Sebastian stepped out of the sticky bus. It was hot for that time of the year, and Germany was melting under a heat wave. Munich was no exception. The temperature was somewhere around 35°C and the air conditioning in the bus was either non-existent or not working. The fact that everyone and their mother seemed to have agreed to take this bus didn’t help to make it more bearable.
Sebastian took a deep breath, but it did nothing to cool him down. All he got was a lung full of heat, his sweat, and fumes. Fuck this shit. He could be at a bar right now, sipping a cold beer. But he wasn’t, thanks to that fucking judge.
He had to be here, the last place he wanted to be. Okay, a few meters more, then he reached the place. The sign was unmistakable: Rehabilitation Center. Fucking shit. That judge had had way too much fun sentencing him. Wasn’t there a law against such things? The urge to kick something, anything in his way, rose, but Sebastian grit his teeth. He was no sixteen-year-old anymore. Instead of kicking something, Sebastian peered into the windows. An empty desk sat near the entrance door. Nobody was there.
Sebastian took another deep breath, which did nothing to quell his anger, and slowly pushed open the door. He wouldn’t get his Community Service hours done by standing in front of the building. And if the judge had his way, Sebastian was going to be here quite a few hours. Two-hundred, to be precise. Fucking two-hundred hours of work in a rehab center. He should kill that judge.
Isaac Morris has devoted his life to preaching against the sin of homosexuality. But when his sister proposes a documentary to demonstrate once and for all that it’s a choice—with Isaac choosing to be gay as proof—he balks. Until he learns his nephew is headed down that perverted path. Isaac will do anything to convince the teenager he can choose to be straight . . . including his sister’s film.
When Isaac’s first foray into the gay lifestyle ends with a homophobic beating, he’s saved and cared for by Colton Roberts, a gentle, compassionate bartender with a cross around his neck. Colton challenges every one of Isaac’s deeply held beliefs about gay men. He was kicked out by homophobic parents, saved from the streets by a kind pastor, and is now a devout Christian. Colton’s sexuality has cost him dearly, but it also brought him to God.
As the two grow closer, everything Isaac knows about homosexuality, his faith, and himself is called into question. And if he’s been wrong all along, what does that mean for his ministry, his soul, his struggling nephew—and the man he never meant to love?
This was one of those books that made me have to look past the surface. To really grasp this book, you’d probably need to understand just what it is like to live under fundamentalist doctrine from early childhood. If you haven’t experienced this yourself, unless you’ve done some research on the subject, you might find the main characters on the unbelievable side and asking yourself things such as “How could he NOT know?”, “How could he believe in God after all that?” and even, “Surely no one who really loves their kid would do THAT”.
The answer lies in the very nature of belonging to such a fundamentalist faith: God’s word is absolute and literal. The pastor is inspired by God to share His Word and the Church to provide Fellowship, it’s members to help each other live as Christlike as possible according to the pastor’s, and their sect’s, literal interpretation of the version of the Bible they use. So the world really WAS made in 7 days, Adam was actually crafted from dirt, and so on. There is a literal Hell with a very real Fallen angel who whispers sin in your ear and into your heart. The English language version of the Bible used uses wording that all too easily makes being LGBT a sin, and since they take THAT version literally, because God Himself moved the translators t choose THOSE words, then it follows that there can be no mistake: being gay is a sin. Imagine believing all that wholeheartedly, and then believing also the passage about bearing witness so that others may be saved. Imagine sex being a sacred thing only between man and wife and anything else relating to it, including education, to be a sin. THIS is the world that Isaac grew up in. A world so tightly regulated by “Biblical principles” (I place this in quotes as they are of course merely his sect’s interpretations of the Bible) that your every human desire other than glorification of God as dictated, your every literal desire, was understood to be the devil tempting you.
Want a big screen TV with all the latest features because you saw one at Bob’s house? Oh, no, that’s envy! You only want it because he has it! Donate instead to the youth group. You find yourself thinking Jake is attractive? That’s lust. Tamp it down, everyone feels that, the devil does it to tempt you. So it was for Isaac, who believed his father’s rhetoric from the pulpit that the devil sent lust at mankind and humans chose to accept that lust and commit homosexual acts. And of course, they had to be degenerate acts. Isaac was so clueless that he didn’t realise that suppressed attraction he felt towards guys and that he couldn’t kindle with his ex wife, were biological and that he was feeling things hetero men did not.
