Release Blitz: New Girl by A. Fae

Title: New Girl

Series: Collegiate Curves Series

Author: A. Fae

Publisher: A. Fae

Release Date: 4/15/19

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Female/Female

Length: 23k

Genre: Romance, New Adult, college, f/f, curvy girls. HFN, roommates

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Synopsis

Meg is excited to start her junior year at a new college in a small town. She’s heard plenty from other people about the Sweet Spot, a local bookstore and café, and quickly learns the Spot is indeed the “it Spot” in her new home away from home. Everything about her move seems promising save for being stuck in the transitional dorms until she can find a room to rent.

Lys is a senior art student, who spends most of her day working in the student art studio on campus. But when she’s free, she can be found hanging at the Spot or at her place in the small apartment complex, The Palms, home to many other Spot patrons and employees. As luck would have it, she is in need of a roommate and when she receives a promising phone call, she thinks she might have found the one.

The Sweet Spot is not only the “it Spot” for townies and college students alike, but it also happens to be the place where the lesbians (and gays) come to hang out a couple of times of the week. On one such night, when the sounds of karaoke fill the air, Meg and Lys have a chance meeting that goes beyond steamy fairly quickly. But little do they know their next encounter has already been made; set up by the two of them before either knew who the other was.

Will Meg find her home away from campus? Can Lys find the perfect roommate among the women in town, one who promises no partying or overnight guests? The first in the five-book Collegiate Curves novella series by A. Fae, New Girl answers these questions and more while telling the story of two women who start hot and heavy as strangers and end as much more than either ever bargained for.

Excerpt

I casually lifted my aviator glasses from over my eyes, using them as a headband to push back my long, stringy hair that, despite my oftentimes-heroic efforts each morning to straighten or curl it, was in desperate need of a trim and highlight. I hadn’t come to do more than check out the place, but I felt an interesting energy or vibe within the four walls of Sweet Spot—and quite a few sexy coeds to boot—so I figured I’d stick around for a bit.

I’m from a big city, and the laid-back feel of the town of Lakeshore was a refreshing change. I’d been anxious to transfer here since I was a senior in high school because their journalism program at the small, private liberal arts college was widely known to be one of the best in the country.

The only child to a single mother, my mother insisted I start with the community college close to home before moving over a thousand miles away. Now that I’m here. I’m not sure I’ll ever leave. I might even pursue my master’s when I complete my undergraduate degree.

Despite the entrance I’d made when I walked into Sweet Spot, I wasn’t necessarily an outgoing person. Confident, yes. An extrovert, no. However, I was far from reserved or shy. I didn’t mind the occasional spotlight. Considering how often we moved around when I was a kid—Mom liked to partner hop—on top of my struggling with being a size sixteen in a size zero world, fitting in wasn’t always easy. I was judged before folks got to know me.

Eventually, I learned to embrace my size, adapt quickly to new surroundings, and make friends easily. I had high hopes this transfer wouldn’t be any different. So, as I nodded absentmindedly and looked about the nifty gathering spot I’d found, I decided if I were going to find new friends anywhere, this would probably be the place to find them.

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Meet the Author

As a native Texan, Ashley dreams of cool fall days where she can sit with her laptop outside and soak in the autumn sun while the breeze blows through her hair. She can often be found settling disputes between her two chihuahuas over whose turn it is in her lap–especially when she is attempting to bring her stories to life. When she’s not avidly reading or watching movies, she’s crafting worlds on paper. Growing up she could never find people like her in the books she read and decided if she couldn’t find them in other people’s work, she would make them up on her own.

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Release Blitz: I Knew Him by Abigail de Niverville

Title: I Knew Him

Author: Abigail de Niverville

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 15, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 69600

Genre: Contemporary YA, LGBT, contemporary, Canada, YA, high school, theater, angst, bisexual, coming-of-age, coming out, interracial, slow burn, alcohol use, family drama

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Synopsis

In his senior year of high school, Julian has one goal: be invisible. All he wants is to study hard, play basketball, and pretend he’s straight for one more year. Then, he can run away to university and finally tell the world he’s bisexual. And by “the world,” he means everyone but his mom and best friend. That’s two conversations he never wants to have.

When he’s talked into auditioning for the school’s production of Hamlet, Julian fears that veering off course will lead to assumptions he’s not ready to face. Despite that, he can’t help but feel a connection to this play. His absent father haunts him like a ghost, his ex is being difficult, and he’s overthinking everything. It’s driving him crazy.

The decision to audition leads Julian on an entirely different path. He’s cast as Hamlet, and the boy playing Horatio is unlike anyone Julian has met before. Mysterious and flirtatious, Sky draws Julian in, even though he fears his feelings at the same time. As the two grow closer, Julian begins to let out the secrets he’s never told—the ones that have paralyzed him for years. But what will he do if Sky feels the same way?

Excerpt

I Knew Him
Abigail de Niverville © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One
7:35 PM: We need to talk.

8:00 PM: I’m sorry.

9:17 PM: I know you’re awake.

9:20 PM: Please answer my calls.

10:00 PM: At least check your voicemail.

10:47 PM: Julian?

“Shut up Lucy,” I muttered, fingering the phone in my hands. I placed it on top of my chest and watched it rise and fall as I breathed. The glow-in-the-dark stars on Will’s bedroom ceiling had faded through the years, but they were still visible. I repeated the constellations in my head as I found them: Orion, Aquarius, Cassiopeia.

Will was already sound asleep in his bed, but I’d never been more awake. Everything I’d said replayed in my mind, every mistake I’d ever made flashing like a movie.

My phone vibrated again, and I jolted upright, the mattress groaning underneath. The message flashed on my screen as I glanced down at my hand.

I still love you.

“Shit.”

I didn’t want Lucy to want me anymore. I wanted her to leave me alone, let me self-destruct in peace. She didn’t need my bullshit anymore. I was trying to spare her.

Before my phone went off again, I rolled off the mattress onto the floor and crept out of the room. Will barely stirred through all the commotion. I grabbed his set of keys from the desk and slipped out of his room.

Outside, the air was cool and damp. We’d started the second week of school and everything was still kind of green, but the smell of partially decaying leaves surrounded me. I sighed heavily, the breeze stinging my face. I probably should’ve put on a sweater before I stepped out, but I didn’t want to turn back now.

I ran out into the street and jogged a couple blocks, unsure of my plan, besides getting the fuck away from everything and everyone. Just being silent with the night and forgetting I was a bad boyfriend and an even worse friend. It was kind of cloudy, but some of the stars shone through. I craned my neck and walked in a tight circle, spotting the North Star and part of Orion’s Belt. Too cloudy for much else.

The sound of tires on the patched pavement snapped my attention to ground level. I stepped out of the way of an SUV and watched it inch down the road. The driver had the window rolled down, and he poked his head out as he passed me. His blond hair was slicked back, and his lips were full. He reminded me of a model.

He squinted his eyes at me, like he was trying to place where he’d seen me before. I just knew I’d never seen him before. Or had I?

“Salut,” he said, his accent thick. He must’ve been a student at one of the French schools. What was he doing in Riverview, somewhere totally anglophone? Anyone who went to the French schools and lived in Riverview was an anglophone who was good at French.

“Hi,” I said warily.

“I remember you,” he said, mouth quirking into a smile. “Last summer. Austin’s party.”

“You remember that?” I tried to place him in my memory, but I’d been drunk for a good part of last summer. Lucy had broken up with me, and I was devastated. That time, I’d really wanted things to work out.

