barely visible now. The near-black hair I’d run my fingers through millions of times, the soft lips I’d tasted more times than I could count, that spot on his neck where a single kiss could make him shudder all over—it was all out of my reach now.

Maybe it was time to take my sister up on the offer to come stay with her. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could handle.

Forcing back my emotions, I tried to sound casual. “All right. What’s up?”

He mirrored me, pulling his knee up onto the cushion and drumming his fingers on his inseam. “Um.” He stared down at his hand. “So, I talked to Vanessa this morning.”

My gut clenched. Instantly my mind was filled with a million worst case scenarios. I’d expected him to have something on his mind about us, not about our daughter, and panic shot through me. Had something happened? Was she hurt? Sick? “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah. Yeah. Everything’s fine.” He made a calm down gesture. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“Okay. Good.” I exhaled, my heartbeat coming back down. It wasn’t unusual for her to call him, but the whole “we need to talk” thing had me on edge. “So…” I raised my eyebrows. Oh God, had he told her? Did he finally tell her we were divorcing? He’d been dancing around that for two months.

Derek cleared his throat, and to my surprise, he smiled, though he still seemed guarded. “She’s, um… She’s getting married.”

I blinked. “She is?”

He nodded. “Corbin proposed last night.”

“Oh. Wow.” I actually laughed because I was so relieved that instead of something horrible, he was breaking the news that Vanessa was engaged. “That’s great!”

“Yeah. It is.” He met my gaze, but then he broke eye contact, and his smile faltered.

How could a conversation be this much of a roller coaster after thirty seconds? Oh, right, because it was us and we were a disaster. A disaster our daughter still didn’t know about.

Derek took a deep breath and sat up a little. “Here’s the thing—they want to get married sooner than later. Corbin is going to be transferring within the next year, and he’ll probably deploy at some point. So they want to get all their ducks in a row quickly.”

I nodded. “Makes sense. How soon is soon?”

“They’re thinking February.”

I whistled. “Really not letting the grass grow, are they?”
He laughed quietly. “No. But it’s still three months away. It isn’t like they’re eloping next week.”

“True.” And why was this line of conversation making me apprehensive? Like it was going somewhere I really didn’t want it to go? I was thrilled for our daughter and her husband-to-be, but something about this discussion with Derek…didn’t feel right. After nine years together, I knew him, I knew his tells, and I knew there was more to this than just telling me Vanessa was getting married.

Chewing his lip, Derek dropped his gaze and watched his fingers drumming on his knee again. There was definitely something on his mind. Something he needed to say, but either couldn’t figure out how to or couldn’t quite work up the nerve.

“Derek?” I nudged. “What am I missing here? You’re happy about this, right?”

“Yeah. Of course. I’m… There’s just…” He closed his eyes. Finally, he met mine again. “Vanessa still doesn’t know about, um, us.”

I winced. In the two months since we’d decided to split up, we’d debated more than once when and how we should tell her. The holidays were almost upon us, so that hadn’t seemed like the right time, and we’d agreed to keep a lid on it until after the New Year. She couldn’t make it out for Thanksgiving, and she was spending Christmas with her mom, so it wasn’t as if we’d have to play happy husbands right in front of her. Just keep up the illusion on social media and on the phone. Easy. Except for the part where it meant we’d had to keep it quiet from almost everyone else so no one accidentally let it slip on Facebook. And we were still stuck living together anyway because neither of us could afford to move out yet, so the whole fucking world thought everything was quiet on the home front. The closest we’d come to letting it slip was when a friend noticed our wedding portrait wasn’t on the mantle anymore. Derek had quickly said the frame had broken, and the subject had dropped. For now.

“Right,” I said. “So what does that have to do with her getting—” I tensed, then inclined my head. “Derek, please tell me you’re not going where I think you’re going.”

He looked at me plaintively. “It’s her wedding, Rhys. The next couple of months are going to be stressful as hell for her, and I’d rather all that stress be about planning her wedding. Not worrying about her dads splitting up.”

