Nell Iris


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Review tour and #giveaway: Year One (Would It Be Okay To Love You #2) by Amy Tasukada

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 22,000 words approx
 
Blurb
A robot fanboy. An erotic voice actor. Will their secrets overwhelm their love?

 

Sato doesn’t get out much. The anime company accountant spends his days at a desk and his nights working on his own small-scale robots. His geeky life is like a dream, but it has just one piece missing…

The world only knows Aoi for his moans. The erotic voice actor has legions of fangirls obsessed with his gasps of simulated ecstasy. And his new boyfriend Sato can barely handle the attention.

As Aoi’s popularity rises and secrets about his past begin to reveal themselves, can the accountant and the voice actor rise above their problems to create something real?

Year One is a short story anthology collection unlike anything you’ve ever read. If you like geeky settings, and sweet romance, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s slice-of-life story.

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My review:

This is the published version of Amy Tasukada’s monthly newsletter about Aoi and Sato. The reader is treated to a glimpse of the couple’s lives every month and because of the format, it’s low angst.

Aoi and Sato are cute and I love following along as they grow closer as a couple over the year and being there for important milestones like moving in together. I appreciate how they both are trying to show their love and appreciation for one another. Like in the March chapter when Sato wants to dazzle Aoi with his cooking for White Day, but even though he’s planned it perfectly and practiced the meal several times, he fails when when the big day arrives. He’s understandably miserable, but Aoi does his best to cheer him up. I love those intimate moments between them.

Both characters are adorable. Aoi’s job as an erotic voice actor (a professional moaner) is very creative, but Sato is my favorite of the two. He’s a bona fide geek and lives for gundam and spread sheets, but he’s not portrayed with any negativity. Instead, Amy Tasukada celebrates his geekiness and I love that.

One of my favorite things about Amy Tasukada’s writing is her meticulous research. Every little detail is correct and it’s evident that she’s spent hours and hours checking her facts and getting everything just right. One of my pet peeves are when authors get easily googlable facts wrong, so I really appreciate a writer who’s done their due diligence.

I can’t write this review without mentioning the fabulous illustrations. Every month there’s drawing to go with the story, and Alexandra Pilzner has done an amazing job in capturing Aoi and Sato. I couldn’t decide which one was my favorite, but it’s between March when Sato burns dinner, or June when Aoi hides from the cat in the bathroom (look at that little paw under the door! So cute!)

aoi and sato

If you’re in the mood for a quick, sweet read with lots of Japanese flavor, this is just the story for you.

5-stars

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September 11 – Bayou Book Junkie, Gay Book Reviews
September 13 – Wicked Reads
September 15 – The Novel Approach
September 20 – Alpha Book Club, Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Nell Iris, Bayou Book Junkie

Author Bio
 

Amy Tasukada lives in North Texas with a calico cat called O’Hara. As an only child her day dreams kept her entertained, and at age ten she started to put them to paper. Since then her love of writing hasn’t cease. She can be found drinking hot tea and filming Japanese street fashion hauls on her Youtube channel.

 

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Release Blitz and #giveaway: Manic Pixie Dream Boy by K.A. Merikan

Today I welcome K.A. Merikan to the blog, who’s out on tour for their new release Manic Pixie Dream Boy. When I saw the title, I just had to participate. Isn’t it the most adorable title you’ve heard?? Everything about this book just screams to me, the title, the blurb, the description of the characters…and I just have to read it. But first, let’s make Kat and Agnes feel welcome and wish them happy release day! 🙂
Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 52,000 words approx 
Cover Design: Natasha Snow
Blurb
 

You can’t hide the cracks under the spotlight
Dusk. Leader of The Underdogs. Destined for greatness. Lives in the now.
Abe. AKA Lolly. Iridescent. Unicorn.

All Dusk wants out of life is for his band to become world famous. He also wants to have a lot of fun along the way. And to get his rocks off. When he wants something, he goes for it, consequences be damned.