LA Witt, writing as Ann Gallagher, fearlessly treads right into the heart of the intolerance for sin that lies at the heart of story. She does so sympathetically. I was ready to to think that Isaac was a right tosser for agreeing with his shallow sister and deciding to make the documentary. But when you read his confusion, his genuine distress as he opens himself up and goes where he feels God is truly leading him, only to discover he has arrived in a completely different place than he’d thought to find, it was impossible to hate him. He’s a victim who became a victimiser, and then discovers the truth and hates a part of himself for it. His brother’s conflict over his own son is at first one that made me want to punch the man int he face, until you see his own agony over what he believes is truly a fight for his son’s immortal soul, and the well being of his other children.
Colton’s experience at coming out and being rejected but finding faith thanks to a kindly pastor and his wife provides a counterpoint to all of that. It is also what unwittingly sends Isaac further into a spiral of confusing and despair, then later to find peace with the dichotomy. Isaac’s meeting with Colton is the stone in the pond, with ripples that keep widening until finally reaching towards shore. in the end, Isaac and Colton not only get their HEA, but so do others, and not all of them are romantic. This is not an easy read, but it is one that looks at current issues and dissects them neatly. My only quibbles are that Isaac is bit one dimensional, as is his family. He seems to only exist as a crisis on legs and his own apparent innate lack of curiosity had me baffled. I know the whole story revolves around his crisis but it’d be nice if we got to see bit more of him and his family in unrelated scenes, to help round them all out a bit better. The ending felt a bit rushed as well. The story carefully lays the foundation then time skips and tells us what happened, then time skips again to an epilogue whose very ending also seemed abrupt. Still, a good solid, if often uncomfortable, read that nonetheless finished in a shower of rainbow sparkles.
Today, he has encountered no southerners and only a few tourists from elsewhere, and he’d be okay with that if it weren’t for the rain. It comes fast. One minute it’s sunny and lovely and easy pickings, and the next the sky’s gone black and people are running from the park with street-vendor umbrellas popping open over their heads or shopping bags held up as makeshift shields. Trip switches to catchy pop numbers and more recent music, but it’s no use.
Some days this works. People take pity on a not-quite-twenty-something singing in the rain. Older women especially seem to take in the auburn hair stuck to his forehead and his relatively petite stature and read hungry young desperation in him. They offer him sympathetic smiles and a few soggy dollars.
Other times, playing in the rain has the opposite of his intended effect—strange boy with strange eyes playing his guitar as if he doesn’t know the rain is there. Those people see the darkness in him: a boy with a chip on his shoulder that makes them nervous. Those people give him wary looks and a wide berth. Trip’s not sure he blames them.
He’s a little put out and a lot cold, so he sells his umbrella for a few dollars before shouldering his guitar and closing the lid on his coffee can to set to work at his other favorite occupation.
He’d been a decent pickpocket in his younger years, but now, after a lot of practice, he’s a better thief and a good runner when he needs to be. Not that he steals anything of particular worth. He finds value in treasures scrounged from the bottoms of pockets.
Loose change, hair binders, halves of Vicodin, broken cigarettes, crumpled matchbooks. All of it has a purpose, a certain sense of importance. He envies women and their big purses. They’ve got whole bags of riches waiting to be exhumed. Though, more likely than not, those little trinkets will remain forgotten and neglected in the bottoms of Marc Jacobs clutches and Target sale hobo bags.
Other people don’t see it—the value in these things. Maybe that’s why he steals from them. Nothing they’d miss: a worn dollar here, a business card there. He keeps it all close and works out a life he could have if he could ever let someone keep him long enough for him to build up a treasure trove of small wonders all his own.
For now, he will live with worn shopping lists, broken crayons and ticket stubs he lifts off of others. He keeps them in a beaten-up bag that is more duct tape than canvas and lets them build up stardust. Then, in those lonely hours of the night, he scatters them across the floor and works them into constellations to which he assigns stories. Some he writes down; others, he forgets before the next day. It’s not a financially savvy task, but it’s his favorite, and it passes the time as well as anything else.
About the author:
Courtney Lux is a Minnesotan-turned-New Yorker whose love for the city is rivaled only by her love for wide, open spaces. She is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison and a soon-to-be graduate of New York University. When not playing writer, Courtney is an avid reader, constant dreamer, and lover of dogs, wine and being barefoot. Small Wonders is her first novel, and is the recipient of a Publishers Weekly starred review.
“One of these days, Wren Tucker…” Aaron turned to his side, pillowing his head with his bent arm. His eyes slid closed, and he murmured, “I’m going to get to you.”
You already do. Wren crouched beside the bed. The first time Wren had seen him, Aaron had been dancing. The light from the club had touched on every toned dip and groove of Aaron’s body as it swiveled on the raised stage, his tight ass shaking with the beat of the music. All of that had been amazing, but it had been Aaron’s face that had captivated him—the free expression, like he was in another world. His full lips mouthing the lyrics, his head thrown back, and the locks of his black hair waving around his flushed face.