“How could I forget you?” he drawled, smiling again. It would’ve been sweet if I wasn’t so on edge. And also incredibly sober. Drunk me always wanted everything sober me never took. Sober me was never what he remembered.

“I’m sorry. I don’t remember.”

He licked his lips thoughtfully, parted them slightly. “Let me help you remember.”

I shook my head, though part of me kind of wanted to remember. He had lips that were perfect for kissing. And the pieces were falling together in my head. An empty basement room, the air thick from smoke and humid heat. And a blond boy with messy hair with his hands on my waist. He kissed me.

“I have a girlfriend.”

He rolled his eyes. “And I’m straight.” He laughed softly and shook his head. When he regained his composure, he glanced down at me again. “Take care, you mess of a boy.”

He rolled away from me, and his car crept down the street and turned the corner. I waited until the sounds of his engine died away into the night before I dared move.

Letting out a sigh of relief, I pushed the hair back from my forehead. My whole body shook. I never expected the worlds of drunk and sober me to meet. Not this way. Not this year. We only had two more semesters of school. This wasn’t the time to change everything. It was all about surviving and moving on.

I needed to be what people thought I was. People here would never understand. Better to go away and let them find out much later. That was the way it had to be.

I breathed deeply again, trying to regain my composure. It had only been a moment, and he wasn’t a boy who went to my school. He was just a boy. Less faceless than before, but still anonymous. And people like him didn’t belong to someone like me. Not yet. I wasn’t ready for the world to see me.

My phone vibrated again. This time, it wasn’t Lucy texting. Will’s name flashed on the screen.

Where are you??

Had to get some air. I wrote. Can’t sleep.

Get over here. We got school.

I let out a grim laugh. School was the last thing on my mind right then. Lucy and boys danced in my head. I couldn’t stop it. I didn’t know how. The two were linked somehow. Lucy and my failure to love her—and the boys I kissed every time we ended things.

She deserved better than me. She deserved someone who wasn’t afraid, who told her about the storm overtaking him. Who wouldn’t let her assume he was on drugs or cheating because he was too afraid to admit he wasn’t…

Straight.

I hated that word. I hated the alternatives. Hell, maybe I hated everything.

I craned my neck to look to the sky again and stared at the clouds passing over the horizon. When the wind picked up again, the frozen cold on my cheek made me aware I’d been crying.

“Shit,” I muttered, wiping at my cheek. I had to keep myself together.

This place had closed me in. I needed to survive one more year, and then I’d escape forever.

“Jules!”

I wiped at my cheeks again as Will’s yells grew closer. He was wearing his pyjamas and jean jacket, carrying my hoodie. His flip-flops slapped on the pavement, echoing in the quiet street.

“Fuck, Jules!” he panted when he reached me. “What are you doing?”

I shrugged. “Thinking.”

He furrowed his brow. In the orange lamplight, his red hair was almost brown, and the freckles on his face were dark pinpricks. “About Lucy?”

I nodded and didn’t elaborate.

“You realize you don’t have to break up with her?” he suggested with a small laugh.

I pulled the hoodie over my head. “No, I should. We keep fighting.”

“My parents fight all the time,” he offered. “And they’re fine.”

“I don’t know,” I sighed. “I just think she’s miserable with me. I need to…let her go.”

“She doesn’t want to.”

“Yeah, well, maybe I do,” I shot at him.

Will raised his hands and took a step away. “Well, whatever. Whatever will make you happy.”

Happiness didn’t seem to be an option.

He squinted, as if he were trying to break me apart and analyze me, the wheels turning in his head as he tried to find the right question. “But you’re okay?”

“I’m fine.” He’d meant to ask me something else, but I wasn’t going to give him the answer he wanted to hear.

“Okay. Let’s go.”

I followed Will to his house with heavy steps. What had only been hours seemed like a lifetime since I’d told Lucy we needed to break up. Since she’d cried and screamed about how much she loved me. Since I’d been too upset to go home to an empty apartment while my mom worked the night shift.

I slumped down on the mattress Will had laid out on the floor next to his bed. Remembering I held the spare keys in one hand, I threw them on the desk.

“I’m going early,” Will said once we’d settled under our covers.

“To school? Why?”

“Gotta practice for this group project. You wanna drive me?”

“No,” I scoffed, pulling the blanket to my chin. “Nice try.”

He laughed softly and rolled over so his back faced me. “Try to sleep, Jules.”

And then, he was out.

But sleep wasn’t easy for me. I kept thinking about Lucy and boys. And how Will was too good a friend to me. He’d let me come and go whenever I needed to. He didn’t question it anymore. Sometimes, he tried to ask the hard questions, but he didn’t push when I was in a bad way. I wished I could tell him everything. But I couldn’t. He’d assume what he wanted to assume. He wouldn’t understand.

No one could.

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Meet the Author

Abigail de Niverville is an author and composer based in Toronto, Canada. Born on the East Coast of Canada, Abigail draws inspiration from her experiences growing up there. When she’s not writing frantically, she also composes music and holds an M.Mus from the University of Toronto.

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Release Blitz: Moonstruck by Aleksandr Voinov and LA Witt

Title: Moonstruck

Author: Aleksandr Voinov & LA Witt

Publisher: 44 Raccoons

Release Date: 12 April 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 95,000

Genre: Romance, contemporary, friends to lovers, may/December

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Synopsis

Anthony Rawson is screwed. Fans, producers, and his agent are all chomping at the bit for the next book in his wildly popular Triple Moon series, but he’s got epic writer’s block and is way behind deadline. Then he reads Axis Mundi, a fanfic novel by his online friend “SirMarrok.” It isn’t just a great story—it’s exactly what the series needs.

Samir Daoud is thrilled when “Ulfhedinn” wants to meet up after reading Axis Mundi. When Ulfhedinn turns out to be Anthony Rawson himself, Samir is starstruck. When Anthony tells him he wants to add Axis Mundi to the Triple Moon series, Samir is sure he’s being pranked. And when their online chemistry carries over—big-time—into real life, Samir is convinced it’s all too good to be true.

The problem is … it might be. The book deal, the sex, the money—everything is amazing. But fame isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, and Samir is left wondering if Anthony really loves him, or just loves his book.

Excerpt

Grimacing, he stood and went back into the kitchen to plug in his phone. While it charged, he poured himself a cup of reheated half-day-old coffee, and as he drank it, he stared at his darkened phone. Axis Mundi was amazing. No two ways about it. He wondered what SirMarrok would think if he knew who he’d sent it to. He was probably shy and socially awkward—what writer wasn’t?—and thought he was sending this book to some other Triple Moon fan. Not the author himself.

I need to know the face behind this book.

Anthony tapped his fingers on the counter beside his phone. The two of them had chatted and emailed, even flirted a bit—okay, a lot—but they’d never exchanged photos or real names. According to SirMarrok’s administrator profile, he lived in a suburb of Seattle, so just a few hours away.

Anthony opened his email and quickly wrote out a message.

SirM,

This book is fucking amazing. Would you be interested in discussing it over coffee?

Ulf

Before he could think twice, he hit Send.

Even though he reloaded the page a few times, SirMarrok didn’t respond immediately.

His stomach grumbled again, and he opened the fridge to check for edibles, but nothing appealed to him. There was one lone pomegranate in the crisper, but that didn’t count for a full meal, especially after Ryan had warned him about not eating enough protein right after training. Nobody delivered pizza out here, and he might have been able to throw something together based on the two vine tomatoes, the half jar of pesto, and the red onion he’d spotted, but what he really wanted to do was sit down and read the rest of the story, even though he should probably do his fucking job and at least go up to the office to bang his head against the half novel that was mocking him from the twenty-four inch screen.