So when he sees a gorgeous pink-haired guy who is the human equivalent of tattooed cotton candy, he can’t help but have a taste. But it’s when Lolly ends up on their tour bus that Dusk knows their meeting was destiny.

Abe is the kind of guy who goes with the flow. He was hitchhiking anyway, so why not spend the week with a hot piece of rocker beefcake, getting smothered by his sexy long hair? And why not play the part of the supportive cutie while he’s at it? It’s not like he’d be sticking around for long anyway.

All plans hit a wall when photos of Abe and Dusk emerge online, suddenly pushing the band into the spotlight. To take advantage of the sudden popularity, the band offers Abe money for staying.

Which means money for being in a fake relationship with Dusk.

Which isn’t even fake.

Or is it?

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Release blitz and #giveaway: Between a Rock and a Hard Place (London Lads) by Clare London

Length: 19,598 words
Cover Design: Tibbs Design

 

London Lads Series:
Chase The Ace (Book #1) Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner
How The Other Half Lives (Book #2) Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner
A Good Neighbour (Book #3)  Amazon US | Amazon UK  Dreamspinner 
Peepshow (Book #4)  Amazon US | Amazon UK | Dreamspinner
 
Blurb
 

Garry’s at the end of his tether. He’s waiting at Glasgow Airport to meet his friend Will, on their way to a holiday in a Scottish Highlands hotel. Now there’s a ten-hour delay to incoming flights, the seat in the lounge is more like an instrument of torture, and he’s beyond tired of airport food.

He’s also dreading having to apologise for the pass he recently made at Will, his colleague at a London bank, under the influence of too many beers and a long-held crush. Now Will’s been offered a new job offer on a continent thousands of miles away, Garry realises it may be the end of their close friendship—let alone anything more.

To add to Garry’s stress, he’s treated to the company of Emily and Max, two young people who think he needs educating in the ways of the world. Struggling with their well-meaning help and the startling mess from spilled ketchup and noxious-smelling sweets, he’s encouraged to re-examine how he feels about Will and to decide what kind of journey he’d really like them to take together.

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Guest Post: Drama Cruise (Audiobook) by Joe Cosentino

Today I have a guest on my blog: Joe Cosentino is here to talk about turning his books into audiobooks. Welcome Joe!

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NICKY AND NOAH GET VERBAL

THE AUDIOBOOK OF DRAMA CRUISE (the third Nicky and Noah mystery), by Joe Cosentino, performed by Brad Enright

When I went to the Rainbow Book Fair in New York City, guides directed inquiring people my way. When the readers arrived at my table, they asked me how I think up all those hysterically funny lines of dialogue, and crafty cozy Nicky and Noah mysteries. I was in book fair heaven. Finally, they wanted to know why all of the books aren’t yet on audiobook. I was happy to tell them the first three novels have now gone verbal with delightful audiobooks bringing Nicky and Noah to audio life.

For those of who have not yet read the series (and you should!), as a college theatre professor/department head, I created a gay, cozy mystery, comedy series taking place at fictitious Treemeadow College, founded by gay couple Tree and Meadow. Four books are out at present with four more set for release over the next two years. The settings are cozy, the clues and murders (and laughs) come fast and furious, and there are enough plot twists and turns and a surprise ending to keep the pages turning quickly. At the center is a touching gay romance between Play Directing professor Nicky Abbondanza and Acting professor Noah Oliver. Reviewers called the series “hysterically funny farce,” “Murder She Wrote meets Hart to Hart meets The Hardy Boys,” “a romantic joyride,” and “a captivating whodunit.” In Drama Queen (Divine Magazine’s Favorite Mystery of the Year) Nicky directs the college play and college theatre professors drop like stage curtains. Nicky and Noah use their theatre skills, including impersonating other people, to figure out whodunit. In Drama Muscle (Rainbow Award Honorable Mention) Nicky and Noah don their gay Holmes and Watson personas again to find out why bodybuilding students and professors in the bodybuilding show on campus are dropping faster than barbells. In Drama Cruise it is summer on a ten-day cruise from San Francisco to Alaska and back. Nicky and Noah must figure out why college theatre professors are going overboard like life rafts as Nicky directs a murder mystery dinner theatre show onboard ship starring Noah and other college theatre professors from across the US. Complicating matters are Nicky and Noah’s both sets of wacky parents and Nicky and Noah’s department head and his husband who are all along for the ride. Drama Luau is next, where Nicky directs a hula luau show in a Hawaiian resort and muscle men drop faster than their grass skirts. Once again it’s up to Nicky and Noah to solve the mystery before they end up in the pig roast pit.