In that moment of abandon, Aaron had met Wren’s gaze, a smile tugging at the corner of his sensual mouth. Aaron had continued the dance, but he hadn’t stopped focusing on Wren.
Meet Draven St. James:
Draven St. James is a born and raised Oregonian. She has traveled extensively in search of mischief and mayhem to fill her books. Her ventures have been quite successful in inspiring a wealth of stories. Of course at the end of the day, coffee within reach, laptop at the ready is where she finds her peace.
Goodreads Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7155623.Draven_St_James
Publisher: Loose ID
Cover Artist: Dar Albert
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To honor his father, young footballer Todd Mackerson commits to his goal of playing for a professional team. When, at the age of 20, he is offered a place to train with one of England’s biggest clubs, he leaves home convinced his dream is within reach. Being warned by his new team mates of the tough rules and hard training routines, Todd is undeterred. But when he discovers that the player’s way of bonding borders on the sexual, and that he must learn to accept the erotic affections that connect the team together, he wonders how far he can go for his dream. But, after experiencing the care and attention men can give to each other, Todd feels awakened. Learning that each player has a special “partner” on the team, who they play and bond with as intimately as lovers, Todd becomes fascinated with the idea. And when he develops feelings for one player in particular, he discovers how a stronger kind of romance – that between two men – can be pure and powerful enough to bring magic and success on the pitch.
…The locker room was quiet. It was nearly four PM and the rest of the first team had left after lunch. It felt good to be alone with Kieran, and Todd grew more confident about the guy becoming his partner.
But he was uncertain about what to do. Although he’d suggested the sauna, he wondered if Kieran took that to mean they were going to have some hand contact with each other. Perhaps he’d been through a similar experience with Jason or one of the other players when he first came to the club, and was now taking it for granted they were going to get intimate.
While they stripped out of their gear, they talked about Todd’s parents. He mentioned his father had passed away.
“I’m sorry to hear that.” Kieran stopped half way through taking off his running pants.
“It happened years ago.” Todd smiled, hoping to ease Kieran.
Although it was a moment of sorrow for him, and he detected a pensive slant in Kieran’s voice, he felt positive about the knowledge he’d shared.
Once out of their underwear Todd placed a hand on Kieran’s neck and gave a delicate rub. “Let’s shower before the sauna.”
“You always need a shower after the session.” Kieran laughed. “Get all that sweat off you before you sweat some more.” He rubbed Todd’s back as they walked into the shower room.
Would he need to soap Kieran like he saw Josh doing for Leo? He didn’t know. Todd headed to the wall and decided to just wash himself. He needed to get this right, and making a move too soon could blow it.
Kieran showered next to him and they talked some more about what music they liked. Kieran liked the Irish bands like Coldplay and U2. Todd agreed, and added Ash to the list.
“What about American rock?” Kieran asked.
Todd soaped up his legs and tried to remember if he’d heard any recently. Music wasn’t his main interest but he tried to keep up to date. “I like that song which has a bloke screaming about money or something.” He frowned. “The video has him ransacking his bedroom, looking under floorboards and shit.”
Kieran stopped washing and glanced at him with a lost expression.
“You mean ‘No Cash No Hash’?” he asked. “Yeah, the video has him running around his bedroom searching through draws and coat pockets.”
Todd laughed. That was it. The bloke loses it at the end of the video and leaps from his tenth floor flat. “NO CASH NO HASH!” he screamed.
“GONNA SPLASH MY MASH!” Kieran continued. “I AIN’T SEEN NO GREEN! NO HASH NO CASH!” Kieran beamed while Todd laughed.
Seeing Kieran’s eyes in an almost adoring look, Todd felt suddenly out of place. Kieran was four years older and yet he seemed like a younger guy. He was the same height as Todd, but his body was slimmer, more athletic than Todd’s tougher frame. He wondered if this meant he had to take the lead in this budding pair process.
“I think we should spend more time training.” Kieran smiled. “We’ll both get each other hot for the game in two weeks and show the boss we’ve got something going.”
The positive tone in his voice lifted Todd’s stomach.
“Yeah, we should.” He nodded as his head filled with the two of them on the pitch for that charity game, passing the ball to each other as they ran to the opposite end, dodging every challenge. It could be just like that time when he’d gone to the tournament with his father and met that kid with whom he’d played so well.
“Tomorrow, yeah?” Kieran said. “We can work on our defense. If you can show the boss you’ve got good tackling skills, he’ll probably play you for longer.”
Todd liked that. It sounded like Kieran had been thinking about where his skills needed work.
As Kieran stuck his head under the jet, Todd took a deep breath. Looking down, he noticed his cock had swollen a touch. Although still limp, it had reached the pre stimulation stage, where it felt heavier and appeared bigger than usual. Casting his eyes to Kieran’s, he could see a slight increase in his groin too.
