The Secrets We Keep by Rick R. Reed
Jasper Warren is a happy-go-lucky young man in spite of the tragedy that’s marred his life. He’s on a road to nowhere with his roommate, Lacy, whom he adores, and a dead-end retail job in Chicago.
And then everything changes in a single night. Though Jasper doesn’t know it, his road is going somewhere after all. This time when tragedy strikes, it brings with it Lacy’s older, wealthy, sexy uncle Rob. Despite the heart-wrenching circumstances, an immediate connection forms between the two men.
But the secrets between them test their attraction. Will their revelations destroy the bloom of new love... or encourage it to grow?
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EXCERPT: THE SECRETS WE KEEP
It’s always exciting for me, both as a writer and as a reader, when the two main lovers in a book first meet. In THE SECRETS WE KEEP, that first meeting is at a funeral home wake, for someone both men loved deeply (and for whom many of the secrets in the book are kept).
When he stepped out of the bathroom, someone was waiting for him. An older man.
Jasper tried to thread his way around the guy. “Did you want to go in?” Jasper gestured toward the open bathroom.
“No. I was waiting for you.” The guy eyed him. He was probably a good twenty years older than Jasper, but as inappropriate as it was at a time like this, Jasper couldn’t help noticing how sexy he was. Trim, a little on the short side, it was obvious, even in his impeccably tailored black suit, he was in very good, and very powerful, shape. Jasper was certain those weren’t shoulder pads testing the seams at the tops of his arms.
He had kind eyes. And they were the most amazing shade of pale gray. Jasper had seen a husky once with eyes like that; he couldn’t say he’d ever seen anything like it on a human being. Those eyes were mesmerizing, arresting, and chilling, framed in long, black lashes.
His hair was silver, shorn close on the sides with a bit more on top, spiked with some gel.
He wore a fashionable five-o’clock shadow that Jasper couldn’t deny he wanted to feel—either with his fingers or against his own smooth cheeks.
“For me?” Jasper smiled. “I’m sorry. Do I know you?”
He simply smiled enigmatically. “Probably not. But I bet I know you. You’re Jasper, Heather’s roommate, right?”
“Yeah. And you are?”
“I’m Robert. Robert Burroughs.” He extended his hand.
Jasper gripped the warm hand, slightly soft and a little damp. He didn’t take his eyes off Robert the whole time, and the “whole time” was much longer than the duration of a handshake for most guys. It sent a shiver through Jasper.
“Burroughs?” Jasper had a terrifying thought. What if this is her dad? Good Lord, I’m flirting with Lacy’s dad! At her funeral! The very thought caused beads of sweat to pop out on Jasper’s forehead. He held in a giddy burst of laughter. “Are you, um, related to Lacy? Er, Heather?”
Please don’t say you’re her father.
“I’m her uncle Rob. Did she never mention me?”
Jasper wracked his brain. One thing neither of them did much of was talk about their respective families. They liked to believe they were each other’s family now, “chosen family” was the term they used. The idea, the memory of this, brought a lump to Jasper’s throat, bringing home for real that his best friend was gone. “I’m not sure.”
“It’s okay if she didn’t. I hadn’t seen her in quite some time. My schedule doesn’t afford me much opportunity to see family, as much as I might want to.” He smiled, and Jasper noticed the sadness around his eyes despite it. Robert went on softly, “I wish I’d had one more chance to talk to her, to tell her how I loved her. I’m afraid she didn’t know.”
Jasper nodded. “Me too. If I could just talk to her one more time, maybe we wouldn’t be here.”
Robert cocked his head. “No?”
Jasper didn’t want to disabuse him of the notion that Lacy had not killed herself, if that was what he was choosing to believe. So he simply said, “Who knows?”
“Heather used to write sometimes, a long time ago. She’d shoot me a text, you know, a birthday emoji or a holiday one. We were close when she was a kid. I used to take her places with me whenever I could. Her parents never really got her, you know?”
“Oh, I know.”
“They were always trying to change her. Like, she was left-handed naturally, and they worked and worked and worked on getting her to use her right. They tried to get her to hang out with what they deemed the popular girls. They bought her American Girl dolls when all she wanted was a set of paints and a good book, preferably horror. I could stand here all day and tell you how little my brother and sister-in-law knew their girl. But I won’t.
“I just wish I’d stayed in better touch with her. Once my career took off, back when she was just becoming a teenybopper, I kind of got preoccupied and we lost touch.” He paused and Jasper noticed the tears standing in his incredible eyes. Unexpectedly, he laughed. “When she was a little girl, and I mean like three or four, she would sigh and say, ‘Woe is me.’ What little girl says that?”
“Lacy. It so figures.”
“You call her Lacy. Why?”
“That’s how she referred to herself. She was even thinking of legally changing her name. She hated Heather.”
Robert nodded. “I get that. I never thought of her as a Heather. I’m glad she found something else.” He glanced over his shoulder into the viewing room. “I wish they’d respected that.”
I do too. Jasper felt, suddenly, even sadder. For his own loss, sure, but more for Lacy’s loss. The rest of her life. She could have done so much. She could have been happy. He just knew it.
