Undercover In Paradise by John Patrick

Title: Undercover in Paradise

Series: Paradise, Book Two

Author: John Patrick

Publisher:NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/25/2022

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 72000

Genre: Science Fiction, LGBTQIA+, New adult, MM romance, humorous, postapocalypse, transgender, religious order, anxiety, dark, blackmail, undercover DEA agent

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Description

DEA Agent Hector Ramirez is on his first undercover mission. He’s been sent to a Buddhist monastery deep in the woods of Maine, where he’s investigating a confusing web of connections between a Peruvian drug gang, a prominent Mormon family and the monastery’s leaders.

Dallin Rigby, the young son of a prominent Mormon family, has been sent on a year-long retreat while the scandal associated with his mission to Peru dies down. The men, the sex, the blackmail tape—there’s a lot to get past. He’s not looking forward to a year in the middle of nowhere, but the presence of the attractive Brother Hector might make his time in exile more bearable.

No one at the isolated monastery is aware of the disaster unfolding outside its walls, as a man-made virus sweeps the globe, killing nearly everyone. Cut off from his contacts, and with dwindling supplies, Hector sets out with Dallin to learn what has happened. As the attraction between the two men grows, Hector begins to question the necessity of remaining undercover. But is it too late for him to finally be honest with Dallin, about his job and about himself?

Excerpt

My boss pressed his fingers onto the top of my desk and leaned well into my personal space.

“I just sent you an email,” he said with a suspicious grin. “Open it, Special Agent.” I hated how he sneered at my new title. Until last week, I’d been Hector Ramirez, New Agent Trainee, the lowest of the DEA’s investigative ranks. I liked Special Agent better.

He stood there looming over me. So, I guessed we were doing this right now. I closed my expense report and clicked on his email. There was no title and no text. Just a link to what looked like an encrypted video. Was this a test? I hovered my mouse pointer over the link; nothing looked suspicious. I glanced up at him, a question on my face.

“Go ahead; it’s not a trick.” He paused for a moment. I could tell there was something else, so I waited. “It’s definitely NSFW, though.”

Okay. He wanted me to open a not-safe-for-work link. Now. At work.

I looked around the open space. My newly installed desk was wedged into a corner of the large operations room. There was no one nearby.

“You’ll like it. He’s just your type too,” he added.

What an asshole. He had no idea what my type was, although he knew I was gay, of course, and trans. I’d had to be up front about that; the extortion risk in my line of work was just too high to try to keep that type of thing private.

Besides, it was one of the reasons I was here. I’d been brought on during a push to expand diversity in the ranks, and I knew for a fact most of the other agents thought that was the only reason I was here, which wasn’t true at all. I was as qualified—more qualified—than many of the other guys. Being gay and trans just gave me a shot at being considered for the job.

Behind my back, and sometimes just within range of my hearing, they’d call me a two-for. Two for one. Gay and Latino.

Or sometimes it meant trans and Latino. But never a three-for. The whole gay and trans thing really confused these guys. Sometimes I heard them whispering, “Why would you become a gay dude when you could already get guys as a chick?”

I shook my head to clear it and refocused on the possible trap my boss had set. “This is work-related, right? You’re ordering me to play this video, and it’s necessary for my job?” I was asking for the benefit of any cameras, official or unofficial, that might be capturing this moment.

“Very good, Ramirez. A healthy dose of skepticism and mistrust is necessary for a DEA agent, especially a new one.”

I waited.

“And, yes,” he said with a sigh, “I am ordering you to play this video.”

Good enough. I launched the video.

A naked young man walked past an expanse of windows, the view outside hidden by the closed drapes. He carried two bottles of water, and as the camera tracked his movement, it became apparent he was in a hotel room, possibly a suite, given the furniture and size of the space.

And, ha, ha, I get it. My type. He looked just like me—short and wiry with light coffee-colored skin and straight jet-black hair. I felt uncomfortably exposed sitting at my desk with Director Ferguson leaning in behind me. On the monitor, the man who looked like me took a few steps toward another naked man of similar build and color. The second man held a remote control and stood by a low table. A flat-screen TV mounted to the wall above displayed its own collection of naked men.

The first guy handed a bottle of water to the second, then ran his hand down the other man’s back. Great, the director and I were going to watch gay porn together at work. My parents would be so proud. The two men were speaking, but I couldn’t hear anything. I toggled the volume.

