Category Archives: Dreamspinner Press

Love’s Tethered Heart by C.L. Etta

 

From Dreamspinner:

Two years ago Mick and his partner suffered a savage gay bashing that left Mick a quadriplegic-and ended his dreams of traveling the world as an archaeologist. Abandoned by the man he loved, he lives in isolation, tethered to his bed by the machines keeping him alive,with only his caretakers and immediate family as companions.

Assigned to interview Mick and uncover the story behind his assault and his refusal to identify his attackers, journalist Danny is unprepared for his reaction to the fragile enigmatic man. Mick is afraid to let Danny into his life, and Danny is unsure how to change his mind. Mick is also keeping secrets, and he isn’t the only one. Danny is determined to protect Mick, and he’s determined to show Mick that their feelings for each other can thrive amidst the mechanics of Mick’s existence.

If you enjoy romantic tales of heartbreak turned to hope, the life-affirming story of Danny and Mick will make you believe in the possibility of love for everyone-no matter what obstacles they face.

REVIEW: This awesome, amazing, compelling, and fantastic book is one that had me crying until my eyes were red, and laughing until I choked.

Mico has got to be one of the bravest, engaging, and strongest individuals I’ve ever read about. He came out of a situation that would have left many others shattered into pieces. With the help of his friends, family, and caregivers, he’s living his life the best that he can.

Ah, Danny! I can’t help but love and admire him. He’s passionate, loyal, stubborn, determined, and sees Mico as an individual with hopes, dreams, fears, and flaws, not just a lump of flesh attached to the machines that keep him alive. My heart broke into a million pieces when Mick left Danny right after declaring his love for Danny, but the ending took me by surprise. The last paragraph of the blurb sums this wonderful book up perfectly, and I DEFINITELY recommend it to everyone.

 

Rating: amazing

In Enemy Hands by M.A. Church

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: Dec 30 2016

BLURB:

Two very different civilizations-one bathed in bright sunlight and the other veiled in shadow.

Bad decisions, declining resources, and a king on the brink of madness force Prince Varo Kutchif, third son of the royal family and a starship captain, to attempt the impossible: barter for Black Phospolrock, an energy source the mysterious Helkan Kingdom has in abundance. Varo opens a line communication with Adlar, an intriguing Helkan who seems to reciprocate Varo’s interest. He hopes so, because if negotiations collapse, Varo has orders to attack.

The Helkans preside over a planet shrouded in perpetual darkness. Several species have tried to exploit its natural resources through trade with them, but all have failed. Adlar Mondur is the older brother to the Helkan ruler. An assassin of the highest order, he’ll do anything to protect his king and his people-including tracking down the Yesri prince who crash-lands on their planet, leaving an ugly scar across its untouched beauty.

Thus begins a journey where two men from disparate civilizations grow from enemies to lovers.

REVIEW:

This fantastic and compelling story by M.A. Church had me hooked from the very first page. Adlar and Varo are as different as daylight and dark. The Yesri consider the Helkans as little more than animals, and the Helkans see the Yesri as power hungry barbarians who are willing to destroy anyone or anything that gets in their way.

I couldn’t help but feel sympathy and heartache for Varo. Forced by his father into an impossible and insane situation, Varo struggles to fulfill his duties without causing a war between his people and the Helkans. Adlar is the older brother of the Helkan king, and it’s his duty to defend both him and their people from anyone seeking to seize their most valuable resource. After Adlar captures Varo, both men are torn between their duties, and their desires, and the long, complicated, treacherous, obstacle-filled, and steamy hot sexual journey as Adlar and Varo struggle to find their HEA ending makes this a book I will reread many times.

4.5

 

A Chance for Us by Jake C. Wallace

TITLE: A Chance for Us

SERIES: New Vampire Justice

AUTHOR: Jake C. Wallace

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: Nov 11, 2016

BLURB: Love between a young man with a broken mind and the jaded New Vampire Justice officer who cares for him might be the last hope to stop a human-vampire war…

Justin Masters is stuck in a nightmare. Waking after seven years in a catatonic state, he falls desperately in love with the straight NVJ officer who saved him. Between that and dreams of being tortured and taking pleasure in the pain, which bleed into his waking hours, Justin’s sure he’s starting to crack.

The growing unrest in the vampire world should be Max Kincaid’s focus, but Justin’s struggle, along with Max’s confusing feelings for his ward, have him reeling. When Justin’s attacked, his resulting needs might be more than Max can fulfill, but he’ll be damned if anyone else will touch Justin.

As the NVJ investigates humans missing from a high-end bite club, they uncover a deeper plot that traces back to Justin. If those who want him have their way, there will be bloodshed. Justin and Max are in a fight to save Justin not only from those who would use him, but from his own mind.