Just then, the intercom buzzed—one long, two short. Thank God, it was Chastity. He padded to the door and opened it. She held a pile of letters and a cookie tin. “Hey, do you have time?”

Code for, “You’re not writing, are you?”

“Come on in.” He stood aside and waved her into the house. “You know you don’t have to buzz me, right?”

“I know, but God forbid I let myself in while you’re in the zone.”

“Much appreciated. Fortunately, I’m not.” He started toward the kitchen. “I was reading. Checking something in the chronology.”

“So how’s the book going?” she asked.

“It’s not really going, but I’m working on it.” He resisted checking whether SirMarrok had responded. He knew stalkers and obsessives, and he wouldn’t turn into either of those. “How’re you?”

“Jesse’s off to his grandparents, so …” She shrugged. “Kind of bored, I guess.” Between being Anthony’s bodyguard, part-time PA, and the mom of a very active eight-year-old, Chas had the patience of a Swiss glacier. Bored or not, she deserved a break.

“Have you eaten yet?”

“I have. And I brought you muffins, in case you’re interested.” She put the tin down. “Jesse didn’t manage to eat all of them, though he gave it a good try.”

“Thank you, St. Jesse, patron saint of starving artists.” He opened the tin and found one of the banana-and-chocolate ones that he loved. Beat cooking for one person while feeling guilty about not writing. “Coffee?”

“I’m too wired. I’ll make tea?”

“Sure.” He offered her the kitchen with a sweeping gesture, “Mi casa es su casa.”

She gave him an ironic glance, considering she lived on the property as part of her package (and because her last house had been torched by her crazy ex). While she went through the cupboards to assemble a teapot and hot water, Anthony demolished the muffin in a few bites, and then set up the coffee machine again.

“So, planning a long night?”

“There’s a full moon. I absolutely plan on a long night.” He had the most amazing view from the office, and he could happily spend a few hours gazing at the moon if the novel didn’t budge. The whole werewolf thing had started because some of his Army buddies had teased him about being a secret werewolf: nocturnal, “dark brooding charm,” a penchant for taking solo night hikes during full moons—all of that. And look where it had taken him.

“You getting anywhere with that book?”

Anthony groaned.

Chas laughed. “Still?”

“Still.” His eyes darted toward his phone. “Of course, then one of my fans manages to figure out exactly where the story needs to go.”

“You’re letting fans beta read for you now?”

“No, no. I told you about SirMarrok, right?”

“Sir—” Her eyes lost focus. “Oh, right. From that fan site.”

“Yeah. He finished his book. And it’s …” Anthony sighed and threw up his hands. “It’s amazing.”

“So what are you going to do? Ask him if you can use it?”

Anthony straightened. “I’m not going to take his work.”

“No, but if it’s really that good for the series …”

“I don’t know. Leanne will probably blow a gasket if she even finds out I’ve been reading fanfic, never mind wanting to incorporate some of it into the series.”

“If the alternative is waiting another year for the eighth book, she might be flexible.”

Anthony laughed dryly. “Good point. Well, I emailed him to see if he wants to meet and talk about it.” His stomach clenched. Had that been too forward? Didn’t SirMarrok like meeting people in real life? Might think—

“Oh, Anthony.” Chas snickered. “You’re so adorable when you’re flustered.”

“What?”

She rolled her eyes. “The second you mentioned meeting him, you got all tense and pink.” She gestured at her cheeks, and Anthony could suddenly feel the heat in his own.

“I’m just a little nervous. He has no idea who I am.”

Her eyebrow arched. “Is that the only reason you’re nervous? Because he’ll find out his biggest fan is Anthony Michael Rawson?”

“I …”

Chas laughed again and patted his arm. “So adorable.”

“Shut up.”

“Is that any way to talk to the woman who keeps the stalkers away at cons?”

He groaned theatrically. “Fine. Sorry. And yes, it is the only reason I’m nervous about meeting him.”

“Bullshit it is.”

“What? What are you talking about?”

She ticked the points off on her fingers. “You blush whenever you mention him. You’re clearly more nervous about meeting him than you were about being on a panel with a bunch of your literary idols at Comic-Con. You actually think I’m going to believe for a second you’re nervous about meeting another writer who’s—”

“Okay, okay, I get it. But you’re still wrong. I’m just, okay, maybe a little intimidated by this kid.”

Chas blinked. “Intimidated? Why?”

He waved a hand at his phone. “Because he can write fucking circles around me with my own goddamned characters! What the hell am I supposed to say to him, anyway? ‘You clearly know my own world better than I do, so how much do you charge to save my ass?’” He shook his head. “Fuck, I shouldn’t have emailed him. It isn’t like I can use his book, and for all I know, he completely botches the ending anyway.”

“And how likely do you think that is?”

Anthony met her gaze, then sighed. “About as likely as me finishing book eight by tomorrow morning.”

“Sounds like he might save your ass, then.” She smirked and started to speak, but he gestured sharply at her.

“Don’t even say it.”

“Say what?”

He glared, and she smothered a laugh.

“All right, I won’t say it. But has he responded to your email yet?”

“I don’t know.” He glanced at the phone again, eyeing it like it had morphed into a spider that was about to bite his hand. “I haven’t checked.”

“Well.” She nodded toward the spider-phone. “Check it.”

He hesitated, but figured there was no point in arguing with her—there never was—and picked up the phone. He refreshed his inbox, revealing several new emails. Most were notifications about posts on threads he’d been following on the fan site, but there it was:

SirMarrok.

Holding his breath, he tapped the message.

Are you serious? Coffee? That’d be great. When/where? — SM

Anthony was almost certain that if Chas hadn’t been standing there, he’d have made a very undignified sound. Only her presence and playful scrutiny saved him.

“He wants to meet.” And Anthony couldn’t help grinning like an idiot. Probably blushing again, if the heat in his cheeks was any indication.

“Aww.” Chas grinned. “So it’s a date?”

“It is not a date.”

“Why not?”

“Besides the fact that he’s probably half my age?”

She snorted. “Or maybe twice your age?”

Anthony rolled his eyes. “Point being, I want to meet him because I want to talk writing. Maybe I can hook him up with Leanne, get his career going.” Unless, of course, he was already a seasoned writer who’d been impersonating a newbie to get his kicks. But no. No. SirMarrok had seemed really fucking genuine about everything. Anthony didn’t know that much about him in real life—they’d mostly talked writing and wolves and fan stuff. He’d kept his own life under wraps so he could be himself. Which was ironic. This whole fame thing locked him into behaviors and reputation and expectations.

“Anthony.” She folded her arms and arched her eyebrow. “It is okay to get involved with someone. You know, if you click.”

“And it’s okay not to get involved with people.” He sipped his coffee. “I’ve done just fine this long.”

Chas studied him. “You get lonely sometimes.”

He shrugged. “Happily married people feel crowded sometimes. Doesn’t mean they want the other person to leave. In my case, yeah, I get lonely once in a while.” Another shrug. “Doesn’t mean I want someone else in my space.” They’d had this discussion before, and the thought of going through the whole thing again exhausted him, so before she could answer, he held up his phone. “You mind if I send him a quick reply?”

She waved a hand. “Sure.”

