Saturday, September 21, 2019

Release Blitz: Flash Rip by Keira Andrews

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Length: 290 pages

Cover Design: Wicked Smart Design

The most dangerous current is between them.

Training to be a lifeguard at an Australian beach is tough work, but Cody Grant loves a challenge. He spends long days in the sun and surf rescuing swimmers from treacherous rip currents while trying not to lust after senior lifeguard Liam Fox—who is deeply, painfully closeted. 

Liam was supposed to be a football legend. Now in his mid-thirties, it’s been over a decade since his dream shattered along with his knee. Fans still recognize him regularly, and he's terrified his sexuality will be discovered and his conservative parents will reject him. He has strict rules to protect his secret and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Liam never acts on his need to surrender after being shamed for it years ago by the first and only man he trusted. 

Out and proud Cody fascinates Liam—and tempts him to break all the rules.

Cody is practically half Liam's size and age, but has the confidence and compassion to take charge and give Liam the release, affection, and acceptance he desperately craves. But how long can a secret affair satisfy their hearts? As if saving lives isn’t hard enough, Cody faces his greatest challenge yet convincing Liam to trust him and find the courage to live out loud.

Flash Rip is an M/M gay romance from Keira Andrews featuring a slow burn, an age gap, scorching first times, and of course a happy ending. 

Author Bio

Release Blitz: Of Autumn Leaves and New Beginnings by Nell Iris

Length: 17,809 words

Publisher: JMS Books

Sometimes love finds you even when you’re not looking for it.

At 47, Oren Walker isn’t looking for love. When he knocks on Pete Higgins’ door, all he wants is to thank him for helping his mom after she broke her femur. He never expected that one look at the man would make his knees weak and heart flutter.

Pete is happy—albeit a bit lonely—after divorcing his wife of 20 years and isn’t looking to replace her. But when Oren shows up, all grateful and handsome and in that fancy suit, the longing for the deep connection of a relationship flares up inside him.

As the leaves turn yellow, Oren and Pete spend a lot of time in honest conversations. Their attraction grows. Will the two men recognize the promise of new beginnings, and take the chance to find the happiness they both deserve?


It's been nearly three weeks since Mom's accident -- and the leaves are more yellow than green but the heat still refuses to let go -- when my phone rings just as I'm on my way back to my office after a long, infuriating meeting. I don't recognize the number but accept the call. "Oren Walker."

"Oren. Hi. It's Pete. Pete Higgins. Your mom's next-door neighbor."

"Oh, hey!" I would be lying if I said I haven't thought about him these last few weeks. In the shower, before bed, while having my morning coffee. He's hot enough to set fire to my pants, but that's only part of the appeal. Mom hasn't stopped talking about him since her accident; about how gentle he was when he helped her. How considerate and thoughtful and nice he was when she was hurt and scared, and in the days that have followed.

Of course, I noticed all his good sides myself, those few minutes we spent together, and he hasn't been far from my thoughts whenever I've had a free moment.

"I'm sorry to disturb you at work," Pete says.

"No problem. I just got out of a meeting with some very upset people and could use a friendly voice right now." I close my office door behind me and throw myself onto my chair. "What can I do for you, Pete?"

"Nothing urgent. I just needed to tell you something."

"Shoot." I lean back and close my eyes, rubbing my temples with my thumb and index finger, trying to fend off the threatening headache.

"I just wanted to let you know that I interfered with your mom earlier. She was on her way to the grocery store. On foot, with her crutches, and I managed to catch her when she hobbled past my house."

I groan. "Oh my God, her stubbornness is unprecedented."

"Yeah, I hear you, man. I had to sweet talk her forever before I managed to convince her to go back home. The thing that persuaded her was when I lied and told her I was on my way to the store myself so I could pick up whatever it was she needed."

"I don't understand. I bought everything on her list the day before yesterday."

"Nuh-uh. You forgot the chocolate chips. She couldn't bake cookies for the church bake sale on Sunday. It was a class one disaster and I'm surprised she didn't call 911."

Friday, September 20, 2019

Review Tour: Puzzle Me This by Eli Easton

Exclusive to Amazon and Available to Borrow with Kindle Unlimited

Cover Design: Reese Dante

Luke Schumaker designs computer games, working from his home. Every day he walks his dog in the woods nearby, never suspecting that someone who is completely smitten is watching.
The watcher is Alex Shaw, and he too works from home, designing logic and crossword puzzles. Alex’s options are limited: he’s too shy to approach Luke and his wheelchair won’t let him follow into the woods. His solution? Secret messages for Luke in the crosswords he writes for the local paper.