“Don’t bother. There’s no sound,” Ferguson said. “It gets better,” he added, a disturbingly gleeful tone to his voice. I had a bad feeling about this.

The two men turned together and walked to a bed, where they playfully tugged on the foot of yet a third man, lying on the oversized bed, just coming into view as the camera tracked their movements.

Now that the initial shock had faded, I began to pay attention to what I was seeing. First, the camera—it was too steady for a handheld, and it panned smoothly across the room following the men. I guessed it was positioned, possibly hidden, somewhere across the room and was being operated remotely. Second—the surroundings. It was a party room for sure. Empty bottles of alcohol, room service trays, and plates were scattered on desktops; dropped clothes and towels lay next to the bed.

The third man—the one on the bed—was coming fully into view. He looked very much like the others, which is to say like me, and he was laughing as the other two clambered onto the bed on top of him.

Why are we watching this?

“And, now, for something completely different…” my boss murmured.

The camera continued to pan across the bed and revealed, wow…a massive mountain of a blond-haired guy, young, early twenties maybe, and as naked as the others, with light, golden hair dusting his chest, belly, and thighs. I swallowed and tried not to react. He was on his back, his left arm holding the guy on the bed in a tight embrace. He looked…blissful. Maybe on drugs, but certainly in control of himself, so not drugged, exactly. Just…happy?

And, yeah, just my type. Like, exactly my type. But Director Ferguson couldn’t possibly know that. He must have been referring to the Latinos. I paused the video and swiveled my chair to look up at Ferguson. “Why are we watching this?” I asked.

“This is the Peruvian drug gang we’ve been tracking out of Bangor.”

Really? I reversed the video to get a better shot of the faces of the first two, grateful to move the young man with the golden hair off-screen. I studied them for a moment. I’d seen all the surveillance pictures we had of the Bangor gang. “They don’t look familiar,” I said.

“This was filmed in Peru.”

“Oh.” I was feeling lost. “So, who is—”

“Dallin Rigby,” Ferguson interrupted. “Twenty-two years old now. Twenty-one when the film was made. He’s a Mormon…”

Of course he is.

“But he’s about to attend a yearlong retreat in a Buddhist monastery. In Maine. Northern Maine.” He let that sink in.

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Meet the Author

John Patrick lives in the Berkshire Hills of Massachusetts, where he is supported in his writing by his husband and their terrier, who is convinced he could do battle with the bears that come through the woods on occasion (the terrier, that is, not the husband).

John is an introvert and can often be found doing introverted things like reading or writing, cooking, and thinking deep, contemplative thoughts (his husband might call this napping). He loves to spend time in nature—“forest bathing” is the Japanese term for it—feeling connected with the universe. But he also loathes heat and humidity, bugs of any sort, and unsteady footing in the form of rocks, mud, tree roots, snow, or ice. So, his love of nature is tempered; he’s complicated that way.

John and his husband enjoy traveling and have visited over a dozen countries, meeting new people, exploring new cultures, and—most importantly—discovering new foods. After such travels, John invariably comes down with a cold. During a trip to Japan in 2019, he was amazed by how many people wore surgical masks in public to protect both themselves and others from viruses. “Gosh,” John thought, “wouldn’t it be great if we’d do this in the US?” John sometimes regrets the wishes he makes.

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Second Chance by Anni Lee

Title: Second Chance

Series: Fighting Chance, Book Two

Author: Anni Lee

Publisher:NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/25/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50100

Genre: Contemporary, LGBTQIA+, music industry, gay, mafia, mobsters, crime romance, romance comedy, rom com, superstar romance, office romance, secret lovers, blackmail, scandal

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Description

Long before Jay McClintock and Brad Garza were music industry royalty, Jay was an ambitious intern and Brad was an awkward farm boy. But the ladder to the top was anything but smooth and anything but legal. And their relationship? That was anything but HR safe.

Getting ahead in the cut-throat world of the Los Angeles music industry means making some dark deals, and Jay was so eager to make his client (and crush) shine, that he was ready to make them all. As some bold moves have Brad’s popularity taking off into the stratosphere, Jay is digging himself deeper and deeper into the hole. If only he had known that the shovel belonged to the same men who ran his father off the road all those years ago.