REVIEW: I can’t imagine the sheer terror Justin felt after waking up one day only to discover that seven years have gone by since that painful, horror-filled day when Carson was forced to bite him. This starts the long, twisted, shocking, heartbreaking journey of Justin trying to get his life back one achingly slow step at a time. Max is confused by his feelings as they slowly change from seeing Justin as a broken victim he needs to protect into wanting him as a lover and a partner. This compelling tale has more twists and turns than a rollercoaster, and enough action to satisfy any adrenaline junkie. The sheer evil and greed of some of the villains made me shudder in revulsion, and just when I thought I figured out what was going on….BAM! Everything took off in a totally unexpected direction. No one was who they seemed to be, and the ending was definitely not what I figured it would be. I can positively recommend this fantastic story to everyone.

5

Review by Patricia

Amazon

A Matchless Man (Dreamspun Desires #19) Ariel Tachna


Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: A Matchless Man

SERIES: Dreamspun Desires #19

AUTHOR: Ariel Tachna

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: October 1 , 2016

BLURB: None of the matches caught his eye as much as the matchmaker himself.

Growing up poorer than poor didn’t leave Navashen Bhattathiri many options for life outside of school. All of his concentration was on keeping his scholarships. Sixteen years later, he’s fulfilled his dream and become a doctor. Now he’s returning home to Lexington and is ready to prove himself to the world. In doing so, he reconnects with Brent Carpenter—high school classmate, real estate agent, all-around great guy… and closet matchmaker.

Brent makes it his mission to help Navashen develop a social life and meet available, interesting men. Unfortunately Navashen’s schedule is unpredictable, and few of those available, interesting men value his dedication like Brent does. Brent’s unfailing friendship and support convince Navashen he’s the one, but can he capture Brent’s heart when the matchmaker is focused on finding Navashen another man?

REVIEW: This story is a very sweet friends to lovers story set in Lexington, Ky. This is the second of the Lexington Lovers books and nineteenth within the Dreamspun Desires series. This story gives us Navashen a neonatologist and Brent a real estate agent.

Nav grew up poor and decided to return home after fulfilling his dreams of becoming a doctor. Determined to settle down he looks up Brent, a childhood acquaintance of his. The two reconnect while Brent helped him find his home.

The two become reacquainted with each other and become close but as friends only. Brent opts to play matchmaker to help Nav meet new people. Neither man realized that the very thing that was being sought was already in their faces.

I absolutely loved the relationship that Nav had with his brother. Akshat was my favorite character and the love and support he received from Nav, Brent and his neighbors was heartwarming. I truly enjoy these characters; they were very well written.

With that said, the story did have a bit of a drawback. The storyline, although lovely, was quite bland in the way of passion. There was absolutely no sexual chemistry between Brent and Nav’s characters and I think that’s what made the relationship between the two men less believable. This made the one and only sex scene at the end seemed forced; like it had to be written in because it was expected instead of it being a natural progression of the relationship. I think that it should have been left out completely; I was okay with the book not having sex as I think that a sexual relationship between the two would’ve taken away from the story.it’s this reason that I feel that the sex should’ve been left completely out of the story instead of written in.

In all, I truly enjoyed this book. There a sweet Hallmark-esque vibe that I loved and it worked well..

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

 

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Bear Among the Books by TJ Masters

Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: Bear Among The Books

SERIES:

AUTHOR: TJ Masters

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press
RELEASE DATE: September 2 , 2016

BLURB: Forty-eight-year-old Ben Thompson is a librarian, a passionate book lover, and a man who embodies the definition of a bear. He’s also lonely after the loss of his long-term partner. Young ex-gymnast Jason Barnes piques his interest, but Ben quickly realizes there’s more to Jason than his good looks. While Jason visits the library almost every day, he never checks out a book.

With gentle persistence, Ben befriends Jason and learns the nineteen-year-old’s tragic secrets. After years of abuse at his father’s hands, Jason was kicked out of his family home for being gay. And despite his apparent love of books, Jason never learned to read. Ben offers to teach him, and the two men bond over their lessons. Ben can’t deny his attraction to Jason, but he wonders if Jason is too young and too handsome to return his interest. With the help of the close-knit library team and Jason’s growing self-confidence, they move beyond the books and into the bedroom, where their own story is just beginning.

REVIEW: I didn’t think that this book would hold my interests hen it was first presented to me but I was pleasantly surprised. Very much so.

Here you have this young man, Jason, who at nineteen doesn’t know how to read. He’s a sweet young man, bright but had learning difficulties where left him illiterate. Let’s talk about him a bit more. This young man was in no way lazy or uninterested in learning, he was quite the opposite. He was passionate about books and his thirst for knowledge was obvious. There was just never anyone who actually took the time to take a vested interest in helping him learn until he meets Ben.