When Luke decodes them, romance begins, but then they face greater puzzles, like Alex’s interfering sister and what commitment to a man in a wheelchair really takes. And, most puzzling of all, how do you know if love is real?

Heather's review:

I could tell right away that Puzzle Me This was a re-release of an older work by Eli Easton. Eli Easton is one of my favorite authors and she has written some amazing stories, and though Puzzle Me This was sweet, it wasn't quite up to the caliber of her later work. 

I'll always read a romance with a more atypical MC, and the fact that one of the MCs is in a wheelchair certainly caught my attention. I liked how there were a number of emotional and logistical things that were addressed about the MC being in a wheelchair, though I prefer how the author really explored it further in "The Mating of Michael," a personal favorite of mine. 

Blogtour: One Queen of an Ending by Zachary Ryan

One Queen of an Ending 

Zachary Ryan 

(The High School Queens Trilogy, #3)

Published by: Kingston Publishing Company

Publication date: August 26th 2019

Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult


It’s time to say goodbye to our Johnson Prep favorites before they all head off to college.
After the gossip-worthy events of graduation and the shocking death of one of their classmates, it seems The Queen of Queens wants to give Danielle, Bethany, Calvin, Tucker, and Aman one last hurrah. 
Will everything have a happy ending, or will one of our favorites end up 6 feet under? How will the war end with the salacious arrival of returning students, Andrew and Jasmine? They all had one lesson left to learn: Just because high school is over, doesn’t mean the high school drama ends. They’re all about to take their curtain call, but will it end as a comedy or a tragedy? 
Discover this sultry and thrilling end to the High School Queens Series.

Author's Top 10 Vacation Destinations:
  • New York City
  • LA
  • Maine
  • Seattle
  • Paris
  • Toronto
  • Barcelona
  • Australia
  • New Zealand
  • London

Author Bio:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Author Of The Month - Darien Cox - Week Three

Welcome to our 3rd week of celebrations for the amazing

In this week's post we'll look at The Village series, plus a personal story Darien has chosen to share. There's also another chance to win.

First up, Safe In Your Fire


When asked to locate and interview an off-the-grid former child star for a magazine feature, novice journalist Rudy Sansone thinks he’s getting yet another demeaning assignment from his boss. But finding ‘Baby James’ Waterman proves to be a personal and professional challenge, as the elusive, hostile, and surprisingly sexy James is nothing that Rudy expected.

But Rudy’s scrappy motivation to get the story at all costs plunges him into the mountain community of Singing Bear Village, where he senses strange and frightening secrets simmering beneath the surface. 
But what’s simmering between Rudy and his reluctant interview subject is something more carnal and heated, and his desire to be consumed by it clouds his judgement when warning bells urge him to flee the village and never look back.


Before his footfalls could announce his approach, Rudy paused. He studied the figure of the man tending the fire, noting now that he also held a cigar. The man took a puff, smoke spiraling wildly away from him as the wind grabbed it. 
He was tall, as James Waterman had appeared in his photographs. But unlike the teen in the pictures, this man had a thick, solid torso and broad shoulders. A tangle of long, wavy blond hair fell to his collar, rustling in the breeze. He wore no jacket, just jeans and a black, long-sleeved tee shirt that hugged a muscled back. The jeans were faded and baggy, but Rudy could still see powerful thighs and an ass that filled out the pockets. Sand-dusted brown hiking boots completed the ensemble. 
God I love a man with a little meat on him
A random, inappropriate thought to have under the circumstances. Rudy shook himself out of the sex zone, recalling his focus and reason for being here.
Was this James? This windswept vision on the beach? He was tall. He was blond. It had been ten years since that last photo was taken, but…
Just go talk to him for fuck sakes, find out for yourself.    
Rudy started toward the fire, shoes crunching on grainy sand. The blond man turned toward him, casually at first, like he expected it to be someone he knew. When he spotted Rudy, he froze, gripping the branch he’d been using to tend the fire, cigar in his other hand. 
“Hi,” Rudy said. “Are you JT?”
Rudy stopped walking when he got no answer, pinned under the man’s frozen stare. The scruff along his jaw was darker than his hair, cheeks slightly wind-burned. 
But the eyes were the key. Where they’d appeared dark in the pictures Rudy had, he could see, even with the distance between them, that they were actually blue. But it made no difference, aside from lending them luminosity. The shape was still the same. And Rudy knew without a doubt that he was looking at James Thomas Waterman. Older, more filled out, the bones in his face thicker—but the eyes didn’t lie. And though Rudy could clearly see it was the same person, pictures simply did not do this man justice. He was absolutely mesmerizing, beautiful and earthy, masculine and magical in the firelight.  
But then the mystical sex-creature spoke, and it was like a brick upside the head, the dreamy spell shattering.  
“You’re trespassing, asshole. Fuck off, you slimy piece of media shit, or I’ll have you arrested.” Turning toward the fire, he tossed his cigar into the flames. “Unless you prefer a mandibular fracture by way of my fist. Get off my property.”  
Somewhere, Rudy imagined, a unicorn was dying.

