Sunday, May 31, 2020

ARC Review: Two Rogues Make a Right by Cat Sebastian

Two Rogues Make a Right (Seducing the Sedgwicks, #3)From the blurb:

Will Sedgwick can’t believe that after months of searching for his oldest friend, Martin Easterbrook is found hiding in an attic like a gothic nightmare. Intent on nursing Martin back to health, Will kindly kidnaps him and takes him to the countryside to recover, well away from the world.

Martin doesn’t much care where he is or even how he got there. He’s much more concerned that the man he’s loved his entire life is currently waiting on him hand and foot, feeding him soup and making him tea. Martin knows he’s a lost cause, one he doesn’t want Will to waste his life on.

As a lifetime of love transforms into a tender passion both men always desired but neither expected, can they envision a life free from the restrictions of the past, a life with each other?

Heather's rating:

I was very excited to read the latest installment in the Seducing the Sedgwicks series, Two Rogues Make a Right, by the popular Cat Sebastian, and I'm pleased to announce that it didn't disappoint.

First of all, I highly recommend that you read at least the first book in the series as I don't think this book works particularly well as a stand-alone. It really helps to get some background knowledge about the Sedgwick family before starting this story.

I enjoyed so many things about Two Rogues Make a Right. First of all, we get a demisexual MC. I love the growing number of asexual-spectrum characters in romance, and I really dug it here. We also get a pan/bisexual main character (love), a character struggling with a chronic illness, and a main character who is a former opium addict. I loved how these were not perfect characters. They were both deeply flawed, with jealousy, a lack of proper communication, and years of pent up longing and resentment.

Audiobook Review Tour: Forgotten (Heaven and Hell Club Book 2) by Colette Davison

Book Title: Forgotten (Heaven and Hell Club Book 2)

Author: Colette Davison

Publisher: Independently published

Narrator: Piers Rymans

Release Date: May 5, 2020

Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: hurt/comfort, small age-gap, disabled MC, one-night stand to lovers

Themes: Being true to yourself, trusting in others

Heat Rating: 3-4 flames.

Length: 7 hours and 42 minutes

It’s the second part of the Heaven and Hell Club series. 

It can be read as a standalone, but it’s better if read after Broken.

Buy Links


Can Jared build a future when he’s forgotten his past?

Jared is determined to make the most of his second chance at life.

A passionate one-night-stand with a cocky pole dancer leaves him wanting more, but will the truth of his past work against him?

Can Kyrone help Jared to come to terms with his injuries, solve some of the mysteries of his past and deal with what it really means to forget ones past?

Forgotten is the second book in the Heaven and Hell Club series. It’s a hurt/comfort romance, with two men who need to learn to be true to themselves. It can be read as a standalone, but works better if read after Broken.

Karen's rating:

Sometimes you have to walk through hell to get a little heaven...

‘Forgotten’ is the second foray into Colette Davison’s ‘Heaven and Hell Club’ series and while I enjoyed ‘Broken’ the first book in this series for me ‘Forgotten’ was the more engaging of the stories, While Mac, Jag and Michael…especially Jag has a very strong role in this story, Jared and Kyrone remain at the front and center of this one.

‘Broken’ gave us a very brief glimpse of Kyrone as one of the dancers at the club but it’s not until this story that we really get any sense of who he is and Jared is a new character that is introduced to us in the beginning of the story so we get to meet him at the same time as Kyrone when he goes to get a new tattoo at his favorite tattoo shop.

Initially we’re given the impression that Kyrone is a bit of a player and while that may be true before Jared came along. Jared seems to trigger Kyrone’s longings for a more settled life and even though what’s between them starts off as more of a one and done, this doesn’t last long…as in before the one is done these men are both wanting more. Sometimes when it’s right, it’s right and there’s no point fighting it.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Author Spotlight: Maggie Blackbird

Thanks to You 
by Maggie Blackbird 
Genre: Contemporary Romance Short Story 

She’s from the boundary waters of Northwestern Ontario, and he’s from a place his people call Waiekwakitchigami in northern Minnesota. Neither expects to meet, much less spend Thanksgiving together. 

