Sunday, February 28, 2021

Blogtour: Heart and Haven series by Heloise West



Hitting Black Ice
Heart and Haven Book 1
by Heloise West
Genre: M/M Contemporary Romantic Suspense



Shawn is on the run from the law and love, to protect himself and anyone else involved. Until he meets Hunter, and he no longer wants to run.

ER physician’s assistant Hunter guards his heart carefully, but that doesn’t stop him from falling for the temp front desk clerk. He keeps his distance from relationships for a good reason but just can’t help himself when it comes to Shawn.

Forced into a hostage situation, buried passions explode in the aftermath, and sex in the supply closet brings both their hearts back to life. But as they explore their relationship, the past catches up with Shawn.

FBI agent Nick Truman has finally found his man, and when Shawn escapes, he focuses his attention on Hunter. Will Shawn sacrifice himself to save Hunter from the man who framed him for murder?


Excerpt:

Chapter One


Hunter had a crush, a big one.

In the cafeteria late one night on his break at the hospital, he sipped at a coffee and focused on Shawn, the night desk clerk for the ER, sitting a few tables over. With long black hair tied back neatly and eyes of faded denim blue, Shawn had a lean body, his face long and bony. Tonight, he wore a brown turtleneck under a white-and-green-striped button-down. The rolled sleeves revealed muscled forearms dusted with golden hair, as mismatched to the dyed black hair as his pale eyebrows and lashes. A silver skull ring and silver studs in his ears appeared at odds with the lanyard and dangling ID card.

Hunter drank more coffee, barely tasting it. He’d tried to talk himself out of it, but he couldn’t squirm away from the attraction. When he’d walked past the registration desk to the water cooler—again—or hung out there a moment too long with an empty clipboard in his hands, he caught those tiny flicks of interest in Shawn’s eyes. Hunter must have given away his interest because the nurses smirked at his pretended obliviousness.

He bent to the not-very-engrossing crossword in the newspaper, imagining what tattoo might lie beneath Shawn’s cool demeanor. Maybe gargoyle wings across a broad and muscled back, or a snake wrapped around his thigh. Something more esoteric—a phrase in Latin, like Hunter’s own primum non nocere, or a bit of wisdom in Chinese characters. Or an old-school Aerosmith tat? Hunter glanced up from filling in the little squares with black ink blocks. He could have sworn Shawn hurriedly dropped his attention down to the paperback in his hands. He turned the page and shot a second glance at Hunter. Gazes locked and jumped away.

Shit!

Heat rushed through Hunter all at once and climbed up to his face. Too aware of the black-haired man with biceps to die for and long legs to—well, never mind. Taking a boner back to the ER was not a good idea.

He had touched those biceps once when he gave Shawn a flu shot back in the fall. Shawn had taken the needle without a flinch.

Shawn stood with his tray in hand and walked toward the trash container behind Hunter. The back of his neck prickled as if Shawn breathed on the little hairs there. Hunter picked up his coffee cup once more but tasted only the dregs.

Good thing he’d decided to become a physician’s assistant and not an actor. He didn’t talk to Shawn unless he had to, the worst giveaway of all. No shy bones in his body, yet he feared conversation led to more conversation, to flirting, and the next thing he knew, they’d be going on a date, Hunter falling head over heels, and then the asshole—

Stop. You know how the story ends.

Behind him, Shawn cleared his throat. Hunter didn’t turn around. Shawn returned to his seat, picked up the paperback, and slumped down into the chair with a scowl.

Marisa slipped into the seat across the table from Hunter, and he smiled.

“I’m onto you,” she whispered.

“Uh-huh.” Hunter moved his body slightly so he could still see Shawn around her.

“You’ve been taking late lunch for three weeks now. I know why—or who.” She smiled, a small Hispanic woman with curly chestnut hair framing her heart-shaped face and hazel eyes. If Hunter weren’t himself, and she weren’t married, he thought he’d be with her. Her lips always gleamed with gloss, and her eyes snapped with fire when she got pissy. He loved it, most days, even when she aimed for him.

She leaned toward him. “Shawn, right?” Her eyes took on a warning snap now and dared him to contradict her.

“I don’t even know if he’s gay.” Which wasn’t true, but he knew better than to deny it to her face.

She sipped at her coffee with her gaze on him. Her mouth left lipstick smiles on the rim of the cup. “There’s something different about this one. And he’s lovely to look at.”

“Lovely.” Hunter snorted. Dead sexy Shawn. Hunter spied him out at the clubs twice now but avoided him there too. Shawn undulated like liquid fire across the dance floor.

“Talk to him, honey.”

“Please. Don’t.” He must have spoken louder than he meant to. Shawn glanced at them and away again.

“You’re letting Jerry’s death run your life.”

Hunter slapped the magazine down. “I’m too sober for this conversation.”

“It’s like he’s locked your heart away.”

Mindful of the potential audience, he lowered his voice. “You’re jumping way ahead here.”

She shook her head. “I know you. You have so much love to give, and I hate to see you suffer.”

