Tuesday, May 31, 2022

The Fire Island Ice Queen by B.J. Irons (Spotlight) ADULT title



The Fire Island Ice Queen
ADULT title

by

B.J. Irons



Publisher: Spectrum Books

Release Date: May 7, 2022

Genres: Contemporary M/M Romance – Beach Read

Tropes: Friends to lovers

Themes: Coming of Age, Embracing Sexual Identity

Heat Rating: 2 flames

Length: 50 000 words

It is a standalone book and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads 



A Fire Island beach read that will melt the hearts of all ice queens

Blurb 

College law student, Connor, is a bit pretentious, high-strung and what some might describe as being cold as ice. After catching his boyfriend cheating on him and then being dumped, Connor decides to take his best friend Byron up on his offer for a summer gaycation experience to Fire Island.

While at Fire Island, Connor reevaluates his identity and goes through a deep soul searching experience to truly understand himself. While on vacation, he befriends a stranger named Lawrence, who encourages Connor to open up more and become lively. Lawrence proposes that Connor completes a series of wild, fun tasks, which he dubs as the Fire Island Ice Queen Challenge to get Connor to come out of his shell more. Will this frivolous and boisterous vacation at Fire Island be enough to melt the heart of this Ice Queen?

Excerpt

Chapter 1

“Ewwwww!” I exclaimed, noticing the skinny, shirtless guy dancing on the box out of the corner of my eye. He had two older men standing below holding dollar bills up at him.

Pathetic!

The whole scene gave me an unsettling feeling in my stomach. The boy reeked of desperation for attention and the old men reeked of desperation for the pale and frail twink. I was expecting to see his skin glisten like diamonds when the strobe lights moved on top of him. He was decidedly vampiric-looking, but lacked the hot features of Edward Cullen.

I rolled my eyes and diverted my focus back to my boyfriend, Derrick, who was beside me at the bar, ordering us another round of drinks.

“What are you ewww-ing about now?” he asked.

“Just that dirty ginger up on the box.” I pointed in the direction of him, now bending over on the box, getting the money tucked into his waistband by the two tragic geriatrics.

“Ugh! Why do you care about him anyway, Connor?” Derrick questioned me with a vexed tone in his voice.

He was right. I did care too much about how other

people behaved, dressed, acted, etc. I was a very judgmental person and I could recognize that in myself. However, I wouldn’t dare to let other people think that of me. As much as I cared about how others presented themselves, I cared even more about how I looked and how I was judged. I went to the gym every day, made sure I was the top student in all of my college classes, and wanted everyone to know that I was beyond mature for my age. I wouldn’t have them think any less of me.

But, I’d be out of my mind to admit this to my boyfriend.

“I don’t really care about him at all. It’s just an observation,” I confessed.

Derrick handed me my drink that the bartender gave him. “Yeah. But just let him be. He’s a young guy just trying to have fun. Clearly, he doesn’t care what other people think of him. If anything, you’re giving him the attention he wants by even making thatcomment.”

My boyfriend had a point here. I was giving him more attention than I should. And now, by having this conversation with Derrick, I was donating way too much of my time and energy in talking about him.

Derrick then reached for my empty hand. “Do you want to dance?”

I shook my head, recoiling from him. “Nah. I’m good. You can go ahead. I’ll chill out here at the bar for a bit. I wouldn’t be caught dead dancing out there.”

He simply shrugged and chugged his drink before turning around to head out to the dance floor.

I decided to take the now empty seat at the bar he left open. I glanced down at my phone and began scrolling through a few social media posts. This place was getting boring. Yawning, I checked the time to realize it wasn’t even midnight yet. What a snooze-fest tonight had turned out to be. Our usual friends had other plans and couldn’t make it out tonight, which left Derrick and me stuck alone with ourselves. I turned back around to try and pinpoint his location on the crowded dance floor, but had no luck.

I let out a heavy sigh, tapping my right leg up and down on the foot of the barstool. I had to really take a piss, and couldn’t hold it in much longer. But, at the same time, I didn’t want Derrick to come back and think I had disappeared.