He placed his hand on Robert’s shoulder. “Look, I intended to stay longer, but I need to get out of here. This place is too oppressive. And it honestly feels like someone else is being waked, not the girl I know. So I’m gonna book. But it was nice to talk to you.”
Robert nodded. “Will you be at the funeral tomorrow morning?”
The funeral was set for one of Rogers Park’s Catholic churches. Then they’d fly the body back to California for burial in the family plot.
It was all wrong. All not what Lacy would have chosen.
Jasper shook his head. “No. I don’t think so. This isn’t her. I think I’ll just remember her as I knew her.”
Jasper turned away, feeling on the verge of tears. He didn’t want to cry in front of Lacy’s uncle—or anyone else gathered at the funeral home, for that matter.
As he reached the door, Robert’s voice stopped him.
“Would you mind if I came with you? I need to get out of here too."
RICK R. REED BIO
Real Men. True Love.
Rick R. Reed draws inspiration from the lives of gay men to craft stories that quicken the heartbeat, engage emotions, and keep the pages turning. Although he dabbles in horror, dark suspense, and comedy, his attention always returns to the power of love. He’s the award-winning and bestselling author of more than fifty works of published fiction and is forever at work on yet another book. Lambda Literary has called him: “A writer that doesn’t disappoint…” You can find him at www.rickrreedreality.blogspot.com. Rick lives in Palm Springs, CA with his beloved husband and their fierce Chihuahua/Shiba Inu mix.
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Dog Tagged by James Brock
James Brock has a new MM Military Romance out: "Dog Tagged."
Drill Sergeant Clay Norris has his military life running right on schedule. Career focused he appreciates that he joined up when his sexuality is at least acknowledged under Don't Ask, Don't tell, even if he doesn't get to act on his urges as much as he likes.
In formation with his new trainee group he locks eyes with Chevrolet Banks and his life, their lives, are changed forever.
Dog Tagged is an insta love military romance based on real life incidents.
James is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this cover reveal – enter via Rafflecopter:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4789/?
What also became clear to me in my short time with the fun, cute guy was that I had fallen so hard for Private Chevy Banks that I couldn’t get him out of my head even standing next to this walking hard-on.
I did let the hot salesman give me a quick kiss on the cheek in the changing room and tried to forget the warmth of his lips as I headed out to the clubs and got some dance and further drink on, always bearing in mind that I was an officer now and had some decorum to maintain.
Okay, all that means is that I got pretty wasted.
And that I danced with all comers. I was quickly stripped out of that cute little shirt salesman Evan had put me in, my training ripped body giving me pick of the litter. Not last call litter, not still breathing and leftover litter. Porn star guys (REAL porn star guys) were fighting over me, actual pushing and shoving, it was quite the scene, the knot of men who had surrounded this former Drill Instructor.
At some point I looked up to see the smiling face of Evan the clerk from the clothing store next to me, an arm thrown protectively thrown around my shoulder. His sweet smile was the brightest of the lot, I latched onto him like an octopus gripping a clam.
I have no idea how long the revelry went on or how I got back to the hotel.
Let alone what might have happened there.
The next morning I woke not feeling well at all. Slick with sweat, sick to my stomach I rolled my head on the pillow slowly, not knowing what kind of guy I was going to find next to me. Thankfully the pillow was empty, as was the bed, although the blankets were mussed enough to let me know someone had recently nested there. Carefully lifting myself I checked the floor and was relieved to see no other bodies in the room.
But at that moment the bathroom door opened and a figure came out.
Evan, blond and sunny, cute as the night before in tattered jean and a faded green t shirt with a cracked and worn logo on it stepped into the darkened room.
“Hey buster, didn’t think you’d be up for a while,” he said with a giggle in his voice.
Flopping down onto the chair across the room he slipped his feet into athletic shoes and laced them. “Or should I be calling you Lieutenant Buster?” he added with a nod toward my dress uniform hanging neatly in the closet.
“Just call me a time machine man, I wanna go back about twelve hours and start over again.” I sighed from the bed. “What the fuck happened….”
“What didn’t happen is the better question,” Even said evenly. “you were wined and dined, if you count the bag of Dorito’s you were given to strap on like a feed bag dining, given drinks and very nearly given drugs and taken to other clubs and there was talk of taking you to that skeezy bath house connected to the dance club, but you wouldn’t go anywhere without me once I had been spotted. You seemed to be quite taken with modest little moi and since I refused to go to that bathhouse everyone was trying to get you to go to I finally got you back here where there were more drinks and salty snacks then there was some crying….” he trailed off. “I’ve ordered room service for you; hope you don’t mind.”
“Wait. Wait, wait.” I said using a nearly Drill Sergeant size voice as the handsome young man stood, “I need the whole story.”
About that time there was a knock at the door; Evan let room service in, signing the check. “You are a good tipper, just so you know,” he grinned while pushing the tray of food over toward me on the bed then pouring coffee. He motioned for me to eat then sat back down. “I was going out anyway so when I closed up I came over to the club and there you were, gaily lit as a Christmas tree and surrounded by faeries more headstrong and stubborn than Tinkerbell all out to get a piece of the hottest man in the city. Not the bar, the city. And I’m not just saying that because I am the one who ended up sleeping with you.”
