Release Blitz: Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

Title:  Bones and Bourbon

Author: Dorian Graves

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 23, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 102000

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Ace, bisexual, trans, faeries, dark, immortals

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Synopsis

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

Excerpt

Bones and Bourbon
Dorian Graves © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One: Retz
I woke up right when the teeth clamped down on my arm, which made me crank the wheel and almost ram into a guardrail before I realized I was driving. Neither of these things surprised me because it wasn’t the first time I’d woken up just in time to feel the hurt for whatever it was I’d unconsciously done.

What did surprise me was the identity of my attacker: a lone unicorn head. No body to speak of, just flaring nostrils, bloodshot eyes, and two rows of long, sharp teeth that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a shark.

I did the stupid thing and kept driving while I tried to shake the unicorn head off me. Why? Because I’m Retz Gallows, and I’d learned by then that even if I had no idea what I was doing when I woke up, I needed to get the job done first and ask what the fuck happened later.

I focused on the teeth that had broken through my skin (and my favorite shirt to boot) and were just striking my arm bones. My first order of business was strengthening my skeleton so the unicorn’s jaw couldn’t snap anything in half. It took just a few seconds for the bones to fortify, heavier but sturdy as stone. The unicorn gnawed my arm as if it were a chew toy. It snorted in confusion, both because of the sudden change and the fact that there was no blood or muscles in the way.

In case such wasn’t obvious, I’m not human. Well, not all the way. My father was a man of flesh, blood, and too many weapons hidden on him at any given time. But my mother was a huldra; her body was hollow, but she could still punch hard enough to stop a truck in its tracks. I’d seen her do it before too, though sadly, I hadn’t inherited nearly the same strength.

I imagined how nice it’d be if the unicorn’s teeth were fragile enough to crumble. As I did, bits of teeth stayed buried in my arm as the pieces fell apart, and the unicorn’s head fell unceremoniously into the passenger seat.

No, I hadn’t inherited the ability to control bones, even though sensing them was as natural to me as seeing and hearing. It’s a power my family wishes I’d never been given. But since I was pretty sure the unicorn head was no longer a threat, I decided it was time to ask the source of my powers what was going on.

“Nalem, you’d better not be asleep. Mind telling me where the hell we are?”

A deep, smooth voice purred an answer back in my head, “If you had bothered to look at the sign we just passed, you’d realize we’re in Oregon.”

“In case you didn’t notice, I was a bit preoccupied.”

A chuckle reverberated in my skull, and I felt the false sensation of my arms stretching, the ghost of Nalem’s actions. “Of course I did. I can tell when you’re borrowing my powers—and besides, who do you think left the head in here in the first place?”

I rounded another corner as the aforementioned head tried to headbutt my arm, horn-first. I realized I couldn’t affect the horn with my powers—it wasn’t quite bone, but something more magical that slipped away from my senses whenever I tried. So I just hardened my bones again and ignored the attack as I took in the scenery. True enough, we were on a half-paved road in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by evergreens that tried to block out the bright blue sky. It was late July, so deep into summer that not even Oregon’s fondness of rain kept the heat away. My windows were rolled down, seeing as the AC in my ancient Buick had died out long ago.

“Two questions, then. Where are we going, and why do we have a unicorn head with us?”

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Much like Sasquatch and other local cryptids, Dorian Graves can supposedly be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Few have ever seen Dorian, but investigators have found trails of plot notes scribbled on receipt paper if they followed the distant sounds of old Blue Öyster Cult albums long enough. There have also been reports of Dorian lurking around the Mills College campus in Oakland, CA, where Dorian was last seen scurrying away with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing. Dorian occasionally crawls out of the woodworks with offerings of fiction, strange and fantastical stories with equal parts humor and horror, but often retreats quickly unless bribed with coffee and bad puns.

When not writing or working “the other day job,” Dorian lives with a romantic partner and a mischievous cat. Dorian Graves can be convinced to sit still if given art supplies, games of all sorts, or a selection from the ever-growing TBR pile. Dorian can be more reliably found on http://www.doriangraves.com, where one can find artwork, fiction, and whatever inane topic Dorian feels like rambling about this week.

Website | Twitter

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Love For All Seasons Charity Anthology

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True love always deserves a happy ending, whatever the season. A charity anthology with all proceeds split between The Matthew Shepard Foundation and The Albert Kennedy Trust.


With characters who find love in a New York park, or on a college campus, in the middle of a snow storm or in the heat of summer, ‘Love for all Seasons’ delivers romance for everyone.

Including stories from five established authors and supporting the work of three authors, new to the world of writing MM romance.


Brioche For Two – V.L Locey

 

Seasons of Bryant – SpringFour Seasons. Two Men. One Love.

For struggling film student Isamu Taylor, life’s refrain is about to change from boring documentary about a passionless delivery boy to a blazing and wildly erotic love story.

After spending weeks admiring handsome but older Manhattan executive Brian Gilles while delivering brioche to him in Bryant Park, the man of his lusty dreams has just expressed a desire to get to know Isamu better. A night on the town is just the beginning of a whirlwind romance that will span not only four seasons but countless years.

Amid the beauty and charm of Bryant Park, New York City, two men are about to discover that love knows no age or economic boundaries. This is the first of four short stories in what will be the ‘Tales of Bryant’ collection starring these two amazing men, their one sublime love, and the Park where it all started.

 

Sweeter than Honey – C.M. Valencourt 


Wyatt is a beekeeper, excited for the beginning of his town’s annual farmers market, where he expects to sell his wares and get some hot guys’ phone numbers. But these plans start to unravel when sets up shop next to a sexy vegan baker named Grayson.

Grayson believes that keeping bees is akin to owning a slaughterhouse, and he’ll do anything to run Wyatt out of business. Can Wyatt win him over with his sweet honey and even sweeter smile?

 

Special Nights – DJ Jamison 


Sam’s insomnia drives him out of his apartment in the wee hours of the night. He ends up at a diner, where he meets an intriguing waiter named Hunter. As the seasons go by, Sam and Hunter court over BLTs and OJ, slowly falling in love.

 

Winters Chill – Cathy Brockman


The ice storm of a century hits Missouri.

Winter savvy Lane Jennings is the only one prepared, thanks to a decade in North Dakota. Too shy to approach his drool-worthy neighbor, he’s left fantasizing about him at night. That is until the storm, when a branch breaks free, trapping him beneath. Now it’s up to Lane to save him from his icy peril and care for him throughout the storm.

It was a near death experience for stunned Jeffrey Nichols. Never had he seen anything as beautifully terrifying as the weather and his neighbor. One threatened his life and the other his secret. He wasn’t sure which was more dangerous, but when Lane gives him a warm shelter through the storm, he quickly realizes he will find out.

Can an ice storm thaw two frozen hearts?

 

Beach Boys – Annabelle Jacobs


Sea, sand, and hopefully sun, are all Russ expects to find on his week away in Cornwall.

Surfing with his two best mates is all Blake has planned for his short break. With the long drive to get to Penzance, there’s no time for anything else.

With help from Bailey the dog, Russ and Blake discover they might have more in common than they first thought.

