~Release Blitz~ Torn by Rick R. Reed

 

 
Length: 63,424 words
 
Cover Design: Reese Dante
 
 
Blurb
 

Ever been torn between two lovers? That’s Ricky Comparetto’s problem.



It’s 1995, and Ricky is making his very first trip across the pond with his best friend. Ricky, hungry for love and looking for it in all the wrong places, finds it in the beach city of Brighton. His new love has the curious name of Walt Whitman and is also an American, which only serves to make him sexier and more intriguing. By the time Walt and Ricky part, promises are made for a reunion in Boston.



But the course of true love never runs smooth. In Chicago Ricky almost immediately falls in love again. Tom Green is a sexy blue-collar beast with the kindest heart Ricky has ever run across.



What’s he to do? With a visit to the East Coast on the horizon and a new love blossoming in Ricky’s home of Chicago, Ricky truly is torn.



Excerpt



In which our hero, Ricky Comparetto, finds himself lost on his very first time in London in the wee hours of the morning. It serves him right, after his shameless behavior at an after-hours sex club.

Much later, I found myself wandering the streets of London near New Scotland Yard, searching through its labyrinthine corridors for Trevor’s building. In the quiet darkness of London’s wee small hours, it seemed the world had paused to take a breath. Again, a feeling of things being surreal overcame me; I wondered if I’d ever find my way back to Boutros again, or if I’d be doomed to wander endlessly through this curving warren of streets.

It was maybe three o’clock in the morning, and Westminster felt almost like a movie set, perhaps something dystopian, where the main character wakes to find the world empty. The light of Big Ben shone in the distance, but I had no idea how to get back to Trevor’s.

I was too exhausted to panic, however, even though I felt like a rat in a maze, a charming, historic maze, but a maze nonetheless. Looking back, I recall that I felt serene, strange as that is to remember.

I had just decided to see if I could find a park bench or curb to lie down on—to await morning’s light and new clarity to get back to my friends—when I discovered that there was such a thing as a bobby, the Brits’ word for a patrolman on foot. This bobby, who was dressed all in black with a tall hat adorned with a shield, and I appeared to be the only ones about, other than the black cabs that passed by stealthily, similar to the one that had deposited me in a place I’d believed was close to Trevor’s.

I approached the bobby and told him, a little abashed, that I was lost. I supplied him with the name of the street I sought and, for good measure, what Trevor’s building looked like.

He nodded, all business. “You need to cross the Thames”—he pointed that way—“and then make your way back in the opposite direction from where you were going. You’re not far.”

I thanked him, but his directions simply didn’t feel right. I didn’t want to argue with him, and I certainly didn’t want to believe he was fucking with me, so I didn’t question him. I may have been lost, but I wasn’t that lost. I let him continue on his rounds. I stood still, not wanting him to see me continue on what he’d most likely perceive as my misguided path. Why’d you bother asking him if you weren’t going to listen? I wondered but had no good answer for myself.

I plopped down on a bench to ponder what I should do. I supposed that, with morning’s light, Boutros would be worried (or worse, would believe I’d shacked up with yet another man) and come looking.

I questioned my decision to part from Boutros and Trevor earlier in the evening, when the gay club we were drinking at closed its doors way too early for me. I mean, really, eleven o’clock? And this was “swingin’” London? Trevor suggested I go to an “after-hours” club called the Brick. He told me it was a no-holds-barred kind of place. Or was it “no-holes-barred”? Whatever. The idea of the “Felliniesque” club, as Trevor described it, appealed to me.

So I went, met a few nice boys, and ended the evening by being showered with come in a cloakroom, courtesy of one half of a couple I’d met who were visiting London from Liverpool.

I thought it would be easy to get home because Trevor’s building was within walking distance of New Scotland Yard, which is where I told my cabbie to drop me.

I hadn’t counted on streets that curved, and ended and began with no rhyme or reason. I hadn’t counted on the buildings and streets all looking so alike.

I should have.

After a while, I got up from the bench and started wandering again. And then I stopped… and sighed with relief. Just ahead was one of those iconic red phone booths you might imagine when you think of London—or Doctor Who.

“Oh thank God,” I whispered, making my way to the booth. I groped in my pocket, hoping the receipt upon which Trevor had written his phone number earlier was still there. What if it isn’t? I thought, the panic already causing my pulse rate to quicken despite my fatigue, the copious amounts of alcohol I’d imbibed, and the two orgasms I’d had at the Brick.

But my hand curled around the little slip of paper, and I brought it out and squinted at the scrawled number in the wan light. I lifted the phone off the hook, deposited a mystifying array of coins that I hoped would be enough, and dialed.

Trevor answered, voice heavy with sleep.

I told him my problem and described where I was, along with the cross streets nearby.

He didn’t seem fazed, for which I was grateful. “Hang on, sweetie. I’ll be right there.” He disconnected before I could say anything else.

I left the phone booth and sat down on a curb. I regarded the crescent moon above for only the shortest of times. Trevor appeared before me, like an angel, within a matter of fewer than five minutes.