Get the book:

Book 2, Deep In Your Shadows 


It’s been three months since the team were instructed to stay off the mountain, and Christian is going a little stir crazy. Until one rainy afternoon an object crashes into the water in Singing Bear Village, creating temporary chaos and confusion in the peaceful lakeside community. Given past events, Christian and his crew call Ogden, and their boss brings a specialized team to take over the situation, shutting out local law enforcement.

But Sheriff Myles Murphy doesn’t like being shut out, and is furious to have his authority superseded. Christian assures his boss that he can handle the local sheriff and assuage his suspicions, but it won’t be so easy. 
Because while Christian has harbored a secret crush on the man for two years, Sheriff Myles Murphy despises him.

Get the book:

Book 3, Trapped In Your Storm


Autumn has local DJ and disinformation agent Elliot Nicholson feeling renewed. He’s moved past the depression and anxiety that plagued him over the summer, and lately his job has been blessedly free of crisis. But for Elliot and his colleagues, nothing remains peaceful for long in Singing Bear Village. Baz, their outlandish ambassador, may be missing.  
Strange anomalies in the forest suggest something’s amiss with their neighbors under the mountain. And an online conspiracy theorist claims to know all the team’s secrets, and is threatening exposure. Thankfully, Elliot has Nolan, his loyal friend and teammate who’s always kept him grounded. 
But one night an innocent lark goes too far, and Elliot is knocked off-balance when Nolan starts looking at him in a different way.

Get the book:

And book 4, Caught In Your Wake 


When forest ranger Tim Patterson learned the frightening truth about his home town, it rocked his world. He’s always prided himself on being brave and strong, but it took some time to adjust to this new reality. With the help of his best friend Sheriff Myles Murphy, Tim has found his way back to his old self, though he’s still angry at the core team in Singing Bear Village for keeping him in the dark. Now he has to swallow his pride and ask for their help, because there are things going on in the forest lately he can’t explain.
What he doesn’t expect is that help to include the return of Tyler, who’s been gone from the village for ages. Tyler, the spooky, sexy young soldier who was there for Tim on a night he wasn’t brave or strong. A night he’d love to forget but can’t seem to get out of his mind.


“Why were you recruited?”
Tyler stared at him, silent.
“Does your black ops stare translate to ‘Shut up now, Tim’ or something like that?”
“Yeah. Something like that.”
“I see. Just give me a hint. Myles said Christian got recruited after he broke into the Pentagon. You do something like that?”
“No.” Tyler smiled. “I wasn’t recruited because I had a crazy-smart brain like JT or because I was a talented child-thief like Christian or anything like that. I’m here because I survived something when all odds were against me surviving. Ogden decided I was brave and that he could use me. And that really is the last I’m going to say about it.”
“Okay, got it.” Tim moved to the sofa, sitting down beside Tyler. “But again, thank you for prepping me today. You didn’t have to.”
Tyler eyed Tim shyly, clearly not expecting him to suddenly be there, sidled up right next to him. He didn’t look disappointed, but perhaps a bit flustered, which pleased Tim. It wasn’t easy to catch Tyler in a moment of discomposure. “I just want this all to go smoothly,” Tyler said. His lashes dipped as he cast his gaze to the floor. “If you’re in a good state of mind, helps everyone.”
“I see. So it’s all just work-related.”
“What else would it be?”

Wednesday, September 18, 2019

ARC Review: Flash Rip by Keira Andrews

The most dangerous current is between them.