Her probing questions about Hunter’s past, family, present situation were all familiar ground. Friendship he could manage; he recognized it when it was offered to him. He’d been out since he was nine. Always been out was what he told people. She was one of the few friends to whom he could confide nearly everything. Jerry’s addictions had killed him, but his family and friends blamed Hunter, and on a deeper emotional level, he blamed himself too. Marisa knew this, and it worried her. She wanted him to find love and move on, be part of a couple. She knew, but she didn’t understand.

He wasn’t abstinent now, not at twenty-five, and never got involved with anyone beyond one- and two-night stands. Hunter didn’t want to take responsibility for another heart.

When the tide of emotion and memory washed through him and left him able to speak again, he said, “I’m not suffering here.” He kept much of the darkness at bay with whiskey and anonymous sex. Who needed Prozac with a warm, muscled body in the bed?

“Stagnating,” Marisa said.

“Maintaining.” It had been a far prettier day in May, eight months ago now, when he walked out of the ER at Boston General to Jerry waiting for him in the parking lot with a gun.

“Ask him out on a date. An old-fashioned date where, at the end of the night, you kiss him good night.”

“No!”

“Don’t get angry.” She patted his hand.

He whipped it away. “Too late.”

Marisa sighed. “I’ll make it up to you. Toni, Anna, and I are going to Twisters tonight. I’ll buy you a drink.”

Hunter gathered up his tray. He liked the ER crowd. They always had fun when they got together in off-work hours, and he agreed to meet her at Twisters before hitting the clubs.

When his shift was over early in the morning, he drove back to his apartment and crawled into bed as the day glowed behind the blackout curtains. The end of the week had left him exhausted, and his sleep was blessedly dreamless.


* * * * *


In Twisters, dark-wood-and-burgundy-leather seats and bumpers, cushioned stools, and low light filtering through stained glass made the place comfortable. Three bartenders were already hustling, their tip jars filling. By the time Hunter greeted the women, one of the bartenders had poured his Maker’s Mark over ice and set it in place. A second drink joined the first soon after. His friends had already had a few rounds themselves. He made a note to keep an eye on Marisa, a lightweight when it came to alcohol consumption.

A nice bar to start the weekend, and he reveled in the fact he had two more weekends off before he had to take the next weekend rotation at the hospital. He sipped and scanned the crowd.

Pretty, brittle, blonde Toni broke into Hunter’s reverie. “Why aren’t you straight, damn it?”

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Bookblast: Ordinary Whore by Dieter Moitzi

Book Title: Ordinary Whore

Author: Dieter Moitzi

Publisher: Self-published

Cover Artist: Dieter Moitzi

Genre/s: Mystery, Romance

Trope/s: Family secrets, escort, healing, rebirth, finding a soulmate

Themes: High society, escort, finding oneself, false perceptions, finding the sense of life, resilience

Heat Rating:  0 - 1 flame       

Length: 87 222 words / 328 pages

It is a standalone book.

Add on Goodreads

 

Buy Links

Universal Link  |  Amazon US  |   Amazon UK  |   Kobo  

A story of loneliness, loss, treacherous perception, family secrets, and… rebirth.


People tell me I should count my blessings. “You’re handsome, Marc,” they say, “handsome, rich, young, and intelligent.” But then, given time and opportunity, people would always say inanities, I think.

Am I handsome? Honestly, I don’t know, but it seems so; handsome enough, at any rate, that I’m allowed to live comfortably off my looks. I’m not rich, mind you, but the men and women paying for my company fling enough crumbs of their wealth my way. I’m still fairly young, too, but since when is youth anyone’s personal achievement? Last but not least, I’m not sure about my intelligence. I’m not even sure being intelligent would be a blessing.

Anyway, I can’t complain—my life is not unpleasant. I’m a bit bored, a bit melancholic, my mood often as black as the clothes I wear all the time.

And now my father has died. It shouldn’t mean anything to me—for years we tried to have as few ties or dealings with each other as possible. But all of a sudden, everything comes crumbling down, and my life turns into an unwholesome mess…


Excerpt


—107—

He is just that guy. In his sixties, balding, short and slender; some would even say gaunt. His skin is white and papery. Thin lips, thin features, a jaded attitude. His eyes are… wait a second… grey? Yes, grey, I think, the shade of light-coloured steel, and his gaze is cold but not too cold. He is no man of extremes; a nondescript guy in fact who looks like an accountant or a small-town solicitor.

Someone of little interest or concern for me, more present in the media than in my thoughts.

And yet, by one of those strange, sly whims that destiny seems to love, that guy is my father.

Or rather, that guy was my father. Because he is dead now.




—106—

My older sister is the one who spills the beans. It’s half past nine in the evening. I’m sitting on my white sofa, turning the pages of a fashion magazine, my gaze empty like the faces of the models who are striking poses on the glossy pages before me. Gentle boredom seeps in through the half-open windows, glides over the walls, oozes from every piece of furniture, glistens on the glass or metal surfaces, forming a motionless, invisible, indolent space-time that surrounds me like a halo.