I didn’t have much to say, other than to express my gratitude… and embarrassment.

His building turned out to be around the next corner.

Real Men. True Love.



Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreed.com or www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.



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~Blog Tour~ Top Shelf (A Seacroft Novel) by Allison Temple

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Top Shelf

A Seacroft Novel

Allison Temple

M/M Romance

Release Date: 05.20.19

Top Shelf Cover

Blurb

Martin is a ghost. Well, not really, but he might as well be. Job gone, home gone, self-respect gone, and no one even seems to notice. The only person who really sees him is Seb, the artist who lives above the used bookstore.

Seb haunts the edges of Seacroft in search of beauty. He knows how to excavate the hidden value in abandoned things—whether it’s in the pages of forgotten books or in Martin’s stuttering attempts to rebuild his life—and transform them into works of art.

Two lost souls, Seb and Martin discover the strength they need to face eccentric townies and their dysfunctional families together. But as friendship sparks toward something more, neither man wants to risk what they’ve only just found. It takes two to fall in love, but it will take the whole community to bring their beauty to life.

Top Shelf is an 81k slow burn friends-to-lovers MM romance. It features an anxious professor, a drama queen artist, a bookstore that might be haunted, and a full-blown heart-eyes HEA.

Amazon: http://bit.ly/Top-Shelf_

International: http://mybook.to/TopShelf

Top Shelf Teaser 2

Top Shelf Teaser 1

Excerpt

The distinct sound of footsteps had him freezing in place again. Martin’s breath went shallow, and he clutched at the phone. Was it inappropriate to call the police on his first day of work? There was someone in the store, and Martin was very sure he had not seen anyone come in since Cassidy had left.

He moved in between the shelves as his mind raced. What if someone had snuck in? Broken in?

Why would someone sneak in to steal used books?

Martin grabbed a cookbook off a shelf labeled ‘Everything is Better With Salt’ and hefted it, testing the weight. If someone was back there, and that someone was up to no good, Martin could use the book as a weapon.

There was a soft sound of someone humming, and it made the hairs on Martin’s neck prickle. He tripped at the edge of the next shelf.

“Cass, is that you?”

Martin froze with the cookbook half-raised to his shoulder. Every part of him went on alert at the sound of a man’s voice, much closer than he’d expected.

Another book dropped to the ground.

He peeked around a shelf. The first thing his brain registered was white, and it was almost enough to convince him that he was seeing a ghost. His fingers tightened around the cookbook.

A long pale arm reached up and lifted a book off the very top shelf.

It was a man.

He wore faded jeans and a gray T-shirt. His hair was bleached blond. If he was a thief, he was a terrible one, because he flipped through the book, then let it drop to the floor next to what must have been the other ones Martin had already heard fall.

He was a man though, whoever he was. Tall and solid. Not a ghost. Martin lowered the cookbook. Assaulting a customer on his first day would be a bad career move.

“Excuse me,” he said, but it was drowned out as the next book thumped to the floor. Martin hopped back a step, but gathered himself and tried again. “Excuse me. I’m closing up.”

“Sure thing,” the man said as he stretched up on his toes again, reaching for another book. His shirt lifted from the waist of his jeans, and the skin underneath was so pale it enhanced his ghostly appearance.

When Martin didn’t leave, the man glanced over his shoulder, and his face made Martin’s heart stop. He wasn’t a ghost or a thief, but whoever he was, he was handsome. Blue eyes flicked up and down once, like he was trying to decide the kind of threat Martin might pose.

As Martin inhaled to assert himself again, the man turned back to the shelf.

“You—” Martin swallowed hard, willing himself to stand firm. “You’ll have to go.”

Those blue eyes darted toward Martin again, like a wrist flicking at a fly. The man grinned, a slow sly grin that made Martin’s insides twist.

“You’re new, aren’t you?” the man said.

Martin’s ears burned. He knew a dismissal when he heard one.

“If—If there’s something you’d like to buy, I can help you cash out. Otherwise, we’ll be open again on Monday at—” What time did they open? It had been nine o’clock on Saturday. Was it the same time on weekdays?

The blond man frowned, and Martin’s heart lurched under the stranger’s scrutiny. He couldn’t remember the last time someone had really looked at him. For all his rising panic at the feeling of being alone in the store earlier, he very much wanted to return to that solitude right now. It was so much better than being the center of this man’s attention.

“How long have you worked here?” The strange man’s voice was soft and low, rippling through the space between them.

Martin shivered and had to focus to keep his feet planted. “We’re closing and—”

“Where’s Cass?” The man glanced over Martin’s shoulder, giving him a moment to breathe.

“Cassidy? She went home.”

“What’s your name?” Those eyes were on Martin again in an instant, making him light-headed.

“Martin.” Too late, he wondered if he shouldn’t have introduced himself, particularly when the other man made no effort to return the favor.

“Well then, Martin.” The man took a step forward. “It appears no one bothered to inform you—”

“I’ll call the owner.” Martin was losing ground and needed to fix this quickly. Calling Mrs. Green to resolve a grumpy customer was absolutely a bad idea, but he was on the verge of being run out of his own bookstore, so there weren’t many options left.

