Release blitz: Second Chance by Jay Northcote

 

 
Length: 67,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Black Jazz Design
 
Blurb

Everyone deserves a second chance.

Nate and his teenage daughter need a fresh start, so they move back to the village where he grew up. Nate’s transgender, and not used to disclosing his history, so it’s hard living where people knew him before. When Nate reconnects with Jack–his best friend from school and unrequited crush–his feelings return as strong as ever.

Jack’s returned home to get his life in order after an addiction to alcohol caused him to lose everything: his job, his driver’s licence, and nearly his life. He’s living with his parents, which is less than ideal, but rekindling his friendship with Nate–or Nat as Jack once knew him–is an unexpected benefit of being back home. Jack is amazed by Nate’s transformation, and can’t deny his attraction. Trying for more than friendship might ruin what they already have, but the chemistry between them is undeniable.

Doubting his feelings are reciprocated, Nate fears he’s risking heartbreak. Jack’s reluctance to tell his parents about their relationship only reinforces Nate’s misgivings. With both their hearts on the line and their happiness at stake, Jack needs to make things right, and Nate has to be prepared to give him a second chance.

Excerpt
 

A hint of cigarette smoke carried on the wind caught Nate’s attention, and he realised he wasn’t alone. A hunched figure sat on a bench by the church. Wearing a heavy coat with the hood up, their head hung low staring at the grass between their feet rather than at the landscape stretched out before them. A cigarette hung from bony fingers that protruded from black fingerless gloves. As Nate watched, the man—because Nate could see his face now—raised his head to take a long drag before stubbing the cigarette out on the bench.

A shock of recognition made Nate’s heart jump, thudding erratically.

Jack.

Torn between conflicting urges to approach and flee, Nate stared at him, powerless to move.

How many years had it been since Nate had seen him? At forty-five Nate found each year passed faster than the one before. It must have been twenty years at least since he’d seen Jack, maybe more, and longer still since they’d spoken properly. Their last meeting had been nothing more than an awkward exchange of greetings when they ran into each other in the village pub one Christmas. The distance between them had cut Nate like a knife, so different to their teenage years when they’d been best friends, and almost inseparable.

Jack slumped forward again, letting the cigarette butt fall from his fingers. He put his hands over his face and Nate recognised despair and hopelessness, because they’d been his companions in the past. Acting on instinct, he approached.

“Sorry to intrude,” he said, pausing in front of Jack. “But are you okay? Is there anything I can do?”

Jack jerked his head up in surprise. His pale cheeks flushed as he shook his head. “Not really. Just having a bad day. You know how it is… or maybe you don’t.”

“I do.”

Nate studied him. The years had changed Jack, of course, but the essence of him was still the same. Sharp features, the strong nose Jack had always hated, even more defined with age, but more balanced now with dark stubble and the lines that the years were beginning to carve around his eyes and mouth.

As Jack stared back, Nate realised there was no recognition dawning on Jack’s face. To Jack, Nate was a stranger. Five years on testosterone had changed Nate to a point where Jack couldn’t see the person Nate had been before. Normally this was something Nate was glad about, but now he felt a pang of regret.

 

Jay lives just outside Bristol in the West of England. He comes from a family of writers, but always used to believe that the gene for fiction writing had passed him by. He spent years only ever writing emails, articles, or website content.

One day, Jay decided to try and write a short story—just to see if he could—and found it rather addictive. He hasn’t stopped writing since.

Jay writes contemporary romance about men who fall in love with other men. He has five books published by Dreamspinner Press, and also self-publishes under the imprint Jaybird Press. Many of his books are now available as audiobooks.

Jay is transgender and was formerly known as she/her.

www.jaynorthcote.com
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Author spotlight: Isobel Starling

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT AND REVIEW TOUR

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AS YOU WISH (Book #1)

1 wedding, 2 best men, one hell of a love story!