Ben. Sweet, gentle, intelligent, soft spoken Ben. He’s a librarian, a gentlemen of 48, whose just decided to live his life as it is. He has his books, his colleagues that he likes in a job that he loves. You get the sense that he wasn’t not looking to fall in love that he’s just sort of put that part of himself away after the passing of his husband/long term partner.

I think initially, when he notices Jason, he’s intrigued and notices how attractive he is in passing; it wasn’t overwhelming. But once he discovers the young man’s secret, he wants to help him.

I really like this book. When many think of a May/ December or older man/younger man romance, there’s a tendency to tell the story with certain slant. I was really glad to see that it wasn’t the case with this book. Ben genuinely cares about Jason, he has a vested interest in helping this young man live up to his full potential. It’s actually sad that people in the education system failed this young man.

The romance aspect wasn’t as believable as I would’ve expectedly to be. I just couldn’t see these two as a couple not because of the age difference but because of the tone of the relationship. Oh, don’t get me wrong, Ben does in no way take advantage of Jason, I just felt that the relationship was driven by feelings other than love and attraction. I think for Jason it was more of an attraction to his mentor and for Ben it was driven by loneliness and a bit of lust. But it was in no way disgusting.

This aside, I think the book was well very written. There wasn’t any heat between the two characters in my opinion but then again, that’s quite alright because I think these two men made better friends than lovers. The chemistry between the two was a slow burn that never truly turns into a raging fire and that is okay.

All things considered, I think the story worked out rather nicely.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
BUY LINKS:

Amazon

 

Dreamspinner Press

 

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Wild Retaliation (Seaside Shifters #1) Ethan Stone

Reviewed by Kiwi

TITLE: Wild Retaliation

SERIES: Seaside Shifters #1

PUBLISHER: Dreamspinner Press

RELEASE DATE: September 7, 2016

BLURB: Chief of Police John Dakota is in a world of trouble. His peaceful town of Seaside, Oregon, has been rocked by a wave of unsolved murders. The bloody deaths are eerily reminiscent of ones that occurred in Seaside years ago. Back then John worked hard to make sure the truth about the killer was never revealed. Now he’s afraid the past is coming back to haunt him.

Trevor English, the nosy reporter who occasionally shares John’s bed, is demanding information about the crimes. He also wants more of John’s affections. But John can’t afford to give in to either demand without risking the revelation of Seaside’s biggest secret: the town is a haven for shifters, and John is one of them.

To solve the crime—and prevent more victims—John must delve into the past. Many members of Seaside’s shifter community are involved, but it’s becoming harder and harder to tell which residents can be trusted. Even John’s family isn’t above suspicion. The body count is rising, and it looks like John is the killer’s next target.

REVIEW: I’m not a fan of mysteries in general, murder mysteries in particular but every now and then, one will pique my interest. This story just happened to have been one of them. This is due to it having one of my favorite things: shifters.

This is the second book I’ve read from this particular author and I must say that I really enjoy the way he tells his stories.

John is a bear shifter, chief of police in the peacefully little town in Oregon when a series of murders rocks the town.

Trevor is an ambitious and pushy reporter who determined to be the one to get the scoop as to who is exactly behind the murders and why. And because of this, he starts demanding answers.

I love the dynamics between the two men in this story. You have John who’s trying to balance trying to catch whoever’s behind the murders and keep the town’s secret while trying to keep his relationship with Trevor strictly casual. The relationship between John and Trevor intrigued me. Trevor clearly wanted more than just the casual set up they had and you know that John did as well but he was fighting against it so hard. After a while, John realized his feelings for Trevor ran a lot deeper than casual sex. It was just his secrets that held him back from opening himself up to Trevor completely.  I actually like the fact that it wasn’t this Insta – love that you see in many shifter stories. Yes, they were mates however they had to build up to the love, the relationship had to develop between these two men. That to me, made it that much better. that to me felt a lot more realistic than the insta- love trope.

You get a bit of everything with this story: you get the paranormal, a murder mystery with a bit of romance thrown in. I liked that the author stepped outside of the box with this as it could’ve easily been a run of the mill murder mystery and I think Stone made a very wise decision adding the paranormal element to it.  There were also added a wide variety of very interesting peripheral characters added. The dialogue, plot, storyline and editing were fantastic.

I really enjoyed this story. There were no plot holes and the story didn’t lag or or drag along anywhere. The pace was perfect; it grabbed and held my interest from the very beginning. The editing and dialogue was perfect. The author did a lovely job of developing these characters, plot and storyline. There were several times in the story that I thought I had it figured out who the murder was only to find out that I couldn’t have been more wrong. The culprit definitely wasn’t who I suspected! This book will keep you engaged and at the edge of your seat until the last page. This is a definite must read and I look forward to seeing what happens next.

RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

BUY LINKS

Amazon

Dreamspinner Press

 

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Guest Post With Excerpt from Wild Retaliation by Ethan Stone

From Dreamspinner:

wrcover

Seaside Shifters, Bk 1 

Chief of Police John Dakota is in a world of trouble. His peaceful town of Seaside, Oregon, has been rocked by a wave of unsolved murders. The bloody deaths are eerily reminiscent of ones that occurred in Seaside years ago. Back then John worked hard to make sure the truth about the killer was never revealed. Now he’s afraid the past is coming back to haunt him. Trevor English, the nosy reporter who occasionally shares John’s bed, is demanding information about the crimes. He also wants more of John’s affections. But John can’t afford to give in to either demand without risking the revelation of Seaside’s biggest secret: the town is a haven for shifters, and John is one of them. To solve the crime—and prevent more victims—John must delve into the past. Many members of Seaside’s shifter community are involved, but it’s becoming harder and harder to tell which residents can be trusted. Even John’s family isn’t above suspicion. The body count is rising, and it looks like John is the killer’s next target.

Guest Post

Thank you for visiting me on my Wild Retaliation blog tour. Below is an exclusive excerpt. At this point in the story several murders have already taken place and Sheriff John Dakota, a bear shifter, is expecting more because the deaths are matching ones that took place years before. In this scene he and his friend Jonas Murphy, a wolf shifter, transform and head into the woods to find a man and his twin sons to warn them of possible danger.

Jonas was already at Compton’s field when I arrived. It was a large plot of land near the woods that shifters used to change before letting their animal free. Basically, it was our safe haven.

I strode out into the pasture, and he nodded at me before stripping so he could shift. I watched his transformation because I thought it was a beautiful sight. The way the muscles stretched and changed amazed me every time.

As a wolf, Jonas’s transformation took slightly less time than mine. I didn’t know why it took longer to become a bear, just one of the mysteries of Mother Earth. I’d spoken to regular people who know about the paranormal world, and they always asked what it felt like to transform. And I always said the same thing—it’s hard to explain. There is pain, but it’s not intense and doesn’t last long. And the feeling of being free once my animal is out is amazing. It’s a second part of me, at least half, which I have to force down most of the time. Finally allowing him out is a sensation I can’t begin to describe.

One trouble with shifting is that once you’re an animal, you can’t speak to the person you’re with. Jonas and I were left with strictly nonverbal communication, mainly body movements. Jonas sniffed the air, and I did the same, though I doubted we’d catch the Aguirres’ scent so near to town. They were no doubt much farther away. We’d have to check the usual trails and hope to catch their odors.

Jonas lifted his snout, then gestured toward the woods and took off. I followed him, and he soon disappeared from sight. I could move quickly as a bear, but not as fast as Jonas, especially when he was running at full speed. He’d go out scouting and circle back to check on me.

Being a bear opened my mind, because I no longer had the concerns of the human world. As an animal, it was about the scents and sounds around me. It was simple desires like hunting and climbing and… fucking. Yeah, my bear was a horn dog. I guess because sex was a basic animalistic desire. I’d never had sex while shifted, though I knew some people who did—sex with other shifters while transformed, not sex with wild animals.

Trevor came to mind, most likely because I was focused on sex. Damn, the previous night together had been so hot. More passionate than I’d ever been with another guy. We had a strong connection, and I enjoyed the bond. I just wished he’d stop pushing for more than sex.

My bear didn’t only want sex, though. It also wanted love—a mate. I tried to ignore that desire, but it was strong, extremely strong. I wondered if every shifter felt the same pull to discover their mate. I couldn’t believe what an intense desire it was. One problem was that I had no idea how I’d know when I met him.

Some friends had known their mate the minute they met them. One even claimed he knew his wife was the one for him strictly based on her scent. Was that really possible? Others said it took time for them to realize who they were supposed to be with. My mate wasn’t necessarily a shifter, though that would make it easier. At least I wouldn’t have to explain what I was and hope he didn’t freak out.

Jonas returned, and I focused on the task at hand. He shook his head, telling me he hadn’t found anything yet. I lifted a large paw and gestured toward a lesser-used trail. He nodded, and off we went.

It took several hours and copious amounts of backtracking, but we did finally locate the Aguirre men in a small clearing. The boys were sitting around a campfire laughing and joking while Freddie scaled a fish. Most people would freak out if a wolf and a bear strolled into their camp, but the Aguirres were mountain lion shifters, so they recognized us as some of their own.