He typed out, You’re in the Seattle area? What about Saturday, around lunch? You choose the location. He knew SirMarrok was working in IT—he sometimes referred to a “job” and a “boss.” And if they hit it off, he wanted the option of spending a few hours rather than being constrained by schedules and such. Damn that need for a day job for most writers. A talent like SirMarrok should be raking it in and choosing his own hours.

“So what’re you going to wear, Casanova?”

“Uh. I was planning to go kind of low-key.” Thank God he’d only given in to that author photo-related pressure after the publisher had agreed that it didn’t necessarily have to resemble him; some atmospheric black-and-white shoots and Photoshop had made sure he didn’t really look like the guy on the jacket. However, if SirMarrok was the überfan he appeared to be, he’d have seen Anthony at conventions, or on Tumblr and YouTube. “Won’t be fooling him I guess. Damn.”

“Ah, the burden of fame.” Chas put a hand on her heart.

“Well, I could use a little break. Head out to Seattle on Friday, watch a movie or something, and come back on Sunday? You want to come along?”

“Movie sounds great.” She opened his fridge and made a face. “I have a nice ratatouille bake at the house.”

“No competition from the lone pomegranate.”

“I thought so. And while I go get that …” She pointed at the pile of letters. “A few nice ones this time.”

“That’s because you burn the nasty ones.” He finished off his coffee. “How bad were the bad ones?”

“Mostly threats over the next book not coming out.”

“Christ, every time I read one of those I want to kill a character.”

“Yeah, yeah, Mr. George R. R. Martin, we know.” She laughed. “I’ll go get that ratatouille.”

She left the kitchen, and Anthony’s gaze went back to his phone. So that was that. In a few days, he’d meet the guy who apparently knew his own stories better than he did. And much like the unfinished book upstairs, he had no idea how this weekend was going to play out.

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Meet the Author

Aleksandr Voinov is an emigrant German author living near London, where he works as an financial editor, writing coach, and complementary therapist. At 43 years of age, Voinov has written more than two dozen novels and published five novels with German publishers. After many years working in the horror, science fiction, cyberpunk and fantasy genres, Voinov is now primarily writing queer fiction.

Described as a “workaholic speed-writing freak” by fellow writers, a “creative writing class drill sergeant” by his writing ‘padawans’, Voinov is a self-confessed geek and has enlarged his days by 12 secret hours in return for the sacrifice of ten albino virgin pygmy hippos.

Voinov’s style has been called “dynamic to the point of breathlessness” and “disturbingly poetic” by publishers and literary agents. A recurring theme in his fiction is “the triumph of the human spirit” or an individual rising to challenge the status quo in a world gone bad.

Intellectually, he is drawn to the dark side of human nature and history. As a trained historian, he is fascinated by wars, religion and the conflict between the individual and society.

Interests at the moment include WWII, medieval siege warfare, William Marshall, the Golden Age of Piracy, and whale-hunting. These interests are subject to change from one day to the other, and Voinov single-handedly sustains two bookshops in London.

Public Contact Email: vashtan@gmail.com
Website: http://www.aleksandrvoinov.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/aleksandr.voinov.12
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vashtan
Goodreads Author Profile: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3074905.Aleksandr_Voinov
Tumblr: http://aleksandrvoinov.tumblr.com/
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/aleksandrvoinov
Newsletter: https://us3.list-manage.com/subscribe

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Release Blitz: Hunter by Dez Schwartz

Title: Hunter

Series: Roam, Book Two

Author: Dez Schwartz

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 8, 2019

Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 50800

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, Vampires, other paranormal beings, sandman, Dream World, magic

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Synopsis

Dr. Grady Hunter has a vampire infestation on his hands in the town of Shady Pines, but he’s been deserted by those best suited to help. After enlisting Chris Reed, a techno-mage, they find the vampires might only be the tip of a deadly iceberg.

Returning home from his dream travels, Ethan Roam is eager to experiment with his newly discovered powers. But Ethan isn’t the only familiar arrival in Grady’s life. As more reminders of his dark past crop up, Grady and Ethan are swept up in a mystery of cosmic proportions.

Grady must fight to keep an ever-evolving Ethan on his side while being challenged by the ghosts of his past.

Excerpt

The old park in Shady Pines was the stuff of nightmares. Or so it would seem to anyone who happened upon the derelict area after the sun set. In actuality, it was simply a park. Located across from the oldest district in the small Texas city of Shady Pines and near the edge of a small forest encompassing the town, the park was extremely rundown and typically abandoned during the daytime. A snapshot of times past, the neglected playground had standard metal slides and jungle gyms, before modern worries of bruises, broken bones, and burns on hot afternoons. Like most cities, Shady Pines had since created newer and safer places for families to gather. And so, the old park had fallen to ruin but still remained hopeful its ghosts would return to play again.

As it happened, quite a few creatures loved to play there, but they were rarely of the human set. Part of what made the place so eerie was park’s location. Once sunset arrived, a thick fog would roll in from the marshes in the woods and overtake the area. If one were to stand there, as Dr. Grady Hunter was doing now, the murky haze would only rise to roughly one’s waist depending on their height. The moon would hang bright and looming overhead, as it also was now, to cast shadows all around. And a breeze would cause swings to sway, and the paint chipped merry-go-round to spin ever so slightly, as was also happening now. At least, one would hope the movement was due to the breeze. Unless, of course, the person was Dr. Grady Hunter and was hoping for something else.

“Any signs of movement? Blast this fog!” Grady, a semi-former monster hunter and more recently self-appointed alternative healer of supernaturals, whispered into the small microphone on the headset he was wearing. His British accent was always strongest when he was frustrated. The park wasn’t his first choice of venue to lure vampires, but any abandoned buildings or dark alleys would provide them too much of an advantage and surely seem like a setup. They would definitely be suspicious. He supposed they should be suspicious of a man in his late thirties strolling through the old park at night alone but, as the case happened, they appeared to find that behavior completely normal.

“Nada. And don’t worry about the fog. The visuals I’m pulling from my cameras penetrate right through it.” A casually confident, and extremely American in contrast, male voice replied back from the other side of the communication device between sounds of chewing.

“Are you eating right now? We’re working!” Grady admonished, still in a whisper as he slowly strolled through the park with his hand hovering by his waist. He had a number of weapons at the ready beneath his long brown coat in case he was successful in finding what he was looking for.

“Please, I’m the king of multitasking. Besides, it’s past my dinnertime and I can’t refuse a sushi place if I pass one,” the voice responded. Grady could tell the man on the other side, Chris Reed, was smiling. Then, he became urgent. “Ahab, you’ve got a white whale at ten o’clock.”

“That’s not my code name. We don’t have code names. Don’t make things up on the spot. It’s distracting,” Grady griped but whipped around to face whatever was heading his way.

“If we did, though, I think I’d want to be Zaphod,” Chris replied, obviously slurping a drink. “Your target is hovering by the slide. Not the loopy one. The tall straight one. I fell off a slide once when I was a kid. I was pretending to be Indiana Jones. Broke my wrist. Great summer.”

“Your lifelong aspiration to be fictional characters is both charming and annoying. Going silent now,” Grady replied as he stalked slowly in the direction of the slide. He reached inside his jacket for a stake. He saw a figure’s shadow wavering across the top of the fog. It definitely appeared human, which most likely meant it was a vampire. He tried to keep his weapon concealed beneath the haze and pretended he was simply walking in the same direction, unaware of the creature’s presence.