The first-person narrative, humor, and theatrical style of the novels make them perfect for the audiobook venue. I was incredibly lucky to find a multi-talented voiceover artist and actor to capture the unique sense of humor, captivating mystery, sexy romance, and over twenty different characters in each of the novels. Michael Gilboe did a fine job with Drama Queen, and Chip Hurley was also terrific in Drama Muscle.

Luck was still with me when I found Brad Enright to perform Drama Cruise. Brad has a masculine, sexy voice that is full of emotion. His sense of humor matches with Nicky’s perfectly. Finally, Brad’s character voices, both male and female, will leave you in awe, as you wonder how one person can play all those roles. After Brad and I discussed the characters, humor, and emotions in the novel, he went to work on his state of the art audio equipment to create the audiobook. He was always open to my feedback and appreciated my comments and advice along the way. Upon hearing the audiobook, I laughed out loud numerous times, and the ending surprised me—and I wrote the book! If you need a good laugh (and who doesn’t nowadays), some sweet gay romance, and a brain-twisting mystery (to keep the little gray cells active), listen to this recently released audiobook and have a ball!

And do it now. The audiobook for Drama Luau, the fourth Nicky and Noah mystery, is in the works, followed by the e-book/paperback release of DRAMA DETECTIVE, the fifth Nicky and Noah mystery, on October 28! The game is afoot!

New release! Drama Cruise, third Nicky and Noah comedy mystery audiobook, by Joe Cosentino, performed by Brad Enright

Buy links: 
Amazon US | Amazon UK | Audible | B&N | Smashwords

Drama Cruise

Blurb:
Theater professors and couple, Nicky Abbondanza and Noah Oliver, are going overboard as usual, but this time on an Alaskan cruise, where dead college theatre professors are popping up everywhere from the swimming pool to the captain’s table. Further complicating matters are Nicky’s and Noah’s parents as surprise cruise passengers, and Nicky’s assignment to direct a murder mystery dinner theater show onboard ship. Nicky and Noah will need to use their drama skills to figure out who is bringing the curtain down on vacationing theatre professors before it is lights out for the handsome couple. You will be applauding and shouting Bravo for Joe Cosentino’s fast-paced, side-splittingly funny, edge-of-your-seat entertaining third novel in this delightful series. Curtain up and ship ahoy!

Language: English
Cover Art: Denny Minonne
Cover Design: Inkspiral Design
Time: 6 hours
Release date: August 10, 2017divider bluePraise for DRAMA CRUISE (the third Nicky and Noah mystery):

“Superb fun from start to finish, for me this series gets stronger with every book and that’s saying something because the benchmark was set so very high with book 1.” Three Books Over the Rainbow

“I have been an avid reader of Joe Cosentino’s books for some time and he has yet to let me down. His ability to write highly original, yet somehow realistic, characters is one of his greatest strengths as a writer. Their quirks and personalities fill the pages in a way that makes for a fabulously entertaining and totally engrossing read. I loved this book and highly recommend it to lovers of farce, humour, murder mystery and sweet MM love stories.” Divine Magazine