Second Chance is the second book in the Fighting Chance series, following Jay McClintock’s career from an unlikely intern to a star writer, Brad Garza’s career from a humble farmer to a musician for the ages, and the trials that brought them together and tore them apart. If either man wants any chance of finding their Happily Ever After, they’ll have to face the past that made them head-on.

Excerpt

Second Chance
Anni Lee © 2022
All Rights Reserved

Chapter 1
Jay McClintock

“So what’s up, Jay Jay? Did you suddenly get a new idea for my next album?” Brad Garza sat across from me at Roast of the Magi, a trendy new coffee shop off Sunset and Vine. He wore sunglasses over his dark eyes and a ball cap over his short, dark brown hair, hoping he might disguise himself just enough to dissuade the usual onslaught of fans. Though that exquisite voice and Latin charm could hardly be contained by a few well-placed accessories.

“Not quite.” I handed him the manila envelope full of photos. He pulled out the pages one by one, examining each image as though he was auditioning for a lead role as a forensic scientist. Once he reached the last page, he slid the photos back into their envelope and sat back in his chair.

“Where did you get this?” His voice had lost its usual playful luster.

“Someone left it on my doorstep and rang the doorbell. They were gone before I managed to answer.”

“Couldn’t get dressed fast enough, I’d wager.” Brad rolled his eyes. “I can still smell him on you, you know. You couldn’t have at least showered first before coming to see me?”

“This felt too urgent.” I heaved a sigh. Poor judgement on my part. Where was my head? “Whether you approve of my relationship or not is hardly the point right now.”

A smile returned to Brad’s lips, and he relaxed into his chair. “Of course, of course. I guess I can’t be too mad if your first thought was to come see me.” His arrogance never faltered. Though he wasn’t wrong. I’d known Brad for the better part of ten years. The better part of my life after the crash. And just through the better parts of my life. He was a constant who I could always rely on, his support never even wavering in the harshest parts of our breakup. Our relationship might have been over, but our friendship never would be.

Roland was who I wanted, now and in the future, but I didn’t want to include him in my past if I didn’t have to. I would tell him everything once the coast was clear. I knew that was selfish, and he would see it as unfair, but…I would rather be selfish than put him in danger. Though perhaps getting involved with me has already put him in danger.

I shook my head to dismiss the thought and returned my attention to Brad. “‘All debts must one day be paid.’” I recited the final note from memory. “I barely even know what counts as debt anymore. I think we’ve both racked up enough to file for bankruptcy.”

“Bankruptcy…or maybe a really nice pair of coffins.” He chuckled, an inappropriate amount of amusement in his eyes. “You know, our contract is still valid even into the afterlife. Don’t think you’ll get to slack off if this turns sour.”

“I’m not sure which one of us should have gotten a better lawyer.” I laughed. “So what do you think it means?”

Brad stroked his lightly stubbled chin. “I was wondering that. I’m not sure if I’m more unnerved by the pictures of a mob boss with Jonathan, the ones with your dad, or the pictures that include the kid. I kind of expected to see myself in there, but the rest… I guess you weren’t exactly good at staying out of trouble even after you got put in witness protection.”

“I never did find out what kinds of debts my father had wracked up to justify running him off the road all those years ago. The detectives weren’t terribly forthright.”

“Clearly,” Brad said while peeking into the envelope again. “I don’t know what he owed them, but I know what we do.”

“Right.” I frowned.

“Honestly, I haven’t thought about those times in quite a while. Well, not the bad parts anyway.”

“Do you still think about the good parts?” I knew what he was implying, but I admittedly blocked just about all of it out of my mind. The good parts seemed far and in between in hindsight.

“Of course.” Brad shook his head. “You can never forget where you came from.”

You can never forget where you came from? Maybe that’s true, but I could still try.

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Meet the Author

Whether she’s racing motorcycles faster than a RomCom lead’s beating heart, or scuba diving deeper than the pit of love they fall into, Anni Lee is always down for an adventure. She was born and raised in Los Angeles with four siblings and a single mother, which is probably why she has such a penchant for writing big city love and tenacious (albeit dysfunctional) heroes.

When she’s not typing away behind her laptop, she’s living out of a tent off the back of her motorcycle on her quest to ride around the world. The wilderness is the best place to catch up on reading, after all!