Heading to the sauna they grabbed a towel each. The sauna was a long room with the door at one end. Todd went in first and headed to the far corner. Even though the locker room was empty, and he had no worries about being disturbed, he felt it best to go to the furthest point away from the glass door.
He spread the towel on the bench and sat down. Kieran sat at an angle to him.
“Everyone’s glad you’re on the team,” he said. “We’ve been in need of a new pair of feet for years.”
Todd wondered if that piece of small talk was a sign of Kieran’s uncertainty. “Thanks.”
“I’m glad we talked at Sean’s party,” Kieran went on. “I didn’t get a chance to talk to you last week or the week before.” Looking over Todd’s body his face grew serious. “You should try to lose some weight.” His eyes widened. “Not that you’ve got any fat on you, I just mean that you should try to lose some of the muscle.”
“This is my natural shape. I’ve trained for years on the pitch, done loads of sprinting, and I’ve always been this weight.”
“Try to eat less protein and more carbs…I mean, I think you look good as you are but most players have an athletic build.” He shook his head and looked downcast. “Sorry man, I’m not having a go.”
Todd cast his eyes over Kieran’s body. “You’ve got a good build,” he said. “Do you lift weights?”
“I keep that to a minimum. I think the less weight you carry around the field, the more stamina you have and the better you are at using your body.”
Todd found himself wanting to rub him and wondered whether he should ask. Glancing at his cock he saw it was flaccid but still in that ready state. He decided to shift his butt towards him so their legs touched.
“I got a massage last week from Jason.” He felt a coy grin break on his face. “It was sort of, interesting.”
Kieran’s eyes narrowed for a second, making him look mischievous. “I once had one from him. I think he likes giving them.”
“Did you like it?”
Kieran laughed. “It was ok.” He looked at Todd with amused eyes. “We should just get it over with, yeah?”
Todd exhaled. Beads of sweat snaked their way down his forehead as he pushed his butt back on the bench and spread his thighs out.
Kieran placed his pert butt between Todd’s legs.
Feeling free to do what he wanted, Todd started on his lower back and gently rubbed with his thumbs. Kieran had smoother skin than Jason and Todd’s hands slipped easily over it. He rubbed slowly up his back towards his neck. Kieran’s head flopped down in front of him, and his breathing turned slow and even.
“You’ve got good skin,” Todd said as he rubbed below Kieran’s hairline.
“I eat lots of tomatoes and drink lots of water.”
“Do the rest of the guys on the team drink a lot of beer often?”
“No.” Kieran shook his head. “Saturday night was rare. Sean often has the lads round at his house, but we don’t go mad. Those Tequila shots were too much. I think they just went overboard to celebrate your arrival. You know, it’s really affected everyone.”
Having spent most of his time trying to deal with being the new boy, Todd had given little thought to how his arrival affected everyone else. They’d had a stable team for several years, and now suddenly he was amongst them. The notion that he’d had an effect made him feel confident.
The question of who Kieran woke up next to after that party crept into Todd’s mind again. But he kept quiet and rubbed delicately under his arms, and as he did, he felt Kieran’s hands on his thighs.
“You have got some muscle on those legs,” Kieran said.
Todd tensed them for him.
“Jesus,” Kieran hissed. “That is solid.”
Todd chuckled and worked his hands slowly around his chest just like Jason had with him. The guy seemed to like it and slid back a little further until his ass touched Todd’s slowly growing hard on.
When his butt found Todd’s cock, he gave it a soft squeeze with his cheeks. Todd saw that as the signal to go for it and dipped his hands down Kieran’s hot sweaty torso. They slid smoothly, as though coated in oil, and it wasn’t long until they brushed the hard tip of Kieran’s cock.
“Yeah, do it for me,” Kieran whispered.
Todd curled his fingers around the shaft. Kieran’s cock was a little smaller than his own, but it felt good in his grip. Like Jason had done for him, he worked it slowly, gripping delicately with each downward pull. Kieran’s back inflated and subsided against him, deeper and deeper with each jerk. With his free hand, Todd dipped lower and stroked Kieran’s soft balls. His lips brushed close to Kieran’s neck and the desire to gently kiss his skin, stick out his tongue and lick the sweat running down it, grew steadily with each heaving motion of the body in front of him.
Kieran reached a hand down to Todd’s cock and after lifting his butt up an inch, directed its length beneath him and sat back down.
Kieran’s tight ass cheeks rubbed along Todd’s cock. Todd was reminded of Sean Thompson, the night on his bed with Jason Collier. They didn’t fuck. Sean had done to Todd what Todd was now doing to Kieran, and that was just sliding his cock between his crack, pushing it forward until the tip hit the ball sack.