Desperate for a Minneapolis getaway to prove she can break out of her by-the-numbers and by-the-book, disciplined life, divorcĂ©e Paulina Natawance doesn’t expect to have her truck break down outside the casino in Cloquet where she’s had lunch. Nor does she expect to encounter a handsome man with long, flowing black hair, ebony eyes, and a smile that could melt the ice cream she’s holding. 

While finishing up his shift at the Big Bear Casino, widower Tripp Beargrease isn’t looking forward to going home to celebrate Thanksgiving alone…again. But when he encounters a stunning Anishinaabe-kwe with legs to her neck, a tiny waist, and a pink, wet tongue licking an ice cream cone standing helpless at her dead vehicle, he’s more than willing to paddle his canoe to her rescue like a true warrior should. 

With the garage closed for the holiday and the hotels booked because of Thanksgiving, Tripp generously offers his dinner table for Paulina to dine at, and his spare bedroom for her to sleep in. And maybe, just maybe this proper woman can repair his broken heart. But her truck is ready the next day, and Paulina has a big decision to make—return to the boring, predictable life she’s created for herself, or throw away her day planner and take a huge gamble on Tripp. 

Having finished her ice cream cone, Paulina sipped on a delicious cup of coffee. Not since she’d first met her ex-husband had she shifted and twitched so much. Maybe it was the slant to Tripp’s eyes, or the genuine kindness reflecting in his pupils. Or maybe it was the way his hand relaxed on the mug. Or it could have been the way he sat back in the chair. Or, heck, it was all of them, including his natural friendliness and concern.

“You said you’re a financial administrator for a native health care center?” He rubbed his index finger and thumb along his chin. “I should have guessed counting numbers was your job.”

“What makes you say that?” Paulina asked. Being in security for ten years must have given Tripp a lot of insight into people.

“Most woulda been pretty mad to have their truck conk out on a road trip to the city. I didn’t see you kicking a tire or swearing a blue streak.” Tripp’s lips tugged at the corners. “Trust me, I’ve seen my share.”

“And counting numbers doesn’t mean…” This was interesting.

“You deal with numbers. It means you’re focused. Analytical. Weigh the pros and the cons. It goes back to a few workshops I took. It’s part of my training. How to deal with people, because every day I deal with a lot of people.”

“I guess you do, if you work security. I’m sure you had your share of disputes to…mediate.” She couldn’t help the tiny giggle in her throat. When was the last time she had let out a good laugh?

Release Blitz: Always You by Nell Iris

Book Title: Always You

Author: Nell Iris

Publisher: JMS Books

Cover Artist: Written Ink Designs

Release Date: May 30, 2020

Genre/s: Contemporary M/M Romance

Trope/s: Childhood friends to lovers

Themes: Self-discovery

Heat Rating: 2 flames 

Length: 11 000 words

It is a standalone story.

Buy Links


Best friends. Roommates. And now, maybe…more?


Thom Novak feels like a walking clichĂ©: the gay guy desperately in love with his straight best friend, Lee. But he’s willing to keep his feelings hidden, to do whatever it takes, as long as they stay friends forever.

Lee Conway loves sharing an apartment with Thom, his best friend since birth, and would be happy doing it for the rest of his life…no matter his current girlfriend’s opinion on the matter. But he’s never been known for being in contact with his emotions.

When something happens to upset the status quo, Lee pulls away. Has Lee learned how Thom feels about him? Will it mean the end of their friendship? Or is there another reason Lee needs time to think? A more…hopeful reason?


The next morning, I’m one hundred and ten percent certain something’s wrong. It’s 6:17 AM and I’m waiting for Lee in the kitchen, leaning against the sink, trying to make my glass of water last so I have an excuse for hanging around, doing nothing but staring in the direction of his bedroom.

Every morning, we go out running together at 6 AM on the dot. Without fail, come rain or shine, weekend or workday. The only exception is if either of us is sick or if it’s a world-ending kind of storm outside. And Lee is a stickler for being on time: between him and me, I’m the one who’s always late and leave him waiting impatiently for me to get ready.