To illustrate that point, the blond man’s eyes widened and his lips formed into an ‘O’.

“No no. Please.” He held his hands wide, as his mouth pulled into another grin. Everything about it made Martin want to shrink into himself until he was nothing but a speck of dust on a bookshelf.

“I’m sorry,” he said, giving it one last go. “But we close at six and—”

The man didn’t appear to hear him. He toed through the pile of books at his feet.

Martin winced as pages bent under his shoes. “Please don’t—”

Thin fingers pinched the crumpled pages together and lifted them in the air, the book’s heavy covers flopping to the sides. There was the soft sound of paper tearing.

The man tucked the book under one arm. “Don’t worry, sweetheart. I’ll pay for it.” He put a hand in one of his pockets, then actually swaggered toward Martin, whose vision wavered as the man’s fingers brushed against his own. Martin gasped at the hard weight of something metal in his palm. The silence of the bookshop was broken by the sound of coins tumbling out of Martin’s frozen hand and onto the floor.

“That should cover it.” The man whispered it low. The feeling of his breath on Martin’s skin made him turn into a Martin-shaped statue, frozen in place as the other man slid past him.

“Nice to meet you,” the man said. “I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”

It felt like hours, but it probably was only a matter of seconds before he trembled and broke out of his daze. The floorboards creaked as the man walked away. Martin knelt and collected the coins he’d dropped. They were all nickels and dimes, and they totaled up to just under two dollars.

A door closed and the shop fell quiet.

Martin wound his way back the way he’d come. Nerves boiled inside him, and he hesitated around every blind corner between shelves, half expecting the blond stranger to leap out at him like some deranged Jack in the Box. He stumbled into the open space at the front.

He was alone.

Martin went to the door. It surprised him that the hinges hadn’t made their booming wail as the man left.

His hand stopped as he reached for the deadbolt. It was still in position. The door was locked.

Where had the man come from? And where had he gone?

Aliison Temple Logo

Allison Temple has been a writer since the second grade, when she wrote a short story about a girl and her horse. Her grandmother typed it out for her and said she’s never seen so many quotation marks from a seven-year-old before. Allison took that as a challenge and has gone on to try to break her previous record in all her subsequent works.

Allison lives in Toronto with her very patient husband and the world’s neediest cat. She splits her free time between writing, community theater stage management, and traveling anywhere that has good wine. Tragically, this leaves no time to clean her house.

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~Release Blitz~ Room for One More (Herc’s Mercs #8) by Ari McKay

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 80,000 words approx.
 
Herc’s Mercs Series
 
The Bigger They Come (Book #1) – Universal Link
Line In The Sand (Book #2) – Universal Link
Bloody But Unbowed (Book #3) – Universal Link
Once A Hero (Book #4) – Universal Link
The Harder They Fall (Book #5) – Universal Link
Where Angels Fear To Tread (Book #6) – Universal Link
No Pain, No Gain (Book #7) – Universal Link
 
Blurb
 

Love may not be pie, but when it comes to your lover, sharing isn’t the easiest thing in the world.



When Joe Morrissey returns home, heartsick and traumatized by his latest mission, the last thing he expects is to find his partner and lover, Brian Finnegan, has fallen for someone else. Even though Joe knows Finn has never been a one-man man, he has difficulty accepting Drew Martin’s place in Finn’s life — and especially in his heart. But when Finn is kidnapped by criminals seeking revenge on Joe, he’s forced to pair up with his rival to make sure Finn is kept safe. Joe has no choice but to face his deepest issues, not only about Drew, but also about his own past that has come back to haunt him. Doubt and pain are tearing Joe apart… Can Drew help put him back together, or does Finn risk losing both of the men he loves forever?



Trigger warnings: This book deals with PTSD and human trafficking. There are mentions of sexual and physical abuse, kidnapping, and child abuse (NOT GRAPHICALLY DEPICTED).

 

Ari McKay is the professional pseudonym for Arionrhod and McKay, who have been writing together for over a decade. Their collaborations encompass a wide variety of romance genres, including contemporary, fantasy, science fiction, gothic, and action/adventure. Their work includes the Blood Bathory series of paranormal novels, the Herc’s Mercs series, as well as two historical Westerns: Heart of Stone and Finding Forgiveness. When not writing, they can often be found scheming over costume designs or binge watching TV shows together.



Arionrhod is a systems engineer by day who is eagerly looking forward to (hopefully) becoming a full time writer in the not-too-distant future. Now that she is an empty-nester, she has turned her attentions to finding the perfect piece of land to build a fortress in preparation for the zombie apocalypse, and baking (and eating) far too many cakes.



McKay is an English teacher who has been writing for one reason or another most of her life. She also enjoys knitting, reading, cooking, and playing video games. She has been known to knit in public. Given she has the survival skills of a gnat, she’s relying on Arionrhod to help her survive the zombie apocalypse.