However, I would only be gone for a minute or so. Oh well. I stood up and walked across the dance floor towards the bathroom.

“Nice ass!” I heard a man behind me say as he grabbed my butt as I scooted by him.

Dirty fucker! He was lucky I had to use the bathroom so badly. Otherwise, I would have turned back around and made a whole scene in front of everyone.

I pushed my way through the random guys chilling in the hallway leading to the bathroom, who were either gossiping or making out with one another. I opened the bathroom door and saw that the four urinals were occupied. One of the two stalls had the door halfway open, so I slightly kicked it to make sure no one was in there before I claimed it.

Locking the door behind me, I dropped my pants and released myself, letting out a light sigh of relief. I glanced down at the floor and could see a rather large shadow coming from the next stall over. There was definitely more than one person there. I could then hear a few wet and sloppy kiss-like noises coming from next door as well.

Like seriously!? Get a fucking room!

I flushed the toilet and walked out of the stall, shaking my head in disdain. Moving towards the sink, I checked myself out in the mirror as I proceeded to wash my hands. I rubbed my hand through my hair, making sure it was swept back nicely. My mouth gaped open at what I saw next. The door to the stall that was next to mine opened and the two guys emerged from it. The first was some random, cute guy who had a similarly toned body to me, except he had bright bleach blonde hair. Then, behind him, was Derrick.

Derrick was with that stranger in the stall!? What the fuck!?

I immediately turned around to face them both.

“Derrick! What the fuck!? Are you shitting me right now!?” I yelled.








**************

Giveaway 

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Friday, May 27, 2022

The New Enchantress by Sunayna Prasad (VBT, excerpt, and GIVEAWAY) GFT


 

It is my pleasure to share a guest post by author Sunayna Prasad, who shares...




The Best Part About Writing Fantasy

by

Sunayna Prasad


The most enjoyable aspect of writing fantasy is the worldbuilding. I have had a lot of fun creating the enchanted world in my books. People have compared my novels to “Harry Potter” constantly, although a good number of elements differ from J.K. Rowling’s wizarding world. A big example is that wizards use magical technology that is far more advanced than the ordinary kinds.

I could go on with the magical world in my books. But, of course, that would be too much. I will give a little history of how my attraction to writing fantasy began.

As a child, I loved to imagine things constantly. After all, many little kids like to play make-believe as a way to express their imaginations.

I was no different. But I did imagine my own little fictional worlds numerous times. Of course, as a kid, I knew nothing about creating a compelling fantastical world.

But once I finished high school, I learned to study the writing craft, which took 7 years. I’m sure it will mature as I grow older. However, my current writing abilities can attract great overall ratings and reviews rather than just good or decent, which is how it when I was between 19 and 24.

Once I learned the writing craft, I discovered more tips and guidelines for creating fantasy stories. One of the tips I’ve learned was to avoid cliches. That is how I produced my own magical creatures in my book series.

A guideline I’ve learned is that magic must have limits in fantasy stories. Although the magic in my series has a lot of limits, a person who edited the first book when I updated it assumed that there were no limits to the wizardry since I merely talked about what was possible first. And this is when my MC is just starting to learn about the wizarding world.

Since that bugged me, I wrote to that editor long after, and stated the many limits of magic in the novel. The editor responded by saying that I didn’t have to mention all the limits up front, but that he or she (this site I used doesn’t give out the names or genders of the editors) appreciated me sharing them.

I am currently working on the 4th installment of the “Magical Missions” series. I started in March of last year. However, it took a while to discover an exciting plot.

Once I started online grad school, I pushed the writing and outlining to the side. Even though I am taking a summer class, I still set aside time to write every day. But I’m doing it in a notebook to avoid distractions.


****************





The New Enchantress

by 

Sunayna Prasad

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 

GENRE: Middle Grade Fantasy

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

BLURB:

 

Cursed by a sorcerer’s hex, Alyssa McCarthy finds herself in a fight she can’t afford to lose, or everything she knows will be lost!