 

Who Do You Love, My Valentine – EJ Smyth

 

Immortal Nox is subcontracted to love god Eros during the Valentine rush. After he gets distracted by his long-time human crush Matt, his arrows go astray. The second missile finds a pretty young woman who instantly falls in love with Matt. Which would be great, except that Matt is gay. Nox must prevent the unsuitable match before the Gods find out. Yet doing his job may very well break his heart…


Read this steamy, romantic short story by EJ Smyth to get you into the mood for the perfect Valentine’s night.

 

Favorite Flowers – Chris McHart 


Gabe runs a flower shop. He always makes bouquets for everyone, but nobody has ever brought him flowers. His love-life is non-existent. Until Jason walks in and sparks fly.

Jason in the middle of a nasty divorce and the last thing he needs is getting into another relationship. But he can’t resist the shop-owner.

But even if Jason comes back for flower every week, one of them has to make the first step. And even if one does, can favorite flowers lead to anything?

 

The Last Chance – RJ Scott


It’s the last year of college and Luke can’t forget the captain of the hockey team, or the kiss they shared as freshman.

Justin has to decide if hockey outweighs his attraction to Luke, because this might be the last chance he’ll have of making things right.

Authors

 
V.L. Locey loves worn jeans, yoga, belly laughs, walking, reading and writing lusty tales, Greek mythology, the New York Rangers, comic books, and coffee. (Not necessarily in that order.) She shares her life with her husband, her daughter, one dog, two cats, a flock of assorted domestic fowl, and two Jersey steers. 


When not writing spicy romances, she enjoys spending her day with her menagerie in the rolling hills of Pennsylvania with a cup of fresh java in hand. She can also be found online on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and GoodReads.

 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

About new author, C.M. Valencourt

C.M. Valencourt is a new m/m and queer romance author. Their first book From the Ashes, an ex-friends-to-lovers road trip novel featuring slam poetry, pink hair dye, and a chase scene through a theme park, will be released in the first half of 2018. They like figure skating, ghost hunting shows, and Carly Rae Jepsen. You can get updates about From the Ashes and more of their forthcoming work by following @cmvalencourt on Twitter.

 

~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~

 

DJ Jamison is the author of more than a dozen m/m romances, including the Ashe Sentinel series and the Hearts and Health series. She writes a variety of queer characters, from gay to bisexual to asexual, with a focus on telling love stories that are more about common ground than lust at first sight. 

 
DJ grew up in the Midwest in a working-class family, and those influences can be found in her writing through characters coping with real-life problems: money troubles, workplace drama, family conflicts and, of course, falling in love. 
 
DJ spent more than a decade in the newspaper industry before chasing her first dream to write fiction. She spent a lifetime reading before that, and continues to avidly devour her fellow authors’ books each night. She lives in Kansas with her husband, two sons, two fish and, regrettably, one snake. 
 

~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~

 

About new author, Cathy Brockman

Cathy loves her grandkids, cats, cooking and working to make her patio an outdoor haven.

When she’s not writing stories with sexy cowboys, strong women, and the small towns they live in she’s probably working on expanding her doll collection, crafting, reading, or listening to audio books.

For updates on stories, snippets, contests, games, polls and more fun join my reader group – Cat’s Romance A-Holics

If you like recipes, stories about food or flops, writing, teasers and more you can find that on my Website/Blog Cathy Writes Romance.

Thanks for reading and watch for more Lane and Jeffrey.

You can find me on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Amazon and Google plus

 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

Annabelle Jacobs lives in the South West of England with three rowdy children, and two cats. An avid reader of fantasy herself for many years, Annabelle now spends her days writing her own stories. They’re usually either fantasy or paranormal fiction, because she loves building worlds filled with magical creatures, and creating stories full of action and adventure. Her characters may have a tough time of it—fighting enemies and adversity—but they always find love in the end. 


Twitter – https://twitter.com/AJacobs_fiction
Website – www.annabellejacobs.com
Email – ajacobsfiction@gmail.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/ajacobsfiction
 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

About new author, EJ Smyth

Hi there! My name is EJ Smyth, I live in Frankfurt, Germany and I’m passionate about romance with other elements mixed in. Paranormal romance, romantic thrillers, gay romance, if it’s got two difficult characters finding each other, I’m on board!

I’m currently working on a series of short stories Keith is Awesome about a young man exploring his sexuality. Not something I’ve ever written before but the research alone was quite a bit of fun. I love to talk to my readers, online and offline, so please feel free to drop me a line!

www.ejsmythauthor.com

 

~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~

 

About Chris McHart

 

I’m a writer of M/M romance and M/M erotic romance from Germany.


I’ve always had stories in my head, but a while ago I allowed them to get out and on paper. Looks like it has been a good decision, although the more stories I write, the more I have in my head. Maybe I’ll have all of them out someday, and there’ll be nothing more to write, but for the next years, I don’t see that coming.
When I’m not writing, I spend time with my family (I have the best husband EVER) and try to keep all my animals happy. I also enjoy gardening and cooking, although I’m still looking for someone to clean up afterwards. And, of course, I love reading, whenever I have a quiet moment.Writing and reading is my break from everyday stress and I hope you join me!

Website | ChrisMcHart@gmail.com | Google +

 
~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~♡~
 

RJ Scott’s goal is to write stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and most importantly, that hint of a happily ever after.

RJ Scott is the bestselling author of over one hundred romance books. She writes emotional stories of complicated characters, cowboys, millionaire, princes, and the men who get mixed up in their lives. RJ is known for writing books that always end with a happy ever after. She lives just outside London and spends every waking minute she isn’t with family either reading or writing.

The last time she had a week’s break from writing she didn’t like it one little bit, and she has yet to meet a bottle of wine she couldn’t defeat.

Goodreads Page | RJ’s Blog | RJ on Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Book Blitz: Five Dares by Eli Easton

 

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Cover Design: Natasha Snow

Blurb

Andy Tyler has been the class daredevil since middle school. Over the years, he’s convinced his best friend, Jake Masterson, to perform some dangerous-looking stunts with him. But the dare they attempt on the night of their college graduation goes sideways. The firecrackers explode too soon and both of them end up with badly burned palms.

But hey, nothing gets the “terrible two-o” down for long, and they recuperate in style at Andy’s family cottage in Cape Cod. As the weeks go by, both Andy and Jake grow frustrated over the inability to use their hands for all sorts of daily activities—including getting off. So Andy begins a new series of dares that don’t just cross the friendship line, they obliterate it.

But what might be mere sexual relief to Andy is serious business to Jake, who only recently got over years of secret pining for his straight best friend. Inevitably, the burns heal, summer ends, and hearts are broken. To fix things, Andy will have to face the greatest dare of all.

Excerpt

 

The first few weeks at the cottage we had good weather and spent most of our time outside. Walter said our burns were coming along well. So far we’d avoided making things worse, which was a miracle. The burns were gnarly looking though, and painful when he rewrapped them.