“Whip out the big boy! It’s an ambush from behind!” Chris shouted in his ear. Unable to keep from chuckling, he added, “That didn’t come out how I meant. But seriously, you’re under attack. “

Grady immediately switched to a revolving handheld crossbow, which was loaded with a round of stakes, should a situation such as this ever arise. He spun on his heel in time to see four vampires running full speed in his direction. He shot one down but then had to momentarily turn his attention back to the first vampire, who had taken the opportunity to pounce on him.

Grady wrestled free of his grip and knocked him onto the slide where he toppled over the edge and onto the ground.

“Yeah, pretty much how I broke my wrist,” Chris commented.

“Oh, do shut up!” Grady shouted back in the mic. The outburst caused some mild confusion for the vampires as none of them had been speaking, but it didn’t deter them from continuing their attack.

Two of the vampires lifted Grady and slammed him into the ground on his back, knocking the wind out of him. He felt a cracking pain he didn’t have time to assess, as one of the vampires straddled his chest and went fangs-first for his neck. He managed to pull the revolver up to the creature’s chest and let loose a stake right before he was torn into. He rolled free, still with three vampires to face and precisely three stakes left in his crossbow.

“This is exciting. You’re doing a great job, boss!” Chris complimented.

“Not! Helpful!” Grady panted as he attempted to catch his breath. He didn’t get much of a break as another vampire grabbed him by the shoulder and jerked his arm backward, trying to rip the crossbow from his grasp. Grady shouted in response to the wrenching pain.

“Keep him there!” Chris commanded. “I can get a shot in. He’s right in the line of fire.”

“I’m not the one in control at the moment, thank you!” Grady grieved between gritted teeth as he tried to maintain control of the weapon against the thrashing pull of the vampire. Thankfully, the vampire on the other side of the slide was only now running over to try to help his cohort, and the third had opted to watch the scene rather than participate.

A wild shot seemed to fly in out of nowhere. Grady knew the attack came from one of the cameras they had placed around the park for their mission. Attached to the bottom of each supernatural night vision camera was a small loaded device that would shoot a stake with bullet-like precision when activated. It was one of the many weapons they’d had to develop and utilize in the past few months as the vampire infestation in Shady Pines had progressively gotten worse and Grady found himself without much help in dealing with the problem.

Ethan Roam, his new partner in both work and life—who happened to be a sandman, was still away dream traveling. Benny, weredog and roommate, was living the high life as a spoiled Chihuahua fifty percent of the time, rendering him practically ineffective. Vivian Edwards, a highly skilled witch and his former secretary, refused to speak to him or respond to any of his messages. Ethan’s mother, Karen Roam, and their mutual friend, Dr. Arthur Ellis, were eager to help. However, while they were fine comrades in research, they were useless in the field. Grady had no choice but to call upon an old acquaintance to help with the crisis. Chris Reed, a rogue hunter and techno-mage. Thankfully, Chris was more than capable and equally enthusiastic at the prospect. He enjoyed inventing new ways to destroy and capture supernatural creatures, and he’d decided working with Grady was a fantastic way to demo his creations. Unfortunately, even with Chris’s handiwork and help, they hadn’t made much of a dent in the vampire population, which was rapidly growing and terrorizing the citizens (and other paranormals) who generally enjoyed a night out from time to time.

The shot hit the vampire perfectly, and Grady fell forward onto his knees, free of the monster’s grasp. This, however, caused the crossbow to fly free from the ended struggle and fall into the fog. Grady couldn’t see where the weapon landed and began swearing. Knowing he had only moments, he reached back into his jacket and produced two khukuri knives. He stood quickly, ready to face the vampire who had been standing by watching, but was surprised to find he’d disappeared.

“Bugger! One escaped. Did you see where he went?” Grady asked into the mic as he rounded on the last vampire, already furiously leaping toward him.

“Dammit! No. I’m sorry,” Chris replied. “I had my eye on my shot.”

Grady pulled up the khukuri knives on either side of the vampire’s throat as the creature attempted to attack him. The vampire’s eyes grew wide in surprise, realizing he was about to be beheaded. He met Grady’s gaze in a pleading manner. Grady hated when they did that. It made him think of Dacey Sinnett, the only vampire he’d ever call a friend, and he suddenly felt sick to his stomach. Grady did his best to keep his resolve.

“Tell me who is leading you, or I will end you right now!” Grady demanded, his expression ferociously serious.

“You’ll do it anyway,” the vampire spat back.

Grady shoved his weight forward and slammed him up against the slide, blades tightly gripped around the vampire’s neck.

“Your cooperation may convince me otherwise. Now answer the question!” he commanded again.

“You’re great at playing bad cop, Grady,” Chris interjected in his ear. Once again, he practically heard him grinning. Grady wished he could rip his headset off but right now his hands were full.

“I don’t know his name,” the vampire played along. “He showed up out of nowhere a few months ago. Started making promises and threats; demanding that we help him.”

“Help him with what?” Grady seized the opportunity to gather much-needed information. “And is he a vampire? A human? Something else?”

“He wants us to tear this pathetic town to pieces until we find—” The vampire’s answer was forever halted as he was hit expertly with a stake.

“Dammit! Chris, was that you?” Grady yelled angrily.

“No!” Chris was defensive. Grady stood, with no vampire left to interrogate, and looked around. He saw the source at the same time Chris must have on the cameras.

“Guess he found your crossbow,” Chris sighed limply as the last vampire, the one who had gone missing, ran off into the night after killing their only chance at finding some answers.

Grady kicked the slide in frustration which caused a metallic gong to echo around the now empty park. They weren’t any closer to dealing with the problem or having any real answers.

“Sorry tonight was a bust, man,” Chris consoled.

“Same story, different night,” Grady sighed. He brushed off as much dirt and grass from his jacket and pants as possible and attempted to calm his frustrations.

“Don’t worry, tiger. We’ll get them one of these days.” Chris was already back to his upbeat self. “If it’s any consolation, you looked like a total badass. I have to admit, watching you fight has to be my second favorite thing about this gig.”

“Oh, really? And what’s the first?” Grady smirked. Chris didn’t let anyone feel down for too long.

“The inevitable moments where I get to save your ass, of course,” Chris chimed.

“Prat.” Grady rolled his eyes but smiled anyway as he headed back through the park toward his old Jaguar.

“Twat,” Chris responded without missing a beat. Grady chuckled. If nothing else, at least having Chris around kept up morale.

“Go ahead and take the rest of the night off,” Grady said, getting into his vehicle. He glanced back at the park once more, in case he missed something, but the area remained quiet and empty. “I suppose Benny already went home?”

“Yeah, he left a while back. He said watching would make him nervous. And to be honest, I’m not much of a fan of small yapping dogs,” Chris replied. Grady heard him shutting off various equipment in the background.

“All right. See you tomorrow, then.” Grady turned off the headset and tossed the device into the passenger seat. He leaned back into the headrest and closed his eyes, inhaling deeply and slowly letting his breath back out.

“Find. What could they possibly want to find so badly in Shady Pines?” Grady asked himself aloud as he recalled what the vampire tried to tell him. The pit of his stomach tightened and his heart grew heavy because he had a pretty good idea of what, or whom, that might be.

He brought the car to life and drove straight home, feeling the need to be at Ethan’s sleeping side.

Purchase

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Meet the Author

Vampire apologist and lifelong enthusiast of classic gothic horror, cryptids, and the occult; Dez Schwartz writes Dreampunk & Paranormal LGBTQ Fiction with a spellbinding balance of darkness and humor. When she’s not busy writing, she can most likely be found with a latte in hand, perusing antique shops for oddities and peculiar vintage books or wrangling her demonic (but adorable) cats.