“Joe Cosentino does it again with Drama Cruise, the third Nicky and Noah mystery. I loved the humor, drama, and theater work inside. Plus, the romance and murder investigation keep readers turning the pages. Absolutely, must read this latest book in the series.” Urban Book Reviews

“If you are looking for a good, funny book to shake the blahs, love mystery, humor and romance, and a story with a twist or two, you’re bound to love this.” Cathy Brockman Romances

“The characters are charming and entertaining….had me in stitches….This is the delightful third episode in the Nicky and Noah Mystery series. It is a fun-filled and entertaining murder mystery for LGBT cozy mystery fans.” Readers’ Favorite

“Each (Nicky and Noah mystery) is a wonderful mixture of sex, comedy, romance and murder, but when Cosentino took it to an Alaska cruise and the high seas, well, it tossed it up into theatrically delicious magic….I loved this story. I love this couple. What on earth is going to happen to them next? I can’t wait to find out.” Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words

“The Nicky and Noah Mysteries series are perfect for fans of the Cozy Mystery sub-genre. They mix tongue-in-cheek humor, over-the-top characters, a wee bit of political commentary, and suspense into a sweet little mystery solved by Nicky and Noah, theatre professors for whom all the world’s a stage.” Prism Book Alliance

“As this highly entertaining story rolls on, I find myself laughing and getting into the who- done-it craze. This is a great book, it made me feel happy just reading it. The main characters are almost perfect, which just makes things better.” Crystal’s Many Reviewers

“fast-paced, action-packed story….fabulous cast of characters….if you love a murder mystery then this book is for you.” Books Laid Bare Boys

“The humor is laugh-out-loud, he didn’t just say that, funny. The scenes of affection occur mostly off-stage, behind closed doors, yet remain joyfully suggestive and highly sensual. Every character gets his due and the ending will have you sniffling with happiness.” Diane Nelson, Sand in My Shoes Reviewsdivider blueBestselling author Joe Cosentino was voted Favorite LGBT Mystery, Humorous, and Contemporary Author of the Year by the readers of Divine Magazine for Drama Queen. He also wrote the other novels in the Nicky and Noah mystery series: Drama Muscle, Drama Cruise (Lethe Press), Drama Luau, Drama Detective, Drama Fraternity, Drama Castle; the Dreamspinner Press novellas: In My Heart/An Infatuation & A Shooting Star, A Home for the Holidays, The Perfect Gift, The Naked Prince and Other Tales from Fairyland, The Perfect Gift; the Cozzi Cove series: Cozzi Cove: Bouncing Back, Cozzi Cove: Moving Forward, Cozzi Cove: Stepping Out, Cozzi Cove: New Beginnings (NineStar Press); and the Jana Lane mysteries: Paper Doll, Porcelain Doll, Satin Doll, China Doll, Rag Doll (The Wild Rose Press). He has appeared in principal acting roles in film, television, and theatre, opposite stars such as Bruce Willis, Rosie O’Donnell, Nathan Lane, Holland Taylor, and Jason Robards. Joe is currently Chair of the Department/Professor at a college in upstate New York, and is happily married. Joe was voted 2nd Place Favorite LGBT Author of the Year in Divine Magazine’s Readers’ Choice Awards, and his books have received numerous Favorite Book of the Month Awards and Rainbow Award Honorable Mentions.

Web: http://www.JoeCosentino.weebly.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JoeCosentinoauthor
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JoeCosen
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4071647.Joe_Cosentino
Amazon: Author.to/JoeCosentino

 


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Release blitz and #giveaway: Tops Down Bottoms Up by Jay Northcote

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
 
Length: 23,000 words approx 
 
 
Blurb

Will Rowan’s festival fling with sexy dancer Seth lead to something more permanent?

Rowan is stuck at a folk festival helping out a mate, and it really isn’t his scene. The yoga and singing workshops are bad enough, but morris dancing is the final straw. Bearded men with beer guts prancing around wearing bells—who wants to watch that?