Declan Ramsay was to be best man at his brother’s wedding in Scotland, sharing best man duties with the bride’s gay kid brother Sam. The best men wouldn’t meet for the first time until a few days before the wedding, so communicated by email for more than a year.

But on meeting Sam Aiken, Declan is surprised to see he isn’t a kid at all, but a striking, athletic blond man with a wicked sense of humor. Declan is alarmed by the ferocious attraction he feels for Sam. And as the attraction is reciprocated, the events at Dunloch Castle change everything Declan has ever believed about himself.
But is Sam Aiken all he appears to be?

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ILLUMINATE THE SHADOW (Book #2)

The thrilling, funny sequel to ‘As You Wish’.

“A Scotsman and an Englishman fall in love… After the most amazing week of his life, at Dunloch Castle on the banks of Loch Ness, in Scotland. The charming, mysterious Samuel Aiken has turned Declan Ramsay’s life upside down. Declan has experienced a remarkable change. He has come to terms with the fact he is bisexual, and he has fallen head-over-heels in love with his boss’s son Sam.

However, falling for his boss’s son was never going to be an easy path to happiness, mainly because the boss in question is multi-millionaire property tycoon and former MI5 operative, Sir James Aiken.

Sir James is repulsed by his son’s homosexuality, and so discovering that his employee Declan Ramsay- the man he installed to run his luxury property rental empire- is in a relationship with Sam, does not go down well.

The lovers cannot hide from the looming presence of Sir James Aiken for long! Soon enough James makes his move, and Declan finds out what he will have to endure to stay with Sam, and what he will have to give to feel worthy of Sam’s love.”

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RETURN TO ZERO (Book #3)
The thrilling sequel to “As You Wish” and “Illuminate the Shadows”.

Pulled into a world of secrets and lies for the man he loves, Declan Ramsay’s life has changed immeasurably in the eight months since meeting, and falling for his boss’s son, Sam Aiken. Declan journey of personal discovery is about to take a darker turn, and for Sam, the world becomes more treacherous than he could ever have imagined.

Two agents are missing — presumed dead, while on a reconnaissance mission at an outdoor adventure centre in the Scottish Highlands. Sir James Aiken sends his son and Declan to follow the trail, and discover the fate of the agents.

As the mission offers his first chance to use the skills he learned on the MI6 training course in Morocco, Declan is keen to get started. However, Sir James sees to it that the seeds of doubt and discord have been sewn between the couple, as they begin their mission.

The journey to their Highland location, and the discoveries they make when they reach the G’wan Adventures centre, prove that Sir James Aiken has been less than honest with his son. Events in the Highlands force Sam and Declan to face their greatest fears, and understand what they both really want from life — and from each other.

Excerpt from “Return to Zero” (Shatterproof Bond #3)

“SAM! Are ye home?” Declan hollered as he opened the front door. “Sam?”

“In here.” Sam’s distant voice filtered from the spare bedroom. Declan was in a buoyant mood, at last, after weeks of waiting, he’d received a call from his boss. He sauntered confidently towards the bedroom and knocked once before walking in.

“Why d’ye no’ pick up? I’ve called ye, like, six times already! James wants us in fera meet —” Declan stopped, and in the way,only Sam Aiken could do, the breath was stolenfrom his lungs.

Declan’s yoga mat was laid out in the centerof the large bedroom floor, and upon it, a shamelessly nude Sam Aiken was facing the tall antique mirror that rested against the wall. He was on his belly, his back bowed, and his palmspushing against the floor as his shoulders rose in the midst of the cobra pose.

Declan slumped to sit silently on the king-size bed and watch. He stared, bug-eyed and slack-jawedat all of that flawless pale skin, wrapped around an athletic, slim frame. Declan adored how pliant and supple Sam was. He reveledin the sight of corded muscles moving beneath the taut surface of the younger man’s skin, like the workings of a well-honedmachine.