And now it’s almost twenty past six and he hasn’t showed his face yet?

Outside, it’s a lovely May morning. The birds are chirping, waking up the neighborhood, and the first rays of sun promise to finally heat up our corner of the world. So no world-ending storm in sight, and yet he’s nowhere to be seen.

Is he dying?

Friday, May 29, 2020

Audio Book Review: Second Chance by Jay Northcote

From The Blurb:
Listening Time:  6 hrs., 50 min. 
Everyone deserves a second chance. Nate and his teenage daughter need a fresh start, so they move back to the village where he grew up. Nate’s transgender, and not used to disclosing his history, so it’s hard living where people knew him before. When Nate reconnects with Jack—his best friend from school and unrequited crush—his feelings return as strong as ever. 
Jack’s returned home to get his life in order after an addiction to alcohol caused him to lose everything: his job, his driver’s licence, and nearly his life. He’s living with his parents, which is less than ideal, but rekindling his friendship with Nate—or Nat as Jack once knew him—is an unexpected benefit of being back home. Jack is amazed by Nate’s transformation, and can’t deny his attraction. Trying for more than friendship might ruin what they already have, but the chemistry between them is undeniable. 
Doubting his feelings are reciprocated, Nate fears he’s risking heartbreak. Jack’s reluctance to tell his parents about their relationship only reinforces Nate’s misgivings. With both their hearts on the line and their happiness at stake, Jack needs to make things right, and Nate has to be prepared to give him a second chance.

Karen's rating:

Second time around for "Second Chance"...turned out to be even better...

"Second Chance" is another of those stories that I read earlier this year and loved. So when I got a second chance to enjoy this one on audio...what else could I do but say yes.

If I loved this one the first time around, I'm not even sure what word to use for this second chance with a story that holds a special place in my heart. I have to admit I really wanted to come up with a whole lot of new and creative ways to express my appreciation for this story, but truth be told I listened to the audio book, I re-read my original review and my brain stuttered to a screeching halt as realized two things... 1. that I enjoyed the audio book just a tiny bit more than I had the e-book and that adds up to a whole lot of 'loved this story' right there and 2. I still love this story for all the reasons that I originally loved this story. So, yes I'm going to borrow some things from that review to help me create this one.

This book had me not just from the beginning but from the first word of the title..."Second Chance"...we all want them, need them and mostly we deserve them and that's what this story is about...second chances for so many people but mostly for Nate and Jack.

At 45 years of age and after a plethora life events, childhood friends, Nate and Jack are reunited. (Ok, let's hear it for mature MCs who can have a relationship with someone their own age) It's not that I'm opposed to age gaps or daddy kink more like sometimes I just need a break from it...anyways, these are mature men who have been through a lot...good and bad and now they've each come home for their own reasons and dealing with the problems of the present brings them both face to face with memories of the past...both the good and the bad.

Jack's dealing with a break-up that led to a downward spiral into depression and addiction but with the help of his parents and a lot of determination he wants to change that and regain control of his life.

Nate's come home to get his daughter away from life in a big city and the temptations that she was finding around every corner and to help his mom following the death of his father. For Nate there's also the added challenge of the fact that when he lived here before everyone knew him as Natalie...not Nate unlike in the city where everyone knew him as Nate.

Blogtour: Improbable Bonds by Lily Michaels

Unlikely Reunion 
Improbable Bonds Book 1 
by Lily Michaels 
Genre: Contemporary M/M Romance 


Book one in the Improbable Bonds series 

Erik's adolescent crush becomes a very adult relationship at his high school reunion. 

Seeing his former bullies starstruck is definitely on Erik Stevens' agenda for his high school reunion. Hooking up with someone is not. He has resolved to end the meaningless sex that has dotted his life, even though it fed his need to dominate. Now he is looking for a man—a submissive—for a relationship that will last forever. 

But Erik hasn't counted on Kyle. 