Closing my eyes, I pushed out a long breath through my nose. We’d been married for seven years, and even though our happier days seemed like a lifetime ago, I remembered the stressful months leading up to the wedding like it was yesterday. The thought of my parents dropping a bomb like that in the middle of all that chaos? Of trying to enjoy my damn wedding while I worried myself sick about making them be in the same room? Okay, yeah, I got what he was driving at. But…fuck.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…



Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com

E-mail: gallagherwitt@gmail.com

Twitter: @GallagherWitt

Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com

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Is It Over Yet?Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This was definitely one of the hardest books I’ve ever read but also one I couldn’t put down. I plowed thru it like a runaway train shouting ‘get out of my way’. I didn’t just want to get to the end, I needed it like I needed my next breath. Don’t let the subject matter scare you away. Yes, this is a story about cheating but it’s so much more. It’s a story about regret, it’s a story about forgiveness, it’s a story about holding on, it’s a story about love. We still needed to find some forgiveness and close some wounds, but nothing that had happened seemed worth letting go of this. Letting go of him

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~Release Blitz~ Is It Over Yet? by L.A. Witt

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 60,000 words 
 
Cover Design: Lori Witt
 
Blurb
 

Rhys Powell and Derek Scott are divorcing. Mistakes have been made, lines have been crossed, and there’s no going back. Both men are exhausted and ready to move on.



But their daughter is getting married soon. In the name of not putting a damper on her wedding, Derek and Rhys agree to keep the divorce on the down-low and show up as the happy couple everyone still believes they are.



And between a roller coaster of a road trip and the love and joy surrounding the wedding… Derek and Rhys just might remember why they fell for each other in the first place.



Are they only kidding themselves? Or can a rekindled spark really light the way to forgiveness?

 
Excerpt
 

Chapter 1



Rhys



The suburban Chicago house I’d lived in for the past six years came into view, and my stomach knotted tighter. It was the same feeling I’d had on my way to a job I’d hated a lifetime ago, when pulling up to the building made me groan out loud at the prospect of another shift in that godforsaken place. Didn’t seem right to feel that way coming home, but there it was, same as it had been for the past two months.



By the time I pulled into the garage beside the familiar red Corolla, my jaw ached from clenching my teeth. Probably because that’s what I’d been doing every night this week at the same time. Ugh. If I didn’t move out of this place soon, my dental bills were going to be astronomical. That was a good enough reason to step things up, wasn’t it? So I didn’t grind my teeth to dust?



As if I didn’t already have a laundry list of reasons why I needed to get out of here.



With an ache in my jaw and a sour feeling in my throat, I collected my coffee cup, lunch bag, and briefcase, and got out of the car. On the way inside, I couldn’t help limping a little, which added to my festering annoyance. It wasn’t unusual for my leg to be sore by the end of the day, especially after I’d been coaching basketball, but it wasn’t doing much for my shitty mood. I couldn’t think of much that would, though. Nothing short of substances that would get me fired. Or maybe finding a note on the counter that said I moved out. There wasn’t a plant on this earth that would get me higher than reading those three sweet little words.



But unless my soon-to-be ex-husband had won the lottery since this morning, he was just as stuck here as I was.



At the door, I paused for a deep breath to steel myself, then went inside. The kitchen and living room were empty. Derek’s car was here, so it was a safe bet he was home, but he was somewhere else in the house. Good enough for me. If I was lucky, he’d stay that way long enough for me to wind down.



I went through my usual motions—cleaning out my lunch bag, rinsing the Tupperware dishes, checking the cats’ food and water, perusing the mail. For years this routine had soothed me. Helped me shift from work to home so I could relax. Not so much these days.



Our long-haired calico, Lucy, hopped upon the counter and chirped at me, and I managed to crack a smile as I scratched her back the way she loved. She arched under my hand and purred. I chuckled, and I didn’t even mind that she was kicking the mail everywhere as she strutted back and forth on the counter.



“Hey, sweetheart. You miss me?”



More purring.



I kept scratching and petting her for a moment, trying not to think about the future. Or the fact that Derek and I still hadn’t come to a custody agreement about the cats. They were littermates, and though they could fight almost as loudly as we could, they were inseparable. There was no “you take Lucy and I’ll take Chico.” When this was all over and we finally went our separate ways, someone was taking both cats, and someone would be living without them.