Ignoring his voyeur, Sam pushed himself up from the cobra pose, so he sat back on his calves. He closed his eyes and focused on his breath, and then, when he was ready, placed his palms flat on the mat, level with his knees. Then, putting all of his weight on his hands, Sam drew his legs out to either side of his body, doing the splits, balancing solely on his hands.

Declan’s bearded jaw dropped open, and his heart skipped a beat at the impressive sight. The mirror allowed Declan to observe Sam from many angles, and the view was exquisite. He knew there was a reason he was home early, but, whatever the hell it was, it could wait.

Sam aligned his legs and boughtthem up above his head, so he was in a handstand position, and there he stayed for a minute, his breath shallow and barely audible. There was not one tremble in any of Sam’s muscles. It was awe inspiring. Sam was the very picture of oneness—strength, control, balance, and agility. The lines of Sam’s form were sinuous and erotic, and there was no stopping the hot, hot hunger that made Declan’s whole being shudder with need.

Sam’s spine arched back and with incredible discipline, his body bowed slowly, until the soles of his feet were placed firmly on the yoga mat, and Sam was in the crab position. He was trying so desperately to focus on his ownbreath and to remain centered, but Declan was breathing heavily through his nose, like a stag readying for the rut, and even though Sam could not actuallysee him, Declan’s presence always came with the prickle of otherworldly electricity. It reallywas like they were magnetized.

The sound of heavy breathing was doing things to Sam’s body that he just could not control. His heart beat faster, beads of sweat littered his brow and formed on his chest, and his pale cock reddened, filled and rose majestically, providing an extra spectacle for his handsome observer. Sam arched his spine to its capacityand inched to his toes and fingertips. He stayed like that, his muscles clenched tight and his cockstanding straight as a flagpole awaiting its flag. After a minute, he slowly unclenched his muscles and allowed his body to ease its way gently back to the mat. Each movement still effortlessly controlled.

This naked yoga routine was on the list of the most erotic things that Declan had ever seen in his life. And now that Sam was on his back, his eyes closed, with arms stretched above his head. Declan decided that this was his opportunity to pounce.

© Isobel Starling 2016

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COUNTERBLOW (Book #4)

After the devastating events in the Scottish Highlands, Sam and Declan have moved on to a new, deeper level in their romance. Their commitment to each other is unquestionable; however, there are plenty of questions that need answering about other aspects of their lives, and those who sought to end them.

Sam is trying his best to deal with the day to day frustrations of his injuries. He’s completely dependent on Declan for everything and hates the way the scales have tipped in their relationship. Although he’s officially on leave, Sam’s mind cannot stop replaying all that happened to him and questioning why, and who is behind it all.

Declan’s relief at having Sam home throws him into house-husband mode. He’s happy to take the reins and care for his partner, however, beneath the surface Declan cannot help but be drawn back to how he felt in the Highlands, and how they were betrayed by a man who was supposed to have their back. Declan had promised Sir James Aiken that he would pay if he hurt Sam, and now Declan has to decide how he can deliver his payback and put his and Sam’s world back on an even keel.

Catch up with the Shatterproof Bond series in Kindle Unlimited before

book #5 “Powder Burns” is released in the spring.

Series Buy Links

Available on Kindle Unlimited, in Paperback, and on Audible.

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible.com | Audible UK

AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT AND REVIEW TOUR SCHEDULE

About the Author

Isobel’s novel “As You Wish” (Shatterproof Bond #1) is an Amazon Best Seller on Amazon.com and Amazon France. Nine novels into her writing career Isobel has just released The Shatterproof Bond box set which contains all three novels in the series, and the first book in the M/M Romantic Comedy mystery series “Dick and the Sidekick” -“Detective Fox and the Christmas Caper”.

“As You Wish” has been translated into French under the title “Comme Vous Voudrez”
The rest of the Shatterproof Bond novels will soon be available in French and German.