I guess I looked up at him like a deer in head lights.
“Stop, don’t flatter me. I’ve got it going on but I’m not ripped like you. Word was out that there was a military hottie on the hoof in the club and every muscle queen and gym bunny in town showed up to audition as your hook-up for the night. I think guys were flying in from LA and San Francisco trying to get to you,” the blond smiled.
“So you brought me back here and we….” I said, mouth full of egg. The food was going down smoother than I expected it would.
“I didn’t get in the way of your fun too much, I just kept an eye on you. Until they started to undress you and began offering you pills, powders and potions.”
I felt myself shudder and freeze.
“Don’t worry. I didn’t let them. I just brought you back here, where you insisted on another drink or ten. Then you got weepy and I held you and let you talk about a car until you fell asleep. I dunno, everyone has a kink or two, but I’ve never heard anyone rhapsodize about a vehicle the way you went on and on about your Chevy last night.”
I was really embarrassed then.
I let a silence settle between us before taking a sip of scalding hot coffee and replying.
“Not a car, a guy,” I whispered.
“I fell off a turnip truck but that was a long time ago,” he smirked while reaching over and snagging a crisp piece of bacon off my plate and began chewing on it, “I figured as much.” Evan said with true kindness in his voice. “I had a brother in the Army and knew you were just blowing off some steam. Those wolves would have eaten you and I like to think someone would have looked after my brother the same way. Nothing happened between us.”
“That would have been the best part of the night it sounds like,” I managed, no longer interested in the food.
“You were a hot mess, but I am very glad you are alright. Now I’ve gotta go to work. If you are in town for a while here is my card.” With that Evan produced a business card with his name, number and e mail on it. “Use it at will.” he slipped the card on the breakfast tray then slid his arms around my body, giving me a very nice hug.
“Leaving tomorrow, but some other time without question.”
Stopping at the closet on his way out he reached in and touched the sleeve of my dress uniform.
“Are you going over?”
There was a slight pause before he broke his eyes form the uniform.
“Be safe. E mail and let me know how you are. Promise?”
“Promise, and thanks. Is your brother back?” there was a pause before Evan answered Yesin such a quiet way that I knew the way his brother had come home.
“I’m sorry,” was all I had time to say before the cute blond turned and gave me a wan smile and slipped out of the room.
James Brock is an Amazon number one best selling author, with fifteen M/M romance novels published and two family autobiographies.
Once upon a time he sold comedy to Joan Rivers and Phyllis Diller, was published in every gay men's magazine on the market (when there was a market, those dinosaurs were killed off by DVD, which were in turn eaten by streaming and on demand...), the Seattle Gay News and Seattle Standard and essays with the late great Alyson Publications.
James lives in Seattle.
Author Website: JamesBrockBooks.com
Author Facebook (Author Page): https://www.facebook.com/Men-Overboard-100109810041126/
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/jamesbrockbooks
Hope by Grace R. Duncan
Cover art by Jess SmallThank you Elizabeth for giving me a spot today! I really appreciate it. When I was doing the research for locations for the trip, I realized pretty quickly how just desolate many of their stops would be. Funny enough, that feeling lent itself well to the story and I just ended up feeling doubly bad. One problem with the US Southwest is that it’s still truly empty in so many places. Southern California, east of San Bernadino, Arizona (most of it!), New Mexico, and Texas all have vast open deserts with very little to break it up. There are quite a few stops along the way on their journey to, eventually, Forbes Pack in Southwestern Pennsylvania. (Fortunately for them, they do end up flying a bit more than half the distance!) Today, I thought I might share the view from a few of the stops on their trip. Stop #1 – Tonto Pack – Phoenix, Arizona [caption id="attachment_6506" align="aligncenter" width="744"] Please pardon the fisheye distortion - I wanted to provide a 360 degree view of that stop.[/caption] Not the first actual stop on the trip. But the first one I’d like to share. Miguel and Luis are city boys, except for their monthly jaunts up into the forest for the full moon. So, Miguel is a little… dismayed at what he finds on the trip. He’d spent so much time in a city—a real, big city, with a McDonald’s and an In-N-Out on every corner—that to step outside and see nothing besides the bus station but an airport and desert was disheartening. Stop #2 – (On the way to) Gila Pack – Deming, New Mexico It was Luis’s turn to be about as disappointing as Phoenix was for Miguel, though they at least got a little bit more out of their stop than they did the Phoenix one. Including a bit of authentic Mexican food that was “so good, it reminded Luis of home and made him ache.” Luis had hoped for a bit more from Deming, though he didn’t know why. They didn’t have a full bus station. It was a stop at the Shell gas station just off the highway. After purchasing tickets for the local bus to Silver City, they got directions to a nearby Mexican restaurant the Shell owner promised was authentic and relatively cheap. Stop #3 –Albuquerque, New Mexico (midpoint stop) Albuquerque was weird (entirely aside from its spelling, which took me forever to remember—I depended a lot on Word for that. *cough*), because Greyhound doesn’t actually go into Santa Fe. It’s pretty! But weird. Probably something to do with their Rio Metro Regional Transit train system. The time they got into Albuquerque was probably not the best time—1:00 a.m.