Training to be a lifeguard at an Australian beach is tough work, but Cody Grant loves a challenge. He spends long days in the sun and surf rescuing swimmers from treacherous rip currents while trying not to lust after senior lifeguard Liam Fox—who is deeply, painfully closeted.

Liam was supposed to be a football legend. Now in his mid-thirties, it’s been over a decade since his dream shattered along with his knee. Fans still recognize him regularly, and he's terrified his sexuality will be discovered and his conservative parents will reject him. He has strict rules to protect his secret and keeps everyone at arm’s length. Liam never acts on his need to surrender after being shamed for it years ago by the first and only man he trusted.

Out and proud Cody fascinates Liam—and tempts him to break all the rules.

Cody is practically half Liam's size and age, but has the confidence and compassion to take charge and give Liam the release, affection, and acceptance he desperately craves. But how long can a secret affair satisfy their hearts? As if saving lives isn’t hard enough, Cody faces his greatest challenge yet convincing Liam to trust him and find the courage to live out loud.

Flash Rip is an M/M gay romance from Keira Andrews featuring a slow burn, an age gap, scorching first times, and of course a happy ending.

Dani's rating:

It took me a few chapters to really get into the rhythm of this story. There's a lot of Aussie surfing talk that went over my head at first, but it didn't take me long to become fully engrossed in Australian lifeguard culture in general and the story of Cody and Liam specifically.

Liam is a former AFL footie start and a veteran lifeguard. Cody is a new trainee, just learning the ropes.

Liam's parents are bigots. His dad throws around homophobic slur like candy and has a shrine dedicated to Liam's former athletic glory. Liam is so terrified of being outed, he dares to hook up only overseas. Never mind that a former hookup left him ashamed of his more submissive desires.

Cody comes from a family of academics, but all he's ever wanted to do was be in the surf and sun. He takes his new lifeguard role seriously and is a quick learner. Cody is smitten with Liam almost instantly, but doesn't dare dream that Liam could return his feelings.

ARC Review: Ride the Whirlwind (Love Across Time 4) by Jackie North

Soulmates across time. Two hearts, stronger together.

In present day, Maxton is good at finding trouble and bad at everything else.

In 1892, Trent Harrington, sheriff of Trinidad, Colorado, lives a respectable but lonely life, devoid of any closeness.

Trying to escape a past that keeps chasing him, Maxton drives south to avoid getting arrested. When his car spins off the road, he is swept up in a desert whirlwind and finds himself in the year 1892. Lost and alone, unused to the laws of the wild west, Maxton gets arrested anyway.

Trent is tasked with escorting Maxton to Trinidad. The request isn't unusual, but the miscreant is. Maxton draws Trent's heart out of its shell with his flashing green eyes and lush head of hair. It isn't right. It isn't natural. It's illegal. Yet Trent cannot resist the impetuous young man.

As the two men travel through the vast, empty desert to their destination, will they find in each other the love and companionship they never thought they'd have?

Dani's rating:

Ride the Whirlwind is the third Love Across Time book set in 1892 New Mexico. I strongly suggest reading at least the second book (Laurie and John's story) in the series prior to reading this one. (The first book is a standalone.)

Maxton is Laurie's roommate and receives two letters Laurie sent in 1892. Once Laurie's friend Zach disappears (Zach and Layton's story, book 3), Maxton becomes a person of interest in the ongoing police investigation. A former foster kid, Maxton is no stranger to being in trouble with the law. He's got the police hounding him on one side and the gang he's working for on the other.

For Maxton, 1892 signifies a new beginning.

Unfortunately, the day Maxton sets foot in 1892 New Mexico, he's arrested. Trent is sent to pick him up and transport him to Laurie. Trent has no idea about Maxton's relationship with Laurie, but he hopes that maybe Maxton is like him, like (he suspects) the men at the hotel, and desires other men.

Trent is the calm and steady presence to Maxton's chaotic storm. Maxton is just waiting for someone to hurt him, but Trent surprises him time and again as the men travel along the Rio Grande to reach Laurie and John's hotel.

Blogtour: The Evolution Of Love by Philip William Stover

Please welcome Philip William Stover with 

The Evolution Of Love 

a World Of Love story

When a charming but misguided account manager gets stuck on a cruise to the Galapagos Islands with his hunky zoologist ex, he might rediscover his true passion—in and out of the bedroom.