 

After she finishes her final year of junior high, fourteen-year-old Alyssa faces an uncertain future in more ways than one when a sorcerer casts a hex that leaves her with involuntary magical powers that are too dangerous to remove.

 

Unable to control her newly gained abilities Alyssa’s end-of-middle-school sleepover ends in disaster when she knocks her friends unconscious when her powers go out of control. If Alyssa can’t learn to master her magic soon, she will be cursed to forget her loved ones and serve as the warlock’s slave for all of eternity.

 

Her only hope is to focus on controlling her emotions if she is to break the curse. However, the difficulties of adolescence, along with the perils and growing disasters she faces, make Alyssa struggle even more. From putting her friends’ lives at risk to losing their trust, she continues to fear what will become of her if she fails.

 

Will Alyssa be able to break the hex and become the enchantress that she was meant to be, or will she become enslaved to the sorcerer forever?

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

EXCERPT

 

Alyssa played the video she’d made for the upcoming teen film festival. If she submitted it, she would earn five extra points to add to her 70 in math. That would allow her to drop the mandatory extra-help class for students with final scores less than a 75.

 

She watched the clip, experiencing watery eyes when she heard herself discussing losing her parents in a car crash when she was seven and other tragic events in her life. It concluded with how those times had shaped her into the person she was today, Friday, June 10th, 2011. She exported the project and would upload it to the festival’s site later. The deadline was not until Monday, 7 P.M. So, after this, she could focus on the end-of-middle-school sleepover that would happen today.

 

But the screen froze, and a small popup stated, “Cannot export file.”

 

“Huh?”

 

How could a two-month-old device encounter issues already? Alyssa had had to wait until her last birthday, in April, and needed to maintain good grades at school to get her own computer. She recalled what her godfather, Alex, had told her in February after her math substitute had informed him about her scores dropping. “Alyssa, if you don’t get your grades up in math, you might not earn that laptop.” He loved and cared for her like a daughter yet shared no blood relation to her family members. She’d lived with him since turning thirteen last year.

 

Her breathing caught at the popup—a new model should not have a virus already. But she told herself, I’m fourteen and am going to start high school this fall. I can fix this.

 

The computer turned itself off, closed itself, and crushed Alyssa’s fingers.

 

“Ow!” she cried.

 

The device slid off her lap and under her bed. She looked underneath it—without warning, dust blew onto her, covering her petite body.

 

She coughed as the soot settled. Then she brushed the dirt off her black shirt and its straps on her narrow shoulders, followed by her short shorts and skin. She shook bits out of her straight, pale-blonde hair, which fell a few inches below her hips.

 

She’d dealt with enough sorcery already, once last year in March and again this past fall. However, neither she nor anybody in her life possessed magic in their blood. From age eight until two springs ago, she’d believed that magic hadn’t existed.

 

She had interacted with a few magicians when dealing with supernatural situations that no one as young as she should have to experience.

 

She planned to find that idiot who just ruined her summer by stealing her laptop. A folded piece of paper appeared on her bed and seemed to include the word, laptop, so she read it.

 

Alyssa,

 

Your laptop is going to become a new brain-domination computer. The International Magic Control has disabled all the existing ones and has banned any magic from transforming enchanted technology into mind-managing devices. But your laptop is needed exclusively for my particular process.

Also, don’t remove your new magic powers. If you try, you might die.

 

Anonymous

 

The note vanished into thin air. Alyssa touched her forehead and breathed since wizardry shouldn’t work on standard technology. Possibilities advanced over time, but they still had numerous everlasting limits.

 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 

Sunayna Prasad enjoys writing fantasy books for children, as well as cooking, creating artwork, watching online videos, and blogging. She has also written The Frights of Fiji and A Curse of Mayhem. She is passionate about modern-day life in fantasy stories, worldbuilding, and even humor. She is constantly brainstorming new ideas and using her creativity.

 

Sunayna graduated from college in 2017 and lives in New York.