I’ve switched the television on but turned the volume down to a subdued whisper. The soft sounds of a TV game blend with the persistent hum of the traffic downstairs. From time to time, I lift my eyes from the magazine to look at the game host’s white-toothed smile, which seems as genuine as a handbag purchased from a street vendor in Italy. I don’t really follow the show; it is just a means to drown the mortal silence of my apartment. My other choices would have been to listen to the unutterable sadness of a Mahler symphony, or bear the silent cries of my immaculate walls.

That’s when the phone rings.

I pick it up and recognise RaphaĆ«lle, my older sister. Apart from sounding breathless, she is the same as usual. Her vocabulary remains precise, her weary and cold inflections suggesting that we are not on earth to have fun but for other purposes, none of which very pleasant. That’s her in a nutshell: unfazed, unaffected, wintry. Imagine an emotionless automaton. Well, I’m speaking of so-called positive emotions, of course. She knows how to be curt and authoritarian. She knows how to throw an angry fit if needs be.

“Hi Marc. It’s RaphaĆ«lle,” she says. Then, without further ado, she tells me the news. She is staying with our mother, because the old man died.

“Did he? When? And how?” I enquire.

“Let me think… Two days ago. Or was it three? I don’t know. You want me to ask Mother?”

Release Blitz: Cinderellis by Evie Drae

Cinderellis

by Evie Drae
(Once Upon a Vegas Night #2)
Publication date: February 25th 2021
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, LGBTQ+, Retelling, Romance


As the son of music industry royalty and a famous rock star in his own right, Henry “Cinder” Cinderford has spent his life on the road. Craving stability, he signs on to do a special limited engagement in Las Vegas and plans to spend the next six months discovering the meaning of home.

After losing his mom at a young age, Ellis Tremaine survived a childhood with an abusive stepfather who took out his anger on the son he never wanted. Nearly two decades later, Ellis continues to struggle against the emotional manipulations of his family, even in his career. But when he meets none other than the Prince of Pop himself, things start to change.

From attraction to friendship to something so much more, Ellis and Cinder become the celebrity ‘ship known as “Cinderellis.” But when reality threatens their storybook romance, all they can do is hope there really is a happily ever after for every once upon a time.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

Ellis leaned his elbows on the handrail of the narrow metal catwalk overlooking the frontstage area and closed his eyes, allowing the music below to encompass him from all sides. Surrounding his senses. Filling his soul.

About three-quarters of the way through Cinder’s set, there was a song that dripped with passion and heart, making exquisite use of his stunning vibrato. It had become a favorite of Ellis’s almost from the get-go, most especially because its simplicity allowed him a moment to breathe, to open himself, and to fall heart-first into the music.

The constantly moving parts of the high-concept production ground to a halt during those three minutes and forty-two seconds. The fly space he occupied went still and quiet as a single bloodred spotlight focused on center stage, highlighting a lone wooden stool and a microphone stand. Following his third wardrobe change of the night, clad in skintight black jeans and a white ribbed tank, Cinder stepped onto the stage clutching the neck of an acoustic guitar. As if on cue, the audience swooned into the orchestrated mood change.

They all knew what came next, and with a soft, collective gasp, the whole theater held its breath. Then, like the beat of a heart, as Cinder rested a hip on the stool, adjusted the strap of his guitar, and drew the microphone close, the crowd exhaled as one.

With the first note of the now familiar song, Ellis’s chest tightened. Music had always held an important place in his life, affecting him in ways he couldn’t explain. But nothing in his twenty-six years on this earth had ever latched on to his very being the way Cinder could with his haunting tenor as it trembled up an octave before plunging in both register and depth. Straight into his heart.

Friday, February 26, 2021

ARC Review: Forever Your Duke by Erica Ridley


From the blurb:


This year, the Duke of Nottingvale's Christmastide house party doubles as a bride hunt. The handsome duke seeks a blue-blooded debutante as respectable as he is, and his parlor is brimming with paragons of propriety.

Inveterate spinster and unapologetic hoyden Miss Cynthia Louise Finch does not fit the mold. Any mold. Her younger cousin is perfect for the duke! By matchmaking the two, Cynthia will save her favorite cousin from a horrific fate. The only problem? Cynthia has always held a tendre for the duke. And for the first time, she seems to have caught his attention...

The Duke of Nottingvale knows his responsibilities: Duty and decorum above all else. A respectable lord would never sneak away for stolen moments with a fearless, audacious minx he cannot make his duchess. He definitely wouldn't kiss her. Or fall in love…

Heather's rating:

 

 

Another enjoyable, if a bit far-fetched, romance in the 12 Dukes of Christmas series by Erica Ridley, Forever Your Duke was a positively pleasant read.

I always read Erica Ridley, and she rarely disappoints. Sure, it's rare for her books to really wow me, but they always make me smile.

Forever Your Duke was a bit of an opposites-attract romance with a 30-year old dare-devil spinster matched with a buttoned-up duke. I liked their dynamic, even though the relationship development was too speedy for my liking (a consistent issue with this author's books). I thought it was a bit of a stretch that he would ignore his mother and all that he's proclaimed to stand for in a just a few days time of being with Cynthia Louise, but I still thought it was very sweet.
 
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