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Release Blitz: Royal Rescue by A Alex Logan

Title: Royal Rescue

Author: A. Alex Logan

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 8, 2019

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance, Male/Male

Length: 111500

Genre: New Adult Fantasy, LGBT, asexual, high fantasy, dragons, royalty, magic, young adult, gay, family drama, hurt/comfort

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Synopsis

At age eighteen, when they become marriageable, all royal children in the Thousand Kingdoms must either go questing to rescue another royal or be hidden away to await rescue themselves. Some go the traditional route of princes rescuing princesses, but not all princes want to be rescuers…and some would rather rescue other princes.

Then there’s Prince Gerald, who has no interest in getting married at all. When he refuses to choose a role as either rescuer or rescuee, his royal parents choose for him and have him magicked away to a distant tower to await a spouse.

Gerald, however, is having none of it. He recruits his guardian dragon and a would-be rescuer and soon the trio is dashing to all corners of the united kingdoms on a quest to overturn the entire system.

Excerpt

Gerald followed the steward to the study wearing an expression that would have been more appropriate if he were being led to the dungeon. The steward rapped on the door twice before opening it and stepping aside for Gerald. She gave the young man an encouraging wink, but he was too intent on bracing himself for the upcoming confrontation to notice.

He took a deep breath, visibly set his shoulders and stepped through the doorway. The steward closed the door behind him, and Gerald fought back the feeling of being trapped.

“Don’t lurk in the doorway,” an imposing voice scolded. “Come in where I can see you.”

Gerald did as he was told, stopping and giving a shallow bow when the woman came into view. She nodded, acknowledging the courtesy, which caused the sunlight streaming in through the window to catch and reflect off her golden crown.

Gerald resisted the urge to reach up and touch his own circlet—silver—which he too late realized was probably once again askew.

“Well?” the Queen asked. “Have you made your decision?”

Another deep breath, another forceful straightening of his shoulders, and Gerald said, a hint of defiance in his tone, “I have.”

The Queen’s harsh expression broke into a smile. “Oh, Gerald, thank goodness. Your mum and I were about at our wits’ end! There’s barely enough time left to make all the arrangements. So, what will it be? Rescuer or rescuee?”

“Neither.”

The smile melted off the Queen’s face. “Neither! Don’t be ridiculous, Gerald. You said you had made your decision.”

“I have,” he said, crossing his arms in front of his chest. “I’ve decided not to participate.”

“That is not an option,” she said coldly, the warmth in her voice gone the same way as the smile. “As you are well aware.”

“I don’t wish to marry,” Gerald replied, trying to match her tone but not quite managing it. “As you are well aware.”

The Queen waved her hand dismissively. “This is merely the first step. It may take a year or even two for you to rescue—or be rescued by—someone who appeals. Then there’s the courtship, the inter-kingdom negotiations, planning the festivities…why, unless it’s True Love and you two want to rush things, I doubt the wedding will happen before you turn twenty-one.”

“I didn’t say ‘I don’t wish to marry in the next three years’,” Gerald said, forcing himself to keep his voice level even as he balled his hands into fists. “I said, ‘I don’t wish to marry.’ As in, ever.”

But the Queen was no longer listening.

“I really don’t know where we went wrong with you,” she said. “We never had this sort of problem with your older siblings or even your twinling…”

“Don’t call her that,” Gerald snapped. “You know how much I hate that—we’re not twins, we’re not even sort-of twins. We’re half-siblings at best and maybe not even related at all.”

The Queen looked up at the ceiling as if imploring it to give her strength. “Now you’re being deliberately obtuse,” she snapped back. “You know very well that the term ‘twinling’ has been in use for at least a century throughout every single one of the Thousand Kingdoms, and it’s a perfectly apt word. You’re acting like your mum and I made it up to irritate you. You’re acting like a child, Gerald.”

“Isn’t the point of all this that I am a child?” he responded. “Isn’t the entire purpose of this whole charade of rescue and marriage to make me into an adult?”

“It’s hardly a charade. It’s—”

“—a well-respected, long-established tradition to encourage young royals to broaden their horizons, explore more of the Thousand Kingdoms, find love, and forge stronger connections among the Kingdoms, yes, yes, I know,” Gerald interrupted. “I still say it’s a charade. It’s perfectly possible to accomplish all of those goals without forcing every royal into a ridiculous marriage quest the moment they turn eighteen.”

“You seem to be forgetting something very important here, Gerald,” the Queen said calmly.

“What’s that?”

“This isn’t optional.”

“You can’t force me to choose,” Gerald said. “Why can’t you leave me be and let Lila broaden her horizons, explore the Kingdoms, forge alliances, and all that rot? She wants to.”

“You have ten days,” the Queen continued, as if Gerald hadn’t spoken. She turned away without even bothering to dismiss him.

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Meet the Author

Alex Logan is an asexual, agender librarian from New York state. Always an avid reader, Alex has branched out from reading books to writing them. Alex’s other main interest is soccer, which they enjoy watching, playing, and (of course) reading about.

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Release Blitz: Unbroken by Brooklyn Ray

Title: Unbroken

Series: Port Lewis Witches

Author: Brooklyn Ray

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 8, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 58500

Genre: Paranormal, LGBT, Contemporary, paranormal, demons, witches, blood bound, roommate, drugs

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Synopsis

Despite the rumors about Port Lewis, Michael Gates doesn’t expect the house he rents with his sister on Foxglove Lane to be haunted. An eerie meeting with Victor Lewellyn, the resident witch-turned-demon who is bound to the property by dark magic, changes his mind.

Michael isn’t looking to start a relationship with anyone, let alone someone like Victor, but the intense attraction between them can’t be ignored. As he dives into the world of magical drug rings, demons, witches, and necromancers, Michael also grapples with the complicated past he left behind in Arizona.

A relationship might not be what he wants, but it sparks something in him he didn’t realize he needs—the chance to heal.

Excerpt

Unbroken
Brooklyn Ray © 2019
All Rights Reserved

Part One: Haunted Places
Michael Gates curled his hand over the old fence surrounding his new home. Splinters nipped at his palm. Bitter wind snapped restlessly at his cheeks. He wasn’t used to cold like this, the kind that stuck to his skin and seeped through his clothes. This was coastal cold. Northern Cold. Port Lewis cold.

“I bet you’re missin’ Arizona right about now, huh?” Janice tossed a grin over her shoulder as she wobbled inside, carrying one end of a mustard yellow couch. She was a broad girl, tall like their father, with candy-apple red hair that came from a box. “Mom probably hasn’t converted your room into a yoga studio yet. There’s still time!”

Michael snorted. Denying the truth would only lead to more teasing, and he wasn’t in the mood to bicker with his sister. Not after a long-ass drive. Not when he still wasn’t sure about any of this—college, this town, this house.

It was almost charming, he thought. Windows jutted from sharp-edged sills and the attic skewered the sky like a steeple, stretched tall over the porch above a round window on the second floor. The paint had been yellow once, but the sun turned the walls white and the shingles gray. Vines crawled over the empty garden boxes attached to the porch, a burst of green in a colorless place. It was Victorian and strange, and as Michael looked from the creaky steps to the unkempt lawn, he remembered the word their landlord had used during an awkward Skype interview two weeks ago.

History, she’d said, like it was a curse.