Find Isobel Starling here:

Facebook  | Twitter | WebsiteAmazon Author PageGoodreads

~

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Release blitz and #giveaway: The Burning of Arbor by J.L. Brown

Title:  The Burning of Arbor
Series: The Witches of Arbor, Book One
Author: J.L. Brown
Publisher:  NineStar Press
Release Date: April 16, 2018
Heat Level: 2 – Fade to Black Sex
Pairing: Female/Female/Male (Female/Female interaction)
Length: 101400
Genre: Paranormal, Urban Fantasy, LGBT, paranormal, witches, bisexual, polyamory, religion

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Synopsis

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

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

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

Excerpt

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

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

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

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

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

SUNDAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I’m afraid so.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You know I can’t leave Maggie.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Purchase

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

Meet the Author

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

Website | Facebook | Twitter

 

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Pre-order “Angel and Firebird”

aaf coming soon

Pre-orders are available for Angel and Firebird now. As usual, JMS Books offers 20% off the pre-order, but it’s available in other stores too. Clickety-click any of the links below and make this author very happy! 🙂

Five years ago, Phoenix lost his lover Gabriel, his angel, in a horrific hate crime. All he wanted was to follow him into death and he struggled a long time trying to get his life back together. All this time later he still hasn’t been able to put the past behind him and forget about the love of his life.

On the anniversary of Gabriel’s death—and 25th birthday—Phoenix’ apartment building catches fire. Will Phoenix do the reasonable thing, or will he rise from the ashes to reunite with his beloved angel?

JMS Books | Amazon US | Amazon UK | B&N | Kobo | iTunes

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Release blitz and #giveaway: Beholden by Kris T. Bethke

 

Length: 42,000 words approx.
Cover Design: Written Ink Designs
Publisher: JMS Publishing
 
Blurb

Julian Thomas made the unpopular decision to become Beholden and focus his magic only on scrying. Because of it, he’s the best at his job and the top scryer for the Department of Extranormal and Magical Affairs. Which why Investigations Agent Wes Caldwell goes right to Julian for help locating a missing person.

When Wes needs to use his magic to boost Julian’s, they find a magical resonance between them that quickly leads to more. Julian doesn’t want to move too fast, but Wes knows Julian is it for him. He’s fine with waiting, as long as Julian stays close as they work through it.

But then Julian falls ill, and it’s clear there’s a magical reason. Wes will stop at nothing to find out what’s plaguing Julian, and when they realize just how deep the plot goes, they have more questions than answers. Magic is increasing in the world, and no one can figure out why. Julian and Wes have found love, but will it be enough to get them through what’s to come?

Excerpt

“Better?” Wes asked eventually. “Feel more centered and focused now?”

I nodded. Then I sat back a little so I could see his face. I wrapped my arms around his neck, and tucked my fingers down the collar of his dress shirt, not wanting to lose too much contact with his skin. “Yes, thank you.”

“First things first,” Wes said, his voice all business and his face serious. “Are we bonded?”

I sucked in a breath, surprised he’d made that leap. But he had to know that we weren’t. If we’d made a bond, even an unintentional one, he would feel the pull as much as I did. “Of course not.”

He just nodded his head, like that was the answer he expected. “But you feel better when you’re touching me. When you can pull on my magic to augment your own?”

I released a sigh, and couldn’t quite stop myself from snuggling just a tiny bit closer. I shrugged one shoulder. “Yes. Like I said, your magic fits with mine. So it’s easy and natural to use you as a source. I’m sorry about that.”

He glared at me like I had said something stupid. “Don’t be ridiculous. There’s nothing to apologize for. It’s not like you did it on purpose. Right?”

That last bit was said with just a tiny bit of accusation. I tried not to be offended. “No, I didn’t do it on purpose.”

Wes just squinted at me. “So then, we have to figure out what’s going on with you, what’s pulling on your power. Until then, you just need to stick close to me so I can keep you stable.”