My palms were the bright red of fresh blood. They looked like they’d been dipped in boiling water, with layers around the edge turning white and loose in spots. My hands alternated between a mild burning and piercing pain that went supernova anytime I accidentally clenched them or bumped them into something. Doing or lifting anything that required any pressure on the skin whatsoever was right out.

So by the time we’d been basking on the Nantucket Sound for two weeks, I was climbing the fucking walls.

“I’ve never been this damn horny in my life,” I complained to Jake, bitterly and sincerely.

It was almost noon, and we were sitting out on the dock like we usually did. It had been great hanging out together. We’d caught up on a lot of stuff we never seemed to get around to talking about during school—his upcoming new life. Harvard. Our mutual friends and exes. We’d told ghost stories. We’d taken long walks and kicked around a soccer ball for hours. We’d played poker on Jake’s tablet and consumed six seasons of The Walking Dead on the big-screen TV. It was nice having undivided Jake time, but I’d reached the point where frustration had me close to tears.

Not tears of boredom either. Sexually frustrated tears.

“Turn page,” Jake responded. He was reading on his Kindle.

“I’m not sure how that would help me get off,” I joked.

Jake snorted, but he didn’t rise to the bait.

I shifted in my chair. I wasn’t kidding. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d gone more than two days without an orgasm. Probably not since I’d figured out the magical wonderland that was my dick when I was eleven years old. I’d had a permanent semi for days now, and my loose, silky gym shorts—worn because I could get them up and down by myself if I scooched against a wall—were doing nothing to disguise it or help it go away.

I moved my bandaged hands onto the arms of the deck chair and looked down at myself. Even looking at my crotch made my dick grow under the silky blue fabric. It was like a hopeful puppy anticipating attention.

In my peripheral vision, I saw Jake glance at it too. He leaned forward in his chair, hunching toward the Kindle, which was propped on a little table in front of him. “Turn page.”

“You did not just read an entire page.” I smirked.

“Shut up, Mr. TMI.” Jake fake-read some more.

But I knew I had his attention. “Have you figured out a way to get off yet? Because I haven’t.”

“No,” he said in a distracted voice. Despite his blasé look, I knew there was no way he was absorbing a single word on that Kindle screen.

“Me neither. I tried humping the bed, but it didn’t work. Fucking mattress is so soft and lumpy.”

“Can you not give me the gory details?” Jake hunched further and stared at the Kindle.

“Rubbing against the tiles in the shower didn’t work. They’re too hard.”

He snorted. “What are you, the Goldilocks of self-love?”

I chuckled. “That’s me. I need something just right.” I used a filthy voice on the last bit.

Jake shifted uneasily but didn’t look at me. “Too bad Amber dumped you. Maybe you could call her and play the poor invalid card. She might be willing to drive down for a conjugal visit.”

“Nah. So not worth the bowing and scraping I’d have to do.”

I gave it a moment, trying to build up my nerve.

I hadn’t been kidding. I’d tried a half-dozen ways to get off, but nothing was working. So I’d put some serious brain power into figuring out a solution. I was good at working around obstacles, but the obvious answer—the thing I really wanted—involved Jake, and I wasn’t sure how he’d react.

Just thinking about it, I plumped up further, causing a definite tent in my shorts. I half expected Jake to tease me, something like, You could poke someone’s eye out with that thing.

But all he said was, “Turn page.”

“So . . . you haven’t gotten off since before the hospital?” I asked.

“No,” Jake said quickly. “And it’s not helping to talk about it, thank you very much. It’s like when you talk about having a tickle in your throat, it makes you want to cough.” His voice was tense. I saw his eyes flicker toward my shorts, though he didn’t turn his head and he continued to pretend to read.

My heart pounded. I felt exposed at the moment, my semi obscene, so I sat up and hunched forward too, elbows on my knees. I watched a ski boat go by. The roar of the motor was loud. I waited until it had passed. Then I swallowed and told myself it didn’t matter. It was no big deal to suggest it. And if he said no, it was no biggie. I could play it off as a joke. But it really didn’t feel that way.

“Speaking of a tickle in your throat . . . I have an idea about how we can get off.”

“You do?” Jake’s tone was fast and curious. Definitely interested.

“Yup.”

“Like what? Gonna have Walter install a Fleshlight in the shower?” He chuckled.

I huffed. “Yeah. You know my dad combs through every one of my credit card statements. No way am I ordering a Fleshlight. Not to mention the fact that I’d have to kill myself after asking Walter to install something like that.”

Walter, our nurse, was in his fifties, white, bald, and pudgy. He had a squeaky-clean fundamentalist thing going on and had mentioned “praying” for us several times. Ix-nay on asking Walter to mount a fuck tube in the shower.

“So what then, Oh Planinator?” Jake sat up from his slouch and looked at me.

Unable to meet his gaze, I studied the water. “Okay, so just hear me out before saying no.”

“Oh shit. You only say that when it’s really whacked.”

“Come on! I’m serious.”

Jake sighed, but I could swear there was a new tension in the air. He was no longer pretending to read his Kindle. He leaned back in his chair and waited. “Go on, then. Spit it out.”

I grinned and turned my head to look at him, raising an eyebrow. “That’s the goal, yeah.”

He kicked my leg lightly with his bare heel. “Just say it.”

“Okay. So. We can’t jerk off, right?” I held up my bandaged hands a little.

“Obviously.”

“Well, have you ever heard of guys who can, you know, suck their own dicks?”

There was a sharp inhale from Jake, but he kept his face blank. “Yeah. I can’t though. Not even a little bit.”

“I know. Me neither. So I thought . . .” Fuck. This was hard to say. Incredibly hard to say. But there was no point in beating around the bush. “Okay. So. What if we sucked each other, like, at the same time, and pretended we were doing ourselves? Sort of self-suck by proxy.”

I’d intended to keep a jokey tone during this, so I could claim I was teasing. But the words started tumbling out, and there was a hollow ringing in my ears. I honestly didn’t have the slightest fucking clue what my tone had been or how it must have sounded to Jake.

Next to me, he went deadly still. He stared down at his knees. There was a little frown behind his brow. He looked worried. Or disturbed. Or both concurrently.

I fought the urge to overexplain or justify. Play it cool. I leaned back in my chair and closed my eyes as if soaking in the sun. “It would get the job done.” I shrugged.

“Did you honestly just ask me to suck you off?” Jake asked in a quiet voice.

“No. That’s not what I said. Don’t go all homophobic on me, bro. Look, we can’t use our hands at all. Fact. If you could suck yourself, you would—right? Fact. But you can’t. I’m in the same boat. So I’m thinking if we were end to end, we could close our eyes and pretend we’re doing ourselves. And we’d get off. And we wouldn’t have to get Walter or anyone else involved. It’s really the best solution.”

Jake was silent again for a long moment. “I’m not doing that.” His voice was firm, grim, like he meant it.

Honestly, I was surprised. And a little hurt.

“Fine,” I said. “It was just a suggestion. You got a better idea? Or do you want the worst case of blue balls ever? Because I’m about to crawl the fucking walls.”

“I’m not doing it,” he repeated adamantly.

“Yeah, I heard you the first time, Jake.”