—but at least they could protect themselves if it came down to it. Miguel had no doubt Santa Fe was going to turn them away. But since he had no idea where else to go, he followed Alpha Mike’s advice, and they bought tickets in Deming for Las Cruces. They’d had to spend the day in Deming, but finally made it to Las Cruces in the afternoon, where they changed buses for Albuquerque. Stop #4 – Santa Fe Pack – Santa Fe, New Mexico The Santa Fe “station” was… tiny isn’t too strong a word. And the poor boys got there at six. I can’t even imagine being awake at that time, much less traveling. After waiting until nine—which he thought was a more respectable hour than six—they got a hold of the Santa Fe alpha, the aforementioned Nate, and made plans to meet him. However, not two minutes after sitting down at the table with the alpha with silver-streaked hair, Miguel knew Alpha Mike had been right. Stop #5 – United States National Wolf Headquarters – Denver, Colorado Denver wasn’t their last stop—technically that was Forbes Pack in SW Pennsylvania—but it was almost the last. Probably the most important stop, though. They didn’t get in until at almost midnight, tired and not a little terrified. They were, after all, about to go to their version of the White House to meet the wolf version of the president. I’d be a little terrified… well, depending on who was attached to the title at the time. Anyway… “Wait… did you say Miguel Garcia? Is Luis Rodriguez with you?” “Yes, ma’am,” Miguel said, turning a puzzled look at Luis, who shrugged. “Oh dear. Are you still at the bus station?” “Yes. We just got in a little while ago.” “All right. Stay there. We’ll have someone pick you up shortly.” And with that, she hung up. Miguel stared at his phone for a moment, then looked up at Luis. “That… is not what I expected.” “Me either. Are we in trouble?” “I have no idea, but I think the best thing to do would be wait.” They got in at midnight, so they didn’t really get to see much of the surrounding land on the way to Wolf Headquarters, but the view of the mountains above is what they would have seen on that route. I hope you enjoyed a peek at the boys’ journey! I loved being able to research their trip. I didn’t love sending them on it, but it helped the wolf population as a whole, so they both agreed it was worth it. To find out how, well… you’ll have to read, won’t you? Thank you again to Elizabeth for sharing her blog with me today! Hope you’ve enjoyed this look at the auditorium! Thanks again to Lou for the space. When you have a chance to read Hope, let me know how it compares to your mental image of the place! **All images taken from Google maps and streetview.
* * *
Hope, part of the Forbes Mates series Length: 13,000 words Genre: m/m paranormal shiftersMiguel 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. There is also a giveaway for this release. Details are below. a Rafflecopter giveaway
And check out the upcoming blog tour appearances below!About Grace: Grace Duncan grew up with a wild imagination. She told stories from an early age – many of which got her into trouble. Eventually, she learned to channel that imagination into less troublesome areas, including fanfiction, which is what has led her to writing male/male erotica. A gypsy in her own right, Grace has lived all over the United States. She has currently set up camp in East Texas with her husband and children – both the human and furry kind. As one of those rare creatures who loves research, Grace can get lost for hours on the internet, reading up on any number of strange and different topics. She can also be found writing fanfiction, reading fantasy, crime, suspense, romance and other erotica or even dabbling in art. Website ◊ Facebook ◊ Twitter ◊ Youtube ◊ Goodreads
Lost in Time by A.L. Lester
Lew’s life is pleasantly boring until his friend Mira messes with magic she doesn’t understand. While searching for her, he is pulled back in time to 1919 by a catastrophic magical accident. As he tries to navigate a strange time and find his friend in the smoky music clubs of Soho, the last thing he needs is Detective Alec Carter suspecting him of murder.
London in 1919 is cold, wet, and tired from four years of war. Alec is back in the Metropolitan Police after slogging out his army service on the Western Front. Falling for a suspect in a gruesome murder case is not on his agenda, however attractive he finds the other man.
They are both floundering and out of their depth, struggling to come to terms with feelings they didn’t ask for and didn’t expect. Both have secrets that could get them arrested or killed. In the middle of a murder investigation that involves wild magic, mysterious creatures, and illegal sexual desire, who is safe to trust?
He parked the department’s Model-T on the small lane off Hackney High Street where Tyler indicated and followed the man up a flight of steps from a small courtyard, behind what looked like a laundry. Tyler unlocked the door and looked at him. “Come in. You can wait in here.” He threw his damp cap and ‘cycle goggles onto a table that clearly served for kitchen and dining, shucked his coat and gestured to a battered settee in front of a cold grate. “Would you like a drink?” He was un-stoppering a half-full bottle of whisky and sloshing it into two glasses as he spoke.
Alec shut the door and leaned back against it, his arms folded. “How did you know him?”
He kept his gaze uncompromising.
The hand holding the bottle froze in mid-air and then very carefully replaced it on the counter. “I didn’t know him.”
The stopper of the bottle was replaced with deliberation.
“Do you want me to take you down to Wapping for questioning?”