I scooped Lucy into my arms, and I hugged her tight, which just made her purr louder and my conscience burn hotter. Guilt had been a constant friend for the past couple of months, and every time I thought about either losing my cats or taking them away from Derek, I wanted to cry. As if I hadn’t done enough of that recently.



I’m so sorry, guys. I buried my face in Lucy’s plush fur. I fucked everything up.



The click of a door at the opposite end of the house made my spine stiffen. Lucy tensed too. By the time Derek was halfway up the hall, she’d stopped purring. As he cleared the corner into the living room, she wriggled in my arms, and I sighed as I set her back down on the counter. She jumped to the floor and trotted out of the room, probably to the office where Chico was likely watching birds.



I watched her go, fresh guilt gnawing at me. Things had really gone to shit when even the cats didn’t want to be in the same room with the two of us.



Without the cat to hold my attention anymore, I turned to see where Derek was headed so I could make my own escape. I still needed to change clothes anyway, not to mention take off my prosthetic and sit for a while to give my joints a rest. If he was going to hang out in the living room, then I could go into my bedroom or join the cats in the office.



But Derek wasn’t heading into the living room. He was coming into the kitchen. And from the way his gaze was fixed on me, he wanted to talk about something.



I swallowed. “Hey.”



“Hey.” He slid his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “Do you have a few minutes?”



I struggled to hold his gaze. He didn’t seem like he was looking for a fight. There was some tension in his features, but it didn’t read as hostility or anger.



I shifted my weight, wincing at the vicious ache in my hip. “Yeah. Do you mind if we sit, though?”



“Sure. Yeah. Living room?”



“Okay.” I followed him out of the kitchen, and we sat on opposite ends of the sofa. As soon as I was seated, I leaned down, rolled up my pant leg, and disconnected my prosthetic. Derek didn’t speak while I removed it; for all our inability to coexist lately, he was still in the habit of giving me a minute to get situated, particularly when I needed to kick off the prosthetic after a long day on my feet.



I leaned the prosthetic against the end table and sat back, releasing a relieved sigh. Everything ached, especially my hips, knees, and right ankle, and taking some weight off them felt so good. I might’ve even relaxed if not for Derek waiting a cushion away to have a conversation. Ugh. God. What now?



Schooling my expression, I twisted toward him. I stole a second just to look at him. There would come a time in the very near future when all I had left of him was pictures, and even with the constant tension hanging between us, it hurt to imagine not seeing him anymore. Seeing him like this hurt too. The dark eyes that had tongue-tied me on day one were cold now. Beside his eyes and mouth were lines that deepened whenever he smiled or laughed, and they were barely visible now. The near-black hair I’d run my fingers through millions of times, the soft lips I’d tasted more times than I could count, that spot on his neck where a single kiss could make him shudder all over—it was all out of my reach now.



Maybe it was time to take my sister up on the offer to come stay with her. I wasn’t sure how much more of this I could handle.



Forcing back my emotions, I tried to sound casual. “All right. What’s up?”



He mirrored me, pulling his knee up onto the cushion and drumming his fingers on his inseam. “Um.” He stared down at his hand. “So, I talked to Vanessa this morning.”



My gut clenched. Instantly my mind was filled with a million worst case scenarios. I’d expected him to have something on his mind about us, not about our daughter, and panic shot through me. Had something happened? Was she hurt? Sick? “What’s going on? Is everything okay?”



“Yeah. Yeah. Everything’s fine.” He made a calm down gesture. “Nothing’s wrong.”



“Okay. Good.” I exhaled, my heartbeat coming back down. It wasn’t unusual for her to call him, but the whole “we need to talk” thing had me on edge. “So…” I raised my eyebrows. Oh God, had he told her? Did he finally tell her we were divorcing? He’d been dancing around that for two months.



Derek cleared his throat, and to my surprise, he smiled, though he still seemed guarded. “She’s, um… She’s getting married.”



I blinked. “She is?”