In my peripheral vision, I could see he was stiff and tense, like he might bolt. But, finally, he relaxed. He leaned forward toward the Kindle. “Turn page,” he said, his voice tight.

“What if I dared you?” I asked, unable to let it go.

“Jesus, Andy, fuck off!” Jake snarled. He got up and stormed toward the cottage. We’d figured out that if we kicked the bottom of the screen door, it would bounce open for a second, long enough to get one foot in. He did this harder than necessary and went inside. I was so shocked, I let him go without a word.

Goddamn it. I’d known it would be risky to bring it up, but some part of me believed Jake would jump at the chance. Or, worst case, brush it off as a joke. I hadn’t expected anger. Jake had never told me to fuck off like that. Not that I could remember.

Shit.

Okay. Bad idea. Abort, abort. But it was too late to take it back.

About Eli

Having been, at various times and under different names, a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, an author of paranormal thrillers, a fan-fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a profound sleeper, Eli Easton is happy these days writing love stories.As an avid reader of such, she is tinkled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, with her husband, three bulldogs, two cows, a cat, and a potbellied pig. She enjoys reading in all genres and, when she can be pried away from her iPad, hiking and biking.

Eli Easton has published 24 books in m/m romance since 2013. She won the Rainbow Award for Best Contemporary Romance in 2014 (The Mating of Michael) and in 2016 (A Second Harvest). Her Howl at the Moon series of humorous dog shifter romances have become fan favorites and placed in the Rainbow Awards and the Goodreads M/M Group Reader’s Choice awards. She is best known for romances with humor and a lot of heart.

Connect with Eli:
Website: elieaston.com
Facebook
Twitter: @EliEaston

 
 

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Release Blitz: Fighting for You by Megan Derr

Title:  Fighting for You

Series: Lifesworn, Book Two

Author: Megan Derr

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 16, 2018

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male Menage

Length: 35000

Genre: Fantasy, LGBT, fantasy, menage, bisexual, pansexual, royalty

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Synopsis

All Penli wants to be is left alone. After nearly a decade of blood and violence, and a lifetime of enduring his cold, ambitious family, it’s almost a relief to be practically alone in the middle of a desert kingdom with no way to return home because of the warrant out for his arrest.

The very last thing he needs is to be consumed by a fit of honor and nobility—but he would much rather die than ever see the two sweet, intriguing men who cross his path forced apart, one to be thrown to the streets, the other to marry a malicious bully Penli has despised for years.

Though he means only to free them, having no desire to marry after barely escaping one unwanted marriage, with each passing day Penli fears the only thing more difficult than throwing his life away will be resisting the urge to build a new one with two men he barely knows.

Excerpt

Fighting for You
Megan Derr © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Prologue
SIXTEEN YEARS AGO

“Enough.”

Penli huffed and fired one more arrow anyway—and yowled when the instructor cuffed him, leaving his ears ringing.

“What did I say?” Kure demanded.

“Enough,” Penli grumbled.

“Unstring your bow and clean up. We’re done for the day.”

Several paces away, Tishasanti the Bastard opened his mouth to argue, but a look from their archery instructor had him snapping it shut.

Penli bit back his own complaints, even though it wasn’t fair that he was making them quit practice before one of them had one. He’d almost had Tishi-Wishi. One more round and he’d have won!

Grumbling to himself, Penli unstrung his longbow and set it aside before he went to retrieve all his arrows, shoving them irritably into the quiver at his hip. When he was done, he retrieved his bow and headed off across campus to the dormitories on the far side. The air was chilly, heralding the coming winter, but not yet so cold that he needed more than the long sleeves and cowl he was wearing. Practice was usually active enough to keep him warm well into winter. Unlike Tishi-Wishi, he could handle cold weather.

Thinking of Tishasanti and cold weather reminded him of the time Tishasanti had lost his footing and slid all the way down a hill and into a cluster of shrubs the previous winter. Penli snickered at the memory.

“What’s so funny, Penlington? Other than your terrible aim.”

Penli stopped and turned and sneered at Tishasanti. From their first day of school, he’d hated Tishasanti. He was loud-mouthed, bossy, and thought himself better than everyone else. He also liked to solve problems with his fists and, when that didn’t work, tattled to his daddy.

After Penli had gotten revenge on him for a sucker punch by breaking Tishasanti’s nose, they’d been mortal enemies. Well, they’d already been well on the way to that, because Tishasanti thought he was the best at everything—including archery, which was Penli’s specialty. No way was Tishi-Wishi better than him. He didn’t care if they did draw even almost every single time. That was dumb luck for Tishasanti.

“Go away, Tishi-Wishi.”

Face going red at the hated nickname, Tishasanti spat, “If that bastard Kure hadn’t stopped us, I would have had you, and we both know it.”

Penli sneered. “Please. You’ll never have me in any manner of speaking. And you only beat me at anything when luck is on your side.”

“Oh, I see. Still mad about the way I trounced you in the ring this morning?”

Curling his hands into his fists at his side, Penli hissed, “You cheated!”

“All’s fair in war, Penlington. If you hadn’t been so busy fretting about your stupid hair, maybe you’d have seen that move coming. Who needs luck to beat you when all they have to do is get mud all over your hair or clothes? You fuss more than a girl on her wedding day.”

“At least whoever I marry won’t want to kill themselves rather than go through with the marriage,” Penli retorted—and didn’t move in time as Tishasanti bellowed and slammed a fist into his jaw.

Penli stumbled back several steps and wiped blood from his mouth. “Were you hoping I’d go down like you, Tishi? Sorry, you’re the only one here with a glass jaw.” That time, he was ready for the swing, and countered with a dodge promptly followed by a foot to Tishasanti’s stomach.

After that, the fighting got ugly, and stopped only when some professors showed up and dragged them apart.

“Sir—”

“Be quiet,” Kure snapped, and Penli withered. Of all the professors on campus, his archery instructor was by far his favorite—even if he could be infuriatingly stubborn and unreasonable about some things. Like putting up with Tishasanti.

He remained quiet as they were dragged into the headmaster’s office. Next to him, Tishasanti was equally silent, which was odd. Usually by now he was screaming about what his father would have to say about this.

“What a surprise to see you two again,” Headmaster Worth replied, leaning back in his seat, making it creak with the weight of muscle and fat wedged into it. In his tournament days, before they’d faded out of popularity, Worth had been called “The Wall” and he hadn’t turned into a ruin with age. “Two violent peas in a pod.”

Penli and Tishasanti bristled. “I am nothing—”

“We have nothing—”

They both cut off as Kure cuffed them.

Worth stared implacably for several long, miserable minutes. “You’re both too intelligent to simply throw you out for the vagaries of youth. However, these violent outbursts cannot continue. You are peers of your respective realms and you must learn to act like it.” When Tishasanti started to speak, Worth cut him off with a sharp gesture. “Spare me mentions of your father; I’ve conversed with him at length and he has left the matter of your discipline wholly in my hands. The question is: what sort of discipline will finally get through those stubborn heads of yours?”