Jonas transformed first, and I quickly followed. Calvin and Cameron had blankets waiting for us so we didn’t have to speak to them in the buff.

“What’s going on, Chief Dakota?” Freddie asked.

I was torn over how much and what to share. Freddie didn’t know the truth about the previous killings, so I couldn’t be completely honest. I decided something between the truth and a lie was the best option.

“Do you remember the feral bear nine years back?” I questioned.

Freddie nodded.

“There have been two recent deaths that match the first two from back then.”

He scrunched his eyes. “Animal attacks?”

“Truthfully, Freddie, I’m not sure if it’s animal or not. There are just too many things in common.”

“So what are you thinking?” one of the boys asked. I wasn’t sure which one because I didn’t know them well enough to tell the difference.

“It could be some sort of copycat,” Jonas answered. “A sick bastard who gets off on this type of thing.”

“What does this have to do with us?” the other twin questioned.

“Well,” I answered, “the third and fourth victims of the bear assaults were—”

“Twin boys,” Freddie interjected. “Are my sons in danger?”

“I don’t know for sure,” I replied. “But according to what I know, there are no other sets of twins in Seaside.”

“Shit!” Freddie paced a few steps, rubbing his face. The boys went to their father and put their arms around him.

“Don’t worry, Dad. We’re safe. No one’s coming after us.”

Freddie eyed me. “What do you think we should do?”

I answered, “The farther away from town you are, the better. How long were you planning on staying out here?”

“A couple days at least, but we can extend it.”

“For how long?” I asked.

Freddie shrugged. “I work from home, and I can do that just about anywhere.”

“Then why don’t you three get out of Seaside for a prolonged vacation? Get to Highway 101 and take it as far as you can. Tell your girlfriend where you are but no one else. Have her get in contact with me and only me.”

“You don’t think this guy will come after us, do you?” one of the twins asked.

“I doubt it,” I replied without going into detail. “I think you guys skedaddling will do the trick.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do.” Freddie faced his kids. “Let’s pack up and get out of here.”

“I’ll stay with you until you get out of the woods,” Jonas said. “That way you all have an extra set of eyes.”

I thanked Jonas for the offer, became a bear, and hightailed it back to Compton’s. On the way, nature summoned me, and I wanted nothing more than to follow my animal’s desires. If there weren’t so many things to take care of back in town, I’d locate a stream to play in and catch fish. It had been too long since I allowed that to happen. When all this was over, I’d have to take a weekend off and let my bear out to play.

Bio

Ethan Stone

Romance on the Edge

Ethan Stone doesn’t write your typical boy meets boy stories. With a combination of love and suspense he makes his characters work hard for their

HEAs. If they can survive what he puts them through, then they can survive anything. He enjoys Romance with an Edge.

Ethan has been reading mysteries and thrillers since he was young. He’s had a thing for guys in uniform for just as long. That may have influenced the stories he writes.

He’s a native Oregonian with two kids. One of whom has made him a grandfather three times over; even though he is way too young.

Readers can find Ethan online.

http://www.ethanjstone.com Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/ethan.stone.54 

Twitter: @ethanjstone Pinterest: http://www.pinterest.com/ethanjstone/ 

Tumblr: http://www.tumblr.com/blog/ethanstone Email: ethanstone.nv@gmail.com 

His books: http://www.ethanjstone.com/my-books

 

Sylvan by Jan Irving

From Dreamspinner:

“Return to small-town Sylvan in Jan Irving’s bestselling series—reimagined and re-edited with an all-new bonus novella. The small Western town of Sylvan is a place for new beginnings for those who won’t settle for anything less than true love. These sweet tales of slow-simmering romance and the old-fashioned values of commitment and pulling together when times get tough prove that sometimes the best matches are also the most unexpected. With the help of a storm, a washed-up Olympic swimmer and a carpenter cracking under the strain of caring for his Alzheimer’s-affected father learn that opposites sometimes really do attract. A likable cowboy called Happy Nate is determined to help a mute boy speak again—and to help his father move beyond the repression of the Mennonite community to find the love he deserves. When a hard-partying cowboy is suddenly saddled with a surprise baby, he’s at his wit’s end. Luckily the local doctor is available to help, and if the two men can find the courage to accept themselves and step into a new life, they might just make a real family. They’ll need to lend each other strength when an unspeakable tragedy strikes—and when it’s time to pick up the pieces.”

Reviewed by A. T. Weaver

The author has combined four novellas in this book about life in the small town of Sylvan. Although the four are tied together by location and some interaction of characters, they are ‘stand-alone’ stories.

I found them to be well-written, and intriguing. Not too erotic. On a scale of one-five, probably three at the most. Each couple has drama and trials before finding their ‘happy ever after’ ending.