For ten years, Kyle Lincke has cursed his repressed sexuality that, in high school, kept him from acting on his crush...Erik. As soon as he receives Erik's RSVP’d ‘yes' to the reunion, Kyle begins working up the courage to finally act on his desires, difficult for him to do following a disastrous break-up. 

But six weeks of exploration into BDSM and small steps toward a deeper relationship are thrown into jeopardy when Erik's fame threatens their bond—and Kyle's fragile psyche. 

Unlikely Match 
Improbable Bonds Book 2 


Book two in the Improbable Bonds series 

Almost two decades of boxing couldn’t prepare Clayton for the biggest fight of his life—one that put love on the line. 

Boxing had been Clayton James’ life for nearly twenty years, but the threat of a serious injury if he continued to fight forced him into retirement. Refusing to be down for the count, he carried his love of the sport into a new career as the owner of a gym. But low membership and a tightly stretched bank account mean he’s faced with closing his doors—or taking one more match to save his business. 

The bullying that Tyler Kirk thought he’d left behind in high school not only managed to carry over into college but also seemed worse. Being older than the average student because of the years he’d taken off to rehabilitate his sister after the accident that robbed them of their parents didn’t lessen the attacks he faced. His chance to find peace was in the meaty hands of the finely chiseled and sexy-as-hell owner of the gym he hoped could give him self-defense training. 

Neither man expected the adversarial start of their relationship to melt into something that quenched Clayton’s long-neglected need and one that Tyler wasn’t even aware he had. Nor could they prepare for the intense sexual chemistry that flowed between them to quickly morph their training schedule into a hot and heavy hookup routine. 

But the risks of Clayton’s final match are amplified when it’s no longer simply his health and well-being on the line but also the love of a good man and the promise of family. 

Beyond the Pages

I am an introvert and I embody every stereotype that implies with pride. One of my favorite pastimes is snuggling into a warm, fuzzy blanket with a hot mug of coffee, and a sweet treat while I either read or write. And I literally just happy sighed from envisioning that. 

But I do have other interests, I promise!

Audiobook Blitz: Happy Place by Jay Northcote

Buy Links: Audible US | Audible UK 

Length: 6hrs 21 mins.

Narrator: Hamish Long

Cover Design: Black Jazz Design

Rainbow Place Series - Audible US | Audible UK 

A first kiss from a younger man leads to a sexual awakening...

George’s strict upbringing has left him ashamed of his sexuality. In his forties now, he's yet to come out or even kiss a man - until he meets Quentin.

Quentin has had enough of bad relationships with men who won't commit. Still raw from the last one, he’s not ready to try again. But George is sweet, and helping the older man get some experience might be a fun diversion.

Swept rapidly into a deeper connection than they bargained for, they face a dilemma. George isn’t ready to come out, and Quentin wants a boyfriend who isn’t afraid to be seen with him in public.

Can they find a way to navigate the unpredictable waters of their new relationship and find happiness together?

Contains: age gap, gay first times, sexual exploration, out for you.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

Audio Book Review: Falling For My Roommate by Garrett Leigh

From The Blurb:
Listening Length:  5 hrs., 40 min. 
Falling for his roommate gives ex footballer Micah the second chance he deserves, and what could be better than loving your best friend? 
I’m a broke ex-football player with a bum leg and PTSD. Last summer, I had two choices: the streets, or find a cheap room to rent in the city. I chose the second option, which landed me with a brand-new problem, cos I hadn’t banked on my roommate becoming my best friend. Or that before long I’d find myself head over heels in love with him. Trouble is, even if Sam likes me back, I ain’t fit to be no one’s boyfriend. I don’t know how. All I do is wade through every precious moment and hope that he doesn’t regret the day he ever met me.
I’m a gay book nerd with no business falling in love with hunky athletes. Micah is the dictionary definition of beautiful, inside and out, he just doesn’t know it. And he definitely doesn’t know I’m ridiculously in love with him. The embarrassing kind of love. 
He’s all I can think about. 
But it’s not as simple as loving someone who doesn’t love me back. Micah is damaged goods—at least, that’s how he’d put it. The world has chewed him up and spat him out, and he thinks he deserved it. That he’s still the battered mess he was a year ago. 
I want to shake him, and shout in his face that he’s not. To force the truth on him and make him believe in himself the way I do. But I can’t save Micah. One day, perhaps he’ll realise that he already saved himself.