“Hey, asshole.” Janice stood in the doorway with her hands perched on her hips, cheeks flushed and chest heaving. “Movers are heading out. You gonna help me drag these mattresses upstairs before Corey gets here or not?”

There wasn’t anything wrong with the house. The windows weren’t broken, the kitchen was stocked with upgraded appliances, and the fire alarms had recently been replaced. But wrongness still lingered, somehow.

His fingers slipped off the fence and dove into his coat pocket, thumbing the corner of a cigarette pack. “I didn’t even get a chance to smoke.”

“Too bad. Those’ll kill you anyway, c’mon.”

Michael rolled his eyes but reluctantly walked inside. The word kept repeating, whispered like a secret—history history history—and he couldn’t stop wondering about what a place had to go through to earn it. The floorboards flexed and whined under his boots. Above him, cobwebs dripped from a metal chandelier, and light beamed through the window onto a steep, carpeted staircase. He might’ve imagined it, must have imagined it, but he swore the air shifted, as if the house had sensed his aching lungs and insisted he take a breath.

“This place is weird,” Michael blurted because he had no other way to explain it. “Creepy weird, like I bet someone was murdered here weird.”

“You’re being dramatic,” Janice said. She tilted a mattress off the wall and pushed it toward the staircase. Her jaw clenched as they ambled up the stairs, freckled cheeks hollowed and shoulders rounded. They shared many things, like most siblings did. Dark eyes and wide mouths, long fingers and small chins. But where Janice’s fine lines and prominent bones made her look strong, Michael’s only made him look delicate. He was littered with scars because of it, badges to prove he wasn’t breakable.

After three trips up and down the stairs, they flopped the final mattress on the ground in the second-to-last bedroom, and Janice heaved a relieved sigh.

“Michael, c’mon.” She nudged him with her elbow, pulling his attention from the boxes scattered on the floor. “This place is just old, you know? Look, you’ve got a balcony”—she pointed to the French doors, then set her hands on his shoulders and steered him toward the hall—“and your own bathroom, and I mean, this is a fresh start for us. Port Lewis is small, but we start classes next week, and there’s a movie theater downtown and some really good breweries…”

Michael’s lips quirked into a half-smile. “The Pacific Northwest is known for its beer.”

“Exactly!” Janice gave his shoulders a reassuring squeeze. “Speaking of libations, how about you start unpacking and I’ll run out for Thai and a case of IPA, sound good?”

“Fine, sure, whatever,” he said, biting back a laugh. “Green curry for me. You should probably text Corey and ask if he wants anything.”

Janice swatted the bedroom door on her way out. Her keys jingled, sneakers thudded the stairs, and before Michael could shout—don’t forget the chili paste—the door slammed and she was gone.

Silence snaked through the house, disrupted by wind pressing on the windows, and the unmistakable inkling that he was being watched. Michael pushed his fingers through his hair, short auburn locks smoothed by product he’d found in his sister’s makeup bag, and heaved a sigh.

Janice was right, he told himself. The house was old. It creaked and howled and carried secrets from past owners. But it was just a house, and Michael had seen too many horror movies to let a little unease get the best of him. He rummaged through two boxes until he found a portable speaker.

“There we go,” he said, pulse quickening when his own voice echoed through the empty house. He set his phone on the dock and turned on a Pop Punk playlist. Music boomed through his new room, loud and fast, a sore reminder of the home down south and all the memories left behind there. His mother had allowed him to take a gap year after high school, where he spent twelve months abroad, bouncing from Ireland to London, Amsterdam to Italy, but when another year went by and Michael skipped registration at the junior college he’d promised to attend, his family’s patience thinned.

There’s no time left to squander, his mother had said. Go with your sister, take botany for all I care, but do something.

So, he’d followed Janice to Port Lewis, a town built on rumors, whispers about magic and witches, and ended up here, sliding the mattress into a black bed frame, listening to songs he’d fallen in love with during senior year, and watching a shadow cross the floor in the reflection on his balcony window.

Michael froze, mouth set and shoulders pulled tight. He held the edge of the mattress, gaze pinned to the reflection in the window, afraid the image would disappear if he moved, and more afraid to turn around. Because there, looking back at him, was a pair of eyes and a curious smile attached to a distorted shape standing in the doorway. His throat cinched and his mouth dried, and all the bravery, all the fight, all the resolve, fell out from under him. He blinked once, twice, a third time, and then it was gone.

Impossible. He turned on his heels, expecting an ah-hah! An I got you! A moment when he’d catch something—someone—hiding in the hallway. But the doorway was empty, and when he peeked into the hall, it was empty too.

“Janice?” He pushed open each bedroom door and looked inside. Nothing. He did the same with the two bathrooms, the linen closet, the cabinets. Nothing. “Corey?”

A sound he faintly recognized came from behind him, far enough away to seem distant, close enough to make his breath quake. Metal on metal. The drag and click of a lock being unfastened.

It was right then he noticed the stagnant air, the heavy quiet. His music was no longer playing.

Michael felt it like he thought all people usually did—a wrongness that settled deep inside him—coupled with the urge to leave, the need to run. But he didn’t. He turned slowly this time, reining in his runaway heart, and trailed his gaze up the narrow steps at the end of the hall to the attic door, unlocked, and ajar.

One moment the shadow was there, and a second later it simply wasn’t.

“Who are you?” Michael called. He clung to the only bravery he had left. Defiance. The reckless confidence responsible for many of his scars.

The attic door swung open on rusty hinges.

Adrenaline cautioned, but curiosity encouraged, and Michael found each step easier to take as he climbed the stairs. The banister was smooth under his palm, the air alight with danger and magic and something unknown.

Something dark, he thought. Something tarnished.

Don’t, his heart said. Run. Go. Now. Now. Now.

Michael swallowed hard and stepped into the room. Sunlight illuminated moth-eaten curtains in front of the window. A bed was pushed against the wall, sheets tucked, white comforter smoothed. There was a lamp on a black nightstand, unlit candles on a six-drawered dresser, and a bookshelf against the far wall. He crossed the room, trailing his fingers along the edge of the bed, the windowsill, then the shelves, tracing letters on thick leather spines. Magic & Purpose. Ceremonial Preparation. Incantations. He plucked a paperback from the middle shelf—Demonology—and opened it. The pages were sallow, stained in some places and ripped in others. Sprawling notes in black ink filled the margins. He turned the book over in his hands and found a name written on the inside of the back cover.

“Victor Lewellyn,” Michael whispered.

The floorboards whined. Breath hit the back of his neck. A low, smooth voice said, “Michael Gates.”

Dread filled the pit of his stomach. He snapped the book shut by the spine, attempted to summon any semblance of the bravery he’d found before, and came away with none. His breath fluttered from him in trembling gusts, and when a warm palm cradled his elbow, a sob caught in his throat.

“Don’t be scared,” the stranger purred. His hand slid along the underside of Michael’s forearm and curled over his wrist. “You say my name like a prayer.”

Michael shut his mouth with an audible click and watched Victor Llewellyn’s fingers, tipped with black claws, slide over his knuckles and grasp the book. Reality tilted, shifting from a nightmare into something worse. History suddenly seemed like a hollow explanation for what this house had seen.

Victor’s lips grazed his pulse, breath steady, touch confident. His voice was strained between his teeth, deep and inhuman and obscurely intimate, pressed to Michael’s throat like the clasp on a collar. “Fuck, you smell like honey.”