After art school, Mike Davis gave up on his dream in favor of a stable job. But when he gets an opportunity to teach wealthy travelers how to paint stunning sunsets, it seems like the perfect break. Until he finds out he’ll be sharing a suite with his ex, charismatic Benton Aldridge—a British scientist cuter than the baby animals he studies. Mike makes it clear he has no intention of getting back together with Benton, but sharing a suite makes it almost impossible keep his distance.

As they climb over volcanic peaks and swim with manatees through sparkling jade-colored water, can they also heal past wounds and take the next step in the evolution of love?

Get the book:

I’m a great flyer. I love being up in the sky and having all that free time to read or nap or watch movies I would never watch at home. My husband, not so much. He loves to travel but he hates everything to do with flying and especially being thirty-thousand feet in the sky. I was thinking of him when I wrote this excerpt from “The Evolution of Love” although he would never take anything stronger and an Advil.

A quick travel tip: take a picture of your luggage just as you are about to check it. If anything happens to your bag, you’ll have a picture of it right there on your phone.

I’m thrilled to be a part of the Worlds of Love collection because these books are so much like the romances I read growing up. I learned about the world through series romance that spanned the globe. I never thought I would eventually travel around the world with my husband and write stories based on the places we have seen.

Chapter 3
I’m not a good flier. People say it’s a control issue. I don’t think so. I think it’s a dropping-thirty-thousand-feet-out-of-the-sky issue. Penny, who left a day earlier, managed to upgrade my ticket to business class, but I still have to transfer in Miami. I board the plane with my Kindle loaded with every book, magazine, television show, movie, and game I could every possibly want, a neck pillow recommended by an orthopedist friend, noise-cancelling earphones that cost almost as much as a used car, an eye mask infused with lavender, and my most valuable possession at the moment, a fresh bottle of the most adorable little blue sleeping pills.
I’m not a big drug user. In fact, I hate taking anything stronger than Tylenol, and even that I usually take in children’s liquid, but desperate times, etcetera. It’s an almost ten-hour flight to Quito from start to finish, with a change in Miami. We don’t land until after midnight, and the only way I can get through it is with a little help from Auntie Ambien. I’ll take one on the flight over and one on the flight back. No big deal. Some people report memory loss or strange sleepwalking behaviors, but that has never happened to me. I just sleep like a little baby wrapped in a warm blanket.
I settle into my comfortable leather seat, and a pert flight attendant offers me a glass of champagne to welcome me aboard. I’m not sure I’m supposed to mix alcohol with these pills, but I smile to thank her and say, “Don’t mind if I….”

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Blogtour: Hope by Grace Duncan

Please welcome Grace Duncan with 


a Forbes Mates story

Thanks so much to Sandra for giving me space today! I really appreciate it! Be sure to enter the giveaway below!

In June of 2016, the human world and the wolf world found themselves equally rocked. Many of the wolves didn’t know it yet--wouldn’t for another year or so. Instead, they went about their lives as most do, working, playing on the full moon, spending time with their families.

Then, about a year later, a pair of destined mates found themselves without a home--not entirely because of their parents. The parents for one wanted nothing to do with him. But the other, his mother was worried about the treatment they’d get from the one person they should have been able to count on above all others--their alpha.

The boys struggle to find a home, eventually making their way to the wolf headquarters just outside of Denver, Colorado. Alpha Prime Noah Pearce isn’t too happy with the treatment the boys have gotten and calls a meeting of all the alphas nationwide.

And now they do know what happened in June of 2016. They learn about how a pair of their own wolves--destined mates--were among those killed in the Pulse Shooting. Wolves don’t need guns. They had no reason to want them; they have claws and the ability to fight that’s much deadlier than even a single bullet--at lease for a single target and who wants to do more than that? Certainly not the wolves. Sure, there are a few that carry them for a reason--like Chad and Jamie who work often in the human world. But it’s rare and it simply wouldn’t occur to them to want or need an assault rifle capable of taking out a large number of people at one time.

They’re far from innocent about violence. Most know quite well what happens every day in the streets. But a lot of them celebrate the fact that they don’t have to end up in those situations. They heal from bullet wounds. They don’t even go to hospitals in the first place. So, there’s a separation for them from these realities. When it was so bad, even the wolves were killed? Maybe arguing over who someone’s mate is is a much smaller issue than they thought.