Karen's rating:

There are some stories best read, some that are amazing on audio and then...

there are those that work incredibly well in either format and Garret Leigh seems to consistently achieve this with her stories.

I read Micah's story back in April of this year when it was first released and I knew back then that if there was an audio release that I wouldn't hesitate to revisit it in audio format.

"Falling For My Roommate" is a story of starting over, second chances, finding love, comfort and healing.

Of course it goes without saying that I've already reviewed this story and I admit I'm not above borrowing from that review in my efforts to once again explain why and how much I've enjoyed this audio book.

Blogtour: Calling Your Bluff by Saxon James

Calling Your Bluff Banner

Calling Your Bluff 

by Saxon James

Love's Gamble Series, Book 2

Calling your bluff
ZaneFour years ago, I met Liam Holdsworthy.Hot, snarky, and hiding behind a sadness I couldn’t place. I wanted him, even back then. There were only two problems.One, I was deeply closeted.And two, he was dating my best friend.Now I’m retired from the NFL and openly out, there’s nothing to stop me from getting my gay on.When Liam comes back into my life, and I find out he’s single, I’ll find any reason to spend time with him. That’s how I created a list of gay first experiences I coax him into helping me with.But I don’t just want his help.I still want him.

Liam After leaving a long-term relationship with a closeted NFL player, I went through a string of guys trying to find the one. None of them were boyfriend material, let alone the forever type.I’m looking for a guy to come home to. Someone serious and down to earth.I’m definitely not looking for Cooper Zane.Yet, I can’t shake him, and not only because I’m helping him with his big bi bucket list. Every time I see him is like a shot of adrenaline to my system, and I’m always left wanting more.I need Mr. Serious, and Cooper’s the least serious person I’ve met.He’s newly out.He’s never had a relationship.And most importantly, he may be retired, but he’s not done with football.He’ll do anything to get it all back. And I’m not prepared to be relegated to the sidelines ever again.

Universal Link


Promo 1

Promo 4


Seeing the way Liam’s face lights up when we meet has me brimming with unearned confidence. I pull him into a quick, one-armed hug, wishing I could feel him against me a little longer, before we turn to the menu.
“I’m starving.”
“You must work up an appetite getting all sweaty with those hot football players.”
“Hey,” I say warningly, pointing at his face. “Enough from you. I’m the only player you’re allowed to think is hot.”
He blinks at me innocently. “I thought you said you weren’t a player anymore?”
“Still stands,” I grumble as he steps forward to order a hamburger. I almost snort. That’s barely an appetizer.
After I order a double with everything we stand off to the side and wait. He’s quiet, but there’s a soft smile curling the corners of his lips that I’m sure I can get to follow through. “I wonder what will happen right here, exactly one hundred years from now.”
His eyebrows jump. “Right here?”
“Yeah, in this exact spot. Will people still be waiting on burgers? Will it be a park? An underground sinkhole? Will people be chilling on hover boards, or will they beam the food to wherever they are?” I finally look over at him. And I was right, the a smile has split his face.
“Maybe aliens,” he adds.
“Or a meteor.”
“Or nothing.”
I really, really shouldn’t smile at the concept of nothing. “That took a turn. You have a dark mind in that pretty head.”
“We can’t all be perpetual sunshine.”
“Eh.” I run a hand through my hair. “I’ve had my fair share of storms.”
Our orders are called which thankfully derails that line of conversation. Last year was the hardest one of my life. First Mom’s cancer, then my ankle. I’m determined never to go through something like that again.
“Tell me about your job,” I say. Hanging out with Liam is way more fun and interesting than I would have guessed. And even as I get to know him better, the pedestal I’ve put him on keeps getting higher.
We find a table and chairs outside the burger place and take a seat in the late afternoon sun.
“Ah. My job.”
His tone gives me pause. “I thought you liked it?”