If I had one complaint with the series, it would be that the town is not described. All action takes place at outlying places with nothing actually in the town until the last scene of the fourth story.

All in all, a pleasant read.

Rating: 4

 

Sylvan4

Fall In Love with the Boy Next Door (Guest Post by Allison Cassatta)

ThreeLittleWords-COVERHave you ever been there, in that single eye-opening childhood moment when you realize you have a crush on your friend? Or maybe it was the boy who lived down the street? You probably even discovered your sexuality in that moment.

Friends to lovers is a very common trope in romance. Those stories are easy to write. The chemistry is just there. The characters know each other, probably even have each other’s quirks memorized. They never fight because they’re best friends and love just works, puppies and kittens, rainbows and unicorns, and happily ever after. But that’s so unrealistic to me. What’s a meaty romance without some drama?

In Three Little Words, Luke–Matt’s best friend since youth–has never been seen dating or flirting with anyone, ever. His sexuality was always a subject of curiosity, but Matt would never ask. It seemed rude. So Matt kept his little crush on the boy next door a giant secret, and like most childhood crushes, Matt and Luke’s fairy tale ended there. No exploration of feelings. No exploration of bodies. Matt continued into adulthood and fell in love, keeping his best friend by his side through those years. It’s not until Matt gets his heart totally obliterated that he finds out his feelings for his best friend weren’t one-sided. Unfortunately, Luke’s timing is pretty terrible.

I’ll leave you with this fun little scene…

EXCERPT:

Two weeks and more than twenty phone calls later—one telling Brandon he could have the car Matt had bought him—and Matt was no closer to closure than he had been when he’d read that letter from the dresser. The pain remained. The disappointment in himself, in Brandon, in the both of them together, held strong. The anger continued to rage. And Matt began to believe it would never end.

He sat on the kitchen counter with a cold beer in his hand, absently picking at the edge of the label as he stared at a stack of boxes by the bay window of the breakfast nook they’d once loved so much. Zeus curled beneath his feet.

Everything Matt and Brandon had picked out for their house was packed in those boxes, every memory—good or bad—every gift Brandon had given him over the years, carefully cradled in bubble-wrap. Those sad brown boxes were a testament to how horribly off track his life had gone. And to think, he’d planned to ask Brandon to marry him. Who knew things could go so wrong?

“I think I got it all,” Luke said as he leaned against the arched opening leading into the kitchen. He swiped the last dishtowel from the counter beside him and scrubbed his dirty hands

Matt looked up at his best friend of over twenty years and gave him a sad smile. “Thanks, bro.”

“Hey, you did it for me when I moved away to become a fireman. It’s the least I could do.”

That had been about seven years ago, way before Matt met Brandon, back when Matt still wanted to be madly in love with his best friend. Matt never confessed and never would. Hell, he didn’t even know if Luke was gay or straight. Luke never seemed too interested in dating—not a guy or a girl. He’d always focused on sports and working out. He had dreams he chased, and none of them ever included dating. Sexuality was easy not to talk about. Sexuality was nonexistent in their world. Or that’s what Matt always told himself.

Sometimes, on that rare occasion when he thought about growing up with Luke, Matt wondered if Luke ever knew how he felt, if it ever came out in a look or in something he’d said. Luke never asked, and Matt would never dare to talk about it. Not even now, after finding himself unexpectedly available. He’d worked hard to push those feelings aside when it seemed like the two of them would never be anything more than friends. Some subjects didn’t need discussion. Ever.

The sunlight pouring in through the bare bay windows made the tan skin of Luke’s naked muscled chest look almost bronze. It made his blond hair look a rich shade of gold. His blue eyes even seemed to sparkle as he stared right at Matt’s face.

“Dude, you gotta snap out of this. You’re killin’ me,” Luke said.

“Sorry, man. I’m trying. I just—” Matt shook his head as he hopped down from the counter, careful not to step on Zeus. “—can’t believe he did this to me. I mean, fuck, I gave him everything he ever wanted.”

“Yeah, and he’s a damn fool to let someone like you go.”

“Maybe.” Matt shrugged.

“Do you need anything else from me?”

“Nah. Mom hired movers to come pick this shit up and take it to storage. She’s keeping Zeus for me too.”

“I thought your mom didn’t have a yard or anything.”

“Not at the condo she doesn’t, but what else am I going to do with him?”

“Let me take him home. I have a huge yard. Plenty of running space.”

Zeus popped up from the floor as if he knew they were talking about him. Tail wagging like crazy, he brushed his head against Matt’s leg. Matt leaned down and began scratching the spot behind his ear. “You’d do that for me?” Matt asked, still looking down at his furry best friend.

“Hell yeah!”