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~Release Blitz~ Prescription for Love (Road to Blissville Series, Book 7) by Aimee Nicole Walker

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Prescription for Love

Road to Blissville Series, Book 7

Aimee Nicole Walker

M/M Romance

Release Date: 05.18.19

Prescription for love complete

Cover Design: Jay Aheer/https://www.facebook.com/Simply-Defined-Art-1622658254619778/

Photographer: Wander Aguiar/http://wanderaguiar.com/

BLURB

What should’ve been an ordinary emergency call turned out to be something extraordinary.

Wanting to distance himself from his toxic parents, Trent Love moved to the quaint town of Blissville to begin a new life. What he finds is blazing chemistry with a hunky fireman who breathes new life into him.

Fearing they’re too different, Tucker attempts to extinguish the spark between them before it can ignite. How could a simple man like him compete with Trent’s life of wealth and privilege? Knowing you shouldn’t want something doesn’t make it go away, and Tucker’s desire for Trent continues to smolder.

Unwilling to accept their relationship is dead on arrival, Trent puts his resuscitation skills to good use. All he wants is a chance to prove he values Tucker’s wealth of character over meaningless material things. What do you get when you mix fire and oxygen: a five-alarm fire or a prescription for love?

Trent’s commitment to freeing himself from poisonous ties kindles a chain of events that have devastating consequences for both men. Is a relationship forged in fire strong enough to overcome these obstacles or is their love doomed to be just another bitter pill to swallow?

Prescription for love is a small-town, opposites-attract romance. It is the seventh book in the Road to Blissville series but reads like a standalone book. It contains sexually explicit material intended for adults 18 and older.

http://mybook.to/PrescriptionForLove

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EXCERPT

Don’t be nervous. Don’t be nervous. Don’t be nervous. “Fuck!”I exclaimed when I drove past Tuck’s house. I looked in my rearview mirror and made sure no one was behind me before putting my car in reverse and backing up so I could pull into his driveway, hoping Tuck hadn’t seen me flake out. At least I stopped a safe distance from his truck instead of ramming into the back of it. Calm the fuck down. How many chances do you think Tuck will give you, moron?

I looked at the potted orchid sitting on the passenger seat beside the bag with orchid food and the spray bottle of stuff the lady working at the florist counter recommended I buy. I’d purchased two of everything—one for Shirlene and one for Tucker. Doubt started to creep in, and I started second-guessing my decision to buy him an orchid. Some men liked flowers and others got insulted. I didn’t want him to think I assumed he liked flowers just because he was gay. I just thought they were beautiful and exotic like the way I felt every time Tucker’s eyes devoured me. No one had ever looked at me quite the way he did, and I craved it. Damn it. I was overthinking things again.

I took a calming breath and exited the car with the pot in one hand and the bag of supplies in the other. Tucker met me at the door before I had a chance to knock. A wry grin spread across his face. “Did you have trouble finding my house?” Shit.

“You don’t get to tease me,”I told him. “If you saw my stupid stunt, then you were watching out the window for me.”

“I was watching for you,”Tucker admitted shamelessly. “I’ve been looking forward to this since we made plans. I was hoping an emergency didn’t pull you away.”

I was stunned silent by his confession. What was I expecting from Tucker? Hesitance? Signs of him second-guessing himself? Doubt? The truth was I expected to see all those things warring for dominance in his dark eyes. His honesty startled me and bolstered my courage.

“I brought you an orchid.”

“I see that,”Tuck said, smiling warmly then stepping aside to allow me inside his house.

Aimee Nicole Walker Logo

Ever since she was a little girl, Aimee Nicole Walker entertained herself with stories that popped into her head. Now she gets paid to tell those stories to other people. She wears many titles—wife, mom, and animal lover are just a few of them. Her absolute favorite title is champion of the happily ever after. Love inspires everything she does, music keeps her sane, and coffee is the magic elixir that fuels her day. I’d love to hear from you.

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~Book Blast~ Last Loose End by K R Allen

BOOK BLAST

Book Title: Last Loose End

Author: K R Allen

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Fiverr

Release Date: May 6, 2018

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance, Action/Adventure/Spies

Trope/s: Gay for You

Themes: Authenticity, acceptance

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 122 917 words/ 296 pages

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Blurb

Australian secret agent Cole Pearson never could stay out of it.

Now he is AWOL and on the run with Sean Trammel, analyst for mining giant ARBUS dodging killers and cut off from help as he never is overseas. As they try to uncover the reasons behind the attack on Sean, Cole unexpectedly realises that he has reasons purely personal and increasingly physical for wanting to keep this man safe. And as they discover the stakes for their hunters they know that it is going to take more than Cole’s charm, guns and wits to keep Sean alive and out of their clutches.

 

Buy Links

Smashwords

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Excerpt

It was the skulking action that first caught his eye. Even without the dark grey fatigues, not couture de rigueur for urban Brisbane, the light step and hurried, almost sneaking motion was deeply suspicious. Cole sat up straighter in his car, the boredom from sitting for five straight hours disappearing in an instant. The skulker slid along the side of the office building heading towards the back. Any legitimate visitor to the building would go through the front door, check in at the counter maybe. It wasn’t the building Cole was supposed to be watching and it was extremely unlikely that the skulker was the Indonesian intelligence officer he was looking out for but he was intrigued nonetheless.