 

Website

Facebook

Twitter

Amazon author page


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GIVEAWAY


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Monday, May 23, 2022

No Surrender by Morgan Brice (spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) ADULT tile



 No Surrender

Badlands Book 5 - An MM Psychic Detective Romance Adventure 

ADULT title

by

Morgan Brice



Publisher: Darkwind Press

Cover Artist: Natania Barron

Release Date: April 22, 2022

Genres: Urban fantasy MM paranormal romance, psychic detective

Tropes: Hurt/comfort, established relationship, evolving relationship, learning to trust, grumpy-sunshine, cold case, ghosts helping/interfering, lots of magic, wedding planning

Themes: Found family, loyalty, not keeping secrets, dealing with unresolved issues, putting the past to rest

Heat Rating: 4 flames  

Length: 224 pages

It is a standalone book in the Badlands series and does not end on a cliffhanger.

Goodreads


Cold cases, hot leads, a psychic psychopath, a copycat killer, cursed objects, the trial of the century--and wedding plans.

Blurb 

Psychic medium Simon Kincaide and sexy homicide detective Vic D'Amato met hunting a supernatural serial killer. Since then, Simon has become a police consultant on cases involving the paranormal, and Vic has gotten over his doubts about Simon's abilities being real. Along the way, they fell in love and got engaged. But it seems like the danger never ends.

Now, the first case Simon and Vic worked together comes back to haunt them as the killer goes to court and all hell breaks loose. The killer has a crazy fan setting curses on key players in the upcoming trial. Ghosts from an old cold case suggest that someone got away with murder. And a supernatural creature attracted to fear and death is using the Grand Strand as its feeding ground. Simon and Vic feel like they’re waging a war on all fronts, but with the stakes so high, there can be No Surrender!

No Surrender is a fast-paced thrill ride MM paranormal romance packed with supernatural suspense, haunted tourist attractions, monsters, visions, hot sex, hurt/comfort, loyal friends, wedding planning, found family, ghosts galore, dark magic, and an evolving, established romantic relationship with all the feels.

No Surrender is Book 5 in the Badlands series but can be read as a standalone.

Excerpt



“Since when do serial killers get fan mail?” Homicide detective Vic D’Amato fumed. “How fucked up is that?”

“They don’t just get fan letters; they get marriage proposals,” his partner Ross Hamilton replied, shaking his head in disbelief. “I don’t get it, but that doesn’t stop it from being true.”

Vic took a slug of coffee from his stained mug and barely kept from grimacing at the bitter taste. Hospitals and police precincts always made the worst java. “I guess it’s like the people who follow all the true-crime podcasts. We get paid to be hip-deep in the worst humanity has to offer, but doing it for fun? People are weird.”

“You’ve been a cop for how long, and you’re just figuring that out now?” Ross teased.

Vic shrugged. “Every time I think that I’ve lowered my expectations too far, reality says—‘Here, hold my beer.’”

“Yeah, well. I’m right there with you on this one.” Ross chuckled. “Have you heard whether you and Simon will have to testify at the trial?”

“Pretty certain. Of all the charges, Fischer shooting Simon is the most ironclad, with plenty of witnesses,” Vic replied. “I’m not in any hurry to be part of the media circus, but I don’t see a way to avoid it.”

“Lucky you—the Slitter trial is shaping up to be the biggest deal Myrtle Beach has had in a long time.”

Vic grew up in a family of cops back in Pittsburgh. For generations, D’Amatos had been proud to serve. His father, brothers, and other relatives were still on the force up north while his sister was studying criminology. But an encounter with something supernat‐ ural Vic couldn’t explain had made him unwelcome with the Pitts‐ burgh police. Vic had relocated, started over in Myrtle Beach—and met the love of his life.

“I don’t want to put Simon through what happened the last time,” Vic confided.

“Not sure you’re going to have much choice about it.” Ross finished his coffee and set the cup aside. “The closer we get to the trial date, the more reporters will be angling for a scoop. I’m surprised there haven’t been some camped out in front of the store already.”