Relief lifted him. He pressed in harder.
Kieran let out a dull breathy sound and a warm trickle slipped over Todd’s fingers, making him look down over the defenders shoulder to watch.
Kieran thrust into his grip and fired. Author Biography
A bachelor of science (Computing), Rob worked as a software developer for over 15 years before turning his full time attention to learning the craft of writing. His love of science drew him into science fiction, but his love of man drew him to the MM genre. With his strategy of thinking differently, he aims to bring something to the market that pushes the boundaries.
Rob was born and raised in Manchester, England. Spent seven years living in London, but now lives back in his home city. Interests include: reading, film, weight training, and learning all he can about people – what makes them tick, what motivates them.
Into the Team is his first published novel.
Links https://www.facebook.com/rob.damon01 https://twitter.com/RobDemanc email@example.com
JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.
The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.
At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.
He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.
The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.
Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.
A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.
The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.
“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.
Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.
About the author:
E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.
Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.
It was shortly after lunch on Friday that Mrs. Jones came in. Although she had shown such tenderness to Audrey, I was still in fear and awe of this woman. To me she was curt and demanding. I still dreaded Fridays on account of her. Today she barged through the door: middle aged, shaped like a tank, with a formidable purse that I suspected she could brandish as a weapon if she so chose. I shamefully admit that I hid, shaking, in the back room. I remained hidden behind the door as I watched through the space under the hinge.
She marched straight over to Tommie, who was innocently concentrating in his chair, bent over his laptop. He didn’t stand a chance.
Tommie looked up and scanned the shop. Not finding me, he sacrificed himself for the greater cause.
He said something I couldn’t hear then he looked around the shop again, I supposed in a vain hope that I might come rescue him. I saw him take a deep breath, preparing himself for the inevitable. Poor man didn’t have a clue what he was up against. I knew I should come out of hiding, but so help me, I didn’t have the strength. I had been dealing with her on my own every Friday for over a year, and my morbid curiosity wanted to see what she could do to someone else.
“What can I help you with, Ms. ––?
“Mrs. Jones.” She said it decisively and firmly. No question about it, she was Mrs. Jones. Like no other, she stood like a rock.
He nodded and snapped his laptop shut. “What can I help you with, Mrs. Jones?” When he stood, her eyes scanned down his body like a CT scan, slowly taking in and savoring every inch carefully.
He carried his laptop and set it on the shelf under the front counter. Mrs. Jones took in the view from behind, her head tilted thoughtfully.
I remained silent. This was getting interesting. I was seeing a side of Mrs. Jones I hadn’t known existed. I was anxious to see if Tommie could handle her.
“Well,” she said a bit breathlessly. “Tommie, your jeans are a bit tight.” He turned slowly, but her eyes settled on his midsection, centering on the zipper of his jeans.
“My eyes are up here, Mrs. Jones.”
“Totally inappropriate!” But her eyes still wandered appreciatively over Tommie’s landscape.
“Very well, Mrs. Jones,” I saw him smile pleasantly then ask, “But may I help you find something?”
I didn’t hear what she said, but to my dismay, he led her to the closet where my adult books were stashed. I almost came out to prevent the disaster that I anticipated, but instead of indignation, within moments they returned to the front desk, and I watched as he rang up her purchases. She had chosen several books.
“I hope you enjoy these, Mrs. Jones.”
“You’ve been most helpful, Tommie, not like that naughty Fox that you work for.”
She waved goodbye happily and blew him a kiss as she went out the door, her purchases held tightly to her ample chest.
“Coward!” I assumed he was talking to me, although he didn’t look up.
Meet Fai Dawson:
Fai Dawson lives in a small town thirty miles northeast of Seattle Washington in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with her beloved wife, Becky. Together, they work on restoring their 110-year-old Victorian home. She spends her days writing, blogging and walking Moxie, their Newfie-Chow through the rainy streets of town. Pepe, a brave and proud tuxedo cat is her muse, ever mindful of providing inspiration for her next project. Although she has filled countless journals in her life, she began writing seriously in 2009 as a way to deal with anxiety. She is currently working on her next manuscript.
The freedom to love comes with a cost.
As a guardian angel, Drake’s destiny is written in the stars. Choice is not part of an angel’s life. Drake never thought twice about it until he’s unexpectedly thrust into watching over Grey, who inspires passion in Drake but endangers his very identity as a guardian angel. Grey is more than just another human—he can see angels. When he discovers that unlike his previous angel Drake will talk to him, Grey becomes determined to pull Drake off the sidelines and into life. Attraction flares between them from the beginning and causes Drake to question his purpose for the first time. His distraction results in a decision that changes everything—and not just for him and Grey.