Penli started to reply that removing Tishasanti’s head would fix everything, looked at Worth’s face, and thought better of it. Even if he was right that Tishasanti was the problem. Why did they insist on acting like he was just as responsible? Tishasanti was the one who always started it.

The look on Worth’s face then said he had read every last one of Penli’s thoughts and was vastly disappointed by them. How the bastard did that, Penli didn’t know.

Worth lifted his eyes to exchange some silent conversation with Kure.

“With me,” Kure snapped, and dragged Penli out of the room. The heavy door closed on the sound of Worth giving Tishasanti a dressing down unlike any they’d received before.

Penli snickered.

“And what, you think you’re not in trouble?” Kure demanded, dragging him down the hall and all but throwing him into an empty study room. After slamming the door shut, he folded his arms across his chest.

Penli scowled at the tear in a seam of his shirt—a beautiful, fitted thing meant especially for archery, dark violet lawn and embroidered all over with white and gold flowers. “You didn’t have to ruin my shirt.”

“The blood covering half of it already took care of that,” Kure replied, voice going even colder. “I think you have more important things to worry about than your clothes, Penlington.”

“He started it!” Penli snapped. “I was minding my own business, and he showed up—”

“Just because he taunts you doesn’t mean you have to give in.” Kure held up a hand. “But let’s start with before that. Why do you think I halted practice early?”

Penli shrugged and looked at the floor, fighting an urge to cross his arms. Kure looked intimidating when he did it; Penli would only look weak. “I figured you were annoyed.”

“Yes. About what?”

“I don’t know. I was hitting all the marks. I was one point ahead—”

“That. That right there. The points are not a contest. They aren’t there so you and Tishasanti can feud. Neither are the duels, or the tests, or anything else. Those are meant to test your personal acumen. Do you understand what it is you’re learning to do when you hit those marks?”

Penli looked at him with all the growing irritation overtaking him. “Hitting marks?”

Kure boxed his ears and, ignoring Penli’s yowling, said, “You are learning to kill. Every mark is, if you’re lucky, a dead animal brought down to feed your fellow soldiers. If you’re not lucky, your arrow will land in someone’s eye, or chest, or somewhere that will slow them long enough you can then take a killing shot. And instead of appreciating that, you and Tishasanti are so busy proving who is better that you’re not learning what you should be. What, pray tell, are you trying to be better than him at?”

“Everything.”

“Funny, he’s probably giving that same answer to the headmaster as we speak. Why do you want to be better than him?”

“Because I am! Because he picks on people for no reason, he hurts them and laughs as he walks off like none of them matter. And then he gets away with it because of teachers like you, who don’t care what he does!”

Kure sighed and motioned for him to sit, then took a nearby seat. “Penlington—”

“It’s Penli,” Penli muttered.

“Penli, then,” Kure said. “I know you hate him, and perhaps you have good reason. But you need to get through that stubborn head of yours that the biggest reason the two of you clash is that you’re a lot alike.”

“We are—”

“Be quiet,” Kure cut in calmly. “You don’t talk until I say you may. Now, then. You are both exceptionally smart. You are both highly capable in all manner of martial skills. You both tend to be aggressive when you are riled, which is not something to be proud of. If you had grown up just a little bit different, Penli, you would behave exactly like him. It’s by the grace of the gods and your parents that you don’t. But you do seem to have appointed yourself judge, jury, and executioner when it comes to Tishasanti, and that’s just as bad. You see one small portion of Tishasanti’s life and what goes on it. Perhaps he deserves to be punished, but who are you to decide and act on that? What do you think people think of you, always seeing the two of you fight?”

Penli shook his head, a knot forming in his stomach.

“They think you’re pretty, and nice at times, but mostly scary, because you’re always fighting. Because sometimes from where they’re standing, and the limited knowledge they possess, you look like the one in the wrong. Remember that Penli: you don’t always know the whole story, and who is the hero and who the villain is entirely relative. Leave the judging to those who have seen the whole picture.”

“Yes, Professor,” Penli said. Did people really think he was scary?

“Penli,” Kure said more gently, and when he finally looked up continued, “If you really want to be a better person than Tishasanti, then remember that only cowards resort to violence first. Only the cruel-hearted find humor in another’s pain. And the most dangerous person in the room is the one who thinks they know everything. Ignore Tishasanti as best you’re able. Focus on your lessons, and ‘besting’ him fairly. No more fights in the halls, or one day you’ll find that it gets easier and easier to use violence to put people in the place you think they belong. Violence should always be a last resort. Arrogance should never make your decisions.”

“Yes, Professor,” Penli repeated. “I-I’m not really scary, am I? Just because I fight with Tishasanti?”

“You’re intimidating to many because, in addition to fighting with him, you are fiercely competitive, lose your temper quite easily, and there are rumors you’re going to be snatched up by the army because of your archery skills.”

Penli had been preening about that all month: that he was good enough to become a royal archer, go on secret missions to defend the people, and save the kingdom. But with Kure’s words still filling his head, all he felt was sick and scared. He wanted to be a hero, not an evil bastard like Tishasanti. “I-I’m sorry. I really do just hate the way he treats people.”

“I know,” Kure said gruffly. “But trust that people with more experience will deal with him as best we’re able, and there are bits of the story you will likely never learn. I know it’s hard, and often feels unfair, but all you can do is keep moving forward doing your best. Stop giving in to your worst. All right?”

“Yes, Professor.”

“Good.” He stood and Penli did the same. “Now let’s get you back to your room so you can dress for dinner, and we’ll discuss your punishment along the way.”

Penli groaned, but fell into step alongside him as they headed across campus.

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Meet the Author

Megan is a long time resident of LGBTQ fiction, and keeps herself busy reading, writing, and publishing it. She is often accused of fluff and nonsense. When she’s not involved in writing, she likes to cook, harass her cats, or watch movies. She loves to hear from readers, and can be found all over the internet.

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Release Blitz: Come to the Rocks by Christian Haws

Title:  Come to the Rocks

Author: Christin Haws

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 16, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 20800

Genre: Paranormal Romance, NineStar Press, LGBT, paranormal, mermaids, thriller, bisexual

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Synopsis

Linnea’s only safe place is a spot on the rocky shoreline where the water can be rather vicious. It’s here where she meets, and falls in love with, a mermaid named Mren. As their romance blossoms, the escalating harassment from Linnea’s ex-boyfriend Mikey threatens the secret relationship. Mren has vowed to protect Linnea, but she’s confined to the water and Mikey is a land monster. Meanwhile, Linnea will do anything to keep Mren safe from him.

Anything.

Excerpt

Come to the Rocks
Christin Haws © 2018
All Rights Reserved

The rocks were cold and wet from the sea spray, slippery and dangerous to trek across, decidedly lethal to stand on at the water’s edge if the ocean was in a bad mood, which it often was.

Linnea did it anyway.