“I suspect Simon boosted the wardings against nuisance as well as malice. I tried talking him into going down to Charleston to spend some time with his cousin, but he flat-out refused to leave me here alone during the run-up to the trial.”

“Alone—with me and the captain and the rest of the department, plus a squad of lawyers and witnesses?” Ross joked.

“And not one of you with any magic, in a trial where the killer used spells to help him get away with murder,” Vic answered. “Simon doesn’t want to be in the spotlight—or the crosshairs—but if it comes to that, I don’t doubt he and his friends will come up with ways to protect us.”

Simon Kincaide, Vic’s fiancĂ©, ran Grand Strand Ghost Tours. The boardwalk shop also offered psychic readings and sĂ©ances, showcasing Simon’s abilities as a psychic medium as well as his knowledge of the spooky side of local history and his background as a former folklore and mythology professor.

When an impasse in the hunt for the Strand Slitter brought the investigation to a standstill more than a year ago, Vic tamped down on his deep skepticism about the paranormal and asked for Simon’s help as a psychic. Their first encounters with each other were prickly, and Vic accepted much of the blame for that since he had doubted Simon’s abilities and hated needing his help.

Simon turned out to be the real deal, and his visions plus the ability to communicate with the ghosts of the Slitter’s victims cracked the case—nearly costing Simon his life. In the year since then, Simon became an official police consultant, working cases with Vic and Ross when a supernatural connection seemed likely. Vic and Simon fell in love and now had a wedding to plan.


Buy Links

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Kobo  |   Nook 



*************************

About the Author

Morgan Brice is the romance pen name of bestselling author Gail Z. Martin. Morgan writes urban fantasy male/male paranormal romance, with plenty of action, adventure and supernatural thrills to go with the happily ever after. Gail writes epic fantasy and urban fantasy, and together with co-author hubby Larry N. Martin, steampunk and comedic horror, all of which have less romance, more explosions. Characters from her Gail books make frequent appearances in secondary roles in her Morgan books, and vice versa.

On the rare occasions Morgan isn’t writing, she’s either reading, cooking, or spoiling two very pampered dogs.

Series include Witchbane, Badlands, Treasure Trail, Kings of the Mountain and Fox Hollow. Watch for more in these series, plus new series coming soon!

Author Links

Website  |  Audible Profile  |  Amazon profile

Facebook Group  |   Facebook Page

  Pinterest (for Morgan and Gail)  |  Twitter    

 BookBub  |  Instagram

TikTok 

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Read a copy of my Badlands short story Restless Nights here for free



****************************


Giveaway 

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*****************
My review:

 

4.25 out of 5 stars

 

 

“No Surrender” by Morgan Brice is part of the ‘Badlands’ series that features Simon Kincaid and his fiance Vic D’Amato, who use their skills as a psychic medium and homicide detective, respectively, to solve paranormal cases. Mysterious curses threaten to derail an important trial, complicated by a very poorly investigated cold case involving missing women. The pair will have to use all the resources they can find to resolve the cases, but even that may not be enough to keep them safe from a determined killer.

 

This exciting gay paranormal mystery and romance continues to highlight the challenges of solving cases when the only witnesses are dead, and the skills needed are highly specialized and require sometimes unorthodox methods. It is always fascinating to get glimpses of the arcane abilities that Simon displays, but it’s wonderful to see how far his relationship with Vic has progressed from those early days of suspicion and doubt. The love that the two have for each other shines through clearly, and the trust and faith that underpins their connection only deepens as the series continues.

 

This author has the talent to make these characters come alive and become folks one would love to know (not so sure about interacting with the ghosts, though). The story is exciting and holds one’s attention, not only because of the uniqueness of the crime-solving, but because many of the secondary characters are so fascinating as well. I always am excited to see a new episode in these guys’ lives, and I enjoy getting cameos from characters in the author’s other series. Although this probably can be read as a stand-alone book, it will be much more enjoyable if the other stories in the series have been read. Be prepared to stay up all night to finish the story as you get caught up in the enthralling and thrilling action.