Drake is a guardian angel, who despite protocol, feels compelled to “remember” each and everyone of his charges, even after they’ve passed. He gets placed on a case mid-stream when one of his fellow angels “goes corporeal” (turns into a human and gives up being an angel).
Grey is a human who has always been able to see guardian angels, but Drake is the first he’s gotten to talk to him and even touch! Grey acts as his own sort of guardian by patrolling his neighborhood streets to keep things as safe as he can for his people.
Drake and Grey are attracted to one another, though Drake knows absolutely and literally nothing about such physical and emotional things. Grey delights in showing him the wonders of “being alive” and experiencing life rather than just observing.
When things get very “real” and Grey gets hurt while Drake is on the job, Drake decides it’s too much to risk and asks to be pulled from Grey’s guard duty, though they’ve both admitted their love for the other.
However – it’s too much for them to take AND there’s something brewing among the angels that has Drake’s friends getting involved to bring Grey and Drake together in the hopes that their relationship will serve a higher purpose.
First let me say that I’m a Diane Adams fan. I really enjoyed her series “The Making of a Man” and was really excited about a paranormal book from her.
I’m not sure the order of writing, but I do know this is a re-print of an earlier title. That being the case it may have been one of her earlier books, I don’t know. But what I do know is that it lacked some of the tightness her other stories had and that there were some basic flaws that made enjoying the creativity of this story a harder for me.
The premise and the world-building were great. Angels aren’t vehicles of heaven – they just “are”. They don’t have an agenda, they just protect. They don’t judge don’t necessarily even care about what they see, they just observe. This has some consequences and in the past has led to some rebellion. Currently, there are angels worried about another rebellion. I liked this take on the angel theme, and was glad to see a departure from some of the more historical/religious way angels are usually portrayed.
I also loved the idea of a guardian angel falling for his charge. Sure, it’s been done before, but it’s a lovely idea and in this case has some interesting twists.
What I found difficult was all the inconsistencies around what angels were to do, why they would “go corporeal” and how they would come to that decision, what happens when they cross over, why Drake was so fixated on memories, what roll Grey was to play in the end and what the other pair of lovers had to do with things. It felt kind of vague in some ways and didn’t seem to follow a discrete set of “plot rules” in a way that made me understand character motivation well at all.
Though it may sound silly, it was hard having two MCs with names like Grey and Drake. They were so similar I kept forgetting who was who and had to re-read passages over and over because I’d gotten confused.
The gang stuff really didn’t work for me and the attack on Drake just felt awkward and strange for a modern story.
By the end I wasn’t sure what exactly was happening with Grey and Drake and just who they were and what they were going to be doing for the foreseeable future.
So… though I really liked parts of this story, the fact that felt so rough around the edges had me giving just a bit lower rating.
At fifteen, Troy and Liam were fostered by the same family, and although they hated each other at first, they gradually became solid friends. As adults, the two foster brothers live together. Both experience tough times, each being a rock for the other, but their love had never been anything other than brotherly. Until they both fall for the same guy, and things get… complicated. Dalton is fresh out of a ten year marriage. Feeling lost, he concentrates on the only thing he can control—his body. Developing from a chubby, unfit police officer into a lean, mean inked one, Dalton has never looked better, but inside, he’s never felt worse. A relationship is far from his thoughts, and one with another man makes Dalton even more confused. He takes time to get to know Troy and Liam separately, but Manchester isn’t that big, and sparks fly when fate throws the three together. Together, these three fight it out between them. Both Troy and Liam demand Dalton choose between them, but what if he didn’t have to choose? What if it could work between three? The things in life we fight for are never the easiest, but they’re the ones worth holding onto forever.
Pages or Words: 382 pages
Liam chatted with Milo, but Dalton was too busy trying to stop hyperventilating and not staring at Liam’s body, seeing it as he last saw it—wet and tense, excited and looking sinful in that shower cubicle. Those types of thoughts weren’t going to help him calm down. Why oh why did that have to happen?
Blue leaned in, calming strokes running up and down Dalton’s back, sweetly spoken words whispered against his neck, and Dalton’s tension eased a little. “Is he an ex or something?”
“No,” Dalton choked out.
“Oh, I just thought there was some history there.” Blue’s glossy red lips curled into a smile.
“There’s no history of that kind.”
“But there is some to speak about?” Blue opened his green eyes wider and nodded. “It’s obvious. Maybe it’s time you resolved this tension between the two of you somehow.”
“What?” Dalton stiffened.
“Well, there’s obviously something happening between you two.”
“Yeah, but not what you think.”
Blue bit his lip while he thought. “Hmm, there’s a few different things going on from where I’m sitting.” He nudged his thigh against Dalton’s dick, and for the first time, he realised he was excited. “Or is this for me?”