“Now what are you up to buddy?” he muttered. A moment later he saw the man wasn’t alone. Two more men dressed in similar dark grey fatigues followed his path. Cole looked up and down the Spring Hill street. People were coming and going and not paying the slightest attention to him or the men moving into the building across the road from him.

Cole tapped his fingers against the vinyl of the steering wheel. He knew he should mind his own business. It wasn’t what he was there for and he knew he’d only been given this surveillance detail as punishment for his latest misdemeanour. He didn’t think his career could stand many more infractions. Anyway, it was warm in the car and while it was a sunny day out and midday, outside the air was chilly in typical Brisbane May weather. Still…he caught sight of another two figures and pursed his lips. Someone’s day was about to go to crap, he thought reasoning with himself. And really he could do with some movement. For an hour he had sketched passersby and played license plate poker on and off but mental stimulation didn’t keep the blood pumping. A moment more of internal debate and he grabbed his gun from under his jacket on the passenger seat and slipped out of the car. He was just going to take a look he told himself.

On this street the buildings were actually accessed at road level half way up the building with at least four floors below due to the way a hill had been cut into years before. The skulkers had wound their way from street level up the maintenance gangways which wrapped around the sides and presumably the back of the building like a mesh exoskeleton, up two floors so Cole followed at a distance. He saw the lead man jimmy open a door and the whole string of them, bar one who stayed by the door as look out, slipped inside pulling on ski masks as they did so.

‘Just taking a look’ would end now, Cole thought. No matter how he spun it. He’d clearly seen them go into a building he wasn’t supposed to be monitoring. At most he should call the Police. Instead, he double checked the magazine in his pistol and set to finding another way into the building.

Cole went back down one floor and used a fire extinguisher to break open a door and found himself in a back hallway near a couple of storerooms and the toilets. He slipped his gun into the back of his pants pulling the buttoned shirt free of his waistband so it could hang over the top to hide the gun. Following the hallway he entered an open area with a kitchenette along one wall and an open eating area with a floor to ceiling window looking out onto a courtyard type arrangement. When he encountered a couple of people, he adopted his best ‘yep, I’m meant to be here’ countenance and kept steadily on. He’d had a lot of practice blending in and it did not fail him here. Pretty much everyone ignored him. Just beyond the kitchen was a void through at least five levels with stairs to the next level up and down. The timber stairs squeaked slightly at his steps but still no one gave him a second glance. It was the usual thing, he thought. If you were in everyone just assumed that you were supposed to be.

 

About the Author

Kathryn Allen is an Australian cross-genre author of magic realism romance Ever Man and male/male action thriller Last Loose End along with a frankly ridiculous number of in-the-works fantasy, action and drama novels. For added confusion, she also writes under the names K R Allen and Kathryn R Allen. She enjoys writing about characters taller, bolder, quicker with the comebacks and infinitely better shots than she is.

Find out more about Kathryn at: https://www.kathrynallen.com.au/

 

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~Release Blitz~ Under the Jasmine Flowers by W.S. Long

RELEASE BLITZ

Book Title: Under the Jasmine Flowers

Author: W.S. Long

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Design

Release Date: May 18, 2019

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Forced in the closet until he realizes he has to be out

Themes: Coming out, forgiveness

Heat Rating: 3 flames

Length: 73 321 words/154 pages

Add on Goodreads

Buy Links

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Blurb

Jojo Arias, a Spanish-Filipino mestizo, didn’t expect to meet a U.S. Marine in a swank bar in the Philippines. But, Jojo can’t deny the electricity they have once he meets Adam. Although they come from different worlds, they struggle to keep their relationship private to protect Jojo’s status, and position as part of one of wealthiest and powerful in Filipino society. Billions of dollars could be easily lost if his family business was jeopardized by Jojo’s secret. Jojo is pressured to abandon Adam and live a life in the closet. When the struggle to maintain their secret romance unravels, Jojo is left with a life-changing decision to leave his family, or to pursue his love.

Excerpt

James Joseph Garcia Arias savored the last few drops, then set the now empty pilsner down, right next to two other empty bottles of San Miguel beer. Despite the thick glass windows in the swank Makati bar that should have offered some soundproofing, Saturday Manila traffic passed noisily one floor below. The rumble of buses, cars honking, and steady stream of headlights never bored him. He preferred the noise of the city to the quiet stillness that his parents called home.

He glanced at his Patek Phillipe Nautilus watch his grandmother had given him. He texted Erwin. Ready. Barely a second or two passed, when his phone received the reply text. Be right there, boss. He sighed. He’d asked Erwin not to call him that for the longest time, but Erwin insisted. Jojo stood, fished out the right amount of pesos, plus a slightly larger gratuity than what was expected, then headed for the men’s room. A large group of Americans sat around the glass-tiled bar, laughing loudly. He guessed they were military, based on their crew cuts, hanging out to blow off steam. When he returned a few minutes later, after peeing an hour’s worth of beer, one of the military guys glanced up, and smiled at him. The man’s eyes followed Jojo.