About the book:
Hope, part of the Forbes Mates series

Length: 13,000 words

Genre: m/m paranormal shifters

Cover art by Jess Small
Miguel Garcia and Luis Rodriguez have been best friends all their lives. For the last year, they’ve been hiding the fact that they’re also destined mates. When Luis’s family finds out, they kick him out. Miguel’s family would keep them… except their alpha has been known to be downright violent against gay wolves.

With the help of Miguel’s mother, they set out to find a pack that will accept them. They run into more that a few obstacles before they end up in Denver, at the national wolf headquarters, meeting the alpha prime. They’re stunned to find, not only offers to join more than one pack, but that their struggle can shine light on a bigger problem–and make things better for LGBT wolves across the country.

  Hope is available on September 6, 2019 exclusively at Amazon and on Kindle Unlimited.

About the author:

Blogtour: The First Step by Shira Anthony

Please welcome Shira Anthony with 

The First Step

Coastal Carolina #1 

Thank you Sandra and My Fiction Nook for hosting the release day blog stop for The First Step, the first book in my new Coastal Carolina series from Dreamspinner Press! Please be sure to read to the bottom for an exclusive excerpt from the book. 
While series books take place in coast North and South Carolina, this first book takes place in one of my favorite coastal cities: Wilmington, North Carolina. All of the books feature men you might find working at the coast, and it’s safe to say that the Atlantic Ocean is a bit like a main character. The First Step features an ocean pilot—Justin Vance—one of the men and women who jump from a small pilot boat onto a huge cargo ship in the middle of the ocean, then navigate those vessels in and out of ports all over the world. It’s a dangerous job, and one that requires a lot of training and a long apprenticeship.
Some of you may know that I’ll be quitting my day job in December to sail full-time aboard our amazing catamaran sailboat, Prelude. I get a lot of questions about boating and what life aboard a boat is like and much of that is similar to life aboard a cargo ship like the ones Justin Vance pilots into harbor, so I figured I share some tidbits about boating. Today, I’d like to talk about one of my least favorite parts of boating: docking and undocking.
You know that feeling of control you have when you put your foot on the brake of your car or truck to slow down or stop? Brakes don’t exist on boats. You can use your engines in reverse to slow the boat down, but for control freaks like me, “stopping” means lots of chewed fingernails when we pull into a new marina or when there’s heavy traffic on a river or near a port.
Aboard Prelude, my husband is the captain (in fact, he holds a professional captains license) and I’m the deckhand. That means it’s my job to get the boat ready to dock. I’m the one who hangs the fenders (a plastic tube inflated with air to keep your boat away from the wooden dock or another boat) and set the ropes. Ropes are the closest thing you get to a brake on a boat. You tie them onto metal pieces called “cleats” and how you tie them depends on whether there’s someone on the docks to catch the rope, or if you have to “catch” another cleat on the docks yourself. 
Catching a cleat sounds simple, but it’s actually pretty hard. In fact, I’ve nearly fallen into the water a few times while trying to catch a cleat. Catching a cleat on the docks means creating what looks like a lasso (loop) on a rope attached to your boat, then using a telescoping pole to loop the cleat and pull the rope tight (“cleat the rope off”). And all of this needs to be done so your boat doesn’t slam into the docks. Of course that’s never happened to us (*coughs*). I’ve gotten used to not worrying about the scrapes and dents on the sides of our boat. They’re a fact of life. To be fair, my husband is really really good at the wheel and does an amazing job using the two inboard (built-in) engines to keep the boat steadying while I’m trying not to pirouette head-first into the water. Did I mention that we back into the slip almost all the time? Yeah.
Undocking is a lot easier, unless you’re wedged into a slip (boat parking space), there’s another boat only a few feet in front of you. We had one slip we used for about a year where we have to make 4-5 maneuvers to undock. Think of a really tight parking spot with only an inch or two on either side and you’ll get the picture.
We’re getting better as a team, my husband and I. Prelude is our 4th sailboat. But she’s also the largest at 38 feet long and a whopping 24 feet wide. I can’t even imagine how we’d have been able to handle her, let alone dock her, when we were first starting out. For Channukah last year, I bought him a T-shirt that says, “Sorry for what I said when we were docking the boat.” That shirt says it all, I think.