Dalton truly had no idea. He was confused by his own body, not understanding why he was reacting at all. But it had happened in the showers while he watched Liam. Maybe it was those moments replaying in his mind which caused his cock to stiffen in his jeans.
Maybe it was the fact he had someone sitting on him, caring about him, someone with long legs and big heels, who was wearing make-up and who was confusing Dalton’s body by being more feminine than he was used to in a man. But then, Dalton was close to Samuel. He was beautiful and more feminine than Blue and this had never happened, and hadn’t Samuel been sitting on his knee earlier? Maybe he was losing his mind. Maybe he’d already lost it.
“I don’t… I really don’t know,” he whispered into Blue’s hair. “I just… I have to go.”
“Wait, sexy.” Blue pressed his body more into his, meeting his eyes, those black lashes coated thickly in mascara. “Don’t run off just yet. There’s no need.”
“I’m not gay,” Dalton rushed out as low as he could make his voice, darting his gaze to Liam, his tight V-necked vest showing off those big muscles, jeans encasing his firm arse, that bottle hanging in between his lips.
This time, when Blue rubbed his thigh over his cock, Dalton grabbed Blue’s slender calf running up his leg and just held it, not moving him away but not pulling him closer—just frozen, not knowing what to do.
“You don’t have to label yourself with anything, Dalton.” Blue took hold of his chin, fingertips gently caressing his skin and making Dalton shift his gaze from Liam back to him. “I think…” He eased closer still, his thigh now pressed against the rigid length encased in Dalton’s jeans. “If your body needs something, it lets you know. If your eyes find something pleasing, they look more. If your heart beats faster for someone, then you follow it. I’m not gay. I’m a person. A human being. That’s the label I want to be tagged with. Hashtag Human.” He clicked his fingers with a bright smile.
Dalton smiled through his fear and understood what Blue was saying. He just wasn’t ready to think the same way. “That’s nice.”
“It’s the truth. The truth is always a good thing. I always think our brains confuse us. They have all this bullshit ‘learned’ behaviour which they pick up over the years and it tells you to think one way, your body saying another. It takes time for those two to work together and come to some sort of an agreement, but we all get there eventually. Just don’t pressure yourself, hon.” Blue leaned in, kissing the corner of his mouth, Dalton’s cock now crushed against his thigh. “Of course, I would like to think this is for me, but I know better.” Blue pulled back with a heavy sigh. “If you change your mind though…” He winked with a chuckle.
“Blue.” Samuel was beside them, looking between them both. “Dalton’s a bit…” He drifted off, worrying his bottom lip with his teeth, obviously not wanting to spill too much personal info about Dalton’s bad day and emotional state.
“Confused, sweetie?” Blue offered brightly.
“Yeah.” Samuel looked to the sky, then took hold of Blue’s hand. “You go get some air, Dalton.”
Meet Nicole Colville:
Nicole Colville was born and currently lives in Leeds, England. She is a wife and mother of two young girls who somehow manages to fit in being a full time author of m/m romance and erotica. She loves writing complex characters in bittersweet romances which will leave you addicted and craving more from her men.
Although best known for her popular series, Hidden and Knights to Remember, she also enjoys writing with friend, and fellow author, E.M Leya. Together they have published two books in their Sinful Temptation Collection with more planned.
Her new menage collection based in the popular city of Manchester, England is her first solo full length novel outside of The Hidden Series and has three books planned for release in 2015 & 2016.
Alec sat back in the chair and held in a sigh, feeling every bit the lab rat he’d become. Since he’d become a vampire a year ago, he’d been put through test after test, so each and every one of his unending list of talents could be explored and documented.
He’d agreed to this, and he knew it was the right thing to do, but in that very moment, he wished to be doing anything else.
And with talents for making errant thoughts an instant reality—like setting fire to sofas and making Xbox controllers explode in Eiji’s hand because he’d somehow won—it wasn’t a good frame of mind to be in.
He loved Jodis. He really did. She had become one of his best friends. But she’d also taken it upon herself to document his talents, and he’d just about had enough for one day. If replicating wasn’t a talent so frowned upon in the vampire world, he’d make a copy of himself to endure Jodis’ tests while he and Cronin hid out in their bedroom. He’d replicated himself a few times, experimentally of course, and found it too taxing on himself anyway.
“Can you do it again?” she asked, notepad and pen in hand.
Alec had found a certain talent he’d dubbed the chameleon, for obvious reasons, because he could make things change color. It was absurd, really, and probably of no better use than a party trick. But he could, if he concentrated, turn a red pen blue or a white shirt black. The talent could only manifest by touch, and it lasted only a few minutes before returning to its original color, but Jodis was rather intrigued.