It was her place, the one place she could go where no one else dared. Often, her car was the only one parked on the sandy shoulder between the road and the rocks. Rarely did anyone drive by. Even on the nicest days, when the sun was bright and the water was happy, Linnea was often alone out on the rocks. There were much nicer stretches of shoreline, much safer spots that most people preferred to visit. To Linnea, the scramble across the rocks wasn’t treacherous; it was a brief adventure. Sitting on the edge with her feet dangling just inches above the constantly churning water, the mist of it coating her jean-clad legs until she could barely feel them from the cold, wasn’t reckless; it was a necessary meditation. In the most dangerous area of the cove, Linnea felt safe.

She would sit there most afternoons if she could as the sun sank toward the ocean, but always left before it touched the water. Most days, the overcast sky darkened and changed color with the impending sunset. The ocean was always gray, though, various shades of it that reflected the water’s mood. Lighter, almost silvery, when the water was happy and calm, which was almost never. Darker and angry, when the water was feeling vicious and would slap the rocks as hard as it could, hard enough to knock a grown man standing several feet from the edge right off his feet and into the sea where he’d be battered against the rocks by its rage. Most of the time, the water was a medium shade, an irritated, mood-swinging gray, and the waves would more lap than slap at the rocks, but on occasion, the water would lash out.

Linnea was never afraid of this.

Oh, she was never stupid enough to sit on the rocks when the ocean was angry, although she would either sit or stand at the edge of them and watch the water from a distance. It wasn’t very fulfilling for her to come to the rocks on those days. It was as though the water’s anger denied her peace and she’d spend her time there apologizing to the ocean and attempting to soothe the beast so she could move closer to it.

On an unremarkable Wednesday, Linnea sat cross-legged on the rocks, the darker-than-medium-gray water a little angrier than irritated, smacking the rocks soundly and frequently, but not too aggressively. Yet. The chilly spray settled over Linnea in a fine mist that froze her exposed skin and dampened the jeans and the flannel overcoat she wore in such a way that she didn’t really notice that her clothes were damp until she touched them. The gray sky met the gray water at the horizon in something of a hue change more than a definite line, and Linnea gazed across the water, thinking of nothing in particular.

And then something caught her eye.

A decidedly not-gray sheen appeared on the surface of the water for only a second or two, disappearing before Linnea could truly focus on it. Linnea stared at the spot, waiting to see if it would reappear.

It did, but not in the same spot.

The little glimmer of green and purple and teal lingered long enough for Linnea to know she was actually seeing something, that it wasn’t just a trick of the overcast light on the gray water, and only then did she realize that this little shimmer was closer to her than before.

Curious, Linnea dared to get up on her hands and knees so she could better see over the edge of the rocks at the water, squinting as the icy sea spray misted her face. Leaning as far over the edge, as close to the water as she dared, Linnea searched for the little glimmer again.

The gray water hid its depths and everything contained in it unless it was close to the surface. Linnea didn’t even know how deep the water was there. The face materialized in the water like an evening star gradually coming into its own brightness as the sky darkened into night.

Linnea found herself transfixed by the face as it hovered just under the surface, the waves rolling into the rocks sometimes obscuring it, but never really distorting it as it floated, perfectly still and undisturbed by the movement.

The face was beautiful in its otherness. Linnea had never seen one like it on land, that was for sure. Eyes, as silver-gray as the water when it was happy, stared back at her, blinking leisurely. Hair the same color fanned out and floated around the beautiful face, as though it radiated from it. The skin was pale and pristine, broken only by the slightly pink lips.

Linnea stared, and the eyes stared back.

In an instant, the water turned angry. Waves slammed into the rocks, obscuring the vision, driving Linnea backward to avoid a face full of water. She fell on her butt and rolled, painfully bouncing her elbows and spine and the back of her head on the unforgiving, wet rocks. Water rushed along the uneven, polished surface, seeping into her jeans and between her flannel overcoat and her shirt.

The shock of the sudden turn of the sea, the stinging cold of it, the pain from the fall only froze Linnea for a second. She scrambled back to her hands and knees and crawled to the edge of the rocks, daring the water to slap at her again as she searched for the beautiful image she had seen.

It was gone.

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Meet the Author

Christin Haws is a tragically unhip writer, rerun junkie, baseball floozy, and fat girl belly dancing. Though she mostly writes horror, she’s known to wander into other genres and combine genres because she’s never been very good at genre rules. She currently crafts her stories while located in a small town in the middle of a cornfield. Her obsessions with sunglasses, notebooks, and pens will surely be her undoing.

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Release Blitz: The End by M Rose Flores

 

Title:  The End

Author: M. Rose Flores

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 16, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 81200

Genre: Horror, LGBT, horror, zombies/undead, post-apocalyptic, in the closet, dark, no HEA, bisexual, tearjerker

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Synopsis

On Cate Mortensen’s seventeenth birthday, her family is scattered in a fight for survival, and she and her sister Melody are catapulted headfirst into a world where their phones are just hunks of plastic, they must scavenge for every bite, and they sleep with weapons in their hands. Traveling alone, and then not so alone, they follow the route their family planned to Alcatraz Island where the hope of safety and a real life awaits.

After more than a year on the road, Cate has found three things to be true. One: Zombies are a thing now. Two: Not all zombies are just zombies. Three (the game changer): Cate is immune to the infection.

Excerpt

The End
M. Rose Flores © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One: Pay Attention
Now

Where did these zombies come from, and how did I not notice them until now? This isn’t the worst we’ve faced, true, but zombies in general are dangerous and six at a time is not a number anybody should be comfortable with.

“Mel!” I call to my sister, keeping my eyes on the approaching zombies. “How’s it coming?”

Melody is a little way up the road from me, elbow-deep in the engine of a rusty old pickup that she said would be an easy fix. She was so confident, in fact, that we packed all our stuff and the dog into the truck. That was two hours ago.

“Fine,” she mumbles. “Getting there.”

“Soon?”

“I don’t know—yeah, soon.” Clang! “Why?”

“Like, in the next thirty seconds?”

“Cate, why?”

“We’ve got company.”

Mel growls and kicks the tire of the truck.

I yank the axe out of my belt loop just as three, four, eight, nine more come wandering out of the evergreens that surround the road.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Mel mutters. She whispers through the open window to the dog, “Chaz, down.”

Chaz settles on the front seat. A few of them may notice him if they get close enough, but they’ll always pick people given the option. He’ll be safe for now.

Safer than we are.

I swing my axe at the first one to approach, a clean hit to the back of the neck. The jaws continue to gnash after the body falls to the ground, but since that’s all that’s still moving, it’s not a threat anymore. The three fast approaching on my right and the one foot-dragger on the left, those are threats. I shove back the closest one, sending it sprawling, bury my axe into the second’s head, and work it free just in time to dodge the foot-dragger’s claws. The miss throws it off-balance and it falls to its exposed kneecaps. I split its skull before it has a chance to stand.

That’s one universally reliable factoid from zombie lore: head shot equals kill. The rest of it is a mixed bag of facts and fabrications.

By the time I dislodge my axe again, the one I shoved is in my face. I don’t even see another coming at me until it knocks the axe out of my hand.

“Damn it!” I fish my knife out of my jacket pocket and dispatch both of them. When I’m done, I bend down and pick up the axe.