“What…” Michael’s lips parted. He rehearsed what he was about to say, repeating it again and again, but the question never materialized. What are you? He wanted to ask, he wanted to know, but his voice malfunctioned with Victor’s teeth so close to his skin.

Ghosts were real, he believed in that much. Spirits and poltergeists and an in-between that gave the lost a home. But Victor Lewellyn was not a ghost.

Michael’s heart drummed, blood coursing fast through his veins. His knees wobbled, his eyes wide and hungry, desperate for a glance. For a memory. For proof. He inhaled deeply and turned until they were chest to chest.

Victor’s mouth formed an easy grin, face sculpted by shadows where the light didn’t touch and smoothed like polished copper where it did. He looked like a painting, rich and haunted, a canvas that turned beauty into a monstrous thing.

Humans did not have cheekbones as carved as his. They did not have eyes like lit candles, or black horns curling from their temples. They did not have claws that came to rest on the hinge of Michael’s jaw, or breath tinged with ash and blood. Humans were familiar. They were simple and safe. Victor was not.

“What are you?” Michael asked, breathless.

Victor tilted his head. A strand of dark hair fell over his brow. His smile softened as he slid the book back where it belonged, tipping Michael’s chin toward him with one hand, and effortlessly caging him against the shelf with the other. They stayed like that, watching each other, until the sound of the front door opening broke the silence, and Janice’s voice rang through the house.

“Look who I found in the driveway,” she hollered. Keys jingled, plastic bags rustled.

Michael glanced at the door, and when he looked back, Victor was gone.

Purchase

NineStar Press | Amazon | Smashwords | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Meet the Author

Brooklyn Ray is a tea connoisseur and an occult junkie. She writes queer speculative fiction layered with magic, rituals and found families.

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Release Blitz: Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears by Gregory L Norris

Title: Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears

Author: Gregory L. Norris

Publisher: NineStar Press

Release Date: April 1, 2019

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 10100

Genre: Science Fiction/Steampunk, LGBT, steampunk, romance, gay

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Synopsis

At the request of the Earl of Kensington, Donovan Tisdale attends a mind-expanding presentation by Richard Sandominus Flynn, the Minster of Steam-based Sciences. Flynn reveals the next step in steam-based power—flights to the moon and far beyond conducted by mechanical men.

The attraction between Donovan and Flynn ignites from the moment they meet and follows them through the dangerous political climate of Her Majesty’s jeweled city as dark powers seek to dismantle the clean-based power poised to send humanity to the stars.

Excerpt

Hope, Tears, Steam, Gears
Gregory L. Norris © 2019
All Rights Reserved

I fell in love with him on that lost afternoon, a day that now seems part of another life and time. At the Earl of Kensington’s request, I headed to the planetarium to hear Richard Sandominus Flynn deliver a lecture to a full house of eager learners and free thinkers. Most of those assembled were students from university, steam workers, and members of Parliament. As the earl’s ward—a punishment for past petty crimes more than a chance at redemption, I was convinced—I sensed I didn’t belong and planned an early escape. Perhaps to the botanical gardens. I always loved it there.

But soon the lights dimmed, and I settled against the faded red velvet seat, and my life forever changed. Overhead, stunning images washed over the smooth curves of the mother-of-pearl ceiling. The moon was first, its familiar cratered face easy to recognize. Only I had never seen the Earth’s nearest neighbor presented in such detail. Other celestial bodies followed. One, rust-red with what I assumed were polar ice caps, could only be the planet named for the god of war. A comet, in stunning clarity. The planet Jupiter. A constellation of stars.

“What you are seeing,” said a man’s commanding voice that drew my eyes reluctantly down from the heavens and to the lectern on the small stage, “are photographic images of the universe that surrounds us.”

Equally as breathtaking as the voluptuously full moon above him was the man. Tall, with dark hair and a trim beard, his face was the handsomest I’d ever beheld. His gentleman’s shirt, coat, and trousers, even his boots, fit him in a manner that suggested his clothes loved his body. I understood their ardor. Choking down a heavy swallow, I realized my mouth had gone completely dry.

“Permit me to introduce myself,” the man continued, and how his voice matched the rest of his presentation in its majesty. “I am Richard Sandominus Flynn, Minister of Steam-based Research and Technology. The visual stills you are seeing are courtesy of Her Majesty’s Galactyscaphe, Britannia 2, a steam-powered platform presently in orbit around our fair world some one hundred and fifty miles above our heads.”

Gasps sounded around the planetarium. I listened, stunned like my fellow audience members. What the handsome man said challenged the mind.

Still, despite notions of spacecraft launched beyond the world of our origin, I couldn’t break focus with the man who’d sent Britannia 2 on her journey. He now stood beneath a representation of two suns and a fiery red sphere, which seemed to dance about the pair. His voice seduced me. An attraction so strong for him consumed my flesh. Deeper, in what I rarely thought of anymore as soul.

“Our understanding of the world around us—and the worlds beyond—grows daily. It is my belief that within a reasonable expectation of five years’ time we can land similar craft on our nearest neighbors—the moon at first, of course. But then Mars in one direction, Venus in the other. Initially, with exploration teams of mechanical men—robot workers who will pave the way for manned expeditions.”

More gasps followed. Flynn offered the barest of smiles, a measure of pride and one rightly earned. A strange emotion fluttered in my stomach. It could have been at the memory of the time I rode with the Earl of Kensington in Her Majesty’s jeweled airship, Trafalgar, from Heathrow Field to his family’s ancestral estate—the thought of traveling many times higher robbed me of breath and sent a shiver tumbling down my spine. Or it might have been Flynn himself, who seemed to have found me in the audience. His eyes, a vibrant green even given the distance that separated us, greeted mine. Suddenly, I felt as desirable as any of the planets or stars captured by Britannia 2’s cameras.

Flynn’s hairy throat knotted as he swallowed, and my pulse quickened. For the next second or so, our eyes remained locked. In that bottled gaze, I dreamed the minister desired of me a fraction of what I craved of him. Then Flynn blinked and resumed discussing the future of programs like the Britannia project, threatened by politics and enemies of the Steam Workers’ Union. The lightness inside me evaporated, replaced by a miserable weight. He was Richard Sandominus Flynn, who’d sent spacecraft into orbit and would one day launch mechanical men followed by human beings to the stars. I was Donovan Tisdale, a reformed petty criminal from the streets of London who’d once stolen in order to eat.

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Meet the Author

Raised on a healthy diet of creature double features and classic SF television, Gregory L. Norris is a full-time professional writer, with work appearing in numerous short story anthologies, national magazines, novels, the occasional TV episode, and, so far, one produced feature film (Brutal Colors, which debuted on Amazon Prime January 2016). A former feature writer and columnist at Sci Fi, the official magazine of the Sci Fi Channel (before all those ridiculous Ys invaded), he once worked as a screenwriter on two episodes of Paramount’s modern classic, Star Trek: Voyager. Two of his paranormal novels (written under my rom-de-plume, Jo Atkinson) were published by Home Shopping Network as part of their “Escape With Romance” line — the first time HSN has offered novels to their global customer base. He judged the 2012 Lambda Awards in the SF/F/H category. Three times now, his stories have notched Honorable Mentions in Ellen Datlow’s Best-of books. In May 2016, he traveled to Hollywood to accept HM in the Roswell Awards in Short SF Writing.His story “Drowning” appears in the Italian anthology THE BEAUTY OF DEATH 2, alongside tales by none other than Peter Straub and Clive Barker. Follow his literary adventures at http://www.gregorylnorris.blogspot.com.

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