Alec, on the other hand, had passed bored like it was standing still and was well on his way to irate. “Jodis, I’ve kinda had enough of this today.”
“Last one, I promise.”
For Alec, it wasn’t so much as reining in a temper anymore, where the most damage done was a cutting remark. Now it was keeping a lid on a few dozen talents that reacted poorly to anger. He only had to get really pissed off and a rage would barrel out of him like nuclear fallout, literally knocking humans and vampires off their feet. Or he could burst eardrums with a furious roar, or maybe he could turn them to stone, or dust. Or maybe, just maybe, he could rip an earthquake through the apartment so he didn’t have to do any more of these stupid fucking tests.
“Alec,” Eleanor cautioned from the next room.
“I wasn’t actually going to do that,” he replied petulantly. He knew Eleanor, with the gift of foresight, saw possible outcomes of decisions made, and that did nothing to quell his frustration. “Jesus, now my thoughts aren’t even my own.” Standing up, he snatched the purple notebook off the desk, holding it for half a second and slamming it back down. It was now black, as was every page inside it, and it was smoldering as though it almost caught fire.
Cronin was suddenly in front of him, a hand cupped to his face. “He’s had enough,” he said to Jodis, and they disappeared.
* * * *
As soon as Alec’s feet hit the soft earth, he took a deep breath of fresh air and reveled in the silence.
His life hadn’t exactly been quiet in the last twelve months.
He felt the warmth of Cronin’s hand in his, smelled the sweet aromas of heath and moss from both the vampire beside him and the cool air of the long-abandoned battlefield, and Alec exhaled loudly.
Cronin had somehow learned to quiet his mind a little and it gave Alec the silence he so desperately needed. In the last twelve months, Cronin had taken Alec on more time-outs than he could count. Knowing when he’d had enough and was reaching breaking point, Cronin would simply remove Alec from the situation, leaping him somewhere quiet where his mind could have some much needed solitude. But with a gentle squeeze of his hand, Cronin reassured him he was there.
“I’m sorry,” Alec said.
“Don’t apologize,” Cronin said adamantly. “I can’t begin to imagine your frustrations.”
“Jodis is only trying to help. I behaved badly.” He could very well speak words directly into Jodis’ mind and tell her privately that he was sorry. But he’d prefer not invade the thoughts of others, preferring to apologize in person.
“She understands,” Cronin said, trying to pacify him.
Alec sighed loudly and allowed the quiet to envelope him. “I love it here,” he said eventually.
The field at Dunadd, Scotland, had become a sanctuary for Alec. No voices in his head, no city of millions with flurrying thoughts unbidden through his mind, no politics of vampire councils, no meetings, no one hovering.
“It affords you a great privacy,” Cronin said. His Scottish accent and formal tone still made Alec smile. “Your talents as a vampire are a burdensome gift.”
Alec had learned very early on to block out the voices and thoughts of those around him, but living in a city of millions made it a constant effort, and his display of anger at Jodis just minutes ago bothered him. “These talents are a pain in my ass.”
Cronin laughed quietly. “Your control over them still astounds us all.”
“The control you keep talking about is a talent in itself. It’s like casting a net over a thousand different fish.” Alec sighed loudly. “I’ve told you that before.”
“I know. Though it amazes me still.” Cronin squeezed Alec’s hand again and looked out across the field of long grass to the line of trees that fronted the river. “Lie down with me.”
Cronin simply lay flat on his back in the middle of the field and when Alec lay down next to him, Cronin snatched up Alec’s hand again. And together in the mind-clearing silence, they watched the blanket of stars glide across the sky.
It was a clear autumn night in Scotland, cold and dark. Neither of those things impeded a vampire of course, and Alec would never tire of the simple changes he’d gone through when he became a vampire. It was the complex changes he was beginning to struggle with. The talents he’d been given made him unique: the only vampire ever to have all vampire talents, some he was still discovering a year after his change. It was these talents that made his life hectic, his obligations as the key to the vampire world that gave him a great responsibility, and as Cronin had said, it was becoming a great burden.
Alec loved that Cronin would leap them to the very field where his human life had ended. The old battlefield in Scotland was also where they’d first made love, where they came to talk, to be by themselves. Like now.
“Thank you for bringing me here,” Alec whispered, his anger and frustration from before almost gone. “I feel like I can breathe here.”
“Is that not what husbands do?” Cronin asked with a smile. “Save the other from the myriad of madness?”
“Husbands,” Alec said, bringing Cronin’s knuckles up to his lips and kissing them softly. “Now that is something I’ll never tire of.”
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About the author:
N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance.
She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn’t have it any other way.
She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don’t let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.
She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things…but likes it even more when they fall in love.
She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.
She’s been writing ever since… Where to find the author: Website