More silence. Tyler lifted the glass and took a long slug. He turned to face Alec and Alec suddenly realized that he could have read the young man incorrectly and that he was face to face with the killer. He wasn’t as young as he had initially thought, now Alec was looking at him with a professional eye, and his hands and arms were sinewy and muscled where he’d undone his sleeves. His eyes were dark-chocolate colored, shot through with lighter hazel — almost gold — hooded and wary; and there was a smear of what looked like blood on his fingers where he was gripping the glass and another on his cheek. He told himself that Tyler couldn’t have killed the man — he’d have been covered in blood, the way the throat had been ripped out. But he knew the victim. Alec was sure of it.
Tyler raised the glass again and tossed the rest of the contents back; then turned and went to refill it. Alec caught himself watching the play of his shoulders under his shirt and a little frisson of desire shivered through him. Hell. That was the last thing he needed.
Tyler turned back to Alec, both glasses in hand and caught him looking. He held one out to him, clearly dismissing what he’d seen. “Do you want this?”
Alec unfolded from the door and took it. He gestured to the other man’s fingers. “You touched him.”
He said it flatly, not a question.
Another pause. Tyler stared into his glass and Alec drank some of his. The bite of the spirit steadied him a little.
“Just as I was setting up the shot. Not deliberately.”
Again, he was lying.
Alec stepped toward the small table where Tyler had put down his camera kit and placed his glass down with a deliberate clunk on the surface. Then he took off his hat and his coat and threw them over the chair-back of one of the mismatched wooden dining chairs before he took another drink.
“Get going with the pictures, then.”
Let it play out, he told himself. Wait. Just let it play out.
He sat down on the battered settee, crossed his arms, and stretched his legs out, tilting his head back against the cushions and keeping eye contact with Tyler all the time. Tyler threw back the remains of his second drink and picked up his kit.
“Dark room’s through there,” he muttered, gesturing at a door. “Not much space in there.”
“I’ll wait here.” Alec was laconic.
He was more tired than he thought — a long day followed by two hours sleep, then being woken again by Grant when the call came in. It was pleasant sitting in the relatively warm flat, listening to the rain outside. It was proper rain now rather than the dank drizzle of earlier and he thought absently to himself that anything left at the scene would be washed away by the time he could get back there to have another look. His eyes started to droop and he let them, lulled by the sound.
Meet A.L. Lester
A. L. Lester likes to read. Her favourite books are post-apocalyptic dystopian romances full of suspense, but a cornflake packet will do there’s nothing else available. The gender of the characters she likes to read (and write) is pretty irrelevant so long as they are strong, interesting people on a journey of some kind. She lives in the south-west UK with Mr AL, two children, a permaculture vegetable garden and a dachshund.
She sees herself as: parent, queer, gardener, author, spouse, daughter, beer-maker, disabled, ex-goose-keeper, carer, procrastinator. Short tempered non-binary control freak.
Hurricane Dreams by Julia McBryant
A big welcome to Julia McBryant. She was kind enough to answer a few questions.
What question do you wish someone would ask about this book?
I wish someone would ask/wonder why Calhoun really did lie about being a virgin. Audie obviously keeps secrets all the time, but Calhoun’s an open book. Everyone just seems to accept that Calhoun wanted to have sex, but doesn’t that seem out of character to what you get to know about him later? Answer: he had it really, really, really bad for Audie from the very beginning, and he knew what he wanted.
What secondary character would you like to explore more?
Quinn, no question. Quinn is my twink baby. He has a kink daddy novel started; he has a short story started for an anthology. But nothing’s finalized, and I haven’t really gotten very far into his head yet. I know he was raised by staff, mostly; that he was an oops baby after three other kids; that he came out when he was sixteen and got a lot of hell for it in school, and that he hooked up with Calhoun in secret all through their senior year. But I want more than that, and I can’t wait to find it out.
Who has been your favorite character to write and why?
Audie, Audie, and Audie. He brings out that just hands me the best prose I can manage. I don’t know why. I also feel like I know him better than any character I’ve ever written. He’s my favorite baby.
What’s your core motivation with this book?
I wanted to give Audie a boyfriend to help him on the path to getting mentally healthy — he’s the only surviving character from a bad MMF novel I trashed, and he deserved to be happy. But mostly, I wanted to explore the effects of complex trauma on someone and the way in which it affects their ability to maintain healthy relationships.
Are you happy with where you left us at the end?
Yes yes yes. Calhoun doesn’t fix everything but he helps. I think that’s important: he’s not riding in and offering some easy solution to a complex trauma. But he starts Audie on a road to getting there, something that Audie desperately needed. Audie gets a HFN. But I promise I love him too much not to give him a HEA.
Julia McBryant has a new MM contemporary book out: "Hurricane Dreams."
Audie Currell, the only son of one of the richest families in Charleston, runs off from his parent's wine tasting with his father's business associate's son, Calhoun Chatterton, another well-off teenager from Savannah. They start dating in secret. But Audie's abusive childhood stands in the way of an authentic relationship — as does their family's homophobia. They have to hide their relationship while coping with Audie's trauma. Can two naive teenagers manage such a difficult task?
The Southern Seduction series chronicles the interconnected lives of a group of well-off, high society young adults in Savannah, Georgia, most of whom have known each other since kindergarten. Their complicated relationships (and unconventional sexcapades) form the meat of the series, along with a careful attention to chronology, character, and prose. More than romantic erotica, the Southern Seduction series details a fully realized world of drama, theme, and most of all, memorable characters.