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Legally Claimed by Alexa Piper

Title: Legally Claimed

Series: Elvenswood Tales 5

Author: Alexa Piper

Publisher: Changeling Press

Release Date: January 7, 2022

Heat Level: 4 – Lots of Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 156

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Thriller/Suspense, Action Adventure, Dark Fantasy, Paranormal, Urban fantasy, Elves, Dragons & Magical Creatures, Gay, Magic, Vampires, Werewolves & Wolf Shifters

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Synopsis

Peter is good at being a lawyer. He also happens to be a vampire, which — in his experience — is far less exciting than the books make it out to be. The most romance he gets these days is watching others fall in love. But this vicarious lifestyle isn’t something Peter minds or even wants to change.

Theo escaped an abusive relationship and is determined to get his college degree, even if prostitution is how he pays for it. No stranger to the supernatural, he has agreed to let vampires bite him for money, but his first client in the new city is nothing like Theo expected.

Peter has no good reason to tuck Theo into bed after that blood donation, but he does. Peter also has no reason to fantasize about Theo, and yet, Peter’s mind is soon drifting to the pretty, black-haired, jade-eyed boy he doesn’t even really know.

A chance encounter at New Elvenswood University brings Peter’s fantasies close to reality. Theo’s vampiric ex soon becomes a problem Peter will have solve. And he won’t use his skills as a lawyer to do it, either.

Excerpt

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2022 Alexa Piper

Sitting behind his desk at his law firm, Peter Collins stared at the spreadsheet that was currently open on his work laptop. But the columns and all the numbers made no sense. Spreadsheets never did when Peter hadn’t had some nice fresh blood in a while, even if he normally loved himself some Excel magic. Sighing theatrically for the benefit of exactly no one because he was alone in his office, Peter leaned back in his ergonomically optimized chair and glared at the damned spreadsheet. It still made no sense, and obviously, his glaring was wasted on the damn screen. With a dismissive gesture, Peter closed his laptop and got to his feet.

He had the corner office, naturally, because he had founded the law firm Collins & Partners. Most days he liked the room that had been designed with an eye to justifying what his clients were billed for an hour of his lawyery time. But right this moment, Peter couldn’t spend another second in here because the cubist paintings just seemed gaudy.

Peter swung the glass door open with a touch and hurried down the hallway, the nice scowl on his face forcing everyone to move out of his way. Peter barged into Michael’s office, and the handsome siren looked up.

“Anything you need?” Michael asked.

Oh, Peter had a list of things he conceivably needed from Michael, and that list had grown ever since Michael had started working for him. At first, Peter had entertained thoughts of a nice, tempestuous affair with the delicious-looking siren. Peter had never had siren’s blood, and he’d wondered what Michael’s blood would taste like in the throes of passion.

However, Michael had not been interested, and Peter was not one to force his own desire on others because, the bother. Then, Michael had started dating a human, the cutest little librarian in all New Elvenswood, and that had been better, because Peter got to watch those two being adorable together. He’d also gotten to watch the cutie-pie librarian go up against a Yule cat to protect Michael, and then the three of them had enjoyed a vacation with a little zombie extravaganza on the entertainment front. It had been such fun.

Now, Peter’s siren and the cute librarian were planning their wedding, and Peter, to whom the sweet little librarian had given the epithet “the Terrible,” felt he was not involved enough. Yet, Peter could not outright state the injustice, because then he would have to explain his desire to be more involved, and the bother.

But still, in the face of a properly engaged Michael doing some paperwork or other, all Peter wanted to say was that he needed to be consulted on wedding decisions.

The goddamn bother. “Just checking in. I wanted to make sure you were dealing with your current caseload. I would understand if you needed more time with Corvin right now.”

Michael smiled up at Peter. “It’s fine, actually. Corvin’s excited and he’s still processing that his best friend is dating an Elf. And a vampire.”

Peter nodded. “Those are Lord Laurette’s lovers, yes?” That sweet, bookish Corvin was friends with one of the Elven lord’s lovers was, frankly, a wonderful happenstance. Peter had high hopes of meeting them and watching <em>that</em> story unfold. If an Elf such as Laurette of the Silver Moons had claimed two lovers, that romance truly had to be epic. Peter would like nothing better than to watch that love story from the sidelines, but still close enough to where the action was happening. Michael and Corvin would always be Peter’s favorites, but an Elf, a human, and a vampire? There was just no way that was not a romance built for swooning over in secret.