“Man, I appreciate it. Zeus would be a hell of a lot happier with you. He knows you better than Mom, and you can play with him. She can’t. She’s just too old and not in any shape to be chasing around a puppy.”

“You coming back for him?”

“Probably. When I get settled in… somewhere. I’ll be on Mark’s boat for a little while. We’re taking off out of New England next week. I don’t know what I’m gonna do after that. Might stay up there for a few months, see what happens.”

“A few months with your brother? How are you gonna survive?”

“Who knows?” Matt said with a hint of laughter.

The conversation came to a dead halt. With a sigh, Matt stood, but Zeus didn’t leave his side. He tried not to stare as Luke crossed the length of the galley kitchen. He tried like hell not to watch the flex of his best friend’s muscles as Luke reached in the fridge and grabbed a bottle of beer.

“Hand me one too,” Matt said.

And when Luke rose up from the fridge, he was face-to-face with Matt, and goddammit if Matt didn’t want to pull him into a kiss. No, he wasn’t over Brandon already, but he’d had this thing for Luke for half a lifetime and right now, he just wanted… someone, someone who wouldn’t run out on him and leave him heartbroken. Luke would never do that. Even if he didn’t have the same feelings, he’d never do anything to hurt Matt.

Luke pressed the cold, brown bottle to Matt’s hand. Their eyes locked, and no matter how badly Matt wanted to, he couldn’t force himself to look away. He took a breath and swallowed so hard he could hear the loud sound of his throat muscles tightening.

“You okay?” Luke asked.

“No. I’m not. I’m not okay at all.”

The air surrounding them suddenly became thick and hard to breathe. Something in Luke’s stare changed, though Matt couldn’t really describe it. His eyes softened, darkened even, like maybe he had something he needed to get off his chest too, but maybe he was too afraid. Matt tensed his jaw and narrowed his eyes.

“What?” he asked in a bitter rush, because he couldn’t stand the way Luke stared at him.

“I don’t like seeing you this way, man. It’s freaking me out.”

“Why?”

“Because you’re not this guy, Matt. You’re… fun. You’re lighthearted and always smiling. This shit ain’t you, man.”

“I’m trying. I gotta get out of this place. Everywhere I look, I see him. I don’t want to see him anymore.”

“I know,” Luke said softly as he laid his hand on Matt’s shoulder. The warmth of his palm felt like heaven on Matt’s sweaty skin, even with the heat radiating from his pores. It was the kind of sincere, caring touch Matt needed.

He let out the breath he’d been holding and looked down, catching a glimpse of Luke’s toned chest as he averted his eyes. If he kept looking at Luke, Matt would end up throwing caution to the wind and plant his lips against his best friend’s mouth. He couldn’t do that. He’d already lost one person he cared about. He couldn’t lose another.

A strong, moist hand wrapped around his chin and lifted his head, forcing him to look at Luke again. That dark, weighty feeling returned to Luke’s beautiful blue eyes. His stare made Matt’s heart beat faster, then slower. And before Matt even had a chance to blink, Luke’s lips landed on his.

BLURB:

Is it better to keep some secrets locked away?

Matt thought his life was perfect, but he learns there’s no such thing when the man he planned to marry breaks his heart and leaves him holding the pieces. Needing to escape and lick his wounds, Matt heads to New England to spend time on his brother’s lobster boat. A one-night-stand proves to him that empty sex does nothing to mend old hurt, and neither does running away.

So when Matt’s best friend, Luke, a firefighter, is seriously injured, Matt steps up, even if it means facing bigotry and ignorance. Luke has been hiding his feelings from Matt all their lives, and revealing them after so many years won’t make life easier for either of them. But nothing worth having ever comes easily….

LINKS TO THE BOOK:

AMAZON – http://amzn.to/2azgDfH

DREAMSPINNER – https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/three-little-words-by-allison-cassatta-7378-b

BARNES & NOBLE – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/three-little-words-allison-cassatta/1115091878?ean=2940157063047

ALL ROMANCE EBOOKS – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-threelittlewords-2085030-149.html

LINKS TO ME:

WEBSITE – http://www.allisoncassatta.com/

FACEBOOK – http://www.facebook.com/pages/author-allison-cassatta/158938557051

TWITTER – http://twitter.com/#!/allisoncassatta

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Some books you need when your life falls apart—Sylvan is that one for me (Guest post by Jan Irving)

Sylvan4I always loved a series I did early in my writing set in Sylvan. Writing about this series was like going back to my small town roots. And I always found myself wishing I could go back, visit with those characters over again. I wished I hadn’t written them so fast because just the writing was like stopping by.

When I’d feel down, there are certain go-to books I return to. And it turns out, it’s the same as a writer, so after many years gap, I returned to Sylvan.