I gave an indignant huff. “That’s hardly practical. We’ve both got jobs to do. You seriously can’t expect us to stay in each other’s pockets because I have a little sense of fatigue. You’re getting a little extreme there, buddy.” I tried to pull away from him but he held me fast, and gave me a look that I couldn’t quite interpret.

“You’ve got someone else that can keep your magic and your energy up?”

“Well, no,” I answered honestly. I’d never met anyone whose magic fit so well with mine. “But that doesn’t mean you can just drop everything and keep me stable. That thought is just-” I cast about for a suitable word and finally settled on, “preposterous.”

Wes just gave a snort, sounding amused. “I can do whatever I want. And I don’t want you lying in bed barely able to function. That serves no one. So you’ll just have to be ‘in my pocket’ until we can figure it out and fix you. There has to be some magical means at work here. And I am an Investigations Agent. I’ll investigate.”

His tone was playful, cajoling, and I wanted to smile, but this was too serious. We barely knew each other and, my crush notwithstanding, he couldn’t just drop everything to take care of me. He wasn’t making any sense.

 
Author Bio

Kris T. Bethke has been a voracious reader for pretty much her entire life and has been writing stories for nearly as long. An avid and prolific daydreamer, she always has a story in her head. She spends most of her free time reading, writing, or knitting/crocheting her latest project. Her biggest desire is to find a way to accomplish all three tasks at one time. A classic muscle car will always turn her head, and naps on the weekend are one of her greatest guilty pleasures. She lives in a converted attic with a way too fluffy cat and the voices in her head. She’ll tell you she thinks that’s a pretty good deal. Kris believes that love is love, no matter the gender of people involved, and that all love deserves to be celebrated.


Find her on her site https://kristbethke.com
Facebook https://www.facebook.com/people/Kris-T-Bethke/100014524539852
or on Twitter https://twitter.com/kristbethke

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Release blitz and #giveaway: The Contingency Plan by Addison Albright

Length: 8,040 words approx.
Publisher: JMS Publishing
 
Blurb

A sheltered prince. A sudden death. An unexpected choice. How will Prince Marcelo react to discovering he’s The Contingency Plan?

For eighteen years, there has been peace between Sheburat and the kingdom of Zioneven. The untimely death of a princess throws the marriage arrangement — the final phase to complete the terms of the treaty — into disarray, and the contingency plan is put into motion. Now the Crown Prince of Zioneven gets to make his own choice from among the princess’s younger siblings.

As a rare royal son in the matriarchal sovereignty of Sheburat, Prince Marcelo grew up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period. Except, Prince Efren isn’t from Sheburat, and he has other plans.

 

Excerpt
With everyone now in attendance, Queen Giselle stepped forward. “Your Royal Highness, Ladies and Lords, and people of Zioneven, please accept our warm welcome to Sheburat, and I hope you’ll accept our sincere apology for the chaos in which you find us today.”

Prince Efren inclined his head. “Of course, Your Majesty. On behalf of Zioneven, I offer our heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved daughter.”

“Thank you,” Queen Giselle replied. “Sadly, our loss yesterday affects more than simply causing us private pain.”

“Indeed.” Prince Efren kept his reply short, perhaps diplomatically leaving it to Queen Giselle to either further the conversation toward whether or not he was ready to choose his alternate, or to wait for a time when her grief would be less immediate.

His mother would put diplomacy first, Marcelo didn’t doubt that. The conversation may or may not happen today, but it would occur during this visit. Diplomacy always came ahead of personal concerns.

“Although disappointment caused by the cancellation of the wedding we’d expected tomorrow is unavoidable,” Queen Giselle said. “I hope you’ll find a small comfort in knowing that you may now make your own choice of your future bride from among my younger daughters rather than the arrangement made on your behalf at the tender age of five.”

Again, Prince Efren inclined his head. “Sibling.”

“I’m sorry?”