Michael nodded. “Yes. Corvin can’t believe he had to be engaged to a siren and survive a horde of zombies before getting told about all that.”

“Understandable. Perhaps we should go to the library? To surprise your Corvin, of course. I should like to make sure he is fine after that drama with the garden shears in Morrowvale.”

Really, Michael had to give Peter that. It wasn’t an unreasonable request, and Peter loved seeing Michael and Corvin kiss, touch — all that wonderful intimacy.

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Meet the Author

Alexa Piper writes steamy romance that ranges from light to dark, from straight to queer. She’s also a coffee addict. Alexa loves writing stories that make her readers laugh and fall in love with the characters in them. Connect with Alexa on Facebook or Instagram, follow her on Twitter or TikTok, and subscribe to her newsletter!

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Melting the Ice Witch by Mell Eight

Title: Melting the Ice Witch

Series: Dragon’s Hoard, Book Four

Author: Mell Eight

Publisher:NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/18/2022

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 27400

Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, mythical creatures, dragon shifters, witches, tundra

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Description

The Tribe of the White Dragon has lived in the frozen wastes of the north for thousands of years, but they are slowly dying without their dragon to protect them from the inhospitable cold.

In desperation, they kidnap Kam, hoping to use him to breed witch power back into the Tribe. But Kam is not a witch, and there is nothing he can do to save them—until he sees the white dragon encased in ice and all alone and a chain reaction is set off that may save them after all.

Excerpt

Melting the Ice Witch
Mell Eight © 2022
All Rights Reserved

“In the before times, when the cold ice and biting wind were welcoming to our kind, dragons flew,” the old storyteller warbled. The man was bent and gray, and his crabbed hands shook on his gnarled staff, but his voice still held the power that had made him the storyteller of the Tribe in his youth.

“The golden dragon rained fire and melted the ice, and the white dragon taught the Tribe the spells to survive the difficult, yet beautiful, climate. Together, the gold and white kept these plains of ice tamed, and the Tribe survived in plenty.”

The old man’s voice reached Kam even from the other side of the fire. Warmth in the ice wastes was hard to come by, especially for one not of the Tribe, so Kam appreciated his place near the flickering flames. His brown hair was city short, which meant his ears and neck were exposed to the cold wind. The barbarians all had hair that reached well down their backs, tied in intricate braids with feathers and stones woven throughout. None had hair more elaborate than Lor, the man with the snow-white hair and ice blue eyes who had the seat of honor next to the storyteller.

“But—” The storyteller’s voice darkened, and Kam felt his chest clench at the ominous tone. “—such times were not meant to last. The golden one gathered his followers around him and declared that for the happiness of dragon-kind they must separate themselves from the wars of humans. No more deaths of dragons, was the golden one’s goal, but the white dragon disagreed with his methods.

“They fought with their words, their arguments echoing through the icy canyons, but neither would back down. The white dragon knew that to abandon the humans was to allow the Tribe, his hoard, to die in the ice wastes. But the golden one wished to keep his kin alive and to do so he needed to rule the humans, not be ruled by human whim.

“The best of friends, and possibly lovers, the golden dragon and the white dragon never spoke again. All but the white dragon flew south, where the plains are formed of grass rather than ice. There they settled in the mountains. They built a city for the humans in the foothills. And the white dragon withdrew to the ice caves, alone.”

The storyteller bowed his head in sadness, but Lor’s piercing eyes scanned the assembled members of the Tribe.

“So we survive.” Lor continued the story. His voice was strong, but as the leader of the Tribe, he had to be. Lor was the tallest and most muscular of all the barbarians, and he was the only witch the clan still had. “Bereft of the dragons who allowed us life in the barren waste of ice and snow, the Tribe learned new ways to survive. We adapted, so after tens of thousands of years, we still live.” Kam looked around at the assembled Tribe and frowned. There were barely sixty people of all ages and genders still remaining in the circle around the fire. He had learned that there was another clan to the northwest with equal numbers. But most alarmingly, there were only two witches left: Lor and the man named Bay who led the other clan. There were no female witches to pass the traits on, nor had any of Lor’s children, grandchildren, or great-grandchildren shown any aptitude during Lor’s hundreds of years of life.