Julia is giving away a $20 Amazon gift certificate with this tour, as well as eBook copies of It’s Enough, Like Sunshine, and Slow Dance. Enter via Rafflecopter:
Direct Link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4782/?
“God, I fucking love your car. You’re super hot and you come with a Porsche Carrerra. Jesus, Audie. Are you seriously real?”
“Are you?” Audie laughs and tucks Calhoun’s hair behind his ears. He still can’t believe the things he says to Calhoun every goddamn day. Audie never imagined using words like these with another person. You don’t hand your heart to someone else. As soon as you do, you know it’s going to shatter one day. It reminds him of a hurricane slamming down the Carolina low country, Hugo or another big one: you can’t stop the storm from coming. You can only close the shutters and pray the seawall holds.
Audie tries to catch Calhoun’s hand when they get to the restaurant, but his boyfriend shakes his head. “We can’t.”
“Not at all?” Audie asks.
“No. But we can go out to Tybee.”
Calhoun seems to relax with the change of scenery. Audie thinks some alcohol helps too. It helps Audie. Always has, since he was fifteen years old. He doesn’t share that with Calhoun. Some things you just don’t tell anyone. Like, my daddy belted me bloody. Or, his business partner’s daughter Easter stood there terrified while it happened. And that’s why I bought bourbon the first time.
You don’t say it. The same way you don’t talk about high school.
The Savannah heat slams them when they come out of the restaurant. “Been hitting like, a hundred this week,” Calhoun says. “At least Tybee has the sea breeze. You really don’t swim at all?”
“No,” Audie says. “But I’ll wade.” Another thing you don’t say: why you don’t swim. My daddy marooned me in a pontoon boat when I was eleven because he said I had to get over my fear of bull sharks. Told me to swim over to his boat and we could go home. It took me four goddamn hours to get the courage to do it and it was the worst thing in the world and I will never get in the ocean again ever. You say: I have this shark phobia. Can’t shake it, sorry. You can tell the truth without telling it. You can come close to a thing without touching it at all.
Calhoun directs him down East Bay Street onto the highway. They leave the windows down and let the wind whip their hair, Audie’s into a curly froth, Calhoun’s into mermaid tangles. Audie blasts the Charleston band Jump, Little Children, who Calhoun’s never heard and Audie’s seen a million times. “They’re really good,” Calhoun yells over the wind and the music, between bites of the black licorice he dug out of his bag. Audie had laughed when he unearthed it. “We should go see them sometime.”
Audie snorts. “Maybe if they play Columbia,” he shouts. “Not seeing you in Charleston again. Stupid. Just have to act like friends.”
“Same in Savannah.”
“Should say we chartered a boat in Pauley’s Island or Georgetown next time with some friends. Maybe the Outer Banks. I could even summon up some friends if we needed.”
“Say we went fishing and picked up girls. Send pictures of fish and girls to our daddies.” Audie laughs even though it’s not funny and he’s not joking and Calhoun nods.
Calhoun’s Tybee house sits on the water, huge and modern, all sleek lines. “I love this house,” Calhoun says as they park underneath it.
“Hate that hurricanes’ll always take a beach house,” Audie says. “Hate it for our Folly house.”
Calhoun looks at him kind of strange. “I guess.”
They walk hand-in-hand, bags slung over their shoulders, up the stairs. Calhoun shuts the door behind them and Audie has him against the wall. “This okay now that we’re at the beach?” he says, intentionally talking right into Calhoun’s ear.
“Yeah,” Calhoun breathes. “Doesn’t matter in this house.”
Audie moves his leg between his boyfriend’s thighs. “Because I want you real bad.” He knows Calhoun likes it when he talks to him.
“Want you too.” Audie feels him stiffening.
Audie kisses him hard, like before, but his time braces himself against the wall and pins Calhoun against it completely. His boyfriend thrusts against him. God, Audie loves this. He loves that Calhoun loves this. He moves slightly so their cocks rub against each other through their thin shorts. Their belts clink and it’s somehow one of the hottest sounds Audie’s ever heard. He breaks off the kiss and moves to Calhoun’s ear again. “Go into the bedroom,” he says, “And get your fucking clothes off. I missed you and I want you.” Audie’s pretty sure Calhoun wants him to talk like this, and he wants to talk to Calhoun like this, and he thinks he can get away with it.
He knows he can when Calhoun sort of sucks in a breath and moves on him. “Okay,” he says. “Okay, Audie.”
Calhoun leads him into a big room with a king-sized bed. He strips. Audie rummages in his bag and takes out what they need, then takes his own clothes off. Calhoun watches. Audie knows his boyfriend’s watching, but when he looks up, Calhoun drops his eyes. Audie hopes he doesn’t fuck this up. They’ve only done it twice, once the afternoon in his beach house and once the next morning, which makes a total of two times Audie’s ever had sex in his entire life. Calhoun doesn’t know that and Audie isn’t telling.