All Rowan’s preconceptions are shattered when he meets Seth—a morris dancer, and the stuff Rowan’s fantasies are made of. Seth persuades Rowan to come to a dancing workshop, and Rowan’s willing to do whatever it takes to get to know Seth better. The attraction is mutual, and a lesson filled with innuendo and flirting leads to an incredible night together.

When Rowan arrives home, he’s gutted to find that Seth has given him the wrong phone number. Assuming Seth did it on purpose, Rowan resolves to forget about him. But fate—and friends—conspire to get them back together. Will they manage to stay in step this time around?

A much shorter version of this story was originally published in the Not Quite Shakespeare Anthology by Dreamspinner Press. This version has been revised and extended. Almost half of it is new content.

Author Bio

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.

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Antisocial by Heidi Cullinan: #BlogTour #teaser #giveaway

Today, I am honored and happy to welcome Heidi Cullinan to my blog. Heidi is on tour for her new release Antisocial, and she’s one of the main reasons I love this genre so much. The first M/M book I ever read was Nowhere Ranch, and I absolutely loved it. I adored the characters—especially Roe—and I was in awe of the juxtaposition between the kinkiness and the intense emotional connection between the Roe and Travis.

It remains one of my favorite books to this day and it makes it extra special for me to have Heidi as a guest here on my blog. So please, join me in welcoming Heidi and let’s talk about Antisocial 🙂

 

Antisocial_Facebook

Thanks so much for having me here today, Nell!

I’m here to give you a little teaser from my upcoming novel, Antisocial. Antisocial is a new adult gay and asexual romance set in a fictional college in upstate New York between a one-percenter fraternity boy and a highly antisocial artist. One encounter with Xander Fairchild’s artwork is enough to turn Skylar Stone’s carefully orchestrated life upside down, unlacing his secrets and inviting him into a secret anime-soaked world with a new set of friends. But will they be brave enough to embrace their fragile new relationship and let it last beyond the summer?

Here’s an excerpt from the novel. I hope you enjoy it!

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Excerpt:

Skylar arrived at the crooked bench at 12:20, ready to apologize for being late, only to discover Xander wasn’t there either. He frowned and pulled his phone out, wondering if he’d missed a message. It turned out he had.

sorry late b there soon

He tapped back a reply. No worries. See you when you get here. Then he sat on the bench, stared out at the river, and exhaled a slow, happy breath as he drank in the view. He was so lost in his reverie he listened to the heavy breathing and sharp footsteps on brush for several seconds before his brain suggested he might, possibly, want to see who was running toward him so quickly.

It turned out Xander was running, looking like a racehorse run seven laps longer than he should have gone. His hair was matted with sweat, his face flushed, slender chest heaving as he leaned on a tree and gasped for air. He’d been walking by the time Skylar turned around, but he had the look about him people got when they were trying to appear they’d been walking the whole time but were in fact nearly dead from booking like hell. Thankfully Skylar processed that before he made the mistake of commenting on Xander’s bedraggled appearance. Instead, he smiled, held up the takeout bag, and shook it enticingly.

Xander offered the most fake, sorry excuse for a smile Skylar had ever seen, huffed a few more desperate breaths, and shuffled to the bench. He smelled of sweat, but it wasn’t worse than Unc in the kitchen after a run. What did concern Skylar was the way Xander’s hands shook, and the way he seemed like if he had the stamina left, he’d turn around and run the other direction.

The poor guy. Empathy washed through Skylar, followed by a renewed determination to save Xander. Or at least to teach him how to save himself.

Skylar set down the bag of food. “I got a smoked turkey with gouda, a vegetarian, and an order of hummus with veg. I love all of it, so pick what you want. Alternatively, if you can’t decide, I had them split the sandwiches, and we could mix and match.” When Xander mostly huffed and puffed, Sky passed over a bottle of water, uncapping it on the way. “Here, drink this. I’ll lay the food out like a picnic, and you can decide what you’re in the mood for.”