Walk on by. Don’t stop.

He wanted to listen to the voice inside his head but he couldn’t. Maybe the alcohol made him less inhibited, maybe he was still reeling from the breakup with his fiancee and maybe he wanted to talk to someone who wasn’t an employee or a family member, or maybe because no one left in the bar knew him because the next thing he did was he stopped, inches away from the blond.

“Is this seat taken?” Jojo asked.

The stranger smiled more broadly and shook his head. “No.”

Jojo waited a second to see if the handsome man would say something else, but all the blond man did was smile even more. “American right?” Jojo asked.

“Yes.”

“I’m guessing you guys are U.S. military?”

“Marines, yeah. We’re sending one of our guys off, rotating from the Embassy here. My name’s Adam, by the way.” Adam offered his hand, which Jojo shook.

“James Arias, but my friends call me ‘Jojo’.”

Adam opened his mouth to say something but was interrupted by his friends who came over to meet Jojo. It didn’t take Jojo long to figure that Adam was probably the only sober one in the group, as the four other guys slurred their words, and often laughed uncontrollably at each other’s jokes. When Adam’s friends returned to their seats at the bar, Adam leaned in. “Your English is perfect, no trace of an accent, so I’m guessing you’re American too?”

“You’re partly right. I was born in America. My mother was a medical student in the U.S., and we lived in San Francisco but we moved back here after she got her degree.”

“So your mom’s a doctor?”

Jojo smiled. He wanted to tell Adam the whole long story of why his mother had never practiced medicine after she completed medical school because the family had seen no need of her working at a hospital or a clinic, and that these days her mother was busy hosting, or attending social and charitable events, but he thought the better of it and just answered simply. “Yeah, she is.”

“So you live here. . . I mean the Philippines?” Adam asked.

“Yes, I do.”

“I’m sorry I’m asking stupid questions because you don’t look Filipino. I hope I’m not offending you by saying that. Most Filipinos are short and very Asian looking. You look more like my Latino friends from Southern California and in a good way.”

Jojo laughed. “It’s probably the lighting, but my father and mother are both parts Spanish and Filipino so maybe that’s why my features are different than most.” Jojo’s cell phone vibrated. I’m downstairs, boss. Jojo palmed the phone for a second, aware that Adam was studying him. Erwin, something’s come up. Head back to the garage until I text you again.

“Girlfriend?”

Jojo shook his head without looking up from his phone.

“Boyfriend then?”

Jojo raised his head and laughed at the handsome man’s brazenness. He liked how Adam’s strong jawline, full lips and dark eyebrows peered at him, waiting on every word. Maybe it was the alcohol. He moved within earshot so that only the Marine could hear. “No, I haven’t had a boyfriend in a long time. But, I did just break up with my fiancée.”

“Is that why you were nursing several beers over in that corner after your friends left you?”

Jojo narrowed his eyes. “You’re very perceptive, Adam. Except they weren’t my friends, they were . . . co-workers.” Jojo almost said employees, but stopped himself. Maybe it was the Arias family tendency to be secretive, and not give out too much information, but here he was on a Saturday night in a bar, drinking, when he was usually still in the office poring over engineering details, building plans, and contract proposals.

“I’m sorry about the break up. You look torn up about it. I couldn’t help but notice earlier when we first arrived. Can I buy you a beer?”

Jojo smiled, then laughed without meaning to. The last time a guy had bought him a beer was in a dive bar right outside CalPoly, after an engineering final.

“What’s so funny?” Adam asked, as he chuckled along.

“It’s been a while since another guy offered to buy me a beer.”

“No worries. It looked like earlier you needed it. Did she break your heart?” Jojo faced toward the bar, away from Adam. Jojo didn’t say anything, but he wanted to respond.

Adam spoke again. “You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.”

Jojo pondered Adam’s question as Adam’s friends got louder and louder on their end of the bar.

“Don’t worry about them,” Adam said as he pointed to his friends. “I’m the designated driver, and in about an hour they’ll all be sound asleep snoring in the government issued van I’m driving.”

So he’s brazen without alcohol.

Jojo faced Adam and breathed deeply. He couldn’t tell the color of Adam’s piercing eyes but Jojo couldn’t deny his own intense interest in the serviceman. Adam leaned in and prolonged his gaze. Jojo was mesmerized. Adam seemed genuinely concerned. And maybe he was wrong, but Adam appeared compassionate. “She asked me if I was ever going to marry her. If I loved her, and if we were only together because both our families wanted it. I had to tell her the truth, and that as much as I had feelings for her, I didn’t love her.”

“Ouch!” Then Adam smiled, his voice took on a tone of playfulness. “And you’re here, living and breathing with no scratch on you.”

“She is a very logical, rational person. That’s why I liked her when we first met. She was so completely different from the other girls my parents tried to set me up with.”

“You have a picture of her? I’m curious.”