The Tribe was dying.

That was why Kam had been brought north. The only way to invigorate the clans was to breed more witch blood into the lines. The hope was if Kam were to have a child with one of the descendants of Lor, maybe a child with powers could be born. But Kam wasn’t a witch, and he hadn’t exactly been asked before he was kidnapped and taken to the ice wastes.

“We live and we are strong,” Lor continued. “The Tribe of the White Dragon does not fade away!”

The barbarians cheered loudly around Kam, but Kam didn’t join them. As the assemblage broke up, Kam returned to his small tent. Once the barbarians had been sure he wouldn’t run away—as if there were some way to survive in the endless ice wastes for a city-bred boy—they had given Kam his own space. The tent was small, with barely enough room for bedding and a small wooden chest filled with the meager belongings he had accumulated in the last few weeks, but it was heavy with furs and thick woolen blankets that kept the cold and the wind out. Kam curled up in his bed, glad when his blankets began to warm with his body heat, and closed his eyes.

The barbarians were nice enough despite the fact that he couldn’t give them what they wanted. And it was better than being back in the city. Kam went to sleep with that thought firmly in mind. As much as he had disliked being kidnapped and taken to the barren north, it was still better than what he endured in the city. His thoughts focused on those times as he drifted to sleep.

«

“Kam, Kam, the witchery man,” the kids sang as Kam walked past them. He ducked his head, but otherwise kept himself from acknowledging their taunts. His mother hadn’t exactly been discreet with her passions, and lying with the resident witch had supposedly produced Kam. Since the man in question was a charlatan and his mother had never actually said he was Kam’s father before they both died…well, all that didn’t matter to everyone else. To them, Kam had witch blood, and in his part of the city, he was someone to be ridiculed.

Kam pushed his way into the small shop where he worked. The bell jingled overhead.

“Kameron, you’re late!” the harpy who was his boss screeched from behind the front counter. As usual, the place was dirty and the goods covered the shelves with haphazard organization. The sour smell that had appeared early last week had only grown worse overnight.

“Sorry, ma’am,” Kam murmured, ducking his head further as he wended his way through the mishmash stacks of random goods and into the back room. The pawnshop bought and sold everything. Sailors on leave after making the journey down the Great River came to the shop to sell what they could so they would have the funds to drink and carouse in the bars and whorehouses that also populated that part of the docks.

It was Kam’s job to clean and fix those often grimy and broken items so the owner could in turn sell them for profit to a higher quality pawnshop in the northern part of the city. It paid well for the woman, but Kam only saw a few coins a week for his work. As the witchery man he was lucky to have a job, so as much as Kam wished, there was no way he could find better prospects.

Kam worked hard for his pay, and at the end of the day his hands ached, but his quota was met. He left the shop at dusk and hurried home. He couldn’t tarry, because the docks became very dangerous after dark, and since his rent was due, he couldn’t afford to stop for dinner anyway.

He walked up the three flights of rickety stairs to his tiny apartment. It was one room, barely large enough to hold his threadbare bedding and one change of clothes, but it was a place to sleep. He had left one window cracked while he was away so the three cats that had crept in during the previous night could leave if they wished. The family of mice that lived under his floorboards were running about, so Kam was careful where he placed his feet as he walked over to collapse on his blanket.

One of the mice climbed up onto his pillow and gently nuzzled him on the nose. The mouse was hungry, too, and was probably looking for crumbs, but Kam appreciated the meager comfort his small friend could provide. Kam smiled, despite his rumbling stomach, as he slowly fell asleep.

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Meet the Author

When Mell Eight was in high school, she discovered dragons. Beautiful, wondrous creatures that took her on epic adventures both to faraway lands and on journeys of the heart. Mell wanted to create dragons of her own, so she put pen to paper. Mell Eight is now known for her own soaring dragons, as well as for other wonderful characters dancing across the pages of her books. While she mostly writes paranormal or fantasy stories, she has been seen exploring the real world once or twice.

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Returning Heroes by Harry F. Fry

Title: Returning Heroes

Series: The Galactic Captains, Book Six

Author: Harry F. Rey

Publisher:NineStar Press

Release Date: 01/11/2022

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage

Length: 83100

Genre: SciFi, LGBTQIA+, action,adventure, aliens, dark, MM romance, #ownvoices, royalty, sci-fi, futuristic, space, folklore, gods, intercultural, interspecies, war of worlds

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Description

Captain Ales has returned to the galaxy, forever changed as the powers have prepared for war. He’ll accept help from anyone if it leads to the mysterious Turo from whose cage Ales must free himself if he ever wants to return to the Red Moon.