Xander took the bottle, hand still trembling as he glugged the liquid into his system.

Skylar kept track of him out of the corner of his gaze, making a show of getting up, crouching behind the bench, and laying out the spread in the space where he’d been sitting. “We’re so spoiled for great restaurants in Takaketo. I swear there’s a new one every week.”

Xander’s huffs and puffs had slowed. “We don’t have much in Mason.”

“Mason—you mean Mason City?” Yes, let’s chat a little bit about home. “You get back there much?”

“Not if I can help it.”

“I heard from the art department your mom is famous for her cookies.”

He’d known that was a potential land mine, but Skylar wasn’t prepared for the way Xander’s whole body tensed, how his entire system threatened to shut down. Shit, was that a miscalculation. He worried for a second Xander would bail.

But Xander didn’t, thankfully. He only nodded and said, his tone flat and conversation thread-ending, “Yes.”

Skylar cleared his throat and smiled, Silver Stone beam on full blast as he gestured to the food. “All right. Take your pick. And I promise, I’m happy with all of it, some of it, or however it shakes out.”

Xander hesitated only a moment before taking the whole of the turkey sandwich. “Usually I just have peanut butter.”

Having noticed that, this was why Skylar brought the vegetarian option. “I’m happy to provide a treat, then.”

“I can give you money.” Xander looked awkward, like he wasn’t sure if he should have said that.

Skylar gave him a breezy wave. “It’s a paltry exchange for your painting, but it’s a start at least.”

He didn’t miss the way talking about Xander’s art made his whole demeanor change—he was still guarded, but eager, too, like a starving man afraid to accept sustenance.

Skylar let him dig into the sandwich for a minute or so, but when the silence seemed too much, he pressed on. “I have to admit, I’m entirely jealous of your ability to create art like that.”

“To be honest, usually it feels like a relief, because by the time I’m halfway through I’m convinced it’s shit, and getting out of it is like escaping a portal of hell.”

That made Skylar laugh. “Come on. You don’t have to be modest.”

Xander grimaced at his sandwich. “It’s not modesty. I haven’t created a project and not felt like I’d gone outside without pants since I was ten.”

“But surely I’m not the first person to tell you your work is incredible.”

“It’s not that.” He worried the crust of his bread. “I think most artists feel that way. You start excited about the idea, like a honeymoon phase. Halfway through it all gets real, and doubt creeps in. You have to keep pushing. Eventually you’re done, and you have your work. But it’s rarely this big, satisfying thing. Because you worry you didn’t do it right, or stopped too soon, or went on too long, or that you’ve lost the spark that got you started.”

Skylar considered this as he chewed a bite of hummus-laden carrot. “Okay, when I do a project, I feel that way in the middle too, but by the end I feel satisfied because I can see it’s successful. I’m not saying I don’t see where I could improve the next time, but I have a sense of accomplishment, for sure. You’re saying you don’t have any sense of satisfaction?”

He thought back to the writing he used to do, way back when, but decided against bringing it up. It would be too embarrassing, compared to what Xander could do.

“Maybe some, but not always, and not like you’re talking about. Da Vinci said ‘art is never finished, only abandoned.’”

Skylar raised an eyebrow. “I thought it was Paul Valéry talking about poetry who said that.”

“Whoever said it, I cosign the sentiment. Art is never, ever as magical on canvas as it is in my head. I’ve come to terms with that, which I can tell you, took some time. But every finished project will be bittersweet because when I put the brush down, no matter how much other people like it, I only ever look at it and see the ghost of the idea I couldn’t capture.”

All the shakiness was gone from Xander now. He wasn’t exactly happy, but he was definitely centered in a way he hadn’t been before. Art truly was his zone—though maybe, Skylar thought, his own wheels turning, Xander’s wider brush was the creative process. He slid a piece of cucumber through the hummus. “So talk to me about why you didn’t like the painting you gave me. Were you too caught up with the failure to realize your vision?”