Jojo nodded, fished out his phone, and scrolled through some pictures before showing a good one of his ex, Lani.

“Wow. She’s hot. Your parents had good taste if they thought she would be a good wife.”

One of Adam’s friends sauntered over and peered at Lani’s photo. “Dude, your girlfriend?”

“Ex,” Adam said. “That’s his ex.”

“How about giving me her number? She’s pretty.”

Jojo shook his head. If Lani, a black belt in tae kwon do, found out he’d ever given her number to someone, she’d probably roundhouse kick him in the head before he knew anything about it. “Sorry, I can’t do that.”

“Well, at least I tried,” the Marine said. “Hey, Adam, we’re thinking we should head on over to the bars downtown.”

“Downtown?” Adam asked.

“Ermita,” the man said.

Adam turned away so that only Jojo could see his face as he rolled his eyes.

“What do you say? For old time’s sake?” his friend asked. “You’re welcome to come along––’’

“––Jojo, my name’s, Jojo,” as they both shook hands.

“Mine’s Nate. Yeah, come along with us, I’m sure Adam won’t mind,” the Marine continued. “It’ll keep him company, and his mind off his ex-boyfriend he’s probably still pining after.”

Adam slouched. Adam’s reaction to his Marine buddy’s comment must have hit a chord and Jojo was compelled to find out more about Adam. Jojo hesitated for a moment. He wasn’t used to spontaneously accepting strangers offers to hang out, but Adam’s eyes beckoned him to say yes. Besides, maybe a few more hours out on the town would make him feel better for breaking up with Lani.

“If you’re sure I won’t be a fifth wheel, yeah, I’ll join you.”

Adam smiled. “Nate’s a little bit of a douche bag. So sorry about that.”

“Well, your friend’s had a little too much to drink.” Jojo leaned closer, sticking a hand in his pants pocket, his lips almost touching Adam’s ear, and whispered. “But to be honest, that scene is a little too, I’m trying to find the right words to say it––”

“––Red light? Yeah, I hate going down there.” Adam put his hand on top of Jojo’s wrist, squeezed it, and then removed it. The quick touch happened in a blink of an eye. “Do you have any other suggestions?”

Jojo didn’t say anything. He was shocked that Adam had just placed his hand on him, so casually, so friendly like. He couldn’t deny the electricity he felt when Adam touched him either. “If they’re looking for dancing women, there’s a club two blocks from here, more upscale but not so red light, as you say.”

“Well, lead the way, Jojo.” Adam smiled. “I’ll rustle them from the bar and we’ll follow you.” Adam stood and moved to where Nate and the other guys were huddled.

Jojo motioned to the bartender. “I’ll pay their tab.”

“Thanks, Mr. Arias. Shall I add it to your monthly bill?”

Jojo nodded. Before he could say anything else, Adam appeared at his elbow. Standing, he towered over Jojo by a few inches.

“The boys are cool checking out a new place. Thanks for the offer.”

“So who’s leaving that you’re having this party for?” Jojo asked.

“His name’s John.” Adam pointed him out. “He’s been stationed at the Embassy for more than three years now. Overdue for his new assignment back to San Diego.”

Jojo signed the chit the bartender handed him without even looking at the total bill.

“Hey, is that our bill? You shouldn’t have done that. What do we owe you?”

Jojo shook his head. “Don’t worry about it. I come here often enough that they actually give me a discount, and I’m glad to pay. Thanks for your service. All of you.”

Adam walked to where Nate stood, clapped him on the shoulder, and shouted something in his ear. All the guys around Nate, including John turned to Jojo and raised their glasses and beer bottles, some empty and others not so empty. “Thanks!” they shouted in unison.

Adam took two steps back to Jojo. “Now, they’ll follow you to the ends of the earth. Buying their drinks bought you some loyalty. Lead the way, fine sir!” Adam gestured with a bow, holding an invisible cap in his hands as his head followed the gesture.

Jojo laughed at the dramatic flourish and walked out of the bar, Adam right next to him as the other Marines followed them. As they took the steps down one level to the street, Jojo recognized the SUV parked on the side. “Hold on,” he said to Adam.

Jojo approached the Lexus with dark tinted windows. The whir of the window revealed Erwin’s face. “I didn’t go back to the garage, boss. They said I could just wait here until you were done, however long it lasted.”

“Well, we’re headed to my cousin’s VIP club down the block. You know the one. If you want to meet me there, that’s fine.” Jojo ignored his driver’s raised eyebrow. Jojo’s cousin, Tiny, owned a lounge with a rooftop bar.

Jojo hadn’t talked to Tiny in a week or so, since Tiny asked for a loan from Arias Holdings to help his deep in the red bar.

Tiny’s club had boxing on one floor, Ukrainian and Russian models on the second floor, and Filipino women, working as cocktail waitresses, dressed in Vietnamese ao dais whose skirts were mini-skirts rather than full length dresses. The male bartenders were all selectively picked for the discreet crowd. Cousin Tiny interviewed the entire bar and wait staff himself, making sure that they were attractive. The truth was, if they could flirt with Tiny and the head waitress, they were hired if they had a pretty face. Jojo didn’t care for the little people fighting in a small area that took up most of the dance floor, but his cousin assured him that he never exploited them, and that they were being paid handsomely to pretend to hit each other very hard.