He nodded. “Corbin proposed last night.”



“Oh. Wow.” I actually laughed because I was so relieved that instead of something horrible, he was breaking the news that Vanessa was engaged. “That’s great!”



“Yeah. It is.” He met my gaze, but then he broke eye contact, and his smile faltered.



How could a conversation be this much of a roller coaster after thirty seconds? Oh, right, because it was us and we were a disaster. A disaster our daughter still didn’t know about.



Derek took a deep breath and sat up a little. “Here’s the thing—they want to get married sooner than later. Corbin is going to be transferring within the next year, and he’ll probably deploy at some point. So they want to get all their ducks in a row quickly.”



I nodded. “Makes sense. How soon is soon?”



“They’re thinking February.”



I whistled. “Really not letting the grass grow, are they?”



He laughed quietly. “No. But it’s still three months away. It isn’t like they’re eloping next week.”



“True.” And why was this line of conversation making me apprehensive? Like it was going somewhere I really didn’t want it to go? I was thrilled for our daughter and her husband-to-be, but something about this discussion with Derek…didn’t feel right. After nine years together, I knew him, I knew his tells, and I knew there was more to this than just telling me Vanessa was getting married.



Chewing his lip, Derek dropped his gaze and watched his fingers drumming on his knee again. There was definitely something on his mind. Something he needed to say, but either couldn’t figure out how to or couldn’t quite work up the nerve.



“Derek?” I nudged. “What am I missing here? You’re happy about this, right?”



“Yeah. Of course. I’m… There’s just…” He closed his eyes. Finally, he met mine again. “Vanessa still doesn’t know about, um, us.”



I winced. In the two months since we’d decided to split up, we’d debated more than once when and how we should tell her. The holidays were almost upon us, so that hadn’t seemed like the right time, and we’d agreed to keep a lid on it until after the New Year. She couldn’t make it out for Thanksgiving, and she was spending Christmas with her mom, so it wasn’t as if we’d have to play happy husbands right in front of her. Just keep up the illusion on social media and on the phone. Easy. Except for the part where it meant we’d had to keep it quiet from almost everyone else so no one accidentally let it slip on Facebook. And we were still stuck living together anyway because neither of us could afford to move out yet, so the whole fucking world thought everything was quiet on the home front. The closest we’d come to letting it slip was when a friend noticed our wedding portrait wasn’t on the mantle anymore. Derek had quickly said the frame had broken, and the subject had dropped. For now.



“Right,” I said. “So what does that have to do with her getting—” I tensed, then inclined my head. “Derek, please tell me you’re not going where I think you’re going.”



He looked at me plaintively. “It’s her wedding, Rhys. The next couple of months are going to be stressful as hell for her, and I’d rather all that stress be about planning her wedding. Not worrying about her dads splitting up.”



Closing my eyes, I pushed out a long breath through my nose. We’d been married for seven years, and even though our happier days seemed like a lifetime ago, I remembered the stressful months leading up to the wedding like it was yesterday. The thought of my parents dropping a bomb like that in the middle of all that chaos? Of trying to enjoy my damn wedding while I worried myself sick about making them be in the same room? Okay, yeah, I got what he was driving at. But…fuck.

L.A. Witt is an abnormal M/M romance writer who has finally been released from the purgatorial corn maze of Omaha, Nebraska, and now spends her time on the southwestern coast of Spain. In between wondering how she didn’t lose her mind in Omaha, she explores the country with her husband, several clairvoyant hamsters, and an ever-growing herd of rabid plot bunnies. She also has substantially more time on her hands these days, as she has recruited a small army of mercenaries to search South America for her nemesis, romance author Lauren Gallagher, but don’t tell Lauren. And definitely don’t tell Lori A. Witt or Ann Gallagher. Neither of those twits can keep their mouths shut…



Website: http://www.gallagherwitt.com

E-mail: gallagherwitt@gmail.com

Twitter: @GallagherWitt

Blog: http://gallagherwitt.blogspot.com

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~Blog Tour~ Shadowing the Light – The Bearer of Truth Book 1 by Miranda Turner

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SHADOWING THE LIGHT

The Bearer of Truth Book 1

MIRANDA TURNER

GAY URBAN FANTASY

RELEASE DATE: 12.17.18

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Cover by Lou Harper

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“Everybody has their own agenda. Everybody.”