“No. The focal point wasn’t strong enough, and I didn’t have enough color balance. I didn’t like the texture, either. It didn’t do what I wanted it to do.”

“But I love that painting. Does that mean I don’t know anything about art? I mean—okay. I don’t know anything about it. I’ve always wished I could draw, or even simply write.”

He hadn’t meant to say that. Hadn’t he decided not to bring that up? But his recalcitrant mind flickered to the stories he used to write at the summer house, and he wondered what had ever happened to those.

Clearing his throat, Skylar pushed those thoughts aside. “I don’t understand visual art. I admit that. But explain this to me…is your dislike of it an illustration of that failed vision, or is it something else?”

“No.” Xander leaned forward a little. He was intense now, focused and arresting. “See, this is the magic of art. I can love or hate my own work, but the viewer is who turns it into something. I made that painting, but you gave it life. Art isn’t real until it’s viewed.” He grimaced, lowering his sandwich, but even as he retreated, he still had his inner fire. “This is where I always get it wrong. I know I need to connect to people in order to understand my own art, but…I’ll be honest. I hate people.”

You don’t say. Skylar laughed. “Maybe that feeds your art, though. Maybe you don’t have to go to all the parties, just some of them.”

“I don’t want to go to any party, ever. I get nervous around people. I’d rather be by myself.”

And yet you ran until you nearly had a heart attack, hurrying to have lunch with me. “Even hermits need a few friends.”

“I’m a shitty friend. Ask Zelda. It’s better if I stick to cats.”

Zelda? Skylar wanted to ask about this Zelda person, but he knew better. Not yet. “You have cats?”

This turned out to be another point of entry, as Xander softened. “Yeah. Hokusai and Hiromu.”

The names sounded…familiar. Sky took a shot in the dark. “Painters?”

A tiny smile. “A printmaker and a manga artist. Both Japanese, as it happens. Hiromu—the cat—is a longhair, and a real softie. Gets her feelings hurt easy. Always wants me to hold her. Hokusai is an asshole, but he mostly gets bored. He can be good, when he feels like it.”

Cats and art. Skylar wanted to ask about the cats’ namesakes, especially the manga artist, but he tucked those points of entry away as topics to bring up the next time Xander started to shut down.

He considered, briefly, bringing up Hotay & Moo, but he had the same ridiculous fanboy flutter as the last time, so he didn’t go near the subject.

He kept the conversation light—asked Xander how much time he spent in his studio, at home, and at the college. Once Xander was fully at ease again, Sky led him gently into a more back-and-forth conversation, laying bait for Xander to ask him about his major, his life at the frat house. Unsurprisingly, the latter made Xander sour again. “I couldn’t imagine living with so many people.”

“It gets tough at times, I won’t lie. But when I need somebody, my brothers are there for me.” Skylar hesitated, a shadow falling over that line he’d said so many times. “It’s been a little tougher this year. The mural incident was a blow to our reputation, and the leadership hasn’t been as on point as I’d like. Next year may be even worse. But I can’t do much, because I’m only the risk management officer. Well—I’m not supposed to be doing much, but they keep acting like I’m still president.” He realized he shouldn’t have said that, and tried to sweep it under the rug with a smile. “Don’t mind me. I just can’t let go of the reins gracefully.”

Xander cocked an eyebrow, his look saying, I don’t believe you, but whatever you need to tell yourself.

Skylar’s phone buzzed in his pocket, and he pulled it out to glance at it. It was only Unc inviting him to a party he absolutely wouldn’t be going to, but the time caught him up short. “It’s already one thirty?”

Xander jolted, panicked. “Oh, shit. I have to get going.”

Skylar waved him on. “You go. I’ll pack this up. But I’ll see you tonight at seven, yes? At Java House? Or would it be more convenient for me to meet you at your studio this time?”