Blogtour: Full Moon Fever by Elizabeth Black

Full Moon Fever 
by Elizabeth Black 
Genre: M/M GLBT Paranormal Shifter Romance 

William Shakespeare said All the world’s a stage, but he hadn’t counted on shifters under a theater’s hot lights. Lovers Sam Hightower and Grant Newsome live for the stage. Although they have enjoyed the wanderlust of traveling theater for many years, each has grown tired of the road and wants to settle down. They also have a secret. As shifters and no part of any pack, they are lone wolves in every sense of the word. The full moon brings out the beast in them. 
Even though their work as gaffers—lighting techs—puts them in contact with a large variety of willing, sexy men and women to share their love, they prefer men. They find a dancer, Luke Pearce, who makes their blood run hot, but Luke has a secret of his own to test them. Add scenic artists and lovers Charlotte and Lina to the mix, and you have a wild and sexy fivesome.

To spoil their fun and to their surprise, Sam and Grant discover another shifter in their midst, but this young person is so inexperienced and terrified she could expose them to the human hunters and get them killed. How can Sam and Grant protect themselves as well as the people they love? 

Thank you for hosting me on your blog today. Have you ever wondered about the antics that go on behind the scenes in movies, TV, concerts, and stage? Is entertainment really a hotbed of sexy excitement? It's no accident I set my GLBT paranormal erotic romance Full Moon Fever on stage. I worked as a union stagehand back in the 1980s, primarily as a gaffer, which is a lighting technician. I had the honor and sheer enjoyment of working lighting for the movies Die Hard With A Vengeance and 12 Monkeys. I also volunteered for community theater, but I was paid to work as a gaffer. I volunteered to act and do makeup, including prosthetics like making wounds and scars. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2020

ARC Review: The Footman by S.M. LaViolette

From the blurb:

Lady Elinor wants nothing to do with love. Her arranged marriage—and one glorious but ill-fated kiss with a handsome footman—cured her of any romantic notions she’d ever entertained. Now a widow, all Elinor plans to do is rebuild her life—without a man in it. She certainly has no intention of falling for the charming and entirely too tempting American who seems so determined to win her favor …

Stephen Worth is no longer the impoverished footman who lost everything because of the impulsive actions of a reckless young lady. Having reinvented himself long ago, his sole focus now is revenge. He’ll do whatever it takes to extract a pound of flesh from all who wronged him so long ago. And if that means ruining the lovely Elinor in the process? So be it.

But it’s not long before Elinor finds herself drawn to Stephen despite her best intentions—and before Stephen starts to wonder if maybe a life with Elinor is worth more than his revenge. Can Stephen and Elinor overcome their painful pasts and take a second chance on love? Or is the cost of trust simply more than they’re willing to pay?

Heather's rating:

I'm a huge, huge Minerva Spencer/S.M. LaViolette fan, and I read everything she writes. She delivered another riveting romance with The Footman that was nearly impossible to put down.

The Footman doesn't pull any punches. If you don't like your main character doing some very morally questionable behavior and having to redeem himself with chapters of intense grovelling, then this book might not be for you. I happen to like those scenes where a character royally screws up and then has to beg for forgiveness. Bring on the grovel-porn! The male main character was relentless in his quest for revenge, and I found it all to be an intensely compelling read.

I loved the female MC, though it was painful to read what she had gone through in her life. I admired her so much, and I lauded her desire to be a physician and help others, despite her physical limitations. She was so interesting and so strong.

Blogtour: Secrets And Scrabble series by Josh Lanyon

Secret at Skull House 
Secrets and Scrabble Book 2 
by Josh Lanyon 
Genre: M/M Cozy Mystery 

Ellery Page is back--and poking his elegant nose into trouble again! 