Hunted for the unique blood that runs through his veins, half-angel, half-demon Gabriel Sinclair lives without expectations. On the run from forces on both sides of an ancient conflict, he searches for strength and peace in a world which only seeks to use him.

When Gabriel is forced to stop running, assigned a team—and a mate—he doesn’t want, and reluctantly tasked with a mission, he must overcome obstacles both real and imagined. Otherwise, the world as he knows it, and the mate he’s reluctantly come to care for, may cease to exist.

“I will do as the Creator bids me. Always.”

Evander Ryan is special, and he knows it. The final handcrafted immortal warrior for the light, he is the Creator’s greatest masterpiece. For fifty-eight years, he’s lived his life in black and white, coddled by his Maker, while leading his team to countless victories against their enemies. Those fights were easy. Working with a new, uncooperative mate who sees the world in shades of gray? Less so.

As Evander’s eyes are opened to the existence of light warriors who are not good, dark warriors who are, and the wider world of supernatural beings, he learns nothing is as he thought it was, and his mate isn’t who he thought he was either. Maybe there’s something to be said for not always following the rules. . .

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EXCERPT

A presence warmed his back, and Gabriel stiffened as the delicious scent of his sodalis vita rolled across his senses. With the fight and not enough rest, he was mentally weak, too weak to fight this stupid need to be close to Evander. Maybe he could just stand near him without touching him or taking it further and hope it would be enough? Because it was all he could willingly get from Evander, and he’d never take what wasn’t offered freely.

Evander cleared his throat. “I want you to know that I did and will continue to take care of the Luc issue. He won’t be bothering you again.”

Gabriel scoffed. “Sure he won’t.”

“Are you questioning my leadership?” Evander glared at him.

“More like your faith in Luc’s ability to control himself. But now that you mention it…”

Evander’s entire body stiffened. Rigid as a plank, Evander seethed. “It’s been dealt with. I know how to handle my men.” Uh-oh, someone didn’t like to be doubted. Gabriel mentally shrugged. His doubt was justified.

Gabriel barked out an abrupt laugh. “You do? Since when? Because I seem to remember someone trying to beat the shit out of me not too long ago, and no matter how gingerly he may be moving right now, his first instinct is still to attack me. I can tell you all the lashes in the world won’t fix the actual problem, so how are you going to handle it?”

Evander immediately deflated, his eyes darting around the room nervously. He’d probably never had anyone besides Gabriel say more than boo to him in his entire life. He had no idea how to behave if everyone didn’t fall in line.

“See, this is your problem. You have no clue how to deal with the situation here. Have any of your men stepped out of line before now? I feel pretty confident saying no. The proof of a good leader isn’t if his men will listen to him when things are good, but how they behave when the chips are down. How are your men behaving, Evander? You’ve been an effective leader because you’ve had obedient men who are also leaders in their fields. With your power levels outranking every other Bellator and the fact that you are a decent strategist, of course men will follow you. But can you actually be what they need when they get out of line? So far, I’d say no.”

Evander slowly turned redder with every word that came from Gabriel’s mouth, but instead of exploding, he seemed to wilt, collapsing into himself. Quickly shaking it off, he stood to his full height and grit out, “Like I said, I’ll handle it.” And Gabriel grudgingly dipped his chin, letting it go because there was no use arguing with someone who wouldn’t, or maybe couldn’t, see the truth.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Miranda Turner is a single mom of eight living outside a small, hippie town in the middle of Ohio. She’s surrounded by children, chickens, and one temperamental editor kitty who is silently judging her on a daily basis. She is a voracious reader and an editor who decided she had different stories to tell. She firmly believes a happily ever after is there for everyone, but she likes to make her characters earn it.

Amazon Author: https://amzn.to/2UOn6ew

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/authormturner/

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Email: author.miranda.turner@gmail.com

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