Meanwhile Daeron has been offered the deal of a lifetime by the ruler of the Seven Suns. Marry Osvai, the Kyleri prince, and become heir to the richest star-state in the galaxy while raising an army to restore the prince to his rightful place as Emperor of the Million Suns.

But Viscamon’s grip on Jiwani has only tightened as the nobles imprisoned in the Royal Baths still refuse to bow to the immortal’s cataclysmic theology of destroying the Galactic Balance. It seems the only way for Imperial Guard Captain Antari to avoid a massacre is outright treachery.

While dynasties play galactic politics, the Outer Verge is being torn apart. From a prison cell, Mahnoor watches The Rip destroying Targuline, until the Kyleri rebels offer him the chance to save himself by flying into the heart of danger. He might even become Jansen’s most unlikely hero.

Heroes and villains run riot around the galaxy, unleashing destructive forces and sliding the great powers toward a war from which no one will be safe.

Excerpt

Returning Heroes
Harry F. Rey © 2022
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The sleek, spacious travel pod sliced through the swirling burnt-orange clouds of Bazman. Daeron edged forward on the puffed, pillowy chair that consistently failed to relax him. He tugged at the high collar of his pure-white Dalvian silk jacket—yet another gift from President Ezreal. He stared out the window at the spindly towers stretching in and out of the clouds above and below. The teeming city-world of Bazman, capital of the Confederation of the Seven Suns, supposedly the richest star-state in the Shakti Democria, was to Daeron no better than any of the thousands of worlds he’d been on. The rich lived above, flying around in these perfumed and carpeted pods, while the poor shuffled in and out of a noxious atmosphere far below.

Daeron could go anywhere he wanted on Bazman; no store, restaurant, menagerie, or cultural complex was too exclusive for President Ezreal’s new favorite son. Six weeks ago, they’d barely escaped the Kyleri fleet which had blown up Aldegar’s megacollider. Daeron and the remaining crew of the Daring Huntress chased Turo and the double-crossing Ezi into the Shakti Nebula, only to end up invited to land here by Ezreal’s security forces. On Bazman, where he could go anywhere at all, just not leave.

“What’s wrong now, Daeron?” Osvai said, relaxing in his similarly styled—but all black—Dalvian silk suit. The missing heir to the Kyleri Empire sipped on a Lactarian malt from a crystal glass while grinning at an entertainment package broadcast on the holoscreen in front of his seat. Lest His Imperial Majesty get bored in the half hour it takes to get from Bazman’s presidential palace to the restaurant opening. Daeron glanced over at the prince who was now biting his lip to keep from laughing at the holovid. Daeron watched for a moment. He’d never seen anything so stupid.

“What’s so funny about people walking into things? It’s cruel.”

Osvai wasn’t listening. He gasped in laughter as some poor unsuspecting holo-person had a pile of trash dumped on their head. Daeron flung himself against the seat, but it only absorbed the shock and began to massage his lower back. Daeron could huff all he wanted, but Osvai had stopped caring about what bothered Daeron. He stroked his thick black beard, forgetting it was still glistening in the fancy oils Osvai made him use. Daeron wiped his greasy hand on the plush arm of the chair and returned to staring out the window at the traffic lanes of pods gliding through the clouds and between the towers—with no end and no beginning.

“Are Xenia and the rest of the crew coming tonight?” Daeron asked, breathing slowly through his nose, trying to let the fury of being stuck in a gilded prison subside. It wasn’t going anywhere. Just like him.

“They left.”

Daeron spun on the chair to face Osvai.

“They…left?”

“Yeah. Didn’t I tell you?” Osvai said, not looking up from the holovid. Daeron yanked at the silk collar constricting his neck, and it let out a satisfying rip.

“No…you didn’t tell me. That was…my crew. My ship.” Daeron was doing everything in his power to stay calm, but he knew his string was about to snap. Maybe if Osvai understood that, they wouldn’t spend half their nights screaming at each other in their apartment in the presidential palace.