In The First Step, Justin has his own very beautiful sailboat. He and Reed Barfield, the other MC, take her out for a pleasure sail part way through the book. So what better to leave you all with than an exclusive excerpt from that sail.
Happy reading! –Shira


The first step is the hardest. After a scandal, New York political reporter Reed Barfield is lying low at the North Carolina coast, writing a story about the seafood industry. But it’s the harbor pilots on the Cape Fear River who capture his interest—men who jump across ten feet of open ocean to grab a rope ladder and guide huge container ships into port. Men like sexy but prickly Justin Vance.

After surviving an abusive childhood and a tour in the Navy, Justin isn’t fazed by his dangerous job—it’s certainly easier to face than Reed’s annoying questions. Justin isn’t out at work, and he doesn’t need Reed digging into his personal life or his past.

But Reed’s no stranger to using his considerable charm to get what he wants, and as he wears Justin down, they realize they have a lot in common—and that they like spending time together. Moving beyond that, though, will mean Justin confessing his sexuality and learning to trust Reed with his secrets—if Reed even decides to stay. Both men want a future together, but can they find the courage to take the first step?

Get the book:



“All clear,” Reed shouted from the foredeck as he pulled the running line aboard. Justin steered the boat out of the slip, and a few minutes later they were sailing down the Intracoastal Waterway toward Wrightsville Beach. Reed took a moment to inhale the salty air and let the sun dance over his face before joining Justin in the cockpit.
“Here.” Justin handed Reed a tube of sunscreen.
“Thanks.” Reed slathered his face, neck, and arms.
“Hats are in the lazarette.”
“The what?”
“The storage compartment under your very fine ass.” Justin glanced sideways and Reed rolled his eyes.
“At least you recognize my inherent greatness.” He stood and opened the compartment to find a plastic bin labeled “hats/gloves,” making sure Justin got the best possible view before rooting around and pulling out a Carolina Panthers cap.
“Good choice.”
“The John Deere hat was a close second.” Reed put the hat on.
“I do not have a John Deere hat.”
“I had one as a kid,” Reed admitted. “I used to ride shotgun on my dad’s ride-on mower.”
“That’s the difference between mountain folk and coastal folk.” Justin waved at a powerboat headed the opposite direction.
“Mountain folk have more class.”
“How about getting your classy self downstairs and pulling a few sodas out of the fridge?” Justin leaned back against the railing and pushed his sunglasses up. He looked good enough to eat, the way his white polo made his tan skin look even darker in the sunlight.
“No beer?” Reed asked.
“Not while I’m driving.” About this, Justin was absolutely serious. “But help yourself if you’d like.”
“Nah.” If something was going to happen between them today, Reed wanted it to be on his own terms, without the alcohol running the show.
Inside the boat, Leila was sound asleep on one of the benches. The boat really was beautiful, with its soft leather benches and beautiful wood accents. Justin kept her immaculate, down to the shine on the wood and the neatly stacked dishes and perfectly lined-up glasses above the stove, held in place by rails on the edges of the shelves to keep things from tumbling out in rough seas. The door to the master cabin was latched open, and Reed found himself daydreaming about what it might be like to sleep—or not—on the V-shaped bed. He hadn’t had this much fun on a date in years.
Date? This really was a date, wasn’t it? They were both single. Justin was hot as hell. Reed really liked the guy. He was sure the feeling was mutual. So why had he slowed things down the night before?
Whatever this is, it’s going to end in three days. That was a good thing, wasn’t it? A finite end made things easier.
Fuck. I’m being an idiot.
“Reed?” Justin called down the steps. “You okay down there?”
“No worries. I was just drooling over the setup again.” He grabbed a few sodas out of the fridge and joined Justin on the bench behind the wheel.
“Thanks.” Justin popped the top of his drink and took a good swallow. “You ready for the float plan?”
“We have a float plan?”
Justin tapped his temple. “When I’m off duty, I usually play it by ear. I mean, I check the tide charts so I don’t end up fighting it through the inlet, but a lot of it just depends on the wind and the waves.”
“So what you got planned for us?”
“I thought we’d sail out the Cape Fear Inlet and north to Mason Island. We’ve got twelve knots out of the southwest, so it should be a good ride.” Justin steered the boat through channel, and they raised the sails as soon as they passed the final buoy. He shut the engine off, and the ocean lapped against the hull as the boat cut through the waves.
Reed sighed. “This is really nice. Definitely better than floating out to sea.”
“Yep.” Justin’s gentle chuckle reminded Reed of the warmth of the sun on his shoulders.
“You come out here often?”
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