I hear the thick squish of Mel’s little pocketknife penetrating rotten flesh and the subsequent dropping of one body, quickly followed by another, and the dull thud of her hammer and an exuberant ha! I turn to find her unscathed with three corpses at her feet. Go, Mel.

Before I can turn back around to assess my end, an especially rotten zombie takes my arm and pulls it toward its gaping maw. It bites down on the sleeve of my green canvas jacket, which I was wearing specifically for this reason. I let it think it has me while I split its skull. As the jaws go slack and the corpse collapses, I rub my forearm gingerly. Ouch. That’ll be a nasty bruise. But it serves me right for not paying attention. Again.

I turn to check on Mel just as a gigantic zombie in a leather jacket—and is that a motorcycle helmet?—lunges at her from behind, bowling her over like a house of cards. Her glasses go flying, and she hits the ground with an oomph, dropping her blade as the zombie chomps at her face uselessly through its helmet. Her knife skitters across the pavement and out of reach.

“Cate!”

I run toward them, vaulting myself over the hood of a car, losing my axe for the second time as I do. She’s pinned, and although the teeth are no threat inside that helmet, it’s only a matter of time before the claws rip through her hoodie. She’s trying to push it off, but it’s one of the biggest bodies I’ve ever seen, alive or dead. Just massive. I shove my hand into my pocket but find it empty. Where the hell is my knife? No time. I grab the first tool my hand lands on, a big-ass wrench, rip the giant’s helmet off, and swing for all I’m worth until its head is obliterated.

Mel retrieves her glasses and sits up, panting. That would have been a horrible way to go. She wipes her forehead with the back of her hand, shaking her head in relief. But her face changes and she points over my shoulder.

“Cate, behind you!”

Two more are right in front of me, so close they could reach out and touch me, which of course they do. One grabs my upper arm while the other closes in for a bite on the other side. I yank backward, shed my jacket, and stumble away from the two man-eaters but trip over the giant. Mel steps over me like an action heroine with her miniature .22 handgun drawn and ready. She puts them both down and helps me up. Four left.

We run around them in opposite directions, positioning ourselves behind them. I manage to kill one before the next has time to turn around. As soon as it does, I cave its face in with the wrench. When I turn to check on Mel, she’s already wiping her knife clean and stepping—somewhat delicately—over the last two corpses.

“Dude, what happened?” she asks.

I know she’s pissed; I had it coming. I don’t apologize, though. The words sit stubbornly in my throat.

“Sun was in my eyes,” I mumble. The excuse sounds even more flimsy out loud. “You said the truck would be an easy fix.” I don’t know why I resort to blame-shifting instead of just fessing up.

“Okay, how about next time you fix the car and I’ll try to get us killed?” she snaps. “And you’d better clean the brains off my wrench!”

I silently retrieve my axe from where it fell and my knife from the eye I left it in, and wipe the brainy blade, then the wrench, then my axe, on the clothes of various fallen zombies.

That’s something I didn’t expect: there’s very little blood in zombie killing if you’re doing it right. The movies would have you believe that there are buckets of the stuff just flying around every time you whack one. But the thing is—and it makes sense once you think about it—their hearts aren’t actually beating, and no beating heart means no pumping blood and therefore no bleeding. What ends up on the weapon and sometimes your clothing after you put a zombie down is a thick sludge made of gray matter and coagulated blood. It’s still disgusting, especially the odor, but at least it doesn’t splatter.

“I’m sorry, okay?” I slide my axe back into my belt loop.

Mel holds stubbornly onto her last shred of anger, aggressively polishing her glasses with the hem of her shirt. Suddenly she’s on me, squeezing the life out of me with her skinny arms. “Just keep an eye out, okay?” She strokes my hair the way my mom used to. “I don’t know what I’d do if I lost you too.”

“Deal,” I say, breaking the hug gently. I scan the area while Mel tosses her tools into the bed of the truck. “Those shots will bring more in. We’d better get a move on.”

Mel nods and pockets her gun. When she says his name, Chaz sits back up, tail wagging. She slams the hood of the truck. “Let’s go. I think I just barely managed to fix this heap before they got here. Moment of truth…” She twists a couple of wires together and pumps her fist into the air as the truck rumbles to life. “Yes! Life!”

It’s the best sound I’ve heard in a week. Mel and I have been traveling on our bikes since we had to ditch our last ride. The engine overheated, and while we were waiting for it to cool, a massive horde of zombies came wandering out of the forest by the highway. It was either fight and possibly die to save the car or get out quietly, take what we could, and run. We ran.

We did find a car the next day; drove it about five miles before we came upon a fallen tree that blocked the whole road. That didn’t even count as having a ride.

But thankfully, Mel is handy with cars. Very handy. So when we find a working or workable car, we keep it as long as it’s advantageous, and for the rest of the time, we have our bikes. It does limit what kind of vehicle we can use, since it has to have room for us, a seventy-pound dog, two bikes, and two packs, but it’s well worth it to keep the bikes.

Mel hops into the driver’s side and squeezes the wheel.

“I’ll drive first.”

I nod and slide into the passenger seat.

Chaz curls up between us with his torn-up tennis ball.

We pull away from the two cars that the truck was parked between, and we’re about to drive off when I jump in panic.

“Wait!” I fumble with my seat belt and throw open the door.

“Cate!” Mel slams on the brakes as I jump out. “Catherine! What are you doing?”

I run toward the zombies we just killed and jerk my jacket out from under two bodies, ignoring the zombie I didn’t fully kill that snaps at my hand as I do.

Mel glances at me sideways as we begin to pull away again, but she doesn’t say anything about my outburst. Instead, she just sighs and asks, “Back to the coast?”

Our trip through Medford was a bust. I glance at the map, staring at the lines I’ve long since memorized. If we’re lucky, we can be back on the marked route in a couple of hours. But luck is not abundant these days.

We both get discouraged and even a little irritable when a detour turns out to be fruitless. But I have to admit that we’ve had some really successful ones. We found better weapons and a fishing pole plus tackle in Hood River, and in mid-December, we found a house outside Newport in which to ride out a truly hellish winter. The previous owner was just another walking corpse when we found him, but he must have been a conspiracy nut or something because the entire basement was filled floor to ceiling with shelves of canned food and survival gear that we’re still using today. There were also boots that happened to fit Mel’s giant feet, thick jeans for me, those silvery space blankets, and loads of extra socks, which believe me, we needed. We even scored a bike trailer for the dog. So although the detours seem like unnecessary distractions from our ultimate destination, they are necessary. Every one.

We drive west, leaving a pile of twice-dead bodies behind.

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Meet the Author

M. Rose Flores has enjoyed writing since she learned how to string letters together. She grew up in the vast green Pacific Northwest of the United States, which with its dense forests, four seasons, and proximity to the ocean made a perfect setting for The End. When she isn’t writing on her computer or in a notebook (though scraps of paper and the palm of her hand will do in a pinch), she works as a professional dog trainer and loves every part of it, even the copious amounts of drool. She believes everyone should be represented in literature and all other media. The End is her first novel.