Unlike everyone else in Pirate's Cove, Ellery Page, aspiring screenwriter, reigning Scrabble champion, and occasionally clueless owner of the village's only mystery bookstore, is anything but thrilled when famed horror author Brandon Abbott announces he's purchased legendary Skull House and plans to live there permanently.

Ellery and Brandon have history. Their relationship ended badly and the last thing Ellery wants is a chance to patch things up--especially when his relationship with Police Chief Jack Carson is just getting interesting. But then, maybe Brandon isn't all that interested in getting back together either, because he seems a lot more interested in asking questions about the bloodstained past of his new home than discussing a possible future with Ellery. What is Brandon really up to?

Ellery will have to unscramble that particular puzzle post haste. Because after his former flame disappears following their loud and public argument, Ellery seems to be Police Chief Carson's first--and only--suspect.

***This story contains no on-screen sex or violence 

from Chapter One

Murder is fun.
At least, a lot of otherwise nice, normal people seemed to think so.
Having recently gone through the ghastly experience of finding a body in
his bookshop—oh, and of being suspected of murder—Ellery Page was
less thrilled by the notion of violent death. He couldn’t deny it was good
for business, though.
Something about the idea of murder in a mystery bookstore really
captured people’s imagination. True, a third of the tourists wandering into
the Crow’s Nest this beautiful sunny June morning were there specifically
to see Where It Happened. But because they felt a little guilty for their
ghoulishness, they almost always bought a couple of books before they
left. So while business wasn’t booming, it had certainly picked up.
Which was a good thing because Ellery’s screenwriting career was
going nowhere fast. He glanced down again at the latest rejection letter
from his agent.
The worst part was, while the rejection stung—rejection always
stings, even when you’re getting rejected by people you would reject—he
just couldn’t get too worked up about it. Not on such a beautiful day.
And it was a beautiful day. Like a painting by one of those 19th
century artists who went in for seaside postcards of gentlemen in straw
hats and striped one-piece bathing suits and ladies with—well, frankly,
Ellery was more interested in the gentlemen.
Anyway, really nice weather. The sky was a soft and languid blue,
swirled with clouds as filmy as smoke. The sand sparkled, the water
sparkled, the sunlight sparkled. Brightly colored boats bobbed in the
harbor, flags snapping in the sea breeze.
The only thing that could have made it better was if it had been
Saturday rather than Monday. The weekends meant more visitors to Buck
Island, and more visitors meant more business, and Ellery was going to
need more business—a lot more business—to keep the Crow’s Nest sailing
along. Seeing that Ronny had no interest in pitching Night Chess to
The scenes are void of meaningful or compelling conflict.
What did that even mean? Well, okay, Ellery knew what it meant, but
he didn’t like conflict. Not in his movies and not in real life.
Conflict arrives, is instantly resolved, and the narrative course
continues unaffected.
Ellery muttered, “You say that like it’s a bad thing.”
The bells on the front door jingled merrily as Mrs. Nelson swept in.
Ellery’s heart sank.
Hermione Nelson was a heavyset woman in her late sixties with
startlingly blue eyes, hair as red as a rusty battleship, and a small,
pinched-looking mouth that gave the impression that the effort of keeping
her thoughts to herself was starting to give her heartburn. Except, she
never kept her thoughts to herself, so…
Mrs. Nelson was under the impression she was Ellery’s best customer,
and she would’ve been if she didn’t return three quarters of everything she
“Ellery, this book was a complete waste of my time. I can’t believe
you recommended it.” Mrs. Nelson reached the wooden counter, fished
around in her patchwork bag, and thrust a battered copy of The Better
Sister by Alafair Burke at him.
“I’m sorry. It made pretty much everyone’s Best Of lists for 2019.”
Ellery took the hardcover, wincing inwardly at the sight of folded page
“I don’t want to read about nasty people.”
“Well, we’re a mystery bookstore,” Ellery pointed out. “Safe to say, at
least one character in every book is going to be kind of nasty.”
Mrs. Nelson was not amused. “I like my murders to happen to nice
people. What about that new one from Joanne Fluke? I think I might like
“I’m not sure we have any copies le—”