The walk to the building where the lounge was didn’t take long. Security at the front recognized Jojo immediately. “They’re with me,” Jojo pointed to Adam and the Marines. The large security guard at the front, who Jojo guessed was probably part Samoan and part Filipino, was dressed in a heavy wool jacket and pants, nodded and then radioed the two equally large security guards by the door. They were shown to the marbled main floor of the building. As soon as they took the elevators, again escorted by another security guard, Adam and the Marines were quiet and didn’t say much. When they arrived at the final floor, loud music greeted them before the elevator doors opened.

About the Author

A military brat, who joined the military himself, W.S. Long now practices law during the day, but at night reads and writes male-male romance. When he’s not writing, W.S. Long travels and dreams of traveling far off distant lands with his mild-mannered college professor husband.

Author Links

Blog/Website

Twitter: @wslongauthor

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My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a beautiful contemporary m/m romance about Jojo – who comes from a powerful family who aren’t thrilled about his sexuality and want him to keep it quiet- and Adam – an american serviceman. They meet at a bar ,the attraction is instantaneous and they are inseparable after that. Jojo’s family and friends bring the perfect amount of angst to keep the story interesting. This was a perfect amount of angst, romance and sweet for me.

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~Release Blitz~ Surprise Groom (Marital Blizz #1) by DJ Jamison

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK | Universal LinkExclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited
 
Length: 89,000 words approx.
 
Cover Design: Garrett Leigh @ Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb
 

Can two men fake their way to marital bliss?



Caleb Taylor is shocked to learn his family could lose Bliss Island Resort — their home and livelihood — unless he makes use of a clause to marry the child of investor Louis Chastain. Sofia Chastain is more like a sister than a love interest, and Caleb isn’t ready to sign over his future. But Sofia has a brother, and Caleb has a plan …



Julien Chastain was disowned at fifteen and has made a life as a go-go dancer in Miami, but he lives paycheck to paycheck. When his childhood friend proposes an outlandish marriage contract, he thinks he’s crazy. But it’s a chance at a future that’s tough to pass up.



Caleb and Julien must present themselves as an authentic couple for the legal loophole to work, but the lines between “fake” and “real” keep shifting as they navigate intimacy, public scrutiny, and sabotage.



Love isn’t part of the plan, but plans change. If they can outsmart Julien’s father and prove their love is worth more than a transaction, they just might find a true happily-ever-after.

 
Excerpt
 

“Should we kiss?” Caleb asked.



Julien gave him an arch look. “My answer to that question is always yes.”



Caleb chuckled awkwardly. “For the selfie, I meant.”



“Mm-hmm.” Julien managed to make skeptical sound sexy.



“Okay, shut up and put your lips on mine,” Caleb said.



“Oh, baby. Your dirty talk is off the charts.”



Caleb laughed. “Stop, I’m trying—”



Julien caught his mouth mid-word, shifting toward him as their lips clung. The feeling it evoked caught Caleb off-guard. They’d been joking around like friends, but the kiss didn’t feel friendly. It wasn’t erotic. No tongues plunging deep. But it was sweet. He had no idea kissing another man could feel that way.



In contrast to his soft lips, Julien’s hard chest pressed against Caleb’s shoulder. His right arm was behind Caleb, fingers brushing his neck, and his left hand slid down to just over Caleb’s upper chest. Their position was a little awkward, Caleb’s neck craned to the left, and he had his right arm outstretched for the selfie.



The kiss wasn’t getting his entire focus as he fumbled with the phone in his hand. Even with his attention divided, even with the very un-sexy circumstances of why they were doing this, the kiss felt real. Just as real as any he’d shared with a girlfriend. Maybe even more so. Julien had been the most important person in his life once. He couldn’t say the same for any of his short-lived girlfriends.



It took only seconds to break through Caleb’s self-delusion. His surety he wasn’t into men that way. He liked Julien’s lips on his.



Julien shifted, then slipped, and they were ripped apart by gravity as he nearly faceplanted in Caleb’s lap.



“Whoa!” Caleb said, catching Julien’s shoulder with one hand. “Trying for second base already? Or is that third? Not sure with guys.”



“I slipped! I had my arm braced behind you, and the pillow moved, or—”



“Suuure,” Caleb said. “I bet you say that to all the guys, huh?”



Julien pushed himself upright, his hand leaving a brand of warmth on Caleb’s thigh, before he pulled away. Grabbing the pillow behind his head, he smacked Caleb in the head. “Asshole.”



When Caleb finally stopped laughing, he noticed Julien didn’t look amused.



“I was kidding. I’m sure you’re much smoother when you’re actually trying to put the moves on someone.”



Julien flipped him off. “That picture better be worth it.”

 
Author Bio
 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. 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, two fish and, regrettably, one snake.


 

 

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