“Sibling. The terms of the treaty specify I may choose an alternate from among Princess Marcela’s younger siblings. It didn’t restrict the choice to daughters.”

Marcelo stiffened. What in the world could Prince Efren mean by that? Men didn’t marry men. At least, he’d never heard of such a thing occurring in Sheburat. Marcelo wasn’t alone in his bewilderment. Everyone on his side of the room stilled. None of the faces opposite them exhibited confusion. Was that an acceptable option in Zioneven’s culture?

It was only by mere minutes, but Marcelo did qualify as a younger sibling to Marcela.

For the first time in Marcelo’s recollection, his mother faltered. “Do…surely…but…”

Marcelo turned his head toward her, his wide eyes silently imploring her to voice an objection. Kemble may have recently grown complacent thinking herself in the clear, but she’d at least spent her life knowing she was the likely backup plan.

As a royal son in this matriarchal society, Marcelo had grown up knowing he would never marry. Never. Royal sons did not marry. Period.

He’d been perfectly happy with that knowledge because he’d never experienced the attraction that men outside the royal family felt toward women. In fact, he’d enjoyed knowing he would not have to merge his life with a woman’s with the expectation of having to bed her.

His gaze flicked back and forth between Queen Giselle and Prince Efren before settling on the prince. Prince Efren had kept his eyes locked with the queen’s, but as if sensing Marcelo’s scrutiny, his head turned to reflect Marcelo’s regard.

Marcelo’s heart thudded so vigorously in his chest, surely everyone in the room must hear it. His respiration quickened. That single word uttered by Prince Efren had shattered Marcelo’s understanding of everything he knew about the world and had expected in his life.

Queen Giselle remained frozen for a few more moments, her brows drawn together as she processed the unexpected direction of this discussion. She cast a brief, apologetic glance toward Marcelo, then lifted her shoulders in a barely visible shrug. “The treaty does indeed use that word. Prince Efren, the choice is yours.”

Marcelo’s stomach dropped as her words echoed through the silent hall even though he’d known in his heart that she’d put Sheburat before her son’s individual concerns. So, he felt no personal betrayal. It was who is mother had to be.

Prince Efren continued to stare at Marcelo as he firmly stated, “I choose His Royal Highness, Prince Marcelo. The wedding will proceed tomorrow as planned.”

Marcelo swayed as the blood drained from his face. How could this be? How did such a marriage work? Would he be expected to—

“Marcelo?” Suky’s whispered tone voiced her concern. “Are you unwell?”

She repeated the words, but from farther away. Or did her voice only seem distant? He wobbled as the people around him faded, and then, thankfully, this nightmare all went away.

Addison Albright is a writer living in the middle of the USA. Her stories are gay (sometimes erotic) romance in contemporary, fantasy, and paranormal genres. Her education includes a BS in Education with a major in mathematics and a minor in chemistry. Addison loves spending time with her family, reading, popcorn, boating, french fries, “open window weather,” cats, math, and anything chocolate. She loves to read pretty much anything and everything, anytime and anywhere.

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Cover reveal and release date!

May 12. Mark that date on your calendars, because that’s the release day of my upcoming short story (very very short, approximately 5K words) Angel and Firebird. 🎉🎈🍾🥂

The story has a very bittersweet feeling to it, but even though you might need some Kleenex when you read it, there’s still a HEA.

Wanna see the cover? I love it. I think it fits the mood of the story perfectly. 😍

angelandfirebird

Five years ago, Phoenix lost his lover Gabriel, his angel, in a horrific hate crime. All he wanted was to follow him into death and he struggled a long time trying to get his life back together. All this time later, he still hasn’t been able to put the past behind him and forget about the love of his life.

On the anniversary of Gabriel’s death—and 25th birthday—Phoenix’ apartment building catches fire. Will Phoenix do the reasonable thing, or will he rise from the ashes to reunite with his beloved angel?

Release Day: May 12, 2018