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Release Blitz: The Burning of Arbor by JL Brown (Book One)

 

Title:  The Burning of Arbor

Series: The Witches of Arbor, Book One

Author: J.L. Brown

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 16, 2018

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Female/Female/Male (Female/Female interaction)

Length: 101400

Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, LGBT, paranormal, witches, bisexual, polyamory, religion

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Synopsis

Evangeline Clarion is a fiery artist and elemental witch. She dreams of opening a gallery in her small town of Arbor, but Eva’s embrace of her own power and sexuality offends the pious sensibilities of the devout Arbor citizenry.

A gaggle Eva referred to as “Arbor’s Most Moral” sets out on a witch hunt to ruin her and drive her out of town. They attack her in the pews, in the press, and in person. But instead of weakening her, the relentless barrage fuels the fire within her.

As her burgeoning magic is set aflame within Eva, so is her desire. While her neighbors plot against her, Eva falls in love—first with the mesmerizing heir of the Morgan Manor estate, and later with a beautiful Wiccan. Eva relies on both of them, along with a cast of magical cohorts, to help her combat the witch hunt. But when magical retribution goes too far, Arbor’s salvation rests in the hands of a witch.

Excerpt

The Burning of Arbor
J.L. Brown © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
True magic has thrived in the world long before man documented such things. A spark of magic is present in every wish, at every birth and deathbed. It manifests itself in first kisses and first loves. It animates and inspires us. It abounds in the change of seasons, in the most remote forests and congested steel cities. Magic dwells within the rock of the mountains, and inhabits the waters of every stream and river and ocean. It exists both in the wondrous and mundane of every day. It is neither good nor evil. Magic bears no moral compass. The intention of the practitioner who wields it determines its use, for good or ill. And no one can escape magic’s most essential rule: what one projects into the universe will return threefold.

The Wiccan Rede states, “An ye harm none, do what ye will.”

I chose a different motto to live by. “Harm none, but take no shit.”

I was never good at following the rules, and I learned my lessons the hard way.

SUNDAY

I refused to cower. I clenched my fists to keep from fidgeting and sighed at the twinge of pain where my nails left half-moon imprints in my palms.

“Isn’t the bank usually closed on your Sabbath?” I asked, maintaining eye contact with the crotchety loan officer across the desk.

The woman could catapult my dreams had she the inclination, and I could tell she reveled in this power over me. My emerald stare seemed to unnerve her for a slim second, but she set her spine rigid. Her suspicious gaze rolled over me, and she twisted her wrinkled lips into a scowl.

“I thought it best not to delay the inevitable, Ms. Clarion. I’ll be brief. You know as well as I that this little scheme will never get off the ground. Arbor is a quiet, wholesome community, not well suited for your kind of… business venture.” She scrunched up her nose as if the notion itself smelled foul. “However, I am nothing if not by-the-book. I reviewed your application, and after considering every factor, I must decline your request. Your excessive student loans, exorbitant debt-to-income ratio, and lack-luster credit history disqualify you for a mortgage loan.”

“What about my savings?” I asked. This isn’t happening. This can’t be happening. Panic spiked my veins, and sweat beaded along my forehead.

“Your… savings?” she snickered. “Woefully inadequate.”

“It’s twenty thousand dollars!” I said, shooting to my feet.

“I am sorry, Ms. Clarion. There is nothing I can do for you.” But she wasn’t sorry. Her smug expression made that clear. She enjoyed withholding the means of my success.

Of course this is happening. The decision shouldn’t have shocked me, but it did, and it hurt. “So, that’s it?”

“I’m afraid so.”

I should’ve known better than to think anyone from Arbor would allow someone like me so public a platform. I might sully the well-crafted image of the town they so carefully portray to the world.

For as long as I could remember, I’d dreamed of owning a place to sell my artwork and designs, somewhere to perform. It would be a gathering spot for the creative, the different, the weird. I’d been saving for years.

This woman thinks she can crush my dreams in a single five-minute meeting? No fucking way. I’ll figure something out.

The glare of the noonday sun blinded me as I emerged from the Arbor Savings & Loan. Squinting, I sat on the bank’s steps to fish my sunglasses out of my bag. Once my vision adjusted, I took in the view along Parson Street, downtown Arbor’s main drag. It bustled with a Sunday afternoon’s lazy vigor. The Rockwellian cafés and shops teemed with the post–church-service crowd. Clusters of believers mingled and gossiped and bragged, decked out in their finest prim and proper attire. Arrogance and privilege marked their manners. Without a droplet of sweat on a single brow, the parishioners seemed somehow immune to the sun’s crushing heat. The air hung stagnant and oppressive in the conservative hamlet, nestled as it was into the base of Gothics Peak.

A piercing “Keeee-aaar” sounded from high above. I looked into the crystalline summer sky at a red-tailed hawk swooping in circles, his wings spread wide. I’d know that bird anywhere. Rocky had been my faithful familiar for almost nine years, since I’d entered high school. Besides his no-nonsense sagacity, Rocky granted me the ability to fly—when he was in close enough proximity for me to feed off his magic. He was the second familiar with whom I’d been blessed. Shasta came to me when I was eight, right after my mother died. Shasta never ventured into town, though. An abnormally large black bear walking amongst the masses wouldn’t go over well.

“Your meeting didn’t go as planned, I judge.” Rocky’s sharp, stately voice echoed within my mind.

“You judge correctly,” I replied in the same fashion.

“That backwards thinking pencil-pusher never had any intention of aiding you, and you know it. I’ll never understand why you bother with the fools in this town. Your talents would shine down in the city. That’s where you need to be.”

“You know I can’t leave Maggie.”

“No. You don’t want to leave your goddess-mother. Big difference.”

“I’m not going to argue semantics. I just want to get home and forget this entire morning.”

“Hate to break the news, but unless you plan on riding the wind with me, you face a delay.”

“I’ve already exceeded my maximum daily dose of aggravation, thank you very much. I’m done.”

“You don’t have a choice. Have you seen who’s planted in your path?”

Halfway down Parson Street, between me and where I’d parked my truck, was a gaggle I referred to as Arbor’s Most Moral. Mayor Doreen Crandall sat at a bistro table outside of Ebenezer’s Café. Beside her lounged Reverend Cudlow—pastor of the First Ecclesiastical Church of Arbor, the town’s only house of worship—and his haughty wife Gladys.

“Hurry by them, Evangeline, and do not dawdle. Shasta’s got her fur in a bunch.”

Without waiting for a reply, he caught the wind and headed back to our cottage.

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Meet the Author

I’ve always been a lover of words – reading them, writing them, singing them. And I’m known as a talker – especially about politics, usually at an abnormally loud volume. I was the kid who always got into trouble for staying up too late to read, and that habit has followed me into adulthood. Edgar Allen Poe, Anne Rice, J.K. Rowling, and Jane Austen are my greatest literary influences. Family is important to me, and I cherish the large Italian Catholic family that raised me. I’ve been married over 18 years. I’m a momma of two incredible boys. I have a small home in New Jersey, and enjoy listening to my husband’s music, camping, kayaking, and getting lost in the woods. I’m a coffee and wine drinker, and I believe chocolate can cure most ills.

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