“I guess they went to meet your mom.” Osvai drained his glass, then stretched and placed it inside an alcove grooved into the wall where a nozzle filled it back up. “Isn’t it her crew again now she’s back?”

Daeron fell into a sulking silence at the mention of his mom. Maybe Osvai knew him better than he thought. Because the moment Captain Sanya was raised, Daeron shut down. It had been weeks since she and that Tevian girlfriend of hers, Sallah, had crossed back through the horizon point with her brat, Ales. Had they come to see him? No. Daeron had only learned their mission had been successful from the newscasts. The returning hero Captain Ales, who apparently had an Ingvarian fleet at his disposal now, as well as the entire Outer Verge, had been spotted at the Mayo resort in the Central Star States. After their collective trauma, Captain Sanya, Sallah, and Ales had decided to play happy families and treat themselves to a little vacation at one of the most expensive systems in the galaxy.

It hurt Daeron hard. He’d still not seen her. Not even a holovid call. He stretched out his hand and opened his palm-tech to flick through the only messages his mom had sent since she’d returned.

The megacollider is gone then?

Yeah, as if a rebel Kyleri fleet blowing up an ancient sphere surrounding an entire sun had been his fault. Then, loving, motherly message number two.

Why is Osvai not back on Jiwani? And you lost Turo? Can’t you do anything right?

Good point. Why was Osvai not back on Jiwani?

“Don’t you care at all?” Daeron snapped, spitting his frustrations at Osvai. The prince finally looked up from the holovid, staring back with those thin eyes and sunset skin that Daeron couldn’t deny filled him with lust. Even if he was perpetually pissed off at him.

“Care about what, Daeron?”

“Your fucking empire.” Daeron stood up, kicking the chair hard so it spun like a ship out of control. Osvai drained his glass again and, with an overly audible sigh, came over to Daeron and slid his small arms as far around Daeron as they could go. But Daeron wriggled out of his half hug and slunk to the back of the pod, watching the dusty clouds spinning like a vortex as they flew.

“What do you want me to do, Daeron? Fight Viscamon for my throne with what army, exactly?”

“My mom said to take you home.”

“Oh, your mom said. It’s always the same story with you, Daeron. Your mom says you have to stay on Jiwani with a father you never knew, and you stayed. Your mom says look after me until I’m back on Jiwani, and you blame me for staying in the one place in the galaxy no one’s trying to kill me!”

Here we go. Another screaming match.

“Can we not do this now?” Daeron said, arms folded and his back to Osvai. “The president invited us to this restaurant opening, and since he’s the one keeping you safe and letting us stay for free, we don’t need you getting drunk and making a scene.”

“Excuse me?”

“Sorry, more drunk.”

Osvai sucked in a short breath. If they’d learned one thing about each other since escaping Jiwani together on the night of Osvai’s father, Emperor Kantori’s, assassination, it was how to push each other’s buttons.

“When was the last time you saw Xenia?” Osvai asked, lathered in bitterness. “Or Tal, or Bindi? Or even Voros? When was it? Kaj’s memorial service?”

“Shut up, Osvai.”

“You haven’t asked about them in weeks. So don’t pretend you didn’t know they’d leave. You didn’t want to know.”

“I said shut up!”

“You can say I’m afraid all you want. And yes, I am afraid of going back to Jiwani when Viscamon is imprisoning nobles until he’s blackmailed enough to crown himself emperor. That’s a normal thing to be scared of. But you—”

“Osvai, I’m fucking warning you.” Daeron spun around to see him sauntering around the pod with a look of victory splashed across his face.

“You might look like a big scary man, Daeron, but you’re just a little boy. Afraid of what his mommy will say.”

Daeron had already exploded. Fury prickled his body; sweat soaked the suit. He’d throw Osvai out of this pod if he could. His fists clamped together, ready to test just how much of a punch this glass could take.

“You have arrived at your destination,” the pod’s soft female voice said with a ding. “Have a pleasant evening.”

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NineStar Press | Books2Read

Meet the Author

Harry F. Rey is an author and lover of gay themed stories with a powerful punch with influences ranging from Alan Hollinghurst to Isaac Asimov to George R.R. Martin. He loves all things sci-fi and supernatural, and always with a gay twist. Harry is originally from the UK but lives in Jerusalem, Israel with his husband.

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