 

A copy of this title was provided for review

Monday, May 16, 2022

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith (Spotlight, excerpt, review, and GIVEAWAY) GFT

 



Discovery of the Five Senses

by 

K.N. Smith

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GENRE:   Young Adult Action-Adventure, Young Adult Thriller, Urban Fantasy, Mystery/ Thriller

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

BLURB:

 

A suspenseful incident in a forbidden preserve heightens the senses of five friends. But furious battles confront the boys as they try to understand their sensory super powers in a race to save mankind. With light beings and mysterious strangers complicating their plight, will the boys be able to defeat the evil Druth before it’s too late?

 

Goodreads


~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 





EXCERPT


Soft swirls of light rose, dissipating as they spoke.  

“The others are capable, but they need our help. Peace will not come easily. We must give them strength.”

“Druth will destroy our home. He will hurt the gifted ones if the nectar finds him.” 

“They will not survive him.”

“The others must seek the will for survival. They   must understand their own power.”

A transient suspension held the beings in the preserve. Faint flecks of light dotted the landscape.

“In these two worlds, our ideas converge, yet  collide.”

“He must be stopped!”

“It is true.”

“Naculea must endure.”

“It is chosen.”

Now resting upon the succulent, running rich with the life-giving nectar, the beings absorbed its energy, glowing as bright as the sun. 

Thirst became a distant need yet again.

“We must warn… the one.”

“The one who sees.”

“The one who sees and hears much.”

“It is the only way.”

Final clicks faded into silence.

 


Book Links


U.S./International Amazon 

(will allow users to access Amazon in their own country)


Amazon (U.S. Amazon only) - please use the link above, if possible


Barnes and Noble 

Google Play 

Google Books 

Apple iBooks

Kobo

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

AUTHOR Bio and Links:

 


 K.N. Smith, winner of the “Best of” in the category of “Outstanding Young Adult Novel” at the Jessie Redmon Fauset Book Awards, is an author, screenwriter, and passionate advocate of literacy and arts programs throughout the world. She inspires people of all ages to reach their highest potential in their creative, educational, and life pursuits. She lives in California with her family.


 Visit K.N. Smith at her website.

 


Social Links

 Facebook

Website

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

GIVEAWAY

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The tour dates can be found here



***********************


My review:

 

3.5 stars

 

The Urban Boys: Discovery of the Five Senses by K.N. Smith follows a close-knit group of high school youngsters who not only deal with the challenges of teen life and angst, but must also find a way to combat an evil that threatens to destroy them and their town.

 

This young adult urban fantasy story blends typical challenges facing high school upperclassmen with a far more fantastical struggle that has been waging for decades. Filled with lyrical and beautifully vivid descriptions, this story explores bonds of family and brotherhood that is both genetic and formed. I love the diversity and the depiction of families who pull together despite trauma and loss, and younger brother Mason almost steals the show with his devotion and determination to protect his big brother, Jordan. There are intermittent explosive violent encounters, so use caution if that is a trigger.

 

The fantasy element is a little forced for me, although I like the idea of each of the boys developing a specific sense and working together to form a cohesive unit. Those who are concerned with such things should be aware that there is considerable head-hopping because the third party omniscient point of view tends to be a bit intermittent. I would have liked a little more depth to the characters, but I was able to connect to their struggles and definitely wanted them to be successful in their endeavors.

 

I think this is a good fantasy adventure story for young adults that also provides inspiration and reminders of how important a good support system is, whether that is parental or peer related.

 

A copy of this title was provided for review


Thursday, May 12, 2022

Stanley's Christmas Redemption by Gabbi Grey (Spotlight and excerpt) ADULT title

 


Stanley’s Christmas Redemption

ADULT title
by
Gabbi Grey


 

Stanley

 

I have life figured out—a good job, a nice car, and an ex-boyfriend whose heart I broke. But then my half-brother dies unexpectedly, and I go back to our hometown to settle his affairs. A quick trip before Christmas. Instead, I get the shock of my life. Do I face this new challenge or do what I’ve always done—run? Or will I stay and get to know the most amazing man I’ve ever met and take on a responsibility I've never dreamed of facing? This will be a holiday season like no other.