“Get on the bed,” Audie orders. God, he’s wanted to say things like this his whole life. Every time, he gets bossier and bossier and Calhoun loves it more and more. Obediently, his boyfriend pulls down the bedspread and sheets, climbs into bed and waits for Audie. Who takes his goddamn time getting over there. Calhoun looks too good lying on his side, watching Audie with those big eyes and a hard cock. He messes with it a little, which makes everything better.
Julia McBryant is, as the saying goes, Southern born, Southern bred, and when she dies, she’ll be Southern dead. When she’s not riding her horse or writing, Julia likes to play with her German Shepherds and rescued greyhounds, make all the crafts (especially those involving glitter), and hike, especially in the North Carolina mountains. She is grateful her husband tolerates both the dogs and the glitter.
However, she spends most of her time writing like tomorrow won't arrive, like she needs it to survive, every second she's alive, etc. (see Hamilton for details). She also lives to sing in the car, especially David Bowie.
Author Website: https://www.juliamcbryant.com
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Dreamspinner Press/DSP Publications
*Big sigh* Dreamspinner Press.
I've been with this publisher since 2011 and this current situation is difficult.
There is a lot of talk going around social media about DSP, some true, some less than true, some a mixture. Lots and lots of opinions.
I won't bore you with details or my opinions on this current situation.
There are, however, a few things I'd like to say.
DSP has employees. Other than upper management those people are just that, employees and probably know just as much about this situation as the rest of us. They're not responsible, and I have friends who are contract people who have told me they're owed money as well. They're in the same boat as the authors. Please don't be mean to them. Please direct your anger where it belongs...those in charge of the financial management of the company.
Buying books. If you have bought, or are planning to purchase any of my books THANK YOU! Do NOT under any circumstances feel guilty about where or whom you purchase books from. Buy your books from the retailer, be it publisher, or Amazon, or Kobo or whoever, that you like and are comfortable with. Really, at the end of the day, all I truly care about is that people enjoy the stories I write.
I've asked for the rights to all my DSP and DSPP books back. Sentries is no longer for sale anywhere but rerelease of those titles will begin in October from JMS Books LLC as the publisher. If you see them for sale anywhere between now and Oct 12, those books are being sold illegally and I'd appreciate it if you'd let me know. The exception is the paperbacks being sold by private individuals on places like Amazon.
Until the rights for my other books published by DSP are reverted to me they'll remain on sale wherever DSP places them. That's legal and I have no issue with it. As I understand it if you've purchased a book through DSP directly and it's on your bookshelf there, it will not go away once my rights are returned. If you have a question about purchasing feel free to contact me, I'll do my best to help. I'll post updates here and on my website when and where other books will be rereleased as the information becomes available.
I can't stress enough, not a single author or a single reader or a single blog owner or reviewer is responsible for what is going on at DSP. I personally know many authors who've emailed with questions and comments. Some get answers, most do not. Some talk about it on social media, some do not.
I will continue to support my fellow authors, which means I might share their releases on social media, have them on my blog or in my newsletter. Where they publish their books is not my business. I'm supporting the person who wrote the book, not the entity its published through.
As always, thank you for your support,
The Art of Death by Bob Appavu
Note: This title was originally published under an alternate pen name. This second edition has been re-edited and significantly updated.
Bob Appavu has a new gay urban fantasy out: "Art of Death."
Starving artist Riley Burke refuses to be dependent on his rich older boyfriend—hence his second job as a nude model at the local art school. When the famous artist Coliaro requests him for a private modeling session, he jumps at the chance to earn some real cash.
But then Westwood, a mysterious stranger, warns him to steer clear—it's said Coliaro is undead. That his worshippers perform rituals to fill him with life energy. That every time he paints a male nude, the painting transforms to depict a gruesome murder. And that shortly after, a young man turns up dead.
Riley dismisses the rumors—until they start to play out before his eyes. When he becomes a target, Westwood comes to his aid. But Westwood is secretive and dangerous himself... which just makes him more attractive to Riley. Riley is in over his head, and even his tenuous alliance with Westwood might not save him.
A young artist's life changes forever when he stumbles upon the secret society of the undead... and those who defend humanity from the depravity of their brethren. Lychgate protects the innocent from the monsters stalking the shadows, and Riley and his undead lover, Westwood, must fight together or lose each other.
Bob is giving away a $10 Amazon gift card with this tour. Enter via Rafflecopter:
Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/b60e8d4779/?
Upon reaching Nick’s house, Riley turned off his headlights, eased into the driveway, and parked outside the garage. He’d been racked with guilt throughout the drive, unable to think about anything but the future murder he’d failed to prevent. He tried to tell himself that maybe he’d at least saved Levi from a trip to Coliaro’s bedroom, but it was no consolation.
He wasn’t doing any good for anyone. When had he everdone good for anyone besides himself?
You’re wallowing, he told himself as he sat, stalling, with his hands on the wheel. He gave his head a brisk shake to break the string of invasive thoughts.
But shutting down his thoughts didn’t mean he’d ceased to believe them. As he climbed out of his car, he felt crushed by the weight of the guilt he couldn’t ignore.
He’d leave his car in the driveway. He didn’t want to wake Nick with the squealing of the garage door. After sliding out of the car, he gently pushed the driver’s side door shut and turned toward the house.