I took this western town series and I added new content, more than 2000 words to each novella. They include Sylvan, the title story, about Mal, a washed out Olympic swimmer and Leif, a carpenter. Mal is the king of hook ups and the fast life, but turns out he’s lost himself on the way. When he returns to Sylvan after crashing and burning, he ends up working for Leif, a man who is weighed down with his father’s memory loss and his role as a caregiver. Can the party boy get real? Can he commit to someone with old fashioned values and a fragile heart?

The second story is Luke, my story of a cowboy who wakes up on wrinkled sheets with a hell of a hangover…and a baby on the bed beside him. Turns out she’s the result of one of Luke’s one-nighters. Now what? He’s has no idea how to take care of a kid. Fortunately he meets Sylvan’s town doctor, caring Morgan Gallagher, who offers Luke a home and a refuge to figure out this father-business. And maybe, if Luke is brave enough, a new love.

In Nate a young cowboy nicknamed Happy helps a mute boy and his father pick up the pieces of their shattered lives, helping them find hope and family.

The all new-story I wrote for the anthology is the gut-wrenching novella called Luke’s Baby, which picks up a few years after Luke.

I did all this writing very rapidly over a period of days. In fact, I remember when I resubmitted it, that Elizabeth at DSP commented she was surprised I did it so fast. Luke’s Baby, I wrote in one day. Almost ten thousand words! But it just poured out of me. And I was in tears for most of that writing. It was just so powerful.

So I hope that if you haven’t read the series before you let yourself in for a treat. If you have, these stories are…well, frankly, better. These are very healing stories. Trust me, I was dealing with my mother’s recent diagnosis of dementia and I was as close to down as ever in my life. I wrote the entire series to help myself find a kind of hope. Luke’s Baby I think I wrote as almost a prelude to a major thing that was to happen in my real life, as my mom passed away shortly after writing it. In fact, I had to change one of the afterwords to reflect she’d passed.

You know that sometimes you just have to go home. You need to do that. Whether it’s a real home, whatever that represents for you, or it’s an imaginary one. When Mom passed, I revisited

many books that gave me solace. And I also worked on the edits of this series, getting to live again somewhere where things work out and love is the ultimate truth.

It’s a good place.

Also, they are a great deal. Four novellas for the price of two! And DSP gave me back the cover that I so loved for Luke. I’m very grateful that readers can now buy them in a beautiful collector’s addition.

Here’s an excerpt from Luke’s Baby:

“Dr. Harris left these for you,” the nurse indicated the green scrubs on the trolley table for Luke and Morgan. Morgan realized then that he was still wearing his surgical scrubs with his daughter’s blood on them and Luke had her blood and her horse’s on his clothes. He’d come straight from the sheriff’s office. “Luke, I’ll stay with her. Go shower quick.” “No.” Luke shook his head, not looking away from Jessie. “Luke…” And Morgan couldn’t believe what he said, but it just fell out, “When she wakes up she can’t see us covered with blood. She’s going to be scared. She won’t be able to move—“ Luke jerked to his feet, stumbled, and grabbed the offered clothes. He walked out like a zombie. Morgan reached out and took Jessie’s hand. “You know he’s not coming back from this, Jessie. You have to stay with us.” Morgan could feel her, as he’d felt other patients, not quite in her body, not quite gone. He knew she’d want to go; her body was broken. Pain waited for her here. But so did two men who would never be the same if she left them.

Here’s the blurb:

Sylvan Collection

Return to small-town Sylvan in Jan Irving’s bestselling series—reimagined and re-edited with an all-new bonus novella.

The small Western town of Sylvan is a place for new beginnings for those who won’t settle for anything less than true love. These sweet tales of slow-simmering romance and the old-fashioned values of commitment and pulling together when times get tough prove that sometimes the best matches are also the most unexpected.

With the help of a storm, a washed-up Olympic swimmer and a carpenter cracking under the strain of caring for his Alzheimer’s-affected father learn that opposites sometimes really do attract.

A likable cowboy called Happy Nate is determined to help a mute boy speak again—and to help his father move beyond the repression of the Mennonite community to find the love he deserves.

When a hard-partying cowboy is suddenly saddled with a surprise baby, he’s at his wit’s end. Luckily the local doctor is available to help, and if the two men can find the courage to accept themselves and step into a new life, they might just make a real family. They’ll need to lend each other strength when an unspeakable tragedy strikes—and when it’s time to pick up the pieces. Find Sylvan here: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/sylvan-by-jan-irving-7373-b

Jan Irving has written more than 40 books and novellas, all of them about people finding themselves and love along the way. She recently won an award for best multicultural book. You can find Jan at http://www.janirvingwrites.com and on facebook under Janice Irving.