 

Justin

 

I’m a therapist who helps people deal with grief. My life is fulfilling. So what if I’ve been single for years? I have the kids I counsel and co-workers I adore. Maybe I’m tired of going home to an empty house and not looking forward to another Christmas alone. But I’m not going to be taken in by some slick city guy who can’t wait to leave town. I’m not going to upend my life just because I’ve met the man of my dreams. Right?

 

This is an 85k opposites-attract instalove mid-angst gay romance novel.  Previously published in the charity anthology Secret Santa: A Romance Collection, the story has quadrupled in size with more love, laughs, and a touch of Christmas magic.

 

 

********************** 

Excerpt

 

I entered the kitchen to find Angus hunkered down on a stool, watching Justin stirring something in a saucepan. A wonderful aroma of tomato and spices filled the room. I used to cook, once upon a time. Loved making elaborate meals for Maddox. I’d puttered around a few times since then, but mostly did takeout. What was the point of cooking for one?

And now two?

Justin’s eyes lit when he spotted me. He pointed to the stool with his wooden spoon. “You’re in time to solve the great debate.”

Tentatively, I sat. “Okay…” My voice held wariness. Of that, I was sure.

“Do mushrooms belong in spaghetti sauce?”

I looked back and forth between the man and Angus, trying to determine who was on which side.

“Don’t think about it,” Justin admonished. “Just go with your gut.”

Our gazes met.

My heart did a little flip.

“Portobello are the best, and you can never have too many mushrooms in the sauce.”

Angus pumped his fist in the air.

Justin rolled his eyes and sighed dramatically. With exaggerated motions, he went over to the fridge and pulled out a container of pre-cut mushrooms. Another sigh exploded from him as he dumped half the tray into the pot.

Angus clapped.

Anything. I’d do anything to make him smile again like that.

Justin held out a raw mushroom slice, and Angus nabbed it, shoving it into his mouth.

Okay, I loved mushrooms, but that was a little much, even for me.

As Angus struggled to swallow, Justin poured a glass of water from the sink. “Drink up, kiddo.”

He did. After several gulps, he put the glass down. “My dad fries them up in butter for me. Mom didn’t love them, but I sure do.” His shoulders slumped.

I met Justin’s gaze, and he nodded, knowing what I was asking. What I needed. I placed a tentative hand on my nephew’s shoulder. Unbelievably, he didn’t tense.

Instead, he sagged into the touch.

He was slight beneath my large hand. So delicate. Much like his father had been around that age. “You know, I don’t remember your dad liking mushrooms so much, but I do remember how much he loved swimming. We had a swimming pool, and he spent every day of summer vacation in the water.” I hadn’t, of course. I’d been too mature for frivolity.

Angus perked up. “I love swimming. I take lessons all the time over at the pool. My teacher is a nice lady named Quinn. She’s going to be a veter…a…”

“Veterinarian.” Justin said the word easily. He pointed to the dry pasta. “Do we break it in half?”

“Only little kids need their pasta short.” Angus jutted out his chin. “I’m not a little kid.”

“No, you’re not.”

Justin said the words quietly, but I caught the flicker of pain in his eyes. Angus would never be little again. What innocence that had been left was gone for good.

I held my hand against the boy, offering what comfort I could. I might be an adult, but I didn’t know what I was supposed to do.

 

 

Buy links:

Amazon

Audible

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Bio

 

Gabbi lives in beautiful British Columbia where her fur baby chin-poo keeps her safe from the nasty neighborhood squirrels. Working for the government by day, she spends her early mornings writing contemporary, gay, sweet, and dark erotic BDSM romances. While she firmly believes in happy endings, she also believes in making her characters suffer before finding their true love. She also writes m/f romances as Gabbi Black.

 

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