Westwood stood at the hood of the Corolla, his face hidden in shadow. Riley cried out and stumbled back against the side of the car. “Shit, Westwood!”
Westwood didn’t speak. Riley waited for his heartbeat to return to a normal pace, and Westwood continued to stand without offering any explanation.
“What are you doing here?” Riley asked at last, his voice hushed. “My boyfriend is inside.”
Westwood hesitated. Then, softly, he whispered, “I had to make sure.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Coliaro told me he was going to… do things to you. Did he?”
“He didn’t do anything.” Riley crossed his arms over his chest. “Why do you care? After our phone conversation, I was under the impression you were pissed at me.”
“I am. You were an idiot going after Coliaro like that. But that doesn’t mean I want you maimed or tortured. I’ve known Coliaro for a long time, and he doesn’t make empty threats.”
Riley looked past Westwood toward the house. The curtains were drawn over all the windows, and he couldn’t tell if Nick had waited up for him. “Listen, I just want to go to sleep.”
Westwood reached out without warning, tilting Riley’s chin back. His eyes appeared oddly reflective in the dark as he examined Riley’s neck. His gaze traveled down, pausing on Riley’s wrists. Riley pulled back, bracing himself against his car. “It’s only a couple rope burns on my wrists and a few scratches from falling into the bushes. No big deal.”
Riley had a feeling he would have been more convincing if his voice hadn’t cracked on the last few words. Westwood narrowed his eyes, and Riley felt himself begin to tremble. He’d been so trapped in his guilt that he hadn’t realized how shaken he was. Now, in front of Westwood, was not the time he’d wanted to make that discovery. Swiftly he turned away, cursing under his breath as his tremors intensified.
He could feel Westwood’s gaze on him, scrutinizing him. “I’m tired,” Riley told him, his voice choked. “That’s all.”
A warm hand on his back snapped him into awareness. His muscles went rigid and he turned, meeting Westwood’s eyes. Westwood ran his hand slowly up and down Riley’s spine, easing his tremors. Riley shuddered, alarmed at the potency of Westwood’s touch and dismayed by how badly he wanted more.
He reveled in the warmth of Westwood’s soft caress, closing his eyes and breathing in deep. This was exactly what he needed—a calm, reassuring hand.
Westwood could barely stand to keep his hand on Riley. Riley’s tormented energy crackled under his fingers like static electricity, shooting through his veins and jolting him to his core.
Riley had fooled him. He’d stepped out of his car wearing a shell so stoic and emotionless he could have passed for undead. But the moment Westwood had touched him, his ruse collapsed. Riley had been concealing a hurricane of emotion just below the surface, and with a single touch, it flooded the dams.
Riley’s emotion poured into Westwood. It filled his heart, shooting upward and tightening his throat, sparking wetness behind his eyes. He blinked, and a tear fell from his eye. Not his own tear—the tear Riley refused to shed.
Shit, this was painful. He couldn’t bear it. But if he let go….
If he let go, then Riley would have to face the hurricane alone again. Right now, Westwood’s touch seemed to be the only thing calming the storm. He couldn’t withdraw.
Bracing himself, he blinked out another of Riley’s tears and tightened his grip.
Riley didn’t want Westwood to let go—ever. Westwood’s touch calmed his heart in a way he hadn’t felt in years.
Why? How? This was Westwood, the same man who barely had a grasp on empathy or emotion. Yet he was somehow capable of freeing Riley from the prison of his stress and panic. Riley wanted to say something to him, but he had no idea what to say.
After a long, shaky pause, he opened his mouth to speak, and Westwood immediately withdrew, as if assuming Riley was about to protest. Westwood took a couple of steps back, giving Riley space, and Riley almost groaned with disappointment. More than anything, he wanted that hand on him again. He wanted that surprisingly gentle touch.
Westwood lingered. If Riley didn’t know better, he would have thought Westwood didn’t want to leave him alone. When Westwood finally spoke, it seemed to take him considerable effort. “I only came to make sure you made it home alive,” he said gruffly. “Go inside and sleep.”
Riley considered calling back to him, asking him to stay awhile. But by the time he managed to find his voice, Westwood had already disappeared into the shadows.
Bob Appavu is an author, illustrator, and creator of the long-running LGBTQ+ webcomic Demon of the Underground. Born and raised in a conservative Chicago suburb to South Indian parents, Bob turned to reading at an early age to find the inclusive, illuminating worlds that couldn’t always be accessed in real life. Bob recalls spending most of the 90s at the local bookstore feigning interest in the poetry anthologies that were conveniently shelved next to the LGBT fiction.
As a queer writer who enjoys challenging conventions and pushes creative boundaries, Bob has a passion for crafting the types of stories she can’t readily find on the shelf and the types of characters who are often denied the spotlight. Bob is a lover of suspense, speculative fiction, and deep world building, but her greatest joy is portraying the full scope of her queer characters’ humanity.
Bob is an incurable workaholic whose preferred fuel is tea. When not at work, she enjoys caring for rescued ferrets.
Author Website: https://www.bobappavu.com
Author Twitter: https://twitter.com/bobappavu
Author Tumbler: https://bob-artist.tumblr.com/
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