“I—I don’t know.” Xander ran a hand through his hair.

“Tell you what. Let’s make it seven thirty, and I’ll swing by your apartment and pick you up. Or we can stay there, if you’ve had enough running around town by that time.” He flashed his phone. “Just give me a text and let me know what you’d like to do.”

“Okay.” Xander hovered, looking like he wanted to say something, couldn’t find it, then hunched into himself and gave an awkward wave. “Bye.”

Skylar waved back, projecting as much nonthreatening confidence as he felt Xander could take. “See you later. Have a great day.”

He watched Xander go, then went about putting away the remains of their picnic. As his hands worked, so did his mind, rushing forward as it sifted and sorted everything he’d learned during lunch. He ruminated on it on the way back to Delta Sig, and when he got there, he gave the most perfunctory of greetings to Unc before hurrying to his room, opening his computer, and typing as furiously as he could. He ignored three texts from Carolyn—he wasn’t in the mood to go anywhere with her or any Tau-Kapp.

Art is not finished, only abandoned. The quote rang like a bell in his head, tearing down everything he’d set up for Xander’s project, and in the ruins he saw the glittering, terrible scaffolding of some art all his own.

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Blurb:

Antisocial_Digital_HighResA single stroke can change your world.

Xander Fairchild can’t stand people in general and frat boys in particular, so when he’s forced to spend his summer working on his senior project with Skylar Stone, a silver-tongued Delta Sig with a trust fund who wants to make Xander over into a shiny new image, Xander is determined to resist. He came to idyllic, Japanese culture-soaked Benten College to hide and make manga, not to be transformed into a corporate clone in the eleventh hour.

Skylar’s life has been laid out for him since before he was born, but all it takes is one look at Xander’s artwork, and the veneer around him begins to crack. Xander himself does plenty of damage too. There’s something about the antisocial artist’s refusal to yield that forces Skylar to acknowledge how much his own orchestrated future is killing him slowly…as is the truth about his gray-spectrum sexuality, which he hasn’t dared to speak aloud, even to himself.

Through a summer of art and friendship, Xander and Skylar learn more about each other, themselves, and their feelings for one another. But as their senior year begins, they must decide if they will part ways and return to the dull futures they had planned, or if they will take a risk and leap into a brightly colored future—together.

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Buy links: 

Amazon US ebookAmazon US paperbackAmazon UK ebookAmazon UK paperback |  Barnes & Noble | iTunes | Kobo | ScribdSmashwords

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Heidi Cullinan head shot_0

Heidi Cullinan has always enjoyed a good love story, provided it has a happy ending. Proud to be from the first Midwestern state with full marriage equality, Heidi is a vocal advocate for LGBT rights. She writes positive-outcome romances for LGBT characters struggling against insurmountable odds because she believes there’s no such thing as too much happy ever after. When Heidi isn’t writing, she enjoys playing with new recipes, reading romance and manga, playing with her cats, and watching too much anime. Find out more about Heidi at heidicullinan.com.

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Release blitz and #giveaway: As Big As The Sky by Amy Aislin

 

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK 
 
Length: 37,000 words
 
Publisher: MLR Press
 
Blurb
 

Sam wants nothing to do with his irresponsible, sarcastic neighbor…or does he?

Sam McAuley is having a rough start to the summer: Not only is he being sued, but the new guy running the animal rehabilitation center next door has no idea what he’s doing and his runaway chickens constantly end up in Sam’s pristine yard.

Everything is temporary for Bo Novak. For as long as he can remember, it’s been one town to the next, one school to the next, one job to the next. Even his current job—running his sister’s animal rehab center while she’s away on a four-month leave—is temporary. And he does know what he’s doing, thank you very much. Sure, things don’t always run smoothly, but the stick-in-the-mud next door could be a little nicer about it.

One overheard conversation, an olive branch, and a baseball game might show these guys that being at odds isn’t really what they want, and that what they want might just be each other.

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