Release Blitz: Lighting The Lamp by K.R. Collins

Title: Lighting the Lamp
Series: Sophie Fournier, Book Three
Author: K.R. Collins
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: May 25, 2020
Heat Level: 1 - No Sex
Pairing: Female/Female
Length: 100100
Genre: Contemporary Sports, LGBTQIA+, Contemporary, sports, romance, lesbian, bisexual, demisexual, ice hockey, coach, teammates, slow burn

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Entering her third season, Sophie Fournier has almost everything she wants. She’s the captain of the Concord Condors, she’s roommates and linemates with Elsa Nyberg, the elite Swedish winger she’s wanted to play alongside since the Zurich U-Tourney.

There are two major things she’s missing, though. She doesn’t have her next contract lined up, and she still hasn’t won the Maple Cup, hockey’s most coveted prize. If she wins the Cup, she’ll have leverage going into her contract negotiations. And, in case she needed more motivation, this is Benoit Delacroix’s final season as a Concord Condor, and she’s determined he won’t retire without lifting the Cup.


Lighting the Lamp
K.R. Collins © 2020
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
The 2013 draft in Orlando, Florida marks the third one Sophie’s attended. She made history in 2011 when she was the first woman drafted into the North American Hockey League. Last year, she was given the honor of selecting Elsa Nyberg for her team, the Concord Condors.

This year, Sophie’s responsibilities are fewer, but she’s still here representing the League. Unlike other players, who watch the draft from their couches or receive alerts while on the beach or touring wine country, Sophie is here in a crisp black pantsuit, a red pocket square her only flash of color.

She’s here so the Commissioner can lay a heavy hand on her shoulder and lean in for pictures to prove how progressive his league is, as if one woman among hundreds of men is progress. Well, it is progress, but it isn’t nearly enough.

There will be more women drafted today and tomorrow, and Sophie’s confident at least one of them will play against her this season. She refuses to hope Elsa will keep her promise and make the jump from the Swedish Hockey League to the NAHL this year, but she has high expectations for Alexis Engelking.

The American is slated to be drafted high. Lenny Dernier, infamous for his rants on The National Sports Network, is already wringing his hands over her upcoming inclusion among hockey’s best. Once, forgetting she was mic’d up, Engelking dropped an f-bomb on live television. Dernier accused her of being “a terrible role model for our Canadian children” as if every Canadian who has played the game is an angel.

Indianapolis files on stage to make the first selection of the draft, a long procession of middle to upper-aged white men in suits. The TVs behind the stage show Engelking sit up straighter in her seat as if she’s anticipating her name being called. Her hair is chopped short, jagged angles as sharp as her cheekbones.

A different camera shows Chad Kensington, another American, slumped in his seat. His blond hair is parted to the side and slicked to stay there. His mother elbows him, and he makes a half-hearted attempt to sit up straight.

“Thank you, Orlando, for hosting us today,” Indy’s owner says. The crowd, predictably, cheers. When he thanks the Commissioner, the crowd boos, also predictable. Sophie doesn’t remember the Commissioner facing constant heckling when she was younger, but he’d made himself no friends when the League ground to halt during the 2010-2011 season.

Indy’s owner steps aside so his grandson, a cute kid with chubby cheeks and a Renegades ball cap on his head, can step up to the mic. They have to lower it for him, and the boy checks the cards in his hands before he looks over his shoulder. His grandfather smiles encouragingly. “Um, first overall, the Indianapolis Renegades select Chad Kensington.”

Kensington stands up and shoots the nearest camera a pair of finger guns. His smile is as greasy as his hair. Sophie’s seen enough tape to know he’s talented, but he struts up to the stage as if he thinks the League should be grateful to have him. His suit is too big in the shoulders and too long in the leg as if he expects to grow into it. He’s dwarfed by the men on stage; the only ones he’s taller than are the owner’s two grandkids. He taps the brim of the grandson’s hat. The owner’s granddaughter hides behind the man who Sophie assumes is her father.
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